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Help yourself by helping others

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catholic charities
Central American mothers and their children take a place on the floor of a portable tent at the Humanitarian Respite Center Sacred Heart Catholic church in McAllen, Texas. Photograph: Delcia Lopez/AP

“Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”–Dalai Lama

Hello again!  I hope everyone is managing their stress in these tumultuous times.  Staying busy helps and helping out wherever you can is especially important.  There are so many needs, it’s hard to focus but we must persist.

With the ghastly news of children being kidnapped from their asylum-seeking parents and held in cages in federal detention, we’ve all become painfully aware now of the humanitarian crisis at our southern border.  There are various non-profits working to alleviate the misery there.  Many are working with the Catholic Charities facility in McAllen, TX, which has been involved for years with providing sanctuary for undocumented migrants threatened with deportation.  Since Trump’s election, many more churches in the US have also become involved in this effort.

We became aware of  the selfless work being done on the front lines in McAllen by a Be the Change volunteer, Betsy Sanders, from New Jersey.  She notified us about the urgent need for children’s medicine, as well as toys and shoes, for migrants caught in the cross-hairs of a war between their violent birthplace and the country their parents escaped to with the hope for safety and justice.  Sadly, that doesn’t seems to be happening now, but charities and their volunteers are valiantly attempting to correct these wrongs by working to give these freedom-seekers sanctuary.  They’ve become our unofficial US ambassadors, showing the world that the majority of us care about the persecuted and displaced from other parts of the world.  If you can help them, it will be benefit everyone.  Here’s some of what’s needed:

Children’s medicines, as well as shoes, clothing (long sleeves for cold bus rides are helpful), and small, stuffed, clean toys.

Pedialyte

Infant Advil

Infant Cough syrup

Children’s Benadryl

Tylenol, Children and Infant’s

Hand Sanitizer

Exam Gloves

 

Direct Shipments can be made to:

Catholic Charities

1719 Beaumont

McAllen, TX  78501 (McAllen, TX is the front-line of the crisis)

Or you can order from Walmart or one of the local stores (H-E-B, etc.) and have them ship to the above address.  We recently collected some money and placed an order with Walmart for delivery to the Catholic Charities and we also shipped a box of toys, medicines, etc. there.

Betsy also informed us that the Catholic Charities facility is very small, serving from forty to several hundred immigrants a day.  They are picked up from the bus station after our government “releases” them from detention.  Most of them have no means to get back home or to a sponsor, so the charities step in and provide sanctuary:  food, clothing, a shower, advice/phone to contact a relative, anything to help them and their children survive in a foreign country until they can get some clarity on their situation.  The facility is very small, but they’re looking to expand within a year.  They currently have one shower for all the females to use, so you can imagine the difficult logistics.  If you’d like to earmark money for the much-needed expansion, please send to the Catholic Charities address.

If you’d like to pool your contribution with others here in Orlando, please contact here for further info.  Thanks for any help you can give.

 

 

 

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Our Planet Pleas: Phase out Plastics

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fishOver 8 million tons of plastic (a petroleum by-product) enter the ocean every year, killing and endangering millions of creatures.  Plastic straws are among the worst offenders.  The US alone uses 500 million straws every single day for approximately 20 minutes each.  However, each straw represents a permanent hazard to our environment as they don’t completely biodegrade, but end up turning our oceans into a toxic, plastic soup.  Here’s an in depth report on how Seattle is going strawless and the positive results occurring and providing a positive example to other cities.  This is a link to the Seattle campaign with more info.

Please rethink your use of plastic straws as well as all other plastic items.  Some ways we can start winning the vicious assault being waged on our mother earth:

 

Plan to win! DINOs out/Progressives in

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who killed the demsThe Nation is asking the question many of us are, “What killed the Democratic party?” Under the obtuse and dictatorial party leadership of DINO’s (Democrat in name only), the Democrats have worked ceaselessly and undercover to marginalize and disenfranchise the bedrock of the party, the populist progressives.  Its tactics have resulted in a disaffected, discouraged and disillusioned base and many, many political losses.

Since Obama’s election, the Democrats have lost the house, the senate, over 1,000 state legislative seats and, of course, now the presidency.  The Republican party now claims 34 governors, with 26 states in full Republican control.  The Democrats have control of only six states.   Without major changes, the Democratic party is swiftly heading towards irrelevance.

“Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” is a must-read analysis of the continuing purge and dissolution of “the party of the people” under the rule of corporate democrats and how we must and can change.

The report states “There’s an undeniable current with Clinton surrogates that their time is better spent attacking Sanders’ supporters rather than trying to welcome them.”  This is sad, but so true.  Many progressives have endured senseless attacks time and time again, even from people in the upper levels of the Dem hierarchy that should be trying to unite the party.  The badgering to just “stop” trying to be heard (because we’re told our inquiries are wedge issues/divisive) and get on board with whatever the top echelon dictates is unproductive nonsense as well as demeaning and disrespectful.  It’s not working, will never work and they should “just stop.”

To win, Democrats need to energize and inspire their legitimate and historical base by welcoming and implementing progressive ideas and plans ASAP.  DINOs have outstayed their welcome and relevance.  They need to go the way of the dinosaur or dodo bird, or at least run as Republicans so we have an honest disclosure of who they’re working for and can vote accordingly.  Without DINO baggage weighing us down, the progressive populist wing of the party can flourish once again, win elections and take back our country (for real now).

DINOs heading for extinction next election?

