Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for January, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Be part of the solution.
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Creating a better world with the 2 most abundant resources on earth: solar power and people power.

Vote Solar works at the federal, state and local level to implement the policies and programs that build robust solar markets — and pave the way for a transition to a renewable energy economy.

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Vote Solar is a national nonprofit organization working to bring solar into the mainstream with grassroots action and technical expertise.

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America’s energy problems — from economic crisis to global climate change — will only be solved by a national transition to renewables. Clean, homegrown, reliable solar energy is ready to play a large part of the solution. It is the fastest growing energy source in the world, but we have still just scratched the surface of solar’s vast energy potential. In order to bring the technology to scale, we need to bring down costs. Vote Solar works to build the economies of scale necessary to bring solar into the mainstream.

The Vote Solar Initiative on Facebook
The Vote Solar Initiative Web Site

Classes With Deena Metzger

Wednesday Night Writing Class, Creative Writing Mentoring and Manuscript Consultations with award-winning writer Deena Metzger.

Writing classes, creative writing mentoring and manuscript consultations are among the many ways to work with Deena Metzger in 2013, either in person or by telephone or via Skype.

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Winner of a 2012 PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award for her latest novel, La Negra y Blanca, Deena says, “Everyone has a story and it calls to be known and written. It is at the very center of our lives. It is our heart story and it can guide us. It arises from the imagination, a real place, like a council that holds all the voices, including our ancestors and descendants.”

Wednesday Night Experienced Writer Group
First Wednesday night aft the new moon. 7 to 10:30 pm.

Possibly a few openings for seasoned writers, contemplating or working on a project, who are devoted to the word and are interested in further exploring and developing their creative lives and voice for the sake of soul, intelligence and literature. Commitment to the ethics of heart, truthfulness and the myriad forms of beauty.

On-going. January through June. September (or October) through December. Fee.

Application required. Inquire via Danelia Wild for details.
Email: dwild4deena(at)ca(dot)rr(dot)com.

Creative Writing Mentoring and Manuscript Consultations
By Appointment

Please inquire for scheduling and fees.

Deena Metzger’s website

For information or to apply

Additional information, please contact Deena Metzger’s assistant, Danelia Wild at 310-815-1060.

U.S. Healthcare Near the Bottom

U.S. Healthcare Worse Than Almost All Other Industrialized Countries
by Carey L. Brown
Inter Press Service/Nation of Change
11 January 2013

U.S. citizens suffer from poorer health than nearly all other industrialized countries, according to the first comprehensive government analysis on the subject, released Wednesday.

Of 17 high-income countries looked at by a committee of experts sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the United States is at or near the bottom in at least nine indicators.

These include infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, and adolescent pregnancies, as well as more systemic issues such as injuries, homicides, and rates of disability.

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Together, such issues place U.S. males at the very bottom of the list, among those countries, for life expectancy; on average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost four fewer years than those in the top-ranked country, Switzerland. U.S. females fare little better, ranked 16th out of the 17 high-income countries under review.

“We were stunned by the propensity of findings all on the negative side – the scope of the disadvantage covers all ages, from babies to seniors, both sexes, all classes of society,” Steven H. Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the panel that wrote the report, told IPS.

“It’s unclear whether some of these patterns will be experienced by other countries in the years to come, but developing countries will undoubtedly begin facing some of these issues as they take on more habits similar to the United States. Currently, however, even countries in the developing world are outpacing the U.S. in certain outcomes.”

Although the new findings offer a uniquely comprehensive view of the problem, the fact is that U.S. citizens have for decades been dying at younger ages than those in nearly all other industrialized countries. The committee looked at data going back to the 1970s to note that such a trend has been worsening at least since then, with women particularly affected.

“A particular concern with these findings was about adolescents, about whom we document very serious issues that, again, stand out starkly from other counties,” Woolf says.

Beyond insurance

The unusually high levels of population who lack health insurance in the U.S. would certainly seem to be one factor at work here. In 2010, some 50 million people, around 16 percent of the population, were uninsured – a massive proportion compared with the rest of the world’s high-income countries.

Of course, after a rancorous debate and more than a decade of political infighting, in 2010 President Barack Obama did succeed in putting in place broad legislation that will bring the number of uninsured in the United States down significantly.

Further, Obama’s winning of a second term in office, coupled with a recent decision by the Supreme Court, will now undercut most attempts by critics to roll back Obama’s new health-care provisions.

And yet, according to the new findings, the insurance issue has relatively little impact on the overall state of poor health in the United States. (In fact, those 75 years old or more can expect to live longer than those in other countries, a clear indication of the tremendous money and effort that has gone into end-of-life care.)

“Even advantaged Americans – those who are white, insured, college-educated, or upper income – are in worse health than similar individuals in other countries,” the report states. Likewise, “Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.”

Indeed, some of the few categories in which U.S. citizens are found to do better than their peers in other countries include smoking less tobacco and drinking less alcohol. They also appear to have gained greater control over their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

At the same time, people in the United States have begun to suffer inordinately from a host of other problems that can contribute to a spectrum of additional health concerns.

Sky-high obesity rates, for instance, are undergirded by findings that people in the U.S. on average consume more calories per person than in other countries, as well as analysis that suggest that the U.S. physical environment in recent decades has been built around the automobile rather than the pedestrian.

Health disadvantage

Confusingly, people in the United States not only record far lower health indicators on average when compared to other high-income countries, but also score far lower on seemingly unrelated issues related to environmental safety – for instance, experiencing inordinate numbers of homicide and car accidents.

The committee clearly had trouble putting together these seemingly disparate datasets.

“No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage,” the report states. “More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.”

According to Samuel Preston, a demographer and fellow committee member, “The bottom line is that we are not preventing damaging health behaviors. You can blame that on public health officials or on the health care system … but put it all together and it is creating a very negative portrait.”

Read entire article and other stories at Nation of Change.

For the Greater Good

Happy New Year!

G4_Thankyou2012_220x375There is perhaps nothing more satisfying — nor more motivating — than a celebration of good deeds accomplished in the name of charity. As we look back on 2012, we’re proud and grateful for all that we’ve accomplished together with you, our tireless supporters.

This past year, the largest hunger relief grants went to Feeding America to help hungry Americans in need of food bank assistance in all 50 states. Grants also went to Mercy Corps’ many hunger relief programs worldwide and Millennium Promise for their groundbreaking work in Africa.

In the spring and early fall, in response to tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, GreaterGood.org contributed to numerous local charities in the United States. And when Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast, GreaterGood.org grants supported the emergency assistance and clean up efforts provided by Team Rubicon and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Your commitment to children’s health and education was reflected in GreaterGood.org grants to Partners in Health, which focused on fighting cholera in Haiti, as well as providing vitamin A supplements and oral rehydration. Funding also supported pre-natal programs and midwifery services in Africa, Nepal, and Tibet, reducing infant mortality rates. Additional grants helped Splash’s (formerly A Child’s Right) efforts to provide clean water to schools and hospitals, HALO Trust’s work to assist in landmine removal, and Prosthetics Outreach Foundation’s surgical aid to children born with clubfoot.

Our longstanding support of vital literacy programs worldwide continued through our charity partners First Book and Room to Read. Contributions to the Nepal Youth Foundation, Community Partners International, Razia’s Ray of Hope, and Zabuli Education Center for girls in Deh’Sub helped provide girls with a valuable education. In many cases, contributions also saved children from a life of indentured servitude. Further grants also provided secondary education for young women in Africa, India, and Central Asia through nonprofits, such as Eliminate Poverty Now, CAMFED, Darfur Peace and Development Organization, and others.

Efforts to preserve or improve the health of our planet were strong in 2012. We are pleased to report that last year several of our charitable partners successfully completed projects to save endangered wildlife habitat.

With final land acquisition by the World Land Trust-US, the 6,000-acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve will protect some of Guatemala’s most endangered wildlife. In Africa, the new Laikipia National Park, created by the African Wildlife Foundation and Nature Conservancy, will give wide ranging animals like elephants, lions, and zebras the ability to move safely through open habitat that is not bisected by roads, fences, or other forms of development. More than 17,100 acres of previously privately held land were protected.

Also in 2012, additional grants funded wildlife rescue and preservation programs for big cats and marine mammals, as well as sanctuaries for threatened species like the Sumatran orangutan. Along with World Land Trust-US, GreaterGood.org ended the year with a concerted effort to save an additional 332 acres in the Serra Bonita rainforest of Brazil.

Support of these programs and other humanitarian efforts at The Hunger Site, The Child Health Site, The Literacy Site and The Rainforest Site totaled over $640,000 in 2012! These funds were raised thanks to the direct actions of supporters like you via our click-to-give websites, purchases and promotions at GreaterGood Network stores, and donations through the Gifts That Give More™ program or directly to GreaterGood.org.

When you add in all the good that was achieved in 2012, GreaterGood Network and GreaterGood.org has given nearly $30 million to charity since 1999 — proof that your efforts do make a difference. Let’s use these donation figures as inspiration and motivation to make 2013 our best year ever!

Best Wishes & Continued Gratitude,

Tim Kunin
CEO, GreaterGood Network
Greg Hesterberg,
President, GreaterGood Network
Liz Baker
Director, GreaterGood.org

On the Front Lines

She was a 23-year-old physical therapy student who boarded a bus in Delhi last month. Six men locked the door, and savagely raped her. They dumped her naked in the street, and after bravely fighting for her life, she died last weekend.

Across India, people are responding in massive protests to say enough is enough. In India a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and few see justice. Globally, a staggering 7 in 10 women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. This horror in Delhi is the last straw — it’s 2013, and the brutal, venal, global war on women must stop. We can start by drawing the line in India.

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The government is currently accepting public comments. We urgently need both stronger law enforcement and a massive public education program to change the grotesque but common male attitudes that permit violence against women. If 1 million of us join the call for action, we can help make this young woman’s horror the last straw, and the beginning of a new hope:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

The ringleader of the woman’s rapists coldly says she deserved it because she dared to stand up to him. Blaming the victim and other outrageous attitudes are found across society, including in the police who continually fail to investigate rape. Such views repress women and corrupt men everywhere. Massively funded public education campaigns have radically shifted social behaviour on drunk driving and smoking, and can impact the treatment of women. Tackling the root causes of India’s rape epidemic is vital, alongside better laws and faster legal processes.

Advertising in India is relatively cheap, so a significant funding commitment could blanket airwaves in multiple media markets for a sustained period of time. The ads should target male subcultures where conservative misogyny thrives, directly challenging and shaming those attitudes, ideally using messengers like popular sports figures that carry authority with the audience.

We only have days to influence the official Commission set up to find ways to crack down on India’s wave of sexual violence. If we can show real success in shifting attitudes in India, the model can be applied to other countries. The money spent will more than pay for itself by reducing poverty and promoting development, since treatment and empowerment of women has been identified as one of the greatest single drivers of social and economic progress. Click to send a message directly to the Indian government:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

>From opposing the stoning of women in Iran, to supporting the reproductive rights of women in Morocco, Uzbekistan and Honduras, to lobbying for real action to counter the growing ‘rape trade’ in trafficked women and girls, our community has been on the front lines of the fight to end the war on women. This new year begins with new resolve in India.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Luis, Meredith, Iain, Ian, Marie, Michelle, Alaphia, Allison and the rest of the Avaaz team

Books On Top of 2012

From Publisher’s Weekly
by Gabe Habash – 04 January 2013

The Bestselling books of 2012

logo-transHalf of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins—Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid title—cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks 75%-80% of print sales. Authors with multiple bestselling books extended past James and Collins, too: for print, Kinney and Bill O’Reilly had two books each in the top 20; for e-books, George R.R. Martin and Sylvia Day had two books in the Amazon Kindle top 20, further proving readers’ preference for fiction when reading electronically (No Easy Day was the only nonfiction book to make Kindle’s top 20).

What this means is that, in 2012, books not part of a successful series or brand had a much tougher time, at least at the very top of the bestseller lists. Even books from bestselling authors did not do as well as books from bestselling series, as Fifty Shades and the Hunger Games topped big-name authors like John Grisham and James Patterson, the latter not appearing on any top 20 list. One book that bucked that trend was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which crossed 700,000 copies sold on BookScan just before the year ended. Flynn sold over 100,000 more copies than J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and was only a few thousand copies behind Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena, to make her book the #14 bestselling print book of 2012. The discrepancies between Nielsen’s top 20 and Amazon’s top 20 (both print and Kindle) remained consistent with PW’s 2012 midpoint analysis of book sales: reference and self-help books see a huge percentage of their sales from Amazon. The Official SAT Study Guide, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and the American Psychological Association’s official manual cracked Amazon’s print top 20, but did not make BookScan’s top 20. Another Amazon anomaly is Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which snuck into the top 20 for print, despite being first published in 2010.

Read entire article & others at Publisher’s Weekly.

Move Over New York Times

New York Journal of Books

The New York Journal of Books (NYJB) is the only reviewing journal that releases reviews on the same day as a book is released. The NYJB is giving the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews and other well-known reviewing venues a run for their money (and readers).

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The New York Journal of Books reviewer panel consists of a growing team of talented and experienced reviewers whose expertise and credentials are unique among exclusively online book reviews. This panel includes bestselling and award-winning authors, journalists, experienced publishing executives, tenured academics, as well as highly experienced professionals across a number of disciplines and industries. All bring highly relevant expertise and insight to their reviews. Each reviewer writes about books with a singular, unique voice. Together, this chorus is New York Journal of Books’ singular strength. NYJB’s catalog of reviews has far more in common with respected print reviews than with any other online-only review. In a world where print book reviews are in rapid decline, NYJB aims to preserve the tradition of excellence in book critique. At the same time, NYJB embraces the rich multimedia content that cannot be found in a print publication, providing a singularly rich book selection experience.

Read the respected and relevant reviews at the New York Journal of Books and see what books and stories catch your attention.

Rape In Delhi India

Concerning a petition about the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi.

Dear Gabriel,

This message is from Namita Bhandare who started the petition “President, CJI: Stop Rape Now!,” which you signed on Change.org.

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On Monday morning a small group of us took our petition with 109,000+ signatures to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. We presented the three-volume petition, along with your signatures and suggestions. In case you’d like to write directly to Justice Verma directly his email is: justice.verma@nic.in. The commission will be receiving suggestions and recommendations until January 5.

Meanwhile, we will continue with this campaign and keep it updated. As next steps we are writing to various MPs asking them to put pressure on the Government to give priority to the pending bills relating to women safety.

I wish you all a very happy and safe new year.
Thank you for your support.

Namita Bhandare

View the petition

India’s Daughter

Gabriel –

Trigger warning: this email contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors.

She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital.

Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now has convinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.

The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita’s petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there’s a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.

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Click here to sign Namita’s petition asking the Indian government to actively prosecute rape cases, introduce compulsory sensitivity training for police, and pass two proposed laws to protect women.

The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long.

According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them.

Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.

Click here to sign Namita’s petition, and ask the Indian government to do everything in its power to make sure tragedies like this are never repeated.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Kristiane and the Change.org team

White Dog Fell from the Sky

White Dog Fell from the Sky: A Novel by Eleanor Morse
New York Journal of Books. 3 January, 2013
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

0670026409.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_“. . . a satisfying, savory dish that should be served alongside the best in contemporary multicultural fiction.”

There are not enough adjectives to describe the strength of this story.

Eleanor Morse has written a character driven novel with character. White Dog Fell from the Sky has a life of its own that blends reality, insight, observation, and nuance with such ease and grace you forget you are reading.

Two of the main characters, Isaac Muthethe and the white dog, are immediately dropped into reader’s laps with perfect clarity and timing. Their circumstances and environment can be absorbed and felt, as though you are inside Isaac’s skin as he lifts himself up from the dusty Botswana road.

At its core, White Dog Fell from the Sky is a powerful story of love – love of a person, a people, a land and living with purpose. It involves a medical student (Isaac) who must flee apartheid infested South Africa in 1976, after he witnesses his friend’s murder at the hands of the South African Defense Force and the American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who he befriends in Botswana. Alice followed her husband to Africa and works for the Botswana government.

When Isaac goes missing, her marriage disintegrates and a new love comes into her life, Alice abandons all pretext, while Isaac tries desperately to save the rest of his family and himself, from the terror, torture, shame and killing in his homeland.

The novel’s insight into land, people, relationships, culture and political realities is superb. It is easy to identify with many people in the story, including Isaac and Alice, regardless of one’s personal background or home of origin. The Africans and Europeans who populate the pages are honest embodiments of fellow human beings we have all known—fragile, strong, abusive, kind, and complicated.

Each individual has his view of the world shaped by his experiences and expectations. When Isaac describes his “friend” Amen, who is working with the African National Congress (ANC) in Botswana and Angola, he sees “. . . an ancient injury living side by side with arrogance. Menace, the child of the union.”

Alice and her marriage are described as, “You could see their hearts were not beating together, the blood in their veins wanted to flow toward different oceans.” Alice realizes that, “She and Lawrence had slid into each others lives in simple, naive faith.”

Eleanor Morse’s story is emotionally riveting, heartbreaking, and at times unbearable, while simultaneously embracing hope, insight, and a sense of perpetual mystery.

Each sentence is more beautiful than the last. Some aspects, such as the mutual respect and understanding that develops between Alice and Isaac, are similar in its depth and ambition to the literary masterpiece by Alan Patton and his characters in Cry, the Beloved Country.

Read entire review and others at New York Journal of Books.

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