Tag Archives: Violence against women

A Historic Meeting … Cuba

whitehouselogoa repost

President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama City  — marking the first full meeting between the leaders of the two countries since we announced a new diplomatic path with Cuba.

The two presidents discussed our shared histories, significant policy changes, and the positive response in both countries to this thaw in relations. “This is obviously a historic meeting,” said President Obama — who was in Central America for the seventh Summit of the Americas, a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the region.

Watch the President’s remarks at the Summit and learn more about his trip.

The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas.

Weekly Address: Tuition-Free Community College

In this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students. A better-educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world. Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy.


Why Conversion Therapy Hurts All of Us

More than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy — and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.


West Wing Week: “A Good Deal”

Last week, the President made an important announcement about preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, traveled west to champion high-tech jobs in Louisville and clean energy jobs in Salt Lake City, had some fun at the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and flew to Jamaica for a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations.


Mayor Rauner … seems to be against his constituents

  Rauner suspends $26 million in social services, public health grants

Rauner suspends $26 million in social services, public health grants

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office worked with the Departments of Human Services and Public Health “to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”

Associated Press

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended $26 million in social services and public health grants as part of his push to whittle away at a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current state budget.

The Republican’s office released a list of targeted programs late Friday that included funding to pay for the funerals and burials of public-assistance recipients, smoking cessation, teen programs, autism, and HIV and AIDS programs, among other things.

Rauner also froze $3.4 million in funding for immigrant integration assistance as part of ongoing efforts to keep the state rolling through the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

Rauner’s office said the check-writing halt – he also interrupted $180 million in parkland grants in March – is necessary because the expenditures were based on the assumption a temporary income tax would be extended past January, but it wasn’t after Rauner won the election.

“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”

The cuts will save the state $21.8 million in Department of Human Services Grants and $4.5 million in unexpended funding through the Department of Public Health. The suspensions only affect this year’s funding, Kelly said.

But there’s always another price – this one paid for by constituents who, as soon as Monday morning, will be told through closed doors there’s no more money to help them.

Breandan Magee, senior director of programs for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said dozens of organizations assisted 102,000 legal immigrants in 2014 with applications for citizenship, English as a Second Language classes and health and nutrition programs for low-income immigrants.

“There are 299 jobs across 60 different immigrant-services agencies at risk” with funding ceasing, Magee said Saturday. “There are workshops scheduled for citizenship, applications for citizenship pending, ESL classes hallway through.”

Immigrant integration programs – which Rauner proposed eliminating entirely in the 2016 budget – will forfeit nearly half of their $6.7 million budget, according to figures provided by the governor’s office. Magee said he hopes the state will cover expenses he’s already incurred.

A copy of Friday’s letter from Human Services, obtained by The Associated Press, notifies the recipient to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds.” Agencies must submit records of all spending for the year. Jimi Orange of Children’s Home and Aid faces the unenviable task of telling up to 25 of the 100 children in Chicago’s impoverished West Englewood neighborhood they can’t come to Earle Elementary School for after-class tutoring and cultural activities because the state has recalled the remaining $3.1 million of Teen REACH money for kids ages 7 to 17.

“The staff’s concern is how to tell the families? What to tell the kids? How to tell the kids?” Orange said. “These are kids who already have abandonment issues, trust issues.”

Parkland-related grants Rauner has suspended this year include $90 million for park facility construction, $56 million for local governments to purchase open space for future parkland, and $30 million for museum capital-construction grants.

Grants suspended by Rauner include:


Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million

Rauner’s ‘turnaround budget’ has cuts called ‘reckless,’ ‘wrong priorities’

You be the judge. Look at the list below and decide if grants for the Homeless or for HIV assistance, Addiction  prevenetion, and so on are reckless.

Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million

Welcoming Centers, $191,300

ARC Lifespan, $118,100

Best Buddies, $250,000

Autism, $1 million

Group Home Loans, $20,000

Compulsive Gambling $406,000

Westside Health, $94,200

Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million

Assistance for Homeless, $300,000

Community Services, $2 million

Teen REACH, $3.1 million

Coalition F/Tech Assist-Child, $250,000

For Children’s Health Program, $231,600

Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700

Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700

SMRF Training, $420,100

Transportation, $43,900

DD Latino Outreach, $87,500

Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500

Epilepsy, $514,700

DHS TOTAL: $21.8 million


Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800

Increasing Access to Health Care-Wellness on Wheels, $180,000

Wellness on Wheels – Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000

Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million

Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000

MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000

IDPH TOTAL: $4.5 million


Park and Recreational Facility Construction, $89.5 million

Open Space Lands Acqusition and Development, $56.3 million

Museum Capital Grants, $30.4 million

Bike Paths, Mud-to-Parks, others, $2.6 million

IDNR TOTAL: $178.8 million

*Grants suspended in March

Donna De La Cruz, Reform Immigration FOR America

immigrationa repost from April 2015

Republicans in Congress spent two years blocking immigration reform from becoming law, forcing President Obama to find a solution by providing relief to immigrant families through Expanded DACA and DAPA. Now, a group of Republicans Governors and Attorneys General have gone out of their way to obstruct progress once again by getting an anti-immigrant judge in Texas to issue an injunction delaying relief programs.

Republican attacks on our community are happening in Congress and the courts–they want to make life as hard as possible for our community. They want us to be discouraged. They want us to quit. But we cannot!

Push back on Republicans by publicly showing that you support justice for immigrant families! Click here to share your support for our community on Facebook and click here to show your support on Twitter!

Republicans want the public to believe that their lawsuit is about President Obama’s use of power, but don’t be fooled–their lawsuit is about denying peace and justice to immigrants and their families. Delaying administrative relief means taking mothers and fathers from their children. It means keeping bright and ambitious young people from following their dreams and attending college. It means deporting hardworking community members, disrupting cities and towns across the country. Does that sound like justice to you?

Stand with families and demand justice for immigrants and their families–share the images to show solidarity with immigrant families everywhere! Click here to share on Facebook and click here to retweet on Twitter!

We have to keep fighting, because while Republicans in Congress and in the states play their political games, it’s our families and our communities that suffer. We cannot give in: the law is ultimately on our side, we need only to keep faith and prepare for the day when the injunction is lifted and we can proceed with administrative relief. Share these images on your Facebook and Twitter to show that you stand with immigrants in demanding justice!

With determination,

Donna De La Cruz
Reform Immigration FOR America

P.S. Not on Facebook or Twitter? Help us spread the word! Forward this email to a friend so they can show their support for the rights of immigrants and their families!

Help Win 2016 ~~ Blue Florida Fund ~~

AlterNet on behalf of Alan Grayson: a repost

Do you know a thing or two about politics? Then listen up.

You’ve been hearing a lot about the 2014 elections. Well, I’m asking you to set your gaze a little further out, and think about what it will take to keep a Democrat in the White House in 2016. And beyond. Forever.

It’s simple: As Florida goes, so goes the nation. The winner in Florida has won every one of the last five Presidential elections — including that very painful one, in 2000. In each case, the margin of victory was five percent or less. Florida makes Presidents, and no President has won Florida by more than five percent in over a quarter of a century.

And as Central Florida goes, so goes Florida. The Panhandle in the north is red. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale is blue. So for better or worse, Central Florida decides who our President will be.

Who represents Central Florida in Congress? I do. And I have a plan to win Florida for the Blue Team in 2016, and ensure a Democratic Presidential victory. But I need your help.

Contribute to our Blue Florida Fund to re-register Democratic voters who move and give them absentee ballots to vote at home. Let’s lock up Florida for 2016.

When I first ran for Congress in 2006, I asked a certain Senator to host an event for our campaign. He said: “No, but I’ll give you some advice that’s more valuable than any event that I can do for you.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Raise all the money you can, and spend it all on 30-second TV ads.”

I ignored him. And I’m still ignoring him. Our campaign registers Democratic voters in Central Florida, knocks on their doors, and helps them to vote.

In the 2012 election, we raised $5 million, and we spent $1 million of that in our “field campaign,” to get out the vote. I’m pretty sure that no other House candidate spent $1 million on field.

We had 50 paid “canvassers,” going door to door, from March to November. Every Democratic voter got three knocks on the door.

So what happened? I went from a devastating loss in 2010 to a tremendous victory in 2012. According to the House Historian, it was the biggest comeback in the history of the House.

But that’s not all. Unlike those 30-second TV ads, our field program helped good Democrats above us and below us on the ballot.

