Category: Discrimination / Prejudice

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Missouri Enlists Former Protester to Lead University System

The Associated Press
Michael Middleton speaks at a press conference after the University of Missouri Board of Curators named him interim president of the university system, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 at University Hall in Columbia, Mo. Middleton takes over for Tim Wolfe, who abruptly resigned on Monday amid student-led protests over his administration’s handling of racial complaints. (Daniel Brenner/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDITmore +

Healing a campus riven by student protests over race relations and recent online terror threats isn’t just a mandate for interim University of Missouri system president Mike Middleton. It’s also deeply embedded in his history.

The former law professor, whose appointment was announced Thursday, spent 18 years as deputy chancellor on the same Columbia campus from which he graduated in 1971 and later received a law degree. The 68-year-old stepped down in August but continued to work part-time with now-ousted Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on a plan to increase inclusion and diversity at the school.

As an undergraduate, Middleton was a founder of the Legion of Black Collegians, an activist student group that participated in the protests that led to this week’s back-to-back resignations of former system President Tim Wolfe and Loftin. Protest leaders from the group Concerned Student 1950 — named for the year Missouri admitted its first back student — included some of the unmet demands Middleton helped create as a civil rights and anti-war protester.

Middleton said he keeps a list of those original demands on his desk.

His bona fides contributed to a warm welcome and vigorous applause from university administrators and leaders of two black student groups who attended Middleton’s news conference.


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Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines


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‘A Pipeline Straight to Jail’

Posted on Oct 11, 2015

By Chris Hedges

Boris Franklin in a classroom at Rutgers. When he was in prison, he was a student under the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP), and he is now attending Rutgers under the university’s Mountainview Program. (Michael Nigro)

The defeat of the Harvard University debate team by a team from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in the Catskills elucidates a truth known intimately by those of us who teach in prisons: that the failure of the American educational system to offer opportunities to the poor and the government’s abandonment of families and children living in blighted communities condemn millions of boys and girls, often of color, to a life of suffering, misery and early death. The income inequality, the trillions of dollars we divert to the war industry, the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas and the refusal to invest in our infrastructure wrecks life after innocent life.

I spent four years as a graduate student at Harvard University. Privilege, and especially white privilege, I discovered, is the primary prerequisite for attending an Ivy League university. I have also spent several years teaching in prisons. In class after class in prison, there is a core of students who could excel at Harvard. This is not hyperbolic, as the defeat of the Harvard debate team illustrates. But poverty condemned my students before they ever entered school. And as poverty expands, inflicting on communities and families a host of maladies including crime, addiction, rage, despair and hopelessness, the few remaining institutions that might intervene to lift the poor up are gutted or closed. Even when students in inner-city schools are not the targets of racial insults, racism worms into their lives because the institutions that should help them are nonexistent or deeply dysfunctional.

I stood outside a prison gate in Newark, N.J., at 7 a.m. last April 24. I waited for the release of one of my students, Boris Franklin, who had spent 11 years incarcerated. I had ridden to the gate with his mother, who spent her time reading Bible verses out loud in the car, and his sister. We watched him walk down the road toward us. He was wearing the baggy gray sweatpants, oversize white T-shirt and white Reeboks that prisoners purchase before their release. Franklin had laid out $50 for his new clothes. A prisoner in New Jersey earns $28 a month working in prison.


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Political competition, not racism, changes voter alignments

By Michael Barone | APRIL 20, 2014 AT 3:20 PM

Have the Republicans become the white man’s party? Are the depth and bitterness of Republicans’ opposition to Barack Obama and his administration the product of racism?

Those are questions you hear in the clash of political argument, and you will hear plenty of answers in the affirmative if you click onto MSNBC or with any regularity.

“Race … has now became the primal grievance in our politics.”

You can find a more nuanced and thoughtful analysis in Jonathan Chait’s recent New York magazine article “The Color of His Presidency.”

Chait, a liberal, starts off by noting that the post-racial America that Obama seemed to promise in his 2004 national convention speech and his 2008 campaign has not come into being.

On the contrary. “Race, always the deepest and most volatile fault line in American history,” he writes, “has now became the primal grievance in our politics, the source of a narrative of persecution each side uses to make sense of the world.”

Many liberals see racism in every criticism of the Obama presidency, even though, as Chait points out, Bill Clinton met with similar and in some cases more strident opposition.

Conservatives, he argues, “dwell in a paranoia of their own, in which racism is used as a cudgel to delegitimize their core beliefs.” Understandably so, given his description of liberals’ “paranoia of a white racism.”

Chait defends liberals by arguing that the debates on big government inevitably produced by the Obama agenda and “there is no separating this discussion from one’s sympathies or prejudices toward, and identification with, black America.”

But he also admits that “advocating tax cuts is not in any meaningful sense racist.” And he seems to ignore the argument that policies that directed large sums of money disproportionately at blacks–like the welfare programs from the 1970s to the 1990s, which the Obama administration is trying to partially resurrect–harm more than benefit their intended beneficiaries.

This is, after all, what House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan was getting at when he lamented “a culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working.” The fact that Obama has made similar arguments didn’t prevent Ryan from being excoriated as racist by some liberals.


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Is the Rising Democratic Majority Doomed?


Oooh, I know! I know! It's "no," right?
Oooh, I know! I know! It’s “no,” right? Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The slow, increasingly Democratic cast of the American electorate would seem to be a cardinal fact of American politics. The electorate is firmly polarized, with few voters actually liable to change their minds. The proportion of nonwhite voters has risen by about two percentage points every four years, a rate that seems likely to persist indefinitely as the population grows steadily more diverse. The youngest voting cohort has decidedly more liberal views, and more Democratic voting habits, than its elders, and partisan loyalty tends to stick throughout a voter’s lifetime. And yet the phenomenon continues to be met with an unduly wide, deep array of skepticism.

When Ruy Teixeira and John Judis wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority a dozen years ago, few of us placed much credence in their then-wild-sounding prediction. As recently as two and a half years ago, it was still being ridiculed.

As political events have increasingly borne out the prediction, it has been met with a series of objections, most of which have either been confounded or made no sense to begin with. Consider a few:

Objection: The growth of the Latino vote might stop (Sean Trende).

Result: Nope, the Latino vote has continued to rise.

Objection: Younger millennial voters entering the electorate during the sluggish Obama recovery would turn against him (Dana Milbank, Michael Barone).

Result: No, it turns out “Younger and older millennials also have similar assessments of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.”

Objection: Young voters are “libertarian,” and politically independent, and thus up for grabs (Ron Fournier, Julie Borowski, Nick Gillespie, and pretty much all the libertarians).

Result: This goes in the “never made any sense” category. Like libertarians, millennial voters do tend to have left-wing views on social policy and culture. Very much unlike libertarians, they also tend to have left-wing views on economics. They self-identify as “liberal,” believe the government has a duty to provide health insurance to all Americans, and support “bigger government” in the abstract at a far higher rate than any other age cohort. It’s true that millennial voters self-identify as “independent” more than Democrat, but they vote heavily Democratic. (Political scientists understand that most self-identified “independents” reliably vote for the same party).


The most popular new grounds for skepticism hold that the browning of America will provoke a backlash among whites — as the proportion of Latinos and Asians rises, threatened whites will grow increasingly conservative. Versions of this hypothesis have reverberated not only among conservatives like Trende and Barone, but also among liberals like Jamelle Bouie. And this theory does have at least some suggestive evidence that it may be true.

The greatest trick the Easter Bunny ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.Alex Wong/Getty Images

A recent psychological study found that, when researchers read a news story reporting the rising share of minorities in the United States to a group of white subjects, the subjects grew more Republican. The study has attracted widespread attention, confirming the liberal fear, and the conservative hope, that the growth of Asian and Latino voters will produce an offsetting shift to the right among whites. “The changing American polity may come to look more like Texas than like the multicultural Democratic stronghold of California,” concludes political scientist Larry Bartels. “In an increasingly diverse America, identity politics will continue to cut both ways.”

It is certainly plausible that this study portends a future racially polarized America. But it seems strange to treat mass trends in evidence among successive elections involving over 125 million Americans while hanging confident predictions of the future of American politics on a laboratory microsimulation. People are highly susceptible to priming — which is to say, even slight changes to the context in which they make a decision can produce large differences in their actions. Making white people focus on increasing diversity while sitting in a controlled room may cause them to immediately report more conservative beliefs. That does not necessarily tell you what the open vista of American politics, a vast ecosystem teeming with messages and context of all kinds, will look like.


