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On Friday afternoon, we stopped people walking in the lobby of SIS and asked them a question.  We received a variety of answers.  Watch the video to hear what these people had to say about their “first time” ….


National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Ice Skating Rink

Ice skating season is here! At the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink at the National Gallery of Art, families, couples, groups of friends and skilled solo ice skaters enjoy the rink throughout the day and night.  Both tourists and locals fill the rink in the center of the park with a 360-degree view of the garden, surrounded by artistic sculptures.

The rink has a jolly feel as ice skaters do laps to the beat of holiday tunes. Skate rentals and two hours on the ice costs only $11.  All levels of ice skaters are welcome.  While many hit the ice with their bums, others spin at high speeds at the center of the rink.  It is surely a fun winter event for all to enjoy!


Fallujah Aftermath


Fallujah’s Aftermath

More than seven years after the United States began bombing Fallujah during the war in Iraq, civilians are getting sick and blame alleged U.S. chemical weapon attacks used by the United States military.

Ross Caputi is a veteran of the war in Iraq and was only 20 years old when he participated in the second siege of Fallujah.  Caputi says it wasn’t until after his return that he alleges that chemical weapons were being used, and the long-lasting effects they would have on the people of Fallujah.

“After I was involved in the siege it became clear to me the that the second siege of Fallujah was one of the greatest war crimes of this millennia so far,” Caputi said.

Ross Caputi, 27

Caputi is the director of The Justice for Fallujah Project, which is his attempt to create awareness of what he believes is illegal warfare that took place in Fallujah.

Chemical warfare

Both the BBC and Al Jazeera reported that Iraqi doctors say that since 2004, the number of birth defects in Fallujah has risen considerably.

According to the BBC, a British-based Iraqi researcher found that heart defects in infants in Fallujah is 13 times higher than the rate of similar birth defects found in infants in Europe.

Caputi distinctly recalls the use of white phosphorus while he was in Fallujah, which the U.S. military admitted to using, but Caputi says that scientific studies show that the illnesses faced by the people in Fallujah is not white phosphorus, but something worse, uranium.

While many believe that uranium was used in military weapons tested in Fallujah, there has been no proof linking the use of uranium in weapons to the U.S. military.

According to the World Health Organization, uranium has a long-term effect on the body and on the environment.

The World Health Organization is working together with the Federal Ministry of Health of Iraq to asses birth defects of Iraqi children, but say they are not studying birth defects in relation to uranium, and claim that that establishing a link between the birth defects and uranium would require further research.

The Justice for Fallujah Project

Ampersand screening at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C.

Caputi holds events on the east coast, screening a documentary called Ampersand: Fallujah, A Lost Generation?  The documentary features scientists from around the world who have conducted research on the events of Fallujah, and also documents several accounts of people who have fallen ill as a result of the events that took place.

The film documents soldiers who have returned to the U.S. after their mission in Fallujah and have fallen ill with cancers and bore children with similar defects as those birth defects seen in Fallujah.

Several scientists who have conducted extensive research on the issue are interviewed in the documentary, providing their analysis.

“I feel a moral obligation to do something to raise awareness… I can never bring complete justice to the people of Fallujah for what was done to them, but I can do something, this is just me trying to do that,” Caputi said.

For more information on the health crisis visit  On this website, Caputi has linked to numerous specialists who speak on the subject, as well as other well-known figures such as Noam Chomsky.

Farmer’s Market at Dupont


Jim Huyett is one of the original venders at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market on Sundays.  Since 1997 Sunnyside Farms and Orchard has been attending the market and serving the community; Huyett said he was one of the first, and one of the few left since then.

Over the years the products produced by Huyett’s farm have changed according to consumer demand. Originally an apple and peach farm, Sunnyside has harvested every vegetable and fruit imaginable said Huyett.

“We’ve done cattle, we’ve done sheep,” Huyett explained.  He recalls that during World War II, his family converted the farm to an all-vegetable farm because that was the product in high demand.  These days, “cheap” is what’s in demand, Huyett said.  At one point he said he used to grow “these fancy French beans” but at $12 a pound, no one buys them.

Jim Huyett, Owner, Sunnyside Farms and Orchard

Sunnyside Farm now produces a variety of fresh condiments, soups, jams and more, which they sell weekly in addition to the fresh produce for sale. Sunnyside Farm has been in the Huyett family for five generations

It is a sustainable farm, but not organic.  In current economic times, Huyett says he can’t take chances in not using minor pesticides to keep away invading insects and possibly allow for the destruction of an entire crop.

Sunnyside Farm probably wont be around for much longer.  Huyett has no plans of passing it along in the same way he inherited it.  Like much of the farmland in West Virginia, Sunnyside will likely be sold in the coming years and the land will be used for development.

Crops in the United States do not provide as good of a livelihood as they once did.  And consumers no longer want to pay for quality produce, rather they gravitate to the cheaper products, most often, a lower quality mass-produced product.

NYC’s Wall Street occupiers: Different actions, common goals


Occupy Wall Street is going strong into it’s second month, despite the unusual snowy weather in NYC.  The protesting continues as individuals find interesting and unique ways to get their messages across.  Corporate greed, social and economic inequality and the lack of jobs are among the many issues being protested in cities around the country.  New York City’s Zuccotti Park is flooded with people, from protesters rallying and marching throughout the city, to children handing out informative literature about the occupation.  Many people hold signs with creative slogans and others play instruments.

Nicholas Schneider stands alongside his wife, and together they distribute orange pieces of mesh.  Take your pick, you can have an orange mesh neck tie or arm band, or anything else Schneider makes with the material.  Schneider says he taking the mesh, which was used to corral protesters and turning into a peace symbol.  In essence, he is taking the enemies weapon and using it against them.

Nicholas Schneider and his wife handing out mesh at Zuccotti Park, NYC.

“Frivolity…with a slight serious side!” Schneider said.

Schneider has not been occupying the park continuously, but shows up periodically to show support and participate.

The Occupied Wall Street Journal, distributed by volunteers around Zuccotti Park, NYC



Occupiers stand strong

All the other occupants still seem hopeful and high-spirited, aside from the fact that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered their generators to be removed.  In the mean time, they have organized and printed two different journals including The Occupied Wall Street Journal, which explain the overall views and desires of the protesters. Volunteers are working hard to distribute them among the public. The occupants are standing their ground, literally.  This is a common ground, with a common goal, and every individual making an attempt to effect change.

Welcome to Daniela Vlacich

Day 1 : Setting up my blog