Saturday, November 30, 2013

Arabs, Bedouins Hold 'Day of Rage' in Israel

   This Prawer-Begin Plan, that prompted the "Day of Rage" protesting in several cities today, what is it?
   What is it? Is it "the largest confiscation of Palestine-owned land since the 1950s," as one critic calls it?
    Or, is it a way to help the southern part of Israel develop, despite the fact the Bedouins there are squatting on government land? The protesting Bedouins respond that  they have been living on the site since before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
    Part of the plan calls for Jewish settlements in the area. I am not opposed to that, in spirit. If, though, the Bedouins have to be moved off land they occupied before Israel became a state in order to make room for the Jews, that might possibly be wrong.
   It is also fair to wonder if the Bedouins are claiming to have occupied the property before 1948, while in actuality they came to live on the land parcels after the Jewish state was created, and after the Jewish state claimed the land.
   Also to be considered, is that 93 percent of all land in Israel is owned by the state. Have Jews been treated the same as are these Bedouins in the Negev Desert area? Have any Jews been forced to move from one property to another? If this is normal treatment of all people in Israel, then perhaps it is acceptable treatment of the Bedouins, as well.

I Met a Criminal from South of the Border

   At the grocery store, as we were shopping for our Thanksgiving meal, I said hello to a man appearing to be from south of the border.
  He answered with a greeting of his own, then just paused in front of me, as if to invite further conversation.
   So, I asked if he was from Mexico, asked why he came here (he came for employment), and asked about his family.
   Oh, there are questions I should have asked, that didn't come to my mind right then, but I learned some from him. I didn't ask how often he goes back to Mexico, or why he never goes back to stay, that I might learn why he still chooses America over Mexico.
   But, I learned he had been a gang member. He told me he had done bad things. I pressed, What bad things? What did you do? He declined to be more specific, just saying they were bad.
   He had a kind, gentle look about him, and when he told me he had changed his life, I believed him. I wish  I had asked him if America had provided him that chance to change. I feel he would have said it had.
   As I sit here, thinking now, I think of how this should be the way with anyone who starts slipping into crime, or into friendships with those who negatively affect us. We should get away. Move all the way across the country, if we have to.
   Or, move to another country. I'm grateful that option was open to Alfredo. While he told me he came for a job in the automobile industry, it does seem he escaped a life of crime by coming here.
   In past blogs, I have agreed we should screen criminals out, as we make our rules for who shall be allowed to come to America. I still feel much that way. But, I am grateful for Alfredo's coming, for his being allowed to come. In his situation, coming to America seems like the right thing to have let happen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guns Kill More than Life, on Some Occasions

   A Thanksgiving story, from early Wednesday morning:
    A 72-year-old man, suffering from Alzheimers, wanders off into the night, walking maybe two or three miles from his home on a cold night, where he ends up at a stranger's house, and rings the doorbell. The homeowner comes out while the old man is still in the yard and confronts him. The homeowner tells the old man to to stop advancing toward him.
    The old man doesn't, so the homeowner fires four shots, one hitting the 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook in the chest and killing him.
   Georgia, where the story took place, is a Stand Your Ground state, having a law that says homeowners do not need to back down when they feel threatened, but can use deadly force. No charges are expected to be filed against Joe Hendrix, the homeowner.
   The tragedy underscores two thoughts. First, if you have a weapon, you might end up using it when you shouldn't. You've bought a gun to defend yourself, so it is natural to look for a situation that plays out that intention. "This is why I bought this gun," is the thought pattern in the moment of distress.
   Second, the Stand Your Ground laws further place in your mind that what you are doing is right. The law teaches that if someone advances on you, and you feel threatened, you have the legal right to defend yourself, and to shoot the other person dead.
   Of course, guns can be used for good. They can defend you. But, be wary. If you must own one, be careful you are not too taken by the teachings of our society to be free and quick to pull the trigger. Guns can affect who you are, who you become, by placing you in position to make dreadful decisions that will haunt you the rest of your life.
   At least, that's what happened to Joe Hendrix, when he pulled the trigger on a 72-year-old Alzheimer's patient. He will either suffer remorse for the rest of his life, or he will justify what he did. It has affected who he is in that he has brought death upon another. And, it will continue to negatively affect who he is, if for the rest of his life, he continues to justify what happened.
   Guns kill more than life; they also kill character. No, not always, but when accompanied by false values, they do.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pakistanians Living Under the Terror of American Drone Strikes?

   If what those speaking against drone strikes are saying is true, we should be outraged our country is perpetrating such an offense against humanity.
   We should be out in the streets, protesting, indignant, upset that the good name of America is being dragged to the ground by such a practice. We should be mourning the loss of life of civilians, and crying for those who are living under a terror we are bringing upon them.
  One report says for every one person the drones successfully target, they take another 49 non-targeted to the grave. Yes, I question the accuracy of such a figure. Is that number arrived at simply by counting the military leader who was targeted as the lone target, then counting all the rest of the soldiers killed as the 49 non-targeted deaths?
   Still, I wonder whether drones do take out innocent bystanders, not just soldiers.
   I wonder at the 416-948 civilian deaths from drones from 2004 to 2013, as reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Is that number accurate? And, is that too many civilian deaths for us to allow? Surely, some incidence of civilian loss of life is to be expected in a war. Are these lives, then, expendable? (Are these deaths very unfortunate, but justifiable, and therefore expendable?)
   I wonder at the terror inflicted on the people. What would it be like to live with a drone hovering above your community 24 hours a day, being afradi a missile might flash down at any moment, engulfing your home?
Terrorism? Yes, that seems like terrorism. We have created terrorism in the name of fighting terrorism. And, we have placed our name on it.
   If these accusations have some truth, then America -- the protector of freedom, and the defender truth and right -- is terrorizing and killing the innocents of Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and Yemen.
   If these accusations have some truth, then we are soiling our good name with the blood of the poor and innocent. This thing should not be. If these accusations bear much truth, then the drone strikes that began in 2004 should end before we reach their tenth anniversary.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Granting the Power to Enrich Will Further Their Bomb-Making Capacity

