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May 25th
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Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

sam farr2Where does congress stand with passing new gun-related legislation, and what elements are you fighting most strongly to make sure are included?

In last weekend’s Weekly Address to the nation, President [Barack] Obama renewed the call for legislation to prevent gun violence and championed the work already done by Congress on the issue. In the three months since the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn. that sparked this latest round of debate, we have made some progress to end the violence but still much is left undone.

The Senate has steadily worked on new legislation to reduce gun violence. Several bills are making their way to the floor for final passage that will strengthen background checks and crackdown on individuals who purchase guns to funnel to criminals. These two measures, which have broad support by the public, would greatly reduce the number of guns available to criminals.

Unfortunately, there have been some setbacks along the way. Last week, Sen. Harry Reid announced that he would not bring the assault weapons ban to the floor for a vote. Troubling as that news is, the fight is not over. Hopefully Sen. Diane Feinstein can successfully introduce an amendment to include that provision. Military-style weapons do not belong in our communities and it deserves an up or down vote.

The Republican controlled House still remains the major hurdle to overcome and it is unclear what legislation Speaker John Boehner will try to pass.  Everything relies on enough centrist Republicans willing to buck their far right Tea Party colleagues to join with Democrats to pass some common sense legislation. The House Democrats, led by California Rep. Mike Thompson, have convened a task force to develop a bill that can draw in enough Republicans to pass.

I have been working with the task force to advance several of my own provisions in the Democrats’ bill. Chief amongst them is the simple idea that all gun laws should apply to all guns. It makes no sense that we treat handguns, shotguns and rifles differently. They are all guns and should be treated as such.

Finally, I have been pushing for universal background checks and want them to include any military court records. Strong background checks are the best tool to keep guns out of the hands of violent individuals and I will continue to fight until that becomes the law.

As U.S. wars overseas draw to a close, will defense spending shrink accordingly?

When I take a look at the budget projections for the next 10 years, the question I am left asking is “Where is the peace dividend?”

Since World War II, our country has scaled back military spending to match the reduction in active duty troop levels that come at the end of a major conflict. It makes sense that with lower troop levels, the funds needed to support those troops would be reduced.

As our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan draws to a close, we will see a slight reduction in the Pentagon’s budget but the majority of that is due to the sequester, which the Republicans would like to see reversed. Despite the fact we will no longer be engaged in two wars, many in Washington feel the need to divert limited dollars from domestic programs to use instead on wasteful military programs. 

Even if the sequester levels remain in place, the Pentagon’s budget will match the spending levels from the height of Vietnam or the Cold War when adjusted to today’s dollars. What makes that statistic even more alarming is that we have only about half the number of active troops now as our country did during that time period.

Instead of padding the profit margins of large defense contractors, we should use the potential savings where they are truly needed, on investments here at home—including helping returned veterans. A large number of soldiers will come home to the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder or injuries that require long-term care.  Additionally, others will face the tough task of finding employment in this still fragile economy. We should invest the savings of ending the two wars into programs that help our veterans return to the civilian world.  We need a peace budget, not one that thinks we are still at war. 

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Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

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