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Archive for May 22nd, 2012

U.S. Senator Kirk applauds Senate passage of Iran Sanctions Bill

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a leading co-author of Iran sanctions legislation, today released the following statement applauding Senate passage of the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012.
 
“Today the U.S. Senate put Iranian leaders on notice that they must halt all uranium enrichment activities or face another round of economic sanctions from the United States,” Senator Kirk said.  “I thank Leader McConnell and Senator Menendez for their support in moving this important legislation forward, and I appreciate Leader Reid and Chairman Johnson’s commitment to negotiate even tougher sanctions in conference.”
 

Maynard Media Critique: Media Coverage of Reproductive Rights should include women of color

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

By Nadra Kareem Nittle

 

OAKLAND – Social wedge issues such as abortion, birth control and sex education in public schools have taken center stage and sometimes dominated the political debate this year, but progressive experts on reproductive rights are concerned that women of color are rarely represented in the mainstream media’s coverage.

If elected president, presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, a move that the state of Texas is attempting. Moreover, Tennessee has passed legislation to severely limit what educators can teach in sex education classes, and states such as Arizona, Mississippi and Virginia have passed legislation that significantly restricts abortion access.

Conservative attacks on reproductive rights repeatedly make headlines. But women of color and low-income women who disproportionately depend on the services of Planned Parenthood and face challenges accessing reproductive care have not figured prominently in mainstream news coverage of the reproductive rights debate.

Experts on the topic say that because underprivileged women have the most to lose as lawmakers curb such rights, the media should focus on them in the discussion.

“Women who are poor and also women of color have disproportionately high rates of unwanted pregnancy,” says Heather Boonstra, a senior public policy associate of the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington, D.C., organization that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“Some of that has to do with the basics in terms of obtaining health care and the kinds of social conditions in the women’s lives that make it hard for them to use contraception and use it consistently,” she says. “Poorer women – their lives have a lot of disruptions. Using and obtaining contraception, let alone affording it and getting it on a routine basis is harder.”

According to the institute, black women are three times as likely as white women to have an unplanned pregnancy, and Hispanic women are two times as likely. Among poor women, Hispanics have the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy. In addition, financial pressures related to the sluggish economy are likely leading more poor women to terminate pregnancies. The institute found that the number of abortion recipients who were poor jumped from 27 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2008, the first full year of the economic downturn.

Media outlets tend to ignore these findings and the financial pressures driving them, and simply report on abortion rates and laws without factoring in race and class. Including more women of color and their advocates in mainstream media stories would produce more comprehensive articles.

For instance, Boonstra says a primary reason that poor women have high rates of unintended pregnancies is because they lack access to long-acting forms of contraception, a privilege afforded women with higher incomes and private insurance.

Dependence exclusively on birth control methods that must be used daily or for every sexual encounter, such as pills and condoms, leads to a higher unplanned pregnancy rate among disadvantaged women. Yet pundits and reporters typically don’t mention the impact that current legislation to curb access to birth control, abortion and sex education will have on underprivileged women.

“I think that more African-American women need a turn at the mic to talk about how these issues are impacting the community,” says Janette Robinson-Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness, a Los Angeles organization that advocates for health needs of black women. “Major media outlets have a tendency not to have African-American women in anchor or decision-making positions.”

In 2010, the media extensively covered a suggestion by conservative groups, such as the Issues4Life Foundation, that abortion providers were influencing black women to terminate their pregnancies. In major cities, right-wing groups have erected billboards on which they contend that the high number of abortions black women have is tantamount to genocide.

Robinson-Flint says she was dismayed that the media focused on the controversial billboards without delving deeply into factors that lead black women to have abortions at five times the rate that white women do.

“They didn’t talk about the social justice issues,” she says of the flawed reporting. “They didn’t talk about poverty, unemployment, infant mortality, maternal mortality, any of the contributing factors.” She adds that in Los Angeles, for example, hospital closures have resulted in too few medical providers to meet the black community’s needs, contributing to lack of family planning.

Some states have no providers who perform abortions, and legislation pending in Mississippi would result in closure of the sole facility there. Such laws pose the greatest disadvantage to poor, underprivileged women, according to Boonstra, because they already struggle to cover the basic cost of an abortion. Fifty-seven percent of women pay for the procedure out of pocket, the Guttmacher Institute reports.

The institute’s overview of state abortion laws as of May 1 is available at www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf.

Removing local abortion providers means that poor women also must pay for travel to a state that provides abortions and likely miss work or pay for child care if they are among the 61 percent of women who have abortions and are mothers. These costs may increase if women seek abortions in states that require them to endure a waiting period before terminating their pregnancies. Women in this predicament will likely have to miss more days of work and pay for extended stays in hotels, Boonstra says.

The abortion debate isn’t the only sexual health issue making headlines. Legislation to limit the type of sexual education taught in schools has also received major mainstream media coverage. Often omitted from this coverage is that youths of color deprived of sexual education classes may be especially vulnerable.

Black teens, for example, are twice as likely as whites or Latinos to develop a sexually transmitted infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008. That figure was consistent even when factoring in income levels and numbers of sexual partners, an indication that these teens are not taught how to practice safer sex.

After a decline in teen pregnancy from 1990 to 2005, the rates rose in 2006 for all racial groups, particularly minorities. The Hispanic teen pregnancy rate rose by 126.6 percent that year, followed by blacks at 126.3 percent and whites at 44 percent.

“There’s plenty of research that shows abstinence-oriented sex education leads to more teen pregnancy and not less,” says Dominique DiPrima, host of Front Page, a Los Angeles radio show. DiPrima focuses largely on issues of concern to communities of color and women. She recently launched the Black Media Alliance, a coalition of African-Americans in media and broadcasting, to encourage the mainstream media to represent people of color more often as reporters, sources and decision makers.

“There needs to be more [discussion] in the media where women are talking with women and not in a defensive posture,” DiPrima says. “A lot of times, you see panels where there are no women. Not to say men should be excluded, but there [need] to be more places where women can have frank dialogue.”

DiPrima says the media rely too often on professional pundits rather than people of color, who are most likely to be affected.

The Black Media Alliance has had discussions with media outlets such as Clear Channel about racism and misogyny on air. DiPrima says she hopes that communities of color learn more about attacks on reproductive rights before pending legislation becomes law and it’s too late to act.

“I believe people are waking up and realizing that Republicans have gone so Neanderthal with their attacks on women,” she says. “They’re uniting women. I think it’s going to wake people up, and the end result may just be the opposite of what they’re planning for the country.”

Nadra Kareem Nittle writes media critiques for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Her stories and other media critiques are available at www.mije.org/mmcsi and can be republished free of charge.

For more information, please contact Elisabeth Pinio at epinio@mije.org or 510-891-9202.

State Senator Collins seeks justice for youngest trafficking victims

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) lauded the unanimous passage of legislation designed to make it easier for child victims of sex-trafficking to obtain justice. House Bill 5278, approved by the Illinois Senate, extends the statute of limitations for sex-trafficking offenses involving child victims to one year after the victim turns 18. It will go to the House for a concurrence vote before awaiting the governor’s signature.

“It is extremely difficult for a child who has been a victim of sex-trafficking to press charges against the exploiter when as a minor she is still in a vulnerable and dependent position, often unable to live on her own,” said Collins, the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate. “Giving victims an extra year past the age of majority can make the difference between living in fear and seeing justice done.”

Collins’ legislation also specifies that when perpetrators – by deceiving their victims – cause them to fear they will suffer serious harm if they attempt to escape, they are forcing them into involuntary servitude, even if they do not physically restrain or injure them. LeAnn Majors, a survivor of human trafficking, testified in a Senate committee that expanding the definition of involuntary servitude is essential to rescuing human trafficking victims, especially children, from their captors.

“I was told [by police], ‘Come back when you have bruises,’” Majors said. “Victims don’t always have bruises, but inside they have fear. [This protection] wasn’t there for me, but I want it to be there for others.”

“We have made significant progress in the legislative arena in recent years when it comes to cracking down on the sex trafficking of children and this legislation is another step forward that will help police and prosecutors obtain justice for the youngest victims of this horrific crime,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said. “We are grateful to Senator Collins for her hard work on this legislation and her leadership on this important issue.” 

The current statute of limitations for sex-trafficking – whether involving a child or an adult – is three years from the time of the last offense against the victim. Other sex crimes involving children allow for an extra year after the victim turns 18 if three years have already passed. For instance, if a victim was 12 when the trafficking offense occurred, charges could be filed against the perpetrator until the victim’s 19th birthday. However, charges could be filed against the exploiter of a 17-year-old at any time until the victim turns 20, because the statute of limitations cannot be less than three years.

State Senator Hunter urges House to take action on bill helping minority businesses in Illinois

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D – Chicago) is calling on the House of Representatives today to pass a measure that will assist minority and female-owned disadvantaged small businesses in receiving contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Hunter’s pressure for passage of the measure comes in the wake of Metra’s announcement to delay awarding a contract to an Elgin-based contractor to build the Englewood Flyover rail bridge. Earlier this month, Metra officials said they would postpone awarding the contract to their June 15 meeting after Congressmen Danny K. Davis, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Bobby Rush disputed the original winning contract.

“The Englewood community has one of the highest unemployment and crime rates not just in Illinois, but in the country. It has the unfortunate history of being passed over when it comes to government assistance and bidding contracts,” Hunter said. “Metra’s original decision to seek contractors outside of the community in which this project is planned is exactly the reason why this measure needs to become law.  With a little under two weeks left of session this year, the House needs to take action on this legislation immediately.”

Senate Bill 2491 establishes the Working Capital Loan Repayment Fund which will aid struggling Illinois’ minority and female owned construction businesses in winning procurement contracts with IDOT.  The Fund will be able to provide the companies with loans up to $3 million a year over the next 10 years starting to help them with their current liabilities and expenses associated with these projects.

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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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