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Archive for May 12th, 2011

Kirk Report: Out of control Somali Piracy helping to fund largest Terror Training Camps on Earth

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 1 COMMENT

Dozens of Ships/Hundreds of Hostages Currently Held by Somali Pirates

Kirk: Recall Jefferson’s Policies with Authority to Naval Commanders  to Attack/Sink Pirates

 

$12 Billion Cost to Western Economy and Security

 

Washington, DC – United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) recently completed a mission to Somalia and eastern Africa to investigate the rise of piracy involving super tankers bound for the US.  As the first U.S. Senator to visit Somalia since 1991, he also went into Somali and Kenyan prisons holding pirates, went aboard Chinese and US warships patrolling pirate zones and talked to officials in Bahrain, Djibouti and Kenya on ways to stop it. 

With the successful conclusion to the mission, Kirk issued a detailed report, releasing first classified images of ships under pirate control as well as proposed changes in American policy that would end the growing national security threat posed by pirates and the terrorist organizations they fund.  The findings and policy recommendations are included in a report released today. 

“With pirates holding two dozen major ships and hundreds of hostages, their multi-million dollar ransoms have become a major source of funding for Somali Al Qaeda affiliates running the largest terror training camps on earth,” said Kirk.

“Unless our policy becomes more aggressive to attack pirates, we will see a huge increase in terrorism from Al Qaeda affiliates that feed off pirate ransoms.” According to Kenyan government estimates, 30% of ransoms paid to pirates — over $50 million — are funneled to the largest terror training camps in the world run by Somalia’s East African Al Qaeda/Al Shabaab organization.  

Pirate attacks have increased by 300% over the last three years and currently, there are over 20 merchant ships under pirate control with over 480 western and allied sailors held hostage.  In April 2011, the largest ransom ever paid, $11 million, was given to pirates who captured the oil tanker, Irene.  The total cost of piracy, including ransoms, insurance, naval forces, imprisonment and diversions now totals up to $12 billion annually.

Following his mission to Somalia, Senator Kirk outlined several policy proposals he will advance to assist American and Allied navies, as well as local governments, to end piracy: 

• Ban ransom payments that support the expansion of pirate operations and fund East African Al Qaeda/Al Shabaab terror,

• Expand Rules of Engagement giving local naval commanders authority to attack and disable pirate “motherships,” and tactical authority to arrest pirates and rescue crews,

• Blockade the three primary pirate ports and shorelines, including the El Danaan anchorage, where 12 western tankers/merchant ships with 290 hostages are held,

• Reward frontline Somali communities with economic assistance if they confront or convert Al Shabaab or pirate-controlled areas,

• Expand prisons in Puntland (Somalia) and Kenya to incarcerate hundreds of new pirates operating across the Indian ocean, and

• Provide military assistance to Somali forces who regain control of Al Shabaab or pirate-controlled areas.

To read Senator Kirk’s full report on his trip to Africa, click here. To see a video summary of Senator Kirk’s trip, click here. 

Recent Media Coverage: 

Associated Press – US Senator makes rare visit to Somalia 

Chicago Sun-Times: Kirk: U.S. should say no to pirate ransoms    

International News Network (Somalia) – US Senators on surprise visit to Somalia 

NASA Administrator and Former Astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. to deliver Monmouth University Commencement Address on May 18

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

  


The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr.

 

West Long Branch, NJ (BlackNews.com) — NASA Administrator, the Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr., will address Monmouth University graduates at the University’s 78th commencement ceremony and receive an honorary degree on Wednesday, May 18 at 1:30 pm at PNC Bank Arts Center. Bolden is a former astronaut and retired U.S. Marine Corps major general. Alfred J. Schiavetti, Jr., president of Navesink Associates, will also receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.

Nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, retired Marine Corps Major General Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties as the 12th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009. He is the first African-American to head the agency on a permanent basis.

Bolden’s confirmation marks the beginning of his second stint with the nation’s space agency. His thirty-four-year career with the Marine Corps included fourteen years as a member of NASA‘s Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.

