View Full Version : Are you rich enough for an education?

Jan Klimkowski
01-20-2013, 01:35 PM
With a weary inevitability, the veil is lifted.....

An elite education for the self-selecting elite.

Oxford college sued over using 'selection by wealth' for admissions

Student takes St Hugh's to court after after being rejected for not having access to £21,000 for tuition fees and living costs

Daniel Boffey
The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/19/oxford-university-st-hughs-sued-student-fees), Saturday 19 January 2013 15.38 GMT
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St Hugh's college argues that 'it is important that those who obtain a place on courses are financially able to complete them'. Photograph: Alamy

An Oxford college is being sued for discriminating against poorer students applying to study for postgraduate courses. St Hugh's, which was founded in 1886, is being taken to court for choosing applicants not just on academic merit, but also on their ability to prove they can pay tens of thousands of pounds for tuition fees and living expenses.

It is claimed that, along with other Oxford colleges, St Hugh's is "selecting by wealth" in asking students with a conditional place at the university to demonstrate that they hold funds to cover tuition fees, plus at least £12,900 a year for living costs. The university refuses to take into account projected earnings from students who plan to carry out paid work during their course and has only one means-tested scholarship available.

Legal papers submitted by Damien Shannon, 26, who was barred from taking up a place that he won to study economic history because he did not have access to a total of over £21,000 for fees and living costs, said: "It is my contention that the effect of the financial conditions of entry is to select students on the basis of wealth, and to exclude those not in possession of it. In particular, the requirement for evidence of funds for living costs has a discriminatory effect."

Shannon's claim, which will have its first hearing in February, states it is clear that those without access to capital and savings were being "disproportionately discriminated against" in a breach of their human rights.

St Hugh's, which has filed a defence and refutes the claim, does not deny barring Shannon due to his financial circumstances. However, it will argue that the test of a student's financial health is to ensure that they will be able to complete their courses without suffering financial difficulty and anxiety, according to its lawyers' defence papers.

It claims that the inability to meet the so-called financial guarantee, which was formalised across the university in 2010, does not fall "disproportionately within" the lower socioeconomic groups.

It adds that because the "great majority of courses at the university (including the course to which the claimant applied) are heavily oversubscribed, it is important that those who obtain a place on those courses are financially able to complete them".

St Hugh's, whose alumni include the home secretary, Theresa May, has hired Peter Oldham QC to argue its case in Manchester county court. Counsel's fees at the trial are estimated to reach £25,000 over just two days, with total fees coming to around £60,000, according to documents seen by the Observer.

Friends of Shannon say that should he lose the case and have to pay full costs, it would probably force him to declare himself bankrupt. Hazel Blears, a former Labour cabinet minister who is now chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on social mobility, is backing Shannon, who lives in her Salford, Greater Manchester constituency. She said that the case illustrated the scale of the financial hurdles facing students who want to pursue postgraduate study.

Almost 16,000 fewer British students started postgraduate courses at UK universities in 2011-12 compared with the previous academic year – an 8% drop, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

This month leaders at 11 universities told the Observer of their concerns about the socially divisive impact of rising tuition fees in response to teaching grant cuts and a lack of finance for prospective postgraduate students.

Blears, who has written to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, education secretary Michael Gove and universities minister David Willetts about Shannon's case, has won a parliamentary debate on the issue to be held on Wednesday. She told the Observer: "Oxford university's demands for a guarantee on living costs are deeply unfair. They will price gifted students out of doing these courses and our country will lose out on some really talented individuals.

"It is ludicrous that a student deemed to be of sufficient academic merit is deemed incapable of budgeting to ensure they have enough money to live on. Even in an expensive city like Oxford, a student can live on far less than £13,000 a year with careful budgeting. In any case, living costs should be a student's personal responsibility and many get part-time jobs to help make ends meet."

Shannon was awarded a place to read for an MSc in economic and social history at Oxford last March by the university, but was told it was conditional on meeting the college's academic and financial requirements.

He reached the college's academic target after attaining a 2:1 degree from the Open University, but was also asked to prove to the college's satisfaction that he had "resources totalling £21,082" before he could commence study.

He successfully applied to the Co-operative Bank for a professional career development loan of £10,000 which would cover costs of "both the college and university fees, and a modest contribution to living expenses".

However the legal claim by Shannon, who says he is estranged from his mother, who is a bankrupt, and does not know the identity of his father, so is unable to rely on parental help, says: "That still left the financial guarantee unsatisfied, since I was not in possession of the necessary evidence to meet the living costs stipulated by the college."

The claim adds: "For me, the effect of the financial guarantee for living costs is to render the right of access to education at the university illusory, and thus to deny the very essence of that right".

A spokesman for St Hugh's said: "The requirement that postgraduate students provide a financial guarantee in order to take up their course place at the University of Oxford is made clear to potential applicants. The university and college have both made fundraising for postgraduate scholarships a key priority."

A university spokesman said: "Oxford has been vocal about its wish that postgraduate admissions should be truly needs-blind, and works very hard to make progress towards this aim, both by fundraising for postgraduate support and lobbying the UK government to put in place measures to ensure that postgraduates, like undergraduates, have access to loans that ensure postgraduate study is a possibility for all."

Magda Hassan
01-20-2013, 02:24 PM
It should be illegal to discriminate on grounds of income. It is totally bizarre to be denied an education because of the lack of it. You shouldn't be able to buy your way in or out of any thing. Education should be purely merit based and available for all.

Peter Lemkin
01-20-2013, 03:10 PM
It should be illegal to discriminate on grounds of income. It is totally bizarre to be denied an education because of the lack of it. You shouldn't be able to buy your way in or out of any thing. Education should be purely merit based and available for all.

Wow! Sound like a 'pinko' to me :pinkelephant: Its almost the exact same thing in the USA now. Most affirmative action rules and laws have been removed by the Universities and/or Courts; the 'Big Name' Universities still look at your pedigree and daddy's bank account along with your grades.....perhaps BEFORE your grades; a 'donation' from a wealthy family still gets very bad students into the Ivy League schools; many fields that benefit the People and the Planet, but not the Elites or Corporations are no longer funded with fellowships, scholarships or other financial help - or it has GREATLY been reduced. Etc. Besides, they also test for likely obedience to authority [within and AFTER university] along with educational excellence or ability. Such is usually done in the personal interviews. I remember these questions and have heard the tales of others. You won't get into most Medical Schools, for example, if your reason for wanting to be a doctor is to help the afflicted - less so if you mention the poor or preventative or Public Health. Ditto Law School if you say you plan on being a legal advisor for those lowest in the system, the exploited, the poor, prisoners. Etc.....

Jan Klimkowski
01-27-2013, 12:42 PM

1,000 postgraduates a year 'too poor' to take up Oxford place

University's 'wealth test' said to discourage up to 15% of successful candidates as legal and political row grows

Daniel Boffey, policy editor
The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/26/postgraduates-poor-oxford-wealth-test), Saturday 26 January 2013 20.10 GMT
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St Hugh's College is at the centre of a legal case over Oxford's insistence on a 'financial guarantee' from postgraduates. Photograph: Stanley Hare/Alamy

About 1,000 students a year turn down a postgraduate place won at Oxford on academic merit because of the financial demands of study there, university figures suggest. This amounts to 15% of the 7,500 students offered a place, according to the admissions office.

The figure has emerged after the outcry last week over the case of Damien Shannon, 26, who is suing St Hugh's College for "selecting by wealth".

Oxford demands that students who meet its academic targets for study must also prove that they have liquid assets to cover fees, which can reach £41,000, plus £12,900 in living costs. Students cannot factor in future earnings from evening or weekend work under a policy formalised across the university in 2010. There is also only one university means-tested scholarship to allow poorer students the chance of a postgraduate education.

St Hugh's denies that it discriminates against those from lower-income backgrounds or that it has contravened Shannon's "human right" to an education by demanding that he show he had access to £21,000 for fees and living costs for his economic and social history course.

St Hugh's claims in its defence that the so-called financial guarantee is enforced to ensure students will be able to complete their courses without suffering financial difficulty and anxiety.

But the case, revealed in the Observer, has caused an outcry within the academic world and beyond. Dr Alex Flynn, a former St Hugh's student and now a lecturer in international development at the University of East Anglia, has shared a letter he has written to the college's principal to tell her of his "dismay".

He wrote: "I was brought up in Manchester like Mr Shannon and had I been required to provide assurances that I had access to a total of over £20,000 for fees and living costs, I would not have been able to satisfy them. Consequently, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to study at Oxford.

"My career in academia at present has been underpinned by the education I received at St Hugh's and it is lamentable that St Hugh's is even being accused of following a policy that amounts to clear financial discrimination."

Last week parliament debated Shannon's legal case, which has received the backing of former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears, MP for Salford, where Shannon lives. She said the university's demands were "unfair and shortsighted" because they blocked talented students from poor backgrounds.

She said the amount of money the university demanded students have access to bore no relation to the real costs of study. She added: "I know that work has been done over the last few years to try to widen access to undergraduate degrees, but postgraduate qualifications are becoming increasingly expected if people are to [gain] access to some of our professions. That is why I am so exercised about this situation."

Responding in the Commons, the universities minister David Willetts would not comment on the case but said he was aware of the wider social mobility issue in postgraduate study. He said: "I fully understand that we cannot afford the sheer waste of talent if people who can benefit from any level of education do not participate. As well as the fairness argument, there is an efficiency argument, and when fairness and efficiency point the same way it leads to a clear recognition on both sides of the House of what must be done."

Blears has written to Oxford to ask that some of a total of £30m donated to the university for postgraduates in the last year should go to students on a means-tested basis. A spokesman for the university said it was "open minded" but that much of the money was already committed. A first hearing of Shannon's case will be heard next month.

Magda Hassan
01-27-2013, 12:53 PM
What a stupid society that turns away smart capable people for dumb rich people.

Jan Klimkowski
01-27-2013, 01:01 PM
What a stupid society that turns away smart capable people for dumb rich people.

Britain is still essentially a class-based society.

Social mobility is only tolerated when working class innate intelligence makes money for upper class inbred stupidity.

Magda Hassan
01-27-2013, 02:06 PM
What a stupid society that turns away smart capable people for dumb rich people.

Britain is still essentially a class-based society.

Social mobility is only tolerated when working class innate intelligence makes money for upper class inbred stupidity.

All the more reason to get rid of the useless parasites.

Peter Lemkin
01-27-2013, 05:58 PM
I don't disagree about the UK, but the USA is no better now. The system is slightly different, but has the same effect and for the same purpose/intentions of those who make the rules. Once FREE city and Public Universities NOW have HIGH tuition rates - and rising quickly. Ivy League universities cost two arms, one leg and one gonad to attend if your parents aren't adding a wing to the library or museum. Scholarships and other programs to help fund an education, such as graduate students teaching undergraduates [and other programs] are all but gone unless you are working toward being in the Warfare-Industrial-Intelligence-Bankster-Complex.....other fields are NOT funded. I experienced this myself and can speak volumes and show proof on this. Since I was a graduate student it has gotten worse year by year and is now a non-system, as it was designed to be. You either are 'with the program of the National Security State' or you don't get funding, help or even loans [onerous as they are]. Wanna learn to build bombs to kill et al...we'll pay your way 100% with scholarships, internships and other perks, but....Peace studies, Public Health,Environment, Liberal Arts, etc....go **** yourself!, and your chances of funding!....you're on your own...and very likely a 'terrorist', or will develop inti one, the way we define it.

Magda Hassan
01-28-2013, 02:46 AM
Universities are profit centres and to get ahead you have to play the game. Write publishable rubbish. Pass poor students. Get quick and dirty grants. Be a sycophant to power.

Don't whatever you do join the union and fight for the idea of education as a public good, or for a living wage for students and improved wages and conditions and less stress for staff or for adequate funding and support for Universities and education more generally.

Years later when you have made it up the greasy pole of academia the fact that you are now a manipulative, bullying, deceitful, dictatorial and socially useless person but a well remunerated adjunct of business and profit will have been a small price to pay for your success.

More here:

Peter Lemkin
01-28-2013, 07:15 AM
I can only speak for the American education system, having been in it for a looooooong time. In my lifetime, I saw it change for the worse before my eyes. I went to an unusually great and progressive high school. Today, many of the teachers I had would today be fired [or never hired] for the progressive books they suggested and had us read [1984, Brave New World, Clockwork Orange, All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men...and on and on and on. Not all were, but generally, they were progressive socially and politically; open to the students expressing their own ideas and questioning everything. Today, most high schools - all schools - want cloned yes boys and girls and not to question the system. I learned about unions, socialists, the true story of the Great Depression and even some of the horrible truth of those outside of the Axis Powers who were pro-Axis during WW2 in history classes....you'll not find much of that today - rare even at university level now. Also, when I went to University a broad liberal education was encouraged no matter what your area of concentration...so even someone taking e.g. chemistry for a major was expected and often had to take a language, several liberal arts classes each semester etc. Now, most universities discourage this and have the students concentrate only in their field and closely related fields. Again, turning out robots with no idea about the rest of the world and taught not to question the orthodoxy of the field they are in. Student activism was very much alive and well when I was an undergraduate!....it had even changed toward less activism by the time I was in graduate school and now is kept at a very low level and dealt with with a very heavy hand by the university police and authorities when it bubbles up again....the pepper spraying incident and what happened on other university campuses vis-a-vis Occupy good examples. The school system has changed from one of education to one of indoctrination and training only what is needed for worker bees, sadly. Now, that it is also so much more expensive to go to school is a way to keep the riff-raff out and also to control the students....as someone indebted is much less likely to protest, as they might loose their degree but still be stuck with the debt!

Jan Klimkowski
02-16-2013, 06:54 PM
Sniff sniff.

The stench of lies and hypocrisy.

Oxford University apologises after false claim in 'selection by wealth' battle

University's director of graduate admissions admits it was wrong to say other institutions employ a postgraduate 'wealth test'

Daniel Boffey, policy editor
The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/feb/16/oxford-university-apologises-false-claim-admissions-court-battle), Saturday 16 February 2013 15.24 GMT
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The front of St Hughs College Oxford
St Hugh’s College, Oxford, is fighting a human rights claim from prospective student Damien Shannon. Photograph: Stanley Hare/Alamy

The director of graduate admissions at Oxford University has had to apologise in court to a student suing one of its colleges for "selecting by wealth" after offering inaccurate evidence.

Jane Elizabeth Sherwood told a court hearing she had been wrong to claim that other universities had the same admission practices. In written evidence, she apologised to the court and to Damien Shannon, 26, who is suing St Hugh's College, Oxford, for only admitting students able to show they have money to meet both its fees and £12,900 in living costs.

As the Observer revealed last month, Shannon claims that those without easy access to capital and savings are being "disproportionately discriminated against" by this so-called financial guarantee, in breach of their human rights.

The university as a whole does not take into account money earned through part-time work when it judges whether a student has the means to study in Oxford. It also only has one university-wide scholarship that is means-tested, according to its own defence papers.

St Hugh's is fighting Shannon's legal claim and Sherwood had told Manchester county court that other universities, including Exeter, set similar financial guarantees. In further evidence heard in the court on Friday, Sherwood admitted this was inaccurate. Her written apology said: "The University of Exeter does not require a financial guarantee from postgraduate offer holders. Nor does Goldsmith's College, although it does require a deposit in respect of fees for certain courses, eg the MA in film-making."

Shannon told the Observer: "The university's director of graduate admissions attempted to justify the financial selection policy by claiming, falsely, that two other universities were operating an equivalent policy. This was done in spite of my having pointed out in my previous submissions to the court that the claim was not true – nevertheless, it was repeated, although eventually withdrawn. The claim was rightly withdrawn and an apology was issued to both myself and to the court, and of course I accept the apology entirely."

At a first hearing of Shannon's case on Friday, judgment was reserved over whether the student's human rights were breached when St Hugh's turned him down on financial grounds after he had met their academic requirements. Judge Armitage QC said he would return to Manchester county court with a judgment at a unspecified future date.

Shannon alleged that his place on the economic and social history course was withdrawn due to the "arbitrary figure" the college had set. The university says a guarantee was required to ensure postgraduate students' fees and living costs were covered throughout the course.

Magda Hassan
02-19-2013, 09:32 AM
The Corporate Reform of Public Schools
Educational Eugenics

Teachers and students are having a rough time in the United States—and not just because they are in danger of being murdered in their classrooms. Public education itself is under attack, fueled by foundation dollars, government policies and media hype. The problem isn’t international rankings, teacher pensions, or outdated theories. These are smokescreens. The enemies of American education hate it because it is public-powered, union-friendly, and people-centered. Public education doesn’t exist to churn out cheap crap so someone can make a buck. At its best, it teaches tolerance, promotes democratic values, and invests in the potential of each and every one of its students. And that’s its main problem. That’s why Democrats and Republicans alike are hell-bent on transforming our schools into a tyrannical instrument of corporate power through increased standardization of curricula, instruction, and assessments. Their goal is to manufacture “proficient” students and “distinguished” teachers—an educational master race judged by objective and scientific criteria. The end result of such technocratic pedagogy is nothing less than a eugenics of the mind.
The current mechanistic view of teaching and learning follows a model invented by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the early twentieth century. Mirroring the worldview of his big-business clientele, Taylor viewed working people with contempt. “The science of handling pig-iron is so great,” he a textbook of scientific management.” (http://books.google.com/books?id=HA69FhrjB4kC&pg=RA2-PA49&lpg=RA2-PA49&dq=) The way the Nazis saw it, the Holocaust wasn’t destructive but productive. They were creating a master race through their own psychopathic form of quality control. Ford automobile plants operated on the same principles. A common destination links assembly-line murder and manufacture: a utopian drive toward standardization.
Eugenicists want an end to difference and plurality. They crave the uniform. Sameness implies security—from self-doubt and from the conflicts that not only allow for personal growth but also for a true democracy. The educational system they’re creating resembles Taylorism in every way except it manages more than labor—it engineers the sense of mind and self. The way to save the public schools—which politicians insist need to be saved while simultaneously defunding public education at every opportunity—is to make sure everyone is teaching and learning the same things the same way. Our ultimate goal as human beings should be to think like everybody else.
In the eyes of many education policymakers, school has come to be nothing more than job training. Rather than provide young citizens with the cognitive abilities required to become empowered members of a democracy, educators must simply help students “succeed” in the “real world” bygiving them marketable skills. What we think about, then, is what the market wants us to think about. Anything that lies outside the interests of the market at any given moment should be cut or marginalized out of the mainstream curriculum.
They call this efficiency. But it’s not education. It’s a system that doesn’t look at children as human beings that need to be nurtured—that have individual voices and learning styles. Eugenics of the mind seeks to recreate individual people into a master race of cheerful robots, managed and programmed with the right amount of information to make them efficient and docile enough for their future masters.
One of the first things they teach you in college education classes is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences: the linguistic, the mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and so on. People do not learn the same way and the various kinds of intelligence are not evenly distributed in most students. Nevertheless, this educational system defines intelligence in the narrowest way—and then demands that everyone “master” often arbitrary accumulations of facts and skills by scoring a certain percentage on a test. If they don’t, federal funding will be withheld.
Why students need to be examined in some things and not in others remains mysterious. It’s not simply to provide students with marketable skills. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce has predicted that only 5 percent of entry-level workers will need to be proficient in algebra (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) in the next decade. Yet students in Pennsylvania must pass an algebra exam for graduation.
What makes algebra attractive is not its usefulness to students but rather that one’s knowledge of it can be easily quantified on an exam. That’s the rotten core of our common standards (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/21/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_blog.html)—education based on rote-memory computations that can be easily evaluated. Look carefully and you will find little encouragement to teach critical thinking, debate, or creativity. You can’t fit that on a bubble sheet—and that’s where the money is.
The test-creating/scoring industry generates profits of 2.7 billion dollars a year. Of course the claims of test-makers and policymakers that tests give us reliable information about student learning are highly questionable. Just ask students some questions from last year’s exams and see how much they’ve forgotten. These tests don’t prove someone has learned something but simply reflect one’s ability to do well on a particular test at that moment.
As if in answer to this objection, “assessment instruments” like the SAT as well as state graduation exams have begun to include sections devoted to student writing. Recently the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania spent two hundred million dollars (http://concernedblackparents.blogspot.com/2009/05/pa-naacp-branches-oppose-proposed-state.html) developing its new Keystone Exams, a requirement for graduation. The money went into the pocket of Minnesota’s Data Recognition Corporation (http://www.citypages.com/2011-02-23/news/inside-the-multimillion-dollar-essay-scoring-business/full/). It’s clear from recent press about DRC that exams are anything but objectively and scientifically scored there. Instead, an army of 20-something temps with no teaching or writing experience haphazardly evaluates the exams, using absurdly vague rubrics like: “a good essay includes good focus, good organization, good language skills, good grammar,” and so forth. Naturally the scorers cannot seem to agree on how one defines “good.” Former scorers report they were pressured to average out the numbers by arbitrarily assigning low or high scores in order to generate a nice bell curve.
Educational eugenicists also apply such “scientific” precision to assessing teachers, in an attempt to deskill and disempower educators, and limit their ability to teach for change. Instead of being inquisitive and imaginative agents of intellectual and social growth, teachers are compelled to submit themselves, like the students, to the gods of standardization and efficiency. Obama and Duncan demand that states wishing to pick up sparse federal funds must evaluate teachers in new ways—you guessed it: scientifically and objectively. Enter Charlotte Danielson and her Framework for Teaching (FFT), the darling of the Gates Foundation and many a state department of education. The FFT depicts teaching as a mechanical method of ensuring students “learn the standards.” All educators are evaluated by the same method, despite their often widely varying tasks, student constituencies, subject matter, and funding. What teachers know about their profession counts as nothing. Ms. Danielson, the ex-economist from Princeton with only nebulous teaching credentials, has decided (in keeping with the best principles of scientific management) that experts with no long-standing classroom experience know better than the teachers who do the educating.
At best, some of her teacher standards are self-evident to anyone who’s lasted for more than two or three years (“Teachers should provide clear explanations of content”). At worst some are possibly illegal (her inclusion of volunteering as a criterion of teacher performance most likely violates the Fair Labor Standards Act). The rest are laughably subjective or ridiculously unrealistic. The rubric states a distinguished teacher “makes a thoughtful and accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness.” It does not clarify, however, what “thoughtful” and “accurate” mean. Other standards are equally murky. One of Danielson’s criteria for “distinguished” educators states that: “All students are cognitively engaged.” Another: “Students appear to have internalized these expectations.” What Ms. Danielson does not explain, however, is how exactly does an administrator attain objective information about students’ states of consciousness? And if they are not cognitively engaged, the rubric implies, it must be the teacher’s fault, not students’ own willingness to be distracted. In the FFT students have no independent will of their own. Even when they take the initiative the “distinguished” teacher gets the credit. Kids apparently play no part in the process of their own education. But that’s the point of educational eugenics. The system creates “superior” students in its own likeness—shallow, narrowly focused, distracted, competitive, amoral, and eager to appease authority. Likewise teachers follow the authoritative standards, jettison spontaneity, and submerge their individual teaching styles in order to conform to a common core. This is the master race of minds currently being engineered by the forces of corporate reform.
We must not forget that the sole purpose of machines is to make somebody’s life easier through unending servitude. It is time to not just rage against “teaching to the test” in faculty rooms but defy it openly by continuing (as many teachers do) to encourage and enact real education—showing children how to think creatively, critically and divergently, helping them to make meaning of their lives, and enabling them to problem-solve in a world that desperately needs compassionate and innovative questions and answers. The power belongs in the hands of teachers and learners, not corporations. The time to take it back is now.
Mark Graham is a high school teacher in the Lehigh Valley. He’s books include: How Islam Created the Modern World (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1590080432/counterpunchmaga) and Afghanistan in the Cinema (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0252077121/counterpunchmaga).

Magda Hassan
02-19-2013, 09:34 AM