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Archive for September 3rd, 2012

The National Black Church Initiative has ordered security for Rev. Anthony Evans in light of the shooting at the Family Research Council

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

NBCI expresses its sincere sorrow to the victim that was shot

 

 

Washington, D.C.– The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 34,000 African American churches spanning 15 denominations and representing 15.7 million African Americans and its board of directors have ordered security for NBCI President Rev. Anthony Evans because of the NBCI stance against same-sex marriage. The shooting underscores the violence that has plagued the same-sex marriage debate.  The security measures are necessary to protect Rev. Evans and the NBCI stance for Christ and against same-sex marriage.

 

 

Ms. Debra Coley-Bagley, chair of NBCI’s Board of Directors says, “Rev. Evans is a brave Christian clergy who stands on the Word of God, and we would hate for him to be harmed by the forces of evil that support same-sex marriage.  We do, however, commend leaders of the gay community who have denounced the shooting of the staff member at the Family Research Council.”

 

About NBCI

NBCI is a coalition of 34,000 African American churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. The National Black Church Initiative’s methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science. The National Black Church Initiative’s purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work.

 

Rev. Anthony Evans 
President
National Black Church Initiative
Baby Fund Project
P.O. Box 65177
Washington, DC 20035
202-744-0184 

Emancipation Proclamation goes on display starting September 5 in Lincoln Presidential Museum

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – One hundred fifty years ago, on September 22, 1862, buoyed by the recent Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln announced his intention to issue an Emancipation Proclamation, which he did on New Year’s Day 1863.  To commemorate this momentous anniversary, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is putting its signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, plus two new artifacts, on display in the Museum’s Treasures Gallery starting Wednesday, September 5.  The items will remain on display through January 21, 2013.       

“Every year in our country, the legal and social equality of all races continues to come closer to our ideal,” said James M. Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Presidential Library and Museum.  “The great break with the past, the seminal event, the leap forward, began with Lincoln ‘s pen in September 1862.  People at the time – black or white, American or European, North or South – knew this, and their experience tells us to celebrate this document and its anniversary.” 

The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the officially printed commemorative copies that Lincoln signed in full, along with Secretary of State William Seward and Lincoln ’s private secretary, John G. Nicolay.  The President signed the original Emancipation Proclamation in private with only a few witnesses at his side – no “photo opportunity” as we like to say today.

It is fortunate that the commemorative printing was ordered, because Lincoln ’s original manuscript was lost in the Chicago Fire of 1871.  The Proclamation measures approximately 27 by 20 inches.  It was most recently displayed during a five-day special viewing around his birthday in 2012, and during the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial.

Next to it will be two artifacts never before displayed.  One, created in the 1870s, is a bronze statue of Lincoln breaking the shackles of a slave.  The sculptor was probably a Frenchman, Léon Falconnier.  It was inspired by a giant Washington , D.C. , statue by Thomas Ball for which Frederick Douglass gave the dedication speech in 1876.  In that speech Douglass declared Lincoln “the white man’s president,” though he had earlier deemed him “the black man’s president.”  Falconnier may have wanted to capitalize on Ball’s work, which, though less popular today, was commissioned and paid for by freedmen and helped solidify the image of Lincoln as the liberator of a race.

Lincoln in fact had urged freedmen to show their gratitude to God and not to him, since freedom is a human right.

Visitors will be asked to give their thoughts about the sculpture as part of an “interactive experience” about this trio of historic objects.

The other item on view for the first time will be an 1864 notice of a slave sale in Louisville , Kentucky .  This sale, held nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, shows that the Proclamation did not apply to the border states during the Civil War, thus keeping these slave-holding states in the Union .  The next year, Congress voted to change the U.S. Constitution with the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the entire United States .

For more information about programs and exhibits at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit www.presidentlincoln.org.

Attorney General Madigan, Department of Revenue announce felony indictment, 2-year results of gas tax fraud crackdown

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

Ongoing Operation recovers $70 Million in unpaid Sales Tax to the State

 

CHICAGO, IL— Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR) announced the indictment of a Crestwood gas station owner. The charges come on the heels of the second anniversary of an ongoing criminal enforcement operation that has resulted in criminal charges in 35 cases and more than $70 million in unpaid sales tax payments collected by the state.

In one of those cases, defendant Sultan Gilani, 61, of Chicago, was formally charged today in Cook County Circuit Court with four counts of sales tax fraud and four counts of mail fraud, each a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Madigan alleged that from 2009 to 2011, Gilani defrauded the state of Illinois of more than $324,000 in sales taxes for gasoline sold at his Crestwood gas station, Synergy Oil Corporation, 13830 S. Pulaski Rd.

“It is unconscionable that gas stations are illegally pocketing taxpayer dollars, particularly at a time when the state faces a fiscal crisis,” Madigan said. “We’ll continue to aggressively prosecute these cases so that dishonest business owners pay their fair share and are held accountable for breaking the law.”

In August 2010, Madigan and the Department of Revenue launched the criminal enforcement operation to recoup millions of dollars in sales tax losses after discovering hundreds of gas stations throughout Illinois underreported their revenues to avoid paying taxes to the state.

“Every successful prosecution in tax fraud cases helps assure Illinois taxpayers that we take seriously our responsibility to impose taxes fairly,” said Brian Hamer, director, Illinois Department of Revenue.  “We will continue to work hard to make sure that all businesses pay the taxes they owe and that honest businesses are not placed in a competitive disadvantage.”

The operation has also led to a new law in Illinois to crack down on these criminals. The law, which was an initiative of Madigan’s office and enacted earlier this summer, established stronger penalties and eliminated barriers to prosecute Illinois businesses and retailers that evade their sales tax bills.

The law created the new crime of Sales Tax Evasion and imposed graduated penalties based on the amount of sales taxes that were evaded: For amounts less than $500, a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison; for amounts less than $10,000, a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years; for amounts less than $100,000, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years; and for more than $100,000, a Class 1 felony punishable by six to 30 years.

Assistant Attorney General Christina Chojnacki is handling the case for Madigan’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.

                                                                 

WVON hearing on Dr. Bell results in Senator Hunter’s calling for an official hearing

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Farrakhan’s aide: ‘We put you in office…We won’t forget’

 

By Chinta Strausberg

 

After listening to more than two-hours of testimony from angry residents attending a stand-room-only town hall meeting at WVON where they denounced the closing of Dr. Carl C. Bell’s facility, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd) Thursday announced she is holding an official hearing on why the State of Illinois closed the South Side Community Mental Health Council (CMHC).

WVON’s talk show host Perri Small told of how after her father died on December 25, 2010 and how she did not want to live after his death. It was WVON’s president/CEO Melody-Spann Cooper who referred her to Dr. Bell who treated her for an entire year. Without his help and professional guidance, Small said she doesn’t know if she would have made it because she had just given up on life.

The hearing took place a day before Dr. Bell has to end his solo service outside of his closed Mental Health Council because the phones are dead. Bell said he could no longer access his patient’s records. “It is a waste of time for me to be there as I do not have the tools to help the probably 34 patient that will show up,” he told this writer. Bell said there may be even more patients of his colleagues that he doesn’t know about.

In the interim, those attending the town hall meeting voiced outraged at the State of Illinois’ treatment of Dr. Bell, an internationally acclaimed black psychiatrist who though his building has been closed by the State of Illinois continues to see patients outside his shuttered practice that he has run for the past 37-years.

Hunter, chairman of the Senate’s Human Services Committee, said the next step is to put together an official hearing on this issue so there will be an official record.

She read a letter from Dr. Bell, the president and CEO of CMHC who was not present, that stated: “the State of Illinois not giving CMHC an FY13 contract was as big a shock to CMHC as it was to our patients and the community.

“I think it was the wrong decision based on many misunderstandings, and I think it could have been handled better.” Bell said for 37-years his team had worked closely with the state and that they had served thousands of patients over the years. “It could have been handled better because when we got the word about no contract, I had about 1,000 patients scheduled up until October 12th.”

After the state closed his facility, Though he was able to contact 79 patients by phone and the State of Illinois mailed out 400 letters, concerned that his patients who were not notified would need medical care, Bell sat outside of his closed offices in a chair and waited for his patients and they did come as witnessed by this writer.

In his letter, Bell said he saw 419 patients from July 1 to the present and that there are about 99 more patients who have appointments. He said the number of patients he is seeing has decreased from five to six a day to one or two. Bell feels there are about 34 patients yet to be seen. “We did the best we could with no support despite our asking for help to transition patients that were left hanging. We are not done with this yet.”

Bell is asking for a formal investigation into the closing of his facility “and others like us so that Illinois can serve its most vulnerable citizens.”

Senator Trotter said, “This is not over. The fiscal year began on July 1st. I know Dr. Bell has been given permission to transition his patients to other institutions or at least to other providers, but as we will hear, those providers do not exist.” He asked “where’s the money” arguing if there was no money for Dr. Bell’s patients, then none exist for other providers.

“It’s not over. This state does have the authority. We, the legislature, have the authority to appropriate money. The governor has the authority to spend it,” said Trotter.  He said there is more ways to get money for the State like gaming.

How the closing of Bell’s Council was handled has angered African Americans especially Rev. Andrew Singleton, who was a part of Dr. Bell’s financial team from 1990-1995. Of allegations that Bell mismanaged money, Singleton said there was no money.

He said at one time the Council experienced a “very dry desert time” because they did not received any funds from the State until the governor signed “that fiscal year appropriations bill.” Singleton said, “We would be borrowing big time, negotiating loans” so that the staff’s checks would clear.

Saying he feels bad about the attack on Dr. Bell’s character, Singleton said, “Dr. Bell is one of the most honest people that I have ever met in my life” though he admits Bell “is one of the most eccentric men he has met. “There was no challenging his character and there was no challenging his genuine love and concern for those of us who were less fortunate.

“He could have been downtown but because of the love and concern for the people of his community, he dropped the money to serve the people,” Rev. Singleton said.

He said his twin brothers are both bi-polar and served at the Council. “I am really conscience of the loss of this institution to this community…. You’re talking about sending people somewhere but where? If there is no money to fund them now, there is no money to fund them to where they are being sent,” said Singleton who wants the Council re-opened.

He warned if these patients are not seen they walk up and down the streets as his brothers do from time-to-time and that some of these patients are dangerous.

Also outraged over the closing of the Council was Nation of Islam’s Chief of Staff, Leonard Muhammad, said, “There is no replacement for a man like Carl Bell in Chicago….” He said when others say they’ll get someone else to replace Bell, Muhammad said, “There is nobody else.”

“We live in a world today where when people like Carl Bell who is very open who speaks his mind are punished like Negroes were punished in the 1939’s and sometimes we as black people act like Negroes of the 1930’s because when you see a man like Carl Bell under fire most of us run for the trees or the bushes,” said Muhammad.

Saying he is only going to speak the truth, Muhammad said, “I hate to see a man like Governor Quinn who owes so much to so many but he owes more to us and when he starts to harm the self-interest of our community, he is showing us we have allowed him to get into an area of total disrespect.

“Tell the governor that there are some people concern about his loyalty and how he understands that politics is tit-for-tat, something-for-something. And, also understand that politics decides who gets what, how much and when,” said Muhammad.

‘Now, we put him in office so he can decide who gets what and he decides who gets it when and how much. What we’re saying to him is that Carl Bell and the Community Mental Health Council needs to be opened.”

“Some of the older Democratic voters, like my generation, some of them are dying off. The younger blacks will have a better memory and we will remember Pat Quinn on this issue of the Community Mental Health Council.

“He needs to understand that the day of us not remembering when it’s time for election time, he can forget about support because as long as some of us out here have a mouth and a brain. We’ll bring it back to you when your interest is at stake, we are going to remind you of what you didn’t do for us,” said Muhammad.

Saying Dr. Bell is a “tough guy, but he’s really a softy and he takes his work seriously. So, his feelings are totally hurt, crushed over this as a professional because he takes his work extremely serious,” Muhammad said. While because he is a physician, Muhammad said Dr. Bell can move on “and go make money some place else, but his reputation….

“Where do you go to get your reputation back after something like this? I don’t want us to let him down, because if you let him down, all of the other doctors, black or white, who want to stand up for us, will remember Carl Bell on his cross that he’s on today. We have to take him down off this cross. Don’t be afraid to be angry or upset…” said Muhammad.

“No matter what happens, whenever there is another (state) budget, we shouldn’t let the budget be passed unless” funding for Dr. Bell’s Council is included. “The people can insist that you are in the budget when it’s passed. So, we’ll be back. Either do the right thing today or you will be forced to do it tomorrow,” Muhammad said.

Trotter said Muhammad is correct. “There are appropriations for various groups that are out there. They don’t get everything they want but certainly they get more than their share….” Trotter said, “the governor needs to know that we are outraged about what’s going on and we are not just going to let it happen because he said that is the way it should be…. That is the ammunition that we are taking back.”

An angry Rikki Jones, President of the Cook County Women’s Organization and a Chicago Public School teacher, said, “I am very angry…. One thing I hope we learn from this today is that we just don’t give away our vote. We make people earn our vote… I’m outraged. This man has earned the trust of the people in the community. You just can’t put somebody else in there and expect the same results. Trust takes time to build,” she said.

“You also have to deal with cultures” Jones said are very different. She gave the example of Sweden, which deals with similar issues, reportedly puts more money into social issues like mental health and schools “as opposed to the jails “which is what we do. We put all of our money in jails rather than resolving the problem,” said Jones.

Referring to the closing of the Council, Jones said, “This to me sends the wrong message to our children and to our community. Mental health is an important issue…and to take a man who has done such a good job out of his office and put who ever they’re putting in…is unacceptable…. I am going to start making people accountable,” she said vowing to begin issuing political report cards.

“Black people are the most loyal people to the Democratic Party,” said Jones. Looking out over the audience, she added, “You all need to tell the governor that. We’re the most loyal people. We demand respect.” “It’s about our community, our people. We demand the best. We refuse to let them take the best away from us.”

Valerie Leonard, a consultant and community developer, said Dr. Bell impacts not just the south side but also the West side where she lives. “We need to direct more resources to mental health.” Leonard said the state budget has less than one percent allocated for mental health….

“Mental disorders are responsible about 12 to 15 percent of all of our disabilities. That is more than cancer. That’s more than heart disease; yet they don’t have any problem allocating money for those disease, but when it comes to mental health especially in the black community, we see that the city is pulling back and they say go to the state and the state is pulling back so we’re caught in the middle. One is telling us to go to the other and then there’s nothing left but the prison system,” Leonard said.

“They think that they don’t have to deal with it, but yes, they are dealing with it on Michigan Avenue,” she said. Leonard said the city closed six of its mental health clinics and that about a fifth of those are on the South Side. “We got three mental health centers that are suppose to serve over one million people.” Leonard said if you have insurance you can’t use those centers.

Saying mental health services are not monolithic in that one size fits all, Leonard said it is “very insulting” to replace Dr. Bell “with just anybody.”

Looking at the increased rate of violence, Leonard said “for one year alone, there was an increase of aggravated battery 27 percent over a year in August, but if you look at the last two-weeks, there was an increase of 33 percent. What we’re seeing is an increase in violence yet we’re throwing away resources.” She fears this pattern will continue without people like Dr. Bell.

Saying there is no other mental health facility that can match the quality of care Dr. Bell gave, Leonard said he practiced the kind of medicine “from the cradle to the grave” and that he also served the community. “You just can’t replace that.

“I’m respectfully requesting that we not only give him bridge financing, but we need to get this institution back,” said Leonard.

Trotter said, “Bell is the face that we’re looking at but the institution…also needs to be maintained.” 

Rep. Monique D. Davis (D-27th) could not attend the meeting but sent a statement saying: “I support that center because it provides a needed service in the African American community not only the African American services but senior citizens services as well.

“The shutting down of resources from the State in the African American community helps to create havoc, the chaos that we witness today. They are shutting down the resources in the Black community. The state shut down my computer literacy program.

“The churches do a lot but they cannot do it all. As taxpayers and people who play the Lottery, we deserve some consideration and funding of these needed programs.

“The State cannot continue to use the excuse of alleged improprieties as the reason for closure. It’s time for the black community to get damn mad.

“If improprieties have occurred that were not criminal in nature, then they should help to straighten them out and give people better guidelines. The State has thousands of people who can help them do the paperwork properly,” said Rep. Davis.

Florence Cox, former Chicago Board of Education president and current president of the WE CAN, Inc. Committee, read a letter addressed to Gov. Pat Quinn in solidarity with Dr. Bell.

“We understand cited budgetary issues. However, with violence being of epidemic proportion in our nation, we find it unconscionable that our elected officials would close a facility that treats persons whose illness may be the root cause of some of the violence being experienced in multiple communities,” Cox read.

“With the decades, long track record of Dr. Carl Bell, I am certain that no one questions his ability or the measure of his work. Dr. Bell is known internationally for his outstanding work in psychiatry. His numerous publications on the issue of violence have been used as guidelines for treatment of violence in settings ranging from the penal system to the general community.

“Additionally, most health care professionals proclaim prevention to be the far less costly segment of medical care. I wonder if Columbine, the latest theater massacre or any similar event would have taken place if Dr. Carl Bell or his services had been available to those who brought such horrendous trauma to their communities and families.

“Members of We Can, Incorporated want to believe that the trust placed in our elected officials through our vote and other support will not leave them feeling betrayed by shortsightedness, negligence or oversight and our community faced with the potential for an escalation in anti-social behavior of those needing but unable to get treatment.

“Members of We Can, Incorporated ask that the facility remain operational under Dr. Bell and continue to be of service to the community. Any measure of loss in human capital is a loss to all. We believe that Dr. Bell’s presence in the community has brought stability to those who otherwise would have been cast adrift,” Cox stated.

Senator Trotter entered the following into the record: “On August 1, 2012, the Community Mental Health Council (CMHC) officially closed its doors. Below are the reasons stated by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for not renewing its contract:

·      Unpaid Loans

Over the past several years, DHS’s Division of Mental Health has advanced millions of dollars ($1.3 million in June 2007 and an additional $1.2 million in June 2009) to CMHC in an effort to ensure the continuance of care for patients and to give the company an opportunity to improve its fiscal situation. This money was in addition to what it was receiving in “regular” state funding. CMHC was made aware that these were loans and the money had to be paid back. Therefore, the Department and the CMHC Board of Directors agreed on a repayment plan, but to date, CMHC has not repaid the State and has not met its contractual obligations 

·      Incorrect Reports and Records

DHS provided more than two years of educational assistance regarding financial and program reporting requirements. In September and October of 2010, the Department staff performed on-site investigative visits to CMHC. DHS found inaccurate accounting records, co-mingling of payee funds with operating funds, inadequate documentation of personnel files as required by DHS, and a net operating capital of -$5.2 million. 

·      Fiscal Mismanagement

Recently CMHC has have not made payroll in many months, abruptly cancelled health insurance for employees and their families, and have been the subject of mounting complaints to the Department of Labor.

For these reasons, DHS states it was unable to renew CMHC’s contract for FY 13. DHS states that Thresholds, Habilitative Services, Inc., and Human Resource Development Institute will support CMHC patients with their mental health needs and the Department is currently in discussions with other providers.

Mike Holmes, associate director for IDHS, read this statement for the record including the timeline that led to the closure. “Over the years, the Department of Human Services (DHS) advanced millions of dollars to Community Mental Health Council (CMHC) in an effort to ensure continuity of care for consumers and to give the company an opportunity to improve its fiscal situation.

“In addition, DHS provided more than two years of technical and educational assistance regarding financial and program reporting requirements.

“To date, CMHC has made little effort to repay the state. CMHC experienced serious fiscal mismanagement and eventual insolvency for many years – they consistently and knowingly outspent their resources, did not make payroll for many months, cancelled health insurance for employees and their families, and were the subject of mounting complaints to both the federal and Illinois Departments of Labor.

“Therefore, DHS was unable to renew CMHC’s contract for fiscal year 2013. DHS’s Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Illinois Department on Aging also cancelled their contracts with CMHC in fiscal year 2012.

“We have a number of area providers in place to support CMHC consumers with their mental health needs and are currently in discussions with others.  DHS has referred hundreds of consumers to new providers and will continue to work diligently to assure that all in need are linked to appropriate services,” said Holmes.

Joyce Washington, President and CEO of the Washington Group, Ltd., called Dr. Bell “a jewel we have in our community” and a physician who has published a great deal of publications. Including two books and co-authors others.

Saying she had a connection with Dr. Bell, Washington said, “He was just somebody you could go to at any time and to refer patients to. I was totally, totally shocked…that it was one of the facilities that they were going to close.

“Certainly, with all the violence and all the things that are happening to our youth here in Chicago…all over the country. Everybody talking about what is happening in Chicago….

“We ought to have somebody like Dr. Bell who can really respond to that escalating news about our community,” said Washington. “Dr. Bell has been covered in over 450 articles on mental health,” Washington said. “He’s been on the Today Show, Nightline, “60-Minutes,” and Frontline, Internet…,” including major Chicago and national newspapers. She said he’s been in numerous “Who’s Who’s.”  Washington asked the state to fund his mental health program because he is needed.

Yvette Moyo-Gillard, from Real Men Cook, said her organization partnered with Dr. Bell’s Council and explained, “When they were shut down the funds for our program were also shut down. We’re in the middle of the program (which sponsors mental health projects) halfway through the year with six-months to go and no money to do it.

“There is a ripple effect that it’s not only about people but about people…employees about psychiatrist whose income are in question…,” said Moyo-Gilliard. 

Others spoke like Dr. Deborah Levi who retired from the Chicago State University and who is currently on the nursing faculty throughout Chicago, said she has known Dr. Bell for 30-years and has worked with the financial records of the Department of Human Services for substance abuse for six-years.

“While I was there for those six-years, I ran across the games that are played. There are some games that are being played…. These people are so politically connected. They get away with so much…it’s unbelievable.” Levi vowed to help Dr. Bell in anyway possible.

Margaret Davis, R.N., M.S.N.N., F.N.P., retired from the Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, said, “Carl Bell is my hero.” She said she became bi-polar, suicidal and homicidal having attacked a man more than six-foot, four-inch man. She said normally she is docile. She called Dr. Bell and “pulled her through” her health crisis.

“There are people who understand cultural psychiatry…” Davis said explaining Dr. Bell symbolizes that and a man who understands African American experience. “Carl understood and had a solution to the problem….” Referring to Dr. Bell’s patients that are being transferred, Davis said they wouldn’t get the same cultural counseling as Dr. Bell.

Useni Eugene Perkins, a concerned citizen, also spoke highly of Dr. Bell he said “is so prominent” and more than a “jewel” some people say. “He’s an icon in our community.” Perkins said of Gov. Quinn, “We need to take him out,” referring to the next election.

While Dorothy Holly Turner, a retired public health employed offered $1,000 to help re-open Dr. Bell’s practice, Senator Trotter explained that Bell’s annual budget was $20 million. “That is what we need to be looking at out of this $370 million appropriated to mental health care across the board,” said Trotter.

Hunter asked for the attendees to submit their testimonies to her at 312.949.1908, Senatorhunter03@sbcglobal.net, or Senator Trotter at 773.933.7715 or senatortrotter@yahoo.com or to this writer at Chintabernie@aol.com who will forward it on to both lawmakers.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

In Advance of Labor Day, advocates appealed to International Body regarding Meatpacking Workers’ Rights

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

Worker health and food safety compromised in modern meat and poultry processing plants

 

Chicago and Minneapolis – As the Labor Day holiday celebrating workers was approaching, the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights and Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requesting a hearing to address serious human rights abuses in meatpacking and poultry processing plants across the United States.

“Meatpacking plants continue hazardous practices that put worker health and food safety at risk.” said Darcy Tromanhauser, director of Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrant Integration and Civic Participation Program.  “Meatpacking workers are exposed to unrelenting production speed, extraordinary injury rates, extreme temperatures, denial of bathroom use, and other supervisory abuse. This year on Labor Day, we reflect on the contributions of workers to our economy and call on Congress and the U.S. government to protect workers in this dangerous industry.”

The meat and poultry processing industries violate the fundamental human rights of their workers by systematically exploiting the lack of ergonomic and work speed safety regulations in the U.S. The industries have failed to respond to the documented evidence of deplorable conditions, and the United States regulatory body that oversees worker safety, OSHA, has not sufficiently addressed the connection between production speed and worker safety.

Meatpacking is one of the most dangerous jobs in America with one of the highest rates of injury in manufacturing. A rule recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promises to make poultry processing even more dangerous by increasing line speed from a current rate of 75-90 birds per minute up to 175 birds per minute, allowing inspectors only one-third of a second to inspect each chicken. The rule would also remove most federal inspectors from the lines and replace them with plant workers. To ensure food and worker safety, the speed of the line should decrease (rather than increase) and federal inspectors should maintain a strong oversight presence.

The IACHR is an autonomous body of the inter-American system created by mandate of the Organization of American States that promotes and protects human rights.

 The Midwest Coalition and Nebraska Appleseed petition documents human rights abuses in meatpacking plants throughout the Midwest and asks the IACHR to 1) find that the unacceptable conditions of the meatpacking industry violate the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and 2) recommend the need for more specific and effective work speed and ergonomic regulations through OSHA.

The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights is a regional network of 56 organizations dedicated to domestic and international human rights activities.

Sec’y of State Jesse White holds Child Passenger Safety Seat Check Event at Kelvyn Park High School

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White joined 31st Ward Alderman Ray Suarez for a child passenger safety seat check event and booster seat giveaway at Kelvyn Park High School.  The event was aimed at encouraging parents and caregivers to make sure children are properly secured in appropriate child safety seats.

 “The leading cause of death and injury for children is automobile crashes,” White said, while at the high school at 4343 W. Wrightwood Ave. “Safety seat check events like this one help parents and caregivers make sure their children are properly secured because the majority of seats are not.”

 In Illinois, three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers in passenger vehicles.
  • In 2011, 4,170 drivers in Illinois were ticketed for not having their children restrained. 
  • In 2009, among children under 5 years old in passenger vehicles, an estimated 309 lives were saved by restraint use.
  • The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that children under the age of 8 years old must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system, including booster seats. 
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children ride rear facing until two-years-old if possible. According to AAP, children are 75% safer rear-facing than forward-facing.  Children should be rear-facing for a minimum one year and weigh 20 pounds.

White’s office was joined by officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department and Safe Kids.

The Secretary of State’s office, through its Kids In Safe Seats program, has seven fitting stations in Illinois where motorists can set up appointments or be referred to technicians in their area who can show them how to install their child safety seats properly. Safety seat technicians teach parents how to install more than 50 child safety seats a month in the Chicago metro area.  

To make an appointment or get more information, please call 866-247-0213 or visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

The 48th Chicago International Film Festival to Showcase One of the Most Diverse Filmmaking Regions of the World

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
 
New visions from the Middle East

 

CHICAGO, IL  – As part of a three-year grant from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 48th Chicago International Film Festival announces its Spotlight Middle East Program, the second year of the World Cinema Spotlight Program. Spotlight Middle East features the innovative works and exciting new voices from this region including Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and United Arab Emirates.

“As we begin our second year of World Cinema Spotlight, we are honored and excited to be a part of the Academy Foundation’s dedication to providing greater access to outstanding international cinema,” says Mimi Plauché, Programming Director of the 48th Chicago International Film Festival. “Through this Program, audiences will be exposed to an exciting mix of genres and styles, of independent and mainstream productions and, most importantly, to stories that are both uniquely Middle Eastern and also universal.”

“The Academy is thrilled to once again be a part of the Chicago International Film Festival and its international Spotlight program. This year’s focus on Middle Eastern films is exemplary of the Academy’s desire to celebrate excellence in filmmaking from around the world,” said Shawn Guthrie, Grants Coordinator at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Spotlight Middle East highlights include various filmmaking debuts (The Last Friday-Jordan, Meeting Leila-Iran, Off White Lies-Israel, Out in the Dark-Israel/USA, Sharqiya-Israel and The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni-Lebanon) as well as a program of shorts from the region. Films will be shown at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St) and will also be presented at “community outreach screenings” at the Logan (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and The New 400 Movie Theater (6746 N. Sheridan Rd.), and to Chicago Public High Schools through the Festival’s Education Outreach program. Parallel programs, including a series of conversations, discussions, panels, and master classes, will complement the films presented by illuminating the cultural contexts, filmmaking cultures, and artistic visions and experiences of the individual filmmakers. *Additional films TBA.

The World Cinema Spotlight program furthers the Chicago International Film Festival’s mission of exhibiting world-class international and independent film to Festival audiences by presenting films in contexts that foster discussion and understanding. Each region showcased by the program (South Asia, 2011; the Middle East, 2012; and Africa, 2013) produces a remarkable body of films that demonstrates both artistic excellence and a diversity of perspectives. The Chicago International Film Festival was one of the first non-profit cultural and educational film institutions to receive a major grant from the Academy Foundation in 1999, along with The New York and Telluride Film Festivals.

The 48th Chicago International Film Festival will take place October 11-25, 2012. The full schedule will be announced on September 20th.

Spotlight Middle East Films To Date

The Last Friday Jordan (Director: Yahya Al-Abdallah) — A slow-burning comedy filled with dark, absurdist humor, The Last Friday follows Youssef, a down-on-his-luck taxi driver whose lonely, isolated life changes suddenly when he learns that he must scrape together the money for an urgent testicular operation. Youssef finds himself reaching out to now-estranged friends and family, both for the money needed to save him and to salvage what’s left of his life.

Meeting Leila Iran (Director: Adel Yaraghi) — With another brilliant performance from A Separation star Leila Hatami and a script co-written by renowned filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Meeting Leila follows a young woman who demands that her chain-smoking fiancé quits smoking before their marriage. This poses a problem for this advertising agency idea man for whom smoking is an integral part of his creative process in this gently comic, insightful look at the compromises and negotiations required in any relationship.

A Modest Reception Iran (Director: Mani Haghighi) — Tasked with giving away huge sums of money by whatever means possible, Kaveh and Layla drive through the remote, war-torn mountains of Iran with a trunkful of cash. What begins as a seemingly harmless game soon reveals itself to be a twisted bout of charity as the power, humiliation, and shame inherent in their act plays out between the privileged couple and the impoverished villagers.

Off White Lies Israel (Director: Maya Kenig) ¬— Shy teenager Libby and her infantile father Shaul find themselves without a home as political tensions between Israel and Lebanon erupt into war. Shaul comes up with a creative plan to put a roof over their heads: posing as refugees, they are taken in by a wealthy family in Jerusalem. Finally in a “normal” household, Shaul and Libby begin to build their father-daughter relationship, but their false identities can’t last forever.

Out in the Dark Israel/USA (Director: Michael Mayer) — Nimer, a Palestinian student, dreams of a better life abroad. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer. As their relationship deepens, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects his nationality.

The Patience Stone Afghanistan/France (Director: Atiq Rahimi) — Adapted by Rahimi from his own best-selling, prize-winning novel, The Patience Stone tells the story of a beautiful young Afghani woman who watches over her husband as he lies in a hospital bed after being hit in the neck with a bullet. As he lies there, unconscious, she begins talk to him about her life and her aspirations in an open, honest way that she never could before.

Sea Shadow United Arab Emirates (Dir. Nawaf Al-Janahi) — Set in a small seaside neighborhood in the United Arab Emirates, Sea Shadow follows teenagers Mansoor and Kaltham as they struggle with tradition and convention in their journey towards adulthood. Bound by family and deeply-rooted values, the pair must find the courage to forge their own path.

Sharqiya Israel (Dir. Ami Livne) — Kamel, a, simple, shy, and good-natured security guard, is torn between two worlds: the Israeli society that treats him and his fellow Bedouins with suspicion, and his own family, who look down on him because he works for the Israelis. When the poor tin shacks where he lives with his family in the desert are threatened with demolition, the normally unassuming Kamel finds himself going to extreme lengths to save his village.

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni Lebanon (Director: Rania Stephan) — One of the most revered actresses in Middle Eastern cinema, Soad Hosni was a staple of the Egyptian screen in the 1960s and 1970s. This lovingly crafted tribute to her life is the most unconventional of bio-pics, recreating Hosni’s life story exclusively through her fictional performances, mined from VHS tapes that preserve this rich period of Egyptian film history.

 Winter of Discontent Egypt (Director: Ibrahim El-Batout) — Set in the midst of the Tahrir Square demonstrations that, in early 2011, changed Egypt forever, Winter of Discontent explores the uncertainty, anxiety, and euphoria that filled the days and nights leading up to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. As seen through the eyes of activist Amr, journalist Farah, and State Security officer Adel, momentous, world-changing events unfold on the ground in urgent, intimate detail in this powerful drama.

 Short Films Program — The Spotlight Middle East program will also feature shorts from Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and U.A.E.

 Festival Passes and Theater Info
A variety of Festival Passes are on sale now. Pass options include:

Moviegoer (10 regular admissions): $95 for Cinema/Chicago members, $125 for non-members.

Passport (20 regular admissions): $180 for Cinema/Chicago members, $240 for non-members

Passes can be obtained by visiting www.chicagofilmfestival.com or by calling 312.683.0121.

Festival screenings will be at the AMC River East 21 Theater (322 E. Illinois St.). 

Festival Sponsors

Led by Presenting Partner, Columbia College Chicago, the 48th Chicago International Film Festival’s sponsors include: Official Airline – American Airlines; Producing Partners – AMC Theaters, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Major Partner – Intersites; Supporting Partners – DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media, Stella Artois, Chris Pagano – Realtor, WBBM, ShutterBox Photobooth; Participating Partners: iN Demand, Second City Computers, Optimus; and the Festival’s Headquarters Hotel, JW Marriott Chicago.

About Cinema/Chicago

Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and educational organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the International Screenings Program (May-September), the Chicago International Television Competition (April), CineYouth Festival (May), Intercom Competition (October) and year-round Education Outreach and Member Screenings Program.

South Side Community Justice Center Celebrates 3rd Year

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recently met with residents attending an open house held in celebration of the third anniversary of her office’s South Side Community Justice Center. 

The South Side Community Justice Center, located at 9059 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago, serves the 4th and 6th and 22nd Chicago Police districts.  It was the second Community Justice Center opened by Alvarez after taking office, in an effort to make the State’s Attorney’s Office more accessible to residents.  There are now four Community Justice Centers located in Cook County.

The open house kicked off with a forum on human trafficking, which included representatives from the State’s Attorney’s Office and also several service agencies, including the Salvation Army’s Stop-It program and End Demand Illinois.

“The Community Justice Centers give residents a physical place in the community where they can go and talk to our staff to work together to problem solve and develop crime prevention strategies,”  Alvarez said.  “I am very proud of the staff at all the community justice centers for the hard work they do to help improve the neighborhoods they serve.”

In addition to charging and prosecuting criminal cases, the Community Justice Center’s staff  members are out in the community attending meetings and conducting informational seminars/workshops on topics such as human trafficking, avoiding scams and internet safety.  They also assist residents in finding court case information and provide referrals to local agencies for assistance.

Other Community Justice Center locations are:

North Side Community Justice Center: 5333 N. Western Ave., Chicago

West Side Community Justice Center: 4 Chicago Ave., Oak Park

Central Community Justice Center: 715 W. Maxwell St., Chicago

Help victims weather the storm by avoiding fraudulent charities

Posted by Admin On September - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

(A Message from the Better Business Bureau)

 

 

CHICAGO, IL – In the midst of hurricane season, storms continue to develop and affect people around the world. Just yesterday, Hurricane Isaac slowed to a tropical storm, but continues to produce heavy rains, flooding and isolated tornadoes. As many Americans look for ways to help those affected, they can become overwhelmed with the number of organizations to donate to. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) warns consumers to watch out for fraudulent charities trying to scam donations during times of need.

 

“In the wake of a natural disaster, many people search for ways to help those hit the hardest,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “People making donations to charity should check out an organization first to make sure their money is going to a well run and effective one.”

 

The BBB offers the following tips to help people decide where to direct donations in order to assist storm victims and their families:

  • Be cautious when giving online. Watch out for spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you are seeking to give to a charity organization involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.
  • Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be careful when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations and check if they meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fundraising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.      
  • Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs. Watch out for charities that don’t already have staff in the effected areas as they may not be able to provide assistance quickly.
  • Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or at least check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to actually provide aid.
  • Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing-while well intentioned- may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need, unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.

 

For more consumer tips and charities you can trust, visit www.bbb.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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