Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New York's harvest of shame

That is the headline on an editorial which the New York Daily News wrote in support of New York's farmworkers.
Gov. Paterson minces no words in declaring that New York farmworkers deserve the same labor rights as everyone else, including a 40-hour week, overtime pay, a day off per week and the right to organize and bargain collectively.

The other day, Paterson recalled his support as a legislator for full labor rights for field hands, and said growers "are running a system ... analogous to what it was in 1880."

He has no animus toward the state's growers, having approved $40 million in aid to them. But, he said, "We're going to come back and start talking to them about wages that were fought for in 1910." Way to go, gov.

Albany Catholic recommends that you read the entire editorial, which is available here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Million Doors for Peace

National Day of Action: Be part of one of the most ambitious and innovative anti-war activities to date!

On Saturday, September 20 thousands of volunteers across the U.S. will knock on a Million Doors for Peace.

Volunteer door-knockers will ask people to sign an antiwar petition directed to Congress. Our message? End this immoral war, bring our troops home, and invest in America's future. In addition, we will encourage people to join local anti-war groups and engage in Get out the Vote work.

In order to reach a million people in a single day, the coalition will activate at least 25,000 volunteers in all 50 states. Peace groups have never implemented such an elaborate communication and organizing plan before now, but with new and traditional communications tools available, the coalition anticipates success with this groundbreaking, grassroots project.

We will provide trainings and training materials, petitions, walk map for your preferred canvass area, and handouts

SOA Watch is joining with United for Peace and Justice, US Action/True Majority, Win Without War, MoveOn and other organizations to make this day a success.

Click here to participate in the canvass.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Abortion and Obama

John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., writing in America magazine, offers some suggestions to Senator Obama on reducing the number of abortions.
1. Support the Rev. Jim Wallis’s “abortion-reduction agenda,” with its economic support for pregnant women and greater access to adoption as part of the Democratic platform.

2. If you are interested in diversity and mutual respect, give a place at the Democratic convention for Democrats for Life to show you are unafraid of difference and debate.

3. Engage the arguments and evidence offered in opposition to second- and third-trimester abortions. You may find that the position of most American men and women is quite different from Naral’s. The earlier stages of embryonic and fetal development are more contested. But even your Republican opponent supports embryonic stem cell research. Ask him, and all the Catholics who will vote for him, how this fits into their professed commitments.

Perhaps you owe some courageous people like Douglas Kmiec a bit of reciprocation. Kmiec, a pro-life Catholic law professor who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations, announced his support of you because of your approach to war, poverty and immigration. Because of this stand, he has been denied Communion at least once. Are you willing to risk excommunication from the church of Naral for a principled position on abortion?

Maybe they will call you that terrible name “flip-flopper.” But remember this: anyone who refuses to change a judgment in the face of irrefutable data is either a fool or a toady. And you, clearly, are neither. As I see you move more and more to the middle in matters of the economy and the war in Afghanistan, I wait. Will you move a bit to the middle on this matter of abortion?

A vociferous cadre in the Democratic Party has for too long wielded a dogmatic veto over any discussion of limiting abortions. With your commitment to reasoned, evidence-based and respectful discourse, are you able to challenge your party to welcome pro-life Catholics into its supposed big tent?

Albany Catholic recommends you read the entire article here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's a good day for a peace conference

Dennis Yusko at the Times Union writes about the annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference over in Fonda, which ends later today:
There's a stirring among area activists about the annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference, a desire to grow, get away from stereotypes and create "critical mass."

Organizers say it has grown in the last five years as the Iraq war, torture and government surveillance became national issues. The event will take place today and Saturday at a shrine on Route 5 in the Montgomery County community of Fonda that honors the 17th-century Mohawk Indian woman who has been proposed for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

But they say that they are looking to make the meeting's 10th edition, which starts Friday with dinner and a discussion, a new jumping off point for promoting a broader movement model: "responsible citizenship."

"There's a paradigm shift from national security to planetary sustainability," said Maureen Aumand of Colonie, who will make opening remarks for Saturday's workshops with John Amidon of Albany, a member of Veterans for Peace.

