Category Archives: USA

Hiroshima survivor in Lowell to honor POWs killed in blast (VIDEO)

by Alana Melanson
May 28, 2018
Lowell Sun

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPdmy6QEoUg?rel=0&w=560&h=315 ]

LOWELL — Shigeaki Mori was only 8 years old when the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the final weeks of World War II.

At the time of the blast, he was only 2 1/2 kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion, he said at a Memorial Day ceremony in Centralville Monday morning.

“Luckily, I was on the bridge on the way to the school, and I was blown into the river,” Mori, 81, said in Japanese, translated to English by “Paper Lanterns” documentary producer Nobuko Saito Cleary.

Mori wasn’t hurt. His wife, Kayoko Mori, was about 4 kilometers from the blast, and suffered a permanent hip injury, he said.

Shigeaki Mori could have hated the U.S. for dropping the bomb and the lasting effects it had on the Japanese people.

Shigeaki Mori and Nobuko Saito Cleary _Special-Visit1-by Scot Landon SUN
Mr. Shigeaki Mori with Mrs. Nobuko Saito Cleary (Translator) SUN/Scott Landon

Instead, Mori “transcended the enmity of war” between the countries and reached “across the battle lines to honor the memory of the Americans, the so-called enemies, who were killed in Hiroshima,” said Japan Society of Boston President Peter Grilli.

“It’s a story that we should all keep in our hearts, because it’s a story of a kind of love and humanity that unites us all,” Grilli said.

“Paper Lanterns,” directed by Billerica native Barry Frechette and Max Esposito, follows the stories of the 12 American prisoners of war who died at Hiroshima — with a focus on Lowell native Normand Brissette and Kentucky native Ralph Neal — and the decades of efforts Mori undertook to honor them.

Frechette said Mori was the thread that brought it all together, bringing a voice to those who no longer had one.

12 Hiroshima POWs - Monument for Normand Brissette of Lowell, MA
Photo: Barbara Poole, May 24, 2018 (google images)

Mori — who is traveling around the U.S. with the film team for a series of events, flanked by several major Japanese media outlets — came to Lowell to participate in the unveiling of a new monument in memory of the 12 U.S. Army Air Force and U.S. Navy airmen at the Centralville Veterans Park on Ennell Street. The men either died in the blast or in the following days due to radiation.

“They were truly patriots who fought and sacrificed their lives for their country. I am here now because I want the people of the United States to know about the men,” Mori said to a standing ovation.

Mori researched the aftermath of the bombing, double-checked official histories with contemporary newspaper reports and conducted his own interviews with fellow survivors, said Mayor William Samaras.

“He spent 40 years researching the American POWs, searching through thousands of boxes of records and placing hundreds of long-distance phone calls in hopes of contacting next of kin in America,” Samaras said. “Mr. Mori sought to not only share their stories but also have them recognized as victims by the Hiroshima Peace Museum.”

Through his dedicated work to honor and preserve the memories of the American soldiers, in 1999 Mori finally got his wish for a memorial plaque at the site of the military detention center where they’d been held.

“From their families, we thank you for something you never had to do, but you did it out of your heart,” said City Councilor Rita Mercier. “We’re very, very grateful and we love you.”

Rokuichiro Michii, consul general of Japan in New England, said Mori’s tireless effort has helped to tell “a very important and human story” of so many affected by the bombing.

“Thanks to Mr. Mori and his work, a newfound sense of compassion has been born,” Michii said. “This has helped to bring people together, for the past in order to look toward the future.”

Brissette’s niece, Susan Brissette-Archinski, of Dracut, visited Japan three years ago during the making of the documentary and said it was an experience every American should have once in their life. She called Mori “a wonderful man” and said she was happy he could come to the U.S. and be honored for the work he spent half of his life undertaking.

Neal’s nephew — also named Ralph Neal — traveled from Memphis, Tenn., to participate in Monday’s ceremony.

“He’s made the story known,” the younger Neal said of Mori. “Our mission now as a family is to keep it going, to tell the story, that we don’t do it again.”

He and Christopher Golden presented Mori with the gift of an American flag.

The event, emceed by Joe Dussault, park director of operations, also served to honor all veterans who gave their lives in service.

“They fought for their country, they died honorably, and they will never, ever be forgotten, for they gave us their tomorrows for today,” said Bernie Lemoine, president of the memorial committee.

Lemoine asked attendees to keep in their prayers Brissette’s sister, Connie Brissette-Provencher, who died Saturday.

Mori was presented with citations from Samaras, state Rep. Tom Golden and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, who also provided citations for the Brissette and Neal families. Samaras also presented Mori with the key to the city.

Mori was visibly moved as Samaras thanked him for helping the families of the 12 Americans to understand the loss of their loved ones and bring them closure.

“You have the keys that open the doors to the city of Lowell, but you also have the keys to our heart because of your great work,” Samaras said. “We so appreciate it, and we are honored to have been able to meet you.”

After the ceremony, Mori said he was “extremely touched” by the warm welcome he received from the citizens of Lowell and many others in the U.S.

Feeling that he has now finished telling the stories of the American POWs, Mori said he has already started another project: Researching the POWs from Australia.


Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

Read and watch more from the Lowell Sun  [ http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_31908495/hiroshima-survivor-lowell-honor-pows-killed-blast#ixzz5GtJKgOYf ]

More information: Paper Lantern Film, 2016. (Director, Barry Frechette; Co-Director, Max Exposito; Composer, Chad Cannon; Lyrics and Vocals, Mai Fujiswa; and Shakuhachi, Kojiro Umezaki.)
http://www.paperlanternfilm.com/

U.S. anti-trafficking measure a welcome step, activists say

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 19:30 GMT
https://news.trust.org/item/20180228193104-vhzt3/

I+am+Jane+Doe-US trafficking first step

 “It’s a great first step”

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Anti-trafficking activists on Wednesday welcomed a move in the U.S. Congress to fight the trade, saying the online world was rife with “how-to” videos for sex traffickers.

The bill – which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday – would make it easier for states and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep exploitative material off their platforms.

“It’s a great first step,” Jerome Elam, head of the Trafficking in America Task Force, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have been fighting for so long.”

The legislation is a result of years of law-enforcement lobbying for a crackdown on Backpage.com, a huge website which is used for sex advertising.

A spokeswoman for Backpage declined to comment on the videos or the legislation, which will head next to the Senate, where similar legislation has gained substantial support.

Backpage has said it is hosting content, not creating it, and is protected from liability by a federal law protecting free speech. The company has been hit by lawsuits saying it promotes trafficking in its ads.

Each year, some 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“I hope this bill gets us closer to survivor justice and ensuring traffickers and their business associates (looking at you, Backpage) are held accountable,” said Andrea Powell, head of FAIR Girls anti-trafficking group, in a statement.

“I know it will.”

Activists said videos were freely available online that help sex traffickers use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to pay anonymously for online advertisements on Backpage.

Earlier this week The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain said that videos on the YouTube website showed how to buy Backpage.com ads with bitcoin and other credits.

YouTube was not immediately available for comment. The Times said the most-viewed of the videos had been taken down.

“These YouTube videos showing how to use bitcoin for Backpage are ‘how-tos’ for human traffickers,” Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

“Backpage makes it easier for traffickers and pimps to use their site by accepting payments through bitcoin and other means of payment, such as retail gift cards.”

Visa Inc , MasterCard Inc and American Express Co have banned their credit cards from being used to pay for ads on Backpage.

Absent credit cards, Backpage relies heavily on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

“Without cryptocurrencies, the site would be relegated to using unreliable processors as a last resort,” Vance testified last month before a Congressional subcommittee.

Some campaigners say while the videos are disturbing, they make little difference to criminals.

“That horse got out of the barn a long time ago,” Nita Belles, founder of the anti-trafficking group In Our Backyard, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I think the people that are doing trafficking … they probably already know.”

Last December, more than 7,000 prostitution advertisements were posted on Backpage for Manhattan alone, Vance said.


(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Robert Carmichael and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

 

JPIC Statement in response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida

In response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the US grieve for those who lost their lives in this tragedy and stand with the surviving students and people from all corners of the United States who are demanding legislative action on gun control.

Doing nothing is not an option. We need our legislators to come together and engage in a process that results in passing and implementing laws that will address safety in our schools, workplaces and public spaces.

As educators of students from preschool through university and adult education in the United States we support the people of Parkland, Florida. We also empathize with students, parents, and administrators all across this country who on a daily basis face the potential for gun violence in their schools.

We agree with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, when in support of a ban on assault weapons they said. “We must respond. Violence in our schools, and streets, our nation and the world – is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of our sisters and brothers.”

As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we strive to be people of justice and peace in a world that is too often violent. We invite others to join us on this journey towards peace. Let us stand together to keep all who are suffering from the violence in Parkland in our hearts and prayer and let us take action now.

Please contact your legislators right now. Respectfully let them know that you expect them to immediately work with their colleagues to pass a bill that will address violence associated with guns in this country.

 

 

 

Join March 16th Airport Protests Against Rewritten Refugee and Muslim

cwsWe are fast approaching the March 16 date on which President Trump’ re-written Executive Order will take effect. As you well know, the order will discriminate against individuals from certain countries and grind the refugee resettlement program to a halt. It also significantly reduces the number of refugees we welcome in the United States, turning our backs on more than 60,000 individuals who we have pledged to protect. After the first refugee and Muslim ban was stopped by litigation and thousands mobilizing at airports it is time to once again show up and resist these unjust and discriminatory policies.

Take Action! We are calling for community mobilizations at airports on Thursday, March 16th to publicly oppose Trump’s refugee ban. Continue reading Join March 16th Airport Protests Against Rewritten Refugee and Muslim

Archbishop of Detroit says special ‘Mass of Pardon’ for the sins of the diocese

The Tablet
usaArchbishop Vigneron said the purpose of the Mass was to receive pardon and prepare the Church for evangelisation

Archbishop of Detroit says special ‘Mass of Pardon’ for the sins of the diocese
A Mass for the sins and transgressions of the Archdiocese of Detroit was held last week, recalling instances in the Catholic Church’s history when it failed to live up to God’s calling, namely neglect of the poor, failing to protect children from abuse and failing to combat racism.

In attendance were Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Detroit Auxiliary Bishops Michael Byrnes, Arturo Cepeda and Donald Hanchon, who solemnly processed down the nave of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament while the congregation stood silent calling to mind their own part in the transgressions.
The four men lay prostrate before the altar, humbling themselves before God, and in view of the flock they are called to shepherd.

The “litany of pardon” included:
• “For ignoring the word of God, living and effective, and hiding behind policies and procedures.”
• “For our failures to take to heart the Lord’s condemnation of those who scandalise ‘the little ones,’ and for failing to protect children from sexual abuse.”
• “For all the times we have not welcomed others to our parishes, especially for the times we have refused to allow African-American Catholics into our parish communities.”

Each invocation was answered with “Kyrie eleison” — “Lord have mercy”.

The ‘Mass for Pardon’ on 7 October at the cathedral is a step on the archdiocese’s path to “unleash the Gospel”, Archbishop Vigneron explained, saying how the Mass was a necessary step on the road to becoming a “band of joyful missionary disciples”. “We have been summoned by Pope Francis to do what it takes to be a band of joyful missionary disciples,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “And that is what tonight is about. We have been summoned in a very particular way.”

Before a packed cathedral, Archbishop Vigneron addressed in his homily the necessity for the Mass for Pardon, linking repentance as an inseparable part of the Gospel message. “Repent and believe in the good news, this is an inseparable prayer”, Archbishop Vigneron said. “In this computer age, you may call it a binary prayer. The two is really one. As we share in the mission of Jesus Christ, we can never siphon these truths.

“We can never proclaim the good news without calling for repentance. And we can never call for repentance without the invitation of the good news. That’s what tonight is about.”
Archbishop Vigneron said the Mass wasn’t a time for Catholics to beat themselves up for past transgressions or forget that sin has occurred within the church.

Rather, the purpose of asking for and receiving pardon is to prepare the Church to become the group of evangelisers God is calling it to be.

“We’re repenting so that we can receive the good news and share the good news,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “To be a band of joyful missionary disciples, we must first be evangelized. And to be evangelized, we must first repent.”

During the buildup to the “Mass for Pardon,” Archbishop Vigneron related how a reporter asked him what he most anticipated. The archbishop admitted he was taken aback by the question at first, but then replied he most anticipated Jesus being present in the cathedral in the form of the Blessed Sacrament.

“I most anticipate what will happen when I receive your gifts of bread and wine and are prepared and placed on the altar, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon them and takes the form of the body and blood of Christ,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “I anticipate offering the Holy Sacrament, because here, through the Holy Spirit, our true high priest is present.
“Present in his body, present in his blood. Offered with the sins we have confessed and will still confess again. To offer our prayers, with His one self, to the Father,” he continued. “So I tell you, I know, I am certain, that our sins are expiated, because we have a high priest who has risen from the dead and pleads for us at the right hand of the Father.”

Archbishop Vigneron concluded his homily with a summart of what the Mass for Pardon — and indeed reconciliation itself — is all about: not an erasing or forgetting of sin, but the transformation that is offered through the healing power of faith in Jesus Christ.
“It’s about transforming those faults in our sins, the wounds we bear that bear death, and transforming those wounds into new sources of life,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “That’s what pardon is in the kingdom of God. It’s not about forgetting, it’s about transformation. Transforming our lives though Jesus Christ, now and forever.”

Black women faced racism in pursuing religious vocations, says speaker

Catholic News Service
By Andrew Nelson | Catholic News Service

ATLANTA (CNS) — Black women desiring to serve a life devoted to the Catholic faith were not welcomed by religious communities with anti-black acceptance requirements from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, said historian Shannen Dee Williams.

GEORGIA LCWR ASSEMBLY
Shannen Dee Williams, assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, addresses the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly in Atlanta Aug. 10. She spoke about racism and U.S. religious life. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin) See LCWR-VOCATIONS-RACISM Aug. 16, 2016.

Those who could gain admittance faced discrimination from their fellow sisters, she added.

“Black sisters matter, but they constitute a dangerous memory for the church,” said Williams, assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

She was joined by Sister Anita Baird, a Daughter of the Heart of Mary, and Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, on an Aug. 12 panel discussing racism in religious life at the assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Atlanta.

Williams upcoming book is called “Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America.” It was the subject of her doctoral dissertation at Rutgers University.

Later, scores of sisters walked from the LCWR assembly being held in the Hilton Atlanta to Centennial Olympic Park to pray on the plaza outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is dedicated to the achievements of the U.S. civil rights and worldwide human rights movements.

Earlier, the participants wrote on slips of paper when they and their religious communities have not welcomed people of color. The slips became a “chain of bondage,” which was later broken after prayers of lamentation and a blessing.

Williams’ presentation was titled “Shattering the Silence: Black Women and the Challenge of History.

Continue reading Black women faced racism in pursuing religious vocations, says speaker

Campaigns End on Election Day. Revolutions Don’t.

Common Dreams
Jim Hightower

The fervent prayer of old-line Democratic operatives and corporate funders is that the Sanders Storm will dissipate now that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination, thus allowing politics — as — usual to reestablish its grip on the system.

usa
‘Despite Sanders supporters’ natural disappointment that their efforts ended short of the Oval Office, the majority are not petulantly giving up on politics, as most pundits predict,’ writes Hightower. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Here’s why I think they’re dead wrong: First, whatever else you think of Clinton, she’s certainly smart, savvy, and accomplished, and she didn’t come this far by ignoring important shifts in the political winds. As Sanders’ tub-thumping message drew huge crowds, new voters, and that deep pool of small donors, she adjusted her wings to try riding some of the powerful thermals rising from America’s grassroots. A career-long corporate Democrat, Clinton began sounding more and more like Sanders, sympathizing with the rising fury of working-class families and becoming at least Bernie-lite on several populist proposals.

You can view her adaptations as hopeful or hopelessly cynical, but the point is that Clinton recognizes that a new power is loose on the land. Understanding that the same old Bill and Barack moderate corporatism won’t charge up the crowds she needs in November, she’s scrambling to tap the electric populism of the Bernie Rebellion.

“Unlike the political and media establishment, which treats elections as periodic games to be ‘won’ with pollsters, funders, and tricksters, this populist team is engaged in REAL politics.”

This rebellious spark is the true hope of a moribund Democratic Party that registers only 29 percent of eligible voters. Far from wishing away the energetic millions who “Feel the Bern,” entrenched Democratic elders should beg these hot—blooded activists to revitalize the party. In fact, a June poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that three quarters of Democrats (including Hillary backers) want Sanders to have a “major role” in shaping the party’s positions, and two-thirds wanted him as her VP choice.

Think about it: While Bernie was the oldest candidate running for president, in heart, soul, vigor, and vision he is by far the youngest. He won the majority of voters under 45 years old and a stunning 71 percent of under-30 voters. In the under-30 demographic, Bernie even won decisively among women, including African-Americans and Latinas. He also dominated among independents who voted Democratic. There’s the future.

Continue reading Campaigns End on Election Day. Revolutions Don’t.