September 2009 Archives

Edwin Okong'o

America: No Country for Old African Men

By Edwin Okong'o, Sep 29, 2009 5:22 PM

A tribute to Tanzanian-born journalist Swallehe Msuya.

On Sept. 23, a health care worker found Tanzanian-born journalist Swallehe Msuya dead in his Minneapolis apartment. Swallehe had failed to show up for a kidney dialysis appointment scheduled the day before. He was 61.

I first met Swallehe when I moved to Minneapolis in July 2007 to be the editor in chief of Mshale, a newspaper for African immigrants.

Sandip Roy

Holy Cow! It's Twittergate in India

By Sandip Roy, Sep 28, 2009 3:36 PM

India is in the middle of Twittergate.

Shashi Tharoor, the high-flying minster of state for external affairs in India, was almost felled by Twitter.

A Twitter fan asked Tharoor if, in light of the government’s austerity drive, he was now going to fly “cattle class” instead of business

“Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows,” Tharoor tweeted back.

It was funny.  But not in a country of holy cows.  

Marcelo Ballvé

Locals Parse Death of Kentucky Census Worker

By Marcelo Ballvé, Sep 28, 2009 2:12 PM

Kentucky bloggers are still trying to make sense of the death of Bill Sparkman, the 51-year-old Census worker found dead in rural Kentucky, hanging from a tree with the word “fed” scrawled on his chest.

Investigators are still trying to determine how and why Sparkman was killed, and if the motives had anything to do with anti-government sentiment. In any case, the Census Bureau has suspended activity in Clay County, where Sparkman’s body was found.

Online, locals discussed possible motives for the crime—in part to fend off stereotypes of Appalachia already informing coverage of the killing.


Marcelo Ballvé

A Census Martyr in Kentucky?

By Marcelo Ballvé, Sep 28, 2009 10:19 AM

It’s beginning to look like Bill Sparkman’s a martyr of the 2010 Census effort.

The website Talking Points Memo confirmed that the 2010 Census worker and teacher found dead in eastern Kentucky had the word “fed” scrawled on his chest. The local coroner says it looks like the word was written in felt tip marker.

What’s certain is that in our politically polarized moment, the Census count is no longer simply a routine exercise in democracy. It’s now part of the larger debate about government’s role in American life. Whatever the real circumstances behind Sparkman’s death, it’s generating a wide-ranging conversation about anti-government sentiment.


Laura Goode

Day of Dissent: UC Rises Up

By Laura Goode, Sep 25, 2009 11:54 AM

Editor's note: EthnoBlogmistress Laura Goode hit Telegraph Ave. on Thursday to cover what students are saying about the University of California-wide walk-outs, which were organized to protest, among other things, rising student fees and slashed employee salaries.

It’s a New Depression double whammy on the University of California system: 4-10% pay reductions for UC employees, and a 9.3% increase on UC student fees. It should be noted that “fee” is the public-university jargon for “tuition,” because according to the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, UC schools are supposed to be free for California residents. Moreover, the UC Regents are mumbling about raising the fees another 32% next year to help narrow the California budget gap. Much of the deficit, some argue, is a result of Proposition 13 of 1978, which limited California property taxes to 1% and in doing so, reduced funding for public education. Many UC students, faculty and employees are fed up, and staged a walk-out from class and subsequent demonstration on Thursday, Sept. 24.

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