<\body> Stories in America: June 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Op-ed pages dominated by men

The authors of the study are Bob Sommer, who teaches public policy communications and is president of Observer Media, publisher of The New York Observer, and John R. Maycroft, a graduate student in public policy. They combed through 366 opinion articles written by college teachers or researchers and published by three newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Star-Ledger, the largest-circulation newspaper in New Jersey. Their study will be published in the journal Politics and Policy.

At each newspaper, 90 to 95 percent of the published articles agreed with the editorial page stance on the issue at hand, they wrote, and when the opinion pieces disagreed, “it was usually in a point/counterpoint format where at least one of the authors by definition had to take a view in opposition.”

The study says that men wrote 78 percent of the academics’ opinion pieces in The Star-Ledger, 82 percent in The Times, and 97 percent in The Journal. “Of all our analyses,” the authors wrote, “this is perhaps the most astonishing.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Week on Your Call Radio

Here's what's coming up on Your Call this week.

A live call-in radio show, Your Call airs from 11 am - noon PST on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco.
You can listen live or podcast the show.

*Monday - What do the decisions of the Supreme Court's term tell us about the direction of the court? What are the most significant rulings? What impact have Bush's appointees had on this term? What's at stake if the next President nominates new justices?

Guests: Michael Waldman, director of the Brennan Center for Justice
Professor Neil Kinkopf of the College of Law at Georgia State

*Tuesday - How can theatre heal and empower children living in conflict zones?
Guests: Juliano Mer Khamis, director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, and director of the documentary, Arna's Children

Jujuana Williams of the Destiny Arts Center in Oakland

*Wednesday - Can the airlines be fixed? Is it time for an airlines passengers' bill of rights? Deeper de-regulation? Is the era of cheap travel over? Given the carbon footprint of a 727, is that a bad thing?

*Thursday - What will it take for San Francisco's African-American community to progress socially and economically? Can the sharp decline of the African-American population in SF be stemmed?

*Friday - Media Roundtable: How did the media cover the week's news?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Iraqi Refugees Living in the Bay Area

Friday, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates the number of refugees and internally displaced people swelled to 67 million last year. A record 11.4 million people were driven from their home countries last year alone, and another 26 million were displaced within their own countries.

Afghanistan and Iraq are the two leading countries of origin for cross-border refugees. Afghans made up 27 percent of the total refugee population, with almost 3.1 million living in Iran and Pakistan. Iraqis were the second largest group, with 2.3 million living outside the country. Of those, 2 million live in Jordan and Syria.

According to Amnesty International, the international community is evading its responsibility towards refugees from Iraq by promoting a false picture of the security situation in Iraq when the country is neither safe nor suitable for return.

In its new report, Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis, which is based on recent research and interviews with Iraqi refugees, the organization said that the world’s richest states are failing to provide the necessary assistance to Iraqi refugees, most of whom are plunged in despair and hurtling towards destitution.

We're marking World Refugee Day by speaking to two Iraqis who recently arrived in the Bay Area. The show airs from 11 am - noon PST.

Here's an article written by Ali, a recent Iraqi arrival:
I woke up one Sunday morning because my cell phone was ringing. The voice on the line had a Jordanian accent, and told me my period of waiting had ended. It was an employee from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) telling me my flight to the U.S. was scheduled in ten days. I was so sleepy when I answered the call, but was now wide awake. My feelings of happiness were so great that it woke my roommates. Even though I hadn’t made a sound, they must have felt a sort of wordless spiritual connection. Although my roommates asked if something was wrong, I told them nothing. I didn’t tell anyone about the call - not even my family - for at least a few days.

In spite of my happiness, I began to think about my last ten days in Iraq. I don’t know why. Maybe because I found myself waiting yet again - just as I was still waiting for a safe morning to dawn in my country. My family sacrificed everything. We sold our house and furniture, spending all our money searching for a new home where we could be safe. We would often settle into a neighborhood, renting a house for only a few months before things became so dangerous that we were forced to move again.

These last days in Iraq were the worst of my life. We had no furniture and owned only the clothes on our backs. During the night, militias attacked our neighborhood, killing and stealing (We were constantly afraid that the militias would attack our neighborhood). Every family would designate one man to keep watch at night in case of attacks. During those days, I stayed awake through the night and slept only a few hours during the day. I was protecting my family. Each night I kept sentry between the gate, door and window. Our door had 5 locks, which I checked every hour. The last house my family lived in before I left was also dangerous. However, it had the advantage of being in the middle of the neighborhood, rather than the end. This position gave us time to prepare or escape if militia or terrorists attacked.

Despite any precautions, I was not reassured. We never felt safe. I found myself waiting for my flight to the U.S. in the same
way I waited for the safety each new morning would bring, ending the darkness of night. I would fly to the U.S., to my new future, and rebuild what was destroyed in my life. I would reclaim my days and nights, sleeping and waking with the setting and rising of the sun. I would put my feet on solid ground after years in quicksand. I would have a car, a wife, and a house with a backyard and BBQ. I would go out at night and walk the streets without fear of killing, kidnapping, bombs, or the restrain of curfew.

It is a great responsibility to write about the situation in Iraq, about what has happened and is still happening. Because the situation is so complicated, I am afraid my words will not be enough to explain things. I’m afraid I’m not capable enough to speak about what’s going on, but I know that every Iraqi wants to talk about our misery and our sadness. I saw this in Jordan when I was working with journalists. I witnessed Iraqi refugees overcome by emotion. They wanted to speak, yet many of them just cried into the microphone. They had so much to say, so many feelings and emotions that they struggled to express in words, just as I struggle to write this story. Iraqis want me to tell their story, so it is a story I must write. I owe them that much.

They will envy me because each of them wants to tell the world what has happened. In Iraq, you can’t trust anyone: neighbors, cousins, or people in the street. When you walk next to a car, you pray that it doesn’t contain a bomb. Neighbors and friends once gathered at night in Iraq to talk, eat, and play games. You can’t do that anymore because of the curfew. You have to cut ties with cousins because they are from a different denomination of Islam (Shi’a or Sunni). We are simply waiting to die. Since the war began with Iran in 1980, we Iraqis spend our lives waiting to die. But things have changed for me. Now I am in the U.S.