mercredi, janvier 25, 2012

The issue of solitary confinement

Back in December, Billy McCarthy came by to our studio to tell us a deeply personal story. A few years ago, his younger brother James ended up in solitary confinement in one of the infamous California prisons. James had schizophrenia and definitely "a mess" but according to Billy, "locking him up 23 hours a day only made his condition worse". In fact, "by the time he was 23, he looked 40..."

McCarthy is a singer and songwriter for the band We Are Augustines. The tragic life of his brother deeply affected him to this day. I put together this podcast for the ACLU's Prison Voices series.

Ten of thousands of inmates are held in solitary confinement in the U.S., and it is known that about two third of them suffer from mental illness - just like James.

jeudi, janvier 19, 2012

What is it like to be the mother of a terrorist?

 Jose Padilla with his mother Estela Lebron.

Estela Lebron is one brave woman. Her name doesn't ring a bell for most of us but she is the mother of the famous Jose Padilla, also called the "dirty bomber". Padilla became one of the terrorist suspects after 9/11 and has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.

But unlike most terrorist detainees, Padilla is an American citizen from Puerto-Rican descent. He converted to Islam and eventually married an Egyptian woman. But for Estela Lebron, Jose is her son no matter what.

Estela Lebron.

For a while she stayed away from public coverage. But this determined woman has now decided to fight back for her son who evidence proves that he has been tortured while detained in U.S. prisons. I edited this video for the organization PEN-American Center. It was shown during a conference on torture in prisons.

mercredi, janvier 11, 2012

Guantánamo, 10 years on and counting

Wednesday, January 11th 2012 it has been 10 years since the first prisoners were sent to Guantánamo, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Almost 800 men have passed through Guantánamo’s cells. Among them is Lakhdar Boumediene, an Algerian citizen who is now 45.

In 2001, Boumediene was falsely accused of being an al Qaeda operative while working for a humanitarian aid organization in Bosnia. Even though Bosnia's highest court found no evidence against him, the U.S. government kidnapped Mr. Boumediene and sent him to Guantánamo, where he remained for 7 ½ years without charge or trial.

In 2009, the United States District Court in Washington heard the supposed evidence against Mr. Boumediene, found it utterly lacking and ordered him set free. That year, Mr. Boumediene was released from Guantánamo and today, he lives in Nice, France with his wife and three children.

In this interviewed by ACLU National Security Project Senior Staff Attorney Zachary Katznelson, Lakhdar Boumediene reflects on the years in Guantanamo, a bitter memory for him. I edited this podcast for the ACLU. It is 8:15 long.

samedi, janvier 07, 2012

Can you pronounce this?

I came across this fun test for English learners... and English native speakers. This is an exercise on English pronunciation. I challenge you to read this poem without stumbling.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Read more there.