Heading for War

Istanbul (CNN)One of the world’s most volatile regions was roiled further Tuesday when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey said it hit the plane after it violated Turkey’s airspace and ignored 10 warnings.

One of the two pilots was killed in the air by fire from the ground, according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti. The fate of the second pilot wasn’t disclosed.

Meanwhile, a Russian marine was killed on Tuesday during an operation to rescue the two pilots, who were flying an Su-24 warplane in a combat sortie, according to RIA Novosti.

Turkey and Russia exchanged bellicose language after the downing of the plane, raising fears in the international community that the Syrian conflict could spiral into something wider.

The Russian plane was dealt with because it “did not answer our warning,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

ISIS isn’t present at that border area, but Turkmen were there, Erdogan said. Anyone who bombs that area attacks “our brothers and sisters — Turkmen,” Erdogan said in Ankara. Turkmen are a Turkic-speaking, traditionally nomadic people who live primarily in Central Asia, but a small minority of them can be found in the Middle East, primarily in northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

Barbara, the Idealistic Rebel

Sunday Afternoon

I spent the day cooking and baking, in preparation for Thanksgiving.  I do my best cooking when there’s Rock’n’Roll on the stereo, so I thought I’d share a couple of the tunes that get me cookin’!


Barbara the Idealistic Rebel and Chief Chef









A Dose of Reality About Syrian Refugees

My sister found this on Facebook, posted by an Immigration Lawyer named Scott Hicks. It does a wonderful job of explaining why pretending to be a refugee is the LEAST attractive, MOST difficult method for terrorists to get into any particular country, and into the United States in particular.

Please read this and tell me how denying entry to those fleeing for their lives makes us safer?  Tell me how it makes us anything more than fearful bigots?  Tell me how it makes ISIL weaker, when their ultimate goal is turn the world against all Muslims, so Muslims have nowhere to go but to ISIL?

Scott Hicks

November 19, 2015 Edited ·

Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.

I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.

The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.

First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.

Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.

We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.

First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.

Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.

Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.

At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.

Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.

Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.

Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.

The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.


Saturday we took a day trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was lovely and we set out for Bat Cave, NC which was a lot of fun and then we drove to Black Mountain and went to the Light Center. I have been there often but it was Amy’s first time. It is used for healing and meditation. Then we drove into Black Mountain and had dinner and drove home to Arden.

It was such a lovely day and even though most of the leaves have dropped there were still bits of color. Here are some of the pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them.


The Light Center. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The Light Center. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015


A lovely day on the parkway. Photograph and copyright  by  

                     Barbara Mattio 2015           


The day is beginning to end. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

The day is beginning to end. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015


A flat stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

A flat stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015



Chapel in a little knoll. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Chapel in a little knoll.
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015



Losing the light. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Losing the light. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015


North Carolina is the evergreen state and I am really glad there are so many here. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

North Carolina is the evergreen state and I am really glad there are so many here. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015




Photograph  and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015


Some areas still have a little bit of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Some areas still have a little bit of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015




  Bat Cave NC is very old. There is the cave and the bats come out at night and  they feast on mosquitoes in the stream. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio   2015




Bat Cave's general store. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Bat Cave’s general store. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015




The bat cave store is filled with many oddities that I haven't seen since I was a little girl. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The bat cave store is filled with many oddities that I haven’t seen since I was a little girl. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015


Local color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Local color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015




The brooks are all running full. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The brooks are all running full. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Stand by Me





Speak your truth.

Listen when others speak theirs, too.

when you let go of fear, you will learn to love others;

and you will let them love you.

Do not be afraid of dying.

But do not be afraid to live.

Ask yourself what that means.

Open your hearts to love, for that is why you’r here.

And know that you are, and always have been One

with Me and all who live.

— Melody Beattie, author





Let us be united;

Let us speak in harmony;

Let our minds apprehend alike.

Common be our prayers;

Common be the end of our assembly;

Common be our resolution;

Common be our deliberations.

Alike be our feelings;

Unified be our hearts;

Common be our intentions;

Perfect be our unity.

—Rig Veda, Hindu


All people united in One World living in peace and harmony.

All people united in One World living in peace and harmony.


Teaching Peace

Le Petit Journal posted this video in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, and I wanted to share it with you.  It is important that we teach Peace to our children, and that we make sure they do not grow up afraid of others, because fear breeds hatred and violence.  There will always be bad men, but good men can overcome them with Peace, Love, Compassion, Kindness and Gentleness; and, yes, Flowers and Candles.

Barbara The Idealistic RebelParisPeaceSign






Humanity is Swimming in Pain

The past couple of weeks have been sad and horrifying. Every corner of the world is grieving. My prayer is for the families and friends of all the people who were murdered in cold blood for no important reason. Young people who never had the time to fall in love. Grandparents who will not see their grandchildren grow up. Children who will never have another adventure or kiss their mommies goodnight. Spouses who will never spoon with their partners. Children who will never hug and kiss their parents again.


The pain whirling around the world is heavy and dark. When you lose someone you never really recover. You learn to survive, often with help from your friends. Some are able to move on the thrive once again. It takes time, lots of painful time. I pray, to whatever is Divine, that they will not be alone and that they will feel Divine love wrapping itself around them. And I pray that the leaders of the 206 countries on our planet will be filled with Divine wisdom, compassion, gentleness, kindness and love. You and I need to pray for all our leaders to put politics aside and care about stopping the insanity.







from lightworkers



142 students killed in Kenya. Where’s the international outrage?

Earlier this month, Kenya was rocked with a terror attack that left 148 people dead. Of those, 142 were students.

The brutal massacre happened April 2 at Garissa University College in the eastern part of the country close to the porous Somali border.

Members of the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility — calling it revenge for Kenyan troops fighting Somali rebels in 2011. This same group gained international attention in 2013 when they brutally killed 67 people at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.

At Garissa, a handful of militants stormed the campus. After separating Muslims from Christians, they killed the Christians execution style.

The New York Times called it the worst terror attack against the nation since 1998 when the US embassy was bombed in the capital. Yet, many felt the atrocity did not garner as much attention as other international terrorist attacks. The frustration played out on social media with tweets like this


Augustus Otu @AugustusOtu When #CharlieHebdo went down,the world stood up for them. When #Garissa went down, the world forgot its feet. 5:50 PM – 3 Apr 2015

Terrorism theorist Max Abrahms, from Northeastern University said there is no one explanation, but thinks there is an element of racism at play.

“In the Garissa University attack, both the perpetrator and the victims are black and that may help to explain why the international community paid relatively little attention,” he said. “Another explanation is I believe there is probably weak local media coverage within Kenya . We didn’t actually watch in real time and that’s different say than in the case of Charlie Hebdo. ”

The twelve French cartoonists were mourned from every corner of the globe in January. In that very same week, hundreds were massacred in the city of Baga in Nigeria. With little attention, Nigerians used the only tool that seemed effective — a hashtag — #JeSuisNigerian.

And now Kenyans, in hopes their loved ones will never be forgotten are sharing pictures of when the victims were alive using the hashtag “#147isnotjustanumber,” a reference to the initial victim count.

Since the attack, the Kenyan government vowed they will respond in the severest way possible. Last week they bombed two Al-Shabab training camps.


beirut iraq paris syria


43 murdered by ISIS in Beirut with no FB flags, no world vigils, and little mention—أين هو الإعلام


“Where are you, Media?” ask the people of Beirut.

When Paris, France was attacked by ISIS terrorists Friday night, the news of 20 being killed spread throughout the world within seconds. In horror, we witnessed the number of Parisian casualties grow quickly. An outpour of messages for the victims and their families, expressing  concern, compassion, and prayers, still saturates Social Media. There have been tributes, lighted monuments, and speeches by world leaders. Mainstream Media and Social Media have had the Paris attacks in their headlines for three days straight. But the the world and the media have failed 43 human beings who lost their lives in Beirut, Lebanon, one day before the Paris attacks. And we have failed the 200 injured, some critically.

Like Paris, Beirut was attacked by the terrorist group ISIS who have gloated responsibility for the savage massacre. Like Paris, Beirut citizens were taken by surprise with explosions on busy city streets. But unlike Paris, many around the world are still unaware of the Beirut slaughter.

Anne Barnard of The New York Times reports:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ali Awad, 14, was chopping vegetables when the first bomb struck. Adel Tormous, who would die tackling the second bomber, was sitting at a nearby coffee stand. Khodr Alaa Deen, a registered nurse, was on his way to work his night shift at the teaching hospital of the American University at Beirut, in Lebanon.

All three died, along with 40 others, but there have been no Facebook profile flags created that now swarm the social media networks. No world ‘moments of silence/prayer’ have been observed. This rightfully hurts and angers the innocent civilians of Beirut.

“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog. “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in THOSE parts of the world.”

There was also great heroism that day in Beirut. As one of the suicide bombers approached a crowd, a Beirut resident, who was out with his daughter, made a courageous decision that cost him his life, and saved the lives of many others. Joyce Hackel of PRI quotes Elle Fares.

“He tackled him to the ground, causing the second suicide bomber to detonate,” says blogger and physician Elie Fares, who lives in Beirut. “There are many many families, hundreds of families probably, who owe their completeness to his sacrifice.”

Here is a video with a voice over. It depicts just some of the Beirut massacre and the ISIS destruction.





There are some people and some countries that are blaming Syrian refugees for the attacks in Paris and Beirut, as if the only reason ISIS is choosing to murder in certain cities is because they are chasing down refugees. As absurd as that sounds, what may be worse is that many people have become emotionally immune to the plight of Syrian refugees and consider them a nuisance. Barnard continues her NYT piece with a quote by a Syrian woman named Nour Kabbach who fled her country and who now works in Beirut helping and aiding others. Kabbach says:

“Imagine if what happened in Paris last night would happen there on a daily basis for five years,” said Nour Kabbach,

“Now imagine all that happening without global sympathy for innocent lost lives, with no special media updates by the minute, and without the support of every world leader condemning the violence,” she wrote on Facebook. Finally, she said, ask yourself what it would be like to have to explain to your child why an attack in “another pretty city like yours” got worldwide attention and your own did not.

JeSuisParis (I am Paris). أنا بيروت (I am Beirut). أنا سورية (I am Syria). I am, we are—the world.


whoeverkils qran



Barbara, the Idealistic Rebel