Tag Archives: social justice

NH State House Watch

A service of the American Friends Service Committee, we publish it here for your easy review.  You can also access this through the AFSC website and also by requesting to receive this summary by email at the AFSC website.

2017, Issue 2

In this issue:

Chris Sununu, our new governor, was officially sworn in yesterday and took the place of Maggie Hassan on the state’s web-site as well as in the corner office of the State House.  The website includes his bio, but not his inaugural speech, which he delivered without a prepared text.

Lacking that, we recommend this recap from our friends at NH Labor News.

In his campaign and again in the inaugural speech, Sununu was clear that enacting “right-to-work” legislation would be one of his top priorities.  For now, suffice it to say, “right to work” is fundamentally about weakening the power of organized labor by obstructing the human rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.  In so doing, it obstructs the ability of all workers to earn decent wages.  For that matter, it also obstructs the rights of employers to bargain with their workers as they see fit.

We can’t decide if “right to work for less” or “work without rights” is a better name for the legislation in question.  Let us know which you prefer, but the key point for now is that the first item on the Senate Calendar for the coming week is a hearing Tuesday at 1 pm on SB 11, the first “right to work” bill.  See below for details, and we hope to see you at the State House then.

A recent story about the first baby of the year born in Concord revealed that the baby’s father was fired from his job because he went to the hospital with his wife when she went into labor. That this is happening at a time when our new governor and legislative leaders says they support a “right to work” is an almost cosmic coincidence. The IBEW, a union representing electrical workers, has offered the newly unemployed new father the opportunity to apply for a paid apprenticeship.

This story underscores the need for workers in our state to have more of job protections and opportunities provided through the kind of collective bargaining agreements that will be illegal if “right to work” becomes law.

Some 40 members of NH Voices of Faith were in the hallways before the inauguration carrying signs bearing messages such as, “Attacks on Workers’ Rights are Wrong” and “Protect Voting Rights for All; We Shall Not Be Moved.”

Gun Rights and Voting Rights

Also high on the political agenda is the so-called “constitutional carry” provision, which would repeal the current licensing requirement for carrying a concealed handgun. That will also come up next week.  We are more than disturbed that the ability to carry weapons without registration is being lifted up as a fundamental right at the same time the ability of citizens to register to vote is facing increasing restrictions.

Debates Over House Rules

The House met for its first session Wednesday and cast two interesting votes rejecting rule changes proposed by the Speaker.  The very first vote of the session was on whether or not to institute a dress code via a rule stating, “When the House is in session, all persons in the House chamber shall be dressed in proper business attire.”  The orientation manual for legislators (which apparently does not constitute “rules”) already states, “It is expected that all members will wear suitable attire. Men are expected to wear suit jackets and ties and women are expected to wear business attire.”  In any case, the new dress code language was voted down, in a roll call vote of 151-213, thus eliminating the need for a vice-principal to enforce it and send offenders home.

On a more serious note, a proposal from the Speaker and his leadership team to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee was voted down, 192-172. In recent sessions, the committee has often been a venue for contentious grievances over personal custody disputes, which prompted the push to abolish it and disperse its responsibilities to other committees.  But the Division of Children, Youth, and Families is under serious scrutiny following the deaths of two toddlers who were killed by their mothers while under DCYF supervision, and an independent review of the agency has recommended many changes, including hiring more than two dozen social workers. With that on the minds of House members, the majority dissented from the proposal to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee. This week’s House Calendar names the new members of the committee, which will presumably have a lot to say about how the state will overcome the short-comings identified in the report.  We wish them well, and hope for a state budget that provides adequate funding.

Also of note was a proposed amendment to House Rule 100, which would mean that lobbyists would not be able to testify before House committees until after constituents finished their testimony. This change was soundly defeated, in a roll call vote of 121-242. Leadership on both sides were opposed.

There are no House or Senate voting sessions scheduled at this time. There are many new legislators taking office this session, so next week most committees are having orientation sessions.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, January 19
Judiciary, Room 100, SH
9:00 AM  SB 12, an act repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.  This bill is back, and has been mentioned as a priority by Governor Sununu. The Senate is starting the new year off with a bang.

Commerce, Representatives Hall 

1:00 PM SB 11,  prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.  This is the first of 2017’s “Right to Work for Less” (or “Work without Rights”) bills.  In addition to Governor Sununu, the proposal has backing from Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and other anti-worker lobbying groups.  The concept originated with white supremacists in the 1930s as a way to prevent black and white workers from uniting.  States were given authority to implement “right to work” by the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.  AFSC-NH has consistently opposed this going back to 1979.  We’ll have more to say on this soon.

Pro-worker groups, including NH Voices of Faith, will gather in the hallway outside Representatives Hall from noon to 1 pm.

