A.R.T. puts Bush impeachment back on the table

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Feminist Peace Network discussion list:

A.R.T. stands for “Activist Response Team,” which consists in large part of
feminist artists. Here is their press release of the stunning event they
pulled off in the Hart Senate Office Building. Check out the photograph of
the 3-story long banners they unfurled at: http://bloggy.com/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS – WE WILL NOT BE SILENT

Multiple actions occurred in the early afternoon today inside the Hart
Senate Office Building. Eight New York activists were among the 15 plus arrested.

TODAY, APRIL 26, 2007, A.R.T.* OCCUPIED THE HALLS OF CONGRESS IN A DRAMATIC TWO-PART ACTION.

First, in a massive distribution, A.R.T. hand-delivered a 20-page tabloid
petition to every representative. It contained documentary evidence for
indictments, literally putting impeachment back on the table.

Then, at 1PM, in a spectacular visual feat, A.R.T displayed the full text of
Article II, Section 4 to the Senate (allows for impeachment) as a 30-foot
banner drop in the Hart Office Building atrium. A second 30-foot banner read
“YOUR SILENCE YOUR LEGACY”. Organizers said, “We must magnify the refusal of Congress to uphold the Constitution. Their silence equals complicity in the flagrant crimes of this administration.”

Contact: *A.R.T. (Activist Response Team)
email: stateofemergencyaction@gmail.com

Women, Peace & Security

Wanna talk Afghanistan? Remember, we were told that Canada was going into the Middle East to help the women. Well, if we’re still in there to give peace and security to the women of Afghanistan and their families, then I think everyone should read this and then read UNIFEM’s annotated version. If we’re not there to do that then whose peace and whose security are we working towards?

Fire the Wolf

From the inbox:

Dear Avaaz Member,

The battle for the Presidency of the World Bank is coming to a climax, and it’s a replay of the Iraq war: George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz vs the World. The world is on the verge of winning this time — and we can help tip the balance.

On Monday Wolfowitz will testify before the Bank Board. At the same time, Bush will meet with European leaders to decide his fate. We need one last push to build our petition before we deliver it on Monday. Click below to sign it and pass it on to 5 friends:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/sack_wolfowitz

Our YouTube campaign against Wolfowitz’s misleadership of the Bank has gone viral with over 100,000 views, and has been covered by USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Guardian (UK). World Bank staff have also been circulating it on their internal staff lists.

All the pressure is working. Governments around the world, the World Bank Staff Association, even Wolfowitz’s own deputies believe he should resign. The World Bank is far from perfect. Some of its policies have helped alleviate poverty; others have made things worse. But fixing it is urgently important for the world’s poor — and no progress is possible so long as Wolfowitz is in charge.

Let’s win this one. Sign the petition, and send it to five of your friends. It’s time to show Bush that the world won’t stand for Wolfowitz to stay.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/sack_wolfowitz

With hope,

Ben, Galit, Ricken, and the rest of the Avaaz team

PS: For more information about the Wolfowitz case and the facts mentioned in this email, check out our blog

Lawyers Against the War Letter to ICC

An excerpt from Lawyers Against the War’s Letter to the International Criminal Court dated 25 April 2007

Re. War crimes and the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in
Afghanistan

We write to draw your attention to possible war crimes committed with respect to the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in Afghanistan. In
particular, we request that you open a preliminary examination under Article
15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to determine
whether there are reasonable bases to investigate Mr. Gordon O’Connor, the
Canadian Minister of National Defence, and General Rick Hillier, the
Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff.

Specifically, we are concerned that Mr. O’Connor and General Hillier have:
1. Chosen to allow detainees to be transferred to the custody of Afghan
authorities despite an apparent risk of torture and other forms of abuse;
2. Chosen not to take reasonable and readily apparent steps to protect
detainees against torture and other forms of abuse—for instance, by
seeking a renegotiation of the December 2005 Canada-Afghanistan
Detainee Transfer Arrangement to bring it into line with pre-existing
Denmark-Afghanistan, UK-Afghanistan and Netherlands-Afghanistan
agreements, and now, following credible reports of the torture of
transferred detainees, by ceasing any further transfers.

Read the full letter here.

What is Stephen Harper reading?

