when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Tamar Manasseh is a mom who organized Mothers Against Senseless Killings who witnessed the death of a neighborhood resident, Lucille Barnes, in June of 2015.  The group (MASK) hangs out at 75th Street and Harvard Avenue in Chicago, and began their vigil the week after Lucille was killed.

Tamar has enlisted many mothers in the neighborhood.  Sometimes they have food with them, but mostly they just wear their pink MASK T-shirts.  As she says, the group is doing what “mothers do best, get in the way.”

Tamar Manasseh is a lovely woman, but more than that, she is a good spirit.  She is one of those people who believes that one person can make a difference, and she and her group of mothers have made a difference.  “Their corner” has not experienced violence since they have been “in the way” of wrong-doers.  “If you’re trying to shoot someone and we’re out here, you’re not getting off the block!”  Amen.


Tamar Manasseh at “her corner.”


How many times in your life have you heard someone refer to an almost impossible task as requiring “an act of Congress?”

Well, I have some good news about acts of Congress.  Our US Congress ACTED to allow WASP pilot Elaine Harmon to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery today.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh, determined in 2002 that WASPs should not be allowed to have burials in Arlington.  Who is he?  A story for another time.

The wonderful part of this story is HR 4336, the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016 — introduced by Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) with 191 co-sponsors.  Shortly thereafter, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a companion bill, S 2437.  The act was signed into law by President Obama in May 2016.

So, after a battle led by Elaine Harmon’s granddaughter, Erin Miller, today Elaine Harmon’s ashes were taken out of her daughter’s closet and interred at Arlington.  Harmon had died in April 2015 at the age of 95.

And if an act of Congress is not enough, there was a fly-by by World War II aircraft, a 21 gun salute from the Air Force Honor Guard, and “Taps.”  The honor guard folded the American flag and a female member of the Honor Guard handed the flag to Harmon’s daughter.

So, back to John McHugh.  Since 1977, federal law has granted WASPs status as WWII veterans, and in 2002 they became eligible to have their ashes interred at Arlington with full military honors.  Then John McHugh determined that WASPs never should have been allowed in Arlington and revoked their eligibility.

According to McHugh, in 2014 “Army lawyers” reviewed the rules and determined that WASPs and other  WWII veterans classified as “active duty designees” were not eligible for inurnment.  This decision included in excess of 250,000 Merchant Marines who served during WWII, as well as WASPs, a group of 1,074.

A life is a life is a life.  A life given in public service for our nation is a life that is due burial or inurnment at any national cemetery for veterans, whether operated by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the US Army.

Ninety-three (93) of the original 1,074 WASPs remain alive.

Thank you, Congress, for taking this act!


Darrin Webb is the Mississippi state economist.  He says that he has never studied the economic impact the gender wage gap has on the state of Mississippi.  “It’s just not been an issue that’s come up for us,”  Webb said.  “No one has requested any kind of analysis like that and frankly, we don’t have the time unless one is requested.”  (see http://www.sunherald.com/news/business/article 99990907.html)

Darrin Webb has been the State economist and Director of the University Research Center since July 2010.  His job requires that he be responsible for economic forecasting and soci0-economic policy analysis.  Among other things, he forecasts and monitors collections of state general fund revenue, and works closely with the Legislative Budget Office, the State Legislature, the Governor’s administration and other agencies on matters concerning the state’s economy and long range strategic planning.

The state economy is in about the worst shape I can remember it being in since I moved here in 1969.  And since women do not matter in this state, it is not surprising that no one has ever requested a study on the economic impact of the gender wage gap in Mississippi, nor that Mr. Webb would have the intellectual curiosity to think in terms of the economic impact of wage parity on state tax collection, on the consumer economy, and on social safety-nets that our legislators should be funding.

You know what?  I am going to send an email to the State Treasurer right now and ask her to make a request that Mr. Webb study the economic impact of the gender wage gap on our State.  Since during our last calendar year, there were 1,373,554 males and 1,471,104 females (48.3% of the population to 51.7%) it appears to me that inquiry would be not only reasonable, but warranted.


Women have had the right to vote for less than a century.  But we are more likely to vote.  Voter turnout rates for women have historically equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion of female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of male adults who voted, and women constitute more than half the population.  In 2004, 60.1% of women and 56.3% of men voted — 67.3 million women and 58.5 million men.  That’s an 8.8 million person difference.  Eight million votes can win an election.

Amazingly, Mississippi ranks number 5 in the list of states that have the greatest participation in presidential elections.  In 2012, 68% of voters got out to vote.  This is unusual.  Most of the 10 states with the least participation in presidential elections are our fellow southern states.

But here’s the point.  Women can make a difference in any election that we decide to. When are we going to decide to?

Gloria Steinem noted in an interview on NPR that violence against women and girls is probably the most serious issue facing women in the US and around the world. “The most dangerous place for a woman in this country is her own home” per Steinem (NPR, 2015).

Guess what?  I am delighted to tell you that, according to the Violence Policy Center, Mississippi is not among the top ten states in violence against women perpetrated by men.  The Center indicated that the states where women or girls are more likely to be killed by men during the decade immediately preceding this one are:  South Carolina, Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Vermont, Maine and Michigan.

For the years 2004 to 2013, the average rate of incidents of one man killing one women, per 100,000 women, was 0.5-1 in Mississippi.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost 20 percent of US women have been raped at one point in their lives, nearly a third of US women have experienced domestic violence — and a quarter of those reporting severe violence such as being strangled, hit with a fist or stabbed.  Approximately 65% of women in the US who are killed in homicides were slain by a family member or an intimate partner.

It’s making me think that Lorena Bobbitt had the right idea.

In 1985, Sellappan Nirmala was a 32 year old microbiology student at the Medical College in Chennai (Madras), India.  While formal tracking of HIV had begun in the US in 1982, it had not been contemplated in in India.  In fact, Dr. Nirmala thought, as did most of her countrymen, that HIV in India was “unthinkable.”  She recalls that the press called HIV a disease of the “debauched West” where “free sex and homosexuality” were prevalent, while Indians were heterosexual, monogamous and God-fearing.  So when her mentor suggested that she collect samples of blood to trace HIV in India, she was hesitant.

But she found a way.  She identified women at Madras General Hospital who were being treated for sexually transmitted diseases.  They were sex workers, and they identified other sex workers for her.  But it was a start.  She gathered her first 80 samples in three (3) months time, using no gloves and no safety equipment. And she kept on gathering, ultimately convincing India’s community health officials that they had a deadly disease on their hands, no matter now heterosexual, monogamous or God-fearing the population.

Today, there are more than 2.1 million people in India who are infected with AIDs.  Nirmala went on to work at the King Institute of Preventive Medicine in Chennai in their vaccine production program.  She retired in 2010.

Dr. Nirmala is one of those women who makes a big impact but is quickly forgotten.  As you think of amazing women — many of whom you know, also think about Dr. Nirmala.

When Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced her candidacy for Senator against 5 term Senator John McCain, people wondered why she would do so.  However, this race has become one of the most hotly contested of the 34 current Senate campaigns.

What’s going for her?

  • She’s a woman.
  • More than 34% of Arizona’s registered voters are independent.
  • Although a Catholic, she is pro choice.
  • She supports legislation to end the national gender-gap.
  • Donald Trump may make a difference in attracting voters.
  • Arizona’s Hispanic population (22% of the electorate) oppose Trump’s stand on immigration policy.

However, Senator McCain is a “brand,” and outselling a brand is difficult.  Let’s wait and see.

September 2019
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