Julie L. Kessler
lawyer traveler writer


Death with dignity

Nov. 19, 2014

My article “The basic right to die with dignity” appeared in today’s edition of The L.A. Daily Journal and The S.F. Daily Journal. This article discussed the Pope’s recent comments to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, comments by the Vatican’s most senior bioethics officials, the recent physician-assisted death with dignity case of 29-year-old Californian Brittany Maynard in Oregon (where it is legal), and Monday’s unanimous passage of California’s first resolution supporting dying with dignity by the West Hollywood City Council. Hopefully this passage in West Hollywood will result in a catalyst for statewide legislation that will guaranty a most basic right – to die with dignity – if one is faced with a terminal illness.


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On safari in Kenya, safe from Ebola and reveling in nature’s splendor

Nov. 15, 2014

Below is the link for my article on Kenya which appeared in today’s edition of The Los Angeles Times, Sunday Travel Section. It appears both in print and on-line with several of my original photographs. Happy reading.


Ebola’s Impact on East African Safari Industry

Nov. 13, 2014

My article on Ebola’s impact on the East African safari industry will appear in The Los Angeles Times Travel Section this coming Sunday, November 16, 2014. The article will cover my recent travel to Kenya.

The tribal divide – protecting women against FGM

Nov. 7, 2014

My article “Despite Progress, challenges remain in fight to end FGM” appeared in today’s edition of The L.A. Daily Journal and The S.F. Daily Journal.


The article covered my interview two weeks ago in Kenya of Naomi S., a 23-year-old Maasai woman who was a victim, at age 11, of female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite that FGM is now illegal in Kenya – since 2011 – the rate of FGM among Maasai women is 73 percent. Over 125 million women have been victims of FGM in the 29 countries in which it is concentrated.


A few days after I left Kenya, on Oct. 30, UN chief Ban Ki-moon launched a global campaign to end “within our generation,” the often deadly FGM. Here’s hoping.


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Interview of a lifetime

Nov. 3, 2014

While in Kenya last week I had the interview of a lifetime. I was able to interview a 23-year-old Masai victim of female genital mutilation (FGM), which occurred in her village when she was 11. She is adamant that her three-year-old daughter will not suffer the same ordeal she did despite family and village pressure in the Masai Mara region.


Progress. One woman at a time.


I am finishing up an article on FGM and this woman’s incredible story, which shall appear next week in The L.A. Daily Journal and The S.F. Daily Journal.

Potential China movie deal

Nov. 3, 2014

While in East Africa last week on assignment, I was informed by my publisher that my book Fifty-Fifty is currently under consideration for a movie deal in China. Now THAT would be something.

The NFL and Ravens debacle

Sep. 15, 2014

My article on the NFL/Ravens morass and morality clauses in talent contracts will appear in tomorrow’s edition of The Los Angeles Daily Journal.


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Lingering in Laos: Mind and spirit in harmony

Sep. 14, 2014

Below is the link to my article on Laos and a selection of photographs which appeared in The L.A. Times, Sunday Travel Section. Happy reading and Bon voyage:


Travel article on Laos to appear in The Los Angeles Times

Sep. 10, 2014

My travel article on Laos will appear in the September 14, 2014 edition of The Los Angeles Times, Sunday Travel Section. It will cover my recent journey to the world heritage city of Luang Prabang and the capital of Vientiane and will include a selection of the photographs taken there. Happy reading and Bon Voyage.

Beijing International Book Festival 2014

Aug. 16, 2014

I am pleased to report that my book Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight will be on offer to Chinese publishers at the Beijing International Book Festival taking place in Beijing at the end of August.

Cambodia’s and California’s awful traffic…of humans

Jul. 17, 2014

My article entitled “Cambodia’s and California’s awful traffic…of humans” appeared in today’s edition of The L.A. Daily Journal and The S.F. Daily Journal. The stories and statistics are shocking, human trafficking is a $150 billion annual industry. Far more in revenue than IBM and Microsoft. Combined.


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Health care in Cambodia

Jul. 10, 2014

I’m currently traveling in Asia on a writing assignment. My article “The hopeful cadence of Cambodia’s health care struggle” appeared in the Los Angeles Daily Journal yesterday, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. If you are a subscriber to the LADJ, you may wish to have a look at it. And remind yourself of how fortunate we in the U.S. are, whatever the state of the health care debate is right now.


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The divorce of free speech from community standards

Jun. 19, 2014

My article “Free speech and community standards” appeared in today’s edition of The LA Daily Journal. The article discussed the recent hosting by Facebook of a Photoshopped image of Adolph Hitler in bed with Shoah victim Anne Frank, in what appears to be a post-coital embrace. Facebook initially refused to remove the image stating that it “reviewed the photo reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it did not violate its Community Standards.”




The image has since been removed. Apparently, the Community Standards of the audience are higher that the standards of Facebook administrators. Shame on Facebook.


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The speech that never was

Jun. 4, 2014

My article “The speech that never was” appeared in today’s edition of The LA Daily Journal. This article discussed the disinvitation of intellectual heavy hitters Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christine Lagarde, Robert Birgeneau and Condoleeza Rice from delivering commencement speeches at Brandeis, Smith, Haverford and Rutgers, respectively. It reflected on the increasing and frightening lack of tolerance on university campus’ today, aided and abetted by social media. The article also delivered a slightly tongue-in-cheek commencement address of my own to the 2014 graduates.


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The new normal of Shoot first – ask questions later

May 30, 2014

My article “Shoot first – ask questions later” appeared in today’s edition of The LA Daily Journal. The article discussed the recent Isla Vista mass murders, the NRA’s outrageous unofficial slogan that “Guns don’t kill, people do,” and the incredible sadness of mourning those victims instead of honoring over the Memorial Day weekend those fallen soldiers who fought to preserve our freedoms. The new normal.


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The rape myth

May 8, 2014

My article "The ‘rape myth’: alive and well?" appeared in yesterday’s edition of The LA  Daily Journal. This article discussed in detail the underlying Montana rape case in which a 47-year-old teacher raped a 14-year-old student multiple times, then was convicted and sentenced to just 30 days in jail, in contravention of Montana’s sentencing guidelines. The judge in that case, G. Todd Baugh, also made several outrageous comments from the bench, including that the 14-year-old victim was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and that the victim was “older that her chronological age,” both of which go against the foundation of statutory rape laws. Last week the Montana Supreme Court decided the appeal and overturned the 30-day sentence and ordered the rapist to be resentenced by a different judge. Baugh is retiring at the end of the year.


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More speech, not less

Apr. 16, 2014

My article “More speech, not less” appeared in today’s edition of The L.A. Daily Journal. The article discussed at length the shocking “disinvitation” by Brandeis University of Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Muslim turned Athiest, feminist and former Dutch Parliament member, who was originally invited to speak at its commencement. That an American university with a history such as Brandeis – a school that was founded as a direct result of anti-Semitism prevalent in this country post WWII – would cave to the pressure of a vocal few who were disinterested in the free exchange of ideas and theories was a stunning display of total disregard of the freedom of speech tenets so central to our notions of democracy. If the exchange of ideas and critical thinking don’t occur at universities, then where should they? If not then, when?


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The 2014 L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC

Apr. 9, 2014

The 2014 L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC.

A very, very busy weekend at The L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC. Perfect weather, lots of books sold, and many interesting people. Especially satisfying were previous readers of Fifty-Fifty who stopped by the booth to tell Julie how much they enjoyed reading it. Thanks to The L.A. Times for their continuing support.


A bad weekend for air travel and safety

Mar. 12, 2014

My article “Stolen passport use exposes lax security” appears in today’s edition of The LA Daily Journal. This article discusses the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the issues surrounding the two passengers traveling on stolen passports, the problems of the lax passport security in general  in Malaysia and several other Asian nations, and the thriving black market for stolen passports. It also notes that only the U.S., Britain and the United Arab Emirates are regular users of Interpol’s stolen passport database.


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It’s a date: your physician and big pharma

Feb. 27, 2014

My article entitled “Its a date: your doctor, big pharmaceuticals” appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Los Angeles Daily Journal.  In it I discussed the recent trend of physician-speakers being paid by big pharmas to impart vital information to other physicians respecting new technologies, new drugs, new devices, new indications for old devices and new safety issues. These meetings often occur in restaurants during the dinner hour. The Food & Drug Administration tightly controls what information can be disseminated to physicians and pharmas can only transmit such FDA-approved information. Frankly, I would far prefer that physicians get their data from similar trained colleagues in a relaxed setting than from some sales rep interrupting the physician during busy patient appointment hours. So what if the physician-speaker is being paid? That does not make him or her less of a scientist, or a professional. It is only means that the physician-speaker is being paid for his or her time; basically like everyone else. Who cares where such vital information is obtained. Is a hospital cafeteria with largely lousy food really so superior a learning environment to a relaxed restaurant setting over a decent meal? While big pharmas (and their shareholders) have millions on the table, our physicians have our health and very lives at stake.


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