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The teen years are the most confusing time of one’s life and only the very lucky among us remember that time as a happy drama-free period when you were hanging out with the popular kids, being invited to all the parties and your crush becoming your girlfriend or boyfriend.
Well, the majority of people go through the exact opposite – they get bullied, start hating their reflection in the mirror because of acne and their crush probably doesn’t even know they’re alive. Kids like this need guidance and it’s really hard to realize you need help or just someone to talk to when you’re in your teen years and your hormones are raging and you’re not really sure what’s happening to your body.
If you’re anything like I was in those days, you had just a few friends and you did nothing particular to stand out during high school. I was very fortunate to find my getaway in books – they can open up your mind, do miracles for your imagination and you can be absolutely positive they won’t tell your secrets to anyone. Each of the next seven books is quite a ride and they will all help you understand the teen experience and make you more mature and confident, so my sincere suggestion is to start reading.
1. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Some teens go through hell while growing up, because they don’t have that luck of being surrounded by a loving family that’s supportive and kind. If this is the case with you, it can be a lot easier for you if you realize that you’re not the only one in the world going through a series of problems of this kind and that there are others who’ve had experiences similar to yours and, unfortunately, this course of events will continue to happen to generations to come.
This amazing book written by Charles Dickens is about an orphan named Pip who lives with his sister who’s abusive and her husband who happens to be the village blacksmith. The plot begins while Pip is wandering around the churchyard near where his parents are buried when he meets a convict who escaped from prison, setting in motion a chain of events that leads the reader through an emotional rollercoaster.
2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
This is an amazing novel that speaks about a lonely and unfortunate nine-year-old girl, set in the period of the twentieth century that shortly precedes World War II, who finds refuge in books thanks to a gentle man called Hans who taught her to read.
As this book develops, you’ll be seduced by its pages, because it’s so masterly crafted that you won’t be able to leave it until you read the whole thing and I’m sure that it will enable you to get some perspective about your life – it explores the definition of what family is and what it means to people, which really makes you think about your own relationship with those close to you.
Inspiration and proper motivation is something teens often lack and reading great literature will solve this problem for you. The Book Thief will teach you about great values and how great people were lead by them, even in the worst times in history that are now long gone and forgotten, even when around you something is happening which is the last thing that humankind should do.
3. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Love spats are a great part of being in your teen years and I’m sure you’re familiar with love triangles by now and how emotionally challenging they can be. Well, if you place an ordinary love triangle into an ordinary boarding school and have three ordinary teens involved in a storyline that’s anything but normal, because they find out they are being grown and nurtured so they can serve as organ donors, you get this dystopian novel which will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout.
4. The Rotter’s Club – Jonathan Coe
Being a teen often involves deciding on a lifestyle and being very extreme about it – it’s easier to find acceptance if you belong to a group, right? It’s quite exciting to know that you’re not the only one enjoying something and that you belong somewhere.
It often happens that this choice of a lifestyle is related to a music genre which dictates the way you talk, the way you dress and the way you cut your hair – practically everything about you that’s visible. This amazing book will introduce you to progressive rock and punk rock, and by reading it you’ll get to know three teenagers who are trying to find self-identification in this world.
5. Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
If you’re not trying to belong to a group of people who think the same way as you do, as a teen you’re seeking refuge by being an outsider – and this is something a small percentage of kids are brave enough to go with. Strangely enough, Colin Maclnnes was forty-four when he published this book, but this didn’t at all stand in the way of him writing a masterpiece.
If you’d like to learn about the origin of hipsters and the coffee bars through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old who wants to be a photographer in the early sixties, this book may be just right for you – especially now, when the hipster subculture has become mainstream.
6. The Catcher in The Rye – JD Salinger
It’s not really news that teens think they are the smartest and that they know everything – I was like that when I was a kid and each upcoming generation of teens will be prone to being obnoxious and pretentious.
Having a huge ego, while questioning the point of everything is another part of the teen experience and if you decide to read The Catcher in The Rye you’ll get to know a protagonist who thinks exactly like this, while he finds everything around him boring. Sound familiar?
7. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
This transformation that comes with teen years, when you transfer from playing carelessly with your toys and friends to start experiencing a whole new set of emotions that you can’t really pin to something precisely or even identify, is more than overwhelming.
This jump into becoming an adult through a series of changes, both physical and internal, can be easier for you when you have an amazing book right by your side to guide you through it, and Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte will become your teen Bible if you give it a chance.
