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Archive for the ‘Recent News’ Category

would we have seen more news coverage? In and among sports updates, weather reports and other usual news on any given day, was 15 seconds (or so it seemed) enough for what appeared to be a pretty sophisticated bomb found in a backpack along a Martin Luther King parade route in Spokane Washington? I almost didn’t catch it and waited for further information, but none appeared during that particular news hour.

Searching the internet, I found several stories including this brief on Reuters.  I wondered at the seemingly lack of news coverage. Was it because it was in Spokane and not New York city? Was it the fact it was found along a parade route honoring Martin Luther King and not, dare I say, Ronald Reagan or the allegedly soon to be sainted Pope?

This morning I found I wasn’t alone in my questioning. The Maddox Blog had a post, “The mystery of the Spokane bomb.” I was glad to see it, but honestly, it made me angrier that my unease of “lack of coverage” seemed to be validated.  As one of the commenters to a news story said (and quoted in the Maddox blog post), ” I personally think that to be just a LITTLE more newsworthy than Sarah Palin trying to paint herself as the true victim of Tucson.”

Could you find an act more of hatred and racism than placing a bomb along a Martin Luther King parade route on a day honoring his work and philosophy? Could you not have paid this domestic act of terrorism the same attention as you did the football games? Oh wait, maybe if the bomb had gone off…

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I have to admit, more often than not I am critical of our government system, of the political infighting, of the motive for power or money that seems to drive those within the Beltway, of the inflammatory rhetoric you often hear in politicians’ rants. Every so often something makes me stop and realize how proud I am to be a part of this nation and tonight was one of those moments.

President Obama has just finished his memorial speech in Tucson. I found myself applauding and rising to give him a standing ovation along with all of the others in the audience. I found tears in my eyes at his descriptions of those that died, of those that were injured, of those that rose above themselves to be heroes.

I wrote an earlier blog, “Reactions to Tucson” for AAUW covering my initial reactions to the events in Tucson that found Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot along with 19 others, six who died. Now I find myself compelled to write again — not about the violence of the action, of the issue of gun control or politicians finding themselves needing to blame whomever, but of our President whose speech I think I will print and post somewhere to keep me reminded that a positive attitude, an inspirational message is better than all the excuses or anger put together.

The New York Times has posted the entire text of the speech, take a moment to read it or see a YouTube version once it’s up. Think I’ll just list some of those comments that hit home with me.  Thank you, Mr.  President:

“Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.”

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.”

“I want us to live up to her (Christina Green) expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “…in the Beltway” when someone is describing their love/hate relationship with those in Washington DC, especially politicians. Usually, these days, it’s said with mixed feelings or unadulterated (is that a word?) hatred.

I’m definitely an “outsider” as I’m not a politician and my thoughts of Congress, especially with the “new Congress” about to begin, is not so much centered around hatred as it is disappointment, fear and sometimes a faint sense of hope when certain bills get passed that may actually help the American people.

And yet I am a Washingtonian, one of the few born there and although I have lived far and wide since my birth, I have returned like a homing pigeon to my roots. I returned when Bush 2 controlled the Beltway and I couldn’t figure out why people weren’t truly frightened of him and what he represented to the common folk in our country. I still don’t understand to be honest, especially as the repercussions of his actions on behalf of big corporations and his own ego (militarily) are never more evident than they are now. And yet the current head of the “Beltway”, President Obama, appears to be getting the blame for actions taken long before he was on the ballot.

Now it’s my turn to watch with bated breath as Obama faces the second half of his first term. He made amazing gains and some incredible mistakes during his first two years, but I truly believe he does have the American people (as in all the people, not just the wealthy) in mind as he decides his course of action. He faces a strong opponent (as in the Republican party) and will probably make compromises that will hurt those of us with equality in our hearts. Here’s hoping he receives timely and wise advice when needed.

Meanwhile, my focus “in the Beltway” will be in trying to determine what the truth actually is. Factcheck.org helps, especially when any politician of any party quotes statistics or says something is “proven”. Reading blog posts, such as Nicholas Kristof’s recent “Equality, a True Soul Food”  http://nyti.ms/dLr8HU will help keep me focused and yes, I’ll even try to be open-minded to the new Congress…

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I’m one of those who answers “dog person” whenever the question comes up as to favorite pets. I’ve grown up with them and my latest, Sadie, was a combo Basset Hound – Australian Sheppard mix. I would get lots of comments about her appearance especially after she lost one eye to glaucoma. Once we even passed a gentleman who had an eye-patch and when he saw Sadie, lifted said patch and popped out his fake eye.  Not only was I speechless, but so too was the young woman on his arm, who I forever wondered if she stayed with him or not.

My soon to be sister-in-law brought two Alaskan Malamutes to the marriage and thus began my introduction to the wolf side of the dog species. These two, Havoc and Elke, were definitely hunters, Elke in particular was the silent but deadly type. With Sadie in tow, I remember the occasional evening barbecue that somehow included howling to the moon, a most impressive sound with wolves (in essence) and one basset hound. I’m sure the neighbors loved us.

All of those particular family pets have since passed on, but their memory lives on. When I ran across this little story in the paper this morning, I couldn’t resist sending it to my brother and sister-in-law and suggested they change their summer vacation plans of France to the possibility presented here. No, I haven’t heard back yet as to whether they will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity… 🙂

Washington Post Express: Nature   Join the Pack

 
A project involving conservationists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists is looking for a few dozen people willing to howl like wolves in Maine’s North Woods. The Wolf Inquiry Project plans to conduct “howling surveys” in several areas this summer in hopes of discovering whether wolves are resettling in  Maine. The Bangor Daily News reported that coordinators are seeking individuals willing to spend a night howling in the woods and who won’t be scared off if they get a response from the wolves.

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I spent an unexpected amount of time this weekend watching Drew and John use newly designed tools to fix a broken object. From that description, sounds like I was watching a weekly PBS or cable show on home repair with a couple of hardware handymen. Nope. I was watching Astronaut/Astrophysicst John Grunsfeld and Astronaut Drew Feustel up in space giving the Hubble Space Telescope a tune-up. And if you access this blog post this Monday morning (5/18), click here to also watch the folks in space walk around your world, it’s awesome!!

One of my twitters from Saturday:

@christytj Astronaut John with red strip on back designating “free floater, wiggling his toes, 350 miles above Queensland Australia #nasa.

And a twitter from Astronaut Mike Massimino just a few minutes ago (Monday morning 5/18).

@Astro_Mike From orbit: At the end of my spacewalk, I had time to just look at the Earth, the most awesome sight my eyes have seen, indescribable.

Don’t let us forget Astronaut Megan McArthur, the women the other men constantly refer to in their space conversations. Why? She is operating the robotic arm that either holds them, their equipment or other important objects. Competent and invaluable it appears.

Either by watching them work in space, following their twitters, reading stories in your local paper or via the regular tv shows, take a moment and follow what’s happening in space. It is amazing. One last point, an answer to that often unspoken question, “Ever wonder how astronauts pee in space?

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The latest headlines, “Recession Hits Social Security Hard,” are just that, the latest headlines. We’ve all been reading for years of the trouble Social Security and Medicare are facing and that long term solutions should “start now”. I was in my twenty’s the first time I read about this – I only remember because I laughed, with a Murphy’s Law cynicism, the news predicted at that time it would run out the same year I turned 65.

I’m not laughing now. Since then I’ve learned that women only make 78 cents to the dollar a man makes and one of the biggest area that impacts women is their retirement years. It used to be thought (and still is depending upon whom you talk with), “that’s ok, a woman will live off her husband’s pension anyway.”  Given the current economy, one feels like asking, “what pension?” And if a woman is single, unless she started (or starts) financial planning early, well, let’s just say, YIKES!

So when years later, I hear that Social Security and its companion, Medicare, are in trouble, I hope that this time someone will listen. The fact that the recession has only added to its woes compounds the bigger issue of preparedness. And the impact on women extends to their families, for obvious reasons.

For decades, the government seems to have been ignoring its own warning signs. Just as equally, people haven’t been preparing enough. I hope the current government in Washington has the ability to not just put a band-aide on the wound, but to gather our community focus – government, corporations, small businesses, everyone of us – on solving the real issues now, for my future, for your future and for the next generations to come.

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Isn’t that a headline that makes us all look back into our own families and wonder if it happened to us or at the very least to one of our siblings? It was only after years of rumors and a DNA test that Kay Rene Reed Qualls and DeeAnn Angell Shafer of Heppner Oregon found out they had been switched at birth by accident, back in 1953.

I had to agree with what Shafer reportedly said, “”I’m trying to move forward at look at the positive. You can’t look back. It just drives you crazy.” Can you imagine? Everything you thought about your family history has now changed when you are no longer a blood relative – and yet, not changed since your history is also their family history now too.

Over my lifetime, I’ve had many numerous discussions of being “switched at birth” with friends as we diagnosed various members of our respective families and thought there was no way we could be related. This at times led to interesting insight from friends who were adopted, however, they considered themselves the “chosen” one rather than the outsider. To find out you were switched at birth for real?! I did read the hospital in question, Pioneer Memorial in Eastern Oregon, offered to pay for counseling. I have to wonder if either or both ladies in question (or their families) will look for other means of retribution, but somehow doubt it.

Is it a blood connection that makes a family really? Genetics do come into play for medical reasons, more so as science and technology continue to advance and we can become more proactive (if we can afford to, but that’s another blog post).  But I can think of non-blood “relatives” who I consider just as close as my real family. Not just spouses or partners but friends who act more like family than family. It’s the connectivity people have, the caring for each other, the sense of community they build, the support they provide that make up a “family”.  It sounds like once the shock of discovery wore off, the “switched at birth” ladies now consider themselves “sisters.” And that’s not a bad thing.

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