Trump’s ICE Agents Break At Least Four Ten Commandments By Stealing Kids

Trump’s immigration agents should disobey orders to tear families apart

 By Bear Gebhardt

Conservatives and liberals quickly agree (though for different reasons) that our current immigration system is badly broken.

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Bear Gebhardt is a writer living in Colorado. Learn more about him…

There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrant workers and their families living in the United States. Sixty percent of them have been here for 10 years or more, and 3.6 million of them arrived here before their eighteenth birthday. (The average “Dreamer” was six years old when she or he was first brought to the United States.)

The current United States immigration system offers no reasonable, safe, easy, or fair path for these workers to obtain the documents they desperately need to continue working. For instance, a significant number of these undocumented workers—somewhere between 35 percent and 50 percent—at one time had viable work permits, but were forced to overstay their visas because our current regime does not recognize their brick and mortar value to the economy. Again, the system is broken, on both ends. Most everybody agrees. It needs to be fixed.

In the meantime, just how broken it is can be seen by the recent push to enforce the “letter of the law” of this broken system.  Recent actions by the agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency puts a majority of these agents in the extremely immoral position of being ordered to break at least four of the Ten Commandments. Even more importantly (if that’s possible), it makes these U.S. agents vulnerable to being personally charged under international laws first established at Nuremberg.

Obviously, the Ten Commandments give us at least a  basic hint of what moral and immoral action has meant to human beings over the past many millennia.  Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, writes, “there are some actions that are so intrinsically terrible that they run contrary to the proper nature of human beings. . . these are evil actions. No excuses are available for engaging in them. To dehumanize a fellow human being, to reduce him or her to the status of a parasite, to torture and slaughter with no consideration of individual innocence or guilt, to make an art form of pain, that is wrong.”

So, what are the ICE agents doing wrong?

 “Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Mother” is a cross-cultural moral injunction going back at least 3,000 years, with evidence of 5,000, even 10,000 years and more. Honoring the family structure recognizes these fundamental relationships as true, necessary and irreplaceable for human health and survival.

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Under its zero-tolerance policy, the Trump Administration has taken more than 2,000 children away from their immigrant families in the last two months. Photograph from The New Yorker and by John Moore / Getty.

When ICE agents follow orders to remove children from their parents and place these children into warehouses, warehouses with cages, these agents are breaking a fundamental moral human law that goes back millennia. They could be, and should be, held accountable.

 “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Stealing children from their parents and stealing parents from their children must surely be recognized as one of the most horrific thefts possible. This is true even if some local warlord or bureaucratic regulation makes such child theft temporarily “legal” in that particular part of the jungle, that part of the world. Again, thou shalt not steal is a moral law that goes back millennia. When ancient kings wanted to torture their enemies, they stole their children.

Thou Shalt Not Lie (Bear False Witness.).” When ICE agents tell the parents and the children, as they do, that this is only a temporary condition and that it will be over soon, they know—and the parents know—that this is a lie. Being “ordered” to lie does not change a lie into a truth. The agents are lying, and they know they are lying. Because of the backlog caused by recent crackdowns, undocumented workers arrested in the U.S. are now held for weeks, months, even years. “It will be over soon” is a lie.

“Thou Shalt Not Kill.” We don’t know how many physical deaths are caused directly by ICE Agents “following orders,” since such statistics are not kept, or at least made public. We do know that high-speed chases, dangerous terrain and inhumane smuggling tactics have led to thousands of immigrant deaths. Can ICE agents be held directly responsible for this? Hardly, and yet they are part of a system—following orders in a system—which does lead directly to such human suffering.

And certainly their actions have led to the “deaths” of the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of people. Jesus said, “If you just think of committing this sin, you are doing it.” His understanding was that inflicting mental “death” should be seen as real as physical actions leading to death.   

“Do not Put Any Other Gods in Place of Me.” ICE agents are required to put the ICE system, procedures, rules and behavior ahead of—in place of—their own inner moral compass. There may be a few—a very rare few—ICE agents who experience a perverted personal pleasure at the wailing of children and pleading of parents as they “follow orders” to enforce the regulations of the broken immigration system. But we have to assume, just because we know the ICE agents are human, that most of these agents feel deep angst and sorrow as the results of being forced to follow such orders.

And this brings us to the Nuremburg Trials—those trials which were held at the end of World War II to judge those who had been participants in the horrors of both mass incarceration and mass extermination. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel Laureate who helped bring down the Soviet Regime by documenting the horrors of the Gulag, considered the Nuremburg Trials as one of the highest expressions of human moral evolution.

“Following orders is not an excuse for committing immoral actions.”

It was at the Nuremburg Trials that the international standard was established: “Following orders is not an excuse for committing immoral actions.” Even more importantly, it established that there are in fact immoral actions that we, as human beings, in every part of the globe, recognize as being, indeed, truly immoral.

What ICE agents are currently doing with our broken immigration system is wrong. They know it, when they go home to their families at night. We know it, when we read about it online and in our daily newspapers.

What can we do about it? Speak out, like we are doing here in this essay (please share). And let all of our ICE agents know we support them when they refuse to follow immoral orders.

Conservatives and liberals can agree: We don’t want another cause for Nuremberg Trials, here after the current administration has ceased to rule. The immigration system we now have is broken, does not work. Let’s not make a false god of this broken system.

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We Are So Mad!

By Alan Vitello

I Was So Mad!

That’s the name of the 1983 children’s book by author and illustrator Mercer Mayer. It is a great book that features Mayer’s recurring character, Little Critter. The book was one of our son’s favorite back in the days when we read to him at bedtime.

Alan Vitello is a writer and an award-winning cartoonist who lives in Colorado. Learn more about Alan…

In the story, Little Critter is mad…really MAD…at everything and everyone: his little sister, mom, dad, grandparents, the fact he can’t draw on the walls or play with his sister’s toys—you name it…he is MAD!  He’s sooooooo mad, in fact, that he decides to run away.

Back in the days of bedtime reading, little did I suspect I Was So Mad would turn out to be much more than a favorite book. Now, It seems like the saying “I Was So Mad” is standard operating procedure for our society in this age of digital media, social media, and the dreaded “fake news.”

As I started to write this article, I Googled, “Outrage Fatigue.” That’s a real thing. It basically means we are so outraged by the continual and seemingly never-ending stream of news stories or social media posts that we simply can’t be outraged anymore.

With apologies to readers who may get outraged by the use of acronyms, I call this condition Chronic Outrage Syndrome (COS). Here’s the thing, our entire modern society is awash in outrage. We are outraged by a countless number of things every day. We are so outraged by so many things—in this hyper-partisan and politically fractured era in which we find ourselves living—that outrage is actually becoming our normal way of seeing the world.

Never read the book I Was So Mad? Now’s your chance. View the short video at the end of this article.

Another serious toxic societal disease that has befallen us: Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). It means we are easily distracted by whatever shiny object (or news story or social media post) that happens to catch our eye at any given moment. We are completely fascinated with that object…until the next shiny object comes along.

Mercer Mayer created this lovable anthropomorphic “Little Critter” character resembling a cross between porcupine, hamster, hedgehog, and guinea pig. The first time the public saw Little Critter was in Mayer’s 1975 book Just for You.

Often, COS and SOS skip along together, gleefully grasping each other’s nefarious hands.

When that fevered frenzy besets us, our thumbs usually go into overdrive texting and twittering and posting, responding to an offending Facebook or Twitter post or news story. Our goal: responding with a level of bile and vitriol commensurate, and usually beyond, the level of the offending words.

We become immersed in accusations, recriminations, finger-pointing, name-calling and all manner of ad hominen attacking, just to prove the thing that set us off is totally and completely wrong, that the doofus who made the original post is a complete irredeemable dunderhead, and too stupid to recognize just how stupid he, or she, really is.

Example: Remember the London attack in March 2017 when a terrorist drove a car onto the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge outside of the House of Parliament, mowing down 40 people, five of whom were killed?

A bystander whipped out his selfie stick, while on Westminster Bridge, and snapped a picture of himself as first responders were responding? Remember him? You don’t remember? Click here and you’ll find an article about Selfie Guy caught by someone else’s camera.

Social media went wild, 300,000 comments calling him “The Worst Human EVER!” and other nasty names. (Gee. The worst human EVER! Now that’s something—there have been some pretty bad humans.)

Remember to take the short poll at the end of this article, please.

Anyway, I’ll bet—since we’ve been bombarded with endless “worst ever” incidents since then—that you have forgotten how mad you were when you read about the Selfie Guy. I have.

The outrage against Selfie Guy had absolutely no context. Based on that one image of him, it’s impossible to tell what he was actually photographing. Himself? The crowd? First responders? Or trying to see above the crowd? We don’t know. Nor do we know who he is or, why he was there, or if he had a relationship to the victim or police. Was he a journalist? A witness? In shock? Nothing. But it was the perfect storm for COS and SOS. There was worldwide shiny outrage…until the next outrage came along.

