DDT: Week Ten

Nel's New Day

Other than the fallout from failing to pass Trumpcare and the increasing—and damning—news about Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) connection to Russia, the biggest news was his rollback to President Obama’s orders regarding the climate.

Climate: DDT ordered the EPA to repeal the Clean Power Plan by removing new limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. He claimed that it was for the economy, energy security, and jobs, but the entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s. DDT is preening, but the provisions weren’t to take place until 2022. In addition, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that greenhouse gases count as a potential air pollutant, requiring the EPA to regulate them. DDT’s order won’t reverse the decline of the coal industry that has fewer employees than clean energy. Coal’s enemy is natural gas.

Conflicts of Interest: Remember DDT’s blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest? Middle son, Eric, has…

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Universal Health Care: Let’s Do It!

I am not an economist. But I am a strong advocate for universal access to healthcare in the United States. See why here.

A couple of days ago, Thom Hartmann at The Big Picture RT posted a YouTube video on why economists are demanding a universal national healthcare plan. In this video he reports that more than 100 economists sent an open letter to Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin (D) after Shumlin “bailed” on implementing Vermont’s state-based single-payer healthcare plan.

Governor Shumlin stated that he was stopping the implementation process because he believes that “This is not the right time” for enacting single payer. He stated that there were too many costs associated with the program and could not go forward with the plan “at this time.”

The economists argued otherwise:

As economists, we understand that universal, publicly financed health care is not only economically feasible but highly preferable to a fragmented market-based insurance system…. Public financing is not a matter of raising new money, but of distributing existing payments more equitably and efficiently. Especially when combined with provider payment reforms, public financing can lower administrative costs, share health care cost much more equitably, and ensure comprehensive care for all.

We support publicly and equitably financed health care at federal and state level, and we encourage the government of the state of Vermont to move forward with implementing a public financing plan for the universal health care system envisioned by state law.

Hartman then goes on to say that part of the economic concerns about Vermont’s single-payer healthcare plan arises from its small population base. He believes that the economy of scale makes it harder for a small state to go it alone in “innovating” new healthcare plans as allowed by the Affordable Care Act starting in 2017. Then he goes on to urge the federal government to expand Medicare to all citizens over a 10-year period of time.

I agree that it would be great to have universal Medicare for All across the United States. But I also believe that the only way that will happen is if some states implement single-payer healthcare at a state level to concretely show that a universal healthcare plan is economically viable and distributes existing healthcare payments more efficiently and equitably while lowering administrative costs WITHOUT raising the overall cost to individuals, businesses or communities. In fact, in many instances, cost would be lower.

Studies on how this might happen have been done by well-known economists across the country. For example, Dr. Gerald  Friedman, Professor of Economics and Department Head at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has done several of these studies, including one for Pennsylvania, one for Maryland, and one for expanding Medicare to all at the national level. Every economic impact study on implementing universal healthcare plans that I have read indicates that “A single-payer health care finance system would produce substantial health and economic gains” when implemented at either a state or the national level.

At least 14 statesCalifornia, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington—have community advocates and state legislators working towards implementing a state-level form of universal healthcare. And advocates across the nation continue to work for Medicare for All at the national level.

Whichever way comes first is fine with me. We just need to get moving and create healthcare for all in the USA.  Let’s make it sooner rather than later.

The Women’s Movement Is for Everyone

Feminism is for Everyone

Credit: Art Crimes on Flickr, under Creative Commons

This is Women’s History Month.  And today is International Women’s Day.

In celebration of these two events, Women’s eNews Commentator Mary S. Hartman wrote an article entitled “This Women’s Movement, Now, Is for Everyone | Womens eNews.”

In this article, she links Betty Friedan’s views on the early days of the National Organization for Women and the Feminist movement to today’s movements and actions.

In her 2002 interview with Hartman, Friedan was asked what she envisioned the women’s movement to look like mid-century.  She said,

Well, I hope that by then our focus will not long have to be on women as such, or women vis a vis men… [that] we will have achieved what at the moment we seem to be achieving — real equality between women and men.

Friedan then went on to say that we needed “something larger,” namely a “people’s movement” with “diverse leaders of both sexes acting together and championing not just women’s rights but civil rights, unions, youth movements and more.”

I believe we are moving in that direction with coalitions, with the Occupy and Ferguson movements, and with people coming together on social media to raise our collective voices for civil rights.

What do you think? Read Hartman’s article and then comment.

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

My Part in the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm

Today I participated in the Coalition on Human Needs Twitterstorm to help #StoptheCuts in support of President Obama’s proposed budget that lasted from 2 to 3 pm Eastern Standard Time. Here is my contribution to that storm. Results shown are as of 3:07 pm (seven minutes after the Twitterstorm ended):

 Original Tweets

Spot on! MT @kilby76 45.3 mil Americans live in #poverty. Shameful 4 richest country on earth #CutsHurt #StopTheCuts @SenToomey @SenBobCasey

0 replies 0 retweets 1 favorite

We need more investments, not less, in programs that keep even more people out of #poverty. #StoptheCuts

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

FACT: Since FY2010, 136 important human needs programs were cut, 51 by > 15% #CutsHurt #FY2016 http://ow.ly/i/8uqP2  http://ow.ly/i/8uqPC 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

We need a #FY2016 budget that works for all, not just corporations and the wealthy #TalkPoverty http://ow.ly/i/8upzt 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

0 replies 0 retweets 1 favorite

Continued cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy #TalkPoverty #CutsHurt Pass @presidentobama #FY2016 budget

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

Pass #FY2016 RT @BlueUpali @SenateDems #GOP thinks cuts to foodstamps SSA will help? They are bad at math as well as science. #StopTheCuts

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

Only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rental assistance receive it due to lack of funding #Sequester #CutsHurt #FY2016 #Budget

0 replies 0 retweets 1 favorite

Want to know the ins and outs of the President’s Budget? Check out @MomsRising analysis: http://moms.ly/1Ct2VX7  #StoptheCuts #FY2016

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

Federal rental assistance is effective, lifts millions out of #poverty. @RepTomPrice stop the cuts, stop sequestration #cutshurt #FY2016

0 replies 0 retweets 1 favorite

Housing instability limits opportunity. Restore voucher funding so those eligible are not left waiting! #cutshurt http://ow.ly/i/8uqCu 

meme re Join the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm on February 3, 2015.

Join the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm on February 3, 2015.

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

3 million children were lifted out of poverty by #EITC and #CTC in 2012. #CutsHurt this progress. #TalkPoverty #FY2016

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

Research shows children of #EITC recipients do better in school, attend college & earn more as adults #TalkPoverty #cutshurt @RepTomPrice

0 replies 0 retweets 1 favorite

 1/4 people without a high school degree are living in poverty. Tell Congress to support job training in #FY2016 #TalkPoverty #JobsNotCuts

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

.@CoalitiononHN “.@BeaverValleyNOW @PA_NOW @NiTaNeeNOW Thank you for joining us and spreading the word! #StopTheCuts”

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

 Modified Tweets

MT @natpriorities Most Americans support spending in federal programs that help families in need. #StopTheCuts #CutsHurt http://ow.ly/i/8v627 

Picture of a woman holdin70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program g a toddler saying that 70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program

70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @MomsRising The earlier we invest in our littlest learners the better for our children & economy. Invest in #earlylearning! #StoptheCuts

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @natpriorities Only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rental assistance receive due to low funding #Sequester #CutsHurt

Meme stating that Every hour the US spends $5 million for housing assistance and $58 million for the Dept. of Defense

Every hour the US spends $5 million for housing assistance and $58 million for the Dept. of Defense

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

 .@CongressmanGT MT @ChildDefender 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut

0 replies 2 retweets 0 favorites

MT @ChildDefender 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut @SenBobCasey

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

MT @ChildDefender: 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut @SenToomey

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

 MT @NAEYC: Kidsthrive & learn n society dedicated 2 ensuring they reach their full potential #investinkids n #FY2016 2 ensure their future

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @RESULTS_Tweets: The #2016Budget is out! Time 2 #talkpoverty w policymakers & make ending poverty a top priority: http://bit.ly/16fyKVh 

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @SenateDems: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

0 replies 1 retweet 1 favorite

MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @PAHouseGOP: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @Senate_GOPs: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

MT @MomsRising #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @HouseDemocrats: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites

Retweets

MedicareRightsCenter @medicarerights  ·

Read @josephrbaker‘s statement on the #FY2016 Obama budget: http://www.medicarerights.org/newsroom/press-releases/2315-2/ … #Medicare

0 replies 2 retweets 0 favorites

TalkPoverty.org @TalkPoverty

Stagnating wages & changing corporate practices decrease amt working families can save for retirement http://bit.ly/1yQBLqd  #talkpoverty

0 replies 4 retweets 3 favorites

CoalitiononHumanNeed @CoalitiononHN  ·

Fact: It would only take 2% of the federal #budget to reduce child #poverty by 60% http://ow.ly/InD58  #TalkPoverty @ChildDefender

0 replies 17 retweets 2 favorites

  PWN-USA @uspwn  ·

Continued cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy #TalkPoverty #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts in #FY2016 #pwnspeaks

0 replies 1 retweet 0 favorites

Housing Alliance PA @PAHousing  ·

Starting NOW! Tell Congress to #StopTheCuts in #FY2016! Join the @CoalitiononHN twitterstorm & tweet at your Reps/Senators #TalkPoverty

0 replies 2 retweets 1 favorite

Asset Building @AssetsNAF  ·

Obama’s #FY2016 Budget requests additional funding for HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program. See our FSS work: http://ow.ly/Iqp0J 

0 replies 2 retweets 0 favorites

ChildrensDefenseFund @ChildDefender  ·

Tell Congress: #EndChildPoverty #StoptheCuts #TalkPoverty #BeCarefulWhatYouCut http://ow.ly/H1gcu 

Picture of a baby saying, "It's hard to tighten your belt when you are wearing diapers.

It’s hard to tighten your belt when you are wearing diapers.

0 replies 22 retweets 8 favorites

Leslie @love2laugh4ever  ·

#StopTheCuts raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 now and have it automatically raise thereafter. Keep people above #poverty

0 replies 3 retweets 0 favorites

CoalitiononHumanNeed @CoalitiononHN  ·

1/4 people w/o a high school degree are living in poverty. Tell Congress to support job training in #StopTheCuts #TalkPoverty #JobsNotCuts

0 replies 3 retweets 0 favorites

 Pennsylvania NOW @PA_NOW  ·

Housing instability limits opportunity. Restore voucher funding so those eligible are not left waiting! #CutsHurt @SenToomey @SenBobCasey

0 replies 1 retweet 1 favorite

MoveOn.org @MoveOn  ·

RT if OUTRAGED: 1st time in 50yrs, maj. US public school stdnts in #poverty @GOPHouse http://wapo.st/17NzFgO 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

0 replies 27 retweets 12 favorites

Am Sociological Assn @ASAnews  ·

Is Ending #Segregation the Key to Ending #Poverty? @Stefanie_DeLuca & other sociologists http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/is-ending-segregation-the-key-to-ending-poverty/385002/ …

View summary

0 replies 7 retweets 1 favorite

Parents of OMM @ParentsofOMM  ·

The truth about #singlemoms using #foodstamps and what you can do to help http://bit.ly/1zkIx9w  #family #poverty #welfare #womenleaders

0 replies 1 retweet 1 favorite

2013-2014 #Justice4Cherise

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

As my final blog for 2014, I want to summarize what I believe to be my most successful endeavor in social justice for this year. It is the case in Montana that in social media became known by the hashtag #Justice4Cherise.

In 2013 and 2014, I worked closely with both Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW to remove G. Todd Baugh—a local Montana judge—from the bench in Yellowstone County, MT for using rape myths to trivialize the 2007 rape of a 14-year-old girl Cherise Moralez by her high school teacher Stacey Rambold. The trivialization of this crime committed against this young woman occurred after she had died in 2010 by suicide and could no longer speak for herself.

Baugh sentenced Stacey Rambold to 30 days in jail because the girl was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and that she looked “older than her chronological age.”

Using my blog site and the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund website as a public forum and pinning my blog posts to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, I worked with others to spread the word about this case and called upon the state to provide #Justice4Cherise. Here’s the chronology (with links) to what happened from August 2013 through December 2014.

August 2013

We helped spread the word that we were collecting signatures through We Are UltraViolet of our outrage at Judge G. Todd Baugh’s unethical behavior on the bench and called for his removal by the Montana Judicial Standards Commission (August 29, 2013).

September 2013

We then filed a complaint with the Montana Judicial Standards Commission about Baugh’s unethical behavior. We presented the background of the rape case and a summary of Judge G. Todd Baugh’s misconduct; cited the portions of the judicial rules of conduct that were violated; and noted that thousands of “witnesses” had joined Montana and Pennsylvania NOW in this complaint. These witnesses included more than 250,000 people around the world who called for either the resignation or removal of Judge Baugh (September 24, 2013);

December 2013

Baugh Responds to Our Complaint and We Respond Back

We announced that “Judge” Baugh had agreed with our complaint that he had violated one of the three ethical rules we cited in our September complaint. He did say that he failed to

“promote public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and [did not] avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety [by his actions].”

His response to our complaint then continued with additional bias and use of rape myths to support his unethical behavior. So we responded with a written follow-up to our complaint and again let the public know what was happening (December 8, 2013).

Amicus Brief Filed

Five days later, six women’s groups — Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, Legal Voice, Sexual Violence Law Center, Women’ Law Project, and Legal Momentum — filed an amicus brief before the Montana Supreme Court. This brief documented the rape myths that Baugh used in determining and handing down the sentence he gave to former teacher and convicted rapist Stacey Rambold. We were supporting the Montana Attorney General’s call for overturning the original sentence and remanding the case back to Yellowstone County Court for re-sentencing. The amicus brief we filed focused on rape myths and their inappropriate impact in adjudicating and sentencing in sexual-assault cases. We asked the court to take the effect of these types of rape myths into account when making their decision in this case and, upon remand, to assign the case to a new judge for sentencing. Our amicus went further than the Attorney General’s appeal in that we did not want Baugh to do the resentencing and that we wanted the Supreme Court to order the county to reassign the case to another judge who would be less biased in handling sexual assault cases (December 13, 2013).

January 2014

In January 2014, after reviewing Baugh’s response to the complaints filed against him, the Montana Judicial Standards Commission recommended to the Montana Supreme Court that they publicly censure him for his unethical behavior. Meanwhile the Montana Attorney General’s appeal of the Rambold sentence handed down by Baugh worked their way behind the scenes in the Montana Supreme Court.

What Happened to Rambold

April 2014: Sentence Overturned

On April 30, the first outcome of these two cases was announced (April 30, 2014). With a review of all the legal documents provided to the court (no hearing was held as the Court felt they had enough information from the documentation they received), the Montana Supreme Court handed down their decision in the Montana v. Rambold case. The Court overturned the 30-day sentence and remanded the case back to Yellowstone County ordering a new judge to resentence Rambold using the mandatory sentencing guidelines for rape. The last two paragraphs of the Court’s opinion indicate that the Court heavily relied on our amicus in ordering the remand:

¶21 On remand for resentencing, we further instruct the court to reassign the case to a different judge to impose sentence. We have considered several factors to decide whether a new judge should be assigned to resentence a defendant in a particular case, among them; whether the original judge would reasonably be expected to have substantial difficulty in putting out of his or her mind previously expressed views determined to be erroneous, whether reassignment is advisable to preserve the appearance of justice, and whether reassignment would entail waste and duplication out of proportion to any gain in preserving the appearance of fairness. Coleman v. Risley, 203 Mont. 237, 249, 663 P.2d 1154 (1983) 10 (citations omitted). In State v. Smith, 261 Mont. 419, 445-46, 863 P.2d 1000, 1016-17 (1993), we remanded for resentencing to a new judge when the judge’s statement at trial evidenced bias against the defendant. Even where bias did not require reassignment to a new judge, we have reassigned where media coverage and public outrage “have snowballed to create an appearance of impropriety.” Washington v. Montana Mining Properties, 243 Mont. 509, 516, 795 P.2d 460, 464 (1990).

¶22 In the present case, Judge Baugh’s statements reflected an improper basis for his decision and cast serious doubt on the appearance of justice. The idea that C.M. could have “control” of the situation is directly at odds with the law, which holds that a youth is incapable of consent and, therefore, lacks any control over the situation whatsoever. That statement also disregards the serious power disparity that exists between an adult teacher and his minor pupil. In addition, there is no basis in the law for the court’s distinction between the victim’s “chronological age” and the court’s perception of her maturity. Judge Baugh’s comments have given rise to several complaints before the Judicial Standards Commission, which has recommended disciplinary action by this Court. Those complaints will be addressed in a separate proceeding. Under these circumstances, we conclude that reassignment to a new judge is necessary to preserve the appearance of fairness and justice in this matter.

May 2014: Appeal Filed and Subsequently Denied

On May 14, Rambold’s attorney appealed the Supreme Court’s order to overturn the minimal sentence originally handed down and used the same arguments given by Baugh – “It was her [the victim’s] fault.” He seemed to say that the circumstances surrounding the rape of a minor and her responses to her teacher’s advances isn’t all that bad and therefore no change in the original sentence should be made.

September 2014: Resentencing

The Supreme Court denied the appeal and on September 26, Rambold was resentenced in Yellowstone County District Court.

According to the Billings Gazette, Judge Randall Spaulding sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison with five years suspended for the rape of Cherise Moralez. The Gazette reported that Judge Spaulding said that

the victim’s age, Rambold’s position as a teacher and Rambold’s response to being warned by school officials all factored into [the] sentencing. [And] Rambold’s Internet usage was an aggravating factor [in determining the length of the sentence].”

On November 24, Rambold’s attorney Jay Lansing filed a “notice of appeal” to the Montana Supreme Court for the 10-year sentence; so far, the reasoning behind this appeal is unknown. We will continue monitoring what is happening in the months to come to see what happens.

What Happened to Baugh

June 2014: Supreme Court Decision

Meanwhile, back to G. Todd Baugh. As the April 30 decision by the Montana Supreme Court hinted at in the Rambold case, censure was in the air for G. Todd Baugh. On June 4, the Court announced that they would not only be censuring Baugh in public for his unethical behavior but that he would also be suspended from the bench. Here’s a link to that decision. We believe and agree with the Court’s written opinion that “There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them.”

July 2014: Public Censure

Baugh was given time to respond to this decision of censure and suspension. And on July 22, the public censure was handed down. Marian Bradley, former President of Montana NOW, and I were in the courtroom for the public censure. Baugh stood before the Court for the censure, but said nothing.

According to the Billings Gazette, Chief Justice McGrath “did not read a sentence in the transcript of the censure that asked if Baugh had anything he wanted to say.” We had a statement ready to read to the court. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to speak about our concerns before the Court, most likely because the Court did not want to hear any more of Baugh’s excuses for his behavior. We had expected to deliver these comments publicly. Since we were unable to speak them, we sent our statement directly to Baugh and posted them on this blog for the world to see (July 22, 2014).

This blog was followed up on the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund website with a more detailed overview of rape myths that Baugh and other members of the judiciary have used in trivializing rape (August 31, 2014).

December 2014: Suspension

On December 1, Baugh was suspended from the bench without pay. Today (January 31) is the last day of his suspension. Since he decided not to run for reelection for the bench, he will not be returning to work as a judge as he no longer has a seat within the judiciary. He is gone.

