Archives for: April 2010
By helen on Apr 16, 2010 | In The Black Perspective of Views of America By Helen Burleson
LET’S TALK NUKES
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
There is a valid reason why many countries, especially the smaller countries do not trust the United States of America. There is a justifiable rationale for why so many countries do not have respect or confidence in the United States of America. We, Americans, of course, love and respect our country and want her to do well under any set of circumstances.
We must admit that we have always talked tough and carried a big stick and have not hesitated to use our big stick whenever we felt threatened; and, even occasions where we were not threatened. The reason why we now occupy this country is because we fought the Native Americans. The Indians had bows and arrow and we used muskets and cannons. It’s no surprise that we won because the Indians were out gunned.
In the history of the world, we, Americans, are the only people who have used atomic energy to end a war. Both the physical and human destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima left millions displaced and many mangled or dead.
Now we have a president who believes the combination practice of moderation, negotiation and compromise is a valued premise upon which our foreign policy should be based. This is not only wise, but sane and humane. It means we will not take unfair advantage of those who pose no threat or harm to us; and, if they do not have nuclear weapons, we will not use ours to settle disputes. The president, prudently left open the option of reserving the right to use nuclear weapons if we are threatened based on actionable intelligence that imminent danger comes from a country poised to attack us with nuclear power; and, then we will meet such force with force. This equalizes the playing field and reduces tensions among smaller nations who may feel the pressure to develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves against any pre-emptive strikes that we may launch. This they know from experience can and did occur in Iraq. Such potential can cause smaller nations to fear for their safety. A frightened people are an irrational people and irrational behavior can wreak havoc of unimagined proportions. An example of this is Afghanistan, where George Bush sent troops in to go after the Taliban and Al-Qaida. This war which President Obama inherited is now being called Obama’s war. In order to bring this war to a conclusion, President Obama ordered additional troops in hopes that a stronger input of force could reduce the time required to defeat the Taliban and to reduce American tragedies. History may not be on his side in this conflagration, given the propensity of this nation to produce so many Afgahani people willing to commit suicide in order to take out as many of their perceived enemy as they can.
Many people think that war means that we go into a country, kill a lot of people and beat them down until they surrender. There is another side to that coin – the loss of innocence and loss of life of the fruit of our wombs – our future leaders, innovators, states people, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers and others who could contribute to society in a positive way. What about those lives? What about those mothers, those wives, those children, those brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and other relatives who only have left a flag, some ribbons or some medals. How many of you welcome and relish the opportunity the meet a flag draped coffin as it returns to our shores after being killed on foreign shores? I don’t think that enough of us think of the human toll caused by war. War is not always inevitable. War and weapons of war should be used wisely, and with great discretion, and only as a means of self defense.
This new policy of nuclear stand down is the wisest, sanest, and safest policy that we could conceive of. What happens to smaller countries when they fear the big stick? They have one alternative and that is to develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves. So far there are a limited number of countries that have nuclear weapons and we know who they are and the extent of their stockpile.
I applaud President Obama for attempting to deescalate nuclear proliferation. The President is to be commended for making us safer by demonstrating to the world that he is a man of peace who wants to solve problems with right not might. Thank you again, Mr. President for trying to bring peace to the world through honest dialogue, communications, understanding and reconciliation. It will not be perfect, for man knows no perfection; but, it is a step in the right direction and our children and their children will thank you for making the world a more tranquil place where they can grow up without the fear of war.
According to the Bible, there will be wars and rumors of wars, but we owe it to ourselves to keep them to a minimum.
By Randle Loeb on Apr 15, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
“Ballot TRACE” to get second test in May 4 Special Vacancy Election
Innovative technology on track for full rollout in August 2010 Primary Election
The second test of Denver’s new Ballot TRACE system, a free mail ballot tracking service, will begin this week. The service is being offered to voters in the City Council District 1 Special Vacancy Election.
