Echoes of warnings: so it begins

Wasn’t it just yesterday kids walked out all over the country to protest gun violence and demand reasonable gun control actions… which do not involve putting more guns in schools and arming teachers? Yeah, I am sure it was. My own son wrote a brief piece regarding exactly that and his concerns with arming teachers with loaded weapons because he simply doesn’t blindly trust every teacher out there.

Well, now I stumbled across this Washington Post article from yesterday evening. It appears that Tuesday, March 13, just one day before students walked out, a teacher, Dennis Alexander, at Seaside High School in Monterey California “accidentally” discharged a weapon in a classroom, injuring a seventeen year old student. Despite the fact the teacher is a reserve police officer and has had firearm training,  he saw fit to exhibit extremely poor judgment by first bringing an unauthorized firearm to class, second by not visually inspecting the firearm to ensure it was not loaded, then by discharging the firearm intentionally in the ceiling when he said he thought it was unloaded. Debris fell on the student and a bullet fragment lodged in his neck. The teacher further demonstrated poor judgment by not dismissing the injured student to be seen by medical staff, dismissing the class or even reporting the incident. The parents had to call the police to initiate an investigation and, after school, take their son to the emergency room for treatment where the bullet fragment was removed from his neck. The school did not notify the parents.

So, not only did this teacher exhibit poor judgment, but the entire school did as well. They did not notify the police nor the parents of the children affected. Reports indicate two additional students had minor injuries from falling debris.

In an echo of my warning from yesterday, trusting a teacher to teach is one thing, trusting a teacher with a loaded gun in a classroom is completely different. Who knows what was in his head that he thought this was appropriate behavior? Using a loaded gun as a prop in a safety class shows no trace of responsibility. If he just had to use a real gun, why not make sure it was unloaded before he brought it to school? Why not use a perfectly and always safe toy gun?

This is Exhibit 1 in why arming teachers is a bad idea. This accident could have been far more tragic. Thankfully it wasn’t, but we need to learn from it quickly. This was in the hands of someone who was trained, more training than teachers would likely receive. Introducing more guns into classrooms is just stupid. It endangers our students because we cannot regulate stupidity. We cannot regulate poor decisions and irresponsibility to the scale of every classroom in the United States.  We cannot trust every school and school district to act responsibly.

So, can we please just return to reality and have a reasonable discussion about responsible gun control measures and stop placating to the NRA wet dreams of the Old West?

Stay safe.

Resist.

#Neveragain

We are One Woman, One World.

related articles/sources:

http://www.ktvu.com/news/seaside-teacher-mayor-pro-tem-fires-gun-inside-high-school-classroom-injuring-student

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/03/14/teacher-accidentally-discharges-firearm-in-calif-classroom-he-was-trained-in-gun-use/?utm_term=.6eb3ec21bbff&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/us/teacher-gun-accidental-discharge.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/14/us/california-teacher-fires-gun/index.html

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/blogs/news_blog/seaside-teacher-councilman-and-reserve-officer-accidentally-discharges-weapon-in/article_d3ca5ecc-270c-11e8-9f64-6fe4cb6cbeb3.html

 

Through the eyes of children

Today, in honor of students using their civil rights to promote change in our society, I have asked someone special to me to be a guest blogger, Woodrow White. He is a fourteen year old eighth grader with some thoughts on the prospects of arming teachers in the classrooms, from his perspective.

 

     Hello, my name is William Woodrow White, I am fourteen years of age and I am in Eighth Grade. I do not believe we should be arming teachers with weapons to counter school gun violence. This is because the students won’t know who this teacher is, how stable the teacher is, what is going on in their private life, and more. For example, if a teacher is unstable or having a pretty bad life, depressed, they could pull that very same gun on the students they are supposed to protect. Then there is the situation of a student quite literally taking the gun from the teacher. Of course, if teachers were to be given guns, then they would most likely have a safe with a lock, so the gun being taken from the teacher is unlikely. Still though, the possibility remains. I also believe AR-15’s, or any assault style rifles, should be banned, or at least have smaller magazines, and make bump stock modifications illegal. Gun violence is a problem in the United States and it must be dealt with.

For full disclosure, this is my son. I presented him with opportunity to make this contribution and I did not interfere with nor influence what he wanted to say. I did not edit his content. It is brief and to the point, but I found something sincerely disturbing and a point of view I had not really considered. What does arming teachers look like from the perspective of a student?

It is a funny thing that we just expect students to trust blindly. It is a painful realization that at fourteen my son is aware of the fallacies of blind trust for those in positions of power. He would feel unsafe in an atmosphere arming teachers like police officers. He sees the potential for that scenario to play out with tragic results.

I know the first impulse is to defend teachers, but his argument is not without merit. It does not take much sweeping through the news to find teachers who have abused their authority, endangered or even assaulted students. But aside from the few bad apples, it is two entirely different things: trusting a teacher to do his or her job and educate your child versus trusting a person with a loaded gun in your child’s classroom without a parent present. Those are two wholly different kinds of trust. My son’s paragraph highlights this from the perspective of the child.

Through the eyes of children we see the world anew.  Instead of degrading students for their activism, perhaps we should take a moment to look through their eyes and reflect upon what they see. It can be a profound experience.

Be safe.

Resist.

#Neveragain

We are One Woman, One World.

