One vote. That's what it took to defeat the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline bill. Of course, this controversial issue is not going away.
Is anyone communicating with facts? Those who support the pipeline continue in mantra-like form to proclaim that the pipeline is good for the economy. Is it really? The Courier-Journal reported that the creation of the pipeline would only produce 35 permanent jobs, another report indicated a maximum of 50 jobs. The pipe used in the pipeline would be produced in India, not in the U.S. The oil would go to other countries.
Recently I received word that a former co-worker from Chicago died. As tributes arrived, I was moved by one that described his devotion to the homeless. He was always prepared to meet homeless men and women on the street, giving them hats and gloves. In Chicago winters they are vital! He also carried $5 McDonalds gift cards, perhaps providing the only food for the day.
He made eye contact! I say that because that often does not happen with many people. It is easy, on a busy day, to walk on by. Perhaps the most important response is to make eye contact, even if we don’t give a donation. Unfortunately, the homeless are not disappearing; in fact, 610,042 people experience homelessness on any given day in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 23% of the homeless population are children.
Israeli foreign policy under its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taking a tragic trajectory leading to moral decline and diplomatic isolation for the State and Jewish people. This is recognized currently by 106 senior Israeli security personnel who call upon him to initiate a diplomatic process based upon a regional framework for peace with Palestinians. Millions of Palestinians kept under Israeli military occupation for 60 years dehumanizes both peoples. Exclusionary apartheid laws, segregated roads and housing developments plus land confiscations, home demolitions, control of water and financial monies create resentment, anger, and the hopeless of violence for the Palestinians of Gaza and West Bank. Superiority, contempt, self-righteousness and loss of humanity afflict Israelis as they live in isolation from non-Jews in their country.
The post mortem on the 2014 elections will soon be in editorials in papers around the country and flooding the airways. Political ads have been especially negative, even mean-spirited. Since I am often in the car, I frequently turn to the classical music station to remove the toxic air coming from the radio.
Any discussion of the election must include a discussion of the ill-advised Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court. This decision in 2010 permitted unlimited corporate and union donations to be considered political free speech. The court allowed groups to refrain from disclosing their identity, and have become known as "dark money groups" who can spend unlimited money to support or unseat a candidate. The court opened the floodgates to contributions. In fact, over $4 billion has been spent to date.
Soon the unrelenting cacophony of political ads will end. More heat than light has come from this routine exercise. What is missing in debates, ads and stump speeches of politicians around the country?
One concern that never surfaces is a broken judicial system that continues to be racist. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, is an important voice on the issue. He notes that 1 in 3 African American men in the United States are in jail, on probation or on parole. One in six Latino boys will be in prison. He further states that 14 states have no minimum age for trying a child as an adult and 10-year-olds are being prosecuted as adults. They are put in adult jails and many are raped or abused.
If you have noticed people wearing purple ribbons during October, they are working to bring awareness to domestic violence and all who suffer from its effects. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence initiated Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October 1981, with a goal of connecting battered women’s advocates across the country who were working to end violence against women and their children. Programs mourned those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrated those who have survived and connected those who work to end violence. One of the most important actions coming in 1989 was establishing a toll-free hotline.
As by now, most Americans have seen coverage, extensive and from various angles of the events leading up to and after the death of Michael Brown. So I will not be blogging to the obvious, but what I would like to do is to take a look at this event from a different perspective.
Riparian buffers are both a part of and a means of caring for creation. As such they have become a common conservation practice. They are vegetative areas usually forested near a stream that provide shade to cool the water thus increasing habitat quality for aquatic life. They, also, partially protect associated streams, rivers and lakes from nearby land use.
Buffers provide environmental benefits by improving water quality and reducing pollution. They intercept sediments and pesticides that are detrimental to aquatic habitats and harmful to aquatic life. The also serve to prevent bank erosion which can lead to siltation which can damage reservoirs and dams.
They are going to Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia and Colorado. They are, Nuns on the Bus, traveling on a mission that is vitally important to this country. On every stop Sr. Simone Campbell and sisters from around the country will talk about the crisis of income inequality. The middle class is shrinking and the poor are getting poorer. Network and religious organizations around the country continue to urge congress to raise the minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. No one yet has asked members of congress if they could live on $7.25 an hour!
Mountain-size student loan debt continues to be ignored by congress, even when a moderate bill is introduced to lower the percentage of the loan. Equal pay for equal work continues to be a dream for women.
Our first impression of the People's Climate March was that there were a lot of people. The organizers reported that over 400,000 people marched to show the leaders coming to New York City for the Climate Summit that saving our planet was important. NPR called those of us who marched ‘activists’ and there was an amazing diversity of people and causes…long hair, short hair, curly and straight hair, blond, brown, blue and green hair. And that was just the men! Small children rode on their parents’ shoulders; seniors were pushed in wheelchairs; students and teachers; doctors and nurses walked in solidarity, and only in New York, dogs watched from baby strollers. I walked next to a man in a suit and a young woman covered in tattoos. Religious sisters, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews came together for this common cause. Along the route, we saw a group sitting in meditation as we passed by.