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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Anthology on Autism and Race (by autistic people of color)

Hello everyone,

I'm collaborating with the Autism Women's Network to edit a new anthology
on autism and race to be written entirely by autistic people of color. The
vast majority of literature about autism, whether written by autistics or
non-autistics, largely excludes the voices and experiences of autistic
people of color, and we're hoping to change that conversation. You can read
more about the history and vision for this project (and watch/listen to our
captioned and transcribed intro video) at our fundraiser page

Right now, we are fundraising on IndieGoGo
<> to cover the
costs of printing and publication, since AWN is a tiny nonprofit with a
small budget, and we'd like to produce the anthology independent of any
corporate publishing house. The costs will go toward publishing the
anthology in a variety of formats so it will be as accessible as possible
-- large print, standard print, Braille, e-book formats, etc. We have a
total projected budget of $10,000 to cover all associated costs, and in the
first week of the fundraiser, have raised the first $1,000, but need to
find the rest in the next four weeks. If you can donate anything, or know
anyone else who might be able and willing, it would be awesome to pass on
the link.

We have also published the submission guidelines for the anthology
<>, so please share
far and wide. We're especially hoping that autistic people of color who
live *outside *the United States will submit since much literature focuses
only on U.S. perspectives. We're also particularly interested in centering
people who are Black, queer, trans*, chronically ill, poor, migrant, young,
mad, or multiply-disabled. We welcome artists and activists, as well as
scholars. The submission deadline is November 15th.

Thank you so much for any help on either front, and I'm looking forward to
reading any submissions!

*Lydia Brown*
+1 202-618-0187 (voice or text)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I will be submitting a UN inquiry request into Britain's benefit-sanctioning regime, and I need your assistance

Ahead of the September meeting of the Human Rights Council (see third paragraph of, I will shortly submit an inquiry request to the CRPD and Human Rights Council, petitioning them to open an investigation into Britain's benefit-sanctioning regime. (At the request of Jorge Araya, UNCRPD Secretary, I am completing a bibliography of media articles on this subject, with particular focus on inappropriate sanctions.) You may already know my views on this matter:

My bibliographic assignment for the UNCRPD Secretary might be an indication that the UN has already opened an investigation into Britain's benefit-sanctioning regime, but for the sake of certainty I'll make that request myself.

In my opinion, there's enough compelling evidence (especially from MPs and the Work & Pensions Committee) to persuade the UN to open an investigation into Britain's benefit-sanctioning regime. (See, for instance:

 1) Stitching-up claimants is all part of the job, says Jobcentre insider - Ros Wynne Jones - Mirror Online

2) Former DWP Staff Set Up Website To Help Wrongly Sanctioned Jobseekers

3) MPs 'Lying' About Benefit Sanction Targets, Says Whistleblower

4) A selection of especially stupid benefit sanctions

5) Press release from Sheila Gilmore MP: Work and Pensions Committee member slams overuse of benefits sanctions

6) DWP target mental health claimants for ESA sanctions

But there are a couple of caveats. The first, as Jorge Araya, Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, points out: "Please be aware that most if not all of the human rights mechanisms cannot base their findings and recommendations solely on media reports."

The second is that the UN lacks the statutory power to enforce the UNCRPD, although legally bound signatories to this international law usually comply with its judgements. (In many countries, the UNCRPD becomes domestically operational when it is made part of a national legislation.)

I am looking for any news articles, Hansard transcripts, reports and studies, videos, Parliamentary debates, personal testimonies and correspondence (permissions may have to be obtained) which pertain to or mention benefit-sanctioning and inappropriate benefit-sanctioning.  My e-mail address is:

Thanking you in advance for any assistance.

Samuel Miller

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Inopportune Time

From my perspective, this is an inopportune time: UK Parliament is in summer recess; Navi Pillay completes her term as High Commissioner for Human Rights; and, Prince Zeid, who is currently Jordan's U.N. ambassador, begins his four-year term as U.N. human rights chief on September 1.  He will become the first U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from the Muslim and Arab world and may be preoccupied with the Middle East conflict and its aftermath, in addition to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

New "poverty" UN special rapporteurs have been appointed, and I will have to spend time familiarizing them with U.K.'s draconian welfare reforms, especially their harsh and punitive impact on sick and disabled people.

The UN special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities will be appointed by the Human Rights Council, in September.  A 22-page letter, pointing out that cuts to social security benefits introduced by Iain Duncan Smith and enforced by his Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of the Coalition government may constitute a breach of the UK’s international treaty obligations to the poor, will also be discussed at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in New York, in September. It is signed by Raquel Rolnik, the former UN special rapporteur on adequate housing; Magdalena SepĂșlveda Carmona, the former UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty; and Olivier De Schutter, the former UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Matilda Ziegler Magazine, once described by Helen Keller as a "godsend," ceases publication

I thought that some of you would want to mark the snuffing-out of a candle for blind culture. I'm very disappointed by this loss of a venue that has published writings by blind people. I'm even more disappointed that it wasn't for lack of funds, but because of the choice to focus on medical research instead.

Letter below.


July 25, 2014

As you are aware the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind has been suspended for the past several months pending a review by the Board of Directors of The E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind. Considerable time was spent evaluating its substance, breadth of distribution, and readers' responses. With heavy heart the directors voted to discontinue the weekly magazine and use the Foundation's resources solely for scientific research through grants to highly innovative medical researchers who are making important advances in vision research.

We've come a long way from when my great grandmother, Electa Matilda Ziegler, founded the magazine in 1907 with the goal of producing reading material for the blind "as much as possible like that published for the seeing." Raised type books of the era were expensive, and the freely circulated magazine helped to fill an information void.

Today's blind and those with visual impairment can obtain books and magazines in Braille, on cassette, and in DVD or CD format from the National Library Service and the American Foundation for the Blind. Radio, television, internet, and commercially produced audio books have all become accessible, and provide resources that could not have been imagined in 1907.

Your emails and letters show that we've touched the lives of thousands of blind and vision impaired people. The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind was once described by Helen Keller as a "godsend," and Mark Twain described it as "one of the noblest benefactions of his lifetime." We hope to realize a medical breakthrough that will be worthy of the same praise.

On behalf of the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation Board I sincerely thank you for your loyal readership over our many years.

Cynthia Ziegler Brighton

Sunday, July 6, 2014

UK event: Short Course - Paranoia and Beliefs


Short course (comprising one-and-a-half days)

Thursday 14th August 2014, 10.00am to 5.00pm
Friday 15th August, 10.00am to 2.00pm

run by the London Paranoia & Beliefs Project (part of Mind in Camden)

 This short course does not include training in setting up, or facilitating, a Paranoia Peer Support Group. The focus will be on looking at different ways of making sense of, and coping with paranoia and the distress related to beliefs.

The London Paranoia & Beliefs Project launched in February 2012, and is run by Mind in Camden in partnership with the National Paranoia Network. Mind in Camden is known for its previous success establishing a Londonwide network of groups for people who hear voices. Founded on an ethos of acceptance and validation, Hearing Voices Groups provide a safe space where members can share without fear of judgement, and where their experiences are understood as having personal meaning. The London Paranoia & Beliefs Project aims to develop a similar network of peer support groups for people experiencing paranoia or distress related to beliefs. There are now 12 such groups currently running in London – where beliefs can be explored, common ground discovered, and coping strategies shared.

£7 for individuals with lived experience of paranoia
£50 for individuals without lived experience of paranoia
£50 for Voluntary Organisations
£75 for Statutory Organisations

Cardboard Citizens
77A Greenfield Rd
London E1 1EJ

with best wishes

John Wetherell
Project Assistant
020 7241 8978

London Paranoia & Beliefs Project
run in partnership with the National Paranoia Network

Mind in Camden
Barnes House, 9-15 Camden Road, London, NW1 9LQ

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fundraising Appeal From Left Foot Forward

Dear Friend,
TONIGHT at the private members’ club, Hurlingham, the Tories will host around 500 of the mega-wealthy to raise funds that they hope will fool the public into forgetting everything they’ve done since coming to power.
Last year at a similar private fundraiser, David Cameron rubbed shoulders with the likes of Vladimir Putin’s aide (and judo partner), Vasily Shestakov, and the lobbyists who represent the wife of the Syrian president Asma al-Assad. 449 of the super-rich, holding a combined £11 billion, paid £12,000 per table and then donated a further £5 million.
The strength of the left is in the power of us all coming together to combat these few mega-wealthy individuals. Can you donate £5 right now to help us?
Click here to chip in just £5:
Between all of us, every little bit makes a big difference. Thank you for supporting us.
Best wishes,
James Bloodworth, Left Foot Forward

Saturday, June 28, 2014

When Lord Daniel Finkelstein makes a case for a crackdown on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance, does anyone hear?

Three days ago, Inside Housing featured this news story:

Further cuts to the poor are inevitable, says Tory peer

Lord Daniel Finkelstein, a Conservative peer and friend of George Osborne, said today that further cuts to the poor are inevitable.
In a debate at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester on whether the state has abandoned the poor, Lord Finkelstein said: ‘It’s a trick to believe it’s possible to do something about this problem of over borrowing without cutting people’s income. Any government that is elected will have to cut expenditure and that will undoubtedly fall on poor people.’

He said the solution was: ‘To refuse in future to make promises to people that we then can’t redeem.’

In response, I tweeted: Predictably, no mention by Lord Daniel Finkelstein of the need to crack down on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance. (

Much to my surprise, two days later Lord Finkelstein  responded: I only had 15 mins, but of course I am in favour of that. (

After favoring and re-tweeting his response, I  countered with  @Dannythefink I appreciate that clarification, but a tweet is akin to a tree falling in the forest that nobody hears. Would you be willing to contact "Inside Housing" ( and inform them that you agree with me on the need to crack down on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance? (

Silence from Lord Finkelstein. A tree has fallen in the forest that no one has heard.