Friday, July 25, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Military Chick


Hey, Ladies, “You’re mamma wears combat boots!” Taunted as an insult a generation ago, women in combat boots will soon be featured in women’s magazines. The marines are placing full page ads in women’s magazine’s such as Self, Shape, and Fitness in an effort to recruit women. But gals, don’t get on your soapbox about women’s equality, yet. This is an act of desperation, not of respect. At the same time the military is hoping to recruit more women, they are doubling their number of recruited felons. Lying in your foxhole next to you could be a convicted rapist, child molester, thief, even someone convicted of a terrorist bomb threat. Makes you wonder about an institution that feels more comfortable recruiting rapists than gay people, and about a nation that allows convicts to die in the name of democracy, but not vote in many of its states.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Help New Orleans Support S. 1668



There is a bill in Congress that would create a path home for some of the hardest hit Katrina survivors. The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007 (S.1668) would re-open desperately needed housing and make sure there is no loss of affordable public housing in New Orleans.1

Unfortunately, the Bush administration and several senators are opposing its passage, paving the way for a whiter, wealthier New Orleans and Gulf Coast.2

Can you add your voice to those calling on the Senate to pass S.1668?

Click on http://www.colorofchange.org/s1668/?id=2018-73545 to help!

Safe Holiday Shopping

Consumers Union has 12 shopping tips that will help families enjoy a safe and merry holiday:

1. Do not buy metal jewelry – especially cheap metal jewelry – for young children. About 20 percent of children’s metal jewelry has high levels of lead lurking beneath the surface coating. A child who mouths or accidentally swallows a piece of lead-laden jewelry can suffer lead poisoning.

2. You can test toys for lead by using a home lead test kit. Although they are not always accurate, a positive test result indicates a high likelihood that the product you’re testing has lead. Consumer Reports recommends the Lead Check and the Lead Inspector, which performed best in our tests.

3. Be careful of toys with magnets. Many toys have small magnets that can fall out and, if swallowed, can cause serious health problems that are hard to diagnose. Don’t buy toys with magnetic parts that are small enough to be swallowed.

4. If you find loose, small magnets anywhere around the house, track down the source. Immediately take the product and any of its other magnetic components away from your child and contact the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.CPSC.gov.

5. Avoid no-name products and be careful of toys purchased at dollar stores, street fairs, vending machines, thrift stores, or yard sales.

6. When purchasing arts and crafts materials, stay away from permanent paints and markers. Look for water-based paints and glues. For a child under three years old, purchase age-appropriate material that your child can’t swallow rather than small foam pieces or small pom-pom balls.

7. Look for the age grading on toy packages and purchase only age-appropriate toys for your child. The age grading not only relates to play value but also to safety.

8. Some toys may be inappropriate for your toddlers and babies. Toys labeled for children 3 and over may have small parts that can be a choking hazard for children under 3 years old. If you have children under 3 don’t buy a toy with this warning label.

9. Do your own safety check to determine if your child’s toys are choking hazards for young children. If his or her toy fits through a toilet-paper tube, it is a potential choking hazard. The government-approved test for choking hazards is done with a smaller tube. The more stringent toilet-paper tube test helps you keep questionable toys out of your child’s hands and mouth.

10. Beware of toys that can be broken into smaller pieces such as chalk, crayons, or caps from markers. They can pose choking hazards to toddlers and babies.

11. Small balls, tricycles, and balloons are the leading causes of death attributed to toys. Balls less than 1-3/4 inches in diameter can pose a choking hazard to young children. Balloons were associated with more than 110 deaths since 1973. Children can suffocate while trying to blow up a balloon or while chewing on or sucking a balloon.

12. Before you shop, check recent toy recalls at www.recalls.gov and at www.notinmycart.org. You can also sign up for automatic recall notifications at www.cpsc.gov.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Anti-War March, NYC, October 27th



I just wanted to write a special thank you to all the people who took the time to march in New York City and so many other cities on Saturday, October 27th to protest the war in Iraq, demand that our troops come home, and protest any pending war with Iran. For every one of you that was there, there are hundreds of us who couldn't go this time, but were with you in spirit, and thank you for caring enough to take the time to go and represent us!

Iraq, Afghan Vets at Risk for Suicides

Abridged version of an article by Kimberly Hefling,
The Associated Press

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Washington -

A total of 147 troops have killed themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the wars, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center, which tracks casualties for the Pentagon.

Add the number of returning veterans and the finding is that at least 430 of the 1.5 million troops who have fought in the two wars have killed themselves over the past six years. And that doesn't include people like Gallagher's husband who committed suicide after their combat tours and while still in the military - a number the Pentagon says it doesn't track.

That compares with at least 4,227 U.S. military deaths overall since the wars started - 3,840 in Iraq and 387 in and around Afghanistan.

In response, the VA is ramping up suicide prevention programs.

Research suggests that combat trauma increases the risk of suicide, according to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Difficulty dealing with failed relationships, financial and legal troubles, and substance abuse also are risk factors among troops, said Cynthia O. Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman...


Suicides in Iraq have occurred since the early days of the war, but awareness was heightened when the Army said its suicide rate in 2006 rose to 17.3 per 100,000 troops - the highest in 26 years of record-keeping.

That compares with 9.3 per 100,000 for all military services combined in 2006 and 11.1 per 100,000 for the general U.S. population in 2004, the latest year statistics were available. The Army has said the civilian rate for the same age and gender mix as in the Army is 19 to 20 per 100,000 people.

Just looking at the VA's early numbers, Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's deputy chief patient care service officer for mental health, said there does not appear to be an epidemic of suicides among those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who left the military.

Katz said post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and problem drinking increase a person's suicide risk by two or three times, but the rate of suicide among those with those conditions "is still very, very low."

Katz acknowledged, however, that it is too early to know the long-term ramifications for those who served in the wars and said the VA "is very intensely involved in increasing suicide prevention."

"We're not doing it because there's an epidemic in returning veterans, though each death of a returning veteran is a tragedy and it's important to prevent it," Katz said.

The VA and Defense Department have hired more counselors and made other improvements in mental health care, including creation of a veterans suicide prevention hotline.

At the VA's national suicide hotline center based in Canandaigua, N.Y., counselors have taken more than 9,000 calls since July. Some callers are just looking for someone to talk to. Others are concerned family members. Callers who choose to give their names can opt to be met at a local VA center by a suicide prevention counselor; more than 120 callers have been rescued by emergency personnel - some after swallowing pills or with a gun nearby, according to the center...

One government study of Army veterans from Vietnam found they were more likely to die from suicide than other veterans in the first five years after leaving the military, although the study found that the likelihood dissipated over time. There is still heated debate, however, over the total number of suicides by Vietnam veterans; the extent to which it continues even today is unknown.

One major hurdle in stopping suicide is getting people to ask for help. From 20 percent to 50 percent of active duty troops and reservists who returned from war reported psychological problems, relationship problems, depression and symptoms of stress reactions, but most report that they have not sought help, according to a report from a military mental health task force.

"It's only when it becomes painful will someone seek counseling," said Chris Ayres, manager of the combat stress recovery program at the Wounded Warrior Project, a private veterans' assistance group based in Jacksonville, Fla. "That's usually how it happens. Nobody just walks in, because it's the hardest thing for a male, a Marine, a type-A personality figure to just go in there and say, 'Hey, I need some help.'"

While not suicidal, Ayres, 37, a former Marine captain from the Houston area who had the back of his right leg blown off in Iraq, has experienced episodes related to his post-traumatic stress disorder and said he worried about being stigmatized if he got help.

He's since learned to manage through counseling, and he's encouraging other veterans to get help.

