Meet Blake Ansari.

He is six years old.  And he saw a need.  So he started a book drive for homeless children.  He collected and distributed 600 books.  His next plan?  To build a library.  Here’s what his mother reports he said:

When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self.

Thanks to Shakesville for the link.

They called him the ‘Good Samaritan’

By now, you’ve probably all seen the video:  A Range Rover bumps a motorcyclist from behind and then flees, running over at least one bike in the process.  Bikers in pursuit.  The Range Rover gets stuck in traffic, and bikers leap off their bikes and attack.  One pounds the driver’s window with his helmet until the window breaks.  The video cuts off here, but Alexian Lien was reportedly dragged from his car, beaten, kicked and cut.

I saw this photo posted without any explanation on a news site and wondered Who are those guys?  They looked like bystanders who got involved.  And they were.  One was Sergio Consuegra, who stepped in to protect the family.

Story here.  Almost enough to renew your faith in human nature.

Edited to add:  Interview with Anderson Cooper here.

‘An Adoptee Returns to South Korea, and Changes Follow’

This is a NY Times article about Jane Jeong Trenka’s work in Korea.  Go read it.

By then, South Korea was beginning to change its stance on adoption. As the country became the world’s latest economic miracle, the government slowly began to whittle down the number of international adoptions that many saw as a national shame. Still, experts say the government was unwilling to take steps many felt were needed to shift the country’s mind-set until it was forced to by Ms. Trenka and her fellow adoptees, who were joined in their campaign by unwed mothers. They tirelessly lobbied lawmakers, wrote blogs, held protests and filed complaints with the human rights commission.

*                                 *                                 *

The returnees’ leadership was instrumental to changing the way South Korea viewed adoptions,” said the Rev. Kim Do-hyun, director of KoRoot, an advocacy group for Korean adoptees.

[I was taken aback by the contrast between the great head on this article (“An Adoptee Returns to South Korea, and Changes Follow”) vs. the head on the letters to the editor (“A South Korean Adoptee, Caught Between Two Worlds”). Personally I think the “caught between two worlds” thing is cliched and overdone to death, and is reflective of the way white people think about folks of color. Additionally I was greatly annoyed by the letter writers (adoptive parents all) and their bullshit, and you are therefore warned that this link may cause extreme aggravation.]

Go vote.

Make your voice heard.  There are ample resources to inform your choices.  Take a look at the judicial evaluations as well.

And know your rights.  Photo IDs are only required in a handful of states.  There are voter ID requirements in many states.  Google “[Name of your state] voter ID laws” and know before you go.  Here’s one link.  Here’s another.  Being challenged at the polls is one common form of voter intimidation.  I was requested to show photo ID the last time I voted but I refused because I know the law.  I have also challenged election judges to show me specific sections of the Election Code, which I have read thoroughly.  And sometimes the judges “can’t find” my name on the roster.  Guess I must look like one of those liberal Commie types.  <vbg>

Call your friends in swing states and remind them to vote too.  And check out the important issues on your state ballot.  But get out there.  Vote.

“The Nannies’ Norma Rae”

Photo by Max Vadukul

Ai-jen Poo was a recent Columbia University graduate in 1998 when she got incensed about the status of New York’s domestic workers and started organizing them into something resembling a union

…  by 2010, the organization Poo helped put together, Domestic Workers United, was formidable enough to pressure the New York State legislature into passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, recognizing them as legitimate workers on a par with any other wage earners, and entitled to such amenities as overtime pay, a minimum of three paid days off a year and legal protection from harassment and discrimination: not everything they need, by a long shot, but a big step up from invisibility.

Story here.