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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thought for today

"There are two great gifts which God, in his love for man, has granted from on high: the priesthood and the imperial dignity. The first serves divine things, while the latter directs and administers human affairs; both, however, proceed from the same origin and adorn the life of mankind."  Justinian

Obama blamed for Frankenstorm Sandy

NASA photo of Hurricane Sandy
I woke up this morning thinking about my brother-in- law saying some folks would blame President Obama for Hurricane Sandy. Then it occurred to me after reading an article about systemic and direct causation of weather disasters that maybe HAARP could be a major player in our latest weather event, moving us closer to cataclysmic 2012.

There are several articles and videos circulating on the Internet saying that Obama is to blame for Hurricane Sandy. You can read/view them for yourself and decide whether the storm is an act of God or some weird political game.

I went to NASA's site and didn't see any "chemtrails" in the satellite footage of the storm.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/archives/2012/h2012_Sandy.html

What  do you think?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Challenge to Trump: donate $5 million to Red Cross

Since Donald Trump says he has $5 million to give away, we challenge him to give it to the Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. This is a better reason to give instead of asking for President Obama's papers.

Message from President Obama on East Coast storm

This is a serious storm, but we are going to do what it takes to keep people safe and secure, and make sure the communities affected get the assistance they need. FEMA is working with state and local governments to respond effectively. We all owe a debt of thanks to the first responders who will be dealing with the immediate impact of the storm.

If you live in the storm's path, please listen to state and local authorities about where and how to take shelter and stay safe -- and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you are asked to evacuate, please take that seriously.

For more information on how to prepare for this storm, visit Ready.gov.

And if you'd like to find out how to support relief efforts where they're needed most, please visit the Red Cross or your local relief organization:

http://my.barackobama.com/Red-Cross

Michelle and I are keeping everyone in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Be safe.

Barack

Message from FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued the following recommendations for people affected by Hurricane Sandy:
  
  • Follow the direction of local officials -- If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Know the forecast in your area -- Continue to monitor your NOAA Weather Radio and your local news for severe weather updates, warnings and watches. Follow your forecast at weather.gov on your computer or mobile.weather.gov on your phone.
  • Turn around, don't drown -- The potential for heavy rains can also lead to flooding, or flash flooding in some areas. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous.
  • Make final preparations -- If you're further inland, now is the time to make final preparations. Visit ready.gov and be ready for power outages and stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, medications, and other supplies.
  • Check on your neighbor -- Make sure they're ready, too.
  • Finding shelters -- Download the Red Cross Hurricane app (redcross.org/mobile-apps/hurricane-app), visit redcross.org/find-help/shelter, or check your local media outlets. You should also register on redcross.org/safeandwell, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. Finally, you can download the FEMA smartphone app (fema.gov/smartphone-app) or text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). Standard rates apply.
  • Donate blood -- If you don't live in an affected area, please consider donating blood, because numerous blood drives have been canceled as a result of the storm. To schedule a blood donation or for more information about giving blood or platelets, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


  • For information updates, go to FEMA.gov.

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    Will Sandy become catastrophic hurricane, post tropical cyclone, or worst blizzard of 2012?

    Sandy's circulation covers 1.8 million square miles. U.S. National Weather Service map of threatened East Coast USA
    Weather advisers are predicting Hurricane Sandy will dramatically affect life on the East Coast by nightfall. Events related to the bad storm are predicted to be horrible and far-reaching, with over 1,000 miles of land and millions of people impacted.

    According to the National Weather Service, Sandy is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, coastal hurricane winds, as well as heavy Appalachian snows. Sandy is expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast later this evening.

    "In addition to long periods of sustained tropical storm-force winds, the storm will produce historic surge levels along the coast...Sometime prior to making landfall, Hurricane Sandy is expected to lose its characteristics as a tropical cyclone and take on the structure of a wintertime low-pressure area."


    "I have my generator ready," said Sherman Johnson in Willingboro, N.J. "This is something. Our mail was delivered today, but I'm headed for the post office to see if it's open," Johnson said.

    At this writing, everything is closed or closing in Silver Springs, Md.  "Just light steady rain with wind about 35 - 40 miles per hour. Every thing is closed," wrote Sharon Jackson in an email.

    Debra Corbett, an elementary school principal in Charles Town, W. Va., said schools are closed because of the weather today and tomorrow.  "It's not expected to snow here, but heavy amounts have been forecast for the West Virginia mountains."

    Corbett said she had heard reports that the storm was set to hit hard in Ocean City, Md., a famous tourist resort.

    ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Oxi Day remembered as time for heroes

    Oxi Day, celebrating the Greek people saying "No" to Mussolini during World War II, was celebrated in Marietta, Georgia at Holy Transfiguration Church following the divine morning liturgy service.

    On hand for the celebration ceremony was the Honorable Vasilios Goulousis, consul of Greece in Atlanta, who manages the country's image in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee.


    Johnson with Goulousis (Photo by Kurk Johnson)
    "We are confident that our efforts will yield results in the medium term," Goulousis said during our interview about his mission and the state of the Greek economy. When asked about his opinions concerning Greece's economic conditions being interjected into the U.S. presidential debate as a bad circumstance to emulate, Goulousis said that it is not the practice for his office to become involved in the political affairs of the United States.

    At the end of the ceremony, the consul and his mother presented Fr. Panayiotis Papageorgiou, protopresbyter of Holy Transfiguration, with two authentic Greek costumes.

    Hellenic Studies students watched as costumes were presented by Greek Consul to Father Papageorgiou. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)
    Oxi Day is regarded by Greeks as a turning point in WWII, when the Greek people were issued an ultimatum by then Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini to allow his forces to occupy Greece. The offer was declined by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas.

    "Greeks at that time didn't have many arms but were protected by the land, hillsides, mountains, and what became known as modern day guerrilla fighting tactics," said Harry
    Mavromatidis, a church member and tour guide during the annual Greek festivals held at Holy Transfiguration Church. "Greeks were heroes during WWII which is not mentioned a lot today."

    ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved. 

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Can voting machines be hacked?

    I was going to pose this question to Peter Lichtenheld who handles media inquiries for Hart InterCivic, but he has not returned my phone call or email. Hart InterCivic is a national provider of election voting systems, management products, and services with ties to the Romney family.

    What do you think? Is voting technology tamper proof?

    Photo: National Museum of American History, U.S. Government

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Politics dominating audience time as election nears

    Ga. State Senator Doug Stoner (r) debated Republican challenger Hunter Hill (l) in Georgia's 6th Senate District last night. (Photo by William Washington)
    "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Ephesians 6:12

    Every four years, we have the unique experience to become tuned in onlookers and diehard political participants, opening our eyes and ears to rhetoric ramped up to the highest degree.

    We become excited, angered, and cajoled by those who are seeking jobs to protect our interests. Why is it important for us to become involved in the political process at the local and national level?

    Because we have the free choice to decide what is truth and what is fiction.  We have the responsibility to hold politicians accountable for what they say. We have a duty to get involved in a society based on rule of law.

    To put it simply, politics permeates every segment of our lives, and those who say they don't get involved in politics are fooling themselves. Politics from the original Greek  politikos means "of, for, or relating to citizens" and is the artful science of operating governmental or state affairs but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups.

    It is a power relationship between citizens and their leaders. It is a struggle between right and wrong. That is why we should be engaged in politics, and this is why we should be encouraged to vote.

    Overflow crowd of citizens watching debate at North West Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga. (Photo by William Washington)

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Obama moves forward towards second term

    Get ready for Obama's 2012 dance.
    I usually don't like making political predictions, but after watching last night's Presidential debate, I think Mitt Romney's political life is toast.

    "Mitt didn't address women's concerns," said Thomas Carter who called me after a debate focused on foreign policy. "He agreed with most of what Obama said."  This was on a football night when many men were focused on the gridiron and women were watching Obama and Romney duke it out with words and ideas onstage. Carter, a political enthusiast, said he watched the debate but taped the game.

    How do I rate Obama's chances to win a second term?

    #1 -  Foreign policy experience - Romney has none as commander-in-chief.
    #2 -  Over the last four years, Romney has been talking about bygone days when he was a CEO but has done nothing to help the American people.
    #3 - Romney is a whiner and complainer while Obama is a leader.
    #4 - Romney is too old school to become a forward mover.
    #5 - Anne Romney is ill and cannot fully support her husband's campaign. Michelle is Barack's greatest asset.
    #6 - Although some don't like a black man being President, they can't picture a Mormon in the White House.
    #7 - Except for one indicator (the deficit), things are looking up (jobs, gas prices, trade, etc.)
    #8 - Obama is upbeat, inspirational, and charismatic.
    #9 - Obama is a savvy politician and consummate intellectual. (Can't touch that!)
    #10 - No time to change directions now.

    My prediction:

    Romney will probably garner fewer votes than McCain did in 2008. Mitt has less than 300,000 Mormons praying for him and 1% of Americans (the rich) backing him. Barack has the following voters in his corner: women, seniors, gays, African Americans, immigrants, labor union members, entertainers, the military, teachers, non-rich Americans.

    Do the math.

    ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Invest in U.S. through bond buying

    How can you help the country's economy and yourself? Think about this option - buy bonds starting at $25 each!
    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/readysavegrow/video/vid_howtoopen.htm

    U.S. debt: causes and reduction possibilities

    CHECK OUT THE DEBT CLOCK: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    As Romney attacked Obama on America's debt crises during the debate last night and also chided China for owning too much of America, I decided to compile a brief synopsis of U.S. debt which has escalated as a result of wars, lower tax rates, and global financial crisis. It must be realized that debt only becomes a problem when it is not properly managed or the owners of it decide to call in their debts. Threatening debt holders is not a good option.

    Except for about a year during 1835–1836, the United States has continuously held a public debt since the U.S. Constitution legally went into effect in 1789.

