Category Archives: human rights

Intelligent, non-noisy response to Todd Akin,

This arrived today via email. Voting is the easiest, most basic way to respond to the vision of America touted at the Republican National Convention, expressed by Todd Akin, and underlying the policies hawked by Paul Ryan.

Vote for candidates whose agendas apply equally to all residents of our country. Vote for candidates whose vision of personal liberty and “respect for life” applies to all ex-utero people, to sentient human beings who are capable of making sound decisions about their personal lives. Let’s vote for candidates whose “respect for the living” goes beyond the embryo and fetus, to encompass women, (pregnant or not), hard-working residents contributing to our GDP, the unemployed, the poverty-stricken and to people of all races and ethnicities. What could be more fundamentally “American” than that?


Another Blonde Adds Her Thoughts

It was a stunningly beautiful day on the trail. Crisp fresh air, wild flowers lasting longer than usual with unusually cool days. We hiked faster than ever, fully oxygenated. The leader of our hiking posse had these thoughts today about the political right’s position on immigration:

Why wouldn’t Republicans want to extend citizenship to millions of hard-working Mexicans who contribute “illegally” to our economy? Today’s bile-spewing Republican “leaders” seem really eager to tax the poor.

These workers would provide a new source for tax revenue — while keeping the marginal tax rates (on wealthy, country-club Americans) from returning to Clinton-era levels. Oh, right. Boehner and his cronies don’t want to raise taxes… but they are okay with reducing social benefits, effectively denying access to higher education, and realistic health care options for the people who most need assistance. Thank you, Nancy, for making this point.

The Tea Partying, flag-draped, Bible-banging self-anointed Keepers of the Constitution don’t get it. Do they have a plan to “repatriate” millions of people who’ve lived here for decades — their nannies and cooks and gardeners and maintenance workers — back to Mexico? I haven’t seen one.

Can one be truly Christian and also be uncharitable to the extent we hear screaming at us from the faces on Fox News? Do we really want to maintain permanent (and rapidly growing) sub-rosa, terrified underclass in our country?


Blonde will shortly regain her composure and return to humor. Or something like that.

Blonde Goes Political: Let’s Get Real on Immigration Reform

There are many ways of looking at the state of immigration in our country. It’s complex, and the solution isn’t clear-cut. “Right and wrong” may seem fuzzy. but it’s time to put aside politics and look at real lives, and into the eyes of real people. Cogent and arguable points abound on every side. A few simple things are quite clear.

We have a brain and talent drain concerning the excellent, brilliant and talented grads who train at our universities and who are eager to start or enrich enterprises (and employ our citizens) here in our country. But our policies make this difficult. Most are compelled to return to their homelands to find work. These are people who often fuel new enterprise: their successes are most visible throughout Silicon Valley. But many more cannot give back to the country that has advanced their education… because of roadblocks in the H1-A visa category.

The situation concerning illegal workers who’ve been coming here from Mexico over the past decades is more complex. There are tens of millions of people here, harvesting the crops that in turn fill our bulging supersized supermarkets; cleaning offices, resorts, casinos and factories; working in construction and doing the “dirty work” that nobody else wants to do. Stephen Colbert said it best. We are not going to miraculously expel tens of millions of people from our country — people whose work keeps us fed, housed and able to maintain “our American lifestyles.”

Yes, they are here illegally. They also have children who are now young adults. Most of these people have been in the U.S. since they were babies and toddlers. They speak Spanish, but have never been to Mexico. They are of Mexican heritage but see themselves as Americans… similar to the waves of immigrants who came here for the past two hundred fifty years. They want to serve in our military. They want to improve their lives, and the lives of their hard-working parents, by going to college. But every access to assimilation and “giving back” to the U.S. is blocked by our current absolutist immigration policy.

This letter from President Obama arrived in my inbox today. I invite you to read it. Continue reading Blonde Goes Political: Let’s Get Real on Immigration Reform

The Girl Effect in Action: “Trust in Education” at work in Afghanistan

I’m reposting this blog, nearly a year later — in support of “The Girl Effect” campaign that is now residing (in part) at this site:

PLEASE scroll on down and read this post, watch the video and yes, visit Tara’s site to see what others are doing and saying in support of The Girl Effect.

You don’t need to be a girl to support the premise of The Girl Effect!

This post is about as serious as Blonde can get. Too many girls and young women are living under inexcusable circumstances… but these can be fixed. Attention must be paid. Action can be taken. Find your way to make a difference. Thanks.

It’s a fact that all over the world, women are the “keepers of their culture.” Ironically and tragically, in many countries — some of the most populous on Earth — the very culture in which women raise their kids denigrates them. The stories of individual girls and young women are movingly told by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in their new book, “Half the Sky.” I just finished reading it and urge you to read it, too.

I’ve also read Nick Kristof’s op-eds in the New York Times for the past ten years. He tells hauntingly vivid stories of the tragic plight of girls who’ve been victims of sex trafficking, stoning, torture and maiming. Kristof names the girls. Places them in their cultural contexts. And he allows them to speak for themselves. “Half the Sky” and his op-eds offer narratives of specific girls’ and womens’ lives and demonstrate how very simple steps can measurably improve outcomes in education and health care. Helping one girl or a dozen stay in school longer has been proven to help their entire families. We used to call it the “ripple effect.” It works.

Every day, millions of girls and young women are exploited sexually, economically and socially. “Human rights” simply don’t apply to them. In some very populous countries, cattle are more highly valued than women. This can change, and we can be active in this change.

On November 16, 2010, life coach and author Tara Sophia Mohr invited 30 influential women to write about “The Girl Effect” and post to her blog, Wise Living, as well as on their own blogs. Just a few days later, over 130 people have added their posts. This is beyond what we used to call “consciousness raising.” This is motivation to act — in whatever way works for you… and me.

Some of the most oppressed and repressed and brutalized girls in the world live in Afghanistan. You don’t have to fly there yourself to help them.
. You don’t even have to start your own 501(c)(3). There are many organizations already up and running, and you can add your strength, skills and resources to one that appeals to you. Here’s one that with five years of accomplishment and it’s getting stronger every month:

A few years ago, I met a retired lawyer named Budd MacKenzie who lives in the San Francisco area. He was initially inspired by reading Greg Mortensen’s “Three Cups of Tea.” The book changed Budd’s life. He decided he could make a difference. Consequently, he and his supporters have improved the lives of hundreds of families in Afghanistan. It all started with expanding access to education in rural villages.

In 2003, Budd founded “Trust in Education.” TIE started by building a secular school in Lalander, Afghanistan, three hours from Kabul. It opened in March, 2005. As Budd states, “Education is the long-term solution to everything and they love to learn.”

TIE’s schools are open to boys and girls, but it’s been the girls who benefit most. For these village girls, TIE offers the only way out from being married by age 12. They are eager to learn to read and write and think for themselves. Despite the pressures imposed by a tradition-bound community, girls do not want forced marriages, serial pregnancies, and lives spent in household confinement.

Building Zohra's School for Girls
The beginning of "Zohra's School for Girls"

Afghan girls going to school
Girls Going to Their School!

Could be our daughters...
The Girl Effect starts with them

“We have been tallying up the numbers, preparing for next years budget. We now sponsor classes attended by 1297 students, 751 of which are girls. Five years ago there were 90 boys and 40 girls.

That’s one thing about becoming involved in supporting education. The fourth grader expects there to be a fifth grade next year. Our commitment can’t be any less than theirs. Help!!! We don’t have an exit strategy!!”
Trust in Education email, November 17, 2010

(please ignore the obligatory opening “ad” from Smilebox…the video is worth it!)

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