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Happy Earth Day: To celebrate, go local this summer.

Earth Day, April 22, 2010, is the 40th year anniversary of the day set aside for reflection and active engagement for the benefit of our planet.  It’s not just for environmentalists.  Each and every one of us can do a small part to ensure that the world we leave to our children is one where they and their families can thrive and prosper.  One of the core issues for Earth Day advocates is in the area of food and agriculture.

It is important that humans begin supporting organic or small farms, local production and sustainable techniques while harvesting increased yields and protecting the topsoil. The time for action is now, before the world’s rich farmland washes into the sea, and before chemical pesticides and fertilizers cause any more harm to our drinking water and our oceans.

“Going Local” is a great way to promote sustainable agriculture and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the ways people are accomplishing that goal.  CSAs are now available and accessible throughout the country.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system in which consumers pay a farmer in advance for agricultural products. CSAs help local farmers connect directly with the consumer and offer a variety of in-season vegetables and fruits. Some also offer eggs, meat, poultry, baked goods,and honey.

This year I’ve joined my local CSA.  For a reasonable fee (about $12.00 / week), I’ll receive a large box of fresh organic veggies and fruits each week from May through November.  In addition, my CSA allows its members to visit the farm and pick fresh herbs and strawberries.  So, I’ll be getting my fresh fruit and vegetable assortment, plus fresh hand-picked herbs and strawberries, along with my own personal garden bounty where I’ll be growing tomatoes, zucchini, and basil.

Not only is the increased consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits a way to reduce your carbon footprint as a human being by reducing consumption of processed foods, foreign-sourced agriculture, and factory-farm offerings, but the local community structure and organic farming processes reduces the amount of pesticides and/or other chemicals that will end up in our water systems through run-off.

By “going local” this year, I’ll not only save money, I’ll be helping to save the Earth.  CSAs are becoming commonplace in every community.  You can find several at this link: HERE; or for a comprehensive list of sustainable agriculture sources throughout the coutnry, including CSAs, check out Local Harvest.

Please share your tips, links, comments, stories, or suggestions for Earth Day Everyday activities.

Are women real citizens or not? Not if we have no control over our own bodies.

CBS News graphic

I came across a shocking story a few days ago, and I just can’t stop thinking about it. The story is about a young college student who was raped at a party, after apparently being drugged. How many times have we heard this story? Well, it happened to “Hannah” in December of 2006. Here’s Hannah’s story, magnificently told by Amanda Hess at the Washington City Paper.

The story is long, but I hope you can take the time to read the whole thing.

The gist of it is that Hannah was dancing with Bilal, another Howard University student whom she knew slightly. This is her last memory of that night:

“He was getting a little rough, and I remember trying to kind of just get away from him,” she recalled in the deposition. “I remember I tried to stop dancing with him.…[There was] a little too much of sexual suggestion.…just touching me too much.” She started to feel blurry, woozy, dizzy, “and then nothing.”

The young men who threw the party supposedly had a rule that no one was allowed upstairs. They even had a furniture barricade and a bouncer guarding the staircase. But somehow Hannah ended up in the upstairs bathroom anyway. The next morning, Hannah

woke up in her Howard University dorm room with a piece of her life missing. Hannah, a 19-year-old sophomore, had unexplained pain in her rectum and hip. Her panty liner, which she had worn the night before, was missing. Vomit dotted her gloves and coat. Her friend Kerston lay beside her in the skinny dorm room bed. Kerston told Hannah not to shower—they had to go back to the hospital to secure a rape kit.

Hannah had been fortunate in that her girlfriends stuck by her. They demanded to be allowed upstairs to look for her and kept insisting they wouldn’t leave with out her even when the bouncer and the young men who lived in the house tried to make them leave. Hannah was finally allowed to come downstairs, and one of her friends stayed with her all night to make sure she didn’t shower or do anything else to prevent evidence from being collected.

Hannah was so ill that she couldn’t stop vomiting, even the next morning. She was in pain in her rectum and her hip and leg hurt so much she was limping. When her friends got her to the hospital, she was terribly sick and incoherent from whatever drug she had been given.

You’d think a doctor or nurse would realize that this young woman had been hurt and probably given a date rape drug, and would at least treat her injuries. But that isn’t what happened to Hannah, because in Washington D.C., only the police can determine whether someone was raped. The hospital refused to give Hannah a rape kit because the police determined that, since she couldn’t remember the last name of the young man she was dancing with and since she had been drinking and “must have blacked out,” she couldn’t be given official rape victim status.

About a year ago, I wrote a post about the LAPD’s shameful backlog on analyzing rape kits. But until now, I had no idea that hospitals didn’t routinely collect rape kits–evidence that could be used in a prosecution of the crime.

Hannah was drugged and raped, and the next day she was re-traumatized by having to deal with two misogynistic bureaucracies–the DC police and the Howard University Hospital. According to Amanda Hess, a program called SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) was in effect in DC area hospitals at the time of Hannah’s rape. This program was supposed to prevent rape victims from having to sit in emergency rooms for 12 hours waiting to be seen. But it wasn’t easy to find a hospital that would participate in the program.

“One hospital’s response literally was, ‘We don’t want to be the rape hospital,’” [a sane spokewoman said]. Finally, Howard University Hospital agreed to host the program, providing local rape victims a greater chance of seeking justice from their attackers. But once the program was established at Howard, rape victims encountered another problem: All victims would have to receive police authorization before receiving an examination.

That was the Catch-22. The police had to authorize a rape kit, and the police decided Hannah couldn’t have one. Therefore, no police report was taken, no charges were filed, and no one went to the scene of the crime to collect evidence!
Continue reading

A Thursday news break

I’ve always like the idea of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work. But, while I worked nearly my whole life in libraries, I never worked in a place that was really into the idea. So, I don’t really know: Does it work? Do kids like spending the day at work with Mom or Dad? Are there businesses or offices that plan for it?

This link explains why the last place I worked (a public library under the governance of the local school board) was totally against Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day:

Schools urge parents not to take kids to work

Many U.S. school districts are urging parents to keep their kids in class and not take them to work Thursday for an annual event they say disrupts learning at an increasingly critical time of year.

From Arizona to Illinois to Texas, educators are alerting parents that between high-stakes standardized testing in some areas and the H1N1 virus that kept thousands of children home earlier in the school year, the timing of “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” doesn’t make sense.

Administrators have been complaining about the event’s date for well over a decade. Some have said they’ve contacted the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation to ask that it be held on a school holiday or during the summer, but the organization won’t budge.

A spokesman for the foundation, George McKecuen, said it’s important that the event — launched in 1993 for girls and expanded to include boys in 2004 — be held during the school year so children can go back and tell their classmates what they learned. He suggested schools might schedule a holiday or teacher work day on that day or: “Maybe they can do their tests some other day.”

“It’s always there on the calendar, the fourth Thursday in April,” McKecuen said.

What do you parents think? Should the day be moved so it doesn’t collide with school plans? Or should the schools take the date of the event into account when they schedule their standardized tests?

Is this issue something? Or nothing?

Sometimes it seems that Anti-Virus software causes more trouble than anything else:

McAfee antivirus program goes berserk, freezes PCs

Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after an antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus.

McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update it posted at 9 a.m. Eastern time caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.

McAfee said it did not appear that consumer versions of its software caused similar problems. It is investigating how the error happened “and will take measures” to prevent it from recurring, the company said in a statement.

Greek debt crisis gets worse as EU revises figures

Civil servants staged a 24-hour strike Thursday against austerity measures and expected job cuts by Greece’s crisis-plagued government, and the EU’s statistics agency said the country’s budget was even worse than previously thought.

. . .

Eurostat, meanwhile raised Greece’s budget deficit in 2009 to 13.6 percent of gross domestic product from its earlier prediction of 12.9 percent, while the ratio of government debt to GDP stood at 115.1 percent, the second highest in the European Union after Italy.

In comments that are sure to rattle markets, the statistics agency also expressed “a reservation on the quality of the data reported by Greece.” It also said Greek’s 2009 figures could be revised further, to the tune of 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points of GDP for the deficit and 5 to 7 percentage points of GDP for the debt.

I rely on my cell phone and would love to get something fancier with an active Internet connection (I had the Internet turned off on our phones) but, I just can’t seem to justify the $30/month Verizon charges for their data connection. — I just don’t know :: is it worth it?

Verizon adds few contract customers in 1Q

Verizon Communications Inc., the largest wireless carrier in the country, is finding there’s an end to the number of people who’ll sign two-year contracts for cell phone service.

Verizon said Thursday that it signed up a net of just 423,000 customers under contract in the first three months of the year. That was the lowest number in years, and below analyst expectations.

. . .

Wireless service revenues still grew 5.9 percent from a year ago, to $13.8 billion, helped by the fact that more people are signing up for data plans. But AT&T managed to grow revenues by 10 percent, again with help from the iPhone, which comes with hefty service fees.

South Park creators warned over Muhammad depiction

Islamists have warned the creators of TV show South Park they could face violent retribution for depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

A posting on the website of the US-based group, Revolution Muslim, told Matt Stone and Trey Parker they would “probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh”.

The Dutch film-maker was shot and stabbed to death in 2004 by an Islamist angered by his film about Muslim women.

A subsequent episode of the cartoon bleeped out references to Muhammad.

This is the news that caught my eye this morning — what’s the news on your screen today?