Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for August, 2011

Massage Gratitude

My mother gifted my sweetheart and I some massages throughout the year and it has been such a blessing. We are very grateful. Not only for the massages, but also for the person who has graced us with her presence and touch.

Cathy, at Nourish in Santa Cruz, has been fantastic. No matter how stressed or uptight we are, she is able to provide her golden touch and knowledge and go right to the places that need the most work. Within a short time, we here ourselves saying “Ahhhhh”, taking deep breathes and sinking deeper into relaxation.

It’s not always easy to find someone that has just the right amount of experience and intuition and is able to provide just the right amount of pressure – strong, but gentle. Luckily, we have found her or perhaps she found us. Who’s to say?

We are well aware that most people do not have this luxury and wish everyone did. Being touched and cared for physically can make such a difference with everything else. We are grateful, not only for my mother’s gift, but also for Cathy and all those like her, who bring a little more peace to the world.

Blood for Oil In Syria

By Stephanie B. at Avaaz.org.

For months, Syria’s brutal President Assad has paid henchmen to wage war on his own people. Governments across the world have condemned these atrocities, but key European leaders could cut off the cash flow that finances this bloodbath.

Germany, France and Italy are the three main importers of Syrian oil. If they move to impose immediate EU sanctions, Assad’s slaughter funds will dry up. Assad has ignored political appeals for him to rein in his assault, and EU leaders have discussed ramping up sanctions, but only a massive global outcry will push them to act urgently.

We have no time to lose — every day dozens of Syrians are shot, tortured or disappeared simply for calling for basic democratic rights. The EU can stop funding the crackdown now. Click below to sign the petition to EU heads of state to immediately adopt oil sanctions on Syria:

www.avaaz.org

We have all watched and read about the horrific violence in Syria — much of the coverage coming from Avaaz-supported citizen journalists who are risking their lives to report on Assad’s crackdown. And now we have a chance to turn our horror into action. Experts say EU oil sanctions will seriously disrupt cash flow to Assad’s cruel army without significant negative consequences to either the European economy or the Syrian people.

Almost all Syria’s exported oil is purchased and refined by Germany, France and Italy, but these governments have yet to use their key trade relationship with Assad as leverage to protect the Syrian people. Still, they have denounced the violence, and newspapers report that some EU leaders are already pushing for oil sanctions. Let’s demand that they ramp up the pressure and push through oil sanctions immediately and cut the engine of Assad’s murderous regime.

Avaaz members have played a crucial role in supporting Syrians in their demands for freedom, democracy and human rights. Much of the footage and information shown around the world is funded by small donations from Avaaz members worldwide. Let’s build the momentum for lasting change as the violence against the Syrian people escalates and insist the EU take immediate action now.

With hope – Stephanie, Pascal, Morgan, Alice, Ricken, Wissam and the rest of the Avaaz team.

Visit Azaaz.org and do what you can.

Protect Native American Women

By Angela T. Chang (Amnesty International, USA)

August 9th, was the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – a day that is meant to honor ethnic groups around the world who are native to a particular land or region.

However, as the US Congress comes under pressure to cut the deficit and drastically reduce spending, Native communities could be left without the necessary resources to fight the epidemic of rape and sexual violence perpetrated against Native women and girls.

TAKE ACTION

You may recall that one of our most historic victories in 2010 was when President Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act into law. This was a hard-fought battle championed by tribal leaders, Native advocates, and Amnesty members like you.

The Tribal Law and Order Act begins to empower tribal governments, address jurisdictional challenges and improve the agencies, programs and policies that have failed to protect, prevent and respond to Native American and Alaskan Native women survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

It is these very lifelines – the already chronically underfunded agencies and programs tasked with ensuring the safety and well-being of tribal communities – that Congress is threatening to cut…unless they hear from you first!

Support the funding that keeps America’s indigenous communities safe from rape and sexual violence.

With Congress in recess – and Congressional members’ at home in their local districts hearing the needs and priorities of their constituents (you!) – the time to strike is now!

So celebrate today by raising your voice in honor of America’s Indigenous peoples.

We fought to get legislation such as the Tribal Law and Order Act on the books, and there’s no better day than this one to fight to keep its legacy and purpose alive!

With Hope,

Angela T. Chang
Government Relations Associate Director
Amnesty International USA

TAKE ACTION

Chike and the River

From New York Journal of Books.

Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans | Released: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Anchor (96 pages)

“In Chike and the River, young readers get an intimate look at African life, learn about the Niger River, and connect with Chike as if he is their own sibling. The brilliance of Mr. Achebe’s prose is his ability to make a reader feel like an omniscient sprite on Chike’s shoulder: along for the ride and privy to all that he senses and sees.”

This is a simple, powerful and hopeful story that provides an inside view into Nigeria and Africa. Chike and the River (originally published in South Africa by Cambridge University Press in 1966) tells the tale of a young man who leaves his small village of Umuofia to live with his uncle in the “big city” of Onitsha.

