Thursday, March 31, 2016

" We are punished by ignoring facts."

"We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone's arguing over 
where we're going to sit."-David Suzuki, Canadian scientist, author

                In a recent interview with a Washington Post reporter Republican presidential candidate  Donald Trump admitted, "I'm not a great believer in man made climate change. I'm not a great believer."- affirming his misinformed assertion like a recent Big Foot sighting rather than a security issue.  Climate change denial is rampant among the Republican party as GOP candidates fail to outline action plans for debates or even acknowledge it as a threat to national security despite Department of Defense directives. In January, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Robert Work signed off on significant orders where the Pentagon placed climate change as priority one in all strategic operations. The Pentagon defines climate change as a " present security threat, not strictly a long- term risk." What does it say about GOP candidates when they ignore the scientific community as well as the United States Department of Defense ?  It says to the world when US government officials and GOP candidates willfully deny scientific evidence as well as the Pentagon they are now a threat to the security of our country. Denial of scientific facts, ignorance of international affairs, intelligence, military and counterterrorism policy has far reaching effects which places every US citizen at risk including your children and your children's children.

       On Thursday, March 31st climate forecasters confirmed they underestimated the sea-rise impact of the Antarctic thaw. In decades to come coastal towns will be lost underwater as the world's largest reservoir of ice melts away. Flooding, droughts, an increase in pollution, disease and food insecurity will threaten billions of people on the planet. Findings were published in the scientific journal, Nature on Wednesday. How do we justify electing people who deny climate change, endangering the lives of millions of people, animal species and  destroying ocean life?  We can't. We simply can't.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

" Pretending you know..."

"There's no shame in admitting what you don't know. The only shame is pretending you know all the answers." Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist 

        Starting this blog with a photo display of gentleness, peace and beauty was intentional because what I'm about to discuss can often be the opposite of a gorgeous, breath taking sunset or delighting in the innocence of a soft, furry bunny rabbit. Our own personal philosophies or religious reflections are meant to give our lives greater meaning in a world we share with billions of other human beings. On television or social media we have been inundated with some US political leaders propagating their faith like evangelical preachers at a Sunday sermon. Often times these speeches are spouting hateful, ugly and bigoted rhetoric not to mention lack credible facts or reason. There are few American citizens who would openly advocate for one and only ONE religion to be practiced in the United States. How or why would we do this? Do people just use their religion to feel special or superior? Thankfully, intolerance is not what our country is founded upon. In the United States we are free to believe in any or none of the 4,200 hundred religions that have been created. Yes, there are roughly 4,200 world religions so check some of them out here .religioustolerance at Religious  If you are unfamiliar with secularism check out Freedom From Religion 

     Some of our politicians should talk less about their own self-righteous "faith" and more about freedom of thought, liberty and diversity which our countries Constitution and laws are based. Religion and politics have to remain separate. FACTS, REASON and LAW. If some elected officials or career politicians need a refresher or they haven't read the  United States Constitution they can check it out right here at the online government archives

          The current rash of blatant discriminatory legislation being proposed or passed in states like North Carolina, Georgia and Indiana in the most underhanded and devious ways is absolutely sickening and the American people will not stand for it. Politicians destroy our democracy and alienate millions of tax paying citizens when they place their own religious beliefs above human rights, dignity and justice for all.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"When women are oppressed...."

"When men are oppressed it's a tragedy. When women are oppressed it's "tradition."                           - Letty Pogrebin, American author,  journalist 

         March is Women's History Month which allows many forums to focus on issues unique to women around the world.  2016 Oscar winning documentary, A Girl In the River: The Price of Forgiveness directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is just one recent film that has brought the horror of honor killings out from the shadows. A Girl In the River is the story of Saba, a young Pakistani woman who survives the savagery of  being shot in the face and nearly drowned by her father and uncle for falling in love with a man whom they disapprove. Through the eyes of a miraculous survivor, Saba relates the entire heinous ordeal. Many honor killings go unreported or are simply accepted as cultural norm. The  inhumane "tradition" of honor killing has no basis in modern religious thought and is a complete violation of human rights. The countries who continue condoning this practice are guilty of  attempted murder or murder and must be held accountable. Honor killings won't end until all countries, national leaders,communities, schools, families, religious groups, individual men and women stand against laws that brutalize and dehumanize women.
        It's nearly unthinkable to imagine a young girl or woman we know personally such as a daughter, sister or wife viciously attacked, maimed, gang raped, betrayed by her family and community, called "unclean", stoned to death to restore a family's "honor". The barbaric victimization of young girls and women must end. The violence must end. The silence must end. First hand accounts, stories and films must continue to be told and retold.  Without education and awareness thousands of girls and women will continue to suffer or die. With their deaths there is no honor for any of us.

video courtesy of YouTube & TestTubeNews

Thursday, March 17, 2016

" Stand up and do your job."

"They(GOP) are paying the price for their own extremism." Senator Elizabeth Warren


Find contact information for your elected officials here.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Silence becomes an accomplice to injustice."

 "There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice."- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author, activist

                March is Women's History Month with focus on empowering women of all economic, social and political backgrounds. United Nations Women or UN Women is an international organization which raises awareness of gender inequality, health, protection of women's rights, violence against women, community service and sustainable development. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture released a statement on March 10th regarding the abuse of women seeking maternal health care services and restrictive abortion bans or laws. Reproductive rights violations are occurring at an alarming rate around the world as well as by conservative lawmakers in the United States who have no women's reproductive or medical health training.
             Many young girls and woman in countries across the globe are subjected to child marriage, sexual violence, virginity testing, banned abortion access even in cases of rape, incest or life threatening circumstances. The UN classifies this as torture. Some women in India are coerced into sterilization because they're being denied effective forms of birth control or safe abortion access. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for the decriminalization of abortion for women seeking health care. In the United States where abortion is legal we continue to see mostly male state lawmakers impose scientifically false restrictions on women, women's health care facilities and doctors due to religious prejudice, misinformation or both. Bans, restrictions, forced births and lack of birth control are an international health and economic issue endangering women and violating human rights. Other countries should be looking to the United States for leadership and empowerment in women's health care but instead they are being abandoned by male dominated political systems in which men will never be forced to give birth.

 For more program information regarding UN Women check out the link to their website below.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

" Gender equality is decided by all of us."

"We cannot succeed when half of us are held back."- Malala Yousefzai, Nobel Prize Recipient, activist, author

            March is Women's History Month, Tuesday, March 8th is International Women's Day- although no country in the world can claim full gender equality, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark have consistently set the bench mark on major gender equality studies. In the BCC News documentary featured above (courtesy of YouTube & BBC ) "What Stands in the Way of Women Being Equal to Men."- British journalist Ros Atkins explores the lives of young girls and their families from a broad spectrum of backgrounds such as the United Kingdom Jordan.and Lesotho The news feature provides us a greater understanding of the roots of discrimination with assigned gender roles that persist throughout the modern world. Do laws which effect a woman's economic status such as denying reproductive rights or availability of birth control, intimate partner violence or lack of education hold us back? Is it the condescending stereotype of physical, racial or intellectual inferiority? Do long held cultural beliefs or interpretation of religious doctrines prevent women and men from stepping out of traditional gender roles?  How about fear of change? The answer is, YES.
          What's truly standing in the way of realizing worldwide gender equality? Think about this. Why are countries such as Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark leading the way?  A U.S News and World Report survey completed in January of this year showed Nicaragua, the Philippines. Denmark, Iceland and Norway rated high for individual health, safety, income equality and progressiveness.
          Specifically, according to the World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Repor  Iceland offers women equal access to education, healthcare as well as full participation and power in political and economic choices. These countries are secular.and have the highest literacy rates in the world. There is little to no discrimination between the sexes where many types of discrimination and income inequality are shown to go hand- in- hand in study after study. Discrimination in all of its forms is learned.behavior. Discrimination against women is something we learn and it must be unlearned for all of us to move forward. Gender equality is decided by all of us.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"For the people and by the people"

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."- Voltaire writer, historian, philosopher

          In the United States we pride ourselves on gun ownership, privacy and voter rights. When it comes to  free speech and freedom of the press, fundamental principles of democracy which our United States Constitution is based, Freedom House an independent watchdog organization  rates the United States  30th out of 197 countries.
       Freedom of the press or media is essential to keep Americans informed of events in our own country and around the world. What American citizens may not realize is that journalists and government officials often clash over our Bill of Rights. The First Amendment protects freedom of the press including, television, news papers, magazines and other media sources. The First Amendment allows the publication of truthful controversial information without interference from the government. Censorship of online material from independent journalists or bloggers is evolving as technology evolves. In a true democratic society as little censorship by government as possible should be demanded by its citizens.
         Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index rated the United States 46th out of all developed nations in 2014. Full details can be investigated at the link to their website

       In countries around the world such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uganda (featured in the video clip above courtesy journalists are being jailed, tortured, mutilated and killed for reporting human rights abuses inflicted on them and their fellow citizens by military militias and corrupt dictatorships. These brutal attacks are being recorded as evidence but when reporters seek justice for these crimes where do they turn?  In a democracy for the people and by the people we need to demand that our elected officials truly understand our laws and protect our civil liberties but first we need to understand them ourselves.