Friday, May 30, 2008

Letter to the President: Violence Against Women

I wrote this for a "Women's Issues" course I took this semester taught by Mary Ann Mason. The assignment was to write a letter to the President outlining four problems of violence against women and proposing policy suggestions to address these issues.


Read this doc on Scribd: Violence Against Women

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Violence & Trauma: An Annotated Bibliography for Social Workers

If you would like to print the annotated bibliography, use the "iPaper" button at the top of the document. You can also use the buttons to zoom in or open the document in a full window so it is easier to read it online.

If you would like to download the PDF (136 pages) please click here.

Read this doc on Scribd: crit summ COMPILATION 1

Monday, April 28, 2008

Food Riots and Food Insecurity

We have talked a lot in the Violence and Trauma group about how scarcity (real or perceived) can lead to violence, or can exacerbate the conditions that lead to violence. We see this being played out in many countries of the world right now, as food becomes a scarce and expensive commodity. The conditions that led to this world food crisis have been described as "the perfect storm."
Systemic causes for the world-wide food price increase have been currently identified as climate change (which has resulted in unseasonal droughts and floods), rising oil prices (which has heightened the costs of fertilizers, food transport, and industrial agriculture), the increasing use of biofuels in developed countries, and an increasing demand for a more varied diet (especially meat) across the expanding middle-class populations of Asia. These factors, coupled with falling world food stockpiles and instability brought about by the subprime mortgage crisis, have all contributed to the dramatic world-wide rise in food prices (wikipedia).

A survey released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute found that the price of staple food has risen by 80 percent since 2005, including a 40 percent surge last year alone. The real price of rice is at a 19-year high and the price of wheat on world markets is at a 28-year high. (washington times)

Global food prices have risen dramatically, adding a new level of danger to the crisis of world hunger. In Africa, food riots have swept across the continent, with recent protests in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Senegal. In most of West Africa, the price of food has risen by 50 percent—in Sierra Leone, 300 percent. In the United States there has been a 41 percent surge in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other cereals over the past six months.Read/Listen/Watch the full story on Democracy Now!

Food Insecurity and Riots Erupt in over 30 countries:

EGYPT — Violent protests this week over soaring food prices left one dead and 15 injured.

HAITI — Five people were killed and about 20 injured in a week of protests, including an attack on U.N. peacekeepers. TIME began one report with "The good news is that there hasn't been a coup d'etat in Haiti in the wake of violent protests over increased food prices." The government is very destabilized at this time.

CAMEROON — Violent food riots in February claimed 40 lives, and protests continue this month.

BURKINA FASO — A general strike is called this week over rising food prices, after protests earlier this year led to hundreds of arrests.

PHILIPPINES — The government beefs up security at rice warehouses to prevent theft and hoarding.

JORDAN — U.N. aid workers stage a one-day strike for more pay to cover food and fuel price increases.

BURMA — Cuts in fuel and food subsidies sparked massive anti-government protests last summer.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, was in Washington last month making an urgent appeal for funds to compensate for rising prices. "We're asking for the world to really think through how we meet the emergency needs of the hungry," Ms. Sheeran told The Washington Times.Ms. Sheeran told The Times that her agency was $500 million short for the current fiscal year in meeting needs to relieve the global food and fuel crises. "We don't have the buffering space" to cover such sharp increases in the cost of basic staples, she said. Various countries have pledged differing amounts of aid, and some of them have delivered on their promises, while others (especially the US!) have not (link to the full list of international food aid donations). 

You can download a letter to send to your government (there are links for lots of countries!) if you click here. You can help out by donating to the "Friends of the World Food Programme," a US-based non-profit that supports the world food program and other hunger relief efforts. (especially if you have an extra $500 million just kicking around somewhere--maybe hidden under your mattress?)

I found an incredible website about world poverty and hunger. The main page of lists the names of people who have died from hungar (it maintains a count of "hungar deaths this hour"), and it provides some solid background information about poverty and its influence on human lives throughout the world. The map below shows the percentage of populations living below their national poverty line (based on data from the CIA World Factbook). You can see that the places most affected by the food crisis are the poorest countries.

Martin Luther King said that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!" I believe that is true about food insecurity too: Food insecurity anywhere is a threat to justice and true security everywhere. In the US, restaurant owners are stocking up on rice "just in case." This action then causes chain stores like Costco to limit the amount of rice people can buy, further making people panic thinking there isn't enough food. Even I bought some extra rice. It was stupid. When we panic and hoard, the macro-level effect of our combined individual actions often cause what we were trying to prevent in the first place.

The Depression was very much worse because people panicked and took their money out of the banks, and that is what happened just a couple weeks ago with Bear Stearns too. I don't have the solution (clearly since I am guilty with my bag of jasmine rice in the freezer), but I know we can do better than this.

