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March 2014

Papal Help is Welcoming in Venezuela

On the premise that the forgiveness of God is limitless, and that it is cast upon all desiring creatures upon repentance, is sufficient enough that Venezuela's Presidente Nicolas Maduro, accepts Vatican help in attempting to bring stability to the land of beauty and of the beautiful - Venezuela. Last Friday, the Vatican confirmed that it was "willing and desirous" to intervene diplomatically in Venezuela's crisis. This confirmation by Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, was a welcoming sign to Venezuelans. The day before, Maduro finally accepted the idea of a good-faith facilitator following weeks of pressure to negotiate with opposition leaders, rights groups and students, to end the crisis in the Latin American country. Some 36 people have been killed since protests started in February. The idea of the Vatican as facilitator for talks is fitting since Venezuela is primarily Roman Catholic. Moreover, with the Church as mediator, Maduro could use the opportunity to atone for creating the state of violence and instability in Venezuela. The fact that he has not condemned rampant violence by his motorcycle 'colectivos'(armed pro-government gangs who molest dissenters), demonstrates the necessity of having the Church help out. As a matter of fact, Maduro's government's actions appear to support the violence of the 'colectivos': Maduro's vice president, Jorge Arreaza has said of the disturbances, "If there has been exemplary behavior, it has been the behavior of the motorcycle colectivos..." Maduro himself has defended the 'colectivos' confirming "we will not accept any campaign to demonize Venezuelan colectivos." Most of the victims shot to death during Venezuela's protests, were killed by colectivos and the victims include university student Jesus Enrique Acosta, shot in the head; and little league baseball coach Guillermo Sanchez,  shot in the back. So as the Holy See collects more information to understand "the expectations and the premise for undertaking a useful role that could achieve the desired outcome" of peace and stability in Venezuela, Presidente Maduro also has ample time - ample time in which to put his atonement list together, so that he may sit at negotiations in good faith with the understanding that government is about serving the people and not stifling their spirits.

Resilience of the People of Washington State

The spirits, the strengths and the community determinations of the people of Oso, Arlington and Darrington, Washington State, are strong. Though they have been hampered, dampened and sadden by the debris flow a week ago that has now killed a confirmed 18, Washington State will rebuild. And despite the long odds of finding survivors under the current elements impeded conditions at the landslide site, rescue efforts continue in Oso. Fresh rescue dogs were brought onto the rescue site to help in the rescue  and in the grim recovery of the dead. At 10:37 a.m. P.T. yesterday, Washington State paused in solemn silent vigil on the one-week anniversary of the debris flow. The communities of Washington State,  from children to adults, are involved in many efforts to ease the pain and suffering of the families of the lost. Kids are raising money, adults are lending  hands in rescue efforts. A glimmer of fortune has been the reduction to 30 from 90 of the people reported missing. Yet, the identification of victims remain a difficult process as Jason Biermann, a program manager for the Sohomish County Department of Emergency, conceded: "The slide hit with such force that recuers are not finding full intact bodies."  Dan Rankin, the Mayor of   Darrington acknowledged: "Our community is changed forever...it's going to take a long time to heal."  But Washington State continues to hold out hope of finding  survivors and Mayor  Rankin  confirmed: "In our minds, we are   in recovery mode. In our hearts, we are still in rescue mode." Hope lives on in Oso and though yesterday was a gray day, the elements should clear and usher in better weather across the region  later this week. After the healing process in Washington State, when rebuilding starts, the debris flow will teach us ways in which we can live  better within our environments. We will now apply lessons on how best we could utilize technology to coordinate our habitats within nature.

To a Developing Son

Of my four sons, three days ago I wrote of:  "A Dad's Tribute to a Perfect Son" my eldest; today, I celebrate my youngest, who's having a birthday and as fate and blessings have dictated, two of my sons, my eldest and my youngest are both March born within three days of each other, so maybe you can fathom a hint as to the activities around our home. But I have mentioned my sons, yet not  named them, to highlight my care, my understanding and my advocacy for freedom and for stability: not just for my family, but for the families of Syria, Venezuela, Thailand, India, China, Ukraine, Moldova, Central African Republic, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Georgia, Palestine, Haiti, South Africa and yes, you get the point, the entire world. That all should be free and have democratic institutions at their disposal, is my creed. It is my passion. From a fatherless boy, whose dad died when I was two and whose Mom went away went I was seven, I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of life, liberty and democracy; and I carry a unique perspective and understanding of the desires of people: from the farmer outside Dublin, Ireland, to the herdsman on the Sahara, to the Inuit on the Bearing Sea, to the movie producer in Beverly Hills, to the broker on Wall Street, to the plumber in Toledo, to the street vendor in Mexico, to the hockey player in Winnipeg, Canada. I pledge to my sons, the children and people of the world, a full, fair advocacy for freedom and for democracy.

A Speck of Hope In Venezuela?

Could it be that within the past 24-hours, just enough pressure has been applied to Venezuela's Presidente Nicolas Maduro to force him into talks about improving the lives of Venezuelans? Yesterday, I submitted that pressure should be applied upon Maduro to prevent Venezuela from destabilizing Latin America and the Caribbean. Later in the day, as reported by the Associated Press(AP), "the U.S. State Department issued its strongest comment yet on the troubles in Venezuela, saying it would consider imposing sanctions if Maduro didn't reconcile with his opponents."  Then came the news out of Caracas that Maduro "has agreed to enter talks with Venezuela's opposition with the help of an outside facilitator." A group of South American foreign ministers, visiting Venezuela, made the announcement yesterday evening after they had held two days of talks with Maduro's government, student protesters and human rights groups, in an attempt to broker a dialogue to ending weeks of social protests in Venezuela. So there is a speck of hope that Maduro could negotiate in good faith with the opposition and vice versa toward the betterment of Venezuelan lives and for the general stability of the region.

Pressure Venezuela's Maduro

Presidente  Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela represents a weak link in the Western Hemisphere. His solutions to jail as many of his opponents as he could as a function to easing Venezuela's problems, are preposterous. His dictatorship threatens to destabilize Latin America and the Caribbean, so before matters reach an infectious epidemic proportion,  pressure must be applied upon the socialist to amend his risky helmsman ship. While the majority of the some 34 deaths from social protests in Venezuela could be attributed to Maduro's henchmen, Hugo Chavez's protege has manipulated the Venezuelan judiciary and security systems, to accuse the voices of dissent for his crimes. Maduro's paranoia is running high; only this week, his forces arrested three air force generals accusing them of trying to overthrow his government. Opposition lawmaker, Maria Corina Machado, who has repeatedly spoken out for a better Venezuela,  has been accused of being a Panamanian agent, because she addressed the OAS. Machado has had her mandate as a legislator revoked by Maduro and his cohort Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly. So, Machado could be joining other voices against Maduro in jail very soon since her immunity from arrest has been lifted. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez continues to sit in Maduro's jail, plus two mayors sentenced by Maduro's judiciary for not removing barricades erected by protesters. Presidente Maduro's actions set a bad precedent in the West. If allowed to fester, will Nicaragua and Ecuador follow his lead? 

A Dad's Tribute to a Perfect Son

I have four sons I love equally, this is to my first born: Happy Birthday Son: You are the most perfect son any parent could ever have, and I wish I could be as good a parent as you are a son. As a kindergartner, after your transition from legos to erector sets, you quickly developed into the other centered individual most adults live all their lives without realizing; it was then that I saw you go from door to door in our DC neighborhood collecting food items that were then presented to Congressman Earl Pomeroy for donation to victims of the Red River floods in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I bloated with pride and cried with satisfaction as Congressman Pomeroy stood on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and repeated your name in giving thanks to you on behalf of his North Dakota. After that event, your mother and I had no need to check your homework anymore, for it was always done, done correctly and done before play. That was Elementary School, what would the future hold for you? At Middle School I saw a deep pain and sorrow within you for the very first time. Despite all our family adaptations and tests, I saw your sorry and I felt your pain at the lost of Space Shuttle Columbia on re-entry, February 1, 2003; not because of the fact that you and your Middle School Teammates had lost an experiment that was on board Columbia, but I saw your inner grief for Columbia's Crew and for the future of space exploration, you admired so much. I was not surprised when you became one of the gifted 620 students to gain admission to a High School specializing in Math and Science of a total of over 20,000 students who sat for examination. Neither was I surprised when you were offered a seat at each of the five Ivy league Universities to which you applied. And thanks for accepting my preference over your Mom's(lol). Son, it is to your innovative spirit and that of your generation that I rise everyday. I rise to advocate for freedoms across the globe so that accomplishments to Math, Science, Medicine and Technology could be improved and realized by all peoples in all countries; for it is only then that we could say that we have loved and served all humanity. Happy birthday son, continue to innovate and I will do my best to advocate. Much Love, your Dad.

Thoughts and Prayers to Oso, Washington

We continue to offer our thoughts and our prayers to the residents of Oso, Washington, three days after a massive landslide cut short the lives of 14 and has rendered some 176 missing. FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and members of the Washington State National Guard, have joined local rescuers and volunteers in an element impeded painstaking  search of the debris for survivors. John Pennington, director of Snohomish County emergency management, has acknowledged the difficulty of the tasks facing rescuers as more rain is in the weather forecast for the region. A number of those missing  are from the Steelhead Drive neighborhood. President Barack Obama has pledged whatever assistance Washington State needs to cope with the natural disaster.

After Sanctions, International Organization Reforms?

World development advances like the elasticity of a stretched rubber band - expansion, then the inevitable contraction. Why? For as trade and commerce expand necessitating the longings of nation states' desires for hard cash, the political and social order in placed to bind civility to the process, lags sadly behind the curve. I submit that trade and commerce advancements ahead of social and political affairs are recipes for conflict. Consider: Russia, having vast reserves of oil and gas and other sought after natural resources, has been able to continue sitting at the helm of many international organizations, despite dismal records of human rights and freedoms. So has China; for the international community has allowed this because of trade and cheap labor and despite the human rights issues. So when statements attributed to Russia's Putin, accusing the west of hippocratic standards are heard, it is not over Kosovo that he is referencing; it is the trade , the commerce and the memberships  into international organizations extended to him over the years. He is having a laugh of sorts. As he would reason : You buy my gas and my oil, yet you complain about my human rights record? If matters are that bad, why still buy from me? China is about to have a similar laugh: You are begging at my door for money and investments and you dare complain of my human rights record and policies? While other Russians might have worried about western sanctions over Crimea's annexation, Putin has remained as cool as a cucumber. He has suffice so much that western nations do not want to diminish their income possibilities, nor defer their thirsts, so any punishments will be token, much smaller than the actual prize. But the key to reining in rogues like Putin, and others to come,  lie in reforms at the United Nations(UN). In this dynamic time: An Age of Aspirations, A Time of Freedoms; how could China and Russia retain super veto status at the UN Security Council? On three occasions, these two nations, working as partners, have impeded western resolutions to end the bloody war in Syria. Russia recently vetoed a resolution against itself condemning the Crimea referendum vote; China abstained. If these two countries, which make up the retraction variable on the world's advancement elasticity cycle,  are allowed to sit on top of international organizations, then the world will continue to witness bleak downturns as actual progress teases within possible reach. Should the P5 status be retained at the Security Council, a possible reform could be a simple majority  for veto approval. Offered for your consideration and your discussion.

Hampered and Fading Hopes of Rescue in Oso, Washington

Rescuers, searching for survivors at the scene of last Saturday's landslide in Oso, Washington, are hampered by still shifting land, putting first responders at risk. So far, the death toll has risen to eight from the event, and Snohomish County  police have received 108 missing people reports. Some 15 million cubic yards of mud and debris has cluttered the sight of the natural disaster. With each passing minute, hopes of more rescues become diminished. FEMA and other federal agencies are prep to render assistance. 

Finally, Some Closure, Some Comfort for MH370

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. Families of the 239 passengers on board the doomed jet, have now be informed by the Malaysian government that the plane did crash in the southern Indian Ocean, a vast isolated area of our world. Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak, has been able to confirm the lost of all lives on board the flight from analysis of recent Inmarsat satellite data:"It is with deep sadness and regret, that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," the prime minister informed. Our sincere prayers go out to the families of the passengers and we hope that they may now find some comfort and some closure.