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, January 10

Election Law, Room 308, LOB

11:50 AM HB 218, relative to activities at polling places. This bill would prohibit the distribution of campaign materials and electioneering inside the polling place.

12:10 PM HB 253, relative to campaign materials at the polling place.  This one eliminates the prohibition on wearing campaign materials intended to influence voters at the polling place.

House Finance and Ways and Means Joint Hearing with Senate Finance and Ways and Means in Rooms 210-211
10:00 AM  The first in a series of economic and fiscal briefings on the way to creating the next state budget. These hearings will be held twice a week for at least the next few weeks. Information about the presentations can be found in the House Calendar.

Legislative Administration, Room 104, LOB

9:20 AM HB 110, requiring members of the press covering the legislature to wear name tags when in the House or the LOB.  The bill states, “each member of the press corps covering the proceedings of the general court shall wear on his or her outer garment a clearly visible name tag when working in the state house or the legislative office building.  The name tag shall consist of the person’s first and last name and the name of the person’s organization.”  Arnie and Maggie are already required to wear lobbyist badges when they are at the State House. As the publishers of State House Watch and co-hosts of “State House Watch Radio,” would they be required to wear a media badge as well?  SHW researcher Susan Bruce also writes a newspaper column, has a blog, and is the co-host of “The Attitude” on WNHN-FM. Would she be required to wear 4 media badges, or one big badge with a list?  We don’t know.  But Arnie remembers that the last time a bill of this nature was proposed, members of the State House press corps said that if it were to pass they would comply by wearing their name tags on their posteriors.

10:30 AM HCR 2, a resolution supporting efforts to ensure that students from NH have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities.

11:00 AM HB 95, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of transferring authority over the university system of NH’s budget to the legislature.  Can you say “micro-management?”

Wednesday, January 11

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB

1:15 PM HB 279.  This bill makes changes to the indoor smoking act.  Under this bill, smoking would not be prohibited in public conveyances that are privately owned (we think that means taxis), restaurants, grocery stores, and cocktail lounges. Smoking would be prohibited in privately owned residences where the owner has declared smoking prohibited.  This leaves us wordless – and potentially breathless.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

2:30 PM HB 282 This changes prison work release provisions to add the pursuit of higher education as a potential condition for early release. Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, which backs this bill, points out that “The bill gives the Commissioner of Corrections authority to approve this work or school release for a prisoner, even if he or she cannot afford a lawyer.”

Thursday, January 12

Education, Room 207, LOB

1:00 PM  HB 155, which increases funding for pupils attending all-day kindergarten.

The Return of “State House Watch Radio”

Our first radio show of the new year will be Monday, January 9, on WNHN-FM from 5 to 6 pm.  Our guest will be Andru Volinksy, who was sworn in yesterday as a member of the Executive Council.  You can catch us live at 94.7 FM in the Concord area or live-streamed at www.wnhnfm.org.  The show will be re-broadcast at 8 AM on Tuesday.  Podcasts will also be available shortly after the show, thanks to Fred Portnoy, our producer.

Announcements and Events

Saturday, January 7, 2017

PORTSMOUTH – “Keeping it Peaceful,” an introduction to nonviolent protest with Arnie Alpert, 10 AM to noon, at South Church, Portsmouth.  This workshop is being organized for participants in the January 21 women’s march, but others are welcome to attend.  Please register here so we can estimate how many people will be there.

Sunday, January 8

PORTSMOUTH – Civil Rights Sundays, a weekly protest in Market Square, Portsmouth, hosted by Occupy NH Seacoast, focused on opposition to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Attorney General.  From 3-4 PM.  Info on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 10

NASHUA – “Electing a President: Popular Vote or Electoral College?,” a talk hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Nashua, Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua, 7 PM.  Info on Facebook.

Thursday, January 12

CONCORD – “Know Your Rights as a Worker,” a free, interactive workshop sponsored by AFSC, 6 to 8 PM at NH Catholic Charities, 176 Loudon Road, Concord.  More info on Facebook.

CONCORD – “Learning from History: the Nashville Sit-In Campaign,” a workshop with Joanne Sheehan of the War Resisters League, 6:45 to 9 PM at the Concord UU Church, 274 Pleasant Street, Concord NH.  Sponsored by the Building a Culture of Peace Forum.  Free and open to the public, with donations accepted.   More info on the web, on Facebook, or by calling LR Berger at (603) 496-1056.

Friday, January 13

CONCORD – “Investing in New Hampshire’s Future: Strategies to Maintain a Strong Workforce and a Vibrant Economy,” the NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s 4th annual budget and policy conference, 8:30 AM to 4 PM at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.  See more here.

Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

MANCHESTER– Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration, St. George Greek Orthodox Community Center, 650 Hanover Street, Manchester, 2 to 5 PM.  Robert Azzi will be the guest speaker.  Eva Castillo will receive the 2017 Martin Luther King Award.  Info on Facebook or at www.mlknh.org.