Ayres is among 28,000 Americans injured in the war, more than 3,000 seriously.

In a study published earlier this year, researchers at Portland State University found that veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as male nonveterans. High gun ownership rates, along with debilitating injuries and mental health disorders, were all risk factors that seemed to put the veterans at greater risk, said Mark Kaplan, one of the researchers.

While veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were not included in the study, Kaplan said that given the nature of the injuries of the recent wars and the strain of long and repeated deployments, the newer generation of veterans could be at risk for suicide.

Kaplan said primary care physicians should ask patients whether they are veterans, and if the answer is yes, inquire about their mental health.

"This is war unlike other wars and we don't know the long-term implications and the hidden injuries of war," Kaplan said.

Dr. Dan Blazer, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center who served this year on the military's mental health task force, said improvements in care will likely help some veterans, but he's concerned about this generation. He said he treats World War II veterans still struggling mentally with their military experience.

"There's still going to be individuals that just totally slip through all of these safety nets that we construct to try to help things in the aftermath," Blazer said.

Suicide, Blazer said, "is a cost of war. It's a big one."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Here's to Young People Taking Action in New Orleans



I think you will join me in being really impressed by these young people taking action to rebuild New Orleans. With young leaders like this New Orleans will survive and thrive! Let's give them the support they need!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You can still help New Orleans



Today, August 29th, is the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Today there are still tens of thousands of families without homes. 30,000 families are scattered across the country in FEMA apartments, 13,000 are in trailers, and hardly any of the 77,000 rental units destroyed in New Orleans have been rebuilt. And this is just one of the many issues the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still dealing with.

Today, United for Peace and Justice re-affirms our commitment to the struggle to shift the use of our tax dollars away from war and toward the rebuilding of the communities still suffering from Katrina, and serving the many other needs of communities around the country. On this sad anniversary, we urge you to re-commit to this critically important work, a struggle that is interwoven with our efforts to end the war and occupation in Iraq.

We want to call your attention to a new short film produced Brave New Foundation, "When the Saints Go Marching In."
Here's what the filmmakers have to say: "During the making of this video, we heard the heartbreaking stories of good people unable to return home. We have heard the story of the Aguilar family who lost their home to the storm and only received $4,000 in payments from their insurance company. We have met Mr. Washington, an 87-year-old man and former carpenter, who owned three homes prior to the storm. He is still living in a FEMA trailer today. And we've met Julie, who could have returned to her job and normal life, if the government had opened up the public housing units that she had lived in prior to the storm."

After watching the film and hearing these voices, there is something very specific you can do to help. Sign the petition urging the Senate to pass the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007 (S1668). The bill is expected to come to a vote after Labor Day. Its passage will be an important step toward rebuilding the infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region.
- From United for Peace and Justice

From Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans:

Greetings friends of Habitat!

We have had a busy and productive summer! Thanks to all the volunteers who keep New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity going!

We are in need of volunteers through the fall!

If you have not volunteered with us in a while, now is the perfect opportunity! If you have never volunteered with us, now is your chance.


Remember: you do not need any construction skills to make a huge contribution!

Our new work week runs Tuesday through Saturday. To sign up to volunteer, please visit our website: http://www.habitat-nola.org/.

If you have a group of 15 or more, please email me directly.

Thank you for your support and the gift of your time!


In Partnership,

Melissa Manuselis
Volunteer Coordinator
AmeriCorps Supervisor
504.861.4121 p
504.866.6004 f
http://www.habitat-nola.org/

Admire the Resilience of New Orleans



Live music from Vaughan's in New Orleans! Go there and see for yourself -- a rebirth of music and culture!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rebuilding New Orleans Ethically




I come upon this video, the same day I read in the Wall Street Journal that


"A group of homeowners filed suit against the City of New Orleans and Ray Nagin, seeking damages for houses they say were illegally targeted for demolition as part of the city's drive to clean up properties damaged by Hurricane Katrina...The suit alleges that the city plans to continue demolishing houses "without the permission of the homeowners, without securing legal authority, and without providing reasonable notice and/or any opportunity for the homeowners to be heard....residents say the city has demolished some houses that were already under repair, targeted others that were never badly damaged and repeatedly failed to give homeowners proper notice that their houses were scheduled for removal."


Over the last few years, I've heard a number of pretty incredible excuses for not helping the people of New Orleans. One of the most common was, "Why rebuild an area that's so dangerous, and that will just be hit by another hurricane in another few years?" Interestingly, that argument seems to hold only when the property owners are of lower income. If it's a hotel or resort developer interested in the property then suddenly, rebuilding is a great idea.

Note, this excerpt from August 2007 "House and Garden" magazine,

"Sean Cummings is asking for a major leap of faith. He wants people to believe that Reinventing the Crescent, a bold scheme to transform four and a half miles of riverfront, will be the cart that drags their city out fo the mud... (Cummings) has used his appointment by Mayor Ray Nagin as executive director of the New Orleans Building Corporation to fund a comptetion among world class architects and planners for a riverfront project meant to make New Orleans a world-class destination...After public review, and one assumes, the help of POWERFUL ALLIES, including recovery czar Edward Blakely, the plan in some form should be adopted. Then each project ... walking and bike paths, chapel performance space, culitnary institute, Tulane and Xavier's RiverSphere, cruise ship terminals, hotel, and condominiums -- will each have to be reviewed separately."

Ok, so what does this mean exactly? Are people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina, now losing their property to developers who are going to profit off it by turning it into some fancy river front showpiece?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but they are certainly the questions we should all be asking!

I certainly hope that people who want to return to their home in New Orleans have that right and that those who choose not to will be fairly compensated for their property. Personally, if a homeowner sells to a developer, I think, they should try to build in a clause that would grant them a percentage of the developer's profits for a certain number of years. I would hate to think that these developers and architects would puff up their resumes and profits by taking advantage of people who suffered due to Hurricane Katrina.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thomas Merton Reflects: Work for Peace

"It is sometimes discouraging to see how small the Christian peace movement is, and especially here in America where it is most necessary. But we have to remember that this is the usual pattern, and the Bible has led us to expect it. Spiritual work is done with disproportionately small and feeble instruments. And now above all when everything is so utterly complex, and when people collapse under the burden of confusions and cease to think at all, it is natural that few may want to take on the burden of trying to effect something in the moral and spiritual way, in political action. Yet this is precisely what has to be done.
[T]he great danger is that under the pressure of anxiety and fear, the alternation of crisis and relaxation and new crisis, the people of the world will come to accept gradually the idea of war, the idea of submission to total power, and the abdication of reason, spirit and individual conscience. The great peril of the cold war is the progressive deadening of conscience.
[I] rely very much on your help and friendship. Send me anything you think will be of service to the cause of peace, and pray that in all things I may act wisely."

Thomas Merton. "Letter to Jean and Hildegard Goss-Mayer." The Hidden Ground of Love. Letters, Volume 1. William H. Shannon. editor. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985: 325-326

Tell Fidelity to Divest and Help the People of Darfur



Fidelity is a major shareholder in PetroChina, whose parent, China National Petroleum Corporation, provides the Sudanese government with hundreds of millions of dollars in oil revenues that help fund genocide in Darfur.

Source: SaveDarfur.org

Toxic Trailers in New Orleans! -- Tell Congress NO!

From: Katrina Informatin Network

Greetings!

After nearly two years, little has changed for the communities hardest hit by the "perfect storm" of public neglect and private profiteering known as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Environmental damage. Children without schools or safe places to stay. Homes and neighborhoods in disrepair while contractors make millions. Yet, basic policies for survivors like victims compensation, restitution, rebuild support much less repair of the levees are still not in place. This is a tragedy and a travesty.

