31 July 2014

City of São Paulo to Open an Immigrant Reception Center

According to a report by Viver São Paulo, the city of São Paulo is set to open in August or September of
this year a center for receiving immigrants. Reportedly the first of its kind, immigrants and refugees will receive legal support, assistance in obtaining documents, Portuguese language lessons as well as shelter. It will be located in downtown São Paulo.

São Paulo city hall says that "a multidisciplinary team will receive and support immigrants in transit or resident in the city, regardless of nationality, migratory status or legal justification for permanency in the national territory." A diverse public is expected to be served by this center, and the emphasis appears to be on refugees and bearers of humanitarian visas.

About 200 people are expected to be served every month by this center, and there will be 110 beds for those needing a place to stay overnight. Aside from dormitories, the center will provide a cafeteria, kitchen, locker room, storage area and living area. The model for this center are the Centros Nacionais de Apoio ao Imigrante (National Centers of Immigrant Support) in Portugal.

The intention is to prepare those received for the job market, although I personally have my doubts. Brazil is an incredibly challenging place even for qualified Brazilians to find work, and more highly qualified immigrants tend to end up teaching their native languages or doing consulting rather than obtaining work in their true professional areas. Furthermore, there really doesn't seem to be a shortage of so-called "low-skilled" workers for retail, manufacturing, cleaning and related employment.

In any case, I do appreciate the more welcoming approach to immigrants represented in this project, as compared with that of nations such as the United States. There is a great deal of poverty and violence in the world, and people naturally do not want to remain in such places. Brazil has a fairly high profile as an emerging economy these days, although whether that reputation is truly deserved or not is another matter.

See Also:
Ticket to Paradise: A Short Documentary About Haitian Immigrants in Brazil

30 July 2014

Humanists Support Refugee Children At The U.S. border

It turns out that however we feel about the decisions adults make, people tend to want to protect children. Minors from Central America are arriving in record numbers at the United States border, driven there by desperate poverty and violence in their home countries and carried on the hopes of their parents that they'll find a better life. Although the U.S. is deeply divided on the issue of immigration, people from across the political and religious spectrum are stepping forward to help. Humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and others share this desire to look out for the little ones.

Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist charitable organization that I introduced on this blog a few months ago, is actively seeking contributions to provide legal defense for these kids. See below for the full notice, shared here with the permission of the organization. Links to previous posts about FBB are located at the bottom of this post.

Humanist Crisis Response, a joint program of Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association, is launching a drive to raise funds for the legal representation of the more than 50,000 child refugees who have fled poverty and violence to reach the southern border of the United States over the last few months.

FBB has chosen two beneficiaries for the funds raised by this campaign: Kids in Need of Defense and The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, both of which focus on providing attorneys to represent these children in immigration hearings. Those hearings are required by federal law.

While many organizations have focused on providing food, shelter, and other basic needs for the refugee children, little attention has been paid to getting them the legal help they need to navigate an immigration system they don't understand. KIND and The Florence Project have offices in Texas, Arizona, and California and are already set up to provide this aid, but they need the resources to handle the sudden influx of new refugees.

The overwhelming majority of these child refugees are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and the conditions they left for their dangerous journey to the United States are marked with violence, poverty, and instability. For young girls, especially, sexual violence is a major driving factor. An estimated 86% of them have no one to advocate on their behalf during immigration hearings.

"As this crisis has unfolded, it has become clear that the major need for these children is not food and shelter but legal advocacy to protect their basic rights," said Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief. "No child should meet a national immigration system alone. KIND and The Florence Project are doing brilliant work to ensure that they are not alone, and the humanist community is proud to support them."

"This campaign is an opportunity for humanists to put into practice our values of justice and human rights and to ensure that vulnerable children receive the legal representation that they need," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

Click here to donate, and stay up to date with the latest news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Image credit: Donna Burton (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

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29 July 2014

The Origins of Noah

As I small child I often paged through an illustrated children's Bible, fascinated especially with the stories of Adam & Eve as well as Noah. The image in particular of people and animals being swept away in a terrible flood beneath a torrential downpour and amidst lightening seemed both horrifying and intriguing. This story was a part of the cultural air ancient Israel breathed, shared in various forms with the surrounding nations. To this day the story of a righteous man and his family being favored by heaven and spared destruction resonates with humanity.

With today being the DVD/Blu-ray/streaming release date for the Noah movie, I thought the comments below from Dr. Jacob Wright would be appropriate to share. 

See Also:
Course Review: The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

28 July 2014

Don't Confuse Your Online Shoppers

Those who work in ecommerce might want to take note. It seems that some research indicates that showing online shoppers multiple photos of the same product online confuses them a little, makes them less confident about buying and then are less satisfied after making the purchase. One suggestion is that people value uniqueness, and multiple images works against this process. To me this all makes sense because it's been shown that customers in brick-and-mortar stores are more indecisive and less satisfied when presented with multiple brands of the same type of product, especially when the prices are similar. For more, watch the video below.

See Also: