Just yesterday I was horrified to read that hundreds of bodies had been found in Nigeria. These were thought to be those of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram . Today there is a silver lining with a news piece that more than 700 women and children have been released by Boko Haram. Its not known whether any of them are from the group of schoolgirls that were kidnapped last year, but …heres hoping. Either way its a good thing for those women and children. But, stay tuned….


Godspeed Ferguson, MO….

So Ferguson, MO …seems to not completely be going down in flames today. I am always a person to fact check before opining on situations like this but honestly its been hard to wait through the opinions. I def am for people questioning government, taking (Positive) action when they see wrong & def police can be wrong,. IN this case I do not think the officer was. One commenter on Yahoo put it quite succinctly :” re the Michael Brown autopsy results: 4 shots to the arm to stop an assailant are what happens when you shoot to disable by aiming for the side of center mass, since they are less likely to kill the assailant, if not disabled and the target is closer then you go for a head shot, sounds like good training to me to explain the location of the bullets…. I am sorry for this it is now true that he was not running away, the witness has been discredited. we have to wait for the rest of the reports.” All very valid…and it substantiates that the officer did his job. End of story. I don’t think there is a conspiracy here. I live in a state that has seen a fair share of officer involved fatalities & I have oft sided w/ the victim in those cases or heavily sympathized. (Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Andy Lopez) I certainly do sympathize. Its sad when ANYONE dies. However if you die in the commission of a crime, or being questioned for one, it warrants a bit less sympathy on my end. I was not impressed with Mr. Brown’s parents on Good Morning America either. They seem to fault only the officer, be in support of the rioting & showed little concern for their son’s activities that day. This coupled with the autopsy results & the very valid comments I Quoted above, lead me to believe the officer was not in the wrong here.

NOT TO MENTION….rioting, looting, stealing, defacing property in the name of justice for someone is backwards & WRONG. If Mr Brown were innocent than people committing crimes in his name will not sway observers favorably. In my opinion, the rioters are nothing but criminal opportunists looking for an excuse to do damage while police resources are stretched managing all that is going on. This is not justice. This is shameful. Godspeed, Ferguson.


Three weeks ago, 234 girls were kidnapped by an extremist group in Nigeria with the intent to sell the girls into slavery. Why should this be important to us? History tells us where hate is allowed to foster, it can easily spread. THe girls in Nigeria arent just 234 girls in an isolated situation. There are millions of girls worldwide affected by extremists with the same ideas. IN the case of the Nigerian schoolgirls, an extremist group by the name of Boko Haram’s name translates to “Western education is a sin” in the local language. The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

I guess I shouldn’t fail to mention here that I’m mostly a “stay at home” wife/mother who works around my family’s schedule. I also have an AA degree in Communication as well as a dual degree in Sociology and Womens/Gender studies (Double major – oh the horror!) . I think education is important no matter what you do in life. There is no such as thing as being too intelligent, being too articulate, having too much critical thinking skills. Education serves a purpose and advances people in many ways. I’m sorry that there are people in this world who do not see its value. The men that claim education should only be reserved for men show how it is wasted on the likes of them. Clearly there is no cure for stupid. But for those with desire to learn, with the passion to change themselves and the world around them, to better themselves…education  is key.

The extremists in Nigeria could be anyone. They could be anywhere. By that, I don’t mean that terrorists are at every corner. Ignorance is. These women need to be brought home. They need to be brought back to school. The world is watching — and ignorance needs to be fought against so that not only these girls are returned to the education they deserve, but so those who believe otherwise are told that there is no place in this world for such ignorance. These girls aren’t just Nigeria’s girls. They are our girls. Bring back our girls.

(Postscript I have called the White House comment line so President Obama knows my opinion. I urge you to let him know yours too. Write letters to the editors of papers and magazines who arent reporting this story. There is much we can do from our homes to tell our leaders that this will not stand)


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Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Holocaust was a horrible mass scale event that was held in plain sight yet not seen by the world until too late. I think it is important to remember what happened, out of respect for the victims, survivors & their families…and to learn so these events arent repeated again. There is no shortage of movies and books available on the subject. I implore everyone to read, watch, ponder. The Holocaust may be an event of the past but it is one we can use to make our present and future better. I have read many books on the subject as well as studied a lot on the history, including a class titled the “Sociology of Genocide” at my alma mater Sonoma State University.For Holocaust Remembrance Day, although I’m a few days late, I thought I’d share one of my academic papers from a few years ago. Its a analysis of the movie “Schindler’s List.”  (I was looking for a paper did on the topic of female bullying ion which I used a lot of examples from the movie “Mean Girls” in honor of the movie’s 10th Anniversary, but as it happens, I got sidetracked)

“Someday this is all going to end you know.” These were the words spoken from Oskar Schindler to his accountant Itzhak Stern in what little reassurance he could in the midst of the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg did an excellent job of bringing to life historical events in a way that showed the human experiences of the Jews. He used a variety of effects to create a realistic and dramatic portrayal of this time. For instance although the film was shot in black and white, there are moments of color to highlight certain things. In one scene, Jews are being forced out of the Krakow ghetto. Oskar Schindler stands atop a balcony watching as chaos and gunfire erupt everywhere. A girl wearing a visibly red jacket is seen walking unnoticed (except of course by Schindler) through the ghetto. This is an ironic scene because Jews were monitored so heavily during this time. It seems strange and miraculous  that a little girl could wander alone through the ghetto and hide under bed unnoticed. This was one of only three times in the film where color was used.

