Politics

More Arms in the Middle East

…the US Government instead chose the path of aggression and death in partnership with Saudi Arabia…

The civil war in Yemen began in 2015 and has been particularly deadly for innocents–men, women and children. It’s been made even more so due to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of remote-controlled weaponry, much of it produced in the USA which is one of the coalition partners.

On August 9th, a coalition airstrike killed at least 51, 40 of them children on a bus which was parked outside a market at the time of the strike. The deadly bomb used in the attack has been identified as a laser-guided MK-82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the largest US defense contractors.

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Human Rights

We All Need Encouragement

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”    William Arthur Ward

Mother and Child at Ellis Island Immigration Station–early 20th century.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

 

This quote is just what I needed to read today!

peace~henry

 

CultureVisual Arts

Street Art in Oman?!!

Imagine my surprise when one of my Omani students told me that the walls of his entire village had been painted by a local street artist. “Really,” I exclaimed with glee! “I love street art!”

On the following weekend, I headed north from the port city of Sohar in a bid to capture on video whatever I found. What I discovered in a small fishing village just west of the slightly larger town of Liwa was much more than I had expected. The walls of the village were indeed covered in art—an assortment of male faces—from the walls immediately surrounding the local mosque all the way to the sea.

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Health and Well-being

Maintaining Inner Balance in a Turbulent World

I don’t know about you, but maintaining a balanced state of being is my greatest challenge in life. As if it weren’t already difficult enough to deal with my own monkey mind, it’s an even greater challenge not to allow the words or actions of others to affect our emotional state of being. Like a pendulum, my mood can swing from one extreme to another. It’s enough to give one mental whiplash!

Technology’s role

It seems that one of technology’s greatest strengths—the ease of sharing information–is rapidly becoming its Achilles heel as humans are now being bombarded on a daily basis by an avalanche of data, information and imagery. Personally, I’m consciously aware that the chatter and inner conflict I experience has become more pronounced as I’ve delved ever more deeply into the realm of my online existence.

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Culture

Popayán, Colombia–Romantic Colonial Jewel

 

Francisco José de Caldas Park, with it’s ancient towering trees and floral gardens, has marked the heart of Popayán’s colonial era historic district for almost 500 years.

Detail of sculpture on the front facade of the Church of San Francisco. This beautiful church–see header image above–is one of the few buildings in the historic district that is painted a color other than white.

If American playwright Tennessee Williams had been born in Latin America, it surely would have been in southern Colombia’s former capital of Popayán. Walking the lonely streets of Popayán’s historic center after nightfall reminds me of discovering a forgotten antebellum town in the southern USA, albeit with Spanish Colonial architectural roots.

Old Town Popayán gets up early every morning and makes sure to put on just a bit of lipstick and rouge for the day, but by nightfall she has lost her energy so she walks slowly home, closes her shutters and abandons her streets to the happenstance traveler who is curious enough to seek out unique cultural experiences not too far off the well-trod tourist trail.

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Human Rights

Privilege and Responsibility

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2016 there were an estimated 152 million children world-wide who were working to help support their families instead of attending school.

These young girls in Luxor, Egypt were rowing across the Nile in search of tips.

As a teacher, I find such statistics both saddening and alarming since it means these children won’t have a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty. Even though education is highly prized in many parts of the developing world, particularly in India, dire financial circumstances sometimes dictate that children must work during the day in order to have enough rice for the family to eat at night.

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CultureVisual Arts

The Amazing Street Art Scene in Bogotá, Colombia

As a great lover of colorful urban landscapes, I’ve traveled to many of the world’s most noted cities for street art. Berlin and Athens are two that immediately spring to mind. After visiting Colombia’s thriving capital, Bogota, several times over the past year, I would definitely add this high-altitude city set against a background of dramatic Andean peaks to a list of the world’s most interesting street art locations.

Sadly, Bogota’s street art scene was both accelerated and legitimized by a tragedy–the police shooting of a young graffiti artist, Diego Felipe Becerra, in 2011. The protests that followed Diego’s death resulted in the setting aside of city-sanctioned areas for street artists to paint. Of course, as street artists by nature tend to rebel against the establishment, there’s now street art spread over large areas of the cityscape, although there are specific neighborhoods with significant clusters of walls painted by both local and internationally-recognized street artists.

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