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July 30, 2009

Brian MacQuarrie: Writing a Story of Grief, Anger, and Redemption

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Today's post is from guest author Brian MacQuarrie, whose book The Ride: A Shocking Murder and a Bereaved Father's Journey from Rage to Redemption (Da Capo Press) chronicles the true story of a child's murder and a father's transformation from vengeance-seeking victim to outspoken death-penalty critic. For the last twenty years, MacQuarrie has been a reporter for the Boston Globe, where he was nominated in 2006 for a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Boston.

Theride For a newspaper reporter turned first-time author, I approached The Ride, a nonfiction account of the 1997 murder of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the torturous aftermath for his family, as an extended journalistic exercise. I would report the story thoroughly, organize my notes meticulously, and finally write the narrative in 1,000-word segments that would allow me to march in neat, tidy, daily steps toward a timely, satisfying finish. And, of course, I would keep all the horrific details of the crime and its wide, collateral damage at proper, professional bay. After all, isn't that what I had always done?

I had been embedded with a front-line battalion during the invasion of Iraq, an engaged but unflappable witness to dozens of charred and broken bodies along the war-pocked roads from Kuwait to Baghdad. I had walked in the New Orleans Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina, at a time when the corpses of the homeless poor lay unacknowledged by both their peers and the powerful on a putrid floor inside that neglected place. And I had knocked on the doors of dozens of murder victims during my career at The Boston Globe, offering murmured condolences to the loved ones of the newly slain, and inquiring in appropriately respectful tones whether I could step inside, please, and listen to their loss.

I could do this again; in fact, I would do this again, I told myself. I had been granted a year-long book leave by the Globe, and I had been welcomed to a remote Long Island beach house with a fabulous, soul-freshening view where I could retreat to write after my reporting, and my interviews, and my leads had been exhausted in Massachusetts.

Continue reading "Brian MacQuarrie: Writing a Story of Grief, Anger, and Redemption" »

July 29, 2009

Stacy Mitchell: Starbucks Goes Stealth with Unbranded, "Local" Cafes

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Stacy Mitchell is the author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses. A senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, she chairs the American Independent Business Alliance, Mitchell regularly contributes articles and commentaries to magazines and newspapers, and produces an acclaimed monthly email newsletter, The Hometown Advantage Bulletin. This post originally appeared a the ILSR's New Rules Project blog.

Book Cover for Big-Box SwindleIn one of the more brazen attempts by a corporation to disguise itself as a locally owned business, Starbucks is un-branding at least three of it Seattle outlets.

The first of these conversions, reopening this week after extensive remodeling, will be called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. All of the signage and product labels will bear this new name. The Starbucks corporate logo will be no where to be seen.

In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Starbucks spokeswoman Anna Kim-Williams described the company's intent:

We're continuing our commitment to delivering specialty coffee excellence while refreshing our store design approach with amplified focus on local relevance... Ultimately, we hope customers will feel an enhanced sense of community and a deeper connection to our coffee heritage.

This is the latest, and arguably most audacious, in a string of corporate attempts to imitate and co-opt local-ness (see a recent investigation at New Rules Project: The Corporate Co-Opt of Local).

Starbucks learned how to act like a locally owned, neighborhood café by studying several independent coffeehouses in Seattle. One was Seattle Coffee Works, a small, 300-square-foot café. On the café's blog, co-owner Sebastian Simsch writes:

Last winter, three separate delegations of Starbucks folks came by. Each time they filled our little store so that no one else could fit in. Usually they didn’t introduce themselves, and one delegation even lied, saying they were just a group of Japanese tourists. They didn’t buy a single drink.

Starbucks people also logged many hours at Victrola Coffee Roasters. "They spent the last 12 months in our store with these obnoxious folders that said, 'Observation,'" owner Dan Ollis told the Seattle Times.

In the most obvious rip-off of an independent business, the décor of the new 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, which the Seattle Times describes as a "rustic, eco-friendly style," is virtually identical to that of Smith, a successful bar next door. Owner Linda Derschang says Starbucks copied everything, from her vintage industrial light fixtures to her wooden seats, and even asked one of her managers where the bar's awnings came from. In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she noted:

It's got a lot of salvaged wood, it's the same paint color inside as Smith and some of the wood framed chalkboards look very, very similar… Where's the independent spirit in knocking someone off?

Starbucks plans to convert at least three of its Seattle outlets to uniquely named neighborhood coffeehouses. If the experiment proves successful, the approach will be extended to more of the chain's 16,000 outlets.

Starbucks has struggled over the last year. Some 600 outlets have been shuttered in a bid to cut costs. Yesterday, Starbucks reported that same-store sales were down 5 percent in the last quarter, after declines of 8 and 9 percent in the previous two quarters.


The Stranger: Starbucks/15th Avenue Coffee and Tea: The Protesters

15th Avenue Coffee & Tea Flickr set

July 28, 2009

Susan Campbell: Jimmy Carter Knows That Women Are More Than Just Help-Meets

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Today's post is from Susan Campbell, author of Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl. Campbell's writing has been recognized by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors; National Women's Political Caucus; the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, and the Connecticut chapter of Society of Professional Journalists. She was also a member of the Hartford Courant's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for breaking news. Be sure to check out her Dating Jesus blog.

Dating Jesus: link to Beacon Press page for the bookI want to take a moment-- belatedly so-- to thank Bro. Jimmy Carter.

Let me first say that former Pres. Carter is not of my particular theological tribe. I was raised non-denominational/ fundamentalist Christian, while Carter is maybe the world's most famous Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher Growing up, we thought Southern Baptists were in gross scriptural error-- but then, we thought everyone else was, too. I have since come to understand that we were wrong on that and on several other matters of faith, including our view of the role of women in society. In my church-- and in Carter's-- women were told to keep silent. They could and can hold no positions of authority (lest they usurp authority over a man), and their highest calling was/is to be someone's submissive partner. My highest calling at my church was to be what we called "help-meets."

Please don't tell me this is God's plan. There is no good reason-- scriptural or otherwise-- to assign to more than half the population the role of "help-meet." Do men really need that much help?

Continue reading "Susan Campbell: Jimmy Carter Knows That Women Are More Than Just Help-Meets" »

Ideal Bite features Confessions of an Eco-Sinner as August Biter Book Club selection

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From the Ideal Bite website:

For the third installment of our summer Biter Book Club, we're trying something a little different: Fred Pearce, author of our August selection, Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, is gonna lead off the blogging to get the dialogue started.

So read Part 1 (through Chapter 2), and then check back on Monday, August 3 to see what Fred's got up his sleeve. Then, our moderators Hanah and Tosh'll guide you the rest of the way with daily questions and discussion topics. We want to hear what you have to say, so comment on the discussion questions - daily, weekly, whenever you have time - and see what other BC members are saying. And, if you have any specific questions you want to ask Fred about the book, post them as a comment on our BC blog and he'll do his best to answer a few of them. Happy reading...

Synopsis: You bought your jeans at a local boutique, sure - but where do they really come from? Curious journalist Fred Pearce tracks the origins of his purchases (his coffee, his computer, his socks…) and learns about the impacts of buying stuff, first-hand, from the people who are most affected by it.

About the author: Considered one of Britain's best science writers, Fred Pearce is a former news editor at New Scientist who's currently serving as its environment and development consultant. He won the British Environment and Media Award for Environment Journalist of the Year in 2001, and was nominated for it three more times. He's written for Audubon, Popular Science, Time, the Boston Globe, and Natural History, and has written five other books, including The Last Generation, When the Rivers Run Dry, and Deep Jungle.

Reading Selection Week 1:(August 3-9) Parts 1 &  2, Ch. 1 through Ch. 9; 81 pages.

Moderators: SF Editor Hanah Snavely and Daily Tip Editor Toshio Meronek


July 27, 2009

Link Roundup: More on Prof. Gates, Curveballs, Polka

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Sherrilyn Ifill (On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-first Century) has some excellent commentary on recent events, including the Sotomayor hearings (as well as the Supreme Court ruling on Ricci v. DeStefano, a case that was brought up repeatedly in the hearings) and the Henry Louis Gates arrest.

You should also check out Stanley Fish talking about his friendship with Professor Gates in the New York Times.

Jay Wexler (who, it's already been established, loves road trips) is in Asheville, NC, this week. Check him out at Malaprops Bookstore on Thursday, and read about his family's adventures here. And read about how drinking beer helped him write his book here.

Patricia Hill Collins talks about institutional racism and education on BookTV. (It's about a hour and fifteen minutes long, so set aside some time to watch.)

Suzanne Strempek Shea says polka's not dead yet.

Mark Hyman looks at one of the problems addressed in his book about youth sports: whether curveballs are too stressful for young bodies.

July 24, 2009

Thomas N. DeWolf: The Educational Opportunity in the Gates Arrest

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Thomas N. DeWolf is the author of Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. Tom speaks regularly at schools, conferences, and other events around the country. For further information go to:, where you can also find his Inheriting the Trade blog.

Book Cover of Inheriting the Trade, links to Beacon Press page for bookLike many Americans, I have followed closely the story of the arrest of Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley for disorderly conduct. This is, as Dr. Gates said during a CNN interview on July 22, "an educational opportunity for America."

Two significant messages loom large in this educational opportunity. First, based on the wildly different responses to this story-- from writers black and white, conservative and liberal-- can we all agree to set aside the bogus notion that we are a "post-racial" nation? This case is about race. We're talking about it. We disagree.

Separate from the facts in this particular case, racial profiling is alive and well in America. According to the ACLU report The Persistence Of Racial And Ethnic Profiling In The United States, released just a few weeks ago, "Indeed, data and anecdotal information from across the country reveal that racial minorities continue to be unfairly victimized when authorities investigate, stop, frisk, or search them based upon subjective identity-based characteristics rather than identifiable evidence of illegal activity. Victims continue to be racially or ethnically profiled while they work, drive, shop, pray, travel, and stand on the street."

Second, most white people remain largely oblivious to the systemic racism that results in the regular occurrence of such incidents all over our nation. It isn't "in our face," doesn't appear to impact us, and we've been socialized not to see it. Most white people consider ourselves to be not racist. We have good intentions toward people of color. But good intentions are irrelevant when the outcomes are unjust and inequitable.

Continue reading "Thomas N. DeWolf: The Educational Opportunity in the Gates Arrest " »

July 23, 2009

David W. Moore: Obama, the Public, and Health Care

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Today's post is from David W. Moore, author of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls (out in hardcover now, paperback with a new afterword available this fall). Moore is a senior fellow of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. A former senior editor of the Gallup Poll, where he worked for thirteen years, Moore also served as professor of political science at UNH and is the founder and former director of the UNH Survey Center.

Book cover for The Opinion Makers by David W. MooreA recent ABC/Washington Post poll reported slipping support for President Obama's efforts to reform health care. In April of this year, polls showed 57 percent approval to 29 percent disapproval of the way the president is handling health care, compared to a 49 percent to 44 percent ratio in mid-July. That's an 8-point decline in approval and a 15-point increase in disapproval.

The same poll also showed that, by a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, Americans support a health care reform plan that is roughly what the president is requesting.

What's going on? If Americans support the president's health care plan, and it is now that he is pushing the Congress to pass legislation enacting reform, why is the president's popularity on this issue declining?

The public's growing disenchantment is especially surprising, because last April the president was hardly focused on health care at all, his attention mostly on getting a stimulus bill passed through Congress. Yet, if we believe the polls, his approval on health care was higher when he was not fully engaged in getting health care legislation passed (which the public wants) than when he is fully engaged!

Continue reading "David W. Moore: Obama, the Public, and Health Care" »

July 22, 2009

Lillian Rubin: The Emperor Has No Clothes: Why the Sotomayor Hearings Were Disappointing

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Lillian B. Rubin is with the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley. She is a sociologist, psychologist, and author of numerous books, the latest of which is 60 on Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-First Century. She also writes for Dissent magazine, and this piece originally posted on their website here.

RubinWill somebody out there say it please: The hearings that were supposed to provide insight into Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s suitability for the United States Supreme Court were a disgrace and an outrage. Not just the Republican bloviators posturing for the cameras and toadying to their right-wing constituency, not just the Democratic yea-sayers singing the judge’s praises and feeding her softballs and sweet talk, but Sotomayer herself.

I have no doubt that Sonia Sotomayor is a remarkable woman, nor do I fail to appreciate that hers is an inspiring story.  But am I the only one who thinks the repeated—and seemingly obligatory—references to her past from both sides of the aisle were more a self-congratulatory bow to American exceptionalism than to Judge Sotomayor and her personal accomplishments.

I don’t mean that America doesn’t deserve kudos for a social order that still makes such a climb possible, although far less likely than when I grew up in the same place and similar circumstances as Judge Sotomayor. But it would sit easier if there had been even one voice—if not on the committee then in the media—to remind us that she’s one-of-a-kind, or at best, one-of-a-few, and that most of her former neighbors still live in the South Bronx, still scrabble for the food and the rent, and still suffer the effects of the prejudice and discrimination that has dogged their lives. 

My real question, however, is: Where was that savvy woman her friends and colleagues describe, the one they say is smart, warm, and funny, the one who has had such a brilliant career and is now about to ascend to its pinnacle? Why was she in hiding? Yes, I know, she’d been briefed and rehearsed until her brain probably was rendered incapable of spontaneous thought. But why did she have to back away from truths she’d spoken so eloquently in the past? Would it have really have hurt her confirmation chances if, when questioned about her “wise Latina woman” speech, she had said, “Yes, of course, my life experiences as a poor Latina woman have a bearing on who I am today and, therefore, on how I see the facts of a case. With respect, senator, so do your experiences as a privileged white man influence what you see and how you judge it.”

Continue reading "Lillian Rubin: The Emperor Has No Clothes: Why the Sotomayor Hearings Were Disappointing" »

Howard Bryant at ESPN on a Notable Date in Red Sox History

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Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the day the Boston Red Sox became an integrated team, when Pumpsie Green was sent in as a pinch runner. Howard Bryant, author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, writes about the anniversary at ESPN, noting that not only did the team pass on signing Jackie Robinson--the first African-American player in Major League Baseball-- they didn't even integrate until after Robinson retired from the game, and were the last team in baseball to do so. Read Bryant's piece at ESPN here.

July 21, 2009

Patricia Harman: Morgantown's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

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Today's post is from Patricia Harman, author of The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir. Harman got her start as a lay-midwife on the rural communes where she lived in the '60s and '70s, going on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives and works near Morgantown, West Virginia, and has three sons. In the interest of privacy, the names and some identifying details of the women she discusses in this post have been changed.

Book Cover for The Blue Cotton Gown by Patricia Harman, links to Beacon Press page for book West Virginia has a reputation for being nearly the worst for everything in the US, except for the beautiful scenery. We Mountaineers have the 4th highest poverty rate in the United States: 16.9%, equal with Alabama and just slightly better than Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Louisiana.

I was, therefore, astounded when NBC Nightly Newsfeatured our hometown, Morgantown, WV (poverty level 27.7%), as having the lowest unemployment rate (2.7%) in the nation in this past December's survey. (The rate has since risen, but we're still among the lowest in the country.) As a nurse-midwife and women's healthcare provider in a private clinic, I see life through the eyes of my patients. If we're doing well, it must be catastrophic everywhere else.

Molly McDonald sits on the guest chair in my exam room. She's a 28- year-old housekeeper at the hospital. There are tears in her green eyes. "I don't know what's going on," she tells me. "Ever since I went back to work, I can't quit crying. I love my job, don't get me wrong and I'm grateful to have one, especially since Leonard got laid off at the sawmill… New home building has slowed and they ain't selling much lumber."

"How old are your kids?" I ask sympathetically.

"Just four months and three. Leonard's at home with them now but he's drinking and in my face all the time, complaining that I don't give him much love. But I'm just so tired…" The patient trails off and stares at the white cupboards over the sink. "I'm just so tired of holding the family together."

I can't fix Molly's family or get Leonard his job back, so I give her a hug and a prescription for anti-depressants.

Continue reading "Patricia Harman: Morgantown's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" »

Link Roundup

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Chris Finan (From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America) was featured as a Change Maker in Publishers Weekly for his work on free speech issues. You can read Finan's Beacon Broadside posts here.

Speaking of free speech... is this the future of censorship?

David Bacon's Illegal People is "An Island of Rationality."

Kim Nielsen discusses writing about Anne Sullivan Macy.

Jeff Sharlet answers three questions for Moby Lives. 

Advice for authors about how to handle local bookstore signings

July 16, 2009

Frederick S. Lane: Bachmann's Anti-Census Fear-Mongering is Nothing New

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Today's post is from Frederick S. Lane, an author, attorney, expert witness, and lecturer who has appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. His fifth book, American Privacy: The Four-Hundred-Year History of Our Most Contested Right, will be published by Beacon Press in November 2009. For additional information, visit

Cover image for American PrivacyDuring questioning by Senator Al Franken (what a pleasure to finally write those words!), Judge Sonya Sotomayor noted that the U.S. Constitution is a mixture of broad principles ("due process," "free speech," etc.) and specific commands.

While broad principles allow room for adaptation and interpretation, the specific instructions are meant to be followed. For instance, she said, the Constitution states that an individual must be at least 30 years old in order to serve in the United States Senate. There's not a lot of wiggle room in that provision.

Another example is contained in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution (and the 14th Amendment), which states that the members of the United States House of Representatives shall be apportioned among the various states "according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed." "The actual Enumeration," the Constitution says, "shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."

The use of the word "shall" is a pretty clear tip-off that the Framers meant what they said; the nation is required to conduct a head count each decade, and Congress is given the discretion to determine how the Census should be conducted. Initially, under the direction of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Census takers limited themselves to just six questions, all of which were designed to count various categories of people in a given household. Over the succeeding decades, however, Congress expanded the Census beyond a raw headcount by adding questions designed to collect a wide range of information necessary for creating and implementing public policy. The specific questions varied from decade to decade, but popular topics included levels of education, employment, property ownership, types of illness, national origin, and so on.

Not surprisingly, as the information collected by the Census expanded beyond mere enumeration, a tension arose between civic duty and personal privacy. In 1850, for instance, when Census takers began collecting information about individuals by name, the practice of posting Census results in public locations was stopped. By the time the 10th Census rolled around in 1880, Congress was sufficiently worried about non-compliance that it established a $100 fine for individuals who refused to answer a census taker's questions (the same fine still applies today). At the same time, it also created a $500 fine for census takers who disclosed an individual's private information without authorization. In addition, individual census responses are sealed for a period of 70 years; only the aggregate data is reported to Congress and the public.

Continue reading "Frederick S. Lane: Bachmann's Anti-Census Fear-Mongering is Nothing New" »

Video: Kate Clinton the Wiseass White Woman

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If you can't see the video in your reader, click here.

Kate Clinton, author of I Told You So, is a faith-based, tax-paying, America-loving political humorist and family entertainer. With a career spanning over 25 years, Kate Clinton has worked through economic booms and busts, Disneyfication and Walmartization, gay movements and gay markets, lesbian chic and queer eyes, and ten presidential inaugurals. She still believes that humor gets us through peacetime, wartime and scoundrel time. You can see this and many other vlogs at

You can also check out Kate on the Progressive this week "reviewing" Bruno.

In the News: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Trial for War Crimes

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As former Liberian President Charles Taylor defends himself against charges of war crimes in Sierra Leone, you should read Philip C. Winslow's post about that's country's brutal civil war here. Winslow wrote the piece after three commanders in that war were found guilty on multiple counts of war crimes.    
From Philip C. Winslow: Sierra Leone photos

July 15, 2009

Farnoosh Moshiri: An Open Door in the Bend of an Iranian Alley

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Author Farnoosh Moshiri was born in a literary family in Tehran, Iran. She holds a B.A. in dramatic literature from the College of Dramatic Arts in Tehran, an M.A. in drama from the University of Iowa and an M.F.A in creative writing from the University of Houston. Her novel The Bathhouse is the story of a young woman arrested and detained during the fundamentalist revolution in Iran.

Cover Image for The Bathhouse, links to Beacon Press page for book"It's happening and I'm not there," I embrace my belly, as if having unbearable cramps of a miscarriage. I hold back tears and move back and forth like a mother on her child's grave. On the TV screen Iranian youth chant, demanding justice. The election has been a fraud and they want re-counting of the votes. They want their elected president, not the little dictator, the puppet of the old despot, the "Absolutist Ayatollah." They march peacefully, some with tapes over their mouths, meaning they are quiet, all wearing green shirts, waistbands, or bandanas, holding flags and banners, arms up, showing V signs. They are millions—men and women, boys and girls, children, babies, sitting on the shoulders of fathers, green ribbons decorating the crown of their fluffy hair. It's a massive demonstration, a reminder of 1979, when I was one of them and we fought for a republic—not an Islamic one. This was before the West aimed the spotlight on Khomeini and he was shipped from Paris with his entourage and the people's revolution was hijacked.

I watch all this, remember my youth, sway like a pendulum, and swallow my tears. But suddenly men in black shirts attack the green sea of the peaceful rally and blood covers the streets of Tehran. Cell phones capture the clubbing and stabbing. Someone's camera records the shooting of a girl. I watch with disbelief. Blood gushes out of the girl's chest, a young man presses his hand over the wound to stop it, an old man screams, "They killed her! They killed my daughter!"

After this scene, I experience a turmoil unlike any emotional crisis in my life. Anger, sorrow, and the worst—guilt and self-hatred overcome me. I sob for a moment, then I shout at my husband, "Haven't I been telling you? Haven't I been writing for years that this is a fascist regime? Haven't I? So why has no one believed me? No one ever believed me! I was right! They are fascists. Look! They're killing our children!"

He rubs my shoulder to calm me down and gently reminds me that no one has ever rejected my books; no one has ever defended this regime.

But this does not help. I'm out of my mind. I contradict myself: "I haven't done anything! Nothing!" I weep. "I escaped and they are getting killed--"

With each new image, each YouTube film clip of beatings and stabbings of innocent people, I go through another wave of rage and sorrow, guilt and self-bashing. I mumble incoherently between tears—either insisting that I'd been right writing against this regime, or lamenting that I haven't done enough.

Have I been suffering from PTSD and have never been diagnosed? Am I remembering the Revolution, my forced exile, the execution of my comrades after I crossed the border, my father's arrest and beating and his subsequent blindness and stroke? Am I remembering the harsh life of the refugee camp in war-infested Afghanistan? Am I remembering everything at once and experiencing a breakdown?

And why such back breaking guilt, such self-condemnation?

"I want to be there!" I demand childishly. "I want to be shot, get beaten up, clubbed, killed! Why am I here?"

Continue reading "Farnoosh Moshiri: An Open Door in the Bend of an Iranian Alley" »

July 14, 2009

David W. Moore: Sarah Palin and Her Future Political Prospects

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Today's post is from David W. Moore, author of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls (out in hardcover now, paperback with a new afterword available this fall). Moore is a senior fellow of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. A former senior editor of the Gallup Poll, where he worked for thirteen years, Moore also served as professor of political science at UNH and is the founder and former director of the UNH Survey Center.

Book cover for The Opinion Makers by David W. MooreIf we believe the recent USA Today/Gallup poll, Sarah Palin's standing among Republicans as a presidential candidate in 2012 has actually improved as a consequence of her stunning announcement that she would resign as Alaska's governor at the end of July. So counterintuitive is this finding, it was picked up by many pundits and journalists, including Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation Room, and Frank Rich in last Sunday's New York Times.

As Rich noted, the poll reported that "no less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president."

Don't believe it! The poll is typical of many media polls, whose major objective is to provide fodder for the news, quite often at the expense of an accurate picture of what the public is really thinking.

After the jump, some reasons to be skeptical of the poll.

Continue reading "David W. Moore: Sarah Palin and Her Future Political Prospects" »

July 13, 2009

Link Roundup: Who's Qualified? Alternate reality Sotomayor hearing. Chinese quarantine.

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In the NY Times, Lani Guiner and Susan Sturm (Who's Qualified?examine the Ricci decision.

Alan Collinge explains the student loan industry to Daily Kos-ians. 

Have you been wondering what the Sotomayor confirmation hearings would be like if they were conducted by the 1977 Kansas City Royals? Well, Jay Wexler has the answer anyway.

Beacon author Jonathan Metzl was recently quarantined by the Chinese government in respose to an H1N1 scare. And regardless of what the Chinese government had to say about it, the accommodations were not five-star. 

Meredith Hall's Without a Map was featured on O Magazine's list of ten recommended memoirs (along with Kelly McMasters, who wrote this post for Beacon Broadside a while back).

The Bitch Magazine blog gives The Daddy Shift a thoughtful review

Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God, loves Believer, Beware

Blurbs don't get much better than this: "I read Love and Death as soon as it came out.  The greatest gift I could give every one of you is to just tell you to go read this book."  President Bill Clinton

July 10, 2009

Observation Post
by Philip C. Winslow:
Angola's Forgotten War, Squandered Peace

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WinslowToday's post is the latest in a Beacon Broadside series: Observation Post by journalist and foreign correspondent Philip C. Winslow. Over a career that has spanned more than twenty-five years, Winslow has reported on world events for the Christian Science Monitor, the Toronto Star, Maclean's magazine, ABC radio news, CTV News, and CBC radio. He also served in two United Nations peacekeeping missions and worked for the UN in the West Bank for nearly three years. He is the author of Victory For Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis and Sowing the Dragon's Teeth: Land Mines and the Global Legacy of War.

Book Cover for Sowing the Dragon's TeethAngola's decades-long terror often was called “the worst war in the world.” The civil war left as many as 1.5 million people dead and millions more maimed, orphaned and homeless. The description never seemed overstated.

Following a bloody struggle that ended with independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola plunged into a Cold War-fueled regional conflict that eclipsed all that had gone before. The Marxist government of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) was backed by the Soviet Union, with Cuban fighters and others on the ground. Jonas Savimbi's UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels were armed and supported by the United States and an aggressive, interventionist South Africa. Hopes for peace flickered for an instant before ill-timed elections in 1992; UNITA lost, and Savimbi re-started the war with intensified brutality. This chapter of the tragedy lasted for the next ten years.

Continue reading "Observation Post
by Philip C. Winslow:
Angola's Forgotten War, Squandered Peace" »

July 09, 2009

Video: Katherine Newman on the Near Poor

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Katherine S. Newman is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs of the Woodrow Wilson School and Director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Newman is an expert on urban poverty, occupational mobility, and subjective dimensions of economic dislocation, and is the author of The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America and several other books on poverty, downward mobility and school violence. This video was produced by the Woodrow Wilson School's Office of External Affairs.

If the video doesn't appear in your reader, you can watch it here. And you can check out Beacon Broadside's growing Video Log here.

July 08, 2009

Audio: Irina Reyn reads "I Was a Pre-Pubescent Messiah"

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Book cover for Believer BewareBeliever, Beware: First-person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith, the second collection to spring from, presents true tales of sex ed in Catholic school, witches in Kansas, sects and the city, Buddhists in the barbershop, Sufis under your nose, an adolescent Jewish messiah in Queens, and more. In a world riven by absolute convictions, these ambivalent confessions, skeptical testimonies, and personal revelations speak to the subtler and stranger dilemmas of faith and doubt-of religion lost and found and lost again.

Hear Irina Reyn read “I Was a Prepubescent Messiah" at the Believer, Beware release party on June 29, 2009. You can also read the essay here.

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