Tags >> religion
Dec 11
2009

Memorial Hospital Union Vote

Posted by Bruce Robinson in unions , Santa Rosa , rights , religion , policy , nonprofit orgs , jobs , healthcare , Health , employment , business , activism

Bruce Robinson

Charges and countercharges are mounting in the run-up to next week’s union representation election at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Father Ray Decker (right) , who is active with the Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice group, says that while he and other clergy are pressing Memorial Hospital to take a more Christian stance toward the union organizing efforts of their workforce, they have no illusions about who they are actually speaking to.

Katy Hillenmeyer, spokeswoman for St. Joseph Health Care of Sonoma County, which operates Memorial Hospital, says the impartiality of the new Fair Election Oversight Commission is open to question, as some members have clear ties to one of the competing unions.

Wages and workplace issues are part of the debate in the union representation vote, says telemetry technician Nancy Timberlake, a 24-year Memorial Hospital employee. But the biggest single issue for her is job security.

Nov 09
2009

Schindler Exhibit

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , rights , religion , Petaluma , international , history , families , children , activism

Bruce Robinson

The story of German factory owner Oskar Schindler and the hundreds of Jews he shielded from the Nazis has been a successful novel and an award-winning film. Now his actual history is coming to the  Petaluma Museum.

 

The images below are part of the Leopold Pfeffferberg-Page collection, which he donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993, explains Senior Historian Peter Black.  There is also a summary of Schindler's story, provided by the Museum, at the bottom of this page.

Oskar Schindler (third from left) at a party with local SS officials on his 34th birthday. Schindler attempted to use his connections with German officials to obtain information that might protect his Jewish employees. Krakow, Poland, April 28, 1942. —Leopold Page Photographic Collection, courtesy of  U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

At Yad Vashem, the Israeli national institution of Holocaust commemoration, Oskar Schindler stands next to the tree planted in honor of his rescue efforts. Jerusalem, Israel, 1970.
—Leopold Page Photographic Collection, courtesy of  U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Leopold Pfeffferberg was one of the men on Schindler’s famous list, and was also instrumental in interesting writer Thomas Keneally in Schindler’s story. Keneally’s book, originally published as Schindler’s Ark, was a fictionalized account of his story which  won the Booker prize in 1982. But Holocaust Museum historian Peter Black points out there is now a formal biography of the man, too.

In 1939, the year Germany invaded Poland and launched World War II, Oskar Schindler was living in Moravia, Czechoslovakia, a region with a high ethnic German population. He joined the Nazi party on February 10, 1939. He assumed responsibility for a formerly Jewish-owned factory in Poland and eventually established a second under his ownership. The new factory became a haven for its approximately 900 Jewish workers for much of the war.

Although he amassed a fortune exploiting their labor and trading on the black market, he protected them by insisting they be housed at his factory rather than the local labor camp, Plaszów, which was run by a sadistic SS commandant Amon Leopold Göth. In late summer 1944 as the German war effort was collapsing, Schindler, through negotiations and bribes from his wartime profits, secured permission from German Army and SS officers to move his workers and other endangered Jews to Brünnlitz, near his hometown of Zwittau, where he had been assigned to oversee a new munitions factory. Its workers were placed on “Schindler’s List” and were transported to the factory where they remained in relative safety throughout the remainder of the war.

Asked in 1964 why he had intervened on behalf of the Jews, Schindler replied, “The persecution of the Jews in the General Government in Polish territory gradually worsened in its cruelty. In 1939 and 1940 they were forced to wear the Star of David and were herded together and confined in ghettos. In 1941 and 1942 this unadulterated sadism was fully revealed. And then a thinking man, who had overcome his inner cowardice, simply had to help. There was no other choice.”

 

Nov 05
2009

Voyage of Discovery

Posted by Bruce Robinson in tourism , students , rights , religion , poverty , ocean , international , Ideas , Green , environment , education , coast , climate change , carbon

Bruce Robinson

There’s nothing like seeing other parts of the world first-hand to give one a different perspective on “home.” A Sonoma State professor who did just that last summer with his students in the international Semester at Sea program, reports back.

The Semester at Sea program offers educational voyages that go completely around the world, and shorter trips, such as the summer voyage in which Rocky Rohwedder participated. Rohwedder, a professor of Environmental Studies, explains how that was structured.

That sequence was set up to ease the touring students into new cultures, by beginning with western European nations that have much in common with the United States. But as they traveled eastward around the Mediterranean, Rohwedder recounts, the changes became more dramatic.

As he traveled, Rocky posted regular blog entries from the trip, with many photographs embedded. In this one, he is seen with his son Ryder, in a public marketplace in Fes, Morocco.

 

Click here to find out how to apply for a semester at sea.

Sep 28
2009

Catholic Charities

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , speaker , Santa Rosa , religion , poverty , nonprofit orgs , healthcare , government , families , employment , economy , children , activism

Bruce Robinson

Official statistics on poverty in America tell barely half the story, even before the current recession kicked in, says the leader of a national anti-poverty effort, while the recovery now being forecast will take months or more to trickle down to the nation’s neediest citizens.

Father Larry Snyder took over as the head of Catholic Charities USA in early 2005, and found himself, just six months later, presiding over his agency’s efforts to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Looking back on that disaster now, he believes it has helped open Americans’ eyes to the prevalence of poverty in our midst.

 

 

The expansion of federal funding for faith-based organizations under the Bush administration actually amounted to less than it appeared, says Father Snyder. It merely extended a long-standing practice to include some additional service providers.

Catholic Charities  USA has announced a concerted campaign to cut poverty in America by half, and has developed an array of web-based resources and information as part of that effort. The data summarized below is taken from that website.

National Poverty Data

Updated September 2009

39.8 million people live below the official federal poverty level, which was $22,025 for a family of four in 2008. This number is up from 37.3 million in 20071.

The number of people in poverty has not exceeded the 2008 figure of 39.8 million people since 1960. It is expected to rise as the new census numbers account for 2008--which was just the beginning of the economic downturn.

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008.

Almost half of all Americans will have experienced poverty for a year or more at some point in their lives by the time they reach age 60.

Income and Employment

The federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.   Real median household income declined by 3.6 percent in 2008. As of September , 2009 the national unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent. Learn more

Location

Poverty rates are highest in central cities and rural areas. Inside metropolitan areas the poverty rate and the number of people in poverty were 12.9 percent and 32.6 million, both up from 2007.  The poverty rate for those outside metropolitan areas is 15.1 percent.

The South has the highest rate of people in poverty,14.3 percent. Mississippi and Louisiana have the first and second highest rates. Find your state's rank.

Racial Inequality

The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites is 8.6 percent, while the rate for Hispanics is 23.2 percent, the rate for Asians is 11.8 percent, and the rate for African Americans is 24.5 percent.  Learn more about Race and Poverty.

Age

The number of people 65 and older remained at 3.6 million in 2008. Children experience a higher rate of poverty, 19 percent, than the rest of the population. This number is higher than in 2007.  Children represent 35.3 percent of people in poverty but only 24.6 percent of the total population.1

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