Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Help! I'm Stuck with Fox News

Wally Hickel, former governor of Alaska
Secretary of the Interior for President Nixon

I'm in Anchorage AK and just spent 30 minutes on the internet and phone to cancel one night at Captain Cook Hotel while listening to FOX to get news about Netanyahu election in Israel. 

My husband's medical crisis while on vacation landed us here in Anchorage at Providence Alaska Medical Center. I'm staying at Hickel House, a nice 3-story guest house like Motel 6, provided next door to the hospital by the Sisters of Providence at a reasonable price. 

Funding for this residence was donated by Walter Hickel and his wife Ermalee, who was active in Catholic charities.

Thank you for this guest house costing only $110 per night... But I have no access to MSNBC or CNN in my room. 

MSNBC is listed but the television shows only a message "Premium channels are not available with this package." CNN isn't even on the list. 

The cable provider is "GCI -- Alaska's most advanced network."

It offers peaceful Alaska photos on one channel and many other options: Discovery, History, Hallmark along with game shows, talk shows, PBS, and sports. 

The only news channels listed (besides non-available MSNBC) are FOX, One America, local news channels (mostly talk during the day), and three other semi-news channels KTBY, KYES, and KAKM.

Thus, in order to find breaking news about the election in Israel, I am reduced to listening to FOX. 

Here's what the FOX  guys are talking about:

**Obscene dismissal of Christine Blasey Ford testimony, adulation of Kavanaugh. 

**"Mayor Pete Silent on Horrific Abortion." 

**"Many Dems Find Religion as Election Nears" 

**Some obscure reference to a whistleblower but no explanation of what this is about.

[Note: Yes, THAT whistleblower.  But on September 18-19 on FOX news, I had no way of finding out anything about this news story.]

Joe Biden is routinely referred to as "sleepy, creepy Joe."  And there's no news about the election in Israel.

The main topic of discussion is the NYT review of a book on Kavanaugh's approval for the Supreme Court.  The Times pans the online-only book by Regnery Publishing.

According to FOX, a subsequent charge by a female Yale student is baseless because the victim has no memory of Kavanaugh exposing himself in her face to ridicule her at a party.  She learned it later from others.  

After 20 minutes, FOX mentions that the Yale student was drunk. Thank you--that explains her lack of memory.  Drunk people don't remember things that occurred while they were under the influence. There was an onlooker, Max Steger, willing to testify about Kavanaugh's obscene penis-thrusting--but FOX completely discounts the report of this witness..
The FOX focus is "poor Kavanaugh" being subjected to this false testimony. After all, "he's a father of little girls."

I was plowing along stoically, coping with my husband's medical crisis, medical bills, phone calls, 
But what reduced me to tears was trying to cancel the Captain Cook Hotel reservation while listening to Fox News.

No wonder Alaska voted for Trump with this propaganda as its only news source--except for the Anchorage Daily News.  It would take insight to go online and read the forbidden New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and other news sources.

Note: patients in this Catholic hospital had access to both MSNBC and CNN.  But no one at the guest house had access.  Somebody made a decision for FOX only, and no one questioned it.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Christians who are feminists... Yaasss!

Women Roman Catholic priests celebrating Mass, Oct. 14, 2006, in North Hollywood

Thank you to high school student Aimee Bonar for researching and writing on Christian feminists last summer while she was an intern at the LA Times.  Her article is on the HS Insider site at

So often I encounter people who have no idea that many Christians are also ardent feminists.  I appreciate her interest and her interviews of feminist young women and experts in the field.

I'm glad she found the website for Christian Feminism Today-- not hard because we come up #2 (after Wikipedia) when you do a Google search on the words "Christian feminism." 

Aimee did a good job of interviewing Dr. Katie Deaver, who works for CFT's website.  Katie and I are both members of Christian Feminism Today, founded in 1974.  Our next conference will be in July 2020 in Cincinnati. 

There's another important resource for feminist-leaning Christians called Christians for Biblical Equality

CFT supports LGBTQ rights and fights for women's equality within the church.  CBE doesn't support gay rights but otherwise is a great resource for inquiring young feminists in the church.   

See also the Instagram posts of  Kathy Barbini @baptizingfeminism and her tweets @BaptizeFeminism.  We're both local here in Los Angeles County.  She's making a documentary film on Christian feminism and has interviewed women all over the US.

There are feminists among Latinas, too.  I have two women friends who each started their own church in Santa Ana, not far from Trinity United Presbyterian, where Aimee interviewed three young women.   Rosy Hernandez preaches in Spanish at Iglesia Poder y Uncion de Lo Alto at 2520 N. Grand Avenue in Santa Ana.  Her sister Mirna Aguilar preaches in Spanish with English translation. 

Finally a warning to Julia Wright, who is quoted in Aimee's article as believing God gave "different" gifls to men and women but both should be respected.  

"Different but equal" is a red flag.  Christian feminists oppose the idea that God gave certain roles to men (leadership) and other roles to women (home and subordinate roles).  

There are both pro-equality for women and anti-equality passages in the Bible, reflecting a debate within the first century church  over this issue. Compare Galatians 3:28 to 1 Timothy2:11. 

Groups that argue for different but "complimentary" roles for men and women include the Southern Baptist Convention (since 2000--before that they had women pastors like the American Baptists), the Roman Catholic Church, and most Orthodox churches. 

There's much more to learn on the CFT website and CBE website.

Again, thank you, Aimee, for choosing this complex but fascinating topic for research and writing during your summer internship.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Ghosts of Labor Days past

Western Federation of Miners made this poster
in the 1903 Telluride strike

Forget the barbecues--unless you do hard physical labor and need a break.  Let's honor Labor Day by supporting workers in our communities and our nation.

My grandfather was ten years old when the miners in Telluride, Colorado, went on strike, demanding that their workday be reduced from 12 hours to 8 hours.  His father was a miner, but the Black Bear Mine was owned by its workers and no one went on strike there.

Sheriffs arrested the striking miners of other mines and charged them with vagrancy.  Mine owners called on the governor of Colorado to intervene.

In November, mine owners at Telluride made several requests that the governor send in national guard troops. There were no disturbances, but the owners wanted to reopen the mines with strikebreakers, and wanted national guard protection. The governor sent a committee of five led by the attorney general. The committee reported that Telluride was peaceful, but that the union picketers were armed, and if the mines reopened, local authorities would not be able to prevent violence. Governor Peabody asked President Theodore Roosevelt to send in US Army soldiers; the president refused. The governor sent in 500 Colorado National Guard troops, who arrived in Telluride on 24 November 1903.[11]

On this Labor Day, 2019, in addition to miners around the world, I'm thinking of two groups of workers:

1) Caregivers for elderly and sick people, who work 24/7 shifts 6 or 7 days per week.  See today's NY Times report by Andy Newman for details.  Thank you to the many who cared for my mother after she got Alzheimer's and broke her hip.

2) Temporary and part-time workers, especially those who don't have benefits because they are seen as self-employed.  See this op-ed piece by Louis Hyman in today's LA Times.  He's an associate professor at Cornell University whose recent book is “Temp: The Real Story of What Happened to Your Salary, Benefits, and Job Security.”

One sub-group of these marginalized workers are the drivers for Uber and Lyft, who are striking to win benefits.

What you can do today is contact your state assembly member and state senator, asking them to support any bill that protects labor.

In California, it's Assembly Bill 5.  Hyman writes:

In California, there has been a great debate over the gig economy. The state Assembly in May passed Assembly Bill 5, which would strictly define who is and who is not an independent worker. The lawmakers hope that if Uber and Lyft drivers are defined as traditional employees, then they would have better economic security.

Get on it! Do your part.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Fentanyl Stories

Photo from a post on April 20, 2017 on the parent blog
of the Center on Addiction

Heart-breaking doesn't begin to describe the fentanyl stories.

Tyler Skaggs was only 27 years old.  He used to hang around the softball field where my daughter Marie practiced at Santa Monica High School because his mother was the girls softball coach and he was five years younger than Marie.

Then he became a major league baseball player, and he battled injuries, for which he was prescribed oxycodone.  It only takes a week or two to become addicted to that drug if your body is susceptible.

Then on June 30 he flew to Texas with his team.  He drank enough alcohol that evening for his blood-alcohol level to reach 0.122% (.08% = a DUI). 

It was not a good idea to drink when 38 nanograms/mm of oxycodone was already in his system.

And then he ingested fentanyl--a choice only a very drunk person could make.

He hadn't even removed the cowboy boots he was wearing when he arrived in the hotel room.  His stomach fought back and vomited up its contents, but he choked on the vomit and died, found the next afternoon. 

My heart aches for his mother and for his bride.  He and she married last December.

"Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiod similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent on a weight-by-weight basis," write Maria Torres and Mike DiGiovanna in the Los Angeles Times, "Opiods found in Skaggs' system."  

How could anything be 100 times more powerful than morphine?  Who sold it to Tyler?

The only way this story could be any more tragic is to know that it happened to 30,000 people in the US last year.  

'No other drug in modern history has killed more people in a year," reports the Los Angeles Times with a two-page investigative report on fentanyl filling half the front page of today's Sunday edition.  Thank you to Kate Linthicum for reporting and writing "Death, made in Mexico."

Katie interviewed three drug suppliers in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico: an opium grower put out of business by the synthetic drugs, a 23-year-old fentanyl cook, and a 43-year-old trafficker of fentanyl who worries about the deaths in the US.

She also interviewed the family of Bryan McKinsey, who died last year at age 16 after ingesting fentanyl in a suburb of Phoenix.  His family's attention was focused on his older brother in rehab for use of the same drug.

My daughters too struggle with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and nicotine.  I have come close to getting the news that Bryan's and Tyler's parents received.

Thanks to rehab and AA along with CA, my daughter Ellen has 12 years clean and sober.  She's now a marriage and family therapist helping others face addictions.

But every story of a parent who has lost a child breaks my heart.