Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scenes from two different meals

The previous is a link from a blog of a former colleague and friend, Cliff Lyon. Cliff still lives in Utah and we had many hours of fabulous conversation about religion, politics, people and the world in general during our friendship.

I have linked the One Utah blog to mine to maintain my Utah ties, but also so that my regular readers might on occasion find something interesting to read.

This post was so stunning, I just had to share it - in light of the "tea parties" that took place around the country yesterday, in light of the President's high approval ratings, it seems fitting that we should read about such things.

Feedback appreciated -


Sikhs fight Army over bans on turbans, uncut hair

I was surprised to see this story on CNN earlier today.

In this age of low enrollment, both for enlisted and officers in the Army, this story recounts the travails of two Sikhs who are going to be compelled to shed both their turbans and facial hair which they wear for religious reasons, in order to report to duty.

Years ago while serving as an Army wife, I learned of the "profile" that African American soldiers were able to use in order to wear beards due to having hyper sensitive skin - that is, skin that would break out in a rash if they shaved. They wore neatly trimmed beards instead of being closely shaven.

That is what is known as a "reasonable accomodation". I wonder why the U.S. Army, defender of religion, civil rights and all that is good and decent (for the most part) is not going to bat for these soldiers.

Methinks that the ACLU will become involved in this fray - it is just the sort of thing that the organization is there for.

Here is the link to the article - I am curious to see the feedback:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New York Governor to propose legalizing same-sex marriage

This headline from the CNN online ticker surprised me today. David Paterson has stepped into the fray of gay rights marriage and sees, as do I and countless others, that this is akin to passing hate crimes legislation - it is a civil rights issue.

I had thought that the Governor would wait until he had been elected and was safely esconced in Albany for 4 years prior to taking on this hot potato - at least, I read as much last year. Clearly he has taken a calculated risk in coming "out" like this relative to such a highly political issue.

Here is an excerpt from the story: "There is clearly a problem in that those individuals who are gay or lesbian who would live in a civil union are still not entitled to somewhere between 1,250 and 1,300 civil protections" available to married couples, Paterson said. "We would like to try to address that at some point in the near future."

And: "Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer introduced the same bill in 2007. It passed in the Assembly 85-61 but died in the state Senate.

The bill's chief supporter in the Senate, Democratic state Sen. Thomas Duane, said Paterson "knows how hard it is to pass this kind of legislation."

"He worked to try to pass hate crime legislation for many years," Duane said. "I know how strongly the governor feels about this kind of civil rights legislation."
Paterson has previously said he is committed to bringing "full marriage equality in New York State."

"No governor in the history of New York has been at the forefront," said Kellner. "He realizes it is the civil rights movement of the 21st century."
Duane agreed. "I also know that he [Paterson] knows that this will be a defining moment."

I am hopeful that the GLBT community will be able to organize and lobby senators and legislators on this issue so that we can get the bill passed in Albany - Equality is right. I will be in Albany on April 28th for Equality and Justice Day - I encourage my GLBT friends and allies to do the same.

Here is the link to the story:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Plan to change student lending sets up a fight

It seems that these days, one hears more and more of Republicans putting up a fight against yet another plan proposed by Democrats. One would think that they could find something more constructive to do, rather than obstruct and hire overpaid lobbyists to keep themselves electable.

I am not particularly a fan of large government, and I fully appreciate that makes me in the minority as an avowed Democrat. In this case, President Obama is on target. Essentially, the plan proposes that the government take over subsidized loans currently made by banks, giving low income students greater access to financial aid.

Here is an excerpt from the article: "For lenders, the stakes are huge. Just last week, Sallie Mae reported that despite losing $213 million in 2008, it paid its chief executive more than $4.6 million in cash and stock and its vice chairman more than $13.2 million in cash and stock, including the use of a company plane. The company, which did not receive money under the $700 billion financial system bailout and is not subject to pay restrictions, also disbursed cash bonuses of up to $600,000 to other executives.

Sallie Mae said that executive compensation was lower in 2008 than 2007 and that the stock awards were worthless in the current market.

Critics of the subsidized loan system, called the Federal Family Education Loan Program, say private lenders have collected hefty fees for decades on loans that are risk-free because the government guarantees repayment up to 97 percent. With the government directly or indirectly financing virtually all federal student loans because of the financial crisis, the critics say there is no reason to continue a program that was intended to inject private capital into the education lending system."

First Fannie and Freddie Mac and now Sallie Mae - when are these people going to get it? It is just not ok to keep on giving out HUGE compensation packages when losing money. Competition, even if it is from the government - is the best way to combat this.

Students all over the country are scrambling to secure financial aid, with banks making tighter parameters for those wishing to lend monies. They have received their TARP funds and now don't want to part with any loan money which was part of the reason they received the funds in the first place. Some banks are even considering giving back their TARP funds because they do not wish to be accountable to the government for what they do/have done with them.

Sallie Mae is not going down without a fight - just last week, Albert Lord, their CEO held a town-hall type meeting, announcing the return of some 2,000 jobs that went overseas in 2007. How very convenient. They have additionally brought in two major lobbyists. Here is another excerpt from the article: "To press its case, the nation’s largest student lender, Sallie Mae, has hired two prominent lobbyists, Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, led the Obama transition, and Jamie S. Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration."

This is going to be an interesting and potentially volatile showdown. Stay tuned.

Here is the link to the story:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The first showdown on healthcare

The shoe is on the proverbial other foot. President Obama is seeking healthcare reform - he is desirous to insure the some 50 million uninsured in this country. The task is daunting and certainly ambitious. It is also long overdue. We all remember when First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to accomplish same when her husband, Bill was President some years ago. Giant healthcare conglomerates hired lobbyists to effectively incapacitate her efforts. They won.

In this case, Obama and his amazing staffers have come up with a palatable version of healthcare reform - palatable to most that is, except Republicans. Evidently, they have forgotten all the nefarious legislation that they pushed through these past few years of having majority rule.

Here is an excerpt from a story that posted earlier in the NY Times: "If reconciliation is endorsed, the budget resolution will direct relevant committees to prepare health care legislation that can be merged into a single bill and then passed by a simple majority of those voting. That would make it easier to adopt such important measures as a tightly regulated insurance exchange for those without group coverage, a new public plan to compete with private plans, and mandates that employers contribute to the cost of covering their employees.