We have as of today

#Justice4Cherise

Stacey Rambold is in prison for ten years for the rape of Cherise Moralez

And

G. Todd Baugh no longer serves as a judge due to his unethical use of victim-blaming rape myths.

It’s a Happy New Year for 2015 for all victims, survivors, families and advocates for social justice. Happy New Year everyone!

A Good Time To Remember Ella Baker

Social Justice For All

ella-bakerIn the wake of the death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of white police officers with no indictment, I am looking for hope  somewhere.  After learning of the verdict in New York yesterday morning, there is a very sad heaviness for the United States. We have yet another death of a black mother’s son. For me, I am trying to remember Ella Baker and reflect on how much work we still have do around issues of racial equity and equality.

Baker was one of the most influential players in the civil rights movement. Baker’s grandparents were slaves and she would hear stories from her grandmother about slave revolts. After finishing college and graduating valedictorian, she moved to New York and started her life’s path of social justice. Baker fought for civil rights alongside others such as, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther King. She…

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End of an Era: Sr. Francis Ellen Bowery

Aunt Frankie. Officially known as Sister Frances Ellen Bowery.

picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery (1920-2014)

Aunt Frankie touring the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA in July 2011 (age 90)

Dominican nun for 76 years. She was a teacher and a Social Justice advocate. Part of her work included working on peace issues and with immigrants and international students. Little however has been noted of her quiet work for justice.  Still, I honor her for this work and her dedication to humanity.

Picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit. Aunt Frankie took the name Sr. Mary Eucharia when she took on the habit. In the 1960’s, the convent rules loosened up and she, like many others, abandoned the habit and returned to her original name. One of the reasons she made these changes after almost 30 years in the convent was to be more accessible to the people she was working with. I believe it worked.

Humorist. She loved to make jokes. And she had a wonderful laugh. For example, she enjoyed teasing and joking. She also loved to play cards and particularly enjoyed getting caught cheating at the game.

Picture of Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her great-niece.

Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her seven-year-old great-niece. October 2011

Family overseer of the Bowery clan. Many of my mother’s clan turned to her. Just before my grandmother died in 1963, she asked Frankie to “look after” Marty, her second youngest remaining sister. Which she did until my mother died three years ago. Calls, visits, vacations… Any time. Anywhere. Frankie was there whenever she was needed or wanted. After my mother died, Aunt Frankie became the last survivor of her generation. At my mother’s funeral, she told me, “My [family] job is now done. I did what my mother asked me to do.” She sure did.

Picture of the Bowery Clan in West Palm Beach, FL.

The Bowery Clan:
Front row: Martha Bowery, Loretta Bowery Randolph, Edward Smith, Louise Bowery Smith, Tracy Smith, Bernice Savage Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Sr.
Back row: Sister Frances Ellen Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Jr, Bernice Helena Bowery, Sarah Bowery, Harold Randolph, and Sister John Loretto (ne Mary Tracy) Bowery. This picture was taken circa 1948.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery, always known to me as Aunt Frankie, died on Tuesday evening December 2, 2014 at the young age of 94. She will be buried Saturday, December 6, 2014 in her bright red “Mrs. Claus” outfit beside her sister Sister, Sr. John Loretto Bowery, who was known to us simply as Aunt Mary.

Aunt Frankie's headstone 67161856_130061114640

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery’s headstone, located next to her sister Sister John Loretto Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=67161856&PIpi=39910824 on March 20, 2011.

Picture of SR. John Loretto Bowery's headstone

Sr. John Loretto (aka Aunt Mary) Bowery’s headstone at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Cemetary in Adrian, MI. Each set of plots is created in a circle. After Aunt Mary died, the Adrian Dominican Sisters left the space adjacent to Sr. John Loretto for her biological as well as religious sister, Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13395413&PIpi=39910802 on March 20, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was lucid and still making jokes right up to the end. She will surely be missed by all of us nieces and nephews and within her religious community.

Luv ya Frankie! Farewell and rest in peace.

Addendum – Aunt Frankie’s Elves

Monday December 9, 2014: I just got back from the funeral in Adrian, MI. It was probably the nicest celebration of life I’ve ever attended.

Aunt Frankie was buried on December 6 on the Feast of St. Nicholas – her favorite holiday. She donned her Mrs. Claus suit and distributed candy canes to her community every year on this feast day; she was also buried in this outfit.

Picture of Aunt Frankie wearing her Mrs. Claus suit.

Aunt Frankie as Mrs. Claus at an annual Feast of St. Nicholas party at the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was buried in this outfit at her request.

In her honor and with the fun spirit she engendered in our family, all of the nieces and nephews attending the funeral donned Santa Claus hats and distributed candy canes to the members of the convent at the wake. We also gave out rawhide candy canes for the doggie members within the community (yes some of the nuns have dogs as pets).

Thanks again Aunt Frankie. The best funeral I’ve ever attended.

 

Ferguson: White Entitlement Defeats Justice, Part I

More to the Ferguson Grand Jury story that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
President Obama’s idea of requiring police officers to wear body cameras, IMHO, would do two things: 1) help see the truth in such encounters and 2) reduce the likelihood of violence since both the police officer and the person being confronted by police would more likely be on their best behaviors.

Nel's New Day

One week ago, St. Louis DA Robert McCulloch gave a rambling, defensive press conference announcing that the grand jury had not indicted Darren Wilson, 28, for killing Michael Brown. Since then, the killer, a police officer, has resigned from the Ferguson force, but his action does not stop the news that about the inconsistencies, bad police procedures, and cover-ups that the 4,799 pages of grand jury testimony reveal.

Initially Assistant District Attorney Kathy Alizadeh told the jury to base their decisions on a law that was ruled unconstitutional almost 30 years ago. She told the jury that Wilson had the legal right to shoot and kill Brown as soon as Brown ran away from the police officer, that Wilson could legally do this even if he didn’t feel threatened. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional any law stating that an officer is “justified in the use of such physical…

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Ireland Images, Blessings Sayings

Last April, my friend Mary Vollero was invited to show her video —The Long Goodbye — about the last days of the Garman Opera House at the international Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival in Schull, County Cork, Ireland.  FYI, I previously blogged about the demise of our town’s historic theatre, which you can see here, here, here, and here. After losing the court battle, the Bellefonte Borough Council had the theatre torn down between December 30, 2013 and January 15, 2014 (additional pictures can be seen in my Facebook “RIP Hotel Do De and Garman Theatre” album.

When Mary told me she had been accepted at the festival, I teasingly said, “Could I come in your suitcase?” She laughed and then a couple of days later called me and asked if I’d like to go with her.

picture of Joanne Tosti-Vasey and Mary Vollery

Left: Joanne Tosti-Vasey
Right: Mary Vollero

So on May 21, 2014, the day after the two of us helped staff our precinct for the Pennsylvania 2014 Spring Primary, we left for Ireland and flew to Cork and then drove to Schull in West Cork. We attended the festival in Schull for several days and did a bit of touring in County Cork.  We drove/took a ferry to tour West Cork, including the Altar Wedge Tomb, Bandon, Goleen, Long Island – Inishfada, Macroom, Mizen Head, and Schull.

We both took lots pictures of our trip. We also stopped in Bandon to pick up an Irish cloak that I ordered and paid for online in April after finding out I was headed to County Cork. This is the same store that my sister had purchased the  green Irish cape for me as a gift for our mutual birthday in 2013 (see picture above of me with Mary Voller0). Here’s a picture of me wearing the heavier-weight Irish cloak I had custom-made by Siobhan Wear, picked up in Bandon, and brought home with me.

Picture of Joanne wearing her custom made Irish cloak

Joanne at home wearing her custom-made Irish cloak in the fall of 2014.

Mary then turned her pictures into a subtitled video with Irish music.  I think she captured our visit quite well.  Here it is:

“May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.”

And,

“May your day be touched with a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.”

− two of the Irish blessings included in this photographic video: my wish to all my readers.

Home-Stretch Election Rallies

vote button

Go Vote Button

It’s the home stretch. Candidates and volunteers are working overtime to get people out to vote on Tuesday, November 4. As part of that effort, prominent politicians are canvassing the country to assist candidates running for the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, and state Governorships.

Pennsylvania

In my home state of Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama came to Philadelphia to stump for Tom Wolf (D) on Sunday November 2. He is running for Pennsylvania Governor to replace the current Tea Party Governor Tom Corbett (R). I’m so looking forward to a victory tomorrow for Tom Wolf (see some of the reasons why here). It will be a win for the environment, for women, LGBTQIA people, low-income individuals who can’t access healthcare, and for better jobs and wages for everyone in the state.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire the fight is not to replace a right-wing slate of elected officials, but to retain and reelect the four progressive women leading that state – Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), and Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1). New Hampshire is the only state in the nation to have women in 100% of the top leadership positions in the state. And prominent female politicians have come to the state to stump for them. On October 25, it was Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stumping for her colleague Senator Jeanne Shaheen. And on Sunday, November 2, while President Obama was stumping for Tom Wolf, Former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Nashua, NH to support these four women’s reelection efforts.

I was there at both events. I blogged about the Warren event last week. Today, here’s the Clinton event.

picture of NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton standing on stage at a GOTV rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton

About 1000 people gathered at Nashua Community College in Nashua, NH. The lineup of speakers was quite interesting. Except for State Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, every speaker was a woman – something I’ve never seen in a political event or rally before. Here are the speakers in order of their appearance:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s granddaughters singing the Star Spangled Banner

Picture of Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Chair Ray Buckley calling on the NH electorate to not only vote for the Democrats at the top of the ticket, but to also vote for the Democrats all the way down the ballot.

picture of NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

He gave a rousing speech on the problems that NH had when Republican Bill O’Brian was leading the General Assembly and how the mostly female Democratic leadership turned the state around through bipartisan cooperation once the Republican party became the minority party two years ago. Here’s that speech:

 

Then the line-up of female political leaders began. Each talked about why NH is doing better now, how their bipartisan efforts have improved the economy of New Hampshire, and what has been protected in the state for women’s reproductive justice and pay equity, children’s and adults’ public and college education, marriage equality, access to health care for all and job restoration. Here are those speakers:

House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

State Senator Peggy Gilmour

Picture of  State Sen Peggy Gilmour

NH State Sen Peggy Gilmour

State Senator Peggy Laskey

Picture of NH State Senator Bette Laskey

NH State Senator Bette Laskey

Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

Picture of NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

And then the headliners:

US Representative Ann McLane Kuster

Picture of US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

Governor Maggie Hassan

Picture of NH Governor Maggie Hassan

NH Governor Maggie Hassan

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Picture of US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

And finally, Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

In introducing Hillary, Senator Shaheen put forth this zinger that brought a roar from the crowd:

“She traveled 956,000 miles as Secretary of State – that’s nearly as many miles as Scott Brown traveled looking for a Senate seat to buy.”

Due to the low battery on my video camera, I was not able to record the speeches of the keynote speakers. After the video camera died, Hillary focused on women’s and family issues. Since I could no longer videotape the event, I took a few notes. Here’s some of Ms. Clinton’s additional remarks:

“Women are not just half the population.”

“Women’s rights are on the front line of rights around the world.”

“Equal pay is not just a women’s issue. It is a family issue.”

“Fear is the last resort of those who have run out of hope.”

“If you vote, you can elect these women who will lead New Hampshire and the rest of the country [for the better good of all].”

In addition, the Manchester Ink Link compiled several quotes from Hassan, Shaheen, and Clinton. You can see them here.

You Gotta Vote!

So no matter where you are – in Pennsylvania, in New Hampshire, or anywhere else in the country – consider the impact of who your next Governor or US Senator or US Congressperson may be. Do not vote based on fear. Vote for the candidates who will protect middle-class income, education for all, access to healthcare, marriage equality, the environment, and reproductive justice.

GET OUT AND VOTE on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. You can find out where and how to vote in your state here (courtesy of the League of Women Voters). Thanks.

 

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014