Understanding our ethics around sexuality tells us much about who we are as people (137).

Becky Thompson. Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for Those Healing from Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2014. Print. 

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Happy Fucking 2015

I hope the NOPD gets its shit together. especially the Special Victims Unit. Sexual assault is soul-killing enough without police being dismissive, disrespectful, hostile to victims who have the bravery to report the crimes done to them.

I hope the gentrification in Central City doesn’t drive us completely out of Orleans parish and, therefore, LA. 

I hope to have 1 single pain-free day or day with pain at something unbelievable like a 3 for a whole day. Just 1 out of the 365. [This is my 2175th day of chronic pain.]

I’m looking forward to the new Planned Parenthood.

I have no idea what the next school superintendent will be like, or how the muddle of charter school shuffles, reshuffles and closings will affect the kids and families experimented on in the long run. But I do hope some of those people who see New Orleans’ school experiment as The Future of Education will take a closer look, go to a school unannounced, talk to teachers or parents or students rather than administrators and BESE members. 

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Yeah, Why the Fuck Aren’t We?

Why aren’t we talking about the death of Victor White III? Opinion. Mwende Katwiwa. December 27, 2014.

I’ve spent 6 years living in New Orleans, but I got my roots in organizing and have spent most of my time in America in the North. In my time down here, co-workers and organizers have shared that Southern states have a reputation for being last in the best indicators and ranking first in the worst ones. As a result, what’s going on in the South is often absent in national conversations.

For example, I have not heard about the New Orleans police department (which is currently under a Department of Justice consent decree) in media conversations about body cameras despite a recent case where an NOPD officer allegedly turned her camera off right before shooting an unarmed man in the head. When I asked Rev. White if he thought being in the South had anything to do with the lack of conversation about his son’s case, he told me, “…Being in the South has a lot to do with it…it’s supposed to be common place down in the South, its unconscious prejudice…[We’re] supposed to settle for what’s presented.

The truth is, all of these things could be relevant, or none of them could. Unfortunately, there is no concrete formula that will tell Rev. White and his family how to get their son’s case more attention, and even if it did, there is certainly no guarantee that attention equal justice (just ask the families of John Crawford, Mike Brown and Eric Garner).

What is clear is that there is little space in the mainstream media for the conversations that need to happen around race, state sanctioned violence and the victims it leaves behind. Fortunately, we are in an age of technology that has allowed everyday people to amplify calls for justice in cases like Victor White’s, and that’s exactly what Rev. White is asking us to do.

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Keep X in Your Xmas

Keep X in Xmas

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I Love Me Some Samantha Power

I read ‘A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide. Every word. The notes. The bibliography. I’m amazed and pleased she’s lasted this long in the Administration. 

And if you want to talk genocide or Rwanda, which I read a little too much about, hit me up. I’ll get Power’s book out, my hardcover, and my Rwanda books. We can move on to fatal child abuse and I Survived next if you’re up for it.

Evan Esnos. IN THE LAND OF THE POSSIBLE. The New Yorker, December 22, 2014.

In the acknowledgments of “The Audacity of Hope,” published while Obama was in the Senate, he wrote that Samantha Power “combed over each chapter as if it were hers.” At the time, she was a foreign-policy adviser in his office. Eight years later, many aides have left Obama’s Administration, but Power endures, in a role that is roughly equal parts envoy, protector, and, as she puts it, “pain in the ass.”

In the senior ranks of an Administration that is often disparaged as a shrinking corps of fawning courtiers, Power is known for pushing unpopular ideas. “People call her the activist-in-chief,” Madeleine Albright, who served as Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, told me. Jake Sullivan, who headed Hillary Clinton’s policy-planning staff and later served as Vice-President Joe Biden’s national-security adviser, said, “More than other individual actors, Samantha is somebody who will encourage, cajole, push, and prod the whole system: State Department, Treasury Department, Defense Department.” A bureaucrat who is reflexively against the consensus runs the risk of being ignored. But Secretary of State John Kerry told me that Obama does not expect to see everything the way Power does: “I’m confident the President put her there and nominated her because he wanted that.” He went on, “He may not agree with the point of view, and the point of view may not carry the day, but it becomes part of considering what’s out there.”

Because of youth, gender, or disposition, Power has often been underestimated. Gérard Araud, the French Ambassador to Washington, who previously served at the U.N., told me, “I was expecting this sort of N.G.O. girl, considering her past, considering the book she wrote. Actually, she’s a nice mixture of liberal interventionism and Realpolitik.” A senior Administration official said, “It’s easy in some ways to dismiss someone like Samantha Power. Oh, she cares about the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed! But what she’s managed to do is link the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed to core national-security interests of the United States.”

In the culture of the Administration, where overwork is a status symbol, Power projects harried busyness but not despair. Sunstein told me that, “for someone who wrote a book about genocide, she may have the most mental health of anyone I’ve ever known. She’s deeply non-neurotic.”

It’s impossible to talk about Power without noting that she looks like nobody else in the Cabinet, or anybody who has ever been in the Cabinet: the height, the hair, the booming voice. At a cocktail party where a photographer was taking pictures of guests in pairs, a U.N. veteran slinked away, whispering to me, “I don’t like to be photographed with her alone, because I look like a midget.” She played basketball and ran cross-country in high school; now she plays squash with Sunstein. She stalks down a hall, head bowed, with such pace and purpose that I once watched her entourage almost follow her into the ladies’ room.

Today, more than six years after a word nearly cost her a career in government, Power exhibits a kind of post-gaffe stress disorder. Fiery and profane in private, she tends to be mind-numbingly dull on the record. When I asked her a benign question about what she’d learned working for the Administration, she said, half-jokingly, that she had no concise answer “other than ‘Don’t trust the press.’ ” If she doesn’t like a question, she squints, pauses, and then parses it into as gentle a query as possible. When she appeared on “The Daily Show” last month, Jon Stewart set her up to make an easy crack about Congress. She replied, “We are hopeful that we will see Congress act in support of the effort we are undertaking,” leading him to remark, “That was super diplomacy. That was Ambassadorific.”

Last summer, as ISIS made rapid gains, Power’s role in internal debates took a turn. She argued for a series of disruptive steps, beginning with the peaceful removal of Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, because his presence made other Arab states—including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates—unwilling to coöperate. A former official described the sequence that Power promoted as follows: “Produce the transition of power in Iraq, produce the coalition, produce the train-and-equip, then put all these pieces together to push ISIS back on its heels.”

When I put that idea to Power, she said, “I can be a pain in the ass, and that’s what he wants. That’s what’s so amazing. There are plenty of people out there who could check the conscience box.” She went on, “There are milder personalities that could create the illusion of inclusion, and spare you the headache of argument and counter-argument, and President Obama did not choose that milder version.”

She told me, “As time wears on, I find myself gravitating more and more to the G.S.D. people”—the “get shit done” people, a term favored by Susan Rice. “We’re racing against the clock here to get as much done as we can. So when you run across people who know how to be bureaucratic samurais, or are especially persuasive in their diplomacy internationally, spend more time on those relationships, and on brainstorming with those individuals, to achieve a common purpose. Principles and positions only take you so far.”



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hctiB G: What You Might Do

originally published Jun 4, 2013


This is not about education or NOLA so if that’s what you’re looking for, stop here and go read the Lens or Education Talk New Orleans, etc.

If you read 1585 over at b2l2, you know why this isn’t about public education and how scarce that topic may be here for a while.


One night, in February 2007, I was introduced to a handsome, brooding, aloof, chain-smoking French guitarist called Gautier at a gig in London. Sparks flew. He visited me in Brighton two weeks later, proffering a typically Gallic shrug when I told him about my illness. I had been told that the effects of this drug on a growing foetus were unknown, so I mustn’t get pregnant; add all the post-surgery scar tissue and the fact that I could barely look after myself and having a child was not an option. Gautier was unfazed, while I was becoming used to having decisions made for me.

I flew to Gautier’s home town in France for his 30th birthday in March. He proposed that weekend. We married on an extraordinarily sunny day in September at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion. A cocktail of prescription painkillers enabled me to stand in my four-inch heels during the ceremony. He already thought me beautiful; it was my determination, I think, that he was beginning to admire.

I’ve gotten direct and second-hand commiseration, concern, sympathy, empathy, virtual pats on the arm or back, and it has been a pleasant surprise and soul-warming. I’ve also gotten and heard, What can I do? Tell me what I can do. Really, let me know, anything. That’s been…heartening. But also a dilemma.

Part, in many cases all, of the motivation behind these questions and semi-requests is sympathy, empathy, humanity, lovingkindness. It’s something you hear, fortunately, but never often enough, when you are seriously, acutely ill or chronically ill; people want to do something to not feel useless or powerless and to show that they really, deeply care and would’ve said all these things earlier if only they had known. Those who are closest know that there are many things that you can no longer do or find difficult or can’t manage for all kinds of reasons, or only because of the sometimes-overwhelming nature of your illness/condition, and that you need help of some kind, of many kinds, and the nuclear family can make help hard to get and desperately needed—there’s a lot more to do when only a small number are there to do. And my spouse is working hard to pick up my slack and be supportive and no day has enough hours.

Here are some things folks with chronic/invisible illnesses could use some help with but are too proud/embarrassed/self-conscious/thoughtful and loving to actually verbalize to ANYone:

  • Offer to pick up some groceries rather than do the cooking. Many times people with illnesses have restrictive diets, so they may rather have some fresh fruits and vegetables than that casserole. Or ask what kind of meals she is eating and then freeze some of these for her to have on hand.

You might also offer to come over and help cook up something to freeze.

  • Take the children out for a while so your friend can get some rest. Plan something special for the children and before you drop them off at the house, pick up a small “something” that will make their parent smile like some fresh flowers or balloons.
  • Look around her home and see what needs to be done and then make an offer to do it. Do the tree branches need trimmed? The toilets cleaned? The carpet shampooed?
  • …Rent her a fun movie and then drop by later to return it to the video store.
  • Ask the person’s spouse how you can help the family. The spouse may be more willing to give you specifics about the family’s needs….[How to Help a Loved One with Chronic Illness—Lisa Copen]
  • Offer specific forms of help – “I’m going to the grocery store, do you need anything?” or “Can I do some laundry for you?” Any number of household things, your friend might need help with. Offer to take care of it
  • ….Volunteer to watch his or her children. Take the kids out for ice cream or to a movie to give your friend some peace.
  • Offer to watch his kids during doctor appointments. It’s often hard to find so many babysitters, and taking kids to an important appointment isn’t always an option.

And it’s good enough to hear/see twice—

  • …Ask the person’s partner how to best help the family. If there are a number of things to be done, organize a number of friends to help complete these chores….[How to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness]

And “How are you?” and “How are you feeling?” are often loaded questions a person with chronic illness may just not want to get into.

Don’t ever ask “How are you?” or “How are you feeling?” because the answer never changes and your friend doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead ask, “How is your day going?” or “Is there anything you need help with today?” [How to Help…]

The hardest thing to accept is that you may not be able to help, at that moment, for that thing, for more than a small moment of time or other than to be a caring witness.

The chronic nature is hard on the sufferer/patient and just as hard, but in different ways, for the witnesses.

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#ThisStopsToday: NOLA, Friday, Dec. 12. Lafayette Square

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“I can give you a body camera but if you don’t turn it on, what’s the point of having a camera”

“This is one of our biggest concerns – the promise of this technology as a police oversight mechanism will be undermined if individual officers can manipulate what is taped and what isn’t,” ACLU Senior Policy Analyst, Jay Stanley told Fusion.

“There needs to be very strong policies that make very clear when police officers are expected to be recording and back that up with strict enforcement,” he said.

This has relevance in light of President Obama’s plan, announced last week, to get more body cameras onto the vests of police officers nationwide. Michael Brown’s family has demanded that all police officers wear cameras.

The cameras are marketed to police departments as a way to reduce citizen complaints and litigation against officers. Steve Ward, CEO of body camera manufacturer Vievu, told Fusion, “If police officers wear body cameras, 50 percent of their complaints will go away overnight.” He said the cameras “overwhelmingly” help the officers.

The police body camera wasn’t rolling when 19-year-old Mary Hawkes was shot and killed by an Albuquerque police officer in April. The police officer’s camera was turned off when the officer fired his weapon. Just this week, the officer involved was fired after an internal probe found he turned off his camera at least four times. It’s very rare for officers to be fired for failing to properly use body cameras.

In New Orleans this summer, a police officer had her body camera turned off when she shot a 26-year-old man in the forehead during a traffic stop. The case is still under investigation. The department told Fusion there have been 39 internal affairs investigations involving the use of body cameras this year. So far, 17 of those officers were investigated and sanctioned while four were cleared of any wrongdoing. A report conducted by an independent monitor assigned by the U.S. Department of Justice released in August found cameras, including body cameras and the more prevalent police dashboard cameras, were not used in 60 percent of the use of force incidents reported between January to May 2014.

In an email to Fusion, the New Orleans Police Department said it is working to “build a solid system of accountability,” recently introducing “new activity sheets that officers must fill out in the field to “document that they are wearing a working body-worn camera.”

The Ft. Worth, TX Police Department didn’t provide detailed data about violations of body camera policies. According to documents provided to Fusion, the police department found all allegations made against police officers since Jan. 1 of this year – with or without body camera evidence – were either “unfounded” or “did not result in discipline.”

“A lot of people are pinning their hopes on the cameras, but the reality is we have to change the culture of policing,” said Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez. “That’s changing peoples’ hearts and that’s very difficult to do.”

HT: Michelle Alexander via Facebook


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Anonymous: #OpAnonVerdict

Kelly Thomas: http://bit.ly/1rHQ8u4
John Crawford: http://bit.ly/1y1oDOt
Tamir Rice: http://bit.ly/1ymvYXS
Dillon Taylor: http://bit.ly/1ysDzVD
Samantha Ramsey: http://bit.ly/15Ivxhd
Tanisha Anderson: http://bit.ly/1xEXMq2
#OpKKK: http://bit.ly/1vvwjGq
#OpTamirRice: http://bit.ly/1ysEOEi
#OpJohnCrawford: http://bit.ly/1ysEmGa
#OpDarrienHunt: http://bit.ly/1uTNfTg

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No Fucking Indictment in Eric Garner’s Death

No indictment for officer who killed Eric Garner. Associated Press/The Grio, 12/3/2014.


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