The reconciliation approach is not bulletproof. It is primarily designed to deal with spending and revenue issues that affect the deficit. Under current rules, senators can seek to remove any provisions deemed extraneous or “merely incidental” to such budgetary concerns. Nobody is quite sure how the Senate parliamentarian would rule on such items as tighter regulation of private insurers or creation of a new public plan or incentives to improve the coordination of care.

Republicans are also complaining that reconciliation limits the hours of debate and the opportunity for amendments. But Congress has already been wrestling with health care reform in multiple committees, so the need for more posturing in floor debate is not apparent. There are also dire warnings that resorting to reconciliation will poison the atmosphere for bipartisanship. That may well happen, but so far most Republicans have shown little appetite for cooperation on anything."

Here is the link:

We are in exciting times, challenging for sure, but exciting nonetheless. Republicans have at least 4 years to learn what it has been like for Democrats to have virtually no say in the running of the country.

America's uninsured have not shown collective power

That is the title of a story that posted today on AOL. I have been uninsured for about 18 months now, since having to choose between having a full time job with health insurance and being a homeless person. I chose a place to live. National health care of a sort is an issue that I care deeply about. While I am not a lobbyist, I know how the process works. I have lobbied about various causes on several occasions, immigration, women's issues, homeless issues, gay rights, payday lenders and the like.

It is unfortunate that those of us who are not insured do not have the time, means and wherewithal to lobby effectively - we are simply too busy living life, holding one, two or three part time jobs in order to make ends meet.

Here is an excerpt from the article: "The number of uninsured has grown to an estimated 50 million people because of the recession. Even so, advocates in the halls of Congress are rarely the uninsured themselves. The most visible are groups that represent people who have insurance, usually union members and older people. In the last election, only 10 percent of registered voters said they were uninsured.

The grass-roots group Health Care for America Now plans to bring as many as 15,000 people to Washington this year to lobby Congress for guaranteed coverage. Campaign director Richard Kirsch expects most to have health insurance.

"We would never want to organize the uninsured by themselves because Americans see the problem as affordability, and that is the key thing," he said.

Besides, added Kirsch, the uninsured are too busy scrambling to make ends meet. Many are self-employed; others are holding two or three part-time jobs. "They may not have a lot of time to be activists," he said.

If you want to get involved with this issue such as I am going to now after reading this article, here are links to the White House, agencies and groups that might be helpful:

White House:
Health Care for America Now:
Commonwealth Fund:
Institute of Medicine:

Here is the link to the story:

We are clearly in need of health care reform in this country - those who have jobs that offer healthcare can stay insured and the over 50 million of us without insurance could "buy" into a cheap group plan. That way we would not have exhorbitant copays and we would not have to wait months to see a specialist. That is, of course, one person's opinion.

A Jewish carpenter and a cross

I have attended quite a few religious services in this past week - my first Good Friday morning and afternoon services, my first Tenebrae service and my first Saturday night Easter Vigil, complete with bonfire, drum, candles and procession. They were all deeply moving and for varied reasons.

At the church where I presently worship, there is a day program for stroke survivors. It is a place for stroke survivors to fellowship and socialize, spending time with friends and making new ones. Father Joe, the priest in charge of St. Andrew's Episcopal church asked one of the participants - a carpenter who is also Jewish - to make a cross for the parish to celebrate Good Friday.

The wood was chosen - then lovingly fashioned into a cross - for religious services in a religion with which the carpenter likely had/has significant differences of opinion. The deep stain was applied and buffed to a high polish. It stood in the Narthex (entry to the church) complete with a crown of thorns. The sight was indeed moving.

When the Father explained the origin of the cross, I began to weep openly - the significance of it was so very real.

At one point during the service, we were advised by the priest that we could go forward and show a sign of respect - he went out of his way to explain to the congregants that a sign of respect could be anything from kissing, to kneeling, to genuflecting etc. There were a few Catholics at the service that night, and as is traditional at Easter - a few people who come to service once a year to show their love for the Saviour. He was explaining various modes of worship/respect in order to make them feel at ease. Feeling at ease is not something we all are able to do in church, particularly during High Holidays or Holy Week and even more so if we are not regular attendees.

I touched the cross and said a prayer and went back to my seat - a changed person - after all these years of calling myself a saint - as in a Latter Day Saint - one who follows the Saviour, I finally understood the crucifixion and suffering, as well as the Easter season.

On Saturday, I reaffirmed my Christian faith - helped along by a very dear friend. My mother sang a beautiful solo and many friends were in attendance. It has been a long path - this journey that I am on - the story is not finished - I continue to walk with God and remember that he loves all of his children - regardless and in spite of their religions.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mitt Romney dumping his real estate - does he really think the American people are THAT stupid?

Real estate » The former Massachusetts's governor also plans to sell his Boston house.
By Paul Foy

The Associated PressSalt Lake Tribune

Updated:04/08/2009 07:00:36 PM MDT

Race-car driver and money manager Hal Prewitt bought Mitt Romney's ski house at Deer Valley Resort for "a little less" than the asking price of $5.25 million, his agent said Tuesday.
"It's beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous, very tastefully and artfully decorated," Prewitt, 54, of Miami Beach, said Tuesday from the 9,500-square-foot house. "He wanted to sell and I wanted to buy, so it wasn't difficult to come to an agreement."

Romney also has a tentative buyer for his suburban Boston house, his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said Tuesday. The 6,400-square-foot Colonial on 2.5 acres in Belmont is expected to fetch about $3 million.

The Romneys plan to keep a $10 million summer home on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., and a $12 million beachfront compound in La Jolla, Calif.
The sale of the Utah and Boston homes has been described by political analysts as a way for Romney to prepare for another presidential race without having to explain why he owns excess real estate -- the issue that brought ridicule on rival Republican candidate John McCain last fall.
Fehrnstrom has said Romney and his wife, who raised five sons in Boston, are simply "downsizing and simplifying."

Prewitt said he was happy to buy the Utah house from Romney on March 27. He moved in the next day, ending an eight-year search for a perfect vacation home near a Rocky Mountain ski resort.

"I love it. It's fantastic," he said. "We'll use it as a launching pad for winter recreation."
He described negotiations with Romney as cordial and said Romney knew exactly how much real estate was worth in the Park City area.

His real-estate agent, Carlyle Morris, said nothing mattered more to Prewitt than a place with views, privacy and a prime location.

"We showed him a lot of other places, but if he could see a rooftop [of another house], he didn't like it," Morris said.

The Romney house, on a dead-end street, fit the bill. It was on market for about two months.
Prewitt on Tuesday was busy updating the home electronics for high-definition television and wireless Internet. He'll be able to manipulate video and audio controls using an iPhone, he said."

Does Mitt Romney - the darling of the Mormon church and the Republican Party really think we are THAT stupid, that naive, that forgetful? Even were he to become the heir apparent for the next general election, we all remember that he owns several homes dotted around the country's landscape. Let us not forget, some in Utah thought he might run for governor of that state based on his owning a piece of real estate - where have I heard that before? Let's see - ahhhh - yes - that would be Madame Secretary Clinton.

I say enough already - give the American public a little credit and let us decide for ourselves who we want to represent us in 2012. I have a suspicion it will not be an ueber wealthy white man who does not represent us and our opinions.

Take back the land - civil disobedience - I love it!

Over two decades ago, I attended a rally to stop the proliferation of nuclear power plants in Western Germany at the time. I attended rallies at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park in London. Since that time, I have attended rallies against the Darfur genocide, against the war in Iraq and other causes near and dear to my heart. Civil disobedience and social justice have been in my blood since I was raised in the home of two parents who allowed me to be myself and we even prayed for people like Angie Davis. As a young teenager and most impressionable, I did not truly understand who she was, nor why we were praying for her, but I knew that if it was important enough for my parents - particularly my mother - it was good enough for me.

I was fortunate enough to meet Angie Davis a couple of years ago at the University of Utah. The auditorium was packed - she spoke of civil disobedience and social justice and said that the fight is still not over - there is still racism to combat and many other issues to be addressed.

For the last several months, I have been following, as have many of you, stories of the economic downturn and hope that the President is right when he indicates that there are glimmers of hope to be seen.

What continues to distress me are the foreclosure rates in the country. It is not right that people should lose their homes due to unemployment. It is not right that the American government is not like some European governments - in that they help pay rent and mortgage payments when a person is in an economic transition due to having lost employment. I do recognize that the Obama administration is cognizant of the personal toll that this takes on families and they are taking steps to address this inequity.

A story today in the NY Times spoke eloquently of a group calling themselves "take back the land" - a squatters rights group. They help homeless and otherwise displaced individuals to move into homes that are vacant. I think that instead of bailing out all of these companies, AIG, GM, banks with TARP funds, etc., the government should buy these homes at a short sale and then rent them or sell them to low income individuals or people who have lost their jobs. This would truly provide shelter for those who need it, and would provide stability for those who have been victims of the unforgiving economy.

Please take the time to read the poignant story - it is definitely food for thought.

Here is an excerpt from the story:" Other groups, including Women in Transition in Louisville, Ky., are looking for properties to occupy, especially as they become frustrated with the lack of affordable housing and the oversupply of empty homes.

Anita Beaty, executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, said her group had been looking into asking banks to give it abandoned buildings to renovate and occupy legally. Ms. Honkala, who was a squatter in the 1980s, said the biggest difference now was that the neighbors were often more supportive. “People who used to say, ‘That’s breaking the law,’ now that they’re living on a block with three or four empty houses, they’re very interested in helping out, bringing over mattresses or food for the families,” she said.

The bottom line is this is all about people helping people. As I stated in an earlier post this week "we are all in this together."

Here is the link to the story:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Island DIY: Kauai residents don't wait for state to repair road

I am a proud Democrat - have been since I was born and raised in the home of two parents who are also proud Democrats.

I am not a believer in big government, contrary to the mainstream Democrats. I believe that people should help themselves - as in, neighbors and family - helping each other out whenever possible. That could be a church family, blood relatives, a family of neighbors or a group of friends.

On the island of Kauai, residents grew weary of waiting for the government to come and fix a road that needed to be repaired. This road was key to the survival of the livelihood of many neighbors. Machinery, steel and tools were donated and the neighbors set about getting done what needed to be done. The state government did not have the money, but they were not willing to sit and cry in their proverbial beer - oh no! They got together and fixed the road themselves.

The story is short - please take a look:

This I believe - Judith Warner Blog

As my regular readers know, I am on a spiritual journey. I have been for several years. Having been raised Episcopalian and attended parochial school, I left the Episcopal faith of my youth and I joined the Mormon faith at the tender age of 17 and left it after 23 years mostly over doctrinal issues surrounding the gay rights issue, women's equality and racism that continues to permeate parts of the church - read - Utah - after some 30 years of their being forced by the ACLU to accept blacks into full fellowship.

This year, I wanted to attend Passover services - the High Holidays - It is Holy Week and it seemed only fitting that I should be able to attend those services in addition to my own. At Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City, I attended an interfaith service once and was so moved by the service, the beauty of the synagogue, the music and the general feeling of faith, spirituality and goodwill. I am in a new home now, and know enough about the Jewish faith to know that one doesn't just "show up" at High Holidays - one has to be a tither, which I am not - not to the Jewish faith at least.

I was encouraged to see that our President Obama held the FIRST ever - can you believe it? First ever Passover Seder dinner at the White house last evening. How many presidents have come and gone and missed the opportunity to speak volumes to their staff, the country, indeed the world - that we recognize that we live in a global world - a world where there are many religions.

I came across this blog post from Judith Warner this morning. She too has been on a spiritual journey - she is Jewish by heritage, attended a parochial Episcopal school for 9 years and celebrates Easter and Passover.

Please read the story - it is heartening to see that we are all on a journey, no matter our faith:

Happy Passover, Happy Easter. Shalom and God bless.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In your face consumption is so 2007

I read this story on CNN Money last evening.

I was encouraged to learn that the ueber spending and consumerism of the last decade is no longer "du jour".

