Women’s Law Project Statement: Why We Strongly Oppose Senate Bill 3

A 20-week abortion ban is moving through the PA House of Representatives. This bill, known as SB 3, also criminalizes the D&E form of abortion. It passed the Senate last winter and on December 4, 2017, it passed out of the House Health Committee. It is currently listed on the House Calendar for a vote by the full PA House of Representatives on Monday, December 11, 2017.

If you live in Pennsylvania, take a moment and call your state Representative. Tell her/him that you oppose SB3 and that it is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and health. Then say, “Please vote no this bill, and instead support laws that put women’s health first.”

Here’s a link to an easy-to-use call-in action page. It will link you to your Representative and provide a short message calling for a NO vote on SB 3.  This link is provided to you courtesy of Keystone Progress.

Thanks for your activism.

WLP Blog

PENNSYLVANIA–The Women’s Law Project strongly opposes Senate Bill 3, which passed the state House Health Committee last night by a vote of 16-10, along partisan lines.

“Pennsylvania politicians just advanced an unconstitutional bill that seeks to throw doctors in jail for providing standard medical care for their patients,” says WLP Senior Staff Attorney Susan J. Frietsche. “They are using discredited junk science to justify it, and repeatedly refusing testimony from real doctors, or their constituents. Anyone not seriously alarmed at both the goal and the process here is not paying attention.”

By criminalizing D&E, a common and safe medical procedure, for no medical reason, SB3 mandates substandard care for women. By criminalizing all pregnancy termination after 19 weeks for no medical reason, SB3 would force doctors to refuse standard medical care for patients facing crisis pregnancies, forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies to term, against their will and despite…

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History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

History appears to be repeating itself. We’re heading towards another economic cliff with this Republican tax proposal. As my husband said this morning, we don’t need or want this devastating tax cut that’s being proposed. And neither does anyone else we’ve talked to.

Nel's New Day

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous…

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How To Tell If A White Person Is Racist With One Simple Question

Note To My White Self

If you want to quickly determine if a white person in the United States is comfortably racist, I’d recommend a single question. Ask them, “Should our nation pay reparations to black people for the enslavement, mistreatment and economic exploitation of them and their ancestors over the past four hundred years?” If they immediately reject this proposition, you can be fairly confident you’ve identified a comfortable racist. On the other hand, if they’re willing to give this question serious consideration, you’ve probably identified an ethically responsible and racially conscious white person.  It’s really that simple.

There is simply no compelling argument against the payment of reparations. The studies and research have been done.  The historians, economists and ethicists have spoken.  While there can and should be considerable debate over how reparations should be made, any white person who argues against reparations is either ignorant, immoral, racist or all of the above. …

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Single-Payer Health Care: Debate on Smart Talk

This morning (October 2, 2017), the local public radio station in Harrisburg, PA aired a program on universal health care, often called single-payer health care or Improved Medicare for All.  They presented a debate between insurance industry members, legislators, and advocates for single-payer health care.

Three women holding up posters that say

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The radio clip that I’m embedding below discusses HB 1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan.  This bill was reintroduced in the PA House of Representatives on Friday, September 29. It is a state-based universal health coverage for residents of Pennsylvania via a single-payer health care payment program which redirects Medicare and Medicaid funds into a single state funding program where 9 out of 10 people will have reduced healthcare costs and where you get to select your own doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. Decisions about treatment are made between the healthcare provider and the client.

The debate on both the state and federal ideas for universal health care follows Rep. Pam Delissio’s summary of her bill. Here is Part 1 of the debate on SmartTalk:

And here is Part 2 of the debate on universal single-payer healthcare:

Rep. Delissio has been the prime sponsor of HB 1688 for the last three sessions of the PA General Assembly. Here’s a 2016 presentation on the Pennsylvania Healthcare Plan by Representative DeLissio on her bill. FYI, the bill number did not change between the current and last session.  So when she talks about HB 1688, she is presenting essentially the same plan (with some minor tweaks).

