Vigil for David Kato still happening

Weather may keep our numbers small, but we are still vigiling tomorrow for Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato at noon, in  front of Arise, 467 State St., Springfield.

David Kato would savor every snowflake that falls tomorrow.

Hearing on new foreclosure law

Foreclosure-Related State of MA Hearing
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

This is a chance to send our State officials a message.  Some points our members have raised:
1) We need the state to increase protections for former homeowners as bank tenants;
2) Banks need to offer meaningful loan modifications to homeowners;
3) We need banks to offer principal reduction on loans, to reflect actual market value of homes.
Share your own thoughts & experiences at the hearing.

David Kato's funeral - Tuesday vigil


The pastor presiding over the funeral of murdered gay rights activist David Kato went on an anti-homosexual rant Friday, adding insult to injury for the circle of activists hoping to honour and bury their friend.
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.

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release:  January 29, 2011 -  Media Contact:
Holly Richardson, Out Now (413.348.8234)
On Tuesday, February 1, 2011, Out Now, Arise for Social Justice and other concerned members of our community will hold a peaceful vigil in front of the Arise office to remember the life of David Kato, Ugandan LGBT human rights defender, murdered on January 26 in his home.  His violent death comes in the wake of threats, violence and intimidation that he himself and other LGBT individuals and their supporters have faced. In the most recent incident of incitement to homophobic violence, the faces, names and addresses of “alleged homosexuals” were published under the headline “Hang Them” by a local tabloid.
What:     Vigil
When:    February 1, 2011pm at 12:00pm
Where:   In front of the Arise for Social Justice office headquarters,
    467 State Street, Springfield
The murder of David Kato further highlights the concerns many here in our community have had with regard to the recent exposure of Scott Lively’s residency and work in Springfield.  Holly Richardson of Out Now states,” We are calling upon Scott Lively to stop his hateful rhetoric. She adds, “If Scott Lively is truly working to help improve the lives of the people in our city, as he says he is, than I would think he would want to start with a genuine apology for any of his actions that may have led to inciting violence at home or abroad.” 
Arise President Don James says, “We have to stand against oppression wherever we see it.  No one should have to be in fear of their lives because of their sexual orientation.”
The vigil will both show that members of our community will oppose and confront those who put forth hateful and violent rhetoric, and will honor the struggle for human rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Growth of Religious Intolerance Disturbing

First Nation writer Doug Cuthand draws parallels between the historical prohibition of First Nation ceremonies with the Quebec National Assembly's refusal to allow Sikhs to wear their ceremonial daggers into the Assembly.
He wonders if Canada is headed down the slippery slope of religious intolerance.  Fascinating article which you can read at Star Phoenix..

Next Community Coalition for Justice Meeting

Monday, Feb. 7th at 6 pm, at Out Now, 1695 Main St., Springfield.  Help us plan for the upcoming "Know Your Rights" training on Feb. 11, plan court solidarity, plan for the Police Brutality Speak-Out-- all seekers of social justice welcome!

Massachusetts state budget is balanced on the backs of the poor!

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

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.

Milton Rogovin

From 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.

His steelworkers and miners, prostitutes and hustlers, the retired and the unemployed, do not want our pity. They look into his camera from among the tools of their trade, on the streets where they work, at home among their treasures or alone against a bare wall. “Who built the seven gates of Thebes?” Milton used to quote Brecht. Who made the world we know? Where did they live? What did they love? And who is left behind? Milton read history and saw some of the people who made it in perspective. Like aristocrats and astronauts, they posed for their portraits, without, as he said, any “monkey business” from him. Read more at The Nation.

Does Scott Lively accept any responsibility for this?

I am sickened-- absolutely sickened-- by the presence of this man only three doors from Arise!  We've had one meeting between Arise and Out Now and are planning for another for the wider community.  Stay tuned.

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.
Josh Kron contributed reporting from Juba, Sudan

We can't let ourselves be intimidated

Here's the email from Sally Weiss that got folks together yesterday...
There's a CALL FOR SOLIDARITY with the anti-war activists who must appear before a Grand Jury in Chicago early next week.  Let's answer this call and assemble at 4:00 this Tuesday (Jan. 25) in downtown Springfield in front of the FBI office,  which is in the downtown TD Building right in the heart of downtown Springfield.
Carpool from the North at the Gazette Parking Lot on Conz Street,  Northampton, at 3:25.
Ellen Graves and I put together a Stop the FBI Raids demonstration in front of the FBI office (downtown TD Bank Bldg) in Springfield shortly after we heard about the raids in Minneapolis and Chicago on Sept. 24, 2010.  We had a good response, a very good crowd of protestors.  Emma Roderick of BORDC (Northampton) spoke and was our interface to the TV media.  Atty. John Thompson explained our rights as protestors to us and helped us interface with the Springfield police. Carl Moos wrote us up a good explanatory flyer to hand out to citizens; those passerbys seemed quite interested. We chanted,  led by Ellen and by Malcolm Chu of Justice for Jason and No One Leaves.  We certainly got each other energized.
Fast Forward to December.  Marilyn Levin from Boston contacted several members of the Alliance for Peace and Justice of W-MA that one of the people subpoened on Sept. 24 in Minneapolis was available to speak in Northampton.  We jumped at the opportunity.  The very committed activist Meredith Aby gave us a rousing account of what happened to her and what the National Lawyers Guild is doing in building the defense of these activists.  Bruce Miller, professor of Constituational Law at Western New England College,  was our M.C.  Bill Newman of the ACLU and Nick Camerota of IAC-International Action Center provided us with materials,  especially the CCR's "When the FBI Knocks".  Now we knew a lot and were better prepared to protect ourselves and our friends.
IT LOOKS LIKE WE NEED TO EXERCISE OUR FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY and OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH ONCE MORE.  Down below please read a call relayed by PDA's Tim Carpenter for SOLIDARITY PROTESTS ON JANUARY 25 -- this coming Tuesday.  My buddy Ellen Graves is in D.C. fasting and protesting No More Guantanamos and the treatment of Bradley Manning.  So this Sat. morning at 6:15 I am issuing the call,  based on what went well earlier.
Let's meet up at 4:00 this Tuesday (Jan. 25) in downtown Springfield in front of the FBI office,  which is in the downtown TD Building right in the heart of downtown.  There is a little brick plaza there -- just built for a good protest.  It's right on Main Street at 1441 Main.   If you're coming from I-91,  it's just one block from the ramp at Exit 7 (coming from the North).  It is in the general area of the Sheraton Hotel and Tower Square.  There is some parking on the street and in the huge parking area a block away under I-91.
ARISE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE made signs for the earlier demonstration so we're all set there.  We'll try to stay awhile until about 5:30 or so, so that demonstrators can get there after work too.  We did find that there is good passerby traffic at 4:00;  it's a good time for TV coverage;  so let's stick to that starting time.  Checking the weather forecast,  Tuesday will be slightly warmer than Sunday, with some possibility of snow.  (Watch your email for any changes in schedule due to the weather, but it looks ok right now.)
In Northampton we are used to carpooling from the Gazette Parking Lot.  So let's say -- Carpool at 3:25.
Maybe I can rig up a way to fill AFSC's big water jug with some Hot Chocolate to keep us going. 
Try to be there !  Spread the word !  This is our chance to support the brave activists in the Midwest,  our chance to support Meredith Aby, who we know.

Giving Nietzsche Eyes

In my previous post, commentator Nietzsche made the following comment:

"I'll provide another scenario. A secluded island of peoples that have no contact with Christian missionaries or the bible. Are they born Christian? Do they believe in Jesus or Jehovah? No, again goes to prove that without teachers or missionaries, Christianity like other pagan religions will die out. The only people who perpetuate the "faith" is its followers." 
Consider a community of blind men who are strict empiricists. From their perspective, lacking the sense of sight, they would be unable to verify the existence of colours, and any statements with regard to colour, shape or pattern would be,from their point of view, unempiric and hence unscientific.  Statements concerning visual phenomenon would be unable to be verified and hence would be articles of faith; a body of knowledge belonging to the category of superstition.

Now suppose a sighted man, literally a visionary, told them about the phenomenon of colour, how could they discern if they were telling him the truth or not? They can't, because they lack the sensory capacity to confirm the subject in question.

The core idea behind empiricism is that perception is the window to reality, and that any understanding of reality must be perceptually confirmed. 

People say that seeing is believing. But seeing is not believing; thinking is believing. Seeing is knowing; everything else is emotive hope, probabilistic guess or reasoned theory.

Commentators Brockmann and Neitzsche have put forward the argument that without sensory input of any kind, a man would fail to be Christian, and that religious belief is conditional upon personal circumstances. Their view is partially correct. Men inherit their faith from their ancestors and certainly, for the unreflective man, faith is a circumstantial habituated practice.

The reflective man however has a problem. He questions and challenges his faith, and if logically consistent, finds that there is nothing in the Universe which supports his view. Thieves prosper, the good are murdered,  and the completely innocent suffer tremendously.  Empirically, there is no way he can confirm that Gay Marriage and Adultery are objectively wrong.  Statistically he may be able to find data that supports a respective religious vision, but he cannot find any data the confirms a creed. As commentators Brockmann and Neitzsche imply, ought cannot be derived from is and hence the implication that transcendent truths are unknowable, and therefore arbitrary fairy stories; cognitive products of the imagination for whatever reason.

They are, of course, logically correct.

And yet they are wrong.

Because their understanding of the human perceptual capacity is in error.

I wish to illustrate what I mean by starting off with a passage of biblical text. Not because I want them to believe in the veracity of the Bible, but because the text succinctly explains the difference between believers and non-believers and problem of Modernity.
As it is written: God hath given them the spirit of insensibility; eyes that they should not see; and ears that they should not hear, until this present day

(Romans 11:8 Douay-Rheims)
Note the term insensibility, the inability to sense or perceive. This is not a play on words, as different translations of text refer to same phenomenon. The Christian fathers did not think of faith as a cognitive process but a sensory modality. In their view,  unbelief was not the product of faulty thinking, it was the product of insensibility; a perceptual failure.

To them, faith was a sixth sense; an eye or ear-like faculty which allowed us to perceive non-physical realities. When the Christian fathers asserted that men should not commit adultery, they were not plucking something out of thin air or making a rational calculation based up their value preferences; they were being empirical.

Where the strict empiricists(and quite a few Christians) go wrong, is in assuming that the phenomenon of faith is a cognitive process, the end point of some form of emotive or faulty rationalisation, instead of a sensory phenomenon.

A great example of this "perception"sense in operation, as opposed to cognitive effect, was the motive force behind C.S. Lewis' own conversion to Christianity:
"You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England" (Surprised By Joy, ch. 14, p. 266). (My italics)

Lewis was no gullible idiot. Here, what we see in this passage, is  Lewis wanting to rationalise away a perception or experience that he was having. Like someone suffering  a sore tooth, which forces itself to their attention,  Lewis was being nagged by some form of unwilled sensory stimulus.  His conversion was not the product willed rationalisation but of an unwanted experience: The intruding sense of "Him" was felt/percieved rather than willed. Lewis had no choice in the matter, in the same way he had no choice in choosing the colour of the sky.

When a man of faith says murder is wrong, it's akin to him saying an apple is red or the sky is blue. It's a statement of fact rather than opinion. Of course to the "blind" man who believes that all men are blind, there is no such objective thing as redness, saying that the apple is red or the sky is blue is purely arbitrary.

The Church fathers recognised that the "faith-sense" was the weakest of all senses, through which we saw "through a glass darkly", much like looking through a cataract affected eye; broad shapes can be detected but the detail eludes us. I imagine that a very undeveloped form of this faith sense is what explains humanity's default morality.  All people have a crude understanding that murder and theft are wrong, and they understand that they are wrong at a deeper level than cognitive explanation, they percieve them to be wrong.

It's this lack of sensory acuity which probably explains the profusion of religions, men have felt the pull of transcendence or mistaken an experience as transcendent, and interpreted the sensation incorrectly, in the same way that a group of nearly blind man can discern human forms but disagree with regard to the identity of them.

The atheist mistake is in assuming that the divisions amongst the religious are due to differing rationalisations instead of differing interpretations. To use our nearly blind group of men analogy, the atheist or rationalist blind man thinks that the man affected with the severe cataracts is making things up, whilst the man with the cataract is trying to understand what is going on. If you were to take a group of men with cataracts and present them with a the image of a person at a distance, one will say its Fred, some will say its Bill and the others will say its Judy, they will all know that they have percieved something even if they are not sure what it is, but the blind men, being unable to perceive, will assume that the cataract affected, are making things up.

What separates the  Moderns from the rest of humanity is in this perception of "something else" beyond the five-sense barrier. And Christians ,in particular, should understand that from the atheist perspective (those who lack the faith sense), religion is logically ridiculous. And it is this fact that poses a huge practical problem for conservatives and it also gives an inkling of what we are up against.

When Christopher Hitchins or his ilk argue that faith is just superstition and "fairy stories", they are absolutely correct from their objective point of view.  You see, Hitchins et al, live their life assuming with certitude, that there is no such thing as "faith-sight" and any statements with regard to "faith-colours or forms" are arbitrary. The honest ones amongst them are like blind men, who truly and honestly believe that there is no such thing as sight, and any statements regarding such are rubbish. Trying to convince these men, by rational argument, of the existence of transcendent moralities is by logical necessity, going to fail. In order to get the get the militant atheists on side you've got to get them to "see". They literally can't think their way towards religion because good thinking without faith is irreligious.   Or to put it another way, arguing with them is like arguing with a blind man about the nature of colour, there is no way you can get him to "see" red.

This "faith-sense", not being a renationalisation process, cannot therefore be experienced by acts of rationalisation. Blind people cannot experience colours by study or by rational argument; they have to sense them.

The only way past this impasse is by some way granting them the ability to "see". The Church fathers also recognised that this faith sense was not "intrinsic" to our being but was rather a bestowed gift of God.* That means petitionary prayer; asking God to give our enemies "sight". This is why there will be no HBD or atheistic conservative revival (they may be able to give the appearance of conservative revival but it will eventually degenerate into leftist decay, it's a movement trying to empty a bathtub with a seive). They are operating within the same sensory frame of reference as do the atheists.

The West is doomed unless men start praying to God for revival and conversion of their enemies.  When the monasteries start reappearing, that's when you know it'll all be right.

*(Personally I'm not so sure of this,  I sometimes wonder if we all have this sense but that it becomes dulled either by Divine will or by evil human habit or will, i.e the sense is intrinsic to our being.)

This Tuesday-- protest a foreclosure!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 2PM
38 Seneca Street, Springfield, MA
Two days before Christmas, 40 community members and supporters protested at 38 Seneca Street to demand that PHH Mortgage Corporation stop the foreclosure auction scheduled for that day.  38 Seneca Street is the home of Noelia Ramos, her husband, her daughter and her two year old granddaughter.  The power of the community successfully postponed the auction until January 25th.  We cheered and chanted, "We'll Be Back!"
Shortly after the auction, Ms. Ramos received a call from the bank asking what all those people were doing outside of her house. When Ms. Ramos explained they were there to support her and fight for her and her family, the bank's representative said, "Well now you can just deal with me," and asked her to send in loan modification papers again! Ms. Ramos sent in her information and is still trying to work with the bank to find a reasonable solution. But PHH Mortgage is planning to foreclose on her home during the middle of the process!
Why won't the bank cancel the auction and negotiate in good faith to modify Ms. Ramos' loan?!

Join us to protest PHH's insistence on auctioning off the Ramos Family home.  If the auction proceeds on Tuesday, let's give potential investors a loud message that our community supports the right of Ms. Ramos and her family to stay in their home.  The No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude campaign is determined not to let another Springfield house get boarded up by the bank and another Springfield family get kicked out onto the street!

For more information, contact organizer Malcolm Chu at 718-666-6872.

Ask the Super Bowl Host Committee to Stand Up and Protect Children

The trafficking of children for sale at the Super Bowl is well documented.  Texas Attorney General Abbott is taking a stand and has prepared a task force to identify and respond to traffickers who plan to sell children at the Super Bowl.  However, it is not enough to expect law enforcement and victim advocates to bear the entire burden of responding to this issue, which is expected to include many victims.  In support of the efforts of the task force, we are requesting the Super Bowl Host Committee embrace a proactive approach with community members by endorsing the “I’m Not buying It” campaign, which would raise awareness and deter the buying of children during the Super Bowl.
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!!

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   Photo credit: Lady DragonflyCC

Homeless shelter turns away gay people

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From Michael Jones at 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.

Stand against police brutality

Please come to the Springfield Court tomorrow, Tuesday Jan. 18th to stand against police brutality.  Melvin Jones has a court appearance and we will stand out on State St. with our signs.  Please come at 8:15am!

Also, we will go to the Chicopee Court next Friday Jan. 28th at 8:30am, when it will be decided if Jeffery Asher will get approved a 'change of venue' for the criminal charges brought against him for the beating of Melvin Jones.

Felice Yeskel, longtime Arise ally, dies

Sometimes it can seem like  Springfield and the upper valley are separated by thousands of miles...but Felice Yeskel was one of the rare persons who bridged that divide.

I couldn't do better to describe her work than to reprint the obituary written by her partner, Felicia Mednick, for the Hampshire Gazette.

AMHERST - Felice Yeskel, age 57, died at home in Amherst on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, of cholangiocarcinoma.
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).

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz: THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA - 1964

Quincy Jones - SOUL BOSSA NOVA


Spoek Mathambo ft Zaki Ibrahim- Don"t mean to be rude

Spoek Mathambo - Don't mean to be rude ft Zaki Ibrahim from leneopen on Vimeo.

If you don't know Spoek Mathambo, then we not sure which rock you been hiding at. This is his latest video from the Mshini Wam' album that droppped on BBE records last year. Google this dude... He is the future.

Health care? What health care?

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.

Flowers amongst weeds.

I'm warning the Atheists that this is a religious post.

I don't think that many of my American readers realise just how hostile the contemporary cultural climate has become with regard to religion outside the U.S.  Amongst polite society, religious belief is not just intellectually mocked, but it has become a social vice, much like not washing or belching in public. The result of this twin pronged attack is that religion tends not to be mentioned at all in public discourse (except when discourse is critical of it.) Conservatives of the HBD bent--the most successful conservatives and the ones scoring the most social points--do their bit as well, denying religious insight any legitimacy(except where it is subordinate to evolutionary concerns). Amongst the dynamic conservatives at the moment, religious matters are touched briefly and with some embarrassment. The conservative argument is fought on empirical basis alone.

I suppose this areligious flavour of conservatism has its roots in the debates with the left. Conservative thinkers have tried to debate the Left on the Left's terms in the mistaken belief that while Leftist's were irreligious, they were at least objective on more worldly matters.  This view of course was false. The Left were never objective. Their objectivity was subjective, subjective to their own prejudices and they simply ignored argument which conflicted with their preferred version of reality. There was no dialogue but lots of debate. Conservatism, shaped by this endless dialogue with the Left, became publicly, practically irreligious.

This is a shame because without religious insight Conservatism is dead.

The Left is the killing the West, and thinking people of all persuasions realise that something is wrong. Detroit just one example of the malignancy of the Left disease and yet unless it is stopped, Detroit is the future for all of us. 20th Century Conservatism has the failed to stop the disease. Indeed God-lite Conservatism is part of the disease. There will be no revival of the West without a religious revival.

I've been meaning to put up this post for a while but could not find a good example to illustrate what I meant till I came upon this post. (Hat tip. The Black Death).  Amongst Detroit's cancer is something that refuses to die. (These are images of the surrounding area)

There are only 12 parishioners seated in the pews at the front. There’s room behind them for almost 2,500 more.

There’s no place else like it in Detroit. The way its tattered beauty still shows despite its age, the way a handful of people keep it going despite the challenges, the way its past was wild and sometimes even violent, it’s a lot like the city it has stood in all these years.

“This place is not only a statement about God; it’s a statement about us,” says Bob Duda, 64, part of the Polish American Historic Site Association, the group that takes care of St. Albertus. “It’s like a skyscraper — here we are folks, we’re important, just as important as anybody else. We’re going to be proud of ourselves. That’s why they built churches like this; otherwise they could’ve done it in tents*. It’s a testimony to us and our history and our heritage.   
*(Note to Modernist Architects)

Just imagine the effort and personal sacrifice that went into the building of this church. The care and artistry that lavished upon it, a time when infant mortality was shocking, hunger real and destitution, an ever present reality.  That a bunch of peasant Polaks,  Europe's rejected, could build such a church in what was effectively the wilderness and against the odds was testimony to the power of their culture to create something magnificent from nothing. As opposed to the modern culture of Detroit, which corrodes everything it touches, their culture was a culture of vitality: The force of life.

It's this "force" that gave the West its vitality and without this force the West will die. The world has gone through prolonged periods of darkness before and on a purely logical level there is no reason why the West go the way of other cultures.

That such a church, built up with much effort, toil and sacrifice; the drama for life's great events and a thing of beauty itself, could be sold for one hundred dollars is proof that the current Catholic church is run by downright morons and cultural aesthetes. The natural way of things when governed by such men is for self destruction. That the Church survives is not due to human agency, as clearly it is manifestly lacking, but is supported by something Divine. As some cardinal, whose name I forget said, "the Devil will never destroy the Church, our own priests have been trying to do it for nearly two thousand years without success." It survives despite the idiocy of its supposed guardians.

The force that keeps this church alive is the force that shaped the West and when this force leaves this church it will die. The name of this force is caritas. In English, the word is frequently translated into the terms charity and love. But these terms do not do concept justice. The best way I can think of it as a will to perfection. (perfection in the Aristotelian sense). This force, expressed in the real world, improves upon it. Reality is not only better, but reality thrives in its action.

If I had to distill the big ideas of the West, the qualities which gave it its unique character, it would be caritas and veritas.  Of these two, caritas is more important. Without caritas, veritas is impotent. The world thrives suboptimaly when it has caritas, but caritas becomes supercharged in the presence of veritas. (The West rocked in the 19th Century, it's when the two forces became aligned in Western society) And that's is why conservatism has failed, its concentrated on the veritas instead of the caritas; it's got its priorities wrong.

Looking at Paul's letter to the Corinthians in this light, it assumes a different message. Instead of it being an exposition on love, it becomes a sociological insight. Our society, no matter how technologically gifted it is, no matter what feats it can perform, is doomed to nothingness without charity. The technological fix, no matter how well informed, is doomed to failure. The HBD movement is a dead end. That's not to say that it does not have valuable insights(veritas), but on its own it's not enough. Standing in modern Detroit, St Paul could clearly identify the malady. Where is the love? Would be his comment. Detroit is decaying because of idiocy and indifference, failures of both veritas and caritas. In a sea of desolation, St Albertus survives because of love.

Before you can save Detroit or the West, you've gotta care. Without the love, no matter how informed you are,  you don't give a shit.