Posts filed under ‘Politics’

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Sorry, America, the Full Lockdown Is Coming

Politicians won’t admit it yet, but it’s time to prepare—physically and psychologically—for a sudden stop to all life outside your home.

An abandoned homeAn abandoned home stands behind a padlocked gate in Stockton, California, on April 29, 2008.  JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

A few days ago I shared wine, cheese, and camaraderie with a small group of close friends, and sadly, after five excellent bottles of Côtes du Rhône wine, we said goodbye to one another, knowing we shall not again share company for many weeks, perhaps months. Yesterday my dearest neighbors knocked on the door, carts loaded with suitcases and boxes in tow, to wish me well for the duration of the great pandemic. We air-hugged, and I sadly watched them tromp off to their packed vehicle, abandoning New York City for their country home. As they wandered off, I said, “See you in September, I hope—or whenever things are normal again.”

For some countries—Italy, South Korea, and Singapore for example—the moment of decision and personal preparation has long since passed, and millions of people are stuck in place, watching their epidemic unfold. On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, the mayor of San Francisco ordered her entire population to “shelter in place” for a few weeks: The window of opportunity to relocate has closed for residents of the Bay Area.

Whether you are reading this in your living room in Vancouver, office in London, or on a subway in New York City, you need to think hard, and fast, about two crucial questions: Where, and with whom, do you want to spend the next six to 12 weeks of your life, hunkered down for the epidemic duration? And what can you do to make that place as safe as possible for yourself and those around you?

Your time to answer those questions is very short—a few days, at most. Airports will close, trains will shut down, gasoline supplies may dwindle, and roadblocks may be set up. Nations are closing their borders, and as the numbers of sick rise, towns, suburbs, even entire counties will try to shut the virus out by blocking travel. Wherever you decide to settle down this week is likely to be the place in which you will be stuck for the duration of your epidemic.

[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it’s affecting countries around the world.]

To appreciate what lies ahead for the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, pay heed to Italy, France, and Germany. The United States, for example, is currently tracking exactly where Italy was about 10 days ago. France and Germany, which track two to five days ahead of the United States, are now revving up measures akin to those taken by Italy, including lockdowns on movement and social activity. In a matter of days, the United States will follow suit.

If you live alone, have no family members or close friends who require your special attention, and have no alternative living space, you have no decision to make. You are where you will be for coming weeks.

Many households are now swelling as colleges and universities close, sending students to their parents’ homes, and young adults find themselves facing financial ruin amid the shutdown of theaters, restaurants, gig economy work, construction sites, and other forms of employment lacking job protection and home leave assistance. These young adults may also choose to return to their parents’ homes, or to secondary residences owned by friends or relatives.

As employers shift to work-from-home status, white-collar workers with salaried jobs need to consider where best to hunker down, allowing them strong Internet access and a home work setting. For workers whose jobs require physical presence at a work site, such as custodians, factory workers, security guards, construction personnel, taxi drivers, and the like, the relocation option is decided—stay put. But many may lose their jobs, either temporarily or permanently, due to the epidemic, and the prospect of six to eight weeks without an income stream is excruciating. Anybody facing that prospect should immediately negotiate with their landlords, mortgage lenders, and utilities, seeking long-term payment options, and scour for information regarding their legal rights if threatened with eviction, power shut-off, or lost credit due to epidemic-spawned nonpayment.

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Because elderly people, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, are at special risk for severe reactions to COVID-19, including death, many families are making choices to move closer to their aged loved ones, or bring them to live with their adult children and grandchildren. These can be painful decisions, particularly if the elder’s health requires daily attention or features dementia. As the epidemic worsens, it will become increasingly dangerous for such elders to travel: Tough choices must be made immediately.

Once tough location decisions have been made, the household must be readied for a long siege. While panic-buying has led to stockpiles of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, getting through eight months of confinement with others will require a great deal more, both physically and psychologically. This is especially true for households that span generations.

Long-term confinement that includes children undergoing remote schooling and adults trying to work requires designated spaces for each individual, a powerful Internet signal and Wi-Fi router, and a great deal of shared patience. Everybody in the household must understand how the coronavirus is spread, and what steps each should follow to eliminate their personal risk of passing infection to others in the home.

The virus is transmitted by droplets and fomites—it isn’t like measles, capable of drifting about in the air for hours. It dehydrates quickly if not inside water, mucus, or fomite droplets. The size of the droplets may be far below what the human eye can see, but they are gravity-sensitive, and will fall from an individual’s mouth down, eventually, to the nearest lower surface—table, desk, floor. You do not need to clean upward.

However, a newly published study, backed by the National Institutes of Health, found that the virus survives in “aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.” This means an uncleaned surface can pose a risk to members of the household for a very long time—a doorknob, tabletop, kitchen counter or stainless steel utensil.

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration have posted cleaning guidelines, indicating which simple, inexpensive products can eliminate the coronavirus from surfaces in your household or work areas. Give special attention to the most commonly shared surfaces in your home or work area: door knobs, light switches, phones, faucets, toilet handles, kitchen utensils, computer keyboards, and remote controls.

The virus is killed by ultraviolet sunlight, and air flow will hasten dehydration. Do notcreate air flow by turning on building central air systems—you will spread contamination. If there are windows, open them wide and leave them open whenever weather conditions allow. If there are curtains or shades, open them and let sunlight pour in.

If available, wear latex or heavy-duty dishwashing gloves while cleaning anything that an individual suspected to be infected with COVID-19 has had contact with. Place all used gloves and other disposable contaminated items in a bag that can be tied closed before disposing of them with other waste. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after removing gloves.

If you live in an apartment, condominium, or co-housing facility, ask management to post signs limiting the number of people allowed to share an elevator to however many can fit in the cars while maintaining a distance of three feet from one another. Elevator buttons should be cleaned regularly. Deliveries should be left in a common area, such as the building lobby, rather than having outsiders use the elevators and knock on household doors.

And all residents should be asked to please be mindful of contagion courtesy, covering mouths when coughing or sneezing and teaching children to do the same. After coughing or sneezing into hands, do not touch public surfaces in the building such as elevator buttons, banisters, and door handles.

It’s also important to prepare psychologically. Every family or couple has its issues, and tensions can amplify during long confinement. Common sense can ease the shared suffering.

If children are undergoing remote schooling, and parents are simultaneously working remotely, everybody needs headphones, plenty of computer bandwidth, and a designated workspace. Before stores close, make sure every user has proper cables, headphones, batteries, adapters, and other tools of the computer trade.

Printers, if they will be used, require paper and ink: Have plenty on hand.

Everybody needs routines, including exercise and recreation. Shared burdens of cooking and cleaning should be offset by shared play and fun.

Boredom and stress can suck the lifeblood out of a person. Before your home goes on lockdown, make sure your download accounts for movies and television are paid. There are plenty of good books around the house, and games and decks of cards are handy.

Plan now for your state of siege. Don’t delay. Choose where you want to survive the pandemic, with whom, and how. Your window of opportunity to act is shrinking, very fast.

Correction, March 18, 2020: San Francisco Mayor London Breed ordered her entire population to “shelter in place” this week. A previous version of this article incorrectly described the mayor.

March 19, 2020 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

Love in Politics, Really?

The only way to override politicized hate is with politicized love — our love for freedom, our love for each other, our love for the earth, our love for our children, our love for our country.

Continue Reading July 29, 2019 at 2:19 am 2 comments

Renewed Hope, Real Solutions – Earth Day Summit 2016

Wow, we’ve clearly made a mess of things… global warming, species on the brink of extinction, polluted water supplies and more.

Yet, if we put the miraculous, collective power of our hearts and minds together, we CAN solve these problems.

Earth Day Summit 2016Solutions DO exist and every day, more and more incredible people are rolling up their sleeves and finding creative ways to fix what we once feared unfixable.

Plus, we now have access to an abundance of cutting-edge technologies, effective community organizing platforms and revolutionary, life-giving ideas!
Like Inspired Actions for a Thriving Planet: Earth Day Summit 2016 on Facebook share on Twitter

Join a powerful lineup of speakers who’ll be sharing these solutions and more at Earth Day Summit 2016!

This special gathering will feature 15+ esteemed environmental leaders, innovators, activists, scientists and ecologists who are offering a renewed sense of hope, step-by-step solutions for local and global action — and restored reverence for Mother Earth.

Experts, including Starhawk, Kenny Ausubel, Vicki Robin, Chief Phil Lane, Jr., David Crow, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and others, will share their visionary insights and inspired actions for a healthy, sustainable and thriving planet.

I hope you’ll participate in this special day-long gathering presented by The Shift Network.

RSVP now for Earth Day Summit 2016 — at no charge.

During this inspiring event, you’ll discover:

  • Practical steps & innovative solutions for living in harmony with Mother Earth’
  • Trusted resources & expert guidance for making sustainable life choices
  • A vibrant community of kindred spirits mobilizing globally to create a thriving planet
  • Ways to take action on local levels as well as national legislative action
  • The experience of activating global consciousness, weaving the world together
  • Engaging stories of those who are making a difference in the world, inspiring you to take action and create your own out-of-the-box solutions
  • Invaluable insights on grassroots organizing, citizen lobbying & community action
  • And much more!
With guidance from these leaders, you’re sure to come away from this global gathering deeply transformed — and part of the solution!
Like Inspired Actions for a Thriving Planet: Earth Day Summit 2016 on Facebook share on Twitter

Join a vibrant global community and an extraordinary panel of presenters for a FULL DAY of hope, inspiration, actions and discover your next step for personal and planetary transformation.

RSVP now for Earth Day Summit 2016 — at no charge.

April 22, 2016 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

Sister Giant | Blue America Free Progressive Summit Starts February 23rd

Meet congressional candidates from all over the country who stand for progressive values coming into Congress — the co-equal branch of our government.

Continue Reading February 23, 2016 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment

How Will Political Change Take Place?

This article, written by Robert Borosage, Sanders and Clinton: How Change Comes, is reprinted from OurFuture.Org and I’m just giddy with excitement!

One of the most striking contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the first Democratic debate is their starkly different theories of how change will take place. Yet it is this difference that is at the center of the Sanders surge, and particularly of the remarkable excitement that he has stirred among the young.

Virtually every reform proposed by President Obama has been blocked by the Republican Congress. The House majority is so dysfunctional that Speaker John Boehner had to fall on his sword simply to get the House to keep the doors of government open and the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. Republicans are now unable to agree upon his successor. They are so practiced in obstruction that they obstruct themselves.

So how does the next Democratic president overcome this? Gerrymandered districts make it very hard for Democrats to take back the majority in the House. What makes change come?

940764_1_1012-hillary-bernie-debate_standard

Yes She Can

Clinton’s answer is encapsulated in her response to Anderson Cooper’s question about whether she is a progressive or a moderate:

I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I’ve had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly. But we found ways to work together on everything from reforming foster care and adoption to the Children’s Health Insurance Program…

Clinton offers herself – her experience, her vision, her tenacity – as the difference. This was a consistent theme of her remarks. Her opening featured her commitment to “heal the divides:”

During the course of the evening tonight, I’ll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I’ve done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides – the divides economically, because there’s too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community…

And she offered herself as the vehicle for change again in her closing:

What you have to ask yourself is: Who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?

When pressed about why voters should choose an “insider like yourself,” she sounded the same note:

I’m running because I have a lifetime of experience in getting results and fighting for people, fighting for kids, for women, for families, fighting to even the odds. And I know what it takes to get things done. I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And I think we’re going to need both of those in Washington to get anything that we’re talking about up here accomplished.

You Know There’s Gonna Be A Revolution

In contrast, Sanders argues that given the corruption of American politics, the only way needed change can come is with a “political revolution.” This theme was central to his argument:

But here’s where I do disagree. I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.

Anderson Cooper remarked skeptically, “You don’t hear a lot of Democratic presidential candidates talking about revolution. What do you mean?”

Sanders elaborated:

What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what’s going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know. And when people come together in a way that does not exist now and are prepared to take on the big money interest, then we could bring the kind of change we need.

When asked if Hillary had the “right stuff,” Sanders again argued that it wasn’t about an individual leader:

I think — I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC. I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties — 100,000 people in this country — watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.

When asked how he could overcome Republican obstruction, Sanders was clear:

The Republican party, since I’ve been in the Senate, and since President Obama has been in office, has played a terrible, terrible role of being total obstructionists. Every effort that he has made, that some of us have made, they have said no, no, no.

Now, in my view, the only way we can take on the right-wing Republicans who are, by the way, I hope will not continue to control the Senate and the House when one of us elected President.

But the only way we can get things done is by having millions of people coming together. If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can’t refuse.

If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, “We know what’s going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job.”

And the Senator returned to this theme in his closing:

Now, at the end of our day, here is the truth that very few candidates will say, is that nobody up here, certainly no Republican, can address the major crises facing our country unless millions of people begin to stand up to the billionaire class that has so much power over our economy and our political life.

The Real Deal

Obviously, Sanders call for “political revolution” is alien to beltway politics as usual. Jim Webb expressed the establishment disdain: “I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but I – Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come. And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff.”

Waiting for a political revolution seems a bit like waiting for Godot. But ask yourself, which of these views is more realistic? Clinton’s claim is a less bumptious version of Donald Trump: “Trust me. I know how to do this. I can get this done.” How plausible is it to believe that Clinton’s experience and expertise can enable her to work with Republicans to effect the change we need? We know there are bad deals that can be cut. But real reform?

“Revolution soon come” seems like a fantasy. But Sanders’ view that nothing will change unless people rise up, demand change, go to the polls in large numbers and hold their representatives accountable is compelling. And by not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, by not setting up a super PAC, by raising stunning sums in small donations (nearly $2 million in the hours after the Democratic debate), he isn’t just calling for a popular movement, he is helping to build it.

October 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

The Way Young Women Talk Today Makes Them Appear Weak & Uneducated? Really?

(Reprinted in part from The Guardian – Young Women, Give Up Your Vocal Fry and Reclaim Your Strong Female Voice. By Naomi Wolf.)

The most empowered generation of women ever – today’s twentysomethings in North America and Britain – is being hobbled in some important ways by something as basic as how they use their voices. This demographic of women tends to have a distinctive speech pattern. Many commentators have noticed it, often with dismay. Time magazine devoted a column to the mannerism called vocal fry, noting a study that found that this speech pattern makes young women who use it sound less competent, less trustworthy, less educated and less hireable: “Think Britney Spears and the Kardashians.”

“Vocal fry” is that guttural growl at the back of the throat, as a Valley girl might sound if she had been shouting herself hoarse at a rave all night. The less charitable refer to it privately as painfully nasal, and to young women in conversation sounding like ducks quacking. “Vocal fry” has joined more traditional young-women voice mannerisms such as run-ons, breathiness and the dreaded question marks in sentences (known by linguists as uptalk) to undermine these women’s authority in newly distinctive ways. Slate notes that older men (ie those in power over young women) find it intensely annoying. One study by a “deeply annoyed” professor, found that young women use “uptalk” to seek to hold the floor.

Amy Giddon, director of corporate leadership at Barnard College’s Athena centre for leadership studies in New York, found in original research that “there is a disconnect between women’s confidence in their skills and abilities – which is often high – and their confidence in their ability to navigate the system to achieve the recognition and advancement they feel they deserve. Self-advocacy is a big part of this, and identified by many women in the study as the biggest barrier to their advancement.” In other words, today’s women know they can do great things; what they doubt – reasonably enough – is that they can speak well about those great things.

There's no power in talking with a vocal fry.

When you ask young women themselves what these destructive speech patterns mean to them, you get gender-political insights. “I know I use run-on sentences,” a 21-year-old intern at a university told me. “I do it because I am afraid of being interrupted.” No one has ever taught her techniques to refuse that inevitable interruption. “I am aware that I fill my sentences with question marks,” said a twentysomething who works in a research firm. “We do it when we speak to older people or people we see as authorities. It is to placate them. We don’t do it so much when we are by ourselves.”

What is heartbreaking about the current trend for undermining female voice is that this is the most transformational generation of young women ever. They have absorbed a feminist analysis, and are skilled at seeing intersectionality – the workings of race, class and gender. Unlike previous generations, they aren’t starting from zero. They know that they did not ask to be raped, that they can Slutwalk and Take Back the Night, Kickstarter their business ventures and shoot their own indie films on their phones – and that they deserve equal pay and access.

Which points to the deeper dynamic at play. It is because these young women are so empowered that our culture assigned them a socially appropriate mannerism that is certain to tangle their steps and trivialise their important messages to the world. We should not ask young women to put on fake voices or to alter essential parts of themselves. But in my experience of teaching voice to women for two decades, when a young woman is encouraged to own her power and is given basic skills in claiming her own voice then huge, good changes follow. “When my voice became stronger, people took me more seriously,” says Ally Tubis. “When people feel from your voice that you are confident, they will believe that you are smarter, and that you are better at what you do – even when you are saying the exact same thing.”

July 28, 2015 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

An Error Does Not Become a Mistake Until You Refuse To Correct It

April 24, 2015 at 5:59 pm 1 comment

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Shelby L. Phillips

As an intuitive transformational messenger of hope, a communicative wife of 25 years, and an open-hearted mother of two, I take pleasure in telling good news stories, connecting people to the eight dimensions of well-being, and inspiring us to love ourselves and each other because life really is worth celebrating! Find out more about me at ShelbyPhillipsConnects.com

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