Only 32 More Un-Shopping Days Left

14th Annual Buy Nothing Day
Winter Coat Exchange
Friday, November 26th, 2010 10:00am – 2:00pm
If you have a coat to give, please drop it off.
If you need a coat, please pick one up.
State House lawn (directly across from Providence Place Mall)
• Greg Gerritt 331-0529, gerritt@mindspring.com
• Phil Edmonds 461-3683, philwhistle@gmail.com
* Rain/Snow site: Cathedral of Saint John, 271 N Main Street, Providence, RI
Other Coat Exchange Sites:

Blackstone Valley Visitors Center, 175 Main St. Pawtucket
• Arthur Pitt 724-8915, kingarthur02940@yahoo.com
Newport: St Paul's Church, 12 Marlborough Street
• Maggie Bulmer 849-3537
Wakefield: St. Francis Church, 114 High Street 10:00am – NOON
• Tom Abbott 364-0778
Woonsocket: St. Ann's Arts & Cultural Center, 84 Cumberland Street
• Wally Rathbun Stannartsctr@aol.com

My friend Phil sent this. He buys stuff, and I do too. In fact, the mob at the Mall is kind of reassuring after the desperation of the last few years. But I’m a procrastinator, so maybe I’ll celebrate the Three Kings and pick up some deals at the post-season sales.

They’re already playing Christmas music, it just makes me melancholy. I might observe the holiday with some of Fischel Brezler’s music, and see if Joyce wants to go carolling at the ACI. Whatever you do this season, be jolly. Don’t do any stuff you don’t want to do and don’t let your cat eat tinsel– it doesn’t digest.

Feeling Safe

They came first for the Muslim’s junk,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Muslim.

You can see where this is going, but it’s still funny. Read the rest here.

I seldom fly, and I’ve never had any problems walking through the perfectly safe radiation of the body scanners, so I can’t get too terribly excited about this. Soon after 9/11, when the images of falling planes and burning towers were still fresh in our minds, the Bush adminstration passed over all kinds of proposed security measures at airports because it would cut into airline profits. I trust the market to thwart any practice that aggravates travelers enough to make them take the train instead.

But I’m wondering about another intrusion– a hand in my wallet.

Last year I went to cash a paycheck, drawn from Bank of America, at a branch of Bank of America. They wanted to charge me $7. They called it a ‘convenience fee’. No ‘my word is my bond’ here. No gratitude for the bailout. They didn’t want to be inconvenienced to honor their own check.

So I mentioned this to a co-worker last week and she said, ‘Did they want to fingerprint you?’ She said that they had required this of her husband. I said I’d show them a finger, but not for a print.

Is this really happening? Did any of you readers get hassled this way at the bank?

Some commenters here felt that it is lax to let citizens vote without ID. But I’m feeling like we are being led by convenience and nagging to ‘show our papers’ when dealing with corporations. I’m sick of being asked for my CVS card. Or my phone number or email. It’s none of Bob’s Store’s business where I live.

On the other hand I’ve started Facebooking, giving away all the details of my banal life. But there’s some things I’ll share with the world wide web that I should not have to discuss with my bank.

Live From the Liberty

So I’m waiting for the next visit and enjoying a sixty degree day and a cup of New Harvest at the Liberty Elm Diner. I love my job– the flexibility, the mobility. I could have sat at a bench putting earrings on cards for thirty years– this is much better.

Speaking of jobs, airport security seems like a stressy, entry level type occupation. I seldom fly, when I do I fly the red-eye, so I go through the lines half-asleep. The security people have always been pleasant and efficient. There are some horror stories in the press, and clearly some workers who need to be fired if not prosecuted. But it’s so unfair to the majority who are only doing their job.

Security agents, meanwhile, told an airline blogger how the pat-downs are destroying their morale.
“I want to tell these people that I feel disgusted feeling other peoples’ private parts,” one told Steven Frischling.
“I go home and cry,” said another. “I have been hardened by war, and in the past week I am slowly being broken down by the hateful comments.”

The press has been revved with this sexy new issue. Meanwhile, a majority polled wants to keep the scans and searchers. A majority of Americans never fly. It’s expensive. And expanding on the value of intrusive searches on someone else– NPR was debating whether searches should only be applied to funny-looking people. A commenter who said that profiling is un-American pointed out that clever terrorists could just send people who look regular.

Someone is calling for protests in the lines over the Thanksgiving holiday. I think that anyone who tries to protest now will be tackled by the anxious, tired people in line behind them.

Added to that, there are questions about the profits and cozy relationships between scanner manufacturers and Washington. Is any of this really making us safe?

Best wishes to all you travelers. Keep your eyes open and don’t take it out on the airport workers. They are scared too.

Stephanie Chafee, RN

This looks good for Rhode Island. Our new first lady, Stephanie Chafee, has been involved in public health for her whole career…

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Stephanie Chafee was Rhode Island’s first AIDS research nurse and co-founded the state’s only clinic providing free health services to the needy. Now, the multimillionaire wife of former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is taking on a new role: Rhode Island first lady.

We don’t elect candidate’s spouses, but having a first lady with so much experience in health and public service is a good deal for our state.

Even My Insurance is Progressive

I signed up for it years ago because it was affordable (and insurance is mandatory). They’re not hard to deal with when I’ve had to call them. I can’t say I’ll ever love an insurance company, but I like the ad they put up on Pam’s House Blend.

Pam is in the hospital recovering from surgery. She has many well-wishers in the blogosphere and in corporeal space. She says she came though fine. Get well soon, Pam, and best regards to your wife.

Another Brothel Raid

And unlike ‘Club Osaka’ in 1990, the police did not throw the women in jail and let the customers go. ProJo has the story here.

This use of the new law criminalizing indoor prostitution is not the usual routine of arresting prostitutes until they’re bailed out by their pimp. This kind of operation takes investigation and enlists multiple agencies including Day One. It is a targeted action against human trafficking.

I think that all our work and lobbying was not in vain. From the beginning there were those who wanted to ‘close the loophole’ and thought that was all that needed to be done. We helped get a strong anti-trafficking law passed in 2007, and also helped ensure that the ‘criminalization’ would allow the police and courts to recognize victims trapped in this life.

The two women accused of prostitution were interviewed by the state police and an advocate from Day One, a Providence resource center whose mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence. Demers said they were trying to determine whether the women were victims of human trafficking.
Despite the high volume of customers and little pay, the women “admitted no one was forcing them to do this,” Demers said. “It appeared they were doing this under their own free will.”

I don’t aspire to be Carrie Nation, axing a bar to save drinkers from demon rum, and I think there are some people who have options and choose prostitution. But not these women. Shipped from out of state, fifty to a hundred men a day. I hope someone can persuade them to testify.

Some of the people arrested, including the ringleaders, were here illegally, and will be dealing with ICE. Some of the customers will pay way more than the $30 they were expecting as they were wanted for deportation. The rest are outed– names and addresses in the Journal. Raids like this may work as a deterrent to people who used to break the law with impunity.

But to really make our state a place that traffickers will avoid, we will have to keep investing money and will in good police work and victim advocacy. If word gets around that victims can call on the law for justice, people will testify. Nearby states, none of which had a ‘loophole’ and all of which have prostitution, will have to coordinate investigations.

This isn’t about morality, or ‘cleaning up our city’. Our city will continue to be an immoral mess no matter what. This is about prosecuting a crime– one of the worst. Anyone who holds another person in bondage belongs in jail. We had a war about that, and it’s not over yet.

Disaster in Cambodia

Our sympathies to all the people who have lost family and friends in the crowd stampede disaster in Phnom Penh.

(CNN) — A stampede that occurred during a festival near Cambodia’s royal palace in Phnom Penh has killed 339 people, Cambodia’s minister of information, Khieu Kanharith, said Monday.
More than 4 million people were attending the Water Festival when the stampede occurred, said Visalsok Nou, a Cambodian Embassy official in Washington.

According to the article, the stampede was triggered by police who used a water cannon to drive people off a bridge. Senseless.

Meg, at Planning the Day, has some photos from Cambodia taken last week, giving a sense of the people and the place.

A little piece of Cambodia makes up the fabric of Providence. Our sympathies to our neighbors who are hearing sad news from home.

Providence has a deep connection with Cambodia, in the lives and work of many who have connections in both countries, and in the ministry of the late Mahaghosananda, a monk and spiritual leader who made his home in South Elmwood and founded Buddhist temples there.

The suffering of Cambodia has been deep.

From this suffering comes great Compassion.

Great Compassion makes a Peaceful Heart.

A peaceful Heart makes a Peaceful Person.

A Peaceful Person makes a Peaceful Community.

A Peaceful Community makes a Peaceful Nation.

And a Peaceful Nation makes a Peaceful World.

May all beings live in Happiness and Peace.