All posts by shef@dwc

Madonna explains gypsy comments

Pre-1989 division between the "West"...
Image via Wikipedia

According to this BBC article, Madonna, the American pop star, made comments in support of Gypsies and against the discrimination they face during a concert in Bucharest in Romania, although she was booed by the fans for her comments. Madonna explains Gypsy comments.

Madonna has said she was “compelled” to comment on the discrimination against Romany Gypsies while on stage in Romania, despite being booed by fans. The 51-year-old was jeered by the audience in Bucharest after saying the discrimination “made me feel very sad”. ..

Madonna paused during her two-hour show to say: “It has been brought to my attention, that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe – it made me feel very sad. We don’t believe in discrimination, we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone.”

The star uses a group of Roma musicians on her Sticky and Sweet tour… Publicist Liz Rosenberg said… “Madonna has been touring with a phenomenal troupe of Roma musicians who made her aware of the discrimination toward them in several countries so she felt compelled to make a brief statement.”

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Gypsy children beg and thieve

This BBC news report tells about how Gypsy gangs use children to beg and steal money: How Gypsy gangs use child thieves

It appears to be true. It is unfortunate because a common stereotype of Gypsies is as thieves. Here, for example, is part of the Wikipedia entry on Romani:

Many fictional depictions of the Romani in literature and art present Romanticized narratives of their supposed mystical powers of fortune telling, and their supposed irascible or passionate temper paired with an indomitable love of freedom and a habit of criminality.

Here is more from the BBC article:

Madrid police say that 95% of children under 14 that they pick up stealing on the streets are Roma from Romania.

Because the age of criminal responsibility in Spain is 14, there is little they can do.

More than 1,000 Romanian Roma live in just one of the many camps that lie on the outskirts of Madrid.

The conditions are appalling – rats roam freely amid the rubbish, and there is no sanitation.

Every day children from the camp head out into the city to steal and beg, and many are beaten by their minders if they do not return with money.

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The Cove… on Japanese tv

As I blogged previously (here and here), “The Cove” is a documentary movie made in English by an American filmmaker. One of the advisors to the movie was Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer. Australia created a very popular TV drama series about a dolphin. The series was called “Flipper” and was popular not only in Australia but also in the US and in Britain (I remember watching it when I was a boy). The popularity of this show helps to explain, perhaps, the Australian outcry against the town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture, for its annual dolphin “hunt”, which is shown in the documentary.

Japan Probe, the blog which first alerted me to this movie, follows up with another blog entry: how does the Japanese media react to this? The dolphin hunt in Taiji began yesterday, and Ric O’Barry was there and he brought some foreign journalists to Taiji.

I was surprised to read that the dolphin meat is sold, and some of it is used in school lunches in Taiji. The filmmaker was concerned about this, as he believes that dolphin meat is high in mercury, a poisonous metal. This was in fact confirmed by two Taiji council members who had the meat tested, as I wrote in my previous blog entry The power of film.

The Japan Probe blog writer thinks that the Japanese tv report was “sympathetic to Taiji’s fishermen”. What do you think? And what do you think about the documentary “The Cove”, and about foreign protests against it?

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The power of film

Following my blog about the Australian town of Broome and its decision to end its twin-relationship with Taiji in Wakayama as a result of a documentary movie made about the slaughter of dolphins that takes place in Taiji every year, JapanProbe tells us that anti-Japanese feeling has been growing because of this documentary.

The Australian media is reporting that there has been an surge of hate directed at Japanese people in Broome Shire, a town that had a sister city agreement with the Taiji, a town in Wakayama prefecture. Anger at Japan forced the town to dissolve its sister city agreement and now graveyards are being targeted

Below is a link to an “Open Letter to the People of Broom”. This letter is by the director of the movie “The Cove“, Louie Psihoyos. In the letter, Psihoyos points to another reason why the dolphin slaughter is a bad idea. If this is true, it is strange that it has not received more attention. Unless you think that dolphins are more important than humans.

The Cove exposes not just a horrific yearly hunt, but humans knowingly poisoning other humans by slipping dolphin meat into the food system. Dolphin meat is through-the-roof toxic because of high levels of mercury, the most toxic non-radioactive element in the world. Dolphins have anywhere from five to 5,000 times more mercury than allowed by law.

Despite this, the Taiji mayor and his council had a scheme in place to distribute toxic dolphin meat to school systems all over Japan. Ric O’Barry, his organization Earth Island Institute/Save Japan Dolphins and my organization Oceanic Preservation Society had a small hand in ending that dreadful scenario through the help of two Taiji councilmen, one of whom had children in the school system. They tested the meat and found it had more than a dozen times more mercury than allowed by Japanese law. They demanded the meat be removed from the school system.

The same website that posted the “Open Letter” also posts about Japanese newspapers picking up the story.

Japanese language newspapers reported on the dolphin slaughter in Taiji for the first time yesterday. Even though the Japan Times had previously covered the dolphin hunt in Taiji in its English language version, Japanese language papers have never reported it. The story that finally broke the barrier was the news that Broome Shire, Australia will break its sister city ties with Taiji because of the dolphin slaughter that takes place there each year.

This is a typical example of outside pressure, a concept called “gaiatsu” 外圧 in Japanese. It is well recognized as an effective strategy, because Japanese decision-making processes together with group dynamics, means that changes are difficult to effect. Given the “shame culture” of Japan, outside (i.e. foreign) pressure can often work to effect change more quickly, by using “shame”: “look at what other countries are saying about us! We had better do something!”

The article links to several Japanese-language articles, but the links are bad, except for this one.

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Broome tells Japanese city to stop dolphin slaughter

Location of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture.
Image via Wikipedia

Last semester, we read in our textbook about the Australian town of Broome.

Well, Broome was in the headlines today, in an article in the Japan Times. Broome is apparently twinned with the city of Taiji in Wakayama. The two cities have a long history: people from Taiji emigrated to Broome in the early 20th century to teach the local people how to dive for pearls.

It appears that Taiji is now famous, or infamous, for an annual slaughter of dolphins. This slaughter has been given a great deal of negative publicity, and this year, despite the long history and the close ties between Broome and Taiji,

The local council in Broome voted unanimously Saturday to send a warning to Taiji to end its dolphin “harvesting,” council head Graeme Campbell said Monday.

At the same time, a documentary has been made about the annual Taiji dolphin slaughter, and has already been screened in the US. The English version of the Asahi newspaper has the story:

A U.S. documentary film that features footage of the annual slaughter of dolphins in a tiny cove in Japan has stirred waves of controversy here since its release at the end of July.

Moviegoers who have seen “The Cove,” directed by Louie Psihoyos, said they were stunned by the cruelty of the killings, captured by concealed cameras.

Many newspapers have blasted the traditional coastal whaling practice in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, which is not subject to the International Whaling Commission‘s ban on commercial whaling.

Map of Japan with Wakayama highlighted
Image via Wikipedia
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Interactive Writing #14: July 24th, 2009

Exam.

  1. (70%) Write a book report about “Diddakoi”. Your report should be divided into four separate paragraphs.
  2. (30%) Write about either
    1. gypsies, or
    2. Rumer Godden

I want to see proof that you

  • have read the book
    • quote from the book
    • mention names, places, events in the story
  • have done some reading and research about the book and the topic
    • give the reference for the book(s), article(s), website(s), movie(s), using the MLA style
  • have thought about what you have read
    • show that you are aware of different opinions, different arguments, “for and against”.
  • have your own opinion
    • show logical thinking and independent thinking
    • show that you are not just repeating ideas or opinions that you have received from others
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Research in English #14: July 24th, 2009

Exam.

  1. (50%) Write about one of the topics below (25-350 words):
    1. sheep farming
    2. deportation and convict settlers
    3. gold rush
    4. the rabbit problem
    5. the Australian constitution
    6. Australia in World War I and World War II
    7. Australian heroes
  2. (50%) Write about any Australian topic of your choice (250-350 words)

You need to show the instructor the following:

  1. That you have done some reading and research
    1. give the origin or source of your information (book title, author, publishing date, URL, etc)
  2. That you have thought about the topic
    1. you know some arguments for and against
  3. That you have your own opinion

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Summer plans


CIMG2245

Originally uploaded by sheffnermarc

My summer vacation objective: climb this 3,067 metre-high mountain. What’s your goal this summer vacation?

You can read more about this mountain in English here. And here’s the English blog of someone who lives there.

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