Tag Archives: violence

#NewYear–New Challenges

this-moment
January 1, 2017—the birth of a new year. Each year is an opportunity to live up to our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams. Looking back on the past year we can evaluate what did we do right; what did we do wrong; what can we improve upon?
It’s not a time to judge; but a time to contemplate. It’s not a time to regret; but a time to plan.
All of us face many challenges in this coming year—personal, political, business. In order to be effective, we need to focus and to strategize.
For me, I will be attending to the political climate much more closely than in past years. (To find out more: https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan )It’s not to say that I ignored the bones of our country before, but I impacted it more with my work than with my direct involvement. I truly thought my days of protests, marches, and petitions had been passed to the younger generation; and they were doing fairly well with it. I can no longer absent myself from more direct involvement; however that might manifest.
My novels will continue to reflect the issues that women and girls face on a daily basis while entertaining women with great stories of action, adventure, and mystery with a touch of romance. In some ways, my politics intersect with my writing seamlessly as both are based on enlightening, encouraging, and empowering women and girls. I have spent a lifetime in this struggle; and, it’s a good struggle—one of which I am proud.
The schedule for publishing this year is a bit more lax; instead of putting out four books as I have done for the past few years, I will be releasing three books during 2017.
–The first book will be Attack! I have re-titled this book and it is now Attack on Freedom! In many ways, this is a timely novel; a political thriller with a scary premise—a president that intends to become a dictator.
President Anne Marie Xavier faces the most critical challenge of any president since the beginning of the nation. She must stop rampant terrorism while protecting the citizens from a power-hungry adversary who will stop at nothing.
–The second book is the long awaited Ariel Ascending, Book 3, Vampire War trilogy, the final book in this series.
Serena Longer must take the murdered Matriarch Belora’s position as the Matriarch of the North America Region while her daughter, not-quite-13-year-old Ariel, has to ascend to the position of First Councilwoman of the North America Region. Not since the Time of Hunting has such a young huvam held such a difficult position among the vampires.
While Ariel attempts to adjust to her exponentially growing Powers and deal with Serena’s overprotectiveness of her only biological child, Matriarch Helena Outerridge increases her guerilla attacks on Ariel’s People.
As bodies pile up, Ariel becomes increasingly determined to stop the aggressors—ancient vampires with incredible Power and their allies, Weres and witches. In a desperate attempt to crush her foes, Ariel takes four other young women with developing Powers to search for the perpetrators. Unless they find a way to overcome their enemies, they may not survive to return home.
–The third book on my 2017 schedule is Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team series. This is the sixth book in this series—all books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read in any order or as stand-alones
Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team face a series of rapidly escalating crimes that begin with the vandalism of a Muslim women’s center. At the scene of each crime a Manifesto is left. Other than the Manifesto and the obvious signs of hate, the victims of the crimes appear to be randomly chosen.
Was this the work of a hate group or a single perpetrator? As the victim pool ripples larger, Sergeant Slowater and her team desperately race time before more victims are claimed.
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No one can tell the future. Though we may carefully plan our days, we cannot control all of the variables and will often wind up in places we never dreamed of being. As I face this year, I find that both scary and exhilarating.
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During this time of upheaval and change—both good and bad and neither–we are all presented with the opportunity to become more than what we are; to step beyond our own limitations; to be the person we’ve always wanted to become. I’m ready to learn and grow. Are you?
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is the going ahead in the face of fear. Whether you fears are of the personal, political, or business variety, forge ahead. You can’t start a fire, if you don’t light a match.
Best wishes for a year of growth.
Aya

My literary novels focus on personal growth.
Good Intentions: Bev Ransom has a secret. Her mother has one too. No secret can remain in the dark forever. Their lives are about to be shattered by the secrets they harbor.
https://www.amazon.com/Good-Intentions-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00OLZYKPQ

Hard Road Home: The Story of a Young Girl’s Triumph: Cas Redner lost her beloved grandfather. Shortly afterwards, she lost her mother to addiction and bad men. Caught in the broken child welfare system, Cas opts for life on her own. But for young girls, freedom comes with a high price. Ultimately, the only things holding Cas together are the teachings of her Native American grandmother.
https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Road-Home-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00TLCRUFQ

Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom: In order to find herself, Barb Hensen must sacrifice everything in her life, including her child. But, she doesn’t have much choice. If she doesn’t leave, someone will die.
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8

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#Gratitude During Troubled Times

Gratitude reaffirms life and love, in spite of these troubled times. If practice makes perfect, I should rock at finding gratitude for I am not stranger to troubled times. In 1989, I lost my education, my home, my work, and everything I owned that couldn’t fit into a passenger van because of violence due to being a lesbian. How do you find gratitude on a daily basis when something like that occurs? Yet, if you do not feel gratitude today, in this moment, hope cannot survive for it sees nothing of worth to which to cling.

All across the nation, there is mass depression and fear–from children of immigrants crying in the classrooms because they fear their parents will be deported to threats of escalating violence.
My wife and I are not immune to it.

The incoming vice-president declared one of his first priorities was to obtain government funding for so-called “conversion therapy”. Two types of conversion therapy are (a) electroshock treatment which destroys parts of the brain and was decades ago proven useless in both LGBT “conversions” and alcoholism; and (b) aversion therapy in which drugs are used to cause violent illness in the LGBT person every time the “undesirable” stimulus is shown. Aversion therapy links the undesired behavior to an unpleasant stimulus. The “undesirable” stimulus for lesbians would be other women; the “undesirable” stimulus for gays would be another man.

Meanwhile in the light of that statement, a lot of LGBT people, myself among them, can’t help but wonder that once government funding is obtained—with Republicans holding Congress and the White House this is not an ungrounded fear—how long will it be until “conversion therapy” is mandated for all LGBT people?

In spite of the depression, the fear, the hatred, and the violence we must find something worthy in life, something for which to feel grateful or life becomes a weight upon our backs that grinds us to the ground. Gratitude is the foundation of hope. Without hope, despair becomes the vortex that swallows us.

How do we find gratitude during these troubled times?
serenity-prayer

1.The Serenity Prayer. Whether you begin with God or Goddess or Creator makes no difference in the efficacy of this “prayer”. Even if you are atheist, this is a helpful mantra. Simply substitute “I must find the serenity within me to accept….”

2.Three times a day—morning, afternoon, and evening—step outside regardless of the weather. If it is cold, feel the bracing clean power of the cold. If it is warm, revel in the pleasant heat. If it is rainy, turn your face up to the life-giving rain. If it is sunny, let the sun beat upon you. If it is snowing, make snowballs and snow people; lay upon the ground and create a snow “angel”.
All seasons are necessary for life. By appreciating each type of weather, you are grounding yourself in something that you cannot change while letting its power soothe your heart.

3.Set aside time each day to read, watch television—not the news!—or play some silly game. Buy a coloring book and color. Let your mind and body rest.

4.DO NOT watch the news, listen to the news; read newspapers or news articles in the magazines. Give yourself time to adjust and heal before tackling the negativity you will inevitably find in those places.

5.At night, the last thing before you go to sleep, find the good things in your life and list them in your mind. This is a Gratitude List. The last thoughts we have before sleeping often determine how well we rest and what our mood is when we awaken.

If you are having a difficult time finding good things in your life, begin with the basics: I am alive. I can (list the senses you possess—hear, see, smell, taste, touch). My dog loves me.
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I have adequate clothing for this moment. I have a friend(s). My family loves me. I have a job (or if you are unemployed, I have the ability to find a job).
There are many basics and those are determined individually. Find the basics and repeat them night after night until you can begin adding other things to your nightly Gratitude List.

6.Stay away from marijuana and alcohol, even in small doses. They are both depressants. That’s why you get that “mellow feeling”; however, if a person is already feeling “down” or “blah”, alcohol and marijuana increase that negative feeling.

7.Stay away from negative friends and family. Tell them you don’t want to talk about the current situation. If they insist on discussing it, leave.

8.Exercise. Exercise releases natural chemicals in your body that enhance positive feelings.

9.This is NOT the time to begin a diet. Diets often depress people because of their perceptions of their own bodies.

10.Be gentle with yourself and others. We are all in this together.

dreamagain This is nearly impossible without the building block of gratitude upon which to lay your foundation.

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Scarier than #Halloween and Zombies!

Not all horror involves zombies and the undead. When you pick up one of my mysteries you will embark upon a journey that will horrify, terrify, and, ultimately, uplift you.

  1. Sketch of a Murder: When the legal system fails women and children, The Avenger dispenses a unique brand of justice. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop the Avenger before an innocent man dies!
    In the real world, true horror occurs every day with the failure of our legal system to protect children from sexual abuse; and the failure of that same legal system to provide justice to women who have been sexually assaulted. All too frequently what happens is the child is told to stop telling lies and the women are interrogated as if they committed a crime by being assaulted.
    https://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

  2. Street Harvest: A group of dedicated people frantically search for human traffickers targeting street kids in this fast-paced novel.
    In the real world
    of our modern-day United States, a child goes missing every 40 SECONDS! As a transient population, street kids are at the highest risk to go missing and become a victim of human trafficking. And, LGBTQ youth are particularly at-risk since they comprise over 40% of the street kid population.
    Children as young as six-years-old are raped, sodomized, tortured, and sometimes murdered in snuff films for the ‘entertainment’ of perverted men, usually Caucasians. Other children are shipped overseas to brothels for the perverted pleasures of men who fly in from industrialized nations to partake of that which is illegal in their own countries.
    https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC

  3. Backlash: Success can be deadly…if you’re a woman. The clock begins ticking with the abduction of successful attorney, Eleanor Delaney. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must piece together a puzzle that began thirteen years ago.
    In the real world successful women, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, are targeted for harassment that ranges from insinuations to verbal/emotional attacks, and sometimes to physical assaults. As an ordinary woman, I understand some of what such women endur for I, too,–like every woman–live each day never knowing if I will be harassed, sexually assaulted or physically attacked.
    Rape is a reality that overshadows women from birth to death. One in three women will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. No woman is safe whether she is on a college campus, working in an office, riding mass transit, broke down on a lonely road, or sleeping in her own home. There is no greater horror than to live with the knowledge that you never know when you might become a victim.
    https://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA
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  4. Death by Dog: When savaged bodies begin piling up, Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop dog fighters who are turning dogs into deadly weapons.
    In the real world,
    #dog is man’s best friend, but man is often a dog’s worst enemy. Ghandi is credited with saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Here in the United States dog fighting is a thriving so-called ‘sport’. Dogs whose only crime is to be bought, raised, or sold to dog fighters will live a life in cages, beaten, starved, and set upon by larger dogs all in the name of ‘entertaining’ men.
    Like domestic violence and rape, dog fighting crosses all socio-economic strata. At a dog fight you can find a doctor, a lawyer, a judge, an athlete, or the CEO of a large corporation right alongside of all types of criminals, drug dealers, and wanna-be gangstas.
    https://www.amazon.com/Death-Dog-Crime-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B01B5NXY4E
    dbdcover1

NOTE: Set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, ALL books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read as STAND-ALONES. Grab your copy today!

  1. Run or Die: Jaz Wheeler never realized that farming could be hazardous to her health until six men issued the ultimatum: run or die!
    In the real world, there is nothing more horrifying, more frightening than to be attacked because of the color of your skin or because of your sexual orientation, and to know that those who are charged with serving and protecting you may be some of the very ones assaulting you. Not knowing if you will survive to see another sunrise, with nowhere to run, with no place to hide, and with no one to turn to, you face death truly alone.
    Run or Die is a work of fiction based on fact. Sadly, racism and homophobia are alive and deadly here in our country. The current hate-mongering election is feeding the flames of violence that could burn up all of us.
    https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A
    ecoverrord
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Five #Books That Scare Me!

sunrise-hope-for-change
There are some books much more terrifying than the scariest haunted house or even Stephen King’s imagination.

  1. What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel
    https://www.amazon.com/About-Climate-Change-Boston-Review/dp/B009Z3TXRY
    I don’t know of any scarier subject than climate change. In those two words the future of earth and its inhabitants are held hostage.
    In this book, Emanuel begins by saying: “Scientific research has solidified the idea that human-induced climate change presents significant risks to our descendants, and the understanding of key elements of those risks. For example, the acidification of the oceans by increased input of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is now viewed as among the most significant threats posed by our ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels. But even while science has reached a strong consensus that climate is indeed changing, that the change is caused mostly by us, and that it poses important risks, public recognition of and concern about these risks has diminished (emphasis is mine; not Emanuel’s), particularly in the United States.”
    To me—this is truly scary stuff! Image a few decades from now when your grandchildren are raising their children; image that just getting enough drinkable water is a near impossibility; image that crops are so scarce that millions starve to death…. Scary, huh? Stephen King, let’s see you top that!

  2. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    https://www.amazon.com/Am-Malala-Stood-Education-Taliban-ebook/dp/B00CH3DBNQ
    In the first few pages of her book Malala says, “…I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me….” She goes on to say, “I wasn’t scared, but I had started making sure the gate was locked at night and asking God what happens when you die. I told my best friend, Moniba everything.”
    Imagine the constant fear of living in the shadow of such a threat! How hard your heart would pound at every slight noise, every rustle of the underbrush, every strange human that walked toward you.
    Malala, a Pakistani teen, was shot in the head by the Taliban while on a school bus en route to her home simply because she wanted an education. This is flat out horrifying. I can’t imagine the terror she must have lived through, and yet she emerged a strong young woman who campaigns relentlessly for educational opportunities for girls.
    What is truly beyond scary and right into terrifying, however, is that violence toward girls who want to obtain an education is not uncommon in our modern world.

  3. The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac
    https://www.amazon.com/Whistleblower-Trafficking-Military-Contractors-Justice-ebook/dp/B004CYERM2
    I can’t describe the horror within the pages of this book as well as the author’s book description: “When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training provided sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, felt threatened with bodily harm, was fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they had done. This is her story and the story of the women she helped achieve justice for.
    At first read, you don’t want to believe that these words could be true. I want to assure—they are true. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives not only in war torn countries, but in industrialized nations, such as the United States. I know.
    My research when I wrote Street Harvest, (https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC) included discussions with Washington State Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit (MUPU) helped me grasp the widespread cancer of human trafficking. Here in the United States where we supposedly value children, a child goes missing every FORTY SECONDS. Many of these kids wind up on the streets.
    Street kids, transient and untracked, are particularly high risk for becoming victims of forced prostitution, export to overseas brothels, and victims of death porn where are children are filmed as they are murdered while being sexually abused. Children as young as six years old are at risk. My book is fiction based on factual research.
    Kathryn Bolkovac’s book is factual; and, it is a very scary reality. I have never seen a horror flick that made my heart pound as hard or caused fear to dry out my mouth so thoroughly as what the reality of human trafficking does.

  4. The 51% Minority (How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It) by Lis Wiehl
    https://www.amazon.com/51%25-Minority-Women-Still-Equal-ebook/dp/B000SEICC6
    The Introduction of this book begins with a dinner conversation where there was discussion of civil rights, the Supreme Court and other current events. The author writes, “…then a gentleman seated to my right, a successful gay professional, said something that alarmed me. ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to be a woman today,’ he told the table. ‘It’s a no-win situation. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t with every single decision, and your body is a political playground. At least as a gay man, I know where I stand. As a woman, you’re stuck in some weird societal purgatory.’
    ‘Yeah,’ another man agreed. ‘Isn’t it strange that women are fifty-one percent of the population and still get the short end of the stick on almost every front?’”
    In my upcoming thriller, Attack!, I quote research I did on Theodore Roosevelt. In the late 1800s, he wrote his thesis for Harvard on the rights of women. It was his contention that women should have absolute equality in marriage and not even be expected to assume their husbands’ names. In other writings, he maintained that women should have the right to vote, the right to hold property, the right to work at any profession and to receive equal pay for equal work.
    We have won the right to vote and the right not to assume our husbands’ names; however, Latina women continue to earn fifty-six cents to a white man’s dollar for performing the exact same job while black women earn sixty-seven cents and white women earn seventy-four cents and every woman grows up under the certainty one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. We know that we must live a hyper-vigilant life if we are to reduce the odds. We can never let our guard down in public; never relax and get a little tipsy; never daydream our way home from work after dark; and even in our own homes, we must remain aware of the potential to become a victim of domestic violence or home-invading rapists.
    How is that for heart-thundering suspense? For never knowing from what quarter the attack might come? Horror writers—eat your heart out! You can’t write fiction as terrifying as this reality.

