Friday, April 24, 2009

Arbor Day

I am outdoors today - busy hugging trees - I will write more on this topic later :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St. George's Day - Patron Saint of England

St. George Patron Saint of England

The legend of St. George slaying the dragon is reenacted at local
fairs on St. George's Day

Happy St. George's day to all of my English family and friends

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Holocaust Days of Remembrance - April 21–26, 2009

Remembrance obligates us not only to memorialize those 
who were killed in the Holocaust, but also to reflect on what 
could have been done to save them.

Those who survived tell us that as many faced their horrific deaths, their last words were "Remember us. Tell our story."

Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews in a systematic, persecution 
and extermination now known as the Holocaust.

Holocaust Days of Remembrance - April 21–26, 2009 

The Holocaust

Nazi Germany persecuted, incarcerated and murdered millions of its own citizens, and those of the countries it invaded, on the basis of skin color; disability; sexual orientation; ethnicity; religious belief or political affiliation.

In 1933, when the Nazis came to power in Germany, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. The Nazi campaign to exclude and persecute Jews, and others, as “life unworthy of life” began. By May 1945 close to two out of every three Jews in Europe had been murdered in the Holocaust.

Although Jews were the primary victims of Nazi racism, others targeted for death included upwards of two hundred thousand Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) and almost quarter of a million mentally or physically disabled people. As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, millions of people were persecuted and murdered. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, or maltreatment. The Nazis killed tens of thousands of Polish intellectual and religious leaders; deported millions of Polish and Soviet citizens for forced labor and persecuted and incarcerated gay men and lesbians.

Millions of lives were lost, or changed beyond recognition. The consequences of this loss and persecution are felt today by Holocaust survivors, their children and grand-children, around the world.

by Alexander Kimel- Holocaust Survivor.

Do I want to remember?
The peaceful ghetto, before the raid:
Children shaking like leaves in the wind.
Mothers searching for a piece of bread.
Shadows, on swollen legs, moving with fear.
No, I don't want to remember, but how can I forget?

Do I want to remember, the creation of hell?
The shouts of the Raiders, enjoying the hunt.
Cries of the wounded, begging for life.
Faces of mothers carved with pain.
Hiding Children, dripping with fear.
No, I don't want to remember, but how can I forget?

Do I want to remember, my fearful return?
Families vanished in the midst of the day.
The mass grave steaming with vapor of blood.
Mothers searching for children in vain.
The pain of the ghetto, cuts like a knife.
No, I don't want to remember, but how can I forget?

Do I want to remember, the wailing of the night?
The doors kicked ajar, ripped feathers floating the air.
The night scented with snow-melting blood.
While the compassionate moon, is showing the way.
For the faceless shadows, searching for kin.
No, I don't want to remember, but I cannot forget.

Do I want to remember this world upside down?
Where the departed are blessed with an instant death.
While the living condemned to a short wretched life,
And a long tortuous journey into unnamed place,
Converting Living Souls, into ashes and gas.
No. I Have to Remember and Never Let You Forget.


Survivors promised that they would tell their stories so that never again would the world stand silent or look the other way. 


If you witness an act of injustice - speak up -
 let people know that you do not agree. 
It takes courage to make a change in the world.
What you do (or don't do) matters.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blog Reader Appreciation Day - 2009

To the readers of my Blog

This is me, sitting in my chair composing random blogs to keep you entertained

I have just been informed that today is Blog Reader Appreciation Day .

Today is the day designated for Bloggers to thank their readers.

Who knew there was such a day? There is even a logo for it – see above.

It has been exactly three months since I became a blogger after receiving encouragement to do so from a good friend. Since that time I have been busy writing and I find that I am enjoying the process.

When I first started I was wondering what on earth I could write about – since then, and 103 blogs later, so many ideas fill my mind that I have a stack of posts waiting to be released.

I am writing to thank my readers but to be honest I don’t really know who my readers are. Over the weeks I have forwarded various messages to my family and friends, some of whom have given me feedback.

I seldom get ‘comments’ and when I do most are posted by ‘anonymous.’ However, the statcounter lets me know how many people log on and that number is definitely increasing daily. But it doesn’t tell me more than that.

Where are those ‘Nielson’ ratings when you want them? Come to think of it do you know anyone who was ever asked to be in an opinion poll – are those numbers or percentages real? I have always had my doubts.

One of the things that I really like about blogging is that I am my own editor, :-) but , that can have a downside, because, even though I do my best to write information that is accurate and current I may be overlooking something. So to my readers I am requesting that you let me know if, for example, there is a typo, or misleading information in the article. (Please be gentle in your remarks) :-)

Better still, let me know if you read the blog and how did you find it? I am so new I haven’t figured that out yet. Where do the readers come from?

So now I am done rambling and I want to be serious for a moment and give a formal thank-you to the readers of my blog. Only you know who you are.

If you wish leave a 'comment' so that I know that you are out there or send me

Seriously, thank-you very much for signing in.
This flower is especially for you on this, your special day!

from peacesojourner

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pentagon Lets Media See Return of US War Dead

USAF Staff Sergeant Phillip Myers is awarded the Bronze Star
 on March 19, 2008

 The casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers, of Hopewell, Va., 
who was killed Afghanistan on April 4, 2009
He is the first casualty to be observed arriving at Dover 
since the ban 18 years ago. 
AP photos/Evan Vucci

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer – Mon Apr 6, 7:42 am ET

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – The Pentagon's 18-year ban on media covering the return of fallen U.S. service members ended with a solemn ceremony for the arrival of a flag-draped casket of an airman felled in Afghanistan.

After receiving permission from family members, the military opened Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to the media Sunday night for the return of the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va.

The 30-year-old airman was killed April 4, near Helmand province, Afghanistan, when he was hit with an improvised explosive device, the Department of Defense said.

Myers' family was the first to be asked under a new Pentagon policy whether it wished to have media coverage of the arrival of a loved one at the Dover base mortuary, the entry point for service personnel killed overseas. The family agreed, but declined to be interviewed or photographed.

On a cool, clear night under the yellowish haze of floodlights on the tarmac, an eight-member team wearing white gloves and camouflage battle fatigues carried Myers' body off of a military contract Boeing 747 that touched down at 9:19 p.m. after a flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Myers' widow and other family members, along with about two dozen members of the media, attended the solemn ceremony, which took about 20 minutes and was punctuated only by clicking of camera shutters and the barked salute orders of Col. Dave Horton, operations group commander of Dover's 436th Airlift Wing.
Horton presided over the ceremony along with Air Force civil engineer Maj. Gen. Del Eulberg and Maj. Klavens Noel, a mortuary chaplain.

Noel and the other officers boarded the plane for a brief prayer before an automatic loader slowly lowered the flag-draped transfer case bearing Myers' body about 20 feet to the tarmac, where the eight-member team slowly carried it to a white-paneled truck.

Preceded by a security vehicle with flashing blue and red lights, the truck then slowly made its way to the base mortuary, where Myers' body was to be processed for return to his family.
Myers was a member of the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron with the Royal Air Force in Lakenheath, England, one of the bases the U.S. Air Force uses in the country. He was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery last year in recognition of his efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Department of Defense said.

Myers' widow flew from England to attend the arrival of his body to the U.S., which marked the first time since 1991 that members of media were allowed to witness the return of a combat casualty to Dover.

The ban was put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, at the time of the Persian Gulf War. From the start, it was cast as a way to shield grieving families. But critics argued the government was trying to hide the human cost of war. President Barack Obama had asked for a review of the ban, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the blanket restriction made him uncomfortable.

Under the new policy, families of fallen servicemen will decide whether to allow media coverage of their return. If several bodies arrive on the same flight, news coverage will be allowed only for those whose families have given permission.

There have been some exceptions since 1991, most notably in 1996 when President Bill Clinton attended the arrival of the remains of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 32 others killed in a plane crash in Croatia. In 2000, the Pentagon distributed photographs of the arrival of remains of those killed in the bombing of the USS Cole and in 2001, the Air Force distributed a photograph of the remains of a victim of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

One objection to lifting the ban had been that if the media were present, some families might feel obligated to come to Dover for the brief, solemn ritual in which honor guards carry the caskets off a plane. Few families now choose to attend, in part because doing so means leaving home and the support system of friends at a difficult time. The sudden trip can also be expensive and logistically difficult, though the military provides transportation for up to three members to greet their service members at Dover.

This AP article was released on April 6, 2009. Finally, the military members who have been killed in war will not have to be returned home under the cover of darkness.

It is a small victory to those who have been protesting the practice of not allowing the photos to be released. This article indicates that the men and women will be greeted with a dignified ceremony as their bodies arrive back in the United States. 

This week the total of US military war dead is 4,271 in Iraq and
677  in Afghanistan.

My prayers go out to the families of  SSgt Myers and all of the 
fallen warriors at this tragic time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brother to Brother

President Obama entering the Prime Minister's home at 
10 Downing Street, London. 

You won't see this photo on CNN. Everyone is too busy showing the Queen being touched. This was a moment of "touching" that won't be forgotten by this bobby.

"This is the most powerful photo in the recent series. Remember they are not supposed to shake hands, but the two brothers couldn't resist the historic moment. The black royal cop never imagined in his wildest dream that he would usher a black American president into the British corridors of power. Nice!"


I received this candid photo and message, via e-mail, from a good friend 
Jackie, in Massachusetts.

Thought you might like to see it also.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just What is the G-20 and What Do They Do?

The G-20 (more formally, the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors) is a group from 20 economies: 19 of the world's largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU).

The G-20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion among key industrial and emerging market countries of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States
Plus the European Union

Also attending :
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is an international organization that oversees the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, in particular those with an impact on exchange rates and the balance of payments. It is an organization formed to stabilize international exchange rates and facilitate development. It also offers financial and technical assistance to its members, making it an international lender of last resort. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., USA.

Also, The World Bank which is an international financial institution that provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries for development programs (e.g. bridges, roads, schools, etc.) with the stated goal of reducing poverty

The G-20 accounts for 60% of the world's population, 70% of its farmers and 26% of world’s agricultural exports.

Its origins date back to June 2003, when foreign ministers from Brazil, India and South Africa signed a declaration known as the Brasilia Declaration in which they stated that ‘major trading partners are still moved by protectionist concerns in their countries’ less competitive sectors and emphasized how important it is that the results of the current round of trade negotiations provide especially for the reversal of protectionist policies and trade-distorting practices.

Nonetheless, the ‘official’ appearance of the G-20 occurred as a response to a text released on 13 August 2003 by the European Communities (EC) and the United States with a common proposal on agriculture for the Cancún Ministerial. On 20 August 2003 a document signed by twenty countries and re-issued as a Cancún Ministerial document on 4 September proposed an alternative framework to that of the EC and the United States on agriculture for the Cancún Meeting. This document marked the establishment of the G-20. The original group of signatories of the 20 August 2003 document went through many changes, being known as such different names as the G-21 or the G-22. The title G-20 was finally chosen, in honor of the date of the group's establishment.

Since its creation, the group has had a fluctuating membership. Previous members have included: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, and Turkey. The core leadership of the G-20, known as the G4 bloc, consists of Brazil, China, India, and South Africa.

The G-20 operates without a permanent secretariat or staff. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group's work and organizes its meetings.

The G-20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G-20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.

The G-20 has progressed a range of issues including agreement about policies for growth, reducing abuse of the financial system, dealing with financial crises and combating terrorist financing. The G-20 also aims to foster the adoption of internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

I am writing this article because I did not know much about the G-20 and decided to try to learn more. The information above came from various sites on the Internet and I cannot confirm the accuracy.

In London, at the G-20 summit, it was reported that the world's largest economies pledged $1.1 trillion to help boost capital to the International Monetary Fund. This in the same week when the stock market showed glimmers of hope.

It was also reported that developed countries differ in how they think their economies can be revived, while developing countries want an increased role in the decision-making process. I came across a website that I found interesting. Click ahead to see where each of the G20 members stand.

Are they effective? I am not sure. What I do know is, that anytime a diverse group of people sit together around a table in an effort of communication some other things usually start to happen. These include an increased education and understanding of each other’s cultures and history. For this reason alone I am glad that they held the conference.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Can We Talk? - re: Michelle Obama

I feel compelled to write in protest of the media portrayal 
of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Last week it was her bare arms, this week it is her ‘over-ambitious agenda’. What is next? 
Who was Michelle Obama before most of us had even heard of her? 

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) was born on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Marian Shields Robinson, a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. Her mother stayed at home until Michelle entered high school. Michelle can trace her roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South; her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave in South Carolina, where some of her family still resides. 

Here is her resume:
- High school honor roll four years /National Honor Society
- High School graduation -  Salutatorian
- Attended Princeton University - graduated cum laude.
- Obtained her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School.
- Associate in a Chicago law firm where she first met her husband.
- Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago.
- Assistant Commissioner of Chicago Planning and Development.
- Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies.
- University of Chicago Hospitals - Executive Director for community affairs.
- Vice President for Community and External Affairs.

As Joan Rivers has often said: "Can we talk?

Michelle Obama is an intelligent, thoughtful and caring woman. She and her husband are modern day, young upward-bound professional people (yuppies). They are both type ‘A’ personalities and (I am guessing) that they make daily ‘lists’ of things to do. They are definitely not 'stay at home' type of people.

During the past month she has traveled to North Carolina to rally military families. Stood with Hillary Clinton to encourage women to get politically active. Shown up at a home-building site on the National Mall. Served meals to the homeless at a local food pantry. Visited a D.C. school to talk to the students about good grades, and she capped it off by shoveling dirt for an “organic kitchen garden” at the White House.

She has become the spokeswoman for fitness, health, parenting, the environment, women’s rights, and promoting self-esteem for young girls. These are all her genuine concerns. She is used to working hard and now she has some spare time she is placing herself firmly in the field of service to others.

Some (news media & critics) wonder if she’s spreading herself too thin.

For some, Michelle’s multi-tasking approach to the job raises questions. Her actions reflect her many interests. Some of the activities have come to her just by being first lady.  The public attention to her fashions, magazines cover stories of her whether she sat for an interview or not. She did the VOGUE cover, for instance, because it gave her daughters and other young girls a chance to see an accomplished African-American woman on the cover of a mainstream magazine, a rarity.

Michelle’s has chosen projects in which her interests run the deepest.  Clearly she is connecting with the public on some level — polls show her favorability ratings in the mid-60s. She is like an ambassador of friendliness and good will, and it is working well.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also criticized for being too visible when she visited the military. She was an advocate against racism and campaigned for women’s rights. Also known for her hospitality,  she started a ’victory garden’ on the lawns of the White House and  stood up and advocated for the disenfranchised at home and abroad. Mrs. Roosevelt is still remembered as one of the most admired women in U.S. history. 

Michelle is a woman of our time who has a  relaxed easy charm  who is well received wherever she goes. 

About those ‘bare arms’ – was she showing too much cleavage? No. 
Were her hemlines too short and revealing her thighs? No. She was showing her arms.
When did that become an upsetting action? Not to mention how ridiculous the criticism is when Michelle, (who goes to the gym daily) happens to have very attractive arms, so why not show them off?

Michelle Obama is a smart, high-energy person, typical of many professional women who are juggling motherhood, work, exercise, and taking time to read an occasional book. As First Lady she has become a role model and, in my opinion, she is doing a great job. She also has one of my favorite qualities in a person, a great sense of humor.  

As I write this today, Michelle Obama is in England , and has  been invited to have  tea and cucumber sandwiches with Queen Elizabeth II. The U.S. media is waiting with bated breath. Is their major focus on the G-20 talks? No, their question is,  'Will Michelle bare her arms when she visits the Queen?' - You can't make this stuff up, can
 you?  :-) 

Newsflash! I just saw the visit on the news, what a relief, Michelle's  sleeves went to her elbows (obviously a compromise). We can all go to sleep tonight knowing that she didn't offend the Queen or embarrass the U.S.A. 

Word to the media, "keep your mean spirited criticisms 
to yourselves and leave her alone." 

To Michelle Obama. "You go girl!"