Exclusive: Trayvon Martin’s Mom: ‘If They Refuse to Hear Us, We Will Make Them Feel Us’

TIME

To The Brown Family,

I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.

I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence. Of particular concern is that so many of these gun violence cases involve children far too young. But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. Our children are…

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Robin Williams – Carpe Diem, Carpe Noctem

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Robin William 1951-2014

Robin Williams the famed actor and comedian has passed at 63 years of age from a suicide.

Williams was and is the voice and face of many childhoods. In many ways he inspired hope, happiness, and compassion to millions, even I felt a twinge of my childhood darkening with his death.

Depression can kill a man just as painfully as a bullet. Depression is the eternal light flickering and fading in the recesses of a man’s mind. It can drive those to madness, and some eternally blind.

I thought suicide was an option for the meek, but Robin Williams was not a weak man. He fought addiction against cocaine and alcohol, and he himself said it made him do regrettable things. It was depression that killed him, not addiction. He was strong enough to fight off carnal urges, he relapsed and started drinking, but he knew where it took him especially drugs, and he knew he dare not gaze back into that abyss.

I don’t mean to think his death is more profound than others but understand this.

During his time of death Williams had money, a family and fame. Some regard him as selfish for suicide because he had everything he needed. I have come to find those who see him as selfish are the meek. Money and fame will not fill the gaping holes at the bottom of your heart, they may fulfill those carnal pleasures, but money does not equal happiness. I understand money means something in a first world country, but I’ve learned too much of its history and the lives of men it ruined to even think it is what is necessary in this world. Once a man can understand the value of the wisdom and beauty will money be his secondary currency.

Fame is no different from money. Robin Williams died of depression, you think he cared how famous he was? I never understood why the most famous names come from the entertainment industry. This may sound contradictory, but how do the headlines of some Hollywood actor become more important than the death of 1,000 in the Middle East or the execution of an African American in broad daylight. The Roman poet Juvenal lamented “bread and circuses”

We are not talking about Robin Williams new child or movie but his death. I find it appropriate to let a man have a moment of sorrow in this world.

Family is the most rigorous to understand, because family can be the only solace for some. Still, we do not live to act as medicine for people, nor do we live forever. Everything in the world has it’s opposite pull, a tension that people live and die for.

I might be looking into his death too much, but the world lost an influential spirit.  I’m biased because his films taught me life is rather rare and to live in society’s demand is a wasted effort. Unfortunately I’ve learned death is common among all – rich or poor, famous or infamous, black or white, lovers or cynic.

I think Williams understood all this. He understood the world. That it wasn’t fucked up from the start, the world will be however it will be. It leaves us to decide in the end after all.

Don’t Let Mike Brown Die In Vain

There has been a lot flowing on the media waves. A lot of it is unfortunately death.

I can hardly understand why the media does what they do, but the truth eventually forces its way out.

The murder of Mike Brown, an 18 year old African American teen who was murdered by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Apparently, Brown was walking back with a friend from a convenience store, when a police officer Darren Wilson while in his vehicle harassed Brown physically, then shot him point blank. Brown’s friend fled the scene, and Brown wounded tried to scramble away, Brown fell to his knees with his hands raised begging “don’t shoot”. The officer shot Brown, and then his body 6-10 times. This account has come from two separate witnesses at the scene of the incident. I have to mention that this may not be the truth, but I understand what piecing things together means. Brown’s body was left on the street for a few hours – these images can be found online (Not for the faint of the heart)

In an official statement made on August 15th from the Ferguson police after staying silent for a week, but not afraid of voicing violence towards protesters – Mike Brown is being tied to a robbery at a convenience store. Footage from the store has been released with a man in a red hat supposedly Mike Brown. The footage is not the clearest, nor what will end the protest, but vindictively may strike them up again.

In a New York Times article many are seeing the police evidence as a cover-up of Mike Brown’s execution. On a different foot, at the very core of the issue it is an unfettering of the racist foundations this country was built on. What makes this completely inane is that it is 2014, and the humanitarian effort is shrinking. Is it religion that separates us as seeing each other as equal humans? is it politics? is it wealth? Or is it pure hate. Nothing in this world can be changed without an even greater force to prevail the opposing force.

What is happening in the world?

Living in America these past few days, I’ve witnessed a staggering amount of news, that their really isn’t words for.

In the Ukraine a civilian Malaysian airliner – MH17 was shot down with a surface to air missile killing roughly 300 people. With only evidence and finger pointing, most of them are pointed at Russia. The missile allegedly was the work of Pro-Russian rebels/Russian backed rebels. Thus, President Putin is in the hot seat. It’s a tricky situation as the passengers who were killed were from all over the world – Britain, Australia, and Asia.

 

Gaza Strip under fire

In other news you may have not realized the atrocious war that is raging between Hamas, in the Gaza Strip and Israel. It’s difficult to begin on where it all started without it being an overwhelming history lesson. Therefore, summing it up will be a paltry attempt. Sources would contribute it to Hamas, the extreme military group, in their recent episode of murdering three teenage Jewish boys. It set off the violent counterattack from the Israel prime minister Netanyahu. In response, Israel unleashed hell upon Gaza. Weapons of death  – rocket propelled grenades, tanks, missiles, bombs, airstrikes, ground troops. The death toll of a recent update in Gaza Strip was estimated around 690 with 4.500 people injured. The majority of that death toll is mainly civilian causalities. Hamas actually puts a lot of their civilians at risk, and they actually tell them not to evacuate areas that are going to be airstrike-ed or bombed , even when warning shots are sent out. Hamas even uses civilian areas to house weapons or fire missiles from, but far worst is Hamas choice to use human civilians as a shield. Israel is bringing it’s sense of “justice” to Hamas, with warnings they told civilians to evacuate to Gaza City, and it’s hell there, too. Jon Stewart said it best to sum up the evacuation situations “Israel blocks this border, Egypt blocks this border. What are they supposed to do, swim for it?” Evacuation is a short lived choice for those caught in a war.

In Taiwan, an airplane went down trying to land in bad weather, during a typhoon. 47 are feared to be dead. A bomb went off in  Kaduna, Nigeria killing at least 82 people, it was an assassination attempt at Sheik Dahiru Bauchi – an Islamic cleric.

I’m bewildered this is all happening in other parts of the world. While I simply just observe.

EDIT: New report  by NY Post that Hamas wasn’t behind the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. Apparently, committed by a rouge group. Israeli refused a truce, they are going to expand ground troops operations in heed of the civilian causalities.

Isla Vista Massacre – Elliot Rodgers

Elliot Rodgers killed four men and two women this weekend.

He stabbed his roommates to death including a visitor. He then went on a spree and killed three more while injuring 13 others.

I have been reading multiple articles about the killer and the victims. The perpetrator Rodgers was labeled as a misogynist, narcissist, and mentally unstable person. His primitive hate of women floundered from his raging envy and lust for love. A love which he twisted in his own ideas  of jealously. For instance, Rodgers wrote a 100,000 word story about this premeditated rampage and detailed rants about couples who look happier than him. He would throw his beverages on couples and revel in the satisfaction. He has earned himself a certain limelight as the man that women come to fear and push the stigma and distrust of all men.

Rodgers purchased an arsenal of three guns and seemed to lack the most basic psychological attention. I don’t intend to ostracize the parents of Rodgers, but because you send your child to therapy, a nice school, or give him a BMW it doesn’t mean anything. It teaches children that happiness is founded in material desire which has a litany of consequences. In the records on his purchases, Rodgers was engrossed in obtaining wealth and winning the lottery became his last hope of becoming a man girls would like.

I’m most devastated for the victims.

It’s 2014 and another white male U.S. citizen has went on another shooting rampage. How many more will it take for us to look at guns with an image of disdain at what it achieves? Where are the good guys with a gun going to get the bad guy before it happens? Whether it be in Aurora, Sandy Hook, or a Muslim temple? When will people learn just because it is rooted in tradition doesn’t mean that it was ever be a good tradition to begin with.

 

 

Opinions on Healthcare from a Philosopher

The assignment was to create three questions regarding healthcare then find someone you don’t know to answer these questions.

I interviewed Philosophy professor Shane Gronholz; I take Shane’s Philo 1001 class, but I’ve never been to his office hours or had a conversation outside of class. In my mind I really didn’t know him all to well except for the lessons in philosophy.

Prior to the interview I learned Shane was still in graduate school getting his Ph.D in Philosphy, and has been teaching for three years at Cu Boulder.

VG: Should all Americans have the right to healhcare?

SG: Okay so as a philosopher, the first thing I want to do is draw a distinction between a legal right and a moral right. So….I think for the moral question it’s a very difficult question – If someone is just born with a right to healthcare. I am actually inclined to be pretty skeptical of that claim because I don’t really know what ground such a right or where that comes from. And well also I’m actually pretty suspicious of rights anyway. Rights aren’t my favorite thing to talk about and sometimes I’m like I don’t even think there are such a thing as rights. But obviously there are legal rights and I do think we should all have a right to healthcare…I’m talking as a philosopher. Even if I don’t think there is any such thing as a moral right I think it’s good… I’ll just say I’m for single payer and universal healthcare.

VG: Healthcare has been seen by some as a socialist practice grouped along with food stamps, welfare, and housing subsidies. Do you think it would disrupt economic productivity because of offering free healthcare? Care to elaborate?

SG: No. I guess some people might say like well if some people don’t need their job to have healthcare maybe they’d quit. But there is also a good component about that if people are only staying at there job for that reason then there are bad things associated with that. So for the most part no, but this is an empirical question to some degree but has there been disruption? The things that I read mainly say no, but there are people who get upset, but I don’t know if its harm to the economy so far and I don’t have any reason to think it.

VG: The Affordable Care Act it taxes higher income such as individuals who make over $200,000, families who make over $250,000, and big business that make over $250,000. Do you think this is justified?

SG: Yeah…so…yes I do I think it is justified and I am in favor of it. I am not a full blown consequentialist to use terms from class but I lean heavily towards that way. The argument to that is supposed to be you know you’re just basically taking money away form us to help other people and if we want to donate to a charity then fine, but you’re basically saying you have to give me money to care for these other people. And so some people think there is something wrong with that but I just don’t really care about that. If you have a lot of money…I mean (sigh) yeah the consequences are just so much better if we do that. Yeah they’ll have a little bit less money but the good that can be done. Are there rights being violated in some way? I guess but not in a way that I care about that much.

VG: That’s very utilitarianist.
SG: Yeah yeah so I’m not a utilitarian but in my the majority of cases the utilitarian answer is the best one.

VG: Even in the case that you made $300,000 and you were taxed you would be fine with that?
SG: Yeah I would be fine with it….in fact well this again goes back to like I think if you’re a good utilitarian it might be hard in a lot of those cases to make those sacrifices. So what would be the best is if we just vote for utilitarian policies ’cause then it kind of compels you to do it, and it makes sure everybody else does it. So it makes sure nobody is having to do more than they should. I’m sounding like a better person than I am, but I am always in favor of higher taxes for better social programs even if I am made worse off.

VG: Even if it is imposed on lower income and middle income families?
SG: Well because of diminishing margin utility like the more you have the less it hurts you when it’s taken away.  So I do think it does matter…so that’s why I think it makes perfect sense like to have higher taxes on the rich; because they’re gonna miss it less. If it was taxes on the middle class…at this point it would be cost benefit analysis. On one hand, I would be taxed higher but then it would be making up for money that I would already be losing through my paycheck if that is going to healthcare or if I am on private insurance plan. Even if I am taxed more as a middle class person….this is really making it simple economically if it turns out that yeah I am taxed higher, but now I get free healthcare especially if it’s like single payer then that would be just a wash or I might just benefit from that.

 

 

 

Commercialism Ruins Everything Even Everest

Michael Kodas writes a poignant book accounting the horrific crimes that happen 8,000 meters high, aptly named High Crimes: The Fate of Everest In An Age of Greed. Kodas an award winning journalist with a Pulitzer under his belt, does a remarkable job reporting and story telling detailing bittersweet expeditions in 2004 and 2006 to Everest’s deadly summit. One about Nils Antezana, a 69 year-old American who’s ambitious mountaineering hobby naively drove him to attempt the mountain on it’s south side from Nepal. Nils would eventually meander to the summit but on his descent was stricken from health problems and abandoned by his guide Gustavo Lisi, and sherpas (Tibetan locals who act as guides and porters for mountain climbers). The disappearance of Nils Antezana was deeply investigated by Fabiola Antezana his daughter who spawned a journalistic career after looking into her father’s death. Simultaneously in 2004 on the North side from Tibet, was Michael Kodas at the time reporting as a journalist for the The Hartford Courant taking part on the Connecticut Everest Expedition team providing coverage as the team reaches the summit.

The expedition would flabbergast not just the Connecticut team but Everest in itself. The expedition team leader being led by Romanian-bred George Dijmarescu, who was Kodas neighbor and his wife Carolyn Moreau who also took part in the Connecticut expedition team. In 2006, Kodas decided to return for another shot at an expedition to the summit but due to health problems and bad weather it didn’t happen. The reveal in both Nils and Kodas accounts is the conclusive problem that plagues Everest – the greed of man. The amount of crime Kodas discovers happening atop the mountain especially at Base Camp is nothing short of theft, drugs, extortion, prostitution and violence. While Nils Antezana would deal with problems of avarice in Everest. Gustavo Lisi, the guide Nils paid for to arrange the expedition would turn out to be selfish and irresponsible for his actions and with falsified experience sadly unknown to Nils. Nils would pay with his life as Lisi headed his way to the apex of the mountain. Accounts from Nils’s diary on the trek to the summit would yield a deteriorated relationship wishlist, his guide that would leave Nils the 69 year old man to fend for himself.

High Crime is not just two stories of an adventurous expedition gone wrong but a plethora of accounts on the choices people have chosen out of glory that rest atop the summit of Everest. Kodas goes to extensive lengths to get interviews and coverage in the novel pieced together like a crescendo to keep the reader anxious of every character and journey up on the mountain.The process of verifying facts on a mountain 29,000 ft. high was no easy task for Kodas. His primary sources were witness accounts even though armed to the teeth with media technology it would not suffice. What goes on in the mountain could only be deciphered with first hand and second accounts by the witnesses luckily enough to offer their side of the story. A chilling surprise about Everest that is the amount of corpses that appear on the mountain. Some of the most questionable information came when climbers or Sherpas recalled seeing a missing climber on the mountain and either gave up on their climb and rescued them or left them for dead and went on their way.

Death and violence on Everest is devastatingly real as Kodas uncovers the savage tactics of climbers cutting the ropes of other climbers, throwing tents off the mountain, robbery, and tensions that end in physical violence. The first hand account provided by Kodas offers surreal insight into the derailing Connecticut expedition. He relives a haunting moment between Dijmarescu and Laphka in a firsthand narrative:

“George [hooked] a blow with his right hand into the side of his wife’s head. The rest of the Connecticut team saw Laphka crumple onto the rocky ground just inside the door. She cried hysterically as George grabbed the scruff of her coat…”I’ll show you how to get this piece of garbage out of here,” George shouted, grabbing his unconscious wife and throwing her onto the rocks outside”. ( 223)

Dijmarescu would be the “expedition team leader” accompanied with his wife to lead the Connecticut Everest Expedition and proved to be the type of guides that mountaineers with prestige would deplore.

Ascending Everest has always seemed a worthwhile pursuit but what comes with fame follows the instinct of ambition. Everest has undergone serious problems of commercializing for it’s ambitious goal to reach the summit where others strive for the purpose of exploration and wonder it becomes stagnated by the rudimentary principal of greed. Everest has become in a way the get-rich quick scheme for those adventurous enough, those that are successful enough to reach the summit and descend, are revered as “World Class Mountaineer”. Others “transformed into motivational speakers, authors, television personalities, sponsored athletes, mountain guides, or “life coaches” (11). Learning about the stories of Nils and Kodas as they are unveiled piece by piece illuminating the on going crime on Everest. Kodas captures the hidden lawless underworld that exist on Everest, he goes so far into his investigating that it puts his own life at stake.

Kodas a veteran journalist upholds an investigative standard in his writing and that certainly adds to the story telling element within the novel. It gives the reader an unreal sensibility of the decline on Everest as it turns into a mountain of sins. The factors contributing to the decline are numerous: the Chinese and Tibetan governments lack of authority in the mountains. Culturally, the impact Everest has brought to local inhabitants may have brought tourism to the country but it also brings in pollution, inexperienced and zealous climbers, and criminal activity. The economic factors behind climbing Everest are another concern. Expeditions are not cheap, and if there was anything to take from David Sharp, a British mountaineer that realized his “toes are worth more than $35 apiece” when he decided to not haul out for warmer boots, then lost his toes to frostbite climbing to the summit and his life. People pay more than an arm and a leg in money for guides and Sherpa to lead an expedition to reach the summit with the most capable and experienced of climbers but the problem in the business underlined by Kodas is that many guides take people with no experience and then attempt to climb Everest and for some climbers it becomes their graves. Kodas does more than tell a dramatic story on a climb to Everest he did what any great journalist does reveal the truth. Every detail disclosed in the book contributes to the point that the principles of mountaineering and in some situations human morality are lost on Everest.

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in crime or environmental awareness. The pace of the story really keeps the pages flipping,and it is easy to visualize the thrill of Everest from the perspective of Kodas. This.This form of journalism is the type we need to be reminded of exist when anyone mentions the word journalism or question journalism is dead.High Crimes keeps hard hitting investigation at its sharpest edge it is more than a quick PSA about Everest it is a lesson in man’s nature not one to admire but one that we may never have been aware of to begin with.