Haitian Exports – Two Major Celebrities With Haitian Ancestry

in News , by http://garlan.org/
Photo Credit: jb2.0 via photopin cc

Photo Credit: jb2.0 via photopin cc

Odds are that if you’re a music or movie fan, you’re probably aware that there are a number of major celebrities that have Haitian ancestries including Denzel Washington and Usher; both world renown personalities. Denzel Washington has obviously done well making movies and Usher has had great success in this country from his singing and writing skills, to being a part of TV’s popular singing competition show the Voice.

Denzel Washington

As a noteworthy American actor, Denzel Washington has appeared in numerous blockbuster movies, earning him a net worth of an estimated $140 million. Denzel, the actor, director, producer and screenwriter, was born in Mount Vernon, New York, where he lived with his father, who was a Pentecostal minister, and his mother, who both owned and work at a beauty salon.

Denzel earned a full scholarship to the renowned American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California after attending Fordham University and receiving his B.A. He eventually turned down his scholarship, deciding instead to pursue a professional acting career in New York. As it is the case for most would be actors or actresses going for their dream of stardom, it was a slow and challenging process.

Denzel worked his way up, working on small films and a variety of television roles including popular medical drama St. Elsewhere in 1982 (his first real role), until the season finale in 1988.. Some of the actor’s most popular, money making movies include Virtuosity, Courage Under Fire, Fallen, The Siege, Training Day, Out of Time, Man on Fire and American Gangster. Denzel’s income has landed him a #5 position on the richest African American men in the entertainment industry list; an honorable and much deserved acknowledgement.


When you think of Usher, his chic styles and dance moves, polished vocals and broad vocal range probably come to mind; that and his romantic ballads that make women swoon. Born October 14, 1978 in Chattanooga, TN, Usher Terry Raymond IV started singing at only 6 years old in his church choir.

After moving with his brother and mother to Atlanta, he performed on the hit show at the time, Star Search, and secured a recording contract with LaFace Records shortly after. His first, self titled album was released in 1994, when he was only 15 years of age.

Usher eventually joined a local R&B quintet called the NuBeginnings, and rose to fame during the late 1990s with the release of My Way, his second album, which produced his first Billboard Hot 100, #1 hit, “Nice & Slow”. Since then the album has been certified platinum 6 times by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His next album, 8701, produced the Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits U Got It Bad) and “U Remind Me” and since then the album has been certified platinum 4 times.

The RIAA has also ranked Usher as one of American music history’s best selling artists. User is estimated to have a net worth of $140 million.

Countless Haitian’s first came to the United States at the turn of the century in search of economic opportunity and in doing so made the country a better place.


Exotic Vacation: USA vs. Europe

in News, Travel , by http://garlan.org/

Let’s face it, it would be difficult to choose between a European or USA vacation because both have so much to offer, from one end of their regions to another.

Sure, if the hotel or transportation costs are factors, you’ll want to consider your budget, but if you’re yearning for a particular experience, take the time to plan it out and save first if you have to.

Whether you’re considering a United states vacation, visiting Miami’s iconic Key West or South Beach or New York’s Statue of Liberty, you won’t be disappointed. On the other hand, vacationing in Europe, just about anywhere in Europe, you can visit ancient historic sites that make the USA’s history look infantile.

First We’ll Look at European Travel Pros and Cons

Some say that American’s are drawn to Europe because most of our ancestors originated there. Most say their unwavering obsession with Europe comes down to the idea of romance it conjures up, sipping wine and enjoying delicious cheese along a charming Parisian alley in a cute cafe, strolling through the Louvre; you get the picture.

In spite of rising airfare’s and high exchange rates were still drawn to Europe and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. History lovers are big fans of Europe as well – after all – Europe is home roman ruins, why wouldn’t they want to go? Art lovers can see works of art by world famous artists. True, it’s usually more expensive to travel Europe than to vacation in the United States, but with a little research and planning, you can vacation in Europe on a budget.

USA Travel Pros and Cons

The United States is a large and very diverse nation where visitors have access to countless miles of beaches, countless unique National Parks, trendy urban cities and massive metropolitan centers.

There’s San Francisco, California and the Golden Gate Bridge, Miami, Florida and the popular Ft. Lauderdale swap shop and endless miles of pristine beaches, Seattle and the Space Needle and Ho Rainforest. Let’s not forget New Orleans and the Mardi Gras, Los Angeles and Latino music; the list goes on and on.

Vacationing in the United States does have its drawbacks, including the length of time it takes to travel one from one city to another, driving or flying. Another factor is the weather which ranges from hot and arid to hot and humid, to snow and ice.

Similar to Europe, travel and accommodations can be expensive, but with planning, staying outside of the bigger cities and looking for airfare – accommodation promotions, you can easily travel on a budget.

Both the USA and Europe have a lot to offer, even if you’re traveling with children, although the United State seems to have the highest percentage of amusement parks in just about every state. That being said you’d be surprised at how many amusement parks Europe is home to today, including Walk Disney Studio Park in France, Legoland in the UK and Gardaland Resort in Italy.

In Europe some of the most family friendly destinations are Scotland’s St. Andrews, the Dolomites in Italy and the German Bavarian Alps. Kid friendly USA destinations include just about anywhere in California and Orlando, Florida.


Does Buddy the Dog Deserve To Live?

in Animals, News , by http://garlan.org/


In San Antonio, many residents of San Antonio are fighting to save the life of Buddy, a six-year-old golden retriever mix attacked a nine-year-old girl in November 2014. Homer Mojica, Buddy’s owner, stated that the dog was leashed and out for his daily walk when the child screamed in his face prompting the attack.

Despite the attack, Buddy has become a symbol for activists and animal lovers who charge that Animal Control Services (ACS) was less about protecting animals and more about putting them down quickly to improve statistics. On the other side of the argument is the fact that this dog attacked a child and caused sustained injuries that did require stitches. So, what should happen to Buddy?

Vague Laws

Under current Texas law, any dog whether small or giant dog breeds that causes serious injury which requires hospitalization, regardless of whether the animal is leashed and provoked as many witnesses claimed Buddy was, can be euthanized. That means that even if someone kicks a dog and the dog attacks in an effort to defend itself, it can be put down.

As this is vague, there is a lot of room for interpretation and debate. In the case of Buddy, the initial judge ordered Buddy to be put down without any medical testimony on the victim’s behalf verifying the seriousness of the injuries.

Some activists claim that the child’s injuries were more likely consistent with a scratch not a bite and that the parents should teach their child how to properly approach animals. Other called on city officials to fulfill the promises they made about implementing a “no kill” policy at animal shelters. Needless to say, this issue is hotly contested on both sides and as of January 18, 2014, Buddy was released to vet clinic but not back to his owner.

Should Buddy Live?

On the face of the law, it looks like Buddy should be euthanized once it’s been proved that he caused serious injury. However, the fact that the parents did not provide any medical testimony calls the severity of the injuries in question and should have prompted the judge to either ask for that kind of evidence or to impose some other penalty as due process was not really fully followed.

As it stands, this case may force the state of Texas to take another look at the animal rights laws and challenge the lack of specificity for dogs like Buddy who may be protecting their owners. If the law isn’t tightened up, there will be more cases like Buddy’s clogging up the courts.


Important Luggage Goes Missing In Canada

in News , by http://garlan.org/
Photo credit here.

Photo credit here.

We’ve all heard the frustrating stories of airlines losing or mishandling luggage, but nothing as horrifying as the recent loss of Larry, an Italian greyhound, one of the dogs that are very good with children that an American woman was attempting to relocate to a British Columbia family. Sadly, the dog got away at a San Francisco airport and died after Air Canada staff let him out during a delay.

Apparently the greyhound was later found by a good Samaritan who took him to a local veterinarian who had to put down the dog because of its critical injuries. The dog breeder and new owners didn’t find out that Larry was dead until much later when the vet tied together the notes of the good Samaritan and the story about the lost dog.

