Footnotes from the British Underground

This blog began as venue for my stories as I traveled in Africa. 18 months later, I return to it as I travel to study as a Marshall Scholar in the United Kingdom. My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

After graduating from Notre Dame, I'm off to England for graduate study. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies. When not studying, I'm continuing to coordinate Uganda-CAN's efforts to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda!

29.8.06

What's your worldview? Today on Chicago Public Radio...

I'll be speaking today on Chicago Public Radio's Worldview program about the historic peace talks in Juba and the recent breakthrough cessation of hostilities between the Ugandan government and LRA. You can listen to the show live or archived at Worldview's web site.

23.8.06

3 Years Later, Darfur Atrocities Persist

After three years of people calling for an end to the atrocities in Darfur, Sudan, the situation is still getting worse. The inaction by the U.S. government and others is pitiful given the depth of information and range of policy potential. In the International Herald Tribune earlier this week, John Prendergast and Nick Grono of the Crisis Group wrote a call to action to the U.S., titled "To halt Sudan's atrocities, follow the money." They write, "UN member states must change the calculus of self-interest for the Sudanese regime, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is to target its sources of illicit income and unravel the Sudanese leadership's shadowy web of commercial interests."

The Genocide Intervention Network has put together The Darfur Scorecard, which grades each Senator, Congressperson and state on how effectively (or ineffectively) they've worked to stop the atrocities. Not only is this a really cool site, but it's a remarkable tool for holding U.S. policymakers accountable.

21.8.06

I'll Be "Here on Earth" 4-5 EST Today

Today, 4-5 PM EST, I'll be a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio's show "Here on Earth with Jean Feraca." The show will look at the historic peace talks underway between the Ugandan government and rebel Lord Resistance Army.

You can listen to the show live on the internet by going to www.hereonearth.org then clicking on the link called "Live Webcasting." To join the conversation, call 1-800-642-1234 or send an email to hereonearth@wpr.org. You'll also be able to access it later in the archive, by going to www.hereonearth.org and clicking on the link called "Archives."

I was on Jean's show in February, talking about the conflict in Uganda. Click here to listen to that show.

17.8.06

Looking for an exciting NYC roommate?

In the market for a roommate? Have an apartment to rent?

If so, this man is looking for you. A future urbanista, he's got New York on his mind and will be arriving in a week. Currently home-less, he's anxious to find a safe place to lay his head. He'll be studying dance at New York University, starting this fall.

I can vouch that he's a gentle man with a sensitive eye and a keen brain. His interests include Thomas Aquinas, Italian wine and Democratic politics. He enjoys long nights at the pub, political pressure campaigns and the intentional comb over. He's excited to explore New York's finest neighborhoods and become a NYU Violet through and through.

Why Can't We?: Samantha Power's Brilliant Speech

If I haven't forced you to read this already, you really need to read Samantha Power's 2006 Commencement Address at the Santa Clara Law School. It's absolutely brilliant! I thought I'd post a brief excerpt from it here, which I think rings even more true with recent events:

"In politics this refusal to face inconvenient truths carries life-and-death stakes. And yet only after 3,000 American lives were lost on 9/11 did it become evident that FBI agents had warned of the danger that terrorists would hijack American planes and fly them into tall buildings. Only after more than 800 Americans died in New Orleans and tens of thousands of lives were ruined did we go back and read the stellar reporting in the Times-Picayune and see that people had been yelling and screaming about the vulnerability of the levees for years. And only after gas prices hit $3 did George Bush begin talking about freeing the United States of its oil dependence and speeding up the production of hybrid cars. We have known about our energy crisis since the OPEC crunch of the 1970s. Why are we only now, suddenly, talking about rushing to mass-produce hybrid cars?

Samuel Johnson was most certainly right when he said, "Nothing focuses the mind quite like a hanging." But we can't afford to wait until we stand at the gallows to change the way we govern our country and live our lives. As individuals, as citizens, we have the power to focus our government's mind, to get resources allocated, to save lives. We have the power to concentrate the powers of the American imagination. This power comes through politics...But politics is too important to be left to the politicians. It is up to the rest of us to demand that our representatives are attentive to the human consequences of their decision-making. And that means making ourselves heard. It means using politics to trigger the imagination and to face inconvenient truths before a crisis strikes."

