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i think this demonstrates what we've been seeing across the country -- obama clinton divide isn't a racial/ethnic one. it's a philosophical one.,0,2954891.story
From the Los Angeles Times

Mom, Obama and me

She's for Clinton, I'm not -- and it's getting hot.
By Lorenza Muñoz

February 2, 2008

Politics played the central role in my family's nightly dinner conversations. I don't recall ever disagreeing with my mother politically.

Until now.

Our differences are so profound that we are tiptoeing around the subject, heeding the age-old advice never to discuss politics. It has gotten ugly. She calls me foolhardy, ignorant and a traitor to my gender. I tell her she is irrational, blind and stuck in the past.

I am an ardent Barack Obama backer. She is a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter. She is 67; I am 36.
Read more... )
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Reduced to the Small Screen
Incident, Reaction, Forget, Repeat: Formulaic Entertainment Replaces Serious Discussion on Race

By DeNeen L. Brown and Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 11, 2007; M01

Has racial conflict become amusement? Is the conversation about racism mere entertainment, dialogue rendered for show, inflammatory words tossed back and forth over a racial divide to excite an audience?

Thousands of black people are marooned after Hurricane Katrina amid government paralysis, and the race debate on TV kicks into overdrive. A black woman accuses some white men of rape at a Duke University party and the inflamed rhetoric flies.

Comedian Michael Richards shouts the N-word at a black man in a comedy club. Radio host Don Imus calls the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

Shouts of injustice fill the small-town streets of Jena, La., after white teens are suspended from school for hanging nooses from a tree while black teens are charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight. Nooses are found at the University of Maryland, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Columbia University.

Fox News's Bill O'Reilly has his turn on the stage of race after dining at a famous soul food restaurant and musing at the surprising civility of black people. Then comes James D. Watson, Nobel Prize winner and head of one of the world's leading genetics research institutes, questioning the intelligence of black people.

And with each episode in the long-running Saga of Race in America, a string of characters lines up to react to the latest eruption. The media records them as they take up positions in the Great Race Debate. The media stokes the discussion as self-proclaimed black leaders scream outrage while opponents -- often white, sometimes black -- scream counter-outrage. The "colorblind" wonder why we all just can't get along. And the rest of us watch from ringside, rooting for one camp or another, sometimes in silence.

Then inevitably, the media turns away. The outrage fades. The talking heads go silent. The curtain falls, and the debate recedes to wherever it goes until the next eruption.

Which raises the question: Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap opera? A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere?

Are we doomed to debate racism over and over -- stuck in purgatory, a cycle of skirmishes, of shock and awe, with nothing gained, nothing learned?

Or is there a way to change the ritual, to go deeper into our national consciousness and get off this merry-go-round?
'Putting On a Show'

There it was on television one afternoon, another episode in the Great Race Debate. A perky commentator moderated the banter between two intellectuals discussing the Jena 6 case and the debate over racial injustice.

Even with the sound off, it looked like entertainment, says Alan Bean, executive director of Friends of Justice, a Texas-based criminal justice reform organization that began probing the Jena 6 case long before it became big news. Bean was watching the show while sitting in an airport. That's when it occurred to him: The race debate had become theater.

"When I looked at the woman who was the correspondent refereeing the fight between two talking heads, I didn't get the impression she was concerned about enlightening the audience or coming to a meeting of the minds or shedding light on inequities in the criminal justice system," says Bean, who is white. "Her primary concern seemed to be putting on a show."

The talking-head debates about racial conflicts "exert a kind of car-wreck fascination," says John McWhorter, senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

The debates are like a "recreational source of psychological policing," McWhorter says, "which reminds me of the place that religious faith held in medieval society. Being charged with racism today is like being charged as a heretic in medieval Europe. One must indulge in all kinds of gestures which one may or may not feel because to not do these things is to invite condemnation as a moral pervert."

The debate dissolves into a routine, "where all good thinking people are supposed to condemn that person," he says.

An example: Michael Richards's racist tirade at a comedy club in Los Angeles, where he even evoked a lynching. His words were caught on tape and played over and over. Black leaders demanded an apology. Richards issued a statement and apologized again and again.

Then there was silence. Episode ended.

