Open Air

YOU might see something in the news that we miss, so this “grab bag” of questions or observations is up to you. Whatever you see that surprises, you, inspires you, peeves you, concerns you…makes you wonder or makes you laugh – send it in to IWD. You might ask, “Does anyone else think it’s strange that…? Or “What is the best restaurant in London…or San Antonio?” Other IWD members will respond. Here's your opportunity to comment on anything in the news. Let us know what you're thinking!


In the aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut, the debate about gun rights and gun control was renewed. We invited IWD members to express their views in Open Air. You are welcome to add yours and to catch up with previous IWD Weigh-Ins on guns.

December 27 2012


On top of all the other events, we now have another crazy person -- this time shooting at firefighters. Just too many guns in the hands of too many people with grudges or gripes or schemes of revenge.


Note from IWD: Reuters published this list of "the worst" incidents with guns in 2012:


April 2 - A gunman kills seven people and wounds three in a shooting rampage at a Christian college in Oakland.


July 20 - A masked gunman kills 12 people and wounds 58 when he opens fire on moviegoers at a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, Colorado.


August 5 - A gunman kills six people during Sunday services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before he is shot dead by a police officer.


August 24 - Two people are killed and eight wounded in a shooting outside the landmark Empire State Building in New York City at the height of the tourist season.


September 27 - A disgruntled former employee kills five people and takes his own life in a shooting rampage at a Minneapolis sign company from which he had been fired.


October 21 - Three people are killed in a Milwaukee area spa including the estranged wife of the suspected gunman, who then killed himself.


December 14 - A shooter opens fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing several people including children.

December 27 2012


It takes something this stunningly awful to wake people up to the way the NRA has perverted our constitution rights to promote their industry and feed their greed. FINALLY, there are arguments on the other side more powerful. We may finally get something done.

December 27 2012


I am currently reading a book titled Gunfight. I happened to be in the middle of this (I feel it is balanced, written by a constitutional lawyer) book when the CT shootings occurred. The most important thing I've learned from the book is how much I don't know. Gun rights/control is really complicated and I now take seriously my responsibility to understand it on two levels:


1)gun terminology: I know lots more but realize how complex gun terminology is and how mixed up reporters/ advocates of both sides can be. I truly wish someone could come up with a chart of sorts which describes the meaning of "machine gun." "assault weapon," semiautomatic," sawed off shotgun," and all the brand names etc. I think understanding of this sort would help us to understand the situation much better and keep us from getting all muddled up.


2)The two cultures of gun rights and yes, gun control, which have existed side by side here in the US since the founding fathers. Who knew that Tombstone had very strict gun control laws, or that the "wild west" had a strong gun control culture? Who knew that until the 1930's the NRA was a strong backer of gun controls? Things have changed in the last few decades. To me this is very important.


I really feel that with the proper education, these two sides could find some common ground. Right now, I think, and I realize I am one of these people, citizens are really "knee jerk" and don't know what they are talking about at any depth.


If anyone knows about the existence of a "chart" like I mentioned above, please let us know!

December 18 2012


On the topic of the Colorado shooting, after I read 266's comment (posted 7/25/12), I paid special attention to how much coverage the shooter would receive. His every move and every possible motive and is being dissected -- and the victims have been relegated to the background. Let's face it -- people are fascinated with sick minds.

August 03 2012


I absolutely HATE the fact that gun lovers now use this (shooting in Colorado) as a reason to say ordinary people should arm themselves. More guns in the hands of more people is definitely NOT what we need!

July 25 2012


During CNN coverage, I saw the father of one of the victims challenge Anderson Cooper and other news stations to refrain from devoting any coverage to the perpetrator. He said that the coverage glorifies him and only encourages others to find fame the same way. I agree and whenever a station I'm watching starts talking about him,I switch channels.

July 25 2012


What a nice idea -- the dozen roses on the homepage in honor of the shooting victims. I decided to do something similar and found it comforting to have that beauty in my home while being bombarded with disturbing facts on the news.

July 25 2012


The Colorado shooting: War is awful enough. In war, there is a covenant of violence. But not watching a movie, eating in a diner, going to work in a tall building. Too random. Just too, too wrong.
As I photographed these roses, I can't tell you how many times I took the picture. I wanted each of those 12 roses to show. I want each person to be important.
Sometimes it helps to say how you feel, so you're invited to do that here. Just click on the red tab that says "Speak Up."

July 23 2012


As a moderate Republican – and proud of it! – I am alarmed at some of the Tea Party tactics against Republican candidates they feel are too moderate. A group called FreedomWorks for America has produced ads against Orrin Hatch with a lot of false claims. An example is an ad that accuses Hatch of racking up our national debt. He’s been in the Senate for 35 years and during that time he voted to raise the debt ceiling, but he’s been against a lot of the spending bills. His fiscal performance over this time in the Senate has been rated by conservative watch dog groups as being either average or excellent. We're all fairly focused on the national election, but some of the state elections are extremely important, too.

April 25 2012


Will the USA Have an Iron Lady? I noticed that The Baroness Lady Margaret Thatcher was weaved into the discussion on this site regarding women as leaders. I am a big fan of Margaret Thatcher which may seem a bit odd because of my younger age. I owe my politically astute Father gratitude for schooling me on the great political figures as I was growing up. Lady Thatcher and both Bill and Hillary Clinton were by far his favorites. He had a keen eye for the great public servants. I too am a big supporter of Hillary and Bill Clinton. If you are interested there is a web site wherein all of Lady Thatcher's documentation from the Downing Street years (her PM) years. The Iron Lady movie did not come close to showing what Lady Thatcher was made of as a leader. Chris Collins, a former Thatcher aide is working very hard to upload and give the public access to these public documents. If you want to see a glimpse of the real Iron Lady....check out the following web site.....

Note from IWD: Read other members' comments about Margaret Thatcher and Women as Leaders

March 29 2012


I hope someone will share experience with navigating through sudden critical situations - medical, weather, travel,fire, and anything that required immediate crucial decision and action. A diagnosis, a storm -tornado-flood, travel hazards, criminal encounters - self defense, home fire, etc... Think clear- Stay calm - Act smart.

Note from IWD: This sounds like a good topic for a “Perspective” from anyone who’s had the experience described above.

March 26 2012


What is the relationship between the troubled economy and crime?

Note from IWD: The FBI announced in June that the number of violent crimes fell 5.5% in 2010 and property crimes fell 2.8%. However, it has been shown that the number of police does affect the number of crimes. And other experts say that the long-term unemployment may perpetuate an underclass culture that fails to educate and socialize young men who go on to become involved in crime. For more detailed discussion, go to

One crime that is up (to highest in five years) is Shoplifting.


So here are the Most Shoplifted Items of the 2011 Holiday Season:

Adweek spoke to loss prevention experts who said that most shoplifters don’t go into the store planning to take something; they just succumb to temptation. Adweek also compiled a list of the 10 most shoplifted items of 2011:

  • Filet mignon
  • Jameson (expensive liquor)
  • Electric tools
  • iPhone4
  • Gillette Mach 4 (non-disposable razor)
  • Axe (men’s deodorant and body wash)
  • Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Let’s Rock Elmo
  • Chanel #5 (This was my mother’s favorite perfume… do you think the thieves are 90-somethings?)
  • Nike Shoes

December 06 2011


If you’re an animal lover…“Big Cat Week” begins on Nat Geo WILD Channel on Sunday, December 11.


Note from IWD: According to the National Geographic web site the big cats of the world need help. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other top felines are quickly disappearing, all victims of habitat loss and degradation as well as conflicts with humans.


Right now, there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild, (which made that Ohio wild animal refuge tragedy so much worse).


As for lions: “Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 400,000, lion populations have blinked out across the continent. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in many cases to burgeoning human populations. The Big Cats Initiative aims to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore populations to sustainable levels.”

December 06 2011


Response to 036 on 6/13/11: I went straight to the source - my son, after 11 years in Special Forces is senior advisor to IAVA this year while he is completing his dissertation... that stands for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association. I caught him on a flight from Tallahassee to Edinburg and he shared these facts you may or may not know:

  • the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than our national average
  • the size of the entire military is 1/2 of 1% of all Americans
  • in the 10 years of Afghan and Iraqi combat, there are 2.2 million veterans... out of 300 million Americans
  • there have been more suicides by active duty and veterans than deaths in combat


I was struck by the small number of Americans in the military fighting to help other countries... and what a better job we need to do with counseling. War IS hell and it is hard to forget... or at least put away in a little box.


p.s. FYI I'm from 3 generations of military from Annapolis to Marines to Army to Navy to Air Force - my brother was a Tunnel Rat in Viet Nam...

August 01 2011


Response to 036 on 6/13/11: The story someone sent in about the person who buys lunch for a member of the military whenever she is in restaurant really moved me. I had a similar – but smaller – opportunity the other day at Starbucks. A man in army fatigues was ahead of me in line. I didn’t react quickly enough to buy his coffee – but I decided to buy him a $5 gift certificate. For some reason, it made me kind of emotional so I couldn’t really express myself. I thought breaking up in Starbucks over a $5 gift certificate might be a little extreme. So I said "This is for you" and he said "Thank you" and I said "Thank YOU!" Wish I could have found the voice to say more about how indebted we all are.

August 01 2011


Response to 036 on 6/13/11: I’ve found a really good organization that reliably carries through on its promise to send care packages to military people overseas – it’s Operation Gratitude:

July 04 2011


Response to 036 on 6/13/11: I’m following the organization “Joining Forces” started by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. This will probably be more accepted by people who don’t like the President than the First Lady’s other initiative “Let’s Move” that focuses on ending childhood obesity. I guess people thought she shouldn’t tell people what to feed their families…(even though health problems of obese people are costly for all of us…)


Note from IWD: More about Joining Forces: Here is what some of the organization’s corporate partners are doing for military families:

• Sears, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club have been and will help spouses employed by them married to active duty soldiers get job transfers to other stores when duty stations change.

*Siemens Corp. Goodwill will reserve 10 percent of open clean tech industries jobs for veterans.

*Microsoft and HP will offer training in new technologies.

*Best Buy's Geek Squad will host seminars at 17 military base "cutting edge" technology.

*Intel will provide access to protected sites where military personnel and spouses can get job training skills. *Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg will star in Joining Forces commercials.

July 04 2011


Response to 036 on 6/13/11: I’m particularly interested in how returning vets are treated for their injuries. I read about a new diagnostic tool being studied called “diffusion tensor imaging” that finds brain injuries that don’t show up on a regular MRI. According to this article, about 320,000 Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Although most of the injuries were relatively mild, this test shows that some structural abnormalities have resulted. And doctors hope it can pick up damage that has occurred in explosions, even when a direct hit to the head is not involved. At this point, it’s a research tool and results are not given to doctors treating patients returning from battle, but hopefully as a society, we can take care of all those injured heroes and help them go on with their lives.

July 04 2011


Response to Member 036 on 6/13/11: If we Americans have learned anything about war, it’s that we can’t forget about those you serve the way we did with Vietnam veterans. Is it just me – or do some of you see a lot of people who panhandle at highway intersection holding signs that say “Vietnam Vet”? Are they in especially bad shape?


Note from IWD: According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans:

• Only about 8% of the general population is veterans – but approximately 25% of the homeless population is veterans.

• America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

• Although difficult to get an exact number because of the transient nature of homeless populations, the VA estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness.

• In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

July 04 2011


Expressing Appreciation to Someone in the Military:

In the interest of "finally reading something positive,” I am forwarding this to you. It doesn't matter how one feels about our political position in the wars being fought by America, the impact is felt among the young men and women and their families who sacrifice so much for us. I have a dear friend, an army brat, who quietly stood up from a lovely ladies' luncheon in a restaurant and approached the server, handed him her credit card and quietly returned to the table. I witnessed this and assumed she was picking up the tab for the girls. I quietly asked her and she said, no she hadn't. She whispered that whenever she sees someone in uniform where she is dining, she quietly picks up their tab...her way of saying thank you. Needless to say, I was very moved and motivated to also show my thanks to these brave children of America. I am happy that across our country, people are saying thank you to them as well.


Note: Another way veterans are honored: The Warrior Parade. According to an e-mail that’s been circulating, wounded members of the military walk or are wheeled down a corridor while Pentagon personnel and officers honor them with applause.

June 13 2011