In the Decision rendered by Judge Platkin of Albany Supreme Court of New York against the Maetreum of Cybele some absolutely astounding logic was used in the ruling.

Apparently, and actually against established caselaw, providing “affordable housing” for women who probably otherwise be homeless or escaping abusive living situations is not charitable.  Let’s look at that because in direct sworn testimony no fewer than three priestesses of the Maetreum told the court, verified by the introduction of our “housing contract” into evidence, that we do not charge individuals we house on an emergency basis at all and never ask them for money. Now that’s “affordable” isn’t it?  Further, that anyone not housed on an emergency basis has signed an agreement stating their reason for living at the Maetreum is spiritual seeking in nature and that they have discussed those motives with one of the priestesses.    In other words, clearly charitable works aren’t charity… that a written statement of spiritual intent is not religious.

Another point was that only a minimal part of the property is “dedicated exclusively to religious services”.   Part is used to further the exempt activities of charitable housing of women in need, part is used to further educational work, specifically towards the Herstory of women and furtherance of the rights of women which happens to be part of our religious mission and also part of the exempt uses of a property under the section of New York law dealing with religious property tax exemption.  And actually, once again in both sworn uncontested testimony during the trial, it was made clear that other than the rooms specifically used as bedrooms, the entire property is used in furtherance of our religious mission at all times.

Although no legal standard in New York, as far as my own research bears out, has ever been established by law or court decision as to how many members of a congregation are required to be a “legitimate” religion serving a legitimate “public benefit” apparently we do not have enough congregants.  Once again in both sworn testimony and affidavits considered part of the evidence, it was established that our website receives more than 5 thousand hits each month, more than (at the time of the trial) 250 people following our postings on Facebook and hundreds of people have attended services at the Maetreum over the years, including a number of local women, women and men from all over the US, women from Europe, Australia and Canada, this somehow does not meet a standard that actually does not exist in law.  Not to mention our New and Full moon celebrations average more participants than the Episcopal church not 300 yards from our property at their weekly services.  They are exempt, we’re not worthy

The next point is astonishing in it’s alleged internal logic.  That our services are somehow “irregualar” in formal ritual and that because “prayer, meditation or spiritual activities (are) common in many homes” this somehow translates to our doing so “falls short of demonstrating that the property’s actual use is in the furtherance of religion”.  Read that one again…..it is amazing in it’s logic.  Engaging in regular prayer, meditation AND spiritual activities are not practising religion?  Because some secular households do so?  This one alone rips the veil off of what is going on here.  Nothing we do would be considered religious enough by this court, nothing at all when regular evening services are not practising religion.  By the way, as to the irregular nature of our rituals, once again in both sworn direct testimony and evidence provided without being contested, the court was aware we hold regular, open to the public and announced services every single new and full moon as well as the four equinoxes and solstices. We have never skipped a single new or full moon in all the years we have been incorporated.  That means roughly every two weeks there is a formal, open to the public ritual on the property in addition to our regular weekend activities virtually every weekend dedicated to some part of our religious mission.  Our schedule of our “irregular” services is promoted on Facebook, normally on the large “church” style sign at the front of the property AND published on our website.

Also astounding in the decision was the claim of “the absence of comprehensive, on site religious duties for the priestesses”  Our published organizational model which was introduced as evidence in direct form and as part of a book I wrote clearly outlines the duties of our priestesses even down to conflict resolution within the household, not to mention the myriad other duties spelled out… in detail.  Further, in claiming a legal precedence we cited does not apply, the judge had to rule my own direct testimony was somehow suspect when it was not even challenged on cross examination!  When the amount of personal time I spend was exactly the same as the Rabbi in that case, especially when you factor in time spent care-taking the property which has also been ruled by prior courts as part of exempt work.

The last point is simply unbelievable in it’s leaps of illogic.  Because prior to the Maetreum acquiring the property, the group that donated the property to the Maetreum had planned to use it for the charitable purpose of providing housing for women (and transsexual women as well) in need and because I alone of the original purchasers of the property am also a priestess (with exactly zero remaining personal financial interest due to the law)  that charitable use is somehow not only not charitable but also suspect!  We actually were not allowed to address any use of the property outside the years 2009 through 2011 by the judge and he uses what the property was used for BEFORE it belonged to the Maetreum of Cybele, a legally incorporated entity separate from the prior owners, to rule against us!

Charity is not charity, prayer, meditation and spiritual activities are not religious, duties of clergy clearly spelled out are not spelled out, activities every week and formal ones every two weeks are “irregular”, some mythical standard of number of regular congregants was not met.  We are a “legitimate” religion but actually exist to wrangle a tax exemption (not legitimate)  I am personally a liar with no actual evidence provided to justify saying that.  This is the basis of the decision when you parse the actual language beyond the wild and totally unsupported opinions of Dan Vincellete, attorney for Catskill in his closing alleged argument submitting in writing so as to avoid reaction.  Arguments already found invalid, not accurate, not based on actual law, completely unsubstantiated and probably discriminatory by another Judge.  I leave the motives behind this decision up to the speculation of my gentle readership.

BTW, the Goddess is pissed off.  It’s not nice (or wise) to fool (with) Mother Nature you know.


Western feminists are NOT silent

Francesca Tronetti, MA Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies

Doctoral Student in Philosophy and Religion at CIIS

While flipping through YouTube videos I came across a segment of the Michael Coren show from May 25th of this year in which he and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch discussed Amina Filali, a young Moroccan girl who committed suicide after being married to her rapist for a year.  The marriage was ordered by a judge, a practice which is common in Islamic states if the woman is not killed to redeem the family’s honor.

During the show Spencer said, “We’re absolutely immured to this, the human rights organizations don’t care, the Western feminists don’t care… The Western feminists are really incredible about it.  You see all these feminists who are very quick to criticize Christianity, criticize Judeo-Christian values, criticize the West, the United States and Canada and Europe for its alleged mistreatment of women.  But when you come to Islam then they suddenly start making excuses and they say women who are wearing burqas and are essentially slaves of their husbands, well their happy and it’s ok.  And it seems clear that the idea of multi-culturalism trumps feminism.”  Now I had several problems with this segment besides the fact that it only involved two white Western men discussing women in the Middle East.

The idea that Western feminists are passive and forgiving on this issue, that we make excuses and allow women to be subjugated because of multicultural indoctrination, i.e. liberalism, is ludicrous.  No woman who heard that story would say to themselves, ‘well it’s their culture so it’s alright.’  In Western culture we had similar practices; though these practices were typically not part of the legal code, instead they were just how things worked.  Western feminists, even non-feminists are outraged when women and girls are treated in this manner, not even as second-class citizens but as third-class creatures.  I suppose since women did not gather together and march through Washington on national television that Mr.’s Spencer and Coren assume we do not care.

Feminists, male and female do care; but we pick which battles we will make public and which we will keep in secret.  Feminists work behind the scenes in global groups to support women.  Yes, there are well publicized letter writing campaigns to free rape victims from being sentenced to prison for adultery.  But, there is more subtle support such as fundraisers to donate money and resources to women’s groups in Islamic states to create schools, legal defense funds, clinics, and a network of safe houses and embassy staff to help women leave these countries.  Women in Great Britain pushed for the creation of the Forced Marriage Unit, a police unit which intercedes on behalf of women and girls who are being forced into marriage to men outside the country, or are already in an abusive forced marriage and protects their rights as human beings.  Feminist groups in the United States and Canada work within their local communities to make police and social services aware of the plight of women and girls in forced marriages and help to keep girls in the West from being shipped off the marry strange men in Islamic countries where they will have no rights in court, no protection from abuse, and no support system to help them.

Consider the case of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan girl of 12 who was married to a Taliban fighter to settle her father’s debts.  After she attempted to flee his family’s home she was taken before the courts and for dishonoring her husband he was allowed to cut off her nose and ears, while his brother held her down and leave her to die.  The members of her husband’s family would not help her, her own uncle turned her away. Finally a member of her family took her to a non-Afghan hospital to save her life.  A hospital run by a U.S. Army medical unit.  The doctors and nurses there saved her life, taught her some English and with the help of the organization Women for Afghan Women Bibi came to the United States, underwent surgery to have a permanent prosthetic nose and became a symbol of the treatment of women in Afghanistan.  Feminists who support groups like Women for Afghan Women and Women Living Under Muslim Law are supporting protections for women in Islamic states.

It simply is not feasible for Western feminists to try to force a change in the status of women in Islamic states.  These are not states in which majority rule will decide law.  These are states in which a specific interpretation of the Holy Quran has given men complete and total power over women.  A state in which a man can rape a woman or young girl without repercussions, where a father can sell a daughter to settle his debts, and where a feud between families does not have to be settle by the men fighting but instead by one group of men raping a woman from the other group.  Those in power believe they are right in the eyes of God and no amount of public outcry or petitions by Western women will change their beliefs.

But do no mistake the quietness of feminists for acceptance.  We are working to change things for women in Islamic states.  We provide money and support for schools for girls, for lawyers to help child brides out of arranged marriages and when specific cases of barbaric treatment of women hit the news we have even forced the king of Saudi   Arabia to pardon a rape victim.  We publish the biographies of women who have escaped these countries, we make it known how the women are treated in these countries, and we make it known to our own leaders what we will and will not tolerate when it comes to dealing with the countries.  But mostly, we have Muslim and Middle Eastern women take the lead on the work in their countries, because they understand better than any well read anthropologist what the true situation is and how to combat it.  Western feminists work from behind the scenes, not pushing our immediate agenda for total equality overnight because we know that is not going to happen.  Instead, we support our feminist brothers and sisters around the world in a variety of ways, and work to change the lives of Muslim women in our own countries because we know our laws and we know which buttons to push with our governments.

Michael Coren clip: “Michael Coren & Robert Spencer On The Suicide Of Amina Filali” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb1FWUPCIgI


Guest posting from anthropology and women’s study Brandeis University graduate and leading fourth wave feminist thinker, Francesca Tronetti

Removing Transsexuality from the Transgender Umbrella:
A necessary action to improve the dialogue between Medical and Social Science Scholars.

April 3, 2012

In the fall of 2010 I began work on my Masters Thesis which examined the life experiences of transsexual teenagers and young adults compared to the life experiences of other queer youth.  During the research for the paper I found there to be a disconnect between the use of the terms transsexual(1) and transgender in the scholarly and academic literature versus my own understanding of the terms based on a decade of living with a group that includes transsexual women in upstate New York.  My observation was that transsexual individuals were a separate group of people who believed that they had been born with the wrong biological sex.  These women would undergo hormone replacement therapy, have their Adam’s apple shaved, have facial surgery to give them a more feminine appearance, and finally undergo sex reassignment surgery.  After this process was complete the person would often no longer identify as a transsexual, they would identify with their new sex or say they were a “person of trans history”.(2)  Transgender individuals that I had met more often identified as third gender or would say they were men who lived as women and wanted access to women’s space.  While some would have breast augmentation or electrolysis to remove facial hair they would never consider becoming anatomic women, they still enjoyed being anatomic men.

My research was looking at specific problems experienced by young people transitioning between sexes: changing one’s name and birth certificate to reflect their new sex, and having their SSI information changed to match the new name and sex.  I was frankly shocked that in the social science literature transsexual individuals were put under the umbrella term of transgender, a term which also includes: cross dressers, transvestites, androgynous, third gender, and other non-gender conforming individuals. (3)  When I examined the medical literature, such as the suggested revisions to the DSM V, I found that the two groups were defined separately.  Transsexual individuals were identified as having Gender Dysphoria, a mental condition in which the person believes that they were born into the wrong biological sex and that once the person was treated with hormones and reassignment surgery they were no longer classified as suffering from the disorder (4).  Conversely, transgender individuals who present themselves as the opposite gender without seeking medical augmentation of their sex more closely fit the classification of Transvestic Disorder, a condition that can not be treated. (5)

I suggest in this paper that the medical definition and distinctions between transsexual and transgender individuals need to be accepted and used by the non-medical academic community. I further assert that the continued incorporation of transsexual into transgender identity is a societal way of denying the medical reality of these individuals and is profoundly disrespectful to people of transsexual history.  In George Orwell’s 1984 the Ministry of Truth eliminated words in favor of newspeak, the idea being that if people did not have the words for change, freedom, oppression or revolution, then they could not express the ideas or feelings behind them.  By denying separate identity to transsexual individuals and people of transsexual history, scholars and academics are in essence denying their specific psychopathology, medical and social service needs, ignoring the different types of prejudice and oppression they endure, and how they negotiate the world around them.

Many transgender activists support the use of transgender as an umbrella term for all gender non-conforming individuals.  They claim it is easier for activists to organize around this term for people who do not fit into the categories of Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual.  In this way their concerns and experiences can be recognized as unique in greater the LGB community (6).  However, umbrella terms which include groups with vastly different needs and identities can be more limiting than separate terms because the larger group identity can mask or destroy the identity of the smaller group; this masking of identity can cause problems with public understanding of the smaller group.

Most transsexual women, and women of history, feel that the use of transgender as an umbrella term is detrimental to their quest for medical and social acknowledgement and equal protection.  According to Cathryn Platine (7) (well known activist, writer, and woman of history) in the early 1990’s the general population had accepted and was sympathetic to transsexual individuals who felt they were born in the wrong body.   After the revolution in Iran a Fatwa was issued recognizing the corrected sex of post-operative individuals and conservative figure Pat Robertson gave his approval of transsexual individuals seeking medical correction.  When transgender activists began claiming that surgical correction was not necessary “…which it isn’t for them, and not the life saving medical treatment it actually is for those actually born transsexed” (8) they moved public understanding out of a medical context to include what they called “non-op transsexual(s)”, those individuals who only needed to change their social presentation and not correct their bodies.  According to Platine

By equating transsexuality with the “umbrella” term transgender this (social acceptance) was effectively reversed and the public understanding switched almost overnight from learning someone was transsexed and knowing they were probably post surgically corrected or soon would be to (the person being a) “chick with a dick” or shemale. (9)

I believe that to correct this misinformation which has entered into the public discourse, and in light of advances in the medical understanding of both groups, that the academic and scholarly understanding of transsexual and transgender identities needs to be brought in line with the medical definition and criteria outlined in the revised DSM V.  By bringing the social science literature up to date with current medical knowledge scholars and researchers will be able to study and address each group based on the medical and societal context in which they exist.  Only when both medical and social science researchers have the same language to define each group can new and more relevant research be done to address the medical and societal needs of both groups.

Footnotes:

1  Note this term can be spelled as either transexual or transsexual, it is the author’s preference to use the transsexual spelling.

2  A common way post-operative transsexual individuals identify themselves.  After sex reassignment surgery they often no longer feel that they are transsexual, transition is finished and they are in their correct anatomical form.

3  Beth Rankin, “Transexual vs. Transgender: Explaining the Intricacies,” Fusion Magazine, Spring 2004, http://fusion.kent.edu/archives/spring04/trans/trans.html (accessed March 27, 2012).

4  American Psychiatric Association, “P 01 Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents or Adults,” DSM-5 Development, http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=482 (accessed March 28, 2012).

5  American Psychiatric Association, “U 06 Transvestic Disorder,” DSM-5 Development, http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=189 (accessed March 28, 2012).

6   Julia Serano, “A ‘Transsexual Versus Transgender’ Intervention,” Whipping Girl, entry posted September 8, 2011, http://juliaserano.blogspot.com/2011/09/transsexual-versus-transgender.html (accessed March 27, 2012).

7  Cathryn Platine, email message to the author, March 29, 2012.

8  Ibid.

9  Ibid.

Bibliography

American Psychiatric Association. “P 01 Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents or Adults.” DSM-5 Development.     http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=482 (accessed March 28, 2012).

American Psychiatric Association. “U 06 Transvestic Disorder.” DSM-5 Development. http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=189 (accessed March 28, 2012).

Platine, Cathryn. Email correspondence with author. March 29, 2012.

Rankin, Beth. “Transexual vs. Transgender: Explaining the Intricacies.” Fusion Magazine, Spring 2004. http://fusion.kent.edu/archives/spring04/trans/trans.html (accessed March 27, 2012).


As 2012 approaches with all the predictions of “the end of the world” what is actually happening is a literal war between two radically different approaches to how human beings organize themselves.  We are seeing this played out all around the world right now and in the political battles between the far right and the far left in America.

The hallmark of civilization from the very beginning has always been the pooling of resources to free up time and the natural creativity of members of society.  To allow for the care of the young, the sick and the handicaped and the old.  Not to do so is the basest level of human existence and the opposite of civilization.  The clear message of the far right in America is this:  we can no longer afford to take care of the young, the old, the sick and the handicap.  That message is one of “rugged individualism” taken to the level of “dog eat dog” and is the natural endgame of corporate thinking capitalism gone wild.

As the progression of the ages switches from Pisces to Aquarius so the basic premise of overall gestalt is changing.  The age of Pisces was the age of the Abrahamic religions, most notably Christianity and the advent of Christianity destroyed the Roman empire with the loss of respect of diversity and plunged the Western World into the Dark Ages.

This is a spiritual war.  The Abrahamic faiths teach of a father god who sits in judgment of all we do, rigs the game to favour his “chosen” who can do any damn thing they want as long as they eventually repent.  It teaches that the world exists only for the exploitation by those chosen people, that those who disagree have no actual rights and if you fail to prosper that is a reflection of the flaws within yourself and you are getting what you deserve.

Goddess consciousness is the exact opposite.  It is embodied with the concept that all of us are in this together, that we are to take care of each other and in the supreme irony, we are the keepers of our brothers and keepers.  The teachings of Jesus were consistent with Goddess consciousness, the practice of christianity are not.  Goddess consciousness is being connected to the earth, the universe and the idea that we are the Divine ourselves, all of us and all around us and that we can aspire to reflect that in our lives and how we interact with the world.  It is the basic understanding of ecology, the value of diversity in the world including all the other animals we share our planet with.  It is a world view of responsibility rather than a twisted social Darwinism.

America is choosing right now which philosophy will dominate the next phase of it’s history.  Which way do you wish to go?  Chose wisely.


From The AFL-CIO Blog: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/03/24/the-triangle-fire-still-burning-before-our-nation/

by Tula Connell,
Mar 24, 2011

We hope you will share this special AFL-CIO Now feature on the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire with your friends, family and co-workers as a way to recognize America’s workers, past and present, who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to improve the lives of all workers.

When word got out two weeks ago that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had ordered the windows of the state Capitol building bolted shut during the ongoing protests against his attacks on public employees, it was a chilling reminder of a similar action by the employers of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory.

Nearly 100 years ago to the day of Walker’s order—which he rescinded after public outrage—146 workers, mostly young immigrant girls, jumped to their deaths from the 10-story building, unable to escape a fire because factory foremen had locked all the doors. The owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, worried the workers would steal from the company.

Hyman Meshel worked on the eighth floor. When the rescue crew found Meshel, who was still alive, the flesh of the palms of his hands had been torn from the bones by his sliding down the steel cable in the elevator, and his knuckles and forearms were full of glass splinters from beating his way through the glass door of the elevator shaft.

Thirty dead bodies clogged the elevator shaft. All were young girls. Among the many victims, the New York Times reported the day after the disaster, were two girls:
charred beyond all hope of recognition, and found in the smoking ruins with their arms clasped around each other’s necks….

Three weeks before the Triangle conflagration, the Protective League of Property Owners had held a meeting, indignant over orders by Fire Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo to install sprinklers in warehouses. Owners claimed the order amounted to a “confiscation of property.” The League wasn’t the only employer group to put profit over safety. As the New York Times reported, Fire Chief Edward Croker:  spoke bitterly of the way in which the Manufacturers’ Association had called a meeting in Wall Street to take measures against his proposal for enforcing better methods of protection for employees in case of fire.

His department had cited the Triangle building for lack of fire escapes just one week before the fire.

The working conditions at Triangle and other apparel factories had spurred tens of thousands of shirtwaist workers from more than 500 factories to walk off their jobs in November 1909. Led by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), they demanded a 20 percent pay raise, a 52-hour workweek and extra pay for overtime. They also called for adequate fire escapes and open doors from the factories to the street. By February 1910, most of the small and midsized factories, and some of the larger employers, had negotiated a settlement for higher pay and shorter hours. One of the companies that refused to settle was the Triangle Waist Company, one of New York’s largest garment makers.

The Triangle fire resulted in enactment of stricter job safety and health regulations in New York and across the country. The ordeal of the victims, who are remembered here by Cornell University, has inspired countless memorials, tributes and documentaries, beginning April 30, 1911, when 50,000 New Yorkers marched behind empty hearses to memorialize those killed in the fire.

But as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire on March 25, it’s sobering to realize many of the lessons we thought had been absorbed must be re-learned again. And again. The Triangle fire, a symbol of unfettered Gilded Age greed, still stands burning before us—from lack of job safety and health protections, to neglect of the conditions endured by immigrant workers to the fundamental ability of workers to form unions and bargain for a better life.

The following three perspectives highlight how the issues behind the Triangle fire still have not been resolved.

America’s Immigrant Workers

When most of us think how the immigrant workers were treated at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, we are convinced such environments no longer exist in this country. Not so, says Ai-jen Poo. As the founder of Domestic Workers United based in New York, Poo has helped lead a movement of some the nation’s most invisible workers, those not covered by standard U.S. labor laws and hidden from view in countless homes. Last year, through the efforts of Domestic Workers United, the New York State Legislature enacted a precedent-setting law covering the wages, severance pay and sick days of the state’s estimated 200,000 nannies and housekeepers. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is a model for domestic workers who, despite the odds, are joining together and demanding their basic human rights on the job.

Immigrant workers face attacks by hostile state legislatures Some of the industries today where many immigrant workers are on the job are unregulated and have fallen outside the protection of existing labor laws, including the right to organize, says Poo. But while these industries were once considered marginal, [t]hey are increasingly defining the entire direction of this economy, where workers, whether immigrant or not, are experiencing dangerous working conditions, long working hours and low wages.

This “shadow” economy, with its long hours, low wages and dangerous conditions in which people are overworked and yet still poor, is “more the norm,” says Poo—and worse:

It’s a good window into the economic health of this country which is not very healthy. Just as at the turn of the century you could look at the manufacturing industry and see the economy wasn’t healthy.

But after Triangle and after countless more outrages, known and unknown, at the workplace, workers took their futures in their hands and reshaped the economy.

We’re now in a very similar moment. We’re standing at the precipice of a major crisis for working people in their country, another moment where we have to stand up as immigrant workers and all workers to take back our rights and dignity in the workplace and in the economy as a whole.

As Poo says, the actions of immigrant workers to organize against all odds in these workplaces can offer an example for us all as we search for ways to regroup and move forward.

Job Safety and Health

Last April, 99 years after the Triangle disaster, 29 miners were killed at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine in an explosion that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says could have been prevented if the mine had been in compliance with federal mine safety rules. Massey Energy, the mine’s owner, had a significant history of safety violations.

The coal industry isn’t the only one where U.S. workers die at work. In 2008, 5,214 workers were killed on the job, another 50,000 workers died from occupational diseases, and at least 4.6 million workers were reported injured. The disasters last year that killed those miners could have been avoided had lawmakers resisted lobbying by mine owners, says Peter Dreier. Dreier, who teaches politics and chairs the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College, says that today, the leading foe of reform is the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is on a crusade against the Obama administration’s plans to set new rules on unsafe workplaces, industrial hazards and threats to public health. The Chamber’s most vocal proponent is Darrell Issa, the conservative California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. At the request of the Chamber and other industry lobbies, Issa recently launched a congressional assault on safeguards in workplaces and communities.

The American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Association of American Railroads, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, and lobbies representing health care, banking, and telecommunication providers are lobbying to scale back the gamut of job safety and health laws that protect millions of workers. And Republicans are doing their bidding. In a piece on Triangle, Dreier and Donald Cohen, director of the Cry Wolf Project that counters attempts to discredit progressive policies, write that Republicans in Congress are proposing to cut OSHA’s budget by 20 percent, which, coming on top of decades of cuts, would cripple an agency that has been effective at significantly reducing workplace injuries and deaths.

A century after the Triangle fire, “we still hear much of the same rhetoric whenever reformers seek to use government” to get businesses act more responsibly and protect consumers, workers and the environment.
The Republican leadership is trying to drive home the message, in Speaker John Boehner’s words, that “excessive regulation costs jobs” and that the “path to prosperity” is by “getting government out of the way.”

Americans of earlier generations—who enjoyed the benefits of the Progressive Era and the New Deal reforms, and the political clout of a vibrant labor movement—understood this was nonsense, but it seems like the lessons of the past have to be relearned again.

Freedom to Form Unions

When newly-elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed taking collective bargaining rights away from Wisconsin public employees early this year, Chad Goldberg joined tens of thousands—sometimes hundreds of thousands—of state residents to protest the move. He and others spent the night at the Capitol to ensure the governor didn’t shut them out, in addition to taking part in rallies during the state’s bitter winter. The Wisconsin uprising has lasted for more than five weeks, sparking solidarity rallies across the country and generating support from as far away as Egypt and Australia. Goldberg, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes the bitter irony that on the 100th anniversary of the Triangle fire, Walker is turning the clock back in Wisconsin, refusing to work with unions or allow public employees to bargain over working conditions.

“The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire showed what can happen when employers refuse to work with unions,” says Goldberg, vice president of United Faculty & Academic Staff (UFAS), AFT Local 223.
If the factory owners had negotiated with the garment workers’ union, which demanded a decent fire escape and better safety conditions, 146 lives would have been saved.

The Republican-controlled legislature approved Walker’s proposal to gut collective bargaining, saying the action would help the state’s budget. But Goldberg and others know the move was political—taking away the freedom of workers to bargain has nothing to do with balancing the budget. In state after state, similar attacks on the rights of workers to bargain for good middle class jobs are aimed at gutting the strength of workers and stacking the deck in favor of CEOs and Wall Street. Collective bargaining rights are a matter of basic fairness, says Goldberg. Collective bargaining “strengthens shared governance, needed checks and balances and accountability and improves working conditions.”

Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions and when you improve one, you improve the other.

The Triangle fire “also showed how arrogance and oppression can galvanize the public to demand better treatment for workers,” he says. “The governor’s arrogance, the arrogance of the public legislators, the way they’re overreaching and the extremist nature of their agenda is really fueling a public reaction in defense of workers’ rights and public services.

The Triangle fire led to the growth of the garment workers’ union and the strengthening of fire, health, and labor regulations. Today in Wisconsin, we’re seeing the same kind of public mobilization to defend workers’ rights and the public services on which working families depend.

Resources

  • Columbia University’s Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire site offers details of the events, the reforms it sparked and educational resources for teachers.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor offers a mobile-optimized website to commemorate the anniversary, featuring an audio tour and background of the event. When you travel to one of the locations for the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire you can listen to an audio description of the location by clicking on the link within the page.
  • Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition offers a range of events commemorating the 100th anniversary.




“Though we live amid high-rise steel buildings, formica countertops, and electronic television screens, there is something in all of us, women and men alike, that makes us feel deeply connected with the past.  Perhaps the sudden dampness of a beach cave or the lines of sunlight piercing through the intricate lace patterns of the leaves in a darkened grove of tall trees will awaken from the hidden recesses of our minds the distant echos of a remote and ancient time, taking us back to the early stirrings of human life on the planet.  For people raised and programmed on the patriarchal religions of today, religions that affect us in even the most secular aspects of our society, perhaps there remains a lingering, almost innate memory of the sacred shrines and temples tended by priestesses who served the religion of the original supreme deity.  In the beginning, people prayed to the Creatress of Life, the Mistress of Heaven.  At the very dawn of religion, God was a woman. Do you remember?”

This is the first paragraph of “When God Was A Woman”.

Near the end of the seventies I was back in the broom closet after a life changing run in with the first wave of mega-church fundies in central Ohio.  I had been re-reading Frazer and turn of the century occultists and diving back into classics of Greeks and Romans.  And I knew I was missing something.  At a flea market in Marion, Ohio I saw a book sitting on the top of a stack of romance novels.  It was an American first edition of “When God Was A Woman” by Merlin Stone.  The dust cover was tattered then around the edges and the text underlined in places by the prior owner……but that book called out to me and it literally changed my life. I remembered in a flood of memories of my own life, the sacred places I had seen as a child throughout the world, the dreams of the Mother Goddess I had over and over when three and four years old.  Within a year of reading that book I had an unwanted and unexpected hysterectomy when I was supposed to be having an appendectomy.  And I had re-read many, if not most, of my collection of ancient texts, mythologies and accounts of ancient history armed now with the key to seeing the Goddess where She had been hidden before.

Everyone has a few authors who’s works significantly change their lives, for me Merlin Stone was among the most important.  The Goddess called Merlin back on the cusp of the Goddess awakening that became my life work.  Merlin, you changed my life, thank you and rest well in the arms of the Great Mother.

crossposted to cybelinecrone.blogspot.com


Ops Danny Boy, One Too Many “Motions to Dismiss”

It is no secret that I am associated with the Maetreum of Cybele and it’s legal case against the Town of Catskill for discrimination regarding our property tax exemption.  I have also tried hard to keep my actual name off this blog because the Town Attorney is a slimeball who has repeatedly attempted to use any and every thing I ever wrote on the internet to discredit me.  Several transvestite activists have deliberately linked my actual name to my opinion pieces to aid him in this.  Slimeballs of a feather flocking together.

Well ole Danny Vincelette filed one too many motions to dismiss and totally pissed off the Judge in the case with his clearly bullshit and illogical and downright dishonest claims.  In a seventeen page decision on his last motion and our counter motion, the Judge systematically ruled on each and every rationale to deny our exemption……and repeated over and over we were clearly discriminated against!  He did not grant our motion for summery judgment because, as he said last week in a hearing before this decision was written, he wants us to finally have our day in court.  He knows we will decimate Danny boy in court.  I believe he also wants this to finally be a decided court case establishing once and for all that religious discrimination by local governments is a no go, at least in New York.  Not to mention leave zero legitimate reason to appeal.

We have to file for our 2011 property tax exemption by Monday.  This time we can cite settled law countering all the bullshit reasons they have used in the past.  If we are denied this time, we will go both straight to the New York Attorney General’s office, where we have a religious discrimination complaint on hold, and file a Federal law suit in Federal court as well as criminal complaints with the US Attorney General’s office under three separate federal criminal laws.

They can no longer use BS zoning and building code reasons.  They can no longer claim our Phrygianum is “just a residence”  They can no longer attack our legitimacy as a religion.  The judge ruled that the Town of Catskill has stipulated we are legitimate and use our property for charitable and religious purposes as is required.  The Judge was so kind as to provide multiple legal precedences for each and every point.

Surrender now Danny boy….it’s over and if you continue, so will your career be over.  Read that decision carefully because the Judge handed us the basis of filing criminal complaints against you personally on a silver platter…and ethical bar action.  Sucks to be you and defeated by a crippled old lady and a shiny new attorney with zero prior court experience eh?

Our attorney is awaiting your call to arrange the terms of your surrender.

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