   If the U.S. and Iran cannot agree on what they agreed to, perhaps they should scurry back to the negotiating tables and make things clear. Off top, I think the Iranians might be correct. They say language in the agreement allowing them the "right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," does indeed give them the right to enrich uranium.

   My understanding is, nuclear power is not possible without enriched uranium. If you've given them power to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, you've also given them the power to enrich uranium.   Enriching uranium is a necessary step for a nuclear bomb, of course, but that is a step you've agreed they can take.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let Iran's Economy Totter, but Save the People

   Amid all my thoughts of how easing sanctions against Iran might not be a good thing; amid thoughts of how Iran's economy is crippled by the sanctions and maybe this would be time to hope the regime falls to a broken economy, if it will; amid thoughts of how the deal with Iran might reduce neither its nuclear weapon  tendencies nor its nuclear abilities, comes this thought:
   If the economy is in such bad shape, people are suffering. This, too, should be a concern.
   With the dreadful effects of the nuclear warheads, with the suffering and colossal amount of death it brings, perhaps the suffering of the common folk in Iran is to be preferred. Their suffering is better than letting Iran to forward toward nuclear armament.
   Perhaps, but it just seems we should do something.
   Perhaps we could offer humanitarian aid, outright gifts of food, distributed by us, and carefully so in order that they do not fall into the hands of the despot government. This would not mend the economy, still leaving it to fall, if fortune would allow that.
    Iran might reject the aid, or attempt to reject it, but it would be hard-pressed to do so against the argument that they cannot let their poor suffer in the face of an offer to provide them relief.
   Note added Nov. 27:
   I wonder how we could verify if people are starving, or going shy on food, and how we could ensure it is they that we reach. If we just go in with food and offer it at the city square, a lot of unneedy people will come right along with the needy. I don't know if there would be a way to qualify who needs assistance. I believe the best we could do would be to make our best determination whether people are truly suffering, then give the assistance even though some of it would fall into the hands of those not in dire need. Screen them as they come to the tables where the food is distributed, asking them about their needs, even though there would not be a way to verify if the needs they represented were actual.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Netanyahu Calls Deal 'Historic Mistake'

   "Today, the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world." -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
   Six world powers agreed to ease international sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations being placed on that country's nuclear program -- but the question is, will the limitations amount to little or nothing while allowing the country to regain some relief as it totters economically?
   Israel says it will not be bound by the agreement. If the deal ends up strengthening Iran, and if it does not curb Iran's nuclear warhead capabilities, then does the deal then bring us closer to war, not further from it? For if Iran is closer to being a nuclear power, Iran is closer to a preemptive strike.
   And, what of President Obama? How will this play on his reputation? He is already reeling from developments with the Affordable Care Act. If public opinion agrees this move was a blunder, public approval ratings for him might yet decline the more.
   More importantly, what does the deal say of our relationship with Israel? Israel opposed the deal, yet we were the nation that brought it along, brought it to fruition. We did not rally to Israel's side on this matter, but went straight against it.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Have the Six World Powers Done the Correct Thing on the Iran Issue?

   Then it is: Iran has brokered a deal with six world powers to lift sanctions against the country in exchange for its curbing its nuclear ambitions.
   Whether the deal is worthy may depend on whether lifting the sanctions comes before verifying that Iran has no ability to produce nuclear weapons. I haven't learned enough of what the just-announced deal includes to know.
   Iran has long claimed its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, while the world has known otherwise. The sanctions should not be lifted just because Iran shifts just enough to say, Okay, we've been developing the ability to produce nuclear weapons, yes, but now we'll stop if you'll lift your sanctions against us.

Killing Should Not be Justified Just Because the Killer Says it is

   A killing should not be justified just because the person doing the killing says it is. This would make murderers innocent men. So, please, look at what we have in many of the stand-your-ground laws: If a person says he felt his life was in jeopardy, and there is no evidence to the contrary, he is off the hook. Many a killing has no witness, other than the person doing the killing. Thus, we often place in the hands of the killer the right to say whether the killing was justified.
   Many a killer does not think to use this defense. And, true, there will be times when they try to use it and it will not be enough.
   But, I fear for the times when it does work. I lament we have given the criminal such a tool to get off for such a serious crime.

Swallow's Resignation 'No Cause for Jubilation'

   A sign of a good person is that they joy in the well-being of others. They do not glory in another's difficulties.
   So, I note with interest Gov. Gary Herbert's reaction to Attorney General John Swallow's resignation. "(T)here is no cause for jubilation," he said.
   There are things Swallow did that are not right, if I am looking at things correctly. They so serious, I do not think he should remain in office. To take a stay at a resort home from someone the attorney general's office is investigating? No, I do not think that right, whether it be against the law or not.
   But, may we lament the loss Swallow is suffering. He had high station, high regard in the Utah community. The humiliation he has suffered has been great. Bless him. Truly, bless him.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bring About the Sixth Amendment with an Evidenciary Hearing

   "The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
   To me, we fall way short of delivering on this right that is declared in the Sixth Amendment. I suppose at times I think we are so short that it is right that we have failed to even implement, for, to me, we do not even have a judicial system in place that brings it to pass.
   Implement the Sixth Amendment, then.
   At least, in the sense of whether we have a system in place that provides for "a speedy and public trial," let's change things to bring more certainty that a speedy and public trial will happen.
   Because it seems fair that you should ask me exactly what I would do, I'll offer one suggestion. This is one idea, but might not be the right one. I like it, though.
   Within days after the supposed crime is noticed, have a public evidenciary hearing. Bring all the accusers and all the evidence leading to their charges, and all the witnesses defending the person -- bring them all to the evidenciary hearing and lay out all the facts that have led to the charge.
   Here's what we have, says the prosecution. Here's why we should proceed.
   Here's the defendant's position. Here's the reasons to believe he didn't commit the crime, says the defense.
   A quick and public start would set the tone for a quick and public trial, hopefully.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lion Cubs Die; Blame Laid on Israel

   Of all the news about Israel and the world around Israel today, it is the story of two dead lion cubs in the Gaza Strip that catches my eye.
   Born within the past week, I believe, Fajir and Sijil were their names, and they lived in a zoo and amusement park in a town called Beit Lahia. The zoo keeper said he could not get the medicine and food needed to care for them due an embargo Israel has, limiting what items are allowed to come into the Gaza Strip.
   The thing is, Israel eased the embargo three years ago. I cannot remember what the embargo restricted before then, but I believe all food and medicine is now allowed into Israel.
   So, it does seem to be a case, perhaps, of those in Gaza wanting to lay blame on Israel, when Israel was not to blame.

Israel Leaders 'Cannot be even Called Human Beings'

   U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Power and Secretary of State John Kerry both condemned Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his words. The supreme leader said Israel leaders "cannot be even called human beings" and called Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a "rabid dog."
   I thought of what the supreme leader said, and considered that he perhaps sincerely believes that. I wondered that perhaps his hatred of Israel has blinded him till he views the country through a prism allowing in only the defamatory things he hears.
   Oh, and this made me think of America, where some see Obama only through such dim-prismed lenses.


'They Will Not Have Nuclear Weapons'

   Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the Iranian supreme leader by saying the comments reflect the real Iran, and saying that regardless what comes of the international community's negotiations with Iran, Israel will not be bound from defending itself against nuclear weapons.
   "They must not have nuclear weapons. And, I promise you they will not have nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.
   Thus will remain a possibility Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Also of note, it would seem Netanyahu, then, does not believe Iran already has such weapons.

Harry Reid Wants Sanctions Against Iran

   U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated he will continue to push forward a bill calling for extending sanctions against petroleum from Iran, and limiting trade from sections of the Iranian economy that support its nuclear ambitions, and going after those who divert items to Iran.
   Of the top, and knowing no more than that, I am pleased with Sen. Reid's support of the bill.

Israel Soldiers Fire at Pair as They Approach Sinai Peninsula Border

   Israel soldiers fired at two people approaching the Sinai Peninsula border, injuring one. It was reported that an initial investigation suggested the two were attempting to smuggle drugs into Israel.
   I'm guessing this was not enough to bring much response from Egypt, but we shall see.

Terrorist Who Wanted to Attack Israeli Embassy Thwarted?

   Hassan Faraji, accused of planning an attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan, denied the charges. He has been sentenced to one month pretrial detention.
   Israeli embassies, like American embassies, remain targets to terrorists.

Israel Called 'World's Most "Christian" Nation'

   Israel is hailed as the world's most "Christian" nation in the December issue of Israel Today Magazine. Noting that Jesus taught to "love your neighbor as yourself," the magazine points to Israel as an embodiment of such a teaching. The magazine notes Israel's Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, outside of international attention, is taking in and treating Syrian war casualties, without hesitation and without discrimination.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The George Zimmerman Story Could have been Completely Different

   Justice denied is no friend to mercy. Or, often that is so.
   Possible case in point: George Zimmerman, circa 2005. Zimmerman was arrested on a felony assault on a police officer charge that year. The charge was dropped. Perhaps if we assume courts always get it right, and justice makes no errors, then we leave Zimmerman alone on this matter.
   But, perhaps with all that has happened with Zimmerman, it would be good if someone went back and looked at the assault charge, told us the full of what happened, and what evidence there was that it happened.
   So we could determine whether justice meted would have deterred future crimes.
   There are those of us who feel Zimmerman's getting off on the Trayvon Martin case was a miscarriage of justice. If the 2005 assault charge was also a miscarriage, then one miscarriage of justice led to another.
   For, felons are not allowed guns.
   If Zimmerman had been convicted in 2005, perhaps he would not have had a gun. Perhaps he wouldn't have been a neighborhood watch person, following Martin down the road. Perhaps Martin would be alive today. We do not know for sure what path history would have followed, but there is much reason to believe it would have taken a different course.
   Justice extends a hand of mercy, at times. Exact mercy upon the perpetrator, and the perpetration of future crimes might be lessened. It is justice for the criminal, but mercy for would-be victims.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Call Medicine Medicine, Even When it Means Calling Marijuana Medicine

  Brian Scott carried the Hurricane Tigers to their first state football title, and won three state wrestling titles. Today, he is turning to a marijuana extract in hopes of saving his life.
  His story was told in the Salt Lake Tribune more than a week ago, and it underscores the need to utilize medicines where medicines might be useful. Don't turn them away because they come with the title "marijuana."
   One of the arguments against medical marijuana is that if we go that route, youth will be more inclined to say, "Hey, this is a treatment for cancer, for Parkinson's disease, and for seizures. It is good for me." And, with that, there is an uptick recreational marijuana use.
   I do not buy that as a legitimate reason for not allowing a medicine to be used as a medicine. If someone is dying, and a marijuana extract will save them, do we say, "No, you can't use that. The kid next door might learn that you used it, and learn that it has beneficial properties, and he'll go out and get some for himself."
   I say, allow medicine to be used as medicine, even if it means allowing marijuana to be used as medicine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Tis the 150th Anniversary of these Most-Cherished Words

   These words are to be cherished, uttered by our 16th president 150 years ago tomorrow, Nov. 19th. Some would say his 2-minute address is the greatest American speech of all. If so, consider that it is much just the statements at the first, and at the end, on which the speech hangs much of its greatness.
   The whole speech is great, but more than the rest of it, just those two statements are so indelibly embedded into our minds, stirring love and favor in our hearts for this little address.
   Just 30 words to start, and 17 to close.
   "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . .
   ". . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
   In a different day -- our day -- perhaps Abraham Lincoln's final words would have been counted as plagiarism. I think they are not, but I note that historians see a foreshadowing of his words in the words of others. Some suggest the earlier versions of what he said may have served as source material for Lincoln. Perhaps the thought of government of and for the people spun down from one speaker to another, finally evolving into the words offered by Lincoln.
  There was abolitionist Theodore Parker of Massachusetts, who said, "Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people."
   And Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster had said the federal government was "made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people."
   And, before Parker and Webster, U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall said, "The government of the Union, then . . . is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form and in substance, it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit."
   Of all versions of what was said, Lincoln said it best.
   Those three quotes similiar to Lincoln's are provided in an article in Wikipedia.
   (Post altered a little on Nov. 19.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

One Year Since Israel-Gaza Missile Crisis

   Throughout 2012, about 1,600 missiles rained down on Israel, causing maybe as much as one in five Israelis to live within range and in fear of the missiles.
   We are now at the one-year anniversary of the missile crisis, when for the first time in maybe 40 years, terrorists targeted Jerusalem with the missiles. Israel, after showing restraint for so many months, responded with attacks of its own. On Nov. 14, an air strike took out a top Hamas military commander, and on Nov. 18, another Israeli air strike shook Gaza.
   I thought tonight to try to research a related topic, alleged human rights violations by Israel, but did not get around to it in time and the night is now here. I wish there were a website taking the accusations one by one, and replying to them, but if such a website exists, a quick search is not turning it up. I do know, many of the charges are trumped up. Israel is baited, often. But, that does not mean all the charges are false. I wish could determine, which, if any, are correct.

Neat to See Mike Lee Rallying Us to Help the Poor

   It is neat to see a politician call on not the government, but the people to help the poor, as Sen. Mike Lee is doing. He is asking us, as a society, to find a way to take care of those in poverty. "They are not some government's brothers and sisters -- they are ours," he said.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Maybe Non-Organic is Okay, but I'll Continue Organic for the Moment

   The political issue of my night has been, Shall I eat organic or non-organic? And, I suppose my little study has led me to say, Continue organic, for the moment.
   One site said there is not one shred of evidence that pesticide residue on crops makes the food harmful. Not a bit. The author of that page (Ray Scraggs) pointed to the father of pharmacology/toxicology, Paracelsus, who discovered it is the dose that determines the poison, not necessarily the poison itself.
   So, what little pesticide is left on my apple is not going to hurt me.
   So, a little Malathion might not go a long ways, and maybe not even a little DDT? I don't know.
   You pretty much have to identify the harmful effect, before you go looking to see if it is occurring. It is kind of like drug testing. I'm told that when you test for drugs, you have to know which to look for, or you won't find them. So, it is with residue on crops. If you are aren't considering the harmful effect that might be occurring, you won't find it.
   My guess is, admittedly, that we are being careful with how much pesticide use we allow as residue on our crops, and the food is safe. I just don't feel totally confident as of this brief study.
   And, there is another thought to consider: Even if the amount of pesticides on the food are not harmful, is organic food more nutritious? I read that it is. So, why should I not continue organic for that reason, alone?
   Other thoughts of the night include, what of the pesticide residue left in the soil? A farmer might decide to go organic, and start raising crops organically, but, he if he is using the same soil that has absorbed pesticides in past years, won't they still affect the crops?
   And, then there is the thought I had from way back in my youth: What of the farmers who use manure for fertilizer? If agrochemicals are harmful, what of manure? I picture a neighboring farmer where I grew up, and in my mind's eye, I see his manure spreader throwing cow manure on the field. No, if that is organic food, I'm not so confident about eating it. Can I get a food label to say, "Organically grown, no GMOs, and raised without manure fertilizer"?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Retirement: The More People Who Work, the Better the Economy

   Today, I would ask people to not be so quick to retire, to hold off, if  healthy and able to work. The greater the percentage of people in the workforce, the better the economy will be. So, it makes sense: The more of us who do not retire unnecessarily, the better.
   If we had a coach, pointing out all the things that strengthen an economy, surely he or she would be encouraging us to work past age 62, indeed, to work as long as health permitted. If you want a strong economy, you do all the things that help, and this is one of them.
   I'm not sure how my health will hold out. I'm but three years from being 62 and being able to receive Social Security. I would hope I will be able to remain in the workforce beyond that, but don't know. Let's not fault each other individually if we do retire, but, as a collective whole, let's encourage each other to press on.
   In the name of the economy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Of all Our Freedoms, Don't Forget this One

   In listing all the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, I think you would miss one of the most basic ones, one of the most important ones, and I fear some might even deplore it when they heard what it was.
   For this freedom kind of boils down to criminal rights, or more correctly, the rights of those accused of being criminals. And, to me, it seems that when someone is railroaded, it is often the poor who getting railroaded.
    I think of two examples tonight. One is Ernesto, a refugee from Cuba. He got off work one day, and rounded up a ride home, only to find the guy who was going to drive him home was intoxicated. Ernesto didn't like that idea much, so he offered to do the driving.. Part way home, the police stopped them, looked in the glove compartment, and found some alcohol. Now, since Ernesto was driving, he got the rap.
   Ernesto doesn't even drink. He's a teetotaler.
   As he told me his story, and seeing him as a humble, poor person, I almost cried. How wrong is a justice system that would hold him responsible for the alcohol in the glove compartment.
   The second story is of George Stinney. You ever heard of him? A black boy, he was convicted of murder about 65 years ago on basis of his own shaky confession. Now, his family wants a new trial. No, I don't know that he wasn't guilty. But I wonder. I wonder if he wasn't railroaded into the confession. His two sisters say he was with them the whole of the day when the murder was committed.
   If we, as country and as a people, cannot protect such people, we are not so free. All men and women deserve freedom from injustice.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why Not Charity Insurance?

   There are a lot of charities in this world, and I think we need one more: charity insurance.
   Yes, existing charities do help the poor with medical bills, though perhaps not enough. But, is their help all after-the-fact? I am not aware of -- have never heard of -- charities offering discount insurance to the poor.
    And, hospitals currently work with low-income patients, after-the-fact, to reduce their bills. But, there is no insurance in place, upfront, that I know of. The hospitals should be part of this, if we do create charity insurance. They should offer discount services to those on this new insurance.
   Under what I am suggesting, the poor would be allowed to make pay premiums of, oh, say, $30 a month, and be provided with full medical benefits. The government would not make up the difference. In fact, the government making up the difference is what I'm seeking to avoid.
   Charity would make up part of the difference, and the hospitals, themselves would make up the rest. The poor would pay a share, but it would be an affordable share.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Government Dole? The New Americans Had an Answer

   I should tell you about the New Americans, for you might read it, and wish to be one of them. The Americans were a good people to begin with, but now, they took it up a notch.
   They lived in a day of a ballooning national debt, and a good share of that was due to the great number of social programs. Now, I ask you, what good American would ever want to take anything away from the needy, the homeless, the less fortunate?
   Certainly not a good American.
   But, let me tell you what the New Americans did. They rose up in a rebellion, of sorts. Oh, don't take it like that. No, I do not at all mean they got out their arms and went to war with their own country. Now, there were a number of folks around that would have done just that.
   But, not the New Americans.
   No, they went about their rebelling just a little bit differently. They looked all these social programs and wondered if maybe the best way to get rid of them was to offer their own programs, alternatives, if you will. So, these New Americans set about doing what somehow they hadn't quite thought of doing right up till then.
   Disabled? The New Americans were there for them, offering them jobs and money and food.
   Out of work? No fear. The New Americans would find them a new job, even if it meant creating it in order to get them one.
   Facing a massive medical bill with no insurance? Step over here. This was one of the most expensive and difficult endeavours the New Americans faced.  At first, they scrambled to come up with enough money to pay all these bills outright. Then, they finally started persuading health-care providers to offer an affordable insurance, discounted down to where the poor could pay for it. The thought was, these folks have been coming into our emergency care centers, and we've had to treat them, anyway, and often without any reimbursement. Why not have them paying at least a little in the way of premiums?
   Now, reader, I know your are saying, "This won't work! This won't work.!This won't work! Why would anyone take one of these jobs the New Americans were offering when the government was sitting there perfectly willing to hand out money for nothing?"
  As for health care, that might be interesting to see how it would work out, what with Obamacare requiring everyone to buy insurance. Would the New Americans' charity insurance undercut the forced insurance? Probably not, but it might be interesting to see.
   Now, reader, you go to sleep tonight knowing that maybe you are right. Maybe this wouldn't work. But, I'm thinking there are a great number of people who do want to work for what they get. I'm thinking there are a great number who would rather have private charity helping them than government. I'm thinking a fair share could be siphoned off from government programs. And, those who remained on government assistance? Well, perhaps their conscience would be pricked. They certainly do not have has much cause to feel guilty of a free ride if there is no alternative. But, when there is an alternative, some of them, surely, will have their consciences pricked.
   No, I'm not saying guilt for getting help when they need help. There need be no guilt for that. But, there might should be guilt for getting help for nothing when they can get help in exchange for working.
   So, step up, my fellow Americans, my New Americans, and make this happen. You talk of people sitting on their duffs? Well, quit sitting on your own duffs. Get up and do something to bring an end to all the government dole you complain about.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Missionary Doing Missionary Work, Use Love as the Lead

   In the church I am part of, missionary work is desired. This Sunday (that would be today), as the topic was discussed, I had some thoughts, like this one:
   If you don't do missionary work, but just do love, the missionary work will get done.
   It depends on how you do love, of course, how you go about doing love. And, it might be an incorrect assumption, anyway. But I'm thinking love will work. Love, alone, can bring people into the church. We are taught to seek out those who will receive the gospel. My thought is: If you seek out someone to love, you are finding someone to teach. If you visit them, inquire about their needs, talk to them, and display an honest interest in them -- if you simply befriend them -- the chances increase they will be receptive to your giving them guidance. If they are inactive, and you have presented yourself as a member of the church, it is possible they will return to activity without even being asked. If they are not yet members, it might take an invitation, most likely. Still, they will be much more likely to accept that invitation if they know you care about them. What is the old maxium? I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care.
   As I thought about love and how it can do the missionary work for you, I pictured a person with his fists out, boxing pose, and saying, "Which hand will you lead with, your right or your left? What will be your knockout punch?"
   At that point, the person lets down his fists, indicating neither a strong right nor a left is needed, and no knock-out punch. As he drops his fists, he says, "Lead with love. You are not there to conquer another soul, you are there to win him."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Is There a Right to Choose Your Own Personal Environment?

   Those who respect other people's opinions, those who extend to them the right to live lifestyles different than their own should also have the right not have those lifestyles integrated into their own.
   I'm speaking about those of same-sex attraction. I'm talking about the bill just passed by the Senate and other bills that might come forth now that the nation's favor is upon these people.
   Is this a freedom: the right to establish your personal environment? It isn't in the Bill of Rights, obviously, and I have never heard it mentioned as a basic human right, but should it be? I speak not of when you are in public, but when you are in your own home, or in an entity you own. Should you, then, not have the right to choose what will be in that environment? I believe it is, indeed, your right. This is, in fact, a rule we are already living by. In my home, I can ask those who come to follow certain rules of conduct and if they choose not to, I can ask them to leave.
   As a homeowner, I have the right to say who comes in, and setting the rules of conduct goes with that.
   If I own a business, I, likewise, have the right to hire and fire if the employees do not follow the code of conduct given them.
   So, then, what of that bill before Congress, the one that would require companies to hire regardless of sexual orientation, the bill known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)? The Senate has passed it, but the House has not.
   I suggest it imposes on our freedoms. I suggest that laws should not be framed infringing on the right to live as we choose in our homes and the right to choose the environment as we will in the companies of our own.
   This is a different matter than discrimination based on race or nationality. I see no reason not to want to live or work with someone based simply on the color of their skin. But, what each of us deems as appropriate behavior differs. Some see no harm in using certain words. But, if an employer doesn't want to be subject to language he or she finds as offensive, the employee can be warned, and then fired if it continues.
   If we each have the right to choose our own conduct, we should have the right to preserve that code of conduct in what we might refer to as our personal space. In our homes and our businesses, we should be allowed to set rules of conduct.
   Now, here's the trick: When you set rules of conduct, they are for how you are to conduct yourself at work, not away from the workplace. So, it is valid to argue that what employees do in their personal lives is nobody's business, and certainly not the business of their employers. This argument suggests that they can conduct themselves the same as every other employee while at work. I consider this, and consider that if the law is crafted to say as long as they do not bring the conduct into the workplace, then perhaps the law will be just. This does not mean they have to stay in the closet, so to speak. They can announce who they are without practicing or advocating it in the workplace. Such a law would both allow the employer to set the conduct, and the gay person to be gay.
   If ever legislation is to be framed on living arrangements, I see a different distinction. If the home to be rented is to be the domicile solely of the gay person and those he or she brings with them, I can see the law as being just. But, if the domicile is to be shared by others who will come in separately, then the right of rejecting based on sexual orientation exists, for just as a male might not want to live with females, or vice versa, so he or she might not want to live with someone of different sexual orientation.
   Well, these are thoughts I have at this time. I don't know if they will change with more thinking. But they are my thoughts at the moment.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thinking While Writing, I'm Against ENDA

   Before I'd even heard of Harry Reid's comments, the church responded to them.
   The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement repeating its position on same-sex marriage. The position hasn't changed. The church remains (One) in support of traditional marriage and (Two) in favor of treating those with same-sex attraction with  kindness and understanding.
   So, what of the bill just passed by the Senate, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act? The church said it has not taken a position on it.
   Me? I have some feelings in favor of the bill, but have not given it enough attention to come to an opinion. I do wonder if we should consider, though, that, yes, there might be some jobs in which employers should not be required by law to hire those of same-sex orientation. From what I know of the bill, wouldn't churches, Boy Scouts, and youth programs all alike be required to hire those of same sex? This thought prompts me to consider that I am against the bill. There are organizations that value traditional marriage over non-traditional marriage. While they are respectful of those of same-sex attraction, it is not a way of life they ascribe to, and they should have the right to have their values in their workplace.
   You can respect another person's opinion, You can understand they do not believe as you do. They value same-sex marriage and same-sex lifestyles. Let them. But this does not mean if your organization's very existence is based on the values that include traditional marriage that you should be forced to have non-traditional marriage in your own worksite.
   Let each side have the environment of their choice. That is only fair.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GMOs Should be Subject to Independent Studies

   Here's the thought that struck me last night: Are the companies marketing GMOs free from having anyone study the safety of their products, simply because their plants are patented? Alas, when the thought came to me, it was late and I went to bed without looking into it.
   I woke to find the link below. Alas, it is late and I will go to bed without reading the full of it.
   It does seem to me Congress should step in, passing legislation allowing independent research of the GMOs. The legislation should require the companies to take any product off the market that is not made available to independent research. The legislation can specify that no product can be copied for sale. As for someone learning the secrets of how to make the seeds, that is what patents are for. Even though someone might discover how to do it, they cannot, because you have the patent on it.

Three Thoughts on the Latest John Swallow Development

Thought one:
  Initially, it troubled me that Utah House investigators are asking for John Swallow's home emails and for his personal cellphone records. If this is a criminal investigation, with criminal charges at stake, it does seem appropriate, though, and surely they are looking for criminal violations.
   The right to privacy should protect Swallow from home searches if the investigators were seeking only for breaches of good conduct and of common moral behavior.

Thought two:
   Investigators say it is troubling that records are missing from every electronic device Swallow has had since he became attorney general. They also point to evidence suggesting Swallow knew he was the subject of an investigation. Yes, this is troubling to me, also.

Thought three:
   Investigators note they are respectful of the desire not to run up too much of a bill. Back when the investigation was just being started, I questioned the need for an expensive investigation. Seeing the investigators in motion, though, makes me respect the fact it may take money, and makes me think it may be money well spent. I wonder why federal investigators did not search out and try to recover Swallow's electronic records, as it does seem they might not have. Perhaps, this investigation is going to be more thorough, and I respect that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Caution is the Better Part of Wisdom, so GMOs Should Wait

   Alas, I go to bed understand Washington's Initiative 522 has failed. It would have required that GMOs be labeled as such, and would have made Washington the first state in the Union to require such labeling. I understand proponents of the bill raised $8.4 million, while Monsanto and other opponents donated more than $22 million.
   Money persuades more than reason. And, though the anti Initiative 522 folks did have a good argument, I'm thinking it was their money advantage that won the day. Initial polls had shown people favored 522. Then money got to them. The voice that yells the loudest often wins, and, the voice that yells the loudest is almost always the one with the money.
   GMOs might be no harm at all, but then, again, they might. Some genetically modified seeds are genetically modified only to increase nutrition. I would think those are safe. But, some are engineered to release chemicals that kill insects. My thought is, if the chemical in the plant will kill an insect, isn't there a chance it might also have an ill effect on a human? I know there has been no scientific proof that GMOs are harmful, but there also hasn't been any scientific proof that they are safe.
   GMOs were first released in the mid 1990s. That means we've had them for almost two decades now. Seventy percent of our food is now genetically modified. Maybe we should ask what studies we could conduct, and do them before getting in any deeper. If we have done all the short-term studying we can think of, then perhaps pro cede, but I'm guessing we have not. Nor am I talking studies solely done by the companies, themselves. There should be independent studies.
   Discretion is the better part of valour. And, so it could be said, caution is the better part of wisdom, sometimes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Washington Votes Today on GMO Labeling

   Those Washington State folks are at it again, setting the stage for the rest of the nation. Tomorrow's vote on whether to require genetically modified food to be so labeled could make them the first state in the union to require it.
   Recently, I blogged against GMOs. My stance has since softened, but I remain tentatively against them. One of the neat things I've learned, is that GM wheat, though tested in hundreds of fields, has not yet been commercially marketed. (Albeit, there is fear some of the test crops have leaked into the general crops.)
   It is said, there is no scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful. But, it is also noted the FDA does not test for safety, but, rather, allows the companies to do their own safety testing. I have not studied GMOs enough, yet, but would think that even if the FDA allows the companies to do their own testing, independent testing is, just the same, occurring.
   The polls show those in favor of GM labeling well out front, but the GM supporters have far outspent them, so, will the GMOs erase the margin at the end and pull of the victory. Money persuades more than reason, often, and some would say the GMOs also have the better share of reaosn.
   If Washington does require labeling, it will impact the food supply of the entire nation, potentially. It could lead to other states requiring labeling. Some have suggested, the label amounts to placing a skull and crossbones on the product, causing fear of the product, and cutting into its sales.
    I, along with so many, wonder if we know enough about GMOs. There are no long term studies. If there is not yet scientific determinations, it does seem there is anecdotal evidence, at least from the early roll out in the 1990s. I do wonder but what a slow down of GMOs might be beneficial, allowing us to study them more.
    I also note this: Not all GMOs are equal. Some seeds are engineered to excrete chemicals that are poisonous to bugs, and it does seem to me that should be more of a concern than a seed that is modfied simply to be more nutritious. I would think a see modified just to be more nutritious has greater odds to be safe. I would probably even say, bring them on.
    Me, I tentatively favor not only labeling, but labeling as to what the modification seeks to do. If it seeks to ward off pesticides, that should be on the label.
   (This column undated Tuesday, Nov. 5.)

