Saturday, May 18, 2019

#RandomThoughts.....



It has been quite a week as our World was witness to potential war and engaged in a Trade War.   I continued to again be upbeat and begin the weekend on a high note in my virtual corner on the eve of the weekend.   The need to be optimistic and upbeat is ever so critical--why I chose him is that he's the same guy who caused a stir in Iran as all kids took the queue and danced to his music which caused a lot of irritation among officials--I was so glad to add to their irritation as I did my small part to help spread the joy and happiness of the kids as they danced away--one of the clips is pinned to my Personal Twitter Feed and I'll have it there for a very very long time!!

Onward to the Week-End!!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Out & About With Brief #RandomThoughts



I decided to open my #RandomThought w/this depiction of the reality in Iran today on how joy and happiness has been trampled upon by the regime in Iran.   It has  also  been quite a week and quite a month already in our World.     The Team at the Daily Outsider decided to celebrate the weekend by releasing a "Virtual Musical Interlude" Throughout the Properties--In that spirit, I decided to release this on one of my favorite films from India-Fidda:


It is the story of a strong, self-confident girl whom in the end finds the love of her life.    It has also been a week that has been, frankly, challenging.    The worrisome developments out of Iran continues to be absolutely distressing    as the currency collapses, the potential threat of War looms which has led to the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln along with rumors of Iranian moves against the United States--including a late breaking development of deploying B-52's to the region.     Over 6 Million People have left Iran--the equivalent of the population of Denmark as there are rumors of a change in leadership from Khameini to his son.      Our team at the Daily Outsider will continue to assess this over the ensuing days and week--but this lifted my spirits:    


I have featured this particular clip on my Twitter Feed and so glad I could contribute to them being "upset"--I will do whatever I can in that regard as I note #WeWillReClaimIran.

One of the highlights of the past number of months was when I joined the Point in Time Survey and It was so great to be witness to it--It was so nice of the team at City Net to have sent this as I reviewed this and it is a pleasure to share:



#THANKFULTHURSDAY

Orange County Network,

We are extremely thankful to have partnered with the County of Orange to fulfill the HUD Point In Time Count requirement via theEveryone Counts OC initiative.

On April 24, 2019, the County of Orange released the results of the 2019 Point In Time count. More than 1,000 volunteers across Orange County counted 6,860 individuals experiencing homelessness. Of those, 2,899 were sheltered while 3,961 were unsheltered. Your efforts helped collect valuable information that the County of Orange will use to ensure resources are distributed to best serve those experiencing homelessness.

We deeply appreciate the opportunity to have played a role in the project and are thankful for all our volunteers and community partners that made this Point in Time count so successful.

Check out the 2019 Point In Time recap video below and the County of Orange’s press release and 2019 Point In Time Summary by clicking here.

With thanks,

City Net
The Orange County Team


This video was filmed at one of 6 deployment centers, the Orange County Community Resources deployment center, and does not visually include all volunteers, service-providing partners and government agencies that were involved. We appreciate everyone's contributions to make the events possible. 


I also decided to finally bit the bullet and write the White House primarily focused on drug pricing--I wonder if I would get a response as I note this acknowledgment:   
May 7, 2019
Thank you for contacting the White House. We are carefully reviewing your message.

President Donald J. Trump believes the strength of our country lies in the spirit of the American people and their willingness to stay informed and get involved. President Trump appreciates you taking the time to reach out.


Sincerely,
The Office of Presidential Correspondence

I captured this courtesy of the great Vala Afshar as I close out these #RandomThoughts for the Week: 







Onward...



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Out & About in the Community On Quite a Month : Brief Thoughts



It has been quite a month of challenges.    For me, the opportunity to be engaged in the Community was the highlight of hope epitomized by joining the Taste of Aliso Niguel that saw some 1700 people attend a fabulous night this past Saturday and as I joined the Blood Drive at Aliso Niguel HIgh School this past Monday.    The need to remain upbeat, optimistic and forward looking is ever so critical.      I elect to remain optimistic as I say May here we come!!

Onward!!



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

On the Prowl w/a "Thought For the Week" On the Question of "Who Am I"?



I had the good fortune to attend a Two-Day Workshop on Digital Story Telling--as in many ways I have been telling a story throughout my Founders' Corner and in support of the Work of the Daily Outsider--it was just a fabulous two days of insights, discourse with some fabulous souls at the Library of the Canyons in Silverado Canyon.      It was an extremely reflective two days--and that's putting it mildly!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

As a New Week Dawns....

It was quite a weekend that began with celebrating Earth Day at the Niguel Botannical Preseve:



I joined the Orange County Boy Scouts as work was done on the Trail To Eagle--it is always a joy to be witness to such selfless commitment to service.     I also worked on projects for the Daily Outsider which I hope all visitors enjoy that will be available throughout the week.     Easter Sunday began, though, with attending Easter Mass and thereafter joining the family for an Easter Brunch.    It was quite a tragic weekend, too, as the bombing in Sri Lanka left over 200 dead--I remain optimistic and upbeat in spite of it all as I say Onward!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

On the Eve of Easter Week-End: Some #RandomThoughts

It is Easter Week-End.  For me, it begin with an evening of Service Thursday Night at Aliso Niguel High School as I assisted with staffing the Traffic Safety Workshop and continued on Friday with a morning of service at St. Timothy's Parish before getting back to work working on Projects in support of the Daily Outsider.   I decided to go dark for Easter Week-End as Earth Day 2019 is also celebrated in Laguna Niguel as I close out with these Random Thoughts: 





Happy Easter, Happy Passover and Happy Earth Day!!!


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Out & About w/Brief Mid-Week #RandomThoughts


I have been seeing the reports out of Iran regarding the floods and the numbers are just absolutely horrific--for instance, the headline (although in farsi) reflects as of this clip I picked up some 12,000 Kil (almost 25 thousand miles)--which corresponds to almost 70 percent of the roads in the Country.   What was emblematic was how the Governor of Khuzestan in Southern Iran told off a victim of the floods--and although the Interior Minister ordered the victim to be "consoled", it underscores the total lack of regard shown in the aftermath of this horrific disaster.      

Beyond the horrors of Iran, there are the horrors of the future.   I picked this up from Fortune--and what is so unfortunate and sad is how such is not the focus in the United States as the World is marching on--if only America had a President that understood the magnitutde of the challenge instead of claiming "the Country is full":

Eye on A.I.
Eye on A.I.

APRIL 9, 2019
Chinese tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are rapidly improving their artificial intelligence, challenging current U.S. tech leaders like Google and Amazon.
China’s so-called BAT companies, as New York University business professor and futurist Amy Webb calls them in her latest book, The Big Nine, get a big boost from their government’s funding and tech-friendly policies. Government support has helped embed the BAT companies’ technologies across China, in everything from mobile messaging and e-commerce, to digital payments and health care.
In an interview with Fortune, Webb contrasted the relationship between China’s government and that country’s A.I. titans with their U.S counterparts and the Trump Administration. In short, the gap is huge—and it could have profound implications for the U.S. economy.
The White House and Pentagon have “very little understanding of what A.I. actually is and how it actually works,” Webb says, mincing few words. This hamstrings the U.S. government from implementing A.I. policies similar to China’s that are aimed at creating a skilled workforce.
In China, some grade school children are taught A.I.’s fundamentals. In the U.S., well, not so much.
Meanwhile, some U.S. tech workers are at war with their government, exemplified by Google’s employees protesting the search giant’s military contracts that involve A.I. The tensions, Webb says, make it more difficult for the U.S. government to harness the best A.I. technology.
Her remedy is for U.S. tech companies to be more transparent about their government work. The more secretive they are the more they breed distrust.
At the same time, U.S. political leaders like Sen. Elizabeth Warren increasingly criticize the tech industry while accusing them of potential anti-trust violations. It’s a sharp contrast to China, where corporations and government work together, including on luring back U.S. educated Chinese techies to work for Chinese companies.
In China, “nobody is going to be using their political campaigns to point fingers to garner votes,” Webb says.
Eventually, she expects China to ingrain itself more into the economies of other countries, giving its BAT companies greater business access. Italy’s recent decision to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, intended to spread Chinese infrastructure and products worldwide, foreshadows things to come.
For example, China could encourage developing countries to adopt aspects of its A.I.-powered social credit system, a controversial approach to giving individual citizens the equivalent of Yelp scores that factor into everything from getting loans to being able to travel. It may not be this year or the next year, Webb says, but perhaps 10 years from now, eventually weakening the U.S. government and the influence of U.S. tech companies worldwide.
“I think democracy is at stake—I’m not joking,” Webb says. “I think our way of living is at stake and the future of how we do business globally is at stake.”
Jonathan Vanian
@JonathanVanianjonathan.vanian@fortune.com


Sunday, April 7, 2019

#RandomThoughts While out & about.....

I was witness to Democracy once again as I had the pleasure to serve in the Special Elections.   This update I got was quite exciting about how Voters continue to be empowered through the innovative thinking by our local Registrar of Voters:


It is this along with the continued opportunity stay engaged that sustains my sense of hope--up and including the opportunity I had to serve as Principal for the Day at the John Malcolm School in Laguna Niguel to understand the challenges of our public schools.   But such hope has been tempered by the biblical storms in Iran--that continues right now and how Government continues to fail and fail miserably--the news is just tragic and distressing as Water continues to makes its' way down south.  Some 400,000 people are in the path of the floods and the reporting from the VOA's Radio Farda has been tough to listen to. 

As  I was pleased to see how the International Committee of the Red Cross Red Crescent Society underscored how there was no prohibition against helping.     I released this courtesy of Tavana--sometimes images are worth trillions of tweets and words:


Remaining Hopeful especially as I caught these on how selfless souls are stepping up everywhere throughout the drought areas:

An Army Colonel on his knees deep in Water helping the Elderly get on the Truck to Evacuate 

A Pediatrician Who Volunteered to Serve in the drought stricken area and serve in the Field Hospital




Thursday, April 4, 2019

Out & About w/Brief Thoughts re #IranFloods & Other Thoughts

It is not easy to be really upbeat as I captured scenes from my forays over the Social Grid over the past two weeks as Iran grappled with the floods of biblical Proportions--a danger that still persists: 



Add caption



  I was also so glad to see how the lies by Regime officials was dispelled forcefully by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society and the State Department in spite of my reservations about their recent pronouncements on the effect of the Sanctions.  One of the leading opposition figures in the United States, Mohsen Sazegara, advised on his daily broadcast that he had paid a personal visit to the State Department and was assured there was on prohibition in this regard.

Iranian Civil Organizations are spearheading a fundraiser--which I had the pleasure to contribute to--as I note this from my Facebook Page--as my son beautifully noted, every little bit helps:

I would just note: #WeWillReClaimIran!!!  

PS-This update is also worth noting from the Center For  Human Rights in Iran that underscores the critical nature of the continued challenge faced in Iran right now:


US, Iran and EU Must All Take Steps to Ensure International Aid Reaches Iran Floods Victims​

US Sanctions and Iranian Mismanagement Preventing Critically Needed Aid
April 4, 2019 –The US and EU should immediately take steps to ensure that Iran receives humanitarian aid to assist disaster relief efforts in the wake of devastating floods that have killed dozens and caused millions of dollars of damage to homes and infrastructure, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.
Further, the Iranian government must ensure that the aid is effectively and evenly distributed, with full financial transparency.
“While the Iranian people are dealing with the devastation caused by more than two weeks of flash flooding, the authorities in Iran cast blame, the US issues empty declarations of support, and the EU has so far been unable to deliver tangible humanitarian support,” said CHRI’s Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
“Lives are being lost; it is urgent for all parties to ensure that political disputes do not impede Iranians’ access to full and effective disaster relief,” Ghaemi added.
On April 3, 2019, Ahmad Shojaei, the head of Iran’s state-funded Medical Forensic Organization, reported that 62 people had died so far as a result of flooding that began in Iran on March 19 and has since affected 23 of the country’s 31 provinces.
The hardest-hit provinces are in south and central Iran, including Fars, Isfahan and Lorestan, though provinces in the north including Golestan and Mazandaran were also affected. The governor of Khuzestan Province had declared a state of emergency after flooding swallowed buildings and bridges in his region on March 31.
Disaster relief efforts in the wake of the floods have been hindered on many fronts. While humanitarian trade is permitted under US sanctions, US secondary sanctions affecting international banking transactions have made many banks reluctant to handle even permissible trade with Iran.
On April 2, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief.”
But Iranian officials have stated that Iran has been unable to receive aid due to US sanctions.
Yet sanctions are not the only issue affecting Iran. The country’s refusal to comply with international banking standards has resulted in many international banks refusing to handle allowable financial transactions related to Iran.
“For banks, it’s not just about being sanctioned for dealing with Iran,” said Erich Ferrari, an expert on US economic sanctions and export controls. “By working with Iran, they open themselves up to a host of issues and scrutiny. For example, they could be penalized or scrutinized by their regulators for not having sufficient anti-money laundering controls in place.”
The EU set up the Special Purpose Vehicle after the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and reinstatement of US sanctions specifically to enable financial transactions for permissible humanitarian trade with Iran. But so far the mechanism has been beset with logistical problems and has not yet become operational.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government has been harshly criticized inside Iran for its mismanagement, in terms of preventative flood measures that should have been instituted, early warnings and notifications as the floods began to hit, and continued disaster relief efforts.
Iran’s refusal so far to adhere to international banking standards has only added to the country’s difficulties and financial isolation.
Call to the US Government:
The US Treasury should publicly and explicitly issue a statement that addresses ambiguities regarding sanctions compliance and fears regarding US penalties. It should emphasize that trade with Iran in humanitarian and essential goods such as foods, medicines and supplies are exempt from sanctions and permissible, and state which unsanctioned banks are permitted to handle such trade.
Call to the Iranian Government:
The authorities in Iran should designate a financial channel to handle transactions that complies with international banking standards, ensure humanitarian aid is distributed effectively and transparently beginning with the regions hardest-hit by the floods, and implement mechanisms to ensure human rights are not violated during relief efforts.
Call to the European Union:
The EU should urgently accelerate the process of implementing its Special Purpose Vehicle, allowing it to assume the role it was designed for, namely, to enable financial transactions for permissible humanitarian trade with Iran.
The quandary facing the Iranian people, who have played no role in Iran’s ongoing political disputes, is reflected in a statement by the head of the International Red Cross: “In many places across the world, the space for impartial humanitarian action is under threat. Human dignity is disregarded, the applicability of the law is questioned, and humanitarian aid is politicized and deliberately hijacked for political gain or the control of populations.”

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Out & About On the Eve of April w/Brief #RandomThoughts


It is Earth Hour here in  Laguna Niguel as I decided to share some final thoughts.    It has been a profound month and profound quarter in many ways.   The depiction of Nowruz above was beautiful in spite of the horror faced by an estimated 20 Million Iranians based on reporting I saw.

In spite of profound challenges both personally and professionally, I am one grateful dude in every which way I could imagine--and closing out the quarter with a bad case of the flu was not helpful.   One highlight was to have been able to once again serve in the special elections and being once again witness to Democracy in Action:




But today is also a very distressing anniversary:   The day that Khomeini ordered his so called referendum that formalized the establishment of the fascist Islamic Republic--I remember the day as folks went out to vote here in Southern California on that horrible day of infamy--and it was reported as a point of pride by one of the regime's mouthpieces on Telegram: 


Discussing politics will be left to the pages of the Daily Outsider as we will hit the ground running starting in April.   I remain excited about the prospects in spite of the odds--as I look forward to the possibilities.   There is no other choice!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#RandomThoughts: Mid-Week Reflections on #IranFloods, Hope and #Nowruz :)


It has been horrific to be witness to the floods in Iran. However, what I caught on Instagram from Shiraz was so full of hope that I decided to share it with this mid-week editoin of #RandomThoughts here in my Virtual Corner--I agree with Mohsen Sazegara that all of us must be focused on supporting all who have been victims and then hold the Regime to account--I have underscored it and this from Tavana noted how as all were swept away, only the incompetent officials were kept in their posts--and meaningless gestures like endless meetings, pleadings of poverty (as exemplified by the 1st Vice President) and a meaningless walkabout by the Revolutionary Guard Commander:



It was quite disappointing to see this as well too as well:



I caught this very insightful 25 minutes which I view as quite optimistic as Iran begins a new year on a very tough and challenging note, though:


As I conclude these brief thoughts, I will note that #WeWillReClaimIran as I close out this mid-week reflection with a beautiful tribute to Nowruz in Kurdish and Lori--two of the beautiful dialects that is part of the beautiful Iranian Mosiac and as I pay tribute to the Royal Family of Iran: 



Saturday, March 23, 2019

#RandomThoughts As Spring's In the Air!!! :)

@ Mission Hospital In Mission Viejo, California 
It has been quite a week at the Daily Outsider as I am keeping fingers crossed about sharing some reasonably decent good news.   In the meantime, the work at hand continues.   It has also been a joyous time having been witness to the joy and beauty of Nowruz.   BBC Persian, Iran International and other Farsi-Language Broadcasters had quite a party--and what was so amazing was how the average Iranian Ordinary Face was dancing, singing and having fun in spite of all that the Regime tried to pull off.  

I had the pleasure to be supportive of my Aunt over the Week-End as she was at Mission Hospital and I was witness to how they yet again lived up to that mantra I captured above.  As the hospital resonated with the music celebrating the birth of a bay, it reminded me of when my Son was born as I eagerly await his decision on where he will attend College--How time flies!!

As I was working away, I was quite amazed by the email I caught below: