"Sixteen Million One: Understanding Civil War" by Patrick Regan


International conflicts such as world wars take up a lot of time and space in the history books, but most of today’s warlike activity occurs within national borders.  From Colombia to Darfur to Sri Lanka the peace has been disrupted by rebel insurgencies, genocide and civil war.  It is estimated (who can tell for sure?) that in the past fifty years sixteen million people have died in these struggles.  A civil war may turn out to be more intractable than wider nternational conflicts since the combatants can’t withdraw back to where they came from. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-883336.mp3

Patrick M. Regan’s book “Sixteen Million One: Understanding Civil War” finds the roots of today’s struggles in poverty, distribution of resources, economic disruption and “identity politics”.  It is not simply that two contending groups are so different — Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda or Protestants and Catholics in Ulster actually have a lot in common — but, writes Dr. Regan, identity “is an important factor in civil wars only after it has become politicized, by being made a criterion for exclusion.”  The conditions that will move a young man to take up arms are complicated with much individual variation, but in many cases they include the recognition that he will be battling forces with greater power and resources but responds to the persuasions of a charismatic leader.  He also may have nothing else useful to do in life. Patrick Regan is a professor of political science at Binghamton University.  He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Peace Research and is on the editorial board of Conflict Management and Peace Science.  He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway.  Among his earlier books are “Organizing Societies for War” (1994) and “Civil Wars and Foreign Powers” (2000).  Professor Regan also served in the U.S.Peace Corps and worked in Mother Teresa’s hospice for the destitute in Calcutta where, he states, “the most striking thing about the ‘patients’ was how they tried to maintain their dignity in spite of extremely trying circumstances.” His knowledge of destabilized regions has been gained first hand, often at personal risk in many of the world’s danger zones.  In “16,000,001” Dr. Regan tells of encounters with the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, rebellion in Central America, Bangladesh and the Palestinian Territories. You don’t have to think too far into the past to see the historical blunders that the world community has made in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  And it will end with Israel relinquishing most or all of the pre-1967 territories to a Palestinian state.  Israel will tear down settlements, move out settlers, and make some sort of arrangements over Jerusalem.  It will have taken nearly thirty years of constant hostilities punctuated by extended periods of armed struggle, but it will get there.

"A Shameful Business" by James Gross


…more is required for a life to be truly human than enough food and drink, clothing and shelter to survive… A fully human life also requires rights to meaningful work and to safe and healthful conditions of work; to pay sufficient to ensure a life of human dignity for a worker and his or her family; protection against unemployment; the right to form and join labor unions; and the ownership of property alone or in association with others. In sum, people need to exercise both political and civil rights and economic rights in order to live fully human lives. — from “A Shameful Business”


“What do you do for a living?” That commonly-asked question — one of the first things we like to know about someone — shows how the economic role we play is bound up with our personal identity.

"A Deadly Draught" by Lesley A. Diehl


A report at the end of summer 2010 revealed that despite the economic slowdown beer consumption has been strong and breweries are enjoying healthy earnings.  That may include the output of microbreweries.  In New York State, a microbrewery is officially defined as an establishment that “may produce or brew up to 60,000 barrels of beer. May sell to licensees. May NOT sell to the general public without a brewer’s retail permit. May apply for an on-premises liquor license in or adjacent to the brewery.”  With those general guidelines — and a 1978 federal law that loosened Prohibition-era restrictions on manufacture and shipment of beer and ale — thousands of small breweries have begun to thrive.  In upstate New York, traditional wine and dairy country has also turned into lager-land. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-918932.mp3

It’s not difficult to brew your own beer, but a loss of ingredients or an interruption in the process can ruin a batch and cause fast economic collapse.  So small-scale independent brewers also need to be mutually supportive.  In Lesley A. Diehl’s new mystery novel “A Deadly Draught” the brewers in the Butternut Valley of central New York are already threatened by drought when they are shaken by a murder and possible acts of sabotage to the brewing process.

Mary Brett Lorson and the Soubrettes

Mary Lorson and the Soubrettes is fronted by Mary Lorson (vocals, guitar, piano, percussion), who began her career twenty years ago as the lead singer of Madder Rose, and since then has fronted the jazzy artrock group Saint Low, scored several films with Billy Cote, and collaborated on other dramatic and musical projects (see website if you want details). As a writer, Lorson is currently developing “Freak Baby and the Kill Thought,” an original play with music about the vaudeville diva Eva Tanguay and “Old School,” a television series set in the music scene of 1980’s Boston. Amelia Sauter (bass, vocals) is also a singer, writer and cartoonist whose work has appeared in publications and anthologies. Leah Houghtaling (banjo, tenor guitar, vocals) composed the score for Becky Lane’s film “Pokerface” and is a master woodworker. She and Amelia own and operate Felicia’s Atomic Lounge in Ithaca, NY.

Holiday Harmonies 2009, Part 3

Expressions continues to celebrate the Holiday Season with another hour of carols courtesy of the Binghamton Downtown Singers and the Wyalusing Swing Choir. The Binghamton Downtown Singers were established in 1983 and have spent many years building a close-knit group of non-professional community singers with the aid of Artistic Director, Alan C. Crabb. Performances include, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Sing We Now of Christmas’. The seven member Wyalusing Swing Choir adds their jazzy renditions of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Slow Dancing in the Snow to fill out this holiday hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgpywP5DpX4

Jared Campbell

In addition to performing in clubs and on campuses nationwide, Jared is moving forward with “The Blue Project,” an interactive live show presented to students to teach them more about the power of songs and about the music business in general. http://youtu.be/c8Y0DtmdU48

"Mosquito" by Walter P. Bowes


“Ahmad smiled thoughtfully, ‘I have been to war many times.  I am too tired of it to be afraid.'”
— from “Mosquito”

Walter P. Bowes’s novel “Mosquito” opens in 1950 with an American, a German and a Russian — seemingly once and future adversaries given the geopolitics of the times — squeezed into a cargo plane above West Africa, harassed by Messerschmidtts left over from World War II.  The American is Major Ira Colby, a war veteran now flying a C47 for an air taxi and delivery outfit he calls Global Transport.  He and his German mechanic, Rick, are based in Tangier, that scruffy internationalized city on the northwest corner of Africa.  Back on the ground they head for Molly’s, a tavern and a place of ill-repute or refuge, depending on individual needs.  A shady CIA agent has a drug-running job for Colby.  Sister Agnes, a Catholic nun, comes to enlist his help in saving the lives of children stranded at a desert oasis and at risk of being sold into slavery.  Colby is hard-pressed to accept either task.  The elements are falling into place for a fast-paced, violent, exciting adult action adventure. Colby and Rick damage the C47 upon landing at the desert airstrip but, in a twist of plot that is logical at an isolated airfield, they find an abandoned plane that can be salvaged to fly again.  The Mosquito was built by the British deHavill and company and was among the spunkiest aircraft to see action in World War II.  Shapely, fast and maneuverable, Colby and his Mosquito become perfect partners through the battles ahead in the desert.  There is an ongoing tribal conflict between the Jurani — allied with an evil drug baron called Turk — and the Coman, whose young king, his beautiful sister and two dozen orphans seek Colby’s protection.  Both sides were equipped with surplus World War II armaments.  There are also the French, the colonial power seeking to avoid further embarrassment. The force of twelve hundred Jurani had lost the race to the oasis and they now occupied the far slope of the southwestern dunes.  They had, however, surprised Turk’s departing armor and had charged in after the first contact, attempting to take the remaining forces.   They had failed, but only just barely.  The halftracks and armored cars fought a successful retreat and again held the perimeter of the oasis.  Small arms were no match against mounted machine guns and armor. This was all right.  Kadar could wait.  He sat astride his horse, out of easy range, taunting Turk’s forces.  He was patient, and dark was approaching.  Besides it would be interesting to play with his new French mortars.  He would soften them up before a dawn attack. — from “Mosquito”
Walter P. Bowes of Elmira became a writer after establishing himself as a furniture designer and builder; he presently works as a bus driver for First Transit in Elmira.  “Mosquito” is his first novel.  He joins Bill Jaker on Off the Page to tell about the adventures in his writing experience, the task of keeping the action moving and believable, the research necessary and the political and social setting of his book.