Monday, September 1, 2014

Convert, leave, or die: Ethnic cleansing in Iraq

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An Iraqi woman, who fled from home with her baby when Islamic State (IS) militants attacked (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images).
"We have nothing. We can't leave. ISIS will catch us and kill us if we do."

Amnesty International is demanding more aid to help people in Iraq. Your support can help continue our efforts to help protect people fleeing human rights catastrophes in Iraq and around the world.

Make an emergency donation.
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Dear Tracy,

"We have nothing. We can't leave. ISIS will catch us and kill us if we do. For god's sake, please help us."

These are the desperate words of a man trapped in Kocho, a village near Sinjar Mountain.

As ISIS forces advance their brutal sweep across northern and western Iraq, Amnesty International human rights investigator Donatella Rovera is on the ground documenting the horrors people there are experiencing and showing them to the world.

Please make a donation to support efforts to document human rights violations and demand aid for civilians in conflict zones like Iraq.

Hundreds of people who had been trapped told Donatella that little or no aid had reached them and air-dropped water bottles often broke on impact.

Amnesty is demanding that the Iraqi central government, the Kurdish Regional Government and international stakeholders provide safe shelter and humanitarian assistance to men, women and children who have been forced to flee in the face of ferocious brutality.

According to Donatella, "ISIS has given minority communities an unambiguous message - convert, leave or die. This is ethnic cleansing."

Donatella and other Amnesty experts have been sent to the field to gather stories, photos and videos that document war crimes. We'll share what we learn with the media and pressure the international community to take action to protect displaced people and ensure their humanitarian needs are met.

We have a responsibility to the people of Iraq and to civilians in conflict zones throughout the world. Will you help keep our researchers in the field? Donate now.


Adotei Akwei
Managing Director, Government Relations
Amnesty International USA

Add your name now – PETITION: No loophole for rapists

Dear Tracy,

This petition is taking off and we don't want to send it without your name on it.

Rape loopholes can force women to marry their rapists. Can you imagine the horror these women endure, living day in and day out with their rapists?

Advocates like you helped repeal one of these awful laws in Morocco. Let's repeal them all.

We're submitting this petition on Sunday. Stand up for women’s rights.

Sign this petition.

Thank you,

Cristina Finch
template image template image
Get away with rape? No more. Sign this petition.
Get Involved
Close rape loopholes.

Moroccan activists call on governments around the world to protect sexual and reproductive rights. © Amnesty International
If you agree that a rapist shouldn't escape punishment by marrying the woman he attacked, sign this petition.

Laws in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco make excuses for sexual violence. They fail to uphold the human rights of girls and women.
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Dear Tracy,

In Tunisia and Algeria, rapists can escape justice by marrying the women they attack.

It's shocking and true. In these countries, a man can marry the girl he rapes and get away with it...if the survivor is under 18. He can then legally terrorize her for the rest of her life. Some girls see suicide as their only way out.

You can change this.

Sign the petition demanding an end to discrimination against women and girl survivors of sexual violence.

Outrage from activists like you helped close this rape loophole in Morocco. But there's another, equally horrendous loophole.

Morocco's Penal code allows rapists to receive a lighter sentence ...if the woman is not a virgin.

Rape is rape - not a marriage proposal.

Stand up for the rights of women and girls in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Here are the petition's 3 additional demands:
  • Recognize rape within marriage as a specific criminal offense
  • End laws against sex between unmarried consenting adults
  • Train police, judges, lawyers and healthcare workers to respond to survivors of sexual violence in a sensitive, confidential and non-discriminatory manner
Will you join me and add your name to the petition urging these countries to end discrimination against women and girl survivors of sexual violence?

Thank you for joining the fight for human rights,

Cristina M. Finch
Identity and Discrimination Unit
Amnesty International USA

Japan’s Beethoven/ showers on buses/ MH17 plane crash

Aug. 4 Japan’s Beethoven: I cut out this Edmonton Journal article on Mar. 8, 2014 “Japan's Beethoven; apologizes for fakery.”

