Anti-Bullying PSA

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A new anti-bullying campaign and PSA called “In Real Life,” spearheaded by Monica Lewinsky, takes actual insults people have said online and brings them into the physical world. While actors portray the bullies and their victims in the video, the reactions of unsuspecting onlookers are genuine. Watch the video “In Real Life” in the sidebar.

Is Your Metabolism Slow?

Scale

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How quickly your body burns calories varies from person to person. (Mine doesn’t burn any at all, or it seems that way to me sometimes!)  Women burn calories more slowly than men, and we all slow down after 40. What can you do to boost your metabolism?

  • Drink water.
  • Build muscle.
  • Get your heart pumping with aerobic exercise.
  • Eat spicy foods.
  • Have more frequent, smaller meals.
  • Eat lean protein.
  • Avoid yo-yo dieting.

Football and Social Justice

Players and Owners Take the Next Step in Cooperating on Social Justice Initiatives

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By PETER KING    January 23, 2018      si.com

The NFL will announce today the latest step in its seven-year, $90 million commitment to players’ social-justice issues, forming a committee of five players and five owners to further advance what the league says is its effort to assist players in trying to make improvements in education, relations with police, and the criminal-justice system in the league’s communities.

 

The committee includes Kelvin Beachum and Josh McCown of the Jets, Washington cornerback Josh Norman and retired players Anquan Boldin and Aeneas Williams. On the owners side are Arizona’s Michael Bidwill, Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Shad Khan of Jacksonville, Stephen Ross of Miami and Cleveland’s Jimmy Haslam. The owners were appointed by the NFL; the players were appointed by the Players Coalition, a social-justice group led by Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles, among others.

“I think it’s unprecedented what has happened,” Boldin said this week. “I don’t think it’s the NFL’s job to end racism in America, but the NFL has helped us expand our platform, and the NFL has backed us, and helped bring about change. … From the Players Coalition standpoint, we’ve been able to show how unjust our criminal-justice system is, and we’ve been able to work on that. We want change to come from this protest.”  Read more here.

Opioids, Heroin, and Death

Opioids, Heroin, and Death

Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1  Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. IN 2016, approximately 54,000 people died from opioid overdoses. That’s more than all the Americans who died in the Vietnam War, more than people killed because of gun violence, car crashes or from HIV/AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic.  In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident/ A majority of these deaths are linked to overdose of prescription opioid painkillers. According to 2013 CDC report, the Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug induced mortality is 16.4 per 100,000 population compared to the nation rate of 14.6.

  • Listen to a very interesting interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross here.
  • Read about increases in drug and opioid-involved overdose deaths in the USA between 2010 – 2015   here.
  • Read about what we’re doing in CT  here.

HOW AN EX-SLAVE SUCCESSFULLY WON A CASE FOR REPARATIONS IN 1783

HOW AN EX-SLAVE SUCCESSFULLY WON A CASE FOR REPARATIONS IN 1783

Grandchildren of slaves.

Grandchildren of slaves.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library.

Inspired in part by journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, conversations about reparations for slavery and its aftermath have become mainstream. But they aren’t new: Reconstruction’s unfulfilled promise of “forty acres and a mule” had antecedents dating back to America’s founding.

Belinda was a slave under Royall for four decades and was old and penniless when she finally gained her freedom.

On February 14, 1783, an elderly ex-slave known only as Belinda submitted a petition to the Massachusetts legislature. She asked for an annual pension for herself and her invalid daughter, Prine, to be paid from the estate of their former owner, Isaac Royall. Royall had been one of the largest slave owners in the colony before he had fled to England in 1775. Because he turned out to be a royalist, his estate was confiscated and his two dozen slaves were manumitted (there’s some speculation as to whether some were sold, including Belinda’s son Joseph). Belinda was a slave under Royall for four decades and was old and penniless when she finally gained her freedom.

Former slave Belinda's petition for reparations.

Former slave Belinda’s petition for reparations.

