Category: Disaster

Andrew Lam

Social Media's Reaction to Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

By Andrew Lam, Dec 14, 2012 4:55 PM

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 I've been a writer and commentator for twenty years and have published from NY Times to Mother Jones to LA Magazine, but words failed me when I heard news of the horrific massacre that took place this morning in Newtown, Connecticut, leaving 28 people dead, 20 of them children.

The conversation on social media has been mostly about guns and gun control. So I am reposting what friends are posting on facebook...  


"Too many innocent people have died over the "right to keep and bear arms". The language of the second amendment states, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". Ok, so this right was intended for an individual or militia to aid the military in case of defense. I haven't seen one news story about this right being used in such a manner. Seems like one reason we preserve this right is because irrational fear by gun owners. Well, if the gun owner has such irrational fear, then we can also argue some mental instability and cognitive dissonance, which should disqualify them from ownership in the first place. Then we have those who preserve this right because it is an “American Tradition”. So what if it’s an American Tradition. Slavery, indentured servants, and women’s suffrage were all American Traditions that were abolished for clearly being against the greater good. It's time for a constitutional upgrade.."


"I think a moderate gun-owner's organization could poach membership from the NRA, and also pick up people who own guns but aren't NRA members. It might well lobby against cities' attempts to ban handguns, as clear violations of the 2nd amendment. It would NOT lobby against restrictions on assault rifles, or any other astonishingly sensible gun control measure."

"If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens blaring. Don’t have photographs of the killer. Don’t make this 24-7 coverage. Do everything you can to not make the body-count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero. DO localize the story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week."

"There have been a ridiculous number of random public shootings this year-3 or 4 times the usual number. If I were a paranoid conspiracy theorist i would think that the government was staging these to take away guns from private citizens. Seriously, there has been a shooting every 15-30 days. Why so many more than in previous years?"

‎"If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

"Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late."

‎"Guns don't attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again -- and again and again."

"More than mental health issues, more than a culture of violence, it's the type of weapon used that is the difference between life and death. Guns are extremely lethal, meant for killing. They should be under extreme regulation..."


"I'm seeing FB friends posting their shock at how this is possible in America -- that we're a better people, a better country than this.

I understand this reaction, but I think we also have to get real: As much as we want to think of the U.S. as exceptional -- and yes, there are many ways in which we are -- there are things about this nation, this nation we love and love to celebrate, that are horribly and INCOMPREHENSIBLY backwards.

One of them is our fucking obsession with guns, and the vast, vile lobbying industry that has sprung up around it. These are America, at our least beautiful. When will we simply say...enough?"

"I am saddened again by the american two gun society. i can hear the NRA already...its not guns that kill children, its children who kill children...or if all the teachers and students had freer access to guns, they would have nailed the shooter before he killed so many...i mourn these children and all the children who are falling though the cracks of our very violent two gun society, and endlessly warring world.."

"Twenty-two children injured [in China by a knife wielding assailant]. Versus, at current count, 18 little children and nine other people shot dead. That's the difference between a knife and a gun.

Guns don't attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again -- and again and again. You can look it up...

...For parents, siblings, and families whose lives have been forever changed (or ended), deepest sympathies. For us as a nation .... I don't know what to say."

Zoe Johnson

U.S. Government Not Doing Enough to Curb Climate Change

By Zoe Johnson, May 11, 2012 10:53 AM

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Last Spring, four young people – they are being represented legally by the law firm of Paul McClosky, a co-founder of Earth Day -- brought a lawsuit, Alec L. et. al vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al, against the U.S. Government charging them with not doing enough to curb climate change. On Friday, May 11, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins will hear arguments from the defendants – they include the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, Interior and Agriculture – who have filed a motion that the case be dismissed. If it is not, the litigation will be tried in a federal court.

The author, Zoe Johnson, is an 11th grader at The Urban School of San Francisco. She is a member of the iMatter movement and a Plaintiff in Alec v. Jackson, which advocates have dubbed the “Atmospheric Trust Litigation.”


