Monthly Archives: November 2012

U.S.: New Home Sales Virtually Unchanged in October

  • By David M. Kinchen
U.S.: New Home Sales Virtually Unchanged in October
Sales of newly built, single-family houses in October held virtually unchanged from a downwardly revised pace in September, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000 units, according to figures released by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“New-home sales have been occurring at a fairly steady pace since this summer, with October sales running about 17 percent ahead of the pace set at the same time last year,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “While this is encouraging, housing’s recovery is being significantly constrained by overly tight mortgage lending conditions at this time, and policymaker discussions about changes to the mortgage interest deduction could cast a shadow on future housing demand.”

“After steady improvement in home sales through most of this year, the pace of that activity effectively leveled off over the four months from July to October,” added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The latest numbers are right in line with our forecast, which projects that sales will resume a slow, upward trajectory going forward and will end 2012 about 20 percent ahead of 2011.”
Regionally, new-home sales numbers were mixed in October. The Midwest posted a 62.2 percent gain following a big dip in the previous month, and the West posted a solid 8.8 percent increase. Meanwhile, the South and Northeast posted declines of 11.6 percent and 32.3 percent, respectively – the latter of which was likely impacted by storm preparations at the end of the month.
The inventory of new homes for sale rose marginally to a still-slim 147,000 units in October, a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Iced’: Dani O’Malley Stars in First Entry in Karen Moning’s New Urban Fantasy Series

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Iced': Dani O'Malley Stars in First Entry in Karen Moning's New Urban Fantasy Series

Beware of best friends forever: Mackayla ‘Mac’ Lane and Dani O’Malley were BFF in post-apocalyptic Dublin, Ireland — until they weren’t — in the first entry in a new series by Karen Marie Moning “Iced” (Delacorte Press hardcover, 512 pages. $27.00).

We last saw Mac Lane in the wonderful graphic novel “Fever Moon” (Del Rey, like Delacorte an imprint of Random House). Link to my review: When you read that review you’ll quickly discover that I liked it very much. I’ve come to believe that the graphic novel is the ideal way to deliver tales of post-apocalyptic urban fantasy.

Mac and Dani are both humans but with superhuman powers and weapons — a spear with Mac and a sword with Dani. In “Iced,” Dani reminisces about her former friend:

“I say we take Mac’s suggestion and pump the room full of concrete,” Val says.

I wince. Just hearing her name makes my stomach hurt. Me and Mac used to be two peas in the Mega pod, close as sisters. She’d kill me in a heartbeat now.

Well, she’d try.

I’m faster.

Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning

“Exactly how do you expect us to get concrete trucks down into the catacombs beneath the abbey?” Kat demands. “To say nothing of how much it would take to seal that chamber. It’s three times the size of Inspector Jayne’s training green, with a ceiling as high as any cathedral!”

I shift position, tucking my knees up, careful to be real quiet. My legs are cramped from sitting with them crossed beneath me. I’m in the cafeteria at the abbey, high up on a beam in the ceiling rafters where nobody can see me, munching a Snickers bar and eavesdropping. It’s one of my favorite perches for scoping out the details. I’m a good climber, fast and agile. Since I’m still just a kid in most people’s opinions, folks rarely let me in on the scoop. No worries there. I became a pro at letting myself in years ago.”

* * *

Right from the start, I’m going to say that I liked “Fever Moon” better. The “fever” world of Moning, with “Unseelies, “Faes” and other creatures, all seeking to kill the 14-year-old streetwise beyond her years Dani, is best portrayed with pictures — and the artwork of “Fever Moon” was beyond outstanding. I’m thinking that “Iced” will appeal to the more literary minded group of Moning’s readers, while the graphic novel will appeal to a wider segment of fans. Urban fantasy fans want pictures — the more the better — just the way Dani likes her Snickers.

“Iced” has some of the same characters as “Fever Moon,” including Mac’s dangerously attractive friend Jeremy Barrons and Inspector Jayne, the top cop of Dublin, who wants her “sword of light.”

“Fever Moon” adds another potential destroyer of Dani, Ryodan, owner of the city’s hottest nightclubs, Chester’s. (No, Lindsay Lohan, you’re not welcome there after your latest arrest at Avenue, a club on 10th Avenue in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. It wasn’t “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” but there was an altercation between Lohan and a woman from Miami Beach and shoving and fisticuffs were involved. Maybe Lindsay, 26, ought to consider a career in ice hockey).

Ryodan wants to hire Dani to find out who’s freezing Fae and humans dead in his club. Dani, the girl about town who even publishes her own newspaper, “The Dani Daily”, knows everybody and Ryodan wants to tap into her skills. Lately Dani has become supremely angry (seriously pissed off) when the format of her newspaper has been stolen by a group calling itself weCare and publishing a rip-off called “The Dublin Daily.”

Here’s a little background, quoted from my “Fever Moon” review: “Dublin — and I don’t mean Dublin, Texas, home of the original Dr Pepper, or Dublin, Ohio, home of the Memorial golf championship — is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae in the Irish capital are down. A third of the world’s population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don’t stand a chance against them.”

Welcome to Dublin! We hope you can get out alive. There are no guarantees.

About the Author 

Karen Marie Moning (pronounced “Mawning”) is the New York Times bestselling author of the Fever series, featuring MacKayla Lane, and the award-winning Highlander series. She has a bachelor’s degree in society and law from Purdue University. “Iced” is the first entry in a series set in the Fever world. Her

Publisher’s website:

OP-ED: Neither Grand, Nor a Bargain

  • By David Swanson 
David Swanson

David Swanson

Liberal groups have been organizing protests of the looming “grand bargain” (a bargain between two political parties aimed at saving us from the fictional “fiscal cliff” by giving more of our money to the super-rich and the war machine).  But they’ve been doing so only in Republican Congressional districts and with messages placing all the blame on “the Republicans,” thus telegraphing the message that all shall be tolerated if labeled “Democratic.”

We’re supposed to be against a bargain, but only against one of the two partners to the bargain.  Any bets on how well that’ll work?


Meanwhile Obama’s senior advisor David Plouffe hypes the danger of the “fiscal cliff,” calls for lower corporate taxes and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, but says not one word about military spending. He also claims to want to end tax cuts for the wealthy but is much more passionate about the danger of ending those cuts across the board, suggesting — as did Obama’s statements and silences at his first post-election press conference — that the White House will not in the end refuse to extend the “Bush” tax cuts for everyone, including the multi-billionaires — just as it’s done before.  At the same press conference, Obama volunteered that we need “deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes.”


Liberal groups have written to the president politely suggesting what they’d like, but with nothing in the way of consequences if they don’t get it.  And what they’d like is slightly higher taxes on the super-rich, and no cuts to Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid.  Or else . . . or else . . . they’ll be sadly loyal until death do them part.


Neither Plouffe nor Obama nor any liberal activist group mentions that half of discretionary spending goes into war preparations.  None proposes to raise corporate taxes, restore the estate tax, remove the cap on Social Security taxes, tax financial transactions and capital gains, tax carbon emissions, massively and urgently invest in green energy jobs, or cut the $1.3 trillion war preparations budget in half.


We are not broke.  We are being robbed.


I get emails every day now on the “This isn’t what we voted for” theme.  “TPP is not what we voted for.”  “Drone kills are not what we voted for.”  As if you can ignore the candidate’s platform and vote for your own fantasy under his name, and then “pressure” him to become what you fantasized even while swearing your allegiance to his party come hell or high water or hurricanes.  Well, guess what, the Grand Bargain is what Democrats and Republicans voted for.  But that doesn’t mean we have to stand for it.  Having voted against it wouldn’t have stopped it.  Only getting out of our houses and nonviolently resisting it now will stop it.


The peace movement is ready to take to the streets and the suites, but worried that it doesn’t have the size to do the job.  Of course it does have the size to start something big if it merely finds the determination.  But imagine what could happen if Tahrir Square inspired us all again and more seriously, and with four years rather than two years to work with before the next debilitation by the latest “Most Important Election of Your Lifetime.”  Imagine if liberal organizations and labor unions openly recognized where all the public money is (in the war machine) and demanded it for useful purposes.


The peace movement is in favor of everything they’re in favor of: the right to organize, civil liberties, an end to for-profit prisons and drug wars and racism, affordable housing, a living wage, education, healthcare, and a sustainable environment.  The enemy of these things is the military industrial complex, and if it remains beyond challenge, a just society will remain unachievable.  When Dr. King opposed “racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” he didn’t mean for us to ignore the third one.  He didn’t mean for us to imagine that the three were separable and that we could oppose one or two of them effectively without opposing the combination.


Let’s stop obediently opposing the worst bits of a Grand Catastrophe and begin denouncing and resisting the whole charade, replacing it with a grand vision of our own devising., created just last year, is already approaching 200,000 active members, and has been flooding Congress and the President with this message:

“Here’s a grand bargain we want: expand Medicare and Social Security, invest in green energy, raise taxes on the rich and corporations, and cut military spending back to the level of 12 years ago.”

The message is editable, meaning that you can and should add your own comments. I encourage everyone to do so, to ask friends to do so, and to be preparing for serious nonviolent action.
* * *David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.organd and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswansonand FaceBook.

S&P/CASE-SHILLER: Home Prices Rise for the Sixth Straight Month

  • By David M. Kinchen 
S&P/CASE-SHILLER: Home Prices Rise for the Sixth Straight Month

Data through September 2012, released Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that home prices continued to rise in the third quarter of 2012. The national composite was up 3.6% in the third quarter of 2012 versus the third quarter of 2011, and was up 2.2% versus the second quarter of 2012.

In September 2012, the 10- and 20-City Composites showed annual returns of +2.1% and +3.0%. Average home prices in the 10- and 20-City Composites were each up by 0.3% in September versus August 2012. Seventeen of the 20 MSAs and both Composites posted better annual returns in September versus August 2012; Detroit and Washington D.C. recorded a slight deceleration in their annual rates, and New York saw no change.


The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 3.6% gain in the third quarter of 2012 over the third quarter of 2011. In September 2012, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual increases of 2.1% and 3.0%, respectively.

“Home prices rose in the third quarter, marking the sixth consecutive month of increasing prices,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “In September’s report all three headline composites and 17 of the 20 cities gained over their levels of a year ago. Month-over-month, 13 cities and both Composites posted positive monthly gains.
“The National Composite increased by 3.6% from the same quarter in 2011 and by 2.2% from the second quarter of 2012. The 10- and 20-City Composites have posted positive annual returns for four consecutive months with a +2.1% and +3.0% annual change in September, respectively. Month-over-month, both Composites have recorded increases for six consecutive months, with the most recent monthly gain being +0.3% for each Composite.

“We are entering the seasonally weak part of the year. The headline figures, which are not seasonally adjusted, showed five cities with lower prices in September versus only one in August; in the seasonally adjusted data the pattern was reversed: one city fell in September versus two in August. Despite the seasons, housing continues to improve.

“Phoenix continues to lead the recovery with a +20.4% annual growth rate. Atlanta has finally reversed 26 months of annual declines with a +0.1% annual rate as observed in September’s housing data. At the other end of the spectrum, Chicago and New York were the only two cities to post annual declines of 1.5% and 2.3% respectively and were also down 0.6% and 0.1% month-over-month.”

“Thirteen of the 20 cities recorded positive monthly returns; Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland and New York saw modest drops in home prices in September as compared to August; Tampa and Washington D.C. were flat,” Blitzer added. “With six months of consistently rising home prices, it is safe to say that we are now in the midst of a recovery in the housing market.”


As of the third quarter of 2012, average home prices across the United States are back at their mid-2003 levels. At the end of the third quarter of 2012, the National Index was up 2.2% over the second quarter of 2012 and 3.6% above the third quarter of 2011.
As of September 2012, average home prices across the United States for the 10-City and 20-City Composites are back to their autumn 2003 levels. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the decline for both Composites is approximately 29% through September 2012. For both Composites, the September 2012 levels are approximately 9% above their recent lows seen in March 2012.


