Monthly Archives: September 2011


Profiling’s Legal! Court Upholds Alabama’s Worst-in-Nation Immigration Law

Alabama has prevailed where four other states which have enacted anti-immigrant state laws, including Arizona, did not. Julianne Hing reports on yesterday’s court ruling.

Homeowners to Banks: Clean Up the Mess You Left in Our Neighborhood

Kai Wright tells us about a group of homeowners in East Oakland that got fed up with “foreclosure trash” and took it back to the bank.

Beyond Troy Davis: How Race Colors Death Row ‘Justice’

Hatty Lee illustrates how race shapes who ends up with life sentences and on death row in the U.S.

USPS’s Largely Black and Female Workforce Rallies to Save Jobs
While the agency has been under intense scrutiny, workers are backing a bill that they say will fix some of its most glaring shortcomings.

Ward Connerly Joins UC Berkeley’s Republican ‘Diversity Bake Sale’
Ward Connerly, a former UC Regent and a driving force behind efforts to end affirmative action, joins UC Berkeley’s College Republicans’ ‘Diversity Bake Sale.’

Irvine 11 Case Against Muslim Students Sets Dangerous Precedent
An Orange County jury found 10 Muslim student protesters guilty of violating Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s freedom of speech. But will the verdict stifle protests by students of color on college campuses?

It’s President Obama Who Needs to ‘Stop Complaining’ and Get to Work
Obama ruffled feathers with a speech telling black leaders to take off their “bedroom slippers” and join the battle for his jobs bill. Funny thing is, that’s just what they were trying to tell him.

HBO’s ‘Latino List’ Shows Complexities of Being Latino in the U.S.
HBO’s “The Latino List” is an exploration of what it takes and what it means to be a successful Latino in the U.S. today.

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Montana White Supremacist Threatens Human Rights Organization

by Bill Morlin –on September 29, 2011

A former “staff leader” of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations is threatening to indict members of the Montana Human Rights Network by convening a “citizen grand jury.”

The e-mail threat came from Karl Gharst, a white supremacist who was convicted and sent to prison in 2004 for threatening to kill a child protective services worker in Montana. The new threat was disclosed Thursday by Travis McAdam, director of the Montana human rights organization, who said the matter had been reported to law enforcement.

The threat of “convening so-called citizen grand juries is a tactic that radical-right extremists love to employ,” McAdams said. “They think it makes their lies, threats, and intimidation more valid if they throw in some fake legalese.”

In the Sept. 17 E-mail, Gharst said the Montana Human Rights Network is a “Jewish criminal organization working with other Jewish organized crime networks,” including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Gharst accused the Montana human rights organization of “entrapping lawful citizens into crimes engineered by the above-mentioned criminal organizations.”

“These organizations are well known to commit crimes against lawful citizens through intimidation, destruction of property, violence and assassination,” Gharst wrote. “These people calling themselves ‘Jews’ are not citizens of the State of Montana in accordance to the Constitution of the State of Montana.

“As a lawful citizen I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power and the power of the State of Montana to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”

McAdams said that while Gharst’s allegations are ludicrous, he considers him potentially dangerous.

“He’s spent time in prison for threatening a social worker. Earlier this month, he wrote about always carrying a knife and having a firearm within reach. He’s shown he’s willing to cross the line, so we’re taking this threat seriously and have reported it to law enforcement.”

It’s not the first time members or former members of the Aryan Nations have sent E-mail threats.

In 2004, Aryan Nations Nevada leader Steve Holten was charged with sending E-mail threats of violence to Jews, minority leaders and media representatives in California and Nevada. He pleaded guilty and served four months in prison. In 2006, Holten was sent back to prison for another six months for violating terms of his probation by being arrested for indecent exposure in a Reno, Nev., park where he put up posters soliciting sex with men.

It’s not clear whether charges can be brought against Gharst, who maintained his ties with the Aryan Nations after a civil suit by the Southern Poverty Law Center brought about its financial collapse in 2000.

Gharst ran unsuccessfully for city council in Hayden, Idaho, in November 2003, while his mentor, Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, failed in his bid to become that city’s mayor. Gharst returned to Montana, where he has continued his white supremacist activism.

In the past two years, he has shown Holocaust-denial films at the public library in Kalispell, in northwestern Montana’s Flathead County, which is a current hotbed of extremist activity. Gharst also has been involved with Kalispell Pioneer Little Europe, an organization that promotes a white separatist agenda and is trying to create an Aryan homeland in Flathead Valley.

Antigovernment “Patriots” and others involved in so-called common law courts frequently attempt to use citizen grand juries and even death threats as a way to intimidate their perceived enemies.

The Montana Freeman – responsible for the longest FBI siege in U.S. history – did just that in 1996.

Last year, a group of Patriots in Montana collected signatures in a failed attempt to put a measure on the state’s general election ballot that would have allowed citizens to summon grand juries.