The second scene in which the viewer sees color is in stark contrast to the first. In this scene, a policy had just been ordered for all bodies to be exhumed and incinerated. Jews were seen being shot in cold blood. The blood on the bodies were seen visibly red. This scene was set to dramatic choir music. This scene preceded Schindler compiling his infamous list with Stern.

In other scenes, music was used for dramatic effect. In one scene where people were being lead to the showers music starts out quiet and somber. As the people get closer to the shower the music reaches a more frenetic pace reminiscent of old melodramas. The music was set to evoke the emotions of the people in the scene. In a happier scene, lighthearted marching music is played as the credits roll and the Schindler Jews are seen walking away from their liberated camp. The music becomes louder and more triumphant as Spielberg changes the scene from black and white to color to mark this happy ending.

Oskar Schindler was not only a humanitarian but a shrewd businessman. It was both these

things that ultimately made his actions successful in saving so many Jews during the Holocaust. The film did not give any background as to Schindler. I found myself wondering what moved him to do what he did. I found myself amazed that a man who’d failed at many businesses and marriages according to the film epilogue managed to find success when it counted the most. The film opens with Schindler attending a party and chatting up military officials. His success supports the old adage “it’s not what you know, its who you know.” Miraculously, the war ended as Schindler is told he is broke by his accountant (Itzhak Stern).

At times it was laughable at how much Schindler got away with. When asked how it came to be that he’d hired a metal worker with one arm Schindler simply explained “he was a metal worker. Quite skilled.” In the scene where Schindler requested a hose to water down a train full of Jews, it seemed certain he would be questioned, yet because of his power and influence Goeth and his men said nothing.

Additionally this film was educational for many reasons. The obvious reason being that it is about the Holocaust and everyone should be educated about this monumental event. More to the point, this story showcases what one person can do in the face of adversity. Schindler started out with nothing but confidence and good business skills when he chose to help the Jews. The movie not only documented what he did for the Jews but how he did it. He made contacts, acquired investors for his factory, chose product that people could be convinced they needed and was able to win favor with officials who might otherwise have questioned him. I was incredibly amazed at Oscar Schindler’s talent at using legitimate channels to subvert the Nazi system. For example he explained his reason for hiring only Jews to work in his factory because they were cheap labor as the government imposed a smaller minimum wage on them than the Pols or Germans.

Many things we’ve read about throughout this course were brought out of the texts and into life via this film. For instance, one scene shows how new arrivals had to run naked in front of the guards. The Judenrat was seen being unhelpful and having to deal with peers that viewed them as traitors. Several important dates in Holocaust history were brought to life via this film as well. The dates were clearly noted in these scenes along with a short explanation as to its importance so the viewer would know its significance (Ie the date Jews were given orders to move to the ghetto,). Another example of this can be found early on when Jews were forced from their homes to the ghetto. Wealthy families with beautiful homes and possessions are seen packing up as much as they can and leaving….to tiny, crowded and rundown apartment buildings. Spielberg did an excellent job of contrasting scenes such as this. In this instance, the family is seen visibly shocked at their surroundings. In the next, Schindler is surveying their home and deciding whether or not to move in. These bits of irony are purposefully placed. Scenes such as this show the varied experiences people had of events during this time. Towards the end, Schindler used possessions to bribe officials.He is seen giving his watch to Stern in order to free a woman’s parents. The next scene unfolds showing an official wearing the watch at a party. Viewing real people experience these events brings history to life in ways a text cannot.

In reviewing the film, I found it to be an excellent piece that showed many sides of the Holocaust while focusing on the actions of one man. There was very little I disliked about the film. Blood and bodies in general are things I avoid looking at but for this film it was necessary. I would like to have seen more background on Schindler (what was his position among the Nazi party, how well known & influential was he prior to this event, what made him do what he did). Barring those things, the film was excellent. The ending was a terrific “real life” epilogue. The ending credits brought the film full circle as each actor and the real life person they portrayed stepped forward to place a rock on Schindlers grave.This movie was like all Holocaust films is limited in how much it can explain about such a monumental events in history. This is no fault of Spielberg’s however .Although this was my third time viewing this movie, I felt I got a lot more out of it watching it while simultaneously taking this course. For this reason I would definitely recommend it as required viewing as a Holocaust Lecture Series assignment for future classes. In closing I am again reminded of the slight reassurance Schindler could give to Stern as he was held prisoner in a concentration camp:”someday this is all going to end you know.”


Dont do as the Romans do…the ongoing tale of Amanda Knox

Today in Italy, the THIRD trial of Amanda Knox and her ex boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito is coming to a close. I have no doubt that regardless of verdict, there will be another (ANOTHER) appeal. The ongoing tale of this case has made a mockery of the Italian “justice” system. Having read media accounts from the original trial, as well as the biographies of both Amanda and Raffaele, I see many things in this case that are just mind boggling and wrong.

When this story first came out, it seemed like a slam dunk case according to media reports. The prosecutors had a weapon, DNA, witnesses….Yet upon closer examination, anyone could see how all of this “evidence” came to be and how it is not the “evidence” it appears to be (as highlighted by the first appeals trial). Amanda made a clear case for herself in her biography. I found everything she said to be articulate and commonsense. Additionally what she relays in her book can be confirmed by other sources (Italian media reports, court transcripts). In the beginning, Amanda did not behave as police thought she should. She was an immature college student in a new country with only basic understanding of the Italian language. These circumstances set her up early on for the events that unfolded. Raffaele, as evidenced by the biographies as well as court/prosecution records, barely knew Meredith. The fact that the prosecutor tried to tie him into the murder theory depicting him as a lovesick boyfriend willing to do anything for his girlfriend (of a week) is another made up theory by Prosecutor Mignini that has no ties to logic.

The first trial was an outright circus of lies, made up evidence and wild theories. Prosecutor Mignini in fact threatened perople who testified for the defense by stating he was charging them with slander AS THEY WERE TESTIFYING. How can this be allowed before a judge and jury and NOT be seen for the bias and incompetence that it is? Mignini was also under investigation for misconduct in other cases WHILE THIS TRIAL WAS GOING ON. I came away wondering how any of these people were qualified to practice law, or wondering how low the bar was set in Italian courts for the truth. The truth is Amanda & Raffaele did not really have airtight alibis because they were doing things normal college students were doing that day & the night before: going out, getting high, having sex. These things do not add up to them being murders. More to the point they were at Raffaele’s house the night before NOT Amanda’s where the murder took place.  The prosecution instead would choose to have the public believe otherwise. Prosecutor Mignini, in the original trial, unfolded a wild story about how Amanda & her boyfriend “must” have been at her house (no proof of this) and were “probably” busy having sex when Rudy Guide knocked at the door  (The only man evidence ties directly to Meredith Kercher’s murder) . In the middle of having sex, they unlock the door to let this random person in then continue having sex. Meredith comes home & Rudy, so overcome with sexual desire, rapes her and they all kill her for no reason. Yeah that makes sense. Never mind Amanda had met Rudy all of 1-2 times and RAffaele never had.   In  this new trial there is a new prosecutor, “The prosecutor in this trial, Alessandro Crini, played down the sex-game aspect. Instead, he suggested that the violence was incited by a dispute between the two roommates over the cleanliness of the apartment. ” …It is unbelievable that THIS is what the prosecution is citing as a motive. A dispute between two adult women over..chores? This argument is a desperate atetmpt at the least. Completely ridiculous at the very best.  This argument hinged on a one time conversation in which an embarrassed Meredith spoke with Amanda about making sure to clean the toilet after each use. This is simple roommate talk spun wildly WILDLY out of control.

More to the point, is the unproven reason that Meredith “couldn’t” have been killed by one person. Why not? Women get raped and/or murdered by lone assailants every day. Raffaele’s layers (as laid out in his biography) had a logical time line for how and why this murder happened, why don’t they?

Frankly if I were a member of the Italian court system, I would be too embarrassed to go to trial a 3rd time considering how badly they came out at the last appeals trial. The DNA “evidence” they so desperately clamored to was too miniscule to test by any recognized standards. Recordings of the CSI unit clearly shows the apartment not taped off , people freely roaming around, people touching things and bagging evidence with ungloved hands (Or not changing gloves to handle each piece of new evidence as is protocol to avoid cross contamination)

I feel bad for the Kercher family. Their daughter’s killer was proven in court and essentially let off light. The only thing the Perugia police did right in this case was using DNA evidence to prove Rudy Guede was the rapist & killer. Unfortunately the results of the DNA testing did not come until after they had arrested Raffaele and Anmanda and concocted their ever expanding theories on how Meredith died. The Kercher family has every right to be angry and upset. Unfiortunately, they are directing this anger at the other victims in this case as opposed to the “justice” system that botched the investigation so badly. Rudy was given a light sentence and rewarded for telling the prosecutors what they wanted to hear. IN light of how violently Meredith was raped and murdered, THAT should be the cause of the Kercher’s outrage.

I sincerely hope that today is the day Raffaelle and Amanda are truly set free.