Is World War III being set in motion?

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The last two World Wars started in Europe. After World War II, political structures were put in place to reduce the danger of another.  Are we seeing the increasing pace of events that could lead to WWIII?  I wonder.

India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and are perpetually on the brink of war.  Korea and Iran are trying their damnedest to get nukes. China, Russia, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States all have the bomb.  There may be others.  The CIA might know who, but we don’t.

The events that led to the “Great War”, later renamed to World War I because we had to start numbering them, didn’t start in 1914. The catalyzing event, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,  was merely the spark on a growing powder keg of social and political upheaval that was decades in development. The political decisions made at the end of this war set up the conditions for the next, which took less than 25 years to erupt, and led to the rise of the Nazi party and Adolph Hitler in Germany.

That spasm of war took another four years to end, with millions more dying.  Europe was again devastated.  Out of that war came such institutions as the UN, NATO, and later the European Union.  Now, the latter has seen one of it’s major members vote to leave.  The United Kingdom will leave the Union within two years.  Stock markets around the world saw their shares plummet in value on that news, with trillions of dollars of wealth being wiped out. Money people know what has happened in the past is a good indicator of what will happen in the future, and they don’t like what they see.

By itself, the UK leaving would probably not lead to war.  But other forces working in the world today might lead to that very outcome.

Europe is dealing with a refugee crisis like it hasn’t seen in more than half a century.  The middle east is always in the midst of chaos, with the further destabilization that occurred after the United States barged into Iraq adding to the mess.  Governments are having trouble maintaining order in some places, and in others they don’t even pretend to try. Religious fanatics (or those using religion for political goals) are using the mechanics of war to gain and hold entire regions.  Weapons manufacturers are getting rich(er) arming all sides.

All of this, on it’s own, would probably have been manageable, even with the UK leaving the EU.  Climate Change could be the wild card that leads to WWIII.

Billions of people live in areas destined to be severely impacted by global warming.  From rising sea levels swamping coastal regions of Asia and India, where billions live, to the increased severity of cyclones, hurricanes, and storm surges, there is potential for severe disruption, both socially and politically.  Hundreds of millions of people could be displaced, food production disrupted, and fresh water in short supply.  This could cause mass migrations of desperate people, and the resulting undermining of governments.

Local wars could break out, and with the intertwined agreements tying countries to each other’s defense, we could see the battles spread like they did in the “War to End All Wars”. The one we had to start the numbering after because it didn’t stop anything.

If the United States were to elect Donald Trump as President, I think the risks of war would be advanced severely.  His bluster, incompetence, and lack of any reasonable intelligence about world affairs would be a crisis that could hurtle the world into the next, perhaps final, catastrophe.  I’m 99% sure we won’t put him in the White House.  I think he is a bullet we will easily dodge, especially after he starts going toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton.  That may not be enough, however, to insure we don’t add a “III” to the list.  We may only delay what could be the inevitable.

I don’t think this will happen soon,  probably not even in my lifetime. I’m concerned for the children of my nieces and nephews, and their children, however.  The second half of the 21st Century will be the cauldron, and climate change could be the fire that brings it to a devastating boil.

I’m almost glad I (probably) won’t be around to see it.

 

LGBT center to serve Tulare & Kings Counties

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Did you see the article in Saturday’s edition of the Visalia Times Delta? If not, go here and check it out. We’ll wait.

Isn’t that just the greatest news? Here’s their webpage, and here’s their Facebook page. Here’s their fundraising page. Go toss them a few bucks. Or more. We’ll wait again.

Back?  Thanks!  The response to this endeavor from the LGBT and allied community has been astounding. From nearly meeting the initial fundraising goal in just a few weeks, to the outpouring of “likes” on Facebook and the buzz on social media, theSOURCE promises to be a resounding success.

Visalia has long had LGBT groups holding activities.  From an over 20 year ongoing monthly potluck dinner group, gay bowling leagues, softball teams (go Skittles!), the Lavender Ball,  Pride in the Park, Family Fest, the second LGBT Pride Lions group in the USA, the Tuesday Evening Dining Group, gay-straight alliances at local high schools, and COS Pride just to mention a few, Visalia has bucked the trend of most other places in the Central Valley.

There have also been dark times.  Suicides of LGBT youth and adults has been an un- or under-reported fact of life here.  Many young gay people leave the area as soon as they can, some never to return.  In 2001 a gay student at Golden West High School sued the Visalia Unified School District over anti-gay harassment he suffered there.  George Loomis won his case, resulting in new policies and training for Visalia Unified.

The times, as they say, are a’ changin’.

theSOURCE will provide a clearinghouse for resources, information, counseling, medical and mental health services, social activities, and more, all geared to supporting the LGBT and allied community.  Access to medically accurate information for the treatment of STDs, as well as HIV/AIDs, and referrals to practitioners familiar and friendly towards the gay community will be provided.  Information on welcoming and affirming religious organizations will be available.

A new page in Visalia’s LGBT history is about to be turned.  From the heart of Visalia’s downtown (208 W. Main, Suite B in the Montgomery Plaza), theSOURCE will serve the entire community, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, race, religion, physical or mental handicap, age, income level, or any other classification you care to come up with.

At theSOURCE, you don’t have to be out to come in.  You don’t have to be gay, either.

At theSOURCE, you’re welcome.

History is about to be made in Visalia

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We’ve never had this before. It’s coming in May, and it promises to be a vital new addition to Visalia and Tulare/Kings Counties. Keep an eye out for this weekend’s Visalia Times Delta, and their coverage of something many of us thought would never happen here.

It is happening, it’s long overdue, and it’s going to be the source for a lot of change!

Stay tuned.

Local Stories: PFLAG to host speakers for National Coming Out Day. I’ll be one.

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October 11 is/was National Coming Out Day.  2015 marks the 27th annual observance, commemorating the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, held in 1987.  On this day, those still in the closet, whether they are LGBTQ or allies, are urged to step out and tell their stories.  In recognition of NCOD, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties will host two Visalia residents as they discuss their “coming out”.

Since the first NCOD was celebrated in 1988, there has been a sea-change in the way society in general, and the law specifically, views the LGBTQ community.  From the riots in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that sparked the modern LGBTQ movement, to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that made marriage equality the law of the land, few would have thought such progress possible.

In 1977, Harvey Milk of San Francisco won election to the City Council as California’s first openly gay person to run for office.  During his campaign, and his short time in office (he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in their offices on November 27, 1978), Milk often urged closeted members of the gay community to “come out”.  He maintained it was the only way for the LGBTQ community to truly advance.  As more people came out over the years, Harvey’s words have proven prophetic.  Harvey Milk is recognized in California with a “Special Day of Significance”, each May 22nd.

Each October, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties recognizes Coming Out Day with programs related to the subject.  This year, two Visalia residents will speak, telling their “coming out” stories.  Gail McCarthy, author of a five book murder mystery series, the Alexandria Whitney mysteries, and Jim Reeves (that’s me!), 9-1-1 dispatcher, blogger, and LGBTQ activist, will be discussing the coming out process and how it’s impacted our lives.  We’ll talk about the societies we lived in as we approached our own “coming out”, the atmosphere that colored our perceptions, and how being “out” has affected our lives since.

The public is, as always, invited to attend PFLAG meetings.  Admission is always free, and refreshments are served.  This month’s will be Sunday, October 18, from 3 pm till 5 pm.  We meet at the Congregation B’nai David, in their Educational and Cultural Center, 1039 S. Chinowth, Visalia.  (Just follow the rainbow flags)

Is it *really* OK? Or just when it’s your religion?

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“Freedom of religion” doesn’t mean freedom from every religion but yours.

Attack of the goat people

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Image: Aaron Sims

In the big scheme of things, pygmy goats wouldn’t seem like a subject that would elicit a lot of controversy.  They’re undoubtedly cute little animals, and videos of them are abundant on the Internet.  The secret about pygmy goats, however, is that there are people who go full metal jacket against “city folk” (me, for one) that are against them being raised in backyards.  Goats, no matter how “miniature” they might be, are livestock.  They belong on farms. Backyards are not the places to raise them, no matter the reason you want them.

I dared speak my mind about the subject, and immediately became the subject of a crusade by the “goat people”.

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Surprise, surprise!

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So I’m sitting there at the Visalia Pride Lions 5th anniversary luncheon last Saturday, when a friend of mine gets up to make a presentation.  It immediately got surreal when the very first words out of his mouth were “Jim Reeves”. Needless to say, he caught my attention, and I’m wondering “just what is going on?”  It turns out that the entire board and a bunch of the members of the local LGBT Lions group managed to keep me in the dark, and without a clue, that they were planing to honor me with 2015 “Heart of a Lion” award.

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Sandy Waymack and Slade Childers present the award.

Here’s what Slade had to say:

Introduction

Quite a surprise, and completely unexpected! I was and am honored to be chosen for this recognition, and I thank the Visalia Pride Lions profusely.

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