Thursday, September 27, 2007

The fun of college living

Yet another link to an interesting Times article today... I never really felt like I was in jail in my freshman dorm at Penn, but then again, I was in the quad. Hill House certainly looked like an out-of-date state penitentiary.

Published: September 27, 2007
In a reversal from 2000, more Americans over all now live in college dormitories than in prisons.


From The New York Times...


Picking Up Trash by Hand, and Yearning for Dignity

Sept. 27,

"An essential class of workers, garbage collectors in India’s capital are among the city’s poorest and most marginalized groups."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


To be quite honest, I wanted to punch the screen (no, J-School students were not among the priveleged few who got to attend the speech itself, but neither were most of the press members) when Ahmadinejad kept saying "60 years ago," when he was condemning Israel. After becoming friends with soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect Israel -- our Israel -- words like these made me want to cry. However, I did really, really like Bollinger's introduction.

But I had to write an objective article as part of a class assignment in one hour following the speech. And here it is... unfortunately not quite as objective as it should've been. Unfortunately, time interfered, and I was unable to include some key points -- just in case you were wondering, women are treated quite well in Iran apparently, and executions without trial are the same as American capital punishment, according to Ahmadinejad. Oh yeah, and Iran doesn't have homosexuals. Wonder why? Now that's a tough one.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad skirted questions about Israel’s right to exist and campaigned for continued Holocaust research during in his speech yesterday at Columbia University.
He no longer denied the Holocaust as a factual event in history, but he claimed his right as an academic to support continued research on the topic from all sides.
“I’m not saying that it didn’t happen at all,” Ahmadinejad said. “Granted, it happened. What does it have to do with the Palestinian people?”
He equated this historical event to a scientific or mathematical theory, capable of changing and developing through scholarly research. Such questions, he said, continue to be inhibited by the “two or three powers who think that they have the right to monopolize all science.”
Ahmadinejad wouldn’t tell the audience whether or not Israel is legitimate nation, even after two probing attempts for the answer by the moderator, Dean John Coatsworth. The president only responded that he supports an election by the people of Israel – the nation he would only call Palestine.
“You know quite well that Palestine is an old wound,” Ahmadinejad said. “For 60 years, innocent women and children are killed by airplanes that break the houses over their heads.”
He sharply repeated the phrase “For 60 years” again and again, citing examples of what he saw as Israeli atrocities against Palestinian victims.
Ahmadinejad spoke by invitation at Columbia’s School of International Affairs and World Leaders Form, in a discussion introduced by University President Lee Bolinger. The Iranian leader walked onto the stage with a simple wave to his audience of approximately 600 people.
“We do not honor the dishonorable when we open our forum to their voices,” Bollinger assured the audience in his introduction. “This forum has nothing to do with the right of the speaker…it is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies.”
“Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” Bollinger concluded, sparking a resounding applause.
Ahmadinejad was visibly offended by Bollinger’s remarks, avowing that Iranians always treat their visitors and civilians with respect, including the Jews.
“We love all nations,” Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad is ready to open discussions with the United States and claims that his government has been ready to do so during his entire presidency. He is eager to speak with the leaders of all nations, except for the people of what he called “the Zionist regime.”
Prior to the speech, community members gathered inside the University gates in protest. Students from the Jewish Theological Seminar joined together in circles, singing Zionist melodies and praying for the preservation of Israel. An array of multi-colored yarmulkes and ankle-length skirts decorated the campus, accompanied by the tunes of “Am Yisrael Chai.”
“We respect his right to speak, but at the same time we want to speak against him – anyone who acts like a modern Haman,” said rabbinical student Philip Weintraub, 23, comparing Ahmadinejad to an ancient villain from the Megillah scrolls.
“We need to show that somebody who’s providing mass murder should not be allowed to say his words without protest,” said Daniel Nevins, dean of the rabbinical school at the Seminary. “His freedom of speech is whole country – why does he need Columbia University?”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brooklyn Daily Eagle article

My first front page article............EVER!!

Crown Heights Group Races To Landmark Historic Houses
by Brooklyn Eagle (, published online 09-20-2007

Much of Area Isn’t Protected;
Threat of Demolition Looms

By Sharon Udasin
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
CROWN HEIGHTS — Towering balustrades poke through hardwood floors, marking the entrance to each room in the tucked-away row house on Sterling Place. Delicately stenciled patterns garnish the rich maple decor, carving a permanent aura of warmth in northern Crown Heights.

Century-old housing lines the streets of the neighborhood, said Denise Brown, founder of a non-profit organization called Crown Heights North. The historic houses retain their originally vibrant color, rivaled only by the area’s diverse population.

But many of these homes could be at risk.

To keep reading, click here...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Let's go Giants

Sorry for the lack of written posts -- the amount of writing required by Columbia is a bit overwhelming at the moment.

So instead:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Excitement in the 'hood

I love my beat neighborhood, and it's full of excitment, but it definitely makes me a little nervous at times.

On Monday at 6:15pm (broad daylight, mind you), a 12-year-old girl was randomly shot by a stray bullet on a main street. You know, I probably should be wearing a bullet-proof vest in this neighborhood. The girl survived, but the case remains rather curious to me. America is supposed to be so safe and well-governed, yet stuff like this happens constantly in Crown Heights -- and all over New York.

After seeing her rescuer, Mekita Coe, on CBS News briefly Monday night, I decided to look her up on Sure enough, her contact information was there, and I ventured down to her home on Tuesday morning. As I walked towards her her apartment past the lines of old row-homes, I passed by an ABC News anchor walking in the opposite direction.

"You must be from The Daily News?" she asked me.

Nope, I'm just a Columbia Journalism student-reporter -- but actually, she was fine with that and still seemed to take me seriously. I asked her if it was difficult to get to talk to people about the incident, and she said it had been pretty crowded before, but now she was going on her lunch break. I wonder who she had actually spoken to before; you'll see why in a moment.

I ventured on alone with my pen and pad and quickly found Mekita Coe's apartment. I stood there nervously for about 15 minutes before actually ringing the bell, but I finally managed to whisk up the courage. After hearing that I was a reporter over the intercom, Coe actually still received me pretty positively and said she would be downstairs in a bit. So I waited on the porch for about another 15 minutes, getting a good grasp on my surroundings. In the middle of the street, where an NBC News van was parked, I saw an NBC crewman suddenly get into and out of the van. But he lingered, staring at me suspiciously and eying my pen and pad.

He definitely sensed something was up over here.

Ms. Coe came down at last, and we began a great conversation. She thought that it was "cute" that I'm a student, and that made her especially eager to talk to me. Coe is an educated, young black mother in the neighborhood who is appalled by the frequency of such random violence in the neighborhood. In fact, she sends her own daughter away to boarding school because she finds the area so unsafe and the education so horrendous.

We continued to discuss the previous day's events and her reactions and perceptions.

...When lo and behold, who suddenly appeared to interrupt our conversation but BOTH the the ABC and then the NBC camera crews and anchorwomen. Why'd they need me as a lead anyway? All they had to do was do their whitepages homework! And just as I was getting one of the best answers from Ms. Coe, the anchors rushed the crew to snap on their cameras. Hah, that's not stealing?

The ABC anchorwomen urged me to keep talking and doing my job, even though she knew I was a student. But the NBC woman was more aggressive and clearly had to have her way -- essentially she took control of the discussion, and I backed down. [Yes, I'm shamefully aware of my mistaken timidity.]

Nonetheless, this was a fantastic experience, and I got to be involved in the news, firsthand, with some of the bigger networks and skilled reporters. This was really an exciting's horrible, though, that a girl had to get shot in order for me to do my job...