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Posts tagged ‘action’

Voodoo, Sex & Murder

517ndEmmrJL._SY346_Inside Sam Lerner by Gwen Banta.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Gwen Banta has it nailed to the floor. Inside Sam Lerner is a delightful, and descriptive, murder-mystery that doesn’t pull any punches. Combine the best of Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler, stir them up in some gumbo, and you’ve got a first-class tale that keeps you rooting for the ex LA cop (Sam), and his close friends in New Orleans. Before Sam knows whats hit him, he’s embroiled in looking for Madsen, who has gone missing.

The place, people, atmosphere, and actions, of all those involved in this story, jump off the pages and linger inside your head. Here’s a glimpse of the writer’s  style. “When he arrived at the corner of St. Claude and Ursulines, Sam parked on the street and stared at a stately guest house known as Maire’s Gentlemen’s Club. A soft pink glow backlit the windows, and the sound of Fats Waller clung to the thick air like the smell of sex.”

Sam’s old flame (Maire), who is the madam at Maire’s Gentlemen’s Club, has reignited the fire she and Sam had in their younger days, letting him momentarily forget the loss of his wife, who died in Los Angeles. There are a few people that Sam trusts without hesitation – his Mami (Jem), his best friend’s father (Antoine), and old buddy, a New Orleans cop (Leon Duval). There’s also the sadistic killer, who is known early on.

To find out who is who, and who comes through, get yourself a copy of Inside Sam Lerner, and treat yourself to a nail-biting finish. In the process, enjoy some fine dining on The Big Easy’s hot, wet environment, sexual appetites, and underlying beliefs in voodoo. Just when you think you know what’s what, and which way is up, you get taken for a ride. Trust me, and trust Ms. Banta, this story smolders.

 

Stop Meriam’s Execution

A judge in Sudan just sentenced 27-year-old Meriam to 100 lashes and death by hanging for violating her faith and marrying a Christian man.

We must act immediately to save Meriam from this horrific death. Click here to sign the petition asking the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene and put pressure on Sudan to stop Meriam’s execution.

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Meriam is 8 months pregnant and has a 20 month-old child. The courts are convicting her of violating her Muslim faith and adultery because her marriage to a Christian man is void under Sharia law. But Meriam says she was raised by her mother as a Christian her whole life.

Adultery and violation of faith should not be considered crimes at all, let alone acts worthy of the death penalty. Human rights groups are calling this a breach of international human rights law.

If enough of us raise our voices in protest against this horrific sentencing, the government of Sudan will be forced to protect Meriam from execution. Please sign the petition to join the campaign to protect Meriam.

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Thank you for taking action,

Jen
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

On the Ground In Syria

On the Ground In Syria

For two and a half years, courageous Amnesty researchers — like Donatella Rovera — have been on the ground in Syria and neighboring countries investigating and reporting war crimes and other violations against Syrian families. What she and her team have documented there is horrific.

A mother’s three sons dragged outside, shot dead, and then set on fire for her to watch. Cluster bombs tearing into small children playing in an alley. Militias opening fire on peaceful demonstrators.

Now our research teams — backed up by the innovative use of satellite imagery — are gathering information of a heinous attack, apparently using chemical weapons, that killed scores of people, including children.

Now that the international community’s attention is focused on Syria, we must ensure that no more civilian lives are lost and that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

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Your donation to Amnesty helps us deploy researchers to document abuses and demand justice for the forgotten and the suffering. Support this work by making a monthly donation to Amnesty International today. For a short time, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.

During recent investigations in Syria, Donatella met 20-year-old Noura in a field hospital, a temporary clinic created in secret to protect victims and medical staff from retaliatory arrest and torture.

Noura was injured in a cluster bomb attack. Cluster bombs inflict massive damage by detonating in mid-air and releasing hundreds of “bomblets.”

Donatella, as well as all of us from Amnesty, is committed to telling the world their story, and demanding action from the international community.

When you become a member of Amnesty, your donation helps put expert researchers — like Donatella — on the ground in places like Syria, where the world’s attention is desperately needed.

The human rights crimes in Syria have been called a “moral obscenity” that should “shock the conscience of the world.”

As human rights defenders, you and I share an urgent responsibility to help bring those responsible to justice. We must mobilize to stop further atrocities against the Syrian people.

Please, don’t delay. Support our human rights investigators. Donate now.

Sincerely,
Frank Jannuzi
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Help End Hunger

Dear Gabriel,

Imagine the heartbreak of parents who know their child might be the next to die. In many areas of the world, parents do not even name their babies because their likelihood of surviving infancy is so low.

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We can create a world where NO child dies of hunger.

Despite major progress in stopping the spread of killer diseases, hunger is still the root cause of millions of childhood deaths. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and globalized, hunger will reach unprecedented levels. The good news is that hunger is preventable and we have access to the solution. The quest to end hunger simply requires arming people with a sustainable source of food and income.

So let’s commit to making a difference for these children and their parents. It will only take you 5 seconds to sign the petition but you can save a child’s life.

Sharanya_newsletterThank you for taking action,

Sharanya P.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Uganda Bill to “Kill the Gays”

Gabriel –

The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people. The bill would legalize the death penalty for LGBT people and people with HIV or AIDS.

Uganda experts say that one way to stop this bill is to get pressure from banks that have significant resources invested in the country, such as Citibank and Barclays.

Citibank and Barclays together have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Uganda and wield significant influence in the country, just as banking lobbyists wield influence with Congress in the US. Citibank and Barclays speaking out against the “Kill the Gays” bill might be the best — and only — chance to stop it.

Collin Burton is a Citibank customer who is also gay. Collin started a petition on Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays to speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill. Click here to sign Collin’s petition right now.

Citibank and Barclays are both big supporters of LGBT rights for their own employees, yet they invest money with a government that is threatening to execute LGBT people. “I expect Citibank and Barclays to live up to the values of equality and fairness, not just list them on their websites,” Collin says.

If Citibank and Barclays speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill, Ugandan legislators will see that they are risking the business relationships that keep their government afloat.

Click here to sign Collin’s petition asking Citibank and Barclays to issue strong statements condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill could come up for a vote any day, so swift action is essential.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Mark Anthony and the Change.org team

One Plate At A Time

Dear Gabriel,

This fall, sit down for a life-changing meal.

For almost 40 years, Oxfam America Hunger Banquet® events have been changing the way people think about global hunger, one plate at a time. Around the country, these events have inspired hundreds of thousands of people to take action in the fight against hunger and poverty.

And this year, it’s your turn. Gather your friends, family, co-workers, book groups, church groups – everyone you know – and host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet to inspire your community.

We’ll provide the materials. You provide the commitment. Our world provides the challenge.

Serve up a memorable meal and inspire change – host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet.

The harvest season is our season of action – together, we’re tackling hunger and poverty in a variety of ways. And this fall, with 925 million people worldwide suffering from chronic hunger and food prices rising higher each day, your actions are more important than ever.

When you attend an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, your understanding of hunger and poverty will go beyond numbers to create a truly life-changing experience. If you’ve never been to one, here’s how it works: your guests are randomly assigned to play different people at different income levels, and each receives a corresponding meal. People at your event get a taste of what it’s like to be well-fed, hungry or somewhere in between – some will get a filling dinner, while others eat a simple meal or share sparse portions of rice and water.

You and your friends and family will gain unique insight into what it feels like to struggle against a cycle of poverty and how sustainable solutions can help a village feed itself for years to come. While not everyone will leave with a full stomach, your guests will come away with a greater understanding of hunger, poverty and our broken food system – and with the tools and knowledge to make a difference.

Host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event this fall – you’ll be inspiring your community to change the global food system once and for all.

Organizers and guests alike call Oxfam America Hunger Banquets a “memorable,” “powerful” and “life-changing” experience. Host an event in your community, and see why it continues to inspire people year after year.

Sincerely,

Nancy Delaney
Oxfam America

Inclusive Nonviolence

Must We Change Our Hearts Before Throwing Off Our Chains?
by Cynthia Boaz
10 July 2012
Excerpt from Nation of Change

One of the consequences of the Occupy movement’s emergence onto the scene over the last nine months is the escalating disagreement about the role of various strands of nonviolence and nonviolent action in the struggle. In the process, misconceptions about nonviolent strategy are being unfortunately perpetuated by earnest adherents of principled nonviolence and require correction. The phenomenon of nonviolent action is already misunderstood in most media. To see it further distorted by our own colleagues is disheartening.

In an article called “How to Sustain a Revolution” that appeared on Truthout several months ago, Stephanie Van Hook made an eloquent case for personal transformation in the context of nonviolent struggle. The essence of her argument was that acting nonviolently is not enough to sustain a people-powered revolution, and that a person must have nonviolent intentions and the willingness and ability to engage in an internal discipline of personal nonviolence if the struggle is to be truly won. On this point, I don’t have any serious disagreement. While I am not sure I would make the same case that nonviolent success requires this level of individual transformation prior to the waging of the struggle, Van Hook’s argument is similar enough to the case I would make — that nonviolent success requires genuine appreciation of one’s own (and thus our collective) power. I am someone who does not align solely with one camp of nonviolence or nonviolent action, and am someone who believes that both principle and strategy are magnified when they are married. I think our differences here are mostly rhetorical rather than conceptual.

However, in describing what she sees as a key challenge to nonviolent success in the ongoing people power struggles around the world, Van Hook writes:

“Those who profess a commitment to what is called strategic nonviolence know how to start a revolution, that is, in the same way that one would have to fight if one is the weaker party: you do what you your opponent is trying to prevent you from doing, you cast all or most of the blame on them, and you draw upon the sympathies of the masses — the “reference public” — to express your power. In this approach it’s acceptable to use threat, humiliation, and coercion to get what you want, and you often accept short-term and short-lived “success” as your goal. Nonviolence in this approach is simply refraining from physical violence while one’s inner frustrations and pains continue to grow, or are left wholly unresolved. After lighting the match of revolution, a person using nonviolence by this definition can walk away from the responsibility to carrying it forward for the long run. So a people left their guns at home this round? Where will it get them when they decide to take them back out because a limited vision of nonviolence did not bring about the deep changes needed?”

Although I believe it was unintentional, Van Hook’s characterization of adherents of “strategic nonviolence” seems to be guilty of the same sort of stereotyping with which she takes issue. I know hundreds of scholars, activists and journalists who study and engage in this form of struggle, and have yet to meet one who has “professed a commitment to strategic nonviolence.” Such an assertion does not make sense because nonviolent strategy is not an article of faith or a belief system. More concerning, though, is the implication that those engaging in strategic nonviolent action are not just unprincipled, but also undisciplined and lacking in a basic sense of social or civic responsibility.

One part of the problem is in the mislabeling of the phenomenon. By calling it “strategic nonviolence” instead of “strategic nonviolent action” or “nonviolent strategy,” she implies that the phenomenon is fairly classified as a category of nonviolence, but this isn’t accurate. Nonviolence implies commitment to a philosophy that eschews violence in all forms and that adheres to some key principles. By calling it “strategic nonviolence,” which is juxtaposed conceptually against “principled nonviolence,” the field of study with which Van Hook identifies, the suggestion is that the commitment to nonviolence has been made for non-principled reasons. But according to Van Hook’s principled outlook, a person who engages in nonviolent action for reasons other than commitment to principle is suspect because they are not embracing or practicing “true” nonviolence. No wonder there is tension — the person practicing principled nonviolence sees the person practicing “strategic nonviolence” as a pretender.

The other problem with this terminology is that it implies that the phenomenon being discussed is actually attempting to be what is understood by adherents of principled nonviolence as nonviolence. Recall that nonviolence embodies an entire philosophy and set of principles regarding the ethics of eschewing violence. Nonviolent strategy — defined as organized, collective action in pursuit of a clear and achievable objective, carried out with nonviolent weapons — does not, on the other hand, require the practitioner to adopt a philosophy in order to utilize it. In fact, to me, this is a great appeal of nonviolent strategy: its inclusiveness. Anyone can practice it. There is no spiritual or philosophical litmus test. And since unity isa criterion for success in nonviolent struggle, inclusiveness is a very helpful means to achieving that end. And moreover, contrary to principled critics of “strategic nonviolence,” I would argue, the unwillingness to adopt a philosophy of principled nonviolence from the outset does not necessarily make the subsequent action an inferior form of nonviolence. I suppose this is where Van Hook and I really part ways. She wants nonviolent action to be engaged in with full intention and consciousness of the power of nonviolence, while I believe that the use of nonviolent tools produces an appreciation for the power of the phenomenon and probably does more to convert skeptics than any other mechanism. In other words, I believe that commitment to the principle can evolve from the action, which itself is a result of the strategy.

On the other hand, by demanding a commitment to a spiritual philosophy as a prerequisite for joining the struggle, there is a danger of being perceived as (or of actually being) exclusionary. Such a requirement suggests that in order for the practice of nonviolence to be effective, the activist must hold a set of spiritual beliefs about, say, the unity of all life or the imperative to turn the other cheek. But there have been many successful nonviolent struggles waged by people who either held religious or spiritual beliefs different than those commonly found amongst practitioners of principled nonviolence, or who held spiritual beliefs very different from others in the movement, so that there was no unity over fundamental belief systems. The unity came from the commitment to nonviolent action as the most effective set of means to address the injustice. Would these movements have been formed and the struggles been waged if there had been a spiritual litmus test in place before action was taken? I doubt it.

Nonviolent action, when done well, can achieve results. When people come to see its efficacy and power through its use, they may develop more appreciation for the principles called for in Van Hook’s treatise. But whether activists get to the principle prior to action or through it does not matter. One need not necessarily be fully converted to the philosophy of nonviolence before being willing to try a new means of waging struggle. Willingness to take such a risk is the essence of courage — the most important personal quality in the nonviolent activist.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

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