Post-Weekend Snarky Snippets

Jill is the name, snark is the game!


Shoot the monkeys into space!

Hey folks … do you happen to have an extra $28 million lying around somewhere?  If so, guess what … you could be shot into space with none other than the world’s wealthiest man, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos!  Oops … never mind … scratch that, for someone has already paid da price for this … er … opportunity of a lifetime.

That’s right … apparently there was an auction on Saturday hosted by Bezos’ Blue Origin company, and an anonymous bidder topped the bidding at $28 million for the “opportunity” to join Bezos in space.  The fool’s bidder’s name is to be announced soon, according to Blue Origin.  I will only say that … I see this entire thing as a huge waste of time and money.  Mr. Bezos and this ‘anonymous bidder’ could give every dime spent on this useless venture to starving children around the globe and I would have far more respect for them than I have under present circumstances.  Happy space travels and I don’t really care if you return or not.


C’mon man … ride da bike

Now, I’ll grant you that UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks as if he could really use two things:  a haircut and some exercise.  But I had to laugh when I read that President Biden gifted Boris with a bicycle during the G7 summit this past weekend.

And he even threw in a helmet …

And in return, Boris gave President Biden a framed picture of a mural showing the US anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass.

And here we were afraid the two wouldn’t get along!


Bye-Bye Bibi!

Israel’s Prime Minister for the past 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu, is officially out of power.  In his place is Naftali Bennett who was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister on Sunday, after winning a confidence vote with the narrowest of margins, just 60 votes to 59.

What this will mean remains to be seen.  Over the past 12 years, Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics. He’s not only successfully implemented a series of right-wing policies, such as entrenching Israel’s presence in the West Bank, but also consolidated a dangerous amount of power in his own hands. He is currently on trial for corruption charges stemming from, among other things, his attempt to buy off media outlets.

The new government is a coalition of eight parties coming from right, left and center, with the only thing bringing them together being to oust Netanyahu.  I see bumpy roads ahead!

Bennett, of the far-right Yamina Party, will serve as prime minister — a job he’ll keep for two years while Yair Lapid, of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, serves as foreign minister. After two years, they will rotate, with Lapid taking the top position and Bennett in the cabinet. During the whole period, both of them will have veto power over policy — so even while Bennett is nominally Lapid’s boss, the latter will be able to block the former’s moves at will.  If you think the U.S. Senate is a stalemate, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

Perhaps the single most important … nay, crucial issue at the moment is the conflict with the Palestinians.  On this issue, Bennett supports annexing much of the West Bank and opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, while Lapid supports a two-state solution negotiated with the Palestinian leadership.  All of which leads me to believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue for at least the next two years, likely much longer.  More lives, mostly Palestinian, will be lost, more tension will rise in the Middle East, and very little will have changed.  I could be wrong.  I hope I am.


Gonna be a long, hot summer

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been on edge since the brutal murder of George Floyd by a police officer, Derek Chauvin.  Chauvin was tried and convicted on numerous charges and now awaits sentencing. Then on June 3rd, Minneapolis police shot and killed yet another Black man, Winston Smith.  Last night just after 11:30 p.m., a group of peaceful protestors were holding a vigil against police brutality in Minneapolis when suddenly a man drove a car into the group, killing one woman and injuring three other people.

Recently, the state of Oklahoma passed a bill into law that effectively allows drivers to hit people with a car under certain very vague circumstances.  Florida recently passed a similar bill.  Fortunately, at this time Minnesota does not have one … the driver of the car has been arrested and will likely be charged with, at the very least, vehicular manslaughter.

It’s going to be a long, hot summer, folks, not only in Minneapolis, but across the nation.  The very last thing we need in this country are states telling people that it’s okay to run over people with a car, that there won’t be any repercussions, no price to pay.  Welcome to the new United States, a country where right is wrong, up is down, and the law is only on your side if you’re white, Christian, straight, and a male.

🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating Pride Month – Part II 🏳️‍🌈

Yesterday, I posted a bit of the history of Pride Month in the U.S., and as I mentioned there, I took up all my space talking about the history of the month, and didn’t leave room for all the fun things.  This post incorporates some of last year’s post, but also some new things that show some of the many ways the month is celebrated, people who have been prominent in bringing LGBTQ issues to the forefront, pictures, etc.  Last year, Pride events were severely curtailed with nearly all in-person Pride marches, demonstrations and parades being canceled or turned into virtual events because of safety considerations due to the pandemic.  But with the vaccine rollout continuing around the world, many organizers have resumed plans to hold in-person Pride events and more than 150 official Pride festivals and events are happening around the world in 2021.  But first, let’s look back at a few of my favourites from years past …

This one dates back to 2019, but it’s one of my favourite stories to celebrate Pride Month.  One of the things I found most fun takes place at the London Zoo.  You might remember a post I wrote in October 2018 about Sphen and Magic, two same-sex penguins in Sydney, Australia, who were given a baby penguin to raise.   Well, the London Zoo has its own celebrity couple, Ronnie and Reggie.gay-penguinsTo celebrate the pair and similar animal couples, in 2019 the zoo gave a “Pride makeover” to its Zoo Night event on July 5. In addition to regular Zoo Night festivities, the zoo taught about gender, mating and same-sex animal pairings.

Like Sphen and Magic, Ronnie and Reggie adopted an egg that was abandoned by another couple, sharing parenting duties of their chick Kyton until he fledged the nest. Though their baby is now grown, Ronnie and Reggie are still going strong and are often found snuggling in their nest box. The zoo is home to 93 penguins total, and Ronnie and Reggie are not the only same-sex couple. 👍


How ‘bout a beer?  The makers of Bud Light are very LGBTQ-friendly, and for two decades have partnered with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).  Last year, they did something pretty cool to honour the LGBTQ community.  Take a look …Pride-month-bud-light.jpgBud Light sold the rainbow-colored aluminum bottles in bars nationwide from May 27 to June 30 and donated to GLAAD $1 from each case sold.  👍


Pride-turbanThis is Jiwandeep Kohli, a Sikh man from San Diego.  Last June, he posted this picture on Twitter, and the response was overwhelming … it garnered nearly 152,000 likes, and was re-tweeted more than 21,000 times, including once by none other than President Obama!!!  👍


CNN did a nice piece highlighting six LGBTQ activists:  Billie Jean King, Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, Larry Kramer, and RuPaul Charles.  Of these, I had only heard of the first two, but the piece is well worth a read, for these six people have been key players in the fight for LGBTQ rights.  And on a personal note, if you have never seen the film Milk, starring Sean Penn, now is the time.  I am not a fan of Mr. Penn, but I saw this movie several years ago, and … I promise you will love Harvey Milk, and you will need a box of tissues.  At least check it out, and also the piece by CNN.    👍


Pride Month is not only celebrated in the U.S., but ‘round the world.  Last year, due to the pandemic, most events were virtual, but this year, with things beginning to open back up, there were many parades and celebrations.  Here are a few of this year’s international celebrations …

Copenhagen WorldPride 2021

In 2021, Copenhagen Pride is the lucky host of WorldPride: a world-wide Pride event that celebrates a new city each year. In a massive celebration of equality and diversity.

Madrid Pride 2021

Celebrating a half-century of LGBTQ+ liberation in one of the best cities in Spain, MADO (Madrid Pride) is a colorful week-long party with open air concerts, parties, art, culture and sport, all taking place in Chueca: Madrid’s famous gay neighborhood and the very center of the city. The climax is the parade, with over 2 million attendees expected in 2021.

NYC Pride 2021

30 days, 50+ events, 3 million people. The event’s attached nonprofit, Heritage of Pride, plans and produces the city’s first and only official LGBTQIA+ Pride events each year to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969: the beginning of the modern Gay Rights movement.  Even the police get into the spirit!

Paris Pride 2021

Marche des Fiertés LGBTQ is a historic event for the French capital, born in the 80’s when a group of locals from the community united over a fight for LGBTQ+ rights.  Disneyland Paris is throwing a magical Pride celebration on in June 2021.

Berlin Pride 2021

Berlin Pride is one of the biggest European Pride events of the year. Known by locals as CSD (Christopher Street Day), the event is a gay landmark that’s been celebrated in Berlin since 1979. Today, four decades later, over one million people gather each year to honor LGBTQ+ equality and self-determination in Germany. Attendees of CSD can expect everything from official club nights in Kreuzberg to queer film screenings across the city.

London Pride 2021

Pride in London is “about the people, for the people.” This year’s theme is  #PrideJubilee, remembering fifty years of activism, protests and victories that have made the movement what it is today.

There are many more such events all ’round the globe from Amsterdam to Mexico and everywhere in between, and you can find information about many other parades and celebrations hereNote that some cities are postponing their parades until later in the year, in hopes that the pandemic will have further receded. 

There is much, much more I could write, many more wonderful events to cover, but time and space are limited.  Sadly, in this, the 21st century, discrimination against the LGBTQ community still exists.  But, there are positive signs, too.  Earlier this month sisters Dawn & Miranda, co-owners of a small Lufkin, Texas bakery, saw both the negative and the positive when they advertised their Pride cookies …

The following day, the sisters saw order after order being cancelled and messages of hate left on their website.  But then … after the sisters posted about their plight, about the hate they were receiving, they became an overnight hit!  People from as far away as Washington state, Minnesota, New York, Canada, Brazil and the United Kingdom sent messages of support and their entire stock of baked goods sold out by mid-afternoon.  By the end of the next day, they had gained some 2,500 new social media followers!

The line waiting to get into the bakery!

When there was nothing left to buy, customers began simply donating money to the sisters … money that they then donated to Wendy’s Misfits Animal Rescue, an all-volunteer non-profit in Lufkin.  See how love can overcome hate?  It really can, my friends.


To all my friends who are part of the LGBTQ community … HUGE hugs and much love to you all!!!

Pride-month-1Pride-month-1-aPride-month-1-bPride-month-1-cPride-month-1-dPride-month-1-ePride-month-1-fPride-month-1-g

Five Years Later …. “ 🏳️‍🌈 ‘It Still Hurts! Gone Too Soon’ – #OrlandoUnited 🏳️‍🌈 …. “!!

Due to circumstances largely beyond my control, Part II of my “Celebrating Pride Month” post has been delayed by a day until this afternoon. However, as my friend Larry points out, PRIDE Month is about more than parades and celebrations, it is about history and heartbreak as well. Five years ago, 49 people were murdered and 53 others injured in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. My dear friend Horty Rex is looking back at that night, remembering those people, and I think her post is as important to honouring PRIDE Month as are the parades and celebrations. Thank you, Horty, for this beautiful tribute to those people.

It Is What It Is

~~June 12, 2021~~

PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE

Five years ago today, I remember waking up to the horrific reality, perpetrated on my local LGBTQ+ community in Orlando.

#OrlandoUnited

Gone but not frogotten!!

The majority of the victims were Latin/Hispanic … that was another blow to one of my demographics. It’s something that can’t never, ever be fogotten!!

#49Angels

… who will live in our hearts and memories for all eternity!!

HortyRex©

ORLANDO

~REMEMBERING THE PULSE 49~

Five years ago, 49 families learned their mothers, fathers, siblings and friends would not be coming home after a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Each one of the 49 people killed, now known as the 49 angels, on June 12, 2016, left behind a legacy.

Before they were victims, the 49 were mothers, fathers, recent graduates, veterans, breast cancer survivors, dreamers, artists and so much more.

~~Published April 28, 2017~~

On…

View original post 79 more words

🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  Today, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past two years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few days ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we have made progress, today there are states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and others that have either passed or are preparing bills that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and reprised in 2020.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for later this afternoon.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!


Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“”During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!

Pride-month-4

A Conundrum … No Easy Answers

Yesterday, I wrote with some annoyance about the Department of Justice continuing to support the previous administrations claims that … basically, the former guy could do no wrong and was above the law, no matter how many women he raped and then denigrated publicly.  Today, one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, has given me pause, caused me to perhaps look at it from a slightly different perspective.  One sentence says it all … “The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power.”  While I still do not support We the Taxpayers having to pay to defend a rapist madman, I now have a somewhat better understanding of why the Justice Department is doing what they are doing.  Like Mr. Robinson, I hope Trump, and by extension the U.S. Justice Department, lose the suit to Ms. Carroll, for she is deserving of retribution, but I now understand it better.  And I think it only fair that any restitution to Ms. Carroll come out of the former guy’s pocket, not mine and not yours.


Merrick Garland is right to be cautious about breaking with Trump’s Justice Department

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

June 10, 2021 at 4:05 p.m. EDT

As frustrating and galling as it may be to see President Biden’s administration make anything less than a clean break with its predecessors, Attorney General Merrick Garland is right not to peremptorily reverse positions taken by the Justice Department during the Trump era. And his caution is appropriate even if those positions, such as continuing to represent a certain Mar-a-Lago resident in a defamation case, are clearly wrong.