Voters can sign up at www.denvervotes.org to receive text messages or emails that track the progress of their mail ballot through the postal system. Voters who do not have access to a computer but do have a cell phone may sign up to receive text messages by calling 311, Denver’s centralized information and citizen assistance agency.
About 350 voters took part in the November 2009 beta test of this first-in-the-nation ballot tracking system. The May 4 Special Vacancy Election will provide an opportunity to beta test the upgrades made to the system since 2009. The full system is scheduled to be offered to all Denver voters later this year, in time for the August 10 Primary Election.
The latest improvements will allow voters to receive additional messages after they mail their ballot back, letting them know when their ballot has been received by the main Denver Post Office and is on its way back to the Denver Elections Division. In the 2009 test, ballots were not tracked between the time the voter mailed their ballot back and when the ballot was received at the Denver Elections Division.
Ballot TRACE utilizes a new bar-code technology within the postal system and a web-based software and messaging system. Feedback from voters who sign up for the optional system will be used to continually improve the program for future elections.
“It is clear to us that voters would like some assurance about the status of their mail ballots as those ballots move through the postal system. This technology gives the voter the ability to track their ballot at every stage of the process,” said Denver Clerk and Recorder Stephanie O’Malley. “We think ballot tracking technology is the wave of the future, and we hope that Council District 1 voters will help give Ballot TRACE another test drive before we launch the product to all of Denver’s voters later this year.”
Ballot TRACE does not affect voting or ballot processing in any way. It is simply an additional way of communicating with voters. It was created in a partnership between the Denver Elections Division and local software company i3logix, with the assistance of the United States Postal Service.
By Randle Loeb on Apr 15, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
Commentary by Randle Loeb:
“Concentration Camp Liberators Gather in Washington, D.C. at the site of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.”
Many of those who came were in their late eighties. A cameraman, Arthur Mairzer captured footage of nearby residents who were forced to march through Buchenwald where many loved ones were cremated after being gassed. Most refused to acknowledge the usual and customary brutal treatment of other people, denying that these atrocities were their responsibility, nor for that matter are many people who live through such oblique terror today able to discern their own part as culprits in the business of annihilation of sentient beings. The stench of human decay and burning flesh was the only reminder that nothing is worse than human misery inflicted by other sentient beings. The brutality achingly clear and pervasive reminds us again, “could we be capable of directly participating in the most tragic modern day assault of humanity laid waste by our own hand?” As white slave masters over other white captives the gruesome scene is barely discerned as real, anymore now than then. Yet, in this place, era and time we have brutalized a nation of indige4nous people of Turtle Island who are subjected to the same inequities of violence and lack of attention. In the same breathe that we take in this moment we subject and brutalize the people of Palestine and Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq but somehow see our treachery against another human being as more noble and righteous than the oppressive forces of Rhodesia, Somalia, Mozambique and the Congo? What is our motivation for covering up our complicity in allowing acts of brutality to continue against innocent victims then or now? How can we suggest that, “It did not take place,” any more than the brutality of the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese and all the other world’s sovereign super powers exploited, abused and decimated whole nations of people world wide with impunity as victors looting and destroying in the name of liberation and freedom? We are all slave masters as long as we condemn others for this and that action and do not take credit for the same resolute behaviors outright in our shabby lives?
Then read this and,
“LET THE HEARALD SING, ENOUGH, I WON’T PRACTICE WAR NO MORE, NO MORE.”
Remembering the atrocities of World War II
At the Holocaust Memorial Museum, 120 veterans who liberated concentration camps gather to share their haunting recollections
(By Annie Gowen, The Washington Post)
Thursday, April 15, 2010
"The 120 veterans wore red, white and blue tags emblazoned with the word "Liberator" and crept along on walkers. Others could hardly hear as they toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday. But the memories of the atrocities they witnessed in the waning months of World War II -- when soldiers from several armored and infantry divisions liberated concentration camps throughout Germany and Austria -- remained achingly clear.
Some attending what museum officials said is one of the largest gatherings of liberators ever held remembered cremation ovens were still warm, ashes futzing in the foul air. They witnessed stacks of bodies on railroad cars. How their hearts ached when commanding officers forbade them from passing along rations to the starving people, for fear the rich food would sicken them further.
Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen said he would never forget one emaciated man who was so happy to see the American he tried to hug him with fragile arms.
"I can still see a pair of eyes," he said. The man's look was penetrating. It's haunted him for 65 years.
Thorne-Thomsen, 87, is among the dwindling number of soldiers who helped liberate death camps in World War II and who traveled to Washington for this week'sNational Days of Remembrance, which will culminate in a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. Museum officials said that given the advancing age of many of the men -- most are in their late 80s or older -- it could be one of the last gatherings of its kind.
"They have a story of enormous importance to share with new generations . . . and so we wanted for one last time to bring them all together," said Sara J. Bloomfield, the director of the museum, where historians spent time this week capturing some of their stories for its archives.
"We all have different stories to tell, but we all feel the same thing: How could a human being inflict such pain on another human being?" said Edward Ichiyama, a Japanese-American liberator from Hawaii who, because of his ancestry, wasn't allowed to enlist in the Army until well into the war. "We have to speak in one voice. We lived through one of the most terrible ordeals in history."
Ichiyama said that over the years he has often given speeches about his experiences liberating a sub-camp of Dachau at schools and universities. Invariably, even today, he says he gets questions from skeptical audience members who don't believe the Holocaust happened.
"There are millions of naysayers who don't believe that the Holocaust happened," he said. "But all I can say is, 'I was a witness.' "
Ralph DiCecco, 85, of Seattle said he and his fellow soldiers didn't understand what they were fighting for until that fateful moment April 29, 1945, when his division entered Dachau's gate. In the days that followed, the young men retreated from the horrifying scene -- with its stench and piles of human flesh -- to bombed-out buildings in Munich to camp and to try to make sense of what happened.
"We began to realize what we were fighting against, not what we were fighting for. Does that make sense?" he said. After Dachau, "it began to sink in."
Dorothy Pecora, 90, a McLean resident and former Army nurse, showed off faded black and white pictures of herself that she had carefully preserved in plastic lining, tending to prisoners in the Ebensee camp in Austria. Some of them survived with her help, she said. But many didn't.
Arthur Mainzer, 87, was a young cameraman with the Army in 1945 when he was able to capture one of the most chilling moments of the liberation: when American authorities forced Germans who had lived near the camps to see the atrocities and -- in some cases -- to help with the disposal of the bodies.
With a 16mm Kodachrome movie camera, Mainzer recorded the reaction of residents of Weimar near the Buchenwald concentration camp. The images flickered on a small screen at a reception at the museum Wednesday.
"They walked through like they were in a hurry to get out," he recalled. "The women covering their noses with handkerchiefs because the stench was so awful from the bodies stacked up."
Mainzer's wartime experience was so traumatic he tried not to think about it for years afterward, until he was asked to participate in a documentary about combat cameramen in 2000.
Thorne-Thomsen, who lives in Shreveport, La., and has a small photography and printing business, also had difficulty talking about what he saw.
"It was 50 years before I was able to speak about it to anybody, even my wife and kids," Thorne-Thomsen said. "Then it was like a 50-ton weight off my shoulders."
He was part of a forward operating unit of the Army, so he wasn't able to stay to find out what happened to the old man with the haunting eyes. But he knows in his heart that the man survived."
By Andrea Juarez on Apr 12, 2010 | In Fork Fingers Chopsticks By Andrea Juarez
Fried rice is a go to recipe for me when I have leftover rice and vegetables in the crisper, when I want something healthy but filling, and when I don't want to put a lot of effort into a weeknight dinner. Most of the time I eat a vegetarian version, but if I need the extra protein I add shrimp or chicken but you could also substitute with pork or beef.
