Voices in Focus: Jewish Groups Take Bulk of Anti-Terror Program Funds

Today from the ethnic and community press we have a chilling report on human trafficking, an update on the Jewish Daily Forward’s investigation into a federal program that helps non-profits prepare for terror attacks, and an immigrants’ art exhibit in Queens.

* After last month’s release of the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report, Carib News described the Caribbean child sex trade as “a nightmare that’s being fueled by a mix of poverty; the rampaging desires of North American and European tourists for sex with Caribbean boys and girls; the connivance of parents; and the masterminds behind human trafficking across the English, French, Dutch and Spanish-speaking countries in the region.”

Even those countries with the strongest economies in the region have not fared much better than their peers to prevent trafficking, Carib News notes.

The Bahamas, one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous island-nations, must also contend with a situation, in which poverty and sex are placing children in harms ways,

The State Department reported that local Bahamian children were at risk because many of them were “engaging in sex with men for basics, such as food, transportation or material goods.”

The problem in Barbados may not be as severe as in some of its neighbors but it exists nevertheless.

* We have linked previously to the Jewish Daily Forward’s dogged investigation into a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program designed to help non-profit groups prepare for terror attacks — which, The Forward found, has disproportionately funneled money to Jewish groups, particularly Orthodox groups. This year, the pattern is even more stark: The Forward reported that Jewish groups will receive $9.7 million out of the $10 million in the federal funds allocated through the Non-Profit Security Grant Program.

A full 97% of the available funds in the Non-Profit Security Grant Program for 2012 have been allocated to Jewish organizations, compared with 73% that went to Jewish groups from 2007 through 2010. In 2011, Jewish groups received about 80% of NSGP funds.

The NSGP has disproportionately benefited Jewish groups since 2005, when it was first instituted.

“Unfortunately there are risks attendant on the Jewish community that are not attendant on all other communities,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in an interview with the Forward in early June, weeks before the new allocations were announced.

* Lastly, we have news from the Queens Chronicle of a showcase for immigrant artists in Jackson Heights, Queens, organized by the Workers’ Justice Project, an organization that fights for the rights of immigrant workers:

Rogelio Ronco found out he had kidney failure in 2008. (Josey Bartlett via Queens Chronicle)

[Rogelio] Ronco was born in Mexico and began to draw when he turned 5 years old. He moved to New York City as a teenager and in 2008 found out he had kidney failure; however, because of his illegal status, his chances of getting a transplant are slim, he said.

“It’s really hard to get on the list and that’s what I need,” Ronco said. “I am not holding up my hopes.”

He undergoes dialysis three times a week and uses painting as his escape as well as a way to survive — selling his art to pay for his bills.

His brightly colored, acrylic pieces depict a bipolar sort of emotion, he said. Teetering between happiness and melancholy because of his poor health, he often “lives in sadness,” he said.

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