Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Really

You really don't get used to it. You learn to cope and how to grieve and still carry on day to day. I still mourn all the people Katrina killed and the things that were destroyed. I have also found it awesome the number of people who came down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help us rebuild.

We don't know how many years the oil spill will affect the Gulf of Mexico and how many years tar balls and oil will continue to wash ashore. We don't the full affects of the oil spill on the marine life.

But I can still marvel at pelicans floating in the air while the sun sets. This and the smiles on family, friends, and strangers keeps me going.

Monday, August 23, 2010

American Fears

I've become very disheartened in the direction the United States has been going since President Bush was president. At the time, I agreed with some of his policies. I did protest the invasion of Iraq but once troops were on the ground, I fully supported them. In an effort to understand the Islamic faith I began reading a website by Robert Spencer. He equates all Muslims with the radicals. I stopped reading after I had emailed him a question regarding Muslim prayers. In it, I said you gain a lot of understanding by a faith's prayer. I never received a response from him and this led me to believe he really wasn't really an expert on Muslims.

After 9-11, Americans, myself included, seemed content to just forget about all the things that used to make us a beacon of freedom for those oppressed by intolerance because of religious and political beliefs. One good President Bush did do was state over and over that the vast majority of Muslims do not believe in the cause of the radicals who flew the planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

However, because of fears of another attack some of our most cherished principles have been submerged. It didn't start with the War on Terror. It started with the War on Drugs. With those laws, our 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th Amendment rights have been encroached upon. With the War on Terror, even more encroachment has been seen.

These laws can be changed. What cannot be changed is the torture that was employed in order to gain information from captives. It used to be that the US was the one country where torture did not occur. Fears led us to torture and the imprisonment of detainees.

Now fears, anger, and hate-mongering are being fueled across the country by those who do not believe in the 1st Amendment. Protestors in California, Tennessee, and New York are protesting the building of mosques and religious centers. I try to be understanding of those who are protesting the Islamic center close to Ground Zero. There is a mosque already there. But I think a lesson can be learned from the Pentagon. A prayer chapel was built in the Pentagon in the area where the plane from that awful day flew in. Different religious use the chapel including Muslims.

We can keep the above image in our mind as standing for the ideals of our country or we can be:

and willing to deny follow Americans their rights:

We are the United States of America. Let us remain the home of the free and the brave and not let our fears get the better of us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Beach at Gulfport

I took these photos yesterday at the beach in Gulfport. It is in the area where President Obama visited today. From news reports, he was on the east side of the pier.

The black skimmer skimmed over this dark patch and then resumed its hunting.

I cannot tell if this bird washed ashore is a black skimmer, a heron, or an egret. This is the same in which 15 dead sea turtles washed ashore last Friday.

On the west side of the pier, patches of beach are slowly being stained black.

Yesterday, protective berms were being placed.

The water in some spots had this weird stringy stuff.

Walking on the east side of the pier, I couldn't detect any smell of oil. However, walking on the west side, the closer I walked to where the Veterans home used to be, the smell of oil was strong. It made my eyes sting. As long as the oil keeps gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, I fear we can expect more turtles, birds, fish, and other marine life to be washed ashore. Time, the winds and currents we tell if and when the beaches of Mississippi will be covered with same toxic muck now trashing the shores of Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Walk on the Beach

My governor, Haley Barbour, keeps trying to insist that the oil spill is no big deal for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Sure, we haven't seen the thick sludge hitting the shores of Louisiana. But as soon as the winds and tides are right, it seems like it is inevitable.

The oil is impacting the life of the creature that call the shoreline and the Gulf home. The air does not have that sweet clean smell along the beach. The oil smell, can at times be stifling. No longer do fresh breezes come from offshore. instead, the air smells stale. It is hard to describe really. It doesn't have that salty tang anymore.

Along the shore, there doesn't seem to be the same number of birds that where there in April. Even accounting for birds that are nesting, the numbers seem far fewer. I counted myself lucky yesterday when I saw four black skimmers, one pelican, an osprey, a handful of sea gulls, and a handful of plovers and sand pipers.

The beach also seems to have more dead animals. I see dead horse shoe crabs frequently. dead fish are more than normal. And I saw a dead baby stingray.

The area where the sand meets the water is being stained red.

There are fewer tourists. The situation does warrant the attention is giving the Gulf Coast area. People died when the well first exploded. People's livelihoods are threatened. Those that make their living fishing and shrimping are already having to deal with less income and a very uncertain future.

How many years or decades will it take to clean-up this mess? The Gulf of Mexico is being turned into a vast dead zone.

I feel a sense of sadness and bewilderment from the attitude of Governor Barbour. He did a stellar job after Hurricane Katrina so his nonchalance at what is awaiting the shoreline defies belief. Instead of going on picnics in New York City he should be meeting with President Obama.

But Barbour is hardly the only Mississippi politician I'm angry at. Congressman Gene Taylor sent me an email the other day. He's up for re-election and I guess he's feeling threatened by the opposition. His email did not say one thing about the oil spill. It show-cased the defense contracts he brought to Mississippi.

The uncertainity of the future because of the oil looming off the shore is more threatening than the rebuilding wefaced after Hurricane Katrina. You know how to prepare and you know how to rebuild.

How can a vast dead zone be brought back to life?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Third!!!!

NOAA has now closed one third of Federal Gulf of Mexico waters.

Oil has reached Petit Bois Island. The island is a barrier island about 12 miles south east of Pascagouls Mississippi.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder is launching a criminal probe.

I cannot seem to feel rage at this mess. The scope of the disaster is just too vast. I try to go to the beach everyday just so I can still it without it being oil stained. The freshness of the salty air is gone already. The sweet smell has been replaced.

I wonder what all the sea birds will do for food. I had hoped that perhaps they could make it to the shores of Florida but it seems Florida's beaches are next in line. Perhaps Texas, but again the oil seems to be spreading. Soon, it seems there will be no save haven for wildlife that call the Mississippi Gulf Coast home.

Usually when I go to the beach, once on the many piers I can watch the minnows and bait fish but there seems to be a dearth of them. I've only seen a few here and there.

No matter what figures are correct, the 20 million or the 40 million, the gallons of oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico are hard to comprehend but as each new closer of Federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps you can get an inkling.

An entire ecosystem that spans four states is now being threatened. Birds, crabs, shrimp, fish, and mammals such as dolphins as wallowing in an oil-stained mess.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Poisoned Nurseries

Have you ever watched birds as they take care of their young? Birds are fiercely protective. Many times I've watched in amazement as mockingbird chases off a hawk and as a grackle chases off an osprey.

The Louisiana brown pelicans can do little as the oil comes ashore in Breton Island and covers their eggs and hatchlings with a thick coating of oil.

Herons are in the same dire mess.

Marshes are being severely impacted.

And it's mess that will be with us for years.

The marshes not only are nurseries for birds but for fish and shrimp as well. The marine food chain starts in these marshes. More needs to be done. No more drill baby drill until we learn how to deal with the spill baby spill.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico is Bleeding

I found the following video at Gulf Oil Slick

We need tighter and more effective government regulation over these rigs. We need to make sure that the oil companies have plans that entail more than just blaming each other for what goes wrong.

In Biloxi & D'Iberville Mississippi, in Bayou LaBatre Alabama, and in places in Louisiana, there are thousands who work in seafood plants who are now out of jobs.

There is a Deepwater Horizon Response facebook page. Today, about halfway down the page, there was an update on where people who have lost their jobs can go to get help. The link goes directly to the USDA website on food stamps. There are no special programs set-up to help those directly affected by the oil-spill. There are oil spill clean-up jobs available but not enough.

On the Coast, we know that the litigation will probably drag on for decades like it did after the Exxon Valdez. Haliburton, BP, and Transocean pointed fingers at one another without anyone taking the blame. BP keeps saying it is going to pay for the clean-up and yet the talking heads keep saying, "We're not to blame".

Right now, the oil spill is impacting those who work in the seafood industry. Soon, as the oil creeps ever closer to Gulf Coast shores, the tourist industry will start seeing a major impact.

The Gulf is bleeding very badly.

Time Capsule

From Marshall Ramsey of The Clarion Ledger:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oil in the Air

Yesterday morning when I stepped out to get the newspaper, the air was heavy with scent of oil. I live 12 miles inland!! The oil slick is inching ever closer to my beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast:

Sea turtles and other animals are already washing ashore dead:

High winds and rough seas caused the protective booms to break.

And there are concerns that the oil slick may become caught up the Gulf Loop and actually have more of an impact along the eastern shore of Florida, impacting from Miami to Jacksonville.

Where ever it hits, it will an ecological disaster.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Manmade Disaster

Waiting to how bad the oil spill will be is almost as bad as waiting for a hurricane to hit.

Fighting Oil with Fire.

Update: 4/30/10

Five foot waves are overtopping the protective booms. The oil now drifting into the South Pass of the Mississippi River. The oil is expected to reach the Mississippi Coast on Saturday. I'm sickened by the thought of the potential loss of wildlife. Once the oil hits the marshes, it can linger for decades.

Click for more on the efforts to contain and clean the oil spill.

Update 2 4/30/10 Mississippi Gulf Coast cities declare a state of emergency.

This is going to be bad. We were just starting to see some positive recovery from Hurricane Katrina. This oil spill will affect everything from the shrimping industry, shipbuilding, casinos, and tourism.

Update 3 4/30/10:

NOAA forecast graphic

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Real America

The very first Admendmnet listed in the Bill of Rights is this:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There has been a growing trend in our country to call it a Christian Nation. This flies in the face of ideals and principles our founding fathers had in mind when this amendment was added to the Constitution. It was a very radical idea at the time for there not to be a state religion. Great Britain's state religion was the Anglican church. Many European countries state religion was Catholicism.

When colonies were first formed in this country, many of them were founded by those who were fleeing persecution. Our country has long served as a beacon of freedom for those who just want to be able to live their lives peacefully and to worship in freedom.

Even here in Gulfport and Biloxi Mississippi, this tradition continues. The Buddhist temple is just down the street from the Korean Baptist and Catholic churches. Beth Israel Synagogue is across the street from the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Muslim women wearing hajib mingle, Christian fundamentalists women wearing long sleeved shirts and skirts, and those in bikinis all mingle at the beach.

These images are at the very essence of religious freedom granted in this country. Sure, I've had those who tell me to get out of store when my Magen David is seen. But those instances are few and far between.

I believe that this is what the founding fathers had in mind when freedom of religion was guaranteed as a right.

I believe that efforts to bring prayer into school or forcing school children to sing Christmas carols eats at the heart of our personal freedoms.

If we were to reinstate school led prayers, which prayers would be chosen? Would it be the Nicene Creed? Would it be the Shema Yisrael? How about the Hindu morning prayer to Saraswati? Or the Muslim fajr? Or the Wiccan prayer of daily thanksgiving? Or how about an atheist stating there is no god? To make it fair, wouldn't each child of each religion or non-religion have to be given a turn?

Religion or lack there of is one's personal choice on how to live. The majority of people who live in the United States consider themselves to be Christian. They are free to worship as they choose. So is everyone else. It is in the Constitution and the separation between religion and state must be preserved so that everyone can continue to have religious freedom.

Join and Blog Against Theocracy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It Snowed!

For a little while. The forecasts call for more this afternoon and evening.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let It Snow!

The forecasts appear to be correct. It has already started sleeting and snow is forecast for later tonight and early tomorrow morning. It looks like where I live might see 5 inches!

The last time it snowed here along the Mississippi Gulf Coast was in December 2004. There was just enough snow that on my car for me and my kid to have a snowball fight.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Fear for Our Country

With the Republicans continuing to embrace evangelicals, I fear for our country. Two hundred thirty-four years ago, a group of men got together and made a Declaration that all men are created equal. They wrote a Constitution that sought to protect the rights of the individual in matters of religious beliefs and made the radical decision at that time not to select a national religion. They understand the bullying power of the majority and sought to place protections in place for the minority.

Liberals, gays, Muslims, the poor, and now Haitians are being demonized. Pat Robertson says the earthquake in Haiti was a result of Haitians making a pact with the 'devil'. Well, the Haitians did, sort of. The made a pact with European 'devils' to buy their freedom.

Nonny Mouse at Crooks and Liars articulates my fears about our country in the post The Real Face of the Devil:

Now, the rest of it I can laugh about, it’s too ludicrous to take too seriously. But we’ve seen what happens when those with the ear of the gullible and the fanatic preach intolerance. And those who pray for death as a fitting punishment for those of any religion but the ‘true faith’ cannot stand back and claim their hands are clean and their conscience clear. They cannot preach bigotry and fanaticism and buy their way out with ‘humanitarian aid’ for the suffering – aid shackled to condemnation is not ‘humanitarian.’ They cannot be excused for being ‘delusional’ or ‘uncompromising’ or ‘pious’ or ‘misunderstood.’ Religion is not an excuse to give up one’s humanity, any more than National Socialism was. Those who preach death and intolerance in the name of God – anybody’s God – are no better than those who egged on the suicide terrorists who slammed planes full of innocent people into buildings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Relief

The pictures coming in from Haiti speak of the tragedy unfolding there. The New York Times has a list of organizations to help.

45 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 792-2900

Text “HAITI” to “90999″ to make a $10 donation.
2025 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(800) REDCROSS (733-2767)

88 Hamilton Avenue
Stamford, Conn. 06902
(800) 486-4357

(800) 736-3467
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090

Dept. W
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, Ore., 97208-2669
(888) 256-1900

226 Causeway St., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02114-2206
(800) 77-OXFAM (776-9326)

615 Slaters Lane
P.O. Box 269
Alexandria, VA 22313

Please help.

More organizations:

The Jewish Federation(formerly the UJC)

American Jewish Committee

B'Nai B'rith

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee