UNICEF chief visits traumatized children in DR Congo

The people of the far northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo live in constant fear of attacks from a notorious rebel group from neighboring Uganda, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today after visiting the region.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman traveled to Dungu, a remote Congolese village near the border with Sudan and Uganda where over 300,000 people have been uprooted by clashes in a region terrorized by the rebels known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“The LRA is notorious for kidnapping children, forcing them to kill and maim innocent victims and enslaving young girls as their concubines,” she said after talking with children who had been abducted by the rebels.
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Mentally ill U.S. citizen deported to Mexico

The Charlotte Observer reports

At the time of Mark Lyttle’s deportation, immigration officials had criminal record checks that said he was a U.S. citizen. They had his Social Security number and the names of his parents. They had Lyttle’s own sworn statement that he had been born in Rowan County.

None of this stopped them from leaving Lyttle, a mentally ill American who speaks no Spanish, alone and penniless in Mexico, where he has no ties.

“I tried to tell them I was a U.S. citizen born right here in Rowan County,” Lyttle says now. “But no one believed me.”

Did State separate mother and child because mother does not speak English?

Time magazine asks “Can the U.S. government take a woman’s baby from her because she doesn’t speak English?”

Cirila Baltazar Cruz comes from the mountainous southern state of Oaxaca, a region of Mexico that makes Appalachia look affluent. To escape the destitution in her village of 1,500 mostly Chatino Indians, Baltazar Cruz, 34, migrated earlier this decade to the U.S., hoping to send money back to two children she’d left in her mother’s care. She found work at a Chinese restaurant on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

But Baltazar Cruz speaks only Chatino, barely any Spanish and no English. Last November she went to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Miss., … to give birth to a baby girl, Rubí. … the hospital called the state Department of Human Services, which ruled Baltazar Cruz an unfit mother in part because her lack of English “placed her unborn child in danger and will place the baby in danger in the future.”

Rubí was taken from Baltazar Cruz, who now faces deportation. In May, a … judge gave the infant to a couple (it is yet unclear if for foster care or adoptive purposes) … Cruz is challenging the ruling in … court and hopes that if she is deported she can at least take Rubi back to Mexico with her.

Read more here.

UN honors Sen. Kennedy as 'a tireless advocate for refugees'

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations refugee chief today paid tribute to Edward Kennedy, the United States senator who passed away yesterday at the age of 77 after battling brain cancer, lauding his support for the Organization and his efforts to defend the rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres said the life of the late senator and brother of former President John F. Kennedy is a testimony to the difference a single policy-maker can make.

“Year after year, conflict after conflict, Senator Kennedy kept the plight of refugees on the international and national agenda, promoting policies and laws that saved and shaped countless lives,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement. “The world is diminished by his passing. But we will always have his example to inspire us.”

Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon and Sen. Edward Kennedy in Washington, D.C., in 2007. (UN/Mark Garten)

Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon and Sen. Edward Kennedy in Washington, D.C., in 2007. (UN/Mark Garten)

The High Commissioner noted that throughout his life, Senator Kennedy was “a tireless advocate for refugees – among the most vulnerable people in the world.”
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Former migrant farm worker now a leading U.S. neurosurgeon

Nova Science NOW reports on the inspiring story of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa. When he was 19, he jumped the border fence between the United States and Mexico to become a farm worker. Now, he is one of the leading brain surgeons in the United States.

The very first line in my CV is migrant farmworker. I put that on purpose. I’m proud of it. For many years, I relayed a story about when I was told that it couldn’t be possible that I was that smart and I was Mexican. It really hurt me. For many, many years, I was embarrassed, to be honest with you, and I had to deal with that. And now I am proud of it.

Nova Science NOW features former migrant farm worker Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.

Nova Science NOW features former migrant farm worker Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.


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Ted Kennedy: 'immigrant spirit of limitless possibility animates America'

Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. USA Today newspaper reports that

Sen. Edward Kennedy’s first major legislative victory helped change the face of the country and shaped his own political career. In 1965, Kennedy had been in the Senate less than three years. His party’s leaders gave him the job of pushing a bill to eliminate the quota system that had made it virtually impossible for anyone from anywhere but western Europe to immigrate to the USA.

President Barack Obama and Sen. Ted Kennedy walk on the grounds of the White House, before signing of the Kennedy Service Act at the SEED School in Washington, D.C., April 21, 2009. (White House/Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Sen. Ted Kennedy walk on the grounds of the White House, before signing of the Kennedy Service Act at the SEED School in Washington, D.C., April 21, 2009. (White House/Pete Souza)

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From Child Migrant Worker to Astronaut

Space shuttle Discovery will carry the Leonardo supply module to the International Space Station during STS-128, along with a new crew member for the station. One member of the shuttle crew blasting into space tomorrow will be Jose Hernandez. The San Francisco Chronicle writes the story of the NASA astronaut, who as a child toiled alongside his parents as a farm worker.

Astronaut Jose Hernandez. (NASA)

Astronaut Jose Hernandez. (NASA)

“A lot of kids loved summer vacation,” Hernandez said in a recent interview. “We dreaded it because we knew what that meant. That meant we were going to be working seven days a week in the fields.”

Hernandez, 47, vividly recalls being dusty, sweaty and tired in the back seat of the family’s car after a hard day of labor. Before starting the engine, his father would look back at his children and tell them, “Remember this feeling because if you guys don’t do well in school, this is your future.”

Read more here.

This is the first spaceflight for Jose Hernandez. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004 and completed his initial training in February 2006. He is slated to perform robotic operations to inspect Discovery after launch and assist with cargo transfer from shuttle to
station.