It’s not easy to find the purpose of your life, even when this confusing teen period ends for you and you finally become an adult – some people never truly grow up. However, the more you work on enriching your own experience, learning about yourself by trying to understand the stories of others and their troubles will enable you to grow as a person, become self-aware and help you figure out who you truly are.
I know it sounds magical and impossible, but books can do this for you and especially these listed above if you only give them a chance.
May 28, 2019 8:00 AM EST | 8 min read
Reasons why your biggest enemy is yourself. Discover why you are your own worst enemy.
Who is your biggest enemy?
“My greatest enemy is my inner me.” – Lupe Fiasco
Enemies come in all shapes and sizes. Some offer minor threats like a table leg that seems poised to trip you up. Others are diseases and illnesses that are hiding in your body right now waiting for an opportune time to show up.
Why your biggest enemy is yourself
There are many threats to our security like the robber I once caught in my house or an internet hacker waiting to steal money from my bank account.
Other threats are that coworker that wants my job and believes the best way to be the tallest building is to tear all of the others down.
Any one of these alone could make for a really bad day. To be honest though, none of those things seem to be my ruin. The one person that seems to trip me up the most is I.
Below are some of the ways that I prove to be my biggest enemy.
I know the right things to eat, but I choose ice cream
Many years ago when I had an addiction to alcohol I could get past the addiction by simply not drinking alcohol anymore. Drink or don’t drink was the only two options. But when it comes to food this is much more difficult. I listen to podcasts routinely and read blogs about nutrition.
I have studied nutrition in relation to endurance sport and also in relation to growing old. I have studied charts and watched videos. From time to time I purposely spend time with overweight friends just to remind me of what awaits if I don’t watch what I eat. But somehow when ice cream is offered, I’m a goner.
My mind tells me very quickly, “You really should not have any. You don’t really need that.” But there is this little part of my brain that is ready to betray me.
At first I hear it in almost a whisper, “Ice cream fits in the dairy section. You need more dairy for strong bones and teeth. You don’t want to be seen as rude, do you?” The debate happens quickly and the betrayer gets louder with each passing moment.
Before I even realize it I hear myself say, “Chocolate chip mint, please.” Oh my! What just happened? It often happens with pie or cake at birthday parties. The betrayer within is always prepared to make the argument for foods that I know that I should not be eating.
I know the right way to exercise but I choose sleep.
I have a solid training plan embedded in my planner of the exercise that I should do. Some should be done in the morning and some at night. All of it is reasonable and right and comes with all of the benefits that solid exercise can bring.
I know that exercise enables my mind to work more efficiently and effectively. I know that a healthy body can endure more stress and can accomplish much more on a regular basis.
Looking at my schedule I realize that what I have in my planner is an effective way to get in the exercise that I need. However, in the morning I am under my covers and my alarm has gone off I lay there thinking of my day.
It is only for a few minutes, mind you. But I lay there and the excuses begin to pile up. The betrayer inside starts pointing out how warm the bed is and complements me on how hard I work and how I deserve to stay in bed a little longer.
This voice is always soothing and comforting. Never is it accusing nor attacking. Before long I have slept an extra hour or two and the opportunity to exercise has come and gone.
When evening comes I fully intend to make up for it. However, my wife needs time with me and my kids need time with me. The voice here is much more accusatory and attacking. Guilt gets piled up and soon I have all of the excuse that I need to sit quietly and again not exercise. Again the betrayer has won.
I know the right things to say but I choose sarcasm.
Over the years I have taken countless classes on good parenting and healthy marriage. Add to that all of the relationship and counseling classes that I have taken. Then multiply that by the countless books, podcasts and YouTube classes on healthy communication and I should be an expert on the right things to say.
I teach a class on conflict resolution and often serve as a mediator for individuals or groups that are in conflict. But there are moments where I am put into a stressful situation. My internal dialogue gives me direction on the right things to say and even the right expressions to put on my face.
Again though the betrayer is right there ready to pounce. “That was stupid. He is disrespecting you. If you don’t insult him he will think that you are a wimp.” The betrayer pushes and pushes and before I know it, sarcasm has seeped out of my mouth and my enemy has defeated me.
I know the right things to do but I choose fear.
I have been trained to look for opportunities to grow and help my organization to grow as well. My first waking thought on my good days comes to a desire to try finding success. Weirdly, most of these opportunities come with a certain amount of risk.
Some might include a little risk of embarrassment if I fall short, others might actually threaten my life. That risk is presented by the betrayer and he is ready to exploit the worst possible scenario and plays that scene in various ways until fear takes root. Once the fear is rooted most of the time the betrayer will win because I choose fear.
