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Posts tagged ‘U.S.’

The Unthinkable

The Unthinkable

The recipe for The Unthinkable was classified as TOP SECRET by the U.S. government for the last fifty years, but it has now been revealed for your personal pleasure and right to know, by a former member of the NSA. Make sure the lights are off and the blinds are drawn when you concoct this classified formerly secret smoothie.

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Yield: 5 cups

2 cups filtered water
1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1large nectarine, peeled and sliced
2 frozen bananas (thawed and sliced)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup kiwi-strawberry juice (or equivalent fruit)

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into tall glasses and serve quietly. You never know who may be listening.

by Gabriel Constans

Hunger In America

Dear Gabriel,

Growing up, I was incredibly lucky that my family could count on having enough food on the table for my sister and me. Even if we had hit hard times, we could count on our community to help bridge the gap while we got back on our feet.

That kind of community support is a simple thing, but for hungry families it isn’t always there.

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Today, for 1 in 6 Americans, hunger is a reality.

We all know how scary it can be to face a financial crisis. Losing your job, facing an unexpected health issues or finding your rent has unexpectedly gone up can leave many families struggling to pay the bills and keep food on the table.

Without a strong safety net to help in times of financial trouble, too many families could face an empty dinner table and hungry nights.

Hunger in America can seem staggering, but the truth is by working together, we can find real solutions to the problem, before any more of our friends or relatives have to go to bed hungry.

Together we can end hunger in America. Please, sign on today to help raise awareness about those in need and give a voice to families struggling with hunger.

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Our Son’s Take On Guns

Our son wrote this for an English Class at college and turned it in yesterday morning. He titled it Locking Up the Guns. Coincidentally, two police officers were shot and killed (as was the assailant) later that day during a domestic violence situation, just blocks from where we live in Santa Cruz. It is the first time a police officer has been killed in the line of duty in this cities history.

Shona Blumeneau
English 2
2/27/13

Locking Up the Guns

BANG! A large crack pierced through the morning fog. Chaos erupted in the swamp, as I pulled the trigger on the Ruger semi-automatic .22 long rifle. A flock of birds flew through the sky but one remained, the one I had mercilessly gunned down just moments before. My cousin and I ran over to the bird and examined the stagnant creature. I stood there, thinking about how easy it had just been to kill something, while my cousin congratulated me on my first shot. He was the gun enthusiast, not me. This was my first time hunting, and after this experience, probably the last. Guns do more damage than they do good.

I have never lived in a dangerous neighborhood, but even if I did I would not resort to buying a gun for protection. Yes, they can defend you from attackers, burglars, etc., but I am not ready to kill someone with the blink of an eye, and I don’t think many other people are either. Possessing a gun causes much more problems than it does solutions.

If we were to take away guns people would still find ways to kill each other, but the number of deaths would decrease significantly. In 2008 there were roughly 16,272 murders committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of those were committed with a firearm. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Zero point 5 is a pretty insignificant number stacked against the amount of people who die from a firearm each year.

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Having a gun does not protect you. Having a gun gives an intruder a reason to shoot you, because they’re worried that you’re going to shoot them. If you’re unarmed, why would someone want to hurt you? Criminals may be stupid, but they’re usually not completely insane. They may take your computer, or whatever criminals take these days, and then go away. If it’s just a plain burglary, the police will file a report and forget about it, and the criminal gets away. If they shoot someone, there’s a murder investigation and the criminal goes to prison. The way gun advocates characterize society as a violent conflict between criminals and innocent people simply does not reflect reality. Theoretically, someone might break into your house just to attack you or your family, but the odds of that happening are less than being struck by lightning.

Only two countries in the world consider owning a gun a basic human right, the United States and Yemen, and even Yemen is starting to have second thoughts. From the UN’s Small Arms Survey: “Only two—the United States and Yemen—is ownership of firearms a citizen’s basic right. Figures published in the Small Arms Survey 2007 show that the USA and Yemen also have the highest rates of firearms per civilian, with an estimated 90 guns per 100 people in the US, and 55 in Yemen.” Why does America have this crazy obsession with guns? No, I’m not blaming video games or rap music. Let’s take a look at the second amendment.

Many US citizens still believe strongly in the amendment that states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” First of all, what states need protecting at the moment? The third amendment, that said the military could stay in private homes was thrown out, as it did not pertain to what was going on anymore. So why not the second amendment? There’s no intruders in the states that citizens are going to go hunt down, and the government has not become tyrannical (part of the reason for the second amendment, if the government ever became a dictatorship the people could rebel). The only people this right should belong to are those of the militia, as stated in the amendment. Just like the right to free speech, the government can limit people’s right to bear arms.

Only the most extreme pro-gun advocate would argue that a paroled violent offender with a standing restraining order to keep away from his ex-wife has the right to carry a fully-automatic machine gun. But similarly, only the most extreme anti-gun advocates believe that people should not be allowed to carry single-shot rifles when hunting deer on their own land.

If someone claims that the 2nd amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon, they are full of it. You should ask them to point to the language in the 2nd amendment that specifically allows for concealed carry but prohibits violent felons owning machine guns. We have to keep in mind that people who wrote the second amendment owned slaves and oppressed women. Times were much different when the constitution was written, and things have changed since then. We no longer have slaves. Women have equal rights. There’s no longer a need to carry a weapon.

There is especially no need to carry a thirty-clip weapon. Incidents like Columbine or Sandy Hook could have been much less catastrophic if the men had to take time to stop to reload. This is what happened with the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. The assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, shot down nine people, injuring eighteen total, and was only stopped when he had to take a moment to reload his weapon and was tackled to the ground by a bystander, who was injured in doing so. This attack could have been much, much worse if he had had a larger clip. I cannot see a reason why someone would need a clip larger than ten for hunting or protection. Lowering the amount of rounds a gun can hold could easily lower the amount of deaths in the US.

Let me paint you a picture: Chris, a five year old boy living in a small suburban neighborhood, gets off the school bus after a fun day in class. He goes into his house where his mom stands. She asks how his day was, he says “fine”, she asks what he did, he says “nothing” and he goes to his room to play. After a while he gets bored and decides to explore his house a little. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, a place he’s been a hundred times early in the morning to snuggle up with his mom and dad, and starts looking around. Eventually he finds his way to the closet, and inside he finds a box. He opens the box, curious, and finds a handgun. He’s never seen one before and wonders what it does, so he fiddles around with it. All of the sudden, BAM, the gun goes off. Chris’ mother runs to the room only to see a pool of blood coming from the closet, and comes to the horrible realization that her only child is dead.

This may seem drastic, but it happens more often then you’d think. In the New England Journal of Medicine a study was put out that found 18 children die from gun related incidents every day. This makes guns the second leading cause of death in young people – twice the number of deaths from cancer. I find that to be a staggering number coming from a well developed first world country. I read an article the other day about a doctor, who were haunted by the death of one of her patients, a twelve year old boy who went on an errand for his mother and was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. The boy had shortly before written a letter to his mother expressing his desire to become a doctor.

Gun Violence & Child Soldiers

Dear Gabriel,

The United States is not the only country where children are facing an epidemic of gun violence. While in the U.S., we continue to grapple with the tragic reality of children who routinely face gun violence in their communities and children who increasingly are the targets of mass shootings, in other places around the world, we see the heartbreaking consequences of children who also face the daily horrors of armed conflict, many forced to become soldiers.

During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama said:

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

However, the President could have — and should have — broadened his statement to include children from the war-torn neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria to valleys of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo, because if protecting all children is our shared destination, then we can’t afford to let our concern be confined by U.S. borders.

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We must call on the President to lead efforts to establish a strong Arms Trade Treaty, one that will help stop irresponsible and illegal arms transfers around the world that directly contribute to the recruitment of child soldiers.

You have probably heard about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda — the group responsible for widespread murder, rape, maiming and amassing throngs of child soldiers. Fewer people know about the recruitment of child soldiers by Bosco Ntaganda, a commander of the FPLC armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fewer still realize that the armed groups who have taken control of the northern part of Mali, as well as the Malian army, are also using child soldiers.

Why do children in Uganda, the DRC and Mali continue to have a target on their back?

Because a global free-for-all lets weapons flow into the hands of armed groups and governments who, in turn, recruit children and commit other grave abuses. By failing to make the establishment of a global Arms Trade Treaty a priority, President Obama is letting them get away with it.

Protect all children from violence — please call for a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

It’s simple; no child should be forced to stand on either side of a weapon.

But the gun lobby in the U.S. is still trying to make you believe that this is about taking guns away from law-abiding Americans. It’s not.

The Arms Trade Treaty would put in place common-sense measures, like background checks on international arms sales, to stop or at least slow the sale of weapons between countries that fuel conflict, atrocities and instability as well as lead to the displacement and deaths of millions of civilians and the continued use of child soldiers.

More than 43,000 of you have helped set the record straight for the NRA’s leadership. Thanks for supporting children everywhere who are trapped by armed conflict. Your voice is so important as we prepare for the UN to hold its conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in March.

Every child deserves that same right no matter where they live. With your help, we can make this Arms Trade Treaty “bullet-proof”.

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

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

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.

Uganda Bill to “Kill the Gays”

Gabriel –

The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people. The bill would legalize the death penalty for LGBT people and people with HIV or AIDS.

Uganda experts say that one way to stop this bill is to get pressure from banks that have significant resources invested in the country, such as Citibank and Barclays.

Citibank and Barclays together have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Uganda and wield significant influence in the country, just as banking lobbyists wield influence with Congress in the US. Citibank and Barclays speaking out against the “Kill the Gays” bill might be the best — and only — chance to stop it.

Collin Burton is a Citibank customer who is also gay. Collin started a petition on Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays to speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill. Click here to sign Collin’s petition right now.

Citibank and Barclays are both big supporters of LGBT rights for their own employees, yet they invest money with a government that is threatening to execute LGBT people. “I expect Citibank and Barclays to live up to the values of equality and fairness, not just list them on their websites,” Collin says.

If Citibank and Barclays speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill, Ugandan legislators will see that they are risking the business relationships that keep their government afloat.

Click here to sign Collin’s petition asking Citibank and Barclays to issue strong statements condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill could come up for a vote any day, so swift action is essential.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Mark Anthony and the Change.org team

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