Friday, October 17, 2008

Journalism 042


Headsets.com announced today that it is planning to offer free cellphone headsets to anybody who sends them a copy of their traffic citation for making calls while driving.

At least a half dozen states have laws prohibiting people from driving while talking on and holding their cellphone.

2,600 people are killed each year and as many as 330,000 are injured because of cellphone-related driving accidents according to studies done by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

"I just feel compelled to try and do something about this tragedy," said Mike Faith, CEO and President of Headsets.com.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Journalism 041

Green Party, you've come so far...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Journalism 040

It's always curious what beloved little tokens of unsolicited information get bestowed upon the mailbox throughout the week. I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

1. Non-governmental organization SOS Children's Villages wrote to remind me that World Orphan Week is coming up on October 5th.

"More than 541,000 children in the U.S. and more than 133 million children worldwide are without parental care. And every 2.2 seconds, a child loses a parent," according to the group, which always says that less than 1% of these children are adopted worldwide every year.

SOS cares for over 70,000 orphans throughout the world.

2. Majon International writes to tell me about a new school called Holotopia Academy started this past summer on the island Punta Campanella, near Positano, in the Amalfi Coast, Italy, which is the place described by Homer in his Odyssey when Ulysses meets the sirens.

"Holotopia Academy's function is to create a worldwide-recognized meeting point for some of the most important thinkers, providing the best conditions for the production of art masterpieces as well as new scientific and philosophical theories and works," according to its website.

3. The Humane Society of the United States writes to tell me about its new website that it set up to assist journalists in writing about animal abuse throughout the nation. The site includes statistics, trends, links to state laws and penalties, cruelty demographics and analysis.

"Animal cruelty is a serious crime that degrades humans as well as animals. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a problem in your community right now, or soon. After all, these kinds of vicious attacks are happening in nearly every corner of the country nearly every day."

"However, since there is no federal reporting system for these crimes, journalists rarely get the opportunity to analyze animal cruelty’s prevalence. Sometimes the crush of news deadlines also makes it difficult to put these events into perspective."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Journalism 039



Fun Facts:

A recent GAO report on the state of affairs of the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort states that while "FEMA estimated in July 2008 that it had funded about 16,900 home demolitions, an estimated 6,100 homes remained to be demolished around the New Orleans area."

Three years later, and we're at the 73 percent benchmark...

And according to the McClatchy Washington D.C. bureau, the levees that encircle New Orleans, sheltering it from another such disaster, have been "substantially fortified", but will not be officially complete until 2011.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued the following today in a press release: "As a result of the Republicans’ failure to serve and protect the residents of the Gulf Coast, one of the top priorities of the New Direction Congress in 2007 was to enact a much-delayed Gulf Coast Recovery package. The Democratic-controlled Congress developed a $6.4 billion package to bolster the levees, restore coastlines, recruit teachers, open schools, provide health care, and assist small business. The President signed this critical bill in May 2007."

“While we have made progress in the last three years, we recognize that key needs remain in the Gulf Coast that must be addressed. House Democrats pledge to continue working with the region in a partnership to spur the economic recovery of the Gulf Coast region, fund innovative initiatives, and ensure that the basic needs of its residents are met."

Other fun facts:

Cindy Sheehan has formally endorsed the Green Party's presidential candidate, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), who is perhaps most notorious for punching a U.S. Capitol Police officer after he stopped her from bypassing the security line (which members of Congress are allowed to do) because he didn't recognize her.


And, the BBC tells us that our stimulus package has gone limp.

Also, they tell us how flies are so damn popular.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Journalism 038


In the International Crisis Group's July 10th report, Failed Responsibility: Iraqi Refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, I came across the following paragraph:

"Expected in 2003 with the war's onset, the crisis began two years later but was greater than anticipated. While initially welcoming their Iraqi brethren, Syria and Jordan soon put tough restrictions on entry. They provided few basic services and inadequate opportunities for jobs, health care and children's education. There is a real risk that with little to lose and nothing to look forward to, refugees could become radicalized."

This hit me on two sides because it takes a very human issue (people fleeing their home country) that has escalated to almost inhuman proportions (about 5 million Iraqi's have fled their homes to date) and then it almost permanently crosses the line to speaking on the issue purely in terms of numbers, which is a very real danger, because it is when suffering people are seen only in terms of their number that people allow themselves to stop caring.

But this so called radicalization that is mentioned in the ICG report does not occur to numbers, rather it happens within individuals for unique reasons. In dealing with crises of such proportion, it is vital to remember this.

So, what's the U.S. doing?


Courtesy of Congressional Quarterly, a la my roommate Mr. Mattingly:

Plan Advances for Iraqi Refugee Coordinator
By Phil Mattingly, CQ Staff

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would create a White House coordinator to oversee U.S. efforts to aid Iraqi refugees.

The committee approved the bill (HR6328) by voice vote. Sponsored by panel Chairman Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., it would create an ambassador-level position to coordinate the resettlement of Iraqi refugees.

An estimated 2 million refugees have been driven out of Iraq and another 2.7 million have been internally displaced since the United States invaded the country in 2003.

The U.S. government has been criticized for being slow to resettle Iraqis, particularly those who worked as drivers, translators and support workers for U.S. personnel. The State and Homeland Security departments have refugee coordinators, but advocates for the legislation say a higher-level effort is needed.

The latest war supplemental spending law (PL 110-252) included $696 million for refugee programs, much of which will go to Iraq and its neighbors. In fiscal 2007, 1,608 Iraqis settled in the United States, and the State Department plans to resettle 12,000 more Iraqis in fiscal 2008. A total of 45,200 Iraqis sought asylum in the United States in 2007.

A substitute amendment to the bill, adopted by voice vote, inserted text to require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide programs to address the psychosocial and medical needs of refugees resettled in the United States. It also would require the coordinator to consult with the Jordanian government to provide assistance to that country in dealing with Iraqi refugees.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Journalism 037


From Shah of Shahs, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, 1982


"A Shiite is, first of all, a rabid oppositionist. At first the Shiites were a small group of friends and backers of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed and husband of the Prophet's beloved daughter Fatima. When Mohammed died without a male hier and without clearly designating his successor, the Muslims began struggling over the Prophet's inheritance, over who would be caliph, or leaders of the believers in Allah and thus the most important person in the Islamic world. Ali's party (Shi'a means 'party') supports its leader for the position, maintaining that Ali is the sole representative of the Prophet's family, the father of Mohammed's two grandsons Hassan and Hussein. The Sunni Muslim majority, however, ignores the voices of the Shiites for twenty-four years and chooses Abu Bakr, Umar, and Utman as the next three caliphs. Ali finally becomes caliph, but his caliphate ends after five years, when an assassin splits his skull with a poisoned saber. Of Ali's two sons, Hassan will be poisoned and Hussein will fall in battle. The death of Ali's family deprives the Shiites of the chance to win power, which passes to the Sunni Omayyad, Abassid, and Ottoman dynasties. The caliphate, which Mohammed had conceived as a simple and modest institution, becomes a hereditary monarchy. In this situation the plebeian, pious, poverty-stricken Shiites, appalled by the nouveau-riche style of the victorious caliphs, go over to the opposition.

All this happens in the middle of the seventh century, but it has remained a living and passionately dwelt-on history to this day. When a devout Shiite talks about his faith he will constantly return to those remote histories and relate tearfully the massacre at Karbala in which Hussein has his head cut off. A skeptical, ironic European will think, God, what can any of that mean today? But is he expresses such thoughts aloud, he provokes anger and hatred of the Shiite.

The Shiites have indeed had a tragic fate, and the sense of tragedy, of the historical wrongs and misfortunes that accompany them, is encoded deep within their consciousness. The world contains communities for whom nothing has gone right for centuries--everything has slipped through their hands, and every ray of hope has faded as soon as it began to shine--these people seem to bear some sort of fatal brand. So it is with the Shiites. For this reason, perhaps they have an air or dead seriousness, of fervent unsettling adherence to their arguments and principles, and also (this is only an impression, of course) of sadness.

As soon as the Shiites (who constitute barely a tenth of all Muslims, the rest being Sunnis) go into opposition, the persecution begins. To this day they live the memory of the centuries of pogroms against them, and so they close themselves off in ghettos, use signals only they understand and devise conspiratorial forms of behavior. But the blows keep falling on their heads.

Gradually they start to look for safer places where they will have a better chance of survival. In those times of difficult and slow communication, in which distance and space constitute an efficient isolator, a separating wall, the Shiites try to move as far as possible from the center of power (which lies first in Damascus and later in Baghdad). They scatter throughout the world, across mountains and deserts, and descend step by step underground. So the Shiite diaspora, which has lasted till today, comes into being. The epic of the Shiites is full of acts of incredible adjuration, courage, and spiritual strength. A part of the wandering community heads east. Crossing the Tigris and the Euphrates, it passes through the mountains of Zagros and reaches the Iranian desert plateau.

At this time, Iran, exhausted and laid waste by centuries of war with Byzantium, has been conquered by Arabs who are spreading the new faith, Islam. This process is going on slowly, amid continual fighting. Until now the Iranians have had an official religion, Zoroastrianism, related to the ruling Sassanid dynasty. Now comes the attempt to impose upon them another official religion, associated with a new and, what's more, a foreign regime--Sunni Islam. It seems like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

But exactly at this moment the poor, exhausted, wretched Shiites, still bearing the visible traces of the Gehenna they have lived through, appear. The Iranians discover that these Shiites are Muslims and, additionally (as they claim), the only legitimate Muslims, the only preservers of a pure faith for which they are ready to give their lives. Well, fine, say the Iranians--but what about your Arab brothers who have conquered us? Brothers? cry the outraged Shiites. Those Arabs are Sunnis, usurpers and our persecutors. They murdered Ali and seized power. No, we don't acknowledge them. We are in opposition! Having made this proclamation, the Shiites ask if they might rest after their long journey and request a jug of cold water.

This pronouncement by the barefoot newcomers sets the Iranians thinking along important lines. You can be a Muslim without being an establishment Muslim. What's more, you can be an opposition Muslim! And that makes you an even better Muslim! They feel empathy for these poor, wronged Shiites. At this moment the Iranians themselves are poor and feel wronged. They have been ruined by war, and an invader controls their country. So they quickly find a common language with these exiles who are looking for shelter and counting on their hospitality. The Iranians begin to listen to the Shiite preachers and finally accept their faith."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Journalism 036

I had the pleasure to witness Mr. Roger Mudd speak at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Mudd was walking around his recently published book, The Place To Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News.

Mudd started reporting in Richmond, Virginia at the now defunct Richmond News Leader, but soon moved up to Washington D.C. and began working in television and radio. At 33, CBS snatched him up and didn't let him go until almost 20 years later.

Mudd has won more than a half dozen awards for his reporting and is considered to be one of the old school elite in broadcast news history. A look around the dandelion-capped room, and it's clear that his legacy lives on. I was the youngest person in attendance, by FAR, but as a journalist I believe we must know from whence we come to see where we are to go.

As journalism begins to find its footing on the shaky rocks of modernization, Mudd said he was optimistic that websites like Slate and the Huffington Post were being "well-edited and professional."

And while "there is a lot of junk" on the Internet as far as news and bloggery, he said, "the future is very bright and I think a sense of responsibility will grow."

Mudd said he can't really believe how television journalism has changed over the years.

"I can't focus on anybody anymore, there's a different person everyday," he said. "And there's no longer the call for hard news, it's all feature stuff...The reason they want so much feature time is because by the time 6:30pm comes, everybody already knows what has happened."

But, he said, news agencies are finding that features don't sell either and they're facing money crunches similar to the newspaper industry.

One show that is not facing financial hardship is the News Hour with (formerly the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour) on PBS where Mudd was an essayist and political correspondent from 1987 to 1992.

"On a scale of one to ten, vanity is very high in commercial networks, with Jim (Lehrer), it's about at a three," Mudd said.

Mudd was asked why Congress seemed so divided over the past several decades.

"A lot of it is due to the necessity to run (for election) again at all costs," he said, and elaborated that often the desire to publicize their disagreements is sexier than selling their ability to compromise.

