Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wake Up and Smell the Pollution Affecting the Brains and Learning of Our Children


Teachers, if you're sick and tired of hearing "No excuses" for your students' performance, perhaps we should all start sending administrators, school boards, superintendents, Arne Duncan, and President Obama a copy of this article as a reality check. Reality trumps no excuses. Perhaps everyone needs to wake up and smell the pollution affecting our students' brains. Then again, Big Oil and the rest of the extraction cabal won't like being found out as the cause of all this suffering. They'll continue to scapegoat teachers and use their billions to continue their propaganda campaigns to maintain their profits and power, all at the expense and suffering of our children and their future.
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/12/children-baby-pollution-development-brain

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Peace versus War


Most people would agree that peaceful resolution to conflict is better than war. The problem with peace, is that there is so much less drama and less obvious heroism. For a people addicted to drama, easy video bites, and the obvious in-your-face aspects of war, peace is not seen as a viable solution to problem-solving. War is about power-over, emotional reactivity, and control. It's about bullying and profit-making. War uses the lazy, childish intellectual habit of solving problems that are black-and-white, right and wrong, friend versus enemy. Peaceful conflict transformation is all about the grey areas, the more intellectually adult way of thoughtful processing of information, with less reliance on reactive emotions. It is about sharing power to solve problems peacefully, which doesn't invite quick video coverage, or obvious life-and-death heroism. It is much more subtle and longer-lasting. It requires patience, an intellect that recognizes greys, and a deep, abiding respect for people that requires you talk and work with them, even though you don't like what they have done. It is about teaching each other how to get along and find ways to bridge gaps in culture, belief systems and knowledge. Peace is the only way to truly and lastingly solve problems. The other choice is to remain mired in tribal warfare among peoples and nations, with a select few profiting hugely, while billions of others pay for it financially, and millions suffer and die. War is not inevitable. War is a choice. Peace is a better choice.

The following is an excellent article about taking a path to peace as a way of reducing terrorism.
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/06-3

I Am Part of Elsa's Legacy

I am part of Elsa's legacy. For those who don't know why I feel so strongly about the environment and all living beings, this PBS video (link below) will show you one of the major reasons why I do. The movie "Born Free," Joy Adamson's books, Jacques Cousteau's work and shows (whom I once had the privilege of meeting while working at NASA/GISS, along with his son Jean-Michel), National Geographic Magazine and its television specials, and the television series "Wild Kingdom" all helped make me who I am today. Those who say or believe that television doesn't impact children/people in a huge way are ridiculous and naive.*

I grew up loving and respecting people and animals, in part, because of these influences. My dream to learn to SCUBA dive and explore the underwater world came from Jacques Cousteau. I took to heart National Geographic's advice..."Explore Your World." It has taken me to 4 continents, while the pursuit of learning has taken me through post-graduate studies. When I was an 8-year-old child, my very specific dream of growing up to be a photojournalist for National Geographic
driving a Land Rover in Kenya and Tanzania came directly from the works of the Adamson's and National Geographic. I have only fulfilled small pieces and versions of that dream - I am an avid photographer and writer, and am a National Geographic Teacher Consultant. I would still love to work for National Geographic, someday.
As for the wild lions I grew up treasuring - there are now only approximately 2,000 left in the wild in Kenya. They are becoming endangered as human population growth expands into the wild places and negatively impacts wildlife. There must be a better solution to expansion that doesn't include the complete destruction of habitats and the killing of other living beings to the point of endangerment or extinction. When they are gone, so will we be. So, we must control our growth, where we live, the energy sources we use, and stop putting so much pressure on the wild. We need to maintain and expand wildlife corridors, and help other living beings adapt to the multiple impacts of global warming.
http://video.pbs.org/video/1732181741/

*This impact is why I turned off my television almost 3 years ago...there are so many awful things on it these days. I choose to control what impacts my brain, and gather my knowledge and enjoyment thoughtfully and with purpose, rather than be constantly bombarded with the violence, disrespect, disregard, and lack of kindness shown to people and other living beings on most programs, as well as the incessant advertising that is like being attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

End Prey for Profit - Education "Reform" as an Example

Prey for Profit:
The exploitation, bullying, marginalization, and/or abuse of people, animals, the environment, economies, and/or countries for profit and/or power.

Example:
Education "reform" for the purpose of the privatization of public education and increase of corporate profits and power. Who is exploited and/or abused? Students and teachers.