“It’s important that the community be aware of how [Gharst] operates,” McAdams said. “This threat of phony legal action will not deter us from helping local community members both understand and organize against the racist and anti-Semitic goals of Gharst and his allies.”



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Regarding President Obama’s speech this past weekend to the Congressional Black Congress’s Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner. For much of President Obama’s speech, I was right along with him.Speech starts off in the usual boring platitudes, then near the end goes off on a wild tangent.

The CBC voiced its concerns on the high rate of joblessness in the Black community and the economic ills that affect many Blacks. There is nothing that justifies President Barack Obama’s massive haranguing to the Congressional Black Caucus with the following rant:

 “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.” 

Of course he is all big and bad in jumping down the throats of Blacks, even if they are in the person of the CBC. But, let him say the same thing to the nation of Israel; let’s see him tell the LGBT to shut up when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was running patriotic gays out of the military; let him say the same thing to LULAC or MALDEF when they bring their complaints to him; let’s see  him raise his voice against liberals who do nothing for their Black, White, or other constituents–then it’s “Mum’s the word”.

Oh, it is all well and good to tear into Blacks because that has been the racist mantra of so many in this country from the past up to the present.

And what the fuck was up with that pounding the podium at the end of his so-called speech?

Ya’ know President Obama–you haven’t really done much since you have been in office. You have been too terrified to fire back at the racist ReThuglican Party which has literally destroyed this country, theTea Baggers, the racist ultra-right-conservatives who have torn you a new asshole since you have been in office. All the chimp-monkey-nigger hate that has been thrown at you and your wife, the First Lady, and your two daughters, by all manner of filth yet you just mealy mouth and pussyfoot around with those who seek your destruction. But, it is beyond plain that you know you can attack Blacks and get away with it, because that is the overwhelming national consensus in this country.

Hey, this isn’t the first time you have thrown Blacks under the bus.


You did it in 2008 with you so-called speech on race.

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’ “.

Did you tell those corporations you bailed out to “shake it off”? I don’t remember you telling them to “stop crying” when they ran their own businesses into the ground. I do not remember you telling them to “stop grumblin’…stop complainin” when they caused the subprime mortgage hells.

Yeah, I’m sitting in front of this computer in my slippers because I have earned the damned right to do so.

I came in from my job after a hard day’s work. I have lived my life pursuing education both in and out of school, I have worked to build up my skills and capabilities, I have been resourceful, responsible, dependable and an asset to this nation.

So, yeah, I have the right to rest when I get home, no matter what you do or do not like.

“We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

Yeah, we have work to do, and that work is to give support for those who do not rabidly jump up and down on us while trying to curry favor with those who seek our destruction.

Man the fuck up, or continue on the path you have chosen.

Pony up, grow some balls and cease being the HNIC and become the Commander-in-Chief that you ought to be.

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For the last five years I have been mulling over whether to buy a Kindle reader. Somehow, the idea of reading books on a Kindle e-reader never quite appealed to me. I love the feel of holding a book in my hand, turning the pages, saving the page with one of my bookmarks, as well as enjoying the quality of the text.

So, whenever Amazon Kindle put out a newer version of Kindle, they just were not going to sell me on the idea of putting money down for a Kindle. Ho-hum was all I felt for Kindle.

But, today, September 28, 2011,  Amazon introduces four new Kindle series, and this time, my interest has perked up. Per their website announcement:

“We’re excited to introduce an all-new Kindle family: three all-new Kindle e-readers that are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than ever before, and Kindle Fire – a new class of Kindle that brings the same ease-of-use and deep integration of content that helped Kindle re-invent reading – to movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more.

New Latest Generation Kindle-Fits In Your Pocket-Only $79

The new latest generation Kindle is for readers who want the lightest, most compact Kindle at an incredible price. The latest generation Kindle features a new design that is 30 percent lighter at just 5.98 ounces, 18 percent smaller, and turns pages 10 percent faster. Kindle is now small and light enough to fit easily in your pocket and carry with you everywhere, yet it still features the same 6-inch, most advanced electronic ink display that reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.

Kindle is available starting today at

New Addition to the Kindle Family-“Kindle Touch”-Only $99

Kindle Touch is a new addition to the Kindle family with an easy-to-use touch screen that makes it easier than ever to turn pages, search, shop, and take notes – still with all the benefits of the most advanced electronic ink display. Kindle Touch is also lighter, smaller, eliminates battery anxiety with extra-long battery life and holds thousands of books.

Kindle Touch is available to customers in the U.S. for pre-order starting today at and ships November 21.

New Top of the Line Kindle e-reader-“Kindle Touch 3G” -Only $149

Kindle Touch 3G is a new addition to the Kindle family for readers who want the top of the line e-reader. Kindle Touch 3G offers the same new design and features of Kindle Touch – small and light, easy-to-use touch screen, storage for thousands of books, and extra-long battery life – with the unparalleled added convenience of free 3G. Kindle’s free 3G connection means you never have to hunt for or pay for a Wi-Fi hotspot – you simply download and read books anytime, anywhere in over 100 countries around the world. Amazon pays for the 3G connection so there’s no monthly fee or annual contract.

Kindle Touch 3G is available to customers in the U.S. for pre-order starting today at and ships November 21.

All three new Kindle e-readers also come with special offers and sponsored screensavers that appear when you’re not reading. Customers enjoy special money-saving offers delivered wirelessly, including discounts on local services, products, and experiences from AmazonLocal, Amazon’s local deals marketplace. Customers can also choose to purchase a Kindle without special offers and sponsored screensavers.

New Class of Kindle-“Kindle Fire”-Only $199

Kindle Fire is a new addition to the Kindle family that offers instant access to Amazon’s massive selection of digital content, Amazon’s revolutionary cloud-accelerated browser, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync, 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand, brilliant color touchscreen, and a fast and powerful dual core processor -all for only $199.

Kindle Fire puts Amazon’s incredible selection of digital content at your fingertips – enjoy over 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, books, and magazines in vibrant color.

Customers in the U.S. can pre-order Kindle Fire starting today at and it ships November 15.”


Now with the introduction of the Kindle Fire, I am all ears (and eyes) ready to buy this one.

Of course, I still have my love for books, but, since I am a NetFlix subscriber and love watching movies without commercial interruption, and I have an interest in apps that might be of use to me, the Kindle Fire is something I would obtain.

With 18 million movies, TV shows, music, songs, games, magazines and books; apps; Amazon Silk; instant streaming of popular TV shows and movies; a price of $200.00–I might pony up the money for it. Now, if only it could have memory slot, camera and microphone interface, plus dowloading content (photos, YouTube, videos, etc.) from anywhere, and integrated wireless keyboard for writing and blogging—then I would become a purchaser.

Just the same, good to see Amazon evolving their technology in the Kindle series.

Way to go, Amazon!

(Psst—Amazon: the typeface blocks go in backwards for printing the words correctly on the page 🙂

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For The Elder Sister (who stays at home when the rest of the family goes foreign)

Artwork by Laura James, January 21, 2011. (Courtesy of Black Art In America).

In her line of sight are photos of family members who have gone off to make their way in the world. Family members older than her, family members younger than her. Near the door entrance sits an elderly man, possibly waiting for his needs to be attended to.

It is a beautiful clear day.

She stands behind a woman, tending to her hair, all the while thinking…dreaming…musing…pondering…when her time will come to sprout wings, fly, and soar to heights she had never thought imaginable. The responsibility to others will become a responsibility to herself, when one day she will board that plane and attain her heart’s most cherished desires.

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When Claudette refused, the officers grabbed her wrists and jerked her from her seat, sending her textbooks flying. Shouting that she had a constitutional right to sit where she chose, Claudette willed herself not to struggle. Recalled Claudette, years later. “History kept me stuck to my seat. I felt the hand of Harriet Tubman pushing down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth pushing down on the other.”

Before Rosa Parks there was Claudette Colvin.

Born September 5, 1939, Ms. Colvin was on of four Black women ( Aurelia S. Browder, Claudette Colvin, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, and Jeanatta Reese [outside pressure convinced Ms. Reese to withdraw from the case]) who challenged the racist segregation of city buses in Alabama. On March 2, 1955, at the age of 15, while rising on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama she refused to give up her seat to a White passenger citing  “It’s my constitutional right to sit here”. This put her in direct violation of the city’s law on where Black and White passengers could sit on city buses. She was arrested, jailed, convicted and placed on probation. Ms. Colvin was the first Black woman to challenge bus segregation, nine months before Mrs. Rosa Parks, on December 1, 1955,  made her stand by remaining seated. Ms. Colvin’s court case, decided by the United States District Court, ruled racial segregation on city buses unconstitutional.

Because she was a teenager and was an unmarried mother, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) leaders of the bus boycott refused to use Ms. Colvin for their boycott, even though they knew of her case before the SCOTUS, and instead opted to have Mrs. Parks as their representative to challenge passenger segregation on city buses in Birmingham, Alabama.

A young Claudette Colvin

Retiree Claudette Colvin was 15 the day she refused to give up her seat on the bus. “My head was just too full of black history, you know, the oppression that we went through,” she says.

Here is an excerpt from her book Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice:

One [of the policemen] said to the driver in a very angry tone, “Who is it?” The motorman pointed at me. I heard him say, “That’s nothing new . . . I’ve had trouble with that ‘thing’ before.” He called me a “thing.” They came to me and stood over me and one said, “Aren’t you going to get up?” I said, “No, sir.” He shouted “Get up” again. I started crying, but I felt even more defiant. I kept saying over and over, in my high-pitched voice, “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right!” I knew I was talking back to a white policeman, but I had had enough.

One cop grabbed one of my hands and his partner grabbed the other and they pulled me straight up out of my seat. My books went flying everywhere. I went limp as a baby—I was too smart to fight back. They started dragging me backwards off the bus. One of them kicked me. I might have scratched one of them because I had long nails, but I sure di’n’t fight back. I kept screaming over and over” “‘It’s my constitutional right!” I wa’n’t shouting anything profane—I never swore, not then, not ever. I was shouting out my rights.

It just killed me to leave the bus. I hated to give that white woman my seat when so many black people were standing. I was crying hard. The cops put me in the back of a police car and shut the door. They stood outside and talked to each other for a minute, and then one came back and told me to stick my hands out the open window. He handcuffed me and then pulled the door open and jumped in the backseat with me. I put my knees together and crossed my hands over my lap and started praying.

All ride long they swore at me and ridiculed me. They took turns trying to guess my bra size. They called me “nigger bitch” and cracked jokes about parts of my body. I recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm over and over in my head, trying to push back the fear. I assumed they were taking me to juvenile court because I was only fifteen. I was thinking, Now I’m gonna be picking cotton, since that’s how they punished juveniles—they put you in a school out in the country where they made you do field work during the day.

But we were going in the wrong direction. They kept telling me I was going to Atmore, the women’s penitentiary. Instead, we pulled up to the police station and they led me inside. More cops looked up when we came in and started calling me “Thing” and “Whore.” They booked me and took my fingerprints.

Then they put me back in the car and drove me to the city jail—the adult jail. Someone led me straight to a cell without giving me any chance to make a phone call. He opened the door and told me to get inside. He shut it hard behind me and turned the key. The lock fell into place with a heavy sound. It was the worst sound I ever heard. It sounded final. It said I was trapped.

When he went away, I looked around me: three bare walls, a toilet, and a cot. Then I feel down on my knees in the middle of the cell and started crying again. I didn’t know if anyone knew where I was or what had happened to me. I had no idea how long I would be there. I cried and I put my hands together and prayed like I had never prayed before.

On May 11, 1956, Ms. Colvin, along with three other women, testified in a Montgomery federal court about her incident on the bus. The case became known as Browder v. Gayle and was argued before the  U.S. Supreme Court. Attorneys decided not to use Colvin in the lawsuit because they wanted to build a case that challenged the legality of bus segregation. Because of her resisting the infringement on her rights to sit anywhere on the bus, Ms. Colvin had been charged with disorderly conduct. Because Browder v. Gayle challenged the constitutionality of a state statute, the case was brought before a three-judge U.S. District Court panel. On June 5, 1956, the panel ruled two-to-one that segregation on Alabama’s intrastate buses was unconstitutional, citing Brown v. Board of Education as precedent for the verdict. On December 17, 1956, the United States Supreme Court rejected city and state appeals to reconsider their decision, and three days later the order for integrated buses arrived in Montgomery, Alabama on December 20, 1956.

On December 21, 1956, the boycott ended and buses were desgregated.

A segregated bus

When the driver of the segregated bus, like the one shown above, ordered Claudette Colvin to get up, she refused, saying she’d paid her fare and it was her constitutional right. Two police officers handcuffed and arrested her.  (Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts)

After the bus boycott, Ms. Colvin found it difficult to obtain employment because of her arrest, so she moved to New York. She worked for thirty-six years as a CNA at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, retiring in 2004. Ms. Colvin never married. Her first child at the time of the boycott was a son, Raymond, whom she gave birth to in 1955. He died at the age of 37. A second son, an accountant, lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ms. Claudette Colvin is still proud of what she accomplished by standing up for her rights as a citizen and as an activist in the fight for equality and recognition of her humanity and her fellow Black citizens. Her brave actions paved the way for Sister Parks and many others who fought against a repressive and racist regime with their civil disobedience.

I’m not disappointed,” Ms. Colvin said. “Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation”.






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Quick Facts

World Maritime Day is held on the last week of September each year, although the exact date is up to individual governments around the world.

Local names

Name Language
World Maritime Day English
Día Marítimo Mundial Spanish

World Maritime Day 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World Maritime Day 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012
List of dates for other years

The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always on the last week of September.
Maritime Day
World Maritime Day celebrates the benefits of the maritime industry. © Hottner

What do people do?

World Maritime Day focuses on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO’s work. The day also features a special message from the IMO’s secretary-general, which is backed up by a discussion paper on the selected subject in more detail.

World Maritime Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Many maritime organizations and unions hold special events and activities to celebrate this day. These activities and events range from symposiums to luncheons, as well as school lessons that focus on the day. Some classes may organize a trip to a maritime museum so students can understand the significance of the maritime industry in shaping world history and its importance in world trade.

Public life

World Maritime Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


Throughout history, people have understood that international regulations that are followed by many countries worldwide could improve marine safety so many treaties have been adopted since the 19th century. Various countries proposed for a permanent international body to be established to promote maritime safety more effectively but it was not until the UN was established that these hopes were realized. An international conference in Geneva in 1948 adopted a convention formally establishing the IMO, a specialized UN agency that develops and maintains a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping.

The IMO’s original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO. The IMO focuses on areas such as safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. At that time, the organization had 21 member states. It now has about 167 member states and three associate members. This membership includes virtually all the nations of the world with an interest in maritime affairs, including those involved in the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting their maritime environment.

Note: The dates below are a rough guide on when World Maritime Day is observed, based on the most recent previous dates it was observed by the UN. It is also important to note that the exact date is left to individual governments but is usually celebrated during the last week in September.

External links

IMO: World Maritime Day

World Maritime Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Thu Sep 25 1980 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 1981 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 23 1982 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 22 1983 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 27 1984 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 26 1985 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 25 1986 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 1987 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 22 1988 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 28 1989 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 27 1990 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 26 1991 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 1992 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 23 1993 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 22 1994 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 28 1995 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 26 1996 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 25 1997 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 1998 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 23 1999 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 28 2000 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 27 2001 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 26 2002 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 25 2003 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 23 2004 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 22 2005 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 28 2006 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 27 2007 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 25 2008 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 2009 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 23 2010 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 22 2011 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 27 2012 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 26 2013 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 25 2014 World Maritime Day United Nation day  
Thu Sep 24 2015 World Maritime Day United Nation day  


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To this day, I sometimes wonder what has happened to the many Amerasian children born to Vietnamese women and American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Called bui doi (“dust of life”, “living dust”) they were born in a society that prized homogeneity and ties to a father as well as a mother. Some of the children were the result of rape, some were born due to their mothers being forced into a life of prostitution, and some were born of long-term loving relationships. Near the end of the Vietnam war, with the fall of Saigon, many women hurried to locations where children were being airlifted out of Vietnam. Some children made it out. Many did not.

The term bui doi conjures up the image of an uncared-for and abandoned child. Life like dust. Blown in the wind. No home, no family, no roots.

In Vietnam these adult children are called my lai (mixed American/Vietnamese) con lai (mixed-race child), or người lai (mixed-race person).

No longer children (many would be in their 30s, 40s and 50s, with some in their early sixties), these adult children still face a life of discrimination in Vietnam as well as numerous hurdles in claiming U.S. citizenship.

This Vietnamese Amerasian lost contact and financial support from her American father after she received a letter from his wife in the U.S. saying, “Don’t ever try to contact my husband again.” This story was told by photographer Philip Jones Griffiths.

I first became aware of the bu doi when two decades ago I saw a national news program on how life was for the children of American servicemen left behind in Vietnam. In the video, members of some NGO were fitting a little girl with a pair of shoes. She seemed to be about six-years-old, thin, and was wearing a dress.

She was also blind.

Upon putting on the first pair of shoes she had ever had in her little life, she began to dance and laugh with joy.

The scene was heartbreaking to watch.

Years later, that image still is the persistence of memory.

Under the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988, these children were able to obtain entrance into the United States based on appearance alone. Approximately 23,000 bui doi emigrated to America under the AHA.

Life was difficult for the bu doi since their racial ancestry stood out in a nation of Vietnamese who could lay claim to both a father and mother of Vietnamese descent. Blond hair, round, blue eyes; curly hair, dark-brown skin. These children were taunted and harassed by the Vietnamese children and abused by the adults. Life was no picnic for the white-looking bui doi. But, life for the black-looking bu doi was hell. Under a United States special visa for the children, if born between 1950 and 1982 in Kampuchea, Vietnam, Laos, Korea or Thailand, they could obtain entry to the U.S. Many were the victims of scam artist who preyed on bu doi who sought to emigrate to America under the visas. But, now looks alone are not enough to qualify. Proof to obtain a visa includes documents, letters, photos, or DNA testing:

Vietnamese Amerasians face a high level of discrimination from peers and adults. Considered “children of the enemy,” their faces constantly remind those around them of the war that ravaged their country. Sons and daughters of black soldiers face greater discrimination, often times barred from jobs for being “dirty” and “bad for business.”

After American troops left Vietnam, many Vietnamese mothers destroyed letters and pictures from their American partners fearing punishment by communist militias for enemy relationships. Without evidence of their American fathers, children of these women lost the needed proof for their US visa application.

Indeed, the United States made some strides in bringing Amerasians home since the Amerasian visa was created in 1987. Nearly 30,000 children and 80,000 family members have been resettled in America. However, the process has slowed with a mere 23 visas granted in the last year, and hundreds of backlogged claims.

Accounts of human trafficking and corruption within the application process have led to tighter eligibility requirements. Evidence of mixed-race facial features is no longer enough proof, now applicants need documents, letter, photos, or DNA testing. For Amerasians who do not have the time, funding or means to track down their father and prove paternity, obtaining a visa is difficult without the help charity organisations and Amerasian connection websites.

Today, numerous websites assist the now adult population of Amerasians looking for their fathers. Sites like Amerasian Family Finder and FatherFounded allow fathers, children and mothers to post searchable profiles to reunite lost relatives. Amerasian Family Finder allows individuals to search for one another but does not provide any further services. Initial contact, DNA testing, and visa applications are left to the two parties.


The Children They Left Behind

Many bui doi living in Vietnam still have hopes of one day coming to America, to the home of their fathers.

A family born to Vo Van Dang, an Amerasian, poses inside their small home, which is shared by 20 others.

The ties that bind transcend blood.

The ties that bind remain constant, thousands of miles across an ocean between two continents, between two worlds.


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I first encountered the beautiful painting The Elder Sister years ago on a members-appreciation evening visit to an exhibit of artwork at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. The  photo-realist style of the artist, William Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) involved realistic style coupled with mythological themes, creating a modern interpretation of classical subjects. Most notable were his depictions of the feminine body in his paintings.

The Elder Sister (French: La soeur aînée) is a painting by nineteenth century French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau which he painted in 1869. The painting was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas in 1992 as an anonymous gift. According to the museum web site, it was a gift of an anonymous patron in memory of her father. Ever since then, The Elder Sister has been a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where she can be found in the “Arts of Europe” section. She became the most enduring and visited artwork in the museum’s collection of paintings.

In the foreground of the painting, a girl (“the elder sister”) is sitting on a rock and holding a sleeping baby (“the younger brother”) on her lap, with a peaceful rural landscape in the background. For this scene, Bouguereau’s daughter Henriette and son Paul posed as models. The beauty of the girl and her eyes, which are looking directly at the viewer, her composure in caring so lovingly for her little brother, as well the balance of the composition, including positioning of the legs and arms of the children, demonstrate Bouguereau’s academic painting style. The style of academic painting encompasses a scientific approach to the artwork with a blending of chrominance, luminance and realism.

Bouguereau also created another painting called The Elder Sister La Soeur Aînée, Réduction (completed in 1864). It currently is part of the permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

The Elder Sister.

This painting spoke words of tranquility, serenity, composure and elegance.

I saw many depictions of artwork that evening, but, The Elder Sister stayed with me.

The Elder Sister, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1869, 38.27″ x 51.18″, oil on canvas.

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Published: September 24, 2011

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Vesta Williams, a rhythm and blues singer and later an actress who had hits in the 1980s with “Don’t Blow a Good Thing” and “Congratulations,” was found dead on Thursday in a hotel room here. She was 53.

September 24, 2011

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for N.A.A.C.P.

The rhythm and blues singer Vesta Williams last year.

The cause may have been a drug overdose, said Capt. John Kades of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Ms. Williams had hits with “Once Bitten Twice Shy,” “Sweet, Sweet Love” and the torch song “Congratulations,” in which she emotionally bids goodbye to her former lover, who is about to marry someone else, on his wedding day. (“I thought it would have been me/Standin’ here with you.”)

She also appeared in movies and on television. She was a saloon singer in the Mario Van Peebles movie “Posse” in 1993, and she had a recurring role on the television situation comedy “Sister, Sister,” playing the actress Jackee Harry’s best friend, Monica.

Ms. Williams’s initial success in the music industry came as a background singer for Chaka Khan, Anita Baker and Sting, among others. She released her first album, “Vesta,” in 1986.

Standing 5-feet-3, she gained weight in the 1990s, ballooning to a size 26, then went on a dramatic weight loss program, losing 100 pounds and getting down to a size 6.

She told Ebony magazine in 1996 that she began gaining weight rapidly after her singing career started to falter. She blamed her size for the loss of her recording contract.

“When I lost my record deal, and my phone wasn’t ringing, I realized that I had to reassess who Vesta was and figure out what was going wrong,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t my singing ability. So it had to be that I was expendable because I didn’t have the right look.”

She went on to become an advocate for the prevention of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes.

Mary Vesta Williams was born on Dec. 1, 1957, to a disc jockey in Coshocton, Ohio. She is survived by an adult daughter.

Ms. Williams had been scheduled to perform on Oct. 22 at the 21st annual “DIVAS Simply Singing!” concert in Los Angeles, held to promote AIDS and HIV awareness. The show will pay tribute to her and another soul singer, Teena Marie, who died last December.





Published: September 21, 2011

Norma Holloway Johnson, the chief judge of the United States District Court in Washington who oversaw the grand jury investigation into President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, died Sunday at her brother’s home in Lake Charles, La. She was 79.

Patrice Gilbert/Legal Times, via Associated Press

Norma Holloway Johnson


The cause was a stroke, said her brother, Lionel Holloway.

Known for her no-nonsense courtroom manner, Judge Johnson — the first African-American woman appointed to the federal bench in Washington — held ultimate authority over the direction of the 1998 investigation, led by the independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, into President Clinton’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, a White House intern.

Among a series of pivotal decisions, Judge Johnson delivered a setback to the president’s efforts to limit the scope of the investigation, ruling that he could not invoke executive privilege or lawyer-client privilege in trying to block prosecutors from questioning his aides. She also ruled that documents drafted by one of Ms. Lewinsky’s lawyers were not protected by lawyer-client privilege and had to be given to Mr. Starr.

The investigation led to the impeachment of Mr. Clinton by the House of Representatives in December 1998 and his subsequent acquittal on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a 21-day Senate trial.

Judge Johnson, who presided over a number of high-profile cases, could be particularly tough on those who wielded influence. “No sentence is sufficient to atone for your crimes,” she told Joseph Waldholtz, the former husband of Representative Enid Greene, Republican of Utah. Mr. Waldholtz pleaded guilty to tax and election fraud in 1996, and Judge Johnson sentenced him to 37 months in prison.

That same year, when she sentenced Representative Dan Rostenkowski, an Illinois Democrat and longtime chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, to 17 months in prison for mail fraud, she told him: “In your important position, you capriciously pursued a course of personal gain for you, your family and your friends. You have stained them, as well as yourself, and the high position you held.”

Judge Johnson was once reversed in a fraud case after an appeals court cited her “near constant criticism” of a lawyer. The court said she “frequently berated, interrupted and otherwise spoke negatively to” the lawyer. It ordered another judge to retry the case.

But she also showed compassion on the bench. In 1998, a young woman appearing before Judge Johnson on a tax-evasion charge had apparently gotten into financial trouble because of a drug problem.

“Four children!” Judge Johnson said after asking the woman about her family. “It’s really so important that you be of sound mind and not have your mind clouded by any substances you can’t control, so you can take care of them. Even though I’m dismissing your case today, it’s so important that you follow through on your treatment.”

Then, almost whispering, she said, “Those children need you more than they need anything else.”

Normalie Loyce Holloway grew up “dirt poor” in Lake Charles, said her brother, who is her only immediate survivor. Her husband of 46 years, Julius Johnson, a retired administrative law judge for the Department of Labor, died last year.

Born on July 28, 1932, she was the daughter of Henry and Beatrice Williams Holloway. By the time Normalie was in high school, her parents had separated and she was working at the soda fountain at the town’s first black-owned drugstore — for $9 a week — to help support her mother and brother. Still, she told friends, she wanted to be a lawyer.

After high school, at her mother’s suggestion, Ms. Holloway moved to Washington, where she lived with a cousin. She graduated from District of Columbia Teachers College in 1955. While teaching at a junior high school, she studied law at night at Georgetown University, receiving her degree in 1962.

Eight years later, after working as a Justice Department lawyer and then as a corporation counsel for the District of Columbia, she was appointed to the district’s Superior Court by President Richard M. Nixon. President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the federal bench in 1980. She was chief judge from 1997 to 2001.

“Ironically,” The Washington Post reported when Judge Johnson retired in 2004, “when she was a new Justice Department lawyer in 1963, the then-chief judge of the same federal court refused to let her speak in his courtroom, and a white colleague from Justice had to be called to take her place.”





Published: September 19, 2011


Dolores Hope, who gave up her singing career to spend 69 years at the side of her husband, Bob Hope, pursuing philanthropy and projecting with him the image of an enduring Hollywood marriage, died on Monday in the home she and her husband bought in 1940 in the Toluca Lake section of Los Angeles. She was 102.

September 20, 2011


Dolores Hope greets her husband, Bob, as he returns from entertaining troops in 1944.

Associated Press
September 20, 2011

Bob Hope with his wife, Dolores, in 1997.

Her death was announced by her publicist, B. Harlan Boll. She also had a home in Palm Springs, Calif.

After Bob Hope’s death at age 100 in July 2003, Mrs. Hope continued the philanthropic work they had done together, largely through the Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation.

But before she was widowed, she had reclaimed a bit of the spotlight for herself. In 1993, when Mr. Hope, who was six years her senior, had semiretired, she recorded her first album, “Now and Then,” a collection of prewar hits and more recent songs. Over the next decade she made several more albums, including “Somewhere in Time: The Songs and Spirit of WWII” and, with her husband, “Hopes for the Holidays.”

In 1997, a few days short of her 88th birthday, she was a special guest performer at her friend Rosemary Clooney’s engagement at the New York nightclub Rainbow and Stars, singing three numbers, including “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” which she had sung the night she met Hope.

“Her timbre was clear and strong, her intonation pitch-perfect,” Stephen Holden wrote in a review in The New York Times. He described her as “remarkably agile, big-voiced” and her performance as strong and “liltingly swinging.”

Dolores DeFina was born on May 27, 1909, in Harlem, the daughter of John Thomas DeFina and the former Theresa Kelly. She grew up in the Bronx and changed her last name to Reade when she began a career as a nightclub singer.

She was appearing at the Vogue Club in Manhattan under that name in 1933 when the actor George Murphy took Bob Hope to see her. At the time, Murphy and Hope were starring in the Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach musical comedy “Roberta” at the New Amsterdam Theater. She and Mr. Hope were married the following year.

She continued her singing career during the early years of their marriage, often appearing in Mr. Hope’s vaudeville shows, but she largely retired to bring up their four adopted children. Her husband sometimes mentioned her in his monologues, and besides turning up for many of his television specials, Mrs. Hope occasionally appeared as herself in series, including “The Jack Benny Program” in 1958 and the public affairs program “The Christophers,” also in the 1950s.

She sometimes accompanied her husband on his tours entertaining American armed forces overseas. On a Christmas tour during the Vietnam War, she sang “Silent Night” to the troops, bringing many to tears. Mr. Hope promptly sent his wife back to the United States.

“The last thing those guys needed was sentiment,” he was quoted as saying in an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail that appeared shortly after his death. “Dolores became their mother. What they needed was Raquel Welch.”

Years later, when it was suggested that Mr. Hope might have felt some professional jealousy of his wife’s talents on that occasion, he replied in character, telling The San Diego Union-Tribune, “After that, she had the nerve to sit in my spotlight at the breakfast table when we got home.”

Mrs. Hope, a Roman Catholic, received many humanitarian awards for her charitable work, much of it on behalf of Catholic charities benefitting the poor. She was also the founding president of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. In 2008, the Ladies Professional Golf Association honored her, an avid golfer, for contributions to women’s golf.

The Hopes’ son Anthony died in 2004 at age 63. Mrs. Hope is survived by two daughters, Linda Hope, a television producer, of Toluca Lake, and Nora Hope; another son, William, of Oakland, Calif.; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Mrs. Hope described herself to interviewers as grateful for her family life. But her husband was widely known to have a wandering eye through much of his marriage, which spanned seven decades, and Mrs. Hope, well aware of it, responded publicly with aplomb. She told John Lahr in a 1998 profile of Bob Hope in The New Yorker, “It never bothered me, because I thought I was better-looking than anybody else.”




Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

In 1973, the Rev. Jesús Silva, right, and one of his wards met Cardinal Terence Cooke at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.


Published: September 16, 2011


Jesús Silva, a Spanish priest who responded to the problems of poor and neglected children in his native province, Galicia, by founding a self-governing Boys Town, whose children’s circus toured the world to great acclaim in the 1970s, died on Sept. 2 in Ourense, Spain. He was 78.

September 17, 2011

Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

A circus run by Father Silva, which offered a message about the poor children he cared for, performed at St. Patrick’s in 1973.

Spanish newspapers and news agencies reported that he had died of a brain hemorrhage.

Father Silva was still a seminarian in 1956 when he came to the aid of 15 boys who had been orphaned or abandoned and found refuge for them in his mother’s house. Inspired by the 1938 film “Boys Town,” which he had seen as a child, and by a distinctly Marxist interpretation of the Gospels, he established the Ciudad de los Muchachos, or Boys Town, on property outside Ourense purchased for him by his brother, a lawyer.

“Change was the fundamental element of our teaching,” he told the newspaper Diario de Navarra in 2009. “The idea was to change a world that we were dissatisfied with. We said, ‘Another world is possible.’ ”

The self-sufficiency and self-rule of the original Boys Town in Nebraska, which evolved from an orphanage founded by the Rev. Edward J. Flanagan in 1917, provided a model. At the Spanish charity’s property, Benposta, Father Silva built residences and schools to train the boys, as young as 4 and as old as 20, in a trade or profession.

Adults were assigned a supporting role. The children governed the town, electing their own mayor and cabinet, and voting on decisions in a two-house legislature. By the 1970s, about 2,000 children lived in the town. “It’s funny that 22 years before we had democracy in this country, Benposta was holding a mayoral election,” Father Silva said.

The town had its own police force and municipal officials, as well as a bakery, grocery store and printing press. It even had its own currency.

More than 50,000 boys passed through Benposta, which served as a model for similar projects in Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Mozambique and the Dominican Republic.

Because one of Father Silva’s uncles was a circus promoter, he held the unusual post of circus chaplain, ministering to troupes throughout Spain for many years. In 1963 he created the International Circus School at Benposta, which trained El Circo de los Muchachos, billed as “a circus for kids performed by kids.”

After making its inaugural performance in Barcelona in 1966, and touring Spain and Portugal, the circus began touring farther afield in 1970. It scored a hit at the Grand Palais in Paris and, to generate publicity on its American tour in 1973, performed on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

The highlight of every performance was the Harlequin Tower, a human pyramid with a moral message: the stronger supported the weaker, with a small child elevated to the top position. The circus eventually appeared in more than 80 countries.

Jesús César Silva Mendéz was born on Jan. 25, 1933, in Ourense. After graduating from Cardinal Cisneros College in Ourense, where he studied painting and drawing, he earned degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical University, a Jesuit institution in Comillas. He was ordained in 1957.

He is survived by a brother, José Manuel Silva Mendéz, of Ourense.

The Spanish Boys Town, also known as Boys Nation since the 1960s, came into conflict with Galicia’s regional government, which wanted to build a football stadium on its property. It closed in 2003.


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