Her petition is one the earliest examples of reparations for the slave trade and slavery, Roy E. Finkenbine reported. He puts her plea in the context of the many freedom lawsuits and legislative petitions for emancipation that were submitted by the African-American community in Massachusetts in the 1760s-1780s. In a 1783 case, for instance, the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that the enslaved Quock Walker was free and that the equality clause in the state constitution outlawed slavery throughout its jurisdiction. Additionally, some slaves, after gaining their freedom, successfully sued their masters for compensation.

Read more here.

REMEMBERING BILLIE HOLIDAY

REMEMBERING BILLIE HOLIDAY

 

Columbia Records/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Billie Holiday, the recording artist fondly known as “Lady Day.” Known as much for her demons as her pioneering jazz vocals, Holiday is a member of both the Grammy and the Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.

In “Lady Day: A Major American Musician and Recording Artist of the Twentieth Century,”Jacqueline Birdsong-Johnson cites Holiday’s voice as nothing short of groundbreaking. “Prior to jazz ensemble recordings with Billie as lead vocalist,” she explains, “jazz artists were only envisioned to be instrumentalists.”

Holiday’s voice, unique phrasings, and fearless innovation changed that. As Holiday’s fame grew, Birdsong-Johnson notes, she used a unique combination of blues and jazz elements to create a new type of vocal—one that had a lasting impact due to over 350 recordings that showcased her vocal style and raised the profile of jazz worldwide.

In contrast, Farah Jasmine Griffin uses Holiday as a lens through which to view the writings of Amiri Baraka, who wrote a series of texts about Holiday as a mysterious, contradictory fellow poet. Griffin cites Holiday as a sort of “artistic ancestor” of Baraka, tracking his responses to Holiday as he moves from mere description to inspiration. “If she is tragic on one side, she is all hipness, flipness, and flirtation on the other,” writes Griffin. “…her individual, personal tragedy is a collective, historical tragedy of black people. Holiday is the figure through which the weight of this collective history is expressed.”

Read more here.    Listen/watch here.

Faith Church and CENCAP

Faith Church and CENCAP

Faith Church raised approximately $1500 for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. We sent the money through CENCAP Federal Credit Union, a neighborhood financial institution.  CENCAP is one of the few neighborhood financial institutions on Hartford’s North End.  The branch nearest Faith is in a building formerly occupied by Bank of America. CENCAP matched the dollars we sent and forwarded them to relief efforts on the island.  Wendy, the manager of the Terry Square branch, is accepting the check from Faith Church.

 

Connecticut’s Education System Is Flawed, But Not Unconstitutional

More to Think About: Education

Supreme Court: Connecticut’s Education System Is Flawed, But Not Unconstitutional

by Christine Stuart    ctnewsjunkie.com

HARTFORD, CT — The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Connecticut’s education system is imperfect, but not unconstitutional.

The decision may signal the end of 12 years of litigation over whether the state has been providing enough funding for its poorest school districts.

In a 4-3 decision in which three of the justices concurred and dissented with parts of the ruling, the majority concluded that it’s not the function of the courts to create educational policy “or to attempt by judicial fiat to eliminate all of the societal deficiencies that continue to frustrate the state’s educational efforts. Rather, the function of the courts is to determine whether the narrow and specific criteria for a minimally adequate educational system under our state constitution have been satisfied.”

The justices, in overturning Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling, wrote that “although the plaintiffs have convincingly demonstrated that in this state there is a gap in educational achievement between the poorest and neediest students and their more fortunate peers, disparities in educational achievement, standing alone, do not constitute proof that our state constitution’s equal protection provisions have been violated. The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state’s unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control.”

The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, which brought the case against then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell and worked for years to get it to trial, was deeply disappointed with the decision.

“CCJEF believes a case of this landmark magnitude should not be left dangling on such a close vote but requires instead the kind of clarity for the future of the State’s educational system that only a new trial and a definitive majority can establish,” James Finley, chief consultant for the group, said.

Finley said the coalition expects to file a motion for reconsideration.

“For over twelve years CCJEF has been battling in the Connecticut courts to ensure that every K-12 public school student in our state has the opportunity to receive their constitutionally guaranteed right to an adequate and equitable education,” Finley said. “Our courts are the backstop to ensure that state constitutional rights are protected when the other two branches of state government fail in their duty to do so.”

However, there are some in the executive and legislative branches of government who would be happy to put this case in the rearview mirror in order to move forward with changes.

“This decision concludes this landmark case regarding education funding,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was once a plaintiff in the case a mayor of Stamford before being elected governor to then become a defendant in the case. “At the same time, the urgency to continue the fight to distribute greater educational dollars where there is the greatest need has not diminished.”

He said no court “can mandate political courage, and it is my hope that current and future policymakers continue to make progress with a more fair distribution of educational aid.”

Senate President Martin Looney, a Democrat from New Haven, said the court’s decision “reaffirmed that local education funding is firmly in the purview of the General Assembly.”

But the legislature, according to the coalition of plaintiffs, has failed to create a system that provides every student with an adequate education.

“Every child in Connecticut deserves a first class education,” Looney said. “Our job will not be complete until we eliminate the inequities inherent our educational system and ensure that children in every city and every town across Connecticut receive a fair shot at academic success.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby, said the ruling provides an opportunity for the legislature.

“Everyone involved is frustrated that a comprehensive solution to this matter has eluded us,” Klarides said. “Disparities in our schools exist and that is not acceptable. But there is the will to bring the spectrum of stakeholders together and this offers new opportunities to address solutions in a comprehensive manner.”

But some stakeholders aren’t as optimistic about what the ruling means.

“Communities all over the state have already seen the state withdraw from its obligation to fund our public schools,” Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen said. “Rather than protect the quality of education in our communities, this decision allows the governor and the legislature to continue to slash funding to our schools and children. If Connecticut is to be an educational leader now and in the future, it will require that elected officials honor their duty to provide the equitable funding and resources all children deserve.”

Jennifer Alexander, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), seemed to agree, even though her group is often at odds with the teacher’s union.

“Today’s ruling from the State Supreme Court in no way absolves the state from fixing the persistent and alarming problems in our education system that Judge Moukawsher cited in his ruling,” Alexander said. “The status quo is failing far too many kids who are graduating from high school without the knowledge or skills they need to be successful in college or career.”

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, whose city is a member of the CCJEF coalition, said he’s also disappointed in the decision.

“We strongly believe that Judge Moukawsher was right when he ruled that while there may be enough resources overall spent to create an adequate education for all Connecticut public school students, the way in which the state has chosen to distribute these resources is irrational, and unconstitutionally disadvantages students from poor and challenged districts such as Bridgeport,” Ganim said. “How can you say that the state is meeting its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education to Bridgeport’s 22,000 public school students when it only spends $14,000 per pupil, and in better off communities nearly double is spent on every student?”

AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel, whose organization joined the lawsuit 13 years ago, said the decision puts the “responsibility for addressing and resolving the underlying cause of Connecticut’s broken education funding system on our elected leaders.”

She said the court “essentially issued a renewed call to action.”

The question remains whether the legislature has the political will to make the necessary changes to how education is funded.

Nutrition for Seniors

 

 Nutrition for Seniors

Most people don’t like cooking  just for themselves, so they rely on fast food, frozen meals or canned soup for their daily meals.  Seniors are particularly at risk because they often live alone, have little energy or money, and have taste buds that just don’t work like they used to. What can be done?

Eat with others. If you live alone, get together with friends or acquaintances and share a meal.
Shop sales. Look for fruits and vegetables in season when they are lower priced and have the best flavor.
Season food with herbs and spices, not salt.
Avoid sugary drinks. Not only are these bad for your insulin levels, they are also terrible for your waistline!
Fresh is best when available. Frozen vegetables packaged without sauces or butter are fine also.
Use smaller plates. It makes your servings look larger.
For more information, go here: