Tagged: tradition

Climate change reducing habitable land in the Navajo Nation


Click to enlargeFour Corners Hikes

A third of the Navajo Nation is now covered with sand dunes — the result of climate change…Roads, corrals, entire homes have been buried in sand, creating what President Obama calls “climate change refugees.”

Thirty-foot-tall sand dunes the color of flower pots flank the road to the now dry Tolani Lake on the Navajo Nation.

At one time, streams flooded the road. Today it’s sand. The community has frequently bulldoze the dunes, but they creep back as much as 40 feet a year.

“It’s a losing battle, unfortunately,” said Margaret Hiza Redsteer, a research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “They have to plow the road quite frequently to keep the road open so they can get in and out to their house.”…

Hiza Redsteer said the Navajo are not simply victims of something happening hundreds of miles away. Many Navajos work at the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, on the reservation itself. The EPA said such power plants are responsible for almost 30 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change.

When you add up sand, heat, water scarcity and dust storms you can see from space, you start to hear terms like “uninhabitable.” That’s the word Carletta Chief used to describe parts of the Navajo Nation. She’s a member of the tribe and an assistant professor at the University of Arizona…

For the Navajo, the land where you are born is sacred. And generations ago the federal government allotted each family a parcel, a permanent homeland.

“And even to move from one community to the next is nearly impossible because your ancestral land is where your family has lived for many, many years,” Carletta Chief said.

Navajo ties to nature are beyond the experience of most Anglos. When the spirit voices of your ancestors call to you in high desert winds, it’s tough and frustrating to try to grow crops with no water where those same ancestors survived for centuries.

American Presbyterians vote to recognize same-sex marriage

The largest presbyterian group in the US has voted to recognize same-sex marriage, the latest sweeping move by the church to acknowledge it as Christian.

Presbyterian Church USA voted on Tuesday to amend its constitution to extend marriage rights from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman”.

A majority of the church’s 171 governing bodies ruled in favor of the change, which will affect the church’s more than 1.7 million members, including those strongly opposed to marriage equality.

Individual pastors who oppose same-sex marriages can still opt out of performing same-sex marriage ceremonies or allowing them to be held in their church.

The group’s general assembly approved the constitutional amendment in 2014, but the “two people” measure needed to be ratified before the constitution could officially be changed. On Tuesday night, 87 had voted in favor, and 41 had voted against…

In recent years, the church has adopted more inclusive policies: in 2011, it undid an anti-same-sex marriage amendment by allowing LGBT pastors in the church, and last year ministers began performing same-sex marriages in states where it is legal…

Paul Detterman, national director of the Fellowship Community, a conservative group that opposes the decision, told the New York Times he expects the decision to drive practitioners out of the church. He said, however, that the vote might also compel people to stay in order to defend their stance…

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT inclusion in the church, praised the amendment. “We rejoice that all couples can now see those relationships solemnized before God and the Christian community in marriage, at the discretion of ministers and sessions,” the group said in a statement.

I like the libertarian sense of the amendment. It allows those church members whose brain and heart are trapped in the Dark Ages to remain there. Of their own free will.

A traditional hero – and a hero’s welcome

House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers was lauded by members of Parliament Wednesday for his reported role in stopping an assailant who killed a Canadian Forces member in Ottawa.

Vickers, 58, a native of Miramichi, N.B., was reportedly in the House of Commons when a gunman entered sometime after 9:52 a.m…Two sources told The Canadian Press that Vickers shot the assailant inside the Hall of Honour, the main entrance to the Centre Block beneath the Peace Tower…

Vickers became the sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons eight years ago after a varied career in security that included protecting foreign dignitaries and members of the Royal Family.

He spent 29 years with the RCMP and rose to the rank of chief superintendent, often serving as the face of the national police force in New Brunswick. Before his appointment as sergeant-of-arms, Vickers was director of security operations for the House of Commons.

A copper’s copper. He doesn’t need to celebrate doing his job. He just goes ahead and does it.

Why the CPC’s third plenary session is important – Insight article

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President Xi Jinping in the center of local officials and activists in Tayuanzhuang Village

Observers believe that an upcoming meeting of the Communist Party of China in November will follow Party tradition and be a springboard for major national reform.

In a meeting last Tuesday, the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee decided that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee will be held in November in Beijing to discuss major issues concerning comprehensive reform.

The meeting comes as China faces major economic and social challenges. It will, to some extent, determine the direction of reform of the new leadership.

On Tuesday, the 25-member Political Bureau emphasized the importance of reform and how it concerns the overall work of the Party and the government.

“There is no way for China to reverse or even stop the process,” it said, adding that reform and opening up have “only a progressive tense, no perfect tense…”

The meeting proposed innovation in theory, system, science, technology and culture with wholescale reform across the board.

“Besides the economic sector, the Third Plenary Session will promote administrative reform, ” Chi Fulin, director of the China Institute for Reform and Development, added…

The CPC has a tradition of proposing key changes in third plenary sessions since 1978 when the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee decided to implement reform and opening up, ending decades of seclusion.

The third plenum of the 14th CPC Central Committee in 1993 endorsed the socialist market economy, paving the way for China’s economic takeoff in the subsequent two decades.

The political economy of China is still hindered by a tradition of corruption rooted in centuries. No matter the economic structure, societies free of Protestant moralizing often need a few decades of an ethics injection. Fortunately, part of being a self-perfecting species is that laws and regulations can not only be passed – they can be enforced.

Yes, that’s a two-way street. We’ve witnessed enough of that in the United States. Between so-called conservatives lifting regulations and oversight from mortgage bankers to cutting taxes for the wealthiest, lobbyists and Congress in concert reintroduced a level of corruption to American governance not seen in decades. That, too, can be turned around.

I expect Chinese politicians to get into reform a lot faster than we shall here in the States. They are not a nation as divided politically as we are. Their officials could deal better with the hindrance of tradition than the gutless wonders in Congress. And, honestly, I think they are more strongly motivated by the pressures of growing their economy than the class of corporate lawyers and pimps our government attracts, nowadays.

I could be wrong, of course. Not for the first time. :)

The British Beard and Moustache Championships


Click for more photos

The gathering celebrated a cornucopia of the most extravagant facial hair from across the UK and around the world – and their fans.

An event I must support – being someone who almost didn’t appear in his high school yearbook until I relented and trimmed my sideburns.

Fortunately, that sort of stupidity has diminished in the job market in this land – over time. I have not been absent a beard since 1979.

Why we need a second party

Watching the Republican Party struggling to agree on a presidential candidate, one wonders whether the G.O.P. shouldn’t just sit this election out — just give 2012 a pass…

…The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.

Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions. I’ve argued that maybe we need a third party to break open our political system. But that’s a long shot. What we definitely and urgently need is a second party — a coherent Republican opposition that is offering constructive conservative proposals on the key issues and is ready for strategic compromises to advance its interests and those of the country.

Without that, the best of the Democrats — who have been willing to compromise — have no partners and the worst have a free pass for their own magical thinking. Since such a transformed Republican Party is highly unlikely, maybe the best thing would be for it to get crushed in this election and forced into a fundamental rethink…

Because when I look at America’s three greatest challenges today, I don’t see the Republican candidates offering realistic answers to any of them.

Continue reading

Tell the government of California to leave foreskins to parents!

LZ Granderson

Anti-circumcision activists convinced thousands in San Francisco to sign a petition, and now in the fall voters will decide whether to ban the procedure from being performed on boys younger than 18…

I can see the lawn signs now — Circumcisions: Nip ‘Em in the Bud.

Besides the measure having no provision for religious practices — thereby making it unconstitutional — it’s downright ludicrous when you consider that Matthew Hess, the man who has written similar, but failed, legislation for states across the country, is the same Matthew Hess who demonizes Jewish culture in his online comic book “Foreskin Man.”

We chuckle, but from interracial marriage to masturbation, politicians have been trying to tell us what to do with our genitalia for centuries…

I get the science behind not having the procedure done: There are nerve endings that are being severed during the procedure, and it is normally not medically required. But generally speaking it has not been proven to be medically harmful either, though there have been rare occasions of
infection and excessive bleeding requiring stitches.

Besides being an important aspect of some religions, circumcisions improve hygiene, which is effective in limiting urinary tract infections and the transference of STDs…

A recent study conducted by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher suggests the number of circumcisions performed dropped from 56% in 2006 to 33% in 2009. So chances are you or someone you know is uncircumcised, a fact that is really none of the business of complete strangers — government officials and busy-body voters alike. Why someone would sign a petition making it their business is beyond me.

I could see the government getting involved in the decisions parents make about their children if there was evidence that circumcisions were a life-threatening practice — like failure to use car seats for young children. I could see if the proposed ban was addressing a patriarchal practice such as female genital mutilation. But it’s not.

This is about choice and preference and opinion and I am really tired of being subjected to ridiculous laws instituted by religious conservatives pandering to a bunch of crazy people or by meddling liberals who have nothing better to do.

In 2003, there still were three people on the Supreme Court who felt that Texas had a right to tell two consenting adults what they can do in bed.

A great reason to avoid Texas. Another great reason to attempt to depoliticize the Supreme Court. But, we live in a nation where most of True Believers are devoutly convinced the government should endow the religion with a veto over how people think, act and – in this case – fiddle with little bits of their male children’s penis.

Having trouble making your mortgage payment? Try this.

We’re looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We’re looking for homes to turn into billboards. In exchange, we’ll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted

Here are a few things we’re looking for. You must own your home. It cannot be rented or leased. We’ll paint the entire outside of the house, minus the roof, the windows and any awnings. Painting will take approximately 3 – 5 days. Your house must remain painted for at least three months and may be extended up to a year. If, for any reason, you decide to cancel after three months or if we cancel the agreement with you, we’ll repaint your house back to the original colors.

If you’re prepared for the bright colors and stares from neighbors just complete the submission form below. We review every submission. If your home meets our criteria, an Adzookie team member will contact you.

I thought about this for a couple of minutes. Our house wouldn’t work for these folks. It doesn’t face the right way – not enough exposure. But, at the front of our compound we have a three-car garage. Three reasonably flat steel doors facing the road. Might work out, eh?

… My wife would kill me.

Filial piety as law


An editorial in the current issue of China Daily

Everyone agrees that people should visit their aged parents regularly if they are living separately. But whether this requirement should be written into law is a controversial matter.

The proposed amendment to the law on elderly people has a clause that says independent children should visit their aged parents regularly and should not ignore their need for love and affection.

If the amendment is adopted, parents will be able to sue their children in court for not visiting them for a long time. The number of elderly couples not living with their children is rising, and the amendment could provide them with a legal weapon to defend their rights of being looked after – at least emotionally – by their children.

Some people call the amendment ridiculous and meaningless, because a legal code should not be aimed at mending broken relations between children and parents. They contend that most children try their best to take some time out of their busy schedule to visit their parents and most parents excuse their children for not being able to keep them company for long or regularly.

Hence, they say that even if the amendment is adopted very few parents will take their children to court for not visiting them for a long time or not fulfilling their emotional needs.

But such a legal provision will serve as a reminder to young couples that they have the obligation to meet the emotional needs of their aged parents irrespective of how busy they may be. Parents could even remind their sons and daughters of their legal obligation. Contrary to some people’s fear that such a law will have serious consequences, it will only help consolidate the bond between most parents and children.

My parents would have voted for a law like this. Especially with all the years I spent wandering the globe, missing holidays with the family.