Pondering Cuba


Yesterday morning began as any other – reaching for the remote, instinctively allowing a news station to transport me from semi-conscious to reality. Almost immediately I heard this….

“Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past, so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world,” – Barrack Obama

http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/world/americas/united-states-cuba-deal/index.html

Leaping from bed with alarming intensity, I nearly stepped on the dog trying to reach my phone. Texting my husband and daughter “Obama just lifted the embargo on Cuba”. “I KNOW!” instantly shot back from my daughter. My husband called a few minutes later – “Holy craps” were exchanged, as we parted to investigate further.

Miniscule shreds of conscience capable of acknowledging Obama’s bold (reasonable and about freakin’ time) announcement, quickly succumbed to overwhelming selfishness. Cuba sole my heart – a remarkable country, full of remarkable people. Proud, stoic, resourceful, artistic, joyous people who persevered despite insurmountable odds. Horrified at the prospect of American business homogenizing “my Cuba”, I found myself spiraling towards a full on tizzy fit.

Allowing a day to ponder implications of Barrack Obama’s policy shift eradicated my fears. Caught up in the historic American “about face”, I almost forgot how U.S. politics worked. I could have spared considerable grief, hours of self loathing for putting the Cuba I love before the people who struggle with rations and shortages, if I’d been quick enough to remember the Republicans.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was first out of the gate…

“This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, based on a lie,” Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The White House has conceded everything and gained little.”

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” he added.

As of January 6, 2015 the U.S. Senate will be controlled by the Republican party – icing on the cake, Marco Rubio will be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere (complete with oversight responsibility for the region).

“This Congress is not going to lift the embargo,” Rubio declared at the end of his news conference.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/17/marco-rubio-cuba-obama_n_6342348.html

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also slammed the change in policy, saying it “emboldens all state sponsors of terrorism.”

“Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom -– and not one second sooner,” Boehner said in a statement. “There is no ‘new course’ here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), one of the most outspoken Republicans in Congress on matters of foreign policy, threatened to do everything in his power to block funding from being used to set up a U.S. embassy in Cuba. “Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time,” Graham said on Twitter.

Now I’m mad – who do these nincompoops think they are? Cuba is lovely without Starbucks or McDonalds, the Cuban people however deserve a little respect. America spews blustery rhetoric on how compassionately the “greatest nation in the world” views global issues. All hot headed Republicans see is a Communist nation. Pig headed “over my dead body” gobbley gook emanating from a gaggle of close minded pin heads.

Kudos to you Barrack Obama – never let it be said you didn’t attempt righting an enormous wrong.

 

Notes and daughter in Havana

 

 

 

Greenpeace Crosses the Line


Ponder environmental activism – Greenpeace likely comes to mind. Nobody argues Greenpeace took shape during the late 60’s, early 70’s in Vancouver B.C. Nobody argues Greenpeace activism wasn’t warranted or justified. I doubt many people could find fault with the intent or sincerity of Greenpeace. Born in an era of conflict, Greenpeace had the courage to stand for something.

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/ships/the-rainbow-warrior/20th-anniversary/timeline-of-events/

On December 1, diplomats from 195 nations gathered in Lima Peru for a conference on climate, their intention – draft a new accord to “curb” global warming. Organized by the United Nations, COP 20 (coalition of parties meeting on climate for the 20th time since 1992) Lima hopes to lay foundations for Paris conferences a year from now – Paris 2015 aims to formalize COP 20 recommendations – sewing up a resolution to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expired in 2012. Perhaps with China and America on board (neither country signed the Kyoto Protocol – hardly surprising when you consider they rank first and second in greenhouse gas emissions).

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141130-lima-climate-change-conference-un-cop-20-science/

Enter Greenpeace. Never shy, rarely at a loss when it comes to making a statement – Greenpeace decided to desecrate a World Heritage Site. Oh man, I would have loved to be at that strategy session. “Lets sneak onto a high desert plateau in Peru and place a message about renewable energy in giant plastic letters next to the Nazca Lines”. Never mind the importance or delicate nature of Nazca’s historical treasure – our message will be seen from space. Holy crap Greenpeace, you crossed a line.

Greenpeace needs a reality check, at the very least a little soul searching. When you find yourself trashing world heritage sites, traipsing your way across precious remnants of ancient pasts to erect PLASTIC signage about renewable energy – get a grip, you crossed the line.

Far from impressed, the Peruvian government stated “It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred”. From the Huffington Post….

The Greenpeace activists entered a “strictly prohibited” area near the famed figure of a hummingbird, according to the Associated Press. Entrance to this area is permitted only with authorization, and those who get approval must wear special footwear.

“They are absolutely fragile,” the minister said of the geoglyphs. “They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years. And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International issued a public apology, in part…

“The action took place on the occasion of the climate conference in Lima, where government leaders have a historic opportunity to tackle the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, this important message has been overshadowed by our rude and inconsiderate action.”

Full Greenpeace statement linked below..

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/Nazca-Timeline/

 

 

Picture of Greenpeace activists next to massive letters near to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca in Peru

Greenpeace activists arrange the letters delivering the message "Time for Change: The Future is Renewable" next to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca, Peru, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.

Meet Geminid


Tomorrow the annual Geminid meteor shower peaks. Every December Earth crosses paths with asteroid 3200 Phaethon – more accurately, asteroid junk left behind when Phaeton orbits extremely close to the sun.  Extreme solar heat causes expansion and “cracking”, a process responsible for trails of asteroid debris. 3200 Phaethon may be a paltry 5 Km. across, yet delivers a respectable average of 120 meteors an hour.

Technically visible anywhere on the planet, Geminids are considered a Northern Hemisphere show.Named for their radiant point, constellation Gemini – the higher Gemini rises, the more fireballs we see. Northern latitudes lay eyes on a early rising, high soaring Gemini, southern latitudes can still say hello – they just have to wait a little longer (or earlier if you consider pre-dawn morning).

Gaze toward the eastern horizon – Gemini reaches its highest point around 2 AM. Get away from city lights, settle in, give yourself 20 minutes oor so until your eyes adjust, and above all – happy Geminids.

http://earthsky.org/space/everything-you-need-to-know-geminid-meteor-shower

The Geminid meteors radiate from near star Castor in Gemini.

Trinity Revoked


Trinity Western is an accredited Canadian university located in Langley British Columbia. Born in 1962 as a Christian college operated by the Evangelical Free Church of Canada, Trinity became a university in 1985.

Trinity Western University students must sign a covenant abstaining from sexual intimacy 'that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.'

Trinity Western has strict policies regarding sexual conduct. Prospective students must sign a “promise” not to engage in same sex shenanigans. Sexual intimacy violating sacredness of marriage between a man and woman = guaranteed expulsion. A decade ago, B.C.’s College of Teachers refused to recognize Trinity teaching graduates – the Supreme Court ruled their concerns unfounded. The court weighed religious and equality rights, concluding no evidence existed to substantiate concerns of teacher discrimination. Lacking evidence of teacher misconduct – Trinity was free to school anti-gay teachers.

Trinity fell off radars until a December 2013 announcement – B.C. government approval of Trinity Law School.

“The Degree Quality Assessment Board reviewed Trinity Western University’s proposed law degree and found that it met the degree program quality assessment criteria for private and out-of-province public institutions,” he said.

“Further, the review by the Federation of Law Societies confirmed that graduates of the proposed law program could meet the national standards to practice law.”

Not so fast Trinity – same sex marriage is legal in Canada. Hold your horses Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk – British Columbia Lawyers have a message for you. In June of this year, a rare gathering of B.C. Lawyers voted 3,210-968 in favor of rejecting accreditation of Trinity law. Law Society rules stipulate if results of the vote aren’t implemented in a year, they can force a binding referendum.

Today Education Minister Virk withdrew his consent.

“Based on the current situation, I have decided to revoke my approval of the proposed law school at Trinity Western University,” he said in an emailed statement. “This means the university cannot enrol any students in its proposed program.”

“The current uncertainty over the status of the regulatory body approval means prospective graduates may not be able to be called to the bar, or practise law, in British Columbia. This is a significant change to the context in which I made my original decision,” he added.

Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn expressed disappointment.

“It is difficult to conceive of a justifiable basis for the minister to have revoked his approval of the school of law program,” Kuhn said in a press release.

Difficult to conceive of a justifiable basis? Holy crap. All I can say is Canada dodged a bullet. Sleep well Canada, the prospect of Lawyers encouraged to discriminate against law abiding citizens of our nation has been averted.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/trinity-western-law-school-b-c-advanced-education-minister-revokes-approval-1.2870640

 

 

Stompin’ Tom Was a Canadian Who Believed


Notes To Ponder:

This isn’t the first time I’ve re-posted this clip. No apologies, it makes me happy.

Originally posted on notestoponder:

It seemed appropriate to re-post this song by the late Stompin’ Tom Connors. “Believe in Your Country” puts a silly grin on my face every time I hear it. Come on Canada – sing along, I promise it feels great.

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Growing Up


Notes To Ponder:

Today is my birthday, I turn 55 and remain exactly the same person – albeit a little wiser.

Originally posted on notestoponder:

As a child all I wanted was to grow up. Milestones were measured by a year or two rather than decades. The first day of school, becoming a teenager, the start of high school, sweet sixteen, drivers licence, graduation; all marked on the calendar and counted down with anticipation.

Wanting to grow up, but not be like the adults I knew was worrisome. They seemed to have lost imagination; their lives appeared stagnant and predictable.  It never occurred to me that responsibility was a serious matter, nor did it cross my mind that they were doing the best they could. I lost sleep over an imaginary line I had to cross; the point of no return when I would become like them.

Outrage crushed my excitement; years of anticipation exposed as a lie. They came clean on Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy; I settled into the reality that…

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