palestinian rap

March 21, 2007

SlingShot Hip Hop is a film featuring Palestinian rappers. It’s still in production but the trailer’s on the website and on YouTube.

Free the P! is a great compilation CD of Arab American hip hop, mostly Palestinian, dedicated to Palestinian youth. I love the interweaving of traditional music with contemporary in the work of groups like DAM.


tools of the pacifist trade

March 20, 2007

I learned a few things about our troubled military tonight at the candlelight vigil on the Japanese Bridge at Big Spring Park in Huntsville. One man mentioned the backdoor draft and a woman responded that one example is the stop-loss program, which has affected her son. His contract will be up in May but he will have to stay in Iraq for as long as his unit had to stay. Another person brought up platoons filled with non-U.S. citizens who are promised citizenship after they fight in Iraq. I found the following from an independent research corporation:

Policy changes since September 11, 2001—including an executive order that allows non-citizens to apply for expedited citizenship after only one day of active duty and provisions in the 2004 defense authorization bill that ease the way to citizenship—may encourage noncitizens to consider military service.

Two women there wore Code Pink t-shirts. Code Pink has protested this war since its start. We were a group of twenty or so folks, mostly middle-aged. One kid roller-bladed up with sign in hand: “I’m not disturbing the peace, I’m protesting the war.” We sang some songs, talked about the war, held candles, prayed. I noticed one TV reporter and camera. Maybe other media there (newspaper?).

protesting war

March 18, 2007

About 400 protestors marched on downtown Denver yesterday. I’m planning on being at a candlelight vigil tomorrow night in Huntsville AL. We’re entering the fifth year of the Iraq War, the fifth anniversary of the war. “Anniversary” seems such an unfit word with all its trappings of celebration. There’s nothing to celebrate here. The front page of The Sunday Denver Post announces a lead article by Kevin Simpson called “Revived protests seek firm footing” and the top quarter of the paper is devoted to  news on Iraq and on protests. There’s a picture of a scarf-clad woman protestor with a white band around her forehead and tucked under her aqua scarf: the band has the word “PEACE” in capital letters black-inked in. Two-thirds of the visual space of the front page, however, is taken up by an article with the title “A world of charm & contradiction,” and tells us that “In Oklahoma, the pageant circuit is queen — and an industry.” The picture of five competing teens in the Miss Broken Arrow Outstanding Teen contest is three times the size of the head shot of sixteen-year-old Amina Khan, the anti-war protestor.

Kevin Simpson’s article raises some excellent points (it’s also well written). And I want to talk about those points later, but I’ve got to get to my WAT meeting where we talk about how to set up a writing retreat that builds a community of teacher-writer-scholars who use technology in teaching writing. So the quotation from Colorado state senator Mike Kopp, who presented a pro-war position at the downtown rally yesterday, is particularly appropriate: “My sense is that (the anti-war movement) is small pockets inflamed by the blog world.” Hmmm. I’ll talk about this later, because it’s part of a central point Simpson makes in his article.

great class!

March 15, 2007

Last night we had works-in-progress presentations in the Writing Pedagogy grad class and I was energized by all the good work: Heejoo’s curriculum for teaching writing in a multilingual, multi-level ELL classroom; Angel’s investigation into how teachers’ comments on students’ writing (grades 6-12) affect students’ attitudes towards writing; Ginger’s lesson plans for portfolios in senior high school English using literacy autobiographies; Brad’s analysis of effective teaching for adult learners at a technical college; Amber’s lesson plans and tips for incorporating writing in math, social studies, and science in grades 9-12;  Kate’s research into memoir and her writers’ decisions as she constructs her own; Coko’s work on how to help teachers use poetry to teach writing; Amanda’s research journeys into travel writing; Colleen’s guides on how to write book reviews as a way to make reading-writing connections; Wendi’s field studies on early writers and how to help parents use a variety of methods to encourage early reading-writing connections; and my own journeys into the magical realm of how to manufacture time to do the writing one desires.

richard horton’s “Palestinians: The Medical Crisis”

March 3, 2007

In a survey completed by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, over 90 percent of children below the age of eleven experience severe anxiety, nightmares, and physical expressions of stress, such as bed-wetting. Half fear that their parents will not be able to provide essential family necessities, such as food and a home. Forty percent have relatives who died during the second intifada, which began in 2000.

Access to health care is perhaps one of the most egregious casualties of apartheid and Richard Horton demonstrates this by detailing conditions at Beit Hanoun Hospital in Gaza. After speaking with the president of the Israeli Medical Association, Horton writes this:

I came away from my meeting with IMA officials in Tel Aviv convinced that they believed in the sincerity of their opinions and actions. But I am equally convinced that a few days spent traveling in the West Bank and Gaza, talking to Palestinian doctors and health workers, and listening to the experiences of Palestinian citizens would show them that their public statements, official assurances, and strongly promulgated arguments sadly count for very little alongside the horrific realities of daily life for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

After referring to health care problems resulting from the occupation (“Studies of perinatal and infant mortality show that checkpoints and military barriers frequently obstruct women seeking care during critical periods of labor and delivery”), Horton goes on to discuss Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), a group of about 1,500 Israeli physicians who view sending a mobile clinic into occupied territory as a protest against Israeli policies.

john pilger’s “Australia: The New 51st State”

March 3, 2007

A posting on Rhetoricians for Peace informed me of an article by John Pilger called “Australia: The New 51st State,” which begins with this paragraph:

In June this year, 26,000 US and Australian troops will take part in bombarding the ancient fragile landscape of Australia. They will storm the Great Barrier Reef, gun down “terrorists” and fire laser-guided missiles at some of the most pristine wilderness on earth. Stealth, B-1 and B-52 bombers (the latter alone each carry 30 tonnes of bombs) will finish the job, along with a naval onslaught. Underwater depth charges will explode where endangered species of turtle breed. Nuclear submarines will discharge their high-level sonar, which destroy the hearing of seals and other marine mammals.

The article details Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s support of the Bush administration and discusses Rupert Murdoch’s media supremacy in the U.S. and Australia. Author John Pilger discusses a secret treaty signed by Howard and Bush in 2004; the treaty allows the U.S. to establish its 738th military base in Western Australia and makes possible Operation Talisman Sabre 2007, the horrific military practice described in the first paragraph of Pilger’s piece.

If there were such a thing as a planetary shrink, a psychotherapist for Earth, our diagnosis would be insanity — how else would one describe the self-destructive practices we engage in moment to moment, all in the name of protecting one’s country?

spinning in tokyo

March 2, 2007

My nephew, Nathaniel, is in Tokyo promoting his music (TaxDAY), learning Japanese, and getting what I consider an invaluable education. He’s posted this amazing video of his friend Kochan spinning lights. I tried to find out about “spinning” but haven’t made much progress. But the video is mesmerizing — two lights swinging around in poetic, martial-arts ballet at night somewhere in a park.