$650,000,000,000 to fight Covid Worldwide


IMF Approves $650 Billion in Emergency Currency to Combat Pandemic

Posted: 03 Aug 2021 06:23 AM PDT

By Olivia Engling

The IMF Board of Governors convened a special virtual session for final approval of US $650 billion in emergency reserve currency or Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). Countries will receive their share of Special Drawing Rights on August 23rd.

“More than $200 billion of these new reserve funds will go to developing countries to support pandemic relief and recovery efforts,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “While these resources are needed, developing countries must receive more aid to get beyond the crisis.”

More than $400 billion of the emergency currency goes to wealthy countries. Wealthy countries can donate their SDRs to developing countries directly, or through initiatives from the IMF or development banks.

“Most wealthy countries don’t need their share of Special Drawing Rights and they need to donate them quickly to developing countries struggling with the health and economic crisis,” stated LeCompte.

Read Jubilee USA’s IMF COVID response letter calling for Special Drawing Rights aid with nearly 270 signatories here.

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‘Enough is enough’: Vigil held for 15-year-old killed in shooting at Sycamore Park

NEWS

by: Sharifa Jackson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The community came together Thursday evening to remember a teenager who was killed at a south Kansas City park earlier this week.

A vigil was held for 15-year-old Terrell Bell who was shot Tuesday afternoon at Sycamore Park.

Friends and family at the vigil spoke of the aspiring football player and good student they all loved.Police say juvenile arrested and charged in killing of 15-year-old at Sycamore Park in south Kansas City 

“He was talking about going pro and going to college. He had a future on him. He had a future. I just wish that he was still here with us,” said Ruskin High School football teammate, Kenderal Webber. “I lost a lot of friends, but I was real close with Terrell. I wouldn’t never thought this would happen.”

Bell was described as a stand-out athlete at Ruskin High School. Many of his classmates, teachers and even coaches came to show their respects.‘It’s got to end’: Kansas City family devastated after 15-year-old shot, killed at park 

“He was like another little brother. I see him and my cousins running around. He was a good person and ya’ll took him from everybody now,” said Bell’s friend, Tyisha Peak.

Earlier this week FOX4 spoke to the teen’s pastor, Dennis Lester who said the teen was active and faithful member at the neighborhood church, Bethel Family Worship Center.

The pastor shared his grief and called for unity in the community.Victims identified in three fatal shootings in Kansas City Tuesday 

At the vigil, there were also calls for change and peace.

Local gospel artist Christian Fly delivering an emotional plea before the crowd.

“Enough is enough. Until we teach our kids that their neighbor is deserving of the same respect of those in their household. This going to continue to happen,” Fly said. “We got to teach them better problem-solving skills. Until pain hurts you enough to make you want to change, we are going to keep going through things like this.”

A juvenile has been arrested and charged in Bell’s death.

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Juvenile charged with second-degree murder in connection to fatal shooting of KCMO teen

Terrell Bell was shot Tuesday near Sycamore Park

https://www.kshb.com/news/crime/juvenile-arrested-charged-in-connection-to-fatal-shooting-of-kcmo-teenshooting-of-kcmo-teen

KCPD announced the arrest in Terrell Bell’s death Thursday night as family and friends gathered to honor the boy’s life.

Bell, who attended Ruskin High School, was shot Tuesday afternoon near Sycamore Park.

He initially suffered life-threatening injuries, but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Police did not identify the juvenile, who currently is detained at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center.

Bell was one of four people who died Tuesday due to gun violence.

Kansas City teen homicide victim remembered at vigil
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Gun Survivor’s Week in Review


Dear Kevin,

National Gun Violence Survivors Week is about elevating our voices and stories, because after living through terrible tragedy, we have found the strength to speak out to help prevent others from experiencing the same pain. It is an emotionally intense week, and after reading and sharing so many stories, I hope you will continue to practice self care and explore resources with the Everytown Survivor Network.  

I also wanted to share some of the incredible things you accomplished in the third year of National Gun violence Survivors Week.

Field Events: Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers organized close to 95 virtual events with more than 1700 in attendance, including the first ever NGVSW student summit. Thank you to all of you who organized and spoke at events to ensure survivor voices were heard across the country: from panel discussions to acts of service such as blood drives and book drives, it had a powerful impact. 

A moving event lead by California Survivor Engagement Leads

Social Media: Thousands of survivor stories were shared on social media, including 55k mentions of the hashtag #GVSurvivorsWeek and related terms. I was honored to be a part of the Survivor Twitter team — a truly powerful force — who were sharing stories of survivors in the Network all throughout the week to reach more Americans with the urgent message that we must address our country’s gun crisis. If you haven’t already and would like to, you can join the Survivor twitter team here, which engages on campaigns throughout the year. 

Federal, State, City Leaders: More than 370 survivors of gun violence released an open letter to the 117th Congress highlighting the shared life-changing trauma of gun violence, which we shared with elected officials and on social media and media during the week. Thank you to all of you who signed the letter. 

Our partners in Washington responded by lifting up your voices through social media, virtual conversations,  press releases, and floor speeches, including Ambassador Susan Rice, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA-03). The week was even featured during floor speeches in both chambers of Congress by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)

Beyond the federal government, dozens of mayors and state officials from across the country shared your stories on social media and issued mayoral proclamations. Everytown’s research team also put together a fact sheet for local government leaders on “Community-Led Services for Survivors.”

Partnerships: Over 65 partners, including nearly every gun violence prevention organization, national membership groups, non-profit organizations, and faith partners across various issue areas, joined the effort to lift stories and facts about the impact of gun violence. 

In the week leading up to Survivors Week, PEOPLE Magazine released People Features: Gun Violence Survivor Athletes, a virtual roundtable where members of the Everytown Athletic Council shared their personal experiences with gun violence.

Throughout the week, there were many media clips in which survivors spoke out about the impact of gun violence across the country. Here are just a few of them:

Aurora Cox,   Gun safety education is vital

Crystal Turner: Everything just changed:’ Jacksonville mom who lost 2 children works to change gun laws

DeAndra Dycus, Shot in 2014, my son still fights to live. Here’s what I want more than sympathy.