There was only one area in Florida where President Obama did better in 2012 than he did in 2008. My district. When the Obama Campaign was asked to identify one place in the entire country where fieldwork had made a difference, they identified Osceola County – in the heart of my district.

When Democrats vote, Democrats win. And we know how to get Democrats in Central Florida to vote.

Our Blue Florida Fund can win the gubernatorial race in the third-largest state for the Democrats this year, and it can lock down the Presidency for the Democratic candidate in 2016 – whoever she may be. But only if you help. Contribute to our Blue Florida Fund today.

Here’s how we do it. (And please – don’t forward this note to Karl Rove.) The average voter moves roughly ten times in his or her life. Democrats move more often that Republicans do. Every time a voter moves, he or she has to re-register. So we track down Democratic voters who move to Central Florida, or within Central Florida, and we register them.

Cost: $10 per voter.

Now here’s a funny thing about Democrats: a lot of us work on Tuesday. In fact, some of us work two jobs on Tuesdays. So it’s rather unfortunate for Democratic candidates that elections are held on Tuesdays.

We have an answer for that: Vote By Mail. Someone who votes by mail is twice as likely to vote as someone who votes on Election Day. You can look it up.

In every election year, the highest turnout is in Oregon. Why Oregon? Because in Oregon, everyone votes by mail.

So what do we do? We sign up Democrats to vote by mail – in massive numbers. There are 27 Congressional districts in Florida. At one point in 2012, however, one-quarter of all of the Democrats who were signed up to vote by mail in all of Florida were Democrats in our district. And another big chunk lived in the neighboring district, in the part that I used to represent.

Our canvassers go door-to-door, signing up Democratic voters to vote by mail.

Cost: $5 per voter.

Our Blue Florida Fund delivers votes, in huge numbers, by boosting Democratic turnout. Your contribution to the Blue Florida Fund doesn’t pay for some nasty attack ad – it pays to get Democratic voters out to vote.

Now here is the best part of all. In Florida, we are allowed to sign up voters to vote by mail for two election cycles. Therefore, we are signing up Democrats to turn out to vote in 2014 and . . . in 2016.

More votes for Congressman Alan Grayson, and more votes for Hillary. (Or whoever our candidate may be.)

But here’s the problem: On Election Day, we celebrate our victory, and on the following day, everyone gets fired from the campaign. It’s really, really weird, but that’s how it’s done. So the voter registrations stop, and the absentee ballot requests stop.

I don’t want to do it that way. I want to keep registering Democratic voters and arranging for them to vote by mail until Florida is sky-blue, and then as blue as the ocean. Because once we do that, the Presidency is ours for the rest of my life – and yours. There is no way – no way – that the GOP can win the Oval Office without Florida. (And they know it, which is why Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are considered serious candidates.)

So to keep that field program going throughout the year, we need to have at least 1000 people sign up to give $20.16 each month for the Blue Florida Fund. And I need you to be one of them.

Why $20.16? You figure it out. But if you participate, then we can keep our field campaign going. not only between now and November, but all the way through the 2016 election.

Do the math. Your $20.16 each month will register 54 more Democratic voters between now and the 2016 Presidential election. Or it will yield 108 more Democratic voters who will vote by mail.

Does that matter? You bet it does. If you believe the official reports, then Bush beat Gore by just 537 votes in Florida. So you, and only five others, could make all the difference in 2016, and thereafter.

Please sign up for our Blue Florida Fund today, and contribute each month toward a Blue America, and a Blue Future. Plus, if you join our Blue Florida Fund, then I will be your BFF.

Now there’s an offer that you can’t refuse.


Rep. Alan Grayson

P.S. If you join our Blue Florida Fund, then on November 2, 2016, Hillary probably won’t send you a thank-you note. But she ought to. And I will.


Rep. Alan Grayson

In 2014, in 2016, and Forever. Here’s How..

How many Bolivians are dying because foodies love quinoa?

By Virginia Heffernan

A long time ago, “Bolivian marching powder” meant cocaine.

a repost

Now it could mean quinoa. Quinoa is a massive crop that for millennia has honed its extraterrestrial nutritional powers in the dizzying altitudes of the Andes. In recent years, this curious substance—like coke before it—has also become a major export for Peru and Bolivia.