The Justice Department never should have tried to defend Donald Trump in a civil lawsuit filed by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says that Trump, back in his real estate mogul days, raped her in a department store dressing room. When Carroll made her rape allegation public, then-President Trump called her a liar. Carroll responded by suing Trump for defamation, seeking damages.

Trump was initially represented by private counsel. But his Justice Department intervened to have the case moved to U.S. District Court and argued that it should have been dismissed, saying that Trump was a government “employee” acting within “the scope of his employment” when he verbally attacked Carroll, and thus enjoyed immunity for his defamatory words.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled against those claims in October and ordered that Carroll’s lawsuit be allowed to proceed. But Garland’s Justice Department is continuing to defend Trump, even though Kaplan determined that the case should be seen as a private matter between two individuals.

I hope the Justice Department ultimately loses the case and Carroll gets her day in court. But Garland, by staying the course, is sending a powerful message: The Justice Department doesn’t “belong” to Trump or Joe Biden or any one president. The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power. We should all swallow hard and accept Garland’s general commitment to some measure of continuity, because the alternative can be much worse.

I know that from personal observation. I was The Post’s South America correspondent three decades ago, at a time when most nations on the continent were emerging from long, dark years of military rule and trying to rebuild their democratic institutions. They all found that once faith in those institutions is lost, it is not easy to regain.

I was based in Buenos Aires, and Argentina’s civilian leadership was still finding its bearings. After years of being lied to by the murderous ruling junta, citizens had little faith in what their elected leaders said. And they had even less faith in the ability of the court system to honestly ascertain truth and deliver justice.

One instructive case study was a brutal rape and murder in Catamarca, a province in the Andean foothills. On a Friday night in September 1990, a 17-year-old girl named Maria Soledad Morales went with some friends to a local dance and never came home. Her tortured and mutilated body was found the following Monday in a roadside ditch. The Catamarca police chief initially said only that she had died from cardiac arrest, but it was later found that she had been brutalized and possibly forced to ingest a lethal dose of cocaine.

Suspicion fell on a group of young men with ties to the Saadi family, a powerful dynasty that had been in control of the province since the days of strongman Juan Perón. But none of these men was arrested by local police, whose statements about the case no one trusted.

The Carmelite nun who ran the school Morales had attended began organizing marches calling for justice, and the demonstrations grew so large that the national government had to respond by sending in a strike force of supposedly “untouchable” investigators. But no one trusted anything they said about the case, either.

The problem was that the Saadis had been political allies of then-President Carlos Menem. The universal assumption was that with Menem in power, there would be no honest and thorough investigation that might hold the Saadis or other powerful people accountable.

Finally, eight years later, two men — one of them a well-connected scion — were convicted of involvement in the murder; they each served time in prison and were released. Many Argentines are convinced — as am I — that the justice system never got anywhere near the full truth of the murder. Ramón Eduardo Saadi, who at the time was the provincial governor, was removed from office in 1991 — but only because of how loud the outcry about the case became.

My point is not that Argentina is uniquely flawed, but that we do not want the United States to become a nation where the default assumption is that justice is always political. We don’t want to be a place where culpability and liability depend on who happens to be president.

So if Garland believes there are plausible reasons for the government to keep defending Trump in Carroll’s defamation suit, I’m glad he’s doing so. His job is to follow the law as he sees it — even when I think he’s dead wrong.

Good People Doing Good Things — Today’s Youth

We hear a lot about “young people today”, much of it negative.  But today’s good people are all youths who have started their own charities doing a variety of different things to help others.  If these are indicative of most young people today, I’d say the future is in pretty good hands!

I can only give a brief snippet about each of these young people and their endeavors, but I will provide a link to each one’s charity so you can find out more about them if you wish.


EVERY CHILD NOW

Every Child Now is a youth-run organization focusing on holistic development aid and empowerment projects worldwide. This nonprofit was spearheaded by two brothers, Vishal and Ishan Villay, and a small group of their peers at just 13 years old, after an inspiring trip to India.

Vishal is now 18 years old and has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work. Since the conception of Every Child Now, the charity has raised $100 000, and distributed over 35, 000 units of “basic supplies,” which are a range of resources across education, food, healthcare, shelter, and water sectors. Every Child Now has grown into a national organization and also works domestically to promote and protect children’s rights in the Villay’s home country of Canada.


HALIFAX TO BEIRUT WITH LOVE

After the recent explosion in Beirut, Halifax local Jaden Lawen decided to launch Halifax to Beirut With Love, at just 17 years old. This Canadian-Lebanse citizen spent every summer in Beirut as he was growing up. Unfortunately, he received multiple notices and photographs of his close friends in the hospital following the explosion. Upon hearing the stories of their injuries and their trauma, Jaden hoped to travel to Beirut to provide on-the-ground assistance in whatever way possible. Unfortunately, due to the current global climate amidst a pandemic, this was not an option, and so Halifax to Beirut with Love was born.

In just a few short months, the Jaden raised over $17,000 dollars for the Red Cross relief efforts.


VANILLA FEEDS TOMORROW

14-year-old William Cabaniss states that he has always been troubled thinking about how people can go hungry and that citizens of his community may be starving. Especially in the height of the pandemic, William became increasingly concerned about the unmet demand for food security resources and food hampers from the local food bank. When he thought about something that he could do to raise money to help support the food banks and shelters in the area, he thought about his talents and love of baking. “I love the added taste that comes from vanilla extract. When I bake, I like to add a touch of vanilla extract even if it is not called for”, he states on his website. And so, Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow was founded. William did some research and learned how to make premium vanilla extract at home using Madagascar vanilla beans. In his first few days of selling his homemade extract, he raised thousands of dollars and has continued to grow his operation since the beginning of the pandemic.


BALL4GOOD

After spending 20% of a 7th-grade history class on a service project, Adom Appiah decided to launch and continue his work through the charity Ball4good officially. This nonprofit aims to support various community charities and organizations through organized, charitable sports events. Adom and his team would host large sports events, and admissions fees are donated to various charities chosen by the Adom, and the community. After receiving national recognition for his work, Adom had attracted major celebrities’ attention. And now, many famous coaches and players have partnered with the charity to draw extra guests and funds to all of his events!

Adom is also the author of Kids Can Change the World, a book inspiring youth to follow their passions.


CONAN FUND

After losing his father to suicide in 2018, 16-year-old Jacob Grosberg decided to start The Conan Fund. The charity is a mental health advocacy agency that aims to raise awareness and raise funds for mental health organizations that provide resources to adults and children in urgent need of support. Since Grosberg started The Conan Fund in honor of his late father, he has raised over $12 000 and funded the help of over 60,000 people in need of mental health resources. Many national and international organizations have recognized Jacob for his work.


BE THE CHANGE COLORING CO.

Lauryn Hong, Ella Matlock, Sofia Migliazza, and Erin Rogers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take over the world, four high school students, Lauryn Hong, Ella Matlock, Sofia Migliazza, and Erin Rogers, from Long Beach, decided they were going to use their creative talents to serve their community. Together, they drew and developed coloring books for kids that explained best practices for staying safe during the pandemic and being kind to one another. Each customer is given a chance to choose the charity they would like the proceeds from each book sale to go to. However, each book is focused on a different issue and has another suggested organization beneficiary.


CHELSEA’S CHARITY

While not technically yet a teenager, 10-year-old Chelsea deserved a feature, without question. A firm believer in the benefits of art therapy, Chelsea decided that instead of presents for her 10th birthday, she would ask guests to donate art supplies to build art therapy boxes, which she would distribute to children going through difficult times. Chelsea knows that creative expression is an excellent way to assist in healing from grief and promote self-expression. So even after her birthday was over, Chelsea knew that she needed to keep making these kits to make art therapy accessible for everyone. After Chelsea’s Charity became an official nonprofit, Chelsea has fundraised, assembled, and distributed thousands of art therapy kits to children in the El Paso area and taught free art classes herself.

*Note:  I featured Chelsea last year in another good people post, but I am including her here, for I felt a re-visit was in order.


NOAHS ARK PROJECT

14-year-old Noah enlisted his father, Mark, to found Noah’s Ark Project after being distressed by the prevalence of homelessness on vacation. Together, they set out to acquire sleeping bags out of an emergency fabric designed by NASA for first responders to provide instant warmth. It was imperative to Noah that the sleeping bags were easily portable and lightweight and would provide adequate protection from inclement weather for those without a permanent shelter. Noah’s Ark has continued to grow exponentially and has garnered plenty of media attention. Thousands of sleeping bags have been distributed to homeless US citizens, including a large population of homeless veterans since the project began.

American Evangelical Support for Israel, Explained

Our friends Jeff ‘n Jerry over at On the Fence Voters have been having a conversation about the evangelical’s blindfaith support for Israel despite the hostilities between Israel and Palestine, and they have invited us to listen in. As you all know, I am not religious, am a non-believer, but I do try to understand those of various religions, why they believe as they do, etc. This conversation between Jeff and Jerry is well worth listening in … I learned some things! Thanks Jeff and Jerry!

On The Fence Voters


Amid a fragile ceasefire in the Middle East, still holding at present time, I found myself wondering about the unwavering support the American evangelical community continues to show towards Israel. I’ve heard about the reasons, but I’ve never spoken directly to someone in that community until now.

Jerry Gramckow has considered himself a part of the evangelical community for over 40 years now. A graduate of Multnomah University with a dual major in biblical education and journalism, he’s written for several newspapers, magazines, book publishers, websites, and more. He wrote and edited for various religious publications as well. As most of you who follow our blog know, Jerry is Grumpy1180 here, and has been a valued contributor. Thanks Jerry!

So when things started to go awry again in the Middle East, as it seemingly always does, I thought immediately of Jerry, who I met through a publication that we both…

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FACTS Matter And Ignorance Is NOT Bliss

Truth is not subjective!  Truth is based on facts.  Period.  Fact:  the sugar bowl on my kitchen counter is in the shape of a strawberry.  That is not disputable by any reasonable mind who has ever seen my sugar bowl … or a strawberry.

Today, however, there are people who will argue any point, even when a thousand facts have been presented by credible, well-respected experts.  Take, for example, climate change.

97% – 98% of all climate scientists worldwide support the consensus on human-caused climate change, and yet there are people who will tell you it’s all a hoax.  A HOAX???  For some, it is a matter only of ignorance, for they do not understand the difference between climate and weather.  For others, it is a matter of Terminal Stupidity for they believe what their favourite politicians tell them despite all the facts to the contrary.  Those favourite politicians take their marching orders from the heads of such companies as Exxon Mobil (oil company) and Murray Energy (coal company) because those are the CEOs that are lining the politicians’ pockets.  As of 2020, 88% of Democrats believe that climate change presents a major threat, while only 31% of Republicans believe it. The facts are there for all to see … melting icecaps, rising sea levels, rising temperatures, prolonged droughts, more severe and frequent tropical storms, and more.  How can anybody deny the science here?

And speaking of science, conspiracy theories and lies abound in Republican circles about the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine.  Even though it is a fact that more than 600,000 people have died in the U.S. alone and 3.5 million have died worldwide as a result of the coronavirus, there are still those who thumb their nose, refuse to wear a mask, and are refusing the vaccine, saying it infringes on their ‘right’.  And yes, once again, the majority of those are Republicans.  A poll taken last month shows that 45% of Republicans say they will not be vaccinated.  One of the leading Republican conspiracy theories making the rounds is that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for a plan to implant trackable microchips via the vaccine, and that the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it.  This one ranks right up there with the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton was running a sex trafficking ring in the basement of a pizza parlour. That one almost got people killed … the vaccine refusal will absolutely get people killed, perhaps innocent (not Republican) people.

And then there is that Big Lie that says the former one-term, twice-impeached guy actually won the election for president in 2020, despite the fact that not one single shred of evidence exists to support that lie.  In fact, every bit of evidence proves that President Biden won the election by more than 7 million votes!  And, if you want to talk about election facts, that former guy was never the legitimate president of the United States, for he LOST the 2016 election by nearly 3 million votes!  But, due to a little thing known as the Electoral College and gerrymandering, that really boils down to racist cheating, he was allowed access to the Oval Office and spent four years there tearing down instead of building up.  A national poll conducted just last week shows that fully 53% of Republicans still believe that the former guy is the “true president” now.  61% of Republicans believe the election was “stolen” from the former guy.  My jaw drops every time I see these figures … how in the Sam Hell can anybody be so bloomin’ stupid???

For more than four years, I have made every effort not to paint Republicans with a broad brush, not to lump them all in together, and not to label them, but I can no longer continue that effort.  Every single thing I am seeing today tells me two things:  Republican politicians are as corrupt as they come, they would rather rob us of our rights than lose their power; and the majority of Republican voters are just plain ignorant, not bothering to dig a bit for a few facts, but instead content to believe everything they hear on Fox ‘News’ and out of the mouths of such blathering idiots as Margie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz, and others.  They say that ‘ignorance is bliss’ … and it may well be for the ignorant, but their bliss is quite literally killing the rest of us. Sorry, Republicans, but respect is earned and you have lost my respect by your ignorance, by the danger you are putting us all in with your ignorance.  If you want respect, get up off your arses and educate yourselves, try studying a few facts, and using your brain.  Earn that respect.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/22

This week’s editorial cartoons, needless to say, largely focused on the topic of the proposed January 6th commission and the attempts by congressional Republicans to block any such investigation.  Odd, don’t you think, for it seems to me that being so dead set against finding the answers to the ‘who, what, how’ questions is a sign of guilt in and of itself.  It makes me wonder how many Republican members of Congress had a hand in the insurrection/attempted coup.  And then, of course, there is the cease fire between Israel and Palestine, and the new threats to women’s rights coming up in the Supreme Court.  Never a dull moment, is there?  Our friend TokyoSand has, as she always does, found the best of the political cartoons for your Saturday afternoon pleasure!  Thanks again, TS!

 

See The Rest Of The ‘Toons Here!

Saturday Surprise — Comedy Wildlife!

Every September for the past three years, I have posted some of the winning photos from the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (links to prior years at bottom of post).  The contest is open through June 20th, and winners are announced in September, but this year I have some preview entries that have already been received, and I thought they might make a good way to start the weekend with a smile!

“Quarantine Life” By Kevin Biskaborn

“Isolated inside with your family eager to get out and explore the world? These eastern raccoon kits are too. Just when you think there’s no more room in the tree hollow, mother raccoon appears and displays just how compact the space is. The babies clambered all over their mom and each another, struggling to take a look at the exact same time. This photo was taken in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. After exploring a particular area with numerous tree hallows, I identified it as a hot spot for raccoon families. Since raccoons will move from den to den, often not spending more than one night at a time in a particular den, locating an area with numerous options is key to locating the animals. I stumbled across this family and immediately worked on leveling the camera with the hole to prevent an upward angle. When the camera and tripod were ready, the baby raccoons were extremely curious (and cooperative), sticking their heads out for a closer look!”

“Monday Morning Mood” By Andrew Mayes

“I took this shot while photographing a group of Pied starlings perched in a tree at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in South Africa. It perfectly sums up my mood on most Monday mornings :)”

“Bald Eagle Gets A Surprise” By Arthur Trevino

“When this Bald Eagle missed on its attempt to grab this prairie dog, the prairie dog jumped towards the eagle and startled it long enough to escape to a nearby burrow. A real David vs Goliath story!”

“ROFL” By Giovanni Querzani

“A young lion in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, who apparently is laughing at my photography skills.”

“Yay – It’s Friday!” By Lucy Beveridge

“A young springbok, all ears and spindly legs, caught in midair while pronking as the sun started to rise over the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. There’s not much information on why the Springbok pronk but some theories suggest it is a way of showing fitness and strength to ward off predators and attract mates. It has also been said that this small, dainty and largely unappreciated antelope also pronks out of excitement, jumping for joy!”

“Yoga Bittern” By KT Wong

“A Yellow Bittern was trying very hard to get into a comfortable hunting position. I got this shot when it was between 2 stalks of lotus flower.”

“Happy” By Tom Svensson

“These penguins was surfing on the waves on to land and looked so happy each time”

“Sweet-Lips Are For Kissing” By Philipp Stahr

“This picture was taken at Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean. Usually box fishes are difficult to take pictures of, since they do not have a problem of a diver coming close, but if you show interest, they always turn the back and not the face to you. That’s why I tried to swim 0.5m above the fish and showing no interest at all to him. The same time I had my camera not in front of me, but below at my chest pointing to the bottom. When the right moment had come, I turned the camera 90 degrees to the front and just point and shoot, hoping to have the fish in focus. Never expected to have its beautiful lips that close!”

“Houston We’ve Had A Problem” By Txema Garcia Laseca

“This fish is astonished when has been trapped for a fisher bird.”

“Missed” By Lea Scaddan

“Two Western Grey Kangaroos were fighting and one missed kicking him in the stomach.” (I really thought it looked like they were dancing!)

“Cranky Hippo” By Rohin Bakshi

“The baby hippo wanted his mother’s attention, but it seems he wasn’t getting any…”

I’ll be back in September with more, once the final tally is in!  Meanwhile, if you’re interested in entering the contest yourself, it is open to both amateur and professional photographers, so visit their website to find out more!

Prior years’ posts Comedy Wildlife posts:

2018

2019

2020

Have a happy weekend, my friends!