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Teaching Convicts Code~

Sanquentinprison
San Quentin Prison in California
Picture credit: Coolcaesar

 

When this story came on our local news this morning, I was overjoyed.

As a former Rehab Nurse, in California, it has always been my hope that one day those who are incarcerated, would be taught a skill that would not only keep them from repeating the crimes that put them there in the first place, but one that would actually make them highly employable, sought after workers.

One of the most distressing things about crime, is that if you actually listen to the stories that we are inundated with daily about them, is that these people, are for the most part, nearly all repeat offenders.

One such story here yesterday was about a bank robber who had just been released from prison and immediately robbed a bank.
So, he was caught and is now awaiting trial, then it will most likely be, right back to jail for him.

But this new plan in California is happening in one of the most intimidating places where one could ever be incarcerated, San Quentin Prison, and it is for lack of a better word, a God send.

The idea of teaching prisoners about computers and code writing, was the brain child of a group called The Last Mile, who believe, as do many, that incarceration without reform, is useless and serves no purpose.

These very carefully chosen prisoners are not only learning a new skill that can stop this vicious cycle, but they may also be beginning a completely new life.

Once they have a highly sought after skill, they will probably not ever want, or need, to commit a crime again.

And isn’t that what prison should be about, for those who have not committed deadly or heinous crimes?

I hope that this new plan in California spreads like wild-fire across the country, even the world.

The primary reason that most discharged prisoners get out and then commit the same type of crime, is that many, if not most of them have few, or no employable skills and even less education.

This new plan in California, just could be the most important thing to ever happen in the criminal justice and prison systems, which many believe are in dire need of an overhaul.

Just imagine, prisoners serve their time, learn a desirable skill, get out and never return.

Do you have any idea the enormous cost of keeping people behind bars for years and years?

It is presently in California, more than six times the amount of money that is spent on the education of children.

For me, that is completely unconscionable and unacceptable.

Now, think of all of the benefits in this education for prisoners scenario.

So cheers to my former home state of California, which is, as usual, leading the way once again, by teaching code to convicts!

 

Places to learn more:

Prisoners Are Learning Computer Programming

The Last Mile

San Quentin State Prison

Inmates say learning life skills in prison has changed them

 

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Vivir es Increible

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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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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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Sí, se puede!

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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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Elevating Art in Atlanta

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Artwork: Brandon Collins
Picture credit: Brian Smith

 

This Press Release was received in my email this morning and because we may actually drive up for it, depending on Doctor Appointments that month, I thought that I would share it here in the Global Culture Blog.

This will be a really wonderful place and way to experience both the fantastic city of Atlanta, one of our very favorite cities and a Cultural Event that will probably be unlike anything that you have ever been to before~

Below is the Press Release, hope to see many of you up there in October.

We’ll be the ones being dragged around by an Airedale!

 

ELEVATE Invites Public To Explore A Social City With Arts Events From Oct 17-23

“This year’s ELEVATE contemporary art happenings in downtown Atlanta will be playful and interactive,” states Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“Our theme is ‘Social City’ and, with the help of more than 100 artists, we are creating an environment ripe for exploration, discovery and conversation.

You’ll have a chance to engage with living sculptures, interactive gadgetry, artist panels, portable art and dance performances, and quite a few surprises.

We’re throwing a huge art and music block party on Friday, October 17 and presenting events and exhibits daily all over downtown through Thursday, October 23.

All events are free and open to the public. Come get social with us!”

Here are just a few things you can experience during ELEVATE 2014:

Branden Collins will use ancient forms of masking and costuming from various cultures as reference points in his exhibit at Gallery 72. His artwork incorporates brilliant colors and tribal elements and encourages the viewer to come closer.

The Goat Farm, working with over 20 artists and designers, will transform ten dumpsters into built galleries, installations and sculptures.  Utilizing art, science, technology and micro-manufacturing they’ll create cozy, inviting spaces.

Among the galleries, located in hidden alleyways and nearby parks, visitors will discover a Secret Garden to make a wish or a Giant Synthesizer where they can make public music.

Strolling through downtown at lunchtime you may encounter La Passante.

These walking French parasols invite you to join them for an intimate poem and a brief respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, an unforgettable experience.

La Passante is co-sponsored by France Atlanta.

Joanie Le Mercier’s unique, light-based projection art will create optical illusions and “geometricize” areas of Atlanta’s urban landscape.  His works combines math with art and immerses the viewer in a journey that conjures space exploration.

Dance Truck will present dance and performance art, complete with lighting, music and all the trappings that you find on a traditional stage…in a most extraordinary mobile setting.

ELEVATE 2014 is being created with a wealth of talented artists and organizational collaboration.

Just to name a few: Casey Lynch, Dustin Chambers, Romy Maloon, Joanie Le Mercier, Jane Garver, Igor Korsunskiy, Kris Pilcher, Branden Collins, The Goat Farm, Mammal Gallery, Dance Truck, The French Consulate and Eyedrum.

Locations for this year’s ELEVATE are:
Woodruff Park, Gallery 72, Five Points Plaza and the Fairlie-Poplar District.

However, many exhibits will take place in unexpected, non-traditional locations around town and some art will be mobile.

Financial support for ELEVATE 2014 is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and FORD.

ELEVATE is a program of the City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

For more information,  visit their website:  http://www.elevateatlantaart.com/

and like them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ElevateAtlanta

 

Dog friendly places to stay and eat will be added here, as they are found, right up until the Event in October!

One place so far,  that has been confirmed as Dog Friendly,  is the Hotel Indigo, right downtown and across from the Fox Theatre.

More names to be here soon……..

 

As promised some updates.

 

Info on dog-friendly places in Atlanta:

http://atlantaeats.com/blog/pooch-friendly-patios/

http://www.bringfido.com/restaurant/city/atlanta_ga_us/

and here’s the Facebook page of Hotel Indigo:

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoATLMdtwn

 

 

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Winona LaDuke

winonababy
Winona LaDuke

 

For those of you who are not familiar with her, Winona LaDuke is the Executive Director of a group called Honor the Earth.

Last week they began a new campaign  called   “Love Water, Not Oil,”  that is vital, no critical,  to all Americans, not  just Native Americans.

What Fracking and Oil pipelines have done and will continue to do to the environment of this country, should be high on everybody’s agenda.

Once our water supplies and land are contaminated, it will take thousands of years to make them safe again.

Hopefully, you will keep this in mind, when you go to the polls to Vote this week and next:

” which candidates are supporting Fracking and Oil Pipelines and which ones are opposed to them? “

The condition of the water and land that you will  have this time next year depends on it.

Here is a brief Bio that I wrote about Winona several years ago.

She was and is,  an amazing woman, that I have the utmost respect for.

A side note that I find interesting about Winona, she and Robert Redford share the same birthday, August 18th!

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Winona LaDuke at Dream Reborn Conference  April 6, 2008
Picture credit: Eclectek

 

Winona LaDuke, who was born in 1959 and grew up in Los Angeles,  is Anishinabe/Anishinaabekwe – Ojibwe and an enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the Makwa Dodaem – Bear Clan of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Her father, an Ojibwe was a supporting actor in westerns as well as an Indian activist and her mother, a Russian Jew from New York, was an art professor.

As a teenager LaDuke addressed the United Nations on mining issues.

After graduating from Harvard in 1982, she took a position as the principal of the High School on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

LaDuke is a Program Director of the Honor the Earth Fund and works nationally to promote and assist Native Environmental groups.

She is a Founding Director for White Earth Land Recovery Project: a reservation-based non-profit organization focusing on land, cultural and environmental issues.

LaDuke co-chairs the Indigenous Women’s Network and is Program Director of the Environmental Program at the Seventh Generation Fund.

LaDuke ran with Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000 as his Vice-Presidential candidate for the Green Party and worked to increase Native American voter registration and activism.

She has written on environmental racism and is the author of several books including: Last Standing Woman and  All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life

LaDuke spoke at the International Women’s Conference in Beijing, China on August 31, 1995.

Read excerpts from her speech

LaDuke teaches courses on Native Environmentalism at the University of Minnesota and other colleges and has campaigned for the reduction of nuclear waste.

In 1994, she was named by Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age.

She currently lives with her two children on the White Earth Reservation.

 

Places to learn more:

Native Americans Launch ‘Love Water Not Oil’ Ride To Protest Fracking Pipeline

Winona LaDuke – Wikipedia

Honor the Earth Website

Winona’s Facebook Page

Love Water Not Oil

First Nation Ride For Mother Earth Forms Norwegian/Indian Alliance

An Interview with Winona LaDuke

Honor the Earth – Wikipedia

 

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Choices

Picture credit:    Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

 

Living in California for over 30 years,  allowed me to have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Not judging people by their Color, Race,  Ethnicity or Sexual Orientation,  is one of the things that I am most proud of about the Golden State.

But today all over America and  even many parts of the World, personal partner or marriage choices,  are getting harder and harder to make happen.

Right now, here in Florida and in many other US States, people are being told that they cannot, may not,  marry the person that they love.

It is against the LAW and if they try to do so, they will be breaking the LAW!

Our laws, religious groups  and society,  seem to have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to listen, or accept the idea,  that they could possibly be wrong on this issue.

As a side note, it is just a bit difficult to stay focused completely on the “issue of freedom of marriage choice”  in this state, because as of today, Florida unbelievably, STILL has not passed the ERA.

The mood, the discussions, the emotions,  right now in Florida are hot and only getting hotter.

Every region,  or part of this state,  now has a Judge who approves of these marriages, but as soon as they are approved, our State Attorney General,  jumps right in and smacks them down.

And the issue is once again, back to square one, or, one step forward, two steps back!

But I digress,  the Issue here, is about choices.

I myself, am not gay, lesbian,  bi-sexual, or transgender.

But I will defend to my death, the right for any who are,  to have the right to choose WHO they wish to spend the remainder of their life with in a permanent,  loving relationship, or what we call Marriage.

I am ashamed and disgusted by the behavior of those who call themselves Christians,  who proudly march and name call, any and all that they view are wrong to wish to be married in a different way than they are.

Who each of us chooses to marry, should be our choice and only our choice, not Religious Groups, not the State or the US Government.

No one should ever have the right, to tell another Human being,  who they can,  or cannot be married to.

We are all granted, by our Constitution, Civil Liberties.

This should be a personal choice between two  consenting adults, and not subject to discussion or interference, by anyone other than the two persons involved.

Personally I have had, over my lifetime of various careers,  in various states in this Country, many friends who are gay, or transgender.

These relationships were some that have left me with wonderful, lasting memories and the thought that our Country, our World still in the year 2014, intends to forbid, to shame,  to stop them, from making their personal partner choices, makes me sick.

With the level of tensions, troubles and REAL problems on this Planet, right now, wouldn’t you think that they might focus on some of them,  instead of trying to impose their will on the millions who only wish to have a legal marriage?

By the way, many of my Word Press Followers are included in this painful, ugly situation and my prayer is,  that they will find happiness and peace,  in a World that is blinded by prejudice.

We are all the children of one God,  or another,  and as for me, I personally believe,  that any loving God would wish to allow each of us the freedom of CHOICE.

 

 

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