local nationals

I told this story about refugees a couple years ago on Veteran’s Day with a humorous slant. I’m going to tell it again today, unfiltered.

Years ago, on my first deployment to Iraq, I befriended a local boy, Brahim, who would quickly become one of our interpreters. He was able to do so, because the turnover rate for local nationals work with us was enormous. And not because they quit, because they were killed.

Besides the money, we were able to get them to volunteer with us by promising them refugee status in the U.S. if they completed a tour. (But really, I think the chain of command knew that most interpreters wouldn’t make it through their contracts alive.)

Anyway, Brahmin would tell me about all the family members he lost in the conflict–brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, all of em. He told me how he lived in a one bedroom house with 7 people. No clean, power every other week because of the rolling blackouts, etc.

He told me how they did have the basic necessities most days and that him volunteering with us was one of their sole sources of income. One day, I went down to the PX and bought him $20, maybe $30 worth of toiletries. Nbd really. Just didn’t want dude to smell like shit.

When I presented it to him, he cried. Literally bawled his eyes out and said he give his life for me. OVER SOAP. Completely sobering. He spent the next year acting as our liaison, providing us with valuable intel, essentially saving our lives on a daily basis. At 16.

At the end of my tour in Iraq, I knew I was leaving him to die. I knew I’d never see him again. Was just kinda like “take care kid.”

Fast forward 5 years. And I’m flying home to Phoenix to bury my little brother who was brutally murdered. (Gun violence is another subject.)

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I cried my eyes out all the way from Hawaii to Arizona. Fucking brutal. Spend 6 years fighting wars and you don’t expect to get a phone call that your kid brother was randomly murdered in a carjacking. 

Anyway, I land in Arizona and it’s pouring. Hop off and walk down to the taxi stand. (Uber’s weren’t really a thing in 2013.)

I get in the first taxi that pulls up and we’re off. Driver starts to make the standard small talk. Where you from, what do you do, etc. I tell him I just got out of the military and blah blah. He says “oh great. I love the military. You ever travel anywhere?” Tell him, “Sure. Been to every corner of the globe. Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.” He says “Oh! I’m from Iraq! What part?”

I say “Kirkuk, mostly.” And he says “I’m from Kirkuk.” And then gets really fucking quiet. Like awkwardly quiet. Making me nervous quiet.  My first thought is I killed one of his family members and he recognizes me. And now I’m literally getting ready to bail out of the cab.

I see him staring at me in the rear view. I can see the anguish in his eyes. And then he starts to PULL THE CAB TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.

He stops, turns around and says, “Dylan, you remember me? It’s me, Brahim.” And I’m like wtffffff. And just start sobbing. We got out of that taxi off the I10 and Rural and hugged it out on a bridge in the rain on some Notebook shit. I didn’t ever care, man.

So I’m like WTF ARE YOU DOING IN FUCKING ARIZONA?! HOW? MAN WHAT? And he’s like I did my 4 years and they gave me a visa. They gave him some cash and a one-way ticket to the States. Asked him where he wanted to go, and he said where the weather is like Iraq.

So they sent him to Arizona.

5 years after I left him in Iraq and a few days after my younger brother was violently murdered, the universe linked us up again.

Brahim literally saved my life, twice.

Lost one brother, and got another one back. 

(had to share this amazing story here. link to the original twitter thread)

When entrepreneur Ariell Johnson opened her comic book store and coffee shop in Kensington, Pennsylvania back in December 2015, it became an instant hit both locally and nationally. 

Being hailed as the first African American woman to open a comic book store on the east coast

she immediately caught the attention of ABC News, CNN Money, MSNBC, and tons of other web sites and blogs.

“When young girls come in here and know that a woman owns the shop, a black woman owns the shop, and they can see titles where girls are the heroes and not just the love interests or the sidekick… when they see women and girls taking the lead in things, that’s really powerful.”

She’s The Boss

#BlackGirlMagic #BlackExcellence 

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Watch: This video of a woman’s racist rant at a shopping center shows how easy it is to be harassed just about anywhere if you’re not white

In a now-deleted Facebook post, user Renee Buckner shared the video and described the scene. "I had to get back on FB, to expose this racism in America/Louisville,“ she said in the post, which was picked up by local and national media outlets. "If we ignore it, it will never go away." 

Gifs: Renee Buckner

WATCH THE VIDEO

  • Supreme Court of Canada: "Rules that obtaining consent is part of the consultation spectrum the Crown faces when dealing with First Nations on issues that impact rights, title and territory."
  • Justin Trudeau: (2015): "While governments had the right to grant permits, only local communities — including First Nations — are able to “grant permission.”.
  • Justin Trudeau: (early 2016): Adopts the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People (which states the right of Aboriginal groups to “free, prior and informed consent” on economic projects in their territories.
  • Justin Trudeau: (late 2016): “No [First Nations], they don’t have a veto (on industrial projects in their territories).”
  • Justin Trudeau: \_(ツ)_/¯

No matter what happens, remember to vote in every upcoming state, local, and national election, especially midterm elections that tend to get forgotten. Do not make this easy for them.

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I drew this a long time ago as a collaboration with my biologist friends to raise awareness about various endangered species and their habitats. Unfortunately we all got too busy and the project never took off. I found the file again and decided to post it anyway.

This one is about the Whooping Crane and how conservation efforts brought this endangered species back from near extinction. My friend, Joleen Tseng, worked with these beautiful birds and here’s her write-up about the importance of conservation for these birds and all species of life:

When we hear [the crane’s] call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.
–Aldo Leopold

Whooping cranes, North America’s tallest and rarest bird, have quite the story. Due to habitat loss and over hunting, these birds have fallen to just 21 individuals in the 1940s but through the enormous efforts of conservationists, local, national, and international governments, the Whooping cranes have recovered to around 600 individuals today. The story of the Whooping crane can be seen as a symbol of hope for endangered animals. Through intensive methods involving captive breeding, constant monitoring across nations, research, education, enforced protection, and specialized reintroduction programs, the Whooping cranes have been able to make an astounding recovery.
Whooping cranes have been blessed to be a “charismatic species” or in other words, a species with popular appeal. Their beautiful profiles trumpeting calls have inspired conservationists around the world to fight for their cause. However, many endangered animals are unable to gather as much popularity. Whether they may be considered ugly, small, or even “unimportant,” every animal has a place in the web of life and it’s our job as fellow animals to respect and uphold the system of nature that we are part of.

Ways to help:
Of course there are the standard ways to help Whooping cranes and other endangered species. Donate/ participate in citizen science/ support conservation organization or programs, etc.
If you’re lacking the funds, the best way to help conservation efforts and endangered animals is to educate yourself. Visit a wildlife refuge with your family. The money goes directly to helping efforts to restore endangered species habitat, monitoring, research, and education. Volunteer at nature centers, zoos, refuges. And most importantly, educate yourself. Take biology, take environmental science, look into zoology/ environmental science/ natural resource majors in college. All these can lead to a career in conservation. And last but not least, practice conservation: be mindful of waste, re-using, recycling, etc.

We have some very sad news to report. Last night after our show in Stuttgart, Germany, a 26 year old stagehand fell from the rafters while breaking down our stage. He fell a very far distance onto a 19 year old man on the local crew. Tragically, the 19 year old died from his injuries. The other man is now in critical condition at the hospital. This is beyond heartbreaking to everyone in the band and on our crew. We all send our thoughts and prayers to the man in the hospital, both families involved, all of the local Live Nation crew and everyone else whose lives have been affected by this terrible accident. We love our crew so much as well as the many local staff who are essential to our show every night wherever we are around the world. This is such a stark reminder of how quickly an accident can happen and lives shattered in the process. When we hear more we will update you.

anonymous asked:

Imaging Juniors from Japan being interviewed for local and national newspapers/shows and all of them are like "Katsuki Yuri is my hero". I have so many feels because of your au. Thank you so much for blessing us with it. (Hopefully by the end of the compainion ( ๑‾̀◡‾́)σ» fic we will get season 2 of YOI. Makes waiting for it easier.)

Not even just in Japan, loads of younger skaters look up to him!

At this point, I am not sure what to say.

Donald Trump may become President. And that sucks so much, and we all know why. This is not a good thing in most of our minds. I won’t outline why. We know what could happen in local, state, national, international, and global governments and to real people.

But regardless of the results, we will wake up tomorrow. And we will go to work. And we will interact with coworkers, students, bosses, family members, friends, enemies. We will drive our cars, ride our buses and transit, buy our coffees, eat our lunches. We will go about our days. Some of us will be upset. Some of us will gloat. Most of us will probably feel a bit tense. We are now a heatedly divided country.

Fellow educators: I feel like we’re in a rather difficult and unique position. We have students to teach tomorrow. And we probably have a lot of weird, odd, unique things to deal as we try to teach those students tomorrow because we all know how this campaigning process has gone. I don’t know what’s in store. Election Day has left me puzzled and sad. Tomorrow might not be any different. We can’t change it; so what do we do about it? I don’t know the practical answer. What does this mean for us? I don’t know. I have fears. But I don’t know.

What I do know is that I feel like it’s an opportunity for us to simultaneously show grace and decorum while also staying true to our values and what we are passionate about, particularly to our students who are watching our every move, I have no doubt. We push against Trump’s win by deciding to be WHO WE ARE regardless of his vile rhetoric.

As we continue to watch election coverage, as we head to bed, as we struggle to sleep, to calm our fears, I guess we have to think about how we can continue to be the people that value what America SHOULD value. Trump may win the election, but how can we continue to choose values that reflect what we think this country should value? How do we choose hope? Love? Safety? Happiness? Comfort? Security? Freedom and liberty? Equality? Diversity? Life? Well-being? Health?

Tomorrow, I pray that’s what’s on my mind. I am afraid, yes; I think that’s fitting and okay. I am angry, yes; I think that’s fitting and okay. I am worried and concerned, yes; I think I should be. I am sad, yes. All of those things. But I guess my job now is to find a way to cling to what I value in the midst of those things. I guess my job now is to show my students what it looks like to be mature, responsible, educated, calm, and rational–while also true to my emotions, my passions, my values, and who I am as a person of integrity and principle.

I may hate Trump. I hate everything he stands for and everything he propagates.

But I will not let my hatred of him change me or ruin me or destroy me or discourage me. I will choose hope over his malicious fear. I don’t know what that looks like practically quite yet particularly as an educator. To be honest, I don’t even know what I’m going to say to my students tomorrow. I oscillate between pretending this night ever happened or addressing the elephant (pun intended) in the room.

Regardless of how we do it, that’s our job now, folks. To find a way to pull America in the right direction, even if it feels hopeless. It’s not going to be easy. I don’t know exactly what we do, but we do our best.

Fellow teachers: We are being watched so closely, and we have so much going on within ourselves. So hang in there tomorrow. I pray you don’t have to deal with any students trying to stir the pot or make you angry. I pray you have students that respect the election process enough to revere the emotions of this particular election. I pray you have the grace you need to do your job well, in whatever capacity you need to and whatever way you decide to. I pray you are true to yourself while also doing your job well.