I must admit, that with my decent-paying job, I too, fell prey to the idea of spending and purchased quite the wardrobe - the difference with me is hardly any of my clothing is name brand, and most of it comes via TJ Maxx or other discount stores and is always bought on sale.

I purchased the top of the line Mazda - a Mazda 6, complete with "Triptic" - that is the option to feel like one is driving a stick shift which is actually my preferred method of driving........It had a 6 disk CD changer and was loaded with everything but a sun roof and leather interior. You can be sure my son loved driving it too. Zoom Zoom!

I digress......the article speaks of the wife of the former CEO of the now defunct Leman Brothers.....allegedly, she went shopping at Hermes (I have never been in any stores at that level, so I have no reference point, but do see the bags when I am on the UWS and UES in the city on occasion). She had her purchases put into a simple white bag, so as not to draw attention to herself. Interesting choice.

Here is the link to the article. I think you will find it insightful:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont has spoken

Wow and wow again!

The Governor thought that he could overturn the decision to allow gay marriage in Vermont - did he ever underestimate the lobbying and grassroots activism and power in the GLBT and allies community.

A poll today conducted by AOL asked whether people support gay marriage - 54% said no and 46% said yes. The gap is certainly closing between the supporters and the naysayers.

I was at a wonderful church service this past Sunday. The congregation was incredibly diverse - children, young and old, couples, singles and my favorite - gay couples - openly gay couples who are loved, appreciated and accepted in the Episcopal church. They have an outreach program for GLBT churchgoers and truly go out of their way to be their "brother's keeper".

This victory in Vermont speaks volumes - I predict that California's Proposition 8 will be overturned by the California Supreme Court.

It is coming whether people want it or not - EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE!

Italian magazine tries to narrow gap with Muslims

It was heartening to read this story in the NY Times on Sunday. Italy has 1% of its population who identify themselves as Muslims and it has been a difficult adjustment for many of them, both first and second generation - to assimilate into a culture that is far more liberal and open minded than anything their religion allows them to align themselves with.

"Yalla (the Arabic word for let's go) Italia" or "Let's Go, Italy" - is the name of an Italian magazine that is run by young students, most of whom have struggled to assimilate into Italian culture with varying degrees of success. Some are in interreligious marriages, others devoutly Moslem, yet others trying to find a place for themselves in a foreign country

Here is an excerpt from the article: "The message behind articles and blog posts like “To wear or not to wear a burkini?” and “How to match kaftans with jeans” is clear: it is possible to assimilate without losing a Muslim identity.

“We’re separated by 10 meters, but culturally we’re centuries apart,” said Martino Pillitteri, Yalla Italia’s chief editor. He said he saw the differences between his mission and that of Muslim conservatives as symbolic of the divide in Italy’s Muslim population — “one vision driving toward the past, the other driving toward the future,” he said.

I have lived in 3 countries and 5 states. Each time I move, I realize that once more, I will have to assimilate into yet another way of living, same language, same country, different morees and nuances, sayings, cultural expressions etc. While living in Germany, I was called a "Gastarbeiter" or "guestworker" - not good enough really to do much more than be a worker bee and register with the police department every time I moved to another apartment in my younger years - little wonder then that I did not marry the German man with whom I was in love all those years ago - the country and its way of treating foreigners just didn't sit with me.

Here is another excerpt: "The magazine’s articles are rarely political, although it has taken on some causes, including championing changes in laws to make the children of immigrants citizens automatically if they are born in Italy, rather than requiring them to apply for citizenship after 18 years of residence.

Most of the articles focus on how Italy’s Muslims live and interact with non-Muslim Italians, covering such topics as mixed marriages and the conflict between the older, less assimilated generation of immigrants and their often more open children.

Mr. Pillitteri likes to say that Yalla Italia’s staff is the medium as well as the message. Most of the reporters are women, some of them traditional enough to wear head scarves, and nearly all work during the few hours a week they snatch from their university studies or day jobs. Some came to Italy as children, others were born here of mixed marriages, still others came to study and married."

I love this magazine - I wonder whether I could get an English version of it online - it speaks to so many topics du jour that are expedient to discuss. Here is the link to the story:

The world is becoming increasingly smaller and America is no longer the center of attraction. It behooves all of us to learn another language, travel to other lands and learn of others and their cultures so that we can truly become one world.

Islam is the fastest growing religion and not all who practice it are terrorists, just as not all Mormons (second fastest growing religion) are not polygamists.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter and Passover

I attended the most amazing Easter Palm Sunday service in at St. Bartholomews in Manhattan yesterday. It was an Episcopal service and the most moving I have ever experienced. I am on a spiritual journey and have been for some years now, since leaving the Mormon church a few years ago. On Sunday, I was reminded of why it is that I love Easter and why I missed it during the 23 years away in the Mormon church. I witnessed the most amazing choir, children included, that I have heard since leaving Salt Lake and my beloved Cathedral of the Madeleine Catholic children's choir.

The edifice itself was beautiful - incredibly ornate and not too far from the historic St. Patrick's Catholic church where I wanted to go and light a candle for a friend, but was not quite able to make my gimpy knees walk far enough, or mount more steps for the day.

I took the palms that were offered to me and stood and paid homage to the priests, male and female as they entered and exited the sanctuary. I am sure that one of the reasons I left the Mormon faith is because women do not have the opportunity to hold the priesthood and become priests and deacons, as in other religions.

Yesterday as I went to my new gym for my daily swim, I saw a sign posted in the elevator. The facilities hours are going to be changed to accomodate "Easter" plans for employees with families. I was frustrated and saddened to see that even here in Westchester, New York, home of so very many of my Jewish friends and brothers and sisters, we are not sensitive enough to include Passover when we speak of Easter.

This is such a sacred time of year. Secular for many, granted, but devoutly spiritual for others of us. For the first time in a long time, Passover and Maundy Thursday come at the same time. Christians and Jews will be united together in their celebration of this, the most solemn time of the year.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

We are truly all in this together

It began with Hyundai - offering to take cars back in the event that one purchases a vehicle and is laid off, they will take the car back after the layoff, giving a grace period in the event that suitable employment is found. I recently saw a local car dealer offering the same benefit. Men's Warehouse is offering free suits to people needing them for interviews. I confess, there was a time I seriously considered returning to retail in order to work at Men's Warehouse and check out men - I mean - be of assistance to men with their clothing needs all day - how fun would that be? I digress.