I’ve been away and I’m back to an inbox overflowing with goodies. The following, by Yann Martel, caught my eye and will be a website to watch over the next while.

What is Stephen Harper reading?

By Yann Martel
whatisstephenharperreading.ca
April 14, 2007

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.

http://whatisstephenharperreading.ca/index.html

 

The story behind the website: http://whatisstephenharperreading.ca/the_story_behind_this_website.html


Unused Utes Unite

If BP says so, it must be true!

So, on Sunday be sure to celebrate

International Day of the Unused Uterus

To commemorate the International Day of the Unused Uterus, there will be candlelight vigils at maternity wards around the world. Demonstrators will symbolically shut their vaginas by applying an X made of duct tape to the crotch of their pants. (Heavy denim recommended.)

Please take part in the International Day of the Unused Uterus: she is counting on you to speak up for her!

Action: Ceasefire

From the inbox:

Prime Minister Harper,

I am deeply saddened by the news that six Canadian soldiers have died during a military offensive in Afghanistan. This brings the total number of Canadian soldiers killed to 51 since the invasion in 2001, and 43 of those deaths occurred in only the last fourteen months.

I do not support this military role for Canada, and urge your government to pursue a diplomatic solution to end the war as quickly as possible.

Add your name.

Rape of Student Activist Spoofed at UWO paper

This makes me sick.  It’s probably old news, but it’s news that shouldn’t slip by anyone.  Our culture is teaching potential journalists to belittle a serious crime.  May the young woman and her friends be safe and strong and may the young men learn to show more respect to women.

Here are some press releases to get you up to speed on some of the

scary stuff that’s going down right now on the UWO campus — and the

Miss G__ Project is at the front lines of the battle (which, by the

way, we’re totally winning ;) , as one of our most prominent members,

Jenna Owsianik, was directly targeted in this attack.You can take immediate action by writing letters to the Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette Ian Van Den Hurk at editor.gazette@uwo.ca, the UWO Students’ Council President Fab Dolan at usc.president@uwo.ca, theUWO President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Davenport, at pdavenpo@uwo.ca,and UWO Equity Services at equity@uwo.ca.

Thank you for your time and support, and we appreciate your help in

passing this information on to your contacts and networks!

In solidarity,

Laurel Mitchell

Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator

PS More information and recent updates can be found at

http://soapboxspinster.blogspot.com.

Western Students Up in Arms After Campus Newspaper “Spoofs” the Rape of Student Activist

LONDON, ON – April 8, 2007 – Many students at the University of

Western Ontario are up in arms about an article published on March

30th by the daily campus newspaper, The Gazette, as part of its annual

Spoof Issue. The article depicts the London police chief (who is

explicitly named) dragging a prominent member of the UWO Women’s

Issues Network (WIN), depicted under the pseudonym “Jennifer Ostrich,”

into an alley to rape her to “teach [her] a lesson.”

The article, titled “Labia Majora Carnage,” was published

anonymously under the pseudonym, “Xavier.”

Students angry and offended by the article have been mobilizing

through letter writing campaigns to The Gazette Editor-in-Chief Ian

Van Den Hurk, the university, and the media, and through a protest

held on campus last Thursday.

Some students have also written to Police Chief Murray Faulkner to

ask him to make a public statement about his portrayal in the article

and his stance on violence against women. Faulkner couldn’t be reached

for comment.

Most students believe “Jennifer Ostrich” to be a caricature of

Jenna Owsianik, chair of the Western chapter of the feminist group The

Miss G__ Project and an active member of WIN. She has also been vocal

about criticizing The Gazette, and in the October issue of the

Grapevine (another campus publication at Western), Owsianik wrote

about what she sees as The Gazette’s tradition of “negative sexual

stereotypes and sexist attitudes” — and cataloged the offenses.

In addition to being angry and upset, Owsianik is disappointed that

this is the response to her criticisms and to the challenge she issued

to The Gazette and all student journalists in the Grapevine article

“to be more responsible.” Though she’s not terribly surprised – The

Gazette has been brushing off her criticisms and making fun of her and

other WIN members all year – the severity and violence of this article

still shocked and terrified her.

“I feel like I was raped by that article,” Owsianik said candidly.

The article also satirizes “Katie Conservative,” a pretty clear

allusion to WIN Internal Relations Manager and active UWO Conservative

Association member Kathryn Mitrow, who says that she is “appalled and

ashamed” by The Gazette’s actions.

In a letter to the editor published in the April 5 edition of The

Gazette, graduate student Corey Katz takes issue with the Spoof

Issue’s jokes about rape, violence against women and homosexuality.

“These jokes are used every day to justify violence against women and

queer people. How many jokes like these has someone read, heard,

laughed at or told before they’re able to overcome their conscience

enough to rape or assault someone?”

Recent UWO alumna and Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator Sheetal Rawal

also thinks that the targeting of Owsianik in this article is a way to

silence activism about women’s issues on Western’s campus.

“For The Gazette to level a threat of rape at a student activist on

campus, one who has had the courage to speak out against the shocking

misogyny, homophobia, racism in the paper, as away to “teach [her] a

lesson,” is highly irresponsible of a campus newspaper and absolutely

unacceptable,” Rawal said. “This is hate speech.”

Rawal also said that she is “embarrassed” that, between this and

other events like the “Saugeen Stripper” issue last year, Western is

coming to known for its rape culture. “I refuse to allow for my degree

to read “Rapist University,”” she said.

Not all students are upset about it though, and even some of those who

are continue defend The Gazette’s right to publish articles like this

under freedom of speech.

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental pillar of our society, even if

we don’t like it,” Western student Noah Desjardins wrote on the

discussion board of a Facebook group created around this issue. “Any

restrcitions placed on it lead to a slippery slope of censorship.”

Western student Fiona Martin thinks that freedom of speech should

have its limits though.

“The debate continues on whether jokes against feminism are funny.

Some people think they are, some don’t. What is not funny is the

verbal attack against specific people that The Gazette article made.

That is hate speech,” she wrote on the discussion board.

So far, The Gazette’s only official response to the backlash from

the Spoof Issue has been “get over yourself.” In an April 4 editorial

they defend the “satire” of the issue, writing that those offended

should “know a joke when they see one.”

However, several students have been demanding more extreme action,

including calling for Van Den Hurk’s resign and the withdrawal of

student funding (through the University Students’ Council) to The

Gazette.

Student Kate Barthes suggests that The Gazette’s funding be revoked

for one year, to match the USC’s actions against the Society for

Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) when it was accused of hate speech

last year.

Throughout all this, Owsianik has been told by several people to

‘take a joke.’

“That article was about me getting raped and liking it,” she said.

“When you live your life in my body and experience the violence that

my body has felt, then you can tell me if satirical intention merits a

diffused reaction,” she said.

Controversy is continuing to dog the University of Western Ontario’s

student run newspaper The Gazette

LONDON,ON. April 9,2007 – Each year the University of Western

Ontario’s student newspaper, The Gazette, publishes a spoof edition

which is released on April 1st. This years’ edition targeted women,

and in particular, groups who advocate women’s issues on campus.

The article in question, titled “Labia Majora Carnage”

depicts a supposedly satirical portrayal of the Take Back the Night

rally. The author, who refuses to be identified, laces this ‘humorous’

article with vulgar depictions of women and sexually suggestive

themes. In it, known UWO activists are alluded to in morphed

characterizations.

Current London Police Services Chief Murray Faulkiner

is named in the article. Chief Faulkiner is described “…greasing his

nightstick”. The author adds: “He [Chief Faulkiner] grabbed the

loudspeaker from Ostrich’s wild vagina and took it into a dark alley

to teach it a lesson.”

The Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk, responded

citing Freedom of Speech and re enforced that the article was intended

to be humorous and instead of apologizing he called the complaintifs

“convoluted” and told them to “get-over” themselves.

Outraged students have taken several steps to air their

frustration with the student-funded Gazette’s article that was neither

factual, newsworthy, nor relevant to the Gazette’s mandate.

“Ian Van Den Hurk must be reminded that the Gazette is

published and supported with student fees appropriated by the UWO

University Students’ Council,” said Kate Bartz, former President of

the Women’s Studies Student Council.

Kathryn Mitrow, who is a member of the Women’s Issues

Network at UWO stated:

“Such an attack and slanderous piece of writing has no place

appearing in a newspaper funded by and supported by students.”

Van Den Hurk’s personal web-blog featuring many sexualized

themes can be viewed at: http://hurk.blogspot.com/