Friday 29 July 2011

Korczak, Janusz [Henryk Goldszmit] (1878–1942)

Janusz Korczak was born Henryk Goldsmit in Warsaw on July 22, 1878. During his youth, he played with children who were poor and lived in bad neighborhoods; his passion for helping disadvantaged youth continued into his adulthood. He studied medicine and also had a promising career in literature.

In 1912 Korczak established a Jewish orphanage, Dom Sierot, in a building which he designed to advance his progressive educational theories. He envisioned a world in which children structured their own world and became experts in their own matters. Jewish children between the ages of seven and fourteen were allowed to live there while attending Polish public school and government-sponsored Jewish schools, known as “Sabbath” schools. The orphanage opened a summer camp in 1921, which remained in operation until the summer of 1940.

Besides serving as principal of Don Sierot and another orphanage, Nasz Dom, and working as a doctor and an author, he also worked at a Polish radio station, was a principal of an experimental school, published a children’s newspaper, and was docent at a Polish university. Korczak also served as an expert witness in a district court for minors. With the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930s his activities were restricted to Jews.

In 1934 and 1936 Korczak visited Palestine and was influenced by the kibbutz movement. Following his trips, Korczak was convinced that all Jews should move to Palestine. During the Second World War he was imprisoned for his refusal to wear the yellow star. Although offered asylum, he refused to abandon his orphans and went to the Warsaw ghetto with them. There he created a cultural centre which held literary evenings and where the children gave performances.

90,000 Tons of Diplomacy

The George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) the nation’s 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, from a Northrop Grumman poster.
One of America’s “massive seaborne platform” floating outside their territorial waters.

Thursday 28 July 2011

26th Malagon-Rovirosa Summer Sessions: North-South Course on Child Slavery

Since 26 years ago, Malagón-Rovirosa summer sessions have offered courses that provide essential elements to stop with the manipulation of the dominant imperialist culture.

Counteracting the social mass media, a lifestyle lacking in solidarity, and an educational system at the service of the powers, their aim is to collaborate in the promotion of free people who can lead their personal and collective lives.

From 11 to 14 August, 2011
The speakers are people committed to the fight against Child Slavery.
Marguerite Barankitse, founder and coordinator of Shalom House in Burundi.
Adolfo Uriona, bishop of Añatuya (Argentina) who chairs the Episcopal Aid Commission for areas in most need of assistance.
Aida Noguera, educator and Christian non-violent militant of the Foundation of the Sacred Dignity of the Person (Venezuela).
Célestin Ngore, in charge of Social Communication Media of the diocese of Doba (Chad).
Fortunato di Noto, founder of Meter Asociation (Meter is Italian for womb), a protection agency actively battling pedophilia and child pornography.
The course is chaired by Mariano J. Parra, bishop of Guayana City (Venezuela), in charge of the Youth section of CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council).

Educators and Christian non-violent militants in charge of the course:
Marina Ponce y Fernando Cuesta.

Organized by Christian Cultural Movement and Solidarity Youth Path
Venue: Emmaus House
45, Uceda St. Torremocha de Jarama – Madrid. CP: 28.189

Further information and registration at:
Avda. Monforte de Lemos, 162 - 28029 MADRID
Tel.: (+34) 91 373 40 86 / (+34) 91 848 55 48

You can also hit:

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Xenophobic attacks on the rise in crisis-hit Greece

'I cannot return back. ...
For we see no future in our countries.'
Things are going from bad to worse for Athens’s immigrants, who are being targeted by resurgent fascist groups. Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi reports from Greece.

Life is tough for the quarter of a million undocumented migrants and asylum seekers living in destitution across Athens. They are packed, sometimes 10 or 20 people to a room, into dark, dingy flats. The unlucky ones bed down in the city’s parks and squares.

Their lives won’t get better anytime soon. Greece has a backlog of around 60,000 asylum cases, mainly from Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Iran and Iraq; they could take years to clear.

Some have already waited for up to a decade for a decision. Even if their cases are looked at, it is unlikely they will be allowed to remain. Greece grants refugee status to less than one per cent of applicants, the lowest rate in the European Union where the average is around 36 per cent.


'Sacrifice your life'

In a sign of growing desperation, in December last year, 100 Afghan asylum seekers, some of whom had waited for up to eight years for an asylum decision, set up a protest camp outside Athens University. Twelve of the group, including one young mother, sewed their lips together and went on a hunger strike.

‘The best way to get a response from the Greek government is to really sacrifice your life,’ says 22-year-old Ezmerey Ahmadi, one of the protesters. ‘Most important is getting our papers; we aren’t requesting any economic help.’ The hunger strike ended in February, but the protest continues. Six of the protesters have been granted asylum, six have been refused and the rest remain.

The current economic climate makes life particularly tough for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Greece. Financial woes have sparked a rise in support for the political far-right. And as the socialist government implements an unprecedented package of austerity measures, many ordinary Greeks are turning to fascist groups, quick to blame migrants for the country’s problems.

Last October the far-right party Chrysi Avgi, also known as Golden Dawn, won its first seat in Athens city council. Since then it has held several anti-immigrant rallies in areas with large migrant communities. Fascist activists are also alleged to have carried out random revenge attacks on innocent migrants after a Greek man was stabbed to death in central Athens in March.

‘I never come out of the house during the night, because I’m afraid of the fascists,’ says Abolzar Jalily. ‘I came from Afghanistan to be safe.’ Jalily left his home after receiving death threats because he worked as an interpreter for foreign forces. Now he faces a fresh threat from a violent fascist movement operating with near impunity in downtown Athens, where Jalily lives with his family.

‘In one attack the fascists killed some refugees and injured more than 150 people. They beat them very badly and they could not go to the police because they would do nothing for them,’ he says.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (28-08-1963)

Martin Luther King is famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Wednesday, August 28, 1963.

King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were: Roy Wilkins, NAACP; Whitney Young, Jr., Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). For King, this role was another which courted controversy, as he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march. Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation, but the organizers were firm that the march would proceed.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s legendary I Have a Dream Speech

The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the South and a very public opportunity to place organizers' concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation's capital. Organizers intended to excoriate and then challenge the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights and physical safety of civil rights workers and blacks, generally, in the South. However, the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and influence, and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Alabama’s Shame. Ku Klux Klan Mentality Survives. Arizona Launches Website for Donations to Build Border Fence.

Published on July 20, 2011 - Associated Press

Arizona launched a website on Wednesday to accept donations to pay for fencing along the Mexico border, and a supporter says the $3.8 million people donated to defend the state's 2010 immigration enforcement law could be just a taste of what to expect.

Gov. Jan Brewer's legal-defense site for the law known as SB1070 raised money for "an intangible service -- you're paying for a lawyer," said state Sen. Steve Smith . "This, you can taste and smell what you're getting -- you're paying for a secure border.

The launch of the site was keyed to Wednesday being the date most new laws passed during the Legislature's 2011 regular session go into effect.

Smith, who sponsored the legislation authorizing the fence project, said Tuesday that his initial goal is $50 million.

"It's not my end goal. If we can raise $50 million, we're off to a fabulous start," the first-term Republican said.

What the money will actually buy has yet to be determined. A border security advisory committee consisting of legislators, state agency directors and county sheriffs will make recommendations to the Legislature on how and where to spend the money.

The fencing would go on private or government land. The federal government will be asked to allow construction of fencing on its easements along the border, but Smith said he also has specific state-owned and private land in mind.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

The Escape


This activity is about a group of refugees escaping to freedom.

This game is about a group of refugees escaping to freedom. Participants are confronted with a series of human rights dilemmas on their that they have to try to resolve by consensus.

Time: 40-60 minutes

Number of participants: 12 to 30+ (divide into groups of up to 6).

Aim of the activity:
• identify the possible feelings, hopes, and fears of refugees forced to leave their homes against their will.
• to develop knowledge and understanding of democracy, legal and human rights and responsibilities, systems of justice, and skills in communication and working with others.

Equipment needed:
Each team will need:
The Great Escape Route (enlarged to A3 size, if possible)
• A watch with a second hand
• Coloured crayons
• Pens

Each Leader/Teacher will need:
• A set of 11 Challenge Cards (These should be printed out on A4 sheets and folded along the dotted line)

The participants are divided into teams, each representing a party of refugees.

They have to make a long, arduous, clandestine journey out of their country, on foot, through dangerous territory, ahead of a pursuing army. They must carry everything they need. Their object is to bring as many members of the party as possible across the frontier to safety as quickly as possible. If all goes well the journey should take 11 days. They have little food or drink, but rationed carefully, it should just last them two weeks.

Every day the team meets a Challenge. A copy of each set of Challenges should be
printed out and pasted on to a set of 11 Challenge Cards for each team. Each card
presents a human rights problem, with a choice of three solutions, A, B and C. The team has to decide collectively which choice to make before they can progress on their journey. None of the answers is necessarily right or wrong; each has implications. Some are responses to internal conflicts; others are choices about external threats. Many involve delays. Some involve leaving members of the team behind. Some have disastrous consequences. If the team’s progress is too slow there is a danger that supplies will run out or that they will be
caught by their pursuers.

The exercise is timed from the moment the Runner arrives back at their team with a Challenge Card to the moment a decision is made. After each Challenge the teams carefully record their decision and chart their progress on the map.

Three jobs
Each team must allocate three jobs:

1. The Runner.
When the team has made its decision the runner goes to the Teacher/ Leader, hands in the previous Challenge Card and gets a new one.

2. The Recorder charts the team’s choice, A, B or C, at each challenge, by colouring in the route, records how many people the team leaves behind at each Challenge and writes down the number of days’ delay incurred at each Challenge.

At the end of the exercise the Recorder adds up the number of people the team has left behind (if any) and the number of days delay incurred (if any).

3. The Timer records how long the team takes to decide on each Challenge from the moment the Runner returns with each new card. The Timer writes the time taken on the map and at the end adds up the total time taken to make decisions.

At the end of the exercise the teams report back on their achievements and results. Groups add up the time they took to answer the questions and the total of days lost, and how many people (if any) they have left behind.

The Teacher/Leader examines the time they took on each question, the choices taken and which Challenges they found most difficult.

You could tell them that any group that took more than 6 minutes (say) on their decionmaking or accumulated 6 days’ (say) or more delay would have been CAUGHT by the enemy, however nice and caring the group were.

What do the participants think the results and the decisions tell us about their group?

All sorts of conclusions – real and spurious – may be drawn from this activity about the nature of the teams, about the decisions they took and how well they worked together.

At this point the Teacher/Leader may reveal information which the teams could not possibly have known, eg the shepherd (Challenge 7) was a spy, so those who went with him would have been captured by the enemy; carelessness about hygeine (Choice A, Challenge 3) leads to an outbreak of acute food poisoning in which several of the party would die; Challenge 8 was a minefield, so those who walked across it would have been killed; the tunnel in Channel 11 collapsed and buried anyone within it.

Let them know that real refugees actually have experienced situations very similar to some of the challenges presented in this game.

Monday 18 July 2011

Women of Andalgalá

Argentina, Catamarca, Andalgala
By Mirta Alejandra Antonelli

Scene one. Living on a crust.
In December 2009, exactly a year ago now, a despicable document erupted into the public arena, adding further fuel to the already heated debate over the “development” of Andalgala by the mega-mining companies in Catamarca. The signing over of the concession in 2005 of Pilciao 16 to BH Billington was already well known by then. The whole area of Andalgala was ceded to the mining company for its own exploitation, signed and sealed by the state.

Seen as an archaeological disaster of the future, this open scar, authorised by the state could completely slice through the ancient land of the “Pearl of the West”. It decreed the eventual evacuation of the whole community, over 16,000 neighbours and villagers and all under the pretence of “developmental public interest”. No future compensation could ever make up for the uprooting of a community or for the exploitation of such nature rich lands. This rape of land and its peoples lent a voice of truth to those socially conscious communities.

Its very scandal made the agreement public and gave it momentum. Damaging by-laws, corruption and lies occurred on a weekly basis. Although the company tried to hide it, the attempts to deny the bluntness of this signed concession, reached loud noise levels which the state too, tried to silence.

One never knows the capabilities of one body of people. In January, from such a poor knowledge of the spoken word, from such a disorderly people, with hardly any effort, there arose a civil movement of the so called "township of Andalgala". It was a whirlwind of a month with many wasted words on all fronts.


Although the following video is in Spanish, images speak louder than words and are clear enough to understand what is happening in Andalgalá.

Sunday 17 July 2011

New Study on Video Game Addiction: kids look they have Asperger's!

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bolton (England), video game addicts show the same personality traits as people who are suffering from Aspergers. People with this disorder find social situations stressful and may have mental health problems like depression.

During the study, researchers examined nearly 400 gamers (most of whom were male). The subjects were questioned about how much they played video games (researchers did not specifically test people with Aspergers during the study). The research revealed that the higher the time the participants spent playing video games, the more likely they were to show 3 specific traits usually associated with Aspergers: (1) neuroticism, (2) lack of extraversion, and (3) lack of agreeableness.

This outcome suggests that people with Aspergers may have a higher likelihood of becoming video game addicts, because it allows them to escape into a world where they can avoid face-to-face interactions. People with Aspergers may be prone to addiction to MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role playing games).

People with Aspergers often can’t make eye contact and fail to pick up social cues (e.g., boredom in others). The researchers say that Aspergers tends to isolate kids and can trigger depression, which video games may encourage.

Treatment for Aspergers usually consists of improving social skills and breaking repetitive behavior, the very things video games discourage. Video games don’t prepare Aspergers kids for interacting with real people. Also, as an older teen or young adult, video game addiction is known to cause problems with motivation, going to college, and finding employment (you can’t walk into a college or job interview and say that you are really good at playing Xbox).

Saturday 16 July 2011

Stop Education Cuts

As the global economy stumbles deeper into crisis, baldly revealing the bleak future capitalism has on offer, youth across the globe are moving into open revolt. With unprecedented budget cuts raining down everywhere, the struggle over public education has emerged as the main battleground.

Even before the economic crisis, big business on a global scale was pushing an agenda of budget cuts, privatization, and enforced standardization to ensure curriculum corresponds to market needs. But with the “Great Recession,” the public education system, as we know it from our universities to kindergartens, is being systematically dismantled.

Now the bones of the public education system are also being broken, as a powerful juggernaut of economic and political interests uses the budget crisis as cover to push for a fundamental reorganization of education to serve the profit-driven needs of private corporations.

In higher education, the “corporatization” of public schools has gone much further. For big business, the budget crisis is seen as an opportunity.

The idea that public education should serve the common good, providing equal opportunity to all regardless of our class, race, or gender origins, is under fundamental assault. In its place, the idea that institutional priorities should be guided by the demands of the market already dominates the thinking of most university leaders and the corporate-sponsored politicians who appoint them.

The corporate agenda is to maintain public financing of education, albeit at lower levels, but to place management of education under the direct or effective control of the private sector.

Everywhere you look, from the way research priorities are decided to the treatment of faculty and campus workers, the “corporatization” of education is rapidly transforming the very nature of our schools and universities.

Fighting Back

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Life as a Refugee Child (Lesson Plan, II Part)

Aim of the activity:

  1. to know the facts: reasons why people have to ask for refuge in another country; the hazardous situations and harsh conditions they endure and what their lives are like in refugee camps.
  2. to introduce the idea that basic needs are rights.
  3. to empathise with refugees leaving their homes and countries.
  4. to develop in the students a desire to seek solutions to problems
Number of students: minimum 8


First Part

  1. Some definitions
  2. Video: Daadab Refugee Camp
  3. Anatomy of a Refugee Camp
Second Part

  1. Jacob and Amin’s Stories
  2. Jacob's Story and Activity Sheet
  3. Amin's Story Comic
  4. Debriefing
  5. Activity “Wants and Needs”
  6. Video: Somali Children in a Refugee Camp
  7. Discussion

Jacob's story

Jacob's Case Story

Jacob is a Sudanese refugee child who fled Sudan without his family. After joining up with other Sudanese boys who were also without parents, he walked from southern Sudan, across thousands of miles of barren land, to the safety of a refugee camp in north-west Kenya.

Teaching methods

Questions designed to stir the children's imagination and to empathise with Jacob's situation.

The teacher reads aloud Jacob's story. Students answer the comprehension questions on the Activity Sheet.

Life as a Refugee Child (Lesson Plan, I Part)

At present, some 1,300 refugees a day, the vast majority from war-torn Somalia, are pouring into the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya – now the world's largest such site, with almost 400,000 displaced people in three camps originally designed for 90,000. Chronic food insecurity has spiraled into a massive humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, where today more than 10 million people are in acute need of assistance. The situation, affecting large parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, is only expected to deteriorate.

Aim of the activity:
  1. to know the facts: reasons why people have to ask for refuge in another country; the hazardous situations and harsh conditions they endure and what their lives are like in refugee camps.
  2. to introduce the idea that basic needs are rights.
  3. to empathise with refugees leaving their homes and countries.
  4. to develop in the students a desire to seek solutions to problems
Number of students: minimum 8


First Part
  1. Some definitions
  2. Video: Daadab Refugee Camp
  3. Anatomy of a Refugee Camp
Second Part
  1. Jacob and Amin’s Stories
  2. Jacob's Story and Activity Sheet
  3. Amin's Story Comic
  4. Debriefing
  5. Activity “Wants and Needs”
  6. Video: Somali Children in a Refugee Camp
  7. Discussion

Some definitions:

Refugees are people who flee their country because of 'a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.

Refugees either cannot return home, or are afraid to do so. Under the rules of the UN Convention a refugee has the right to stay in the new country for as long as may be needed.

Asylum seekers are people who have left their own countries claiming persecution and are seeking a place of safety. They may be granted refugee status in their host country and be able to stay.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) like refugees, have been forced to leave their homes because of persecution, war or other threats, but unlike refugees, remain in their own country. Increasingly, they are the victims of civil war.

Migrants are people who move from their home to another place. This may be internal migration - movement within a country - or international migration where migrants leave their country to live in another country, often seeking more money and a better life for their children. Unlike refugees, migrants are free to return home if they should wish to because, although they may be very poor, their lives are not in danger. These types of migrants are often called economic migrants.

Returnees are refugees who, when conditions allow, return to their own countries. They may return by themselves or with the assistance of the UNHCR or other agencies. This is called voluntary repatriation.  

See Video: Daadab Refugee Camp