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Occupy, You Make Me Proud to be an American

November 12 - Some of my best moments are when my children make me proud.  As any mother will tell you, once you become a mother, your nurturing instincts encompass every mother's children, everywhere. That's because, though human beings at their worst could mortify toxic sludge, human beings at their best are the outstretched hand of G-d.  The pleasure-filled looks on our children's faces when they do the work of uplifting those in need would make any mother kvel. As every mother knows, our children are at their very best when they take good care of each other.

First the members of Occupy took it upon themselves to help the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.  Going door to door, they have checked on the occupants of countless homes to determine their condition and their needs.  They have distributed food and clothing, and have offered comfort to so many who were badly shaken by the storm's battering.  Recognizing a job that required more than aid agencies by themselves could handle, they have stepped in to fill the gap.

Now comes word that Occupiers have convened and decided to fill another yawning chasm created by the American way of life.  While almost everyone agrees that higher education and good health are very much worth the investment, crippling indebtedness was never understood to be a part of that bargain.  Since unmanageable student loans and colossal medical bills affect the lives of a significant number of Americans, Occupy will undertake to eradicate them, particularly in communities hit the hardest by the Great Recession. This latest contribution to reshaping America into a place where everyone has enough to make a good life is called Rolling Jubilee.  Occupiers will make their contribution by purchasing debt for pennies on the dollar from collectors of loans that are in default.   A telethon/ variety show sponsored by Occupy will raise money for the purpose of buying debt on Nov. 15.  Very much to their credit, Occupy has already eased our collective debt burden, to the tune of $500,000.  If you live within viewing range of their telecast, please do all you can.

Hurricane Sandy has focused the attention of so many.   At least the timing couldn't be better, because on November 9, the National Research Council (NRC) issued their report on the unpredictable consequences of climate disruption.  Commissioned by various intelligence and defense agencies, including the C.I.A., the just-released report states that clusters of unrelated natural phenomena, exacerbated by climate disruption, are on the path of ever-increasing intensity. The resulting catastrophes will include interruptions in water supply, food supply, energy provision, and public health provision.  These disasters could, in turn, lead to internal instability here at home, or to international conflict overseas, requiring the U.S. to provide humanitarian and/or military assistance.

Because of the Defense Department's insistence on acknowledging and addressing climate change, major steps to plan for and adapt to the new reality have been implemented.  Billions of dollars have been spent on increased ship, aircraft, and vehicle fuel efficiency.  In spite of these measures, the report still maintains we are ill prepared for the disasters awaiting us.  Failed states with large populations migrating in order to avoid famine, flood or disease may result in the crossing of international borders.  Host nations, if not already similarly affected, and international agencies will struggle to cope with the influx of needy, possibly infected, "guests."  Syria and Turkey can well serve as an example of what lies ahead.

Other organizations have issued  reports predicting the same outcomes.  The National Intelligence Council issued a similar study in 2008.  The Pentagon and White House have also urged the need for greater readiness.  Hurricane Katrina's are no longer an option!  Yet Republicans in Congress tried to block creation of the C.I.A. Climate Change Center.  The Center, along with the U.S. weather satellite program, has been severely underfunded.  It goes without saying that the satellite program has never been more necessary.  Read my May 14, 2012 blog for further information about the weather satellite program's need for money.


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