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Social Justice Discussions For The 21st Century

Advice Goddess Blog


      Ever since I read, a few years back, the excellent book, Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon, I've been deeply skeptical of the wisdom of using prisoners for labor. I'm still leery, still acutely aware that if prisoners are employed for wages great care must be taken to avoid exploitation. But here's a blog column by the "Advice Goddess" with some compelling comments on the other side of the issue--a good read, including some of the comments by others:


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      The Hand Up Project - People Mean Something


          The path led off of the sidewalk into the woods, garbage strewn everywhere, human waste could be the substance you step in instead of mud. Under a piece of plastic drug up from the piles a shivering teen girl, soaking wet from the constant downpour that has lasted for days; Sticks a tiny needle in herself and says goodbye to this world forever...

          That may sound like Hollywood, or a start of some kind of book, but it is very real and happening here in my neighborhood everyday. The heroin and other drugs that go along with this crisis we are having is as bad as a shooter in the window of a casino, we don't know who's next. We don't even know who's affected in this duplicitous world. It could be everyone from the kid down the block to the Grandma next door?.. We don't know who it is going to hurt or who it is going to take next, but it will. I lost my childhood friend to the opioid epidemic eight years ago, my sister to alcoholism nine years ago. These are real people that are gone now, real as you and I and either one of them could be here typing this to you telling you about my death, my bouts with alcoholism and how tragic that was. But they aren't here, it's me, and goddammit they mean something! Don't they? Yeah, yeah they do, I very much loved and love them.

          Well when my time came, I got a reprieve, me of all the bastards in the world. The most worthless POS in the world get's a reprieve? WTF! Surely their lives were worth more than mine? They should be here happy, somewhat healthy and free of the hopelessness. It was me though, and it has been work for these last 2,067 days. The way you keep yourself sober though is to get out of your head and help others, service work is suggested as part of this. So my sponsor, the guy guiding me through this took me to the treatment center I had completed some nine months earlier. We were going to talk to a small group of newer patients about how all of this works and how great it was etc... A guy name Robert pulled us aside afterwards with a silly grin on his face and said something clicked with what we said, and it all made so much sense to him what he needed to do.


          As days turn into months and years, the fellowship flows back and forth with everyone being at some point in their own journey. We run into each other in real life as well and sometimes say hello and sometimes just nod in a knowing way. We have social lives with real people and sometimes the best friendships are found when you aren't trying to be someone you really are not. For the last few years I have been writing irregularly about this guy and his work, this guy who pulled me aside and said Thank You, that gave me a ride home on many occasions, and would do something for someone else without a single missed beat of the heart. He is a recovering addict, and we alcoholics and addicts know each other because rarely is there alcohol involved that doesn't also have some other sort of drug along with it anymore. I am just talking for us, not saying anything about anyone else's useage. We know the same people, and have lost the same friends, we live in the same neighborhood and walk and drive the worst and best streets of town.


          It's hard to imagine on any given morning, on any given night, that man and his outreach group go into those waste riddled woods. They look for the homeless, the addicted, the hungry. Sometimes it's just a cigarette and a shake of the hand to tell that person that you are human, someone cares for you. Sometimes it's a personal care kit put together by my sponsors wife and her group. Sometimes it is all the way out, out into the light and a hope for a new way of life. That is some hard work, emotional and spiritually it will drain you, forget money, it is not as if our percentage has ever seen anything but hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck means starve for two more weeks. We do it though, by the grace of something that is beyond our comprehension we get it done, we help each other out, it is one of those economies that would drive the best financial planner batshit crazy. It gets done, it takes one to know one and the paths into the woods are a lot closer than one can imagine.

          When we see the damage that we had caused in our life, in all of our environments like personal, home, work and even community, we give back. It is a way we can do esteemable acts and simply be an example to others. It sounds so simple and it is, but simple doesn't equal easy, and the work put in pays folks with a money that you just can't spend enough of and a grand gratitude for the very being of life. Some tell their story to others online and let others know they aren't alone, they are not terminally unique. Some hold meetings and help as many people through this as they can. There is a sexist side to this I guess, but women help women through the program and men help men, but we all help each other; I think the reasons would be obvious...