The Story:
Some corporations, CEO's and millionaires/billionaires are using their power and money to abuse children, marginalize teachers, destroy unions, take away people's rights, and exploit democracy (Citizens United, etc.) for power and profit. First, they purposefully compare test results between the entire and extremely heterogeneous and higher rate of poverty, huge COUNTRY of the US with the more lower rate of poverty and homogeneous CITY of Shanghai and small country of Finland and in order to be able to say Education in America has Failed. Then, they use EVERY opportunity to scapegoat and demonize teachers and say they, especially the more experienced teachers, are the problem. I especially love their central propaganda piece, "Waiting for Superman," in which they come in to "rescue" our country from our horrendously incompetent teachers and school systems. Next, they lobby and create laws, policies and regulations, while they put their corporate reform minions in place as School District Superintendents, School Board Trustees and Federal and State Legislators to help usher in their reforms, budget cuts, vouchers, co-locations, merit pay, common core standards, increased testing, union and collective bargaining busting, as they erode public education and teacher's rights. Finally, they get their desired results: increased corporate profits for charter and private schools...testing and remediation companies...textbook publishers, etc.; dis-empowered or broken unions; low-salaried, at-will employed teachers who have no due-process rights and for whom they no longer have to pay much in benefits. Notice that there is not one mention of students in this scenario? Of course there isn't. Children were never really their concern. They threw teachers under the school bus while they used public-school children and education reform as the cover for their battle for power, control and profits. Shame on the corporate "reform" people for using our nation's children as human shields. End the Use of Children as Prey For Profit. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Democracy in America?

Democracy in America? First, our Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people. Now, those "corporate people" are working to privatize education, prisons, and the post office, as well as sell off public lands. Corporations "lobbied" to purposefully deregulate the financial industries to create a crash that rocked the world, caused the second Great Depression and the largest transfer of wealth and property (not to mention the "bail-outs" they received) in history, and brought our federal, state and local governments to their knees. They "lobbied" legislatures to cut funding to schools, prisons, the postal service, and public parks so they'd no longer remain financially viable, and then say the public agencies are failing.

They simultaneously run a massive propaganda campaign to scapegoat and demonize teachers and unions as the root of much that is evil in society, so they no longer have to deal with workers rights and such things as paying a living wage and decent benefits, as well as worker safety. After that, they say we must privatize these public agencies. They "lobby" to have their for-profit charter schools replace public schools, and to have voucher programs to steal from public education what little funding is left.


Finally, corporations (those "persons" and their CEO leaders that get all the tax breaks) own our public lands to exploit and destroy, own and control our private communications, our curriculum to mold the minds of our students into unthinking worker bees, our prisons for slave labor while we pay for prisoners' benefits; all for their own profit. When corporations control a country, that is called fascism; not democracy.

The 14 defining characteristics of fascism are at this link:
http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Intolerance and Hatred Or Love and Respect? It's a Choice.

One Man's Blog posted about Christians on FOX News threatening to kill and rape others who don't want a Christian memorial placed at the site of the World Trade Center. His post was quite excellent.

I was thinking about the situation. It doesn't matter what religion someone professes to believe; it doesn't mean they actually uphold its tenets. People can call themselves anything: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, etc. People are human, and as such, are fallable. People can choose to live in love or fear; they can choose to show kindness and compassion or unkindness and cruelty. Rather than be respectful, kind, civil, and compassionate...some people choose to bully, ridicule, scapegoat, deride, hit, rape (do I need to keep going?) others just because they don't follow the same belief system (or any other multitude of reasons/excuses). They do themselves, the other person and their belief system the greatest disservice. Life is all about choices, and our ability to be humane towards others is what determines the course of our lives, our society and our world.

http://onemansblog.com/2011/08/06/christians-openly-advocate-killing-athiests-on-fox-news-facebook-page/

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood Controversy and Standing Up to Corporate Bullies

In the Salon essay, "Susan G. Komen’s priceless gift," Joan Walsh and Rebecca Traister write about the potential impact of the Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy:

"The starkly observable attack against something as crucial and basic as breast exams for poor women, as well as the fact that so many divergent voices were pulled into it, meant that the conversation was not about partisan politics; it was about women. For the first time in what feels like forever, passion and fury were being loudly, proudly given in a full-throated voice, on behalf of women – women as moral actors; women as citizens with rights, health, bodies, freedoms; women as people with families and economic concerns."

Women and girls, as well as female-dominated professions, have frequently been the victims of violence and bullying. Remember the earlier health care "reform" (doublespeak) attempt by members of Congress to reduce the frequency of, and change the ages at which, women receive mammogram and pap smear screenings, in order to increase profits for health insurance companies? Do you remember how Viagra got covered by insurance quickly, while contraception for women went uncovered for decades. Have you noticed the scapegoating and demonization of teachers? Seeing the patterns, yet? Bullying isn't just about gender. It creates inequities in power, economics, and rights. Bullying is the antithesis of peace.

Bullying has been used to bring about so-called "reforms" that benefit corporations at the expense of people...

1 - tort "reform" that reduces our access to the courts, forcing us to go through mediation, instead, as well as reducing caps on damages corporations are required to pay for the terrible things they do,

2 - education "reform" that reduces children's equal access to public education through privatization (and the union-busting that has absolutely nothing to do with education and everything to do with lowering wages and benefits, and reducing worker's rights),

3a - get tough on criminals law and sentencing"reform" that increased our prison populations to the highest levels on the planet (for which we, the taxpayer, pay)

3b - prison "reform" in which prisons are now being privtized to provide corporations with cheap labor without having to bear the cost of health care, etc (because we taxpayers pay for that),

4 - repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws across the US in order to provide cheap labor,

5 - the push for Right to Work laws in multiple states that creates the right to work for lower wages and less rights with the power and right to fire at will in the hands of employers and weakening unions so employees can't collectively bargain for living wages, decent benefits and receive due process rights.

The political, economic and corporate bullying of the middle class and poor (and women, in general) needs to end now. Human rights, equity and equality, justice, non-violence, compassion, caring, and integrity are necessary for a peaceful country and world. Governments and neighborhoods that want peace "would seek liberty for all, would promote mutual respect and tolerance, and would demand that rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. Such a neighborhood would also require that the strong as well as the weak subscribe to a rule of law. It would combat the corrupted as well as the corrupting, and would encourage participatory and legitimate democratic governance within all relevant institutions." 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, in her memoir "Unbowed."

What is the cycle of bullying? This is from The Bullying Circle, originated by Dan Olweus, PhD:

A - The Bullies - plan/start the bullying, taking an active part = ALEC (American Legislative and Exchange Council)

B - The Henchmen - take an active part but don't plan/start the bullying = Legislators, Police

C - The Active Supporters - cheer the bully on and seek social/material gain = Politicians, Organizations, Other Corporations, Media

D - Passive Supporters - enjoy the bullying but do not show open support = Average citizens who buy into A-C's propaganda and lies

E - Disengaged Onlookers - observe, then turn away, thing/saying  "It's none of my business." = Some average citizens

F - Potential Witnesses - oppose the bullying, know they should do something, but do nothing = Some average citizens

G - Resister/Defender/Witness - actively resists, stands up to the bully, speaks out against bullying = Those even fewer citizens who see it happening and do all they can to stop it

I - The Target(s) - the person/people/groups being bullied = women, teachers, fill in the blank.

What will turn our country around is when D-F become G's who let A-C know their bullying will no longer be tolerated, and that, if they continue their bullying, there will be real consequences.

We won't...
elect/re-elect them, buy their products, or watch/play their products.

We will...
boycott them, be non-compliant, peacefully and non-violently protest and demonstrate, and be everywhere speaking up and out against their bullying.

We CAN end their bullying when we stand united together to protect the less fortunate, as well as ourselves. There is strength in numbers, and power in knowledge.

The very existence and operations of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is corporate bullying at its highest political and economic impact upon the greatest number of people, and it undermines our democratic process.
1 - Member corporations write the laws,

2 - They give them to legislators (whose trip they fund through "scholarships" when those legislators do their bidding) to submit and pass. ALEC's name, of course, is removed and the bills are submitted without showing who authored them. The legislators take oaths and are required to draft and submit laws themselves, so they are going against their oath of office and the law. This is corruption!We the people - the actual stakeholders of this country - are not involved in the process. ALEC did not invite teachers to their education summit that is currently being held on a beautiful island. Anyone who wants to improve education would invite the experts in the field - teachers. Obviously that is not what this meeting is about.

3 - The only journalists they allow to cover events are pro-corporate; the rest get escorted out or arrested for trying to do their jobs as members of the free press.

There is no questioning them. There is no transparency. We the people are not invited. The bills they write benefit themselves, at the expense of we the people. Participatory democracy is bypassed, and the corporations control the legislators. That is NOT democracy; it is fascism. Let's end the bullying, in all areas of our country! Be a Resister/Defender/Witness!

Be a "G!"

Susan G. Komen's priceless gift