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...

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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!

31.10.06

John Edwards Urges "End to Uganda Nightmare"

John Edwards, former North Carolina senator and the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee (and likely 2008 presidential contender) has written a powerful Op/Ed in today's Washington Post, urging U.S. support for the fragile Juba peace talks. Edwards visited northern Uganda over the summer and was deeply touched by meeting survivors of the 20-year war.

Edwards writes, "At a moment of tremendous global hardship -- from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the killing fields of Darfur -- it is rare to find hope. So when there is the possibility for peace, we must seize it. That's why one of the world's great tragedies, the conflict in Northern Uganda, deserves our attention."

He urges the US and international community to publicly support the ongoing peace talks, to offer assistance to the mediating Government of South Sudan, and to make clear their financial commitment to supporting post-conflict needs.

Edwards concludes, "In a world of unending troubles for the United States, few would argue that Northern Uganda's future is among the most urgent strategic challenges. But our actions in coming weeks will be a critical test of our global leadership. How we act -- and if and how we lead -- will send a message throughout Africa and the rest of the world about what America stands for. We must not sit idly by as Uganda's people strive for peace."

His likability for 2008 certainly just went up about ten points in my book. This is true global leadership: something the country could really learn and grow from...

27.10.06

UN Initiates Conventional Arms Trade Agreement

Great news today that a United Nations committee has voted overwhelmingly (139 in favor, 24 abstentions, 1 vote against notably by the USA) to begin work on drawing up an international arms trade treaty. The hope is to close loopholes in existing laws that allow guns to still end up in conflict zones, like northern Uganda and Sudan. It could further stop the supply of arms to countries with excessive military spending that is hampering their socio-economic development.

This vote comes after a brilliant report this month by Oxfam and other international agencies, titled "Arms Without Borders: Global Arms Industry Exploiting Major Loopholes in Arms Regulations."

24.10.06

Sir Horatio Nelson Lives!

Did you know that Saturday was the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar?


I found that out on Saturday when these 3 British gentlemen of the Horatio Nelson Society laid wreaths in front of this statue and vowed their lives for his cause. Brits certainly have a sense of history! This is actually the oldest statue of Nelson in all of England; located in the heart of Birmingham.

23.10.06

Walking for Uganda in Birmingham.

Just returned from a splendid weekend in Birmingham (note: the 'h' is not pronounced), Britain's second largest city...
I stayed with two other Marshall Scholars - Adam and Kent - both studying at Univ. of Birmingham. Top notch guys. The picture to the right is of us in front of the famous Birmingham Bull.



The main reason for my trip was to participate in Birmingham's GuluWalk; one of 82 cities in 15 different countries on Saturday that had over 50,000 walking for the children of northern Uganda.And here are two photos (more to come) from the walk. One of me and the new woman MP from Amuru District in northern Uganda (right) and the other of our group walking through the streets of Birmingham on Saturday (left).

18.10.06

US Govt. Continued Silence on Opportunity to Help End 20-Year War in Uganda

I wanted to post here a blog entry from UgandaCAN.org that I think is absolutely critical -

"As we reported yesterday, the United Kingdom has pledged $469,043 in support of the Juba peace talks. This pledge of support for the talks will be a major help to the peace process and is also an important show of commitment to the people of northern Uganda. Thusfar, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have also made contributions to the Juba Initiative Fund in support of these critical peace talks. The Netherlands has pledged $1,142,132; Norway $247,170 and Sweden $960,219. However, the only other major donor to Uganda, the United States government, has yet to pledge any support for the Juba peace talks. U.S. public support for the talks would be extremely helpful to build confidence, hold the parties accountable and aid technical needs, such as monitoring the cessation of hostilities agreement. U.S. continued silence on these talks calls into question the statement by the White House that ending the war by the end of 2006 is a priority for the Bush Administration. There is still a deficit of $1.98 million to the UN Juba Initiative Fund; we urge the U.S. to fill that deficit and publicly support this critical opportunity to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda"

An Attempt to be Artistic in Leeds

I wrote earlier that I was at the Leeds Museum last weekend...


...I really thought this would be a cool shot of me getting interactive with this unnamed (and not really that impressive) sculpture...but oh well, here's me in Leeds trying to be artsy.

16.10.06

1 Serious Absentee Ballot to Cross the Atlantic

Got my absentee ballot in the mail today...


Deval Patrick, you've got one very serious vote coming straight from the moors of West Yorkshire. God, I get such a civic thrill from voting! Must be from my old Rock the Vote glory days...or maybe my Massachusetts "commonwealth" upbringing...

Happy Diwali!

Traveled yesterday with a few lads from the peace studies program to Leeds: an awesome city. On our way back, we saw lights and followed, ending up in front of Bradford's City Hall...


The Victorian building was lit up for Diwali, the annual Hindi/Indian holiday of the festival of lights. Apparently it's quite a celebration!

13.10.06

A Brilliant Trip Back to the US Capital...


"Donning yellow and orange T-shirts, 700 activists from across the country pressed legislators and Capitol Hill staffers yesterday on the need for high-level American involvement to bring peace to northern Uganda, a region that has experienced wartime atrocities, abductions of children and widespread displacement for more than 20 years..."
READ the full story from Wednesday's Washington Post.

5.10.06

Notes from the Margins of Manchester...

I'm writing now from at the Britannia Hotel in Hale (a suburb of Manchester) where I'm spending the night; I'm flying off early tomorrow morning back to Washington D.C. for the Northern Uganda Lobby Day and Symposium that we've been working on for the last six months. Michael's done a helluva job, and it looks to be a truly special and hopefully impactive couple of days. But to be honest, I'm most excited to see old friends and colleagues...and especially a certain visitor from South Bend whom I'll be spending the weekend with. And finally of course, I'm excited to get back to my favorite Washington pub: the Ghana Cafe!

The last week in Bradford has been more or less stable and ordinary; a nice change from the madness of the first week. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Bradford is a remarkably diverse town with people and communities from all over the globe. In particular, it has large Middle Eastern and South Asian communities...and its well known across Britain as the land of the best curries. And after dinner last night at Kashmir Restaurant, I can testify to that. So even though it gets a bad rap for being small and industrial (wow, sounds like another place I went to college), it'll be a fascinating town to explore and experience for the year...

Yesterday, I went with other international students for tea with the Lord Mayor of Bradford City and a tour of the Town Hall Building. As you can see, it's has quite the architecture, making it the undisputed center of the city.

Three other quick notes:

1.) I'm officially a Liverpool fan.

2.) I'd take Gordon Brown over David Cameron for British PM any day of the week. Substance over style. Though of course a vibrant and competitive Liberal Democrat would be welcome...

3.) Even though, I expected it, I've been surprised by the level and intensity of anti-Americanism here among folks from the UK and elsewhere. With Iraq plunging deeper into civil war and Afghanistan continuing to unravel (in warlord competition to control the opium trade), people are blaming the US for a more unstable and unpeaceful world order. If the US is to regain its standing and reputation in the world as a principled power, we've got quite a task ahead of us in public diplomacy, humility and ultimately (my take): humanitarianism.