15.8.06

The MacBook Revolution Has Begun...

I forgot to mention this in my one-year-updates blog entry, but I have a new best friend (computer) = a MacBook. Yeah, I made the transition from Gateway to Apple, and I couldn't be happier!


And in breaking news, my great Chicagoan friend James K. (to the left) also made the transition and purchased a MacBook. The revolution is upon us. Congratulations, Jimmy!

Campaign Update: Historic Peace Talks Underway

I can't resist the chance to give a few updates from our work to help end the 2o-year war in northern Uganda...

In the last 2 months, the one-year-old Govt. of South Sudan has hosted and mediated historic peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. The involvement of such a strategic third party mediator, coupled with mounting pressure on all parties to resolve the conflict, gives this process serious potential to succeed in both ending active violence and providing a framework to address deeper social and political grievances. Michael and I recently wrote an analysis of why we believe these talks are the best opportunity over a decade to end the war.

The stakes are high. The photo in the upper right is an aerial shot of the many displacement camps in northern Uganda, where a total of 1.7 million people are confined in the war-torn region. Because of the squalid conditions and crowding in the camps, 1,000 people are dying each week.

For peace talks to succeed (and the conflict to be transformed), there is great need for international support and endorsement of the process. Yet, the United States has been ambivalent toward the talks, missing opportunities to support this critical initiative. In March of this year, the State Department announced that ending the war before the end of 2006 was a priority of the Bush Administration. Supporting these talks would be a good start to that promise.

To raise the profile of this opportunity and press the U.S. toward more responsible policy, we've been trying to engage the media and stimulate discussion. Michael and I had an Op/Ed published last week in the Sudan Tribune and also Foreign Policy in Focus. We've submitted pieces to papers across the country, and next Monday, I'll be speaking on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Perhaps most importantly, we're organizing a historic Northern Uganda Lobby Day and Symposium to be held October 9-10 in Washington D.C. We're bringing together the foremost international experts on the crisis and hundreds of advocates across the country to "make some noise" about northern Uganda. The moment is critical to demand that our leaders act to help end one of the world's worst humanitarian nightmares.

12.8.06

One Year Later: From Uganda to the UK

It's been over a year since I last wrote in this blog. In that one year, a lot has happened.

The far majority of my time has been spent working with the Uganda Conflict Action Network (Uganda-CAN), a Washington D.C.-based campaign working for an end to the 20-year war in northern Uganda. To the left, you can see a photo of me with my two partners-in-that-crime, Michael Poffenberger and Stephen Okello. The three of us and many more have been working to get Americans to
care about the neglected crisis and take action.

You can see that the three of us are wearing GuluWalk shirts. GuluWalk Day 2005 had more than 15,000 people in 38 cities walking for the children of northern Uganda. GuluWalk Day 2006 (October 21, 2006) is set to be even bigger and is hoping to raise $1 million for the war-affected children. 10,000 people each raising $100 = $1 million. We're looking for 10,000 reasons for hope in northern Uganda. Are you one of them? Sign up to walk today!

As the work to end this tragic war continued, some other big things have happened in my life.

First and most importantly, I'm still spending as much of my time as I can with Jess (and as much as she's willing to spend with me). She's become my closest friend and been there through the thick and thin. She's brilliant, beautiful, and mostly a ton of fun.

Secondly, Jess and I (and about 1,998 others) graduated from the University of Notre Dame this May. After four years "under the dome," it was/is time to move on to the next thing.

And that next thing for me is graduate school in England; I was awarded a Marshall Scholarship. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies at the University of Bradford. It's a fancy degree name (that's why I picked it!), but it really boils down to one question: how does the work of peacebuilding and conflict transformation intersect with the work of creating real and lasting "security" for individual and nation-states? In other words (I've become an addicted 24 fan this summer), can 24's Jack Bauer be/become a peacemaker? Not torturing everyone might be a good start...

So in preparation for my trip across the pond, I've been buying umbrellas, drinking pints and learning as much as I can about British football [soccer]. Bradford City has its own team - the Bantams - so you can expect to hear a bit about them over the next year.

My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...