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Archive for the month “February, 2013”

What! You Mean All of that Money We Gave, is Just Sitting There?

Yes, about $2.6 billion US dollars. Only about half of the $5.3 billion dollars that was donated to the Haiti Relief effort so far has been allocated. It has been a little bit more than three years since the earthquake in January 12, 2010. Today if you went there, it would look like the earthquake was yesterday. The earthquake hit one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, so it is not to say that Haiti did not need some form of support but with all that money something must be happening.

Jonathan Katz, who wrote the book, “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left a Disaster,”reported from Haiti between 2007 to 2011. In his book he talks about many things surrounding the relief effort, especially how the donation money was spent. Below is a video going getting deeper in this topic.

You know, a lot of the money that’s spent in the wake of any natural disaster, but especially in a foreign aid context, kind of goes in circles.

Part two found here.

An aspect of the relief effort that I want to focus on, is the building of a sweatshop complex in Haiti, called Caracol Industrial Park. This is something that was decided by the UN Haiti Envoy as well as the Haitian government. A decision that many believe has no long-term benefit to the Haitian people. More on Haiti can be found here. Sweatshops are a way for foreign companies to go into an area and provide low-wage labor to the local population. The excuse that the companies give to make it look like they care about the well being of the local community is that they are providing jobs. Well, this is true the foreign companies do provide jobs. But are they jobs that the community can survive on? And how much is the company making in comparison? What happens when the sweatshop closes due to financial problems, or the depletion of resources, and or the burning of the factory? Hundreds of people all around the world die each year in sweatshop fires. So you have a chance to make your voices heard, make it clear that you do not want your money used to further suppress the Haitian people. Sign the petition here or here.

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If Christopher Dorner is Dead, does that mean the Job is Done?

The main objective was to get something to eat. Even before they got into the car  these two young black brothers participated in a non-stop debate about what the restaurant of choice will be. Another long day in school is over, which means freedom. The boys now have freedom to choose what restaurant is going to  fulfill one of life’s simplest pleasures:eating.

Opportunities not available within the high school boundaries are now fair game. These same boundaries to a certain extent protect certain groups, races, ideas, personal expression, etc. What do they protect one from? The outside world.

These two brothers know too well how cruel the outside world can be to black individual. This issue, we will call it, “racism”  is not talked about in your common conversation but it is imbedded in everyone’s subconscious.  Racism is so powerful that it has been transforming for centuries, depending on what the situation is.

The older brother has been given the luxury of driving his two brothers in a car, to and from school everyday. He does not own this car but it is something that makes him cherish freedom. This form of freedom comes with a price.

Within two minutes of leaving the high school boundaries and entering the real world. The two boys saw the first police officer. Immediately the diver tightened his grasp on the steering wheel and looked at the gauge to make sure that he was within the speed limit. The police car which was going relatively fast was approaching them on from the other side of the street. The younger brother simple took on a curious but fixed gaze, that followed the police car past them. The rear view mirror allowed the older brother to continue to follow the police car long after it is past them. Before the boys could make it out around a right turn up ahead the older bother saw the police car perform an action-movie u-turn.

“He is coming back,” said the older brother.

What?”  The younger brother replied.

I saw him do a u-turn,” said the older brother.

Lights and sirens quickly approached the boy’s car. Check the gauges, check the brakes, check the dashboard, and check our clothes; everything seems in place.

“License and registration?” Asked the officer.

He took them and walked to his car.  It felt like forever before the officer came back. The boys sat there wondering, “what could be the problem? How long is this going to take? Are we ever going to get out of here?” The officer returns:

“What is wrong officer?” The boys asked.

“What are you guys doing?” asked the officer.

“We are going to get some food!” They replied.

“What did we do wrong?” They continued to ask.

“There were complaints that two black guys were jumping fences,” said the officer.

Shocked by the situation, adopting a distasteful look the younger brother replied, “JUMPING FENCES?” The older brother put his hand on him to decrease the tension. But he proceeded to mumble something.

