Pop-up store might provide dignity for America’s homeless

Capetown, South Africa, has found a way to clothe their homeless with dignity. Can we do the same here in America? The Street Store concept is to provide a series of multifunctional cardboard posters that would turn city sidewalks or fences into a shop for the homeless. The posters are designed with holes in them for citizens to donate clothes and shoes they don’t wear and to provide an inventory of clothing for the homeless living on the streets. Instead of rummaging through dumpsters and trash cans, the homeless can with dignity select clothing of their taste and need.

For more information on this movement, link to The Street Store and read the article from the Huffington Post entitled, “Charity ‘Store’ For Homeless Gives Customers So Much More Than Just Clothes.”

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Take the “diet” words out of the family dinner time

Editor’s Note:  Feb. 23 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Sitting down to a family dinner is not a Norman Rockwell moment for many people who suffer from eating disorders.  According to the National Eating Disorder Association, constant discussions by parents on dieting, food fetishes or the desire to lose weight might leave a negative influence on your teen or child’s body image.

“Eating disorders are complicated and vexing problems and we don’t exactly understand the pathophysiology of them,” Dr. Aaron Krasner, a practicing psychiatrist and director of the Adolescent Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut told Forbes magazine.

In the article, author Dr. Robert Glatter, M.D., says Krasner early hypotheses of the pathogenesis of eating disorders are related to difficulties between parents as it pertains to “mothers milk”:  giving love, receiving love, sharing in food, sharing in food-related celebrations.”  He says there is environmental component with eating disorders. Krasner offers five constructive support and suggestions describing how parents might promote a positive body image in teens and children:

1.     Try to avoid criticizing yourself or others about weight or shape in front of your children.

2.     Avoid talking negatively about food – “I can’t eat potatoes because they’re carbs” or “That cake will go straight to my thighs.” It’s more important to teach the importance of healthy eating and exercise without references to weight.

3.    Compliment children on their talents and accomplishments – a little praise goes a long way, especially when it’s well deserved

4.    Let your teens and children know that weight gain and changes to body shape are a natural part of the growing process.

5.    Have a discussion with your children about their use of social media and what they view in movies and on TV.  Only about 5% of American women have the body type that is portrayed in advertising as the ideal size and shape for women.

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Underbelly of unemployment shows homelessness

Rosa Serrano and her seven children at the Days Inn in Shrewsbury, Mass., where they were living since November until being moved to more permanent housing. Worcester Telegram and Gazette photo

The published unemployment numbers show progress in the American economy.  But what the underbelly of the unemployment numbers doesn’t show is that homeless shelters are filling up, and states are picking up the tab by housing people in low-cost hotels and emergency shelters, especially families with children. Damaged by the results of the Great Recession including long-term unemployment, foreclosures, evictions and health care costs has led families into the only housing available to them.

In the state of Massachusetts there is a “right to shelter” budget provision that requires the state to house homeless families that qualify. Yet, these families must show they are victims of domestic violence, a natural disaster, a no-fault eviction, or have spent a night in a place not meant for human habitation.

A New England Center for Investigative reporter, Rupa Shenoy, covers Massachusetts’ raising homeless challenges and how taxpayers are flipping the bill as a result of the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

- Sharon Dunten, editor, SurvivingTimes.com

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2011 Sundance film launches movement for equality

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential.

For more information visit therepresentationproject.org. 

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Faster conveyor belt poultry processing might put consumers at risk

When purchasing chicken for yourself or your families’ table, do you wonder if the chicken was processed properly?  With the popular trend toward buying free-range chickens, or chickens not raised from incubators to cages to death, does it really matter if those preferred free-range chickens end up facing questionable unsanitary processing and packaging?

The chicken industries’ bottom line might be playing a role in the disputed safety regulations of processed American chicken.  As more chicken factories speed up their conveyor belts to quicken the poultry industries’ delivery to demanding consumers, could food safety rules be waived and the humans processing the chicken be harmed?

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Atlanta interstates are parking lots as ice storm stalls the south

Many motorist on Georgia interstates abandoned their cars and started walking toward shelters. Some motorists spent up to 24 hours in their cars while facing the 2014 winter ice storm that hit the South on Jan. 28, 2014.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Relocating to Atlanta from Indiana two years ago, we love the warmer weather along with longer spring and fall seasons, but we were not ready for what happens in Georgia if true winter weather hits the South.

Winter is not the same as in northern and eastern states.  Rarely does the temperature plummet down below 32 degrees.  This year the freezing temperatures have been more frequent.  It was just a matter of time until the moisture and the cold were going to collide and throw Atlanta and the rest of the south into turmoil.

Yesterday, Jan. 28, the snow started falling and ice quickly accumulated up to two inches on roadways.  Within hours, an immeasurable track jam locked up all the interstates within the city of Atlanta and Georgia, along with the neighboring states of Alabama and South Carolina.

Early afternoon Atlanta businesses released employees from work, local schools deployed their school buses and the normal heavy traffic for the city merged onto the interstates and roadways. Very quickly most city and interstate traffic came to an abrupt halt.

For many people on the interstates, the thought of sleeping in their cars that evening was inconceivable.  But they did sleep in their cars, and as of 10 a.m. on Jan. 29, truckers, drivers with their families had bunked down in their vehicles and waited for one of the 30 Atlanta plow trucks to spread a salt mixture to break up the roadway ice rink.  Last night, many desperate motorists abandoned their vehicles and walked toward home or shelters.

Stories of children rescued from stalled school buses and one pregnant woman delivering a baby in a car in the traffic jam spread throughout the local media and CNN.  More than 800 students spent the night at schools along with their teachers and administrators until parents could pick them up in the morning.

Even through the chaos of this ice storm, there were many acts of kindness including Home Depots keeping their stores opened for stranded motorists, and the Georgia National Guard handed out MREs to drivers marooned on the interstates.  In addition, local residents living close to the interstates opened their doors to strangers.  And when drivers’ cars ran out of gas, many cold drivers were welcomed into strangers’ cars to warm up and endure the jam for up to 12 hours.

Tomorrow the temperature will reach up to 40 degrees.  The ice will melt and the traffic will flow back to the normal Atlanta congestion with longer-than-usual traffic patterns.  But for Atlanta, that is the normal.

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School-to-prison pipeline might start as early as preschool

By high school many minority students or students with disabilities could be on the school-to-prison pipeline. palantelatino.com photo

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Are we giving up on a large population of our young people in this country?  With minority students and students with disabilities, including teens with emotional and behavioral problems, carrying the majority of school suspensions and high school dropout rates, could the path toward school-to-prison pipeline be condemning a new generation to failure?

When I worked as a reporter in Mississippi several years ago, the self-fulfilling prophecy for many minority students went as far back as preschool. One southern Mississippi school official told to me the state counted the amount of children not attending preschool programs as an indication of how many prison cells would be required for state correctional facilities 20 to 25 years later. Their justification to watch these numbers was due to the inaccessibility or cuts of preschool programs such as a Head Start, and the broad number of illiterate parents unable to teach the fundamentals early childhood skills to prepare their children to enter kindergarten.  As a result, many preschoolers might start out behind in school as early as five years-old.

By the time many of the minority or students with disabilities enter high school, there is an even bigger chance a student could be railed onto the school-to-prison pipeline.

In a comprehensive report by America Aljazeera, the saga of the school-to-prison pipeline is examined with alarming statistics.  Link here.

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Report reveals large gap between states in unemployment claims

Initial unemployment claims are profoundly different depending on which U.S. state a person lives and is seeking employment. ohud.com photo

-  SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Although U.S. unemployment claims have reduced from more than 5.6 million in January 2013 to a cut of more than 3.7 million in January 2014, millions of Americans are still facing unemployment with rate fluctuations between states throughout the country.

A U.S. Department of Labor report for the week ending Jan. 4, 2014, shows a large gap between U.S. states for initial unemployment claim reduction and increase. For example, Texas reports close to a 13,000 increase in claims and California reports more than 8300 claims. On the flip side, Georgia reports close to 7200 decrease along with New York showing a reduction as much as 18,000 in unemployment claims.

States with the highest increase in unemployment claims, including Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania, report a substantial increase in layoffs in agriculture, manufacturing, construction and administrative support services.

In the meantime, states dropping in unemployment claims attribute fewer layoffs in manufacturing, transportation and trade industries. Other states facing this drop include Wisconsin, South Carolina, Minnesota, Oregon, Kentucky and Alabama.

The unemployment rate stands at 6.7 percent as of December 2013.  Seasonal employment layoffs might show a higher rate in February.

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Purdue shooting gives anti-gun advocate a first-hand experience

Purdue University students huddle in the hallways of classrooms after they received a text message to shelter-in-place because of shooting at the Engineering Building. Purdue University is located in West Lafayette, Ind.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

West Lafayette, Ind. — Today marks the 35th school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn., Dec.14, 2012. Around noon on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Purdue University students and staff were placed in shut down as a lone gunman entered a classroom in the university’s Engineering Building and shot a man to death.

One woman, Julia Chester, took this shooting very personally because it touched too close to home. She is the Regional Manager for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers demanding new and stronger solutions to gun laws and loopholes that might jeopardize the safety of U.S. children and families.

Chester is also Associate Professor of Psychological Studies at Purdue University.

In a statement released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action, Chester said for over a year she has worked with hundreds of thousands of U.S. moms to help stem the “tide of gun violence in America.”

“Today, I experienced the terror of an active shooting first-hand,” said Chester. While in her office at Purdue University, she was alerted through the university’s text messaging system that there was a shooting on campus. Along with her colleagues and students, she was alerted to shelter-in-place.

Shelter-in-place is an emergency procedure now used in homes, offices and schools throughout the country.   U.S. Homeland Security gives tips on what an individual or individuals should do during such an emergency.

“The fear and confusion on campus was palpable. No matter how many drills you’ve been through, panic takes its toll on logic,” said Chester.  She says she feared no matter how many doors you try to shut between you and the shooter, a bullet could find its way through even though the shooting took place a couple of buildings away from her office.

“We owe our children and ourselves a world where we don’t have to live by lockdown,” Chester said.  She said Americans need to call on Congress immediately to act on gun violence and pass new and stronger gun laws.

Again, one man died in the university shooting.  One man is in custody.  No motive for the shooting has been released by local law enforcement officials. Purdue University officials said all classes were cancelled today and Wednesday.

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