Friday ReadsPosted: March 8, 2013
Many of you might be stuck in your homes today with all that weather so here are some things to keep you busy. First, Richard Engle’s Diary of his kidnapping in Syria has been published in Vanity Fair.
A group of about 15 armed men were fanning out around us. Three or four of them stood in the middle of the road blocking our vehicles. The others went for the doors. They wore black jackets, black boots, and black ski masks. They were professionals and used hand signals to communicate. A balled fist meant stop. A pointed finger meant advance. Each man carried an AK-47. Several of the gunmen began hitting the windows of our car and minivan with the stocks of their weapons. When they got the doors open, they leveled their guns at our chests.
Time was slowing down as if I’d been hit in the head. Time was slowing down as if I were drowning.
This can’t be happening. I know what this is. This can’t be happening. These are the shabiha. They’re fucking kidnapping us.
“Get out!” a gunman was yelling as he dragged Aziz from the car.
Then I saw the container truck. It wasn’t far away, parked off the road and hidden among olive trees. The metal doors at its rear stood open, flanked by gunmen.
That’s where they are going to put us. That’s here for us. We’re going into that truck.
I got out of the car. Two of the gunmen were already marching Aziz to the truck. He had his hands up, his shoulders back, his head tilted forward to protect against blows from behind.
Maybe I should run. Maybe I should run right now. But the road is flat and open. The only cover is by the trees near the truck. Maybe I should run. But where?
I saw John standing by the minivan. Gunmen were taking Ian toward the truck. It was his turn. Like me, John hadn’t been touched yet.
Maybe they’ve forgotten us? Maybe they don’t want us?
Our eyes made contact. John shrugged and opened his hands in disbelief. Time was going very slowly now, but my mind was racing like a panicked heart in a body that can’t move.
“Get going!” a gunman yelled at me in Arabic, pointing his weapon at my chest.
I looked at him blankly, pretending not to understand. Foreigners who speak Arabic in the Middle East are often assumed to be working for the C.I.A. or Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. The gunman took me by the finger, holding on to it by the very tip. I could have pulled it away with the smallest tug.
But then what? Then go where?
John was the next to join us in the back of the truck. He walked slowly, as if being escorted to a waiting limo. John is a New Yorker and was dressed entirely in black. He has long white hair and a devilish smile, and his nickname is the Silver Fox. He and I had been in a lot of rough places—Libya, Iraq, Gaza. John, Ghazi, and Aziz were among my closest friends in the world.
At least I’ll die with my friends.
This will let you know how tough it is out here: “To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms”.
The plan is one of a dozen efforts across the country to address two acute — and seemingly contradictory — problems: heavily indebted law graduates with no clients and a vast number of Americans unable to afford a lawyer.
This paradox, fed by the growth of Internet-based legal research and services, is at the heart of a crisis looming over the legal profession after decades of relentless growth and accumulated wealth. It is evident in the sharp drop in law school applications and the increasing numbers of Americans showing up in court without a lawyer.
“It’s a perfect storm,” said Stacy Caplow, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who focuses on clinical education. “The longstanding concerns over access to justice for most Americans and a lack of skills among law graduates are now combined with the problems faced by all law schools. It’s creating conditions for change.”
Remember John Yoo. He was the lawyer/author of those Bush legal memos justifying torture. He thinks that Obama is “getting too much grief over targeted killing”.
And he wants Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—who filibustered Obama’s nominee to head the CIA for 13 hours on Wednesday—to lay off.
“I admire libertarians but I think Rand Paul’s filibuster in many ways is very much what libertarians do, they make these very symbolic gestures, standing for some extreme position,” said Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, who once suggested it was okay for the president to order a child’s testicles be crushed. Referring to Paul’s marathon filibuster, an attempt to force the Obama administration to clarify its views on the use of military force against terror suspects in the United States, Yoo said “It sort of reminds me of young kids when they first read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and they suddenly think that federal taxation equals slavery and they’re not going to pay any federal taxes anymore.” Yoo’s statements were made on a conference call Thursday held by the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal organization.
Paul’s conservative colleagues also pushed back on him on Thursday: On the Senate floor, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) mocked Paul’s objections as “ridiculous.”
Yoo said that he thought the administration’s problems stemmed from its belief that it needed to provide “due process” to terror suspects abroad—or even in the United States, referring to a recently leaked white paper outlining the Obama administration’s legal views on targeted killings of US citizen terror suspects.
So, here’s an interesting study. It seems that the “States With Most Gun Laws Have Fewest Gun Deaths”.
“It seems pretty clear: If you want to know which of the states have the lowest gun-mortality rates just look for those with the greatest number of gun laws,” said Dr. Eric W. Fleegler of Boston Children’s Hospital who, with colleagues, analyzed firearm-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2007 through 2010.
By scoring individual states simply by the sheer volume of gun laws they have on the books, the researchers noted that in states with the highest number of firearms measures, their rate of gun deaths is collectively 42 percent lower when compared to states that have passed the fewest number of gun rules. The study was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
As proof, Fleegler pointed to the firearm-fatality rates in law-laden states such as Massachusetts (where there were 3.4 gun deaths per 100,000 individuals), New Jersey (4.9 per 100,000) and Connecticut (5.1 per 100,000). In states with sparser firearms laws, researchers reported that gun-mortality rates were higher: Louisiana (18.0 per 100,000), Alaska (17.5 per 100,000) and Arizona (13.6 per 100,000).
Speaking of working to end violence, today is Intentional Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” Here’s some headlines for that celebration. First off, here’s French economist and head of the IMF Christine Leguarde. You can watch her speak at this IMF Link.
Here’s some suggested readings for you.
From the UK Guardian: “International Women’s Day: school is ‘the new front line of feminism’“
Surveys and anecdotal evidence may suggest that few young women identify with the word feminism, fearing it sits at odds with a desire to wear makeup or heels. Yet there are increasing signs of an interest in gender equality issues among these same young women, who are now turning to social media such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to fellow activists or just to share experiences and seek advice about what can be done.
Laura Bates, the founder of the #everydaysexism campaign, says that 10% of its more than 20,000 entries detailing harassment come from under-16s, with many more from colleges.
Campaign group UK Feminista has been so inundated with requests to speak to schools around the country that it has now launched a two-year programme of workshops and campaigns aimed at secondary pupils. Called Generation F: Young Feminists in Action, it comes as the government considers a cross-party bid to make sex and relationship education compulsory in schools.
Australian women make up just over half of the total Australian population.
In some areas, equality has been achieved, but in others there is clearly a long way to go.
The boards of both private and public organisations are still dominated by men.
For instance, only about 10 per cent of the executives of companies listed in the Australian Stock Exchange Market are female.
And according to federal government figures, average weekly earnings for women are $250 less than men.
United Nations Women director for Australia, Julie McKay, thinks a combination of socio-economic factors contribute to this situation.
“I think there’s a huge issue about unconscious bias, that we sometimes don’t even realise that we have, about the roles that women should play and the sort of characteristics that make different people leaders. But I think we also got other issues around accessibility and affordability of child care, which prevent many women being able to access work and particularly full time work.”
Many migrant and refugee women in Australia can be prevented from working in the field in which they’re experienced, due to lack of English skills or problems with qualification recognition.
But Chin Wong, from the Australian Migrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance, says that doesn’t mean they don’t get into the workforce.
She argues that female newcomers can be preferred by employers because they are more likely to ignore their rights, and tend to argue less than men about working conditions.
“Sometimes the women can find jobs easier than men and therefore a lot of times the man become the homemaker, and the woman has to go to work. But that doesn’t mean that when they come home they don’t still have to make sure that the houses are maintained, because that’s culture. Some of the cultures mean that the women have to do most of the work.”
Here’s two suggested reads on racism in America by Ed Kilgore with a link to Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ guest column in the New York Time.
If you are a white person who has on occasion felt aggrieved at the persistence of allegations of white racism in America, do yourself and your conscience a favor and read Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ guest column today in the New York Times.
His point of departure is the humiliating frisking of the very famous and distinguished actor Forest Whitaker by an employee of a deli in Coates’ own Manhattan neighborhood. But he uses this incident to make the very important point that if we disclaim the possibility of racist behavior on the part of “good” or “moral” people, we may well wind up excusing racism almost altogether.
The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.
But much worse, it haunts black people with a kind of invisible violence that is given tell only when the victim happens to be an Oscar winner. The promise of America is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of the “middle class,” will be treated as such. But this injunction is only half-enforced when it comes to black people, in large part because we were never meant to be part of the American story. Forest Whitaker fits that bill, and he was addressed as such.
I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark. It is worth considering the messaging here. It says to black kids: “Don’t leave home. They don’t want you around.” It is messaging propagated by moral people.
The thing is, this has always been more or less true. My extended family (thought not, mercifully, my nuclear family) when I was growing up in the Jim Crow South was loaded with racists. None of them were members of the Ku Klux Klan, perpetrators of violence, or “bad people” by any general measure. Most of them were very regular church-goers. One of the sweetest people I ever knew was a great aunt who after MLK’s assassination allowed as how she wished she could take in the assassin and feed him and protect him for his great act in defending Christian civilization. That wouldn’t have been surprising to Dr. King himself, whose classic Letter From a Birmingham Jail was addressed to the good Christian clergy of that city who by their silence and calls for an unjust “peace” were defending segregation more effectively than the hooded riffraff of the Klan.
So, there are my suggestions today. Please be careful if the weather around you is “lionly”. What’s on your reading and blogging list?