Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Iraqi Translator Is Accused of Bribery in Kickback Case

By JAMES GLANZ

The Justice Department said yesterday that it had arrested an Iraqi-American translator from Michigan on bribery charges in the latest case involving accusations of corruption, which have become a steady accompaniment to the war in Iraq.

The Justice Department said the translator, Faheem Mousa Salam, 27, of Livonia, Mich., probably acting as an intermediary for others who have not yet been identified, offered tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to people inside the Iraqi Interior Ministry for a contract to provide some $1 million in flak jackets and other equipment to an organization that trains Iraqi police officers.

Mr. Salam was working as a translator for the Titan Corporation, a division of the L-3 Government Services Group. The federal complaint says that in the course of his work, Mr. Salam offered $60,000 to an Iraqi police official who eventually referred Mr. Salam to someone the official described as a procurement officer for the American-operated program to train the Iraqi police.

In fact, the officer was an undercover agent for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that has been investigating cases of potential fraud, waste and abuse. Mr. Salam repeated his bribery offer and was arrested late Thursday night at Dulles International Airport near Washington, as he returned from Iraq.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who heads the office of the inspector general, said he expected more arrests in the case but declined to give further details or say who had been expected to provide the approximately 1,000 flak jackets — Mr. Salam showed a sample to the undercover agent — to the Interior Ministry. Mr. Salam also offered to sell a sophisticated map printer as part of the deal.

Mr. Bowen said that in the cash economy of Iraq, where traditional investigative methods like tracing money transfers are nonexistent, tracking down fraud is especially challenging.

"We realize we have to use every means at our disposal," Mr. Bowen said. The traditional sting operation, he added, "is one of them."

A call to the federal public defender acting as Mr. Salam's lawyer, Tony Axam, went unanswered yesterday. A spokesman for L-3 Government Services, Rick Kiernan, said the reported bribery attempt "appears to be isolated and not part of a larger incident."

"L-3 has not been related in any way to the incident itself," Mr. Kiernan said. "We have been cooperating with the Department of Justice on this entire matter."

The case against Mr. Salam is one of at least eight major cases said to involve bribery, kickbacks, money laundering, conspiracy, fraudulent billing and other crimes that prosecutors say have plagued civilians and military personnel who work with contractors in Iraq.

At least a dozen arrests have been made and more are expected as the cases widen and new cases emerge. Mr. Bowen said his office alone was investigating around 60 cases that had not yet been made public.

Still, Mr. Bowen said out-and-out fraud was not pervasive among Americans now in Iraq, adding that many of his cases turned up in the early months after the invasion when controls were especially weak.

"I think it's a few individuals who took advantage of a chaotic situation early on," he said, "and it's my job to track them down and bring them to justice."

Of the arrests, at least six involve people who at one time worked directly for Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary, or for outside subcontractors working for the company. The Army has awarded Kellogg Brown & Root three huge contracts to do things like deliver food and fuel and repair oil equipment and facilities in Iraq.

The largest single case has swirled around an American businessman, Philip H. Bloom, who lived in Romania for many years but won at least $8.6 million in reconstruction contracts around Hilla, south of Baghdad, by paying what prosecutors said were hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in 2003 and 2004 to at least a half-dozen officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Some expect more arrests. "I would suspect that the more we peel back on this, the more we're going to find," said Steve Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense in Washington. So many arrests have been announced recently, Mr. Ellis said, that "it's not until you actually step back and you look at the whole of it that you realize how enormous the waste and corruption may actually be."

Chinese man suspected of cash-for-visas scam

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A 51-year-old Chinese man who runs a consultancy in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of helping another Chinese man obtain residential status by lying to immigration authorities and saying the applicant worked as a translator for his firm, police said.

Zhang Jian, president of Chugoku Jigyo Komon (Chinese Business Consultancy), is also suspected of assisting other Chinese people obtain residence status, for which he charged a fee. The Metropolitan Police Department suspects Zhang used the illegal gains to promote the unification of China and Taiwan.

According to the MPD, Zhang assisted Dang Huiqing, a 61-year-old osteopath who runs a clinic in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, to illegally renew his residential status in February 2004. The MPD said he fabricated papers to make it look like Dang worked for his consultancy firm, which it believes to have close connections with the Chinese Embassy.

Dang was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of violating the Immigrant Control and Refugee Recognition Law.

Since 1999, Zhang has allegedly received a total of 6 million yen from Dang, disguised as insurance expenses, in return for fabricating papers, the police said. He told investigators he has helped more than 10 Chinese people who were engaged in activities not covered by their visas, according to the MPD.

Before opening his consultancy firm, Zhang ran a law center based in the commercial affairs division of the Chinese Embassy in Minato Ward, Tokyo. He also is the vice president of a Chinese residents organization in Japan that is working to unify China and Taiwan. In January 2004, he attended a seminar, put on by the embassy, on the theme of the unification of China and Taiwan.

Zhang held training seminars for court interpreters in 2002 and 2003 that about 100 Chinese residents attended. He collected about 30 million yen from the participants in fees, telling them they could work for police or for courts after completing the program.

The Tokyo District Court issued a warning to Zhang in autumn 2002, after it found that he had led the seminar participants to believe future work at a court or with the police was guaranteed.

The MPD confirmed Chinese government officials and embassy executives attended a seminar in Minato Ward in August, also on the theme of unifying China and Taiwan. They have seized documents that show most of the seminar expenses and airfares of government officials were paid by a company related to the consultancy firm.

Zhang is also the director of the company that paid the expenses. As the company does not engage in day to day business, the MPD suspects Zhang spent money he received in assisting Chinese nationals gain residential status on these activities.

A Chinese Embassy official said: "We're not familiar with the company named Chugoku Jigyo Komon. We can't make any comment."

U.S. translator charged with offering a bribe

By Mark Sherman
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - U.S. authorities have arrested a translator working in Iraq, charging him with offering a bribe to entice a police official to buy armored vests and other equipment for $1 million.

Faheem Mousa Salam, 27, of Livonia, Mich., was arrested Thursday at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia, the Justice Department said.

Salam is an employee of the Titan Corp., a government contractor working in Iraq.

He was released from custody after a hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington. He is due back in court on April 5.

Salam was charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for offering $60,000 to an Iraqi police official who Salam believed could help arrange the purchase of the goods by a police training organization, according to a criminal complaint.

Salam said he wanted to sell the group 1,000 vests and a sophisticated map printer, the court papers said.

Salam, described in court papers as a naturalized U.S. citizen, later made similar offers to an undercover investigator who was posing as a purchasing officer for the police group, the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, the complaint said.

The Titan Corp. did not immediately comment Friday.

If convicted, Salam faces up to five years in prison and a fine of at least $100,000.

The bribery charge is the latest case to emerge from investigations begun by Inspector General Stuart Bowen, who was appointed to look into Iraqi reconstruction contracts.

At least seven Americans have been implicated in a separate bribery and kickback scheme involving the award of millions of dollars in reconstruction contracts.

Robert Stein, a former contracting official in Iraq, pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to steal more than $2 million in reconstruction money and steer contracts to a businessman in exchange for more than $1 million in cash, cars and jewelry.

Say what?

Lecture focuses on improving second-language acquisition
Ana Breton

Time is running out for people seeking to learn a second language-at least if they want to learn it well.

As a person grows older, it becomes harder to learn familiar patterns of language, said Robert DeKeyser, a linguistics instructor at the University of Maryland.

"It is harder to learn an entirely different language at an older age because you have to deal with new meanings," he said. "If you have to express new components that you don't express at all in your native language, it tends to become quite difficult to remember it."

DeKeyser explained the correlation of language and age during a lecture entitled "Salience: A Crucial Explanatory Variable In Second-Language Acquisition" on March 23 in LNCO.

The way a person is taught a second language, DeKeyser said, is just as important as the age at which the person was first exposed to the language.

Zuzana Sarikova, a graduate student in linguistics, said that it is important to shed light on how languages are learned to help teachers deliver more effective language instruction to their students.

"Usually researchers offer advice that is still two to three steps away from a real classroom setting," Sarikova said. "However, DeKeyser offers specific examples of activities that work well in second- and foreign-language classes."

Instructors can teach language more effectively by grouping similar words together or explaining grammatical patterns the old-fashioned way, DeKeyser said.

"This way, you force students to pay attention to meanings that they normally wouldn't pay attention to," he said.

Erin Larsen, a junior in linguistics, said DeKeyser's advice would have been helpful if she would have heard it before taking German classes in high school.

"I didn't know anything about language acquisition before I learned German," Larsen said. "But now, fortunately, I can look back and see what I could've done better and what I did well."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Songs and Stories: Native Americans in the East Bay By PHIL McARDLE Special to the Planet

When Europeans came to the Berkeley area in 1772 they encountered the Native Americans known today as the Ohlones. Anthropologists speculate that several waves of immigration preceded them, and linguistic evidence suggests that they arrived here around 500 A.D.
The 18th-century Spanish explorers and missionaries estimated that approximately 2,500 Ohlones lived along the edge of the bay between north Oakland and Martinez. In the 1960s UC Professor Sherburne Cook placed their number at between 3,000 and 4,500. From time to time archaeologists discover new evidence or reinterpret old evidence, and estimates of the Native American population and their length of residence change.

However, new information doesn’t seem to alter our basic understanding of the Ohlones. Like many Native American Californians, they were hunter-gatherers. Acorns, berries, fish and game supplied them with food. Reeds supplied the material for their huts and canoes and for the skillfully woven baskets they used for storage. They were not agricultural people, and their needs did not require writing. Their way of life appears to have been unchanged for over a millennium.

Some people today admire the Ohlones as proto-environmentalists who lived in harmony with nature, not harming the land, or killing off other species, or fighting destructive wars. They are not the first to have been charmed by the Ohlone way of life. It even cast a spell on that ruthless old pirate, Sir Francis Drake.

John Collier summarized Drake’s description of the coastal tribes of Northern California as follows: “Arcadian people . . . whose natures could hardly be told save through the language of music; peoples joyously hospitable who seemed as free as birds, whose speech and colors were like the warbling and plumage of birds.”

In 1772, when Fr. Juan Crespi saw the East Bay’s Native Americans for the first time, he wrote, “We found a village of heathen, very fair and bearded, who did not know what to do they were so happy to see us.”

Fifty years later Spanish soldiers cleared them out of the East Bay, moving them to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. There the law of unintended consequences began to operate and the Ohlones were stricken by epidemics: measles in 1827, small pox in 1833, and cholera in 1834.

After Mexico secularized the missions, many of the surviving Ohlones drifted south to Monterey, and a few returned to the East Bay. They did not fare well under American rule. Their numbers continued to decline, and eventually the Bureau of Indian Affairs declared the Ohlone tribe to be extinct because it had ceased to function as a genuine tribal organization.

People of Ohlone descent in Northern California have petitioned for reversal of this decision, negotiated with museums for reburial of ancestral bones and artifacts, and taken sides—for and against—the beatification of Father Serra.


Signs of Ancient Days

In the greater Berkeley area there were once a number of Ohlone villages—at the intersection of Hearst and Fourth Street in Berkeley, at Claremont and Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, and at Shellmound Street and Ohlone Way in Emeryville. There may also have been a village on the University campus, near the faculty club, and another at Mortar Rock Park in North Berkeley.

Actual signs of the ancient Ohlones can still be seen in three places. First, at Indian Rock Park visitors can find (in Trish Hawthorne’s words) “smooth cylindrical holes ... made by generations of Indian women as they ground the acorns which were the basis of their diet.”

Next, in Emeryville near the multiplex movie theater, a mini-park has been created around the little hillock which is all that remains of an old shellmound. (Shell mounds are important signs of long-term residence. In Richmond there was one which is said to have been 30 feet high, 460 feet long, and 250 feet wide.) Finally, at Oakland’s California Museum there is a permanent display of Ohlone artifacts.


Songs and Stories, Hopes and Dreams

Although Native Americans in California tended to live in isolated groups, they did have a recognizably consistent culture, and what they had in common seems more important in defining it than incidental differences from place to place. As Robert Pearsall wrote, “It was chiefly in the works of the imagination that they came together, for magic and literature skipped easily across all their painstaking boundaries.” The same may be said of their music.

Some early Native American songs were recorded on wax cylinders by anthropologists at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1997 the Franciscan Order released “Mission Music: A 200-Year Anthology,” a CD that includes two of these cylinders; both recordings have a strange, spectral sound, as though ghosts are singing somewhere down the street, just out of view. Some contemporary choral groups, such as the Choir of Angels, include ancient Native American songs in their repertoires (along with the beautiful baroque masses written by Franciscan composers and performed so famously by mission choirs). Though not specifically Ohlone, these do evoke the sounds of Native American culture.

When Theodore Kroeber went to Monterey in 1901 to interview Ohlones, Maria Viviana Soto (1823-1916) sang an old tribal song for him. Its words, a spectacular image, are now one of the best known of the surviving Ohlone poems:

See! I am dancing!

On the rim of the world I am dancing!

Kroeber heard several versions of their creation myth. One of the richest (reprinted in Theodora Kroeber’s Almost Ancestors) begins, “In the beginning there was no land, no light, only darkness and the vast waters of Outer Ocean where Earth-Maker and Great-Grandfather were afloat in their canoe.”

It proceeds, as does Genesis, to the creation of day and night, land and water, and all living things, including people: “Earth-Maker took soft clay and formed the figure of a man and of a woman, then many men and women, which he dried in the sun and into which he breathed life: they were the First People.”

“The Beginning of the World,” the version of the creation myth given him by Maria Viviana Soto, appears to be incomplete or mis-remembered. It substitutes Coyote, Eagle and Hummingbird for the Earth Maker and Great-Grandfather, and sounds more like the story of Noah than the creation of Adam and Eve. It begins:

“When this world was finished, the Eagle, the Hummingbird, and Coyote were standing on the top of Pico Blanco [north of Big Sur]. When the water rose to their feet, the Eagle, carrying the Hummingbird and Coyote, flew to the Sierra de Gabilan [near Fremont]. There they stood until the water went down. Then the Eagle sent Coyote down the mountain to see if the world was dry. Coyote came back and said, ‘The whole world is dry.’ The Eagle said to him, ‘Go and look in the river. See what there is there.’ Coyote came back and said, ‘There is a beautiful girl.’ The Eagle said, ‘She will be your wife in order that people may be raised again.’”

Then the story loses coherence, becoming briefly a naughty tale about Coyote’s ignorance of how to beget children, and ending with a trick played on him by his pregnant wife:

“So she ran to the ocean. Coyote was close to her. Just as he was going to take hold of her, she threw herself into the water and the waves came up between them as she turned into a shrimp. Coyote, diving after her, struck only the sand. He said, ‘I wanted to clasp my wife but took hold of the sand. My wife is gone.’”

The Native Americans created stories to explain the geography of the world around them. Charles Marinovich, a knowledgeable local historian and skillful researcher, found one about the bay’s origin in a rare book, Dr. Platon Vallejo’s Memoirs of the Vallejos (1915). Vallejo attributed it to Suisun Indians.

They believed, he said, that long ago “the Central Valley was an immense deep freshwater sea that was divided from the ocean by a narrow barrier of hills and mountains. The sun stole an Indian princess and “as he rose in the sky, he stumbled and his arm pushed through the barrier and created the Straits of Yulupa, which we call the Golden Gate.” He dropped the girl, and “she rests where she fell, the legendary sleeping princess of Mount Tamalpais.”

The myths of each tribe of Native Americans assured them that they lived at the center of the universe and that their gods meant well by them in this life and beyond. Many of the Native Americans—and the Ohlones may have shared some form of this—believed that after death their spirits were called to walk along a trail to the island of the dead, somewhere inland, in the middle of a river. A bridge reached from the land of the living to the shore of the island, and once the spirit crossed the bridge, it would be reunited with its dead friends and relatives.

In Earth Abides, the novel in which George Stewart imagined the collapse of our civilization after a devastating plague, a small band of survivors here in Berkeley are the hope of mankind’s future. At the novel’s end, Stewart left them living the way the Ohlones did before the Spanish came. Maybe, while he was writing it, Stewart heard Coyote laughing in the hills.,

Top Cancer Organizations Launch First Online Portal Of Asian Language Cancer Information

The Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training and the American Cancer Society have launched a searchable online database of Asian language cancer materials. This effort is funded by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The Asian and Pacific Islander Cancer Education Materials Web tool is designed to help Asians and Pacific Islanders with limited English-speaking abilities gain access to information on how to reduce their risks from preventable malignancies, including cancers of the breast, cervix, colon, liver, lung and stomach.

"The National Cancer Institute is very proud of this historic database, which will improve the transfer of critical cancer information to Asians and Pacific Islanders. Advances such as this bring us closer to eliminating suffering and death due to cancer among Asians and Pacific Islanders," said Mark Clanton, deputy director of the NCI for Cancer Care Delivery Systems.

The new Web resource, located on the American Cancer Society Web site at http://www.cancer.org/apicem, was unveiled March 24, 2006, in Hawaii, at the annual meeting of AANCART. AANCART is headquartered at the University of California, Davis.

"Asians and Pacific Islanders are dying, in too many cases, from a lack of basic information about cancer," said Moon S. Chen, Jr., principal investigator of AANCART and associate director for cancer disparities and research at the UC Davis Cancer Center. "This new Web resource was developed in response to the need we heard from the community, and the NCI, for a single point of access for authoritative cancer education materials for lay audiences. Through this Web portal, people will be able to download cancer information materials that have been reviewed for scientific content and translated into more than 12 Asian and Pacific languages. This site provides one-stop access to an unprecedented volume of these materials."

The new database catalogues and provides links to print materials written in the following languages: Khmer, Chamorro, Chinese, Hawaiian, Hmong, Ilokano, Korean, Samoan, Tagalog, Tongan and Vietnamese, as well as English-language materials culturally tailored for Native Hawaiian populations. Additional languages and topics will be added as more materials become available.

"Until now, health-care providers may have had to go to several different organizations to find appropriate materials for their patients," said Sally West Brooks, chair of the ACS national board of directors. "Some of the materials have been available on Web sites, including our own. Others are on sites that may be difficult to find or not easily searchable. This new site provides a single point of access for all of the materials, and will permit a health-care provider to search for patient information by language, type of cancer, cancer-related topic or organization. As we continue to invite organizations that meet our criteria to contribute materials, the site will become increasingly robust and powerful."

All materials catalogued on the site have been screened by expert reviewers for medical accuracy, linguistic appropriateness and cultural relevance.

More than 12 organizations developed and contributed the materials, including: the ACS; the California Department of Health Services; the San Francisco-based Chinese Community Health Plan; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.; the Hmong Women's Heritage Association in Sacramento, Calif.; University of California, Los Angeles; and the Vietnamese Community Health Promotion Project at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition, four NCI-funded Community Networks Programs contributed content or provided support for the Web portal: 'Imi Hale, the Native Hawaiian Cancer Network, Honolulu, Hawaii; the Asian Community Cancer Network at Temple University Philadelphia, Pa.; the American Samoa Community Cancer Network at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Tropical Medical Center, Pago Pago, American Samoa; and the Weaving an Islander Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training at California State University, Fullerton.

"The new Web tool will make it easier for physicians and other health-care providers to communicate cancer prevention and early detection messages to patients," said Helen Chew, a medical oncologist at UC Davis Cancer Center and medical director for the Sacramento AANCART.

"We have medical interpreters who speak 18 languages, including the most prevalent Asian languages," Chew said. "But this new resource will allow us to also give patients materials to take home, think about, discuss with family members, friends or traditional healers, and refer to as new questions come up. This will be a tremendous resource for all of us who take care of Asian and Pacific Islander patients who have limited English proficiency or who prefer to read materials in their native language. In the age of the Internet, we can and should make life-saving information about cancer prevention and early detection available to everyone."

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UC Davis Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of 5 million people. The UC Davis Cancer Research Program is made up of 180 scientists on three campuses: the UC Davis Medical Center campus in Sacramento, the UC Davis main campus in Davis, Calif., and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

Copies of all news releases from UC Davis Health System are available on the Web at http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom

Annan hosts Nigerian novelist Achebe and others at UN forum on language

Language has the power to connect people or divide them, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today introducing the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe and the Irish poet Paul Muldoon to speak on “The Use of Language in War and Peace,” as part of Mr. Annan’s lecture series at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

“Language connects us to one another. But, ever since the Tower of Babel, it has also divided us,” Mr. Annan said during an afternoon discussion that occasioned more self-reflection and laughter than is normally heard in the chamber of the Economic and Social Council.

“Like other forms of diversity, linguistic diversity is well worth cherishing – because one of the great joys of human existence is learning from, and about, people who are different. But, like other forms of diversity, it can also become a source of mistrust, misunderstanding and even hatred,” he added.

Mr. Achebe, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and whose novel “Things Fall Apart” has sold millions of copies in over fifty languages, said that he first speculated on the power of language for mediating war or peace in the midst of the Nigerian civil war in the early seventies, “realizing it is a subject on which our lives depend.

“Language offers a chance to fight tomorrow instead of today, which is not a lot of promise,” he added. “But anyone who says it is nothing has never had to experience war.”

Mr. Muldoon gave examples of the fraudulent use of language, such as the advertisement of “direct flights” that make stops, that he said weakened its ability for mediation. He then read a sonnet series that explored the use and misuse of clichés and that seriously challenged interpreters, all of whom, aside from the Russian translator, eventually gave up trying to simultaneously translate.

The event was enriched by comments and questions from international diplomats and UN staff in attendance, including the Ambassador of India, who mused about the advantages and disadvantages of “UN-ese” and recounted an Irish explanation of why trousers were plural and singular at the same time.

Experts open UN session to encourage more accurate use of place names

An estimated 200 experts, representing 22 linguistic or geographical divisions around the world, opened a session today at the United Nations Office in Vienna on advancing the development of more consistency and greater accuracy in the use of place names, and standardizing written forms of geographical names.

The UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) session will address measures on how to Romanize place names being converted from languages that use non-Roman script.

Established over 40 years ago with a view to furthering the standardization of geographical names to assist in the promotion of more effective communication worldwide, UNGEGN is a standing body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Consistent place names benefit local, national and international communities involved in the development of activities such as mapping, urban and regional planning, peacekeeping, navigation, trade, cultural heritage and emergency preparedness, officials involved in the session said.

“The need for world response to various crises in recent times has underlined the importance of clear geographical names references for use in very practical situations,” said UNGEGN Chairperson Helen Kerfoot. In advance of the UN expert meeting in Vienna, she stressed that participants would have “enormous opportunities to be of assistance in helping to provide easily retrievable, accurate and up-to-date information on place names.”

The Passion of Aramaic-Kurdish Jews Brought Aramaic to Israel

Trying to unravel the mysteries of Aramaic is like embarking on an odyssey across the deserts, mountains and valleys of the Middle East and onwards to Europe and North America.

It is an intellectual adventure that leads to an array of secular scholars, devout clergy and laymen - Jewish and Christian - who are experts in the history of these Semitic languages, which in some places still survive.

They tell of Israeli rock groups that sing modern Aramaic songs, of popular radio and TV programs in Aramaic or Syriac broadcast in Canada, the US and Scandinavia and of remote villages in Syria and Iraq, where Aramaic, rather than Arabic, is the local vernacular.

Aramaic is revered by Jews because it alternates with Hebrew in the later books of the Bible, is the Talmud's principal tongue and comprises several of Judaism's most important prayers, including the mourners' kaddish. Christians respect it as the language spoken by Jesus Christ and his apostles, while its eastern version, Syriac, is used in the liturgies of the ancient churches of Iraq and Syria.

Kurdish Jews brought Aramaic with them from northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey to Israel, where it is still spoken at home by the older generation, in much the same way Ashkenazi Jews speak Yiddish with their parents or grandparents. But they also regard it as evidence of their being descendants of the "Ten Lost Tribes" who were deported by the Assyrians nearly a century before the two remaining tribes of Judea were expelled by the Babylonians.

Hezy Mutzafi, an expert in Aramaic, contends that contemporary Aramaic is in danger of extinction, as the younger generation of families that have left the Middle East assimilates linguistically.

Prof. Geoffrey Khan of Cambridge University's Faculty of Oriental Studies has been mapping the neo-Syriac dialects linguistically for fear they may soon disappear. Mutzufi, who teaches Aramaic at Tel Aviv University, learned several of them and can converse fluently in each. Estimates of the number of Aramaic speakers in the world range from 500,000 to five million.

The head of the National Organization of Kurdish Jews in Israel, Avraham Simantov, interviewed in his Jerusalem office, said he takes pride in the fact that his people "preserved the language of the Targum," referring to the monumental translation of the Torah into Aramaic, which is known as Targum Onkelos. The latter evidently is a misnomer, however. Experts believe this term was erroneously adopted from the Greek translation by Aquila, a work cited in both the Jerusalem Talmud and in Christian lore.

Most scholars credit Rav Joseph, a third-century Babylonian scholar, and his students with having produced the authorized Aramaic translation attributed to Onkelos (a name possibly derived from Aquila).

"We read the Torah twice in our synagogues," said Simantov, "Once in Hebrew and once in Aramaic. This is because the leader of the congregation must be sure everyone present understands the text."

Simantov, who is the executive director of the Prazot housing company, arrived in Jerusalem from Kurdistan in 1951 with his family.

"My Aramaic made it easy for me to pick up Hebrew," he said, recalling that he was admitted to Jerusalem's elite Ma'aleh school, where many of the teachers were German Jews and where he made a swift transition from a quasi-medieval lifestyle to a modern Israeli one.

Unlike Jerusalem's Kurdish Jews, who speak Aramaic at home and Hebrew outside, their compatriots who settled in other parts of Israel use Aramaic in all facets of their daily lives.

"Generally speaking," Simantov explained, "our young generation speaks Hebrew. But even though it is the third generation since our mass immigration, its members still understand the language of the Targum. And in our synagogues, especially in the agricultural sector, they still alternate the text of the Hebrew scriptures with that of the Targum."

IN NAZARETH, home of Atallah Mansour, the distinguished Israeli journalist who was on the staff of the Hebrew daily Haaretz for more than three decades and now serves as a columnist for Jerusalem's Arabic daily al-Quds, Aramaic is a constant feature of the linguistic landscape, especially its liturgical aspect.

He cited an unusual source book published 14 years ago in Cairo by Izzat Zaki, in which the Nestorian Christians describe themselves as "the children of Israel" and claim they are the remnant of the Ten Lost Tribes. Zaki contends that they do not marry outside their religious faith and live in the most defensible mountainous regions of Kurdistan. Zaki quotes them as saying, "we use Aramaic just like the Jews."

Mansour refers to these exotic Christians in his newly published book, Narrow Gate Churches, a history of Christianity in the Holy Land and the surrounding regions of the Middle East from the time of Jesus to the present era. He invited the local head of the Maronite Church, Abouna (Our Father) Yusuf Issa, to explain his 1,000-member congregation's integration of Syriac into its prayer services.

"Only members of the clergy are taught the Syriac language," Abouna Yusuf said, noting that he learned it as a seminarian in Rome.

"I don't speak it," he admitted, "but I understand every word."

Abouna Yusuf pointed out that until a century ago, there were many villages in what is now Syria where Aramaic was the spoken language. Today, only three are left, all of them relatively close to Damascus. For political reasons, the Syrian authorities tried to shield them from inquisitive foreigners, especially foreign correspondents, but persistent requests by BBC Television to produce a documentary about their cultural traditions were eventually granted reluctantly.

"We pray in Syriac," explained Abouna Yusuf, "but find it necessary to switch to Arabic more and more."

He equated Syriac with Aramaic, allowing for the fact that it is a different dialect, but confessed, "I am very proud to be able to speak the same language in which Jesus Christ spoke."

Outside of prestigious universities like Cambridge and Tel Aviv University, there are few, if any, schools where Aramaic or Syriac is taught as a language to read, write and speak.

This is the educational reality that confronts most Jewish yeshiva students, whose primary goal is to learn the contents and theological principles expounded in the Talmud or the Gemara, as it is called in Aramaic. They are not taught Aramaic grammar, are not challenged with vocabulary enrichment and are not required to converse in Aramaic, despite the fact that the Talmud itself consists of rabbinical discourse conducted 2,000 years ago in that language. Instead, they learn Aramaic only in the Talmudic context and mainly by rote.

"An experiment conducted at Cambridge to teach young Orthodox Jews Aramaic as a classical language and thereby enable them to peruse the Talmud's text independently, without rabbinical guidance, ended in failure," said Mutzafi.

"The boys were not adept at grasping linguistic structures such as the verb categories or grammatical usage that could be found in the ancient text."

At the same time, he noted that the range of words used in the Talmud is "quite limited" to those that reflect Jewish religious life and observance.

ARAMAIC MADE its debut 3,000 years ago as the language of the ancient Arameans, the nation that lived in the Bible's Padan-Aram and the Patriarch Abraham's Aram Naharayim.

It served as the Assyrians' lingua franca soon afterward and became their imperial language as well as that of the Babylonians and Persians, all of whom applied it to diplomacy and trade from India to Ethiopia. Those within their respective imperial realms who could not speak Aramaic could at least read and understand it, one scholar said.

By the Second Temple period, 2,000 years ago, Palestinian Aramaic was widely used by the Jews of the Land of Israel. After the birth of Christianity, its adherents developed their own dialect, which differed somewhat from that of the Jews. But Aramaic remained supreme in the Fertile Crescent until the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, after which it was gradually overtaken by Arabic.

The very name of the Syriac translation of the Bible, the "Peshitta," is a derivative of the Hebrew word pshat, or simplification.

Many of the common cognate words are easily comprehensible to Hebrew speakers. For example, toda raba ("thank-you") is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable of each word rather than on the second, as is the case in modern Hebrew.

During Aramaic's linguistic heyday, when it enjoyed the same international status as English does today, it not only split into Western and Eastern versions (the former always known as Aramaic and the latter as Syriac), but Syriac spawned countless dialects, which were often unintelligible to close neighbors who spoke the very same language. By then, the alphabet used by the Jews to transcribe the Hebrew language was the Assyrian one they had encountered during their captivity, while the original one, which was of Phoenician origin, was abandoned. Syriac's linguists opted for a different alphabet.

One consequence of these diversions was that Talmudic Aramaic was incomprehensible to Christians. Instead, they used the various Aramaic dialects, gradually incorporating foreign words from Greek and Arabic.

A CHRISTIAN scholar based in Jerusalem, who also insisted on anonymity, said the Aramaic- or Syrian-speaking diaspora encompasses Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia and England. (This list was extended by a secular colleague to include France, especially Marseilles, Lebanon and the southern reaches of the former Soviet Union.)

He listed the four main eastern churches in which Syriac is the language of prayer as the Syrian Jacobite, Syrian Catholic, Nestorian and Chaldean churches (the latter previously known as the Church of Jerome).

Judean or Palestinian Aramaic was the dominant language among the Holy Land's Christians until the 16th century, he explained, noting that their shift to Arabic was very gradual - faster in the highlands than in the valleys and plains.

A similar process occurred in Syria, Iraq and Iran, where the descendants of the original Arameans and the successive Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian ethnic groups had converted to Christianity and adopted the northwestern Mesopotamian dialect of Aramaic, which is known as Syriac.

The pervasiveness of Aramaic was such that it virtually replaced Hebrew as the preferred language of the Holy Land's Jews, a declining number of whom were familiar with the biblical tongue. This was also true of their coreligionists in Babylon and the surrounding regions of Mesopotamia - so much so, this scholar noted, that the Book of Daniel, which emerged from that milieu, "is more than 80 percent Aramaic."

Emanuel Doubchak, a linguist and translator who emigrated to Israel from France, attributes the spread of Aramaic in the ancient world to the fact that its namesakes, the Aramaeans, were merchants who plied the far-flung trade routes of the Fertile Crescent and Mediterranean Basin.

"They did not engage in empire-building and never had an empire of their own," he contended, "but their language attained the status of being the main linguistic vehicle for diplomatic discourse" and international trade for nearly a millennium.

He credited Aramaic's universality with the fact that many of the great philosophical, historical and scientific works of the ancient world were translated into it from Greek and Latin and thereby were saved for posterity.

Despite the powerful cultural impact of Greek language and culture during the Hellenistic period, "Aramaic remained the dominant language of this country and its square alphabet replaced the cursive letters of the preceding Canaanite-Phoenician writing system originally adopted by the Hebrews," he said.

The rise of Christianity and the fact that the New Testament was written in Greek posed "an obstacle" to Aramaic's local longevity, however. Concurrently, the eastern Christians had adopted a variation of the Assyrian alphabet, whose letters are reminiscent of the Hebrew ones, but not enough to make them legible to most Jews. The anonymous Christian scholar from the Old City, however, was able to jot them down in a jiffy.

My big fat Aramaic wedding There is no better proof of modern Aramaic's vitality than the spectacular weddings held by the Jewish "Nash Didan" community, which hails from the remote foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.

"Nash Didan" means "Our People" and its distinctive music and dance have been immortalized by Nissan Aviv, a brilliant composer and orchestrator who arrived in Israel 55 years ago during the peak of the "Nash Didan" immigration, and has devoted his life to preserving and continuing this culture ever since. In addition to the many CDs he's put out over the years, Aviv was also the subject of a documentary by Channel 1's Gil Sedan.

Soon after the late Naomi Shemer's Yerushalayim Shel Zahav ("Jerusalem of Gold") became a hit on the eve of the Six Day War, Aviv obtained her permission to render it in Aramaic. Translated as Yerushalayim Ai Dheba, it is a beloved staple at "Nash Didan" weddings.

Aviv was born in Urmia, an ancient city in Iranian Azerbaijan.

"We spoke Aramaic at home, Turkish on the street and learned Persian at school," he said.

"I knew a fair amount of Hebrew when we came to Israel because it was taught in our Jewish schools. And partly thanks to my Aramaic, I was able to speak like a sabra in no time."

Aviv's lyrics are written in modern Aramaic and his songs not only draw audiences from the various Aramaic-speaking communities in Israel - located in Holon, Givatayim and Jerusalem - but are also played on the Aramaic (or Syriac) radio and TV stations in Australia, Canada and Sweden.

"Jerusalem of Gold is as popular abroad as it is here," he said.

Aviv's music is based on three instruments: a drum known as a dair'a, a five-stringed instrument plucked like a balalaika or mandolin known as a kar kavkazi and a Central Asian version of the cello known as a kamanncha.

Aviv has won the unstinting acclaim of one of Israel's leading experts in cognate Semitic languages, Hezy Mutzafi, who speaks half a dozen of the Aramaic and Syriac dialects fluently. Noting that the "Nash Didan" community consists of "only a few thousand" Israelis (its members constitute a relatively small percentage of the influx of nearly 200,000 immigrants from Iran, Turkey and the Caucasus), Mutzafi points out that it also is one of the least known Jewish ethnic groups.

"Its focus is on culture, folklore and spoken Aramaic," explained Mutzafi, referring to the latter as lishan noshan or "our language."

Mutzafi singled out Aviv as one of the most outstanding activists in the "Nash Didan" community, a man who has contributed mightily to its spiritual and cultural life.

Privately, Aviv is rather pessimistic about what the future holds for the language and lifestyle he loves and has tried to preserve.

"Our Aramaic is being forgotten," he said. "The younger generation can understand it, but cannot speak and in time, this too will be lost.

One project that gives Aviv hope is the Tel Aviv University's development of an Aramaic dictionary.

"The trouble is that the project is enormous and the funding available for it is minuscule," he said.

By Jay Bushinsky
www.jpost.com

Giving a voice to victims

Interpreter service provides translation for newcomers involved in domestic violence, sex assault

By TOM GODFREY, TORONTO SUN

Tamil interpreter Shankari is often called late at night by police to attend a gruesome domestic violence crime scene to help speak to victims.

"I feel sorry for them," Shankari said. "In most cases the girls are new to Canada and I can understand and feel their pain."

Shankari, 36, who has only been in Canada for three years herself, is among the 450 interpreters and translators -- speaking more than 100 languages -- who work for the non-profit Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS).

She can be called to crisis situations up to six times monthly to help Toronto Police detectives communicate with Tamils involved in domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

UNFORGETTABLE SCENES

"I am impartial and neutral when I go on assignments," said the mother of two young children. "Some cases, from time to time, do affect my personal life."

Shankari, a former teacher in Sri Lanka, was called earlier this month by York police to talk to suspects in a high-profile Markham case in which a family member allegedly killed two children.

Her colleague, Jayanti, who speaks Bengali, says she'll never forget some of the brutal crime scenes.

"The police say I show no emotion, but I am nervous inside," said the mother of three grown children. "Two or three times I had to sit and cry after coming back from a job."

Jayanti, 45, who has been in Canada for less than two years, said she can relate to some of the victims.

"Many of the young ladies can't express themselves or their inner emotion," she said. "I can relate to how they feel."

Jayanti was called by police last month to help in a Scarborough case in which a mother was slain in front of her children. A family member was charged.

MCIS executive director, lawyer Lata Sukumar, said her interpreters are used by police from the beginning of their probe to the completion of a court case.

$450G GRANT

"We provide certified and trained professional interpreters," Sukumar said from her office near Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. "We have been involved in hundreds of cases."

She said the interpreters receive language and training certification, have passed criminal background checks, are impartial and abide by a code of ethics.

The non-profit agency was founded in 1989 and receives $450,000 yearly from the Ontario ministry of citizenship and immigration.

They supplement their income by charging for interpretation, translation, transcription and training services.

Their mandate is to provide services to 350 agencies across Ontario, including police, Crown attorneys, legal aid, social services, rehabilitation centres, victim witness assistance programs and newcomer services.

"We are available 24 hours," Darlene O'Donohue, MCIS training manager, said.

"We are involved in many of the high-profile cases involving domestic violence."

The group receives about 50 calls daily seeking translation services.

O'Donohue said newcomers who speak English and other languages can become certified translators after undergoing training.

Shared secrets reveal much suffering in silence

Shared secrets reveal much suffering in silence
As boys, they felt trapped by a beloved priest's abuse at St. John's School for the Deaf. As men, they learn they weren't alone.
By MARY ZAHN
mzahn@journalsentinel.com
Posted: March 25, 2006
First of two parts

Thirteen-year-old Arthur Budzinski hid under his bed crying. Born to hearing parents who did not speak sign language, he could not tell them of the terror he faced back at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis.

It was 1962. When the truth was told decades later, they all would weep.

Arthur's story and those of dozens of other adolescent deaf boys who attended the Roman Catholic boarding school hides in the shadows of a snapshot of the school's basketball team:

Eleven boys are dressed in their uniforms, half kneel and half stand. Next to them in a long, black clerical gown holding a basketball is Father Lawrence Murphy, the long-revered, charismatic director of the school.

Of the 11, five of them would be molested by Murphy.

Sometimes it was during confession, and often it was in the dead of night.

"Being deaf I felt stuck," Gary Smith, 55, said. "I was alone, and I felt stuck."

Murphy's victims are now middle-aged and are coming forward to ask the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to compensate them for their suffering. The Journal Sentinel recently interviewed eight of them. It took them weeks to decide whether to tell their stories. Their continuing fear, shame and anger are testament to the power Murphy still wields over some of them, eight years after his death.

"Many say 'Oh, forget it, it's in the past,' some are upset, some don't care and some are still very angry but are afraid to come forward," said Budzinski, 57, who lives in West Allis. "The whole situation has torn the deaf community apart and continues to divide them.

"We want to hold the church accountable and force the church to acknowledge that this was not just a handful of children who were abused."

How many deaf children Murphy molested remains unknown. He was at St. John's for 24 years. The victims who have come forward, who said they saw many of their classmates being abused, think he molested more than 100 boys. Murphy admitted to molesting at least 30, according to Alisa Cohen-Stein, a clinical social worker in the Chicago area who has worked with several of Murphy's victims. She said she was told of Murphy's admission by an employee of the archdiocese.

He never apologized.

The stories of the survivors also give a rare glimpse into the isolation of Milwaukee's deaf community from 1950 into the 1970s. Devices that enable deaf people to use the telephone were not widely available; closed captioning of television programs had not begun; and many people who hear considered deaf people to be mentally retarded.

Murphy, who was fluent in sign language, became a key link to the hearing world for the many deaf children who, like Budzinski, were unable to talk with their hearing parents.

"Back then there was no way to communicate," said his mother, Irene Budzinski, 89. "I never learned sign language. When you had a deaf child, the public health nurse would say, 'Send them to some school.' We were looking for a good place.

"Who would think any harm would come to a young child?"

Steve Geier, 55, of Madison, who became deaf after a high fever, remembered being left at St. John's at age 8 as his mother and father walked back to the car. His mother, he said, had tears running down her face.

"Here is my mom and dad, talk, talk, talk, talk, and I am looking at them," he said. "My suitcase gets put down, and my mom and dad said we have to go home. So I go running after them. They said 'No, you stay here.' It was confusing and I cried."

Murphy would console him.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese has acknowledged that Murphy abused boys at the school, which was at 3680 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in St. Francis, but has provided few details. The residential school closed in 1983 for financial reasons.

The archdiocese denied requests for church records regarding Murphy's offenses, citing victim confidentiality.

"We firmly believe that these individuals have suffered so desperately in their lives that it is far more appropriate to listen to them - hear their stories of pain, grief and suffering - than it is to dig through our records for arcane facts and data, which we believe must be held in confidence," Kathleen Hohl, communications director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, wrote in her response to the newspaper.

Two of Murphy's victims recently received $100,000 and $200,000 in compensation through an archdiocese-sponsored mediation program for sexual abuse victims. As part of that agreement, they had to agree not to sue the church.

Pending state legislation would allow victims of clergy sexual abuse to bring civil suits against religious organizations within a one-year window, regardless of when the abuse occurred and past statutes of limitation. In a civil court, a plaintiff could compel the religious organization to produce any documents it might have relating to the case, regardless of whether the accused clergy member is able to participate in the organization's defense.

"I still have nightmares," said Gary Smith, who lives near San Antonio.

A pillar of deaf culture
Few reminders are left that St. John's School for the Deaf was once the lifeblood and pride of Milwaukee's close-knit deaf community.

A worn concrete pillar with a faded angel holding a scroll remains at the beginning of the circular drive to the brick and concrete buildings, now a St. Francis elementary school and recreational facility. In the gymnasium where the St. John's boys basketball team won many victories as cheerleaders roused the crowd, a round green marker in the middle of the floor still boasts "St. John's."

Students, parents and friends of the deaf community toiled over picnics, candy sales and athletic events for years to scrape together enough money for these buildings. They were erected in the mid-1960s to replace the crumbling originals that were built in the late 1800s, when the school was known as St. John's Institute for Deaf Mutes. Enrollment ranged from 82 students in 1949 to a high of 161 in 1968.

At the center of the building frenzy was Murphy, a gregarious Irishman, short in stature with a smile that could melt ice. Yearbook photos and newspaper clippings show him as a whirlwind of activity, accepting thousands of dollars for the school from civic groups, coaching basketball and giving speeches all over town about deafness and why people should contribute to St. John's.

But it was Murphy's ability to speak American Sign Language so gracefully and beautifully that sealed his closeness to the deaf community. Parents and students loved to see him sign the Sunday Mass, which was described by some as truly spiritual.

When Murphy arrived at the school in 1950, newly ordained, Sister Mary Claude Telderer had worked there for seven years.

"He was very beloved," Telderer, 83, said. "The children just loved him. For his birthday every kid got a bag of treats, and we had a movie, and that was big stuff. He would come around to the classrooms. He would come in, and he would make you feel like a million dollars.

"Never in my wildest imagination did I think the children were in danger."

Murphy's well-connected friends contributed basketballs and baseballs and supported his push to replace the old, castle-like buildings. He established an athletic program and an alumni association.

"He has taught us about faith, love, service and loyalty," the seniors wrote in the 1971 yearbook, which was dedicated to Murphy.

By all accounts, Murphy was enthusiastic and patient with the children.

"He was a wonderful teacher," said Gary Smith, echoing what the other victims said. "We loved him."

'God, what's right?'
The men's stories are similar. Murphy would call them to his bedroom in the school, or visit them in their dorm beds late at night, masturbate them and leave. Sometimes he would go on to other boys. Often he would say nothing. Sometimes when the boys saw him molesting other boys in the dorm room, they would cover their heads with their blankets, hug themselves tightly and weep. At times, he would take their confession in a second floor walk-in closet in the boy's dorm and molest them.

"Murphy was so powerful and it was so hard," said Geier who was molested when he was in seventh grade and said he saw more than a dozen other boys molested. "You couldn't get out. It was like a prison. I felt so confused. Here I had Father Murphy touching me. I would be like, 'God, what's right?' "

Geier said the boys received no sex education and had no idea what was happening to them. Some, he said, believed it must be all right because it was being done by a priest. After he resisted one of Murphy's advances, Geier said, Murphy refused to allow him to go with a group of boys to get ice cream across the street.

During one interview, Budzinski began to get tears in his eyes as he recounted seeing Pat Cave being molested in his dorm room bed. Cave, 57, who lives in Seattle, said he thought he was the only one molested until 2004, when he shared his experience with Budzinski.

Cave added that his older brother, who also attended St. John's, often would be called to Murphy's office at night and be gone for long periods. They never discussed why. His brother died in a motorcycle accident at age 21.

'I never told anyone'
For James Smith, 62, of Orange City, Fla., the memories are intense. He began to shake and cry as he recalled one incident after another.

"I would be playing baseball, and the boys would come and say, 'Father Murphy wants you to come and see him,' " Smith said. "I would refuse to go, and pretty soon I was dragged into his office and molested again.

"I never told anyone. I thought I was alone."

Like other victims, Joe Daniels, 58, of Union Grove was not believed when he tried to quietly tell family members and other adults about the molestations when he was in his 20s.

"It was an awful thing," Daniels said. "I felt anger and shame."

"Some of them are still really, really afraid," said Cohen-Stein, the therapist who has worked with victims of Murphy. "They feel their entire life revolves around this lie - their identity, their feelings toward hearing people and about themselves.

"One person actually said: 'I would have to rebuild myself if I started talking about this. I would fall apart because all of the threads are so tangled.' "

Monday, March 27, 2006

Preserving the Lakota Sioux language

The Lakota Sioux language, made famous through its portrayal in the 1990 film "Dances with Wolves," is now one of only a handful of American Indian languages with enough remaining speakers to survive into the next generation. Lakota is currently one of the last major American Indian language holdouts in what is a worldwide crisis of linguistic extinctions.

SAVING THE HERITAGE

In 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Native American Languages Act, stating that the United States has a responsibility to work with tribes to ensure the survival of their cultures and languages.

THE LARGER PICTURE

Native American languages do not belong to a single Amerindian family, but 25 to 30 small ones; they are usually discussed together because of the small numbers of natives speaking them and how little is known about many of them. There are around 25 million native speakers of the more than 800 surviving Amerind languages. The vast majority of these speakers live in Central and South America, where language use is vigorous. In Canada and the United States, only about half a million native speakers of an Amerind tongue remain.

THE LESSON PLAN

The Lakota are based in the north-central United States and southern Canada. To keep the Lakota language from disappearing completely, a revitalization campaign has been organized by a group of tribal leaders and linguists.

The campaign is run by the nonprofit Lakota Language Consortium, which develops the Lakota-language teaching materials used in schools and which trains language teachers.

The organization's goal is to encourage the use of the language by a new generation of speakers. Children using the group's language materials become proficient in Lakota by the fifth year of use. The group plans to have a fully sequenced curriculum that students can follow from first grade through college.

Lakota tribal elders and traditional leaders have made it a priority to keep the language alive for future generations.

"Our people need to know that Lakota had an important position and to learn to be proud to speak Lakota," said 81-year-old Clarence Wolf Guts, the last surviving Lakota code talker from World War II. "It is good that the kids are now learning Lakota in the schools."

Dakota Sioux Language Saved by Scrabble

HANKINSON, N.D. - Those who hope they can stop the Dakota Sioux language from dying have hit on the perfect word: Scrabble.

A special Scrabble tournament in the language made its debut Friday, pitting teams from Sioux reservation schools in North Dakota, South Dakota and Manitoba.

The game is part of the tribe's campaign to revitalize the Dakota language, now spoken fluently by a dwindling number of elders. One survey predicted the last fluent Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota speaker would die in 2025.

"With these efforts, we'll try to prolong that," Darell DeCoteau said as he gestured to a nearby Scrabble board. "This will probably push that back a little bit."

"Start in the middle," David Seaboy told a group of middle-school students from the Enemy Swim Day School at Waubay, S.D. "Everybody help somebody make a word."

The first word to take shape was sa, pronounced "shah" — the color red.

After a few minutes of frantic consultation with the official Dakota Sioux Scrabble dictionary, a team built on the base to form the word sapa, pronounced "shah-pa," or dirty, a word worth seven points.

"This is a good stimulant for the mind," said Seaboy, 63, one of a group of Sisseton-Wahpeton elders, all fluent in the language, who wrote the 207-page Dakota dictionary.

High court reprimands judge for using expletives aimed at Bosnian

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday reprimanded a judge for using profanity in referring to a Bosnian refugee during a court appearance.

The high court adopted a recommendation by the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications to reprimand Lancaster County Judge Jack Lindner.

The Bosnian, Tihomir Nikolic, was charged with failing to obey a police officer on July 5, 2003.

When Nikolic was leaving the courtroom with an interpreter after a hearing, Lindner used several expletives in reference to Bosnians, according to court records.

Lindner apparently misunderstood the man as saying he could not make a court date because of a business trip and told Nikolic he could leave the room only when given permission by the judge.

Nikolic later pleaded guilty and was fined $50.

“The commission has suggested that Lindner’s comment was made out of frustration and was not an expression of racial bias,” the high court said in its unsigned ruling. “Nonetheless, such an insensitive and inappropriate comment is not to be condoned or tolerated under any circumstance.”

Lindner could have faced a punishment as severe as removal from office.

But the high court said the commission noted the remark was out of character for Lindner and that he had expressed regret for the statement.

“Lindner has served on the bench for 22 years, and this is the first disciplinary action taken against him,” the high court said. “There was no evidence of a pattern of unacceptable behavior on his part.”

Lindner and his lawyer, James Gordon, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Court orders Keene hospital to improve services for hearing impaired

KEENE, N.H. A Keene (New Hampshire) has agreed to improve interpreter services for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

David Muise of Hinsdale, who is deaf, sued Cheshire Medical Center in 2004 after he was not provided with interpreter services on four separate visits.

The settlement between Muise and the hospital requires Cheshire Medical Center to make sure interpreters and other services for the hearing impaired are available when needed. It also requires the hospital to increase staff training about services for the deaf and to post better information about patients rights.

The hospital also agreed to pay Muise 85-thousand dollars for damages and legal fees.

Sorenson Communications Opens Six Additional Interpreting Centers in Response to Growing Demand

Thursday March 23, 5:46 pm ET


SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 23, 2006--Sorenson Communications(TM) today announced it has opened six additional Sorenson Video Relay Service® (VRS) interpreting centers in the following major U.S. cities: Baltimore; Rochester, N.Y.; Sacramento, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Lexington, Ky. Sorenson Communications added these facilities to its existing interpreting centers to accommodate the growing demand for its popular video relay service which connects deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to the hearing world through American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. With additional interpreting centers, Sorenson VRS is accessed more efficiently by the national deaf community that uses the service to communicate.
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Sorenson VRS enables deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to conduct free video relay calls with family, friends and business associates through a qualified sign language interpreter, Sorenson videophone, TV and high-speed Internet connection. The deaf user sees an interpreter on his or her TV and signs to the interpreter, who then contacts the hearing user via a standard phone line and relays the conversation between the two parties.

"I don't know what I did before Sorenson VRS seeing that I use it every day for business and personal calls," said Katharina Heckley of Sacramento, Calif. Heckley, a deaf mother and co-owner of a home-run flooring business, supports her hard-of-hearing husband while he is on the road using Sorenson VRS. Both use sign language to communicate. "Without Sorenson VRS and our Sorenson VP-100 videophone, we would not be able to contact our hearing customers with job quotes and important daily information. Basically our business would halt," she added.

"Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who have access to Sorenson VRS call hearing people using a free Sorenson VP-100 videophone and are able to communicate without barriers -- conducting work and personal business with greater ease," said Chris Wakeland, vice president of interpreting for Sorenson Communications. "As the technology becomes available to more deaf communities, we experience a tremendous increase in the demand for our video relay service and for more qualified interpreters to relay the calls. To meet the consumer demand, we are expanding our Sorenson VRS Interpreting Centers throughout the county. We will go wherever qualified interpreters are located," added Wakeland.

"Only about 10% of America's signing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals currently have access to video relay service. Many deaf communities are awaiting affordable high-speed Internet, live in rural areas, or are not aware of how VRS technology can help them," said Pat Nola, president and CEO of Sorenson Communications. "We will continue to expand our business with quality interpreters and innovative technology as is deemed necessary to meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing who wish to depend on Sorenson VRS for daily communications."

Tourism campaign lost in translation

Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" Australia's campaign, didn't translate in Japan so changed to "Why Don't You Come?"

28 March 2006

Australian tourism officials have had to make a few changes to the "Where the Bloody Hell Are You" advertising campaign, because it does not make sense in Japan.

The word "bloody" doesn't translate, so the message has been changed to simply read "Why Don't You Come?"

It took a long explanation about Australian mateship for a conference of Japanese travel executives to understand the campaign.

'Only one of its kind in Canada'

By TOM GODFREY

Giving a voice to victims


A cutting-edge Toronto interpreter program is the only one of its kind in the country, Ontario's immigration and citizenship minister says.

"This is one of those important services," Mike Colle said last week. "Our government invests more than any other province in programs and services to help newcomers."

The Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS) is one of 10 community programs funded $2 million yearly by the Language Interpreter Services, he said.

"Ontario's language interpreters service is the only one of its kind in Canada," he said, adding last year it helped more than 3,500 victims of domestic violence in 63 languages.

MCIS was created in 1989 to help provide translators to shelters, social, legal and health-care agencies, and the domestic violence court system.


"It provides services to victims of domestic violence who have limited proficiency in English," Colle said.

The program is applauded by Toronto Police detectives and Crown attorneys.

The province announced in September it was investing in a new, provincewide certificate program to ensure interpreters have the skills to better help newcomers.

Ozark Profile : Bilingual paralegal speaks immigrants’ language in more than one way

BY TRISH HOLLENBECK Northwest Arkansas Times


Alex Thomas says there is something about speaking to somebody in his or her native language. "It’s like an instant bond and it really allows people to open up and discuss their issues more than they might have," he says. Thomas, 30, of Fayetteville, is the bilingual paralegal for the 4 th Judicial District Prosecutor’s Office in Washington County.

The advertisement for the job, he said, was for a liaison between the Hispanic community and the prosecutor’s office, which is the idea behind the position.

While Thomas deals with many in the Hispanic community, he says he also is available for anyone who needs his help.

He has been in the job since last March.

Thomas has lived in Fayetteville for 10 years, having studied Latin American History and Spanish at the University of Arkansas. He is a few hours shy of graduating, something he says he is planning to do.

He has had a variety of jobs. One he held during college involved working for an attorney friend, which is how he says he gained his paralegal experience.

Born in San Antonio, he also spent his childhood in Cleveland; Saltillo, Mexico, where his mother cared for a sick aunt; and Dallas.

His mother having been an immigrant, he has a special place in his heart for those who leave their home countries to come to the United States.

He attended Brookhaven Community College in Dallas and then came to school at the UA because had friends in Fayetteville. When he came up to visit, he said, he "just fell in love with the place."

While much of what Thomas does is deal with people who have been involved with crimes, whether as victims or defendants, he also is available to help those with a language barrier dealing with other issues at the courthouse.

His position was created by the Washington County Quorum Court because of the need for interpreting.

Thomas interprets documents in the prosecutor’s office and transcribes taped interviews from Spanish to English. He also has helped with the prosecutor’s office Web site, as well as making forms available in Spanish.

He has taken certification courses to be certified by the state as a court interpreter and is set to take a test for certification in April.

He also does some investigative work, and works with the victim assistance aspect of the prosecutor’s office, talking with Hispanic women who are not bilingual about getting protective orders in abusive situations.

Sometimes, he said, women will wait until the situation becomes really bad before trying to get out because the man is often the bread-winner and she does not want him to go to jail. "They’re more likely to wait it out as long as they can," Thomas said.

In their home countries, these kinds of abusive situations are often handled by the woman’s male relatives because of the strong family ethic in the Latin American culture.

A key issue, Thomas said, is that this area is still a relatively young immigrant community, where family networks such as those in Chicago, New York, and some cities in Texas and California are not in place.

Sometimes Thomas’ job is just about helping immigrants understand their rights because they are different than those in their home countries.

He also deals with a variety of other issues that affect the Hispanic immigrants, one of them being the inability to get a driver’s license because they do not have Social Security cards. "But they’re going to drive anyway," Thomas says, suggesting that a driver’s permit may be something to think about for immigrants who do not have Social Security cards.

While they face numerous challenges, Thomas says immigrants are trailblazers, pioneers, and they want a slice of the American dream. He also says they are a big part of the economic growth in Northwest Arkansas because they do much of the work, whether it be in construction or production. "To me, immigrants are a special breed of people," he said, adding that not all people in Latin American countries, obviously, choose to come to the U.S. "They’re willing to risk their lives to make a better life for themselves and their kids. If that’s not an entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t know what is."

Still, he said, he is the kind of person who wants to help anyone, not just immigrants. "And that’s why I love this job because it gives me the opportunity to help people."

Ozark Profile : Bilingual paralegal speaks immigrants’ language in more than one way

BY TRISH HOLLENBECK Northwest Arkansas Times


Alex Thomas says there is something about speaking to somebody in his or her native language. "It’s like an instant bond and it really allows people to open up and discuss their issues more than they might have," he says. Thomas, 30, of Fayetteville, is the bilingual paralegal for the 4 th Judicial District Prosecutor’s Office in Washington County.

The advertisement for the job, he said, was for a liaison between the Hispanic community and the prosecutor’s office, which is the idea behind the position.

While Thomas deals with many in the Hispanic community, he says he also is available for anyone who needs his help.

He has been in the job since last March.

Thomas has lived in Fayetteville for 10 years, having studied Latin American History and Spanish at the University of Arkansas. He is a few hours shy of graduating, something he says he is planning to do.

He has had a variety of jobs. One he held during college involved working for an attorney friend, which is how he says he gained his paralegal experience.

Born in San Antonio, he also spent his childhood in Cleveland; Saltillo, Mexico, where his mother cared for a sick aunt; and Dallas.

His mother having been an immigrant, he has a special place in his heart for those who leave their home countries to come to the United States.

He attended Brookhaven Community College in Dallas and then came to school at the UA because had friends in Fayetteville. When he came up to visit, he said, he "just fell in love with the place."

While much of what Thomas does is deal with people who have been involved with crimes, whether as victims or defendants, he also is available to help those with a language barrier dealing with other issues at the courthouse.

His position was created by the Washington County Quorum Court because of the need for interpreting.

Thomas interprets documents in the prosecutor’s office and transcribes taped interviews from Spanish to English. He also has helped with the prosecutor’s office Web site, as well as making forms available in Spanish.

He has taken certification courses to be certified by the state as a court interpreter and is set to take a test for certification in April.

He also does some investigative work, and works with the victim assistance aspect of the prosecutor’s office, talking with Hispanic women who are not bilingual about getting protective orders in abusive situations.

Sometimes, he said, women will wait until the situation becomes really bad before trying to get out because the man is often the bread-winner and she does not want him to go to jail. "They’re more likely to wait it out as long as they can," Thomas said.

In their home countries, these kinds of abusive situations are often handled by the woman’s male relatives because of the strong family ethic in the Latin American culture.

A key issue, Thomas said, is that this area is still a relatively young immigrant community, where family networks such as those in Chicago, New York, and some cities in Texas and California are not in place.

Sometimes Thomas’ job is just about helping immigrants understand their rights because they are different than those in their home countries.

He also deals with a variety of other issues that affect the Hispanic immigrants, one of them being the inability to get a driver’s license because they do not have Social Security cards. "But they’re going to drive anyway," Thomas says, suggesting that a driver’s permit may be something to think about for immigrants who do not have Social Security cards.

While they face numerous challenges, Thomas says immigrants are trailblazers, pioneers, and they want a slice of the American dream. He also says they are a big part of the economic growth in Northwest Arkansas because they do much of the work, whether it be in construction or production. "To me, immigrants are a special breed of people," he said, adding that not all people in Latin American countries, obviously, choose to come to the U.S. "They’re willing to risk their lives to make a better life for themselves and their kids. If that’s not an entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t know what is."

Still, he said, he is the kind of person who wants to help anyone, not just immigrants. "And that’s why I love this job because it gives me the opportunity to help people."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Agency Presses the Private Sector to Treat Workers Equally

By ELIZA BARLOW, EDMONTON SUN
Two Asian drug runners were hauled off to jail after learning through their interpreters that a judge had found them guilty of conspiracy, trafficking and drug possession.

Justice Sterling Sanderman yesterday convicted Quyen Hong Tran, 47, and Pong Minh Trung, 44, of a lengthy list of drug offences after a month-long Queen's Bench trial that heard from 42 witnesses.

The pair was among four men nabbed after a four-month RCMP investigation in 2003 that included surveillance and 267 wiretapped phone conversations.

"Scant few of the 267 calls do not have the dealing of drugs as a central theme," said Sanderman, noting only 26 of the conversations were solely in English.

Tran and Trung were heavily involved in dealing marijuana and cocaine in the Edmonton area, court heard.

Trung would get marijuana from a supplier in Calgary and bring it to Edmonton, where Tran would then fill orders for the drugs, said Crown prosecutor Greg Rice.

Mounties seized three pounds of pot and one pound of cocaine from Tran and five ounces of cocaine from Trung, said Rice.

The five ounces of coke were found hidden in a rice bucket under a sink in Trung's apartment, court heard. Also found in the apartment was about $6,000 in bundled cash.

At the time of the four men's arrests in October 2003, police said they had "struck a major blow" to the drug trade between Edmonton and Yellowknife.

Tran and Trung had been out on bail during the trial and were taken back into custody after the conviction. A sentencing date has not been set.

Job Police or Not, the EEOC Is Busy With Discrimination

Agency Presses the Private Sector to Treat Workers Equally

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 27, 2006; A13

So they say -- some of them, anyway -- that discrimination is not a problem in America anymore? Don't tell that to the tens of thousands of people who filed complaints last year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In 75,428 filings at EEOC field offices across the country, people described unfair and illegal treatment in private sector workplaces on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, religion and other factors.

Nearly 63 percent of all complaints alleged discrimination based on race or sex, or that the person filing the complaint had been retaliated against for speaking out against such behavior. Charges of sexual harassment were included in those complaints.

The EEOC, the federalagency in charge of enforcing federal civil rights laws, filed 383 lawsuits against alleged offenders last year, garnering $107.7 million for victims through litigation. The agency, which marked its 40th anniversary last summer, helped obtain $271.6 million for victims without going to trial, often through settlements or mediation.

"Litigation is a last resort," said David Grinberg, an EEOC spokesman.

Discrimination charges declined slightly last year, falling 5 percent from the 79,432 filed in 2004. The numbers have fluctuated over the last decade but have never approached the 91,189 charges filed in 1994.

Cari M. Dominguez, the commission's chairwoman, attributed the recent three-year skid, in part, to more aggressive efforts to promote voluntary compliance by providing training about the laws to employers.

"It is clear that the commission can no longer serve solely as the 'job police,' " Dominguez said in a written statement. "We are striving to build partnerships to prevent discrimination, while taking on more high-impact cases that can lead to positive workplace changes for a broad swath of the workforce."

Still, discriminatory behavior abounds. Consider some EEOC cases this month:


· On March 10, a U.S. District Court jury in Tallahassee ordered Associated Security Enforcement Inc. to pay $1.34 million for sexual harassment of four female employees by one of the security company's owners. The owner groped women's breasts, asked for sex in exchange for money, made frequent requests for oral sex and invited women to stay with him overnight, the EEOC said.


· Also on March 10, a U.S. district judge in Chicago approved a consent decree that requires Cracker Barrel restaurants to pay $2 million to 51 current and former employees of three of the chain's restaurants in Illinois. Several female employees testified that they had been victims of unwelcome sexual comments and touching from managers and other employees. Black workers said they had been required to wait on black customers when white employees refused to serve them, had been assigned to work in smoking sections and had been the targets of racially charged language such as "spear-chucking porch monkey."


· On March 16, the former Melrose New York hotel and its Philadelphia-based management company, Berwind Property Group Ltd., agreed to pay $800,000 to settle discrimination claims by Hispanic employees. The hotel had been charged with creating a hostile work environment by requiring employees to speak only English at all times, including during their breaks; with improperly firing Hispanic employees; and with retaliating against employees who complained about the discrimination.


· On March 2, a U.S. District Court jury in Baltimore ordered FedEx Kinko's to pay $108,000 for failing to accommodate a deaf employee with sign language interpreters, a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Ronald Lockhart, the employee, worked as a package handler for the company in Baltimore.

Breaking up the brothel

Police charge 2 search for suspected ringleader
By Karen Ali THE NEWS-TIMES

The News-Times/David W. Harple
More arrests are expected in connection with a Thursday night raid at a brothel at 19 Barnum Road in New Fairfield. Authorities say the operation catered to immigrants.
Now that an alleged doorman and suspected client of a New Fairfield brothel have been charged, police are reportedly looking for the woman who they believe ran the operation.
State police said they expect to make more arrests in connection with a Thursday night raid at a brothel at 19 Barnum Road that, authorities say, catered to immigrants.

"Some more targets are being looked at," State Police Sgt. J. Paul Vance said.

As of late Friday afternoon, there were no more arrests, he said.

In Danbury Superior Court on Friday, Jorge DeJesus Vasquez, 21, was arraigned on charges of promotion of prostitution. A judge set his bail at $50,000 and ordered him to return back to court April 6.

Vasquez, who lived at 19 Barnum Road, told a court employee he did "nothing" for a living, that he came here from Mexico and that he had been living in America for eight months.

Short and stocky with dark hair and buzz cut, Vasquez stood in court, his hands cuffed in front of him, next to a Spanish-speaking interpreter who translated the proceedings for him.

"He was an employee who appears to be involved in the day-to-day operations" of the brothel, according to a person involved with the case. He was a "busy doorman" at the alleged house of prostitution, said the source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

Vasquez is facing charges of promoting prostitution, racketeering and conspiracy.

Also charged after Thursday's raid was Alterman Perez-Perez, 23, of Franklin Street. He is accused of patronizing a prostitute and has been released on a promise to appear in court April 3.

Law enforcement sources would not say identify the woman whom they say ran the operation or say where she was from. The home's owner said Thursday that the home was rented out to a husband and wife who lived there with another couple. The owner, who said no children lived in the home, denied knowing anything about a brothel on the site.

The Connecticut State Police Human Trafficking Task Force, the New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office and members of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a search at the New Fairfield home at about 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

Human trafficking is the practice of smuggling immigrants into the U.S. and forcing them to do certain kinds of work, including prostitution. Though authorities would not confirm that women at the brothel were victims of trafficking they didn't rule it out.

Michael Gilhooly, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said that trafficking "leads to exploitation of human beings. It opens them to virtual indentured servitude."

Vance said he couldn't talk much about the raid because it was part of an ongoing investigation, but he said the investigation began several months ago. Sources said police were able to collect evidence through surveillance. Neighbors noticed many cars at the scene, sources said, and a "good amount of traffic."

Spanish-speaking women were dropped off at the home in cars with New York license plates, according to the source.

Though Vance couldn't confirm that the New Fairfield brothel was linked to human trafficking, he said that immigrant smuggling "certainly is a problem that's hit all across the U.S. and Connecticut is not exempt. No community is immune to this type of activity."

Vance urged residents who see suspicious activities in their neighborhoods to call their local law enforcement officials.

Though Gilhooly stressed that he couldn't talk about the New Fairfield raid, he said that ICE "takes human trafficking investigations very seriously."

ICE, said Gilhooly, is "very actively involved all around the nation" in human trafficking investigations. "We try to disrupt these criminal organizations, working with other agencies."

The Danbury police have shut down more than a half a dozen brothels over the past several years. Three were shut down last summer and most involved illegal immigrants.

"We've had some that cater to immigrants, absolutely," said Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.

Michael said the people running the Danbury brothels are usually living in the Danbury area. The majority of the prostitutes are women from New York City. He said detectives have found no instances of human smuggling or trafficking during their raids.

"We haven't come across that here," said Michael.