Tag Archives: America

Time for a discussion: Guns, mental health, violence

24 Hours Ago… So much can change in a 24 hour period.

Throughout the world, lives are lost each day due to diseases, wars, drugs, mental and eating disorders, famine, violent crimes and so much more. What makes today different is not only is this happening just after the other recent tragedies in a mall, a theater, hair salon, etc but these were children, teachers a principal and those there to help our children.

They lived in one of the top 10 places to live in America. School should be a safe zone. No hate, violence, bullying or fear of dying due to any senseless act of crime. Mental disorders or not. That is not a reason or excuse for violence.

People live with mental disorders everyday without causing harm. People have guns responsibly. The fact is, not everyone is held accountable. Not everyone is responsible with a gun or keeps it away from the wrong hands.

Not everyone has proper medical diagnosis, care and/or treatment for their mental illness. The discussions and resolutions can’t be avoided. Prayers shouldn’t have to continuously go out for lives lost and communities affected by tragedy.

Prayers and attention need to focus on one thing, SAVING LIVES.

Put the politics aside.

People deserve to live and people deserve proper medical attention.

Side note:

I wanted to post this now but I was working on an article following the recent shooting in Clackamas…then this happened, the shooting at an elementary school. I will follow this up with a further article.

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Worldwide, people have been affected in different ways. 

It is time for a discussion.

Views and Beliefs vs. Rights and Freedoms

I appreciate people’s views, opinions and concerns. I think those are what have driven America’s progress the most. Without those voices of the past, we would not have the freedoms to have our voices heard today.

However we share our voices, whether it be through writing, TV, radio or to those around us. The fact is, we have the desire within us to be heard and in this country, we have the right.

In many countries, that is not the case. Those rights did not come to us without fight and by others giving up their freedoms and their lives. How we use those rights and our freedoms should never be taken lightly.

I have always been one to see things through the eyes of many, not just myself. I believe that one’s freedom can not be enjoyed with another person enslaved. Justice is not won if an injustice is being done and ignored. I see that and I do not take that lightly. That is why I do what I do.

Choice is a freedom. Choice is the ability to make a decision. For someone to take that away is to take a freedom away and we have fought too long to earn those rights.

In today’s politics, it seems like there are sides. People are choosing or picking who will win this election. It is much more than sides or winners and losers. When people vote without knowing what they have to gain or lose, they have already lost. And, when people vote for a candidate knowing their win will mean freedoms are lost, what does that say about America’s freedoms? How easy is it for us to give up the freedoms of others when we feel it does not agree with our beliefs?

What if that were the way America started to work? No more separation of church and state? Church telling government how to make the laws and government telling churches to pay up taxes and what they can and cannot preach. Church and state getting into conflicts over schools. Haven’t we crossed that path?

It is called progress. It has enabled us to allow people to make choices, to find the way to move forward equally, allowing freedom of religions and freedom of speech in a nation that is more diverse than any other nation in the world.

Who would want to back up progress that has already been made? Who would want to repeat history when those times of turmoil have been fought and lives have been lost so that we can be where we are today?

We have chosen to move forward and live in a nation of progress that believes our diversity is a value and with freedom, we have more opportunity. Our country has shown how valuable freedom is and in turn, it cannot truly feel free until it is shared by everyone. Humanity is one.

 

America’s road to the White House – 2012 Edition

Get out and vote!

As we countdown to the elections, there have been many moments that stand out. There are great moments, confusing moments and those moments that will be remembered forever.

There couldn’t be a more important time in America for people to come together and hear out what each side is saying at their campaign rallies, conventions, the upcoming debates and really be able to make an informed decision in November.

This is not an election of which Party to put into the White House but a choice of a leader for our Nation as we continue to work on strengthening our economy, building a better future for our children, putting quality and affordable healthcare in the reach of everyone, advancing our educational system to stay competitive in the world and making sure our service members, military families and veterans have their needs looked after from the time they enlist and each day after.

To lead America into the next 4 years, it means leading and listening to ALL Americans while respecting their lives and the diverse backgrounds many come from as well as the diversity within the United States of America. Without this diversity in our Nation, our great Country wouldn’t be what it is today. Pride in our Country starts with pride in its people.

There have been many speakers at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida and now the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. There has been a great deal of finger pointing, looking back at what hasn’t worked, talking to an empty chair (?) and in the Republican Convention there was a great deal of what seemed to be self promotional speeches.

The fact is, this is a time to make a point, take responsibility, state what their nominee’s plan is to move forward and nominate the person for each Party. At the end of these conventions, voters should know more about what each candidate would do to improve the lives of the American people as well as lay out some type of an idea for their overall policies. Give a glimpse into the future if they were to be the one sworn in as President of the United States in January 2013. This is not a race to win or a “family feud” of sorts. This is serious business. Can this person lead? Can this person represent the American people?

When it comes down to it, the decisions made in the past have laid down the groundwork for opportunities today.  Without strong leaders, much of what our Nation is known for would not be in existence today. Many freedoms we often take for granted would not have come about. To be a great leader means working to improve the present while also taking into account lives in the future, not taking for granted what has been fought for in the past and respecting those who have given of themselves for the freedoms we have today.

Between now and election, there will be a LOT of targeted ads running on TV. A good deal of them are being put out from special interest groups saying they “represent” one side or the other. Their point is not to give facts but to get votes. They don’t care if they are misguided votes. A vote is a vote. They have money to spend and they aren’t spending it to educate the American public.

In today’s age of technology, it has never been easier to sit down and watch a speech, debate, read a full dialogue or look up anything a person may have missed during the day or week. Why take someone’s word for what was said? See things, in full for yourself. A vote shouldn’t be made based on emails received, clips on the news, coworkers ideas or based on Party affiliation.

Each candidate has their own website and many of their speeches are posted shortly after they are given along the campaign trail. This enables voters to see for themselves what is happening as voting day gets closer.

Romney/Ryan Campaign 2012

Obama/Biden Campaign 2012

Every vote matters. Are you registered? Each state has different deadlines to register prior to elections. Check here for deadlines and registration.

Question: Have you been watching the conventions? RNC or DNC? Both? What have your favorite moments been?

Here is a video clip from the #DNC2012 of President Bill Clinton speaking. This is the first time ever a former President has nominated a President. This is a MUST SEE speech.

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

America’s best days are ahead

"Sea to Shining Sea"
Photo by: dgroup

In our homes, our neighborhood schools, local businesses, communities and across our nation there have been conversations about the need for improvements in many areas of day to day life and the future of America.

Although when traveling through American cities or the rural communities which link our nation together, things may appear at first glance to be different, most Americans have the same basic needs in life and many share the same values and goals; family, home and having a better future for their children.

However, it’s not the differences within these communities that bring the divide to the nation. The diversity of cultures, religions and race have made America a nation that stands out unlike every other country in the world. These differences however can also be used as a tool to bring weakness and divide.

Many issues our country continues to face have come about through history and in instances, such as slavery, laws have been enacted after many lives were lost and many injustices were carried out but also heroes came to the forefront of our American culture to show that good can triumph over evil if people are willing to get involved and stand up for what is right even when it may not be popular or have anything to gain for them personally or may possibly bring them physical harm even costing their life.

Through history, lessons can be learned and the worst possible thing to do would be to revert back to old ways or act as though they never happened.

History should never have to repeat itself to prove wrong doesn’t make right and to again show one human is not above another human, not by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or economic standing.

Instead, as American and World History are taught in our schools, it should include the fact these lessons in history can and should be what makes America a stronger nation and each culture and religion represented in America should be the ties that bind us as an even greater, more unique nation of the future with goals that represent our strengths and ambitions and look out for the humanity of everyone across our nation.

On Saturday, January 8th our nation suffered a tremendous tragedy in Tucson, Arizona when a 22 year old man opened fire at a shopping center, shooting a U.S. Representative, a Federal Judge, and 9 year old girl as well as countless others in a few short moments. In the end, 20 people were shot and 6 lost their lives including one of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ aides, Gabe Zimmerman, Federal Judge – John Roll, Dorwan Stoddard – who used his body to shield his wife from being killed, Dorothy Morris – who was there with her husband of 55 years, also shot but survived, Phyllis Schneck – a loving mother and grandmother who loved her community, and Christina Green – a 9 year old who wanted to meet her Congresswoman and someday participate in Government.

The news of this horrific event ripped through the media on TV, radio, online social media, etc. causing a great deal of grief, confusion, anger, unity, memories, panic, just so many different emotions.

An outpouring of prayers and wishes poured out across America for the families of the victims and those who had suffered injuries and were being rushed to nearby hospitals. So many questions were being asked but there were very few available answers.

Different news agencies were trying to gather facts and at times, there were reports coming in and then being reversed due to wrong information. There was also a great deal of information coming in that was being driven by emotion and reaction but not backed up by facts because the shooter hadn’t talked nor had enough time passed to give investigators an opportunity to put together the facts.

What happened in Tucson, Arizona is an inexcusable tragedy and by no means can be something that defines who America is but what America, as a nation, is not.

For those who used their media outlet and time before this awful event to campaign Americans against Americans will hopefully see America is a United Nation. For those who look at our nation as citizens against their government, America is a civilized democracy.

People can have different ideas, different goals and debates but as a people, Americans should be looking out for the good of one person as much as for the good of another person, one family as much as for the good of another family.

Americans should look past each other’s party, race, religion, Ethnicity and to each other’s goals, ideas, needs and future and see it as America’s future, their future.

America’s best days are ahead. It is within this great nation, our great nation to accomplish what is needed to move forward and to move ahead into the future. The idea is to work alongside each other and alongside other nations, to draw on our strengths and not focus on the weakness of others.

Our nation is made up of our people, all of our people and for America to truly be as great as it can be, our nation must unite and work together for the common goals of everyone.

As different as many may be, that is also our strength when used correctly and for the right purpose.

In the face of tragedy, unity is often seen, but everyday unity can be shown.

Examiner link

112th Congress – Now what?

Speaker of the House, John Boehner
Photo by: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

This week marks the beginning of the 112th congress. As of noon on Wednesday, January 5th, the House of Representatives is now a Republican majority and Rep. John Boehner was elected Speaker of the House.

Throughout the campaigning in the summer and fall, many promises were made by the GOP as to what they would do if the American voters would just give them another chance. The American voters not only gave them another chance but the GOP has the majority vote, at least in the House.

In a speech made from his hometown in Ohio on October 8, 2010, Rep. John Boehner vowed the GOP would get people back to work. He told those in the crowd, “This speech is about jobs, because this coming election is about jobs.”

Was it just the election? Since the election and their big win, not much discussion has been about jobs and the desperate need of the American people getting back to work.

A major goal of the GOP going into congress seems to be focused on repealing healthcare, which for those who deal with healthcare, need healthcare and/or have taken the time to understand Healthcare Reform know this is a big mistake. If the GOP wants to do anything with healthcare, work together and build on what is there to make it better, stronger.

Just today, the CBO – Congressional Budget Office has said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) repealing healthcare will add $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade and leave 32 million fewer people with insurance and raise cost for those covered by insurance. See the CBO Director’s detailed report on his blog here.

Millions of Americans are driven to bankruptcy each year due to not having health insurance or their health insurance carrier working against them through “loopholes” such as saying their condition was pre-existing or they had reached their lifetime payout amount so the insurance company is no longer required to cover anymore costs.

These are just two examples of “loopholes” insurance companies have used. There are plenty of stories of how insurance companies have basically ripped off their customers after years of paying premiums only to leave them without coverage when it was time to pay a claim.

Currently there are millions of Americans needing jobs. They need jobs and healthcare. This will help the American economy, American families and help get America back on track.

Why is the new congress coming in and trying to undo one of the greatest advancements that have been made over the past few decades instead of helping the American voters as they promised? Is it due to not having a plan on how to do what they have promised?

Help create jobs. Help promote hiring of jobless Americans.

Instead of working to repeal healthcare, work to make things better for those who elected you into office, the American voters in the towns across America.

Start with improving Washington and the ability of its elected officials being able to work together and get things done in an appropriate amount of time, appropriate in the eyes of the American people, the voters. Have press conferences about solutions and advancements, not about conflicts, broken promises and how the other party is unwilling to work with one another. Make it work.

Make America work by getting Americans back to work.

Follow and subscribe to my articles over on my Examiner Page

TSA: Protecting America?

Over 600 million people fly each year <BR> Photo by: Andrei Dimofte

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created shortly after 9/11 as a part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act passed by the U.S. Congress.Prior to its creation, airport security screening was handled by private companies through contracts.



TSA also oversees the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS). Air Marshals blend in with other passengers on boarded flights using their training to detect criminals and/or terrorists behavior and can react with precise firearm accuracy if needed.

Before 9/11, the U.S. felt different to most people and although time has passed, the desire of those wanting to do harm inside the U.S. and to American citizens has not. There are continuous threats.

