Why does Jack own a gun?

About a week ago kids were shot in a school in the US. The after effect is a discussion about gun laws. The main argument used by gun owners and the NRA (National Rifle Association) being that everyone has the right to protect him- or herself and their property. It’s the second amendment of the US constitution. Written when cowboys rode the plains of America to steal land from the native Americans, made when guns where needed for the creation of a nation.

Jack lives on Davenport Avenue in Westchester County, New Rochelle, New York City. It’s a quiet neighborhood. The crime rate is low, the apartments look nice and the cars in the streets are average from cheap to middle class. Jack might very be your run of the mill Mr. Average living in the block next to you. Your friendly neighbor. I really don’t know Jack, no idea how he looks like, no idea how he makes a living. However, I do know where he lives. I even know the exact address, according to his gun permit.

Jack

The Journal News published that information together with names and addresses of another 44,000 gun owners in the Westchester County and adjacent Rockland and Putnam Counties. One in every 23 adults, carrying a gun. Most of them are male. They did so by claiming the right to that information on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, another basic citizens right in the US. Gun owners of course are angry as a result. This column is not about wether they should or should not have published the map. Obviously there’s a risk in that piblication as it drills down to names and addressess, something I find hard to support. But, it’s out there now and no one can deny it’s reality. Gun owners of course went bazurk over the publication and en masse condemned The Journal News for doing so. On the other hand, it only proves that there are so many guns in that area. And as it is an average community out there, one can be sure things are in fact much, much worse on a national scale. Mind, these are the registered gun owners, not the unregistered and it doesn’t even tell  how many guns are owned by a specific person. The number of guns will abviously be way more than 44,000.

As the map shows the area is absolutely overcrowded with gun owners. Most of them are according to the NRA and a lot of (mostly Republican) politicians ‘decent and responsible citizens’. Who shoot guns. Most of them. The map only shows the pistol owners. Not the ones owning Bushmaster semi automatics or rifles. The map would become unreadable if it did.

gunmap

Anyhow, Jack owns a gun. No idea also what gun and what for. But as Jack is Mr. Average, it might very well be for the purpose of self protection and protection of his property. He might think he needs a gun to do so. But does he? Thing is, he would probably, if it was true that he or his relatives, friends or property are under threat. According to US laws that is. But are they? Is it that dangerous to live in the part of New York where Jack lives? Is the crime rate so alarming there? By the way, this is how Jack’s street looks like. Just an ordinary street in an ordinary neighborhood. Doesn’t seem that there is much happening out there.

Davenport

There’s more information available on the area he lives in. Like on Spotcrime.com, a website showing details of crimes committed anywhere in the US. It also shows the crimes committed in Jack’s neighborhood. In the last three months one crime was registered. An assault resulting from a dispute. Two blocks away. Apart from that nothing happened in the area where Jack lives. No burglaries, no muggins, rapes or killings, nothing. But Jack still owns a gun. Like at least 5 others in his street and over a dozen in the adjacent blocks. Probably all for their safety because there is no way that all of them are sports shooters or hunters or anything like that. They are just Misters Average and Mistresses Average.

ruzie

So why, if for the past three months the only scary thing that happened in Jack’s street was a dispute, does Jack have a gun, a pistol to be exact? Maybe in a drawer in his bedroom, or a cabinet. Maybe in his pocket when you’re having a coffee at the nearby diner.

Or in the café a little bit more further away.

When he gets drunk for no reason.

And gets into a fight with you.

Pulls his gun.

And shoots.

Kills you.

Why does Jack own a gun?

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Note: Jack exists, he really lives there and if you would search for it you would find out exactly where. Not that it matters because Jack is just one of these tens of thousands of gun owners I picked from the map published by the Journal News. Jack could just as well have been Jill or Bill or one of his neighbors Rodney, James, Robert, Salvatore or Thomas. Sorry Jack, it had to be you. I’m sure you’re a decent guy. With a gun.

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Ernie and Bert suspected of fraud.

Nothing seems sacred anymore these days.

According to reliable sources in Pakistan a huge fraud at Sesamestreet was recently uncovered by the Pakistani police. In spite of Obama’s recent drone attacks this acknowledges the fact that there still is police in Pakistan working on very important cases. Of course the United States have retalliated in the strongest possible manner for the Pakistan Sesamestreet Fraud. It seems that the Pakistani Ernie and Bert, who are as everyone knows the producers of the childrens television show, have been arrested as they seem to have used the american dollars to pay of their debts.

And as the US is a bit sensitive on the dollar the Obama administration immediately increased diplomatic and military pressure on Pakistan once it became clear the dollars were leaking at the Sesamestreet headoffice. After a massive fluffy hunt the Pakistani police have been able to arrest the perpetrators who seemed to be employed by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop. Although Pakistan Today claims that it is the little and übercute Elmo who has been caught with his hand in the USAID cookie jar (he is perceived to be quicker noadays than Cookie Monster on that) it is obvious that it were in fact Ernie and Bert who have become the real suspects now.

The Pakistan Children’s TV channel claims not to be involved but according to Kermit the current ceo of PCTV, miss Piggy, has been playing a doubtful role in the past concerning commercial deals with Ernie and Bert. The connection with Super Grover and Cookie Monster is also currently being investigated just like the activities of Elmo althoug he now is no longer the focus of the ongoing investigation.

The Pakistani Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop

Currently it is impossible to assertain the damage done by the two Sesamestreet villains. What is clear however is that the 20 million dollar of USAID allotted US tax payers money is not completely used to create the agreed 78 episodes of Sesamestreet Pakistan. How much of that 20 million has been used by the whole Sesamestreet family remains to be found out. The Peerzada’s (the real names of the Sesamestreet family in Pakistan) as a close family of course appointed their own relatives in all relevant places in the production company thereby shifting funds into the family members NIB Bank Pakistan bank accounts.

Ernie and Bert are now in Lahore prison being questioned by the Pakistan police with support of Obama’s Secret Service who have abandoned the Colombian brothel research program recently. According to Lahore police they still deny all accusations and state that they are only puppets in a larger scheme. But according to sources they will soon be transfered to Guantanamo Bay for further interrogation by the US military as suspects of economic terrorism.

Alice Anna Verheij © 2012

On the economy of fear.

A few things are uncountable. Magical things like the stars in the sky and the exact number of people on mother earth. They are the mysteries of nature. But some uncountable things are not the mysteries of nature but rather the result of the mind of mankind. Like how many people were killed by other people and how much money is earned by creating fear.

Today I zapped through some television programs on my laptop and in one of them an acclaimed journalist explained the inner workings of ‘The Fed’s’, the FBI. The American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The organization that makes and breaks presidents and the organization that protects and manipulates society. All for the good of the security of the State. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. But not always what they really do.

Another show showed the horrors of World War Two. After all, it’s that time of the year again. Every year just after the beginning of spring Dutch television re-focusses on that war that started over 60 years ago and lasted ‘only’ 5 years. Many wars have been fought since and many are still being fought now. The third program had someone discussing the current financial crisis and somehow 9/11 came into tha discussion. And in yet another program there was a discussion about spending less money on development aid and what that would do to our security in the west. The speaker presumed an improvement of the safety of our economy because less people would come to live on ‘our money’.

And all of a sudden it became clear to me.

We in the west live in an economy that’s thriving on fear. Terrorism, war, immigration, foreigners, homosexuals, emancipation, they all seem to scare the hell out of governments and agencies working for those governments. Because there is no control over any of them.  Of course governments try to control society and to get a grip on the tumbling economy. But they also know that it really is in vain and they do not really want to have grip. Because behind those governments there are thousands of organizations and individuals who thank their very existence to fear. Fear is simply big business. It is for many the big money maker.

Now, if only 1 percent of the money that goes into this fear industry would go into improving living conditions of the poor and threatened across the globe, I am sure many problems would be solved. But that is not what we do in the west. We rather embrace fear because we need that in our lives. There have never worked more people in organizations who’s task it is not to help refugees or disadvantaged but to keep as many people outside our well protected and secured society. There was never spend more on arms globally and believe it or not, most of that goes to the scared west.

So now not a single day passes with politicians explaining the need to secure our society even further, to lock it up in way that even less people are allowed to become part of that society. Xenophobia is the very basis of politics nowadays and goes hand in hand with the adagium of the need for economic growth. Because that is what our society has become. A society interested in two things: growing economy and securing that economy from outsiders. We have become protectionists.

And that alone creates jobs, lots of jobs. For people making CCTV systems and others monitoring society with these thousands of cameras all over our streets observing you and me. Jobs for people working in security, just because we think we have so much to secure. Jobs for police forces and armies. Jobs for supporting ‘peace missions’ that inadvertently result in more fighting and more killings far away from our safe little homes in out safe little bubble. If fear would leave our society I am sure this society would collapse as the result of thousands and thousands of extra unemployed and we would after some time become less financially rich. But our minds would be much cleaner then, our hearts warmer and our future brighter because we would have to embrace friendships and foreigners. We would have to open ourselves up for the ones we do not know and the ones we haven’t taken notice of their existence. We would be condemned to start living together, not against each other.

And that is scary. So in stead of that we simply put more money, more effort and more people on the balance of our economy of fear. No government, left or right wing will change that. Because in the end we all want to have more than the others. And at the end we will loose is all. But will we ever learn of that? Will we ever become less focussed on growth and will we ever learn that there can also be an economy of less, a social society. A society that cares and not scares.

Alice © 2012

Fulbright Program: US academic arrogance at work.

Sometime ago I wrote an email to the US Fulbright Program (funded by the US government) about a scholarship they gave to a scholar to study the conceot of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Paid by them and thus paid by the US tax payers. As people reading my publications are probably well aware the concept of Gross National Happiness is a hoax. A cover up of te reality that Bhutan is in fact the country with the terrible history of being the percentagewise largent ethnic cleansing nation of the last 50 years if not longer.

This, dear readers, is the response of the Fulbright program to the questions asked:

This of course means that they simply do not want to answer the questions raised and hide their responsibility behind their acclaimed history as an academic organization of importance. Fulbright is with this answer the hallmark of US academic arrogance and certainly does not enter into discussions about theit granting policies in regard to human rights breaching nations. My answer to them is this:

My conclusions based on the response from Fulbright are obvious. These ‘academics‘ are disgusting and more interested in supporting human rights violating regimes than entering discussions about their policies. Interesting enough it is the same government of the US that is funding most of the third country resettlement effort of UNHCR to resettle the Bhutanese exiles who were exiled by the government that Fulbright is actively supporting.

That attitude reminds me of the books of Karl May in which the North American indians frequently state about their American counterparts that they are speaking with split tongues. Deceitful and manipulative. It is sad to see that Fulbright is still having that General Custer attitude.

Alice © 2012

Occupy Wall Street.

UPDATE: On October 15, the OccupyAmsterdam and OccupyDenHaag movements kick off. I’ll join in on the Binnenhof. Please, if you care for our society and the people on the downside of it, the victims of government and corporate corruption and dishonesty, come! Join in, it’s important. We all need a revival of solidarity!

For days now I am following the news about the Occupy Wall Street movement. People from all layers of society showing solidarity with the ‘have not’s’ against the ‘have’s’ in the United States of Corruption. They are brave, very brave. What these people do is address the US government and the corporations on their responsibilities for the economic crisis that is caused by the financial industry which is corrupt to the core. They doe that in the very heart of that system, on Wall Street.

Obviously, the city and the government need to protect the corporations and workers of these corporations in the financial heart of the US. For many reasons. Some of these reasons have to do with the benefits government, city and financial corporations share. And because they have the power of force by owning the police force they have no problem at all to use that police force against this solidarity movement. That police force is derailing frequently, like last night. The video shows police brutality against peaceful protestors. The Wall Street crowd was about 12.000 last night, not just a few hundred. And it’s continuously growing. The govenment and city will in the end do everything to break that protest. Question is, can they?

The people of the OWS movement are protesting against the people and corporations that caused the demise of so many people and small businesses. They protest against the greed that has become the major exponent of the so-called free market. A market which is not free at all but governed by the interest of financial institutions and governments. A market divided and driven by corruption. Not only in the US, but globally. Because how things are in the US is not very different from how things are in Europe and elsewhere in ‘western’ society. The consequences of the unmatched corruption in the US is that it has spread all over the globe. Financial institutions and governments in Europe are just as corrupt as those in the US. There is nog difference in that. Occupy Wall Street is not only fighting for the freedom of the people on the edges of the American society but also of those in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and many, many other countries. They fight for the rights of the poor in the west and in essence they fight for survival of western society. It’s a revolutionary movement and I can only choose their side in their battle.

The police response, guided by the city and the major is flat out fascist. Beating protesters who are totally right in their protests and protecting the interest of crooks in the government and corporations. They have had enough and finally there was nothing left to do than to protest together against what the so-called free society of the US has produced: poverty and sorrow for hard working and honest people and richness for criminals, crooks and politicians.

Personally I can not wait until the OWS movement which is expanding fast over western society will go to the streets in my country. I will be there. Writing about it, maybe filming it. Because I care for my society and because I too want to see an end of the corruption in my country. Because I too think that the current government in my country is totally on the wrong page to fight an economic crisis by protecting the egoism based layer within my society. So on October 15 the ‘Bezet Beursplein 5’ starts in Amsterdam. Check OccupyAmsterdam and OccupyDenHaag on FaceBook. Rumor has it that I’ll be present too. It seems about 850 others are saying that they’ll be there too on October 15. Will you join?

Alice © 2011

Here are the links:
www.indymedia.nl
www.occupydenhaag.org
www.occupyamsterdam.org
 

Novel publication announcement Fall 2011.

Publication Announcement Fall 2011.

This fall WoordenStorm Publications will publish the novel ‘Headwind Laxmi’s Story’ by Alice Verheij. The novel is written in English to be able to distribute it in the Bhutanese and Nepalese communities globally. There will also be an edition published in Nepal for south Asia and global distribution.

About the story.

‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ is a beautifully crafted and compelling novel about a young girl who was born in exile, resettled to the Netherlands and had to fight for both her place in society as her independence from her own society.

Laxmi, who names herself Cindy now was born in a Bhutanese family in a refugee-camp in Nepal. At a very young age she learns about the dangers in the camps as she is attacked and raped violently. But she also befriended Jigme, a Dalit (low caste) boy as a child and there friendship becomes more intimate over the years and grows to real love.

In 2008 Laxmi’s parents opt for resettlement, so Laxmi and Jigme have to part. Indefinitely. The life in her new homeland is difficult. But Shreeni learns to adjust. She is even able to find a job and after a few years she actually starts her own flower shop. But the cost is high as she has to break with her family not being able to feel part of their strict Hindu culture anymore. After a terrible row she finally takes her life in her own hands.

Then, a few years later she gets an invitation from her uncle who now lives in Chicago to come to his house for a holiday. She decides to go not knowing that her life will take a decisive turn.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is both a novel that is critical about the situation of the exiles form Bhutan as a great love story.

About the author.

Alice Verheij is a Dutch writer who started writing at a later age. After a theatre play in 2007 and a few yet unpublished novels she had her first novel published in 2010. She prefers to write about social and cultural issues in present day using the novel as a form to let people understand the challenges of the characters in her books.

Since 2010 she is involved with the exiles from Bhutan who had to leave their country as a result of horrific discrimination and ethnic cleansing in the early nineties of the last century. Until this day these people face many challenges and disregard for their situation by the international community.

About the Headwind project.

‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ is the third part of the Headwind cross media project focussing on the situation of the Bhutanese exiles and refugees. In 2012 the feature length documentary, titled ‘Headwind’, will be released at the international documentary and human rights focussed film festivals.

The novel has been written in the summer of 2011 in between the shootings for the documentary in Nepal. Thereby the author has been able to capture the specific nature of the life of a young refugee girl, living in a camp in the Terai region in the subtropic southeast of Nepal. Having visited the camps many times the author’s descriptions of these camps and the live within are as close to reality as possible. This novel not only tells the tale of an original love story but also gives an inside look at the lives of the exiled Bhutanese. By that it is an unique work worth reading. For more information on the Headwind project please surf to http://www.headwindfilm.org.

Paperback Approximately 310 pages
Full color cover High print quality
Price: €19,95 including taxes excluding shipping 
Availability: Internet, Publisher

For more information about this novel, the upcoming documentary or the Headwind Project please contact:

WoordenStorm Publications
Mient 247 2564 KM The Hague, Netherlands
Phonenumber +31 (0)6 1738 5526
Email contact@woordenstorm.nl
Website http://www.woordenstorm.nl