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A Q&A with The Wilderness Society’s New Mexico Deputy Director – High Country News – Know the West

Kay Bounkeua discusses Lao-Chinese childhood in the state, its connection to the landscape, and the future of the conservation movement.

In the mid-1980s, when Kay Bounkeua was a toddler, her family moved to Northeast Heights, a historically white-only neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her parents had moved to the city from a refugee camp in Thailand more than a decade earlier, after war flooded their landlocked home Laos. When neighbors learned that a Lao-Chinese family was moving in, they signed a petition warning that immigrants would bring the crime with them and devalue local real estate. It was one of the many incidents of racial harassment that plagued Bounkeua’s childhood.

Growing up the way she did, worried about discrimination, financial hardship, and feelings of not belonging, Bounkeua enjoyed biking and hiking in the Sandia Mountains with her family. There they could just be themselves. She fondly remembers speaking with her parents in Lao and Mandarin while contemplating the desert landscape. They all found solace outside, she said. They didn’t worry about “speaking bad languages” and “eating bad food”.

In 2010, Bounkeua joined the Asian Family Center in New Mexico, where he later served as Executive Director. She has led initiatives to provide language access to newcomers and has championed community concerns in local and national politics. But over a year ago, she changed careers: she became the New Mexico deputy director of the Wilderness Society, focusing on working with underrepresented communities in the outdoors and in conservation. .

Heidrich photography

Recently, High Country News spoke with Bounkeua about his transition from social work to conservation, and what it’s like to be one of the few Asians in conservation in the South West. Now that the Biden administration is committed to the “30×30” plan and an inclusive and sustainable future, she believes this is the perfect time to bring diverse community perspectives into the mainstream of conservation. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

High Country News: Can you tell me a bit about your past work with the Asian community in New Mexico?

Kay Bounkoua: In 2010, I came to the Asian Family Center as a program coordinator. At the time, it was primarily a direct service provider, providing intervention services to victims of domestic violence. Four years later, I became the managing director. As the organization grew and I dealt with what my family had been through, we created culturally appropriate programs. Just think of those who go from moving to relocating and trying to figure it all out as you build a new home.

I also thought about the future of the organization more from a social justice perspective. As young people who have felt, seen and experienced oppressive actions against our community became more politically engaged, the center has done more organizational and civic engagement work to help members of the Asian community. to exercise their right to vote. We have also started to discuss access to languages ​​in New Mexico. In this way, the Asian Family Center not only provided services to people in the community, but also implemented change at the system level.

HCN: Why did you join the Wilderness Society?

KB: Because I had my daughter, who is now 2 1/2 years old. This shift to parenthood got me thinking about the kind of life I want her to have and the kind of world we leave for our children. And I think this connection to land and place is critical.

As for my relationship with the land and what it means, I think a lot about Laos. When I visited Laos when I was little, before even going up a mountain road, we visited a shrine that people created at the bottom of the mountain, where you pray that the mountain spirits ask permission to cross the country. and guides you throughout your journey. This kind of spiritual connection reminded me that so many do have that spiritual connection with places here in New Mexico.

My dad always told me that the landscape of New Mexico is similar to that of Laos in that it is landlocked and warm. This vivid landscape made me feel connected to my parents’ homeland when I was young – but I’m afraid it will fade away and the ways I connected across the land of New Mexico are no longer. available so that I can share them with my daughter.

Kay Bounkeua and her young daughter hiked the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico last winter.

Courtesy of Kay Bounkeua

HCN: How has your past community work inspired your conservation efforts at the Wilderness Society?

KB: To do conservation work, you cannot separate it from community work. We should consider the environment and its impacts on the health of communities as an ecosystem. For example, neighborhoods that have been marked in red have fewer trees and are more affected by heat waves. A higher urban heat index is also correlated with higher rates of violence. All of these contribute to the negative effects on the health of our communities.

HCN: What would you like to see changed in the Wilderness Society under your leadership to address the history of exclusion and discrimination in the mainstream conservation movement?

KB: I hope that we will continue to recognize the deep trauma suffered by communities while proposing solutions found within these communities. How can we examine environmental racism, environmental degradation and the root causes of these problems in our community? How do we invest money in Indigenous, Asian, Latin and other colored communities? For those who continue to be most impacted by climate and extinction crises, I think this is where the magic will happen. And a big part of that job is building trust and relationships, which takes a long time.

There is a lot of harm when we do not include people of color in the decision making process. So we began to conduct a series of 25 different hearing sessions with Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx and other people of color leaders and organizations to understand what “conservation” means to them and how to make conservation into the realm. New Mexico could be in a respectful relationship with them.

To do conservation work, you cannot separate it from community work. We should consider the environment and its impacts on the health of communities as an ecosystem.

HCN: To achieve a fair and sustainable future under “30×30”, what should policymakers and environmental organizations in the West do to involve more people of color in the movement?

KB: It is important to note that traditional knowledge and science can coexist. But so many times it feels like you can only do one or the other. If we create policies by looking only at Eurocentric science, it is a huge disservice to things that people have known for generations that could potentially support something that we are working on. And we need to welcome people who have been historically excluded from the environmental conservation movement so that they can give their opinion.

There are so many amazing indigenous led organizations across the state and across the country that we should just follow suit as they were the original and continuing stewards of this land. We can also learn from emerging groups, such as Outdoor Afro, Outdoor Asian and Latino Outdoor. They are so culturally based and understand these issues from a racial equity perspective and can provide many solutions to the issues that we are all trying to solve.

Wufei Yu is an editor at High Country News. Send him an e-mail To [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.



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PH lockouts: a brief history

Police checks, like last year’s one, have become commonplace when the lockdown is enforced. FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ​​ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — The latest looming lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR) is believed to be the fourth in the capital, which accounts for more than half of the Philippine economy.

As more than 12 million residents wait for the latest round of restrictions that will begin on August 6 and end on August 20, they are told that limiting their movement is the price to pay to avoid a greater tragedy: coronavirus infections get out of hand.

The measures appear to tilt in favor of one aspect of the crisis – health – and neglect the other: the economy and livelihoods. Some experts say that protecting people from disease and the loss of their livelihood is not necessarily a choice proposition.

Disease experts have shown that keeping people separate is an effective way to slow down the transmission of the virus for one basic reason. Humans are the main carriers of the virus.

“The primary mode by which people become infected with SARS Cov2 is exposure to respiratory fluids carrying infectious viruses,” the United States Centers for Disease Control has said in its numerous COVID-19 advisories.

According to the CDC, people are mainly infected with:

  • Inhalation of microscopic respiratory droplets and virus-carrying aerosol particles
  • Getting the virus into the mouth, nose, or eyes from a splash or spray of virus-laden particles from an infected person
  • Touching mucous membranes or contaminated surfaces

There are still inconclusive studies indicating that the virus is suspended in the air, which could be alarming, but it has not been shown to be certain.

Experts are sure of one thing, however. Close human contact increases the risk of infection, which would make containment an essential weapon in the fight against SARS Cov2.

During one of his briefings on the government’s response to COVID, President Rodrigo Duterte blurted out how difficult it would be to keep people at a safe distance in a place as populated as Metro Manila.

On this point, Duterte was right. Metro Manila is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. In Manila alone, there are at least 71,263 people per square kilometer, according to 2015 census data. In Mandaluyong city, the density is 41,580 people per square kilometer. In Pasay City, it’s 29,815 people per km².

Locking down these densely populated areas could mean keeping people locked in very tight spaces, which could defeat the goal of preventing transmission of the Delta variant.

Delta, who was previously known as Indian, was as contagious as chickenpox, according to the US CDC. To get an idea of ​​how contagious Delta is, a person with chickenpox is 90% likely to pass the infection on to people close to them who are not immune, the CDC said.

Why resort to confinement in places where you cannot separate people like in congested poor urban communities? According to Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in a statement last year, the lockdown or strengthened community quarantine would prevent 323,262 additional COVID cases, of which 9,698 are serious or critical.

But the blockages have taken place and will happen soon. They are now part of the package against COVID-19 around the world.

NCR lockdown episodes would show numbers that may or may not lead to a conclusion about the effectiveness of restriction of movement as a measure to slow the transmission of the virus.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

When the first lockdown, or Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), was imposed from March 14 to April 30, 2020, according to the World Health Organization, there were 196 cases of COVID on the second day of the lockdown, March 16. On March 23, there were 768 cases. As of March 30, there were 2,019 cases. As of April 6, two days after the expiration of the ECQ period, there were 1,334 cases.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

During the second lockdown, which moved to the modified ECQ (MECQ) from August 4 to 18, 2020, the WHO said there were 2,463 cases of COVID on August 10, six days after the start of the locking. On August 17 or a day before the MECQ expired, there were 29,305 cases.

A third cycle of ECQ was implemented from March 29 to April 4, 2021. On the day the ECQ went into effect, there were 71,606 cases of COVID, according to the WHO. As of April 5, the day after the ECQ expired, there were 69,164 cases.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

It is not yet clear to what extent blockages in the NCR have been successful in achieving its primary goal of protecting people from infection. But it has come at a cost.

Unemployment in 2020 climbed to 17.7 percent, or 7.3 million people, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority’s April 2020 Labor Force Survey.

In the results of a survey carried out in November 2020, Social Weather Stations (SWS) said 48% of the Filipino population considered themselves to be poor. At least 12 million families have declared themselves poor, according to the SWS poll. The striking figure is that 2 million of these families are considered “newly poor”.

This next ECQ from August 6, millions of families are again facing an uncertain outcome. Duterte had asked the Ministry of Budget and Management to identify sources of funds for cash assistance after repeatedly saying in the past that the government lacked funds for this purpose.

The Department of Labor and Employment, quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, has forecast the loss of more than 167,000 jobs.

Senatorial Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and several other senators, call on the government to stop fundraising and simply turn to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts (NTF-Elcac), which in 2021 alone gets more than 19 billion pesos in funding.

The task force had already released billions of pesos in villages, supposedly for development projects that would pit communities against communist rebels. An audit of the projects is requested although the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which transferred the funds to the villages, has provided a list of project descriptions.

If funding was found, the government planned to distribute P 1,000 in cash per person and up to P 4,000 per family during the two-week ECQ August 6-20.

It was, according to Bayan chief Renato Reyes, misleading to give hope for help but not to be sure of the source of funding.

Meanwhile, people with cash have formed long lines at grocery stores and supermarkets to stock up on supplies. Shopping centers, with the exception of stores considered essential, have turned dark again, restaurant after restaurant closed on August 1.

Millions of people hope there will be light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel.

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Salinas students stand up for ethnic studies – Voices of Monterey Bay

Zaira Hernandez testifies at school board meeting | Zoom screenshot

| YOUTH BEAT

By Karen Dorantes

On June 22, parents and grandparents arrived at a meeting of the Salinas Union High School District Governing Board to express their disapproval of the ethnic studies program currently taught in high schools in the district.

That night, no student was there to defend him.

Mike Lipe, one of the adults who came forward to oppose the curriculum, told the board that “there is absolutely no room for activists in our school boards and administrations. . These principles are deeply rooted in radicalism and racism. They promote division and hatred within society.

But the board members who voted for ethnic studies as a condition for a one-semester graduation in 2019 – to be implemented for the class of 2024 – held on.

The council’s support for ethnic studies contrasted with a 2012 decision in Tucson, Arizona, where one of the most popular and successful Mexican-American ethnic studies courses was banned by a law banning any course that ” advocates ethnic solidarity ”.

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Diego Puga Escobar speaks at school board meeting | Zoom screenshot

Carissa Purnell, who has taught ethnic studies in Salinas for the past six years, defined ethnic studies as “courses that use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze historical and contemporary issues and experiences associated with race, class and genre “.

She said ethnic studies were first introduced in the fall of 1968, when the Black Student Union led a student strike at San Francisco State University to demand more representation on campus.

School board president Phillip Tabera said it took five years of discussions to approve the district’s one-year ethnic studies course in 2018. It has become an option for all five high schools in Salinas this year. -the. The council approved a one-semester ethnic studies course in 2019 that will become a graduation requirement for the freshman class of 2024. District officials said the curriculum was developed with input from students. teachers, parents, students and the board.

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CarissaOffice provided-by-Alisal-Union-School-District

Carissa Purnell | Photo provided

Students defend ethnic studies

After the controversy at the June 22 meeting, about half a dozen young people came to the July 13 board meeting to express their support for the ethnic studies program. Many other students attended the meeting, hoping to speak, but public testimony was limited by the council. The most notable group of students was from La Cosecha, a youth organization that is part of the Building Healthy Communities initiative. (Disclosure: I am a member of La Cosecha.)

Seeing a group of students come together and stand up against adults telling them what they should and shouldn’t study in schools is something new to this generation.

Young people in La Cosecha, who are mostly Latino, said they supported ethnic studies because they wanted professionals to teach them about their own history. “My story should be taught, my story should be shown in these schools,” said Diego Puga Escobar, a member of La Cosecha and entering his last year at Alisal High School.

Escobar said after the meeting that he chose to speak to the board because he wanted to be the voice of those who might have been afraid to stand up for ethnic studies. Without ethnic studies, he said he believed there was a much bigger “gap” between people of different cultures, nationalities or ethnicities.

“If we are constantly taught a [side of history], then we’re going to be made to believe that there is only one truth, ”Escobar said. “All we’re trying to do is provide the resources to our people and be able to see that there are many truths on one side. “

Maraly Escalante introduced herself but was unable to speak at the July 13 meeting due to lack of time. She recently graduated from North Salinas High School and took an Ethnic Studies course at Hartnell College. She said the class allowed her to see Mexicans and Latinas in history, but she also learned about the history of other ethnicities and races.

Escalante said she believes ethnic studies gives students a better understanding of where members of their community come from, what their cultures are like, and what challenges they may have.

“I feel like ethnic studies unites us more because we have a new understanding,” she said. “A friend of mine used to tell me that throughout his school career he was ashamed of being African American and he didn’t know why he should be ashamed of it. In a way, ethnic studies help us understand why certain stereotypes exist in our communities and how to correct them.

To those who oppose ethnic studies, Escalante replied, “Yes, a lot of people can identify as Americans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they see themselves everywhere. [the version of] American history they teach in high schools.

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Philip-Tabera-supplied-by-Carlos-Castro

Philippe Tabera | Photo by Carlos Castro

Meaningful conversation

Alma Cervantes, regional education equity manager for Building Healthy Communities, said her goal is to give young people a platform and “critically challenge a system that has prevented them from learning truth about this country, a system that has not provided a space for them to talk about their history, their history, their cultures.

Cervantes said ethnic studies creates a transformative space where students can engage in meaningful conversation not only with teachers, but with each other as well.

“Ethnic studies is beyond a curriculum,” she said. “It’s a transformative way for students to feel like they belong to the class. It supports their self-esteem, it supports their academics, good attendance and it allows us to see each other in the classrooms. “

Purnell cited three articles that support Cervantes’ point. She said research shows ethnic studies have been “proven to increase grade points, credits, attendance, graduation, and college education, as well as lead to better test scores,” she said. grades, math, reading, writing, science and social studies ”.

Zaira Hernandez, another La Cosecha member and recently graduated from Alisal High School, who spoke at the July 13 board meeting, said: “These young students are supposed to know who they are. , where they want to go and what they want. do for the rest of their lives, but how can you expect them to know who they are, who they are, without taking a course like this, which shares their history and culture? “

Beyond Salinas, on July 17, Gov. Gavin Newson signed a bill requiring freshmen at California State University to take an ethnic studies course to graduate.

Hernandez said pursuing ethnic studies has helped her discover people who may be more like her, not only in terms of race or ethnicity, but also gender. She disagrees with the claim that the program encourages hatred.

In fact, she says, it helps students respect others better. “It’s not trying to divide people.”

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The Space Collectibles Display and Sale takes place August 14 at the Sands Space History Center at the Cape Canaveral Space Station

the ree event is open to the public and features memorabilia related to space

The annual Space Collectibles Display and Sale is scheduled for Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sands Space History Center, outside the Cape Canaveral Space Station. The free event is open to the public and features space-related memorabilia including unique and historical pins, badges, models, toys, mail envelopes, artwork and more.

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The annual Space Collectibles Sale is scheduled for Saturday, August 14 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Sands Space History Center outside the Cape Canaveral Space Station.

The free event is open to the public and features space-related memorabilia, including unique and historical lapel pins, patches, models, toys, mail envelopes, artwork and more.

The US Air Force Space and Missile Museum Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization, hosts the event and proceeds are donated to museum programs and activities.

The Sands Space History Center is located just outside the main entrance to the Cape Canaveral Space Station at the end of State Road 401 on the north side of Port Canaveral at 100 Spaceport Way in Cape Canaveral.

For questions or more information, contact Sharon Rodriguez at 321-698-5854 or by email at [email protected]


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Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation Welcomes New Trustees – Network News, Press Releases

July 20, 2021

From left to right: Stephen Martinez, Tom Evans and Tom Geisel. Not in the photo, Behnaz Baker.

Hackensack Meridian The Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of Behnaz Baker, Thomas Evans, Stephen J. Martinez and Thomas X. Geisel to its Board of Trustees.

“These new directors are all great additions to our board,” said Clare Ward, Interim Executive Director, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation and Vice President, Principal Giving, Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation. “Tom Evans and Stephen joined us at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately stepped up to help Hackensack University Medical Center through its most difficult time in its history. Behnaz joins us as the pandemic appears to be ending, but she has been involved in medical center-related child-related causes for several years and is eager to use her time and talents as Hackensack University Medical Center continues. its expansion and recognition as one of the best hospitals in the country. Tom Geisel’s extensive experience in regional and national organizations, combined with his leadership experience, involvement in many leading industry associations and passion for extending his expertise to business organizations and the local community make him a wonderful addition to our board of directors.

Baker is the CIO and Executive Director of Integration at Riverside Medical Group, which is part of Optumcare. As a member of the leadership team, she leads several divisions of the practice to execute Riverside’s vision and strategy to provide the best possible care to New Jersey residents through partnerships with internal and external stakeholders. through growth and acquisitions. In 2018, Baker was recognized as one of New Jersey’s “50 Best Business Women” by NJBIZ. She and her husband, Omar Baker, MD, established the Dr. Omar and Behnaz Baker Patient Assistance Fund at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital to provide financial assistance to children and families. faced with chronic health problems. Additionally, she was a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health Children’s Hospital Advisory Committee for the past two years. Baker resides in Manhattan with her husband and three children.

Evans retired from PwC after a 38-year career where he helped develop the organization’s best leaders and teams at all levels. He began his career at PwC in 1977 as a Chartered Accountant in the firm’s insurance practice before joining the Leadership & Development team to launch his industry-specific training efforts where he quickly rose to prominence. through the ranks, eventually becoming the firm’s first Chief Learning Officer, followed by the Development Leader for PwC West businesses in Canada, Brazil and Mexico, as well as in other Latin American and Caribbean countries. He is a member of the Association of the US Army (AUSA), the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the AICPA. He is also very active in his community and is deputy mayor and commissioner of revenue and finance in his hometown. Evans lives in Nutley.

Martinez is an architect at RSC Architects, a full-service architectural firm specializing in healthcare, education and municipal works. Previously, he worked in New York for Kohn Pedersen Fox, an international architectural firm specializing in skyscrapers in New York and Asia. Martinez is a registered architect in the state of New Jersey and a member of the American Institute of Architecture and the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. He received his BA from Lehigh University and his MA in Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Recently married, Martinez lives in Ridgewood with his wife Burgess.

Geisel is President of Corporate Banking at Sterling National Bank, where he leads corporate banking strategic, innovation and execution activities. His responsibilities include strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital allocation and overall execution of revenue generation. In addition, Geisel is a member of numerous committees of the bank, as well as a number of major professional societies in New York and New Jersey. He was named one of New Jersey’s “50 Most Influential People in Banking” by NJBIZ and his ideas have been featured in many leading media outlets.

To learn more about how you can support the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation, please contact Clare Ward, Acting Executive Director, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation, at [email protected] or visit hackensackumc.org/givenow.


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Bible Society’s New Philadelphia Museum Tells American History with a Religious Lean

The first iteration of Independence Mall was such a dud that many blocks along the park went untapped for years and then ended up becoming sites for high-security government offices. But after the mall was renovated in the early 2000s with more greenery and a new visitor center, the three-block expanse became a popular destination for specialist museums keen to partner with the ideals. founders of the nation. Now everyone wants a place in the mall to tell their side of American history.

This summer, Faith and Freedom Discovery Center became the mall’s latest star-seeking attraction, joining the Jewish National Museum and the President’s House Memorial to Enslaved Africans. The center was created by the American Bible Society, the organization responsible for storing Bibles in nightstands in hotel rooms around the world. The Bible Society had long been headquartered in New York City, but decided to move its operations to Philadelphia in 2015 when offices overlooking the Fifth and Market mall became available. As part of the deal, the company also obtained the rights to the ground floor of the building.

The Bible Society immediately knew they wanted to expand their mission by opening an exhibition space around the corner. In addition to distributing thousands of Bibles in dozens of languages, the company had amassed an impressive collection of historical Bibles, including the one used by William Penn. What better place to present its history, the group thought, than the city where Penn established a colony based on religious tolerance and where the American Republic was born.

»READ MORE: American Bible Society’s Faith and Freedom Discovery Center opens across from Independence Mall

While the location was great, the space was a challenge. While Fifth and Market should be a welcoming gateway to the Old Town, the dismal 1970s office building has turned its back on the mall. The downstairs retail space, which once housed a bank, was hidden behind a dark archway and the views were blocked by an oversized SEPTA entrance. It didn’t help that the Jewish Museum, just across the street, was built in 2010 with an equally unappealing ground floor. This museum, designed by James Polshek, doesn’t even have a door to the mall and looks as fortified and austere as the US Mint, just up the street.

After a complete renovation of the ground floor, the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center began operating at full capacity on Independence Day. The Bible Society doesn’t want you to think of the center as a museum of Christianity or a museum of religion – or even a museum at all. The goal, according to director Pat Murdock, is to show how religious faith of all kinds has shaped America’s basic operating system and remains the bulwark of all our freedoms.

While this premise may appeal to some ardent believers, most mainstream historians would argue that this claim distorts and oversimplifies American history and is at odds with the founders’ efforts to keep religion out of the discussion. But because the Faith and Liberty Center preaches a message of tolerance – something that’s welcome in these polarized times – I couldn’t wait to see how it linked its exhibits to the mall’s evolving narrative and used them to activate this corner. dead.

With the help of architect David Searles of JacobsWyper Architects and Local projects, the exhibition designer responsible for the National September 11 Memorial, the company greatly enhanced the building’s street presence. The corner is still covered in SEPTA stairs, including one that has been inexplicably styled with AstroTurf. But now a sloping walkway leads from Market Street to a gleaming glass entrance pavilion on Fifth Street. The path is lined with benches which invite passers-by to relax. At the glass pavilion, a swirling white sculpture nicknamed Lighthouse emerges from the roof, helping to mark the place. At night, the sculpture, designed by Local Projects, becomes a real beacon. The corner almost feels alive for the first time.

Almost, but not quite. Like all of the other attractions that have taken root in the mall (with the exception of the open-air President’s House), the Faith and Liberty Center needs darkness to run its high-tech exhibits. As a result, two of the three bays in the building facing the shopping center on Fifth Street were covered with white panels. Searles arranged them in a curved shape to make the panels more interesting. But a white wall remains a white wall.

These boarded up windows say a lot about the entire company. Just as the centre’s facade isn’t as transparent as it should be, neither are its exhibits.

As soon as you arrive at the box office, you are given a digital wand and encouraged to anoint (er, type) your favorite texts and images, just like you would light a candle in a church. It is not just a sign of approval. By touching the wand on the text panels, you can download the information to your computer after leaving the museum. Just as the company places Bibles in hotel rooms, it now has the ability to place these exhibits directly into your personal digital space. Like Facebook and Google, the Bible Society is eager to collect your metadata.

Despite the company’s biblical collection, books are not the main show. In fact, you can barely see them because the lighting has to be low for the interactive displays in the center. As you enter the main hall, you are greeted by a series of video interviews with ordinary people who tell their personal stories around the faith; it is the technological version of witnessing in a church. The exhibit ends in a circular theater where the exhibit’s designers recreated William Penn’s stormy journey across the Atlantic on the Welcome ship, with virtual rats scurrying under your feet.

The Bible Society has gone to great lengths to ensure that exhibits appear non-denominational and include non-Christian religions. Murdock told me he wanted people of all faiths to feel comfortable at the center. So you won’t find the name Jesus anywhere in the center. Quotes from Ben Franklin and James Madison – two skeptics of organized religion who called themselves deists – abound. In a section titled “Changemakers,” there are tributes to Catholic, Jewish and Black social justice activists including Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Sojourner Truth and Rebecca Gratz of Philadelphia. Yet despite all the ecumenism and the struggle for inclusion, the framing and choice of words struck me, a non-Christian, as deeply Christian.

Much of the story told at the center revolves around Penn, a devout Quaker whose great contribution to American life has been his belief that people should be free to worship any faith they choose. By invoking Penn, the Bible Society attempts to equate faith with tolerance. Of course, we know that faith is just as often used to justify intolerance. The Bible Society itself has recently started requiring employees to adhere to a strict set of conservative evangelical mores, making it impossible for members of the LGBTQ community to work in it openly. Nonetheless, the exhibits assert that all the freedoms Americans hold dear today stem from freedom of religion. Without faith in a higher force, they claim, there would be no America.

It’s not exactly the standard story. “The story they tell is essentially a fairy tale,” said Jonathan zimmerman, professor of educational history at Penn.

READ MORE: A year after the American Bible Society issued an ultimatum, nearly 20% of its staff have quit

One might as well argue that America was born in response to the rationalist and humanistic ideas of the Enlightenment. Or that American tolerance is a product of our mercantile culture, as practiced by the Dutch in New Amsterdam. This is the thesis of the excellent history of New York by Russell Shorto, The island at the center of the world. In this proto-capitalist era, only the Benjamins counted. The French political philosopher Montesquieu also observed the strong link between trade and the desire for freedom.

Either way, America’s record on tolerating non-white, non-Protestant groups is quite poor. The Faith and Liberty Center could never have moved to Boston, Zimmerman noted, because the founding Puritans “were very intolerant” of all other religions.

To its credit, the center recognizes the many sins America has committed in the name of faith and the Bible, from the slaughter of Native Americans and slavery, to anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic bigotry. But the contrition of the center is woefully insufficient. From the examples presented, you might be forgiven for thinking that we gave up our intolerant habits at the end of the 19th century. Like everything else in the exhibit, the facts are generously handpicked to support the centre’s narrative. There is no mention of 20th century efforts to suppress Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists and members of the LGBTQ community, or current efforts in cities across the country. use zoning to prevent American Muslims from building mosques.

It may not be a museum of Christianity, but it is a museum of Judeo-Christianity. On the centre’s website, its exhibition manager, Alan Crippen, argues that “the Good Book has been an influential and positive spiritual source and cultural force for what is good in America.” Sadly, this leaves out a large number of Americans whose religions do not use the Bible as the basis of their teachings, let alone those who identify as atheists. Marci Hamilton, a constitutional law scholar who began her career as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, told the Inquirer earlier this year that “the Bible did not play the part. disproportionate that they are trying to give him ”.

By being located opposite the Jewish Museum, the Faith and Freedom Center tries to put the two attractions on the same level. There is a big difference, however. The Jewish Museum simply suggests that American democracy created the conditions that allowed immigrant Jews to flourish. The Faith and Freedom Center asserts that religious faith, mostly Christian in type, is what made our democracy possible in the first place.

For all of its flaws, America has come to be more tolerant than most nations and with a greater commitment to freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion. But if you want to understand why, you’d better walk to the other end of the mall and visit the National Constitution Center.


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Merrick Garland blocks federal prosecutors from searching for journalists’ files

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Merrick Garland severely limited the ability of federal prosecutors to obtain tapes of journalists’ contacts when they investigated leaks of sensitive government information on Monday, curbing a long-standing practice that had sparked offenders. criticism in recent weeks, especially from President Biden.

In a note to federal prosecutors, Mr Garland said the agency’s past policies had failed to properly weigh the national interest in protecting journalists from forced disclosure of their sources, saying they needed to such protection “to inform the American people of how their government is working.”

Mr Garland had vowed he would prevent prosecutors from seizing information from reporters after recent revelations that former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly searched for and obtained 2017 phone records from Washington Post reporters , CNN and The New York Times while trying to identify their sources. This sparked outrage from lawmakers, press freedom organizations and Mr Biden, who said he would no longer allow such tactics.

Mr Garland, who as a federal judge has taken a strong stand in favor of journalists ‘rights and First Amendment protections, told lawmakers in June that the new policy would be the “most protective of journalists’ ability to do their job in history “. He has met with information officials to discuss their concerns at least twice in recent weeks.

The new policy includes exceptions for cases involving an agent of a foreign power or a member of a foreign terrorist organization, or where measures must be taken to “prevent an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm,” said the memo.

The three-page memo also said the ministry would support legislation codifying protections for journalists into law, going beyond the efforts of previous administrations, and giving Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco the responsibility of consulting others to develop new regulations on the matter.

Such legislation has not been a priority for lawmakers in recent years and would face an uncertain fate in Congress. Without becoming law, any rules passed by the Justice Department under Mr Garland could be overturned by a future administration.

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Media advocates applauded the decision. “The Attorney General has taken a necessary and critical step to protect press freedom at a critical time,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Journalists’ Committee on Press Freedom. “This historic new policy will ensure that journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal intrusion into their dealings with confidential sources,” said Mr. Brown.

Some former national security prosecutors said that while existing guidelines already made it difficult to subpoena journalists’ files and provided for the tool as a last resort, they expected the new memo to further limit such investigations.

“I think this will make leaks of classified information more difficult to investigate, but it was a compromise the department is prepared to make in order to provide greater privacy protection for journalists and their sources,” he said. said Kellen Dwyer, a former district attorney who was deputy. Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice and now works at the law firm Alston & Bird.

For years, prosecutors have used subpoenas and court orders to obtain journalists’ files in leak investigations, often after exhausting other options to identify suspects. Under the Obama administration, for example, the Justice Department used the tool for investigations involving reporting from the Associated Press and Fox News. Several former government employees and senior officials have been sued by the Obama Justice Department.

In one notable case in 2010, former Attorney General Eric Holder personally approved the seizure of the phone records and personal emails of Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen, who reported on a secret government report on Korea. North. An FBI search warrant request identified Mr. Rosen as a possible criminal “co-conspirator”.

In response to a backlash from media advocates and others, Holder added in 2013 new hurdles that prosecutors had to overcome before they could get subpoenas and search warrants targeting journalists. The measures included requiring prosecutors to give notice to a media organization before a subpoena could be issued to seize cases, unless the attorney general certifies that doing so would interfere with the investigation.

At the start of the Trump administration in 2017, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged a crackdown on classified information leakers and said the Justice Department would review policies on subpoena news organizations. At the time, Mr. Trump had repeatedly complained about leaks related to contacts between Russia and figures from his 2016 election campaign and the investigation by then-Special Advocate Robert Mueller, on these links. In June 2021, a Treasury Department official was sentenced to six months in prison for leaking sensitive financial information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others.

Mr Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, continued the practice, tasking a New Jersey federal prosecutor to work on the half-dozen leak cases he inherited.

Unsealed court documents last week show the Justice Department searched the files of three Washington Post reporters on December 22, the day before Mr Barr resigned, in a bid to identify sources in three articles . Prosecutors identified them by their publication dates: a May 2017 article detailing conversations between Mr. Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States at the time; a June 2017 report on the Obama administration’s struggles against Russian electoral interference; and a July 2017 story about conversations between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Sessions, which had the discussions when he was a United States Senator.

Prosecutors said in their court order request that they believe a member of Congress may have provided the newspaper with details of Mr. Kislyak’s conversations.

Trump’s Justice Department also seized communications records from some Democratic lawmakers in 2018, a revelation that sparked outrage from Democrats. Lawmakers themselves were not the target of the investigation, the Wall Street Journal previously reported, and their records were obtained because they had been in contact with one or more assistants that prosecutors suspected of having. disclosed classified information to the media.

Senior Justice Ministry officials have long questioned how forcefully prosecutors should press for the files of journalists looking for the sources of the leaks. For example, even as Mr. Sessions stepped up investigations into the leaks, behind the scenes some ministry officials rejected a more aggressive stance, the Journal reported.

In 2017, for example, law enforcement discussed with Mr. Sessions whether to relax the requirement that investigators exhaust other options to obtain information as part of prior leakage investigations. to subpoena journalists’ files, the people said. Mr Sessions asked his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, to review the policy, which officials ultimately refused to change.

Telephone recordings

More WSJ coverage of Trump Justice Department policy, selected by editors.

Write to Sadie Gurman at [email protected] and Aruna Viswanatha at [email protected]

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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This week in history: July 19 to 25

25 years ago: bombing of LTTE train kills dozens of workers in Sri Lanka

On July 24, 1996, a bomb attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Dehiwala station outside Colombo killed 64 commuters. 400 other people were injured. LTTE agents placed suitcase bombs containing more than 200 pounds of explosives in four cars during the height of the rush hour. The act deliberately targeted workers going to the suburbs of Sri Lanka’s capital. The train, which was due to leave Colombo Fort station after 5 p.m., was supposed to take city workers home after the day shift. The train was known as the “office train” and was extraordinarily crowded. More than 2,000 people were on board the day of the attack.

Sri Lankan soldiers and spectators stand near the exploded train in Dehiwala. (AP Photo / Eranga Jayawardena)

The Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee and forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party, issued a statement condemning the brutal attack by the LTTE on the working class, while explaining that the incident was the direct result of the racist war. against the Tamil people, stepped up by the Sri Lankan government.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s “People’s Alliance” consisted of her own Sri Lanka Freedom Party, one of Sri Lanka’s two main bourgeois parties, along with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, which broke with Trotskyism. in 1963-1964, and the Stalinist Communist Party. Sri Lanka Party, as well as several small bourgeois-populist parties. While using populist language, the Peoples Alliance pursued a chauvinistic policy towards the Tamil minority, which fueled support for the LTTE, and carried out vicious attacks on poor workers and farmers.

The link between the war and attacks on working class conditions was illustrated on the same day as the bombing when Kumaratunga addressed a meeting of small tea growers. She declared her government’s determination to remove economic subsidies and threatened to fire workers who are fighting for wage increases. “Lethargic civil servants and teachers who continue their old wars without being aware of the needs of the moment and of changes in society will face heavy penalties, including dismissal,” she said.

The RCL urged workers not to get drawn into the racist anti-Tamil campaign that was unleashed following the bombing by the ruling class. The party called on workers to establish their own independent defense committees to organize the safety of workers and their families. He urged them to oppose the government’s racist war and the government’s growing militarization.

The bombing, a previous bombing of Central Bank employees, and the continued harassment of Sinhala peasants in the Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces demonstrated the LTTE’s opposition to the unity of the Sinhalese and Tamil masses. The LTTE sought to prevent the development of a movement of workers and the oppressed against the Sri Lankan regime.

50 years ago: failed Communist Party coup in Sudan

On July 19, 1971, the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) attempted a coup against the government of the Democratic Republic of Sudan and ousted the country’s leader, Jaafar Nimeiry, from power. The blow was short lived, less than a week. On July 23, Nimeiry would be released and returned to power.

Years of immense political crisis in Sudan preceded the coup. Following a coup d’état in 1969 by the Free Officers Movement, Nimeiry led the North African country as chairman of the National Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the ruling junta where all the political power has been consolidated.

Initially, the SCP had given some support to the RCC government after the 1969 coup. However, fearing the development of a revolutionary movement among Sudanese workers, the RCC began an anti-Communist crackdown in March 1971. Nimeiry had announced the creation of a state-controlled political party called the Socialist Union of Sudan, which would essentially dissolve all parties, including the SCP, into a tightly-run organization. The RCC also forcibly seized control of the unions, where the SCP gained most of their support.

Many SCP leaders went underground, with most of the party’s operations going underground in the spring and early summer of 1971. Under these conditions, the SCP began to prepare for the coup. Status as of July 19. Under the leadership of the Stalinist bureaucracy in Moscow, the SCP turned not to the working class, but to its supporters within the nucleus of Sudanese military officers. The most prominent of this layer was Major Hashem al-Atta who would lead the coup and briefly serve as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces after surrounding the presidential palace with tanks and arresting Nimeiry.

Coup leader Hashem al-Atta

The SCP was the largest communist party in the Arab world, but its coup met with hostility, not only from the RCC in Sudan, but from all surrounding nations. Egyptian Anwar Sadat and Libyan Muammar Gaddafi opposed the SCP coup and supported Nimeiry and his return to power. These bourgeois nationalists, who balanced themselves between the Soviet Union and the imperialist powers, feared that the establishment of a Stalinist-led government in the region would destabilize their own fragile regimes.

Outside of members of the SCP itself, which had been substantially shattered by Nimeiry’s repressions, the coup had little popular support. Atta was unable to bring the army under his control, with the vast majority of generals and other officers continuing to support the RCC.

After a few days, forces loyal to Nimeiry released him from prison and arrested Atta and the other coup plotters, who were court martialed and shot. In the process, Nimeiry intensified his persecution of the SCP, arresting and executing its leaders and banning all unions and other communist-led organizations.

75 years ago: Zionist Irgun group bombs King David hotel in British Palestine

On July 22, 1946, the Zionist organization Irgun bombed the King David Hotel in British-controlled Palestine, killing 91 people and injuring 46 others. The terrorist attack was part of a series, based on the prospect of forcing Britain, or other great powers, to approve the creation of a Jewish state in the region. Among those who died were 41 Arabs, 28 British citizens, 17 Jews and members of several other national groups.

British forces in Palestine

The attack received wide international coverage, not only because of the large number of casualties, but also because the King David Hotel was the seat of the British mandatory authorities who oversaw the occupation of Palestine. It was conceived as a retaliation for a security crackdown carried out by the British authorities against militant Zionist organizations.

Well-organized Irgun agents planted bombs in the hotel’s basement, as well as in a cafe next door and on a nearby street. Some spectators who gathered to see the aftermath of the explosion at the latter location were touched by the detonations that followed. While members of the Irgun claimed that a warning was sent to the hotel nearly half an hour before the attacks, details were disputed and no evacuation was carried out.

The attack had apparently been discussed beforehand within the wider Zionist community. However, its aftermath and the international response resulted in the breakdown of the alliance between the Irgun and several other groups, including the Haganah, the military wing of the Labor Zionists, which took a nominally leftist stance.

Unlike some of the other Zionist organizations, the Irgun only began hostilities against the British after it was clear that the Allied Powers would be victorious over Nazi Germany. His perspective was not based on any form of anti-colonialism, but included scathing denunciations of the “Arabs,” including calls to expel them from the region or to subdue them.

At the time of the bombing, the Irgun was led by Menachem Begin, who would later become Israel’s sixth prime minister, from June 1977 to October 1983.

100 years ago: Major military defeat of the Spanish in occupied Morocco

On July 22, 1921, the Berber rebels (known as the Rifis after the Rif mountain range), led by Abd el-Krim, inflicted a major defeat on the Spanish imperialist troops at Annuel in the northeast of the Morocco, triggering the Rif war. The Spaniards, who controlled areas along the coast including the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, sought to push inland and east, ignoring Abd el-Krim’s warnings.

Abd-el Krim on the cover of TIME magazine

A Spanish general, Manuel Fernández Silvestre, had occupied the village of Annual in January with several thousand Spanish soldiers. Silvestre’s lines of communication were poor, and his army ran out of ammunition in the summer. Five thousand Spanish soldiers clashed with 3,000 irregular fighters from the Rif on July 21.

The Spaniards began a retreat, which turned into a rout. Spain sent reinforcements but these were also defeated by the Rifis. In total, Spain lost more than 20,000 soldiers as well as large quantities of arms and ammunition. Abd el-Krim reportedly remarked: “In one night, Spain provided us with all the equipment we needed to wage a great war. Silvestre was reportedly killed, although his remains have never been definitively identified. Abd el-Krim established a Republic of the Rif.

The Rif War has its origins in more than 20 years of aggression in North Africa by the imperialist powers, which was a source of persistent inter-imperialist conflict. During the Algeciras conference of 1906, France and Spain had claimed Morocco and distributed the areas of influence. Despite attempts to modernize its army, the Sultanate of Morocco, which had ruled a unified state since the 17th century, collapsed under European incursions and retained control of only six cities.

Germany also had claims on Morocco, which almost led to a war between the great powers after the Agadir crisis of 1911, when a German gunboat entered a French-held port on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. and raised the possibility of war. The incident sparked mass anti-war protests in Europe led by social democratic parties. The crisis was part of a series of inter-imperialist skirmishes that led to World War I.

In 1912, Spain established, with French and British agreement, an official protectorate in Morocco.

After World War I, Spain and France both renewed their colonial ambitions in Morocco, sparking the rebellion of Abd el-Krim.

The Rif War of 1921, which the French joined, lasted another five years. In a retaliatory war for the defeat of Annual, the Spanish indiscriminately used chemical weapons against civilians. Some Berber organizations claim today that the residues of these weapons still poison the inhabitants of the region. The war ultimately ended with the defeat and capture of Abd el-Krim, who died in exile in Cairo in 1963.


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Oregon legislature’s resume under scrutiny before explosive resignation

Nate Monson, bottom left, addresses lawmakers at a hearing in April.

Screenshot / OPB

When he resigned last month, making explosive allegations upon his exit, the official responsible for handling harassment complaints in the Oregon Legislature had reason to believe he would be out of office any longer. .

Lawmakers and human resources officials had recently learned a number of concerning things they missed when hiring Nate Monson, according to documents released by the state legislature on Thursday.

This included the fact that Monson had distorted his work history and offered misleading references. He had also quit a former job in Iowa over concerns about harassment and financial mismanagement which were not communicated to officials in Oregon until nearly two months after Monson began working here in as Interim Legislative Fairness Officer.

“I am deeply disturbed by the information shared with me today,” wrote Jessica Knieling, Acting Director of Human Resources at the Legislative Assembly, in a June 8 memo released to the OPB and officials. from the Capitol. “Frankly, when I got the first email today, I had hoped it was just a misunderstanding.”

Nothing in the memo contradicts Monson’s claims when he resigned on June 15. In his own note to lawmakers, Monson detailed a history of unpaid legal bills, delayed investigations, unethical contracts, sloppy record keeping and lax responsiveness to the Office of Legislative Fairness. d resumed. The office, established in 2019, is a kind of clearinghouse for complaints about harassment, retaliation and other misconduct.

Related: In flashy outing, former Capitol Hill official expresses top concerns about how Oregon is handling harassment

“We want you to know that we take his allegations relating to the state of the office very seriously, ”wrote the four lawmakers who chair the Joint Conduct Committee, Monson’s direct supervisors, in an email sent to Capitol Hill Thursday. “We are now taking the time to gather all the relevant facts to verify the veracity of the allegations …”

But recently released records provide more context for Monson’s sudden departure, suggesting he knew he had little future on Capitol Hill as scrutiny intensified.

Monson declined to comment on the note on Friday, citing advice from legal counsel.

It is not known what due diligence the legislative administrators performed when hiring Monson. Records released this week show that they emailed at least one of his referrals. But a simple Google search would have detected a gap much earlier in the hiring process.

Officials began to learn much more about their new recruit in June, after a fact various city his resume claim that he worked for six months at the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change.

That was not true, as a call and email made clear to legislative administration officials from Coalition Executive Director Luana Nelson-Brown. According to the memo, Nelson-Brown explained that she had been “friendly colleagues” with Monson, and that “they spoke of him coming to work for the coalition, but never anything close to what he wrote down. on his curriculum vitae “.

Nelson-Brown further explained that his board would not allow him to hire Monson because of the “problems” he encountered while working for Iowa Safe Schools, an affiliate organization that Monson had led for 13 years before she was fired in 2020. According to the memo, Nelson-Brown suggested that Monson’s “oversight and racism” had become a concern in this role and that a financial audit by the attorney general’s office Iowa was underway.

“Nate might be good for certain roles in the Legislature, but Equity is not one of them,” the note said, summing up what Knieling reported hearing from Nelson-Brown.

As he delved into the matter, Knieling learned that not all Monson’s references were what they appeared. He had listed a reference as a board member of the Iowa Safe Schools, not pointing out that this person was a high school student who acted as a student representative, but had no supervisory authority.

Another reference, listed by Monson as a board member of the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change, had never been on that organization’s board of directors, a fact Knieling said he discovered with research. Google months after Monson was hired. In fact, the person had served on the board of directors for the Iowa for Safe Schools, she wrote.

As part of its investigation in June, Knieling also spoke with current leaders of Iowa Safe Schools, who said the organization severed ties with Monson in November 2020, but declined to provide many details. . Knieling learned, she said, that Iowa Safe Schools had “discovered financial irregularities,” but gave no details.

“The [ISS] The chairman of the board said she would have serious concerns about him in such a role, ”Knieling wrote in the June 8 memo, referring to Monson’s work as head of legislative fairness. . “I asked if he had engaged in unlawful harassment or discrimination. She said she wouldn’t say illegal, but that had been very inappropriate.

In interviews while considered for the role on Capitol Hill, Knieling wrote, Monson told officials he “intentionally quit” his job with the Iowa Safe Schools.

Knieling’s memo was written a week before Monson submitted his resignation. Monson’s direct supervisors, the chairmen of the Joint Steering Committee, suggested in their email Thursday that he was aware that concerns had arisen that would prevent him from moving from an “interim” role to a permanent one.

“Given the level of trust and integrity required by the LEO position, we, as the Co-Chairs, have decided to schedule a meeting of the Joint Steering Committee to review Mr. Monson’s employment in light. of this new information, “the lawmakers wrote. , the senses. Floyd Prozanski and Chuck Thomsen, and Representatives Julie Fahey and Ron Noble. “Mr. Monson has been advised of the plan to schedule a meeting and has chosen to tender his resignation.”

The substantive concerns Monson alerted lawmakers to on his way remain – and have sparked a great deal of interest in a legislature still grappling with how to handle harassment.

“When I started, there were no records, electronic documents, scheduled training, and unpaid invoices, resulting in investigations averaging 10 months in the past year.” Monson wrote in his June 15 resignation letter. “There have been outstanding cases where individuals have tried to file a case but have received no response. The gravity of the situation means that justice is not being served to those who have come forward and can cost taxpayers millions of lawsuits due to the liability of not having proper procedures, documentation and oversight. “

In their email to officials and staff at the Capitol, the chairmen of the Joint Steering Committee said they had “taken action” to address one of Monson’s concerns: that financial constraints had driven investigators stop work, delaying harassment investigations. They also suggest that the unpaid bills had not resulted in work stoppages, as Monson claimed.

The two outside investigators who do contract work for the legislature did not answer questions from the OPB about Monson’s claims.

The email sent Thursday suggests that the chairmen of the joint steering committee were widely releasing the note on Monson in light of media requests. The documents communicated to the OPB are more complete than what has been requested.

Despite the difficult end of his term, at least one of Monson’s former supervisors has positive things to say.

“I thought Nate Monson was the right fit for the job,” Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinnville, told OPB last week. “There were some things he obviously felt he needed to move on.”

In a job that demands confidentiality – and whose activities are often shielded from lawmakers because of it – Noble has said he believes Monson is capable of acting as an auditor of some sort for the way the office was managed before his tenure.

“I don’t think the system is broken,” Noble said. “I think Nate’s arrival exposed some of the weaknesses in the logistics of the post and the supervision of the post.”

Lawmakers are in the process of seeking Monson’s replacement.


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Socrates Sculpture Park welcomes new ruler as search for permanent director continues – QNS.com

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Socrates Sculpture Park has a new leader – for now.

Suzy Delvalle has been appointed interim executive director, succeeding John Hatfield, who held the position for almost a decade before stepping down in October 2020. The search for a new director is underway.

The Artist Oasis on Vernon Boulevard was created by a coalition of artists and community members who transformed an East River landfill and illegal landfill into an open studio and exhibition space in 1986.

“John Hatfield has grown the organization in countless ways over his nine years here, including doubling the operating budget and staff size, and opening new exhibitions that have been critically acclaimed,” said declared Delvalle. “I look forward to working with the rich family of artists, staff and collaborators of Socrates, as well as the surrounding community. “

Delvalle was most recently President and Executive Director of Creative Capital, a national non-profit organization that supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, advice, gatherings, and career development services. She is known as an “ardent defender of art and artists”.

With over 20 years of leadership experience in the cultural sector, Devalle has dedicated his career to improving the impact of mission-based organizations and creating opportunity and equity in the arts.

“The board is delighted that Suzy is taking on the role of interim director during this important time for the organization,” said Ivana Mestrovic, secretary and treasurer of the board of directors of Socrates. “Suzy brings a wealth of experience working with artists and communities, and we have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead Socrates as we continue to seek a permanent executive director.”

As the second director in the history of Creative Capital, Delvalle has overseen some of the most dramatic changes in the organization’s two-decade history. Under his leadership, Creative Capital increased its annual budget by 20% and expanded the board of directors with 12 new active members while creating a National Advisory Board. It has also expanded its services to artists by instituting Creative Capital Awards and annual retreats.

“Suzy has been a valued colleague in the field for many years, and I am delighted to hand over the reins to her,” said Hatfield. “I am extremely proud of the progress of the organization over the past nine years and of all that the board, staff and I have accomplished together.

Hatfield will be joining NYU faculty in September to teach a course for their graduate program in Museum Studies.

While exploring other activities, he will continue to serve in an advisory capacity on the Socrates Capital Project to build a permanent structure in the 5-acre park, which sits on the ancestral land of the Lenape, Canarsie and Matinecock peoples.


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