Never Forget: The Ampatuan Massacre, 23 November 2009

The victims: 32 journalists (most from central Mindanao), the wife of a gubernatorial candidate, innocent passersby who stumbled on the massacre as it was unfolding

The ditch prepared by the murderers for the dumping of the bodies was so large it accommodated an entire car. No, a van. A mini-bus.

Stay tuned.

2017 Highlights #1: To the Graduates of Bethune-Cookman

In a year of lowlights (“Rocket Man” and Fake News, the US pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement, THAT DARN WALL, Charlottesville and “many sides,” the Las Vegas shooting, the Texas shooting, the dissembling of Sarah Huckabee Sanders), self would like to thank the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, for giving her one of the most stirring memories of 2017.

Betsy DeVos, the “woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education,” was invited to speak at the Bethune-Cookman commencement. This is the Secretary of Education who had not (yet) at that point announced that she would put an end to the loan assistance provided to those college students who intended to become teachers. But she had already said her piece about guns in schools: It would be appropriate #because grizzlies. Worst of all (This quote is taken from the open letter to the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, published in Cassius) was “her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as pioneers in school choice.”

!!##@@ Put laughing-so-hard-its-painful emoji here.

The students stood and turned their backs. Literally.

The students defied the presence and rhetoric of DeVos.

Thank you.

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: Viktor Latun, Photographer

He died from cancer of the blood. We had a wake, and in the Slavic tradition we drank. And then the conversations began again, until midnight. First about him, the deceased. But after that? Once more about the fate of the country and the design of the universe. Will Russian troops leave Chechnya or not? Will there be a second Caucasian war, or has it already started? Could Zhirinovsky become President? Will Yeltsin be re-elected? About the British Royal Family and Princess Diana. About the Russian monarchy. About Chernobyl, the different theories. Some say that aliens knew about the catastrophe and helped us out; others that it was an experiment; and soon kids with incredible talents will start to be born. Or maybe the Belarussians will disappear, like the Scythians. We’re metaphysicians. We don’t live on this earth, but in our dreams, in our conversations. Because you need to add something to this ordinary life, in order to understand it. Even when you’re near death.

— p. 193, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen)

The Observer, Sunday, 29 October 2017

3-Page Special on US Politics in Today’s London Observer :

  • We must stop pretending the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal . . .  Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.

— Jeff Flake, Republican Senator from Arizona, who is not seeking re-election

  • (Flake) is one of my most detested politicians . . .  Of the 14 Republicans who voted for (an amnesty on illegal immigration), five are gone.

— Ann Coulter, rightwing political commentator

Self was surprised that The Observer gave such prominent place to US politics. Because isn’t England going through some pretty weighty upheavals of its own? She’s grateful, though, for this chance to see America through a different lens. She thought about this article all through dinner.

Coulter exults that five of the Republicans who voted against amnesty on illegal immigration “are gone.” Subtext is that she’d be very glad to see the remaining nine “gone” too, payback for speaking out against the President. Like, being “gone” is proof that they are, to borrow a lame term from 45, losers.

Wait, why is The Observer quoting Coulters? Self never heard the name Ann Coulters on TV or in the newspapers, for almost a year. She isn’t that famous.

You know who’s famous? Ivanka Trump. Because Colbert makes fun of her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Tom Wales, Federal Prosecutor, Murdered 2001, In His Own Home (No Arrests)

Self is doing this because she knew his ex-wife, Elizabeth Wales.

Perhaps because of his line of work, he was cautious. His home was equipped with motion sensors connected to floodlights.

30 days after 9/11, Tom Wales was shot multiple times through a basement window of his home office in Seattle, by a killer who surely had been observing him for a while, who knew that Wales worked late into the night, sitting at his desk, his back to the window.

The weapon was a Makarov 9mm semi-automatic handgun . . .  believed to have been threaded for a silencer (and yet, neighbors, one of whom was the acting District Attorney, heard the shots)

Public FBI reports state that Soviet Bloc countries manufactured the Makarov through approximately 1968 . . .

More in The New Yorker, a piece by Jeffrey Toobin, 6 August 2007, and The Atlantic, a piece by James Fallows, 10 October 2014.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2017

After the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, people have taken to social media to identify or “dox” the participants in order to shame them. The criticism doesn’t just land at the feet of participants, but often extends to their employers, leading to lost jobs over the exposure. Some people see this practice as violating one’s freedom of speech. Yes, this country is based on freedom of speech, but not freedom of consequences. It’s not a slippery slope. People are marching to intimidate and oppress other Americans.

There’s a real difference between disagreeing over politics and hate speech. No one is obligated to walk on eggshells for those who call for oppression. If you’re concerned with privacy, don’t show up to a public protest spouting racism — and then be surprised if people want to identify you.

— Spencer Whitney, Assistant Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Winner and Husband of Liu Xia (Poet, EMPTY CHAIRS), Has Died

And self can’t even.

She found out, of course, from Twitter.

There’s confirmation from BBC World News, here.

Heartbroken.

#amreading: Exhibition Catalogue, Jim Goldberg’s “Raised by Wolves” (SFMOMA 1995)

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“I want to get married and have at least four kids with ten dogs and live in a mansion with a jungle greenhouse with a pet jaguar.” — Runaway

“It is very difficult for a runaway kid to return after he or she has been on the street for more than a few weeks.” — Police Officer

“Adam and Troy have AIDS. Scooter is dead. Katy gave up her kid and is hanging out in bars in Polk Street selling pot.” — Runaway

“You know, they would rather live in filth and hunger with a group that will accept them than they would with a family that will meet all their physical needs, yet inflict on them emotional pain and torment.” — Preacher

“We won’t lose our jobs, this is a growth industry, good as the utility company.” — Counselor

DSCN0199

Happy Fourth of July.

Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: Sunday, 2 July 2017

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Exhibition Catalogue, SFMOMA: Jim Goldberg’s “Raised By Wolves,” Photographs of Seattle’s Street Children (1995)

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A Parent of a Runaway, Quoted in the “Raised by Wolves” Exhibition Catalogue

After Violence: Editors’ Note, J Journal, Fall 2012

This morning, self was standing on Platform # 5 in St. Pancras, waiting for the Picadilly Line southbound to Russell Square, when she heard the announcement over the PA system: We invite you to take a minute of silence to remember the victims of last Saturday’s attack on London Bridge.

It just so happens she has the Fall 2012 issue of J Journal here in London, and here’s what she read in the Editors’ Note:

. . .  after muggings in the park or fights on the street, after flood and fire, after 9/11 — why write? Why read? What good comes of either? Aren’t they just flimsy paper shields against what Yeats worries is “passionate intensity,” the eruption of chaos, of hurt and death? No. After violence, after strangeness on the street, after degradation and the jolt of darkness, what do people do? Grab someone and start talking. The writer grabs a pen and arranges events, turns abstractions into images, draws from chaos something to hold, something with meaning. In that way, perhaps writing is itself the first act of justice.

J Journal, A Note From the Editors, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 2012)

Could have been written yesterday.

J Journal is published twice-yearly by the Dept. of English of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York City.

Stay tuned.

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