Bolden retired from the Marine Corps in 2003. His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In May 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. He received a BS in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and earned an MS in systems management from University of California in 1977.

Alfred J. Schiavetti, Jr. is president of Navesink Associates, a business consulting firm which he formed in 1997. Mr. Schiavetti was elected to the Monmouth University Board of Trustees in 1997. He has served with notable distinction as treasurer from 1998 to 2004, as vice chair from 2004 to 2007 and as chair of the Board from 2007 to 2010, during which time the University has moved to new levels of financial strength and academic excellence. In addition, he was chair of the 2003 Presidential Search Committee. He is dedicated to community service and has served as chair of the board at Riverview Medical Center Foundation and the Rumson Country Day School. He graduated from Williams College in 1961 and from New York University with an MBA in 1969. He and his wife Barbara reside in Fair Haven, NJ.

Obama Says ¡Sí, Se Puede! to Immigration Reform

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(From New America Media)

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
 

 

President Obama’s visit to El Paso to renew call for passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill couldn’t have come too soon. Five months into his White House tenure, Obama’s approval ratings among Latinos topped an all-time high of more than 80 percent. Two years later, it had free fallen to slightly more than 50 percent. The tumble in part is blamed on the souring economy and the double-digit unemployment rate among Latinos.

But in bigger part it is due to the feeling among Latino leaders and organizations that Obama has done little to keep his campaign promise to push hard for comprehensive immigration reform. Obama did lash the GOP for torpedoing comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Congress on the two occasions when it appeared that the bill had a chance to pass. But it’s also true that the White House has not put its full political muscle behind pushing a reform package in Congress.

Obama isn’t totally to blame for this. The crushing problems and bruising fights over deficit reduction, spending, health care reform, coupled with high soaring gas prices and the jobless crisis have been endless and time consuming. Every step of the way he’s had to battle an obstructionist, intransigent and petty GOP determined to make him pay a steep political price for every inch of legislative ground he gains.

Polls also consistently show that a majority of Americans still perceive immigration reform as a license to open the borders to a new flood of undocumented workers, and that’s tantamount to condoning illegality. Worse, the fight for immigration reform now comes at a time when millions of Americans are in the unemployment lines. To pick a fight over immigration, risks stirring up bitter, divisive, and xenophobic hysteria from anti-immigration groups. This is a political risk that Obama seemingly cannot afford.

But it’s a risk that Obama will have to take. Republicans at this juncture appear fragmented and even clownish with their birther nuttiness and their media grandstanding. Yet, whoever eventually emerges as the GOP presidential nominee will hammer the Democrats hard on the twin themes of their alleged gross economic and fiscal mismanagement and profligacy, and the need for strong leadership. Those themes will resonate with the GOP’s traditional base, and a large number of moderate-to-conservative independents who deserted Obama in droves the past year.

The Latino vote remains crucial to offset that. Latino voters could provide the margin of victory in the must win swing states of Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

Immigration reform is still potentially a major make or break issue for the overwhelming majority of Latinos. The GOP debacle in 2008 was in part the price they paid for playing hardball on this issue and souring millions of Latinos on the party. Then President George W. Bush was widely and unfairly blamed for making a mess of the immigration reform fight in Congress by not pushing hard enough for passage of the bill. Immigrant rights groups lambasted Republican senators for piling crippling demands for tight amnesty, citizenship and border security provisions in the bill. And leading Republican presidential contenders didn’t help matters by flatly opposing the bill as much too soft on amnesty and border enforcement.

This did much to kill whatever flickering hope there was for the bill’s passage. This undid the inroads that Bush made in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections when he scored big with Latino voters. A big part of that then was due to the perception (and reality) that Bush would push hard for immigration reform. Bush campaign officials jumped on the newly found Latino support he got and pumped millions into ads on Spanish-language networks — Univision and Telemundo — that aired in New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. The ads were geared to increase the Republican vote total among Latinos by as much as 5 percent. This was the figure that Republican strategists figured would help tip these states to Bush. They figured correctly. And GOP strategists won’t make that towering mistake again of antagonizing Latino voters by playing relentless hardball on immigration reform.

Obama’s battle for the Latino vote with the opening salvo being his renewed push for immigration reform is not to head off any major defection of Latino voters to the GOP. There’s no chance of that. The polls that show Latinos less enthusiastic about Obama also show absolutely no enthusiasm for any GOP would-be presidential candidate, let alone translate into a massive vote for GOP candidates. The real peril is that the lack of enthusiasm for Obama could translate into a diminished Latino voter turnout in November 2012. A plunge in the Latino turnout would be as disastrous to Obama and the Democrats as a Latino defection would be to the GOP.

Obama’s frontal challenge to the GOP to do something about immigration reform is a smart move. It recognizes that taking the Latino vote for granted is a prescription for political disaster.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson.

Suit Up to Win: Body, Mind & Soul

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 

Black male empowerment initiative by K&G Fashion Superstore                                            

 

Baltimore, Md. –  Six dynamic men will participate as panelists in the Suit Up to Win: Body, Mind & Soul workshop sponsored by K&G Fashion Superstore. The “Rev Up Your Income”  workshop  is on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Reginald E. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture center, 830 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore.  The workshop panelists will discuss the following topics: starting and managing a business, financial success, importance of fashion and style, and second careers.

 

 The panelists include Keion Carpenter, former Atlanta Falcon and Buffalo Bills National Football League safety.  He founded The Carpenter House, Inc., a Maryland based not-for-profit organization for disadvantaged families and is a partner in FMK (For My Kids) which helps urban children gain admission to colleges and universities.

 

Armando Seay is  founder and senior executive vice president of Ross Technologies Inc., a firm specializing in information technology and management consulting.   Prior to founding his company, he  led sales, operations, marketing and technology operations of Fortune 500 firms. Ross Technology serves the federal government and focuses on cyber defense.

 

Stacey Carver is an entrepreneur and a Maryland state certified teacher in the Baltimore City Public School System who has been recognized on “Live with Regis and Kelly” as one of America’s top teachers. His recognition resulted in his school receiving $10,000 for his school to start a library.  Ray Lucas is a Baltimore area community leader, educator, mentor and management consultant.  He is president of 100 Black Men of Maryland, Inc. Troy Johnson is president of the Association of Black Media Workers and Baltimore host of Washington, D.C. radio’s WHUR 96.3, “The Hang Suite.”  Montrell Brooks is a Rosedale, Md. store manager for K&G Fashion Superstore; the corporate office, headquartered in Atlanta is sponsoring the event.

 

Committed to male empowerment on the inside and outside, K&G stores carry a broad range of suit brands including those launched by celebrities: Dallas Cowboy superstar Michael Irvin, comedian and author Steve Harvey, record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs and celebrity designer Montee Tayion Holland.  

 

The Suit Up to Win: Body, Mind & Soul initiative was launched  in partnership with SMSi companies, two minority owned enterprises, led by Lafayette Jones  and his partner, Sandra Miller Jones and is sponsored by K&G Fashion Superstore.   Opinion leader luncheons with  church, community and political leaders; community workshops discussing positive thinking, job interview techniques and financial management, are part of the initiative. Good Grooming Days at K&G Fashion Superstore locations provide men with fashion consultant advice; those who buy suits   receive complimentary services like haircuts and manicures.  The next one will be Saturday, June 4, 8655 Pulaski Highway, Rosedale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

 

Local celebrities, leaders and role models are featured as  initiative partners with networking groups like 100 Black Men, African-American fraternities, Masonic Lodges and men’s church ministries.      Black radio stations, newspapers and local television are promoting the events.  Complimentary copies of the  “Urban Call:  Suit Up to Win: Body, Mind & Soul” publication  with K & G Rewards applications, $10 coupons,  men’s grooming samples and posters,  are being distributed to barbershops, beauty salons and churches. Selected churches receive rebates for all the K&G Fashion Superstore merchandise purchased by their congregations.  A total of 4,000 VIP gift certificates worth $25 are being distributed to church, organization, community and media leaders and their constituents.  K&G is giving away $150 gift cards for suits to men in urban communities.  K&G’s total community gifts are valued at one million dollars.

“The Bumps In The Road” – A poetic event about life and its struggles

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 


Bookcover

Oklahoma City, OK (BlackNews.com) — The Bumps In The Road, the first collection of poems released by Robert Swain Lewis, is based on real life situations and events. Many have all experienced some “bumps in the road”. Some have experienced financial setbacks, relationships that didn’t work, death of loved ones, or even betrayal by friends. Lewis’ message is that it’s not what you go through that makes you stronger, it’s the attitude in which you embrace the bumps in the road that makes you stronger.

In Part One: Reflecting Back
Robert reflects back on history by introducing “In Memory of Rosa Parks”, “When There was a Cause”, and “Where Have There Gone?”

In Part Two: The Bumps In The Road
Robert begins with the title poem, “The Bumps In The Road”, “What If”, “They Left Me For Dead”, and “I have Seen.”

In Part Three: The Streets
Robert takes readers back to his days in the streets starting with – “The Streets Are Calling Me”, “Those Days”, “The Game”, and “Papa.”

In Part Four: My Prayer
Several short prayers that helped Robert stay focus and remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Robert concludes this book of poems with “Fifteen Years Ago”, an overview of what he experienced and the length of time it took for this darkness to end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Swain Lewis was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Robert is a military veteran. Robert graduated from with a BS in Criminal Justice and a BA in Political Science. Robert completed his education by earning a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Robert has been employed for the state of Oklahoma several years. Robert has worked for the Department of Human Services and currently for the Office of Juvenile Affairs. Robert visits Cincinnati, Ohio twice a year.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: The Bumps In The Road
Author: Robert Swain Lewis
ISBN: 978-1-4251-1275-2
Genre: Poems
Length: 106 pages
Published: January 19, 2011
This book is available online through Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and Trafford.com and coming soon to book stores across the county.

Columbia College Chicago selects new Dance Center Chair

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Onye Ozuzu to Lead Department Beginning in June

 

Chicago, IL – The Dance Department at Columbia College Chicago has named Onye Ozuzu as its new chair, beginning June 29.

A dance administrator, performing artist, choreographer, educator, and researcher, Ozuzu received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with a minor in Economics and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography at Florida State University.  She has most recently been serving as Associate Chair, Director of Dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Her work there is noted for its balance of visionary and practical progress in the arenas of curricular, artistic, and community development of diversity, collaboration, and interdisciplinary performance arts. 

“We’re thrilled Onye is joining us and so excited for the new technique and choreography ideas she will bring to Columbia,” said Eliza Nichols, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago. “The Dance Center takes pride in our faculty, comprised of working artists, and Onye will be an amazing addition to this group.

The Dance Center aims to provide students with a superior contemporary dance education in the context of higher learning. Established in 1969 to house the Dance Department, The Dance Center has grown into a nationally respected academic program. Challenging technique courses across a range of styles, combined with the study of improvisation, composition, dance history and theory, music, and technical theater, provide students with learning and practice to prepare them for professional and graduate endeavors. The Dance Center is also Chicago’s leading presenter of contemporary dance. Since 1974, its public programming arm has presented more than 255 professional contemporary dance companies of national, international and regional significance to campus and Chicago audiences.   

Currently, Ozuzu teaches African-based contemporary dance technique, Composition, World Dance and Culture, Improvisation, Creative Dance for Children, and a graduate seminar titled The African in American, Perspectives and Implications: A Dancer’s View.  Onye has been actively making and performing work since 1997 and has appeared nationally and internationally at The Joyce Soho (Manhattan, NY), Kaay Fecc Festival De Toutes les Danses (Dakar, Senegal), La Festival del Caribe (Santiago, Cuba), Lisner Auditorium (Washington DC), McKenna Museum of African American Art (New Orleans), and more.  She was a 2010 recipient of the Innovative Seed Grant, University of Colorado’s most prestigious research grant, for her ethnographic research project ADADIA African Drum and Dance in America: the Oral History Archive.

“The combination of world-renowned performers, innovative academic programs, and an acute sensitivity for emerging collaborative, interdisciplinary, and culturally relevant values, make The Dance Center an unmatched environment for student development,” said Ozuzu. “As chair, I’ll continue to ensure The Dance Center is at the leading edge of public performances, curriculum, and engaged arts practices.”

Ozuzu will spend this summer at EarthDance Workshop and Retreat Center as well as teaching at Bates Dance Festival, where she continues to work as an AfroModern contemporary technique teacher and expand on Technology of the Circle, a group improvisation and interdisciplinary performance process.  Her most recent choreographic endeavor, “And They Lynched him on a Tree,” is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort that premiered in February at the ATLAS Black Box Theatre, in Boulder, Colo.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to more than 12,000 students in over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

Unhappy Mother’s Day for thousands fired due to pregnancy

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 1 COMMENT

(From New America Media)

By Viji Sundaram

 

San Francisco — Christina didn’t think that getting pregnant would cost her job. Three months into her pregnancy, in 2008, the 27-year-old Filipina told her boss at a San Francisco-based fruit and vegetable company about her condition. She asked for no special treatment, but was taken aback by his response.

“That’s not going to work,” he reportedly told her. “We’ll have to discuss this later.”

The next business day, Christina was called into a meeting and terminated from her job as a telephone operator with two weeks’ notice. She had worked for the small company for only eight weeks. Her boss told her, “We can’t afford to cover you when you go on leave.”

She recalled, “He didn’t know my due date and I never said that I needed any special leave.” At the suggestion of her husband, she filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Christina’s situation is not uncommon. A recent report by researchers at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco, found that low-wage workers face a disproportionately high rate of workplace discrimination when they become pregnant.

“We have 2,600 cases in our database,” said the report’s author, Stephanie Bornstein of the law school’s Center for WorkLife Law. The study is titled, “Poor, Pregnant and Fired: Caregiver Discrimination Against Low-Wage Workers.”

Many pregnant women don’t understand their legal protections at work, the report found. Frequently women were never told of their right to take medical and family leave, or if they did try to exercise their rights, their employers interfered.

In some cases, supervisors gave mothers-to-be assignments that were nearly impossible to accomplish, in an attempt to force them to quit.

Some supervisors were so intrusive, Bornstein said, that they told their employees to get abortions. One woman was fired for breastfeeding her premature baby during her work breaks (her partner brought the infant to the workplace).

Joan C. Williams, the WorkLife Law Center’s founder, said low-wage parents of both sexes generally have much less job flexibility than middle- and higher-income earners, male or female.

Low-income parents often can’t afford daycare, so they must tag-team with spouses or grandparents to cover childcare, sometimes working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Immigrant women are especially vulnerable to pregnancy discrimination, said Jamie Dolkas, an attorney with Equal Rights Advocates, a public interest law center in San Francisco. “Employers know they need their jobs very badly.”

To make matters worse, low-wage workers frequently have trouble finding attorneys to defend their rights and fight discrimination because the cases are too hard to prove or result in relatively small settlements.

California’s Laws More Generous

Yet federal law—including the Family Medical Leave Act and Pregnancy Discrimination Act—offers employment protection to pregnant women or new parents. Both statutes require an employer to treat a pregnant worker in the same manner as an employee who, for example, was temporarily disabled by a broken arm, a back injury, or a heart attack.

Unlike most other states, California also has laws on the books to protect workers taking pregnancy or disability leave. Under the California Family Rights Act, an employee at a company with 50 or more workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year to care for a new baby or a seriously ill child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition. To qualify, however, the employee must have worked at least 1250 hours in the previous 12 months.

The state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) goes even further, said Sharon Terman, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in San Francisco, because it applies to women who work in small companies with five or more employees. It provides up to four months of unpaid pregnancy and/or maternity leave, and there is no waiting period before a worker becomes eligible.

The FEHA also requires employers to make “reasonable accommodation” for pregnant workers—for example, frequent bathroom breaks or limits on lifting heavy objects.

“Some employers may not know about the law, and others may know about it but not educate those who supervise employees,” Bornstein said. “Employers need to educate their frontline supervisors on how to avoid caregiver discrimination.”

At age 17, Nikole, who like Christina did not want her last name used, became pregnant while working as a representative for a company that creates product displays for major retailers.

She worked at various locations, often at night, physically building the displays and lighting for the retailer.

Because the job involved some lifting, Nikole told her supervisor about her condition when she just two months pregnant, asking if she could be given other tasks. Her supervisor told her that was fine, since her job involved many other tasks.

For a few weeks things went smoothly. Then, after a medical checkup, Nikole’s doctor faxed her boss a note saying she couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds.

Soon after, Nikole was sent home and placed on unpaid leave. A few weeks later, she received an e-mail from her company stating that it couldn’t accommodate her doctor’s request because heavy lifting was an “essential function” of her job, and that she was to remain on unpaid leave for the rest of her pregnancy.

“We get a lot of calls from people like Nikole,” Dolkas said, who tried unsuccessfully to intervene on her behalf with the company before filing a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing “Hers is a horrible situation to be in —single mom, no income and very young.” The case is pending.

As for Christina, she was luckier, winning an undisclosed settlement from her former employer, thanks to Terman’s help. After three years of searching, she landed a job last month with a company in Hayward, Calif.

She said she advises her friends to familiarize themselves with company policies early on.

“They need to know what they are entitled to, otherwise they may go through what I did,” she said.

To reach the work and family project of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, call 1-800-880-8047.

Study links anti-flame chemicals to mental harm in Latino Farm Children

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(From New America Media)

By Ngoc Nguyen


Editor’s Note: The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of a handful of centers in the nation to track environmental exposures in children from the time they are in their mother’s womb.

 

Focusing on children of farmworkers in the Salinas Valley, the group has found links between prenatal pesticide exposure and lower IQ or attention disorders. The group’s latest research centers on the health effects of flame retardants — chemicals permeating furniture, pajamas and other materials — found in Latino children.

The 15-year study began enrolling a group of pregnant women in 1999, and has followed their children, who are now 10. The researchers currently have enough funding to monitor the children to age 12, and they hope to continue through their high school years.

New America Media editor Ngoc Nguyen spoke with study coauthor Asa Bradman, associate director of the research center. Following are excerpts of this interview.

Ngoc Nguyen: Why are studies on children’s environmental health important?

Asa Bradman: Children’s unique vulnerability to toxins falls at a few different levels: One, kids tend to be exposed more than adults in the same environment because they breathe more per unit of body weight, they eat more, they drink more. They also spend a lot of time on the floor, and they get dust and stuff on their hands and they put their hands in their mouths. So they just have higher exposures.

They are also developmentally changing, and if they get exposed to something that can affect neurodevelopment at a critical period, it can shift it off track. Something that is a neurotoxin like lead can interfere with what I like to call the neural architecture. [In children] that neural architecture has been changed, whereas in an adult that exposure is much less likely to have an effect.

Tell us a little about your long-term studies tracking children’s health.

Bradman: Children are more vulnerable at many levels and that understanding led to the development of this program to fund centers for children’s environmental health research throughout the country. We’re one of the few funded for a full 15 years.

We wanted to focus on environmental exposure in children’s development, and the best approach to do that is to look at early exposures, starting with pregnancy and following the children over time.

In some ways, our project is also a model for a much larger national study, which is hopefully going to get of the ground and be a long-term study of 100,000 children prenatally through adulthood.

After a decade of studying the children in the Salinas Valley, what have you learned about how their health is affected by their surroundings?

Bradman: Our priority area was to look at pesticides, and we’re definitely finding relationships between those early exposures and later development in the children. And, we’re finding lower IQ and things like that at least at 7 years, associated with early exposures. We also know that social factors are very important. Housing quality is very poor in this population.

Pesticides are a priority research area for CERCH. What was your interest in studying flame retardant exposures in children?

Bradman: The flame retardant study came out of a particular interest in California, because there’s something here called Technical Bulletin 117, which is a rule in the [California] Bureau of Furnishings that requires very specific flame retardant standard. [It] requires certain kinds of furniture to resist 12 second of open flame before igniting, like polyurethane foam.

The furniture industry has tended to use a chemical approach to meet that standard and that’s why we have such high flame retardant exposures in California. There’s a sense out there that there are alternatives to the use of chemicals to achieve the goals of fire safety.

There are some alternatives in terms of different kinds of fabrics, and there’s also an interest in establishing a smolder standard. A lot of fires that kill people start from people smoking. There was a law [passed a few years ago] that required the cigarette industry to market cigarettes that will go out if they are not getting puffed on. That has substantially reduced the incidence of fire-related injury and death.

Certainly, from an exposure point of view, the laws in California and the way they have been met have resulted in much higher exposures to California kids and Californians in general compared to others in the country and others around the world.

Your research is the largest study of flame-retardant exposures in California children, but it’s also the first binational study of these chemicals in Latino children and Mexican children. What did you find?

Bradman: Our main study looked at participants in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) — and children in Mexico. Children in Salinas had levels in their blood that were seven times higher than the children in Mexico.

We actually went back to the regions in Mexico where the parents of the CHAMACOS children originally were from, so it would be approximately similar. So the [level of flame retardants] in Mexican-American kids were higher than the kids in Mexico by about seven and they were about three times higher than their mothers’.

We also did a study looking at levels of PBDE’s [and other] flame retardants [found] in dust. In Oakland and Salinas we found very high levels and they were generally much higher than in other studies in the U.S., and around the world.

That’s striking given that Oakland is an urban setting, and Salinas is more rural. What do these places have in common?

One, they are in California, and that’s the biggest factor. California has these flammability rules that have primarily been met by these chemicals. We [also] looked at low income neighborhoods [where] people have older furniture. It’s more likely to break down and may not be in good shape.

What about the impact of housing conditions, including poor ventilation, on flame retardant exposures?

Bradman: I do think that’s important — definitely, separate from the flame retardant issue. There’s very poor housing quality in this population in Salinas. They have poorer parks where they don’t have a safe place to play. They tend to have higher levels. And it may be that in neighborhoods where parents don’t feel it’s safe to let their kids outside or be in the park, they are spending more time inside and therefore having more exposures.

Is newer furniture safer? What can people do to minimize exposure?

Bradman: I can’t make that recommendation, because a lot of people can’t afford to go out and buy new furniture. It seems that house dust is an important pathway of exposure, so minimizing dust in your house, vacuuming with a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner. Make sure the furniture you have is well encased if it has foam in it. If it’s deteriorating, that’s when you should be concerned and replace it.

[The Green Science Policy Institute] suggests choosing furniture that has polyester filling or kinds of filling other than foam, which often don’t use a chemical flame retardant, or meet the flame standard by encasing rather than by chemicals.

So if you’re purchasing furniture, you can make some choices for nonchemical approaches. There are basic hygiene type things that would probably reduce exposure. For many people, especially low-income communities, that’s not so easy. For example, in Salinas, there are crowded households, multiple families living in a single home, so those suggestions are not that practical.

What explains the higher levels of the chemicals in Mexican-American children compared to those in Mexico?

Bradman: In Mexico, there’s just lower use of these materials. As you can see it translates into less exposure. There are probably other kids in the world that have very high exposures that haven’t been tested. For example, a lot of electronics are sent to the Philippines and China for “recycling,” and often it’s very low-income people who are doing that. So I’m sure there are other groups with high exposure. In California, you’re talking about a general population exposure, you’re not talking about a specific high-risk group.

What are the health effects of exposure to flame retardants?

Bradman: We found lower levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) among women who were pregnant and have higher levels.

There’s a pretty strong inverse relationship: Those with the highest PBDE exposures have the lowest TSH levels, which would be associated with hyperthyroidism. That’s consistent with some of the theories about PBDEs being similar and potentially affecting the endocrine, the thyroid system. We haven’t found a relationship in early childhood thyroid levels, [but we] found that women who had higher PDBE levels, took longer to get pregnant.

What about health effects in children?

Bradman: So far the study by Julie Herpsman [at Columbia University] is the only one looking at early exposures in children. They looked [at people for] up to 72 months and found significant associations for psychomotor development [and other effects]. They also found some things at older ages as well. The next step is to see if these results are confirmed in other studies.

Proposed legislation (SB 147) on flame retardants sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno failed in a Senate committee vote last week, but the debate on flame-retardant exposure continues. What’s your take on this?

Bradman: If you are going to look at the issue of chemical exposures and safety, a good analogy is to pesticides. In California, there’s a push to take reduced-risk approaches (i.e. integrative pest management).

Try not to get bogged down with what is safe and unsafe with flame retardants, there’s an analogy there. If there are different ways of achieving fire safety without using chemicals, that’s an approach that should be promoted.

Guyana Tribute Foundation and Founder file complaint in CA Superior Court against Evergreen Cemetery Assoc., Et.Al. for failure to fulfill its contract to erect Memorial Wall Tribute to victims of 1978 People’s Temple Massacre, instituted by Jim Jones

Posted by Admin On May - 12 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 

Complaint Sites Damages, Declaratory Relief, and Injunctive Relief

 

On Nov. 18, 1978 the world as we knew it was changed forever. 918 adults and 305 children – including 40 infants – lost their lives along with U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and a United Press International film crew. The place was Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana – that Paradise of Pain founded and led by James Warren “Jim” Jones, forever rendered infamous by its name “Jonestown.” Most of the child victims were laid to rest in Oakland, California’s Evergreen Cemetery.

 

Oakland, CA (BlackNews.com) — Today, families represented by the Guyana Tribute Foundation, a non-profit corporation, and its founder Jynona Norwood (Plaintiffs) announced that on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 they filed a complaint in Superior Court of CA (Alameda County) against Evergreen Cemetery Association, Evergreen Cemetery president Buck Kamphausen, and the cemetery’s executive director Ron Haulman (defendants). The plaintiffs’ sighted the following causes of action: Breach of Oral Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Intentional Misrepresentation of Fact, Negligent Misrepresentation of Fact, Fraud, Injunctive Relief Against All Defendants, and Declaratory Relief.

BACKGROUND:

After over three decades of planning on the part of activist Jynona Norwood whose family lost 27 loved ones including her mother and three-month-old cousin Charles Garry Henderson – the youngest child to perish in Jonestown – a granite memorial wall was approved to be erected at Oakland, California’s Evergreen Cemetery. The memorial was to be inscribed with the names of the victims along with those of Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his film crew and placed on the site where most of the children who died in the 1978 Jonestown Massacre were laid to rest.

Despite having been previously approved by cemetery management, the memorial wall is now being opposed by a coalition led by Jim Jones leaders – in part, because the families represented by the Guyana Tribute Foundation and Norwood refuse to allow the Peoples Temple leader’s name to be included. Evergreen Cemetery has since alleged reasons for not erecting the wall, even though a significant payment has already been made to Amador/Marin Monument Company (Evergreen Cemetery’s recommended vendor) for the wall’s construction.

Late February 2011, activist, philosopher, comedian, and author Dick Gregory accompanied Norwood to lead a press conference, prayer vigil and rally at the cemetery to protest cemetery management’s position on placement of the memorial wall. They were joined by Jonestown survivors, families, and friends of victims, and concerned citizens, community, civic, academia and ministerial leaders. Supporters endorsing this effort include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dr. Amos Brown, Bishop Bob Jackson, Rev. Eugene Lumpkin, Prof. Oba T’Shaka, Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rev. Michael Pfleger, Rev. Timothy Mc Donald, Rev. Ed Norwood, and Dr. J. Alfred Smith Jr., among others.

Along with the Guyana Tribute Foundation – who represents the families and children – Dr. Jynona Norwood vows to continue the fight to erect the memorial wall in honor of her slain family members, along with the 305 human innocent children and hundreds of adult victims who lost their lives at Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, South America.

To learn more about the Jonestown story and Dr. Norwood’s efforts, visit www.jones-town.org.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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