Thursday, January 24, 2013

The House I Live In Questions War on Drugs
How would you grade America’s war on drugs? Eugene Jarecki, in his provocative film, The House I Live In, humanizes the harshness of the epidemic and reality that almost seems unreal. “This is the primary most important human rights crisis facing America,” says Eugene Jarecki
John Legend, Danny Glover, and Brad Pitt are also executive producers of the film. Undoubtedly, the celebrity support brings a crowd, like the more than 1,000 people who packed Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, Jan. 19. But the captivating content that oozes off-screen through the revelatory candor of the cast profoundly carries the message. “I loved it and it’s very inspirational, says Gary Woodward, a Shiloh Baptist Church member.
The film peels away misconceptions and emotionally fine-combs through facts that have defined the war on drugs for more than 50 years. It unfolds into an impromptu education on class, politics and race in America. How much is too much time for someone to spend in prison for selling drugs that weigh little more than a bag of chips? Where are the serious rehabilitation and drug treatment facilities in prisons across the country? Is society getting a return on its exploding investment in more prisons? “This film is very important because there are so many issues and this can easily get swept under the rug,” says Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
The House I Live In gives crass answers to questions about crime, punishment and fairness, through people like Maurice. He’s 28 years old and for selling 50 grams of crack, will spend at least 20 years in prison. The judge empathizes but has no choice because of mandatory prison sentencing guidelines. “You don’t know what’s it’s like to go to bed at night knowing you’ve done an injustice to someone,” says Judge Mark Bennet, from Sioux City, IA. Maurice, like so many behind bars, continues to hold out hope. “If anything is going to be done, it’s going to have to be done by people out there,” says Maurice.

The House I Live In is sure to draw ire from people who see relaxing mandatory sentencing as a sign of being soft on crime. When a federal judge, a narcotics officer and a convicted criminal all come to the same conclusion, perhaps it’s time to reexamine the stern approach to obtaining a dream of a drug-free America. “Everybody needs to do something and it’s not just the responsibility of one person,” says David Kuhn, an outreach officer working with the producers of The House I Live In.
Log on to to view the trailer and the film’s screening schedule.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Dark Side of the Military

The Invisible War: Oscar-Nominated Film Exposes Rape in the Military

Kori is still fighting for medical care to treat injuries suffered while raped in the military.
He hit her so hard in the face years ago, today, Kori’s jaw has not fully healed. Her diet amounts to little more than baby food and yogurt. Kori’s attacker was not a stranger or a scorned, angry lover. The man who beat and raped Kori was a superior officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. Lee, a U.S. Marine, says an outranking male officer put a loaded gun to her head and engaged the bolt before sexually assaulting her repeatedly. Hannah was ignored. “The entire time I was screaming and yelling for help, and for him to stop, nobody came to the door, nobody came to help me,” says Hannah, who was raped by a Naval Officer.
Hanah holds her father tightly. She was a virgin and was raped in the military.
Every branch of the military has a cleaver slogan and commercial selling a dream. For millions of recruits, taking the oath and becoming a veteran equals pride and potential to see the world in a way few ever experience. Sadly, thousands of young women and some men every year fall victim to rape, a sacrifice they never expected to make, entering an invisible war.
In the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War,” raw and revelatory testimony from rape victims exposes a cover-your-ass and punish-the-victim military injustice system with a history that dates back nearly 75 years. In this film, you will cry, hope and pray that something good happens for all of the people who spoke up and those who remain silent.
Director, Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering masterfully weave compelling interviews, U.S. government statistics, evidence of botched investigations and a crippling military chain of command that appears to serve and protect the guilty.
Your heart sinks when you see victims struggle to tell their horrific stories, testify, and file a class-action lawsuit, aiming for some level of justice and respect. Loss of rank, pay and in some cases medical benefits was the verdict for the victim. There is a chance that change is on the way, as a result of “The Invisible War” catching the attention of politicians and top military brass. For more information, log on to , where you will see the film’s trailer, the film’s 2013 screening schedule and links to ways you can take action.

What was your experience in the military? Were you ever sexually harassed or assaulted? What happened when you told someone? You can leave your comments on this page annonymously or directly e-mail Maniko Barthelemy at