Friday, October 23, 2015

To Russia With Love

My Mothers Side from Russia, Poland, Eastern Europe
I have been writing these blogs for several years now.  I am approaching the magic number of 20,000 views.  My readers come from all over the world, however the three highest countries of origin are the USA, Canada and Russia.

I love the fact that the internet has made our locations irrelevant.  I am an immigrant to the USA and the child to immigrants to Canada. Now, I live in the USA and I am from Toronto Canada so I expect to get some following in each place.  Just my mother alone probably makes up a lot of the numbers coming for Canada.  LOL.  Yet I have readers from all over the world.

I have to thank all those over the seas that seem to really like reading my blogs. I am glad to be making an impression in other parts of the world.  But the numbers from Russia surprised me.  I love the fact that the internet is breaking down the barriers between countries and people.  I love the fact that there is a core group of folks in Russia that enjoy my writing.

So for the Russians out there I wanted to give you a little background info about my Russian Heritage.  My mother was born in Northern Siberia in a small town called Yask.  Not sure on how that is spelled or frankly even pronounced.   Fiddler on the roof is a great example of my family's roots.   My roots go back to Russia, Poland, Israel and Scotland.

I spent some time in Israel in the early 90's.  There was huge immigration coming in from Russia.  I did a kibbutz language program called an Ulpan.  IT is a program where you learn Hebrew and work on the kibbutz.   It was on kibbutz Mizra.  At least half the participants were from Russia.  They earned my respect rather quickly.  The North Americans and European's were struggling with Hebrew and the Russians learned Hebrew and English quickly and with a hunger to learn more.

I have one story to share about that experience.  At kibbutz everyone ate in a communal dinning hall.  Families lived in their own apartments but took most of their meals communally.   However there was a store of food, vegetables, fruit and dry good that was open to anyone to take.   I remember that the Russian immigrants were so pleased to have access to this unlimited food source.  They would take as much as they could carry back to our small dorm rooms we all shared.

They would stay up late drinking arak, singing, eating crackers, and smoking seriously strong cigarettes.   It was several months before they truly felt confident that the stores would continually be replenished and that they did not need to take more then they needed for immediate use.   Watching this transition in a person was tremendous and a honor to watch.

Here is a rather cheesy video of the kibbutz.  But it is rather true to it's reality.   I don't think they offer Ulpan's anymore.  I think they changed that area into a hotel.

So thanks for taking an interest in my blog.  Keep reading, Keep sharing and enjoy.

Oh, as a note I am now writing a lot of material for the following ventures.  Feel free to check them out if you want to read more of my stuff.

Friday, October 2, 2015

So do you think that Women's Rights are being Limited? Lets talk

I have been living in the USA for 19  years and I get more and more disturbed by the tendencies to dismiss the horrible. The attach on Women has got to stop . We are so desensitized by it's constancy that people do not even react anymore.  Some folk share a post or two on Facebook, venting some spleen but the march continues.  It makes you wonder if the Matrix is real.  We get pissed off enough to vent a little and then we move on about our struggle.

So, I will give you an examples: The attack on a women's right to control her body.  This goes from access to healthcare all the way to the right to choose.

I live in Missouri where the political powers are frankly nuts.  They are so caught up in their religious convictions that they can't separate the role of government from the role of religion.  Both can often be used to help guide and control the populous.  However, one is supposed to come from the religious guidance, of what ever brand you subscribe to, while the other is supposed to come from the people and the rights prescribed by our national structure and base.

Lets get down to the issue.  Abortion.  In Missouri there are currently 2 places you can go to get an abortion.  We are not talking about if you agree with the right to have one or not.  We are talking about the fact that it is not illegal in this country, and it is the right of every woman to decided the future of her body.  It's access is being restricted and so thus are our rights.

If you happen to be from the the southern part of the State you may find yourself a 5 hour drive away from a clinic.  So lets say you:

  • Don't have a drivers license 
  • Don't have a car
  • Don't have anyone that will go with you
  • Don't have the money for gas
  • Don't have time off work
  • Have family, etc to take care of and can't disappear for 12 hours
  • etc.
Will you have a child because you can't access services?   

Next the laws passed by this States government require you to see a counselor before you can have this done.  You must see someone who will try to convince you not to have an abortion.  This is not a decision someone makes easily. It is one of the hardest things a women will ever do.  

Then you have to wait several days for a "reflection period" before the procedure and go through other appointments. This will require you to do the trip to the clinic around 3 times.  So now you may be taking three days off work, spending 100's in gas, missing family commitments. never mind if it is winter and the roads are bad.

For many people the above run around is just not even an option. So in reality women are having babies because they can't get to a clinic.  I am talking about life long poverty for them and their child, I am talking about not getting to go to college, not getting a chance at a career, staying with abusive partners, taking unnecessary medical risks, having babies that are addicted to drugs and alcohol before they are even born, having children of rape and incest, etc etc.   

Then add in that the Planned Parenthood here in Columbia has been harassed over and over, having it's ability to provide services restricted at every turn.  

  1. There has been a protest outside it's building for years.  Literally years.  It is a religious protest of people that pray holding horrible anti-abortion signs.  They bother people as they come in and out for services.  They hold up a sign for people to honk thus penetrating the building and constantly reminding those inside of their message.  
  2. Columbia's Planned Parenthood was stopped from providing abortions from 2013 until August of 2015 pending an investigation that came out as being completely unnecessary and without any negative findings. 
  3. Now the Political Leaders of this State  used extortion to pressure the leadership of the University of Missouri to pull the admitting rights of the one physician that provides abortions in Columbia.  Without these admitting rights, within a 30 mile radius, a doctor can not provide surgical services.  So as of December, this in turns shuts down one of the two places in the State where women can get services.  Oh did I mention that Senator Schaefer threatened to withhold the University of Missouri's funding if they did not strip the doctor of their admitting rights?  Here is the article if you wish to learn more.  Kansas City Star Article about this issue.  Now Schaefer happens to be the Chair of the State Appropriations Committee, the Chair of the Sanctity of Life Committee and he is running for Attorney General next year.  Check out this article with some of his scarier tactics and points.
This leaves us in a position that our civil liberties are being abused.  This is not OK.   Yet you hear people say "What can we do?" and "I just don't pay attention to the news, it is too terrible..." or the classic "It does not effect us..."  Well it effects everyone and it effects our society, our poverty levels, our levels of struggle and our life as a people.