Award-winning Journalist Penny Fletcher, Author, Editor & Blogger

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Positive Perspectives in a Perplexing World

As a 40-year journalist and author, I've gone from interviewing people in multi-million-dollar homes to homeless camps and know our country's divide has grown to proportions not seen since the Civil War. But as a spiritual person who has studied many religions and taught Bible classes, I've learned the human family has numerous paths to God. Neither tribalism nor nationalism will work here because we're a nation of immigrants and that means we're meant to be diverse. We're all in this together and we have to look out for our neighbors to heal the divide before it becomes a class war like it has in so many other great civilizations. Division is deliberately created by the greedy using hot-button words to turn middle class and poorer families; races and religions; and those with differences in culture and behavior; against each other, while they line their pockets behind closed doors. Rome, Greece, the Bolshevick Revolution in Russia; France's turning on Marie Antoinette, all show what eventually happens when the public has had enough. Let's quash unfairness and hatred now.

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Would a Cross-Party Ticket in 2020 Re-Unify America, & Who Would Consider It?

Posted on November 26, 2018 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

   oHow much does the average American know about the Bilderberg Club, which is also sometimes referred to as a Conference or Group. It’s an annual private conference of about 100 to 150 political leaders, experts from industry, finance, academia, and invited heads of media groups.

    Do they know that in 1991, Bill Clinton, at that time the Governor of Arkansas but still a relatively unknown name on a world scale, was invited to attend the Bilderberg meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany? Just one year later, Clinton became President of the United States. Or that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, likewise came to power in the UK one year after attending the 1993 Bilderberg meeting?

    This group knows how to make things happen. So first, let’s examine who they are.

    The Bilderberg was formed in May 1954 and the first meeting was held in the Netherlands. I have a whole chapter on its founding in a book (but the publisher has gone out of business) but for the sake of the length of this editorial, it’s sufficient to know these meetings have been held behind closed doors and went mainly unreported since their beginnings. At first, it was a “Western European thing,” formed to address the growing anti-Americanism that was taking place in Western Europe at the time. Founders later suggested including the United States to promote a better understanding between the cultures in the US and Western Europe. Records later reported by the Society bill the U.S. invitation as “an intention to foster co-operation on political, economic, and defense issues,” and “to be initiated for good and noble purposes.”

    So, let’s look back at another agenda item and the influence of this group (besides whatever happened with Clinton and Blair). The 1955 Bilderberg meeting in West Germany focused on the create of the European Union and a single European currency, both of which occurred in the early 1990s after years of gradual implementation.

    Until the 1980s, no media was permitted anywhere near the meeting, and its attendees were held in strict confidence. But then, certain high-level media began to be invited. At this point it would be a good thing to look at the list of media ownerships and mergers at http://www.globalissues.org/article/159media-conglomerates-mergers-cooncentration-of-ownership – if that site is still operating when this comes out. It tells how 110 companies dwindled to 10 when the Internet came into play and how more are merging all the time, so that only one voice is heard in large geographical areas. I watched that happen from inside a Tampa, Florida, newsroom when the FCC regulations were relaxed to allow it.

    So now let’s fast-forward to 2017, when the main item on the (now published) agenda held right here in the US, was the Presidency of Donald Trump, who sent some administrative aides but did not attend. Humm… Then, in June of this year (2018) the meeting was held in Turin, Italy, and has published its agenda on line. I often wonder how many people “follow the money” when it comes to billionaires like these who make the agenda for the rest of the world?    

    So, who are these billionaires who put wheels in motion? Names are held in strict confidence; and great measures are taken so that their faces are not exposed as they go in. But representatives of Rockefellers, Carnegies and Fords are among them. About two-thirds of the permanent group comes from Europe and the rest come from North America; about a third from the political or governmental arena, and others from other fields. Each year, someone may be asked to come for a specific reason (like Clinton and Blair obviously were) even though he or she is not a regular member of the group.

    That brings us to the headline considering a cross-party ticket in the Presidential Election of 2020. You see, one enterprising photographer caught Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, entering the 2018 meeting. This was a first-time attendance for him, as Clinton and Blair’s had been. Since that meeting, Hickenlooper has been attending events and meetings with the Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, which led me to dig into what the agenda of the 2018 Bilderberg meeting was about. Thanks to the Internet, Bilderberg attendees have been publishing their agendas, so as not to look “too suspiciously back-room,” as those who belong to the regular group are the wealthiest people in the world; own the banks and just about everything else.

    Now remember, the 2017 agenda centered around the Trump Presidency as you read the 2018 agenda which is reported in the Bilderberg’s order of importance:

1. Populism in Europe

2. The inequality challenge

3. The future of work

4. Artificial intelligence

5. The US before midterms

6. Free trade

7. US world leadership

8. Russia

9. Quantum computing

10. Saudi Arabia and Iran

11. The "post-truth" world

12. Current events

    Since “Populism” was Number 8 last year, this shows that the “will of the common people” is becoming quite a concern for the elite, especially now that Number 2 is the “inequality challenge.” The attendance of the Colorado Governor and the published agenda of this year’s meeting show that a “United America” must be very important to the Western European countries. Now take a look at Numbers 5 and 7, and remember, the people at this meeting have the ability to “make things happen,” even though most citizens have no idea what this group is even about.

© penny fletcher 2018


History Helps Us Understand Today's Headlines

Posted on November 13, 2018 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

 

  A hundred people witness an accident and give a hundred different accounts. Ask any investigator, law enforcement officer, insurance adjuster, or judge. And that’s just for starters. Most of us encounter situations all the time where two or more people witness an event, and everybody views it differently.

    Just how much does viewpoint formed by tradition or culture influence the way we see the world, or any of the major events around us?

    Was Benedict Arnold a hero or a traitor? What about Chief Sitting Bull and General George A. Custer? Who’s the hero and who’s the “villain” there? Was Jefferson Davis a rebel rouser and Abraham Lincoln a saint or was it the other way around. Do we know? Do we really know?

    I’ll bet the average American would differ with the average Native American and Brit over that question, even today!

    Only by looking back at history can we truly understand current events. Yet sometimes even the history books conflict as knowledge of several viewpoints unfolds. Just fifty years ago, all pioneers taking over land in the American West were still portrayed as heroes for moving natives off their land, so it could be farmed. A hundred and fifty years ago plantation owners were regarded highly for owning large numbers of slaves.

    Thomas Jefferson, the main framer of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States owned more than two hundred slaves. Yet his famous quote, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty,” proves that freedom and liberty are exactly what each person happens to think it is and not everyone will agree.

    So how do we sort through history and find answers to problems we face as a divided nation today? You can start by checking all sources of news. We can’t simply rule out a reporter or network as being “liberal” or “conservative” based on what they are reporting. I’ve received many awards for hard news and editorials. I know the difference and this Blog is, made up of facts. I have put forth my opinions in only things that would unite us a people, and not divide; like the “Blog Facts First, Fight Later.” Who in this nation isn’t tired of all the negative campaign ads? If anyone can cite that as biased, I think people on both sides of the aisle would fault them, not the ideas put forth in the Blog.

    The Blog about how we handled immigrants when they were pouring into Ellis Island is historical fact and is offered as a choice for how to handle immigrants humanely now. Sending carpenters and steelworkers to build a decent longer-term facility so the refugees approaching our southern border can be processed as humanely as possible while they are being vetted is something, I doubt either “side” to the question would say was biased. What is another choice? Violence? I don’t think the majority of the American public (Red or Blues) wants that.

    So, when I refer to things in history that we have learned from in the past, or should be learning from now, those ideas or suggestions don’t come from bias. They come from fact. People see bias because they come from a different place than someone else. Go back to the Sitting Bull and George Custer question. Knowing what we do today about the millions of Native Americans who were displaced and/or slaughtered to obtain this land, and how we fought our British government, should give us two good lessons in what happens when a nation is as divided as we are today. This Blog is about uniting people and treating each person as an individual.

    If you are a person of faith, check out the story of the Good Samaritan and compare it to what is going on here today. Remember, the person who was aided was of a group that was usually ignored (and greatly disliked) even by the Chief Priests in the land where he needed help. Yet the story of the actions of one man has stayed with us as having done the right thing for all these years.

    So, I ask you today, is there any way we can use this example when considering how to view things our neighbor feels differently about? The only way I can see is looking for one inch of common ground and then trying to find other ground to add to it until an agreement comes about and “that common ground” is large enough that we can stand together on it.


Look to the Past to Help Determine the Future

Posted on November 4, 2018 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Maybe it was because I was adopted from an orphanage and didn’t know anything about myself other than the date and place of my birth, that I became interested in projects like allowing adoptees to open their sealed records, genealogy, and DNA testing. During years of off and on search, I found some interesting things about both my birth and adoptive families that eventually led me to respect people of all races and religions. That knowledge is why I see a different kind of America than many I know.

    My first contact with my birth family was when I learned about my Grandmother Kathleen Mary O’Reilly coming from Ireland with her son Paul. He was my birth father; a Merchant Marine who later fought in both World War II and Vietnam. I learned that she and her family came during the time most of the Irish men got off the ship at Ellis Island, and (unless they’d paid for a first-class ticket) came out of the bottoms of the boats and were handed two papers, one granting citizenship and the other immediate induction into the U.S. Army.

    My adoptive father’s family escaped from Russia in 1917 during the Bolshevick Revolution when the streets ran with the blood of the Czars who had oppressed the people. Some of their family’s last name was Rabinovitzky and some Rabinowitz. This was probably due to the persecution of Jews; I figured the “zky” was added somewhere in Poland to blend in, but then, that’s just a guess. My adoptive father, who was born in 1908, graduated college at 17, shortened his last name to the first five letters and spent his life as a small-town, one-room-office lawyer who worked weekends and took calls from people he probably knew could never pay him, long after he left the public defender’s office.

    Later in life I found a stepbrother, who sent me a diary about my birth mother, Pauline, whose Native American name was Running Water. She and her husband Greywolf, an Apache Chief and Medicine Man were active in Indian rights and traveled around the country helping the tribes with the bureaucracy, and once, even met with President Jimmy Carter over broken treaties.

    The fourth and last piece of parenthood I learned about was my adoptive mother, whose family dated back to the Colonies. Her grandfather was American Revolutionary hero Peter Wyckoff, captured in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. He was held as a prisoner in the British Prisoner of War camp located in Quebec, Canada. This record can be found in the book entitled "Rebel Prisoners at Quebec 1778-1783 by Chris McHenry," in 1981 copied from original sources in Canada and England.

    Long after finding these facts, I had my DNA processed and found some really interesting things, adding Middle Eastern, Iberian, Italian and both North and sub-Saharan African to the mix. With this background, there was simply no way I could ever have had a prejudice or not felt a tug for the poor and disenfranchised.

    Do you know where your roots come from? If you’re an American, I’ll bet you’re a “mutt” too.

    We can’t look at the group making its way toward our southern borders as a “caravan of potential terrorists.” If you look far enough back (in my case one generation as I was born in 1945) you came that same way; unless of course, you’re 100-percent of Black African descent, most of whom didn’t have any choice in coming here.

    We are a land of immigrants. We just need to learn how to process people, like they did back then. From 1794 to 1890, the States regulated who entered as immigrants, after they’d landed in Castle Garden, in The Battery in New York. That was used as the immigration hold for “vetting” from 1855 to 1890 and served 8 million immigrants that I’m pretty sure the Native Americans – who were left after our many massacres over land- didn’t want here.

    In 1892, the federal government had to get involved with immigration and Ellis Island was built, opening its doors to the teeming masses coming off the ships, and for the next 62 years, processed 12 million refugees.