As I was walking to the gym earlier this week, I passed a local dry cleaner store - they were offering to dry clean clothing for free for interviews for unemployed folks. If a small locally-owned business can do this on their level, think what would happen if more national chains were to offer freebies or reduced items for job seekers - how about a free cup of coffee or a bagel on the way to an interview, or inbetween meetings? A person could bring their debit card/unemployment card to Starbucks - for example - and get a break on a newspaper and a coffee - we could truly change the world for the unemployed.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, my amazingly talented and service-minded Town Supervisor, Paul Feiner is listing jobs every day and has created a job networking group to assist citizens in finding jobs. Here is a link to his website:

Here is some valuable information for Westchester folks who seek employment in the event you don't have time to review the blog in it's entirety: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8….10 AM TO 2 PM…JOB NETWORKING EVENT AT GREENBURGH TOWN HALLON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8TH FROM 10 AM TO 2 PM VOLT WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS WILL SPONSOR A NETWORKING EVENT. Representatives of VOLT will review resumes, provide residents with interview tips that could help you get your next job. They will discuss the latest job trends and will advise of openings that their company is aware of. This event is being held at Greenburgh Town Hall. Please e mail if you have any questions.

We are all working together to help each other stay sane and get back on our feet financially.

I am encouraged that the Administration at the national level, and local elected officials are very aware of the needs of their constituents.

We are going to survive, because this is a great nation - we have fought wars, lived through depressions and recessions. We are slowly coming back to life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Madonna to appeal court ruling on Malawi adoption

So, it seems that the material girl "can't always get what she wants" in the immortal words of Mick Jagger. I have deliberately not posted on this issue, instead waiting the outcome of the court's decision.

Madonna, the newly divorced mum of 3 wanted a sibling for her Malawi born and adopted son. While I do not fault her for wanting her son to have someone in the family who looks like him and even comes from his country of origin, rules are not made to be broken - not even for celebrities.

Here is an excerpt from the story: Malawi requires prospective parents to live in the country for 18 to 24 months while child welfare authorities assess their suitability - a rule that was bent when Madonna was allowed to take her now 3-year-old son David to London in 2006 before his adoption was finalized two years later. Madonna has two other children, Lourdes, 12, and Rocco, 8.

Chombo said other foreigners have adopted in Malawi, but Madonna's was the only case in which residency was waived, and she indicated concern that doing so again could set a precedent that might jeopardize children."It is necessary that we look beyond the petitioner ... and consider the consequences of opening the doors too wide," the judge said. "By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts ... could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals."

The judge also made clear she was not questioning Madonna's intentions, and even praised the "noble" work the singer's charity has done to feed, educate and provide medical care for some of Malawi's more than 1 million orphans, half of whom have lost parents to AIDS."

Years ago, whilst living in Europe, my partner at the time asked me to marry him. We wanted to marry in America with our famiiles around us - that was cost-prohibitive - our next option was England where I am a citizen - that was not an option due to the same residency requirements that are holding up Madonna's desired second adoption in Malawi. We ultimately settled in a "Vegas-esque" civil ceremony in Denmark and then had the marriage solomnized in Switzerland sans family. We respected the laws of the land as we understood them and found a workaround. Madonna should do the same. If she truly desires a sibling for her other children, she can find a child here in the U.S., sans familial ties and preferably an orphan.

The sad thing in this case is that but for the love of the grandmother and all the static she brought forth, she might have been successful in her quest.

I am all for adoption, but agree with British child advocates and others who believe that children are best served when they are with their families who know and love them - no amount of love and money and nannying can replace blood relatives.

Here is the link to the story as posted around 17 hours today:

Iowa court ruling legalizes gay marriage

It was only a matter of time. We GLBT allies have been waiting a long time for this.

Here is the link to the story that posted just over an hour ago on AOL news via the AP:

On the eve of the assassination of Doctor ML King 41 years ago, we are celebrating civil rights victories. And now, the Iowa supreme court has ruled that gay marriage is legal in that state. This comes on the heels of Vermont's ruling yesterday evening.

For years, gays have been marginalized, maligned and mistreated just for their sexual orientation. They have been subjected to discrimination that only a few years ago would have been unconscionable were they directed towards the black community.

Friends, it is a question of patience - It is my fervent hope that Proposition 8 will likely be overturned in California, and gay marriage is debated on and voted on in the NY State Senate, and other states will have to finally begin to accomodate gay couples and therefore, gay marriage.

What a wonderful day!

The influence game: Payday lenders thwart limits

This story posted on AOL via the AP last evening:

"WASHINGTON -The payday loan industry, threatened by Congress with extinction, has deployed well-connected lobbyists and hefty sums of campaign cash to key lawmakers to save itself.

The strategy has paid off.
Now a top Democrat who once tried to ban the practice is instead pushing to regulate it — a result, he says, of the industry's lobbying clout.

The lawmaker, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says his bill does have crucial protections for borrowers and represents the best deal he can manage in the face of the industry's aggressive lobbying. Consumer groups are condemning the bill as a loophole-riddled gift to the industry. "

I abhor payday lenders. They are nothing more than government-sanctioned loan sharks. They preach about helping folks in tight binds - those without credit cards or the ability to get a regular moderate-interest loan from a financial institution - those who are the bottom of the socioeconomic rungs of the ladder - all these are whom they claim to be helping, while charging hundreds of percent in interest per annum. The lenders defend themselves by saying that their average customer borrows from one payday to another and simply repays the loan. If that were truly the case in every or even in most instances, I might not speak out so strongly against it.

It so happens that most of the borrowers simply cannot afford to pay the entire loan back, so they roll it over to the next payday, paying a fraction of what they owe - enough to keep the lender happy - and hence accrue the exhorbitant interest amounts.

I once spoke with a former Utah senator who was the proprietor of such establishments - in fact, we spoke on a few occasions about his nefarious choice of business. He indicated that he was indeed helping middle class people to get through a short-term financial crunch, and even told me a story about a man making $60k a year who had forgotten an anniversary and allegedly did not have other means to purchase a present for his wife - as if!

He did recognize, however, that the powers were converging over his payday loan businesses in order to make the interest rates more equitable. He shared that he was divesting his interests - smart move, but based on this story today, the industry will continue to thrive.

Here is the link to the story:

Voters need to pay close attention to how their elected officials voted on this issue - 2010 is not that far away.

Vermont lawmakers give ok to gay marriage

It is unprecedented - historic - a day for rejoicing and celebration for all GLBT, progressives and allies across the country.

As a writer, I try really hard to be objective, but this decision takes on personal significance for me. My regular readers and friends know that I was married for 15 years to a person who was gay - we remain close friends, but the bottom line is simple: Had gay marriage been an option, we likely would not have spent 15 years spinning our proverbial wheels, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole - no pun intended. I have so many friends and associates who are gay and have become an ally for GLBT causes.

I was recently encouraged to see Mayor Bloomberg endorse gay marriage again. I hope to attend a day of lobbying in Albany in April to address GLBT issues and the gay marriage issue as well.

Here is an excerpt of the article that rang true to me - it is why I ultimately, and with deep sadness, had to make the painful decision to leave my religion (The Mormon/LDS Church) of some 20 plus years: "Opponents of the measure spoke of their respect for its advocates. One, Rep. Albert "Sonny" Audette, expressed sadness at having concluded he was required by his church to vote no.

"I am a devout Catholic," Audette said. "My religion at this point would not want me to vote for this. I wish that I could and I hope for the best and I congratulate the people who are trying to get this through."

What would Jesus do in a case like this? What would he have done about slavery, or the Nazi occupation, or the Rwanda genocide or the massacre in Darfur?

This is a civil rights issue and again, equal means everyone - when one of us is marginalized, we are all lesser people.

Here is the link to the entire story as posted on USA Today:

A rare triumph of substance at the (G-20) summit

I was most encouraged when I read this story on the Washington Post mobile editionthis morning.

I have been watching with interest the most historic meeting of world leaders regarding the economy since the end of World War II, by some accounts. I have been impressed with Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown and of course, Obama as they have sought to find common ground and listen to one another about how best to handle the global economic crisis.

Here is an excerpt from the story: "Gordon Brown, meanwhile, emerged from yesterday's talks to declare an end to "the old Washington consensus," the now-derogatory description for the policy prescription of open borders, floating exchange rates and fiscal prudence long favored by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

What emerged yesterday from the G-20, however, amounts more to reform than to revolution. Member countries committed themselves to adding $850 billion to the resources available to the IMF and regional development banks to mount rescues of countries in financial distress, with instructions that the money be used not only for traditional purposes such as debt rollover, bank recapitalization and balance-of-payments support, but also for more "flexible" goals such as stimulus spending, infrastructure investment, trade finance and social support.

And just as the old G-7 has given way to the enlarged G-20, the governance structure of the fund and the bank will be revised to give the bigger developing countries the authority they now deserve."

The entire story is worth reading:

Geithner on economy: "Progress is going to be uneven."

With Mr. Geithner's IRS travails, I was not entirely sure of his abilities to be head of the treasury. I was even less sure with the initial set of briefings and meetings on Capitol Hill.

All that is behind me now with his recent meetings and press conferences. A new and more confident Tim has emerged, brimming with great ideas, no doubt inspired by the formidable leadership of his boss, our President.

He was interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper last evening.

Here is the link to a portion of the interview:

I think we are going to make it out of the woods, but it is going to take some time. Let's be patient - remember, we are all in this together.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Democratic leader tempers expectations for 2010

In light of the extremely close Gillibrand replacement race here in New York, I thought you might find this piece interesting:

The story posted about 4 hours ago on the AP wires - here is an excerpt: "WASHINGTON -Liberal groups targeting moderate congressional Democrats should "beware of forming a circular firing squad" that could hurt the party in 2010 elections, says the head of Democrats' House campaign efforts."

The Democratic party can be its own worst enemy at times, and now is not the time to be such. Some would call me liberal, but I have always maintained that I am progressive - in much the same way as the Savior was - I am not comparing myself to him, just making the point.

It would be sad for the Democrats to lose all the gains that we have made for the sake of attacking our own party from within all to gain seats for more liberal individuals. Even President Obama has become a more centrist figure - he has recognized that one has to govern from the center as a President in order to accomplish ones goals.

I am worried for next year - you should be too.

Equality and Justice Day in Albany

Our GLBT friends continue to be under fire. Equal is right and it is time that the NY legislature heard it loud and clear.

On April 28, I shall take my first ever trip to Albany. I am not new to lobbying, given that I was a political appointee in Utah, and spent many hours lobbying at the capitol for various causes, including GLBT issues.

I received the following email from the ACLU in New York asking me to attend this event and I plan to take my first vacation day from my job in order to have my voice be heard:

In the historic movement for LGBT rights, New York has become the new national battleground.
A democratic majority rules our State Senate for the first time in decades. And this year, we have a real chance to secure marriage fairness, transgender rights, and safe schools for LGBT youth. The nation has its eyes on us, and we can make history.

Will you join the NYCLU and hundreds of New Yorkers in Albany on Tuesday, April 28 in this powerful show of force?

Register now for Equality and Justice Day.
Last year more than 1,200 people from all across New York descended upon Albany on Equality & Justice Day to tell their elected officials that all families deserve fairness and protection. With the passage of Prop 8, LGBT rights in California have been stripped. Now we must step up and tell our elected officials: All New Yorkers’ Deserve Equality.

There will be a huge rally, lobby visits, workshops, an NYCLU reception, food and more!
NYCLU is sponsoring buses to Albany on Equality & Justice Day. Register now! Buses leave from all over the state. Registration Deadline is Wednesday, April 8. We cannot guarantee a bus seat or scheduled lobby visits after this date.

Contact Erica for more information at 212-607-3361 or e-mail Equality and Justice Day is sponsored by the Empire State Pride Agenda.

The people have mumbled

I came across this op-ed piece by Gail Collins in the NYTimes online edition just now. It recounts the saga of the gerrymandered congressional seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand.

By all accounts, both parties, Democrats and Republicans are tentatively declaring victory, which is why the author of the piece indicates that the people have mumbled, rather than the people have spoken. This election is being billed as a referendum on President Obama and his efficacy in the White House thus far - poor guy can't get a break. Now, I realize that in some ways I am somewhat of a political neophyte, particularly vis-a-vis NY politics, being a relative newcomer to the state, but isn't that a bit early for a referendum?

Here is the link to the story - you will find it well-written and most interesting.

I hope that we do not have to wait it out like the Franken debacle in Minnesota, and hope that victory will be soon and swift, assuming that the abseentee ballots are counted and property accounted for. 27 points is clearly not a mandate. Let's wait and see what transpires.

I suppose we will be hearing more of the marginally intelligent and fairly inept Michael Steele, as he explains to the public why the Republican party is going to make strides in coming elections - I shudder at the thought.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

High Road for Human Rights

In light of the drastic news about the U.S. trying to get a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission, I just had to write about the most incredible human rights advocates I know:

One of the most amazing men I have ever known is a strikingly handsome man - ruggedly so - intensely blue eyes, steely and he can see into your soul and mind - He has to - he is one of Utah's best defense attorneys - an ACLU attorney at that and the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the one and only Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson.

I met him about 7 years ago. I had been sent to help out in his office by my recruiter - a temporary assignment where I could "surely network" myself into something she told me.

I was fortunate to work on his staff as a political appointee for 5 and one half years. It was an amazing time - frenetic, exciting, taxing, emotionally exhausting, exhilarating and so much more inbetween.

My proudest moments with Rocky were during the Olympic Games of 2002 when he designated free speech zones for protestors - when he signed an executive order creating domestic partner benefits for all city staffers - when he went toe to toe with the theocracy that is Utah's legislature to try to get reasonable alcohol laws established - so many other moments and you can read about them at a later date in my book of memoirs of Utah.

It has been a while and he is now a private citizen. True to form, Rocky has established a Human Rights Foundation - High Road for Human Rights.

I saw Rocky recently on Rachel Maddow's show speaking about the new Utah liquor laws - no more private clubs - his legacy lives.

His heart is in civil liberties and human rights - please go to the Nation and read the amazing article about his efforts.

Become a member of the organization - you can do so at minimal cost at their website.

U.S. seeks seat on UN Human Rights Council

And about bloody time too!

The amazingly qualified Madame Secretary Clinton is right on target on this one. She states in this article on CNN yesterday: "Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy. With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system to advance the vision of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights."

During my sojourn in the Utah, I was for a time a member of a group called MESJ - Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. You can visit their website at - while the Salt Lake Chapter is no longer active, you can still participate with their gatherings elsewhere around the country - heck, if you live in Salt Lake, you could start the meetings again. I met some remarkable people during those years with that group - Suzette the PR person, James, the Union Organizer, John Charles and his partner - now a PhD student and many more. All were committed to social justice and peace in the framework of religion and great religious leaders such as Ghandi, Christ and Mohammed.

The U.S. has for too long remained silent on issues of war and peace - we scream first and ask questions later. We ignore atrocities in Darfur and homelessness and hunger in our nation's soup kitchens. We have tolerated the UN and their missions - witholding our monetary support in order to make certain statements. This will no longer be tolerated.

Madame Secretary recognizes that the U.S. needs to move to the forefront of human rights and seek to teach and help people understand what our role is there.

Here is the link to the article in its entirety:

California lawmaker proposes selling San Quentin prison

As the state of California teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, desperate times are calling for desperate measures. Not for the first time, Senator Jeff Denham of California is proposing the idea of selling San Quentin prison.

Apparently, the facility sits atop pristine and pricey real estate, complete with views of the bay. Estimates are that selling the facility could net the state a cool 2 billion dollars. That would surely help to plug the gaping hole in the state's budget deficit. According to the CNN article, lawmakers have already approved some 300 plus hundred thousand dollars for rebuilding of a facility to house inmates on death row.

On the other hand, as one who is also an advocate for prison reform, given California's notoriously overcrowded prisons, is is really a good idea to close one that works so well? As I researched for this brief article, I noted that this is home to the notorious Charles Manson - (only someone born and raised elsewhere, such as I - London, England - could have been ignorant of that fact this long).

When times are tough, we tend to cast even more aspersions on the lowest of the low in society, which in this case would be prisoners. Even President Obama has recognized that inmates at Guantanamo Bay have certain inalienable rights. To relocate that many prisoners, disrupting their schedules, assuming one could find a community willing to take them "in their backyard", depriving them of family visitations if they move further away from their home bases, all these things should be considered from a social justice standpoint.

Please read the story in its entirety - feedback is always appreciated - I write for you as much as for myself.

Here is the link:

I also share this link to the website of a group of which I was a member during my years in Utah - MESJ - Mormons for Equality and Social Justice - they speak on this site eloquently of prison reform and why our system needs to be changed:

Obama taps czar to help autoworkers

Years ago after my divorce, while working in Michigan for Governor Engler's Welfare to Work program, I became aware of the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA. I was working as a case manager assistant and helped welfare recipients with resumes, job search, tracked their expenses as part of the program aided them with purchases of clothing, haircuts for interviews and even vehicles up to one thousand dollars or so. It was an amazing program and was hailed around the country as a success. Michigan now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation - it is now officially 12% as of February of this year. A significant portion of those included in those figures are welfare recipients but a larger chunk of the group are displaced workers from the automotive industry fallout.

President Obama in his amazing wisdom and foresight has appointed a czar to help workers navigate the WIA program guidelines, other federal funding sources and grants available to displaced and unemployed workers.

I personally availed myself of WIA funds whilst living in Michigan and learned the trade of PC Tech Support Specialist - it was not a profession for women back in the early 90's, much less in 1998 when I took the course - I was one of two women in the class of men at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. I went one evening a week and Saturday mornings for 6 months - this might sound simple, but I was a single mother of four children at the time - I had daycare and school schedules to juggle, homework assignments for myself and the children - it was a formidable task, but at the end of it, I secured employment in Utah earning some $10,000 more a year - ultimately, I tripled my earnings as a result of having participated in the WIA program.

I was thrilled - yes, a superlative for which I am not known here in the land of my blog, but I was truly thrilled when I heard of President Obama's plan to appoint a czar to oversee those individuals who will need assistance. There are so many government programs out there, one needs a secret combination to figure them out - many of the autoworkers who have historically participated in WIA and other programs like it will not be able to return to auto work - they will be like myself - finding employment in another arena.

Here is the article in its entirety:

"More pain is on the way for the people and communities that depend on the automotive industry. That's why President Obama has appointed an autoworker czar to look out for them.

Acknowledging that the sweeping government-led overhaul will likely mean more job losses, Obama Monday named a former deputy labor secretary to help direct federal funds to those hardest hit by the industry's meltdown.Ed Montgomery, a dean at the University of Maryland who served in the Clinton administration, was appointed director of recovery for auto communities and workers.

An economist specializing in job training and local development, Montgomery is charged with making sure displaced employees and struggling towns have access to federal stimulus funds and assistance.The industry has shed more than 400,000 jobs over the past year, which has devastated company towns throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere."I will not pretend the tough times are over," Obama said in announcing the restructuring.

Montgomery "will direct a comprehensive effort that will help lift up the hardest-hit areas by using the unprecedented levels of funding available in our Recovery Act and throughout our government to create new manufacturing jobs and new businesses where they're needed most -- in your communities."

Exactly what Montgomery can accomplish remains to be seen.One of his main tasks will be to use the economic development and job retraining funds from the $787 billion federal stimulus package to assist autoworkers and communities that rely on the industry.Also, Montgomery will collaborate with federal and state officials and lawmakers to develop initiatives to assist areas in revitalizing their economies. And he'll use existing job retraining programs -- such as the Workforce Investment Act, which he helped create -- to support workers.

Marshalling stimulus fundsUnder the stimulus program, states will receive billions of dollars to build new roads and other infrastructure projects -- creating millions of jobs -- and to keep vital state services intact.Michigan, for instance, is expected to receive about $7 billion with the aim of creating 109,000 jobs. The state at the center of the automotive crisis also suffers from the country's highest unemployment rate, which hit 12% in February.

Experts say Montgomery will have plenty to do. While the companies, unions and state officials aid people on the ground, the recovery director will serve as their mouthpiece in the nation's capital."This guy could help marshal federal policy in Washington to help workers,"said Andy Levin, deputy director of Michigan's Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Obama "will have someone at his end making sure the most aggressive measure are taken to help the autoworkers."

Montgomery, who serves on the president's auto task force and taught at Michigan State University in the late 1980s, referred an interview request to the White House, which declined.Thanks to his past service in the Department of Labor, Montgomery is very familiar with federal funding for job retraining programs, said Bob Simoneau, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. These initiatives are also getting a boost from the stimulus program. The Workforce Investment Act, for instance, is receiving $1.25 billion for dislocated worker employment and training, while states can apply for millions of dollars in additional grant money.The stimulus program also provides hundreds of millions of dollars to communities affected by foreign trade. They can use the funds to develop strategic plans to revamp their economies and to aid community colleges in developing or improving training programs for displaced workers.Utilizing available resourcesMontgomery can help make sure those affected are aware of the resources available to them.

Though autoworkers have had access to training programs for decades, few of them take advantage of the opportunity, said Art Wheaton, industry education specialist at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.Even those who enter the programs don't always stick with them. In the past, workers often would leave school to return to the industry when it revived. That return isn't likely to happen this time so the jobless need to partake in the retraining so they can find new careers, said Donald Grimes, senior research associate at the University of Michigan.Across the nation, the unemployed are enrolling in retraining programs to find work in industries that are holding up in the recession, such as healthcare and education.

"People who used to work in the manufacturing plants won't find jobs like that again," Grimes said. "They need to get a new start in a field that's growing."The stimulus package is also pouring money into creating jobs in new technologies and energy production. Montgomery's tasks include attracting defense, research and green industries to the rust belt, according to the White House.In naming Montgomery, Obama is also sending a message to those who have been -- and will be -- affected by the reinvention of the American auto industry that he is concerned about more than just the companies' survival, experts said."It's a symbol more than anything else that he cares about the people being displaced," said Robert Scott, senior international economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Americans believe world leaders respect Obama

I can still recall the look on Angela Merkel's face as she recoiled visibly shocked at the unsolicited shoulder rub that she received from our former President.

A recent CNN Poll indicates that our current President is garnering significantly more respect around the world.

Here is the story in its entirety.

"As Barack Obama takes off for his first overseas trip as president, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in 10 Americans think he will do a good job representing the United States to the world.

And seven in 10 people questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Tuesday, believe that leaders of other countries respect Obama.That last figure is in sharp contrast with George W. Bush.

At the start of his presidency in 2001, only 49 percent believed that foreign leaders respected Bush."Except for the period following the 9/11 attacks, that number never got any better for Bush," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Obama is scheduled to travel to Britain on Tuesday, where he will participate with other leaders in the G-20 summit."Even among Republicans, a majority believes that other world leaders respect Obama.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 12-15, with 1,019 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points."

No editorializing needed.

Dying and alone in Myanmar

This beautiful Southeast Asian island holds a terrible truth: According to today's NY Times, "Médecins Sans Frontières estimates that 240,000 people are currently infected with H.I.V. in Myanmar and that 76,000 are in urgent need of antiretroviral drugs. Every year, about 25,000 people with the virus die."

The article recounts the poignant tale of the sufferings of these quarter of a million of our brothers and sisters who are dying of H.I.V. Yes, in this the year of 2009, over two hundred thousand of our brothers and sisters are not just dying, but in many cases, dying alone of this ravaging disease. They die alone due to the societal stigmas that continue to be attached to H.I.V. and AIDS.

According to the article, "This year, the United Nations-backed Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has applied for government permits to bring antiretroviral drugs into Myanmar, and the number of people receiving treatment is likely to rise.
But that will only be one step. Fewer than 20 percent of those who need the drugs receive them, either from international groups or, in very small amounts, from the government, Médecins Sans Frontières said in a report released in November."

Please take the time to read the article in its entirety, as always and contact the powers that be to ask them to increase funding to Myanmar H.I.V. and AIDS victims.

Here is the link to the story: