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Tag Archives: People

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

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
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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Lost Among Us~

Mentalillness
Mental Illness
Picture credit: Chitrapa

 

Once again, splashed repeatedly all over every News Channel, is a story about a person with a mental illness, who has attacked innocent strangers in a public place and then lost their own life.

This latest tragedy was done by a homeless person who has been in and out of places where he should have been kept, safe.

Safe for him, safe for the rest of us.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should never have been released into an unsuspecting community, who could neither help, nor understand his pain and anguish, nor his propensity for uncontrollable or violent outbursts.

The last two places that I have lived, California and Connecticut, have for all intents and purposes, shut down and/or closed nearly all of their outpatient, or public mental facilities.

Access to good Psychiatric treatment has been greatly reduced around the Country, but for the indigent, it basically no longer exists.

Persons who are unable to cope, or deal with the everyday challenges of life outside of a safe facility, are now being put out onto the streets, where they have no clue as to what to do.

These mentally ill people are admitted, kept for a short time and then because of budget cuts across the United States, released back out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

This is difficult enough to do with normal brain function, but for one that is nearly incapacitated, or badly impaired, as well as homeless, they are left to just wander around among us, lost and not understanding what is happening to them, or why.

We have endless money to send a huge military force all over this planet and spend billions on War, and all that is connected to it, but when it comes to those who are poor or afflicted, we often show little compassion or concern.

We must take care of our sick and desperate people, or there will continue to be tragedies in Theatres and Schools and the Workplace.

These wretched souls quite often cannot ask for help, as many of them do not understand that they are ill.

What they need is care, medications, kindness and a safe place to live in.

At any given moment, ” There but for the Grace of God, go you or I.”

Any one of us could be just one devastating accident, illness or mugging away from an impaired mental state, or permanently diminished capacity.

We should know better and do better, for them, for us.

No one should be alone and lost among us.

 

Places to learn more:

 
Schizophrenia

Police: Assailant in latest movie theater attack was homeless, had psychological issues

Police Kill Suspect in Theater Attack in Nashville

Antioch Movie Theater Shooting in Nashville a ‘Suicide by Police’?

911 call describes Tennessee theater attack: ‘He pulled out a gun and we all ran’

 

 

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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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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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Can You See My Pain?

schizophrenia
How the world feels like with schizophrenia
Picture credit: Craig Finn

 

Watching the horrific story unfolding yesterday at FSU brought back memories, that I was sure had long ago been sent to an unretrievable place in my mind.

The young man who opened fire at the College Library had recently done some, according to neighbors, out of character, or extremely odd things, giving those near to him an insight, a clue as to what was coming.

But that only would have helped them help him, if they had been aware of the signs, or signals, that predict, or point to violent behavior.

If you have been here for a while, you know that many years ago, I was treatment Nurse in a California Rehab Center for four years.

It was the most rewarding, most fulfilling time of my life.

During those four years, some  of the 125 patients at the facility became close to me.

One in particular was especially dear and we had many memorable conversations.

This young man was a college student who had attempted to take his own life,  by jumping off of  the roof of a building at  the same school that my three children and I were attending at the time.

Although his effort to end his life failed, he was ultimately hospitalized and became one of my patients.

Over time, this sweet, soft-spoken boy/man learned to trust me and opened his heart and thoughts to me.

Some of the things that he said, were never really confirmed, Google and computers would be years away.

So, I had no real way to prove, or disprove, the explanations he gave for his past behavior that he shared with me.

On several occasions, he told me that the greatest time of risk for mental breakdowns, at least he believed for males, was during late puberty, around the ages of 18-20, which is when it happened to him.

He also said that those with higher IQ’s, who were under great pressure in College or other, with  little or no strong family support to absorb some of it,  were usually the most at risk.

The powerful surge of hormones, during this period of time, he explained could cause those with a propensity for mental, or emotional trouble,  to  ” go over the edge,” as he did.

I listened to him every day, telling his stories and sharing his thoughts, with no clue as to what was to come.

He seemed fairly well-adjusted to the facility at the time and seemed to function well and interact with others.

I had no way of knowing that what I saw was an act.

He was not truly adjusting to the environment and was apparently still extremely unhappy.

This sweet young man finally succeeded at ending his life.

I came in to work one morning and the reaction of the other staff, was the giveaway that something terrible had happened.

The Charge Nurse came to me and consoled me about what he had done.

Overnight, he, like Robin Williams had recently apparently done, hung himself with his belt.

I was completely overcome with grief because I felt guilty.

I had been close to him and failed to see what was going on.

To this day, I have never forgotten him or what he did..

Seeing the young man yesterday and what happened to him brought it all rushing back.

This young man who went on a shooting Rampage at FSU yesterday,  like my patient so long ago, apparently had much of the same conditions in his life as well.

Many of these shootings, or what appear to be random killings, are not being done by hardened, career, or violent criminals in  recent years.

Consider the Sandy Hook shootings.

They are being committed by troubled souls many of whom come from what seems to be good families without any financial troubles.

For me, one thing that they all seem to have in common, is that they needed to get to someone and they frequently do attempt to reach out, but in most cases,  too late.

If there is any lesson in these tragic stories that just keep repeating, it is that if we, that is you and me, don’t get involved when a little alarm or bell goes off in our heads, we must bear at least some part of the blame for what they ultimately do to themselves and others, for not speaking up,  or acting on it.

When my particular young man was sharing and baring his soul to me, I was quite new to the environment of a Mental Health Facility.

I spent the entire time in a room and they were brought to me for their treatments.

I was not expected to be involved in any other part of their care.

Had I had years of training, hopefully I would have picked up better on any clues that he may have been sharing with me and possibly have intervened or stopped him.

I will never really never  know if I could have or not.

But, what I do know,  is that he is always right here in my heart and I wish I could have done more.

Like the young man yesterday at FSU, I wish that someone could have reached him somehow and helped him.

Today, as you go through your normal daily routine, will you think of these young men and all of the others like them?

Every day, someone, somewhere, is asking for help and no one hears them.

They could be a neighbor,  a co-worker, a relative, a friend, or just an ordinary person that we see everyday and if you look into their eyes, perhaps you may see a clue.

I truly believe that they want us to know that they need help, but don’t always know how to say it, or ask for it.

We must all try to be better listeners.

They are speaking to us and asking:

Can you see my pain?

 

Places to learn more:

Reports on FSU Shooter Describe Sudden Mental Deterioration, No History of Violence

Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched 

Police: Gunman killed after shooting at FS

Officials reveal details about FSU gunman

Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor ‘in crisis’

Schizophrenia – Wikipedia

 

 

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Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

Abbott

Arnold Abbott: the Police and the Politics of public feeding.
Picture source: Unknown

 

At first glance this story appears to be just another case of politics bullying charity, but not so fast.

This story should have been written a few days ago, but it was not to be, as I was once again up in Gainesville getting my  melanomas tended to.

Now it’s back to work this morning…

If you have not heard of this man yet, you will.

His name is Arnold Abbott and he is a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless and hungry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arnold has for many years been feeding the homeless on the beach at Ft Lauderdale.

There are many who support him in his charitable endeavors, but as usual, there are also those who are very much opposed.

There are kind generous souls in many places around Florida and the Country,  who also do this, some make the news, others do not.

When too many complain, laws get passed and ordinances are put into place, to shut those who feed in public down, not just here, but  all over the country.

In the past ten years, the warmer states in America have been inundated with the poor and hungry.

And, as the economy went South, so did the homeless.

When providing food to those with none, there is always a risk of offending those who find it unpleasant, even dangerous to themselves, their families, or their businesses.

In the past in some places throughout the state, there have been reports, or incidents of public displays of indecency, or eliminating in public.

There have also been some petty crimes associated with these public feedings.

The list is long for each side.

The point is, there are simply not enough places to provide either shelter, or food for the current abundance of homeless here in Florida, which now ranks third in America, for numbers of  homeless, after New York and California.

The desperate come from all over the country to find relief here, knowing that for one, they will not freeze to death while being homeless and that there are more than just a few places to go to find protection from the situation they find themselves in.

When the two sides collide, as they are doing right now in Fort Lauderdale, is when the public out cries begin and many outsiders, along with the press, get involved.

Many people want the hungry to be fed inside, not out in the public view.

Does it make them uncomfortable in  this tourist rich state to see the plight of those with nothing?

Florida depends heavily on the lavish spending of rich visitors and if they are appalled or turned off by the sight of the poor and hungry being fed, it may hurt this state’s bottom line.

What is that old saying about  “walking a mile in my shoes?”

It only takes ONE big negative life impact to make any one of us homeless and hungry.

Which brings us to the story of Arnold Abbott and his mission in life and to honor his wife, of feeding the homeless and hungry of Fort Lauderdale.

He also works with and teaches the homeless and tries to help find them work.

Much to the great chagrin of city leaders and some businesses, this stubborn World War II Veteran is not going to back down.

As he said today, ” I have fought in the wars, and I know how to do this, I will not stop…..as long as there is breath in my body”

Arnold and his helpers, have been arrested, cited and fined for  “illegal actions on behalf of the hungry in Fort Lauderdale.

The Mayor of the city, Jack Seler, is in a tough place.

He must uphold the laws, to avoid an outbreak of charity feedings citywide, but he also does not like all of the really negative publicity the city is getting.

Being the focus of this heavy heat and intense scrutiny is not new for Arnold, who has fought against the city for more than twenty years to do what he considers God’s work.

Can anyone of us know with any real certainty, that there but for the Grace of God go we?

We must ask ourselves: Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

 

Places to learn more:

Arnold’s Group: Love thy neighbor

‘Chef Arnold,’ 90, Cited Again For Feeding Homeless In Florida

90-Year-Old Arrested For Feeding Homeless Will Continue ‘As Long As There Is Breath In My Body’

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

Arresting Arnold Abbott unconstitutional. He’s won in court 3 times, won 2 appeals.

Arnold Abbott keeps feeding the homeless: Charity or crime?

Arnold Abbott Re-Arrested 

Russell Brand: $4 Billion Spent on Elections, But Feeding the Homeless is Illegal

National Coalition for the Homeless

 

 

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