Even though I have lost more times to the betrayer than I can count I choose to never fully surrender. When I get knocked down I get back up. I will face my enemy and do what I need to do to defeat him.
One of the most important steps in defeating an enemy is discovering them. There are likely more ways that you can identify specifically how your enemy either within or without is causing major disruption in your life.
Below are three strategies to defeat that enemy.
When the temptation to slack off comes up solid discipline can make all of the difference. Set up a plan and allow no excuses to hinder your efforts. Silence the voices with music or videos or whatever it takes to inspire you.
Surround yourself with peers that have high standards
We tend to gravitate to the standards of those that we call peers. Choose wisely who you hang out with, they will either draw you up to their level or pull you down. They may not even deliberately try to pull you do but pull you down they will.
Set purposeful goals
Several years ago now my little sister was getting married. My mom had wanted to lose weight and get healthier for many years but never seemed to win the struggle. For the wedding she picked out a dress that she had been wanting for a long time but would require her to get healthy to make it work.
She bought the dress and hung it up on the door of her closet. The effort to lose weight was now attached to a visible goal. Why do you want to get smarter, get healthier or earn more money? Create a strong enough why and you can do almost anything.
This enemy that is yourself can be defeated and the self that you want to be can be strengthened. Identify the enemy within and then think strategically about what you will do to succeed.
Everyday Power ► Why Your Biggest Enemy Is Yourself And What You Can Do About It
President Trump reacted Wednesday morning to reports on the North Korean summit — which he considers “an interesting and very positive experience — saying the “Fake News” is trying to “downplay the deal.”
Note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack is a member of the Axios board.
Warby Parker files to go public
Photo: RBL/Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images
Eyewear brand Warby Parker on Tuesday said it has filed confidentially to go public, although a source says the company hasn’t decided whether to do so via an IPO or direct listing.
Why it matters: Warby Parker is one of the earliest direct-to-consumer online sellers, although it has since expanded into physical locations. The company was most recently valued at $3 billion by venture capitalists.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
- Vaccines:CDC: Nearly every adult COVID-19 death is now “entirely preventable” — The states that have vaccinated at least 70% of adults
- Economy:Investors still view COVID as a market risk for the second half of 2021
- Politics:White House acknowledges U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal.
- World:India administers 8.6 million COVID-19 vaccines in a single day — CDC expects new COVID surge starting this month — U.S. announces destinations for 55 million more COVID vaccine doses
- Poll:Americans are restarting pre-coronavirus daily activities.
- Variant tracker:Where different strains are spreading.
White House acknowledges U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal
Fireworks in New York City to celebrate the state reaching a 70% vaccination rate. Photo: Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images
The Biden administration acknowledged on Tuesday that it will likely miss its goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4.
Why it matters: Despite falling short of the goal, the White House still believes most Americans will be safe to fully celebrate Independence Day, as COVID-19 cases and deaths remain at low levels throughout much of the country.
So conquer it with these six tips from cycling’s comeback queen, Alison Tetrick.
When Alison Tetrick entered the Cascade Classic Time Trial in 2010, she was at the top of her game as a professional cyclist. Despite being relatively new to competitive racing, she was racking up podium spots. That season alone she had already taken first place in the Nature Valley Grand Prix Time Trial. The previous year she had won second place in the Cascade Classic, and now she was gunning for first.
That all changed as she was barreling down a descent during the race. One cyclist near her crashed, creating a ricochet effect in a group already riding in tight formation. Another racer took out Tetrick’s front wheel, and Tetrick went down. Hard.
“When it first happened, I was going in and out,” Tetrick said. “I was thinking, I can still race again today.” With adrenaline pumping, she threw one leg over her bike and tried to get back on, but passed out again. She ultimately had to be airlifted off the course.
Tetrick was out cold for the next 24 hours, her body racked with seizures. First she was diagnosed with a broken pelvis, and later came the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury. She didn’t realize how serious her condition was until she woke up in the hospital and saw the look on her dad’s face. That’s when she knew her season was over, and that she would face a long, painful recovery. What she didn’t expect, however, was the mental recovery would be harder than the physical.
“I was scared to death,” she says, of getting back on the bike. “I was terrified I was going to crash again.”
The next year she went back and won the women’s division of the time trial for the Sea Otter Classic, and she’s been back on the bike ever since.
Fear, researchers are finding, plays an enormous role in an athlete’s recovery. In fact, it can determine whether or not an athlete ever makes a full recovery—and that fact is often overlooked, says Dr. Aaron Gray, a physician for athletes at the University of Missouri. Some athletes, he says, “almost have post-traumatic stress back to” the moment they got injured.
Addressing the fear, alongside the physical injuries, is critical for recovery, a recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found.
The study’s authors looked at a set of patients recovering from ACL reconstruction. Over the course of the patients’ recovery, the intensity of their knee pain was measured, along with the strength of the muscles around the knee, the knee’s functional range of movement, and the patient’s level of physical activity. Researchers also measured levels of kinesiophobia—pain-related fear of movement. Among the study participants, the most common reason for not having a full recovery was fear of getting hurt again. These athletes didn’t have higher levels of pain than other people in the study; they were just scared.
“Our results indicate physical impairments may contribute to initial functional deficits, whereas psychological factors may contribute to longer term functional deficits in patients who report fear of reinjury or lack of confidence as a barrier to sports participation,” wrote the study’s authors.
Tetrick’s fear was still alive and well at her first her big comeback race: the 2012 Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey, California. Nevertheless, she jumped onto her saddle and rode. She didn’t place, but she knew it was a huge accomplishment to have recovered enough to be racing competitively again. The next year she went back and won the women’s division of the time trial for the Sea Otter Classic, and she’s been back on the bike ever since.
How did she crush her fear? One thing that helped: She decided to take ownership of the risks she faces while racing. Each time she races, “she’s 100 percent in.” She also took the extra time she had post-injury to focus on areas of her life outside of cycling. Now she’s a graduate student in neuropsychology—with a particular interest in brain injuries. She’s also volunteering with Breakaway from Cancer, a cancer awareness group. “I needed to separate my identity from the sport,” Tetrick says. “I’m so much more than a cyclist.”
If you’re struggling with fear and a lack of confidence post-injury, Tetrick and Dr. Gray have some tips to help you bounce back.
Take It Slow
Work with a trained physical therapist or sports physician to develop a gradual return-to-sport plan. This will let your body heal and helps your mind, too. Each day you do a little more, and gradually you’ll start to build the confidence to get back out there.
If You’re Feeling Blue, Get Help
For Tetrick, getting back meant working with a psychologist. It’s normal to feel blue when you can’t maintain your usual activity levels, but don’t be afraid to ask for help to deal with it. “People need to be aware of the potential tendency to feel down in the dumps as you’re recovering because you’re not able to exercise and release those endorphins that you usually do,” Dr. Gray says.
Track Your Recovery
Sometimes, even though you’re improving, it’s hard to see those gains because you’re so focused on performing at your pre-injury levels. Tetrick kept a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track the activities she did and her mood levels each day. “If you keep track of your recovery you can see, ‘Hey, I could only walk up half the stairs last week, but this week I did all the stairs,’” she says.
Practice Positive Visualization
We usually hear about positive visualization as a useful tool for uninjured athletes. To perform well at the race, the ski racer imagines herself floating down it elegantly and winning. The same technique can be applied to athletes coming back from an injury. If you’re afraid of running after an ACL tear, for example, imagine yourself running fluidly with perfect form before you lace up your shoes and head out.
Get Your Movement Analyzed
Make sure you have good form to avoid reinjury. If you’re a skier, take a private lesson and have your technique analyzed by the instructor. If you’re a runner, get your gait assessed. If there’s a deficit in your technique, you can correct it, and if there isn’t, you can get out there with the confidence that you have perfect form.
Embrace Relaxation Exercises
When Tetrick is stressed before a race, she’ll do deep breathing exercises to calm herself down. She also comes up with little mantras to keep herself psyched. If you’re thinking a negative thought, try turning it around into a positive. “I’ll be thinking during the race, I feel awful!” she says. “And then I’ll think to myself, no, I feel awesome!”
Even though it’s not super common to deal with a sociopath in everyday life вЂ” whether you end up dating one, working with one, etc. вЂ” it’s still a good idea to be able to spot their more common manipulation techniques. If there’s one thing some sociopaths have in common, experts say it’s often a desire to use other people for personal gain. And you don’t want to get caught up in that.
“Sociopaths are manipulative because they are trying to achieve what they want for themselves in the world,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. “People around them can either help them or be a hinderance. They engage in so much of this because they [might not have a] moral compass вЂ” nothing that tells them not to.”
This is all part of sociopathy, or what’s otherwise known as Antisocial Personality Disorder. “They are manipulative because this is how theyвЂ™ve learned to negotiate in the world and get what they want,” psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW tells Bustle. “Lacking empathy, they donвЂ™t feel badly for those they hurt but think of them as easy prey.”