          There are some though, like my friends that start non-profits that really do give everything back, and I mean everything down to their last drop of gas. They help a state full of sober drunks go camping every year all over. They raise awareness for suicide and human rights, they are advocates for single mothers and domestic violence survivors, cancer awareness and mental health issues. These are just MY friends, people I know and love and they do mean something... Just like my sister, just like my friends that didn't get this far.

          Things are tough all over and some go beyond the pale... some go beyond their means, because people mean! Something. These goddamn numbers on the news every night mean something too. Trying to stop those numbers in the pouring rain and wet to their bones is that little girl, who didn't put that tiny needle into herself that day, who didn't die... She heard a voice before she did that, and he said "Hi! My name is Robert."

          People mean something, because we are the cure.


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          Has America Become Bigot Blind?


              Yes, America has become bigot blind.

              Witness John Kelly openly and apparently falsely accusing Frederica Wilson of bragging in a speech at the opening of a new FBI center that she (an uppity female black congressman in a cowboy hat) with Obama’s help (an uppity black president) that she almost single -handedly raised twenty million dollars to fund the building.

              Never mind that a tape clearly shows that Wilson never said – yes, there is a tape for those who will listen without turning a blind eye – anything at all about how funds were raised in the speech Kelly complained about or that on that tape it is perfectly clear she went out of her way to give credit to and say how grateful she was for three separate republicans for helping her do what made her so exuberant and proud – getting the FBI center named in honor of two slain FBI agents in time for the center’s opening.

              “Facts” don’t matter to bigots.

              Witness Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a press conference more than hinting (without an ounce of evidence) that somehow during that time but not in the speech everyone heard Wilson might have somehow (according to Kelly and unnamed others) taken false credit for raising the money. When asked whether she was going to press Kelly for an apology or explanation she deflected instead and asked press if they really wanted to mess with a four star general. That was very “white” of her which used to mean “privileged” to be condescending simply because of the color of your skin but now, evidently, also means “privileged” to lie because of your military rank. Sanders’ suggesting there were others besides Kelly who heard Wilson talk of funding (without naming them) is like Trump repeating bigoted but obviously false claims because “some people” ( always unnamed of course ) said so. Repeating unsubstantiated slurs is straight out of the bigot playbook.

              Kelly calling Wilson an “empty drum” is I’m afraid also straight out of the bigot playbook.

              Bigots don’t think they have a “discrimination” problem with uppity blacks, especially uppity black women, they think they have a “discipline” problem.

              That’s how so many bigots gleefully took the “black lives matter” slogan and stripped it of all meaning by opposing it with “white lives matter” slogans suggesting to their bigot friends that uppity blacks thought ONLY black lives matter. But did you if you waved the white lives signs convince yourself you were really thinking there’s nothing the matter with waving the slogan “white lives matter” in front of blacks because, clearly, “all lives matter.” Really? Don’t you believe, or don’t know, or don’t care, blacks are being shot by police at many times the rate of whites under exactly the same circumstances is what the “black lives matter” movement is about? Do you now believe the Justice Department trying to close all ongoing investigations into police department discriminatory practices all across the country is justified because they are being pressed too hard, or are too expensive, or are simply all unfounded?

              Bigotry depends on willingness to believe the worst of someone you don’t know while ignoring facts right in front of you at the same time. Hitler put billboards of individual Jews who committed crimes all over his country to give the impression that there was a Jewish crime wave when there really wasn’t. It didn’t matter that Jews committed less crimes in pre-war Germany than non- Jews to Hitler any more than that in modern America it mattered to Trump that undocumented persons in America commit far less property and violent crimes than the general documented population. President Trump created VOICE (victims of immigrant criminal engagement) to make it seem, falsely, that there were more victims of non - documented immigrant crime than of regular documented American non – immigrants. If you applauded without thinking the fear mongering misrepresentations that created VOICE as rationale for limiting immigration or as an excuse to separate peaceful families here for many decades from their children you might not be a bigot – but you supported bigotry. Trump unfortunately created no VONCE (victims of non –immigrant criminal engagement) because his purpose was not to portray accurately who in America committed the most violent crimes. His purpose was….

              What was the purpose of Trump’s deliberate misrepresentations ?

              Got me. It certainly presented a deliberately false picture of non -documented individuals in America as being more violent than the general population when exactly the opposite is true.

              Maybe it’s simply that fear mongering works – the old blind “us” against “them”- far better than most people thought because many not only hugged it like an insecurity blanket but voted their fear.

              A lady I knew for years and admired because she helped elderly individuals who could not help themselves once asked me in idle conversation, “ Don’t you think it’s terrible black kids swim with white kids in the public pool?” Where did that come from? She wasn’t born with that attitude.

              We need to call an “empty barrel” an “empty barrel” when we see one.

              But Frederica Wilson, whatever you are or ever will be in that speech you were not an empty barrel, you did not claim credit in that speech then for raising money as Kelly claimed, but you did ask now, “Why did he lie on me?”

              I ask the same question.


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              Tech Companies To Lobby For Immigrant 'Dreamers' To Remain In The U.S.


                  Google, Facebook, and other big tech companies plan to lobby for 'Dreamers' to stay in the US

                  "We plan to support Dreamers as long they need help."

                  (Reuters) - Nearly two dozen major companies in technology and other industries are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, illegal immigrants a path to permanent residency, according to documents seen by Reuters.

                  The Coalition for the American Dream intends to ask Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year that would allow these immigrants, often referred to as “Dreamers,” to continue working in the United States, the documents said.

                  Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Intel Corp, Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], IBM Corp, Marriott International Inc and other top U.S. companies are listed as members, one of the documents shows. Reuters was first to report the news.

                  Amazon, Intel, Uber and Univision Communications Inc [UVN.UL] confirmed their membership



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                  This Texas Town Offers Hurricane Relief — If Your Politics Are Right


                      Dickson, Texas is offering available donated relief funds for Hurricane Harvey victims with the provision in the application that the applicants agree that they don't and will NOT Boycott Israel.

                      Since the article comes from a subscription based source (The Washington Post), I have taken the liberty of posting most of the article here.

                      The city of Dickinson, Tex., located about 30 miles southeast of Houston, recently posted applications online for relief grants “from the funds that were generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund,” the city’s website says. The application, however, includes a provision requiring applicants to promise not to boycott Israel.

                      Section 11 of the four page document is titled, “Verification not to Boycott Israel.

                      The text reads: “By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.”

                      The city attorney for Dickinson told a local television station he was only following a state law forbidding state agencies from doing business with Israel boycotters.

                      In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions) bill into law. The statute “prohibits all state agencies from contracting with, and certain public funds from investing in, companies that boycott Israel,” according to the governor’s website. “Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas,” Abbott said at the bill’s signing. “We will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.”

                      How the law would apply to individuals seeking disaster relief — rather than businesses seeking contracts — is unclear.

                      The BDS movement started in 2005 as a nonviolent protest of the country’s treatment of Palestinians. It involved a call to halt business with Israeli companies, as well as corporations doing business with Israel, as a way to put pressure on the Israeli government. Legislation in a number of states pushing back against BDS has followed, including proposals in the U.S. Congress.

                      But as the ACLU pointed out in the organization’s release on the Dickinson application, “The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment, and other decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits.”

                      Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging a similar anti-BDS law in Kansas.

                      As stated in the article, the ACLU is in the process of challenging this (and similar) situations based on First Amendment "freedom of political protest" principles.

                      What's next though? Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana banning any protest of the Philippines or Duterte because the State legislators agree with its abortion stance and (coincidentally) like Duterte's "tough" stance on drugs also. They might feel the need to help protect a Christian nation from the "dark evils of radical Islam".

                      So much for the Republican championed concept of donation driven relief. To receive help, one might have to sell one's principles.

                      So much for the Federal Government being responsible for upholding the Constitution.

                      De Publica enim mori. Constitutione vivat.


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                      The Yankees Vs" The Rest Of Us".

                      Call me superstitious, but I've never found it good for the rest of us, when the Yanks are winning. I've always seen them as the Monroe Doctrine of baseball.

                      What I'm sneaking up on you is the superiority mentality.

                      An American President, a spoiled and neglected child, the beginning of this personality paradox, a symptom of what's wrong: What's in it for me, how do I get my way, you're all in my way, I'm in charge, which means the herd, us, has been in stampede mode for quite a while, and this narcissist has his finger on the button.

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                      The Disaster Declaration Process


                          When it comes to the stuff that the President is obligated to do some is spelled out for him and he has to follow every letter and dot every "T". But other things depend on an action of another person or State.

                          Such as FEMA. I couldn't understand as to why Trump could be calling things great and at 100% when everyone in Puerto Rico are saying the opposite. Now add to this on why no one in the US is complaining? I believe I found the answer but I have no clue as to how to get a hold of this info.

                          It has to do on how the Island was declared and an inspection that was done. Who declared it? Who gave the final word? It could be Trump that said this is what we will do...or it could be FEMA or their Governor on the island. Either one of these could of declared sent in paperwork, and then waited.

                          "All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State." A State also includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Republic of Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are also eligible to request a declaration and receive assistance through the Compacts of Free Association.

                          It says nothing in here about disqualifying a state etc because of loans etc. or even consideration on amounts of loans etc. Bankruptcy is not mentioned either.

                          If it is apparent that a Presidential disaster declaration may be necessary to assist in the recovery of the impacted area, the State or Indian tribal government should contact their FEMA Regional Office and request a joint Federal, State/Tribal Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA). Local government representatives should be included, if possible. Together, the team will conduct a thorough assessment of the impacted area to determine the extent of the disaster, its impact on individuals and public facilities, and the types of federal assistance that may be needed. This information is included in the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive’s request to show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments or Indian tribal government and that supplemental federal assistance is necessary.

                          Generally, the PDA is completed prior to the submission of the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive’s request for a major disaster declaration. However, when an obviously severe or catastrophic event occurs, the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive’s request may be submitted prior to completion of the PDA. 1 In such circumstances the major disaster will generally be limited to Public Assistance Categories A and/or B (which may be further limited to Direct Federal Assistance (DFA)) and Hazard Mitigation Assistance. For high-impact events where the level of damage to residences is empirically overwhelming, the declaration may also include Individual Assistance. Additional forms of assistance may be added at a later date, pending the completion of PDAs.

                          Depending on the type of help declaration will depend on the type of help received. My major concern is this:

                          Localized impacts - FEMA evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and local government levels, as well as at the American Indian and Alaskan Native Tribal Government levels, because, at times, there are extraordinary concentrations of damages that might warrant Federal assistance even if the statewide per capita is not met. This is particularly true where critical facilities (such as major roadways, bridges, public buildings, etc.) are affected or where localized per capita impacts are extremely high. For example, localized damages may be in the tens or even hundreds of dollars per capita, even though the overall per capita impact is low.


                          FEMA gets to choose regardless of the help declaration. They can choose to help more in Puerto Rico or less and I believe they chose to help less. We all know that many of Trumps picks to run the Government offices couldn't tell us what their jobs are. FEMA is a little different. W. Craig Fugate was Obama's FEMA guy. So chances are it depends on what Trump said he would Okay and sign the papers on.

                          We also know Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama got excellent help from FEMA.

                          So I have to ask... the paperwork is out there. It says exactly what FEMA is allowed to do in Puerto Rico. This paperwork is required by law. The dates for asking and receiving are long for PR. Who can get the paperwork so the public can read it? Check dates for all assistance? On Fema's website they do have info you can see this report which point's out that FEMA did not help every county in Puerto Rico for one disaster ...it has been updated to reflect all the way into October. https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4336 this was a few weeks before the major hurricane.

                          The declaration came on September 20th but I believe it was a few weeks before the FEMA showed up.

                          Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria (DR-4339)

                          Incident Period: September 17, 2017
                          Major Disaster Declaration declared on September 20, 2017 https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4339

                          All disasters for Puerto Rico https://www.fema.gov/disasters/state-tribal-govern...

                          BTW this FEMA website process is interesting. Some of you may want to dig in.


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                              Congress At Standstill Over Reauthorizing Health Insurance For 9 Million Kids

                              It’s been 3 weeks since it expired, and several states will run out of money soon.


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                              Value Women

                              if you respect yourself you respect and value women

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