Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy 800 Birthday, Rumi

Today is the 800th anniversary of the birth of the great Sufi poet Rumi.

An interesting article on Rumi in Afghanistan here
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this.

Excerpt from Like This. Illustration by ERIK VILET, from Rending the Veil.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Troops refuse to fire in Rangoon - Possible army mutiny?

The best outcome we could hope for in Burma would probably be if the soldiers were won over. That would be in keeping with the peaceful Buddhist ideals. Whether or not this is a real possibility has been debated by many others far more knowledgeable than me, but the reality is nobody knows.

However, if this is true, it looks promising:
Reports from Rangoon suggest soldiers are mutinying. It is unclear the numbers involved. Reports cite heavy shooting in the former Burmese capital.

The organisation Helfen ohne Grenzen (Help without Frontiers) is reporting that "Soldiers from the 66th LID (Light Infantry Divison) have turned their weapons against other government troops and possibly police in North Okkalappa township in Rangoon and are defending the protesters. At present unsure how many soldiers involved."

Soldiers in Mandalay, where unrest has spread to as we reported this morning, are also reported to have refused orders to act against protesters.

Some reports claim that many soldiers remained in their barracks. More recent reports now maintain that soldiers from the 99th LID now being sent there to confront them.

Growing numbers of protestors are gathering in Rangoon, with 10,000 reported at the Traders Hotel and 50,000 at the Thein Gyi market. The police are reported to have turned water cannons against crowds at Sule Pagoda.

Many phone lines into the Burmese state have now been cut, mobile networks have been disabled and the national internet service provider has been taken off-line.

In a related development, an unverified report from cbox says:
Military sources in Rangoon are claiming that the regime's number two, General Maung Aye (right), has staged a coup against Than Shwe, and that his troops are now guarding Aung San Suu Kyi's home. A meeting between him and Suu Kyi is expected. Maung Aye is army commander-in-chief and a renowned pragmatist.

Lots more here or on the facebook group.

Winners of the "Latin America and the Millennium Development Goals" Journalism Awards

Daniel San Juan Tolentino dug his own grave. A pile of earth fell on him and buried him.
First Prize was awarded to this article on child labourers in Mexico. The quote is from one of the stories in the article, and refers to a 12-year old boy who was digging a ditch to prevent floods in the field where he worked. He was buried by an avalanche of mud.

None of the daily rituals carried out by 26-year-old biology student Flávia Santiago, who is seven months pregnant and anxiously awaiting the birth of her first child, was ever experienced by Nadja Batista Borges, 29, who dropped out of primary school in the third grade. She, too, is pregnant. But with her seventh child.

They probably love their babies equally. The difference lies in their addresses. Nadja lives in a 'favela' (shantytown) of Santo Amaro. Flávia lives with her husband in a comfortable apartment [in a well-off neighbourhood].
This quote is from the second place article about women and motherhood in Brazil, "Faces da maternidade" by Bruna Cabral and Mona Lisa Dourado, published in the Jornal do Commercio in Recife, Brazil.

"This kind of journalism, often consigned to the sidelines and neglected for obvious reasons, has shown its credentials and demonstrated that in Latin America, hidden behind more sensational reporting, there is this other kind, with a vocation for participating and a sense of its own usefulness," said one of the members of the jury. 466 articles were entered from 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The top five winners will be published in a book, and the top 3 also recieved cash prizes. More info on the competition here.

I tried to find more, but nothing much was available in English. I'd love to read the articles in full if they get translated. If anyone has more info or a link, please let me know!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Because War Just Isn't Enough...

As if invasion, occupation, destruction of infrastructure, unemployment, poverty, and displacement aren't enough... now they've got cholera, a truly horible and deadly disease.

You know, if the American military had any intention of actually trying to win "hearts and minds", they might consider nutritious food and clean water as a start, rather than, say, this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Shape of a Mother

The Shape of a Mother shows the beauty of the female form during and post pregnancy.
One day I sat in a restaurant in Anaheim, California eating breakfast, when a woman passed by my table with her infant carrier in tow. As she lifted it up to fit between the tables, her shirt raised and I saw that, although she was at a healthy weight and her body was fit, she had that same extra skin hanging around her belly that I do. It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society's greatest secrets...

I don't know about you but I think the photo on the right is absolutely gorgeous. You can see the life weight of her heavy breast and the aesthetic texture of her stretch marks. Whereas this photo is artistic, most of the other photos are more like snapshots. There are photos of lovely round bellies, babies, and stretch marks.

This is a very cool site. Check it out. Reminds me of another really interesting project which shows photographs of normal breasts (Obviously NSFW).

(Via Cranky Fitness)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Media Face Off: OJ Takes on the Jena Six

I watched television news this weekend. Typically I get my news online, or from a newspaper, but rarely from television. I think I forgot how limited and misleading TV news tends to be. I'm sure some experts have theories about why this is, but all I know is it is worse than print media.

I was shocked to see no coverage at all of the Jena 6.

So I thought I'd do a little experiment, to see whether the newsies think people are more interested in OJ Simpson, or in a new chapter in the ongoing struggle for African American civil rights.

Google News (which is a highly balanced aggregator of diverse sources), offers me 15,599 results for OJ Simpson.

How did the Jena 6 fare? Well, Google informs me there are 3,465 pieces. Apparently OJ's antics are just that much more interesting.

This of course should lead any thinking person to question why one is considered newsworthy and the other is not.

See my first Media Face Off: China's Stock Market vs. Migrant Workers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized: Tomorrow is World Carfree Day

Plan to be in Toronto this weekend? Check out the World Carfree Day festivities on Queen Street West.

Why not have a parking meter party around 1:00 pm? Here's how:
  • Scout out a parking spot where you'd like to spend the afternoon
  • Park your non-motorized "vehicle" (bike, trike, roller-skates, dinky-car etc.) along Queen West
  • Pay the meter: for $1.50 per hour the spot is yours! (Be sure to display your parking receipt on the "dash" of your "vehicle")
Or, go a-paradin' at 6:00. Meet at 5:00 at Trinity-Bellwoods park. One tip: I don't suggest driving down to the parade (or if you have no other method of transportation, why not consider one of these).

More festivities on Sunday. Details here and here

If you feel so inclined check out these related links:

Do Motorists in the US Pay Their Own Way? No. They are subsidized by taxpayers. Check out the UC Davis study (PDF) that proves it. Bookmark it for use the next time some taxpaying motorist complains about subsidizing public transit.

And, yes, it is within our power to create carfree cities. Don't believe me? Check out the book that proves it.

Today is also Park(ing) Day. Who knew? A whole day in which parking spaces are transformed into parks. Like this on a larger scale. Sweet.

And next time you get into a car by yourself, for goodness sakes, check the passenger seat. Darn evil dictators, always bumming a ride!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why I Am Not an Objectivist, #2311

Ayn Rand on the theft of Native American Lands:
They didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using . . . . What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their 'right' to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent. <Lawyers, Gun$ and Money>

Hmm... Greenspan hearts Rand. Probably thinks they Iraqis live like animals in caves, too. Which is why the civilized Americans need to liberate their oil. Well, as long as we are all as selfish and greedy as possible, it will all work out in the end, right? ...right?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Politics of Solidarity: Six Nations, Leadership, and the Settler Left

The European settlers who colonized most of North America, were themselves uprooted from the land through capitalist enclosure and the commodification of land and labour – a process later exported to the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the rest of the world. By becoming small farmers and independent commodity producers in the early stages of Canadian development, poor and working class settlers in North America clearly benefited from the theft of indigenous lands. However, over the past 100 years, capitalism has extended and intensified its reach. Non-native people have become increasingly concentrated in large cities (Canada has the most urbanized population per capita in the world) and have been integrated into the capitalist system as workers. Because of the inherently exploitative dynamics of capitalism, workers in North America have faced a decline in living standards since the neo-liberal offensive of the late 1970s.

As William Robinson has argued, the contemporary resurgence of indigenous struggle in the Americas is happening as the few remaining autonomous indigenous communities are being forced into compliance with the demands of capitalist world market. This market seeks to commodify their labour and their land. At the same time, it seeks to drive down living standards and commodify the lives of non-native people as well. These pressures are just as evident on the Haldimand tract as they are in Canada's far north, in the mountains of Chiapas, or in the jungles of the Amazon. Traditional indigenous resistance to enclosure and commodification is increasingly assuming a directly anti-capitalist character. When this resistance takes place in large urban areas where a relatively small proportion of settlers directly occupy the land in question, new opportunities for joint struggles arise. Doing this kind of work will not be easy. Building radical organizations and combating white racism within predominantly white communities, workplaces, and political organization will be particularly hard. But it remains necessary task as a pre-condition to building meaningful solidarity with indigenous struggles.

Read this article by Tom Keefer via Whenua, Fenua, Enua, Vanua (originally published here), discussing how non-native activists can support indigenous struggles, like that of the Six Nations reclamation in Caledonia, breaking away from the "leadership" model, and turning towards work within our own comminities as well as alliances with indigenous communities. It is a long article, but worth the read.

U.S. War resisters in Canada need our help

We Canadians love nothing better than watching and criticizing American politics and foreign policy. It's practically our national pastime.

Nearly all of us oppose the Iraq invasion and occupation, but we feel helpless to do anything. As non-consistuents, we have no representative or senator to call. Inhabiting a different geography, we cannot easily participate in anti-war demonstrations. There is, however, something we can do, and that is to support the war resisters looking for asylum in Canada.

A couple hundred AWOL GI's are currently living in Canada. They are from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Many of them served one tour in Iraq and then refused to go back again. Instead, they and their families have moved to Canada. With the support of many Canadians, they are struggling to create a home for themselves and a sanctuary for war resisters.

Nearly fifty of the resisters have asked Canadian authorities to allow them to remain in Canada as political refugees. They strongly believe they are doing the right thing by refusing to fight in an illegal war. They look to UN refugee law, which states that soldiers should be considered as refugees if they face persecution for refusing to fight in wars that are "widely condemned by the international community as contrary to standards of human conduct."

These absentee GI's are upholding the Nuremberg Principles, which were adopted as U.S. law after World War II. By refusing to fight in illegal wars or to commit war crimes, they are exercising their rights and responsibilities as soldiers.

So far, the war resisters' refugee claims have been rejected by the political appointees on Canada's refugee boards, who say that war resisters had legal avenues in the U.S. they could have pursued. They say that prosecution for being AWOL does not amount to "persecution." They are reluctant to call the U.S. war "illegal."

But the war resisters are fighting for their rights and for international law. They are appealing in Canada's federal court system. The first two U.S. war resisters to apply for refugee status, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear their appeals. Their lawyer, Jeffry House, is optimistic that the Supreme Court will overturn the negative decisions of the refugee board and the lower courts that have upheld them. In November, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the war resisters' appeals.
<Read the Whole Article & Watch the Video>

Tell the Canadian government: Let them stay!

Contact both Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, Diane Finley to request that they make a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Fax: 613-941-6900

Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley
Phone: 613-954-1064
(between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)

For more information or to donate to the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada, visit their website at

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back to School in Iraq

This article Back to School, Back to Horror offers a good opportunity to compare some lifestyle differences between the invaders vs. the invadees, occupiers vs. occupied.

While American kids are getting settled in their new classes, probably after going on a shopping spree, Iraqi kids are also going back to school.
With the security situation grimmer than ever all over the country, just stepping out of one’s house means a serious threat to life.

"God knows how we could send our kids to school this year," Um Mohammed, a mother of five in Baghdad told IPS. "Our financial situation is the worst ever and the prices are way too expensive for the majority of Iraqis to afford. I might have to keep some of them at home and send only two."

The 40-year-old woman shed tears when she started to talk about the family’s financial now compared to what it was before the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"My God, don’t those Americans have any conscience? We were not rich before, but life was easy and we used to celebrate the school season, watching our kids trying their uniform on and looking at the colourful pictures of their new books," she said.

Now, the state of American public education is somewhere between adequate and dismal (depending on which school district you look at), something for which there is no excuse in the richest country in the world. Iraqis face infinitely more challenges:

"The educational system in Iraq is destroyed and we are suffering all kinds of difficulties," said Hassan, a school headmaster in Baghdad who spoke on condition that his last name and the name of his school would not be used. "There will be a shortage of desks, blackboards, water, electricity and all educational supplies – as well as a critical shortage in the number of teachers this year."

Teachers, like other Iraqis, have fled the country because of threats from sectarian death squads. Some were evicted from their areas and moved to others inside Iraq for sectarian reasons.

According to Iraq's Ministry of Higher Education, as of February 2006, nearly 180 professors were killed and at least 3,250 have fled Iraq to the neighbouring countries. The situation has deteriorated severely since then.

Many children in the USA have little more to worry about than studying and socializing, with puberty and various crushes thrown into the mix for older kids. This is enough for any kid to deal with, and many American kids have other concerns on top of these: learning disabilities, bullying, child abuse, incest, family violence, gang violence, poverty, racial or ethnic discrimination, social exclusion, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, pressure to succeed... it goes on. Is it any wonder that kids have a lot on their mind and often experience mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or hyperactivity?

Now imagine life as a school-age child in Iraq.
According to an Oxfam International report released in July, "92 percent of children had learning impediments that are largely attributable to the current climate of fear."

The report added, "Schools are regularly closed as teachers and pupils are too fearful to attend. Over 800,000 children may now be out of school, according to a recent estimate by Save the Children UK -- up from 600,000 in 2004."

Photo from War News Radio

More on Children in Iraq

Other recent interesting posts on back-to-school: Surveillance, Control and the First Day of School and School, Take Four...

And speaking of school, instead of blogging, I should really be reading right now (Revolutionary Terrorism: The FLN in Algeria, 1954-1962)... time to get back to it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who's Got Our Oil?

We may never solve the riddle of why God put our oil under their sand, but at least we know how to get it back. After all, if God didn't want us invading, slaughtering, and destroying resource-rich countries, he wouldn't have given us such a powerful military-industrial complex.

It may not be that accurate (Canada is so small - I assume tar sands aren't included) but this world map is a very special world map. It tells us
who has our oil.

That means this Very Special Map can tell the future. In a simple visual display of colour and shape, it shows us which countries we needs under our control. The bigger the chunk of map, the sooner we'll invade (unless other arrangements are made).

Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada (along with three other good old-fashioned white colonial settler nations: USA, Australia & New Zealand) voted no. 143 other countries voted yes, so it passed anyways.

Wait... we voted no? To a non-binding declaration?

Yup, that's right: "No rights for you!"

Um. What gives the Canadian state the right to dictate who get rights anyways?

JJ is right, it is embarrassing, but unsurprising.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Petreus Antidote: Amazing Mini Documentary The Ghost of Anbar

After the Petreus report, I definitely recommend watching these rather intense clips from Big Noise Films.

The Ghost of Anbar
From an expose on the new American strategy in Iraq, this video examines whether the controversial US policy of joining forces with Sunni tribes in Iraq's volatile al-Anbar province has worked, and who is paying the price. Each clip is just over 10 minutes, and well worth the time.

Particularly distressing was the part where they go to a Shiite informal refugee camp (read: slum) on the outskirts of Baghdad. Many of these refugees are from Anbar, and were forced out of their homes by the same Sunni tribes allied with the Americans. Because it is considered too dangerous for international media, theirs was the first camera to film in this neighbourhood.

Part 1:

Part 2:

You can also watch some of this over at Democracy Now (click here to launch segment in Real Player, as well as an interview with Rick Rowley, one of the reporters, to put it all in context.

Monday, September 10, 2007

On Torture

Today, while reading this article, published in the 70s, I started thinking about torture as it is practiced by the US in places like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. We usually think of it as a method of extracting information, since that is what they lead us to believe. The debate about this interrogational torture revolves around questions like: are the acts of torture morally justified, when considering the importance of the information sought? Some of us say no, some say yes.

Torture's real purpose, however, instead of or in addition to the purpose of extracting information, can better be described as terroristic. That is, it primarily functions to intimidate "people other than the victim". In other words, there's a message being broadcast to actual or potential enemies: Don't Fuck with Us.

There are few, if any, clear cases of a regime's voluntarily renouncing terror after having created, through terror, a situation in which terror was no longer needed. And there is considerable evidence of the improbability of this sequence. Terroristic torture tends to become, according to Amnesty International, "administrative practice": a routine procedure institutionalized into the method of governing. Some bureaus collect taxes, other bureaus conduct torture. First a suspect is arrested, next he or she is tortured. Torture gains the momentum of an ingrained element of a standard operating procedure.

