Friday, November 11, 2011

Rot, Banana Republic! Rot!

What a disgusting name for a store. Consumers should make this idiot company change its name to something less embarrasing. No respect for this company's senior management until they change the store's brand name.
Someone needs to find these guys a creative marketer to make the transition. Maybe "Tahrir"?
Here's a good link
http://zoestrauss.blogspot.com/2006/10/shift-in-language-banana-republic.html


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poems by Suzan Shown Harjo: jumping through the hoops of history and Macacalypto

Reposted from the "Indian Country" rss feed:
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/feed/

------
I wrote this poem in 1990, as we were starting The 1992 Alliance, a national coalition that promoted Native Peoples and histories during the build-up to the Columbus Quincentenary. As ships were being launched, again, and discovery celebrations were being planned for 1992 500-years anniversary, we were making sure that there would be commemorations of the more than 500 Native Nations that did not survive, as well as a celebration of those that did, and that we rocked some boats and declared some places as Columbus-free zones. The U.S. Census was revealing a tragically high Native American suicide rate, again, and I wanted to write something for our kids that would give some way of summing up things that had been done to us that were not our fault, were not their fault. It was my primal scream to tell our kids to put the blame where it belonged and not take it out on themselves, and I dedicated it to Sheridan, who spawned, "The only good Indian's a dead one," and to some of his buddies and progeny who symbolized that message. The poem was printed all over Indian country and hundreds of people were reading it at their Columbus-didn't-discover-me events, fulfilling my goal of writing a peoples' poem. Here's another more recent one for this or any occasion.

Aho.

Suzan

________________________________________________________________________________________________

jumping through the hoops of history

(for columbus, custer, sheridan, wayne and all such heroes of yesteryear)

10 little, 9 little, 8 little Indians

7 little, sick little, live baby Indians

poor little, me little, you little Indians

the only good Indian's a dead 1

a lot of young Indians got dead in the '80s

just like the '70s and the '60s

both 19 and 18 hundreds

and all the other 00s since 1492

a sucker's #s game over the sale of the centuries

with 99-year leases and 1-cent treaties

with disappearing ink on the bottom line

signed by gilt-eyed oddsmakers

whose smart $ bet on 0 redskins by half-time

in the 4th quarter, when this century turned on us

we were down to 250k in the u.s.

from the 50m who were here

but who just didn't hear about

the lost italian lurching his way from spain

with scurvy-covered sailors and yellow-fevered priests

at least 1,000 points of blight and plague

in 3 wooden boxes marked india or bust

and in gold we trust

columbus washed up on our shores, praising paradise on earth

and kinder, gentler people

who fixed them dinner, but laughed so hard

at these metal-headed, tiny whitemen

that they fell to their knees

we please them, dear diary, columbus wrote home

they think we're gods

so the knights of the lost boats

spread syphilis and The word of the 1 true gods

and planted 00s of flags of the 1 true kings

and sang their sacred 3-g song

a, b, c, d, g, g, g

glory, god and gold, gold, gold

rub-a-dub-dub, a nina tub

rub-a-dub-dub, a pinta tub

rub-a-grub-grub, Native gold and lands

rub-a-chop-chop, Native ears and hands

rub-a-rub-rub Indians out

8m by 1500, or thereabout

meanwhile, back in the land of wicked queens and fairy tales

serfs were sowing and owing the churches

and paying dues to the papal store

all for the promise of the kingdom of heaven

starving and dying to make it to that pearly door

the inquisition kings reaped peasant blood$, but wanted more

than those in robes could rob from the poor

so the captains of invention

designed the missions to go forth and mine

with tools of destruction to kill the time

so cristobal colon led the chorus in the same old song

kyrie, kyrie, kyrie eleison

a new world beat for average savages

who didn't change their tune

and were bound by chains of office

and staked out to pave the yellow brick road

at invasion's high noon

and wizards in satin read their rights in latin

kyrie, kyrie, kyrie requiremento

and a lot of Indians got dead

as was, by god, their right

to the sound of death songs in the night

kyrie, kyrie, kyrie requiremento

and amerigo begat the beautiful

and the bibles grew and the bullets flew

and the pilgrims gave thanks

and carved up turkeys and other peoples' lands

and mrs. Gov. stuyvesant bowled with 10 bloody skulls

and begat up against the wall streets

and shopping mauls on 00s of mounds

and the 7th cavalry prayed and passed the ammunition

and loaded gattling guns 100k times

and shot off extra special 45/70s

for any Indians or buffalo

between europe and manifest destiny

meanwhile, in Indian country

no one heard about the ironhorse or goldwhores

or the maggots in the black hills

with no-trespassing signs

or what's yours is homestake mine's

but that's what they called ballin' the jack

then it was 2 late, about a quarter to midnight

and us without a second hand to tell the times were a changin'

so, we jumped through the hoops of history

on mile-high tightropes without a net

with no time to look back or back out

with no time to show off or cry out

look, ma, no hands

no hands

no hands

and the calendar was kept by #s of sand creeks

and washitas and wounded knees and acoma mesas

and 00s of army blankets of wool and smallpox

and a lot of chiefs who made their marks

no longer able to thumb their way home

where x marked the spots on their babies

and pocahantas haunted england

singing ring-a-ring-a-rosy

ashes, ashes, all fall dead

and a lot of fences got built

around a lot of hungry people

who posed for a lot of catlins

who shot their fronts

and snapped their backs

just say commodity cheese, please

and a lot of Indians got moved and removed

relocated and dislocated

from c to shining c

from a 2 z

from spacious skies to fort renos

from purple mountains to oklahoma

from vision quests to long walks

from stronghold tables to forks in the road

from rocks to hard places

from high water to hell

from frying pans to melting pots

from clear, blue streams to coke

and we got beads

and they got our scalps

and we got horses

and they got our land

and we got treaties

and they got to break them

and we got reservations

and they got to cancel them

and we got christian burials

and they got to dig us up

and they got america

and america got us

and they got a home where Indians don't roam

(now, follow the bouncing cannon ball)

and they got a home where Indians don't roam

and a lot of young Indians got dead

and those were the glory daze

and we learned the arts of civilization

reciting the great white poets

(oh, little sioux or japanee

oh, don't you wish that you were me)

singing the great white songs

(onward, christian soldiers

marching as to war

to save a wretch like me

amazin' race, amazin' race)

sailing down the mainstream

(with land o' lakes butter maiden

and kickapoo joy juice role models

for good little Indian girls and boys)

and we got chopped meat

and we got buffaloed

and we got oil-well murders

and they got black-gold heirs

and they got museums

and we got in them

and they got us under glass

and we got to guide them

and they got the kansas city chiefs

and we got a 14,000-man b.i.a.

