Who am I?Where am I?

31 August 2009

Russian Racism

This just blew my mind. I was watching the BBC earlier this afternoon when I saw a report on racism in Russia. The story led off with the candidacy of an African immigrant who is running for political office. This was followed up with an astounding statistic.

According to the BBC, 60% of all Africans living in Moscow have been attacked in racially motivated attacks. SIXTY PERCENT! These are figures that would make the Ku Klux Klan proud. The Klan did not pull that off that kind of statistic in their heyday in the United States.

This statistic is absolutely mind-boggling. There are at least 10,000 African immigrants living in Moscow. Thus, if this is accurate, then approximately 6,000 have been assaulted. So much for the socialist spirit that permeated Russia during the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. To be honest, this story gives me the megrims. There goes my desire to see and explore the capital city of Russia!

For the entire story, check out BBC


28 August 2009

Today's Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us

So one of my former students sent me a message about this website that creates diapers...

...for chickens. That's right folks, chicken diapers. If you ever wanted to have ch
ickens running around your house laying eggs and are tired of the chickens defecating on your carpet, then this website is definitely for you! If you have never had this desire, please disregard this post


Kiva Loan

Hi Blog Readers!

I just made a loan to someone in Uganda using a revolutionary new website called Kiva. You can find the link under causes I support.

You can go to Kiva's website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business - like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent - and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.

The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back - and Kiva's loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Isiah Kakuba's Group in Uganda. They still need another $700.00 to complete their loan request of $4,750.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!). Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link to make a loan to Isiah Kakuba's Group too!

It's finally easy to actually do something about poverty - using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they're using it for. And most of all, I know that I'm helping them build a sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world - one loan at a time.


Nomadic Richard


27 August 2009

Dream Chaser

I just read this article and started sobbing. This love story is very moving and deserves to be shared. I have posted the first two paragraphs of the article but in the interest of giving full credit to the author and the site, I have posted the link below. Enjoy!

Nomadic Richard

Dreams were her gift. Every morning, she'd wake up and tell her husband, Al, how she'd dreamed about angels or daughters or catastrophe. Good or bad, she'd always wake up with a story to tell -- until the day she never woke up at all.

Al never had that gift. His dreams were vague, or they'd escape him 20 seconds into his day. He had nothing to jot down like she did, nothing to file away for a conversation over dinner. Even after she died some 11 years ago, he never dreamt of her, could never summon her back into his subconscious. This frustrated him to no end, because, once he was awake, all he did was daydream about her.

But then, about 10 weeks ago, in the middle of his deepest sleep, Al Joyner finally saw Flo Jo. She had driven up in a car, smiling, and strolled casually toward him. She was stunning, as always, and wore her hair in a bun, just the way he'd always adored it. He asked her, "What are you doing here?" And her response was, "I'm just coming to check on you." He didn't know what to say next. Their daughter, Mary, was about to graduate from high school, and he wanted to ask, "Are you here for graduation?" But before he could speak, his alarm clock went off.

For the rest of this article by Tom Friend visit ESPN.com and check out the article in Outside the Lines


26 August 2009

Health Care Reform

During the Democratic Primaries and the General Election campaign last year, the need for progressive reform within the United States became clear. What became equally clear was that, finally, we as a nation had woken up and realized that we did not want more of the same. As such, we elected Barack Obama to elect and implement this progressive agenda. The majority of the people who supported Barack Obama in the election need to make their voices heard immediately on the health care issue. This is part of the progressive agenda that we elected him to implement. Furthermore, this health care needs to include a public option. This option can easily be financed by evaginating the Bush era tax cuts, which enabled corporate fat cats to get rich. This too was part of the reason we elected Barack last year. This was a major plank of the Barack Obama's election platform and if this effort at reforming the health care system fails, it will be a giant step backwards for the Obama administration and for working people who helped get Mr. Obama elected.

Several years ago, I read the book What's the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank. This book details how right-wing Republicans have manipulated the masses by obfuscating the issues and have been successful in getting the masses to vote against their own financial interests by using issues of values. The Republicans have played up their "Christian" values by using white fear as tool to get elected and then proceeded to rob the middle and lower-classes blind. A similar thing is occurring now on the issue of health care.

This is a key time. Most members of the House of Representatives and Senators are home for summer recess. During this recess they will be attempting to gauge the mood of their constituency on this bill. The right-wing is trying to demoralize public debate by using disruptive tactics to browbeat the public into accepting that health care reform is wrong. The right-wing is using these disruptive tactics on a quotidian basis to affect the effectiveness of town hall meetings, and push for taxing the benefits of lower and middle class workers and oppose any public option. Unfortunately, so moderate Democrats and Republicans have been sucked into this vortex and are also trying to slow down this process. This is unacceptable and will only allow the pharmaceutical and medical industries to continue reaping the huge profits that they already earn.

Let me be clear: the alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is not feasible. You want to know who else shares my opinion? The markets. Stocks of health insurance companies went through the roof when news that the group of senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Obviously, investors believe that co-ops offer little competition to private insurers.

For years Democrats viewed any option that did not have a Medicare-for-all reform as a waste of time. The public option allowed for the difference of opinion amongst Democrats to be reconciled. The public option, which would force insurance companies to prove their usefulness or fade away into oblivion, settled some of those worries amongst Democrats and promised a path towards meaningful reform.

Claims by right-wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh that the majority of Americans are happy with the current system of health care and the costs associated are highly questionable. The majority has either too little health care or none at all. Still more are in danger of losing what they have won through their unions as companies try to curb their benefits during the economic crisis. Therefore, the majority of Americans want Medicare improved and expanded.

HR 3200 will come to the floor in September according to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Senate finance committee continues to dally back and forth weighing the options available and listening to us...the people. The health committee has also put its legislation forward. These three bills will have to be melded together.

Among the biggest points of contention are:

* Will there be a public option?
* Will the funding come from taxing the rich or from taxing working peoples health care benefits?
* Will immigrants and women's reproductive services, etc. be included?

The Republicans and right-wing groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media ads and hired thugs who are depicting Barack Obama as Hitler when in fact these groups are using the very tactics of intimidation employed Die Fuhrer in the 1920s and 1930s. These groups want to shift the focus of the debate and create confusion to undermine the current overwhelming support for the public option.

There is currently a Klan-like mentality that exists. Look at the spate of recent racist cartoons, the challenge to Sonia Sotomayors confirmation to the Supreme Court, and the depictions of Barack Obama as Hitler as proof of this. This is yet another example of what Frank talked about in his book. The right-wing is trying to break apart the coalition crafted by Obama during the election and get the masses to support something that is not in their best interests. Obama's agenda has been labeled a socialist agenda. Is there anything wrong with a socialist agenda that benefits the majority of the people?

Americans need to educate ourselves about this issue and the write our Senators and Representatives voicing support for this health reform bill. There are numerous sites where one can find out the true facts. This issue is but just one of many critical issues to come. A defeat on this issue could signal a defeat on many other important planks in the progressive platform.

For more information on this critical issue check out the following sites:

Impact of H.R.3200 according to the House of Energy and Commerce

White House Facts on Health Care

City of Los Angeles Resolution on President Obama's Health Care Plan

Health Care for America Now!(Letter to Blue Dog Democrats)

Health Care for America Now!

Barack Obama's Arguments for Health Care

Working America

Alliance for Retired Americans

ALF-CIO (look for the Health Care Town Hall section)

NPR on Canada's Health Care System


21 August 2009

PETA Hypocrisy and Michael Vick

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a debate, at times fierce, with friends over what should happen to Michael Vick. For those that do not know, Mr. Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring. He personally killed dogs that were not deemed to be championship material. Dogs were summarily drowned, electrocuted, etc. Dog fighting is illegal in the USA. Vick was convicted and served a two-year prison sentence.

The crux of the issue is that Vick, as a professional football player is viewed as a role model. As such, some feel that he should not be allowed to play because he this “sends the wrong message”. Furthermore, there are dog lovers who are appalled that he has been reinstated into the National Football League (NFL) and have vowed to protest. Many of these protestors are members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and are in a pother citing their love of animals as their reason for disliking Michael Vick.

I grew up watching Michael Vick playing. As a native Virginian, I watched Vick almost single handedly win Virginia Tech University a national championship. His electrifying play captivated the nation. As a professional quarterback, I rooted for Vick, even though I am not a fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I was a fan of Michael Vick the player. However, I have never viewed him as a role model. Therefore, I find the argument that reinstating Vick “sends the wrong message” utterly ridiculous. How many other athletes are not people we would want our sisters and daughters to date? Yet we continue to root for them. What kind of hypocrisy is this?

PETA is another issue. Generally, I support animal rights. I am a vegetarian. My main reason for choosing this lifestyle is because I believe it to be a far healthier lifestyle. (Vegetarians have a longer life expectancy and are far less susceptible to myriad diseases.) However, I have also read the book Fast Food Nation. This book, by Eric Schlosser, portrays how American society has been fundamentally altered by fast food restaurants. No longer are Americans abstemious about what we eat and drink. Rather, we spend half of our budget for food in restaurants, mainly fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, etc. Schlosser also graphically details how slaughterhouses operate:

“The animals keep strolling up, oblivious to what comes next, and he stands over them and shoots. For eight-and-a-half hours, he just shoots. As I stand there, he misses a few times and shoots the same animal twice. As soon as the steer falls, a worker grabs one of its hind legs, shackles it to a chain, and the chain lifts the huge animal into the air. I watch the knocker knock cattle for a couple of minutes. The animals are powerful and imposing one moment and then gone in an instant, suspended from a rail, ready for carving. A steer slips from its chain, falls to the ground, and gets its head caught in one end of a conveyor belt. The production line stops as workers struggle to free the steer, stunned but alive, from the machinery. I've seen enough.”

How many of these verdant PETA protesters are vegetarians? How many are religious. The Bible, Quran, and Torah all have passages referring to caring for all of God’s creatures. The horrors of a slaughterhouse do not live up this high ideal. Essentially, these protesters have a double standard. Many of these verdant protesters eat meat and could not care less how chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats are slaughtered, but woe to the person who kills a dog. Asian countries where dogs are eaten for their meat are seen by these protesters as barbaric and backwards as is Michael Vick. PETA’s organizational mores dictate that they fight cruelty to animals. The organization has seemingly experienced a a tergiversation by waging a battle against a high-profile athlete who engaged in a criminal action and subsequently served a two-year prison sentence. PETA should instead be focusing its efforts on large businesses that make a huge profit from being cruel to animals.

The beauty of Michael Vick is that if you do not like him as a person, you have the right to root against him because he is an athlete. Make no mistake, Michael Vick does not represent a paragon of virtue. It just irritates me that so many are now saying they will not root for him because of high minded ideals, which are in essence hypocritical. I am not a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I am more inclined to be one this year. I actually hope that Michael Vick has learned something from this experience and is a better person for it. I hope that he finds redemption on the football field and can make a positive contribution to society for the rest of his life as a result of these life experiences. So while some may hide their beagles because Vick is an Eagle, I say kudos to the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance and unless the Eagles are playing my beloved Seahawks, I will be rooting for Michael Vick and hoping he is successful.


17 August 2009

You Thought You Had a Bad Day

Have you ever had a really good day? I'm sure you have. Have you ever had a really great day while all of those around you have had a horrible day?

Spare a thought for Charles Coventry. Who is he? Until yesterday, he was a man very few people had heard of. Charles Coventry is a Zimbabwean cricketer. Yesterday, he came in to bat at number 3 against Bangladesh in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He proceeded to score 194 runs in a one-day international (ODI) match, which equals the most runs ever scored by a single player. Unlike the player whose record he equaled, Charles Coventry was 194 not out.

Then Bangladesh batted. Unfortunately for Charles Coventry, though he scored 194 runs by himself, Zimbabwe as a team amassed only 312 on a placid wicket. Bangladesh, led by Tamim Iqbal's career best 154 runs, easily chased down the 312 runs needed to win with 13 balls remaining.

So in short, Charles Coventry sat a world record, and his team still lost! And you thought you had a bad day.

Charles Coventry