Let Us Talk

October 5, 2009

Healthcare: Do Americans Understand? Or Even Care?

Does the average American really know what’s best for the ‘greater good’ of all Americans or do they even care? 

Looking back in history Americans have lamented the passing of many laws because they some how thought that it would impact their community in some conceived negative manner without looking at the long term benefits and how it benefited the majority for the ‘greater good’.

grand-canyon

There are too many  laws to mention that are now celebrated and their authors who were visionaries are now viewed as heroes decades later. But while these laws were before Congress there were those who didn’t have the vision to see their worth and fought tooth and nail to defeat them.  The 19th Amendment (gave women the right to vote), the Social Security Act of 1965, Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve by proclamation in 1906 and Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908 are just a few – there are sooo many others. Another law which was far-seeing but created battles and brawls was the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservative Act.

Mount Denali

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (or ANILCA) was a United States Federal Law passed in 1980 by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on December 2 of that same year. 

The law provided for the creation or revision of 15 National Park Service properties and set aside public lands for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The act provided for the designation of 79.53 million acres (124,281 square miles) of public lands, a third of which was set aside as pure wilderness area where flora and fauna could thrive in their natural habitat and not be disturbed. The act provided for the creation or expansion of Denali National Park (home of North America’s tallest mountain).

The legislation was initially introduced into Congress in 1974 in several different bills, each outlining a single proposed park, monument, or other area. Several of these, in particular Lake Clark and Kenai Fjords, were quite controversial in Alaska. Little action was taken on any of them, so that by 1975 the National Park Service (NPS) and conservationists conceived the idea of a single bill that would cover several separate areas. The election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter kept afloat hopes that Alaskan conservation would finally get a fair hearing. However, several members of Congress, particularly Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, remained strongly opposed to the absorption of such a large amount of land by the National Park Service — which would take the land off the market and, Gravel felt, damage long-term economic development plans for Alaska. Gravel became the primary opponent to the act.

The Interior Department and NPS became concerned as 1978 dragged on that no action would be taken at all on the “national interest lands” included in the proposals mining and forestry claims, among other issues, were beginning to be levied against the lands and time was running out. The National Park Service and Interior lobbied President Carter to use the Antiquities Act to designate the proposed lands as National Monuments by executive order, which Carter did on December 1, 1978.

Carter argued that he had been forced to use the Antiquities Act by Congress’ failure to act in a reasonable time, but his actions nevertheless caused wide protest across Alaska.

President Carter was burned in effigy (a representation of his person) in Fairbanks. Residents in the Cantwell area undertook a large act of civil disobedience known as the Great Denali Trespass. Alaskan citizens went up into the park, fired off guns, made campfires, and did a number of other things that were officially prohibited by the National Park Service. The towns of Eagle and Glennallen produced official proclamations stating that the towns would not support National Park Service authorities, not enforce NPS regulations — such as not allowing open fires, skydiving, hunting, alcohol, and numerous other formerly popular activities in the parks and monuments — and would shelter and protect individuals who broke the regulations and protesters marched in the streets and called Jimmy Carter a socialist and a communist.

These protests continued for some time, the designation of the monuments broke the legislative opposition to ANILCA. Senator Gravel continued to obstruct passage of the bill, but in the wake of Carter’s proclamations most opponents recognized the need to work toward passage of an acceptable bill, rather than no bill at all.

In early November 1980, Jimmy Carter lost re-election to Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party won a majority of seats in the Senate. Conservationists recognized that if they did not accept the compromise then on the table, they would be forced to begin again in the next Congress with decidedly less support. The bill was passed in late November, and signed into law in December.

Mike Gravel, meanwhile, was blamed in Alaska for forcing Carter’s hand with the Antiquities Act. Though Carter was hardly held blameless for the creation of the new national monuments, Gravel was taken to task for the unpopular decision as well and was denied his party’s nomination for his Senate seat in the 1980 election.

Despite all these past hysterics most Alaskans and Americans and citizens of the world now strongly support the ANILCA, to the point of celebrating its creation, especially within the population center of Anchorage. To them the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act represents a successful example of wilderness conservation for the benefit of future generations.

The same will be said about healthcare reform in the decades to come.  Healthcare reform will be viewed as a humanitarian right that is a quintessential part of what makes America a great democracy and in the future Americans will ask why there was even a debate about healthcare being a right for citizens in the United States.

Sometimes in life, if we are not experts on a subject or if we are not farsighted and resourceful we have to step back, get out of the way and let our visionaries help us do what’s right today for our future and for the  ‘greater good’.

September 30, 2009

Iran — What Should The World Do?

Middle East 9 09

World powers put pressure on Iran ahead of crucial nuclear talks scheduled for Thursday, amid growing concern about the covert build up of Tehran’s nuclear program.  Iran has insisted for years that it has a right to civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to make enriched fuel for power plants — although its first Russian built and long delayed nuclear plant is still not online. Iranian officials underscored that their nuclear “rights” (uranium enrichment which the UN Security Council wants suspended) were not negotiable.

But its announcement last week of the ongoing construction of another uranium enrichment plant, underground near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, prompted stern warnings from western capitals led by Washington and concern from some Arab states.

Arab states from the Gulf have joined talks with the six Western nations preparing to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Envoys from the Arab states are said to have met at the United Nations headquarters in New York over the weekend with the five permanent powers (P5) in the UN Security Council plus Germany who want guarantees from Tehran on the civilian nature of its nuclear ambitions.  The ‘P5-plus-one’ group is set to meet with Iran on Thursday, October 1 in Geneva.

“It will be in the best interests of everybody that this situation stays under control,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, following the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear site under development near the holy city of Qom. “The new facility is being looked at by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it seems there will be positive co-operation with Iran for inspecting this site.”

Jeffrey Feltman, the US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, spoke of “ongoing consultation with our Gulf friends about what is our policy toward Iran and how we are going to address the October 1 dialogue with Iran.  There’s a profound concern on their part that we do not try anything that could be construed as trading their interests for our interests.”

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated he has no objection to Gulf countries directly joining the talks.

Gulf States, fearing the encroachment of Iranian power throughout the region, have urged the country’s leadership to comply with international demands regarding the development of its nuclear program.

“Nuclear weapons is a tough issue, but it’s hard to know whether all this is just talk,” Dr. Ghanim A-Najjar, a political scientist at Kuwait University, told The Media Line. “Nuclear weapons are not a joke and I don’t think Iran will go that far. They don’t have the ability; the technology is not available to them.”

Dr. A-Najjar argued that recent efforts by Gulf States to explore nuclear power were in direct response to Iran’s nuclear development. “The Gulf States want to put pressure on Iran with threats of their own nuclear energy plans.”

“But I don’t see how Gulf States can be serious about nuclear development,” he added. “There’s a big step between saying we want nuclear power to actually having it and I don’t think the Gulf States are capable of this kind of development.”

Dr. Stephen Steinbeiser, Resident Director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, argued that there was more concern over Iran’s overall influence in the region than the potential of a nuclear armed Iran.

“People are definitely interested in Iran, if one day it’s proven that Iran has nuclear weapons the balance of power in the Middle East really squeezes Arabs out of the middle between Iran and Israel. That’s something that makes people pause and people are starting to question just how powerful Arab states really are.”

“The Israelis have a very palpable fear of Iran,” he said. “Yemenis don’t have that but there’s a concern about the influence that Iran is presumed to yield.”

“People here are less interested in these negotiations than in what is perceived to be Iranian interference in the northern rebellion,” he said, referring to an ongoing military conflict between Yemen’s central government and a Houthi-led rebellion in the country’s North. “You never hear it in the mainstream media but locally people feel that the northern rebels are receiving Iranian support and that this is not so much a war against rebels but a war against Iranian intrusion.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said this week that Moscow would like to see “substantial progress” on the nuclear program in Geneva, days after President Dmitry Medvedev signaled he might endorse sanctions against Iran.

This is a strong indication of a change in Russia’s position and that probably has something to do with the US attempts to reset the relationship with Russia. 

China has an important import/export relationship with Iran — will they put pressure on Iran now that Russia seems willing to do so? 

June 21, 2009

Happy Father’s Day!

If you’re a great hands on Dad who is a positive influence in your child(ren)’s life – Happy Father’s Day to you!!! 

If you’re not, it’s never too late to start actively participating and being an integral and positive influence in your child(ren)’s life. Our collective future needs you to be a responsible, accountable and  good father so we have well adjusted young people who grow up to be well adjusted responsible adults.  As an adult you know that life can be difficult so why create unnecessary insecurities in your child’s life by being absent?  Why make your child(ren) a statistic?

As a candidate and now president, Barack Obama has been telling men what sort of father they should be. It has become his Father’s Day ritual. He’s asking  ALL American men to be better fathers than his own.

The president showcased fatherhood in a series of events and a magazine article in advance of Father’s Day this Sunday. He said he came to understand the importance of fatherhood from its absence in his childhood homes — an estimated 24 million Americans today are growing up without a dad!

Fathers run deep in the political culture as they do everywhere else, for better and worse. Michelle Obama has said many times how her late dad, Fraser, is her reference point and rock — she checks in with him, in her mind, routinely and at important moments. 

A Kenyan goat herder-turned-intellectual who clawed his way to scholarships and Harvard, Barack Hussein Obama Sr. left a family behind to get his schooling in the United States. He started another family here, then left his second wife and 2-year-old Barack Jr. to return to Africa with another woman.

His promise flamed out in Africa after stints working for an oil company and the government; he fell into drink and died in a car crash when his son was 21, a student at Columbia University.

“I don’t want to be the kind of father I had,” the president is quoted as telling a friend in a new book about him.

His sister, Maya, called his memoirs “part of the process of excavating his father.”

Obama now cajoles ALL men to be better fathers — not the kind who must be unearthed in the soul.

His finger-wagging is most pointed when addressing other black men, reflecting years of worry about the fabric of black families and single mothers, but it applies to everyone.

Father’s Day 2007: “Let’s admit to ourselves that there are a lot of men out there that need to stop acting like boys; who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise a child.”

Father’s Day 2008: “Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

Father’s Day 2009: “We need to step out of our own heads and tune in. We need to turn off the television and start talking with our kids, and listening to them, and understanding what’s going on in their lives.”

He doesn’t hold himself out as the ideal dad. No driven politician can.

“I know I have been an imperfect father,” he writes in Sunday’s Parade magazine. “I know I have made mistakes. I have lost count of all the times, over the years, when the demands of work have taken me from the duties of fatherhood.”

He volunteered for those demands, as all people do when they want power. His years as a community organizer, Illinois lawmaker, U.S. senator and presidential candidate often kept him apart from family.

At the same time, he went to great lengths in the 2008 campaign to find time with his girls and wife, and now considers the routine family time one of the joys of living and working in the White House.

The new book “Renegade” by Richard Wolffe recounts strains in the marriage early this decade, arising from his absences and from what Michelle Obama apparently considered his selfish careerism at the time. The author interviewed the Obamas, friends and associates.

Obama himself attributed his “fierce ambitions” to his dad while crediting his mother — a loving but frequently absent figure — with giving him the means to pursue them.

“Someone once said that every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes,” he once wrote, “and I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.” By malady, he meant the will to achieve.

Obama was a schoolboy in Hawaii when his father came back to visit. He gave his dad a tie. His father gave him a basketball and African figurines and came to his class to speak about Kenya. He was an impressive, mysterious figure whom Obama found compelling, volatile and vaguely threatening.

The visit took a sour turn when Obama went to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and his father made him shut off the TV, saying he watched too much. Obama slammed the bedroom door; a loud argument ensued among grown-ups.

Be present inyour child(ren)’s life. They need your time – now.

Happy Father’s Day to MY G-R-E-A-T Dad!

June 20, 2009

New Study – Homosexual Behavior Widespread In Animals

Dolphins The pairing of same sex couples had previously been observed in more than 1,000 species including penguins, dolphins and primates.

However, in the latest study the authors claim the phenomenon is not only widespread but part of a necessary biological adaptation for the survival of the species.

They found that on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, almost a third of the Laysan albatross (large seabirds) population is raised by pairs of two females because of the shortage of males. Through these ‘lesbian’ unions, Laysan albatross are flourishing. Their existence had been dwindling before the adaptation was noticed.

Other species form same-sex bonds for other reasons, they found. Dolphins have been known engage in same-sex interactions to facilitate group bonding while male-male pairings in locusts killed off the weaker males.

A pair of “gay” penguins recently hatched an egg at a German zoo after being given the egg that had been rejected by its biological parents by keepers.

Writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Dr. Nathan Bailey, an evolutionary biologist at California University, said previous studies have failed to consider the evolutionary consequences of homosexuality.

He said same homosexual behavior was often a product of natural selection to further the survival of the species.

Dr Bailey said: “It’s clear same-sex sexual behavior extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature – for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies.”

“Same-sex behaviors – courtship, mounting or parenting – are traits that may have been shaped by natural selection, a basic mechanism of evolution that occurs over successive generations,” he said.

“But our review of studies also suggests that these same-sex behaviors might act as selective forces in and of themselves.”

Original post:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5550488/Homosexual-behaviour-widespread-in-animals-according-to-new-study.html

June 18, 2009

President Obama Swats A Fly – It Makes The News Cycle and PETA Protests!

Fly 

Come on now news media!  How ridiculous is it that this is in the news cycle??? It is absurd, foolish, and ludicrous that this even made the news. Just plain dumb!

Once upon a time not so long ago when America had real journalists and we could depend on the news being newsworthy, this “fly-killing” would have be edited out so as not to embarrass the President of the United States whether he was a Democrat or a Republican.  It is preposterous that the news division of CNBC edited this into their broadcast to create news.  This is NOT news.  CNBC should be embarrassed that they no longer have a reputable news team and are depending on insects to create their lead story.  I am dumb founded!

It is even more ridiculous that PETA is protesting the “Killing of the Fly”.  They have just lost any creditability they had with me.  Flies are dirty, germ and disease carrying pests and they all need to be whacked! 

Flies are NASTY by nature and collect pathogens on their legs and mouths when females lay eggs on decomposing organic matter such as feces, garbage and animal corpses.  Houseflies carry diseases on their legs and the small hairs that cover their bodies. It takes only a matter of seconds for them to transfer these pathogens to food or touched surfaces. Diseases carried by houseflies include typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

I am happy to have a President who is a Ninja fly killer!  As a matter of fact, let he or she who has never swatted a fly cast the first rock — um — whack!

June 15, 2009

Is Dick Cheney Now Anti-American?

In an interview with Jane Mayer for The New Yorker magazine, CIA Director Leon Panetta generated some media attention for saying that “it’s almost as if he is wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

Cheney has repeatedly criticized the Obama Administration’s approach to terrorism and Panetta was responding to a speech the former vice president made at the American Enterprise Institute, where he accused the Administration of making the United States less safe for ordering the closure of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, halting enhanced interrogations of suspected terrorists and reversing other Bush administration initiatives he says helped to prevent attacks on the U.S.

Panetta’s exact statement was, “I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

Vice President Joe Biden was asked during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he agreed.  The VP said that “he wouldn’t question the motive behind Cheney’s criticism. He said, “I think Dick Cheney’s judgment about how to secure America is faulty. I think our judgment is correct.”

Complete New Yorker article:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/22/090622fa_fact_mayer

June 10, 2009

Palau Agrees To Accept Chinese Muslims Held At Guantanamo

Palau Island

President Barack Obama ordered that Guantanamo be shut down by January 2010. Since the order came down U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried has been leading the U.S. State Department’s efforts to resettle the Guantanamo detainees.

After months of negotiations, Palau President Johnson Toribiong said on Wednesday that his government would be “honored and proud” to take in the  17 Uighur Chinese Muslim prisoners who have been held for years at the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for suspected terrorist acts. The Bush administration refused to designate the Uighurs as “enemy combatants” but would not release them.  In late 2008 a U.S. federal judge ordered the men to be released into the United States. That ruling was eventually overturned by an appeals court.

Sandra Pierantozzi, Palau’s minister of state says her nation is glad to have the Uighurs. “If they want to settle in Palau we would welcome them,” Pierantozzi said. “This is very much in line with the culture of Palau, where people who drift in and who needs settlement and place are welcome to our shores and our tradition will take care of them and insert them into our society.

The Uighurs are from China’s western Xinjiang province and Beijing has accused the Uighurs — who dominate the province — as separatists who want to create an independent “East Turkestan.” The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia.

Washington is refusing to send the Uighurs back to China, fearing they would be persecuted.

Pierantozzi says her nation is not concerned over China’s likely displeasure over the resettlement of the Uighurs. “We continue to conduct business as usual, we are a free sovereign country, we are free to make decisions for us, as we believe and see for our benefit,” Pierantozzi said, “and also we are a small country but we are a part of the United Nations and the world community of nations, so we try to do our part.”

The Pacific island nation of Palau is located southeast of The Philippines, south of Guam and north of Indonesia.  Palau is a former U.S. trust territory who has been independent since 1994 and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, China’s longtime rival, rather than Beijing.

It has been reported that the Palau government agreed to accept $200 million in aid from the U.S. in exchange for accepting the Uighurs. 

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