Who says size doesn’t count?

Newyorktimes.com:

The women’s march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump’s inauguration, crowd counting experts said Saturday.

Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, analyzed photographs and video taken of the National Mall and vicinity and estimated that there were about 160,000 people in those areas in the hour leading up to Mr. Trump’s speech Friday.

Those are just Washington figures.  Consider all the sister marches around the world.  My guess is the new president and Congress are going to have a rough go of it.  That’s a lot of energy out there.

Not to snag and paraphrase a famous saying but…a sleeping giant has been awakened and she is pissed.

Old soldiers’ perspectives: Pearl Harbor

“The mothers suffered the most.”  I think the fathers suffer equally.  It’s hard to imagine that the ones who died were 17 and 18 years old.  That’s the age most kids graduate from high school.

Often Americans envision our military as “fighting men” when actually those men are really someone’s son or daughter.  When we are chest thumping and calling for blood, it is prudent to remember who really goes in on the front lines.

The survivors are few now.  Pearl Harbor is passing into the ages.
Another personal perspective

More reading:  Tom Brokaw:  Pearl Harbor is the birth place of America’s “Greatest Generation”

Pearl Harbor: 75th Anniversary

After 9-11, I asked my mother how it was different from Pearl Harbor and if she knew at the time how Pearl Harbor was going to affect all of them. She said on that Sunday afternoon, none of them had any idea just how life-altering the attack on Pearl Harbor would be on their lives. Most people had never heard of Pearl Harbor.

“Pearl Harbor” would soon be a household word in every American home.  Yes, it was life-altering for just about everyone in the world at that time and for as much of the future as most of us can imagine.

75 years ago seems like ancient history to many people.  To put some of the passage of time into perspective, Pearl Harbor happened 80 years after the start of the Civil War.  Queen Elizabeth was a young woman driving an ambulance for her country.  She was still a princess.  My mother was going to marry my father in 6 months.  My father would enlist a year to the day after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor will always be remembered and will always be a solemn day for America.

The first woman president….

This baby will be able to vote
This baby will be able to vote!

I would be remiss not to  mention the significance of the woman issue on this blog.  Never before has a woman been one of the candidates from a mainstream political party.  Yes, it is a big deal.

I can remember when President Obama was first elected.  There in that park in Chicago, on election night, one could see famous blacks like Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey standing there listening to the newly elected first black president who addressing the huge crowd.  Tears were streaming down their faces.  It was then that I realized I would never understand how blacks, rich or poor, felt about seeing the election of a first black American president.

I thought about how I would feel if a woman were elected.  I didn’t think it would hit me quite as hard but it would hit me.  I guess I am now on the precipice of testing my theory.

This morning I though about my own personal history.  My grandmother was 30 years old before she could vote.  My mother was born just 4 months after the passage of the 19th amendment.    WWII began when women had only had the vote for  21 years.  Now on November 8, 2016, some 96 years after getting the right to vote, a woman could be elected president of the United States.

Yes, as a female, I am standing in awe.  I don’t think I will cry when it happens.  I am not that moved.  However, the special social  and political significance is not lost on me.  It’s about damn time!

Zika prompts intense abortion debate in Latin America

011516-Zika virus_1

Washingtonpost.com:

Across Latin America, calls to loosen some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world in the face of the Zika virus outbreak are gaining momentum but encountering strong and entrenched opposition.

In El Salvador, where abortions are banned under any circumstance, the health minister has argued for a revision of the law because of the dangers the virus poses to fetal development.

In Colombia, an organized movement to lift restrictions on abortion has gained allies in the government but has run into determined opposition from religious authorities. The same is happening in Brazil — and some doctors say that as a consequence, illegal, back-alley abortions are on the rise.

Nearly everywhere in Latin America, including in those countries hit hardest by Zika, women who wish to terminate their pregnancies have few legal options. But as U.N. health officials have projected as many as 4 million infections in the Americas this year, activists are pressing lawmakers to act as swiftly as possible to ease rigid restrictions.

Read More

WaPo reporter Jason Rezaian released and headed home


Christian Science Monitor:

TEHRAN AND VIENNA — Iran will release four detained Americans in exchange for seven Iranians held or charged in the United States, U.S. and Iranian officials said Saturday in a major diplomatic breakthrough announced as implementation of a landmark nuclear deal appeared imminent. A fifth American detained in Iran, a student, was released in a move unrelated to the swap, U.S. officials said.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose name had not been previously made public, were to be flown from Iran to Switzerland aboard a Swiss aircraft and then transported to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, for medical treatment, U.S. officials said.

Rezaian’s wife and mother were expected to be on the plane.

This breakthrough is indeed good news. It is time for Iran to start behaving itself and stop acting like a rogue terrorist nation.

Good for Team America for implementing the release of these captives.    Hopefully their health is good and their homecoming uneventful.

Sometimes these international issues take diplomacy.  Too many people often want to throw on their proverbial “sh!t-kicker” boots and go barging in, risking the safety of the very people they want to rescue.

Multiculturalism: A rose by any other name?

multi

Huffingtonpost.com:

In an address to the Christian Democratic Union on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to limit the flow of refugees entering the country, addressing critics in her own party who have questioned her decision to open Germany’s borders.

As a top economic and political power, Germany has a “humanitarian imperative” to accept people fleeing turmoil in Syria, Merkel said. Yet after accepting roughly 1 million refugees so far this year, she added that the country must now “noticeably reduce” the number of new arrivals.

In comments The Guardian translated into English, Merkel said refugees will have to make an effort to assimilate into German society. She also dismissed the idea of multiculturalism, which in parts of Europe is associated with a policy of encouraging distinct cultural groups to live in separate communities.

“Those who seek refuge with us also have to respect our laws and traditions, and learn to speak German,” she said. “Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies, and therefore multiculturalism remains a grand delusion.”

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Anti-refugee bill on house fast track

congress icon

Politico.com:

The fallout from the Paris terrorist attacks will begin to play out on the House floor Thursday as the chamber is set to approve a bill to block any refugees from Syria or Iraq from entering the country unless they pass a strict background check and receive government certification.

The bill, which was crafted by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), is expected to pass with a big bipartisan margin. A sizable number of Democrats are likely to cross the aisle and vote for it, despite White House opposition, said lawmakers in both parties. Some rank-and-file Democrats are concerned about looking soft on national security even as French authorities continue to track down suspects from last week’s deadly attacks.

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The Refugee situation: Changes in Attitude…Changes in Lattitude

 

1938 refugees

Washingtonpost.com:

 

The results of the poll illustrated above by the useful Twitter account @HistOpinion were published in the pages of Fortune magazine in July 1938. Fewer than 5 percent of Americans surveyed at the time believed that the United States should raise its immigration quotas or encourage political refugees fleeing fascist states in Europe — the vast majority of whom were Jewish — to voyage across the Atlantic. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed with the proposition that “we should try to keep them out.”

To be sure, the United States was emerging from the Great Depression, hardly a climate in which ordinary folks would welcome immigrants and economic competition. The events of Kristallnacht — a wave of anti-Jewish pogroms in areas controlled by the Nazis — had yet to take place. And the poll’s use of the term “political refugees” could have conjured in the minds of the American public images of communists, anarchists and other perceived ideological threats.

But look at the next chart, also tweeted by @HistOpinion. Two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup’s American Institute of Public Opinion in January 1939 — well after the events of Kristallnacht — said they would not take in 10,000 German Jewish refugee children.

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Another government shutdown?

Politico.com:

A cascade of Republicans on Monday implored the Obama administration to scrap plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year, saying they pose an unacceptable security risk in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

And, in a dramatic twist, the sudden standoff is raising the possibility of a government shutdown next month.

Throughout the day a host of Republican governors around the country, wary that refugees could end up in their home states, blasted President Barack Obama’s plans. But those governors lack real sway over the process, and some are asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to insert a provision in the Dec. 11 spending bill that would bar more Syrian settlers.

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War of the Worlds: Are people just smarter now?

war of the worlds

Pbs.org:

Shortly after 8 p.m. on the Halloween Eve, 1938, the voice of a panicked radio announcer broke in with a news bulletin reporting strange explosions taking place on the planet Mars, followed minutes later by a report that Martians had landed in the tiny town of Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Although most listeners understood that the program was a radio drama, the next day’s headlines reported that thousands of others plunged into panic, convinced that America was under a deadly Martian attack. It turned out to be H.G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds, performed by 23-year-old Orson Welles.

77 years ago today, at around 8 pm,  thousands of Americans pushed the proverbial panic button, loaded up their cars and drove off in a panic, convinced that they had moments to live because of an invasion.   It’s hard to believe, nowadays, that people were that naïve–or is it?

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Never Forget: 9-11-2001

never forget

There doesn’t seem to be much on TV this year about 9-11.  I suppose 14 years does make a difference.  However, I want to see live footage.  I want to feel the rage and the resolve I felt that day.  I fear that if I don’t use this day, 9-11-15 and every 9-11 moving forward, I will grow complacent and sloppy.

I don’t want to get over it.  I need my refresher course of outrage dished out yearly.  I will never forget watching TV that night, after being sequestered away from TV that entire day, and thinking out loud, of all the gall!  the nerve! the effrontery!   Then a slow anger came over me that I don’t want to dissipate over the years.

9-11-2001 changed how Americans do business forever.  Our travel will never be the same.  Just getting a driver’s license is different.  Our entire way of proving who we are will never go back to the way we did things on 9-10-2001.  We are a nation now on our guard against terrorism in everything we do.  I so resent that disturbance.

The day before yesterday our house mate came in and told me he saw a woman who was wearing a full burqa strolling her baby down the street.  I didn’t see her but I was outraged over his sighting.  I don’t like the lack of security–I want to know who is walking up and down my street.  I don’t like people hiding their faces.  I see no difference in wearing a burqa and wearing a stocking mask.  If I saw someone walking down the street in a stocking mask, I would call the police.  Why should my risk assessment be different in this case?

Please share your feelings.  Mine aren’t particularly rational but they don’t have to be.  9-11 wasn’t a rational day and no, those of us alive on 9-11-2001 will never forget!

WWII: A data visualization

These numbers are simply amazing. Estimates suggest that over 60 million military and civilian lives were lost during this conflict that began September 1, 1939 and ended in August, 1945. The Soviet Union suffered the hugest losses. Comparisons are staggering.

Perhaps when the cable news just seems too depressing, it might be uplifting to see the progress we have made in the “peace department” since WWII.

Visit the Washington Post following this link to see the world map.