Every day, I go to school, complain about homework, and think about my own future. But I also think about the future of our planet, and our environment. I don’t think that I should have to worry about whether our planet will still be inhabitable for my grandchildren, and their children when they are born, but I do. My generation, and every generation after us will have to live with the effects of climate change and, if the government does not regulate greenhouse gas emissions, things are only going to get worse. I refuse to sit back and watch it happen.

The public trust doctrine stipulates that the government cannot waste or destroy natural resources such as air and water. However, by not doing a better job of protecting these resources, that is exactly what our elected officials are doing.

The government needs to put a climate recovery plan in place as soon as possible, and at this point, the most direct and most efficient way to encourage that is through the federal courts -- which is why I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit with several other kids from across the country who believe the government must do more to protect the future of our planet.

On May 11th, 2012 the US District Court in Washington DC will hear all the reasons why the government and industry interests believe our lawsuit should be dismissed. If the judge rules in our favor, we will be able to make our case before the court that the federal government must put a nation-wide climate recovery plan in place. According to environmental scientist Dr. James Hansen, if we reduce emissions by a mere 6 percent every year, we can restore balance in the atmosphere.

Our future is at stake and the government has a legal obligation to protect the atmosphere and they are not doing enough. According to a March 2012 report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, the majority (72 percent) of Americans, across party lines, say that global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress, and an even greater majority (92 percent) think that development of clean energy technologies should be on the government's list of priorities.

Please join me in telling our government that you are one of the majority of Americans who believe in protecting our environment now. Please support our lawsuit and tell the President and Congress to talk to the kids of the iMatter movement and to put a national climate recovery plan in place. We need the U.S. government to take action now, and act as if our future matters.



To send a letter to the President go to: www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Andrew Lam

Lessons of Anime--How to Cope with Japan's Tragedy

By Andrew Lam, Mar 11, 2012 11:13 AM

It's been a year since the tsunami and earthquake created havoc and destroyed part of the Japanese coast and set the nuclear reactor in Fukushima to burn uncontrollably. This piece, written last year, is reposted here as it remains relevant.

Andrew Lam

--

In Japan’s most popular cultural genres known as manga (comic books) and anime (animation films and series), there’s a recurrent theme in which the country is routinely devastated. 
 
Tokyo, home to more than 30 million people, is destroyed so often in the Japanese collective imagination there’s an alternative version of the ultramodern mega-metropolis: one made of shattered concrete and glass debris.
 
Take the popular animated film Akira, for example. “Tokyo is destroyed by an apparent nuclear explosion, leading to the start of World War III.” So goes Wikipedia’s note on the world-famous manga series turned anime. 
 
Wikipedia goes on, “Thirty-one years after Tokyo's destruction, Neo-Tokyo, a new metropolis built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, is gripped by political strife, anti-government terrorism and gang violence.”
 
Or take Desert Punk: “After a global nuclear catastrophe Japan has been reduced to a desert and the surviving humans seek out a meager living in the hot sands,” goes the description of the anime series.
 
“A devastating war fought between two major nations with ultra-magnetic weapons far greater than anything seen earlier brings about total chaos and destruction throughout the world, resulting in several earthquakes and tidal waves,” begins the plot description of the anime Future Boy Conan, in which humanity is on the brink of extinction. 
 
The examples are endless, but you see the point: Nihilistic themes dominate Japanese narratives of itself. 
 
Now try this scenario: Japan has fallen apart. Its towns and villages devastated by such a massive earthquake that the earth’s axis itself is affected and by the subsequent tsunami, its nuclear reactors exposed, sending radiation into the atmosphere. Millions live without water and electricity. Millions more live in panic and fear as the tremors continue and radiation leaks into food and water and land. 
 
Japan is facing a crisis it hasn’t seen since World War II.
 
This, alas, is no scenario at all, but a reality. So, what purposes do these apocalyptic stories serve? And how does one watch these animes, now that their visions have become prophetically superimposed on the real world?
 
I write this as someone who was born into a world devastated by war. As a South Vietnamese soldier’s son – an army brat -- I witnessed much destruction and suffering at a very young age. I saw dead bodies strewn about in rice fields, burned out villages, maimed survivors, homeless refugees trudging along highways, and many begging on the streets of Saigon. 
 
As a teenager in America, I was enthralled by Bugs Bunny and Disney movies showing children laughing. In this world, evil is always conquered. The princess marries the prince, and everyone is guaranteed a happy ending. That is, I bought into the American optimism, bought my own ticket on the little train that could.
 
Now, however, as an adult, as a seasoned journalist who has witnessed tragedy after tragedy around the world, I find myself drawn back to the Far East, and increasingly drawn to Japanese manga and anime. I watch them religiously in middle age.
 
Why? Because many of these stories, albeit far more complex and enticing, are similar to the folktales my Vietnamese grandmother told. On those frightful nights when the bombs fell in villages and their reverberations shook the city, Grandma’s ancient stories with their ambiguous if flat-out unhappy endings were strangely soothing.
 
The princess died and her heart turns into a ruby, which was then carved into a teacup. The fisherman, her true love, came back and cried and his tear fell in the cup, which melted into blood.
 
Or she’d tell of a younger brother, who gave up his love for a beautiful woman so that his older one could marry her. The younger man went to the forest and died, turning into a betel tree. Then the older brother searched for him, died and turned into a limestone. The wife followed, and sat leaning on the tree, when she turned into a vine. When chewing betel nut together with the vine leaf and limestone, your spit will turn into the color of blood.
 
A few years ago in Japan, I interviewed professor Koike Kazuo, the celebrated author of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series. It is the story of a samurai who walked the path of death while pushing a small cart in which sat his little boy. Their entire clan had been massacred. 
 
The boy watches undaunted as his father stabs and slices their enemies. In the final episode, the boy’s father is killed by their ultimate nemesis, an old man who has masterminded their clan’s destruction. Undaunted, the little boy picks up his father’s spear and rushes to drive it through the old man, who, recognizing the boy’s samurai spirit, embraced him in death, calling him “Grandson of my heart.”
 
I asked Kazuo sensei why such a tragic ending would be considered children’s entertainment. He thought about this for a while before answering, “On the deepest level, serious mangas are about spiritual drama and love.”
 
This struck a chord in me. Despite the age of high-tech wizardry, manga/anime continue to distill an ancient ethos of the Far East; a shared cultural matrix between Japan and East Asia, in which fatalism informs the floating world. It teaches that life is precious, and spending time serving the greater good may be the only control one has in the face of unpredictable calamity and uncontrollable and often violent cosmos. 
 
When one lives life for the sake of others by protecting what one considers precious, then one will achieve his human/spiritual truth regardless of the outcome. 
 
Indeed, if American fairy tales are in the business of protecting children from the reality of a cold and belligerent world, Japanese fairy tales told through certain genre of mangas and animes are doing quite the opposite: preparing their charges for the day in which their normal and seemingly sunny life may be abruptly thrown into complete chaos and destruction. Thus, hidden behind those round eyed and perfect-faced cartoon characters are stories of human sufferings and survival rivaling the tragedy of Job.
 
No wonder these Japanese genres are rivaling the church of Disney, and anime continues to enthrall children and young adults across the globe. It is in part because they don’t belittle their viewers but treat them as adults to be.
 
Now, as I watch in horror the story of Japan in the aftermath of the huge earthquake and devastating tsunami, I see their points more clearly. My grandmother’s old fairy tales, with their countless wars and natural disasters, evolved over the millennia and merge with anime as warning, as an admonitory mythos, and as a way to prepare the next generation for cataclysm and grief.
 
Here’s another inspirational and true story with anime sensibility. The story, which has been widely distributed on the Internet and global media, is told by an immigrant in Fukushima, where the nuclear reactors continue to send radiation out of their broken roofs and walls.
 
A nine-year-old boy watched as the tsunami swept away his father from the balcony of his school. His sister and mother, too, were presumably swept away with their house near the beach. Yet, despite such losses, when given a bag of food, he went to the front of the food line and gave it back to the food distributors. He told the astonished man who gave him the food to nourish himself, “I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.” 
 
The adult who told this story wept, “Who knew a boy in the third grade could teach me a lesson on how to be a human being at a time of such great suffering?” The boy, having no superpower, having lost his family, nevertheless becomes a kind of anime hero, someone who sacrifices for the greater good and achieves human truth.
 
A year after the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were destroyed by terrorist attacks, I visited Ground Zero. There were many visitors and gawkers about, and next to me were a few teenagers with their charming Midwest accents, snapping photos. As they surveyed the terrible destruction before them – shattered concrete and melted steel of what was once an ivory citadel -- one of them said, with reverence in his voice, “Man, this is, like, right out of Akira!” 
 
I watch anime nightly along with news of Japan’s unfolding devastation, and the story lines ring truer now. In this post 9/11 world, where war drones fly and preemptive strikes and revolutions are the norm, where ominous storms keep gathering and growing stronger -- if not at our shores then in our collective unconsciousness – and where the earth keeps trembling, it may very well be that those apocalyptic narratives are the very medicine that could assist us all. Adults and children alike, in Japan and elsewhere, now bear witness to the churning tides.
 

New America Media editor Andrew Lam is the author of East Eats West (Heyday Books, 2011), his new collection of 21 essays. His previous book, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora won a Pen American award in 2006. 
 
Listen to his radio commentary here.

Andrew Lam

Letter From Fukushima: A Vietnamese-Japanese Policeman's Accounty

By Andrew Lam, Mar 10, 2012 11:38 PM

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, i am reposting this piece, translated a year ago... I wonder how that little boy is doing?

Andrew Lam 


Editor’s note: This letter, written by a Vietnamese immigrant working in Fukishima as a policeman to a friend in Vietnam, has been circulating on Facebook among the Vietnamese diaspora. It is an extraordinary testimony to the strength and dignity of the Japanese spirit, and an interesting slice of life near the epicenter of Japan’s current crisis, the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was translated by NAM editor, Andrew Lam.

Brother,

How are you and your family? These last few days, everything was in chaos. When I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. When I open my eyes, I also see dead bodies. Each one of us must work 20 hours a day, yet I wish there were 48 hours in the day, so that we could continue helping and rescuing folks.

We are without water and electricity, and food rations are near zero. We barely manage to move refugees before there are new orders to move them elsewhere.

I am currently in Fukushima, about 25 kilometers away from the nuclear power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could write it all down, it would surely turn into a novel about human relationships and behaviors during times of crisis.

The other day I ran into a Vietnamese-American. His name is Toan. He is an engineer working at the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant, and he was wounded right at the beginning, when the earthquake struck. With the chaos that ensued, no one helped him communicate with his family. When I ran into him I contacted the US embassy, and I have to admit that I admire the Americans’ swift action: They sent a helicopter immediately to the hospital and took him to their military base.

But the foreign students from Vietnam are not so lucky. I still haven't received news of them. If there were exact names and addresses of where they work and so on, it would be easier to discover their fate. In Japan, the police do not keep accurate residential information the way they do in Vietnam, and privacy law here makes it even more difficult to find.

I met a Japanese woman who was working with seven Vietnamese women, all here as foreign students. Their work place is only 3 kilometers from the ocean and she said that they don’t really understand Japanese. When she fled, the students followed her, but when she checked back they were gone. Now she doesn't know if they managed to survive. She remembers one woman’s name: Nguyen thi Huyen (or Hien).

No representatives from the Vietnamese embassy have shown up, even though on the Vietnamese Internet news sites they claim to be very concerned about Vietnamese citizens in Japan - all of it a lie.

Even us policemen are going hungry and thirsty, so can you imagine what those Vietnamese foreign students are going through? The worst things here right now are the cold, the hunger and thirst, the lack of water and electricity.

People here remain calm - their sense of dignity and proper behavior are very good - so things aren’t as bad as they could be. But given another week, I can’t guarantee that things won't get to a point where we can no longer provide proper protection and order. They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override dignity, well, they will do whatever they have to do. The government is trying to provide air supply, bringing in food and medicine, but it’s like dropping a little salt into the ocean.

Brother, there are so many stories I want to tell you - so many, that I don’t know how to write them all. But there was a really moving incident. It involves a little Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being:

Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn’t be any food left. So I spoke to him.

He said he was in the middle of PE at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father’s car away. I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably didn’t make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.

The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That’s when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. “When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here’s my portion. I already ate. Why don’t you eat it.”

The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed. I was shocked. I asked him why he didn’t eat it and instead added it to the food pile …

He answered: “Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.”

When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry. It was so moving -- a powerful lesson on sacrifice and giving. Who knew a 9-year-old in third grade could teach me a lesson on how to be a human being at a time of such great suffering? A society that can produce a 9- year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people.

It reminds me of a phrase that I once learned in school, a capitalist theory from the old man, Fuwa [Tetsuzo], chairman of the Japanese Communist Party: “If Marx comes back to life, he will have to add a phrase to his book, Capital, and that ‘Communist ideology is only successful in Japan.’”

Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours of my shift have begun again.

- Ha Minh Thanh



Andrew Lam is author of East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres and Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora.


Andrew Lam

Documentary Commemorates 66th Anniversary of Atomic Bombings

By Andrew Lam, Aug 5, 2011 11:33 PM

San Francisco - On August 6 and 9 of 1945, the U.S. government dropped an atomic bomb each on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and 210,000 Japanese were immediately killed and many more thousands suffered and died from radiation fallout. One man, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, was unlucky enough to have been
in both cities during the bombing and lucky enough to survive both. To commemorate the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings, New People, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, is hosting a special screening of the 2006 film “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived,” a documentary based on Yamaguchi himself.

According to Rafu Shimpo, Yamaguchi decided to participate in the documentary at age 90 in hopes
that it would help the movement to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide. Although there are other twice-bombed victims who survived and are featured in the documentary, Yamaguchi was the only person officially recognized by the Japanese government to have survived both explosions. Yamaguchi passed away last year at age 93 after being hospitalized for stomach cancer.

Located at 1746 Post St. in San Francisco, New People will screen the documentary Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Part of the proceeds will go to Friends of Hibakusha, a San Francisco organization dedicated to
supporting Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors in the United States.

Andrew Lam is author of "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora" and "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres."

Andrew Lam

Japanese-American Organization in SF Raises More Than $2.6 Million for Japan

By Andrew Lam, Jun 7, 2011 11:23 AM

 
Long after the world’s news media moved on, victims of the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear reactors’ explosions that rocked northern Japan on March 11 remain on the forefront of Japanese-American communities’ concerns. Fundraising for ongoing relief efforts continue and one San Francisco organization--the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California--has raised more than $2.6 million to date, reports Rafu Shimpo.


“On April 18, the JCCCNC sent two volunteers to meet with the organizations that have received funds from the JCCCNC and other non-governmental and service organizations to determine the changing
needs and gaps in services,” the paper reported. They visited the Tohoku region and discussed strategies to address needs for mental health and post-traumatic stress counseling.

So far JCCCNC has given $1.75 million to various organizations, primarily YMCAs that work “to provide services and relief for the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and threat of nuclear radiation,”
reports Rafu Shimpo.

You can support the people of Japan by making a donation at www.jcccnc.org.


Andrew Lam is the author of
East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres.

Andrew Lam

Japanese Scholar to Bay Area: Please Don't Forget About Us

By Andrew Lam, Apr 11, 2011 9:32 PM

  
With many Japanese afraid to travel to cities they believe to be “contaminated” with nuclear fallout, one Japanese scholar is reaching out to the San Francisco Bay Area with a plea: Please don’t forget about the people of Fukushima.

Takashi Oda, who from 2005 to 2008 was an advisor for community affairs to the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and then became a Fulbright scholar at UC Berkeley studying the Japanese-American community in the Bay Area, is calling on his “San Francisco Bay Area Family and Friends” to continue to reach out to the people of Fukushima.

He writes in an op-ed for San Francisco-based newspaper Nichi Bei Weekly that his hometown of Iwaki -- a city of more than 340,000 residents, located less than 25 miles from the nuclear plant -- is now being shunned by the rest of Japan.

“While I am very grateful that my family is safe, my family’s home was severely damaged. But more important than the physical damage is the damage done to us by people who shun us, fearing that all of Iwaki is ‘contaminated’ because of the radioactive leakage. It has gotten to a point where some residents were forced to leave the town because food or water is no longer transported, due to a fear of it being infected.”

Oda writes that his uncle, whom he describes as “a very proud and strong man,” told him, “‘We have been totally left to live in isolation.’”

“People who lost their homes, family and their whole life history now face another challenge of being treated as someone from the ‘polluted area,’” Oda notes, due to their proximity to the radiation.

With his hometown effectively a city under siege, Oda writes that the role the San Francisco Bay Area can play has become even more crucial.

“So friends, I have a favor,” Oda writes. “Please do not forget about us even after the news have stopped covering our lives and have moved on to other things. We need you to remember that our communities will require time, support and love to restart. While some Fukushima products are temporarily restricted, there are many other products that are very safe to purchase and consume. Please reach out to buy Fukushima’s safe products and welcome Fukushima people into your lives
to let them know you care. You have and continue to do that for me, and now, more than ever, I know what real friends are, no matter where they are located.”

Andrew Lam is author of East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres

Parvez Sharma

Egypt Burns--But Not Because of Facebook

By Parvez Sharma, Jan 28, 2011 4:30 PM

Cairo is burning. So is Egypt. Twitter is exploding. Everyone seems to have an opinion—many who have never even been to Egypt but feel a strong sense of solidarity with the most remarkable revolution in a
generation, perhaps. A revolution which importantly is not really caused by Twitter or by Facebook—as much as the self-congratulatory social networking types in the West would like to believe.

Andrew Lam

Bay Area Vietnamese Lawyers to Help Gulf Coast Fishermen

By Andrew Lam, Jul 19, 2010 10:30 AM

Vietnamese fishermen on the Gulf Coast reeling from the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are going to get a helping hand from a San Jose-based group of Vietnamese-American lawyers. The Vietnamese newspaper Calitoday reported that many fishermen living off $100 food vouchers are now so desperate that they are collecting cans and selling eggs to survive. A few have even tried to commit suicide.

The Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California (VABANC) has mobilized attorneys to go to the Gulf Coast to open a legal aid clinic. Their goal is to help the Vietnamese community there understand how to access the BP claims policy. Louisiana’s Vietnamese-American Congressman Anh Cao is co-hosting the clinic along with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

VABANC is asking the Bay Area community to donate and volunteer to help

Kevin Weston

It Ain't My Fault -- Hip Hop vs BP

By Kevin Weston, Jun 18, 2010 11:37 AM

The CEO of BP must be a Hip Hop fan. Continue reading »

Leticia Miranda

Report: Katrina Evacuees Didn't Increase Crime

By Leticia Miranda, Feb 22, 2010 8:46 AM

(From Mira Leti)

Just after Katrina hit, police deparments in neighboring “host” cities — San Antonio, Phoenix and Houston — accused survivors of bringing crime into their communities.

However, a recent study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice showed that in Phoenix and Houston there was only a modest increase in murders with San Antonio showing no increase. None of the cities saw a hike in auto theft or assaults, which would be more likely crimes done by those who lost everything in the hurricane.

Sean P. Varano, lead author of the study and assistant professor in criminal justice at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, said to the Houston Chronicle:

“Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix … all had pre-existing crime problems they have been struggling with for generations to correct. To say they created a tremendous spike in the crime problem appears to be an overstatement. To say a group came in to a place like Houston and created a crime problem seems to be passing the buck,” Varano said.


Dolores M. Bernal

Napolitano Orders Stop of Haitian Deportations Due To Earthquake

By Dolores M. Bernal, Jan 14, 2010 3:06 PM

Editor's note: This post originally appared on NEWS JUNKIE POST.  Dolores M. Bernal is a print and radio journalist who has covered politics from Washington, DC, natural disasters, and immigration for Free Speech Radio News and Radio Bilingue. She's Co-Editor-in-Chief of NEWS JUNKIE POST.

The Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that deportations of people from Haiti are being halted due to the destruction from a 7.0 earthquake that hit the country on Tuesday. The damage hasn’t been assessed but reports that the infrastructure of the country has been devastated make it clear that Haiti is no place to visit at this time.

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