Category Archives: human rights

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | November 1 SNAP Cut Will Hit Veterans in Every State

Count low-income veterans — thousands in every state, according to a new Center analysis — among the nearly 48 million people whose nutrition benefits will be cut later this week. As we’ve previously explained, the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends on November 1, which will result in a benefit cut for each of the program’s recipients.

The 2009 Recovery Act temporarily boosted SNAP benefits as a form of effective economic stimulus and to reduce the hardship that low-income families faced during the recession. This benefit increase is set to expire on November 1. The coming benefit cut will reduce SNAP benefits, which are already modest, for all households by 7 percent on average, or about $10 per person per month. Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2014 will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.

For low-income veterans, who may be unemployed, working in low-wage jobs, or disabled, SNAP provides an essential support that enables them to purchase nutritious food for their families.

Our new analysis, which uses data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, finds that thousands of veterans lived in SNAP households in every state between 2009 and 2011. For instance, more than 100,000 veterans lived in SNAP households in two states: Florida (109,500) and Texas (105,700).

This benefit cut hits as the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are beginning their conference committee negotiations on the Farm Bill, which includes a reauthorization of — and proposed cuts to — SNAP. The House version of the bill would cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion over the next 10 years, denying benefits to about 3.8 million people in 2014 and an average of 3 million people each year over the coming decade.

via Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | November 1 SNAP Cut Will Hit Veterans in Every State.

WHO reports millions of TB/MDR-TB patients missed by health care system | Vaccine News Daily

WHO reports millions of TB/MDR-TB patients missed by health care system | Vaccine News Daily. The report estimates that roughly three million people are currently infected with TB without access to quality medical care; it is believed 75 percent of this population is concentrated in 12 countries. The WHO also reports that treatment for those with MDR-TB infections must be improved, as the disease continues to gain strength.

“The WHO Global TB report highlights the very big gains the global community has made in the fight against tuberculosis,” Osamu Kunii, head of the Strategy, Investment and Impact Division of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said. “We are now at a crucial moment where we cannot afford to let these gains go into reverse. We need the commitment of the international community to address the significant funding gap to fight this disease.”

BND to spend €100 mln on internet spying – The Local

Spy vs Spy being revived as comic, comic opera and TV show? Angela will take Natasha’s part and toss up who will be the new Boris – but Putin wants the job?

The money is to be spent on new technology and on hiring as many as 100 new employees, the service wrote. The €100 million is to be spent over a five year period, but the federal government has already released €5 million for the first phase.

The BND is moving forward with its plans despite criticism over the US spying programme. The agency, like the US National Security Agency, wants to be sure that it can survey cross-border data traffic.

The story said that German law allows for spy agencies to monitor as much as 20 percent of communication between Germany and other countries, but due to technical limitations only five percent of such traffic is being monitored.

These include emails, telephone calls, Facebook postings and Skype conversations.

In contrast to the US, which can make a record of suspicious communications, German spies have tighter restrictions. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is calling for a loosening of those regulations.

Friedrich also defended the US from German criticism of the recently revealed spying program, saying “That’s not how you treat friends who are our most important partner in the fight against terrorism. He made his comments to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Friedrich said Germany is dependent on information delivered from the US and Der Spiegel noted that there has been a considerable exchange of information between Germany and the US and that many attacks in Germany have been prevented, in part, by US information.

via BND to spend €100 mln on internet spying – The Local.

Why I hate Malala – Not

Do you still not see why instead of going through the hassle of an ideological metamorphosis and purging myself of the ideals I’ve spent all my life with, it’s a million times more convenient to just buy the conspiracy theories? I hate Malala because it’s by far the most convenient choice.

I hate Malala because then I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror. I hate Malala because then I can keep my head buried in the sand. I hate Malala because then marrying my daughter off would be my sole responsibility towards her. I hate Malala because then I don’t have to regret all those times my mother fed me with her own hands while my sister was busy washing the dishes. I hate Malala because it helps me sleep peacefully, with my sense of superiority very much intact.

via Why I hate Malala.

IPS – Genocide Replaces Separatism in Tamil Diaspora Vocabulary | Inter Press Service

Focusing so greatly on genocide puts a full reckoning of the war at risk and muddies chances for reconciliation, said Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“It is certainly possible that one might someday be able to prove in a court of law what happened in Sri Lanka was genocide,” Keenan told IPS.

“But the current use of the genocide framework makes it harder for Tamils to have a discussion about the various ways that the LTTE contributed to their community’s catastrophe. And by painting things in such a black and white fashion, it also makes it harder for Sinhalese to accept their own community’s responsibility for atrocities.”

Weiss, whose book, “The Cage,” lays out a detailed case for charging the Sri Lankan government with war crimes, believes no lasting solution can be reached without an investigation and eventually a truth and reconciliation process that puts the crimes of both sides out in the open.

Yet the current political set-up, fueled in no small part by the diaspora, gives the Rajapaksa government little incentive to cooperate.

“Part of the problem is their culpability is intimately entwined with allegations of war crimes,” said Weiss. “It makes it very unlikely that the current government will be going down the path [of a true investigation] unless they can sell an amnesty package.”

This leaves diaspora groups in a painful bind. Do they prioritise engagement via the TNA and national politics or focus their attention on a distant and slow-moving international system, beholden to the whim of unfriendly U.N. Security Council members?

The diaspora and Tamils in Sri Lanka can postpone self-reflection in part because the government has continued with land grabs and human rights abuses and exhibited a general intransigence when it comes to reconciliation, said Keenan.

“If the Sri Lankan government gave reforms that would treat Tamils as equal citizens, that would give Tamils more space to criticise their own past leadership,” said Keenan. “As long as the government is being so harsh, it’s hard for Tamils to look at their own leaders’ mistakes.”

via IPS – Genocide Replaces Separatism in Tamil Diaspora Vocabulary | Inter Press Service.

On Islamic Feminism and Women’s Rights: Lecture by Dr Amina Wadud : Aquila Style : Sya Taha

On Islamic Feminism and Women’s Rights: Lecture by Dr Amina Wadud : Aquila Style : Sya Taha.

Islamic feminism and Muslim feminists

I leave the discussion of Islamic feminism for last, because the term “feminism” next to “Islam” tends to raise certain preconceptions. This is especially because there are also many definitions for Islamic feminism. According to Dr Amina, Islamic feminism simply says that “Islam belongs to all of us.” Islam is not the exclusive field of scholars, priests, or policymakers, but Islam is what every sincere, believing and educated Muslim lives every day of her life.

Dr Amina confesses that she did not identify as a Muslim feminist for a long time, but that recently the term seems to best describe her work on social justice. While for medieval jurists, guardianship of women was a form of justice for their time, justice today must consist of “reciprocity” between human beings (we can exchange services with each other without either one losing anything), which is only possible with “a profound understanding of tauhid”. She leaves us to ponder if our ideas of family today reflect this justice.

Finally, I experience firsthand Dr Amina’s wit and humour in dealing with the gravity of her work in the face of harsh opposition. When a member of the audience pointed out to her that she had been criticised for “reading equality in the Qur’an”, she simply responded with what seemed to be the obvious response:

“If it’s okay to read patriarchy in the Qur’an, then damn straight I can read equality in it.”

McDonald’s Advice To Underpaid Workers: Sign Up For Food Stamps: Gothamist

Looks like the fast food giant has no problem passing the buck to taxpayers when it comes to supplementing their meager compensation. Two studies published last week revealed that McDonald\’s leaves taxpayers responsible for $1.2 billion annually across the nation to fund federal programs like SNAP and Medicaid with other fast food chains not far behind.

The corporation saw profits in the billions last year, which was doubled when adding in dividends and stock buybacks. On top of that, McDonald\’s CEO Donald Thompson is sitting pretty with a sweet $13.7 million per year salary. Meanwhile, Salgado, who has worked for the chain for over a decade, has never seen a raise from the $8.25 an hour rate she started out with.

via McDonald’s Advice To Underpaid Workers: Sign Up For Food Stamps: Gothamist.

Ironic and shameful – Settlers prevent Bethlehem farmers from reaching their land | Maan News Agency

Israeli settlers and military forces prevented dozens of Palestinian farmers from reaching their land east of Bethlehem on Wednesday.

Armed settlers assaulted villagers from Tuqu while Israeli soldiers stood by and prevented them from reaching their land to harvest olives, a Ma\’an reporter said.

Head of Tuqu village council Taysir Abu Mifreh said that settlers from Noqedim also used dogs to intimidate Palestinian farmers.

A confrontation developed between settlers and farmers, with Israeli soldiers intervening on behalf of the settlers, locals said.

via Settlers prevent Bethlehem farmers from reaching their land | Maan News Agency.

ASIA/SRI LANKA – The Commission “Justice and Peace” in Jaffna denounces “the genocide of Tamils” – Fides News Agency

\”A genocide of the Tamil people is in progress in Sri Lanka\”: this is a strong and circumstantial complaint sent by the Commission \”Justice and Peace\” of the diocese of Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka, to the Apostolic Nunciature and all the Bishops of the country.

In a long and detailed letter, sent to Fides Agency, the President of the Commission, Fr. S.V.B. Mangalarajah, launches the alarm and calls the Vatican to exert political pressure on the government of Sri Lanka in order to propose an \”equitable political solution\” regarding the national structure, in the post-civil war.

via ASIA/SRI LANKA – The Commission “Justice and Peace” in Jaffna denounces “the genocide of Tamils” – Fides News Agency.

Oh, SNAP: The Real Costs of Food Stamp Cuts | Civil Eats

California’s poor are hit doubly hard by poverty and hunger. Not only does California have the highest poverty rate in the country, but it ranks dead last among states when it comes to enrolling eligible families in SNAP. That means that 1.4 million households in California are missing benefits to which they are entitled and that would measurably improve their lives.

This underutilization has crippling human and economic impacts. In Alameda County alone (including the city of Oakland) California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) found an estimated annual loss of more than $180 million in benefits for residents who qualify for food assistance. Because every dollar spent on SNAP generates $1.79 in stimulative economic activity, much of it in the local economy, this costs the county more than $325 million per year.

We’ll make what has become a bold claim: In a world with more than enough food for all, no one should go hungry. No drought or famine explains why one in seven Americans are hungry. This is a purely political disaster.

via Oh, SNAP: The Real Costs of Food Stamp Cuts | Civil Eats.