Sunday, August 26, 2007

Freedom of speech versus falsity

As I learned from IvyGate, there is an ongoing tenure war at Barnard College, raising questions worldwide about fact versus fiction. A certain professor is up for tenure -- she's a Muslim woman who published a recent book, in which she asserts that Israel never really belonged to the Jews. Clearly, this is a quite one-sided, unsubstantiated claim that has been proven otherwise by thousands of historians for ages.

Should such a "scholar" really be hired by Columbia University?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Exploration

Today will be my first day on my beat, exploring and reporting in Crown Heights -- presumably getting lost, meeting interesting people and getting lost again. And after pressing snooze for an hour, hopefully I have enough sleep in me to push through a fun day of unknowns.

I feel like I'm about to enter Jerusalem or Tzefat again, as I arm myself with a long skirt and covered arms to face the Lubavitch community. I wonder if they'll accept me as a Jew or if I am a total outsider to their traditional version of an ever-changing faith.

Hopefully my French "fluency" will help me delve into the other half of the community, the black Caribbean population. Behold, my French minor may actually prove useful for something!

Well, here I go, off to the A-train for a fun-filled day of explorations...

Monday, August 20, 2007

My newest home for the year...

Shall be Crown Heights -- a diverse, black-Caribbean and Lubavitch-filled neighborhood, which will serve as my beloved beat for the year.

Lengthier post to come shortly, as my newest journeys unfold.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Am I ready?

Yes, in fact, I am.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dreams at an expense

Yesterday, I ventured into (onto?) Long Island to play tennis with my friend Jen -- at her house, nonetheless. It's been quite a while since my last visit to the island, though I've definitely spent many a Jewish holiday and Bar Mitzvah in East Meadow. Jen's town, Old Westbury, is absolutely gorgeous, expansive properties separated by trees and beautiful neighborhoods interrupted only by country clubs. The nearby Hicksville train station was decorated by hordes of wealthy nine-year-old boys, all ostentatiously clad in their faux-ghetto attire.

Perhaps one day, when I've become the Andrea Mitchell of print/online journalism, I'll be able to afford such things. Until then, I'll just hope that next year's cardboard box has running water.

I'm certainly grateful to my parents for being such overly generous providers, including this year's rent and tuition in New York City. Living with Dr. Mom and Dr. Dad, I've been so lucky throughout my entire life -- able to have almost anything I ever needed or even wanted. And family vacations were no tent in the woods; in fact, five-star hotels were rather customary accommodations. I'll be forever thankful to my parents for the financial ease by which I glided through childhood.

But was this a tease?

I could've gone to med school, I could've been in Wharton. Hey, maybe I even could have been a chemical engineer like my brother. And in all of those careers I'd be making six-figures rather quickly. But I'd be quite unhappy. The truth is, I've loved writing since I first learned how to fingerpaint in pre-school, and journalism is an exciting (albeit dying) field, where I can explore the world and report back in words.

I wonder, however, am I pursuing my dreams at the expense of the comfortable life I have always known?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Post later tonight!

For anyone who reads this, I apologize for the weekend interlude. I'm off to voyage to Long Island for some tennis playing, and I will write another post by the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

United Nations of terror

One of my top mentors from NJBIZ, reporter Marty Daks, alerted me to a particular Human Rights Council debate (3/23/07), available in the YouTube segment below as well. Marty wittily retitled the video for me as "UN muzzles Jews who criticize the 'Human Rights' Council," a testimony to the anti-Semitism and hypocrisy that plagues this "peace" organization. Perhaps, as my friend Jason points out, Marty's word "muzzle" may be a bit strong -- the United Nations ignores the representative rather than shutting him down. But what's the point of free speech if a voice passes by unheard?

Now why do the UN members choose to ignore this man's comments? Might they be too ashamed of the
accuracy laden in his thoroughly researched statement?

For years now, I have seen the UN as an utterly useless organization, but lately, their behaviors and decisions are certainly bordering on terrorism. The UN Watch speaker includes sharp evidence to legitimize his case against the Human Rights Council, those so-called protectors of international human rights.

He begins a venerable barrage of attacks against the "criminal" Human Rights Council, declaring, "One might say in Harry Truman's words that this has become a do-nothing, good-for-nothing council -- but that would be inaccurate. This council has after all done something; it has enacted one resolution after another, condemning one single state --
Israel."

The speaker criticizes how "Hammas and Hezbollah have been granted impunity," an unthinkable regression in any viable climb towards human rights. Some of the most vocal advocates of the Human Rights Council are the Middle East dictators themselves, who would hypocritically declare that "they seek to protect human rights -- Palestinian rights," just as "the racist murderers of Darfur women care about the rights of Palestinian women."

The UN Watch representative proceeds to demonstrate how these alleged supporters of Palestinian human rights don't really even care about Palestinian rights at all -- really, their claims serve only to vilify Israel. He proves his claims by recalling the glaring events of recent months:
"More than 130 Palestinians were killed by Palestinian forces. This is THREE times the combined total that were the pretext for calling special sessions in July and November, yet the 'champions' of humans rights -- Ahmadinejad, Assad, Qadaffi, John Dugard -- say nothing ... Why has this council chosen silence? Because -- because Israel could not be blamed. Because, in truth, the despots who run this council couldn't care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights. They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to deligitimize the Jewish state, to scapegoat the Jewish people. They also seek something else -- to distort and pervert the very language and idea of human rights."

He concludes by declaring that the current council is turning the founders' dreams into a "nightmare," and Council President Doru Costea (Romania) -- immediately dismisses the representative's statement as both false and offensive. To do anything else would be surrender, an admission that the speaker is correct.

With terrorist nations at the forefront of the council, this supposed human rights conglomerate is nothing but a two-faced cocktail party for dictators, brimming with injustice and hypocrisy. And as usual, who must they scapegoat? Why, the Jews of course. Killings fly by unnoticed, unless the deaths occur under Israeli hands. Palestinians terrorize both Israelis and each other, genocides occur in the very countries where Human Rights Council members preside and yet, the victims' voices are silenced before they can even speak.

Anyone ever wonder why neither the United States nor Israel are even
members of the Human Rights Council?

From Locust to MTA

Well, it's eight more days until school starts...graduate school, that is. No more Locust Walk, no more Gia Pronto, no more four hour sorority meetings to make t-shirt color selections. Graduate school. My last chance to put off real life for just one more year, or so I thought. Really, The Journalism School is more of a stepping stone -- a trade school -- to grow into a professional reporter.

I can't even begin to imagine all of the exciting people whom I'll meet. In addition to the world renown journalists on the faculty, many of the other students are already reporters entrenched in the field, coming back to school for a master's degree. The average age in our class will be 28, and it may be a bit intimidating at first to hold my ground among people with so much experience. But luckily, the DP has given an amazing foundation, and I am grateful for all the instruction I received both there and during my summer position at NJBIZ newspaper.

This summer began an exciting new epoch in my life, and I can't wait to become part of such an electric and constantly changing field. Who knows what this year is going to bring.

So next Thursday, I'll grab that book-bag and PennCard Metrocard for one more year of school and training . . . even if that 1-train can never rival the age-old cobblestone of Locust Walk.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fun things aren't always expensive

Manhattan is notorious for high prices and less-than-affordable rent costs. Movies, Broadway shows, $10 drinks, even Tasti-D Lite ---all threaten to make a huge dent in your wallet. The cost of living here alone is exorbitant, and once the rent is paid, it's difficult for young professionals and students to spend far beyond bare necessities.

So what about fun?

Few New Yorkers are aware of the free activities available to them throughout the summer. My favorite -- run entirely by volunteers -- is the free kayaking on the Hudson River. The New York City Downtown Boathouse oversees facilities at three different ports: Peir 40 at Houston St., Pier 96 at 56th St. and next to the riverside cafe at 72nd St. Without hassling any participants for donations, the organization provides free life jackets, kayaking time and optional instruction for both beginners and advanced boaters. All you have to do is sign a waiver and take responsibility for your own safety, but trust me, you won't drown.

