November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn Leaves
Jill Peate Hall
Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

Burned leaves, sage, thyme, spice
Light music, conversation
Family and friends

November 14, 2007

And Why Not?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday dropped a plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in his state because of overwhelming opposition to the proposal in an issue with repercussions in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Spitzer said he had come to believe that the proposal eventually would be blocked either by legal challenges or by the New York legislature.

He said he still believed his plan would be the best way to secure the roads in a state with an estimated 1 million illegal immigrants, many of whom drive without licenses or insurance.

N.Y. Gov. Spitzer drops immigrant driver's license plan read more

When you live in a city where many people drive without licenses, illegal immigrants or not; you want the drivers license to mean that person has taken a drivers test and made some effort to learn the rules and drive. I could care less about illegal immigration, National ID, or terrorist, when I am on the road. I want that person, be they terrorist, illegal immigrant or not; to know what a stop sign is.

November 13, 2007

The Drum in our Song

I had said this in an off topic conversation at The Assault On Black Folk's Sanity within the comments of Who's Classified? in reference to losing African values in our culture.

This is not exactly a value, but an identity, the drum in our song. I am not religious, but the sounds of the work song, spiritual and early gospel, triggers a transcendental experience when I hear the music. Those sound are disappearing. That was like a memory of earth, Africa, going.
I supposed that it could be argued that what I hear had not disappeared or is not truly African, but I want to share this music. Here are two gospel songs and a spiritual as examples. I wish they were better recordings. The last one my father's glee club use to sing often in concert. Unfortunately my father badly tangled the tape of the Harry T. Burleigh Glee Club in concert, after he had a stroke. Soon I Will Be Done With The Troubles Of The World a special memory.

November 11, 2007

Homeless Veterans

Just browsing the news I saw this story and this stunning statistic,

One in four homeless people in the US is a military veteran, a report has found, even though veterans make up only 11% of the adult population.
Living as a veteran of the streets

Looking to find another report of this story, I found a CNN article, Study: Veterans more likely to be homeless, with the same statistic and more about the report.

On any given night last year, nearly 196,000 veterans slept on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing, the study by the Homelessness Research Institute found.

"Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people," the report said. "This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed and have a lower poverty rate than the general population."

The president of the institute's parent group appealed Thursday to lawmakers and civilians to help solve veteran homelessness before thousands of U.S. service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read the entire article and view the video of a Ben Israel describing his homeless experience.

About 44,000 to 64,000 veterans are classified as "chronically homeless" -- homeless for long periods or repeatedly.

Other veterans -- nearly 468,000 -- are experiencing "severe housing cost burden," or paying more than half their income for housing, thereby putting them at a high risk for homelessness.

The article continues.
To reduce chronic homelessness among veterans by half, the report concluded housing coupled with supportive services should be increased by 25,000 units, and the number of housing vouchers for veterans should be increased by 20,000.
There is an program responsible for homeless veterans in the Department of Veteran Affairs, my hope that it will have more funding and the ability to do more out reach, especially for the mentally ill veteran. There are some veteran organizations that help too. I personally can not recommend any that one could could contribute to. I only became familiar with this issue when I read these articles a few days ago. I would only say that the next time you see a homeless person, don't be quick to assume why they are homeless, be they a veteran or not, but remember that many of these homeless have been responsible for our security and defense.

Ben Israel's homelessness ended because of a private organization helping, it is described in the first article, Living as a veteran of the streets.

He was in line at one more soup kitchen when he was approached by someone from Pathways to Housing.

It is a New York-based charity which, for 17 years, has helped the homeless who have psychiatric problems.

Important for Ben was that, as Pathway's mission statement makes clear, they do not require treatment or sobriety as a pre-condition of getting someone into an apartment.

Their philosophy is that the path to recovery starts with getting off the street and under a roof.

When we honor our veterans today we should not forget those who are homeless and if some would approach you for something, even if you don't know how to help, at least tell them that you appreciated their service.

November 06, 2007

Afrospear (November) Carnival

Each month the Afrospear: A Think Tank For People of African Descent presents a carnival which reflects on some aspect of the African Diaspora. Unlike many carnivals the topic changes each month. This month's topic is "Reparations: what is the value of what we’re owed?" This month I submitted this post A Dollar Owed. Check out the other submissions in the Afrospear November Carnival; I think you will find them interesting.

November 04, 2007

The Problem

Scientist want "the problem." Its what they look at and write there observations to determine how it works, the process or mechanism. This leads to a solution. The engineer looks at the solution and determines how it can be applied. For science and technology to progress there must be a problem. Someone has to have an interest. If our political sensibilities deny problems and create the climate where problems are denied and education doesn't stress solving problems, then when crisis strike our society we will not have any resources to rely on. There is no such thing as instant discovery or miracle in science.

Those who think that global warning doesn't exist or that humans don't contribute to it, would want to create a world where "the problem" is denied. No need for any solutions to be found. It is bad science; our science says do nothing. Fortunately because there are those that do see "the problem;" innovations in building houses, using solar energy, new fuels for automobiles, and building energy efficient industries are continuing. Whether global warming becomes dangerous or not, the benefit of solving "the problem" are enormous. At some point in the future, the need for such innovation will be seen; when we run out of fossil fuels or we will not have access, due to some world crisis.

I wrote this post, because this morning I saw an interesting segment on CBS Sunday Morning about a contest on Building a Better Solar-Powered Home. These houses are becoming more feasible to build and cost could be brought in line with today's market. One solution is already in place to solve one problem.

November 03, 2007

A Dollar Owed

First there has to be an acknowledgment that slavery is wrong; then there has to be a discussion about slavery effects on the slave and their survivors; and last there has to be an acknowledgment that slavery contributed this economy and that lost wages are owed to those who labored, for nothing, for another man's profit.

I am in agreement with the purpose of Rep. John Conyers' bill, HR 40, introduced to congress every year since 1989. Conyers describes the bill.

My bill does four things:

1. It acknowledges the fundamental injustice and inhumanity of slavery

2. It establishes a commission to study slavery, its subsequent racial and economic discrimination against freed slaves;

3. It studies the impact of those forces on today's living African Americans; and

4. The commission would then make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living African Americans.
Read more

The public has to understand the impact of slavery, as they understand the Holocaust. Once this has happened, reparations can be discussed. The problem now, is that there is a conscientious effort to marginalize slavery; thus the recent comments by Micheal Medved. The acceptance of Medved's view and Dr. James Watson's view by the right blogosphere whips up fierce opposition to any effort to say the slave was owed anything or that efforts to raise up all black people is justice.

I do not see reparations as back payment. I think that "remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living African Americans" could include a varity of effort, not only money but action. I would want our institutions and communities to benefit from reparations funds. I also want the FEDs to educate businesses on what EOE really means, follow up on the discrimnation claims and sue, and put teeth into the Civil Rights Commission; otherwise,
enforce the law. There is one other aspect of understanding slavery and being able to empathize that I would hope for. If it would bring the country to recognize the need for reparations; then respect could come in the process. For me, "r-e-s-p-e-c-t" is most important.

When our country values all of its people and give us our due, I would say that a dollar owed, is a dollar saved.