In Chike and the River, young readers get an intimate look at African life, learn about the Niger River, and connect with Chike as if he is their own brother.

Before Chike leaves for the city, his mother (head of a single-parent household that includes two sisters and Chike) gives him the same advice given by parents around the world about how to be safe and how to act with others.

The fact that he misses her greatly in the beginning, but soon gets lost in his new environment and its ways, gives more credence and reality to the transitions in his life, from small village to big city and from a young boy to a young man.

Chike’s burgeoning excitement about living in a city is dampened by the reality of having countless numbers of families packed into every room and only two latrines in their yard for fifty people. He also feels a greater sense of isolation with folks not knowing their neighbors. On the other hand, he greatly revels in more sights, activities, and many new friends at school.

Read complete review at New York Journal of Books.

The Chocolate Wallop

Excerpt from Luscious Chocolate Smoothies: An irresistible collection of healthy cocoa delights. By Gabriel Constans

The Chocolate Wallop

Yields: 4 Cups

1/4 cup low-fat soy milk
2 cups orange juice
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup cashew bits
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup mango slices
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on medium for 2 1/2 minutes.

Pour into tall glasses and serve with bravado.

Per Cup: Calories 235; Protein 5 g; Total Fat 8 g; Saturated Fat 1 g; Carbohydrate 40 g; Cholesterol 0 mg.

Get all the recipes, jokes and cocoa facts at: Luscious Chocolate Smoothies.

Same As The Others

An Excerpt from ROP Stories by Sean Jones.

I an a Child, Same as the Others

Back in May we held a Celebration for Africa Day of the Child. During the ceremony one of our boys, Lucky, read a poem to the audience. Lucky is one of our boys who has been living at the ROP Center for many years. This is his final year with us as he is graduating from secondary school in December. He is the Center’s most talented performer, having written and performed many poems and songs about the lives of street children, songs that the children and staff request at virtually every celebration we have.

Lucky read his poem in Ikinyarwanda, so I didn’t understand much of it, but the children in the crowd, both ours from the ROP and others in attendance, cheered loudly after he finished reading it, so I knew it must have had meaning to them. A few days later I asked Lucky if he would mind translating it to English for me. He seemed very excited that I had asked and very enthusiastically promised to do it. Due to his school commitments he wasn’t able to sit down and take the time to write it in English until last week. He found me and handed it to me with a great smile on his face. I thanked him for it and asked if I could share it with the world. His reply was, “Of course, it’s for everyone.”

Despite the struggling English the poem hit me straight in the heart. It’s simple and genuine and even in its brevity you can’t help but get an idea of the pain these children must feel, and the hope they somehow find in life once someone, anyone, offers to help them. That’s all I say. I’ll let you make your own judgments.

Read entire story, Lucky’s poem and see more photos at ROP STORIES.

Illegal Doctorate?

Excerpt from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Academic Purgatory: An illegal immigrant earns a Ph.D.Now what? By Ilan Stavans

Jorge Arbusto isn’t the type of person who seeks the limelight. In fact, for years he has thrived in the shadows. But ask him today what he wants, and his answer is unequivocal: to be recognized.

A sweet, passionate, steadfast student originally from Mexico, Jorge (his name has been changed for this article) may be the only undocumented immigrant to successfully defend a doctoral dissertation in the United States. Certainly he is among a very small group. Yet his case poses questions that not only affect thousands of undergraduates today—some sources put it at around 50,000—but also challenge our ideas about hard work, the choices that colleges do or should make, the value of education (for students and society), and, yes, that thorn in our political side—immigration and the Dream Act, which is still stalled in Congress.

Having defended his dissertation on Spanish-language popular culture, Jorge received his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies this past spring. To reach this point, he has gone through astonishing hardships, which include beatings and imprisonment, not to mention the shame that comes with being illegal. He has endured all by focusing on achieving the highest academic degree. But now he may not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor: No university I know of will offer him a full-time, permanent position.

Jorge is a criminal with a Ph.D. Is that what America stands for, education without reward?

Read complete article at: The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Recess in Rwanda

An excerpt from a story written by Sean Jones for ROP Stories. ROP Stories is the sister site to the Rwandan Orphan’s Project (ROP Center for Street Children)

Recess at the ROP School

We all remember recess, that wonderful time we couldn’t wait for when we could temporarily forget about listening to our teachers, taking notes and waiting to go outside to play. Well it’s no different at the Rwandan Orphans Project’s school. Every day at 10 o’clock the Commissioner of Education – the boy chosen by his peers to assist the teachers – blows his whistle and within seconds children begin fleeing their classrooms.

Most of the older boys like to take this time to play volleyball on our makeshift court. Landouard, one of our teachers, usually comes out and takes on the job of referee and coach. This generally prevents arguing over rules and points that inevitably occurs when the boys are left on their own.

