Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 1, 2020

41] Markup of NDAA 2021 – July 1
42] Farming Hope: Gardening to Feed our Neighbors – July 1
43] Food Rescue – July 1
44] Congressional opposition to annexation – July 1
45] Beyond Extreme Energy -- July 1
46] Hear from journalist Ollie Vargas – July 1
47] Conversation with Rep. Ro Khanna – July 1
48] Meet Vijay Prashad – July 1
49] Social Justice Prayer Vigil – July 1
50] Meet Beth Doglio – July 1
51] STOP Police Brutality – July 1
52] Healing Through a Movement July 1
53] Participate in Resistance and Dissent in the Military – July 1
54] Discussion on Racial Justice – July 1
41] –  On Wed., July 1 at 10 AM, the House Armed Services Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, 1100 Longworth House Office Building, WDC.  COVID-19 response measures remain in place. A webcast will be available. See https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings?ID=6CB71BE9-DE54-43EA-B7AB-2376FBFE709E.

42] – On Wed., July 1 from 10 AM to 3 PM, be at Farming Hope: Gardening to Feed our Neighbors, hosted by Maryland Presbyterian Church and North Baltimore Presbyterians - Ministry Group. This is happening at Rockrose City Farm, 3800 Clipper Road, Baltimore 21211. You’re invited to garden this summer to help feed people experiencing food insecurity. Derrick Weston from the Mission team at Ashland Presbyterian Church, and staff member at Hope Springs, will be gardening at the Rockrose City Farm, located at 3999 Clipper Road, Baltimore, MD, 21211. Folks will gather each Wednesday through Sept. 30. All of the food grown will be donated to various food pantries in our area. Please be in contact if you would like to volunteer. This is a great socially distanced, outside activity, but please bring a mask, and water. Derrick can be reached at Dweston@HopeSprings.org 410-443-5867.  Look at https://www.facebook.com/events/261101788435840/?event_time_id=261101811769171.

43] – On Wednesdays, at noon, get with a Food Rescue at Umar Boxing, 1217 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21217-3535.  This will continue through Nov. 11. Bring a bag, take delicious, high quality, and nutritious free food! Check out https://www.facebook.com/events/446288255935427/?event_time_id=446288312602088.

44] – Get with Israeli and American Legislators against Annexation on Tues., July 1 at noon ET. Join Senator Chris Van Hollen and Members of Knesset Nitzan Horowitz and Ofer Shelah for a conversation about the likely impacts of unilateral annexation. In this timely session, hear how Congressional opposition to annexation is being received in the Knesset, how Israeli and American legislators can strengthen each other’s messages and how this impending crisis could impact the US-Israel relationship. Visit to https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_J86JdbCNQMaNQwhBlNM0Cg.

45] – RSVP to join Beyond Extreme Energy in a Zoom meeting or watch live on Facebook on Wed., July 1 at noon ET to deliver all the comments to the FERC Commissioners via phone and social media in a participatory fun, interactive, arts-based webinar.  On June 15 The Supreme Court ruled that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can cross under the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest. Doing so removed a major obstacle to the project, but did not provide a clear path to how or when the project can be completed. A thicket of lawsuits persists and dozens of state and local permits remain in question. Billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule, and with no end in sight, the ACP’s corporate owners — Duke and Dominion — are asking for an extension. On June 19 they filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend their certificate of public good and necessity by two years. To get involved, see https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMtcemgrTMtHtxsfNrzSveyyjklFALujqED.

46] – On Wed., July 1 from noon to 12:30 PM, hear from journalist Ollie Vargas Live from Bolivia, hosted by the New Good Neighbor Policy Campaign. This conversation will be on CODEPINK's YouTube channel for a conversation about the OAS involvement in the October 2019 Bolivia Presidential Elections and subsequent coup, ground conditions leading-up to the new elections scheduled for September 6 and the recent IMF loan to Bolivia. Ollie has been reporting post-coup from Bolivia since early December 2019. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/user/codepinkaction/videos. Look at https://www.facebook.com/events/271851290822895/.

47] – Get with the Nation Conversation with Rep. Ro Khanna: This Movement Moment on Wed., July 1 from noon EDT.  Visit https://secure.everyaction.com/li_pa9e7-kGT_QlX3sF6gQ2?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_campaign=nation-event-khanna&sourceid=1062332&ms=EMM062520201A&utm_content=EMM062520201A. Rep. Ro Khanna will converse about how to break big money's grip on our political system and sustain progressive momentum heading into the November election. A dedicated political reformer, Rep. Khanna is one of just six elected officials to refuse contributions from PACs and lobbyists. He has been a strong advocate for expanding rural broadband, and a leader in pioneering a progressive foreign policy and opposing efforts to militarize the police at home. As widespread protests continue, Khanna will speak to how action on the streets can coalesce into legislative change.

48] - On Wed., July 1 at 1 PM, Helena Cobban will discuss the prospects for global change with Vijay Prashad, a principled polymath who's the Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books. His newest book, Washington Bullets, which has a Preface by President Evo Morales Ayma, will be released by LeftWord Books on July 8.

