Posted by: SWL | November 3, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in Nevada

Following close on the heels of Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood last week, we mark another significant milestone today: the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. On November 3, 1914, Nevada women were granted the right to vote.

Like all Western states except New Mexico, Nevada approved the female vote before passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which granted suffrage to all American women.

Women, don’t take suffrage for granted; cast you vote in tomorrow’s election!

The US federal mid-term elections are tomorrow (Nov. 4). Please vote, if you haven’t already cast an early or absentee ballot. I believe the current Congressional gridlock is, at least partially, an indirect consequence of low citizen participation in elections.

WordPress has partnered with the Pew Charitable Trust and Google to provide a Voter Information Tool to help you find your polling place and local ballot. You’ll find the tool below. Learn what and who you are voting for before going to your polling place.

Posted by: SWL | November 1, 2014

Happy 150th Birthday, Nevada!

150 years of statehoodSesquicentennial is a big, seldom used word that means a 150th year celebration. The word has become more common here in Nevada during this past year as the state prepared to mark the 150th anniversary of statehood.

As the Civil War raged on, the Union needed the silver produced by the mines around Virginia City. Nevada’s admission as a no-slavery Union state was rushed through Congress and approved on October 31, 1864. (Hence the state motto: “Battle Born”.)

I’ve heard that Nevada has the largest statehood celebration in the nation. In most years there is a parade, chili feed, beard contest, concerts and the World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest (in which contestants mimic the method used by early miners to make holes for dynamite). For the 150th anniversary additional events were added, creating a 4-day celebration.

I’ve lived in Nevada more than 30 years and had never went to the parade. With this year’s special celebration, I figured it was the right time.

The parade ran a whopping four hours! That’s longer than Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. There were politicians, bands, businesses, school groups, scouts and entries from counties and cities across northern Nevada. (There was little participation from the southern part of the state – no Las Vegas area politicians or school groups, which is a shame since this was a celebration for the entire state.)

When my spouse and I arrived, we happened to find a small empty patch of sidewalk near the announcer’s booth. The most interesting thing happened at the start of the parade. A woman with a beautiful voice began to sing the national anthem over the audio system. Within a few bars, people for at least two blocks in each direction fell silent. I’ve been through the ritual at sporting, school and civic events, but it’s never been as quiet as it was on Carson Street today. Very impressive.

Start of Nevada Day Parade

Start of Nevada Day Parade

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

Humboldt County entry

Humboldt County entry

Posted by: SWL | October 4, 2014

Arizona State Stuns USC with Last Second TD

Sparky's pitchfork

Fear the Fork!


Whoo-hoo! What a fourth quarter!!!

As we watched the ASU Sun Devils battle #16 USC in the LA Coliseum, our optimism surged and waned as the lead changed hands throughout the first three quarters. By the start of the fourth quarter, ASU was down by 9 and had used all their time-outs. The consensus of the audience at my house was, “Wasting all their time-outs will cost ASU the game.”

The Sun Devils fought their way to a TD with a handful of minutes left on the clock. Their on-side attempt on the kickoff ended up in Trojan hands, and USC soon got a TD of their own. Arizona State answered quickly with yet another TD. So they were back where they had been two minutes earlier, but now had only a little under 3 minutes to get a field goal to win.

They managed to hold the Trojans on the next series, but less than a minute remained in the game. After a play or two, the question was whether they had enough time left to set up the field goal that would put them ahead by one. We expected ASU QB Mike Bercovici to throw toward a receiver near the sidelines to stop the clock; the FOX Sports commentators expressed the same thought. Everyone – except the Sun Devils on the field and coach Todd Graham – was shocked to see Bercovici throw a huge arcing pass toward the end zone. The ball looked overthrown and destined to be intercepted by a waiting USC player. But ASU’s Jaelen Strong made a giant leap to capture the ball, landing with one foot on the goal line with one second on the clock! As the other foot came down, the clock ran out. Absolutely amazing on its own, but even more so considering ASU’s crushing 35 point loss last week to UCLA and that Bercovici had been the back-up QB just two weeks ago. (Even in last week’s defeat Bercovici had a great performance, setting school records. His stats were great this week too. Makes you wonder what Coach Graham will do when Taylor Kelly’s injured foot is healed.)

The only other Arizona State football game that I’ve seen that was as exciting was the 1978 meeting between these same two teams, when ASU was still in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). ASU won that match too (20-7), against what at that time was a much stronger PAC-8 opponent. Our cheering from Sun Devil Stadium could be heard at the opposite side of the Tempe campus long after the game was over. Tonight, in Trojan territory, USC fans left quickly and quietly.

Six teams in the top 25 lost today. ASU’s main rival, the University of Arizona, toppled #2 Oregon. ASU and Arizona will meet in the annual “Duel in the Desert” in November.

Go NinersWhat happened to my 49ers this season? The same key personnel as last year are present, and those who were on the injured reserve early last season are healthy this year. But they look like a different team!

SF Coach Jim Harbaugh is a serious guy; he rarely even smiles when the team gets a TD. I would assume he handles the team with the same seriousness and expects players to play tough and fairly. The nine penalties against the Niners yesterday and 16 the week before are definitely not the norm for them. What is going on?

While the 49ers’ defense looked pretty good Sunday, the Cardinals’ defense was exceptional, putting pressure on SF QB Colin Kaepernick during virtually every play. But I think the penalties, which totaled over 100 yards, were the biggest factor in this loss.

The guys need to get their emotions under control immediately. Another loss this early in the season could keep San Francisco out of the play-offs months down the road.

This morning, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that climate change is the most serious threat facing the US and the world.

Is he kidding???

There are a number of threats to humanity that are far more important – and easily proven/observed (as compared to the “science” of climate change).

* The ebola virus is sweeping through western Africa and could go global through modern air travel. More than 2000 have died already. Ebola will kill more people in the short term than any climate change could in twice the time.
* The electronic waste from the developed world (2.4 million tons annually from the US) is poisoning much of the developing world. Eighty percent of US e-waste is sent to other countries, principally in Asia. In some places there are actual businesses that takes apart devices, but without environmental oversight, allowing lead and mercury to poison the land and water in the area. Where e-waste is just dumped, children often burn devices to extract copper wire to sell. Burning releases toxic gases which make the children ill.
* ISIS has killed thousands of people simply for their thoughts or beliefs. They or their sympathizers have already attempted to implement their terror campaign in Australia (fortunately thwarted) and have vowed to bring it to the US and Britain. US military experts say defeating ISIS could take a decade or more. ISIS could easily murder a million people in that time. Climate change won’t take a million lives in the next 10 years.
* According to the aid group World Vision, a child dies from hunger every minute. Money spent in a futile effort to change long-term world-wide weather patterns would be better spent on food and farming education.

Even if you buy into the claim that the climate change that is happening is cause by humans (sorry, mere mortals cannot seriously impact something as huge as the world’s climate/circulation system), predictions are made for theoretical scenarios with people who are not even alive now. I make lists, organize and attempt to identify potential problems for future events for my family, so I am in favor of looking at the long-term affects of current policies and behaviors. But there are people suffering right now who see no hope for their children or grandchildren. If (big question mark) we could make a change in global temperature of one degree in the next 100 years, the high cost to governments and industry would make life even more difficult to the people living through those 100 years. Much of the population in the developing world could not survive if food and services cost more. Not to mention that the one degree change would not make any significant difference to the environment.

I appreciate people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. But I am saddened by those who waste their energies on concerns that are beyond their lifetime, while ignoring the needs of the moment. Some of the demonstrators in NYC on Sunday have been swept away by enthusiasm or ignorance, others are using the issue of climate change for political or professional gain. I am not sure where Secretary of State Kerry is on that spectrum, but I am sure that he knows his statement is untrue. It made him look ridiculous.

Posted by: SWL | September 10, 2014

Media Focuses on Wrong Aspect of Ray Rice Video

For two days I’ve been hearing news anchors debating whether the NFL Commissioner knew about the video of the Ravens’ Ray Rice shoving his then girlfriend (now his wife) against the wall of an elevator. (Actually, most of the anchors were convicting and condemning as if they knew every detail of the situation.)

Domestic violence is an issue that does not get enough attention. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens did not treat this incident as seriously as they should have. But they were called out for that, have apologized and fired Rice.

That aspect of the incident is over and done. Anything else is a law enforcement matter and/or a problem for the Rices to work out, hopefully with professional counseling.

The media missed the point almost entirely. A question that should have been explored with experts is why Janay Rice married a man who treated her so poorly. But I guess that is a private matter between her and Ray. But general questions of why so many women stay with abusive men and often recant abuse accusations could have been debated. Discussions of these aspects of domestic violence would educate viewers, which is more helpful than speculating who knew what when.

Posted by: SWL | September 5, 2014

2014-15 Season Opener: Packers-Seahawks

Flying the Packers' colorsThe NFL officially opened last night with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Seahawks in Seattle.

For some reason, I’ve had a difficult time building enthusiasm for football – college or pro – this year. Last year I rearranged my schedule to be sure I could see all the Forty-Niner and Packers preseason games. Last month I caught only 2 of the 5 broadcast in our area.

Of course, preseason is a bit boring. Most of the first-string plays only the first quarter, and generally plays cautiously to avoid injuries. During San Francisco’s first home game in their new Levi’s Stadium, I decided that QB Colin Kaepernick needs to stay healthy because I was not at all impressed with any of the 3 QB’s vying for the #2 spot. (On the other hand, Denver has some good potential back-up for Peyton Manning.)

Candlestick Park 2013

Candlestick Park 2013

Last year’s excitement may have been caused in part by anticipation of attending the season opener between San Francisco and Green Bay (my fave team and my
Candlestick farewell logo (2013)

Candlestick farewell logo (2013)

spouse’s) to say farewell to Candlestick Park. Between the cost and the distance, we’ve only attended 4 games in the last 15 years. Even with a monster headache that day, it was exciting to see last year’s game in person.

But there are positive things about watching the game at home. Last night it was great not having to fight the crowds to get back to my seat with a freshly made bratwurst!

The only disappointment of the evening was the final score! It wasn’t a big surprise – playing the reigning Super Bowl champions with most of the offensive line out with injuries is tough. Hopefully those guys are healthy very soon.

Thousands of children from Central American countries have poured over the US border this year – already about 20,000 more than in 2013. There are reports that many of these children have health problems, from head lice to worse. Cities near the border are protesting the Department of Homeland Security busing these illegal immigrant children to their areas.

So what is President Obama doing? So far, very little. Administration officials appeared on the Sunday news talk shows, but offered only vague answers.

The President will be going to Texas this week for a fundraising event, but will not visit any location on the border to see the situation for himself.

Democrats ridiculed President George W. Bush when he flew in Air Force One over the areas with damage from Hurricane Katrina. They insisted he needed to visit New Orleans in person.

How come no one is urging President Obama to see the conditions on the border with his own eyes?

This Independence Day, the US is fractured, deeply divided along political and social lines. Politicians, judges and special interest groups want to help (or cater to or placate) some citizens in ways that often infringe on or openly oppress the Constitutional rights of others. The only independence we see is the promotion of the idea that we can each be independent of any person or government entity having any control over our lives – which of course, is fiction. (The IRS, a boss, teachers/professors have control over portions of your life, just to name a few.) We have taken our cherished ideal of independence so far to the extreme that Americans are now having trouble living together.

Maybe it is time to look back at what the first Americans were fighting for, and what their concept of our new government looked like. There are many places where you can read quotes from our founding fathers*. Here are three that stood out to me as I read through many quotes today.

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Adams, US president

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness, which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government – and all the blessings which flow from them – must fall with them.”
Jedediah Morse, founding father

“I’ve lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We’ve been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”
Benjamin Franklin, founding father

Enjoy your Fourth of July activities! God bless the United States.

.
* Founding fathers’ quotes:

http://www.foundingfatherquotes.com/

http://foundersquotes.com/

http://www.constitutionfacts.com/?section=funZone&page=famousQuotes.cfm

Posted by: SWL | June 25, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Freed, But Back in Jail

The news a couple of days ago was that charges of adultery and apostasy from Islam against Meriam Ibrahim had been dropped after her lawyers appealed to the court in Sudan. (I am guessing that international pressure, more than the lawyers’ legal arguments, won her release.)

Reports today are that she and her family have been detained after allegedly trying to leave Sudan with invalid travel documents.

The US State Department apparently is now working to get her to the US legally. Hopefully this issue can be resolved quickly. Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children are US citizens.

If you have not yet contacted Congress, the White House or the State Department about this issue, click on the appropriate tab above and call or e-mail, asking them to use US diplomatic power to keep the pressure on the Sudanese government. Thank you to all my readers who have already supported Meriam with a phone call or e-mail.

We must stop passing along the lie that the religion of Islam is peaceful. There are many peaceful individual Muslims, but the practice of the religion by clerics and governments is violent and often deadly.

An ongoing incident is definitely the most outrageous in the past few years. Meriam Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Christian mother. Meriam says Christianity is the only religion she has known/practiced, although Sudanese law considers anyone born to a Muslim father to be a Muslim.

In 2011, Meriam married Daniel Wani, who is a Christian with duel Sudanese and American citizenship. (Daniel fled the civil war in southern Sudan when he was young, but later returned to the country.) They have several businesses south of Khartoum. They have a son, Martin. While Meriam was pregnant with their second child, she was put on trial for apostasy. Since Sudanese law does not recognize Christian marriages, Meriam’s marriage was annulled by the court and she was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery. She was told she had two weeks to renounce her Christian faith or be sentenced to death by hanging (after the lashings). When she refused, she was put into prison with her 20-month old son, who has become ill from the poor conditions. The death sentence will be carried out after she has weaned the baby, born at the end of May. The Sudanese state would take custody of the children, whom they consider Muslim; the law says Muslim children cannot be raised by a Christian man. (Daniel Wani has not been allowed to visit his family.)

Instead of helping an American (Daniel) to get his wife and children out of Sudan, the US State Department demanded DNA evidence to prove this is really a family!

Islamic Sharia law was made the law of Sudan in the 1980s, an act which renewed the rebellion in the southern part of the country which was mostly animistic or Christian. The southern region became an independent nation in 2011 through much international pressure.

Only occasionally have I written asking that you contact Congress concerning an issue, usually trusting your intelligence and conscience to guide you. But today I implore you to contact your members of Congress, asking them to direct the State Department to use US diplomatic power to “persuade” the Sudanese government to release Meriam Ibrahim (the wife and mother of American citizens) immediately. This is not theoretical or a potential problem – there is real danger that Meriam and her children could all die. Young Martin is ill. If Meriam dies from the lashings, her baby will die also. Even if she survives, she could be so injured that her body does not make the milk needed to nurse her baby.

Please communicate your concerns over this issue to your government; the White House can be contacted through the same website as Congress.

You can also sign an online petition here. Be advised that the site takes a long time to load.

Posted by: SWL | June 9, 2014

Miss Nevada is New Miss USA

Nia Sanchez, reigning Miss Nevada, was crowned the new Miss USA Sunday evening in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sanchez, from Las Vegas, is a fourth-degree black belt in tae-kwon-do. When asked about the high rate of sexual assault on college campuses, she spoke about the importance of women knowing how to protect themselves.

Sanchez will represent the US in the Miss Universe pageant later this year.

Posted by: SWL | June 6, 2014

70 Years Ago D-Day Changed Course of WWII

D-Day – June 6, 1944. In the early morning hours, an assault force of US and British troops crossed the English Channel. Leaders of these military forces had developed a high risk, and likely high casualty, plan to reclaim France for the Allies.

Looking toward Gold Beach

Looking toward Gold Beach

The beaches where the invasion forces would land were backed by bluffs. And atop the bluffs were German bunkers. Hours of Allied rocket fire had done little to lessen the potential for the Germans to defend their territory.

German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach

German command bunker

Adolph Hitler’s military leaders had been anticipating an Allied invasion farther to the east, where the English Channel was the narrowest. Although they were surprised on June 6, they still inflicted massive casualties on the first wave of Allied soldiers to come ashore. But the determination of the Allies, along with a bit of help from folks in the French countryside, made D-Day the turning point of World War II.

The French, and by extension most of western Europe, owe their freedom to the men who came ashore in Normandy. My daughter and son-in-law recently returned from a tour in Europe where they had about six hours to see as many of the D-Day sites as they could. They mentioned that in many of the villages along the coast, streets carry the names of military generals who directed the invasion. Time dims memories. As the French who experienced this piece of history pass away, I hope the next generation will understand what happened and be grateful.

Just as important, I hope that as the last of our WWII veterans pass on, Americans will continue to appreciate that we have had few attacks directly on American territory. Many people complain about the US providing military assistance to other nations. But as we help keep the peace overseas, it lessens the possibility that the enemies of our friends will become powerful enough to challenge us on US soil.

If you have the opportunity on this 70th anniversary of D-Day, express your thanks to a WWII vet.

General Motors announced more auto recalls today – after announcing others just yesterday. So far this year, GM has recalled over 15 million vehicles worldwide (about 14 million in the US) for various safety reasons. That is more vehicles than GM sold in 2013!

Yesterday’s recalls covered over a million vehicles with seat belt issues, another million with transmission shift cable defects, plus smaller numbers of vehicles with various problems. Today the company issued a recall for older model Chevy Aveos and Optras at risk of dashboard fires.

American taxpayers lost money when the federal government sold the GM stock it received for the bailout money invested in the company. Several people lost their lives when the ignition on Chevy Cobalts suddenly turned off, causing drivers to lose control of the car. It seems like America would have been better off if the government had not given GM a financial bailout. Apparently the federal funds were not used for safety engineering.

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