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Vivir es Increible

team1
Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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The Radium Girls

Curie_and_radium_by_Castaigne

Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain

 

A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.

 

Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls

 

 

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Global Tentacles

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Giraffe Cave Art at the NamibRand Nature Reserve
Picture credit: Namibnat

 

At first glance this morning, this news appeared to be a positive move, made by someone who had their heart and their power, in the right place, and was a cause for tremendous joy.
But then after reading further and seeking secondary and other stories for reference, it seems that all is not as it appears.
Paul Allen, the Billionaire philanthropist, who is seemingly strongly supportive of protecting Endangered Wildlife, has several not so nice personal blemishes, that must also be considered before we proceed to give him his Best Global Humanitarian Award.
Mr. Allen has introduced a measure to get on the Fall Ballots in Washington State, that will put a hurting on those who use the World’s  most at risk wildlife to make a dirty income.
The measure, called Inititive 1401, has already reached, thanks to all of his volunteers in the field, the necessary number to get on to the Ballot in November.

This is a great thing.

What I am having trouble with, is the dark side of his company Vulcan and his sister Jody, who was the CEO, and has just stepped down after some very ugly issues about wildlife  poaching and sexual harassment were brought to light by accusers who work for Allen’s company.
I will not go fully into these things, as they are well presented in the links below.
What I am interested in pointing out here is this.
When very rich, very powerful people make the news and receive gushing accolades without the public or the press, doing more than just a little background digging into the facts, bad things can happen.
In this case, Allen, who has passionately promoted this initiative in Washington, to save and protect wildlife, seems awesome, but something here is not right, and  it all smells just a little rank, when you learn that he has regularly taken African Safaris and owns Tourist Lodges in Botswana.

Now add to this, the fact that his Company Vulcan,  formerly run by his sister, has been taken to court and accused of smuggling, poaching and more.
All too often, people like Allen and his sister, are unlike you and me, frequently kept safely in a cocoon, so that the scandals, or dirt runs off of them and does not stain their pristine, public images.
My concern and primary reason for writing about this today is, that it would be so much easier to believe Allen and all the others who claim to be truly concerned about the welfare of Endangered Wildlife, if there was not so damn much money involved in all of this.

If, as you do so passionately profess Mr. Allen, you truly do wish to protect Endangered African Wildlife, may I suggest that you dispose of your African Tourist Lodges and suspend your Safari trips?

It would be wonderful to see those with so much wealth, using it to personally educate and enlighten the rest of the world to what is happening to the precious few wild animals that we have left, before they are all gone.

We absolutely must take this message out to the schools, to the young, who will become our next generation of protectors.

Sadly, access to excessive money can turn even the best people’s heads the wrong way and there is just too much at stake here.

The treacherous arms of Global Smugglers and Wildlife Traffickers can have very long tentacles, some are even said to be attached to Global Mobsters, that just may reach into even safe corners, including those of the well protected, well insulated, excessively wealthy.

 

Places to learn more:

Washington Rare Species Trafficking Measure, Initiative 1401 (2015)

Global Efforts to Stop Illicit Wildlife Trade: Are They Enough?

China Promises an End to Its Ivory Trade, While Some U.S. Politicians Pander to Wildlife Traffickers

Paul Allen: Seeking unbroken tall bones?

Paul Allen’s sister steps away from managing $17 bln fortune

Seahawks owner Paul Allen, sister settle as bodyguards claim smuggling, bribery

War threatens existence of wildlife species in South Sudan

Washington State Initiative Aims to Protect Iconic Animals Threatened With Extinction

Paul Allen bankrolls initiative to ban rare-species trafficking

 

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Patron of the Oceans

Pugh with Tutu
Lewis Pugh with Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  September 15, 2010
Picture credit: Publicist

 

On GMHQ this morning Sam Champion interviewed a true Hero, one who is not just another wildlife activist.

He talked to Lewis Pugh, the renown swimmer, author, activist, public speaker, and former marine lawyer, from Plymouth, England, who has put his infamous speedos into water that few of us will never, thankfully have to endure, to save an endangered ecosystem and endangered Ocean wildlife.

Earlier this year, Lewis launched a five swim campaign in Antarctica for a cause near to many hearts, especially his!

Lewis is swimming in the Ross Sea, to shine a light on what Humans once again are doing to wildlife that is causing irreparable harm to those with no voice.

His dream is for the area to become a Marine Sanctuary.

Among the victims he is swimming to save and protect are: Whales, Squids, Seals and Emperor Penguins, none of which has numbers to brag about here right now.

As he so poignantly said during the interview, the affects over fishing, combined with climate change, in this unique place, is having a disastrous affect on a pristine ecosystem and those who inhabit it quite precariously.

Of course Sam is extremely close to this subject from his years on his own show Sea Rescue, and its extensive involvement in Marine life.

Pugh has a Facebook page, listed below and there have been countless interviews and stories about him, so getting to the heart of this story was quite easy.

Lewis is hoping to impact the members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources or, (CCAMLR) from its representative 24 countries.

Among the myriad of accolades and awards Pugh has been given, the one that I personally find most important was, when he was appointed the UNEP’s Patron of the Oceans in 2013.

 

Places to learn more:

Lewis on Facebook

Lewis Pugh Swims Antarctica’s Icy Ross Sea To Save Pristine Ecosystem

Ocean campaigner puts his body in ice to save a sea

Antarctica in a Speedo chilling for extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh

His Bio on Wikipedia

His personal web site: Lewis Pugh

Lewis Pugh: Swimmer has Ross Sea talks with Russia

Lewis Pugh’s Antarctic swim – in pictures

 

 

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Cheering for Brainy Beauties~

Gator_Cheerleaders
UF Cheerleaders     Picture credit: Norwalk James

 

Seeing a story on our news this morning about some pretty cheerleaders who both love and excel at science, made me smile, but it also brought back some not so pleasant childhood memories.

This cheerleading group has a website called,  Science Cheerleaders,  with all of the details of  their individual stories and shows what they are doing both on and off of the football field.

Besides being involved in science at school and in their jobs, this group also makes public appearances in their communities, showing other girls that they can do the exact same thing that they do.

They are beautiful and they are very smart, and this is a positive thing.

As a child and then again as a teenager, I and many others who had the good fortune, or misfortune, of being born blonde, were too often referred to as ” dumb blondes.”

The public and film personifications of Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe only cemented this thinking.

In my entire life, I could never understand how the color of your hair could affect the level of your intelligence.

I learned that I was not dumb quite early in my education, as my IQ was constantly referred to by teachers when they did not believe that I was trying hard enough.

Their remarks were both a source of embarrassment and humiliation.

As for the comments on the color of my hair, sometimes it was whispered, other times it was said as a jeer or a slur, but always it was the same, hurtful and cruel words, dumb blonde.”

My love of science began early in elementary school.

Could it have been the influence of my first science teacher Mr. Monroe, who made the subject both exciting and interesting?

I can still remember a teacher showing my mother the results from my  ” Kuder Preference Test. “

She seemed astonished when she said to her,

” she scored  2% on everything except one subject,  science and her score in it was 98%.”

Seeing these beautiful and brilliant high achievers who will be leading the cheers at today’s Super Bowl, was almost like a sweet vindication for me and all the others long ago, who endured years of insults because we had the misfortune of being pretty and liking science.

I admire and am extremely proud of these young women for the fields that they have chosen and the years of hard work behind them and also ahead of them.

Thankfully, it is a different world today and young girls and women are no longer treated as freaks for loving science, they are now, finally being admired for it.

Yes, I will being watching them with pride today and you can believe that I will be cheering for these brainy beauties~

 

Places to learn more:

Science Cheerleaders

Super Bowl cheerleaders pitch something really sexy: Ph.D.s

Will this cheerleader be the smartest person at the Super Bowl

 

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Keeping Them All Safe

Autism_spectrum_infinity_awareness
The Autism infinity symbol        Picture  credit:  Eric…

 

There have been so many stories on our news recently about people and children wandering away from their families and home, I felt obliged to write about them.

For years after moving here, I often was alarmed by the numbers of elderly persons we saw here in various stages of Dementia or even Alzheimer’s, who are still driving and out on our roads.

What are their families, their doctors and the state of Florida’s DMV thinking?

These people need to be off of the roads, before they kill themselves and/or others.

They are not safe to drive.

They are also not safe to be left alone in their homes without any supervision.

The story today was about an autistic young man who had recently done this and his mother Donna chose to bring his/their story to the press in the hopes that others might be learn from it and also be helped.

She makes some really important points, especially about the fact that drowning is frequently the primary cause of death in a wandering autistic person.

Donna can also expect to be engaged in a battle,  at least here in Florida, where our politicians are still dragging their feet to allow extremely ill children to have access to the already approved medical marijuana, under the Charlotte’s web provision.

This mother wants to speed up the political process (bill) now being considered for an electronic tracker that will locate him quickly, if and when he does wander away again.

My thinking as a former Rehab and Geriatric Nurse, as well as the mother of a physically challenged son, is that there are others with challenges who should also have access to some sort of tracker, not just autistic children.

Here in our own neighborhood, an elderly man wandered away from his home weeks ago and still has not been found.

Quite often, patients in Nursing and other types of care facilities, walk right out the doors, often, with no one even noticing.

Thankfully, most of them are found before they are harmed.

But if they had a tracker on, this would protect them and save the caregivers at the facilities hours of searching for them.

The tendency to wander away is quite strong in those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other affective disorders, especially those with Autism.

So as this bill is being reviewed, in my opinion, it must absolutely cover and include providing tracking devices to all who need and will benefit from them.

Those who care for persons with emotional and/or mental or physical challenges, are often suffering in silence and forgotten about.

This is a terrible tragedy in our society.

Being a caregiver can and does drain these people to the point in some instances, of doing unspeakable things, even murder.

Unless and until you have been in their shoes, you may never understand the despair, the fear, the grief, the hopelessness and the guilt that they deal with on a daily basis.

So, if there is even one thing that we, their families, friends, co-workers, care givers or government representatives can do to alleviate any of it, we should do it without a single moment of hesitation.

Special children and adults are part of our Global family, they belong to all of us.

We need to, we must do, everything that we can, to keep them ALL safe.

 

Places to learn more:

New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

Senator Calls On Feds To Address Autism Wandering

What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Autism

Dementia

Alzheimers

Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures

 

 

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Sí, se puede!

Habana_P3

Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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