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Depriving the homeless of their last shelter is Silicon Valley at its worst – especially when rich cities aren’t doing anything to end homelessness

homeless in california
There are nearly 90,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County but only 9,000 to 10,000 beds available in homeless shelters, single-room occupancy hotels, and other facilities. Photograph: David McNew / Getty Images

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.


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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — MIKHLIF AL-SHAMMARI has been jailed repeatedly, declared an infidel, ruined financially and shot four times — by his own son — all for this: He believes his fellow Sunni Muslims should treat Shiites as equals.

In a Middle East torn by deepening sectarian hatred, that is a very unusual conviction. He has made it a kind of crusade for eight years now, visiting and praying with prominent Shiites and defending them in print, at enormous personal cost. The government of this deeply conservative kingdom continues to file new accusations against him, under charges like “annoying other people” and “consorting with dissidents.”

But Mr. Shammari, a gaunt 58-year-old with an aquiline nose and a jaunty smile, is not easily discouraged. “I’m not against my government or my religion, but things must be corrected,” he said in a furtive interview in a hotel lobby (he has been banned from talking with the news media). “We must all encourage human rights and stop the violence between Sunni and Shia.”


‘I’m ready to pay with my life for my beliefs.’ MIKHLIF AL-SHAMMARI Credit Abdurahman al Shammari


Mr. Shammari is not Saudi Arabia’s best-known human rights activist, and others have put in more time and suffered much longer prison terms. But he has a rare distinction: No other member of the kingdom’s Sunni Muslim majority has made it a mission to demand equal rights for the Shiite Muslim minority.

Even the most educated and cosmopolitan Saudis often look down on Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of the Saudi population, as closet Iranians or undesirables. Some of the religious conservatives who wield great influence here go much further, saying Shiites are worse than Jews because, unlike genuine infidels, they have been exposed to the truth of Islam and nevertheless choose to pervert it. Shiites have long complained of discrimination of various kinds, as well as the vitriolic abuse hurled at them by government-employed clerics.

Mr. Shammari believes this is not just ancient religious prejudice, but a deliberate strategy by the Saudi monarchy to keep its subjects divided and therefore less likely to demand a voice in their government.

Whatever the reasons, it is clear that the sectarian divide helps to tamp down dissent in the kingdom. In 2011, for instance, even liberal and democratic-leaning Saudis were frightened off by protests in the kingdom’s eastern province and in neighboring Bahrain because they were carried out mostly by Shiites, the majority population there. Street protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia.

MR. SHAMMARI says his protest derives partly from his origins: He is a leader of the Shammar tribe, which includes both Shiites and Sunnis and straddles the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Shammar suffered discrimination in the early days of the Saudi kingdom, because they were viewed as having divided loyalties.


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I suppose that  since they  can  no longer  claim that  Women  driving is  against  Sharia  Law  they  must  say  something.  The  excuse of damaged  ovaries  is as  good  as  any ,  especially  if  you are  counting  on   compliance  and  subservience…….Hmmmm.


How’s that compliant and subservient thing  working  for  you ????

~Desert Rose~


Al Arabiya News

Last Update: Saturday, 28 September 2013 KSA 07:27 – GMT 04:27
Saturday, 28 September 2013
Saudi Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan said driving “could have a reverse physiological impact” on women. (Al Arabiya)
Al Arabiya

Saudi women seeking to challenge a de facto ban on driving should realize that this could affect their ovaries and pelvises, Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan, also a psychologist, told Saudi news website

Driving “could have a reverse physiological impact. Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees,” Sheikh al-Luhaydan said.

Saudi female activists have launched an online campaign urging women to drive on Oct. 26.

More than 11,000 women have signed the declaration that says: “Since there are no clear justifications for the state to ban adult, capable women from driving. We call for enabling women to have driving tests and for issuing licenses for those who pass.”

Sheikh al-Luhaydan urged these women to consider “the mind before the heart and emotion and look at this issue with a realistic eye.”

“The result of this is bad and they should wait and consider the negativities,” he said.

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Saudi women seek right to drive

A Saudi woman sits in a vehicle as a passenger in Riyadh (22 Sept 2013)
Stuck in the passenger seat: Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

A new campaign asking for the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia has attracted more than 11,000 signatures in support.

The campaign has set 26 October as a day for Saudi women to take to the roads – in defiance of the informal ban on women behind the wheel.

In a sign of how pervasive online social networks have become in Saudi Arabia, the campaign was started on Twitter.

It is the idea of the activist, Eman al-Nafjan, who set things in motion with a simple message saying that Saudi women would express their feelings about driving on 26 October.

“There is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so”

Petition for women’s driving rights

The hope is that women will come out en masse to drive on that day, she told the BBC.

Ms Nafjan says the campaign is meant to be a grassroots movement open to all Saudis – men as well as women – to show their support.

Influential Saudis have given their public backing, while several videos of women driving have been posted on the campaign’s website.

There is even a song linked to the campaign by the Saudi-born singer Shams, entitled It’s Our Right to Drive.

Photos have also been sent in showing supporters’ hands with parts of the online petition written across them.

The first point in the petition reads: “Since there is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so, we urge the state to provide appropriate means for women seeking the issuance of permits and licenses to apply and obtain them”.

It goes on to say that the Saudi government must provide a valid and legal justification if it continues to deny women the right to drive.

Cars in Riyadh (22 Sept 2013) Many Saudi women are dependent on paid male drivers to get around

‘Window dressing’

Women activists in Saudi Arabia say the issue of being allowed to drive is key to gaining other rights.

There have been moves in this direction recently with women allowed onto the influential Shura council for the first time, as well as having the right to vote in the next municipal elections.



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Saudi Sheikh blasted on Twitter for saying women drivers ‘risk damaging ovaries’

Published time: September 29, 2013 17:43

>Reuters / Fahad Shadeed

Reuters / Fahad Shadeed

Comments by a Saudi psychologist that driving affects women’s ovaries and can lead to their children having health problems have outraged many women in the conservative Muslim country, who are protesting a de facto ban on women driving.

In an interview Friday with the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Luhaydan said campaigners should put “the mind before the heart and emotion, and look at this issue with a realistic eye.”

“Physiological science and functional medicine [found that driving] automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis,” the judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association said.

“This is why we find [that] for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees.”

Many Saudis have expressed their anger in Twitter, mocking the Sheikh’s “great scientific discoveries.”

A special hashtag “Women_driving_affects_ovaries_and_pelvises” appeared on the social network, and is widely used.

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Eretz Zen Eretz Zen

Published on Sep 29, 2013

This al-Aan TV exclusive footage shows militants from al-Qaeda’s the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) vandalizing the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Lady of the Annunciation in the northern Syrian city of al-Raqqa. The militants attempt to dismount the church’s bell, remove the church’s cross, and raise the al-Qaeda flag on top. They also destroyed and burnt the church’s contents.

The video also reveals the way these terrorists think, as a Saudi militant is filmed talking to Syrian kids and brainwashing them that the Christians worship the cross, which he held in his hand after managing to step on it.

Source: al-Aan TV

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Uploaded on Jan 13, 2012

On March 28, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press.

One week after leading his historic five-day march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, King said that the demonstration was necessary not just to help push the Voting Rights Bill through, but to draw attention to the humiliating conditions in Alabama such as police brutality and racially-motivated murder.

For more video from NBC News visit


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By Nicola Abé in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan

Photo Gallery: Rash of Suicides Plagues Afghanistan

Women in Mazar-e-Sharif have straddled the worlds between Western freedoms and conservative traditions for a decade. As the Taliban gains strength and the West pulls out, Afghanistan’s most liberal city is being plagued by a rash of suicides.

Fareba Gul decided to die in a burqa. She put on the traditional gown, which she usually didn’t wear, and drove to the Blue Mosque. There, at the holiest place in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, she swallowed malathion, an insecticide. She then ran over to the square, where hundreds of white doves were waiting to be fed by visitors. When she was surrounded by the birds, the cramps set in.

“Fareba was lying on the ground when I arrived, and people were standing all around her,” says her uncle Faiz Mohammed, whom she had called before taking the poison. “She was screaming for help.” He lifted up his niece, carried her to a taxi and took her to a hospital. Foam was pouring from her mouth, and she was slipping in and out of consciousness. One hour later, 21-year-old Fareba Gul was dead. She died on the same day, and in the same hospital, as her 16-year-old sister Nabila.

Behind the tragedy lay a harmless love affair, relatives say. The sisters had been fighting, and Nabila had taken things too far: She had fallen in love. Fareba, the relatives say, got angry, calling Nabila’s behavior “indecent” and demanding that she end the affair. Both got very upset and were screaming at each other. Their mother entered the room and slapped Nabila. Then, Nabila reportedly took the poison from her father’s cabinet and swallowed it in her room. A few hours later, Fareba took the same pills. “She felt guilty,” says her uncle.

The sisters’ double suicide hangs over the city like a dark shadow. Mazar-e-Sharif is widely viewed as one of the most peaceful and liberal cities in Afghanistan. But could this be an omen of what lies ahead for the country once Western troops start withdrawing in the near future?

Living in Mazar-e-Sharif means living in relative security. But now more and more women are starting to hurt themselves here, as well. It leaves one baffled, but it is still no coincidence.

More than anywhere else in Afghanistan, women in Mazar-e-Sharif are torn between tradition and their newly won freedom, between family expectations and their own sense of self. They are trapped in a society that is at once deeply conservative but also offers just enough freedom for women to discover a modern, Westernized lifestyle. Girls can go to school, women can work, and both can surf the Web and watch cable TV. But forced marriages, domestic violence and many limitations continue to exist for many of them — and are all-the-more difficult to bear. Under these circumstances, choosing how and when to die can become a form of self-determination.

Zarghana, 28, has survived two suicide attempts. She enjoyed success working...

Farshad Usyan/ DER SPIEGEL

Zarghana, 28, has survived two suicide attempts. She enjoyed success working for a human rights organization as a teacher, but then her husband abandoned her with their seven children and she lost her job. Her father refuses to let her divorce her husband, a stepbrother whom she was forced to marry at a young age.

When asked about the women killing themselves, the city’s police chief claims that such things “only happen in Heart province or in remote mountain villages.” Women’s rights organizations point to poverty and a lack of education as the main factors behind the suicides.

But the family home of the dead sisters is located in one of the best areas of town. It is spacious and in good condition, with a garden full of blooming roses. Marzia Gul, their mother, says “Please, come in,” and sits down on the sofa in the living room, sinking into the red upholstery. “Fareba, my oldest daughter, studied law,” she says. “She wanted to be a lawyer like her father” and was just a year away from her final exams. Nabila, the younger one, also did well in school, she continues. “She wanted to be a journalist.”

Marzia gets up, walks over to the cupboard and takes a photo from a glass tray. The picture shows a smiling little girl with pigtails and freckles. “She was so kind and helpful,” she says. Then her voice breaks.

A Place of Despair

The sisters’ suicide is particularly unsettling because the girls led privileged lives in this long-suffering country. They watched Bollywood films, had mobile phones and Internet access. Along with jeans and makeup, they wore headscarves but no burqas. They didn’t have to hide from the world.

And they lived in a city that does not force the well-off to barricade themselves behind concrete walls. A powerful governor controls life in this part of Afghanistan — so effectively, in fact, that residents hardly have to fear death from a bomb attack. Foreign aid workers are permitted to move around freely. Visitors barely see any weapons in the streets. Instead, they can watch women in the bazaars trying on shoes, their eyelids shaded with the traditional cosmetic kajal and their hair lightly covered by a headscarf.

Indeed, in theory, Mazar-e-Sharif is a place of hope. But at least in the regional hospital’s department of internal medicine, the city is a place of despair.

“Fridays are the worst,” says Dr. Khaled Basharmal as he takes out a notebook. “Eight attempted suicides on a single day.” He reads off the names of the most recent patients — Raihana, Roya, Shukuria, Terena, Rahima. There are also the names of two young men.

“It’s a disaster. Since late March, we’ve had more than 200 cases,” Basharmal says. The sisters, Fareba and Nabila Gul, were among his patients as well.

Basharmal is sweating underneath his white coat, and he is exhausted. It’s noon now, and he was forced to work another shift that lasted through the night.

No official statistics are kept, and no one can confirm his figures. Nevertheless, Afghanistan is believed to be one of the few countries in the world that has more women taking their lives than men. A recent study concluded that five out of every 100,000 women are committing suicide each year. But the real number is likely to be much higher, especially in rural areas far away from the big cities. More than 1.8 million women in Afghanistan, which has an estimated population of 31 million, are said to be suffering from depression.


More than anywhere else in Afghanistan, women in Mazar-e-Sharif are torn...

Getty Images

More than anywhere else in Afghanistan, women in Mazar-e-Sharif are torn between tradition and their newly won freedom, between family expectations and their own sense of self. They are trapped in a society that is at once deeply conservative but also offers just enough freedom for women to discover a modern, Westernized lifestyle. Girls can go to school, women can work, and both can surf the Web and watch cable TV.


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The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 06/21/2013 10:32 am EDT  |  Updated: 06/21/2013 7:33 pm EDT

Goodwill is paying some of its disabled workers just 22 cents an hour, while the charity’s executives make six figure salaries. A labor law loophole enables the practice.

Some Pennsylvania Goodwill workers who are disabled made as little as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour in 2011, according to Labor Department documents reviewed by NBC News. That’s because a 1938 law, called the Special Wage Certificate Program, aimed at encouraging employers to hire disabled workers, allows charities and companies to get special certificates from the Department of Labor that permits them to pay disabled workers based on their abilities, with no minimum.

Though other employers take advantage of the same loophole, recent media investigations have brought attention to Goodwill’s use of the certificate.

As some workers were making as little as 22 cents per hour in 2011, Goodwill International CEO Jim Gibbons made $729,000 in salary and deferred compensation. The CEOs of Goodwill franchises across the country collectively earned about $30 million, according to NBC.

Brad Turner-Little, Goodwill’s director of mission strategy, told The Huffington Post that compensation of Goodwill executives and the wages earned by workers with disabilities aren’t “connected.” He explained that local Goodwill organizations make independent determinations about what to pay their executives based on what they need to recruit “good talent.”

As for the workers with disabilities, their pay is determined through a “rigorous” review process in line with Department of Labor regulations that assess their productivity and other factors, Turner-Little said. Goodwill performs the reviews at least every six months to make sure employees are being paid properly.

“It’s not a connected issue, it’s a different kind of job,” Turner-Little said.

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Goodwill Exploits Workers With Disabilities, Report Claims

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/20/2013 3:52 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/20/2013 3:53 pm EDT

Is the wage Goodwill pays its employees with disabilities exploitative or empowering?

Investigative journalist John Hrabe recently reported for that Goodwill pays some of its employees less than minimum wage, when some of its executive team makes more than $1 million — a practice he calls out as unfair.

Goodwill pays some of its employees with disabilities under the provision called The Special Wage Certificate program. The program allows an employer to pay a person with disabilities below minimum wage when performance is affected. About 7,300 of its 30,000 employees with disabilities receive these adjusted wages, Brad Turner-Little, Director of Mission Strategy at Goodwill Industries International, told HuffPost Live.

Jim Gibbons, Goodwill CEO, addressed Hrabe’s concerns in a recent HuffPost blog, arguing that the provision creates job opportunities for people with disabilities that wouldn’t otherwise exist:

“While some have called for this program to be eliminated, let’s be clear about exactly what that would mean. It would mean that many hard-working people would be out of their jobs. It would mean that even more than 80 percent of people with disabilities would be out of work.”

One of the issues Hrabe takes issue with the most is the disparity in pay. 17 Goodwill entities reported executive compensation in excess of $1 million per year. In 2011, the lowest paid Goodwill worker earned $1.40 per hour, he reported.

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Cherokee High School dominates Goodwill competition

As always, the students of the Lenape Regional High School District came out in droves  recently to help the less fortunate. The high school students at the four schools threw their efforts into a massive Goodwill collection campaign and donated thousands of pounds of used clothing to the non-profit organization.

Lenape Regional High School District Foundation of Leadership students and faculty advisers from each high school organized the community service project benefitting Goodwill. Proceeds from the sale of everything collected fund Goodwill’s job training programs and career services that help local residents with disabilities and disadvantages get to work, Goodwill representatives reported.

Cherokee High School dominated the competition, coming in first place with just more than 11,400 pounds of donated clothing. It collected 6,000 pounds more clothing than the closest high school, Seneca, which donated about 5,000 pounds.

Shawnee High School came in third place with 4,449 pounds of clothes and Lenape High School came in fourth with 3,991 pounds.

In total, the high schools of the LRHSD brought in just a bit more than 25,000 pounds of donated clothing.



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