Mudd was not a huge fan of journalism school but admitted their worth.

"I think they're very helpful, but don't think they're necessary," he said. "You can learn in one year at a paper, about as much as in journalism school."

On a high note, he ended with a sentiment I completely share.

"I don't know where we'd be without Public Radio," he said. "It embraces every kind of story you'd ever hope for. It's a treasure."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More than one month after I said I'd be done with said thesis, and I'm still not blogging. My apologies.

Please accept this posting as a token...of me.

Firstly, the thesis got itself an extension because advisers felt it was promising enough to broaden and refine towards a hopeful publishing. I will definitely keep all posted on the milestones of this progress.

And now...onwards.

Last week I had the good fortune to meet and interview Ms. Mariane Pearl, who in the course of our 12 minute interview managed to rekindle the inklings for why I first became so interested in journalism: to write to better the world and to reveal the goodness in this arena of media that is jaded by the belief that it doesn't sell if it doesn't bleed.

Ms. Pearl is a woman of incomparable strength and honesty.

"My husband having died as a journalist, I couldn’t just live as a journalist without having a purpose that was very clear to me. Breaking the news is not a purpose to me, and I make a very clear separation between the entertainment business and journalism."

"For me I had to define what would be worth it and I felt the one thing that I witnessed in the world is the need for hope. Nobody voices it, but it’s such a vital element that we need, we need it as much as we need oxygen."

Due to the nature of the Internet, I will not confess how this affected my career aspirations, but will suffice in saying that my current professional privileged position is part of a much larger puzzle, the pieces of which are to be many and angled in conspicuous ways.

And on that note, two websites that need to be read by more, more frequently:

ProPublica

Wikileaks

Also, if you haven't yet, you need to read or watch to Bill Moyers' keynote address at this year's National Conference for Media Reform. It exemplifies all that is good in journalism and all that needs to be heeded as the future beckons us forward.

I will leave you with this for now and shall return on a regular basis with more goodness for eyes that feast.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Personal 011



Got word that my thesis is due May 15th...til then, I wish you well.....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Poetry 011

Cently Saints

Too tired
To give proper advice
On how to properly cocoon myself
From the world’s ills,
Like star-gazing
A way
Through our own
Sewage treatment plants,
Potted in the soul
Of the soil of our parents’ turmoil,
As though the shell
Of a piece of popped corn
Was wedged betwixt teeth
Teeth that gnaw on self-evolution
Until they irritate the last piece of determination,
As if to say that by swallowing
Frequently enough,
The overbearing rivers of commitment
Could be restored to their proper levels of course,
Of course that would probably render obsolete
The skills of
Irrigation technicians, the habits put in place to ensure
Our emotions aren’t over-flooded too often,
Or at the very least, it would
Relinquish them to the once-upon-a-time realm
Of real, live, human, cubicle customer service agents,
Void in the void
Of our potential to outsource ourselves…
Can you imagine…
Hiring someone to evolve your own soul…
So that you can carry about with your day and not have to worry about such things.

Copyright Jordy Yager 2007

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Journalism 035

I saw the 35-member Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming Ensemble perform last week and it was amazing.

The word Taiko literally means “drum” in Japanese. Situated around these gigantuous drums, these miniature Bruce Lee’s pound their entire existence into these hides giving off a mountainous boom that echoed down the Kennedy Center.

While the ensemble was made up of girls and boys both, the girls did not drum, but rather danced what appeared to be a very traditional number, booked as invoking memories and feelings of Springtime (and yes, there was some rump-shaking, literally).



You can watch some of the video here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Personal 010


So, I couldn't decide whether to put this one under "Personal" or "Journalism", but eventually opted for the former...I'll let you be the judge.

Waiting for the Orange line train at the Smithsonian stop last night around 11:30pm, I sit down and begin to read an article on Virginia folks getting caught up in horrible pay-lender programs, when all of the sudden the pay phone next to me begins to ring. Yes, you remember pay phones, they used to populate the horizon like Reebok Pumps in Williamsburg...but sad to say the last phone booth in D.C. was taken down recently.

After two rings, I decided to pick it up.

"Yello?"

On the other end was a man's voice, probably around early 20's in age. He said:

"Hello, we're conducting a survey and are wondering if you could tell us how many obese people you see now in your Metro station."

I won't front. I looked around. Thought about answering seriously. Then, being the forever witty/corny person that I am, said:

"Slim to none."

"Well, you may not know what we mean. Do you see anyone who looks like they're having trouble walking?"

Pause. Then, he continued:

"They may be holding a cake."

"What kind of cake?" I ask.

"Usually a chocolate or maybe a wedding cake."

"Hmmmmm, what about a pound cake or an angel food cake?"

"No, not usually, usually chocolate," he said.

"Hmmm, well there's a guy carrying an angel food cake."

"Are there any others around him perhaps?"

At this point my train had arrived, so I said:

"Oh shit, he just fell, I gotta go!"

Click.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Journalism 034


Cone Orgy On Capitol Hill

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Journalism 033


Where: On the red line train this afternoon. Crowded, not too much, just enough to leave some people standing by the doors.

What: We stop at the Smithsonian stop. A seat opens up. Black guy, probably late teens, sits down. A few people get on the train, one of whom is a middle-aged white woman. The black teen waves at her very earnestly to get her attention. Once he has it, he asks, "Do you wanna sit?", pointing to his seat. She smiles and says, "Oh, no thank you." He insists, getting up, "Here," he says. "It's all yours." "Thank you so much, that's very kind of you," she says as she sits down next to a middle-aged black man, who turns to her, looks at her for a minute, then says, "Why you say you ain't wanna sit? You know you did." "I guess it's just a woman thing," she replied somewhat bashfully.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Journalism 032


BP saddled up to rival gas goliath Conoco Phillips to share the drivers seat on their next great adventure.

On Monday the two giants announced their plan to build a natural gas pipeline stretching all the way from Alaska to the lower 48 states -- a project they claim to be the largest in North American history with a distance of more than 2,000 miles and a bill of close to $30 billion.

“The BP-ConocoPhillips pipeline will bring vast amounts of both natural gas and economic opportunity to the lower 48, and that’s why I wish we could open it today instead of having to wait nine years for the construction," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Currently U.S. natural gas production remains relatively close to nil, while consumption is expected to grow over the course of this year by at least one percent.

“The United States has subsisted on the same gas supply levels for the last decade, and you can see it in the steadily rising cost of heating our homes," Barton said. "That might be even more expensive without the unfortunate 19 percent reduction by industrial gas users, reflected in closed plants and lost jobs. This new pipeline will counter both those unhappy trends by adding four billion cubic feet of gas per day to our supply, which is enough to fill six to eight percent of America’s daily requirement.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Journalism 031

I went to go hear Jonathan Kozol speak recently at Georgetown University. The excuse was his new book.

But the reason was that his job will never be done.

It was a young packed crowd and mostly women at that. Why is it that women dominate the teaching market?

But halt, lest I digress on the subject of gender, before I digress amongst the topic of race first.

The 71-year old Kozol opened the evening by paying homage to a man he said has "influenced me more than any other teacher." A man who taught him to wear bright blue shoes with the one suit he owns. Mr. Rogers.

Kozol has been known to be the ultimate composer and tapper-into-er of liberal guilt, and most commonly, white liberal guilt: the notion that because of whatever degree of privilege you are afforded in this life (educational, financial, racial, etc.), there is a degree of guilt that finds itself in your back pocket for the times when you sit too long on the indignities and injustices served to too many in our society.

It's an interesting concept, because on the one hand you could totally argue that change is born out of this sense of liberal guilt. But on the other hand you could argue that these are faulty nether-regions for change to spring from, because they're operating from the basis of entitlement and not from the vantage point of empowerment. But then, where do reasonably well-off white teachers fall into this spectrum when they find themselves teaching 20+ class sizes of brown to black harbingers of our future? Does it not smirk of liberal guilt (even if that is not the lived reality for the teacher themselves) but also of empowerment?

Kozol argues that America's public schools most recently began to flirt with peril when a corporate model was initiated as the platform for how to view students. An 8-year old black girl all of a sudden became a product that will, if taught accordingly by her public school teacher, ultimately become a producing and consuming member of society. In Kozol's words, a student's value began to "lie in economic turnout rather than who they were as a person."

He spoke of a school in Columbus, Ohio, a kindergarten, which, no joke, had as its mission statement:

"To turn out products to sharpen America's edge in the global marketplace."

A kindergarten!

And pretty soon, school principals were being referred to as school CEO's. No bullshit.

According to Kozol, almost 50% of new teachers, cease and dismiss with their new careers three years in. Their reason? Well, let's just say that it's almost never the kids or the parents of the kids.

"One of my appointed roles in life is to provide remedial services to elected officials," Kozol said.

One of the most poignant moments of the night came when Kozol described the process of discovering the most precious thing a teacher can discover in their student: a motivating factor.

Now, schools have curriculum cops, he said, who go from classroom to classroom unannounced, checking to see if the teacher is at the appropriate place in the day's curriculum for the corresponding hour. That's right, they have to adhere to such a strict time line that a teacher can only dream of letting a student digress for five minutes about his trip fishing down at a peer in Brooklyn with his Uncle over the weekend.

"Kids are professionals at subverting lesson plans," Kozol said.

It's at the very end of the telling of such a story that the teacher may be able to glimpse that little nugget of semblance that remains hidden so often underneath the masks children tend to establish during those years.

"Sometimes at the end of all those 'and's and 'but's' teacher's can find the hidden treasure, the secret motivation of a child's soul," Kozol said.

SO much of Kozol's painted world uses colors from the white and black neighborhoods of the colorwheel only.

But during the question and answer session, a young black woman who grew up on the Upper West side of Manhattan and had gone to a nice expensive school, stood up after much anticipation and asked the very exquisite question, that perhaps only she, a black well-to-do woman, could effectively ask:

"Don't you think that it's more of a socio-economic factor than it is a factor of race?"

For whatever reason, Kozol stumbled and rambled around his answer to this question like a drunk who drops his change and swerves and hovers above it trying to pick it up, which is to say, I think he did actually have an answer to her question, somewhere in him, but for whatever reason, he didn't let it come out.

But damn, what a fine question. And so, I leave you with that.

And a parting note from Mr. Kozol:

"I am optimistic though, because if I wasn't I would die of despair," Kozol said.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Personal 007


Yay!

I have readers!

I'll take all two of em and smother them, and love them, and hug them with lots of crafty journalism and poetry and me-ness.

Onwards, forwards, continue the renaissance.

P.S. I now smoke a pipe...no bullshit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Personal 006

I don't even know if anyone reads this here blog anymore.

But in the event that some lone person out there does. It's on again. Sorry. I momentarily got overwhelmed with my new found employment amongst a slew of other things.

Excuses aside.
Chances still need to be taken.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Poetry 010

The Causes
by Jorge Luis Borges

The sunsets and generations.
The days and none was the first.
The coolness of water in Adam's
throat. Orderly Paradise.
The eye deciphering the dark.
The love of wolves at dawn.
The word. The hexameter. The mirror.
The Tower of Babel and pride.
The moon that Chaldeans gazed at.
The unnumbered sands of the Ganges.
Chuang-Tzu and the butterfly that dreams him.
The golden apples on the islands.
The steps in the wandering labyrinth.
Penelope's infinite tapestry.
The Stoics' circular time.
The coin in the dead man's mouth.
The weight of the sword on the scale.
Each drop of water in the clepsydra.
The eagles, the auspicious days, the legions.
Caesar on the morning of Pharsalia.
The shadow of the crosses over the earth.
The chess and algebra of the Persian.
The footprints of long migrations.
The conquest of kingdoms by the sword.
The relentless compass. The open sea.
The clock's echo in memory.
The king beheaded by the ax.
The incalculable dust which was armies.
The nightingale's voice in Denmark.
The calligrapher's meticulous line.
The face of the suicidal one in the mirror.
The gambler's card. Avid gold.
The shapes of a cloud in the desert.
Every arabesque in the kaleidoscope.
Each regret and each tear.
All those things were necessary
so that our hands would meet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Journalism 030


Ah, the wonderful world of Washington lobbying.

Carol A. Kelly was named last week to the position of Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year. Kelly will join NACDS in January.

The NACDS consists of nearly 200 chain community pharmacy companies. Collectively, chain community pharmacy comprises the largest component of pharmacy practice with about 114,000 pharmacists.

The NACDS membership base operates more than 37,000 retail community pharmacies with annual sales totaling nearly $700 billion, including $221 billion in sales for prescription medicines , over-the-counter (OTC) medications and health and beauty aids (HBA). Chain-operated community retail pharmacies fill over 70% of the more than 3.3 billion prescriptions dispensed annually in the United States

Kelly currently serves as Senior Executive Advisor of External Affairs to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Michael O. Leavitt where she dealt with health insurance access, value-driven health care, and health information technology. She served as the main HHS liaison to the White House Office of Public Liaison and to the Partnership for Value-driven Health Care, an employer health care reform coalition.

NACDS's mission statement reads in part:

"Creating a favorable political and business climate in which NACDS member companies can carry out their business plans. Developing and promoting policies and programs aimed at improving merchandise distribution and retail operations efficiency."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poetry 009

Spiritual Antenna

Twilight emerges
With a flame-retardant umbrella,
In preparation for the shower,
Sure to commence,
Like 9-month bellies,
Full of assurance
As though stockbrokers
Were only as big as the subway they rode in on,
Strap-hanging on the livelihood of gravity,
Because miracles are tickled
On the roofs of the mouths
Of hot pan fiddlers
Trying to string together their version
Of the moon’s landing.

Sacrilege, like the sacrosanct methods
Of dollar-tippers for 50-cent freestyle strippers,
It keeps Sam Cookeing change
On the backburner of the second-coming,
Gonna pop nickels like collars
And massage grandfather time’s throat
Until he can’t help but swallow
Next year’s design,
Like next year’s line
To get into the racetrack;
My money’s on the fastest fantasy to burn
Solely off of advertising embers,
Etched in the memory of Vishnu’s TV Guide,
Like a climb to the world’s tallest spiritual antenna.


Copyright 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Journalism 028



On Wednesday, October 10, I went to the Velvet Lounge for a night of music in honor of Danny Pearl. The venue was such that there were maybe 40 people there, but it felt as though you were in a packed "living room", to quote one of the other guests. And adding to the intimate feel, was the fact that aside from recognizing a few people from the L.A. Times D.C. bureau, I didn't know anyone there, but most knew each other, whether from the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, the L.A. Times or the Washington Post, which granted me that fly-on-the-wall position. Sort of a glimpse into 20 years from now, the insiders club that I'll perhaps be fortunate enough to be a part of.

The bands were so-so, with one exception, which was really why everyone seemed to have shown up: Bryan Gruley who worked with Danny at the WSJ.

A pregnant friend of Danny's was overdue and getting pretty worried about her soon-to-be born son's health. So, Danny wrote a song called, "The World's Not Such a Bad Place," which was Danny's (who played the fiddle) way of saying, don't worry, come on out, it's going to be alright.

So, Gruley wrote a song for Danny's son, Adam, who was still in Mariane's belly when Danny was killed. Gruley precluded the song, "For a Son", with the meditation: would Danny still feel the same about the world?

In between songs, Gruley shared stories of his relationship with Danny. The following brought tears to my eyes:

It was 1995. Gruley had just gotten hired by the WSJ in Chicago, where Danny worked. So, Danny, being the gentle-hearted soul that he was, took the time to show him the ropes and get him more comfortable with his surrounding. And then about two weeks into his new job, Gruley gets the most coveted thing a reporter can get: a scoop. And it's a good scoop too, a really good one, about an unexpected, unannounced merger. And as it turns out Danny and a New York-based reporter were working on separate stories that tied right in with Gruley's. So Danny told Gruley to write up seven or eight paragraphs and then send it over to him, which he did, and then Danny wrote his and the NY reporter contributed his.

And the next morning, Gruley goes out front and picks up the paper, opens it up, and looks at their article...the byline read: Bryan Gruley. That's it. Danny had conferred with the NY reporter and told him that this first big byline for Gruley meant more for him who was just starting out, then it ever could for either of them.

That's who Danny is.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Journalism 027


On Saturday, September 15th I covered the protests of the Iraq war protests in Washington D.C.




I spent the greater part of the day covering the pro-war rally, organized by the group: Gathering of Eagles [GOE]. There were about a thousand people gathered along the National Mall sweating, chanting "U-S-A" periodically and waving American flags.


I met a 21-year old man named Jake Altman, from Tampa, Florida who had been stationed in Iraq in the 9th engineers for less than six months when he had his right hand and forearm blown off by an explosively formed penetrator [EFP]. He had just gotten his new prosthetic arm about a week before I met him and was still undergoing physical therapy at Walter Reed hospital. He said he wanted to go back to Iraq.


Andrius Vaitekunas, 28, from Warrenton, Virginia.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Journalism 026


Last Thursday night, I was one of approximately 40 people who heard Anita Thompson speak at Olsson's bookstore here in D.C. For those who aren't familiar with her, she was married to Hunter S. Thompson for just under two years. Anita, 35 years his junior was there to read from her book, The Gonzo Way, which pays tribute to her husband who took his life on February 20, 2005. They started to write and outline the book together as a work of humor, once carrying the tentative title, "A Woman's Guide to Hunter S. Thompson".

Shelby Sadler, Hunter's editor for many years was in the front row. Anita described her as "this century's closest thing to Lord Henry". Richard Cusick, former editor of High Times, and Keith Straub, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, were standing in the back.

Anita and Hunter began the book with the intention to dispel "the impression that if you did a lot coke and drank a lot of wild turkey, you too could write like Hunter S. Thompson. He put a lot of thought and a lot of work" into every piece. Their collaboration was a rarity, with one of the finest exceptions being, The Lion and the Cadillac, a response to the work of Jack Kerouac.

Anita stood at a podium in the midst of the Children books section, with two books in particular facing out to the audience, for no intended reason, that's just how the shelves were situated that day. Titanic and Jokelopedia. They seem to do a decent job at summing up Hunter's life. Compelled by the freedom to laugh and fly high and tromp through the world with his funny bone always left intentionally exposed. But there was also the impending doom, and not just any doom, but one that when it came upon him, was catastrophic beyond compare. The pendulum.

She began by raising one of Hunter's favorite topics, that of "fear". While Jack Kerouac and Hunter did not have an especially close friendship, she said, they shared an understanding and need for freedom and found that freedom through writing, "the only profession you can do what you want and make a living." As she described it, Hunter always thought of fear as the anti-freedom and security as the opposite of freedom. His classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was "a 300 page argument for freedom in the face of fear," she said. She then opened the floor for questions, ending with, "My life is the polar opposite of safe, and I love it."

The first question came from a young man who had briefly interviewed Hunter some years ago and recalled that when asked about his feeling towards Kerouac, Hunter replied, "He's a drunken asshole!...but he taught me how to get away with it."

In the 1970's Hunter launched into the national spotlight with his Rolling Stone articles. He chose the magazine, not because he had any special affinity for it as a publication, but because he saw it as the best conduit to reach America's “very powerful voting block," according to Anita. When asked about Hunter's lengthy hiatus from writing, Anita said, "He did take a long breath, didn't he.” When Hunter did eventually come back to writing articles, he chose ESPN for the exact same reason, he could reach a core chunk of America.

Hunter never gave up on America, no matter how bad the times seemed. "Don't mistake anger for pessimism," she said. He thought "people could do a lot more, and I think he's right." Adding, "He was a bedrock patriot. He loved his country."

Hunter would write for 17-18 hours straight when he was younger, Anita said. "First and foremost, he was a writer." He would start his day with a routine, which served as a meditation of sorts for him to help get the blood flowing. He would eat elaborate breakfasts with cornbeef hash, eggs, orange juice, chivas on the rocks, grapefruit juice and coffee. And then he would dive into his "input", newspapers, television, which remained on, day and night, phone calls, which would continue all day long. Then around 10pm he would start writing, with his best writing coming between the hours of 2am and 4am or 2am and 6am, which was perfect because his ESPN deadline was at 8am. Regarding deadlines, Hunter would say, "Drugs no excuse, booze no excuse." A deadline is a deadline. So, Anita would take his typewriter-written copy, transcribe it and send it on, via email. Hunter resisted technology, even an electronic typewriter, because he thought, "it would speed it (the writing process) up, he would think less, and crap would come out. And he liked the idea of an original manuscript."

One of the only modernizations Hunter used was the fax machine. "He had a deep affection and appreciation for Keith Richards," Anita said. It was to Richards that Hunter could send the craziest, most beautiful and interesting faxes and he would actually understand it.

When asked about modern personages who Hunter appreciated, Anita responded that he like Eminem for his "courage" and he would listen to Dolly Parton's Silver Dagger over and over.

"Hunter didn't want anyone to act like anyone else, which is why he never recommended his lifestyle to anyone else," she said.

When Anita first met Hunter, she didn’t really know who he was. "He was just a guy I had a crush on. I didn't know his work. I just knew that he knew a lot about football and was a writer."

About Woody Creek, where the couple lived, she said to come visit and you would "see why he didn't like to travel much." And that he realized that "he could reach more people is he stayed at home and worked."

Then I asked her a question: "Aside from the writing process, what do you think you taught Hunter?"

She paused, smiled the kind of slow, corner of the mouth twitch that turns into a grin smile, the type where you can tell someone's gone back into a museum of memories, and then she said, "Nobody's ever asked me that." She said she helped him keep his curiosity alive and keep the fun in his life. She said he would always say that he was "a teenage girl trapped in the body of an elderly dope fiend." And she said that she steadily reminded him that he was a writer and that writer's were supposed to write.

She said Hunter appreciated excellence, and it didn't matter what it was you were excellent at. He liked to surround himself with the best criminals, the best writers, the best cops, just so long as you exhibited excellence in what you did.

"He said, everyone fumbles, it just matters if you recover," she said.

His life was based on love. While she doesn't agree with his decision, she believes that it was out of love that he took his life. Hunter had been talking about suicide since he was 22-years old, his favorite age.



All quotes are from Anita Thompson.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Journalism 025

The U.S. Geological Society reported last week that within the next 50 years, 2/3 of all polar bears could die if ice continues to melt in the Artic region.

Also earlier in the week, Roll Call reporter Tory Newmyer wrote an interesting article about the role the polar bear could play in the global warming debate. The piece suggests that if the polar bear was placed on an endangered list, with global warming as their number one enemy, it would give advocates of laws curbing global warming, more leverage.

The part of this that I find fascinating is, if it takes polar bears to get us to care about our future, what does that say about us? In other words: Global warming could make us extinct: fine. Global warming could make polar bears extinct: oh shit!

Personal 005

So, 45 years later, Jordy begins to update his blog again...This time writing from our nation's capital. That's right. I moved down here from the grand ole Beantown a couple of weeks ago and have since started writing as a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader. And I started interning with the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times. I'm living two blocks from the zoo, which I think normally I have a disagreement with [animals being held in captivity and all] but here are its two redeeming points, 1. something like 90% of the animals there, were born there, so they would pretty much be screwed if they were let loose. 2. it's free. And I'm slowly discovering the city. Planning on going to a book reading/discussion tonight with Anita Thompson, Hunter S.'s wife. I was going to continue to write about all the things that I'm going to be doing, but then I remembered...I'm going to be updating this here blog with all of that, much more frequently. So, stay tuned.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Journalism 024

Last week I helped WBUR reporter Andrea Shay with a story on elementary school art education as taught through VTS, or Visual Teaching Strategies.

The concept is basically one that allows children to make their own connections with artwork before being taught the historical signifigance.

Here is my favorite excerpt:

Teacher:
Okay, what’s going on in this picture? Jeremy.

Jeremy:
Um, it looks like, the person is like, choking the horse.

Teacher:
Which person?

Jeremy:
The first person.

Teacher:
Okay so there’s this person right here on this first horse, and you said it looks like he’s choking the horse?

Jeremy:
Yeah

Teacher:
What do you see that makes you say that?

Jeremy:
Because he has something around his neck

Teacher:
Okay, so we’re noticing that around the horse’s neck, there seems to be, are you talking about that white sort of string part?

Jeremy:
Mmm,hm.

Teacher:

And you think that maybe that person might be hurting the horse in a way?

Jeremy:
Yes

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Journalism 023



Last week I created a map of the homicides in Boston so far this year. I will update it as needed.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Journalism 022

Severe weather conditions across Europe have claimed at least 44 lives in recent days.

Due to temperatures reaching up to 115F:

*Greece - two people died

*Romania - six people died, bringing the country's heat wave death toll to 29.

*Turkey - a man collapsed on a beach and later died as temperatures there reached 111F.

In Turkey the governor of Istanbul said pregnant and disabled public servants would be given days off on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Greek government has ordered all public offices to close at midday on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow people to stay out of the sun.

*Firefighters in Italy battled to bring 30 forest fires sparked by the heat wave under control, with their efforts frustrated by strong winds.

Meteorologists said temperatures could hit 104F in the Romanian capital Bucharest this week, the highest level in 90 years.

Due to extreme rains and floods:

*England - three people died and about 250 northern county residents were evacuated.

*Bulgaria - three people drowned seeking respite from extreme temperatures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Journalism 021


A 38-year old Iowan woman, Suzanne Marie Butts, was charged last week with three counts of fifth-degree theft.

Butts was at the Marshall county courthouse for an unrelated charge, when employees reportedly saw her taking three rolls of two-ply toilet paper from a storage closet in the women's bathroom.

Police confronted Butts outside the courthouse as she attempted to smuggle away the toilet paper under her shirt.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Journalism 020

Gay and lesbian rights advocates won out yesterday at the Statehouse in Boston.

The Legislature voted 151-45 in favor of disallowing a public vote on an amendment, which would ban the now-legal option of same-sex marriage.

Gov. Deval Patrick and other top lawmakers on Beacon Hill were a driving force in thwarting the amendment.
In Dallas, mayoral elections will be held tomorrow between Democratic candidate Ed Oakley and nonpartisan candidate Tom Leppert.

Oakley, if elected would be the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Journalism 019


In Australia, Queensland officials are forcing "habitual spitters" to wear "spit nets" in an attempt to deter them from spitting on police officers, according to The Australian.

The nets are similar to the headgear worn by beekeepers and would be disposable, one-time use items.

There were 222 spitting incidents in Australian watch-houses (detention centers), between October 2005 and October 2006.

Personal 003

Wow...so I don't know how many readers of this there actually are, but regardless, I feel semi-guilty for not attending to such beautiful matters as this here blog for over a month now...yikes. I've been traveling over the past three weeks, up and down the east coast and have officially finished my first year of journalism school. I also started my summer internship at WBUR, the local NPR radio station here in Boston. I'm in the newscasting department as of now, but am slated to move to the online department in the next couple of weeks.

So much has been happening in the world and yet for some reason I can't seem to shake the feeling that this is the quiet frontier that is about to burst full of revolutionary gunfire...and no, I'm not even referring to the U.S. presidential election more than a year away...

All I'm saying is...Paris Hilton and James Galdofini...for real? Is that where we're at right now?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Poetry 008

Asked of four student poets at the Illinois Schools for the Deaf and Visually Impaired:

If you could write one great poem, what would you want it to be about?

Fire: because it is quick, and can destroy.
Music: place where anger has its place.
Romantic Love--the cold or stupid ask why.
Sign: that it is a language, full of grace,

That it is visible, invisible, dark and clear,
That it is loud and noiseless and is contained
Inside a body and explodes in air
Out of a body to conquer from the mind.

---Robert Pinsky

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Journalism 018

Rail Line Moves Forward
By Jordy Yager

While regional legislators are excited about the commuter rail plan revealed this week for New Bedford-Fall River, Rep. Jim Fagan, D-Taunton, remains skeptical that the ambitious plan will finally happen.

Gov. Deval Patrick unveiled a 10-to-12-year plan Wednesday that would extend the Providence/Stoughton commuter line from Stoughton to New Bedford-Fall River.

“When they put a timeline on it that extends beyond what it takes to graduate high school and college, then I wonder how much hope there is to get it finished,” Fagan said.

Former governors, William Weld and Mitt Romney, both proposed extending the rail line while they were in office, but failed to pursue it. Other local lawmakers say there is a difference with the Patrick proposal.

“For the first time we have a governor that’s put together a step-by-step plan for how we’re going to begin and how we’re going to end,” said Rep. Stephen Canessa, D-New Bedford.

Although the governor’s proposal is the most realistic that Fagan has seen yet, the commonwealth is facing a $1.3 billion budget deficit, which makes funding the rail extension difficult.

“The $1.4 billion that the governor proposed is probably what it will actually cost,” Fagan said. “But while we talk all this talk, talk is cheap, trains are expensive.”

Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, agrees that while Patrick’s plan is feasible, a way of paying for the rail line still needs to be solidified.

“The big question that remains and will remain is funding. We’ve got to find new sources of revenue,” he said.

Rep. John Quinn, who was at UMASS-Dartmouth when Gov. Patrick released his proposal, views the costs as a long-term investment.

“He said something today that I think was very appropriate, that we can’t afford not to do this with the ten’s of thousands of jobs that will come out of this,” said Quinn, a Democrat from Dartmouth. “It’s a money-maker that will pay the bills.”

Rep. Cabral also sees the line extension as an asset to Taunton, which will have two rail stations.

“When you improve transportation infrastructure, you see a spike in economic development,” Rep. Cabral said. “Taunton will be one of the biggest benefactors in the development of this line.”

Over the next three years, the state will put $17 million towards the initial costs, such as gaining permits and construction designs. The state has until Jan. 1, 2010 to come up with a comprehensive financial plan.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good initial start,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Poetry 007



"Poetry describes, enacts, is compelled by those moments of supreme passion, insight, or knowledge that are physical yet intuitive, that render us whole, inspired. Among verbal events---which by their nature move horizontally, through time, along the lines of cause and effect---poetry tends to leap, to try to move more vertically: astonishment, rapture, vertigo---the seduction of the infinite and the abyss---what so much of it is after."

---Jorie Graham

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Monday, April 2, 2007

Poetry 006


"In the States there has been an unfortunate division between narrative poetry and lyric poetry; frankly, I've never felt that much of a difference. A good poem usually has both. A lyric may not have a traditional narrative line, but it all depends on what you define as story. Even a leaf falling from a tree is a pretty dramatic story...to the leaf."

---Rita Dove

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Journalism 016

Today is World Water Day. The theme this year is "Coping with water scarcity".

Americans enjoy the privilege of having reasonably sanitary tap water at our beck-and-call for free. So today some restaurants in New York City are giving patrons the option to donate $1 for such tap water, the proceeds of which will go to UNICEF's Tap Project, which provides children throughout the world with safe drinking water.

More than 1.6 million people die every year due to lack of access to sanitary water, most of whom are children under the age of 5, said Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization today.


Massachusetts has one of the best drinking water treatment systems in America. So maybe that accounts for why when I contacted state Sen. Pamela Resor, D-Acton, who is chairwoman of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture committee, she was unaware that today was World Water Day. As was the Department of Public Works in Brockton, MA.

The day was initiated in Brazil at a UN conference on environment and development in 1992.


Friday, March 9, 2007

Journalism 015

On Thursday, Reuters reported that about 325 U.S. Law Enforcement officials were in the second day of "Operation Vigilant Sentry" training exercises in Miami, which teaches officers to thwart possible illegal migration attempts, when two boatloads of migrating Cubans landed on a nudist beach miles away, and went undetected.

Under the U.S. "wet-feet, dry-feet " policy, the Cubans will legally be granted asylum.


The training exercises were enacting the possible exodus that some have imagined when Fidel Castro dies.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Poetry 005


Tonight,
The most magnificent of muses
Entered the subway of my life's trepidaton,
A series of tongue twisted dwarves
That guide umbilical beliefs
Into the gutters of human disparity.

And yet I'm left
Requesting rights
That have yet to arise
Upon the tastebuds of tangled tyrants,
Twisted beyond illusion,
In an attempt to gentrify
A never-ending phoenix,
Shooting hope in between the toes
Of bed-ridden angels,
Whose wings no longer perspire or aspire
To the ancestral heights
That came before them,

Sharpening talons, instead, hourly
To ensure some form of engraved bedrock.

Copyright 2007 Jordy Yager

Monday, March 5, 2007

Journalism 014



It's not a bad theory, take a little bit over a long period versus alot in a short period.

But it didn't work for Robert Gibson, 69, who is being accused by MBTA Transit Police of stealing more than $40,000 in coins and tokens, while working as an electrician on vending and collection equipment.

Gibson worked for the MBTA for 20 years and just retired last October. Police paid a visit to his home in Revere, Ma. over the weekend and carried out 17 five-gallon plastic drums filled with tokens and coins in paper bags.

The MBTA switched last year from tokens to the electronic Charlie Card and perhaps if it hadn't, Gibson would be a richer man. He was recently caught on surveillance cameras depositing at least $3,500 in tokens and putting it onto 45 CharlieCards. I mean, maybe he just really liked to take public transportation.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Journalism 013

"This is all a chess game, and we're trying to stay far enough ahead in it," said U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano last Wednesday.

Capuano
(D-Ma), in his fifth term as Congressman, held a question and answer session with about 50 Brighton community members at the local Veronica Smith Multi-Service Senior Center. He began with a 20 minute statement outlining his anger with the Bush administration and its decision to invade Iraq, which he has opposed since day one.

"Every single minute the Bush administration has been in power, they've borrowed almost $1 million. Every minute," he said.

A self proclaimed "social liberal", Capuano, who has the build of a celebrity bodyguard, spoke on issues ranging from abortion to local property taxes. He gave audience members a chance to ask their question but cut them short if they tried to ask another in response to his answer, clarifying that this was not in fact a debate session, but instead an opportunity for him to give his opinion and his stance.

On Cuba:
"The Cuban embargo isn't going to last much longer, once Castro dies."

On Venezuela:
"Venezuela is not that large of an oil producer."
Ummm...the Energy Information Administration ranks Venezuela as the eighth largest oil producer in the world...that's kinda big.

On D.C. politics:
"I'm good at persuading my colleagues to drink the water that they're looking at."

On gay marriage:
Capuano is 100% for gay marriage saying that since Massachusetts has allowed same sex civil unions it hasn't interfered with his life in any way. He's been with his wife for 34 years and he hasn't switched teams.

On Sudan:
"I'm one of the only Congressmen to call for U.S. military to go into Sudan."

On abortion rights:
"It's a choice between me and my wife and our God." Capuano said that he doesn't feel that it's right to impose his own personal choices on anybody else. To which the female audience member who had posed the question and was sitting next to a sign that read--
'It's a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" interjected and said, "But you're willing to impose your choice on Sudan." Capuano again emphasized that it was not a debate.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Journalism 012


First there were green homes, then came along green burials and now we have green tours...well, kind of.

As Naoki Schwartz reported today for the AP, the non-profit, Communities for a Better Environment has started offering
a "Toxic Tour" that meanders through Los Angeles' oil refineries, brownfields and chemical sites.

Like any good tour, it's the stories that accompany the scenery that really make it impactful.
The stories of affected community members are shared along the tour as a grisly reminder that the money-makers don't always like to be held accountable for the pollution, death and disease that they expound.

From the AP:

"The big thing with the tours is to put a human face on this," said Bill Gallegos, executive director of CBE.

The next stop (on the tour) is Tweedy Elementary School in South Gate, where an accidental release of chlorine gas in 1986 from a nearby factory sent 76 people, including three dozen children, to hospitals to treat nausea, respiratory and eye problems.

Tomothy Malloy, co-director of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA, takes students on the tour to reinforce classroom lessons on pollution.

"What really drove it home for the students," Malloy said, "is we were standing at the end of a cul-de-sac with these small homes, and they were looking across a property and could see the emissions we were talking about."