Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Memory of Victor Flanagan

“The true traveler has no destination and no fixed time of arrival” Laozi

Each of us has someone from the past we’d like to meet. We study the lives of the Buddha, Gandhi, or Jesus Christ for ideas on how to live a moral life. We study Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Thomas Edison for inspiration. I am no different than any of you. There are many people from the past that I would like to meet. One such person I would like to meet from the recent past is Victor Flanagan.

Who is Victor Flanagan you ask?

In early April 2008, the Supreme Court in the state of West Australia, declared Victor Flanagan to be “presumed dead.” His estate (estimated to be worth $4 million US dollars) went to his sister Violet Georgina Jenkins.

What makes Victor unique is that he literally walked away from the fortune he inherited. That’s right he chose to roam around the Australian outback naked for years. When he came into a town, he would put on a simple sarong. Occasionally he wore sandals when the terrain was forbidding. He was known as the “Naked Nomad.” Victor last spoke with his sister about 12 years go from Papua New Guinea (PNG). Ms Jenkins later tried to find her brother and tracked down some loggers in a remote area of PNG who reported finding a nearly-dead, Caucasian man who was naked in a canoe and later buried him in a mass grave for paupers (from www.news.com/au)

www.news.com/au also reports:

“In the March (08) newsletter from environmental awareness group, The Great Walk, Flanagan was described as a ‘gentle man who walked this earth with love and care for the environment around him’.

‘He walked barefoot from Perth to Papua New Guinea, becoming known as the Naked Nomad, making the news in his plight to share his truth with the outside world.’”

In 1995, Flanagan told a reporter that his naked adventures had attracted a lot of interest from travelers and police, but many were willing to give him and his dog food and water.

‘When I get hungry I hold out my plate and when I get thirsty I hold out my bottle for water for me and my dog,’ Flanagan said.

He said his goal was simply to be in touch with nature.”

Wow. What a message! It reminds me very much of the sentiment of Peace Pilgrim, the woman who walked over 25,000 miles in North American spreading the word of truth. And what a simple truth it is: peace and environmentalism.

The Daily Mail in the UK reported:

“…a curious figure with shoulder-length greying hair who had rejected civilisation. Everyone believed he was penniless…”

What would cause a man to literally walk away from an estate worth $4 million? For well over 4000 years, mystics in India known as “renunciates” have given up all material belongings and walked about from town to town. The Buddha, Gandhi, and Tolstoy were renunciates. Did Victor know something that the rest of us can’t understand? Did he see something in the examples of previous renunciates to make him walk away from all of his possessions? Was he just an “eccentric” as many news reports claim? Did he discover the essence of man by giving up all he owned? Henry David Thoreau constantly asked if we owned the thing or does the thing own us. This is an ever-more critical question to ask in this consumer age. Having never met Victor, I can only guess that he was not owned.
The same week that I learned of Victor’s death, I heard an interview by the energy tycoon T Boone Pickens (TBP) on C-SPAN. He was being interviewed at the Georgetown College of Business, and the topic was energy. He shared his thoughts on the energy crises, but not once did the word conservation cross his lips! In fairness, he did say he would talk about smaller cars later in the discussion, but the interview ended without him talking about it. He spoke of expanded energy needs and shortages. He gave what I felt was a very accurate view of the current crises, but he failed to mention that we have been living beyond our ability to sustain the corporatocracy (of which TBP is a part) since Columbus landed in 1492. In the words of Herb Stein, “things that can’t go on forever, don’t.” Victor Flanagan seems to me to have a better grasp of reality than T. Boone Pickens.

A psychoanalyst or historian looking back on these two men in the year 2508 will surely view Victor as the saner. Pickens said history will not be kind to this generation of the corporatocracy.
Frankly, I think it will prove to be impossible for a billion people to drive around at 70 mph in a sustainable manner no matter what technology will be developed in the next 200 years. In the interest of full disclosure, I own a truck. Pickens said we had about 2 trillion barrels of oil in the ground 110 years ago and half that is gone. The next trillion barrels will be gone in a lot less than that unless we decrease consumption rapidly.
Jerry Mander in his book, “In the Absence of the Sacred” said that all technology should be viewed as guilty until proven innocent. Meaning that we should view all new technology with suspicion, and I can guarantee you with 99.9% certainty that the replacement for gasoline (energy) and cars (transportation) will be fraught with unforeseen ecological hazards that won’t manifest for some years down the road. The earth “wants” humankind to travel at 3 miles per hour and to consume 3000 calories a day. Anything more than that (except maybe a bicycle) is really going to run up against the earth’s ability to sustain it in short order.
Let’s look at Victor’s example. Ask yourself a simple question: “how many calories did Victor use to travel 15 miles everyday?” The answer is somewhere around 2500-3000 biodegradable calories I would think. Now that is efficiency (especially so if the food he ate is locally grown)! Anything TBP could have possibly said (had he bothered to mention smaller cars) would have fallen far short of the truth. Think of the energy it takes just to get the gallon of gas to the pump. Victor spoke and lived truth.
One of my favorite books is Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He was properly calculating transportation costs back in the 1840’s. A neighbor/farmer asked how long it took to walk from Concord to Boston to visit his mother. Thoreau said 2 hours one way I believe. The farmer urged HDT to get a horse and cut down the travel time to something like 30 minutes. But then Thoreau calculated the time it took to feed and care for the animal and it was right at 30 hours a week. One can hardly say it is a time savings at all. The same calculation is true today. I spend about 25% of my time and income paying for a car. It is hardly worth it.

Will we look back at Victor Flanagan and say, “He was a real visionary?” Will we look back at the life of T Boone Pickens and say, “He was part of the problem?” There is an African proverb that says, “Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.” Pickens has the historians…for now. Will Victor be a lion with a historian someday? What can we learn from this simple man named Victor Flanagan? That is up to each of us. One thing is for sure, he was a traveler with no fixed destination or arrival time.

by Joey King

Tibet Benefit

*Know Tibet, From Knowledge to Compassion, Compassion to Action*, is an event for adults and children alike with music, dance, stories of life as a Tibetan exile and educational exhibits. Proceeds benefit Tibetan exile students in India through Tibetan Children's Villages and Project Giving Justice. Participants will hear traditional Tibetan songs, hear about Tibetan culture, religion and the story of the oppression suffered by Tibetans as told through narration and modern dance. Educational exhibits in the lobby will offer glimpses into Tibetan culture and religion, and at the More than Warmth -- stitching quilts, creating compassion exhibit, participants will be able to contribute images to quilts to be sent to Tibetan children in need.

This event is a collaboration between Blue Moves Modern Dance Company,
Global Education Center and One Human Race 4 Justice -- people of many
different religious faiths and backgrounds working together for human
rights, understanding and compassion.
Know Tibet
A benefit for Tibetan Refugee Children*
Sunday, June 1st
Father Ryan High School Theater
700 Norwood Dr., Nashville
Exhibits open at 1 p.m.
Performance 2 p.m.

Suggested donation, $10 adults, $5 children or $20 for a family.

Please make plans to attend this event, and share this information with your
friends, family and coworkers. Sharing Tibetan culture, arts and helping
refugees is an important step in helping to preserve the beautiful and
unique Tibetan way of life.

On Sunday, June 1st at Father Ryan High School Theater, Blue Moves Modern
Dance Company, Global Education Center and One Human Race 4 Justice will
offer a performance to inform, entertain and inspire adults and children
alike about Tibetan culture and society. The event will feature music,
dance, speakers and educational and interactive exhibits.

Singer/songwriter and former resident of Nepal and Thailand, Shanna
Underwood, will share songs of peace.

Drummer, percussionist and songwriter Kirby Shelstad will perform and share
some information about Tibetan Buddhism,

Blue Moves will perform "Breaking the Bones: A Plea for Tibet," a modern
dance and audio documentary telling the story of the crushing oppression
suffered by Tibetans under the hands of the Chinese government.

The show will also feature speakers such as Tibetan exile Ngawang Losel
sharing his personal story of crossing the Himalayas on foot into exile as a
teenager, and the many years he spent isolated from his family in a Tibetan
Refugee School in India.

Learning about other cultures through the arts is a step towards
cultivating compassion and respect for diverse societies. This event is
designed to offer children and adults a window of understanding into Tibetan
culture and the current situation in Tibet and China.

Proceeds will benefit Tibetan Children's Villages and Losel's Project
Giving Justice, both of which support children at Tibetan Refugee Schools in
India. In the lobby will be educational exhibits about Tibet and action
tables sharing ways that adults and children alike can help be a part of the
solution. More Than Warmth -- Stitching Quilts, Creating Compassion -- will
have an exhibit in which participants can create drawings and visual
messages of friendship and caring on quilts to be sent to Tibetan children.

For more info:

One Human Race 4 Justice



Blue Moves Modern Dance Company


Global Education Center


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering the Dead on Memorial Day

In Memory of One Million Iraqi Dead

In 2006, the Lancet did a scientific study in which they estimated that the number of Iraqis who have died since the beginning of the US occupation in 2003 was greater than 600,000 people. This figure included the results of sectarian violence, revenge killings, suicide bombings and deaths at the hands of soldiers and occupying forces. That number alone is a staggering figure, but now, only two years later the estimate of dead has increased to almost one million. On this Memorial Day, as we gather to remember our loved ones who have died in war let us include the men, women and children who have died in Iraq.

In a recent survey conducted in Iraq by Opinion Research Business it was found that twenty percent of Iraqi households had at least one family member who had died in their family as a result of the conflict, rather than due to natural occurrences. In addition to the grief and loss caused by these deaths, many Iraqi households have also lost their primary source of support as men have been killed, recruited into militias, imprisoned or have fled Iraq. Now is the time to call for an international war crimes tribunal against the Bush administration for crimes against humanity.

The West does not receive much information about real conditions on the ground in Iraq. Ever since the beginning of the occupation, news and information has been heavily censored and as a result the actual conditions of the Iraqi people is difficult to gauge. The Pentagon has stopped counting the numbers of civilians killed in battle operations and does not keep track of individuals killed as a result of sectarian violence, suicide bombings, revenge killings or disappearances.

What we do know about Iraq is terrifying. Iraq is a country that is occupied by nearly three hundred thousands soldiers and private contractors. Two million Iraqis have fled the country, seeking asylum in neighboring countries since the war began. At least 42,000 Iraqi men have been detained in military prisons operated by the United States under suspicion of being insurgents. We do not know how many of those men have been release, how many have been tortured and how many have died. Normal law does not exist in Iraq. The military can enter any household at any time for any reason. Men can be detained on the street and held in custody without notice to extended family. Private security contractors are given a license to kill with immunity.

One million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of this occupation. On this Memorial Day, let us remember the dead. Regardless of whether they were killed in the line of duty or are victims of war, each one has a name, a mother, a history, and an identity. These men, women and children did not deserve what was done in the name of freedom and democracy. Only we have the power to stop this senseless violence. We must call on Congress to bring the troops home now, and in November we must sweep out the Bush administration and every member of the House and Senate who voted for war.

Saddam Hussein was brought before a court and tried for the massacres that he committed, yet there has been no such human rights tribunal to try President Bush for crimes against humanity. Bush continues to insist on the righteousness of his cause, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. The President be must called to account for his reckless decision which has destroyed an entire nation and resulted in so much death and suffering. On this Memorial Day, let us learn from the lessons of the past and make choices that will insure peace and justice for future generations.

to learn more about Iraqi civilian deaths please visit:


David Rovics on Utah Phillips

I was watching my baby daughter sleep in her carseat outside of the Sacramento airport about ten hours ago when I noticed a missed call from Brendan Phillips. He's in a band called Fast Rattler with several friends of mine, two of whom live in my new hometown of Portland, Oregon, one of whom needed a ride home from the Greyhound station. I called back, and soon thereafter heard the news from Brendan that his father had died the night before in his sleep, when his heart stopped beating.

I wouldn't want to elevate anybody to inappropriately high heights, but for me, Utah Phillips was a legend.

I first became familiar with the Utah Phillips phenomenon in the late 80's, when I was in my early twenties, working part-time as a prep cook at Morningtown in Seattle. I had recently read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and had been particularly enthralled by the early 20th Century section, the stories of the Industrial Workers of the World. So it was with great interest that I first discovered a greasy cassette there in the kitchen by the stereo, Utah Phillips Sings the Songs and Tells the Stories of the Industrial Workers of the World.

As a young radical, I had heard lots about the 1960's. There were (and are) plenty of veterans of the struggles of the 60's alive and well today. But the wildly tumultuous era of the first two decades of the 20th century is now (and pretty well was then) a thing entirely of history, with no one living anymore to tell the stories. And while long after the 60's there will be millions of hours of audio and video recorded for posterity, of the massive turn-of-the-century movement of the industrial working class there will be virtually none of that.

To hear Utah tell the stories of the strikes and the free speech fights, recounting hilariously the day-to-day tribulations of life in the hobo jungles and logging camps, singing about the humanity of historical figures such as Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, was to bring alive an era that at that point only seemed to exist on paper, not in the reality of the senses. But Utah didn't feel like someone who was just telling stories from a bygone era -- it was more like he was a bridge to that era.

Hearing these songs and stories brought to life by him, I became infected by the idea that if people just knew this history in all it's beauty and grandeur, they would find the same hope for humanity and for the possibility for radical social change that I had just found through Utah.

Thus, I became a Wobbly singer, too. I began to stand on a street corner on University Way with a sign beside me that read, "Songs of the Seattle General Strike of 1919." I mostly sang songs I learned from listening to Utah's cassette, plus some other IWW songs I found in various obscure collections of folk music that I came across.

It was a couple years later that I first really discovered Utah Phillips, the songwriter. I had by this time immersed myself with great enthusiasm in the work of many contemporary performers in what gets called the folk music scene, and had developed a keen appreciation for the varied and brilliant songwriting of Jim Page and others. Then, in 1991, I came across Utah's new cassette, I've Got To Know, and soon thereafter heard a copy of a much earlier recording, Good Though.

Whether he's recounting stories from his own experiences or those of others doesn't matter. There is no need to know, for in the many hours Utah spent in his troubled youth talking with old, long-dead veterans of the rails and the IWW campaigns, a bridge from now to then was formed in this person, in his pen and in his deep, resonant voice. In Good Though I heard the distant past breathing and full of life in Utah's own compositions, just as they breathed in his renditions of older songs.

In I've Got To Know I heard an eloquent and current voice of opposition to the American Empire and the bombing of Iraq, rolled together seamlessly with the voices of deserters, draft dodgers and tax resisters of the previous century.

In reference to the power of lying propaganda, a friend of mine used to say it takes ten minutes of truth to counteract 24 hours of lies. But upon first hearing Utah's song, "Yellow Ribbon," it seemed to me that perhaps that ratio didn't give the power of truth enough credit. It seemed to me that if the modern soldiers of the empire would have a chance to hear Utah's monologues there about his anguish after his time in the Army in Korea, or the breathtakingly simple depiction of life under the junta in El Salvador in his song "Rice and Beans," they would just have to quit the military.

Utah made it clear in word and in deed that steeping yourself in the tradition was required of any good practitioner of the craft, and I did my best to follow in his footsteps and do just that. I learned lots of Utah's songs as well as the old songs he was playing. Making a living busking in the Boston subways for years, I ran into other folks who were doing just that, as well as writing great songs, such as Nathan Phillips (no relation). Nathan was from West Virginia, and did haunting versions of "The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia," "Larimer Street," "All Used Up," and other songs. In different T stops at the same time, Nathan and I could often be found both singing the songs of Utah Phillips for the passersby.

Traveling around the US in the 1990's and since then, it seemed that Utah's music had, on a musical level, had the same kind of impact that Zinn's People's History or somewhat earlier works such as Jeremy Brecher's book, Strike!, had had in written form -- bringing alive vital history that had been all but forgotten. With Ani DiFranco's collaboration with Utah, this became doubly true, seemingly overnight, and this man who had had a loyal cult following before suddenly had, if not what might be called popularity, at least a loyal cult following that was now twice as big as it had been in the pre-Ani era.

I had had the pleasure of hearing Utah live in concert only once in the early 90's, doing a show with another great songwriter, Charlie King, in the Boston area. I was looking forward to hearing him play again around there in 1995, but what was to be a Utah Phillips concert turned into a benefit for Utah's medical expenses, when he had to suddenly drastically cut down on his touring, due to heart problems. I think there were about twenty different performers doing renditions of Utah Phillips' songs at Club Passim that night. I did "Yellow Ribbon."

Traveling in the same circles and putting out CDs on the same record label, it was fairly inevitable that we'd meet eventually. The first time was several years ago, if memory serves me, behind the stage at the annual protest against the School of the Americas in Columbus, Georgia. I think I successfully avoided seeming too painfully star-struck. Utah was complaining to me earnestly about how he didn't know what to do at these protests, didn't feel like he had good protest material. I think he did just fine, though I can't recall what he did.

Utah lived in Nevada City, and the last time I was there he came to the community radio station while I was appearing on a show. This was soon after Katrina, and I remember singing my song, "New Orleans," and Utah saying embarrassingly nice things. I was on a little tour with Norman Solomon speaking and me singing, and we had done an event the night before in town, which Utah was too tired to attend, if I recall.