 

More ways to become active 

https://everytown.org/throwthemout/?source=etno_ETActPage&utm_source=et_n_&utm_medium=_o&utm_campaign=ETActPage

https://communityjusticerc.org/resources

https://secure.kamalaharris.org/page/s/national-walkout-day?source=em180314h

 

photo credit: Madison365

Take a better look…

This won’t be a long blog. It’s premise is to pose a question to those who seem to believe arming our educators is the best policy to remedy the violence we are seeing in our nation. I ask you, for just one moment, to take yourself outside of being an American. Step away from your pride, your nationalism, your self-assured superiority. Cast all your notions of allegiance and patriotism aside. Not forever, just for a moment, and look at this problem as if through a window into someone else’s life. Don’t place any consideration into your beliefs of guns or rights or anything. Just take a look at the solution proposed:

Equipping teachers with firearms in classrooms all over our country.

Think about that and what that actually means.

I’m not talking about  in relation to the ridiculous responsibility that teachers already are swamped under without adding this; not even that you think it could help stop these horrific crimes. No, think about what that means in reflection of who we are as a nation and as a people. Consider what state of unequivocal lawlessness we must achieve that placing guns in classrooms to ensure safety seems, somehow, reasonable.

This, even just considering it, shows a civilization in sharp decline, where our laws and methods are being abandoned in favor of mob mentality and vigilante justice.

We cannot be a free nation, or even a first world nation if we cannot even manage sending our children to school without teachers being armed. We are devolving rapidly. That is what this really means. It shows not only a massive loss of faith in all our systems, but an abandonment to all we have worked to achieve and every progress we have made as a civilization. While I agree our systems are not perfect and they all need drastic improvement to ensure that the true visions of equality and justice are served, this ideology makes no progress towards such ends. We do not fix our law enforcement system by simply throwing it away. We change it and improve it.

But what I see is a huge portion of the GOP and their supporters and the NRA would rather intentionally turn our schools into the worst visions of the Wild West than accept the fact that we need some basic, common sense, gun control laws. Laws do work. It is why we make them. Does a law stop all crime? No. But it does help prevent making it easy for criminals and thereby reduces crime.

Is this how we want to live? Is this who we want to be? Do we want to be a nation so afraid and so lawless that we send children to school under armed guards? Think about that. Do we want a loaded gun in a classroom of angry kids? Or in the hands of an angry teacher?  Do we want guns that accessible for rash decisions made in anger or hostility? Do we want to project to the world that we are so unsafe we arm our teachers to protect, and against, our own children?

So, look through the window. See us without political, social or patriotic prejudices. At what state of degradation and collapse of a society does this occur? What are we turning ourselves into?

Just think about it.

We are One Woman, One World.

Stay safe.

Resist.

Be heard.

Never again.

 

Hey GOP: F%CK your Thoughts and Prayers. We need actions

Once again we are a nation staring into a trauma of our own making. The actions of a teenage boy left a wake of tragedy we cannot easily recover from. Seventeen lives gone, for no reason. Five in critical, life threatening condition and nine others injured in yet ANOTHER mass shooting. And the best the GOP has to offer is “Thoughts and prayers.” Well, Fuck you. Yes, I said it. I mean it. In fact, that can’t even capture the extent of my disgust and contempt. Don’t tell me it is too soon. Don’t tell me more guns will fix this problem. Not a single one of these people should have died. None. There is no excuse. We will not tolerate another excuse and your thoughts and prayers are completely worthless, meaningless. In fact, they are worse, they are contributing to this epidemic of violent death.

What do you think you are going to do? Pray the tragedy away? Do you think if you pray enough then suddenly gun violence will end? Do you think anyone gives a shit about your prayers when you refuse to take any action, I mean get off your ass and do ANYTHING to help stop this from happening over and over again? You might complain about our nation being more godless all the time, but take a look in the mirror: You are the reason why. This did not happen for some greater plan by a scary sky god. This happened because you and your buddies at the NRA worship guns, and you think your so-called right to own a semiautomatic weapon is more important than countless children’s lives. Oh, but they aren’t really countless, now are they? They are each real. They were each living, thriving, they loved and dreamed of futures that were stolen. You stole them just as certainly as the criminal who pulled the trigger. You stole those lives because silence is complicity. Because you stood by and let it happen. Because you have the power to change this and refuse.

I blame the GOP for standing in the way of every reasonable gun control measure and for relaxing gun control laws in existence. We are tired of being sad, broken-hearted and mourning. Now I’m just angry, beyond words, beyond anything I can describe.

And for every single one of you abominations in office who voted against reasonable gun controls, I am going to make sure your face and your name are directly associated with every single one of these deaths. Their blood is on your hands. We have signed petitions, submitted legislation, pleaded, begged, demanded, marched, but you scorned us. You even said it is the price we pay for our freedom. Whose? Yours? It certainly wasn’t the freedom of those who have been slaughtered en mass.

No, so many of us have been pushing for firearm reform for years. This isn’t our fault. This is on you, not us. We have been trying to save these lives, but you don’t. You won’t. Now tell me, exactly what is your quota before it is too much? If you are intent to bathe in the blood of children, exactly how many does it take to fill up your bath? You were not elected to hand out thoughts and prayers. You were elected to take action and pass laws to protect our citizens and our interests. You aren’t just failing. You are derelict and wholly corrupt, filling your pockets with NRA money. Hell, Trump wanted to end gun-free zones altogether, including schools. And if you have forgotten, feel free to Google it. Check out his campaign starting in January of 2016, and reiterated for months afterwards.