MLK Day events will also take place in Exeter, Hollis, Hanover, and elsewhere.  Watch this space for updates.

Friday, January 20

CONCORD–“Vigil of Hope and Concern” at the time Donald Trump takes the oath of office.  Meet in front of State House 11:30 to 11:45 AM, silent vigil noon to 12:15 PM, followed by gathering and facilitated discussion at 4 Park Street.  Sponsored by AFSC, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, NH Peace Action, and the Equality Center.

Saturday, January 21

CONCORD–NH Women’s Day of Action and Unity. “We will unite at the New Hampshire State House in Concord in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and in support of our rights, our safety, our health, our families, and our environment. Together, we will send a message to elected officials in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. that we will stand together to protect the progress we’ve made. We won’t go back!”  10 AM to 3 PM.  More info here.

With very best wishes,
Maggie and Arnie

PS – Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook.  Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us.  After all, we are your Friends.

AFSC’s New Hampshire “State House Watch” newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights.  We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change.  Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce is a State House Watch researcher and writer.  Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.

“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.

Your donations make our work possible.  Click the “DONATE” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!

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Something to be Thankful For : Struggles, Seeds … and Surprises

A longtime friend, teacher and respected activist, Joe Ramsey, out of Boston sent this article to us to view.  Its published by the magazine Counterpunch and we have the privilege of his permission to republish it here.  When we think about our own efforts at activism which entails a lot of work on persuasion please consider Mr. Ramsey’s thoughts, especially when round the table with folks who possibly may strongly disagree with your points.  Sometimes forcing an agreement at the time, from those who disagree may not always be the best strategy:

Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises

In a world that often feels like its spiraling towards chaos, here’s something I’m thankful for. Something that gives me–dare I say it–hope.

A former student from two years back stops by during my office hours, unannounced. He’s now a junior, thinking of a senior honors thesis, maybe grad school. I’m not surprised by this part; he was one of the sharpest students in that seminar (“Literature and Society” it was called).  A *very* smart reader, and a good writer, too.

I *am* surprised to see him in my office though.  He often seemed frustrated in our class, annoyed at others for not being as up to speed as he was–like they were holding him back.  (And like maybe I, too, as teacher, was complicit in this.)  At times, he came off to me as conservative and skeptical and maybe even narrowly out for himself, as if he were approaching our course more as a demanding customer, rather than as part of a community.  Like he just wanted his “A” so he could move on.

When the topic of economic inequality came up one day in class, he was that white guy who argued passionately against the idea of raising the minimum wage to fifteen $/hour, because as a trained and devoted EMT *he* hardly made that much…and should fast food workers really get the same pay that a medical professional earns? Wouldn’t giving these lowly service-workers a raise negate all the effort that *he* had put in to bettering himself?

Needless to say, we had us some struggles.

Seeing him at my door, my first thought was that maybe he was hard up for a letter of recommendation.  Some application deadline forcing him my way. I had, after all, given him his “A.”

But now here we are sitting in my office, and he’s leading us into a discussion about critical theory, literature, and marxism, about Jameson and Lukacs, Taylorism and totality. (He’s skeptical; totality seems too seamless and pessimistic). It’s clear that he has been reading whatever he can get his hands on.  And now we’re talking about capitalism and the limited semi-autonomy of the public sphere and cultural works within neoliberalism, and suddenly he turns to me and says:

“Man, that discussion we had in class about the minimum wage, and the way you pushed me to rethink my position…that really had an impact on me…That was really important.”*

And then we go on discussing, about how it’s possible for people to become psychologically invested in positions and identities that actually are not in their own best economic interest–not to mention being ethically problematic–and how this relates to race and to gender and nationalism as well as class…and how maybe it might just be possible for literature, for culture, for classrooms, for people to resist individualism and the cold cash nexus, to carve out spaces for human connection and solidarity.  How maybe the possibility of a fundamentally different kind of world can be glimpsed through the cracks in this one…if we learn how to look for it.

We shook hands goodbye, but I wanted to hug him.seed sprouting sepia

*

And this is why I’m thankful:  Because principled struggles with people plant seeds and sometimes these seeds find soil to sprout, even when you don’t expect it.

Because sometimes our assumptions about other people’s social views can prove to be one-sided, or even flat out wrong.*

Because situations change, and surprises happen.

And it hits me: this is why I don’t give up on people who say backwards shit.

And this is why we must defend the humanities.

And this is why we must support and defend public education.

And this is why we shouldn’t reduce people to the flat floor of their weakness: they might just vault from their greatest strength.

***

Not just in classrooms, but in our broader social movement, it seems a crucial point to bear in mind.

