Equal Rights includes Working Mothers


2 State Bars Have Done the Right Thing for New Moms Needing to Pump. We’re Making Sure the 48 Left Do Too.

Breastfeeding baby with mom at the laptop

When Kristin Pagano came to the ACLU after being denied accommodations to pump breast milk during the Illinois bar exam, we decided to take action on her behalf. After the ACLU of Illinois sent a letter to the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar, the board agreed to make nursing moms eligible for accommodations – such as breaks and a private room for pumping.

Then another new mom-to-be, Shahzeen Karim, came forward with the same problem — this time in Texas. After over 25,000 people signed a petition, the Texas board also agreed to change its policies.

Now a third case has popped up in Kentucky, where the Office of Bar Admissions has told Jacquelyn Bryant-Hayes that the single lunch break in the 8-hour test day should be sufficient for her, even though she informed the board that her baby will be just four weeks old on the day of the test and her doctor estimated she would need breaks every 1.5 hours. (Setting aside the law, something is just wrong with their math!)

The ACLU of Kentucky is appealing that decision. But obviously, this isn’t an isolated problem. That is why the ACLU and Law Students for Reproductive Justiceare today announcing a nation-wide initiative to ensure that all nursing mothers who need testing accommodations during the bar exam are eligible to receive them, no matter where they are taking the exam.

Why does this matter?

The ACLU has long fought against discrimination based on pregnancy and breastfeeding in education and career advancement. Standardized tests and licensing exams, such as the LSAT, bar exam, medical boards, serve as important gateways to the professions, and they should be administered in a way that is fair to all test takers, including women who need some extra time and a place to pump.

Failure to pump on a regular schedule (typically every 2-3 hours) can lead to serious consequences, like pain and infection. If women are not allowed enough time to pump during these marathon tests, they will be forced take the exam through pain and distraction, risking their health, or will have to put off taking the exam altogether. Women should not have to choose between pursuing their career goals and their own health or that of their babies.

Thanks to the bravery of Kristin, Shahzeen, and Jacquelyn, we’ve already won changes in two states — and hope to win in a third. Now we need to win this for everyone. The ACLU and LSRJ volunteers are researching the accommodation policies in all 48 states left and will follow up with action against state legal licensing boards whose policies penalize nursing moms.

Here’s how you can help! If you (or someone you know) are planning on taking the bar (or another similar entrance or licensing examination) and need testing accommodations, or if you have already been denied those accommodations, we want to hear from you. Tell us your story!

And stay tuned for more opportunities to get involved as the campaign kicks into full swing.

Update – Nigerian Girls


I don’t want us to lose track of the fact that women and girls are suffering greatly in the Middle-East and Africa, so I wanted to bring you this update, originally posted on Vicenews.com, so that you know that Nigeria is doing what it can to identify these rescued girls.  Many of these girls have left Nigeria.   They have been through horrific experiences, and we need to pray for their future health and happiness and healing.

BOKO HARAM

Nigeria Working to ID Nearly 300 Women Rescued After Battle With Boko Haram

By Kayla Ruble

April 29, 2015 | 2:15 pm

After raiding four camps in Boko Haram’s forest stronghold in northeast Nigeria, the Nigerian army is working to identify nearly 300 women — including 200 schoolgirls — who were rescued in the operation.

Though an army spokesman initially stated that none of the women were the missing Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped more than a year ago by the militant group, the military now says their exact origins are still unknown. The women have reportedly been evacuated from the Sambisa Forest region where they were being held, and will undergo screening to determine how they ended up in Boko Haram captivity.

“Now they are excited about their freedom,” Nigerian army Col. Sani Usman told Reuters. “Tomorrow there will be screenings to determine whether they are Boko Haram wives, whether they are from Chibok, how long they have been in the camps, and if they have children.”

Human rights groups estimate that Boko Haram has kidnapped some 2,000 women since the Chibok attack on April 14, 2014. The latest development comes weeks after the one-year anniversary of the Chibok kidnappings, which sparked domestic uproar, international condemnation, and the Twitter hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Though 57 of the Chibok girls managed to escape, 219 remain missing.

According to unnamed Nigerian military sources cited by the Associated Press, Boko Haram used some of the women rescued Tuesday as “armed human shields,” who fired on the Nigerian soldiers while acting as a first line of defense for the militants.

Gen. Chris Olukolade told the BBC that security forces were able to locate the hostages and the camps using military intelligence. Nigeria’s military initiated its campaign in Sambisa — an area where some believe the Chibok girls may be located — in March, largely waging air raids over the region.

While Nigerian forces — backed by troops from neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon — have pushed back against Boko Haram, the militant group has continued to make advances in the country while further aligning itself with the Islamic State. In images released last week on social media, the Islamic State praised Boko Haram and referred to them as their “West Africa Province.” The Islamic State now has a significant presence in Libya, but the group is still primarily based in Syria and Iraq, raising doubts about the level of coordination with Boko Haram.

Across the border in Niger, local troops took a hit against Boko Haram in violent clashes over the weekend. The country’s ministry of defense reported that 46 troops died in a battle to retake Lake Chad’s Karamga Island. More than 150 militants were reportedly killed in the fighting.

Niger’s forces ultimately secured control over the territory, but Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou said “the village has been completely devastated.” The government announced a three-day state of mourning for 28 civilians killed in the crossfire.

The recent operation in Lake Chad is the latest in a multi-national offensive to thwart Boko Haram. The group has displaced 1.5 million people and killed an estimated 5,500 others over the last six years. Niger’s army chief Seyni Garba told a national television audience that the recent bloodbath would not weigh on the continued mission against the militant group.

“This act by Boko Haram should not rattle our determination,” Garba said.

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB

A Journey of Creation


It’s been a rough week.  Volcanos, earthquakes, riots.  It makes people forget the beauty in the world, and the importance of creating beauty.

I found this talk, by Sabina Ulubeanu, a music composer, and Co-Artistic Director of InnerSound New Arts Festival in Romania, on the TED Talks channel on YouTube and wanted to share it with you, my loyal readers.

Sometimes, when things seem the worst, we need to remember that there is still beauty in the world, and that the creation of beauty in all its forms — music, art, poetry, prose and, yes, science — is the most important work of all.

Rescued Nigerian Girls Not from Chibok


Girls rescued from Boko Haram camp not from Chibok, Nigerian military says

Hotoro, Kano, Nigeria (CNN)Girls rescued from Boko Haram terror camps in Sambisa Forest on Tuesday are “not the Chibok girls,” Nigerian Army spokesman Sani Usman said.

However, one official did not rule out that captives from other Boko Haram camps that were raided might include some of the 200 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok.

Nigerian troops rescued 200 girls and 93 women Tuesday in the Sambisa Forest in the northeastern part of the country, the Nigerian Armed Forces announced on its official Twitter account. The forest is a stronghold for the militant Boko Haram group and is not far from Chibok.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said the rescued girls and women are still being screened and none has spoken to their families yet.

The 2014 mass abduction from Chibok led to an international social media movement, #BringBackOurGirls, to rescue them. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, has been kidnapping females for years and has hundreds in their custody.

The Tokumbere, Sassa and Tlafa terror camps were raided and destroyed, said a source close to the military. The Tokumbere camp is the most notorious, where the training of small children by Boko Haram is said to have occurred, the source said. Boko Haram terrorists were killed in the operation, but the military did not say how many.

In recent weeks, Nigerian troops and vigilantes moved into the Sambisa Forest. Last Wednesday the troops had to retreat because of explosive devices Boko Haram planted in the forest, according to military sources and a vigilante who was with the troops.

On Monday, troops re-entered the forest and on Tuesday afternoon they raided Boko Haram camps and rescued scores of girls and women.

“We stumbled on the girls and may find more,” Usman said.

Information about the fate of the kidnapped schoolgirls has been spotty and inconsistent, with some school officials giving conflicting figures for the number of girls who were abducted or escaped their captors.

“We have no idea where the Chibok girls are or were,” CNN correspondent Christian Purefoy said Tuesday.

The name Boko Haram translates to “Western education is sin” in the local Hausa language. The group has said its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

Everyone Needs To Be Heard


I have been monitoring the murder of Freddie Gray and I was glad to see that the protests were peaceful, until yesterday.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:  “Violence is the language of the unheard.”

I want to share that I have personally marched and picketed up to 1995, when my husband died.  It was a very difficult time for me, after his loss, and I could no longer use my energy as I once did.  While protesting in Harrisburg, PA; Washington, DC; Cleveland, OH; and Erie, PA, as it happened, the marches and protests I participated in were peaceful.

 

 

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

 

As my readers know, I am a pacifist.  I believe in Peace, not war.  What does war get us?  Nothing.

I had a conversation last night with a very dear friend, and we were discussing Freddie Gray’s murder, and the protests that were beginning, at that time, to turn violent.  He made me realize that what Martin Luther King, Jr. said back in the 60’s, continues to be true:  If people are not heard; if their words and peaceful protests are not met with understanding and action, with changes for the betterment of all peoples, then there will be violence, there will be bloodshed.

This has been a very difficult time for me, because I do not believe in violence; and yet, I know that if people continue to go unheard, unheeded and undervalued by their city governments, state governments, federal government, there will be repercussions.

My friend is starting a list — he has found, so far, at least 1 young man has been killed by police everyday in the past year.  Not just black men, but hispanic men, asian men, white men; muslim men, Christian men, Jewish men.  Men from all races, religions and creeds.  It surprised and shocked me that so many young men are dying at the hands of our own police, here in the United States.

 

 

Black Lives are Important to America

Black Lives are Important to America

 

 

It is difficult to comprehend that the police have gotten to a place where they feel they have the right to take a life because they run away, or because they mouth off.  It has been a while since the police have been seen in such a bad light, but the time is here again, when police departments across the nation are losing the confidence of the citizens whom they are supposed to “serve and protect”.

My concept of “serve and protect” is to be able to maturely come to a valid assessment of a situation and to react to that situation with the best of your ability for what is within the law and what is in the best interests of the community.

I live in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, as many of you know, and a short time ago, we had a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, who was playing in a park.  Someone called in a 911 call to say that there was someone acting suspiciously in the park.  A police cruiser was sent to the scene and the two officers killed this child because he was playing with a toy gun.

My heart breaks for this child and his family.  His death is something that they will never recover from, completely.

The arrival of the police and the fatal shots were videoed by a by-stander, and so much was found wrong with the behavior of the police officers, that even in my idealism, I can find no excuse for such terrible behavior.  They shot Tamir within 12 seconds of arriving on the scene.  There was no discussion, no evaluation, no attempt to diffuse the situation.  There was only immediate, permanent death.

 

 

Peaceful protests show that people want to be heard.

Peaceful protests show that people want to be heard.

 

 

In Baltimore, the protests have become violent and unfortunately no one listened to the people during the peaceful protests which occurred first.  I read a quote once that it takes war to bring about change.

I understand why this was said, but I have to believe that if we just listen to what people are saying, to their honest, peaceful words for peace and change, we can solve this together with all Americans equally voicing their opinions.

 

 

UnnecessaryViolence1Unheard people will resort to violence

 

If the unheard voices do not become heard, we could end up in a revolution within our shores, or another civil war; not state against state, not north against south, but the poor against the privileged, and the disenfranchised against those with power.

I have 9 grandchildren.  I do not want them to have to live through a civil war, or a revolution.

Right now, the majority of the protesters are black and they are protesting the unnecessary death of Freddie Gray.

 

 

Anger erupts as people feel they have no other options for their anger.

Anger erupts as people feel they have no other options for their anger.

 

 

If police tactics and brutality do not end, there will be protests among every racial, religious and other disenfranchised group in America.  This is never going to go away without Justice; police officers must be held accountable and responsible for their bad choices, and for the murder of people they are supposed to protect.

I want to say how badly I feel for all the young lives which have been taken for no good reason.  I want to say the police are brutalizing American citizens and should be punished for their crimes against the citizens of the United States.

In general, I believe that the police will be given the amount of respect that they give to the people they are attempting to arrest, but even if they are not, it is not right to kill those people.

My message, therefore, to community leaders across this country — to police commissioners and their officers — is to Stop Killing Young People.

If we forget the importance and sacredness of life, then we will become the barbarians that human beings once were.

Black Lives Matter.

Hispanic Lives Matter.

Asian Lives Matter.

Native American Lives Matter.

European Lives Matter.

Middle-Eastern Lives Matter.

Muslim Lives Matter.

Christian Lives Matter.

Jewish Lives Matter.

LGBT Lives Matter.

Straight Lives Matter.

Criminal’s Lives Matter.

Police’s Lives Matter.

ALL LIVES MATTER.

We need to start acting like it.

Paul Laurence Dunbar


Paul Laurence Dunbar was a true American son. He was born in 1872. He was the son of freed Kentucky slaves. He became a published poet at fourteen. His first book was, Oak and Ivy. He sold it to riders on his elevator as they rode with them.

 

He moved to Chicago and became friends with Frederick Douglas. He was an internationally recognized poet.

 

“Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;

I look far out into the pregnant night,

Where I can hear a soleman booming gun

And catch the gleaming of a random light,

That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

 

My tearful eyes my soul’s deep hurt are glassing;

For I would hail and check that ship of ships.

I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,

My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,

And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing

 

O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,

O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!

Is there no hope for me? Is there no way

That I may sight and check that speeding bark

Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?

 

—Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ships That Pass in the Night

 

 

Justice will bring peace

Justice will bring peace