I Will Not be Voting

   I will not be voting in tomorrow's municipal elections, for I know next to nothing about the candidates. What would my vote accomplish? It would be like a roll of the dice in hopes my vote would end up with the person I would have voted for had I studied the candidates.
   I am derelict of not having studied them, it is true, but, just the same, I would not serve the process well by voting. My vote would but cancel out that of someone who did study the candidates.
   'Tis my decision a reflection that the republican form of government is better than the democratic? In the democratic form, we have everyone vote. In the republican, it often calls for the informed to vote on behalf of the uninformed.
   I would say, if the people will inform themselves of the candidates, the democratic form is better. But, if they will not, the republican form is to be preferred.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Israelis Must Treat Palestinians Well

  Jimmy Carter has called Israel's treatment of Palestinians one of the worse human rights crimes of our day. The son of an Israeli general, Miko Peled, speaks with disgust of how the Palestinians are treated.
  Is what they say true? I believe we should at least listen, search out if the Israelis are doing these people wrong. Oh, I will remain a backer of Israel, a lover of Israel, but I cannot condone that nation if it is killing and depriving the Palestinians of water and such. I am not against Israel's placing settlements in the Palestinian parts of Israel, but I am against this. I wish we could rise up in indignation, outrage, horror, and demand that the Israelis treat the Palestinians well.
   Well, I am a casual student from afar. I do not know much (do not know enough) of what is allegedly happening, but I do believe wrong is wrong. If these things are happening -- if there are murders being committed -- we cannot condone them, but must oppose them.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Storynopolis turned Halloween into Hollyween

   Storynopolis, population 21,006, is now the reigning champion of cities which have given Halloween a makeover.
   The city, just of the I-714 and north of Bottlesville, did it not just by changing up the holiday, but by producing some of the best acting this side of Hollywood. See, this last October, when Halloween rolled around, Storynopolis rolled out a Halloween like no one has ever seen.
   They tossed away the scary and macabre, but kept the costumes and playfulness. They turned the day into a day of acting -- everybody doing the acting. At school and in the neighborhoods, everone was in a 10-minute skit of some kind. Oh, what made it such a big deal was not that they held all these little skits, but how well they did them. They were polished, professional and admittedly expensive. No live shows were ever better.
   When folks went trick or treating, they performed their skits right on the doorsteps. Indeed, they weren't to get any candy unless the homeowner dubbed the skit worthy of reward.
   Oh, and they renamed the holiday, crossing the words "Halloween" and "Hollywood" to come up with "Hollyween."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Blood Flows in Town that Frowns on Bloody Halloweens

   I met the mayor of that town the same year they revamped their Halloween celebration. See, the people of Bottlesville were all up late one night, thinking about the approaching Halloween, talking about it, and they got tending to the mind that it really wasn't such a good idea.
   Halloween, I mean.
   "You know, all the girls use it as an excuse to dress trampy," said old Bob Saunders.
   "Yeh, and everybody dresses up like something evil," Buddy Thompson added.
   "The thing I don't like, is we take kids  -- impressionable young kids -- and glamorize the dark side of life before them," said Dutch Matthews.
   "Oh, and look how we feed them," Bernie Myers shot in. "We give them all kinds of candy, and its not just that we feed them candy, we glamorize it. That's what the night is all about, trick 'er treating. No wonder this nation is so fat and obese, we glamorize sugar with a holiday devoted to it."
   Well, I guess it wasn't the first time folks in this wonderful nation of ours have questioned the propriety of Fright Night. Most folks just roll with it, though, not wanting to dash a good time, and not seeing much of a harm, anyway.
   Not the people of Bottlesville, though. As I was saying, they were all sitting around talking, and they came up with this idea of revamping their Halloween. And, I don't mean revamping as in revampiring it, for they were dead-set on taking them vampires out.
   Now, I'm not here to tell you Halloween is such a horrible thing. It does seem to make for a lot of fun. Still, I like what these folks in Bottlesville pulled off. They pulled off one of the neatest little Halloween celebrations you're ever going to get your fangs on.
   I met their mayor that year, and he told me about it. Seems they decided they'd bring a circus to town that day, 'cept they respun the circus, even as they were respinning Halloween. Oh, there were the trick ponies, and the aerial artists, and all. But, they made sure their wasn't anything macabre, and they made sure all the participants were clothed a bit better than most circuses have 'em dressed. Didn't allow any soothsayers. Clowns? Yeh, they had clowns, and they brought in that guy that is dropped out of a plane while all handcuffed and in a casket and he makes his escape while freefalling in the sky.
   Oh, and Bottlesville renamed the whole day. Since they held their little party down in a hollow, they  decided they'd call it, Holloween, instead of Halloween. They only came out of the hollow when they were watching the Blue Angels and that guy freefalling in a casket.
   Now, I'd be amiss if I told you it was all about a circus that Halloween. That was a big part of it, but not the biggest part. See Bottlesville folks are giving folks, real good folks, always aiming to do something nice and sweet. So, they really felt like they needed to make it a day they did some giving.
   So, they hosted a blood drive. Yep, that's what they did, what with blood being a staple of a good halloween, they decided to go that direction. Why, they had such a blood drive as you've never seen. They didn't have enough blood bank workers in the whole of the town, so they had to bring them in from all the neighboring towns. I suppose every single one of the good folks in Bottlesville gave blood that day.
   You probably read about that, though, what with it setting some kind of world record for the most blood donated in a single blood drive. "Blood Flows in Town that Frowns on Bloody Halloweens," read one headline.
   Bottles of it.