Nelson Mandela and His Life Sentence

It was on June 12, 1964 that Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa. According to nelsonmandela.org, “Nelson Mandela and seven of his comrades were jailed for life for what became known as the Rivonia Trial”. If you are wondering what the Rivonia Trial is, according to sahistory.org.za, “leading opponents of apartheid went on trial for their lives on charges of sabotage”. It was during this trial that Mandela made a speech, which included these famous words found on nelsonmandela.org, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought again white domination, and I have fought again black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
Mandela did end up serving a number of years in prison, almost 30 to be exact, being released in 1990. Four years after his release from prison, he was elected the first black president of South Africa. He served until 1999 when he retired from politics, and was then called on to help mediate a peace agreement in Burundi, in central Africa. Mandela continued to be a positive role model until he passed away in 2013. According to CNN.com Barack Obama said the following words after Mandela’s death, “We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us—he belongs to the ages”.

Declaration of Independence Drafted

On June 11, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was drafted. According to History.com, “the Continental Congress selects Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence”. The website continues with describing how Adams urged Jefferson to write it, and then Adam and Franklin revised it, before presenting it to Congress on June 28th for review. The document was officially adopted on July 4, 1776, but it was not actually signed until August 2nd, by some, and several others on a later date.

Fathers & Mothers in the 21st Century

The following thoughts are provoked by a recent article, “Rent A Womb: Surrogacy and the Right of the Child” written by Mary Ann Mason & Tom Ekman (full article click here)Mason is a national expert in children’s rights, child custody issues and family law policy.  Ekman is a writer, teaches environmental science, together they have recently published a new book, “Babies of Technology”.

The article illustrates what is currently happening all over the world in regards to surrogacy.  It also raises the issue of the lack of laws for “the best interest of the child”.  In 1993, the law in California stated that “the woman who gives birth” is the mother.  Most states have been either silent on the issues or have forbade surrogacy.  In the first real challenge of this law in the California Supreme Court, the court chose to ignore the significance of pregnancy or genetics and borrowed from intellectual property law.  But there are more to babies than to a song or invention.

As you read this article, a host of questions, studies and examples are presented; Epigenetics, maternal logistics and more.  Imagine a child with essentially 3 mothers: an egg donor mother, a surrogate mother who carried the child and gave birth, and the contract mother.  And in the case of male same sex couples using surrogacy, the maternal question becomes even more divided. The biggest reoccurring question remains, what is “in the best interest of the child”?

Happy Birthday Donald Duck

Today is Donald Duck’s Birthday! It was on June 9, 1934 that Donald Duck first appeared on the big screen co-starting in Silly Symphony, “The Wise Little Hen”. Donald has appeared in a number of cartoons since then, including many spin-off cartoons, for a full list of his television accomplishments click here. He is still on the tube today, starring alongside Mickey and pals.
Even though it is Donald’s birthday, it got me thinking of another famous cartoon duck, this one goes by the name of Daffy. I prefer Daffy over Donald, but there are many similarities between the two. They both have tempers, but Daffy seems to get into a little more trouble than Donald. If you have ever watched “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” then you have seen one of the few instances of them sharing the screen together. Click here for a little preview. Whichever duck you prefer, both seem to bring the right amount of comic relief, and trouble with them, and it is enjoyable to watch! And I of course do want to wish Donald a very happy birthday!

American Graffiti Weekend

Are you familiar with American Graffiti? It is both a tradition in the town of Modesto, Ca, and a well-known movie directed by none other than George Lucas. Mr. Lucas actually came from Modesto, which is why he did the movie, showcasing old cars, and the famous disc-jockey Wolfman Jack! Today, there is still a car show, consisting of older cars parading around the downtown Modesto area, on the first night, and then an actual show the couple of days after. This year is the 19th Annual American Graffiti Festival and it takes place June 9th, 10th & 11th. People come in from all over to check the old cars out, and showcase theirs, it’s a good positive weekend, full of family and friends. If you do not have any plans this weekend, and you are in the area, come on out, and enjoy yourself, the weather should be amazing for it this year!

Time For a Little Fishing

The first full week of June is usually fishing week for places all over the United States. And because of this, many places offer free fishing! Here is a list of the dates that fishing is free all over the U.S. Now here in California, we do things a little different, free fishing is offered on two different dates, the first is July 1, and the other is September 2. Which is kind of cool, so that you can plan for catching different types of fish, as you can choose to fish on different rivers and lakes. Here is more information on just what California has to offer. Grab your family and friends, and head to a local body of water for a little fishing fun! Enjoy yourself out there!

If you have never been fishing click here for some instructions, remember to have fun with it!

Planting Your Summer Garden

Have you planted your summer garden yet? If not, there is still time to get it planted and make the most out of your own fruits and vegetables. Summer is such a fun time for fruit and vegetables, from strawberries, and melons, to zucchini, corn and beans. Some crops you plant now will yield a harvest in the fall or winter, while others are ready more rapidly. I have found a couple of different websites to help figure out what you can grow, and when you should plant. Here is one site called Urban Farmer another from the University of California, and last, the National Gardening Association allows you to look things up by zip code, to get very specific! Whatever you use, just remember to have fun with it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, and the theme to this year is, “Connecting People to Nature”. Yes, too often we are cooped up in our homes, or offices, not really getting outdoors to enjoy all that surrounds us. Living in the Central Valley, I do understand wanting to be indoors come the summer, as we often have those hundred degree days, but lately we have just had beautiful weather. If you are not wanting to check out a new trail, or go to the river, what about a walk in the park, or maybe an outdoor sport? The world really is a beautiful place and we do not do enough to enjoy the splendor of it.

So, what exactly is World Environment Day you might be wondering. According to the website of the same name it is, “the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every June 5”. The site goes on to say that this year’s host country is Canada, and that a different country is picked every year. I like this, another day to show our appreciation to the earth. I hope these traditions continue and grow, as we only have one planet earth!

Angelina Jolie, Not Just A Hollywood Actress

Angelina Jolie is not just another beautiful face in Hollywood, though she is beautiful. She is also a humanitarian, not only because she has adopted children from all over the world, but also for the in country work she has done, and the foundation she has established. The Jolie-Pit Foundation has donated millions of dollars to causes around the world, including Haiti and Ethiopia. The foundation has also donated funds to Doctors Without Borders, an organization providing aid to roughly 60 countries. Besides charitable contributions, Jolie, “has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced persons in more than 20 countries, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, Ecuador, Kosovo, Kenya, Namibia, Sri Lanka, North Caucasus, Jordan, Egypt, New Delhi, Costa Rica, Chad, Syria, and Iraq, to name a few, and most recently visited earthquake victims in Haiti on her latest trip to help survivors of conflict and natural disaster”. According to this article by Marie Claire, Jolie become interested in humanitarian work after visiting Thailand where she was filming a movie, and then shortly after was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, this was in 2002.

Angelina is definitely someone we can look to for her amazing humanitarian, and philanthropic work, regardless of her personal life, we should honor her for that.

Go Out and Enjoy Nature

When is the last time you went out on a good hike? The weather around California has been perfect for hitting the trails! Whether you drive out to Knights Ferry, or head to the Bay Area and check out Mission Peak, or the trails around San Francisco, or ever just stay local and head to Ripon, there is plenty to do! Get out there, be active with your friends and family, but remember to take lots of water with you, and even snacks if the hike will be long. Enjoy yourself out there!