Voyager's journey raises hopes for our planet
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." When Charles Dickens wrote that sentence at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, he might have been writing about the world in 2013.
With wars that never end, children abused by their caretakers, nations that can't get along and endless killing by too many methods, it was an absolute thrill to read the article that appeared in the Sept. 13 Herald-Leader: "Voyager 1 has left the solar system, NASA says."
For someone without a scientific bone in her body, that announcement was the most uplifting news of the day.
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Just think: Almost four decades ago, long before many of the technological advancements that we use and enjoy today were available, a probe left Earth and has traveled much beyond what any of us could have dreamed in the 1970s — into interstellar space.
Those scientists who had the knowledge, determination and inspiration to send such an undreamed-of device into space and to have the probe still sending back information 36 years later make my heart beat faster.
My hopes rise that perhaps in another four decades we can solve many of the other problems that vex us here on our tiny Earth. At least we know that it can be done.
Even though the world may look like "the worst of times," I firmly believe that we are on the brink of "the best of times,"
Marjorie Fey Farris
Amid the headlines about the government shutdown, you may not have heard that October has been Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While all domestic violence is unacceptable, it is far more likely to be lethal when a gun is involved.
Nine women are shot to death every single week by their husbands or intimate partners. Men use guns to kill their intimate partners more than all other methods combined.
Where are the headlines about that? Where is the outrage that our current laws allow a domestic abuser to easily (and often legally) access a firearm?
Our elected officials could enact laws that would help keep guns out of dangerous hands, starting with expanded background checks. Both the Manchin-Toomey bill in the Senate and the King-Thompson bill in the House would close loopholes and require background checks on most private gun sales.
Why does Congress lack the will to pass this common-sense reform supported by 90 percent of Americans? As a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, I have joined with over 100,000 mothers across the country to fight for laws to keep guns away from dangerous people, including domestic abusers.
Contact your members of Congress. Do it on behalf of the nine women we lose their lives every week to domestic gun violence.
Sneak move on ACA
To those who continue to try to legitimize the Affordable Care Act by stating that Congress passed it, the president signed it and the Supreme Court upheld it: Not exactly.
Typically both the Senate and House have to pass a bill before sending it to the president. In this case, the Senate passed the bill and sent it to the House. To get past the House, changes had to be made to the bill. Once the changes were made, the Senate should have had to pass the changed bill. Never happened.
The Senate, led by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, used a process called reconciliation to get the new bill passed by the Senate without the 60-vote supermajority usually required for legislation that affects the budget.
By circumventing the standard process, the Democrats underhandedly got the ACA past the leaders you and I elected.
So the legislature didn't truly pass ACA. Therefore, there was nothing for the president to sign or for the Supreme Court to uphold. This is the true reason those who followed the progress see it as unconstitutional.
Make a difference
It's amazing that the country worked at all during the federal shutdown, but it did. The behemoth that is our federal government lumbers along, good or bad.
It seems as if one party is as bad as the other. Partisanship overwhelms all. Congress members seem to forget they are to represent their constituents and do the best for our country, not their political party, multinational corporations, foreign governments or the rest of the world.
What will it take to insist Congress stop borrowing to pay for unnecessary and unnecessarily costly projects?
You can make a difference even if you have time for only one hour a week; calls and e-mails and visits to your congressional representatives can make a difference.
Do you know about the Transpacific Partnership or the economic disaster wrought upon our country by other "free" trade agreements? Why have every one of these agreements been developed in secrecy if they are so wonderful?
Good information is available at several excellent websites: Economy in Crisis.org, movetoamend.org, numbersusa.com, organicconsumersassociation.org.
Squeeze in a few hours to read some great books: The Case Against Immigration by Roy Beck (no relation to Glen); The 17 Solutions by Ralph Nader; Get Up, Stand Up by Bruce Levine; Save Your Country, Save Your Job by Ross Perot (he was right); Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, long but worth it.
Please become informed and become an activist even if only on the phone and through e-mails. A few hours really can make a huge difference.
McConnell a RINO
The recent government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act is having major ramifications in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race.
Sen. Mitch McConnell's numbers have been slowly drifting downward and many pundits expected McConnell's approval numbers to decline more sharply now that he is facing a true primary challenger for the first time in his 30 years in the Senate.
However, we had no idea just how quickly the McConnell campaign would implode.
McConnell is suddenly stuck between serving his big-money masters, who aren't giving him a pass on this Obamacare last stand, and the Tea Party and conservative voters of Kentucky who are paying close attention and aren't being fooled when McConnell voted for the health care law in the only vote that counted.
Before, he voted against Obamacare in the meaningless procedural vote that he'll crow about in his campaign ads.
We're not buying it, and now McConnell is getting spooked and making mistakes. He referred to the majority of Kentucky Republican voters who wanted him to stand with Sen. Rand Paul to oppose Obamacare as "traitors" to the party, according to Glenn Beck. That desperate anger won't arrest his political fall.
Meanwhile, his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, has been on several radio shows a day, and the hosts seem to be trying to outdo each other in undisguised dislike McConnell.
There has been some poaching here and there, but this marks the official opening of RINO hunting season in Kentucky. (RINO stands for Republican In Name Only.)