Me, Utah, Norman, and my companion, Reiko, went over to a nice breakfast place after the radio show, talked and ate breakfast. Utah did most of the talking, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that his use of mysterious hobo colloquialisms and frequent references to obscure historical characters in twentieth-century American anarchist history was something he did off stage as well as on.

I've passed near enough to that part of California many times since then. Called once when I was nearby and he was out of town, doing a show in Boston. Otherwise I just thought about calling and dropping by, but didn't take the time. Life was happening, and taking a day or two off in Nevada City was always something that I never quite seemed to find the time for. Always figured next time I'll have more time, I'll call him then. It had been thirteen years since he found out about his heart problems, and he hadn't kicked the bucket yet... Of course, now I wish I had taken the time when I had the chance, and I'm sure there are many other people who feel the same way.

In any case, for those of us who knew his music, whether from recordings or concerts, for those of us who knew Utah from his stories on or off the stage, whether we knew him as that human bridge to the radical labor movement of yesterday, or as the voice of the modern-day hobos, or as that funky old guy that Ani did a couple of CDs with, Utah Phillips will be remembered and treasured by many.

He was undeniably a sort of musical-political-historical institution in his own day. He said he was a rumor in his own time. No question, one man's rumor is another man's legend, but who cares, it's just words anyway.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Tennessee General Assembly Adjourns

The 2nd Session of the 105th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, May 21, 2008. During the session, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) tracked 125 bills and was active lobbying on a number of issues.

Education: TTPC worked against a bill which would have banned public school teachers from discussing sexual diversity. The House K-12 Subcommittee sent the bill to the Tennessee Department of Education for study. We were part of a broad coalition of opponents which included the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tennessee Equality Project. TTPC also supported Safe School and anti-gang bills and which should provide more protection for GLBT youth against harassment and bullying.

Employment: Although there was no specific bill introduced that would ban discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, TTPC continued to educate legislators about the need for such legislation.

Family Issues: TTPC vigorously opposed a bill which would ban unmarried, cohabiting couples in a sexual relationship from adopting children in 2007. TTPC viewed this bill as moralizing and discriminatory. The Senate sponsor decided to have the adoption issue sent to another Summer Study Committee. We will continue to monitor this issue and will oppose any efforts to limit the rights of GLBT people to adopt.

Hate Crimes: TTPC continued to educate legislators on the prevalence of hate crimes in the Transgender community. TTPC has lobbied to expand the Hate Crimes Penalty Enhancement Act of 2000, which does not cover Transgender persons, to include gender identity or expression.

Health Care: TTPC continued to educate legislators on the need to expand health care coverage and resources to as many people as possible, as long as that coverage was not denied to anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Personal Documents: Last summer, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations looked at the issue of requiring new Photo Identification to vote. They made no recommendation on the issue, but due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision authorizing the use of such documents, we anticipate seeing this issue return in 2009. TTPC will continue to oppose any legislation we believe will disfranchise transgender voters.

Birth Certificates: TTPC had two bills introduced which would permit gender changes on birth certificates. These bills were sponsored by Senator Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis), Representative Michael Kernell (D-Memphis), and Representative Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis). Unfortunately, one version had an amendment added that was proposed by House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) which would create new categories of "MTF" and "FTM" on birth certificates. TTPC opposed this amendment and agreed with the sponsors to withdraw the bill for 2008. We appreciate the support we received from those who opposed the Mumpower Amendment and will continue working with our sponsors to get this important legislation passed in 2008.

Relationships: There were no new bills introduced which would have limited the rights of GLBT persons to have their relationships recognized and honored. TTPC was prepared to oppose any such bills.

The 1st Session of the 106th General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. TTPC will continue to work for equal rights legislation including transgender persons, and will continue to oppose any legislation denying equal rights to all.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

Monday, May 19, 2008

US Admits Weapons Not Made in Iran

"US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all"

In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.

According to a report by the LA Times correspondent Tina Susman in Baghdad: “A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all.”

The US , which until two weeks ago had never provided any proof for its allegations, finally handed over its “evidence” of the Iranian origin of these weapons to the Iraqi government. Last week, an Iraqi delegation to Iran presented the US “evidence” to Iranian officials. According to Al-Abadi, a parliament member from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance who was on the delegation, the Iranian officials totally refuted “training, financing and arming” militant groups in Iraq . Consequently the Iraqi government announced that there is no hard evidence against Iran.

In another extraordinary event this week, the US spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, for the first time did not blame Iran for the violence in Iraq and in fact did not make any reference to Iran at all in his introductory remarks to the world media on Wednesday when he described the large arsenal of weapons found by Iraqi forces in Karbala.

In contrast, the Pentagon in August 2007 admitted that it had lost track of a third of the weapons distributed to the Iraqi security forces in 2004/2005. The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today.

In the past year, the US leaders have been relentless in propagating their charges of Iranian meddling and fomenting violence in Iraq and since the release of the key judgments of the US National Intelligence Estimate in December that Iran does not have a nuclear weaponisation programme, these accusations have sharply intensified.
The US charges of Iranian interference in Iraq too have now collapsed. Any threat of military strike against Iran is in violation of the UN charter and the IAEA's continued supervision on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities means there is no justification for sanctions.

CASMII calls on the US to change course and enter into comprehensive and unconditional negotiations with Iran.

For more information or to contact CASMII please visit http://www.campaign iran.org

Civil Rights Complaints Filed Against MTA

(Nashville, Tenn.) – Civil rights complaints filed to the Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation charge the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Nashville-Davidson County, and two other Middle Tennessee transit agencies with racial and socio-economic discrimination.

The complaints, filed by Power to the People, a local African-American social justice group, seek the suspension of all federal funds to TDOT, MTA, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Regional Transportation Authority.
MPO is responsible for transportation planning and policy implementation for local governments in Davidson County. RTA finances, constructs and administers the county's local and rural transportation agencies.

The complaints also ask the FTA and the USDOT to stop the 25-cent fare hike and the reduction of seven bus routes currently sought by MTA, which operates the bus system in Nashville and Davidson County. Power to the People recently organized the Nashville Bus Riders Union to prevent MTA's proposed changes.

