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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

In America we take so many things for granted.  If we get sick, we go to the pharmacy and pick up over the counter medication that can help us get well.  Other times, we go to the doctor and get prescription medicine to help us get well from an infection or sickness.  We are blessed.  We have instant access to information to help keep ourselves well.

The best thing is that we have been taught that washing our hands well with soap can help to keep us healthy.  We have access to soap and water on a regular basis.  Not everyone is so lucky.  What they don’t know and don’t have access to can harm them or kill them.  Soap and water save lives and there is a Global Soap Project that you may not be aware of to get soap into the hands of people who are in need of it, to stay well.  To continue click here.

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     If you were traveling through a poverty striken area and you had a baby of your own that you were still nursing…could you walk away from a hungry newborn baby that had nothing to eat?  Actress Salma Hayek was in Sierra Leone on a humanitarian mission…she nursed an African newborn who was starving because his mother could not produce milk for her child.  Salma was moved to feed that child.  She talked about his eyes lighting up as he began to feel the nutrition flow into his body.  She was moved in her heart to feed him; because i believe that a nursing mother can’t ignore a hungry baby that is crying out in his/her need;  that is called basic human compassion.  Still, you would think that we all had that in abundance; but, not always so, some would run the other way as quickly as they could go.

       This moment was captured on film by the news crew of  “Nightline”  who were along on the trip for Unicef , to promote the importance of tetanus vaccines.   Unicef and Pampers have a campaign called 1 Pack=1Vaccine; Salma is a spokeswoman for Pampers.  www.unicefusa.org or www.pampers.com/unicef 

         I love the message of what Salma did; purely from the standpoint of, if you see a need fill it.  Salma still is breastfeeding her own child who is approximately 1 year old.  She understands the importance of, the nutritional value as well as the bonding value of, breastfeeding. 

         Surely there will be those individuals who will criticize her for what she did.  There will be naysayers who will bring up the issue of aids and to the  possible exposure to her health or that of her own child.  They will say that she did this as a publicity stunt, or for the attention.  Some will say in the larger scheme of things…did that one feeding make a difference; will it save the life of that child.   I believe it made a difference.  I believe an African woman saw an American woman with heart.  I believe a baby felt fulfillment, comfort, and love.  I pray that the mother and child received more help.  A world saw a desperate moment and an act of love.

          I say, she was in the moment.  She saw a child in need; she felt the despair of a mother who could not provide for her child the most basic necessity in life at that time for her child; she did what she was able to do.  I love that she didn’t think twice.  Those who have been blessed in life and find themselves around others in need have a responsibility to share.  I respect Salma for doing it so very naturally.  There are so many in need around the world…what can you do to make a difference?

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      The news is full of reports of two suspects being held in an alleged extortion attempt of John Travolta.  John and his wife Kelly Preston lost their only son Jett in the Bahamas at the start of the new year.  There has been little information released about the extortion plan; however, it does appear that an ambulance driver is allegedy one of the people being held in police custody.   Reports also say that an attorney is being held for questioning as well by the police.  I am sure more information will be revealed in time.

         Extortion is usually about money; whatever the plan was…it is happening at a terrible time.   The family is still grieving the loss of their son Jett.   Some people seem to take joy in other people’s pain.  The Bahamas is a beautiful place to visit…but it is turning into a place associated with celebrities and their nightmares.  This could have a major impact on travelors or tourism if this investigation is not properly handled.  That would make me sad as it is one of the most beautiful places i have ever traveled to.

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       Slavery exists even today; i know that that sounds like an inflammatory statement but it is true.  It is just not talked about in any kind of real, life changing way.  I read a book recently which opens up a whole new way of looking at the world.  It is rather frightening.  Slavery exists today in what is called, modern day slavery….human trafficking.  People are bought and sold all over the world…but, it is not a subject that has been addressed in the fullness that it needs to be; to face it and, attempt to overcome it.

        The book is called, A Crime So Monstrous; it was written by author Benjamin Skinner; published in 2008.  He has traveled to places around the globe to educate and inform the world of the human injustice that is perpetrated against those who are vulnerable, and can not fight back without help.  It is a moral call to action.  Once your eyes have been opened up to the extent of the evil that is human trafficking…you will never look at the world in the same way.  Children, women, men, young and old…it doesn’t matter…crimes against humanity should never be tolerated.

        So what is modern slavery-human trafficking?  It is the forced sale of human beings to be used and abused.  There are many forms of it…from sexual slavery, prostitution, forced labor, to forced child marriages and the list goes on.  There are very real networks that cross continents buying and selling humans against their will; it impacts well over 800,000 individuals a year.   Sometimes repeatedly; without concern for the well-being of those who are being transferred like a piece of property.  It is illegal, it is immoral and it doesn’t stop there…sometimes, in many cases it is multi-generational.  In those cases, debt forces multiple generations to work to pay off debts…doing hard labor, with little or no pay.  In conditions not suitable for proper human living conditions.  Often, violence is used to coerce people to do things against their will.  They do not get proper food, shelter, health care or healthy human interaction.  It is not right.  Many of the victims are the most vulnerable in society…the weak, the poor, the disabled, the homeless, and those who are without protectors.

        Do you think it doesn’t affect you?   What if it was happening in your town?  What if it was in your neighborhood?   What if one of your loved ones came up missing?   Missing family member…what if they have become one of the invisible slaves bought and sold for someone else’s gain and pleasure?  People who patronize the prostitutes on any street, in any country, around the world did you ever wonder if …are they doing it because they want to?  Or, are they being forced to perform as a prostitute because they are in fact, someone’s slave?  If you purchase their services…you could be part of the problem. How about people who purchase the servant to cook, or clean in their business or home, especially those  individuals not legally present in that country; are they working for them willingly, or have they been bought and paid for?  

         Our country, the United States of America, is involved in war.  Our military men and women have seen things in other countries that would shock you.  In some of those countries, when war breaks out…rape is used as a tool to destroy cultures and to break down the resistance of the opposing fighters.   Our military men and women have seen what happens to the women in those countries that have been warring with one another when they have gone in to establish some kind of peace-keeping.  Women and children, as well as men, are raped and used horribly.  Some of them never recover, physically or emotionally.   This is unacceptable behavior…no matter what country it takes place in.  These are issues to think about.  No-one is guaranteed safety from these predators.  http://www.humantrafficking.org/updates  This is a global issue.  It affects us all.  If you met one of these individuals in person… how you could be unaffected?  Yet most of us live our lives unaware of their plight.  Their stories of abuse would horrify you. 

         Many of the hotbeds in the modern day slavery networks, are on the news everyday…either they are points of travel destinations, or glamour spots that the rich and famous travel to and from…others are known for their sexual tourism…PLEASE STOP FEEDING THE MONEY MACHINE.   Someone’s “tourism” is someone else’s nightmare!!!   Do some research…don’t travel or support countries that are known for trading the services of human beings, illegally, for money.  Governmental leaders must take a stand and enforce those who would disregard the value of human lives by their inaction.  We must expect legal consequences and demand it from the authorities who can make a difference.

         Ben Skinner’s book, A Crime So Monstrous, touches on some of those people and their situations.  It breaks your heart.  And yet, you know that it is just a way of outlinning the scope of the problem.  You can find out more about the book here:  www.simonsays.com  It is also available as an e-book.  Take the time to educate yourself…read it; and, understand how this affects us all.  We need to stand up and demand that our leaders help to wage a war against those who would commit crimes against humanity in such a vile, and dehumanizing way.  Thank you to those who fight the fight against such inhumanity in our world.  

See possibly related story:  http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/WireStory?id=6081857&page=1 or http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6121646

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        Breaking news today of a plane crash last night about midnight that took the lives of four people in South Carolina.  Of those killed, two were crew on the plane, pilot- Sarah Lemmon 31 & co-pilot James Bland 52; and two were passengers, Chris Baker 29 & Charles Still 25.  We wish to give condolences to their friends and family.   Also involved in the plane crash is the famous DJ Adam Goldstein, known as DJAM; and, the ex-drummer of Blink-182 Travis Barker.  They had performed at an event on Friday night and were taking off from the airport when the crash occured.

         Travis Barker is a well known drummer who also was married to Shanna Moakler a former Miss USA and former contestant on Dancing With The Stars. He was known by his tattoos as well as his drumming skills.   He was involved in a rumored relationship with Paris Hilton, at one time, during his marriage which resulted in tabloid reports of cat fights involving his wife and Paris Hilton.  Shanna and Travis have had a rocky on again off again marriage and divorce.  They have two children together…Shanna had a child previously with Oscar De La Hoya.

          DJAM is an owner of the popular club LAX.  He has performed on musical albums for many artists and is well known as a disc jockey.  He was at one time engaged to Paris Hilton’s former best friend, Nicole Richie.  He has been romantically involved with other famous females such as Mandy Moore and Jessica Stam.

           Both Travis and Adam have been transported to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia where they are both listed in critical condition.  They are going to need alot of prayer and support to get through the healing process. 

         Update:  The executive director at the burn center in Augusta, Georgia said that he expects both young men to make a full recovery.  The injuries that Travis Barker incurred were restricted to burns on his torso and his lower body; while, Adam Goldstein was burned on his arm and on his head.  Investigators are still investigating however, the voice recorder from the aircraft was recovered and there was a sound on the tape consistent with a tire blowing.  That evidence, along with pieces of the tire tread near the take off point seems to point to a tire blowout just before take off, which could have caused the crash.

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       A week ago we were all horrified to learn of a young 22 year old man who was stabbed to death while he slept on a greyhoud bus that was traveling through Canada.  This young man did nothing wrong and yet, he was vicously stabbed over and over again; and then, sorry for having to say this…was beheaded by his attacker.  The attacker, Vince Weiguang Li, then ate parts of the body.  That is a violation of mind, body and spirit and is hard to understand how someone could act so normal and be so unbalanced.

         As all of this was happening, the other bus occupants left the bus for their safety.  An officer reported seeing some of the horrifying actions of Vince Li.  He was arrested and has gone before a judge who asked him if he wanted a lawyer.  He supposedly shook his head and said, “Please Kill Me”.

          Killing him would be all too easy.  Yes, I am sure there are many who wish that to be his punnishment.  Even if that is the end result, it is not going to be that easy.  There will be a process for Li that takes time.  You don’t request death and it is done instantly through legal proceedings.  It is not going to be that easy for Li.  He will have a long time to relive the horror that he perpetrated.  Over and over again, he will be tortured by memories of what he did.  (more…)

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        It has been planted in my yard for a good many years now.  It is beautiful in full bloom…my Rose of Sharon.  The bush is full and round with pregnant buds; standing about 7 feet tall.  The leaves are an interesting shape..somewhat oak leafish but smaller in size.  They are green and when the flower buds begin to swell…it takes a few weeks to realize their full birth.  First they appear as small, hard, green buds; then, amazingly they start to appear white and twisted; similar in shape to a coned, morning glory flower bud, as it twists itself fully open.  It is all the more miraculous when you remember that only months ago…it stood proudly, looking for all the world like a dead, wooden monument to the life it had lived the year before.

         On this Rose of Sharon bush…the flower buds turn a deep shade of raspberry, in color.  When the flower petals reveal themselves…they open to a fluttery, fluted funnel.  Each petal eagerly overlaps the other to make them appear almost as if they are sculpted with those decorative sissors that make scalloped edges.  I have decided to expand the Rose of Sharon palette…i have added a light, lilac Rose of Sharon to the yard. 

         Together, they will be a show stopper in August when they tend to bloom…lasting for weeks with their dedication to painting the yard with their strong, visual presence with splashes of color.  The center of the Rose of Sharon is very similar in design to the hibiscus.  There is a long, protruding, white, bumpy center stamen, that contrasts with it’s glorious color.  On each of the colored petals are veins of a darker hue, than the petal, which just adds depth to the pretty picture. 

          It is with a sorrowful acceptance, that i tell you there is no hypnotic perfume from these beautiful flowers…their grace and attraction is in their butterfly shaped petals that flutter in the breeze.  That breeze that has been pleasantly scented by my other seductive collection of flowers such as the Stargazer, Oriental Lillies.  It sweetly spices the air with it’s signature scent.  It is like no other scented flower to my way of thinking.  It calls to the senses; and, adds to the nightime mystery that is my flower garden.  It has a tranquilizer effect for those who take the time to embrace the enveloping sweetness.

        One year, I remember mistakenly taking my vacation during their bloom time…and mourned the loss all year long.  It is something to nibble on…the feasting of the senses in late July/early August; when the Stargazers set out to stun the world with their shortlived appearance.  I give them their due…they are stunning if not a bit dominant during their show time.

          The smell is so wonderfully uplifting that you want to bottle it; so that you can capture the moment in time…it truly elevates the human mood to enter into the fragrance zone.  The touch of the petals is so soft and cool to the touch that you actually can’t stop yourself from gently rubbing its petals against the skin of your fingers.  The sight of the large pink and fushia, star- shaped flower petals, brings the awareness of the scent to your memory, moments before you actually indulge yourself with the smell.  Truly, if it could be bottled…no man would be able to resist it’s draw to the woman who wears it; it is that powerful.

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