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Archive for May, 2010

I had heard recently that there is STILL OIL on Alaska’s beaches from the Exxon Valdez spill that happened twenty one years ago. So I decided to do some research and found this interview from “Democracy Now”, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman. The following is just part of an interview she had with Riki Ott, a community activist, marine toxicologist, and former commercial salmon fisher-woman and author of two books on the spill.

The reason I feel this interview is important to share with the masses is because of the issue of “corporations” having the same rights as a person. (being protected by law). She explains this in detail later, and I encourage you to think of what power is being given to corporations, and as long as they continue to have these same rights, justice will never be “for the people”.

Now with the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, we will face yet many more years of litigation, which will of course not accomplish justice for the people, or animals that are now suffering (and will continue to suffer) because of this tragedy.

To read the complete interview, you may use this link:

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/24/20_years_after_exxon_valdez_oil

AMY GOODMAN:

A report marking the twentieth anniversary of the spill has found oil still persists in the region and, in some places, quote, “is nearly as toxic as it was a few weeks after the spill.” The report was put together by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, which oversaw restoration efforts. It states, quote, “At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely.”

RIKI OTT:

Those ecosystem studies began in 1994, really too late for our trial. They didn’t get completed until about 2004—I’m talking about published papers now. And those studies show, sure enough, the oil that’s remaining on our beaches is still causing harm

AMY GOODMAN: Let me see. You have brought a little jar. This is Exxon Valdez oil, Smith Island, Prince William Sound. This is one year ago. This is not from—

RIKI OTT: This is July 2nd last year, not even a year.

AMY GOODMAN: This is astounding.

RIKI OTT: That’s what we think, too. I take children out on the beaches now who were born after the spill and say, “This is your legacy.”

AMY GOODMAN: It’s just covered in oil.

RIKI OTT: The oil specifically is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs. This is actually coming out the tailpipes of our automobiles. It’s the fine soot. That’s kind of the codeword for it. And this is linked with genetic harm, not only in animals, but in people, as well, respiratory harm, reproductive impairment, cancers. Very low levels of this oil, these PAHs, cause incredible harm to people.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve said that is not just an environmental disaster, but a crisis in democracy.

RIKI OTT: It is a democracy crisis. The question we started asking as our lawsuit went on and on and on, and we didn’t get paid, was how did corporations get this big, where they can manipulate the legal system, the political system? What happened here? And I thought that was a really good question, so I went to answer it. And that became the final chapter of Not One Drop.

And I learned from other people’s work that there’s actually two ways to amend the Constitution. One is formally, through people-made law, which we’ve done twenty-seven times. And one is informally, through what Thomas Jefferson called the engine of consolidation, the federal judiciary, the Supreme Court.

And in 1886, the Supreme Court made sort of a seminal decision, where it granted a railroad corporation equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, which is, of course, a civil rights amendment for due process and equal protection for African American men. For the first forty years after that passed, there were 307 lawsuits brought, nineteen by African American men, the rest by corporations.

And at that point, when the Fourteenth Amendment passed to corporations, this thing called a corporate person arose. And that corporate person, in the eyes of the law, is able to access our rights, human rights, the Bill of Rights, constitutional protections. This is wrong. The word “corporation” never appears in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. This is how we’ve lost freedom of speech. We still—we, as people, still have the First Amendment, but so do corporations. Free speech equals money. Those with more money have more speech. Pretty simple. So I began to understand that the legal system is broken. The election process is broken, all because of the same reason, this corporate personhood.

AMY GOODMAN: Riki Ott, I want to thank you for being with us. She has written the book Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. I thank you for joining us.

RIKI OTT: Thank you. And I’m advocating the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to strip corporations of human rights. Thank you.

Gray Whale photo: (John Gaps III / AP)

Worker photo: latimesblogs.latimes.com/…/03/09/valdez.jpg


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Because I am tired of hearing about all these naive Americans who travel to foreign and dangerous countries, and then get “caught” by the authorities over there or even worse, caught by “tribesmen”, I felt it necessary to provide this helpful information for those planning to travel to these dangerous places in the future.

The U.S. Government has a website you can visit, to figure out what countries are safe, and what countries (if you had any sense), you would stay away from.

PLEASE, if you plan to travel to some exotic far away place…..CHECK THIS SITE FIRST:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Yemen: Country specific information: This link has everything you need to know about the country. It is valuable information about safety, recent news, entry/exit requirements, crime, medical insurance, plus much more.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1061.html

This information is provided for each country you chose to research or read about.

The following is only a partial excerpt from the web site, under the Warnings section:

Yemen

February 25, 2010

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities.  The Department recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Yemen.  American citizens remaining in Yemen despite this warning should monitor the  U.S. Embassy website and should make contingency emergency plans.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued June 26, 2009.

Interpretation:  DONT go there unless you HAVE TO.

To read the article about the couple caught by “tribesmen” in Yemen, you can find the link here:

http://www.islamtribune.com/2010/05/25/armed-tribesmen-kidnap-us-couple-in-yemen.html

This is my random information for you today…..hope it helps.

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While reading the latest news about the three Americans, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd, I can’t help but think, “Where was their common sense”?  Yes…common sense, defined as good judgment: sound practical judgment derived from experience rather than study.

courtesy photo

All three graduated from U.C. Berkley in California: Shane’s degree is in “Peace and Conflict Studies”, Josh’s degree, “Environmental Economics and Policy”, and he taught “sustainable living skills”, and Sarah’s, I’m not sure, but must be teaching, as she was teaching “English” while living in Damascus.

What do these degrees teach people about the real world? They all had ideals about how the world should be, peaceful, with human rights, everyone living in harmony, and so on.  That all sounds fine and dandy….but unfortunately, that’s just not how it is.

I find myself wondering about how they were raised…..by hippies?  That is kind of how it sounds to me.  Raised by parents who told them they could change the world, make it a better place.  Again, that sounds great too, but you also have to teach  naive young people, that there are some things that cannot be changed so well.

A great example, look at the radical Muslims.  We have been in a battle with a culture that has lived the same way for eons.  They don’t want change, they believe our liberties and our way of life is evil.   They are taught to destroy the infidel.

Did they ever watch the news?  Everyday there is something about people getting caught in these radical backwards countries (like Iran, North Korea), and anyone with any common sense can figure out, those aren’t the best places to “wander” around in, no matter how good your intentions are.

Side note: I know people who NEVER watch the news….because in their words, “It is too depressing”.  How lame is that?

Do I feel bad for them?  Of course I do.  But please, there is something to be learned from this:  There are evil people in the world, who don’t care about freedom, rights, personal rights, or justice. Use your common sense (and maybe watch the news every once in awhile).

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I like to visit New Orleans whenever possible, but not for the famous Mardi Gras, there are other things about that city that draws me to it.

The city and its people are rather laid back, I like that kind of atmosphere, a carefree style without concern about anything. Most of the people are friendly, and you can strike up a conversation without getting a sour look in return for speaking to a total stranger. Also, their accents of Creole mixed “French” is quite interesting to listen to.

A local getting ready for the day

I go for the authentic Cajun food, I can’t get enough of those wonderful spices they cook with. This last time we went, I had the “full Cajun” dinner, it consisted of Jambalaya, with spicy sausage, dirty rice, and of course some gumbo….it was like I died and went to heaven (gee I hope there’s Cajun food in heaven).

Another thing so compelling about the city is just the beauty of the architecture of the buildings. Many of the buildings were built in the late 1700’s, and the styles you will find are, Creole cottage, Creole townhouse, American townhouse, Shotgun house, and Double-Gallery homes. Many of these homes are surrounded by beautiful azaleas, and old oak trees. A good way to see these homes is by riding on one of the streetcars, such as the “St. Charles” line. This one passes many antebellum mansions, historical monuments, the Audubon Zoological Gardens, and Loyola and Tulane Universities.

A local Art Gallery

I do not advise going there in the heat of summer, but rather plan to go in spring or in the fall. If you have never been, there is a good reason for this advice. It is not a very clean city and garbage cans litter the back alleys and they are even posted out front of some establishments. I suppose the cans are there because it is a city where people are allowed to walk around with drink in hand (and not get stopped by the police).

Note the garbage cans lined up in the street to the right

New Orleans is classified as one of the most haunted cities in the United States. Given its history and how it was founded, it is no wonder it has this title or has so many sightings of ghosts. It is founded on a huge area of swampland, and was considered an ideal area to build because of its location on the Mississippi River.

The French believed it would be a good area for trading, so it was established in 1718, and built by prisoners that were sent over from France. These prisoners were the first residents of New Orleans, a population of thieves, murderers, and rapists. The living conditions were horrible, given that there were many mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, and disease. All of this made a perfect atmosphere for hauntings and ghosts.

The first time we visited, we stayed at Le Pavillon Hotel. It was built in 1907, and is listed as a member of historic hotels of America. It has many antiques and beautiful chandeliers throughout, a very elegant atmosphere.

Le Pavillon Hotel

Lobby in the Pavillon

It is said to have four resident ghosts, a teenage girl named Ada, from the 1840’s, a young man from the 1920’s era, and an aristocratic couple, also believed to be from the 1920’s. It is known for inexplicable sounds and smells, voices and poltergeist activity.

When we stayed there, one night I woke up hearing voices in the hallway….it was around 1:30 or 2:00 am. Nothing really that scary for me. However our most recent stay in New Orleans, we were staying at The Ambassador Hotel (not really that great, but the price was right).

The first night, I woke up due to the noises in our room. It is hard to describe what it was, but it sounded like someone playing a game of “jacks” on the floor. I could hear the sound of metal (the jacks) and what sounded like a little rubber ball bouncing off the floor. There were creaking sounds like someone standing there also. The whole hotel has hardwood planks that run throughout it, and it creaks whenever you walk on it. Sometimes it sounded like someone moving a step stool, flipping it over and over. I was tired, so managed to go back to sleep…even with the noises.

My husband says it was my imagination, and in his mind, that is all it was. Even though I woke him up to ask him if he could hear it also.

His response was that it was just hearing someone walking on the other side….and the sound travels through the planks. Well, gee…that doesn’t explain the bouncing ball noise or the metal sounds.

The next night (just as I knew in the back of my mind), the noises started again, same spot, around the same time. I once again woke my husband up, and he once again dismissed it. But this time, the noises became louder, and it even sounded like someone threw something big and hard against the wall….all the way on the other side of the room, by the window. This really unnerved me, and made me very uncomfortable. What if it throws something at me, or tries to hurt me. I decided to do something about it, as I couldn’t get to sleep. I remember reading in the Bible, that we can tell evil or spirits to go away, and it has to comply. But, you have to say specifically, “In the name of Jesus Christ, be gone”

So I sat up in the bed and said that in a very loud and commanding way. I also told it to “go away”.

It worked! No noises for long enough for me to go back to sleep. Of course my husband thought I was crazy and just annoying him, by waking him up again.

By the end of the day, for our final night, I knew it would happen again, but this time I was prepared, and went to sleep with my mp3 player on. I was not going to have that pesky ghost or whatever keep me up. Sure enough, like clockwork….it did happen again. It managed to get even louder, and more obnoxious….like it knew it would have to to wake me up. And once again, sounded like someone was throwing things against the wall (every once in awhile). I turned up my mp3 player and went back to sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to request a different room after the first and even second encounter, but my husband didn’t want to bother the hotel staff, and mostly he didn’t want them to think we were crazy (that’s the real reason). Because of my “open-mindedness”, I think I am tolerant of certain things that I cannot explain. If it weren’t for that, I’m sure I would have ran out of there screaming.

We have had other encounters with ghosts, so I just don’t understand why he is in denial. I will save those for another post.

Well, anyway, we managed to enjoy our stay again in New Orleans…..it has such a tormented history….no wonder it has so many ghosts. I won’t let them keep me away though, as there is always something new to discover there in that wonderful old city.

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7 things about me.

So I was one of twelve people elected by Redriverpak to provide some interesting details about myself. I don’t know that I have as many “humiliating” things as he had on his list, but I would say my list falls under “quirky” or “weird” facts about me. So here you go….

    1. I am a germ-o-phobe – I don’t like shaking hands with people, or touching door knobs, or coughing, hacking, sneezing people….I avoid them like a plague. Because of my obsession with germs, I am constantly washing my hands. You too would be obsessed if you read this book, “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. It is based on a true story.

    2. I am a true believer in the following: Great minds discuss ideas, Average minds discuss events, Small minds discuss people.

    The “discuss people” thing is referring to gossip, and gossip is not important news of any kind.  People who are fascinated by such aren’t very smart.

    3. I’m afraid of scorpions…..as sometimes I find them in our home. They probably look more menacing than they really are (I’m assuming this), but I have been fortunate to have not been stung by one yet..…(knock on wood). I am also afraid of sharks….you will never find me surfing in the ocean, or even kayaking in the ocean…..yes….people get eaten by great white sharks while kayaking.

    4. I am disillusioned by my thinking that I will someday be very successful as an artist, or author. I am somewhat talented with graphic arts, but REAL art….hmmmm….I doubt it , and writing….well, other than having some articles published in local newspapers….nobody is pounding on my door with any great offers.

    5. I have never, and probably will never buy a Starbucks coffee. I refuse to pay $5 for a cup of coffee, that is just like throwing money away. The same thing applies to purses….I don’t have a Dooney & Burke, and probably never will….I refuse to pay $400 or $500 for a purse. I also believe it is a waste of money to pay someone to do your fingernails.
    6. The things I would spend money on If I were rich, someone to clean my house, do my grocery shopping, and if I have tons of money to blow….then I would pay someone to cook every once in awhile too. I don’t mind cooking….just not everyday. I really get tired of having to figure out what to cook.

    Another thing I don’t mind spending money on is fine writing instruments….or fountain pens.  There’s something about a fine pen that I cannot explain….but if you haven’t tried one, you just don’t know what you are missing out on.

    7.  I like men to have deep voices….that is sexy to me.  I cant think of a bigger turn-off when a cute guy/man…. starts talking and sounds like a girl….you know what I’m talking about so quit laughing.  This guy here has a sexy voice:

There you go….not really embarrassing things, but like I said earlier, kind of quirky stuff about me.

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Mother’s Day actually made me sad this year…..I never thought it would affect me this way.  Of course, most things that affect us, we  believe we are ready for and our expectations of them are waaaaaaay off .  But isn’t that how life is?  We have thought out in our minds how things are supposed to happen, and we also believe that we are capable of handling things that are unexpected or when the inevitable happens, well, we just assume we can deal with it.

Well…..”poof”!  Just like that my little boy was transformed from a sweet little pooh bear, to a young man!  How did that happen!!!  I miss my little “pooh bear”.

Here is a picture of my “baby” after his first swim lesson at the YMCA.     Isn’t he the cutest baby swimmer you have ever seen?  For those of you who don’t know….when teaching a baby how to swim….it is kind of barbaric…..they teach you to blow into their face so they close their eyes (and hopefully close their mouth), then you dunk them under water.   Come to think of it….sounds worse than water-boarding….but that’s a different subject that will need to be discussed at a later time.

16 months old, first swim lesson, getting water out of ears....NOT happy.

Back to my “mother’s lament”.  I felt so bad that day……dunking him into the water….over and over….the poor kid must have thought I was trying to kill him!

Well, eventually he realized we weren’t trying to kill him, and he flourished as a happy, smart, and normal child….as you can see by this picture of him with the turtle he found in our flower garden (while helping mom pull weeds probably).

Fortunately…..he wasn’t traumatized by the swim lessons as a baby…..and turned out to like it! (Maybe he figured he had better adapt to this “water” thing as it wasn’t going away), but anyway….he wanted to be on the swim team in school in Jr. High….and continued on into high school.

Here is a picture of him this last summer…..competing…..

His best event is the “Breaststroke”, and here he is  doing just that………

I’m kind of upset with him as he tells me our pool isn’t big enough….or rather long enough….( he wants an olympic sized pool…..and ours is just doesn’t cut it….spoiled).

Well, he started his first job yesterday…..as a Lifeguard at the high school pool where he swims everyday…..he is driving, working, and hopefully finding out what he will want to do with his life…..while being a sophmore in high school.  I hope and pray he will do something he really loves…..as that is so important in life.  If you don’t like what you do….what is the use?

I miss my little boy….but am proud that he has turned into such a wonderful person!

He has many colleges that are soliciting him for  attendance to their institution…..I keep telling him he has no idea how lucky he is to “decide” which one he wants to go to.  A consolidation for me is that I have raised someone who will hopefully make a difference in the world, and be happy while doing it!

But…..I still miss my little pooh bear.

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I have been thinking about the current administration leading our country, and the people who President Obama surrounds himself with. One in particular I would like to talk about is Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to Obama. Has come under fire for his lack of self-control and frequent outbursts recently…..basically he is a “hot head”.

 It bothers me that there is a lack of good character, or “class” in regards to our leaders.  Well what does this mean?   Here are a couple of quotes to read and think about regarding this issue. 

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.”

 Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren on the subject of Character, November 4, 1775

It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.”

 Thomas Jefferson, notes on Virginia Query 19, regarding character, 1781.

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