"And now here we are today and the whole humbug over that looks like the formulaic cartoon that it was," says McWhorter, who is black. "We know now and we knew then that what Michael Richards said some night in some club, in the grand scheme of things, was utterly insignificant. But there is a ritual that America has been going through for 40 years where we grab on to all and any opportunity to show we are morally pure in not being racist."

The Rev. Al Sharpton knows about this pattern, of course. Those accused of racism often go to him or to Rev. Jesse Jackson seeking absolution. Sharpton has carved out a leading role in racial matters. He defines himself, Jackson and others as strategists with a goal. But he is aware that some people define him as a demagogue.

"Don't assume that because a lot of us are screaming and hollering in the middle, we don't have a strategy," he says. The media "try to reduce us to being performers on their stage rather than thinkers in our studies."

Of his penitent radio show guests, such as Richards and Imus, Sharpton says, "I think that they want to appear like they want absolution, but I really don't think that's what they want."

But he plays along, hosting them on his show as part of an orchestrated trap. In the case of Imus, Sharpton wanted him fired, and he wanted his employers to change their policy regarding racial language.

"I wanted to make it very clear to people why it is that I'm going after them, and to let them trap themselves with their own language," he said.

On the Sharpton show, Imus complained that he just could not win with "you people." Sharpton and many other African Americans find that phrase offensive. More fuel for the Great Race Debate.

In April, Imus was fired. The punishment didn't last. He's set to return to the airwaves next month.

And the race show goes on.
'A Public Conversation'

If the debate over racism has indeed become entertainment, many say the media and the entertainment business are to blame for encouraging searing sound bites and rhetorical racial skirmishes instead of forums for intellectual discussion.

Most of the infamous episodes of late have been white on black -- except for the ongoing anti-immigrant rhetoric, which many view as discriminatory against Latinos, and not just by whites.

Whether it's about blacks, Latinos, whites, whatever, the race rhetoric has transfixed audiences on television, in blogs and in newspapers for months. Often it is covered as if the debate was simple enough for soundbites. And that, some say, is the problem.

"I think the media's contribution is to make racism an entertainment issue," says Ted Morgan, professor of political science at Lehigh University, whose upcoming book is about the media culture.

"Television makes politics entertaining by turning politics into polarized conflict between two sides," he says. "The audience sympathizes with one side or the other because they are basically getting entertained. It leaves the public with no place in the conversation."

The media treats racism the same way, says Morgan, who is white.

"A public conversation isn't what you get when you tune into the nightly news," he says. "TV is trying to give us a lot of drama, conflict, pictures, basically to entertain us, keep us there watching that channel. That is not a venue that is compatible with public conversation."

Pueng Vongs, diversity committee chair for the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the largest associations of journalists in the country, says racially charged comments -- much like shootings and fires -- have become "big clicker stories," that drive up traffic on news organization Web sites.

News has been molded to fit the short attention span of viewers, Vongs says.

"With the Internet there is a constant hunger for something new and exciting to get hits or with broadcast media to get the viewers," Vongs says.

While the media provides context for events and a frame of reference by which people understand each other and the broader culture, they also perpetuate stereotypes and fuel sensationalism in the race debate, says Doreen Loury, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Arcadia University outside Philadelphia, where she teaches a course called "African American Images in the Media."

"I think it needs to do what it was charged to do," Loury, who is black, says of the news media. "It was charged to look at a situation and report . . . with some accuracy, not to look at racism as the flavor of the month."

"Objectivity is the key," she continues. "I know not every white person in Jena is a racist, but most of us think that now. The [media] objectivity isn't there. It's all about getting the story and not about getting the angle of the story to enhance the dialogue.

"Racism is a rough thing and it's real," she says. "I'm tired of people treating it as entertainment."
How White People Might See It

Racism. Isn't that the real rub here? Isn't all the shouting and hyperventilating and finger-pointing in the Great Race Debate about racism, its presence or its absence?

Let's put racism on the couch for a minute. Analyze it, get it to explain its tendency to persist despite attempts to kill it.

Often, whites don't see it -- or don't want to see it. Often, blacks know it is there -- or are primed to believe it is. That is the deep divide in how black and white Americans see racism, says John Dovidio, a Yale psychology professor.

That perception gap is complicated by the evolution of racism into a more "quiet" phenomenon, often viewed "as an exception, not typical," he says.

"From the perspective of the majority group, racism is not a big issue. We don't see it often. When we see it, we can explain it away," says Dovidio, author of "Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism."

"In surveys, 60 to 70 percent of white Americans say racism is a thing of the past," he says.

"From a white person's view, when certain incidents occur that are blatant, it is easy to recognize them, but the outrage is more localized. If you don't believe racism is widespread, you think once you take care of that little event, you can go back to business as usual. . . .

"Like Michael Richards: People were outraged. We have the debate. But because these are seen as rare and atypical events, they become like entertainment."

The problem in solving racism lies first in seeing it, says Dovidio, who is white. As with any process of healing, one must acknowledge the injury to get better.

The inability of many whites to acknowledge racism has a deep impact on the way race is discussed in society, because white people "control the discourse on what constitutes race in this country," says Paula Rothenberg, a senior fellow at City University in New York and author of "White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism."

"The reality is [in] every aspect of life -- economic, social, political -- white people benefit from the way the system is organized and black people experience deficiency," says Rothenberg, who is white. "The system is constructed so that it appears to be fair and just and neutral to all, when in fact white people inherit white supremacy and benefits. . . .

"White people are more likely to be hired. More likely to be paid higher salaries. Treated fairly. More likely to be assumed good people and kind people. . . . Every aspect of the system is rigged to benefit whites and to criticize or challenge people of color."
How Black People Might See It

For black Americans, the experience is the mirror opposite of whites. The eruptions do not appear to be merely isolated, but become more dots in the picture providing evidential clarity that racism is indeed real.

"Sixty to 70 percent of black Americans see racism as a continuing problem in America," Dovidio says. "Events will occur and minorities will see it not as an isolated event, but the tip of the iceberg of what they have been experiencing."

There is a genuine reaction not only to one offending event but a whole series of events in the past, says Dovidio.

"It confirms racism is out there and becomes a great way of pointing out racism is out there."

Because black people are aware that the broader society is often deaf to allegations of racism, "We get mad and feel like we have to express that we are mad," says Camille Z. Charles, associate director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Some black people then want to force society to hear their sense of grievance, thinking, "You have to acknowledge there was a wrong. I'm going to make you acknowledge that," says Charles, who is black.

But some argue that racism has been perpetuated, kept alive by people who benefit from the show. Benefit from stoking white guilt. Benefit from encouraging victimhood.

Robert L. Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, calls such people "grievance merchants whose purpose in life is to racialize every situation conceivable without finding out what the facts are."

"Race is an intimidating issue," says Woodson, who is black. "If you want people to back off, all you have to do is inject race, and all the rules of dialogue, all the rules of comity are set aside. You are either for the people who are charging racism or you are for injustice."

Racism gets boiled down into inflammatory words, thrown like swords. Woodson argues that of course racism still exists, but people of color, particularly those with lower incomes, are hurt by perpetuated notions of their victimization.

Woodson, who worked in the civil rights movement, contrasts the marches of today with those of that era and its goal of fostering unity. "In today's world, the purpose is never to unite," he says. "The purpose is to make cheap headlines in the name of being champions of injustice. They are entertainers. I call them civil rights reenactors. Just like Civil War reenactors dress up and act like we are in still the Civil War."

Black people, as a group, are still beset by intractable problems, says Shelby Steele, who is black. He is author of "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era."

Steele lists poverty, single-parent families, high school dropout rates. "But what do we do? Talk about Don Imus and Michael Richards and do nothing to explore the 70 percent illegitimacy rate." Yet, when it comes to race relations, he says, the country has made remarkable progress.

"White America has undergone a marvelous if unremarked moral evolution in the last 40 years and racism is no longer the barrier that it used to be," says Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. "That doesn't mean it no longer exists, that it is no longer present. But it no longer stunts the life of black people.

"We have come to the point where we can entertain ourselves with it," he says, adding sarcastically, "Isn't that wonderful?"
And the Cycle Starts Again

And the Great Race Debate goes on. Nooses still appear, roiling the racial landscape. In the category of contrition, Duane "Dog" Chapman, TV's "Dog the Bounty Hunter," issued an apology late last month for using the N-word to describe his son's girlfriend. (His reality show was canceled.)

There's never a shortage of fodder for the race debate. And no shortage of people to comment, whether to enlighten or just to stir up the rancor.

Steele often is asked to participate in televised discussions. But sometimes the format is "racist," he says.

"I will not be in a situation where we have a white moderator and two blacks screaming at each other. That is profanity. It is gladiatorial, where blacks fight for the amusement of whites. And the white moderator never takes a stand, never tells you what he or she thinks. . . . Whites can say we are having a discussion on race. And whites will not tell you what they think. They come to blacks to get statements because only blacks have the moral authority to speak about race. That is how the formula gets established. I've always resented it."

Abigail Thernstrom, a white member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says the race debate is one-sided because white people are afraid of revealing their thoughts in a climate of anger and accusation.

"People are afraid of saying the wrong thing, something that can be labeled as racially questionable," says Thernstrom. "It stifles the debate and lessens our public lives because there's much to be debated."

So the show goes on. The debate over racism becomes as predictable as reruns on basic cable. The audience watches the Great Race Debate for a while, then changes the channel -- until the next episode.
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Why a Hairstyle Made Headlines

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006; C01

When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) summoned the media to Howard University last week to tell her side of the story in an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, she assumed the traditional news conference position behind a podium and a bank of microphones.
Read more... )
But McKinney also made her hairstyle into such a symbol that it was hard to see the person behind it. Who could notice the cheekbones, the nose and the smile with the loaded distractions of that washerwoman crown of braids?

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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Memories of Chile in the Midst of an American Presidential Campaign
by Ariel Dorfman

Day after day over the past three years, as I watched Americans respond to the terror that unexpectedly descended upon them on September 11th, 2001, the direst memories of Chile and its dictatorship resonated in my mind. There was something dreadfully familiar in the patriotic posturing, the militarization of society, the way in which anyone who dared to be faintly critical was automatically branded as a traitor. Yes, I had seen that before: "You are either with us or against us." I had seen it far too often -- national security trumpeted as a justification for any excess in the pursuit of an elusive enemy.
Read more... )
Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean writer, holds the Walter Hines Page Chair at Duke University. His most recent book Other Septembers, Many Americas: Selected Provocations, 1980-2004 (Seven Stories Press), a perfect introduction to his work, explores the ways Americans apply amnesia to their yesterdays and innocence to their tomorrows. His book Desert Memories (National Geographic) just won the Lowell H. Thomas Silver Award for travel writing.
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A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.
Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts. Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Fuck, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all.
Read more... )
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, and sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.

Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can help yourself.

If you agree, re-post it. It's that important.
from a bunch of other people. i'm not posting this because i agree with it... i'm posting it because i'd like more people's opinions on it then just my own. i mean, i KNOW what i think, which is that the list is troubling in its gendering of sexual assault, in the way it ascribes a rape culture to men, and in the way that it strips away agency from individuals. i agree with the idea; rape is never okay, and people shouldn't rape other people.

in terms of my own opinion... my kids will be enrolled in self defense classes as soon as they're old enough to take them safely, regardless of their gender identity. the world is a dangerous place, but it doesn't have to be a scary one, and i think that part of making that distinction is based on a sense of agency in terms of being aware of one's own safety, and one's own bodily rights.
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Bush's failing grade on racial issues

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | November 9, 2005

HISTORIAN John Hope Franklin has lived through 16 presidents and has met many -- or tried to.
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''I'm not opposed to that, but these three great talents or talented three people in position of leadership are concerned with these matters and not with certain other matters . . . to assist us in moving to the next level. As long as we are concerned, not with those matters, but with other matters which it seems to me are inconsequential, I despair for the country."

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is
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H.J.R. No. 6

A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman.


SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:

Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 2. This state recognizes that through the designation of guardians, the appointment of agents, and the use of private contracts, persons may adequately and properly appoint guardians and arrange rights relating to hospital visitation, property, and the entitlement to proceeds of life insurance policies without the existence of any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 3. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 8, 2005. The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

from [info]darkrosetiger:

Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. (b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage. (emphasis mine)

Re-read that, please.

