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Archive for September, 2011

Book Review, by Kathryn Atwood

September 18, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

“Girl in the Belgian Resistance: A Wakeful Eye in the Underground”
A Memoir by Fernande K. Davis

Kathryn Atwood

Beach Lloyd Publishers

ISBN 978-0-9792778-7-0

Memoirs written against a particular historical backdrop can make that history come alive in clarifying and startling ways. “Girl in the Belgian Resistance” is a marvelous example. Fernande Keufgens was 16 years old when her native Belgium was invaded by Nazi Germany in May of 1940. Fernande’s father, a veteran of the first world war, was quite prescient: not only did he foresee the Nazi invasion of Belgium but he also assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that the Nazis would force occupation teenagers to work in German munitions factories.

Since the Keufgens lived in a village very close to the Belgian-German border, he sent Fernande to live and work at a private home in Andenne, a Belgian town further away from Germany, in January of 1940, months before the invasion.

Fernande traveled back to Montzen Gare after the invasion, desperate to learn how her family had fared but she eventually returned to Andenne. However, her father’s prediction – and Nazi occupation officials – finally caught up with her: she was ordered to report back to the Montzen Gare train station or her father would be arrested.

She appeared on the designated day and signed in at the train station in order to prevent her father’s imprisonment, but rather than work in a factory which kept the Nazi war machine supplied, she jumped the train and immediately joined a resistance group with whom she stayed and worked for the duration of the war.

Davis has a very concise writing style which simultaneously manages to include loads of near-cinematic details. For instance, she clearly depicts the angst involved in pre-invasion rumors in just a few clipped sentences: “People were nervous and fearful. Talk of war was everywhere. Would there be another war? Would German invade us again? Would our army be able to stop them?”

In the next paragraph she describes the invasion with equal clarity and concision: “Sirens screamed through the dawn of our peaceful Andenne. We ran out into the garden and street to stare up at the sky. We saw what we thought was a squadron of the Belgian Air Force approaching, only to be horrorstruck at the sight of swastikas on the tails of the planes.”

The book contains many photographs and not only includes Davis’s experiences but also that of her family back home, a choice that just occasionally causes a slightly confusing time-line. But this is a very minor problem: in the main“Girl in the Belgian Resistance” paints a very clear picture of one aspect of Nazi-occupied Belgium and is an excellent WWII-era memoir.

Analysis of New 2010 Census Poverty Data – September 2011

September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) Analysis of New Census Data Shows Record Numbers of Women in Poverty, Without Health Insurance

Record numbers of women were living in poverty — and extreme poverty — according to an analysis of 2010 Census data by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). The poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest in 17 years. The extreme poverty rate among women climbed to 6.3 percent in 2010 from 5.9 percent in 2009, the highest rate ever recorded. Over 17 million women lived in poverty in 2010, including more than 7.5 million in extreme poverty, with an income below half of the federal poverty line.

In addition, the percentage of women under 65 without health insurance increased from 19.2 percent in 2009 to 19.7 percent in 2010, the highest rate recorded in more than a decade. The number of women younger than 65 without health care coverage increased to 19 million

September is Hunger Action Month

September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

by Tara Covelens, Regional Development Coordinator

1 in 6. That’s the number of Americans who will struggle with hunger today.
The need in this country is tremendous – but so is the impact that YOU can have!

Did you know that September is Hunger Action Month? Join people throughout the
country in taking action against hunger during September. What can you do?

Visit www.pittsburghfoodbank.org/hungeractionmonth and www.hungeractionmonth.org
for more information, and to watch a Hunger Action Month commercial starring Matt Damon!
Check out our 30 Ways in 30 Days calendar and take action against hunger!
Today’s Way: Donate online!
Friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for up-to-date Hunger Action Month info!
Join our Virtual Paper Plate Campaign to let Senator Toomey know that food policy is
vital to keep Pennsylvanians healthy!
Tell a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague about Hunger Action Month.
Encourage them to take action with you!

Creating CALM…

September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Feng Shui

By Yvonne Phillips

Feng Shui expert Yvonne Phillips tells how attention to detail improves your dog’s life
For thousands of years, people have employed the principles of feng shui to ensure they live the happiest, healthiest lives possible. The ancient Chinese practice aims to generate positive chi—or energy flow—through the strategic placement of furniture and other objects in both homes and offices. But can feng shui improve the lives of pets, as well? Yvonne Phillips, one of America’s leading feng shui experts, says the answer is a resounding yes. Here, she explains.
How, exactly, do dogs fit into a home’s feng shui?
Pets bring an uplifting and loving life for force to the home environment. For an owner, simply having a pet is a feng shui cure in itself. It can significantly impact the quality of a person’s life and, as research has shown, improve health and happiness. Because pets can enhance the feng shui in any home, ensure you’re doing your part to provide an uplifting environment for them as treasured members of the family.

So you’re saying that just having a dog is a feng shui plus?
Caring for pets brings an increased sense of stability, grounding, and daily order. Along with the health benefits of taking dogs for walks or playing with them, they remind us to just be in a fast-paced world. The positive chi life force radiates off happy, well-cared-for pets, and their movement throughout the home helps to circulate that energy. Fang shui recognizes the symbology of animals—the reason many Chinese restaurants have aquariums is that fish represent success. Similarly, dogs symbolize protective energy and teach us unconditional love.

Can I use feng shui to make my dog happier and healthier?
Feng shui honors the interconnectedness of all things, so, much like a neglected plant or pile of clutter, a neglected pet affects the energy of the entire home. And just as your pet can uplift your home, you, in turn, can strengthen your pet by uplifting his surroundings. Animals are naturally drawn to the best energy in a room or a house, so you’ll see by watching them where the chi is already flowing. By replicating that energy throughout your space, you’ll enhance your pet’s overall health and happiness.

What is the first change to make?
The most important feng shui consideration is cleanliness. People need a clean home environment, and so do pets, which means their spaces should be fresh and sanitized. A pet should feel safe, secure, and comfortable in the areas where he eats or sleeps. Provide fresh water daily, and be sure soap residue is thoroughly washed from his bowls. For easy access, keep doorways and window sills clear of debris; you want to minimize the danger of your pet knocking anything over. Whenever possible, use eco-friendly products to ensure your pet’s safety and your own.

Do the colors we decorate with have any effect on our animals?
To create a sense of calm, choose a pet bed that blends with your color scheme, or one in a neutral shade, rather than something loud and busy. And try to select bowls and plates in yellows or reds. If you have a finicky eater, red can energize him, while yellow is known to evoke a happy mood.

animals are
even more
sensitive than
we are to what’s
around them.

What’s the best place to set up an eating or sleeping area?
Choosing a quiet eating area for your pet—one that’s removed from noise and activity—allows him to eat more calmly. Eating and sleeping areas should be out of the traffic path of humans.

Does air flow affect the flow of energy?
Clean air is vital for good feng shui; avoid staleness and pet odors by letting as much fresh air as possible circulate throughout the house.

What about the lighting in your house?
Pets are attracted to natural light and warmth and will always gravitate toward sunny spots near windows. On cloudy days, salt lamps—large salt crystals with light bulbs inside—or candles simulate natural light and they purify the air by releasing negative ions that counteract emissions from computers, TVs, and other electronic devices.

Can clutter actually increase a dog’s anxiety?
If you remember that our animals are even more sensitive than we are to what’s around them, it’s easier to understand their feelings. When your dog is eating and drinking, that’s his most vulnerable time, and he’s extremely aware of his surroundings. If you’ve located his food and water in an area beside a big stack of boxes that should have been in storage, he’ll feel as though someone is watching him, or even feel a little afraid: Is that pile of boxes coming after me?

How do you make sure your dog doesn’t upset the balance of energy in the house?
I’ve been in homes where young families are trying their best to handle to handle it all. Mom and Dad are working, they have small children, and they want to have the pleasure of an animal’s company. But here’s what I see when I enter their home: The parents are hollering at the dog to keep him from jumping on me, and that makes the children upset. The whole home’s vibe becomes negative, creating a ripple effect that isn’t good for anyone, including the dog. It’s only when the dog is conditioned to live in harmony with his human family that the home will emanate completely positive energy. •

Listening to Women—Obama’s Jobs Proposal

September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Feature Article

Listening to Women—Obama’s Jobs Proposal
By Ellen Bravo


Ellen Bravo is an activist and author. She serves as executive director of Family Values @ Work, a network of 15 state coalitions working for paid sick days and paid family leave (http://www.familyvaluesatwork.org/). The former director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, her most recent book is Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation. She is a WMC Progressive Women’s Voices alumna.

The jobs plan President Obama presented to Congress this week recognizes that out-of-work women need targeted help.

