Politics

George Soros and The Politics of Fear

“Fear again. If you want to control someone, all you have to do is to make them feel afraid.” Paul Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

George Soros–the most evil man on this planet. Really, I wondered aloud as I read a post from an anti-Soros Facebook group? Over the past few years, as more repressive, right-wing governments have gained popularity in some Western democracies, Soros has become THE go-to bogeyman.

While I don’t personally know the wealthy philanthropist, I seriously doubt he’s responsible for all the global mischief he’s been (and is still being) accused of causing by right-wing media outlets and conspiracy theorists. The list of accusations includes but is certainly not limited to: the Arab Spring uprising in the Middle East, refugee invasion of Europe, Black Lives Matter Movement, Ukrainian Revolution and most recently the much-publicized ‘migrant caravan’ heading toward the US/Mexico border. Soros has been labeled the king of the Institutional Left by far-right Brietbart News and was accused by Donald Trump of paying women to protest during the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Post from an anti-Soros Facebook account. Credit: BBC

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CultureEnvironment

Making a Commitment to Sustainability

“Climate change probably represents the biggest threat to human health over the next 10 or 20 years.”

Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

The term ‘sustainability’ has been bandied around in academic circles and popular culture for decades, possibly to such an extent that it’s simply become another buzzword to be ignored. Google ‘sustainability’ and the Oxford Dictionary will offer the following:

Even the example sentences offered by the trusted source above reflect the contradictions inherent in the way we interpret sustainability and rationalize the consumer choices we make on a daily basis. On the one hand, we want ‘sustainable’ economic growth and all the material goodies it brings. On the other hand, we expect to breathe clean air, drink pure water and be able to build our houses safely on the edge of vast oceans.

Are these two scenarios mutually exclusive? Is it really possible to maintain current Western standards of living without endangering the health of our planet and the very existence of our species?

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CultureVisual Arts

Artemisia Gentileschi–Italian Painter and Heroine

Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1638-39. Artist: Artemisia Gentileschi.

The 17th century artist Artemisia Gentileschi was a woman who possessed a wealth of strength and intelligence that enabled her to overcome personal adversity and gender-based discrimination to become an acclaimed Italian Baroque painter. The power with which she imbued her female characters led to her rediscovery and a resurgence in her popularity in Western culture during the final decades of the 20th century.

I first discovered Artemisia’s brilliant work during the 1990s on a visit to a local Seattle bookstore. While leafing through the full-page color plates of some of her most arresting paintings, I was captivated by the psychological depth given to the female heroines she often painted as well as her mastery of techniques such as chiaroscuro (the play of light against darkness), adding a dramatic dimension which gives these figures both realism and a larger than life feel.

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CultureVisual Arts

Street Art in Lima, Peru

One of my favorite aspects of living in Latin America is the abundance of street art that adorns buildings, alleys and bridges, especially in the major cities.

On my recent visit to Lima, Peru, I made sure I booked a room in the rapidly gentrifying hipster neighborhood of Barranco which is ground zero for Lima’s street art scene. The largest collection of paintings can be found in the area around the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros) which has a reputation for being a popular place for young lovers to stroll.

Lima’s street art is particularly welcoming considering the city’s skies are perpetually gray for long stretches of the year. In addition, the city’s gray concrete walls and nondescript buildings make great canvases for creative street artists.

As is true of cities in Colombia and Ecuador, these colorful exterior scenes highlight each country’s ethnic diversity and native traditions as they merge with contemporary issues and international themes. Local artists–as well as the general population–love vibrant color and this is reflected in their art.

Since I believe the images speak for themselves, this introduction is brief. Enjoy this visual feast!

The Bridge of Sighs–Puente de los Suspiros.

Bridge of Sighs.

The Bridge of Sighs viewed from the opposite direction.

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Human Rights

How to Help Venezuelans in Need

In an article published this week, my friend Christopher Burke has included a list of organizations that are working to help Venezuelans in need, both those within their country and those living as refugees in neighboring Colombia. For more information, please follow the link below.

http://occasionalplanet.org/2018/09/25/venezuelas-sick-economy-is-killing-its-citizens-heres-how-to-to-help-them/

The first ‘help’ link–The Venezuelan Society of Palliative Medicine–is no longer working which is an indication of how severe the crisis in medical care is within Venezuela.

peace~henry

Human RightsPolitics

Putting a Face on Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis

For those who have been paying scant attention to the news-worthy articles tucked between Trump headlines, the on-going humanitarian crisis in Venezuela may be but a blip on an already disorienting radar screen. However, with the pending collapse of President Nicolas Maduro’s government looking more inevitable as the days pass, along with limits to immigration being high on the agenda of many countries, this is a crisis to which we should all be paying attention.

Each day, Venezuelans are dying from malnutrition and treatable diseases due to hyperinflation that’s driving up prices and causing severe shortages of basics like food and medicine. The callous mindset that rules in Caracas was once again placed on international display this past week when President (and dictator) Maduro and his wife dined on the finest cuts of beef at an expensive soirée in Istanbul while his own people were starving back in Venezuela.

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NatureTravel

Peru’s Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.  UNESCO designation 1983

Machu Picchu’s stunning setting has contributed to making it South America’s most iconic and visited archaeological site. In this view, the pyramid-shaped Huayna Picchu (on the right) can be seen towering above the site.

As is often said about journeying to a new destination, getting there is half the fun. This is definitely the case when it comes to traveling to Peru’s UNESCO crown jewel of Machu Picchu (sometimes spelled Machupicchu).

The citadel sits high on an awe-inspiring mountain at 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level and is surrounded by cliffs on three sides that plunge thousands of feet down to the Urubamba River which twists and turns below. These natural barriers made the city easier to protect during the 100 years or so it was inhabited by the Inca and also helped spare it from destruction by the invading Spanish armies in the mid-1500s.

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