It’s time for us as a society to grow up, to grow out of being “the Outrage Generation.” It’s time we stop (as my, now, all grown-up, son would say), being “butt-hurt about everything.” We need to cure ourselves of the twin evils of COS and SOS before it’s too late.

Mercer Mayer’s popular I Was So Mad book show’s how Little Critter’s family says no to everything he wants to do, including keeping frogs in the tub, angering Little Critter. He announces his intention to run away, a vow that only lasts until his pals show up and ask him to play baseball with them. The book is an excellent exploration of the emotion of anger and appropriate behaviors and responses—something many of us can benefit from nowadays.

Nonetheless, we continue using COS and SOS to poison our own the well where our critical thinking is stored. We lustily continue gulping every drop of poisoned water. It’s slowly killing. We are slowly killing us.

Here’s the really crazy, crazy thing: We don’t have to drink the poison. Evolution has made us smart. We have big brains and, generally speaking, those big brains have served us very well.

Here’s my advice on how to keep the COS and SOS poison out of our lives:

View ideas and opinions (and even scenarios like Selfie Guy) as if they are little pieces of colored glass inside a kaleidoscope. Hold them up to a light. Turn the kaleidoscope ‘round and ‘round and watch the colored pieces continually rearrange themselves in patterns. And consider: there are many, many ways to look at the same pieces of colored glass, or the same bits of information, as the light passes through them.

Let’s try looking at the arrangements of others without pre-judging before we ever set an eye on the universal kaleidoscope of our own lives. Let’s learn to talk about those arrangements and our own arrangements in reasonable, rational, and respectful ways. Let’s find the context, the backstory, the picture behind the picture. Let’s discover why they’re arranged as they are.

Most importantly let’s allow ourselves to put our big brains to work. Outrage without context is just another shiny object, another distraction, another gulp from a poisoned well.

Let’s keep away from COS, SOS and the poison. Let’s not be Little Critter.

 

Learn more:

Watch this 9-minute reading of I Was So Mad:

 

The Fault in Our NFL Stars

By David Adamson

While channel-surfing the night before Super Bowl 52 early in February, I happened upon the movie “Concussion,” a biopic about Dr. Bennet Omalu. He’s the neuropathologist who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) while performing a post-mortem on the brain of a 50-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer in 2002. For some reason, the movie made me remember Charlie Tolar.

David Adamson worked in high technology and health care. He’s the author of Walking the High Tech High Wire and The Wellness Club. He’s written hundreds of blogs on politics and fitness. Learn more about David…

In the hot summer of 1963, a few times a week I’d drive to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, to study football. The quiet campus might seem an unlikely place to do that being it was a tiny, academically oriented liberal arts school with a football program still running the antiquated Single-wing. However, that July it was the site of the American Football League’s Houston Oilers pre-season training camp.

The highlight of my education was to witness Charlie Tolar, the 5’6″, 210 lb. fullback, run the notorious Oklahoma Drill, the basic test of football cajones. A ball runner, behind a blocker, faces a defensive player waiting a few yards away. On a coach’s signal, the blocker tries to open a hole for the runner, while the defender tries to shed the block and tackle the runner. The players are confined in a narrow space between dummies so hard contact is guaranteed.

In those days, security and crowds weren’t issues as they are today, enabling me to get close to the action. At the time I was a 5’7”, 150 lb. high school football player. Tolar was one of my heroes. With teen naivety, I dreamed by doing enough calisthenics and drinking four egg milkshakes, I’d develop Tolar’s battle tank physique (it didn’t work).

Tolar was nick-named the Human Bowling Ball because of a strange quirk for an offensive back—often he didn’t try to elude tacklers. Instead, he would put his head down and run right at them. He used his head as a weapon.

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Because Tolar ran so low to the ground in the Oklahoma Drill, when the taller tacklers got low to stop him, their plastic Ridell helmets would crack so loudly you would blink, then he’d sprint away. Other would-be tacklers tried to straighten him up with a forearm shiver to his face, only to find his helmet attacking their ribs, groin, or solar plexus. Again unstopped, Tolar would trot back with blood dripping from his nose onto his powder blue practice jersey.

Charlie Tolar

Back then, the only face protection worn by running backs was two bars to prevent their teeth from getting knocked out. Noses were expendable, as were most other body parts.

Tolar epitomized his generation of pro players (including my brother, another of my football heroes). Their game was more physical, untamed, and merciless.

Between then and now, the NFL game morphed from sport to spectacle, and the league into a wealthy corporate brand starring very elite athletes who compete in a game that is, as one sportswriter described, “regimented and stylized violence.”

Today’s NFL players are bigger, faster, and stronger due to year around training guided by state-of-the-art exercise and nutrition science. They enjoy more protection: faces shielded by cages or plexiglass; knees fortified with braces; ribs, kidneys, necks, hands, and elbows padded with the same advanced materials used by soldiers in combat.

Dr. Bennet Omalu

These players are too expensive to risk unnecessary injury. The average NFLer ’s career is already down to 3.3 years. The league has banned the most punishing old-school techniques like clotheslining, forearm shivers, low cut blocks, leg whips, blindsides, and crack backs that fractured ankles, knees, and sometimes necks in the good old days. And, no surprise, the Oklahoma Drill is near extinct at NFL most practices.

However, despite all these safeguards, as Dr. Omalu revealed, football remains 100-percent risky for anyone who plays it due to a thorny physics problem—there is no way to protect a player’s brain. Helmets only protect the skull. The brain is three pounds of tissue which is mainly water and has the consistency of jello. The incredible forces generated by NFL’s superb athletes in those breathtaking collisions ends up working against them. Although all their other highly conditioned body parts may be able to abruptly decelerate and safely absorb the shocks, the brain’s momentum is not slowed until it bounces against the inside of the skull. (To fully grasp what happens then, see this presentation by Eric Blackman of the University of Rochester.)

When Dr. Omalu, a Nigerian immigrant, presented his troubling findings to the NFL, the league first tried to demonize him as an ignorant, foreign non-fan and have him ousted from the medical profession. However, as more neurologists, including some NFL team doctors, studied his evidence, they concurred.

So did the NFL Players Association. Players suspected something was going wrong before CTE had a name. Too many veterans, even young ones, were experiencing medical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, memory loss, anxiety, depression or, worse, exhibiting bizarre behaviors—spousal abuse, random outbursts of aggression, and suicide. (Worth noting: Dr. Omalu suspects OJ Simpson’s criminal behavior might be due to CTE.)

Reacting to the backlash from players (including a lawsuit), fans, and TV sponsors, the NFL has taken steps to reduce brain injuries. The NFL’s official website reports:

The NFL has made 47 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions and strengthen the league’s medical protocols. The NFL deploys 29 medical professionals on the sidelines for each game. Working with the NFL Players Association, the league enforces a concussion protocol for players that has been instrumental in immediately identifying and diagnosing concussions and other head-related injuries.

A concussion protocol is better than nothing, but not much. Other than rest, there is no definitive medical treatment for a concussion.

Unfortunately, Dr. Omalu suspects repeated hits to the head, whether or not they result in a concussion, cause brain damage. There is no way to determine whether a player or veteran has CTE without microscopic examination of the brain post-mortem. It is to difficult to diagnosis in a living subject because CTE shares symptoms common to a host of other brain diseases. What is most insidious about CTE is that it seems to be a chronic, progressive disease. It can take years, even decades, to manifest itself.

For the NFL, CTE remains a brand-threatening morale and PR problem that just won’t go away. More and more parents, including NFL players, don’t want their kids to play football. Fans’ ardor for the game might cool knowing their entertainment might cause their heroes lose their minds.

Last year, University of Boston researchers examined 111 brains of deceased NFL players which had been donated by their families. A shocking 110 indicated CTE. That, of course, was a biased sample. Probably not every former NFL player has it, or if they do, will ever exhibit symptoms. As yet, there is no empirically quantified risk profile of whom, and how many, will develop it. But clearly playing football is a roll of the dice in high stakes game of brain roulette. Some players are lucky, others are not.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I sat before the TV to root for the underdog Eagles, concerned they had a big challenge to overcome. Superstar Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had suffered a concussion just a couple weeks before in the playoffs, had miraculously recovered. In compliance with the NFL’s concussion protocol, “independent neurological consultants” cleared him to play.

Artwork that accompanied the New York Daily News’ 2017 four-part series on CTE and the fate of football.

Early in the second quarter, Patriots receiver Brandon Cooks took a vicious hit to his head, leaving him sprawled motionless on the astroturf. As medical staff gathered around him, the TV network cut away for ads. Waiting for the game to resume, I Googled Charlie Tolar on my iPad to find out what became of him.

Turns out Charlie Tolar died of cancer in 2003 at age 65. When he wasn’t playing pro football, he worked for Red Adair, the famous Texan who traveled around the world with a crack team to extinguish and cap dangerous out of control oil well fires. Among the many remembrances of Tolar was this from a fan who fondly recalled seeing him:

“…hit helmet to helmet with a defender in a college game. Both busted their helmets, both went down hard. Charlie was up and back in the huddle as if nothing happened. They carried the other guy off the field.”

Among those who knew him personally, nobody hinted he had any post-football cognitive problems. I hope he was one of the lucky ones.

 

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Amazon: Stay out of Colorado for your headquarters

Editor’s Note: Amazon is looking for a site in either the U.S. or Canada to build a second headquarters. The list of potential locations has been narrowed from 238 to 20 cities, including Denver.

The letter’s author: Alan Apt is a modest person who downplays his many accomplishments as a writer, environmentalist, politician, and volunteer. Learn more about Alan…

The Amazon site will offer employment to as many as 50,000 workers. There likely will be a great population surge into whichever state is chosen, heightening pressure on infrastructures, natural resources, civic institutions, and public spending.

Not every Coloradan supports the idea of Denver as the Amazon city since a large population influx could negatively impact Front Range communities from Colorado Springs south of Denver to Fort Collins north of the metropolitan area.

The following letter states reasons why Colorado should not be seen as a good location.

 

To Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon Corporation

Dear Mr. Bezos,

Speaking as a former Fort Collins City Councilperson, current member of the Nederland Board of trustees (in Nederland, Colo.), and a longtime Colorado resident, I understand your interest in potentially opening a facility in beautiful, sunny, mile-high Colorado, home to many outstanding communities. For various good reasons, 90,000 good people relocate to Colorado every year. Nevertheless, fiscal and social prudence would have you also consider:

  • Many, probably most, new-to-Colorado residents will locate and send their children to school in very close proximity to toxic industrial sites as fracking escalates the degradation of our state. The traditional zoning laws that separate toxic industrial sites from homes and schools have been set aside in Colorado by legislative and executive branches of government heavily influenced by oil and gas money.
  • Out-of-control growth has created gridlock on our highways. Our state wants to create more lanes rather than focus on mass transit and innovative solutions. Funding for essential needs has fallen far behind due to gridlock in the state capitol.
  • Colorado is mediocre, at best, in its support of el/hi public education. We rank near the bottom in per capita spending on students—in spite of voters’ attempts to correct this under-investment. Class sizes continue to increase.
  • Our state is choking on growth.
    • As housing prices and rents have soared, there is no affordable housing along the Front Range. The number of homeless children is increasing as a result.
    • Water, already a scarce resource, is becoming even scarcer as our population increases and the essential snowpack, our only water source, is decreasing as a result of global warming. Massive dams that will choke our rivers are being planned.
    • Too many vehicles and, as well, methane emissions from fracking make it risky to exercise outside most summer afternoons because of ozone pollution.
    • Inadequate environmental regulations are not protecting public health and safety.

You have a reputation as a caring and responsible person. I urge you to turn down all tax incentives being offered since our state and especially our struggling local community needs exceed yours. Please seek a location where your business would be a boon, rather than a burden, to the people of the state.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Apt

 

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Little Plays in Four Acts

By John Gascoyne

You’ve settled down with your spouse and the kidlets to eat popcorn and watch a bit of after-dinner TV. The program, only so-so, invites lassitude, but the commercial jolts you into wide-eyed, amazed alertness.

John Gascoyne is a writer and lawyer living in Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about John…

The ad is a cartoon representation of Joe’s gastrointestinal tract. There is blockage in the tract and we get to view cartoon doo-doo. You’re not comfortable with this and sideways glances reveal that the kids, also not comfortable, are looking at you, searching for a parental explanation of relevance and okay-ness. You have no idea of how to respond, so you sit there ignoring your parental obligation. Your spouse does likewise.

Back to the program and, too soon, to the next medical commercial.

What you are watching is an almost purely American phenomenon – the hawking of prescription medications over your TV set. New Zealand also allows such ads; no other country does.

Few, perhaps none, of these commercials are more than a minute in length. Nonetheless, almost all are carefully contrived plays, each with four discernible acts:

  • Act One – the bad thing – designed to scare the hell out of you. Depending upon the drug being peddled, it can be, among other things, an obstructed gut, serious skin problems, a heart that’s ready to blow, or a brain that’s about to fail you big time.

    Viagra is advertised on TV and in print. This advertisement is from 1970. Source: ProCon.org

  • Act Twohelp is on the way. If you will just invest in our product, you can be saved from the bad thing. This promise is underscored by fluffy depictions of people learning to smile again, going for walks in grassy meadows, or tossing their grandkids up in the air.
  • Act Threedon’t say we didn’t warn you. This contains a litany of at least some of the truly negative things that have happened to some of the folks who invested their retirement savings in our product. The litany runs the gamut – from itchy scalp to bloating, to worsening of the condition we want to save you from, to premature death.
  • Act Four – really upbeat again, striving to induce gauzy forgetfulness over the scares induced in Act Three. Trust us, just trust us. More kids being tossed into the air.

The sales pitch often includes weasel words, subtle exculpation. Listen for the words “have happened.” This is a smoothing over of the scary language used in Act Three. E.g. “Incidents of uncontrollable itching, horrible heartburn, and early death have happened.” No ad cops to the reality that the cure is sometimes worse than the malady.

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Remember this advertisement? “Lady, Your Anxiety Is Showing,” Ad for Triavil, a tranquilizer antidepressant in 1970. Source: ProCon.org

An honest statement would be more like: “In some instances, use of our product has produced negative results, sometimes serious ones, such as…… Nonetheless, you may benefit from our product and the odds are in your favor that there will be no downsides.”

Another part of the hype is, “Ask your doctor to prescribe….” Let’s examine this. You cannot, of course, obtain controlled medicines without a prescription. Consider that your doctor is hammered by clever salespeople touting their product, offering inducements to prescribe.

A 2016 New York Times opinion column said the drug industry, which annually spends over $5 billion on TV ads, spends about seven times more than that trying to induce doctors to prescribe their product. The OxyContin fiasco could not have gotten to epidemic status without many doctors over-prescribing it.

Long before television: Medical drug advertising in 1885 relied on printed materials. Source: ProCon.org

The American Medical Association once favored the airing of these ads. In more recent times, however, the AMA has come out against them. No one is listening.

Ask yourself why these ads are swarming your TV. Simple – it’s all about a money transfer – your money becoming the drug industry’s money – there is no stronger motivator. Yes, some or many of these products may produce some or all of the hoped-for relief. Don’t consider that as the main reason why you are looking at Joe’s gut.

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Why is your TV swarming with ads about prescription drugs?

Trump and Africa: Has he done us in?

By Pete Simon

The great American undoing could have started foolishly enough with Donald Trump’s “S—hole” comment on January 12. He spoke it with all of the grace of a drunken redneck sailor while stumbling down an alley in Mombasa in a forgotten decade when our C.I.A. still controlled everything across Africa.

Just eight days later, during a meeting with the chairman of the African Union, Trump had the chance to make amends, but he said nothing.

During his career, Pete Simon was a reporter and producer for public radio news departments in Colorado and Philadelphia. From 1998 to 2017, he worked in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Golden Field Office for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  Now retired, he is a writer living in Arvada, Colo, where he volunteers in the local arts community and public radio. Learn more about Pete…

Then, during his State of the Union speech, he didn’t mention Africa at all.

Leaving aside basic human respect and dignity, which seems beyond him, the need for Trump to extend an olive branch to African nations goes directly to our own economic survival. In just three weeks he placed into jeopardy the free-flowing of countless natural resources that our country must have from Africa in order to survive; a fact most of us here do not realize.

Consider: The next time you flip on a light switch, drive your car, or eat some chocolate, think about where the cocoa, copper, or other metals come from to make those items. These are critical resources affecting our entire country, including, for example, the extractive and renewable energy industries doing business in Colorado. But we take for granted the cocoa and vanilla beans, copper, titanium, chromium, palladium, and other precious minerals that come from the African treasure house.

Why?

Those resources were a safe bet for us for so long because of the work over the decades by our diplomats and C.I.A. They ensured African markets stayed open to keep us in this secure bubble. Two things radically change that now: China’s involvement in Africa and Donald Trump.

Extreme theatrics and bombast may have worked for Trump to get him elected. But on a world stage of securing essential trade agreements for our financial security, racist locker room banter is the last thing we need.

Chinese influences: Today, Africa is filled with children learning Mandarin. Gone are the days when European colonizers and the U.S. controlled everything. Now, China has a lot more to say about what goes on in South African, Congolese, and Zambian mines.

Having already spent tens of billions of dollars across Sub-Saharan Africa, China is planning to spend another $75 billion there and $1 trillion on its “Belt and Road” initiative, a jaw-dropping system of roads and infrastructure that will connect African cities to places across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. That is seven times the amount of money the U.S. spent in 1947 on The Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.

The Chinese have been winning on the public relations front in Africa since the 1960s and 70s, when they funded and built the TanZam Railway, giving land-locked Zambia a transportation outlet to Dar Es Salaam so Zambia could ship its copper reserves to world markets without having to send it through Apartheid South African ports. (It was China’s funding of the TanZam which caused African nations in 1971 to vote for China’s seating at the U.N.; the event that threw anti-U.N. sentiment here on steroids.) This important history hasn’t been lost on Africans.

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Apology needed: If anyone is left in the pared-down Trump State Department who specializes in African affairs, perhaps they can explain to Mr. Trump why he must apologize immediately for his inflammatory comments, if only for our industries, economy, and future that he always insists is his top priority.

While Donald Trump uses profanity that widens the gulf between the U.S. and Africa, China is spending nearly a trillion dollars to develop the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) designed to link China to Europe, the Mideast, and two African hubs: Kenya and Egypt. Other Chinese-funded rail systems are linking Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda with the BRI. Photo: A cargo train is launched to operate on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation and financed by the Chinese government in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer.

Our only hope…

In 1958, my Methodist Sunday School teacher told our class to celebrate newly-independent nations, like Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. It contrasted well alongside images of Tarzan movies I watched on Saturday afternoons.  As luck would have it, the Navy destroyer on which I was stationed in 1969 was sent to Africa, where my appreciation of various peoples and cultures grew exponentially.

The disrespect shown toward Africans by some of my shipmates seemed anti-American to me. It is one thing for a few racist sailors in African ports to beat-up people they call “gooks”; but quite another for our Head-of-State to verbally trash the continent from which we have taken so much to fortify and maintain what we have. The Chinese must be smiling at the fool in the White House.

The only hope this country has now rests with the intelligence of African people. They know Donald Trump does not speak for most Americans; he did not win the popular vote and the 2016 election is still under review for tampering.

U.S. links: Our country has an obvious historical linkage with Africa. Today, hard-working African immigrants here live the American dream and send some of their hard-earned money back home to their families. Hopefully, this rock-solid relationship will not be shaken by an unstable President. Perhaps an apology shouldn’t be expected, but it sure would be nice to hear him say for once: “I’m sorry.”

Shirley Temple Black’s observations still true today

If we are lucky, this all may sort out for the best. But there remains a bittersweet irony to Trump’s use of vile language—an irony that reflects a spot-on observation made by Shirley Temple Black when she was Ambassador to Ghana during the Ford administration from December 1974 to July 1976.

In his book In Search of Enemies – A C.I.A. Story (p. 174-75), former C.I.A. Angola Task Force Chief John Stockwell wrote of Black:

During a trip from Ghana to Washington in October 1975, Black had lunch in the C.I.A. Executive Dining Room with top agency officials overseeing the (then) Angola crisis. She complained that “No one seemed to be coordinating America’s overall policy in African Affairs, no one was considering what the Angola program (the C.I.A. was orchestrating at the time) might do to our relations with Ghana, or other countries like Nigeria and Tanzania.”

She pointed out the Soviets’ national sport is chess and their foreign policy reflects an effort at the long-range planning of coordinated, integrated moves, although they often play the game badly and are given to serious blunders.”

Black continued: “THE CHINESE are notorious for planning their foreign policy carefully, with moves designed to reach fruition even years beyond lifetimes of present leaders.”

By contrast, Ambassador Black observed, “The United States is a poker player. It looks the world over, picks up whatever cards it is dealt, and plays, raising the stakes as more cards are dealt, until the hand is won or lost. Then, after a drag on a cigarette and another sip of whiskey, it looks around for the next hand to be played.”

Little did Shirley Temple Black know 43 ago that she was describing perfectly what is taking place right now on the African continent between China and Donald Trump’s America.  Can you bare to watch the rest of this reckless behavior?

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Here’s the Real Story Behind Gluten Intolerance

By Janet Duvall

(This article was published originally on Feb. 2, 2018. It was updated with new information on May 3, 2018.)

How come so many of us—who used to eat bread and other grain-based foods without a problem—are now experiencing ill effects when we eat wheat and find ourselves prowling the grocery aisles for gluten-free foods?

We call it gluten intolerance, but this name is misleading and hides the ugly truth. Gluten is not the problem for many people; it’s the poisonous herbicide glyphosate sprayed on food crops that is making us sick.

Janet Duvall holds a master’s degree in ecology/zoology. She has been a writer and editor for three decades. Her writing focuses on social and environmental issues, along with mystery, true crime, and politics. She lives near Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about Janet…

A review of glyphosate research, compiled by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, was published in 2013 in Interdisciplinary Toxicology. Examining the results of 271 scientific studies, Samsel and Seneff reported:

“Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic.”

Monsanto started marketing Roundup (a glyphosate herbicide) in 1974, but Roundup kills every plant that it touches, so it had limited agricultural application. Determined to sell more of their virulent herbicide, Monsanto chemists used genetic engineering (GE) in the late 1990s to create seeds that could tolerate high doses of Roundup.

After planting Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds, many farmers began freely spraying Roundup on their genetically modified (GMO) corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and alfalfa crops. The weeds died, and the GMO crops survived.

Then, in addition to pushing Roundup for weed control, Monsanto’s “Preharvest Staging Guide” encourages farmers to spray Roundup, as a slow-acting desiccant, just before harvest to accelerate the drying and maturation of their crops.  The Guide recommends the application of Roundup when crops — including non-GMO crops such as wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, and dry beans — are at the end of the growing season and ready for harvest.  The crop plant is killed by the Roundup, along with any surrounding weeds, but the seeds (the peas, the beans, the kernels) are theorized to be protected from glyphosate as they remain inside their pods. The pods are then harvested, and we get to eat their contents.

Don’t forget to take the short poll at the end off this article

According to Monsanto, “When it comes to safety assessments, no other pesticide has been more extensively tested than glyphosate. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide, including the EPA, has been that glyphosate can be used safely according to label instructions.”

Evidently, Roundup is deemed safe for the sprayer who follows label instructions, but what about the people and animals that innocently consume the grains contaminated by this powerful herbicide?

Can anybody believe that the poison is not carried on the grain as it is harvested, ground into flour and used in food and other products too numerous to mention?  EcoWatch, in “15 Health Problems Linked to Monsanto’s Roundup,” tells us: “In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate in our food, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe and where our children play.” The 15 health problems attributed to exposure to Roundup or glyphosate, are listed and explained in EcoWatch’s article, including celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

In the 2013 opinion of researchers Samsel and Seneff: “The monitoring of glyphosate levels in food and in human urine and blood has been inadequate. The common practice of desiccation and/or ripening with glyphosate right before the harvest ensures that glyphosate residues are present in our food supply. It is plausible that the recent sharp increase of kidney failure in agricultural workers is tied to glyphosate exposure. We urge governments globally to reexamine their policy towards glyphosate and to introduce new legislation that would restrict its usage.”

As if in response to Samels and Seneff, a research team tested glyphosate residues in the urine of animals and humans and reported results in Environmental and Analytical Toxicology (2014). They found that “chronically ill humans showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine than healthy population[s]. The presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals could haul the entire population towards numerous health hazards; studying the impact of glyphosate residues on health is warranted and the global regulations for the use of glyphosate may have to be re-evaluated.”

The responsibility for this gluten-intolerance epidemic must be placed directly on the doorstep of Monsanto, the creator and pusher of Roundup. Those of us who are suffering from celiac disease and/or who are now considered gluten intolerant can help accelerate legislation to restrict the use of Roundup and glyphosate by refusing to play the duplicitous word game. Call “gluten intolerance” by its true name: MONSANTO HERBICIDE INTOLERANCE.

Good advice:

If people who are “gluten intolerant” are actually “Monsanto Roundup intolerant,” it may be most important to search for food products that have not been sprayed with the poisonous herbicide.  That means eating only “USDA organic” or “certified organic” products — both certifications indicating that the grain has not been sprayed with herbicide.  If a product labeled “gluten-free” contains GMO corn, for example, it is likely that the corn would have been sprayed with Roundup and, thus, cause a negative reaction to the Monsanto Roundup intolerant person.

Furthermore, due to possible preharvest application of Roundup on non-GMO crops, people who are intolerant of Monsanto Roundup should consider whether the pod is protection against glyphosate and may need to avoid even non-GMO wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, and dry beans.

Hospital discharge diagnosis (any) of celiac disease ICD-9 579 and glyphosate applications to wheat (R=0.9759, p≤1.862e-06). Sources: USDA:NASS; CDC. (Figure courtesy of Nancy Swanson) as published by Samsel and Seneff in Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 2013 Dec. 6(4): 159 – 184.

David Adamson, a writer in Oregon, points out, “One of the leading national voices about wheat is Dr. William Davis, a preventative cardiologist. He is famous for the “Wheat Belly” series. His contention, backed by lots of clinical data, is that celiac disease is actually caused by a protein called gliadin. He would fully agree that wheat has become so adulterated by Monsanto and others it no longer resembles the wholesome grain from biblical times.”

Some people are unable to eat any grain for best health. According to Davis, “The few foods that increase blood sugar higher than even wheat include rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato flour–the most common ingredients used in glutenfree foods. A glutenfree whole grain bread, for instance, is usually made with a combination of brown rice, potato, and tapioca starches.”

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