Darlene, a Milwaukee elementary school teacher, was one of hundreds laid off this summer because of the draconian cuts to education from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. She was also one of the women cheering about the latest jobs proposal from President Barack Obama, which he submitted to Congress on Monday this week.

“I was afraid he’d just talk about ‘shovel-ready’ jobs,” she said. “There aren’t many women at the other end of those shovels. But there are a lot of us who might get back to work if this proposal passes.”

The president’s plan would invest $30 billion to save jobs for up to 280,000 teachers. Given that women make up about 78 percent of teachers in this country, that’s a huge investment in women’s employment.

The American Jobs Act does include a lot of construction jobs, and—unlike the 2009 Recovery Act—$50 million in funds specifically geared towards job training for women, people of color and other under-represented groups in those jobs, targeting workers in the local areas where the jobs will be done. They would be trained for transportation-related activities, including construction, contract administration, inspection, and security. Another $10 million will help minority-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises gain better access to transportation contracts, in turn helping strengthen and grow small businesses that help drive local economies.

Jobs would also be created to fix the nation’s crumbling schools. The proposal calls for a robust $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools—that means creating jobs that have a direct tie to improved learning for our kids. Funds could be used for a broad range of purposes, including repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology.

President Obama is also proposing $5 billion to modernize community colleges—another area with many female employees—and to rehabilitate homes.

Several other features of the proposed plan would benefit women:
•Extending into 2012 additional unemployment benefits. That could help 2.6 million American women currently receiving unemployment insurance from losing their benefits as they continue to look for work.
•Extending the payroll tax cut, putting more money into workers’ pockets.
•Supporting legislation prohibiting discrimination against the long-term unemployed.
•Expanding work-sharing to help avoid layoffs. This would save jobs by allowing workers who reduce their hours to receive unemployment benefits for that time, and all stay on the job.

As the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has pointed out, the so-called recovery hasn’t worked for most people, but men are going back to work “at about three times the speed of women….Since October of 2009 when men’s and women’s total jobs numbers were virtually equal, women have failed to gain any jobs, whereas men have gained 1.6 million. The gap between women’s and men’s employment in August is currently 1.6 million.”

The point isn’t to slow down recovery in areas that benefit men, but to pay attention to the gender and racial impact of the current disastrous economic situation, and target programs accordingly. This time around, the administration has done a better job of getting input from women’s groups, and listening to their recommendations.

Here’s what else women’s groups are saying that must be heard: women will suffer from any changes to Social Security or Medicare that delay the age of eligibility or otherwise make these programs harder to use.

Instead of cutting these programs that working women and middle class families rely on, Congress should focus on cutting tax breaks for those who earn more than $106,000, the current wage base on which Social Security taxes can be imposed. Those who can afford to do so should pay their fair share.

Likewise, we need to close corporate tax loopholes that let giants like General Electric get tax refunds, and axe the right-wing suggestion to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps the working poor climb out of poverty.

We also need job retention policies like paid sick days and paid family leave. Bad times are the worst time to lose a job for being a good mother. Policies that protect working women will help strengthen our families and help the economy grow.

President Obama knows what we all know—this Congress is not about to pass the majority of his jobs proposals. That makes it all the more important to name the policies we really need.

If Congress doesn’t follow the president’s call to pass the American Jobs Act, it’s the responsibility of all of us to hold them accountable in the 2012 elections.


September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Feature Article


Top Ten Historic Advances for Women Now at Risk

1. Women’s Right to Vote (1920)
The 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, guaranteed American women the right to vote, although many women of color did not win full voting rights until 45 years later under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Currently women surpass men both in the proportion and numbers of women who vote.

Instead of advocating a 21st century voting system that is inclusive, conservative legislatures in 30 states are attempting to turn the clock back to the 19th century when only privileged white males were allowed to vote. Newly imposed ID requirements target students, people of color and women. As many as 32 million women of voting age do not have documentation with their current legal name.

2. Social Security Act (1935)
Social Security is the bedrock of older women’s financial security – virtually the only source of income for 3 in 10 women 65 and older – and a critical source of disability and life insurance protection throughout their lives.

Bills introduced by conservative Members of Congress would gut the current Social Security program and disproportionately impact women’s economic security. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction could propose benefit cuts, such as a reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment that would especially hurt women, or an increase in the retirement age.

3. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Taken together, these laws prohibit employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, including pregnancy, and national origin. The Equal Pay Act deals specifically with pay discrimination on the basis of sex. Title VII covers all employment actions, including hiring, promotion, pay, and termination, as well as all of the other terms and conditions of employment. Both have been central to expanding women’s economic opportunities and helping women achieve economic and retirement security.

Recent rulings by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court have weakened employment discrimination laws, placing women’s rights in the workplace in jeopardy and actions by conservative Senators have undermined efforts to restore these acts and strengthen employment protections for women, including filibustering the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010.

4. Medicare (1965)
Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program for seniors and younger adults with permanent disabilities. More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women.

The conservative majority of the House of Representative passed a fiscal year 2012 budget bill that will effectively end Medicare and replace it for those now under 55 with a voucher to buy private insurance. It would increase out-of-pocket health care costs, limit benefits and severely restrict the choice of doctors.

5. Medicaid (1965)
Medicaid provides 19 million women access to vital health services at all stages of their lives. In 2007 nearly seven in ten elderly individuals who relied on Medicaid for assistance were women. Additionally, Medicaid covers millions of mothers and more than one-third of all children.

Under the conservative House budget, Medicaid was targeted for deep budget cuts and converted into capped block grants to states. Medicaid still faces threats as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction deliberates and identifies at least an additional $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.

6. Title X, The National Family Planning Program (1970)
Title X is the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning services in the United States. Title X provides family planning and other preventive health care to more than 5 million low-income and uninsured women who may otherwise lack access to health care.

For the first time in history, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to completely defund Title X in 2011. Nine states have reduced family planning funding through legislative action and one (NJ) has eliminated it through the governor’s veto.

7. Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972)
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities. Title IX greatly expanded equal access to college education, professional and graduate schools and dramatically increased equal access to sports opportunities so that today girls and women represent over 40% of all college and high school athletes. Title IX also plays a vital role in increasing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by improving the climate for women in those fields.

A combination of administrative budget cuts, regulations, private school vouchers schemes, and pressure from congressional opponents threatens to weaken enforcement of Title IX.

8. Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (1973)
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment extended to a women’s decision to have an abortion.

Anti-abortion Members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make all abortions illegal and essentially overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2011, over 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced and 162 bills have been passed at the state level to restrict access to abortion and/or family planning.

9. The Violence Against Women Act (1994)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging the severity of crimes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and violence against women.

VAWA will expire at the end of 2011 unless it is reauthorized. The law needs to be updated and strengthened, including the addition of provisions that will help protect students on campus who are consistently subject to sexual harassment, assault and violence. Despite this, no action has yet been taken to ensure VAWA is reauthorized.

10. The Affordable Care Act (2010)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers maternity care, eliminates pre-existing conditions and prevents health plans from charging women more than men for the same coverage. ACA also covers well-woman preventive health services, such as an annual well-woman visit, contraceptives, mammograms, cancer screenings, prenatal care and counseling for domestic violence, as basic health care for women at no additional cost and includes the first federal ban on sex discrimination in health care programs and activities. Combined with other provisions, the ACA is an historic step forward for women’s health and economic security.

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA. Conservative senators, state legislators and governors have also pledged to repeal ACA and deny women, of all ages, critical preventive care service

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

September 17, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

The 2011 September equinox comes on September 23 at 4:05 a.m. CDT. It falls at 9:05 Universal Time (GMT

On the first day of fall—the autumnal equinox—day and night are each about 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days after the autumnal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going southward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.
September 23, 5:05 A.M. EDT

The four seasons are determined by changing sunlight (not heat!)—which is determined by how our planet orbits the Sun and the tilt of its axis.
The Autumnal Equinox signals the end of the summer months and the beginning of winter. At this time of year, days have been shortening since the Summer Solstice some three months earlier, and the Equinox is the point where nights reach the same length as days. After this point, the Sun will shine lower and lower on the horizon until the Winter Solstice in about three months’ time.

The equinoxes represent the points where the direction of poles are at a right angle to the Sun. They represent the point of transition from summer to winter, or from winter to summer. The Autumnal Equinox occurs in late September, and is named for the fact that it marks the end of summer and the entrance into winter of the northern hemisphere

Life Balance: Are You Taking Control Over Time or is Time Controlling You

September 01, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Feature Article

By Lisa Kanarek


How’s Your Time Management?

A friend told me about a time management seminar that lasted two days. I wondered why a seminar that focused on ways to save time could last two days, so a few weeks ago I went to one.

My suspicions were right…the speaker could have presented the information in three hours.
By the second day, I felt sorry for the people who were originally thrilled to have two days off from work. They were going to have to spend the next week catching up on e-mails, phone calls and everything else they missed while they were at the seminar.

Not all time management seminars are a waste of time, but you don’t have to go to a seminar to learn time management tips. Start with these four tips:

1.Throughout the day ask yourself if what you are doing is the best use of your time. Are you working on something that needs to be done today or could you do it another day?
You don’t have to check up on yourself more often than every three hours because then you’d be wasting time.

2.Determine your best time of day and schedule important tasks for that time. I used to say I was a morning person, then I was an afternoon person, and now I’m a “work when I can” person. Between my sons’ and my clients’ schedules, I need to be flexible. Concentrate on important tasks during the time you’re more productive and leave the less important tasks for when your energy level is low.

3.Sometimes you have to work around your family’s schedule. Before I started my own business and worked for a corporation, I represented several cartoonists including the late Jerry Bittle, creator of the comic strip “Geech.” Between 8:00 pm and 3:30pm Monday-Friday, Jerry would work on Geech, sleep for a few hours, have breakfast with his kids and then go back to sleep until about 11:00 am.
When his children came home from school, he was available to spend time with them.

4.Stay focused on the activity at hand. It’s easy to start one project and then bounce to another without finishing the first—at times I’m the perfect example. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted but haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped to. That’s when I refocus, stay on task and usually accomplish more the next day.

There’s not doubt that is takes time to save time. By changing a few things about how you work, you’ll save time in the long run.

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is founder of www.Working Naked.com, a website that helps small business learn various aspects of working from home through “how-to” articles, videos and product reviews. She is the author of five books, including Working Naked: A Guide to the Bare Essentials of Home Office Life, and has been a guest on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, and Public Radio’s Marketplace.
Follow Lisa on Twitter @WorkingNaked


September 01, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, SHOWCASE WOMAN

2011 GRACE ROBINSON, LUTC, MBA, State Farm Agent
Founder of Tomorrow’s Future, Inc.
Tomorrow’s Future Inc. is a mentoring, entrepreneurial and job-training program for at-risk teens founded in 1992 by Grace Robinson. Grace Robinson is a prominent business owner and a successful award-winning State Farm Agent. She was one of three African America women in the United States chosen by State Farm to become agents in the early 1980’s. She was the FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN female State Farm agent in Pennsylvania. As Grace overcame many barriers and opened doors previously closed to African American women, she became determined to find ways to share her success with her community, especially young people. Being a mother of two girls, she saw it was important to demonstrate a model to them, their peers and at-risk youth of how they could succeed in business. This led her to found the non-profit organization, Tomorrow’s Future, Inc, in 1992.

The mission of Tomorrow’s Future is to equip young people with the basic communication, employment and social skills needed to compete in today’s marketplace.
The six weekly sessions held at Point Park University bring a wide variety of diverse speakers to the program. They interact with the students to inspire them to go beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood community.
As part of the activities of the program, the students participate in a “job shadowing day” visit to the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank. They meet and interact with the top management of the bank. The course culminates in an essay contest where the students share their vision for changing the world. The top three winners receive a scholarship. Other students receive certificates and cash awards to commend them for their achievements and outstanding efforts during the course.

For many years Grace funded this program herself. It is only recently she has received additional funding to support the program. Under Grace’s guidance, and with a core of dedicated volunteers, over 370 students throughout Allegheny County have had the opportunity to participate in the program. Since the beginning, many of these students have entered college and started professional careers or their own businesses. For her dedication and untiring effort to young people through Tomorrow’s Future Inc., she was honored as a Jefferson Community Champion in 2002 and the Greater Pittsburgh YWCA Racial Justice Award in 2009.

Tomorrow’s Future, Inc. VISION: is to give hope and provide opportunity where previously there was none.

Grace Robinson, Founder & Board Chair 412-682-7383 Danielle Robinson, Executive Director: 412-398-9477
5108 Baum Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15224 412-682-7383
Vision: To give hope and provide opportunity where previously there was none.

Women’s Independent Press in Partnership with Sweet Tooth Communications, LLC

September 01, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education, Services offered by Women's Independent Press & Sweet Tooth Communications LLC

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