11 November 2008

New Blog!

Amnesty International USA now has its own blog, Human Rights Now, covering a wide range of human rights issues. Check it out!



We have a new action up, calling on President-elect Barack Obama to take concrete steps in his first 100 days in office to close Guantanamo and end illegal detentions, eradicate torture and end impunity for human rights abuses. Please go to www.amnestyusa.org/100days and take action!


24 October 2008

The cell is in St. Louis

cellstlouisAs fate would have it, the Cell arrived in St Louis yesterday on the back of a tricked out bright orange big rig. Larry custom fit his rig with a full size bed, satellite TV and all the trimmings. I was hoping he would take me and M.E. for a ride to the Arch, but he had other plans. Darn. The trucking company we hire to move the cell around the U.S. contracts local drivers and it was just random that Larry’s truck was orange, but it really warmed my heart. It’s chilly here. If you’re in the neighborhood of the St Louis Airport Hilton between now and Sunday, please stop by.


14 October 2008

Next Stop, St. Louis!

Sorry for the delay in posting. It’s been a whirl-wind of activity since we wrapped up the Cell Tour Stop in Los Angeles.

A number of developments to report:

- We have an urgent action on behalf of 17 Uighurs detained at Guantanamo. Please take a couple minutes to send an email, fax or letter–it’s quick and can be done online, here.

- The Guantanamo Cell Tour continues with a stop in St Louis, October 23 - 26, to coincide with Amnesty International USA’s Midwest Regional Conference. Go here for more info.

- Amnesty International USA’s new Counter Terror With Justice campaign website is live, the url is www.amnestyusa.org/ctwj — please take a moment to check it out, and be sure to tag it on your Facebook profile.

- Check out and share this editorial from Sunday’s Los Angeles Times:

See you in St Louis!


“Former war crimes court prosecutor blasts tribunals” >>


Ilacell26t’s Friday. The Santa Monica Promenade is packed with people and I feel like P.T. Barnum trying to get them to check out the cell. Now I’m in traffic on the way back to the hotel and finally getting a chance to reflect on the day. I’m thinking about Adam’s struggle to drink water, the Chihuahua puppy (even though I’m not usually a fan of sub-beagle size dogs), and the two Navy recruiters in full dress uniform who told me that they and lots of other military people feel the same way we do. I even got to swim this morning. It was a good day.


cellsantamonica6Our first day in Santa Monica and it certainly wasn’t boring! The cell arrived on schedule at 6am, but much to our chagrin the necessary fork lift to maneuver the giant 1 ton cell onto the promenade was stuck in traffic on the 405. Minutes, then hours ticked away and only added to our stress as media outlets and celebrity speakers began to arrive. 15 minutes before the press conference, the fork lift finally arrived, off loaded from its ride, and began the precarious process of taking the cell from its own flat bed perch to the promenade. Suddenly, the cell pitched to one end and crashed corner first onto the street, thankfully the fork lift operator thought fast and managed to avert a real disaster and the cell managed to heavily right itself in the street. I think my heart stopped beating for a minute while we made sure no one was hurt. Woooo that was a little bit scary!

cellsantamonica4The cell made a dramatic entry to our spot on the promenade, a few minutes late for its own press conference! It was a great show - Martin Sheen, Mark Ruffalo and Paul Haggis headlined for Larry Cox, the ACLU, an attorney who represents a guantanamo detainee and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. I can’t wait to see the pics of them in the cell!

All in all, a bustling day in la.


16 September 2008

Experience Guantanamo in LA

moving cellWell, in Santa Monica to be exact. From September 18 - 20, we’ll be at the 3rd Street Promenade, Center Court (1300 block, between Arizona Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd.

Check out photos from previous stops on our Flickr page>>


12 September 2008

Remembering 9/11

This is the view from my living room. The vertical lights represent the Twin Towers. I’ve lived here, in this apartment in downtown New York City, since 2000. On September 11th, 2001, I didn’t notice that one of the towers was on fire until I was walking down Grand Street, a few blocks from my house, on my way to work. Later that day, from Canal Street, I saw the second tower fall with my own eyes. I wanted to write something earlier, but couldn’t find words. I hope everyone who died is at peace. I hope there is justice for the victims, survivors and for all who lost someone.


2 September 2008

st.paul7I like Minneapolis and I like Saint Paul. Flying in I saw lots of trees. Down on the ground, people are nice and polite-which is huge, in my book. The Mall of America has a store that made it possible for me to buy a mug with the Romanian flag on it.

Tons of people-both locals and people in town for the Republican National Convention– have come to check out the cell, and we’ve only been open a day and a half. Local volunteers like Marcus, who is taking time out from his Ph.D. thesis to hand out fliers and is letting us park at his house and use his bathroom, are awesome. Thank you.

The mood has been somber, due to Hurricane Gustav, but it looks like the threat has now passed. I’ve read news reports of protests and/or police response turning violent, but haven’t seen anything myself-everyone I’ve encounter near the cell has been very polite, aside from one guy who gruffly said something about killing everyone. Sigh. Oh, and another guy who had his own angry take on the “they hate our freedoms and way of life so we should torture people and lock them up forever and anything less is just naïve” argument. Groan.

Anyway, back to all the polite people. It’s been great to meet delegates, convention workers, anti-war protestors, police, secret service (I think), veterans, conservatives, liberals and locals who agree that the U.S. government must abide by U.S. and international law. I believe that a new consensus on this point has emerged, one that cuts across political ideology and includes members of the military and intelligence communities. But we all have to keep pushing until that consensus becomes reality. No matter who wins the election–and here I can insert a point near and dear to my apolitical heart: Amnesty International does not support or oppose any political candidate or political party, we call on all governments to abide by international human rights law and standards–it will be up to people like us–people who want our friends and family, and yes, even strangers, to live in a better world–to make sure it happens. Idealistic? Maybe. Realistic? Absolutely. (Thanks Robert.)

st.paul5Anyway, sorry for the same old song and dance of poor grammar, rambling and too many em dashes-of course it’s the middle of the night and my head has been cooked by the humid heat. And I’m still distracted by total and utter sorrow at my failure to make it to the Minnesota State Fair/eat chocolate covered bacon. (Is it on a stick? I like to think it is…)