Right now is the time to address this. Today. Immediately. To say we need to wait is just a complete bullshit response because you don’t want to do anything at all. You never want to do anything that actually protects our children and our families.

And here is a list of the Senators and Representatives who have taken the most money from the NRA in direct contributions which are reported:

Sen. John McCain (R-AR) $7,740,521

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) $6,986,620

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) $4,551,146

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) $4,418,012

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) $3,879,064

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FLA) $3,303,355

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) $3,124,273

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) $3,061,941

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) $2,896,732

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) $2,861,047

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) $1,089,477

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) $800,544

Rep. David Young (R-IA) $707,662

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) $385,731

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) $344,630

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) $245,720

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) $221,736

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) $201,398

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) $158,111

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) $137,232

And how about some faces to go with those numbers:

Funny how this Top 20 list is all Republican, huh? You see those numbers, that is what they sold off the lives of children for, that was the price to ensure complicity in the 239 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012. Five of the deadliest of those occurring in the past five months. They have been offering thoughts and prayers since 2012 without taking any kind of action to help prevent these mass shootings.

Lock your head around this: There have been eighteen – yes 18- school shootings in the US so far this year. Not in the past year. No. In 2018 alone. And it is barely the middle of February. These lives have been sold for $47,114,952. And get this other little gem of information: since 1968 more people have died in the United States from gun violence than have died in every war and military conflict ever fought in our nation’s history. In fact, we surpassed that number in 2011.

Gun violence is a national epidemic and the GOP would rather toss out some thoughts and prayers than discuss and enact measures to address the problem. Kinda like you should just pray that flu away instead of inoculate yourself, or maybe at least wash your hands every once in a while. Except guns are killing a lot more people than the flu.  The AR 15 purchased by the confessed assailant in the school shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day had a history of mental illness and had purchased the firearm completely legally. Yes, at nineteen year’s old. This is a trend in mass shootings. AR 15’s have become the weapon of choice: a weapon that has no other purpose than, and was designed for, mass shooting.

We need change now. It must be addressed now. No more thoughts and prayers that are meaningless and only offered to show a false sorrow while actually doing nothing. You cannot bring these children back, but you sure as hell could have made it much more difficult for them to die. But you didn’t. You took NRA money instead. You could stop the next shooting, though, couldn’t you? But will you?

I received an email from Gavin Newsom which summed it up well:

“…

Our children are dying, and we are doing nothing to stop it. There is precious little left that we can say beyond that – but you and I both know we’re far past the point of words being enough. 

To the people whose only offering right now is thoughts and prayers: Prayers don’t barricade doors. Thoughts don’t prevent a would-be killer from buying a machine designed to kill. Tweets of empty condolences won’t stop the next tragedy. If you can’t offer anything better – if you refuse to step up, stand up to the gun lobby, and work for real reform – find the door. Get out of office. 

Resist. Fight these degenerates in office to save our children, friends and families. Our lives are not for sale so gun manufacturers can make bigger profits. Stop being used by them. We will not be willing sacrifices to the gun god.

We are One Woman, One World.

Get Involved:

https://my.democrats.org/page/s/gun-violence?utm_medium=email&utm_source=dnc&utm_content=1+-+Add+your+name+to+tell+Congress+its+past+&utm_campaign=em_20180215_tp_s2&source=em_20180215_tp_s2

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/parkland?t=2&akid=27300%2E13123787%2ECwOAEG

https://go.ourrevolution.com/page/s/commonsense-gun-reform?source=em180215-ba

sources/credits:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/one-mass-shooting-every-day-seven-facts-gun-violence-america/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/15/us/school-shootings-sandy-hook-parkland.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5581283/school-shootings-us-america-2018-florida-parkland-how-many/

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/14/1741437/-A-reminder-of-the-NRA-s-top-ten-funded-elected-officials-in-both-the-House-and-the-Senate?detail=emaildkre

http://www.latimes.com/newsletters/la-me-todays-headlines-20180215-story.html?utm_source=Today%27s+Headlines&utm_campaign=22d1845ef2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_12_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b04355194f-22d1845ef2-81194713

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/02/15/florida-school-shooting-suspect-booked-on-17-counts-of-murder-premeditated/?undefined=&utm_term=.07907ee0e332&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

 

 

Ann Lavendar Truong

Is “compromise” really a dirty word? Since when?

Okay, I’ve been working on several articles to get out to you all, and I apologize for the delay while I prep, fact check and otherwise try to squeeze blog writing time into a cramped schedule. Believe me, I have neither lost focus nor retired my brain to complacency in a feeling of abject disappointment with humanity. I’m still fighting, just as I keep asking you to do, I promise!

While I know the world feels surreal and in a state of free fall from common decency, we must guard ourselves from becoming the polar opposites of our rivals. What does that mean? Don’t we want to be the polar opposite of a bunch of racist, hypocritical, misogynistic bigots? Well, yes and no. We want to stand up for equality and human rights, yes, but we do not want to be the flip side of an extremist coin. We do not want to take an “our way or no way” mentality and apply it to government process. That really doesn’t work. It also only strengthens the resolve of the other side. In other words, our country should not be split between Left Twix and Right Twix. We are in control of this. We have the opportunity to bring civil discord, to change the frenzied state of our nation to one of critical thought and reason. And how do we do this? How do we become the party of reason and responsibility? Well, by BEING reasonable and responsible.

Somehow, the word ‘compromise‘ has become ugly, as though it diminishes a person’s integrity to compromise on anything. I see the populace up in arms at every turn when their representatives agree to any compromises, big or small. It is ridiculous. Guess what, that is exactly how government works and how change is accomplished. Further, when someone is seen as capable of reasonable compromise to find solutions, they carry far more weight when there is an issue they refuse to compromise on. Political compromise is not only an asset but a necessity. If the left are seen as willing to work within a realm of reasonable compromise, it exposes the extremists they are up against, who refuse any compromise at all. We can show passion without extremist orientation. We want change, no doubt, but we also know the wheels of change move more slowly than our desire for it. If it were simple, it would have already happened.

For instance, yes, everyone should have healthcare and Medicare for All is the simplest solution, since it is an existing system that works. However, if we are pragmatic, we realize it isn’t a switch we can just flip. One sixth of our economy is entrenched in healthcare and related entities such as insurance. Simply shutting that down to move to a single payor system instantly would devastate our economy and cause severe repercussions and it would take decades to recover. But does that mean the move to single payor is impossible? No. What it means is that we need people who can see a long-term objective and work towards it through a series of compromises and adjustments, capable of traversing politics like a maze to achieve an ultimate goal.

Think about this: at the onset of our nation, the only people with full rights and freedoms were white, male landowners. If you did not fit this profile you could neither vote nor be elected to office. Some white men could aspire to more than their birth by making money and becoming a landowner, but women and minority groups could not overcome their existence. They could better their situation, in some circumstances, but could never have true freedom. Even today we are still fighting for freedom that extends beyond the paper on which it is written and into the beating heart of reality.

Where we can make small concessions to help move society forward, in exchange for opposition concessions, we may move slowly, but we progress. It keeps us rational and focused, therefore, when it is time to refuse concession, when something tests our values, as we have found all too often with the current administration, we can stand firm, and that stance holds more meaning.

Take a look at the recent government shut down. Democrats are being heavily criticized for agreeing to end the shut down without legislation for DREAMers. Now, legislation for DREAMers is extremely important, but at the same time, a lot of people’s lives were disrupted by the shut down, many employees stood to lose compensation they need, and not the kinds of government employees who are already wealthy, but hard-working, middle class, paycheck to paycheck people. Now, if the shutdown was based on the actual issues of funding the government, temporarily or permanently, then continuing it would be justified. However, we need to move our government away from quid pro quo politics on unrelated matters. Democrats did not “cave” as many left-leaning critics have claimed. They moved in the best interest of the people. Any DREAMer Act needs to be a part of immigration legislation, as that is exactly what it involves: immigration laws. Holding the lives of innocent people hostage to get what you want is neither good policy nor the moral high ground. It creates more of a negative impact than any positive contribution. We do not want to be the extremist Left, throwing temper tantrums and fits trying to get our way. We want to project a solid, steady core and an ability to set aside personal arguments to work in the best interest of our nation.

In the end, what I want to convey is not a message that we should compromise our values, but that we should not overly criticize compromise which helps lead us to a better place, even if a bit more slowly than we’d like. We must embrace the art of negotiation where ideas differ and be prepared to embrace policies that help our country, no matter where they originate.

So, yes, protest. Yes, demand meaningful DREAMer legislation. Yes, stand against poor policies which take our country backwards. Yes, insist upon equality and better stewardship of our planet. Yes, fight for universal healthcare and safety nets for the elderly, sick and poor. Yes, yes, yes. Do not stop letting your voice be heard. We absolutely must fight against the racist oligarchy in order to move our nation into the next generation of responsible prosperity. Just don’t forget that in reality many of those changes come slow, built upon the compromises of those we elect. Vote at every opportunity to install representatives who will work diligently towards these goals. Compromise is not failure.

Continue to fight and resist and make your voice heard and, most of all, stay positive. We get nowhere fighting amongst ourselves.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!

AnnLavendar.com     LeeLooPub.com   Author Mishka Williams BrickWilson.com    UtimateGalacticUniverse.com

Net Neutrality: What it means to you.

Yes, I apologize, I’ve been quiet a while due to other obligations which could not be postponed. But I’m back and I have a lot of catching up to do! While there are SO MANY topics I want to cover, the most pressing today is Net Neutrality. It is has been a largely bipartisan position, until the recent descent into political hell, and the vast majority of citizens, from all political parties, support it. Why should you?

Well, some of us remember before Net Neutrality. The early days of the internet were one thing, when speed was limited to phone lines and everyone had an AOL email address. Oh yeah, it sucked. Speeds picked up, computers got faster, broadband became the norm and people began really utilizing the opportunities the internet offered. People began shopping, though still a bit awkward. E-commerce was born. Now the opponents of Net Neutrality want you to believe that it stifles innovation, but under Net Neutrality, we have seen the real explosion of innovation and connection of the internet to our every day lives. Net Neutrality made streaming of movies and television possible, not only to your home systems, but to tablets, computers and phones. You never need to miss a big game because you have to be away from home and you have an endless supply of movies to entertain your kids on car trips or at the Dentist’s office. You can stream online games on your phone. You have instant connection to anyone, anywhere through mobile technology. You can check prices, order your groceries for pick up or delivery. You can open or close your garage, lock or unlock your door, turn your lights on and off from anywhere.

Just yesterday I answered my front door and politely told a salesman I was not interested, from the grocery store. He had no idea if I was home or not. You want innovation? How’s this? I have a crock pot that connects to my WiFi which I can remotely access with my phone and turn it on or off, or change the settings.

What else has Net Neutrality opened up? Well, I can access any web pages I want. I am not restricted by my provider. This was not always the case before. In the small print of the two-year contract you had to sign, they had the right to restrict access to some sites at their discretion. And they did. Today that is not legal,  which benefits the consumer. You can comparison shop, even other internet providers. They cannot block services like Netflix or Hulu in favor of their own streaming services, or charge you an extra fee, to them, to access those services. When Net Neutrality is gone, then they can treat internet access like they do cable access, and sell you packages which are not limited to speed, but ACCESS. So, you know how a basic cable package gives you a short list of channels you can access, but if you want Disney, ESPN or even FOX News (to each their own)  then you have to upgrade your package. That is how the big internet companies want to sell you internet, because they could make a ton of money off of it.

Think about it. If you have Alexa or Google Home, consider all the apps you are running through your internet. Right now, the service provider isn’t getting a piece of that action. And they shouldn’t be. You are paying for internet and internet speed, how you use that should be up to you, not them. They want to be able to siphon off all of these applications that we use every day. Wonder why Amazon and Etsy are fighting to keep Net Neutrality? Because without it, these companies could be forced to make deals with service providers, giving them a fee or a cut of profits, just to be accessible on their service to consumers. Yeah, you read that right

In essence, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) could charge these companies to be on their ‘network’ and then also charge their customers to access those sites. Double payday for something you just have right now. They would be converting money from nothing, (and that money comes from you) holding our access hostage and extorting from businesses and the public. Now, if you are going to have to pay an extra fee to access your apps, that could start adding up really fast. Remember, this is something you do not have to pay extra for right now. But just think, a quarter, or a dime, or even a nickel extra a month for everything you access through your internet. It adds up quick, and many things would be a lot more than a nickel. It will make people think twice about how many devices they use, how much streaming they enjoy, how connected they want their home. They could charge you per device. (Which would make you not so wiling to give your cousin the wifi access for his phone while he’s at your house.) And when people have to start thinking twice because the cost suddenly went up, that does not help the market, it stifles it. It doesn’t lead to ingenuity, it leads to stagnation.

The only benefits for removing Net Neutrality are for the large ISPs. There is zero benefit to anyone else, least of all the smaller competition. It has the potential to undermine small businesses selling online, as the ISP may require, and without Net Neutrality will have to right to demand, fees or percentages of sales from small businesses. This would be in addition to whatever sales service or software they may utilize. It is common to pay a host for a shop you open on your website, in return you get all the shop programming which makes payments and such easy, helps you set it up to look nice and professional. It is just an annual or monthly fee. But the ISP could charge you as well, in addition, for providing you with no service at all that you do not have right now. They can extort money from businesses under the threat of blocking them from the users which access their network.

Preventing this practice is just one of the many reasons we enacted Net Neutrality to begin with. It is a consumer and business protection which has allowed for unparalleled growth in the industry. ISPs are making huge profits. They see an opportunity to make more. This move would hurt our economy.

There is another issue which is concerning as well. Free Speech. These ISPs would have the ability and authority to block any site, organization or even blog that they disagreed with politically, religiously or morally. They could cater your internet experience to see only the news, sites and streams which benefit their own agenda. That means, if a large ISP wants a particular legislation passed to benefit them, they could ostensibly promote particular political views and repress opposition to help candidates who make back room deals with their lobbyists. That sounds fun and amazing, right? Of course, large corporations would NEVER shell out money or utilize their influence for political favors, right? Certainly, there are no politicians alive who would demean the integrity of their office to help out their donors, are there? So, sarcasm aside, control over the viewable content of the internet and its use by consumers, especially considering the vital role it plays in our society, by a small group of corporations is extremely dangerous to even our democracy.

So, what does Net Neutrality mean to you? Well, it saves you money. It gives you the freedom to surf the net however you like and use your access to the internet how you like, whether it is online gaming, shopping, checking out your security cameras, tossing your dog a treat while you are at work, streaming your favorite shows and movies or even turning on a crock pot. It allows you to do your banking and online bill pay with security and without an extra fee to access it. You can check all of your credit card accounts, pay your utility bills and do research for homework. You can chat, communicate and network with friends and colleges. You can video message Grandma so she can see how much the little one has grown, even when you live a thousand miles or more away. It ended long distance calling bills. You can share ideas and pictures and videos. Now how would you feel if you had to pay extra for every one of those things that you do right now without an extra fee?

The big business opponents to Net Neutrality, and the politicians they have bought, want you to believe that the rule of full disclosure is ample enough and suggests a free market without regulation will work. The problem with that is there are really only a few big companies which control the market, and they work in concert for their own, collective interest. With that much power over a billion customers, they tell the consumers what they can have. There is little competition and zero incentive to not make extra money if they can. They will squeeze everyone from every side to get every penny possible. The ‘competition’ between them will be small discounts and upgrades they offer for the same extortion packages where you pay extra for what you have right now.

I had the pleasure of contacting Rep Ken Calvert, a Republican representing the 42nd District in California. He is one of the sold-out, driving force politicians who cater to the wealthy elite. Why do I say that? Well, here is a quote from the congressman’s response to my query regarding revoking Net Neutrality. He wants to:

  • Reclassify broadband internet service as an information service and return to the light-touch regulations that were first established with bi-partisan support during the Clinton Administration. 

  • Reestablish the transparency rule from the 2010 Open Internet Order that requires internet providers to disclose to consumers any paid prioritization, throttling, and congestion management practices on their networks. 

Yes. He said that. First off, the Clinton era was the real birth of our modern information age.  The “light touch regulations” that he talks about were, in fact, the FIRST real regulations governing the internet. No one at that time could really foresee what regulations would be necessary to protect consumers and businesses, alike. Second, he conveniently reiterates exactly the point I made before, with the idea that a ‘transparency rule’ to disclose paid prioritization, throttling, etc., is sufficient to safeguard consumers. In case you are unclear what throttling is, it is exactly what it sounds like. And here is a definition to help you along:

throt·tle
ˈTHrädl/
verb
gerund or present participle: throttling
  1. 1.
    attack or kill (someone) by choking or strangling them.
    “she was sorely tempted to throttle him”
    synonyms: chokestranglestrangulategarrotegag More

  2. 2.
    control (an engine or vehicle) with a throttle.

Yeah. Nothing like the authority to throttle, just so long as they say they will be throttling somewhere in the super fine print you need a lawyer with a microscope to read and interpret for you. Exciting.

So, what does it mean when they want to throw away Net Neutrality, which has ushered in a fantastic, innovated age of information and potential? It means they want the power to throttle the internet. They want to allow their wealthy donors to choke, strangle, and gag the internet, holding it hostage unless you meet their demands. Sounds a lot like the Russian hackers who take control of businesses and demand a ransom to release it. Except for a few things, this ransom would be legalized, you never stop paying it and at least the Russian hackers have the decency to admit they are screwing you. They don’t try to pretend like they are doing you a favor. It doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, you should be righteously pissed.

The vote is tomorrow. Make your voice heard. Your voice could actually depend on it. Your way of life depends on it. Speak out. Your wallet will thank you.

We are One Woman, One World.

photo credit: Internet for All. 

 

We are all Jane Doe

For those of us biting our nails, worried about the impact this administration will have on women’s equality in the United States, and thus its influence to promote equality around the world, the legal battle playing out over a seventeen year old, unaccompanied immigrant seeking an abortion for a desperately unwanted pregnancy while in Federal custody has been nerve-racking. The young woman, known as Jane Doe because she is a minor, is currently being held in a relocation detention center in Texas while they seek a suitable sponsor for her. She came to the United States seeking refuge from abuse and had no idea she was pregnant until the medical examination at the detention center. In Texas, a minor must obtain a court order to undergo an abortion without a parent’s or guardian’s consent. She did this. A judge gave the legal order for her to be permitted to have the abortion. She also had the money to pay for it and a court appointed guardian to escort her to the procedure. But the Federal government stepped in and stepped on the constitution in the process… not just stepped on, but did a tap dance all over it.

More than merely obstructing the court order and denying Jane access to the procedure by saying she could not leave the facility for the abortion, they forced her to attend counseling at a religious, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. Let that sink in for a moment. They would not let her leave the premises to get a court ordered medical procedure, but they forced her to leave to attend religious counseling. Religious. As though the separation of Church and State were meaningless. They essentially denied her due process because when she used it, they refused to acknowledge it and made new rules to circumvent it. Then they shoved religious dogma, evidently State Supported Religious Dogma, down her throat. She then had to return to due process, winning again. But the clock was ticking and, all the while, she came ever closer to the twenty week cut off the state of Texas has for elective abortions.

Jane Doe did receive her completely legal abortion, much to the consternation of the Federal Government. The Justice Department, in a tizzy, has filed a petition to literally seek retribution against the ACLU attorneys representing Jane Doe for not informing them that she would be having the procedure done on October 25. First, to be perfectly clear, Doe’s procedure date was between her and her doctor. The State was aware of her appointment on that date, and only made aware because she would need to leave the facility and not out of any duty by her attorneys to make the Justice Department privy to her procedure schedule. The State made a miscalculation, believing she would need to wait at least another twenty-four hours for the abortion as Texas law requires she be counseled by the doctor no less than twenty-four hours before the procedure. But Jane Doe had already been previously counseled by the doctor performing the procedure and had no need to wait an additional day. The Justice Department complained that they should have been informed because they wanted to file another motion to attempt to delay or prevent the abortion. Think about that. They got mad because she did what she was completely and legally entitled to do and the government is angry because she and her lawyers did not voluntarily go out of their way to give the Justice Department even more opportunity to obstruct her. Now, after the fact, they want the Supreme Court of the United States to vacate the previous decision. Why? So it cannot be cited in future cases for women daring to exercise reproductive freedom.

Jane Doe is not the first young woman forced into this situation and the Trump administration and his Justice Department are hoping to intimidate and scare other attorneys from taking on these cases and, thus, fashion some sort of anti-choice victory from the ashes of their defeat. But this is just one battlefield of so many in a much larger war against women and religious freedom.

This is not just about reproductive freedom. It isn’t even just about women’s equality. It is also about religious freedom and the separation of church and state. It is all of these things and all of them are equally important because our freedoms are interlocked. Having reproductive rights is essential to the equality of women in our society. The separation of church and state prevents religious ideologies being reflected in our society as a matter of law and from any religion being given dominance over any other. The opposition to abortion and birth control is not based in science, but predominantly in religion. Religion has no place dictating any aspect of our government or laws or policies. Period.

To force this young girl to attend faith-based counseling is outright against our constitution. Before you get high in arms, suggesting she has no “constitutional rights” or shouldn’t because she is not a citizen, guess again. The constitution outlines, in this case, the behavior of our government and the constraints it must operate within, without regard to the citizenship of any individual. In other words, the government cannot advocate any religion, period, to anyone, anywhere. Demanding faith-based counseling, or in fact, any counseling which is not directed by the attending physician nor based in medicine and is not at the full and willing consent of the patient, is a violation of human rights and an attempt to impose ideologies that are not within the scope of the law. That is bad, people. Really bad. If you are an anti-choice proponent, then you may be all for it right now, because it helps you get your way, but what happens when the exact same method is used for something you do not agree with? What if women had to get counseling before they could cut their hair? Or enter the workforce? What if you had to pass a government religious test to be a single parent? There are many who believe a single, unmarried mother is an abomination and not being married is child abuse. Would you want those people dictating laws and policies?

That is the real problem with letting religion interfere with government, in any way. Religions are different. Even the same religions have hundreds of separate groups who all believe their religion should be managed differently. They all believe they are right. Most believe only they are right. Take a look at the Illinois HB6064 which was proposed in February of 2016 by the GOP controlled House. It specifically sought to exclude single mothers who either could not or would not (for whatever reason) provide the father’s name for a new-born baby from receiving a birth certificate with the intent on preventing them from ever qualifying to receive financial aid for that child from the government. While they claimed this was about preventing the government picking up the tab for children with able-bodied fathers who should be helping support their child, it certainly did nothing to harm the fathers. It targeted the mothers and the “illegitimate” child. The end result was establishing that if a child doesn’t know his or her father, then they are worthless and do not deserve things like lunches at school, healthcare, a roof over their heads or food to eat. Thankfully, due to public outcry, this bill was tabled the following April 5th. This ideology of illegitimate children having a lower social standing in our society is based heavily in religious dogma which believes sex outside of marriage is sinful and any product or offspring of such a coupling is conceived in sin.

You can also take a look at the various forms Trumpcare has taken in the GOP eagerness to throw tens of millions of people out of reach of quality healthcare. There have been too many special restrictions which are based in religion, such as making it possible for employers to restrict coverage of birth control or other reproductive services for women. There was even, at one point, a measure to allow insurance companies to deny maternity coverage if the mother was unmarried. Seriously. How is this not based on a religious idea of morality? Outside of religious dogma, people are more concerned with the health and safety of a child than they are the marital status of that child’s parents.

Now, take a look at the new attempt to circumvent abortion in the US House of Representatives: A six-week abortion ban. This is ignorance at its finest. Most women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks. In actuality, they are not six weeks pregnant because the weeks of pregnancy are not counted from the point of conception (which is impossible to determine unless it happens outside the womb) but from the first day of their last menstrual cycle. Which, in the event you are a complete idiot, I will tell you, means they were almost certainly not pregnant at that time. It is possible for a woman to have several cycles even while pregnant, but that is extremely rare. For the vast majority, pregnancy occurs somewhere between two to four weeks after that date, depending on such things like ovulation, and how long it takes a fertilized egg to develop into a blastocyst, drop into the uterus and attach itself to the wall. When a woman is one day late for her period she could be actually days pregnant, or just late. It can take another two weeks to develop enough hormone in the body to render a reliable pregnancy test result. Taking the test before then can easily result in a false negative. Thus, without an ultrasound, you cannot even accurately determine pregnancy, excluding the likelihood of false negatives, until what is generally considered the six-week mark. This ban, also known as H.R. 490, is another attempt to push religious dogma into laws designed to control the population based on the religious beliefs held by some and not based in science. It is a method to control women in society and demote them to what they religiously believe is their primary purpose: to breed and be in the service of their husbands. It also gives them further dominion over legally controlling sex in society based on their religious ideologies.

You don’t believe this breeder mentality is at the core of GOP sentiment? Well, Wisconsin GOP Rep. Scott Allen had this to say,

“Labor force shortages are tied to population declines. Labor force shortages are a limiting factor in economic growth. And limited economic growth poses a problem when government tries to pay for public services and infrastructure. In spite of this Mr. Speaker, ironically, the Democrats continue their effort to support the abortion industry.”

Uh huh. Yes. That means exactly what it sounds like. Rep. Allen suggests (and suggest is a pretty weak word for it) that abortion should be banned because we need women breeding these babies to ensure the future labor force and economic growth. I think I’ve touched on this before, the economic reasoning for the anti-choice movement, and I am thankful to Allen here for proving my point. Many of the elective abortions happen because the woman is not at a stable point in her life to have and care for a child. Having a child at that time would ensure poverty for both, leaving a single mother, without an education to scrape by at minimum wage jobs with inadequate support to help her child achieve a better life or education. This can easily become a cycle from one generation to the next of low expectations, poverty and, you guessed it, cheap labor. Millions of jobs across the country pay poverty wages. Tens of millions. More, in fact. It is estimated that 42.4% of those employed in the United States make less than $15 an hour. There are only fifteen states out of all fifty where that is a living wage for a single person. Not for a single mom to care for a child, but just one adult, and it is only within pennies of survival. In the thirty-five remaining states, $15 an hour is not enough money for even one person to live outside of poverty. If you make less that $14.26 per hour then there is nowhere in the country you can live outside of poverty. But still, more than 42% of jobs fall under $15 per hour. How do you fill that many poverty wage jobs? How do you convince that many people to accept poverty wages for hard work? Well, people born to poverty are accustomed to it. It is what they know and those wages are what they have been taught to expect. When too many people began taking advantage of higher education, the pay demands of jobs began to increase. The resounding answer was to make college unaffordable and ensure those who do graduate feel so encumbered by debt that they would accept less in their desperation. After all, they only have six months to start paying back those student loans. So, what Rep. Allen is really letting slip is that he wants impoverished babies to grow up to be desperate workers willing to accept crumbs just to try to survive. I am sure he would apply the same reasoning to birth control, since it effectively prevents far more unwanted pregnancies. They need a new crop of impoverished workers so women need to get busy breeding on demand.

The Right would have you believe they are fighting for religious liberty, frequently naming their bills and laws designed to give employers religious powers over their employees things like The Religious Freedom Act, and other misnomers. An example is taking away birth control from group health insurance plans. Another example is making it acceptable to fire or not hire women because of their choice to have an abortion or use birth control. It is also reflected in the Right’s policies that employers should have the right to not hire, fire or refuse advancement to people based on their sexual orientation or having a same-sex marriage based on nothing more than the employer’s religious beliefs, thus giving the employer religious priority over employees. In effect, this says that the government endorses an employer’s religion over that of an employee. At the moment, many far right Christians are fine with this, so long as it is their religion which gets priority. However, any time there is even a semblance of, say, an Islamic employer implementing such actions, the scream of, “Sharia Law!” is tantamount to ear-piercing. Their indignation, and hypocrisy, is amazing to behold. It shows the truth beneath the rhetoric, underlying the misnomer of Religious Freedom.

We are all Jane Doe. Men, women, children. Everyone. We all have our own, closely held beliefs, whether they are: religious, political, moral, or otherwise. Whether we believe in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, we’re an atheist, agnostic,  subscribe to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we are all Jane Doe. We each have inalienable rights that should not be sacrificed to a loud minority. More than 70% of the nations supports women’s’ rights to choice and 89% support birth control as a moral option to reduce unwanted pregnancies. 79% of the United States believe it should be easily accessible and even publicly funded. So, we are talking about a loud, religiously cultish minority, though politically powerful, imposing their beliefs on everyone else. Those beliefs are outside the Constitution of the United States and, therefore, a danger to all of our liberties. When you can toss aside any freedom, for anyone, personal freedoms, and make them subject to the whims of others, then there is no freedom at all. They will all fall like a string of dominoes. If you have ever built domino lines then you know it takes a lot longer to set them up, or reset them, than it does to knock them over. So, like Jane Doe, we need to all guard our freedoms closely and not allow them to erode. Reproductive freedom, religious freedom, the right to work, live, love, vote, receive an education, to food and shelter and accessible healthcare, no matter our gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or financial stability, these are all things worth fighting for, worth achieving and keeping.

Jane Doe fought her battle and won, albeit with help, it was still a win for all of us, that our laws mean something and, so too, does our freedom. Despite the extreme pressures placed on her by the weight of the federal government of the United States of America, she did not waver. It would have been easy to cave under such pressure, but she did not. We must all be willing to hold, steadfast, to the progress our nation has made towards equality, and push it forward, against the unrelenting current of those who enjoy and prefer power over others. Our freedom is not a gift at all. It was fought for and earned, demanded and pried from the greedy hands of oppressors. It is not a gift. it is a right.

Resist. We cannot now become complacent. Jane Doe gives us hope. We can stand against an administration seeking to be a regime. We are many and we have power.

We are One Woman, One World.

Sources:

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/3/16602662/jane-doe-trump-administration-jeff-sessions-abortion

https://www.snopes.com/single-mother-birth-certificate/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=6064&GAID=13&DocTypeID=HB&SessionID=88&GA=99

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/six-week-abortion-ban

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/how-pregnancy-happens

https://www.webmd.com/baby/understanding-conception#1

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/10/15/1433190/-Study-says-there-s-NO-state-where-a-single-adult-can-live-on-less-than-14-hr-working-a-40-hour-week

http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/Growing-Movement-for-15-Dollars.pdf

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/03/28/how_many_workers_earn_less_than_15_per_hour.html

http://deadstate.org/gop-lawmaker-abortion-should-be-banned-because-women-need-to-replenish-the-labor-marketfbrefreshforce/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

http://news.gallup.com/poll/187955/percentage-christians-drifting-down-high.aspx

https://www.rt.com/usa/372614-roe-v-wade-support/

http://news.gallup.com/poll/154799/americans-including-catholics-say-birth-control-morally.aspx