and we got pick-up trucks

and they got our names for campers

and they got rubber tomahawks

and we got to make them

and they got to take us to lunch

and we got to eat it

and they got richer

and we got poorer

and we got stuck in their cities

and they got to live in our countries

and they got our medicines

and we got to heal them

and we got sick

and they got, well, everything

and we got to say please and thank you

and good morning, america

you're welcome, y'all come

and have a nice hemisphere

then, all of a sudden, a new day dawned

and america yawned

and the people mumbled

something about equality and the quality of life

some new big deal to seal the bargain

and jack and jill went to the hill

to fetch some bills to save us

and the united snakes of america

spoke in that english-only forked-tongue way

about cash-on-the-barrelhead, hand-over-fist

in exchange for Indian homes on the termination list

and bankers and lawyers and other great white sharks

made buyers-market killings when more chiefs made their marks

and lots of Indians packed their bags and old-pawn

for fun with dick and jane and busing with blondes

for a bleeched-out, white-washed american morn

while we were just trying to live and get born

and a lot of young Indians got dead

in america's 2 big wars

and the little ones they tried to hide

like the my-lais

and other white lies

and the millions on the grate-nation's main streets

with holes in their pockets

and tombstones for eyes

you see, america was busy lunching

and punching clocks

(and each other, don't tell)

and pushing paper

(and each other, do tell)

and loving and leaving cabbage-patch/latch-key kids

in the middle of the road and nowhere

(where everything got touched but their hearts

where $ bought the love they were worth)

and america's daddy and mommy looked

up from their desks

out from their ovens

over their shoulders

behind the times

down their noses

and right before their eyes

but just out of sight

behind flashlights in abandoned buildings

through crack in the walls

and in the halls of boarding schools

a lot of young Indians got dead, too

girls with bullets, booze and lysol for boyfriends

boys with nooses and razor blades for cold comfort

and a few grandmas and grandpas

on their last legs anyway

and we who were left behind

sang songs for the dead and dying

for the babies to stop crying

for the burned-out and turned-out

for the checked-out and decked-out

ain't that just like 'em

we said over cold coffee and hot tears

for getting themselves dead

forgetting to tell us goodbye

for giving america no 2-week notice

forgiving america with their bodies

ain't that just their way

to gather us up and put us down

gee, kids really do the darnest things

like get themselves dead

like a lot of them did

just yesterday and today

and a lot of young Indians got dead

faster than they could say

tomorrow

oh, say, can't you see

they learned america's song and dance

from the rocket's red glare

to god shed his light on thee

they read america's history

where they weren't

or were only bad news

they laughed when president rip van reagan

told the russians the u.s.

shouldn't have humored us

they passed when senator slender reed said

find another country or play this hand

they learned the lessons about columbus

in child-proof, ocean-blue rhymes

along with other whiteboy-hero signs of the times

they saw the ships sailing, again

and a future as extras

in movies where Indians don't win

they knew they were about to be discovered, again

in someone else's lost-and-found mind

in an old-world, new-age, snake-oil re-run

as much fun

as the first scent of those sailors

fresh from the hold

exhaling disease, inhaling gold

and a lot of young Indians escaped just in time

to miss the good wishes and cheer

have a happy, have a merry

have a very nice columbus year

10 little, 9 little, 8 little Indians

7 little, sick little, live baby Indians

poor little, me little, you little Indians

the only good Indian's a dead 1

-suzan shown harjo

(on the eve of 1992)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Macacalypto

It began with la danza macabra

It began with clouds floating on water

It began with men in boots on the beach

It began with men with metal heads

It began with men with hairy faces

It began with men in robes and ropes

It began with men with crosses and bibles

It began with bows and outstretched arms

It began with open hands and smiles

It began with gestures from the heart

It began with names, repeated slowly

It began with hands to mouths and bellies

It began with hungry men at dinner

It began with laughter and songs of joy

It began with a dance from across the sea

It began with rats from el nino ships

It began with fleas from mice and men

It began with labored breathing

It began with chills and fever

It began with hollow eyes

It began with cold blue lips

It began well, but

It ended, well, badly

It ended as a danse macabre

It ended with fixed eyes

It ended before anyone knew what happened

It ended with white men welcoming us to our own countries

It ended with white men making no-trespassing signs to keep us out

It ended with white men making movies about how we brought it on ourselves

It ended with the drunken marriage of mel gibson and george allen

It ended with la danza macabra

Macacalypto

-suzan shown harjo


http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/10/poems-by-suzan-shown-harjo-jumping-through-the-hoops-of-history-and-mcacalypto/

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Steven Bhardwaj
(646) 430-1585
stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finally, they came out with 4D space.

Since I say "R - N," that is " ," about ten times a day on average...

http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/demox/Hyper.html

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Who Might Have Been a Muslim Prophet?

Excerpt from a post on the "Indian Muslims" blog.
Could it be that Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster and Confucius were Prophets of God? This is not a new question and has been asked many times before. As I argue further that while we cannot proclaim strictly based on the Quran and Hadees (as they have not been mentioned by name) yet based on these very sources we tend to move towards possibly accepting them as such. 
The important concept here is that mainstream traditional Muslims have a core Quranic responsibility to respect world religions, perhaps especially those religions with well-behaved charismatic leaders coming from before ~630 CE (A.D.).  See the link above for scriptural citations.

However, while some Muslim bloggers make inclusive-leaning posts like the above, such inter-faith openness leaves one vulnerable to attack.  On this sunniforum.com page, the somewhat-verbose commentator "Shuayb Ahmed" finds his personal faith under attack, based on his word usage "sounding weird"!  But, on the third page of the same thread, "nurmuhammad12" comes to Shuayb's eloquent defense with comprehensive citations and a more traditional-seeming style of discourse.

Some writers advocate strict agnoticism in dealing with potential Muslim prophets found in other historical traditions.  However, on the same website, another writer links to the website of pre-eminent scholar Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah.

Saving the best for last, I found Dr. Abd-Allah's paper One God, Many Names, absolutely amazing in its virtuosity.  He cherishes and properly underlines the particular canonical institutions founded by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but still fully lives up to the difficult Quranic injunction to "treat all prophets equally."  Dr. Abd-Allah does this by carefully finding the extensive common ground between Islam and scriptures from various ancient inspired sages and teachers.

Breakdancers presenting the true political message

Breakdancers presenting the true political message 

http://youtu.be/g-4rWldU-sA

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The War Prayer - Mark Twain ~1905


It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Source: http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/making/warprayer.html

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Incarceration stats

Was talking to a friend about racially-basketed usa incarceration stats the other day.  In general, US incarceration rates are much higher than the rest of the world at ~1% of our population in prison and jail at any given time. 
Except for Rwanda where I visited this spring, incidentally - the USA and Rwanda are top-two in incarceration per capita.  Champagne all around.
Here's some relevant information about the USA (link to source, Professor Pamela Oliver's website at U Wisc):
  • About a third of African American men are under the supervision of the criminal justice system
  • About 12% of African American men in their 20s and 30s are incarcerated.
Here's a summary from wikipedia:
And here's a uncomfortable chart taken from a paper by Dr. Oliver with stats covering 1920s to 1986 (link).  So stop before the straight-line extrapolation at the end.  Something bad happened in the late 70s early 80s.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Churches Apologized to Canada First Nations

And that's not "apologizing" in the sense of rationalizing arguments for pet theological positions.

Hmm I wonder how many churches have apologized.

--------------------
25-Years Later: The United Church of Canada's Apology to Aboriginal Peoples

Much has been made of the historic 2008 apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to aboriginal peoples about the residential schools system. But long before that there were Alberta Billy and Canada's United Church.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the apology to aboriginal peoples from the United Church of Canada, the first denomination to do so. In 1981, Billy, a member of the Laichwiltach We Wai kai Nation in British Columbia, stood before the leaders of one of Canada's largest churches and asked for something that few had even discussed before.

"The United Church owes the Native peoples of Canada an apology for what you did to them in residential school," she told the stunned members of the United Church Executive General Council.

Billy, a lifelong member of the United Church, attended the Executive General Council to represent aboriginal church members interested in participating in the church's political body. However, it was Billy's own idea to ask for an apology.

Thelma Davis, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, was there too. She remembers the tension in the room.

"Their mouths dropped," Davis recalled recently. "But it needed to be said. It got things rolling. People are still hurting from it [residential schools]."

At the time, Billy says, prejudice was alive and well in the United Church.

"The church had no idea they were going to be asked for an apology. They hadn't a clue," Billy told Indian Country Today Media Network in an interview. "All I remember is when we got there, the non-Natives looked at us like, Who let you in the door?"

Operated for more than 100 years, residential schools didn't officially close down for good until 1996. Thousands upon thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in church- and government-run schools, where, sadly, many were sexually and physically abused.

The United Church ran 15 of these schools across the country.

Although Billy herself was not a student, both her parents attended residential schools. Her mother mentioned it occasionally, but her father adopted a code of silence that Billy says was common in aboriginal communities.

"Thirty years ago you couldn't even talk about residential school, you couldn't even say the word. Our own people would say, No, don't talk about it!'" Billy said. "I realized we hadn't dealt with it somehow. That was the reason I asked for the apology, so there would be reconciliation."

The United Church of Canada officially apologized On August 15, 1986, for its role in the schools.

"We accepted [the apology] in principle," said Billy. "We were not happy with it because it didn't say, We the United Church of Canada.' "

Instead, the apology addressed issues relating to the church's role in imposing European culture onto the aboriginal people.

But while Billy thought the first apology was too vague, the United Church offered a second apology in 1998, this time clearly addressing the legacy of residential schools.

James Scott is the United Church's General Council Officer for Residential Schools. His role is to keep the church faithful to the apologies made to aboriginal people.

"We had an initial reaction of fear of what this might mean for the church, in terms of lawsuits and bankruptcy," said Scott. But he added that the apology has sparked sweeping change within the United Church.

The church has advocated for aboriginal causes in Canada, including harvesting rights, land claims and the plight of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

The Aboriginal Ministries Circle—a unit created to advocate for aboriginal inclusion—recently received equal governance within the structure of the United Church, another move that Billy was instrumental in.

And in 1992, Reverend Stan McKay (Cree), who stood with Billy 25 years ago to ask for the apology, was named moderator of the United Church of Canada, the first time an aboriginal person has ever held this most senior position.

Today, aboriginal members are working to get the United Church to consider changing its founding statement and crest to include aboriginal peoples.

Other churches have followed the United Church's example and since apologized. In 2007, survivors of the schools began to receive financial compensation from the Canadian government, a process the United Church says it remains committed to.

"This is a long process," says McKay. "Institutions don't change easily. To ask to change the basis of union is very difficult. There have been very few changes over the past 85 years."

Billy—now 70—travels across Canada facilitating workshops on aboriginal and European contact, with a particular focus on residential schools. She said she lives in both worlds, having learned to embrace both United Church and aboriginal customs.

Quoting the words of her granny,' Billy holds onto her identity: "Don't forgot your dances, don't forget language, don't forget your songs, and don't forget what your Indian name is. And, don't forget who you are."

Noting that aboriginal art and symbolism can now be found in many United Churches—including her own—Billy said it's a small sign that both sides are trying to make reconciliation a reality.

"We are still coming to some kind of healing. Our people continue to heal, and that's a good thing," she said. "They are doing the best they can to heal with us."

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/08/25-years-later-the-united-church-of-canadas-apology-to-aboriginal-peoples/

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Steven Bhardwaj
(646) 430-1585
stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What the heck!!! What's the blue helmet worth then???

World Briefing | Africa: Sudan: 3 Wounded Peacekeepers Die as Government Refuses to Let Them Fly Out for Treatment

Three Ethiopian peacekeepers who were wounded in a land mine explosion this week died while Sudan refused requests to let them be flown out of the region for medical care.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9c54e4ef8140bd238a17733bb9cd3337

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Steven Bhardwaj
(646) 430-1585
stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jurdistiction on the Reservation

What's sovereignty good for if not prosecuting the perpetrator of crimes committed on your own soil?

Quote from "Indian Country" blog post:

...
The statistics are appalling: More than one-third of Indian women will be either raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Moreover, non-Natives (primarily white men) commit 4 out of 5 of those rapes or sexual assaults. To put this statistic into perspective, that means that if your mother, your sister and your niece are sitting on a couch across the room from you, statistically one of those three Indian women will be either raped or sexually assaulted, most likely by a non-native man (including non-tribal member male).

Equally dreadful, nearly three out of five Indian women have been assaulted by either their spouse or intimate partner, and many of these asssaults are committed by non-Indian partners. Truly dastardly acts of the lowest form right? It's worse: Surveys analyzing murder rates in counties largely composed of tribal lands found that Native women are murdered at a rate more than ten times the national average.

...

tribes do not have the capacity, legally, to protect their women from violent non-Native sexual predators on our own lands. Talk about worthless sovereignty. Many might argue that the ability to protect your people is the most fundamental aspect of a nation's sovereignty. If Native people cannot protect the lifegivers in our own territory, what good is so-called "sovereignty" or "self-determination?"
...

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/ict_sbc/circle-of-violence-an-open-letter-to-people-regarding-the-rape-and-sexual-assault-of-indian-women/

Steven Bhardwaj
(646) 430-1585
stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com

American Indians, a Movie, No Restaurants, and Some Resulting Perspectives

Growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis and Boston, I read Larry Gonick's "Cartoon Histories" of the World and of the United States, so I understood the gist of the American Indian Genocide. But, this knowledge remained simple, shallow, and abstract - a child's book-knowledge. I had not experienced or seen enough pain or personal tragedy to begin to empathize in what I would now consider a meaningful way.

Now, watching the movie "The Canary Effect" after having spent four months in Rwanda, I feel suddenly a little more able to see the American Indian Genocide from the perspective of a decimated minority.  Before, it seemed a little dubious to say that the high suicide rates, alcholism rates, unemployment, and general despondency on reservations could be caused by lack of official recognition and respect for the ugly history.  But, now I begin to understand that feeling like the favorite target of the US government's extortion, theft, and mass murder with impunity, would certainly be a tough pill for me to swallow.  It could certainly be an ongoing source of angst, anguish, and worse.

I highly recommend watching this movie - before it gets put back behind a paywall!  I hope it will stay free online and get growing coverage just like "Home" and "Earthlings."  It just went online in April 2011!


While watching this movie and pausing to google up references, I forgot to eat dinner.  So I also started thinking a lot about food - American Indian food, of course.

In 2010, AyJy did a month of her clinical rotations at a Eastern Cherokee hospital in South Carolina, and I was able to visit for a brief but memorable weekend.  I was excited to be visiting a Indian community for the first time since I was ten years old, when my family went to see a public pow-wow.  I remember searching the internet for any American Indian restaurants in South Carolina.  I was incredulous to have a difficult time finding any such restaurants, anywhere, and it turned out that the only authentic dish we tried was frybread with cranberry sauce.  But of course, this only rubs salt in the wound as the now-beloved traditional frybread originated from the doled-out flour and grease tins on the concentration-camp "reservations". (source)

I am encouraged by this 2005 NYTimes article on a potential renaissance of traditional Native cuisines.  To all the restaurateur VCs and entrepreneurs out there, check out this chowhound thread to demonstrate the market demand: many have encountered similar experiences to my own.

But I am beginning to feel like the US government really needs to apologize to American Indians, and rewrite the "Manifest Destiny" chapters in our elementary school history books.  Along with that, we need to get some backbone and start paying our financial debts to American Indians as well.  I wonder of some of this could be lumped in under "stimulus."  You can't "lose" another nation's money, although it is another debt that could be defaulted on.  maybe there's some economics thesis material in here somewhere...

Unfortunately we've already decided to bail out other less-deserving folk.  Plus, it seems that the last time we paid off all our debts was when Andrew Jackson annexed American Indian lands and sold them off, causing the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

Whoa!

When I was a ten-year-old, reading history in a cartoon book, I knew I should not be held responsible for the sins in my American inheritance. Of course, as an adult I now have a different role. Perhaps I realize that if I need not recognize this responsibility, then no one else would need to do so either.

Although my attempts today at understanding and empathy may have progressed since then, I don't claim to be able to empathize strongly. Perhaps I have the comfort of maintaining emotional distance and rationing my empathy, over time - in proportion as I amass the resources and ability to usefully channel the resulting grief and shame into action. Maybe limiting my empathy helps me maintain my gamely optimistic 'healthy' self-perceptions of grace and humanism.

Of course, when a vulnerable person is confronted with institutional violence, they have no such 'reality spigot' to help maintain emotional balance.

Maybe that's another good reason to have picked Economics as a home discipline.  Economics is absolutely not the "dismal science."  This name didn't originally come from Malthus' preventative population check, but from a proponent of Carribean slavery who was complaining about the free-marketers' logic of emancipation.  So it might just as well be the "Emancipatory Science."

And, economics doesn't tell us how Cristóbal Colón decided that the moral cost of systematically subjugating and lynching the Taíno on his second voyage was outweighed by dubious gains from gold-seeking, punitive retribution, or pre-emptive deterrence.  Economics doesn't tell us why Andrew Jackson and Southern voters decided that contradicting an explicit Supreme Court order and enforcing a thousand-mile Cherokee death march was an acceptable price to pay for a land grab.

Anthropology is so much more depressing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

a recommendation for monday

Great links from one of the blogs I follow: Texas In Africa.

http://texasinafrica.blogspot.com/2011/08/recommendation-for-monday.html

Do you follow the African Arguments blog? If not, you should subscribe. A joint project of the Royal African Society and the Social Science Resource Council, African Arguments has quickly become one of my go-to references for high-quality, in-depth analysis of African politics and economics. What I particularly like about the blog is that it features local voices - especially local journalists and academics - whenever possible. It also features analysis by foreign academics with years of experience in the countries about which they write. 

I also like African Arguments because it runs features you won't see anywhere else on topics that are typically missed by the Western press. Here are a few recent favorites that emphasize that point. All are well worth your time:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cereal bar and poptart prices

Incredible. The more healthy it's supposed to be, the more expensive it is. The price of a little more fiber or protein in your breakfast bar is huge.

Pop tarts: on sale for $2.25/lb
Nutrigrain: $6.60/lb
Kellogs Protein mealbar: $12.95/lb

Steven Bhardwaj
(646) 430-1585
stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com

Worse than Vegetarian

What's more insufferable than a self-righteous vegetarian?  A non-vegetarian that will only eat meat from animals raised and slaughtered in a particular, arcane, and expensive way.  Some people want no antibiotics in their meat, others want grass-fed meat, others want "organic" meat.  Some need fatty goose-liver imported from special farms in France, and others need fatty beef steaks imported from special farms in Japan. These people can turn any enjoyable potluck into a tense hunger-strike standoff.

Some people need the animal's trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, and jugular veins to have been severed in one smooth movement with a "chalef."  But, such demands are less awkward because it's been a religious requirement for thousands of years.  Also, the group has become well-established in the USA since they really started immigrating in the late 1800s, so it's okay.

However, consider a guest at your home-cooked dinner that may be willing to eat meat... but only if  convinced that the animal was not "mistreated by humans," and had a relatively "good life"!  This spoilsport doesn't just neglect the host's painstakingly prepared veal roast, but also hops on a soapbox and dissapears the deliciously marinated morsels on the table, replacing them with the cadaver of a torture victim.

What a crass jerk.  Don't be that guy.

Wait.  I am that guy.

Ah, well.  Check out Certified Humane's website.  News Update: I'm eating meat now of the following categories
  • Store-bought with Certified Humane sticker
  • Wild-hunted venison, rural squirrel etc. Health standards apply.
  • Chicken raised wandering around backyards and smallholder farms.
Bon Appetit!

Phelan Barreiro "Cynik Lethal" Builds Serious Music

Heavy hiphop dubstep.  He goes by "Cynik Lethal" but I know him as Phelan Barreiro from Pittsburgh where we played drums on trashcans like in Market Square after work sweeping the streets, in 2001, among other things.



Looking forward to more where this came from!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jesus Christ and Ethnicity

Dear Friends,

While I was in Rwanda and DR Congo, I enjoyed very much my time with many passionately faithful Quaker Christian families.  Later during my visit I became concerned by the obviously Western-European ethnicity of all the Christian imagery: Jesus, the disciples, Mary, etc.

So since my return last month, I have looked over the internet for a few hours to see what's out there.  The upshot for me is that the ethnicity of Christian icons is a serious issue, and that moving forward I will personally prefer to employ multi-ethnic images to represent Christianity whenever possible.

In addition to wikipedia articles, here are my favorite links from my internet review:

 - Short Story, "The Boy Who Painted Christ Black"  by John Henrik Clarke, 1940
 - Painting of "Jesus Blesses the Children" by Joe Cauchi (Late 1900s artist from USA)
          http://www.posterunlimited.com/gge7703122.html
 - Painting of "Madonna and Child" by Joe Cauchi
          http://www.posterunlimited.com/gge7703216.html
 - Popular Mechanics article  - A British medical artist applies forensic anthropology using a 1st century skull from near Jerusalem, etc. to reconstruct a historical "Christ-like" face.

Thanks for your interest, please respond with your thoughts, and let me know if you have any difficulty accessing the documents.  

Peace,
-Steven Bhardwaj

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Go Go Gadget Evernote! (The First-Year Reverse Thesis Effect)


Stereotypically, work on PhD theses is always late and hastily finished before deadlines.  However, during this summer, before the first year of my PhD, my thesis is certainly not urgent yet.  Even hoping to work on my thesis at this point is almost presumptuous.

But let me presume, because at this time my conceptual brainstorming can be free and unhindered.  I can let intuition direct me, rather than scrupulously avoiding depth-first research and quickly settling on a "clearly tractable" scope-of-work.

I feel like I should be savoring this time.  Hence this morning's precocious interest in the Evernote note-taking software so I can efficiently record my early research on thesis ideas.

I may be procrastinating away from my Varian microecon reading schedule, but so be it.

A few years ago, I had tried Google Notebook, but never really got hooked.  Plus, Google discontinued support for Notebook in Jan 2009, which is a bad signal about the depth of the software's usefulness.  They suggested Google Bookmarks as an substitute for Notebook's functionality, so I began browsing for online guides on (searchterm:) "how to organize google bookmarks for thesis research."  This search brought me to a video on Evernote by MacroGeek1 which looked pretty appealing.  It looks like this has been a successful software for some time - I don't have to worry about being an early-adopter.

Then I searched for note-taking-software reviews, and found that Evernote didn't have any obviously-superior competitors, and the most obvious competitor was MS OneNote.  So, I looked deeper into Evernote's pricing model.  60 MB/month uploads free, and 1 GB/month of uploads for $5.  Then I confirmed through this support posting that the $5 a month fee is just to upload the excess data, and the indefinite storage of the data is free.

Finally, after seeing this going-the-extra-mile support thread as well as others in the forum, I was convinced of Evernote's solid reputation, quality, and peer-support community.

Let's get this party started.  Hopefully an early push on thesis will tide me through the more difficult later years.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Afternoon with Ian Hansen studying in NYPL. Thanks much!! Fancy library room closed at 5:45pm.

Friday, June 3, 2011

FWD:

Going to AyJy's graduation dinner at 'russo's' near the 'aqueduct' stop on the A train. Great evening, I got to meet almost all of AyJy's doctor-colleagues in surgery and related disciplines.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Riding a bike to Logan Airport

Today after dropping my father off at the airport via taxi, I jogged from Logan airport to a bus station nearby the Tobin Bridge, took the 111 bus to Haymarket, and jogged again back to the South End.

Next time I'll take the blue line or silver line, much easier.  Maybe I'll even get there by bicycle.

Riding Your Bike to Boston Logan 

"Good for the environment and part of a healthy lifestyle, biking is a great way to get to the airport -especially if you live nearby. For your convenience, a bike rack is available outside Terminal A, behind the taxi stand on the lower level as well as at the Airport T Station.
Riding your bicycle in the tunnels that lead to and from the airport and on the airport roadway is forbidden for safety reasons; however, you may take your bike on the MBTA and the water transportation services to and from Boston Logan, as well as on the Logan Express bus service and Massport's on-airport shuttle buses.
For more information on how to incorporate bicycling into your commute, visit Mass Bike. If you are traveling with your bicycle, contact your airline for more information about checking your bike as policies vary and fees may apply."



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AyJy Playing with laparoscopic trainer

So I steven took over (my wife) AyJy's old LG ENV Touch phone for m-blogging during my older brother Jason's wedding this weekend. I ordered a new battery online as the old battery had tanked.
But this looks to be a lot of fun. I don't have to pay for a full "data plan", just for text messages. But I can send a photo + blog message with up to 1000 characters for the price of 1 text message. And I bought a 250 text plan for $5 so itls no problem. And this phone has a nice very large thumb-keyboard. So the next step is to find the patch for a thumb-dvorak keyboard!
See attached a beautiful pic of ayjy with her laparoscopic trainer set!

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dad singing "Morning Has Broken" and "In The Jungle," to Jason. Four days until the wedding!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three Months Update - AGLI Volunteer in Gisenyi / Goma

Dear All,

I haven't sent out a large email for a few weeks, although I have posted some items to the blogs.  

Also check out:
  • My personal and general blog:  bhardwajblog.blogspot.com  Posts here include translated testimonials from newly trained HROC facilitators living in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, as well as images of a proposed site for a training center/office building for Zawadi' and Levi's CPGRBC organization of women survivors.
  • The fellowship / consultation blog: quakersacrossborders.blogspot.com   Posts here include the translated-into-Kinyarwanda video of kids at 15th St. Meeting greeting kids at Gisenyi Friends meeting.  I have a backlog of 25 response letters to scan and get translated.  There is also some adult correspondence posted on the blog too!
  • The JeunesPaixGrandsLacs blog:  jeunespaixgrandslacs.blogspot.com  We've been getting together youth groups (four youth groups so far, from Gisenyi and Goma) to talk about peace, different kinds of peace, what it means to them, and how they themselves can help build peace.  This group is being built to last, so that the individuals can publish with mail2blogger themselves, and so they can operate on their own funds until they impress someone enough to get funding for bigger works.  I think this will work out, and Peace Corps volunteer Porsche Washington has also shown interest in helping out!
  • Dave Bucura's blog davebucura.blogspot.com and Levi's (first) blog: paixmasisi.blogspot.com  Dave Bucura is pastor of a church in Kigali Rwanda, as well as other responsibilities with FWCC, AGLI, Mediation, etc.  Levi is pastor of a Quaker church in Goma, and also works with Zawadi's CPGRBC.  They're just getting started, but this will not be difficult for them once it kicks in that people want to read their posts.  Both of them are practical and effective professionals that use email often.  And, the mail2blogger system means that posting to the blog is the exact same process as sending an email.
In other big news, two weeks ago, I heard that I was accepted to the economics PhD program at Boston University!  The 5-year program is ranked #11 in for development economics among the PhD programs in US News' rankings.  I will start officially in August 2011, but I will be cramming all summer to get ready.

I am currently sitting on the computer all day to do design work.  Here is a link to the simplified earthquake-resistant masonry house design manual that we're working on translating into Kinyarwanda and French.  I also worked up a truss design spreadsheet, and design drawings and quantities tabulations are forthcoming.

Johnny Johnson, I haven't forgotten about you!  I'm going to personally go poke my nose around the Lake Kivu shore looking for information about your friends Yvette and Kazuko's orphanage next time I cross the border! 

Hope everything is going well with you, thanks for your interest!

Peace,
-Steven Bhardwaj
Rwanda phone: 0784114209
USA phone (transfers to Rwanda): (+1) 917-725-5122 
USA fax: (+1) 347-416-6273

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Re: Invisible Children

>>>> I wonder if AGLI has an opinion about the group Invisible Children, which works in Uganda.  One of my students is involved and I feel encouraged to look into it.
>>>> Thank you,
>>>> Elizabeth Gordon
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Elizabeth,

Thanks for your question!  I wish the best of luck to your students as they start to imagine the world from these perspectives.  I think the child soldier problem is an especially nasty one, and perhaps an especially good place to start.  It's incredible as children begin to realize and understand that these events are occurring every day, and try to incorporate that into their worldview and behavior.  Accepting the reality of these terrible events and the commonality of our humanity spotlights the severe disconnects in our individual and collective attempts at graceful lives of love, fellowship, and integrity.  This issue presents a real opportunity for our youth to mature in their understanding of their relationship with society.

I do have the internet, and based on my internet review I personally think IC seems like a great program, especially because of its strong outreach and education-of-American-youth component.   We need to seriously grow our universal-human-rights civil society, to strengthen the political will to incentivize and push our US state department to spend more effort in analysis of human development in Africa, and incentivize US policy choices to support this human development.

I reviewed Invisible Children's (IC's) materials, although I have not watched the "Invisible Children" title film yet.  IC certainly has especially and exceptionally good online media and personal outreach, in terms of both content and presentation.  This includes video interviews with affected indivuiduals, well-selected news updates, conferences, full-length films, nationwide tours, all with a A+ level "cool" factor of graphic design etc.

IC is exceptional at telling the story to young people in the USA and engaging them in participating in making a graceful next-step.

In terms of IC's portfolio of aid programs, IC has a high-school scholarship program, micro-entrepreneur financing and training, infrastructure aid with wells and schools etc., as well as farming cooperatives.  Its a mix of elements seems representative and consistent with the "state of the art" of the rural development industry in the region.  :)

In terms of impact analysis of development work, IC is consistent with the state of the industry in that accurately comprehensive impact analysis of development efforts is nigh-impossible.  (I will return to grad school soon to study this precise topic!)

I haven't participated in IC's stateside work, so don't know anything about the culture of its activities in the USA.  But I would bet it's a great program.  Other similar good programs, active in different regions of the USA/Canada include:

www.zeroforce.org
www.genocideintervention.net
www.standnow.org

Thanks for the inquiry, and feel free to write back with any additional questions or thoughts.

Sincerely,
-Steven Bhardwaj
Rwanda phone: 0784114209
USA phone (transfers to Rwanda): (+1) 917-725-5122 
USA fax: (+1) 347-416-6273

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hans Rosling for the Nobel Peace Prize

I agree with the currently top-rated comment on this youtube video, with 34 thumbs-up.
"Hans Rosling for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Thumbs up if you agree."  (User Gnometower)



My goodness.

Monday, March 21, 2011

HROC Testimonials

Testimonials from the March 2001 "Healing Companion" HROC conference in Gisenyi.  We videotaped short testimonials from fifteen of the twenty-four participants, and translated the subtitles.  Ten are translated to date, five more to come.


To watch a video, first click on a video to start it, then click on the "cc" to turn on the subtitles.




Enjoy!


































Monday, March 14, 2011

Update Email March 12

Dear All,

Things are going well here in Gisenyi and Goma.  I have been traversing the border often now, and am getting to know the customs officials at the Petit Barriere very well.  The crowded and rocky roads in Goma are great fun on Etienne's mountain bike.  When I get back to NYC this summer it's going to be hard getting used to a road bike again.  I'll have to exercise restraint to keep from weaving through traffic or jumping every sidewalk curb in sight.

The HROC "Healing Companion" training conference over the last two weeks was wonderful and exhausting.  I am still preparing my photo and video materials from the training - the narrative report will also be useful in making website-level materials.

We certainly came in under budget for the conference for various reasons including that the conference scheduled went so the participants left on Friday morning instead of on Sunday morning as we had budgeted for.  Etienne decided not to buy the water storage tank yet, but it seems that things went okay without it.  We will send the financial report soon.

I visited the proposed site for the CPGRBC structure in Goma on Friday March 12.  See my post here for a rundown (not all photos uploaded yet.)   I also visited the annual meeting of Levi's micro-savings/credit cooperative on Sunday March 13 - it was very impressive and interesting, with about 300 people in attendance.

We also had our first meeting with representation of youth from the Gisenyi Friends Meeting, Goma Friends Meeting, and OJEPAC.  OJEPAC is a large collection of youth groups that operates like a free YMCA.  They get support from some different groups, and are full of energy and ideas for collaboration on peace-related projects with the Quaker youth groups.  See the first update at the JeunesPaixGrandsLacs website here.  (Pardon my French)

I am going to Kigali today to visit add passport pages, try for a visa to Burundi, and pick up the Quickbooks CD.  I may also give a Quickbooks or blogging training to Dave Bucura or other staff in Kigali if I have time.

Hope everything is going well back home!  Take care!!!

Sincerely,
-Steven Bhardwaj

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Proposed Site for Women's Training Center

On Friday morning March 11, I met with Levi and Jeff to visit the proposed site for what I understand is a women's training center. I enjoyed my time with them, meeting their families, and even sharing some beverage,  beans, and potatoes!

Levi suggested he was looking at a cement block-wall structure including four rooms: a ~10mx8m "atelier", a ~6mx6m "salle de couture," and two ~3mx3m offices.  We didn't go into great detail yet about all the proposed uses - I'll throw out some layouts and we will talk again shortly.

The property is about 25m x 22m, and is at about an 1:10 overall slope down from the road. However the rocky soil will make small retaining walls easy to build.

I will clean up my sketches and add them to the post within the week. But, here are the photos of the site. I took one photo of each corner with Levi standing on the corner, and then a few photos of the property from that corner, panning L to R.

Corner 1:



Corner 2:



Corner 3:




Corner 4:


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fwd: Keep up the heat on Qaddafi

I called in on this one.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Daniel Sullivan, Genocide Intervention Network <ginet@list.genocideintervention.net>
Date: Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 7:21 PM
Subject: Keep up the heat on Qaddafi
To: stevenbhardwaj@gmail.com




Call Secretary Clinton
Today at
202-647-6575
Urge her to push for a
No Fly Zone
in Libya Now
Dear Friend,
Last week we challenged the anti-genocide activist community to help us protect civilians in Libya by signing a petition to UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
I delivered our petition - signed by thousands of committed activists - urging Ambassador Rice to push for immediate action on Libya at the United Nations Security Council.
Less than two weeks since the crisis began, the UN Security Council unanimously took unprecedented steps to stop mass atrocities against civilians in Libya including:
  • Demanding an immediate end to violence against civilians and access for humanitarian aid and human rights monitors;
  • Freezing the assets and imposing a travel ban on the Qaddafi family and top Libyan officials perpetrating the violence;
  • Imposing an arms embargo on Libya; and
  • Referring the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The next step in our campaign to protect civilians in Libya from mass atrocities is to call Secretary of State Clinton and ask her to act now.
Although the Security Council acted quickly, there is still an urgent need to push for the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect civilians. The United States and other world leaders are currently discussing a no-fly zone for Libya. Calls today to Secretary Clinton with messages of support for a no-fly zone will have a great impact.
Please pick up the phone NOW and call Secretary of State Clinton and tell her to act swiftly. Here's what to do:
  1. Call Secretary Clinton's comment line at 202-647-6575.
  2. When you are connected, identify yourself and tell the staff person who answers the phone you want Secretary Clinton to push for a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya.
We have an urgent opportunity, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton needs to hear you now. We've made so much progress in the past several days, but calls are needed today to ensure civilians are protected from ongoing violence in Libya.
Thank you,
Daniel Sullivan
Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update: Congolo-American Club Video, HROC Conference, Visa Application

Dear friends,

Life is going well here in Gisenyi.  I go jogging for a few miles every other morning by the Lake Kivu beach.  This half-kilometer stretch of public beach looks like Ft. Lauderdale with extra grass and palm trees - except that trees are filled with bats and large  birds that look like hawks.  I eat most meals at home with Etienne's family, and call my wife AyJy and my family multiple times a day.  (Phone calls to outside of the country are only 5 cents/minute!)  I have worked through 46 lessons of a 130 lesson Kinyarwanda workbook from the 1950s.  I am approaching a level of competence, though I am still a ways away from being conversant.  I also enjoy reviewing work at local construction sites, and talking with owners and employees of local businesses in French, Kinyarwanda, and English.  I have only talked to one Chinese contractor so far, but I look forward to meeting more.

I will briefly summarize the work I have been doing here.  I am looking forward to a two-week HROC conference starting Feb 27 where I will get to experience the flagship program of AGLI's work in the region.  I am helping with procurement of supplies and drafting of budgets for that conference.  I am enjoying planning for the summer's work on the Peace Center, amending and adding to the existing drawings and updating the cost estimates.  So that I can hopefully help out with the women's shelter projects in Goma and Masisi, I DHL'd my passport back to the USA, and AyJy mailed my visa application to the DRC embassy yesterday (Tues 2/15).  I will make a day visit to a locak Engineers Without Borders partner village tomorrow (Thurs 2/17).  And finally, I have been spending much of my time with three fellowship/communication projects: 
  • Skype videoconferences between kids of Quakers in Gisenyi and kids at the 15th St. Friends Meeting in NYC
  • Translated letters and correspondence between the same two congregations (see quakersacrossborders.blogspot.com)
  • Setting up a Quaker youth group in Goma, Congo with the opportunity to communicate and dialogue about their ideas for improving the human rights and development situation in Congo, with Quakers and other interested community groups in the USA. (See youtube video links below, and the video comments. Videos are in French.)
I don't have postable materials for all of these activities but I will include a introduction video with myself and Aimé Mudateba Kamanzi, a member of the Congolese youth group.  I also have attached an overview and some details of the proposed budget for the HROC conference for your viewing pleasure, if you want to know what things cost in Rwanda. Note this is a multiple tab spreadsheet.  Wood is expensive, potatoes are cheap.  (This budget is not that far from the approved budget.)

1st Video: "Invitation à un Discussion avec des Jeunes Quakers Congolaises
2nd Video: "Le manque d'emploi comme obstacle au développement"

Thanks for your continued interest, and please contact me if you would like to work with the Congolese youth group, would like a Quaker pen pal in Gisenyi, or have any other questions.

Sincerely,
-Steven Bhardwaj
Rwanda phone: 0784114209
USA phone (transfers to Rwanda): (+1) 917-725-5122 
USA fax: (+1) 347-416-6273

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Open Invitation to Participate with Young Congolese Quakers

Do you know some people with interest in the DR Congo and some French language knowledge that might like to participate in a conference call / panel with a Congolese Quaker youth group to discuss humanitarian efforts in the DRC?  How about this coming Sunday morning at around 8am or 9am EST?   :)

Although I do not yet have a visa to visit the Congo, I am in contact with a Congolese youth group from the Quaker churches in Goma (North Kivu).  The youth group's president, Aimé Mudateba, comes across the border regularly to print things out etc.  (He is a law student in his final year at the Université des Grand Lacs à Goma.)

Aimé's youth group is very interested in getting involved with peace activities, and is especially interested in communicating with Quakers and people interested in humanitarian efforts in the USA and elsewhere internationally.  He wants to start a "Club Congolo-Americain."  He is also planning to try to get in contact with the Quaker churches in Kinshasa so that we can have discussions between people with even more points of view.

Phone calls are very stable and reasonably priced for calling out of the country, and within Congo.  So I hope that during my next few months here this might evolve into a long-term thing.

So please forward this on to anyone who might be interested, and let me know any ideas or suggestions!  I have included below brief bios of Aime's youth group, and a list of topics they would be interested in discussing.

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Noms et petit bio:
 - Patience Niyonsenga Kamanzi
Elle a 17 ans.  Elle est eleve inscrite dans le 4eme annee d'ecole secondaire.  Elle est chanteuse dans l'eglise Quaker.  Elle aime des chansons lentes de genre "slow," et elle veut initier une equipe de la danse genre de "drama traditionnel" dans l'eglise.  Elle aime aussi les etudes , et est orpheline de mere.Elle fait la section biologie-chimie au lycee Amani/Goma.
 - Aimé Mudateba Kamanzi
Il a 25 ans.  Etudiant dans l'Universite Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs a Goma dans le specialite des droits.  Il a ete avec l'eglise Quaker il y a 14 annees, et il a travaille comme facilitateur de AVP.  Il est le president du Club de Jeunes Chretiens Katindo.Il est orphelin de pere.
 - Deborah Irakomeye
Elle est etudiante, et elle a 27 ans.  Elle est en train de faire la medecine a l'Universite de Goma, dans la premiere annee du doctorat la.  Elle est la secretaire du Club de Jeunes Chretiens Katindo.
 - Tuombe
Il est eleve, dans la sixieme annee secondaire, avec 22 ans.  Il sert a l'eglise comme chanteur, et joue la guitar, et est aussi entraineur de son equipe musical dans l'eglise.Il fait les sciences sociales.
 - Faustin Niyibizi
Faustin a 37 ans, et il a termine son licence baccalaureate en sciences economiques et de gestion.  Il est contable dans l'eglise.
 - Mpabwa Nimana
Mpabwa est eleve, et il est dans le sixieme annee.  Il etude l'education, dans le specialite des humanites pedagogiques. Il est orphelin de mere.
 - Sarah
 Elle est eleve, elle etudie en 4e annee dans les sciences commerciales,elle est membre du club des jeunes chretiens/Katindo et aide Patience dans l'entrainement de l'equipe des danseurs de drama. Elle est aussi orpheline de mere.
- Gedeon
 Il est eleve dans les mathematiques physiques, Il est en 4e annee. Il est aussi membre du club des jeunes chretiens/Katindo.
- Amani
Il est etudiant dans les sciences agronomiques en 1ere annee de graduat(baccaluriat),il est membre du club des jeunes chretiens/Katindo.
- Mbale
Il travaille dans un centre de menuiserie, il est membre du club des chretiens/Katindo
- Anna
Elle est etudiante, Elle fait la faculte de sante et developpement communautaire a l'universite Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs/Goma. Elle est orpheline de pere.
 - Alexandre
 Il est eleve dans les mathematiques et physiques, il a 20 ans, il est entraineur dans un centre pour l'enseignement des langues.
- Emmanuel
 Il est enseignant a l'ecole secondaire, il a 30ans.
- Angelique
 Elle est eleve, mais avec les problemes de la guerre, elle a connu un retard, ce qui fait a ce que actuellement, soit en sixieme annee primaire. Elle a 18 ans.
- Philemon
Il est eleve, en 4e annee primaire aussi suite a la situation de la guerre dans 'est de la RDC, Il a 13ans.Il est orphelin de pere.
- Jeredi
Il est etudiant a l'universite adventiste de Goma dans le cycle terminal(finaliste de baccalauriat),Il a 25ans. Il est orphelin de pere.
- Grace
Elle a fait une formation en coupe coututre, car en sa situation d'orpheline, elle n'a pas eu la chance d'etudier
Elle a 28ans. Elle est orpheline de pere.

Sujets:
-Le manque d'emploi comme obstacle au developpement
-De la violation des droits de l'homme, signe de sous developpement en RDC
-De la place du jeune face au leadership evolue
-De la place du jeune face a la technologie moderne
-De l'analphabetisme comme signe de sous developpement


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-Steven Bhardwaj
Rwanda phone: 0784114209
USA phone (transfers to Rwanda): (+1) 917-725-5122 
USA fax: (+1) 347-416-6273