Friday, June 29, 2007

The Occupation of Alcatraz: Photo Essay

Thousands of American Indians and their families occupied Alcatraz Island from November, 1969 to June, 1971. The story of this occupation is absolutely amazing and I thought today, on this Day of Action, that it might serve as inspiration.

A proclamation on Alcatraz Island tells new arrivals where they are.

Signs hung on the dock on Alcatraz Island read, from left to right, "Red Power. Indians," "Human Rights, Free Indians," "Remember this land was taken from us!" "Alcatraz for Indians."

For many people, the occupation was the first time they had been surrounded by other Indian people. The experience was one of cultural renewal, exhilaration, and a new-found sense of Indianness.

Indian women played a major role in the occupation. They served on the is land council and the security force and worked in the health clinic, the day care center, and the school.

Stella Leach, a Colville/Sioux woman, took a leave of absence from her job at the All Indian Well Baby Clinic in Berkeley, California, to participate in the occupation of Alcatraz Island, where she operated a health clinic for island residents.

Many of the occupiers brought their families hundreds of miles to live on the island. A preschool and a nursery were operated for those who had children on the island.

Indian occupiers work to bring supplies onto Alcatraz. The island has no natural resources, so all supplies, fuel, and water had to be ferried over form the mainland and transported up the island by hand.

One of the last occupiers leaves Alcatraz Island, June 11, 1971.

On the mainland, on June 11,1971, Harold Patty (left), a Paiute Indian from Nevada, and Oohosis (second from left), a young Cree Indian from Canada, join two friends in demonstrating that the spirit will continue.

Overcoming exhaustion and disillusionment, young Atha Rider Whitemankiller (Cherokee) stands tall before the press at the Senator Hotel after the removal. His eloquent words about the purpose of the occupation - to publicize his people's plight and establish a land base for the Indians of the Bay Area - were the most quoted of the day.

Read more about the Alcatraz Occupation here and see more of these fantastic of photos here

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rumour has it the natives will be restless tomorrow (Friday, June 29). Nobody really knows what's going to happen – there could be roads blocked, train routes compromised, taxes hiked way up on native cigarettes, anything at all.
Come the Day of Action, expect a plethora of grievances and calls for redress. Here are a few of the lesser-known ones:

WE DEMAND that something be done about the belief that Aboriginal people get everything for free. This might seem to be true if you count the bad water in Kashechewan, illness from black mould in inadequate housing, linguistical genocide, diabetes and rampant sexual abuse. But trust me, we've paid for all this.

WE DEMAND that the feds actually appoint a native person as the minister of Indian Affairs. We humbly ask: isn't the attorney general usually a lawyer? Isn't the minister for the Status of Women usually a woman? Doesn't the minister of Transportation have a driver's licence? Isn't the minister of Defence usually defensive?
WE DEMAND that white people (more politically correctly known as people of pallor) stop angrily saying, "They shouldn't do that!" in regard to protests and blockades, and instead exchange it for the more understanding "They shouldn't have to do that." It's technically more correct.
WE DEMAND that all commercials for Lakota medicine be pulled. Immediately.

WE DEMAND the Assembly of First Nations explain what it is it actually does – other than call for days of protest.

WE DEMAND that the police of this country stop shooting, assaulting and otherwise abusing the civil rights of native people. It's for law enforcers' own benefit. There are substantially more native people in this country than police, and we have more guns.

You know what, I think all people of pallor better go read the whole thing. There's something here for everyone.
Seeing red: This Indian’s plan to clean up the mess left by 500 years of illegal immigration by Drew Hayden Taylor.

Did I mention I heart Drew Hayden Taylor? HT to Stageleft

Stop the Big Media Takeover: Canadians for Democratic Media

Stop the Big Media Takeover Lately it seems a large media merger is in the news all the time. Recently we've seen the mergers of CTVGlobeMedia with Chum, Canwest with Alliance Atlantis, and Quebecor with Osprey. Generally media convergence means less media choice for all Canadians.

Media diversity is the cornerstone of democracy. But media ownership is more highly concentrated in Canada than almost anywhere else in the industrialized world. Almost all private Canadian television stations are owned by national media conglomerates and, because of increasing cross-ownership, most of the daily newspapers we read are owned by the same corporations that own television and radio stations.

This means a handful of Big Media Conglomerates control what Canadians can most readily see, hear and read. It means less local and regional content, more direct control over content by owners and less analysis of the events that shape our lives. It also means less media choice for Canadians and fewer jobs for Canadian media workers.

We must also be wary of the impacts mergers have on the diversity and neutrality of new on-line media. We need to reverse this trend before big media gets even bigger!<>

Right now until July 18th we can send our comments to CRTC about these issues. They are having a review of media concentration and if enough of us send in comments they could make stiffer rules for media companies.

Take just a few seconds to send a pre-formatted message

For more info, check out the new media reform campaign in Canada called Stop the Big Media Takeover

Please share this information with other freethinking Canadians.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Indigenous Peoples Fighting Ongoing Colonization and Genocide: Australia

Indigenous peoples all over the world are fighting valiant battles to protect what's left of their land, peoples, and cultures in the face of ongoing colonialism. While there are some small victories, the vast juggernaut of globalized corporate Capitalism simply steamrolls on. Helping this along is the paternalism of well-meaning liberals.

It is from the "white man's burden" that some of the most lasting harm has come. Apartheid in South Africa grew out of the same reserve system we have in Canada. Self-government for the natives in semi-autonomous communities - sounds almost progressive doesn't it? Well, we all know how that ended up.

Similarly, misguided but mostly benevolant people, who wanted to improve the lot of young native children through education, created Residential Schools - known as The Stolen Generation) in Australia. This was genocide dressed up as education, with devastating consequences. What happens when nearly an entire people is subject to state-sponsored physical, sexual, verbal, spiritual, and other forms of abuse - for generations? Anyone familiar with the effects of child abuse knows that it can persist through generations in complex ways.

Australia has done little to heal the damage, despite evidence of chronic social problems in Indigenous Australians communities. Instead of promoting healing, the Howard government introduced a a policy banning porn and alcohol for Aboriginals, ostensibly to protect children from abuse(even though the abuse is committed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people). Howard's actions are reactionary, but he speaks the language of care, which unfortunately is often accepted by kind and decent people.
How does eliminating pornography teach a child to love her blood, her cells, her roots?
How does a ban on alcohol erase the desire to no longer be aboriginal?
How does controlling welfare payments teach aboriginal mothers to trust themselves and their love again? <BFP>

Not only are the Howard government's policies cruel and racist, but they are also not likely to be effective because they are targeting the consequences instead of the causes. Alcohol and pornography do not cause abuse. Rather, those with a history of abuse are far more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and to have difficulty achieving healthy sexuality, among other terrible outcomes. Even I know better than to conflate correlation with causation.

But perhaps the Howard government does not care if it will be effective. Perhaps this has to do with gaining increasing control over Aboriginal communities and lands (possibly for more nuclear waste dumps or mining): "Australia’s national Government was using its powers to seize control of the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal settlements... The proposals mean scrapping the entry-permit system under which Aboriginal people have controlled access to northern Australia’s 660,000 square kilometres of Aboriginal lands - an area about of the size of Afghanistan - in recent decades." <Times Online> The Howard government is using well-intentioned Australians to promote his atrocious policies. But such paternalism, however pure the intentions, is still racist.

Most Australians don't like to be termed as racist.

The word is supposed to be for South Africans two decades ago, or for Americans before the civil rights era, or even for our earlier colonial ancestors, about two hundred years ago.

But what other reason could there be for the fact Aboriginal people have the same mortality rate of sheep?

And what other word could be used to justify the fact that being an Aboriginal Australia is more dangerous in terms of annual excess mortality than that people in US-occupied Iraq? <National Indigenous Times via Shmohawk's Shmorg>

Monday, June 25, 2007

This Blog is Rated R

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* bomb (3x)
* murder (2x)
* crap (1x)

Fuck. I've been found out.

Ok, so as a public service announcement, kids, you better get your parent or guardian to accompany you while you read my most dangerous ideas: perhaps Iraqis and Afghanis don't like it when we bomb them, war and capital punishment both bear a striking resemblance to murder, and there's something wrong with a world in which the working class must spend their meager earnings on crap they don't need but are programmed to think they want.

