Monday, January 31, 2011
David Kato would savor every snowflake that falls tomorrow.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.
Springfield Public Office Building at 436 Dwight Street.
The Mass. Division of Banks is holding a public information hearing on regulations related to Massachusetts' new foreclosure law. While the law passed last August represented progress, our communities need a lot more protection from the banks. For more information or to confirm that you can be there, contact nooneleavesspringfield@gmail.
This is a chance to send our State officials a message. Some points our members have raised:
Share your own thoughts & experiences at the hearing.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
ACTIVIST INSULTED AT HIS OWN FUNERAL:
It started out nicely enough, according to news reports, with friends offering reading tributes and statements of condolence from international leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama. Then the priest, Anglican Pastor Thomas Musoke, took to the pulpit, saying that homosexuality is "evil and will be punished by God....Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female."
Pepe Onziema, of Sexual Minorities Uganda, reportedly pulled the microphone away from the priest, prompting a scuffle. Then the police moved in and whisked the priest away.
Villagers then refused to bury the coffin, so Kato's friends carried it to the grave and buried him themselves.
About 300 people attended the funeral outside the capital city of Kampala. The police still deny Kato's murder had anything to do with his sexuality and was more likely a robbery gone wrong. This is possible, but seems unlikely given the number of death threats he received after he was featured in a tabloid article purporting to expose "Uganda's top 100 homos." The government is likely spinning it this way because any suggestion Kato's murder may have been a hate crime opens a legal can of worms the government would much rather avoid. Most Ugandans oppose homosexuality and would not look favourably upon any government action to protect them from violence.
You can read a full account of the funeral here.
Meanwhile in the U.K., Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde is trying to fight deportation back to her home country, fearing her life will be in danger if she returns. A British judge has ruled she is not really a lesbian, and she could be deported as soon as Saturday. Vancouver Sun.
He wonders if Canada is headed down the slippery slope of religious intolerance. Fascinating article which you can read at Star Phoenix..
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I got up this morning to another winter day of at home working. I am grateful to have a job that at least some of the time I can do from home but “man oh man” is this winter killing me. My budget for heat this winter is shot. At $3.09 a gallon it’s going to cost me $2,010.00 to heat my 6 room apartment, almost double from last year. You see we live in a house that was built around the turn of the century, turn of the last century and I think our furnace was built at the same time. I sat down to get some work done, after our internet came back on.
So today when I took a minute to look at the cuts in Gov. Patrick’s 2012 budget my first thought won’t be printed here and then I thought, again the government is balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. I looked in on a couple of websites for more information The piece in “The GovMonitor” was kind to the budget, 4/5 of the article talked about all the things this budget would provide, was structured to do and how they were increasing revenues while the rest talked about where the cuts would be. Of the 12 bulleted cuts 9 will predominantly effect low and middle income people the other 3 effect everyone but again it will be the poor people who suffer most. You can read the whole article at http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/governor-patrick-releases-2012-massachusetts-budget-recomendations-45419.html
But here are some of the high points or should I say low points of the budget cuts.
- $65 million to local aid
Let’s see….local aid that means cuts in police, firepersons, highway crews, teachers, trash collectors etc. Oh and don’t forget many of those that get laid-off will fall into the ranks of the poor.
- $45 million for counsel to indigent persons
No more free legal aid outside of the Public Defenders’ Office. Don’t get me wrong… there are some really good P.D’s and there are some shlubs. Let’s be real our state doesn’t pay well enough to attract the best and brightest. And when there is an exceptional one they move on pretty quickly to better paying work. If you are poor the state reminds you that “beggars can’t be choosers”
- $23 million for spending on emergency homeless shelters
This one can in no way be justified. Cutting funding to shelters when homelessness is on the rise and there is nothing firmly in place to keep families from being on the street is just plain stupid. When you have families in motels because there are no shelter beds and then they cut beds, where’s the logic? If you want to save money how about this… Average stay in a motel is 4 months that’s $9,733. Why not take ½ that money and give rental subsidies for 1 year, use the rest of the money to help train people so they can earn enough to support themselves.
- $16.4 million for Department of Mental Health hospitals
Between 1972 and 1990 70% of the state mental hospitals in the country, closed releasing its patient s into the community. Many of these people ended up on the streets, in shelters, in jail or dead. Those that were lucky enough to have family that could provide a place for them to go, as their family members aged, died or went into long term care facilities they too ended up on the streets. So what now? Throw the remaining patients, the ones that are too unstable to handle being in the community without a safety net, into the street? Again the disenfranchised get the short end of the stick.
