Information Is Like Food–You Must Have Variety

In these times of “alternative facts,” we have to be sure of the sources of our information. My blogger friend, JoAnn Chateau, provides us with such a list.

JoAnn Chateau

Beware of relying solely on mainstream media for your news intake. According to The Atlantic writer Rosie Gray, even conspiracy theorists are going mainstream.

Information is like food. You must have variety. With a strong and healthy mind, fake news won’t fool you.

Develop better news consumption habits by gradually adding quality sources to your everyday viewing. Whenever possible, go corporate-free. Before you know it, you’ll be a master at comparing reporters and sniffing out the salient details of any news story.

To get started, visit my Be Informed page. It’s a mini-library of mostly independent news sources, with handy links. If you only have time for one new source, consider making that a daily portion of Democracy Now! 

“Conspiracy theorists are on the national stage like never before, says Atlantic writer Rosie Gray. Alex Jones of Infowars fame is at the forefront. He’s responsible for propagating the widespread conspiracy theories…

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Jobs vs The Environment

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Headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Federal Triangle facilities – Washington DC – USA

Our global capitalist economic system has brought us to the edge of an abyss. If we want more jobs, the corporate capitalist elite tells us, we must reduce environmental regulations that increase their operational costs and make their products less competitive in the global marketplace. They say the same about financial regulations and employee wages. But those are other interrelated issues. I want to focus here on the environment.

The word “environment” seems to have lost its meaning for those of us, like myself, who live in large urban centers and have a greater say in state and federal policies, regulating our environmental protections. Far removed from our natural world, we can control the temperature within our homes, offices, and commercial and entertainment centers. We obtain our food and beverages, including purified bottled water, at our local farmers’ market, grocery store, or wholesale and retail supermarkets. The “environment” upon which our lives depend may seem distant and of little importance to urban dwellers.

Let’s gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the corporate capitalists or their puppets in government tell us. Let’s slash its workforce and budget. Its strangling the U.S. economy and impeding job growth. (What they really mean is that the EPA regulations hamper their growth and reduce their profits.) Continue reading

“The Place of No Dreams” – Poem by Caribbean-American Poet Lauren K. Alleyne

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My Poetry Corner February 2017 features the poem “The Place of No Dreams” by Lauren K. Alleyne, a Caribbean-American poet born in the twin-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago. She is an Associate Professor of English at James Madison University and Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center.

Armed with her dreams and a scholarship from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, Lauren Alleyne left home in 1997 for New York City. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, she pursued a Masters of Arts in English and Creative Writing at Iowa State University, graduating in 2002. Three years later, while working for her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Poetry), she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University.

Her poems and essays, published in several journals and anthologies, have gained several prizes and awards. Her first collection of poetry, Difficult Fruit, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2014. Continue reading

USA-Mexico Wall of Contention

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Our newly inaugurated president is intent on keeping his campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border and have Mexico pay for it. At an estimated cost of $12 to $15 billion, the wall will be over 994 miles long. About 621 miles of fences or other barriers already exist. Intended to deter rapists, drug dealers, and illegal immigrants, the wall of contention has developed into a trade war with Mexico.

During his first week in office, President Trump triggered a fight with Mexico via Twitter. If Mexico wasn’t willing to foot the bill for the border wall, the Mexican president should cancel his scheduled visit to Washington.

“The US has a $60 billion dollar deficit with Mexico,” President Trump tweeted. “It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost.” Continue reading

Scientists Are Terrified in Trumps America #auspol 

These are dangerous times to be a climate change scientist.

jpratt27

Government Scientists at U.S. Climate Conference Terrified to Speak with the Press

By Sharon Lerner


While Donald Trump was reviving both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, muzzling federal employees, freezing EPA contracts, and first telling the EPA to remove mentions of climate change from its website — and then reversing course — many of the scientists who work on climate change in federal agencies were meeting just a few miles from the White House to present and discuss their work.
The mood was understandably gloomy at the National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. No one knows what’s going to happen,” one EPA staffer who works on climate issues told me on Tuesday, as she ate her lunch.

She had spent much of her time in recent weeks trying to preserve and document the methane-related projects she’s…

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Climate Change is real for the coastal people of Bangladesh

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30 Million Directed by Daniel Price and Adrien Taylor (2016) Film Review Thirty Million is a New Zealand documentary about how rising sea levels in Bangladesh are already displacing (and killing) people in low lying coastal areas. It depicts quite dramatically how coastal farmers inundated by rising tides are moving into incredibly congested cities, where […]

via How Climate Change is Killing People in Bangladesh — The Most Revolutionary Act

“I think the trick in our hand is that we [the United Nations] have enough knowledge, enough information to act. But it is the collective acting that is what is required now. But if we are not that careful then we will definitely be suicidal if not evil. Evil is the word that could definitely be attributed to the people who have the choice and have not acted, who have the power and have not used it for the greater good of themselves, the community and the planet as a whole. We must not lose this opportunity because our leaders [of the world] have not thought it through. Or their personal, narrow, myopic vision blurs their understanding of the planetary processes. Climate change is a global phenomenon, with local impacts. But action must be taken globally. We are all in it together, either we all swim or all sink. There is no plan B, there is no planet B, this is all we have.”

~Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, excerpt from the New Zealand documentary film, “30 Million.”

Social Self-Defense: Calling all Warriors of the Light

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Los Angeles is a fascinating place to live for its diversity of peoples. In the shopping mall, on the Santa Monica pier, the Venice Beach boardwalk (above photo), and other public spaces, I blend in with the crowd. I am at home amidst the range of skin color pigments and English-speaking accents.

In spite of our rich cultural diversity, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia still circulate beneath our thin skin. At a local coffee shop, I’ve had to wait much longer for my coffee than my white companion. At a writers’ meeting, a white female club member told me not to touch her. “It’s offensive,” she said with an angry tone.

On a sunny, windy, Sunday morning in Santa Monica, someone in a passing vehicle threw water in my face as I crossed the busy boulevard. Was it the color of my skin that the stranger considered offensive or was it the colorful Indian print dress and shawl I was wearing? I’ll never know. Continue reading

Passage from Warrior of the Light: A Manual by Paulo Coelho

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My Poetry Corner January 2017 features a passage from Warrior of the Light: A Manual by Brazilian lyricist and novelist, Paulo Coelho, born in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, Southeast Brazil. While Coelho’s background as a songwriter endows his prose with an engaging lyricism, the featured work is not a poem.

Warrior of the Light: A Manual, published in 1997, is written in the form of short philosophical passages. Drawing on his own life experiences and ancient Eastern wisdom, Coelho invites each one of us to become a Warrior of the Light: someone capable of understanding the miracle of life, of fighting to the last for something he believes in.

This is not a normal year. We must prepare ourselves to enter the battlefield to defend our civil and human rights under threat.

Every Warrior of the light has felt afraid of going into battle.
Continue reading

Year 2016: Reflections

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Year 2016 began with the death of my friend and neighbor Benny on January 4. Every day, I looked out onto our desolate courtyard. Gone were the moments spent with Benny, his wife, and their nature-loving daughter.

I wasn’t alone in my grief. In the Middle East where our endless wars of terror ground on without mercy, death was everywhere. No family was spared. Collective grief saturated the air. Wailing mothers shattered the light. Traumatized orphaned children roamed the rubble of a stolen future.

How many more people must lose their homes, their livelihoods, and their loved ones for our freedom, comfort, and security? What are the consequences for the pain we inflict with impunity on women, children, and other civilians? Where is our moral compass?

The disintegration of my son’s marriage came two days after the news of Benny’s death. After my emotional struggle to let go of my son, his sudden return home disrupted the space (emotional and physical) I had created for myself in his absence. Watching my son’s battle to realign his life, while still clinging to his love for his estranged wife, frittered away at my inner peace.

During our 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, I observed the disintegration of our two-party political system. Both parties were in crisis. My disappointment at having my favored candidate lose the nomination for the Democratic Party shattered my hope for meaningful change. Whichever presidential candidate won the top post meant a loss for we the people.

The discovery of cancer cells in one of her lungs turned the life of a close friend on its head and threw mine off balance. Over the months that followed, experimental and other treatments didn’t prevent the spread of the cancerous cells to other areas of her body. Cancer sucked the joy from the time we spent together.

During his bid for the presidency, the Republican candidate unleashed cancerous cells of bigotry, hatred, misogyny, and xenophobia. This virulent cancer infected the heart and lungs of our nation. Millions of Americans can’t breathe under oppressive police force and an economic system that puts profits before people.

While we fought each other over our perceived differences and imagined threats, Year 2016 was the hottest year since NASA started recording global temperatures 136 years ago. In California, we entered our sixth year of drought. We also battled 7,200 wildfires that burned almost 570,000 acres across the state. Ice sheets on land and sea continued to melt at rates faster than those predicted by our climate scientists.

Thanks to my sons, supportive neighbors, and friends, I have survived the dark days of Year 2016. I send out a big ‘thank you’ to my blogger friends who brightened my days and buoyed up my belief in our human capacity for compassion and love for the other. Working together, we the people have won many battles in Year 2016 across America and worldwide against powerful transnational corporations who put their profits before life. We cannot give up.