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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Harlem program forms a circle of success for kids

Harlem program forms a circle of success for kids
BY LEONARD PITTS JR.

HARLEM—The late day sky was spitting snow. Inside the classroom, tiny black children, younger than kindergarten age, sat in a circle, legs folded ‘’crisscross applesauce’’ beneath them. Soon, they would begin their French lesson, but first there was a ritual chant.

‘’There is a girl in our class and her name is Khadija,’’ they began, voices rising in little kid enthusiasm, hands clapping in time. Khadija got up, moved to the center of the circle and began jumping with all her heart. ‘’Jump, jump, Khadija,’’ they sang. ‘’We’re glad you’re here today.’’ Around the room they went until each child had a turn in the center of the circle.

In the hours I recently spent touring the Harlem Children’s Zone, a 97-square-block network of schools, social services and teen outreach programs, I saw many affecting sights. But for some reason, the most affecting was this portrait of sweet innocence, flourishing in one of the nation’s poorest places.

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Posted by Dallas on 01/31 at 09:38 AM in News
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Monday, January 29, 2007

Neighbor’s house (High school memories)

This is one of my mother’s brothers at, what was, our neighbor’s house in Shreveport, Lousyana.

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Posted by SPN on 01/29 at 02:43 PM in PhotographyHigh School Memories
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

1981 swing at a fair (High school memories)

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Posted by SPN on 01/27 at 01:29 PM in PhotographyHigh School Memories
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Urge President Bush to Act on Darfur

Unfortunately, the President spared few words on Darfur in his speech and failed to call for the actions needed to stop the violence that threatens millions of innocent Darfuri civilians.

The time for talk has passed—it has been nearly four years since the violence began in Darfur!

Will you please take two minutes to call the White House comment line now to express your disappointment in the President’s handling of Darfur in his State of the Union address and urge him to push for real action?

Step 1: Dial 202-456-1111 to reach the White House comment line.
Step 2: Use the talking points below when prompted to leave your comment.
Step 3: Click here to report your call back to us (this is very important - please don’t skip this step!)

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Posted by SPN on 01/26 at 12:31 PM in Racism / Prejudice
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Air conditioner exhaust. (High school memories)

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Posted by SPN on 01/25 at 05:38 PM in PhotographyHigh School Memories
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

AFRO PERU

En ce début d’année, l’exposition itinérante Afriques Latines réalisée par le photographe Florian Coat fait escale du 3 au 23 février 2007 à la boutique INTI PERU, 17 rue de Picardie à Paris –
Métro : Filles du Calvaire, Temple, République.
informations : 0871759575 / http://www.intiperu.com

Le vernissage aura lieu le samedi 3 février 2006 de 18h à 22h00. Simultanément, l’association CAPULI invite Français, Européens et Latinos à se réunir pour la deuxième édition de la fête du Pisco péruvien, la boisson nationale péruvienne. Des amuse-gueules seront servis pour le plaisir du palais.

L’accès à l’exposition et la dégustation de Pisco au travers de différents cocktails, sont gratuits.

Les photographies présentées sont inédites et proposent une rencontre avec les Cultures et Peuples afro-péruviens. 

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Posted by SPN on 01/24 at 12:35 PM in International
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The many faces of American Muslims

I found this story in Salon magazine about this book very interesting. 
Author Paul Barrett deftly upends the stereotypes that Westerners harbor about Muslims—and shows why militant Islamism is less likely to take root here than in other countries. By Laura Miller

Jan. 15, 2007 | “American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion,” by Paul Barrett, is the ideal book to enlighten a whole host of people who don’t realize they need it. That includes everyone who claims that moderate Muslims haven’t spoken up against fundamentalist militants or that all Muslim women go around veiled or that the religion is inherently warlike. It also includes everyone whose only response to Islamist terrorism is to talk about the sins of Israel, those who claim that Islam doesn’t have a growing problem with violent fanatics or the role of women, and those who insist that it is purely a religion of peace.

Barrett, a former reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal, has done a nearly miraculous job of writing thoughtfully, clearly and sensibly about a subject that usually stirs up a viper’s nest of prejudice, defensiveness and paranoia. Yet “American Islam” isn’t, strictly speaking, objective, newspaper-style reporting—even if it has some of the characteristics of that school of journalism. In this collection of portraits of American Muslims, all struggling with their religion and its place in their world in one way or another, Barrett doesn’t forgo all judgment. He has his own firm notions of right and wrong when it comes to the issues his book raises, and he’s not afraid to challenge his subjects. But he keeps himself in the background and doesn’t make a spectacle of his own role in researching their stories, as a showier (or greener) journalist might be tempted to do. “American Islam” is above all a scrupulously fair book.

This, unfortunately, makes it unfashionable at a time when many confuse incisiveness with leaping to an opinion and defending it fiercely, whether or not you know what you’re talking about. All those people who falsely believe that they’re already well enough informed about Islam to merit their fiery conclusions—as well as those who don’t really care whether they are or not—will probably never crack open a copy of “American Islam.” True, those are the people who need it most, but readers with curious and open minds will still find a lot that’s intriguing and revelatory in Barrett’s book.

The topic is especially important now, after the discovery of the plot to smuggle explosives on transatlantic flights this past summer and the successful London transit attacks of the summer before. That conspirators in both plots included British natives shocked many observers; previously, the Islamist terrorism directed at Western civilians had mostly been perpetrated by the disgruntled citizens of Middle Eastern nations. If Britain was producing homegrown Muslim terrorists, what about the United States? So far, U.S. citizens have been rare among the ranks of militant Islam (Jose Padilla, a prison convert, is the best-known exception), even though America ranks right up there with Israel as the Great Satan in the Islamist worldview. 

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Posted by Nuttshell on 01/17 at 04:12 PM in Religion / Sprituality
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Voices from Iraq (continued)

Another letter from a book excerpt What Was Asked of Us by Trish Wood in the “The Last Word” column in the Week, a weekly news/political magazine. 

Daniel B. Cotnoir, Mortuary Affairs, Feb.-Sep. 2004 Marine Corps Times’ “Marine of the Year”
We had a lot of pretty bad improvised explosives devices, but for me the one that really marked it was an Army unit that got hit by an IED in a drainage culvert.  It was right on the the outside of Habbaniya.  They had filled a drainage culvert with explosives and blew up an armored personnel carrier.  We knew we were in the s--- at that point because when we drove up to the scene, the hole in the road was so big that an Abrams tank on the scene couldn’t drive over the hole; it had to go around it.  Then we look down the road and there’s just a motor and tranny on the street, 100 yards from where the blast hole is.  We were there 10 hours or more, picking up more than 3,000 [body] parts.  While you’re out there doing it, you become a machine.  You just pick it up, put it in a bag, make a note.  It crosses that line.  There’s a soldier or a Marine or someone’s that’s dead and it is gruesome to just beyond the realm of a horror film, and I don’t think you can even put your head around it.  You just do it.  Some of them you couldn’t tell what it was, as much as you just knew it was a body part.

There were the remains the four or five guys spread out over 600 square yards.  We had to walk a grid.  It was just like a police scene.  We had different-color flags marked personal belongings, whether it was a wallet or a picture or anything like that.  We had to take photos of the scene so that if it ever had to be reconstructed, they could reconstruct it.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/16 at 03:07 PM in Blogging
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Voices from Iraq

I read the following letter from a book excerpt What Was Asked of Us by Trish Wood in the “The Last Word” column in the Week, a weekly news/political magazine. 

Garett Reppenhagen, Cavalry scout/sniper, 1st Infantry Division, Feb. 2004-Feb.2005, Baquba
One of the worst injuries I remember happened during an ambush.  He was in a personal-security detachment for the colonel.  They were going out to a spot that was ambushed earlier, and they stopped and he actually got out of the Humvee, dismounted, pulling security while the colonel got out to talk to some people.  As soon as he got out of the vehicle they detonated an IED right in his face.  It blew him backward with such force that his chin hit the Humvee and just shattered his jaw, and his chin and his throat were torn out pretty badly by the blast.  It blew his Kevlar off of his head because the shrapnel busted his strap, and it blew his Kevlar completely over the Humvee, and the helmet landed on the other side.  He had his jaw all reconstructed.  It was wired shut for the longest time.  Then he was speaking with a little electronic voice box that you hold up to your neck.  He’s one of those people who just can’t accept that the war is wrong.  He wanted to come back to the unit.  He wanted to fight.

When we got back from Iraq, he was there, and he spoke to us once.  He stood up in front of everybody and told us in his little robot voice how much he wanted to be in Iraq.  That was too much to bear because I know how brainwashed he was and how he’ll never think differently about it.  Always support the war and what we did there because it’s hard to admit that you’ve been duped and that you got all f---ed up for nothing.  You can’t go up to the guy and say, “Hey, man, you’re wrong.  You got f---ed up for no good reason,” and just pat him on the back.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/16 at 03:07 PM in Blogging
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Friday, January 12, 2007

The holy blitz rolls on

I am not anti-religious but I found some of the things discussed by the author to be instructive about the rising “fascism” that is tolerated by the Christian Right.

The Christian right is a “deeply anti-democratic movement” that gains force by exploiting Americans’ fears, argues Chris Hedges. Salon talks with the former New York Times reporter about his fearless new book, “American Fascists.”
By Michelle Goldberg

Jan. 08, 2007 | Longtime war correspondent Chris Hedges, the former New York Times bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans, knows a lot about the savagery that people are capable of, especially when they’re besotted with dreams of religious or national redemption. In his acclaimed 2002 book, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” he wrote: “I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of Southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments.” Hedges was part of New York Times team of reporters that won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting about global terrorism.

Given such intimacy with horror, one might expect him to be aloof from the seemingly less urgent cultural disputes that dominate domestic American politics. Yet in the rise of America’s religious right, Hedges senses something akin to the brutal movements he’s spent his life chronicling. The title of his new book speaks for itself: “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Scores of volumes about the religious right have recently been published (one of them, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” by me), but Hedges’ book is perhaps the most furious and foreboding, all the more so because he knows what fascism looks like.

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Posted by Nuttshell on 01/12 at 05:21 PM in Religion / Sprituality
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