Archive | June 2011

In the Public Good?

In a time in America’s history where there are record job losses, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies, oil companies are earning record profits. Gas prices have soared. The skyrocketing gas prices have had an impact on the prices of other products including but not limited to food. In response to questions being raised about the necessity of oil company subsides, the former CEO of Shell Oil, John Hoffmeister, recently said,
“Big Oil doesn’t need subsidies in the face of sustained high oil prices.”[i]
The largest oil companies, between 2005 and 2009, have made a combined 485
billion dollars in profits. That’s almost half a Trillion dollars.”[ii]

“While the U.S. House of Representatives was working on a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown, House Democrats offered a motion that would have taken away tax subsidies from the five largest oil companies, saving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. The motion was defeated with every Republican voting against it.”[iii]This
will blog post discuss the importance of Congress taking a close look at its
mandate to serve the public good.

When looking at the federal budget proposals coming out of the House of Representatives cutting programs for indigent infants, children, youth, the elderly, and students while maintaining tax breaks for the most able to pay taxes (i.e. corporations and affluent persons), it makes one wonder whether or not the government is operating in keeping with the public good. The importance of this question is highlighted when looking at
the big oil company subsides in a period of budget crisis.

The high cost of gas has caused many drivers to utilize alternative modes of transportation for travel to and from work. Where possible, some former personal car drivers have elected to utilize public transportation, scooter, or a bicycle to travel to work. The afore-referenced alternative modes of traveling to and from work for some drivers simply are not viable. There are many portions of the country where public transportation is not available for traveling to and from work. Like public transportation, a scooter
or bicycle are not viable options for traveling to work for many workers. For these
drivers, the high cost of gas has caused them to have to cut other portions of
their personal budgets in order to continue work.  Personal car drivers have been reported cutting their food, utilities, entertainment (cable, Netflix, movies), and vacation
travel budget items in order to be able to travel to their places of employment.

Voters are calling out to their elected officials in Washington, DC for “shared sacrifice” when looking at the federal budget. Voters are telephoning, emailing, faxing their elected officials in Washington, DC, to request that Congress cut the multi-billion dollar subsides to oil companies. Like the hard working citizen’s in the United States, many voters
assert that corporations and wealthy Americans must pay their fair share of the
tax burden.

In May of this year, President Obama heard the voters’ cries for shared sacrifice and urged Congress to take immediate action to eliminate the oil company subsides and use the dollars to invest in clean energy[iv]. Congressman John Boehner is reported to having said to ABC News that, “cutting the subsidies to oil companies is certainly something we should be looking at.”[v] “We are in at time when the federal government short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to get the government moving,”[vi] Boehner said.  Boehner went on to say that, “They ought to be paying their fair share.”[vii]

Last month, the President sent a letter to Congressional Leaders, saying he was heartened by House Speaker John Boehner’s statement that he was willing to consider cutting multibillion dollar subsidies to oil companies, and urging lawmakers to act.[viii]
We, as a nation, cannot address our long-standing fiscal challenges by cutting very necessary programs and services for the most vulnerable members of our state such as WIC, SNAP, Medicare, and Medicaid while corporations receive tax breaks. Instead of cutting necessary program and services, we must raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest members of society. There must be shared sacrifice.

If the federal budget crisis is important to you, it is imperative that you let your elected officials know your position on this issue. To find the name and contact information for your: US Senator, you can visit the Senate Information website at…/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm;
and for the House of Representatives you can visit this website Get involved in the federal budget process.

Sources: “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions  Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011.  Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art.

[i]  “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions  Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011.

[ii]  “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011.

[iii] Ibid.


[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.


Mihajlov’s Quest for Democracy & Human Rights

“…Mihajlov’s first freedoms–speech, thought, press, assembly, association, philosophical,
political & religious persuasion–remain a world- wide challenge. Can the quest for global democracy & basic human rights & freedoms be realized?”—

All friends, colleagues, students, and admirers of Mihajlo Mihajlov are
cordially invited to participate in a re-assessment of his life, work, and
legacy whose significance reaches well beyond Tito’s Yugoslavia, the Balkans,
and Eastern Europe. Mihajlov’s quest for democracy and human rights is an
inspiration for all who strive for an open society, pluralism, and tolerance.
An indefatigable human rights champion, Mihajlov’s example contributed to the
rise of dissent, civic culture, and civil society which ushered in momentous
changes culminating in the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe and the demise
of Soviet rule. Mihajlov’s first freedoms–speech, thought, press, assembly,
association, philosophical, political and religious persuasion–remain a
continuing challenge, East and West, North and South. Curiously, Mihajlov’s
thought offers a conceptual bridge between Westernizers and Slavophiles, while
his universalism helped him befriend dissidents of all ethnic groups. Indeed,
Mihajlov’s was a universal message of individual freedom and social justice.
His undogmatic spirituality and central conception of human dignity drew on
Russian religious philosophy. The question arises: Can the quest for global
democracy and basic human rights and freedoms be realized in a world of
competing socio-economic, political, and ethno-national interests and
ideologies? Can equality be reconciled with liberty? And, can science and
technology be harnessed to serve, rather than enslave, humanity?
Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Keynote:  “Mihajlo Mihajlov: Homeland Is Freedom”. Maria M. Ivusic, Washington (Mihajlo’s Sister & Translator).

Symposium Venue: FREEDOMS is co-sponsored by IIR-ICSA-JIS in the City of the Roses–the world-famous Tournament of Roses, in sunny Southern California, with many cultural/sightseeing opportunities.

Date: August 4-7, 2011.

Abstracts: Send Abstracts (250 words) to: c/o Dr. O. Gruenwald, JIS Editor, 1065 Pine Bluff Dr., Pasadena, CA 91107, USA. Please remember to include:Title, First & Last Name, faculty or student, mailing address, phone & email. Publication: Fully-developed papers will be considered for publication in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies XXIV 2012.

Conference Website:

Registration & Cost: Symposium participants must preregister: $75 by 15 April 2011; $100 after 15 April 2011; $150 after 1 June 2011.

Host:Institute for Interdisciplinary Research & International Christian Studies Association.

Sources: for Interdisciplinary Research & International Christian Studies Association.

Photocredit: Microsoft Clip Art

Redemption Song

Former skinhead, Byron Widner, illustrated his hate through a series of derogatory tattoos all over his body. However, with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), he was able to “leave the white power movement” and get rid of his inked imprints as said by the SPLC. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout theUnited States as well as exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public.

To watch Byron Widner’s entire story of redemption, please tune into MSNBC this Sunday at 9:00 PM(EDT) for the documentary, “Erasing Hate.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this film will provide viewers with an account of “his life within the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to leave it, and the procedures he received.”

Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.

American communities have learned that failure to address bias crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension. Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.

While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across the country are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses.  The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities.

The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. This list contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based include but is not limited to:

National Organizations

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.

American Jewish Committee
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town

Anti-Defamation League
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.

Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.

Center For Democratic Renewal
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.

Center for New Community
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.

Choosing to Participate
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.

Connect America
Points of Light Foundation
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.

Combats racisms and fights for civil rights.

National Council of Churches
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.

The National Urban League
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.

Political Research Associates
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)

Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)

100 Black Men of America
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.

Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Center For Democratic Renewal; Not In Our Town; Center for New Community; Choosing to Participate; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); NAACP; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; The National Urban League; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Study Circles Resource Center; 100 Black Men of America.

 Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Nichelle Mitchem Shares Information on the 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference

Date: August 14-17, 2011

Venue: Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Marriott Marquis Hotels

The conference organizers are committed to ensuring that this conference contributes to achieving the three primary goals defined in the plan:

  • Reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV;
  • Increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV; and
  • Reducing HIV-related health disparities. –2011 NHPC

Source Website:

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Fatherless Children

Parents play an integral role in the development of their children either directly or indirectly. In recognition of the important roles played by parents in the lives of their children, we honor and celebrate mothers in the month of May on Mother’s Day and fathers in the month of June on Father’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day was held on Sunday, May 8, 2011 and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2011.

Each year, for the past twenty-nine (29) years, in the United States, on the third  Sunday in the month of June, we honor and celebrate the contributions that fathers make in the lives of their children. Dr. Sigmund Freud is reported to have said that, he could not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

For a growing number of American children, they have not known the love, protection, and guidance of a father. Social science research has shown the devastating impact of fatherless homes on the lives children. Data indicates that children in fatherless homes experience more major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home. The following statistics on children in fatherless homes are alarming and should give any father pause when thinking about his children.

Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are
twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double
the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income,
parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper
of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University
cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of
Research on Adolescence
14 (September 2004): 369-397.)

Suicide. 63% of youth  suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census)

Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders
come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control)

High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless  homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)

Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)

Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)

Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).

Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed
“greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).

Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their
, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).

Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).

Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993”[i]

If you want to make a meanigful difference in the lives of children and youth in homes where the fathers are absent, you can support the very necessary work of nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and/or Boys and Girls Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a 100 year history of providing quality youth mentoring services that have proven to have a measurable impact in the lives of: the youth served, their families and their community. Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to “…enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” Every day, these agencies are changing the perspectives of children and enabling them to see the world around them in a more positive light. With that newfound point of view, they can see their potential more clearly and dream bigger about their future. Get involved in a child’s life.

Sources: Boys and Girls Club’s website. Big BrothersBig Sisters’ website. “Father’s absence takes heavy toll on children”, Editorial, June 18, 2011. “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, Guide. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

[i] “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, Guide

Feeding America’s Children

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition and health program (WIC). WIC provides much needed health care and nutrition support for some of our most vulnerable families, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, and children under five.

Hunger in America is prevalent. Hunger poses a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of  an ever increasing number of infants and children.  According to the WIC website, “…[when] WIC was permanently authorized, 88,000 people participated. By 1980, participation was at 1.9 million; by 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by 2000, 7.2 million. Average monthly participation for FY 2008 was approximately 8.7 million. Children have always been the largest category of WIC participants. Of the 8.7 million people who received WIC benefits each month in FY 2008, approximately 4.33 million were children, 2.22 million were infants, and 2.15 million were women.”[i]

Estimates from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that funding WIC at the US House proposed low level would result in eliminating 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and young children from WIC next year.[ii] It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children thus highlighting the need for continued funding for feeding programs such as WIC.

On May 31, 2011, in response to the devastating funding cuts proposed by House Republicans, U.S. Rep. George Miller(D-CA), senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement regarding the proposed cuts to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).[iii] These cuts further the attack on poor and working class Americans outlined in the FY12 Republican budget which proposes to severely cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by $127 billion over ten years. [iv]

“House Republicans are trying to deny low-income mothers access to healthy food options. Their priorities are sorely misplaced. They push for tax cuts for big oil companies and threaten families with the greatest needs in this economy. If children don’t develop healthy habits early, if they don’t have enough food, they can struggle in the classroom and in life.

“Just a short time ago, President Obama signed into law transformational legislation that will dramatically improve school meals and other child nutrition programs. We came together in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation, to reduce hunger and improve the meals our children eat in and out of school. And now, the House Republicans would reverse the progress made and threaten the mothers, families and children who rely on WIC on a daily basis.

“It is absolutely necessary to take a long hard look at government spending to avoid wasting any taxpayers’ dollars, but time and time again, Republicans wrongfully make their cuts on the backs of poor and working class Americans.”[v] For more information on WIC, visit the WIC website at

Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Voices for America’s Children’s Action Alert. WIC’s website. U.S. Rep. George Miller(D-CA)’s website where he released his statement on the proposed WIC Cuts in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[i] WIC  website

[ii] US Representative Miller website.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

Women, Infants, and Children

Last week, the House-proposed cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition and
health program (WIC). WIC provides health care and nutrition support for some
of our most vulnerable families, including pregnant or breastfeeding women,
infants, and children under five.

According to the WIC website, “…WIC was permanently authorized, 88,000 people participated. By 1980, participation was at 1.9 million; by 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by 2000, 7.2 million. Average monthly participation for FY 2008 was approximately 8.7 million. Children have always been the largest category of WIC participants. Of the 8.7 million people who received WIC benefits each month in FY 2008, approximately 4.33 million were children, 2.22 million were infants, and 2.15
million were women.”

Food security is necessary to lead a productive, healthy, and active life. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well kept secret.

When examining the prevalence of childhood hunger in America, the need for food programs is highlighted. Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure.iii As is aptly stated in the materials by Share Our Strength ii “No Hungry Kid”, “…their bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow, and thrive.” It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United  States:

  • According  to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food
    security and very low food security) households in 2009. iii 20%  or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food  insecure households.  The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas  (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iv In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black
    non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9

The cuts on the table would leave up to 350,000 without aid. Some member of Congress will say there simply is not money in the budget to help these families. But just pennies on the dollar from tax cuts for the rich would provide young children and mothers with the supplemental nutrition and health care that they need. If this issue is important to you contact your members of Congress.

Sources: WIC website. Voice for America’s Children. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008;;;; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art


iWIC website

iiIn 1984, Share Our Strength, was started by the brother and sister team of Bill and Debbie Shore started the organization with the belief that everyone has strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie
sustainable solutions.

iiiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

ivNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States,

vCook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

viVoices for America’s Children.