You can join this interactive conversation via either Facebook or Zoom. If you join on Zoom, you'll need to pre-register. If you already registered earlier for the previous session, you don't need to do so again.  See https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3NEiDcIXRiahcv9nGSAQJQ.

49] –  On Wed., July 1 from 5 to 6 PM, attend a Social Justice Prayer Vigil by St. John's Episcopal Church, Ellicott City, 9120 Frederick Road, Ellicott City 21042. This PRAYER VIGIL IS IN SUPPORT OF OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN BROTHERS  & SISTERS. Please wear masks and bring signs in support of our African American brothers and sisters (ex., Black Lives Matter; Justice for All) for this socially distant event. No political signs, please. Look https://www.facebook.com/events/305451513807066/?event_time_id=305451523807065.

50] – Meet the Candidates such as Beth Doglio (WA-10) on a Zoom video call on Wed., July 1 at 6 PM ET. She is a climate champion and progressive state legislator, who is running to fill retiring Democrat Denny Heck’s open seat in Washington State's blue 10th Congressional District. As an environmental activist, Beth led the Power Past Coal campaign for over a decade, working hand in hand with grassroots and tribal leaders to stop coal from being moved through Seattle ports. In the state legislature, the very first bill she introduced was a police reform bill working in coordination with grassroots activists who slept overnight in front of the Capitol to make sure it would be the first bill introduced at the beginning of the new session. She’s running on a platform that includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and permanent federal funding for affordable housing. Go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIkduGgpzIsGN2QfgsXJa9OfxceRMHUSWcO.

51] – On Wed., July 1 from 6 to 8 PM, STOP Police Brutality PEACEFUL Rally & Protest, hosted by Friends of Dave Grogan at  15901 Excalibur Road, Bowie 20716-3910. Stand in solidarity after a horrific racist slur was painted on a vehicle. Come out and let your voices be heard! LET EVERYONE KNOW THAT RACISM HAS NO PLACE IN OUR COMMUNITY! Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1310491115812241/.

52] – On Wed., July 1 from 7 to 8 PM, get over to Episode 2: Healing through a Movement.  This is a Live Video by Healing City Baltimore, hosted by: Dr. Melissa Buckley (Coppin State) & Councilman Zeke Cohen.  This week's guests are Ryan Turner- Executive Director, Community Law in Action, and Bryonna Harris- recent graduate of Frederick Douglass H.S. who helped catalyze Healing City. Healing City Baltimore started in the fall of 2019 as a movement of over 100 organizations and people all working together to bring healing to Baltimore. We set out to engage in honest dialogue, learn from diverse perspectives, embrace our differences, and commit to healing together as a foundation to pursuing a racially, socially and economically just and thriving Baltimore for ALL. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1170272339998149/.

53] – Participate in Resistance and Dissent in the Military with Danny Sjursen and Dan Luker on Wed., July 1 from 7 to 8 PM. RSVP at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpd-iqpzgvHtKCyg4R7JHsaYkFQyHdojRq?emci=294bb2fb-0bbb-ea11-9b05-00155d039e74&emdi=ad1bf776-0ebb-ea11-9b05-00155d039e74&ceid=269591. There has recently been a lot of dissent and debate within the military itself, from objections to the Pentagon’s handling of the Covid19 pandemic to growing discomfort with Trump’s apparent willingness to unleash brutal repression on protesters. Danny Sjursen and Dan Luker will talk about debates within the military in the present situation, and discuss their own experiences with dissent and debate, resistance and rebellion as active-duty soldiers.

54] – On Wed., July 1 from 8 to 9 PM ET, join a Discussion on Racial Justice.  Visit https://bit.ly/PAAIACE. Hear from Abdi Soltani, Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, Mitra Jalali for City Council, St. Paul City Councilwoman, Tehran Von Ghasri (IAmTehran), comedian and activist, and Cyrus Mehri, civil rights attorney. The conversation will be moderated by reporter and producer, Shirley Jahad.  Where does the Iranian American community fit in the conversation and the importance of calling out injustice and supporting Black lives? RSVP here: https://bit.ly/PAAIACE. See https://www.facebook.com/events/607249449911067/.Meet an Indivisible-endorsed candidate, Alex Morse, on the National Activist Call -- a monthly space for Indivisible leaders, members, and other activists to hear updates and connect with one another on Thurs., July 2 at 8 PM EST. Register at https://indivisible.zoom.us/webinar/register/9315913660335/WN_ONhElO5tSQu0HxZidP2Pqg.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid

Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid

Ellen Brown
June 21, 2020
The Unz Review


   BlackRock is a global financial giant with customers in 100 countries and its tentacles in major asset classes all over the world; and it now manages the spigots to trillions of bailout dollars from the Federal Reserve. The fate of a large portion of the country’s corporations has been put in the hands of a megalithic private entity with the private capitalist mandate to make as much money as possible for its owners and investors; and that is what it has proceeded to do.

   To most people, if they are familiar with it at all, BlackRock is an asset manager that helps pension funds and retirees manage their savings through “passive” investments that track the stock market. But working behind the scenes, it is much more than that. BlackRock has been called “the most powerful institution in the financial system,” “the most powerful company in the world” and the “secret power.” It is the world’s largest asset manager and “shadow bank,” larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China), with over $7 trillion in assets under direct management and another $20 trillion managed through its Aladdin risk-monitoring software. BlackRock has also been called “the fourth branch of government” and “almost a shadow government”, but no part of it actually belongs to the government. Despite its size and global power, BlackRock is not even regulated as a “Systemically Important Financial Institution” under the Dodd-Frank Act, thanks to pressure from its CEO Larry Fink, who has long had “cozy” relationships with government officials.

    BlackRock’s strategic importance and political weight were evident when four BlackRock executives, led by former Swiss National Bank head Philipp Hildebrand, presented a proposal at the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in August 2019 for an economic reset that was actually put into effect in March 2020. Acknowledging that central bankers were running out of ammunition for controlling the money supply and the economy, the BlackRock group argued that it was time for the central bank to abandon its long-vaunted independence and join monetary policy (the usual province of the central bank) with fiscal policy (the usual province of the legislature). They proposed that the central bank maintain a “Standing Emergency Fiscal Facility” that would be activated when interest rate manipulation was no longer working to avoid deflation. The Facility would be deployed by an “independent expert” appointed by the central bank.

   The COVID-19 crisis presented the perfect opportunity to execute this proposal in the US, with BlackRock itself appointed to administer it. In March 2020, it was awarded a no-bid contract under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to deploy a $454 billion slush fund established by the Treasury in partnership with the Federal Reserve. This fund in turn could be leveraged to provide over $4 trillion in Federal Reserve credit. While the public was distracted with protests, riots and lockdowns, BlackRock suddenly emerged from the shadows to become the “fourth branch of government,” managing the controls to the central bank’s print-on-demand fiat money. How did that happen and what are the implications?

Rising from the Shadows

   BlackRock was founded in 1988 in partnership with the Blackstone Group, a multinational private equity management firm that would become notorious after the 2008-09 banking crisis for snatching up foreclosed homes at firesale prices and renting them at inflated prices. BlackRock first grew its balance sheet in the 1990s and 2000s by promoting the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that brought down the economy in 2008. Knowing the MBS business from the inside, it was then put in charge of the Federal Reserve’s “Maiden Lane” facilities. Called “special purpose vehicles,” these were used to buy “toxic” assets (largely unmarketable MBS) from Bear Stearns and American Insurance Group (AIG), something the Fed was not legally allowed to do itself.
BlackRock really made its fortunes, however, in “exchange traded funds” (ETFs). It gained trillions in investable assets after it acquired the iShares series of ETFs in a takeover of Barclays Global Investors in 2009. By 2020, the wildly successful iShares series included over 800 funds and $1.9 trillion in assets under management.

   Exchange traded funds are bought and sold like shares but operate as index-tracking funds, passively following specific indices such as the S&P 500, the benchmark index of America’s largest corporations and the index in which most people invest. Today the fast-growing ETF sector controls nearly half of all investments in US stocks, and it is highly concentrated. The sector is dominated by just three giant American asset managers – BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, the “Big Three” – with BlackRock the clear global leader. By 2017, the Big Three together had become the largest shareholder in almost 90% of S&P 500 firms, including Apple, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, General Electric and Coca-Cola. BlackRock also owns major interests in nearly every mega-bank and in major media.

   In March 2020, based on its expertise with the Maiden Lane facilities and its sophisticated Aladdin risk-monitoring software, BlackRock got the job of dispensing Federal Reserve funds through eleven “special purpose vehicles” authorized under the CARES Act. Like the Maiden Lane facilities, these vehicles were designed to allow the Fed, which is legally limited to purchasing safe federally-guaranteed assets, to finance the purchase of riskier assets in the market.

Blackrock Bails Itself Out

    The national lockdown left states, cities and local businesses in desperate need of federal government aid. But according to David Dayen in The American Prospect, as of May 30 (the Fed’s last monthly report), the only purchases made under the Fed’s new BlackRock-administered SPVs were ETFs, mainly owned by BlackRock itself. Between May 14 and May 20, about $1.58 billion in ETFs were bought through the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF), of which $746 million or about 47% came from BlackRock ETFs. The Fed continued to buy more ETFs after May 20, and investors piled in behind, resulting in huge inflows into BlackRock’s corporate bond ETFs.
In fact, these ETFs needed a bailout; and BlackRock used its very favorable position with the government to get one. The complicated mechanisms and risks underlying ETFs are explained in an April 3 article by business law professor Ryan Clements, who begins his post:

   Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are at the heart of the COVID-19 financial crisis Over forty percent of the trading volume during the mid-March selloff was in ETFs ….

  The ETFs were trading well below the value of their underlying bonds, which were dropping like a rock. Some ETFs were failing altogether. The problem was something critics had long warned of: while ETFs are very liquid, trading on demand like stocks, the assets that make up their portfolios are not. When the market drops and investors flee, the ETFs can have trouble coming up with the funds to settle up without trading at a deep discount; and that is what was happening in March.
According to a May 3 article in The National, “The sector was ultimately saved by the US Federal Reserve’s pledge on March 23 to buy investment-grade credit and certain ETFs. This provided the liquidity needed to rescue bonds that had been floundering in a market with no buyers.”

   Prof. Clements states that if the Fed had not stepped in, “a ‘doom loop’ could have materialized where continued selling pressure in the ETF market exacerbated a fire-sale in the underlying [bonds], and again vice-versa, in a procyclical pile-on with devastating consequences.” He observes:
There’s an unsettling form of market alchemy that takes place when illiquid, over-the-counter bonds are transformed into instantly liquid ETFs. ETF “liquidity transformation” is now being supported by the government, just like liquidity transformation in mortgage backed securities and shadow banking was supported in 2008.

Working for Whom?

   BlackRock got a bailout with no debate in Congress, no “penalty” interest rate of the sort imposed on states and cities borrowing in the Fed’s Municipal Liquidity Facility, no complicated paperwork or waiting in line for scarce Small Business Administration loans, no strings attached. It just quietly bailed itself out.

   It might be argued that this bailout was good and necessary, since the market was saved from a disastrous “doom loop,” and so were the pension funds and the savings of millions of investors. Although BlackRock has a controlling interest in all the major corporations in the S&P 500, it professes not to “own” the funds. It just acts as a kind of “custodian” for its investors — or so it claims. But BlackRock and the other Big 3 ETFs vote the corporations’ shares; so from the point of view of management, they are the owners. And as observed in a 2017 article from the University of Amsterdam titled “These Three Firms Own Corporate America,” they vote 90% of the time in favor of management. That means they tend to vote against shareholder initiatives, against labor, and against the public interest. BlackRock is not actually working for us, although we the American people have now become its largest client base.

   In a 2018 review titled “Blackrock – The Company That Owns the World”, a multinational research group called Investigate Europe concluded that BlackRock “undermines competition through owning shares in competing companies, blurs boundaries between private capital and government affairs by working closely with regulators, and advocates for privatization of pension schemes in order to channel savings capital into its own funds.”

   Daniela Gabor, Professor of Macroeconomics at the University of Western England in Bristol, concluded after following a number of regulatory debates in Brussels that it was no longer the banks that wielded the financial power; it was the asset managers. She said:
We are often told that a manager is there to invest our money for our old age. But it’s much more than that. In my opinion, BlackRock reflects the renunciation of the welfare state. Its rise in power goes hand-in-hand with ongoing structural changes; in finance, but also in the nature of the social contract that unites the citizen and the state.

   That these structural changes are planned and deliberate is evident in BlackRock’s August 2019 white paper laying out an economic reset that has now been implemented with BlackRock at the helm. Public policy is made today in ways that favor the stock market, which is considered the barometer of the economy, although it has little to do with the strength of the real, productive economy. Giant pension and other investment funds largely control the stock market, and the asset managers control the funds. That effectively puts BlackRock, the largest and most influential asset manager, in the driver’s seat in controlling the economy.

  As Peter Ewart notes in a May 14 article on BlackRock titled “Foxes in the Henhouse,” today the economic system “is not classical capitalism but rather state monopoly capitalism, where giant enterprises are regularly backstopped with public funds and the boundaries between the state and the financial oligarchy are virtually non-existent.”

   If the corporate oligarchs are too big and strategically important to be broken up under the antitrust laws, rather than bailing them out they should be nationalized and put directly into the service of the public. At the very least, BlackRock should be regulated as a too-big-to-fail Systemically Important Financial Institution. Better yet would be to regulate it as a public utility. No private, unelected entity should have the power over the economy that BlackRock has, without a legally enforceable fiduciary duty to wield it in the public interest.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including Web of Debt, The Public Bank Solution, and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, June 29, 2020

A report on a conversation about divestment from military manufacturers with the Archdiocese of Baltimore


  On May 11, 2020, five Concerned Catholic Activists sent a letter to Archbishop William E. Lori setting out reasons -- theological, moral, political, environmental, and practical -- for divesting Archdiocesan funds from weapons manufacturers. On June 19, 20, and 21, some members of the group fasted and witnessed in front of the Basilica on Cathedral Street in Baltimore, calling for divestment. This call echoed Pope Francis' "Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home," issued June 18, 2020, which informed Catholics to "shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology," such as weapons manufacturers.

  On June 23, Archbishop Lori responded.  It seems he took the original letter very seriously, and took time to investigate our concerns and to formulate his response.  Through this campaign, we have discovered that “For example, certain funds mentioned in your letter have been fully divested: Blackrock Equity Dividend Fund was fully liquidated in 2015 and Dodge & Cox International Fund was liquidated in 2016.

  I believe the original letter and the subsequent fast and witness successfully challenged the Archdiocese of Baltimore to conform to socially responsible investing.  Note the Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese established in the United States, in 1789.

  We asked for a conversation on divestment, and we succeeded in this quest.  In fact, Archbishop Lori suggested contacting the chief financial officer. The group is still processing this response, but will presumably have dialogue with him in order to follow further divestment of funds involved with weapons manufacturers.  I hope this action places some wind in the sails of the divestment movement.

Kagiso, Max


320 CATHEDRAL STREET • BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21201 • 410-547-5437 • FAX: 410-547-8234


Mr. Jeff Ross, et al. 515 Collins A venue Baltimore, Maryland 21229

June 23, 2020

Dear Jeff, Gary, Suzanne, Max, and Janice,

Thank you for your recent letter and for your observations and questions about Archdiocesan investments. This response has taken longer than anticipated. Assisting parishes, schools, other Catholic institutions, and the Archdiocese itself, to respond to the financial challenges of these days has been time consuming, especially for my colleagues in the fiscal office whom I consulted in answering your questions. Please keep these good, hard-working people in your prayers.

With the goal of fiscal accountability in focus, you have looked into the question of Archdiocesan compliance with the standards of socially responsible investing (SRI). 1bank you for your analysis. In the following paragraphs, I shall try, as best I can, to clarify the issues you have raised.

 As your letter indicates, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued guidance on SRI. Published in 2003, it comprises four broad areas: 1) Protecting Human Life; 2) Promoting Human Dignity; 3) Reducing Arms Production; 4) Pursuing Economic Justice. Soon after the publication of this guidance, the Archdiocese undertook to revise its investment practices. To this day, we continue to make changes and improvements. Currently, the USCCB is updating its guidance. Once issued, we will again conduct another thorough review of investments. In any event, I regard all four pillars of SRI as a very serious matter and it is something in which I firmly believe. Thus, I agree with your stance that we cannot simultaneously entrust ourselves to God while seeking financial security through investments in the manufacture of death-dealing products.

   Your letter specifically asks whether we have ever determined the extent to ~which we have invested any archdiocesan, parish, or school funds in the weapons industry. We have indeed made that determination. Over time, we have been alert, not only to investments in the weapons industry, but also to investments in companies and

Mr. Jeff Ross, et al. June 23, 2020 Page2

industries that do not align with the four broad areas of SRI. However, not all investments in the Archdiocese are under the direct control of the Archdiocese, as John Matera, the Chief Financial Officer of the Archdiocese explains in the summary that follows:

   The first thing to understand is that there are two distinct investment policies. Investments that are under the direct control and fiduciary responsibility of the Archbishop of Baltimore and Investments that are not under direct control of the Archbishop.

The investments under direct control of the Archbishop are included in the audited statements entitled Combined Financial Statements of Central Services of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore (https://www.archbalt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2019-Central-Services-of-RCAofBaitimore-FS-FinaI.pd). These investments are in large separate trusts such as Lay Pension Plan, Priest Pension Plan, General Insurance Fund, Health Insurance Fund, etc. The Archdiocese does not hold any individual securities. All investments are in funds. Because these trusts are under common control of the Archbishop, we have the ability to open our own funds with asset managers. This affords the Investment Committee to select what they believe are the best asset managers in their respective asset classes. As a condition to investment, asset managers must adhere to social screening consistent with Catholic values as outlined by the USCCB.  Every quarter, the investment asset managers send a letter to the Archdiocese certifying that they do not own any companies that earn revenue on activity contrary to our values. They identify each company that is included in the normal mutual fund but not included in our funds, as well as if any replacement company was purchased or not. This practice has been in place since 2012. The process works well and we are 100% compliant with the USCCB guidance.

  The investments not under direct control of the Archbishop are a little more difficult to manage by way of compliance. Each individual parish is a separate corporation. Fiduciary responsibility lies with the parish leadership of the corporation. Rarely does a parish have enough savings that would allow it to invest in mutual funds in the manner that the Archdiocese does. An investment fund manager has minimums before he/ she will manage a separate fund outside of the larger mutual fund. To address some of these, the Archdiocese has implemented parish/ school investment policies.

Mr. Jeff Ross, et al. June 23, 2020 Page3

To be clear, the investments under the direct control of the Archdiocese are completely compliant with the USCCB guidelines.

As noted above, however, some investments are only indirectly under Archdiocesan control. It may be helpful for me to explain further how this complex structure developed and how it In the course of doing just that, I shall also address your concerns about specific investments.

Parishes and schools with ample savings, for the most part, handle their own investments. Working with parish finance councils and business managers, the Archdiocese strongly encourages such parishes and schools to invest in ways that are SRI compliant. Most parishes and schools, however, do not have the financial bandwidth to make investments on their own and to pay brokerage fees. To assist such parishes and schools, in 2000 (prior to the USCCB SRI Guidelines), the Archdiocese of Baltimore created the Inter-Parish Loan Fund (IPLF). The idea was to pool parish and school investments into combined funds in order to have access to more markets at lower fees. This program currently includes 52 parishes and/ or schools. As a result, there are 52 different decision makers within the program. Therefore, making changes in this program is somewhat more challenging. However, the IPLF Board is committed to offering only SRI options within the program, while continuing to have a broad range of asset categories from which parishes and schools can choose to create their own portfolios. Currently, a majority of those investments is SRI; the IPLF Board seeks to transition out of the remaining funds that are not fully compliant. For example, certain funds mentioned in your letter have been fully divested: Blackrock Equity Dividend Fund was fully liquidated in 2015 and Dodge & Cox International Fund was liquidated in 2016. IPLF is audited yearly and their audited financial statements may be found at: http://www.archbalt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2019-18-Inter-Parish-Loan-Fund-.FS.pdf.

Let me thank you once again for your letter. I hope the information provided in the letter is helpful. If you have further questions, I would encourage you to contact directly Mr. John Matera, Chief Financial Officer . . .

Asking God's abundant blessings upon you and your loved ones and requesting a remembrance in your prayers, I remain

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend William E. Lori

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Baltimore Activist Alert -- June 29 - 30, 2020

19] Take back the Senate – June 29 - 30
20] DC Excluded Workers Rally – June 29
21] Ending systemic racism at the polls and in our laws June 29
22] Structural Racism and Voter Suppression – June 29
23] Fresh Fruit Monday June 29
24] Roots of Food Apartheid – June 29
25] March in Solidarity for All Black Lives June 29
26] Vote Screening & Discussion -- June 29
27] Authoritarianism or Democracy – June 29
28] Supporting Communities through Crisis – June 29
29] Get Money Out – Maryland call June 29
30] Erosion of democratic institutions in Israel – June 30
31] Fair Wages for Airport and Transit Workers – June 30
32] Outside Bread for the Journey Soup Kitchen – June 30
33] Media skills webinar -- June 30
34] Vigil against JHU drone research – June 30
35] George Floyd: A Conversation with Professor Ron -- June 30
36] Hamilton’s History Remix – June 30
37] Zero Waste is Overwhelming – June 30
38] Breaking the Grip of Big Money – June 30
39] Palestinian children in Israeli prisons – June 30
40] Fight back against Trump’s judicial appointments – June 30
19] – Andrew Romanoff is the candidate to help us take back the Senate, and he has a crucial election on Tuesday. We must defeat Donald Trump, and take control of the Senate back from Mitch McConnell.  In order to take back the Senate, we need Democrats to win three Senate seats. Colorado’s Senator, Cory Gardner, is one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans and if things go our way on Tuesday we’ll have a Green New Deal champion running against him in November.  Sunrise has endorsed Andrew Romanoff because we’re confident that he is the best candidate to defeat Cory Gardner. His opponent, John Hickenlooper, was found guilty earlier this month of an ethics violation while serving as Governor and he accepts money from fossil fuel lobbyists and CEOs in a state ravaged by the fracking industry.  Sign up for two volunteer shifts to make calls to Colorado voters before polls close Tuesday evening: https://secure.everyaction.com/7BmTfQ5Gq0GMNt5EzNx0qw2?ms=email-6-28-link2&emci=051f849a-5fb9-ea11-9b05-00155d039e74&emdi=4f06f2e0-62b9-ea11-9b05-00155d039e74&ceid=177631.

20] – On Mon., June 29 from 9 to 10:30 AM, get with the DC Excluded Workers Rally!  It is hosted by Sanctuary DMV at Freedom Plaza, WDC 20004. Turn out for a socially distant rally to demand that the DC Council invest $30 million in excluded workers! Wear a mask! Bring a sign! Show an unpaid bill! In your car, circle Freedom Plaza. Excluded workers are undocumented residents, day laborers, sex workers, street vendors, returning citizens, and other workers in the informal economy who have all been locked out of unemployment benefits and other cash assistance. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/971417903303267/.

21] – You are invited to a special event with Sen. Chris Coons and Sen. Cory Booker. ‌End Citizens United is dedicated to electing Democrats, transforming our broken campaign finance system, and ultimately ending Citizens United. This a virtual discussion on ending systemic racism at the polls and in our laws. On Mon., June 29 at 11 AM ET, RSVP at https://www.mobilize.us/endcitizensunited/event/283710.

22] – Structural Racism and Voter Suppression: A Conversation with Ari Berman and Leigh Chapman is happening on Mon., Jun 29 at noon ET. Tune in https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ujcgd1wzRRukWQGZjevKPQ. Join J Street for a conversation on the intersection of structural racism and voter suppression in the US. Panelists Ari Berman of Mother Jones and Leigh Chapman of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights will touch on the major recent election problems in Wisconsin, Georgia and Kentucky and explore how structural racism lies at the root of these events. What are the tools and tactics necessary to ensure all Americans truly have the right and ability to vote?

23] – On Mon., June 29 from 4 to 6 PM, get over to Fresh Fruit Monday! It is hosted by TrinityLife, 2122 W. Joppa Road, Lutherville 21093. This is in partnership with the USDA's Farm to Families program, and get LARGE boxes of assorted fruits and vegetables. Drive-thru the TrinityLife Church Parking Lot and you will receive 1-2 boxes per family right into your trunk. See https://www.facebook.com/events/733279880757814/.

24] – On Mon., June 29 from 5 to 6:30 PM, check out the Roots of Food Apartheid, hosted by Knowledge Commons DC.  When a community lacks access to healthy and affordable food, it’s often labeled a “food desert.” This label can be problematic, however, because it implies that food deserts, much like real deserts, are naturally-occurring. Food apartheid goes beyond spatial food access and dives into historical and current systems and policies that intentionally segregate people spatially and economically from healthy food, among many other important things. This class will explore some of these dynamics, such as systemic racism, housing discrimination, segregation, industrial agriculture, gentrification, and more.  Teacher Josh Singer has spent the last decade working on urban agriculture and food justice in the greater DC area. Josh is organizing social advocacy cooperatives, teaching about social justice issues, and researching the histories of inequalities in the US. Many of his initiatives can be found at https://peoplesschooldc.wordpress.com/. Look at https://www.facebook.com/events/4184689451556333/.

25] – On Mon., June 29 at 5 PM, join a Honoring March in Solidarity for All Black Lives, hosted by Annapolis Pride at Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, 100 Main St., Annapolis 21401. March in solidarity to end racism, white supremacy, transphobia, homophobia, and all forms of hate in our community. End the march at Whitmore Park. See https://www.facebook.com/events/699099940931198/.

26] – On Mon., June 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, get with the Vote Screening & Discussion, hosted by the National Women's History Museum and American Experience| PBS. One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote, a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history.

Join American Experience | PBS and National Women's History Museum for an exclusive free preview screening, followed by a panel discussion with producers and experts from the film. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and join the conversation. In this excerpt, Alice Paul organizes a daily picket at the gates of the White House. As American patriotism surges around World War I, suffragists and the public grapple with the role of protest during times of war. The two-part American Experience documentary The Vote premieres July 6 and 7 on your local PBS station, PBS.org and the PBS Video App. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-experience-the-vote-screening-and-discussion-tickets-108869993080 or https://www.facebook.com/events/560584448177674/.

27] – On Mon., June 29 from 7 to 8:30 PM, tune in to Authoritarianism or Democracy: Chomsky, Van Gosse, Ty dePass.  These are but a few examples of RECENT AUTHORITARIAN ACTIONS OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Sending the military to attack peaceful anti-racist protesters, Launching armed thugs against state governments & encouraging police violence, Firing Inspectors General without cause, Lying about the Corona Virus, Assaulting Truth & Science, Packing the Courts with Right-Wing “Judges,” Refusing to accept the oversight of Congress and Undermining the independence of a free press. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1I4lQ9JhROOJCypDrqQhYw.

28] – You are invited to join the next Park Bench Chat exploring how grassroots groups and national organizations have shifted focus to address their communities’ most urgent needs through this extraordinary time. Trust for Public Land Ohio State Director Shanelle Smith Whigham will share what she’s learned as she leads a coalition that’s providing 60,000 masks to Cleveland residents in need. She’ll be in conversation with Cecilia Muñoz, vice president for public interest technology and local initiatives at New America. Muñoz spearheaded the Obama administration’s domestic response to humanitarian crises like the Flint water crisis and unaccompanied minors at the border. On Mon., June 29 at 7 PM ET, check out Supporting Communities through Crisis at https://tpl.zoom.us/webinar/register/4615922484198/WN_EgKrdeU3Q6uRxgh88nNVQg.

29] – Join the Get Money Out of Maryland Teleconference on Mon., June 29 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM.  There are two ways to join the conference: Dial 1 929 205 6099, and then use meeting ID: 512 862 260. Or Click on your device if you have downloaded the app from Zoom. The focus will be on organizational sign-ups, public relations, and logistics for lobbying in Annapolis.

30] – The erosion of democratic institutions in Israel over the past decade has coincided with the rise of a public campaign for annexation - euphemistically called "extending sovereignty" - over the same time. The two are highly connected; democratic erosion helps enable annexation in the West Bank, and annexation will in turn continue the cycle of chipping away at Israeli democracy. At the same time, these trends will damage Israel’s foreign relations with key global partners. Join Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin for an in-depth look at what annexation will mean for Israel at home and abroad on Tues., June 30 at noon ET. Go to https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dWajrk9tSHKnf1yBK6AA1Q.

31] – Get involved with a Telephone Town Hall: Stand Up for Fair Wages for Airport and Transit Workers on Tues., June 30 at 12:30 PM.  Airport workers and workers at our transportation hubs have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. At BWI, workers are paid as low as minimum wage to perform essential duties like wheelchair assistance and airplane cabin cleaning. These workers deserve more! The Secure Maryland Wage Act would raise wages at all transportation hubs in Maryland including BWI, the Port of Baltimore, and Penn Station while also including compensation for healthcare costs for these workers. The Maryland Poor Peoples Campaign is proud to co-sponsor this Town Hall where we will hear from workers about why they need raises now and from politicians around our state that support them. Join the Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/98224045051. The Meeting ID is 982 2404 5051. For phone, use one tap mobile +19292056099,,98224045051# US (New York) 13017158592,,98224045051# (Germantown).

32] – On Tues., June 30 from  1:30 to 2 PM, check out Outside Bread for the Journey Soup Kitchen individual lunches given out by Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore.  This Tuesday soup kitchen will until Dec. 1. The church is at 2424 McElderry St., Baltimore 21205.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/602052220539690/?event_time_id=602052307206348.

33] – Register for an upcoming media skills webinar on Tues., June 30 at 4 PM ET.  The 75th anniversaries are a great opportunity to get an op-ed or an LTE published on our issues in your local paper or in a national publication. Whether you're a novice or have been published multiple times, join for a chance to learn about: writing to meet the editors’ needs, how to pitch your piece and what to do after it's published. Sign up at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PkxYVBrSTEiZHxCwQ_QlpA?utm_source=Hiroshima+and+Nagasaki+75+Coordinating+List&utm_campaign=fa98b6a0bf-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_17_07_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ceb9d77f32-fa98b6a0bf-391862806.

34] – There is a Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" at 33rd and N. Charles Sts. on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 PM. Contact Max at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net or 410-323-1607.  You may consider contacting President Ron Daniels and telling him that the university should reject all military contracts, including those for killer drone and nuclear weapons research.  The president’s mailing address is Office of the President, 242 Garland Hall, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland 21218.  You can also reach his office by Phone: (410) 516-8068, Fax: (410) 516-6097 or email: president@jhu.edu.

35] – Professor Ron Williams is inviting you to participate in his first virtual event, George Floyd: A Conversation with Professor Ron – Defunding the Police and the State of America, on Tues., June 30 from 6 to 8 PM. It will be a healthy, robust conversation on the climate in our country in the context of George Floyd and the surrounding issues. He believes I am the right facilitator for this kind of session, as he is an award-winning educator, community activist and performance artist. He has been performing and working on social justice movements for over 30 years. Currently, he is a professor of ethics and a faculty fellow with the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore. RSVP at ronkiplingwilliams@gmail.com, and Ron will send you the virtual link to this event 16] – The system is broken: the moneyed few control our economy and our politics.  And there is the chasm of systemic racism and economic inequality. Our catastrophic failure to live up to the promise of equality for all makes it hard to believe in the promise of the American dream.

36] – On Tues., June 30 from 7 to 9 PM, get with Profs & Pints Online: Hamilton’s History Remix, a critical look at the musical and the people and events it depicts, with Richard Bell, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical has sold out theatres throughout the nation and is scheduled to shown nationally on Disney Plus on July 3rd. Many of us have the triple-platinum cast album playing on repeat. Its crafty lyrics, hip-hop tunes, and big, bold story have even rejuvenated interest in the real lives and true histories that Hamilton: the Musical puts center stage.

This online talk offers a fascinating, critical look at the history underlying the musical. He’ll explore the Hamilton phenomenon to reveal what its success tells us about the marriage of history and show business. Learn what this amazing musical got right and got wrong about Alexander Hamilton, the American Revolution, and the birth of the United States, and why that matters. Examine some of the choices Hamilton’s creators made to simplify, dramatize, and humanize the complicated events and stories on which the show is based.

A ticket is $12. This talk will NOT remain available online in its recorded form. Go to https://www.crowdcast.io/e/hamilton and https://www.facebook.com/events/1120768658295614/.

37] – On Tues., June 30 from 7:30 to 8:45 PM, get with Zero Waste is Overwhelming, Less Waste is Not, hosted by Homewood Recycling. Engage in a dialogue about practical waste reduction, and discuss simple, sustainable swaps and how to implement them through habit-formation techniques.  After registering, you will receive an email with further details. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/662247871025306/.

38] – The power of money has corrupted the system and the system won’t fix itself without massive structural change. That’s the goal: an amendment that fundamentally changes how we fund our elections so all Americans have a voice.  Join American Promise, Our Revolution, and RootsAction on Tues., June 30 at 8 PM ET for a call on Breaking the Grip of Big Money with Sen. Nina Turner & U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna.  Tune in at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_H2zaWpOaTRucYYR-z9BQEw?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ourrev&utm_content=1+-+Join+American+Promise+Our+Revolution+and&utm_campaign=OR_EM_INV_30DO_200627_1_1&source=OR_EM_INV_30DO_200627_1_1.

39] – Join a webinar on Tues., June 30 at 8 PM ET and share updates on the situation of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and get an overview of the Israeli military law framework, including how it relates to the annexation of the West Bank. Highlight how the Israeli military law and military court system fail to ensure or guarantee fundamental human rights. Register for the webinar at https://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/hr2407_webinar_20200630?utm_campaign=june_2020_webinar_invite&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dcipalestine. The main success in the current congressional session has been to get Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) to introduce H.R. 2407, the "Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living under Israeli Military Occupation Act." The bill prohibits U.S. taxpayer funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.

40] – Fight back against Trump’s judicial appointments. After a blockbuster Supreme Court term (we’re talking decisions on protecting consumers from greedy corporations, and keeping Trump’s tax returns secret, …) we can’t help but think about the role the courts play in every aspect of our lives. And right now, the courts are a bit of a mess. The Senate just confirmed Donald Trump’s 200th judge to the federal bench -- that’s 200 conservative judges who get to serve for life. Want to learn more about the impact of these lifetime appointments? Watch the newest episode of COURTBUSTERS, the latest YouTube series where I unpack why Trump’s judicial appointments are a direct threat to our democracy. Indivisible is partnering with Take Back the Court and Demand Justice for an hour-long virtual rally on Tues., June 30 at 8 PM EDT. Join Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Ro Khanna, Alicia Garza, W. Kamau Bell, and Dan Pfeiffer to delve deeper into the problems facing our courts and how and why we should reform them. RSVP HERE https://act.indivisible.org/signup/060820-virtual-protest-end-scotus-term-we-are-not-powerless-fight-back/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=link1_20200626&t=8&akid=61705%2E839288%2EZiNnWI.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs