Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving: Bring back the politics of inclusion

Painting by Brownscombe showing early Thanksgiving in America
Today the United States celebrates Thanksgiving and reflects upon its past.  It recognizes the welcome early settlers had from Native Americans and how they prepared a feast to share in recognition and respect for one another in the politics of inclusion.

All of this is a good example for today's Thanksgiving and also for the nation's future, when we can welcome others, strangers to our country with the same embrace those early settlers had when they arrived in America from  many of the Native Americans, who put down fears and suspicions in order to make new friends.  They did this  when like today times were hard, food in short supply, and there were worries about the risks and dangers each new day would bring.

Let us then today in the America of 2014 greet those who are different from us with love and harmony, instead of the suspicion and rancor that comes from fear, generated by those who seek power for themselves rather than community harmony and progress for us all.

Let's remember what truly made our country great and that can protect and shelter it tomorrow and for every day to come and that is love and respect for each other.  Let us open the doors of our homes to welcome friends and strangers alike today and as long as our nation lives from this day forth.  And bring back the politics of inclusion.

Happy Thanksgiving from Carol Forsloff, Publisher and our guest writers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

History's record and public's perception of the press role differ over events like the Brown shooting

Carl Bernstein, modern reporter of the Watergate fame
Carl Bernstein has said that the media has more difficulty in being objective in the modern world, given the strong emotions surrounding events and the widespread use of the Internet. Journalists in a traditional mold followed the dictum to educate, inform and hold power to account. There is a history and a practice to help consumers decide if the modern media measures up to that traditional mold.  But in the midst of major happenings, opposing factions often blame the media for violence or confrontations, including events related to the shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath.

Michael Brown, an African American youth, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed the unarmed teenager some months ago.  The media reported many of the eyewitness remarks made regarding the shooting as well as information received from the businesses, ordinary citizens and politicians of Ferguson, Missouri, where the events took place.  When the media released a video showing someone reported to be Michael Brown stealing from a convenience store in the hours before his death, many maintained the media was one-sided and trying to disparage the victim. After the grand jury announced its decision that Officer Wilson would not be standing trial in criminal court for the killing of Brown, Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch indicted the media for its reporting, hinting at its bias toward Brown as opposed to objectively reporting the events and details in order to present an unbiased account of what happened.

As criticism is consistently aimed at the media during times of heightened emotions, the perspective of history offers us a view of the media's responsibility and its role when bad things happen, or even when good things happen or any time people need to know something of consequence to themselves and others.

The history of journalism in the United States and the notions of the special place of newspapers was best stated by two of America's great statesmen and founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. They believed the press had supreme value in the functioning of a democracy, a need to give voice to the people's need to know and desire to learn, grow and develop through reading, understanding and discussing common concerns and ideas with their peers. Jefferson and Washington had somewhat different accents on what they considered to be the essential role of a free press, but both valued it highly. The following quotes demonstrate their beliefs:
"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."-Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

"For my part I entertain a high idea of the utility of periodical publications; insomuch as I could heartily desire, copies of ... magazines, as well as common Gazettes, might be spread through every city, town, and village in the United States. I consider such vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and ameliorate the morals of a free and enlightened people".- George Washington, 1788.

Both Jefferson and Washington saw in newspapers the notion of enlightenment and the preservation of freedom provided by the press. Could they ever have anticipated the 24/7 nature of newspapers and the notion that anybody can in terms of reporting the news? Of course, we don't know for sure, since they aren't here to tell us; but we can examine their opinions and look through the prism of present experience to determine for ourselves whether or not newspapers today meet the obligations set forth by the framers of the Constitution as being essential in a free country. In short do newspapers benefit democracy as the founding fathers wanted or has news become something other than what was conceived?

Newspapers go back much further than the founding of America, with the first newspapers having been initiated by Julius Caesar with what historians say was the Roman Acta Diurna, which appeared approximately 59 B.C. This was the emperor's method of keeping his subjects informed about political and social events. News was written on large white boards then posted in popular places like the Baths. The Acta was said to have kept the Roman citizens informed about government scandals, military campaigns, trails and executions.

The Gutenberg Press, invented to Johann Gutenberg in 1447, brought modernization of methods in informing the public, allowing the spread of knowledge during the Renaissance. Newsletters were exchanged among the merchant class informing them of relevant news concerning commerce and trade. In the 15th century manuscript newssheets were widely circulated in Germany. These were often filled with sensational ritings. As an example, one of them reported on the abuse of Germans in Transylvania at the hands of Vlad Tsepes Drakul, also known as Count Dracula. It was also in this era that readers began paying a small coin to receive these pamphlets.

Media expanded in the 17th century to include local news in different parts of Europe. With the advent of the telegraph, the ability to transmit information made communication more capable, efficient and faster than it had been before, allowing news to travel to many places.

The "Golden Age" of newspapers occurred between 1890 to 1920, when the titans of print media built huge empires. These individuals included such prominent names as William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and Lord Northcliffe. The power of the press became in fact real in this era, as the owners of newspapers wielded considerable influence on the political and social landscape. The advent of radio and television brought decline in readership of print media, but not its absolute demise, as the ratio of readership of one newspaper for every two persons dropped to one for every three.

The valiant, the intrepid, the dedicated, the earnest and the tireless reporters are chronicled in a timeline of stories and names of those who have contributed to information in the best of the tradition of news. These are the folks against whom modern media might check to determine if they measure up.

Walter Cronkite was one of those finest journalists in the history of the news media. He was old school, in the tradition of looking good, sounding good, relaying news crisply and writing and speaking with clarity and facts. This was the impression of his peers and his readers over the years. His was the style of straight-talk news. The feature man of media news, Edward R. Murrow, relied on his investigative skills, his ability to deliver information in a dramatic but carefully toned and detailed way so public trust was engendered as a result. These were two journalists most experts consider to be the best in the tradition of news reporting. Both presided over major events in a fashion that folks saw as calm and competent, Cronkite with his reporting of the Kennedy assassination and Murrow his dissection, digesting and disseminating information about Joseph McCarthy and exposure the hysteria in the Senate over communism.

Today the Internet is fast becoming one of the major sources of news for millions of people. In reviewing the history and tradition of journalism, one might look through that prism of information and understanding and ask if name-calling, abbreviated speech, and trash talk that sometimes goes on would be embraced by the greats in the newspaper industry. It is also useful to examine present news from the Internet, including that done by "civilian" reporters, against the demands in a democracy as outlined by Jefferson and Washington, to be fair, balanced and focused on the good of the nation's interests.

It is what the founding fathers maintained their best hope for the country, for the media to be maintained as the hallmark of maintaining freedom for everyone.  However, in the midst of controversy, as has occurred surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, it will be difficult for many people to accept the media's neutrality or even its efforts to maintain it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beatles cross-national music ready for a 'Happy Christmas' on Fandalism

Richard Trudeau, one of the major producers of upcoming 'Happy Christmas'
Carol Forsloff---Fandalism is a place where music that can make a difference, as the "Beatles"remains a major interest of many, with fans and music who have grown up with it now older and refined musically by their years of practice.  Like the Beatles group musicians admire, those on Fandalism have the originality, creativity and talent that brings the world music that lasts and that music is made contemporary with an extravaganza soon to be released in anticipation of Christmas

Some months ago three musicians from Fandalism, Remco, Yvalain and Glenn,  were able to fuse their talents in such a way that it brought out the abilities of each one of them. Their album, like that of the Beatles, has diversity of theme, beat, and messages, the kind of music that crosses over to a wide audience because of that. The music is reminiscent of some of the more famous groups, like the Beatles, the Everly Brothers and others throughout music history. That's because there is an accent on originality that makes the difference between a group that will be listened to for decades vs one that is forgotten.  The Beatles, however, remains a particularly favorite group because they represent the decades of music.

But the value of the Internet, and the enduring power of the music of the Beatles, combined with many talents is bringing an even greater mix of music in the coming days with an arrangement inspired by Mark Taylor of the United States and Richard Trudeau of Canada respectively.

The value of the Internet can be witnessed in seeing and hearing people from diverse backgrounds working together as some of the best groups have throughout history.  But those groups we have enjoyed over the years, like the Temptations, the Beatles, the Beachboys, the Everly Brothers and many others were able to meet personally and practice.  With the advent of the digital era, however, people from across the world can join talents and create something wonderful in combination with one another.  

That's the case with the musicians on Fandalism.  Many of the performers have formed collaborations, as Remco, Yvalain and Glenn did some months ago with their music, representing as they did the Netherlands, the United States and France.  Now with the broader range of talent present for the Christmas project, the Beatles music for Christmas is likely to be an exciting event. That type of collaboration of skill and quality of music is enjoyed by a wide audience, with collaboration the key to the success of the site.

The greatest collaboration Fandalism has had will be its Christmas special, now just days away.  For fans of the site, and fans of individual musicians, it is important keep abreast of the activities to come, for a "Happy Christmas" will be soon. The music will be at your door of the Internet on November 27 with a cast of some of the best musicians from around the world.  Join the cast and all their fans as they celebrate the Beatles song of generations and more and wish the world the best of the holiday season.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Diabetes in dogs is epidemic

Border collie
As diabetes has become epidemic in people no one talks about what happens with pets. As Fido leans over the full bowl of food, much of which is fatty, and then gets to lick a little ice cream here and there, one day the poor dog ends up with bad health that leads to premature death.  What are the signs of diabetes in dogs and what should you do to help prevent it?

Fido can't tell you that he or she has a headache or is feeling lethargic because the sugar is too high or too low. Instead the poor animal goes about licking the hand that feeds it and feeds it often many of the wrong things and too much of them besides.

A look at ingredients in dog food and some reflection on how often and how much a dog is fed can lead the owner to a change for the pet's diet that can make a difference between good or bad health. Just as we look at diet balance, exercise and good attention for people, we forget that pets need the same things for the same reasons. Indulging the wants beyond certain limits will injure
the pet's physical health just as its masters. Pets need exercise, balanced diet, lean foods, limitations on fats and sugars and the type of lifestyle that inhibit the development of diabetes.

Diabetes has no cure, but there are ways to get it checked out early so that proper intervention can take place. You will find the same kind of signs for humans also are exhibited in animals. It begins with weight and obesity. If the dog's ribs can't be easily felt, the animal may be too heavy. Check with a veterinarian about proper weight for a pooch of a certain size. Increased thirst is a sign of trouble as is over eating, weight loss and frequent urination.

Fido may have more accidents then usual so needs to be checked by the doctor for a proper diagnosis and to avoid complications and additional health problems. Blood tests, just as given for humans, are conducted to check sugar levels.

Age has something to do with diabetes in animals, again as in people. One finds that Type II diabetes occurs more frequently in late mid life and early old age (45 to 65 for people) and age 5 - 7 in dogs. Dogs may also develop early diabetes or a juvenile-type, again the way that humans do. Diabetes occurs when the body does not manufacture insulin or not enough insulin for the body. Animals have the same issues when it comes to insulin requirements.

Prevention is important, but if the dog has diabetes it can still live a good life with proper care. Make sure that Fido gets regular checkups, follow the veterinarian's prescribed diet for the pet, and make sure that the dog gets walked and exercised often. Provide the fluids the pet requires because dehydration may occur. Diabetes is a difficult disease to treat in animals because they can't complain like people do so vigilance is important. Animals care for people with unconditional love, so in return deserve quality care. Prevention and care for diabetes is part of that.

Friday, November 21, 2014

'Love it or leave it' is a smokescreen that limits the American Dream

Thomas Paine, early American colonialist and author of Common Sense
Immigration has become one of the major areas of disagreement among the various factions involved in debating what to do about undocumented workers or those who have entered the United States illegally.  When folks criticize the government's action, or inaction, often the phrase, "love it or leave it" is used to challenge one's opponent, but is it effective in consolidating one's argument?

"If you don't like it, why don't you just leave,"is what some folks say to cement an argument about a political position.  It does, however, counter the American framework of the country as well as scientific principles, because it is in finding our mistakes, we learn and grow the most.
 That was the message of those who founded the United States, the arguments presented by Thomas Paine, who argued with authority. 

His arguments, his references to his disappointments and disagreements with how England ruled its colonies, and what should be American rights, became the beacon of the best of political argument in US history.  "Love it or leave it" counters Paine'sCommon Sense presentations and the fabric of debate.

This "love it or leave it" , coined originally by the famous media pundit Walter Winchell, is often used by the conservative right when losing an argument or when there is nothing to say.  This occurred during debates over the war in Vietnam, civil rights, Obama's election and the recent election as well.  It provides a smokescreen the person uses to shut off the opposition as an outsider unworthy to even be allowed to stay in the country.

Indeed "just move if you don't like it" is a paraphrase, and a way of removing opposition, when one is uncomfortable and worries he or she might have to face the facts of being wrong or even being right but still not knowing the arguments to defend them properly.  When it becomes its most insidious, however, is when it is used for scapegoating and victimization, part of the process of debate that is used by the "love it or leave it" folks.

But the statement's worst damage comes from the underlying threat that says, "You leave or we'll remove you" that often follows next, either by physical or social isolation.  What is lost, however, is the progress that can be made from looking at those criticisms and learning what needs to be done to improve an idea or place and thereby limits the very nature of the American dream, which is to grow better every day.