In September 2012, 13 MSAs and both Composites posted positive monthly gains. Home prices in Tampa and Washington DC saw no change from August to September. Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland and New York saw a slight drop in prices in September. Phoenix recorded the highest increase in annual rate,


Chicago and New York were the only two cities that fared worse year-over-year with respective annual rates of -1.5% and -2.3%.
Atlanta, Detroit and Las Vegas remain the only three cities with average home prices below their January 2000 levels. Detroit with a 79.82 print, is nearly 20% below its January 2000 level.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Christmas Garland’: Anne Perry’s Christmas Novel Features Victor Narraway Facing an Almost Impossible Task

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'A Christmas Garland': Anne Perry's Christmas Novel Features Victor Narraway Facing an Almost Impossible Task

Regular readers of Anne Perry will recognize a central character, Victor Narraway, in her 2012 Christmas novel “A Christmas Garland” (Ballantine Books, 208 pages, $18.00).


Narraway’s a young officer in the British army in India, not the prominent figure of the author’s “Dorchester Terrace” (2012) and “Treason at Lisson Grove” (2011), the predecessor of Thomas Pitt as commander of the Special Branch and (“Dorchester Terrace” my review: ) and his boss (“Treason at Lisson Grove” my review:


It’s December 1857 and twenty-year old Lieutenant Victor Narraway, two years out of Eton and in besieged India for only a year, has been posted to the British army’s garrison in the town of Cawnpore, site of the June 1857 siege and subsequent massacre of hundreds of civilians and soldiers. Britain, with only a few thousand troops, is barely hanging on in India when a guard in Cawnpore garrison is killed and a Sikh prisoner escapes, which leads to more British deaths as the army goes after the escapee.


Even though there are no witnesses to testify against him and no evidence against him, British medical orderly Corporal John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when the crimes were committed. Everybody — from Dr. Rawlins, his superior officer, to the men of the garrison who’ve turned to him for treatment of wounds and everyday ailments — agree that Tallis is a brilliant orderly, with skills that would make him an outstanding doctor. This makes the crime he’s charged with all the more puzzling.


Narraway is told by Colonel Latimer — who picks him to defend Tallis and who will serve as presiding judge — to put up a good defense but not to try very hard with a man who insists that he’s innocent. Latimer obviously wants everything wrapped up by Christmas.


Anne Perry

Anne Perry


Although he’s not a lawyer, and he only has a few days to prepare his defense, Narraway moves t0 learn the details of the escape and the murder of the guard. Inspired by a soldier’s widow and her children, and by his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway searches for the truth. In town haunted by fresh memories of massacre, he is the orderly’s only hope.

“A Christmas Garland” reminded me of one of my favorite films, “Breaker Morant” (1980) set during the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th Century in South Africa, directed by Bruce Beresford, where an inexperienced British officer played brilliantly by Jack Thompson is assigned to defend three Australian lieutenants on trial for shooting Boer prisoners.

Like Beresford’s masterpiece — and I recommend it without reservation — much of the action in “A Christmas Garland” is a courtroom drama, with the defense attorney investigating the crimes. And thanks to a simple Christmas garland given him by the widow’s young daughter — and a game of hide-and-seek, Narraway comes to a different conclusion than that of the officer in charge of Tallis’s trial — and the prosecuting officer, Captain Busby, who has some history with Narraway.


I sometimes joke that Anne Perry and Joyce Carol Oates — both born in 1938 like the present reviewer — write faster than I can read. How Perry and Oates can be so prolific and maintain the highest standards of writing will always be a mystery to me!


About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of nine earlier holiday novels—A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Visitor, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Secret, and A Christmas Beginning—as well as the William Monk series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series set in Victorian England, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Scotland. Her web

For more on the Cawnpore siege and massacre:


PARALLEL UNIVERSE: My Search for Fair Treatment of Israel on Web News Sites Disappoints Once More with BrasscheckTV

By David M. Kinchen

I’ve given up expecting fair treatment of Israel on the many “Progressive” “Liberal” or left-wing news sites that I’ve long subscribed to.

I’m talking about anything from David Swanson in Charlottesville, VA; Truthout, Reader Supported News, most of the contributions about the Middle East from my good friend Tom Hastings in Portland, OR — just about any site that calls itself Progressive.

If you really want to see Israel hatred at its most viral, go to : It’s like a blast from the Hitler past, giving Jews no right to live in an area they’ve been a part of long before the invention of Islam.

To be “Progressive” in today’s thinking is to be anti-Israel — even edging over the line to anti-Semitism — and often crossing the line. The “progressive” churches are all anti-Israel, and very pro Palestinian, ignoring the treatment their fellow Christians receive as minorities in Muslim countries.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has a deep strain of prejudice against Israel, and gives  little or no mention of the atrocities Muslims commit daily against Christians and other religions. Code Pink stalwart Medea Benjamin, associated with leftist causes and Occupy Wall Street,  comes across as a self-hating Jew. There are quite a few of these people on the Left, including Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein.

For news of anti-Christian behavior in countries where Muslims make up the majority or a substantial minority, I have to go to the AINA site. For the rest, I go to The Daily Caller (DC), The DC on Campus or Accuracy in Media or Commentary magazine.

I had hopes for a site called, which shows videos. The site takes its name from a 1920 book by muckraker Upton Sinclair called “The Brass Check” which attacked the news media in the early 20th Century. Sinclair was a Progressive, too. In those days Progressives like Woodrow Wilson and the promoters of Eugenics could be relied upon to show bias against blacks and in some cases — but not Wilson’s — Jews.

So when BrasscheckTV came along I expected —  hoped  is a better word — it to be fair and balanced when it comes to dealing with the only real democracy in the Middle East, and one of the few in Asia — Israel.

Then I saw “A General’s Son” (link: featuring an Israeli soldier, Miko Peled, son of an Israel general, venting about the alleged racism, apartheid nature of Israel and how the nation claims everything from the river (Jordan) to the sea (Mediterranean) as Israeli territory.

As if the Palestinians don’t do the same thing as they continue to deny the existence of Israel as a sovereign state. I wondered aloud what would be the fate of a Palestinian speaking out against the racism of his country, about how they should be like Belgium and Switzerland, with everybody living in peace, as Peled notes in the video.

Doesn’t Peled know that the divide between Belgium’s French and Dutch speaking peoples has led to talk of splitting up the country in the manner of the former Czechoslovakia — not to mention the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia. And the Swiss mentioned in the video self-segregate, with Italian, German and French speaking Swiss pretty much living in areas where they predominate.

And for those of a libertarian bent who’ve given Ron and Rand Paul a pass for their anti-Israel views, Commentary magazine — another reliable supporter of Israel — has cautioned Sen. Rand Paul about blaming Israel for everything that happens in the Middle East: link:

Criticism of Israel has a place in our discussion of world events, but when it becomes as one-sided as it is on the sites mentioned above, one has to wonder about the motives of the critics. Israel itself has critics of its policies and they’re not being slaughtered in the thousands the way the “rebels” of Syria are.

OP-ED: Iraq’s Minorities — A New Wave of Torment

By D. J. McIntosh and Nuri Kino


GMT 11-27-2012 0:59:37; reprinted from
Assyrian International News Agency
(AINA) — One of the indelible images of the Iraq war was the sight of Dr. Donny George, horrified and tearful, at the sight of looters and arsonists attacking the National Museum. As a former Director General of the museum, the destruction and loss of his country’s heritage cut deeply. Little did he know at the time that this theft of history would soon be replicated by the ethnic cleansing of his own people, known as Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs.


As the heat of sectarian conflict exploded , Christian Assyrians were killed, some beheaded in front of video cameras by extremists who swore only Muslims should occupy Iraq, driven from their homes and businesses, targeted by religious intolerance and the prospect of economic gain. Along with other Iraqi minorities, almost half the Assyrian population has fled their homeland, the majority as refugees in Syria, Turkey and Jordan (report).


Donny George was one of the stubborn ones, committed to a united Iraq, a mosaic of all religions and ethnic groups. After severe threats made to his family, he was forced to join the mass of refugees escaping to Syria in August 2006. He was one of the few fortunate recipients of aid from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and received help to move to America. From his eventual post at the State University at Stony Brook he continued to champion the cause of recovering and preserving Iraqi artifacts and to advocate for the protection of the Assyrian nation in Iraq.


Fast forward to 2012. In a new wave of displacement, Assyrian refugees are once again being forced to flee, this time from their temporary homes in Syria along with other Syrians and Iraqi minorities — Mandeans and Yezidis (AINA 11-24-2012).


Will international authorities step up this time to protect them?


Many individual stories of torment have emerged from the corrosive battles now engulfing Syria. On August 14th, a young Christian Assyrian man, Ninos Kato, was kidnapped and forced to publicly convert to Islam, his confession broadcast through a You Tube video. For most, the only recourse to escape the conflict is through human smuggling. A fast growing, billion dollar business, smugglers charge $18,000 to transport an individual to safe havens in Europe. Many disappear en route; others are abandoned by smugglers in Russia, Eastern Europe and Turkey.


Sweden is expecting 5,000 Assyrian refugees this year alone. In a small Swedish town, Södertälje, known as Europe’s Assyrian capital, every fourth resident is of Assyrian descent. Assyrians have their own television stations, soccer teams and religious leaders. Here, they feel safe. But the town is suffering greatly; schools and social welfare programs are under massive pressure from the huge influx of new refugees and Boel Godner, the town’s mayor, is pleading for help.


From the present to the past. At the height of the Assyrian empire, one of its great kings, Ashurbanipal, reigned in the latter part of the 7th century B.C. over territory stretching from modern-day Iran to Egypt. As can be seen from this quote he was not a modest man by any means. “I Ashurbanipal took care of the wisdom of Nebo, the whole of the inscribed tablets, of all the clay tablets, the whole of the mysteries and difficulties, I solved.” A boast perhaps well earned for much of the phenomenal record of Mesopotamian achievement, scripted in more than 30,000 first books in the form of clay tablets, were written under his direction and lodged in the library at the Assyrian capital, Nineveh.


Not long after the king’s death, Nineveh was looted and burned, a dramatic and final end to the empire. In a strange twist of fate, those fires helped preserve clay tablets which would otherwise have eroded. Since the first Semitic speaking tribes swept out of the western deserts to settle in what is now Iraq, Assyrians have maintained a continuous identity and culture over a span of 4,400 years. But the waves of change and destruction swelling through the Mid-East threaten a permanent end to their legacy and to the culture of Iraq’s other minorities.


Donny George feared his people would become a nation of nomads hounded from one country to another and this is what now appears to be unfolding. On his way to make another speech about their plight, he died of a heart attack in the airport at Toronto. His greatest wish was for a secure homeland for Assyrians and other Iraqi minorities on the Nineveh plains in northern Iraq.


Failure to protect the indigenous people of Iraq and their heritage will be the world’s loss. Time is running out for them.


D. J. McIntosh is the author of The Witch of Babylon.

Nuri Kino is an award winning Swedish-Assyrian journalist, author of The Line in the Sand, to be released in the United States in Winter 2013.

CollegeBound Cares Helps Those in Need, Including Orphaned and Hungry Cats and Dogs

    •  When I heard about an organization that was collecting pet food for animals rescued from Superstorm Sandy, I immediately packed up a Care Package of unopened (natch!) canned cat food that my finicky feline Greta had rejected in the past. I shipped the package off to CollegeBound Cares at 1200 South Avenue, Suite 202, Staten Island, NY 10306.

    I received a thank you email from Gina LaGuardia, who assured me that contributions of cat and dog food and supplies would be welcomed for the foreseeable future. If the devastation of Staten Island, coastal New Jersey and much of Brooklyn and Queens has slipped off the national news media agenda, it’s still a daily concern, Ms. LaGuardia assured me. 

    The CollegeBound Network’s CollegeBound Cares collected thousands of dollars in donations and supplies immediately following Superstorm Sandy.

    Superstorm Sandy may have devastated the community in and around the Staten Island, New York headquarters of educational publishing company The CollegeBound Network, but the fortitude and spirit of resilience here is stronger than ever.

    Through its philanthropic initiative, CollegeBound Cares, The CollegeBound Network (CBN), collected thousands of dollars in donations and supplies in a matter of days from CBN employees, friends, and families in its effort to assemble care packages for the company’s 15 CollegeBound staff members affected by the storm, as well as those in the surrounding community.

    “We’re like a family at The CollegeBound Network, which is why we quickly reacted to help our employees and our neighbors affected by Sandy,” explains Luciano Rammairone, founder and president. “CollegeBound Cares was designed for this very purpose – to exemplify the spirit of giving that drives our company.”

    In addition to employee donations of clothing, food, baby and pet supplies, toiletries, blankets, flashlights, batteries, cleaning products, and more, The CollegeBound Network’s partners also contributed to CollegeBound Cares’ Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, including Paychex (Target gift cards), WB Mason (food drive to benefit the Staten Island community), National Association for College Admission Counseling (coats, clothing, and toiletries), Telenet (delivery trucks for deployment of resources), Udderly Delicious (milk, as needed), and Everson Best (Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards). Monetary donations were also received from Staten Island Parent Magazine, Kelley Drye & Warren, CUE Brokerage, and Professional Group Plans.

    Those wishing to help can email message The CollegeBound Network on Facebook. And here’s that mailing address again: CollegeBound Cares at 1200 South Avenue, Suite 202, Staten Island, NY 10306.

    About The CollegeBound Network

    Since 1987, The CollegeBound Network (CBN) has worked with America’s leading colleges, universities, and career schools in connecting learners with educational opportunities. More than 3 million surfers utilize CBN’s sites, including, and others. CBN specializes in recruitment solutions for 1,000+ educational institutions and 3,500 campuses using websites, content, a dedicated Student Services division, social media, daily blogs, TV/radio campaigns, and more.

    BOOK REVIEW: ‘Collateral’: Ellen Hopkins Returns for the Third Time This Year with Poetic Take on Warriors and the Women Who Love Them

    • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 


    BOOK REVIEW: 'Collateral': Ellen Hopkins Returns for the Third Time This Year with Poetic Take on Warriors and the Women Who Love Them

    Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
    Don’t let ’em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
    Make ’em be doctors and lawyers and such

    Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
    They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone
    Even with someone they love

    Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold
    And they’d rather give you a song than diamonds or gold
    Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levis

    And each night begins a new day
    And if you don’t understand him and he don’t die young
    You’ll probably just ride away 
    — “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” was first recorded in 1975 by Ed Bruce, who wrote the song with his wife Patsy Bruce. The song has been covered by many artists, including Willie Nelson. 

    The lyrics of Ed and Patsy Bruce’s immortal song echoed through my head as I read “Collateral” (Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 512 pages, $24.99)) a novel in verse by Ellen Hopkins about military men and the women who love them.

    Cole Gleason, the handsome young Marine with whom Ashley Patterson falls in love, could have been a cowboy, growing up as he does in Wyoming. Instead he joins the Marine Corps, and is stationed at Camp Pendleton where San Diego State University student Ashley, from Lodi, CA, in the Sierra Foothills of central California met and fell in love with him. Maybe “in lust” would be a better description because Hopkins presents us with very explicit portrayals of their encounters.

    Ellen Hopkins

    Ellen Hopkins

    I’ve reviewed two previous Ellen Hopkins novels in verse this year — “Triangles” (my review: and the young adult novel “Tilt” (my review: Hopkins makes verse work very well indeed. It’s a remarkable achievement — as anyone who’s attempted to write verse knows. And, for those who worry that verse novels might be more difficult to read, don’t worry, be happy! They may be even easier to read than novels written in prose.

    Sometimes won’t know how to take him
    He ain’t wrong, he’s just different but his pride won’t let him
    Do things to make you think he’s right

    Ashley and Darian, Ashley’s best friend since grade school, meet Cole and and his buddy Spencer in an Oceanside, CA club frequented by Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton and women attracted to them. It’s instant lust at first sight for Darian and Spencer, but it’s more complicated with Cole and Ashley.

    Cole doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man Ashley held; he’s passionate and romantic, and he even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a deeply felt, sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Both Cole and Ashley want to marry, and they become engaged. Cracks — ever so tiny at first, but becoming wider — appear in their relationship. Taking a poetry course from a handsome, divorced professor shows Ashley what life would be like without Cole.

    Ashley also learns that Lara, Cole’s previous girlfriend, might not be so previous. As their relationship blossoms, jealously and secrets appear between Cole and Ashley. There’s a surprising conclusion. No, I’m not giving it away!

    “Collateral” captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. While those on the home front in the new style wars in the Middle East may be far from the ever-shifting battlefields, suicide bombers and IED’s, they, too, sacrifice their lives and happiness for their country at war — a war that is deeply unpopular. Everybody must eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage it causes is worth the fight.

    In a prose author’s note, Hopkins says her goal in writing “Collateral” was “to put a spotlight on our returning warriors and to hopefully increase interest in providing the resources they need. As more and more return home, the help they require will become harder to find, because of the struggling economy and also because of the growing anti-war sentiment in this country….”

    “Collateral” occupies a writing niche that will probably attract more novelists who enjoy versification. For now, Ellen Hopkins owns the franchise.

    About the Author

    Ellen Hopkins is the The New York Times bestselling author of “Triangles”, as well as nine young adult novels, including the “Crank” trilogy and “Tilt”, which are beloved by teens and adults alike. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her family. Visit her online at

    NAMIBIA: Indigenous Semi-Nomadic Himba & Zemba March in Protest Against Human Rights Violations

    • By Rebecca Sommer 
    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings

    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings
    (c) Rebecca Sommer

    Hundreds of semi-nomadic Himba from Omuhonga and Epupa region marched today from their villages to Okanguati, a small town about 120 km away from Opuwo, to protest against Namibia’s human rights violations against them.

    These violations, documented and signed by the Himba chiefs of the entire Himba territory (Kaokoland) in two historic Declarations have been submitted by Earth Peoples to the United Nations on February 23rd in 2012.

    The Himba from Epupa and Omuhonga also wrote an invitation letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was also forwarded by Earth Peoples to the UN system at the same day.
    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, visited the Himba in September 2012, where a Himba spokesperson read aloud the Himba Declaration once again to him. You can read the UN Special Rapporteur’s statement here.

    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings

    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings
    (c) Rebecca Sommer

    “We invited Namibian Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) to come, but they refused to attend our protest manifestation” said Motjimbika Mutambo, a respected community leader from Himba village Omuhonga.“We handed our petition and demands to our elected Epupa Regional Councillor, the Honorable Muharukua, with the expectation that he will forward it to the President” Mutambo added.

    “We don’t understand why we have to repeat ourselves over and over again, and the Government of Namibia is not listening to us, and is continuing to push for the construction of the dam in the Baynes Mountains without our consent. We collectively refused the money offered to our communities and families that would have to relocate” said Hikuminae Kapika, the Chief from the area of Epupa and Omuhonga.

    “We have these big mining companies making holes in our land, making roads where we graze our herds, and we don’t want that. We don’t know what they are digging out, we have no idea what they do to our water and land, and we don’t want them here. Nobody asked us for our permission.” He added.
    “If the government is going to build the dam they better kill us first before they do that. This is our land. We are the original inhabitants and true owners. But since independence, the Government of Namibia has dispossessed us from our rights to our land, and our rights to decide what is being done with and on it.” Said Muhapika Munjombara.
    Members of the indigenous peoples Zemba also attended the protest march. They also submitted through Earth Peoples their Human Rights violation Declaration to the United Nations.

    In the Zemba Declaration, it is stated:

    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings

    Traditional Himba leader human rights gatherings
    (c) Rebecca Sommer

    In the past our appointed leaders had to belong to the royal house, but that has changed over the time. Today, we elect our leaders. But to our great grievance, Namibia denies us not only our rightful place as legitimate Namibian citizens, with untrue claims that we are refugees from Angola, but also denies us our right to our land, and to choose our own representatives and leaders.
    We demand that we get our right to choose our own representatives and leaders, and to be allowed to administer our internal affairs, including our territory and land, and to rule our affairs with our own customary laws and traditional courts.
    We demand that the Government of Namibia recognizes without delay our chief as the legally recognized Zemba Traditional Authority.