Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Eritrean journalist Seyoum Tsehaye has been chosen as “Journalist of the Year 2007” by Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France. The panel of judges sought to highlight not only the case of this brave journalist held in Eritrea’s appalling jails since September 2001 but also the catastrophic state of press freedom in this small Horn of Africa country. At least four journalists have died in prison in Eritrea over the last few years. The blame lies chiefly at the door of Issaias Afeworki, the highly authoritarian and obdurate president of the country since its independence in 1993.Read the full press release from Reporters Without Borders here.
There's a photo of Seyoum at the AI Group 19 website.
AI Group 22 in Pasadena works in behalf of Estifanos Seyoum, another Eritrea prisoner of conscience held incommunicado since the 2001 crackdown. We hope that the publicity generated by this award might help to persuade the Eritrean authorities to improve their country's human rights situation or at least result in the release of information about these journalists and former government officials detained without trial or charges since 2001.
Here's the Amnesty Magazine version of their story and Marina takes questions from activists here. Amnesty International - UK tells us how Anna came to be involved in the project. And the BBC gives the project a little coverage,
For those who would like a little contextual background and visual stimulus, here's an exhibition of Moscow Samizdat books and another of vintage Soviet propaganda posters.
If the book, From Newbury With Love, evokes the lost worlds of the Cold War, it's also a reminder of an era when people wrote each other letters, rather than e-mails and texts.
And Marina says she regrets the lost pleasures of the letter.
"You looked at the stamp, you opened the letter, you smelt it. First, you read it very quickly, and then in the evening, when the children were in bed, my mum would take a glass of wine, light a cigarette and read and re-read and really enjoy the letter. It's physical, you see their handwriting, you keep the letters."
And a bit more tangential, check out the Wikipedia enry on the Kishinev pogrom
and this memorial site and learn about a little piece of Jewish history.
In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Here are some fun supplemental links for our reading of Jason Elliot's Mirrors of the Unseen. Further information about the animated celebration of Isfahan can be found here.
Here's a YouTube demonstration of the mosque's acoustical properties
and here are the shaking minarets. Some YouTube demonstrations of Zurkhaneh (both narrated in French) can be found here and here. You can find a few extra pictures of Louise Firouz and the Caspian Horse here. Last but not least, I discovered that UNESCO has this neat World Heritage Tour site that allows you to visit several of the historic sites explored in the book via 360° panoramic view. You! Are! There!
This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption, sexual repression, religious extremism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.
All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.
These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Meanwhile, instead of releasing prisoners of conscience and permitting freedom of speech and association, the Eritrean government is hosting conferences for the Somalian opposition and encouraging further destabilization of the region. The US government has taken note,
Hmm. Maybe if the US government had put more pressure on the Eritrean government five or six years ago there would still be a viable opposition to work with?
[US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi] Frazer said that this was about more than just simply considering Eritrea as a rogue state in the region.
It was quite specifically Eritrea's relationship with recognised terrorists which could lead to its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
This, in turn, she said would bring a change in the nature of its relationship with the US and in the ability of the US and other countries to provide assistance to Eritrea's government.
In 1971 a retired English bookseller joined an Amnesty International campaign to write letters to children of political prisoners. He chose seven-year-old Marina Aidova because her birthday was one day before his, and he had always loved Russia and its literature. His postcard was signed, "With love from Newbury, Berks, England." Marina, whose father was in one of the harshest Soviet prison camps, wrote back: "I am a first class schoolgirl. I learn ballet and study English. And what are you?"
So began a correspondence that changed their lives. For the next fifteen years they exchanged letters, telegrams, magazines, and books . . . while a profound affection grew. Marina and her mother drew great strength from the exchange-it was a lifeline to another, more hopeful world. Through Harold's encouragement, Marina was inspired to study English at university, and eventually went on to work as an English translator.
Published in association with Amnesty International, the families' correspondence-along with over thirty photos they exchanged-is collected here, making for a moving look at the powerful influence one family can have on another in need, halfway around the world.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
NPR's Day to Day did a profile on the author a couple years back: Book Bag: Laos as Character in 'The Coroner's Lunch'
Monday, July 30, 2007
Filling a long-neglected gap in the travel writing of the region, Mirrors of the Unseen is a rare and timely portrait of the nation descended from the world's earliest superpower: Iran. Animated by the same spirit of exploration as its acclaimed predecessor, An Unexpected Light, and drawing on several years of independent travel and research, this thought-provoking work weaves together observations of life in contemporary Iran with history, politics, and a penetrating enquiry into the secrets of Islamic art. Generously illustrated with the author's own sketches and photographs, Mirrors of the Unseen is a rich, sensitive, and vivid account of a country and its culture.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The spectacle of state-ordered death has been on display across the world this week — in the sentencing of a Los Angeles serial killer whose case revealed that another man had been wrongly convicted for several of the crimes; in the dispiriting case of a Georgia man set for execution despite the shaky evidence against him; in the abrupt killing of a Chinese official by a government more interested in image than justice; in the stoning of an Iranian man for violating his nation's moral code; in the sentencing of six almost-certainly innocent foreign medical workers in Libya. Which of these is more barbaric?These editorials follow on an op-ed, Doing time for no crime, by Arthur Carmona, a young man wrongfully convicted of robbery and sentenced to 17 years in prison, serving three before gaining his release. Carmona is now campaigning for criminal justice reform and recommends legislation that will prevent wrongful convictions,
Senate Bill 756, sponsored by Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), would require the state Department of Justice to develop new guidelines for eyewitness identification procedures. For example, guidelines in other states limit the use of in-field show-ups like the one that led to my wrongful conviction.These bills were crafted in response to the findings of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice which will issue an opinion on the ultimate fairness of the death penalty in the near future. See our sidebar for information on contacting Gov. Schwarzenegger and your state legislators with your views on these measures to prevent wrongful convictions.
Senate Bill 511, sponsored by Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), would require recording of the entire interrogation, including the Miranda warning, in cases of violent felonies. Electronic recording of interrogations would not only help end false confessions but also discourage police detectives from lying during interrogations — as they did in my case by claiming to have videotaped evidence of me.
Senate Bill 609, sponsored by Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), would prevent convictions based on uncorroborated testimony by jailhouse snitches.
Meanwhile, congrats to Rwanda! They abolished the death penalty this week.
Friday, July 13, 2007
"I'm a big city dweller," he explains. "The world has become majority urban and this urban narrative is rapidly becoming the typical human narrative. I would say Moth Smoke was an urban third world novel, much more than a southern Asian novel. A magazine editor in Chile who had read the Spanish translation phoned me up out the blue and said 'This book is about Santiago!' which shows how a city can resonate across the world."Looking forward to reading his latest in the near future.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
And here's a story from PRI's The World about a former Peace Corps worker who has helped revive folk songs that were banned during Taliban rule for the benefit of today's Afghan children. What a lovely gift!
From a 2004 report from the International Crisis Group, Pakistan: Reforming the Education Sector,
Recent attempts at reform have made little headway, and spending as a share of national output has fallen in the past five years. Pakistan is now one of just twelve countries that spend less than 2 per cent of GDP on education. Moreover, an inflexible curriculum and political interference have created schools that have barely lifted very low literacy rates.From a May 2007 report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,
ICIJ's data show that when all U.S. programs are combined, Pakistan's increase in U.S. military aid in the three years after 9/11 is a stunning 45,000 percent, growing from just $9 million in the three years before the attacks to more than $4 billion in the three years after. In the process, Pakistan has become the No. 3 recipient of U.S. military training and assistance, trailing only longtime leaders Israel and Egypt.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A sampling of Galen Rowell's photos from Pakistan.
Just for fun, more about snow leopards from the Snow Leopard Trust.
The New York Times reports on attacks on female students attending schools in Afghanistan.
Shukria, the slain 13-year-old, was considered a polite girl who reverently studied the Koran. Saadia, the other student killed, was remarkable in that she was married and 25. She had refused to let age discourage her from finishing an education interrupted by the Taliban years. She was about to graduate.The article includes a photo essay.
A recent Amnesty International report Afghanistan: All who are not friends, are enemies: Taleban abuses against civilians offers up some grim statistics:
- At least 172 violent attacks on schools took place in the first six months of 2006 compared with 60 for the whole of 2005.
- 75 students, teachers and other school staff were killed in attacks between 2005 to 2006.
- Between 2005-2006, 359 schools were closed in the provinces of Kandahar, Paktika, Zabul, Ghazni, Khost, Helmand Uruzgan and Daikundi due to security concerns for children and teachers, denying access to education for around 132,800 children.
- 183 schools were burned in arson attacks across the country between 2005-2006.
- Six children have died as a result of school attacks in 2006.
One reason attacks like these continue is the lack of accountability for past human rights violations. Put pressure on the Afghan government to end impunity here.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Meanwhile, we've been drawn to another story playing out in the pages of the Star News, "Police identify Taser victim", "Details on Taser victim emerge," yet another tragic death by Taser.
A review of Amnesty's position on Tasers:
Since June 2001, there have been over 230 TASER-related deaths. According to an Amnesty International study, 61 people alone died in 2005 after being shocked by law-enforcement agency TASERs, over twenty times the number killed in 2001. AI is concerned that TASERs are being used as tools of routine force --rather than as weapons of last resort--and calls on law-enforcement agencies to withhold use pending an independent, unbiased study of their effects.Amnesty has two reports from 2004 and 2006 offering more details of these Taser-related deaths and the lack of independent verification of the safety of these "non-lethal" weapons or for something more user-friendly, there is the Amnesty magazine article "Aftershocks". There's also a whole page of multimedia resources and news.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Hey, did anybody catch the KPFK interview on July 5? Not to worry, as you can find it in their audio archive (July 5, Morning Review with Eisha Mason). He was leaving for Pakistan that day. And here's a transcript of a fairly recent interview by Maria Hinojosa on PBS' Now.
Finally, here's a taste of a Beliefnet interview,
I don’t think I’m a hero. My heroes are the children going to school... There’s one thing that makes me feel so incredibly proud and joyous--it’s watching that first girl going down the trail into the school.
That first brave girl, I know what’s it’s taken to get on that path. It’s dealing with the elders, some cultural bias, or the mullahs. But most often she does have the support of the community. Watching that first girl is like watching man taking his first step on the moon--one giant leap for mankind.Behind that girl comes dozens more girls, eventually hundreds and thousands. And when that girl becomes a mother, her values are instilled in the community. So I don’t think of myself as a hero. I think if this as just--I’m a dedicated person. To me, my real heroes are every child that I can watch reading and writing for the first time. It’s such a joyous thing to watch.
First, here is the website for the book Three Cups of Tea and one for co-author David Oliver Relin. The Central Asia Institute has its own site, one desperately in need of a blog, I might add. Fans/supporters need to know what's goin' down! At least there are a few pictures. Pennies For Peace is the website for teachers and students and includes a downloadable curriculum guide and a list of age-appropriate suggested reading.
Coming up: links to interviews with Greg Mortenson...
Friday, June 29, 2007
"The Supreme Court has taken a much-needed step toward a more humane America," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "Perhaps now we can recognize that this country's resources would be much better spent improving the mental health system to help ensure that similarly tragic crimes are not committed in the first place."And for the insider legal spin, see this post from Capital Defense Weekly. We present below a 27 minute documentary from Texas Defender Service on the case, notable for the portrait it gives of the death penalty's unsung victims, the inmate's family members.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case of Troy Davis (which we featured in our June newsletter). Amnesty has a statement and report (Where is justice for me?) on this case too, and more importantly its time to step up the clemency campaign! For further inspiration and also on the subject of inmate families, Abolish the Death Penalty has more on the Davis case from that perspective, complete with book suggestion (we love book recommendations!)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
We are a little late in pointing out the Pasadena Weekly's article (No cause for celebration) on local Falun Gong members disappointment in the Tournament of Roses decision to highlight a float celebrating the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Our own Wen Chen was prominently featured,
“If we want to invite the Chinese government to have a float in Pasadena, we should raise the issue of a family member of a [former] Pasadena resident in a labor camp because of the Olympics,” said Wen Chen, an employee of Caltech and member of its Falun Gong Club.On Monday night (June 25) Wen and some of her friends took their moving stories of persecution and imprisonment to the Pasadena City Council. You can visit the City of Pasadena - City Council Streaming Video page to hear the presentation (second agenda item - you can try to use the "jump to" feature to get there a little faster).
Pasadenans! We suggest further educating your council members by sharing with them key points from Amnesty's recent report China: The Olympics countdown. The report highlights the case of Bu Dongwei, the husband of one of Wen's colleagues,
Case update - Bu Dongwei: Falun Gong practitioner Bu Dongwei is now known to be held at Tuanhe RTL facility in Beijing, where he is reportedly forced to do packing work. His family only received official confirmation of his whereabouts at the end of August 2006, three months after he was first detained. The authorities have reportedly claimed that he decided not to appeal against his two-and-a-half year term, but his family dispute this. Officials from Tuanhe RTL facility have reportedly asked Bu Dongwei’s family to contribute money towards his living expenses – around 400 Yuan per month (approx. US$52).City officials should bear in mind in their dealings with Chinese officials-- for example in activities that support Pasadena's sister city relationship with Xicheng-- that there are Pasadena residents directly affected by China's disregard for the rule of law and the principles of democracy. In the Weekly, Alan Lamson, chair of the China Subcommittee of the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee is quoted,
Bu Dongwei (also known as David Bu) was assigned to two-and-a-half years’ RTL on 19 June 2006 in Beijing for "resisting the implementation of national law and disturbing social order" after police discovered Falun Gong literature at his home. The authorities initially refused to disclose his place of detention to his family. Bu Dongwei had been working in Beijing for the U.S. aid organization, the Asia Foundation, before he was taken away by police from his home in Haidian district on 19 May 2006. Amnesty International considers Bu Dongwei to be a prisoner of conscience, detained in violation of his fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, association and religion, and continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release
“Our position is that it's much better to get to know someone, even if you disagree with them... to hear their point of view and to get them to see your point of view. That's been more beneficial than to say, ‘Sorry, we don't want to have a relationship with you.'”
Yes! Relationships are good! We are just afraid that 'our point of view' in these transactions seldom includes expressing concern over cases like Bu Dongwei's or Shi Tao's. City officials and civic representatives such as Mr. Lamson need to become educated about human rights and make that a part of our relationship. Be an educator! City council contacts can be found here. Sister City Committee contact info here.
Final Note: Of course, the treatment of prisoners of conscience is not the only reason for our representatives to be cautious about celebrating China's Olympic spirit. There is also the matter of China's involvement in Darfur, Sudan and the ongoing campaign to get China to use its influence on the Sudanese government to end atrocities in that region. There's a whole project devoted to drawing attention to this concern (including alternative torch relay) via the interest in the 2008 games: Olympic Dream for Darfur. Other resources to use in your project to educate your councilperson about the Olympics and human rights include Human Rights in China's Incorporating Responsibility: 2008 and Human Rights Watch's Beijing Olympics 2008.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Dangerous Living examines the struggles and triumphs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the Global South. It is the first documentary to deeply explore the lives of GLBT people in non-western cultures. The crew of Dangerous Living traveled to five continents to tell the heartbreaking and triumphant stories of these incredible individuals on film.A preview of the film is available here. Help us take action on behalf of LGBT people around the world!
The persecution of gay men in Egypt attracted much attention from the western press. However, most occurrences of oppression of LGBT individuals around the world receive no media coverage at all. By sharing the personal stories of LGBT activists from other countries, Dangerous Living sheds light on an emerging global movement striving to end the atrocities against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Monday, June 18, 2007
From the bestselling author of The Swallows of Kabul comes this timely and haunting novel that powerfully illuminates the devastating human costs of terrorism.
Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab-Israeli surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. As an admired and respected member of his community, he has carved a space for himself and his wife, Sihem, at the crossroads of two troubled societies. Jaafari’s world is abruptly shattered when Sihem is killed in a suicide bombing.
As evidence mounts that Sihem could have been responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Jaafari begins a tortured search for answers. Faced with the ultimate betrayal, he must find a way to reconcile his cherished memories of his wife with the growing realization that she may have had another life, one that was entirely removed from the comfortable, modern existence that they shared.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"From the start I've tried to write books which began from a presumption of the gayness of the narrative position," says Hollinghurst. "To write about gay life from a gay perspective unapologetically and as naturally as most novels are written from a heterosexual position. When I started writing, that seemed a rather urgent and interesting thing to do. It hadn't really been done."
The BBC has a site for the mini-series based on the book and you can read an interview with Hollinghurst and director Andrew Davies abou the adaptation at Time Out London. A peek at the series is available here.
If you want to bone up on your Henry James to enhance your appreciation of the novel, this site seems to be an exhaustive (exhausting?) set of links
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
June 12 marks the release of the big Sudan-fundraiser album Instant Karma, a tribute to John Lennon. I know its June 12 because that just so happens to be the birthday of the Lennon-lover in my life... hmmm, problem solved! Surely some of you can find a similar way to spread the peace!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Sunday, June 03, 2007
unending plastic flowersAn excellent resource on Tiananmen is the website for the Frontline documentary Tiananmen: The Gate of Heavenly Peace and don't forget to leave a bouquet on the square for the Tiananmen Mothers!
on the dead left bank
the cement square extending
from writing to
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
These attempts to tinker endlessly with the mechanism of execution are both misguided and futile. The real problems that plague the death penalty system transcend the method by which a person is put to death. No matter how "sanitized" the execution process, the death penalty remains racially biased, carries the very real risk of executing the innocent and is arbitrary and capricious at its very core.Also, you can take action online on behalf of Texas death row inmate Cathy Henderson here. Her supporters' website reports on new medical evidence in the case and has other action suggestions.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We spoke first about our concern for human rights in Eritrea, and urged him to contact Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (as several other Congresspersons have already done) to ask her to inquire into the status and treatment of Eritrean prisoners of conscience, including imprisoned opposition figures, journalists and religious leaders. Rep. Schiff appeared very receptive to this request. We were happy to have informed him of our on-going interest in the human rights crisis in Eritrea as we know it is easy to overlook among the more headline-grabbing international conflict zones.
We had noted Congressman Schiff's interest in press freedom from his website. You can read a recent floor speech he gave on World Press Freedom Day here and it appears that he intends to be a leader on this issue. This is good news for our work on behalf of Eritrean journalists, as well as Russian journalists such as the late Anna Politkovskaya (Rights Readers selection Putin's Russia). But we also thought this was a great opportunity to ask the Congressman's support for the Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 275) which would help ensure that the Internet remains an open forum for free expression in every part of the world, and help American companies resist pressure from authoritarian governments to compromise their principles. The act may help to prevent cases such as Chinese Journalist and Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience Shi Tao whose identity was revealed to Chinese authorities by Yahoo! and who subsequently received a ten year sentence for exercising his right to free speech. You can help urge the Congressman to support this legislation by taking action here.
Finally, we got ahead of Amnesty's effort to turn activists out to lobby for fair judicial proceedings for Guantanamo detainees in conjunction with the annual International Day for Survivors of Torture in late June and asked for Rep. Schiff's support for H.R. 1416 The Habeas Restoration Act. The right to challenge one’s detention in front of an independent court is one of the most fundamental protections against arbitrary detention and other human rights violations. We're all proud of our judicial tradition and these are the principles we want to export not hide from! Rep. Schiff emphasized that he opposed the revocation of habeas and was very receptive to supporting this bill, commenting that he might look into a broader approach. (Broader is good! How about we close Guantanamo?!) In any case we suggest that you urge Rep. Schiff to become a co-sponsor of the bill here.
You can also take action on H.R. 275 and H.R. 1416 at Congressman Schiff's website.
We'll keep you up to date on these actions when we get more information.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
When Enrique is five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade.
Lourdes promises Enrique she will return quickly. But she struggles in America. Years pass. He begs for his mother to come back. Without her, he becomes lonely and troubled. When she calls, Lourdes tells him to be patient. Enrique despairs of ever seeing her again. After eleven years apart, he decides he will go find her.
Enrique sets off alone from Tegucigalpa, with little more than a slip of paper bearing his mother’s North Carolina telephone number. Without money, he will make the dangerous and illegal trek up the length of Mexico the only way he can–clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains.
With gritty determination and a deep longing to be by his mother’s side, Enrique travels through hostile, unknown worlds. Each step of the way through Mexico, he and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. Gangsters control the tops of the trains. Bandits rob and kill migrants up and down the tracks. Corrupt cops all along the route are out to fleece and deport them. To evade Mexican police and immigration authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call El Tren de la Muerte–The Train of Death. Enrique pushes forward using his wit, courage, and hope–and the kindness of strangers. It is an epic journey, one thousands of immigrant children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Elkins said, ``When I was writing, there was a bit of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't. If you wrote a book like this and didn't have an opinion, people would say, `For God's sake, how can you possibly not have an opinion about this?' But if you express anything that hints at partiality, people will say you're not impartial enough."and from one of her critics,
Kenyan historian Bethwell Ogot questioned Elkins's honesty in quoting anonymous settlers' confessions of tortures: ``How do we know these are not fabricated confessions intended to paint the British in the worst possible light?" he wrote in The Journal of African History. In a review in the Times of London, historian Lawrence James wrote, ``Like other American academics, [Elkins] is an heir of the [American] war of independence and schooled to believe that all empires are intrinsically evil, corrupting and integral to the `old Europe' of current American demonology. . . . The reputation of the British empire can withstand the defamation of holier-than-thou American academics."Gotta love those Brits! But they aren't all like that... the New Statesman offers a counter view. Plus they offer a bit of psychoanalysis from Michela Wrong (Rights Readers selection, I Didn't Do It for You : How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation). I must say that the piece made me a bit uncomfortable.
NPR, the Guardian and the BBC (here and here) report on the efforts of the Mau Maus to seek restitution. The BBC report contains a tantalizing sidebar of audio/visual offerings (Terence Gavaghan "I feel no guilt") that don't function for me. Best of luck to those with different computer configurations. Finally, for a sense of how the Mau Mau rebellion was presented to the British public at the time it was happening, check out this YouTube video.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
And hey look, its a present from Senator Feinstein!
Have a great day even if you just celebrate by admiring some tulips or having a bit of fun on a swing.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
My leaves were green as the best, I trow,And sap ran free in my veins,But I saw in the moonlight dim and weirdA guiltless victim's pains.
The Innocence Project also has a campaign up to draw attention to the 200 exoneree milestone that was reached this week.
Meanwhile, we are keeping an eye on the May 8 hearing instigated by State Senator Gloria Romero into the building of the secret death chamber at San Quentin. Time to drop your state senator a line and let them know that you're happy that this wasteful construction has stopped but that the process of finding a new execution method needs to be as public as possible and should engage the notion that its not just the methodology that's flawed, but that the death penalty itself is ineffective as a crime deterrent, arbitrary, racist and holds too much risk of executing the innocent (see above!). At the very least, executions should be put on hold in our state until the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice completes its report on the death penalty.
Click here to look up contact info for your California State Senator.
Write/email your state senator to let him/her know that rehabiliation should be the primary mission of our penal system and that children are the most receptive to our efforts in this regard! See links above for additional arguments and statistics to make your case.Look up your state senator here or see the sidebar box for contacting your legislators and send them an email.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The chestnut tree that Anne Frank looked out on during the time she was hiding is seriously diseased. The causes of its present poor condition are a moth and a fungus attacking the tree and may eventually kill it.In addition to the news report linked above there's a bit of tree video here. You can even leave a leaf on a virtual version of the tree (page opens with sound). I must say that while virtual trees are a nice idea, I do recommend getting outside today and hugging a favorite tree in celebration of the day!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Less taxing on the tech-challenged are our new Rights Readers Literary Maps! These are maps marking the settings of books we have read. So far the maps of North America and South America are complete. Be sure to zoom in on LA and NYC as the pins get thick in those spots. We have nice start on a walking tour of Manhattan. In Los Angeles its more like a Gold/Red/Blue Line tour. Also, compare the exercise yards at various penal institutions. (We really get around!) These links have been added to the sidebar and will be updated as we visit more locations.
Finally, I recently discovered a fascinating map blog I think my Esteemed Readers will love: Strange Maps. Check it out!