Friday, October 29, 2010

1 Year ago Today Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham & Joe Lieberman Formed a Triumverate to Combat Climate Change: What Happened?

The triumverate: Lindsey Graham center with Joe Lieberman
at the far left and John Kerry peering over Graham's left shoulder

In his primary-campaign speech 2 years ago, Barack Obama declared that his adminisration would spotlight two main issues: climate change and health care. He said in a debate with John McCain. : "Energy [which includes global warming] we have to deal with today. Health care is priority No. 2."

A year ago today, October 29 2009, an unlikely alliance was formed between 3 senators whose goal was to pass a bill through congress that would control climate change.

Earlier that month in a New York Times op-ed column entitled Yes We Can, Kerry and Graham co-wrote..." climate change is real and threatens our economy and national security. That's why we are advocating aggressive reductions in our emissions of the carbon gases that cause climate changes.....We will develop mechanisms to protect businesses- and ultimately consumers- from increases in energy prices" via the "establishment of floor and ceiling for the cost of emission safeguard important industries while they make the investments necessary to join the clean-energy era."

A house bill had the goal of reducing the 2005 level of carbon gases (in the atmosphere) by 17% by 2020!

They could not be a more unlikely group: a maverick republican from South Carolina (Lindsey Graham) with an avowed antipathy towards a liberal northeast senator and presidential and then high office hopeful (John Kerry) and his one-time presidential primary opponent a democrat turned independent, a chameleon with conservative leanings (Joe Lieberman).

A "grand bargain" was outlined by a senior White House official--a master strategy to bring together dynamically opposed business interests and congressional republicans and democrats (analagous to bringing Al Gore and T.Boone Pickens to sit down at the bargaining table).

In this bargain, the democrats would get their coveted 'cap and trade' legislation in return for ceding to their republican opponents much sought after business concessions.

Here was the deal: the blue party would get their 'cap and trade' and the red party would get a guarantee for increase in gas production (to placate the Pickens group), loan guarantees and subsidies for the development of nuclear power (an issue dear to Graham whose state has 4 active nuclear reactors, Catawba, Oconee, H.B. Robinson and Virgil C. Summer and 4 more proposed at a cost of up to $10 Billion each ) and assurances for continued exploration and drilling for offshore oil.

This epic saga of trial and failure has a cast of characters that includes senators Barbara Boxer, John McCain, Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, Scot Brown, George LeMieux, Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Debbie Stebanow, Blanche Lincoln, Congressmen Henry Waxman, Max Baucus, Edward Markey and various green group proponents such as Fred Krupp (of the Envrironmental Defense Fund), industry groups such as The Edison Electrical Institute and presidential appointees and advisors Carol Browner, Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod.

To learn more about the ups and downs of this historic effort to control global pollution and its attendant harm to our health, weather, seas, oceans and wildlife, national morale and international standing amongst the league of nations , etc--- please read the excellent article by Ryan Lizza, As The World Burns, in the October 11, 2010 issue of the New Yorker.

He will summarize in detail the reasons for this unfortunate failure: chief amongst them is the often bitter indifference of a burned out administration that turned against the historic triumverate. Obama (who in December 2009 met with and pledged to Graham to work with him on climate change: "Look Lindsey , I'm ready to play..") and his henchmen simple gave up on the issue after the mammoth fight of working with Congress, the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries to pass Obamacare, which was suddenly their Number One priority.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Darien Library is the Venue for One-Act Plays

On Sunday October 17, The Darien library hosted 2 one-act plays by two noted American playwrights.

The first play The Golden Fleece written by A.R. Gurney is based upon the Story of Jason and Medea. In the play, a modern day couple face the audience and claim to be in contact with both Jason and Medea--both of whom insist they have encountered offstage. The actors Bill (played by Raymond G. Michaud) and Betty (Holly Hylton) are convincing in their roles.

Wendy Wasserstein wrote the second play, Waiting for Phillip Glass. An East Hampton socialite holds a party for an artist. When Glass does not show up, the other guests are forced to interact with eachother and examine their own lives.

Director Donna M. Wyant writes that "Wasserstein borrows insight from Shakespeare to underscore similarites between the social dysfunction within Elizabethan sociey and that of the social climbing culture of wealthy Long Island Hamptonites, in the late 1990s."

"The playwright builds her argument around Shakespeares's Sonnet 94, by turning to the metaphor of the flower; 'Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.' It fits the party's crowd, wherein the characters want what they can't have, don't want what they have , or want someone who wants someone else."
The action is swift and the acting is precise and sharp.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helping Others to Realize their dream: Microfinancing

Their are countless ways to help the needy which not only empowers the recipient but also the donor.

One such avenue is microfinance.

With a PHD in economics from Vanderbilt University in 1965 , Professor Muhammad Yunus a native of Bangladesh returned to his country and was drawn to poverty reduction having witnessed the famine of 1974 (which had a mortality rate of over 1 million).

While head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University, he visited the nearby town of Jobra and he discovered here that small loans to the impoverished would make a big difference in their lives. He learned that the Jobra women had to pay usurious rates on loans they took to buy bamboo for their furniture making business. All their profits were quickly consumed.

His first loan of $27 to 42 women who each made a profit of (US$0.02) each on the loan was a boon to his country's ease of exporting and importing.

To quote wikipedia: "Yunis believed that given the chance the poor will repay the borrowed money and hence microcredit could be a viable business model."

On October 1, 1983, he founded the Grameen Bank (Village Bank) to make loans to his poor country citizens. As of July 2007, the bank had lent $6.38 billion to 7.4 million borrowers. To insure repayment solidarity groups or " small informal groups apply together for loans and
its members act as co-guarantors of repayment and support one another's efforts at economic self advancement." (Wikipedia)

In 2006, Yunis and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The prize announcemnt reads that he has proven himself capable of translating "visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries."

On March 1, 2010, KETV 7 of Omaha, Nebraska reported that Yunus opened the second branch of the Grameen Bank here in the US; the first branch opened previously in New York City ;
San Franciso will soon be the location of his next branch.

Today, October 27th, Camille Nestor, Vice President of microfinancing programs at Grameen Foundation will be in Greenwich, CT. to discuss how even loans as small as $100 can aid those-- too poor to qualify for traditional loans from commercial banks--to realize their dreams.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October is a Month of Doing Small Deeds

This October has been an unusual month for me.

It started off with my heralding it as an eleemosynary month-- a month of giving to others.

So far, five notable members of our local modern orthodox temple have been bereaved.

This has given me an opportunity of visiting the various mourners who are observing Shiva (the custom of mourners to sit on low chairs to show respect for the deceased, for 7 days)

It is also customary to hold prayer services thrice daily for a week following burial, excluding holidays and the sabbath, at the home of the mourners.

So, I have been showing up for various minyanim (a gathering of ten Jewish men which ensures that the memorial kaddish prayer can be recited during the service) for the last 3 weeks.

It has been a month of giving of my time, my sympathy, my comfort and prayer to ease the pain of each one's loss.

And the process continues tomorrow as I lead a service to commemorate the passing on of my maternal grandfather 59 years ago.

Maria Sharapova once did commercials for Canon during the US Open a number of years ago.
She kept hammering away with her catchy slogan: "Make every shot a power shot."

Maria Sharapova , age 17, playing the power game at Wimbledon, 2004.
She bested Serena Williams 6-1,6-4 to win her first Grand Slam Trophy
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

To paraphrase, I add, "Make every day a power day for doing a small act of kindness for others in need."

And witness the results in your life

Have a great day--every day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Octomom Doctor Testifiies in LA Court About Implanting 12 Embryos in Octomom

Its October, a month of many surprises especially with regard to the Octomom.
As you recall she is Nadya Suleman and she conceived 8 children whose weights averaged anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds.

Well,the fertility Doctor, Dr. Michael Kamrava says he was legally bound to follow his patients wish to implant 12 embryros despite the medically recognized danger to her life that the procedure would involve.

Secondly,he testified under oath that he only found out about the birth of the octoplets--only after she delivered. He claims that she called him from the hospital only after reporters were demanding statements from her.

Is this a credible story that the Doctor expects us to swallow?

Should he be allowed to continue practicing 'medicine?'

Tune in next week as this hearing continues.......

Read the full story and judge for yourself:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stamford Honors its Outstanding Citizens for Their Volunteer Work

Six college- bound young Stamfordites have been awarded $5,000 towards their college education by The Citizen of the Year Scholarship Program .

Each of these citizens has volunteered hundreds of hours at local non-profit agencies such as Kids in Crisis, Keep Stamford Beautiful, the Food Bank, Yerwood Center, Special Olympics, Friendship Circle, Bartlett Arboreteum and Stamford Museum and Nature Center.

The recipients include Jaime Manela, Jyotsna Winsor, Juan Agurto, Jasmine Forbes, Sarah Benjamin and Marissa Friedman.

Stamford Citizen of the Year award was founded in 1945 by the City of Stamford and the Jewish War Veterans Post 142. Recent honorees have included June Rosenthal and DickTaber.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Small Acts of Kindness Build Bridges: Oradell, New Jersey

My blog of October 7th introduced World Smile bring about world harmony by acts of kindness.

Indeed, opportunities arise every day to put smiles on people's faces.

Why just yesterday, my car was being filled up with gas at the Delta station on Kinderkemack Road in River Edge, New Jersey (a state that mandates service station attendants fill 'er up). Two attendants were tending to my car. One took my credit card and the other put the hose to my tank.

Now isn't that service that can put a smile on your face. (Besides, gas is nearly 50 cents a gallon cheaper here than in my state, where I must do the pumping.)

Here in New Jersey not only do I have just one attendant--I've got two. This reminds me of a memorable experience I had at Toyota of Stamford when I went to have a battery replacement done under warranty.

Toyota Logo

(As I was being checked in at 8AM, the service manager asked me to pop the the hood. As soon as I did so, five immaculately clothed mechanics appeared, as if by magic, and each they began serially to check vital fluids windshield washer, brake oil, engine transmission oil and radiator anti-freeze.)

Well, I am briefly digressing to make my point about bringing smilers to people's faces.

As I am about to drive away here in Oradell, one of the attendants asks me if I driving one mile north and I nod . "Come on in," I respond.

As we drive north, I learn that his name his Sieni and is a native Punjabi. (Punjab, he explains, is the disputed territory that lies between India and Pakistan) He tells me he is permanently settled here while his family is back there. His wife works in 'nearby' India and will join him in two months when she retires from her job.

Sieni asks me if I am still working and I respond affirmatively. We discuss the importance of having family near you.

Though I am driving, I notice that he is dressed in a turban, sports a beard on his dark skin and is quite conversant in English.

I drop him off in Oradell; he thanks me and I wish him good luck.

Now isn't that a pleasant tale to promote good will and understanding and to create smilers for all us humble 'journeymen'?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Today is World Smile Day

Harvey Ball with Smiley Face Image

Are you smiling?

Today has been designated World Smile Day by Harvey Ball of Worcestor, Massachusetts. He felt that one day a year should be devoted to smiling and doing acts of kindness; so, he began the first celebration on October 1, 1999.

"I made a circle with a smile for a mouth on yellow paper because it was a shiney and bright" he said in a 1966 interview with the Associated Press.

Ball is a commercial artist who first created the smiley face in 1963; he was hired by State Mutual Life Assurance Company as a free lancer to design a smiling face to boost company morale following a merger to two insurance companies. Its popularity grew slowly and then in the 1970's it exploded becoming very popular.

A stamp with the smiley face has been issued by the US Post Office.

So, have you done your act of kindness yet?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Global Word of the Month is Eleemosynary: What Does it Signify?

Our Word of the Month can be spelled in two ways: Eleemosynary as above or elimosinary.

Take your pick. The word derives from the Latin eleemosynarius which means of or relating to charity.

So, starting this October and continuing each and every day thereof (and next month, too) let's make it a a month of giving.

Our elimosinary actions need not be limited to cash donations to charities of our choice: the March of Dimes, The American Cancer Society, our local foodbanks, the homeless shelters, our churches, synagogues and mosques.

Our elimosinary activities can also include visiting the sick, lifting up the spirits of unemployed family members and friends, finding time to encourage and help our children with their studies, donating time to various fund raising activities such as thrift shops, auctions, car washes, etc.

It's a great month to give to others what we are so fortunate to have received ourselves.

So, let's go do it!