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DINOWith the on-going carnage being wrought within our democracy by the Trump/Koch cabal, we need intelligent and courageous leadership more than ever.  Sadly, it seems in short supply.  Our Members of Congress (MOC) from Florida are on record (or not) for supporting critical bills that will help get our country back on track.  Prime among them are Universal Healthcare and getting big money out of politics (repealing Citizens’ United).  Also important are bills for 100% renewable energy by 2050 and transparency in Trump’s tax returns.  He’s defiantly refused to release his tax returns and after the unveiling of the tax plan yesterday, it’s more important than ever that we see them.  We must be cognizant of the length and depth of his self-dealing and planned enrichment of himself and his cronies at the expense of the middle class and our democratic institutions.

Here’s a look at what we believe MOCs should be focusing on.  The four important bills before this congress (and what should be major planks in both parties’ platforms) with phone numbers to contact your MOC are listed in the link below.  You may want to thank them for supporting these important bills or ask them why they’re MIA on crucial matters like this.  Even though widely supported by both parties, some of our representatives have been MIA on all these issues.  We hope they’ll see the light and put the needs of the country ahead of any other consideration.

FL MOC important bills – Sheet1

An analysis of the troubles the Democratic party finds itself in is outlined in the report entitled “Autopsy–The Democratic Party in Crisis”.  Perhaps this report has some good ideas that the party should study and implement ASAP, especially after the latest news from Donna Brazile’s book about the secret granting of DNC control to Clinton before the elections.  It’s well past time the party got beyond blaming, name-calling, divisiveness, subterfuge and listening to a small cadre of donors.

 

Democracy dies with denial

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hacking

With all the bad news regarding possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration interfering with the 2016 election, it’s hard to understand how so many Democrats and Republicans alike, members of national voting organizations, etc., continue to deny we have a major problem with our national computerized voting system.

A recent piece in “The Nation” is a must read for non-believers.  It’s short, well-researched and well-written, and will put to rest all the tired arguments of how we have the most secure and fair voting system in the world.  It’s also an alarming wake-up call, along with many others, that we must address this problem ASAP.   Sadly, this administration appears to be actively engaged in undermining and stone-walling all efforts for fair and transparent elections.  The State Department’s refusal to use $80M earmarked to fight Russian propaganda, which was successfully weaponized against our country in the last election cycle, due to fear it will “anger” Moscow, has also angered some legislators in Washington.  Whether they fulfill their duty to protect our country against a dangerous and dysfunctional administration currently under investigation is another matter.

Russian election attack update

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putin obama
Pres. Obama warns Putin against election meddling at G-20 meeting in September 2016.

The July 31st edition of Time included a special report on “Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot” by Massimo Calabresi. The article details the federal government’s attempt to secure the 2016 elections after it became apparent that Russian hackers had broken into more than 20 state and local voter election systems. The 15 page previously undisclosed plan is here.

In June of 2016, voter registration databases were successfully changed by hackers in California which led to the need to use provisional ballots in the primary elections. Three weeks afterward in Illinois, along with a similar attack in Arizona, a Russian agent accessed the state’s voter-registration site and uploaded malicious software (SQL) which “opened a back door to all 15 million files on past and current voters”.  The hackers were successful in stealing 90,0000 files before an alarm was triggered when they attempted to download all 15 million files.  Changes made to voter registrations were caught by the FBI as there was a full backup of the system before the SQL attack. These brazen attacks, among others, signaled that the Russians’ game plan had changed from collecting intelligence, as had been done in previous election cycles, to a “possible intent to meddle with the vote.”

As the administration worked to halt the damage, Trump continuously denied Moscow’s involvement with the hacking and blamed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of hacking itself. With the stolen email dump prior to the DNC convention, he doubled down on the claims.  As if on cue, August 1st, he said, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged.”   Two days later, when the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, said he was considering declaring elections “part of the U.S. critical infrastructure, along with…the banking and electrical systems,” it was met with suspicion of partisanship by many of the states which seriously hampered the administration’s ability to respond to the attacks.

The continuous fueling of anti-government suspicion by Trump seemed to work in his favor as it made the President reticent to issue a stronger statement nationally as it would be portrayed as political meddling in favor of  the Democratic candidate.  President Obama did warn Putin and put into place a plan to counteract a full-out Russian attack on our election.  In the meantime, the attacks continued with infiltration attempts into most states, including the electoral systems of Florida and New Mexico.

The election went off “free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective” according to officials, however, doubts about the security of our election system are spreading.  The FBI’s counterintelligence probe about Russia aiding Trump’s campaign only began in earnest after the elections.  The FBI’s preoccupation with Clinton’s emails prior to the election resulted in their Russian probe not getting “any intelligence legs until after the election,” a puzzling and disturbing blunder with questionable political overtones.

As the administration cozies up to Putin and the focus on methods of protecting our elections from Russian interference disappears, fears about fair elections are becoming widespread.  With Trump’s creation of an “election-integrity commission” demanding the centralization of voters’ personal information from every state, many worry the true goal of the commission is voter suppression of Democratic voters. Republican efforts to defund the $8 million Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which guides states in conducting fair and safe elections, is being met with suspicion as well.

A recent Gallup poll found most Americans (70%) are not confident in the honesty of our electoral system.  What a disaster for our democracy, especially since the current power structure seems to be quite happy with the situation and is tightening the noose on fair elections with additional questionable tactics.  When finally no one has the confidence to show up to vote, they’ve won and we’ll have a permanent government in place, no voters necessary.  A government of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, for the oligarchs.

putin trump handshake
A deal with the devil? Trump to Putin, “It’s an honor to be with you.”