Thursday, January 31, 2013

How can we be sure of our Facts?

"The issues that really matter in our society are not black or white; they are mostly gray," according to philanthropist Edward Scott Jr. "Allowing the American public to become lackadaisical and disinvested with the way we think about our country's most pressing issues would be a dangerous mistake."

During the lead up to the 2012 election, Scott put his money behind his convictions to partner with the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) to create Face the Facts USA.
 http://www.facethefactsusa.org/
Intended to help the public sift out the truth about the major challenges facing our country, the initiative presented a daily "Fact of the day" email to subscribers. The response was so successful, the "Fact of the day" emails continue, supplemented with hosted discussions; the website also lists events and other participatory actions and records topical fact archives. Former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno, who now heads SMPA, directs the project.

As pointed out in GW Magazine, "Between all of the sound bites and spin, it can be difficult to sort through the political rhetoric to find the facts behind the most important issues facing the country." Getting to the truth isn't always easy, as Face the Facts USA researchers, fact checkers, and editors can attest. Media reports are never primary sources; input from organizations with an agenda are treated skeptically and always verified from other sources.

Face the Facts USA staff and the many associates in News/Editorial, Commercial/Corporate, and School/University sectors are committed to delivering "facts that crystallize America’s key issues, engage and empower citizens, and drive conversations that yield solutions."

If you'd like the facts about crucial issues today and to join a "civil conversation" or host one for your community, you can learn more at facethefactsusa.org. I'm planning to check facts there often.
 
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Monday, January 28, 2013

How can one of THOSE days ever get better?

Have you ever had one of THOSE days? The kind where everything seems to conspire against you? Where your good intentions go from awry to total disaster? Like some stern taskmaster has hung the standard for success way out there on the edge of a deep dark pit....

Exhaustingly, most of 2012 felt like that for me. Sure a few high points kept me afloat, but on the whole, I had the feeling that the world's energy was resisting my progress rather and propelling me in the right direction. Maybe it was that Mayan endpoint precipice looming at the calendar's close, but it seemed like I was sinking into a blackhole, caving in to outside forces that simply overwhelmed me.

BlackHoles: Owning the crap out of matter and energy since the universe began.
Credit: Photobucket
Those sort of days just look like the end of life as we know it. I was doing everything I could to improve the situation and all my efforts were just opening the abyss wider.

Even though I've known for more than two decades that you can't tell someone what they aren't ready to hear, I was still trying to force information into the conversation. I spent energy explaining and complaining, and even when I took a geographic cure and was able to recover some perspective, I persisted in those diehard habits.

Looking back, though, the year was far from an unmitigated failure. Rather, it was a closing chapter on some dysfunctional patterns. Habits take focus and planning and practice to replace. Choices of appropriate action have to be made over and over. We have to eVALUEate priorities according to our most cherished values and persist in affirming them with every choice.

Success: What people think it looks like (straight line); What it really looks like (blobby squiggle)
Credit: http://www.facebook.com/matthew.britt
In this dawning new era, I'm delighted to imagine that life as I knew it HAS ended. I'm intending to cultivate a new approach: to learn more effective skills and practice better choices every day. I plan to claim my energy and commit to creating the life I yearn for one valued moment at a time.

So far, I'm integrating my ideals into consistent progress, making 2013 look opportune for fullfillment of some of my best intentions.
 
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

What happens at the end of your rope?

Did you ever notice when you get to the end of your rope there's a certain sense of relief?

It's as if you knew the promises were too hopeful and the expectations were too grand and the reality would never measure up. It's like you're holding your breath and waiting for that dangling shoe to hit you in the head, but it's so far up there it never even makes contact.

Credit: PhotoBucket
You get to the bottom and then you realize: it doesn't really matter. The shoe may fall or it may just hang on there forever, a dangling threat that like the promises that preceded it just never quite comes to fruition. Life goes on. We survive. The end of the rope isn't anywhere near the end of the world.

All the possibilities of yesterday remain. All the dreams and yearning stays the same. You just know in that last moment of possibility that it's up to YOU instead of that other someone/something/ever-hopeful-out-there possibility. Potential is the same, but it's got a new perspective.

And somehow that makes the future more assured. You realize, finally, that at the end of the day, like at the end of that frayed old ever-hopeful rope, you're the one who will come to your rescue. You're the one with your own best interest deepest at heart.

At the end of the rope, we don't just hang in there, we move forward to a more promising way to succeed in our own fullfillment.
 
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What does it take to change global consciousness?

Real people agree: there's something wrong with the way the world is operating these days.

Ask people on the street and you'll hear real concerns about the economy and the climate and the future. In blogs and around the conceptual watercooler, thoughtful people wonder about what the world is coming to and how a single individual or small group can possibly change the inertia carrying us along for the ride.

It seems overwhelming, but as anthropologist Margaret Meade said, it's only the power of small groups that ever initiates change. Professional pundits and naysayers have an agenda: they want to perpetuate the world that is rewarding them. They don't care how the other 99% manage. And as long as individuals merely complain, the status remains quo.

Thinking is never enough. Talking is never enough. Even planning is never enough. You have to DO something different before change occurs.

In the documentary film I Am, Tom Shadyac says that animals decide to switch watering holes when 51% of them have shifted their consciousness and decided they want to drink from the new watering hole. That's what needs to happen in order to heal health care - we need 51% of the population to decide they've had enough of things as they are, to make the choice to switch to a new consciousness about health care, one that reclaims health care's heart and approaches it from a much more holistic viewpoint.
~ Lissa Rankin MD in her blog

The same thing is true in all misdirected aspects of life today. We need to do better. 51% of us need to consciously change our acceptance of things as they are and choose to leave old patterns of dysfunction and begin to make choices aligned with the life we yearn to live.

Once grassroots acceptance gathers critical mass, change accelerates through the tipping 51% until the new consciousness  becomes the new norm. When everyone begins to accept the new way of living, we look back and wonder how it could ever have been otherwise.

It may seem like a minority today thinks the world is confused and careening like an uncontrolled handbasket toward a dangerous precipice, but if everyone who thinks that way exercises their power, we can choose a different outcome.
 
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What can we learn from today's history?


This is a true story from the Sixties.

Back then, Romper Room was a popular syndicated children's show. "Miss Sherri" (Chessen, then married to Robert Finkbine) hosted the Phoenix franchise. She was popular for her energetic entertainment of her preschool audience. As a working mother, she remained dedicated to her own four children (20 months to 7 years). Yet, she made a personal decision in 1962 for which she was fired and nationally vilified.

That year, exhausted by her fifth pregnancy, Sherri took sleeping pills. They'd been prescribed for her husband while he was chaperoning a student trip in London. The sedative contained thalidomide, a tranquilizer legal in Europe but unapproved by the FDA. Soon after, reports came out associating thalidomide with devastating birth defects, and Sherri consulted her obstetrician. Because she'd taken 30 pills during the early, highly vulnerable period of fetal development, she and her husband made the agonizing decision to elect a therapeutic abortion.

Credit: AZCentral.com
"I take no issue with anyone who went ahead and had the child. They have my love and my empathy. That's what the choice issue is all about."
~ Sherri Chessen

Concerned other pregnant women might unknowingly take the drug, Sherri chose to publicize her tragedy. Though unnamed in the Arizona Republic's front-page article, her identity leaked to the press when hospital administrators sought legal absolution to undertake the still-impending abortion. (At the time, Arizona banned abortions unless the mother's health was endangered.) The judge refused to rule out vulnerability to subsequent lawsuits, and the hospital rescinded approval. Under the frenzy of subsequent nationwide scrutiny and threats, no other US hospital agreed to perform the procedure.

Unwilling to burden their family with the devastating emotional as well as financial strain proper care of a severely disabled child would entail, the couple sought relief abroad. Their continuing three-week ordeal in Stockholm was covered by reporters from 34 countries. Finally, the aborted 12-week fetus was confirmed to have no legs, only one arm, and was too badly deformed for its gender to be identified.
* * *

The tragic episode had many repercussions:  Sherri was fired from Romper Room, her husband suspended from his high school teaching position; their family was hounded by reporters, subjected to intense public condemnation, and harassed with obscene phone calls. When vicious hate mail "threatened to cut off the arms and legs of [Sherri's] children," the FBI was called in. Though the hysteria died down, Sherri recovered from the trauma, and the couple later birthed two more healthy children, the case remained a highly visible touchstone in the quest for reproductive choice.

The sympathy stirred by Sherri's dilemma was pivotal to consolidating public consensus for choice. In the aftermath of Sherri's tragic ordeal, more and more Americans began to support reforming the nation's highly restrictive abortion prohibitions, but it was another decade of women resorting to back steet quacks, coathangers, and chemicals before Roe v Wade began to change the laws.

In the 40 years (today) since the Supreme Court ruled, you'd think a nation founded on priciples of human rights and freedom of choice would have embraced legal protections ensuring reproductive self-determination, but insurance often covers erectile dysfunction more than contraception and legislators continue to introduce bills that limit abortion funding and access, restricting choices for many women today. Sadly, in the half century since Sherri's Choice, too many women still lack reproductive freedom.

If we support the education and contraceptive counseling Planned Parenthood provides, fewer women would have to face the abortive last resort to ensure their own well-being and support of their families. In an era when we have the technology for every baby to be a wanted child, we shouldn't make it hard for women to choose that ideal.

I wonder... what you think.
For more information see coverage from:
 BBC   NY Times   People    PlannedParenthood    Wikipedia  
 
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Monday, January 21, 2013

How can People push Washington into action?

It's time to stop our elected officials from stalling change. It's time for Congress to reform the filibuster. It's time for the House and the Senate to get down to the real work of representing their constituents.

Let your Senators know: Legislators must speak their points on the Senate floor in order to continue debate; any lesser requirement is a sham orchestrated by those pseudopeople lobbying behind closed doors.
Click the graphic to identify your elected officials
The courts may have been conned into calling corporations people and allowing them to spend unidentifiable sums to influence elections, but it is We the REAL People who cast the votes that confer legislative power on our elected representatives. Our officials in Washington need to be aware that we expect them to actively represent US.

Call your Senators before tomorrow's filibuster vote and urge them to support Sen. Jeff Merkley's stronger package of reforms.
 
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's the big deal about exporting fracked gas to China?

The Department of Energy is currently (comment deadline 1/24/13) considering applications for 16 pending permits to build massive export terminals to ship "natural gas" overseas. This would open the door for fossil fuel companies to export fracked gas to China

Fracking here and sending the product to China is like telling the neighborhood gang to take their fight down the block so you won't have to wash blood off your sidewalk tonight.

Fracking is a disaster that doesn't even wait to happen. It pollutes the countryside before the first "well" is even completed and the land never recovers from the poisons. Not only is the countryside damaged by the heavy equipment and noise but the land, air, and water are ruined for generations to come.* The long tail of consequences far outweigh any upfront bonuses paid to landowners, and unpaid owners of neighboring properties are equally damaged without any compensation.

Fracking is bad for the locality, bad for the environment, and bad for the country since it takes funding and focus away from long-term sustainable energy initiatives.
Tell DOE: NO Fracking Exports!
Click the Image to tell DOE: NO Fracking Exports!
Beyond just the immediate issues of fracking to extract the methane-rich gas, to export the fracked fossil fuel to China multiplies the damage. Not only is processing the gas for export more pollution-intensive than consuming it locally (which is bad enough), but it ties up production facilities, escalates domestic fuel prices, and increases the incentive for fossil fuel producers to market other pollution-heavy products to power companies within the country.

Further, regulation of fossil fuel emissions is nil in China, so the use of fracked gas in China would pollute even more than fossil fuel consumption in a country with proper emission controls.  Air pollution is a global concern; its atmospheric effects affect us all.

You can see: it IS a big deal to export fracked gas to China:
a triple whammy of negative consequences for the whole world.
* See more Fracking details posted on 4/27/114/28/11 - 4/29/11 - 5/2/11 - 5/3/11 and 6/16/11.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

How is progress possible?


To get beyond the Status Quo requires departure from the Norm.

You may think it's impossible for one person to stimulate that sort of difference in the world, but in the words of president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, "you're never too small to make a difference."

Speaking at Opportunity Nation in September 2012, Arianna Huffington said, "I want you to contemplate being in bed with a mosquito. Just a tiny mosquito. And think how much havoc it can wreak."
enthusiastic mosquito
Credit: www.elojodedarwin.com
Mosquitos may be annoying, but they get attention. Are you ready to make that kind of a persistent difference?
 
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How can we avoid those looming Cliffs?

DC's "fiscal cliff" was a lot of pundit-induced divisive hype that took the focus off realistic resolution of the country's financial challenges to focus instead on forcing an immediate stopgap measure that satisfied nothing and remains unsustainable.

Rocky Cliff
Credit: Wikipedia
We can all talk ourselves into personal emotional cliffs with equal fervor and equivalent results.

The trick for reaching a satisfactory, sustainable solution is to step back from the brink and sit down for some serious soul searching. We often have to face the fact that we can't always get everything we want. In those cases, we better figure out what we value most.

Just as fewer taxes are incompatible with more guns and added warfronts, so too spreading our emotional resources thin will wreak havoc on our mental and physical stamina. The only way to resolve shortages without cutting back is to increase what is coming in. If you don't change your incompatible choices, you'll end up exactly where you're headed -- right over the precipice to disaster.

You can't balance your budget or your life without first getting your priorities straight.

 
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Monday, January 14, 2013

How can we prevent the next Deepwater Horizon disaster?

Did you hear that on New Year’s Eve, Shell tried to move it’s huge Kulluk oil drilling rig out of Alaskan waters -- to dodge paying $6 million in Alaska state taxes they would have owed had they remained in an Alaskan port on January 1! The rig broke loose during a major storm and ran aground on rocks near the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Happily, the 150, 000 gallons of fuel on board did not create an environmental disaster. Nonetheless, this irresponsible and ill-conceived action has prompted the Obama Administration to undertake a 60-day review of Shell's Arctic operations.

It's already two weeks since the near-disaster, time to take this opportunity to speak out before a future oil spill becomes our next environmental disaster. We must urge Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Director Tommy Beaudreau of the Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to conduct a clear-eyed re-evaluation. Shell's long series of accidents, near-misses, and reversals during the past year should prove that they cannot conduct oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean in a safe and responsible manner.
Enangered Polar Bears: Stop Arctic Drilling
Go to https://secure3.convio.net/lcv/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=962&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=5gka1dh0a2.app331bxx
Click the images above to take action NOW.

Our planet is endangered by continuing use of fossil fuels. The climate is changing. Wildlife is threatened. Our future is at stake.

All will be at even greater risk if Shell continues its irresponsible Arctic drilling. We must expect our government to protect our lands, the oceans, wildlife, and the planet's future. It is past time to suspend oil and gas activities in America's Arctic. We must act now.

Our grandchildren will thank us.
 
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