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Author: fiddlercaddel

People with Disabilities Speak Out Against Lack of Community-Based Services

In advance of four days of hearings and street-based direct action involving more than four hundred people with disabilities, the organization American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT) of Tennessee discussed the plight of people with disabilities confined in nursing homes, developmental disability facilities or residential hospital facilities. Some have managed to leave the institutional environment and are now living in their own homes in the community.

Several Nashville residents who are currently trapped in institutional settings and waiting to rejoin the community will be among those sharing testimonies about why they want to live in the community and the many barriers they are encountering in the struggle to make that dream a reality.

Randy Alexander, an organizer with ADAPT said that , “Adapt is now in town and getting ready for bringing over four hundred folks in Nashville to talk about how immoral it is that the State of Tennessee forces people into institutions because they need daily support rather than providing opportunities for people to get that support in their home communities.

On Sunday, Mach the 19th we will have over 50 people testifying about that institutional bias and what it is like for people to live in those institutions, some of them right here in Tennessee. We are going to talk about how valued their lives are now that they are out of those institutions.”

Bob Kafka, of national ADAPT said people are coming to Tennessee because there is a very active local group here fighting for Tenncare and also because, “Tennessee is a symbol of an immoral national policy that treats institutional services with a sense of entitlement and ignores or rejects many community based services which would better serve the needs of the disabled.

Tennessee has been ranked as one of the ten worst states in terms of meeting the needs of people with attendant needs.

It is just a crime that people have to leave Tennessee just to avoid being placed in an institution when they could live at home.

For any state that has got to be not exactly a symbol of pride. Over four hundred people from all over the country will be coming to Nashville, where incidentally, the leader of the Senate is based.”

Alexander was critical of Governor Bredesen’s leadership on this issue, noting that Tennessee has legislation which could take money away from institutions and put the money into community based care, “We could get him to lead the national Governor’s association away from institutional bias and toward more community based services.

We want to get Frist, a national leader and perhaps the next President of the United States to take more of a leadership role on this issue, to change the federal system, which he is ignoring. I find it amazing that he can talk about family issues and health issues but it is like he is saying to us that he doesn’t really care about us or about these issues.

They want to talk about moral issues but look at what they are doing. We have one of the worst states in the country. We think access to health care is a civil rights issue.”

Kafka added that, “We are here to testify about how hard it is to keep going when we are forced to live in institutions where we are told when to go to bed and when to get up. We are treated like prisoners, butit doesn’t have to be this way.

We can live independently using community based services. Really we have a situation where the only difference between a nursing home and a prison is the uniform. It is a shame that we are jettisoning our old folks into nursing homes which are basically warehouses.

We wonder how long Governor Bredesen would last in one of these nursing homes. If he truly believes that is where people should live when they get older then we challenge him to go live in one of these homes for six months and then see if he still supports the status quo.”

ADAPT is planning to hold public testimony in Nashville on Sunday March 19th at the Nashville Hilton Hotel in the Volunteer Ballroom downtown.

Up to one hundred people with disabilities from across the US who have been or are currently in a nursing home, developmental disability facility, residential hospital or mental health facility will be participating in a series of day long panels.

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Independent Media: Creating the Solution?

When I think about Independent Media, the question of relevancy often arises. Community Media Activists obviously care about what they are doing, but does anyone else care?

Does Independent Media make a difference? I went to the panel discussion “Independent Media – Creating the Solution” at the National Conference to Reform the Media this weekend wondering about what they have to say, wanting to know How Does Independent Media Create the Solution? I had just finished a long, hot, six-hour drive to St. Louis hoping to find some answers.
I arrived a few minutes late and had to choose from one of four panels happening at the time catering to about 2000 people packed into the basement of the hotel.

The panel I chose was standing room only, so I stood in the back listening to Laura Flanders, host at Pacifica, who got my attention by giving kudos to IMC’s, Free Speech TV, Paper Tiger TV and others, thanking them for their work.

As an IMC journalist I appreciated that, but sitting in a barren, grand ballroom with 500 people looking at a little dot speaking miles away, it was hard to feel close to independent media.

Democracy Now! was the currency in trade at the National Conference to Reform the Media. Everyone was wearing Democracy Now! t-shirts and talking about how independent media needs to continue its work to ‘amplify’ the message. This is exciting. I know that Amy Goodman produces good journalism, but somehow I feel like I am at a big leftist cult teach in.

I felt like I was in some bizarro upside down universe which was the antithesis of the media universe I normally inhabit in the South. While it feels good to look around and see these people who I think might feel the same way as me on some issues, I wonder how much reach these people have in reality.

Laura Flanders was promoting the IWT – a global news network which I heard about previously. Flanders asked if the media we create allows us to break into the mainstream then are we going to be able to create legitimate, relevant media?

As an IMC journalist I am not particularly interested in breaking into the mainstream, but I was listening even though that was not the question at the top of my mind. Flanders said the mainstream media is the “independent of reality media.”

The second panelist, Salim Muwakkil, having worked in both mainstream and alternative media, urged the audience of 500 or so to creatively disseminate progressive ideas. He encouraged outreach to mainstream journalists.

As a member of the Progressive Media Project, he was surprised at the success of this project in disseminating progressive op-eds to mainstream papers. Muwakkil said a key reason for the lack of success of independent media was due to a lack of support from progressive foundations and think tanks.

Muwakkil says that conservatives maintain full spectrum dominance which has created a sense of urgency for results among progressive journalists, including Democracy Now! and Air America.

Muwakkil was concerned about the apparent lack of concern regarding racial justice issues and thinks that both the mainstream and independent media have dropped this agenda, overtly by mainstream media and perhaps overlooked by the media reform movement, caught up in its critique of conservative full spectrum dominance.

Robert Greenwalkd, creator of “Outfoxed” and “Unprecedented” called this conference ‘radical’ and felt attendees had an amazing opportunity to create solutions, which he attributes to technology.

His company Brave New Films is dedicated to alternative distribution, utilizing all the new technologies available for distribution.

Greenwald felt that producers are too focused on being right and not enough on content. “We need to find better ways to tell the story. We need to be thinking about new distribution methods,” Greenwald urged.

Not feeling particularly inspired by this panel I was thinking about leaving. I am never going to have the resources to produce anything that is nationally released; as an IMC journalist I am used to working with dumpster-dived equipment pulled from the debris of industrial production.

I don’t think I will ever host a nationally syndicated radio program. At best I will probably just barely produce content for Indymedia. These people consider themselves the alternative media, but within progressive circles, these people are mainstream to me.

Tennessee Indymedia has no money. Global Indymedia has very little money and these panelists all seem like they belong at a good coffee shop in Manhattan, not out in a cornfield in Missouri or even in a mid-sized southern city like the kind that dominates Tennessee.

This journalism is relevant; I understand it is relevant; I just don’t know if it is going to go over in the South, though. It is mostly dominated by people from the Northeast and West Coast. As for Indymedia, I don’t even see Indymedia as “going over” because I don’t view Indymedia as something that has to dominate markets and move into the mainstream.

The only time I hope Indymedia ever moves into the mainstream is when everyone incorporates the values of producing autonomous, independent community-based media, rather than being “consumers” of media. I am not trying to be antagonistic toward these people, I just feel out of place here.

Linda Jue of the Independent Press Association said that this was the decade for Independent Media. She said that the IPA is dedicated to building a progressive, independent print network. Sometimes I couldn’t hear her because sound began bleeding in from the room next door and I wondered who decided to put the conference in a hotel.

The last time this conference happened at a university where people could move around and go to different spaces and it just felt more accessible last time than it did this time in a stuffy conference hotel, even if it was a union hotel.

Jue felt that we did not have a way to amplify our message. Jue said that “Most people don’t share our values. Most people don’t know what we know.” I was wondering how 500 people sitting in a room are really going to learn anything.

I wonder how many conversations could be happening instead of sitting here listening to representatives of “Independent Media” talk at us.

I know these people feel like they are Independent Journalists who are fighting against the mainstream, but what does that make IMC journalists? In their value system my work feels non-existent, or at least not on their map.

I don’t feel at home with the bloggers who had their conference in Nashville the week before last, but I don’t feel anything in a 500 person conference room hearing people repeat the word “echo chamber” over and over again, referring to their belief that we need to use all of our different networks to amplify key resources such as Democracy Now! or Air America.

I wonder where we can really have conversations about these issues and where the work at this conference is really going to lead. I don’t think it is going to lead to money for the Tennessee IMC, or even a space to have an IMC.

I think this is not a conference, but rather a glorified trade show, like any other trade show, and these people are true believers.
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Elections & Legislation

CONGRESSIONAL FORUM ON VOTE FRAUD: Dec. 13, 2004, Columbus, Ohio. Thousands of cases of vote fraud and vote suppression were documented and exposed in Ohio.

Dec. 13 was the 2nd convening of a Congressional Forum to expose the second theft of the presidency by G.W. Bush, as well as an attempt to restore our voting rights.

Contrast the multiple schemes of vote theft and suppression discovered in Ohio with the election process in other western nations. Australia, for example, where voters fill out a paper ballot, is given a receipt, and the ballots are publicly counted.

And voting is mandatory. It costs a little more but they have at least the semblance of a democracy.

Columbus’s testimony and statements from Cong. John Conyers, whistleblower Clint Curtis, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Susan Truen (K.I.S.S., Ohio), Joan Quinn and Rev. Moss, et al.
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Global Day of Action in Tennesse

The weather report the previous day had Rick, intrepid organizer, frantic… The day dawned clear and at 11:00 a.m. a good-sized crowd began gathering… One hundred and thirty strong, the march began…

The weather report the previous day had Rick, intrepid organizer, frantic. While rain would not hamper power output, it would have proved troublesome to the speakers, musicians and sound equipment.

Emails and phone calls flew on Friday. Who had a free-standing tent? No one. Who had tarps? Bingo.
Organizers spent a restless night. Were all the bases covered? All the contingencies met?

The day dawned clear and at 11:00 a.m. a good-sized crowd began gathering at Miller Park in the center of downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. Representatives from a city some sixty miles north arrived, signs bobbing, spirits high. There were thirty of them ages one to eighty.

The Green Party, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union, Food Not Bombs, Katuah Earth First!, Amnesty International, TCASK, FLOC, Chattanoogans for Kucinich and Interfaith Colleagues met and remet and laughed and readied themselves for the march ahead.

One hundred and thirty strong, the march began. We wound our way through downtown streets, the day as fair and fine as only a spring day can be. Voices chanting to a drummer “no more war” echoed off buildings and ran down the street ahead of us.

People came out of the stores and restaurants to see what all the ruckus was about. Some fingered the peace sign, some muttered their disagreement and shook their heads.

The Tennessee River sparkled the day’s promise. Crossing it was the last leg to the rally in Coolidge Park. We had been marching now for an hour. Word ran along that free water and food (the latter provided by Food Not Bombs) waited us.

At 12:30 our master of ceremonies — fondly known as Hippie Rick — took the stage with a rousing welcome and thus began a string of powerful speakers, lively music and a vision of what the future could look life.

Many came away that day with concrete ideas to alter the often harsh and racist energy of this region. The possibilities are endless and we’ve got work to do.
United for Democracy and Justice
Chattanooga, Tennessee

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“Purity Revolution”

On Saturday, May 28th about 150 people gathered in front of the “Musica” statue on the roundabout at the bottom of Music Row to protest the “sexual permissiveness” of American Culture and the subsequent “Holocaust of the Unborn.”

Wearing blindfolds over their eyes, and red duct tape on their mouths, the protesters sat down with their backs turned to the “Musica” statue, by artist Alan Lequire.

Musica is a thirty foot plus bronze statue with several nudes in various states of dance which was placed at the center of the Music Row roundabout last year and has been the subject of controversy.

The group, which calls themselves the “Pure Life Revolution” insisted they were not protesters or opposed to art, but rather were rather praying for purity in Nashville and speaking out for the unborn.

Interview with Matthew Stark of Pure Life Revolution

What are you doing here today?

This is Pure Life Revolution. It is a prayer and repentance movement on behalf of purity, justice, righteousness. We are a moral outcry for society. We are a coalition of numerous different churches and six nations out here praying today. It is not just one group or one church praying.

We are not protesting and want to make that clear. This is a prayer and repentance movement first on behalf of ourselves within the church and the city.

We are not out here against art or against the artist, we just thought this was a great place to cry out to God and pray for purity in our city.

We are right here in the Media Center on Music Row on the main circle. Most of the Christian publications come from Nashville as well as most of the recordings and Christian worship music comes from Nashville so we thought this was a pivotal place to cry out for that (purity in our city).

What specifically are you doing here?

First of all they have blindfolds over their eyes. That is symbolic to signify “I’ll set no vile thing before my eyes.” (We are) shutting out the media madness, the social injustice, just everything that has been going on.

(They are) consecrating themselves to god. Second Chronicles tells us if we humble ourselves and pray and seek god’s face then he will hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land.

The eyes are the gateway to the soul and into the spirit, everything comes in through the eyes and they are just setting their eyes unto the Lord for a time. They have tape over their mouths that says “Life” and that is symbolic for speaking up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. It is identifying with the silent screams of the unborn.

There have been 52 million babies aborted in the last 30 years. That is half of the generation of 30 and under has been systematically murdered because of that. So it is a stand for the culture of life and against the culture of death.

I heard you were also making a stand against the adult entertainment industry . . .

Nashville has more strip clubs and porno shops, adult businesses than any other city in America for the size of our population. We also have more churches than any other city for the size of our population.

We think those two are opposite of each other. Someone needs to stand up and cry out against these things. It is one of the things that is continually destroying the family unit. We are stepping up and saying enough is enough.

Why did you choose the Musica statue? Are you opposed to this statue?

This is the second place we have done pure life revolution. We are not opposed to art. We feel that this is a visual manifestation of the spiritual climate of nashville. Right here in the main part of the city almost the heart of the city is where it lies so that is why we are coming here and praying for purity.

Who are these people?

It is a coalition of several different churches around Nashville and the United States as well as six different nations. It is a group of people joining together under one voice one banner saying enough is enough. We have got to stand up for what is right we have to make a difference.

Do you think anyone might look at you and think you are opposed to art?

They could very well think that but that is not our purpose for being out here. I don’t think that we should be forced to look at things if we don’t choose to. That is not the main reason we are out here to debate art or to go down that road. We are here to cry out and pray for repentance.

Your participants have the word “Life” duct-taped on their mouths. Can you tell me more about that?

Well we are teaming up with Lou Engel and the Cause USA. They are the ones that originated that up at the Supreme Court in Washington DC before the elections. They have been praying that god would overturn abortion in this nation.

They have been standing up and saying we can’t allow this, the shedding of innocent blood. It is really speaking up for those who don’t have a voice yet.

That is the main goal of it. You can say a lot more with your mouth closed sometimes, than standing up and protesting. We are not protesting, we are praying. We are appealing to a higher court on behalf of this nation.

What is Pure Life Revolution?

Pure Life Revolution was started here in Nashville back in December so this is the first year of its existence. We have had one other event at the Supreme Court here in Nashville. We called it the twenty one day turn off.

We stood for twenty one days calling out for purity on behalf of our city. We know this city has global impact and global influence. It touches the world. Whatever comes out of Nashville touches the world. If that is purity then that is a far greater message than what we have been preaching.

Do you think Roe Vs. Wade will be overturned in the near future?

I think it has a possibility. It is coming up before the supreme court. It is coming back up on the docket and that is why we are standing and crying out for that.

Do you think that some people might just see this statue as art?

We are not out here to debate art. Some things are better seen in a museum. That is fine. We just don’t think that certain things should be displayed. I shouldn’t have to explain to my children what this is. I am forced to basically. We are not out here protesting art, we are here praying and appealing to God for our city.

What kind of response have you gotten?

A lot of people are for what we are doing. The basic general overview has been favorable. We haven’t had any real problems. There have been a few hecklers that have driven by but that is expected.

Does your group belong to a specific denomination?

There are several different denominations. It is all about Jesus. It is about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just a religious identity.

Do you have any future activities planned?

We have tonight on the Shelby Street Bridge a gathering from 5-7. We will be launching pure life revolution across the united states. We have got Lou Engel in from Washington DC. Radiant Revolution will be there.

Where can people find out more about your organization?

They can check us out at pureliferevolution.net

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Body Count Treaty

We are all aware that the US government enters into treaties with other nations on a regular basis.

This has been a normal function of government since our founding. Article 6 paragraph 2 of the constitution reads, “all Treaties …shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Through the years, that has been interpreted to mean that treaties are on an equal footing to congressional laws.

In other words, the US government can not enter into a treaty that would violate your right of free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment. The constitution is superior to laws or treaties.
The US government also violates treaties and has since the first treaties we made with the Americans Indians. According to anti-nuke and human rights activists, the US is currently in violation of numerous treaties to which it is a signatory. If you are the biggest kid on the block, who is going to make you follow the rules?

Perhaps the next few paragraphs you will read will be viewed as a useless suggestion. You are entitled to that opinion.

Whatever your thoughts, you have to tip your hat to the folks at www.iraqbodycount.net They run a web site recognized as one of the best sources to find out how many Iraqi civilians have been killed in the conflict. I won’t bore you with all of the statistics, but I will mention a noteworthy few:

*Between 24,500-27,700 Iraqi civilians have died.

*In the 10 month period ending in June 2005, about 800 civilians died each week on average 20% of the casualties were women and children

*The US military killed 37% of the civilians; the insurgents killed 9%

*Twice as many civilians died in year 2 of the occupation as compared with year 1

*At least 42,500 civilians have been injured

Of course nearly 1900 US service personnel have died. According to the web site “In the current occupation phase this database includes all deaths which the Occupying Authority has a binding responsibility to prevent under the Geneva Conventions and Hague Regulations.

This includes civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation.”

A goal of IBC is simple; guilt-trip the “civilized” world into a treaty that would force the signatories to keep an accurate count of civilian deaths. These deaths would be reported to a neutral agency such as the UN or the International Committee of the Red Cross

Fredrick Douglass noted that power concedes nothing without a demand. This is one we should demand, but it starts with you! Yes, it is an uphill fight. The power-elite will fight such an international treaty tooth-n-nail because it will limit their ability to gloss over “collateral damage.” We must do everything in our power to stop the war and lessen the likelihood of future wars. If a treaty will lessen the possibility for America or some other imperial power from entering into a war of choice, it is worth the effort.

The Bush Administration was all too happy to promote “morals” and “family values” in the last election. I say let’s hold them to their word.

I can not imagine a more moral treaty to enter into than one intended on keeping the world informed of civilian casualties can you? Can any sane person say that killing innocent civilians is moral? It seems the least we could do is report the “collateral damage” to a third party.
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Election Fraud 2016

Another fine win by the Republicans.
It could be that the huge increase in voters in this election was because of the American people like being lied to and deceived.

It could be that the young vote came out to support an Administration that is sending their jobs off-shore, and sending the military to far flung areas of the world where they are murdered almost daily by extremists.

Or it could be that the huge increase in voters was countered by an administration
who came to power by stealing the Florida election in 2000, and now has the ability
to skew electronic voting machines by hacking into the software that was left precariously
vulnerable by the manufacturers of the machines.

Remember the Diebold CEO who stated that he would do “everything in his power” to give Ohio to Bush?

The first report of one evening news show last night was on a woman in New Orleans that said she touched the Kerry box, but her machine recorded a Bush vote. But that wasn’t enough.

They also did the “Katherine Harris” DIRTY trick of denying democrats a ballot…..140,000 of them in Ohio. By the way, the 57,700 democrats in Florida that were denied a ballot in 2000 are still off the voting rolls and could not vote this year either. The freedom to cheat is George W’s favorite freedom.

Another wonderful display of Democracy.

Another fine win Mr. President.
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Tennessee Immigrants Rally Across the State in National Day of Action

Today, throughout the state of Tennessee, from Knoxville to Memphis, thousands of immigrants and supporters joined millions across the country in a National Day of Action. Immigrant community members and their supporters participated in marches, vigils, and rallies, speaking out in support of humane, realistic, and comprehensive immigration reform.

Today’s events were peaceful reminders that immigrants who live in Tennessee work hard and contribute to its economic and cultural fabric and that punitive measures proposed by some lawmakers would only increase the suffering and exploitation of our neighbors, friends, and community members.
Hundreds of immigrants workers and their supporters gathered at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

On that site two paths of the same struggle converged and spoke together in one voice from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Speakers included Dr. Samuel (Billy) Kyles, Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Dr. Dwight Montgomery, Dr. Sandy Willson, as well as immigrant community leaders.

In Knoxville, immigrant supporters gathered for a vigil and procession in front of the City-County Building. Immigrants and their allies in East Tennessee held a vigil in front of the offices of U.S. Senators Frist and Alexander, and U.S. Representative Duncan.

Today’s event built upon last month’s unprecedented immigrant rights marches in Tennessee that drew over 700 in Knoxville and more than 15,000 in Nashville.

Finally, in Jonesborough, Tennessee immigrants and supporters marched through downtown and congregated at the courthouse.

Participants held up pay stubs and tax receipts, demonstrating that they too pay taxes and contribute to the local economy. They wore white shirts to symbolize their peaceful participation in the civic process.
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