Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Follow-up on Health Care

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 17:  Democratic presid...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

In December, a blizzard put the kabosh on our scheduled healthcare discussion, but here's the result of the discussions that took place across the country --

Dear Friend,

In December 2008, President Obama’s transition team invited Americans to host and participate in Health Care Community Discussions to talk about how to reform health care in America. You are receiving this e-mail because you were one of the over 9,000 Americans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that signed up during the holiday season to host a Health Care Community Discussion. Thank you for bringing together your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to discuss health care reform. The response from communities across the country was overwhelming – over 30,000 Americans participated in a discussion group in their neighborhood.

Members of President Obama’s health team and a group of volunteers read each of the 3,276 discussion reports submitted to the transition team’s website, and your suggestions were communicated to the President in “Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care Community Discussions.” You can read the full report delivered to the President HERE. Also, you can read a sample of the community discussion reports submitted from across the country on www.HealthReform.gov.

Two weeks ago, the President brought together lawmakers, insurance industry executives, physicians, and a group of everyday Americans who like you hosted community discussions around the country to the White House to begin gearing up for the health care reform effort. Building on the forum held at the White House, five cities across the country are hosting White House Regional Forums on Health Reform. Governors are partnering with White House officials at the regional forums to solicit input from Americans across the ideological spectrum on how to reform our health care system. Today, you can watch the regional forum in Greensboro, North Carolina live on www.HealthReform.gov beginning at 10:30 ET. You can view pictures and watch videos from the previous health care forums that have taken place across the country HERE.

If you want to hear what President Obama and his administration are saying about health care reform or to submit a question for one of the upcoming regional forums, visit www.HealthReform.gov.

Thanks again for your involvement in this important cause.

Jenny Backus
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3/25/09: "Girls' & Women's Health & Rights" talk at Vassar

Come hear Adrienne Germain speak about:

Helping the Obama Administration Meet its Global Commitment to Girls' and Women's Health and Rights

5:30 PM on Wed., March 25
Villard Room,
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York

Since her pioneering work for women's equality
in the 1970s and 1980s with the Ford Foundation, Adrienne Germain has reshaped global policy on women's health and human rights. A skilled strategist and negotiator on U.S. government delegations to world conferences on population, women, and development from 1993 to 2000, she helped revolutionize the way the world views population policy and funding by making women's sexual and reproductive rights and health

Under Ms. Germain's leadership, the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) has created international policy innovations, led global advocacy for sexual and reproductive rights and health, and helped build local organizations in countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Sponsored by:
American Association of University Women Poughkeepsie Branch
Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill
Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance
Hudson River HealthCare
League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region
Operation Donation
Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley
Vassar College: Economics Department, Health Service, Health Education Office, International Studies Program, and Women Studies Program
Vassar College Amnesty International
Vassar Uganda Project
World Affairs Council of the Mid Hudson Valley

Friday, March 13, 2009

3/16/09: Greene County public hearing on voting machines

How to save our levers:
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. It only took one e-mail and a phone call or two to get Schuyler County Legislators to pass a resolution to keep our levers, just like Ulster, Columbia, and Dutchess counties have done.

So, think what you can do in Greene County. Call and e-mail your county representatives today. Ask all of your friends, too. Get the buzz going!

And, show up at the Greene County hearing at 6 PM on Monday, March 16, at the County Office Building, 411 Main Street, Catskill. (Use the back entrance on Water Street.)

Our trustworthy levers now comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). But New York State Legislators still plan to switch to costly computers that can be easily hacked and are prone to breakdowns,
whether they are certified or not.

Greene County's Operations Committee will decide whether to ask the full County Legislature to pass a resolution urging New York State to keep our levers. The Committee is eager to hear what the citizens of Greene County think. If you want to speak at the hearing, let your legislator know beforehand.

For more information or to carpool, call or e-mail Irene Miller, 518-678-3516, imiller1@hvc.rr.com

Greene County Legislators (area code 518)

District 1 (Catskill):
Forest Cotton, 947-0018, fcotton@discovergreene.com
Karen Deyo, 943-9238, kdeyo@discovergreene.com
Dorothy Prest, 943-9014, dprest@discovergreene.com
Keith Valentine, 943-5616, kvalentine@discovergreene.com

District 2 (Coxsackie):
Charles Martinez, 731-8825, cmartinez@discovergreene.com
Wayne Speenburgh, 731-6507, wspeenburgh@discovergreene.com

District 3 (Athens):
Ray Brooks, 945-2912, rbrooks@discovergreene.com

District 4 (Greenville):
Kenneth Dudley, 966-5424, kdudley@discovergreene.com

District 5 (New Baltimore):
James Van Slyke, 756-3675, jvanslyke@discovergreene.com

District 6 (Prattsville, Ashland, Windham, Jewett):
James Hitchcock, 734-3194, jhitchcock@discovergreene.com

District 7 (Halcott, Lexington, Hunter):
Larry Gardner, 263-3747, lgardner@discovergreene.com

District 8 (Cairo):
Harry Lennon, 622-3876, hlennon@discovergreene.com
William Lawrence, 622-3707, wlawrence@discovergreene.com

District 9 (Durham):
Sean Frey, 821-1973, sfrey@discovergreene.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Show your support to rescind these regulations

Help Rescind Harmful Reproductive Health Regulations

Take Action!

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 21:  U.S. President Geor...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This week the Obama administration proposed a rule that would rescind a harmful regulation targeting reproductive health and family planning services published in the final hours of President George W. Bush's term of office. This Obama administration action is a critical first step, a response influenced by the vocal opposition of AAUW Action Network members and others, but now we must take the next step by responding to the administration's call for public comments. Act now and support rescinding this harmful regulation.

The Bush administration ignored opposition from citizens, members of Congress, physicians and women's health groups, and even officials in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when it finalized a midnight regulation that would severely limit women's access to reproductive health and family planning services, including some of the most common forms of birth control. In contrast, this proposed new rule and public comment period highlight a new outlook on reproductive rights and women's access to health care services and information.

The Bush "conscience" regulation allows health care employees to refuse to provide any health care service that is in any way contrary to their personal beliefs, without any consideration for patients' guaranteed access to medical care and complete health-related information. This allows individuals to withhold crucial information about health services and refuse to refer patients to other locations where such services could be obtained. It also grants refusal rights to any member of a health care facility's paid or voluntary staff, from appointment schedulers to janitorial staff. Further, the rule may undermine state laws protecting women's access to reproductive health care, including those requiring health insurance plans that provide drug benefits to cover contraceptives as well; laws that require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape survivors; and laws that require pharmacies to fill patients' valid medical prescriptions. Act now and support rescinding this harmful regulation.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Spaces Available for Val-Kill tour

Fala and Eleanor Roosevelt.Image via Wikipedia

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Leadership Skills at Val-Kill

The National Park Service has opened up the tour for more people to participate in the house tour at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 28th following the 10:30 am to noon presentation by Kathleen Durham, Executive Director of Val-Kill. She will discuss Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way - Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage by Author Robin Gerber, historian and leadership educator, Senior Fellow, Academy for Leadership, University of Maryland. Bring a box lunch; we'll provide drinks & desert. Enjoy the grounds. The tour of Val-Kill Cottage at 1pm is also free of charge. Reservations required to AAUW, please contact President Garnette Arledge at 845-201-0001 or kaauw12401@gmail.com. ###

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another Woman Who's Making a Difference

This week was International Women's Day and the premiere of A Powerful Noise. I had a particularly challenging and over-scheduled work week, and I missed participating earlier. I can't let it pass without comment though.

Here's to all the women who work to make this world a better place. It gets discouraging, no doubt. But there are many who inspire us. Today, the NY Times profiled Ela Bhatt and the Self-Employed Women's Association she founded in India.

The Saturday Profile - An Empire for Poor Working Women, Guided by a Gandhian Approach - Biography - NYTimes.com: "THIRTY-FIVE years ago in this once thriving textile town, Ela Bhatt fought for higher wages for women who ferried bolts of cloth on their heads. Next, she created India’s first women’s bank.

Since then, her Self-Employed Women’s Association, or SEWA, has offered retirement accounts and health insurance to women who never had a safety net, lent working capital to entrepreneurs to open beauty salons in the slums, helped artisans sell their handiwork to new urban department stores and boldly trained its members to become gas station attendants — an unusual job for women on the bottom of India’s social ladder."

Read her story. Ela Bhatt inspires me. Maybe she'll inspire you, too.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Celebrate International Women's Day March 5th

A Powerful Noise- The impact of one voice; the power of many -
Hanh is an HIV-positive widow in Vietnam. Nada, a survivor of the Bosnian war. And Jacqueline works the slums of Bamako, Mali. Three very different lives. Three vastly different worlds. But they share something in common: Power. These women are each overcoming gender barriers to rise up and claim a voice in their societies. Through their empowerment and ability to empower others, Hanh, Nada and Jacqueline are sparking remarkable changes. Fighting AIDS. Rebuilding communities. Educating girls.

This live event in theaters across the country will bring together women and girls to celebrate and gain strength from the stories of three women in very different worlds who empowered themselves to fight poverty and change the world.

Thursday evening, March 5th.

The closest theater for us: Crossgates Stadium 18 - Albany
Sponsored by CARE and AAUW.

Human rights & Greg M. @ the UN

On January 30, I was fortunate to be able to attend Protecting Human Rights: The United Nations – Our Schools, at the UN Headquarters in New York City. This event, the 11th in a series of annual conferences for educators and concerned citizens, was organized by the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) and the UN Department of Public Information (UN/DPI).

A record 800 people attended (32 were AAUW members). As we filed into the huge conference room, we each received a handy tote bag. Inside, I discovered a folder chock full of useful handouts, and a lovely surprise, a copy of Three Cups of Tea, a gift from the keynote speaker.

The full-day program focused on what each of us can do to promote an understanding of human rights. In the morning, Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director of the NY Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an impassioned talk on The 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Challenges and Opportunities. The afternoon session included a panel on Teaching about Human Rights with the dynamic Shulamith Koenig, President of the People's Movement for Human Rights Learning and a live, interactive videoconference with students and teachers in British Columbia, Cameroon, and Pakistan.

This year’s keynote speaker was Greg Mortenson, co-author of the bestseller Three Cups of Tea (which just came out in a young readers’ edition and a children’s picture book edition) and co-founder of the non-profit organizations Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace. We learned in his introduction that he had just come from Washington, D.C., where he was meeting with members of the U.S. Senate and Congress, as he is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Greg spoke and showed slides about his background and the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and showed a brief video about Pennies for Peace. Afterward, various schoolchildren who had been collecting for this worthy cause presented him with checks from their fundraising efforts.

During his talk, Greg noted that the publishers of Three Cups of Tea insisted on using the subtitle One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism … One School at a Time on the book cover. He was not happy about this and met with them to tell them so. They informed him that he didn’t know anything about the publishing business. He made a deal with them – if the hardcover didn’t do well, he wanted to use his subtitle on the paperback. Hardcover sales were not as brisk as expected, so when the paperback came out, Greg got his wish. The paperback's subtitle is: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time. Book sales skyrocketed!

At the end of the day, I took the opportunity to browse through the UN Bookstore. By the time I closed it down and returned to the conference room, the book-signing line was down to a dull roar. I queued up, and was thrilled to meet Greg, shake his hand, express my heartfelt thanks for all he has accomplished, and get his autograph on my book. What a great day!