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August 30, 2005

Un-P.C. Thought of the Day

With all due respect to the people affected by Hurricane Katrina, especially the families of those who lost their lives - could we get some perspective?

Yes, the mainstream news should cover the hurricane damage. Yes, we need to know what the governors and mayors in the affected areas think. Yes, it could even be useful to hear directly from people affected.

But if you are frickin stupid enough to play weatherman and decide for yourself that instead of listening to a mandatory evacuation order, you're going to ride it out in your house, I have no time to listen to your harrowing three hours clinging to a tree for dear life. I don't have much sympathy for you. A hurricane cannot be this country's tsunami. Tsunamis generally hit with absolutely no warning. Natural disasters that hit with completely no warning are appalling. People who choose to be morons deserve help when they inevitably face harm, but they do not deserve to be spotlighted on national news and heralded as a hero. You are not a hero for disregarding a mandatory evacuation order. You are a stubborn idiot.

That being said, it is disgusting to me that this country chose to leave poor people in a sports stadium in the middle of New Orleans instead of evacuating them out of harm's way. If the U.S. government was truly committed to the welfare of all Americans, individual safety would not be left to whether or not you have a car or can afford to stay in a hotel.

Posted by cj at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Extremist Jewish Israelis Attacked Two Arab Israelis

Not only were two men attacked by a group of forty thugs, but when one managed to escape the police refused to investigate the crime in progress.
Read the whole, disturbing article by Saed BAnnoura on International Middle East Media Center.

Posted by cj at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005

Obama on Ocean Protection

Through Barbara Boxer's PAC, I sent messages to my representatives re protecting our oceans. Surprisingly, Senator Obama wrote me back with a very positive response:

Dear Cynthia:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about our ocean policy and your support for S. 1224, the National Oceans Protection Act of 2005. I appreciate knowing your thoughts on such an important issue.

I am committed to protecting our oceans and ensuring that we develop a comprehensive national ocean policy that will conserve and enhance the tremendous resources the seas offer. As you may know, the Oceans Act of 2000 required the formation of a U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to make findings and issue recommendations to the President and Congress. In 2004, the Ocean Commission released its report, providing us with the first wide-ranging assessment in many years of the state of our oceans. The report recommended a range of important policy proposals, including strengthening the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, doubling funding for ocean research, reforming fisheries management policies, and creating measurable water pollution reduction goals.

S. 1224 would require the U.S. to formulate a long term policy on ocean conservation and management of marine resources. As such, the recommendations of the Ocean Commission will play an important role in the discussion of this bill, as well as any other legislation introduced on our national ocean policy. S. 1224 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Although I am not a member of that committee, I have urged my colleagues who serve on that panel to take timely action on S. 1224. I hope the Committee will recommend ocean policy legislation to the full Senate this year.

Thank you again for contacting me, Cynthia. I hope you will continue to keep in touch with me on this and any other issue of concern to you.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

Go, Barack! I've been consistently impressed by his office's ability to respond to my emails, even when I don't use his web form. And thank you to the LA WILPF email list for alerting me to Boxer's PAC for Change.

Posted by cj at 9:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2005

Newly Discovered News Source: IMEMC

The International Middle East Media Center is located at http://www.imemc.org. This is an online English-language daily with non-partisan up-to-date accounts and analysis from Israel/Palestine.

Interesting news from IMEMC:
Abbas: "Israel should evacuate W. Bank settlements"

"This withdrawal is not a Palestinian or Israeli victory", Abbas said, "It is a victory of peace for everyone". [...]

"The Palestinian and the Israelis should start talking about the future of the West Bank, Israel should freeze all of its settlement activities, Europe should practice more pressure regarding this issue".

"Poll: Majority in Israel support more withdrawals from"

As many as 54 percent of the Israelis said they believe the Israeli government should withdraw from more territories in the West Bank and to reach peace with the Palestinians, while a bigger majority believed that the unauthorized outposts in the West Bank must be dismantled, a poll conducted by the Israeli Newspaper Yedioth Ahronot showed.
It is hopeful that both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli people support more withdrawals from the West Bank.

In related news, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice last Wednesday. He spoke to her about several things, including Israel's $2.2 billion additional aid request. More details at "Olmert calls on Palestinian Authority to disarm militants," in Haartez, an independent Israeli daily newspaper.

My thanks to my fellow WCUSP leadership team members for directing me to the above websites. WCUSP = Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East, a national campaign of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Posted by cj at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)

Even Men Get It: There is No Democracy Without Women's Rights

The listserv of the Feminist Peace Network sent me to Derrick Z. Jackson's op-ed in the Boston Globe, "What are women fighting for?"

There's nothing new in the editorial. It did let me know about an American woman, Fern Holland, who got killed with two co-workers for helping write the draft Iraqi constitution.

It also points out the lie that Shrub loves to tell - that the constitution guarantees minority rights and women's rights. Which, just to be clear, are two different things. Point of fact, there are more women in Iraq than men (primarily because of decades of war).

Today's Papers
reports that Sunni legislators have rejected the draft bogus constitution, so the only way to get the religious-laden, rights-withdrawing piece of crap into law is a national referendum, which could be negated by 3 provinces voting down the crap by a 2/3 margin.

Posted by cj at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

Philadelphia 1787 v. Baghdad 2005

Fred Kaplan wrote an engaging article in Slate on "Bush's lousy analogy."

He puts forth many succint differences between the founding of the U.S.A. and the current situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, as is the perogative of a white male, he fails to recognize the depth of failure in Philadelphia in 1787. The constitution didn't just punt a difficult issue - it legalized the fiction of people as property and maintained women as property. It is not acceptable for a new government in 2005 to merely meet the standards set in 1787. Any constitution created today, to be truly democratic, must unflinchingly declare the rights of all people - regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or any other differentiating aspect - to complete freedom and inclusion in the political process.

I am sick of listening to people give excuses for discrimination. If the U.S. is truly a country spreading freedom and democracy around the world, it must be firm in its committment to the freedom of all people, not just those willing to work with U.S.-based multinational corporations.

Posted by cj at 8:27 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

This Just In: No Reason To Promote Women's Rights

I watched part of Meet the Press yesterday, but switched back to This Week in time to (a)miss the interesting bits on TW and (b)miss the atrocious response of former Middle East specialist for the CIA, Reuel Marc Gerecht on MTP.

I was pointed to this Meet the Press minute by the Feminist Peace Network listserv:

MR. GREGORY: Fast forward to this morning. Gentlemen, we put this on the screen from The New York Times. "[American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay] Khalilzad had backed language [in the constitution] that would have given clerics sole authority in settling marriage and family disputes. That gave rise to concerns that women's rights, as they are annunciated in Iraq's existing laws, could be curtailed. ... [The] arrangement, coupled with the expansive language for Islam, prompted accusations from [a Kurdish leader] that the Americans were helping in the formation of an Islamic state." [...]

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

This was the last exchange of the program and apparently there was no time to follow up on this horrific, neanderthal understanding of human rights. Apparently, the gains made by all waves of feminism are not necessary to creating a true democracy in 2005. When, oh when, will we vote out these ridiculous thugs in suits?

Full transcript: "Transcript for August 21: Trent Lott, Russ Feingold, Larry Diamond and Reuel Marc Gerecht," NBC News

Posted by cj at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2005

LA WILPF keeps its Eye on Congress

The following links were sent to me by the Los Angeles, California WILPF Branch email list. The Rolling Stone article is a long, but straight-forward look at the current state of "democracy" in the House of Representatives. The second link provides a summary of the article.

"Four Amendments & a Funeral: A month inside the house of horrors that is Congress,"
by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

"Rolling Stone on the Courageous Fight Inside the U.S. House of Horrors,"
by David Sirota on the Huffington Post blog

cross-posted from the US WILPF Members blog.

Posted by cj at 2:22 PM | Comments (0)

Jewish Americans Buying "Property" on Confiscated Palestinian Land

An article was forwarded to the International WILPF listserv yesterday regarding Nof Zion, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, half of which is on land owned by Palestinians in the East Jerusalem village Jabel Mukhaber. The Palestinian land was confiscated for "public services." The new real estate will be a gated community and many of the units are being sold to Jewish Americans who will probably never reside in the West Bank full time.

More info:
"Settlements go down, settlements go up: New Settlement Puts Pressure on Jerusalem Palestinians," by Jon Elmer in the New Standard, available on Znet

To subscribe to WILPF listservs:
First, please join WILPF.

The International WILPF listserv:
send a blank email to wilpf-news-subscribe AT igc DOT topica DOT com
Replace AT with @ and DOT with . (address written that way to prevent spammers from emailing it)

The US WILPF listserv:
send a blank email to wilpf-us-news-subscribe AT igc DOT topica DOT com

Cross-posted from the US WILPF Members blog.

Posted by cj at 3:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

Damn Fine Reads

I found some great blogs and articles tonight. While I'm at the end of my ability to write coherently, and therefore wont be commenting on my reading, I thought I'd share the URLs -

Raising Yousuf: a diary of a mother under occupation, from a Palestinian journalist in Gaza City

Rafah Notes, a blog by a woman in the U.S.

Pandagon's "Friday real female characters in movies blogging" post

"Ten Movies That Get Women Right, by Sheerly Avni on AlterNet

"Can White Hollywood Get Race Right?" by Jeff Chang and Sylvia Chan on AlterNet

Posted by cj at 10:10 PM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2005

WILPF Update

My latest entry on the Leadership Institute and the beginning of the U.S. Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's Triennial Congress is available at wilpf.blogspot.com.

Posted by cj at 7:59 PM | Comments (0)

Army Whistleblower Exists

I've heard it said in many circles that the army procurement system is a joke - a rubber stamp on war profiteering by Halliburton and other Bush admin cronies. I never realized there was a procurement officer in the Army who agreed with me - Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse.

When Gen. Ballard hired her in 1997 she was overqualified — three master's degrees and more than 20 years of contracting experience in private industry, the Army and the Pentagon.

"She is probably the most professional person I've ever met, " Ballard said. "And she plays it straight. That created problems for her after I left."

Ballard used her, he said, to help him revolutionize the Corps — by ending the old-boys practice of awarding contracts to a favored few, and by imposing private industry standards on a mammoth, 230-year-old government agency with 35,000 workers. He felt the Corps, which had overseen everything from building hydroelectric dams to the Soo Locks to the Manhattan Project, needed a hard boot into the new age of contracting.

"The Corps is a tough organization. And I'll tell you, it's not easy to be a woman in this organization, and a black one at that," said Ballard, who was the first black leader of the Corps.

He is not optimistic about her future.

"I think you can put a fork in it," he said. "Her career is done."

By the way, Ballard retired which is part of the reason Ms. Greenhouse is facing such an uphill battle within the Army. She's been demoted for pointing out that many of Halliburton's contracts are illegal because there was no competitive bidding process and because they are bilking American taxpayers for millions of dollars (charging for meals that were never served; serving military personnel rotten food; over-charging for oil).

More info:
"Army Whistleblower Draws Fire," by Deborah Hastings, AP National Writer via Yahoo News and the Feminist Peace Network.

Posted by cj at 9:32 AM | Comments (0)

Big Brother is Listening

Turns out, the USG never stopped snooping on U.S. citizens. Apparently, when the truth came out in the 70s, the government set up a commission that barred the USG from snooping on citizens without a warrant. (Before that, the government wasted a lot of time and energy keeping tabs on anti-war protestors and other deviants.)

So, the USG still spies on citizens. We saw that previously when the California National Guard kept tabs on a Mothers Against the War rally. Now, if you have a phone conversation with a foreigner, that conversation could be tapped and in the summary of the convo, your name will be replaced with the words "U.S. citizen." Catch is that if any bureaucrat is interested in knowing the identity of the mentioned citizen, that info is handed over by the snooping agency (except if the bureaucrat happens to work at Congress).

I think all of us aberrant individuals understand that someone is watching and listening (and reading). Is it possible that the mainstream will ever again care about their right to privacy? Or will they just continue to believe the excuse that this so-called war on terror means their rights must be trampled on?

More info:
"Big Brother and the Bureaucrats," by Patrick Radden Keefe, Op-Ed in the NYT

Posted by cj at 7:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2005

Blogging from the WILPF Leadership Institute

Greetings, blogosphere -

I'm blogging from San Francisco State University, site of the WILPF Leadership Institute for young women and women new to peace activism. Our training will conclude tomorrow afternoon, in time to join our fellow WILPFers at our Triennial U.S. WILPF Congress, from Wednesday evening through Sunday morning.

Our Leadership Institute started off with a bang and we're moving along nicely. We took time to introduce ourselves (an important beginning often forgotten at many political gatherings), discussed sexism, heterosexism, patriarchy, and diversity in the afternoon. After dinner, we saw a slide show on the history of WILPF, which was graciously provided by the Boston WILPF branch.

It was really great to present the slide show. I distinctly remembering watching it in 1999 at my first WILPF event - a Boston branch retreat - and thinking how amazing it is to be involved in an organization that has been an integral part of the peace and social justice movement for the last ninety years. I look forward to sharing WILPF's history and future via this blog and other forms of contact.

For now, I'm exhausted and off to bed.

cross-posted from U.S. WILPF Membership Blog

Posted by cj at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2005

War Criminal, Perpetrator of Genocide, Captured in Argentina

Bosnian Serb Milan Lukic was captured today in Argentina. He was sentenced in absentia by the Hague to twenty years in prison for his crimes against humanity and is currently being processed for extradition.

More info:
"Bosnian Serb Suspect Caught in Argentina,"
by Bill Cormier, AP at Yahoo News

Posted by cj at 7:43 PM | Comments (0)