Category Archives: Current Events

Muslim and Jewish Groups at Forefront of Efforts to Rebuild Black Churches

By Max Blau, Guardian UK

12 July 15


Groups seek to raise hundreds of thousands for southern churches that burned after Charleston shooting: ‘If we don’t stand up … we’re all going to suffer’

ore than a half-dozen black churches have burnt to the ground in the American south since the killing of nine black people inside a historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month.

Since the shooting, authorities have ruled at least three of the church fires to be arson, with none of those so far being deemed hate crimes. Some leaders of those churches located in Charlotte, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Macon, Georgia, have grown increasingly suspicious of the motives for the recent attacks. And many others, some of whom now face thousands of dollars in repairs, have now begun the slow rebuilding of their sanctuaries.

In the wake of those arsons, dozens of religious institutions and nonprofits have raised cash for those churches. To the surprise of some pastors, the recovery effort is being partially led by Jewish and Muslim leaders, who understand both the sanctity of houses of worship and the seriousness of attacks against them.

“If there’s a silver lining, these kinds of incidents draw communities together,” said Christopher Strain, a Florida Atlantic University professor of American studies and author of Burning Faith: Church Arson in the American South. “There’s an unintended effect of bringing people together.”

Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old black Muslim student, has helped organize a group of Muslim nonprofits including Ummah Wide, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, and the Arab American Association of New York. With one week left, the crowd-funded campaign has raised more than $58,000 from over 1,300 donors.

Knight says the groups’ online fundraising effort has a current goal of $75,000 and is considering raising that figure to $100,000. Her group, which is considering joining their efforts with the Rebuild the Churches Fund, ultimately wants to establish a long-term relationship with the scorched churches as they begin their own healing processes.

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, which happened on the first night of Ramadan, some members of the Muslim community were also shaken by the attack on another house of worship. Knight fears the trend will continue in what she characterizes as a “very particular history” of racially motivated attacks against black churchgoers. She says the recent underreporting of church attacks had made her feel more vulnerable, as if the safety and security of her own mosque could be threatened.

“It was painful for a lot of people,” Knight says. “It shook the country in a lot of ways. Especially for black people, it’s extra personal given that these were in a black church, a place where you expect to be safe. If churches burn down, there’s a void where God’s name isn’t being mentioned.”

Rabbi Susan Talve, who heads the Central Reform Congregation in St Louis, Missouri, says a broad coalition of more 150 religious institutions has raised more than $150,000 toward its $250,000 goal to help rebuild black churches. She says the groups involved with the Rebuild the Churches Fund began working together after the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

When the southern black churches went up in flames, Talve says, the group quickly tapped into an established network of rabbis who lived near the communities affected by arson. Within 48 hours after the arsons, the group’s members had connected with those churches’ respective pastors.

“We believe the church is the heart and soul of a community,” Talve says. “So we wanted to help them out. If you burn them down with hate, we’re going to build them back with love. If you burn them down, we’re going to build them back better and stronger.”

According to Talve, every dollar raised will go directly to at least three burnt churches, with more being added to the list should investigators say arson led to their destruction. With insurance companies helping rebuild some sanctuaries, she says, a sizeable portion of the fund will help replace the things probably not insured including new prayer books or choir robes. The fund could also pay for security improvements to prevent future attacks at those churches.

Talve, pointing to the 2014 fatal shootings of two people at a Jewish community center in Kansas City, Missouri, says people of Jewish faith have long experienced the vulnerability that comes with being a target of hate and violence. Following the events of Ferguson and now Charleston, she says, it’s time to fight racism by supporting other religious institutions in their greatest times of need.

“Hate is hate whenever you see it,” Talve says. “This has been a time for us to show that, as allies, we understand that if we don’t all work together to end hate – racism, antisemitism, homophobia, Islamophobia – and if we don’t stand up when it happens, then we’re all going to suffer.”

Super Crane: First Historic Lift, Placement on New Bridge

Kaleidoscope Eyes

Placements can take from 1 to 4 hours/© Janie Rosman 2015 Placements can take from 1 to 4 hours/© Janie Rosman 2015

Another page of bridge history was written yesterday when the I Lift NY fitted a 600-ton precast concrete pile cap on a set of piles.

It was the super crane’s first of many placements and future lifts.

“You have the tub sitting over four piles that are accepting the load, so precision is key,” Prof. Ted Zoli, HNTB National Bridge Chief Engineer on the bridge project, explained.

Strong winds and choppy waters were no match for the crane’s precision and zero margin for error.

Prof. Ted Zoli describes to reporters the intricate process of placing a cap on groups of piles/© Janie Rosman 2015 Prof. Ted Zoli describes to reporters the intricate process of placing a cap on groups of piles/© Janie Rosman 2015

“You’re surveying it and want to hold it (tub) vertically so you’re not changing the position of the load,” Zoli said. Cleared around the piles, the arm began lowering the tub carefully, slowly, within that…

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Allodoxaphobia – the Fear of other People’s Opinions: Is that a Workplace Thing?


Americans actually fear not having an opinion to give.  Research has demonstrated that we will even provide opinions on fake subjects (such as our attitude towards completely fictitious drugs listed on a survey).  We can’t stand to be without firmly held convictions on pretty much any subject, real or imagined.  And if we can’t come up with our own, we’ll use somebody else’s, as others are all too willing to provide us with filler.  George Bernard Shaw once wisely observed, “If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.”  We do so love expressing an opinion.

But apparently, there are unfortunate individuals that are pathologically afraid of other people’s opinions. If your neighbor is in the Klu Klux Klan or works for Fox News, you might be justified in a certain level of trepidation when they express…

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10 things I can’t live without

the learning, earning and fitness mama

1) A good book game-of-thrones

My favourite thing to do is read. Dr Seuss said ‘the more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the more places you go.’ When I read, I get transported to another world, I’m a different person and I can  have 100 different experiences all in the comfort of my home. At the moment I am loving the Game of Thrones book set- dragons, lions and dwarves! Oh my!

2) Face cleanser

Most nights I can get at least 6-7 hours of sleep. When the little ones are unwell or have some serious gas going on down there- I’ll be lucky to get two hours of sleep. Enter miracle cream. Even after an all nighter I will force myself to cleanse my face in this stuff. It helps to un zombie-fy my face. My skin just loves me for it- so will…

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The “American Dream” is the real problem. (response article)

Kamala Thompson

Bill O’Reilly, Russell Simmons Go Head-To-Head Over Violence In Black Communities”

“The bigger issue that you are not acknowledging is that the astronomical crime rate among young black men — violent crime — drives suspicion and hostility,” O’Reilly said. “You won’t acknowledge it, Russell. You won’t acknowledge it.”

“The crime rate is driven by the dissolution of the family,” O’Reilly argued. “No supervision, kids with no fathers — the black neighborhoods are devastated by the drug gangs who prey upon their own. That’s the problem!”

There are serious human rights issues being brought to the light, but little practical solutions being presented because we are not looking at the larger societal structures in place. So, let me break it down like this: We live in America, where we are corrupted by the overwhelming desire for financial prosperity and upward success, but not everyone in America has the resources…

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Go Yard Goats! Hartford announces new minor league baseball team name

HARTFORD – The votes are in…and Hartford’s new minor league baseball team will be called the Yard Goats!

The “Yard Goats” name originates from the railroad slang term for an engine that switches a train to get it ready for another locomotive to take over. The Yard Goats honors Hartford’s rich railroad history.


Is this Hartford’s quintessential “Yard-Goat”? The last of HELCO’s engines that shifted coal and oil loaded cars at their South Meadow Station for over 38 years! A workhorse of unbelievable strength and durability – still working today at the Connecticut Trolley Museum… perhaps the only real “Yard-Goat” that Hartford ever had

Find out more about the  Connecticut Trolley Museum