Friday, June 27, 2008

Vote for Adam Sterling for the Teen Choice Awards!

Adam Sterling, founder of GI-Net, has been nominated for a Teen Choice Award (airing August 4th on FOX and hosted by Hanna Montana) for his work with the Sudan Divestment Task Force, which is a project of GI-NET. The winner – which will be selected through online voting – will receive $90,000 for their organization!

Please help GI-NET win $90,000 by asking family and friends that are between the ages of 13-19 to vote for Adam Sterling and GI-NET at: You can vote once a day per email address until August 1st (and please forward this message to your friends and family).

Because you are officially required to be 13-19 to vote, if a year before 1989 or after 1995 is selected for date of birth you will not be able to vote.

Over the past few years, GI-NET has raised over $500,000 for civilian protection in Darfur and our membership has grown to over 50,000 people around the world. Through our work with the Sudan Divestment Task Force at least 25 states, 19 major U.S. cities, and 59 universities have adopted policies restricting their Sudan investments. Last year, our movement spread overseas, with ongoing targeted Sudan divestment campaigns in 18 countries. All of the major presidential candidates have divested their personal holdings and we even got President Bush involved when he signed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007!

Thanks again for your continued support and taking the time to help GI-NET win $90,000 by asking family and friends that are between the ages of 13-19 to vote for Adam Sterling and GI-NET at:

Bringing America Home


This national, broad-based initiative is dedicated to the goal of ending homelessness. The Campaign is founded on the principles and action of public education, grassroots organizing and support for progressive policies and legislation. It is founded on the principles that people need affordable housing, livable incomes, health care, education, and protection of their civil rights.

The Bringing America Home Act (H.R. 4347) was introduced in the 109th Congress by Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN). This comprehensive bill is designed to end homelessness in the United States and includes housing, health, economic and civil rights components. The proposed legislation represents the most comprehensive initiative to date to address modern homelessness and is based on research, data, and the experience of front line providers and advocates. Click here to download the Section-by-Section analysis of the legislation in .pdf format.

Housing Security Provisions Include:

  • Establishing a National goal of ending homelessness by fulfilling the human need of shelter;
  • A National Housing Trust Fund;
  • 1,500,000 Section 8 vouchers for low-income families over ten years;
  • Increased authorization levels of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Veterans' Administration (VA) Housing Programs;
  • Authorization of permanent housing as an eligible use of surplus federal property under Title V of HUD McKinney-Vento;
  • Authorization of a Mutual Housing demonstration program to provide housing cooperatives;
  • A requirement that use of any federal dollars used for demolition would require a replacement resulting in no net loss of units;
  • Establishment in the Treasury of an Emergency Rent Relief Fund directing the Secretary of HUD to provide grants for emergency rent relief payments to landlords on behalf of tenants facing eviction;
  • Reauthorization of HUD McKinney-Vento programs for a five-year period;
  • Permanent authorization of the financing of renewals for permanent housing projects initiated through HUD McKinney-Vento from the Housing Certificate Fund; and
  • Requirements that HUD Continuums of Care coordinate and collaborate with local school district homeless liaisons and consider the school stability of children when shelter placements are made.

Economic Security Provisions Include:

  • A Sense of Congress supporting a Universal Living Wage and livable incomes;
  • Temporary Worker Fairness and Protection, which will enact federal legislation giving temporary workers the same protections as those afforded permanent workers;
  • Establishment of a 'Homebuild' Program for people experiencing homelessness to assist those who have experienced significant barriers to employment through training and apprenticeship programs;
  • Requirement that the Social Security Administration to collect data, engage in outreach and expedite application processing of people experiencing homelessness;
  • Repeal of the statute that allows homeless people to receive SSI for only 6 out of every 9 months they reside in public emergency shelter;
  • Increased asset limit for SSI to $3,000 for an individual and $4,500 for a couple, and provides presumptive eligibility for people experiencing homelessness; and
  • Greater access to Workforce Investment Act (WIA) services for people experiencing homelessness.

Health Care Provisions include:

  • A Sense of Congress resolving to enact legislation to guarantee that every person in the United States has access to comprehensive, quality, and affordable health care;
  • Strengthening of mainstream addiction and mental health services programs including the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant programs. The bill prioritizes services for people experiencing homelessness, averts patient discharge into homelessness, improves planning and reporting requirements, and establishes a Federal plan on addiction, mental illness, and homelessness;
  • Reauthorization and strengthening of the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) and Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (GBHI) programs. These targeted programs currently provide essential mental health, addiction, and other services to people experiencing homelessness, but are not able to meet the growing need. The Health Title expands the services provided by these programs and the agencies involved in providing these services. It would also increase the authorization levels of these programs to $100,000,000 for PATH and $100,000,000 for GBHI; and
  • Strengthening of services provided by the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act (RWCA) to people experiencing homelessness by prioritizing services for people experiencing homelessness, expanding the scope of services provided, and preventing patient discharge into homelessness. It also establishes a Federal plan on HIV/AIDS and homelessness to ensure that homeless persons have access to RWCA programs and receive care appropriate to their unique needs and life circumstances once in these programs.

Civil Rights Provisions Include:

  • A requirement under the selection criteria of HUD McKinney-Vento that communities receiving homeless assistance dollars would certify they are not criminalizing homelessness through laws and ordinances;
  • A Sense of Congress that cities receiving CDBG and HOME funds shall not pass ordinances or fund projects that have a disparate impact on homeless people or that punish homeless persons for carrying out life-sustaining practices in public spaces when no alternative public spaces are available; or relating to curfews or runaways and that result in homeless youths being adjudicated delinquent.
  • A requirement that cities receiving CDBG, and HOME funds shall not pass zoning ordinances / make zoning decisions that have the effect of preventing the siting of facilities designed to serve people in homeless situations or low-income people.
  • A requirement that USPS shall provide no-fee PO boxes, subject to availability, to homeless persons within the zip code area of the location to which they regularly return.
SUPPORT THE BRINGING AMERICA HOME ACT: Sign a petition supporting the Bringing America Home Act, or have your organization endorse the Bringing America Home Campaign. Organizer's Toolkit

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Paycheck or Service? Is There a Middle Way?

Ahhhh. The question all of us do-gooders have on the brain. Let's face it - my future path in Social Work is not known for fat paychecks. In fact, they are known for being overworked, stressed to the max and in debt up to their eyeballs. (Why did I sign up for this...??)

The New York Times recently published an article (link above) that talks about graduates who go into school with high ideals for changing the world, but come out working for big business.

A professor name Howard Gardner is teaching “reflection” seminars at Harvard, Amherst and Colby, in hopes he will "push undergraduates to think more deeply about the connection between their educations and aspirations." A lot of these top school grads are headed off to Wall Street, which I think is a waste! This professor hope his seminars will encourage more students to consider public service and other careers beyond the consulting and financial jobs that most of these top college grads flock too.

Is there a middle ground between a nice paycheck and public service? Why the heck is such an important function of our messed up society paid SO little? I don't understand it. While I was at USF, I met so many amazing do-gooders who don't seem to give a damn about money. However, are we all prepared to starve while we fight the injustices of our world?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cure for Skin Cancer? Patient Recovers After Cell Injection

Well, this is of interest to me since I just had an ordeal with skin cancer (and have had another in the past). Melanoma runs in my family, so I don't mess around with skin spots. If you were wondering why I was so pasty looking, there is your answer.

A cancer patient (with an advanced form) was injected with billions of his own immune "defense" cells that doctors cloned from cells that were found to attack the cancer cells best. This process is known as "immunotherapy". The 52-year-old is now free from tumors within eight weeks of undergoing the procedure! After two years he is still free from the disease which had spread to his lymph nodes and one of his lungs.

I mean - WOW! This is a breakthrough!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yoani Sanchez

I wanted to let the world know about Yoani, or at least the 2 ppl who read my blog.

I was introduced to Yoani through my Leadership and Social Change class this summer. Yoani is a native Cuban who is a trained philologist. She was denied a career in the Academic realm and has thus supported herself off tourism. However, she is not your ordinary Cuban living under the strict thumb of dictator Castro.

She blogs about the situation in her country, and living under a dictator. She does what so many in her country cannot do - she speaks freely! I believe she has the balls of Brahma bull but I admire her courage dearly! I do hope that she remains safe and does not someday disappear...

This entry is really worth reading.

Search and capture

Today I got up with a sore throat. The guilty party was the impertinent cold wind in the Malecón, to which I exposed myself last night while talking with a friend. During an hour we talked –thinking that we were fixing the world and the Island- without realizing that the temperature was falling. That’s why this morning I woke up with a cold and my whole body was asking for a hot lemon tea.

With that imperative I went to the closest agricultural market and asked for the green citrus of my cravings. One of the vendors told me: “Lemons are lost. You better buy a guava”. I didn’t let him convince me and continued with my whim of a warm lemon with a hint of black tea. I walked then towards Old Havana and in passing through several markets I realized that they didn’t have what I was looking for either. My throat was hurting even more and at that point I had to rethink if would be better to take a C Vitamin pill; but since my stubbornness is genetic, I insisted in searching for the missing fruit.

Close to two in the afternoon I gave up. I could barely swallow because of the burning in the throat, nothing compared with the disgust that provoked in my the “disappearance” of the lemons. The useless “search and capture” has generated in me an ill feeling more long lasting than the cold. I has left me with some hard questions: How is it that with so much fertile land and so many people with desire of producing, commercialize and sell, they don’t combine themselves and materialize an abundant offering of lemons in the market? Why is still Marabú the “king of the Cuban countryside” (go in a road trip by the highway to Pinar del Rio and you’ll see), while oranges, tangerines and -not to mention- grapefruits, go to the inventory of the exotic? When will the land belong to those who will make it produce and not of a State that sub-utilzes it in its abandoned parcels? Do I keep the hope or forget about the flavor of
lemons? (In Spanish!)