But, as the Guardian recently reported, the foreign market for the good seed has driven the street price of quinoa up so high that most Bolivians and Peruvians can no longer afford their homegrown staple. For the people who used to live on it, protein-dense quinoa is now more expensive than chicken. That’s rich.

Denied their indigenous marching grain (technically a “pseudocereal”), Bolivian and Peruvian peasants are turning to junk food—the same sugary bunk that sickens and malnourishes millions of us in the U.S. And thus we net a nifty parable of globalism, progress and nutrition, with one clear upshot: Foodism, like every other ideology, is dangerous—and carries unintended consequences.

I would tell you what quinoa is, in hair-splitting pseudo-agricultural detail, but then I’d sound like just one of them. The foodies. Those people who are always saying—oh, I can’t even mock them. Suffice it to say I’d rather hear an Oxycontin addict talk about how he puts the edge back on with Adderall than I would a foodie talk about how he balances the acids in mustard greens with cake flour. At least the Oxy folks don’t turn their boring and expensive pleasure into sanctimony. In my experience, they’re even somewhat private and sheepish about it.

But let’s just say quinoa is a thing that foodies adore, that exists by the gunnysackful in the stockrooms of liberal-elite restaurants and liberal-elite kitchens in Boston, San Francisco, Manhattan, Portland, Chicago, Austin and Seattle.

Quinoa is stylish and, furthermore, believed by the Timothy Learys of the foodists to goose or balance “amino-acid levels,” without which many noble vegans and carniphobes would perish (or have to resort to yucky supplements). To be a good sport, since I live in foodie Brooklyn myself, I have tried quinoa with beets and cheese and fish, in muffins, beside eggs—wherever regular American carbs like potatoes used to be served.

The people of the Andes like to eat quinoa this way too, it turns out. Quinoa is known to Andean folks as the “lost crop of the Incas,” as well as a “miracle grain” for its near-holy amino-acid balance. But then, suddenly, rich people in other countries, including the United States, some of whom have shifted their taste from white powder to this other intoxicant measured in grams, wanted to sample the latest Bolivian miracle. So we enriched many farmers by buying up the quinoa—and further impoverished the Andeans, by dooming them to malnutrition.

What a story! Quinoa prices, according to the Bolivian department of agriculture, have almost tripled in five years, during which time Bolivia’s own quinoa consumption has dropped by a third. In areas where quinoa is grown, chronic malnutrition in children marches upward.

Of course, there’s a style issue in Bolivia, too. Kids in Park Slope, Brooklyn or Marin County, Calif., raised in the cult of Alice Waters and Whole Foods, may like quinoa, but regular kids in countries that aren’t hyper-trophically developed don’t typically ask for it. Sensibly, they ask for what’s sugary and on circus-colored billboards. Explains Víctor Hugo Vásquez, vice minister of rural development and agriculture in Bolivia, “If you give them boiled water, sugar and quinoa flour mixed into a drink, they prefer Coca-Cola.”

At the same time, ballooning quinoa prices also raise questions that could, if answered, change the story from ironic and sad to more complex still.

As Marc F. Bellemare, an assistant professor at Duke University, points out in his blog, the tragic take on the quinoa boom assumes that Bolivian households are mostly quinoa consumers penalized by a bull market and not quinoa farmers and sellers who stand to gain from it. In fact, agricultural economists haven’t sorted this out yet. Journalists who make the opposite, and equally unfounded, assumption—that Bolivians are mostly quinoa farmers (and not children starving for want of quinoa)—sound like delirious free-market boosters. In The Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders has raved that for Bolivians the quinoa craze is “the greatest thing that has happened to them. … Quinoa had all but died out as a staple in Bolivia, replaced by beans and potatoes, until farmers began planting it in the 1980s with exports to North America in mind.”

The important thing, then, is to follow the food without getting ideological, not only about wholesome classy quinoa, but also about delicious tawdry Coca-Cola, that bugbear of foodies who are perpetually disgusted to discover that the feeble-minded among us still like a little sugar with our water. Eat what you want, but stop preaching about it, and it surely can’t hurt to leave some Andean quinoa for the people of the Andes.

To help children in Bolivia, where more than half the kids 6 months to 5 years old suffer from malnutrition, and 54 in a thousand die in childhood, consider supporting MAP’s Community School for Life.

politics, pop culture, petitions & pollution


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