Category Archives: News

Un-Locked!

It looks like I made it just in the nick of time—the Love Locks fence on Commercial Street in Portland, Maine will meet the same fate as the locks on the Pont Des Arts in Paris did. They will be torn down on Monday because, like the locks in Paris, they pose a structural risk to the fence and the sewage and storm drain that it protects.

Contrary to popular belief, the tradition did not actually start in Paris—that only began in the early 2000’s. It is thought to have started in Serbia during World War I, but the tradition has been catching on recently around the world in cities like Paris, Rome, Cologne, New York, and many other locations like Portland. While it is a sweet tradition among well-meaning couples, the locks are destroying the integrity of bridges and other structures and many believe that they are marring the beauty and architecture of landmarked buildings. 

Isn’t It Ironic?

photo courtesy of Brady Campaign

The Grand Old Party, otherwise known as the Republican Party, has staunchly supported Second Amendment rights, even in the wake of mass shootings in elementary schools, universities, movie theaters, churches, and places of business. The National Rifle Association and other conservative groups refuse to even consider any common sense measures to curtail the sale of semi-automatic weapons. Yet, that very same party has called for a temporary ban on open-carry gun laws in Ohio during the Republican National Convention out of fear of gun violence in Cleveland. Their fears are well-founded, given the ambush killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge this past week. These murders are travesties, to be sure, but the murders of kindergarteners and church goers are  tragic as well, so why won’t they consider a ban or a revision to the liberal gun ownership rules in order to save the lives of ordinary Americans? Isn’t it ironic or hypocritical?

Love is Love is Love is Love . . .

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There was so much anticipation leading up to the 70th annual Tony Awards ceremony last night because of the general excitement surrounding Hamilton: the Musical and the number of awards that it was in contention to win.  Tragically, the ceremony was overshadowed by the horrific mass murder that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning. Broadway stars had heavy hearts as they attempted to entertain the audience and collect their awards while grieving and showing respect for the victims of such a heinous attack.

Hamilton did, in fact, win many awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, and so many others. Lin-Manuel Miranda deserved all of the accolades that came to him. He is a genius — anyone who can conceive of a rap musical about a historical figure from the eighteenth century, write the book, the score, and the lyrics must be. He came to the Tony Awards, equipped with a sonnet about love, which he most likely wrote prior to the mass shooting in Orlando but which he probably adapted in the hours before the awards ceremony began. It was the sonnet heard round the world.  Here is the full text:

My wife’s the reason anything gets done. 

She nudges me towards promise by degrees. 

She is a perfect symphony of one. 

Our son is her most beautiful reprise. 

We chase the melodies that seem to find us 

Until they’re finished songs and start to play. 

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us 

That nothing here is promised, not one day 

This show is proof that history remembers. 

We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. 

We rise and fall, and light from dying embers 

Remembrances that hope and love last longer. 

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love; 

Cannot be killed or swept aside. 

I sing Vanessa’s symphony; Eliza tells her story. 

Now fill the world with music, love, and pride. 

I can’t wait to see what this man comes up with next.  I am sure that it will be nothing short of amazing.

 

Stop The Madness

(Photos compiled by the  New York Daily News)

I have been slow to comment about the mass shooting in Orlando because words have escaped me following such a heinous act. The facts are that a madman entered a popular nightclub and unleashed a torrent of gunfire that killed 49 people and wounded another 53, most of them gay. Was this a hate crime, a terror attack, or the kind of mass shooting that we’ve grown all too accustomed to, recently? The shooter, Omar Mateen, born in the United States to Afghani immigrant parents, pledged allegiance to ISIS, which immediately raised concerns that this tragic event was a terrorist attack, but the shooter has been described as unhinged, violent, and even gay. He was also known to law enforcement and had been under investigation on previous occasions in 2013 and 2014. Whatever the case, why was he legally able to obtain automatic weapons and enough rounds of ammunition to wreak such quick and devastating carnage on an unsuspecting group of partiers? Why should anyone be entitled – stable or unstable, terrorist or not – to purchase automatic weapons and so many rounds of ammunition? As I have written before, the founding fathers could never have fathomed that weapons would be invented that would be capable of killing so many people, so quickly, let alone be used so indiscriminately against innocent fellow American citizens when they wrote the second amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing our right to bear arms. They must be turning over in their graves as gun advocates and NRA members continually use their words to justify the sale of weapons and ammunition that can and have been used to inflict murder on such a mass scale. 

I Am Woman

Courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images

I generally avoid online conversations about politics and religion, but I do post about newsworthy events. This post definitely qualifies as newsworthy because, for the first time in our nation’s history, a woman has become a presidential candidate of a major political party.  It certainly took long enough. Our country was founded over 200 years ago and it took more than 100 years for women to even earn the right to vote and nearly another 100 years before a woman was nominated for the office of the presidency. Hillary Clinton accomplished that feat last night, when she clinched the nomination after her decisive win in California. Many other countries have had female heads of state, such as Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan, Argentina, and others so it is about time that the United States catch up to their international counterparts. What happens next remains to be seen, but for right now, I hope that all females take a moment to bask in this accomplishment. 

Love Thy Nature

On this day, each year, we are reminded of the importance of good stewardship of our planet. There are broad sweeping solutions that the G8 Roundtable and the United Nations Climate Control Conference are trying to implement and then there are the small steps that each of us can take every day.  Here is a list of the ten easiest ways that we can make a difference in our daily lives:

1)  Reduce the number of plastic beverage bottles that we use

2)  Use reusable grocery bags

3)  If you don’t have reusable bags with you, ask for paper instead of plastic

4)  Drive less, walk more, take mass transit

5)  Turn off lights

6)  Eat less red meat

7)  Don’t let your car idle

8)  Use less water especially hot water

9)  Use a kitchen cloth instead of disposable paper towels

10)  Print fewer hardcopies of documents

Triangle Shirtwaist Tragedy

Today marks the 105th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which 150 people, mostly young immigrant women, died senselessly.  These young women – girls really – were pursuing the American Dream, when a fire broke out, turning their dreams into nightmares. The victims were working 12 hour days in stifling conditions and became trapped on the upper floors of factory in lower Manhattan. Their deaths would have been preventable if the doors were not locked and if other fire safety measures had been put in place. This tragedy led to many workplace reforms in the United States. However, factory safety continues to be a major concern in developing countries. In 2012, over 100 workers were killed in a Bangladeshi factory fire.   Safety must continue to be a priority in places of business, both in the United States and abroad.

Tears for Fears

Photo taken by Orli, Brussels, Belgium, July 2015

The Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.  Belgium is the latest victim of terrorism, joining Turkey, Israel, France, the United States, Nigeria, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia and many other countries whose citizens and guests have endured terrorist acts upon their soil recently.  Sadly, terrorism works.  It takes the lives of the innocent and it instills fear in civilians, changing the way they live and how they move about the world. I wish that people of different faiths, cultures, and races could live together in peace and harmony and that we could all be respectful of one another.  I know that it is a dream and dreams don’t usually come true, but no peace-loving person can stop dreaming this dream. RIP to the victims of terrorism.

Not So Super

As citizens of a great democracy like the United States, we are fortunate to have a say in the election of our government representatives.  Unless you live under a rock, you know that we are in the midst of primary season, during which registered Democrats and Republicans go to the polls or caucuses to select who their party’s presidential candidate will be.  Today is Super Tuesday–the day that about 11 states conduct their primaries.  As a young American, who will vote for the first time this year, I have been paying attention to the candidates and their messages to the American public. The vitriol and the personal attacks by some candidates has become so vicious that it seems very un-presidential.  Most of us  learn manners at a young age from our parents and our teachers and we behave with dignity.  I am embarrassed to witness the level of mudslinging and personal attacks that some candidates have exhibited and hope that, going forward, candidates begin to conduct themselves in keeping with the highest and most important office in our country. 

On the Money

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It is about time that a woman graced a unit of paper currency.  Our nation is well into its third century and, yet, there hasn’t been a woman on paper currency, with the brief exception of Martha Washington in the late nineteenth century  on a $1 silver certificate– whatever that is.  Women comprise more than 50% of the population.  We work hard to earn money.  We work hard to spend the money. Therefore, we have earned the right to appear on money.

There have been conversations recently about the possibility of replacing Alexander Hamilton with a woman on the $10 note. I object to this because Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury and founder of our country’s monetary system.  He deserves his place on the $10 bill.  I vote that we ditch Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill.  Jackson was a scoundrel who caused much turmoil during his presidency.  He is especially known for the heinous acts that he committed against Native Americans, so he does not deserve the honor of gracing our currency.

I nominate Jeanette Rankin as the first woman to appear on a paper bill.  She was the first woman to serve as a congressperson.  She was elected to serve her state of Montana four years before the passage of the 19th amendment, ensuring woman national suffrage.   There are many qualified women in the annals of American history.  It should not be difficult to find a deserving candidate.