March 30, 2005
Title IX Strengthened by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a whistleblower who faces retaliation for pointing out Title IX inequaties can file a federal lawsuit to rectify the situation. The majority ruled that without enforcement, Title IX is worthless and whistleblowers - regardless of gender - provide the teeth behind the law.
More information from WaPo:
"High Court Supports Title IX Protection: Law Now Covers Whistle-Blowers," by Charles Lane
A Republican I Agree With (on some things)
Former Senator and Former Ambassador to the UN John Danforth wrote an op ed in today's NYT titled "In the Name of Politics." He argues that the Republican party has been highjacked by the Christian right.
I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.I completely agree with this part of his statement. Of course, the part I don't agree with is the idea that the Republican Party or a "free economy" is the way to create a better United States. I believe in society helping its poorest members, recognizing that healthcare and education are a birth right, and accepting responsibility for governing the commons rather than leaving it in the hands of money-hungry businessmen.
The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.
March 28, 2005
Should Pharmacists' Religious Beliefs Obstruct Access to Medication?
WaPo fronts an article by Rob Stein, "Pharmacists' Rights at Front of New Debate: Because of Beliefs, Some Refuse To Fill Birth Control Prescriptions." Apparently, across the country some pharmacists have decided that their personal religious beliefs have declared birth control a form of abortion, and therefore refuse to dispense it. Some even refuse to transfer the prescription to a pharmacy that will fulfill its obligations.
Here's the thing: I don't go to a faith healer for my medical problems. I expect my medical services to be delivered by people who leave their personal beliefs at the door when they serve me. That's why I dislike going to religious hospitals and why its difficult for me to be unbiased about this issue. As a woman, I abhor the notion that anyone has the right to deny me my reproductive rights.
I experienced the need for the morning after pill when I was unemployed and uninsured. Thankfully, I was living in LA at the time and was able to find a pharmacist in my area who would give me a prescription (thanks to the more women-friendly laws of California, you can get the morning after pill there without a prescription). The pharmacist provided me with plenty of information on the drug. I couldn't imagine needing that medication and being denied by a judgmental pharmacist.
Furthermore, denying birth control is a slap in the face to all women. I can't tell you how amazing it is to have less severe menstrual cramps and less bleeding - two amazing aspects of being on birth control. Those effects have nothing to do with whether or not I'm sexually active. I can't believe people believe they have the right to place their moral judgments on my body and my access to legal medication.
I am saddened by the state of this country. The US Government is not only denying access to reproductive care around the world, we're being denied basic access within our country.
March 26, 2005
Interesting Articles on the Schiavo Case
Usually, I turn away from anything to do with the Terry Schiavo court battle and drama over her emminent death. I believe it is a personal, family tragedy that had already been fully litigated before Congress stepped in to create a United States Law that only applies to one individual and her family. Nevertheless, something about Andrew Rice's description of today's frontpage coverage of the case in Slate's Today's Papers, grabbed my attention.
Although the articles I read today allow me to have a lot more sympathy for the Schindler family (despite the fact that her father tried to use the "Holocaust victim look-a-like" card recently in interviews), I believe ultimately its in Ms. Schiavo's best interest to let her go in peace.
In "Behind Life-and-Death Fight, a Rift That Began Years Ago," Abby Goodnough explains the history of the clash between Michael Schiavo and Robert and Mary Schindler. Lynn Waddell and Dennis Blank contributed to the article, which appeared on the cover of today's NYT. The details disturb me - if I were to pass judgement, I would say Mr. Schiavo was a horrible husband and Terry's family should have helped her get away from him, rather than turn a blind eye to the eating disorder that magically turned her from an overweight teenager into an underweight adult. It was probably her eating disorder that made Terry potassium deficient which led to her current, vegetative state.
But really, its not for me to judge. Clearly, I have made some judgements - like most Americans - but in the end, my opinion should not and does not matter.
The LAT fronts, in the Column One feature, "Life or Death: Love's Choice - Two mothers, each acting out of compassion, reach different decisions after their children lapse into vegetative states." by Stephanie Simon. It's a harrowing tale. In my mind, the best part is that neither mother judges the other, or thinks they can pass judgement in the Schiavo case.
Finally, WaPo fronted an analysis of the politics involved. "Schiavo Case Tests Priorities Of GOP," by Shailagh Murray and Mike Allen points out all of the reasons the Republicans were wrong in pushing their special legislation through the House and Senate. This was a clear case of Wag The Dog and Rouse The Base, to get the heat off of The Crook In Chief (aka House Majority Leader Tom DeLay) and spotlight the My Values Belong In Your Personal Life Cred of Mr. I Steal People's Money And Call it Healthcare (aka Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist whose family made its fortune overcharging the government and individuals through their hospital empire) and Mr. I Think I Should Make All American Women's Health Decisions Because of My Moral Superiority (aka Senator Rick Santorum) and Mr. I Need to Make A Name for Myself (aka Florida freshman Senator Mel Martinez).
Terry Schindler Schiavo, I hope you rest in peace.
March 24, 2005
The Tulip Revolution in Krygyzstan
Protestors took over the southern district capital, Batken, on Tuesday. They took over the main government building in the capital, Bishkek, today. The crooked president, Askar Akaev, fled in a helicopter this morning with his family, and is in Kazakhstan.
Interfax Russian News Service re the Fleeing Prez
"Kyrgyz Opposition in Charge, Akayev Vanishes," by Dmitry Solovyov, Reuters, in ABC News Online
Economist Commentary: "A Tulip Revolution"
WaPo Commentary: "Another Post-Soviet Revolt"
March 23, 2005
Happy Birthday to Me
I live in a tree.
I look like a monkey
and I act like one too!
er...not all the time.
Off to the Museum of Science and Industry with mi chavo. Super dorks of the world, unite!
March 22, 2005
Happy World Water Day and "Water for Life" Decade
Today is the annual World Water Day and also begins the UN "Water for Life" Decade.
"People who can turn on a tap and have safe and clean water to drink, to cook with and to bathe in often take it for granted, and yet more than 1 billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to use potentially harmful sources of water," said Dr. Lee Jong-Wook, head of the World Health Organization.from "United Nations Marks World Water Day," by Erica Bulman, Associated Press Writer in the Guardian
also of interest:
UN Water for Life Decade Website
in People's Daily Online (a service of the Chinese Xinhua news
organization), word that 40 Nepali children die everyday from water borne diseases
articles found via UN Wire
Say it Again, New York Times
Mi chavo got annoyed with me this morning when I started screaming at the teevee. I am so angered by the politicization of Terry Schiavo's struggle to die with dignity - and the completely biased reporting in the mainstream media, particularly t.v. news. On the other hand, I completely agree with this commentary from the NYT (which I read in the International Herald Tribune):
Republicans have traditionally championed respect for the delicate balance the founders created. But in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.I completely agree with the political points the NYT makes. I also recognize that for most people, this is more of an emotional issue than a rational one.
I guess I'm particularly sensitive to this case because I've lived through watching a loved one struggling to let go of her earthly coil. My grandmother died after a long and excruciating battle with lung cancer. She knew the end was near and she wanted to go, but doctors were not allowed to give her lethal doses of medication, which would have allowed her to die with dignity. Clearly, every human should be allowed to accept the inevitable and end his or her own life. I find it strange that the same society that awarded "The Sea Inside" the Best Foreign Film Academy Award is the same society whose Congressmen and President created these extraordinary circumstances.
Redaction Used by Justice Dept to Cover Their Ass
In a high level case of CYA (cover your ass), the Justice Department redacted (blacked out) a memo on the treatment of Gitmo detainees for the sole purpose of covering up the conclusions of the memo. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) was quoted in WaPo:
Levin, who had pushed the Justice Department to release a version of the memo that included the new disclosures, yesterday sharply criticized the department's initial handling of it. "As I suspected, the previously withheld information had nothing to do with protecting intelligence sources and methods, and everything to do with protecting the DOD from embarrassment," Levin said.from "Justice Redacted Memo on Detainees: FBI Criticism of Interrogations Was Deleted." by R. Jeffrey Smith in WaPo
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Revolution...
Krgyzstan is still embroiled in a messy fight to oust corrupt politicians and create a true, open democracy.
"It looks more and more like a revolution," said Edil Baisalov, the president of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, the largest election-monitoring organization in the country, in a telephone interview from Bishkek, the capital.From "Demonstrators Gain Ground in Kyrgyzstan" by Christopher Pala in the NYT
March 21, 2005
Democratic Reform Demanded in Kyrgyzstan
According to the LAT and WaPo, protestors are demanding that President Askar Akayev resign in Krgyzstan. The protestors took over a goverment building in Jalal-Abad in early March, lost control of the building on Sunday, re-occupied the building and then took over a police station - freeing political prisoners and setting it on fire.
This poses a slight problem for the USG, since Krgyzstan is one of the many re-fueling stops for the United States' Imperial Army.
"Kyrgyz Protesters Burn a Police Building: Demonstrators venting anger over the results of recent elections, which they call fraudulent, attack the headquarters in a southern city." by David Holley in the LAT
"Protesters in Kyrgyzstan Denounce Ballot Fraud: Police Station Burned; Offices Overrun" by Kadyr Toktogulov, Associated Press in WaPo
found via Today's Papers
March 20, 2005
War Protests - What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!
Forgive me for riffing on a classic anti-war song in my title.
Consider this quote from Robert McFadden's article in the NYT on yesterday's protests:
President Bush did not comment on the protests, which seemed unlikely to have any significant effect on national policy or on the glacial movement of public opinion in America.Charles Duhigg in the LAT was slightly more positive about the protests' effect, while Aamer Madhani with contributions from freelance reporters Gary Gibula, Jody Paige and Sean D. Hamill in the Chicago Tribune echoed the NYT's dismissive viewpoint.
Personally, I am frustrated and desperate. Desperate to participate in strategic action that changes the world. Desperate to get American troops out of Iraq and allow Iraqis - including and especially women - to engage in the process of rebuilding their country. I'd like American military leaders to stop lying on Sunday morning talk shows; stop saying that the only major problem in Afghanistan is poppy production and recognize that the war lords we support are the primary problem. Progressive voices must be taken seriously and we must be part of the decision-making process in the government, in nonprofits, and in corporations around the world. Simply gathering and holding signs and marching clearly aint getting us anywhere.
So what should we do? I don't think Common Cause or MoveOn is the answer. Internet activism is important - up to a point. Personally, I am not interested in holding a house party to support the work of professional activists; I'd rather work through an international, grassroots organization designed to give individual members a voice in local, national, and international action. That's why I joined Women's International League for Peace and Freedom while I was in college; that's why I'm on WILPF's national board as the At Large Membership Represenative, and that's why I'm running for Program Chair on the next national board. In my many years as an activist - I've been involved in the movement at least fifteen years - I have found no other organization that places so much emphasis on understanding the root causes of injustice and working on many levels: from the streets, to city hall, to the US Congress, to the UN to create the world we want to see.
Like most of the progressive world, WILPF suffers from lack of recognition. Not many people realize that the Hague Conference for Peace written about in many history books as an example of first wave feminism created WILPF. Nor do they understand that WILPF is still alive and active in the US and around the world. Some people who know this don't think we're interested in new members. Here's the deal: WILPF, like the world, is not perfect. We've had a lot of success in our 90 year history and we've sparked a lot of feminist, social justice, and anti-war work. The International WILPF's UN office does amazing work to hasten the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security and creating a space for citizen action on nuclear disarmament. The US Section currently has four national campaigns and just voted in two new campaigns for our next three year cycle. We're eager for new members and we love involving people in progressive activism. I urge you to join WILPF, regardless of your gender, because frankly how long do you want to continue to be dismissed by the mainstream news and government as a fringe actor whose political voice can be drowned by grandstanding by Congressmen who believe "a culture of life" has nothing to do with international cooperation and shifting our budgetary priorities from war to societal health and everything to do with denying a person's choice when she chooses death with dignity?
March 18, 2005
Professional Interrogation is the New Torture
Director of the Central Intelligance Agency Porter Goss appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday and happily said that the CIA doesn't torture people now. When asked about previous methods, he declined to answer the question in a public hearing. Apparently, the fact that our government has tortured people is too important to national security for the public to hear. (That, by the way, is the justification for classifying information.)
Right. If you believe that professional interrogation techniques have nothing to do with torture; if you believe rendition (throwing people into foreign jails where there are no anti-torture laws) has nothing to do with torture, then I've got some great swampland to sell you.
"Questions Are Left by C.I.A. Chief on the Use of Torture," by Douglas Jehl in the NYT
March 17, 2005
Slavery Exists and Its Not Ending Anytime Soon
According to Anti-Slavery International and the Christian Science Monitor, "slavery is widespread across the Sahel Desert region, in countries that include Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, and Sudan....there are at least 43,000 slaves still in Niger."
A Tuareg tribal chief, Arissal Ag Amdague, was supposed to release more than 7,000 slaves last Saturday. Apparently, he was harrassed by the government into rescinding his promise.
The Niger government declared that slavery no longer exists in Niger. Reaction from an Anti-Slavery International employee:
Romana Cacchioli, Africa program officer for Anti-Slavery International, wishes the public was invited to Saturday's event so they could hear the declaration that Niger is slave free. She calls the announcement "a de facto release of all Nigerien slaves. Now they are equal citizens," she says. "Now we will redouble efforts on the ground for civic education, for human rights education, about what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be free."from "On the way to freedom, Niger's slaves stuck in limbo: 7,000 slaves in Niger were set to be freed last Saturday - until the government denied slavery even existed there." by Mike Pflanz and Georgina Cranston
March 15, 2005
Interested in international disarmament? Read the Conference on Disarmament Report from Reaching Critical Will, a project of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
The Council on Disarmament is the only international forum for negotiating arms control and disarmament treaties. It has struggled and not agreed upon a program of work in the past eight years. Please see the above link for more details.
Huge Anti-Syria Rally - Momentum for Reform Back in Lebanon
The LAT reports that the private Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation estimated that one million people attended the anti-Syria rally yesterday in Matry's Square, Beirut. These rallies have occurred every Monday since former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated on February 14, a Monday, according to the NYT. The organizers pushed for this huge turnout in response to last Tuesday's pro-Syria rally.
WaPo reports that the Lebanese government has not conducted a census since 1956, due to fear of stirring sectarian violence. Its estimated that the entire population of Lebanon is about four million, so a rally that attracts a quarter of the population is of enormous significance.
The NYT reports that Mr. Hairiri and his bodyguards are buried in the former parking lot of a Virgin Megastore that overlooks Martyr's Square.
Fabulous Photograph from the Rally, by Hussein Malla of the AP, at the LAT
"Anti-Syria Rally Draws Huge Crowd: Hundreds of thousands gather to again demand Damascus' pullout from Lebanon. One estimate puts the protest at twice the size of Hezbollah's. by Ken Ellingwood with contributions from Rania Abouzeid in the LAT
"Huge Demonstration in Lebanon Demands End to Syrian Control," by Neil MacFarquhar in the NYT
"Rallies Highlight Rifts in Lebanon: Lebanese Opposition Answers Hezbollah With a Huge Anti-Syrian Demonstration," by Scott Wilson in WaPo
March 14, 2005
The Female Triumvirate at Foggy Bottom
According to The Note, Karen Hughes is heading to Foggy Bottom and will be (pending Senate confirmation) Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. Glad to know the only pre-qualification these days for top diplomatic posts is being A Really Good Friend of Shrub. After all, her previous work includes being a television reporter - clearly she must have the chops for the job. 31 year-old Dina Powell, currently head of personnel at the White House, will be Hughes' deputy and the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. (In addition to being a RGFS, Egyptian-born Powell speaks fluent Arabic, so at least she has some background in her new post.)
I suppose I should be happy that two strong females from Shrub's inner circle are joining Condi at State. After all, their close ties to Shrub mean State will finally get some recognition in the bureaucratic mind fuck that is DC. Nevertheless, I'm far from convinced State will be a force for good in the coming years. Here's my reasons:
1. Condi is stuck in a Cold War mindset. Did you see her on This Week and Meet the Press? She thinks we need to engage the Middle East in the same ways we engaged Europe during the Cold War. Apparently, we're going to invade their countries with hundreds of mindless backpacking college students and try to convince them to do some foreign exchange programs and then over power their domestic economies with our American-owned multi-national corporations' products.
2. Hughes is the spin-doctor behind Shrub. Meaning she makes his terrible steal from the poor to give money to the rich policies look warm and fuzzy. Not exactly the mastermind I want in charge of public diplomacy.
3. Powell seems like a nice enough woman. Except she is Shrub's #1 head hunter. Anyone who hunts for Shrub appointees and is good at must agree with his policies. That's not a good thing.
4. Shrub already appointed (pending Senate confirmation) John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN. Not only does Bolton have no respect for the UN, Shrub doesn't either.
ABC's The Note
"Karen Hughes named to State Department post: Bush confidante tasked with bettering U.S. image in Muslim world," by the Associated Press
"Bush's U.N. post choice seen as insult to organization," by Thomas DeFrank, New York Daily News (reposted in the Kansas City Star)
Include Women in Peace-Making 365 Days A Year
Yolanda Chavez Leyva wrote an opinion article today in the Miami Herald pointing out both how women and girls "bear the brunt of armed conflict" and that they should be intricately involved in conflict resolution. Although she fails to recognize first wave feminist peace organizations (like Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, which is celebrating its 90th birthday this year), Chavez Leyva does a good job highlighting work of some of our younger, sister organizations.
March 13, 2005
Learning New Words w the NYT
I admit that since I moved in with mi chavo, I haven't been reading as much of the Sunday NYT as I used to. (He graciously gave me a subscription for Hanukah.) This week is different, primarily because we chose to relax and hang out at home more. So there I was, reading the entire "The Two Faces of Rising China," by Joseph Kahn in the Week in Review section (one of the great sections I skip in my rush to the Weddings column in Sunday Styles b/c I'm a sucker for love stories) and I got through the entire article without learning much (Sino-American relations haven't changed much since I was in poli-sci courses in the late 90s), until the last sentence. Then I felt like a dumb high schooler desperately studying for the SATs (like the obnoxious private school 16 year-old with my old accent offering an editorial on CBS's Sunday morning news program). Right, well, here's the sentence:
The anti-secession bill looks like a victory for the atavists.I vaguely remember that word, perhaps from those aforementioned poli-sci courses. According to my fav online dictionary, m-w.com, the word is only definable if you pay for access to the unabridged Merriam Webster dictionary. Which sounds ridiculous to me, so I went to dictionary.com and found out that atavist has two meanings. The definition related to the above sentence is:
1. The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.At first I thought the corresponding definition was decribing the trait itself, but upon re-reading the sentence I realized the atavists in question are actually the people who are throwbacks to a bygone, machismo-driven era.
2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called throwback.
3. The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence.
March 11, 2005
Senate Passed Bankruptcy Restriction Bill
Howdy New World Order. Good to know you've got so many backers in the USG. Now I know where to turn to find the armies fighting the poor and the downtrodden.
Here is the side-bar to that story, from the AP:
If enacted, the bill would:
-- Set up a new test for measuring a debtor's ability to repay. People with insufficient assets or income could still file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which if approved by a judge erases debts entirely after certain assets are forfeited. But those with income above the state's median income who can pay at least $6,000 over five years -- $100 a month -- would be forced into Chapter 13, where a judge would order a repayment plan.
Under current law, a bankruptcy judge determines under which chapter of the bankruptcy code a person falls -- whether they have to repay some or all of their debt.
-- Require people filing for bankruptcy to pay for credit counseling.
-- Give top priority to a spouse's claims for child support among creditors' claims on a debtor in bankruptcy.
-- Allow for special accommodations for active-duty service members, low-income veterans and those with serious medical conditions in the new income test for bankruptcy applicants.
-- Restrict the homestead exemption in states to $125,000 if the person in bankruptcy bought his or her residence at least three years and four months before filing. Florida, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas have unlimited homestead exemptions that allow wealthy people to file for bankruptcy and keep their mansions in those states sheltered from creditors.
Source: The Associated Press
March 10, 2005
A Trifecta Re Shrub's Snub of International Human Rights
The NYT, WaPo, and the LAT have articles regarding Shrub's decision to withdraw from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. WaPo, as usual, summarizes the history of the law best.
Here's the thing: WE WROTE IT. That's right, folks. The USG proposed the Optional Protocol in 1963 and it was ratified in 1969. It gets better - we were the first to use it, in relation to the U.S. hostages in Iran in 1979.
The protocol provides protection of foreign nationals from unjust detention and allows said nationals to appeal to a court outside of the detaining state for help. The protocol is the teeth of the convention, something the USG clearly understood when it wrote and proposed the damn thing. But now that its being used to question death sentences in Texas, California, and elsewhere, it must go.
"U.S. Quits Pact Used in Capital Cases: Foes of Death Penalty Cite Access to Envoys," by Charles Lane in WaPo
"U.S. Says It Has Withdrawn From World Judicial Body," by Adam Liptak in the NYT
Must Read: NYT article on the Corporate Corruption of Congress
"A New Mood in Congress to Relax Corporate Scrutiny," by Stephen Labaton
From bankruptcy law to gutting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, corporations and their fully-owned subsidiary Congressmen are stickin it to the little guy.
I urge you to read the article. Without histrionics, without bias, it details how and why corporations have taken control of Congress. Just to clue you in - its because no one holds politicians accountable. It's because corporations are better at securing financial contributions for candidates from their employees than unions are from their members; its because the rich vote in larger numbers than the poor; because the poor are systemically disenfranchised and losing hope. ...getting off my soap box now....
NGO Statement on Inclusion of Women In Nuclear Disarmament Work
This message is from Susi Snyder, Secretary General of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom:
Dear WILPF members and friends,
For more than 20 years, WILPF has worked with the NGO Working Group on Peace in Geneva to organize a seminar around International Women's Day. The theme of this year's seminar was "Women Say No to Nuclear Weapons". Speakers included- Ms. Ingrid Eide of No to Atomic Weapons in Norway, Ambassador Volker Heinsberg of Germany, Ms. Ann Pollack with the Canadian Mission, Dr. Jack Steinberger 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physics and Ms. Jean Kimani of the Kenyan Mission.
This seminar generates a statement, which is then presented in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The CD is the world's sole multilateral treaty negotiating body. The Reaching Critical Will project of WILPF monitors the CD, and you can find more information here:
This year, instead of the Director General of the CD reading the statement, it was read by Tim Caughley of New Zealand in his capacity as rotating President of the Conference. After reading the statement, he addressed the CD in his national capacity, and said he hoped that the NGOs would be able to deliver the statement themselves in the near future. Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany also took the floor to support this sentiment.
Here is the statement:
Since 1984, a group of Geneva-based NGOs, together with members of the NGO Working Group on Peace have held a seminar to mark International Women's Day – 8 March – in tribute to the tireless work done by women around the world for the achievement of justice, peace and security. We again use this opportunity to engage the public and governments to look holistically at issues of peace and security, and to recognize the centuries' old demand of women for nations to totally and universally disarm.
Women mobilize support for disarmament and peace. In the last century alone, educational and petition campaigns, such as the more than nine million signatures collected and sent to the 1926 disarmament conference in Geneva, or the one initiated in 1959 by the European Movement of Women Against Nuclear Armament, have rallied wide public support for general and nuclear disarmament. The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom along with many other organizations refused to accept the cold war barriers and worked to break them down through East - West dialogues and many other shared events to end the arms race and build peaceful cooperation. Women demonstrated against the build-up of multilateral nuclear forces in Europe, as they did, for example at the NATO conference in the Netherlands in 1964. In the 1960s, 100,000 women in 110 American communities left their homes and offices in a national "strike" for a nuclear test ban, sparked by Boston physicians' documentation of the presence of Strontium-90, a by-product of nuclear tests, in the teeth of children across the U.S. and beyond. Millions of women and men rallied in the cities of Europe and marched across borders to mark their opposition to the deployment of nuclear missiles and radiological weapons. We all remember how the women of Greenham Common left their homes to dedicate themselves to peace as men have often left their homes to fight wars.
Let us be clear: we do not assert that women are "by nature" more peaceful than men. Women are socialized to be the caretakers and nurturers of their families and communities; yet in countries the world over - from the developed to developing nations - many men assume the role of "protectors" and "defenders" and often seek to maintain this role through the possession of weapons, while women in their nurturing role often encourage this step towards "manhood". We recognize that women are also actors in conflict - women take up arms, engage in conflict and even perpetuate it. It is not enough for us to bring a few more women into security discussions and negotiations; just as men differ vastly in their perceptions of issues of importance, just one participant in negotiations cannot represent women in all their diversities.
Furthermore, increased dialogue with and participation of NGOs in all disarmament efforts will facilitate a much broader, more comprehensive understanding of security, one that can form the basis of a windfall of new security agreements and treaties. The stalemate in moving disarmament forward must be broken now.
Women have developed an expanded expertise on these issues over the years and are eager, along with many other members of civil society and non-governmental organizations, to work with you and your ministries at the Capitols to move forward. In 1997, a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention was submitted to the General Assembly by Costa Rica stating that the model sets forth "the legal, technical and political issues that should be considered in order to obtain an actual nuclear weapons convention."
South Africa submitted a Working Paper to this body in 2002, outlining some suggestions and food for thought on a Fissile Materials Treaty. The time is ripe to negotiate this treaty now in order to address the problems of nuclear proliferation. Large sectors of world civil Society stand at the ready to do whatever they can to assist in these negotiations - you in the CD have the power to open your doors to us; Paragraph 41 of the rules of procedure recognizes that the Conference may decide to invite specialized agencies, the IAEA and other organs of the UN system to provide information We are prepared to accept your invitation, and look forward to receiving it.
This body has struggled for eight long years to move forward. It will not be able to make substantive breakthroughs as long as governments continue to equate security with armaments. We have not seen an increase in global security that matches the global increases in military spending; rather, we have seen increased proliferation of weapons, increased threats from non-state actors, and decreased human security.
Our focus during this year's seminar was on nuclear weapons, on the role that these ecocidal, suicidal and genocidal weapons play in a world struggling to recognize and move towards a holistic perception of security - one that includes environmental protection, protection of all actors effected by all phases of conflict, and that integrates and understands the reasons that make people pick up arms in order to disarm.
In a large part, the NGOs that monitor your discussions here, the NGOs that will flock to New York to monitor and bring public attention to the NPT Review Conference, the NGOs that have organized massive demonstrations in opposition to nuclear weapons, the NGOs that have brought organized pressure on governments to negotiate the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - many of these NGOs comprise women, whose dedication to the abolition of nuclear weapons is based on their unique, understanding of the evil of these weapons.
While we laud the CD's decision taken last year that codifies the basic rules of engagement with disarmament NGOs, we urge you to review NGO participation and access to all international disarmament fora, and to understand, as Croatia has, "the growing beneficial role that civil society plays in the field of disarmament... (which) may give additional impetus to initiatives to break the deadlock and finally move the multilateral disarmament agenda forward." We urge you to heed the advice of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who called for "more organized and sustained dialogue with the NGO community", recognizing that more effective engagement with NGOs increases the likelihood that United Nations decisions will be better understood and supported by a broad and diverse public.
The culture of militarism that has gained ground the world over is pushing the cornerstone of the disarmament regime, the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, toward a dangerous precipice. We are all aware of the significant backsliding from key advancements made at the 2000 Review Conference, and know that drastic measures are needed in order to arrest this development.
The Conference on Disarmament has a unique opportunity to do so at the forthcoming 7TH NPT Review Conference, addressing the concerns and priorities of all States parties, and working to strengthen both the non-proliferation and the disarmament obligations of the Treaty. If the CD is able to adopt a program of work and start substantive discussions on nuclear disarmament, a fissile materials treaty, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and/or other items on the proposed agenda, you will be endowing the Review Conference with a much needed head-start on its own work. No other body, no other diplomats, have the opportunity that you do to influence a positive start at the Review, to erode the paralysis that blocked the Preparatory Committee.
Time is growing short, in the next few months, all actors within the international disarmament community must do everything they can to use this Conference as a tool for ensuring the human security of all peoples, everywhere.
Interesting Commentary on Shrub's War on Women's Rights
Via the Feminist Peace Network, I found "Dark Ages, Reprise How the Bush Administration is fighting a battle against the women of the world, and winning" by Katherine Brengle in Dissident Voice.
Although the article doesn't mention the USG's recent attempt to add anti-abortion language to the Beijing +10 declaration, and it is a bit more strident in tone than I would personally write, it includes tons of fascinating information. Apparently, I've been totally clueless for awhile now because I had no idea scientists had created a female sex-drive enhancer, Intrinsa, and that the FDA immediately rejected it. Nor did I know the Supreme Court refused to overturn the Alabama law that bans the sale or distribution of sex toys.
March 9, 2005
Senators Continue to Lie and Screw Over Impoverished People
Perhaps my tone is too strident for you. Perhaps you have never lived through a family bankruptcy. The Senate is on its way to passing that terrible legislation that makes it more difficult for the poor to file for bankruptcy, and they're lying and saying its going to affect the rich. From Today's Papers:
The NYT off-leads and others report that a major overhaul of bankruptcy laws long-sought by the credit card industry is likely to pass the Senate after lawmakers rejected, by a 53-to-46, near-party-line vote, a Democratic amendment that had scuttled the measure in previous years. (The amendment would have prevented anti-abortion demonstrators from using bankruptcy protections to avoid court-ordered fines, a provision that rankles abortion foes in the House.) "The free ride is over for people who have higher incomes and can repay their debts," crowed Sen. Chuck Grassley. Except, oops: the WSJ points out inside that wealthy individuals are less likely to feel the impact of the legislation because of "significant loopholes" that allow them to shield their assets from creditors.Emphasis added. I am so disgusted I could spit. Although, I'm not really surprised. What does surprise me is that poor and middle class people still call themselves Republicans. I'm not advocating class warfare - I'm simply saying that the Republicans in Congress and the Shrub in the White House have declared war on the poor and the struggling middle class both within this country and abroad. Proof of this war: this bankruptcy law change and the selection of Negroponte to be US Ambassador to the UN. What a joke! More on Negroponte in a bit.
March 8, 2005
Happy International Women's Day!
Of course, we should all remember how important women are everyday of the year. Gender issues need to be at the forefront of all of our work - from understanding development needs, to the cessation of war, to the composition of legislatures, to the identity of national leaders. In honor of all of the strong women past and present who have helped make the world a better place, please join me in celebrating International Women's Day.
The US Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is celebrating the day by announcing our campaigns for the next three year cycle, Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East and Save the Water. Information available here.
March 5, 2005
The World United Against the USG: Victory for Women's Human Rights!!!
The Commission on the Status of Women Unequivocally Reaffirms the Beijing Platform for Action Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), News Alert, 4 March 2005Press Release found at PeaceWomen
US WITHDRAWS ITS ANTI-SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AMENDMENT!!!
Earlier today, the United States failed to break solid international consensus supporting reaffirmation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and withdrew its controversial proposed amendment to the Draft Declaration of the Beijing +10 proceedings currently taking place in New York. The US language sought to "reaffirm that the Beijing Platform and the outcome of the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly (Beijing +5) "do not create new international human rights and do not include the right to abortion." The US decision to withdraw its anti-human rights amendment marks a significant victory in support of women's human rights worldwide.
Although the US delegation did not have the public support of any Member State, they had refused to join the consensus that had formed in support of the Draft as it had been issued by the Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women. In a remarkable show of solidarity, countries across all regions have resisted US pressure to break consensus, and have stood together in support of the full range of women's human rights as laid out in the Beijing Platform.
The Declaration, which reaffirms the Beijing Platform and the Beijing +5 outcome document, was adopted at 5pm this afternoon at the Commission on the Status of Women.
Full Coverage of Beijing +10 at PeaceWomen
March 4, 2005
Because Having a Bankruptcy on Your Record for Ten Years Wasn't Bad Enough
In case you didn't know, when you as an individual file for bankruptcy, it stays on your credit report for TEN YEARS. Now, big business and their backers (aka Congress) want to make it even more difficult for you to recover from a mound of debt. From CQ Midday Update:
Senate Republican leaders today filed for cloture on legislation to overhaul the federal bankruptcy code, hoping to end an amendment process that has already chewed up four days. If 60 senators vote "yes" when the cloture motion comes to a vote on Tuesday, debate would be limited and non-germane amendments would be barred. GOP leaders want to wrap up work on the bankruptcy bill next week so the Senate can turn to the fiscal 2005 Iraq war supplemental and the fiscal 2006 budget resolution before beginning its spring break March 18. The big test next week will be an amendment to be offered by Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. It would bar debtors from using bankruptcy proceedings to escape court fines imposed for violent protest activities, including those aimed at abortion clinics. The overall bill is aimed at making it more difficult for individuals to escape their debts through bankruptcy proceedings.Emphasis added. Good to know the Dems are going to bat against all those thousands of clinic protestors who are filing for bankruptcy, but avoiding the larger issue. ARG!
Just to clarify, protesting at reproductive health clinics is abhorrent to me. Also abhorrent are elected lawmakers who put the whims of large corporations ahead of their real-life human constituents.
March 2, 2005
Beijing +10 Update from PeaceWomen E-News
POLITICAL DECLARATION: Outcome Document of Beijing +10Viva New Zealand!!!!
As of 1 March 2005, the US government has not withdrawn a major amendment they introduced on 24 February 2005 to the draft text of the political declaration, prepared by the Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
If the US government withdraws their amendment, there is an expectation that it will deliver an explanation of position, as it has in previous Beijing +10 regional reviews.
The US' proposed amendment is in bold:
"Reaffirm the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the outcome of the 23rd Special Session of the GA." [while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion.]
All other members of the Commission on the Status of Women have publicly maintained their support for the Bureau's draft declaration.* Some of the most out-spoken governmental critics of the US amendment, include the governments of the European Union, Canada and New Zealand. As New Zealand stated in its intervention on 1 March 2005:
"We are not here to re-litigate or reinterpret Beijing. We are here to reaffirm it, to pledge our renewed commitment to its implementation and to support each other to do that.
New Zealand will not accept an outcome declaration that contains anything less than a clear, unambiguous and unqualified reaffirmation of Beijing. We are not interested in negotiating any qualifications to the reaffirmation contained in the draft prepared by the bureau.
New Zealand calls on all states to reaffirm the Beijing Platform for Action without equivocation. The international community has laboured too long over language in human rights treaties, declarations and resolutions. It is time to take action, and Beijing provides with us with the right platform for doing so."
(Statement by the Honorable Ruth Dyson, New Zealand Minister of Women's Affairs)
* The draft declaration does include minor amendments, which have been accepted by consensus.
March 1, 2005
Treasury Dept Being Used to Spin Shrub's Lies
I can't tell you how irritated I am that Shrub is using tax dollars to fund his bullshit room at the Treasury Department. Officially called the "Social Security Information Center," it's really a place to spin lies about the stability of social security and to promote privatizing all savings for retirement.
Just to clarify, the government has no money to hire more people to go after dead beat corporations who refuse to pay their taxes, but there's plenty of money to hire "communicators" who spin political lies for a conservative huckster. Gee, what a perfect use of the Treasury Department! Next thing you know, we'll be getting rid of the IRS because it is too intrusive. Wouldn't want fat cats to actually have to pay for the corporate welfare they constantly receive.
"For GOP, Urgency on Social Security: White House Plans Six-Week Push," by Mike Allen in WaPo