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President Obama: “The world noticed”

On Saturday, June 6, President Obama delivered a eulogy in honor of Beau Biden, the son of his friend and vice-president, Joe Biden.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

Without love, life can be cold and it can be cruel. Sometimes cruelty is deliberate –- the action of bullies or bigots, or the inaction of those indifferent to another’s pain. But often, cruelty is simply born of life, a matter of fate or God’s will, beyond our mortal powers to comprehend. To suffer such faceless, seemingly random cruelty can harden the softest hearts, or shrink the sturdiest. It can make one mean, or bitter, or full of self-pity. Or, to paraphrase an old proverb, it can make you beg for a lighter burden.

But if you’re strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders; shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens, but the burdens of others; shoulders broad enough to shield those who need shelter the most.

To know Beau Biden is to know which choice he made in his life. To know Joe and the rest of the Biden family is to understand why Beau lived the life he did.

Like his father, Beau did not have a mean bone in his body. The cruelty he’d endured in his life didn’t make him hard, it made him compassionate, empathetic. But it did make him abhor bullies.

Beau’s grandfather, Joe’s father, believed that the most egregious sin was to abuse your power to inflict pain on another. So Beau squared his broad shoulders to protect people from that kind of abuse. He fought for homeowners who were cheated, seniors who were scammed. He even went after bullying itself. He set up a Child Protector — Predator Task Force, convicted more than 200 of those who targeted vulnerable children.

You know, anyone can make a name for themselves in this reality TV age, especially in today’s politics. If you’re loud enough or controversial enough, you can get some attention. But to make that name mean something, to have it associated with dignity and integrity –- that is rare. There’s no shortcut to get it. It’s not something you can buy. […]

That’s what our country was built on –- men like Beau. That’s who built it –- families like this. We don’t have kings or queens or lords. We don’t have to be born into money to have an impact. We don’t have to step on one another to be successful. We have this remarkable privilege of being able to earn what we get out of life, with the knowledge that we are no higher than anybody else, or lower than anybody else. We know this not just because it is in our founding documents, but because families like the Bidens have made it so, because people like Beau have made it so.

As hard as it is right now, through all the heartache and through all the tears, it is our obligation to Beau to think not about what was and what might have been, but instead to think about what is, because of him. Think about the day that dawns for children who are safer because of Beau, whose lives are fuller, because of him. Think about the day that dawns for parents who rest easier, and families who are freer, because of him. Some folks may never know that their lives are better because of Beau Biden. But that’s okay. Certainly for Beau, acclaim was never the point of public service.

Jill, Joe, Hallie, Hunter and Natalie — the world noticed. They noticed. They felt it, his presence. And Beau lives on in the lives of others. And isn’t that the whole point of our time here? To make this country we love fairer and more just, not just for Natalie and Hunter, or Naomi, or Finnegan, or Maisy, or Malia, or Sasha, but for every child? Isn’t that what this amazing journey we’ve been on is all about -– to make life better for the next generation?

Full transcript below.

An ode to the Butterfield Blues Band

While I had other musical favorites in my youth, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band earned their recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – in addition to its talent pool – its nature as an integrated band (along with Sly & the Family Stone, at a time when that was rare), its innovative blend of musical styles (deviating from pure blues) as time went along and its helping to establish Chicago electric blues as the most popular style in the US, away from the Delta acoustic blues that was the dominant style at the dawn of the 1960’s.

Among the reasons why the band was unable to become a household name (despite its obvious talents) were the numerous personnel changes – something of a revolving door – and while the changes expanded the group’s sound, it also led to an inconsistent sound.

The passing of Beau Biden

Last night, Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, died of the brain cancer he had been battling since 2013.

This is Beau Biden at the DNC in 2008, introducing his Dad:

(grab kleenexes)

From the White House: Statement by the President on the Passing of Beau Biden:

Michelle and I are grieving tonight. Beau Biden was a friend of ours. His beloved family – Hallie, Natalie, and Hunter – are friends of ours. And Joe and Jill Biden are as good as friends get. […]

… for all that Beau Biden achieved in his life, nothing made him prouder; nothing made him happier; nothing claimed a fuller focus of his love and devotion than his family.

Just like his dad.

Joe is one of the strongest men we’ve ever known. He’s as strong as they come, and nothing matters to him more than family. It’s one of the things we love about him. And it is a testament to Joe and Jill – to who they are – that Beau lived a life that was full; a life that mattered; a life that reflected their reverence for family.

Ice Age Floods, The Columbia Plateau, and Terroir

Some of the largest cataclysmic geologic events on earth occurred in what is now the Pacific North West. About 11 million years of volcanic flow activity, ending about 6 million years ago, created the Columbia Plateau with basaltic lava formations up to two miles deep. This huge basaltic plateau covering much of Eastern Washington and Oregon and adjacent parts of Idaho was later inundated by massive Ice Age floods ending about 15,000 calendar years ago. The scale of these events has been seldom seen elsewhere as it carved a landscape that appears œother worldly. (In fact, the resulting terrain so closely matches that seen on Mars that NASA tested the Sojourner robotic rover here before its 1997 mission to Mars. (Bjornstad, 2006).


Scablands from basalt and flooding

The Columbia River continues to cut into basalt

As many as 100 floods deposited layers of sediment atop the basalt that today provide the soil for growing some of the best wine grapes and hence wines in the country and in some cases, the world. These are the wines of Oregon and Washington State.

President Obama Speaks to Youth and Law Enforcement in Camden NJ

From the White House:

Today, the President is in Camden to talk about the promising progress that city is making in enhancing community policing. Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to better understand specific policing challenges and help communities identify actions they can take to improve law enforcement and enhance community engagement. Since that time, we have seen law enforcement agencies around the country working harder than ever to make the promise of community policing real.

Many of the Task Force’s recommendations emphasize the opportunity for departments to better use data and technology to build community trust. As a response, the White House has launched the Police Data Initiative, which has mobilized 21 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to these Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology. Camden is one such jurisdiction.

Live at 3:10pm Eastern Time. UPDATE: The speech has concluded.

(President Obama Speaks to Youth and Law Enforcement – Camden, New Jersey – Start time 3:10 PM EDT)

UPDATE: Transcript

To Mend the Broken – Rev. Dr. Karl Lutze

To_Mend_-_cover-1000

 

CONTENTS

Foreword – 2015
Preface – 1966

  1. Finding the Pieces
  2. The Shattered
  3. The Crushed
  4. And After the Breaking?
  5. Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?
  6. Refusal to Look at the Broken
  7. The Assignment to Mend
  8. To Mend the Broken
  9. Enlistment in Mending 


FOREWORD, 2015 EDITION

This book was written in 1966 by my step-father Karl E. Lutze. Karl began his work as a young white pastor in a poor black Lutheran church in 1945. He challenged the Christian press the year I was born, asking why there had been no book written on the role of the Christian in the human rights issues of the day. He was told to write it himself and this book – To Mend the Broken – is the result. This version has been lightly edited to only change some outdated terminology but otherwise remains an honest record of Karl’s perspective of the time.

As a lesson to anyone looking at the human relations issues we face in the current day, this volume is a priceless and concise insight into the roots of today’s world. It is presented without blame or excuse, laying out the facts of the then-current situation. It forecasts many of the struggles we face today, both simply and with an understanding of the subtleties at play. I recommend anyone looking to act or even debate about human relations issues in Twenty First Century America take the time to read this record of our very recent past.

I encourage you to reproduce this work in whole or in part. Please attribute it to Rev. Dr. Karl E. Lutze.

Karl passed away this past week, on May 7, 2015 at the age of 95, at home in Valparaiso, Indiana, surrounded by family.

Chris Blask, May 15, 2015

“Cruel and absurd”

Back in early April, Charles Pierce wrote about the sentencing phase of the Boston Marathon bomber trial. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been found guilty and the jury would now decide his fate: life in prison or the death penalty. (Note: The death penalty was abolished in Massachusetts in 1984 but the federal courts still allow it.)

Yesterday, after thinking it over for 15 hours, the jury in Massachusetts decided to kill Tsarnaev.

Restavek – “One who stays with” is the word for a child slave in Haiti.

 

Ignoring Haiti and its problems is par for the course in the United States, even when the U.S. has played a role in creating them. There was a flurry of concern around the time of the January 2010 earthquake, with monies raised by a variety of charities…some legit and some suspect, but Haiti news fell out of the headlines, and for the most part is ignored. Before the earthquake there were a host of problems and some have worsened since then. Such is the case of the “restaveks“, nearly 300,000 children who work in a state of indentured servitude which has been deemed modern day slavery by international rights organizations.

 

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

Aloha! Green Power!!


From ThinkProgress: Hawaii Will Soon Get All Of Its Electricity From Renewable Sources

The state legislature sent a bill to the governor’s desk this week that moves the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) up to 100 percent by 2045 — which means that all electricity provided by the electric companies will have to come from renewable sources like solar and wind. Nationwide, electricity generation makes up about a third of all carbon emissions.

“We’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100 percent renewable electricity goal,” State Senator Mike Gabbard (D) told ThinkProgress in an email. “Through this process of transformation we can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90 percent dependence on fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy.”