The Katrina Information Network (KIN) has re-launched in order to build a strong national base of people like you, people who care, to stand up for just recovery in the Gulf. Thousands are already involved in actions as simple as weekly emails to organizing selective contracting campaigns. We are asking you for just a few minutes of your time to take action for just recovery, right at your computer.

KIN ACTION OF THE WEEK: Tell FEMA and Congress, "Get Katrina Survivors Out of Toxic Trailers and into Safe, Sustainable Housing"

What's Going On:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided trailers to displaced Katrina survivors contaminated with formaldehyde and other toxins. Given FEMA's poor track record when it comes to protecting the health and welfare of Katrina survivors, their plan to address the toxic trailer issue with testing and investigation is woefully inadequate.

Please act today to let FEMA and Congress know that this is absolutely unacceptable. FEMA must act immediately to provide safe, sustainable housing to every current trailer resident. In addition, there should be a complete investigation of governmental programs and policies to identify other human rights violations and FEMA should present a complete plan to the public with a clear timeline and benchmarks for how it will implement just recovery in the Gulf in accordance with US and human rights law.

Act now to hold FEMA and Congress accountable!
About KIN

The Katrina Information Network (KIN) is a collaboration of groups in the Gulf and across the country to build power for change. Founded in September 2005, KIN uses e-advocacy, grassroots pressure, local actions, resolutions and selective buying, to build pressure for what’s right.

We Believe It’s Time to Draw the Line. Join us.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iraq War Veterans Need Better Care

From: Paul Rieckhoff
Iraq Veteran
Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

You probably remember the fiasco at Walter Reed hospital earlier this year. A series of Washington Post articles revealed the poor conditions, neglect and bureaucratic hurdles that faced outpatients at the Army facility. The public outcry that followed was enormous, and in response President Bush created the Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. The bipartisan group was headed by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Senator Bob Dole, a decorated World War II veteran.

IAVA testified before the Commission, and both Todd Bowers, IAVA Director of Government Affairs, and Patrick Campbell, IAVA Legislative Director, were on site yesterday when the Commission issued its draft final report.

The Commission's findings should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans. Last week the Secretary of the VA resigned. This week a group of disabled veterans is suing the VA for failing to provide them with adequate care. Our veterans' healthcare system is facing tremendous challenges at every level and the Department of Defense and the VA are not ready to respond.

Now we're calling on the President and Congress to ensure that these recommendations are enacted quickly. Click here to read the Associated Press article about the report on CNN.com, featuring IAVA. The Commission's recommendations focused on six key areas:

1. The creation of plans to provide the right care and support at the right time in the right place.
2. Completely restructure the disability and compensation systems.
3. Aggressively prevent and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
4. Significantly strengthen support for military families.
5. Rapidly transfer patient information between DoD and VA.
6. Strongly support Walter Reed until its closing in 2011.

The Commission deserves to be commended for their hard work and dedication. But too often we see reports like this get brief attention in the media and then get pushed aside to collect dust on the shelf. Hopefully, the media will not bury the Commission's findings in the back pages of our nation's newspapers, beneath the latest news of Lindsay Lohan's DUI.
Now, more than ever, there needs to be a clear focus on veterans' care in America. The public outrage following the Walter Reed scandal shined light on the many problems facing wounded troops and veterans. Yesterday, the Dole-Shalala Commission offered their recommendations to resolve these issues. Whether President Bush, the DoD, and the VA can effectively implement these recommendations, however, remains to be seen.

With your support, IAVA is going to put pressure on the President and on Congress to ensure that these recommendations are implemented. And we'll need your help. Keep an eye on your inbox and www.iava.org for updates.


Thank you for standing with us.




Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sting at Live Earth



Sting sings, "How can you say that you are not responsible?" Ouch!

RFK, Jr. Telling it Like it Is at Live Earth



Wow! Here is Robert Kennedy, Jr. telling it like it is at live earth! I haven't heard such a direct and honest speech in such a long time...it's refreshing! Kennedy says that collective political action is even more important than our sole individual efforts to recycle and use more energy efficient light bulbs.

Why isn't this guy running for president?

Madonna Sings, "Hey, you, don't give up!" at Live Earth



Here is Madonna's official video for Live Earth. The Live Earth concert didn't really get as much press in New York as I thought it would. It was only on page ten in the NY Times the next day. I don't know anyone who went, but I spent all day watching it on TV and I definitely notice that I am a little more conscious now and I'm trying to be more green. I unplug my cellphone charger now (Thanks, Petra!), and I even ran back to the car the other day to get my reusable shopping bags. Geeky, I know. Not much. Maybe, but it's a start. I definitely do think more now about how my every day actions will effect the planet. I suppose that was the whole point.

New Documentary on the Genocide in Darfur

The Devil Came on Horseback - trailer

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Can one man make a difference? Former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle hopes so. When he first signs on as an unarmed military observer for the African Union, he is largely motivated by money. Yet, his intentions change dramatically when he makes a life-altering decision to transfer to the strife-ridden Western Sudanese region of Darfur. Armed with nothing more than a still camera, he becomes a singular outside witness to what many call a genocide—a conflict that has displaced 2.5 million people and claimed 400,000 lives. At first, Steidle can hardly register the horror that surrounds him, but he perseveres with his mission nonetheless, using his camera to document the atrocities. He recognizes the need for the world to see, and boldly smuggles his photographs out, inciting media frenzy when they appear in the Op-Ed section of The New York Times. But is this enough to make a difference? Unlike the Rwandan tragedy of 1994, the genocide in Darfur drags on, turning the beautiful mountainous Sudanese terrain into a landscape of murder and neglect. From Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern comes this astonishingly devastating film that journeys from Darfur to the United States, following the transformation of a soldier into an activist.
-Sky Sitney
from (http://silverdocs.com/festival/films/devil-came-horseback/)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Apple Iraq



Really hilarious comedy skit from Mad TV satirizing Bush's policy in Iraq!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Take Action Against Hate Crime!



One in six hate crimes are motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. Yet Federal laws don't protect these people. Watch the video. Then tell your Senators to support the Matthew Shepard Act by clicking here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

True Colors Tour 2007



At Radio City in New York, Cyndi Lauper sings our for gay rights and human rights, encouraging us to "Let our true colors show!" She ends the song saying, "Power to the people. In America, the people still matter."



Encore with Erasure from the Chicago Tour reminding us not to be afraid to let our true colors show! Be strong!


True Colors Tour in DC singing ABBA's "Take A Chance on Me."


A composium of pictures of the True Colors Tour in Columbus, Ohio


True Colors Tour 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Support Paid Family Leave!

From Mom'sRising:

The New York State Legislature is buzzing with talk about paid family leave, but the Assembly and Senate both have to pass a Paid Family Leave bill off the floor by Friday, June 21st! So, now's the time to contact your State Legislator to express your strong support for this policy. Even if you contacted your State Legislator on this issue several weeks ago, it's time to do it again!

*To quickly fax your State Legislator today, click here.
(Here's how it works: Just click the link above, fill out the form with your name and address so the database can match up to your legislative district, edit the freshly drafted sample letter (or not), then hit "Submit." This will send your email directly to your legislators without you ever needing to look anything up. It's nearly magic!)

THIS JUST IN: After passing paid leave in Washington, we're seeing momentum in New Jersey and Oregon too! Help keep it going!

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE ASSEMBLY: Here's what New York Assemblymember Cathy Nolan (a strong proponent of Paid Family Leave and the prime sponsor of a version of the bill) has to say, "Thank you so much for your work on this important issue! It's critically important that your legislators hear from people like you who will directly benefit from this new program. With your help, we can make Paid Family Leave a reality in 2007. Please email your legislators today."

Let's do it! Let's pass this legislation this year!

THE FACTS: The Paid Family Leave bill would provide up to twelve weeks of wages (up to $170 weekly) for employees in the case of birth, adoption/foster care, or a serious illness of the member of the worker's family. Currently, the federal Family & Medical Leave Act provides job-protected leave to large employers, but it is unpaid. The program would be funded by an extremely small employee paycheck deduction, not from employers, which ensures families are supported when they need it most without harming businesses. A similar program is now in effect in California, and was recently passed by the Washington State legislature.

Working together we truly can make a difference--and the more people we have involved, the bigger the impact we'll make!


Thank you! Best - The MomsRising Team

p.s. In case you want some inspiration for action, here're a few facts to ponder:

* The United States is one of only 4 countries in the world that doesn't offer some form of paid leave to new mothers--we join Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Liberia with that dubious distinction. It's time to catch up with the rest of the world.

* Paid family leave has been shown to reduce infant mortality by as much as 20% (and the U.S. ranks a low 37th of all countries in infant mortality), as well as to help keep families out of poverty.

* Right now, having a baby is a leading cause of "poverty spells" in this country (poverty spells are a time when income dips below what's needed for basic living expenses like food and rent). And a full quarter of families with children under six years old live in poverty here. We need paid family leave to help New York's families, to decrease poverty, and to lower infant mortality.

p.p.s. The New York Times did a piece about this Paid Leave just last week!

Monday, June 04, 2007

"Hillary Inc." From the Nation.org:

If Clinton really wanted to curtail the influence of the powerful, she might start with the advisers to her own campaign, who represent some of the weightiest interests in corporate America. Her chief strategist, Mark Penn, not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies. A bevy of current and former Hillary advisers, including her communications guru, Howard Wolfson, are linked to a prominent lobbying and PR firm--the Glover Park Group--that has cozied up to the pharmaceutical industry and Rupert Murdoch. Her fundraiser in chief, Terry McAuliffe, has the priciest Rolodex in Washington, luring high-rolling contributors to Clinton's campaign. Her husband, since leaving the presidency, has made millions giving speeches and counsel to investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. They house, in addition to other Wall Street firms, the Clintons' closest economic advisers, such as Bob Rubin and Roger Altman, whose DC brain trust, the Hamilton Project, is Clinton's economic team in waiting. Even the liberal in her camp, former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, has lobbied for the telecom and healthcare industries, including a for-profit nursing home association indicted in Texas for improperly funneling money to disgraced former House majority leader Tom DeLay. "She's got a deeper bench of big money and corporate supporters than her competitors," says Eli Attie, a former speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. Not only is Hillary more reliant on large donations and corporate money than her Democratic rivals, but advisers in her inner circle are closely affiliated with unionbusters, GOP operatives, conservative media and other Democratic Party antagonists.
From the Nation.org...Read more...

Dennis Kucinich on Universal Health Care



You, go, Senator Kucinich!

Senator Gravel at Democratic Presidential Debate

Green Day -Working Class Hero

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REklstJCauo

Green Day tries to increase awareness on the genocide in Darfur. Listen up!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REklstJCauo

Support Marriage Equality in New York

From The Human Rights Campaign:

HRC invites you to take action for
NY Marriage Equality!

Click here to find the Albany number of your Assemblymember.
When you speak to your Assemblymember's office remember to give them the number of the marriage bill (A.8590). Ask them to support its passage and to advocate with Speaker Silver and their fellow Assemblymembers to vote on the bill before the session ends on June 21.

Please report to Brian Coffin of the Pride Agenda what the Assemblymembers say about marriage equality.

Bcoffin@prideagenda.org (or) 518-472-3330 ext 304

See below for Volunteer Opportunities
to Help Pass Marriage Bill

Now that this moment is here and the Assembly is deciding on whether to vote this year to end the discriminatory denial of marriage to LGBT families, we need you pick up the phone and let your Assemblymember know you want them to pass this bill.


Even Assemblymembers who are co-sponsors or have said they will support the marriage bill need to hear from you again. If you haven?t ever contacted your Assemblymember on this issue, now is the time you need to do it.

Working together we can made this happen! Start making those phone calls now! Contact Your Assemblymember!







--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities in New York



Phone Bank with Empire State Pride Agenda and NYACLU



Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Time: 6 pm

Where: 16 West 22nd Street, 2nd Floor, NYC 10010 (between 5th & 6th Ave)



Meet with Assemblyman Scarborough on June 15

Assemblyman Scarborough represents NY Assembly Distrtict 29 (Jamaica Queens). If you live in this area your presence at this meeting is very important.

To RSVP or for more information please contact Darinka Maldonado at dmaldonado@nyclu.org.

Volunteer for a Pride

Join HRC, Empire State Pride Agenda, and our allies at one of the many New York Prides during the month of June. Pride events are an excellent way to get people active and spread the word about NY Marriage Equality!

To Volunteer Contact Chris Cormier at ccormier@prideagenda.org.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Help Send Two Kids to Uganda to Build a School

Schools around the country are competing to send two of their students to Uganda to help build a school for the "Invisible Children" of Uganda. These "Invisible Children" are children who are at risk of being abducted by rebels there and forced to work as soldiers. With your help, though, these children might be able to go to school instead.

You can also help give two Long Island students a life changing experience. Two students at Calhoun High School could win a trip to Africa if the school raises the most money in the country and I hear they are close. The contest ends at midnight tonight. (Sorry for the short notice, I should have let you know sooner). View the video about "Invisible Children," then if you are moved click here to donate and select "Sanford H. Calhoun" as the school that motivated you to donate. The students there have worked really hard all year to help the "Invisible Children," and they want to win the contest, so they can continue to help by building a school in Uganda.

Watch an intro to the "Invisible Children" video.

The "Invisible Children" campaign really shows the power of the internet. Three young men from California travel to Africa on a shoe string budget with modest cameras and come back to the U.S. and raise awareness of the issue of child soldiers and enough money to build a few schools in Africa.

Whether you decide to make this your cause or not, you should be inspired by what everyday kids can do with energy, cameras, the internet, some imagination, and good hearts.

Rethinking Hillary

Editor' s Note: This is an excerpt of a longer article about Hillary Clinton's circle of advisers, which will appear May 16 in the print version of The Nation.

As Hillary Clinton charges toward the Democratic nomination for President, her campaign has a coterie of influential advisers. There's her husband, of course, widely regarded as one of the sharpest political strategists in the business. There's ├╝ber-Washington insider and former head of the Democratic National Committee Terry McAuliffe. There are A-list policy wonks like former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin. But perhaps the most important figure in the campaign is her pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. Penn is not yet a household name, but perhaps he should be. Inside Hillaryland, he has elaborately managed the centrist image Hillary has cultivated in the Senate. The campaign is polling constantly, and Penn's interpretation of the numbers will in large part decide her political direction.

Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies. This creates a dilemma for Hillary: Penn represents many of the interests whose influence candidate Clinton--in an attempt to appeal to an increasingly populist Democratic electorate--has vowed to curtail. Is what's good for Penn and his business good for Hillary's political career? And furthermore, can she convincingly claim to fight for the average American with Penn guiding strategy in her corner?

...Penn, who had previously worked in the business world for companies like Texaco and Eli Lilly, brought his corporate ideology to the White House. After moving to Washington he aggressively expanded his polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB). It was said that Penn was the only person who could get Bill Clinton and Bill Gates on the same phone line. Penn's largest client was Microsoft, and he saw no contradiction between working for both the plaintiff and the defense in what was at the time the country's largest antitrust case. ...

A host of prominent Republicans fall under Penn's purview. B-M's Washington lobbying arm, BKSH & Associates, is run by Charlie Black, a leading GOP operative who maintains close ties to the White House, including Karl Rove, and was former partners with Lee Atwater, the political consultant who crafted the Willie Horton smear campaign used by George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Black regularly disparages the Clintons; he has called Hillary a "martyr figure" and said Bill "tearfully embraced...government preferences for [a] homosexual lifestyle." In recent years Black's clients have included the likes of Iraq's Ahmad Chalabi, the darling of the neocon right in the run-up to the war; Lockheed Martin; and Occidental Petroleum. In the summer of 2005 he landed a contract with the Lincoln Group, the disgraced PR firm that covertly placed US military propaganda in Iraqi news outlets. The agreement, according to Intelligence Online, allowed the Lincoln Group to "tap into BKSH's extensive contacts in the Republican administration."

...Yet despite occupying such a divisive place in the Democratic Party and outsized role in the corporate world--and despite his company's close ties to Republican political operatives and the Bush White House--Penn remains a leading figure in Hillary's campaign, pitching the inevitability of her nomination to donors and party bigwigs. According to the New York Times, "[Hillary] Clinton responds to Penn's points with exclamations like, Oh, Mark, what a smart thing to say!" Politically, his presence means that triangulation is alive and well inside the campaign and that despite her populist forays, Hillary won't stray too far from the center. "Penn has a lot of influence on her, no doubt about it," says New York political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who worked with Penn in '96

Read the complete article...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Help the Early Childhood Workforce!

From Winning Beginning, NY, an early childhood education advocacy group:

Early childhood advocates from across the state met recently with legislators in Albany for Early Childhood Workforce Development Day to urge passage of important loan forgiveness legislation.

Assembly bill 6759 and Senate bill 4378 would enable the early childhood workforce to pursue more education and credentials and improve the quality of the education our youngest learners receive.

Unfortunately, this legislation is currently stalled in the Codes and Higher Education Committees – and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MOVE THESE BILLS TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE!

Here's what YOU can do:

1. Simply call your Senator Dean Skelos at (518) 455-3171 and your Assembly Member Harvey Weisenberg at (518) 455-3028.

2. Tell them:



To support Assembly bill 6759/ Senate bill 4378, loan forgiveness legislation for the early childhood workforce.


That quality child care requires qualified professionals working with our children.


This legislation would allow the early childhood workforce to continue their education and become better educators - and benefit children in their programs.
3. After you've made your calls, click here and report back to us!

These two bills would make awards of up to a total of $25,000 available for professionals who have engaged in 12 months of service as a child care professional in a licensed day care facility and who have an outstanding loan. Math, science and special education teachers have loan forgiveness programs—why not those who teach our youngest learners?

Every call makes a difference. Alert parents in your programs, friends, colleagues and neighbors to join the Call-in for Loan Forgiveness TODAY! Direct them to the Winning Beginning NY website for call-in instructions so they too can have a voice!


Sincerely,

Jenn O’Connor, Winning Beginning NY

Stop CBS's Anti-War Censorship


This is the ad that got General Batiste fired. Worth a look!

From MoveOn.org:

It took CBS two weeks to fire Don Imus for calling a college women's basketball team "nappy headed hos," but it only took them two days to fire respected retired Major General John Batiste for speaking out against the president on the war.

Batiste, a Republican, commanded troops in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He left the Army so that he could speak out against the president's reckless policy in Iraq, and CBS hired him as a part-time consultant to comment about it.1 Last week, he appeared in a VoteVets.org TV ad speaking out against the president on Iraq. Just two days later, CBS fired him.2

It's censorship, pure and simple. We're aiming to get over 100,000 messages demanding that CBS re-hire Major General John Batiste by the end of the week. Can you take a moment to add your name? Add your name to the petition.


CBS says they fired Major General Batiste because he engaged in advocacy—but they're holding him to a different standard than their other consultants.

For example, former White House communications director Nicolle Wallace is a consultant to CBS and consistently uses her position to push White House talking points.3 It was even reported that she was advising the McCain campaign, yet CBS did nothing when she appeared as a consultant on their network to promote his candidacy.4

Plus, the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon also appeared on CBS as a consultant while advocating in favor of President Bush's escalation plan.5

CBS is sending a message that you can't be a consultant to their network if you're critical of President Bush and the Iraq war. That's political censorship and CBS needs to hear groundswell of outrage from concerned viewers right away.

Can you sign the petition demanding that CBS re-hire Major General Batiste?

Major General John Batiste is not the first general to speak out against the president on Iraq. Recently a number of generals and military leaders have spoken out against President Bush's failed policy—including Reagan's former NSA director, General William Odom, Vietnam veteran Major General Mel Montano and another former general from Iraq—retired Major General Paul Eaton.6

These generals must be heard, not censored for speaking the truth.

Thanks for all you do,

–Nita, Noah, Karin, Jennifer and the Moveon.org Political Action Team
Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Don Cheadle States "Not on Our Watch!" in His New Book

Click here to listen to Don Cheadle's NPR interview about his new book "Not on Our Watch," about how to stop the genocide in Darfur.

The Hillary We Don't Know



Wow! I got this pretty powerful video on Hillary from Bill Clinton today. It really shows how Hillary has spent her lifetime working to help the poor and children in need. In addition to having a good heart, she is such a brilliant politican, which I know turns some people off, but I think she'd be a really effective president. She sure knows how to play the game and get things done.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Peaceful Nations Begin at Home: Happy Mothers' Day



My pastor today gave an incredible sermon about the history of Mothers' Day. I never knew that Mothers' Day originated in a mother's desire for peace after seeing the carnage of the U.S. Civil War. The story is an inspiring reminder of the power of a mother's love! So I did a little research to share the history of Mothers' Day with you and in the process found out that a group of U.S. mothers are working together to help bring Iraqi children, now victims of war to the U.S. for medical treatment. The group they created is called, "No More Victims." If you'd like to help with that or donate, click here for the link.

In the United States, Mother's Day was originally suggested by poet and social activist Julia Ward Howe. In 1870, after witnessing the carnage of the American Civil War and the start of the Franco-Prussian War, she wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation calling upon the women of the world to unite for peace. This "Mother's Day Proclamation" would plant the seed for what would eventually become a national holiday.

After writing the proclamation, Howe had it translated into many languages and spent the next two years of her life distributing it and speaking to women leaders all over the world. In her book Reminiscences, Howe wrote, "Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" She devoted much of the next two years to this cause, and began holding annual "Mother's Day" gatherings in Boston, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

In 1907, thirty-seven years after the proclamation was written, women's rights activist Anna Jarvis began campaigning for the establishment of a nationally observed Mother¹s Day holiday. And in 1914, four years after Howe's death, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day as a national holiday.

Julia Ward Howe was a poet, writer and activist who fought vigilantly for peace, the abolition of slavery, and women's rights.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, she co-published The Commonwealth, an abolitionist newspaper, with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe. In 1860, she penned the Battle Hymn of The Republic to inspire Union soldiers fighting in the war. The song became a rallying cry for the Union throughout the war, and remains her most famous work.

The horrors of the war moved her to campaign tirelessly for peace. She served as president of the American branch of the Women's International Peace Association, and in 1870 she wrote her Mother's Day Proclamation. Julia Ward Howe was also instrumental in the women's suffrage movement. She was a co-founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association and served as
editor of Woman's Journal. Her influence on the movement ranks her alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cody Stanton as one of the most important voices of the period.

In recognition of her tremendous effect on American culture and history, Julia Ward Howe was the first woman elected to the American Association of Arts and Letters in 1908. A true American pioneer, Julia Ward Howe remains one of the most influential figures in the history of both the civil and women's rights movements.

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.

It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,

Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Source: http://mothersdayforpeace.com/history.php

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Desert Soldier



I received this video today via youtube. I think it's from Australia. It's an admirable musical statement against the war in Iraq. Worth a listen.

Change No Child Left Behind and Improve Education

From www.ucctakeaction.org/

The federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is scheduled for its five-year reauthorization in 2007, and this month the Senate and House committees responsible for education policy are starting to craft the structure and language for the reauthorization. While the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries and many of our ecumenical partners have affirmed the law’s stated goals of holding high expectations for all children and closing achievement gaps, we believe the law should not be reauthorized unless Congress addresses serious questions about how NCLB’s specific programs have been affecting public schools:

• While the law should set ambitious expectations for all children, the reauthorized NCLB should measure and honor growth in each child’s learning, not just average group scores.
• The reauthorized NCLB should reduce reliance on standardized testing and consider additional ways students can demonstrate learning.
• The reauthorized NCLB should shift the focus from punishing public schools and blaming teachers to strengthening school communities and supporting teachers.
• In the reauthorized NCLB, Congress should fully fund all the programs the law mandates.

NCLB should set ambitious and yet reachable goals, end labeling of children, blaming of teachers and stigmas for schools, take steps to develop programs that will improve the capacity of every school to serve children, and be fully funded by the federal government. To write to your senators and congressional representatives to tell them that NCLB needs to be fixed, click www.ucctakeaction.org/NCLB .

For more talking points on this issue, please refer to the following faith-based resources:

Ten Moral Concerns in the Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act

FIXING No Child Left Behind Talking Points

Monday, May 07, 2007

Despite insults, we will not sell off our schools, Mr. Boortz

FOX WAR ON AMERICA


I fear that Neal Boortz’s comments are part of an active campaign to discredit public schools and public school teachers, so that a small group of businessmen have an excuse to privatize our public schools, turn them into charter schools, and profit off them.

I became increasingly concerned about this after my trip to New Orleans last summer.

In “Privatizing New Orleans’ Schools: Coming to a City Near You,” Leigh Davis writes:

Within days of Katrina, Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) convened a special meeting of the state legislature to talk about a takeover of the Orleans Parish Public School District, a district with a half-billion dollar budget serving New Orleans,…(according to), Nat LaCour, secretary treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers…

A few months later, the state legislature passed legislation giving the state control of 107 of New Orleans' 128 public schools, by placing them under the authority of the Recovery School District (RSD).

Orleans Parish's public schools have now been divided into three categories: public, charter, and the Recovery School District. A school receives the RSD designation if it is categorized as "failing," in some cases receiving the label only after a change in criteria since the hurricane. RSD schools are then managed by the state, not the local school board, and may be turned over to private foundations or other groups to be run as charter schools. Of the 57 public schools set to operate in New Orleans this school year, more than 30 are charter schools
.

In the Texas Legislature, a bill, H.R. 2, is still in the Senate Finance Committee, but passed overwhelmingly last month in the Texas House of Representatives. This bill “includes a provision that would allow the state education commissioner to turn over to private education companies schools that have performed in the bottom 5 percent of all Texas public schools for two years in a row – even if those lowest performing schools actually were rated by the state as academically acceptable.” (Texas Freedom Network website).

Perhaps it is not surprising that Neal Boortz and his circle would put profits before students.

According to mediamatters.org:

On the October 14 broadcast of his daily radio show, Neal Boortz stated that if the country is faced with an impending national disaster, it should make it a higher priority to save rich Americans rather than poor Americans. "We should save the rich people first," Boortz declared. "You know, they're the ones that are responsible for this prosperity."

Boortz certainly doesn’t seem to care about working folk.

On his August 3rd radio show Boortz described adult minimum-wage earners as "incompetent," "ignorant," "stupid," "worthless," and "pathetic," Neal Boortz again smeared them, calling adult minimum-wage earners "100 percent pure unadulterated loser[s]." (mediamatters.org).

He had no sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

On his radio show, Neal Boortz stated that "[s]o many" of the victims of Hurricane Katrina "have turned out to be complete bums, just debris," and called "thousands" "deadbeat[s]." (mediamatters.org)

He would have denied help to the survivors of the Columbine shooting.

From the August 4 edition of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show:
Nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz said schools should never provide psychological counseling for students, even after a traumatic incident such as the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, because providing counseling "is just all part of an effort to ... engrain in the American people this idea that the government is responsible for everything." (mediamatters.org).

And while it may be completely unreliable, a wikipedia entry about Boortz claims that

Boortz believes that ADD and ADHD are "medical frauds" and a scam that teachers, parents, and drug companies use.[14][15] …Boortz controversially refers to public education as "tax payer funded child abuse" and accuses parents of child abuse for sending their children off to government schools.[19” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Boortz)

If you are not convinced that charter schools are more about profits than education just check out the press releases announcing the recent hires at Edison Schools, the leading Charter School Company.

Terry Stecz, President, CEO, Edison Schools

From Edison Schools Press Release:

“Before joining Edison, Stecz served as President Consumer Healthcare,Americas, for Pharmacia, a $14B healthcare company with products that included Celebrex and Nicorette. During his tenure at Pharmacia, Terry played a key role in establishing the division as one of the fastest growing in operating profits and revenue in its industry. Prior to Pharmacia, Stecz spent more than 19 years at American Home Products, a $16B pharmaceutical enterprise where he rose rapidly through the ranks. By 1990, Stecz was President of A.H.Robins and by 1994, President of Whitehall Robins, a $1.4B division of AHP that produces market leaders Advil and Centrum. Stecz also served as President of Alberto Culver USA, Inc. (consumer products).

Edison Founder and CEO Chris Whittle commented on Stecz's appointment, "We are extremely pleased to have someone with Terry's strong, proven business background join Edison's senior management team. As we continue to grow, his operational expertise and business building experiences will further strengthen Edison's ability to deliver high quality schools, services and products to schools and districts across the country."

Edison Schools President Chris Cerf added, "Terry is a superb addition to Edison. His track record as an accomplished business executive is extraordinary, and I am equally impressed by his passion for and commitment to our educational mission."


Stecz is no doubt an “accomplished business executive,” but has he ever even taken an education course? He might even have “passion” about good education, but he clearly has no experience in the field. It seems obvious that Edison’s priority is profits, not learning.

J. Roberto Gutierrez, Senior Vice President For Public Affairs and Communication


NEW YORK, Feb 13, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- New York-based Edison Schools, the largest private manager of U.S. and U.K. public schools, today announced the appointment of J. Roberto Gutierrez, 49, as Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Communication, effective February 12, 2007.

In this newly created post, Mr. Gutierrez will direct all of Edison Schools' corporate communications and public affairs, encompassing media relations, marketing communications, community development and policy strategy. …

Gutierrez joins Edison Schools from The Dilenschneider Group, where he was a Principal of the firm, counseling several global corporations and organizations on issues of policy, corporate branding, community outreach and Hispanic marketing. Prior to that, from 2002 to 2005, he was Vice President for Public Affairs and Communication for the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, where he directed the university's communications and public affairs initiatives.

Before joining Notre Dame, Gutierrez co-founded, in 1982, and served as CEO and President of HTN, Inc., Hispanic Telecommunications Network, located in San Antonio, Texas, a national media and production agency that broadcast weekly public interest television programs. In 1999, Gutierrez was awarded a prestigious honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame for his body of work in broadcast media. (prnewswire).


Gutierrez appears to be an accomplished businessman with a talent for creating good PR. It would appear that Edison’s goal is to brand and sell “its product” to the Latino community.

Unfortunately, Boortz is just one of a strongly organized and well-funded group looking to bash public education for the financial gain of a few. Teachers unions are one of the few groups willing and able to speak out against this and to put up a credible fight against the privatization of our public school system. This is exactly why our teachers unions are being demonized by the likes of Mr. Boortz.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Help Support Independent Media, Write Post Office

Disseminate Information, Protect Democracy
Teresa Stack


The following is a shortened version of a letter drafted by Nation president Teresa Stack and signed by her and her counterparts at more than a dozen independent journals, including National Review, The American Spectator and Mother Jones. To learn what you can do to help, go to www.stoppostalratehikes.com.



James C. Miller III
Chairman, Postal Board of Governors

We write to you today on a matter of great urgency. The recent decision of the Postal Service Board of Governors (BOG) to accept the startling periodical rate recommendations of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) undermines the historic foundation of our national mail system. These new rates will have grave consequences for disseminating the very type of information our Founding Fathers strove to protect and foster when they established the public postal service.

As the publishers of small national magazines that focus primarily on politics and culture, we share a common mission of providing the information essential to a flourishing democracy. We struggle to inform the national dialogue in a way the Founders believed essential to the health of this country. As journals of opinion and ideas, we do not do it for the money; we do it because, like the Founders, we believe it to be a public good.

As you know, in May 2006 the United States Postal Service proposed a rate increase for periodicals of about 11.7 percent, an increase that would have affected all periodicals more or less equally. Instead, in February the PRC recommended a version of the rate proposal put forward by Time Warner, which had previously been rejected by the PRC and strongly opposed by the USPS. This proposal would have a disproportionately adverse effect on small national publications while easing the burden on the largest magazines.

The decision was followed by an industry "comment period" of only eight working days, an impossibly short time for small publications to digest changes so complex that to this day there is no definitive computer model to fully assess them. Nonetheless, the new rates are scheduled to take effect July 15.

We now know that small titles will be devastated. According to an analysis by McGraw-Hill (but not, inexplicably, done by the PRC or BOG), about 5,700 small-circulation publications will incur rate increases exceeding 20 percent; another 1,260 publications will see increases above 25 percent; and hundreds more, increases above 30 percent. Some small magazines will no doubt go out of business. Meanwhile, the largest magazines will enjoy the benefit of much smaller increases and in some cases, decreases. To make matters even worse, editorial content charges will now be based on distance. The system of charging one price however far editorial content travels, which has existed since our country's founding, seems to have been summarily dismissed by the PRC, and then by the governors, with little thought of its future impact.




Stamp Out the Rate Hike: Stop the Post Office

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Keep Up the Pressure to Divest From the Sudan, It's Working

The other day I blogged about the efforts of some groups encouraging divestiture from the Sudan. Well, keep it the pressure, it's working.

According to the New York Sun, President Bush joined the bandwagon.

Mr. Bush said he would block Sudanese government transactions in the U.S. and add 29 companies owned or controlled by Sudan's government to a list banned from doing business with American companies and individuals. The U.S. also would cut off financial transactions involving individuals deemed responsible for the violence.

In addition to possible new steps by the American government, Mr. Bush said he has directed Secretary of State Rice to prepare a new UN Security Council resolution on Sudan.

In New York, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters that Britain, America, and France have been working on a draft resolution that would tighten existing sanctions on the government in Khartoum.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Shows We Need More Diversity in the Media

From: Robert McChesney
President
Free Press
www.freepress.net


The controversy over Don Imus' racist remarks goes far beyond one bigoted commentator. But getting rid of Imus won't fix the media problem.

Most of our TV and radio stations are owned by giant corporate conglomerates. They don't represent the views of most Americans -- and they make huge profits off the public airwaves.

What we need are more diverse, independent and local media owners. Yet right now less than 10% of TV and radio stations are owned by people of color or women.

But instead of addressing this national disgrace, the Federal Communications Commission is actually trying to let the largest companies buy up even more stations!

Tell the FCC: We Need More Diversity in the Media

What Imus said is just the tip of the iceberg. Scores of other TV and radio hosts regularly make racist and sexist comments. The best way to stop this race to the bottom is to change who's sitting at the top -- and making the decisions about who's behind the mic.

Today, according to one industry study, only 2.5% of radio stations have a person of color in the role of general manager, and only 4.4% have a racial or ethnic minority in the role of news director. The percentage of women in these jobs isn't much higher. No wonder shock jocks like Imus have been able to keep their jobs for so long.

Now is our chance to make a change. In 2003, we stopped the FCC from allowing more media concentration, when more than 3 million people took action to stop Big Media.

Tell Your Friends To Act

This time, we must not only stop further consolidation -- we must demand media ownership that reflects the diversity that makes our nation great.

P.S. For more on how minority owners have been shutout of the media system, read the Free Press study Out of the Picture:" http://action.freepress.net/ct/k72JYo61VB5i/

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Suburban Princess Apologizes to Reuters

I apologize to Reuters for my hasty rush to judgement regarding the company's announcement that it was going to start featuring stories on the "Changing Face of the Sudan." (See yesterday's blog for my thoughts on the topic).

Below please find the response to the e-mail I sent the features editor.

Many thanks for your note, your comments are greatly appreciated.

Just to reassure you that a features series in no way means we'll be taking our eye off the ball on any news: we aim with features to try when we can to also tell some of the other stories that are not making headlines.

Kind regards

Sara Ledwith
Features Editor, EMEA

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Changing the Face of the Sudan???

Apparently, Reuters.com is "changing the face of the Sudan" by starting to cover more stories occurring in the more peaceful part of the Sudan. Reuters seems to feel the importance of a new motorcycle youth culture, cattle market, and confusing currency is more important than a genocide. Want to give the Sudanese government a little positive spin, Reuters? What's that about? Hmmm...could it be the oil boom in Khartoom? Hey, Reuters, are you being pressured to change your focus? Afraid of losing some big clients? I don't really know the answers to those questions, but if I was a reporter for reuters or elsewhere, I would sure ask!

By the way, I e-mailed the Features Editor at Reuters -- FeaturesEditors@reuters.com -- some comments, letting her know that I hope this new "change of face" didn't mean that Reuters was going to start neglecting coverage of Darfur. Please join me in doing the same.

From Reuters.com:

ADVISORY-The changing face of Sudan: Special Series
Tue 10 Apr 2007 5:44 AM ET


Sudan is most often in the news for the conflict in the far western region of Darfur. But in the meantime peace has returned to the south after more than 20 years of civil war, and an oil boom has started to change the face of the capital Khartoum.

Reuters has prepared a series of features on Sudan, and particularly on the changes in the south, which now has its own autonomous government and where the influence of the Arab Muslim north has started to diminish.

Look out for stories about the factors driving the market for cattle, which are central to the culture of the Nilotic peoples of the south, about the confusing variety of currencies the south has inherited and a new youth motorcycle culture which has come with peace. In Khartoum, we look at the expansion of the hotel industry and a travel postcard from Khartoum will be appearing on our Reuters Life! service on Friday.

The stories will be accompanied by pictures and the series will kick off at 2304 GMT on Tuesday April 10.

-- Reuters wants your feedback on its features file. Please e-mail comments and queries to FeaturesEditors@reuters.com.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Scenes from Bamako

View trailer and scenes from Bamako.

Danny Glover Puts Globalization on Trial

From Newsday

Danny Glover' globalization
BY STEVE PARKS
steve.parks@newsday.com

April 6, 2007

Danny Glover isn't one to sit around waiting for his agent to send him a script for "Lethal Weapon X." He takes a direct hand in managing his own career, negotiating his own film projects. Among those he's negotiated that have come to fruition lately is "Bamako," a film by African director Abderrahmane Sissako ("Waiting for Happiness") opening tonight at Cinema Arts Centre.

Glover, who produced the film, makes a personal appearance at the Huntington film center following the 8 p.m. screening. He'll be interviewed by Newsday critic Gene Seymour in a discussion of "Bamako" and its underlying premise - that globalization spawns so-called "vulture funds," which subjugate Third World nations while fueling the cycle of the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer.
Read more...

Bamako Review

From The New York Post:

LAW AND DISORDERBy V.A. MUSETTO
Rating:
February 14, 2007 -- JUDGE Judy's courtroom was never like this.

The trial in "Bamako," written and directed by crit ics' favorite Abderrahmane Sissako, is being held in the courtyard of a house in a poor section of Bamako, Mali.

Insects swarm around the judges, who are seated at a long table. The setting allows just about anybody to interrupt the legal proceedings: A wedding party passes, a woman insists on singing until a judge gives her money, and an exotic femme fatale named Mele (Aissa Maiga) comes out of her house to get somebody to tie up the back of her colorful dress.

The surroundings may be humble, but the issues argued by eloquent French lawyers aren't: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are being sued over policies that allegedly have inflicted heavy debt on Africa.

When "Bamako" isn't involved with the legal matters, it turns to Mele (a lounge singer whose performances bookend the trial), her unemployed husband and their child. Attention is focused on the husband when a sleeping cop's gun is stolen.

As an added touch, Sissako throws in a movie within the movie: "Death in Timbuktu," a tongue-in-cheek spaghetti Western featuring Danny Glover.

Credit Sissako for entertainingly blending serious international issues with the daily comings and goings of village life. A bit more Glover wouldn't have hurt - but you can't have everything.

BAMAKO In French and Bambara, with English subtitles. Running time: 118 minutes. Not rated (mock violence). At Film Forum, Houston Street, west of Sixth Avenue.


Bamako press release

Bamako reviews and ticket information.

Danny Glover asks us to sign Bamako Petition

Danny Glover Speaking on the Importance of his New Movie Bamako



Looks like another interesting, thought provoking movie worth seeing.

Amazing Grace



Here's an interesting movie worth seeing about how a small group of people lobbied to get the slave trade illegal in England.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Urge the President to Support Peacekeepers in Darfur

From: David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

Last week, Congress passed an emergency supplemental funding bill which includes $150 million to support the peacekeeping effort in Darfur through the end of September.

While we applaud this decision, we are very concerned that this funding will run out on October 1st, leaving peacekeeping forces in Darfur stranded without adequate resources.

The Administration has failed to request any funding for Darfur in the fiscal year 2008 budget, which starts at the beginning of October 2007.

Will you please join us in calling on the President and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to urge them to fix this upcoming shortfall now before it's too late? Click here to send your message now.

Congress has agreed that the President failed to address the full funding needs of Darfur peacekeeping in his recent budget request for fiscal year 2008.

To quote the official language of the recently passed funding bill, Congress "is concerned that the Administration has not adequately planned for future peacekeeping activities in Sudan/Darfur in FY 2008 and urges the Secretary of State to work with the Office of Management and Budget to submit a budget amendment for FY 2008 addressing these urgent needs."

Please join us and Congress in urging the President and his Office of Management and Budget to provide the funds to prevent this budget shortfall that would threaten the Darfur peacekeeping effort.

Click here to send your letter to President Bush and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget today.

With your help, we can work with our government to ensure adequate support for the essential peacekeeping effort in Darfur.

Thank you again for your commitment to ending the violence in the region.

Other things you can do to stop the Genocide in Darfur

Visit the darfur wall.


Tell Fidelity to divest!

U.N. Chief Seeks to Delay Sanctions against the Sudan

I am disappointed in U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who asked the U.S. and Britain to delay sanctions against the Sudan, so he can reason with the Khartoum government.
Read more...

One Million Blogs for Peace

217 blogs joined together on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, standing in opposition. By the sixth anniversary, their hope is to have 1,000,000 blogs united in the same purpose. You will notice that my blog is on the list under "Politics of a Suburban Princess, The."



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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Elie Wiesel Blasts U.N. For Not Taking Action on Darfur



Nobel prize for peace laureate Eli Wiesel jointly with George Clooney condemns United Nations for not acting upon the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan. (Broadcast approximately six months ago).

George Clooney on Darfur



BBC interview from the 15th of December 2006 with George Clooney about the situation in Darfur

Make New York State Divest from the Sudan!

From: Ben Prochazka
Save Darfur Coalition


Senator Joe Robach and Assemblyman Darryl Towns have written targeted divestment legislation that will take back New York State's dollars from companies that fund the genocide in Darfur.

However, this bill has not been introduced because the New York State Comptroller has not released a "Fiscal Note" which is needed to allow the legislation to go to a vote.

You can help today by calling New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli:

1. Dial (518) 474-4044

2. Please use the talking points below:

* I'm a New York resident who cares about ending the genocide in Darfur. It is important that New York divest from foreign companies that contribute to the genocide in Darfur where over 400,000 have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since 2003.

*I urge you to release the "Fiscal Note" and allow the legislation to be introduced by Senator Robach and Assemblyman Towns. This action will be vital in helping us stop the genocide.

What is targeted divestment?

Targeted divestment calls for the accelerated engagement of companies that are directly or indirectly helping the Sudanese government perpetuate genocide. If a company refuses to change its behavior in response to pressure from shareholders, the targeted divestment model calls for the removal of invested money from that company.

Please forward this message to your friends and family who live in New York. Working together we can move this legislation forward and help the people of Darfur.

Global Days for Darfur

From: David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition


Activists across the world have come together to plan "Global Days for Darfur" - a week of rallies, marches, vigils and other events designed to make it clear that "time has run out" for the people of Darfur.

Will you please join us and thousands of committed Darfur activists the week of April 23rd - 30th?

Click here to find an event taking place near you.

At the web page, locate the "Find an Event" section on the right-hand side of the page, enter your zip code and the distance you'd like to search within, then click "Find Events."

As you know all too well, time has run out for the people of Darfur.

We must call attention to the escalating violence and the continued failure of the international community to adequately respond to this crisis.

The Global Days for Darfur week of action offers a perfect forum to help raise awareness of the crisis and to call for the immediate deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Darfur.

Please support your fellow activists in speaking out for the people of Darfur by joining an event in your area. Or, if there are currently no activities planned in your community, we hope you will consider creating your own event during this important week.

Once again, I am grateful for the incredible commitment you and others have shown to stopping the violence in Darfur.

Tell New UN Secretary-General to Take Action on Darfur

Sign petition telling new U.N. Secretary-General,Ban Ki-Moon, to take action on Darfur. It will only take you a minute.

George Clooney Advocates for Darfur

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bono Wants Us to Make Poverty History



Forget Knighthood! I say Sainthood is in order!

U2's Bono Awarded Knighthood

U2's Bono was awarded knighthood for all his humanitarian works. Bono's son, thinking his Dad was about to become a Jedi knight, was a bit disappointed, but Bono hopes his new title will only open more doors which will help his humanitarian efforts. Bono, we will honor your Irish roots and not call you "Sir!"



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Thursday, March 29, 2007

George Clooney's Video Diary from Sudan- Part 1

Ask your Senators to Support the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act!

The Sudan Divestment Authorization Act, introduced on March 8, provides federal protection for states that divest from foreign companies funding the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Ask your senators to co-sponsor the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act -- call 1-800-GENOCIDE today!



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