Monthly Archives: July 2008

Recipe: trout with millet and fennel

This is an older post, from the old house, in Baldwin Park.  It got lost in the blog move, and resurfaced with a strange date on it. I resubmit it now!


emma’s trout and millet with fennel

1 cup millet
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped end of season, green tomatoes*
2 stalks celery, chopped
olive oil, to coat pan
1T chopped or minced garlic
3 cups water
2 lbs fresh trout
2 T rosemary*
1 1/2 cups chopped fennel stalks*
2 lemons*

coat a large hot paella pan with olive oil. add onion, tomatoes, celery and garlic. cook until tender. add millet. sauté for one minute. add water. cover for 25 minutes, simmer, stirring occasionally. add trout. cover with fennel. add juice of one lemon and slices of the other lemon. cover and simmer until fish is cooked.

*from my garden

National Coalition for Disability Rights

OPINION: As the ADA Amendments Act Passes In the House…

While the recent legislation passed by the House, is a marked 
improvement on limits imposed upon previous legislation by rigid and 
reactionary Supreme Court rulings, the current legislation still 
provides business and public services huge leeway in denying access to 
people with disabilities, and of particular concern are the limits 
imposed on acceptable service animals.

Emma Rosenthal
National Coalition for Disability Rights
OPINION: As the ADA Amendments Act Passes In the House…
The ADA Watch/NCDR Board and State Steering Committee has announced, in 
a show of unity with other disability organizations, its support of the 
ADA Amendments Act.
This is not, however, the ADA Restoration Act we all worked so hard on 
and it is quickly moving forward without the support of key disability 
rights organizations and leaders. The concerns being voiced come from 
many who were vital in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities 
Act in 1990. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund 
for example, as part of an analysis posted on their website, states that:
"Passage of the current deal will improve the status quo for many, but 
it will also mean that the opportunity to correct the paradigm to remove 
severity as a factor of coverage and include many more who are currently 
unable to use the ADA because they are not considered "disabled enough" 
will be lost or indefinitely delayed as the new provisions are 
interpreted up the judicial ladder."
[The medical severity test evokes eligibility criteria for benefits 
programs, an area of law that the courts encounter more frequently, 
rather than supporting a civil rights interpretation. The severity of 
disability should be irrelevant to whether the plaintiff's impairment 
resulted in discrimination. The ADA Restoration Act, unlike the ADA 
Amendments Act, would remove a medical severity test, allowing any 
person with an actual or perceived impairment the opportunity to show 
that he or she was subjected to an adverse action on the basis of that 
As you might have noticed, ADA Watch has been publicly quiet for some 
time now. Spending 18 months on the Road To Freedom bus traveling the 
United States to promote the original ADA Restoration Act certainly has 
left us in a prolonged period of reentry both organizationally and 
personally. [See below for what we have been cooking up] But we also we 
also held our public tongue at the request of disability negotiators who 
were in "delicate" negotiations with the business community.
Well now those negotiations are over, there is a deal that does not 
allow for any strengthening of the bill by our supporters in Congress, 
and there is little time to use this process to build community or 
change public consciousness about disability rights. There also seems to 
be, in this process, a missed opportunity.
As this process unfolded, ADA Watch/NCDR was at the table and, like 
others, expressed our concerns regarding content, process and timing. 
While many say that this is the best deal that could be had in the 
current environment, and while the Congressional leadership forced us 
into negotiations with business lobbying groups before it went to the 
floor, it seems that we, as a community, could have done more to soften 
the ground leading to these negotiations. A more cohesive and inclusive 
campaign, much like the one that led to the initial passage of the ADA, 
could have produced greater unity in our community and capitalized on 
all of our strengths -- from the grassroots advocates to the legal 
teams, from our lobbyists to our media experts, and more.
ADA Watch/NCDR was praised by the disability negotiators for the 
extensive media we received in publicly making the case for ADA 
Restoration on the Road To Freedom bus tour. While we appreciate the 
praise, the reality is that we have one of the smallest budgets of any 
national organization - less than the yearly CEO salaries of some of the 
larger organizations. The fact that we received the bulk of media 
coverage in the year prior to this deal leaves us wondering what might 
have been had there been the will to fund either our campaign or another 
centralized effort to compete against the well-organized campaign of our 
opponents. While we often say that we are a poor community and that we 
can never compete with the well-funded corporate lobbyists, the reality 
is that - while our constituency is poor - there are billions of dollars 
being raised annually in the name of disability. Isn't it time that a 
larger share of those funds went to publically promote the ADA and 
disability rights - not as charity, not as sympathy, not just as 
research or cure - but as fundamental civil and human rights.
As we learned in traveling around the country, and as you surely know, 
we are not winning in the media. More times than not, the ADA is covered 
as "big government putting "Mom and Pop" stores out of business." (Never 
mind that this is fiction and that, more times than not, we are talking 
about multinational corporations!) These stories are generated directly 
from the news releases from corporate lobbying groups and associations. 
When the original ADA Restoration Act was introduced these groups took 
aim, even declaring that individuals with a "hangnail" were now going to 
be covered by the ADA! Outrageous as they sound, they have been very 
So we are left to guess how the negotiations might have been influenced 
were there an organized effort that matched or even exceeded that which 
led to the passage of the ADA in 1990. A campaign that drew fairly on 
the resources in our community. A campaign with earned and unearned 
media portraying the struggle for equal opportunity nearly 20 years 
after passage of the world's first civil rights law for people with 
disabilities. Community organizing efforts to teach and build coalition 
in support of restoration. Maybe even an ADAPT action at the Chamber of 
Commerce after the "hangnail" remarks. A united community pushing for 
full restoration of the ADA.
While, as an organization, we are not second-guessing our colleagues and 
have expressed support for the ADA Amendments Act, it is difficult not 
to imagine the results of a more unified effort. One that, in addition 
to the considerable legal drafting and negotiations, put similar 
emphasis - and funding - on the other "prongs" of the social change 
"pitchfork." That we could have gotten more seems evident in the now 
public sentiment of at least one of the business lobbyists involved in 
the negotiations. Randel Johnson, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber 
of Commerce, referring to the original ADA Restoration Act, was quoted 
in the Wall Street Journal as saying, "We couldn't beat this bill so 
there was a need for a compromise…"
Concerns about timing have also been raised in regard to sending this 
bill to President Bush, as the Administration responded to passage of 
the Act in the House with criticism that it "could unduly expand" 
coverage and significantly increase litigation. This criticism follows 
the Bush Administration's release of federal regulations that many 
disability rights experts declare will further weaken the Americans with 
Disabilities Act. As disability rights attorney, Steve Gold reports, "On 
June 17, 2008, the Department of Justice issued proposed rules to the 
ADA's federal regulations which, if adopted, will significantly undercut 
the original 1990 compromises and will impose numerous regressive 
restrictions. Many of the proposed rules will ensure that full 
accessibility will be, at best, postponed indefinitely."
The process leading to passage of the ADA Amendments Act has undeniably 
taken a toll on our community. There are many divisions, many bruised 
egos, many damaged relationships. When the smoke clears, we hope there 
is an awareness that there remains a need for a unified campaign to 
change the "hearts and minds" of Americans regarding the ADA and 
disability rights. We don't claim that our coalition alone is the answer 
to fill that need, but we hope that we can be a part of such an effort. 
And as we assess what happened, we should avoid the polarizing - and 
often self-serving - characterizations highlighting supposed dichotomies 
in our community such as disabled/nondisabled, lawyers/lay-advocates, 
Inside/Outside the Beltway, physical/mental disabilities, 
rights/research, and the like. This is not a time for further 
segregation but for greater unity.
This certainly is not our last legislative battle and many in our 
community have said that laws alone will not lead to the kind of social 
change we are seeking. The "missed opportunity" that many are seeing in 
this process will present itself again. Perhaps, however, we should not 
wait for the next battle and can commit now to greater unity and the 
fostering of a stronger disability community. Now, more than ever it 
seems, we need to join together behind a common agenda and we need to 
unite all aspects of what we call the "disability community." We need to 
work together as national, state and local organizations; legal, 
non-legal and self-advocacy organizations; advocates and academics; 
youth organizations; rights and research organizations; student and 
educator organizations; parent and family organizations; aging 
organizations; as well as associated non-disability led civil rights and 
social justice organizations.
We can't afford to exclude anybody who wants to get behind our vision of 
equality and opportunity for people with disabilities in America.
See below for what the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) 
has in the works for fostering "unity in the community" and changing 
public consciousness about disability rights. New membership information 
for NCDR has just been posted at: 

What do you think? Contact ADA Watch/NCDR's president, Jim Ward, 
directly and share your thoughts. He can be reached by email at <> and our mailing address is:
ADA Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights
ATTN: Jim Ward
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 900S
Washington, DC 20004
The National Coalition for Disability Rights Looks Ahead…
Here is a look at what we are working on to do our part in community 
organizing, coalition-building and public awareness. As always, we are 
seeking individual and organizational support to fulfill our mission. 
Please contact us if you have time and skills - or a financial 
contribution - that you would like to contribute to our effort. Along 
with organizers, media experts, writers and graphic designers, we are 
especially looking for technicians with experience in Joomla to put the 
finishing touches on our new online community news and action center.
Road To Freedom: Our "mobile marketing" bus continues to roll across 
America, spreading the message of disability rights as essential civil 
rights. We have traveled nearly 40,000 miles to every state. More than 
100 bus stop media events have been produced in partnership with state 
and local disability organizations. These events have attracted 
extensive media attention and included Members of Congress, Governors, 
Mayors and other state and local policymakers. We are currently editing 
both a documentary film and book of the first year of this journey and 
disability rights history. Look for the Road To Freedom bus at the 
National Council on Independent Living conference in Washington, DC next 
month, where we will lead a convoy of vehicles to the National Forum on 
Disability Issues with the presidential candidates on July 26, the 18th 
anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To view photos from 
the road, go to: 
National Agenda for Disability Rights: While some might define their 
coalition based on disability, NCDR seeks to build unity around pressing 
issues of common concern. In this spirit, NCDR will be launching a drive 
to promote a National Agenda for Disability Rights - a declaration of 
values and goals to advance equity and opportunity for people with 
disabilities. This document, which is being vetted at the national, 
state and local levels, seeks to build unity and broadly focuses on 
civil rights, housing, government services, transportation, education, 
healthcare, assistive technology and more. We will need your help to get 
national, state and local organizations to sign-on in support of the 
vetted Agenda. At this early stage, it should not be assumed that each 
organization associated with our Board of Directors, National Advisory 
Committee, or State Coalition Steering Committee necessarily supports 
this document. This document has just been posted for comments at: 
Community Organizing: NCDR seeks to place a vetted National Agenda for 
Disability Rights at the center of an intensive community organizing 
project to build coalition within the disability community at the 
national, state and local levels. NCDR has been in the process of 
reaching out to leading community organization educators with the help 
of the Association for Community Organization & Social Administration. 
ACOSA is a membership organization for community organizers, activists, 
nonprofit administrators, community builders, policy practitioners, 
students and educators. Wikipedia explains that,while "organizing 
describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in 
a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common 
agenda. Community organizers create social movements by building a base 
of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and 
developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved."
Issue Areas: NCDR has identified key areas of focus for our educational 
and advocacy efforts. These areas correspond with leadership committees 
to be comprised of leaders in respective areas as well as associated 
online content areas of the new website and Action Center. 
Contact us if you are interested in serving on one of these committees 
and/or writing for a website topic area. These areas are:
1. Civil Rights & Discrimination
2. Poverty & Social Justice
3. Healthcare & Public Policy
4. Community Organizing & Coalition-Building
5. Media & Public Outreach
6. Disability Rights History
New Website and Action Center: NCDR has been putting extensive work into 
rebuilding our online community news and action center that will reside 
Launching prior to the anniversary of the ADA on July 26th, the new 
website will:
· highlight news and coalition activities in our key areas of focus
· provide breaking news and action alerts impacting the disability community
· incorporate online advocacy tools from Democracy In Action
· provide state pages and action tools to build the capacity of state 
cross-disability coalitions
· highlight community leaders, academics and writers by way of opinion 
columns and articles
· promote "town hall" forums to increase community influence on national 
organizations and public policy
NCDR looks forward to working with you build a united disability 
community to create a more equitable and just Nation. As always, let us 
know what you think.
National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR)
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 900S
Washington, DC 20004

House Votes to Expand Civil Rights for Disabled

By an overwhelming 402 to 17 vote, the House yesterday passed a major civil rights bill that would significantly strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act, overturning a number of Supreme Court decisions that had restricted ADA coverage.

June 26, 2008

House Votes to Expand Civil Rights for Disabled


WASHINGTON — The House passed a major civil rights bill on Wednesday that would expand protections for people with disabilities and overturn several Supreme Court decisions issued in the last decade.

The bill, approved 402 to 17, would make it easier for workers to prove discrimination. It would explicitly relax some stringent standards set by the court and says that disability is to be “construed broadly,” to cover more physical and mental impairments.

Supporters of the proposal said it would restore the broad protections that Congress meant to establish when it passed the Americans With Disabilities Act that President George Bush signed in 1990.

Lawmakers said Wednesday that people with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and other ailments had been improperly denied protection because their conditions could be controlled by medication or were in remission. In a Texas case, for example, a federal judge said a worker with epilepsy could not be considered disabled because he was taking medications that reduced the frequency of seizures.

In deciding whether a person is disabled, the bill says, courts should generally not consider the effects of “mitigating measures” like prescription drugs, hearing aids and artificial limbs. Moreover, it adds, “an impairment that is episodic or in remission i s a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”

The chief sponsor of the bill, the House Democratic leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, said the situation was now bizarre. “An individual may be considered too disabled by an employer to get a job, but not disabled enough by the courts to be protected by the A.D.A. from discrimination,” Mr. Hoyer said.

The chief Republican sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.
of Wisconsin, said the Supreme Court had “chipped away at the protections” of the 1990 law, leaving millions of Americans with no recourse or remedy for discrimination.

His wife, Cheryl Sensenbrenner, has testified in support of the bill as chairwoman of the American Association of People With Disabilities, an advocacy group. Mrs. Sensenbrenner suffered a spi n al cord injury in 1972, when she was 22, and sometimes uses a wheelchair. In addition, she noted in an interview, she has a sister with Down syndrome.

Supporters of the bill immediately shifted their attention to the Senate, which is expected to pass a similar bipartisan measure. Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat leading the effort, predicted that the Senate would act “in the near future.”

The White House said that although President Bush “supports the overall intent” of the House bill, he was concerned that it “could unduly expand” coverage and significantly increase litigation.

The House bill reflects a deal worked out in months of negotiations by business groups and advocates for the disabled. The United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers helped shape the bill and endorsed it as a balanced compromise.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, called the Supreme Court reading of the 1990 law “cramped and misguided.” Remedial legislation is needed now more than ever, Mr. Nadler said, because “thousands of men and women in uniform are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries, including the loss of limbs and head trauma.”

The House Republican whip, Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, said the bill “puts people to work, creates opportunity and makes America a more productive country” by unlocking new pools of talent.

The 1990 law said “individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority.” The bill passed Wednesday deletes that phrase, which the Supreme Court has cited as a reason f o r limiting the definition of disability.

The law generally prohibits an employer from discriminating against a qualified individual who has, or is perceived as having, a disability, defined as a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits”
one or more major life activities.

The Supreme Court said in 2002 that “these terms need to be interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for qualifying as disabled.” To meet this test, the court said, a person has to have “an impairment that prevents or severely restricts the individual from doing activities that are of central importance to most people’s daily lives.”

Under the bill passed on Wednesday, Congress would establish a less stringent standard, saying an impairment qualifies as a disability if it “materially restricts” a major life activity like seeing, hearing, eating, walking, reading or thinking.

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