As time has passed, there have been further incidents of people trying to bring things on board planes to bring them down over U.S. soil. Although these attempts have not been successful, some of them have gotten more media attention than others.

Most people have heard about the “Underwear bomber” and his attempt to bring down an American Airline plane over Detroit in December 2009. Al Qaeda took credit for this attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23 year old Nigerian.

The bomb packet was six inches long and sewn in his underwear containing a highly explosive chemical, PETN weighing approximately 80 grams, enough to blow a hole in the side of a plane.

In December 2001, Richard Reid, also known as the “Shoe Bomber” tried to detonate a bomb in his shoes aboard his flight from Paris to Miami but due to the smell of smoke and his having difficulty lighting the fuse, he was subdued by several passengers, administered a tranquilizer and arrested upon arrival at Logan International Airport. The chemical found in his shoe was also PETN weighing about 50 grams, also enough to bring down a plane.

TSA continues to adapt in order to protect the nation’s transportation systems. That is not a clear or set strategy that can or should be spelled out and released because part of real security is the unknown and the inability for someone with a desire to do harm to preplan their moves through security measures.

It is understandable that people have felt uncomfortable with changes or certain parts of security procedures but blaming this on the TSA is not taking into account what they have already prevented from happening and continue to set out to prevent.

TSA officers have stopped countless weapons, chemicals, drugs and wanted criminals from boarding airlines. News coverage typically covers only the negative events as seen in these past few days and weeks and most recently since 23 year old John Tyner told a TSA officer, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

John Tyner had first checked on TSA’s website to see if the airport he would be flying out of had the full body scan machines as he didn’t want to go through one. He said the website didn’t list his airport. When he arrived at the airport and realized they did use the full body scanners, he tried to stay in a line that would use the metal detectors. But, he was called out to go through the full body scanner.

He then used his cell phone to record the rest and refused the full body scanners and as the dialogue went on he was told he would have a “pat down” instead. After speaking to a supervisor about not wanting the pat down and being told he wouldn’t be able to fly without one, he said, “I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying.”

Going to the airport and preparing to fly out does mean a person will go through security measures and can be put through random and continuous security searches. When buying a ticket and arriving at the airport, this is made very clear.

The point is security is more secure with not knowing every detail prior to the actual arrival at the checkpoint. TSA has been very upfront with the possibilities of what procedures travelers may encounter however. These procedures have been put into place for good reason and that is to protect America and every person flying.

Terrorists have figured out how to make bombs using things that won’t show up in standard metal detectors, wands or screening belts at airports.

Keeping America safe is a priority for everyone. It shouldn’t take another 9/11 or a single incident of a few lives lost on a flight to raise awareness of how important raised security is to be taken seriously and to understand it is for the benefit of every traveler, everyone family member of those traveling and every employee at the airport. Many lives are affected by decisions being made at those checkpoints.

In America, profiling is not an option in many circumstances other than by behaviors of odd ticket purchasing techniques, luggage check- in or the lack of, one way travel, cash purchases and many more behavior detection profiling that may cause concern but security works on many levels and a great number of officers are watching passenger behavior as well.

TSA also works internationally with many other countries to ensure international rules are clear and consistent to enable passenger clarity and therefore safer flying.

It is being said that the new full body scans or the new enhanced pat-down procedure is going too far and this is causing quite a bit of hype and anger.

Airports, across the country this week, will have millions of holiday travelers which is already a concern to security and families waiting for their loved ones to arrive.

On Wednesday, which is one of the busiest traveling days of the year, online groups are calling for a National Opt-Out Day in response to TSA’s new enhanced security techniques. Their idea is for people to opt out of the full body scanner forcing TSA officers to pat them down.
According to Jim Babb, co-founder of this National Opt-Out Day, this should cause chaos at airport checkpoints and deliver a message to agency officials, politicians and the airline industry.

This is unimaginable that anyone would want to cause any type of chaos at an airport especially with the intention to cause issues with security measures and even more appalling is the desire to do this after what happened on 9/11. This is putting peoples’ lives at risk intentionally or at least asking others to do so as Jim Babb has said he will not be traveling on Wednesday.

Over 600 million people fly each year along with millions of bags that go along with them. It is up to TSA’s officers at 700 checkpoints using the latest techniques and up-to-date technology to stop the unthinkable. However, what is unthinkable to one is in the planning stages to another.

Terrorists continue to threaten America and Americans abroad. One life lost is one life too many. Security is everyone’s responsibility.