An uneasy life in Omaha




You realize reaching The American Dream ain’t easy, this time with a story about the plight of Sudanese and South Sudanese communities, already ravaged by poverty, unemployment, and gang violence, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Read the whole story in The Huffington Post.




For over 50 years, Sudan — a political invention of British colonizers in East Africa, covering an area nearly three times the size of Western Europe — was wracked by civil war between the ethnically Arab and Muslim north and the black, Christian and animist south.

A 2005 peace settlement, brokered in part by the U.S., finally halted the conflict between north and south, which had claimed more than 2 million lives. By that time, millions of Sudanese had fled the south to live in sprawling camps in neighboring Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya.

The United Nations ultimately resettled nearly 31,000 refugees from these camps in the U.S. with the help of religious groups such as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

In the 1990s, Omaha emerged as an unlikely hub for the Sudanese, both for primary resettlement from camps in Africa, and for secondary resettlement, as refugees placed in other cities migrated there in search of jobs, cheap housing and a sense of community.

Many Sudanese arrived in the U.S. with next to nothing. “You would see a family of six with not one bag,” Goak said.

Ghosts of the Tsunami

tsunami 2011



A look back at the devastating disaster that ravaged Japan three years ago, and the ghosts it had left behind.

Read the full article in London Review of Books.




A young man complained of pressure on his chest at night, as if some creature was straddling him as he slept. A teenage girl spoke of a fearful figure who squatted in her house. A middle-aged man hated to go out in the rain, because the eyes of the dead stared out at him from puddles.

A civil servant in Soma visited a devastated stretch of coast, and saw a solitary woman in a scarlet dress far from the nearest road or house, with no means of transport in sight. When he looked for her again she had disappeared.

A fire station in Tagajo received calls to places where all the houses had been destroyed by the tsunami. The crews went out to the ruins anyway and prayed for the spirits of those who had died – and the ghostly calls ceased.

A cab driver in the city of Sendai picked up a sad-faced man who asked to be taken to an address that no longer existed. Halfway through the journey, he looked into his mirror to see that the rear seat was empty. He drove on anyway, stopped in front of the levelled foundations of a destroyed house, and politely opened the door to allow the invisible passenger out at his former home.

At a refugee community in Onagawa, an old neighbour would appear in the living rooms of the temporary houses, and sit down for a cup of tea with their startled occupants. No one had the heart to tell her that she was dead; the cushion on which she had sat was wet with seawater.

Priests – Christian and Shinto, as well as Buddhist – found themselves called on repeatedly to quell unhappy spirits. A Buddhist monk wrote an article in a learned journal about ‘the ghost problem’, and academics at Tohoku University began to catalogue the stories. ‘So many people are having these experiences,’ Kaneda told me. ‘It’s impossible to identify who and where they all are. But there are countless such people, and I think that their number is going to increase. And all we do is treat the symptoms.’

The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego


Anytime you look, either in fashion magazines, advertisements, or in televisions, you will see pictures of countless young girls, posing in wild, sexy, and challenging poses. Women, in most products’ conception of beauty, are portrayed as ‘untamed’, ‘sensual’, or hourglass-shaped creatures. They make their opposite sexes inflate in their own imagination, with all such objectification sharply exploited by the media.

Sexual objectification is taking place in most forms of media nowadays, and we can’t deny its nearly universal impacts towards our social structure. It alters much of our perception, believing that women are gorgeous mostly only for their appearances, or their outer looks. It makes us believe that they are worthwhile for ‘ownership’, as exclusive as any non-living items as though we could own and poke with their bodies as we wish. And as time progresses, with new paradigms coming in, we must gradually realize that such practice is unjustified, in that female bodies are not tantamount to non-living things easily set for forceful adjustments by anyone.

Because women, in the end, are human beings, too.

Listen to this empowering talk by Caroline Heldman, head of politics department in Occidental College, Los Angeles.


Note: I think FEMEN members, notable for voicing out their political aspirations by means of their breasts, must note this.