“We are driving in a car. How are we jumping fences?” Said the older brother.

“We just got out of school!” He continued.

“Where do you go to school?”

“Right there!” The two boys pointed since they only made it four minutes out of the school’s boundaries.

The school located in a predominately white neighborhood, attended by predominately white students.

“Yes, we go to school there.”

The officer continued to question the two boys until the boys brought out their school Identification cards.

“look, see!” The boys said.

The officer looked at the identification cards, nothing else was said, the cards were given back and the boys drove off.

Now the two minds were not only filled with how racist the event was but also how much of a waste of time it was, as well.

This story a glimpse of racism, unfortunately is not the worst thing that can happen due to a person of color. Many colored(black, brown, yellow) people have experienced how deadly and cruel racism can be. Most recently, Oscar Grant, the brown civilians in Arizona, Trayvon Martin and last but not least, Christopher Dorner.

Christopher Dorner’s name has recently been on the minds and lips of millions all over the world. Christopher Dorner, adopted the title, “the most wanted man in America.” This is because Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles (LAPD) Police officer, is accused of killing four people and vowing warfare against the LAPD. The most recent victim was a police officer who was involved in a shoot out on Tuesday. Christopher Dorner, allegedly barricade himself in a cabin up in the snowy mountains of Big Bear. It is suspected that on Tuesday, Christopher Dorner set the cabin on fire. The body found inside the cabin has been removed and sent for confirmation.

The killing of another human is something that should not be celebrated. So if Christopher Dorner was responsible for the death of the four victims, he should be stopped, if he hasn’t already. But with that said I believe that there should be an intensive look at what made this man cause all this chaos. Besides being unfairly fired in 2008, Christopher Dorner, accused the LAPD department of racism, systemic violence, and corruption.  The LAPD is accused for implicitly harboring, turning a blind eye, and at some times promoting violence. These are the issues that should should be on the tip of our tongues. Many people in America live in fear of the police, just look at Anaheim, CA. Where the community have been protesting the police killing of unarmed civilians; more on that here. Christopher Dorner, in his online manifesto, states specific events, such as, a police officer who was involved in the beating of Rodney King (1991), have since then been promoted. The manifesto can be found here.

…..fighting was in response to fellow students provoking common childhood schoolyard fights, or calling me a nigger or other derogatory racial names. I grew up in neighborhoods where blacks make up less than 1%. My first recollection of racism was in the first grade at Norwalk Christian elementary school in Norwalk, CA…..

Are you aware that an officer (a rookie/probationer at the time) seen on the Rodney King videotape striking Mr. King multiple times with a baton on 3/3/91 is still employed by the LAPD and is now a Captain on the police department?

Those of you who “go along to get along” have no backbone and destroy the foundation of courage. You are the enablers of those who are guilty of misconduct. You are just as guilty as those who break the code of ethics and oath you swore.

No one is saying you can’t be prejudiced or a bigot. We are all human and hold prejudices. If you state that you don’t have prejudices, your lying! But, when you act on it and victimize innocent citizens and fellow innocent officers, than that is a concern.

I want all journalist to utilize every source you have that specializes in collections for your reports. With the discovery and evidence available you will see the truth. Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared.

Christopher Dorner’s story is one that is filled with success and obstacles due to prejudice. People who knew Christopher Dorner, have stated that Christopher Dorner was a man who was never afraid of speaking up for what he believed in. This is why he challenged the LAPD’s decision to fire him in 2008. The LAPD, have decided to look into the events surrounding the firing of Christopher Dorner, this is a good start but we can do more. Below is a video that covers the case.

Below is a link to a talk that looks deeper into the issues around Christopher Dorner and the LAPD. Beofre the body was found the  LAPD had brought up the option of  deploying surveillance drones to help locate Christopher Dorner. This is a big thing because it might had been the breaking point that would open the door to drastically militarizing America.

Link: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/88857

Petition against the use of drones found here. Take time to sign and share with friends.