I’m getting pretty cynical right about now, so I guess I’m starting to rant and being a bit sarcastic.
- $15 million for the Employment Services Program
Yes yes please take away the remote possibility that an unemployed resident could get retrained to find sustainable work.
- $14 million for family respite services at the Department of Development Disability Services
The government says “Families who choose to keep their differently-abled relative at home do not deserve respite. ‘
- $11.5 million for the clothing allowance paid to families receiving TAFDC
$150.00 per child will buy maybe 3 school out fits at Savers or Salvation Army. Local rules for school uniforms don’t help much, rarely do uniform acceptable clothing end up in a second hand store.
- $8 million for Early Intervention services at the Department of Public Health
Early intervention services are utilized by mostly poor people. Poor people have more preventable health issues that any other segment of our population but “Hey unhealthy malnourished people are easier to control.’
- $6.6 million for group care services provide by the Department of Children and Families
Now while I am not a cheer leader for D.C.F. they are needed. How many children will die or be permanently injured because services were cut.
- $6.2 million for the State Police
Small towns beware. The State Police won’t be able to be there to back you up when you need them because they have been laid-off.
- $5.9 million for health promotion activities at DPH
We should keep the masses uninformed. It’s really simple they get sick, they die so we save money.
- 2% cut to all constitutional officers’ administrative budgets, including the Governor’s Office
Okay this is a step in the right direction but how about 20% cut. Let the governor, senators, representatives and constitutional officers’ get their own dam coffee.
There are some ways to raise money a flat tax across the board? Or even just raise the taxes a bit. I’m willing to pay more. Well we still have some time to get changes in this budget but we better work fast, summers just around the corner.
JoAnn Wypijewski at The Nation: Two days after Milton Rogovin died at his home in Buffalo on January 18, the Gage Gallery in Chicago opened an exhibition of his photographs called “The Working-Class Eye of Milton Rogovin.” Class was not merely Milton’s subject, it was the optic through which he saw the world, something that distinguished his work from what the culture had expected of social documentary photography since the 1930s.
New York Times, January 27: NAIROBI, Kenya — An outspoken Ugandan gay activist whose picture recently appeared in an anti-gay newspaper under the headline “Hang Them” was beaten to death in his home, Ugandan police said on Thursday.
David Kato, the activist, was one of the most visible defenders of gay rights in a country so homophobic that government leaders have proposed to execute gay people. Mr. Kato and other gay people in Uganda had recently warned that their lives were endangered, and four months ago a local paper called Rolling Stone published a list of gay people, and Mr. Kato’s face was on the front page.
He was attacked in his home Wednesday afternoon and beaten in the head with a hammer, said Judith Nabakooba, a police spokeswoman. But police officials said they don’t believe this was a hate crime.
“It looks like theft, as some things were stolen,” Mrs. Nabakooba said.
Gay activists disagreed and said Mr. Kato was singled out for his outspoken defense of gay rights. “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, the chairperson of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”
Mrs. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals who held anti-gay rallies and church leaders who authored the anti-gay bill, which is still pending, attended those meetings and said that they had worked with the Americans on their bill.
After growing international pressure, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, indicated that the bill would be scrapped but that hasn’t happened yet and it remains a simmering issue in Parliament. The Americans involved later said they had no intention of stoking such a reaction.
Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. In Kenya, gay people can be sentenced to years in prison.
But Uganda seems to be on the front lines of this battle. Conservative Christian groups which espouse anti-gay beliefs have made great headway in this country and wield a lot of influence. Uganda’s first lady is a born-again Christian and has even proposed a virginity census. At the same time, American organizations that defend gay rights have also poured money into Uganda to help the small and besieged gay community fight back.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
As evidenced by the tremendous amount of work and money the Host Committee has channeled into Slant 45, clearly improving the lives of children is a priority. Countless children in the DFW region have benefitted by the commitment and opportunities provided by this program.
However, the children trafficked to DFW to meet the demand of the Super Bowl are being left to fend for themselves. According to the Dallas Police Department children exploited through sex trafficking have an average life expectancy is just seven short years. The average age a child is tricked and trapped in sexual slavery is just 13 years old. These children are beaten, brutalized and tortured for the profit and pleasure of others.