This recipe uses a minimal amount of oil and get's its flavor from garlic, onions, chili and five spice seasoning. And, the nuttiness and chewiness of the brown rice makes this dish even more enticing. . . . . Read more, view more photos & recipe.
Andrea Juarez is an award-winning writer. She writes on a variety of topics, however, her food blog ForkFingersChopsticks.com is the nexus of her love for food, research and culture. There you’ll find recipes for cooking an ingredient several ways. She makes cooking both fun and interesting.
By Randle Loeb on Apr 12, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
“On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga., at age 63. Vice President Harry S Truman became president.” From the New York Times, On This Day: April 12, 2010.
What are the implications of the tragic and untimely loss of the thirty-second president of the United States? Of course, all of this is a canard. If he had lived out his life as normal people would expect America would not have had the vestiges of war in Korea, Vietnam and the likes of Kennedy, Eisenhower or Nixon. Likely Anti-heroes, like Khrushchev and most of the despotic counterparts throughout the globe would have been held in check and likely behavior on the part of the U.S. with respect to nuclear fission and military recklessness abroad would have been stymied. These are a few of the reasons that we have lost faith in America.
On the other side of the coin, without him we would have had no end to the depression and would likely be the despotic outpost of a greater tyrant than any that exists today. Jews would have been annihilated and Israel would never have existed. It is fascinating how much we owe to the circumstances of history making great leaders and thrusting in their grasp the abilities that transform a civilization. Looking back a thousand years will there be anyone touting the virtues of this sitting president?
When leaders play politics safe and choose the road that is common they will not meet the stranger or take on the issues that are fundamental as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did. They cannot because they do not embrace the wisdom of experience. This president has stepped aside from taking risks just as this governor and mayor have avoided controversy to preserve their legacy. In death Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor, stood for the intangible of greatness that is embodied in a person who transcends their office by standing on the edge of social change. Had we had them both a little longer we might have seen a society and a world that really embraced peace and prosperity for all of the inhabitants of the earth. Instead we see the same old, same old saw.
“God bless us all, Tiny Tim.”
By Randle Loeb on Apr 11, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
Libraries Mean Business
Celebrate National Library Week with Denver Public Library
(DENVER) -- National Library Week (April 11 – 17) is an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians.
The Denver Public Library is celebrating National Library Week by highlighting the many ways individuals, businesses and organizations benefit from using the Library’s collections and services.
“In these difficult economic times, Libraries provide customers with access to information, ideas and resources to help them find jobs, grow businesses and stay connected in our digital world. Simply put, Libraries mean business,” said Diane Lapierre, director Community Relations, Denver Public Library.
The Denver Public Library provides customers with access to 2.5 million items; access to the Internet and other resources; support in a competitive job market; BizBoost, a business research solutions support desk, as well as one-on-one assistance with resources for beginning a new business. Additionally, at Denver Central Library, customers can take advantage of a Community Technology Center where customers can find help with resume writing, watch videos on successful job interview techniques, and search for jobs via the denverpost.com jobs kiosk (in 2009, DPL’s job portal had more than 20,000 views).
“At our library, people of all backgrounds come together for community meetings, lectures and programs, to do research with the assistance of a trained professional, to get help finding a job or to find homework help,” said M. Celeste Jackson, public information officer, Denver Public Library.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.
In addition to Denver’s physical library locations, visit Denver Public Library Online at www.denverlibrary.org for downloadable collections, program schedules and more.
By Randle Loeb on Apr 11, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
“DEMOCRACY AT THE CROSSROADS”
When Yogi Berra made the remark that, “When you get to the fork in the road take it.” He meant that destiny keeps going like time and the river, for good, no matter which fork you take. This means that there is no right answer for choosing a senator, or anything else to represent the candidates for the congressional delegation in Colorado. And yet, I think not.
In his book on democracy and what it has meant to the world, Barnes, one of the founders of Common Cause in Colorado says that in the earliest rebellions of the people in Great Britain, that people stood up to the barons and stripped them of their authority by usurping their rights and privileges as citizens. In this country we are faced with a similar circumstance in choosing Andrew Romanoff as the representative as senator to Washington, D.C.
Romanoff is a person who aligns himself with the people. He has been a champion of human rights and the will of the people since he was first working at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Romanoff has been a champion of the struggle for the people to have a chance to weigh in on who should represent them as officials of government. He has successfully waged a campaign to determine who should be making decisions about leadership in the affairs of government and how those choices must be made.
All of the time that he served as the Speaker of the House he made time for citizens to speak to him candidly and consistently. A mark of a highly skilled leader is whether or not he is available to the people regardless of the hardships of his schedule and commitments to significant officials of government. Mr. Romanoff has been a champion in the sense that he always has his door open for the people. Wherever he has been able to solicit advice and help people he has freely offered his support and listened to the ideas espoused by citizens.
There is no greater mark for the creation of a republic than the will of the people being recognized first and foremost in the decisions of the organization or the state.
We stand at a time of great uncertainty about the safety and well being of our world. We will not prevail without leadership that recognizes the rights and purposes of the people. When November comes it is certain that Andrew Romanoff will be the person at the helm of the congressional delegation and for those who are waiting it is a time to listen.
By Randle Loeb on Apr 11, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
As Families Gather at Dover, Efforts to Ease Pain
By ELISABETH BUMILLER New York Times April 11, 2010
At the main entry point for the nation's war dead, the
military is trying to meet demand and accommodate an
expectation of increasing casualties from Afghanistan.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — Shortly after 4:20 a.m. on Easter Sunday, a pair of flag-covered cases with the remains of two Marines, both killed the previous week in Afghanistan, were carried out of the belly of a C-17 into the sight of their waiting families.
The remains of Lance Cpl. Tyler O. Griffin were carried in a flag-covered transfer case at Dover Air Force Base on Easter Sunday.
As two mothers, a widow and a knot of other kin watched from the tarmac, the bodies of Sgt. Frank J. World, 25, of Buffalo and Lance Cpl. Tyler O. Griffin, 19, of Voluntown, Conn., were loaded into a large van. Marines in white gloves and camouflage fatigues gave a final salute in the dark chill, then marched in formation behind the van as it rolled slowly toward the base mortuary, the largest in the nation.
In the past year, as the remains of 462 service members along with nearly 2,000 relatives have passed through Dover, the experience on the flight line has become as common as it is excruciating. Now, to meet the demand and to accommodate what Dover officials expect to be increasing casualties from Afghanistan, the military has embarked on a building surge at this main entry point for the nation’s war dead.
In January, Dover opened the Center for the Families of the Fallen, a $1.6 million, 6,000-square-foot space of soft lighting and earth-toned furniture where parents, spouses, children, siblings and other relatives assemble before they are taken to the flight line. On May 1, there is to be a groundbreaking for a new $4.5 million hotel for families who need to spend the night. The same day, ground will also be broken on what Dover officials are calling a meditation center, a nondenominational space with an adjacent garden where relatives can pray or be alone.
The building boom is under way as the Iraq war is winding down — some 50,000 American troops are set to withdraw from the country between now and August — and asPresident Obama has set July 2011 for the start of withdrawals from Afghanistan. But most of the 30,000 extra troops Mr. Obama ordered to Afghanistan are still due to arrive this summer, bringing the total American force in that country to nearly 100,000. Heavy fighting is expected in the months ahead.
“We would truly like to be out of business,” said Col. Robert H. Edmondson, the commander of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover. “Clearly, there’s a big requirement right now, and it’s a real requirement. So we have to deal with that.”