Jessica Curran-Lameroux, We need to change our laws so other families aren’t hurt by gun violence

John Owens, As a survivor of a point-blank shooting, a plea to see the gun epidemic we’re ignoring

Joshua Harris-Till, I grew up amid gun violence. We don’t have to live like this

Lisa Lowman, Survivors Lend Their Voices to Movement to Fight Gun Violence Crisis – Maryland Matters

Mollie Peterson, My Abusive Husband Had a Gun; Michigan Can Keep Others Safe

Neca Allgood, Survivors of gun violence know we don’t need HB60

Pastor Lorenzo Neal, I’m a pastor, gun violence survivor: I preach, pray that no family goes through such pain

Pam Simon, For Survivors of the Jan. 8 Tucson Shooting, Every Week Is National Gun Violence Survivors Week

Sharon Risher, Guns are white supremacy’s deadliest weapon. We must disarm hate

Taina Patterson, I am a survivor of gun violence, but it took me years to realize it. Here’s wh

An enormous thank you for all that you do. 

Together we care,

Debbie 

P.S. If you have feedback on National Gun Violence Survivors Week, we want to hear from you. Please fill out this brief feedback form.

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America Can Still Help Save the World


America’s extra vaccine doses could be key to global supply
Data: Duke Global Health Innovation Center. Chart: Michelle McGhee/AxiosThe Biden administration’s purchase of 200 million additional Pfizer and Modern doses means the U.S. could fully vaccinate 300 million people with just those two vaccines — and 355 million more people if four additional vaccines gain FDA approval, Axios World editor Dave Lawler reports.Why it matters: The White House says the U.S. will eventually donate excess doses to other countries, but it hasn’t released a plan to do so.Between the lines: Sources in the administration emphasize that despite the bulk orders, only two vaccines have been approved and supplies remain scarce.Most of the 1.2 billion doses of six vaccines currently on the books were purchased as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.Keep reading.
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Facial Recognition Wars


 Coming conflict over facial recognition
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
 
Efforts to restrict facial recognition are gathering momentum around the country, including the investigation of the Capitol insurrection, Axios Future author Bryan Walsh writes.Why it matters: With dozens of companies selling the ability to identify people from pictures of their faces — and no clear federal regulation governing the process — facial recognition is seeping into the U.S.Driving the news: The Minneapolis City Council voted yesterday to bar its police department from using facial recognition technology, Axios Twin Cities’ Nick Halter reports.Minneapolis will join other cities that have restricted the technology, including Portland, San Francisco and Boston.Keep reading.
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Has Impeachment failed us Again?


 What history will say about Impeachment II
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) greets Jason Miller, adviser to President Trump, at the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty ImagesHistorians are already drawing lessons from Impeachment II, Axios managing editors David Nather and Margaret Talev report:The power of impeachment: That’s pretty much gone. Historian Douglas Brinkley says if former President Trump is acquitted, it’ll be clear impeachment is a political process, not a legal one.America’s changing demographics: Renee Romano, an Oberlin College professor who specializes in the field of historical memory, says that outcome would raise the question: “Can America ever truly be a multiracial democracy?'”Congress leaves the field: With a Trump acquittal, the Senate would have passed on two chances to hold a president accountable for undermining the authority of Congress, said Andrew Rudalevidge, expert on presidential power.Share this story.
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Nonprofit and AARP to Offer Online Tech Classes for Older Adults


AARP Joins With Nonprofit to Teach Tech to Older Adults

Alliance allows OATS/Senior Planet to offer its free classes across the country

by Linda Dono, AARP, February 8, 2021 |

Image result for AARP Joins With Nonprofit to Teach Tech to Older Adults

OATS/SENIOR PLANET

En español | A nonprofit organization that specializes in teaching technology skills to older adults is uniting with AARP to offer its courses to even more older adults nationwide — for free.

Senior Planet and its parent organization, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), have been working with AARP on projects for a decade or more, including a How to Use Zoom class early in the coronavirus pandemic that drew more than 10,000 participants, says Tom Kamber, executive director of OATS/Senior Planet. Now OATS has joined forces with AARP as an affiliated charity, like AARP FoundationLegal Counsel for the Elderly and Wish of a Lifetime.

OATS will continue to offer its programs independently. AARP will support OATS in expanding its offerings and making them known to a wider audience through AARP’s new Virtual Community Center. The relationship with AARP allows both organizations to help more people learn the computer skills they need now more than ever because so many activities and events are available only online.



Before the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of adults in the United States had high-speed internet access at home, according to recent Pew Research Center data. But that number misses differences among age groups. About 4 of 5 adults ages 50 to 64 had high-speed internet then, higher than the U.S. average, but only 3 of 5 people 65 and older had the same access.

More than a quarter of people 65 and older told Pew researchers that they never went online. Past Pew studies have shown that online use drops even more among those 80 and older.

Tech anxiety transformed

In many cases, older adults lack confidence in their ability to use new devices and software designed to make their lives easier, the Pew researchers found. They watch from the sidelines as younger family members easily adopt new technology, potential employers use code words for age bias to target “digital native” job candidates, and the pandemic increases their isolationbecause of the COVID danger that meeting friends face to face may bring.

Jolynn Bailey, 67, a retired teacher who lives in Clifton, Texas, was a reluctant convert to technology. She had used a computer at work and for her grade books, but only because her school required it, she says. She used the computer her daughter bought her only to look at email and log on to Weight Watchers’ website.

Learn online

AARP has two places where you can sign up for free online classes and workshops:

• Senior Planet’s upcoming events

• AARP’s Virtual Community Center

Then the pandemic left her alone in her studio apartment with poor TV reception and a few DVDs — unable to go to the nearby gym, head to Weight Watchers meetings in Waco or meet with friends. Her daughter, who works for a tech company in California, found out about Senior Planet in April and suggested she try it. She waited three months, becoming more and more desperate for things to do.

“The first time I went on Senior Planet I was hooked,” Bailey says. “It gave me my world back and more than that, a whole new world.” Now she joins stretch or chair yoga classes to keep fit; participates in the virtual book club; and takes tech classes, even learning how to use an HDMI cable so she can watch YouTube videos from her computer on the bigger TV screen. She’s in Senior Planet discussion groups where she’s met people from across the country and often takes part in several workshops each day.

