Thursday, September 11, 2014

PEACE?

(Britain's Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament 1958)

  • "It is indeed a dark day for South Africa when the ideals for which Nelson Mandela and so many others fought are sold to the highest bidder.Dalai Lama Refused Visa  It is unbelievable to me that the current South African National Government has once again refused to grant a visa to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. According to some reports, this was done in deference to the Chinese government. Instead of celebrating 20 years of democracy in South Africa, they should hang their heads in shame. Many Peace Laureates have already announced their disapproval, and stated they would not attend if he were not allowed, and "will make a powerful symbolic protest of the Dalai Lama's treatment."
  • "Georgia law allows legal gun owners to openly carry a firearm into stores like Kroger. The supermarket chain, the nation's largest, is complying with state law." Shame on Kroger. And shame on Georgia for passing such a law. Many states need to be condemned for similar "open carry" laws, Texas among them. A gun-control group, Moms Demand Action, has taken out full-page newspaper ads demanding Kroger change its policy. The photos they use illustrate the ridiculous differences between what Kroger does not allow (shirtless men or boys, children eating ice cream cones, etc.) and a gun-toting customer. Bravo for Moms Demand Action.
    (Maybe if the guy weren't so "flabby", he would be allowed as well. You think?)
There is also an article that would be funny if it were not so scary, about a professor in an Idaho State University classroom who shot himself in the foot. This happened shortly after a bill was signed into effect by Republican Governor Otter allowing those with a concealed weapon permit to carry weapons onto university campuses. The professor was carrying a loaded gun in his pants pocket, apparently without the safety on. He's lucky it didn't hit another part of his anatomy or one of his students. Idaho is one of seven states that allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Prof Shoots Self in Foot 
  • September 11.. USA Today: "Officials say a Utah teacher is in good condition after accidentally shooting herself in the leg with a concealed firearm in a faculty bathroom at the elementary school where she works."...Teacher Shoots Self
How long before we hear a teacher has "accidentally" shot a student in the classroom?

We all were horrified at the news a 9-year-old girl shot and killed her instructor while using an Uzi. What were her parents thinking to give a child a machine gun? This story pointed out how many young children in the U.S. are being taught to shoot. Kids as young as 5 learn to shoot..
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Today, September 11th, will forever remain in our memory as a day of infamy. We blame - and rightly so - a world terrorist organization for that fateful event in New York City thirteen years ago. 

We claim to be a nation desiring peace, yet push our leaders into making declarations that are anything but peaceful. Maybe those "out there" are to blame. But I believe the actions of our country have also contributed to a world where chaos and violence appear to be reigning. Consider the rise of gun owners in the U.S. Consider the "open carry" laws being passed in many states. Consider the "stand your ground laws" being passed as well. Consider the militarization of our local law enforcement agencies across the land.

Like the ripples in a pond when a stone is tossed in, the energies of fear that these warlike conditions represent spread outward into the world. How can we hold everyone but ourselves responsible? 

This happens to be the Unity World Day of Prayer. Let us pray for the families and loved ones who were lost on this day. And let us all pray for peace on earth.

Let peace begin with me,
Marilyn

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Growing Movement


My son Craig posted the following on his Facebook page September 3rd:
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “If I were a factory worker, I’d join a union.” No president has uttered those words since – at least not until yesterday, when President Obama told a Labor Day gathering, “if I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my job, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.” Obama also endorsed the “Fight for $15” fast-food worker’s movement, which is planning strikes Thursday in 150 cities.

Whether through unionization or legislation raising the minimum wage, or both, the movement is growing. Thirteen states have raised their minimum wage since January 1st. According to a new report from the Labor Department, job growth in these states has been faster this year than in states that didn’t raise their minimums. That's because raising the minimum puts more money into the pockets of people who will spend it, thereby creating jobs. Low-wage workers deserve a raise. It's good for them and good for the economy.

Craig forwarded this, written by Robert Reich (author, political economist) on inequality, which was on Reich's Facebook page:

"United Airlines reports it’s outsourcing 630 gate agent jobs at 12 airports to companies paying near-poverty level wages. Employees who have been with the company for years, earning middle-class wages of $50,000 a year, will be replaced by people paid between $9.50 and $12 per hour. United says it must do this to cut costs and raise its profits relative to other airlines. But United CEO Jeff Smisek gave himself $8.1 million this year. If he cut his salary just $2 million (in line with the CEO of the more successful Southwest Airlines, who gets $4 million), United would save about as much as it will by cutting the pay of those 630 employees.

The problem in America isn’t that typical workers are paid more than they’re 'worth' in the market. It’s that they have no bargaining power, while too many CEOs and other top executives have the power to pay themselves almost whatever they want. How to redress this power imbalance? Some call for stronger unions and greater shareholder say over CEO pay, but I'm increasingly of the view we have to change the organization of the corporation so that it has to respond to all stakeholders -- not just its shareholders but also its workers and affected communities.
"


Craig then commented, "I so look forward to Reich serving in another Clinton administration."
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Thomas Jefferson's views at the time of The Declaration of Independence ~ "...Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations...riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry." 

On the Fourth of July weekend I watched the following program on PBS. Bill Moyers discusses the growing movement(s) in the United States. It brought to mind the blog post I wrote in 2011 We Are The 99%. I've wondered where the Occupy Wall Street movement went. As I pondered, I realize it is still alive and well (see Occupy Wall Street) among the activists in our country, and encompasses the different crises America faces today -- as Bill Moyers and Jim Hightower, progressive political activist and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, discuss in this video.

Since 2008, 90% of the American people have lost income and wealth. The latest statistics on the distribution of wealth among the citizens in the United States shows "...the top 3-percent holding 54.4 percent of all net worth in 2013, up from 51.8 percent in 2007 and 44.8 percent in 1989." Federal Survey  (I guess this now makes most of us the 97%) There shouldn't be any question why so many are now involved in movements around the country, often using civil disobedience to draw attention to their plight. The wonder is why it hasn't brought on more protests. As the groups begin to mobilize and realize the power in joining one another, there just might be another American Revolution. Hopefully of the nonviolent kind.


I, too, "take greater heart" after hearing Jim Hightower speak and watching some of the protests taking place today in America.

American history is rife with successful movements for change. It is past time for more changes in our country. Please take the time to watch this thoughtful interview, and I believe you will agree with me. I only wish I were younger so I could take part in peaceful protests. My words will have to do.

Peace and Love,
Marilyn

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

KUDOS


The largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere has been built in San Diego, California. California Desalination Plant

Years ago I spent a few days of vacation on the island of Bermuda. The local houses were beautiful...mostly pastel colors, and all had snowy white-washed roofs. This was to ensure the purity of rainwater that everyone saved. I asked about water usage for the huge resort hotel we stayed in. Surely they didn't use rainwater. (I was pretty naive.) The hotel actually had their own desalination plant. From that point on, as climate change and the longer periods of drought brought more and more attention to our dwindling water supply in the U.S., I often wondered why desalination was not being used more frequently. Of course, it is not without risks -- especially to the sea life in areas where water was being pumped into the desalination plants, and it makes water more expensive, but surely the costs can be minimized with the advance of modern technology. After all, we as humans must adapt to survive.
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  • Three women's health clinics reopened in Texas as a Federal Judge struck down portions of HB 2 as unconstitutional due to requirements that prevent women from acquiring legal abortions. The closing of one clinic forced women in South Texas to drive 7-hours to the nearest clinic for women's reproductive and health assistance as well as abortions. 
Of course, this ruling might still be appealed, as the conservative Texas legislature continues to vote against women's reproductive rights issues. Texas Abortion Clinics Reopen
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  • Two weeks ago, Massachusetts passed a gun control law that appears to be more comprehensive than any in the U.S. to date.
According to an article on Huffington Post, "The legislation allows police chiefs to ask courts to deny firearms identification cards needed to buy guns to individuals they feel are unfit to obtain them, toughens penalties for some gun-based crimes, creates an online portal for background checks in private gun sales, carves out a firearms trafficking unit within the state's police department and requires that Massachusetts join the National Instant Background Check System." Of course, the NRA opposed this bill. Massachusetts Overhauls Gun Laws Pay attention, America. We need more laws like this on the books.
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And on a personal note, more Kudos to:
  • My 16-year old grandson Tanner who won the TriState Area Tennis Tournament this past weekend with a tie-breaker against an 18-year old. He's pictured here with Mom and Dad and his trophy. Way to go, Tanner!
May your world be full of things deserving Kudos as well.

Peace and love,
Marilyn


Saturday, August 30, 2014

They're on their way...

My ballerina,
vegetarian activist,
environmentalist,
and violinist,

Audrey, has returned to Duke University to complete her Master's Degree in Environmental Management after working this summer for the City of Austin Urban Forestry Department. I got an email from her last night that she auditioned for, and was accepted by the Duke Medicine Orchestra! She brought her violin with her on her last visit with me this summer, and practiced the piece she was going to use for her audition. So beautiful to my ears. She was a little intimidated by the orchestra, as she feared she might not have the time to practice the difficult pieces she discovered they played. Fear not, my little overachiever. Grandmomma says you will do well as always.
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My opera singer,
folk singer,
actor,
political activist,
and youth counselor,

Cameron has been hired by the Westside Unitarian Church of Fort Worth as Director of Lifespan Education. He will be responsible for both adult's and children's curriculum and programming. He finished his stint at the guest ranch in Colorado where he worked as Children's Youth Director this summer, and starts his new position September 8th. His comment to me was, "It's gonna be a great gig."  His dad, Craig, told me he will be able to pursue his music. He may give voice lessons; and as his college roommate sings in the Fort Worth opera, Cameron may even get a chance to perform. I am absolutely certain that if the church doesn't already know of Cameron's beautiful bass voice, when they discover it, they most certainly will want him to share it with the congregation.
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It seems like yesterday these two grandchildren of mine were born only four months apart. They
were adorable as toddlers who loved each other so much. And they still do. Their families raised them with enough love to share with the world. Where have the years gone?

I am full of pride and optimism for our future when I watch them. To everyone's children, may you enjoy...

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Monday, August 25, 2014

LOVE GAIA, OUR MOTHER EARTH

A former classmate sent this remarkable video to me recently. Can you imagine the significance of reducing the plastics that haunt our waterways and landfills all over the planet? And while we are at it, produce another form of renewable energy? The dialogue is in Japanese, so you may wish to turn your audio off and read the text on the screen. However, I found the gentleman's voice very soothing.


We have heard how the carbon emissions coming from our industrialized world are increasing the tear in the ozone layer, causing most of the problems of global warming. There is a compelling report in the online Science Daily website outlining the latest news on the ozone layer and its effects on the planet Ozone Holes News. Our understanding of this is necessary when we decide which candidates we wish to represent us in government - on both the local and national levels. Asking or researching their stance on environmental issues is critical.

We know we exhale carbon dioxide with every breath, and as the world's population continues to grow, along with more industrialization and automobiles, so does the carbon pollution. One of the larger producers of carbon pollutants is the plastic industry. Recently, a CBS news report told how one company is turning carbon emissions into plastic! I was fascinated; so I did some research, and came up with this short video on the subject:


The name of the California-based company is Newlight Technologies. The two young founders of the company worked on this discovery for nearly ten years. There is a good article on them and their company on the USA Today website: Plastic Made from Pollutants.

I think both of these discoveries are profoundly important to saving the planet. Environmentalists should be all over them. We should be supporting this type of research and development posthaste. 

For my religious/spiritual readers, the following statement on stewardship was made by the Roman Catholic Church in 1988:
"The earth and all life on it is a gift from God given us to share and develop, not to dominate and exploit. Our actions have consequences for the rights of others and for the resources of the earth. The goods of the earth and the beauties of nature are to be enjoyed and celebrated as well as consumed. We have the responsibility to create a balanced policy between consumption and conservation. We must consider the welfare of future generations in our planning for and utilization of the earth’s resources."

And from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007:
"Care of water resources and attention to climate change are matters of grave importance for the entire human family."

Common sense tells us we cannot continue destroying all aspects of nature without dire consequences. We only have one planet earth, and I for one am not pleased by the thought that someday our future generations may have to travel to another planet to survive.

Peace and love,
Marilyn



Thursday, August 21, 2014

WHEN DID "LIBERAL" BECOME A DIRTY WORD?

"..Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history. The conservative religious and social structure that He defied hated and crucified Him. They examined His life
and did not like what they saw. He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies. He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive, and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.." This is an excerpt from an article on The Christian Left blog written by Gary Vance, (a Christian evangelical minister): Wasn't Jesus A Liberal?

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Excerpt from Bishop John Shelby Spong's (a retired Bishop of the American Episcopal
(2006)
Church) Manifesto:

.."I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people."..
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Some of the words and actions of my fellow Christians make me ashamed. I am not the only one. I hope more of my LIBERAL friends will step up to the ballot box and change the face of this country. We no longer act like a "Nation Under God".

Proud to be called a liberal (I am in good company),
Marilyn

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ARE THERE BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN YOUR STATE?

I have always been supportive of law enforcement wherever I've lived. It goes without saying, I am supportive of our military as well. Growing up, I was an Army brat for awhile. For so many years, with a few exceptions, they each had their own place in our society. In very recent times, it seems the lines are blurred. And that can be scary. 

The Cliven Bundy so-called "civil disobedience" standoff in Nevada this past April, and now the Ferguson, Missouri protests and riots, have brought the assault rifles out in great numbers. Scenes from both incidents caused flashbacks in my memories. The armed protesters in Nevada dragged up images of the Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho in 1992, and the David Koresh Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas in 1993. In all of these cases, the civilian combatants were heavily armed.


The riots of the past few days in Ferguson, Missouri have dredged up different memories -- the first images I remembered were of the 1970 Ohio Kent State University shooting of unarmed students who were protesting against the U.S. Cambodia Campaign announced by President Nixon. The Ohio National Guard was called out for that incident. Farther back in my memory were the 1965 Watts "civil rights" riots and again in 1992, the Rodney King Watts riots in Los Angeles. These riots all started as protests by unarmed citizens. 


I certainly agree that our law enforcement must be as well-armed as the criminals they confront. But, honestly, some of the scenes from SWAT team drug busts, where 20 or 30 officers in riot gear descend upon a residence don't make sense to me. Even a hostage situation by a single individual now presents a reason for local police departments to call out the same, heavily armed forces.

I have been appalled at the photos on television and the Internet of what our law enforcement agencies across the country now have at their command, thanks to the government's deep cuts in military spending. As the wars the U.S. has been involved in wind down, and our troops come home, there has been a surplus of arms and equipment. The Pentagon has been able to add dollars to its budget by selling these to municipalities across the country.

Is it any wonder that the sale of assault weapons to individuals has gone up dramatically in this country? Can you imagine being faced with this in the United States? Maybe at the Boston bomb scene, but at an unarmed peaceful protest?
N.C. State Police - 2014

Or this?
Ferguson, Missouri - August 2014

Tiananmen Square - 1989

Pima County, AZ - 2014

Russian Troops in Crimea

Is it any wonder that the conspiracy theorists are going wild and stating that the government will seize all of your guns, and take control of your personal life? Many of them see the military arming of our police forces as a prelude to losing all of their freedoms. Thus, many para-military groups are increasingly being heavily armed as their "defense" against this happening. History is filled with police states and their treatment of civilians.

Nazis Arresting Jews - Warsaw 1943

Peaceful Student Protest - Beijing, China1989

"Hands Up, Don't Shoot" - Ferguson, Missouri - August 2014

There has got to be a better way for law enforcement's handling of volatile situations than calling out what appears to the average citizen as a military group - or army, armed with military tanks and weapons! Training police to have a "warrior mentality" in use of these arms only adds to the fear factor of ordinary citizens. We can look at and learn from the mistakes made by governments in the past and present, that often end with civil war or even worse. It couldn't happen here -- or could it?

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The following brief story was sent to me by an acquaintance who is writing about her husband's experience as a child in Nazi Germany. I have changed his name, and the name of the small village he lived in, as he is truly reluctant to talk about those times.

"Konrad was 13 when World War II ended in May, 1945. Had the war not ended, he would have been sent to the front after his birthday in July.

His family were terrified of Hitler and all that was occurring in Germany. The SS came to his home in the middle of the night and took his father, who was a bookkeeper for a leather factory. He refused to carry a gun so they put him in care of the horses. He was allergic to horses and developed hives almost immediately. The ones in command thought he had some horrible disease and were afraid of him, so they sent him home. He was fortunate that they didn't kill him.

Many of the people in small villages such as Linden where Konrad lived did not know of all the camps and what was taking place there. They never owned a car or a telephone and were pretty isolated in their small village.

Hitler_Youth.png

The children were required to be in Hitler's Youth and wore uniforms and hob-nailed boots for parades. They were required to memorize many songs declaring Germany the 'Wonderful' and  praising Hitler as the 'Ruler of the World'.

When he was 10 the German army sent trucks throughout rural Germany picking up undernourished children and took them to farms to 'fatten' and strengthen them, as they would be needed at the front in the future. He was there 6 months and gained approximately 20 pounds. He felt guilty because there was so much food on the farm and he knew his family didn't have enough in their village.

Konrad has many stories to tell, but only to a small group of family members. We have been so blessed not to have had to go through a war on our soil."

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Let us pray for not only peaceful resolutions to the world's crises, but also to the troubling problems being witnessed in the United States of America.

Peace and Love,
Marilyn