You Oughta Know - Writing on the Wall

Writing on the Wall

The wall between Mexico and the United States is a terrible idea; I hope we can agree on that. If not, let the math persuade you. There are estimates (Backup Source) that the wall could cost up to $25 billion due to fluctuations in material costs, cost of labor, and land acquisitions, with an additional approximately $700 million in maintenance costs annually. Those numbers are just for the wall itself, not staffing and other incidentals” like unpredictable, climate-change-based weather patterns. Meanwhile, in 2010, Republicans tried to shut down healthcare for 9/11 first responders because the $8.4 billion price tag was fiscally irresponsible’”. -Joel Pavelski (Source) (Backup Source)

UPDATE: Science says the wall will be costly in a very different and more terrifying way.

A Convenient Truth about the Climate Change Summit

Yesterday, I linked to the fact that the CDC canceled the Climate and Health Summit which was to take place in February. Then, news broke that a collection of organizations, including former Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore, had taken up the mantel and the summit is back on. From the Washington Post:

The meeting now planned for Feb. 16 will take place outside of any government circles. Rather than at CDC, it will be held at the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta. It will be a one-day event rather than the three days originally planned. Its sponsors now include nongovernmental groups such as the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Turner Foundation and the Climate Reality Project, an education and advocacy group founded by Gore. Organizers say they are aiming to attract as many as 200 attendees from around the country to talk about the mounting risks to human health posed by climate change.

Rogue Nation

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government and accountability through the use of modern technologies, notes a list of Federal Government Agencies who were directed not to communicate directly with the public. Though some of the affected departments have been reauthorized to speak openly for now, such as the USDA, the list appears to be updated often and may be one to keep an eye on for awhile. The list includes multiple data sources where necessary.

In the meantime, a few muzzled agencies have setup alternative measures to circumvent the ban, see @AltNatParkSer and @RogueNASA for just two such accounts.

Those Emails

There is a lot of contention regarding the use of twitter by the president, but now there are security concerns involved as well. The president has decided—against the requests of his advisors—to continue to use his personal, unsecured Android phone, his press secretary tweeted out his Twitter password not once but twice, and both of these government officials had their twitter accounts registered with unsecured, personal Gmail addresses(Backup Source). (UPDATE: This appears to have been fixed on both accounts, but the problem did exist.) These pieces may not seem like a big deal to those who are willing to give the president all of the passes, but should be terrifying to everyone. Not only does this mean that official White House business is being conducted via private, unsecured Gmail accounts, this means that any claims that Hillary Clinton’s emails were a good reason not to vote for her are completely invalid.

John Morrison says it best: ’The cyber’ is so hard you guys.”

Awesome Woman of the Day

Yesteday’s Google Doodle commemorated the 125th birthday of Bessie Coleman, an American civil aviator. She was the first woman of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot license. Also, she lived in Chicago for a time. Awesome!

If You Watch One Video

Speaking of awesome women and the Women’s March, check out this amazing group of women who got together to sing and were features on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The song gave me chills.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.