Straight from the Headlines: Sakhalin and Kurils Secede from Russia


Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia (RFN) – The Russian Far East islands of the Kurils and Sakhalin voted to secede from Russia and rejoin Japan.

An overwhelming majority in the Russian Far East federal subject of Sakhalin Oblast, better known as the Kurils and Sakhalin, voted today in a controversial election to leave the Russian Federation and rejoin Japan. Exit polls indicated that 99 percent of voters favored secession from Russia and annexation by Japan, which had governed the islands from 1807 until the end of World War II. The referendum called “hasty” and “illegitimate” by critics was held ten days after former Sakhalin Oblast governor Alexander Khoroshavin and his top aides fled to Moscow following a period of political unrest in the islands’ capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Russia Red SquareThe Sakhalin Oblast government led by interim governor Shigeru Kayano defended the vote as free and fair. “The will of the people is to rejoin the Motherland, Japan. The Russians are constantly trying to drive us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it, and because we tell it like it is and don’t engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. Russia has crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and critics called the referendum a “sham” and a violation of international law. Election monitors banned from Sakhalin indicated that a large number of foreign workers in the local oil and gas industry were seen at polling stations. Some observers accused the interim Sakhalin government of preventing Russian voters from going to the polls and refusing to give voters the option to remain a part of the Russian Federation instead of independence or annexation by Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied his country’s involvement in Sakhalin’s move to return to Japan. The Japanese Diet is expected to approve the annexation, and Abe is scheduled to deliver a speech to the parliamentary body on the matter.

Putin decried the movement of ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet off the coast of Sakhalin as a “dangerous escalation” to enforce the handover. U.S. President Barack Obama denied the claim and stated that the American fleet had been coincidentally carrying out pre-planned military drills in the Sea of Okhotsk. Putin warned that the moves could draw sanctions or a stronger response from Russia.

Before the March 21 disappearance of Khoroshavin and his $2 million Horch 855 Spezial Roadster, the Sakhalin Oblast government had been under pressure from foreign workers and indigenous minorities to ease up on “anti-non-Russian” political restrictions. After thousands of Ainu, Oroks and Nivkhs and foreign workers in the Sakhalin oil and gas industry took to the streets of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in early March, violence erupted when pro-Russian forces tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the protesters occupying Lenin Square. Interim governor Kayano chided the Russian government for what he called “heavy-handed tactics” and stated that “Russia pressed the spring too hard, and it snapped back.”

Map picture

ACLU Seeks an End to April Fool’s Day

Los Angeles (RFN) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), citing possible civil rights violations on April Fool’s Day, set up a hotline to help end the practice of perpetrating practical jokes on unsuspecting fools the first day in April. The ACLU asks those who are potential victims of April Fool’s Day pranks to contact the April Fool’s hotline at their earliest convenience. The ACLU will prepare cases for eligible claims in an effort to combat this offensive practice. If you believe you have wrongly duped by an April Fool’s Day joke or prank and seek redress, contact the ACLU at 968-3665 (YOU-FOOL).

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Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Thoughts & Sayings (December 2012)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in November. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. The same inputs can yield different results if you simply force them.

inputs

2. A fish needs a bicycle to get from one place to another faster than on foot.

fish bicycle

3. I can’t think of anything to say. I guess I’ll use hand gestures.

gestures

Twisted Words

4. My sayings are so corny that I know one day I will reap what I sow.

corny

Holidays & Events

5. Spotted at a protest following the 2004 U.S. Election.

kanada

6. I quit cold turkey for Thanksgiving.

coldturkey

7. This Thanksgiving, be thankful you’re not a turkey. Oh, never mind.

thankful

8. China announces its new leaders. Snow White is not among them.

9. Happy Election Day! If you’re not American, just tell a pollster how you’d vote if you could.

election

10. In a goofy, Mickey Mouse deal, Disney buys LucasFilm. Coming soon: “Star Wars – The Musical,” “Star Wars on Ice,” and “Star Wars Episodes VII – to Infinity and Beyond.”

Random Musings

11. Hasbro should make a Clue board game featuring blockbuster movies, people, places and things, where Harry Potter did it on Tatooine with a phaser or Spock did it at Hogwarts with a light saber.

12. Get hundreds of new Twitter followers every day. Tweet good content.

13. Omy – the symbol for methane on the Periodic Table.

methane

14. This morning my child went from tired to wired in 15 minutes.

15. Why is a car a lemon and not a carrot?

lemon

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Images courtesy of Microsoft.

buythumb[3]M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories calledReal Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Storiesand Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. All characters and events appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or events is purely coincidental. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Thoughts & Sayings (September 2012)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in August. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. diverIn the past, now is the future.

2. I’m not perfect, but I’m perfect for you.

3. It’s better to go off the deep end than the shallow end.

4. Can you hope that there’s hope when there’s no hope?

5. Reach for the sky, because if you shoot for the moon you might see stars.

6. I found myself at the Lost & Found.

Twisted Words

7. How many stories are you?

8. There’s no particular reason for this signal. It’s merely taking up space.

9. A dull scientist can be brilliant.

Holidays & Events

celebrate10. August has a dearth of official holidays. Go ahead, pick one from another country and celebrate it.

11. It’s ironic that the movie “Total Recall” forgot to include scenes from the planet Mars.

12. Happy Day 11 of the Olympics, Day 3 of the Curiosity Mars Landing, and 90 Days until the U.S. Election. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Random Musings

wheel13. The squeaky wheel can go find another repair shop.

14. Instead of multilevel marketing, can’t I just stay on the same level?

15. Please don’t forget who I am. Someday I may need to ask you to remind me.

16. Someone told me that I’m such a tweet. I’m not quite sure how to take that.

17. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but it only takes one word to describe a picture.

picture

Images courtesy of Microsoft.

Click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Key Events Influencing the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election


demgop

With the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election today, I thought it was time to get a little political. Election Day in the United States, November 6, is less than six months away and the campaigns are in full swing, so now’s a good time to weigh in on the U.S. presidential race.

In spite of the incumbent status of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, the U.S. presidential race is more competitive this year than it has been since the 2000 Election. The presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is virtually tied with the president in public opinion polls. RealClearPolitics’ Poll Average on June 5 showed President Obama leading Romney by an average 2%, a decrease from 4% on April 25. This is within the 2-3% margin of error and puts the two candidates in a statistical dead heat. Based on poll trends, we’re in for a close finish.

Here’s my objective analysis of how key events likely to occur between now and Election Day could give an advantage to Obama or Romney. Where there’s no clear favorite, I called it a “Toss Up.” I am not predicting who will win the presidency. Watch how Obama and Romney fare in the aftermath of these milestones, and you’ll have a better idea of who will win. As the 2008 Election demonstrated, announcements such as the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the naming of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential candidate influenced the election. This year’s contest will be no different, and the race is close enough that a single event, such as a seismic jobs report or an international incident, could shift the balance in favor of one candidate.

June 4, 2012: North Korea threatens to attack South Korean media outlets in Seoul

Advantage: Obama. North Korea (DPRK) warned that its troops have aimed artillery at South Korean media groups and threatened a "merciless sacred war" after the outlets criticized children’s celebrations in Pyongyang. While North Korea often makes vague statements threatening South Korea and the United States with utter destruction, this warning specifically mentioned the longitude and latitude of the locations of seven media outfits in Seoul. While the chance that the DPRK will take military action against the South before November 6 is slim, North Korea has been known to take advantage of a political situation to make a statement as it did in November 2010 when it shelled Yeonpyeong Island. The lower the tensions between the two Koreas, the better for Obama. A pre-election attack on the Korean Peninsula would put him in a difficult political situation at a bad time.

June 6, 2012: Wisconsin recall election between Governor Scott Walker (R) and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D)

Advantage: Romney. Polls and most political commentators believe that incumbent Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will win by a sizeable margin and may provide a bump for Romney in Wisconsin, a key swing state. Obama defeated McCain by a wide margin in 2008. Many commentators have indicated that the state may be in play with a larger Republican turnout in November energized by the recall election, and early exit polls show the race tightening to +6 for Obama, a 2-point decrease from the national poll average. Given that Obama won the state in 2008 by 12 points, his support in Wisconsin — and perhaps in other states he carried in 2008 — has waned.

June 8, 2012: International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) talks with Iran over its Nuclear Program

Advantage: Obama. Talks with Iran over its nuclear program are ongoing, and Iran’s admission that the Flame virus caused a massive data loss on its computer networks should be a setback for its nuclear program. Iran will continue to be a foreign policy priority for the United States but is likely to have little or no impact on the U.S. Election. The perception that the United States was involved in Flame’s creation — whether true or not — may help or hurt Obama’s image.

June 17, 2012: Greek Legislative Election

Advantage: Romney. After a political stalemate in May when the Greeks were unable to form a new government, new elections were called in Greece for June 17. The chance that this round will go better is low, and the results may send new shockwaves through the financial markets, especially if minor parties such as Syriza make substantial gains. Ongoing issues over Greek debt will continue to weigh down the Eurozone. While the likelihood that Greece exits the euro and destabilizes the Eurozone before the U.S. Election is small, the country will continue to make news through the campaign period, and much of it won’t help Obama’s efforts to stimulate the U.S. economy.

June 20-24, 2012: The Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Advantage: Toss Up. If the Supreme Court declares the PPACA unconstitutional or strikes down the individual insurance mandate, it will generally be viewed as a setback for the president because the law is considered one of his major legislative achievements. Views on whether this will happen vary. According to the Wall Street Journal, just 35% of legal experts who have argued cases believed the Court would strike down the mandate. As of June 5, the sentiment at Intrade put the odds that the mandate will be rejected at 65.3%. If it’s upheld, it will benefit Obama; if overturned, it will be a blow to his reelection campaign.

July 6, 2012: June Employment Situation Report released

Advantage: Romney. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release its monthly jobs report for June. The May report released on June 1 showed signs of decreased job growth, higher unemployment, and a downward revision of the March and April job reports. Given this trend, it’s likely that the June report won’t be much better and will be bad news for Obama.

July 20, 2012: UN action (or inaction) on Syria

Advantage: Romney. With the violence and unrest in Syria continuing, calls for UN action have increased. The mandate of the UN observer mission ends on July 20, and pressure is mounting for the UN Security Council to take action to “restore international peace and security” per Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Either scenario — failure to respond to continued violence against civilians in Syria or direct intervention in Syria as happened in Libya — puts the president in a difficult political position at a bad time.

July 27, 2012: Second Quarter 2012 Advance GDP Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will release its advance report on gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second quarter (Q2) of 2012. It may affect the race if it differs substantially from the 2.2% GDP forecasted for the United States in Q2.

August 3, 2012: July Employment Situation Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. BLS will release its monthly jobs report for July. The previous report will give some clues as to whether this helps Obama or Romney. It’s too early to tell whether it will follow the March-May downward trend.

Mid-August, 2012: Romney announces running mate/vice presidential candidate

Advantage: Romney. Several prominent names have been mentioned as Romney’s running mate; most are from swing states. The announcement will provide a quick bounce for Romney. If the candidate is strong and/or hails from a swing state, they will bolster the ticket. If they become a liability, this will be reflected in polls in September and/or October.

August 27-30, 2012: Republican National Convention begins in Tampa, Florida

Advantage: Romney. The Republican Party will host the convention in a state Obama won in 2008 and is a key battleground state in 2012. A presidential candidate usually has a bounce of several percentage points in the polls following a party convention.

August 29, 2012: Second Quarter 2012 Preliminary GDP Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. The BEA will release its preliminary report on GDP growth in 2Q 2012. It may affect the race if it differs substantially from the 2.2% GDP forecasted for the United States in Q2.

September 3-6, 2012: Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, North Carolina

Advantage: Obama. The Democratic Party will host the convention in a state Obama won in 2008 and is important to his reelection in 2012. The candidate usually has a bounce of several percentage points in the polls following a party convention.

September 7, 2012: August Employment Situation Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. BLS will release its monthly jobs report for August. The previous report will give some clues as to whether this helps Obama or Romney. It’s too early to tell whether it will follow the March-May downward trend.

October 2012 – March 2013: 12th National People’s Congress convenes

Advantage: Romney. The People’s Republic of China will choose a new National People’s Congress (NPC) and elect a new president. Xi Jinping will likely succeed President Hu Jintao in March 2013. However, the political situation in China is usually tense in the lead up to this transition. The situation is particularly contentious this year with the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai and recent events involving dissident Chen Guangcheng. Recent events such as the handling of Chen’s case by the Obama administration and crackdown of foreigners in China indicate that U.S.-Chinese relations may be rocky until the transition period has ended. While Obama could score some points by engaging China on issues such as military cooperation, much could go wrong for him in the year ahead.

October 5, 2012: September Employment Situation Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. BLS will release its monthly jobs report for September. The previous report will give some clues as to whether this helps Obama or Romney. It’s too early to tell whether it will follow the March-May downward trend.

October 7, 2012: Venezuelan Presidential Election

Advantage: Obama. The outcome of the race between incumbent President Hugo Chávez and Henrique Capriles of the opposition First Justice Party depends on whether Chávez, who has cancer, is healthy enough to stand for re-election. Various scenarios have been debated, but most point to political change in Venezuela after October that may benefit Obama. A Capriles victory, a Chávez successor, or a more moderate Chávez should lead to an improved U.S.-Venezuelan relationship.

October 26, 2012: Third Quarter 2012 Advance GDP Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. The BEA will release its advance report on GDP growth in 3Q 2012. It may be help either candidate if it differs substantially from the 2.6% GDP forecasted for the United States in Q3.

November 2, 2012: October Employment Situation Report released

Advantage: Toss Up. BLS will release its monthly jobs report for October. The previous report will give some clues as to whether this helps Obama or Romney. It’s too early to tell whether it will follow the March-May downward trend.

November 6, 2012: U.S. Election Day

Advantage: Toss Up. As of this writing, President Obama has the advantage of incumbency and is leading in more battleground states than Romney. However, with his RCP Average approval rating at 47.8 and a tightened race, it’s far from certain that Obama will win reelection. Romney has emerged from a heated battle for the Republican nomination in a strong position and can look forward to a number of key events that could work to his advantage. Any of the ones mentioned above – or an unforeseen crisis – has the potential to tip the balance in either candidate’s favor come November. Count on it.

demgop2

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a former U.S. diplomat who served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia. He served as the democracy, elections, and governance officer to the U.S. Mission to Zambia from 2009 to 2011.

A writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres, he also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. His collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to reflect on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. I remember standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. looking down on the Reflecting Pool in 2004.The place looked much as it did when Dr. King stood in the same place on August 28, 1963, and delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I imagined the National Mall filled with a diverse audience listening intently to Dr. King. It must have been an amazing day. I remember hearing Congressman John Lewis talk about it in the 1990s when I worked in the U.S. Congress. I recall how his eyes lit up when he spoke of that historical day. I wish I had been there to see it.

The March on Washington, August 28, 1963

We have come a long way as a society in countering racism. While racism still occurs in the United States and around the world, most Americans would agree that racism has declined since Dr. King delivered his speech in 1963. We now have an African-American president, President Obama, whose father was from Kenya, mother a Caucasian from Kansas, and has a half-sister whose father was Indonesian. Income inequality, particularly among minorities, still exists and worsened during the recent economic downturn, but the days of segregation and institutionalized racism are over. This is Dr. King’s legacy.

When President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, a fact few remember, I wondered why the Federal Government would establish a holiday dedicated to someone who had not been elected to public office. I thought of Chief Joseph, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X, and Frederick Douglass, other influential pioneers of human rights in America who deserved to be honored. Now that we have an American-American president serving during a divisive period in U.S. history, I appreciate more than ever that the honor went to Dr. King, who rose above politics to focus on ideals. Each of us has our own view of what this holiday means to us. To me, it represents the celebration of unity and freedom regardless of race and creed. As Dr. King said in his 1963 speech:

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Most people have never read Dr. King’s speech, one of the greatest orations in history. It sends a powerful message that still rings true today. What strikes me most is that Dr. King called on us to join hands in unity with those who are different. Therein lay the essence of freedom. This message is easy to disregard in our supercharged political environment. Americans need to come together in unity, not as Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, urban or rural, Red or Blue Stater, Tea Partier or Occupy Wall Streeter, African American, Caucasian, Asian, or Native American, but as Americans. The day this happens will be a very tremendous one for America. I can only hope and pray that day comes soon.

Here is Dr. King’s speech in its entirety.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I Have A Dream”

The March on Washington

August 28, 1963

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Here are previous posts I wrote in honor of Dr. King and Rosa Parks, another pioneer in the American Civil Rights movement.

http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2005/01/19/reflecting-on-dr-king/

http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2006/01/17/martin-luther-king-jr-s-legacy/

http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2005/11/03/thank-you-rosa-parks/

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him at me@mgedwards.com.