Take A Stand For Peace

These are grave times, once again. In the Middle East once again, the guns are out, the fighting has begun and across the world, there are those of us, trying to figure out what would help solve this issue. What would bring Peace? What could bring harmony when there is such hate?

Today an activist for peace told me…

“Most of us think we are “standing” with a race, culture, or religion. But in reality we are creating a position against one another. How will we ever come together as human beings if we keep separation going? Time to create unity. Time to come together. We are all the same. We all want love. We have a choice to be connecting with each other as the human race versus creating more separation, hate, and anger. Empower each other, versus bring each other down. Share love with each other instead of sharing hateful speech. We are in charge of making these choices. Choose to come together versus creating more separation!

Take a stand versus take a position. I stand for humanity. What do you stand for?”
Share your thoughts….

It’s Not About Donald Sterling, It’s About Stopping Hate

In light of recent events regarding Donald Sterling, a friend of mine, reached out to me, wondering where he could express his feelings on the issue. Looks like, the topic has been the source of a lot of anger and judgment with limited outlets to express them.

Well, long story short, here is a rant from “anonymous” on the issue. If you want to rant on the topic,feel free to do so in the comments section.  With no further ado, here is “Anonymous”:

It’s not about Donald Sterling. It’s about us,Donald Sterling NBA Clippers Owner: You can't stop hate with hate as people driving the conversation with hate and anger in our hearts. Let’s realize as people, that when we do that, we are no different than him. 
As a community we have the responsibilities and we are accountable for ourselves and each other’s action. We must ask… What are we focused on!? Are we focused on the reteric or solutions. Are we more interested in the “news” story or are we more interested in making a difference?
How can we ask of Donald Sterling to be a loving caring human being and live life with the absence of judgment, if we judge him and drive the conversation with a negative rhetoric? It is very obvious that Donald Sterling has unacceptable views. But, let’s choose to realize that as a community, we have a choice to embrace each other with love, caring, and compassion versus the anti. Ultimately,
Love is what can bring people to the light and compassion will only create more compassion if you choose to give it away. If we want others to be loving, caring and compassionate, then we have to choose to be it ourselves first, and then give it away to others. 
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that – MLK”

U.S. Government Bloopers: Deporting American Citizens

Deporting American Citizens

I’m starting a new series; Government Bloopers.  Starting with this post, it’s noteworthy to mention all the stupid things our government does, we pay for with our taxes and instead of fixing the problem, the government will come back to us later, asking to bail them out (i.e. higher taxes).

Welcome to the first installment.  Today we are going to focus on the American immigration process that is so flawed, that we are deporting American nationals instead of illegal aliens and criminals!  In a rush to deport as many illegal aliens as possible, we have been throwing a few legal ones into the mix as well. Turns out that between 2006 and 2008, of the over 1 million people that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deported, well over 1% of those, were actually American Citizens. As part of the process, they are detained in ICE prisons for months or years, bullied and interviewed by agents, then they are brought before an immigration judge that decides their fate. And this continues to this day.

Yes, you read right, we are deporting American citizens, mostly to Mexico. No, this is not a Saturday Night skit. If that doesn’t make you laugh, I assume few things will.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard of this story during my  morning commute to work, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It is ridiculous.

Picture this; A Veteran U.S. Marine with a tattoo of the eagle, anchor, and globe on his chest, was deported to Mexico not once, but twice. He is a fourth generation American. Or meet Andres Robles, 22, who is celebrating yet another birthday in Mexico after being deported, doesn’t know a soul and doesn’t speak Spanish. In July of this year, Christoper Z. who was riding his bike home and randomly approached by ICE agents who demanded verification of his status. He didn’t have ID on him and was detained.

Why does this happen? Well, a lot of it (and the formal excuse) is due to confusion. The Government is in a hurry to deport as many illegal aliens as possible and in the process, may not be doing proper fact checking, but relying on assumption. The Huffington Post pointed out that it’s partially due to incorrect status information given to US citizen parents, mostly of Mexican ancestry.  For example, instead of giving their children instant citizenship, as their legal right calls for, they were given Green Cards mistakenly. Paperwork may not have been filed correctly in the later process, or ICE agents just do not check whether their information is correct. As part of the process, detainees are interviewed, but even when they call out their legal status, it is simply ignored. Detainees have at times sworn under oath their citizenship status, but were still deported.

Is there some discrimination  involved on the part of the ICE? Most likely. During interviews with ICE agents, detainees of Mexican decent are labeled “brown skin”.  Most of the deportation process focuses on those of Latin American decent. There is evidence of ICE agents bullying detainees, and many do not speak up out of fear.

In the case of Andres Robles, attorneys are attempting to get his paperwork through to ICE but bureaucracy is preventing them from receiving the proper approvals and checks to get him back.

Now, the Veteran made it back to the U.S. finally. But the government did not apologize or pay him reparations for disrupting his life.

I don’t have a solution to this, but I can recommend the obvious: Fact checking! Deportation is a big deal. You are violating people’s civil rights, not to mention their lives. Job loss, financial losses, disruption of livelihood etc. Thousands of Americans are being deported wrongfully every year, and the government is not paying for reparations for any of their errors.

Where are the checks and balances and why is the government exempt from being reprimanded?

1000 Prisoners for 1 Captured Soldier

The Underlining Message of A Country’s Mission to Regain a Citizen

Gilad Shilat Release

There is plenty of buzz today, on Facebook, the news and other social media outlets of a brokered agreement between Hamas and the Israeli government to release the 5 year held captive Gilad Shalit.  Gilad Shalit was captured 5 years ago by Hamas fighters, during a cross border raid.

International humanitarian organizations have since been trying to access the kidnapped soldier to assess his conditions, at no avail. At the risk of his location being compromised, Hamas has not allowed any organizations (including the International Red Cross) access to him.  The only contact he has had to the outside world, was a recorded DVD of him released by Hamas, in exchange for 20 released Palestinian Prisoners by Israel.

CNN reports on October 11, 2011, that Israel has agreed to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including 280 with life sentences, others with long prison sentences for involvement in terrorist attacks, in return for the kidnapped and assumed alive, Israeli soldier. This is definitely a difficult deal that has involved a lot of sacrifice.

For some perspective, here is some information on 2 of the prisoners set to be released: The 1,000 Palestinian prisoner swap includes a woman named Amna Muna. She is serving a life sentence for starting an online love affair with a young Israeli boy, then lured him in the middle of the night to the West Bank where Palestinian militants were waiting for him. He was murdered.  Consider another female prisoner set to be released, Ahlam Tamumi.  She drove the suicide bomber to his targeted location in 2001; the Sbarro Pizzaria in Jersualem.  The scene of one of the most gruesome sites to date, a story that shocked people around the world. She was later captured and convicted of murder with several life sentences.  Both of these women are on the release list for Gilad Shalit.

According to Haaretz, other prisoners include:

“Other prisoners being released include the perpetrator of the Bus 405 Tel Aviv-Jerusalem attack in 1989, the terrorist who killed 10 Israelis in Wadi Harmiyeh north of Ramallah in 2002, the terrorist who brought the suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and several perpetrators of the lynch in Ramallah in October 2000.”

Regardless of your stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is hard to deny that the exchange, by its mere numbers is not a fair one, but one with a clear message: Israel values her soldiers, her citizens.

Sit back and think about this–1 young soldier in exchange for 1,000 convicted criminals, some with life sentences for murder.  What message does this send to the world? The fact is, that one nation has moved heaven and hell to secure a healthy return of one of their citizens. Does the world recognize the immense sacrifice that a small nation is doing for the safety of one citizen? Probably not. But it’s not a surprise that usually the good, make grand sacrifices without any appreciation for their deed. Gilad’s father will remember the sacrifice his nation made for the release of his son. And so will others who are watching this unfold across the globe.

1000 lives for 1 young man. Grasp the sacrifice. Do the math. See the message.

Could Rising Frustration With Unemployment Lead to Riots?

Mayor Bloomberg needs a reality check

Mayor Bloomberg

Here I am on a random night reading up on the state of the economy and I come across this article titled “Bloomberg Warns High US Unemployment Could Lead to Riots” by Mary Bruce. Clearly I’m intrigued.  That is, until I read the article.

Mayor Bloomberg is suggesting with the growing number of individuals graduating college without job prospects, the US will face riots due frustration which will lead to a similar situation as Egypt and Madrid.

That’s where I stopped and just burst out laughing.  Is the mayor of New York city truly suggesting that people in this country will overthrow the government due to 7-10% unemployment? And is he honestly comparing us to countries with a 40% poverty level, serious lack of any humanitarian standards, extreme corruption, and most importantly arguable one of the more violent dictatorships?

In countries like Egypt, decades of corruption, extreme poverty, lack of governmental responsibility and care taking of the needs of the people has lead to explosive situations. Especially while government leaders were living excessively luxurious lifestyle in the face of the people’s extremely desperate situations.  According to the Economist, Egypt’s youth holds a 25% unemployment rate with no hope for improvement in the near future.  Basic needs such as food, shelter and water are not met in many areas of Egypt.  Add to that lawlessness and hopelessness with a high activity rate of religious militant groups fueling the fire, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Protests and national revolts do not start over night. They erupt after decades of frustration, which is then triggered by one situation.  Since the start of the most recent recession (2008ish), we have experienced high numbers of lay offs (which affected yours truly as well), gas prices increasing as high as $5 a gallon, rising milk and rice prices, record braking foreclosure and homeless rates, unemployment hitting as high as 12% in some states and with almost no improvement in the economy since.  Still, there is no civil unrest but rather a focus on moving forward and trying to find a way to survive.

We are not a nation of lawlessness.  Lawlessness can lead to unrest, but as long as a civil order is kept in place by the authorities with a minimal level of satisfaction (basic needs are met), the chances of riots are minimal.

Mr. Bloomberg should be well aware of that.

Although minor violent breakouts could erupt, with growing hopelessness and the governments lack of urgency on job creation, I think we are a far cry away from a national revolution. Additionally, Mayor Bloomberg, please find a more suitable comparison.

This is truly funny or worrisome because comparisons like that are irresponsible. I think Mayor Bloomberg needs a vacation.

Egypt’s Misguided Revolution-A new haven for radical Islamic fundamentalism?

The West’s misinterpretated Egyptians strive for fundamentalism, as a desire for democracy.

There were those of us that watched the Egyptian people protests in Tahrir square wishing for more rights, a new government and most importantly, for change, who are now experiencing a rude awakening. Well, not everyone. I am not surprised one bit.

In the midst of the protests, the violence I was surprised that the Western media ignored the Egyptian people’s history of supporting extremism, hate and intolerance towards their neighbors and their own people, to embrace a western dream of democracy, freedom and tolerance.

The rude awakening hit the west, the media and many of cheering bystanders across the world when the Israeli embassy in Cairo was under vicious attack on Friday September 10.  Protesters stormed the building violently, threatening the lives of those still on the inside.  In our home, scary images of the American hostage crisis in Tehran came to mind. Remembering the ordeal of negotiating the freedom of those innocent hostages, brings shivers to the minds of many. Prime Minister Netanyahu (Israel) tried repeatedly contacting Egyptian officials, and after six hours, yes six whole hours of constant calling, he was able to appeal to the Egyptians which led to the rescue effort. (On a side note, Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv by the Egyptian embassy and held a “love protest” to end war and hate. See pictures taken by a by stander by clicking here)

Yes this is only an example of many other brewing issues.  Growing fear of the Christian minority for their life in Egypt has led to their voice being chocked out of the this new government, leading the path to a similar situation that the Christian minority in Lebanon faces. Ironically, it is that minority, that seeks a more modern society.

The attack on the embassy adds to the growing fear that Egypt’s new government is going to be hijacked by Islamic fundamentalist, adding Egypt to the ring of terrorist harboring areas in the Middle East- Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.  The United States and the world at large, cannot afford to lose another country to islamic fundamentalist that will produce a new safe haven for terrorist activities that will threaten the world order. It is in the interest of the United States and Europe, to ensure that Egypt’s new government will fulfill the requirements of a new sovereign nation with civil rights for all its residents, and enforces humanitarian codes.

Realistically it will take decades to realize a new society. It took the west centuries to reach it’s state today–we can accelerate this process for Egypt with strong involvement and monitoring in exchange for financial aid (which they are already receiving). All I’m saying is, that we need to monitor the funds that are being provided to this new and extremely volatile nation, to ensure we protect our investments.

Read more about the attack on MSNBC.

Political Discussions Are A Thing of The Past-Personal Attacks Are the New Norm

Ron Paul supporters gone madPolitical Discussions Are A Thing Of The Past-Personal Attacks Are The New Trend

As I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed this week, I saw that one of my friends had posted a promo for Ron Paul.  Foolishly,  I posted a comment, questioning his support for a man that I find “scary”. He further asked the reason for my skepticism, and I offered him the easiest point, one that wouldn’t require me to really delve into the candidates political stance too much; His KKK news publications in the 90s.

Oh boy, did I light a forest fire with that one. My friend, who we will call Oliver, asked me for references, so I offered him a famous CNN interview and researched spot. He brought in his friend, who it seems it the one who got him into this, who started personally attacking me and stereotyping my potential views. By the time his friend, “Ben” was done attacking me, he had written a whole picture about who I possible am, my ethnic and religious background and based on those assumptions, what my political views are. At the end of his rant, “Ben” links his girlfriend into the conversation. These two, work on some sort of a Ron Paul publicity campaign it seemed.

At this point, I get angry and start giving the two of them, article after article, from major news sources on how Ron Paul’s voting record does not match his campaign promises among other things. All I got in return was, more personal attacks.

And this is where my dilemma starts.  During the 1998 Presidential election, I remember you would be reprimanded if you spoke up against President Obama, a new, previously unheard of candidate at the time.  In California, people were afraid to open their mouths, and say anything remotely negative, because chances were, you would be labeled as a racist, receive dirty looks, or random people would stop to give you a piece of their mind. No, it would not be nice.

Whatever happened to holding a civil discussion about the pros and cons of an issue. People have thrown out the rules and etiquette of proper discussion in exchange for bullying people into a corner and forcing them to follow their beliefs. This country was founded and thrives on freedom of beliefs, opinions and speech. Once we start limiting people on their free speech and right to their opinion, are we not going backward towards the 1940s?

I said my piece on “Oliver’s” Facebook page and stopped commenting. In the end, no matter how negative I think Ron Paul is for this country, I will never change his mind or his friends’ mind. I tried to offer them facts, and all I got was personal attacks on my character and manipulated information and well, there was no point to continue.

Believe me, I have better things to do with my time. Like reading up on actual candidates that have a chance to win the next election.