Muslim Ban 3.0: More Countries, More Complications

picture of people marching down a city street carrying a banner that says, "Stop Trump's Muslim Ban."

Protest rally opposing Trumps Muslim Travel Bans. Picture courtesy of Microsoft’s Clip Art

Yesterday I attended an hour-long townhall presentation put on by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. This town hall discussed Trump’s new travel ban that was issued on Sunday, September 24, 2017, and fully goes into effect on October 18, 2017.

The Proclamation is entitled, “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”  What is it and what are its effects?

What I learned there yesterday is what I would like to share with you today.  Here are some questions, as a non-lawyer, that I will attempt to answer in this blog:

  1. What is a proclamation and how does it differ from an executive order?
  2. What countries are affected by this expanded ban?
  3. What happened to Sudan?
  4. When does this ban go into effect?
  5. What are the bans “rules?”
  6. If you are an international, what kind of help might be helpful?

Note that most of this information came from the Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic and two advocacy groups: the Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.  Thanks to all three of these organizations for helping to disseminate this information on this new, expanded Muslim and People of Color Ban – Version 3.0.

Several federal district courts entirely blocked Ban 1.0 as a constitutional violation of Freedom of Religion. Ban 2.0 was a streamlined version of Ban 1.0 and was partially allowed to go into effect last June. Both were executive orders. Muslim Ban 3.0, issued last Sunday, focuses on the people being rather than the agencies than ordering what the federal agencies need to do.  It was a Presidential Proclamation, not an Executive Order.

Proclamation v. Executive Order

We rarely hear of Presidential Proclamations but often hear of Presidential Executive Orders.  Ban 3.0 was promulgated as a proclamation rather than an executive order.  I wondered what the difference was.

The effects, in my opinion, are relatively the same.  The difference seems to differ on only who (or what) they are ordering.  All US presidents have used both of these regulatory instruments that have the effect of law unless overturned by Congress or the US Supreme Court for superseding presidential authority. This power is loosely based on Section II of the US Constitution. The Constitution states, “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” and “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The differences between the two, according to the Yale University Library, is based on the focus of the targeted entity in the declarations.

  • Executive Orders are the formal means through which the President of the United States prescribes the conduct of business in the Executive Branch. They relate to how and what executive agencies do.

  • Proclamations, unlike executive orders, are aimed at those outside of the government. Proclamations can grant presidential pardons, commemorate or celebrate an occasion or group, call attention to events, or make statements of policy.

The first two immigration statements (aka Ban 1.0 and  Ban 2.0) were Executive Orders.  They ordered the State Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol, among the many federal agencies to prohibit the immigration and landing of Muslims from entering the United States. Ban 3.0 was a Presidential Proclamation.

Good Proclamations v Bad Ones

The most famous Presidential Proclamation was President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862; it went into effect on January 1, 1863. This Proclamation freed the slaves, ensuring the end of the bondage of Blacks when the Civil War ended.  This Proclamation, along with the 14th Amendment ratified soon after the Civil War ended, granted full citizenship to permanent residents regardless of race.

The Emancipation Proclamation says, “Welcome!” In contrast, Trump’s Banning Proclamation, essentially says, “Go Home. Don’t come here. We don’t want you. And here’s who we don’t want.”  As you can see, proclamations can do good as well a bad.

This most recent proclamation, just like the Emancipation Proclamation, has the force of law. The result, however, is not much different than an Executive Order.  Bans 1.0 and 2.0 tell the agencies what they need to do. Ban 3.0 tells targeted individuals to “stay away,” or “we will deport you.” Unlike the two previous executive order bans, these restrictions listed in this proclamation are indefinite. BAD (and “Sad”).

Who is affected by this Ban? The Expanded Ban

So, who is Trump saying to go away?

Bans 1.0 and 2.0 solely targeted citizens of Muslim/Islamic religious-dominated countries. The new Proclamation targets citizens of 8 countries – 6 Muslim/Islamic-dominated countries, an Asian country, and a Latino/a country. Trump says all eight countries are a security risk.