Since it doesn’t feel good to be manipulated вЂ” and it can even land you in some pretty scary situations вЂ” here are some of their most common manipulation techniques to watch out for, so you don’t get caught up in their toxic games.
They Use “Love Bombing” Techniques
When a sociopath is trying to win someone over вЂ” especially in a romantic relationship вЂ” they may use a technique known as love bombing, which basically means they try to be kind in a super, over-the-top way in order to get what they want.
“They will shower you with affection and attention to overcome any reservations you may have,” Koenig says. “They do this at the start of a relationship and when they feel you pulling away.”
This is creepy because the love and affection isn’t genuine, but instead just a way to get you to stick around in a situation that isn’t healthy. So if someone’s kindness feels “off,” or if their affection seems to be “too much too soon,” listen to your gut.
They Are Super Charming
In a similar vein, sociopaths tend to be the most charming people in the room вЂ” whether they’re at work, at parties, on dates, etc. They’re funny, kind, and full of compliments. But the thing is, it’s not genuine at all.
And usually, it can be spotted by how excessive it all is. “Being described as вЂcharmingвЂ™ is usually a positive and complimentary comment. And, in fact, a charming personality is a lovely quality to be gifted with. However, people who are sociopaths use excessive charm to manipulate others into believing they are good guys,” Beverly Hills sex and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish tells Bustle. “They use their slippery . charm to weave a false sense of safety and trap their victims into trusting them.”
They Target Vulnerable People
While anyone can fall for a sociopath’s surface-level charm, they tend to go for folks who are aching for attention, and thus more likely to fall for it.
As Koenig says, they might “pick out vulnerable people with low self-esteem and self-worth who are the ‘echo’ to the sociopathвЂ™s ‘narcissism.’ The victims of sociopaths are often [people] who have had trauma, abuse, or neglect (or all of the above) in their lives.” For anyone who’s been through the ringer in life, it’s easy to see how this tactic might work.
They Know How To Reel You Back In
Sociopaths tend to have a near-magical ability to reel people back into their web, especially when they’re trying to break away.
To do so, they often “engage in intermittent reinforcement . to keep their victims attached,” Koenig says. “This involves being nice interspersed with being not nice, or lots of engagement interspersed with withdrawal of love and attention.”
Right when you think you’re done with them, or feel like you’d really like to end the friendship/relationship, they’ll figure out the perfect thing to say so that you stick around. That’s why it’s important to stick to your guns, and not fall for false kindness.
They Are Quick To Apologize
Sometimes manipulation can be spotted in the way they apologize. “Sociopaths may give sincere-sounding apologies, when they are not sorry at all,” Laurie Endicott Thomas, MA, ELS, relationship expert and author of DonвЂ™t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health, tells Bustle. “They will say whatever they think you want to hear.” But their words will be conflicting with their actions.
So if you aren’t sure if the apology is an attempt at manipulation, try to focus on their actions instead of their words, Thomas says. Do they apologize, while continuing to act in a mean or cruel way? If so, they aren’t likely being genuine.
“I just don’t have time to respond.”
Over my last 10 years pitching politicians in Washington, that line above has become eerily familiar. Democrat or Republican, they just don’t seem to have time to respond to the comments that we might create as an advertising agency with digital doorbelling to their voters via Facebook. That has been the argument to not run Facebook ads time and again.
City Council candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and yes, even a presidential candidate, have said that line to me as I pitched the simple concept I’ve found to be my political creed and motto.
If we engage the voters, respond to those on both sides of the aisle politely (Trump threw the “politely” part in the trash), and yes, advertise those engagements to local voters over Facebook, we can build the rational opposition we need to elect politicians that will fight the bad policies we see from Seattle, King County, and the little swamp in Olympia.
Sadly, in the time since I’ve taken this radio show, Facebook itself has banned their advertising for political candidates in our state in response to an irrational lawsuit from our tort happy attorney general.
Washington state AG Bob Ferguson clearly observed as I did, that an insurgent Donald Trump outspent Hilary Clinton $70 million to $10 million on Facebook. Facing a true avenue to victory for moderates, conservatives, and outsider candidates alike, our Attorney General did the only thing he could to protect Washington Democrats from future insurgent candidates on both sides of the aisle: He sued Facebook.
Together with the Public Disclosure Commission, our attorney general and the ever-silent conservative right have allowed a vital avenue for free speech in Washington to slam shut. Alongside our politicians, the voters and local media have been complicit in this hoodwinking of our free speech rights.
In my opinion, the lack of Facebook advertising is why the moderate movement in Seattle didn’t gain steam in 2019, and it’s why I fear we are gifting Washington to our far-left opposition for years to come.
Over 70% of Washingtonians are on Facebook. How can we build a rational opposition to an income tax, bad policies on homelessness, and lack of true concern for conservation by our governor if we can’t reach each other using modern digital media?
That’s digital media our governor utilized in his run for presidency, spending $1 million on Facebook Ads to advance his virtue signal platform to America. It was a message of climate, climate, climate, as we at home have seen increased encampments, trash, and now a plan to protect our local dump from bald eagles with fireworks.
Let me be very frank to my friends on the conservative side: Your opposition is beatable if you can get your message out and build a new coalition.
In King County, conservatives and moderate Democrats can win on a platform that focuses on addiction (helping those on our streets onto a pathway to self sufficiency), affordable housing (increasing supply by partnering with the development community using city, county, and state owned land), and cleaning up trash by first facing the homeless crisis head on, but also advancing the climate battle by building a waste to energy management plant like our friends in Europe to handle our obvious trash eagle issue.
The Rational Opposition is yours now Washington, but if we don’t get Facebook advertising in the hands of an engaged and well-rounded candidate, the conservative movement may die underneath an onslaught of an income taxes, new fees, spiraling regulations, and yet another virtue signaling governor that talks climate, Green New Deals, and kindness, as our communities are covered in literal trash and used needles.
If I leave you with anything as I walk away from the radio, please do remember what I look for in a good politician, and that the labels we wield as weapons are dangerous and cult-like. I hope we stop voting “R” and “D,” and start looking for politicians that are:
Politicians should treat government dollars with care and concern. If the results aren’t there be sure to try new solutions as you are using our dollars.
Those on both sides of the aisle should take a long look at our $23 trillion dollar debt created by a run of both Democrat and Republican presidents.
Willing to respond
In this digital age, we deserve politicians that treat their constituents with respect and talk back over every avenue. A great leader responds to those who both agree and disagree with them. Both AOC and Donald Trump will respond to the haters.
Seattle, don’t forget that your Seattle City Council Members make over $129,000 a year with a full staff, but can’t seem to respond to your emails and concerns within the week, much less the month or even the quarter if you are lucky to get a response at all.
Let me be clear: Your politicians have the time and ample resources to respond to you their voters. The reason they “don’t have time to respond” is because they have constructed an echo chamber built to block out your cries for rational policies, tax leniency where possible, and safety on our streets.
Politicians need to be bold and humble
We are facing real problems that deserve creative solutions. It takes bold politicians to put forth ideas that are new and sometimes scary.
We also need to give our politicians the leeway to make mistakes when pursuing their bold solutions, but they need to be accountable and capable of seeing when their ideas have failed with our dollars.
For example, in Seattle, we can be bold and offer developers additional air rights in return for gifting their bottom two floors to a high-performing service provider. Don’t worry — I didn’t break my brain with this idea. I’ll be humble, because Amazon is already doing it with zero incentives.
It should be easy to create a program to partner with the business community to do more good work like this with tax credits and incentives.
From Democrats, to Republicans, and yes even Socialists, I judge them on the above guidelines. They may not be perfect, but it could help you find your way as we build new coalitions in the coming years and decades here in Washington.
Our innovation, our constant drive for growth, our natural resources, our diverse geographic make-up, and more importantly, our ability to create a welcoming oasis for those from all backgrounds, genders, sexual orientation, races, and creeds to thrive and build their world class businesses with a world class workforce is what makes Washington special.
Call it the Washington competitive advantage if you will.
This will and should always Make Washington Great.
Thank you and good day my fellow Washingtonians.
The current BJP government has become so powerful that unless and until pressure comes from all corners, it won’t listen to the people, argues Deepak Bharti.
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Yes, you read that right! Usually, the loyal people are key factor of success of any organization. Either it is a private business conglomerate or a public company, or small co-operative firm, or a large political party, loyal people played crucial role in taking these organizations to new heights. Without them, you cannot imagine any successful organization.
But, when the loyalty turns into a blind faith, it not just harms the people who are supporters, rather the organization itself, especially in case of politics. For any political establishment, the loyalty should not be practised as ‘Bheeshma Pratigya’. Current ruling party of world’s largest democracy has ample amount of loyal support. Actually, more than enough support. When one of the remarkable change of governments happened in 2014 in India, it had many factors in it. One side there was wave of anti-corruption movement, on the other side there was hardcore support for the right-wing party. That support was quite huge because the prime leader presented on the front by them was flag bearer of Hindutva politics. With time, that combination of huge majority and polarisation gave more than enough power to BJP. But unfortunately, this power did not get turned into will-power of the government to do public welfare throughout the country. India had ups and downs in relationships with neighbouring countries since decades. But we have never ignored development and growth of our own people by giving focus on China and Pakistan. The rulers within few years have assessed the mindset of their supporters that this so-called threat of external powers, diversion of real issues and illusion of “New India” will keep the people engaged in a dream of Utopia. Hence, large section of people stopped asking questions on real issues that matter. This worked for BJP winning the second term with bigger majority than before.
But, as wise men say – “You can’t fool all people all the time”, this illusion of Utopia started fading away. From jobs to healthcare to business to inflation to tax-terrorism to family-welfare to international-image, failures of BJP can be seen in various sectors. People started suffering, they started struggling, many started feel suffocating. Hence, they started raising voice, they started asking questions. Now it became tough for BJP to sell to people the world of dreams.
In these moments of crisis, the loyal supporters came forward for BJP as saviours. Though they were always there since 2014 (or even before that), but this time their support is seen at new level. It can be seen at many places that these loyal supporters have taken the offence of BJP government so seriously and personally that they do not care if they lose personal relationship with their loved ones or well-wishers. A person who voted for a government or paid tax to the government, definitely has some expectations from them and if he/she feels cheated, that person will target the government and will criticize the policies and decisions. Jobseekers, teachers, doctors, students, salaried employees, businessperson, daily wage labourer and many more do react and ask question to government. That is the way democracy works. But in recent times, many BJP loyal supporters have lost the empathy towards suffering people around. They have gone too far to save their favourite party and leader ignoring all the pain of common man of the country. This behaviour of overwhelming blind faith has given them a new title – ‘Andhbhakt’.
Yes, this can be understood up to a certain extent that people get emotional for their ‘heroes’ and can be often seen defending those heroes. But how the widespread disaster can be completely ignored for the love of one party, or even for one person. Till yesterday, the failures of BJP government were at economical level. But today, it is the matter of life and death. Those who promised the country for Bullet train could not give ambulance. We do not have enough doctors, oxygen, beds, drugs to treat people. Our parents and grandparents saying these days that they have never seen such huge death and disaster since 1947. But the andhbhakts defend the government even on this. They ignore million of deaths, crores of suffering lives, floating hundreds of dead bodies. This blind faith is leading the BJP towards losing the people’s trust (may be forever). Ultimately, the large population of India will shift back to old option, The Congress. Remembers, people of India chose BJP in 2014 because of Congress government failures in handling the scams. So, BJP loyal supporters should stand with common people and do raise questions to the top leadership to do the right thing. The power of current BJP government has become so huge that until and unless pressure comes from all corners, they are not going to listen.
These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.
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Evacuees of the Kincade Fire and members of the Democratic Socialists of America are demanding PG&E be dismantled.
Nuala Bishari December 4, 2019
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — “ We’ve been evacuated twice in the past five years,” J.D. Opperman tells a small crowd of around 30 who had gathered to protest Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG & E) in downtown Santa Rosa on Nov. 16 , 2019 . Among the protesters were members of the Marin, North Bay and East Bay chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). They held handmade signs reading “ PG & E: The ultimate homewrecker” and “ PG & E: Poster child for the corporate death penalty.”
Opperman explained the first time he was evacuated, during the Tubbs Fire that hit Santa Rosa in 2017 , it was “ terribly frightening. I had to pack everything I owned, shove it into my car. I was in school, a student, worried about exams and everyday things. I have a child.”
After the fire, Opperman sought cheap rent in Guerneville, a small town in the redwoods on the edge of the Russian River. It’s not surrounded by a tinder box of dry fields like Santa Rosa, but when the Kincade Fire broke out in October 2019 , Opperman was again forced to evacuate.
“ This time around was even more frightening,” he told the crowd as it stood solemnly in Old Courthouse Square. “ The fire forced the evacuation of my two 80 -year-old grandparents, one of whom ended up in the hospital for a stomach ulcer from the stress. My family and I called around but every hotel was booked, we had nowhere to go. My girlfriend had a panic attack about money; our businesses [were] closed and we [couldn’t] earn the money we needed to survive. My daughter had a panic attack as well. She was overwhelmed by the situation.”
Opperman was just one of the attendees who personally experienced the stress of last-minute evacuations — from Santa Rosa, Guerneville and Windsor. But the protest wasn’t just for people to share trauma; there was a strong call to disband PG & E, particularly from local democratic socialists.
“ We are here today to voice our collective outrage” against PG & E’s corporate interests, says Brandi Chalker of North Bay DSA. “ Our biggest enemy is PG & E itself. The losers in this game? That’s us, folks. We stand against PG & E as a corporate, for-profit entity.”
Opperman’s family members were just a few of the nearly 200 , 000 people forced to flee the Kincade Fire, which burned more than 77 , 000 acres — making it the largest wildfire ever in Sonoma County. An investigation is ongoing, but it appears to have started from a spark from a broken cable on a high transmission power line. It’s not the first time the utility has been blamed for a blaze, including the Camp Fire in 2018 , which killed 85 people in Paradise, Calif.
While climate change and drought have made California particularly vulnerable to fast-moving, powerful fires, the situation has been exacerbated by PG & E’s failure to secure all of its power lines and transformers. Trimming overgrown trees near power lines is a proven preventative measure, but the company has been slow to negotiate with tree-trimming contractors. Of the 2 , 455 miles of vegetation along power lines identified as high risk, PG & E has only trimmed 760 miles of it. In June 2019 , the bankrupt utility announced plans to shell out $ 11 million in performance bonuses to its executives.
As wildfires have become a seasonal norm, pressure has risen for a public takeover of the shareholder-owned PG & E, mirroring calls across the nation for utilities to be placed under public control. Many utility cooperatives do exist: The Delaware Electric Cooperative, for example, was founded in 1936 and serves 101 , 000 people, and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative has served 14 Central Texas counties since 1939 . In addition to providing customers with added transparency over decisions and finances, co-op utility companies can also provide local economic opportunities.
But 2019 marked a shift in California as homes and businesses continued burning and mass evacuations and power shut-offs hit an unprecedented scale. By early November, PG & E shut off nearly 2 . 5 million customers, the largest such event in state history, and politicians are paying attention. More than 20 California mayors, led by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D), signed on to a plan to turn PG & E into a customer-owned cooperative. Pressure is on for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to take a stance on what will certainly become a key voter issue.
The exact logistics of a takeover are still unclear. Despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, PG & E declined to sell in September 2019 after San Francisco officials made a $ 2 . 5 billion offer for the city’s electric grid.
Meanwhile, PG & E CEO Bill Johnson says the public should expect rolling blackouts for a decade. Hours after the Santa Rosa protest, news emerged that high winds ensured more power outages on the immediate horizon.
“ Public ownership of this utility is a definite necessity,” Opperman told the crowd at the Santa Rosa protest. “ There is no reason that something that is so critical to the modern world and the functioning of daily life should be owned by a private industry.”
Pakistan remains the biggest threat to Afghanistan and an enemy will always be an enemy. In a direct attack on Islamabad, Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh said that Afghanistan’s policy on Pakistan remains “flawed” and Kabul has failed to take a strong stand against Islamabad. Afghanistan has been accusing Pakistan of harbouring the leadership of the Taliban who have ravaged the nations with innumerable attacks.
Saleh said that Kabul never tried to propel the “cost of war” for Islamabad and always took a “high moral ground” in the faith that Pakistan would reciprocate, which unfortunately never happened.
The former chief of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said, “There is no Afghan dossier on Pakistan in the UN Security Council. We have not presented a state stamped dossier declaring Pakistan our enemy to the United Nations with the hope that things might settle one day, but Pakistan has always disappointed.
“An enemy is an enemy. You can only reach a peace deal with your enemy only if you call him an enemy. But just to break the ice in a meeting and make it cordial, you are calling your enemy, your brother, this is no way you can make peace.”
Admitting that Afghanistan’s policy towards Pakistan is full of blemishes, Saleh said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated that Pakistan has “launched an undeclared war against us”, but never discussed how to counter the undeclared war.
At times, in order to appease Pakistan, Afghanistan has been wary of declaring India as a defence ally. We keen explaining to Islamabad that India is our economically, cultural ally, Bollywood ally, but we should openly declare Indian our military ally,” said Saleh
Saleh accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and cited the examples of Mullah Mansoor, Osama bin Laden, Haqqanis, Mullah Omar, Taliban’s Quetta Shura, as having had taken shelter in Pakistan.
“If this is known, why are we putting our entire force to kill the expendable Taliban, not their strategic centre? So those who say we fought and it didn’t work, we have to have a definition for the fight, where did we fight them. Wherever we fought them, they got defeated. We did not fight them in Pakistan that is where they are alive,” he said.