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The Amistad Travels To Cuba As A Reminder Of Slavery


 

Post by Jerry Smith in National

a repost from 2010 – Black History Month

WASHINGTON – Days from now, a stately black schooner will sail through a narrow channel into Havana’s protected harbor, its two masts bearing the rarest of sights — the U.S. Stars and Stripes, with the Cuban flag fluttering nearby.

The ship is the Amistad, a U.S.-flagged vessel headed for largely forbidden Cuban waters as a symbol of both a dark 19th century past and modern public diplomacy.

The Amistad is the 10-year-old official tall ship of the state of Connecticut and a replica of the Cuban coastal trader that sailed from Havana in 1839 with a cargo of African captives, only to become an emblem of the abolitionist movement.

Its 10-day, two-city tour of Cuba provides a counterpoint to new and lingering tensions between Washington and Havana and stands out as a high-profile exception to the 47-year-old U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island.

For the Amistad, it also represents a final link as it retraces the old Atlantic slave trade triangle, making port calls that are not only reminders of the stain of slavery but also celebrations of the shared cultural legacies of an otherwise sorry past.

When it drops anchor in Havana’s harbor on March 25, the Amistad will not only observe its 10th anniversary, it will commemorate the day in 1807 when the British Parliament first outlawed the slave trade.

The powerful image of a vessel displaying home and host flags docking in Cuba is not lost on Gregory Belanger, the CEO and president of Amistad America Inc., the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the ship.

“We’re completely aware of all of the issues currently surrounding the U.S. and Cuba,” he said. “But we approach this from the point of view that we have this unique history that both societies are connected by. It gives us an opportunity to transcend contemporary issues.”

It’s not lost on Rep. William Delahunt, either. The Massachusetts Democrat has long worked to ease U.S.-Cuba relations and he reached out to the State Department to make officials aware of the Amistad’s proposal.

U.S.-flagged ships have docked in Havana before, but none as prominently as the Amistad. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has periodically approved Cuba stops for semester-at-sea educational programs for American students, and the Commerce Department has authorized U.S. shiploads of exports under agriculture and medical exemptions provided in the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000.

“Obviously we have serious differences, disagreements,” Delahunt said. “But in this particular case the two governments, while not working together, clearly were aware of the profound significance of this particular commemoration.”

The original Amistad’s story, the subject of a 1997 Steven Spielberg movie, began after it set sail from Havana in 1839. Its African captives rebelled, taking over the ship and sending it on a zigzag course up the U.S. coast until it was finally seized off the coast of Long Island. The captured Africans became an international cause for abolitionists; their fate was finally decided in 1841 when John Quincy Adams argued their case before the Supreme Court, which granted them their freedom.

Miguel Barnet, a leading Cuban ethnographer and writer who has studied the African diaspora, said it is only appropriate that the new Amistad would call on the place of the original ship’s birth. Indeed, he said in an interview from Cuba on Wednesday, it is the horror of the slave trade that left behind a rich common bond — not just between the United States and Cuba, but with the rest of the Caribbean — that is rooted in Africa.

“That’s why this is an homage to these men and women who left something precious for our culture,” he said.

The new Amistad has crossed the Atlantic and wended its way through the Caribbean since 2007. It has worked with the United Nations and UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. Using high technology hidden in its wooden frame and rigging, the ship’s crew of sailors and students has simulcasted to schools and even to the U.N. General Assembly.

It will do so again — with Cuban students — from Havana.

Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season


While contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we’re most vulnerable to them. This is due in large part to people spending more time indoors with others when the weather gets cold.

Most respiratory bugs come and go within a few days, with no lasting effects. However, some cause serious health problems. People who use tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to respiratory illnesses and more severe complications than nonsmokers.

Colds usually cause stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. Other symptoms include coughing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes. There is no vaccine against colds, which come on gradually and often spread through contact with infected mucus.

Flu comes on suddenly and lasts longer than colds. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches, fatigue, and general misery. Like colds, flu can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Young children may also experience nausea and vomiting with the flu. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it.

Flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and can last as late as May, and generally peaks between December and February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu-related complications each year, including 20,000 children younger than age 5.
  • Between 1976 and 2006, the estimated number of flu-related deaths every year ranged from about 3,000 to about 49,000.
  • In the 2013 – 2014 season, there were in the U.S. 35.4 million influenza-associated illnesses, 14.6 medically attended flu illnesses, and 314,000 flu hospitalizations.

 

  • Prevention Tips

Get vaccinated against flu.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination, available as a shot or a nasal spray, can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

It’s ideal to be vaccinated by October, although vaccination into January and beyond can still offer protection. Annual vaccination is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may need to be updated, and because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. These people include:

  • young children under 5 years, but especially those younger than 2.
  • pregnant women
  • people with certain chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease)
  • people age 65 years and older

Vaccination also is especially important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Since babies under 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine, their mother should get a flu shot during her pregnancy to protect them throughout pregnancy and up to 6 months after birth. Additionally, all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts should be vaccinated as well.

Wash your hands often. Teach children to do the same. Both colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces, including the hands. FDA says that while soap and water are best for hand hygiene, alcohol-based hand rubs may also be used. However, dirt or blood on hands can render the hand rubs unable to kill bacteria.

Try to limit exposure to infected people. Keep infants away from crowds for the first few months of life.

Practice healthy habits.

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Do your best to keep stress in check.

 

Already Sick?

Usually, colds have to run their course. Gargling with salt water may relieve a sore throat. And a cool-mist humidifier may help relieve stuffy noses.

Here are other steps to consider:

  • Call your health care professional. Start the treatment early.
  • Limit your exposure to other people. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay hydrated and rested. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated products which may dehydrate you.
  • Talk to your health care professional to find out what will work best for you.

In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are FDA-approved prescription medications for treating flu. Cold and flu complications may include bacterial infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia) that could require antibiotics.

Taking OTC Products

Read medicine labels carefully and follow the directions. People with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, should check with a health care professional or pharmacist before taking a new cough and cold medicine.

Choose OTC medicines appropriate for your symptoms. To unclog a stuffy nose, use nasal decongestants. Cough suppressants quiet coughs; expectorants loosen mucus; antihistamines help stop a runny nose and sneezing; and pain relievers can ease fever, headaches, and minor aches.

Check the medicine’s side effects. Medications can cause drowsiness and interact with food, alcohol, dietary supplements, and each other. It’s best to tell your health care professional and pharmacist about every medical product and supplement you are taking.

Check with a health care professional before giving medicine to children.

See a health care professional if you aren’t getting any better. With children, be alert for high fevers and for abnormal behavior such as unusual drowsiness, refusal to eat, crying a lot, holding the ears or stomach, and wheezing.

Signs of trouble for all people can include

  • a cough that disrupts sleep
  • a fever that won’t respond to treatment
  • increased shortness of breath
  • face pain caused by a sinus infection
  • high fever, chest pain, or a difference in the mucus you’re producing, after feeling better for a short time.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

 

At least 4,000 were lynched – a repost … reminder


A group documenting lynchings is trying to erect markers at the sites, but expects local opposition.

Nearly 4,000 African Americans were victims of “racial terror lynchings” in the South between 1877 and 1950, according to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

The report, released today, is the result of some five years of research by the organization. It has found that racial terror lynching was much more prevalent than previously reported. The researchers documented several hundred more lynchings than had been identified in the past. They did so by reviewing local newspapers, historical archives and court records. They also conducted interviews with local historians, and the families and descendants of the victims.

In all, EJI documented 3,959 lynchings of black people in twelve Southern states, which is at least 700 more lynchings in these states than previously reported. More than half of the lynching victims were killed under accusation of committing murder or rape against white victims. The EJI says that racial hostility fed suspicion that the perpetrators of the crimes were black and the accusations were seldom scrutinized. “Of the hundreds of black people lynched under accusation of rape and murder, nearly all were killed without being legally convicted,” says the report.

Some states and regions were particularly terrifying for African Americans, with dramatically higher rates of lynchings compared to the rest of the South. These areas included Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. Counties that were particularly terrifying were Hernando, Taylor, Lafayette, and Citrus counties in Florida; Early and Oconee counties in Georgia; Fulton County, Kentucky; and Moore County, Tennessee, which had the highest rates of lynchings. Phillips County, Arkansas, and Lafourche and Tensas parishes in Louisiana were regions of mass killings of African Americans that make them historically notorious. Georgia and Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings of all the Southern states.

In conversations with survivors of those that had been lynched, EJI found that lynching played an integral role in the migration of millions of African Americans away from Southern states.

EJI also found that there was an astonishing lack of effort to acknowledge, discuss or address lynching in Southern states and communities. According to the report, many of these communities tried to veil this violent past by erecting monuments memorializing the Confederacy and the Civil War instead, while hiding the violence and terror used against African Americans.

The report says that there are currently few memorials that address the legacy of lynching, and that most communities do not actively  recognize how their race relations were shaped by terror lynching.

Bryan Stevenson of EJI told the New York Times that his group wants to force people to reckon with the country’s violent and racist past by erecting the memorials. He said the EJI hopes to select some of the lynching sites and erect markers there. This will involve a significant amount of fundraising by the non-profit group. EJI is also bracing for controversies and objections as it tries to erect these markers.

“Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” said Stevenson.

The report by EJI is part of a larger project that also involves the recognition of slave markets in the South and the erection of markers on those sites, particularly in Montgomery, AL. Stevenson said that  regional and state governments have not been receptive to such markers although there are plenty of Civil War memorials in Montgomery, as well as some Civil Rights movement markers.

a Letter From Virginia ~In Memory~ (Free Before Emancipation) ~~ July/August edition


Letter From Virginia
Excavations are providing a new look at some of the Civil War’s earliest fugitive slaves—considered war goods or contraband—and their first taste of liberty

 click on the graphic below to get the complete story, it’s six pages of American History

(Library of Congress)

Following an 1861 decision by a Union general, escaped slaves were declared contraband, or illegal war goods, and freed. Thousands of fugitive slaves, including this group in Pamunkey Run, Virginia, provided the Union army with labor and established independent communities.


Annie Leonard, Greenpeace and bits of plastic in our oceans


Bits of plastic called microbeads are polluting our oceans.

Take Action

Take action today to ban the use of microbeads in the US.

Take Action

greenpeaceEvery time you brush your teeth, you might be unknowingly adding tiny bits of plastic to our oceans.

These bits of plastic are called microbeads and you can find them in everything from face soaps to body washes to toothpastes. And while they’re almost invisible to the naked eye, they’re causing serious problems for our waterways and oceans (and us!).

Most wastewater treatment can’t filter out the tiny microbeads — meaning they journey from your bathroom drains into waterways. Once there, they end up in the bellies of fish or other marine life and are passed along the food chain.

National legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. It’s part of an ever-growing movement that needs your voice.

Tell your federal Representative and Senators today to support the Microbead Free Waters Act and to solve the problem of these polluting plastics.

This doesn’t end in the water. Today’s plastic face wash is in tomorrow’s sushi.

Many fish species that humans eat are known to consume these microbeads at an alarming rate, and the toxins absorbed in those plastics transfer to the fish tissue.

The toxins absorbed by plastic microbeads include pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. And all that ends up in the oceans — and on our plates. We have to act.

A single microbead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it! Take action today to ban plastic microbeads from everyday personal care products.

The Story of Stuff Project, an organization I founded, is leading a coalition of over 100 groups to get these tiny plastic beads out of everyday products. Greenpeace is proud to be a part of this coalition.

This is a perfect example of the underlying problem with our current economic system and the culture it helps create. Natural alternatives to microbeads exist. But plastic microbeads are smoother than natural alternatives like apricot shells, jojoba beans and pumice.

Smoother is better for the companies making these products because smoother means these cleansers will be less effective at exfoliating… which means you can use them everyday… which means you buy more of the product! 

Sadly, it also means poisoned oceans and a poisoned food supply. Plastic pollution in our waterways has become one of the great perils facing our environment. We can do something about it.

Take a minute right now and tell your elected federal representatives to support the Microbead Free Waters Act.

Thanks for all you do.

Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
P.S. Tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are polluting our waterways and oceans. Tell your elected federal representatives to ban microbeads by supporting the Microbead Free Waters Act today!