    Debt due to the American Revolutionary War amounted to $75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791. During the Civil War, debt was $65 million in 1860, passed $1 billion in 1863, and reached $2.7 billion by the end of the war. Debt increased again during World War I, reaching $25.5 billion at its conclusion.

    The buildup and involvement in World War II caused debt to reach $251.43 billion or 112.% of GDP by 1945.

    Under Reagan's lowered tax rates and increased military spending, debt as a share of GDP increased from 26.2% in 1980 to 40.9% in 1988, and continued to rise during the presidency of Bush I, reaching 48.3% of GDP in 1992.

    Debt held by the public reached 49.5% of GDP at the beginning of Clinton's first term but fell to 34.5% of GDP by the end of his presidency due in part to decreased military spending, increased taxes, and increased tax revenue resulting from the Dot-com bubble. Budget controls instituted in the 1990s successfully restrained fiscal action by the Congress and the President and together with economic growth contributed to the budget surpluses at the end of the decade.

    In the early 21st century, debt relative to GDP rose again due in part to Bush tax cuts and increased military spending caused by the wars in the Middle East. During the Bush presidency, debt held by the public increased from $3.339 trillion in September 2001 to $6.369 trillion by the end of 2008. In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, debt held by the public increased to $11.12 trillion by the end of July 2012 under President Obama.

    Causes of the Global Financial Crisis were the threat of total collapse of large financial institutions, bank bailouts by national governments, and downturns in stock markets around the world. The bursting of the U.S. housing bubble which peaked in 2006 caused the values of securities tied to U.S. real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally.

    As on 15 October 2012, debt held by the public was approximately $11.344 trillion. Intra-governmental holdings stood at $4.847 trillion, giving a combined total public debt of $16.191 trillion (103.8% of GDP.) As of July 2012, $5.3 trillion or approximately 48% of the debt held by the public was owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were China and Japan at just over $1.1 trillion each.

    Today, the U.S. national debt is $16.2 trillion, and the total debit is $58.5 trillion. Total national assets, however, are $87.4 trillion. (Figures from US Debt Clock.org.)

    How could the U.S. bring down debt? Curtail military spending, raise taxes by reforming the tax code, cut spending, encourage investment in U.S. bonds, protect seniors from poverty by reforming Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security, invest in human and physical capital (education) to promote long term economic growth, create jobs, protect the middle class, increase green energy, stop bank bailouts, reduce health care costs, and /or have some of debts forgiven.

    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%932012_global_financial_crisis
     

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Romney tape sounds akin to "southern strategy"

    Wikipedia states: In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of gaining political support or winning elections in the Southern section of the country by implicitly appealing to racism against African Americans.

    Although the phrase "Southern strategy" is often attributed to Nixon's political strategist Kevin Phillips, he did not originate it,[9] but merely popularized it.[10] In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence:
    From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...
     
    Sounds similar to this from Romney:

    "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

    You decide.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Thought for today

    "No man can be happy who lives in a continuous state of condemnation of people, conditions and things. We must learn to praise and not condemn."

    From Science Of Mind by Ernest Holmes

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    MLK won Nobel Peace Prize on this day, 1964


    When it was announced that 35-year old Martin Luther King, Jr. had won the Nobel Peace Prize 48 years ago, many in segregated Atlanta, his hometown, were not excited. Many Whites considered King a nuisance, a "rabble-rouser" and "lawbreaker," according to the Atlanta Journal Consitution newspaper.

    Others viewed King's award as a turning point in race relations in Atlanta.
    When King traveled to Oslo months later to receive the Prize, he was accompanied by 30 of his friends and family.  King was the youngest person and the first Georgian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. 

    Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, stated that MLK "... is the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence. He is the first to make the message of brotherly love a reality in the course of his struggle, and he has brought this message to all men, to all nations and races."

    King died only four years after receiving his award. In its biography of King, The Nobel Committee stated that "On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated."
    Photo credit:  Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, Dick DeMarsico, staff photographer

    Black Muslims Atonement Day to address economic issues

    The 17th annual National Day of Atonement since the Million Man March is being sponsored by the Nation of Islam, with culminating events held today in Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
     
    Farrakhan

    The convention is entitled "Mohammad's Economic Blueprint: Ending Poverty and Want." Tickets range from $20 to $100. The keynote speaker will be Nation of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan.

    On the organization's Final Call website, it said Farrakhan's upcoming speech will focus on offering guidance and advice to President Obama. “And in a second term, I think President Obama should address the condition of our people: the homelessness, the poverty, the fratricidal conflict…we can’t allow the president not to think about the people that have put him in the position of power,” said Farrakhan. 

    Food for all events, which started Friday, is being provided by Muhammad Mosque No. 36 and Lola's Restaurant in accordance with Muslim cuisine and dietary guidelines. At least 10,000 people are expected to attend.

    Photo credit: http://usembassy.state.gov/tanzania (public domain)

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    IMF distributes $1.1 billion in gold sales profits to low income countries

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) made three announcements today through its press office.

    1.  The IMF will distribute $1.1 billion in reserves attributed to windfall gold sales profits to its members in order to boost its concessional lending capacity for low-income countries during the global crisis.  Low-income countries may currently borrow at zero or low interest from the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT), the IMF’s concessional lending vehicle. The IMF sold 403.3 metric tons of gold in 2009-10 as part of a plan to ensure the long-term financing of the IMF’s day-to-day operations through the creation of an endowment using anticipated gold sales profits of some $6.8 billion. High world gold prices during the sales period, over and above the US$850 an ounce envisaged when the sales were originally planned, generated “windfall” profits of about US$3.8 billion.

    2.  Algeria and Brunei Darussalam have contributed additional financing to the IMF. They are joining a concerted action among important creditors to ensure the Fund has sufficient resources to tackle crises and to promote global economic stability. The financial pledges of US$5 billion from Algeria and US$300 million from Brunei Darussalam are in addition to US$456 billion already pledged by member countries and their institutions to reinforce the IMF’s capacity to fight crises.

    3.  Global growth has decelerated and substantial uncertainties and downside risks remain. Key policy steps have been announced, but effective and timely implementation is critical to rebuild confidence. We need to act decisively to break negative feedback loops and restore the global economy to a path of strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Advanced economies should deliver the necessary structural reforms and implement credible fiscal plans. Emerging market economies should preserve or use policy flexibility as appropriate to facilitate a response to adverse shocks and support growth.   Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the IMF Committee
     

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Hunstein says courts bogged down by inadequate technology


    According to Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein, the state's judiciary is hampered by inadequate technology, budgetary constraints, and rising numbers of cases involving meta data evidence.

    In a speech delivered last night at SPSU entitled "The intersection of technology, business and the law,"  Hunstein said Alabama has a state-of-the art electronic filing process which allows attorneys to file documents online to the County Clerk's office. "Alabama is a unified court system; Georgia is not," Hunstein said.

    Proclaiming that it has become challenging for seasoned judges to keep up with technology, Hunstein said the new face of business requires that computer geeks are on board. She said since E-discovery rules began being interpreted in 2006, courts have had to increasingly deal with technology issues.

    New terminology that the court makes judgments on include electronic evidence, spoiliation, hacktivism, and privacy issues linked to social networks. Hunstein said it is estimated that by 2013, 570 billion email messages will be sent per day which could cause nightmares when dealing with evidence.

    "It's harder for older judges to decipher technology issues because they do not know much about computer programming....I heard one case but it was referred up to the appellate court," she said.

    Hunstein said the economy has had negative impacts on court technology. "In the last two years, we've been hit hard. I just received notice that there is going to be a 3% decrease in our budget request. Furloughs of employees was not an option, so judges took a cut in pay."

    "We have constitutional requirements to provide services and should not be under budgetary restrictions." When questioned about the future, she concluded, "We're going to do the very best that we can."

    Chief Justice Hunstein was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 and is the second woman in history to serve as a permanent member of the court. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Council of Superior Court Judges. A polio survivor and divorce single mother by age 23, Hunstein lost her left leg to cancer and wears a prosthetic.

    "Women have come a long way, but we're not there yet," was her response to a question about women in her profession. "There are still those that don't want to recognize our rights. We need more mentees."

    After the speech, Hunstein was awarded a crystal statute of the SPSU watch tower.
     
    ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    International Day of the Girl Child - Oct. 11

    The United Nations has released the following statement in recognition of the International Day of the Girl Child regarding forced child marriage and slavery around the world:

    "Girls who are forced to marry are committed to being in slavery like marriages for the rest of their lives. Girls who are victims of servile marriages experience domestic servitude, sexual slavery and suffer from violations to their right to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence.

    "Every year an estimate of 10 million girls are married before they reach 18. In the most appalling of these cases, little girls as young as eight years old are being married off to men who may be three or four times their age.

    "Child marriage cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities; 46% of girls under 18 are married in South Asia; 38% in sub-Saharan Africa; 29% in Latin America and the Caribbean; 18% in the Middle East and North Africa; and in some communities in Europe and North America too."

    For more, go to: http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/2012/hrexperts.shtml

     

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    NYPD calling boy "mutt" caught on tape

    The Nation Magazine has released an audio recording of a New York City policeman assaulting a citizen with words during a routine "Stop and Frisk" moment. They also accused the teen of "wearing a hoodie" and looking suspicious. Sixteen year old Alvin was also threatened with physical abuse. The recording was made in June 2012.

    Watch a video regarding this at:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/170413/stopped-and-frisked-being-fking-mutt-video
     

    Homeless in NYC: a rising dilemma

    Too many huddled homeless in NYC
    "In New York City, we have more homeless people each night than at anytime since the Great Depression of the 1930's," said Patrick Markee, Coalition for the Homeless. Forty-six thousand people are living in shelters. Many don't make it inside and are sleeping on the streets.

    For more information on this topic, watch the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VT72l9I-5E

    Photo by Tomi Johnson

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Fiscal cliff facing U.S.

    Annual Meetings: Tokyo, Japan
    "Gradual adjustment, among other things, means avoiding a fiscal cliff in the United States...If the ceiling of public debt is not increased in the United States you would have what I would call the mother of all fiscal cliffs. You would have essentially an immediate tightening, would be necessary to bring down the deficit of the federal government from the current level, which is about 8 percent of GDP or a bit more, to zero. It would be a huge tightening. In the context of a plan, of a medium-term plan with a gradual adjustment, this kind of adjustment is clearly too large for the United States and for the world economy in 2013."

    Remarks of Carlo Cottarelli, Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, at International Monetary Fund Fiscal Monitor meeting, Tokyo, Japan

    Geithner and Bernanke attend U.S.-India economic meetings

    Geithner at meeting in June 2012
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are attending the third annual meeting of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership in New Delhi, India today.

    The U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership has served as a platform for greater cooperation on economic issues of importance to both nations. In the afternoon, Secretary Geithner will participate in a joint press conference with Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram.

    Later, Secretary Geithner will participate in a discussion on the U.S.-India economic relationship at an event hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the U.S.-India Business Council at the Leela hotel in New Delhi.

    In the evening, the Secretary and Chairman Bernanke will meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Prime Minister's office. The Secretary will then depart New Delhi en route to Mumbai, India.
     
    (From Treasury Press Center)

    Problems in Greece escalate during Merkel's visit

    File:Parthenon.JPG

    Rioters have answered German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Greece with rock throwing. It is estimated that 25,000 protesters are in Athens. Unemployment in Greece is reported at 24.4%.

    "At this rate, in 75 months there won't be a Greece left," reports Tyler Durden who also describes Greece as "facing economic death."

    I talked to Consul Lampros Kakisis at the Greek Consulate in Atlanta who gave me an unofficial response concerning my question on why uprisings in Athens against Merkel (also President of the European Council) were being held. He said demonstrations surround failed austerity measures which have not been working in the 5th year of the recession. He referred me to the Embassy in D.C. for an official response. There was no answer at the press office.

    CNN is reporting that 3,500 have committed suicide because of the economic downturn in Greece. It also reports that since "May 2012, 53.8% of Greeks younger than 25 were unemployed."

    According to CNBC.com, the country with the highest unemployment rate in the world is South Africa (24.7%) with Greece coming in second. Wikipedia, however, reports that the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean has the highest unemployment rate in the world - 78.21 percent. Vanuatu was once a French and British protectorate.

    Merkel flew out of Greece at 12:40 p.m. EST.
    Watch developments in Greece live or listen to Greek music at:
    http://www.zougla.gr/radio
    Photo credit: Onkel Tuca!

    Hunstein to speak at SPSU in Marietta

    Hunstein_CarolSouthern Polytechnic University's Department of Business Administration will present Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein as she speaks on the intersection of technology, business and the law.

    The program will begin at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, October 11, in the Joe Mack Wilson Student Center Theater at SPSU. 


    Chief Justice Hunstein was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 and is the second woman in history to serve as a permanent member of the court. She has since been re-elected by voters three times and took office as chief justice on July 1, 2009.
                    
    By age 23, this polio survivor was a divorced, single mother who had lost her left leg to cancer.                 

    Hunstein was the first woman to serve as president of the Council of Superior Court Judges. She received the Commitment to Equality Award from the State Bar of Georgia Committee on Women and Minorities in the Profession. In 1999, the American Bar Association conferred on her the Margaret Brent Award, its highest honor for women lawyers.

    In August, she was honored as “Georgia Woman of the Year” by the Georgia Commission on Women, the Georgia Women’s Institute and the Georgia Woman of the Year Committee, Inc.

    Check back on this website later for coverage details of this event. 

    Cong. David Scott fundraiser October 11


    Scott with Tomi Johnson in 2008
    A fundraiser for Congressman David Scott will be held at Paschal's Restaurant (180 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Ga.), Thursday, October 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

    In attendance will be Homerun King Hank Aaron, Ambassador Andrew Young, former Atlanta Chamber of Commerce president Herman Russell and DPG Chairman Mike Berlon.  The minimum suggested contribution to attend is $250.

    If you contribute $500 you will be added to the host committee and will get the chance to get a photo with Hank Aaron, Andrew Young, Herman Russell, and Congressman
    Scott.
                       

    If you would like to attend and/or be added to the host committee, RSVP by sending an email to congressmanscott@gmail.com.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Christopher Columbus Day should be renamed "Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Day"

    Tuskegee syphilis experiment test subjects

    National Archives and Records Administration Photo
    I'm sick of folks celebrating Christopher Columbus (CC) Day since he was a  murdering, syphilis-carrying idiot as proven by historians and journalists.

    I was misinformed by the Knights of Christopher Columbus organization which awarded me a pen and pencil set in sixth grade for writing about their hero.

    "Christopher Columbus, sitting on the dock with his red beard blowing in the wind, was waiting for his ship to come in," was the first line of my essay which I don't have a copy of since it was written before Xerox machines.

    Growing up, though, I read the books which chronicled CC's slaughtering of whole Indian tribes. Plus, he never set foot in North America. Amazing how we put the wrong people on pedestals.

    Christopher Columbus is no hero, with his three ships and rowdy band of men. I will not be going out to buy anything today in his honor. What he did was all a horrible fantasy which has driven customers mad one day a year.

    Instead of celebrating this man who probably had neurosyphilis, we should think about the families who were harmed in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. This Day should be renamed Remember Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Day! Let's uplift the survivor's families instead of CC and learn their stories. Fact is more important than fiction. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_syphilis_experiment

    Dead Sea Scrolls on exhibit at Philly's Franklin Institute

    Credit: Matthew Peyton

    The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient manuscripts from the Hebrew Bible, are on exhibit along with hundreds of ancient biblical artifacts at the Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street in Philadelphia through Sunday, October 14, 2012.

    Credit: Donna Brown

    While the scribes of the scrolls are unknown, the ancient texts shed light on the language used in the Bible, much of which remains unchanged to this day. The scrolls were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean on parchment, papyrus and bronze.
     
    Credit: Donna Brown
    The world debut exhibition, Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times , features one of the largest collections of the 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls ever displayed in North America as well as a three-ton stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Twenty scrolls are accompanied by more than 500 items from the biblical era including many newly discovered Holy Land artifacts.
     
    Visitors can also experience a compelling scale recreation of a section of Jerusalem’s Western (or Wailing) Wall complete with an authentic three-ton stone from the Wall in Israel. Prayer slips left on the wall during the exhibition will be taken to Jerusalem and placed on the Western Wall itself.

    Credit: Donna Brown
    The first cache of scrolls was discovered in 1947 when a Bedouin shepherd casually tossed a rock into a cave and heard a pot shatter. Over the next eight years, archaeologists excavated a series of caves and found thousands of parchment fragments that included the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible.

    This exhibition is created by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from the collections of the Israel National Treasures and produced by Discovery Times Square and The Franklin Institute.


    For ticket information, go to: http://www.fi.edu/scrolls/.
    
    Credit: Donna Brown

    Weddings start successful family affairs

    The beautiful wedding of Brandon and Jillian Watters blended rich fall colors with love. (Photo by Kurk Johnson)
    Waking up to the news that two unrelated weddings ended in a deadly brawl in Philadelphia early Sunday morning, I was remembering my cousin's wedding this weekend with a sigh of relief...nothing visibly bad went down at the marriage of Jillian and Brandon Watters in Huntsville, Ala.

    "This is one great big family reunion," said Tonya Douglas, mother of the bride. And it was. I took my whole family of five with me because I felt wanted and loved at this special occasion. "The father of the bride, Alfred Douglas, made everyone feel important and beautiful," said Ilea Johnson, cousin of the bride.

    Bride Jillian dances with father, Alfred, as grandparents look on. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)
    This wedding was the only one where I didn't have to pull out my Kleenex, for I always cry at weddings. Why didn't I need tissues this time? Because everything was fun, upbeat, and natural.

    Photo by Tomi Johnson
    No wedding is perfect, nor should it have to be. One candle remained stubbornly unlit during the lighting ceremony. The minister, Dr. Wayne Snodgrass, walked in on a cane to the beat of the music.  The groom made jokes. The bride read her own vows which highlighted how she had loved her groom since junior high school. The entire audience laughed. There was no asking for anyone to hold their peace.  

    The bride's shoes were as frilly as her gorgeous dress which seemed poured onto her body. The orange satin bridesmaid's dresses were exceptionally pretty. The flowers, designed by the bride's family which has owned a florist for over 50 years, were exquisite. At the reception, older family members watched the crowd dancing, remembering when they were young and more flexible. Afterwards, the bride's siblings and cousins partied until 4:00 a.m. at different venues around the city.

    What a wonderful way to remember the happiest day of a couple's life!

     ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    What did Romney promise kids and women last night?

    
    After the debate, social media reminded us that Romney, who lives off interest income, promised to do away with Big Bird if he becomes President, but women need to think about Romney's promise to repeal Obamacare. As of August 1, 2012, as many as 47 million women became eligible to get free access to preventive health care services due to a provision in Obamacare.
     
    "Too often, they have gone without preventive services...But now, thanks to the health care law, many women won't have to make that choice" because they can't afford a co-pay, said Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
     
    The following eight services without paying a co-pay were made availabe on August 1, 2012:


  • Well-woman visits: This would include an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their health care providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their health care providers determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.

  • Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.

  • HPV DNA testing: Women who are 30 or older will have access to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of Pap smear results. Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.

  • STI counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28 percent of women aged 18-44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse.

  • HIV screening and counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on HIV. Women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men.


  • Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Women will have access to all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. These recommendations do not include abortifacient drugs. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives. Contraception has additional health benefits like reduced risk of cancer and protection against osteoporosis.

  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their health and that of their children. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.

  • Interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling: Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all adolescent and adult women. An estimated 25% of women in the United States report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions to increase the safety of abused women.

  • To learm more, go to: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/08/womensprevention08012011a.html

    Romney's bullseye approach wins debate; an altar call could win the election

    Although I hate to admit it, I fell asleep during last night's debate. I had a feeling from the first two minutes of remarks that Romney - a carefree, deep pocketed, prayed up Mormon - would browbeat Obama - a hard working government man celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary by being nagged onstage. Romney was upright and smiling. Obama showed the weight of his office.

    Like my aunt who went to sleep while we were driving in an ice storm, I threw in the towel, deciding to write about the debate in the light of morning. 

    Here's what I think: the game ain't over yet...but a lot of praying will be going on.

    Those who were for Romney before the debate are still for him now, and those who were for Obama will still vote for him. The undecided now have to make up their minds which could hinge on the following:

    1.  What has Romney or Obama done for you lately or in the past?
    2.  What has Obama been able to accomplish despite meeting challenges thrown at him by Republicans who are trying to get back in office?
    3.  If you were on the panel to review Obama's job performance record, would you keep him in the White House?
    4.  What would be the consequences of kicking Obama (the known employee) out of office and replacing him with Romney (the unknown employee)? Is switching administration's a good idea right now?
    5.  Obama is a seasoned, experienced, government employee. Romney is an unemployed, spoiled, rich guy. Who's the best person for the job?

    If I were Obama, I would gather my prayer partners together to strengthen and protect me. Believe me, Romney has already used his Hail Mary pass even though he is not a Catholic. Spiritual strength may be the key to winning this election.

    As for me, I am praying for my country (people) and for the next President, whoever he may be, for the seen and unseen. May heaven help us all.

     ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Iranian economic crisis hitting people in Iran and U.S.

     
    "My country, I will build you again, if need be, with bricks made from my life. I will build columns to support your roof, if need be, with my own bones. I will inhale again the perfume of flower favored by your youth. I will wash again the blood off your body with torrents of my tears." Simin Behbahani, Iranian poetess
     
    Some claim that the crisis in Iran is negatively affecting Persian Americans. In Metro Atlanta, there has been an uptick in estate sales and foreclosures by naturalized Iranian American citizens. Many Iranian American men who are highly trained mechanical and industrial engineers have lost their jobs, contracts, homes, and are selling everything.  Many of them have money in Iranian banks which were offering large interest rates on deposits until the crisis worsened.

    The economic collapse in Iran is the result of escalating sanctions imposed for not halting its nuclear arms program. It's sad that such an ancient, beautiful place may now join the likes of Egypt and Syria depending on how problems are resolved by governments.


    The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared, "Iran has never bowed to pressure and never will."

    According to the White House, the problem with Iran's economy was exacerbated in July 2012 when the Obama Administration took two actions. First, it isolated through imposing additional sanctions and penalized Iran for its refusal to live up to its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. Then it held accountable Iranian financial institutions that knowingly provided financial services to Iranian banks that are under U.S. sanctions for their connection to illicit activities.

    "These steps are part of President Obama’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by raising the cost of Iran’s defiance of the international community," was the message posted in a White House Fact Sheet.

    "This sanction is designed to deter Iran or any other country from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent the NDAA sanctions." Existing sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry were expanded as were sanctions on those supporting the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company, or the Central Bank of Iran.



    According to Aljazzera News, "...Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has rejected criticism of his policies and insisted his country could ride out the sanctions." Ahmadinejad has blamed the crisis on Iran's "enemies."

    Photos and poem from slide show emailed from Iranian American.
     ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved. 

    Political T-shirt example of rhetoric in U.S.

    What do you think of this message?


    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Obamas to celebrate 20th wedding anniversary

    2008 photo (Flickr - vargas2040 - Creative Commons license - Wikipedia)

    Barack and Michelle Obama will celebrate 20 years of marriage tomorrow which also is the day of the first presidential debate for 2012.

    The Obamas met while working in the Sidley Austin law firm. On their first date, they went to see the Spike Lee movie, Do the Right Thing. The Obamas were married by controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright. They have two daughters - Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001). 
     
    Obamas walking to church, August 2012 - Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
    President Obama came from a less "traditional" married household when compared to Mrs. Obama's family. President Obama's parents were married on February 2, 1961 when his mother was three months pregnant. It was later found that his father was already married. Michelle Obama's parents were married on October 27, 1960 and remained married until her father's death in 1991. Michelle was born in 1964.

    It was reported in Psychology Today that President Obama's secret to a successful marriage is, "Just do whatever she tells you to." In May 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly support legalizing same-sex marriage.

     ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Today's political quote...

    "...requiring some type of voter ID is clearly aimed at African Americans, lower income folks, and the elderly." Taken from 2007 Racial reconciliation interview
    with former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes who challenged the state's voter ID law in court and lost (http://www.wingcomltd.com/Articles/Barnes1.htm)

    MacArthur Foundation announces genius award winners

    Genius: Dinaw Mengestu, Writer

    The MacArthur Foundation has named 23 new Fellows who include a pediatric neurosurgeon, a marine ecologist, a journalist, a photographer, an optical physicist and astronomer, a stringed-instrument bow maker, a geochemist, a fiction writer, and an arts entrepreneur.

    Dinaw Mengestru, a writer based in Washington, D.C. originally from Ethiopia, and Dylan Penningroth, a historian working at Northwestern University, are the two African Americans receiving the awards.

    All Fellows were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future and will each receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years.

    Penningroth: research on slaves
    “These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the Fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world.”

    Including this year’s Fellows, 873 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82 at the time of their selection, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inaugural class in 1981.

    Biographical information on the geniuses are online at www.macfound.org/fellows.

    Thought for today

    "Faith means trust: Trust in God's will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable."
    Dallin H. Oaks, Member, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Obama vs Romney: 2011 tax returns examined before the debates

    The Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858 commemorative stamp (U.S. Government, Post Office Department)
    On Wednesday, we will witness the first Presidential debate for 2012. But before gloves are put on and the highly watched prime time event occurs, let's take a look at the tax returns of the presidential candidates.

    Wingcom Watchdog has paper copies of five pages from both returns, and though we are not CPAs, we wanted to look at what stands out and what information they give.

    It appears that when you are very wealthy and can hire the largest accountancy firm in the world (PwC), you can make a lot of money through investments, give a lot away to your chosen non-profits, and pay the least amount of taxes to a government which is in financial trouble. Romney chose to give more than twice as much money to charity than to his government which seems strange for a person running to lead the United States. Some would consider this unpatriotic. Follow the money...

    Barack H. and Michelle L. Obama (occupations US President and US First Lady) had their 1040 prepared by Michael S. Solheim, CPA from the firm of Wineberg Solheim Howell & Shain, PC in Chicago.  (http://www.wshscpa.com/) The Obamas claimed daughters Malia A. and Natasha M. as dependents.

    The couple's adjusted gross income was $789,674. They elected to have their $24,515 refund applied to their 2012 estimated tax. They had itemized deductions of $278,498. They had interest income of $10,694 and $394,821 in wages/salaries, etc. Their donations went to over 13 non-profits, including $117,130 to the Fisher House Foundation which helps military families, $6,000 to Boys and Girls Clubs, $5,000 to Habitat for Humanity, and $4,000 to the American Red Cross.

    Willard M. (Mitt) and Ann D. Romney (occupations Executive and Homemaker) had their 1040 prepared by Daniel P. Feheley of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP of Boston. (http://www.pwc.com/us/en/index.jhtml) The Romneys claimed no dependents.


    The couple's adjusted gross income was $13,696.951. They elected to have their $1,498,740 refund applied to their 2012 estimated tax. They had itemized deductions of $4,681,842. They had interest income of $3,012.77 and $0 in wages/salaries, etc. Their dividends were mostly in blind trusts and real estate investments. They gave $1,115.484 to the Church of Latter-Day Saints and $214,516 to the Tyler Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping families affected by epilepsy.

    The Obama's total tax payments were $186,589. The Romney's were $3,434,448.

    On Interest Paid, the Romney's had a Statement 4 in the amount of $56,904. In Gifts to Charity, there was a Statement 5. All of the gifts were not reported which could lower his tax rate. A refund can be received if an amended tax return is filed.

    According to Bankrate.com, "The Romneys decided, however, to claim only $2.25 million of their charitable gifts. If they'd claimed the full amount on their Schedule A, their effective tax rate would have been less than 10 percent. That's not such an appealing number if you're looking to represent a country full of people whose average tax rate is around 20 percent.

    "Romney has until 2014 to file a Form 1040X and recoup the tax savings from the $1.75 million in charitable donations that he chose to ignore on his 2011 return," according to Bankrate.com.

    Read more: Romney’s tax deduction decision | Bankrate.com http://www.bankrate.com/financing/taxes/romneys-tax-deduction-decision/#ixzz289IeBEIR

    I guess the Obama's "work for the government" while the Romney's "invest" and live off their nest eggs while giving most of their money to causes tied to the Mormon Church.

    What do you glean from their taxes, and what will come out in the debates?

    ©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

    Vets with mental health issues seek help

    Although it could take a minimum of 125 days to process a veterans' disability claim, the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs has developed an online Community Provider Toolkit (www.mentalhealth.va.gov/communityproviders) aimed at delivering support, therapeutic tools, and resources to community providers treating Veterans for mental health concerns.

    “Many Veterans seek mental health care at VA, yet many also choose to go to providers in their community,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA is committed to helping Veterans wherever they may seek care. This toolkit will enable those community providers who treat Veterans to better understand the specific issues Veterans face and help them access VA resources.”

    The goal of the Community Provider Toolkit is to further enhance the delivery of mental health services to Veterans through increased communication and coordination of care between community providers and VA. It not only provides information about accessing, communicating with, and, if needed, making referrals to VA, but also provides effective tools to assist Veterans who are dealing with a variety of mental health challenges.

    Those interested in further information can go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov or www.ptsd.va.gov to find educational materials including courses for providers and best practices in mental health treatment.