You can read more here. Albany Catholic hopes to see you there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Director for the New York State Fair Trade Coalition

Seeking Director for the New York State Fair Trade Coalition

The New York Fair Trade Coalition
(NYFTC) seeks an Executive Director to further the policy and political goals of our organization. The qualified candidate will have the skills to grow and maintain the NYFTC, including a background in areas of policy issue advocacy, coalition building, fundraising, media relations and grassroots lobbying.

This leader will establish and maintain effective external relations with member groups, strategic allies, potential stakeholders and government officials. He or she will have overall responsibility for the implementation of activities within the organization. The Executive Director reports to the CTC Director and NYFTC executive committee.

This position was formerly set at half-time, with an annual salary of $18,000. With proper commitment, fundraising and growth, this position could move to $3000 per month, or a $36,000 annual full time job. Salary range starts at $1500 per month. Payment structure and location are both negotiable.

The deadline for applications is August 11th, 2008 or until position is filled. To apply, please mail, email or fax a resume and one page cover letter to Andy Gussert. No phone calls please.

Contact Information:

Andrew Gussert
Director, Citizens Trade Campaign
PO Box 77077
Washington, DC 20013

Fax: 202-293-5308

The NYFTC is a state affiliate of the Citizens Trade Campaign, and will serve as a leading state advocacy vehicle in the fight against unfair trade policies based on NAFTA and CAFTA.

About CTC:

CTC was founded in 1992 to oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Our labor, environmental, family farm, religious and civil society groups are united in a common belief that international trade is not an end in itself, but is instead a means for achieving larger societal goals such as economic justice, human rights, healthy communities and a sound environment. We oppose current trade agreements tilted in favor of multinational corporations, and support fair trade policies that help working people.


Responsibilities include grassroots lobbying and public education; developing and maintaining membership; coalition building; fundraising; event planning; media work, including editorial board meetings, writing op-eds and planning press conference; public speaking; financial oversight, and all administrative duties associated with running a non-profit organization.

This position requires a self-starter and creative problem-solver, motivated by the issues, able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Duties Include:

Coordinate New York work with the Citizens Trade Campaign. Annually attend one Citizens Trade Campaign summit for state coalition leaders in Washington DC.
Nurture and maintain a NYFTC Executive Board.
Organize and implement campaigns on trade legislation at the federal and state levels.

Build the coalition, including outreach to labor unions and other organizations.
Maintain contact with New York Congressional Delegation on trade issues.
Generate newspaper stories, op-eds, radio coverage and media visibility.
Prepare monthly membership e-newsletter. Send action alerts as needed.
Build public actions including rallies, town hall forums, call-in days, etc.
Oversee fundraising for the Coalition from member organizations and other sources.
Convene monthly or quarterly NYFTC steering committee meetings.
Create annual strategic plan, in consultation with the steering committee and CTC.

Job Requirements:

Demonstrated leadership skills
High level of initiative, ability to work efficiently
Previous experience with community/union organizing; understanding of organized labor
Strong written and verbal communication skills
Experience with Microsoft Office applications
Must own car and be willing to travel
Willingness to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends

Health plan

On Saturday, September 13, 2008, single payer advocates from across New York will meet in Albany to form a new statewide organization. Our aim: to build an unbeatable movement for a single payer public system that would fully fund comprehensive health care, including prescription drugs, for all. We invite all single-payer supporters to join us!

Private insurance has no legitimate role to play in the care of patients. We believe it must be replaced by a public program of health financing. Under a single-payer healthcare system, we'll spend our healthcare dollars on care, not on bureaucratic waste, profit-making and corporate gain.

Our grassroots movement has gained momentum in 2008. Healthcare-NOW and other groups organized a nationwide protest on June 19 in support of single-payer healthcare. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the New York State Assembly, and a growing number of unions and central labor bodies have all endorsed HR 676, the National Health Insurance Act.

New studies found that a majority of physicians support national health insurance. And there is renewed support for single-payer among important groups like the League of Women Voters, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Presbyterian Church USA.

Looking ahead, healthcare will continue to be a central issue in the presidential election. And New York State, with a new governor and a changing Senate, has initiated an official evaluation and discussion of proposals for universal healthcare. Now is the time to strengthen grassroots activism in support of a single national, publicly-financed healthcare plan.

Already a wide diversity of groups and individuals across New York are working for HR 676, and also for a New York state-based single payer system. We have worked together spontaneously, organically, and successfully. We also work with many other groups that promote
"universal healthcare" or "affordable healthcare," but not necessarily single payer. We are appreciative of their efforts. But the evidence is convincing that single payer reform is crucial for our state and our nation.

A formal statewide grassroots coalition will allow us to share resources, local news, publications, speakers and more. We have much to learn from one another - and from other successful state-based single payer organizations. Together we can build a vigorous single payer voice in every county in New York State—and, ultimately, a new healthcare system.

Please join us!

New York State Nurses Association ~ Mike Keenan, President, Troy Area
Labor Council, AFL-CIO ~ Kathleen Scales, Executive Director, Capital
District Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO ~ Healthcare-NOW ~ Health Care
Work Group of Otsego, Delaware & Chenango Counties ~ Mark Dunlea,
Executive Director, Hunger Action Network of New York State ~ Tompkins
County Health Care Task Force ~ Senior Legislative Action Committee of
Sullivan County ~ League of Women Voters of Saratoga County ~ Patricia
Friedland, member, Healthcare-NOW ~ Rev. Cass Shaw, Albany Presbytery
~ Long Island Coalition for a National Health Plan ~ Citizens for
Universal Healthcare, Kingston ~ Joel Schwartz, President, CSEA Local
446, Staten Island Council ~ Christy Staats, Clifton Park Single Payer
Committee ~ Barbara Warren, Executive Director, Citizens'
Environmental Coalition ~ Jeff Vogel, Delegate Assembly member, 1199
United Healthcare Workers East / SEIU ~ New York Metro, Syracuse,
Capital District, and Finger Lakes chapters of Physicians for a
National Health Program ~ Douglas Delong, MD, Physicians for a
National Health Program, Cooperstown ~ Richard Propp, MD, Capital
District Alliance for Universal Healthcare, Inc. ~ Doug Bullock, 8th
District Representative, Albany County Legislature ~ Rochester
Interfaith Health Care Coalition ~ New York Statewide Senior Action

Founding conference
Albany Medical College
Saturday September 13th
10am to Noon – Healthcare-NOW Roadshow, featuring Donna Smith of “Sicko"
Noon – lunch, please RSVP if you would like a box lunch
1pm to 4pm - organizing and strategy meeting

To join Single Payer New York, and for further details about September
13th, please contact one of the following:
Dr. Andy Coates pnhpcapitaldistrict ~ Rebecca Elgie healthylink@ earthlink. net
~ Mark Dunlea dunleamark@aol. com ~ Courtney Morrow pnhpmetro@nyc.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Deciding how to vote

In a Commonweal article headlined “Yes You Can: Why Catholics Don’t Have to Vote Republican,” Gerald J. Beyer writes,
As an institution, the Roman Catholic Church does not tell believers for whom or against whom they must vote, despite what some politicians, pundits, and pastors suggest. Rather, as the U.S. bishops write in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship [PDF] (2007), “the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience.” Certainly Catholics must seriously consider any candidate’s stance on “intrinsic evils” such as abortion, racism, and torture. Catholics may not vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil “if the voter’s intent is to support that position.” Yet Catholics may choose a candidate who does not unequivocally condemn an intrinsic evil for other “truly grave moral reasons.” Catholics ought to choose the candidate who is least likely to promote intrinsic evils and the most likely to promote “other authentic human goods.” So the question becomes: Are there “grave moral reasons” that permit Catholics to vote for Obama, or any other candidate, despite his or her prochoice stance, or would such a vote be “intellectually careless or downright disingenuous,” . . .?

. . . during this election season Catholic voters should not be duped into believing that the matter is already perfectly clear: Vote for McCain or be a bad Catholic! They ought to take their obligation to vote according to their consciences more seriously than that.

The rest of the article is here. As always, Albany Catholic notes that the final choice is up to you.