Archive for March, 2006

Foreword

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Excerpted from The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

Deliver us from sour-faced saints.
–Teresa of Avila

My name is Frances Catherine, a.k.a. Frankka–Saint Cat onstage. With names like these I guess it goes without saying that I’m Catholic. Or I was Catholic. Raised Catholic, as they say. Lapsed Catholic or recovering Catholic, like it’s some kind of drug you have to quit cold turkey. Twelve steps and maybe you’ll be free of the guilt that clangs like church bells. Newborn original sin washed away by a priest and I’m the only one who’s mucked it up since then: Sinner, impure, forgive me, it’s all my fault.

Was Catholic? Dream on. Fallen or faithful, what are you going to do? You’re given a mythology in this life, the way you’re given a body, a family, a country. You can reject it if you like–starve it, laugh in its face, run away into exile–but it’s still your mythology. There’s always the chance for redemption.

Things can happen so fast. One moment things are one way and the next it’s all completely different–bam–like some kind of mystical car crash and you’re so turned around you can’t even pinpoint the exact moment of impact. Was there a single moment of impact? What about warning signs? Nothing happens without a prophecy.

I’ll tell you a story.

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

If you read the book, please tell me what you think! (post a comment, ok?)

Hip Mama #35 Out Now

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

The new issue of Hip Mama is out and wending its way to your mailbox if you’ve got a subscription!

Featuring June Day on breaking free, mommacherry skating with the derby liberation front, Margaret McConnell on moving her family to India, The Q Fund for AIDS, China Marten’s daughter returns to her radical roots, Katherine Arnoldi has a new & excellent blog to go along with her college guide for students who are parents, “I had a white baby!” & so much more…

When you read it, tell me if you liked it…

Abortion Banned – Will Your State be Next?

Monday, March 6th, 2006

We’ve got no welfare state, no equal rights for teen parents, no support for mothers and children, and yet we may soon be forced to have children against our will…

Pro-choice America is on high-alert amid all kinds of right-wing attacks on the right to choose. In a move aimed at challenging Roe v. Wade, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds (you guessed it, Republican) today signed into law a ban that criminalizes abortion in that state.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear Gonzales v. Carhart, challenging the federal abortion ban that has been struck down by every court that has examined it because, among other things, the ban doesn’t protect women’s health.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi House passed a bill last week that would nearly ban the procedure in that state. The proposal awaits consideration in the state Senate, and Gov. Haley Barbour has said he’ll sign it into law.

“The anti-choice folks across the country are feeling emboldened by the climate,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Friday. “You have an anti-choice president, you have an anti-choice U.S. House and Senate.”

In Missouri, a lawmaker is proposing a bill and a constitutional amendment to ban abortions in that state except to save a woman’s life; it’s not clear whether the proposals will pass.

And last month, in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, the Supreme Court held that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to stop anti-choice extremists from obstructing access to clinics, trespassing on or damaging clinic property, or using violence or threats of violence against clinics, their employees, or their patients, effectively taking away a tool to protect women, doctors, and clinics from anti-choice activities.

Here we go…

NARAL Pro-choice America

Planned Parenthood

Exporting Welfare Reform to Arab Moms and Children

Monday, March 6th, 2006

From the Welfare Warriors
and Laborers Voice

Wisconsin’s mean-spirited privatized welfare plan has been implemented in Nazareth, Israel. Based on the assumption that caring for children and elders is not necessary work, mothers in Nazareth are forced to perform “volunteer” work in exchange for the guaranteed family income that supplements their husband’s low wages. This new policy, called the “Wisconsin Plan,” reproduces the US TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) welfare program’s sexism and racism while economically preying on the poor. Israel embraces the European system that provides unemployed or low-income workers with a guaranteed income supplement. But the Wisconsin Plan puts an end to such support.

Ironically, the “Wisconsin Plan” is the creation of a private Dutch-Israeli company, Agam Mehalev, Ltd,. The company promises to reduce state expenditures by 35% by forcing moms out of the program. Since it began in August, the plan has already terminated 940 families’ income supplements when mothers were unable to abandon their family responsibilities for 30 hours of unpaid workfare each week. Parents must leave their children when the youngest is two.  No child care is provided or available. Children either accompany their moms to the “Wisconsin Center” or stay home alone.

Like TANF, the “Wisconsin Plan” targets minority moms. Nazareth is an Arab town. And Arabs make up the majority of poor people in Israel as a result of discrimination and lack of opportunities. In other parts of Israel the Wisconsin Plan only targets certain neighborhoods. But in Nazareth it affects the entire city. The moms’ average age is 40 and their education level tends to be very low. Their families are large and they often care for elders and children. The plan forces women to travel miles away to clean prisons, dig potatoes, and collect garbage, similar to US workfare. Women are often forced to work far more hours than their small income supports require. In one Kindergarten, the paid cleaning personnel were laid off after the kindergarten requested and received forced “volunteers” to do the cleaning.

Manal Abdeljawwad does unpaid workfare at a primary school, everyday from 8am-2pm. She is not at home when Shaimaí, her youngest daughter, comes home from nursery school. On December 1 Shaimaí was hit by a car on her way home and was hospitalized. Manal continues her full-time workfare. Apart from rage, Manal feels desperation. “With Wisconsin, all my life has changed. I used to keep the house, be responsible for raising the children and helping them with their homework; I’m no longer in charge.”

When confronted with Shaimaís accident, a Wisconsin Plan official from Nazareth commented:  ”Let them roam the streets.  It’s none of our business.”

The Laborers Voice (Sawt el-Amel), a non-profit group who defends the rights of unemployed and low-income citizens of Israel, points out, “The Nazareth volunteer work is neither voluntary, nor is it a service to the community. Nazareth’s forced volunteers work in places that do not qualify as social institutions. They must put in much more work time than their transfer payments require.  And most importantly, Agam Mehalev Ltd. targets specifically women. For Arab society in Nazareth, this has devastating social effects. Women are strongly involved in household keeping, the upbringing of their children, and caring for elderly family members. There is no alternative solution in the form of daycare centres, after-school programs or homes for the elderly available in Nazareth.”

As a result of organized resistance by Wisconsin Plan victims and Laborers Voice, Agam Mehalev, Ltd has temporarily stopped the forced work requirement. Contact Sawt el-Amel at Laborers Voice.