Our impatient and cynical times encourage us to give up on those who express confused, antisocial, or backward views.  The Twitter-verse entices us to score points at the expense of the problematic and the privileged. Indeed, with so much work to be done, nothing that anyone says seems quite good enough.

And certainly, as events in Minneapolis and elsewhere make clear, there are genuine enemies of the struggle out there, people who cannot be reasoned with, who have declared war on the movement for social justice, who must simply be defeated.  Forces against whom the people must be defended.

Yet it remains crucial to resist the urge to lump those who express bad ideas in with the ‘Enemy’ camp. The temptation to give up on everyday people is a suicidal urge for any moment that seeks truly radical and emancipatory change.  Instead, it behooves us to be patient with those who still might be reached, including even those who argue most vociferously against us.

We must continue to struggle, to be sure–there is no facile optimism here–but patiently and humbly, having faith in the basic decency of people.

If we can work to unite with strengths to overcome weaknesses, rather than focusing on weaknesses to undercut strengths, we all might discover something surprising to be thankful for.

* Note: In a follow-up email, my student clarified the situation further: “I was all for raising the minimum wage,” he tells me, “I think there was just some general anxiety about a) losing my privilege and b) the move away from the emphasis placed on the individual, one in which I felt that my individual accomplishments and “value” might be compromised.” As he added, “I think there’s a weird sort of internal conflict in more typical liberals who still hold individualism as an ideal in society, which is really difficult to reconcile with the desire for significant social change.” Well said. 

Joseph G. Ramsey is an activist and writer living in Boston. He is a contributing editor at Red Wedge, a co-editor at Cultural Logic: an electronic journal of Marxist theory and practice, and a contributing board member at Socialism and Democracy.

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Action Needed! NH Domestic Violence Services Funding Threatened by GOP House Bill

urgent

 

 

House representative David Bickford of New Durham (R), representing Strafford, District 3 has sponsored the bill, HB 654 that aims to eliminate the sole source of funding for domestic violence services; a portion of marriage license fees.

Action needed now! A hearing on this bill is to be held on February 2nd at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, as explained below, can you make the hearing to testify against this bill? 

Can you call Mr. Bickford and the members of the committee hearing and considering this bill?  Information on David Bickford:

Strafford- District 03
Seat #:2011
Incumbent

Home Address:
183 Brackett Road
New Durham, NH  03855-2329
Phone: (603)859-7899
Email: davidabickford51@yahoo.com

Currently the bill is in the house finance committee, please see the list of committee members at the bottom of this post, please contact them all by phone or email and tell them to stop this attack on domestic violence funding.  New Hampshire always works to find inventive ways to fund programs, the use of a small amount from the marriage license fee makes complete sense, takes from no one and works as a means to preserve healthy marriages and families in New Hampshire.

As explained below in a plea for action from the public, this bill would effectively starve the only source of steady funding that any domestic violence services have in the state.  As we outlined previously in our post Domestic Violence Top Killer in New Hampshire, the lives of women and children hang in the balance when it comes to reaching them in time.  Making services such as educational outreach, court advocacy , crisis outreach via phone and then shelters saves lives.  Representative Bickford’s thinking behind this bill defy the imagination; as explained even in the text of the bill, only $38 is taken out of the marriage license fee and appropriated to the domestic violence fund.  Bickford proposes instead to put these funds directly to the state general fund.  What has to wonder, does Bickford not value the lives of women and children?  Does the general fund need that $38 more than a woman or child needs a safe way out of violence?

We’ll let the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence speak further on this:

HB654 redirects a dedicated fund for domestic violence to the General Fund

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2015                                    
Contact: Amanda Grady Sexton -603-548-9377, 
Amanda@nhcadsv.org

(Concord, NH) On Monday February 2nd at 11:15 in LOB 210-211 there is a critical hearing taking place for a bill that threatens to take away the sole source of state funding for domestic violence services in New Hampshire. The Domestic Violence Prevention Program (DVPP) is mainly funded through a portion of the state marriage license fees. ($38 of each $45 license.) Sponsored by Representative David Bickford, HB654 would redirect DVPP money to the general fund. (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0654.pdf)

If passed this measure would be devastating for the state’s 14 crisis centers that have been struggling to provide services over the last several years due to funding reductions. In 2013 these crisis centers managed to serve over 15,000 people, and these funds could mean the difference between life and death.

Last year members of this legislature passed an unprecedented number of domestic violence bills including Joshua’s Law which is considered model legislation by the rest of the country. The Coalition is concerned that without adequate funding for victim services these laws will not be effective.

Survivors, as well as members of the Coalition, law enforcement, and other legislatures are expected to testify at the hearing. Please contact Amanda Grady Sexton at the Coalition for more information.

This bill will be considered by the house finance committee.  The finance committee is a Standing Committee, that is it is one that is essential to basic functions of the house, considers most bills and always exists.  It is an important committee and thus is also very large.  Because Republicans hold the majority in the house, it is currently majority Republican.

Also, because its large, we will simply provide a link to the page that lists all the members and information about the committee.  The members’ names are linked to their respective house information listing, with phone numbers and email addresses.  We recommend also that you make sure you contact the committee chair, Neal Kurk a longtime Republican representative.

NH House Finance Committee

We’ll leave you with this video on domestic violence, One Voice, A 15 Minute Short Film on Domestic Violence:

 

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Random Catch from Facebook

Tomorrow marks the termination of the Tower of London, a remembrance of British troops who served in World War I.  Ceramic poppies were made and planted in honor of each soldier killed in the conflict. While the establishment makes their own remembrance of war, we prefer those who make the deeper observations about war and human assumptions and social systems that support it.

Writing from Core Luminous

The Irony of the image of a bloody moat around a kings safe house and prison, the power protected by the sea of blood, the blood of men and women .. real living people, their lives utterly thrashed in the name of power.

The fact is that we live within a social system of hierarchical power, which is violent, extremely dangerous and at present causing great harms. It’s a similar dynamic to an abuse relationship that has become Institutionalized *(-if a number of people, who share a psychological issue, build a social structure, it will carry and express their psychology within it.)

and then, over time, as the Institutions garner more power, they never let go of it, and in time the Institutions ‘needs’ – to enhance it’s power and status, to run a bigger budget, deal with competition, etc – takes priority and so the cycle continues, to replace human community needs, and the institutional behavior becomes more embedded.

 Writing from Keeb Questions

This is very strange, almost like a river of blood spewing from one of the windows of the Tower of London, a venue of torture and horror. We rarely question the relationship between dependency and deception; in the space between power is able to rise and take hold. Power exists because we are not sovereign. Tyrants, those that pretend to be your friend (your government) and those that don’t (your dictator), exist because we put them there. Don’t say i am fighting to preserve my way of life, that way of life is corrupt. If you want to end war give up being British. Queen, country, all that rot.

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November 5, 1855

Today in Labor History

m07-elec-post-480Eugene V. Debs – labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president, and first president of the American Railway Union — is born. “The Republican and Democratic parties, or to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.”

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Senator Mary Landrieu Reminds Southerners of that Peculiar Institution

Yesterday an NBC reporter asked Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu why Obama’s approval ratings in the south were consistently so low.  Without hesitation Senator Landrieu (Democrat) responded after noting that while the south has strong economic ties to the oil and gas industry, there’s something else, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

No kidding.  The degree of vitriol, blaming and shaming that has been directed at Obama has surpassed anything in history, besides possibly presidents that deserved such treatment such as Franklin Pierce or Richard Nixon.  Couple that with the resurrection of Jim Crow type threats, such as hanging nooses in front yards to using racist stereotypes to demean and degrade the president, one has to wonder sometimes what century people are living in.

No doubt the Republicans don’t like being called ignorant bigots, but look at their policies and the statements of many politicians and especially the expressions that burst on the public scene within Tea Party rallies.  Someone called the dog whistles so loud they all came running out of the pen.  Now here we are with Obama having served two terms and experiencing obstructionism unlike any other president, save possibly prior to the civil war when the south drew together in opposition to the threat of abolition.  But this is 2014 isn’t it?  Why do southerners and conservatives draw back and bare their teeth when anyone dare mention the ‘R’ word: Racist!  The attacks on Landrieu for her comments contain all the predictable smear.

Being called out can get pretty uncomfortable, especially when its true and you’ve got no possible way to evade the obvious.  Hence the “conservative” who supports policies that deny the existence of racism in this country, that want everyone who suffers from racism or inequality to just “get over it”.  Sure, but why can’t conservatives just “get over it” with being called out for denying history? (Oh wait, there’s more recent evidence of Republicans not being racists! Check out this from Alternet!) Possibly because getting over it would mean then addressing issues that persist that relate directly to the construct of division of people and communities by skin color in order to keep bondage and general oppression in place.

slave bracelets

America will be forever chained to its past until it deals with it and heals the wounds.

Considering that Africans, although kidnapped and held against their will, managed to build the south and provide much of the profit for the northern merchant class as well for at least a good 200 years, you’d think the south might have a wee bit of gratitude.  If one adds to that the period after emancipation when black folks still experienced a system that locked them into a state of servitude by skin color separation and social ghettos one would wonder why anyone would even dare to deny that a system of race based oppression grew in this country.   The mansions and plantation houses from Virginia to Mississippi visited by people all over the country are usually fawned upon for their splendor and architectural beauty.  Does anyone recognize or attempt to understand the pain and suffering that went on at those places? The unpaid hands who built them?

There are so many questions that must be asked if justice will ever be reached on the damage caused by slavery and the social system derived specifically to keep it in place and everyone in their place; including poor white folks.  Instead,  when any mention of the former “Peculiar Institution” and its relationship to the south occurs, an unprecedented howl of righteous fervor rises from below.america be like

Unlike most other accusations of racism directed at the south or conservatives in general, Landrieu’s cannot be shunned as mere criticism from uppity northerners or carpet-baggers, because she is actually one of their own.  Landrieu has had the audacity to break the unwritten code of the south wherein public figures shy away from public discussion relating to that Peculiar Institution and Reconstruction.  You can talk all day and the rest of your life about the “The War of Northern Aggression” and how President Andrew Johnson’s quick work turned Reconstruction into Deconstruction and put former rebel officers (treasoners) back into political positions and returned a defacto culture of slavery to the south.  But never ever mention that the south had anything to do with forcing an entire mass of people into bondage and hard labor to build the original American aristocracy, both north and south.

There’s too much at stake as everyone knows, as every white southerner has always known.  As every white southerner who ever inherited any wealth derived from the antebellum period knows, admission of guilt is only the beginning to opening the floodgates of justice.  As always, those who beat their chests the loudest about something usually have the most to hide. In this instance, the so-called “pro-liberty” and “pro freedom” party would rather keep the rate at which liberty and freedom are meted out, under their sole control.

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Domestic Violence Top Killer in New Hampshire

woman alone 3

October has passed and along with it the recognized month to remember domestic violence.  Many communities throughout the country had candle-light vigils to remember victims of domestic violence or walks at night to highlight the need for a safe community at any time of the day or night.

This is a sensitive topic and for those in domestic violence situations, such information could be threatening to an abuser.

IF YOU BELIEVE SOMEONE MONITORS THE COMPUTER YOU ARE PRESENTLY USING, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT SAFE INTERNET USE.  IF YOU THINK LINKING TO THIS ISSUE ON YOUR COMPUTER MAY COMPROMISE YOUR SAFETY PLEASE SHUT THIS PAGE DOWN AND GO TO A LIBRARY OR OTHER SAFE PLACE TO ACCESS LINKS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.

The need to recognize the signs of domestic violence in one’s life or someone else’s never ends and the importance of discussing the issue within the community never ends either.

In an effort to help people hold in their minds the importance of awareness of domestic violence we’ve compiled a list of statistics on domestic violence in New Hampshire and some links for further information.  If you are or know someone who may be in a relationship or living in a family or cohabiting with an abusive person, please read the information below so that you can be a positive catalyst for change in someone’s life or find help for yourself.

Even if you know no one who is suffering from violence or abuse or aren’t suffering from domestic violence yourself, arming yourself with the facts below and going further into the links to learn more will open your eyes to the real terrorism against women: violence at home.  Armed with the proper information you can be a fighter for change!

Please read on:

First some statistics on domestic violence incidents nationally and in New Hampshire:

– According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, 3 women die everyday due to domestic violence

– According to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program a woman is beaten every 9 seconds in the US

– From the same site, “An AMA report shows that every five years as many women are killed by their intimate partners as men, and women killed in the Viet Nam War … 54,000.”

– Cases of domestic violence cross race and class lines leading to the well known conclusion that people of all races and classes throughout America are potential victims of domestic violence.

– In 85% of domestic violence cases women are the victims – National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

– According to the 9th NH Domestic Violence Fatality Review of 2012, while New Hampshire has a low homicide rate “domestic violence is a causal factor in 92% of the state’s homicides and suicides.”

– Women were victims in 67% percent of domestic violence fatalities in New Hampshire with 56% being by a partner and 31% by a family member.

– Out of the 53% of cases in which the perpetrator had a known history of domestic violence, only 6% of their victims had sought crisis center services prior to their death with only 4% having any protective order in place,

– Over half of the perpetrators of a domestic violence fatality had no known history of any substance abuse.

– In all cases nationally, the presence of a firearm in the home exponentially increases the incidence of serious injury or death of the victim.

What can I do?

If you suspect you or a close friend or relative are a victim of domestic violence or see it creeping up in a relationship, please seek help or assistance in getting help for someone.  Resources exist in New Hampshire and below are some links to assist in your search.

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Resources

A Safe Place

YWCA

How do you know if you are in an abusive relationship?

Click here for a quiz to take on your relationship profile and an interesting graphic; the Power and Control Wheel helps in visualizing the development of violence in a relationship.

If you know someone at your workplace possibly suffering from abuse, what should you do?

This informational pamphlet has tips on how to help someone you work with who might be experiencing violence at home. Domestic Violence: A Guide for Employees

If you live outside of New Hampshire, below are national resources as well that can guide you to help locations and contacts within your state:

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

 

 

 

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Carpenters Get Hot on Cheating Contractors

whatever 011On Thursday in Seabrook, NH, the carpenter’s local 118 got busy drawing attention to large contractors cheating labor out of pay and benefits and the state out of revenue. Focusing on a drywall company known as Metro-Walls, the carpenters held what they call a “banner line” to inform passersby of this issue.

The carpenters made their intent clear to remain in front of the construction site as long as Metro-Walls continued operating in violation of the law.

“Missclassification is the biggest problem in the industry right now, its destroying the industry slow but sure. We definitely intend to fight this to the bitter end, we’re not going anywhere, as long as misclassification continues, we’ll be on the front lines.”

“The real victims here are the guys being misclassified and they don’t even know it.” said Johnnie Berry, organizer for Carpenter’s Local 118.

Missclassification of workers involves the practice of cheating works out of workman’s compensation, unemployment eligibility and any future social security benefits.  Since the employer pays either all or a portion of the costs for these programs through payroll deductions, the incentive is high for unscrupulous employers to skirt payment of any of these, keep the employee entirely “off the books” and pay the employee cash instead, or “under the table” as commonly referred to.

We contacted Jim Craig, the Commissioner of Labor whose department handles the enforcement of labor law in New Hampshire. We asked to what extent its a problem in New Hampshire, “It hasn’t been qualified yet in New Hampshire, but I think there’s an enormous underground economy, I think its a national problem.”

We asked about why enforcement seems too slow for many, “You know the trouble with this is these guys move fast, ” explaining that in the construction business in particular a contractor may be on a project for a limited time and also the department handles many investigations that complicate their ability to allocate manpower on just this issue, “We also have to investigate many other labor issues.” he said adding, “We’ve come a long way — we have better enforcement, we have a couple inspectors working just on this issue now.”

We also asked Mr. Craig about the process wherein those found in violation often receive reduced fines and as such operate with labor fines as a cost of doing business, “We’re trying to change that and one way is with attorneys representing the department and we’re working on trying to change the definition of employee, making it more clear.”

As a result misclassification, employers unfairly compete for large contracts due to their reduced labor cost and also avoid responsibility for accidents or injuries on the job.  These costs then fall to the public in lost work time, unpaid medical care and strains on local assistance programs to deal with basic unmet needs to workers and families.

Metro-Walls is one of many companies working on two shopping center expansion projects on Lafayette Road in Seabrook, NH and has a substantial history of labor law violations according to reports made by Local 118 of the New England Regional Carpenters, Manchester New Hampshire.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road.  Metro-Walls is contracted for hanging sheetrock.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road, Seabrook, NH.  Metro-Walls holds the contract to hang sheetrock.

The Department of Professional Employees provides a detailed explanation of the most common types of misclassification on their website here.

More information can be found at the IRS website Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Contractor?

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Undressing the N-Word

Moving In, by Norman Rockwell, inspired by integration efforts in Park Forest, Illinois.  How would the utterance of that word effect the potential relationship illustrated?

Moving In, by Norman Rockwell, inspired by integration efforts in Park Forest, Illinois. How would the utterance of that word effect the potential relationship illustrated?

Ran across a well written commentary by writer H. Lewis Smith on why no one should use the N-word in any context in the English language.  While this commentary is addressed to African-American folks most specifically, its range should not be restricted to just that audience.

People of European heritage, that is who have light-colored skin and identify as ‘white’ (a racist construct itself), often express confusion about the use of the N-word.  For some reason they seem to feel that if they hear someone of color use this term to refer to themselves or their peers, then they have a free license to use the word. Why of course, anyone would want to use such a disgusting word in any context is perplexing, but for want of understanding, many do.

Firstly, as Mr. Smith so eloquently lays out and anyone with any understanding of history should know, the N-word embodied the rationalization that allowed the mass brutalization of an entire people by another.

Those of European ancestry who live in America have reaped the fruits of the hard work of those who once were enslaved and often reap the fruits of systemic racism that still exists today.  Statistics and even basic observation shows quite plainly that inequality exists today nearly as grossly as fifty or more years ago.  Those statistics also show that such inequality, while most often economic also derives from social inequality put in place and held in place by old, yet firmly held beliefs, traditions and behaviors of those who have the power to make change where they can.

Recently a poll of ‘white’ folks showed that many have little empathy for or desire to understand the struggle of African-Americans for justice.  Racist language and attitudes don’t touch people of non-African heritage yet surprisingly, many of these same people feel they have a right to pass judgment on when, how and to what degree African-American people should express outrage at their own oppression.  The attitude of prejudice comes from ignorance, the ignorance remains in place due to a social construct that legitimizes one group’s experience while dismissing another’s, called privilege.  In the context of the American social frame, it is known as “white privilege”.

