24 April 2007

Child Abuse



A friend of mine on care2 sent me the poem of Sarah which got me thinking about child abuse, then remembering my own experiences.

When I was in Hastings, Michigan for my great-aunt Elva's funeral, my dad complained to me about Ferrysburg, stating that he did not like that place because someone there had reported my parents for child abuse and he said they tried to take us away, but the Coast Guard intervened on my dad's behalf. I did not know before that this was the 2nd time. Appearantly, according to my dad, "they" tried to take us away when I was a toddler living in Detroit, Michigan.

Was I abused?

I am the adult child of an alcoholic and a military brat.

The Coast Guard had a saying..."If we wanted you to have a family, we would have issued you one." The Coast Guard taught how to kill, not how to be a good spouse or a good parent.

And as for the alcohol, that just created a Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde. I loved my dad when he was Dr. Jeckyl. Mr. Hyde was a terror.

Appearantly, according to my paternal grandmother, it was something that ran in our family. Her father was an alcoholic. She also told me that when my dad's father and she was married, my dad's dad hit her. She told her mom, and her mom told her "you made your bed, now you lay in it", so she waited until he was asleep and beat him with some kind of wood. She said he never hit her again after that.

My dad's father died of heart disease when my dad was 7 years old, and my dad was responsible for financially supporting his family delivering papers in the morning and working at a store after school, so I know my dad's life as a child was not easy either.

When I was about 14, we had just come back to the states from Italy, and I was doing dishes with my paternal grandmother. I remember telling her that I never wanted to have kids because I did not want to be like my dad. She replied that just because my dad was an alcoholic would not mean I would be one. That was when she told me about her dad, and stated that she was not an alcoholic, which was true. Yet the cycle continued. Not with me. Some how, I did not get the "alcohol gene", but my grandmother was not an alcoholic either, yet it skipped a generation to my dad. That concerns me, since I really want to have children, fearing I will have a child who will inherit my father's alcoholism.

I am very fortunate that I had other adults in my life who cared about me, and I am very grateful for these people.

  • I will always remember the babysitter in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who gave me the little doll.
  • I will always remember the other babysitter in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who gave me the lifesize doll with the huge box of baby clothes, even though my mom did take the box of clothes away from me when my sister was born and dress my sister in the doll clothes.
  • I will always remember Mr. Bob Coobaugh (sp?) in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who used to weld my bike back together for me.
  • I will always remember Mrs. Ida May Thomas in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who taught Bible school from her trailer, and taught me how to crochet, played Scrabble with me, and paid attention to me.
  • I will always remember Paula's mom in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who used to give me taffy.
  • I will always remember Mr. Charles Shultz in Cape May, New Jersey, who gave me $50 for sweeping his storage so I could go to Walt Disney World with the rest of my Baptist Youth Fellowship group. He also made sure I ate every night, even though I was self concious of eating food that did not belong to me. I only had the $50 dollars I earned from Mr. Shultz to pay for admission into the park, which left only a few dollars for food or anything else I needed during the 3 days in Kissimee, Florida (this was when I was 12 years old), so I was very concious of my budget & everything else.

I realize the list can go on for quite a while. I want to thank all the people who cared about me along the path of growing up. Thank you.

10 April 2007

Who runs our country?



It would be great to believe that we the people decide who runs our country, but then I see news reports where there are some people who believe that having raised more money than someone else for primary election use means more people in your political party want you to be president.

Then we hear from a Republican candidate who admits registering as a Democrat just to vote for someone he believes cannot win.

To donate money to a candidate, a person does not even have to register to vote, let alone register for a party. So don't you think there are corporations, people from different countries, people from different political party lines donating money to affect the outcome of a primary presidential race? Think about it.

When did becoming president have to do with having the most money? Actually, it has been this way since the beginning of the U.S.

Many of us learned in school that the reason George Washington became General, and from that our first President of the U.S., because he had the money to outfit the troops.

Now Corporations run our country and our lives.

Think about it...

To rent an apartment, buy a house, get a job...these are all affected by our credit scores. Our credit scores are determined by companies and corporations. And to even see what our own credit score is, we have to pay the 3 companies that control our lives with personal information other companies and corporations tell them about us. It does not have to be accurate. If it is inaccurate, a person has to jump through hoops to try to correct it, and the companies & corporations are believed before the individual.

