From the Stacks: October 6, 2006

| October 2006

Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.

4strugglemag publishes essays, poetry, and artwork from 'the hearts and minds of North American political prisoners and their friends.' Edited by Jaan Laaman, an anti-capitalist activist who has been imprisoned for more than 20 years, the zine is primarily an online publication, with print copies free to prisoners without Internet access. The seventh issue focuses on inmates in the United States, with reports on Black Panthers imprisoned as early as the 1970s and environmental activists fighting current charges. In one essay, a death-row inmate urges others to nonviolently protest the death penalty by refusing to walk to their own executions. There is also a damning list of statistics about prisons and prisoners in Texas. -- Danielle Maestretti

The International Rivers Network is an organization that 'protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them,' focusing heavily on the problem of dams. The recently arrived August issue of their newsletter, World Rivers Review, dives into Africa. Environmental destruction, displaced people, economic plight, and famine are just some of the problems exacerbated by dam building throughout the continent. And China, currently pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into dam construction in Africa, isn't helping. Concerned African voices, however, offer some hope. In the words of one man from Togo: 'I want to see independence from external influences, and have Africans really profit from Africa's resources.' -- Elizabeth Oliver

Yoga publications can run the risk of redundancy, over-enthusiasm, or even self-indulgence. Yoga + Joyful Living, however, falls into none of these traps. The November/December issue purveys the customary information on active meditation, the benefits of various poses, and the unity of consciousness and the universe, yet none of the pieces on these topics are presented in a predictable or mundane manner. Also included in this issue are edgy articles about society and the environment, such as Phil Scott's '8 Things Every Good Citizen Should Know About Energy Farming,' which examines the potential of biofuel farms. In 'You and Your Garbage (and Me and Mine),' Elizabeth Royte offers realistic tips for reducing waste. Some may remember Yoga + as Yoga International; the magazine changed its title in late summer. -- Suzanne Lindgren

It looks so unassuming, the Fall issue of Open City, with its four-color scheme and simple design. One could hardly believe that the pages within are comprised of engaging stories and riveting words. In perusing it, readers may laugh out loud at a comic tale or gape at a nonfiction account of a horrific experience. In a hilarious and self-reflective tribute to error ('Typochondria'), Priscilla Becker discusses the horror of sending her poems off to respected publications such as Open City, only to have them maimed in one form or another. This issue (No. 22) carries a novel layout -- the fiction runs one way while the nonfiction comes from the other direction, upside down. The two genres meet about two-thirds of the way through, with the fiction taking the greater portion, adding another layer to the playful qualities of the book. -- Suzanne Lindgren

The September/October issue of The Humanist, a bimonthly magazine of philosophical and social criticism, features 'Soldier Girl? Not every Tamil Teen Wants to be a Tiger.' The article by James A. Mitchell examines the life of a young girl trained at the age of 11 to fight for the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and shows her struggle to live as a child. Mitchell explains that with the failure of the 2002 ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka, young Tamil girls are increasingly being recruited and trained to fight. The conflict, Mitchell says, has become a Children's War, one that this girl wants to see end. 'We need peace, not fighting,' she says. -- Jenna Fisher

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