Friday, February 28, 2014

Word of the Day: UPRISING [Part 1 of 3]

This post is the beginning of a three-part series about uprisings that are currently going on in the world.  There are similarities and differences among the three of them, and they all deserve attention.  My attention today is on the country of Venezuela, since it has received the least amount of attention, at least here in the United States.

Following the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on March 5 of last year, a special election was held on April 19.  Venezuela's vice-president Nichol├ís Maduro was voted in as President, a position he has held for a little more than ten months.

Maduro and his policies have not been popular among Venezuelans.  In fact, opposition to Maduro stems back to opposition to Hugo Chavez.  At the beginning of this month, Leopoldo Lopez, a leader of the opposition against Hugo Chavez, called on students for a peaceful protest against serious shortages of goods and instability in the country.  The initial protest, at the Catholic University of T├íchira, was met with an extreme response, including beatings and detentions.  As a result, the protests spread across the country.  Students made up the entirety of original protestors, but many who are not students have now joined their ranks.

High levels of crime, including murder, have been plaguing the country for some time.  (It has been estimated as many of 25,000 murders last year alone.)  Other issues, which are included in the protests, are national food and goods shortages, a faltering economy, strict government price controls, high inflation (a staggering 56%), and claims of police brutality.

We live in a digital age, so just as social media has been key in previous protests (i.e. Arab Spring), there has been an app that has been crucial in these protests.  The app is Zello, and it features live voice chat and a walkie-talkie like feature.  Last week, Zello's CEO Bill Moore said that the Venezuelan state-run telecommunications company blocked access to the app.  Zello immediately pursued other online routes to allow Venezuelans access again; they were successful within a day.

Below are some images of the protests in Venezuela:

The goals of the protestors are the ouster of President Maduro and a new election.  It is likely that Maduro knows his chances to win may not be so strong, since he won the 2013 election by a margin of less than two percent.  Perhaps the increased violence and worldwide attention in his country are getting to Maduro.  He believes the U.S. is trying to overthrow his government via the U.S. media.  Six days ago, he demanded that the worldwide news service CNN leave Venezuela.  (He retracted the demand the following day, stating he wants all news agencies to report in a "balanced" manner.)

Back on February 18, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to authorities to face charges of murder and terrorism that allegedly occurred during the protests.  No doubt, it is a move to try and silence Lopez and lessen his authority among the opposition.

Below, you will find a two-part video of a program that recently aired on France 24 EnglishIt features reporting on, and a discussion of, events in Venezuela.  (Total time of both videos: approximately 37 minutes.)

Clearly, the uprising in Venezuela is of a people wanting to change their current situation and to control its future.  There have been deaths and damage so far.  The crisis needs to end soon.  Otherwise, Venezuela may fall into collapse.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Term of the Day: INNER BULLY

A good friend of mine has recently published two books and I would like to tell you about them.  First, allow me to tell you a little about my friend.
My friend is Dr. Sidney Rosen, Ph.D.  He is a psychologist who has been in private practice for thirty years, who works in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  He sees his work with his patients in terms of building up (i.e. courage, self-worth), cutting down (i.e. self-sabotaging behaviors), and fulfillment (i.e. giving yourself permission to feel good, self-forgiveness).  He says the stereotypical view of seeing a psychiatrist, of being a weak or abnormal person, should be seen as what he calls "self-respecting hard work".

In this book, Sidney deals with the issue referred to as the "inner bully" -- what is inside of you that makes you sabotage almost anything positive (i.e. positive thoughts, pursuing and attaining goals, healthy relationships).  This inner bully is a series of self-sabotaging thoughts, not just a one-time visit.  Please click on and listen to the audio clip below in which Sidney talks about this book.
Sidney recently appeared on the Power Your Life television program hosted by Dr. Jo Anne White to discuss his book:

In this book, Sidney deals with what can be called a weight loss inner bully.  He delves into ways we find ourselves keeping ourselves from reaching the goal of losing weight.  He notes that the book is not written to be a distinct, incorporated weight loss plan.  Rather, it is more of a textual supplement to any existing diet program you may be currently using or considering using.  The audio clip below is Sidney introducing his book to you.

Dr. Sidney Rosen knows his stuff, and I highly recommend his books.  The books may be ordered through by clicking on the titles of the books above the pictures of their covers.  Sidney's
website will give you more information about him and his practice.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


[The following is an addendum to my previous posting titled "Term of the Day: HYDRAULING FRACTURING"]

Last night, on the U.S. cable television program 'The Rachel Maddow Show', a report was given on the effects of fracking, as noted in a report and a documentary titled 'Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil & Bad Air on the Texas Prairie'. Here are the two segments related to this report.

The link below will take you to the page of the report Rachel Maddow highlights. There is a lot there: video, reports, click-on graphics, etc. You will find it highly informative.

Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale:
Big Oil & Bad Air on the Texas Prairie


Sunday, February 9, 2014


Perhaps you're not familiar with the term hydraulic fracturing.  Hydraulic fracturing is more commonly known as fracking, and there has been a lot of hub-bub surrounding it.

Fracking is a process by which primarily natural gas is extracted by means of fracturing rock through the use of highly pressurized water, sand, and chemicals.  A list of some of the chemicals most often used in fracking includes:
Diesel Fuel
Hydrogen Flouride
Sulfuric Acid

website gives a good explanation of the fracking process in an rather creative, illustrated, and interactive way.  (Scroll down the page slowly.)

Major gas companies have been busy for some time now extolling its benefits, exploiting unemployment, the economy, and the environment.  There have been commercials like these:


Oil sands, or tar sands, are comprised of sand, water, clay, and a thick oil known as bitumen. 
Tar sands have to be mined and then the bitumen needs to be separated from the earthly mixture before it is refined into oil.  There has been much debate about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  A recent U.S. State Department report concluded there would be little environmental impact from the tar sands mining.  However, a University of Toronto study concludes such would not be the case.  Many environmentalists agree.

The Keystone XL pipeline would be used in the export of tar sands from Canada to the United States.

In addition to natural gas, fracking would also be used for tar sands extraction.  There are serious risks with this pursuit of natural gas and tar sands.  One is the poisoning of water supplies near fracking sites.  As the rock is pressured to crack by the mixture of water, sand, and chemicals, naturally occurring gases, such as methane, can not only escape into the atmosphere, but also seep into natural water supplies.  Another side effect, earthquakes, can result from the shifting of underground plates.

I implore you to take the time to watch the following videos about fracking and its effects:

I can speak from a personal experience on this matter.  A couple of years ago, we experienced a rarity here in New Jersey, an earthquake.  A fracking operation down in Virginia had been operational for a while.  It is believed that, due to its operation, an earthquake was felt down south as far as the Carolinas, as far west as Illinois, and as far north as eastern Canada.  Unlike California, which sits on several fractured plates after decades of seismic activity, the eastern part of the United States sits on one plate due to the far less amount of seismic activity.  Thus, an earthquake in one town in California may not be felt in another town that sits on a separate plate.  Cause an earthquake in an area that is one large plate and it will be felt in a much larger area.

We did not experience any water contamination, obviously because of the distance from the fracking site and where we live, but the earthquake was enough of a wake-up call.  That, in addition to earthquakes in Kansas, Ohio, and Texas that appear to be likely caused by fracking, is enough for me to oppose the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

Another issue about fracking regarding water, aside from contamination, has been raised in a recent report by the Ceres corporation, an advocacy group for energy sustainability.  In the report, areas suffering from drought are experiencing even lower water levels due to fracking.

In my opinion, all of this talk about jobs, economy, and the availability of natural gas are merely smoke screens.  Do we need more jobs in the U.S.?  Yes.  Does our economy need improvement?  Yes.  The question, however, is whether earthquakes, contaminated water supplies, and unnaturally depleted water supplies are acceptable risks.  My answer is a resounding no.

To parts of the U.S. and other parts of this world where fracking is, or is about to, get under way, or where it is being considered, I urge you to make your answer a resounding no as well, and let your representatives hear from you!