Archive for conflict

i am going to freak out on somebody.

Posted in Life in general with tags , , on Wednesday 25 March 2009 by amanda

WHAT THE FUCK.  I guess I missed the boat, because apparently the law school library is not a place to study, it’s where you hang out with your friends and have great conversations, people stop by to talk about how they accidently flashed people, and you have lengthy cell phone conversations.  I’ve gone from a great mood today to virtually homicidal, because there has been a series of about 8 instances (8!  seriously!) just this afternoon where people cannot figure out that when you’re in a library, particularly a law school library that you SHUT THE FUCK UP OR LEAVE.  

okay, i’m done venting.


right now i hate those people.  if you are one of them, i hate you.  i can’t get my paper done because of you.  

i also now understand that it’s my job to invest in earplugs, not your job to leave when you want to talk, so the rest of us can have what a library is supposed to be – a quiet study environment.



Gorillas in Congo

Posted in Life in general with tags , , , on Sunday 7 December 2008 by amanda

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to NPR on my way home from school (as usual) and The World was on.  I enjoy that show because it’s an hour of non-US news, which is nice.  This particular show highlighted the recent uptick in violence in some areas of Congo, particularly in the areas where the extremely endangered and (ideally) protected mountain gorilla lives.  

Before I go forward, a note.  I love animals.  I respect them.  I think they are amazing.  gorillas and chimps in particular I find fascinating.  I am a firm believer that animals need to be respected and (when necessary) protected. 

However, as well-meaning as I know this article on NPR was about the plight of the gorillas, they chose to use that time to talk about the gorillas and not about the families, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents that are also being deprived of basic things like their rights, their homes, and even their lives.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) feel comfortable with the choice to highlight these lovable animals over human life.  

I spoke to Ola about it, and he rightly pointed out to me that it’s because the people being slaughtered in Congo are black.  He compared this to Bosnia.  He asked if I could even IMAGINE a news report coming out of Bosnia during the war about some endangered and wonderful creature being threatened there while white children and families were being sniped, blown up by mines, and attacked?  And I can’t imagine a news report like that.  Yet nobody thinks twice about focusing on the gorillas.

I write about this because the NPR story played several weeks ago and it’s still on my mind.

best burma news source

Posted in Burma with tags , on Tuesday 2 October 2007 by amanda is, in my opinion, possibly the best overall compilation of burma news. they pull from everything from the times and cnn to the irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma. Check it out to keep up with what’s going on. To find good ways to get involved, start with the US Campaign for Burma. Other than protesting, there’s a lot that can be done, and NEEDS to be done. And what better time than when monks and civilians are being openly killed by a military junta?

under the banner of heaven – leaving me disgusted with religion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on Saturday 8 September 2007 by amanda

i just finished reading Jon Krackauer’s book, “Under the Banner of Heaven”. I wanted to read this one after reading “Into Thin Air”, which was amazing. “Under the Banner of Heaven” jump-starts with the murder of a young mother and her daughter. They were killed by the mother’s brothers-in-law, who believed that god had told them to kill her and her baby. The book is two-fold in my mind – it is a history of Mormonism (and I might add that it’s noted at the end of the book that the Mormon church (LDS) highly disapproves of this book and has disputed many of the points contained in it), but also a look at FLDS, which is fundamentalist Mormons, that have been excommunicated from the church or never belonged to LDS proper in the first place, and how they developed, what they believe, and where their particular beliefs come from.
I think that a major reason that Mormonism comes off in a less-than-shiny light in this book is that I think that the author feels the need to explicitly explain where these fundamentalists broke away from the main – for example, on the topic of plural marriage, celestial marriage, polygamy (whatever you want to call it) he attempts to trace back the practice to Joseph Smith, and points out the although the LDS church has renounced polygamy, the revelation to Joseph Smith in which god told him to engage in polygamy is still part of the accepted doctrine of the church. It’s been out of accepted mainline LDS church practice for a very long time, and I think many Mormons would prefer that everybody just let it freakin’ go (and who can blame them?) but it’s still an important part of history in examining the rising of these fundamentalist groups.
That said, it’s a very stark portrait of the development of the Mormon church. Other than a PBS special about the history and development, this book is the only major source of information that I have on the subject. I find it very interesting…it’s a portrayal of a people less than 200 years ago, that were trying to forge out their new faith, and were being strongly persecuted for it. The author posits this as a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario – he asserts that the early Mormon community had little to no regard for laws outside of the ones they set for themselves, and formed insular communities, isolating themselves from the outside world. I feel that it’s a bit of a scenario where depending WHAT one considers to have happened first, different people are to blame for tensions between communities. Of course, it’s rare that one side of a conflict can be simply blamed anyway, whether you’re talking about the early LDS church or any other group of people.
I feel like I’m rambling, and so I guess the crux of the matter is that I read this book and kept thinking to myself “How could they be so callous towards others? How could they be so self-righteous to think that they are the only ones with some kind of ‘truth’?” And I kept having to pull myself back – after all Mormonism only does what every other faith does – they assert that they have the one truth from god himself, and everybody else is damned. They believe that to protect their children, they should be shielded from teachings outside the faith, as many Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others do. After all, isn’t that what home-schooling, parochial school, madrassas and Hebrew school are mainly about – to make sure that kids are taught what’s right according to a particular faith system?
In the end, the book left me upset about pretty much every faith. The very end of the book a former fundamentalist Mormon name DeLoy Bateman, now an atheist, is interviewed. He talks for a while about the intolerance of the church to have people question the inconsistencies in teachings – they’d rather have blind following than critical thinking, according to Mr. Bateman. His final quote in the book is, “If ou want to know the truth, I think people within the religion – people here in Colorado City – are probably happier, on the whole, than people on the outside. But some things in life are more important than being happy. Like being free to think for yourself.”
I agree – any religion, government, or person that tells me it’s more important that I just follow the rules, believe exactly what I’m told, and do what they say than to critically examine evidence and make my own conclusions and choices is bloody out of their minds.
(as a small after-note, i want to emphasize again that my knowledge of mormonism is limited, and this post isn’t meant to be a slam against it or any other religion in particular – reading this book simply brought up some strong feelings about religion in general)

article on iraq from the times.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on Sunday 19 August 2007 by amanda

this article is possibly the most eloquent and nuanced reflection on american forces and civilian life in iraq.

Link: The War as We Saw It


The War as We Saw It


VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.
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