Friday, September 30, 2011

International Translation Day 2011

Today, September 30, is International Translation Day 2011. (Read more.)

Contemporary World Fiction
Juris Dilevko, Keren Dali, and Glenda Garbutt

What people in North America learn about other cultures and countries is often filtered through Western perspectives and sensibilities. One way to get beyond that sometimes-one-dimensional view is to sample stories of other countries and cultures as told by people who live in those lands and speak their languages.

In a globalized world, knowledge about non-North American societies and cultures is a must. Contemporary World Fiction: A Guide to Literature in Translation provides an overview of the tremendous range and scope of translated world fiction available in English. In so doing, it will help readers get a sense of the vast world beyond North America that is conveyed by fiction titles from dozens of countries and language traditions.

Within the guide, approximately 1,000 contemporary non-English-language fiction titles are fully annotated and thousands of others are listed. Organization is primarily by language, as language often reflects cultural cohesion better than national borders or geographies, but also by country and culture. In addition to contemporary titles, each chapter features a brief overview of earlier translated fiction from the group. The guide also provides in-depth bibliographic essays for each chapter that will enable librarians and library users to further explore the literature of numerous languages and cultural traditions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Library Square

By David Carr 

We have to be grateful for the serendipitous motions and useful juxtapositions of our sphere. For example, while waiting to receive the first copies of my new book, Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums (Libraries Unlimited, September 2011), a fresh e-mail contained a reference to this essay, “Public Libraries: A New Type of Town Square.”

It was one of the notices I receive from dozens of organizations seeking to restore our nation’s public civility and discourse. The article is based on a new report from the International City/County Management Association, aimed at seeing libraries as community agencies and problem-solvers. The summary is simultaneously valuable and incomplete.

Valuable, because the public library is an instrumental agency in every community. It provides information that causes lives to be changed, risks to be taken, and futures to be imagined. When communities and citizens struggle with economic, educational, and civic challenges, they often look across the nation and world for ideas, or simply for words and names. They seek experts and stories for possible insights and resolutions. And they need a skilled, undaunted professional navigator at the edge of the information. Every wired library is capable of reaching as broadly and intensely as the user requires, with no real limits and with limitless lessons. Libraries not only provide ways toward responses to problems, they also teach users that good problems are always open to fresh approaches. It’s possible to live in a never-ending inquiry, if you are a steady user working together in a rich collection with a librarian you trust. For a learner, it’s idyllic.

But in my view, the ICMA’s summary also misses the point, because its examples of partnerships and service programs tend to address strategies for making local governments and institutions work better. Of course this is a good thing, but it misses something larger. In Open Conversations, I list some other matters that affect our culture, beyond fiscal discouragements, collapsing institutions, and the educational disappointments. For example, we are as a people silent among each other, without secular places to speak together about our lives and hopes. Our public discourse is badly compromised and politicized. Literacy is in the throes of change; and the values of reading and knowing are unclear to our youth–or their parents. Knowledge is obscured by twittering artifice and competitive dance programs. (Facebook? It’s nothing like a book at all!) Confidence erodes in more than corporations, banks, and schools. Our collective trust in the lasting goodness of government, religion, social security, news media, politics, and health care is unsteady. Our population is perpetually changing toward complexity, worldliness, and youth, inspiring both aspirations and fears at once. And we did not learn well after September 11, 2001; we may be now as vulnerable as then.

It seems to me that adults have plenty to learn about themselves, their nation, their neighbors, their institutions, their communities, and the possibilities of energy and change that may be obscured until they begin to speak to each other. Open Conversations is a work of advocacy toward a culture where libraries and museums (and other cultural institutions like botanical gardens, historical settings, and zoos) invite communities to think and speak together, creating an informed civility that engenders articulation, confidence, and courage. Unlike the strategic programs that tend to please foundations and governments, the conversations I advocate raise questions, assemble readings, look at evidence, and think about the critical, invisible parts of living: ethics, actions, generosity, intelligence, reflection, respect for self, respect for others, justice, innovation and the mindful life of a community.

We live within the tension between optimism and despair. If we do see these conversations happen, museums and libraries will not offer us a respite. Nor should we expect answers or solutions to emerge from them, although they might. Instead, we should hope to see great (and perhaps greatly unanswerable) questions arise, questions so powerful and inviting that we will want to address them steadily, wherever we can become something together, in order to name and explore what we need most to understand.

David Carr is the author of Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums

Monday, September 19, 2011

The HPV Vaccine Controversy

Ever since the FDA approved the HPV vaccine in 2006, its introduction has been embroiled in a medical, social, cultural, and political controversy. This controversy has once again been rekindled in the recent Republican Primary debates between Texas governor, Rick Perry and Congresswoman, Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota, where she emphatically stated that Merck’s HPV vaccine, Gardasil, causes mental retardation.

As a as a physician, a parent, and the author of the award-winning book The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Sex, Cancer, God and Politics (Praeger, 2008), I feel compelled to comment on this issue:

A report presented by four different sources to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of experts that advises the CDC, on vaccine policies, found no signals to link Gardasil directly to any of the serious adverse effects that have been publicized in the media.

In order to clarify this and help consumers make the best-informed decision before vaccinating, it is helpful to understand the difference between a side effect (caused directly by the vaccine), and an adverse effect (which usually occurs within six weeks after the administration of a vaccine but may or may not be related to the vaccine).

  1. The two most common side effects reported are pain at the site of injection, followed by swelling and redness. These are temporary symptoms and resolve within a few days, as is the case with most other vaccines.
  2. The number of adverse effects that link the HPV vaccines to the nervous system disorder are around 1-2/100,000 cases—about the same that occur in the general population as a sheer coincidence or chance, and have the same statistical occurrence as the population at large that has not been vaccinated.
It is obvious that the more number of shots administered, (as of June 22, 2011, 35 million doses of Gardasil had been distributed), the more likely the chance for these rare and unexpected events to occur. It should be noted that there is no report from the CDC of Gardasil resulting in mental retardation.

The HPV vaccine has established a decent track record at five years post-licensure. Based upon these current findings, the FDA strongly recommends vaccinating the target population: 9-26 year-old females and males. The CDC will continue to be vigilant and monitor safety data on an ongoing basis. Nevertheless, it is helpful to remind ourselves that regardless of how well studies are conducted, gray zones of risk exist. The history of medicine has shown us that such unfortunate events do occur for unknown reasons, and research is underway to study if genetics and environmental factors have a role to play in such rare and serious events.

One should always balance the greater good with these potentially minimal risks when evaluating the advantages offered by new and emerging medicines. ‘Scare mongering’ for personal political gain does not bode well for the education and welfare of the citizens at large. In the case of the HPV vaccine, it would be a shame if negative attention created by a few rare effects hampers the efforts to reach millions of women and men who risk losing their lives to HPV related diseases including cancers, particularly cervical cancer, both in our country and around the world.

Shobha S. Krishnan, MD is the Founder and President of the Global Initiative Against HPV and Cervical Cancer (GIAHC) A family physician and gynecologist, she serves on the STD research-working group at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is on the Medical Advisory Board of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, and on the experts’ panel of the American Social Health Association. Dr. Krishnan has also worked as a surveillance physician for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the author of the independently written, national and international award-winning book, The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Sex, Cancer, God and Politics.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Author Donates Book Royalties to Local School District for Scholarships

Sharon Coatney, former Blue Valley educator, has given $1,000.00 today to the Blue Valley School District in honor of Ruth Bell, former Director of Libraries for the District and consummate leader. The money is to be earmarked for two $500.00 scholarships to be awarded to two school librarians in the District to use to attend the national conference of the American Association of School Librarians, October 27-30 in Minneapolis in order to enhance their leadership skills. Mrs. Coatney was the school librarian at Oak Hill Elementary School in Blue Valley from 1987-2002. She is a past president of the American Association of School Librarians, and of the Kansas Association of School Librarians and was a Councilor at Large of the American Library Association for 8 years. The moneys given are taken from the royalties from her latest book, The Many Faces of School Library Leadership, (Libraries Unlimited, 2010) which is dedicated to her mentor and friend, Ruth Bell. She states that, "Leadership skills are of vital importance to the role of the school librarian in enhancing and enabling student learning in their schools." 

Currently, Sharon Coatney is the Sr. Acquisitions Editor, Linworth/Libraries Unlimited, both imprints of ABC-CLIO.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Palestinian Proposal for Statehood

The issue of Palestinian statehood is again generating considerable discussion with all indications suggesting that the bid for statehood will be presented to the United Nations on September 20. Plans to submit the Palestinian proposal have sparked vigorous support and opposition. Palestinians are considering proposals to upgrade their status from an “observer entity” gained in 1974, to an “observer state,” a “nonmember state,” or a “member state.” Time will tell which course of action will be proposed to the General Assembly, but observer status is one step higher than observer entity, and would not require action by the U.N. Security Council. If it decides to pursue nonmember state status, this would be more of a symbolic victory that would not allow Palestinians to challenge Israel’s occupation of its territory. Full member state status would most closely fulfill the Palestinian vision for statehood and self-determination, but the obstacles for securing this standing are significant. The U.S. would veto the bid for sure in the Security Council, and typically when the Security Council recommends membership, it then relays the request to the General Assembly. The European Union (EU) has also been split with a prospective vote on Palestinian statehood among its member states. 

 As with previous attempts to secure statehood, Palestinians must demonstrate that they are able to govern themselves as a sovereign nation capable of nurturing a stable political system and economy. Acts of terrorism by Palestinian militants have taken the spotlight from state building activities in the past, and members of the U.N. will consider this historical context in the decision-making process as they register their votes. The Middle East has remained in a state of tension which began in December 2010, with surges of demonstrations and protests (known as the Arab Spring) occurring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Unrest has followed in other nations as well. The Israeli government continues to embrace its hardline position under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the negotiation process has stalled on both sides. The continued Israeli occupation of sections of the West Bank and east Jerusalem are a source of tension, particularly among militant Palestinian factions. This has been exacerbated by recent announcements by Israel that it plans to build new homes in the West Bank, which was met by disapproval from the Middle East Quartet comprised of the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the U.N. With both sides demonstrating such an unwavering commitment to their own values, the questions now become: if Palestinians are denied a change in their status by the U.N., will this provoke a continued cycle of violence and unrest similar to what was seen in the intifadas (uprisings) of the past, and further endanger its future prospects for statehood? Or, if it is granted a status change, will it be able to build a strong state where terrorism is curbed, and how will relations with the hardline government of Israel evolve? There are other scenarios, but with any outcome one can expect significant developments to unfold in Palestinian affairs in times to come. 

Dr. Daniel Baracskay is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Valdosta State University. Dr. Baracskay has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, including an article titled “Marshall Dimock’s Theoretical Legacy” in Public Administration and Management; “Strategic Communication During the Cold War” in Information Warfare 2.0 edited by James Forest; and “The April 1995 Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City” and “The February 1993 Attack on the World Trade Center” in the popular volume Combating Terrorism in the 21st Century, also edited by James Forest. He recently published a book titled, The Palestine Liberation Organization: Terrorism and Prospects for Peace in the Holy Land in May 2011 through Praeger Press.

Additional Resources

The Palestine Liberation Organization: Terrorism and Prospects for Peace in the Holy Land

Daniel Baracskay
Praeger, 5/2011

This meticulous and in-depth book chronicles the evolution of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—one of the most powerful and influential terrorist organizations in modern Middle Eastern politics and world affairs.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten years after 9/11, is al-Qaida still a threat?

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is an appropriate time to reflect on whether al-Qaida, the terrorist organization responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, is still a serious threat to the United States. With the deaths of Osama bin Laden in May and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al-Qaida's second-ranking figure, in August, U.S. officials feel they have seriously weakened the group. However, others caution that al-Qaida has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to bounce back and should not be taken lightly. 

A leading terrorism expert, James Forest, recently addressed the question of al-Qaida's future in a commentary on the Praeger Security International database.

In the long run . . . al-Qaida will cease to be a threat. No terrorist organization of any kind has been around forever. Their attacks have already alienated an overwhelming majority of the Muslim world, which is al-Qaida’s primary audience. They’re constantly appealing for support, and trying to justify their actions to the Muslim world, but at the same time al-Qaida attacks over the last decade have killed 8 Muslims for every 1 non-Muslim. That kind of hypocrisy undermines their ability to sustain the movement over the long term.
It may take a generation before al-Qaida loses all hope of financial support, recruitment, and safe haven. When the day comes that some al-Qaida figurehead releases a video statement, and absolutely nobody in the world is the least bit concerned, that day will make the final strategic victory. Osama bin Laden's "vision of the future", a future which (according to him and his colleagues) requires the murder of countless innocent people around the world, will someday meet the fate of bin Laden himself. When al-Qaida's ideology fails to resonate with anyone, and nobody anywhere in the world is inspired or motivated to murder on behalf of al-Qaida, the strategic victory that begins with the death of bin Laden will be complete.

JAMES J.F. FOREST, PhD is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and contemporary security studies. He was the Director of Terrorism Studies at the United States Military Academy from 2001 to 2010. Dr. Forest was selected by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy as one of “America’s most esteemed terrorism and national security experts” and participated in their annual Terrorism Index studies 2006 through 2010. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/11 Through the Eyes of an Expert on Islam in the West

On September 11, 2001, millions of New Yorkers witnessed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center firsthand, including award-winning author and journalist Abigail R. Esman. In this excerpt from her book Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West, Esman relates her experience in New York and Amsterdam in the days following the attacks.

Over the next days, I wandered the streets of the Upper East Side alone, dazed, as everybody else was dazed, unsure, as everybody was unsure. I took photographs: a sign at Barnes & Noble on Lexington and Eighty-Seventh Street declaring “Closed, due to act of war”; the first few of what would soon be several thousand colored sheets of paper, marked with photographs of the “missing,” now known dead; impromptu shrines on the doorsteps of brownstones and apartment buildings, and waves of flowers at the doorway of Engine 22, our local firehouse on Eighty-fifth Street and Third Avenue. Smoke and stench and death rose up and over New York City in the wind.

On September 18, exactly one week after the attacks, I returned to Amsterdam (. . . .) And as I walked this city, a city whose very gentleness now felt practically obscene (. . .), where the sun slid into the gardens and over the balconies, where the smell of the smoke and the sorrow and the dead did not roll along the streets and into our lungs, I struggled to feel what I felt as I still walked the earth of New York City and held the hands of strangers with whom I would be forever extraordinarily, if inexplicably, bound. And I realized then just how far away from a new United States I was. No American flags waved along the street. No one else wore ribbons for the dead. I was alone in my fury, my bewilderment, my anger, alone in my sorrow, in my indignation, in my defiance. Leaving had robbed me of the chance to share all that filled this moment.

I was alone in Holland, too, or nearly so, in my fear: a scant thirty-three percent of the Dutch said they feel less safe now than they did before September 11. I counted myself among them. With the passing of every plane—and there are many over Amsterdam, and they fly low—my blood chilled, my pulse quickened, my heart pounded. I followed the sound until it was safely beyond hearing. I waited for the sirens. None came.

In Amsterdam, I found a world where one could express sympathy and horror, say a prayer, light a candle; a world where one could read the papers and watch the news and feel one's throat tighten at the images, and then still return the paper to the table, turn the station, leave the candle burning, and walk out into the sunlight to play. We could not do that in New York City.

In New York, in Manhattan, it was everywhere: in dust, in the wind, in stores that did not reopen, in the piles of newspapers outside a neighbor's apartment that announced that he was not home and most likely was not coming home again. It was in the eyes and questioning voices of those who asked if you were okay—and everybody asked: the drugstore cashiers, the postal clerks, the doormen of nearby buildings with whom for years you had shared only silent nods as you passed. “Are you all right? Is everyone you know?” One did not see a woman wearing black without wondering if it was fashion, shul, or a funeral that had dressed her. In Amsterdam, there was only wariness, a kind of gentle, if often ubiquitously polite sympathy, and silence. Or mostly. In the first few days of my return, I wore a ribbon on my lapel, just as others had done in New York, only in place of the red, white, and blue, which I thought would be too obvious, I wore white—a symbol, someone had told me, of universal peace. As I walked along the Van Woustraat by my home one afternoon, a man in a white djellaba approached me in the street. Within seconds he had planted himself directly in front of me, blocking my movement, staring straight into my eyes. He stood there just a few seconds—perhaps a half minute, no longer—and then went on his way. When I got home, I took the ribbon off and laid it on my desk. I never wore it publicly again.

Abigail R. Esman has been called "one of the best writers we have when it comes to jihadism in Europe." Based in New York and the Netherlands, Esman is a regular columnist for and has written extensively about Islam in the West for various international publications, including the New Republic,, Foreign Policy, and others. Also an art critic, she is a contributing editor at Art & Auction magazine and the author and coauthor of books on art and contemporary culture.


Additional Resources:

The 9/11 Encyclopedia: Second Edition
Stephen E. Atkins, Editor

This comprehensive collection of A–Z entries and primary source documents presents a thorough examination of all the individuals, groups, and events surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Free Online Resources Reflect on the 10th Anniversary of the September 11 Attacks

ABC-CLIO brings you History and the Headlines, a series of free online resource collections that provide authoritative information and engaging activities to help students and patrons understand important events. Sign up for this free eNewsletter here.

September 11, 2011, marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., by members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden. A decade later, the harrowing events of that day remain a pivotal moment in American history, the effects of which are still being felt today. 

Help your students explore the events, individuals, and issues surrounding September 11 and its aftermath with reliable reference content and primary sources that you have come to expect from ABC-CLIO. Content includes:
*An insightful Need to Know essay about the impact of September 11, 2001, on the American people, written by leading expert Frank Shanty 
*A thought-provoking Examine section containing discussion questions that promote critical thinking 
*Over 75 reference entries, images, and documents that boost understanding of this pivotal moment in history