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1. Signed Copy of J.K. Rowling’s New Crime Novel up for Auction

A signed copy of J.K. Rowling’s new crime novel, Career of Evil, was put up for auction. J.K. Rowling would probably approve of this donation from one of the lucky owners of a signed book, as the book was auctioned for a good cause, for local charity, Brighouse and Surrounding Homeless.

There are only 200 signed copies of the Robert Galbraith book, making the demand for this item at the silent auction very high. The book had a reserve of £1,000. Big House Echo recorded a statement about the charity being supported:


Alison Mitchell, chief Executive of BASH, said: “We provide an outreach service that connects those in need with the charities and services they may not have otherwise known about whilst offering food, clothing and friendly faces.

Thanks to donations we can provide food, drink and clothing. More importantly we can provide a listening ear.

The results from Friday’s auction have not been released. However, we hope that Career of Evil was able to at least break its reserve, and provide a lot of monetary donation for BASH.

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2. Deluxe Illustrated Edition Signed by JKR and Jim Kay to be Auctioned for Charity

A deluxe illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay, will be auctioned off to benefit charity. The auction is intended to take place on December 17, at Sotheby’s London.

The book contains a unique dragon illustration, as well as the inscriptions, “The book that changed my life. J.K. Rowling” and “Mine too! Thank you Jo. Jim Kay.” The book will be auctioned off to benefit Lumos, the charity founded by J.K. Rowling that works for the deinstitutionalization of children, reunite families, and provide aid to families in order to continue caring for their children. The charity hopes to end the institutionalization of children, and give children their right to a family, globally by 2050.

Fine Books & Collections Magazine says of the auctioned item:


It is accompanied by a letter of provenance from the Publishing Director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books: “this is the first advance copy of the Deluxe Edition. It was hand bound ahead of the binding of the rest of the print run and sent from our printer in Italy… ready for signing by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.” 

Historic Harry Potter Prices at Sotheby’s

2007 saw the sale of J.K. Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” for an unprecedented £1,950,000 (est. £30,000-50,000). It was one of just seven copies of the book-each different from each other-hand-written and illustrated by J.K. Rowling.

In 2013, Sotheby’s auctioned the “Lumos Maxima” bracelet, a bespoke sterling silver charm bracelet made by Hamilton & Inches, based on designs by J.K Rowling and inspired by her Harry Potter books, for £20,000 (est. £15,000-20,000). The charms included Harry Potter’s bolt of lightning; glasses and broomstick; a Golden Snitch; Dark Mark skull set with amethyst eyes; Slytherin locket; a winged key; The Tales of Beedle the Bard book; the Sorting Hat; the Deathly Hallows symbol and a wand, which acts as the fastener. 100% of the net sale proceeds went directly to J.K. Rowling’s children’s charity, Lumos.


For more information about the auction, visit the original article, here.

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3. Christmas Charity Anthology for Children!

Out today on Smashwords published by Crimson Cloak Publishing, soon to be released on Amazon Kindle then in paperback. Charity anthology of children’s stories, including two short tales of mine! ALL proceeds to charity. Makes a lovely stocking filler.

Santa's Little Helpers Anthology-Cover

Buy here on Smashwords

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4. Matthew Lewis Surprises 200 kids on a Special Holidy

Matthew Lewis (who played the incredible Neville Longbottom) joined 200 children on their way to Universal for a special holiday. British Airway’s annual charity flight, Dreamflight, sends 200 hand-picked children with disabilities or illness on a special holiday. The children were accompanied by 100 doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and an unsuspecting special guest: “Neville!” BT reports:

More than 5,000 children from across the country have been involved in Dreamflight holidays since the first voyage in 1987. For many, it has been their first time abroad and also gives them a chance to have a holiday without their family.

They will visit a host of attractions, including SeaWorld, Disney World and Universal Studios.

The young passengers have been hand-picked to join the ten-day holiday by doctors and medical experts, having battled with serious illness, disability and trauma.

Lewis, 26, said: “I read about what Dreamflight was and how amazing it was going to be for these kids that I jumped at the chance to be here. It’s been the most amazing day, it’s been a pleasure.

“All these kids have been looking forward to this for a really long time. It just takes me back to when I was a kid and went over to Orlando and saw some amazing things.

“Some of these kids are so buzzing, and it just warms your heart so much to see their faces.”

Read more and see a video clip of the event at BT.com.

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5. NYCC ’15: Miracle on Artist Alley as Winsor & Newton Blesses Creators with Hundreds of Free Markers

When the lights in New York Comic Con 2015’s Artist Alley dimmed low on Sunday, everyone thought that party was over.  As it turns out, the celebration was just getting started.  While artists packed their bags, Winsor & Newton, a prestigious art supply company in attendance the show, decided to give away their entire leftover stock of pigment markers to […]

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6. The Harry Potter Alliance Celebrates 10th Birthday!

Over the past weekend (10th October), the Harry Potter Alliance celebrated its tenth birthday.

Their celebrations included a party at GeekyCon in August, and a month-long Indiegogo campaign (HPA10), through which they raised total of $106,545, well-surpassing their initial goal of $77,777.

NerdCon: Stories provided the venue for HPA’s birthday party, which featured important special guests such as Leaky’s own Melissa Anelli, (President of the Board), Paul DeGeorge (Co-Founder and Board member) and Hank Green and Maureen Johnson (long-term supporters of HPA), along with many more!

The event itself was full-Potter style (though the HPA itself now encompasses all manner of fandom). Harry and the Potters were the Wrock band for the night, and Hank Green played Accio Deathly Hallows, along with his other Harry Potter songs.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.54.06

The NerdCon event page stated:

‘ On October 10th, 2005, the Harry Potter Alliance held its first-ever event in Somerville, Massachusetts. Now, ten years later – and with the support of many people in the NerdCon: Stories community – the HPA has grown to a global organization with accomplishments under its belt such as sending five cargo planes of disaster relief supplies to Haiti, donating over 250,000 books around the world, and getting Warner Bros. to make all Harry Potter chocolate ethically sourced.

Come celebrate ten years of the HPA using fandom to make the world a better place and learn how to get involved for the next ten. Recommended attire: dress robes and/or party hats.’

Geeky News reports:

‘Over the years, the Harry Potter Alliance amassed a strong base of supporters and many volunteers. For a long time, that was entirely how the organization was run – by volunteers taking time away from their evenings and weekends, away from day jobs and school, to help make a little non-profit make a difference. I was one of those volunteers for several years. And the HPA highlighted a couple of hundreds  of them during the party. Some, like Claudia Morales and Jack Bird, are now paid employees. Morales, on talking about her reaction to becoming a staff member of the organization she had come to love: “It was like getting my Hogwarts letter.”’

‘Their success is a testament to the power of fandom to change the world for the better. The HPA is the true illustration of what powerful communities united around the passion for a common love of story can do in the world. And it was abundantly clear as several hundred people gathered in the Minneapolis Convention Center, to celebrate the organization that had brought them together.’

The Harry Potter Alliance is a non-profit organisation with the slogan ‘The Weapon We Have is Love’, and its website states:

‘The Harry Potter Alliance turns fans into heroes. We’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story. Since 2005, we’ve engaged millions of fans through our work for equality, human rights, and literacy.’

You can read more on the event and see more photos here.

Join Leaky in wishing the Harry Potter Alliance a very happy 10th birthday, and a huge congratulations on their success so far!

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7. Rupert Grint supports Fighting Cancer through “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning”!

Like many of those in the Potter Universe, Rupert Grint is a big supporter of charities. This time he is showing support for those battling cancer, by contributing to a charity event called World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. The charity’s website states:

Catch up over a cuppa, enjoy some gorgeous treats – and the money you raise at your Coffee Morning will help us make sure no one has to face cancer alone. Sign up for your free Coffee Morning Kit, filled with everything you need to host a brilliant get together.

According to the site, last year’s fundraiser brought in over 25 million British pounds. You may sign up and donate to support the cause on the charities website. If you are in short supply of baking ideas, Rupert Grint has come to the rescue. Rupert showed his support by contributing a recipe to the site’s baking ideas. The recipe for Rupert’s Stem Ginger and Dark Chocolate Biscuits can be found on the website, here.


They look delicious.

The Ice Cream Man recommends doing so while watching the Celebrity Taste Makers episode starring Rupert Grint.

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8. Please join “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” Fundraising for Lumos

This year J.K. Rowling will celebrate her 50th birthday. To help celebrate this achievement, Always J.K. Rowling is hosting their fourth annual “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” fundraiser for Jo’s charity, Lumos. This year, they want the celebration and honoring of Jo’s birthday to be even bigger and better than in years past (she only turns 50 once in a lifetime). In the last four years, “Light Up  Jo’s Birthday” has raised more than 7,500 pounds for Lumos. This year, if the draw of giving back to the community isn’t enough, Always J.K. Rowling is offering prizes to encourage participation. Prizes include:

-A signed copy of The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

– A limited edition, illustrated copy of A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, signed by the author and the illustrator, Ted Nasmith

– A rare dust jacket from an unsold version of A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin, signed by the author

– A one night stay in The Georgian House Hotel‘s ‘Wizard Chambers’ in London

– A copy of The Casual Vacancy on DVD, signed by the cast and crew

– A limited edition Marauder’s Map print by MinaLima

– A signed photo of Chris Rankin

– A pair of tickets to Potted Potter

– A pair of tickets to the Muggle Tours Walking Tour of London

– A Harry Potter t-shirt from Qwertee

– A surprise book bundle, including signed copies

Donations will be taken throughout the month of July, leading up to J.K. Rowling’s (and Harry Potter’s) birthday. You can enter to win prizes without donating, though donations are strongly encouraged. There is no residential or age limitation on the prizes. More information about how to donate and how to enter the prize draw can be found on the “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” donation page. Please share this news on social media to encourage more to help donate.

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9. The Education Fraud

Today I was really riled up by Global Citizen's post : 'If girls would complete their primary education, maternal deaths would decrease by 70%'.
Someone please explain this daft statement to me because I cannot see how having completed high school will help a woman who has no access to a clean, well-equipped medical facility!
I think that is the stupidest oversimplification of a very serious social problem. What expectant mothers need is proper nutrition and support. They need medical care during and after the pregnancy, and during the birthing process. 
And that brings me to what I call the 'Education Fraud.' There has been this concerted effort by everyone in the 'do-good' field to make us believe that setting up schools is the answer to everything. From Malala's claims of how important education is to her country (it is, but so much more needs to be addressed before setting up schools) to people signing off parts of their paychecks to help some child learn his abcd's in a remote corner of the world, we all have bought into the concept of investing in schooling. It is great, but it is pointless if it is not predicated on more pressing priorities. And especially when we are already rethinking our entire learning system!
I was always irritated with Greg Mortenson's idea. It bothered me that he thought kids who were covering their frost-bitten feet with straw should be thrilled with the pencils he provided. The deprivation those children were experiencing, they would be thrilled with anything. Electricity, plumbing, water, maybe even chocolates.....? I will not accept that that the joy of learning something new (for it is a joy) is more important that basic human needs. And incomprehensible soundbites like the one that leads this write-up do not convince me. My cook's son goes to a school where where most of the students come from well-to-do families. Along with the theorems and grammar, he learns how disadvantaged he is and how different from his friends. He is a very unhappy child.
I work for an organization that sets up schools in under-resourced communities in Punjab. It is a unique model. All the children come from one community. Besides the basic food and clothing, we ensure that the children learn to express their hopes and fears. There is no set curriculum; the aim is to provide a safe nurturing environment for them to develop their potential. It is not schooling as much as it is nurturing and support. the concentration remains on what they need, not what we would like them to have.
Poverty is a much more insidious evil than a simple lack of opportunity for the affected community. It affects the mindset of a people, it affects the spirit, it affects their thinking. Recent research proves it affects both mind and brain. More pertinently, it results in markedly uncomfortable living situations and limits people's access to facilities that everyone has a right to. Poverty is a disease, and it, like any other disease, has to be given the proper antidote. I can assure you that that antidote is not a pencil or a blackboard. 
About 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world are suffering from chronic undernourishment. This is a 2015 UN statistic. Each one of these individuals, children and the mothers-to-be included, are hungry and afraid. Their main worry is how to fend off hunger pangs, where to get clean water from, and what livelihood to find that will sustain them. It is our collective responsibility to make food and stability a priority, for all people everywhere in the world. Education is only the next step. We should move to that step only after we have lived up to our humanity; after every individual in our race is safe from hunger and strife. it is not education but the freedom from hunger and oppression is the most basic human right that we absolutely must address. 

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10. Same-sex marriage now and then

By Rachel Hope Cleves

Same-sex marriage is having a moment. The accelerating legalization of same-sex marriage at the state level since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, has truly been astonishing. Who is not dumbstruck by the spectacle of legal same-sex marriages performed in a state such as Utah, which criminalized same-sex sexual behavior until 2003? The historical whiplash is dizzying.

Daily headlines announcing the latest changes to the legal landscape of same-sex marriage are feeding public curiosity about the history of such unions, and several of the books that top the “Gay & Lesbian History” bestsellers lists focus on same-sex marriage. However, they tend to focus on the immediate antecedents for today’s legal decisions, rather than the historical roots of the issue.

At first consideration, it may seem anachronistic to describe a same-sex union from the early nineteenth century as a “marriage,” but this is the language that several who knew Charity Bryant (1777-1851) and Sylvia Drake (1784-1868) used at the time. As a young boy growing up in western Vermont during the antebellum era, Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr. paid a visit to a tailor shop run by the two women to order a suit of clothes made. Noticing something unusual about the women, Hurlburt asked around town and “heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other.” Looking back from the vantage of old age, Hurlburt chose to include their story in a handwritten memoir he left to his descendants. Like homespun suits, the women were a relic of frontier Vermont, which was receding swiftly into the distance as the twentieth century surged forward. Once upon a time, Hurlburt recalled for his relatives, two women of unusual character could be known around town as a married couple.

There were many who agreed with Hurlburt. Charity Bryant’s sister-in-law, Sarah Snell Bryant, mother to the beloved antebellum poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant, wrote to the women “I consider you both one as man and wife are one.” The poet himself described his Aunt Sylvia as a “fond wife” to her “husband,” his Aunt Charity. And Charity called Sylvia her “helpmeet,” using one of the most common synonyms for wife in early America.

The evidence that Charity and Sylvia possessed a public reputation as a married couple in their small Vermont town, and among the members of their family, goes a long way to constituting evidence that their union should be labeled as a same-sex marriage and seen as a precedent for today’s struggle. In the legal landscape of the early nineteenth century, “common law” marriages could be verified based on two conditions: a couple’s public reputation as being married, and their sharing of a common residence. Charity and Sylvia fit both those criteria. After they met in the spring of 1807, while Charity was paying a visit to Sylvia’s hometown of Weybridge, Vermont, Charity decided to rent a room in town and invited Sylvia to come live with her. The two commenced their lives together on 3 July 1807, a date that the women regarded as their anniversary forever after. The following year they built their own cottage, initially a twelve-by-twelve foot room, which they moved into on the last day of 1808. They lived there together for the rest of their days, until Charity’s death in 1851 from heart disease. Sylvia lasted another eight years in the cottage, before moving into her older brother’s house for the final years of her life.

The grave of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake.

The grave of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake. Photo by Rachel Hope Cleves. Do not use without permission.

Of course, Charity and Sylvia did not fit one very important criterion for marriage, common-law or statutory: that the union be established between a man and a woman. But then, their transgression of this requirement likened their union to other transgressive marriages of the age: those between couples where one or both spouses were already married, or where one or both spouses were beneath the age of consent at the formation of the union, or where one spouse was legally enslaved. In each of these latter circumstances, courts called on to pass judgment over questions of inheritance or the division of property sometimes recognized the validity of marriages even where the spouses could not legally be married according to statute. Since Charity and Sylvia never argued over property in life, and since their inheritors did not challenge the terms of the women’s wills which split their common property between their families, the courts never had a reason to rule on the legality of the women’s marriage. Ultimately, the question of whether their union constituted a legal marriage in its time cannot be resolved.

Regardless, it is vital that the history of marriage include relationships socially understood to be marriages as well as those relationships that fit the legal definition. Although the legality of same-sex marriage has been the subject of focused attention in the past decade (and the past year especially), we cannot forget that marriage exists first and foremost as a social fact. To limit the definition of marriage entirely to those who fit within its statutory terms would, for example, exclude two and a half centuries of enslaved Americans from the history of marriage. It would confuse law’s prescriptive powers with a description of reality, and give statute even more power than its oversized claims.

Awareness of how hard-fought the last decade’s legalization battle has been makes it difficult to believe that during the early national era two same-sex partners could really and truly be married. However, a close look at Charity and Sylvia’s story compells us to re-examine our beliefs. History is not a progress narrative, we all know. What’s only just become possible now may have also been possible at points in the past. Historians of the early American republic might want to ask why Charity and Sylvia’s marriage was possible in the first decades of the nineteenth century, whether it would have been so forty years later or forty years before, and what their marriage can tell us about the possibilities for sexual revolution and women’s independence in the years following the Revolution. For historians of any age, Charity and Sylvia’s story is a reminder of the unexpected openings and foreclosures that make the past so much more interesting than our assumptions.

Rachel Hope Cleves is Associate Professor of History at the University of Victoria. She is author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America.

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11. Is America generous? [infographic]

Being a generous person and donating a part of one’s income is something many people—and many religions—believe is important. In their Science of Generosity Survey, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson took a closer look at this practice, particularly concerning Americans, to find not only how much of their income they donated, but how much they said they donated, as illustrated in this infographic.

Infographic of Smith/Paradox of Generosity

Download a jpg or PDF of the infographic.

Headline image credit: Photo by 401(k) 2012, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

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12. What constitutes a “real” refugee?

Refugee identity is often shrouded in suspicion, speculation and rumour. Of course everyone wants to protect “real” refugees, but it often seems – upon reading the papers – that the real challenge is to find them among the interlopers: the “bogus asylum seekers”, the “queue jumpers”, the “illegals”.

Yet these distinctions and definitions shatter the moment we subject them to critical scrutiny. In Syria, no one would deny a terrible refugee crisis is unfolding. Western journalists report from camps in Jordan and Turkey documenting human misery and occasionally commenting on political manoeuvring, but never doubting the refugees’ veracity.

But once these same Syrians leave the overcrowded camps to cross the Mediterranean, a spell transforms these objects of pity into objects of fear. They are no longer “refugees”, but “illegal migrants” and “terrorists”. However data on migrants rescued in the Mediterranean show that up to 80% of those intercepted by the Italian Navy are in fact deserving of asylum, not detention.

Other myths perpetuate suspicion and xenophobia. Every year in the UK, refugee charity and advocacy groups spend precious resources trying to counter tabloid images of a Britain “swamped” by itinerant swan-eaters and Islamic extremists. The truth – that Britain is home to just 1% of refugees while 86% are hosted in developing countries, including some of the poorest on earth, and that one-third of refugees in the UK hold University degrees – is simply less convenient for politicians pushing an anti-migration agenda.

We are increasingly skilled in crafting complacent fictions intended not so much to demonise refugees as exculpate our own consciences. In Australia, for instance, ever-more restrictive asylum policies – which have seen all those arriving by boat transferred off-shore and, even when granted refugee status, refused the right to settle in Australia – have been presented by supporters as merely intended to prevent the nefarious practice of “queue-jumping”. In this universe, the border patrols become the guardians ensuring “fair” asylum hearings, while asylum-seekers are condemned for cheating the system.

That the system itself now contravenes international law is forgotten. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan asylum-seeking mothers recently placed on suicide watch – threatening to kill themselves in the hope that their orphaned, Australian-born children might then be saved from detention – are judged guilty of “moral blackmail”.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (7134901933).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Such stories foster complacency by encouraging an extraordinary degree of confidence in our ability to sort the deserving from the undeserving. The public remain convinced that “real” refugees wait in camps far beyond Europe’s borders, and that they do not take their fate into their own hands but wait to be rescued. But this “truth” too is hypocritical. It conveniently obscures the fact that the West will not resettle one-tenth of the refugees who have been identified by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as in need of resettlement.

In fact, only one refugee in a hundred will ever be resettled from a camp to a third country in the West. In January 2014 the UK Government announced it would offer 500 additional refugee resettlement places for the “most vulnerable” refugees as a humanitarian gesture: but it’s better understood as political rationing.

Research shows us that undue self-congratulation when it comes to “helping” refugees is no new habit. Politicians are fond of remarking that Britain has a “long and proud” tradition of welcoming refugees, and NGOs and charities reiterate the same claim in the hope of grounding asylum in British cultural values.

But while the Huguenots found sanctuary in the seventeenth century, and Russia’s dissidents sought exile in the nineteenth, closer examination exposes the extent to which asylees’ ‘warm welcome’ has long rested upon the convictions of the few prepared to defy the popular prejudices of the many.

Poor migrants fleeing oppression have always been more feared than applauded in the UK. In 1905, the British Brothers’ League agitated for legislation to restrict (primarily Jewish) immigration from Eastern Europe because of populist fears that Britain was becoming ‘the dumping ground for the scum of Europe’. Similarly, the bravery of individual campaigners who fought to secure German Jews’ visas in the 1930s must be measured against the groundswell of public anti-semitism that resisted mass refugee admissions.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (6988913212).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

British MPs in 1938 were insistent that ‘it is impossible for us to absorb any large number of refugees here’, and as late as August 1938 the Daily Mail warned against large number of German Jews ‘flooding’ the country. In the US, polls showed that 94% of Americans disapproved of Kristallnacht, 77% thought immigration quotas should not be raised to allow additional Jewish migration from Germany.

All this suggests that Western commitment after 1951 to uphold a new Refugee Convention should not be read as a marker of some innate Western generosity of spirit. Even in 1947, Britain was forcibly returning Soviet POWs to Stalin’s Russia. Many committed suicide en route rather than face the Gulags or execution. When in 1972, Idi Amin expelled Ugandan’s Asians – many of whom were British citizens – the UK government tried desperately to persuade other Commonwealth countries to admit the refugees, before begrudgingly agreeing to act as a refuge of “last resort”. If forty years on the 40,000 Ugandan Asians who settled in the UK are often pointed to as a model refugee success story, this is not because but in spite of the welcome they received.

Many refugee advocates and NGOs are nevertheless wary of picking apart the public belief that a “generous welcome” exists for “real” refugees. The public, after all, are much more likely to be flattered than chastised into donating much needed funds to care for those left destitute – sometime by the deliberate workings of the asylum system itself. But it is important to recognise the more complex and less complacent truths that researchers’ work reveals.

For if we scratch the surface of our asylum policies beneath a shiny humanitarian veneer lies the most cynical kind of politics. Myth making sustains false dichotomies between deserving “refugees” there and undeserving “illegal migrants” here – and conveniently lets us forget that both are fleeing the same wars in the same leaking boats.

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13. Emma Watson on Gender Equality

As a United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson has been hard at work promoting support for women around the world. Recently, Ms. Watson stood along side UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to launch the UN’s “HeForShe” Campaign, at UN Headquarters in New York. The HeForShe Campaign calls for boys and men world wide to participate in the gender equality movement. The campaign hopes to have one billion boys and men become advocates for stopping women’s global inequality. Ms. Watson, giving a speech at the event, spoke at length about her experiences and what she hope to see happen through the campaign. Rappler reports:


“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are.”

“I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves,” Watson said.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited to participate in the conversation? Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”

“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man …. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.”

Watson said liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women.

“When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be strong,” she said.

“You might think: who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the UN? I’ve been asking myself at the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make this better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel my responsibility to say something.”

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.”

“Why has the word become such an unpopular one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” she said.

“My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. These influences are the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it but they are the feminists needed in the world today. We need more of those.”

She stressed that both men and women must work together for the girls and women who are less privileged than she. She cited women who earn less than men for doing the same work, child brides, and girls who are unable to finish their education.

The full length article from Rappler and the transcript of Ms. Watson’s entire speech can be read here.

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14. Onijoins the Humble Bundle brigade

oni humble bundle1 Onijoins the Humble Bundle brigade

And as Valiant ended, Oni has taken up the Humble Bundle comics slot. $360 worth of comics including The Sixth Gun, Letter 44 and more. And you benefit the charity Direct Relief. Here’s more:

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15. Poetry Friday: Hair

Happy Friday everyone! We’ve chosen a poem from Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving to kick off the weekend:hair poem


It took six years

to grow my hair this long.

A few quick snips

and most of it will be gone,

a ponytail

in the US Mail,

off to be part of a wavy wig

worn by someone

whose hair

sickness stole.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever meet,

but if we do,

maybe we’ll look

like sisters.

If you’re interested in donating your hair, please check out a few of these great organizations:

Locks of Love

Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign

Wigs for Kids

 For more poems about giving, check out Lend a Hand:

Lend a Hand

Filed under: Lee & Low Likes, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: charity, donation, hair, hair donation, locks of love, pantene pro-v, patene beautiful lengths, poetry, poetry Friday, volunteering, wigs for kids

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16. Writing Contest

Mark Miller's ONE is a spiritual anthology featuring true stories of faith from best-selling and critically acclaimed authors around the world.

The 2015 edition is going to be a little different. It will be written by YOU! All of the stories in the 2015 book will be by first time authors. 20 stories will be selected from all submissions.

If you have a story to tell and have NEVER been published, this is your chance. We want to hear your story.

Beginning October 1, 2014 and running through January 31, 2015, submit your story by FB message to MarkMillersOne - www.facebook.com/MarkMillersOne

Be sure to "like" the page while you are there and share it with your friends.

Now for some details:

*This contest is open to everyone 18 years and older, or 12 to 17 years with signed consent of a parent or guardian.

*The writer must NEVER have been published, either traditionally or self.

*The story must be an original work and not infringe on anyone else's copyrights.

*The story will be published by Helping Hands Press in the 2015 edition of ONE. As such, Helping Hands Press will retain all print and digital rights of the story for five (5) years from the date of publication. Selected authors will also have the opportunity to contract with Helping Hands Press for future works, but are under no obligation.

*Submissions should be in a Word-compatible document. A minimum of 1,000 words, but no more than 10,000 words. Stories must be inspirational or faith-based, preferably Non-Fiction (sorry, no poetry). Stories containing profanity, sex, or violence will be automatically disqualified.

*Winning selections will be personally edited by Mark Miller. Any and all submissions, in whole or part, may be displayed on the ONE Facebook page for promotional purposes.

*Contestants agree to donate all proceeds from the sale of ONE 2015 to a charity selected by Mark Miller, MillerWords.com or Mark Miller's ONE.

Please feel free to share this event and invite any aspiring author you know. Please post any questions to this event page.

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17. Pure Joy

I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.



She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:



Priceless.  Pure Joy.

After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.


Filed under: Dad stuff

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18. Alex Field’s ‘Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding’ is a Real Treat

Alex Field‘s talents as an author, publisher and speaker, her love of Christmas pudding, and her overt enthusiasm for Jane Austen all cleverly amalgamate in the latest of her series, Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding. Having previously featured her beloved Pride and Prejudice characters in Mr Darcy and Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck, Alex […]

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19. Band Aid (an infographic)

On this day in 1984, musical aficionados from the worlds of pop and rock came together to record the iconic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ single for Band Aid. The single has gone down in history as an example of the power of music to help right the wrongs in the world. The song leapt to the number one spot over the Christmas of 1984, selling over a million copies in under a week and totalling sales of three million by the end of that year. The Band Aid super-group featured the cream of eighties pop, including David Bowie, Phil Collins, George Michael, Sting, Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney.

The sales target for the single was £70,000, all of which was to be donated to the African famine relief fund. With support from Radio 1 DJs and a Top of the Pops Christmas Special, sales sky-rocketed and Geldof, feeling the strength of public opinion behind him, went toe-to-toe with the conservative government in an attempt to have tax on the single waived. Margaret Thatcher initially refused the plea, but as public outcry grew, Thatcher caved-in to public demands and the tax on sales worth nearly £9 million was donated back to charity.

Bob Geldof and a host of artists old and new have re-recorded the single to help raise funds to stem the Ebola crisis. Our infographic marks the 30th anniversary of the original recording and illustrates the movers and shakers that made this monumental milestone in pop history possible.


To view free articles examining the cause, the people, and the music, you can open the graphic as a PDF.

Headline image credit: Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 1985. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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20. Teens for Jeans

make_a_differenceKids Collect Jeans for Teens!

Over 1.5 million teens and children are homeless. One of the items they need most is a pair of jeans. YOU can make a difference by helping to clothe homeless youth.

Teens for Jeans is a campaign to help get YOU involved!

  • WHAT: Jeans. Check your closet for jeans that don’t fit you anymore. Run a drive at your school, place of worship, or local community center to collect as many pairs of jeans as you can!
  • WHERE: Drop off all pairs at your local Aéropostale or P.S. from Aéropostale clothing store.
  • WHEN: January 12th through February 16th, 2015

Make a difference!  This winter YOU can help collect jeans for kids and teens who really need them!

—Amanda, STACKS Intern

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21. Do unto others as they would want you to do

So we are back to my favorite topic - charity. In a previous write-up, I discussed how giving away money from a stockpile of it is not necessarily noble. By extension, the concept also applies to giving away time when you have a lot of it on your hands.

But it is not so. Giving of yourself - effort, emotional attention and time - is much more difficult than writing a check, and requires real commitment. Our values are sorely tested when you have to take time out of an already full day to go do something to bring succor to someone else. It is easier if that person is someone you care about, so friends and family are a different story altogether. But when it is someone you do not even know, or even relate to well, it calls on every bit of strength in your belief system. It is also a great way to test your own commitment to a cause.

 As difficult  as it is to reach out to an individual you cannot really connect with, in sympathy or otherwise, it becomes just as important to accept them and their needs. And that is a crucial factor in philanthropy. I have heard the common dictum that talks of finding your own cause, something that you feel for. I think that is a really misguided notion.The cause should be where the need is most dire. Because helping where help is needed most is what charity is all about. I might think kids need to be in school, but what the kids really need is food and clothing first. I cannot give them a book instead of bread just so I can feel good about myself, or because I had that extra book to give away. That is a gift, not charity

Another important part is being non-judgmental when assessing need. Wondering why a needy family does not manage time better, or have fewer kids, or be less whiny is not a factor in deciding their need. Charity in its purest form must be unselfish, and that means your prejudices and opinions should be irrelevant to the act of giving.

I believe the defining nature of any charitable act is the establishment of a feeling of hope in the receiver. Hope is not just an optimistic wish, or a pleasant vision of the future. It is also a reflection of joy and satisfaction in the present. So when you fulfill an immediate need, or remove an imminent distress, it gives the person such relief that it translates to hope - hope in the present day for a better day tomorrow. And that is why it is imperative and unquestionable that we provide for the requirement, irrespective of what we think or have or want to contribute.

Altruism  is predicated on doing good for others. It does not include the right to decide what is good for them, or to classify their needs according to our priorities. Or to withhold charity because of the recipient's attitude. It was Mother Theresa who put it so lucidly, "It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving."  And how much effort, she may have well added.

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22. Immoral philosophy

I call myself a moral philosopher. However, I sometimes worry that I might actually be an immoral philosopher. I worry that there might be something morally wrong with making the arguments I make. Let me explain.

When it comes to preventing poverty related deaths, it is almost universally agreed that Peter Singer is one of the good guys. His landmark 1971 article, “Famine, Affluence and Morality” (FAM), not only launched a rich new area of philosophical discussion, but also led to millions in donations to famine relief. In the month after Singer restated the argument from FAM in a piece in the New York Times, UNICEF and OXFAM claimed to have received about $660, 000 more than they usually took in from the phone numbers given in the piece. His organisation, “The Life You Can Save”, used to keep a running estimate of total donations generated. When I last checked the website on 13th February 2012, this figure stood at $62, 741, 848.

Singer argues that the typical person living in an affluent country is morally required to give most of his or her money away to prevent poverty related deaths. To fail to give as much as you can to charities that save children dying of poverty is every bit as bad as walking past a child drowning in a pond because you don’t want to ruin your new shoes. Singer argues that any difference between the child in the pond and the child dying of poverty is morally irrelevant, so failure to help must be morally equivalent. For an approachable version of his argument see Peter Unger, who developed and refined Singer’s arguments in his 1996 book, Living High and Letting Die.

I’ve argued that Singer and Unger are wrong: failing to donate to charity is not equivalent to walking past a drowning child. Morality does – and must – pay attention to features such as distance, personal connection and how many other people are in a position to help. I defend what seems to me to be the commonsense position that while most people are required to give much more than they currently do to charities such as Oxfam, they are not required to give the extreme proportions suggested by Singer and Unger.

Saving lives, by Oxfam East Africa, CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

So, Singer and Unger are the good guys when it comes to debates on poverty-related death. I’m arguing that Singer and Unger are wrong. I’m arguing against the good guys. Does that make me one of the bad guys? It is true that my own position is that most people are required to give more than they do. But isn’t there still something morally dubious about arguing for weaker moral requirements to save lives? Singer and Unger’s position is clear and easy to understand. It offers a strong call to action that seems to actually work – to make people put their hands in their pockets. Isn’t it wrong to risk jeopardising that given the possibility that people will focus only on the arguments I give against extreme requirements to aid?

On reflection, I don’t think what I do is immoral philosophy. The job of moral philosophers is to help people to decide what to believe about moral issues on the basis of reasoned reflection. Moral philosophers provide arguments and critique the arguments of others. We won’t be able to do this properly if we shy away from attacking some arguments because it is good for people to believe them.

In addition, the Singer/Unger position doesn’t really offer a clear, simple conclusion about what to do. For Singer and Unger, there is a nice simple answer about what morality requires us to do: keep giving until giving more would cost us something more morally significant than the harm we could prevent; in other words, keep giving till you have given most of your money away. However, this doesn’t translate into a simple answer about what we should do, overall. For, on Singer’s view, we might not be rationally required or overall required to do what we are morally required to.

This need to separate moral requirements from overall requirements is a result of the extreme, impersonal view of morality espoused by Singer. The demands of Singer’s morality are so extreme it must sometimes be reasonable to ignore them. A more modest understanding of morality, which takes into account the agent’s special concern with what is near and dear to her, avoids this problem. Its demands are reasonable so cannot be reasonably ignored. Looked at in this way, my position gives a clearer and simpler answer to the question of what we should do in response to global poverty. It tells us both what is morally and rationally required. Providing such an answer surely can’t be immoral philosophy.

Headline image credit: Devil gate, Paris, by PHGCOM (Own work). CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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23. Lion Sketch for Sale to Support The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado

John the Lion, the handsome fellow I have sketched several times at the Cincinnati Zoo
I have a sketch for sale of John the Lion  that will benefit The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado to build funds in order for them to bring in and care for 33 lions and 1 Andean bear just being rescued from circuses.

Spread the word; Share and enjoy!


From a trip last summer...
You can see all the art and prints available here:

Also for sale is a signed copy of my book Big Cats.

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24. Bath Kids Literature Festival Fundraiser

I just sent off my artwork to be auctioned off for this excellent fundraiser in aid of Bath Festivals:

This is your chance to own a unique piece of original art by one of the UK’s best and most popular illustrators. Come along on the night to bid on one of several framed pieces of art – each depicting the famous Bath Children’s Literature Red Chair.
Amazing artists including including Chris Riddell (Goth Girl), Ben Cort(Aliens love Underpants), Nick Sharratt (The Story of Tracey Beaker),  Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch), Alison Jay (Welcome to the Zoo), Michael Foreman (War Game) and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) have all donated pieces featuring their own, entertaining interpretation of the Festivals’ iconic red storytelling chair.
Help secure the future of the Bath Festivals internationally renowned programme of popular Festivals and be in with a chance of acquiring a piece of artwork to treasure for your family, school or business.
An Online Auction of many more Artworks will be launched on the night.
My picture is painted using all materials I have picked for the art lessons and workshops I'll be giving soon via The Kraken Studio - all cheap stuff but really nice.

Go and admire the rest, there are some Mighty Fine Red Chairs to be had.

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25. Lumos Receives Award

Lumos tweeted that they have been awarded the Charity Award of International Aid and Development for their work in Moldova. Lumos is working in Moldova to create an Inclusive Education program. This program works to ensure that kids with disabilities have equal access to “universal services,” such as education. Lumos believes that this is a crucial step in ending the institutionalization of children. Lumos discussed their work in an article on their web page a couple of years ago:

During a conference in November 2013, Lumos and the Ministry of Education in Moldova were able show that developing these much-needed services is achievable.

The conference brought together 200 policy makers, teachers, government officials, education specialists and professionals from non-governmental organisations to highlight not only the achievements made in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, but highlight the crucial link between inclusive education, deinstitutionalisation and the reform of services for children and families.

Participants were also able see the services for themselves and were able to take part in the inaugural opening of two resource centers for inclusive education in Ialoveni region.  They also heard from a number of the 570 children who had left residential institutions, who are now growing up within families and are now accessing education in their community and alongside their friends and peers.


Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 5.56.32 PM

If you would like to donate, or support Lumos in any way, please visit Lumos’ website. Please join us here at Leaky in congratulating all those who dedicate their hardwork and efforts to Lumos, as well as J.K. Rowling.

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