Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel Hits Gaza and Shministim?

I have got to say, writing on issues is more difficult than I thought it would be. All of a sudden, I am wondering how accurate my facts are, whether I have all the info, should I really write certain info - I get into an internal moral debate as I contemplate topics/issues to write...this is not fun.

I do not envy journalists. And unlike a journalist, I am not paid to write about specific goings-on and I have no deadline (which can be a good or bad thing). I do; however, have an acquaintance who is a journalist who writes for a major Canadian paper. He has been living in the Middle East for a couple of years, reporting on the people and the fighting in Israel in particular. Not an easy job to say the least. He has learned many things about both sides (the Israelis and the Palestinians) and has been shown the goodness of the human spirit from both sides (- that should keep a good journalist objective in their reporting...). In days of late, the ceasefire between the Israelis and the Palestinians has ended (over a week ago) and the Palestinians have been conducting random hits upon Israel; meanwhile, Israel has decided they have had enough and threw some bombs at Gaza killing over 200. Fight war with war, right?

In another area of action, there has been a movement happening amongst Israeli students. You see, when you finish high school at 17, you automatically enter into military training and service for a 2 year period before you continue on with your life (should you live through that 2 years, and to be fair, most do). At any time after this 2 year training period, you can be called into military service. If you refuse to participate in the military training, you can be placed in jail for 7-28 days and if you refuse to wear the military uniform during that jail time, you spend the your time in jail in solitary confinement. If at the end of this time you continue to refuse to enter into service, you can end up in jail again...and again...

As I am writing this, I have just received a letter from Jewish Voice for Peace - ironic...

Anyhow, this refusal of service is also known in Hebrew as "Shministim".

Now, one might wonder, when you get to thinking about things, that perhaps, this mandatory enlisting into military service does less to bring peace to this war torn area so much as it offers fuel to the Minds of war. Think about it. Is a constant stream of guaranteed recruits the answer or is there a better way? That is what this movement is about. Change for Peace. And certainly you cannot blame these high school students from wanting to create a better way. What kind of life is it that you are surrounded by war day in and day out? Never knowing if someone is going to blow themselves up or an air strike is going to hit you as you are walking down the street...

About 6 years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a Jewish family from Haifa who was in town (in Canada) visiting family and teaching some dance classes. They had a daughter that was 13 at the time and she was very quiet. Outside, she would look no one in the eye as she walked quickly to wherever she was going. Inside at the dance studio, we had balloons for the kids. One of the balloons popped and this girl jumped and immediately looked for her mom. Even before the scraps of the first balloon could be picked up another balloon popped. That was it. The girl broke into tears and clung to her mother begging her to leave...right then, to go someplace safe. This was a 13 year old girl! She was traumatized! Apparently a few weeks before they arrived in Canada, her father and her sister were late getting to the bus they would normally take home from the school that he worked at and she attended. That bus that they take everyday to and from their home was blown up by a suicide bomber that day. They were blessed to have been late that day. The family can hear the gunshots and bombings fairly regularly, and it is enough to leave such an impact on a 13 year old that she cannot even find any sense of peace in knowing it was only a balloon that popped. Can you imagine living like this day in and day out?! War. Fear.

So, when I hear of these students who want to change how they address the unrest in Israel, I can only offer my support and my prayers.

What do you think? Is this movement a realistic solution towards bringing peace to Israel?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

i am back...

I took a break and now I am intending to write for postings:)
Look below for the latest YouTube video...

The Big Ask: Climate change,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Find Out What Your Ecological Footprint Is...

What is your Ecological Footprint?
Find out what you can to do to become more environmentally friendly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alberta Tar Sands

The Alberta Tar Sands. Have you heard of it? A massive area about the size of Florida, containing more oil than Saudi Arabia, and the largest environmental disaster in progress...In the production of oil, water is used to separate the bitumen from the Tar Sand and for every barrel of oil produced, five barrels of water are used. That water comes from the Athabasca River. The waste water left over from the separation process is too contaminated to return to the Athabasca, in fact, giant tailing "ponds" (which should more appropriately be called "lakes") are created to hold this contaminated water. These tailing "lakes" are filled with toxins such as benzene, naphthenic acid, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, paraffin, naphtha, bitumen, other heavy metals and chemicals. In April of 2008, 500 migrating ducks were found dead in a tailing pond. These tailing lakes are lethal! And in some spots there is only a few meters separating the edge of the tailing lakes from the Athabasca river.

As this environmental time-bomb silently explodes, I would like to point out that there is a group of people who are in the center of these mining operations that are suffering great consequences. These people are the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan.

In this community, the rates of cancer have risen to numbers that have given rise to great alarm. The suspected source: the Tar Sands, or rather, the irresponsible mining process of the Tar Sands. The connection between water contamination and the health of these people is no mistake.

Mutant fish - fiction:

Above picture by Matt Groening from the Simpsons

or fact:

The Alberta Tar Sands are a great concern to not only the people of Alberta, but the world. The impact of this mining project has great stakes: financially, environmentally, and health-wise. The money to be made by mining and processing the Tar Sands is phenomenal for many interest groups and there are many power houses that want a piece of the pie, including China. But at what cost? Where is the responsibility to the public? to the Mikisew? to the environment? When all is said and done, the promise to restore the land is broken...they have no viable solution to reclaim the land at this point (only bandage answers); the cancers and illness that take the quality of life from the Mikisew and any others in this path of destruction cannot be reversed, and the environmental impact? Where do you start? CO2 emissions, acid rain, deforestation, contaminated water, mutated animals, not to mention the effects that have yet to be manifested in the world because of the lack of responsible planning and greed.

What I have presented is just the tip of the iceberg. This call to awareness and action is not just the latest trendy environmental issue, the development of the Tar Sands is a burden for the entire world. Please go to the different links for more information and PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD - SIGN THE PETITIONS BELOW TO SHOW SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE CONTINUED DEVASTATION OF THE TAR SANDS!

Add your thoughts by clicking on "comments" below.
Check out the "Links of Interest" on the sidebar for more information.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Post in the works...hang on...will arrive soon...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Upcoming US Election

Well, welcome. I am feeling a need to express and wander in the world of issues....

I am pondering how to organize this post, bear with me...I am thinking interactive; however, I may be best to head into the city core to sip coffee and converse with the locals for that....


I guess, to start, I will comment on this upcoming (which has been upcoming for what seems like years!) election in the US. Why they can't convince a nation in a few months versus spending all that they have over the few years, I don't understand...can you imagine what they could have done with all that excess money!! Anyhow, the choices are Obama and McCain. New versus old, untried versus riding on a track already groomed....I heard Joe Biden say that (and I am paraphrasing) If you vote for McCain, you are voting in another Bush government. And I have got to say, that is something to consider, on the other hand, it is reported that Focus on the Family is not endorsing Obama whatsoever, Obama being too liberal minded....

The question for me, if I were American, would be who has the best plan to straighten my country and our people for a healthy future. I use the word "healthy" strategically, meaning whole health - economics, environment, policy, physical/mental health, etc. Without this in mind, there is no future for the US, rather the future will be bleak. I know, I know, bold words from a is what I see looking on from the outside though.

As a Christian, I would be in fervent prayer if I wasn't convicted one way or the other as of yet. This is a very important time in history, this next president has a lot of damage control and house cleaning to do to re-establish a secure nation. Not fun, and personally I think these two men are gluttons for ...well, let's just say, their source of motivation for becoming the next president is intriguing.

I do not have television (quick get the smelling salts!), so the only time I actually get to watch these men in action is when I am treading at the gym, I don't bother much with video on the Internet either. So, their charismatic presence and stage performance is lost on me. I am looking to their words written to educate me on their platforms. However, that being said, there is much a person can glean from unedited camera presence...

I am very interested to see how this plays out...the next government could really do some great could also do some great bad. I pray each American will exercise their right to vote, that's what democracy is for; don't let others determine your future - be a part of the decision making, and do vote with God's guidance and with conviction!