China, Darfur and the “Apolitical” Olympics

In Darfur, the Chinese are covering for or inspiring a situation I wrote about a year ago in an article published by Le Monde and reprinted in the American and European press. Entire regions of the country have been reduced to scorched earth: zones where one can drive for hundreds of miles without seeing a living soul, where there are refugee areas to which survivors have been herded like cattle, where the rape of women and girls has been raised to a military strategy. Even today, at the very moment I write this, air attacks are likely taking place in the western part of the province, and at least 20,000 newly displaced people have been cut off from all humanitarian aid in the region of Jebel Moon alone.  Bernard-Henri Levy, TNR,  more here  

Mia Farrow  has travelled to Darfur seven times in her efforts to spur the international community into action in Darfur.  Up to date UN information on the situation there can be found at her website:

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The conflict in Darfur is deteriorating, with full deployment of a new peacekeeping force delayed until 2009 and no prospect of a political settlement for a war that has killed perhaps 300,000 people in five years, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

In grim reports to the Security Council, the United Nations aid chief and the representative of the peacekeeping mission said suffering in the Sudanese region is worsening. Tens of thousands more have been uprooted from their homes and food rations to the needy are about to be cut in half, they said.

“We continue to see the goal posts receding, to the point where peace in Darfur seems further away today than ever,” said John Holmes, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

more here

The Olympic Dream?

This is a story about the ups and downs of my life as an internationally competitive athlete; as a young girl growing up in a world where underage and underweight girls were looked upon as cultural icons; as a fierce competitor in a culture where second place means losing; as a one time winner who wasn’t going to win anymore. 

I was a girl who competed as a gymnast. I had fun and then I didn’t. I lost and then I won. And then I lost again. I starved and then I ate and I thought I’d never stop. 

But I did. 

 Jennifer Sey, “Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics’ Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parenting, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams”

 

At 15, Sey left her New Jersey home for the Parkettes National Gymnastic Training Center in Allentown, Pa., where she boarded alone in an unheated room in exchange for a chance to become a champion. Under the tutelage of Bill and Donna Strauss, a husband-and-wife coaching team notorious for producing winners by any means necessary, she accomplished just that — nabbing the U.S. National title in 1986. But Sey was never quite talented or powerful enough to be hailed as the second coming of Retton and eventually, burned out by the pressure to stay skinny and the pain of competing on barely healed broken bones, she retired.

salon.com, “An Interview with Jennifer Sey”

It all sounds like such … fun … it all sounds like … childhood? many forms of girlhood?