Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Reminder of What is Being Destroyed


If the Democrats had taken back the Senate last year, I'm convinced they could have stopped entirely the insanity of building a bio-diversity killing wall on our southern border. This story reminds us of what is at stake, and it's one of the few clear and stark warnings that people have been ignoring in the Trump era:
The National Butterfly Center, in danger of losing access to most of its wildlife nature preserve along the Rio Grande, is asking a court to stop federal officials from building a border wall across its land. 
The North American Butterfly Association first sued more than a year ago after government officials allegedly cut down trees and cleared brush on its Texas property. The planned wall would cut the 100-acre property in two, with as much as 70 percent of the land inaccessible between the wall and the Rio Grande, Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna Trevino Wright has told NPR. 
Trevino Wright told CNN last week that the case had been "languishing" in the court since then and that she was exploring further legal action. This week, she asked the court to stop the government from bringing heavy machinery onto its land, until the court can rule on its original 2017 request. 
It's the latest court challenge brought by environmental groups that lament the damage caused by construction of barriers between U.S. and Mexico. On Monday, a federal court ruled that the Trump administration has broad authority to waive environmental laws in the name of border security. The Department of Homeland Security has already said it will waive regulations to build along the Rio Grande.
The wall continues, unabated. It's the stupidest goddamn thing we could be doing, and it won't accomplish anything, but welcome to the Trump era. It cannot end soon enough, and, when it does, we will be spending a lot of time, energy, and money to put things right. What a waste.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Distressed Gentlefolk

Inspired by actually looking something up.

The term "Distressed Gentlefolk" appears in this album title by British band The Jazz Butcher. I was sorting out some titles and thoughts one night and this one revealed itself in two ways. First, no one had registered the "dot com" title. Second, it referred to an actual effort in Great Britain to care for the poor.

Elizabeth Finn
Elizabeth Finn's life spanned nearly the same decades as Queen Victoria. When she founded the DGAA, Britain was the richest country on earth. The newly emerging middle classes increased in number and prospered distinguished by devotion to duty, education and success in the services, in business and the professions.
However, the end of the 19th century saw a particularly severe economic recession. Victorian society, like generations before, was used to poverty and want. Charitable societies for abandoned children and for fallen women sprang up alongside movements for women's rights and for enlightened legislation on working conditions and education. No one, however, was prepared for 'distressed gentlefolk'. With no welfare state there was nowhere to turn for those (many from an educated or services background) who had fallen into dire poverty because they were too old or too ill to work.
Elizabeth Finn, at the age of 72, decided that something had to be done for the silent suffering of people in this part of society. Elizabeth founded the Distressed Gentlefolk's Aid Association in 1897 with the help of friends and her daughter Constance, the Association's first and very able secretary.

The roots of her caring ethos started early in Elizabeth's life. She was born in Warsaw in 1825 where her father, the Reverend Alexander McCaul was a missionary. The young Elizabeth grew up with a clear vision of a world in which privilege and responsibility go hand-in-hand. Her parents chose to do what they could about the appalling social conditions they encountered in their missionary work. They taught their children to do the same. Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, helped raise her brothers and sisters, undertook schooling the younger ones and helped her parents in their charitable work.
Taking these two ideas to create a website and blog about poverty has resulted in what you have right now.