Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chile Earthquake Updates

By now we all know about the M 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile at 3 am local time this morning. I've been watching the story unfold both online and on TV since I woke up this morning .

I'm thinking about all the people affected by this and wondering what it is about earthquakes. I'm not the only one. The earth seems to be moving a lot these days.

As of now the death toll stands at 100 and is expected to rise and places in the Pacific from The USA west coast, to Hawaii and Samoa are bracing for a possible tsunami.

Where I'm Getting Updates

CNN is offering minute to minute updates on TV and at onlline. Also, on the CNN website, iReports are beginning to filter in from the quake area, from citizen journalists and offer a good view of what is going on on the ground for ordinary people.

There is streaming, real time video online here. It's in Spanish, but even if you can't follow the audio, the pictures are worth 1000 words.

The New York Times is practically live blogging on The Lede, which is offering frequent updates on the whole situation from all over. As always, it's a useful source of information.

Twitter is the way to stay really on top of things. Check out the hashtag #earthquake. It's hoppin

I'm just posting this quickly in an effort to share the sources I'm using to keep up with the quake. More later. If you have any sources to add, feel free to add them in the comments

Gotta go out and shovel my car out of yesterday's foot of snow. Hmmmm It's not nice to fool with mother nature. She doesn't really like it. I'm thinking the weather is getting really weird all

Update- Saturday night

The death toll has climbed to over 200 and will go higher The tsunamis never really materialized ( Thank God) and there's more good information onine. Huffington Post has added a great page of videos and live updates on the earthquake. Check it out here

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts on the Health Care Summit

I watched the health care summit today. It was fascinating. I couldn't tear myself away.

When I wasn't watching it on TV I was streaming it online and I must say it was nice to see Democrats and Republicans actually sitting around a table discussing the issues rather than yelling insults and spinning half truths at each other.

It was also refreshing to see the meeting led by a President who has not only mastered critical thinking, but who can also manage to string two declarative sentences together without tripping over his own tongue. Well, there I said it. I couldn't help thinking about George Bush. But that is the last thing I'll say about him.

Clearly, I am a Democrat. I'd be happy with a government- run, single- payer health care system, or what people are calling " Medicare for All." Since that isn't going to happen, I'll settle for the public option but we must do something. The current system is totally broken. The personal stories coming from both sides of the aisle were bone chilling.

I think the men and women sitting in that room, both Democrat and Republican felt a glimmer of hope. I know I did. For the first time I really understood the vast difference in the vision of Government held by Democrats and Republicans as the Republicans explained their position logically. Each side stopped the other from outrageous political grandstanding and they really got down to brass tacks. You could feel the mood change as both sides relaxed.

By the end of it, I, at least, felt that a workable compromise just might be possible. It felt good to see people listening to each other instead of hurling insults and it was amazing to watch the two sides gingerly admit they might have more in common than they thought they had. I was thrilled to watch the system move out of gridlock and begin to work.

I'm turning off the TV now and breathing a sigh of relief. Thank God we have an intelligent grown up in the White House who isn't afraid to take the initiative and actually lead. Hooray for the Health Care Summit. I think it just might lead to something good.

Helping Haiti for Real

From Rock Stars to the Red Cross the whole world seems to be collecting money and supplies to send to post earthquake Haiti. That's a good thing, but in the " teach a man to fish as opposed to giving him a fish" department, here's an even better thing.

Here's the deal. Haitian workers sew many of the garments sold in the United States. Those lucky enough to work at these sewing jobs work long hours for around $3.09 a day. Unemployment runs at about 80% in Haiti these days.

Recently, the Haitian legislature passed an act requiring that Haitian garment workers be paid $5.00 a day. What could be easier. More and more American manufacturers are sending garments to Haiti to be assembled. Names like Hanes and New Balance contribute to the $513 million worth of Haitian made apparel coming into the United States as the result of HOPEII, an act passed by Congress in 2008 which lets Haiti export textiles to the USA duty free for the next decade.

What could be easier than making sure that all Haitian workers in factories participating in HOPEII get $5.00 a day. Surely, companies like Hanes and New Balance can afford it and if not, I'd be willing to pay an extra dollar for socks and sneakers. Wouldn't you?

One of my favorite blogs, News Junkie Post ,recently addressed the issue of corporate responsibility in Haiti and offered this analysis

"Living in Haiti is not cheap and that is why the $3 a day figure it’s horrific. In Port-au-Prince a gallon of gasoline is $5 a gallon on a good day, $30 in a real bad one. The cost of a soda in Haiti is almost equal to the cost of a soda in the US. By earning $3.09 a day, people in Haiti can’t even give themselves the luxury of drinking a Pepsi, much less ever afford to buy a bicycle."

$5.00 a day isn't too much to ask and the difference it would make for Haiti's economy is incalculable. It's really very simple. Let's help Haiti not just for a day but for a lifetime by working to make sure Haitian garment workers get what's coming to them and boycotting American manufacturers who continue to exploit them.

source: Truthout

photo credit: Dolores Bernal News Junkie Post

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Quote

Sunday Quote from Dwight David Eisenhower

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." - General Dwight David Eisenhower

Could not have said it better. General -- later President-- Eisenhower knew all about war and hated it. For this Sunday, I had to share these words of wisdom from a great man.

Source: Civilian Military Intelligence Group

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sex, Lies, Ireland and The Vatican

The Vatican is at it again. Another sex scandal involving pedophile priests has surfaced, this time in Ireland. The Pope responded immediately by calling a big meeting of senior Irish clergy in Rome and writing a letter expressing shock, surprise, and a lot of blahblah blah. It's a replay of the response to similar scandals in the USA and Australia. It's what the Vatican always does when it gets caught. Mea Culpa and more of the same.

Let's get real folks. Horny priests have been molesting the choirboys since the Middle Ages and they aren't about to stop now. It shocked Martin Luther too. The Pope can repent all he wants to, and call all the meetings in the world, but it won't do any good until a truly corrupt sexual culture of mysogeny, homophobia, and homo-eroticism that is part and parcel of clerical celibacy is addressed.

The current scandal in Ireland is neither unexpected nor surprising. It is merely the latest expression of an old old problem. The Church's official attitudes towards sex are twisted to begin with. Sadly, they encourage young men of faith, frightened about their own proclivities, to enter a celibate clergy to avoid facing the problem. That is mistake number one.

So they are immersed in a skewed culture, out of the mainstream where they can tell themselves that what they are doing is OK. I have a friend who was molested by his parish priest starting at the age of 7. I'm not talking just a bit of groping here, although that would be bad enough. This went all the way to sodomy which, given the priest's position, carried the weight of incest. This pedophile priest managed to molest at least 25 boys in my friend's parish before being discovered and transferred by the bishop to a new parish, where he could start all over again. There are millions of stories like this all over the world.

I know that there are wonderful priests and religious who are true to their vows and who have embraced a life of giving that deserves respect, and I know that they too are being betrayed by their leaders and the sexual creeps among them. Time for this culture of secret perversion and corruption to see the light of day and be recognized for what it is.

The bottom line is that in Ireland, North America, Australia or Vatican City, secrets and lies are not only just plain wrong, they are evil and the antithesis of what the Church says it is about. Time to open the windows and let in the truth.

Time for the Vatican to stop writing letters and start cleaning house.

photo from

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One More for Haiti- We Are the World

We Are the World for Haiti is here. The video may be new, but the message is the same as it was 25 years ago when the original first alerted the world to famine in Africa.

It's an amazing, star studded reprise of the original. Have a listen-- This video rocks on so many levels

Download and donate here
Buy the song on iTunes or just text "world" to 50555 to donate $10.00 to Haiti relief.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Day of Mourning in Haiti

The government of Haiti has declared today, Friday, February 12th, an official day of mourning to mark the one month anniversary of the earthquake which ravaged this poorest of the Western Hemisphere's nations on January 12th. It is a largely symbolic gesture, but an important one nonetheless.

Close to a quarter of a million people are presumed dead. Survivors are still, one month later, struggling with impossible conditions as the beginning of the rainy season brings even more misery to the makeshift tent cities set up all around Port Au Prince. Yet the spirit of the Haitian people is amazing. Where there might have been anarchy and looting, there has been just the opposite-- an outpouring of national pride and a sense of kinship with each other that is downright amazing.

You Can Make A Difference

In spite of a massive international relief effort, help is still needed. You can show your solidarity and mark this national day of mourning too. With a couple of clicks of your mouse, you can make a donation that will make a difference. Here are the links:

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Your donation goes towards food, medicine and shelter for survivors plus most of your donation goes right to the people of Haiti. The website makes donating a breeze. Go ahead, click on the link.

Doctors Without Borders ( Medecins Sans Frontieres) has a one month update on their website so you can know what they have been doing in Haiti. Your donation will bring doctors and much needed medicine and medical services to the stricken area

American Red Cross More than three million people have texted $10. donations for Haiti. You can do the same by texting Haiti to 90999. Or go to and click on the " donate now" button. The red cross has the infrastucture to make things happen and these days, 90% or more of your donation goes directly to disaster relief and not to administrative costs.

There are many other good organizations working in Haiti. I have chosen these three because they are experienced, international and with no religious or political axes to grind. If you want to recommend any others, feel free to do so by leaving a comment to this post.

Let's all observe Haiti's day of mourning by giving our help in whatever way we can

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Keep Your Eye on Iran Tomorrow

Keep your eye on Iran this Thursday. Tomorrow, February 11th, marks the thirty first anniversary of the fall of the Shah in 1979, paving the way for the establishment of the Islamic Republic. It is also the day when Iran's Green protesters have called for tens of thousands to turn out in the streets all over the country to protest the current government and call for its overthrow. Sympathy protests are planned in cities around the world, organizers keeping in touch via cell phone and twitter. It is going to be a big deal.

Thursday in Iran will be bloody, no question about it. The Islamic Republic will come down hard once again on dissent. The protesters simply do not have the critical mass to unseat an entrenched, repressive theocracy, unless the military and paramilitary join them, which is not likely.

The Government, fighting for it's life, controls the army and the instruments of power and is not about to give up. After eight months, it looks like things are at a stalemate. But you never can tell.

The Iranian government continues to wave it's nuclear sabre at the rest of the world, unsettling the neighbors and angering the West. Its bellicose posturing is on the increase. Economic sanctions are almost inevitable. The Iranian people are not happy and they keep protesting. In spite of arrests, torture, assassination, beatings, and harassment, martyrs to the Green Revolution keep being made which fuels more protests and more martyrs. Momentum is surely building.

Keep your eye on Iran tomorrow and say a prayer for the protesters. It takes time and sacrifice, but in the end light will always triumph over darkness.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marriage as Child Abuse in Yemen

Yemeni Bride
Marriage customs in Yemen seem to be rather unusual. Evidently, marriage is not a union between man and woman in this poorest of the world's nations. Instead, it is a business transaction between men-- a form of slavery and child abuse where perverted potential husbands with a preference for sex with very young girls buy them from their fathers, like sheep or goats and then proceed to rape, beat and torture them.

According to a study done by the University of Saana in Yemen, over half of Yemeni brides are under fifteen years old. Many are no more than eleven or twelve years old.

If I sound angry about this, it is because I am. My stomach churns at the idea of a mature man raping a child and I do not understand how this can possibly be acceptable in any civilized society. but evidently it is the norm in some places, including Yemen.

According to Voice of America's News Service, legislation setting a minimum age for marriage at seventeen has been languishing in the country's parliament for over a year, blocked by several influential sheiks who contend that the proposed legislation violates Islamic law. Huh? Islamic law protects child molesters? What kind of law is that? Certainly such exploitation cannot be the will of God.

To sexualize such a young girl is to emotionally and spiritually cripple a young human being and destroy her potential forever. In addition, when girls become pregnant at eleven or twelve, their chances of dying in childbirth or delivering a stillborn are double those of a woman in her twenties. Moreover, it is next to impossible for a girl who is still a child herself to be an effective mother.

Click here to read a heart rending account of a Yemini child bride who sought and was granted a divorce from her 30 year old husband. You'll see why I am so angry.

I have a message for Yemeni men who want to buy themselves a ten year old girl. Buy a sheep or a camel instead. Leave the little girls alone and let them grow up to be real women and good wives for real men.