Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Restaurant Kaleuche, El Tabo, Chile

Kaleuche, El Tabo, Chile, a set on Flickr.
After leaving Pablo Neruda's house/museum in Isla Negra we drove south to the next little town. To get a feel of the community and culture we poked in and out of the residential streets along the beach.

On a whim, we decided to just take a turn down a random dusty old road (Maipo) and followed the road to the end ...just to see where it went. Just a little faded sign at the base of the hill to the beach indicated something may be there. To our amazement we discovered a beautiful beach with delightful hidden restaurant. It's eclectic decor of old bottle bottoms, Styrofoam ceiling tiles carved in sea motif and fishing nets draping across the top made our discovery even more fanciful. Best yet was the great service and deliciously prepared fresh fish!

I  recommend calling for reservations. You can also just take your chances. We did the first time we ate there. We signed up for the next table, gave them our cell number then went beach combing until the gave us a call to let us know the table was ready.

Dirección: Chorrillos 1420
Teléfono: 35- 469012
Mail: kaleuche@hotmail.com
El Tabo

Monday, February 27, 2012

Second anniversary of F-27, Chile's 8.8 earthquake

Two years ago today we experienced and lived through the 8.8 earthquake that rocked Chile in the early morning hours. Here is my accounting of that evening and the events following published in March of 2010:
The hour that earth refused to stand still. Photo by
D. Martinez
The world's fifth largest earthquake occurred in Chile at 3:34 AM, February 27, 2010.  I had just barely fallen asleep after staying up until 2 AM preparing for my daughter, Kristina's Welcome to Chile party, thinking I'd have everything done, could sleep in and actually be able to enjoy the festivities. Our daughter arrived in Santiago 3 days prior to the first earthquake with plans to start work with Bechtel Mining and Metals that coming Monday. Shortly, as I drifted to sleep the bed suddenly bounced up and down in short, quick shakes as though someone was using a jackhammer under our mattress. The rapid up and down shaking was the precursor to what seemed to be an unending series of violent spasms that set our apartment building swaying deeply from side to side. From our opened windows I could hear the cracking and grinding of buildings and hear the explosions coming from the electrical transformers across the capital city. 

As I ran out of bed trying to make sense of this unnerving, unceasing, and ever increasing level of violence my first and immediate thought was "Terrorist attack!" having lived in the Washington, DC area when the Pentagon was attacked during 9/11.  I quickly dismissed that thought as memories of our life in California flooded back (Loma Perieta, 1989; San Fernando, 1971) while our building was now forced to endure unending thrashings.

All four of us, Jorge, Andy, Kristina and I met in the office area outside our bedrooms as we tried to make sense of it all. Sammy, our dog, fell out of my arms and ran to hide under the couch in the living room. His yelp as chairs fell and doors were slamming open and shut with the force of the quake made me worry for his life. More and more our 16th floor apartment swayed like a swing gone wild as we heard the crashing of our belongings and those of the apartment dwellers about us. For us it seemed never ending, we wondered as the building swayed deeper and deeper and the ceiling molding fell about us was this it? Praying to God to please make it stop, we discovered later the quake lasted three minutes, the time of a song; short in simple terms of daily life-- a lifetime in a moment of fear.

We hung onto the door frames as we had done many years ago in California.  (According to FEMA: Doorways for shelter are to be used only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway). Now we know that was not the best thing for us to have done. We should have stayed in bed holding on and protecting our heads with a pillow since none of us were under a heavy light fixture that could fall (If that is the case for next time, we need to move to the nearest safe place).

And then it stopped.

Wonderfully ever-ready Jorge was able to get together flashlights for all of us as we tried to make our way through the darkness. While the building and the earth beneath it were no longer swaying our hands and voices shuddered with nervousness and fear. I ran to find Sammy crouched and shaking under the sofa and check on the birds to see if they were fine. The bird cage had moved three feet from the wall but was still standing. We took a quick assessment of the damage in the apartment: chandelier ripped from the ceiling and tossed into the corner, chairs upended, dishes on the floor, lamps broken and smashed brick-a-brack.  Amazingly there were corners that seemed untouched while others were in great dishevel. We could tell the direction of the movement by the way our belongs were laying across the floor.  Each room had cracks in the wall with breaks in the plaster.

We quickly got dressed. Helping Andy get his belongings together we realized that his bedside lamp was tossed upon his glasses, breaking the lamp and snapping the temple joint from the frame. He would have to endure this event without his glasses. We dressed in long sleeved shirts but didn't take our coats not realizing the chills we'd feel from the shock of it all coupled with dip in the early autumn temperatures.  Andy remained remarkably calm through it all exclaiming after it was done, "Look at this mess!" His simple and astute summation made us laugh and allowed us to gather ourselves in better order as we made our way to the back door to start the descent down 16 floors.

The stair well of our apartment
Photo by D. Martinez
As we slowly walked down stairs we noticed that most of the residents were remaining in their rooms. Many of our neighbors are elderly and barely made the walk from the elevator to the park on a quiet summer's day. How would they evacuate the building now?

We agreed we'd meet in the park but worried about the possibility of the trees toppling over or breakage from the neighboring apartments. We waited outside wondering what was the true extent of the damage, not only here but across all of Chile. We were not sure if our apartment building was stable enough or had suffered structural damage. With the strength and endurance of the quake plus the extensive cracking in our apartment we felt that it had a good chance of receiving significant damage. Soon we could hear ambulance and fire engine sirens as they sped down Apoquindo in Las Condes. Family members from neighboring communities rushed to the apartments to check on their elderly parents, family members and friends residing here. We decided we'd stay where we were and remain outside in the park.

It was a curious opportunity to meet our neighbors, to share our fears, our horrors and then laugh at the little things as we tried to return to calm  and regain a sense of normal. We remarked at how lovely the full moon was-- now that we could stand still in one place long enough to actually see it. We recalled how it rose remarkably early in the afternoon's twilight over the Andes and now how tranquil it stood glowing down upon us. We joked with one neighbor who was to join us at Kristina's party that we really know how to throw a "Welcome to Chile" party and that we should change the theme to a recovery party. One neighbor suggested we join her and the sister she had come to rescue, offering us a couch and floor space at her sister's simple, one floor home. We thanked her but decided to remain behind to see what would be needed at the office and with our friends and neighbors.

Jorge recalled our new car was in the garage and noted that many residents were pulling theirs out. We decided to spend the night in our car listening to the radio and enjoying the warmth. The continued conflicting reports of tsunamis caused us even more concerns. We lightly napped through the early morning darkness jolting upright with each aftershock that followed.

With sunrise we climbed up the stairs to our 16th floor apartment to inspect the damage and determine our fate. As novices to quakes of this strength we perceived our damage as extensive, but thinking back on it now it was really minimal in comparison to what others  had to endure.  Nonetheless we opted to join with other expats and the Bechtel Crisis Team at the Ritz Carleton a few blocks away. We packed a few items, feed the birds and fish, scooped up the dog and made our way once again down the 16 flights of stairs and drove to the hotel.

Joining the other gringo refugees at the Ritz was almost a surreal experience. As one friend shared it was a scene out of the movie Titanic, most especially for her. She and her husband were residing at the Times Suites, in an extended stay hotel. They woke up with the roof-top pool flooding the stairwell. They quickly grabbed their belongings, walked through the waterfall that was once their stairwell and moved into the Ritz. As they entered the lobby someone was playing the piano, a large buffet filled with food was being served and the Chilean wine was flowing gratis to all who passed through their portals.

Many of the hotel's guests were tourists wondering how they would be able to make their way home now that the airport and roads leading to it were closed due to earthquake damage. English was the language of choice in this microcosm yet the voices heard were most distinctly different with accents originating from America, England, Canada, Australia, New Zeland, and some their English thickened by home languages of foreign locals including Chile, China, Norway, France.

The Ritz also sustained some damage to the upper rooms as their spa and swimming pool sloshed over its edges and through the floors. But despite their troubles, whether structural or ones their staff faced back home, they were incredibly comforting and accommodating.  The Ritz managed to secure the operation of the staff elevators sharing their use with the nervous guests. ALL of the staff remained accommodating and reassuring throughout the entire weekend (never mind that their families and lives were also in turmoil). The staff was able to locate on their satellite CNN in English and we remained glued to the "tellie" as we not only watched but felt the events unfold before us. With a sense of the macabre we set up a tsunami watching party with glasses of Chile's best red in hand snuggled securely in the bar's club chairs.  Little did we realize the impact this would have on the country's wine country- located in the epicenter.

Many of the employees at one of Bechtel's job sites have family in Concepcion, the epicenter. Bechtel management staff quickly set up their crisis management and assistance teams once they learned that nearly 600 of their employees remained missing.   (Happily as I type this all have been located). Two other wives and members of the Human Resources Office and I set up resources for Bechtel Spouses including a blog site and a face book page.

A special note needs to be made regarding another most accommodating and wonderful staff member in our lives, our nana, Angelica. We had tried to call our nana but were unable to get through, of course with all the communication lines down. Yet, despite all that had occurred with her own family (many of whom at the time were not accounted for) she appeared at our apartment that afternoon to come and assist us with clean up and determine if we were going to continue with our plans for the Welcome Party, our concierge informed us later. We did make contact with her later and suggested she not come in until mid week. Afterwards she would work with her  radio headset secured in her ears anxiously awaiting word from some of her family.

Since then we have had many vigorous after shocks that have kept us all on edge. I have used Facebook as a means to reach out to friends and keep in touch with those who continue to be involved in the search of their families. This weekend, one week after the initial earthquake Chile Ayuda Chile holds their telethon. Cruz Roja, Hogar de Cristo, and Un Techo para Chile have begun their recovery efforts. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Bolivia, protesters with disabilities clash with police

Globle Post reports: People with disabilities take to the streets to demand their rights in Bolivia. At the end of a 100-day march, protesters fight to push through riot police using crutches and wheelchairs. Police fight back with pepper spray.

A video on the UK’s The Guardian website (and the video below by Al Jazeera English) show protestersbashing riot officers with crutches and sticks, and shield-bearing police struggling to hold the line.

Amnesty International states:

Bolivia’s authorities must initiate a prompt, full and independent investigation into reports that police used excessive force against people with disabilities during a demonstration in La Paz on Thursday, Amnesty International said.  

Several people were injured or fainted after the police set up a cordon near the city’s Plaza Murillo and repelled protesters who tried to advance, reportedly using pepper spray and electric shocks indiscriminately.

Officials said police were acting in response to violent attacks by demonstrators, and police officers were also injured in the clashes. 

“Disturbing reports and images from near Plaza Murillo seem to show the police lashing out indiscriminately against the protesters, many of whom were using wheelchairs,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“Bolivian security forces have a duty to maintain public order, but they should always do so in compliance with international human rights standards on the use of force. Any allegations of abuse should be thoroughly and impartially investigated.” 

The clashes in La Paz ended a 100-day journey for many of the protesters, who had covered some 1,000 miles across the country to demand an increase in state subsidies for people with disabilities.

On Thursday, the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies passed a law for the preferential treatment of people with disabilities (Ley general y trato preferente para personas con discapacidad). 

The protesters claim that the government failed to take into account their demands when drafting the law. In particular, they are calling for a better work opportunities and an increase in the state disability allowance. 

“The authorities should ensure that Bolivia’s people with disabilities are consulted on any proposed law affecting them. Any measure must fulfill their needs as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Guadalupe Marengo.


The results of this study indicate that the Committee has included disability as one of the human rights concerns covered by its mandate; however, some organizations are inactive in most of the country. Most public buildings and private companies are not wheelchair accessible, and, as the Permanent Assembly acknowledges, “in general, special services and infrastructure to facilitate the circulation of people with disabilities do not exist. The lack of resources makes their full implementation impossible.”  

The study also showed that in Bolivia, people with disabilities live in constant exclusion and inequality, as victims of discrimination in different processes of socio-economic development in the country, violating their fundamental human rights on a daily basis in their social settings, in their families and in society as a whole. This situation is further aggravated by the poverty in which the majority of people with disabilities live. 
The extensive national and international legislation that protects this important group has, for many years, both on paper and in practice, been completely insufficient.  

The Bolivian education system does not provide equal education based on the respect and 
appreciation of children, adolescents and adults that allows their development in daily life. In addition to being a discriminatory system in several areas such as gender, ethnicity, and class, there is discrimination based on disability. Schools continue to discriminate against people with disabilities with segregationist practices, resulting in systematic isolation, which is reproduced in all spheres of life, causing different degrees of social exclusion.

There are regular schools that admit students with disabilities; however, this access is not accompanied by suitable learning environments for special needs, both because teaching staff are not trained for this type of task, and because of the widespread existence of stereotypes and prejudices in the teaching community. In effect, the educational system denies the special education needs of people with disabilities in its conception, structure, organization and management, causing academic exclusion, which is exacerbated by gender and ethnicity.  

There is no data about how many children with disabilities are excluded from the educational system in the country. At the international level, it is estimated that close to 78% of the school population is excluded, due to several factors related to the availability of educational programs and their accessibility, as well as to the socio-cultural conditions of the families and their social settings.

Conclusions and Recommendations 
Based on the results mentioned above, the majority of people with disabilities interviewed 
(almost all) suffer discrimination, exclusion, isolation and inequality in all spheres of society (family, education, health care, employment, etc.). 

The following recommendations are presented to meet this need:

Immediate Applications of Results
As specific conclusions for immediate application, the current monitoring study will be useful for 
us to: 

  • Have statistical data that will allow us to design projects to apply for funding.  
  • Disseminate the results obtained to raise awareness and present the issue to society.  
  • Have statistical information that will integrate the sector and strengthen the institution.  
  • Develop prevention programs and strategies against discrimination.  
  • Develop strategies to include the demands in the P.O.A. of city governments and 
  • prefectures.  
  • Design health projects, programs and new employment initiatives. 

 Recommendations for Plan of Action 
Taking into account the results obtained from the field research and based on the study’s 
conclusions, it is clear that it is necessary to promote human rights equality and the social inclusion of people with disabilities, to meet their needs and assist them in their economic and socio-cultural development.  
Raising awareness about the proper treatment of people with disabilities among the Bolivian population is a task that must be taken on directly by the government through the Ministry of Education, so that respect for differences begins right from childhood, in addition to planning and promoting strategies that will inform society about the rights of people with disabilities. 

Also advisable is the inclusion of social policies that respond to their needs through 
governmental and related organizations. These include the inclusion of people with disabilities in social protection and human development programs, and the active participation of people with disabilities in their social environment, in addition to the development of laws and national policies that ensure their rights. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

U.S. Embassy, Santiago alerts U.S. Citizens about ongoing protests in Chile's XI Region

22-02-12 8:43,Santiago U.S. Embassy:  The U.S. Embassy in Santiago alerts U.S. Citizens traveling and residing in Chile to ongoing protests in the XI Region - Región Aysén del General Carlos Ibañez del Campo (See map of area).  

A series of large-scale protests are taking place in and around the cities of Aysén and Coyhaique.  The protesters are blockading some of the main roads in the area.  Access to fuel for vehicles or mass transport may be restricted.  Travelers may therefore experience delays.

There are no indications that foreigners or U.S. citizens are being threatened or targeted.  Nonetheless, U.S. citizens are advised to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by monitoring media, knowing the locations of police stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.  The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as bystanders can quickly be caught up in unforeseen violence.  If you are in immediate danger, call the police at 133.

In order to provide more rapid information on these ongoing demonstrations, the Embassy will now post updates regarding them directly on the Emergency Messages page of the U.S. Embassy Santiago Website without sending a separate security message to U.S. citizens.  This will allow rapid access to the information by U.S. citizens both within and without Chile.

Spanish-speaking travelers may visit the official website of the Chilean National Tourist Service at http://www.sernatur.cl/  and the local government website for the Aysén Region at Intendencia XI Region   for up-to-date information.  

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Chile are encouraged to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).   U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you in case of an emergency.

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website , which contains the current Travel Warnings  and Travel Alerts  as well as the Worldwide Caution . Follow us on Twitter  and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook.  You can also download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App  to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Chile is located at Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.  U.S. citizens may contact the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy via e-mail at SantiagoAmcit@state.gov <mailto:SantiagoAmcit@state.gov>  or by calling (56) (2) 330-3000 (available 24 hours per day).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A new blog highlighting our Vizsla, Natasha Rose

I've gone and done it! I started yet another blog, Natasha Rose Can D'Ijuma that chronicles our Maygar Vizsla's life with us and that of us with her in Santiago, Chile. It will be an informative blog as well as a record of her in our family.  I hope you join me there to learn about raising a Vizsla in Santiago, exhibiting her in the Kennel Club de Chile and her adventures hunting with Jorge.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Largest virtual telescope operational in Chile and now on your computer

The central parts of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, as observed in the near-infrared with the NACO instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. By following the motions of the most central stars over more than 16 years, astronomers were able to determine the mass of the supermassive black hole that lurks there.
ESO/S. Gillessen et al.
On my list of things to do while here in Chile is to travel to the northern Atacama desert to visit to the Very Large Telescope and  the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) site.  Even more so now that Chile's  Very Large Telescope array  is operational! This is exciting news for scientists and hobbyists alike! Also operational is the  WorldWide Telescope (WWT) that enables you to explore the universe in the comfort of your home, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile, is the largest astronomical project in existence. ALMA will be a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed initially of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile.

Last week astronomers in Chile said they had combined the images from Chile's four most powerful devices as if they were a single device.

"This weekend we managed to finish the process (of merging the images) after almost a year," said Jean-Philippe Berger, a scientist at the European Southern Observatory which operates the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) in Chile's high northern desert.

"For the first time, we made scientific observations through this new instrument, and we can say that it can be used."

The VLT complex in Paranal includes four large optical telescopes, each of which are about 30 meters (100 feet) high and have mirrors eight meters (25 feet) in diameter.

The astronomers brought together the signals received by the four telescopes thanks to a technique known as interferometry, which combines the images from the four to achieve a higher resolution image. Read more

Chile's  low humidity conditions in its mountains and high-altitude deserts makes it the perfect location for many international telescopes located. The Very Large Telescope array (VLT),  the flagship facility for European Southern Observatory (ESO).  The VTL is the world's most advanced optical instrument allows astronomers to see details up to 25 times finer than with the individual telescopes, its resolution the equivalent to distinguishing the two headlights of a car at the distance of the Moon.

Those Unit Telescopes are now known as:
  • ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
  • KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
  • MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
  • YEPUN (UT4; Venus - as evening star).
Learn what there names mean here.

Can't get to the VTL? Take a virtual tour here.
Click on the image to take a Virtual Tour in and nearby the VLT.Images and videos credits: ESO/S. Brunier, ESO/H. Heyer and ESO/José Francisco Salgado

Or  better yet- have the experience of this beautiful telescopic environment at home on your computer!  The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the world’s best ground- and space-based telescopes for the exploration of the universe.

From web to desktop to full dome planetarium, the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) enables you to explore the universe, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation. Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky. You can research and import your own data and visualize it, then create a tour to share with others. This version enables seamless, guided explorations of the universe from within a web browser on PC and Intel Mac OS X by using the power of Microsoft Silverlight 4.0.

The mission of the WWT is twofold:
  • To aggregate scientific data from major telescopes, observatories, and institutions and make temporal and multi-spectral studies available through a single, cohesive Internet–based portal
  • To stimulate interest in science among younger generations, providing a compelling base for teaching astronomy, scientific discovery, and computational science 
With the viewing clients needed for your PC or Mac installed, you’ll be able to download and navigate in the WorldWide Telescope to view a growing number of guided tours created by astronomers and educators from famous observatories and planetariums. For example, you can join Harvard astronomer Alyssa Goodman on a journey that shows how dust in the Milky Way Galaxy condenses into stars and planets. Or you can accompany University of Chicago cosmologist Mike Gladders two billion years into the past to view a gravitational lens bending the light from galaxies – a phenomenon that allows you to see billions more years into cosmic history. Feel free to pause a tour at any time and explore on your own – you can later re-enter the tour where you left off.

I hope to get to Atacama this year but in the meantime I'll be playing with the WorldWide Telescope! If  you have visited the telescopes in Chile or tried the Worldwide Telescope site let us know how your visits were- actual and/or virtual. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Joint Statement of the Autism Society and Autistic Self Advocacy Network on the DSM-5 and Autism

As two national organizations committed to working to empower the autism and Autistic communities today and into the future, the Autism Society of America and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network issue the following joint statement regarding the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder within the DSM-5.

The autism spectrum is broad and diverse, including individuals with a wide range of functional needs, strengths and challenges. The DSM-5's criteria for the new, unified autism spectrum disorder diagnosis must be able to reflect that diversity and range of experience.

Over the course of the last 60 years, the definition of autism has evolved and expanded to reflect growing scientific and societal understanding of the condition. That expansion has resulted in improved societal understanding of the experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum and their family members. It has also led to the development of innovative service-provision, treatment and support strategies whose continued existence is imperative to improving the life experiences of individuals and families. As the DSM-5's final release approaches and the autism and Autistic communities prepare for a unified diagnosis of ASD encompassing the broad range of different autism experiences, it is important for us to keep a few basic priorities in mind.

One of the key principles of the medical profession has always been, "First, do no harm." As such, it is essential that the DSM-5's criteria are structured in such a way as to ensure that those who have or would have qualified for a diagnosis under the DSM-IV maintain access to an ASD diagnosis. Contrary to assertions that ASD is over diagnosed, evidence suggests that the opposite is the case - namely, that racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, adults and individuals from rural and low-income communities face challenges in accessing diagnosis, even where they clearly fit criteria under the DSM-IV. Furthermore, additional effort is needed to ensure that the criteria for ASD in the DSM-5 are culturally competent and accessible to under-represented groups. Addressing the needs of marginalized communities has been a consistent problem with the  DSM-IV.

Individuals receive a diagnosis for a wide variety of reasons. Evidence from research and practice supports the idea that enhancing access to diagnosis can result in substantial improvements in quality of life and more competent forms of service-provision and mental health treatment. This is particularly true for individuals receiving diagnosis later in life, who may have managed to discover coping strategies and other adaptive mechanisms which serve to mask traits of ASD prior to a diagnosis. Frequently, individuals who are diagnosed in adolescence or adulthood report that receiving a diagnosis results in improvements in the provision of existing services and mental health treatment, a conceptual framework that helps explain past experiences, greater self-understanding and informal support as well as an awareness of additional, previously unknown service options.

Some have criticized the idea of maintaining the existing, broad autism spectrum, stating that doing so takes limited resources away from those most in need. We contend that this is a misleading argument - no publicly funded resource is accessible to autistic adults and children solely on the basis of a diagnosis. Furthermore, while the fact that an individual has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder does not in and of itself provide access to any type of service-provision or funding, a diagnosis can be a useful contributing factor in assisting those who meet other functional eligibility criteria in accessing necessary supports, reasonable accommodations and legal protections. As such, we encourage the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Disorders Working Group to interpret the definition of autism spectrum disorder broadly, so as to ensure that all of those who can benefit from an ASD diagnosis have the ability to do so.

The Autism Society and Autistic Self Advocacy Network encourage other organizations and groups to join with us in forming a national coalition aimed at working on issues related to definition of the autism spectrum within the DSM-5. Community engagement and representation within the DSM-5 process itself is a critical component of ensuring accurate, scientific and research-validated diagnostic criteria. Furthermore, our community must work both before and after the finalization of the DSM-5 to conduct effective outreach and training on how to appropriately identify and diagnose all those on the autism spectrum, regardless of age, background or status in other under-represented groups.

Scott Badesch
Autism Society

Ari Ne'eman
Autistic Self Advocacy Network

P.S. The Autism Society will continue to share its thoughts and feelings about keeping the community inclusive as more information about the revisions is known.  In the meantime, we strongly encourage people to get involved in the discussion.

Don't throw Planned Parenthood under the bus! Cancer Prevention vs Anti-abortion Politics

I have made a personal decision to donate to any other cancer foundation other than Susan G. Komen Foundation.  I told the board of Susan G. Komen:
Don't throw Planned Parenthood under the bus! Don't cave to anti-woman extremists and cut off funding for breast cancer screenings at the largest provider of health care for women. 
If you haven't heard, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation will stop funding breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood health centers. I just signed onto a letter to all the anti-choice, anti-women people out there, telling them to listen up and that I still stand with Planned Parenthood. Add your name:

I contributed to Planned Parenthood-- I hope you will too. Planned Parenthood donors like me contributed $650,000 within 24 hours after Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut off funding,  nearly enough to replace last year’s Komen funding, Planned Parenthood executives said Wednesday.

And just so you know: PPFA carried out 329,445 abortions, but rendered  11,003,366 non-abortion health services. That means that 97 percent of PPFA’s work is purely health related and not aimed at terminating pregnancies. Nearly 170,000 breast exams carried out by PPFA in 2010 were underwritten by grant money from the Komen charity.

The organization had raised more than $400,000 from more than 6,000 online donors as of Wednesday afternoon, compared with the 100 to 200 donations it receives on an average day, said Tait Sye, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He said donations were still coming in.

 Planned Parenthood announced:
After facing pressure from anti-women's health political organizations, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has announced that it is ending future funding for lifesaving breast cancer screenings and breast health education at Planned Parenthood health centers.
At immediate risk are low-income women, many located in rural and underserved communities, served by 19 Planned Parenthood programs funded by the Komen Foundation. This funding has enabled designated Planned Parenthood health centers to provide women with breast health education, screenings, and referrals for mammograms — lifesaving care for women where Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care.
Looking at the reports it does indeed appear that Komen’s Planned Parenthood decision all about politics:
The Dallas-based organization, which is the country’s biggest breast cancer charity, insisted its controversial decision to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates was made only in light of Komen’s new policy against supporting agencies that are under investigation. (The congressional investigation itself was launched by a conservative Republican and spurred by antiabortion groups.)
The decision was “not about politics,” a Komen statement insisted.

But the truth is that Komen founder Nancy Brinker has strong Republican ties and Cecile Richards, who leads Planned Parenthood, is daughter of late Texas Gov. Ann Richards and has longtime Democratic Party ties. Also worth noting: This is an election year. [Emphasis added]

Other election/politics related information includes the fact that Komen's new vice president, Karen Handel, ran an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform and was endorsed by Sarah Palin in her run for governor of Georgia in 2010.  She firmly stated she does not endorse Planned Parenthood's mission.

As soon as Komen unveiled a new partnership to strengthen its ties to the  policy-making arm of the  George W. Bush Institute, they decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood.  The G.W. Bush Institute also provides overall coordination of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, described as an “innovative partnership to leverage public and private investments in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer” in developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Other partners along with Susan G. Komen include the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

The Washington Post notes:
The founding corporate sponsor is Merck, which is making a financial contribution of $3 million over three years and in-kind contributions to a cervical cancer vaccination program in Tanzania.

Merck, which manufactures the Gardasil vaccine, is a longtime campaign donor to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose ties to the company were briefly an issue during his failed presidential bid. Rival Michele Bachman accused Perry of pushing the Gardasil vaccine on young girls in Texas at Merck’s behest in 2007.
You may recall that Planned Parenthood's Richards, mother, Texas Gov. Ann Richards, lost her reelection bid to Bush. As a reaction to the announcement Dallas Democratic donors Ann and Lee Fikes  donated $250,000 donation to Planned Parenthood in response to the Komen decision to help launch a Breast Health Emergency Fund to offset Komen’s funding cut at 19 local Planned Parenthood programs.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said earlier that the cutoff results from the charity's newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) called for a  far-reaching investigation into Planned Parenthood and its handling of federal funding as reported by HuffingtonPost
After Republican lawmakers tried and failed to defund Planned Parenthood during federal budget negotiations in February, the anti-abortion activist group Americans United for Life released a 30-page report that accused the family planning provider of misusing federal funds, failing to report child sex abuse, assisting sex traffickers and a host of other illegal activities, though similar accusations were made against Planned Parenthood and debunked earlier this year. The purpose of AUL's report was to convince Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood and revoke its taxpayer funds.

Over the past five years, Komen funding has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams out of more than 4 million nationwide at Planned Parenthood health centers. Komen has also provided more than 6,400 out of 70,000 mammogram referrals.

Those non-abortion-related services are often the collateral damage when Planned Parenthood takes a hit.

I told the board of Susan G. Komen: Don't throw Planned Parenthood under the bus! Don't cave to anti-woman extremists and cut off funding for breast cancer screenings at the largest provider of health care for women.
I hope you will too. You can get more information and sign the petition at the link below.


Planned Parenthood is determined to make sure that Komen’s decision doesn’t jeopardize women’s access to health care. Please make a contribution today to help us defend access to care and continue to protect and promote women's health.

Read more about The Politics of Planned Parenthood 

(1) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57369527-10391704/susan-g-komen-cuts-ties-with-planned-parenthood/
(2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/31/planned-parenthood-bullying-cancer-charity
(3) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/komens-planned-parenthood-decision-all-about-politics/2012/02/01/gIQAJS1xhQ_blog.html
(4) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/komen-planned-parenthood-cuts-karen-handel_n_1245568.html?ref=mostpopular



Planned Parenthood

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Avon Foundation Breast Centre

Breast Cancer Action (vocally opposed to Komen's cutting funding to PP)

American Cancer Society 

Breast Cancer Fund
National Breast Cancer Foundation


Corporate Sponsors of SGKF to Boycott:

ACH Food Companies: Bake for the Cure
Acushnet - Titleist, Pinnacle and FootJoy Worldwide
Alternative Apparel
American Airlines
American Blue Ribbon Holdings
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ansell Healthcare Products LLC
Aquage (SalonQuest, LLC)
Arizona AFO
Armouth International
Avcor Healthcare Products, Inc.
Balance Walking by Foot Solutions
Bank of America
BCBG MAXAZRIA and ClearVision Optical
Beemster Cheese
Berkley Packaging Company, Inc.
Boar’s Head Provisions Co., Inc.
BoConcept USA, Inc.
Boots Retail USA, Inc
Boston Proper
Boston Warehouse
Bowl for the Cure
Brinker International
Brown Shoe Company
California Pear Advisory Board
Canari Cyclewear
Candy Coburn – Pink Warrior
Caribou Coffee Company, Inc.
Carlisle Collection, Ltd
Century Payments
Charlotte Motor Speedway and The Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage
Chasing Fireflies
Chesapeake Bay Candle Co
Citizen Watch Company of America
Clean Ones Corporation
Coldwater Creek
Collegiate Shipping Products, LLC
Corning Life Sciences
Dallas Cowboys - I Promise
Deluxe Checks
Deuce Brand
DS Waters
Eggland's Best, Inc.
Evite and Postmark
Exercise TV
Exhale Enterprises, Inc.
Fable Designs, Inc
Feld Entertainment’s Disney on Ice presents Treasure Trove and Dare to Dream
Ford Gum
Ford Motor Company
Forever 21
Fragrance Marketing Group
Freed’s Bakery, LLC
FUZE and Honest Tea
Garden State Growers
General Growth Properties
General Mills Pink Together
Global Filtration
Globe Electric
Graphique de France
GUESS by Marciano
Hallmark Gold Crown Stores
Hampshire Designers
Hand & Nail Harmony
Helzberg Diamonds
Holland America Line
HSN – Shop for the Cure®
Hunter Boot USA, LLC
Interfresh, Inc.
J. Berry Nursery
Jason Aldean
Jersey Mike's Subs
Kelly Gale Amen Design
Kent International, Inc.
Kentucky Oaks Ladies First
Key Brands International
KeyBank Foundation
King’s Hawaiian Bakery West, Inc.
Kobian USA, Inc.
Koch Filter Corporation
Koi Design
La Madeleine
LaCroix Sparkling Water
Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)
Liberty Mutual
LIFE Event-The Val Skinner Foundation
Louisville Stoneware
Lowe’s Companies, Inc
LPGA Golf Clinics for Women
Major League Baseball
McAlister's Deli
MD Jockey Club - Preakness
MegaGoods, Inc.
Merck Consumer Care
Meredith Corporation
Mobile Edge
Mohawk Flooring - Decorate for the Cure
Mrs. Baird's Bakeries
Napa Valley Naturals
Nature's Flowers
NBC Today Show
Nestle Purina PetCare Company
New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.
New Global Charities
North American Licensing Company
Not Your Daughter's Jeans
Oil Can Henry's
Old Navy
Omaha Steaks
On The Border – Fiesta for the Cure™
Opal Orthodontics by Ultradent
Oracle Giving Commitment Grant
Oregon Cherry Growers, Inc.
Oriental Trading Company
Otis Spunkmeyer, Inc.
Pandora Jewelry
Paris Accessories, Inc (MMG Corporation)
Payless ShoeSource
Pepperidge Farm
Philips Consumer Lifestyle
Pink Ribbon Produce
Pottery Barn Kids
Premium Outlets
Pretzel Crisps
Princess Cruises Community Foundation
Prolacta Bioscience
Provide Commerce
Rally for the Cure®
Rich Products Corporation
Robinson Home Products
Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc.
Samsung Electronics Europe
Santa Barbara Design Studio and Designs by Lolita
Sarah Fisher Racing
Savvi Formalwear
SELF Magazine
Shoutback Concepts - Deals for the Cure
Shuman Produce, Inc.
Simon Malls
Specialized Bicycle Components
Springs Global
Stanley Black & Decker
Stein Mart
Stylemark, Inc.
Sy Kessler Sales, Inc.
Teasdale Quality Foods
The Hillman Group
The Mohawk Group - Specify for a Cure
The Republic of Tea
TPR Holdings LLC
Trident Seafoods Corporation
True Religion Brand Jeans
Tubbs Romp to Stomp Snowshoe Series
U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
Wacoal America
Wells Lamont
Woman Within
Yoplait USA
Young Dental
Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity
Zumba Fitness

Sailing trip starts a new business-Independence and Diversity in Disability (iDID)

Can you please lend a hand to voyage crew Jennie Goodrum and her new company Diversity in Disability (iDID)? Jennie took a  voyage on Tenacious through the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), a registered charity that owns and operates Lord Nelson and Tenacious. These are the only two tall ships in the world designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side as equals. 
After that experience she has been setting up a new company, Independence and Diversity in Disability (iDID), which aims to revolutionize the way people with disabilities are seen in society through increased participation in adventure sports. Jennie explains in her blog:
iDID is not only about improving access for people with disabilities but allowing them (us) to become who we want to be, to live life to its fullest and show a side to us people didn’t know we had...not to mention an ABILITY no one knew about!

So as I was saying...who am I?  Perhaps the best place to start that one is in July this year. I was presented with the opportunity to spend nine days sailing a tall ship across the English Channel. I jumped at it. Not literally, as this would be impossible for me, but having said that I did something truly amazing on that ship, something many people wouldn’t have believed possible. I climbed the mast. For an able-bodied person this is pretty cool, but for someone who has a physical disability and can’t walk far?  Pretty incredible.  And something I’d do again tomorrow.  Because that’s who I am.

The reason I was able to do this was because the voyage was with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, an organisation that owns two adapted tall ships and runs voyages that cater for any type of physical disability. Half the crew had a physical disability, and when I say crew, I mean crew. We worked on the ship, handling the sails, steering the ship, helping in the kitchen, keeping watch around the clock (yes, that included night watches) and everything else that was involved in running the ship. Everyone was encouraged to do as much as they could, and indeed everyone had to do their bit as it was the only way the ship could be sailed across to France and back. You’d be surprised how much people can do with the right adaptations or simply the right people with a can do attitude!  Get a mix of both and you’re well on your way to full participation in fun physical activities and extreme sports!  Ring a bell?
She is also developing adapted sports clothing to increase independence in sports participation. It would be a great help if people could respond to her survey to help understand how best to adapt these clothes for people. 
The link to the survey is:

Speaking in tongues In Chile but not in the USA

There's a saying that a person who speaks three languages is tri-lingual, a person who speaks two languages is bi-lingual and a person who speaks one language is American.  Since my arrival I've met many young college students who have come to Chile to "learn Spanish." Many do it as they try their hand at teaching Chilean youth English while others are on a sojourn to discover themselves and South America.

I arrived in Chile with the vestiges of a dusty second major in Spanish honed by 33 years of marriage to a man whose family is from Spain-- the land of the Mother-tongue. And despite the fact I learned my Spanish in California, I do have on occasion a noticeable Castilian lisp influenced by visits with the family and vacations on the coast in the provence of Murcia. After only a few days in Chile however, it soon becomes evident that, while the tour books and the college study abroad pamphlets insist the country speaks Spanish, Chilean is not my Mother-in-law's Spanish!

Learning a second language, and especially English, is highly valued outside of the USA. In Chile many schools include it as an integral part of their curriculum. Universidad Mayor, accredited through 2015 by Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the U.S.A. (MSCHE), hopes to be Chile's first university that teaches in English. Many European schools include other languages within the curriculum.

How is it that in America there appears to be relatively little interest in being able to communicate with our globe-mates on our travels around the solar system?

I guess it's assumed that everyone around the world speaks English so we Americans don't have to worry. This assumption is played out by the example of an expat friend who, upon recounting her trip into the interior of Chile, shared her exasperation with the town's people for not speaking a word of English! Imagine that! I suppose that's why they call this place Chile!

Is there any hope that my fellow Americans will embrace bilingualism? I fear not. For the most part foreign language is a hurdle jumped in order to enter college and later to graduate from it as a "well rounded" citizen. The interest in being bi-lingual, to actually utilize the skill is low.  And right now the desire to have funding for it in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act even lower.  When we Americans speak of  bilingual education it's usually in an effort to erase any vestiges of any non-English culture/languages in order to endoctrinate the students into the American way.

In July  2010 Education Week's Learning the Language Blog posted:
Two Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives said at a policy briefing yesterday on Capitol Hill that they plan to introduce a bill that would authorize $400 million in funding for fiscal 2011 for the teaching of foreign languages to K-12 students. They hope the bill will become part of the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"Today, the lack of a second language doesn't just isolate people. It makes them less competitive," said U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, from California, at the briefing, which was hosted by the Asia Society and several other organizations that have joined together to advocate for more foreign-language instruction at the K-12 level. Chu, who grew up in a bilingual household, said that people who speak more than one language end up with "more customers" and "a better future."

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, from New York, also pledged his support for the bill and also emphasized how bilingualism can improve a young person's economic prospects. "Our future workers are going to be working in a global marketplace. They need to know English isn't the only language in the world," he said.
However, on October 20, 2011, the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act by a bipartisan vote of 15 to 7. Included in the act was the Casey amendment, offered by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) to create a “well-rounded” education fund similar to that proposed in the Obama Administration’s “Blueprint for Reform” (the Department of Education document released in 2010 as a guide to reauthorizing ESEA). But in reality the Casey amendment consolidated a number of existing, content-specific K-12 programs into a single fund, effectively eliminated dedicated funding for subjects like history, civics, and foreign language.  However, without the Casey provision, the Senate bill would not have any placeholder mechanism to support improvements in K-12 education for these and nine other subject areas.  Under the new structure, history and other fields now must compete against each other at the local level, and long-standing, significant K-12/higher-ed programs (e.g., Teaching American History, Foreign Language Assistance Partnerships) are to be eliminated.

Election year politics make the prospect of ESEA reauthorization this year unlikely. It will be important to follow how the 2012 candidates set the stage for future reforms at both the federal and state levels, as states apply for NCLB waivers from the U.S. Department of Education and implement promised reforms. 

See President Obama's  ESEA Reauthorization - Blueprint for Reform  
News of its progress may be followed here.