Via brownfemipower

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How the Cult of Busy Protects Capitalism

I have a confession to make. The other day I was reading Ways to begin gutting Capitalism (and this - Strategies that have Failed), and the first thing that I thought was yeah, but who has TIME for this. Neighbourhood associations, local currencies, growing my own food, it all sounds great, but geez, there's practically no time to eat and sleep any more let alone adding all that face time with people. (I'm also kind of shy, but that's another issue altogether.)

As regular readers know, I'm quitting my job of 9 years and going back to school, and the more I think about it the happier I am about this decision. The truth is, I have a great job, with good pay, a fair bit of autonomy, and great co-workers. But it's not nourishing me. And I have no time to even contemplate a change in my daily routine, such as would be necessary to get more involved in my community. I used to be time rich and cash poor. Now, relatively speaking, I'm cash rich and time poor. I wouldn't really call that progress.

But it's hard to give up busy. There's a certain pride I take in my work and accomplishments, and having a schedule that isn't completely full feels, well, empty. But that's the whole point, isn't it? That unstructured time, that space in the interstices between appointments, is where the mind plays. That's where imagination, creativity, and problem solving all function their best.

So I know all of this, and I accept it. That's why I'm taking about six weeks off (well, I'm taking one class) before full time school starts, and looking forward to it. Despite this, I worry what others will think of me. People might think I'm an unproductive member of society, lazy, morally deficient, stupid, ungodly, whatever. What's this insecurity all about? See, somehow there's this equivalent between how hard a person works in the paid sphere, or how much money she makes, how busy she is, and her moral value. Oh, and the stuff she consumes - people who own BMWs and Audis are superior to people who take the bus, because clearly they work harder.

Let's wrap up. The measure of our moral character is equivalent to our busy-ness. Extra points for each hour of sleep debt incurred. Working so hard to buy more things that take up our time (video games, television, cars, big houses) leaves us us too exhausted to organize. How convenient for capitalism

I'm Now Officially a Thinking Blogger

Thanks to Politics Plus for the Thinking Blogger award.

Here are the rules:

  1. If, and only if you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
  3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Now the hard part. I have to choose 5 from the long list of amazing blogs I read. So, I've taken my daily read list, removed any that (as far as I could tell) had already been awarded this, and also very large and popular blogs. Here's my five, in no particular order:

Marginal Notes is one of my favourite feminist blogs. She takes no shit and I admire her for it.

A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land for his long, well-reasoned, and thought-provoking posts.

Sand Gets in my Eyes, an American ex-pat in Saudi Arabia. From her I get a very different and valuable perspective on many issues.

Shmohawk's Shmorg helps me stay up to date on many underreported issues, especially pertaining to Aboriginals in Canada.

Thought, Interrupted by Typos not only has one of the best blog names out there, but has clear concise writing and a diverse set of topics.

There's many, many more. My blogroll is in need of an update.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vocabulary Building

Now, don't get me wrong. I like words. I like the feel of a rolling multi-syllabic word in my mouth (say that out loud: "multi-syllabic" - so satisfying). I'm just not so convinced that I can use these new words three times in my daily language, to really make them my own.

Slap Upside the Head has learned me about "homofascism" - from which Bill Whatcott, a mayoral candidate, is committed to protecting Edmontonions.

Also, via JJ, I was schooled about "secular humanist fundamentalists" and their "fetophobia". Fetophobia is of course the reason the "secular fascists" visit the "abortuaries".

I have a good word. How about "asswipery"?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Creepy Love Songs

So, this post at The Vanity Press has been lurking in the back of my head. Then this morning, I was listening to this song, and the refrain began to creep me out:
"My salvation lies in your love"*

That got me thinking to another song that is really creepy:

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why i need you to hear

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is You

Gag me with a spoon.

This CD was sent to me by a creepy** ex, who was stalking me. Interestingly, I was involved in an online support group and I wasn't the only one who'd had this exact same song sent to me. It's THE abusers' anthem.

Other notable mentions: Every breath you take; Escape ("You can run you can hide but you can't escape my love"); Never gonna give you up ("A full commitment's what I'm thinking of /You wouldn't get this from any other guy"); Figured you out, Savin' Me, and others by Nickelback; How am I supposed to live without you; Broken Wings ("you're half of the flesh and blood that makes me whole"); You're Havin my baby ("Havin' my baby/What a lovely way of sayin' what you're thinkin' of me")

It's so hard to like love songs when they are about unhealthy attachment and codependent love. Some even make excellent stalker songs. Don't some of them just make you feel like you're being smothered (Don't Want To Miss A Thing)? If this is what we hear on the radio, no wonder relationship "issues" are the new black.

As TVP says:
A lot of men are looking for their anima -- the term Jung gave to the feminine side of a man's personality. But what a lot of men in a patriarchal culture do not understand is that the anima is part of them, and is not to be found in another person. This is because men in a patriarchal culture are taught precisely that they don't have an anima: that there is nothing feminine about them, or if there is, that it is a bad thing and must be suppressed... I wasn't reacting to women as if they were real people. Instead, I was reacting to them as if they were the missing part of myself.

A lot of these so called love songs are of the "you complete me" variety, or "I can't live without you". Some are all about possession.

So, what creepy love songs come to mind for you?

* Turns out on reading the rest of the lyrics, Murdoch is talking about his brother and sister. Phew. It's a good song, and I was afraid I'd hate it after this.

** Sorry to use this word so much, but sometimes a better word can't be found. Definition: 1. Of or producing a sensation of uneasiness or fear, as of things crawling on one's skin. 2. Annoyingly unpleasant; repulsive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lifestyles of the Poor and Displaced (Photo Essay)

Happy World Refugee Day. How shall we celebrate the 10 million global refugees? They don't make a Hallmark card for today. So instead let's go visit some refugee camps, featuring the #1 and #2 sources of refugees: Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iraqi Refugees

Mujahed Mohammed/AFP/Getty
Mosul, IRAQ: An Iraqi boy walks through erected tents at a camp for displaced people in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 06 April 2007.

Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty
Baghdad, IRAQ: An elderly Iraqi displaced woman weeps inside her tent at a camp for displaced people in Baghdad, 14 January 2007.

Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty
Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraqi displaced children play outside a camp for displaced people in Baghdad's al-Karrada neighbourhood, 25 March 2007.
From IraqSlogger

Afghan Refugees

The tents of the camp are crowded together, increasing the likelihood of epidemics of communicable diseases.

Crowded living conditions also prevent the proper drainage of water. Stagnant pools form which can further the spread of communicable diseases.

This picture was taken by a 19 year-old girl who lives at Jalozai with her mother, father and siblings. She was unable to work or study in Jalalabad and thus fled with her family to Pakistan.

This boy and his family spin yarn. He, like many of the people of Jalozai, show strong personal initiative.

This picture was taken by a 26-year-old man who, along with his family, fled the war in Kabul.
From Médecins Sans Frontières

Other large groups of refugees include Sudanese, Somalis, Congolese and Burundians. The 10 Million figure doesn't include Palestinian refugees for some reason, which alone now count over 4 million. They also don't include the 24.5 million internally displaced people.

Who takes in these refugees? Not the wealthy countries, mostly. Map from Worldmapper.


The Current Situation in Gaza & The West Bank

I haven't had the energy to post on this, despite the significance of what is going on right now. But, this article is worth reading: From Nakba to Gaza: Palestine at the friction point. It's pretty long, but interesting.

Also worth reading, The Crisis in Gaza: Made in Israel, A Tale of Two Governments and of course, Robert Fisk: Welcome to 'Palestine'


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Men, Women, Gay, Straight, Trans, Bi, Unisex - Everyone looks better in white lace see-through pants

The late 1960s were a time of throwing off the shackles of traditional societal gender norms, including the rules surrounding who could wear lace pants. Unisex clothing popped up on runways mid-decade, reaching suburban malls by the time today's ad appeared.

Wicked hot.
Via Torontoist
Happy Pride!

The Mythic, Heroic Narrative Obscures the Essence of War, which is Death

All troops, when they occupy and battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are swiftly placed in what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton terms "atrocity-producing situations." In this environment, surrounded by a hostile population, simple acts such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke or driving down a street means you can be killed. This constant fear and stress leads troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage that soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed over time to innocent civilians who are seen as supporting the insurgents. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral one. It is a leap from killing - the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm - to murder - the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you. The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. There is very little killing. American Marines and soldiers have become, after four years of war, acclimated to atrocity.
War is the pornography of violence. It has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it "the lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in primal impulses we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy life. It allows us to destroy not only things but human beings. In that moment of wholesale destruction, we wield the power of the divine, the power to give or annihilate life. Armed units become crazed by the frenzy of destruction. All things, including human beings, become objects - objects to either gratify or destroy or both. Almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.
It takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men and women into killers.

From A Culture of Atrocity by Chris Hedges

So we have ridiculous rationalizations for the killing of children. We have disappearing freedoms justified by war. We have war heroes being treated like crap.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not a Big Truck; Series of Tubes

Visitors to Tate Modern will be able to try out five giant slides that have been unveiled at the London gallery.

The largest of the spiralling slides is more than 55m (182ft) long and descends from the fifth floor of the venue.

Artist Carsten Holler said his work, Test Site, was a "playground for the body and the brain". He says slides can help combat mental health problems.

The slides are the seventh exhibit in the series commissioned for the gallery's Turbine Hall. <BBC>

See more on the exhibit here including lots of photos, and one of those 360° interactive thingies.

In other transportation news, Toronto guerilla cyclists are taking bike lanes into their own hands, spray painting bike lanes - now prettier in pink. Hot.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fighting Amongst Ourselves for the Scraps

One of my favourite Canadian blogs has a very interesting conversation going on in the comments of this post, as explained here. To sum up, there's a Nice White Guy who feels Indiginous peoples have unfair advantages, and Scott has some very compassionate and well-argued points. I urge everyone to go and read.

I've been hearing and reading versions of this conversation everywhere lately. The well-meaning, hard-working white guy has a tougher and tougher time making it these days. He looks back, feeling nostalgic for a time that seems simpler; the time before the women's movement, before civil rights, before various other liberation struggles. There's a tendency among many regular working class people to blame those who are below them in the heirarchy but catching up, rather than those at the top who are keeping everyone down. Thus you have increasing fear, and a huge backlash against so many of the progressive reforms hard fought and won. Vicious anti-feminism, anti-immigration, and that sort of soft reactionary racism that is common these days (such as the belief in reverse discrimination).

See, on the left, we usually see the rise of neoliberalism as one of the main causes of the increasing difficulties for the white middle class. We blame those at the very top, and their cheerleaders and supporters in the market fundamentalist government, corporate media, and think tanks. Most (though not all) of these people are white, wealthy, Christian, hetero men. That doesn't mean we blame white people, the wealthy, Christians, heteros, or men.

The nostalgic past in which life was simple and good for a hardworking everyman was experienced by a minority of white Westerners. The 50s look very different to a black woman in the US, or an aboriginal person in Canada, an Algerian in Algeria, or a Palestinian in a refugee camp.

The last few decades have seen amazing struggles, many successes, and many setbacks. I certainly don't want to bedgrudge any group the rights they fought so hard for. I want them to have more. I want us to have more. That's what social justice is about. If I may use a dog-and-meat-metaphor: we should not be fighting amongst ourselves for the scraps, but going after those who are eating the prime rib. (Well, more precisely those structures that dole out prime rib to some and scraps to the rest.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

RACE: Are We So Different? - Interactive

A look at race through three different lenses: History, Human Variation, Lived Experience. With videos, quizzes, an interactive timeline, and more cool features. It's anti-essentialist, but does show that which side of the privilege fence you're born on provides for very different experiences. In other words, in this culture and society, race does still matter. Be sure to check out the blog while you're there, too. (especially this post, commented on by Robert Jensen)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Name this Post

Dutch try to grow enviro-friendly meat in lab
Although it is in its early stages, the idea is to replace harvesting meat from livestock with a process that eliminates the need for animal feed, transport, land use and the methane expelled by animals, which all hurt the environment, he said.
The title for this post just writes itself... Unfortunately I can't choose:

  1. Eureka! I've discovered meat!
  2. Petri Pork
  3. Ham scam
  4. Mystery meat
  5. In the flesh
  6. Free the lab animals! Um. Well... they're not really animals, exactly.
  7. Mistaken bacon
  8. Brings new meaning to "going Dutch"
  9. Fake n Steak

Yes, I know it's weird. Just be thankful I didn't post pictures. I could have, you know.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Link Love

On account of Capitalist Propaganda 101 (uh, the Economics class I have to take before September), which I've recently added on top of my already stressful full time job, my posts have been short and sporadic. I just don't have time to craft many long and well-thought out posts. So, bear with me for the next month or so. Meanwhile, here's some good readin':

Thinking Girl's Feminism Friday - domestic goddess series, part 1: Nobody Likes a Blatant Simulacrum: Betty Crocker as a Marketing Technique, Guest Blogged by Shannon

My New Crush about Nassim Taleb and the perils of prediction. It doesn't seem to be loading right now, so you might need to try Google's Cache.

The Corporate Climate Coup by David Noble, and the accompanying controversy. How exactly does science fit into progressive politics and activism?

"Liberal" Types and Official Enemies via Thought, Interrupted by Typos.

The 39th Carnival of Feminism

Finally, More Interesting Stuff to Read from my feedreader - updated daily

That should keep you busy for a while. :)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Baby Husband

One often hears about girls being married off at a young age, but here's a situation in which a woman was married to a three-year old boy.
The case of a woman whose "husband" is a six-year-old child highlights the problems of childhood betrothals in Afghanistan. Gulghoti is a beautiful young woman of 25. Her dark eyes soften, then fill with tears as she looks at Hekmat, a quiet, skinny six-year-old who lives with her.

"I have brought him up since he was three," she said, her voice breaking. "I even used to feed him." The boy is not her child, her brother, or even her stepson. He is her husband. "My life is just one big problem," she said. "Please tell other people not to do this."

Six years ago, Gulghoti, who lives in southern Helmand province, married a young man to whom she had been betrothed since they were both children. Once the parents had agreed on the match and the terms, the deal was almost impossible to break, even after her fiancé was seriously injured in an accident. Her father died when she was young, and her widowed mother did not have the means to resist pressure to honour the contract. Gulghoti duly married her disabled fiance when she was 19, but he died after a year, leaving her a widow.

According to custom in this predominantly Pashtun region, once a woman marries, she remains more or less the property of her husband's family. If she is widowed, she will commonly be married off to a relative of her deceased husband.

"I had to obey these rules, and marry my husband’s younger brother," said Gulghoti. This happened despite the fact that Hekmat was only three at the time. "They forced me to marry this baby," she said. "By the time he reaches adolescence, I will be an old woman."

Hekmat does not understand that the woman who bathes him, looks after him, and prepares his meals is actually his wife. He calls her "khala" - "auntie". He is small and shy, and shrinks away from strangers. He does not attend school – no one in his family is literate.

In Afghanistan, parents sometimes betroth their children almost as soon as they are born. There are cases of 10-day-old children being engaged or even married to each other, despite legal and religious prohibitions against underage marriages. In most deals, a significant amount of money changes hands. The groom's family provides a bride-price, along with gifts of clothing, jewellery, sometimes livestock. The transaction makes it difficult to renege on the contract later on.

The custom is dying out in certain parts of the country, but there are still many instances where people such as Gulghoti and Hekmat are caught in a situation they cannot control. "I will never be happy," said Gulghoti. "I will never be a real wife."

The young woman lives in her husband's home, as is customary, and trembles with fear that he father-in-law might hear that she has spoken to a reporter. "But please give my message to others," she begged. "Tell parents not to arrange marriages for their children when they are babies. It only leads to this kind of catastrophe." [RJ - Paragraph breaks added for easier reading]

Marriage of Inconvenience from Sanjar

Ma Nature, O.D. (Original Designer)

Designers and decorators and anyone else who like pretty colours should check this out: A Collection of 18 Beautiful Butterflies & Their Color Palettes

For the next blog redesign?

Tomorrow's outfit?

Redecorate the bedroom?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Updates and Etceteras

All loosely related by the continent of Africa.

Mahmood Mamdani on Democracy Now the other day, discussing "The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency" - which I discussed a couple months ago.
Then follows the politics around genocide. And the politics around genocide is, when is the slaughter of civilians a genocide or not? Which particular slaughter is going to be named genocide, and which one is not going to be named genocide? So if you look at the last ten years and take some examples of mass slaughter -- for example, the mass slaughter in Iraq, which is -- in terms of numbers, at least -- no less than what is going on in Sudan; or the mass slaughter in Congo, which, in terms of numbers, is probably ten times what happened, what has been happening in Darfur. But none of these have been named as genocide. Only the slaughter in Darfur has been named as genocide. So there is obviously a politics around this naming, and that's the politics that I was interested in.

What has the G8 accomplished in the last 2 years? As predicted, Death for Millions, not "Victory for Millions". 33rd verse, same as the first. Why G8 has failed the Afrikan continent:
So the reality is far from helping Africa the 2005 G8 summit failed to deliver on the promises made and as a result the African continent is even more exploited whilst the vast majority of its citizens live in inordinate poverty.

Relating to my earlier post, The Problem with Bill Gates' Philanthropy in Africa... comes Is Bill Gates Trying to Hijack Africa's Food Supply?:
Corporate foundations that have pledged millions believe that genetically altered crops will rescue Africa from endemic shortfalls in food production. Are they creating a 'green revolution' or hijacking the food supply?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Feeling Like a Victim, Acting Like a Perpetrator

We have learned about the cycles of abuse within families, about the way a child who is beaten and abused can grow up believing there are only two choices, victim and perpetrator, and can become an adult who feels like a victim while acting like a perpetrator.

But, somehow, as activists, we have failed to see the immense implications of that knowledge for the work of social change.

Over and over I see movements of liberation get stuck at the same place, the moment when we "other" the agents of our oppression, without trying to understand why they are as they are and how we can prevent more people being that way in the future. If we even begin to ask those questions, we are rapidly drawn to the places where we ourselves have been most deeply wounded.

In the exact place where it is most difficult to understand how anyone could do as our enemies have done, and still be human, in the exact moment when they cease to be our kin in our imaginations, is the place of greatest potential illumination.

From the forward to Power Under: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change

This is important for understanding how men, white people, Westerners, rich people are at once victims and perpetrators. Capitalism, patriarchy, war, racism, it all relies on one common value, which is the precise antithesis of equality: domination. This motif, "dominate or be dominated", runs throughout our lives and our history - we learn it at a very young age. But some groups, simply by virtue of their privileged social position or status, fall on the dominating side, while others fall on the dominated side. Most fall somewhere in between, as the quote above says, feeling "like a victim while acting like a perpetrator".

How can this understanding help our movements? What kinds of choices can we make in our personal, our political, and our social lives to overcome the whole structure, instead of simply trying to change our position within it?

Related Reads:

Hooray, I'm Human


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I've never been so happy to see the orange "Publish Post" button

Sunday, June 03, 2007

White Woman's Burden

Baby Skylar
Originally uploaded by NZJY

is to breed.

After all, we must save guys like this from their fear of a yellow/brown/black planet. Poor guys, hunkered in their bunkers, circling the wagons. Everyone's out to get them, you know. Especially white middle class women who are underutilizing their god-given fertility.

Not that we haven't heard this all before, of course. Don't you know we have a fertility crisis! Beware the coming demographic shift! White women, start your hormones. It's babymaking time.

To read: So You Want Me to Breed? in the Tyee, and Family Values: Made in America on RH Reality Check

Warning: the following may be considered frightening to white wealthy hetero christian male bigots, and their supporters, who fear losing their privilege above all else.

Sleeping, the sequel, originally uploaded by soleil.jones.

Originally uploaded by Soulfull

Originally uploaded by Renichil

Google Thinks I'm Spam

force-feeding at guantanamo
Originally uploaded by Natasha Mayers

Blogger won't let me publish anything. Here's what they say:

Your blog is locked
Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

I have to wait for a human being to review my blog before I can publish anything. WTF? I've had this blog for more than 2 years and now they think I'm spam? Their slogan should be "Blogger: driving you into the arms of Wordpress since 2005."

So in case you're wondering how you're reading this right now, and what's with the picture, I discovered I can still post through my flickr account. So, while you wait with bated breath until my next real post, enjoy the art show.