The basic science for how climate change triggers severe cold weather in wintertime — The Secular Jurist


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By Robert A. Vella. It may seem paradoxical to laypeople that we would have severe cold weather spells in wintertime given that the world is rapidly warming up due to manmade climate change; and, climate change deniers are quick to exploit this paradox for political reasons.  But, it is true.  Global warming is increasing the incidence of extreme weather events of every kind from prolonged droughts and powerful storms to deadly heat waves and brutal cold snaps.  The following details the basic science behind the phenomenon popularly, though inaccurately, known as the “polar vortex.” The real polar vortex is something else altogether…

via The basic science for how climate change triggers severe cold weather in wintertime — The Secular Jurist


The Green New Deal: Are Americans ready for bold action?


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Sunrise Movement protesters outside then Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Office – December 10, 2018
Photo Credit: Sunrise Movement


While our president is fixated on building a wall along our southern border to keep us safe from the invasion of “bad hombres,” he refuses to acknowledge our greatest existential threat: climate change disruption. Young climate change activists, clamoring for bold action, have found a champion in the newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). At twenty-nine years, she is the youngest member of the US House of Representatives.

On February 7, 2019, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced a nonbinding resolution that sets out the framework for the Green New Deal. The proposal has gathered 64 House and nine Senate Co-Sponsors, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In an interview with Politico, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), not present at the unveiling, referred to the proposal as a mere suggestion.

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is but they’re for it right?”

The Green New Deal Resolution – List of Co-Sponsors
Photo Credit: Sunrise Movement


In the preamble, the Green New Deal Resolution cites the critical findings of the October 2018 “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5℃” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment: Volume II Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States. Continue reading

“There are Many Traps in the World” by Brazilian Poet Ferreira Gullar


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Historical Center of São Luís – Maranhão – Brazil
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Portuguese colonial architecture
Photo Credit: Kamaleao


My Poetry Corner February 2019 features the poem “There are Many Traps in the World” (No Mundo Há Muitas Armadilhas) by Ferreira Gullar (1930-2016), a Brazilian poet, playwright, art critic, and essayist. Born in São Luís, capital of the northeastern state of Maranhão, he was the fourth child of eleven siblings of a poor, working-class family.

As a young man, while earning a living as a radio announcer and editor of literary magazines, Gullar frequented poetry readings and devoured books of poetry by the best of Brazilian and foreign poets. At nineteen, he published his first poetry collection. But he saw no future in his suffocating, small-town life in the impoverished northeast region. He fled to Rio de Janeiro in the early 1950s, where he worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers.

Beginning in 1962, his work reflected his concern about combating oppression and social injustice. After becoming a member of the communist party, he joined the struggle against the military dictatorship (1964-1985). Following his arrest and imprisonment in 1968, he went into exile in 1971. For the next six years, he lived in Moscow, Santiago, and Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires in 1975, fearful for his safety in the wake of Argentina’s military takeover (1976-1983), he wrote his best-known work, “Dirty Poem” (Poema Sujo).

Ferreira Gullar among millions of students and other demonstrators gathered to protest against military dictatorship – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil – June 26, 1968
Photo Credit: Folha de São Paulo


In the opening stanza of the featured poem, “There are Many Traps in the World,” Gullar makes a simple declaration:

There are many traps in the world
and what is a trap could be a refuge
and what is a refuge could be a trap 

Some traps that we humans perceive as refuge come to mind: religion, cults, Facebook, and narcotic drugs. Continue reading


Why Technology Changes Who We Trust — The Conversation Room

Trust is the foundation of all human connections. From brief encounters to intimate relationships, it governs almost every interaction we have with each other. I trust my housemates not to go into my room without asking, I trust the bank to keep my money safe and I trust the pilot of my plane to fly […]

via Why Technology Changes Who We Trust — The Conversation Room

The Empire’s Fading Light


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The Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall
surviving projections of great power
of ancient dynasties and empires
defense against barbarian attacks
breached by invaders and internal strife.

East Germany’s Berlin Wall of our times
projection of fear and intolerance
of the communist Soviet Union
defense against divergent policies
razed by cries for freedom and inclusion.

The USA-Mexico border wall
projection of fear and intolerance
defense against criminal invaders
withdrawal from global alliances
to stoke dispersion of moral decay.

The flame of Lady Liberty sputters
a refuge no more for Earth’s dispossessed
freedom, inclusion, human dignity
hostages of cries for former glory
strangled in the empire’s fading light.

“Unwritten Poem” – Poem by Barbados’ First Poet Laureate Esther Phillips


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minister of culture appoints poet esther phillips as barbados' first poet laureate - february 2018

Minister of Culture appoints Poet Esther Phillips as Barbados’ first Poet Laureate – February 2018
Photo Credit: Barbados Government Information Services


My Poetry Corner January 2019 features the poem “Unwritten Poem” from the poetry collection, The Stone Gatherer, by Esther Phillips, a poet and educator born in Barbados, where she still resides. In February 2018, she was appointed the first Poet Laureate of the Caribbean island-nation.

After attending the Barbados Community College at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, she won a James Michener fellowship to the University of Miami where, in 1999, she gained an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry collection/thesis won the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets.

In 2001, she won the leading Barbadian Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award. Years later, the third of her three well-received poetry collections, Leaving Atlantis (2015), won the Governor General’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Phillips is a Sunday columnist of the Nation newspaper and editor of Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, a 2007 revival of the seminal Caribbean literary and arts magazine, first published in 1942. In 2012, she formed Writers Ink Inc. and, together with its members, the Bim Literary Festival & Book Fair. Continue reading

Year 2018: Reflections


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Year 2018 was filled with disappointments, self-doubt, and loss of direction. After completing my second novel, The Twisted Circle, in September 2017, I failed to grab the attention of literary agents or publishers.

“Not quite the right fit for us,” respondents said.

“You’re not good enough,” my inner critic said.

Drowning in self-doubt, I clung to the recognition that my yet-to-be-published first novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, had received when shortlisted for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize.

Each attempt to get started on my third novel, to be set in Brazil, fizzled out. The Top Boss in the White House held my afflicted heart in his grip. My mind became a barren landscape of shifting sand dunes. In September, I abandoned my writing project.

Where do I go from here? The answer still evades me. Continue reading


Dispelling Myths About Migration — my quest blog



With thousands of migrants from Central America currently stranded just south of the US border in Mexico, it’s time to ignore the political rhetoric coming from Washington for a few minutes and focus on the reasons so many choose to leave country, culture and family behind and walk 2,500 miles (4,000 kms) to an unknown […]

via Dispelling Myths About Migration — my quest blog

This Christmas, I find no reason for celebration. My thoughts are with the desperate mothers and fathers from Guatemala and other Central American countries who seek only a secure life for their children. If we, the world’s largest economy, cannot provide them with refuge, who will?

Learn about Henry Lewis, my guest blogger.


“We Could Be Free” by American Rapper Vic Mensa


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Vic Mensa (foreground) from song video “We Could Be Free”
Photo Credit: Rolling Stone


In keeping with my end-of-year tradition, I feature a song on my Poetry Corner December 2018. During this year of growing division in the USA, the hip hop song “We Could Be Free” by Vic Mensa captured my attention. It’s the thirteenth track on Mensa’s first, full-length, studio album, The Autobiography, released on July 28, 2017.

An American rapper, singer, and songwriter, Vic Mensa was born Victor Kwesi Mensah on June 6, 1993, in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in the good part of the Hyde Park neighborhood within a sheltered home with two parents, both educators. His white American mother and Ghanaian father, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, wanted their son to go to college. But the young Vic dreamed of becoming a rock star.

With adolescence came exposure to the real world outside of Vic’s gated community. In “Memories on 47th Street,” the biracial Mensa raps of his loss of innocence and the beginning of his drug use.

At age 12 I learned the difference between white and black
Police pulled me off of my bike, I landed on my back
Back to reality, oops, a victim of gravity
Where they pull you down and keep you there
Dependin’ on how you keep your hair

“I started to realize that America and the world were categorizing me as being black and all the stigmas attached to that, which would take a lifetime to unpack,” Mensa says in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Mensa concludes in “Memories on 47th Street:”

In a land of desperation we often turn to self-medication as a coping mechanism
Some make a living as hood pharmacists while some just inhale to remove them from hell
I watched from the window of a gated community until I grew old enough
There was no immunity from allure of the life

Continue reading

“Revolutionary Suicide”: Remembering the Jonestown Massacre


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Aerial view of Paradise off of Clark Road – Camp Fire, Northern California
November 15, 2018
Photo Credit: San Francisco Examiner (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)


As California burns and super-storms ravage our southern and eastern coastal states, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Reverend Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. Today, November 18th, is the fortieth anniversary of the mass murder-suicide of 916 Americans at the People’s Temple Agricultural Project at Jonestown in the northwest forested region of Guyana.

The 276 dead American children had no choice.

Teacher with Children Singing – Jonestown – Guyana
Photo Credit: California Digital Library


Victim of his own megalomania and alternate reality, the Pentecostal leader coerced his followers into ingesting cyanide-laced, grape-flavored Flavor Aid.

“Revolutionary suicide,” the Reverend Jim Jones called his final, defiant act. Continue reading