The man once lauded as Japan's Beethoven bowed repeatedly and apologized Friday at his first media appearance since it was revealed last month his famed musical compositions were ghostwritten and he wasn't completely deaf.

Mamoru Samuragochi appeared clean-shaven and minus his trademark sunglasses and long hair, in what could be seen as a sign of remorse. "I will speak the truth," he told reporters. "I will make this my last appearance on TV."

He acknowledged he had worked with collaborator Takashi Niigaki in secret for 18 years. Niigaki recently told a tabloid magazine he was the ghostwriter behind the works, including the Hiroshima symphony. Samuragochi, 50, said his hearing has been recovering from about three years ago, but denied he was posturing as deaf. Olympic figure-skater Daisuke Takahashi used a Samuragochi tune at the Sochi games.

My opinion: The truth will come out.  It’s like the New Republic writer Stephen Glass who made up most of his stories and they were all printed as fact.  You can check out the movie based on it called Shattered Glass.

Ice hotel: I was reading in the Edmonton Journal “Ice hotel needs fire alarm.”  I looked it up on the internet and didn’t find the exact article.  However, there is one article on a Swedish website:

“The Ice Hotel, which is rebuilt every year in northern Sweden out of enormous chunks of ice from the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Kiruna, will this year come equipped with fire alarms - and the irony isn't lost on the staff.”

My opinion: In the Journal article, it says to stay at the hotel, it has to be -8 C.  I thought to not go to that hotel because I can get that weather in Edmonton.  If it’s too hot here, you can imagine yourself in an ice hotel room.

Aug. 12 Showers on buses: I found this on Yahoo news video, but it was taken down.  I did find the article where there are showers on buses in San Francisco for homeless people to use.  That’s an innovative idea.

Benches as shelters: I found this on Yahoo news.  It’s where homeless people sleep on a bench.  This kind of bench where you can pull out a board and there is a roof over the bench so you can sleep when it rains.

My opinion: This is some really good news to help homeless people.

MH17 plane crash: I was on Yahoo news “A haunting premonition: 'What will happen if the airplane crashes?' asks boy boarding MH17.  Here are some excerpts of the article:

In a bedroom in a townhouse near Amsterdam, Miguel Panduwinata reached out for his mother. "Mama, may I hug you?"

Samira Calehr wrapped her arms around her 11-year-old son, who'd been oddly agitated for days, peppering her with questions about death, about his soul, about God. The next morning, she would drop Miguel and his big brother Shaka at the airport so they could catch Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the first leg of their journey to Bali to visit their grandmother.

At the check-in counter, Calehr fussed over her boys' luggage. Shaka, meanwhile, realized he'd forgotten to pack socks. Calehr promised to buy him some and send them along with Mika.

Finally, they were outside customs. The boys hugged Calehr goodbye and walked toward passport control.
Suddenly, Miguel whirled around and ran back, throwing his arms around his mother.
"Mama, I'm going to miss you," he said. "What will happen if the airplane crashes?"

What was this all about? she wondered.

"Don't say that," she said, squeezing him. "Everything will be OK."

She grapples now with the what-ifs, the astronomical odds, the realization that the world she knew has grown alien in a blink. She thinks about how her baby boy seemed to sense that his time on earth was running short. She imagines the futures that will never be: Shaka's dream of becoming a textile engineer, gone. Miguel's dream of becoming a go-kart race driver, gone.

How could he have known? How could she have known?
"I should have listened to him," she says softly. "I should have listened to him."

Yahoo comments:

1 users liked this comment 42 users disliked this comment

Jim Kaiser: Anxiety accompanies the majority of people who fly. When their is no crash, its not a "premonition" its just jitters and fear of crashing. When a plane goes down, that Anxiety is treated like a PREMONITION but really its just the same anxiety experienced by those who didn't crash.  We try to give great significance to an otherwise meaningless circumstances (not that loss of life means nothing, but people die everyday). Its not fortelling the future which is being romanticized here. Its about how we face our own mortality to events which stir our basic but strongest emotions.

5 users liked this comment 0 users disliked this comment

Anne: It is exactly a premonition or an intuitive knowledge from the other side.  Many are aware of an ending before their time.  Many people are told or communicated with to get their affairs in order or they are forewarned of something to come and I have seen it time and time again.  They know when they are going but some ignore or perhaps think that it was a dream or a thought.  We all have our own individual life clocks designed by our creator.  We do know there is a beginning or an end but we never know for sure how long we will have.

Those on the plane that landed in the river were not meant to go.  I think her boy knew his time was near.  Children have special roles in heaven and Jesus goes to them.  When Air France went down one woman missed her flight but the next week was killed in a car accident.  It is just harder to accept when you lose so many at one time. When my cousin died in my arms as a child, I was met with the communication but did not understand. 

Mine was not words but an apparition of Jesus two nights in a row.  The first night I was terrified with the vision appearance but the second night I found it soothing.  She collapsed on me around noon the next day.  She was just 13 years old and died of aneurism.  I know it was real as I had a psychic talk to me about my experience 30 years late 9Total stranger) saying they were aware but I had never told anyone.

The story is heartbreaking, he must have bad feelings. The mother did what we all do since 911, we all think and know it could happen because it already has but we hope for the best. I fly all the time with my daughter and we think about it but we can't live in fear. Life is about taking chances. I love to travel and will continue despite the risks. I feel for this child's parents especially the mother.  She taught her son to not live in fear, she was a good mother.

My opinion: That was a sad article.  I do agree with Jim’s opinion.  Lots of people get nervous before they get on a plane and the plane doesn’t crash.  Anne’s comment was spiritual and soothing to read.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Metro classes/ art/ Connect with Technology

Aug. 6 Metro classes: Let’s look at the Metro Adult Continuing Education Programs.  I’m looking at the Winter 2014 brochure.


Drawing: The Artist’s Foundation
Introduction to Coloured Pencils
Portraits in Pencil
Making Mukluks
Oil Painting: Beginner to Intermediate.  

My opinion: Jewelry Making like A Sophisticated Start to Stringing.  I’m not really interested in painting.  The Jewelry Making seems interesting because I have thought about making jewelry and selling it.  However, I’m not that interested in it to go and create it and start selling at farmer’s markets.

Business and Management: There are good classes like:

Supervision and Management Training:

Dealing with Difficult People
Interview Skills: Hire the Right Person
Managing Successful Projects

Business Communications:

Assertiveness: Business Language That Works
Effective Written Communication

Financial Management and Accounting:

Bookkeeping Level 1
Simply Accounting

My opinion: I should take this.

Presentation and Facilitation Skills:

Becoming a Leading Facilitator

Real Estate:

Investing in Real Estate

Small Business:

From Business Dream to Business Reality
How to Write a Business Plan

Custom and Corporate Training:

This is to companies where they create workshops specifically to the company that teaches the above classes.

Careers and Personal Finance:

Improving Your Career Options:

Career Transitions
Hidden Keys to Career Success


The Basics of Investing
Stock Trading

Managing Your Money:

Preparing for Retirement

Computer Training and Technology:

Absolute Beginners:

Computer Essentials Basics: Scared Stiff

Microsoft Applications:

Access Level 1
Excel Level 1
Office Level 1

My opinion: I should take this.

Connect with Technology:

Amazing Apps

Interest for Pinterest

Exploring Social Media Series:

Making Twitter Work for You

Web Design:

Build Your Own Website



Beautiful Breads: Cinnamon Buns & More


30- Minute Meals

Nutritious & Delicious Series:

Raw, Vegan & Fabulous


Authentic Mexican Cuisine
East Indian Cuisine 101

My opinion: I took a Student –for-a- day at NAIT’s Baking program last year.  After the morning I thought it wasn’t really for me.  As in I don’t see cooking as a career. 


For Partners:

You need to register with a partner for these classes:

Dance 101
Jive Workshop 

For the Love of Dance:

You don’t need to register with a partner for these classes:

Cuban Dance Party
Latin Dance Moves

Friday, August 29, 2014

Escaping Unemployment/ Overcome excuses/ Mindfulness at work

Aug. 15 Escaping Unemployment: Ginny Grimsley sent me this article.  Richard B. Alman, principal and chief career/employment strategist of Recruiter Media, owner of, the world's largest owner/operator of career websites.

•  One word: volunteer. “This is, by far, the best advice I can offer if you feel like you’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked,” he says. Volunteering can pay very high dividends for anyone who is unemployed, under-employed or simply looking for a new career trajectory. It helps current and future employees of any age.
“You may not see the payoff right away, but volunteering has many long-term benefits,” he says.

•  Volunteer in positions that will build your resume´. “When you volunteer, you can update your skills and resume´, which shows potential employers that you’re not lazy,” Alman says.  “Ask for jobs that use the career skills you have. For instance, if you have a background or degree in marketing, look for opportunities to volunteer in marketing for a non-profit.”

For those with stretches of long-term unemployment on their resume´, volunteering is the best way to show future employers that you value staying active and building new skills. And, if you’re a low-wage worker at a fast-food restaurant, for example, you can have a whole new headspace in which to consider your future.

•  Work on developing leads. “You can be just like everyone else who’s desperate for a decent job or you can be proactive and build professional relationships, which do more than resume´s to earn interviews and employment,” he says.

The non-profit sector attracts people who are passionate about a cause, a wide range of associated professionals and, frequently, people who are in high income brackets.

•  Where can folks go to volunteer? A half-hour of research online can yield viable options for legit non-profit organizations. Other great sources are hospitals, which tend to work closely with non-profit organizations. Hospitals also involve a wide variety of professionals.

 “Once again, if you work well and develop great working relationships with others, you open yourself up to a whole network of possibilities,” he says. “Who you know can make the difference.”

My opinion: These are good tips.

Overcome excuses: Ginny Grimsley sent me this article.

"Great people throughout history often fail, quite miserably, before finally reaching their goals," says international business strategist Dan Waldschmidt. 

“Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime; Winston Churchill lost every public election until becoming prime minister at age 62; Henry Ford went bankrupt five times; Albert Einstein was a terrible student and was expelled from school; Sigmund Freud was booed from a stage,” says Waldschmidt, author of “Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success,” (

“Ideas, brilliance, genius – they all mean nothing without the guts, passion and tenacity necessary to make your dream a reality. But often, people fall back on excuses and give up on trying to reach their goals.”

Most of us have dreams, and many of us have big ones, but few of us actually see them through, he says.

He offers six tricks for jumping off the excuse train and forge the path to your goals.

•  Avoid the need to blame others for anything. Mean, small-minded people know that they suck. That’s why they are so cranky and eager to point out others’ mistakes. They hope that by causing others to feel inadequate, everyone will forget about how woefully off the mark their own performance is. Don’t blame anyone, for any reason, ever. It’s a bad habit.

•  Stop working on things that just don’t matter. Not everything needs to be done in place of sleep. If you work for a boss, then you owe them solid time. You can’t cut that out. You can, however, cut out television time, meetings and anything else that gets in the way of achieving your goals. Replace entertainment with activity toward your goal.

•  Refuse to let yourself wallow in self-doubt. You’re alive to succeed. Stop comparing your current problems to your last 18 failures. They are not the same. You are not the same. Here’s something to remember: Your entire life has been a training ground for you to capture your destiny right now. Why would you doubt that? Stop whining. Go conquer.

•  Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?” And then do it next time. If you spend a decade or two earnestly trying to be better, that’s exactly what will happen. The next best thing to doing something amazing is not doing something stupid. So learn from your mistakes and use the lessons to dominate.

•  Proactively take time to do things that fuel your passion. Exercise is a great example. Living in the moment requires you to live at peak performance. A huge part of mental fitness is physical fitness. A sparring or running partner is a great way to refresh physical competition. Physical activity accelerates mental motivation.

•  Apologize to yourself and those around you for having a bad attitude. Do this once or twice and you’ll snap out of your funk pretty fast. When you start genuinely apologizing for being a bad influence on those around you, you learn to stop whining and start winning.

My opinion: This is an inspirational article to motivate me.

Aug. 17 Mindfulness at work: Ginny Grimsley sent me this article.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for a business’s bottom line.
How can people practice it in a workplace where multitasking is the norm, and concerns for future profits can add to workplace stress?”

•  Focus on a single task for an allotted amount of time. You might say, “For 15 minutes, I’m going to read through my emails, and then for one hour, I’m going to make my phone calls,” Dr. Romie says.

If your job comes with constant interruptions that demand your attention, take several deep breaths and then prioritize them. Resist the urge to answer the phone every time it rings -- unless it’s your boss. If someone asks you to drop what you’re doing to help with a problem, it’s OK to tell them, “I’ll be finished with what I’m doing in 10 minutes, then I’m all yours.”

•  When you get “stuck” in a task, change your physical environment to stimulate your senses. Sometimes we bounce from one task to another because we just don’t have the words to begin writing that strategic plan, or we’re staring at a problem and have no ideas for solutions.

“That’s the time to get up, take a walk outside and look at the flowers and the birds – change what you’re seeing,” Dr. Romie says. “Or turn on some relaxing music that makes you feel happy.”

Offering your senses pleasant and different stimulation rewires your brain for relaxation, and reduces the effects of stress hormones, which helps to unfreeze your creativity center.

•  Delegate! We often have little control over the external stresses in our life, particularly on the job. How can you not multitask when five people want five different things from you at the same time?

“Have compassion for yourself, and reach out for help,” Dr. Romie says. “If you can assign a task to somebody else who’s capable of handling it, do so. If you need to ask a colleague to help you out, ask!”

This will not only allow you to focus on the tasks that most need your attention, it will reduce your stress.
“And who knows? The colleague you’re asking for help may want to feel appreciated and part of your team!”

My opinion: This is a good article because we should not only be mindful at work, but in life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Food for thought / Alimenter la réflexion (Food Banks Canada)

Hi Tracy,
I hope you enjoy reading about your gifts in action, 
and connecting with stories that you make possible 
with your generous support. 
What you will find in our latest issue of Food for Thought :
  • This Summer: Recognizing Canadian Farmers
  • The Hunger Run 
  • #BabysFirstSelfie
and so much more! Check out this latest issue here

The life of a defender of Indigenous peoples’ rights is at risk

Demand protection and humanitarian assistance for Iraqi Families struggling to survive

 Juan Pablo Gutiérrez needs your help immediately!

I received the distressing news this week that our photographer in Colombia, our friend Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, has received a death threat.

Juan Pablo's beautiful photographs of Indigenous men and women in Colombia – has toured cities across Canada and inspired tens of thousands of Canadians to speak up in defense of threaten Indigenous peoples.

You can imagine how distressing it has been for us to hear that his life is at risk.

Please, help us alert the authorities to ensure they act immediately to protect Juan Pablo

I know that your help can make a difference. Earlier this year when another Indigenous leader Flaminio Onogama Gutierrez was targeted, the Canadian government worked hard to ensure that protection was arranged. 

Your message will be sent to the Director of the National Protection Unit in Colombia, and Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird, who is in a position of influence because of the special relationship that exists between Canada and Colombia through the free trade agreement.

We are taking this threat very seriously: it was delivered via envelope by the notorious Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles), a feared paramilitary group. The message warned that Juan Pablo was now a target and would be killed for his work with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), a coalition with whom Amnesty International Canada works closely. He has received numerous threatening phone calls since.

Juan Pablo Gutiérrez is a big-hearted, creative, hard-working advocate for the rights
of threatened Indigenous peoples, a long-time partner with Amnesty Canada, and a dear friend to my colleague, campaigner for Central and South America, Kathy Price.

Will you please a send a message right away? 

Please don’t let him come to harm.

Thank you. Thank you so much, in advance, for responding.



Alex Neve
Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada