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Jesus Sect Confronts Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter witchcraft Jesus sin
Brandishing bold "Jesus or Hellfire" and "Abortion is Murder" signs, Pastor Aden and his small flock accosted passersby who were out to enjoy Friday evening festivities starting off Chestnut Hill's Harry Potter Festival (video here). Aden pointed to their "True Love Warns" sign and likened their in-your-face action to a parent stopping their kid from getting run over by a truck. "Every sinner is going to hell except they repent and Obey Jesus Christ... Witchcraft is sin, right next to drunkenness, drugs, homosexuality, adultery, rape, murder." He believes the fictional Harry Potter novels are a stepping stone like marijuana leading to crack. A young teenage preacher among them lashed out at the public, calling a woman dressed as a witch a "witch slut" and others "faggot". The group was soon enveloped by counterprotestors hoisting "Hate has no home here" signs and intermittently breaking into chant. A police line formed between the preachers, backed up against the corner bank, and people who spontaneously assumed the role of counterprotesters. A lively, largely confrontational dialog ensued. One woman shouted out at the hellfire preachers, "Get Out of My Neighborhood" before moving on. The wizardly merrymaking carried along the rest of Germantown Avenue, largely unaffected by the Pastor Aden "Jesus or Hellfire" event.
 
Hate no home counterprotest

Health care is outrageous

Health care is outrageous say AARP volunteers

​Shirley Washington, Florrie Flood and Jocelyn Powell, volunteers for AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, were outside Bredenbeck's Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia to rally support against changes to Medicare. Backed by a large sign featuring the diverse faces of its constituency (50 plus demographic), one volunteer explained their presence as a way to acquaint the community with AARP while another spoke earnestly about how prescription drug costs, higher premiums and higher deductibles negatively affect Social Security pensioners. "Health care is just outrageous." They invited your correspondent inside to sign a petition to my Congressmen and enjoy a free ice cream cone! I obliged. Watch video interview here.


Picnic and paddle to stop the oil trains

Paddle to stop oil trains

Under the watchful eyes of a score of officers from the Philadelphia Police foot and marine patrols, the PA Fish and Game Commission and the US Coast Guard, serious but festive protesters stage a family picnic and paddle on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia to mark the third anniversary of the Lac Megantic Ontario oil train derailment that killed 47 people. Coryn Wolk of the Clean Air Council points to data showing the outdated tank cars are subject to puncture even at the low speeds they move through Philadelphia, putting 700,000 residents in the potential blast/evacuation zone at risk. Clean energy groups participating in the action are urging people to contact their elected officials to stop such oil trains from passing through Philadelphia and shift toward of wind, geothermal and solar energy. Watch video here.


Grandson learns Yiddish

11 year old learns Yiddish

Your correspondent  was staying with an old Quaker friend in Maine and her 11 year old grandson came over one evening for an overnight visit.

 
The grandson had decided to learn Yiddish, the language spoken by the characters in Art Spiegelman's graphic Holocaust family memoir "Maus" after reading and becoming intrigued by the narrative. (Yiddish, an amalgam of German, Hebrew and Aramaic used  by the Jews of Eastern Europe and Russia since  before the 12th century  suffered a serious decline with the near extermination of its speakers during World War II.)
 
So I eagerly introduced the grandson to some choice Yiddish expressions I learned from my grandparents  and the next morning I wrote him a letter incorporating those words in context. I suggested he read the letter aloud to Grandmom for practice and they indulged me in letting me video them.
 
 
 

"Obama, don't deport my Mama"

Father threatened with deportation Untitled

The Mexican-American and Spanish speaking communities rallied in Norristown Monday evening for immigration reform. They demanded that Congress pass the immigration legislation that is now stalled and overshadowed by the Syrian crisis.  They also gathered signatures on a petition calling on the Norristown police  force not to assist in raids by federal immigration authorities. 

Amidst chants of "Si, se puede" ("Yes we can") speakers discussed how 400 local families have been torn apart by deportation. And parents, joined by their young children testified about how their arrests and the threat of deportation were causing their families severe emotional and economic stress. A Norristown public high school student described her constant fear that her parents might step out to the grocery store and she might never see them again were they to be arrested and deported.

Under the proposed “Dream Act,” undocumented youth who complete college or do two years of military service could earn their way to citizenship over the course of six years.

Calling for human rights and dignity for all, rally participants lit candles as dusk fell,  then circled and sang out loudly in Spanish and English, the civil rights anthem, "We shall overcome."


She advocates to free an Orca at CH Garden Fest

Chestnut Hill Garden Festival 201304

Lolita is an orca “killer” whale who has been performing at the Miami Seaquarium (http://miamiseaquarium.com/Shows/Killer-Whale-and-Dolphin) since 1970 and Gigi Glendinning is the founder of 22reasons.org (http://22reasons.org), an organization that teaches “compassion and reverence for all animals” who believes Lolita deserves a rehabilitative retirement where she has round-the-clock veterinary care and the opportunity to return to the sea.

Glendinning was out advocating at a booth at the Chestnut Hill Garden Festival on Sunday with a niece costumed as a killer whale.  Kids were invited to paint a life size illustration of a killer whale on a huge tarp on the ground.  22Reasons and  several similarly missioned organizations are mounting a petition drive and urging parents to NOT buy tickets to shows like Lolita’s where animals are forced to perform.  It sends a contradictory message to children, Glendinning maintains, to attempt to instill respect for these animals while simultaneously mistreating them.

According to Glendinning, Lolita was illegally captured and is being illegally contained in a concrete pool so small her tail touches the bottom and where, as a member of an exceptionally intelligent and social species, she is deprived of necessary social contact and subject to many confinement-related afflictions.

She presented your correspondent with a copy of the book, “Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity” by  David Kirby  (St Martins Press 2012) about killer whales in the marine park industry, their advocates and the brutal and sometimes lethal attacks on  trainers over the years, attributed to captivity-related aggressiveness of the orcas. Watch video interview here.

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Sheet Metal Union pickets Chestnut Hill College

Sheet Metal Union pickets Chestnut Hill College

The Sheet Metal Workers Union has been protesting Chestnut Hill College’s use of non-union, Delaware-based contractor DJ Wagner. Eddie Guinan, a sheet metal worker who is manning the picket this day, says Chestnut Hill Hospital, down the street used union workers [for its recent renovations] and that Chestnut Hill College should do the same. The police were called one time and he thinks it was the college’s way of letting the union know that they don’t like the picket.

Guinan believes that a college that is charging students $41,000 a year naturally wants the best educated teachers and should also want the best educated- that is, union- workers. Union standards and wages, he says, protect his ability to pay his bills and take care of his family. He contrasts that with non-union workers who may only get only 32 hours, not 40 hours of work a week and without benefits. Guinan works in heating, ventilation and a variety of specialty projects but work has been difficult to find in recent years. He credits the Republicans with doing their best job in the last four years of crushing the unions.

Watch video interview here.

NOTE: A comment has been received that the non-union work is being done for the Sisters of Saint Joseph (who run Chestnut Hill College) at their convent.


T shirts mark gun deaths

t-shirts mark gun deaths

When Joanne Thompson arrived at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, she was taken by the display of hundreds of t-shirts mounted on wooden crosses, flapping in the wind. From someone coming out the church door she learned that each shirt bore the name and age of each of the 312 people killed by a gun in Philadelphia in 2012. She pointed out a sign at the sidewalk calling for Mayor Nutter to take action. Although Thompson, personally, has not been affected by gun violence, “it’s horrible”, she says and affects the whole community: everyone has to fear for his or her own safety or that of a child. The display is being mounted by an organization called, “Heeding God’s Call.” www.heedinggodscall.org/

Watch video here