Good People Doing Good Things — Ruby Kate Chitsey

A young lady, eleven-year-old Ruby Kate Chitsey, has popped up on my radar no less than three times in the past week, and with good reason.  Ruby’s mom, Amanda, is a nurse-practitioner who works in various nursing homes in and around their town of Harrison, Arkansas.  Whenever possible, Ruby accompanies her mom on her rounds several days a week.  I’ll let Ruby tell you in her own words what defining moment inspired her to begin her wondrous project …

“One day as my mom and I were leaving the nursing home, a patient named Pearl was glued to the exit doors staring for a long time at something. I figured whatever it was must be pretty exciting because I hadn’t seen anything exciting all day. So I hurried to catch up to her before whatever this was disappeared. I thought maybe it was a baby bird? A wreck in the parking lot? Ambulance? 

I get up there and there is a normal dog being led out on a leash to a car by a normal lady. That was it! Boring. I asked her what was going on and she said that was her dog of 12ish years. The dog had come to visit for the day and she was staring at the door because she didn’t know the next time she would see her dog again.

Pearl’s face was so sad.  I thought of all the things in this world Pearl could have, she would probably just ask for more visits with her dog. I know it costs $12 for a pet sitter/visit. I’m eleven and I have enough money saved in my piggy bank to get Pearl a few visits with her dog.”

Ruby-3Now, Ruby has already proven herself to be possessed of a huge, caring heart.  When she was nine-years-old, she started a project “to promote the kindness of Harrison people and its businesses through a painted rock project, called Harrison Rocks.”  Ruby gives credit for her inspiration to paint rocks to her cat, Bubba. Her first painted rock was a Bubba rock.

“My cat, he’s very inspiring and not everyone has a Bubba. I thought maybe if we put out a painted rock it would be like a little Bubba. It could make someone feel happy.”

But that was a precursor to her current project.  After her encounter with Pearl in the nursing home, Ruby started thinking.  Just $12 didn’t seem like much, but after talking to her mom and some of the nursing home residents, she learned that many of the people in the nursing homes are on Medicaid and while their daily care is covered by Medicaid, they are given only $40 in cash to purchase those extras each month.Ruby-4Ruby started spending more time with the residents, and began asking them a simple question:  “If I could bring you three things in the whole world, what would those be?”  The answers were surprisingly simple … fresh fruit, haircuts, snacks, or a book.  And Ruby began keeping a notebook …Ruby-notebook

And thus, The Three Wishes project was born.  With the help of her mother, she set up a GoFundMe account  that took off like wildfire, earning over $96,000 since its inception two months ago!

One man, when asked by Ruby what he would like, said “I want some pants that fit!”  Ruby’s mom says she has known that patient for over 18 years and never even realized that his pants were all too tight.

“I have been working in this field for 25 years, and you get used to caring for people’s medical needs, but you can forget about the need for joy.”

Ruby-2.jpegA visit to The Three Wishes Facebook page tells of the many special projects Ruby has done, such as the day she handed out over 100 candy bars to residents, some of whom said they had not had a candy bar in years.  And the first week in February, Ruby and her mom delivered McDonald’s Happy Meals that were a hit with all!Ruby-McDonaldsRuby has also begun creating artwork to adorn the residents walls.  Here’s a recent post by Ruby’s mom, Amanda …Amanda-post

Then there was the robotic cat (yes, there really is such a thing … I checked it out and then threatened to replace the Sig Six with them if they don’t behave! 😾) Ruby provided to a patient who absolutely adores cats more than anything in the world. This cat will sit on her lap all day if she likes and interact with her just enough to provide comfort.robotic-catIn addition to local media, Ruby’s project has attracted international attention, being featured on CNN as well as BBC.

Ruby visits the nursing homes (5 in total) a few times a week while Amanda makes her rounds, but to fill in the gaps, she has recruited a helper, one Marilyn Spurlock, who says …

Marilyn-Spurlock“It gives me something to do. It took away a lot of my depression — because I felt worthless and couldn’t do anything to help anybody. I’ve been here so long, I was no longer useful. Every day that goes by, I get a little more excited. I go out into in the hub — the areas where people sit. I look and talk to them and ask if there’s anything they need.”

Ruby Kate Chitsey is only 11 years old, and yet she has discovered something that many people my own age still don’t understand … a simple concept that there is much joy to be gained from helping others.  I hope never to be in a nursing home, but if ever I am, I hope there is someone like Ruby Kate to bring a ray of sunshine into my life! As I often do when writing about the very young who are doing good things, I have to give partial credit to Ruby’s parents, Dr. Blake and Amanda Chitsey, for they have obviously been superior role models.  And I give a huge thumbs-up to this young lady for dedicating her time and energy to helping so many people!