Fyi, Muslim refers to people who follow the religion of Islam.  These two terms can be used interchangeably. I’m using the religious term below for each country based on how they are commonly described.

These countries are:

  • Chad – a central-African Muslim country;
  • Iran — a Middle-Eastern Islamic country;
  • Libya – a North-African Muslim country;
  • Somalia – a Muslim East-African country;
  • Syria – a western-Asian Muslim country; and
  • Yemen – a Middle-Eastern Muslim;

The two non-Muslim countries that have been targeted are:

This expanded list adds Chad as well as these two non-Muslim countries.  Some speculate that this was purposefully done to skirt the religious freedom protections of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Either way, it still targets people of color and is discriminatory.

Trump Removed One Country from Ban 3.

Ban 2.0 listed seven countries where their citizens are banned from entering the United States.  His original ban included the six Muslim/Islamic countries listed above as well as Sudan. Sudan is a North-African Islamic country. Ban 3.0 no longer targets citizens of this country.

Why did Trump’s proclamation delete citizens of this country from the ban?  We don’t know. Much of the rationale is, at least partially, a state secret.  Trump won’t say why.

Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a magazine I rarely read, commented this way (and I agree with them):

“Obviously, it goes without saying that a travel ban is a gross and un-American way of handling immigration, but the removal of Sudan from the list is interesting and raises a lot of questions.

And here’s the transcript of what Trump said when asked about the removal of Sudan – a muddling of what’s going on here.

 

 

The Details

When does this ban go into effect?

This unending travel ban has two different start dates.  According to Penn State Unversity’s Law Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic, the effective dates differ based on whether or not the banned country is listed in Executive Order EO 13780 (aka Muslim Ban 2.0).

For the five countries still listed from that Executive Order (Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen), any national who lacks a “bona fide relationship” with someone or entity in the US was immediately banned from entry into the United States on September 24, 2017.

For the remaining three countries (Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela) that were added to this Proclamation’s travel ban, all restrictions and limitations on travel to the United States, regardless of a “bona fide relationship” take effect at 12:01 am on October 18, 2017. This additional level of restrictions also becomes active for the five original countries on this date.

Who is being denied entry?

That depends on which banned country you are coming from, The Proclamation does  the following by country of origin:

  • North Korea and Syria: entrance to the United States as an immigrant or non-immigrant is denied;
  • Chad, Libya, and Yemen: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or visiting the US on business or as a tourist is denied (visiting US-based family members appears to be ok);
  • Iran: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or as a visitor is denied UNLESS you are entering under an F (full-time educational programs), M (technical or vocational programs), or J (research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange) visa. Extra scrutiny will be done with people seeking this exception;
  • Somalia: entrance to the United States as an immigrant is denied. Visitors (i.e., “non-immigrants”) will be subject to additional scrutiny (which as far as I can tell, is not described in the proclamation); and
  • Venezuela: entrance to the United States as a visitor either for business or pleasure is denied IF you are on the list of certain Venezuelan government officials; this ban is also extended to their family member. Visitation and/or immigration by others from this country is still allowed.

What is a Bona Fide Relationship?

According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:

Foreign nationals who can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. include:

  • Individuals who have a close familial relationship in the U.S. This includes parents (including in-laws and stepparents), spouses, fiancées, children (including in-laws), siblings (including in-laws), half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

  • Individuals who have a “formal, documented” relationship with a U.S. entity that was “formed in the ordinary course.” Examples of such a relationship include: students who have been admitted to a U.S. university; workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company; and lecturers who have been invited to address a U.S. audience.

 

Who from these targeted countries are exempt from this travel ban?

Again, according to According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:

  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);

  • Those admitted or paroled after the effective dates in Section 7 of the Proclamation;

  • Those with an otherwise valid document – rg. a transportation letter, appropriate boarding foil, or advance parole document – on the Proclamation’s effective date;

  • Dual nationals when the individual has a passport issued by an unaffected country;

  • Those traveling on diplomatic visas such as a G visa;

  • Those granted asylum, admitted as a refugee, or granted related relief.

Waivers to the Travel Ban

Section 3 of the Proclamation does allow for waivers on a case-by-case basis. Since waivers are vague and based on interpretation and how the individuals present themselves, access to these waivers might be limited, in my opinion. Once again, I’m not a lawyer, but I would recommend that people from these targeted countries seek legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney or clinic before attempting entry to this country to improve their odds of obtaining such a waiver.

The Fact Sheet states that waivers can occur under the following circumstances.

  • When denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship and their entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and would be in the national interest; and

  • On a case-by-case basis. Case-by-case waivers may not be granted categorically, but may be granted in individual circumstances such as:

    • Those previously admitted and outside the U.S.;

    • Those with established significant contacts with the U.S. but currently outside the U.S. on the effective date;

    • Those seeking to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional obligations;

    • Those seeking to visit or reside with a close family member and whose denial would cause undue hardship;

    • Those who are an infant, a young child, an adoptee, or in need of urgent medical care or with those with special circumstances;

    • Those employed by the U.S. government; and

    • Those traveling with purposes related to business with the U.S. government or on behalf of certain international organizations.

The Center for Immigrant Rights Clinic gives further details on these waivers.

Section 3(c) of Presidential Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities & Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats includes a waiver scheme for certain nationals who would otherwise be suspended from entering the United States. The burden is on the foreign national to show that his or her entry (A) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; (B) entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and (C) entry would be in the national interest.

The Proclamation states that case-by-case waivers will not be issued categorically, and goes on to list the following ten situations in which a waiver would be appropriate:

  1. the foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry would impair that activity;

  2. the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation for work, study, or other lawful activity;

  3. the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;

  4. the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfullyadmitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship;

  5. the foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;

  6. the foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee), and the foreign national can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government;

  7. the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq., traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA;

  8. the foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident who applies for a visa at a location within Canada;

  9. the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor; or

  10. the foreign national is traveling to the United States, at the request of a United States Government department or agency, for legitimate law enforcement, foreign policy, or national security purposes

In reading the additional information on these waivers, several items popped out to both the lawyers and me at the Clinic.

First, “undue hardship” is not defined in either the immigration statute or in the regulations.  This term only appears in the Muslim Bans 2.0 and 3.0.  The term that does show up in the rules is “extreme hardship.”  And that term doesn’t define family separation or relocation as an “extreme hardship.” So I could see someone, on a case by case basis, being denied a waiver under section 3(c), reason A, even when she can show that they are not a threat to national security (reason B) and their entry is in the national interest (reason C).

Second, who defines what “the national interest” is?  I could easily see a consulate employee denying entry simply because their definition is limited to say, for example, a need for a high-level employee but not for that person’s family to accompany her.

Third, what does national security” actually mean? Since many of the decisions on the travel ban seem arbitrary (for example, each country has differing levels of scrutiny and types of bans based on the proclamation’s reasoning for the travel ban), how would a consulate employee make a fair decision on security?  The question is what type of levels of evidence would be required to pass this test.

And finally how long would each applicant have to wait before a waiver decision is made? Keeping people in limbo, particularly when family members are separated, is stressful, intimidating, and hateful.

Bottom Line

All three travel bans are incongruent with our country’s history of welcoming open arms. Our Presidential Executive Orders and Proclamations should all be following the sentiment proclaimed at the base of Lady Liberty, aka the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Instead, our government is telling the world and people of color, especially people from Muslim and Islamic countries to “stay away, ” or “we will deport you.”

If you are interested in seeing a video of the town hall, click here.  The PSU Law Immigration Clinic’s Powerpoint presentation on Trump’s Travel Ban can be also reviewed by clicking on this link.

If you are a foreign national, be aware of what this proclamation does.  Search for and contact an immigration lawyer to help you circumnavigate these torturous waters. Here’s an immigration attorney search link I found that might help . And don’t leave the US if you are already here without first determining if you are likely to be able to return.

8 years of “suffering” under Barack Obama

Take a moment and think. What have/did we “suffer ” under 8 years of President Obama? An improving economy. Kindness and outreach to all. No scandals in the White House…. 

I say, “Let’s have more of this. Not more of 45’s junk, scandal, and fear mongering.”

Teri Carter's Library

andersonlogo

3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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Charlottesville White Supremacists Are On the Wrong Side of History | National Organization for Women

Source: Charlottesville White Supremacists Are On the Wrong Side of History | National Organization for Women

Statement of NOW President Toni Van Pelt

08.12.2017
Picture of Toni Van Pelt.

Toni Van Pelt, President of the National Organization for Women

The white supremacists who launched a brutal protest against the city of Charlottesville, Virginia’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee must be held to account for their violence and hate speech, says Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

“Robert E. Lee was on the wrong side of history and so are the Charlottesville racists,” says Toni Van Pelt. “The majority of Virginia voters—like the majority of voters across the U.S., voted for the presidential candidate who defended inclusion over intolerance, healing over division and fairness over bigotry. NOW stands with our courageous sisters and brothers in Charlottesville, who are standing strong against hate and violence.”

NOW has always been committed to eradicating racism. In NOW’s original Statement of Purpose, the group’s founders wrote, “We realize that women’s problems are linked to many broader questions of social justice; their solution will require concerted action by many groups. Therefore, convinced that human rights for all are indivisible, we expect to give active support to the common cause of equal rights for all those who suffer discrimination and deprivation.”

Today’s violent march follows an evening “Unite the Right” rally at the University of Virginia where hate-filled rhetoric from Ku Klux Klan members and other alt-right activists was directed at African Americans, immigrants, and Jewish people.

Charlotte Gibson, president of Charlottesville NOW, said, “The white nationalists, neo-Nazis, armed militias and alt-right extremists who came to Charlottesville and tried to hijack democracy today will not succeed. Their rhetoric is never acceptable in a civilized society, and their embrace of violence must never be tolerated.”

“Donald Trump’s personal reliance on the language of confrontation, combat, and intolerance has alarmed us all in recent days,” says Toni Van Pelt. “Trump may be sending signals and cues to those who would harm peaceful protesters, but the people of Charlottesville are standing up to Trump-inspired bullying and inspiring us all.”

Contact

M.E. Ficarra, press@now.org, 951-547-1241
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What does Lady Liberty stand for?

Lady Liberty. A symbol of freedom and welcoming. We so need to have a government that stands up for these welcoming ideals as expressed by Emma Lazarus in her poem “The New Colossus.”

For those that are interested, The New Colossus is a bit longer than the “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,…” part that is oft quoted. These words occur at the end of the poem. The bronze plaque titled “The New Colossus” is attached to the base of Lady Liberty states and says, in full:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

 

For a fuller history of immigration’s connection to Lady Liberty, check out my blog post from earlier this year: “The Statue of Liberty is an Egyptian Woman.

Political Vibes

Bronze Plaque of New Colossus Image Credit National Park Service

This week at a briefing, CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta stated to Senior White House aide Stephen Miller that the new GOP immigration plan did not seem like it was in accordance with American tradition. Then, Acosta mentioned the poem found on the Statue of Liberty called ‘The New Colossus’.

Miller responded, “The poem you were referring to was added later … It’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

Yes, Emma Lazarus’ ‘The New Colossus’ was added to The Statue of Liberty seventeen years after the monument arrived in New York Harbor. But, who cares?

Millions of people arrived in The United States over the past 100+ years through New York Harbor and were welcomed by The Statue of Liberty. As a result, this statue has become a symbol of freedom and the American Dream. It is an sign of…

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Congress, DDT Leaving Washington, DC with Little to Show

This blog from Nel’s New Day is a good source for what has (not) happened to 45’s and the GOP’s agenda as they head home for recess.  When they come back in September, Congress will need to pass the budget and 45 will need to sign it before the October 1 fiscal year deadline. They will also need to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a shutdown of the federal government and a potential financial crisis.

But the number of days of session work in September is insufficient. The US House of Representative will be in session for just 12 days in September — on September 5-8. 11-14, and 25-28. The Senate will be a little more active; they’ll be in session for 17 days — September 5-8, 11-14, 18-20, and 25-29. Note that there is one week — September 18-22 —  where the House is glaringly absent from work. Why?

As Nel questions,

“[What will happen] if the House [and Senate don’t] get around to passing the budget and increasing the debt ceiling?”

Surging interest rates? A return to recession?  Another international financial crisis?  Let’s hope not!

Source: Congress, DDT Leaving D.C. with Little to Show

Colina L. Fischer Jordan Seeley – My Feminist Activist Partner 1928-2017

Picture of Colina Jordan Seeley sitting on her back porch.

Colina L Jordan Seeley. Photo courtesy of the family as posted at http://www.rouppfuneralhome.com/notices/Colina-Seeley

On Sunday, July 30 I received an email that my close friend Colina Jordan Seeley had died in Wilkes-Barre, PA from complications of a stroke.  She was an 89-year old fireball.  An activist, a fighter for social justice, a social worker, mother, wife, and a life-long fighter for the rights and safety of all. A real feminist.

She was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands a year after my mother was born.  By the time she was 12, she had become a fighter for the underdog; one of her first acts was becoming a part of the Nazi Resistance in the Netherlands.  Her family told this story in her obituary that came out today – a story she often said to me.  The only part she left out in her storytelling to me was that she was the one that convinced her father to go into hiding. Here’s a clip from the obituary:

She was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands on 7 May 1928.  She grew up in an academic household where her father was [a] professor of anthropology at [the] University of Utrecht, and her mother was a history and geography teacher. 

When the Nazis took over the Netherlands, her father was called in to explain why he no longer taught.  He said that the Dutch students had mostly evaporated and all that was left was Nazi sympathizers.  When Colina heard this story that evening, at age 12 she instantly saw that the Nazis would be coming to pick him up, and made such a scene that her father reluctantly went into hiding that night.  The next morning the Nazis were at the door to pick him up.  Colina became the mainstay of the family consisting of the other 5 children and her not very functional mother.  Colina was the person who scrounged for tidbits of food and coal.  She cooked in the back yard over a tin can.  As a small girl with long blonde braids, she was able to hoodwink the Nazis and lead off men out of the groups being marched to Germany to work in the factories there.

Here’s a bit more to that story.  Colina told me that she helped lead these men away from the Nazis after they crawled through a hidden hole at the back end of the Gymnasium (school) into a safe house that abutted the back of the school. She would go each day and walk the escapee away from the area pretending to the Nazi’s that her “uncle” was so drunk he couldn’t talk and tell them she was taking him home to his wife and kids.

Another story she told was about her food scrounging adventures.  Apparently, the Nazis had food and milk trucks that rumbled through town on a regular basis.  As a young teenage girl she was able to get near these trucks, and when the Nazis backs were turned, she’d grab milk off of the trucks and run.  A dangerous activity, but she got away with this too.

BTW, she didn’t see or hear or know where her father was throughout the war because the family feared that if the children knew of his whereabouts they might have been tortured to tell.  He came home safely at the end of the war.

After the war, Colina came to the US and obtained a Master’s degree in Social Work.  She married Joseph Jordan whom she met at the University of Minnesota. The moved to State College where they raised their four children – Saskia, Sharon, Naomi, and Adlai.  Joseph died in August 1992, and she married Ralph Seeley in April 2004.  ,

She continued her activism here in the states. Among the things I know that she accomplished were:

  • Successfully advocating for low-income people with mental health issues.
  • Providing mental health care as the sole practitioner in the Penns Valley area of Centre County. For those that don’t know the area, it’s a rural farming community with a large Amish population. I believe her work in Penns Valley also helped foster her love of nature and the work of the Clearwater Conservancy.
  • Forcing the local Elks Club in Boalsburg to open up membership to people of color. She did this by contacting John W. Oswald in 1970 right after Penn State University announced that he was going to be the new University President.  She pointed out to him that his welcoming party was planned at the racially segregated Elks Club in Boalsburg.  He agreed with her that this was wrong and notified the University that he wouldn’t step inside the club as long as this policy continued.  The venue changed, and soon the policy was too.
  • Starting the first NOW (National Organization for Women) chapter and the local women’s domestic violence and sexual assault center in Centre County in the early 1970s.  The Women’s Resource Center is still going strong today. And Colina remained a member of NOW until her death.
  • Using her love of storytelling, she also became active in the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association towards the end of her life.  She thought up and helped create our Out Loud program. This program highlights local poets, poetry, and local storytelling.

I moved to Centre County in 1981.  She was one of the very first people I met. That was at a NOW meeting. We crossed paths on an irregular basis until 1991 when I, along with Colina and a couple of other women founded Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, the current local chapter of the National Organization for Women.  She became my activist, feminist partner in crime.  We spent time listening to each other, traveling to rallies and protests, and organizing actions to improve the lives of women, LGBTQIA, and people of color here in Happy Valley and at Penn State University.

My favorite memory was setting up a protest ladder on Old Main Lawn with her in September of 1992. The day before President George Bush came to campus to speak for his second run for office, she and I brought in a ladder and a banner and laid them on the ground about halfway up the lawn near the area where the general public was going to be admitted.  Our plan was to set up the ladder and put some broken dolls on the ladder with a sign saying something about his lack of support for early childhood care.

The next day we got there, picked up the banner and the ladder. We then set up the ladder with the baby dolls. Almost immediately, a Secret Service agent came up and confiscated the ladder saying it was a “safety hazard.”

So throughout the rest of the rally, we held up our eight foot-wide “Four More Months!” banner along with the baby dolls.  It was the ONLY sign in the rally protesting Bush’s policies; every other protest sign, including our childcare sign, had been confiscated by the gatekeepers on the way onto the Lawn.

We returned the next day and picked up the banner and the ladder. We then set up the ladder with the baby dolls. Almost immediately, a Secret Service agent came up and confiscated the ladder saying it was a “safety hazard.”  So throughout the rest of the rally, we held up our eight foot-wide “Four More Months!” banner along with the baby dolls.  It was the ONLY sign in the rally protesting Bush’s policies; every other protest sign, including our childcare sign, had been confiscated by the gatekeepers on the way onto the Lawn.

So throughout the rest of the rally, we held up our eight foot-wide “Four More Months!” banner along with the baby dolls.  It was the ONLY sign in the rally protesting Bush’s policies. Every other protest sign, including our childcare sign, had been confiscated by the gatekeepers on the way onto the Lawn.

The press soon found out about this confiscation and broadcast the news as a violation of Free Speech – courtesy of Colina and myself.

Afterward, we went up to the Secret Service agent and asked him what they had done with Colina’s ladder.  The Secret Service agent looked shocked and said to Colina, “It’s your ladder!? I can’t believe an old lady would bring a ladder here!”  He obviously didn’t know Colina!  At that time she would have been 64 years old. He then smiled, told us where they had put it, and we picked it up.

Colina, you’ll be missed.  My condolences to your entire family.  And for those wanting to hear more about Colina and her life, the family is holding a memorial service sometime in September at the Unitarian Fellowship in State College.  Instead of flowers, donations can be made in Colina’s name to any organization of which she would approve, many of which are listed here in this blog.

Farewell, my dear friend.