The small boys usually divide up into two groups; those who wants to play games like cards and igisoro and those who want to play sports. Several of them who choose sports play football, but there is also a group of boys who like to practice gymnastics by jumping and flipping around. This usually turns into a game of oneupmanship as each boy tries to do something too difficult for the others to replicate.

Read the rest of this great story, plus additional photos at: ROP STORIES.

Stop Somalia’s Tragedy

From AVAAZ.org: The World In Action.

Dear friends,

More than 2000 people are dying every day in Somalia, in a famine that threatens to starve more than eleven million people to death. Conflict between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab regime and world leaders has kept out aid that could end the famine. But a few key countries have the power to broker a deal to stop the suffering.

Sign the urgent petition for a humanitarian truce and forward to everyone: AVAAZ.ORG

The famine-hit area is governed by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist regime that is linked to terrorist groups. The isolation and conflict between Al-Shabaab, other local leaders, and the international community has kept out much of the aid and trade that could end the famine. But a few key countries, including the United Arab Emirates, still trade with Al-Shabaab — they have an opportunity to broker a deal with the regime and break the stalemate that threatens the survival of millions.

We cannot let the politics of the war on terror claim any more innocent lives. It’s time for the international community and Al-Shabaab to come to an agreement to immediately get food to the suffering Somali people. The UN Security Council is meeting in a few days — let’s demand that they take immediate action to support key Arab nations in an effort to open talks with Al-Shabaab on cooperating to end the famine and seize this chance for a long-term political solution.

Somalia’s government was destroyed in 2006 by a US-backed invasion which feared Islamic extremism. But the tactic backfired. Since then, even more radical groups like Al-Shabaab took over and brutalized most of Somalia, and the international community has propped up a corrupt government whose control is limited to parts of the capital. The policies of isolation, invasion and pressure in the war on terror have not helped anyone, and now thousands of Somalis are dying every day. It’s time for a new approach.

The US has already stepped up to tackle the crisis, relaxing anti-terrorism laws that blocked aid from reaching the Somali people in Al-Shabaab’s region. Meanwhile, there are growing cracks within insurgent groups, and some leaders are willing to let aid in. But it is not enough to break the wall that surrounds those hardest hit by famine. Only bold international diplomacy can engage with all key parties to ensure that relief safely reaches the hundreds of thousands of desperate families.

One of Al-Shabaab’s largest sources of income comes from cutting down acacia trees for charcoal, which they illegally export primarily to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. These nations could now leverage their economic ties to Al-Shabaab to play a crucial diplomatic role and guarantee humanitarian access to famine-stricken areas.

We urgently need a new direction for Somalia — let’s appeal to the UN Security Council to support key Gulf countries to lead mediation efforts to ensure that Somalis dying behind Al-Shabaab’s lines are able to access life-saving food and health care for themselves and their starving children.

Together, Avaaz members have ensured crucial aid was delivered in Burma, Haiti and Pakistan after natural disasters, saving thousands of lives. Now, as the world watches heartbreaking images of dying children in shock and horror, we can urge key countries to show the leadership the Somali people urgently need — let’s stand together now and help end the tragedy in Somalia.

With hope and determination,

Luis, Stephanie, Maria Paz, Emma, Ricken, Giulia, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

TAKE ACTION AT AVAAZ.ORG

Dirty Tar Sands Pipeline

From CommonDreams.org.

Published on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 by The Narcosphere

Indigenous Peoples: Civil Disobedience to Halt Dirty Tar Sands Pipeline in US. At the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering, First Nations activists announce civil disobedience to halt dirty Tar Sands pipeline in US. by Brenda Norrell

NEW TOWN, North Dakota –The resistance to the dirty Tar Sands announced plans for civil disobedience in Washington to send a message to the Obama Administration to halt a plan for use of the dirtiest oil on the planet, which threatens natural resources and humanity in North America, including Indian country.

Speaking at the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering, Clayton Thomas Muller said civil disobedience is planned for Washington to challenge the Obama Administration and US State Department, now presiding over a key decision regarding dirty oil from the tar sands pipeline, the proposed TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline.

Muller said if this pipeline is allowed to proceed from Canada to the Gulf Coast, it would cross sacred lands and endanger Indian country resources, including the Lakota aquifer.

“It is an absolutely insane plan, especially in a time of climate change,” Muller said, adding that already Gulf Coast industries are getting ready for this dirty oil.

Muller spoke to Indigenous Peoples gathered from as far away as Guatemala, Mexico and Canada, at the Indigenous Environmental Network’s 16th Annual Protecting Mother Earth Gathering, July 28-31, 2011, in New Town, North Dakota, which included two workshops on halting destruction from the Alberta Tar Sands. Navajos came who are fighting coal-fired power plants and the draining of their aquifers by Peabody Coal, while Wixarika (Huicholes) came to join forces to halt mining by First Majestic Silver Corp. in Vancouver, BC, from destroying their sacred mountains.

Read Complete Story at CommonDreams.org

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