The Radar is Crowded Tonight!

Puff-magic-dragonIf you could see my radar screen tonight … blips all over the place!  Oh yeah, 2019 is going to be the year that finally drives Filosofa to lose her marbles and do something crazy like streaking nude through Grand Central Station screaming, “Run for your lives – Puff the Magic Dragon is attacking!!!” Long story short, this morning’s hodgepodge are not snarky snippets, but out-and-out rants … mini-rants, but rants nonetheless.  Hold your ears …


Trump’s history lesson:

Yesterday, Trump called a cabinet meeting, apparently for no reason other than to brag about the things he says he has accomplished but hasn’t, to blame everyone but himself for everything that is wrong, and to give us a new view of world history.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. So you take a look at other countries—Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight.”   Anybody want to buy him a copy of World History for Dummies or The Idiots Guide to World History?

While it is true that the former Soviet Union was financially drained by its 10-year campaign in Afghanistan, and collapsed only two years later, there were many other long-term factors in the USSR’s demise. In addition, the Soviets didn’t invade Afghanistan because “terrorists were going into Russia,” as Trump said, but because they wanted to shore up their pro-communist puppet government there.  And by the way, Donnie … Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, not fighting them.

A few other preposterous statements he made at the meeting …

“I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. I want Europe to pay. I don’t care about Europe.” This one was apropos of nothing, other than to criticize Germany, repeating for at least the millionth time that they are not contributing what he, Trump, considers proper to their own defense.  There are reasons for this, but they require an explanation of the history of Germany, and … well, let’s just not go into history with Trump anymore, okay?

Trump now claims, falsely, that he fired General James Mattis.  Not even a shred of truth to this … Mattis resigned in response to Trump’s utterly asinine plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan without even consulting his military advisors or our allies.  Period.  Trump did not fire him.

And he has new justification for his abominable wall … that the Vatican “has the biggest wall of them all”. 

The meeting lasted 95 minutes, after which all cabinet members likely headed to the nearest bar.

drunk


Another child is dead …Jazmine BarnesThe little girl in the picture above is Jazmine Barnes.  Correction … was Jazmine Barnes.  Jazmine was 7-years-old when she was murdered while riding in a car with her three sisters and her mother, LaPorsha Washington, in Houston, Texas.  The gunman has not yet been caught, even though the police know the vehicle he was driving.  Ms. Washington was also hit, albeit not fatally. Two things about this infuriate me.  First, that it happened.  Even though the majority of people in this nation are in favour of realistic and sensible gun regulation, thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and corrupt politicians, we have almost none.  And so, little Jazmine Barnes is dead, and her mom, dad, and sisters are bereft.

Porshia Washington

LaPorsha Washington

The second thing that inflames me about this is that I only found this news on the BBC, three days after the fact!  The BBC!  British Broadcasting Corporation!  Where was The Washington Post?  Where was the New York Times? I had to cross the pond to find out that a child was shot to death in my own country! This should have been front-page news, but if it was even reported, it was tucked far behind all the Trump-related headlines.  I did find the news on a Houston news outlet, Heavy.com, and The Root.  Two days after the shooting, CNN finally reported on it.  C’mon, media!  Trump is not the only show in town!


What am I, chopped liver???

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

This was a Trump tweet last Thursday morning.  Two days prior, he had told reporters that the furloughed federal workers were fully in support of Trump holding the nation hostage as he holds out for his abominable wall.  In just two days, the workers went from being on his side, patting him on the back, to being “just democrats” in his rhetoric.  Does this ‘man’ ever take time out to think???

The president, senators, representatives, governors, et al, are elected officials who are chosen by the voters to represent all citizens of the United States.  Their job is not only to represent the specific party with which they are affiliated.  Their job is not to represent only the people they like, or the people who approve of them or agree with them.  They are to represent We The People … ALL of ‘We’!  In addition to the aforementioned books, we should also send him a copy of U.S. Constitution For Dummies!

As a member of We The People, I am calling for the immediate resignation or impeachment and removal from office of the ‘man’ occupying the Oval Office, for he is not representing all of us, but only the minority.  He is endangering the lives of the people he is tasked with protecting and he must be removed NOW!  Hear that, Mitchell McConnell?  Hear that, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and the rest of you in the House “Freedom” Caucus?  Get. Him. Out.


Okay, well … I had one more rant, but I got so worked up over these three that I have forgotten the other.  Consider yourself lucky, I suppose.  Yep, folks, welcome to 2019.  Have a lovely day!Maxine-2019.jpg

A Wall or a White Elephant?

Back in June 2017, the BBC did an excellent, in-depth and well-researched report about the problems associated with Trump’s proposed ‘big, beautiful wall’ that Mexico isn’t going to pay for.  It is worth visiting at this time, when Trump’s demands that his wall be funded have caused a partial shutdown of our government and have contributed to a tumbling stock market.  What is the reality about building the wall?  What is the likely cost?  What are some of the hurdles?

I want to share some of the more salient points, and you can read the entire report using the link (above). The report breaks it down into six areas:


1. The geography is pretty unfriendly

In fact, the actual border is, in many places, defined as the deepest channel of the river. Building a wall in the middle of the Rio Grande would be challenging for obvious reasons, but there are also legal issues. A treaty signed by Mexico and the US in 1889 prevents any disruption to the flow of the river, meaning any border wall would probably have to be built on its banks. This, again, presents obvious problems.

While two thirds of its length runs along rivers, the southern US border also bisects other challenging environments – desert in California and Arizona and mountains in New Mexico.

In eastern California, there are the Algodones – or Imperial Sand Dunes – the largest sand dune ecosystem in the US. There is already a section of “floating fence” here, specifically engineered to work with the shifting sands, installed by the George W Bush administration.sand dunesMeanwhile, Arizona and New Mexico are mountainous. Coronado National Forest, in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, has several 9,000-ft peaks.

A wall appears impossible here.border-1The US-Mexico border has a delicate ecosystem that could be disrupted by any new barrier. A wall would prevent animals reaching their hunting lands, water sources and migration corridors. Grey wolves and jaguars hunt on both sides of the border. Other cross-border populations of wildlife include bison, bighorn sheep, ocelots and bears.

2. The price tag will be rather huge

Mr Trump’s initial price tag of between $8bn and $12bn has been widely disputed.

The 650 miles of fencing built under President George W Bush cost an estimated $7bn, and it could not be described as fulfilling Mr Trump’s promises of a “tall, powerful, beautiful” barrier.

A number of very different estimates have been put forward by other official bodies.

wall cost

It should be noted that the costs in the Senate Democrats’ report are based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

3. Actually building it is really difficult

In addition to the complex structural work, there is the surveying, land acquisition and access road-building.

Inviting companies to submit designs, the FedBizOpps.gov website stated the “cost-effective” structure must be made of reinforced concrete and:

Be “physically imposing in height”, towering at least 18ft above the border
Be impossible to breach with a ladder or grappling hooks and require at least an hour to breach with tools
Be sunk at least 6ft into the ground to prevent tunnelling
Blend in with the “surrounding environment” and be “aesthetically pleasing” from the north side
Include 25ft and 50ft gates for pedestrians and vehicles

However, the government, alongside its call for concrete wall designs, has asked for submissions for a “see-through component/capability” that “facilitates situational awareness”. This appears to suggest that the government is considering building out of materials other than concrete.

4. Trying to get hold of the land could be a nightmare

In order to build the wall, the government needs permission to use the land it stands on. However, about 66% of land along the US-Mexico border is either owned privately, by Native Americans or by individual states. In these cases, the government will need to coordinate mass voluntary sales of property or negotiate a right of way for the wall along large swaths of land.

Thousands of homeowners could be affected, including ranchers in Texas – among them Donald Trump supporters – who rely on access to the Rio Grande and pastures for their livestock. Trying to purchase this land could be a major challenge and if people refuse, the government would have to forcibly get hold of it.

Welcome to the term “eminent domain”. Eminent domain is a system used to gain ownership of private property for public use, such as for highways and railroads, usually accompanied by compensation. It has been used for the construction of border fences in the past.

Gerald S Dickinson, assistant professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, has warned that such eminent domain fights could take years.  Any federal eminent domain action on such a large scale against even a few landowners could trigger “decades of court disputes before anything is built”.

The proprietors of Tribal lands have already voiced firm opposition. The Tohono O’odham Nation owns much of such land, including a reservation that extends along 75 miles of the border in Arizona. Tribe members still live on both sides of the border, considering the territory their ancestral lands, and have indicated they will attempt to block construction if the wall goes ahead. Should that happen, Mr Trump would need a bill from Congress to acquire the land, which is currently protected under law.

5. It needs regular patrols to make it work

Homeland Security secretary, John F Kelly, has himself said that a “physical barrier will not do the job” and that you would have to back it up with patrolling human beings, sensors and observation devices.Tony-Estrada.png

“These people are coming from thousands and thousands of miles at great expense and in great danger. They have been victimised most of the way. Do you think a wall is gonna stop them? No, it’s just going to be another obstacle.” – Tony Estrada,Santa Cruz County Sheriff

6. U.S. and Mexican border towns rely on each other.  

Sealing off the border would also affect the economies of border towns and affect the wider US-Mexican economy – something many US politicians would be keen to avoid.

Communities along the US side of the border have developed close and dependant economic relationships with their sister cities in Mexico. Many Mexican towns are home to US factories employing thousands of people and Mexican shoppers spend billions of dollars in US border states every year.

The wall could also impact on the wider US-Mexico economic relationship too. Mexico is America’s second largest export market and America is Mexico’s largest.  The two countries have a “very deep” economic relationship, explains Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the think-tank the Wilson Center, with five million US jobs depending on it. The Wilson Center’s research suggests that if trade between the US and Mexico were halted, 4.9 million Americans would be out of work.

The two economies are now so interconnected, Mr Wilson says, that they no longer just sell finished products to each other, but instead “actually build products together”.


The facts, I believe, speak for themselves and Trump’s dream of a ‘big, beautiful wall’ is more aptly a white elephant.  The scheme is reckless and irresponsible and should not have been allowed to shut down parts of the federal government, putting over 300,000 people out of work and causing another 400,000 to be forced to work without pay.  Unconscionable.  white_elephant

From ‘Alternative Facts’ to Rewriting History in Trump’s White House

Just two days ago, I wrote a post about ‘alternative facts’, aka lies.  I didn’t plan to revisit the topic this soon, but I came across an excellent editorial written by Jon Sopel, the North American editor for BBC, that confirms my take on the subject and provides some additional food for thought.  I share with you his words …

jonsopelIt is time we sit and talk about truth and transparency.

Every now and then a few disparate things collide, and suddenly you see a pattern. And I don’t want this blog to come across as faux naïve. I’ve covered politics for long enough to know that politicians will try to shape and mould truth to best suit their purposes, to allow them to weaponise the facts that will give them greatest advantage.

And I know that politicians love transparency when it best suits them. But in the past two weeks, a line has been crossed.

Let me start with something seemingly minor. I was listening to the president and Theresa May at their news conference in the Chequers garden when Donald Trump, talking about Brexit, suddenly made the statement that he had predicted the result when he was at his golf course in Turnberry for the opening of his wonderful golf course the day before the EU referendum in June 2016.

I sat up with a jolt. I had been there with him on that trip.

We didn’t arrive until the day after the referendum. He wasn’t there on June 22nd. He was there on June 24th. I pointed this out on Twitter, saying it was a bit bizarre.

Now I can see as a bit of storytelling it works better to claim to have been the visionary who saw what was coming; I can also see that when you’re 72-years-old you might misremember dates and times. Who doesn’t do that occasionally? – although maybe not on something as fundamental as that.

Anyway back to my tweet saying the president was factually incorrect. Straight back shot Stephanie Grisham, who is the first lady’s director of communications, but more importantly at the time was Donald Trump’s press person for the trip to Turnberry.

She told me on Twitter the president was right to say what he had said – and she had the photos to prove it.tweet-1So we produced the tweet from the president on the 24th saying “Just arrived in Scotland…” and from her saying that she had just arrived in Scotland.

Someone else found the flight manifest, confirming that the Trump private jet had arrived on the 24th. I fully agree a storm in a teacup. This is not the sort of thing on which world peace hinges.

But I struggle to fathom Steph’s motives. Why did she go wading in to defend a lie? And why when the proof was provided that she was incorrect did she not just say “fair enough – my mistake”.tweet-2.pngPsychology has a rather good word for this – “gaslighting”.

This is the Wikipedia definition of it: Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the victim and delegitimise the victim’s belief.

From Chequers we now go to Helsinki, and another extraordinary news conference this time with Vladimir Putin. The whole thing was slightly surreal, made more so by the guy sitting next to me being yanked out by the Secret Service after it became clear to them he was planning some kind of protest during the news conference.

During the course of the Q and A, Jeff Mason from Reuters was called to ask a question. He wanted to know whether Putin had wanted Donald Trump to win the 2016 presidential election and had directed any of his officials to help him do that?

Vladimir Putin didn’t hesitate: “Yes, I wanted him to win because he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal.”

It was quite a moment. But then I saw a tweet that Donald Trump put out yesterday to protest about how tough he was with Russia, which read:

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

So I referred back to what Putin had said in Helsinki a week earlier. But here’s where it gets super murky. All reference to that exchange between Mr Mason and the Russian leader has been omitted from the official White House transcript. In the official record it doesn’t exist.

Just a clerical transcription error? Well maybe – there is some confusion over the translation, but maybe it would be good to correct the record.

Now for another random event which happened yesterday. The White House has said that it will no longer provide information about when the president holds conversations with foreign leaders, as it has always done hitherto.

The accounts of the chats may have been anodyne and terse, but they were a useful tool to keep track of foreign policy priorities. And it was always useful to compare and contrast what, say, the Kremlin would have to say about the conversation compared to the White House. Now we will no longer be able to do that.

And so to the final thing. Donald Trump was speaking at a rally in Kansas City. And he came out with a memorable phrase that sounded as though it had been lifted straight from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. He said: “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

Or it is. There is just a concerted – and sometimes it would seem – systematic effort to make you think otherwise.

Forget alternative facts. This is rewriting history.

If anything … anything at all … that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth is true, then I am the Queen of England.  ‘Nuff said.

Are Animals More Human Than Humans?

I consider myself an animal rights activist. Though I do not carry signs and march alongside PETA, I support animal rights both financially and in my writing.  Frankly, today I think animal rights are probably a much worthier cause than human rights, since animals are more pure of spirit and, as I am given to understand, inhabited the earth long before humans.  I do not wish to write tonight of Trump, the disastrous health care bill, Tillerson, Sessions, or any of the other ugly aspects of our daily life.  Instead, I wish to write about … pigs.

The headline that piqued my curiosity read …

Woman who helps thirsty pigs evades jail

Of course, I first thought the pigs were jail-bound, but upon closer reading (with a magnifying glass), I determined the woman who was helping the poor, thirsty pigs, was for some reason, jail-bound.

The story, as told by BBC, goes like this:

An Ontario judge dismissed mischief charges against Anita Krajnc, ending a legal battle that captured the global attention of animal rights activists.

Judge David Harris said he was not convinced that Ms Krajnc obstructed the use of property when she gave water to pigs headed to slaughter.

Ms Krajnc said it confirms “compassion is not a crime”.

Mischief to property is a criminal offence in Canada related to the wilful destruction or damage of property.

Justice Harris wrote in his decision that he is satisfied that Ms Krajnc “did not obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of any property” when in July 2015, she gave water to a few animals being carried in a tractor trailer filled with 190 pigs going to a slaughterhouse outside Toronto.

Ms Krajnc, who co-founded an organisation called Toronto Pig Save in 2011, regularly gathered with other activists on a traffic island at an intersection near a large slaughterhouse to pet the animals and give them water.

But this time, the truck driver confronted Ms Krajnc and police were called. A video of the tense encounter was posted online by the activists.

During her trial, supporters crammed into the courtroom, many sitting on the floor. Members of the media sat in the prisoner’s box.

Despite her win on Thursday, Ms Krajnc told the BBC she has “mixed feelings” about the decision.

“We were hoping for recognition in the legal system that pigs and other animals are simply not property – that they are sentient beings, that they have basic rights,” she said.

pigs-1

So, doesn’t that raise a number of questions in your mind?  It doesn’t, you say?  Awwww … c’mon … play along here and don’t force me back into the world of … well, you know … just yet.  Filosofa is trying to de-stress here, and the least you can do is play along …

So, (for those of you still reading) the first question is:  Should animals have the same rights as humans? Well, in a case in New York in 2015, two chimps, Leo and Hercules, went to court.  Their lawyers wanted them removed from an animal testing facility to an animal sanctuary.  The judge, one Barbara Jaffe, suggested the chimps had the right of habeas corpus – the ancient legal principle under which the state has an obligation to produce missing individuals before a court.

pigs-2-chimp

But later, the judge changed the wording and suggested that the court does not consider the animals to be legal persons. Awwwwww …. This story was supposed to DE-stress me …  😥

The year before, there was the story of another chimp named Tommy, in which case a judge said a chimp was not entitled to the same rights as people.

pigs-3-Tommy

And this led to the term speciesism, defined as: “the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. …a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.”

Now, folks … look around you at the world today.  Do ‘human animals’ ACT like they have ‘greater moral’ rights?  Do they even act like they have morals? If humans are to be considered “superior”, then does it not follow that they have a moral obligation to care for those who fall beneath them in the … um … food chain?

If you made it this far, thank you for putting up with this rambling-of-the-mind post, but the mind was rather like a rubber band wound too tight and needed to be let off the leash for just a bit.  I shall return in a bit with more of my usual fare.  Meanwhile, if you see a thirsty pig today … give him a bit of water.