Peace

Perpetual

This is a poem by Jeff Nguyen, called, “Perpetual.”

Dreams

Dreams (Photo credit: Andrew.Beebe)

Words can change the course
of a mighty river
and shape the contour
of an imposing canyon

Ideas can expand
a crowded space
and reason with the
blackest night

Voices can speak of things
that open the gates
and crawl to the edges
of the city streets

Dreams can fill up
our lungs and our chests
and get carried away
on the winds above

Tears can carve trenches
in the hardest of soils
and wash away the
stains of past discord.

References:

Nguyen, Jeff. “Perpetual.” Deconstructing Myths. WordPress. 19 Jan. 2013

University has a Crucial Place in Society

Tomorrow night (January 7, 2013), Brooklyn College in New York will be hosting a forum that will focus on the Palestinian-led campaign to boycott and ultimately free itself from the grasp of Israel. This forum is very important because it allows for the discussion, sharing of information and possible solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unfortunately, New York politicians all the way up from Congress to council members have condemned this forum. According to Democracy Now (2013), ” In response, a group of New York City council-members has raised the possibility of Brooklyn College losing taxpayer support.” This should not be a surprise since there is an enormous amount of support given to Israel from Individual in America as well as top politicians. I mean we cannot forget that Obama’s 2013 budget, shows 3.1 billion in U.S. military aide to Israel, which is an increase from 3.075 billion in 2011. At the same time thousands of people who three months ago, were affected by Hurricane Sandy, still live in shelters and temporary hotels. As well as, all over America public schools are being shut-down because of the excuse of, lack of funding. With the support of Brooklyn College’s president, Karen L, Gould, the forum is going to continue despite the threats; the show must go on. So any of you who can make it to Brooklyn College, go to the forum and show your support for Important and beneficial information. The event I believe is in Brooklyn not New York at 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The exact address is this:

2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11210

Room: Student Center Building: Penthouse.

phone number: (718)751-9000.

This is a very important step/stand, right, because for those who listened to the talk called, “University as a Factory,”given by Max Haiven, which I linked to my previous post* you would see how crucial it is that we have universities that allow and encourage positive free ideas that engage our conscience. The university should be a positive place where we can develop, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. How else would we be prepared for the world ahead of us? The link to Max Haiven’s talk can be found here. Democracy Now covered the events in New York; the video is below.

I would like to now transition to the Palestine-Israel conflict which is the fuel that gave fire to the events at Brooklyn College and New York as a whole. The Palestine-Israel conflict is one that has several stories, so ultimately it depends on who you talk to. But one story that is backed by documented history starts in 1967 when Israel under the order of the American military, defeated the Nasser regime. To this day America and Britain support Radical Islam because it prevents the rise of Secular Nationalism; this is why Israel was asked to defeat Nasser. Move forward several years (1970) and again Israel was called upon to scare Syria from intervening in the massacre of Palestinians by U.S. backed Jordan. There are other events such as the Yo Kippur War in 1973 and the peace treaties that were presented to Israel from Egypt (1971) and Jordan (1972). Two important points must be highlighted in these peace processes, the first is that they did not include the Palestinians who were being killed in the area. The second point has to do with the two countries (Egypt and Jordan) not giving up their territory. So, this is the beginning of the Israeli settlers who expanded within the territory that is today called Israel. So those Palestinians who were being massacred , are the same Palestinians who were being pushed back before: Till the only thing left was present the Gaza Strip and The West Bank.  November 29, 2012, was a day of joy for Palestinians and other supporters because finally the Palestine state was recognized by the U.N. (not including Israel and the U.S.)

An important aspect of the Palestine-Israel conflict, that I like to look at is the mentality that surrounds some individuals in the Jewish culture. This mentality is connected to history that can go back to the biblical times (if you believe in religion). Nonetheless, one point in history that cannot be mistaken is the events of World War II (WWII). Basically what I am saying is that there is a significant population of Jews who believe that someone or some group of people is or are, trying to wipe them out of the the face of the planet: to this day. This can be noticed in the video below featuring Noam Chomsky (Cool Guy), interviewed on Channel 2 News in Israel. He is featured here because he was denied entry into Birzeit University.

