Putin – Sick or Evil?

Written by Dr Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter . This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on June 27, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

Is Putin sick or just evil?

 Rumors abound that Putin has blood cancer or Parkinson’s disease, that he is soon to have a cancer operation. As a trained mental health and addiction counselor, I’ve been wondering if Putin is hooked on something – steroids or oxycontin for pain to treat his condition- whatever it is- causing him to want to ravage Ukraine.   But he is a health nut who abstains from alcohol.

Perhaps power has corrupted Putin, already consumed by his quest for greatness. Underlying fear grips him about being poisoned, when in actuality he poisons anyone who threatens his power. Maybe Putin acts the way he does because of a deprived childhood, his playground a rat infested soviet constructed building in St. Petersburg. When one day a rat cornered him, Putin destroyed the rat. He destroys anyone who challenges him politically, threatens his power, or humiliates him. Like Hitler, Putin manipulates and calculates while basking in splendor and orchestrating the killing of Russians and Ukrainians. That’s evil.

Will brave Russians take care of Putin, like Bonhoeffer tried to do with Hitler?   Probably not. When I was a missionary in Russia during Communism’s collapse, the Russian people were shamed and humiliated.  They wanted either Communism back or the glamorous days of the Czar to return. Putin met all their expectations when elected in 1999 and he still gets reelected. He claims to follow in the footsteps of Peter the Great with Stalin’s ruthlessness. 

Putin must go. Pray for that to happen.

©️2022 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Alcohol Abuse by Russian Soldiers

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published on April 14, 2022 in LacasterOnline/LNP. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

In 1988, at a medical conference in Izhevsk, Russia, where I had been invited to speak about addiction and addiction recovery, I met Valerie Viner, a strategic Russian officer in charge of nuclear weapon launches.  He was caught drinking on the job, was dismissed and found recovery.  Forty-one percent of 66,000 military personnel during that time period were dismissed because of drinking while on duty.

 Apparently , years later, the Russian army no-drinking message hasn’t  reached  Lt. Col. Omurbakov, now known as the “Butcher of Bucha.” He commanded Russian soldiers to siege Kyiv and to kill anyone who resisted.  His soldiers looted liquor stores and were drunk when killing innocent civilians. Gruesome photographic evidence and surviving civilians tell stories of 450 bodies, some tied up and shot; some half burned; naked bodies of women showing signs of being raped before being shot.  When Russians retreated, they left empty liquor bottles scattered on the streets and in fields. Their commander allowed it to happen even after he had been blessed by a Russian Orthodox priest!

Drunken Russian soldiers killing and raping in Ukraine. Do their mothers or wives know? Over a 15-year period I met with Russian wives and mothers in living rooms and gazebos sharing with them a new pathway for their own recovery in support groups.  Even though there are now over 400 such family-member support groups in Russia and many more AA groups, more are needed as well as treatment centers to curb the rampant alcohol and drug addiction.”

©️2022 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

The Department of Justice Must Investigate Trump

Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published on February 16, 2022 in LancasterOnline. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

A strong case is emerging that former President Trump made a concerted effort to reverse the election results. His effort included promoting false electors, pursuing seizure of voting machines, and pressuring election officials to alter the vote count.  Trump’s effort seems to have also included the criminal action of impeding Congress from counting the electoral votes by inciting an insurrection. Despite this, it is unclear whether the Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation.  

It is imperative that a robust investigation be conducted, not only to hold Trump accountable but to show that our nation will enforce the rule of law that is a cornerstone of Democracy.  Trump’s Big Lie about voting fraud and the attempt to overturn the election is a threat to free and fair elections without which we will descend into fascism.  This is not liberal hyperbole. Even former Vice President Pence recognized the threat to Democracy. In a recent speech he stated that Trump’s claim that the Vice President had the power to overturn the election by throwing out votes in key states is wrong. He added, “If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections — we’ll lose our country.”

The House of Representatives committee that is investigating the January 6th insurrection and its antecedents is doing an excellent job in garnering strong evidence.  However, their power is limited to recommending actions.  The Department of Justice, which has the power to prosecute, must pick up the ball and pick up the pace. 

©️2022 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Reflections on CRT and MLK

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 17, 2022 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP and PennLive for consideration as an OpEd. 

The Russian History Museum in Moscow was empty except for one lone wheelbarrow when I visited it in 1991.  I asked our Russian guide, “Zhachem  (why in English)?” She replied, “Because everything taught about our Russian history was fake.”  

The same may happen in America as the vocal opponents of Critical Race Theory bombard school boards and convince their state legislators to pass laws such as this one in Texas (HB 3979): “Schools may not teach that ‘slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States,’ nor ‘an understanding of the 1619 Project.’” 1 The 1619 Project is a collection of essays and profiles that discusses the history and legacy of slavery in America, beginning the year the African slaves were brought to and sold in Jamestown. 2

The hysteria over Critical Race Theory (CRT) threatens democracy and will lead to teaching fake American history, or censorship of books and curriculum materials, similar to what has happened in Russia.   The Heritage Foundation3 defines CRT as “Racism that is ‘systemic’ and ‘structural’ derived from Marxism and embedded in America’s Institutions,” 4 such as our schools. Some parts of this are true. Others are not and stoke fear among parents. 

First, CRT was not derived from Marxism, the core of Communism, a movement of the proletariat that turned into corrupt authoritarianism by its leaders. Second, CRT is an academic concept taught in graduate schools and a framework for describing systemic racism in American culture, our laws, and our institutions. CRT is not part of any secondary school curriculum. Third, the Heritage Foundation asserts that CRT claims persons of white privilege must renounce their privileged position. 5

I am a person of white privilege. In the 1860s my great grandfather pastored a church in Marietta, Georgia before, during, and after the Civil War. He may have owned slaves as his church denomination did not condemn slavery and he had a large family needing to be cared for. Schools for whites only and blacks only existed in southern states up until Brown vs Board of Education in 1954. The Civil Rights Law was not passed until 1964. Jim Crow laws and segregation existed until then. 

Repressive state voting rights legislation continue systemic racism even today. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech in Montgomery Alabama a year after the Civil Rights legislation was passed7 that, even though the law gave black Americans part of their rightful dignity, without the vote their dignity was without strength. He also praised the white Americans who, because they valued Democracy over maintaining their white privileges, had walked and stood beside black Americans to help pass that legislation.      

As one of those persons of white privilege, going all the way back to America’s colonial days, I cannot renounce the color of my skin. I do not feel threatened or afraid, nor do I feel guilty about how my ancestors treated those with different colored skin. However, now that I am keenly aware of my ancestors’ role in accepting the racism of their time in American history, I have chosen to use my white privilege to stand beside my fellow black Americans. Today, I can honor Martin Luther King, J.r by helping black Americans pass federal voting rights legislation. As an educator I also want students to know the true history of America— the good, the bad and the ugly.  American students need to learn the truth about our sordid racial legacy. Only then can we expunge the stench of our systemic racism.  

1Critical Race Theory and the Public Schools in a power point presentation by Jason Giersch, PhD. of UNC, Charlotte, NC. slide 50.

2Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story.

 3Heritage.org

4The Heritage Foundation, Critical Race Theory. 2021_CRT_ebook.pdf

5 Ibid.

 6See historical fiction story told in my book, Costly Freedom by Terry Webb.

7In a speech delivered on 25 March 1965 on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery at the end of the march from Selma to the State capital.

©️2022 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

CLIMATE CRISIS: WHAT IS COP26 AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Written by Jim Sandoe. This piece was first published on November 11, 2021 in an email from Lancaster Stands Up. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

You have probably been hearing about it on the news and online, but what exactly is COP26 in Glasgow? It is the 26th yearly Conference of Parties for members of the United Nations to work on the urgent problem of climate change. At the 2015 Paris conference, a set of guidelines were adopted by all members. Since that time, nations have been meeting to work out the details of how to implement the Paris Agreement which created a limit of 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 F) in global warming while stating a preference to keep the rise to 1.5C (2.7F).  This year’s meeting has very specific goals

  1. Secure Global Net Zero Emissions (no emissions produced that are not offset by green projects) and keep 1.5C degrees within reach.  This will require all countries to start with what they agreed to in Paris and go even further. 
  2. Adapt to Protect Communities and Natural Habitats
  3. Mobilize Finance. This is the most difficult hurdle. Under the Paris Agreement, higher income  countries committed to spending $100 billion to finance climate adaptation and emissions reduction. Most higher income  countries have not yet met their pledge.

Enhance Collaboration by Defining and Agreeing to detailed rules of the Paris Agreement and accelerating action against climate change— Here we run into how much of a monetary penalty countries that don’t meet their goals will incur and the mechanism for enforcement.As the devastating effects of climate change increase year after year,  this year’s conference has an extra sense of   urgency.  At our current rate of emissions, we will hit the 1.5-degree target by the early 2030’s.  To solve climate change we must also solve global poverty—they are inextricably linked. Climate change amplifies the already existing divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  We can already see this happening in real time. For poor people living in low-income countries agriculture, water, heat, and drought are already happening at an alarming pace. By 2050, more than 1 billion people will be forced from their homes and forced to migrate.  Even in higher income  countries, coastal cities and towns will suffer major financial losses and forced migration. In the U.S., the burden will fall mostly on our Black and Hispanic populations (and mostly women within these populations). Historically, these peoples have created the least pollution among us, and yet they will receive the vast majority of the consequences.

This morning, as the summit approached its end, a draft of an agreement was written. It calls for a doubling of funds to assist poorer nations to deal with climate impacts, and calls on all countries to boost their emissions-cutting targets by next year. But many provisions of the draft face an uphill battle. Nations are nowhere near agreement. There are disputes over the amount of money and the pace of emissions reductions.

Last week the summit world leaders made two new pledges to reduce deforestation and to cut methane emissions by 30% in this decade. But climate activists are skeptical of new pledges when past pledges have not been met. Tens of thousands of protesters descended upon Glasgow this past weekend to voice their impatience.

 The only way to make sure that these world leaders live up to their lofty promises is to keep up the pressure. For the sake of the planet and humanity we must make sure they follow through. It’s not an impossible task, but it’s up to us. Get Involved with our local Citizens Climate Lobby: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/chapters/PA_Lancaster/.

NOTE: COP26 was held on November 7-12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

About Jim Sandoe

Jim Sandoe, a U.S. Army veteran, has been doing climate presentations and climate research since 2013.  He’s  done original research on fracking chemicals and on PFAS, the “forever chemicals” or “Teflon” chemicals and their effect on military bases in the U.S.  Jim has also worked on a team that wrote an amendment that was adopted into the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Since 2011, Jim have taken 45 masters credits in climate and sustainability.

Demand Public Input!

Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on November 4, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

The roughly $106 million that Lancaster County received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is intended to make whole the families and communities devastated by the economic fallout of the pandemic. Essential workers, caretakers, and restaurant workers of Lancaster lost their jobs and now struggle to pay their bills and face the threat of eviction.  Yet, incredibly, our county commissioners have downplayed the need for the money and are sitting on it as Lancaster families suffer.

 Clearly, the commissioners need our help to see where the money can be used.  Let’s start with one of Lancaster County’s major problems—the affordable housing crisis, which pre-existed but was made worse by the pandemic. A household is considered cost-burdened if they pay more than 30% of their income for housing.  Among extremely low-income households in Lancaster County, 82% of households are cost burdened. Here are just a few ways the commissioners could allocate the ARP funds to help the households:

  • Affordable Housing projects face substantial funding shortages due to pandemic-caused rises in construction costs. Funds could go towards filling gaps caused by these rising costs. 
  • Use the funds to address long-standing challenges in financing and repairing existing affordable housing. 
  • Fund an increase in staff for reaching out to hard-to-reach tenants to help them apply for Emergency Rental Assistance.  

Join me in demanding that the commissioners create a public input process. We cannot count on them to act quickly and effectively in meeting the needs of Lancaster families.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

New Writing Meet Up Day!

With the changing of the leaves come a change in our meeting schedule…

Starting this October, we will be meeting once a month on the first Thursday of each month and will alternate between a daytime meeting (10-11:30 AM) and an evening meeting (7-8:30 PM). We will continue to meet over zoom for the time being.

If you would like the zoom link to these writing sessisons, please email us at lancasterspeaksup@gmail.com

Come and join us!!!

Why White People Should Like Critical Race Theory

Written by Irma Ilustre, Manheim Township. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on July 1, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

People are trying to get Critical Race Theory (CRT) banned from being taught in school districts (even though schools can’t teach this since it isn’t a “training” but a way of questioning the role of race and racism in society). People are worried that if CRT is discussed in the classroom, white children will be made to feel guilty.  Some people believe CRT promotes masturbation and homosexuality (even though it’s about race, not sex).  After researching CRT, I have to admit, I don’t understand why white people are against it.

CRT states that racism is a social construct, not the result of individual bias or prejudice, but something embedded in legal systems and policies.  For white people, this should be good news! It basically says that you, as a white individual, are NOT responsible for the racism inherent in the prevalent systems of our country.  Individual people are not at fault unless they currently engage in racist behavior  (eg. part of the KKK, Unite Evropa, QAnon, etc.). 

Now that you know that you, personally, are not responsible for the racism in the USA, what are you going to do about it?  If you fight against CRT – you’re basically saying that you WANT racism to be the responsibility of individuals and not of systems. Is that what you really want? The choice is yours. Just make sure you really know what CRT is before you decide. Otherwise, your behavior will make you responsible for the very ideals you are fighting against. 

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

What Will We Choose?

Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on June 28, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor.

There’s a child tonight being tucked into bed. She is falling asleep surrounded by her books and toys. One day this summer, there will be a knock on her door—the sheriff’s deputy evicting her family. They will leave with only what they can carry.  There is no room for extra things in a car, shelter, or on a family member’s couch.

Most of the child’s toys, books, and clothes will be piled in the street. They won’t have money for storage fees, so the neighbors will pick what they want, and the rest will end up in the landfill.

This story will happen throughout the country this summer. The CDC Eviction Moratorium ends soon, but 10 million Americans are still behind on rent.

Of course, child homelessness is nothing new. More than 1.3 million children were homeless at some point during the 2018-2019 school year. But the pandemic fueled spike in families behind in rent should give us pause.  County Commissioner Josh Parsons might think “this money is arriving after the COVID crisis is over” but the crisis is not over for children who face eviction.

Lancaster County has received over $100 million from the American Rescue Plan. This money can be used to provide rental relief and affordable housing for families in Lancaster County. We can choose for no child to be cast out of their home, or we can turn a blind eye to the crisis before us. What will we choose?

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

%d bloggers like this: