Friday, December 9, 2005

Fight Renewal of the Patriot Act

My, my - another post. I think if I had more time and energy, I'd post more often as there always seems to be another outrage coming along. This is a big one! Congress is close to adopting a renewal of the Patriot Act which would extend, permanently, many measures which adversely affect our civil liberties and privacy. We all need to contact our Representatives and Senators and urge - demand - that this conference legislation not pass. They need to rethink any renewal of this legislation and scrap the notion we must sacrifice liberty for security.

Sen. Russell Feingold is leading the opposition. Please let the Senator know you support his efforts. Please also spread the word and get more people involved. You can read more on this here .

My Birthday Present

My birthday is tomorrow - 12/10! That means I want presents, lots of them! And you can make sure I get them. I'm not talking diamonds and champagne (although if someone would like to buy me a new PT Cruiser, I probably wouldn't refuse that!), but something else. You see, tomorrow is also Human Rights Day. I would like EACH of you to commit (and follow through!) to doing something for Human/ Civil Rights. Sign a petition, write a letter to the editor about an issue, contact your Representative or Senators, march, serve, donate, or do SOMETHING to help in the cause! We can't just sit idly by and watch these rights be trampled here and around the world. Everyone needs to stand up and start making a difference. It will take all of us, so each and every person must do what he or she can.

So put pen to paper, get on the telephone, take to the streets and work on those birthday presents!

Petitioning to End Genocide in Darfur

Recently my college's Amnesty Club (yes, they started a student branch supporting Amnesty International!) circulated petitions to the President to end this genocide. I was able to get 10 signatures to fill one petition and give it to the students. Even though it may not be the most effective thing (I wonder sometimes if such petitions ever really have an effect), it made me feel as though I'd done SOMETHING for the cause. It was also a good feeling to support the students - they were quite appreciative of getting that filled petition. You can download one and have people sign, too. This campaign is found at . Find your way to the Darfur Campaign and it's "take action now" section.

There is another step we can take as well. We can urge our Congressional Representatives and Senators to support the Darfur Accountability Act. The House version is H. R. 1424 and the Senate version is S. 495. Maybe, just maybe, our combined efforts might start to make some positive changes for these fellow humans going through such trials.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yet Another Outrage

I wasn't aware of this until I saw tonight's episode of NOW on my local PBS station. Earlier this month, the IRS warned an Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California that its tax-exempt status could be in jeopardy. The reason? An anti-war sermon preached last year. Read about it here.

I could hardly believe this. This is a very troubling development. David Brancaggio's excellent guest discussing this was the Rev. Madison Shockley of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA. He said it was quite cynical for the IRS to target this church, when so many evangelical churches were quite active for Bush. I might use other words. The Rev. Shockley said he would not be cowed into changing his messages and he felt that other progressive clergy felt the same way.

It is events such as this which are continually happening during this administration that keep me upset about the direction this country is headed. It is important that we guard the right to dissent. It is vitally important that we guard the right of free speech and not compromise it - not for national security, not for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. It troubles me that this administration always seems to want to silence criticism. It's scary and also not very smart. Always thinking you're 100% correct is a recipe for getting into messy situations.

I hope that each person will open his or her eyes to the abuses of this administration and its allies on the extreme right. Find out what the issues are and stand up for more progressive, inclusive and less repressive ways of dealing with our society's challenges.

I hope specifically that people will be interested enough to find out more about this situation. All Saints Episcopal Church has a website where you can read about their viewpoint (their Rector's Nov. 13th sermon is worth reading) and offer support. Rev. Shockley is a columnist for the L. A. Times. You may want to read some of his columns.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Word Verification - Please Read

To everyone -

I just took the step of turning on word verification for comments. This means that if you want to leave a comment, you will have to type in the characters you'll be presented with. This is to stop spam comments. It is in no way meant to discourage any real, honest comments; I fully encourage - and value those!

It's a shame that spammers always want to spoil things.

Happy Birthday, John Adams!

The Birthday Boy

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Today is the day to wish a happy birthday to John Adams - yes our second President! I never thought too much of him until the Adams Chronicles came on tv. I so enjoyed that mini-series and found out what a great person he was. Although he certainly wasn't a very good president (sorry...), he had lots of good sense and integrity, was anti-slavery,wasn't afraid to say what he thought, and was quite a liberated guy for the times!

Following the series, I fairly DEMANDED that my parents take me to see where he lived. So that summer we went to Quincy, MA. We visited the museum; went briefly by his birthplace and the house he moved into when he married Abigail - where son John Quincy was born. We took a tour of the main house. That was incredible - to actually see where they lived and all those family heirlooms. Most impressive was probably the library. That was a separate building lined wall to wall, floor to ceiling - three books deep. We also saw where he, Abigail, John Quincy and his wife Louisa were buried. This is in the basement of United First Parish Church in Quincy. I was actually able to touch the marble enclosing their coffins.

John Adams was a fairly quotable guy. To commemorate his day, here are some of my favorites:
First, three we should heed today:

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence".

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak."

Another one to think about:
"Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power."

And here's one I wish our Supreme Court had believed:
"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty."

Being an educator, I find his views on education stimulating:

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people."

"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

Finally, some good advice for all of us:

"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."

Happy Birthday to you, John Adams; hopefully somehow in cosmology you're getting these vibes!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Vote of Shame

By now, most of you have probably heard that the U. S. House Agriculture Committee approved budget cuts that would cut food stamps entirely from around 300,000 people and cut school lunches and breakfasts for approximately 40,000 children. This comes as it was reported that the people who cannot afford enough food rose - to 38.2 million in 2004! Read about this shameful vote here and you can also read more details of the proposal at this site.

I ask, how in good conscience can these supposed representatives of the people vote to take food from those who need it so much? I ask, how did it get to this point? How did so many of us slip into poverty? How are we letting our representatives get away with cutting programs to aid them, yet vote tax cuts for the wealthy and tax breaks for corporations? I ask, why aren't we outraged?

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you get outraged. Find out where your representative stands on this issue. Let him or her know that you favor restoring these budget cuts that would hurt the most vulnerable among us. Don't stop there, but please spread word about this to as many people as you can. We need to put as much pressure on the House to restore these particular cuts as possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why are we even debating this?

How can anyone believe that it is somehow acceptable to torture in the name of our country? How can anyone think that we, as a supposedly civilized society, should do anything but condemn its use by any of our forces or agents?

Still, there is pressure from the White House and from the Vice-President to weaken language (by excluding overseas clandestine forces not under the Pentagon) in the defense bill, now in negotiations to reconcile differences in the Senate and House versions. The Senate version contains language from Sen. John McCain which would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U. S. government custody no matter where held.

How can we even pretend to lead the world toward freedom and democracy if we don't set the standard for civilized treatment of prisoners? How can we ignore international bans on such practices? How can we condemn such behaviors in other countries and not take steps to make sure that the abuses of Abu Gharib prison are never repeated by American forces or agents?

I urge everyone to contact their Senators and Representatives and urge them to support Sen. McCain's language and to vote against any weakening of it. In particular, you may wish to contact Sen. Stevens of Alaska and Rep. Young of Florida who are leading the negotiations.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

William Bennett

Will someone please tell William Bennett that this is the 21st Century, not the 19th. What he said was beyond reprehensible (if by some chance you have not heard about it, go here). What he was saying is that he equates blackness with criminality. What an affront to the law abiding, good citizens of every ethnicity. I'm truly angered and saddened that people still have such racist attitudes in their hearts.

What Mr. Bennett fails to understand is that for America to truly progress, we must stand as one people. We must support each other, mentor those who need it, and promote economic policies which help the middle, working and underclasses. We need to somehow stop fostering a culture of violence and to teach better ways of resolving conflicts - both in our entertainment (which many researchers do feel has an effect on our young people) and in our communities. We need to affirm that "American" refers to all of us and that we all have a stake in solving these problems.

Developments in China

Did you notice that China is placing new restrictions about what news can be posted on websites? Read about it here.

I'm dismayed that the Chinese government feels the need to restrict the access of its citizens to all information. Let's be vigilant and make sure that we keep access open here in the U. S.. Remember that what someone doesn't want you to read may very well be something you absolutely should read!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Missing Press

Please visit here and read the article by Paul Craig Roberts. Also please pay attention to the quote at the top of the page: "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government." - former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

Sunday, August 21, 2005

And This is 2005?

Sometimes I wonder if we humans really have entered the 21st Century. I saw this news report of a professor in my state who told a racist joke in class.

To me, this is totally unacceptable. As an educator myself, I feel it is my job to open the minds of my students to education and my subject matter, not to make them feel uncomfortable or turn them off. Educators must set a high standard for students in creating an atmosphere of acceptance of students regardless of ethnic or cultural background. I feel that all educators need to practice the philosophies of two of my grad school professors; Dr. Adams who always said that once she had a student, that was her student and she took full credit for that student; and another lady (whose name escapes me), who always expressed to us that she thought teachers should be the head of a classroom family. I can also proudly say that my Mother, an elementary teacher, certainly practiced those principles in her classroom. I really don't know what this fellow was thinking - or NOT thinking.

I could also go on about the state of humor here. Sometimes I think our humor gets too mean, too "in your face". I find racist jokes certainly the most objectionable. I like to see humor build bridges between people who can laugh at some common human foibles. Humor that belittles others certainly has no place in the classroom.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Attention NJ Residents

All NJ residents should be aware that there is a bill in the legislature which would address concerns in the use of eminent domain which have occurred recently. The bill is S2739 and is sponsored by NJ State Senators Diane Allen and Mia Gill. It would prevent the use of condemnation to take occupied homes which are up to code. Jenny from Sen. Allen's office, I hope I have this correct!

Please get involved; this issue is too important for people to stand on the sidelines. You can contact Sen. Allen and Sen. Gill to tell them you support their effort and thank them for sponsoring this. You can also contact your State Senator and ask him or her to support this or even to be a co-sponsor.

Please don't sit back; homes of our fellow citizens are at stake. Someday the home you want protected may be your own.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Women's Health Alert

I was really shocked at this latest news concerning the birth control patch, Ortho Evra. Read about it here. I'm stunned that this is just coming out now. I don't understand why this didn't ring any warning bells earlier.

This, along with the problems with Vioxx, et al., cause me great concern. I wonder just how committed the FDA and these drug companies are to giving us SAFE as well as effective medications. I think we need more safeguards, more people not afraid to blow whistles - and better protection for whistle blowers. I know we want medicines for various purposes "yesterday"; but maybe we should slow down just a bit so that more problems don't occur in the long run.

In the meantime, I think I would advise women considering the patch to think twice. And advise any woman on it to consult with her doctor very soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

New Features to my Blog

If you've noticed, there are two new features to Cinnamonblue's Blog. Below each post now is an envelope icon. This is a link which allows you to e-mail the post to a friend.

Also, I downloaded Google's Picasa and companion Hello programs so I could load that picture of London. I may post pictures to supplement posts from time to time.

Now, is anyone out there?


As with so many around the world today, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of London, especially families of the victims of terrorism. It's agonizing, saddening, and numbing to see such violence inflicted against innocent people.

London is a great city. My Dad and I visited there in 1977 and I really loved it. To me it felt almost not like a city; the parks, squares, and openness of its layout made it seem less like a huge metropolis than something a bit more personal. It's proved its resilience through the ages. Bless the city and its residents in this latest test.

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Saturday, July 2, 2005

Blogging is Subversive?

Wow- a three-fer today.

I was just browsing through some blogs tonight and came across an item in one referencing something I'd just vaguely heard about.

In China, they are now requiring that all blogs be registered (though apparently, this wasn't easy to do) - one requirement of which is the removal of links not approved by the Chinese government (this even includes their friends' websites!) Apparently blogspot blogs are being blocked from use - as well as those of some other providers. Also, Microsoft is censoring text used by Chinese bloggers - words such as "democracy" or "human rights" are not to be used (Yahoo! and Google have been censoring as well). You can read about some developments here .

As a blogger myself, and a firm believer in free speech, I am very troubled by such developments. We can only imagine what it feels like to have your free expression controlled or totally blocked. We had also better be concerned that in current repressive atmosphere which has so little regard for civil liberties that this does not happen here!

Muktaran Mai Follow Up

I thought I might see if there were any new developments in this case, so I just visited the site of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women. The news is relatively positive. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has apparantly issued a favorable ruling. Also Ms. Mai will be in the U. S. to take part in seminar in Houston today. There will be a webcast available at 1:00 p.m.. You may access this at the organization's site.

O'Connor is retiring...

I'm probably not the only one who was shocked at the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one concerned as well. The prospects of the type of Justice the President might propose and of a nasty and protracted partisan battle are not pleasant ones. I hope that we put enough pressure on the White House AND on the Senate to make sure that the nominee is mainstream and decent, not extremist! Make sure that YOUR Senators know we don't want an extreme right-wing idealogue to take the place of someone like Justice O'Connor who has helped keep the Court somewhat centered.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

An Eminently Troubling Court Decision

If you haven't heard, your home is no longer your castle. Today, in an unconscionable decision (5-4), the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that cities and towns can take homes for private development projects by use of eminent domain. I'm going to have to pinch myself and ask if I'm still in America!

Eminent domain was supposed to allow governments to take (with compensation) property for public use such as roads, schools, libraries. Now the door is open for seizure of homes for private developers. The case heard before the Supreme Court was brought by a group of homeowners in New London, CT, who are fighting to keep their homes from being taken for a private development project to complement a facility owned by Pfizer, Inc..

I literally felt shock and outrage when I first read about this. I feel it is probably the worst Supreme Court decision since Plessy v. Ferguson or Dred Scott. I bless the 4 dissenters: Chief Justice Renhquist and Justices O'Connor, Scalia and Thomas (wow - he actually got one right!) Justice O'Connor wrote in her dissent: "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." She is absolutely correct. Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent that it will have a great impact on poor communities undergoing renewal programs. He wrote that "no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes."

Ladies and gentlemen, where is the outrage? Do not wait until it is your home that your town wants to seize. I urge you to take action. Contact your Senators and Congresspeople and urge a legislative remedy. Contact your state representatives and also lobby for a remedy on the state level.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Flag Amendment

Today, the House passed an anti-flag burning amendment. It may not be the most popular sentiment, but this saddens me. I love this country, and personally respect our flag. I do not like the sight of our flag being burned. However, I must agree with the Supreme Court who declared that burning the flag in protest is protected free speech. We must guard our right to free expression, even though we find some expressions personally offensive. That's what free speech is all about. Isn't that part of what we're supposed to be fighting for and standing up for around the world? When a piece of cloth, symbolic though it may be, becomes more important than the Constitution and the civil liberties that are supposedly central to the American way, it's time to look at our priorities.

I hope that it does not pass in the Senate. I would urge everyone to contact their Senators and urge them to vote against this measure which would erode more of our civil rights.

Howard Dean

What are we to make of Howard Dean? Personally, I like him. Granted, he may need to phrase things a bit more diplomatically at times, but I find his "tell it like it is" spirit refreshing. As I've said before, I'm tired of everything being so scripted and politicians being so scared they might actually say something! I liked his reply to Dick Cheney's remark (which doesn't seem to have drawn the same scrutiny). Dean said, "I don't care if Dick Cheney likes my mother or not. We are going to fight back. I think it's great that Dick Cheney went after me, to be honest. At least they notice there's a Democratic Party that's not going to put up with this stuff any more. So there's a lot we're gonna do." Given the GOP attacks, it's about time the Democrats got some fighting spirit!

Actually, I'm amazed that the media jump all over Dean's controversial remarks yet never challenge the Right-wing candidates and pundits who trash the word Liberal and paint Liberal candidates as extremists. I also wonder why no one notes that his remarks have not seemed to provoke any sort of soul searching among Republicans. Often remarks we don't particularly enjoy hearing still have a grain of truth. Trying to be diplomatic here, why aren't more Republicans saying there may be a need to look at why the party is perceived in some of the ways Dean has mentioned. Why aren't such remarks provoking a discussion of having the Republican party be more inclusive racially, socio-economically, and politically (i. e., strengthening its Moderate wing and attracting (gasp!) Liberals back! There is a growing frustration in the "moderate" wing of the GOP which could be tapped into.

Meanwhile, I hope that DNC Chairman Dean stays passionate yet finds ways to express this a bit more effectively. We need his fire to help a more progressive agenda get adopted and progressive candidates elected.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Blocking Bolton

So far, efforts to block the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the U. N. have been successful. However, the President is considering a "recess" appointment which would not need Senate approval and which would last until Jan., 2007.

We need to keep the heat up and let the Senate know that such a nominee is unacceptable. I'm not sure why that Bolton, who has shown disdain for the U. N. in the past, would want to go there. There are also questions about his possible intimidation of officials who disagreed with him and about the possiblilty of his involvement with exaggeration of intelligence data.

Urge your Senators to vote against confirming Bolton as U. N. Ambassador. Also, please e-mail the President and urge him not to use a recess appointment.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Another Outrage Du Jour

This administration's attitude toward scientific information troubles me. There was Phillip Cooney who edited passages of a global warming study to diminish the link between greenhouse gases and global warming. Now scientists who have retired from the Bureau of Land Management report that a scientific analysis was changed. Specifically, passages critical of relaxing grazing regulations for cattle were eliminated or altered. Read their story here.

I feel that it is very important that decisions affecting our precious biosphere be based on a) truthful information and rigorous science, and b) a true concern for protecting our environment. Native Americans (I'm part Delaware) always have a reverence for Mother Earth. We - and our decision makers - need to remember that in the words of one Native American, "What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves."

It seems to me that this administration falls short on adhering to both of the above criteria. We need to demand that our decision makers be held to higher standards than altering scientific reports to support a conclusion that they support for some reason, even if the data does not.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Women Still Face Unbelievable Injustice

I have been shocked, saddened and outraged by some cases of extreme injustice against women recently. Around the world, women still face many hardships such as lack of education and struggles for daily survival. They also face many injustices and indignities brought on by powerful male-dominated societies.

Very recently, an Indian woman, Imrana Bibi, was raped by her father-in-law, divorced and abandoned by her husband, yet ordered to live with her attacker! In this article, she says she will never live with her attacker and describes her ordeal.

Another famous case is that of Muktaran Mai, who was ordered gang raped to avenge something one of her brothers did. Most of her attackers are now free and she has been fearful of retaliation. On top of everything, she has been a virtual prisoner; it seems the government does not want her to move about freely and tell her story. Last week, it appeared as though she would be allowed to visit the U. S. and give a series of talks organized by the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women. As of today, the President of Pakistan has stopped her from coming. At their website, the Network has updates on her case, sample letters to the President of Pakistan, and a link to an e-mail form to Pres. Musharraf. Please visit their site and e-mail the Pakistani President to urge him to allow her to move freely and visit the U. S.. Contacting our Congresspeople would be a good idea also.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

The Plight of Stray Animals in Iraq

When I first started thinking about doing a blog, I toyed with the idea of calling it "Outrage du Jour" (Daily Outrage), since this administration always seemed to be doing something I found objectionable. This latest unspeakable and unnecessary cruelty is no exception.

Animal lovers, please take note and take action. The Humane Society of the U. S. reports that our armed forces have been ordered not to keep or rescue stray pets in Iraq. Those who do face severe penalties; the pets face even worse. Soldiers have confirmed contractors have been hired to actually kill dogs found on bases. Some pets have been smuggled to safety, but those routes are being slowly closed off. For anyone who cares about animals, this is an unjust action targeting innocent animals whose only crime was to be a stray and to be rescued and adopted by service personnel. In some cases, units have been ordered to shoot strays on sight - not even letting them have a chance to be rescued. I can't imagine how they can justify this action against animals who have probably been separated from their human companions and want no more than to either be reunited with them or find another loving home.

Please read about this at the HSUS site and take a moment to send a message to Pres. Bush and ask him to rescind this order.

Friday, June 3, 2005

A Plan to Save?

Today I think I'll take a break from politics and relate my experience trying to save some money on my phone bill. A few months ago, I signed on to a regional package with Verizon. I "thought" this would save me money, but quite the opposite was the case. I didn't realize this package was on top of their "basic charges", which meant this effectively doubled my bill!

So this afternoon I tried managing the maze of phone plans and automated customer service phone lines. It was a challenge just to get a live person at Verizon who could finally change my service back to the minimal package I was on BEFORE I changed it. I also didn't realize that the local lines are controlled by Verizon and ATT - who apparently don't have to share them! So much for competition.

Although I can get some great deals in long distance, that's not the major part of my phone bill. Those "basic charges", such as the FCC subscriber line fee and the wonderful fee I have to pay for the privilege of having a subsidiary line for my computer are what's killing me! I did investigate switching to ATT, but to switch both lines would have cost me almost $130! I told the gal at ATT I thought that would be highway robbery (and yes, I did use those exact words).

After dealing with all of this I am still on Verizon for my local calling (on their minimal flat rate plan), and I took a plan with my Internet provider for my long distance. And I'm still wondering when everyone will stop gouging the consumer.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Calling Some Senators

It's been a while since my last post; I definitely was in an end-of-the-semester rush. I have, however been following developments in the possible use of the "nuclear" option to end filibusters of Federal Judicial appointments in the Senate.

I can't believe that this is even being considered. It goes against giving the minority party any checks and balances on these very important appointments. I don't believe that any judge should be confirmed just because the majority party puts his or her name forward. The way Sen. Frist and company are going about this is also against Senate rules. People for the American Way has a good explanation here.

This morning, I called several Senators to urge them to vote against any nuclear option. I was able to leave messages at the offices of Senators Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Nelson, Gordon Smith, Ted Stevens, and John McCain (who has said he would vote against it). I also called Sen. Frist's office and left a message that I thought trying to do this was a terrible idea.

If some of you read this and have time to contact some of these Senators before a vote on this - possibly tomorrow, 5/24, I would urge you to e-mail them or call their offices. I was unable to reach the offices of Sen. Collins and Sen. Warner (who are two key Senators on this issue). The U. S. Senate site has a directory of contact information.

We should all watch closely as this unfolds as we need to keep some checks and balances on majority power.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Is "Public" still in PBS?

Read here about what is going on at PBS.

In another report I received via e-mail, two recent appointees to the CPB board, Gay Hart Gaines and Cheryl Halpern have been major donors to conservative causes. Although the CPB Board is not supposed to interfere with PBS programming, there is tangible concern that this is what is on the agenda now.

We desperately need PBS to "balance the voices that dominate the commercial media" - that from the Fairness and Accurate Reporting group. The voices dominating commercial media seem to be increasingly corporate oriented - tending to the Conservative or Right-wing. We need the type of news and events coverage that only PBS can provide. We need a source of news and programming that will truthfully examine the issues of the day. We need news shows that will tackle issues that the more commercial media will not. After all, how many reports of the Michael Jackson trial, the runaway bride, and Paula Abdul do we need? We need programming that is independent, not subject to censorship. We need programming that will truly inform and enlighten, not just repeat spin. We do not need PBS to be another outlet of propaganda. We need PBS to truly be public broadcasting.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


The situation in Darfur is just unbelievably horrific. I suppose that is why I hadn't posted about this previously. It is sad that the international community has basically allowed these atrocities to continue. Recently, a group at my college has begun organizing a chapter of Amnesty International; they are hoping to get the college community to help create awareness on this issue - hence this post.

Amnesty International USA has a very good page containing a late update on the situation and some links for action. Please take a moment, educate yourself, and act.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pay Equity Day

Today (what's left of it) is "Equal Pay Day". This day symbolizes how far into the next year women must work on average to earn as much as men earned the previous year!

Today is a good day to reflect on the problems women still face in the workplace. Discrimination (yes, still in 2005), the glass ceiling, the sticky floor, and less monetary value placed on "women's work" such as child care, all contribute to the problem.

Today is a good day to remember that many women are either the sole support of their families or provide a vital part of family income. By expanding the choices women view on their horizons, by allowing them to progress as far in their careers as their talents can carry them, and by compensating them fairly, not only women, but families and society will greatly benefit. Families will have a better standard of living and society will feel the impact of their fully utilized capabilities.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women has an Equal Pay Day site, as does the National Committee on Pay Equity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Now Hear Us!

While reading about the 2005 Jefferson Center Muzzles, something I'd thought about previously came to mind. The Muzzles cited both major parties for their treatment of protesters. The right to protest and dissent is central to our democracy. It should be cherished, not stifled. We should all be concerned about the treatment given to protesters. The next hot issue may be one which makes us want to join a protest. How would we care to be treated?

The thought that occurred to me, however, is that I wonder just how effective such protests really are. Lawmakers and decision makers are very insulated from us now. There are so many layers of security, lobbyists, and staff between ordinary citizens and our representatives that it's difficult for us common citizens to make our voices heard. Town hall meetings with the President are filled with partisan crowds, so very little real discussion of issues is heard. I'm not much on going to marches, but I do often send e-mails or letters to national and state officials. I wonder how effective even that is. We need to find ways to (civilly, of course) break through and get our decision makers to pay attention. Maybe they should be required to visit a grocery store at least once a month. They could meet us and see the challenges some people face in order to feed a family. Maybe there should be "People's" press conferences (regularly, not just during debating season) where ordinary folks are selected by lottery to ask questions. Maybe there should be some limits on the access lobbyists have. Maybe, as was mentioned earlier, there should be real campaign finance reform. What do you think?

Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson!

I know it's getting late in the day, but Happy Birthday, nevertheless to our Third President. He reminded us that freedom of speech "cannot be limited without being lost."

Let's remember some more thoughts of Jefferson's as his birthday celebration winds down:

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Those are excellent observations that all of us should remain mindful of.

On or around his birthday, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gives out the "Muzzles" to those who have tried to stifle free expression. Go here - or use the link in the side bar - to read about the 2005 Muzzle awardees. I found the story of the high school valedictorian who stood up for her right to free speech against the school who earned a Muzzle very inspiring.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Journalism Under Fire

I truly believe that an independent judiciary is crucial to our system of government. I believe that a free and independent press is as well. That's why I hope the courts would lighten up and not force journalists to reveal confidential sources. Jim Taricani, a Rhode Island reporter was just freed today after serving a sentence of home confinement for not revealing a source. I believe that if a source needs confidentiality, this should be honored. Sometimes, that is the only way the person may feel comfortable about providing information. Without this type of information, often the public would not be completely informed. I want a press that is not afraid to investigate and question everything, especially the government!

Here's another article about recent developments in this area. I hope that we all will support the establishment of a federal shield law for journalists.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Keep the "Third Branch" Independent

I'm very concerned about the rhetoric and posturing that has been going on concerning our judiciary. Yesterday, the religious right had a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith". I wonder if these folks care about what the Constitution says. Rep. DeLay (who has "threatened" judges recently) and others want Congress to interject itself into the judiciary system.

At this point, everyone's alarm bells should be ringing. The Constitution of the United States created 3 independent branches of government, so that there would be checks and balances on power. For Congress to intervene or otherwise pressure the judiciary as they are proposing would compromise an independent judiciary, which is vital to our democracy.

I'm with Sen. Minority Leader, Harry Reid. The Sen. is quoted as saying, "I believe in our Constitution. I believe in the separation of powers doctrine. I believe that the Founding Fathers were wise in developing these branches of government - executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch - one having no more power than the other".

Another Threat to Online Privacy

I'm a fairly upstanding person, but I still value what little online privacy I may have left. I'm always complaining about "cookies". I won't accept them unless absolutely necessary. Although they are "supposedly" to help a website remember you (why?) or remember what pages you've visited if you're ordering from them, I suspect their real purpose is just to track our movements on the web. In fact, one of the tech support people at my ISP told me he thought there was no such thing as a good cookie.

I'm also alarmed at the personal information some websites want if they make you "register" to use them. For example, both my local newspaper and the Philadelphia Inquirer ask for your birthdate! Ok, so maybe I shouldn't be so sensitive about my age, but there is another reason I haven't registered with either one. In an age in which we have to guard against identity theft, a birthdate is sensitive information that we shouldn't have to give out just for some registration purposes. We all ought to be concerned about the availability of personal information in this digital society. For example, this article investigates how information brokers sell social security numbers, often with little or no verification that the request was legitimate.

Now, getting back to cookies. It seems a company, United Virtualities, has found a way to restore cookies that have been deleted from hard drives! Their system uses Macromedia flash player. You may want to read this and use the link provided to get information on adjusting your flash player settings.

We need to let our legislators (state and national know) that we are concerned about privacy issues and want legislation to address them. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of CA has introduced several pieces of legislation that could help consumers with some online privacy issues.

P. S. I also e-mailed United Virtualities to tell them I was not fond of their cookie-busting technique. Links are current as of today, 4/8.

Monday, April 4, 2005

H. R. 27 Alert

I'm continually outraged at many recent events. On March 2, the U. S. House approved H. R. 27, the Job Training Investment Act. That sounds good, but in this latest update, certain anti-discrimination language pertaining to faith-based employers has been removed - specifically, there is would be no protection against such employers discriminating on the basis of religion. As of now, these employers must comply with all Federal anti-discrimination guidelines.

This has been opposed by People for the American Way (read their statement here ) and The Interfaith Alliance (their statement is here - scroll down their list of press releases).

Shouldn't recipients of Federal dollars consider all job candidates equally, regardless of religion or creed? Remember, our tax dollars would be funding this. As PFAW points out, the functions of worship and providing community services can easily be kept separate, so there is no real reason to have such employers be exempted from observing the guidelines others are subject to. The bill is now being considered in the Senate. It might be a good idea to let your Senators know how you feel on this issue.

We Need More Openness

For anyone who hasn't read the reports, here are two more articles highlighting the trend of this administration toward media manipulation and stifling dissent. The first is by Helen Thomas, a very respected journalist. The second is by Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder.

When someone first told me that (at least some) audience members in Bush's campaign events had to sign loyalty oaths, I didn't believe it. However, this has been fairly
well documented. I can't believe more people aren't outraged about this. Helen Thomas also mentions some questionable media practices by the Bush camp which have recently come to light. This makes me wonder why the media are so compliant! I can't remember where I read it now, but I read an article contrasting the coverage of protesters against the administration and protesters for Terri Schiavo having her feeding tube reinserted. Groups protesting administration policies barely get noticed, while the other group was given quite a lot of coverage. We need a good, free and independent press; I hope that more journalists will stand up to ensure that Americans have full and correct information with which to make decisions.

Open access to independent information, and open discussion, including dissent, are essential for democracy to work. Have we forgotten this? We preach democracy around the world; the best advertisement for it would be its full practice here at home.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Never off the Clock?

Work is work and home is home (unless you work from home...), right? There are some employers that are regulating - at least tobacco use - quite closely. Here is an article with some highlights of what has been going on. It should be available for the next 14 days.

Is anyone else troubled by this trendzoid? A commissioner in Montgomery Co., PA wants to propose that the county create a policy of not hiring smokers. Weyco, Inc. (mentioned in the article referenced above) actually demands that employees not use tobacco even when not at work, going so far as to require random tests. A Michigan State Senator is drafting legislation to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a worker's LEGAL activities outside the workplace (unless it would infringe on his or her ability to do the job or if there's a conflict of interest with the organization). My state, NJ (one of 29) does have such a law.

I'm not a smoker; I've been known to tell folks that "It's not good for you". I would advocate that anyone who can quit this habit certainly should. However, I find these stories very troubling. Employers already have so much control over our lives, to have them exert more control over our private lives is a clear erosion of our personal freedoms. As Al Lewis suggests in the article, we don't know what they might start regulating next.

Do no Harm? Pass No Judgement?

If you've been paying attention, maybe you've noticed more salvos of the culture war in the health care field. There have been reports of pharmacists not filling prescriptions because they had some moral objection to the drug involved (often contraceptives). First, there is some good news. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved an emergency rule requiring pharmacies to fill contraceptive prescriptions with no hassles given to the client. Under the rule, if a pharmacists objects to filling the prescription, another must step in and fill it. Hopefully a permanent rule will be ready by the time this rule is set to expire.

Now the bad news: the Michigan House passed a bill which would allow health care workers to object within 24 hours to providing a service they are personally against, or protest providing a service to someone they have a personal objection to.

I can't believe this. Why would a person go into a helping profession if he or she doesn't want to help people? That means providing care without imposing judgement, in my opinion. I had to be on the pill for a while when I was in college. The reason had nothing to do with contraception. I needed that prescription to regulate my cycle. I can't imagine how I would have felt if I'd been hassled by a pharmacist about using them, or what might have happened if that prescription hadn't been filled.

There is great danger for abuse here. Single people might be denied contraception because of some moral objection of the pharmacist. Morning after pills might not be as readily available to rape victims. A patient might be denied care if the patient's sexual orientation or lifestyle conflicts with the beliefs of the health care provider. Having these moral beliefs is a personal privilege, but when providing services necessary to enhance and sustain life is concerned, I feel we should do so without discrimination based on them. My job is to teach all of my students - not just the ones who fit my own mold of morality. We must be vigilant and make sure that the job of providing good health care is done on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Name for Sale?

Did you see the report of the woman who sold her name on Ebay? A casino bought her name, which she is legally changing to Getting funds to send her children to a golf school was apparently a primary motivation.

While embracing the freedom that lets this woman change her name, I sometimes wonder if there is anything in America NOT for sale. The "selling" of names now seems somehow commonplace. Stadiums and theatres are named for corporate owners or sponsors. Even colleges change their names for donors (well, at least one of my alma maters did!). It's not just names, either. Someone was selling tattoo space on his or her body!

This "everything for sale" mentality definitely makes me shake my head. I find it very curious that anyone would give up their individual appellation for some corporation's . Corporate monikers have robbed many sites of names more meaningful to their communities. Events are often now known by the sponsor's names. We're bombarded with advertisements in those video monitors that keep popping up everywhere. The logos that are on most items we purchase make us walking advertisements. I wonder why we don't draw more of a line. It's hard to believe that we are so seduced as to sell things, such as names, that are more than mere possessions.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I've long been interested in civil and human rights. Maybe it's not a coincidence that my birthday (December 10) is Human Rights Day. This comes from the fact that the U. N. adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on that date in 1948.

Eleanor Roosevelt was Chairwoman of the U. N. Human Rights Commission at the time and was instrumental in its writing and adoption. It is readily available online; a nice presentation is here .

It is well worth the time to read it. Article 1 is a wonderful statement on the true spirit of human rights. Read Article 5 - I'm struck that some of those fighting the war on terrorism seem to have forgotten this. Some provisions of the Patriot Act seem to violate Article 9. Articles 18, 19, and 20 are excellent and ones we should cherish, protect and strengthen here in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Here it is, more than 50 years later, and some Articles, such as 23, 24, 25 are still idealistic dreams for too many around the world. Even in the U. S., our economy has challenged progress in these areas, to say the least.

Let us work, hope and pray that this remains a vital document and that individuals and nations never lose commitment to the spirit of this Declaration.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Why I am a Liberal

I mentioned in the first post that I am an unapologetic Liberal. Maybe we Liberals don't do enough to let people know why we have this point of view.

I am a Liberal because of my faith. I see the teachings of Jesus - the concern for the poor, the inclusiveness He practiced (such as with the Samaritan woman at the well), and his commandment to Love one another - as pointing in this direction. I am amazed that this Christian Liberal viewpoint is too often ignored today. Not all Christians are Conservative or Right wing, by any means.

I am a Liberal because of the heritage of leadership from people such as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as other leaders such as Robert F. Kennedy, and the Rev. Martin L. King, Jr..

I am a Liberal because I believe Liberalism espouses programs more in line with the concerns of ordinary Americans - the middle class, working class, and working poor. I look at the policies put forth by the present administration and see mostly programs which benefit big business interests and the wealthy. While it is true that both sides are too dependent on special interests, I still feel Liberals offer more to ordinary citizens.

I am a Liberal because I see Conservatism too often associated with a repressive mode of thinking. I was really angered by the Republican campaign on "moral values". They seemed to only look at a few narrow aspects of morality - such as sexual morality - and tended to define things quite rigidly. I submit that there are other aspects to morality which I feel are more important when choosing leaders and making policies. Aren't there moral aspects to the decision to go to war and put American men and women at risk? Aren't there moral aspects to really supporting them with necessary equipment and good medical care here at home, should they need it? Aren't there moral aspects to economic policies? Aren't there moral aspects to respecting our civil liberties?

I am a Liberal because I truly do love this country, contrary to what some might suggest. I want this country to be great for all her citizens.

Blessings to all and a Happy and Blessed Easter to all who celebrate.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Poverty and Economic Inequality II

Have you noticed it seems to be harder and harder to "make it" in this country? Many work more than one job to make ends meet. It's more difficult now for small, independent stores to be successful. I've lost track of local businesses that just weren't able to continue operating. Along with giving people more economic stress, I feel we're also losing something. If everything is a franchise or a branch of a chain, we're becoming more homogenized, losing local character and color. Decisions will be made in corporate headquarters that may not be the best ideas for local situations. And of course, our choices are becoming more limited, since not all manufacturers can meet the demands of big retailers.

Here's a very thought provoking article by Richard Manning who writes from Montana. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Birdie!

I keep saying that businesspeople need to take a cue from Henry Ford. I wouldn't call Ford a great humanitarian, but he did possess a good sense of pragmatism. When asked why he paid his workers as much as he did, he replied that he wanted them to be able to afford the cars they were making. I wish we had more of that mentality today. As many have said, the minimum wage needs to become a living wage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Genuineness and Messy Democracy

I really appreciate genuineness. I love people who come across as real, flaws and all. A big problem with politicians is that there seems to be so little genuineness shown. Everyone seems to be afraid to be real. They might alienate some block of voters, they might alienate a special interest, or the opposition might seize on it and use it somehow against them. The conventions are so stage-managed and scripted today. The Democrats were really concerned someone might go "off message". Maybe a good "floor fight" might not be such a bad thing!

Does anyone remember the show "Mr. Sterling" (it only lasted a shortened season)? I particularly remember the episode in which the research of Sterlings' friend was taken out of context - which made the friend appear to be racist. Sterling was going to vote FOR him in a confirmation hearing, but his chief of staff said, "It's not about the truth anymore." She said it was all about appearance. I was struck by the fact that NO character in the show challenged that! It seems to be exactly like that in real life. Truth too often takes a back seat. For example, I could not get over how those "Swift Boat" veterans were given any credence at all!

I would love to see no more political posturing, a real discussion of issues, and a true desire to make things progress for ordinary Americans. Amy Gutman, President of University of Pennsylvania, champions what she calls "collaborative democracy". She says it can be messy - there can be very spirited, even heated debates. However, voices are heard and collaborative solutions are sought. Congresspeople and legislators, are you listening?

Poverty and Economic Inequality

This topic honors the appearance of John Edwards on the Today show this morning to discuss his upcoming work on poverty issues.

Many people don't seem to believe the depth of the problem. Globally, it is a day-to-day concern of so many just trying to survive. A researcher, Milanovic, found that the richest 25% of the world's population receives 75% of the world's income. I found this in the atlas on inequality maintained by University of California Santa Cruz.

Closer to home, here in the U. S., only workers in the top 20% of wage earners experienced gains in real wages between 1973 and 1997. The top 20% of American wage earners in 2000 eaerned as much as the bottom 80% (that from the Census Bureau).

Edward Wolfe reported in "Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership 1983 - 1998", a study for the Jerome Levy Economic Institute (2000), that the top 1% of houesholds controls as much wealth as the bottom 95%!

All those statistics can seem overwhelming, even for this math professor! However, that is not the human face on the problem. And there are human faces. The human faces on the problem are the faces of people who come to my Church for a food bag on Tuesdays. The human faces on the problem are those of the community residents who humble themselves to request a Thanksgiving or Christmas basket so their families will have a better holiday. The human faces on the problem are those of students who can't afford to stay in college.

What can be done? I believe in the short run, we need to continue to support comunity outreach programs and keep our safety net intact (please, decision makers do not cut from food and nutrition programs). In the long run, we need to see that people get educated and see that there is something to aspire to beyond their present experience. One thing that bothers me as an educator is the poor condition of some of our schools - mostly in the inner cities. We want our young people to go to school, become educated, productive citizens. What kind of signal are we sending to them if their schools are dilapidated?

And I just have to wonder about this great disparity between the haves and the have-nots. I think about the few that have such great incomes. How many millions are enough? Couldn't some of those in the top 1% make do with, say a yearly income of 1 million instead of 2? 5 million instead of 10? How much food would that buy? How many police officers, firefighters, or teachers (ok, I am a bit biased here) could be paid?
I also wonder if tax cuts (which even the Wall St. Journal reported benefit mostly the wealthy) when we are facing a tight budget are really a good idea.
Some months ago, the Phila.Inquirer ran an article by Professor Robert H. Frank of Cornell. The article told of the economics and psychology of why the middle class is being squeezed. I e-mailed Prof. Frank to compliment him and received a nice reply that also made me sad. He said he had gotten many very vitriolic responses to his article. I don't understand why people are so uncivil! Online, I found a article based on one of his lectures which has a lot of the same information as the Inquirer arcticle and even more goodies. You can find it online . The website which hosts it has lots of resources for understanding issues relating to economic inequality.
John Edwards will be working on these issues and has started a thread on his blog for people to post their ideas on poverty issues. I posted (under the nickname everarden - if you can find it). If you go to his site, you will see a link to the blog.

I think I now know how to do links correctly.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Third Time's a Charm?

Ok - One more time...

Women Watch from U. N.

Another Try at the Link

I didn't quite get the link in correctly - you have to use HTML. Ok Here's another try:

U. N.'s WomenWatch site

The Status of Women

At the U. N. meeting recently, held to assess the progress of women throughout the world since the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women - it seems that progress hasn't been what many would have liked. Worldwide, so many women and children live in poverty a real indication that we should be working harder to change this. Many women still do not receive even an elementary school education. By educating girls and women more, communities and countries could feel the positive impact of women better able to make decisions as caregivers and better able to create better lives for themselves and their families.

I still can't believe that the U. S. still has not RATIFIED the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It seems reproductive rights is the stumbling block. In the meantime, the U. S. is not legally bound by its provisions and is not accountable for periodic reports on progress here!

One place to begin educating ourselves on these issues is the site maintained by the U. N.:

U. N.'s Women Watch

Sunday, March 20, 2005

More About this Blog

Here's just a few words about how this blog is set up. Feel free to make comments. To comment, click on the link below the post you wish to comment on (the link with a number followed by 'comment'). You will then get a page with a box in which to type your comment. You do not have to be a blogger to comment. Choose either the 'other' option or the 'anonymous' option.

Also, if you click on the 'view my complete profile' link in the about me section, you'll find a link to my web page and one to my e-mail.


Cinnamonblue's blog is now open! I hope to comment, post information, and start discussion on issues I feel are important in today's society. I feel the need to do this because I do not like the direction our country is heading. I am a Liberal, and an unapologetic one. During the last campaign, I was continually angered by seeing the word 'liberal' used as a derogatory term. I find this to be of much concern, for I feel it is an unhealthy political situation for one side to wear their label as a badge of honor, and let the label of the other side be trashed. I hope that more Liberals (especially any politicians who may read this) will stand up and not shrink from this label. If we do not shrink, my hope is that will be used to slur no longer. I hope to hear from many of you. All I ask is that we keep the discussion civil and treat each other with respect.