International Women’s Day Past, Present and Future

International Women's DayAnyone who did a Google search today was made aware that March 8 is International Women’s Day. What exactly is the origin of International Women’s Day and what is its significance?

First National Women’s Day Declared by American Socialist Party

The first observance of National Women’s Day took place on February 28, 1909 in accordance with a declaration made by the Socialist party of America, and was subsequently celebrated on the last Sunday of February every year. The following year the Socialist International met in Copenhagen and gave Women’s Day an international character. The main thrust of the movement was to give women equal rights with men, especially in the desire for universal suffrage (voting rights) for women.

On March 19, 1911 over one million men and women participated in rallies throughout Europe and the US to give women the right to hold public office, vote,  work, and receive vocational training and end job discrimination. The following week on March 25, the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York claimed the lives of 140 young women and girls, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants. This disaster lead to crucial changes in labor laws in the United States, legislating humane working conditions for all workers.

International Women’s Day Precipitated the Russian Revolution

In subsequent years the day was used to protest for peace, especially when World War I was brewing on the horizon. In 1917 Russian women took to the streets for “Bread and Peace” in the wake of 2 million Russian soldiers who had been killed during WW I. Despite the fact that political leaders in Russia were against the timing of the strike the women protested anyway, on International Women’s Day, which fell that year on February 23 according to the Julian calendar, which was then still in use in Russia. Four days later the Czar was forced to resign his leadership and the provisional government that was established subsequently gave women the right to vote.

Because February 23rd in Russia was March 8 in the United States and most other places around the world, International Women’s Day is now universally recognized to fall on March 8 every year.

The UN and International Women’s Day

Today the United Nations takes an active role in supporting the goals of International Women’s Day, promoting and protecting the rights of women all over the world. When the UN Charter was signed in San Francisco in 1945 it was the first and only internationally recognized agreement which stated that a fundamental human right was equality regardless of gender. The foundationall idea fueling the drive to giving women full equality is the belief that there can never be a real, lasting solution to the world’s most threatening political, social and economic problems without the total participation and complete empowerment of the women of the world.

Last American Veteran of World War I Passes Away At 110

The man believed to be the last remaining U.S. veteran of World War I passed away this week at the age of 110. Frank Buckles celebrated his last birthday on February 1st. The Missouri native lied about his age in order to join the army when he was just 16 years old, and was one of almost 5 million Americans to survive the war in 1917 and 1918.

“I knew there’d be only one [survivor] someday. I didn’t think it would be me,” he was quoted as saying some time before his death.

Buckles was an ambulance driver during the war. He was captured and held for 38 months by the Japanese in 1941 during World War II, while working in Manila.

Obama Gets Ribbed for Ordering Ribs

Michelle Obama came under fire for her ‘less than pc’ choice of entrée at Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail Village, where the first lady is spending President’s weekend with her daughters and some friends. Ms. Obama chose the braised ancho-chile short rib along with hominy wild mushrooms, sautéed kale, and pickled pumpkins salad with arugula.

Ms. Obama is being accused of hypocrisy by poorly informed opponents for ordering such a ‘fattening’ main course who have claimed that the rib contains 1500 calories with 141 grams of fat.

Kelly Liken, the restaurant’s owner begs to differ. According to her braised short ribs are relatively lean; the braising cooks off a majority of the fat. The 5 ounce serving she offered Ms. Obama is closer to 600 calories, making her meal a healthy choice, as Ms. Liken explained, “A proper 5-ounce portion of protein is what nutritionists say we should have.”

But why all the fuss? Who cares what Michelle Obama eats for dinner? It appears that Obama has been working hard to promote healthy eating as part of her anti-obesity campaign.

Eating at Kelly Liken’s establishment was actually quite consistent with her message of eating well since the restaurant associated with the Brush Creek Elementary School’s Sowing Seeds program in which students grow their own vegetables in a green house, some of which are eventually served to them for lunch at school. Ms. Liken also uses the school-grown produce whenever she can. Liken explained her feelings about food and the first lady in the following statements:

“The food at Restaurant Kelly Liken is the healthiest food you can get in a restaurant. I want to nourish the people who eat it, to teach people they don’t have to sacrifice taste and texture to eat nutritious and healthy foods. It was refreshing to see how interested she (Obama) really was and how passionate about the kids’ healthy lunches, as well as the movement to eat locally here in the Vail Valley,” Liken said.

Strong Winds Topple Christmas Trees Across Northeast

National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree

Coming on the tail of unseasonably warm weather, a cold front howled its way into the northeastern United States with winds gusting up to as high as 53mph in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Several Christmas trees were knocked over by the intense blowing, the most noteworthy being the National Christmas tree which is located on the Ellipse right outside the White House . The tree has been there since 1978 when it was relocated from York, Pennsylvania.

The official website of the “First Tree” explains that the tree was 15 years old and 30-feet tall when it was replanted in front of the White House in 1978. Until Saturday the tree stood to a height of almost 42 feet.

According to a spokesperson for the National Parks Service a new tree to replace the downed Colorado blue spruce has already been chosen, since it was predicted that the tree could be toppled at any moment. The new tree is expected to arrive within the next few weeks.

Earthquake Near Mt. St. Helens Causes Concern

On Monday morning a 4.3 on the Richter scale earthquake hit in the area not far from the notorious volcano Mount Saint Helens. The medium-sized earthquake was followed by 30 common, but worrying, smaller aftershocks. According to USGS Seismologist Seth Moran the center of the quake was at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and registered on seismic devices as far away as Mt. Rainier and Timberline Lodge.

Moran also said that the quake itself lasted about 3-5 seconds while shaking from the quake took three minutes to subside. The location is precisely six miles north-northwest of the volcano and about 3 miles below ground. Although many felt the quake there were no reports of damage. This moderate earthquake is the largest in what the USGS is calling a ‘swarm’ of quakes; a series of earthquakes ranging in size from 1.3 to 2.6 which occurred in the last week of January.

TSA Head Disallows Screening Parntership Program

The Transportation Security Administration has decided to halt the program which allows private security screeners to replace government screeners at airports. The little known Screening Partnership Program was deemed acceptable one month ago when the TSA expressed a “neutral” opinion on the program. Now in use by 16 airports around the country, the head of the TSA John Pistole said on Friday that he will not allow any expansion of the program, justifying his decision by saying that he could not “see any advantage to it. ”

The Screening Partnership Program gave airports the ability to hire their own screeners privately to replace the TSA personnel. They wear similar uniforms to TSA agents, meet TSA standards and are supervised by the TSA directly. Airports chose to hire replacement agents in response to all the bad publicity that TSA agents received last December  for their overly zealous behavior when giving ‘pat-downs’ which many travelers called ‘intrusive. ’

Republican Representative from Florida, John Mica, sent a letter which encouraged more airports to privatize their screening, believing that non-government agents would be more amenable to public needs and opinions. That was when the TSA neither endorsed nor discouraged the program. But on Friday the Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri was denied permission to join the program. Pistole stated at that time that additional applications will also be denied.

"I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time," Pistole said.