The need to provide for families at the base began a year ago last week, when a new Pentagon policy reversed an 18-year ban on photographs of the flag-covered cases and allowed news coverage, if relatives wished, of the return of the war dead. At the same time, the military began paying travel and lodging expenses for families who wanted to be present for the transfers. Before then, expenses were not paid and families were not encouraged to come.
Dover officials had no idea how many families would travel to witness the 15-minute transfers, but so far about 75 percent have. Some 55 percent of families have allowed news coverage, these days often just a single Associated Press photographer. (Steve Ruark, 80 trips to Dover since last May.)
Of the 462 service members whose remains have come through Dover from April 5, 2009, the first day of the new policy, to this past Thursday, a great majority — 332 — were killed in Afghanistan.
Dover officials acknowledge that the new amenities can hardly soften the impact and that many family members are so stunned — typically they arrive at Dover only 24 or 36 hours after they have been notified of a loved one’s death — that they barely notice the surroundings. Chaplains have learned to be ready to catch family members, typically mothers, whose knees sometimes buckle when they first see the flag-covered cases of their children come off the planes. Because of military schedules, the flights land at any time, but often in the middle of the night.
“You’re kind of numb, and getting up that early in the morning, you’re even number,” Sergeant World’s mother, Susan World-Missana, said by telephone from Buffalo a few days after the return of the body of her son, who was killed by a homemade bomb near the southern Afghan town of Marja. Sergeant World left behind a wife, Beth World, and a 3-year-old son and a 2-month-old daughter he had never met. He was due home in two months.
The family center, Mrs. World-Missana said, “looked like a mortuary, but it was impressive.”
“I mean, it was very nice,” she added. “But due to the circumstances, I don’t think anything’s going to matter.”
The idea for the family center came in large part from Suzie Schwartz, the wife of Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff. The couple was at Dover one night last June to meet with families in a crowded chapel lobby, one of the only spaces available at the time. Mrs. Schwartz watched as one mother’s anger about the death of her daughter spilled over to the others grieving in the room.
“She just kept saying, ‘It’s my little girl,’ ” Mrs. Schwartz recalled. “She was staring at this other family. They were probably three feet away from her. And this family was just crying uncontrollably. And I watched her face, and she was just ready to explode.”
Appalled by the cramped quarters and lack of privacy, Mrs. Schwartz told her husband that something had to be done.
The family center opened its doors a little more than six months later. “On behalf of a grateful nation” is emblazoned on a wall in the reception area. Inside are a large room with separate seating areas, additional private rooms, a kitchen and a children’s room with a crib and toys. There are diaper changing areas in the women’s room — and in the men’s room, too. “It was again one of those recognitions that not all of our fallen service members are male,” said S. Todd Rose, the director of the mortuary affairs division at Dover. Chaplains, mental health professionals and other staff members are on hand to greet the families.
The nine-suite hotel is to be built by the Fisher House Foundation, which erects free lodging near military hospitals for the families of recuperating service members. This Fisher House, as they are called, is to open in the fall and will be built, like the others, largely with donations. Mr. Obama, who witnessed the return to Dover of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan this past October, gave the foundation $250,000 of his 2009 Nobel Prize money, most of which will go to the new Dover lodging. For now the military puts families up in town.
Kenneth Fisher, the chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, said one of the first questions he asked was whether the new lodging at Dover would “stand the test of time.” Like the officials at Dover, he decided there would be a need beyond the current wars. Victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon were brought to Dover, as were the remains of the seven astronauts who died in the 2003 explosion of the space shuttle Columbia. Since 1955, the remains of some 60,000 service members and civilians have passed through Dover.
For now, the center is focused on people like Larry World, Sergeant World’s older brother, who stood witness on the Dover tarmac on Easter morning after the staff at the family center had tried their best to comfort him. “There’s really nothing that can ease your pain,” Mr. World said, “but it was professional and it had a caring touch to it.”
"There is nothing one can say, other than allowing these families and the public nearly two decades without having a chance to say good-bye to their loved ones was cruel." Commentary Randle Loeb