Urge U.S. House to Defeat Bankruptcy Bill

Every year, some 1.6 million Americans file for personal bankruptcy protection.  The process, which in many respects mirrors corporate bankruptcy, allows them to come up with a creditor-reviewed and court-approved plan to write off some of their debts, pay off others, and reorganize their personal finances so they can make a fresh start.

For almost a decade, the credit card industry has been promoting bankruptcy reform (sic) that will neither prevent bankruptcy nor protect the consumer.  Rather, the industry that passes out 2 billion solicitations for credit cards to people – including children and animals – like candy now wants to insure that it gets paid first before other debts are partially paid, such as child support.  They have perpetrated a smear campaign against people filing for bankruptcy, accusing them of cheating or being lazy money managers.
The real truth is that most of the people filing for bankruptcy are in economic straits due to illness and large medical bills.  Many of these people are middle class but have lost their job and health insurance due to illness.

NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives says, “The federal bankruptcy bill is a gift to the U.S credit card industry at the expense of women and their families.  Unless we defeat this bill, Congress will simply become the policy arm of Visa and Mastercard – who will soon want their logos on the Capitol Dome for all the money they have spent on Congress.”

Women are the fastest growing group of bankruptcy filers due to lower lifetime incomes (caused in part by the wage gap and caregiving responsibilities), divorce and lack of child support, escaping domestic violence and lack of health insurance coverage.

More than one out of every six mothers will be bankrupt by the end of the decade, yet these millions of women now face a possible law which will eliminate their ability to start over.  For parents who are owed child support, this bill will remove the existing payment priority in favor of past dues support and would put child support and alimony on equal footing with all other debts — and when the mother owed support has to compete head-to-head with the credit card collection agencies . . . well, you know who will end up with the dough. It won’t be the kids.

Please contact your Representative today and urge a vote against H.R 685, the bankruptcy bill that is a boon to credit card companies and a disaster for individuals and families facing economic and health care crises.


Help Break America’s Oil Dependence

We need to make America safer and more secure by using existing technology to raise the fuel economy of our vehicles.  The technology exists today to make all cars, SUVs, and other light trucks average 40 miles per gallon within ten years.  Taking this step would save more oil than we currently import from the entire Persian Gulf, or could ever take out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, combined.  But instead of moving forward, the Bush administration is renewing its call to hand over our energy policy and public lands to the oil companies.  We can not drill our way to energy independence.  It is time to break America’s dangerous dependence on oil.

America’s cars, trucks, and SUVs consume 8 million barrels of oil per day.  Our oil dependence comes at too steep a cost.  Instead of putting our troops at risk and pumping more global warming pollution into the atmosphere, we need to require automakers to build vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas to cut our oil dependence.  The energy bill before you does not make America safe.  A real energy policy would cut America’s oil dependence while preserving our national treasures like the Arctic Refuge.


Help Stop Violence Against Women in Colombia

U.S. security assistance is feeding an internal armed conflict that has resulted in approximately 70,000 civlian deaths, and widespread violence against women by all armed actors.  Write to your Members of Congress and urge them to oppose United States security assistance to Colombia.


Reject John Bolton’s nomination as UN Ambassador

Other than the Secretary of State and the President himself, the UN Ambassador is our country’s chief diplomat.  But at a time when the United States is working to repair relationships with our allies and rebuild our image around the world, John Bolton is absolutely the wrong choice for this critical job.  

After all, John Bolton has shown nothing but contempt for the United Nations throughout his entire career.  Further, Bolton has demonstrated a disturbing propensity to politicize the intelligence-gathering process and twist intelligence to suit his needs.  

Please email your Senators and urge them to reject John Bolton’s nomination — before the Foreign Relations Committee votes on Thursday.


Urge Your Senators to Support Funding for Sudan and Other Emergencies

On April 11, the full Senate began consideration of the Emergency Supplemental bill.  A series of amendments that address emergency food needs, disaster assistance and how to mitigate the conflict in Darfur are expected to be offered.

Now is the time to contact your senators and urge them to vote in favor of amendments that can make a difference in Sudan and other disaster areas around the world.

Let them know you support more funding to address the crisis in Sudan and other emergency spots around the world.


Stop the Anti-United Nations UN Nominee

If ever there were a time for America to support the United Nations and bring the world’s nations together, it’s now.

So all we can do is shake our heads in total disbelief at President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton — a man who’s dedicated his career to undermining the UN — as our nation’s UN Ambassador.

John Bolton argued against the U.S. 1) paying its back dues to the UN, 2) joining the International Criminal Court, and 3) strengthening disarmament treaties.  His overall philosophy is encapsulated in this startling quotation from the New Yorker:

“It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law,” said Bolton, “even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so — because over the long term, the goal of those who think international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.”

Anyone who believes this should stay as far away from the United Nations as possible.


Michigan – Protect Your Privacy at Home

New legislation was introduced on Wednesday, April 13 that is known as the “employee protection privacy act.”  This act would prohibit employers from invading the privacy of their employees outside of the work environment.  Senator Virg Bernero (D-Lansing) is sponsoring the bill and we are asking for your help to get other legislators to join as co-sponsors.

You may be familiar with the case of four women who were fired from Weyco Industries in Okemos when they refused to submit to a tobacco test under a no-smoking-anywhere policy that became effective on January 1, 2005.  Since then, other employers have instituted similar restrictions.  This is not a smokers’ rights issue; rather, this bill is important because employers should not be able to punish their employees for their legal, at-home behaviors.

While it is acceptable that an employer has a right to regulate an employee’s behavior while at work, an employer should not have the right to control what employees do in their own time – outside of the sphere of their employment.  Any attempt to control off-duty behavior poses a threat to personal privacy and autonomy.  Neither state law, Title VII, nor the Americans With Disabilities Act offer any protection from this threat, especially in the private sector.

The ACLU does not oppose smoking bans in public buildings, in the workplace, or in other locations where non-smokers may be subjected to second-hand smoke.  We do oppose bans on smoking (or beer or junk food) in a person’s own home.


Urge Congress to Keep Arctic Drilling out of Conference Report

House and Senate Conferees will begin meeting soon to negotiate different versions of the budget resolution and then bring their negotiated final to both floors for a vote.  

Members of Congress who have voted to protect the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in the past are under tremendous pressure from the White House and others to vote to pass the final budget resolution.  However, they should bear in mind that voting for any resolution that includes arctic drilling would be seen by their constituents – you — as reversing their stance on drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

No matter how often you’ve taken action on this issue in the past, please help us deliver this latest message to your members of Congress.  


Call for Debt Justice!

The progressive faith community is on the threshold of a desperately needed victory for Africa’s poorest nations.  The G8 has agreed to require the IMF and the World Bank to cancel up to 100% of the debt of a number of impoverished countries.  While this is a sign of hope, it will take the voices and actions of the faithful to move these global leaders from words to action.

Jubilee USA and Africa Action have written a letter to President George Bush and Treasury Secretary John Snow, asking them to work at the upcoming IMF, World Bank, and G-8 meetings to ensure 100% cancellation of all African debts to these institutions without imposing harmful economic conditions.  This letter has already been signed by hundreds of religious leaders.

Please join Sojourners in urging that President Bush and Secretary Snow use the power of the United States to urge 100% debt cancellation for Africa’s poorest countries.


Preserve the Heart of the Boreal Forest

In Canada’s Manitoba province, clearcut logging, roadbuilding and industrial hydropower development have devastated the old-growth boreal forest habitat of the woodland caribou, cutting the provincial population of this majestic species in half in the span of just a few decades.  Now numbering roughly 2,000 animals, Manitoba’s last remaining woodland caribou survive hard winters by feeding on abundant lichens in our Heart of the Boreal Forest BioGem and other boreal woodlands.

According to scientists, a dwindling caribou population serves as an alert that the health of other forest wildlife is in jeopardy as well.  But despite warnings from federal and provincial endangered species committees about the impacts of habitat loss on woodland caribou, the Manitoba government still refuses to list woodland caribou as threatened under its Endangered Species Act.  Please take action now to ensure the protection of this sensitive boreal species in Manitoba.

Urge Manitoba officials to protect the threatened woodland caribou.


These and over 400 other action alerts are archived at http://shetquaker.blog-city.com/

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