AMERICA/COSTA RICA – Cuban immigrants blocked at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua: “a humanitarian issue”

San José de Costa Rica – As part of the ordinary meeting of the “Secretariado Episcopal de América Central “, which takes place in November from 23 to 27 in San José de Costa Rica with the slogan “A single network, a single region”, the Bishops of Central America met with the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, to address the plight of Cuban immigrants. More than 3,000 Cubans in fact, during their journey to the United States, have been blocked for over a week at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as Nicaragua does not allow them entry into the country, not even for transit.
The Government of Costa Rica and the Bishops of SEDAC agreed in defining this situation “a humanitarian issue”, demanding therefore a “humanitarian solution” and expecting some decision is taken during the meeting of the Prime Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Central America, which is taking place in El Salvador.
According to information sent to Fides, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, pointed out that this problem is not only for this country, but of the entire Central American region, and dialogue is the only way to find a solution.
The agenda of the meeting scheduled by SEDAC will analyze the social and ecclesial life of each Central American country. In addition to the Bishops there will also be Family, Youth, Vocations, social pastoral and social communications Commissions.

Afghan Women’s Writing Project | My Heart Hurts

My heart hurts

Because I am not

Treated like a human

My heart hurts

Because I have no voice

In who I marry

I am accused of being unworthy

Lies about me spread

I am stoned, beaten, burned

This is not just the story

Of Farkhunda in Kabul

Rukhshana in Ghor

This is the story of thousands

Of women in Afghanistan

Their government does not listen or help

But I am rising

My powerful voice is louder

I write the truth with my golden pen

My heart hurts and I am poo

rI stay in the dark corner

Of my house and cry

By Sharifa

Source: Afghan Women’s Writing Project | My Heart Hurts

Godfather of terror: Saudi Arabia and ′IS′ | World | DW.COM | 25.11.2015

Saudi Arabia exports its version of Sunni Islam with the utmost consequence. In the last 25 years a former US ambassador estimated in a published study in 2007 that the kingdom had invested at least 87 billion dollars in religious propaganda worldwide. This sum, he thinks, may even have increased further due to the high price of oil over an extended period. The funds went towards the construction of mosques, Madrassa Koran schools and religious institutions, and helped finance the training of Imams, publishing houses and Wahhabi text books.A large part of the funds go to economically weak, but populous Islamic countries in south and southeast Asia, such as Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, or Malaysia. Proselytizing for Wahhabism is also done in parts of Africa. For many people in these parts of the world it is the only possibility of getting a school education. There they learn how to read and write and are also given access to the Wahhabi teachings. But there are also Saudi Arabian financed institutions in the West.

Source: Godfather of terror: Saudi Arabia and ′IS′ | World | DW.COM | 25.11.2015

Britain drops controversial plan to cut tax credits for the working poor | News | DW.COM | 25.11.2015 {But not tax on tampons!?!}

The chancellor also used his speech to address the controversial ‘tampon tax’ that is, taxing tampons with VAT (sometimes called sales tax) for what are considered luxury items. Some 300,000 people in Britain signed a petition against the tax, arguing that the products are hygiene necessities, not luxuries.The government had already said that it was charging the lowest tax rate allowed by European law, 5 percent, on womens’ sanitary products.Osborne said in his speech that there was nothing he could do about the tax at this time, but insisted the revenue from the tax would be diverted to womens’ charities.”The first £5 million will be distributed between the Eve Appeal, Safe Lives and Women’s Aid and The Haven – and I invite bids from other such good causes,” Osborne told the House of Commons. The first two are organizations for cancer patients and the latter two focus on domestic violence.

Source: Britain drops controversial plan to cut tax credits for the working poor | News | DW.COM | 25.11.2015

Climate Refugees and a Collapsing City | Inter Press Service

“Over the next two to three decades millions of people will no longer be able to live and earn their livelihoods from farming and fishing as they are now,” said Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow with the Climate Change Group of the International Institute for Environment and Development.Conversely, prolonged droughts are affecting arable land by causing soil erosion and damaging crops that depend on predictable monsoon patterns.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates 20 million people will be displaced in Bangladesh in the coming five years. That is more than the cumulative populations of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. And this should be very worrying.Even now, many of the half-a-million-plus people who move their families – along with their hopes – to Dhaka, are driven there by the effects of climate change.

Source: Climate Refugees and a Collapsing City | Inter Press Service

Video of the Day: Nicki Minaj recites Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”

When I discussed the role that Minaj plays in the Holy Trinity of contemporary Black girl artists, I noted: “From her wild costumes, to her alter egos, to her body that is consistently read as excessive, Nicki Minaj has always been willing to go against the grain (especially as a rapper in an industry that has been predefined by a specific masculinity) in order to demonstrate the power of Black Girl brilliance.” In October a reporter for the New York Times Magazine disrespected and belittled Minaj and her artistry in order to profile the artist for her affluent magazine. When the story broke that Minaj ended the interview early as a result of the interviewers tone and questions, media outlets framed the situation as one with Minaj as the aggressor; proving that Angelou’s take on how Black women are perceived was dead on.Needless to say I’m thankful that we live in the digital age so that I can relive this moment! Check out the video and read the verses below:“You may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I’ll rise.Does my sassiness upset you?Why are you beset with gloom?‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wellsPumping in my living room.Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I’ll rise.Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes?Shoulders falling down like teardrops,Weakened by my soulful cries?Does my haughtiness offend you?Don’t you take it awful hard‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold minesDiggin’ in my own backyard.You may shoot me with your words,You may cut me with your eyes,You may kill me with your hatefulness,But still, like air, I’ll rise.Does my sexiness upset you?Does it come as a surpriseThat I dance like I’ve got diamondsAt the meeting of my thighs?Out of the huts of history’s shameI riseUp from a past that’s rooted in painI riseI’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that’s wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.”-Maya Angelou

Source: Video of the Day: Nicki Minaj recites Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”

Mimi Writes…….: The Man and The Pumpkin Pie ~ A Thanksgiving Story by Mimi Lenox

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Man and The Pumpkin Pie ~ A Thanksgiving Story by Mimi Lenox

It is tradition on this blog to re-post this story every Thanksgiving.

A lot changed in the years that followed, but it still stands as one of the clearer defining moments of my life. I am incredibly proud of my son and see in him a kindness I admire. I am also thankful for so many things this year, including the love of family and friends. I hope you and your family have a safe and wonderful holiday. ~ Mimi

When my son was fifteen he did something stupid. Not criminal, not earth-shattering, just knuckle-head-not-thinking stupid. His dad, my ex-husband, gave him the usual “Atta boy, don’t do that again” talk, the school got their three days without his smart mouth and I was left with the what-am-I-gonna-do-with-this-child? nightmare invading my dreams.What am I going to do with this child? The conversation went something like this: “You know I love you so I’m not even going to preface this punishment with I love you because you’ve already gotten a slap on the wrist but OK OK I love you.”“Yeah, I know Mom.”He started to walk away. “Well, I hope you’ll still love me when I tell you what your punishment is going to be.”Although I vowed never to give the think of all the starving children speech to my child (I broke that rule many times), this time I went for the jugular. Mine was bulging. “What were you THINKING?! Do you think you can just go through life handling things this way? Do you know how privileged you are? (yeah Mom) Do you understand that there are kids in this world who would love to have your life? (yeah Mom) Why are you choosing to mess things up for yourself? Do you know that you can’t play sports now? (yeah Mom) Are you listening to me?! If you don’t get your act together young man you’re going to end up somewhere you don’t want to be and I’m not bailing you out. Do you hear me? (yeah Mom) You have no idea how close you came to getting in serious trouble today, do you? Do you? Well, DO you?? (a surly yeah Mom….See, I told you, listen to the smart mouth.) What you do right now in school will determine your future. And now you have a bad mark on your academic record and a three-day suspension before high school. You are out of control!”“So ground me,” said the smart mouth.“No. I will not ground you.”He halted.“What are you going to do?” he asked.“Just think of it as Mama’s jail.” The smart aleck ceased for a moment and then I heard a surly, “Whatever, Mom.” I was furious with him and at my wit’s end. He needed to see how the real world works. I made arrangements. It took some doing but they finally saw it my way. “You want your son to do WHAT? But he’s not a criminal (not YET I thought) and we’re not a juvenile detention center.” (Well……) “Will you please allow us to do this?” I asked the nun-like administrator of this facility. “I’m not trying to teach him a lesson here- that is not the point- but he needs to see and understand with his own eyes how lucky he is and how his actions now can affect the rest of his life.” So, for the next two months that summer we got up at five am, drove to another town and worked in a homeless shelter’s soup kitchen. It was the worst of the worst neighborhoods.

I had cleanup detail (you didn’t think they’d let me near the food now, did you?) and he served the line. “What are we doing here?” he asked. I never told him why. He didn’t need another lecture.’Think of all the starving children’ just got real.

After one week of losing his summer sleep to ride an hour in my car at the crack of dawn – with my music blasting all the way – and mingle with very old people volunteers and stir canned creamed corn in a pot for an hour he said, “Why didn’t you just send me to REAL jail?! I hate this!” Uh huh, I thought. Just stir, buster.

In the middle of the second week he started to actually get up before I did. “Hurry up, Mom. We have to get going.” (Oh great, I thought. He’s met a pretty girl at the homeless shelter. That’s the only reason he would get up at five am. My plan has backfired. Drats!) And what was this grand revelation I expected him to learn? Heck if I knew. I was just a parent with an unruly fifteen- year -old with no respect for himself or his elders or his life. I didn’t even know if it would make a difference.

All I knew was that somehow the corn and pintos and no-extra-dessert-for-you rule would magically translate into a light-bulb moment for him. Osmosis maybe? I just knew this was the right thing to do but I didn’t know how or why. One early afternoon as I started to clean the lunch tables with a large wet rag and a bucket of soapy water, rearranging the napkins and utensils for the next meal, I looked up to see my sleepy-headed son talking with a man through the narrow serving window.

My boy had just served lunch. There was pie for dessert that day.

Pumpkin pie.

He was dirty. Shaky.
No teeth. Scraggly. Scary. Smelly. 
And hungry.

The rules were clear. One serving per person. No seconds. Period.
 No one was looking. And I’m thinking….We’re going to get thrown out of the soup kitchen for not following the rules. Oh great! Suspended again. And this time I’m going down with him. Oh the shame. Until…..

The man who wanted more pie.
 Up until this point he rarely made eye contact with anyone in the line, especially not the kids. He plopped the food on the plate and reached for the next empty Styrofoam sadness shuffling through. People with their entire families in tow. Hungry folks down on their luck and needing not even a hot meal. Just a meal. Families living in cars through no fault of their own. Unemployed. On the street. Raggedy clothes crossing elbows with his Tommy Hilfiger jeans and watch.
Pork ‘n beans, wax beans, any beans. Didn’t matter. Please feed my child. My little girl is hungry.
  I saw it in their eyes. The sadness. And the shame.

I was so moved that summer. Apparently, I needed a reality check too. But that was not the point. Was it?
 The man would not stop asking and my son was forced to look him squarely in the eyes. I could see the wheels turning in baby boy’s brown-eyed head….. “Will you shut up? I’m going to get in trouble if you don’t go away!”

Silence. 
 
 And a hungry stare full of embarrassment and shame that a life-giving gesture lay in the hands of this kid he did not know and would never know – someone young enough to be his grandchild – who held something he wanted.. something he had to beg for. And then I saw my son slip a plump piece of pumpkin delight (with whipped cream) onto the scraped clean empty plate. The man nodded appreciatively, lowered his head, and walked away.
 
 By this time my wet rag had dropped to the table and the cleaning had stopped. My hair in a net, pretending to fold silverware sets, I watched what happened. He saw me sit down. I waited for someone to say something. I waited for him to get in trouble. I waited for my own hands to stop shaking. 
 
 No one saw his discretion that day but I’ll tell you this – If I could have jumped through the tiny little window and wrapped my arms around that boy I would have done so.
 He was shuffling his hundred dollar Nike-shod feet standing with a spatula and an empty pan, trying not to look at me. When our eyes finally met, the blur of tears between us said what no lecture ever could. We never talked again about the man, the pie, or his punishment.
But I was proud.

We finished our tour of shelter duty as promised and school started again in the fall.
That was twenty-one years ago.

 
 Did that summer stop him from forever being a knuckle-head? No.
Did he straighten-up-and-fly-right from that moment on? No.
Were there more nightmare dreams for me through the teenage years? Yes.

But I have to believe that it shaped his understanding of the world a bit and through all his troubles and challenges in life that most certainly came later, I did see – and continue to see – a great compassion develop in him for people in need.

 
 And to this day, every time I’m offered a slice of pumpkin pie…. 
I see a homeless man, a prized piece of dessert and brown-eyed humility.

Mine.

Source: Mimi Writes…….: The Man and The Pumpkin Pie ~ A Thanksgiving Story by Mimi Lenox