Some Poetry & Some Politics

I was pleased to find some political poetry, specifically about Fukushima today.  It’s fitting for this blog, anyway.  An excerpt:

 

Fukushima Man

by Jon Rappoport

So there I was
in one of those giant discount stores
trying on a new pair of pants in the dressing room

a cool neutral voice said
“changing your underwear is politics
and by the way when was the last time
you cut your toenails
wearing or not wearing a watch is politics
that mole near your left knee is political
the calcium deposit on your right ankle is political
the way you look at yourself in the mirror is political
those three years of your life in the 60s we can’t account for
are political”

The curtain brushed aside and a tall naked woman walked in
she ran a black instrument over the new pants
-a loud buzz-
“they’re radioactive,” she said “testicular cancer in three months
try the pink drawstring sweat pants instead”
she withdrew

the neutral voice picked up…
“you’re a month late on your appointment for a dental cleaning
you haven’t changed your oil in a year
your health plan will be canceled next week”

Read the full poem.

 

I can only imagine the fear people living in Japan might feel as a result of the Fukushima disaster.  No one can be happy about the dangers of removing the fuel rods, either.  The second in Reactor 4 pool will be removed today.  No one’s really talking about it. And no one’s really talking about the disaster and the plume that’s making its way to North America.  There seems to be a media blackout. Perhaps, now that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is there, we’ll hear more.

A team of 19 experts from the IAEA and other bodies will tour the plant on Wednesday and evaluate Tepco’s fuel extraction process at the No. 4 reactor and its handling of contaminated water. It concludes its review on Dec 4.

“They must look into Tepco’s overall management of the site,” Masashi Goto, a retired Toshiba’ nuclear engineer and critic of Tepco. “They shouldn’t just look at each little issue. They should look at the organizational challenges at Tepco that have created the recent string of incidents.”

I hope we hear more about creating a nuclear-free world where disasters such as this can never take place.  Going with alternative energy sources would be a wise start.

Renewable energy could change the energy business. While some large-scale organizations will always be part of the energy industry, we are seeing the start of decentralized, distributed generation of energy. Although the conventional wisdom tells us that solar power, battery technology, and smart grids are far in the future, we are only a breakthrough or two away from a new age of decentralized energy technology. While none of us can predict the future, and technological breakthroughs cannot be assumed, the risk of nuclear power is not difficult to predict.

The price of solar energy continues to come down, as the number of solar cells continues to grow. Breakthroughs in nanotechnology have the potential to shrink the size of these cells, making it possible to imagine smaller, more inexpensive installations of solar arrays. While some of the discussion of solar technology imagines utility-scale centralized power stations, my own view is that improved solar cells coupled with improved battery technology makes it possible to imagine a far more decentralized approach to energy generation.

Let’s do it, ok?

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

“other people’s shit on their heads”

Thanks to Purple Library Guy over at POGGE for the link to a powerful new Arundhati Roy interview at Zmag.org.  I admire Roy’s activism particularly in that she isn’t afraid to speak truth or, if she is, she doesn’t hold back from speaking it.

On India’s Growing Violence: ‘It’s Outright War and Both Sides are Choosing Their Weapons’

Arundhati Roy interviewed by Shoma Chaudhury

You have been traveling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?

Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, MNCs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some fucking superpower this.

Police Brutality: IWD March, Montreal

from the inbox:

For Immediate Release

Montreal 9 March 2007
Police brutality mars Women’s Day Celebration in Montreal
Police Assault women at International Women’s Day March

Yesterday, as Montrealers, along with many around the world celebrated
International Women’s Day – the event was marred by police brutality in
which three young women were assaulted, injured and traumatized. Among the
issues that were brought up during the speeches at Montreal’s women’s day
march was that in Iran women were prevented from celebrating international
women’s day. And women in Pakistan were also attacked yesterday in a
women’s day event. Yesterday’s events make ensure Montreal shares this
distinction!

Marchers celebrating International Women’s Day had walked from Place
Emilie Gamelin (Berri Square) to Phillips Square, along Ste-Catherine
Street. After speeches they made their way back to Berri Square. The
police made an announcement asking people to walk on the sidewalk. Jaggi
Singh, who had been one of many male supporters among the 200 strong
celebrating international women’s day moved onto the sidewalk. The others
continued marching in the street. Police officers began to rush towards
Singh, still walking on the sidewalk. They grabbed him and threw him
against a nearby police car.

Other marchers gathered around the car out of concern for the violent way
in which police were intervening. Police began hitting and pushing people
indiscriminately. Several people were knocked to the ground with batons
and night sticks. Emma Strople, a 17 year old marcher, was hit in the
chest with the end of a night stick and thrown to the ground, by an
officer later identified as Doyon. Her ribs were bruised, she was winded,
trembling from shock and her knee was cut open enough that the blood
seeped through her jeans. Two other women were also injured – one woman’s
lips and mouth were swollen and bleeding, from being punched in the face
by a police officer; another left with cuts on her knee and stomach. The
police showed a total disregard for the injuries mounting around them.
They placed Jaggi Singh in the police car and began to leave. The
marchers that remained left by Berri Metro.

The 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins, one of the key groups
involved in the march strongly denounces last night’s police brutality
yesterday and the arrest of Singh. Are we to go back to the time when
women in Canada were not considered ‘persons’? When women were to be seen
and not heard? In Quebec today on the eve of an election we have seen
how violence against women is still something that is trivialized,
including by those that seek to represent us in the democratic system.
Yesterday’s police attack on women and their allies proves that even
those who are supposed to be the guardians of the law and ensure gender
equality, see women as people to be controlled with the threat and the use
of violence. Women, as we struggle for equality are facing a backlash. How
can we feel safe when the police themselves exhibit the violence that is
endemic to patriarchy?

More than ever the police brutality of yesterday demonstrates that we
have a long way to go; that women’s struggles for equality that have
always linked to improving the lives of our families and communities,
ensuring democratic processes of equality and participation of ALL in the
political process are constantly BLOCKADED by the state and its
representatives. How can women seek assistance against the violence in
their lives when those entrusted with their safekeeping are perpetrators
of brutality and violence?

Last night’s police violence is shameful and fearful. We demand that the
City of Montreal and the government of Quebec immediately investigate the
assaults and arrest of yesterday and that women, our allies and
supporters feel safe and free to work in support of equality and
justice.


Info: Dolores Chew 514-885-5976 dolchew@hotmail.com

-30-

Poem: Fingering the dictionary

Fingering the dictionary

for Prime  Minister Stephen Harper on the occasion to celebrate International Women’s Day 2007

chattel

Main Entry: chat·tel
Pronunciation: 'cha-t&l
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English chatel property, from Anglo-French — more at CATTLE
1 : an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (as buildings) connected with real property
2 : SLAVE, BONDSMAN

 

 

cattle

Main Entry: cat·tle
Pronunciation: 'ka-t&l
Function: noun plural
Etymology: Middle English catel, from Anglo-French katil, chatel personal property, from Medieval Latin capitale, from Latin, neuter of capitalis of the head — more at CAPITAL
1 : domesticated quadrupeds held as property or raised for use; specifically : bovine animals on a farm or ranch
2 : human beings especially en masse

capital

Main Entry: 3capital
Function: noun
Etymology: French or Italian; French, from Italian capitale, from capitale, adjective, chief, principal, from Latin capitalis
1 a (1) : a stock of accumulated goods especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period; also : the value of these accumulated goods (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income b (1) : net worth (2) : STOCK 7c(1) c : persons holding capital d : ADVANTAGE, GAIN <make capital of the situation> e : a store of useful assets or advantages <wasted their political capital on an unpopular

cunt

Main Entry: cunt
Pronunciation: 'k&nt
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English cunte; akin to Middle Low German kunte female pudenda
1 usually obscene : the female genital organs; also : sexual intercourse with a woman
2 usually disparaging & obscene : WOMAN 1a

To My American Neighbours

Dear Relations to the South,

I know it wasn’t long ago that your nation suffered a terrible blow.  To many of you, it was a wake-up call.  To others of you, it seemed a logical consequence to the century long aggression and empire-building in which your government has been engaged.  No matter, it was a blow.  And that blow instilled fear in the American nation.  That fear allowed for the election and re-election of George W. Bush, currently the leader of the most vicious nation on earth.

Today, on AlterNet, I read an article written by an American, part of which said,

there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the president to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.

The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

This is true.  The time is right.  Your country needs you.  The world needs you.  We need you to reverse the tide of viciousness the likes of which the world has not seen since Hitler.   Calling for cross-country impeachment hearings on Bush and Cheney is a brilliant idea.  I am certain that countries around the world, especially those negatively impacted by your brutal foreign and trade policies, would provide you with unlimited support for these actions.  But most importantly, you would be a people better able to control your own destiny, rather than to have it controlled by a not very bright man guided by a dogma deeply rooted in sexism, racism, and oppression of all sorts.

And so, dear friends, I encourage you to proceed with the organization of these hearings.  Push the Democrats to take real leadership.  Insist they work to make a difference for the good of the world, not for might and greed.  I beg of you, do it now!

The world is watching.  And waiting, ever-so patiently.

Sincerely,

Your Canadian Sister

ACTION: Racist Google Video

UPDATE 19DEC06: Well done Netizens!!!  “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation!!!”

I’m not even going to try to upload the video here, but please, please see why Faces Of Evil – Google Video should be flagged as inappropriate for its hateful content and flag it as such in the right hand sidebar. The video provides pictures, addresses, and phone numbers of people supporting Six Nations and encourages violence against them. You can also leave a comment at the site and suggest, as I have, that those who created the video should be punished to the full extent of the law for their hate crime.

Slaughtering Human Rights in Afghanistan

Read this, by RAWA at ZNet.  Maybe this is why Gilles has changed his tune

Bring our soldiers home!

Afghanistan

The Bloodiest Field for Slaughtering Human Rights

by RAWAFive years ago, America and their allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of bringing “Human Rights”, “Democracy”, and “Freedom” to our war-torn country. The Taliban regime fell and Hamid Karzai’s puppet regime, which included the well-known Northern Alliance criminals or as UN envoy Mahmoud Mestri said, “the bandit gangs”, took over in the name of a fake democracy. However, today, the deceitful policies of Mr. Karzai and his Western guardians have brought Afghanistan to a very critical situation where disaster is a ticking time bomb that can explode any minute. Treason and mockery have efficiently been used in the name of “democracy” and “freedom” in the past five years. The human rights situation in Afghanistan is a product of the painful deception of the warlord led government.

Northern Alliance criminals, backed by the US have their own local and barbaric governments. Just the increasing number of women who commit suicide by burning themselves is the best example of a human rights violation in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, 65% of 50000 widows in Kabul think that committing suicide is the only option they have. Northern Alliance crooks raped an 11 year old girl, Sanuber, and traded her for a dog. In Badakhshan, a young woman was gang-raped by 13 Jehadis in front of her children, and one of the rapists urinated in the mouth of her children who were continuously crying. In Paghman, a suburb of Kabul, a criminal leader Rasol Sayyaf, who was the mentor and godfather of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, plunders our peoples’ territory and tortures his opposition in his private prison. Despite many protest rallies by the unfortunate people of Paghman in front of the Parliament House, no one hears their painful voice. Instead the so-called police forces headed by infamous criminal warlords like Zahir Aghbar and Amanullah Guzar, attacked the protesters and killed 2 of them. These are all just some examples of thousands of crimes that are being carried out by the fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance. These evil men have high positions in the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the US-imposed government with some unprincipled intellectuals dancing to their tune.

The full article is here.

End Darfur Rapes

The war on women goes on worldwide. Darfur is especially horrific.

From the BBC:

Women demand end to Darfur rapes
International stateswomen have made a joint call for an end to rape and
sexual violence in Sudan’s conflict-torn region of Darfur.

Peacekeepers must be sent to protect women there, the group said in a letter published by newspapers worldwide.

Signatories include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and theIrish former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The call comes as protests on the issue are planned in 40 countries.

The letter says rape is being used “on a daily basis” as a weapon of war in
Darfur.

The main signatories were joined by other prominent women including:

* veteran Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi
* Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela
* Edith Cresson, former French prime minister
* Glenys Kinnock, a UK member of the European Parliament
* Carol Bellamy, former head of the UN children’s fund.

‘Constant fear’

Published on the eve of the Global Day for Darfur, the letter says that”women and young girls live in constant fear of attack”.

Sudan’s government is accused of being “unwilling or unable to protect its own civilians”.

The international community is called upon to “deliver on its responsibility to protect these civilians”.

Events to mark Darfur Day are due to take place in more than 40 countries and will include women-led protests outside Sudanese embassies.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher, in Khartoum, says the three-year war in Darfur has been characterised by rape and violence against women, mostly by the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

The protests around the world will have no direct impact on the Sudanese government, he adds.

The government views the three-year crisis in Darfur as a Western invention, insisting that just 9,000 people have died.

It also denies reports of widespread rape, pointing out that the people of Darfur are Muslim and, therefore, incapable of rape.

In reality, though, at least 200,000 people have died in Darfur’s and an estimated two million people, mostly black Africans whose villages have been attacked by the Janjaweed, have fled their homes.

Khartoum denies accusations it is backing the militias to put down an uprising by Darfur’s rebel groups in 2003.

A force of 7,000 African Union peacekeepers has struggled to protect civilians in the absence of a strong, UN contingent.


			

Holding our space

Nettie Wiebe* was the guest speaker at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) Person’s Day Breakfast in Regina. She spoke about war, federal cuts and her garden.  Read on for a rough paraphrase of how she fit it all together.

Current Context

War

In our daily news, we are inundated with war, death, destruction. It’s a grim diet. Yet, we are told we are engaged in Afghanistan for the equality of women and the education of girls. Since when has the Canadian military been a mainline feminist organization?

Militarism and violence have proven to be “very dangerous for women and girls.” We should be “very worried about that agenda.” Fear is very often a pretext for the suppression of rights and freedoms. “Militarism is the patriarchy reinforcing itself.” If it is creating fear here in North America, we can be sure it’s doing likewise elsewhere on the globe.

Federal cuts

With regard to Status of Women Canada (SWC) and the Court Challenges Program, Nettie said, “Stephen Harper says not to worry. But I find that — only moderately reassuring.” If the SWC is no longer funding research then how will we, and more importantly, our government, know how its policies and programs are impacting the status of women in this country? She says she finds a “curious lack of curiousity” coming from the Harper government. She wondered if to the Conservatives, as Stephen Colbert has said, “reality has a liberal bias.”

She wondered who it is that sees equality as a problem and it took her to the REAL Women’s website, whose motto is women’s rights, but not at the expense of human rights. “I thought,” Nettie said, “we had established that we were, in fact, full-fleged humans with the Person’s Case!” Spending time at the REAL Women’s website took some time, because she had to think about what they were saying. “The whole undercurrent which has surfaced in this policy regime is that they are unhappy with SWC and to to get rid of its ministerial mandate.” And, she added that there is also a movement to get rid of Human Rights tribunals because they get in the way of traditional Judeo-Christian marriage.

She said she was not surprised to find anti-abortion rhetoric, but was surprised to find their disagreement with human rights and divorce. Apparently, people do not try hard enough in their bad relationships. So, she implied, are women supposed to try harder when they are being abused in a relationship?

Federal language change

The language of equality has been removed and replaced with participation. Participation is good, she said, especially in the House of Commons and in the Legislatures, etc. But, women can be in a room, participating, and still be marginalized. Participation isn’t enough to hold our place. Full participation for women is hooked into equality in such a way that we’re moving forward. We’ll know we’ve reached equality when the language of equality is not questioned. We need to reject the shrinking of our space.

Nettie’s garden

Nettie grew a great garden this spring because there’d been rain. And then one day a hail storm came through. Everything was smashed to the ground. Then, a few weeks later, as she looked out her upstairs window, toward the garden, she noticed green in the garden, so she hurried down to it. The plants she’d written off were coming back; their roots had been strong enough to withstand the storm, to be able to come back.

“This new regime in Ottawa is a bit of a hail storm,” she said, “And our feminist roots are planted deeply enough to withstand it. We will hold our space.”

_______

Nettie Wiebe farms with her husband at Laura, Saskatchewan, growing organic grains and pulse crops as well as raising cattle. In addition to caring for their four children, she served as Women’s President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) from 1989-1994. She was elected President of the NFU in January 1995, the first woman to lead a national farm organization in Canada, a position she held for four years. She is currently the Professor of Church and Society, lecturing on ethics and social and economic justice at St. Andrew’s College, University of Saskatchewan.

A writer, panelist and speaker on agriculture, environment, public policy and trade issues, Dr. Wiebe has been an advocate for farm families and rural communities in many forums in Canada and abroad. She is a coordinating member of the Via Campesina, a global movement of peasants and small-scale farmers. She was presented with the Distinguished Canadian Award by the Council of Canadians in November, 1999.