Noam Chomsky.”Well you get a free trip.”

Noam Chomsky,”Let’s try to find one country that like all my views…..I do not plan on it but if I am asked!” “Israel is at a position of security, well beyond above that of many other states.” This is because America supports Israel.

I like how Noam Chomsky highlights the plights of the Native American People.

Noam Chomsky,”A person should take responsibility for what they are responsible for.”

Notice how the Interviewer, emphasizes the past and believes that there is some imminent threat against Israel.

I hope that the videos above got things moving in your mind but we can go further. The videos below will focus on what the people in Palestine and Israel go through everyday. The first video below focuses on  a documentary, “The Gatekeepers;” which is about the  six previous members of the once secret Israeli security agency force called, the Shin Bet , which hunts and or kills Palestinian militants but some of the time civilians are killed in the process. The whole broadcast can be found here. The second video will show what it is like to live as a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip or the West bank.

The director, Dror Moreh makes the argument that both sides are responsible for killing and causing harm to innocent civilians. Because, it is important to point out that the biggest problem that should be addressed is that children, women and whole families are being killed on both sides and it is not right.

It is inadequate to bring out facts, information, and not give people something to do, if the opportunity is there. So I want you to take action, Today, and it is very easy, just sign the petitions linked here and here. Not only that spread the word get other people involved because it takes all of us to make a change. We can look back in history/present times and see that our voices together are what keeps the,” change train,” going. Join majority of people who want to live a peaceful fulfilling life.

I have provided another video below that focuses on the corporations that support the Israeli Occupation of the Palestine state.This video (below), which features activist Dalit Baum (I saw her speak, at an University on the same issue) highlights corporations that are supporting the Israeli Occupation; boycott them!

Dalit Baum,”Israeli weapons companies, they start a subsidiary in the U.S, in order to win contracts with the Israeli army, … it is cheaper.”

Peace

*”The Spark that could Initiate the Transformation of the American Education System.”

References:

Haiven, Max. “University as Factory.” Against the Grain. KPFA. 10 Oct. 2012.

Battling the Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) website, which can be found here. The flu season started a month early. The CDC website states that influenza virus is off to a strong start but it is important to point out that it is still too early in the flu season to know if it is going to be a bad flu season overall. It is also important to note that America, so far has been hit the hardest, while other countries are not experiencing the same influenza activity.

Now, we can start talking about the difference between the flu and the common cold. Because it is important to know that you can get sick from either one.  The type of viruses that get you sick are different for the flu versus the common cold. The flu is caused by either Influenza A or B,  in comparison to the common cold which can be caused by over 200 different varieties of the rhinovirus. They also differ in the symptoms, the WebMD website, found here does a good job of going more into detail. Nonetheless, the symptoms can be be found below.

Common Cold:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Children can get a fever
  • Lasts about one week

Flu:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever in children and adults
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • How long symptoms lasts vary

It is also important to add that people who have cold like symptoms that do not go away within a week,  should check with their doctor to see if the have an allergy or sinusitis. On that note I would like to make it clear that I am not a registered physician or nurse and that the information given here should be used under your own judgment.

Before we get into what you can do as a preventative measure and or if  you do get sick. I would like to point out a couple of bad habits that should not be done while one is sick:

  • You should not smoke, if you are a smoker.
  • You should not exercise, this is because exercise puts stress(usually a good thing) on the body and your body needs all the energy it can get when you are sick.
  • You should not consume a lot of alcohol(if any at all).
  • According to certified nutritional consultant, Phyllis Balch, (2012), “do not give aspirin to a child who shows symptoms of a viral  infection.” This because giving aspirin can result in the child developing Reye’s syndrome, which could be serious.
  • Phyllis Balch, (2012), also recommends not to take antibiotics since they are useless against viruses. This is because antibiotics fight bacteria and not viruses. So be careful if you doctor prescribes antibiotics.

With that said, I would like to focus on what one can do if they get the common cold or the flu.  These habits and remedies are ones that focus on the bodies own ability to fight the virus in the body. So they can be used while you are sick as well as prevent you from getting sick.

One of the most important things that you can do is wash your hands regularly and try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. This does not mean using hand sanitizers, which is becoming very common. There is controversy around the use of hand sanitizers, for various reasons, such as how it can lead to skin problems,  Lisa A. Garner, MD, stated:

“Everyone’s afraid of germs, but our skin can’t tolerate [hand sanitizer] as much as some people are using it,”

What Dr. Garner is saying is that the over use of hand sanitizers is causing an increase in skin problems. Dr. garner is a dermatologist(doctor who specializes in skin and its diseases), who has seen a rapid increase in skin problems due to use of hand sanitizers among other things. The complete article can be found here.

This is not to say that you should not use hand sanitizers when convenient or appropriate. I believe that hand sanitizers do have a place in our lives. For example in the work place, if you are someone who works in a hospital, school, or any job that requires you to use tools that other people use, then hand sanitizers come in handy. This is because you can wipe down the equipment, table, whatever it may be with the hand sanitizer. I would also recommend carrying a small bottle of lotion in your bag or purse.

Now to the good stuff! We cannot talk about natural remedies without talking about teas. Teas are very beneficial in reducing the length of a cold or preventing you from getting the flu.  Phyllis Balch (2012), states,” that drinking 2-5 cups of green tea a day during the flu season can prevent you from getting the flu.” I personally recommend two things, the first: get your hands on white tea, if you can find it. This is because it has more antioxidants then green tea. The second: no disrespect to Dr. Balch but drink as much tea as you can (2-5 cups? you can do better). Another important tea to drink is enchinacea(highly recommended). To increase the effects of the teas, I would recommend adding cayenne pepper to the tea, as well as slices of fresh ginger(powder if it is all that you have), as well as boiling the water with lemon peels in the water(my Aunt’s recommendation). Regarding the Green and white tea, it is important to buy Fairtrade tea, and anything you can for that matter. You can purchase Fairtrade tea in you local organic store or online here and here.

One remedy that should be taken seriously is the consumption of raw garlic cloves. This is one that some people shy from because of the stigma around the way garlic can make you smell, but in comparison to the health benefits I believe it is worth it. Dr Andrew Weil, (2005), recommends to finely chop the garlic cloves and eat them raw. This is because when they are cooked the beneficial qualities of the garlic are reduced. Garlic has very strong anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties. One thing that has to be said, is if you do decide to consume garlic in the raw or cooked form, I recommend that you let the garlic sit for at least fifteen minutes, before eating or cooking it. This is has to do with what happens to the garlic when it is exposed to the air. If you want more information on this click here.

For relief from congestion, allergic symptoms, and the cold,  it might be beneficial to use a neti pot. A neti pot is a device that allows you to rinse your nasal passage ways with luke warm water and a non-iodized salt. You can purchase a neti pot or make one yourself. I have provided links to two videos on Youtube here and here(make sure the water is not hot!!! When you use it).

I hope that you find this information useful. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns, and or ideas.

Peace.

References:

Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing. 2nd ed. revised. Stacy Bell. New York. Avery. 2012. print.

Kam Katherine. “Surprising Household Irritants.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC, 13 Sept. 2011.

Weil, Andrew. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimal Health. 1995. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.print.

The information here is not intended to replace standard(allopathic) medicine, which has its benefit in the medical environment in diagnosing and treating diseases. Any persistent, severe, and or unusual symptoms should be evaluated by a registered physician. The natural remedies/habits suggested here, although safer than pharmaceutical drugs, can cause unexpected results, in different people. If a condition fails to respond to the remedies/habits presented here, you should consult a physician. The author of this information, disclaims responsibility for any adverse reactions resulting directly or indirectly from the information given here.

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