This seems shocking, but its a symptom of the culture; a culture where the dominance of one group over another runs deep.  It runs so deep that non-African people feel they have the right to arbitrate on and decide on the degree to which another group is oppressed.  Privilege is exactly that — having the power to decide right and wrong and where responsibility lies and most importantly, who is allowed to suffer.  What is the difference between this hypocrisy and that of the slave holder of old, who tightly holds the key to the shackles while laughing that his property enjoys their enslavement?

Like Mr. Smith, people take a minute to think agree that use of the N-word trivializes the suffering of those who came before us and built this country with no pay, no credit, not even a thanks.  Use of the N-word excuses injustice and the dehumanization of racism, the N-word grants the lynch mob tacit approval, gives a nod to those who say that racism doesn’t exist and allows it to perpetuate.  Use of the N-word by people of non-African descent, most importantly, practices the same oppression, the same brutalization by repeating and aping the very practice of those who held the slave system in place by their participation in it or obedience to it.

Mr. Smith says that all people of colored skin came from the same place.  Let’s correct that: all humans came from the same place.  Africa is in fact the genetic motherland of all of us.  Science has shown that homo sapiens began in the rich lands of Africa and migrated over thousands of years to different locations as continental plates moved and shifted.  Also, science has now shown that light colored hair shafts (blonde, red) and light colored skin, the hallmarks of people from regions with less sunlit days, were no doubt an evolutionary adaptation to survive.  Light skin and light hair allowed the essential vitamin D to be absorbed into the body, the sun being the only source (until modern chemistry has made it possible as an additive) for this vitamin.  While the development of other features such as nose shape in some folks seems still a debated topic, we should be long beyond any idea that human difference is more than skin deep.

Kwanzaa, the celebration of African unity and pride ended yesterday and in that evening Nelson Mandela passed away.  This seems a fitting time for everyone to consider how their actions, even what seems the smallest, such as word choice can move us forward as a people or keep us all enslaved in ignorance and hate.

Column: “Undressing The N-Word”

By H. Lewis Smith

Nationwide (December 3, 2013) — Over the past year or so, many events have been occurring in the Black Community at the hand of the Black Community that continues to bring continual shame and degradation to the honorable memories, sacred struggle and sacrifice of African-American ascendants. Some may argue against it, but these acts continue to adversely affect the growth, development, and progression of the Black community, on a whole, to this very day. For instance, in November 2013, former NBA greats Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and ESPN commentator Michael Wilborn bowed down to and pledged their allegiance to a word that dehumanized, stigmatized and objectified their ancestors on national TV. That word is the n-word (n**ga).

It is this sort of pervasive 18th century slave mentality, blindness to such behaviors, and misuse of influential power – much-made possible by the blood and sacrifices of their own ancestors, that prompted writing the book Undressing of the N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth About Lies, Deceit and Mind Games. It is high time that Black America stop the antics, halt the selfish mentality of “I got mines”, and really use all resources they have to demand respect for the entire race within and without the community. Ignorance is no longer acceptable or the calling card to bring attention to Black America; rather, Black America must take the time to educate themselves, and in so doing, reality will be made clear.

The following are excerpts from one of the chapters in my soon-to-be released book entitled, Undressing The N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth About Lies, Deceit and Mind Games.

Forbiddingly, you learn today that your mother was brutally and unmercifully bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Now close your eyes and think about this for a moment: think about the heinousness in the act; see your mother screaming for her life and doing everything in her power to defend against and fight off her unrelenting attackers; think about all of the pain and anguish she endured as blow upon blow of the hammer welled down on her, before the final bit of life was unrightfully snatched with that last thud. Can you see it? Can you see the multiple plugs imprinted into whatever part of her body the hammer unforgivingly fell upon? Can you empathize with that dreadful moment in time?

Click to continue reading H. Lewis Smith

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Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth About Themselves

prison factory

From our friend Arnie over at Inzane Times, weighing in on the ugly truth about the corporate prison system and their efforts to get our Congress and state legislators to sell off justice:

Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth about Themselves

March 17, 2013 by aalpert

FORM 10-K IS A TREASURE TROVE OF INFORMATION

Maggie Hassan made it pretty clear during her successful campaign for governor that she has no interest in turning over control of New Hampshire’s prisons to for-profit corporations.  The majority of Executive Councilors elected in November feel the same.  While the State is still formally reviewing proposals from four private companies to build and operate its prisons, the chance that a contract for prison operation would be drawn up in the next two years is about as close to zero as it can get.  So why have at least two of the companies (CCA and MTC) bothered to invest in lobbying services to defeat HB 443, a bill which would ban private prisons in New Hampshire?

Read more on: Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth About Themselves directly from the source.

For more on the privatization of public services: check this excellent article at truthout.org : Five Poisons of Privatization

thanks to the folks over at the Privatization Blog

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