Any legal status identical to or similar to marriage.

The second clause does not reference gender--it simply says that the state can't create or recognize any status that is like marriage.

Marriage, of course, is identical to marriage.

In an attempt to "defend marriage", the 75% of Texans who voted for this amendment technically ended marriage in the state of Texas.

i don't think that's true but i do think that's funny. :)
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Rape victim: 'Morning after' pill denied
Although it is safe, effective and legal, emergency contraception - the "morning after" pill - can be hard to find in Tucson.

After a sexual assault one recent weekend, a young Tucson woman spent three frantic days trying to obtain the drug to prevent a pregnancy, knowing that each passing day lowered the chance the drug would work.

While calling dozens of Tucson pharmacies trying to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, she found that most did not stock the drug.
Read more... )
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Lucas donates $1M to MLK memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Lucas has donated $1 million to build a memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall, backers of the project announced.

"The ideals and principles for which Dr. King fought have never been forgotten and are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago," Lucas said Thursday, adding in a statement that a memorial ensures King's message will endure for future generations.

Other notable supporters of the project include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

More than $40 million has been raised for the memorial, with $100 million needed to finish the project, organizers said.

Congress authorized the memorial in 1996, and groundbreaking is scheduled for late next year on a four-acre site near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963.

stolen from blackfolk
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Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press WriterTue Oct 4, 7:59 PM ET

President Bush, stirring debate on the worrisome possibility of a bird flu pandemic, suggested dispatching American troops to enforce quarantines in any areas with outbreaks of the killer virus.

Bush asserted aggressive action could be needed to prevent a potentially crippling U.S. outbreak of a bird flu strain that is sweeping through Asian poultry and causing experts to fear it could become the next deadly pandemic. Citing concern that state and local authorities might be unable to contain and deal with such an outbreak, Bush asked Congress to give him the authority to call in the military.

The president has already indicated he wants to give the armed forces the lead responsibility for conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist attacks — a notion that could require a change in law and that even some in the Pentagon have reacted to skeptically. The idea raised the startling-to-some image of soldiers cordoning off communities hit by disease.

"The president ought to have all ... assets on the table to be able to deal with something this significant," Bush said during a 55 minute question-and-answer session with reporters in the sun-splashed Rose Garden.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an "extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said.

It was the president's first full-fledged news conference in over four months, as the White House hopes to regain momentum lost amid sky-high gasoline prices, a rising death roll in Iraq, and a flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush has seen a small rise in his approval ratings, but they remain near the lowest of his presidency.

Despite the polls and recent grumbling about his performance from some Republicans, Bush insisted he still had "plenty" of political capital that he would spend getting lawmakers to go along with his proposed budget cuts, Iraq strategy, proposals to add to U.S. oil refining capacity and desire for a reauthorization of the anti-terror Patriot Act.

He called for quick confirmation of his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

On Katrina, Bush said the federal effort to help evacuees and local communities remains uneven.

He praised his administration's success at handing out $2,000 in immediate cash assistance to some storm victims and in resolving bureaucratic hurdles that had impeded the removal of the Gulf Coast's huge debris piles. But he said the government could "probably do a better job" arranging for temporary housing for displaced people and needed to be up to the task of retraining people to fill new jobs.

Responding to fiscal conservatives' sticker shock at the costs of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, Bush called for "even deeper reductions in the mandatory spending programs than are already planned" to pay for it.

On other topics:

_Bush said the White House has begun the search for a replacement for Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, who retires in January, but he hasn't seen names yet.

_He acknowledged the public had a "diminished appetite" for overhauling Social Security, a top priority earlier this year that was in trouble before Katrina hit and has nearly completely fallen off Congress' radar since then.

_Bush said he was "disappointed, frankly, in the vote I got in the African-American community" in November after trying hard to bring it up from the 9 percent he got in 2000. Bush won 11 percent of the black vote in 2004, and the poor federal response to Katrina's mostly poor and black victims has led many to question Republicans' hopes of doing better next time.

_Citing the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity that has two White House officials as its focus, Bush declined to say if he would fire anyone indicted in the probe, or whether he has discussed the case with the two officials.

Bush signed an executive order in April adding pandemic influenza to the government's list of communicable diseases for which a quarantine is authorized.

The key question he introduced into the debate Tuesday was who would control it: the states that by law now have the main responsibility for containing an outbreak within their borders, or the federal government, which typically has been in charge of keeping diseases from entering the country.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president envisioned possible military control of the quarantine process only "in the most extreme circumstances" and when state and local resources are overwhelmed.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the military hasn't be asked to develop such a plan. But he noted the military's capabilities, with mobile medical units and hospital ships and the ability to create field hospitals quickly.

Avian flu has killed or led to the slaughter of millions of birds, mostly in Asia but in parts of Europe, too.

It has killed about 60 people, mostly poultry workers. So far it doesn't spread easily from person to person. If that changes — and flu viruses mutate regularly — there could be a worldwide outbreak.


On the Net:

CDC inforation on flu pandemics:
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Youth of Color Disproportionately Incarcerated
Advocates, Public Officials Share Stories of Success In
Promoting a Fairer and More Effective Youth Justice System


Washington, DC— Youth of color make up one-third of all youth in America, but two-thirds of youth in juvenile detention facilities. African-American, Latino, and other youth of color are more likely to be locked up than white youth, even when charged with the same types of offenses. No Turning Back: Promising Approaches to Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Affecting Youth of Color in the Justice System, a new report by the Building Blocks for Youth initiative, documents effective strategies by advocates, policymakers, and public officials to reduce inequities in the justice system. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the issue of racial justice has returned to the forefront of the national agenda. This report shows progress in the struggle for a fair and effective youth justice system.
No Turning Back provides often-moving accounts of successful change in recent years from Massachusetts to California, from Louisiana to Washington State. No Turning Back catalogues the strategies used by system insiders as well as outside advocates, including research, legislation, community organizing, media advocacy, and litigation. In a field where real change often occurs slowly, if at all, No Turning Back profiles: Read more... )

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MoveOn.Org Warns HHS Official Unqualified to Deal with Flu Pandemic
By Melanie Hunter Senior Editor
October 12, 2005

( - In an email titled "Flu Pandemic: Our lives are in this man's hands," the Political Action Team issued a warning Wednesday predicting that the Bush administration would be ill-prepared to deal with an outbreak of the avian flu virus in the United States, because the point man responsible for dealing with a flu pandemic is not qualified.
Read more... )
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The Consecration Of Coffee

to Archbishop Oscar A. Romero

One day of god
drinking coffee in my patio
nothing is normal--
not the calla
with its penis of gold
nor the iris
like purple lava
a volcano spills.
I find in the depths of the cup
chasubles embroidered
with black moths
& red stains--
the sun fires
a scintillation of silver bullets
& of candles drowned--
there is blood in its shine.
I place the cup on its saucer
with a most tender care
as if it were a chalice
& say the litany:
El Salvador
& one side of my heart
tastes white & sweet
like cane sugar
& the other,
like coffee,
bitter & black.

-- Rafael Jesús González


Oct. 12th, 2005 11:58 am
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Editorial Reviews
When Mother Nature rages, the physical results are never subtle. Because we cannot contain the weather, we can only react by tabulating the damage in dollar amounts, estimating the number of people left homeless, and laying the plans for rebuilding. But as John M. Barry expertly details in Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, some calamities transform much more than the landscape.
While tracing the history of the nation's most destructive natural disaster, Barry explains how ineptitude and greed helped cause the flood, and how the policies created to deal with the disaster changed the culture of the Mississippi Delta. Existing racial rifts expanded, helping to launch Herbert Hoover into the White House and shifting the political alliances of many blacks in the process. An absorbing account of a little-known, yet monumental event in American history, Rising Tide reveals how human behavior proved more destructive than the swollen river itself. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal
In the spring of 1927, America witnessed perhaps its greatest natural disaster: a flood that profoundly changed race relations, government, and society in the Mississippi River valley region. Barry (The Transformed Cell, LJ 9/1/92) presents here a fascinating social history of the effects of the massive flood. More than 30 feet of water stood over land inhabited by nearly one million people. Almost 300,000 African Americans were forced to live in refugee camps for months. Many people, both black and white, left the land and never returned. Using an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, Barry clearly traces and analyzes how the changes produced by the flood in the lower South came into conflict and ultimately destroyed the old planter aristocracy, accelerated black migration to the North, and foreshadowed federal government intervention in the region's social and economic life during the New Deal. His well-written work supplants Pete Daniel's Deep'n as It Come: The 1927 Mississippi Flood (1977) as the standard work on the subject. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
-?Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky Univ. Libs., Richmond
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The Times October 05, 2005

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent


THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.
Read more... )
JOIN THE DEBATE,,13509-1811332,00.html
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Law on books still bans American Indians from Boston
Posted on Wednesday, May 18 @ 22:48:39 PDT

John "Sam" Sapiel gets an uneasy feeling when he steps over Boston city limits. There are no warrants out for his arrest and he hasn't committed any crime, but he still could be put behind bars -- just because he's an American Indian.

Sapiel, a 74-year-old full-blooded Penobscot Indian who lives in Falmouth, is technically a persona non grata in the city of Boston, where an archaic law forbids American Indians from setting foot since 1675, when settlers were at war with area tribes.

Of course, the bloody conflict known as King Philip's War has been over for centuries, and the odds of Sapiel's arrest under the statute are nonexistent.

But the fact that it's lingered for so long has been a festering source of anger for Indians, who feel that it should have been stricken from the books long ago.

"I feel kind of put out on the whole thing, because we're being singled out as Indian people," Sapiel said. "I think about it quite a bit. It's on my mind all the time."

Now, some 330 years after passage of the act entitled "Indians Prohibited Being in Boston," lawmakers are poised to finally delete it from the statutes.

Indians and activists have been working for about eight years to repeal the statute. Just before the Democratic National Convention last year, the Falmouth-based Muhheconnew National Confederacy, a coalition of American Indian tribes, called for the law's repeal, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino filed a petition in the fall to dump it.

But it didn't go anywhere -- until this week, when a state legislative committee sent it to the full Legislature. The renewed effort comes as a national organization of minority journalists considers whether to hold its 2008 convention in Boston.

Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. said they might pass over Boston for the convention because of the law. The convention would mean 8,000 or so journalists converging on Boston for four days -- spending an estimated $4.5 million on lodging, dining and souvenirs.

"It is a deal breaker, because we couldn't in good heart come to a city that banned one of our members, or any group," said Unity Executive Director Anna M. Lopez. The group will pick the host city in June.

State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who co-chairs the committee that recommended repealing it this week, said she acted as soon as she heard about the issue last week.

"I think the proponents for the repeal made the case that just having it on the books was offensive enough," she said.

The statute was passed, along with a law creating an internment camp for Indians for Boston Harbor's Deer Island, when tensions between colonists and Wampanoag leader Metacom -- derisively dubbed Philip by the settlers - broke out into violence in 1675.

The war only lasted a year, ending when Metacom was killed in 1676. Though lawmakers repealed the law creating the Deer Island camp the year after the war ended, the imprisonment act remained.

Menino, who presides over a city that now has more minorities than whites, supports doing away with the law. A spokeswoman for Gov. Mitt Romney said he would sign the bill if it reached his desk, which could happen as soon as Thursday.

Allowing it to remain in place, Menino said in letter to lawmakers, "is a disservice to the people and history that makes our city wonderful."

Chris "Quiet Bear" Montgomery, 79, a member of the Nipmuc tribe who lives in Revere, testified earlier this week at the legislative hearing, called it "a black mark against the state of Massachusetts. Not just Boston, but the whole state."

Sapiel said he was relieved that the law's demise appeared imminent.

"This should have happened a long time ago," he said. "I'm glad it's happening now."
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35 Ways You Can Help the Homeless
"You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." ~John Bunyan

1. Understand Who the Homeless Are - Help dispel the stereotypes about the homeless. Learn about the different reasons for homelessness, and remember, every situation is unique.
2. Respect the Homeless as Individuals - Give the homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance. Read more... )
Reprinted with generous permission of Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, author of 54 Ways You Can Help The Homeless. Published by Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc. and Behrman House, Inc. ©1993


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