Several factors appear to point in the direction of permanence. From the perspective of the victim, even where the population does not initially feel exploited, terror is very unsuitable to the generation of loyalty. This would add to the difficulty of transition away from reliance on terror. Where the population does feel exploited even before the torture begins, the sense of outrage (which is certainly rationally justified toward the choice of victims, as we have see) could often prove stronger than the fear of suffering. Tragically, any unlikelihood that the terroristic torture would "work" would almost guarantee that it would continue to be used. From the perspective of the torturers, it is rare for any entrenched bureau to choose to eliminate itself rather than to try to prove its essential value and the need for its own expansion. This is especially likely if the members of the operation are either thoroughly cynical or thoroughly sincere in their conviction that they are protecting "national security" or some other value taken to be supremely important. The greater burden of proof rests, I would think, on anyone who believes that controllable terroristic torture is possible.

Henry Shue, "Torture", Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Winter, 1978), pp. 124-143.

World's Smallest Cars

Of course, I prefer no cars at all, but failing that, and all other things being equal, smaller is better.

Here are many teeny weeny itsy bitsy street legal cars.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Uganda: Women Start Own Bank, Building on their Savings Group

I first read about these savings groups in a very cool book: Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World. Sometimes known as a merry-go-rounds or savings circles, these grassroots groups build on both the self-help and cooperative models.

Here's an example of how they can work: a group of neighbourhood women get together and they each contribute a small amount on a regular basis (say, a dollar a week) to the pot. Then at a predetermined period of time, say, each week, one woman gets the entire pot. She can use this money to pay for her kids' school, to improve her (usually self-built) home, pay off debts, to purchase materials for a small business, or whatever else she may need. The next week, the next woman in line gets the pot. And it keeps going around and around, meaning each woman can rely on a tidy sum of money a couple of times a year.

Recently, in Uganda, one of these groups, grown too large to handle the savings circle model, expanded to something resembling a community bank.

It started five years ago as Nigiina, a village group where women meet, discuss development issues, party and exchange gifts on a merry-go-round basis.

Bukesa Women Kwagalana Group has since graduated into something more serious - a village bank with 320 'shareholders'. <>

A 320-member women’s merry-go round group, (Nigiina), is in the process of transforming itself into a Savings & Credit Cooperative (SACCO).

The group started five years ago as a gift-giving group.

Every week, they would come together, deposit money or gifts in a pool and give it to a member. But as the group grew, the members had the good sense to realise their business model had limitations.

For starters, the bigger the group grew, the longer the intervals between gifting for a member. Secondly, it was only a matter of time before differences of opinion about how to employ the monies tore the group apart.

In a SACCO, there are well laid out rules and procedures for how surpluses are created and spent. <New Vision>

Yep, good thing they have us, those helpless women, those Africans, those Third-Worlders.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

ID/ Creationist Bingo

First, print this card:

...check off a square every time the relevant dopey argument is presented. You win when you have a straight line of five - horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The "JOKER" square can either be a free square, or you can reserve it for any new ludicrous argument presented (as long as it is presented with total sincerity), or any argument [you've] missed.
From Skeptico via Friendly Athiest

What do you think? Can we play it with John Tory? Ooh, or turn it into a drinking game?

Madeleine L’Engle, Writer of Children’s Classics, Is Dead at 88

As a confirmed bookworm and serious child-nerd, who frequently found herself in the quandary of no-new-books-to-read, I re-read my favourite books over and over... and over and over. Several of Madeleine L'Engle's books fell into this group of well-loved stories, including of course the famous Wrinkle in Time. Filled with science, magic, space and time, and children coming of age, her books spoke both to my natural curiosity and to my growing emotional complexity.
Madeleine L'Engle, who in writing more than 60 books, including childhood fables, religious meditations and science fiction, weaved emotional tapestries transcending genre and generation, died Thursday in Connecticut. She was 88.
Her works - poetry, plays, autobiography and books on prayer - were deeply, quixotically personal. But it was in her vivid children's characters that readers most clearly glimpsed her passionate search for the questions that mattered most. She sometimes spoke of her writing as if she were taking dictation from her subconscious.
The "St. James Guide to Children's Writers" called Ms. L'Engle "one of the truly important writers of juvenile fiction in recent decades." Such accolades did not come from pulling punches: "Wrinkle" is one of the most banned books because of its treatment of the deity.
The book used concepts that Ms. L'Engle said she had plucked from Einstein's theory of relativity and Planck's quantum theory, almost flaunting her frequent assertion that children's literature is literature too difficult for adults to understand. She also characterized the book as her refutation of ideas of German theologians.
<The New York Times>

Friday, September 07, 2007

The American Ruling Class

If you haven't read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, get thee to the library or bookstore, posthaste!

Or, you can watch the soon to be released film The American Ruling Class, a "dramatic-documentary-musical" (starring Harper's Magazine's Lewis Lapham).

The film's best moment comes with a Barbara Ehreneich interview. In the late 90s Ehrenreich went undercover to take on various low-wage jobs (waitress, hotel chambermaid among them) and then report on how difficult it was to live on those earnings. She discusses her findings here, which culminate in a full-blown musical number, in which employees sing about being nickel-and-dimed. The scene is divine madness. <Mathew Hays, Montreal Mirror>

Check out the clip:

And it includes a modified version of this passage from the book (as previously quoted here):
The ‘working poor’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Silly Monkeys!

Oops, our face is sure red!
An Air Force B-52 bomber flew over the heartland last week with six nuclear-armed cruise missiles attached to its wings. The pilots and crew evidently had no clue what they were carrying. Nor did the munitions crew that accidentally loaded the missiles. No one noticed that six nuclear warheads were missing for more than 12 hours. And of course the American public didn't know what was happening until now.

You know, they'd have a lot better chance of convincing us that Iran is the danger if they were more careful with their toys.

... just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mud Pies: Haitian Staple Food

This is dinner in Cité Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Do you remember playing in the mud as a child, making scrumptious mud pies? All that playing would make you hungry, so you'd go inside for lunch. Well, in Haiti, the mud pies are lunch.

People eat the mud pies, known as teh, to help quiet their excrutiating hunger pangs. You can watch a one-minute video of the mud pies being made here, although there seems to be some misinterpretation - the commentator opines it is a craving for something in the mud, not hunger, that drives people to eat it. But John Carrol, a doctor working in Haiti, says starvation is the main cause, although Pica, which occurs sometimes with iron deficiency anemia, may also be present.

You can read more about the mud pies on John Carrol's blog, Dying in Haiti or listen to this podcast (around 12 minutes), where Darren Ell interviews him about health in Haiti.

Something else that is very disturbing is the high rate of maternal mortality - 523 women die for every 100,000 who give birth. Most women give birth without a doctor or midwife, many completely alone.

Haiti's history is terribly sad. Christopher Columbus "discovered" it in 1492, and soon after, Europeans completely killed the indigenous population, in one of the worst genocides ever. Then it was repopulated, primarily by African slaves. Most Haitians are descendants of those slaves, who overthrew their French masters in the Haitian Revolution in 1804. Unfortunately this did not end colonial intervention. I recommend A People's History of the United States for more background.

The election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide offered a ray of hope for the poorest in Haiti, that sadly did not last, due to the US-backed coup and kidnapping of Aristide. Canada, too, was and is involved. Haiti continues to experience extreme poverty and repression. You can read about Canada's role here, or check out Znet's Haiti Watch.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reloaded: Older Posts Worth Reading

Spent the last true day of summer over on Toronto Island. Now I'm sitting here, slightly sunburned, drinking a glass of raspberry wine (yum) and catching up on my reading. Definitely to check out... Reloaded: a carnival of older posts collected over at One Tenacious Baby Mama. I always like to find new bloggers to read, so this was a real treat.

Sunday 2, 2007

In addition to my post "The Good Life and The Economy" check out:

Mommy On The Floor's "The City On The Hill"

Second Waver's
"The Male Gaze, postscript"

Universal Plume's "It's Blog For Loving Yourself Day"

Seminalson's "I'm A Fragile Being: Touch In My Men's Group"

Risa's "You Want Cream In That?"

All About My Vagina's
"Please call it 'Sex Safety'"

Darkdaughta's "Race, Class and Everyday Shite", "Western Civilization...A History of Emotional Dysfunction", "My Daughter Wants A Barbie", "Mission Not Accomplished...Sort of"
and "Does He Wipe His Track Makin' Ass With Moist Towelettes?"
Reloaded will be happening every Sunday and if you have an old post you'd like to see recirculated, contact Dark Daughta.