Life in America: Travelling by Amtrak is Eye-Opening

Jeffrey Silverman for usareally.com

Once upon a time America had a massive transport system, and manned train stations. Most of those have been sold-off or turned-into shops and museums.

In early August I took a trip from Staunton, Virginia to Maysville, Kentucky and learned what I have missed in the last 15 years, while being outside the US. The first thing, in today’s America, is never to try and buy a ticket on the train or board without having a valid ID. I witnessed one passenger being tossed off at the next station with all his bags, not because he did not have the money for a ticket but allegedly did not have an ID, or one that was good enough.

Life in America: Travelling by Amtrak is Eye-Opening

The local police were called at the next station, in the rural backwoods of Virginia. I can only suspect that the story proffered was not totally true, “He not having a proper ID.”

I asked the ticket clerk on the train why they had not checked his ID before he got on the train, as the incident would have been prevented and the train would not have been delayed while the police questioned him. It soon occurred to me that it was more likely his dress that had got him into trouble, as nobody had checked my ID or that of any of the other passengers.

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St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary: A Meeting of Heaven and Earth

Jesse Dominick for usareally.com 

Photo: pravoslavie.ru

“The Liturgy’s been celebrated here almost daily since 1905… It becomes a real source of power. There’s a kind of forward movement of strong, powerful spiritual energy that’s blessing and benefiting all America. This power and strength that comes from the prayers here is incalculable and inestimable. The value of it is hard to understand, but when we begin to understand it, we begin to tap into the mystery of the spiritual world, which is present among us, but the effects are not always seen immediately.”

Fr. Sergius (Bowyer), abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery

The Liturgy is the Orthodox service in which the holy Eucharist is celebrated, when the Holy Spirit descends upon simple bread and wine, changing them into the holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is through the Orthodox Church, in its celebration of the Divine Liturgy, that the Lord continues to be bodily present with us on earth even unto the end of the world (Mt. 28:20).

As Fr. Sergius, the abbot of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan, PA states, this Divine presence is a blessing to all of America, and really, the entire world, although we do not all have eyes to see it. Orthodox Christian do not hesitate to affirm that it is the grace of the Divine Liturgy that upholds the world.

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The United Sanctions of America

Jafe Arnold for usareally.com 

pixabay.com

Over the past few weeks, Washington has taken upon itself the mission to impose sanctions and other restrictive measures on “anyone who is anybody” in the current international environment. The US has imposed two new packages of sanctions on Russia over the trumped-up “Skripal conspiracy”, thus unleashing what Russia’s prime minister has called a “declaration of economic war.” At the same time, Trump has declared economic war on Turkey, raising tariffs which made the Turkish Lira fall in the ballpark of 20% overnight. Ankara has thus been driven closer to Iran, on whom Trump has re-imposed severe sanctions after unilaterally abandoning the nuclear deal. The latter has instigated a trade war between the US and the European Union, thus threatening to rupture the Atlanticist project that the US has devoted itself to since at least WWII.  All of this comes at the exact same time as Trump has led the charge into economic war with the US’ next biggest trading partner: China. Next door, Washington has flipped the sanction switch on and off to force Pyongyang to grant concessions. Back in the Western Hemisphere, the US has forced new sanctions on Venezuela. Sanctions and war on the Arab front of the Axis of Resistance, Syria, are still being waged, of course.

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“Nobody” Wants to Talk About How Income Inequality and Poverty Impacts — Even Shortens — Life!

Jeffrey Silverman for usareally.com 

flickr.com/Laurent Bovet

One of the things few people notice, or want to make an issue out of, is the relationship between health and wealth. When reading the headlines, one looks for the culprit and not the root cause of the problem. For instance, the Opioids epidemic gets more press than the root cause of the problem — income inequality.

Everything is relative, and while you are living on pretty much the same level as your neighbors you are healthier, and less likely to abuse drugs and be involved in other high-risk activities. If not, you have fewer good choices to make. Income inequality is the leading cause of poor health. It is not access to health insurance and medical care which is paramount but maintaining good health and reducing the possibility of harm.

Therefore in unequal societies, like the United States, you have more sick people than you should. We already know that poor people smoke more, are more subject to violent crimes and are more likely to abuse drugs and die from various unnatural causes, even being murdered. The poorest also pay more regressive taxes, sin taxes, to subsidise the health of those who can afford to be healthy.

It is just as much a matter of where you think you stand in comparison to others. Take a recent study: “the researchers found that people in unequal communities were more likely to die before the age of 75 than people in more equal communities, even if the average incomes were the same.”

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The Old North End in Burlington, Vermont: A Struggle Against Gentrification

Photo: Luis Lázaro Tijerina

Living in New England can be an isolating way of life, as it is dominated by Anglo-Europeans who still have an idealistic view of themselves and their Puritan heritage, although the modern New Englanders would deny it. New Englanders, whether of the past or present, have always seen themselves as exceptional, and it is this hidden or two-faced pride that they attempt to conceal until others who are not from New England show either an indifference towards their cultural arrogance or make a comment about their behavior which not only injuries their pride, but can also make them vindictive towards that person who confronts them with their cultural egotism. As Tocqueville once noted about the American National Character abroad, which I think also applies to them even within their own country: “The American leaves his country with a heart swollen with pride. He arrives in Europe and observes at once that we are not as concerned with the United States and the great people living there as he had supposed. This begins to annoy him”,[i] and it is not so much this annoyed behavior that I will concern myself with in this essay, but instead I will write about the émigrés or immigrants who have settled in New England, and are rarely acknowledged or even understood by the New England patrician class and those subtenant to the various social and cultural institutions of white New England. It is in the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont, that one can see an immigrant history socially subtle, modest and hardworking, which leaves the historian with more questions than answers about their survival through the last two centuries...

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Rape Epidemic in American Universities

Pradeep Banerjee for usareally.com 

Photo: unimelb.edu

Let’s get to the point straight: Rape is an epidemic in American colleges. It is not going to be solved soon because the colleges do not know how to deal with it.

College days should be the best days of your life. Independent for the first time, you’re surrounded by new people, new experiences and new knowledge. For many, it’s a time of exploration, self-discovery and knowledge accumulation. For others, however, the experience isn’t so pleasant. Reports after report have laid bare the brutal scale of sexual violence at American colleges: it seems as if the majority of students are not having such a good time after all. Sexual assault, groping, unwanted touching, harassment, coercion, and rape are all commonplace, it turns out, in American colleges.

Several national and international surveys have found that approximately 1 in 5 women gets sexually assaulted during their college experience. If nearly 10 million women in the United States attended a two- or four-year college in 2017, as estimated, that means about 2 million of them have been sexually assaulted or will be the target of a form of sexual violence as they work toward a degree.

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Washington Farmworker Arrested After Making Death Threats

OLYMPIA – August 15, 2018

A 26-year-old farmworker was reportedly highly intoxicated when he grabbed a large kitchen knife and threatened to kill three other men, local media reports.

Francisco Javier Lopez Cruz was arrested overnight on Sunday after Franklin County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Zirkle Fruit Company apartments east of Pasco.

During a hearing this week, a Superior Court judge found probable cause to hold Lopez Cruz on suspicion of second-degree assault and third-degree malicious mischief. Bail was set at $5,000.

Deputies responded at 11:15 p.m. to 1420 Martindale Road for reports of a man who had been “aggressive” with others earlier in the night, and was running around with a knife.

Author: USA Really 

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Florida Enters State of Emergency as Red Tide Blooms Plague Beaches

flickr.com

FLORIDA – August 15, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency along the Sunshine State's southern Gulf Coast in response to a pernicious red tide bloom that has lasted longer than any other in the past decade.

In Monday’s statement Gov. Rick Scott said: "Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide, so we can combat its terrible impacts. This includes making additional FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) biologists and scientists available to assist in cleanup and animal rescue.” 

The ongoing toxic algae bloom is considered to be the longest red tide outbreak in the Gulf of Mexico in over a decade, and officials say it will most likely last until 2019. Officials say nearly 300 sea turtles have died because of the toxic bloom. Pelicans, manatees and a whale shark have also washed ashore since this unprecedented bloom started.

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Death Penalty for 'Honor Killings'

Melissa Phillip

HOUSTON, TX – August 15, 2018

A Jordanian immigrant was sentenced to death on Tuesday after being convicted in what Texas prosecutors described as the “honor killings” of his daughter's American husband and her friend who was an Iranian women's rights activist.

Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan was found guilty of capital murder last month in the 2012 fatal shootings of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers, and his daughter's friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh. The Harris County jury deliberated for just 35 minutes — after five weeks of testimony — before reaching the verdict in Houston.

Prosecutors alleged that Irsan, a 60-year-old conservative Muslim, became enraged after his daughter married Beavers, a 28-year-old Christian, and converted to Christianity. Investigators said Bagherzadeh had encouraged her friend to marry Beavers.

His wife, Shmou Alrawabdeh, testified at trial that her husband was extremely upset and sincerely believed that this shame can only be washed away with blood. She told jurors her husband also intended to kill their daughter, Beavers' twin brother and Beavers' mother to "clean his honor".

Bagherzadeh was targeted first. Police said Irsan, his wife and their son, Nasim, followed the 30-year-old Bagherzadeh to her parents' home in January 2012, and that Nasim Irsan shot her in her car. Nasim Irsan is awaiting trial on a capital murder charge.

Beavers and Nesreen Irsan were married in in July 2012.

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