And hey, I may have been splashed by some unknown megamorphic Hudson River toxins and/or lifeforms, but we had a great time. In all seriousness, it's a fun experience and incredibly relaxing. Now the question is -- when you look across the river, which cluster of high rises is Weehauken, and which is Jersey City?

Another really interesting place to visit is (Penn nerds, read on) The Science Barge. Located essentially adjacent to the 72nd St. kayaking port, The Science Barge is a self-contained environmental studies museum and agricultural producer, perched on -- you guessed it! -- a barge. The scientists and interns who work on-board experiment with different types of power, such as solar, wind and used vegetable oil from NYC restaurants. While the functionality and profitability of these alternative sources is certainly debatable, the barge presents an admirable effort to uncover future solutions for environmentally-friendly power systems. Also inside is a miniature vegetable greenhouse, growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, arugula and various herbs -- all of which are sold, if I remember correctly. The scientists experiment with new growing methods and soil types, using the residual waste from an on-board fish tank to fertilize the plants. Water recirculates from plants to filtration back to plants, leaving absolutely no run-off from the ship into the Hudson River.

No run-off? Well, what about human waste?

The answer, which I feverishly procured, is that there is no restroom aboard The Science Barge. Alas my fellow small-bladdered females, you must be prepared to hold it in for the duration of your tour. Fortunately, wherever the barge docks in the park, there is always a nearby bathroom facility. In order to have a functional restroom sans run-off, the barge would need to have a compost bathroom, which is very expensive and difficult to maintain at this point. Perhaps a future endeavor?

And no, I really didn't have to pee.

The anti-Semitism diaspora

As Jews, one tragic thing we must always remember is that we are hated throughout the world. Purely and simply hated--resented--terrorized. Just as there is a diaspora of Jewish people, there seems to be an even larger and more widespread diaspora of anti-Semitism.

Poland: Jewish cemetery desecrated

Vandals spray painted swastikas and other Nazi symbols on about 100 gravestones at a large Jewish cemetery in Poland, police said Monday.

Visitors to the cemetery in the southern city of Czestochowa discovered the damage on Sunday and police have not yet found the culprits, said Silesia regional police spokesman Andrzej Gaska.

"This is one of the biggest acts of destruction in years," said Jan Gebert, spokesman for the Jewish community in Warsaw. "In fact, I can't think of any other cases in Europe that have been this big."

The vandals used black spray paint to tag the gravestones with the letters SS, swastikas, and the slogan "Jews Out" written in German.

Gaska said police had not observed activity by anti-Semitic groups in the region for some time, and that the incident appeared to be of a "hooligan nature."

Czestochowa's Jewish cemetery has about 4,500 graves and is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Poland.

This country was home to about 3.5 million Jews - Europe's largest Jewish community - until the Holocaust, when most were killed by Nazi Germany. Today there are an estimated 30,000 Jews in Poland."

Terrorists and children

Suicide truck blast kills 28 in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq
CNN.com

"A suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck into a village near the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar on Monday, killing at least 28 people and wounding 50 others, an Iraqi army official said.
At least 19 of those killed were children
, Brig. Gen. Najim Abdullah told The Associated Press.
The blast left a 10-foot crater in the ground and damaged 10 homes in the Shiite Turkmen village of Qubbak, about six miles (10 kilometers) northeast of Tal Afar, the army official told CNN.
The suicide bomber used a dump truck and covered his deadly wares in a layer of gravel, Abdullah told the AP..."


How, I wonder, can such people possibly be human? While any form of terrorism is nothing less than shocking, targeting children seems to be the most ruthless, psychotically twisted form of assault. And it doesn't even make sense. These terrorists are no longer even targeting their so-called "enemies;" rather, they're going after innocent victims who don't even have the wherewithal to take a side. Normally, I would characterize terrorist activities as horrific and evil yet grounded in entirely sane and calculated decisions. After all, if we call Adolf Hitler or Osama Bin Laden insane, then we essentially excuse and condone their behaviors. But how can going after hordes of defenseless children and killing indiscriminately like this possibly have any rational basis? It's a mind-boggling, nauseating issue... What are these terrorists even getting out of their ploys, besides hatred from the rest of the world and resentment from their uninvolved families?