I know that we as human beings, as helping professionals, as kind and compassionate manifestations of the universe, can do better. There is no reason that people all over the world need to be rioting in the streets because they are starving. There is enough food to feed the world, there are enough resources for all of us. We need to reevaluate our priorities as human beings and take a long, deep look at ourselves and our tendency to hoard and to the view resources as scarce and impossible to share.

One little thing we can do (and it is FUN!) is to click on this link and play the game FREE RICE! It is an awesome website where you play a word game (identifying the definition of a word, for example: "skeptical = a. thoughtless, b. sole, c. doubting, d. revolting"). For every word you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the UN's World Food Programme!!

We create the world we live in, and we have a greater impact than we might think on the lives of people living half a world away. They are closer to us than we think: we are all part of this interconnected world together. It's time to start acting like it!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

25,000 Dockworkers Shut Down West Coast Ports in Historic Antiwar Protest

In the largest labor strike since the invasion of Iraq, ports along the West Coast -- all twenty-nine of them -- were shut down as some 25,000 dockworkers went on a one-day strike to protest the Iraq war. Port workers in Iraq also struck on May 1st in solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Listen/Watch/Read the full story on Democracy Now!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alicia Lieberman Colloquium Slides

Alarming Rate of Veteran Suicides

VA stalling on care, judge told at S.F. trial
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

(04-21) 17:30 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 120 veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq commit suicide every week while the government stalls in granting returning troops the mental health treatment and benefits to which they are entitled, veterans advocates told a federal judge Monday in San Francisco.

The rights of hundreds of thousands of veterans are being violated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, "an agency that is in denial," and by a government health care system and appeals process for patients that is "broken down," Gordon Erspamer, lawyer for two advocacy groups, said in an opening statement at the trial of a nationwide lawsuit.

He said veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 18 a day - a number acknowledged by a VA official in a Dec. 15 e-mail - and the agency's backlog of disability claims now exceeds 650,000, an increase of 200,000 since the Iraq war started in 2003.

Justice Department lawyer Richard Lepley countered that the VA runs a "world-class health care system." He said the changes the plaintiffs seek in their lawsuit - better and faster mental health care, and more rights for veterans appealing denials of benefits - are beyond the judge's authority.

"Of course we're obliged to provide health care," Lepley said, but "the court does not have standards to determine the speed or the scope or the level of that care."

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti is presiding over the nonjury trial, scheduled to last two weeks. Conti, a conservative jurist and World War II veteran appointed to the bench by former President Richard Nixon, ruled in January that the case could go to trial. In doing so, he rejected the government's argument that civil courts have no authority over the VA's medical decisions or how it handles grievances.

If the advocates can prove their claims, Conti said in his ruling, they would show that "thousands of veterans, if not more, are suffering grievous injuries as the result of their inability to procure desperately needed and obviously deserved health care."

He also ruled that veterans are legally entitled to five years of government-provided health care after leaving the service, despite federal officials' argument that they are required to provide only as much care as the VA's budget allows in a given year.

But at a later hearing, Conti indicated he was uncertain about his authority to require spending on particular types of health care. The lawsuit plaintiffs - Veterans for Common Sense in Washington, D.C., which claims 11,500 members, and Veterans United for Truth, a Santa Barbara group with 500 members - want him to order the VA to provide immediate treatment for suicidal veterans and prompt care for those suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The trial follows publication of a Rand study last week that estimated 300,000 U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, or 18.5 percent of the total, suffer from major depression or post-traumatic stress.

The lawsuit is a proposed class action on behalf of 320,000 to 800,000 veterans or their survivors. The advocacy groups say the VA arbitrarily denies care and benefits to wounded veterans, forces them to wait months for treatment and years for benefits, and gives them little recourse when it rejects their medical claims.

"The time delays are staggering," Erspamer, the plaintiffs' lawyer, told Conti on Monday. Although the VA says it decides the typical claim for benefits in six months, he said, the agency takes far longer to review post-traumatic stress claims, and four years or more for the government to hear veterans' appeals of denied treatment.

Veterans who seek benefits within the VA's grievance system have no right to a lawyer and no right to demand records or question opposing witnesses, Erspamer said. The plaintiffs want Conti to grant those rights and to require the agency to set a timetable for deciding claims.

Lepley, the government's lawyer, said the VA has undertaken a "huge staff increase" - 20 percent in mental health, 25 percent in claims processing - and now provides one mental health staff member around the clock at every VA center, as well as a suicide-prevention hot line.

For those who do not need immediate care, he said, the agency has a policy of scheduling a mental health appointment within two weeks, and has reached that goal at 80 percent of its facilities.

"These kinds of medical decisions are not something that this court can inject itself into," Lepley said. He referred to the plaintiffs as "single-interest groups" and said the legal rights they seek in the VA benefit system, such as the involvement of lawyers, are "not in the patients' interest."

E-mail Bob Egelko at

Post-Katrina Mental Health

Survey: Post-storm mental health worsens
By Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press Writer | August 21, 2007

NEW ORLEANS --More Gulf Coast residents are thinking seriously about suicide or showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as the recovery from Hurricane Katrina inches along, a new survey finds.

The survey is a follow-up to one done six months after the hurricane, which found that few people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- about 3 percent -- had contemplated suicide in the storm's aftermath.

That figure has now doubled in the three-state area and is up to 8 percent in the New Orleans area, according to Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, lead researcher for the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group.

More people also showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, 21 percent of those interviewed this year compared to 16 percent in the earlier survey.

It's not surprising, said Karen Binder-Brynes, a New York psychologist who specializes in PTSD.

"It's a community that's in terrible distress. It's not like other things where, once everything's over, everything's getting rebuilt," she said.

Kessler team interviewed 1,000 people last year and was able to track down 800 of them for this year's survey. The latest survey is not yet ready for publication, but Kessler said the preliminary results for suicide and PTSD were striking.

Kessler said that in the months after the Aug. 29, 2005 hurricane, an underlying optimism protected many people from suicidal thoughts. Now, that optimism has worn thin -- something the earlier report warned could happen if rebuilding didn't keep pace with expectations.

The recovery from Katrina has been slow in some areas, especially in New Orleans. In addition to losses due directly to the storm, violent crime, poor schools and other problems have piled trauma atop trauma.

Kessler, whose study is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, said most disasters have relatively rapid recoveries, so rates for such ailments as depression and PTSD usually improve after a year.

The results of the New Orleans survey are more like those of people who lost their jobs in Detroit during the 1980s and couldn't find new work, he said.

New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina Recovery

(slides are still under construction)

This is an incredible song accompanying photos of New Orleans during and after Katrina. It tells a powerful story exposing disparity, inequities and ineffectiveness in disaster response, challenges in living during and after the storm, and the resiliency that people invoked out of necessity.

Read this doc on Scribd: Poverty

The only attention that this issue has received in the presidential campaigns was this recent visit to New Orleans by John McCain, in which he criticized the reaction of the administration in responding to the problems. He did not particularly pose solutions or a plan for what he would do, but he issued the oft used slogan, "never again!" This statement sounds somewhat hollow, especially in the context of this Ninth Ward community member's response to McCain's visit:
At least one citizen was disturbed by all the media attention, particularly by the lack of seats for local citizens at Mr. McCain’s 20-minute news conference. “We need to have an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue,’’ said Mary Fontenot, who is with All Congregations Together, a church group working to rebuilding New Orleans. “Twenty minutes out on the lawn does not suffice, with a designated seating for traveling journalists.’’

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Strange Situation Developed by Mary Ainsworth

Hi All - Here is the Strange Situation protocol which is the basis for current attachment theories. She developed the protocol, which predated her categorization of different conditions of attachment between parent and child.

Here is the video:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Truth and Reconciliation

The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an independent, democratically selected body seeking truth and healing transformation for Greensboro, N.C., a city left divided and weakened by the events of Nov. 3, 1979.

The truth and reconciliation process is designed to examine and learn from a divisive event in Greensboro's past in order to build the foundation for a more unified future. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission is based upon similar efforts around the world, most notably in South Africa. Building on this wealth of international experience, Greensboro represents the first application of this model in the United States.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mary Harvey's Ecological View of Trauma

Read this doc on Scribd: Harvey Ecological Trauma

I'm testing this as a way to upload pdfs to the blog. It seems to work great! I used a site called Scribd where you can upload pdfs or word docs and it gives you "embed" code (like on Youtube) that you paste into your blog post... and VOILA! you have a beautiful scrollable pdf.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Videos About Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina August 2005

Kanye West: "Bush doesn't care about black people"

The Lower Ninth Ward

I hope they love their children too

I love this song because it invokes for me a sentiment that as humans we share more in common with one another, which outweighs any conflict we might have.

Russians (Sting)
In europe and america, theres a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the soviets
Mr. krushchev said we will bury you
I dont subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the president
Theres no such thing as a winnable war
Its a lie that we dont believe anymore
Mr. reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is that the russians love their children too

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Book by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn on Child-Parent Psychotherapy

Hi All,

As you know, on Monday April 21st, Alicia Lieberman will be coming to speak at the School of Social Welfare in Haviland 5 from 4-6pm. She and Patricia Van Horn -- also of the Child Trauma Research Project in San Francisco -- have just published the much anticipated follow-up book to their "Don't Hit My Mommy." Check it out!

Resources from Greg Merrill

Hi Everyone -

I was asked to provide links that may inform about future training and recommend the following:

International Society for Traumatic Stress

National Child Traumatic Stress

John Briere:
EMDR Institute

The National Center for Treatment and Study
of Anxiety:

The National Center for PTSD:

Update on Cairo 52 from Reese

(04-09) 13:37 PDT CAIRO, Egypt (AP) --

An Egyptian court convicted five men Wednesday on charges of homosexual behavior and sentenced them to three years in prison, officials said.

Defense lawyer, Adel Ramadan, said the judge found the men guilty of the "habitual practice of debauchery" — a term used in the Egyptian legal system to denote consensual homosexual acts.

The convictions were confirmed by a judicial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.

Homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in Egypt's legal code, but a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and debauchery are applied to homosexuals in this conservative country.

The five men were arrested in what human rights groups describe as a crackdown on people with the AIDS virus, using the debauchery charges as a means to prosecute them.

Four of the five men tested HIV-positive after all were forced to undergo blood tests in custody, Human Rights Watch says. The New York-based rights group issued a statement Tuesday signed by more than 100 other organizations around the world condemning the prosecutions.

Ramadan, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the five men were abused and tortured over the past several months to "extract confessions" from them.

In addition to their prison time, the men were sentenced to an additional three years of police supervision, meaning they will have to spend every night at a police station, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the lawyer said.

Ramadan said the four HIV-positive defendants were shocked by their convictions.

"Two of them cried, screamed and shrieked," he said. "The other two, they remained silent, but I saw anger in their eyes for the injustice they have been exposed to."

Ramadan said he appealed the verdict to Egypt's Court of Cassation, the country's highest appellate court.

Dozens of human rights groups have criticized this trial and other similar ones as being driven by ignorance and fear of AIDS. They have warned that the convictions could undermine AIDS prevention in Egypt.

The five convicted Wednesday were among 12 people arrested in a sweep that began in October, when police arrested a man during an altercation with another man on a Cairo street, Human Rights Watch said.

After one of the men said he was HIV-positive, authorities opened investigations into other men whose names or contact information were uncovered in interrogations of the first group of men, Human Rights Watch said.

Egyptian police have denied making any arrests because of a person's HIV condition.

In mid-January, four other HIV-positive men from the group of 12 were sentenced to one-year prison terms on similar charges of debauchery. Three others from the 12 were not prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One World * One Dream * Free Tibet

The world's attention has turned to China in anticipation of the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Beijing in 2008. This has reignited the passions of the Tibetan people for independence and had led to worldwide protests of China's policy/practices of occupation in Tibet.

Here is Reuters coverage of student protests in Beijing.

The Olympic Torch has started its journey around the world, which will culminate with lighting the large flame at the Opening Ceremony in Beijing this summer. It was blown out three times in France, and has been met with protests everywhere. The Free Tibet Torch and the Olympic torch are currently in San Francisco (the only stop for the Olympic torch in the US). The city Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to greet the Olympic torch with "alarm and protest."

Here is some news coverage of the protests all over SF in response to the Torch. The organizers sneakily changed the route mid-way to avoid massive protests. However, protesters were all over the place and somewhat unavoidable.

Yesterday three activists climbed up the Golden Gate Bridge and unfurled banners and the Tibetan flag to show support for a free and independent Tibet. (There is no audio for this video)

This video shows the protesters climbing up.

Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Nicolas Sarcozy (the President of France) and others have called for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in support of the Tibetan cause.

The Olympics were originally intended to be a time when war and violence ceased, and everyone focused on nations coming together in friendly athletic competition. There have been some acts of violence or attempted violence directed at Olympians or teams for political reasons (such as the murders of the Israli team at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972). And there have been some Olympic hosts and participants whose countries commit war crimes, even while the games occur (not the least of which is our own US of A).

Are there some atrocities that cannot be ignored for the sake of the Games? Or is ending violence and oppression part of the spirit of the Olympics that is served by using the event to focus the world's attention on ending human rights abuses?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools!

And who's the fool who wears the crown?
No doubt,
In your own way
And every day is the right day
And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow
You look down, hear the sound of the faces in the crowd.
--Pink Floyd ("Fearless")

Monday, March 31, 2008

Who Are You? (check all that apply)

How did you find this blog?

Trauma and Recovery

Trauma and Recovery
by Judith Lewis Herman

Don't Hit My Mommy

Don't Hit My Mommy
by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn

Violence: A National Epidemic

Violence: A National Epidemic
by James Gilligan


Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
from the cover of "Infidel"