St. Mark AME Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts teamed up with the Salvation Army recently to serve as volunteer bell ringers for its Red Kettle Campaign. The Scouts with bells in hand truly demonstrated the Salvation Army’s Sharing is Caring theme.
Archives for December 2012
by Common Council President Willie Hines
While our hearts and prayers go out to every family affected by the horrific massacre at a school in Connecticut, we owe it to them to work together as a nation and find ways to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Leaders like President Obama have put forward a vision for critical changes in which lawmakers from all political backgrounds should see the wisdom.
But locally, it seems Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke would rather divide than unite, would rather foster fear than inspire hope, and would rather ridicule the notion of peace instead of promoting it. His rambling diatribe on a “tea party” website this week, wherein he calls for posting armed guards in every school and describes the victims of last week’s shooting as “sheep,” should make every resident of the county uneasy.
I was appalled to see Sheriff Clarke’s over-the-top comments in print. His is the kind of toxic rhetoric that would further divide the nation, and he spews it simply to advance his own extreme political agenda.
This tragedy exposes gaping loopholes in our system of background checks, gun registration, training for firearms owners and requirements for the proper, secure storage of weapons. Mounting headlines involving assault weapons and high-capacity clips should serve as a wake-up call, not an opportunity to settle political scores.
I firmly believe our Constitution is a brilliant document and respect the need for protecting our Second Amendment right to bear arms. But most Americans understand that doesn’t mean unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction. They want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and those prone to violence. They reject the status quo of 10,000 gun deaths a year.
It’s time to get to work representing their interests, and Sheriff Clarke isn’t helping.
by Melissa Harris-Perry
I was a panelist on an MSNBC show during the noon hour of December 14.
When the show began, we had information about a school shooting in Connecticut.
We believed there were three people hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and a gunman who had committed suicide.
Scary stuff, but probably a story that would occupy our attention for the proverbial fifteen minutes.
But by the end of the hour, we’d heard reports that at least eighteen children under the age of 10 had been murdered in cold blood as they huddled in their classrooms.
It was a brutal hour, and one I’ll never forget. We had come to one of those moments by which we measure the end of an era: before the misery, grief and terror of this event, and after.
Even as the initial reports came in, those of us on the set called for action. We didn’t quite know what had happened, but we knew it was awful.
Something must be done!As the details of Adam Lanza’s murderous spree became clearer, many more Americans took up that call. In the first seventy-two hours after the massacre, 150,000 people signed a petition on the White House website calling for legislation limiting gun access.
No previous topic on the site had ever received so much support. Something must be done! During his remarks in Newtown on that Sunday evening, President Obama also spoke of the need to act.
“In the coming weeks,” he said, “I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
Though he declined to offer any policy specifics, it was clear the president also felt: something must be done! This is because the Newtown murders were not just tragic; they were an act of terrorism.
The slain first-graders and their teachers were not targeted because of their national identity, as were the victims of the 9/11 attacks. They were not murdered because of their race, as was the case in the decades of unchecked American lynchings.
They were not killed because of their religious beliefs, like the Sikh victims of a mass shooting in Wisconsin just a few months back. In fact, their undisputed innocence and relative privilege are part of what makes their deaths so horrifying — so terrorizing.
It is also what makes me nervous about the calls for action that are on everyone’s lips, including mine. After 9/11, we were caught in a state of national post-traumatic stress. We not only mourned having lost so many; we were terrified at the loss of our sense of security.
On September 10, 2001, we knew we lived in a dangerous world. But we were Americans, and some things just don’t happen here… until they do. On December 13, 2012, we knew we lived in a country where thousands of people are murdered by guns — 30,000 in 2011 alone — but we thought young children attending schools in prosperous, peaceful communities were immune. Some things just don’t happen there.
Until they do. And this is the aspect of the tragedy that makes it so terrifying. It undermines our belief that there is a safe place to be, to live, to send our kids to school. It is a bloody beacon of our inherent vulnerability. Nothing is harder to bear than that collective realization, so we feel we must act. While I agree with the need for action, I also urge us to reflect before we act. Remember what we did after 9/11?
We let government officials with their own agendas shape our ill-defined enemies into specific targets, some of which had no connection to the attacks.
In our terror, far too many surrendered civil liberties by supporting the Patriot Act, ran our national economy aground by cheering the war in Afghanistan, and damaged our status in the world by pushing “preemptive” aggression in Iraq.
If we’re not careful, we could end up repeating these mistakes of trauma-laden, terror-driven policy-making.
Yes, we need common-sense gun legislation. No, we do not need a national registry of those with mental illnesses.
Privacy and medical confidentiality must be protected, but that is unlikely to happen in an environment where the public becomes convinced there’s a strong correlation between mental illness and gun violence, even if that link is tenuous or false.
Yes, we need to address the pervasive violence in our communities. No, we do not need to limit or censor rap music, video games or violent films. We can certainly stop supporting violence with our consumer dollars, but the impulse toward censorship tends to have more deleterious effects than positive ones.
I’m not suggesting we do nothing. I’m suggesting that we recognize our current state of emotional trauma and act with caution, lest we worsen the very problems we hope to ameliorate. No modern thinker has contributed as much to our understanding of the inscrutable realities of evil and terror as Hannah Arendt.
Writing as a German Jew in the aftermath of the Holocaust, Arendt had a unique proximity to existential vulnerability. Yet her observation of the Adolf Eichmann trial produced not a polemic on the need to hold a small group of men responsible for their crimes, but rather an insight into the “banality of evil.”
“I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer which made it impossible to trace the incontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives,” she later wrote in The New Yorker. “The deeds were monstrous, but the doer…was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither monstrous nor demonic.”
This is the insight we must cling to. Evil can emerge from routine actions, especially when they’re motivated by fear and enacted in a haze of terror. Those young lives were cut short by guns that we allow to circulate legally. But nothing we do will bring the children back or ease our vulnerability. Yes, we must act.
But we must act deliberately, or we risk compounding the evil we hope to eradicate.
Melissa Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. She is the author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, and a contributor to MSNBC.
The Social Development Commission (SDC) began administering the Emergency Assistance contract for W-2 in April of 2010. When SDC took over the program, it continued a subcontract with Community Advocates for the portion of program services that assists the homeless and families left homeless by fire or natural disaster. This was the part of the program that Community Advocates had provided for other W-2 agencies for several years prior to SDC’s involvement. Eventually, SDC decided it would be most efficient to operate the entire Emergency Assistance Program and ended the subcontract with Community Advocates.
Prior to and after SDC took over the entire program, Community Advocates did not communicate with SDC that they had further subcontracted a significant portion of their work with the American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Once the transition to SDC was completed, SDC became aware that Red Cross had been and was continuing to provide Emergency Assistance services to a number of Milwaukee County residents. This discovery was made despite the Red Cross not having submitted any bills for payment to SDC because they had not been informed by Community Advocates that their subcontract was now transferred to SDC.
SDC had several options upon learning this, including negating the contract. The agency chose to continue working with Red Cross while at the same time conducting an audit by W-2 Quality Assurance staff to ensure SDC would learn the breadth and scope of Red Cross’ involvement with the program. This close examination of the program was completed on the initiative of SDC.
The audit raised concerns on SDC’s part because Red Cross indicated their processes had been accepted by Community Advocates and the State of Wisconsin prior to April of 2010. Those processes did not meet the written procedural and paperwork standards SDC had established. SDC’s close scrutiny also provided signals that some individuals receiving the Emergency Assistance through the sub-contractor may have used some of the funds inappropriately.
Following its established procedures, SDC sends checks for rent payments or deposits directly to landlords rather than the client, something that was not being done in some cases prior to SDC taking on the administration of the program. A separate audit was conducted as part of the agency’s internal controls by SDC’s Quality Assurance Division to examine thousands of processed payments which confirmed our process was valid.
SDC and the Red Cross discussed this situation and mutually decided the most beneficial course of action was to end the contract at the close of 2011. During the time of the subcontract with SDC, Red Cross disbursed approximately $60,000 to residents. Since that time, SDC has processed all Emergency Assistance payments internally. SDC contacted the State to report their findings. The State recommendation was to conclude the audit, negotiate a payment with Red Cross, and move forward, precisely the action SDC has taken.
Since ending the Emergency Assistance contract on Dec 31, 2011, the Red Cross and SDC have continued to work together by referring clients to each other’s respective services. SDC has also maintained a productive working relationship with Community Advocates including a partnering relationship in the Energy Assistance Program.
• SDC began to administer the Emergency Assistance contract in April of 2010 and initially continued the pre-existing subcontract with Community Advocates
• Upon taking on the administration of the entire program and ending the subcontract with Community Advocates, SDC learned on its own that Community Advocates subcontracted some of their work to Red Cross
• Red Cross continued to do the Emergency Assistance work after the contract changed hands, not having been notified of the change
• Through an audit conducted by SDC W-2 Quality Assurance personnel, it was discovered that Red Cross continued the same documentation process they had used in the past despite not seeming to meet State standards
• When given the request and opportunity to change those procedures, Red Cross chose not to and, by mutual decision, the two agencies ended the contract effective at the end of 2011
• SDC informed the State of the situation, received their input, and implemented the agreed-upon approach
•SDC’s Quality Assurance Division conducted a separate audit that reviewed thousands of payments to validate the payments SDC was issuing on behalf of clients
• SDC followed its procedures to send checks directly to the landlords and not the clients to assist with rent payments or deposits
In conclusion, SDC found itself in charge of a program with a subcontractor who had not been informed of the process and documentation requirements or that SDC had assumed the administration of the program. SDC’s plan to address the situation followed State recommendations and was approved as the proper approach. The plan included SDC and Red Cross mutually agreeing to terminate the subcontract and the agency directly taking on administration of the Emergency Assistance work.
It was the diligence of SDC staff that revealed the lack of communication and the potential problems it had caused. Since becoming aware of that problem, SDC has taken steps, in concert with the State, to correct the problems and keep the W-2 program operating in an efficient and effective manner that is fully compliant with all requirements.
Domestic Violence Statistics Alarming, Need to Be Addressed by League
Washington DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans, today is offering its partnership to the National Football League (NFL) in an effort to curb alarming rates of domestic violence associated with its players.
On December 1 the NFL received its latest wake-up call in Kansas City, when linebacker Jovan Belcher took his own life along with his family’s in a tragic murder suicide.
Sadly Belcher’s case is not unique – in 2012, 21 of 32 NFL teams employed a player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge on his record which represents nearly 2 percent of the entire roster for the season. These incidents represent a significant portion of the staggering 1.3 million women who are impacted by domestic violence each year in the U.S.
These numbers only tell a part of the story – not only do nearly 45 percent of domestic violence incidents go unreported, but professional athletes have notoriously low conviction rates.
A Los Angeles Times investigative report found that athletes charged with domestic violence were only convicted 36 percent of the time, compared with a 77 percent general conviction rate. “What happened to Jovan Belcher and his family is both horrendous and preventable, and our prayers are with their loved ones” said Rev Anthony Evans, President of NBCI.
“NFL players’ contribution to domestic violence rates in American is alarming, but thankfully it can also be addressed with the help of surrounding faith communities and league leadership.”
NBCI is pledging to work hand in the hand with the NFL and the young men it employs to address the root of the problem and connect players with the strength of the black faith community. Staff and volunteers will create programs to be a ready and willing resource to guide affected families and equip them with the communication and life skills they need to win off the field.
“For the sake of every family member and stakeholder involved, we hope that the NFL will be a willing partner in this effort to curb domestic violence. In the aftermath of each tragedy lies an opportunity, and we hope that leaders will work with us to make sure to take every step possible to avoid another Jovan Belcher tragedy.”
While Many Faiths Have Evolved, Too Many Have Not, Former Jehovah’s Witness Says
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has become much more accustomed to the culture and religion of Middle Eastern and North African countries. One sharp difference is the role of half of that region’s population: girls and women.
“Unfortunately for many Muslims, half of their human capital is repressed or completely silenced, and many academics and reporters who are knowledgeable about the region cite this one fact for lack of progress there,” says Richard E. Kelly, a self-described “survivor” of Jehovah’s Witness.
“But many of us here in the West also come from a religious tradition that has repressed women, and some Christian sects remain faithful to ancient, Old Testament dogmas.”
In the New Testament, gospel writers clearly show Jesus to be a non-sexist, pro-woman figure, says Kelly, www.richardekelly.com, author of “Growing Up in Mama’s Club: A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and its sequel, “The Ghosts from Mama’s Club.” Christians are forced to choose between two points of view on women – that represented by the four Gospel writers in the New Testament and the teachings of the Old. Unfortunately, the latter too often prevails, he says.
“Because we are a pluralistic society that respects differing religious perspectives, we are sometimes afraid to be frank about certain beliefs,” says Kelly, who escaped the “cult” of Jehovah’s Witness as a young man.
Women, who are viewed as being below men, but above animals, in the faith are the most negatively affected by ancient beliefs, he says. Kelly reviews why religions should update their take on women:
• The whole world is watching: In what may be the most stubbornly religious part of the world, rural Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, 15, may be doing more than all military campaigns to turn the tide of Islamic extremism in the Middle East.
Yousafzai was shot in the head by members of the Taliban for standing up for girls’ right to be educated. In this day of instant global communication among the masses, Yousafzai’s story has reached millions. The Arab Spring should be a powerful lesson of the effects of social media in uniting people against tyrants.
• Women’s repression insults men: Because the cultural and religious traditions of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) view women as little more than chattel, members with this perspective are unable to enjoy a healthy relationship.
“I’ve experienced the tragic consequences of this view,” he says. “My sister, Marilyn, grew up believing she had less value, because that’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses taught her. Consequently, she suffered abuse at the hands of three husbands, the last of whom took her life.” By viewing women as inferior, men are also victims. They’re denied the mutual respect, trust and shared decision-making of a healthy malefemale relationship, Kelly says.
• A moderating influence: Kelly echoes the concerns of other whistle blowers – world-renowned scientists like Richard Dawkins – who worry over the plausible circumstances of world destruction at the hands of religious extremists.
“We’re dealing with those who believe that the world’s fate was literally given to them by their God; people who don’t believe in the values of the Enlightenment, but who have the fruits of today’s nuclear technology,” he says. “In any group, women tend to have a moderating influence, and introducing more female influence over and within religious groups may literally mean the difference between the future of the world and the end of it.”
Richard E. Kelly grew up as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. At 20, while working at the religion’s headquarters, he left the group to live with his wife, Helen, in New York City. Because Kelly’s family believed Armageddon was imminent, his education was limited to what was required by law, since there would be no future. However, he went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting, a master’s in business and become president of a Michigan manufacturing company. He now enjoys retirement with his family and friends.
Courtesy of Carters Drug Store
Besides getting the vaccine, here is the other flu advice to arm yourself with:
1. Follow the “six-foot rule” with anyone who seems sick. When someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or even talks, the virus is expelled via respiratory droplets- and this is the most frequent way people become infected. The droplets rarely travel beyond six feet or so. If you take public transportation, you may not have this choice, however.
2. Wash your hands often-after you shake hands, for example, or handle an object someone else was using, such as a computer keyboard or phone. When you can’t wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner (with at least 60 percent alcohol). Skip antibacterial soaps- they’re not good against viruses and my contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
3.When out in public, try to avoid touching your lips, nose, or eyes, unless you’ve just washed your hands.
That’s easier said than done since people tend to touch their faces without being aware—an average of 16 times an hour according to a study done here at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health a few years ago.
4. Get the pneumococcal vaccine if you’re 65 or older, are a smoker, or have a chronic disease such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, asthma, or HIV infection.
This reduces mortality from the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia (a major complication of the flu) in older people.
You need the vaccine only once, unless you got it before age 65, in which case you’ll need a booster.
5. If you have flu symptoms, talk to your doctor about whether you should take a prescription anti-flu drug, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). When taken within the first two days of symptoms, they may shorten the duration and severity of the infection.
6. Don’t fall for claims that dietary supplements (such as echinacea or vitamin C) or homeopathic remedies (such as Oscil-lococcimum and Nux vomica) can prevent or treat the flu. They can’t.
One possible exception is vitamin D, which plays an important role in the immune system. In a 2010 Japanese study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, schoolchildren given vitamin D supplements (1,200 IU a day) throughout winter were 40 percent less likely to develop the flu than those given a placebo.
Other recent studies have shown that healthy adults with higher blood levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop viral respiratory infections. Still, more research is needed.
7. If you do get the flu, sty home so you don’t infect others (typically, adults are contagious for about a day before symptoms begin and for about five days after; children longer). If you have to go out and need to cough or sneeze but have no tissue, do it into your sleeve or the crook of your arm, rather than into your hand or the air.
A compound found in chicken soup – carnosine – helps the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu, research has found
Super food: A compound found in chicken soup, called carnosine, helps the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu, researchers have found
by Ian Marber, Daily Mail
Chicken soup is good for the soul, they say. And as a homespun remedy for everything that might ail you during winter, there are few things as deliciously soothing.
But could such a broth be more than just a cold comfort? According to the latest scientific study, the answer is yes.
Research in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that a compound found in chicken soup – carnosine – helped the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu.
But the authors warned this benefit ended as soon as the soup was excreted by the body, so that means you may need to have a fairly constant supply.
The study wasn’t the first to look at this. More than a decade ago, Dr Stephen Rennard, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, wanted to find out why his wife’s recipe for chicken soup, handed down through generations, was so healing.
Using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of the most common type of white blood cell, neutrophils, which defend against infection.
Dr Rennard theorised that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.
What he couldn’t do was identify the exact ingredients in the soup that made it effective against colds.
The tested soup contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper.
The researchers also found many commercial soups had a similar inhibitory effect. It is probable that the combination of nutrients worked in synergy to provide the beneficial effect.
Another study, from Miami, also suggests chicken soup has more than a placebo effect.
It looked at how consuming it affected air flow and mucus in the noses of 15 volunteers who drank cold water, hot water or chicken soup.
It proved what ENT surgeons (experts in the upper airways, including the larynx) have long known: hot fluids help increase the movement of nasal mucus.
This in turn clears the airways, easing congestion.
But soup did a better job than the hot water as it also improves the function of protective cilia, the tiny hairlike projections in the nose that prevent contagions from entering the body.
Also, researchers at the University of Nebraska found the combination of vegetables and poultry in soup could help alleviate respiratory tract inflammation that results in feeling bunged-up.
All nutrients have some involvement in the complex workings of the immune system. But we know certain things about some of the common ingredients of broth.
Evidence suggests that organosulfides (naturally occurring chemicals found in garlic and onions), together with Vitamin D, stimulate production of immune cells called macrophage, while Vitamin C has an influence on both levels of neutrophils, and another type of immune chemical, interferon.
Vitamin A and carotenoids, found in carrots (a common ingredient of bouillon, the base of any good stock), help antibody production, while Vitamin E and zinc can influence the concentration of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
The other reason soups are recommended is because the nutrients are more easily absorbed than with solid versions. Remember to add a little fat – a drizzle of olive oil – to ensure the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (D, A, K and E).
You don’t have to live on chicken soup alone when you’re under the weather: the foods that offer a concentration of the nutrients mentioned include a wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lean proteins.
Hot liquids, herbal teas and hot toddies (without the alcohol and added sugar, as they can suppress the immune response) are effective, too.
While Vitamin C won’t stop you getting a cold, it might reduce the severity, so including sweet potato, peppers, kiwi and citrus fruits in the diet is advisable.
There is no evidence to confirm that dairy food increases mucus, but we mistakenly think it does as the lactose can add a white colour to what’s already there, making it seem more obvious.
Therefore, having plain yogurt with berries topped with flaked almonds is ideal as it offers probiotics as well as carotenoids, vitamins A, C and E, together with omega 6 fats.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey found probiotics helped reduce the duration of a cold as well as the severity of symptoms.
The study gave 200 students either a placebo or a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animalis.
Students taking the probiotics took less than half the time off due to illness and reported a 34 per cent reduction in symptoms as well as colds lasting 48 hours less.
Last-minute shoppers crowded into malls and stores during the last weekend before Christmas, but many didn’t seem to be in the spending spirit.
This holiday season, Americans have a lot on their minds on top of the now familiar job worries.
Consumers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, who account for 24 percent of retail sales nationwide, were tripped up by Superstorm Sandy in late October. Damage from high winds and flooding disrupted businesses and households for several weeks.
Shoppers are also increasingly worried about the fast approaching “fiscal cliff” deadline – the possibility that a stalemate between Congress and the White House over the U.S. budget could trigger a series of tax increases and spending cuts starting Jan. 1.
Confidence among U.S. consumers dropped to its lowest point in December since July because of growing concerns about the economy, according to a monthly index released Friday. And the Newtown, Conn., school shootings also dampened shoppers’ spirits, analysts said.
This confluence of factors has led to a muted approach to holiday shopping – bad news for retailers, which can make up to 40 percent of annual sales during November and December and were counting on the last weekend before Christmas to make up for lost dollars earlier in the season. The Saturday before Christmas was expected to be the second biggest sales day behind the Friday after Thanksgiving.
“It’s so hard to put yourself in the mood,” said Linda Fitzgerald, 51, a nurse from Yonkers, N.Y., who was with her 17-month-old granddaughter at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., on Saturday. She was out Christmas shopping for the first time this year.–Associated Press
Then next time you say you’re sick of your job, you may be getting uncomfortably close to a fact of office life: Most employees come to work when they’re sick.
Compounding the problem, almost half of workers take no precautions to avoid direct contact with others in the form of shaking hands, fist bumps, etc., or warn their coworkers of their illness.
More than four out of five (84 percent) of employed adults admit to having gone to work while sick, according to a survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. adults 18 and over sponsored by Cintas Corporation, which provides first-aid and safety solution to businesses.
The practice is called “presenteeism,” health experts say. But they’re not totally oblivious to the welfare of others.
Although not all employed adults avoid direct contact and warn others when there are sick – two commonsense public health practices – they do make an effort to protect others, the survey found.
When asked which precautions they take to alleviate their own symptoms and avoid infecting others in the workplace, a majority said they regularly wash their hands/use hand sanitizer (77 percent) or sneeze/cough into their sleeves (67 percent).
Other common preventative measures taken by workers reporting sick to duty include bringing their own medication to work (54 percent) and regularly wiping down their workspace (34 percent).–FOX News