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Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Chidren of the Fog.

A ghostly Twist to a kidnapping story.

The premise of the story immediately drew me in. After all, there are few things that are more terrifying than losing a loved one to a kidnapper. In the case of Tardif’s novel, it’s Sadie O’Connell’s son, Sam, who's whisked away in the middle of the night, with very few clues that are left behind. Besides the main plot that involves the kidnapping, is the interesting back story of corruption and betrayal that Tardif excellently pulled off, keeping it strong enough to maintain the flow where similar stories may drag. I won’t write anything else about the story at the risk of spoiling it. But all in all, it’s a moving, edge-of-your-seat suspense with a ghostly twist, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the end.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

“I was suspended from school for reporting my rapist. I guess he was the victim.”

I felt nothing but shock-and-awe when I first learned about this story. So many times a victim of harassment or discrimination will not be taken seriously by the proper officials. Such as the case of a seventh grade special-needs student, who got the ultimate slap in the face when the Republic School District in Springfield, Missouri, suspended her even though she made a legitimate complaint. Furthermore they forced her to write a letter of apology and hand-deliver it to her attacker. Unfortunately for the seventh grader, she backed down the first time and suffered the consequences for it. However, when she returned to school the following school year, she was attacked and raped a second time by the same boy. This time she fought back, and she had enough evidence to prove that in addition to being raped, school officials were negligent in investigating the matter properly. The student illustrated one important fact of being a victim of abuse: When you back down, your abusers win. When you fight back (the right way) you can defeat an army.

Former CIA covert operative,
Valerie Plame Wilson.
Fighting back against an aggressor will be exhausting. In many cases, very expensive, if you consider lawyer fees and court costs. Many may recall former CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, who fought back against White House officials after she was outed as a covert operative by I “Scooter” Libby and other members of George W. Bush’s White House staff. Settling out of court would have been the easy way out for both of them, but it certainly would not have brought accountability to those responsible for putting her life—as well as members of her family and international contacts—in danger. She chose to grab the bull by the horns and she went public. As a result, “Scooter” Libby was indicted and was imprisoned. Although other White House officials escaped prison time, their reputations were tarnished. This was certainly a much better outcome than had she settled out of court.

As for the seventh grader, she not 
only had to confront her rapist, but also an incompetent school administration that chose to protect him rather than be fair and impartial. It’s a shame that the victim did not go to the police the first time so that a rape kit could be put together. It may have saved her a lot of time and heartache. Even though the rapist—after he was shown the evidence against him for his latest attack—admitted that he had raped her, school officials still had the nerve to claim that the girl brought her problems on herself. As my lawyer once told me, “Sometimes the best defence is an offence.” I would hope that this girl does not settle out of court. Instead she ought to drag each school official that acted negligently into court, and crush them for the snakes that they are.

Russell Brooks is the author of Pandora’s Succession.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beck, Schlessinger, and now Starkey: The New Foot-In-Mouth Epidemic.

Tensions were high in Great Britain as rioters took to the streets in North London and other English cities following the shooting death of a black man by police officers (1). However, since many of us have been spared the idiotic statements from ill-informed personalities such as Glenn Beck, comes along the so-called historian David Starkey from Great Britain. According to Starkey, black culture is linked to gangster culture. Appearing on BBC’s Newsnight, he claimed that: “The Whites have become black” (2). Starkey clearly showed no intention of taking both feet out of his mouth, as he clearly blamed black culture as having influenced bad behaviour among the majority of white youths who have propagated the riots. It was no surprise that he would not elaborate on the definition black and white culture, Starkey was flagrantly taking an offensive against blacks.

What made Starkey’s comments so insipid is the fact that as a historian, one would expect him to know about the Swing Riots in the summer of 1830 that occurred in southern England—his home country. These riots originated as a result of disputes between poor farmers and the wealthier counterparts that had more control over the land that they worked on (3). Although there weren’t any high-definition TVs and sneakers to loot, there was still widespread destruction of threshing machines, workhouses and tithebarns. I’ve yet to read up on how black culture would’ve influenced those riots, taking into consideration that the only blacks that would’ve been in England would have been purchased during the slave trade.

While on the topic of the slave trade, Britain, at the time, was a leader in the Atlantic Slave Trade that saw the transportation of Africans to the Americas. The only ones that made it to the British Isles were used as house servants. Those Africans would’ve been so few in numbers to have had an impact on British society. For several years, slavery has been and still is considered to be one of the most heinous and despicable atrocities ever commited in history. This was a case of human beings being treated as property, a property which was viewed with lesser value than the buildings that were destroyed a few days ago during the North London Riots.

Less we forget the News of The World Scandal that had most of the western world glued to their televisions and laptops, as media mogul Rupert Murdoch defended himself against British MPs—while amazingly dodging a cream pie—for his role in the cell phone hacking scandal that ultimately pissed off a lot of people (4). But of course, I’m sure Starkey will find a way to link black culture as being the root of that problem. Clearly, all News Of The World Execs and other staff must spend their free time listening to Gangsta Rap while sporting the latest bling.

During the interview, Starkey mentioned that black British MP, the Honourable David Lammy, does not sound black if one were to listen to him speak. Lammy, although born in Tottenham, England, was raised by his Guyanese mother. I fail to understand the importance of Starkey bringing up the sound of Lammy’s voice and how this relates to the topic at hand. According to Lammy, he attributed himself being raised by a single mother as to his reasons for advocating responsible parenting and for fathers to be more active in the lives of their children. It was neither a so-called black nor a white cultural thing (5). Out of curiosity, I tried the experiment. But instead of listening to Lammy with my eyes closed, I listened to Starkey. However, I’m proud to report that I wasn’t listening to the words of a Caucasian, but those of an idiot.

Russell Brooks is the author of the action/thriller, Pandora's Succession and Unsavory Delicacies.