Power to the People's complaints were filed, in part, under the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits discrimination by any agency that receives federal funding.

Among the allegations in the complaints:
1. MTA has not properly advised riders of the proposed fare hike and service cuts and has held insufficient meetings for public comment. No meetings were held in South or North Nashville, where large Hispanic, immigrant and African American communities are located.

2. TDOT does not properly fund mass transit systems in Tennessee, providing over $400 million for highway construction and only $40 million for mass transit.

3.TDOT, MTA, MPO and RTA do not properly advise low income and minority riders of transit agency meetings and planning.

4. The four transit agencies practice economic discrimination by forcing low income and minority riders to pay for fare hikes, while allowing state employees to ride free.

5. The Music City Central bus hub now under construction is in violation of federal environmental and discrimination laws (e.g., environmental racism).
"...This transit racism is illegal, unprofessional, and the result of institutional racism," according to the complaints.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Commentary: Disaster Response

The People's Republic of China has responded to a devastating natural disaster with immediate deployment of 130,000 military troops and thousands more rescue workers under the precise coordination of an engaged top national authority. I can't help but compare this heartfelt effort with our own government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and can't help but wonder how many troops could be brought to bear in a similar national disaster here in the United States.

Respectfully yours,
Grant Houston

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mosquito Policy Violates PMI

Health Department’s New Mosquito Control Policy
Violates Pesticide Manufacturer’s Instructions

Last month, Nashville's Metropolitan Board of Health adopted a new mosquito control policy, which allows drivers spraying pesticides for mosquitoes to leave the spray running when pedestrians are present. Before the Board unanimously adopted the policy, the director of the Metro Public Health Department Dr. William Paul claimed that leaving the spray on when pedestrians were near was “no problem”.

Apparently, the manufacturer of the pesticide does not agree and neither do 152 Davidson County residents who recently filed a motion with the Board to reconsider. Seventeen citizens who claimed they were sickened by the pesticide when their neighborhoods were sprayed and thirty-one people with health conditions varying from asthma, Parkinson's disease, to pesticide hypersensitivities were among those who petitioned the Board to reconsider their decision and amend the policy. Seven members of the local medical and scientific community also signed on stating that they had serious concerns. (Upon your request all documents from for motion to reconsider will be sent via emai.)

Among the documents included in their request to the Board were transcripts from the testimony of two members of the Health Department's Pest Management staff. Both men were specifically instructed during training by the manufacturer of the product about the dangers of spraying people with the pesticide Anvil 2+2. The men claimed, under oath, that they were told to shut off the spray when pedestrians were near. The testimony was part of discovery depositions for recent litigation involving the injury of a Donelson man, Emmett Clifford, who was sprayed at close range by spray truck driver John Primm. [See attached transcript for John Primm pages 18 line 18 – page 24 line 15, and Larry Cole pages 13 line 6 - page 16 line 20.]

The department’s policy at the time was to cut the spray off when pedestrians were present many pedestrians complained that drivers frequently did not do this and some reported experiencing symptoms to the department. By 2005, Clifford and a lawn care crew had filed civil lawsuits against the department for injuries.

After the second lawsuit was filed, the department required a lead and following truck to go out with the spray truck to warn citizens and to radio the driver to cut off the spray if people were visible. However in 2006, citizen Karl Meyer witnessed drivers in his Fisk Park neighborhood leaving the spray running while families with young children were in their front yards, kids were on bikes, and even as they passed a man in a wheel chair. [Karl Meyer: 322-9523] Spray truck driver John Primm was also captured on tape by NewsChannel 5 in 2006 as he left the spray running while a man ran through his front yard trying to get into the house.

East Nashville resident, Davida Hicks found herself in this situation early one evening while working in a friend’s yard. She says that she was close to the street and visible to the driver but the spray truck driver left the spray on as he passed the yard. She could not get inside to escape the spray - the door was locked. She claims she experienced trouble breathing that evening and a fluid congestion.

Attorney Joseph Johnston is representing eight former victims of spraying, two witnesses of pedestrian spraying, and three citizens with pesticide hypersensitivities. He urged the Board to amend the policy so that individual pedestrians and homeowners are not sprayed, for a voluntary registry of individuals who are hypersensitive to pesticides, and asked them to reinstate the opt out option in order to reduce the risk of injury to those portions of the population vulnerable to the effects of mosquito spray.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Climate Change Impacts on Peace

(Sao Paulo, Brazil) My name is Bruce Gagnon and I live in the state of Maine in the United States. I work for the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. A recent U.S. military report called "Transforming the way the Pentagon looks at energy," says that in order to ensure a "reliable" source of oil for the long term the military will increase its efforts to maintain control over foreign sources.

Soaring global demand for dimishing resources means strong international competition in the coming years.

Global power, the Pentagon says, will reside in the hands of those who control the distribution of declining natural resources.

One way to keep control of the global economic system is by holding the keys to the world's economic engine - oil.

During the two terms of the Bush administration, George W. Bush has doubled military spending. The U.S. military now controls just over 50% of every federal tax dollar.

The U.S. Congress is now sharply cutting remaining social programs, public education, and environmental programs.

To fund the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan the U.S. is spending more than $14 billion a month. The U.S. now spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

The Republicans and the Democrats are partners in funding and promoting the U.S. military empire that consists of more than 750 military bases around the world.

The weapons corporations are now giving more campaign donations to the Democrats than the Republicans. The two Democratic party presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, have pledged to expand the U.S. military by adding more soldiers and building a new generation of weapons.

And now the weapons industry wants to move the arms race into space. Weapons corporations say that weapons in space (Star Wars) will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. The new arms race will be so expensive that the U.S. can't pay for it alone and is bringing its allies into this new space weapons arms race. Many European countries have become partners as has Japan and Australia.

The Pentagon says that under corporate globalization every country will have a different role. There will be no significant industry in the U.S. (except weapons production). No automobile manufacturing, no clothes or shoe production. Instead, the military says our role in the U.S. will be "security export" which translates to endless war to benefit the corporate interests.

Today the U.S. is surrounding Russia with the help of an expanding NATO alliance. Why Russia? Russia has the largest supply of natural gas on the planet and also has huge supplies of oil.

The U.S. is also attempting to deploy so-called "missile defense" interceptors in Poland and a space warfare radar system in the Czech Republic. We need Green parties in Poland and the Czech Republic, and throughout Europe, to speak out louder against these new U.S. bases.

The U.S. today is militarily surrounding China with the help of a military alliance with Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The Washington Post newspaper several years ago reported that the U.S. is moving to "manage" China by doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region and by deploying missile defense systems throughout the region. This will create a new and expensive arms race.

The U.S. Space Command for the past several years has been war gaming a first-strike attack on China, set in the year 2016. The attack uses the military space plane, now under development, that would fly from one end of the Earth to the other in one hour and drop a devastating attack on China and then return to space.

Space technology coordinates all war on the planet today. When the U.S. launched the "shock and awe" invasion on Iraq in 2003 over 70% of the weapons used in the initial attack were directed to their targets by military space satellites. Thus the Pentagon says, whoever controls space will control the Earth below.

In addition the U.S. is now preparing an attack on Iran in order to control their oil and natural gas.

The U.S. is demonizing Venezuela because they had the audacity to nationalize their oil.

And the Pentagon has just recently created a new military command called AfriCom. The Pentagon says we will be fighting in Africa in 20 years to control the oil of Nigeria, Angola, and Algeria.

Everyone acknowledges that the U.S. is a major contributor to global warming and that we in the U.S. must immediately change our entire consuming culture if the planet is to survive. But where will the massive investment for solar, wind, rail, and conservation come from when the U.S. is instead preparing for endless war?

In fact, if the U.S. successfully draws Russia, China, the European Union, and Japan into a new arms race in space, how will any of our societies be able to afford to produce the alternative technologies we will need to avoid the coming global energy crisis?

Global Greens must make a unified demand for the conversion of the global war machine, or as we call it, the military industrial complex.

We know that conversion of the global war machine will create more jobs than we currently get from military spending. We know that if we don't convert the military industrial complex then the future generations will suffer even more.

In the proposed 21 Point Declaration I would like to comment on point number 20. I believe that two key items must be added. The first is that a statement is needed calling for the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). This new space arms race will be what the weapons industry says will be the most expensive industrial project in human history.

Secondly, there must be a specific call for the conversion of the global war machine in the Declaration so that our global budget resources can be dramatically and quickly used to deal with climate change.

The Native Americans, the Indian people, in my country say that the sacred hoop, the sacred circle, has been broken. It is our job to heal the broken circle.

Political power means little if we don't show the determination to stop the madness of endless war and successfully deal with climate change.

Thank you.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
http://space4peace.blogspot.com (Blog)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tennesee to Host Bioregional Conference

For nearly 30 years bioregionalists have been gathering in congresses to envision and develop a realistic, restorative way of life in the bioregions of the Americas. We set our own agendas, operate by consensus and build a common commitment. Grand times and good friendships are only the first fruits. At bioregional congresses, we live in community, concern ourselves with the things that matter, and return home informed and inspired.

We earnestly invite the participation of all, especially those actively employing ecological precepts in the many movements and endeavors necessary for the human species to reinhabit the bioregions of the Americas and of the whole Earth.

The survival of humanity, and of the planet’s bioregions, depends on the advancement of ecologically designed economics and auditing, technology, agriculture and forestry; planning and industry; education, culture and art; philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics; law and justice; health and environmental defense; politics and land tenure. Any and all activists and practitioners in these fields are strongly urged to attend, to share their passions, lore, successes and learning experiences; to find new cohorts while participating in plenary discussions and spontaneous conversations.

If we are to avoid total ecological and social collapse followed by a brutal global monoculture, we need to begin to live by life, to listen to the planet, to learn our places. Home is the ground for honest hope. Only in our life-places can we begin anew, in the timeless way of Earth’s ecologies.

The Congress has served as an invaluable ceremonial village that links each to each across the artificial boundaries of state, province, and nation, sharing stories of place, helping us learn more from one another about how to live for the good of the earth and in the contours of our particular place on the earth.

Participants find vital and enduring transformations that ripple out from their lives into their communities. And the bioregional movement as a whole renews its sense of where it has been, where it is now, and where it needs to go to better address the many injustices happening all over the world, and to better forge strategies to restore and preserve the earth.

Join our online bioregional listserv:
Subscribe: bioreg-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

A congress needs some fundamental level of consciousness and knowledge to exist in its participants even before it convenes, since it is a working body made up of fully-participating equals. Besides the obvious fact that a bioregional congress needs an ecological orientation, ecological consciousness brings the same amazing, self-organizing quality to political gatherings and organizations as it does to ecosystems in nature. This is the source of the unique power, spirit, and energy of bioregional congresses.

If you want everyone to come to an event who you can possibly reach through all your mailing lists, TV, radio, and newspaper spots, posters up on the street, with the purpose of educating them through pre-ordained schedules of special speakers and workshops, do a conference instead of a congress. If you have the time, energy, and resources, you may want to do an educative conference first as a fund-raiser and consciousness-raiser before you bring together the working body, the congress.

Following are some content suggestions for the invitation:

* Emphasize that this is a working congress (not a “conference”) requiring each person’s full participation for the full number of days the congress is in session, that those who come late or for one or two days probably won’t be able to figure out or get successfully integrated with what’s going on, and probably won’t get much out of being there.

* Suggest that a basic commitment to ecologically-based and ecologically-responsible solutions to the problems of human society may be necessary to each person’s understanding of and ability to fully and effectively participate in the congress.

* Include that “full participation” also means in food preparation, childcare, cleanup, and all the other basic functions of a temporary community (unless you the organizers intend to furnish all these services through non-participating volunteers or paid help, both of which practices, in my opinion, diminish a congress and usually markedly increase the cost).

* Include a list of organizations to which the invitation has been sent. Hopefully you will have a long and impressive one, broken down by categories indicating the type of organization. If you can get prior confirmation that the organization will be represented at the congress, indicate this by an asterisk or some other code. A good way to build credibility is to solicit congress co-sponsors (and ask for a co-sponsorship donation of money, resources, or help), and then list them in the invitation. All this is a form of “advertising” which also gives the invitee important information about the breadth and depth of what you are trying to bring together, giving strong reinforcement to the feeling that “this is an event that I really don’t want to miss.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

National Conference for Media Reform

Free Press Hosts 2008 National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis
More than 75 sessions on critical media and technology issues announced for June 6-8 event

MINNEAPOLIS -- On June 6-8, a broad array of policymakers, scholars, media producers, grassroots activists and concerned citizens will gather in Minneapolis for the 2008 National Conference for Media Reform. This landmark event -- hosted by Free Press at the Minneapolis Convention Center -- is the central destination for the growing movement to create a more accountable, democratic and diverse media.

"Decisions in the next few years will result in profound changes to the media landscape," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. "The National Conference for Media Reform takes these critical media policy debates out from behind closed doors in Washington -- and puts them into the public arena where they belong. This event highlights the movers and shakers in independent journalism, media accountability and the fight for Internet freedom."

The full preliminary schedule of events -- including more than 75 panels and workshops -- is available at http://www.freepress.net/conference/program.

Sessions will cover a diverse range of key media and technology policies including: media ownership, the future of the Internet, war coverage, public broadcasting, media and elections, copyright, the First Amendment, online activism, ethnic media, and dozens more.

More than 250 presenters are featured at the National Conference for Media Reform. Among them:

Legendary journalists like PBS broadcaster Bill Moyers, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and author Naomi Klein.
Political leaders and policymakers including Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.
Internet visionaries and new media innovators like Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law, Tim Wu of Columbia Law, Arianna Huffington of HuffingtonPost.com, and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.
Civil rights leaders and social justice activists like Kim Gandy of the National Organization for Women, Van Jones from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood from the Hip Hop Caucus.
Music, film, and independent media makers like radio host Davey D, Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, Greg Watkins of AllHipHop.com and The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Press credentials for the National Conference for Media Reform are available to members of the media who will be covering the event. Request press credentials by filling out the online application: http://free.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/NCMR08/NCMRPressApplication

Discounted hotel rates are available only through May 9th -- find out more at http://freepress.net/conference/lodging08

Many conference speakers, media policy experts and the event planners are also available for guest appearances in advance of the conference. To schedule an interview, contact Jen Howard at press@freepress.net.

Program updates, registration information and highlights from previous conferences can be found at www.freepress.net/conference.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TTPC Celebrates Mildred Loving

TTPC Celebrates the Contributions of Mildred Loving

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition honors the contribution of Mildred Loving, who passed away yesterday. Mildred and Richard Loving were the couple who successfully challenged anti-miscegenation statutes in the historic case, Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

The commitment of the Lovings to one another, and to their belief that no government should prevent two people the freedom to marry, has secured her place in this nation's history. She reiterated her belief in this fundamental right in her statement last year on the 40th Anniversary of the historic ruling by Supreme Court of the United States.

...Not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.

...I am proud that Richard's and my name are on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

(Read Mrs. Loving's full statement here.)

One of those anti-miscegenation laws overturned by the Supreme Court was Article XI, Section 14, of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. That language was finally removed in 1978. Then, in 2006, voters in Tennessee placed marriage discrimination back into the Constitution of the State banning marriage equality based on gender.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition remains committed to continuing the Lovings' fight to end all forms of discrimination, including in the areas of marriage and relationship recognition.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition extends our best wishes to the Loving family.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

Monday, May 5, 2008

US Spy Ball Deflated by Activists

On April 30 at 6:00 a.m. in the morning morning three Christian activists from "Ploughshares Aotearoa" entered the Waihopai Spy Base in New Zealand and used sickles to deflate one of the two 30 metre radomes covering satellite interception dishes. The members then built a shrine and prayed for the victims of the war with no end - the so-called 'War on Terror' led by the U. S. Empire which also controls the New Zealand taxpayer funded Waihopai spy base.

Samuel Peter Frederick Land, 24, of Hokianga, Adrian James Leason, 42, a teacher from Otaki and Peter Reginald Leo Murnane, 67, a Dominican friar from Auckland, were arrested by police who are considering charging the men with sabotage under the Crimes Act, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' jail.

Damage to the radome is estimated at more than $1 million.

The three have been granted bail and released and have a June 9 pre-depositions hearing.

Supporters rallied outside the courtroom in Blenheim on May 5 and yelled "What do we want? Waihopai Closed''.

The action has brought worldwide attention to the fact that the U.S. spy satellite base in based in New Zealand and should be a positive boost to the long standing campaign against the base by
the Anti-Bases Campaign in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
http://space4peace.blogspot.com (Blog)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Death Row Inmate Speaks in Knoxville

Exonerated Death Row Inmate Speaks in Knoxville

Curtis McCarty spent 17 years on Oklahoma's death row for a crime that he did not commit. On Thursday, April 24, Curtis shared this powerful story at the University of Tennessee Law School. The audience of 70 was comprised of undergraduates, law students, law professors, attorneys, and Knoxville community members. On Friday, April 25, Mr. McCarty spoke to students at Knoxville Catholic High School. After two assemblies and a class, Curtis spoke to a combined total of nearly 400 individuals.

Curtis begins his story by acknowledging how his bad choices--his juvenile history of drugs and crime-- led him to associate with the murdered individual, leading to death row. To Curtis, his poor choices prior to his incarceration played a large role in his ending up in prison.

Yet, the state of Oklahoma is ultimately responsible for sending an innocent man to death row. The case of Curtis McCarty is riddled with problems that suggest he was wrongfully convicted in the murder of Pam Willis: suppressed evidence, destroyed evidence, and perjured testimony.

The death penalty system is broken. 129 individuals have been released from death rows nationwide when evidence of their innocence emerged. Curtis knows this better than anyone, but he also knows that a life of crime made it easier for the state to convict him. It is a rare sight to witness someone so gracefully admit his shortcomings. He replied, "I was angry, in fact I was very angry. I soon realized though that bitterness is unproductive. I wanted to be productive, and I wanted to seek justice. In order to do this, I had to stop being angry and instead tell my story." The story of Curtis McCarty is a story that needs to be told, over and over and over again.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

JwJ Marches for Economic Justice

National Jobs with Justice conference participants joined RI
Jobs with Justice and allies in holding the line in Rhode
Island. While the country teeters on the brink of recession,
Rhode Island is already in economic crisis. RI's anti-worker,
anti-immigrant governor is making this crisis worse by trying to
balance the state's financial troubles on the backs of working
families by cutting programs, cutting pensions, promoting massive
layoffs and attacking immigrants.

They told Governor Carcieri that we won't stand for balancing
the budget on the backs of RI's working class. We stood up for a
vision of the future that protects and promotes the dignity of
all residents and honors and respects hard work. We will demand
tax and budget reform, funding for the programs and staffing
that make RI work for workers, and immigrant justice!

Check out video from the action on youtube and stay tuned in the
next few weeks to find out more about what happened at the


Friday, May 2, 2008

House Holds Hearing on Workplace Safety

U.S. House of Representatives Holds Hearing on Need for Increased Workplace Safety Enforcement

Testimony Given By Emmanuel Torres, Son of Worker Killed at Cintas Plant; U.S. Representative "Appalled" at Cintas' Lack of Responsibility

On April 23rd, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on workplace safety seeking stronger OSHA enforcement for large, multi-site employers. Members of the subcommittee named Cintas as a prime example of the need for stronger OSHA enforcement. The hearing was prompted by the death last year of Eleazar Torres Gomez, a worker who was killed at a Cintas plant in Tulsa, OK after he was trapped inside an industrial-sized dryer. Emmanuel Torres, Mr. Torres Gomez' son, testified at the hearing, stating that Cintas failed to do everything it was required to do to protect his father. At the hearing, citing internal company memos made public that morning, members of the committee strongly admonished Cintas's top corporate leadership for failing to fix the lethal dangers it knew about that ultimately led to the death of Eleazar Torres Gomez.

"An internal memo dated April 30, 2004 notifies company officials - including regional health and safety coordinators - of 'an incident that could have resulted in serious injury and possible death,'" said Subcommittee Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). Although the memo outlined changes needed to remedy dangerous conditions, "[n]one of these promises were acted upon at the Tulsa facility," according to the chairwoman.

The memo was issued by Cintas Health and Safety Director Rick Gerlach and addressed to top-level managers around the country. Accompanying this memo was an attachment from then Cintas President Scott Farmer, currently CEO of the company, describing two other incidents in 2000 where employees had climbed onto working laundry conveyors to clear jams and fell into a running washer. The 2004 memo was first made public in a Wall Street Journal article published in the April 23rd edition of the paper. To read the article, visit:

Illinois Representative Phil Hare said, "I was appalled. . .by the total lack of responsibility that Cintas took for this accident and the way the company treated the Torres Gomez family." A company statement released by Cintas in the aftermath of the death was described as blaming the victim for his own death.

"The fact that Cintas blamed my father for what truly is a company wide problem is wrong," said Emmanuel Torres.

Four current and one former Cintas workers attended the hearing and spoke at the press conference that preceded the hearing. They complained of mounting production pressures, repetitive stress injuries, and lack of training at their jobs.

"Even after the death in Tulsa, Cintas was still not safe. By the time OSHA was done, there still was not enough training and staffing," said Errol Ingram, a former maintenance supervisor from Mobile, Alabama, after the hearing. OSHA has proposed nearly $200,000 in violations in Mobile for the same kinds of hazards that led to Mr. Torres Gomez's death.

Eleazar Torres Gomez was killed in March 2007 after he was pulled by an unguarded, automated conveyor into an industrial drier. He was trapped for 20 minutes in 300 degree heat. Shortly after this tragedy, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee made its first of multiple requests for a company-wide OSHA investigation.

In addition to the $2.78 million dollar proposed fine for the violations in Tulsa, federal and state safety inspectors have issued citations for the same deadly dangers at Cintas laundries in Ohio, Alabama, California, and Washington, where a worker's arm was nearly ripped off, since August 2007. OSHA inspectors are investigating workers' allegations that similar hazards exist in the company's Bedford Park, Illinois facility.

Cintas workers throughout North America are standing with UNITE HERE and the Teamsters to gain better, safer jobs. Currently, both unions represent roughly 400 Cintas workers. For more information about Cintas workers' efforts, visit www.uniformjustice.org and www.makeCINTASsafe.info.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Adoption Bill Sent to Summer Study

Late yesterday afternoon, Senator Paul Stanley (R-Germantown) requested that his bill to ban unmarried, cohabiting couples from adopting children, SB3910, be referred to a summer study. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved this request. It will be joined by another adoption bill, SB2908 by Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis).

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition was one of several groups which mobilized thousands of responsible Tennesseans against this discriminatory, moralizing legislation which would limit the rights of responsible adults from adopting children. We are pleased that this bill is now apparently dead for the remainder of the current legislative session, since the Senate Judiciary Committee completed its business yesterday and is now closed subject to the call of the chair.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition will continue to monitor any attempt to revive this or any other legislation which will discriminate against any segment of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender community.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax