• Requiring a minimum sentence of dishonorable discharge and dismissal for conviction of sexual assault;
• Assigning at least one fulltime [sic] sexual assault nurse examiner to all military medical facilities that offer 24-hour emergency care;
• Instituting a Special Victims' Counsel program in each service to provide specialized legal counsel to survivors of sexual assault;
• Prohibiting retaliation against service members for reporting a criminal offense while enhancing protections for military whistleblowers;
• Changing the rules for the military equivalent of a grand jury to better protect sexual assault survivors; and,
• Strengthening the review of decisions not to prosecute certain charges of sexual offenses.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has been an ardent supporter of forest health and wildland firefighting, and he continues to probe for more information to enhance how fires are managed.
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Udall wrote a letter Monday to Northern Command leader Gen. Charles Jacoby and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell asking for a retrospective for the Black Forest Fire.
Udall, along with Colorado's other Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, instigated a major study following the Waldo Canyon Fire that investigates the ecological, social and operational issues involved in fighting that blaze, which claimed 347 homes in Colorado Springs last year.
In his latest effort, Udall thanks Jacoby and Tidwell for their participation in the Black Forest Fire and what further lessons might be learned. He also asked them to explain procedural changes that made the rapid response possible.
From a news release:
Udall has been a leading voice for ensuring that Colorado and the West have adequate resources to prepare for the threat of wildfire, including pressing the U.S. Air Force to quickly transfer and repurpose excess aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to fight wildfires. He also led the fight to ensure the U.S. Forest Service was able to cut through red tape and secure seven next-generation air tankers. One of the next-generation air tankers Udall fought to acquire helped fight the Black Forest Fire.
Udall also pushed to pass a bipartisan amendment to the U.S. Senate's 2014 budget to allocate $100 million more for wildland firefighting and he successfully secured federal funds to repair drinking-water supplies damaged by 2012's Waldo Canyon and High Park fires.
Here's his letter to Jacoby and Tidwell:
Good news for those who believe in equality: The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and decided that Proposition 8, California's law banning same-sex marriage, will stay dead.
So what does that mean for Colorado same-sex couples? Not a lot. State Attorney General John Suthers noted in a release that the decisions won't spell the end of Colorado's ban on gay marriage.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RESPONDS TO SUPREME COURT SAME SEX MARRIAGE DECISIONS
DENVER—The United States Supreme Court issued opinions today on two cases involving same sex marriage. U.S. v. Windsor was a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which denied certain federal benefits to same sex couples married under state laws. Hollingsworth v. Perry was a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 declaring a marriage was between one man and one woman. Proposition 8 is virtually identical to a Colorado constitutional provision passed by voters in 2006.
In striking down DOMA on a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court reiterated that Congress is not given the power in the U.S. Constitution to define marriage and that what constitutes marriage remains the exclusive province of the states. The opinion clarifies that the federal government cannot discriminate against same sex couples recognized as married under state laws. The Attorney General’s Office did not weigh in on the merits of the DOMA case in the Supreme Court.
In the Proposition 8 case, on a 5-4 vote, the court dismissed the case on procedural grounds because the state officials named as defendants in that case declined to defend the state law or appeal the ruling of the trial court striking it down. The 9th Circuit decision invalidating Proposition 8 was therefore vacated, leaving in place the federal trial court decision invalidating Proposition 8. That decision does not invalidate laws of other states, like Colorado, which limit marriage to a man and a woman. As a result, the Supreme Court did not rule on the status of state laws and constitutional amendments that expressly prohibit same sex marriage.
Attorney General John W. Suthers issued the following statement in response to the decisions:
"We joined an amicus brief in the Proposition 8 case seeking clarity about the ability of states to adopt traditional definitions of marriage as Colorado’s voters did in 2006. The Supreme Court did not provide such clarity today. We will continue to analyze the opinions and will be prepared to defend Colorado statutes and constitutional provisions in the future."
For the sixth year running, a ban on funding to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site is making its way into law.
In a news release, Not 1 More Acre!, an advocacy group fighting to keep the Army from claiming more land in southeast Colorado for maneuvers, announced the military construction budget that was marked up in the Military Construction Subcommittee of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee today will continue the funding ban on "any action that relates to or promotes the expansion of the boundaries or size of the U.S. Army's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site."
Here's the entire news release from Jean Aguerre, president of Not 1 More Acre!
Keeping the funding ban in the law has been a top priority for N1MA! as it fights to protect fragile prairie lands being ravaged by the Pentagon's armored tanks, high-tech weapons systems and training at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. The funding ban was first passed by Congress in 2007 to stop a massive secretly planned military expansion across 6.9 million acres of fragile native grasslands. For technical reasons related to the U.S. Senate's failure to enable a permanent prohibition on expansion of the site, the funding ban must be renewed every year by expansion opponents and their Representatives in the House.
Aguerre announced the renewal of the funding ban for the sixth consecutive year as Not 1 More Acre! hurled its third challenge against the Army's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site environmental disclosures in just six weeks. The latest N1MA! rebuke was filed Wednesday (May 15, 2013) by the Denver-based Ewegen Law Firm in response to the "Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact for the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan 2013 - 2017 for Fort Carson and the PiÃ±on Canyon Maneuver Site."
[Find that document here: 2013-2017-Integrated-natural-resource-management-plan-and-environmental-assessment.pdf]
N1MA's latest effort to parry the Army's expansion plans followed on the heels of objections filed on Tax Day, April 15 that exposed the Army's shadowy partial disclosure of illegal construction supporting expansion at PCMS. Just three weeks earlier, on March 21, N1MA! protested the Army's claim that ongoing and expanded operations at the remote Southern Great Plains maneuver site pose no significant environmental or economic impacts. N1Ma's reprimand called those findings a "bizarre greenwash of an ongoing assault on fragile prairie grasslands in an area that Fritz L. Knopf, an historical Great Plains ecologist, describes as the 'headwinds' of the 1930s Dust Bowl."
The N1MA! reproach filed Wednesday accused the Army of continuing to "piecemeal its plans for the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in an effort to sidestep basic requirements of the funding ban, the National Environmental Policy Act and a 2009 Federal District Court ruling that vacated the PCMS Transformation Record of Decision issued by the Army in its original efforts to expand the site."
Over the last nearly eight years the Army has issued a staggering 10,000 pages of alleged
NEPA documentation - all of which make the absurd claim that the Army's actions have no significant impact to the quality of the environment, economy and culture of the Southern Great Plains.
In one segmented document after the next, the Army's analysis methodology ignores science and even the sound principles of science that establish military damage to the shortgrass prairie are irreparable and irreversible. Even as military training expands - less than 5% of the PCMS is off limits to training - and intensifies, the Army and its tax-supported real estate partners encumbering land in the region to be managed for military needs employ environmental tactics that appear to trick 'neighbors' and the public into believing that impacts will be insignificant.
While admitting the "sheer amount of alphabet soup" generated by the Army's disclosures and the legal processes are confusing, Aguerre said the underlying theory of the law isn't complicated. The Sikes Act, passed in 1960, recognizes the importance and value of natural and
cultural resources to military lands. Accordingly, the Sikes Act requires the Department of Defense to develop and implement Integrated Natural and Cultural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs/ICRMPs) for military installations across the United States.
"As a further example of this deceptive piecemealing, N1MA! asks where the Integrated Cultural Resource Management Plan is and why it wasn't issued as part of the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan? And, why - except to mislead and confuse taxpayers - does the Army continue to ignore science that proves all the past, current and future military damage will devastate the entire region? The Army's 'make-believe NEPA' fails to comply either the spirit or letter of the law while perpetrating real-life catastrophic impacts to our security and health," Aguerre said.
The Army's latest mockery of environmental and economic impact analysis should be withdrawn because it fails to meet the basic requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. It also fails to heed the mandates of Congress as expressed in the funding ban - renewed for the sixth consecutive year on this very day. This Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan fails to make sense from a policy standpoint and it would both sanction and inflict massive and irreversible damage on America's last major intact grassland, a fragile ecosystem that elsewhere has not yet recovered from the devastation wrought by ill-considered federal government policies that led to plowing of these fragile grasslands in the 1920s in the bone-headed public campaign that "rain follows the plow." In fact, what followed the plow when the inevitable drought cycle reasserted itself was this nation's most catastrophic environmental collapse, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
The Army, its contractors and politicians, in defiance of the law, scientific knowledge and common sense, are effectively asking the public to believe that "rain will follow the tank!" and magically reseed and renew these tortured lands. Alas, the best science on this subject shows that the notion that invasive species can somehow revive devastated grasslands that required thousands of years of natural processes to reach their original productive state is a discredited policy as misguided and mischievous as the original "rain follows the plow" folly, Aguerre said.
But that doesn't mean the Army is giving up. It continues to try to win the hearts and minds of people in southern Colorado, including those of tender age.
Here's a shot of a Girl Scout being indoctrinated into the ways of war, sent to us from Doug Holdread of Trinidad:
And here's a report on how the Army is appealing to the young folk in Trinidad.
The exclusionary policies of the Scouts has been an issue for decades. We wrote about it here. Those who have advocated for greater inclusivity are responding to the announcement, saying it's a step in the right direction, but it fails to go far enough.
The Courage Campaign, for instance, notes the following:
Statement by Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of CourageCampaign.org on the Boy Scout’s announcement today:
"Despite the efforts of a vocal minority, from politics to business to culture, we are seeing a rapid and historic shift towards equality for all. The Boy Scouts are now beginning to catching up with this reality. This is yet another step in the right direction towards ending discrimination against LGBT youth across this country. Yet, the Boy Scouts need to go further and end all discrimination within their organization. Discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality."
President Barack Obama has signed a bill that will provide $65.5 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Funds to locally governments that apply. Locally, $9.6 million (match included) has already been requested for mitigation on the Waldo Canyon burn scar, which is expected to produce dangerous floods. (Read more about that topic here.)
Colorado's U.S. senators and representatives had been seeking the funding since last year, but had not been able to get approval until recently. Assuming Colorado Springs gets the funding, more mitigation projects will be done to prevent flooding in neighborhoods and commercial areas, which is expected to be a huge problem in the summer months.
Projects, which can lessen but not eliminate flood risk, will take time. Flood risk will still remain high for years to come.
The release from Sen. Michael Bennet's office:
President Signs Wildfire Recovery Assistance into Law
Emergency Watershed Protection Funds Will Help Protect Drinking Water, Restore Watersheds
Denver, CO — President Obama today signed into law a bill that includes $65.5 million in resources for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, which will help Colorado communities recovering from last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon and High Park fires. The bill will fund the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.
“This is a big win for Colorado and represents a strong team effort from local and federal officials. Now our communities in Colorado will finally be able to complete vital recovery projects that will protect drinking water and watershed infrastructure,” Bennet said. “While we continue to repair and rebuild from the devastation of last season’s fires, we must also turn our focus to preparing for what may be another difficult fire season. We need a strong federal commitment to be ready to respond emergencies quickly and to assist communities and victims as they recover. Homeowners can also use this time to take every possible precaution to help mitigate any potential wildfire damage to their property and to their lives.”
The federal EWP program is designed to support efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. The $65.5 million would cover the nationwide backlog of EWP recovery projects stemming from major disasters.
Bennet visited the Greeley-Bellvue Water Treatment Plant in northern Colorado in January to highlight the need for federal resources to protect drinking water in the wake of last summer’s wildfires. During the visit, Bennet and local leaders from Greeley, Fort Collins, and Larimer County discussed the region’s work to preserve and protect watersheds. Last month, he visited the Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs, which burned to the ground during last year’s Waldo Canyon wildfire and embodies the challenges that Colorado communities across the state face as they work to recover from a devastating wildfire season.
Federal resources for the recovery projects through the EWP program were secured in a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate last year, but the House chose not to take up that bill prior to adjourning its session on January 2, and the bill expired. In the 113th Congress, House leadership drafted a new bill that excluded resources for Colorado and other states hit by disasters around the country. The President has since signed that bill into law to get much-needed assistance to states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
# # #
Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis are the proud parents of five kids: a 9-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl, and 6-year-old triplets.
When the triplets were born, it appeared they had two boys, Max and Coy, and one girl, Lily. But by the time the kids were 18 months old, that equation was being called into question.
While Max was the typical boy — his current obsession is dinosaurs — Coy liked princess dresses and high heels. The Mathises tried to appease Coy, buying pink boys' clothes, but by the time the child entered school it was becoming clear that this wasn't just a phase.
Coy threw fits when asked to put on boys' clothes to go on outings. The child was teased by peers when she insisted that she was a girl. One day, Coy came home completely devastated that her teacher had moved her from the "girls' line" to the "boys' line" during a classroom activity.
"She came home and said, 'My teacher doesn’t even know that I’m a girl!'” Kathryn remembers.
That was the last straw. The family headed to the doctor and the psychologist, who told them that they needed to let Coy be herself. Given that Coy had always acted in a feminine matter, no one in the family was particularly surprised or upset.
“I don't think there was any kind of loss of a son," Kathryn says. "We just gained an awesome daughter."
While some would say that 6 is very young to go through such a situation, Kathryn notes that discussions about gender-reassignment surgery or pills that can delay puberty (and the changes to the body that come with it) are still a long, long way off. Right now, they're just letting Coy be Coy.
“I just think back to when I was a child and no one had to tell me I was a girl," Kathryn says. "I knew I was a girl.”
Besides, Kathryn notes, Coy is a triplet, and though her other children were raised under the exact same conditions, neither of the others was transgendered. This, she believes, is innate to Coy.
So in September 2011, the family met with school administrators at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain to discuss the situation. Kathryn remembers being blown away at how accepting they were of her child.
That year, Coy transitioned to being a girl. She wore girls' clothes, stood in girls' lines and went to the girls' bathroom. It was the happiest Kathryn had ever seen her child. Coy became bubbly and enthusiastic, and her grades shot up. She also made friends who were accepting of her differences. Parents were equally understanding.
So Kathryn says it was a big surprise when school officials contacted her in December to say that Coy would no longer be allowed to use the girls' restroom. Kathryn says she was told that there had been no problems with Coy, but school officials were concerned that problems would crop up later when Coy was in middle school and high school, and they didn't want to set a precedent.
Kathryn called a lawyer, hopeful the situation could be resolved without involving Coy. She asked the school district to allow Coy to keep using the girls' restroom while the lawyers worked out the issue. The district refused. In response, Kathryn has pulled all of her children out of school and is home schooling them.
She's also taking legal action.
Tomorrow, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund will hold a press conference at the Capitol Building to announce the filing of a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on Coy's behalf. It will be the first case looked at under the Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act involving bathroom use by a transgender person.
In the meantime, Coy is eager to get back to school. She has been mostly separated from her friends, and Kathryn says her daughter is lonely.
In the last few days, however, Coy has had plenty of company — from the media.
Kathryn says she was initially hesitant to bring her story forward, but she eventually felt it was the right thing to do. Coy has appeared on Katie Couric's show and on CNN, and is expected to be featured heavily in local media.
Here's a release that went out Tuesday that promises to up the profile of Coy's story.
Colorado Family to Announce Complaint Alleging School Discrimination Against Transgender Child
Legal Complaint Alleges Six-Year-Old Transgender Girl Denied Access to Girls' Bathrooms at School
DENVER, CO - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, February 27, on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building to announce the filing of a Complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who has been barred from using the girls’ bathrooms at her elementary school. For the past year, Coy Mathis, a first-grader at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO, has used the girls’ bathrooms. In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed her parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The District ordered Coy to use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom. This is the first case to challenge a restriction on a transgender person’s bathroom use under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, February 27, 11:00 am
WHERE: West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building, 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado
WHO: TLDEF Executive Director Michael D. Silverman; Kathryn Mathis, Jeremy Mathis, six-year-old Coy Mathis and siblings, community members.
WHY: “We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student ,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother. “Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender.”
“By forcing Coy to use a different bathroom than all the other girls, Coy’s school is targeting her for stigma, bullying and harassment,” said Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, and one of Coy’s lawyers. “Through the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Coloradans have made it clear that they want all Colorado children to have a fair and equal chance in school,” he added. “Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness.”
In a report out this morning, USA Today breaks down the potential impact of sequestration, or a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts, state-by state. Colorado certainly sees a big threat, with more than 4,800 Army-related jobs affected (either furloughed or lost) and another 6,000-plus civilian Air Force jobs furloughed.
In a small bit of consolation, though, those numbers are markedly lower than some of those bandied about during the first sequester scare, of a couple months ago.
The cuts are scheduled to be enacted March 1, unless Congress can find a way to avert them.
To see how Colorado’s Army situation stacks up to that of other states, you can scroll through the budget-cut breakdown on the left of the map at the top of the page. More detailed Army information, as well as Air Force numbers, follow after the USA Today story itself.
Across the world today, a movement is sending women into the streets to dance, sing and call for an end to violence against women. The site for the movement, called One Billion Rising, shows crowds dancing in Pittsburgh, New Delhi, Sudan, Indonesia, Atlanta, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other locales.
They'll be dancing in Denver today too, if you're feeling the love. The party starts at 5 p.m.
While the flash mob is a lively occasion, the cause it's fighting for is grave. One Billion Rising notes that, "One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime."
Do you like coffee?
Do you like the National Rifle Association?
Have you ever wished that there was a way to combine these two likes? Now you can. The folks behind a company called Second Amendment Coffee are advertising that if you buy your coffee through them, they will donate 3 percent of your purchase to the NRA.
Second Amendment Coffee is a tiny, patriotic, entrepreneurial venture. It was started on a shoe-string budget by a displaced professional in an economic recession. Similar to group-funding platforms such as IndieGoGo.com or Kickstarter.com, the button below allows you to Safely & Securely contribute financially to the growth of Second Amendment Coffee.
The company, which is based in Georgia, also has a Facebook page.
And, since we're on the subject, here's Alex Jones, the "paleoconservative" radio show host and gun-rights advocate, yelling at journalist Piers Morgan. Jones is a supporter of a petition to deport the British Morgan, after Morgan made his gun-regulation beliefs known.
Since I'm a pessimist in my early 30s, I'm not that excited that the Social Security Administration is moving into the 21st century.
I highly doubt I'll ever see a Social Security check.
But for those who are older (or more optimistic), a chance to understand your benefits or apply to receive them sans the stacks of bureaucratic paperwork will likely be appealing. So here's the good news: The Social Security Administration has discovered the Internet.
A new portal will allow you to check out where you stand and apply for SS benefits and related government goodies like Medicare.
Social Security Announces New Online Services Available with a my Social Security Account
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the agency is expanding the services available with a my Social Security account, a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their benefit verification letter, payment history, and earnings record instantly using their online account. Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information online.
“We are making it even easier for people to do their business with us from the comfort of their home, office, or library,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I encourage people of all ages to take advantage of our award-winning online services and check out the new features available through an online my Social Security account.”
Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients with a my Social Security account can go online and get an official benefit verification letter instantly. The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to secure loans, mortgages and other housing, and state or local benefits. Additionally, people use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. People can print or save a customized letter.
Social Security processed nearly nine million requests for benefit verification letters in the past year. This new online service allows people to conduct business with Social Security without having to visit an office or make a phone call, and very often wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. It also will reduce the time spent by employees completing these requests and free them to focus on other workloads.
People age 18 and older can sign up for an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once there, they must be able to provide information about themselves and answers to questions that only they are likely to know. After completing the secure verification process, people can create a my Social Security account with a unique user name and password to access their information.
People age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get a personalized online Social Security Statement. The online Statement provides eligible workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information, and estimates of future benefits they can use to plan for their retirement. In addition, the portal also includes links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare.
“Given our significantly reduced funding, we have to find innovative ways to continue to meet the needs of the American people without compromising service,” said Commissioner Astrue. “These new enhancements will allow us to provide faster service to more people in more places.”
For more information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Sen. Mark Udall wants more money to fight fires and mitigate afterward. The Democrat from Colorado has teamed up with Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, to introduce an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance that would add $653 million to the agency's budget.
Given the continuing drought, fires in the west, including Colorado, are only going to get worse as time goes by.
Udall already paired with Colorado's other Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, in October to push for a study of the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires in Colorado last summer. Both claimed hundreds of homes. We reported on that letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, which is dated three days after we raised questions to both senators about whether they would seek some kind of investigation, here.
Now, Udall is seeking additional funding to be used for pre-positioning ground crews, hot shots, and air support in places where wildfire risk is high, Udall and Tester say in a press release, which also states:
The funds also would be available for the acquisition of additional large air tankers and the removal of hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, the fire-prone areas between cities and the backcountry.
The United States faced the third worst wildfire season in the nation's history, with more than 9.2 million acres burned, including record-setting blazes in Colorado and other parts of the West. The federal government, however, will enter the 2013 fire season with only eight large air tankers compared to 44 in 2000.
The federal fire-management budget also has failed to keep pace with the cost of actually fighting wildfires, forcing the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to dip into accounts set aside for other purposes, such as watershed restoration and rangeland management.
Udall and Tester's proposed amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance restores $653 million to the Forest Service's Wildland Fire Management Account, which funds wildland fire preparedness, suppression, hazardous fuels reduction, fire research and development, and state fire assistance. The amendment would increase the budget request for the Wildland Fire Management fund to the projected median cost of the fire season, $1.584 billion.
Read the entire press release here.
When the crowd alternates hollering out "Amen" with "Whoohoo," you know this ain't grandpa's Catholic mass.
But then Sister Simone Campbell, the 67-year-old nun who's touring the U.S. right now in a white vehicle labeled "Nuns on the Bus," probably isn't your Catholic grandpa's habit, either.
In fact, Sister Simone is a bit of a rock-star, left-leaning radical. The executive director of Network, a 40-year-old progressive organization of nuns, is featured this month in Rolling Stone's story "The Sisters Crusade," a piece that opens with her struggle to sit down with former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to talk about the national budget.
The bus tour stopped by Colorado Springs' Meadows Park Community Center at lunchtime today with Sister Simone at the helm, who pledged a continued fight for those less fortunate. Much of her discussion had to do with sharing the word about The Faithful Budget:
A collaboration of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities and organizations, The Faithful Budget promotes comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will “protect the common good, values each individual and his or her livelihood, and helps lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it while shielding the wealthiest from any additional sacrifice.”
No matter that President Obama has won a second term — "we have a bit more work to do," she said to a group of about 75 people. "The election is over, and we might all think, 'Oh praise God we don't have to watch those ads anymore.' But the fact is, our work has just begun. Because tomorrow Congress reconvenes, God help us."
If the Good Father hasn't heard them yet, at least now they've got a little extra media behind them.
"Heaven only knows what happens after Rolling Stone," Sister Simone told the Indy after her presentation. "It's amazing."