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« July 2007 | Main | September 2007 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » August 2007

By Pamela Jean on August 31, 2007

It's been two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, and still there are tens of thousands of families without homes. 30,000 families are scattered across the country in FEMA apartments, and many thousands of New Orleans families were evicted from FEMA apartments in the last year. Only 13,000 are in trailers. Thousands of FEMA trailers sit empty in Arkansas, locked and uninhabited, while tens of thousands of New Orleanians live in tents, on the street, or under bushes. Hardly any of the 77,000 rental units destroyed in New Orleans have been rebuilt.

The renaissance in America's most beleaguered city, such as it is, is a complex, dynamic and messy affair. Progress lives alongside stagnation, hope alongside despair. - Los Angeles Times, Aug. 25, 2007

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on August 31, 2007

As I drove into Turner Courts the other day, a mother quickly got out of her car and flagged me down. She explained that her son went to a Christian college last year and is unable to go back because they say he owes $6500. She doesn't understand how this could have happened and why the school didn't say anything last year. Her impression was that he didn't need any loans or extra money because Pell grants would pay for his college (Allow me to debunk that myth!). She was also concerned because she recognizes her own credit is bad and she knows if his education depends on her credit, he will not be able to attend college. Not only that, now that he owes this money, he will probably be blocked from entering any other university (even a less expensive one) as well.

Read more from this post here ...

By Pamela Jean on August 30, 2007

Two years ago this week, life changed completely for the people of New Orleans. Like Zola, I still grieve in the aftermath of our failure to provide timely and adequate aid to Katrina's survivors. Feeling very reluctant to allow this week to pass without giving proper focus on New Orleans, I decided that each day this coming week, I'll find ways to honor New Orleanians here.

Today, I'm writing a little bit about folks getting around in style and storm-torn kids finding some reasons to smile. Go on, turn the page, you'll be glad you did!

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 30, 2007

Last Monday, the day we "enjoyed" one of the largest crowds of people seeking assistance in our history as an organization, I witnessed a stark example of what I would call poverty's very ugly side. In mid-afternoon, as I walked across the street to my car, I noticed a young mother, an older woman and a very young boy preparing to get into their car to leave.

The hot, Texas sun was doing its work to make us all miserable.

Read more from this post here ...

By Lola Wheeler on August 29, 2007

Almost 7.2 million rural Americans were in poverty in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationwide, 36.5 million people, or 12.3 percent of the U.S. population, earned less than the poverty threshold of $20,794 a year for a family of four.

Grain and soybean prices, buoyed by the rush to create ethanol, have risen and have created a "boom" in some farming sectors. However, many believe that the primary benefactors of this "boom" are the large agri-businesses and not the American farm families or citizens living in small towns.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 29, 2007

lower-9th-ward-house-taken-2007.jpgTwo years ago today Hurricane Katrina roared across the Louisiana coast and into New Orleans.

What wasn't blown away drowned in the flood that followed. The levees failed. The city was devastated, with entire neighborhoods completely demolished.

I was in New Orleans on November 30, 2005 - three months after the storm. What I saw, I still cannot describe.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a young friend who grew up in New Orleans. Her parents still live in the city. They are among our dearest friends. Their home was destroyed. They had insurance. They want to rebuild, to reclaim what was lost. They don't want to give up.

Read more from this post here ...

By Glenn Staab on August 29, 2007

There's just so much stuff going on. Have you been reading the papers? I go online and read the Kansas papers, KC Star, Topeka Daily Capital, Hutch News and Wichita Eagle almost every day, along with the HDN. Not to mention, the MSN home page. For a news junkie and frustrated journalist, the Internet is a godsend.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ally Klimkoski on August 28, 2007

AP along with MTV did a recent study asking young people if they were happy. Its always fun to come up with a blanket study - but according to this mornings Forum with Michael Krasny on NPR who had Michael Greco an MTV Vice President talking further about the study - apparently they asked deeper questions rather than a yes or no and they did a kind of listening study where they actually examined things closer.

"The study found that overall, most American young people (aged 13-24) report being happy with their lives and are optimistic about the future. 65 percent of respondents say they are happy with the way things are going in their lives in general and 62 percent think they will be happier in the future than they are now.

"Parents, Family and Relationships - Parents are seen as an overwhelmingly positive influence in the lives of most young people. Remarkably, nearly half of respondents mention at least one of their parents as a hero. When asked "What one thing in life makes you most happy?" 46 percent of respondents say spending time with friends, family and loved ones.

This one is VERY interesting to me:

"Religion and spirituality are an integral part of happiness for most American young people. 44 percent say that religion and spirituality are either a very important or the single most important thing in their lives, with more than one in ten reporting the latter. And those for whom religion and spirituality play a bigger role in life tend to be happier. 80 percent of those who say spirituality is the most important thing in life say they are happy with life in general, compared with 60 percent of those who say that spirituality is not an important part of life at all."

Read more from this post here ...

By Nora Thomason on August 28, 2007

Senator John W. Warner (R-Virginia), one of the most influential Republican voices in Congress on national security, called on President Bush last Thursday to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in time for Christmas.

Warner's comments followed the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate that provided a mixed assessment on Iraq seven months after Bush ordered more U.S. troops to the country.

The report, produced by the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies, determined that "there have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq's security." But it predicted that the Iraqi government "will become more precarious" in the next six to 12 months, with little hope of reaching accommodation among political factions.

Read more from this post here ...

By Pamela Jean on August 28, 2007

The recent changing of just a few words in a complex piece of legislation (that the majority of lawmakers didn't bother to read or understand thoroughly) now has the potential to fundamentally alter the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in huge and significant ways.

A 30-year old law, FISA was meant to protect ordinary citizens from being spied on by the President of the United States unless a warrant was obtained in court and a judge provided oversight. Now, a recent law passed by Congress eliminates that warrant requirement and eliminates the court oversight.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 28, 2007

A good number of readers "tune in" here to debate and debunk much of what I write and believe. That's welcomed, actually. Part of the genius of the blogging is that it gets people "talking" who otherwise might not have the opportunity. At times it grows frustrating and tedious, but I continue to believe in the process.

With all of this in mind, I couldn't help myself yesterday. I caught myself wishing (more than once) that some of my fiercest antagonists were with me.

Read more from this post here ...

By Simone Davis on August 27, 2007

suffrage4.gifThey were spit upon, beaten, jailed, vilified in the pulpits, and sometimes scorned by members of their own gender. They were determined and courageous risk takers who took on a government and several presidents of the most powerful nation in the world.

These women fought for a basic democratic principle. They simply wanted the right to vote in their own country. They wanted the right to participate in their own democracy.

For years, the women were politely ignored. When our nation entered World War I on April 6, 1917, their placards became more pointed and their protests more determined. Their signs taunted President Woodrow Wilson, accusing him of hypocrisy. How could he send sons, husbands and fathers to die in a war for democracy when he denied voting rights to all the mothers, wives, daughters and grandmothers here at home? Was this really a democracy worthy of these sacrifices?

Read more from this post here ...

By Pamela Jean on August 26, 2007

Read more from this post here ...

By Lucy Belnora on August 26, 2007

In September, the White House is going to issue its report on the "surge" of troops in Iraq. They'll try to convince Congress (and American citizens) that the occupation of Iraq and Bush's "surge" are working. The White House and many members of Congress will then try to drag out the war longer.

The truth is the escalation has been a failure. Now is the time for us to make this very clear. The surge was a mistake. The occupation is a failure. Bush's plans have failed. We have to make it clear to our representatives in Washington that we want our troops home safe and we want them home soon.

This Tuesday, there are over 650 gatherings planned in cities and town all over America. Is there one near you?

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 26, 2007

David Van Biema published a story this week in Time magazine describing the doubts of Mother Teresa and her long struggle with "spiritual darkness" - her personal experience of a "dark night of the soul."

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and -- except for a five-week break in 1959 -- never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything."

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 25, 2007

Our world and its cities are extremely and increasingly violent. Have you noticed: much of the death, destruction and division follows almost gleefully in the wake of one religion or the other, including mine and including yours.

I've been wondering. What if all religion and every "important" question associated with religion and the theologies of the various religions were done away with except for one?

Read more from this post here ...

By Alice Pfeifer on August 24, 2007

Will all those with delicate ears please leave the room? I am about to say something that nice nuns shouldn't say.

The most ignorant, mean-spirited person I ever met in my life was a bag boy at a local grocery store. He attended a high school whose name shall go unmentioned, but as a representative of that school he soon made me wonder what the heck they are teaching over there. Before I met him, I had always held great respect for both high schools in my fair city. Anyway, this boy was ever so quick to voice an opinion on all social and political issues, but somehow every single social and political issue trapped inside his skull was subordinated in importance to but one issue alone: what he termed "killing babies."

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 24, 2007

homeless-man1.jpgEarlier this week following a meeting of our Board of Directors, I exited our headquarters building down the back stairs.

As I walked to my car, I noticed a blanket spread out on a patch of grass beneath a small shrub near the edge of the parking lot. Stretched out on the blanket was an old man. He appeared to be asleep, even though it was at least an hour before dark arrived and settled in.

I approached him to say hello and to make sure he was okay. As I did, I startled him.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ally Klimkoski on August 24, 2007

This has been a difficult past week for me as my department at work got cut and I am now sadly unemployed. So - before I start my blog I want to give a huge shout out to the folks who have really stepped up to help me find work in the political youth outreach world. It's true that you never really know who your peeps are until you need them and the people that have offered their contacts or passed around my resume have been overwhelmingly thoughtful for which I am exponentially grateful.

So, let me kick off my first day of unemployment by addressing an important and too often ignored political topic: Volunteers.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on August 23, 2007

tent-revival-3.jpgRecently, I broke down and cleaned out my office, including all my "piles" of stuff set aside to read, use and/or file. Every time I engage in this purging process I find treasure and trash!

Much of what I uncover makes me wonder why I ever set it aside.

But, I always find jewels that make me sorry they got lost in my clutter. Here are words that ended up in one of my journals...

Read more from this post here ...

Earlier posts in this month:

Sacco and Vanzetti, August 22, 2007
Self-Awareness, August 22, 2007
Newark: The bloodbath, the wing nut and drugs, August 22, 2007
The Psychology of Degradation, August 21, 2007
To Grasp the Depth of the Pain, August 21, 2007
Politics: No Directions, Lines, or Pendulums, August 20, 2007
Iraq by the Numbers, August 19, 2007
Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us, August 19, 2007
The Myth of Amazing Grace, August 19, 2007
What Game? Who's Winning? You? Me? When?, August 19, 2007
Do not lose heart. We were made for these times., August 18, 2007
A Few Idle Questions about John Edwards' Hair, August 18, 2007
Georgia YD Smackdown, August 17, 2007
Community Development: Positive Paradigm, August 17, 2007
There Goes Ozzie!, August 17, 2007
Do you ever get tired?, August 17, 2007
A Few Idle Questions on a Fine Summer's Day, August 17, 2007
Amazing Grace, August 16, 2007
Cheney Was Honest in 1994, August 15, 2007
White Water Rafting in Colorado, August 15, 2007
Labor and Capital, August 14, 2007
Immigration as Advantage, August 13, 2007
Volunteer Labor -- Wal-Mart in Mexico, August 13, 2007
We Have No Record of Your Support for the President, August 12, 2007
Zero Accountability for Bush's Powerful Burglars, August 11, 2007
Congress to Bush: Stop Wasting Money Like a Drunken Sailor, August 11, 2007
Behind Enemy Lines in Garden City, August 11, 2007
Partnership: Everyone Surrenders, Everyone Contributes, August 11, 2007
Children, Families and Health Care, August 10, 2007
Ordinary people are the only point, August 9, 2007
Labor is Not a Commodity, August 9, 2007
Boyda's Profile in Courage, August 8, 2007
Wyatt, put me in time out!, August 8, 2007
Unity & the Hopeless, August 7, 2007
People Everywhere, Beware of the Naked Person!, August 6, 2007
Dean's YK07 Speech, August 5, 2007
411: Bloggers, Wristband Poll, & Top Candidates, August 5, 2007
Taking Part in Stories, August 5, 2007
Who's Progressive?, August 4, 2007
ATLAS: Brooks, Obama and Edwards on ending poverty, August 3, 2007
Responsibilities of Bloggers, August 3, 2007
Thanking the Republican powers that be, August 2, 2007
Church Lady Meets Presidential Politics, August 2, 2007
Community Organizing & People Power, August 2, 2007
Supercapitalism, by Robert Reich, August 1, 2007
You Have No Rights, by Matthew Rothschild, August 1, 2007
No Turning Back, by Estelle Freeman, August 1, 2007
Got a Bad Boss?, August 1, 2007
Immigration Not Viewed as a Local Issue, August 1, 2007
Fair Pay Act Passed by House, August 1, 2007

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