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Feminista: Oh Hail No!

22 Feb

Click on this website:


Did you hear? The House voted to bar Planned Parenthood from federal funding. They cut funding for HIV tests, cancer screenings, birth control, and more, putting millions of women and families at risk. We can’t let it go unanswered. It’s time for you and me to stand with Planned Parenthood. Sign the open letter to the reps who voted for this bill — and to the senators who still have a chance to stop it.

It’s 2011 and still leaders are afraid of women determining their own choices and accessing reproductive health care. This is INTIMATE, PRIVATE, and our HUMAN RIGHT.

For women, like myself, who are NOT covered by health insurance, Planned Parenthood provides a crucial service.



Design Line: Haiti SOFTHOUSE Project

20 Feb

photo courtesy of Haiti SOFTHOUSEgroup, LLC

The Haiti Softhouse project launched a pilot program to create four housing units in Haiti by the summer time. Deutsche Bank has granted $50,000 to mass produce these light, modular homes. They utilize steel frames and durable fabric exteriors, all designed to stand strong against natural disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

TheSOFTHOUSE group is working with The Rural Haiti Project, to secure a location in Jacmel, Haiti, to create the first SOFTHOUSE village. Ultimately, the goal is to transfer design and fabrication expertise to local manufacturers, thus stimulating the Haitian economy, as well as providing a transitional solution. SOFTHOUSE communities buy time to envision long-term rebuilding strategies. As long as people remain displaced from their original homes, there’s powerful potential here. The structures can be mounted directly into the ground with high-strength earth anchors in a variety of soil conditions. Another option is to anchor them onto a prefab concrete base structured from concrete rubble leftover from the earthquake. Both durability and sustainability are of grave importance, since much of the 2010 earthquake’s deadly damage was caused by the weak structures of buildings and homes.

“We are trying to get the pilot off the ground,” said Mr. Rodney Leon, project manager of Haiti SOFTHOUSE. “If we can get them made in the thousands, then they can be manufactured cheaply for a couple thousand dollars each.”

Fort Greene’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) presented project plan mockups of these transitional shelters in the “Le Projet Nouveau” exhibit, which features the work of artists re-imagining Haiti a year after the earthquake.

Re-Imaging Haiti will be at MoCADA through May 8.

A video with Mr. Leon discussing the need for focusing on solutions to the crisis of shelter in Haiti:

Below: The project plan outlines the tools, time, and people power needed. It’s as simple as having the softhouse, 1 adjustable wrench, 2 socket wrenches, a 10-ft ladder and a 6-ft ladder, and four volunteers.


Haiti, the earthquake, and my family, by Edwidge Danticat

28 Jan

Beautiful words about her family, life and death, by writer Edwidge Danticat in the New Yorker.

via Haiti, the earthquake, and my family:

Tonight–Live Art, Music & Haiti Benefit at Sucre in BK

24 Jan

From Toni Morrison's "The Site of Memory"

18 Jan

“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. ‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding, it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has perfect memory and is forever trying to get back where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory–where the nerves and the skin remember how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our ‘flooding’…’

Beautifully spun words, by Ms. Toni Morrison. In honor of the struggle that’s going on in Haiti now. Remembering that we all connect to primordial memories of being uprooted, the landscape we breathe in & witness, the homes and ports in which we welcome strangers, and the eternal rebuilding.

10 Things the U.S. Can and Should do for Haiti

14 Jan

I’m reposting this brilliant list.

By Bill Quigley of the Louisiana Justice Institute

One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money
for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US
back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance.
Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on
to other problems.

Two. Do not allow US military in Haiti to point their guns at Haitians.
Hungry Haitians are not the enemy. Decisions have already been made which
will militarize the humanitarian relief – but do not allow the victims to be
cast as criminals. Do not demonize the people.

Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more
debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector
so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services.

Four. Prioritize humanitarian aid to help women, children and the elderly.
They are always moved to the back of the line. If they are moved to the back
of the line, start at the back.

Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with
the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia. President Obama should do it on
Martin Luther King Day.

Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding
Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for
every official and non-governmental person and organization.
Non-governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups
are extremely powerful in Haiti – they too must respect the human dignity
and human rights of all people.

Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Roberts and Rush

Release all Haitians in US jails who are not accused of any crimes.
Thirty thousand people are facing deportations. No one will be deported to
Haiti for years to come. Release them on Martin Luther King day.

Nine. Require that all the non-governmental organizations which raise money
in the US be transparent about what they raise, where the money goes, and
insist that they be legally accountable to the people of Haiti.

Ten. Treat all Haitians as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law
professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has
been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for
Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

Great Firewall of China

13 Jan

Photo: a makeshift commemoration to Google, in front of its Beijing office. Don’t go Googz!

Claiming cyber attacks by the Chinese government, hacking into the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, Google declared they would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and abuse.