Spring has Really Arrived


Forsythia in bloom Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Forsythia in bloom
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Well, as you may or may not know, I had the first of the cataract surgeries. My eye is remarkably improved. This means that there was a lot I was not seeing. The next surgery is April 6 and then I won’t have one eye that works and one that doesn’t.

 

During my time off, spring arrived here in North Carolina. Daffodils are up and blooming and trees and shrubs are blooming. I am including some of my photographs. Spring is much earlier here than what I am used to up North. I hope you enjoy.

 

bjwordpressdivider (1)

 

 

 

 

I want to photograph every tree! Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

I want to photograph every tree! Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

 

 

Spring is busting out everywhere. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Spring is busting out everywhere. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

IMG_2573

The Weeping Willows have all of their leaves now. Photograph                              and copyright

 

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

                         by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

 

Everywhere you look, there is color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Everywhere you look, there is color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

 

 

Spring Mountain sunset Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Spring Mountain sunrise
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

 

 

Camelia in bloom Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Camelia in bloom
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

What a wonderful time spring is. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

What a wonderful time spring is. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

 

 

 

Trees are budding out everywhere. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Trees are budding out everywhere. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

 

Time for gardening again. Photo and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Time for gardening again. Photo and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Obama, Call ISIS Tactics what they are: Genocide


Obama, call ISIS actions what they are: Genocide

International objections should descend upon the UN and NATO and Amnesty International. Public outcry can make a difference. If these organizations feel the pressure then they will work harder to protect the populations that are experiencing bigotry. I encourage letter writing and emails. Let us make the world understand that genocide will not be tolerated against anyone.

Namaste,

Barbara

Seeing Eye Sister – A guest blog


Hi, all

Our dear Rebel had the first of her cataracts removed today, and is resting her eyes.

The procedure went exceedingly well (once we got there, 1/2 an hour late, due to a bad accident on the highway on the way — we were not involved, just stuck behind it!) and she is resting her eyes.

Tomorrow, we see the surgeon for a quick follow-up and to schedule the other eye.

It may be a few days before she feels up to staring a computer screen, but all is well.

Just think how much more beautiful her pictures will be, when she can actually see properly!

I have been instructed to tell you all something funny.

All I know is that, since the procedure, she’s not hearing so well. She tells me, “they fixed my eye, and it affected my ears.”

Oh, and she’s lying on the bed a few feet away talking to herself. She thinks. (Seriously, I asked what she said, and she said, “I’m not talking to you.” Well, who are you talking to? “Me. I think.”) Could be a fun night!

Best regards,

The Sister

Hong Kong Maids treated like slaves


Hong Kong’s maids are often treated like slaves

LONDON, May 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Filipina maid in Hong Kong has published stark photographs of burned and beaten domestic workers to highlight the “modern slavery” she says has long been the city’s shameful secret.

“Hong Kong is a very modern, successful city but people treat their helpers like slaves,” said Xyza Cruz Bacani, whose black and white portraits won her a scholarship from the Magnum Foundation to start studying at New York University this month.

“The abuse happens behind doors. It’s common but no one talks about it, so I want to tell their stories, I want to tell people it’s not OK to treat your domestic workers that way.”

Bacani is one of the 330,000 domestic workers in the former British colony, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia.

She told how maids are frequently forced to sleep on toilets, kitchen floors, cabinet tops or even baby-changing tables because they are not given beds.

Many work up to 19-hour days. Some are underpaid or not paid at all. Others are denied food or beaten, she said.

“It was a big shock to me when I listened to their stories and they told me they slept on toilets, that their boss slapped them or their boss didn’t even feed them,” Bacani, a self-taught photographer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

“It shocked me how people could treat other people like that. It’s very barbaric. When I talk about it I feel angry.”

SHELTER FOR ABUSED WORKERS

Bacani, who comes from a village in Nueva Vizcaya, moved to Hong Kong when she was 19, giving up her nursing studies so she could help pay for her younger brother and sister’s schooling.

For the last decade she has worked alongside her mother for an Australian-Chinese businesswoman in the affluent Mid-Levels neighbourhood on Hong Kong island.

She rises at 5:30 most mornings, serves breakfast, cleans the apartment and looks after her boss’s six grandchildren, who visit almost daily.

But whether she is shopping in the market or taking the children to the park, she always has her camera in her bag.

Last year Bacani volunteered at Bethune House, a shelter for abused domestic helpers, and was horrified by what she saw.

“Many work until 1 a.m. and start again at 5. They work every day without stopping. I have friends who are underpaid and others have been physically hurt,” she said.

“It’s modern slavery. It’s 2015 and people should be more educated, but still it happens.”

THIRD DEGREE BURNS

Bacani’s most shocking photos are of a Filipina woman called Shirley who suffered extensive third degree burns when a pot of boiling soup fell on her after someone left it on a rack.

Her boss said it was an accident, but Bacani says he refused Shirley medical leave and fired her after she fainted.

The maid started legal proceedings but appeared to be getting nowhere. Bacani says things changed when the CNN website reproduced her photos of Shirley’s burns.

“After we published some of the images her boss paid her compensation for her injuries, her dismissal and three years of salary because she cannot work,” Bacani said.

Shirley’s story is not uncommon. The abuse suffered by the city’s domestic workers made headlines this year when a Hong Kong woman was jailed for six years for attacking and abusing her Indonesian maids and threatening to kill their relatives.

The case sparked calls for Hong Kong’s government to revise its policies on migrant workers.

Campaigners say domestic workers are often reluctant to report abuse for fear of being deported, trapping them in a cycle of exploitation.

The government stipulates employers should provide reasonable accommodation, free food and a minimum monthly wage of HK$4,110 ($530).

But Bacani says many maids are paid less, especially Indonesians who are often treated worse than Filipinas, partly because of the language barrier.

She describes herself as “one of the few lucky ones”. She says her boss is a “great lady” who encouraged her to apply for the Magnum programme, which aims to help photographers tell stories that can advance human rights in their home countries.

Bacani plans to return to Hong Kong later this year to mount an exhibition of her images of domestic workers.

“Awareness brings change,” she says. “I hope my work can change people’s perspective on domestic workers and help end this modern slavery.” (Reporting by Emma Batha, Editing by Katie Nguyen)

 

Cathedrals of Eternity


Galstonbury Tor, Sacred Spiral Hill

Galstonbury Tor, Sacred Spiral Hill

The nature of sacred places is comparable to the nature of the divine in that nothing is unrelated to them. Our life’s destination is not a place, but a new way of looking at things.

Sacred places are perceptions of reality

Sacred places are not locations but events where all time is eternal time

Sacred places are sites for remembering

Sacred places are renewed crucibles of consciousness

Sacred places are an encyclopedia of self-knowledge

Sacred places are time capsules from ourselves to ourselves

Sacred places are portals to eternity

Sacred places are a geography of the imagination

Sacred places are centers of the sacred and profane

Sacred places are realms of things to come.

 

“River banks lined with

green willows, fragrant

grasses:

A place not sacred?

Where?”

——-Sayings of the Masters

 

“I’m too religious to believe in religion. You don’t have to believe in a sacred world. It slaps you in the face. It is everywhere.”

                      —-an eighty year old Hungarian friend to Gretel Ehrlich, poet and novelist

 

“We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.”

                        —Ansel Adams, photographer

 

“To acquire the awareness of the Divine, one need not journey to any special region or place. It is enough if the eye is turned inwards. I the Bhagavadgita, the Inner Reality, the Atma, is described as “splendorous like a billion suns.” But man has not become aware of the light or power within.”

—Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Indian avatar

 

bjwordpressdivider (1)

“We have seen, you and I, the laughing sirens of the trees.

We have been fortunate because, it is said, they are rarely seen, if ever, that they never venture beyond the forest of pine and cedar but stay in the shadows of the thicket of the wood. It is said that these women you have seen cannot think for themselves, that their minds are not their own. It is said, that the women you have seen before your eyes go through life with no intent but to frolic, to make merry and to laugh. It is said that the young who fall and are seduced into their camp return not unto their own but stay with the creatures who think not and cannot reason to know what is good and what is evil. It is said that if in your ramblings you hear this laughter in the wood behind a tree, tarry not, but turn and go the other way. It is said that this is difficult to do when one is young.

—-Laughter Behind the Trees, from the                                                                                                    Tloo-Qwah-nah Ceremony, told by George Clutesi, Nootka writer and artist.

 

 

bjwordpressdivider (1)

 

“Here, my brothers, are the roots of trees, here are empty places; Meditate.”

—Ancient Buddhist Philosopher

 

Tree Awakening

Tree Awakening

“There is in India a tree whose property it is to plant itself. It spreads out mighty 

arms to the earth, where in the space of a single year the arms take root and put

forth anew.”       —Pliny (A.D. 70), on the wondrous Banyan tree

RainbowOverAsheville-3-14-2016

  Rainbow over the French Broad River, Arden, NC

  Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

 

“Stones, plants, animals, the earth, the sky, the stars, the elements, in fact everything

in the universe reveals to us the knowledge, power and the will of the Originator.”

—Abu Hamid Muhammad Al-Ghazzali, Persian                                                                               mystic, 1058-1111.

 

Old Man of the Hoh

Old Man of the Hoh

Cello Prodigy


 

Published on May 17, 2013

Sujari Britt has been playing music since she was 2-years-old and has been playing cello since she was 4. When she was 8, she performed for President Obama at the White House. In this episode of PRODIGIES, watch as she tackles a piece of music even her instructors say is far beyond her years.

Namaste,

Barbara

 

bjwordpressdivider (1)

The War in South Sudan


UN Cites ‘Horrendous’ Human Rights Situation in South Sudan

A U.N. report describing sweeping crimes like children and the disabled being burned alive and fighters being allowed to rape women as payment shows South Sudan is facing “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world,” the U.N. human rights chief said Friday.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein lamented the crisis in the nearly 5-year-old country has been largely overlooked by the international community, and his office said attacks against civilians, forced disappearances, rape and other violations could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The U.N report released Friday is the work of an assessment team deployed in South Sudan between October and January and says “state actors” bear most responsibility for the crimes. It said Zeid recommends that the U.N. Security Council consider expanding sanctions already in place by imposing a “comprehensive arms embargo” on South Sudan and consider referring the matter to the International Criminal Court if other judicial avenues fail.

In scorching detail, the report, which focused on events in 2015, cited cases of parents being forced to watch their children being raped, and said investigators had received information that some armed militias affiliated with government forces “raided cattle, stole personal property, raped and abducted women and girls” as a type of payment.

“The quantity of rapes and gang-rapes described in the report must only be a snapshot of the real total,” Zeid said in a statement. “This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world, with massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war, yet it has been more or less off the international radar.”

David Marshall, the U.N. human rights officer who coordinated the assessment team, told reporters in New York that the “machinery of violence” by the government needs to be dismantled.

“It was a reign of terror,” he said.

Also on Friday, human rights watchdog Amnesty International accused the South Sudanese government of war crimes after its troops allegedly suffocated 60 boys and men in a cargo container at a Catholic church and then dumped their bodies in an open field.

Amnesty said researchers spoke to 42 witnesses to the October incident, including 23 who said they saw the men and the boys being forced into one or more shipping containers and dead bodies being removed.

“We take seriously these allegations as a responsible government,” presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said of the Amnesty report. “The government has dispatched a team to investigate.”

He insisted government soldiers do not kill civilians.

However, Malaak Ayuen, director of information for the South Sudanese military, acknowledged that civilians had been killed amid the fighting.

“If the fighting takes places with you and your family in your room, certain things can get broken,” he said, adding that the rebels themselves are civilians because they do not wear uniform.

“When fighting takes place in the residential area definitely there will be casualties because of stray bullets,” Ayuen said. He said people being burned alive was the result of tracer bullets hitting grass huts by accident. To the reports of rape he said there was no evidence that government forces were involved.

The U.N. report said the human rights situation has “dramatically deteriorated” since South Sudan erupted into civil war in December 2013. The crisis stemmed from a falling-out between President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar, that boiled over into an armed rebellion. Tens of thousands have died and at least 2 million people have been displaced from their homes.

Machar has been reinstated as vice president part of a peace deal signed in August, but sporadic fighting and extra-judicial killings persist.

The 17-page report notes that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had already in May 2014 pointed to “reasonable grounds” to consider that crimes against humanity had been committed in South Sudan. In a sign that little has been done since then, the report said “the killings, sexual violence, displacement, destruction and looting that were the hallmarks of the conflict through 2014 continued unabated through 2015.”

Recommendations in previous reports to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, a 47-member body currently in session in Geneva, “remain largely unimplemented,” it said.

———

Patinkin reported from Juba, South Sudan. Associated Press writer Dave Bryan contributed from The United Nations.

bjwordpressdivider (1)

In my opinion, the UN needs to do more about the attacks on civilians than to write a report. While the reports are good, they are doing nothing to provide relief for the citizens who are suffering and they are not providing justice for all of the victims of the murders and rapes. The world needs to take this on and to speak out against the atrocities and protect the civilian population from further rape, murder and torture.

 

I think we need to be writing to the UN and to Amnesty International to stop the slaughter of human lives. The victims of this civil war in South Sudan need to have a voice. And they need to be protected from the anger and hatred of the soldiers who are fighting this war. Women and children are not involved and when rebels take this war to the villages and harm, torture, and rape and kill, there is no place these civilians can flee to. People are suffering needlessly because the soldiers are using them as weapons. It is horrifying and despicable.

 

We need a civilized end to this warfare. There needs to be a peace accord and surrounding countries need to bring both sides to the table to talk about a peaceful conclusion to this war. It doesn’t accomplish anything and war ends many lives. For the sake of the victims, we need to make a peace that will hold and keep the citizens of the South Sudan safe and unharmed.

 

Namaste,

Barbarabjwordpressdivider (1)

 

According to the UN report, militias operated under a “do what you can and take what you can” agreement that allowed them to rape and abduct women and girls as a form of payment.

They also raided cattle and stole personal property, it added.

‘Killed for looking’

The scale and type of sexual violence committed in South Sudan constitute some of the most horrendous human rights abuses in the world, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said

  • One woman said she had watched her 15-year-old daughter being raped by 10 soldiers after her husband was killed
  • Another said she had been stripped naked and raped by five soldiers in front of her children on the roadside
  • Witnesses told investigators that several women had been abducted and held in sexual slavery as “wives” for soldiers in the barracks
  • Young-looking women were specifically targeted and raped by about ten men, one witness said. In some cases, those who tried to resist or even looked at their rapists were killed, she added

The UN said government forces and allied militias had gang-raped girls and cut civilians to pieces. It also accused opposition fighters of committing human rights abuses.

 

Sexual slavery can be stopped, if we all want it to stop

Abduction and torture, including rape of civilians must stop. Rape is not the prize for soldiers who are fighting.