Since the story was reported, Air Canada has been facing a public relations nightmare not only because of their far less than efficient handling of the dog, but because one of their company officials accidentally sent a dismissive email regarding the matter to an American television station (CBS).

As if the reports that a major airline had misplaced a dog weren’t terrible enough, the Air Canada spokesman’s displaced email added fuel to the fire with the email that said “I think I would just ignore the problem, it’s only local news doing a story about a lost dog.”

He went on to say that the U.S. government is shut down and about to default and that this is how the United States media spends its time. The email was meant to reach another spokesperson within the airline company, and a short time later Air Canada apologized.

Jutta Kulic, a Medina, Ohio dog breeder who was shipping the dog to a new home in Canada has said that the airline agreed to pay for the veterinary hospital expenses and has also agreed to handle the airline fees for Lynda White and husband Duncan who had arranged to adopt Larry and now were traveling to Ohio to pick up Leo, Larry’s brother Leo who will not be traveling as cargo. Italian greyhounds are one of the smaller breeds in the dog world so he’ll be able to fit into the under seat section and be allowed to be in his new owner’s arms during the flight.

Kulic has said that they have yet to ask Air Canada for any additional compensation, such as to cover the veterinary bills to prepare Leo for travel. She did say however that the airline certainly has a huge responsibility when it comes to Larry’s fate and isn’t sure what Air Canada is going to do regarding avoiding instances like this in the future. Kulic went on to say that she didn’t know what she was going to do when it comes to any additional compensations; she just wants to know what Air Canada and any other airlines that have made similar mistakes were going to do to address the problem and fix whatever’s broken when it comes to protective measures and more intensive training of their employees.

So far Air Canada has said that it is reminding its employees about the policies for transporting animals; so far it doesn’t sound like enough effort is being put into solving the problem.

This wasn’t the first time Air Canada has lost someone’s beloved pet; another woman came forward to say that her dog had been lost by airline employees as well and the dog’s body was found at the end of the runway where it had apparently been killed by an eagle. In compensation, the airline paid for the woman’s daughter’s accommodations, flew in a family member to help look for the dog and eventually paid for Niyah’s cremation and delivery of its remains to the family.


New Mexico Gunman Stopped by Words from a Teacher

in News , by Jeff Nelson

John Masterson is the newest hero in the latest tragic school shooting in New Mexico. The shooter was just 12 years old when he brought his shotgun to Berrendo Middle School and changed the lives of many. Two students were shot.

Masterson, after the gunman had shot the two students, simply used his words to subdue the shooter.  It’s not part of a teacher’s regular duties to stop a gunman. A teacher’s job is difficult enough in middle school dealing with ‘almost teenagers’ who want to prove they are not youngsters anymore. They also have to continue to keep up changing curriculum and technology. They may need to add a crisis management portion to teaching programs in the U.S.

The two victims went to the hospital, the shooter ended up in the Albuquerque psychiatric hospital after his hearing and the teacher went home. The students of the middle school were in the gym when the shooting occurred and left the gym ‘in an orderly fashion’. They were then united with their families.

This has been the youngest school shooter but unfortunately not the only one. The Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting started a nationwide discussion on the safety of schools. USA Today has reported that new findings, recently issued by the Justice Department and Education Department, have shown that violence has dropped for teachers and students and safety has improved.

Companies have come forth with Kevlar material for backpacks and chairs that can be used as shields in the unfortunate event a school becomes in trouble. There has been mandatory education for teachers on how to talk with shooters and evasive methods to use. It is thought anti-bullying campaigns have also helped to reduce the incidents of school shootings.

Several measures for physical security have been implemented. Practices like locking exterior doors and having all visitors sign in have been simple, yet effective measures. This, of course, would only stop those that are not students of the school. Installing metal detectors at entrances and having a police presence within the schools is also being implemented as possible.

There are have been many reports that there were some signs that these troubled students were up to something. Social media sometimes saw disturbing telltale signs from posts. Sometimes the troubled student would hint to classmates something would be happening. In the past students would dismiss this. Now, with anonymous reporting, students are coming forth. It has been a community effort but appears to be paying off.

Many of the gunmen have histories that are similar. They are loners and have a fascination with violence and guns. Video games have been blamed. Parenting has been blamed. It appears that the differences in the shooters show that there has not been one factor that can be pinpointed. Let’s hope the downward trend continues in school shootings!


Essex County Authorities in New Jersey arrest 13 accused in county jail smuggling ring

in News , by http://garlan.org/


Newark announced that authorities arrested 13 people including two Essex County jail corrections officers.  These officers were accused in a smuggling ring that was operated like a hotel with room service.  Prisoners were allowed to have cell phones, drugs and other contraband authorities said.  According to the article 2 inmates inside would take the orders from the general population and pass the information to the corrections officers where the officers would send word down to the streets.

Does anyone seem surprised?  This is just another article and bust in a long line of busts that have occurred with professional medical staff down to our prison and jail systems.  Our parole officers are overloaded with cases all over the Unites States. A probation officer salary isn’t huge, and parole officers don’t start at a very large wage either.  The average wage of these professionals are lower than a special education teacher salary

A special Ed teacher can start out at $75,000 a year in a higher based tax school district.  The probation and Parole agents work for the state and average around $16.00 an hour.

Why would corrections officers get involved with a smuggling ring?  Do they do this for money or for the thrill of some action in the careers of stresses that they have chosen.  It might be greed in some cases or the rush, but it might also be the fact that they have become so numb to their jobs that they become angry and work with the other side.  This job takes a lot of courage but our jail and prison systems are over loaded with gang members who have huge connections on the outside and are still controlling the streets through the jail system. 

The war on drugs will never end and we have to realize that because since the war started more of the kids have used by the age of 12.  Programs in schools that teach children the risks of illegal drugs also intrigue them because some children have actually admitted that to teachers.

We read about these incidences all the time in the newspapers and hear about these items on television but how many of us really want to get involved.  In 1989, there was a multi-million dollar credit card scam that traveled through 8 prisons by piecing together credit card receipts.  This scam was followed for over 8 months and many guards, officials, law enforcement officers and prisoners were involved in this scam. 

After all America has been through, this is not surprising.  Our economy is low and prison guards have trouble making ends me as well as any of us.  The majority of people are now on prescription drugs and you can find street hustlers on every corner near every travel spot trying to sell drugs for money.  Professional business men and women buy drugs and a lot of this is going on in offices across the country as well.



Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Don’t Just Affect Doctors

in News , by Jeff Nelson

The legal concept of medical malpractice lawsuits isn’t just limited to the conduct of doctors, but applies also to nurse practitioners, physical therapists, surgical tech’s, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, just about anybody that provides health care services. When it comes to medical malpractice actions, hospitals can be held liable for both their own negligence and that of their employees.

A hospital’s medical personnel consists of licensed physicians, physician’s assistants and many other health care providers and when the hospital hires them they are expected to make inquiries into the applicant’s education, training, experience and licensing. If a hospital neglects to make acceptable inquiries they can in many cases be held liable for negligent retention or supervision if the employee’s culpable care causes injury to a patient.

When it comes to a nurse practitioner’s malpractice suit a good example would be the story of a woman who received prenatal care from a nurse practitioner at a health care clinic who ended up giving birth to a child that had macrosomia (associated with birth trauma) causing the child to sustain a brachial plexus injury, a clawed hand and right arm palsy during treatment. In this case both the doctor and nurse practitioner were found liable.

Many people assume that it is typically hospitals or surgeons that need medical malpractice insurance and while that is certainly true when it comes to highly specialized surgeons and hospitals need it, there are several others who need protection as well against malpractice lawsuits. Whether they’re surgeons with a number of advanced degrees in a metropolitan city, nurse practitioners, or surgical tech’s and physical therapists in a small town, having sufficient level medical malpractice insurance is the only way to protect themselves from a financial catastrophe in the event that they get sued. Any type of healthcare facility should have group malpractice insurance.

Every physician is responsible for their own negligence, so even if they’re protected under an umbrella malpractice insurance policy that insures their employer, they can still be held responsible for any negligence that was a direct result of their personal actions. In addition, the doctor might have to compensate their employer if the employer’s insurance ends up having to pay a claim. There’s also always a change that the employer might try to divide the case against the practice from that of the doctors, leaving the doctor to defend themselves through their personal medical malpractice insurance.

The American Medical Association has estimated that by 2025, there will be a deficiency of as many as 40,000 primary care physicians and other’s are saying that it could quadruple by 2015. Expected shortages are said to affect specialty physicians in sectors that include emergency medicine, cardiology, oncology and more. While there are several factors that will bring this about, the increase in medical malpractice lawsuits over the last few years plays a big part in it. Because of the shortage and ever changing medical staffing issues, having good medical malpractice insurance coverage is even more important.


Where Is the Rainforest: Breakdown by Country

in News , by Jeff Nelson

Rainforests are amazing, yet they cover only 6% of the earth’s surface and over half the species of plants and animals of the world live there. They are located in Central America including Costa Rica, The Amazon in Brazil, Africa, Southern Asia and Australsia (the term for Australia, New Zealand and the island of New Guinea combined).

Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity.  Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is diversity or variety of plants and animals and other living things in a particular region. The father of biodiversity, Edward O. Wilson wrote “It is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself.” This statement came from his book The Diversity of Life.

Back to Costa Rica in Central America! Large areas have been cleared for cattle ranching and sugar cane plantations. This area is famous for its many kinds of tropical birds including many kinds of parrots. This tiny country is the habitat of over 10,000 plants. Costa Rica’s forests are made up of the rainforests, cloud forests and topical dry forests.

About 60% of the Amazon rainforest and 25% of the world’s rainforests are located in Brazil. One third of all animal species live in the Amazon rainforest. Brazil has the largest rainforest covering almost 2 million square miles! There is a huge amount of oxygen produced by this rainforest after it consumes carbon dioxide, which is a good thing. It has been called the ‘lungs of the world’.

Central Africa has the world’s second largest rainforest. Located in the southeast, the large island of Madagascar was once heavily forested but now much of it is gone.  Reasons given for destruction of the forests here and also in Brazil are: agriculture, urbanization, infrastructure and logging. As people move in and make ‘improvements’, valuable rainforests with biodiversity are sacrificed.

It is estimated that if deforestation continues at its current rate, the entire Amazon Rainforest will be gone by the end of 21st century. That is just unacceptable. Brazil’s rainforest yields many common fruits such as coconuts, lemons, grapefruits and bananas along with those that are not as common such as figs, guavas and mangos. Spices such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, chocolate and cloves also come from the rainforest along with many other edible treats such as different varieties of nuts.

Southern Asia rainforests stretch from India and Burma in the western part to Malaysia in the east. Bangladesh has the largest area of mangrove forests in the world. A mangrove forest is a swampy area, an intersection of land and sea, which protects the coasts from erosion with its massive root system. The climate here is hot and humid all year around.

How special is the rainforest? I think we have seen that it is necessary not only to support a vast variety of plants and animals, but it is also essential to supply the world with much need oxygen. Let’s support our rainforests today!


James Cameron Breaks Dive Record, Explores the Unknown

in News , by Jeff Nelson
Submarine. Photo credit here.

Submarine. Photo credit here.

You have likely heard of James Cameron.  Mr. Cameron was born in 1954 in Canada and now resides in Malibu, California.  He has been a filmmaker since 1984 and has hits such as Terminator 2, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar to just name a few films.  He also does documentaries for National Geographic.  Whatever he does, he does BIG!  Another love for him is deep sea diving.  His latest feat was to make an unprecedented solo dive of almost 7 miles to the bottom of the ocean floor.

This took 7 years of careful planning.  He knew that if he didn’t plan well, he would lose his life.   Dangers included loss of oxygen from various malfunctions or collapse of the submarine due to the pressure.  The descent itself was very dangerous with the submarine keeping the pressure inside the vessel at safe levels even with the rapidly changing levels outside the submarine.

He traveled to the bottom of the deepest darkest part of the ocean floor called the Mariana Trench.  He has been the only person to make a solo descent and only one of three to have ever gone down to that depth.  It was a 3 hour descent and the water pressure was at 16,000 PSI.  The submarine he was in, of course, was made to handle such pressure.  Mechanical engineers specialize in this type of ‘vehicle’.

Wikipedia describes mechanical engineering as engineering that applies the principles of engineering, physics and material science for analysis, design, manufacturing and maintenance of mechanical systems.   This submarine was created by guys who most likely went to the ‘top tier’ institutions.  He was able to see what was going on from LED lights.  Cameras caught it all on film.  There is speculation that this footage may appear in an upcoming film!

At the bottom of the ocean, Mr. Cameron describes what he saw using words like desolate and lunar saying it looked like another planet – one that he could go to and back in one day.  The animal life has adapted to this extreme pressure and total darkness.  The marine life is described as being usually white with no pigment.  Some of them have eyes and some do not.   Marine biologists were very interested in his deep sea dive as they study organisms in the ocean or other brackish (water that is more salty than fresh water but less than sea water) bodies of water.

They classify species based on environment rather than taxonomy (defining groups of organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and naming them).  It is interesting how it took mechanical engineers, and a lot of courage and ambition from Mr. Cameron, to give valuable and never before seen footage to marine biologists and the universities that support them.

Marine biologists study for years yet rarely even the big wigs at the prestigious universities get to study things directly reported from these depths.  The dream of James Cameron met the dreams of marine biologists.  Experts in mechanical engineering enabled a Malibu filmmaker to get footage for experts in marine biology.   How cool is that!


New Tech: Distracted Driving Almost Defeated

in News , by Jeff Nelson
Teen On Cell Phone. Photo credit here.

Teen On Cell Phone. Photo credit here.

Distracted driving is a real problem.  As numerous lawmakers struggle to pass laws to minimize the distraction posed by smartphones within the car, they cannot totally remove the distractions factor.  There are just too many things that can result in the distraction of the driver.

Now, thanks to a collaboration between Emotive and the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, the problem of distracted driving may be on its way out: at least in theory.

Enter the Epoch Headset

The Epoch headset, designed by Emotive is basically a wireless controller that reads and responds to your brain’s neurological signals.  In other words, it reads your thoughts, or at least the brain waves generated by your thoughts.

The Epoch looks a little bit like you might expect a mind-reading headset to look like.  There are 14 sensors and two references that allow the software to detect thoughts, emotions and expressions via brain wave.  It was originally designed for use in computer and video game integration and is fully compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems.

So, how does it help with the problem of distracted driving?

The Attention Powered Car

The Royal Automotive Club of Australia and Emotive have teemed up to create the Attention Powered Car.  This car utilizes the Epoch headset to effectively monitor how often you are “switching gears” mentally.  The concept is that the brain can only effectively handle one focus at a time.  When you multitask, you are effectively switching gears between one focus and another very rapidly.  This lead to distraction, because your focus is diverted from driving, if only for a second.  When you are travelling at 60mph or greater, as second is all it takes for an accident to occur.

The idea behind the car is that when you are distracted, the car automatically slows down to what it considers a safe speed for your level of distraction.

Ready for Prime Time?

The answer is most definitely no. Developers recognize that they are a long way from where they want to be, but it is a step in the right direction.

For one thing, there is the design factor.  For one thing, there is no way that the masses are going to wear this futuristic headset en mass as they drive.  Perhaps the better solutions will be presented, and the developers will be looking to tap into schools where students learn to design in an effort to attract the best and brightest talent to their team.

A Future Without Distraction

Drivers will always be dealing with distractions. That is why the goal in recent years has been to move toward more technology driven cars.  The folk at Emotive, with their background in fashion have been working hard to come up with technology that is wearable, and fashionable.

Ultimately, though not ready for today, the concept is sound, and we can look forward to a future in which distracted driving will be a thing of the past.  Machines are less likely to get distracted, and as we move to computer navigation, the concern over human error will grow much smaller.  Who knows how many lives could be saved through this awesome new technology.