Archive for February, 2014

WE OWE IT TO OUR VETERANS

Posted in PERSONAL with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2014 by drjgelb

From Forbes Magazine 24th February 2014

Companies Need To Help America’s Military Veterans Get Back To Work

By TIM MCCLAIN

On a hot Annapolis afternoon in the summer of 1966, I stood alongside hundreds of other young men on the grounds of the U.S Naval Academy.

I raised my right hand and took an oath, swearing that I would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”” No one who takes an oath like that ever knows what awaits him or her. But it felt good, felt right, to take that oath, to make that commitment to this country, its freedom and its people.

My own military career is long over. I’ve watched the members of a new generation rise to the challenge of supporting and defending America. Now, the time has come for the rest of us to rise to the challenge of helping veterans successfully transition from military to civilian life.

Twelve U.S. service veterans commit suicide every single day. That’s unacceptable. Others struggle with depression, bankruptcies and other crippling issues. Unemployment among veterans is high, standing at 17.4 percent in late 2013 among veterans 18-24 years old. The reasons for these troubles vary; every veteran has his or her own story, but many face common challenges that we, as a society, should do more to address.

Leaving the military can be a much more dramatic lifestyle change than moving and changing jobs. Compared to the civilian world, the culture, values and organizing principles of the military are different – more formal and hierarchical, with extensive rules governing personal and professional conduct. In a way, the military’s structure provides comfort; you know where things are and how the system operates.

When you leave that regimented world, you’re on your own. This is a particular challenge for newly discharged veterans who entered the service at age 18 and spent their first adult years in this environment. For them, picking a daycare, applying for a home loan, or conducting a job search can be daunting. Many veterans are also functioning with health challenges, like physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of their service.

Even simple interactions can require a change in mindset. I oversee Humana’s Veterans Hiring Initiative, which has led to the hiring of more than 1,500 veterans and military spouses, in part as a response to President Obama’s call for businesses to help address veteran unemployment. One veteran we hired, a former U.S. Army Fire Control Platoon Leader, recounted unexpected issues she faced in transitioning to corporate America, such as how to write an email. As opposed to the “Dear Sir” salutations she wrote in the military, she felt disoriented when she received emails with smiley faces from people she didn’t know.

The government’s Joining Forces program – which assists in the hiring efforts, as well as education, wellness and other initiatives – provides a necessary base to ease the transitions of these brave men and women. Now it is up to the rest of us – especially business leaders – to carry the torch.

One step companies can take to help transition veterans is to create an internal support organization. At Humana, we formed the Veterans Network Resource Group, which serves as a clearinghouse, information center and connecting point for veterans, companywide.

We’ve also taken inspiration from the Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations that are taking steps to create a community of care around veterans and their families, such as the Augusta Warrior Project, Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities and Charlotte Bridge Home.

However, the truth is that none of these are enough to give veterans the support required.

Quite simply, they need you – your talent, compassion, network, resourcefulness, patriotism and help. Veterans often struggle to ask for help, even when they deserve it. So, I will.

If you know any recently discharged veterans, talk to them about the transition process. Thank them for their service. Ask how it’s going – be sincere – and if there’s anything you can do. Do it.

Keep your eyes open for job applicants with military experience. For some roles, finding the right candidate is as much about qualities – like leadership, dedication and perseverance – as qualifications. If your organization doesn’t have a veterans hiring program, ask about starting one.

Of course, you have no obligation to do any of this, just like veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan had no obligation to take an oath to protect our country. But they did it anyway, knowing the decision might cost them their lives.

I’m not asking you to put your life on the line or take an oath. All I’m asking is that we acknowledge that these veterans have shown us their dedication to this country. It’s time we showed them ours.

THE DEPRAVITY OF CREATIONISTS

Posted in ONLINE DEBATE with tags , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2014 by drjgelb

Hats off to Mark Joseph Stern and his recent article in Slate, entitled “The Cruelty of Creationsim”. The article finally pitches itself at the Creationists not only for their delusional fundamentalism but also for their depraved goal of indoctrinating children to take their twisted logic into the future. Here is the article. Please share it with your friends.

Intellectual freedom is one of humanity’s greatest gifts—and biggest burdens. Our ability to ask questions, to test ideas, to doubt is what separates us from our fellow animals. But doubt can be as terrifying as it is liberating. And it’s the terror of doubt that fosters the toxic, life-negating cult of creationism.

That fear is on full display throughout HBO’s new documentary Questioning Darwin, which features a series of intimate interviews with biblical fundamentalists. Creationism, the documentary reveals, isn’t a harmless, compartmentalized fantasy. It’s a suffocating, oppressive worldview through which believers must interpret reality—and its primary target is children. For creationists, intellectual inquiry is a sin, and anyone who dares to doubt the wisdom of their doctrine invites eternal damnation. That’s the perverse brilliance of creationism, the key to its self-perpetuation: First it locks kids in the dungeon of ignorance and dogmatic fundamentalism. Then it throws away the key.

And that dungeon is much darker than most Americans realize. The creationists interviewed in Questioning Darwin—including their abominable doyen, Ken Ham, a wily businessman who is already fundraising off his ill-conceived recent debate with Bill Nye—returned again and again to the same depressing subjects. Death, suffering, pain, sorrow, disease: These, creationists inform us, are what await any skeptic, anyone who questions the word of God. Pastor Joe Coffey neatly sums up their objections to natural selection:

If all we are is a product of this random mutation process, then where does morality come from? Where does hope come from? Where does love come from? Where does anything that makes us a human being really come from?
The answer, to creationists, is simple: There is no love, no humanity, in a world with evolution. Humans must have been designed by God; if we weren’t, then we’re mere animals, lacking in morality and dignity, consigned to a pitiful and pointless life of struggle and dolor. Evolution, one true believer informs us, is “incompatible with biblical Christianity” because it recognizes the permanence of death and leaves no room for a second coming. Creationists are consumed by repressing the existential panic that often attends acceptance of reality. Instead of confronting that terror, they’ve retreated into an elaborate fantasy.

So deep is their delusion, in fact, that many creationists are perfectly willing to acknowledge their abandonment of reality—on camera. “Truth is not an assimilation of information,” insists one fundamentalist in Questioning Darwin, explaining why no amount of evidence could change his mind about human evolution. “There’s one truth, and that’s found in the Bible.” A creationist pastor takes this illogic to its harrowing extreme, freely conceding that he would perform endless mental gymnastics to justify the seemingly unjustifiable conclusions of biblical text.

Creationists brainwash their own children and push their creed into public schools across the country.
“If somewhere in the Bible I were to find a passage that says two plus two equals five,” the pastor states plainly, “I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible. I would believe it—accept it as true and then do my best to work it out and to understand it.”

This ideology might seem fairly benign. And it’s true that, by itself, creationism damages only those who choose to believe it. But here lies the true peril of the dogma: No creationist is content to keep her beliefs to herself. Creationists don’t merely proselytize; they brainwash their own children and push their creed into public schools across the country. Creationists teach their children not only that evolution is evil, but that studying evolution, even thinking about it, is a sin that leads the soul to eternal damnation.

“What [Darwin] has done is worse than murder,” proclaims one creationist in the documentary. “All the death and suffering we see here isn’t the result of a creator God,” says another. “It’s sin”—such as the acceptance of evolution. (He doesn’t explain how so much death occurred before the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.) Creationists spend countless hours telling their children that scientists and biology teachers are spouting the devil’s lies. Creationism is a mental prison with no hope of release, for the only escape hatch—intellectual inquiry—has been sealed off by years of suppression.

The conflict between creationism and evolution is, to many believers, an all-out war between God’s word and humans’ sins. That’s why parents are so determined to prepare their children for battle. One mother in Questioning Darwin home-schools her children to prepare them to defend their creationist beliefs against secular “attacks.” We see pastors casting an ominous eye over their congregations, warning them of the horrors of the Darwinian worldview and the hellfire that awaits those who are lured into its trap. Creationists discuss evolution with a combination of abject fear and muffled rage, ranting that natural selection sounds “crazy” while calmly asserting that Adam and Eve shared Eden with vegetarian dinosaurs. They blame Darwin for Hitler (a time-honored smear) as well as for drug use, murder, and an endless parade of horribles. Question the Bible, creationists tell their children, and you will soon be drowning in barbarity.

This view isn’t benign or wacky: It’s poisonous and medieval. Creationists reject not just evolution but most of the Enlightenment and pretty much all intellectual development since. Rather than celebrate the brilliance of the human mind, they disparage free thought as dangerous and sinful. Instead of extolling the virtues of creativity and imagination, they malign all unorthodox ideas as immoral and wicked. For all creationists’ insistence that evolution denigrates humanity, creationism is fundamentally anti-human, commanding us to spurn our own logic and cognition in favor of absurd sophism derived from a 3,000-year-old text. It turns our greatest ability—to reason—into our greatest enemy. Using our brains, according to creationism, will lead us to sin; only mindless piety can keep us on the track to salvation.

It’s easy to scoff at all this, to giggle at the vivid weirdness of young Earth creationism and then shrug it off as an isolated cult. But the 40 percent of Americans who reject evolution, as well as the tens of thousands of children or more who are being brainwashed with it in publicly funded classrooms, aren’t laughing. Creationism is built to metastasize; those who believe it won’t rest until everyone else believes it, too. True believers yearn for the rest of us to be locked up in the same mental prison where they have consigned themselves and their children. They insist that evolution has robbed us of our humanity. But in reality, it’s their twisted gospel that aims to strip us of the very thing that makes us human.

CANBERRA MOTHERS OUTRAGED AT INADEQUATE SENTENCE FOR CHILD RAPIST

Posted in GUN CONTROL, CRIMINAL JUSTICE & THE HORRORS OF THE ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM! with tags , , , , on February 2, 2014 by drjgelb

FROM SHAUNA ANDERSON ON MAMMAMIA: 31ST JANUARY 2014

    In four-and a half years this man could be near your child.

    In four-and a half years he could be near my now two-year-old daughter.

    In four-and a half years this man could offend again.

    But a group of Canberra Mums want to stop him.

    The case has caused outrage – justifiably – amoungst Canberra residents. A serial child molester sentenced to just seven-and-a-half years in jail for the public rape of a three-year old girl.

    A three-year old girl reading picture books at 1.30 in the afternoon.

    Eligible for parole in four-and–a-half years.

    It was September when known sex offender Shane Williams was making his way to a police station for his annual sex offender check-in – high on drugs he stopped at Canberra’s Belconnen Library to use the toilets.

    The ABC report that he was looking at books when a three-year-old girl – not yet wise on stranger danger – made her way over to him and said hello.

    The child’s mother was just metres away using a computer and did not initially notice that her daughter had wandered off.

    When her mother looked up her world changed.

    Williams had asked the three-year old to sit down. He had removed her pants – and his clothing – and he was sexually assaulting her.

    Her mother screamed as she found him crouched behind her daughter.

    Williams ran off – but several days later police found and arrested him.

    He confessed.

    He was known to police – well known.

    Williams had been convicted of offences against children five times in the past, and had repeatedly returned to such crimes upon release from prison.

    On Wednesday in the ACT Supreme Court, prosecutor Sara Gul described the attack as despicable.

    “It’s clear that he is a significant danger to the community,”

    “He really is what can only be described as a chronic child molester.”

    The ABC report that Williams’ lawyer James Sabharwal agreed the attack was concerning and offered his client’s only excuse that he was both drunk and high on drugs at the time.

    “The only saving grace I can put to your honour is that the little girl was not required to give evidence,” Mr Sabharwal said.

    Chief Justice Helen Murrell said it was difficult to know if the victim would suffer any future impacts from the assault.

    At the time of the rape the “chronic child molester” was on bail for bashing his neighbour.

    For both the assault and the rape, Williams received a 25 per cent discount on his sentence for pleading guilty.

    25% off the rape of a three-year old girl.

    25% off the destruction of a family.

    Yes you read that right – 25% OFF HIS SENTENCE.

    You can understand the horrified reactions of the community of Canberra Mums on Facebook.

    For those of us who do not live in Canberra it could be easy to take the NIMBY approach – he’s not in my backyard this can’t affect me.

    But these Mums are imploring other mothers to help them make sure it’s not in their backyard either.

    The group, Canberra Mums have set up an online petition to change the laws.

    Comments ranged from the angry to the appalled, to those wanting to take action now.

    “OUTRAGEOUS!!!! This isn’t a boxing day sale to be offering him a discount!” wrote one.

    Another: “How dare he do this to anyone’s child and how dare the judge only sentence him for this short amount of time.”

    “The Supreme Court has well and truly failed this time and it’s also sad to see the first female chief minister of the Supreme Court give an absolutely ridiculous sentence like this”

    Thousands of angry parents – desperate to make a change.

    The petition says it will be presented to “every official and government representative in Canberra and the Federal Government” once it collects 5000 supporters.

    “The laws need to be changed to better protect our children,” the petition said.

    “Please sign this petition write, call, post, tweet, shout from the rooftops and tell everyone just how outrageous this sentence is.

    “Please stand with us in condemning a legal system that has failed to protect our children and potentially in 4.5 years will again see other children in danger from a known serial offender.”

    Over 3500 signatures have been collected already.

    MY COMMENT IS BUT ONE OF MANY:

    Let’s be really clear, 85% of MP’s are lawyers. They formulate the laws we all live under and guess what…….the Attorney General, Judges, Director of Public Prosecutions etc. are all lawyers too! Sentences are set by politicians who are almost all lawyers. So why do lawyers write such poor legislation, cram our jails with non-violent drug users despite so many lawyers using drugs themselves and yet fail so miserably to protect our and their children? The least well served groups in the community when it comes to justice are the elderly, women, children, the mentally ill and the disabled……..can you see a pattern yet people? The least politically powerful groups, the least vocal, the least likely to protest severely when ignored by the state. If we want all these lawyers, who literally control our day to day lives, to sit up and take notice, then groups that rarely stand up have to shout loudly from all over the country and demand that politicians legislate for the toughest sentences possible for child rapists…….not to deter them because it doesn’t, but to get them permanently off our streets!!!