when I started this blog five years ago, I was a pet sitter and the name animal-crackers made sense. now I'm a stay-at-home-dad and freelance writer, but rather than confuse everyone by getting a different blog, it's just easier to keep posting things here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The man from Sierra Leone

I mentioned in my previous post the incarceration of a friend and classmate of mine, Sam Kambo.

In 1992, Sam helped lead a coup d'etat that ousted the All People's Congress from power and installed 25-year-old Army Capt. Valentine Strasser as president. Sam became deputy defense minister for the National Provisional Ruling Council, and was among the eight most powerful men in Sierra Leone. But promises to return the government to the people were not fulfilled and Sam became disillusioned.

He left in 1994 with his wife and daughter, and attended the University of Texas with a UN scholarship. Over the next 12 years he had four more children -- including twin girls and his only son -- received an MBA from UT and became a financial analyst involved in the energy market.

(In 1996, Sam's old boss Brig. Gen. Julius Maada Bio, who was the defense minister, ousted Strasser and returned power to civilian authorities.)

In 2001 Sam applied for permanent residency. It took Immigration five years to respond. Now only was his request denied, but he was taken into custody for deportation.

The US has a law that bars foreigners who have (among other things) taken part in extrajudicial executions. Although the US government has not presented any evidence, it says that while Sam was a leading member of the junta between 1992 and 1994, about 30 ex-leaders were summarily killed without trials (aka, extrajudicial executions).

Sam maintains he was never involved with the executions. The US government says tough, he was a leader in an organization that did this so he must be held responsible whether he did it or not.

What I don't understand is how he got into the US in the first place. He received a diplomatic visa, which was changed to a student visa, which was changed to a work visa, which was renewed.

Immigration officials could have barred him at any time during the past 13 years. Why didn't they?

Because it served US foreign policy to admit him and help dismantle the junta.

Now that some time has passed it no longer serves the US government to allow him to stay.

So he and his wife and five children will get the boot. Four of the children are US citizens. But they too will get the boot.

Another aspect I don't understand is why Homeland Security is pursuing Sam so vigorously. I've seen the documents, and it's not like some new evidence came to light. He's not a security risk.

My guess is some bureaucrat somewhere needs to boost his deportation record because he needs a promotion to get the bigger house and better iPod. That's the American Way.

I don't know what Sam is responsible for while he was deputy defense minister. It is possible he was involved in torture and executions, which would be inexcusable. But I don't feel that is the case. Homeland Security has presented a weak argument using guilt by association.

Weak arguments using guilt by association is what the US government does best.

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posted by todd at 11:11 AM 4 comments

24 random

1) I'm proofing an index for the business reference book I helped edit. It's a 108-page list of executives. Each page has 320 names, and I've finished 81 pages. That's almost 26,000 names.

2) My eyes, they bleed.

3) What's up with Battlestar Galactica lately? Still one of my favorite shows, but the writing has been off since the holiday break. People are rallying to Baltar? Adama's going to shoot Cally? Weak.

4) I you're going to write a TV series based on a ragtag group of survivors floating through space looking for Earth with billions of robots on their collective asses -- then it should at least be realistic.

5) An MBA classmate sits in a San Antonio cell awaiting possible deportation to his native Sierra Leone. Four of his five children are US citizens. He has lived here for 13 years and has two degrees from UT.

6) Here's the problem: In 1992 he helped with a coup and became a leader in the junta. He was among the eight men who ruled the country for two years.

7) During these two years, about 30 ex-leaders were summarily executed -- extrajudiciously is what the State Department memo says. That means no trial.

8) The US can deport any foreigner who took part in official torture or extrajudicious executions.

9) My classmate says he did help lead the coup but denies taking part in the executions. He became disallusioned with how his junta controlled the country. That's why he left Sierra Leone. That, and a scholarship from the UN didn't hurt.

10) The UN offers certain people (like coup leaders) scholarships to leave their countries. It's supposed to promote peace and understanding.

11) I wonder how that's going.

12) And I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about my classmate being jailed or maybe deported. I know the guy. He's a nice guy. He works really freaking hard, he's smart and he has more integrity than most of the people we graduated with.

13) He was 20 when he joined the army, 24 when the coup occurred. Can you imagine? When I was 20 I was reporting for the student newspaper and delivering balloons in a gorilla costume trying to make rent on an over-priced apartment.

14) Back on the subject of bad TV -- L&O Criminal Intent sucks lately. That last five or six episodes started with musical montages. What the fuck?

15) And you know who else sucks? Cadbury. Tis the season of Cadbury eggs, and I swear they're half the size they were last year.

16) The first Cadbury egg I ever had was spring 1984 in Heathrow Airport.

17) Somehow my parents scraped together enough money to send me to Europe for 10 days with a group of gifted students so I could have my first Cadbury egg.

18) Thanks Mum. Thanks Dad.

19) That was the same trip I tried to climb off a balcony in Amsterdam because a couple of older kids locked me in my hotel room to fuck with me. I thought I'd show them by climbing out the window to the ground floor and sneaking up behind them.

20) My room was on the third floor. I got stuck and the older kids had to hoist me back up onto the balcony.

21) And yet somehow they thought I was gifted.

22) Amsterdam sucks when you're 12.

23) King's Cross rocks when you're 16.

24) Yeah, Phil. You know what I'm talking about.
posted by todd at 12:12 AM 1 comments

Saturday, February 17, 2007

pizza boy due

il panettiere fiero...the proud baker.

posted by todd at 6:12 PM 0 comments

pizza boy

Josh did most of this himself. It's baking now...

posted by todd at 5:44 PM 0 comments

Meet the O'Dons

The O'Dons are coming! The O'Dons are coming!

At 7 pm Sunday (8 pm EST) our friends the O'Donnells will be featured on ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Watch as their old, moldy house is destroyed and a new McMansion is built while they're skiing in Colorado.

The O'Dons are Patrick and Jeanette and their six kids -- Caitlin, Deirdre, Erin, Meghan, Little Pat and Keirnan. They're like the Brady Bunch, except five of their kids have different forms of autism.

Honestly, I don't know how they survive. Six kids? We can barely handle two.

They're house rocks! My team of high-priced lawyers tells me I cannot discuss the details of the house except to say it includes alien technology from Area 51, an indoor Olympic sized swimming pool, a trampoline room, an eight-person heated massage couch, and a panic room/fallout shelter.

Ok, I made some of that up. But not all of it.
posted by todd at 10:50 AM 0 comments

Monday, February 05, 2007


It's been more than three months since we yanked Josh from Stepping Stone -- and still it's a topic that comes up regularly.

A little background: Stepping Stone daycare on Richcreek is a Rat Hole, something that became clear after Josh spent about 20 days there.

Ok, enough background.

Yesterday, Josh told me a story.

"One time Eli, he had to go pee, but he didn't want to pee in the bathroom. So he didn't pee in the bathroom. And then we went outside to play on the playground, and Eli, he peed on a tree in the playground. And then I, I peed on the leaves. Isn't that silly?"

Now, it's true that I am not a certified daycare worker. However, I imagine there must be a rule in the Big Book of Daycare Stuff that touches on this subject -- perhaps something about parental notification.

So to reiterate: Stepping Stone daycare on Richcreek is a Rat Hole. And don't lean against the tree in the playground.
posted by todd at 9:52 AM 0 comments