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Not so long ago in a country far away lived an ordinary librarian who did something quite heroic. Alia ran the library in Basra, a city in Southern Iraq, and she loved her books dearly.
Two years ago, in advance of the American invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, Alia feared that looting and the fires of war would destroy her beloved books. So she started moving the collection to safety. Book by book, she brought them home where she kept them on windowsills, in cupboards and stacked on the floor. Sure enough, after many of the books had been removed; the Basra library burned.
Her story so caught the imagination or people here that two writers of children’s books set her story to paper in an effort to put a human face on the inhuman ravages of war.
Shaila Dewan, reporter for The New York Times
Jeanette Winter, children’s book author and illustrator. Her latest book is “The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq.”
Mark Alan Stamaty, political cartoonist and author of “Alia’s Mission”
Jane Cutler, children’s book author of “The Cello of Mr. O.”
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It was a heart-wrenching crime: A 10-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet during a gang fight outside a Bronx church. 11 months later, no one had been charged with her death. One reputed gang member was released from jail after pleading guilty to trespassing, and the alleged killer had reportedly fled to Mexico.
Now, though, the Bronx District Attorney is resurrecting the case using a tool unique to post-9/11 America: a state anti-terrorism law. The same tactic was tried in North Carolina where prosecutors went after methamphetamine makers claiming they were producing chemical weapons. While some hail these new additions to the legal toolbox — other say they invite the abuse of power. The terrorist on the street where you live.
Lewis Alperin, New York attorney representing one of several alleged Bronx gang members who have been charged with terrorism
Jerry Wilson, district attorney in Boone, North Carolina, who tried unsuccessfully to charge methamphetamine producers under the state’s anti-terrorism statute
Mark Sidel, associate law professor at University of Iowa and the author of “More Secure, Less Free? Antiterrorism Policy and Civil Liberties After September 11.”