This Super Bowl Host Committee’s hard work has turned the North Texas Region into a showcase with a record number of million-dollar sponsors, state-of-the-art infrastructure and events that appeal across audiences. They’ve set the standard for the Super Bowl experience.
Now, let’s join together and ask the Host Committee to take a stand and set the standard for all Super Bowl Host Committees to come. The Host Committee has the biggest megaphone to prevent the buying and selling of American children during this year’s festivities. Law enforcement, legislators, non-profits, churches and business all are stepping up to the plate to stop this horrific abuse of our children. It’s time that the Host Committee faces the reality that children will be trafficked to North Texas and answer the question – What role will they play in preventing the sex trafficking of children during the Super Bowl?
DFW-based Traffick911 is leading a comprehensive game plan to protect American children. Local, national and international organizations have joined forces with Traffick911 in the I’m Not Buying It campaign. This Super Bowl Host Committee has proven it has the power and influence to make history. Join me in asking the Super Bowl Host Committee to endorse and fund the “I’m Not buying it” campaign to protect and defend children during the Super Bowl!!
Photo credit: Lady DragonflyCC
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
From Michael Jones at Change.org: The House of Mercy homeless shelter in Columbus, Georgia, might want to go back and read their Bible. There's a passage in Isaiah they should pay particular attention to: "Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your homes, clothe the naked when you see him/her, do not turn away from people in need." But instead of following that line, the House of Mercy shelter has a rule on its books: if you're gay and homeless, you belong on the streets. Perhaps House of Mercy might consider a name change to House of Ignorance.
The CBS station in Columbus, WRBL, ran a story last week discussing two women who were booted out of the House of Mercy homeless shelter, because shelter staff thought they were gay. These were women who actually fled abusive homes, and as one of them told WRBL, she was expecting to be treated with compassion by the folks at House of Mercy.
"I was hoping that just by the name ... I was hoping for security," one of the women said. Instead, the woman says the way she was treated at the House of Mercy was unholy. "It was not a place of God."
The director of House of Mercy, Elder Bobby Harris, told WRBL that "practicing" gay people aren't welcome at his shelter, no matter how in need they might be.
"[Homosexuality] is not tolerated here at all. Let me tell you one reason why: because of the Bible, of course. And then we have little children ... We believe that Christ can change all. But when they begin to practice their acts," Harris says, there's nothing he can do for gay people in need.
Harris did not say where in the Bible Jesus gave permission to cast LGBT people out into the street, or refuse them service if they're needy or, in the case of these two women, fleeing violent homes. WRBL reached out to other homeless shelters in the area, and found that not a one, outside of House of Mercy, excludes gay people from being served. They interviewed Valerie McLain, who works at the Crisis Center of Russell County, and she told reporters that homeless shelters should be in the business of serving all who come through their doors, and not revictimizing those in need.
"We welcome anyone that is a victim. That's who we serve. We have no discrimination. We make no discrimination with anyone. We're not in the business of revictimizing the victim," McLain said.
Sounds like the House of Mercy not only needs to re-read their Bible, but they could also stand to learn a few lessons in service from other shelters in the area.
Meanwhile, here's the real kicker: the two women at the center of this controversy? They say they're not even gay, which means that the House of Mercy denied them service based on rumors or bad information. Still, one of the women told WRBL that even if she was gay, she would hope a homeless shelter would have enough compassion to help her out.
"If I was gay, and I had all these other issues and I came [to the House of Mercy], is that what you do to people going through stuff?" she asked.
Apparently so. How about sending the House of Mercy a message that this policy of excluding gay people is not only inconsiderate, it runs counter to the supposed religious teachings they hold dear. Check out the story below from WRBL for more information, and to see Elder Bobby Harris actually say on camera that it's his Christian duty to deny homeless gay people service.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I couldn't do better to describe her work than to reprint the obituary written by her partner, Felicia Mednick, for the Hampshire Gazette.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
She is survived by her life partner of 18 years, Felicia Mednick (whom she was able to marry in Massachusetts in 2004); her beloved 12-year-old daughter, Shira Ma'ayan, and her circle of chosen family, who surrounded her to the last minute of her life. Felice was born in Manhattan to Phyllis and Harry Yeskel, and attended Hunter Elementary School for gifted children. She then went to Seward Park High School (where she helped to change the dress code for girls).
Felice devoted her life to activism on issues of equality, diversity, and nonviolence. Rabbi Julie Greenberg, her long-term friend, said in her eulogy, "Felice was a master of identity development and the dynamics of social change."
Beginning as an anti-war and feminist activist in high school, she continued her activism at the U of Rochester. After college, she moved to California where she worked against the anti-gay Briggs initiative. Then she moved to Philadelphia, where she obtained an MA in Psychology. She joined Movement for a New Society, living with other activists for social change. She helped lead the Seneca Women's Peace Encampment to protest against cruise missiles. In 1982, she moved to UMass to attend the Ed.D. program in Organizational Development. While there, Felice was a member of Diversity Works, a collective which led workshops on transforming social inequality.
Upon graduation, Felice presented UMass with research about the difficulties gays and lesbians faced on the campus, which moved the university to launch a pioneering center for GLBTQ concerns (later to be called the Stonewall Center), with Felice as the founding director. She served in that role for 20 years. Felice also served as an adjunct faculty member in the Social Justice Program. Her first book was a manual for teaching activists on other college campuses how to set up centers for queer students and faculty.
With Chuck Collins, Felice co-founded United for a Fair Economy in 1995, an organization dedicated to reducing the growing economic divide in the United States. She led inspiring workshops on this issue for thousands throughout the USA. She was in demand internationally, as a consultant and facilitator, on issues of class and diversity. She co-authored, with Chuck Collins, the groundbreaking book "Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity."
Six years ago, Felice and Jenny Ladd co-founded Class Action, an organization dedicated to helping people and organizations explore issues of class differences and cross-class communication. Felice believed that raising awareness about class issues was a necessary first step in building a movement to create change.
Felice honored her working-class roots throughout her life. She touched thousands of lives, enlightening, inspiring and supporting. She will be deeply missed.
Donations in her honor can be made to the Institute for Policy Studies and its programs on economic inequality (30 Germania St., Building L, Boston, MA 02130) and the Global Fund for Women (222 Sutter St., Suite 500 San Francisco, CA 94108, USA).
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Aron Goldman of the Springfield Institute did this video of one of our founding members, who was back in Springfield for a few months after a 20 year absence.
Tell me what level of frustration you would be feeling if you had to go through what Hollee did.
UPDATE on January 25: Wish I could say something more positive about Hollee's situation, but I can't. The good new I can share, however, is that the Caring Health Center is once again accepting new patients. Hollee tried to get an appointment during the two months when the center was understaffed, and the center had to prioritize their 14,000 existing patients over new patients.
Health centers across the state are struggling with funding, and they deserve our support as a community.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Do you know when police are and are not allowed to search you?
Do you know when you have to answer an officer’s questions?
By fully understanding our rights, we can protect ourselves against unjust police practices.
Join us for a free “Know Your Rights” workshop to learn the basics of asserting your rights when dealing with the police.
February 11, 2011 3:30-5pm
Arise for Social Justice
467 State Street in Springfield
Free and open to all
This workshop is brought to you by the Community Coalition for Justice. We are a group of community members and organizations working to stop police brutality in Springfield and to increase police
accountability to the community. Questions? Want to get involved? Contact community.coalition.for.
Bollywood actor and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is featured on the cover of Elle Magazine looking far paler than she is in real life. Most fans are up in arms and an appalled Ms. Bachchan is considering a lawsuit against the magazine.
Consumers have long been inundated with ads that use prominent Bollywood actors to promote skin-lightening products. In a country that produces gorgeous women of color, it is sad that Ms. Rai-Bachchan, who is relatively light-skinned, is one of the very few with some cross-over appeal. To see magazines like Elle further enforce the color hierarchy of crossover appeal by making Aishwarya appear lighter-skinned is a slap in the face.
This is the second racial debacle surrounding Elle. The American version was criticized for its October 2010 issue, which featured actress Gabourey Sidibeon on one of its four celebrity covers with noticeably lighter skin than her natural complexion.
Lets tell Elle Magazine to make a commitment to moving away from using white as a standard for beauty, and demand a public statement and apology.
For regular updates on the 'Elle Whitening' campaign please follow us on follow us on Facebook, just click 'Like' at the top of our Facebook page and check in from time to time.