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Tag Archives: Global Culture

Changing Alaska

Denali_National_Park
Denali, the Great One!
Picture credit: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA

 

President Obama will be in Alaska today for an Arctic Global Climate Summit.

He is the first US President to visit the Arctic while still in office.

His primary objective is likely to shore up support for climate change programs.

But another more important reason is about a majestic mountain called McKinley.

Today it will officially become Denali and for many Alaskans, it is about time.

You see, the locals have already been calling it Denali since the 1970’s.

The bitter battle over this name change has been going on for many years, those who live in Ohio where President McKinley, for whom the mountain was originally named is from, do not want it changed, but the Alaskan Natives do and today, they will get their way!

Denali is the highest peak in the United States at just over 20,000 feet.

This name change is very personal for the thousands of Indigenous, or Native Alaskans, as it is their name for the mountain in their Native tongue and it means the Great One. “

A separate, but equally important ongoing issue here, is that many of the Indigenous or Native Alaskans in this area, are being forced out of their homes on Kivalina Island, due to recent climate change, namely glacial melting and rising seas.

These Native Alaskans have been desperately trying to save not only the land that they live on, but their Ancestral way of life as well.

Over the years, they have been severely impacted by the Global Warming that has decimated their hunting and fishing abilities.
It has also affected many wildlife species that have either completely disappeared, or been reduced beyond recovery and the situation is alarming to all.

Their culture is just about all that they have left right now and they are determined to protect it.

Global Warming, accompanied by the resultant glacial melting and rising seas, have caused them much pain and grief and given them much to fear for the future.

These people are not at all happy about the way that their Alaska is changing.

 

Places to learn more:

Denali – Wikipedia

Obama renames nation’s highest mountain

Sinking into the Sea

Global Warming

Impacts of global warming in Alaska

Meeting the Global Threat of Climate Change

Arctic Peoples and Ecosystems

Climate Impacts in Alaska

 

 

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Knowing the Klan

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Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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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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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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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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It Must Be Our Choice!

brittany
Brittany Maynard, an end-of-life choice advocate.
Picture credit: The Maynard family

 

On our news this morning was a story that needed to be shared.

As many of you by now know,  I am dealing with Cancer.

Mine is,  as far as I can see, likely under control.

The story this morning was about a very young girl,  whose was not.

She had stage four Brain Cancer and had been told by her doctor that she had six months to live.

This is news that no one her age should ever have to hear.

What she did after that point,  is why you must know about her.

Brittany Maynard lived in California and made the long trip to the state of Oregon to do, once again, what  no one her age should ever have to do, die.

California does not have the law that Oregon does called,  “Death with Dignity.”

In the interview this morning, Brittany expressed her feelings with enormous grace and courage.

Her strength in making this decision was way beyond her tender age.

I am not sure that in her position, I could have done it.

As a former Nurse in California,  I have cared for many Cancer patients and know the excruciating pain that they endure until they either recover,  or succumb to this ravaging disease.

My own mother in law passed away with the same disease, Brain Cancer.

She also did not live in a state with the law that Brittany used to choose her own path to dying.

My mother in law suffered terribly, had great pain and finally went into a coma from which she never recovered.

She lingered for a brief time and then she was gone.

Would she have, if allowed, have made the same choice that Brittany did?

We will never know.

When ever I spent time on the Oncology Ward, the sounds of pain were so very hard to hear.

Imagine how it must have been for those with the disease?

Someone who should know better,  this week told me that Cancer does not hurt.

I beg to differ with this person.

If it didn’t hurt,  why do nearly all of the patients in Oncology have Morphine drips?

But back to Brittany and her decision.

I may be in a minority here, what’s new, but my personal belief is that dying is each persons decision and no one should have the power to prevent,  or alter it.

Reaching the end of your life, whether as in Brittany’s case, or an elderly person who has had a long and full life, the decision as to when it should end,  should be theirs and theirs alone.

Anyone who disagrees with this,  needs to talk to those suffering with a terminal illness, or better yet, spend an hour or a day in an Oncology wing.

That should do it.

Dear Sweet beautiful Brittany, I did not know you, but I will support to my death,  your right to make that choice and you should not have had to,  in your time of suffering pain and illness,  have had to travel hundreds of miles away to another state,  to complete your final choice.

California and all states,  should recognize this situation and change it, now.

Every state in America needs to have a “Death with Dignity”  law.

I can nearly guarantee that it would happen instantly if and when,  any of those with the power to do it, had a beloved family member who was in Brittany’s  position.

America and  the world must admit that dying is extremely personal and how each of us does it, needs to be the patient’s choice.

We must each have the right to choose our own path to dying.

This is a Human Right and it MUST be our choice!

 

Places to learn more:

Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Brittany Maynard, terminally ill, takes own life

Brittany Maynard, 29-year-old right-to-die advocate with brain cancer, ends her life in Oregon

Brittany Maynard, advocate for ‘death with dignity,’ dies

Brittany Maynard – Wikipedia

The Brittany Maynard Fund

 

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Morgan Freeman, a Man For All Reasons and Seasons

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Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty
Picture credit: Still looking~

 

Seeing a story on the Weather Channel this morning about Morgan Freeman, was both a surprise, as well as a delightful joy.

It appeared to be mostly about his wide range of Humanitarian activism, but was also about the release of his newest film.

Dolphin Tale 2 is being released this week and Morgan is from the original cast and of course, returns as the kindly genius who created Winter’s artificial tail.

You see, Morgan Freeman is someone that I have deeply admired for many years and learning about all of his other passions today, only deepened that admiration.

It does not hurt that his calming, deep resonating voice is as smooth as melted butter.

Morgan who is 77 and lives primarily in Mississippi, does so much for many, it is hard to keep up.

I was not aware of some of his other environmental activities until seeing the story this morning on AMHQ.

Am I surprised?

No.

This quiet man of deep convictions, just goes about doing his job, giving unforgettable performances that will live in our memory banks forever:  Shawshank Redemption, Invictus,  Million Dollar Baby and  Seven.

Oh, this could go on forever….

Shawshank by the way, is still number one  on the IMDB all time favorite film list.

My favorite of his countless great roles, you may be shocked to learn, is when he has played God.

I would like to believe that God would be similar to the character that Freeman has portrayed of him and that he also has a wicked, or wry, sense of Humor.

It comes as little surprise, that just being an actor, is not quite enough to quench Freeman’s seemingly insatiable thirst for giving back.

To call him a world-class Humanitarian is a clear understatement of the man and his many missions.

Morgan’s opinion on Black History Month and Racism is commendable and well-known.

Freeman co-owns a Blues Club and as of this moment, is involved in all of these Organizations:

One Earth, Global Warming, The Grenada Relief Fund, Autism Speaks, Rebuilding Together and Oceana.

This multifaceted man who has meant so much, to so many, has achieved well deserved respect and admiration, that has grown exponentially over the years.

Morgan Freeman truly is a man for all reasons and seasons.

 

Places to learn more:

Morgan Freeman Bio – Wikipedia

Morgan Freeman’s Top 10 films

Morgan Freeman narrates new LGBT equality advertisement

Morgan Freeman on Ending Racism: ‘Stop Talking About It’

Morgan Freeman Global Warming PSA

Morgan Freeman fund for scholarships turns 15

Morgan Freeman proves he’s real-life action hero by landing malfunctioning plane 4 times

Morgan Freeman To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman to Receive an Honorary Degree from Boston University

Rebuilding Together PSA featuring Morgan Freeman

 

 

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