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Joined on December 03, 2012

Emotional Oranges on Tour

Tour dates and tickets here.

Avant Garden Records: When Adele’s vocal coach and Drake’s engineer met at a bat mitzvah in 2017, the band Emotional Oranges was instantly born. A mix of funky bass, break-beat drums and jazzy guitars creates a refreshing, retro sound with futuristic undertones. Michelle Obama and Guy Fieri have both publicly championed the band. Their debut singles, “Motion” and “Personal” immediately created a cult following, generating over 12 million streams globally. “Motion” was made the official theme song for Ru Paul’s Drag race in 2018. 

Petition: Free Nasrin Sotoudeh

I just want to make sure you saw my message from March about Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and mother who has dedicated her life to defending human rights. If you haven’t taken action yet, please take a minute to stand up for Nasrin now.

Nasrin was targeted in the past — but when Amnesty supporters worked together, back in 2013, we were able to secure her early release from prison.

We need to work together again to reunite Nasrin with her children, help free Nasrin!                 

TAKE ACTION, GET NASRIN BACK TO HER FAMILY!

Margaret Huang
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

“I miss you my dearest” – Nasrin Sotoudeh’s letters to her children from prison

Amnesty Internatonal

Iranian lawyer and women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh’s heartbreaking letters from prison reveal the trauma inflicted on families by the government that claims to protect them...

 

March 2011

Hello my dearest Nima,

Writing a letter to you is so very difficult. How do I tell you where I am when you are so innocent and too young to comprehend the true meaning of words such as prison, arrest, sentence, trial and injustice?

Last week you asked me, “Mummy, are you coming home with us today?” and I was forced to respond in plain view of the security agents: “My work is going to take a while so I’ll come home later.” It is then that you nodded as if to say you understand and took my hand, giving it a sweet, childlike kiss with your small lips.

How do I explain that coming home is not up to me, that I am not free to rush back to you, when I know that you had told your father to ask me to finish my work, so I can come back home? How do I explain to you that no “work” could ever keep me so far away from you?

My dear Nima, in the past six months, I have found myself crying uncontrollably on two occasions. The first time was when my father passed away and I was deprived of grieving and attending his funeral. The second was the day you asked me to come home and I couldn't come home with you.

My dearest Nima, in child custody cases, the courts have repeatedly ruled that, when it comes to visitation rights, a three-year-old child cannot be left with their father for 24 consecutive hours. This [is] because the courts believe that young children should not be away from their mothers for 24 hours and that such a separation would result in psychological damage to a child.

This same judiciary, however, is ignoring the rights of a three-year-old child under the pretext that his mother is seeking to “act against the national security” of the country.

It goes without saying that I was not seeking in any way to “act against national security” and that, as a lawyer, my only objective has always been to defend my clients under the law.

I want you to know that, as a woman, I am proud of the heavy sentence rendered against me and honoured to have defended many human rights defenders. The relentless efforts by women have finally proven that regardless of whether we support or oppose them, we can no longer be ignored.

Hoping for better days,

Maman Nasrin

 

April 2011

To my dearest Mehraveh, my daughter, my pride and joy,

It has been six months since I was taken away from you my beloved children. Throughout these six months we were only allowed to see each other a few times and, even then, in the presence of security agents. During this time, I was never allowed to write to you, to receive a picture, or even meet with you freely without any security restrictions. My dear Mehraveh, you, more than anyone, understand the sorrow in my heart and the conditions under which we were allowed to meet. Each time, after each visit and every single day, I struggle with the notion of whether or not I have taken into consideration and respected my own children’s rights. More than anything, I needed to be sure that you, my beloved daughter, whose wisdom I very much believe in, did not accuse me of violating my own children’s rights.

I once told you: “My daughter I hope you never think that I was not thinking of you or that it was my actions that deserved such punishment… Everything I have done is legal and within the framework of the law.” It was then that you lovingly caressed my face with your small hands and replied: “I know, Mummy… I know…” It was on that day that I was freed of the nightmare of being judged by my own daughter.

My dearest Mehraveh, just like I was never able to disregard your rights and always sought to protect them to my fullest capacity, I was also never able to disregard the rights of my clients.

How could I abandon the scene as soon as I was summoned by the authorities, knowing that my clients were behind bars? How could I abandon them when they had hired me as their legal counsel and were awaiting their trial?

It was my desire to protect the rights of many, particularly the rights of my children and your future, that led me to represent such cases in court. I believe that the pain that our family and the families of my clients have had to endure over the past few years is not in vain. Justice arrives exactly at the time when most have given up hope.

I miss you my dearest and send you one hundred kisses,

Maman Nasrin

 

September 2018

Hello my dearest Nima,

I don’t know how to start this letter. How can I forget that this year you have to start school without me and even without your father by your side, and simply tell you that this year is a normal year like any other year? How can I ask you to go to school on time, do your homework, study well and be a good boy until we return?

I would hate to speak such words to you as a mother because I know that in your young life you have had to live through the constant trauma of visiting me in prison, being prohibited from visiting me, and the fear of injustice.

As a mother, I cannot ask you to forget my existence and think to yourself that you do not have a mother at all, just so that I can pursue my work and struggle [for human rights] with a clear conscience. May I never be this cruel to you.

***

My job as a lawyer, which is under constant attack in Iran, is pulling me – and this time also your father – into the storm of injustice and cowardice that is destroying the community of Iranian lawyers.

These days I am thinking about you constantly, about how lonely you must feel and about our dear Mehraveh, who has made us proud and who is now forced to care for you and be your mother and father at the same time.

I am sending you my tears of love, hoping they make the injustice of our time a little more tolerable for you.

I send you thousands of kisses for I have not seen you in far too long.

Maman Nasrin

Bill Traylor: Sidewalk Genius

Man in Blue Pants: paint, pencil, colored pencil and charcoal on cardboard.

Vox Populi: William “Bill” Traylor (1853–1949) was an African-American self-taught artist from Lowndes County, Alabama. Born into slavery, Traylor spent the majority of his life after emancipation as a sharecropper. It was only after 1939, following his move to Montgomery, Alabama that Traylor began to draw. At the age of 85, he took up a pencil and a scrap of cardboard to document his recollections and observations. From 1939 to 1942, while working on the sidewalks of Montgomery, Traylor produced nearly 1,500 pieces of art.

While Traylor received his first public exhibition in 1940, it wasn’t until the late 1970s, thirty years after his death, that his work finally began to receive broader attention. Recent acceptance of Traylor as a significant figure of American folk and modern art has been founded on the efforts of Charles Shannon, as well as the evolving tastes of the art world. Shannon, who first encountered Traylor’s work in 1940, brought Traylor to the attention of the larger art world. Since then, public and scholarly perception of Bill Traylor’s life and work has been in constant evolution. First held up as an example of “primitive” or “outsider” art, Traylor now holds a central position in the fields of “self-taught” and modern art.

Hate Map

 

Vox Populi: Each year since 1990, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has published an annual census of hate groups operating within the United States. The number is a barometer, albeit only one, of the level of hate activity in the country. The hate map, which depicts the groups’ approximate locations, is the result of a year of monitoring by analysts and researchers and is typically published every January or February. It represents activity by hate groups during the previous year.

What is a hate group?

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. We do not list individuals as hate groups, only organizations.

The organizations on our hate group list vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity – prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.

The FBI uses similar criteria in its definition of a hate crime:

    [A] criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

We define a “group” as an entity that has a process through which followers identify themselves as being part of the group. This may involve donating, paying membership dues or participating in activities such as meetings and rallies. Individual chapters of a larger organization are each counted separately, because the number indicates reach and organizing activity.B

What is the SPLC’s hate map?

Each year since 1990, the SPLC has published an annual census of hate groups operating within the United States. The number is a barometer, albeit only one, of the level of hate activity in the country. Other indicators of hateful ideas include the reach of hate websites, for example. The hate map, which depicts the groups’ approximate locations, is the result of a year of monitoring by analysts and researchers and is typically published every February. It represents activity by hate groups during the previous year.

Tracking hate group activity and membership is extremely difficult. Some groups do everything they can to obscure their activities, while others grossly over-represent their operations. The SPLC uses a variety of methodologies to determine the activities of groups and individuals. These include reviewing hate group publications and reports by citizens, law enforcement, field sources and the news media, and conducting our own investigations.

To access the SPLC Hate Map, click here.

Firearms and tear gas used to quell protest inside Gharchak women’s prison

 

Amnesty International: Responding to reports that Iranian prison guards in riot gear beat prisoners and used tear gas, firearms and pepper spray during raids inside the women-only Shahr e-Rey prison (commonly known as Gharchak) in Varamin outside Tehran that began last night, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said:

“The reports of the Iranian prison guards' reckless and heavy-handed response to protests at Shahr-e-Rey prison are deeply alarming. Many prisoners were reported to have received hospital treatment for the effects of tear gas.

“Prison authorities must refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force against prisoners. Instead of carrying out violent raids against prisoners, they should be working to address the inhumane and squalid conditions at Shahr-e Rey prison.”

Background: 

The unrest began during the night of 7 February when the women prisoners tried to raise awareness that one of them needed medical care. Reports also suggest that some prisoners organized a protest by banging their hands on the doors of their cells in protest against the fact that their names have not been included on a list of thousands of prisoners due to be pardoned for the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Amnesty International has previously documented the appalling ill-treatment of prisoners at Shahr-e Rey prison. The facility is a disused chicken farm that holds prisoners in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, without access to safe drinkable water, decent food, medicine and fresh air.

 

World’s Largest Market In Murals

The second phase of the Central de Muros begins with 50 artists from around the world racing to finish 39 murals.

Voxpopuli: Mexico City’s Central de Abasto, the world’s largest market, is visited by half a million people every day. With the help of the United Nations, the state of Mexico is endeavoring to make it the world’s biggest urban art exhibition by covering the walls with murals by dozens of artists. Administrators have reported a decrease in vandalism and graffiti near the murals >>> Photos

A father comforts his son

David Kirby, on his deathbed in Ohio, 1989.

The photograph that changed the face of AIDS

By Therese Frare

Vox Populisphere: This picture is widely considered the photo that changed the face of AIDS. It showed AIDS victims as humans and people with families. The biggest opponents of doing anything about AIDS, anything at all, were conservatives trumpeting family values. This picture showed that HIV has everything to do with family values and to have family values you have to value families.

In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby — his body wasted by AIDS, his gaze locked on something beyond this world — surrounded by anguished family members as he took his last breaths. The haunting image of Kirby on his death-bed, taken by a journalism student named Therese Frare, quickly became the one photograph most powerfully identified with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that, by then, had seen millions of people infected (many of them unknowingly) around the globe. David Kirby was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. A gay activist in the 1980s, he learned in the late 1980s — while he was living in California and estranged from his family — that he had contracted HIV. He got in touch with his parents and asked if he could come home; he wanted, he said, to die with his family around him. The Kirbys welcomed their son back.

The photographer Therese Frare recalls:

On the day David died, I was visiting Peta (one of David’s caretakers in Pater Noster House). Some of the staff came to get Peta so he could be with David, and he took me with him. I stayed outside David’s room, minding my own business, when David’s mom came out and told me that the family wanted me to photograph people saying their final goodbyes. I went in and stood quietly in the corner, barely moving, watching and photographing the scene. Afterwards I knew, I absolutely knew, that something truly incredible had unfolded in that room, right in front of me.

Early on, I asked David if he minded me taking pictures, and he said, ‘That’s fine, as long as it’s not for personal profit.’ To this day I don’t take any money for the picture. But David was an activist, and he wanted to get the word out there about how devastating AIDS was to families and communities. Honestly, I think he was a lot more in tune with how important these photos might become.

When published by LIFE, the image shocked the national conscience in the United States with its graphic imagery. While the public knew that AIDS was deadly, many only knew of its effects in the abstract. AIDS was still thought to be a “gay” disease and much of the populace was relatively uninformed about the effects of the illness. The image also helped the greater public to connect to the family’s grief at losing their son. The original caption on LIFE magazine: After a three-year struggle against AIDS and its social stigmas, David Kirby could fight no longer. As his father, sister and niece stood by in anguish, the 32-year-old founder and leader of the Stafford, Ohio, AIDS Foundation felt his life slipping away. David whispered: “I’m ready”, took a last labored breath, then succumbed.

David Kirby died in April 1990, only 32 years old, seven months before the photo was published. By some estimates, as many as one billion people have seen the now-iconic Frare photograph that appeared in LIFE, as it was reproduced in hundreds of newspaper, magazine and TV stories — all over the world — focusing on the photo itself and (increasingly) on the controversies that surrounded it >>>

After BakeSale for Japan: What’s Next for Samin Nosrat

KCRW: In April 2018, San Francisco Bay Area cook Samin Nosrat organized bake sales across the country to raise funds for the victims of the March 11th tsunami in Japan.  Her goal was to surpass the $23,000 she helped raise at a similar event last year for the earthquake in Haiti. Stunning even her own hopes of quadrupling that figure, Bakesale for Japan raised $140,000—more than six times that amount.

So what’s on tap for this vibrant community organizer, who also cooks, teaches and writes?  Like a productive chef, Samin has many things cooking at the moment—she just finished organizing another Pop-Up General Store, teaching a class in Understanding Acid, and is preparing for a special Tartine After Hours dinner today featuring cook/food videographer Daniel Klein of Perennial Palate.  Her next big undertaking will be Eating for Education, a campaign to broaden the reach of The Edible Schoolyard founded by Alice Waters. It will be showcased at Chez Panisse’s 40th anniversary celebrations taking place August 26-29th. 

Broadly speaking, Eating for Education aspires to educate the public about such things as where food comes from, how to prepare it, its interaction with culture, and growing food in a socially and environmentally responsible way >>>

Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi

From: internationales literaturfestival berlin

23. Oktober 2018

Dear Madam or Sir,

Below please find our call for a Worldwide Reading on December 10, 2018, signed, among others, by Nobel laureates Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller, Wole Soyinka, Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as Manal al-Sharif, Margarete Atwood, Bernard Henri Levy, Roberto Saviano, Eva Menasse, David Van Reybrouck and the President of PEN International, Jennifer Clement.

Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi on the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. On this anniversary, the international literature festival berlin (ilb) calls upon individuals, institutions, universities, schools, and media who value freedom of the press and human rights to organize and participate in a worldwide reading in memory of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The last time Khashoggi was seen alive was when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. After nearly three weeks of silence, Saudi Arabia admitted that he died there during a fight with Saudi officials. However, the evidence – such as the deployment of a fifteen-member team of security officers including a forensic scientist – indicates that the murder of Khashoggi was planned well in advance or, at the very least, accepted. The involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government, including the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is very likely, since such an action against a prominent critic of the regime would hardly be undertaken without the approval of the royal family. Until now, Saudi Arabia has not offered any clues about the location of Khashoggi’s body. The initiators of the worldwide reading demand the complete and transparent truth about the events that transpired. The responsible parties must be held accountable.

In the last text written by the 59-year-old (he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on October 13, 2018) Saudi journalist, which the Washington Post published two weeks after his disappearance, Khashoggi emphatically calls for freedom of expression in the Arab world. His firm stance has now cost the journalist his life.

This murder is the climax of a series of oft-unsolved murders of male and female journalists in recent years, as seen by recent cases in Mexico, Bulgaria, Malta, and Slovakia. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the indispensability of which Khashoggi emphasized with regard to the Arab world, is under threat everywhere, including in Europe. Consequently, journalists and political dissidents, even those in exile, are no longer safe, as this case blatantly shows. Jamal Khashoggi is simply the most prominent victim thus far. Many murders against journalists do not even reach the attention of the world public. We also remember that in Turkey, too, freedom of the press is extremely restricted. Over 150 journalists and authors are imprisoned, with some serving lifelong sentences.

At the same time, this incident has already led to serious consequences for international politics and the global economy. Numerous leading managers and economic policy makers will no longer participate in the large Future Investment Initiative scheduled to take place in Riyadh at the end of October. Therefore, this incident clearly shows that the protection of freedom of the press and freedom of expression and the fight against the murder of journalists and extrajudicial state killings are not about some kind of unrealistic idealism in terms of human rights, but rather that we are all affected by these crimes – culturally, politically, and economically.

If this incident, the most stunning murder of a journalist in recent years, does not lead to consequences – what then? Who will be the next murdered journalist, activist, or dissident, and in which country? Even after the partial confession by the Saudis, this incident may not be swept under the rug. Remembering Khashoggi on the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights is intended to make this emphatically clear.

With all this in mind, on December 10, we call upon you to participate in the worldwide reading of texts by Jamal Khashoggi and – depending on the specific national context – other murdered, missing, and imprisoned journalists. 

Please send information about the reading in your location to worldwidereading@literaturfestival.com so that we may publicize the events on our websites http://www.worldwide-reading.com and www.literaturfestival.com.

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