Flip the switch
It is 2 a.m. on Christmas morning 2015. I am up with the full moon overhead and the sound of the Eno River, which is running high below my property.
Feeling restless. It is a freaky 70 degrees outside. The voices of chorus frogs call in the distance. I've just served myself a cup of blended passionflower, skullcap and chamomile tea to try to calm down.
Deep down inwardly my spirit is asking, “Is it finally here, the long anticipated climatic BIG SHIFT?” Are these most unseasonal temperatures during our community's “Holy Days,” a firm and deliberate message from the Holy Beings that we all honor in some form or another, that we get a grip on our reckless use of carbon-based energy and the lifestyles it supports?
My friends, I challenge us to think of unplugging on Earth Day this coming year: April 22, 2016. As both a symbolic and exploratory act, let’s flip the main switch on our home’s electrical panel for 24 hours.
I think we all know intuitively that such a day will be forced upon us sooner or later. Perhaps if we preempt it even for one day, such an act might help us “shift” our own perspective toward climate change so as to be able to make some real and long-term adjustments in our carbon consumption behavior. Spring weather on April 22 should not even require heating or air conditioning. Flipping the switch probably will not be a huge burden. Our hot water heaters will still be lukewarm at the end of the day. Owners of refrigerators may want to keep an eye on their perishables. But I say, let’s give it a try
Dave “Riverdave” Owen
Lawmakers kowtow to gun lobby
After the Republican U.S. Senate voted down a Democratic Senate proposal to ban gun sales to anyone, foreign or domestic, whose name appears on the terrorist watch-list, I applauded state Attorney General Roy Cooper's recommendation to Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. General Assembly to ban gun sales within North Carolina's borders to anyone named on that same terrorist watch-list.
I now see that Cooper is taking "fire" for his stance on this important issue (Dec. 9, Under the Dome article). For Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry to say that Cooper's recommendation "could actually compromise terrorist investigations within the state" is fictitious cover for a politically correct bad policy. Whatever happened to common sense and lawmakers' responsibility for the public's safety?
Anyone who fails to work toward, get behind or vote for such a ban, or criticizes anyone who does, is giving aid and comfort and loading and handing weapons to both foreign and domestic terrorist, as well as politicizing what is a real collective threat, as the recent California shooting illustrates, and places their amoral politics above the safety of North Carolinians and the American people.
Compassion cures bigotry
It is great to be in America. But then I am a white, retired male with good health insurance and a decent retirement income. It is not great if someone is a young black male with a high probability of being incarcerated or killed. Or if someone is among the many children living in poverty or those working at minimum wage.
Many are subjected to bigotry and hatred because they are gay or an undocumented immigrant, and now there are those who feel the anger of the anti-Muslim fervor. It is a shame that nothing is being done about gun violence, income inequality or the denying of health insurance to those who need it.
It is a disgrace that those who need help the most do not vote, either by suppression or choice. More compassion and love over bigotry and hatred are needed.
There are about 32,000 gun deaths per year in the United States. About 60 percent are suicides. In Japan, where guns are essentially banned, the suicide rate is twice that of the United States but tall buildings, poisonings, and jumping in front of railway trains are the culprits there. Three percent are accidental, and the rest are homicides.
Researcher Gary Kleck notes citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals every year (1,527 vs. 606) as do police. One study reported in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology found guns are used for self-defense 2.1 to 2.6 million times a year. How many of those would have been killed or raped if they could not defend themselves?
Many gun deaths are classified as “gang-related.” No gun laws have ever stopped this. These people will get guns regardless of all the laws depriving honest citizens of their right to defend themselves.
In Britain which banned just about every firearm in 1990, the gun crimes grew to twice its original level, and while that figure has decreased, it is still higher than before the ban.
And again, studies show that where citizens may carry and are armed, crime decreases. This is not propaganda by the NRA but by researchers in the field.
More drum beating
The most recent GOP debate echoed the sentiments of the previous two: fear-mongering and the pounding of war drums. We have seen in the past what pre-emptive war can do. G.W. Bush and administration played off the gullibility and naivete of the American people to launch an invasion of Iraq. Instead of the U.S. being hailed as the great liberator, thousands of precious lives were lost, thousands of casualties resulted and $3 trillion taxpayer dollars were spent, and for what? Basically to turn Iraq into a terrorist training ground.
Now America is viewed by many regions of the Middle East as the great malefactor. Wisdom, restraint and respect for international law are what I did not hear from any of the candidates.
Long, long ago, America prided itself on the use of war as the last resort, expending all nonviolent options. This veteran prays for its return.
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