Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Secret Service has since apologized. However, it is more than slightly disturbing that two people can pass security screening and come face to face with two heads of state inside the White House.
On an unrelated note, I also was disturbed by The New York Times story on the breach, which devolved into a story about the Salahi's quest to star in The Real Housewives of DC. I love the Times and have been a lifelong reader, but seriously? These tangents belong in a separate feature story, not in a story of potential national significance.
Photo credit: White House photo taken from TalkingPointsMemo
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Some say that New Year's Eve is the time to reflect upon the last year and to plan for the coming years. This ReGenerate prefers to review her life in the present and her year that has passed on Thanksgiving.
For me, spending a day with family and friends and preparing food in my home or elsewhere, reminds me of how blessed I am that my basic needs are met. However, I also remember that not everyone in this world has a home, a family, food, or any other of the myriad of good fortunes that I enjoy. So, while I give thanks, I am also compelled to consider the things that I could be doing to share a bit of my own gifts of thanks with others.
Happy Thanksgiving to our readers in the United States-- let this day remind you that to 'give' is a part of being thankful.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I am looking forward to the day when ALL of my friends (those who want to) can not only get engaged, but also have the legal sanction to spend their lives together.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I'm not going to preach but I am going to plead.
Putting aside my own personal situation and even my pride, I would simply like to implore the Archdiocese of Washington to find a way to negotiate with the DC City Council as many other archdioceses around the country have done around the issue of same-sex marriage.
Respecting the long-standing position of the church, it certainly seems that common ground can still be found.
So many people are suffering through this ordeal on both sides of the debate. But many, many more will suffer a much worse fate should no compromise be found.
Wake up. The world is watching.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
For historical note, Liberia is a West African country that was settled by free African Americans in 1820. The "Congo" people, as the Liberian descendants of African Americans were called, made up the upper class in Liberia while the "native" Liberians struggled to make ends meet. Following a military coup (takeover) in 1980, the fate of the Congo people turned for the worse. They were persecuted (killed, raped, disposed) by the new military class. The coup leader, Samuel Doe, began his 10 year reign by executing the president and his top cabinet members. The cabinet's execution - death by firing squad - was publicly televised. Fastforwarding the story of Liberia, Doe was replaced by Charles Taylor, another despot who was eventually charged with war crimes (for his role in Sierra Leone, a neighboring West African nation).
As the child of "Congo" people, Cooper lived a privileged life in Liberia, until 1980 when the country began to take its downward turn. Her uncle was among the cabinet members publicly executed by Doe. What I found most intriguing about her book was the punishment of elites - class warfare to an extreme. Doe and his successor, Taylor presided over tyrannous regimes under the guise of paying the "Congo" people back for their oppression of native Liberians.
As a firm believer in social justice, I struggle with the notion of institutionalized class divisions. While it was in no way, her doing, as a child, Cooper benefited from a system in which her family had all they wanted (and more), while a majority of Liberians did not. However, what is most powerful about her book is that we see the consequences of retribution: taking away the resources of the elite under the pretense of creating equity and paying back the "oppressors." We also see that having one person presiding over justice is problematic. In fact it's how despots are made. If that's not enough, we see the economic vacuum that is created when the upper class (i.e tax base) flees the country for fear of retribution.
Cooper, while fortunate enough to end up in the United States, witnessed (from another room) her mother's rape. Her childhood, and that of many others were destroyed by Doe and his "justice seeking" soldiers. While reading this, I found myself asking how one creates a system of equity, where "Congo-Native" divides don't exist. At the same time, a system that does not punish children like as Cooper and many others.
Friday, November 20, 2009
CNN notified us today that Bob Marley is reported to be the world's wealthiest dead celebrity.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Ok, so I'll be the first to admit that I was appalled to see this video of a Division I female soccer player violently pulling, punching, and kicking her opponents on ESPN Sportscenter. I watched this video over and over again to try and dissect whether or not my shock was based on the gender of the player or the truly horrific lack of sportsmanship. Julie Foudy's reaction on ESPN says enough.
As a former college athlete (Division III still counts, right?), I found this level of violence inexcusable. If I witnessed a teammate treating an opponent this way, I would be ashamed and outraged.
And yet, the coverage provided on this event by the New York Times was even more aggravating. Purporting to display "Those Soccer Plays, in Context" the Times went ahead and published a poorly-written, confusing piece that provides less context than it does conjectures and open-ended conclusions.
Female athletes deserve respect. Ms. Lambert should show more respect to her opponents and her teammates and she should be punished within the context of the sport, not punished by us as uninformed consumers of her life.
It is fair to criticize her on a human-level for her behavior but why on earth do I need to know
that she is now seeing a "clinical psychologist" to work our her issues or that "the incident had been perceived by some as sexy catfighting between two women"?
This was a great opportunity for NYT to step back from the incident and illuminate the reader as to the public reaction. Instead, what resulted was a conglomerate of gender stereotyping (complete with picture of feminized Ms. Lambert and all) that serves neither female athletes nor the public.
Monday, November 16, 2009
As the number of "food insecure" households in the U.S. reaches a 14-year high (and let's be honest, it's probably still climbing) the ReGenerates would like to ReEmphasize the importance of front-line social services for those in need.
No matter the economic climate or how many agencies are providing "innovative" nonprofit services, nothing replaces a hot meal for the hungry.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I agree with Kehinde's earlier post saying that that no one should have the right to sentence a person to death. However, I believe that as a society and as a country, we have been using it as a last resort. That begs the question-- if not with the death penalty, how do you punish a person's heinous crimes without some sort of violation of their rights?
At all times, a suspect is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. There are many constitutional rights which are meant to protect a suspect, including: the right to counsel, the right to not incriminate oneself, and avoiding searches or seizures without probable cause, with exceptions of course. Furthermore, suspects are not required to speak unless the Miranda warnings are read to him or her, and once in custody, courts generally do not condone interrogation, though it does happen.
So again, how do you punish someone who has committed punishable violent crimes? In Kehinde's post, I was bothered by the following statement: "I would argue that as human beings in the United States, we lack creativity...if our punishment for someone who killed is to put that person to death in return." Creativity is what allows for what the government would like to call "permissible interrogation/questioning" into torture. Torture, like the death penalty, violates many basic human rights. If you believe that the death sentence is not the way to go, I would also argue that torturing criminals who have caused a great amount of pain to innocent members in the community is also not permissible.
While I agree with Kehinde's commentary overall, I ultimately wonder if "punishment " is ever possible.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I think of this when I read the "Faces of the Fallen" in the papers every week, and I see pictures of teens who never saw their twenties. I think of this when I realize on Veteran's Day that I have lived almost twice as long as both surviving and deceased veterans of our recent wars. I think of this when I see unemployment rates rise to precarious rates for recent high school graduates, and I realize that joining the military is one of the few choices that many of our country's young people have.
By Pilar Oberwetter
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I find it particularly convenient that open season this year falls during what seem to be the critical days of the health care debate. As members of Congress discuss the possible upheaval of both the health care and health insurance systems (which must not be mistaken as one debate), these same members and their staff must also make their own health plan decisions, except that unlike most of their constituents, they have a plethora of choices. Surely this irony must occur to them?
Here's hoping that their own fortune in having health care options inspires our Congressional representation on both sides of the aisle to push for a similar system to be made available to all.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
At 9 o'clock tonight, the state of Virginia will execute "DC sniper," John Allen Muhammad, convicted of killing Dean Harold Meyers. While his conviction was for one murder, Muhammad was responsible for killing 10 people, along with his young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo.
I want to acknowledge the pain and suffering that Muhammad brought on the victims and their families, as well as on the entire District of Columbia in 2002. Along with Malvo, he terrorized the city; he made residents feel unsafe, and traumatized. He should be punished for this.
However, I think there is a problem with a civilized society sanctioning death as a punishment, no matter how grave the crime. I completely agree that we as a society need to punish Muhammad for his crimes. I would argue that as human beings in the United States, we lack creativity and a clear moral compass if our punishment for someone who killed is to put that person to death in return.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The LA Times reports that the Dalai Lama is currently spending five days visiting the monastery town of Tawang, which is inside the Indian state, Arunachal Pradesh, on the Tibetan border - an area claimed by China.
The reaction from the Chinese, who have become increasingly vocal about their Dalai-Lama-conspiracy-theories, is worth noting:
"[The Dalai Lama] is always involved in activities that undermine the relations between China and other countries as well as ethnic separatist activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a regular news briefing last week in Beijing.And most incredibly, "The Dalai Lama is a liar."
It's unclear whether the Dalai Lama's defiance of Chinese authority marks any significant change in his "activities that undermine the relations between China and other countries," as the spiritual leader continues to challenge people in every nation to seek the truth and to live lives of compassion.
Only a month ago, when the Dalai Lama visited Washington, DC for several speaking engagements and to accept this year's Lantos Human Rights Prize, he did not hesitate to tell a crowd of educated Americans that, even in a country established on principles of freedom, we've still got plenty of learning to do when it comes to compassion:
"Huge gap, rich to poor. This is unhealthy," he said. "You have to think seriously about those less-privileged people. They're also human beings."
With all of the overwhelming problems the US faces today (healthcare, war, economic meltdown - to name a few), let's hope we can foster a little more courage and compassion in creating meaningful solutions.
And let's sincerely hope that next time the Dalai Lama is in Washington, DC, that President Obama acknowledges his presence and actually meets with him face-to-face.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Our hearts and prayers go to the victims and families from both incidents.
Friday, November 6, 2009
At long last-- November 6 has arrived, and Precious, a film based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire, makes its debut in mainstream theaters. Winner of the grand jury and audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, Precious has snowballed into its opening day, with glowing reviews written in almost every major news source.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
While I am not one to make economic predictions, I will say that there have been a number of good news on the economic front lately: slower rate of unemployment, growth in the GDP, slight rise in consumer spending on nondurable goods (typical consumer products), etc. All these combined give me reasons for mild (emphasis on mild) celebrations, and hope that the economy may indeed be on the mend. Of course I would still urge readers and friends to watch the economy before going out on a spending spree. It is conceivable that this is simply a calm before the storm.
For all of our sakes, I hope it is not the case.
Monday, November 2, 2009
The funds will support the new Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT Youth, which will house 12 youths for up to two years as part of the center's transitional housing programs. Funds will be supplemented by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It's always moving to witness the generosity and compassion of people like Ms. Arthur, whose commitment to improving the lives of one of the most overlooked populations of adolescents was true both during her life and after her passing.
Here's hoping that her gift will generate more attention to the plight of LGBT youth who are without family and living on the streets and to the good work that groups like the Ali Forney Center are doing everyday to support them.