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A 'Talk Show' Uses Humor to Inform Domestic Workers About Their Rights

There's nothing funny about the treatment of many domestic workers, but a humorous public art project tackles the issue head-on.

There’s nothing funny about the treatment many nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers receive from their employers—including missed wages, no sick days, and strenuous hours. But a new public art project is using humor as a vehicle to educate workers, their bosses, and the public about the New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, a state law passed in 2010 that guarantees basic protections to a vulnerable class of workers.


"New Day New Standard" turns the idea of an information hotline on its headset. Instead of hearing a set of numbered self-help options, callers choose from a collection of comedic sketches explaining the new legislation in a radio talk show format. Hosts Christine Lewis and "Miss Know-it-All" (played by voice actor Jen Cohn) tackle questions called in from real domestic workers about the new details in the new laws, including minimum wage, overtime, taxes, unemployment insurance, penalties for employers who disregard the requirements—plus broader subjects like immigration, human trafficking, and slavery. The voices on the phone also take the time to joke and deliver punchy one-liners in a menagerie of accents that highlight the diversity of the ethnic communities from which New York domestic workers hail, including West Indian, West African, Filipino, Haitian, Dominican, Mexican, and many other Spanish-speaking groups.

A veteran advocate for New York City nannies and workers, Lewis has experience patiently explaining her industry’s hardships: She once appeared on The Colbert Report to tell the ostensibly-right-wing personality about why domestic workers need protection. Her status as a rising, charismatic leader in the movement made her a natural fit for the role as the talk show’s Oprah, according to creative director Marisa Jahn.

Jahn and her collaborators from REV-, a nonprofit for socially engaged art and design, came up with the NDNS concept when advocacy group Domestic Workers United approached them with the idea of doing an audio PSA. “We know that many low-wage workers and multi-lingual immigrants don’t listen to the radio anymore,” says Jahn “And they don’t have regular access to the internet where they could download audio pieces.”

But everyone has a phone, and even an antique flip phone can turn into a broadcasting device when NDNS’s hotline is dialed. Jahn imagines the service could come in handy for a nanny watching kids on the playground, for example. While she’s working, she "can whip out [her] cell phone, call the New Day New Standard hotline, and hear an 'episode' about minimum wages, paying your taxes, vacation time, etc."

The New York Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, the first such law in the nation, offers the type of bare minimum protections you’d hope to see at any job: the right to time-and-a-half overtime pay, a day off every seven days, three paid days off per year after a year with the same employer, and added protection against sexual and racial harassment. The law came after years of organizing by DWU and a broad coalition of partners. Similar legislation is currently in the works in California.

Jahn emphasizes that the project is more than the typical PSA: "To improve the livelihood and well being of domestic workers in New York State and beyond, we need a really compelling ‘product’ of the highest caliber. In other words […] we needed art." And that idea didn’t come solely from the creatives tasked with the project. Interviews with domestic workers proved that something entertaining and unique would work best for spreading the message. Describing the final product as "'art' dignifies their involvement in this project as one worthy of sharing with the broader public," Jahn says. "'Public art'" sounds like you’re going to hear something exciting and fresh; 'PSA' sounds like it will be boring and didactic."

The project’s outreach efforts kick off this month in the liberal, yuppie neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Jahn says more than 60 percent of employers are in violation of the bill of rights legislation. Piloting in a progressive area, organizers hope, will make it easier to bring their work everywhere else.

Image courtesy of Marisa Jahn

Articles
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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Politics