Every few minutes my e-mail is binging with yet another message on the September 21 People's Climate March in New York City, NY. This may be the "mother of all marches." According to those planning the march, hundreds of thousands of activists from around the country will take to the streets to share their concerns about the most critical social issue of our time. While it is important to make phone call, send e-mails and sign petitions to our legislators demanding action on climate change, nothing focuses the attention of those in power as a huge crowd of determined people calling for action.
From the demonstrations to end segregation in the 1960's and 70's to the "no nukes" movement of the 1970s and 80s, activists have worked relentlessly for a belief in what is right and urgent. The time for serious action on global climate change is now.
A tug of war continues between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA. The long awaited report on the Bush administration’s use of torture ("enhanced interrogation") following 9/11 has been made available to the committee. Just one problem—someone in the CIA has a very thick black magic marker to make it impossible to read key parts of the torture report. CIA officials stated that "only 15% of the document was "redacted," read, censored. They have eliminated key details that support the report’s findings and conclusions."
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. - US Constitution – Amendment 1
Every meal is a time for thanksgiving. As we enjoy the vegetables and fruit that fill our plates we can be thankful for the 2.5 million farmworkers who sacrificed health and living wages to provide meals for families around the country. Most of the time I do not think of that reality until I receive an urgent message. Recently I received such a message from the United Farm Workers: "Speak out to protect farmworkers."
An estimated 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and thousands of farmworkers experience the effects of acute pesticide poisoning, including headaches, nausea, shortness of breath and seizures. Many times pesticides lead to cancer, infertility and neurological problems.
"Peace will come when we love our children more than we hate our enemies." - Golda Meir
Watching the news recently requires nerves of steel, aspirin nearby, as well as a positive attitude that things can change. Within a few weeks we have viewed the horror of remnants of a commercial airline with 298 people aboard being shot down by militant separatists in Ukraine. While the world deals with this shock, Israel invades Gaza. Over 500 Palestinians are killed and over 3,000 injured. Food, medical supplies, and water are in short supply. Even though Iraq is not in the headlines, Iraqi citizens are still suffering as ISIS remains a threat. All this, while children from Central America flee the violence that threatens the lives of many.
Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN ("Promise") Alumni Trust, does not make the nightly news or the front page of The New York Times, despite the fact she has worked miracles in Pakistan. She works every day promoting sociopolitical and economic empowerment of marginalized Pakistanis, keeping families together. Her goal: turning young Pakistani boys away from extremism.
Good things happen when a group of mothers determine to act on behalf of families. These moms have decided that the gun culture in the United States is a threat to their families and families everywhere and are acting to change that culture.
A recent headline read: "Moms Wholesome Win: Chipotle says "No Guns!" When extremists brought semi-automatic guns into a Dallas-area restaurant, Moms went to work and gathered 10,000 names on a petition in just a few hours. In less than 48 hours Chipotle Mexican Grill responded: "…we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."
"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." - Jane Addams
In 1963, when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man made for doing identical work. Today women who do the same type of work as men earn 77 cents for every dollar a male worker earns. This clear form of gender discrimination should be a no brainer, but isn't. Progress for women moves in inches and has become a political football.
"The reality is that violence and asymmetric warfare will remain a symptom of the new Iraq for the foreseeable future. This isn’t due to an alleged shortage of military capacities, but rather a reflection of what Iraq essentially is: an unreconciled, broken state, plagued by deep ethno sectarian cleavages, weak institutions and a political system prone to relapse toward an authoritarian order." - Ramze Mardini The New York Times