The idea for OATS/Senior Planet began when Kamber was working on part of the project to revitalize Lower Manhattan after 9/11. An 87-year-old woman in the area called him after learning about his website launch related to the project. But she didn’t have a computer and didn’t know about the internet. 

Kamber ended up tutoring her in his office. 

OATS was founded in 2004 in New York City as an outgrowth of those lessons. It now has Senior Planet physical centers in five additional cities: Palo Alto, California; Denver; Rockville, Maryland; Plattsburgh, New York; and San Antonio. Classes are entirely online during the pandemic, which allows anyone from across the country to participate, but in-person instruction will resume when it’s safe to do so.

Engagement erases isolation

Senior Planet programs are designed to teach adults 60 and older basic computer skills — including how to start, stop, mute, skip ads and enlarge a YouTube video — and more advanced options. Its interactive online classes, offered in English, Spanish and Chinese, are free to anyone of any age. About 50 classes are on the schedule each week.

“A lot of Latino adults aren’t up to date with technology. Some don’t even have internet access,” says Braulio “Brad” José Veloz Carvajal, a 73-year-old retiree in San Antonio who found out about the Senior Planet classes through his membership in the Pride Center San Antonio. He knew how to use a computer but retired from his job at the Pentagon in 2003, so he wanted to learn all about Google, Facetime and Zoom.

“With what I learned, I was able to talk to my family in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. That made me so happy.”— Brad Veloz, 73, of San Antonio

“With what I learned, I was able to talk to my family in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. That made me so happy,” he said after the months of lockdown because of the pandemic. “I hope Senior Planet teaches technologies that can provide a way to talk to other seniors in the Latino LGBT community and start support groups.”

Class participants can decide to just listen, speak up with questions or type comments in the chat area. Most sessions aren’t archived for future playback, although some how-tos are posted to Senior Planet’s YouTube channel, but popular courses are offered frequently.

“In some of our classes, we find that they come early and stay late to talk to each other,” Kamber says. “Our trainers seek out opportunities to engage people. They draw people out.” Follow-up with students has shown that participants are using their newfound knowledge.

Technology topics include a range of how-tos such as shopping on Amazon, using Google Maps and hosting a Zoom meeting. Some workshops focus on helping participants struggling with tech issues or learning how to keep their personal information secure. Better balance, chair yoga and stretching sessions are among Senior Planet’s fitness offerings.

“If I can Zoom, you can Zoom,” says Bailey, who decided to become a member of Senior Planet to go along with her 17-year AARP membership. “It’s not that complicated. You just need somebody to guide you through it. And that’s what Senior Planet knows how to do.”

Monica Bentivegna contributed to this story. Linda Dono is an executive editor for AARP. Previously, she served as a reporter and editor for USA Today, Gannett News Service and newspapers in four states, including The Cincinnati Enquirer.

AARP Virtual Community Center opens

Though anyone can register for most of Senior Planet’s free online classes on its website, some of the AARP-affiliated nonprofit’s most popular courses are being offered through AARP’s new Virtual Community Center, including these, which all start at 1:30 p.m. ET:

  • Feb. 15, All Things Zoom
  • March 1, Protecting Your Personal Info Online
  • March 15, Online Health Resources
  • March 29, Streaming and Smart TVs

The Virtual Community Center uses Zoom and a few other online platforms to allow users with common interests to learn together. As with Senior Planet’s offerings, these events are live and allow for interactivity — speaking or typing — with others in attendance. It’s not on-demand video.

“The Virtual Community Center is designed in many ways to be like an in-person community center. You sign up for a class and go to it” online, says Heather Nawrocki, AARP’s vice president of fun and fulfillment.

Events on a wide variety of topics, including books, fitness, history, music and screenings of AARP Movies for Grownups, are available now for signup. All are free, have no age restrictions and don’t require AARP membership to participate. Although the programs initially are in English, AARP is looking at expanding the signup platform as well as course offerings for Spanish speakers.

More on Personal Technology

Join the Discussion

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Recently, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to attend to the growing public health crisis of loneliness reported by 9 million people in their country


“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

-Luke 15:20

Recently, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to attend to the growing public health crisis of loneliness reported by 9 million people in their country. Our culture has mastered the art of relational distance. Too many of us are content to view one another from a long way off. Our past hurts, pains, disappointments and biases keep us so isolated and alone. But like this father who saw his son and became proximal to him, we are being nudged to close the chasm of difference and remember our shared humanity.

Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. Pastor McBride’s commitment to holistic ministry can be seen through his leadership roles in both the church and community organizations. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor McBride founded The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Lead Pastor.

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Stephen King on Trump’s Fanatics:“Jesus, man ….You act like the Red Chinese army was invading.”– “They’re just a bunch of scared and hungry people…”


From commons.wikimedia.org: Stephen King {MID-320340}
Stephen King
(Image by commons.wikimedia.org)
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Bestselling author Stephen King on Monday weighed in on President Trump’s recent warnings to the migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward the United States. King’s criticism came in response to a tweet Trump shared on Sunday stating that “full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther (sic) Border.” “Jesus, man,” King said in response to the tweet. “You act like the Red Chinese army was invading.” “They’re just a bunch of scared and hungry people,” the author said.

Read the rest of the story HERE:

At thehill.com
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A Dad’s Work to Stop Superbugs


The Pew Charitable Trusts
Antibiotic Resistance Project
Inside NIH’s Fight Against Superbugs
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addresses some of the greatest superbug threats—and what the agency is doing about them.
EXPERT Q&A
In Superbug Fight, ‘Victory Is Not at Hand’
“It’s a long road from exciting things happening in the lab to getting through a clinical process to the patient’s bedside,” Kathy Talkington, director of Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, explains in a Chicago Tribune editorial.
READ ON
A Dad’s Work to Stop Superbugs
For Men’s Health Month—June—get to know Chris Linaman. After his heartbreaking superbug experience, he’s working to help others avoid the trauma he endured.
WATCH
IN THE MEDIA
Antibiotics Weren’t Used to Cure These Patients. Fecal Bacteria Were.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Superbugs Could Render Even the Most Routine Procedures Deadly, Warns Chief Medical Officer
THE TELEGRAPH
Stanley Falkow, Microbiologist Who Studied Bacteria and the Diseases They Cause, Dies At 84
THE WASHINGTON POST
Antibiotic-Resistant UTIs Are on the Rise Around The World
COSMOPOLITAN
Antibiotics May Raise the Risk for Kidney Stones
THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Antibiotics are fundamental to modern medicine, essential for treating everything from routine skin infections to strep throat, and for protecting vulnerable patients receiving chemotherapy or being treated in intensive care units.

Pew’s antibiotic resistance project is working to ensure both the prudent use of existing drugs and a robust pipeline of new drugs in order to meet current and future patient needs.

SaveAntibiotics.org

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Even if John Stewart is Gone, We all Need to Keep taking on FOX and all the Media


I am going to put a lot of John Stewart videos in the comment section, like this one:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO_om3iK9kE

You probably heard the great news – after a few years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show–but the Boycott Must Go On!!

Ten years ago, Media Matters launched with a revolutionary mission: to systematically monitor the U.S. media for conservative misinformation every day, in real time. We’ve been calling out right-wing lies for a decade — and we’re not done yet. Will you contribute now to help us raise $10,000 for our 10th anniversary?

Media Matters Timeline

For ten years, we’ve successfully fought back against the bad actors that poison our media with right-wing lies and smears. It’s been an amazing beginning, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.

We’re in this for the long haul. Make an anniversary gift today to kickstart the next ten years of media accountability.

Dear Kevin,
You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show.
Beck was targeted after he slandered President Obama by saying, “This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is… This guy, I believe, is a racist.”
Activists at ColorOfChange, Media Matters, StopBeck, FoxNewsBoycott, and of course Democrats.com responded with a boycott of advertisers on Glenn Beck’s show. Ultimately over 300 advertisers pulled their ads from Beck, costing FOX over $40 million.
Advertiser boycotts work! And it’s time to boycott all FOX News advertisers:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
We’re starting our boycott of all FOX News with Proactiv, which sells acne medicine to teenagers and young adults. Why?
First, there are lots of other acne treatments. Second, young adults above all are hurt by FOX News, which promotes right-wing policies on race, education, healthcare, the environment, and war. Let’s get our future leaders to lead the fight against FOX News!
Sign the petition to Proactiv and enter the email address of every young adult over 18 you know:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Beyond President Obama, FOX regularly slanders nearly everyone: Democrats, unionized workers, the unemployed (including veterans and 99ers), environmentalists, feminists, blacks, Hiics, Jews, Muslims, progressives, scientists, and any other group it disagrees with.
FOX News broadcasts rightwing extremist slander, incitement to violence, political propaganda, and outright lies to promote its rightwing political agenda. This is not “news,” but rather a never-ending “war on news” – and it’s all documented in our petition.
Why would any decent company want to fund it? Tell Proactiv to stop advertising on FOX News:
http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Thanks for all you do!
Bob Fertik

GLEN BECK ADMITTED in 2007, “I Am RACIST and Barack Obama is very White” THIS MAKES Boycotting FOX NEWS needed NOW

By Kevin Stoda

Dear, American supporters of the Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) news networks.

AMERICANS are getting less tolerant of your racism and stronghold on our major media.

For example, we have noted that in his 2007 TV program from FOX (See on You-Tube), Glen Beck admitted he himself was racist. Further, Beck then, in contrast to 2009, called Barrack Obama much more white than black. (Apparently, Beck now he has other nonsense to mush men’s minds.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0tgvWxC_6A

Using a major news platform to promote racism and to tell people to disrespect a whole presidential administration through mixed truths, outright lies, and xenophobia, is not to be tolerated any more.

On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman asked Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP what he thought of Wal-Mart’s pull-out from advertising on the Glen Beck program on FOX.

NOTE: Goodman had simply asked , “The whole attack by Glenn Beck that drove this (resignation)? In your response from the NAACP to Van Jones, it says, ´The only thing more outrageous than Mr. Beck’s attack on Van Jones is the fact that there are sponsors that continue to pay him to provide this type of offensive commentary.` Do you support the continued boycott of companies like Wal-Mart of Beck’s show on Fox?”

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/8/white_house_environmental_adviser_van_jones

This is a particularly important point because Glen Beck´s HATE CAMPAIGN ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION led recently to a great American policy maker, Van Jones, quitting the government this week.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/06/van-jones-resigns/

Mr. Jealous said, “We certainly support them (Walmart) choosing with their dollars who they’re going to support. I mean, it’s—Glenn Beck is somebody who’s told a seven-year-old girl, a seven-year-old black girl, that he would buy her a ticket back to Africa, that she needed to go back to Africa. And then he comes out, and he says that healthcare is the beginning of reparations. I mean, this guy plays the race card on a weekly basis. He does it very aggressive—you know, in a very hateful way.”

Recall, first, that Van Jones is one of the most important and thoughtful men in America—however, the FOX (Fascist Oddball Xenophobic) news network chose to support a man, like Glen Beck, rather than seeing that tens of millions of Americans need to get health care from promoters like Jones and that our America economy needs to move starting today to the kind of economy that its competitors worldwide are already doing.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/95963/what_will_the_green_economy_look_like/

Let’s quote the wisdom and influential words of Van Jones on the absolute necessity to green the American economy NOW!

“I think it’s really important to point out that we’re sort of at the end of an era of American capitalism, where we thought we could run the economy based on consumption rather than production, credit rather than creativity, borrowing rather than building, and also, most importantly, environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration.”

Jones continued, “We’re trying to make the case in this book that that era is over. We now have to move in a very different direction. And key to that will be basing the US economy not on credit cards, but based on clean energy and the clean energy revolution that would put literally millions of people to work, putting up solar panels all across the United States, weatherizing buildings so they don’t leak so much energy and put up so much carbon, building wind farms and wave farms, manufacturing wind turbines. We argue you could put Detroit back to work not making SUVs to destroy the world, but making wind turbines, 8,000 finely machine parts in each one, twenty tons of steel in each wind tower, making wind turbines to help save the world.”

Finally, Van Jones wisely noted, “So we think that you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time. We think that you can actually power our way through this recession by putting people to work, but we’re going to have to start building things here and re-powering, retrofitting, retooling America, and that that’s the way forward both for the economy, for the earth and for everyday people.”

Note: These statements came from a program on DN from October of last year:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/28/van_jones_on_the_green_collar

Van Beck has written a book of the same title, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061650758/The_Green_Collar_Economy/index.aspx

America needs such voices as Van Jones in government leadership in America—not Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) types.

Clean up the American airwaves of all its fascism and racism, today.

http://www.pittsburghurbanmedia.com/a-petition-against-fox-conservative-host-glenn-beck.aspx

NOTE: One way to change the noise of Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) media moguls is to support alternative media organizations

http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/index

and alternative monitoring websites.

http://americas.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64380

Another way, is to demand that local radio and TV channels put better programming on, such as Democracy Now or news sources promoted by serious progressive journalists:

http://www.tacomapjh.org/progressive_news.htm

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John Coyote’s The White Flag


johncoyote Jan 8 https://johncoyote.wordpress.com/2023/01/08/the-white-flag-2/

The white flag

A Poem by Coyote Poetry

" How many people will die before war is stopped. Each days brother killing brother. Rich countries deciding who is right or wrong? "   

                                  The white flag..How many roads must a man walk down to understand.
Blood create more blood. Death demand more death.
Soldiers will fight and kill till there is no-one left.
Only memories left will be of a greedy people who killed and killed without concernI sat near a river. I asked the Gods of the morning. Why do I live?
I remember my sweet wife and kids who need me. Once I held a 30-30.
Waiting for death. I decided more reasons to live than die.I sat by graves of 20,000 men who die for freedom. The last great war.
WW2 was to open door to the utopia of peace. I wonder did we honor these brave men
by leading the world to murder and chaos.If you sell or give weapons to be used for murder. You are part of the murder.
If you screams separation and hate. You are the murderer of peace and calm.
USA spend more than a trillion dollars on war. There is no active war.
Twenty five cent of every dollar is for war from the taxes we paid.I tell the people from the sixties. Rise up, rise up.
Your words are needed today. How many more will die for the cause of peace?I don’t believe war and peace can be spoken in the same sentence.
Who will weep for the homeless? Who will weep for the children in the old cities
that were destroyed by war? Who is weeping for the mother holding child with
no place to go? Who will feed the misplaced and the homeless.I want to raise a white flag. I do not want my children, my grandchildren to follow
their father to war like I did.Rise up the new generation. Better to fight and stand for peace than die somewhere
for people who do not want our help.I saw and touched death often in Bosnia, Africa and the Middle East. I did learn. No winner
in war. Just useless murder of the poor people in the way of the war machine.It is time for logic. USA need to fix the boarders. Keep the bad folks out. Bring all the Soldiers
home and fix our country. USA is in trouble. Old wise saying. “Fix your house before trying to
fix someone else.”This is one planet and one people. If we don’t try to get along. What will we leave for the future generations?
I hope we don’t leave only a people who accepted hate and violence as a norm.                                     

Coyote/John Castellenas

The white flag..

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The white flag..


We need to stop killing one another

johncoyote

The white flag

A Poem byCoyote Poetry

" How many people will die before war is stopped. Each days brother killing brother. Rich countries deciding who is right or wrong? "

                                     The white flag..

How many roads must a man walk down to understand.
Blood create more blood. Death demand more death.
Soldiers will fight and kill till there is no-one left.
Only memories left will be of a greedy people who killed and killed without concern

I sat near a river. I asked the Gods of the morning. Why do I live?
I remember my sweet wife and kids who need me. Once I held a 30-30.
Waiting for death. I decided more reasons to live than die.

I sat by graves of 20,000 men who die for freedom. The last great war.
WW2 was to open door to the utopia of peace. I wonder did we honor these…

View original post 312 more words

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Tired as we enter into the new year


Rebecca Gordon, Another Exceptional Year?January 8, 2023

Originally, he was an America Firster, a phrase from the pre-World War II era deeply associated with anti-Semitism.  (Yep, he arrived there years before Ye ever made it on the scene!) As an America Firster, who undoubtedly snitched the phrase from Pat Buchanan’s 2000 presidential run, he even used it in his 2017 inaugural address. (“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first — America first.”) Initially, however, he rejected the allied idea of American exceptionalism.

As he put it at an event in Texas in 2015, “I don’t like the term. I never liked it. When I see these politicians get up [and say], ‘the American exceptionalism’ — we’re dying. We owe $18 trillion in debt. I’d like to make us exceptional. And I’d like to talk later instead of now.”And when you think about it, that was rather exceptional in its own way. After all, he was claiming — as no other politician would have dared to do at the time — that this country was anything but exceptional; that, in fact, it had to be brought back from the graveyard of history and that he was going to do so.  He was going to “make America great again” (MAGA), a phrase that, in 2015-2016, no other politician, Democrat or Republican, would have dared use.


Of course, his truest position was always Trump First and, in 2023, it’s undoubtedly Make Trump Great Again. However, explain it as you will, he did later adopt American exceptionalism when, assumedly, he had made his country and his presidency the exception to all rules. And of course, in January 2021, he gave genuine new meaning both to “Trump first” and “American exceptionalism” when he called on his followers to attend a “big protest in D.C.” that would “be wild” and support that most exceptional of all presidents, him.

In the Biden era, with the January 6th moment more or less behind us, we’re back to American exceptionalism, not that most of our politicians ever truly left it in the dust.

And as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg, reminds us today, lest you think otherwise, this country does remain all too exceptional, even if in ways that couldn’t be more unnerving. Let her explain. Tom
American Exceptionalism on Full DisplayWhy This Country Might Want to Lower Its ExpectationsBy Rebecca GordonLet me start with a confession: I no longer read all the way through newspaper stories about the war in Ukraine. After years of writing about war and torture, I’ve reached my limit. These days, I just can’t pore through the details of the ongoing nightmare there. It’s shameful, but I don’t want to know the names of the dead or examine images caught by brave photographers of half-exploded buildings, exposing details — a shoe, a chair, a doll, some half-destroyed possessions — of lives lost, while I remain safe and warm in San Francisco. Increasingly, I find that I just can’t bear it.And so I scan the headlines and the opening paragraphs, picking up just enough to grasp the shape of Vladimir Putin’s horrific military strategy: the bombing of civilian targets like markets and apartment buildings, the attacks on the civilian power grid, and the outright murder of the residents of cities and towns occupied by Russian troops. And these aren’t aberrations in an otherwise lawfully conducted war. No, they represent an intentional strategy of terror, designed to demoralize civilians rather than to defeat an enemy military. This means, of course, that they’re also war crimes: violations of the laws and customs of war as summarized in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).Click here to read more of this dispatch.
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After living in shelters and on the street, these 4 Older Americans now have places of their own


Meet 4 Older Americans Who Survived Homelessness

After living in shelters and on the street, they now have places of their own

By

Katherine Skiba,

AARP

En español

December 16, 2022

​Having a place to live — a bed, a bathroom, a kitchen — is something most people take for granted. But the number of older adults who no longer have a permanent residence is rising, and experts worry about the ramifications for their health, for their families and for society. ​

The stories of those facing homelessness are varied and tangled. These four Americans found themselves without a steady place to live after setbacks later in life. But with help from homeless advocates and from a mix of local, state and federal programs, they are living in places that give them security, allowed them to find steady work (if they were able), and let them take care of health problems.

Their stories provide a glimpse into their old lives, and their new ones.​

Terence Hill photographed in his apartment

Terrence Hill had a steady job until substance abuse landed him on the streets. He’s now sober.

Jared Soares

From street life to salvation​

Struggling with addiction, Terence Hill became homeless in his early 50s. For three months he lived in his Honda Civic in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., his belongings piled so high he couldn’t see out the rear window. ​

homeless man holds a house made of brown cardboard

Getty Images

Homelessness Among Older Adults 

Find out more about the crisis of the unhoused and how to help: 

“My base camp,” the 59-year-old called his car. At one point, Hill was so broke that he used a nylon stocking for a fan belt. ​

He’d park at McDonald’s to charge his phone, use the Wi-Fi and restroom and hope somebody would buy him a sandwich. At night he huddled under blankets and periodically ran the car’s heat. It was a colossal fall from grace for a chef named the 2016 employee of the year by Washington’s Fairmont Hotel.​

But drinking and drug use took over. Hill lost his apartment, then stayed temporarily with a sister.​

Next, he lived in his car and later he spent years in shelters in the Maryland suburbs. Outside the facilities, his substance abuse persisted. “Drinking day, noon, night, evening,” he remembers. “I mean, it felt normal to be drunk.”​

But man-to-man advice from a counselor propelled Hill toward recovery: Shower daily. Launder your clothes. Polish your résumé. Look for work. Attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Invest in yourself.​

“No, it didn’t happen overnight,” Hill says. “It was like a couple of months, but still, I was committed to rebuild a life.”​

He was treated for substance abuse, depression and post-traumatic stress from his early chaotic years, including time he spent behind bars. He’s been sober since February 2021.

​Now Hill’s one-bedroom apartment in Rockville, Maryland, has a balcony overlooking a pond with a fountain. The kitchen is chock full of cook’s tools and gadgets. At first the unit was subsidized; now he pays the rent from wages as a top chef at a hospital. He also serves on the Montgomery County Interagency Commission on Homelessness, which advises elected officials on policies and services.​

Hill gives back, counseling men who struggle to emerge from the demons that nearly suffocated him. “Even if you fall on your face, turn over and look up,” he tells them. “Try to get up. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”​

Read the Rest of this story here.

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Roth IRAs: Follow the rules and you’ll get tax-free withdrawals at retirement


Everything You Need to Know About Roth IRAs

Follow the rules and you’ll get tax-free withdrawals at retirement

By

Adam Shell,

AARP

December 21, 2022

Saving for retirement is about more than just growing your nest egg: It’s also about gaining an edge when it comes time to take your money out. And that’s where the Roth IRA shines.

The Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that comes with perks that traditional IRAs don’t offer. The biggest benefit of the Roth IRA is how tax-friendly it is. Although you can’t take a tax deduction on Roth IRA contributions, the money you sock away in a Roth IRA grows tax-free and also comes out tax-free, provided you follow the withdrawal rules. A Roth IRA will give you a tax-free income stream in retirement. You can keep more of what you earn.  

Another major benefit of a Roth IRA: You don’t have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) while you’re alive. In contrast, the IRS requires holders of traditional IRAs to start taking RMDs by April 1 of the year after they reach 72. With a Roth IRA, your money has more time to grow tax-free.

And that extra time means both your principal and your earnings can take advantage of compounding, which has the power to transform a humble account balance into a much more sizable one if financial markets rise in value, says Brandon Reese, senior wealth adviser at TBS Retirement Planning.

“If you retire at 62 with $100,000 in your Roth IRA, 10 years later it may be worth $250,000, and 20 years later nearly $675,000,” said Reese, using an average annual return of 10 percent to arrive at his guesstimate.

Contribution limits

For the 2022 tax year, the maximum contribution is $6,000, or $7,000 for those age 50 or older who take advantage of the $1,000 catch-up contribution. You can make a contribution to a 2022 Roth IRA until the April tax filing deadline in 2023. For the 2023 tax year, you can save even more because the contribution limits are adjusted for inflation each year. For the 2023 tax year, the max Roth IRA contribution limit rises by $500 to $6,500, or $7,500 for people 50 or older.

There’s one catch, however. How much you can contribute to a Roth IRA may be reduced or phased out to zero dollars, depending on your modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI, in IRS parlance. MAGI is your adjusted gross income on your 1040 or 1040-SR tax form, minus certain deductions, such as student loan interest.

In general, married couples filing jointly can contribute the Roth IRA maximum in 2022 if their MAGI is less than $204,000, and they can contribute the full amount in 2023 if they earn less than $218,000. Higher earners will be able to contribute either a reduced amount or nothing at all. The MAGI cutoff to contribute the maximum to a Roth IRA if you are single, head of household or married filing separately in 2022 is $129,000, and rises to $138,000 for the 2023 tax year.

Here’s a chart showing how much you can stash away in a Roth IRA in 2022 and 2023, depending on your income.

Roth IRA — 2022 vs. 2023 contribution limits

Filing status2022 MAGI2023 MAGIContribution Allowed
Single or head of household<$129,000<138,000Full
 >$129,000 and <$144,000>$138,000and <$153000Partial
 >$144,000>$153,000No
Married filing jointly or qualified widow(er)<$204,000<218,000Full
 >$204,000 and <$214,000>$218 ,000 and $228,000Partial
 >$214,000>228,000No
Married filing separately<$10,000<$10000Partial
 >$10,000<$10000No

Source: IRS

Withdrawals

You have to be older than 59½ and have held your account for at least five years before you can take tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals. These are called qualified withdrawals. However, you can withdraw your principal at any time, since you’ve already paid taxes on it.

The penalty for not meeting the age and holding period is 10 percent of the amount you withdraw. When you take an early distribution (or haven’t met the five-year test), you’ll owe taxes on your earnings. The IRS figures that you’re taking out your principal first, which is tax-free. If you withdraw all your principal, any earnings withdrawn early will be subject to ordinary income taxes.

You can take penalty-free (but not tax-free) withdrawals from your Roth if you’ve had it less than five years under certain conditions:

  • You’re using up to a $10,000 lifetime maximum for the first-time purchase of a home
  • You’re using the withdrawal for qualified education purposes
  • You’re using the withdrawal for qualified expenses related to a birth or adoption
  • You become disabled or die
  • You use the withdrawal to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses or health insurance if you’re unemployed
  • You will still owe taxes on the earnings you withdraw.

Happy heirs

The dual advantages of tax-free withdrawals and no RMDs benefit retirees in additional ways. These perks make it easier and more tax-efficient to leave money to heirs, in addition to providing added flexibility when making cash-flow decisions in retirement, personal finance pros say.

“Roth IRAs are a great wealth transfer vehicle for people who are already retired,” Reese said. “In fact, they enable you to transfer wealth tax-free.”

Let’s say you have just one granddaughter in her late 30s with a good-paying job. She currently has a high tax bracket. You want to leave your Roth IRA to her. Using the above example, that $100,000 Roth IRA account balance that grew to $250,000 or $675,000 in the 10 to 20 years since you retired can eventually be transferred to your granddaughter, who will also benefit from tax-free withdrawals, as long as you opened the account five years prior to your passing, says Reese.

Inherited Roth IRAs may have RMDs, depending on whether the beneficiary is a spouse or not. Consult a tax expert if you inherit a Roth IRA.  

“The beauty of the Roth IRA is if grandpa has money in a Roth and continues to save and invest, when the money is handed over to the grandchild, the inheritor can take the money as their own and any withdrawals are totally tax-free,” says Reese. “The wealth transfer happens without the IRS getting their hands on the money.”

Cash-flow options

Having a tax-free source of income, such as the Roth IRA, also provides cash-flow options. While retirees can start taking Social Security as early as age 62 (albeit with reduced benefits), your monthly payout will be significantly higher if you delay taking your benefits until after your full retirement age (FRA). In fact, the IRS will boost your monthly payout by 8 percent every year you hold off taking Social Security beyond your FRA, up until age 70.

So where does the Roth IRA come in? If you can take tax-free withdrawals from your Roth IRA, you can push out the date you start taking Social Security and take advantage of the 8 percent annual boost to your monthly Social Security check. There’s no other investment that “guarantees an 8 percent return like delaying Social Security does,” Reese says. What’s more, by taking income from your Roth IRA to meet your cash needs, you won’t inadvertently put yourself in a higher tax bracket, as you might if you pulled cash from a traditional IRA or 401(k), which are taxed at normal income rates, Reese adds. “The Roth IRA is a great way to bridge the income gap from the day you retire until the day you take Social Security,” says Reese.

If you’re holding a traditional IRA, converting to a Roth IRA might make financial sense, too. For one, with stock and bond markets currently depressed, the value of your existing IRA is likely lower than it was at the start of 2022. That means there will probably be a smaller gain and, therefore, a smaller tax hit when you do the Roth conversion.

Generally speaking, the best time to do a Roth IRA conversion is when you have “a dip” in your taxable income or your taxable income is negative for some reason, says Kelly Wright, director of financial planning at Verdence Capital Advisors. So-called “low tax years” can occur when, for example, you are well into retirement and your income is lower, or you have a massive medical deduction for dental work or some type of huge loss on your books.

If you have any of those factors working in your favor, “you’re better off doing a Roth conversion now and paying little or no taxes,” Wright says. And you’ll get tax-free withdrawals in the future, too.

Adam Shell is a freelance journalist whose career spans work as a financial market reporter at USA Today and Investor’s Business Daily and an associate editor and writer at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

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Is It Cold, Flu or COVID?


Flu Guide: What to Know This Season

Is It Cold, Flu or COVID?

Test your knowledge on these common respiratory illnesses

by Rachel Nania, AARP, December 21, 2022

Luis Alvarez

En español

Take the Quiz here.

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Dear Biden, Fix the Immigration System, Make America Better Again!


Subject: Support unaccompanied children’s safe access to protection at the border

Dear President Biden,

With the potential end of the Title 42 border policy drawing near, it is imperative that no restrictive policy replaces it, and that the Biden Administration fully reopens ports of entry to unaccompanied refugee children so that they can safely access the protection they so desperately need.

For years, ports have been closed to protection seekers — even to many unaccompanied children. This means for many children, the ability to ask for help is limited and far more dangerous than it should be. Restoring access to these ports — which exist to facilitate safe and orderly reception at the border — will provide a lifeline for those children.

The Biden Administration must also refrain from replacing the Title 42 policy with equally misguided measures that could block protection-seeking families from pursuing safety in the United States and ultimately split those families apart. President Biden pledged to “restore and strengthen” the United States asylum system. Now is the time to make that commitment real by ensuring that unaccompanied children and other migrants in danger can securely ask for protection at the border.

Please take prompt action to protect these children now.

Yours, very sincerely,

Kevin Stoda 
3229 Kensington Ave

Kansas City MO 64128-2116
United States

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EEOC Rules against Circle K for Retaliations


Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs
131 M St. NE 
Washington D.C. 20507
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
newsroom@eeoc.gov Contact: Victor Chen, James Ryan  , Christine Nazer, Kim Dulic,         
Joseph J. Olivares, Brandalyn Bickner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 29, 2022CIRCLE K TO PAY $8 MILLION TO RESOLVE EEOC DISABILITY, PREGNANCY, AND RETALIATION CHARGES


PHOENIX – Circle K Stores Inc. has entered into a nationwide agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve disability, pregnancy and retaliation discrimination charges, the federal agency announced today.     This resolution resolves multiple charges of discrimination filed against Circle K and related entities, ending an investigation in which the EEOC determined it had reasonable cause to believe Circle K denied reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and those with disabilities, subjecting them to actions such as involuntary unpaid leave, retaliation, requiring employees be 100% healed to return to work, or terminations.    

These actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.     Circle K will pay $8 million to resolve this matter, which includes a class fund to compensate aggrieved individuals and will cover impacted individuals employed at Circle K between July 10, 2009, to September 26, 2022.     In addition, the company has agreed to update its policies, as needed; appoint a coordinator to provide oversight on pregnancy-related disability policies, requests for reasonable accommodations, and maintenance of records; conduct climate surveys and exit interviews with specific attention to their accommodation process; conduct anti-discrimination training to all employees, including management; and require performance evaluation of managers include consideration of compliance with EEO laws.

This settlement is in effect for four years.     The pre-litigation agreement was voluntarily entered into by Circle K and obtained through the EEOC’s conciliation process.     “We are pleased Circle K worked cooperatively with the EEOC to reach this conciliation agreement and, through our joint efforts, we have been able to bring about real change at Circle K without resorting to litigation,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.     “Employers must ensure that all individuals with disabilities or those who are pregnant are given an opportunity to request an accommodation and are granted accommodations when required by law,” said Melinda Caraballo, acting district director of the EEOC Phoenix District Office.

“These accommodations can include actions such as additional leave beyond FMLA leave, modified work schedules, modified duties, modified policies, equipment, and reassignment, as a last resort.”     “When employers have rigid maximum leave policies with no flexibility to give additional leave for a disability or pregnancy-related reason, they are in serious danger of running afoul of the law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Employers who don’t give current employees a reassignment to an open position after the employer decides there is no reasonable accommodation available in the current position are also in danger of violating the law.”    

“The EEOC investigation stemmed from discrimination charges filed between 2010 and 2015. Circle K expanded our operations and integrated thousands of stores and tens of thousands of employees during this period,” said Circle K’s Vice President of Human Resources, Mark Novak. “Throughout the past decade, we have made a focused effort on centralizing and strengthening our ADA compliance efforts.

If you are a current or former employee of Circle K who sought a reasonable accommodation such as leave for a disability and/or pregnancy, and were terminated at some period between July 10, 2009, and September 26, 2022, please contact the EEOC v Circle K Settlement Administrator, JND Legal Administration, by mail at PO Box 91243, Seattle, WA 98111, by phone toll-free number at 1-844-633-0691, or by email at info@EEOC-ADA-PDA-Settlement.com. 

Additional information is available on the settlement website at www.eeoc-ada-pda-settlement.com where individuals can file a claim. You could be eligible for compensation.   

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and most of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).     The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.###

 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission131 M St. NE, Washington, D.C.  0507www.eeoc.gov | info@eeoc.gov800-669-4000 | 844-234-5122 (ASL Videophone)
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Racist Russia Leaders/Judges and Brittany– We protest! Demand her Release!!


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Brittney Griner needs Prayer and Russia’s Judicial System Must be called Racist, Right? (What do you think?) #2


Brittney Griner: Jailed US basketball star moved to Russian penal colony

  • Published 6 days ago
Brittney Griner sits in the defendants' cage in court in Russia in August
Image caption,Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony by a court in Russia in August

By Alex Binley

BBC News

Jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner is being moved from a Russian prison to a penal colony.

She was arrested at an airport near Moscow in February when cannabis oil vapes were found in her bags.

The double-Olympic winner was convicted of smuggling and possessing cannabis oil in August and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony.

While the use of cannabis is illegal in Russia, Moscow has been accused of using Griner “as a political pawn”.

On Wednesday, the 32-year-old’s legal team said the transfer began last week and Griner was on her way to a penal colony, but they added that they had not been told where she currently is or where she is being sent to.

The US embassy is normally informed of where international prisoners are held. Griner’s team believe they may not be told for two weeks.

Penal colonies are the descendants of Soviet-era enforced labour camps, otherwise known as gulags.

In them, prisoners are housed in barracks and perform labour. Penal colonies are also a source of income, with some containing factories that produce items such as food or clothing, while some inmates undertake construction work.

Western Conference All-Star Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury attempts a slam dunk against the Eastern Conference during the first half of the WNBA All-Star Game at US Airways Center on July 19, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona
Image caption,Griner is the first woman in the league to consistently dunk

At the time of her trial, Griner pleaded guilty, but said she had made an “honest mistake” and had not meant to break the law.

Last month, Griner – who is seen by many as the greatest female basketball player of all time – and her legal team appealed against her nine-year sentence, but a court near Moscow upheld it, with the state prosecutor calling it “fair”.

The double Olympic winner apologised for her “honest mistake” in the appeal hearing via video link, saying her imprisonment had been “very, very stressful” and “traumatic”.

Speaking afterwards, the WNBA star’s lawyer, Alexander Boykov, said his team hoped that a prisoner exchange would be possible.

Mr Boykov has also criticised Griner’s sentence for being unduly harsh: “No judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law,” he said after her appeal was rejected.

In Russia, possession of less than 6g of cannabis is normally punishable by a fine or 15 days in detention. Griner is thought to have had less than 1g when she entered Russia to play basketball during the US off-season.

Following the rejection of her appeal, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, told the CBS Mornings programme that the basketball star was a “hostage” of the Russian government.

She said she did not know if her spouse “has anything left in her tank to continue to wake up every day and be in a place where she has no-one”.

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury high fives fans as she walks off the court following the first half of the WNBA game against the San Antonio Stars at Talking Stick Resort Arena on July 30, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona
Image caption,The basketball star has remained dominant in WNBA since her rookie year

Speaking after Griner’s transfer to the undisclosed penal colony, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US was “unwavering” in attempts to free her and other detained Americans.

She added that US President Joe Biden had ordered his administration to swiftly “prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US expected Russian authorities to provide its embassy officials with access to Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia.

In late July, the Biden administration proposed a prisoner swap with Russia to secure Griner’s release, as well as that of ex-marine Paul Whelan, who Moscow accuses of spying.

Officials said Russia had yet to respond positively to the suggestion and said diplomacy should not be conducted in public.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a week after Griner’s arrest and the US’s backing of Kyiv have further inflamed tensions between the two countries.

More on this story

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