Sunday, October 11, 2015

There is more to the speech, so it will take until next week to finish it. Then I'd like to expand on the people Pope Francis brought to the forefront from the American past.

I find Pope Francis is more contemporary than previous Popes. He embraces the world without question and without qualification.

He also embraces God's creation and all the life Earth has known in it's biosphere. I dare say he is a Pope unlike any other. I am grateful for him. 

It is time Americans pay attention to each other within reach of reality.

There was something else that occurred this week. A Nobel Peace Prize that found greatness in leaders that brought a country together and formed a democracy that is inclusive. A democracy of people and not ideologies.

October 9, 2015
By Sewell Chan 

LONDON — A coalition of labor union leaders, businesspeople, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for what the Nobel committee called “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

The prize to the coalition, (click here) known as the National Dialogue Quartet, comes nearly five years after an unemployed street vendor set himself on fire, touching off a political earthquake that toppled Tunisia’s longtime authoritarian president and proceeded to reverberate throughout the Middle East and North Africa....

Dare I say, this is a Pope Francis dream come true.

Pope Francis walked among the men in prison.

...This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem....
Merton (click here) used his photography, not to capture pre-conceived notions of God, but to be open to receive the present-moment revelation of God in the world around him. This often led him away from conventionally beautiful objects to those, such as the hook in the sky, upon which God chooses to hang the divine riddle – It is as if God is saying to the eager photographer, “Search For Me And You Will Find Me, But Not Necessarily Where You Expected To!”

Photography doesn't lie.

April 7, 2015
By George Kilcourse
Thomas Merton (click here) was born on the morning of Jan. 31, 1915, in the quaint and remote French town of Prades. Newspapers across France were reporting excitedly about this tiny place on the border of the Pyrénées Mountains and its surprising happening on the last day of January in 1915. Alas, it was not Merton's birth that made the news but the event of a significant snowfall that occurred on that day, so far to the south and near the Spanish border. Perhaps the coincidence proves an ironic harbinger of Merton's tireless efforts to avoid celebrity.
To the many Kentucky readers of Merton's works this extraordinarily gifted monk was the commonwealth's unofficial Spirituality Laureate. He spent half of his almost 54 years of life at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Central Kentucky. John Howard Griffin, his first biographer, described him as the person who restored intellect to Trappist monks....

Pope Francis spoke of immigration.

...In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development....
November 26, 2012
By Sharon Otterman

Dorothy Day (click here) is a hero of the Catholic left, a fiery 20th-century social activist who protested war, supported labor strikes and lived voluntarily in poverty as she cared for the needy.

But Day has found a seemingly unlikely champion in New York’s conservative archbishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, who has breathed new life into an effort to declare the Brooklyn native a saint.

Cardinal Dolan has embraced her cause with striking zeal: speaking on the anniversaries of her birth and death, distributing Dorothy Day prayer cards to parishes and even buying roughly 100 copies of her biography to give out last year as Christmas gifts to civic officials including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

This month, at Cardinal Dolan’s recommendation, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted unanimously to move forward with her canonization cause, even though, as some of the bishops noted, she had an abortion as a young woman and at one point flirted with joining the Communist Party.

“I am convinced she is a saint for our time,” Cardinal Dolan said at the bishops’ meeting. She exemplifies, he said, “what’s best in Catholic life, that ability we have to be ‘both-and’ not ‘either-or.’ ”...
...Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people....

There are few people that have seen crowds on the National Mall such as these to hear them speak.

During the less than 13 years (click here) of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December, 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. 

Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family....
During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December, 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.
Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.
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This is the door of the common man, Pope Franics, passed through.

...All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject....

There was a great deal of symbolism during Pope Francis visit. He addressed an audience from the same lectern President Lincoln gave his Gettsburg Address.

August 7, 2015
Julia Terruso

When Pope Francis (click here) delivers his address at Independence Hall next month, he will stand behind a nondescript lectern of dark walnut, largely unused since it was placed in a cemetery in Gettysburg on Nov. 19, 1863. There, President Abraham Lincoln gripped its softly curved sides and etched into the history books, "Four score and seven years ago. . . ."

Amid the hustle of big-picture logistics and intense plans for Francis' visit to Philadelphia Sept. 26 and 27 is the chest-high lectern that will link the Gettysburg Address to the pope's widely anticipated speech on religious freedom and immigration....

Each of these people deserve an examination of their lives more than here within the context of Pope Francis' speech.

Abraham Lincoln, (click here) a self-taught Illinois lawyer and legislator with a reputation as an eloquent opponent of slavery...

...In April 15,1865, with the Union on the brink of victory, Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by the Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth; his untimely death made him a martyr to the cause of liberty and Union. Over the years Lincoln’s mythic stature has only grown, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest presidents in the nation’s history.... 

Abraham Lincoln was elected November 6, 1860, the first secession was South Carolina on December 20, 1860 and by February 1, 1861, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. President Lincoln would take office March 4, 1861. The American Civil War started April 12, 1861 and ended April 9, 1865.

President Lincoln was precipitous to the beginning of the Civil War.
...My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity....
...Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people....
Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you....

Pope Francis address to the Joint Meeting of Congress (click here)
It's Sunday Night

"Holding Our for a Hero" by Ella Mae Bowen (click here for original website)

One, two three
Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be larger than life

Larger than life (background chorus)

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There's someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
Isn't there a superman to sweep me off my feet

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be larger than life

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I could swear that there's someone somewhere
Watching me

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the raging flood

His approach is
Like the fire in my blood

I need a hero
And then we'll dance 'til the morning light
Dreaming he'll leave me held tight tonight's the night

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night 
He's gotta be strong
He's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be strong
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life

Larger than life (background chorus)

Oh, larger than life
Larger than life
Oh, babe, babe
Ready tonight

Gowdy has been harassing the Democratic leadership as if he has no right to hold his own opinion.

This was a letter written by Gowdy to Rep. Cummings. It was posted on a Republican  advocacy propaganda website.

The reply by the Republican Benghazi Committee has a long history of harassing the Democratic membership for the very reason they didn't bring more witnesses, etc., to back their position.

That is the problem here. Besides seeking a biased result to the repeated committees, Gowdy was willing to defame and harass the Democratic leadership of the committee. The Democrats accepted the official report of a NON-PARTISAN working group. There is nothing to say the Democrats had to do any more than that. However, with every repeated select committee, Gowdy demanded the Democrats had no legitimate right to maintain their conclusion.

Representative Cummings should speak to the harassment the Democrats have received because they accepted the first NON-PARTISAN report.

Give me a break, Fahreed.

Add caption
Your "power talk table" guest doesn't know China is NOT a member of the TPP? (click here)

China will never join a trade partnership that does not allow currency manipulation. 

Currency manipulation is part of China's national security paradigm.

The propaganda surrounding the TPP always is about ? good paying jobs ? and the increase in them when the TPP is signed into law.

How many manufacturing jobs (click here) have been lost in your state? If you click on your state, you'll find information about total manufacturing job losses and more. We include data from the U.S. government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about the overall loss of manufacturing jobs by state – due to both trade and other causes. Moreover, we include estimates from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a D.C. research group, on the number of additional jobs that could have been supported with balanced trade with China and the NAFTA countries. The three separate measures – from the TAA program, BLS and EPI – help provide a fuller picture of the impact of U.S. trade policy on jobs in your community....

Ready for this? One trade related job is Longshoremen. Union. How long does anyone think Longshoremen will maintain their good paying jobs after TPP is signed into law? All the federal government has to do is 'pull a Reagan' and the pay scale and benefits are gone. 

There is a concerted effort now to end good paying union jobs.

December 12, 2015

Eight days and nearly eight billion lost dollars later, (click here) the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) clerks’ strike at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach finally ended earlier this month. The strike made one thing painfully obvious: minority unions have the potential to be disastrous to American industry.
This particular strike had very modest beginnings. The initial strikers numbered only 600 members—port clerks who feared that their jobs would be outsourced or, more likely, replaced by new technology. After working for two-and-a-half years without a contract, the clerks walked off the job and onto the picket lines. Things got worse when the remaining 10,000 ILWU members launched a solidarity strike, shutting down 10 of the 14 terminals.
Consider what this small number of striking workers was able to accomplish. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach directly support a combined 48,000 port-affiliated jobs. The nature of the port industry, however, means that the number of jobs they indirectly support runs to over 1.2 million jobs in California and 5 million jobs nationwide. Additionally, the value of the cargo passing through both ports runs to an estimated $428 billion each year.
A mere 600 striking workers brought this titanic enterprise to a grinding halt. The sheer amount of damage done by such a small number of people boggles the mind....

Unions are always cited by Wall Street as fiscally exploitative. That is nonsense. The 'cheap labor' mongers cite GM as a reason to outsource jobs. If GM stayed in the USA and worked with it's balance sheet and unions to maintain it's fiscal viability the company would never have problems.

The strongest reason for unionization is SAFETY of laborers. The Longshoremen, be they women or men, are involved with one of the more dangerous jobs on Earth. They work around enormous ships, bobbing in water, and cranes to unload the freight trailers.  

Investigators say Andre Futrell, 50, (click here) and his co-worker Hercules Gilmore, 56, were in the hull of the ship when 10 tons of steel pipes came crashing down on Tuesday.
Detectives say a strap that was holding the bundle of pipes together broke as it was being offloaded by a crane at the Port of Tampa.
Gilmore was killed. Futrell is listed in fair condition at Tampa General Hospital....

The demand regarding safety of workers is always a challenge on the waterfronts. If there were no unions there would be no safety at the American ports.

February 19, 2012

Jean Stanek (click here) retired at the beginning of the year, making her the first woman pensioner from ILWU Local 4. The Vancouver, WA native joined the local in 1988 at the urging of other Local 4 members who knew her from her waitressing job.
“I was born and raised in Vancouver and didn’t even know that the Port of Vancouver existed until a longshoreman took me on a tour of the port,” said Stanek. “I was a single woman raising four kids on the salary of a waitress and ILWU members urged me to get a job as a longshoreman because it was a job that paid well, had good health care and a pension.” She eventually made a career of working on the docks which enabled her to have a much higher standard of living for her family.
Jean worked shifts as a casual in addition to her waitressing job because she didn’t want to lose the “safety net” of her waitressing job. It took her 7 years before finally reaching “B” status....

While women probably have plenty of complaints about dock workers behavior regarding sexual harassment, they have earned their way into being respected longshoremen. Unions are an important part of advancing women workers.

October 11, 2015
By Adam Withnall

The Iraqi air force (click here) claims to have successfully targeted the convoy of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In a statement, the military said it had hit the convoy in an air raid, adding that his fate remains unknown.
Similar claims of attacks targeting the figurehead for the military group have been made before. It was reported that al-Baghdadi was injured in an air strike in April this year, prompting speculation that he would be forced to step down.

Have the military prisons been reviewed for prisoner release and what of foreign prisons holding prisoners in the USA's interest.

More than 20 percent of incarcerated people (click here) haven't been found guilty and more than 45 percent have symptoms of mental illness. Let them out.

October 9, 2015
By Keri Blakinger

The Justice Department’s upcoming release of some 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders is an unprecedented move that has been hailed by proponents of criminal justice reform. A top attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union called it “nothing short of thrilling.” The general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums said it is a sign that the U.S. is “serious about rethinking our approach to crime and punishment.”

Hardly. With 2.2 million inmates nationwide, this release doesn’t make a dent in the country’s prison population. The U.S. incarceration rate is seven times higher than the median for the economically advanced nations of the OECD (click here), so reforming it in a meaningful way requires more than a token gesture. It means changing how we use jails and prisons in sentencing and drastically reducing the prison population by not 1 or 5 percent, but 60 or 80 percent.

This is an achievable goal. There are several incarcerated populations for whom jail and prison is an unnecessary, even damaging, approach. Releasing some of them and using more productive and reasonable measures to rehabilitate others while protecting public safety is necessary to truly reform criminal justice in the U.S....