Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Everyone has the right to freedom."

     “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”  United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

     December is Universal Human Rights Month with December 10th designated as Human Rights Day. How do we define "human rights"? What laws protect all of us? What do we do when our rights are violated? We may think we know our rights as citizens of our native countries or the world but what exactly constitutes our "human rights"? 

     Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, or other status. Human rights include political  and civil rights, the right to life, liberty and the freedom of expression. Human rights include social, economic and cultural rights. The right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to education and the right to work are all included in the definition  of human rights. Human rights are protected and upheld by national and international laws and treaties.
   The universality of human dignity is the cornerstone of international human rights law. At first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, the principal of universal human rights has been restated in a number of international human rights resolutions conventions, and declarations.  For example, The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, reiterated that it is the duty of States(countries) to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems. But how do we make these statements a reality for billions of men, women and children  worldwide who continue to suffer horrible atrocities each day? How do we turn words into reality? It is imperative that we understand our human rights in order to protect ourselves and protect the rights of human beings all around the globe. 
     December 10th has been designated Human Rights Day commemorating the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clarifies 30 basic human rights:

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

    • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    Article 3.

        • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
       Please continue Articles  4-30  here:


      Saturday, November 21, 2015

      "Global challenges require global solidarity."

      "Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are-rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call 'global challenges' which require global solidarity." 
      -Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

                  Following the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Nigeria and Mali there is a  growing sense of solidarity among many formerly conflicting countries in the world. Prior to the tragic events on November 13th in Paris the COP 21 Conference was the greatest opportunity for governments and global leaders to unite for a common interest. Terrorist threats and  the fate of millions of refugees are now the priority. Another equally devastating issue related to global instability is human created climate change which affects every man, woman, child and animal species on the planet. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and the threat of coastal flooding has and will continue to cause damage, destruction or death.
                    The goal of  COP 21 which is an abbreviated form of 21st Conference of  Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, sometimes referred to as CMP11 is for the first time in years allowing these negotiations to establish universal binding agreements among all countries. Each nation will present their plan for lowering carbon emissions, sustainable energy, conservation, issues of flooding, drought, starvation and prevention of further animal extinctions.             After years of uncompromising frustration with talks ending in stalemate the time has come to finally institute a crucial concrete course of action. Despite the horrific attacks on the courageous, resilient residents of Paris, Friday November 13th, President of France, Francois Hollande will host nearly 50,000 delegates from 195 countries including two of the largest contributors to CO 2 emissions, USA and China. The international conference is the most notable ever organized by the French government. COP 21 begins Monday, November 30th, ending December 11th, 2015.


      Wednesday, November 18, 2015

      "Envoi de l'amour"

      Clouds come from time to time-
      and bring to men a chance to rest
      from looking at the moon.

      -Basho (Matsuo Munefusa 1644-94)

      Thursday, November 12, 2015

      "Every question leads to new answers."

      "How did we let an ideological resistance to inquiry become such a prominent part of our society?"- Bill Nye, Scientist, American Science Educator, from Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

                Bill Nye released his new book "Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World"(St.Martin's Press, November 10th, 2015) to audiences of all ages as enthusiastic and passionate about facts and discovery as Nye himself. Everyone should own this book. As prolific author, educator, comedian, former science show host and mechanical engineer, Nye commands information and insight with exceptional qualifications to address the most critical issue we face as human beings- climate change.

              Given the overwhelming scientific evidence for global warming denying facts is not only incomprehensible but irresponsible. Climate change impacts every aspect of our lives from growing crops to healthy water supplies. We cannot sustain life on earth without these resources. As one of the worlds most technologically advanced countries we need to be a leader in environmental change and awareness. In order to design ways to reduce the damage we've inflicted on the earth and other animal species we must have activists, scientists, engineers and especially young aspiring students who think creatively without limits. All of us have a responsibility to save our planet. What could possibly be more important? Unstoppable stresses that politicians need to address the concerns of millennial voters because maintaining or establishing crucial environmental protection laws depend upon who they elect. Once again, it's their future at risk. Our survival depends upon our ability to exchange information, contemplate, explore and test new ideas. If we truly wanted what's best for our planet, our country and our children we have to stress freedom of expression and critical thinking. Now is the time to act.

      Saturday, November 7, 2015

      "Not to utter words but to live by them."

      "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. "- John F. Kennedy

                      As we honor our nations Armed Forces service men and women this Wednesday, November 11th, please take time to reflect upon a few unsettling facts. There is an estimated 50,000 homeless veterans in the United States with over a million at risk of becoming homeless in the future. Returning veterans face twice as much risk of homelessness than civilians due to lack of sufficient medical treatment, networking support and nontransferable military to workforce skills. Government services are becoming more restricted with over 40,000  homeless veterans currently receiving benefits or pensions. Tragically, this is not enough. According to the "National Coalition of Homeless Veterans", nearly half of our countries homeless veterans served in the Vietnam War. Today the number of homeless veterans is increasing as more and more service men and women return from Afghanistan and Iraq. Young veterans face a lack of social and community support upon reintegration to civilian life. On October 29th the US Senate passed the "Homeless Veterans  Services Protection Act" which safeguards veterans dismissed with "Other than Honorable" (OTH) discharges. Affordable housing and health care are still major issues for all returning veterans. The video above courtesy of a 2014 VICE News report is one of thousands of similar stories of suffering among our returning military members. (Contains strong language) 

                  Respectfully, we take time to thank our veterans for their service with solemn speeches,  free meals and gallant parades to honor courage and bravery on November 11th. As we should.  But as one of the most prosperous countries in the world who depends upon the vigilance, elite training and selfless actions of our military 24/7, 365 days a year for our constant safety and security, how do we justify over 50,000 struggling veterans?


      Tuesday, November 3, 2015

      " Through the dark."

      "Sometimes they just get caught in the eye
         You're pulling him through."-  Elliott Smith, Needle in the Hay

                    Ask the average American to describe a drug addict and you're likely to hear," dirty, toothless vagrant who wanders the streets begging for spare change." It's this kind of disturbingly uninformed impression that's contributing to a massive crisis in our country right now that typcially begins with legally prescribed pain killers. The state of Ohio doesn't have a heroin "problem". Ohio has a heroin epidemic.

                Recently featured on national news program 60 Minutes, "Heroin in the Heartland" is an honest, straight forward portrayal of young high school and college aged heroin users. When a child or adult becomes addicted to such a deadly substance it's more than family being affected. Entire communities in Northeast Ohio are devastated with most lacking the resources necessary to deal with an unrelenting disease.

          A video previously available on has been removed but you can watch "Heroin in the Heartland" in its entirety at this link to CBS news, 60 Minutes.