  5. Beyond the Silence, A Woman’s Journey to Freedom by Aya Walksfar
    https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8
    What would you do if your child was suddenly ripped away from you? Taken as hostage to force you back into a situation of certain torture, violence and blood? How much fear would slice through your guts, freeze your innards?
    Beyond the Silence is fact cloaked in fiction. Based on the lives of real women who have fought back, survived, and triumphed, this book enters the dark world of cultural and familial abuse; childhood sexual molestation by religious persons and family members; domestic violence and forced BDSM during marital rape. How does a girl grow up or a woman survive a culture that preaches females are second class human beings? How does a woman overcome the propaganda that makes her feel crazy for believing her own reality?
    These subjects are the elephants that sit at Sunday dinner around the family tables all across America. These are the elephants that eat at the tables of rich and poor; black, white, Native American and every other race. These are the elephants that have no regard for which religion you follow, which nationality you proclaim, or which region of the country in which you are born.
    The fact is: No woman is safe. She is not safe on the streets, on the job, on public transportation, in her school, on a university campus, or in her home. Regardless if she is seven years old or seventy-eight years old, she is at risk every single day.
    And that is the scary reality of being a woman in America today. Haunted houses simply cannot compete with that kind of scary.
    books-doorway-to-bigger-world
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#Halloween Month! A Month of Scary!

evil-stalks-the-night
#October is #Halloween Month, All-Hallows Month! I will celebrate by making it A Month Of Scary!

October 1: I will discuss the meaning of Halloween on my blog and post Chapter 1 of Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire War. In addition, this will be one of the FEW times that my email friends will receive more than one notification per week from me. On October 1, I will send the first two chapters of my upcoming thriller–Attack!

October 8: Five Books that scared me. On this day, I will share five books that truly disturbed me. Not all horror is paranormal.

Oct 15: Five Scary Things that Made Me Write. Many things motivate an author. On this day, I will share five of those occurrences.

Oct 22: Five Scary Things I Wrote About. Though I do not write horror books, there are several subjects that are tackled in my novels that are truly scary.

Oct 29: A Scary/Paranormal Short Story. Then, there are those incidents that no one can explain…. It’s not always wise to walk around alone, after dark!

Great October Reads:
Dead Men and Cats, a novella
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On October 1, 35 copies of Dead Men and Cats will be given away! Stay tuned to my BLOG for the latest on how to grab your #FREE #Ebook!

Looking forward to seeing you! Oooooooo!

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Some Things Need Said

First day of your life
As a writer, a lesbian, and a woman, it is time for me to say a few things. As those of you who have read my novels, visited my Facebook pages or even just read my blog know everything I write has the underlying motivation of empowering women and girls. I address those issues that affect women and girls on a daily basis.
With the elections looming closer every day, I find myself compelled to weigh in with what I have seen and heard and think. What many of you may not realize is that simply being an out lesbian has cost me an education, my home, everything that I had worked for years to acquire. I have been fired for being a lesbian. I have endured harassment on my job for being a lesbian. And, I know without a doubt, if Trump is elected I will lose more. I will once again live in an environment where violence against those who are different is either ignored or in some cases actually encouraged.

I am not the only lesbian to have lost things and people that matter to us simply for the crime of being a lesbian. I have known women who have lost their children. In the repressive and violent environment that Trump would encourage as president–has already encouraged through his campaign of hate–all of the civil rights gains that we have made will be negated. It is for that, as well as for many other reasons, that I am compelled to speak out.

I have heard people say they might abstain from casting a vote because they like neither candidate. Rest assured that NO DECISION is a DECISION BY DEFAULT. Others say they will vote for a party that has no standing in this current election. That is the same as making NO DECISION–you are making a decision for a major political candidate by deciding on that action. When you do cast your vote, I want you to remember those people you know–those people are lesbian, gay, those people who are female, those people who are Muslim or some other minority religion, those people who are of a different race or ethnic background than you. Ask yourself: what will my vote mean for them as well as for me? Will it bring about peace? Will my vote count for securing civil rights for ALL Americans? Or only for the privileged few?

Trump has made it abundantly clear that he considers anyone who is not white, male, heterosexual, and Christian to be inferior. He has made statements that make it clear that he does not believe anyone different than himself deserves to have their rights, and their well-being, protected.

YET, when we look at the natural world we can see one grand truth:
diversity (2)

If you are a woman, or if you have a daughter, mother, aunt, sister or wife, here is what Trump thinks about women. To one reporter’s question do you consider women to be human beings, Trump’s response was: I would have to consider that on a case-by-case basis. Some people might try to excuse this statement by saying he was only joking, but such a statement is not a joking matter, especially for a candidate for the highest office of our country.

He has threatened multiple times to deport millions of people and has led the American people to wrongfully assume that such deportation of “illegal aliens” would help the economy and provide more jobs. In reality, the jobs that illegal immigrants hold are the meanest, the lowest paid, and the hardest jobs such as migrant workers in the fields. There are plenty of those jobs for the asking; all you have to do is apply. What such deportation will mean to our economy is that farmers, especially the larger farmers who depend on migrant, and yes on illegal immigrants, will lose crops due to a lack of workers. Though I do not approve of such exploitation of illegal immigrants, the fact remains that they a necessary labor pool. Deportation will inevitably harm our economy. (Much moreso than say meeting the basic needs of those workers!)

He wants to ban people of a specific religion from immigrating to our country. Yet, this nation was founded by men and women seeking to avoid religious persecution. Remember, not all sects or practices of Christianity were tolerated in the Old World.

Even forgetting the beginnings of the United States, let’s examine refugee impact on one American city, St. Louis, Missouri. During the Bosnia war, thousands of refugees fled their homeland and some of them came to America. Over twenty-two thousand of those refugees who came to America landed eventually in St. Louis. At the time, St. Louis was a “dying city”.

The results of the flux of Bosnia immigrants into St. Louis, according to a 2012 Saint Louis University paper titled “The Economic Impact of Immigration in St. Louis” resurrected that city. (Please note that the immigrants they are speaking of were mostly Muslims)

They (the refugees) revitalized parts of South St. Louis City and South St. Louis County by moving into older neighborhoods, opening businesses and rehabbing housing. Bosnians opened many thriving small businesses including bakeries, butcher shops, coffee shops, construction and heating and cooling companies, insurance companies and a truck-driving institute, and continue to be a key source of high skilled production work. To read the entire article go to: http://fusion.net/story/238682/the-miracle-of-little-bosnia/

According to Trump poor people are poor because they are genetically coded not to succeed; they are doomed to remain poor for the rest of their lives. This statement came from a man that some people would vote into the presidency because they believe he is a good businessman. Good business people know that hard work and determination frequently overrides the circumstances under which a successful person is born.

While I am on the subject of Trump’s so-called business acumen–Trump has bankrupted a number of his own companies. (And some folks want him to run the business of our country?!) One interesting business deal which he instigated was with the Scottish government. He promised the Scottish government that he would build and run a golf resort in Scotland that would employ 600 people, yet the resort foundered. At no time did he employ more than 300 people on that project and even that was temporary. He blamed his own failure on the fact that the Scottish government refused to FORCE a citizen of Scotland to sell his property to Trump. When Trump sued the Scottish government, they allowed the suit and subsequently, Trump, of course, lost the suit.

He has proposed building a wall between Mexico and the United States. Drugs come through tunnels (some of the best engineered tunnels in the world, by the way) to the United States more often than across the border. What makes him think that illegal immigrants would not also come through those tunnels if he builds a wall? A costly wall. A wall that mimics the futile wall that once divided Germany. Surely, the Berlin Wall is not so far in the past that we have forgotten it.

He has shown blatant disrespect toward women. Such disrespect of the more than half of our population does not bode well for women’s rights and freedoms.

And, he’s lied about charitable giving. According to the Washington Post, there’s no record of Trump donating any of his own money to charity in the last five years.
“Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money,” the Post reported. “Many of the gifts that Trump cited to prove his generosity were free rounds of golf, given away by his courses for charity auctions and raffles.”
Specifically, Trump listed nearly 3,000 rounds of golf as charitable gifts, even though some of the golf passes were given to his business clients and wealthy celebrities. As the Post explained, the donations list “reveals how Trump has demonstrated less of the soaring, world-changing ambitions in his philanthropy than many other billionaires. Instead, his giving appears narrowly tied to his business and, now, his political interests. Read the entire article at: http://www.salon.com/2016/04/16/the_charity_double_standard_partner/

Everyone can undoubtedly agree that the First Lady is an important asset to the president. Every president that we have had, so far, has proven that to be true. The First Ladies are nearly as well known and are definitely judged by the world community. With this in mind, what do you think the impression of our nation will be if we have a First Lady who plagiarized another First Lady’s speech? Trump’s wife did just that. She plagiarized the speech of First Lady Michelle Obama. Such a move indicates two things: she could not think on her own and she had very poor advice from her advisers. First Ladies have a delicate and important job to do for our country. They need to be widely read, intelligent, perceptive, and able to think on their own. (And that is just a few of the attributes they must have)

Trump’s campaign has been based on divisive, racist, misogynistic and plain hateful rhetoric to the point that England debated whether or not to allow him into their country.

For the past months I have heard many negative things said or written about Hilliary Clinton. What is not so widely known and spoken about are the many good works she has performed out of the glow of the limelight. I learned about some of those endeavors from a video on this site: https://www.facebook.com/TheDaily.BuzzOnline/videos/1062989120456530/ I learned that Hilliary has championed women and girls worldwide from Northern Ireland to North Thailand to Senegal to the United States. She was the driving force behind the passage of laws against human trafficking. And all of this from a woman who as a little girl once wrote to NASA and said she wanted to be an astronaut. NASA’s reply was: girls can not become astronauts.

For years, Republicans have used taxpayer money—thousands upon thousands of dollars—in a witch hunt against Hilliary Clinton. After wasting all of that money—money that could have been better used for the American people—they FAILED to prove any wrongdoing by Hilliary.

Even the latest so-called scandal that claimed she had sent classified information over unsecured email servers has been proven false. She did not send classified information over unsecured servers. Likewise, she was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Benghazi affair.

People who value family should rally to Hilliary Clinton. In spite of everything, she stuck with her husband when many women, myself included, would have felt she was justified in leaving him. Hilliary has proven her commitment to family.

Whether you like Hilliary or not, if you are a woman or an LGBT person, or if you care about the civil rights of ALL Americans, be aware that during the upcoming presidential term three Supreme Court justices will be appointed. This will greatly impact the civil liberties of ALL Americans! For women, for those who have children, for minority people, for lesbian and gay couples, and for all LGBT people, this should be an enormous consideration before voting.

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Things That Go BOOM!

Lieutenant Chris Knurr took on the scary (nearly as scary as disarming bombs!)task of teaching a roomful of writers about things that go boom.
Here is the brave individual! Chris Knurr Bomb Squad WPA
I’m not real sure that he should have told us about Macgyver bombs, though. Those are things of which nightmares are made. These little explosive devices are also called acid bombs or bottle bombs. And, they are one of the scariest bombs out there. Why? Not because they are the most destructive–not even close. What’s so scary is that these highly unstable and unpredictable bombs can be made from readily available supplies found in many homes! Chris showed us a short video clip of one young man who put the chemicals for the bomb in a plastic bottle and then shook the bottle. The bomb exploded in his hand. Though these are not even close to the most destructive explosives, they can still maim and kill.

Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in thinking about the explosives used to create bombs–things like dynamite and C-4–that I, like many others, are unaware of the danger present in those small or long, thin devices called detonators. Chris passed a non-el or shock tube around so that everyone in the room was holding it and then he set it off. It was startling with a small zap, but if it had been part of a bomb it would have been used to initiate a detonator or blasting cap.(please note: things in bold are corrections made to original post per information from Lieutenant Knurr. Thank you, Lieutenant Knurr, for passing along these clarifications! You rock!)

Det cord is a high explosive wrapped in a plastic coating, needing a detonator or blasting cap to initiate it. When it is set off by a blasting cap, it sends a detonating wave to other blasting caps or explosive charges. This cord is commonly used to connect explosives together.

After that fairly benign demo of a shock tube, he passed around inert blasting caps—little metal tubes not more than a couple of inches long and smaller in diameter than my little finger. Though they look harmless, they are small, sensitive primary explosive–woe be to those who forget this part of the description–devices used to detonate a larger, more powerful and less sensitive secondary explosive such as TNT, dynamite or plastic explosives.

One man did forget the description of blasting caps. Chris showed us a photo of what was left of the man’s face after he bit down on a live blasting cap. We could just about make out his eyes above the ruin of his face. Nose, lips, mouth, cheeks, and chin were gone. Blood was streaming down the red mass that had been his face. It was nothing short of a miracle that the man survived.

Since I am writing a thriller where homemade explosives play a significant part, I was especially interested in the part of the lecture dealing with ANFO, or bombs made from ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Several thousand pounds of a slightly different formulation of this type of explosive–ANNM which is ammonium nitrate with nitro methane fuel–was packed in the vehicle that Timothy McVeigh parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995. He lit a two minute fuse and when the explosion occurred it killed 168 people, including 19 children and injured another 684 others.

Two of the most popular, homemade high explosives currently seem to be TATP and HMTD, both hydrogen peroxide based. Chemicals to make these bombs are fairly common. Unfortunately for law enforcement, the labs producing these high explosives may appear to be meth labs since TATP is a white crystal and HMTD is a white powder. These explosives are unstable.

Chris’ lecture covered many other types of explosives as well as such topics as what defines the ‘explosive train’, but those things would require a lot longer post and much more skill to explain than I have to make it as understandable as Chris did for us. (Just because I could understand it, doesn’t mean I can explain it! Chris is a talented teacher and an accomplished expert in all things that go BOOM!)

There were some things that really snagged my attention, though.

  1. I had no idea that a suitcase full of firecrackers, if set on fire, could blow up a full size car!
  2. Car bombs in a downtown area is a bomb squad’s nightmare.
  3. It is way too easy to buy the ingredients to create a bomb! Scary!
  4. There are 2700 civilian bomb techs trained by the FBI.
  5. A “dirty bomb” is not one that needs a bath; it is an explosive that has radioactive material on it.
  6. Grenades, and high explosives, create pressure waves/shock waves that go through a body. This, in turn, creates fluid waves (we are mostly water) that shred the inside of the body. This is what kills.
  7. The bomb suit—Explosive Ordnance Disposal suit (EOD)–weighs over 80 pounds and someone has to wear it! It is hard to move in it and is very hot! (I tried on the helmet and the coat part. Do you remember what it felt like when you were a little kid and your mom bundled you up for cold weather and you could barely move? Yup, a lot like that.)The helmet weighs about 8 to 10 pouunds. The bomb suit, in order to maximize dexterity and mobility, has no gloves. This leaves hands and forearms exposed to danger.
    Aya bomb coat WPA
    (This photo is used courtesy of Tom Middleton)

EOD technicians wear the suit during reconnaissance, when trying to ‘render safe’, or disruption procedures on potential or confirmed explosive devices. These suits protect the wearer from fragmentation, blast overpressure, thermal and tertiary effects should the device explode. An interesting note: technicians back away from explosive devices not because they are “afraid” of the bomb, but because most of the protection resides in the front plate of the suit.
Tom in bomb suit WPA
Tom Middleton models the EOD suit next to the robot used by the bomb squad.

Though I have only been able to grasp a mere fraction of the information he conveyed, Chris gave me something more valuable even than knowledge of explosives; he gave me a better understanding of the dangers faced from international and homegrown terrorists who have easy access to the information and ingredients to create explosive devices; and he gave me a better understanding of the pressures the people of a bomb squad face as they work to protect the public.

Aya Bomb Squad helmet WPA

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