Category Archives: InCity Yum Yums

Farewell!

Now that we’ve learned President-elect Donald Trump worked with the Russians for FIVE years, that he used them to make a mockery of our democracy, that they used him to make a mockery of our democracy and deemed him highly “bribable,” our departing President Obama seems even more dignified, modest, sensitive, inspiring and visionary. When we see what’s down our American road, paved with Trumpian vulgarity, gold, sexual assault, KGB-leaders, excess, lies and – let’s be honest – utter disregard for each and every American (especially the working class that got him elected), Barack Obama looks like St. Barack!

President Obama, the world is surely, sorely, going to miss you when you step off the stage!

January 20 it’ll be Trump.

God save America!

– Rosalie Tirella

Joey parked here … The Holiday Season: a Giving Season!

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Chef Joey

By Chef Joey

For many folks the holidays mean a time of happiness, Santa pictures, gatherings and delicious meals. …

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Chef Joey donates his time and talent every Christmas – he donates and cooks all the turkeys and makes vast amounts of turkey soup and stuffing for his friend Boa’s nonprofit, the Southeast Asian Coalition. photos: Boa Newgate

… I know people who start their gift shopping as early as July! (Maybe a personal attempt to throw the spending numbers off that retailers thrive by!) Many organizations have fundraisers and the Salvation Army hand bells can be heard at just about every market and store and, of course, who says no to Toys for Tots?

I have a foster daughter this season and was invited to “Family Appreciation” day hosted by the Department of Children and Families. It was held at the DCU center (I almost typed Centrum!), and much to my surprise there were hundreds of families there! All of us had a common link: We were all foster parents. Some with one child and I met a family of four! What was amazing is the fact that everyone was there to enjoy themselves. It was a veritable “League of Nations”! There were children and parents of all ethnicities, mixed families, and when I say families, they all were together and smiling.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were there too, and there were so many families they called them up by tables of 10. And there were more than 50 tables! – just to give you an idea.

We were table 38 so we got to watch what was planned. Hats with antlers made by tracing your child’s hand and then cut out and taped to a band that fits across the forehead. Then there were the gingerbread men decorating stations. Face painting is always a hit with kids and the ice cream buffet was a guarantee that everyone would stay awake – never mind the 20 foot table of various candies!

As we got called up to meet Santa, we talked about where the children came from, how long we had them, etc. and that’s when I looked at the stage and saw a young man, say no more than 9 or 10, attempting to climb the two steps to see Santa himself, refusing help, as he had arm crutches in both arms and two very twisted legs. He was so determined to get there without assistance, you could see the effort in his face. When he reached the top he smiled. Made his way to Santa and sat on his knee, face beaming as he recited his list of whishes. Then he smiled for the camera, got up and walked across to the finish line per se where he was handed a wrapped toy, which he handed to his foster mom, who was not the same ethnicity, but had a parental smile that melted me. She gave he foster son a hug and helped him down back to the floor level and he was telling her all about it, as if she had not seen. This was a classic case of “To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all!”

After a few snacks and comradery, we left and were greeted with a table of books, crayons, coloring pencils and other complementary items that were gleefully distributed to the attendees, all passed out by volunteers. Today everyone was making a difference.

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The Southeast Asian Coalition celebrates!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mr. Boa D Newgate, now a Culture Broker for the Southeast Asian Coalition recently wrapped up his Thanksgiving party and was busy getting ready for Worcester First Night, where his team of Lion Dancers once again performed.

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Boa’s story is simple: He was a refugee with his parents and sibling. They made it to the United States and fortunately to Worcester. Boa saw inner-city kids who were not amounting to much, so he decided to show them boxing and other activities to exercise. He made arrangements with the YMCA and had regular sessions, starting with just a few kids that grew and grew. As the expansion started so did the activities and the need for transportation.

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He found a way to procure a school bus, and though tenacious work and donations, registered and insured it. He then involved at the Southeast Asian Coalition.

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Go, Boa, go!!

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Everyone loves and is so proud of Boa!

From their website their story is the following: The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (SEAC) was founded in 1999 and established as a non-profit agency in 2001 to address the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Southeast Asian Immigrants in Central Massachusetts, which includes Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese.

SEAC’s mission is to assist Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts successfully integrate into mainstream society while maintaining their unique cultural identity. SEAC has developed a strong reputation both among members of our cultural community and with our partners in the community at large for being a trusted organization of first resort. Their mission is focused on education and job training.

The first Thanksgiving holiday party I attended was sparse, perhaps 25 to 30 kids. I made a turkey and all the fixings – this is back in 2009. In 2010 there were more kids and I was there as well, but now there was karate, judo, and other things being taught and the space was growing.

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Last year there were very young kids that were learning the Lion Dance; they had a demonstration and explained how every move tells a story.

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Those heads are heavy! Each eye can go left, right, up or down and blink!

So put the movements to a beating drum, and the magic of the dancing dragon comes alive!

Like Hula dancers with their hands and hips, all these Polynesian and Asian rituals are secretly threaded. Of course, Richard and I supplied the turkeys and again this year knowing there was to be a crowd, we made several turkeys, stuffing and a vast amount of turkey soup.

Boa was promoted to his new position, and having volunteered for years donating his own time and money. His new title is Cultural Broker, and he is working with people with mental and other physical disorders by linking and bridging communities. His focus is to transition folks to better life styles and connect to them to resources in the community so that each person feels completely normal and free of any labels due to their condition. He is a mighty man and a kindred spirit! Everyone he has helped has a smile on their face when you mention his name. The best part about Boa: he tries to make sure everyone is appeased and juggles to make it happen. And it does!

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RECIPE: CHEF JOEY’S HOLIDAY TURKEY STUFFING!

Here is a quick easy recipe for stuffing – you are going to love it!

All you need is:

2 large onions

1 bunch of celery

raisins

cranberries

oatmeal

Bell’s seasoning tops it off.

It is a delicious and healthy and gluten free!

First, chop the onions and sautee in olive oil

Add the celery and stir until soft.

Add ½ cup raisins and 1 cup fresh cranberries and stir in 2 tablespoons of Bells seasoning.

In the meantime, cook 3 cups of oatmeal.

Add to the onion mix and stir.

Salt and pepper to taste and there you have it!😄

InCity Times Book Review

The Iran Wars

By Jay Solomon, (2016, Random House, 336 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

Two of the biggest issues that will bedevil the incoming Trump administration will be the rogue state of Iran and the nuclear deal signed by the Obama Administration in July 2015. This timely book by Jay Solomon entitled “The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East” is a well written and easy to read account of how we got to this point.

“The Iran Wars” reviews the history of how the United States first sent nuclear technology to Iran during the reign of the Shah, then a U.S. ally. The technology was inherited by the Mullahs after they overthrew the Shah in 1979.

Assassination and Stuxnet

Neither the United States nor Israel wanted to see Iran build nuclear weapons. They resorted to two state tools which have become unfortunately commonplace in today’s world: Assassination and Espionage.

Richard Nixon once said the Israeli Mossad is the best intelligence agency in the world. The shadow war with Iran gave them the opportunity to prove it. With orders to stop the Iranian nuclear program by any means, Mossad infiltrated its agents into the Iranian capital, Tehran, and assassinated several Iranian scientists working on the project.

Enraged, Iran tried to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in retaliation. In the convoluted world of Middle Eastern politics, the Iranians did this on the theory that the United States was an ally of Israel, and Saudi Arabia was an ally of the U.S.

There was no direct link between Saudi Arabia and the assassinations in Tehran. This incident is worth noting, if for no other reason, as demonstrating the paranoid mindset of those ruling Iran today.

Next the U.S. and Israel launched a cyber-attack on Iran using a malware program named “Stuxnet.” This program was written in a fashion so it would only infect centrifuges in Iran’s atomic plants. It succeeded in delaying Iran’s processing of sufficient uranium to construct an atomic bomb by causing the centrifuges to spin at high speeds and break. This is believed to be the first cyber-attack in history by one nation state against another.

The Rial War

Connoisseurs of spy novels or movies will find the chapter entitled “The Rial War” fascinating. The “Rial” is the Iranian currency. The US launched a financial war against the Iranians. It was the most successful effort against the Iranian regime since 1979.

The international oil market is conducted entirely in American dollars. Treasury Under-Secretary Stuart Levey figured out financial institutions doing business with Iran could be damaged if they were denied access to the U.S. currency. As Solomon put it: “Treasury knew that major businesses simply couldn’t function without access to U.S. dollars, the world’s default currency. Treasury could force foreign firms to choose between doing business with the United States or conducting it with rogue states and criminal enterprises. To most, the decision was a no-brainer.”

Solomon thereafter takes readers through a labyrinth of disreputable banks in the Caymans and Luxembourg, straw fronts, paper corporations, and the other denizens of the financial netherworld. The Iranians used accounts within accounts, false charitable shells, and other subterfuges to hide their illicitly obtained dollars.

Treasury started out by choking off the banks and corporations suppling Iran material and technology to further their nuclear program.

Next, they cracked down on the banks which assisted Iran’s sale of oil on the black market.

Finally, they froze billions of Iranian dollars in U.S. banks on American territory. The value of the Rial went down 30% in one day.

Some 70% of the Iranians’ budget came from oil revenues. When the oil market cratered, Iran’s economy began to collapse, tens of thousands of Iranians were laid off, and Iran came to the nuclear talks in 2013 as an economic basket case.

Nuclear Treaty

In July 2015 Iran, the U.S. and the other P-5 powers signed the nuclear deal with Iran. Solomon believes the treaty has given the U.S. a 10-year breathing space to further disarm Iran. President-elect Donald Trump has said he intends to strictly enforce the agreement in lieu of canceling it. Americans must wait and see what Trump does before finding out how this story will conclude.

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Join us as we celebrate Kwanzaa! Thursday, December 29 – 6 pm to 8:30 pm – at the YWCA

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The awesome Parlee, center, and family!

From Parlee Jones:

Community Kwanzaa Celebration

Join us as we celebrate Kwanzaa! Bring a dish (Potluck) and enjoy entertainment and learn about Kwanzaa!

Thursday, December 29

6 pm to 8:30 pm

YWCA (One Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608)

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Kwanzaa: a Time of Reflection, Celebration and Family

By Parlee Jones

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family,community and culture. Celebrated from December 26th through January 1st, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of African from which it
takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits”
in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.

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Last winter’s celebration!

The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. These celebrations are also found in ancient and modern times among societies as large as empires (the Zulu) or kingdoms (Swaziland) or smaller societies and groups like the Matabele, onga and Lovedu, all of southeastern Africa.

Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: gathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration.

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Kwanzaa, then, is:

• A time of gathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;

• A time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;

• A time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;

• A time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and

• A time for celebration of the Good,the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community
and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, naturaland social.”
From: www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/origins

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Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa to introduce and reinforce 7 basic values of African culture which contributeto building and reinforcing family,commu-
nity and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These principles stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are the building blocks of community.

Umoja ~ Unity ~ To strive and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

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Parlee’s daughter, a WPS grad – and Bucknell sophomore!

Kujichagulia ~ Self-Determination ~To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima ~ Collective Work and Responsibility ~ To build and maintain ourcommunity together and make
our brothers and sisters problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa ~ Cooperative Economics ~ To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia ~ Purpose ~ To make our collective vocation the building and developing of ourcommunity in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

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Kuumba ~ Creativity ~ To do alwaysas much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautifuland beneficial than weinherited it.

Imani ~ Faith ~ To believe with all our hear in our people, our teachers, our leadersand therighteousness and victory of our struggle.

The biggest thing about Kwanzaa we need to remember and practice is that we should be practicing the principles all year round.

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That is where you find the strength of Kwanzaa.

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Hope you can join us for Worcester’s Kwanzaa Week Celebration.

Each night of Kwanzaa there will be a celebration. Please remember, this is
a family event, so bring your children!
We are creating our village.

Worcester’s Kwanzaa Celebration will be held Thursday, December 29th at 6 pm at the YWCA. It is a potluck, so please bring something to share. No pork
products. Thank you!

Happy Holidaze to you and yours!

WSJ CALLS ABBIE HOFFMAN “MARKETING GENIUS”

By Steven R. Maher

Historically important Worcester businessmen like Harry Stoddard and John Higgins may have earned millions as industrialists and entrepreneurs, but they never received the accolade the Wall Street Journal recently bestowed upon 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman, a Worcester native.

A WSJ December 15, 2016, column entitled “Steal This Election” by Daniel Henninger described Hoffman as a “marketing genius.” Hoffman had authored “Steal This Book.” Henninger said the Democratic party was trying to steal the 2016 election from Donald Trump the way Hoffman urged the public to steal his book. Henninger’s column can be read in its entirety at the Wall Street Journal website, http://www.wsj.com/articles/steal-this-election-1481759796.

“The progressive Democratic demonstrators that filled Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower after they lost is the same party wing that rioted in 1968 in Chicago outside their own party’s convention,” wrote Henninger. “Among the leaders of the Democratic street politicians back then was Abbie Hoffman — activist, radical, marketing genius. For Democrats of that generatio — which is the Podesta and Hillary and Bernie generation — Abbie Hoffman was their Michael Moore. Now Michael Moore is exhorting thousands of bereaved and angry Democrats to descend on Washington next month to ‘disrupt the Inauguration.’

“Most American voters become uncomfortable when they see an Abbie Hoffman or Michael Moore cavorting in the streets with the country’s politics,” continued Henninger. “Today, the effort to ‘delegitimize Trump’— with Electoral College conspiracy theories and ‘disrupt the Inauguration’— sounds like something from antic Abbie Hoffman’s ‘Steal This Book.’”

Laughed out loud

We contacted Hoffman’s brother, Jack Hoffman, who lives in Framingham and occasionally contributes political columns to InCity Times, to inquire what he thought his brother would say of the Wall Street Journal’s description.

Hoffman admitted he laughed out loud when he read the description, and went on to say, “My brother would detest anything said by the Wall Street Journal.”

Jack did talk of his brother Abbie’s knowledge of, and ability to, channel the media, to meet his objectives. He also talked of Donald Trump’s manipulation of the media, saying at one point, “I thought Trump read three of Abbie’s books.”

“It’s going to be a sad day for America when Trump becomes President,” commented Jack.

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HISTORY WILL NOT ABSOLVE FIDEL CASTRO

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Cuba had Castro; we had Kennedy💝   pic:R.T

By Steven R. Maher

In 1953 Fidel Castro stood in the dock of a Cuban court. On July 26, 1953, Castro had led an armed attack on the Moncada Barracks, the second largest army base in Cuba, in an attempt to overthrow the tyrant Fulgencio Batista. Castro and his 135 followers planned to take the 1,000-man garrison by surprise, and use the barracks and captured weaponry as a “Free Territory” to set off a civil war. The attack failed, and approximately sixty of Castro’s followers were brutally murdered.
Castro in court denounced the state of Cuban society, the savagery of Batista’s dictatorship, and concluded with an inspiring battle cry.

“Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me!” Castro cried out.
Thirty years earlier Adolph Hitler had stood in a German dock after he, too, had led a failed revolt.

“You may pronounce us guilty a thousand times over, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to tatters the brief of the state prosecutor and the sentence of the court. For she acquits us!” Hitler cried out.

Castro biographer Georgie A. Geyer in “Guerrilla Prince” quoted historian Ward M. Morton: “Both [Hitler and Castro] put the accusers and the regime they represented on trial for cowardice, cruelty, persecution, and base betrayal of the national spirit. Both announced a mission: to realize the true destiny of the fatherland by purging it of all its faults. Both speeches contained many references to blood, death and sacrifice and both ended with almost the same identical phrases.”

It seems Castro had intellectual mentors other than Marx and Lenin.

Bankrupted

Fifty three years later Castro died on November 25, 2016. It is unlikely history will absolve Castro of the terrible legacy he has left Cuba. Today Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship in which the populace at large has access to decent health care and education, but little else. By every other measure, Cuba has been bankrupted.

Such a denouement seemed unlikely in 1953. After serving two years of a fifteen year prison sentence, Castro went to New York and raised money to fund an expedition from Mexico mostly of Cuban exiles (and the group’s doctor, the Argentine Che Guevara.) Castro landed in Cuba with 82 men in November 1956 and was attacked by Batista’s army. His force reduced to fifteen men, Castro went into the Sierra Maestra Mountains at the opposite end of the island from Havana.

What followed was one of the most heroic and romantic stories of the 20th century. With only fifteen men, Castro launched a guerrilla war, attacking isolated army barracks and ambushing army units sent out to capture him. He built up his guerrilla army in the Sierra Maestra, equipping his men with captured weapons. Because his guerrillas often went without shaving gear, they grew long beards and became celebrated as the “Barbudos,” the “bearded ones.” “Our beards and hair belong to the revolution now,” Castro told his followers.

Castro waged his war in the North American media as much as he did in the mountains of Cuba. He often submitted to interviews with media outlets like the New York Times and television stations. Castro sounded like a Hispanic Thomas Jefferson, talking of liberty, the right to free expression, the need for elected representation, the necessity of dissent.

Castro’s guerrillas won battle after battle against overwhelming odds. When Batista sent 10,000 men into the Sierra Maestra to destroy the insurgents, Castro defeated them with only 300 guerillas. Che Guevara successfully attacked Santa Clara in central Cuba with 300 men, a city defended by thousands of soldiers armed with tanks and artillery.

On January 1, 1959 Batista fled Cuba. Castro then rode a tank from the Sierra Maestra down the central highway of Cuba, to be cheered by millions of Cubans along the way. “Havana went out to cheer,” wrote historian Hugh Thomas in his excellent historical tome, “Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom”, when Castro arrived in Havana amidst the applause of a million Cubans. Castro rode to the biggest military base in Cuba and promised not to become a dictator himself.

“We cannot become dictators,” said Castro. “We shall never need to use force, because we have the people, and because the people shall judge, and because the day the people want, I will leave.”

While Castro spoke, someone released several doves. One dove flew to Castro and rested on his shoulder the entire time he spoke. Castro was then 32 years old.

Frozen in time

“To many people the month of January 1959 in Havana was a unique moment of history,” wrote Thomas, “golden in promise, the dawn of a new age; great projects which had already begun; however, in a way that most of them scarcely appreciated, it was also the end of an era.”

This was the image that liberals and leftists kept frozen in their minds as they came to the defense of Castro over the decades to follow – Castro being cheered by millions of Cubans thronging to hear him, the bearded insurgent in the hills who sounded like Thomas Jefferson, the victorious guerrilla standing triumphant with the symbol of peace, a dove, perched on his shoulder as he spoke to thunderous applause.

Within months of arriving in Havana Castro began tightening the screws. There were mass executions of Batista war criminals. Over time newspapers were shut down, opponents shouted down by mobs or imprisoned, and massive numbers of Cubans fled the country. Cubans who talked of liberty, like Castro did at his Moncada trial, found themselves in prison. Cubans who took up arms to fight the new dictatorship, like Castro did, found themselves in front of firing squads. In 1968 Castro, who had taken power as a bearded insurrectionist, ordered “mass shavings of long-haired men and the departure of mini-skirted girls, who were said to have made ‘passionate love in their school girl uniforms’, to forced labor camps in the countryside,” wrote Thomas.

The new tyrant proved the accuracy of the old dictum that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Castro had talked of improving the lives of Cuban peasants. While they went hungry in collective farms, Castro lived opulently in beach front homes, dined on gourmet dinners, and wanted for nothing. The country became his experimental laboratory where Castro failed at genetically improving cows, grew watery strawberries the size of softballs that no one would buy, and set up a “coffee cordon” around Havana that died out, because of bad soil.

Backed wrong side

Castro’s biggest mistake was backing the wrong side in the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Russian subsidies went away, Cuba’s standard of living during the “special period” plunged below that of Haiti.
“Lower than Haiti?” asked historian Thomas. “It seems possible.”

History is unlikely to absolve Fidel Castro. In 1959 he was an internationally recognized hero, an almost messiah-like figure to Cubans, and was overwhelmingly popular in the United States. Only 90 miles away from the world’s richest economy, Castro could have built a parliamentary democracy, a strong export economy based on sugar cane converted into ethanol, brought social justice to the Cuban masses, and been remembered as a Latin George Washington. That is likely to be history’s judgment on Fidel Castro: the man who had the world at his feet, and then blew it.

GOP leaders want to give corporate America HUGE Christmas pres!!!

From Stephen Colbert …

By Steven R. Maher

When George W. Bush was sworn in as President in 2001, America was in great shape. There was a large federal budget surplus, full employment, and the U.S. was not engaged in any military conflicts. Eight years later Bush left the country in disastrous shape: two wars, an economy hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs a month, the auto industry collapsing, home foreclosures occurring in gigantic numbers, and the financial system imploding.

This happened in large part because the Republican Congressional leadership ignored traditional Republican doctrine (balanced budgets, restraints on spending) and exploding the deficit by rubber stamping Bush’s huge tax cuts for the wealthy, increased social spending on Medicare without financing revenues, and a totally unnecessary war in Iraq.

Deficit

Facing a growing $20 trillion national debt, the Republican leadership has learned from the historical mistakes of the Bush Presidency, and are not doomed to repeat them. In a refreshing change, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have publicly stated tax cuts must “revenue neutral”, i.e., not increase the national debt.

“I think this level of national debt is dangerous and unacceptable,” McConnell was quoted in the December 12, 2016 Huffington Post. “My preference on tax reform is that it be revenue neutral.” McConnell went on to say of Trump’s plan for a trillion dollar investment in infrastructure: “What I hope we will clearly avoid, and I’m confident we will, is a trillion-dollar stimulus. Take you back to 2009. We borrowed $1 trillion and nobody could find that it did much of anything. So we need to do this carefully and correctly and the issue of how to pay for it needs to be dealt with responsibly.”

The same Huffington post article reported: “House Speaker Paul Ryan has also said he wants tax changes to be deficit-neutral, indicating that Republicans will assume positive macroeconomic benefits from tax cuts to ease the projected budgetary hit — a process known as dynamic scoring that is popular on the right.”

Trump wants to lower the corporate tax rate. He has also spoken of lowering the individual tax rate on the wealthy from 33% to 27%.

Corporate inversions

The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, nearly 35%. American companies have engaged in “inversions” to escape such corporate taxes, moving their headquarters to more tax friendly countries such as the Irish Republic. Many of these companies are holding trillions of dollars overseas.

Trump has stated he also wants a “revenue neutral” tax cuts by eliminating tax loopholes and simplifying tax returns to a one page form. If the U.S. were to reduce corporate tax rates to 15%, there would be enormous benefits to the country. Many U.S. corporations have made it clear they would bring home their trillions. Some of this money would be invested domestically, other funds would be available for loans.

The U.S. would have a very competitive environment which would draw in massive foreign investment. With a much lower tax rate American corporations would not be so quick to move their manufacturer facilities overseas. We would also be in the position to refinance our national debt with slightly longer term repayment periods, releasing funds for other usage. Currently, much of the bond notes being issued by the U.S. Treasury are short term notes.

There is a deal to be had here. Democrats should insist that the corporate rate only should change, and the individual tax rates should not be changed to benefit the wealthy. If all sides truly want to do what’s best for the country, this deal would be a decent compromise.

In the meantime, Americans of all political stripes should be glad that McConnell and Ryan are showing fiscal sanity at a time when it is desperately needed.

From Congressman Jim McGovern’s office …

McGovern Announces $836,000 for UMass Medical to Fight Heart Disease

Funds will Support Heart and Vascular Disease Research, push for Cures

Congressman Jim McGovern announced yesterday that UMass Medical School has been awarded $836,858 by the Department of Health and Human Services to support research on treatments and cures for heart and vascular diseases. The new federal funding is awarded through the Community Surveillance of Coronary Heart Disease program, a national HHS effort to invest in medical research at world-class universities like UMass Medical School.

“Heart disease impacts families across the country every year and there has never been a more important time to invest in life-saving medical research. This new federal funding for UMass Medical School will help them continue their cutting-edge medical research that will help save lives while supporting economic growth right here in Massachusetts,” Congressman McGovern said. “I am grateful to HHS Secretary Burwell for making this investment in our community and recognizing UMass Medical School as a leader in the fight against heart disease. Together we can continue to support this important work to help families in Massachusetts and across the country.”

The grant continues the decades-long work of the Worcester Heart Attack Study, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute since the mid-1980s. The community-based study provides 40 years of data about the number of heart attacks among residents of the Greater Worcester community and outcomes of their medical care during and after hospitalization. It also provides insights on how patients who experience heart attacks in the community are treated by physicians.

“We’re going to have a 40-year picture of heart disease, which is unique. What we’ve learned since 1975 is that even though Worcester heart attack patients have become older and sicker, often having multiple diseases, the incidence of heart attacks is declining, and patients’ prognosis both in-hospital and post-discharge is getting better,” said Robert Goldberg, PhD, professor of quantitative health sciences and founder and principal investigator of the renamed Worcester Heart Attack Study. “We think this is because patients are being much more aggressively managed with evidence-based care.

“What we want to learn is will these trajectories continue: will incidence of heart attacks continue to decrease? Will patients’ prognosis continue to improve? And how much more effectively can patients be managed?”

The new funding will help Dr. Goldberg and his research team achieve these goals by monitoring trends of heart attack patients; and patient management.

“Most novel is that we’re going to use bioinformatics and very technical approaches to sift through available medical records, be they in paper or electronic form, and see how machines do compared to our manual abstractors,” Goldberg said. “The goal is to streamline the approach to data collection and data abstraction and give feedback to investigators and clinicians in real time.”

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McGovern, House Democrats Call for White House to Strengthen Safeguards on “Killer Robots”

House Lawmakers Raise Concerns About New Military Technology

Congressman Jim McGovern led a group of House Democrats yesterday in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter to push for meaningful human control as a safeguard on lethal autonomous weapons systems, also known as fully autonomous weapons or so-called “killer robots – an emerging and concerning military technology.

The letter comes ahead of the upcoming Fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to be held at the United Nations in Geneva on December 12-16, 2016. The CCW is five-year Review Conference and will focus on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

In today’s letter to the Obama Administration, Congressman McGovern and House Democrats write that these weapons “would constitute a new method of warfare – and one that would not be for the betterment of humankind. Once activated, these weapons would be able to select and attack targets without any further human involvement. While these weapons do not yet exist, technology is racing ahead, and experts say that they could be procured within years, not decades.”

Joining Congressman McGovern on yesterday’s letter to the White House were Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), John Lewis (D-GA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Maxine Waters (D-CA).

The lawmakers expressed their support of “the call for a preemptive prohibition on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. This call has been endorsed by thousands of artificial intelligence and robotics experts, including many of the most respected people in those fields, as well as two dozen Nobel peace Laureates, more than 100 prominent faith leaders, numerous humanitarian organizations and many more. This prohibition, which should require meaningful human control over target selection and engagement for each individual attack, could be achieved as a new CCW protocol.”

In the letter, McGovern and House Democrats called on the Obama Administration to take the following actions at the CCW Review Conference next week:

· The U.S. should strongly support the continuation of discussions in the CCW on the legal, ethical, technological, proliferation, international security, and other challenges raised by what the CCW calls “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”

· The U.S. should strongly and unequivocally support the recommendation agreed to by CCW members, including the United States, in April that states establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) at this Review Conference to continue these deliberations next year. The creation of an open-ended GGE would move the CCW discussions from informal to the more appropriate formal status, and indicate that the CCW is making progress on the issue and intends to produce a result. Such groups have been the CCW’s established method of work for the past two decades to address explosive remnants of war, landmines and cluster munitions. The U.S. agreed to the recommendation in April with reluctance, and at an August meeting, the U.S. indicated its preference is to continue the process using the current format of informal meetings. Given the uncertainty on advancing arms control measures, support for proceeding to the more formal process seems warranted.

· The U.S. should propose an ambitious mandate for CCW work in 2017, one that states that CCW deliberations in 2017 should be carried out with a view to formal negotiations on lethal autonomous weapons systems in the future.

· The U.S. should propose that the CCW commits to at least four weeks of time for its deliberations on lethal autonomous weapons systems in 2017. In the past, the CCW has only made progress on issues when it devoted such an amount of time.

The Full Text of the Letter to the Obama Administration:

December 8, 2016

The Honorable John F. Kerry Ashton B. Carter
Secretary of State Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of State U.S. Department of Defense
Washington, DC 20520 Washington, DC 20301-1400

Dear Secretaries Kerry and Carter,

We are writing with respect to the upcoming Fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to be held at the United Nations in Geneva on December 12-16, 2016.

The main focus of this five-year Review Conference will be lethal autonomous weapons systems, also known as fully autonomous weapons or so-called “killer robots.” The high contracting parties, including the United States, will decide whether to continue discussions on this issue in the CCW, and if so, what the format, content, objective and duration of the talks should be.

We believe that fully autonomous weapons are a matter of vital concern. They would not simply be another weapon in the world’s arsenals, but would constitute a new method of warfare – and one that would not be for the betterment of humankind. Once activated, these weapons would be able to select and attack targets without any further human involvement. While these weapons do not yet exist, technology is racing ahead, and experts say that they could be procured within years, not decades.

We support the call for a preemptive prohibition on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. This call has been endorsed by thousands of artificial intelligence and robotics experts, including many of the most respected people in those fields, as well as two dozen Nobel peace Laureates, more than 100 prominent faith leaders, numerous humanitarian organizations and many more.

This prohibition, which should require meaningful human control over target selection and engagement for each individual attack, could be achieved as a new CCW protocol. The CCW has already taken similar action on one weapon, namely preemptively banning blinding laser weapons through its Protocol IV.

We urge that at the CCW Review Conference in December the U.S. delegation take the following actions:

· The U.S. should strongly support the continuation of discussions in the CCW on the legal, ethical, technological, proliferation, international security, and other challenges raised by what the CCW calls “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”

· The U.S. should strongly and unequivocally support the recommendation agreed to by CCW members, including the United States, in April that states establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) at this Review Conference to continue these deliberations next year. The creation of an open-ended GGE would move the CCW discussions from informal to the more appropriate formal status, and indicate that the CCW is making progress on the issue and intends to produce a result. Such groups have been the CCW’s established method of work for the past two decades to address explosive remnants of war, landmines and cluster munitions. The U.S. agreed to the recommendation in April with reluctance, and at an August meeting, the U.S. indicated its preference is to continue the process using the current format of informal meetings. Given the uncertainty on advancing arms control measures, support for proceeding to the more formal process seems warranted.

· The U.S. should propose an ambitious mandate for CCW work in 2017, one that states that CCW deliberations in 2017 should be carried out with a view to formal negotiations on lethal autonomous weapons systems in the future.

· The U.S. should propose that the CCW commits to at least four weeks of time for its deliberations on lethal autonomous weapons systems in 2017. In the past, the CCW has only made progress on issues when it devoted such an amount of time.

In closing, we would like to stress that we recognize the importance of artificial intelligence and robotics to the future of the U.S. military, and their central role in the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy, but we firmly believe that there must always be meaningful human control over critical combat functions.

Sincerely, …

*******

Bipartisan McGovern Human Rights Bill Passes Congress

McGovern Bill Will Crack Down on Corruption and Human Rights Abuses Around the World

McGovern Urges Trump to Continue U.S. Leadership on Human Rights

Congressman Jim McGovern this week applauded Congressional passage of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a bill he co-authored to crack down on corruption and human rights abuses around the world. … Congressman McGovern is one of four co-sponsors of the bipartisan legislation along with Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ). The bill now goes to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

“America must stand up for human rights at home and abroad. With today’s passage of the Global Magnitsky Act, Republicans and Democrats came together to continue America’s leadership on human rights around the world,” Congressman McGovern said. “This bill will empower the president to deny U.S. visas and freeze U.S.-based assets of human rights abusers and corrupt foreign officials. I urge President Obama to sign this important bill into law. This is an important step, but there is still much more work ahead.”

“During the campaign, two words I never heard Donald Trump utter were ‘human rights’ and that should concern all of us. President-elect Trump has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and other world leaders guilty of brutal crackdowns on dissidents. Since his election, President-elect Trump has continued to raise red flags about his approach to political opponents. … Americans need a leader who will stand up for the freedoms our country was founded on and I hope President-elect Trump proves his critics wrong and uses the new tools in this bill to bring the leadership we need on human rights.”

The Global Magnitsky Act allows the president to deny U.S. visas and freeze U.S.-based assets of human rights abusers and corrupt foreign officials. It also directs the president to consider information from NGOs when determining who to sanction. Members of Congress and certain assistant secretaries of state may also recommend names for sanction. The president is required to make public the names of individuals being targeted.

Congressman McGovern has been a leading voice in the call for U.S. leadership and action to strengthen human rights across the world, including in Russia. Congressman McGovern is one of the authors of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, legislation passed by both the U.S. House and Senate in 2012 to establish a critical precedent that human rights must be an essential component of trade legislation.

The Magnitsky Bill was named after Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and auditor who worked for Hermitage Capital Management. Magnitsky’s arrest and subsequent death while in Russian custody triggered both official and unofficial inquiries into allegations of fraud, theft, and human rights violations.

 

Vagina Monologues auditions! This Thursday – Dec. 8

audition-poster-12-8-16

Hello beautiful people!!!

Can you believe we are just a few days away from our first meeting?

The response has been positive and vibrant, and we’re expecting a good amount of folks.

V-Day Requirements …

We felt it is important to let everyone know that Vagina Monologue production has very specific guidelines that we have to follow in order to be able to perform it royalty-free.

A particularly strict guideline is that the performers are required to have a female identity.

Eve Ensler created the monologues with the sole purpose of bringing to light interpersonal and systemic violence against women and girls.

There is lots of support needed from folks of all genders in production and development, but for this production only the performers must identify with being female.

This conversation does not end here, however. We know males are survivors, and we know males are also phenomenal allies and bystanders. Therefore, Kim Dawkins and I are working on a future event for the male experience. So please know that folks who identify as male will have an opportunity to perform. We promise! As a multicultural organization, we feel strongly about this. However, for the Vagina Monologues we must keep true to the mission and vision of Eve Ensler.

The audition…

We ask that you have a 2 to 3 minutes of something prepared, but please do not do a monologue. Do anything but a monologue. We want to hear your voice (English, ASL, Spanish, German, whatever language and in whatever format, singing, poetry, slam poetry, prose, etc.). The purpose is not to screen folks out; rather we want to experience your voice as a performer, so that the directors can meaningfully assign monologues.

Audition times…

When folks arrive on Thursday we will have a sign-up sheet for the auditions which will begin around 6 pm.

Once again I will try and convince folks to not be nervous about the auditions… this is just to help us assign a monologue, not to vote you off the island.

The Spotlight…

Every year Ensler does a “spotlight” in that it’s a particular type of violence the campaign will highlight. Below is info about this year’s spotlight:

The 2017 Spotlight: In 2017 we are shining the Spotlight on Violence Against Women In the Workplace.

Violence against women at work takes place every day, in every country, across socio-economic levels – from laborers to company executives, to waitresses and teachers, at-home mothers, nurses, farmworkers, factory workers, actors, and domestic workers. The additional layer of exploitation is that, in many cases, women facing workplace violence are vulnerable and impeded from speaking out or seeking justice for fear of losing their job. All of this is happening in the context of a global economic reality where it is increasingly difficult for women to even earn a livable wage.

This year, we are honoring the sacred and valuable work of women around the world, in all its forms, by demanding safe, violence-free workplaces. The money raised by the 2017 Spotlight Campaign will provide support to groups working to eradicate sexual and gender violence in places of work.

This is particularly meaningful we think and we’ll be thinking about how to work this theme into the production.

If you would like to learn more about VDAY and the Spotlight campaign, please visit…

To learn more about the VDAY: http://www.vday.org/organize-event.html#.WEW_H7IrKCg

To learn more about 2017’s VDAY spotlight: http://www.vday.org/spotlight2017.html#.WEW_YbIrKCg

If you haven’t rsvp’d yet, there is still time!

Very much I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at 588 Main St, Worcester 01608, on Thursday!

Until the violence stops!

Ubuntu,*

Heidi Sue,

Heidi Sue LeBoeuf, LCSW
Counseling & Advocacy Director
My Pronouns: She, Her, They, Their