    I’ll bet the Native Americans didn’t like that either.

    Money was always the key, even back that far. Those who had paid for first class tickets came in without problems, but those who traveled n steerage- unsanitary conditions in the hold of the ship- (anybody not seen the movie Titanic?) were sent to Ellis Island to be processed, and the old processing center in the Battery in New York was used for paperwork and people were sent there in groups so they could be properly handled.

    Although Ellis Island is often referred to as the “Island of Tears,” there is evidence, and old stories passed through families I have met in my long career as a journalist that people were treated rather well there, especially after their terrible trip to get here. Oh, it was crowded, and food was often scarce, but they wanted to be American citizens badly enough to do whatever they had to do to be given a second chance at life.

    The World Wars slowed immigration and in 1954, Ellis Island was closed. Then In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson made the island a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Its base was added later, after money was raised in a project led by poet Emma Lazarus who wrote a sonnet in 1883 titled “The New Colossus,” specifically to get the words engraved on the statue’s base.

    It reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    America wasn’t “ready” for the millions who came through Ellis Island, but they built facilities to handle the people properly. They did not send out troops to frighten them away. And if they had, where would they have gone? Could they have jumped back into the sea and drowned?

    I ask where will the Central and South American families go now, the mothers and their babies and the young men who only want honest work in the crop fields, and shelter and a simple warm meal. Where would you like them to go, back to countries where gang members have leveled their homes and consistently beat their men and rape their mothers, wives, and children?

    Why not have the troops that are being sent to the southern border begin construction? Call in the carpenters and steelworkers and general labor and create a structure where this new group of frightened homeless can be housed until vetted and released in proportion to states that have space for them?

    We killed thousands of Native Americans to take this land, the least we can do is share it with    those who need asylum like we’ve always done before. Surely we are not so far removed from our roots to be hardened to that.


Facts First: Fight Later

Posted on October 23, 2018 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (2)

      I was 15 when John F. Kennedy was elected President and too young to vote, but I remember his speeches and how politics were handled on our huge box of a television with a 19-inch screen in the middle. Back then, opponents spent more time talking about the country and what they could do for it, than how bad their opponent was.

    That was when competitive products couldn’t even say they were better than a competitor by name: they had to say, “Brand X.” There wasn’t any “Alka Seltzer is better than Pepto Bismol,” it had to be, “Alka Seltzer is better than “Brand X,” or, “Better than all the other leading brands.”

    Politics was probably as dirty then as it is now, but the general population didn’t see it. Oh, we got glimpses of ‘scandals’ like Marilyn Monroe’s famous sexy, “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” tribute in honor of Kennedy’s 45,th but that was about as “dirty” as things got in front of the general public back then. She leaned over him in a low-cut dress in front of the cameras and used a “Makin’ Woopie” tone and that was that.

    You see, there was something called “civility” in politics back then. Because 18-year olds couldn’t vote in election until the early 1970s, after a lot of students protested that they could be sent to Vietnam at 18 but not vote until 21, I cast my first vote in the election of 1971 at the age of 26. As badly as he is remembered, it was Richard Nixon who formally certified the 26th Amendment that lowered the voting age, saying he agreed that if citizens could be drafted into military service (and potentially die), they should be allowed to vote. That came a little too late for the thousands killed and disabled in Vietnam, but at least it finally got done.

    Back then, newscasters made as big a deal out of the Watergate tapes as they do the Trump tax returns today. But top national news people like Walter Cronkite, John Cameron Swayze and Connie Chung stated the facts, so when the screen went blank, viewers were left to figure out how they felt about what had been said; they weren’t spoon-fed ideas or told what they should or shouldn’t believe.

    Last night I watched television for about an hour before going to bed to read. During that time, I saw four political ads. Being a journalist who has covered plenty of local elections and often deciphered ballot initiatives from meaningless legalese (where checking “yes” often means “no”;) into something anyone reading at an eighth-grade-level could understand, I like to see how the ads are worded and what images go with them.

    Last night, one ad had an empty suit floating through the air explaining that the owner (who is currently in a Senate position) was invisible; there have also been ads showing his senate seat and saying, “it’s empty even when he’s in it.”

    Then I saw an ad where police tape was thrown across a candidate’s face and stamped boldly with blood-red type: CORRUPT, even though sheriff’s associations from many counties are supporting him.

    The problem is that ads are paid statements, and as such, we can’t rely on them to be truthful. So as with lots of other things, the one with the most money in his or her bank account usually gets the most space.

    So, I suggest a Constitutional Amendment that says campaign ads should be limited to the candidate’s background, education, platform (which is what he stands for and wants to accomplish while in office), and any personal achievements. But so as not to promote any type of censorship, I am also suggesting that the second part of the amendment say “the candidates can say whatever they choose about their opponent in a debate, where each gets equal time to sling all the mud he or she wants to sling.” Why not make that like a combination Jerry Springer show and prize fight, so the public can sit in front of their televisions and get the facts first, and then root for their choice when it comes time for the fight?

    Now I know doing it this way would be impossible unless all 50 states put a Fair Campaign Ad Initiative on its ballot, which would take hundreds of thousands of both volunteers and signatures.

    But Article V of the US Constitution allows for the House and Senate to call a Constitutional Congress where they could potentially put such an idea forth and vote for it. It’s too late for the 2018 mid-terms, but we can make our representatives aware we won’t vote for them again unless they do such a thing before the next General Election rolls around.

    How hard would it be for each and every citizen tired of mud-slinging ads with no truth to them to write an email, send a letter, make a call and literally bombard representatives who seem to have forgotten this is a Republic where they are supposed to be working for their constituency; not a Democracy, where we handle things ourselves.


There's Still Time to Save Our Language Skills if We Start Now

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

     I didn’t know I was raising a granddaughter from Generation Z until the other day when I happened upon the term in a television broadcast. I thought the younger generation was still called X. That’s how far behind I am. As it turns out, when I looked a little farther into it, Gen Z came after X, starting in 1995 and lasted until 2013, when “Generation Alpha” began; the one we’re in now. I guess that means we’ve run the entire alphabet and are starting over again.

   The only reason I mention this is because somewhere during the period between the typewriter and the text, we’ve lost our language. I know my granddaughter, who is now 20, was in the last class to learn cursive writing in Florida’s elementary schools and I’ve been told it’s that way in other places too. Now they teach “keyboarding” which makes sense, being that we all communicate by computers, tablets and phones, but I wonder who (when Gen Z is gone) will be able to read our Constitution and Declaration of Independence and all those other important documents our Founders created in script?

   Does that matter? I think it does. Not being able to read or duplicate documents as important as these (and many others scripted by hand) can create enormous problems for the country, and world, later.

   Today, when our “kids” are texting, it’s just an inconvenience to those of us who have to figure out that PIR means “parent in room” or “BRB” means be right back. I have to admit, even as an author and editor who loves words, when texting, I use “Lv U 2” and “TTYL” (talk to you later) myself. It saves time, and everybody seems to know what they mean.

   The problem with this is the students brought up on “keyboarding” may never use (or even understand) proper written language. Maybe won’t even want to. So, what happens to all the classics that have been with us for hundreds of years? War & Peace; Crime & Punishment; The Odyssey; the great poets and the works of Shakespeare? Can these be translated somehow into three-letter abbreviations or emojis?

   Abbreviations have been with us a long time: Take “Xmas” for example. The problem is, while they were designed to save time (or writing space) they’ve started to replace the meaning behind what someone is trying to convey. As a long-time writer and editor, I find “meaning” very important. Is there a difference between Xmas and Christmas? Of course, there is. Whether you are a Christian or not, if you speak the English language, you need to know the word “Christmas” is an “abbreviation” of Christ’s Mass, originating from the Old English word “Cristemaesse” meaning the church service dedicated to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth; called by Christians, Jesus the Christ.

   No one doubts that Christmas — and many other annual celebrations — are holidays, but how many are still taught that originally in English, the word “holiday” came from abbreviating the words “Holy Day?”

   I’m wondering how much of our “meaning” we’re losing as we replace real words with abbreviations and symbols.

   Speaking of symbols, I’ve watched as my granddaughter and her peers send some texts completely in emoticons. Somewhere in Japan, early in the 1990s, these cartoon-like figures (spelled differently there of course) were invented to accent words on computers. Emojis arrived in the U.S. shortly after that and are now found on practically all forms of texting devices. I look at the little smiley or angry faces; thumbs up and down symbols, broken hearts and other things that immediately send mind pictures to the receiver and think of cave-dwelling art. It looks like we’re going back to the days where our ancestors scratched pictographs of buffalo and bison on cave walls with a rock.

   As these forms of “abbreviation” become more and more prevalent, I wonder if the grace and power of “real words” and decades of documents, books and other important manuscripts will go the way of the drawings scratched by firelight on the walls of ancient caves?

© penny fletcher 2018

 

Typewriter Technology on a News Year's Day

Posted on October 9, 2018 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

  Wow, completely redoing my entire website from blank pages has been quite a job. I've been at it for about two weeks now, working around editing and everything else. I had no idea how to even make a video, and see now that you can't change the size of the video frame on my website so I have a big black space behind me. Still, I'm going to publish the site and keep working on it. I left the Blog video up because I like the things I said on it, completely from the heart, no notes, and think that's more important than the fact I couldn't fit it correctly into the frame. Next time I do a video though, I'll figure out how to do it directly on screen from the new YouTube channel I just set up for the some of the video Blogs; something else I just taught myself through much trial and error. (More error than trial!)

   You have to remember even though I've been doing my own site for the last eight or nine years, I only designed it once, with some tech help, and from then on I kept the same theme and just changed content. This site is completely new, emphasizing different things than before, even though I'm still an author and editor, now I want to Blog. I'm not too worried about figuring out this Blogging stuff. I want to do it because I've written editorials and commentaries at newspapers for so many years that it seems like the thing I should do next. Especially now that so much is going on in the world. (And the fact I have two new books coming out in 2019 is a good reason as well.) 

   If I ever figure out Web Store, I promised my editing clients I'd link their books on a rotating basis. Well, I set up the store, had a couple of books linked to "Buy Here," and then realized the payments would come to my site so I threw that idea out the window for now and killed the page. Later, after I get the hang of the new site and channel I'll figure it out.

   It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I saw my first computer; that was in the mid-1980s while I was a Bureau Editor for Sunbelt Newspapers. I remember going straight from a typewriter to something called an Apple 2 GS that had a DOS operating system where you had to migrate through a "shell"  that was an immense black cave that was easy to get lost in. But getting into it was the only way to find anything. Back then each time we changed the size or style of our print, we had to enter a series of codes, and they were always long strings of numbers. Photos were even worse. 

   Then there was the day after the New Year's holiday I went into my office to find my supervisor had promoted my two reporters (Joe Rice and Bob Smith) to editors and I had one newbie straight out of college and a brand new "drop-down-menu-type" computer I had no idea how to operate. But somehow, we made deadline. We always did, even though once the disks melted in the car- yes, we used floppy disks into the '90s- and had to rewrite what we could remember and grab things from other papers in our chain, right in the pressroom. That was back in the day when you cut and pasted stories from paper onto a heavy cardboard-like sheet with glue after cutting them to the right size with an exacto knife. I still have one of those in my "Special Box" in the envelope Janine Peliksa sent me with a note that said, "keep this, someday soon it'll be a real antique." 

    I guess today's Blog is kind of like New Year's Eve for me. Starting something new always brings memories of what's gone before. So welcome to "Perspectives." I hope to see comments and ideas as things progress.

    Meanwhile, I'll see if I know how to get this Blog on line because I can't go any farther, like checking the links or doing the SEO until it's live.     

    



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