Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beauty of Spirit and the Spirit of Age

This YouTube video of an 80-year-old woman dancing shows an incredible beauty of spirit, while also showing the spirit of age. Aging doesn't have to mean sitting back in your rocking chair, watching life pass you by, or worse, giving up on life. Spirit can also be shown in many more ways than dancing. As we age, it is up to each one of us to discover or create ways to allow our own spirits to dance.

Pay Equity for Women - Lillian Ledbetter Makes History!

In his first legislative act as the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29, 2009. After decades of being paid less than men, with women now earning only approximately 78 cents to a male-earned dollar on average, American women can now more easily file suit for equal pay.

Although Lilly Ledbetter cannot benefit from this legislation to reclaim the lost $200,000 in lifetime earnings due to discriminatory pay practices at the Alabama Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, her persistence in getting this legislation passed and signed into law enables women now and in the future to sue their employers for pay equity. Lillian Ledbetter has positively changed the financial future for all American working women and their families. The Fair Pay Act is non-discriminatory, so if a man is not being paid equally, he can also sue for pay equity under this law.

As a woman who experienced both sexual discrimination and harassment (one of my bosses had the nerve to try to kiss me - yuk! and, how dare he!) in her earlier working life, and who earned less than a man for doing the exact same work (I was actually told by my boss it was because the man had to support his family), I commend Lillian Ledbetter for valiantly fighting for passage of this landmark federal legislation.,8599,1874954,00.html

Friday, January 30, 2009

President Obama, a Third Culture and Cross-Cultural Adult, is Changing the World!

Our society, our economy, and our future are all changing rapidly. The fluidity of the global economy and the continuous, extensive migration of people around the world have blurred cultural lines, creating a new type of citizen. Their numbers are exponentially increasing, so they are rapidly becoming the norm. These people significantly impact the educational systems of the country in which they are growing up and, as adults, the business, political, cultural, and economic structure of the country in which they choose to live and work. They are changing the world, since they live in almost every country on our planet.

President Barack Obama is probably the most famous Third Culture Kid (TCK)/Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK); and he grew up as both. TCK's are children who spend a large amount of their formative years growing up outside of their parents' culture. These kids have also been known as Army Brats, Missionary Kids, Cross-Cultural Kids, global nomads, or children of expatriates. Their birth culture is their first culture; their second is their new culture; and their third is the combined culture they create by integrating the first two cultures, forming something completely new and different. TCK's have different relationships with each of their cultures than would someone who has only lived in one culture. Many TCK's grow up never having a feeling of home, or belonging, anywhere they live because they are not from just one culture. Some TCK's make the world their home and flourish, as has President Obama.

"A Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) is a person who has lived in—or meaningfully interacted with—two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years.” - CCK definition and subgroups by Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. There are many sub-types of CCK, including children of immigrants, minorities and refugees, so I'm including this link for you to check them out and learn more:

The majority of students in my own classroom are TCK, CCK or both. In fact, I lovingly call my class a mini-United Nations. My students hail from Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. I, myself, am an adult TCK/CCK with many friends who are also members of this diverse group, so I understand many of my student's issues and how they may feel.

Growing up as a CCK/Domestic TCK, I experienced differences in language, accents and dialect, climate, geography, educational curriculum within the same grade level, and culture. Whenever I opened my mouth to speak, I was easily identified as other than a local. I also have a completely different life experience and survival skill set than do others who were born and raised in one place and culture. As a result of my childhood experiences, I never feel totally at home, because I'm not from any one place, often feel restless to move again, and tend to feel more comfortable in the company of other other "travelers." I resist the idea of moving because I know that I'll experience the same restless feeling wherever I go, as well. I've learned that home is where you currently live, wherever that may be, not where you're from. Another benefit of my experience is that I love to travel, meet new people, and learn about and experience other cultures.

Political, business and educational leaders should learn as much as they can about TCK/CCK folks like us, as we often think and learn differently, and have different social and cultural issues than do those in the traditional "monoculture" of the country in which we live, and we will affect the culture and climate of your society, office and classroom.

For more information on TCK's, please check out this link:

To better understand a TCK/CCK, please read The Story of Mr. Roundhead:

Here is a link to a TIME article about another influential TCK, Kevin Conrad, who stood up to the United States during the Dec. 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, saying, "If, for some reason, you're not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way!" The US backed down, opening the way for creation of the new Bali Action Plan.,28804,1841778_1841779_1841795,00.html

Arrogance, Greed and Excess

Arrogance, greed and excess abound in America. Let's see...

Exxon made, once again, record-breaking profits in 2008, while we were struggling to pay $4.30/gallon for regular, unleaded gas

Nearly $20 billion in Wall Street bonuses were paid out (don't forget that the average Wall Street employee makes 3-4x the salary of the average American worker), as they laughed all the way to their banks while they took billions in bail-out money out of taxpayers' pockets

Citigroup picked up a new, multi-million dollar corporate jet, while taking billions in bail-out money out of taxpayer's pockets

A single mother of six children, who lives with her parents, just gave birth to octuplets, implanted via IVF for who knows what reason. Who will pay for the hospital bills, health care, clothing, food, daycare, etc. for all 14 children? The taxpayers???

The CEO of Morgan Stanley used $1.2 million of shareholder money to redecorate his office, including an approximately $34,000 toilet

The crippled mortgage industry, high foreclosure rates, bank failures, business closures, lay-offs, unemployment, higher food and energy prices, inability to get new loans due to bailout money-hoarding by banks and financial institutions...

and the list just keeps on growing!

I'm thankful to have my job, a place to live, and food on my table. I pray for those who are victims of all of this arrogance, greed and excess, and hope they have the courage and fortitude to survive this Depression.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nevada State Governor Wants to Cut County Teacher Salaries

I'm thinking of submitting a Letter to the Editor of my local paper. What follows is what I'm considering sending to the paper. Please let me know what you think.

I am an employee of a County School District, and am a certified, Highly Qualified teacher with over 32 credits above my Master's Degree. Many of my professional colleagues also have a Master's Degree; some more than one. We're mandated by the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act to complete a high level of educational attainment to meet and maintain our Highly Qualified status, yet are required to pay for this training out of our own pockets. We are required by our State and our County School District to complete continuing education courses to meet and maintain our licensing requirements, and to qualify for step increases, all also out of our own pockets. Yet, our Governor Jim Gibbons is calling for a freeze in step increases, as well as a 6% "temporary" (yeah, right) decrease in our salaries.

So, are the Federal, State or County governments going to reimburse us for our mandated educational expenses, now that we can no longer benefit from them? Are they going to pay off our school loans? What about teachers who are married to teachers? These couples will lose 6% of their entire family income, while still trying to pay off their school loans. Former President Bush and Congress never funded the No Child Left Behind Act. They created the current state of our economy through rampant deregulation and lack of oversight of banks and businesses. Our State Governor has relied on county and local governments to repair problems at the state level. Now, he expects teachers to pay for problems largely created by an incompetent government.

Most state employees, once they are hired, are not required by Nevada State to continue their education in order keep their jobs or to maintain a license. Teachers are not state employees, yet Governor Gibbons is erroneously considering teachers as state employees and is demanding that we pay a significant penalty for teaching in the State of Nevada. How teaching is funded in this state should not enable a State Governor to dictate the salaries of County School District employees. Now, not only are Nevada's children being left behind by their Federal and State governments, so are their teachers!

Check out these YouTube videos of Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers giving the State of the System address:

Part 1

Part 2

Poisoned Peanuts + Lack of Oversight = Questionable Food Security

Shame on corporations who place greed and profit over the health, safety and security of everyday people all around the world. Corporations and small businesses, including those who produce our nation's food supply, are a part of a cadre of business people who each bear significant responsibility for the security, economy and reputation of our nation.

Over the past 2 years, the Peanut Corporation of America repeatedly found salmonella in its product. When salmonella was found, the company went lab shopping for a conflicting opinion. Then, they purposefully chose not to report positive test results showing salmonella contamination to the FDA because they are unethical and it was not legally required. They also chose to repeatedly ignore their responsibility to immediately remedy the contamination problem in their manufacturing plants. Finally, the Peanut Corporation of America continued with business as usual in complete disregard for the health, safety and lives of the consumers who trusted in them, while banking their profits on the deaths of (so far) eight of their trusting consumers.

The people involved in this scandal should be arrested, held and tried on innumerable charges. These charges should include premeditated murder - they knew the likely outcome of a salmonella outbreak - death - yet chose to do nothing. Business people should be held accountable and a message should be sent to all: you WILL be held accountable for your wrongdoings. Your free ride is finally over!!! You are here to serve your consumers, your country, and only after that, you may make a reasonable profit.

The next problem in this fiasco that has killed eight people, is a criminal lack of oversight. This is yet another prominent example of the Bush/Republican push towards deregulation. Helloooooo. Is anybody our there? Since when do people, especially business people focused on profit, have enough integrity to do the right thing? This is why regulations were instituted in the first place. Hellooooo! People will do whatever they "can get away with." So, of course, it makes perfect sense to extensively deregulate all markets and expect people to do the right thing.

I could go on (and on), however I think that the current condition of our economy, the mortgage industry, etc. very effusively illustrate my point. We need to come to a more balanced view of regulation, where our country, security, food supply, infrastructure, environment, and the heath and welfare of all citizens actually are all taken into account when (de-) regulating a "free" economy. News Flash: Nothing in life is free. When people die because they cannot safely purchase and eat peanut products, deregulation should be thrown out the window.

Related to food security, the high fructose corn syrup found in over 80% of our foods, contains mercury. Check out this link:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

KBR, US Contractor in Iraq Charged with Negligent Homicide

There are now 18 US soldiers who are dead because they were electrocuted on American bases, many of them built by KBR. KBR is a Houston-based American company contracted by our government to provide shelter, food, and basic services for our troops. KBR, once a division of Halliburton, has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of only one of these soldiers, so far. The company was notified about faulty wiring and grounding problems many times over, over a period of months, beforehand, and did nothing!

Until this past May, KBR had a monopoly on the food facilities and basic services contract, earning $24 billion since the Iraq war began. Consider how much wealth KBR, which had already been accused of mismanagement, has now amassed since it acquired the huge no-bid, cost-plus contract through its political ties to now former Vice President Cheney. If KBR and its employees are found guilty in the negligent homicide of even one of these soldiers, they should be required to serve prison time, surrender the remaining monies awarded them in their contract, and be required to leave Iraq.

The past 8 years have been replete with extensive greed and corruption, lack of oversight, complete deregulation favoring corporations over citizens, and political power plays. There was never any Congressional oversight on dollar amounts less than $1 million because this was stipulated in the contracts proferred to Bush and Cheney's political and business allies. When our government uses our hard-earned money, it has an obligation to monitor how every penny is spent and the quality control of the work performed on each and every contract. As I've stated before, cost-plus, no-bid contracts should be illegal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Power of Hope and Persistence to Create and Sustain Change

I was reading a post by blogger No Impact Man at
in which he asked a question about the naivety of attempting to make enormous changes in the world. Here is my reply to his post entitled Can a renewed presidency alone make a renewed planet?

First of all, congratulations on the film showing at Sundance! As for the part of your comment, "Does this sound naive? ... Because a search for a better way of life that also saves our habitat can engender more public support than a geeky-sounding thing like a renewable energy grid ever would." I don't think this is naive at all. I absolutely believe that we need to change the focus of our economy from one of consumption to an economy of service and sustainablity. It is a major paradigm shift that rejects the excesses of Milton Friedman's consumer-based economy for a new way of life.

I've been aware of Global Warming since the early 1980's, as I used to work for Dr. James Hansen at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. I was there when, then Senator Al Gore invited Dr. Hansen to speak in front of a Congressional subcommittee about the results obtained from his global climate model. It was at this meeting that Dr. Hansen stated that Global Warming is happening now. Then, I watched all the naysayers and product defense teams hired by Big Oil attempt to shoot him down. I saw his funding dry up due to this controversy. I read the reports about how he and other scientists were, essentially, muzzled so that a powerful political, energy and economic agenda could be maintained, instead of challenged. In the past 25 years, I've seen most of the world come around to see the truth in his independent, academic, juried research.

So, when you asked if your idea was naive, I thought of this rocky journey that Dr. Hansen has been through and where we stand today. Are you naive? No. Hopeful? Yes! For without hope and persistance in the face of great odds, defeat is certain. Change is only possible when we overcome obstacles with hope and persistance. If people throughout history believed their ideas and aspirations were naive and stopped working toward those dreams, our world would be an incredibly different place. So, in honor of our new President, let's all understand that we can make the necessary changes to save our planet, and our country. Yes We Can!!!

Our New President!!!

President Barack Obama is our first African-American President! I cried tears of joy during the Inauguration ceremony. This man, whose parents' interracial marriage was illegal in 16 States, became the President of the United States of America. About 170 Tuskeegee Airmen, the all-black WWII combat unit whose surviving members are now in their 80's and 90's, were there to see him take the Oath of Office. Aretha Franklin, who even in the early 60's would never have been allowed to walk through the front door of the venues in which she was sang or to eat with her fellow, white, performers, sang at his Inauguration! I am sooooooooooo excited and thankful that our country has advanced this far in such a short period of time!

President Obama led a chess-like campaign. I gave my support and vote to Senator Obama when the candidate for whom I campaigned and served as a delegate, Hillary Clinton, lost. Now that he is our president, I am so very proud of my country and hope that we can all come together to help each other and to return the United States of America to its place of honor and respect among the nations of the international community.

While he was last in Hawaii, President Obama personally brought in one of his deceased Grandmother Toot's dresses to a local seamstress. Tonight, President Obama is attending TEN of the Inaugural Balls, and is supposed to at some point, wear a bow tie and cummerbund fashioned from the fabric of this dress, in honor of his Grandmother Toot. This shows the true character of this man, who has become our 44th President.

Please enjoy this American folk song written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 using the melody of a Carter Family song (June Carter, that is). I found this Inaugural weekend performance of This Land Is Your Land on YouTube.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Favorite Books, Essays and Writings

Ever since I could pick up a book myself, I've always loved reading. There have been a few books that have stood out over the years that helped define who I am and how I think. Others I've loved simply because they're fun. Either way, here they are for you to peruse.

The Art of Color by Johannes Itten
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
I and Thou by Martin Buber
On Being Human: Principles of Ethics by Andrew Varga
Man and His Symbols by C.G. Jung (The older, larger, color hardcover edition; don't bother with the small B&W paperback as the larger size and color are important in showing the imagery. You can find it used on Amazon.)
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukov
The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
Marie Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and
What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman
Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and Life by Leonard Mlodinow

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Tree People by Naomi M. Stokes
Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver (This was made into a movie in the 70's.)
Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free by Joy Adamson (Born Free was made into a movie, also.)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights by James Madison, et al

What are some of your favorite books?

Great Quotes

"Always question the received reality. The consensus reality is often intentionally misleading." - George Carlin

"Art is humanity's most essential universal language. It is not a frill, but a necessary part of communication. The quality of a civilization can be measured through its music, dance, drama, architecture, visual art and literature. We must give our children knowledge and understanding of civilization's most profound works."
"Build your life as if it were a work of art."- both by Ernest Boyer

"If you cannot imagine the future, it will never come."- S. Crawford

"This is the moment of your ministry. This is the time of teaching. What you teach at this time, through your every word and action right now, will remain as indelible lessons in the hearts and minds of those whose lives you touch, both now, and for years to come." —Dalai Lama, 11 September 2001
Read his entire address at

"You can become a night watchman and live happily. It is what you are inwardly that matters. Your inner peace and joy you have to earn. It is much more difficult than earning money. No university can teach you to be yourself." —Sri Nisargadatta Mahar

"When you get rid of your fear of failure and your tensions about succeeding... you can be yourself. Relaxed. You'll no longer be driving with your brakes on." —Bill Crowley

"A crisis is only as bad as you allow it to be. Celebrity is an artifical flavoring. And at the end of the day we all go to bed with ourselves." —Gregory Perrin

"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it." —Aung San Suu Kyi

Do you have any quotes you love or live by?

Interesting People I've Known or Met

The beginning of a new year often brings some introspection. I was thinking about people whom I've met that were truly interesting. Here are some of them...

Dr. James Hansen - the "Paul Revere" of Global Warming who was invited, in the mid-1980's, by Senator Al Gore to testify in front of a Congressional subcommittee about climate change. He was the first scientist to state that global warming was happening now. I used to work for him.

Dr. Roger Revell - Oceanographer. I met him at work.

Jacques et Michel Cousteau - Jacques Cousteau was the man who first interested me, as a child, in SCUBA diving through his television specials. He and his son were very nice. I met them while I was at work.

Frank Sinatra - a man who cared enough to ask an 11-yr-old girl if she would like to see her father perform while sitting in the audience next to his wife, instead of only from backstage right. I'll never forget his kindness. (My father lost the autograph Frank wrote to me!!!). I wasn't thrilled about his daughter, Nancy, however.

The Osmond Brothers (actually, the entire family, including Marie and Jimmy, and except for Virl and Tom) - really nice people, all of them! I was so sorry to hear of their parent's passing. The family always stood together in a circle, with hands held together, and prayed before each performance. Their father, George, invited me to join them in prayer.

Fred Astaire - a legend in dance and song. I met him on set, while picking up my father from work. He was very nice; a true gentleman.

Gena Rowlands - actress. A nice lady I met on a Malibu beach while visiting my friend's grandmother. I got to hold a real Oscar - they're HEAVY!

Debbie Reynolds - used to pick up my father in LA before going to the set to work. According to my Mom, her daughter and I used to play together as babies in front of the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

Rosemary Clooney - at a Christmas dance for LA Cotillion. I had learned the fox trot, cha cha, etc., but had to move across country before I got to learn the Viennese Waltz. Someday...

Keith Haring - popular artist, now deceased. I met him at a NYC party given by my, then, boyfriend. He was very interesting to converse with - we spoke about many things, including religion.

Most of the other interesting and wonderful people whom I've loved, befriended, learned from, or worked with are not famous, so you wouldn't know them. However, this doesn't make them any less "important," noteworthy, influential, or amazing. Here are only a few of them, and not in any particular order. They include... Philip Yacos, Elaine Matthews, (Dr.) Bill Rossow, the lunch group at GISS, Herb Lyon, Bill and Carol Erlbaum, Faith O'Neal, Irene Cortes, Frank Palazzi, Fred Aquilino, Nadine Robinson, Bea and Clayton Wilcox, Brother Adams at Fordham University, my 7th grade music teacher at Walter Reed Jr. High in North Hollywood, CA, Teresa Coultas, Dan Dallman, Sabrina Gould, and Phyllis Kontolefa Wendelboe.

Who have been some of the more interesting or influential people in your life?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good News, For Once

Wow, something good to report. All 155 passengers on a US Airways jet that crashed into the frigid waters of the Hudson River survived! Hallelujah! Wahoo!!! I hope that all hospitalized passengers will be fine. To the pilot, great water landing! It's nice to celebrate good things that happen in such Dark Times. Let's all concentrate on this good news, breathe, relax, de-stress. Isn't that a little better?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The War on Education

The New Math for Teachers: teachers / (POLITICIANS + MEDIA + PARENTS + CHILDREN) = Failing Students
Politicians and media don't treat teachers with respect, so parents and children assume they don't have to, either. Teachers across the country constantly hear the mantra that they are failing to do their jobs. Teachers have been made the scapegoat for the ills of society, including the widespread problem of lack of parenting, while dealing with disrespectful and sometimes violent parents and children. If a parent can't control their own child (and many parents cannot), how do they expect teachers to control that one child in addition to the other 18-40 or so other students in their classroom, some just as defiant, or even violent? As for the parents who do care to actively participate in their child's education, often can't because, in Nevada, they often have to work at least two jobs. Oh, and of course, teachers still have to find the time to actually teach the ever-expanding and changing curriculum that skims, instead of delving into more subjects than are covered in either Japan or Germany (countries with whom our test scores are compared - apples vs oranges). Then, once again, teachers are told they're no good and it's ALL their fault when students don't "make the grade."

In Nevada, teachers earn far less money than do people in other professions who have comparable educational and professional qualifications, have a health care package that offers even less coverage than the package available for support staff, and have only received a 4% increase over the past 2 years (Clark County police officers received a 28% increase in one year). Yet, Governor Jim Gibbons has proposed a 6% cut in teacher salaries. Nevada State Senator Nolan, met and discussed the 6% salary cut with Clark County School District Certified Employees (teachers and future administrators). He said, 'We hear you loud and clear. We don't need our offices flooded with e-mails and we don't need anyone else calling.' He then stated that 'we all need to do our part and give back' to our state. Teachers 'should just feel lucky to have their jobs.' I wonder if all Nevada State Government officials, including this Senator and Governor, have already voluntarily reduced their own salaries by 6% to help the state balance its budget? Leaders should not ask sacrifices of their employees, when they won't make the very same sacrifices themselves, first. After all, they too, should feel lucky to have their jobs!

Nevada's Governor, in addition to reducing teacher salaries by 6%, also wants our already underfunded school district to reduce its budget. This will more than likely cause class size increases, a decrease in per student funding, and a significant reduction in every school's budget so they will be short on supplies. Brilliant move! This is the optimal strategy to use to retain your best teachers and increase student achievement. Governor Gibbons, and all other politicians and media, don't forget to blame the teachers, again, when student achievement drops. Keep this up and they'll all quit. This, of course will go over well with corporations contemplating relocating to Nevada. So much for Nevada's future. So much for "children are our future." Actually, the title of this post could also be The War on Children.

Governor Gibbons, in his State of the State Address on 1/15/09, said that reduced hours and salaries have contributed to our state's economic downturn. In the light of his own logic, how does reducing teacher salaries help our economy? If he reduces teacher salaries, many teachers will be forced into bankruptcy and/or foreclosure, and they most certainly will be spending less, contributing to the downturn. Has he thought about couples who are both teachers losing 6% of their entire family income? What about the teachers who have just completed their Master's Degree to acquire the "Highly Qualified" status required by No Child Left Behind, who now must pay off $15,000-30,000 worth of school loans? Oh, by the way, since when can a Governor break a labor contract? I also didn't hear him asking our police (remember the recent 28% increase?) or firefighters to take a 6% pay cut (not that they should have to, either)! Nothing like being equitable! By the way, why is it that traditionally female occupations are always picked on first?

How about asking our power companies to lower their profit margins and decrease their rates? Instead, they want to increase their rates, so that our many citizens who are already struggling to pay their bills, will now be forced into foreclosure and/or bankruptcy.

By the way, he did say he would reduce his salary by 6% and asked other constitutional officers do the same. I wonder how many will actually do it?

Dr. Ruffles, in his reply to the Governor's address, stated he didn't believe the 6% cut and the freeze on step increases is possible because of existing contracts.

Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid stated the Governor is putting the onus of fixing the State budget on local governments and that the State Government should live within its means.

Speaker Barbara Buckley also disagreed with the education cuts. She stated that these cuts would take us to the bottome of per pupil funding in the entire country: #50, baby. Yes, Governor Gibbons, something of which you can be proud - great job!

John Ralston - why don't you take a pay cut, too?

Finally, I believe that Governor Gibbons is absolutely anti-education! In his post-address press conference, he said, "I will not stand in the way of the will of the public." Well, let's see if the public starts putting their "money where their mouth is" and continue funding education and paying teachers a fair wage. If Governor Gibbons wants to make us "The Renewable Energy State," he'd do better to think about how he was planning on educating the folks he expects to be working in these industries. No teachers = No education. Maybe state citizens should think about recalling our Governor.

60th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Every Human Has Rights - Campaign Highlights from Every Human Has Rights on Vimeo.

This year is the 60th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's so sad that so few read or take it seriously. This is what I found on the UN Site:

On 10 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

Here's a link to the spoken word version of the Declaration:

If you'd like to sign a pledge to uphold the goals of the Declaration, go to this link:

To read the Declaration, please go to

Could you imagine a world in which every person lived and abided by this Declaration? We most certainly wouldn't be at war in Afghanistan or Iraq, Israel and Hamas wouldn't be in an undeclared war, and women and children (and some men) wouldn't be raped, trafficked or abused (see the UNIFEM YouTube video stream at
and the UNIFEM link
How do you think we can achieve peace and respect for human rights in the world?

To see what is happening in the world to refugees and displaced persons, check out UNHCR's YouTube video stream at

I won't repeat what I've already stated, so please look down along the right side of this blog and go into the archives to read my earlier posts or simply click on the following links:

Children Murdered for Political Gain, Yet Again

Looking for Humane, Peaceful Solutions in Gaza

Women and Gender-Based Hate Crimes

Niger Refuses Entry to Doctors Without Borders

Please Help the People of Burma

ADDENDUM 1/31/09
I just signed a petition requesting a Special Prosecutor be appointed to conduct an investigation of possible war crimes by the Bush Administration. Here is what I wrote:
The United States of America was a signatory to the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No representative of the American people should feel they are above the rule of law, or have the right to create loopholes through which they can walk to violate the spirit, if not the letter of the law. Please pursue an investigation into possible war crimes committed by the Bush Administration and its authorized representatives.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sarah Palin Whining to Remain in the Spotlight

Puh-lease! Sarah Palin seems to have nothing better to do these days than to complain about what people say about her. Isn't she supposed to be the acting Governor of the State of Alaska? Perhaps acting is the operant word. Wasn't Mrs. Palin aware that, when she ran for political office, she opened her entire life up for commentary? Maybe she's just whining to manipulate the media into keeping her in the limelight. The more she's talked about, the more likely she'll remain a political celebrity. She probably envisions herself as President Palin, in 2012. On the other hand, this whining may also convince people she'd make a poor candidate. After all, blaming others for your plight and whining about what people say about you are not exactly admirable qualities in any candidate for higher office. One way or the other, unless there's really something more legitimate to discuss relative to this former candidate, I refuse to cater to her ego and write anything else about Mrs. Palin.

Links to My Comments on the Ether of the Internet

Well, here are some links to comments I've left floating around the internet:

Here's a link to my art gallery on Deviant Art - however, I've not added work, so please be patient. While you're there, check out my friend's daughter's incredible artwork - ZombieLady's REALLY good.

Missing Pilot Schrenker May Have Been Found

Based upon all I've heard about Schrenker, I wonder if he's somehow related to the unbelievably still-in-office Illinois Governor Blogojevich? One way or another, these two guys certainly have a lot in common! Maybe, if they're both found guilty, they'll end up in the same prison. Then they'll be able to compare notes on their outrageous escapades in the light of the prison yard.

PBS Exposés on Product Defense and Bisphenol-A

This is a link to a PBS Exposé on product defense by reporter Paul Thacker. Once you watch this, you will see how tobacco manufacturers were able to put doubt in people's minds about the dangers of smoking and how Big Oil could cast doubt on Global Warming both using product defense to influence public opinion, policy and environmental law.

Here's the link to the bisphenol-A story entitled Chemical War Zone that shows animal deformities and cancer links to chemical endocrine disrupters.

I find it interesting that both stories name the American Chemical Society as being one party involved, while both stories also show the correlation between misinformation and product defense that allows chemical companies to continue business as usual despite known health risks to consumers and the environment. Nothing like profit, greed and power to influence public health and environmental policies and laws at the expense of health, humanity and the environment.

When you knowingly do all that you can to lie about the safety of a product that causes disease and/or death in its consumers, you should be held culpable. This is at the very least, unethical. However, I truly believe these companies are commiting crimes against humanity. If there are currently no laws on the books to deal with this, there should be - locally, nationally and internationally.

Green... Lip Service

Okay, I totally get being rich and/or famous and wanting to be at President-Elect Barack Obama's Inauguration. However, a runway will have to be closed to air traffic, causing delays to the average traveler, to give over 500 private jets a place to park. How much fuel will be wasted to carry so few in so many private jets? Why can't these rich people save parking spaces and fuel by jet-pooling? Remember global warming, national security, and our addiction to oil, anyone? How about common courtesy to others less fortunate, by not hogging a runway so your jet has a parking space? Privilege shouldn't mean selfishness or irresponsibility!

Years ago, many of the rich traveled first class, on the same planes as the rest of us or got together to charter a plane. I remember once seeing Paul Newman heading off to his flight as I was heading towards baggage claim... and, no, I didn't bother him by saying hello, as I was too busy doing my own thing.

Now, the rich and famous make soooo much money that they each own their own private jets, wasting an inordinate amount of fuel, so that these few people can travel set apart from the rest of the world. No wonder why the ultra-rich are often so out of touch with reality. I certainly hope that the same people traveling by private jet aren't into the green movement, because if they are, their participation is only green lip service!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The $5 Billion Porn Bailout - What About Me?

Well, Larry Flynt is up to something again. He says we're all too depressed to have sex, which affects many small-businesses and free-market capitalism. Why not bail out and nationalize the adult industry? I seriously hope that this is just an incredibly funny, well-timed publicity stunt.

You know, now that I think about it, I should go to Washington to ask for a bailout, too. I might as well. I'm one of those people who is not part of the problem, but who is being dragged down by others' poor decisions and greed. I, for one, would like to get a break, too. I'm getting tired of paying for other's greed and poor decision-making abilities (not that I'm perfect - I most certainly am not; however, I also pay for my own mistakes).

Maybe we, who are not part of the problem, could all get together and call ourselves The Stimulus Group and ask for money to bail us out of the muck into which all those others have dragged us. That would leave them in the mud they created. At the same time, it would lift us above their mess like a lotus in the mud. Hmmmmm, the more I think about it, the better I like the idea!!! Leave 'em to wrestle with each other in the mud. As for those who were legitimately victimized, I'd merrily welcome them into our fold. No more power-hungry, greedy people getting the bail-out. Come and join the Stimulus Group!!! Worse come to worse, if Flynt's Porn Group is eventually taken seriously, our Stimulus Group could join with them, up the amount to $8-10 billion, and we'd all be satisfied.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Children Murdered for Political Gain, Yet Again

When will grown men and women stop killing innocent children over their own adult disputes? If Hamas members were using children as shields, they're murderers and cowards who deny others their right to self-determination. The Israelis, today, are simply child killers. One can use any kind of rationalization or excuse, but, the bottom line is that many innocent children are dead! Is it really that easy to just push a button on something that you know will kill children? Could you stand one foot away from your own children, look them in the eyes, see their fear and tears, then pull the trigger point-blank? It's no different! Shame on all those responsible!

ADDENDUM, 1/8/09
Israel had repeatedly assured the UN and Red Cross that they could safely bring humanitatian aide into Gaza, yet Israel did not cease firing on and near these aide convoys. Today, Israel killed a United Nations aide contractor. Now, both the UN and Red Cross have suspended aide. In an unprecedented statement, the Red Cross has accused Israel of preventing them from reaching injured civilians. The UN Security Council, today, called for a cease fire. My own country stood by and abstained! Shameful!! Hamas and Israel both need to STOP!!!

I just read this in an email from Amnesty International (AI): "The recent report AI co-authored in March 2008, The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion. That research exposed the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza: over 80% live in absolute poverty, unemployment is close to 40%, households spend over 60% on food, and power outages keep hospitals from treating the critically ill."

Would any of you accept these living conditions without trying to do something about them, one way or another? As I stated in an earlier post, creating such horrible, inhumane conditions breeds rebellion and extremism. Examples of people's reactions to similar conditions can be found throughout history. One of the best ways to rid the world of extremism and terror is to treat all humans with respect and maintain their basic human rights.

Mr. Burris Goes to Washington

Mr. Burris went to Washington this morning, and was rejected, left standing in the rain without a Senate seat. When Attorney General Roland Burris was appointed to the Senate by Illinois Governor Blogojevich, his own ethics were questioned; a case of guilt by association. Any appointment made by the current Governor would have been tainted. Burris' insistence in both disregarding the wishes of his fellow Democrats and, especially his expectation of being seated ahead of his legal certification, may now call his own decision-making ability into question. However, I believe he was right to insist his appointment was legal. Blogojevich is still Governor and he appointed Burris to that honorable position.

All citizens are still innocent until proven guilty, no matter how much evidence is entered against a person. Blogojevich has not yet been tried, never mind found guilty. If the Senate still refuses to seat Burris when his papers are complete, they are usurping the legal process, the rule of law, and the foundation of the Constitution itself by making themselves both judge and jury. The Senate may judge its own qualifications, but that is not the same as questioning ethics. Qualifications are not ethics, as evidenced by the fact that many members of Congress have been tried and convicted of many different crimes! Honestly, if they're going to question Burris' ethics, they should also be looking at each other's ethics. If ethics were a qualification for being seated in the Senate, there would many empty seats. Separate the issues and keep your eyes on the ball. Mr. Burris should be seated.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Claudia Castillo Receives New Trachea Grown From Her Own Stem Cells

There is great news from an article I read on CNN International. Claudia Castillo, of Cali, Columbia, received a new windpipe grown from stem cells removed from her hip and nose. The operation was performed in Spain this past June and has saved Ms. Castillo from the necessity of the removal of a lung and/or a traditional transplant that would have required her to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Suffering from tuberculosis and chronic coughing spells that left her trachea badly damaged, she was unable to breathe without difficulty. Ms. Castillo is now almost fully recovered from her stem cell tracheal transplant and can now breathe better. Scientists believe this new type of transplant will revolutionize health care in the future. Ms. Castillo stated, "I feel good because it gives hope to sick people who haven't been given any hope." Here's the link to the full CNN article:

Hopefully, this breakthrough will offer the possibility of stem cell transplants of other body parts, improving and saving many lives. This is definitely a field to watch.

Looking for Humane, Peaceful Solutions in Gaza and Around the World

Israel and Hamas are both complicit in the current state of war. They both violated the cease-fire agreement. However, Israel is NOT using proportional force. On the one hand, 30 Israeli soldiers are reported to be injured, 2 seriously, and all are receiving medical care. On the other hand, over 460 Palestinians are reported dead and over 2,700 injured, one quarter of them civilians. Many casualties are now without adequate medical care due to the blockade and the inabililty of aide workers to enter due to the Israeli offensive.

The problem with all reports about Gaza is that they cannot be independently verified, as the Israelis are still not allowing foreign media inside Gaza. Hamas is also preventing access to any media already inside Gaza. Expecting journalists to play the childhood game of Telephone is both disingenuous and unconscionable. Journalists should neither be used nor expected to create propoganda as if they're public relations employees. Both sides should allow journalists the freedom to do their job. When independent observers are absent, there is also the danger that atrocities may be committed with impunity. The world should demand accurate, independent information be allowed to be reported. If Israel and Hamas are worried about what people think, they should both be worried about how all of this looks to the outside world.

The UN Security Council should demand an immediate cease fire to allow humanitarian aide workers into Gaza to assist the population. Diplomatic solutions should be sought to immediately lift the blockade allowing basic food and medical supplies to flow to these refugees. Diplomacy should also be utilized to seek a lasting and durable resolution to the homeless status of the Palestinians. Leaving people to live an internment of permanent refugee status is not a peaceful solution that respects their basic human rights.

Terrorism is generally defined as the use of violence, coercion or the threat of violence against civilians for political, religious or other ideological reasons. By this definition, both Hamas and Israel are terrorists. Consistant use of military force against innocent people only breeds anger, contempt and extremism. Our world needs, instead, a more concerted, humane, peaceful, and diplomatic course to mediate these long-term disputes. Gandhi showed that meeting violence with peace creates more sustainable, humane solutions. Both sides in this dispute could learn from his example, as could many other countries, including my own.

Perhaps countries should spend most of their budgets on peace education, instead of defense. I know that I, for one, am sick of seeing a disproportionate percentage of my country's budget spent on defense and war-mongering, instead of education, health care and maintenance of our infrastructure. Countries should require peace education as part of the curriculum, so that by the time children become adults, they would be well-educated in ways to solve their own conflicts peacefully, learn to control their own anger, and would be more likely to require their politicians to use mediation instead of force. As the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for."

Maybe it's our expectations for great leadership that should change. Leading people to death, killing others, and bullying others on the playground of international relations are not what I consider to be the qualities of a great leader. This type of leader should be castigated and impeached. A combination of intelligence, compromise, and use of mediation/diplomacy for peaceful conflict resolution are the hallmark qualities of an exceptional leader. You get what you expect.

EDIT 1/3/09, 11:50pm
I just found a broadcast series about life on both sides of the Gaza Strip entitled Gaza Sderot, Life in Spite of Everything. Here's a link:

The Sum of Bush's Two White House Terms OR A Bird in the Hand is Worth More than Two Bushes

Bush's incredibly innovative two terms in the White House can be summed up in one statement that Bush himself made in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5, 2004. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

There are many innovations President Bush has introduced to America during his two terms in office. Here are just a few precious gems of innovation with which he has left us, in no particular order:
-No Child Left Behind, left unfunded, yet mandated.
-The Iraq War (read the Downing Street Memo, as published in the London Times, yet left remarkably unpublished in US media
-No-Bid, Cost-Plus Contracts awarded to friends and buddies to the tune of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, with legalized prevention of oversight on how these monies were and are being spent.
-The current state of our economy and its impact on the world economy.
-Rampant deregulation and increased corporate freedom in relation to finance, mortgages, the EPA, and the FDA.
-Lack of accountability and recusal when corporate bigwigs are appointed to public office. I call this a new type of job-sharing, where corporate officers are appointed to public office in order to wield undue influence on lawmaking and the development of public policy in favor of their "former" corporate employer, usually at the expense of the health and safety of American citizens. After they've done the job for which they were sent, they are "rehired" by that same corporate entity. If you're not familiar with this practice, as a start, look into the work of Dick Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry at this link to job-sharing and deregulation discussed above, our country is still not secure. Companies don't want to spend the extra money to make their sites secure, as it will impact their profits. Reporter Carl Prine exposed a complete lack of security, even walking into a chemical site control room. Search various articles by him, as well as the Think Like a Terrorist episodes on the PBS Expose series. Here're 2 links:
-Increased corporate protection and power over the people.
-GMO's still in our food supply, now expanded to include pharma crops.
-Cloned foods and drink now allowed into our food supply without any adequate, INDEPENDENT, long-term studies on their health affects on humans. This was rammed through in the manner as were gmo products, which are also still not required to be labeled.
-Per CNN, as of 2/2/09, there have been 4,221 Americans killed in Iraq and 30,920 US troops wounded in that war. Iraqi casualty counts vary, as of 2006 and 2007 from 151,000 (Iraqi Health Ministry survey) to 601,027 (Lancet survey) to 1,033,000 (Opinion Research Business survey) depending upon which survey you trust.
-Purposeful inactivity on Global Warming.
-Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, admission to torture of prisoners.
-Refusal to abide by International Law and the Geneva Convention.
-Withdrawing the United States from the UN Human Rights Council (of course, how can we even sit as an observer on this council when it wanted to investigate our human rights abuses). This gives me an increased sense of foreboding that echoes the lack of respect, by our country, for human rights here in our own country, as well as abroad. When there is a culture of power, greed and corruption that favors corporations with financial power larger than that of our own country, of course the American citizen and all other world citizens lose. Our government kow-tows to corporations. These corporations have no obligation or desire to worry about the safety and health of their consumers, nor the human rights they and our government consistently trample in their quest for more money and power; their only obligation is to their bottom line. Shame on us, however, for allowing them to become so powerful.
-The largest private army in the world was allowed to grow and expand on American soil, and was granted full rights to shoot and detain American citizens in New Orleans during and immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
-The mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina and the well-documented, inexplicable and purposeful lack of maintenance, repair and reinforcement of levees known to be inadequate long before the Hurricane ever hit.
-Reduction in freedoms once guaranteed to citizens by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
-Arrests of US Journalists on their own soil.
-Excessive force consistently used against peaceful protesters in the United States by police and government forces.
-A climate of fear purposefully instilled through the overuse of terror alerts and threats of arrest if outspoken.
-The reduced prestige of and concomitant lack of respect for the United States of America around the world.

Honestly, I believe he and Cheney should have been impeached. However, at the end of his second, infamous term in office, I am left only with the hope that he will be arrested and held to stand trial for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court at The Hague. President Bush, don't let the door hit you on your way out!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year! Let's Also Protect Our Water Rights!!!

Happy New Year to all! The new year has finally arrived with hope and the anticipation that good things may happen. Many of us make resolutions, promises that are often unkept. I don't usually make resolutions, but this year I will. Just when I thought nobody was reading my blog, I discovered I now have at least one person who is following my blog. Hurrah and Thank You!!! So, with renewed enthusiasm, I vow to write more frequently.

I was just reading my e-mail from Alliance for a New Humanity and learned of a new documentary entitled FLOW, which brings to the fore the issue of privatization of water. Water is Blue Gold, the new "Texas Tea." Corporations and wealthy private citizens, like T. Boone Pickens, are buying up water rights and land for their water pipelines. Worrying about water pollution is now almost secondary to the issue of whether water is a human right or can it be privatized.

This is THE major issue for our survival as a species, followed closely by the issue of the patenting and control of natural seeds - our food supply. Those who control the world's water and food supplies, also have the ultimate power of controlling all of humanity. Corporations can price their "products" until they are unaffordable for a majority of the world's population. At that point, people would be willing to give anything just to survive - the ultimate slavery. I, for one, refuse to give up my freedom and right to exist to another individual or corporation. This is not only happening in the United States; it is also happening in Australia and other countries around the world. If this keeps up, we'll be seeing water refugees.

As the old saying goes: "Knowledge is power." However, we can't stop at knowledge. Action is also necessary. We all need to get together to put a stop to this immediately. How, of course, is an important question to which I don't currently have an answer. I will find out and do something. Here's the theatrical trailer for FlOW, which took the Sundance Film Festival by storm:

This is an interview with the filmmaker Irena Salina:
Part 1

Part 2

Here's a link to an article on the privatization of water in Bolivia:
Please look into this and send a link about this to all your friends and loved ones. Let's work together to stop this.