And most of the individuals who work in these companies who control our lives are not even here in the U.S. When calling, I usually find myself talking to someone in a call center in another country like India.

So I am not afraid of countries like Iran or Iraq having a nuclear bomb. The real danger is where these countries have our personal information and identities. After all, we know that here in the U.S., our identities are our social securities numbers, not our names.

In Houston, Texas, I was dating a guy who's ex-employer used my ex-boyfriend's social security number to set up cable in the ex-employer's home. When my ex-boyfriend found out, he was obviously upset and told the cable company that he never lived there, and he had proof. The cable company told my ex-boyfriend that it was his responsibility to repay the ex-employer's bill since he let his ex-employer have his social security number (yes, they really said that because I was there and heard her...even though to get a job here in the U.S., it is required that a person give the employer their social security number), and it was up to my ex-boyfriend to then sue his ex-employer for the money.

Even the war in Iraq is hindered by corporations. Our military cannot accomplish their mission because much of our tax money is going to pay mercenaries who get in the way, and are not accountable to the U.S. military rules of engagement. Think about it...would you rather join a military that has rules, regulations, and little pay, or a corporation where you have no rules, no regulations, and at least 10 times more money? So who is really in charge in Iraq?

Even our health care is dictated by companies and corporations. It is our employers who decide our health insurance, and what to cover. Yet, our politicians have government health insurance. It is our tax money that pays for their health insurance. So how is it they would not accept a government plan for all Americans because they said it was socialism? Why is it our represenatives in government can be socialists with health care? Where is the logic?

Why is it our tax money can support corporations like Haliburton to buy politicians like Cheney, but it cannot support hard working American individuals to get health care?

And then, while we wait on the insurance companies to pay our doctor and hospital bills, the doctors and hospitals turn our accounts into credit reporting agencies as delinquent, and our credit scores plummet, which makes it much more difficult to rent an apartment, to buy a house, to buy a vehicle, to land a job.

So who really runs our country?

Most people do not know who donates money to primary presidential elections. Do you really believe that all the money being donated though is from an individual who wants that candidate to win the main presidential race? And will that candidate be like Cheney and let corporations run our land?...at a cost of course. Our cost.

05 April 2007

When did the U.S. become about the Corporations instead of about the People?




I heard on both the 6 p.m. and the 11 p.m. news and different network stations yesterday that gas prices are predicted to rise to $4.00 a gallon this summer. This is outrageous.



  • On the 11th of December, 2006, we paid $2.359 per gallon of gas.

  • On the 25th of January, 2007, we paid $2.439 per gallon of gas.

  • On the 13th of March, 2007, we paid $2.549 per gallon of gas.

  • On the 22nd of March, 2007, we paid $2.589 per gallon of gas.

  • On the 28th of March, 2007, we paid $2.649 per gallon of gas.

We do not drive a big SUV. Instead, we drive a small Hundai Elantra that has almost 100,000 miles on it. These miles were mostly aquired going to and from work. Where we live, there is no public transportation, since Perryopolis is classified as a rural area. When we moved here, we looked for apartments closer to where my husband works, but they were mostly for senior citizens, or they did not accept our 3 precious cats. Since we are not senior citizens yet, we found an apartment about 15 miles away.


That means we have to drive to work.


Now, it is ironic to me that driving to and from work is not tax deductible according to our H&R TaxCut software, but executives can deduct the cost of playing golf. Does this sound right to you?


And yet the price of gas continues to rise. Why?


According to USA Today at http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/earnings/2006-01-30-exxonmobil_x.htm


ExxonMobil amasses record $36B 2005 profit

And according to Business Week at http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/feb2007/pi20070201_663405.htm



Exxon Mobil (XOM)
Reiterates 5 STARS (strong buy)
Analyst: Tina Vital
The company posts fourth quarter operating EPS of $1.69, vs. $1.65
one year earlier, reflecting lower natural gas price realizations
and narrowed refining margins, and beating our estimate by 17 cents. Results exclude a tax benefit of 7 cents. Oil and gas production declined 0.9% but was above our expectations; we forecast 3% growth for 2007. We are increasing our 2007 operating EPS estimate by 55 cents to $7.12 and our forecast for 2008 by 78 cents to $7.59. Blending our discounted cash-flow and relative valuations, we are raising our 12-month target price by $5 to $89, an expected enterprise
value of 7.4 times our 2007 EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortization) estimate -- a premium to peers.



So while we are held hostage by the price of gas, oil companies here in the U.S. are making record profits. We are suppose to have laws against this kind of extortion, yet, why would our politicians care since our president is an oil man himself. Of course he is going to side with the oil companies.


It really bothers me when I hear foreigners say that the U.S. is a good place to make money, but not a good place to live, so they make money here, and then go back to their home to live. Well, this is my home. I care. I live here.


When I was in Greece in the summer/fall of 1997, I saw on the news 4 of our Republican senators proclaim that President Clinton who was trying to negotiate peace between Greece and Turkey had no power to negotiate any kind of deal, and that the House of Representatives in the U.S. held all the power. I heard Senator Frist declare this, and I thought "how treasonous". The senators were there to help negotiate the sale of weapons, so it was in there interest that Greece and Turkey remain at war.


Now, it is ok for a Senator to proclaim on Greek television that the president of the U.S. has no power, but a person is un-American for questioning 9/11 or the war in Iraq. Where is the logic?


If the price of gas is raising because of the shortage of oil, then why are oil companies making record breaking profits?


We are an intelligent nation. Let's remember to ask questions. Why are prices sky rocketing, when oil companies are making record breaking profits? Why are we paying Halliburton trillions of dollars? Why do we have mercinaries in Iraq and Afghanistan undermining our military? Who is really profitting from this war in Iraq? It is not the American people. It is not the Iraqis. So are we there so a few executives can become billionaires? Is it worth the thousands of lives that have been taken from us? Or are we just cattle to be called to slaughter whenever our corporations demand it?

03 April 2007

World Religions in Education



First of all, I would like to say:

Happy Passover!!!


Happy Holy Tuesday!!!

Happy Declaration of the Second Republic "Power Taken by the Military" in Guinea!!!

Last night, my husband switched over to CNN at about 7 p.m. to catch the news. A piece about a new law in England caught my interest. It seems, according to CNN, that England has decided to quite teaching about the Holocaust for fear of offending people. A year ago, I would not have understood this, but after my experience with a forum about the holocaust at http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=671&pst=776268
I understand.

There are laws in Europe that make it illegal to deny The Holocaust, and God forbid we question anything. In the group, I announced I would play devil's advocate because of the law that made it illegal to deny the Holocaust.

Next thing I knew, I was sent hate messages and told by care2 that the group needed a warning or to be made private or to delete the thread. I chose to post the warning in the heading of the group. I was also told by someone that it was insulting for me to even bring up the topic of holocausts.

So with this reaction, is it any wonder England would pass a law forbidding the subject of the Holocaust?

It reminds me of the incident at Pittsburgh airport where a rabbi threatened to sue the airport because the airport had a Christmas tree and not a Star of David. So the airport took down the Christmas tree since it felt unable to represent every religion in the world.

Looking for stories on the subject, I found this I would like to share. It is by W. Owen Cole:

World Religions in Education

Shap Journal 2000 – 2001

Time

It ain't necessarily so

W Owen Cole

Historians and traditionalists, which is what Religious Education teachers often are, frequently behave in different ways when faced with identical facts. The religious studies person is primarily concerned with the meaning of an event, not with whether it actually happened. Within the Christian tradition we may be used to this and have come to accept it, but have we? Recently, I was asked to moderate some MA essays about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Not one of the writers made the point that the evidence is almost totally unreliable; most of it comes from Christian sources, the New Testament, the rest is probably based on hearsay. No contemporary British court of law would give it a hearing. The students, and most of the tutors were Christians, so they were credulous to an extent that an historian is not allowed to be. Of course, the religious studies approach is to consider what the death and resurrection of Jesus mean. There are circumstances in which the RE teacher may have to be concerned with what actually happened. I select four examples from English history.

St Alban

Not, one would think a controversial character, but the actual date of his martyrdom, if discovered, might set back the Christian presence in Britain by one hundred years, from about 304 to just before 212. Usually his death is placed in the period of Diocletian's final great persecution, but the Caesar Constantine seems to have avoided the order being carried out. If, as records suggest, Alban was tried before a Caesar it mightwell have been a son of the Emperor Severus whoaccompanied him to Britain and became emperor whenhe died here. Is Alban part of the story of the Romanswhich we teach? Incidentally, when you teach the Romans what place do we give to Jesus, the member of the Roman Empire whohad the greatest influence upon world history, taking along view, of any member of the Empire? Or Paul, the best known Roman citizen? More is known about him than almost any of the emperors. Is it proper to be silent about them?

The Crusades

Most famously this is the story of Richard the Lionheart. You may not teach that allegedly he was gay but knowing this, does it affect your thinking about him or them? Is the all too common picture of gays as effeminate challenged? But also, the English hero had little time for these islands, visiting only twice, and briefly, to be crowned and raise money for the Third Crusade. (He did not love England as much as theEnglish have traditionally loved him). Crusaders raised much of the money they needed for the expedition from the Jews who were bankers, being allowed to do few other things, such as own landed estates. For aficionados of Robin Hood, if it all happened in the days of Richard, friars had not yet been invented! (pace, Harry Ramsden). In 1190 a crusader from York borrowed money fromthe Jews to finance his venture. He stirred up the citizens of York against the Jews who sheltered in Clifford's Tower where they were burned to death. He, meanwhile, went to the Minster where the bonds of the transaction were stored, and destroyed the evidence by burning it in the nave of the Minster. A hundred years later, 'the King's Jews', as they were known, having no wealth left, and so being of no value, were expelled from England. Among the last was a group put on a boat fora continental destination. Their boat grounded on the mud flats near the mouth of the Thames. The captain advised his cargo to stretch their legs. When the tide turned and the Jews tried to re-embark, they were repelled and left to drown, as he reminded them how God had helped them at the Red Sea! Officially, there were no Jews in England until Oliver Cromwell readmitted them in 1655. How did Shakespeare and his audience know that Shylock was a typical Jew? The story of Jewish massacres and the Jews' eventual expulsion, an episode of English history which I did not know about until 1990, reminds us that holocaust was not an isolated episode in Jewish history. The first British legislation aimed at controlling immigration was passedin 1905 when the British were anxious not to be overwhelmed by Jews seeking shelter from persecution in eastern Europe. Some of those who sought sanctuary in the thirties were turned away, often to face death. In the second world war period, Jewish and other refugees were sometimes put into concentration camps in fear that they might be spies. The story of British Jewry should serve as a reminder that the tolerant image which our governments seek to create and perpetuate is not necessarily true.

Slavery

For many years I taught about Clarkson and
Wilberforce and England's part in suppressing the slave trade. Only comparatively recently have I discovered how active they had been in promoting the industry. Even more recent is my awareness that black African rulers shared with Europeans in the process of enslavement, a fact which some blacks have yet to come to terms with. Liverpool, Bristol, and the Industrial Revolution were built, not a little, on the foundations of slavery. As an interesting aside it might be noted thatnowhere in the New Testament is slavery condemned! Perhaps it does advocate humane slavery, as I heard someone argue recently. What is humane slavery? Incidentally, much as I enjoy the music of Nat King Cole, he reminds me continually, that at least one member of my clan owned slaves and made them take his name!

The legacy of Empire

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre so vividly depicted inthe film Gandhi and the assault on participants in the Salt March alerted many people for the first time to a side of imperialism with which they were not familiar. Recent television programmes about the contribution of Commonwealth citizens to the British opposition to Germany in two world wars have brought about a realisation that two and a half million volunteers from what was India, and others from the Caribbean, came to the aid of what they were taught was the mother country. They were with the British Expeditionary Force,they faced the hazard of Dunkirk, they were at El Alamein and, most famously, in Burma. Yet how often are they seen even in news footage of these events? Churchill, apparently, did not like them. Montgomery preferred not to notice them, unlike his predecessor Auchinleck who spoke several Indian languages. Some years ago a plaque to the contribution of the Indians was unveiled by our present queen in St Paul's Cathedral, but in 1995 few Indians were to be seen in the national commemorative parades and the serviceswere purely Christian. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, who had volunteered to fight for the Empire and had won 28 VCs, were not allowed publicly to pray for Britain or the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as we might say, it might be remembered that non-conformists were often not well represented in Middlemarch and other nineteenth century novels, and that they were only invited to take part in the King's Coronation as recently as 1902. Roman Catholics, as opposed to pre-Reformation Catholics have yet to be offered a place. Times have changed. They will be next time, but is the UK yet multifaith enough to include other religions, not merely as guests but as full participants? A multifaith, multiracial Britain - it ain't necessarily so, yet. A healthy nation is one which can face up to its pastand then, like Pilgrim, let the weight fall off hisshoulders. First, however, it must be acknowledged that the toleration and decency on which we pride ourselvesis very recent. History cannot be eliminated but perhaps it can be redeemed. The RE teacher can do no more and no less than look for truth and on the way, perhaps win the respect of Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs or not,who may sometimes regard confession as a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, it is up to them to reconsider their religious traditions in the light of a timely more accurate and realistic rewriting of history.

02 April 2007

Ethics Here in the U.S. Have Gone Nuts



Yesterday, while my husband and I were at Target, where I bought our cats a couple really adorable decorative collars, my husband told me that Circuit City was laying off thousands of workers just because they get too much money. They are getting layed off, then they can reapply for their job after 10 weeks at a discounted hourly rate. So I looked the story up and here it is on Yahoo news:

Circuit City to cut more than 3,500 jobs


Now, here is the part of the story that really gets to me:
The news of the layoffs came as a surprise to Rachelle Gouled, who earned
about $7.75 an hour working on the sales floor at a Circuit City in Roseville,
Minn.

$7.75 and hour, and Congress has been talking about raising the minimum wage, and there was concern for small businesses...Circuit City is not a small business. Obviously, it is the large Corporation that does not want the minimum wage to become a living wage, as evidence here.
$7.75 times 40 hours a week is only $310.00 a week. And that is gross. Take out federal, state, local, occupation privilege taxes and the employee takes home less than $300.00 a week. Now, there are 52 weeks in a year. $310.00 times 52 weeks is only $16,120.00 gross yearly pay if they work a full 40 hours every week in the year without a vacation.

And this is too much money for a corporation to pay a hard-working deserving employee?

Yet, CEOs who work only 10 months and are fired for incompetence receive a parting gift of $25 million dollars. Now where is the logic?

Fortune magazine says this:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/07/10/8380799/


Voters are outraged. Big investors are
demanding change. Even some CEOs admit there's a crisis. But rewards that defy all economic logic don't simply spring from greed. Corporate America's executive-compensation system is broken.

A look at CEO earnings (for 1 year)


  • Lee Raymond
    $405 Million
    That's the 2005 comp, lump-sum pension, and current value of various stock grants with which Exxon's chief rides into retirement.

  • Bob Nardelli
    $250 Million
    The total value of the package Home Depot has paid him so far. He's collected about 30%. The rest varies with the stock price.

  • William McGuire
    $1 Billion
    UnitedHealth's CEO holds a ton of options. Alleged accounting flaws have hit the stock. But his potential reward (above) remains rich.

  • Hank McKinnell
    $99 Million
    Pfizer's CEO took heat for a hefty pension built up over many years (present value: $83 million). He earned $16 million in 2005.

  • Franklin Raines
    $90 Million
    Fannie Mae's boss made that from 1998 to 2003. But auditors now say the earnings his comp was based on were overstated by $11 billion.

  • Phil Purcell
    $66 Million

So how is it an executive can make millions when they obvioulsy do not perform their jobs well, yet people who do perform their jobs well who make less than 20 thousand dollars a year get fired for making too much money?

Yet, look at our vice-president. He is associated with Halliburtion, which is making billions of dollars from our tax money to help line the Vice-President's pockets with millions of dollars...so much that last year, our vice-president received a 1.2 million dollar tax refund.

So obviously, while our politicians are lining their personal pockets with the tragedy that has befallen the U.S., can we really expect change before we vote the greedy, self-serving S.O.B.s out of office?

The insanity needs to stop!