Monday, May 31, 2010

On this [U.S.] Memorial Day, let's not forget the U.S. Military Women and the Iraqi and Afghan Women who are Sexually Harassed and Raped by U.S. Military Men: the abuse is also called Military Sexual Trauma

This is a cross post from here at NPR.

Military Sexual Trauma: A Little-Known Veteran Issue

May 13, 2010

Rachel Caesar left the Army after serving for 14 

[photograph of Rachel Caesar is from here]

Rachel Caesar left the military after serving for 14 years. She suffered from military sexual trauma, but it took her a long time to admit it. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 48,000 female veterans screened positive for military sexual trauma just in 2008.
Rachel Caesar first tried to join the Army after she saw a recruitment insert in Jet magazine. She filled it out and sent it in. She was 8 years old.

It wasn't long before her mom's phone started ringing. Caesar's mom told the Army recruiter: "Maybe you'll see her in 10 years," according to Caesar today.

Sure enough, after Caesar graduated high school, she joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard. But her experience didn't live up to the dream she'd had of the Army as a kid.

'I Was Sexually Harassed'
In 1996, while on active duty in Korea, Caesar became pregnant. She says that after that, a noncommissioned officer sexually harassed her.

"He told me plain out that I should have been carrying his children, so I should have been having a sexual relationship with him, and I would have gotten promoted," she says.
Years later, during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003, Caesar says she was harassed again. She says she tried to get help from a chaplain, but that went nowhere. Eventually, her health declined — a bad knee, migraines. She didn't want to complain — didn't want to think of herself as a victim.

"Even though I was sexually harassed, I didn't think about it because I wasn't raped," she says. "I was never raped. But I was sexually harassed on many occasions."

So in 2004, Caesar gave up the only job she ever wanted to do. She left the military. At first, she and her two boys lived with her mother — barely functioning, she says.

"I would take the kids down to the bus stop, put them on the bus, get back in the house, lock myself in the house, sleep all day 'cause I was up all night, 'cause I couldn't sleep at night because of the nightmares and everything," she says.

Things got worse. Rachel and her mother weren't getting along. Unable to hold a job, with no money, she and her two boys ended up in a state-run shelter.

That's when Caesar turned to the VA hospital in Boston.

Lauren Devor, a clinical social worker and the coordinator of the women's veterans homeless program at the VA Boston health care system, was one of the people at the VA who helped Rachel.

The first thing she did was to find Caesar subsidized housing.

Special Challenges For The VA
In the past five to six years, Devor says she's seen more and more female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The women are young, and many have kids.

War Veterans In The U.S.

"Now I'm seeing many more women that have actually left their children to go to war and then come back," Devor says. "So you can well imagine a whole new area of work can be done around children feeling abandoned, other people taking on the parent role, then the mother coming back and trying to parent her children."

Children present special challenges for a VA hospital — everything from making sure there are changing tables for babies in the bathrooms to providing shelters for homeless female veterans and their children.

It's hard enough for any soldier to ask for help, but without these services, female veterans like Caesar find it even harder.

"Similar to male veterans, women who have served in the military are quite strong," says Eve Davison, a clinical psychologist at the VA hospital in Boston. She's another person Caesar turned to. "They see themselves as soldiers, and it can be really, really hard to admit that you need support."
Military Sexual Trauma
Davison, who also works with the National Center for PTSD, says she sees women like Caesar all the time.

She says it's not uncommon for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder to have screened positive for something called military sexual trauma. It's a catch-all term, covering everything from sexual assault to sexual harassment.

According to the VA, more than 48,000 female veterans screened positive for military sexual trauma in 2008.

"I think the general public is unaware of these numbers," says Erin Mulhall, a director of research for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group. She adds that the number is probably even higher because many women are afraid to report cases of harassment or assault. At the VA, the burden is not on the veteran to document what happened to them.

"It provides free care to any veteran that walks into VA medical centers that screens positive for military sexual trauma," Mulhall says. "It's bolstered training for its mental health professionals on [military sexual trauma] and also provides disability compensation for those that have developed some major health problems due to their trauma."

Many women vets don't want to talk about sexual trauma. They don't want to admit it. They don't want to report it.

That's what happened to Caesar, who is only now beginning to let people know about what happened to her: "I was coming here for therapy, doing what I had to do, but I was dying inside and nobody here knew," Caesar says.

"I'd like my life back" says BP CEO Tony Hayward: does "BP" stand for Billionaire Prick?

[image of Tony Hayward is from here]

This is on Twitter: "BP CEO Tony Hayward says he wants his life back 6 minutes ago via web".

His greed has allowed him to "poke" the floor of the sea and there's an explosion, human deaths, and a massive (there aren't words...) oil leak, and entire ecosystems and local economies are ruined, people relying on their work at shore to earn their living, and that's it. Their lives have no income, no support. And let's not forget about the animals on land, in the sea, and the birds who are getting poisoned and are dying, which is impacting a breeding area for birds that go far north and far south at other times of the year.

He's done so much that is harmful and HE wants his life back?????? What about the lives of people who, once this oil leak finally ends, will NEVER get their lives back? In this latest "mistake" (CNN is using that term) we begin the body count with those lost to the explosion, now estimated at more like 18 than the originally reported 9--and he wants HIS life back. And the thousands of animals who will die because of this, and the people's lives he's ruined economically, many who are part of already populations--the poor, the working class, people of color, people who survived the GWBush/Katrina disaster and carry trauma from that and now this? But it's really all about how quickly this multi-millionaire (if not multi-billionaire), can get his life to return to normal. Let's be clear: a tiny fraction of the world's human population will never, ever, ever know what his normal life is like. To have everything he needs for every occasion, or the purchase power to get it. All health care anywhere in the world, homes and vacations anywhere in the world, the best education for his family, a will to ensure that his children's children's children will never have to work a day in their lives.

The man whose company earns BILLIONS a quarter--in three months--wants HIS LIFE BACK? Talk about out of touch and self-absorbed!! One wonders which if his homes he can't sleep in due to tossing and turning, and whether the food someone cooks for him is now not sitting well in his anxious stomach. Concern about HIS well-being ought to be last on our collective list of people to show compassion to. Let's show compassion for everyone around the world who is impacted negatively by greedy oil companies and their many disasters we never hear about, and those who are negatively impacted by Western white men's corporate greed, which has caused so many people to lose their homes in the U.S.

I'll put him on the list of people to show concern for just under the financial crooks and thieves on Wall Street.

Let him give the region he's impacted last quarter's earnings from BP. For a start. Then hand over his wealth, then rewrite his will to leave any property and that Swiss bank account to the victims and their families, to animal rescue personnel and environmental activist groups.

Let him get the life of a working class or poor person he's irreparably harmed, for the rest of his life. Let him live out the rest of his life in jail. We'll see how much he values "justice" and "fairness" when the time comes for him to make reparations.

I'll tell you this: whether or not the oil stops spilling out of the pipes, his life is already a lot more comfortable than practically anyone else's on Earth. He doesn't even need to "get back" the life he lived to live without worries about anything. Because it is unlikely the U.S. and UK corporate and legal communities will not insist he lose his extremely privileged quality of life.

Women Against Military Madness, 3rd Annual Walk Against Weapons, on Saturday, June 5, 2010, Minneapolis area, U.S.

[image of WAMM logo is from here]

What follows is from here.


Download a map to Bakers Square - click here

(also includes the walk route)

General overview map of the area - click here
(half hour from anywhere in the Twin Cities - you need this one too)


Learn more about AlliantACTION and ATK - click here

"Oops! We Murdered Again": The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History is NOT the BP Oil Spill of 2010

16 June 2010 ECD UPDATE: Last night U.S. President Obama proclaimed the following, opening his address to the U.S. Empire: "Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.  And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days.  The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years." I say BULLSHIT.

Homeland Security Women - Coyote's Corner
[this awesome poster is from, and is available for sale, here]

[photograph of Margene Bullcreek, Skull Valley Goshute tribal member and environmental activist, is from here. Date: approximately 1998-2000 ECD] 
What follows are excerpts from a report, Environmental Racism, Tribal Sovereignty and Nuclear Waste. Following that is my commentary.

High-Level Atomic Waste Dump Targeted at Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah

"There is nothing moral about tempting a starving man with money."
– Keith Lewis, of the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario, reflecting on his impoverished community’s 50 years of working in and living near uranium mines & mills, and the health and environmental catastrophe that has resulted.
Both the federal government and the commercial nuclear power industry have targeted Native American reservations for such dumps for many years. In 1987, the U.S. Congress created the Office of the Nuclear Waste Negotiator in an effort to open a federal "monitored retrievable storage site" for high-level nuclear waste. The Negotiator sent letters to every federally recognized tribe in the country, offering hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to tribal council governments for first considering and then ultimately hosting the dump. Out of the hundreds of tribes approached, the Negotiator eventually courted about two dozen tribal councils in particular.
Just 25 tribal members live on the tiny Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians Reservation, an hour’s drive west and south from Salt Lake City in Tooele County, Utah. The remaining 100 Band members live in surrounding towns in Tooele County, in Salt Lake City, and elsewhere. The reservation is already surrounded by toxic industries.

Magnesium Corporation is the nation’s worst air polluter, belching voluminous chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid clouds; hazardous waste landfills and incinerators dot the map; with a name straight out of Orwell’s 1984, Envirocare dumps "low level" nuclear waste in the next valley and is applying to accept atomic trash hundreds of times more radioactive than its present license allows. Dugway Proving Ground has tested VX nerve gas, leading in 1968 to the "accidental" killing of 6,400 sheep grazing in Skull Valley, whose toxic carcasses were then buried on the reservation without the tribe’s knowledge, let alone approval. The U.S. Army stores half its chemical weapon stockpile nearby, and is burning it in an incinerator prone to leaks; jets from Hill Air Force Base drop bombs on Wendover Bombing Range, and fighter crashes and misfired missiles have struck nearby. Tribal members’ health is undoubtedly adversely impacted by this alphabet soup of toxins. Now PFS wants to add high-level nuclear waste to the mix.

[For the rest of this report demonstrating ceaseless resistance by Indigenous North Americans against the tyrannical abuses of the U.S. government, please click here or on the title just above. For updates on this grassroots resistance movement, see here]
*          *          *

The worse environmental disaster in U.S. history is NOT the BP Oil Spill Disaster of 2010 ECD. 

The U.S. will try and pretend that its history is not comprised of a set of on-going genocidal/ecological/environmental disasters. Because that's what "WE" did, not BP, not one oil tanker called The Exxon Valdez. WE did it. And WE are still doing it. The problem isn't just one corrupt, out-of-touch CEO, it is US, the U.S., the U.R.A.

I do believe of BP's executives should be tossed in an oily jail forever for doing what they've done--along with any former U.S. president who removed regulations protecting the environment. "The environment" necessarily includes the atmosphere, animals, land, water, and people living in those environments. It is the entire petrol/oil drilling industry, overall, must be stopped in its greasy, greedy tracks.

Without question, the biggest disaster on this land was the terroristic and toxic spread of the White Man and his bloody wake of murdered Indigenous North Americans, his tearing down of trees, enslaving animals and also human beings, West Africans, to his plow, plant, and harvest his fields to grow single crops destroying multi-species ecosystems, creating agribusiness including machinery and chemicals that have no moral or ethical business existing on Earth, and developing corporations which are designed to put profits over people, animals, and environment, now with relatively little regulation or accountability.

In what compassionately moral or philosophically ethical universe is any and all of the following acceptable behavior?
  • the destruction of Indigenous people; 
  • the violation and paving over of their sacred ground and cemeteries; 
  • the deforestation, strip-mining, and blowing up of sections of mountain ranges; 
  • the eradication of savannas, prairies, woodlands, and wetlands; 
  • the gross pollution of soil and spring water, lakes and rivers, seas and oceans, air and atmosphere
In what sense is all that not bigger than what is currently going on in the Gulf of Mexico? Who decides which oil spills are reported and which are covered up, kept out of the press? Who decides the time period in which "the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history" happened?

How is poisoning the land with nuclear waste, disproportionately near places where poor not rich people live, near places where Indigenous people and other people of color, not whites, live, not an environmental disaster bigger than this currently active one in the Gulf of Mexico--which is owned not by Mexico, but by the thieving and savage white male dominated U.S.?

The answer is this: the U.S. government and the militarily protected corporations that own it, and the media also owned by those corporations--each and every one of them ecocidally white male supremacist to the core of their doing--will always wish to portray itself as having done either nothing wrong, or as maybe having made a few mistakes in the past. "Oops, we murdered again!" ought to be the U.S.'s motto. Followed by no meaningful apology or attempts at justice-creating reparations and radical reforms.

Environmental disaster, just like human oppression, isn't a mistake. It's part of the white master plan. An oil rig blowing up may not be a willful act by one worker or a CEO (who ought not, in good conscience, ever be called "a worker"), but there were plenty of opportunities to make sure it never happened. And moving forward with technologies that have no soul, that are bounded by no ethical parameters, no moral imperatives, means that we get and will get a series of great disasters. Only the most immoral and callous of minds would conceive of punching holes in the deep sea such that when they leak they don't know what to do about it because their technology didn't plan for that eventuality. Only the most unethical and reckless souls would permit nuclear power to be generated with the only solution to "what to about the waste that will be toxic for thousands of years" is to plant it in the ground near Indian reservations. See here for more and read this:
The waste, sometimes called spent fuel, is dangerously radioactive, and remains so for thousands of years. When it first comes out of the reactor, it is so toxic that if you stood within a few meters of it while it was unshielded, you would receive a lethal radioactive dose within a few seconds and would die of acute radiation sickness [wikipedia] within a few days.
What "ethical" men would wish to produce this? White men. What "great" men would seek genocide as a means of establishing "a moral civilisation"? European and European-descended Christian men. Make no "mistake" about it. Living off of the values and practices of refined white men is as good for humanity, animals, plants, and the Earth as a diet consisting only of refined white sugar.

Support the deportation of illegal, alien, and criminal occupiers, aka "refined white men" from North America.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The False Promises of Liberal Humanism and the Truth of Dr. Marimba Ani

[source: here]
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. The term can mean several things, for example (1) a historical movement associated especially with the Italian Renaissance; (2) an approach to education (in any period of history) that uses literary means or a focus on the humanities to form students; or (3) a philosophical approach that sometimes stands over and against traditional religious modes of thought, but that may also be fully integrated into them (e.g. Christian humanism). For many today, humanism is a worldview and a moral philosophy that considers humans to be of primary importance. It is a perspective common to a wide range of ethical stances that attaches importance to human dignity, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality. Although the word has many senses, its current philosophical meaning comes into focus when contrasted with appeals to the supernatural or to some higher authority.[1][2] Since the 19th century, one developing strand of the meaning of humanism has come to be associated with an anti-clericalism inherited from the 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes. This particular use of the term covers organized non-theistic religions, secular humanism, and a humanistic life stance.[3] Such interpretations can be compared and contrasted with other prominent and repeated uses of the term in traditional religious circles.[4] Humanist, humanism, and humanistic can very frequently refer to literary culture.[5] [source: here]
If it isn't already blatantly obvious, and I believe it ought to be, there is a problem with this thing called "Western Liberal Humanism". All my adult life I've heard people tell me, "Well, I don't go in for that whole thing of calling myself a FEMINIST, or an ANTIRACIST. Because I'm a HUMANIST. The message carries with it an implicit message to the listener: "I'm more evolved than you. You're still in that stage where you're stuck on identity politics."

Identifying as a human apparently doesn't count as declaring an identity, and, in fact, humanism makes no effort to save non-human animals from becoming extinct, or to save the Earth from pollution, over-population, and death.

And what humanists don't seem to realise is that, whether they wish to acknowledge this or not, they are identifying rather strongly with European white het men, who are, materially and spiritually understood by WHM to be "fully human". It is that group that conceived of this idea of humanism, and if you think part of what they intended was for white het male supremacy to disappear any time soon, you're mistaken. If you're not white, not het, and not male, you're probably sorely mistaken.

Stating one's values doesn't equal action in the world to make the world less oppressive for oppressed people.

Promoting civil liberties in societies which don't value or protect civil and human rights won't do anything to liberate oppressed people.

Liberal humanism has no means, methods, mechanisms, plans, or organised systematic practices for actually ending any form of systemic and institutionalised suffering. Such goals, including the collectivist democratic processes for attaining them, aren't on the checklist of what Western Liberal Humanist's adherents and espousers want to achieve, except abstractly, in spoken or written proclamations backed up with nothing at all--no resistance movements, no concerns or protests beyond those impacting the social individual who is human, which, in the Western world means the white het man. Humanists have their academic humanities, whereby they extol the virtues of societies they cannot create and do not currently live in.

The best definition of liberalism I've ever heard was that "it makes promises it has no intentions of keeping". Yes, that's one of the problems. Proclamations about one's values aren't quite enough to keep rain forests and sacred land from being destroyed; oil and many manufactured toxic substances from spilling out into oceans and other waterways; Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Asian people from being poisoned and killed by white men's militaries and corporations; heterosexism, including the promise of lesbian and gay youth committing suicide at greater rates than heterosexual youth, from flourishing in practice; anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim white terroristic Christian supremacy from thriving, misogynist, rapist male supremacy from dominating and ruling. If cities, by definition and in reality are without exception not sustainable, as Derrick Jensen states, what is liberal humanism's plan to dismantle them?

If liberal humanism can't produce human rights, can't liberate the oppressed, can't create sustainable societies, what good is it? And for whom, exactly, is it "ethically good"? The answer: wealthy white het men and those who wish to practice the ethically bankrupt ideals espoused by them and their philosophers.

So instead of proclaiming to me the advanced, progressive values that you hold most dear, tell me what you're doing to ensure that everyone has human rights and that the most structurally and institutionally empowered among us are accountable to people of color and Indigenous people if you're white, to radical feminists if you're a man, and to the Earth and all its live forms in a commitment to sustainable living.

Because if you're living in ways that are unaccountable to those you structurally and institutionally oppress, the terms you use don't mean shit.  But they do mean the continuation of CRAP. And that's the problem.

Supporting ideals such as dignity and rationality is bound to some very dangerous ideas and practices. Declaring platitudes are easy. Challenging white het male supremacy is less easy.

If you want to know exactly what humanism is responsible for, what valuing dignity and rationality has done to the world, please read Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, by Marimba Ani, and get back to me on how "evolved", or "good", it is to be a humanist.

And, in the mean time, please figure out how to be directly and meaningfully accountable to those you oppress.

See also here and especially here.

The Wicked Itch of the West

 [image is from here]

In the biased view of this blogger, I see being Westernised as a form of making the best of a bad situation. And maybe not even the best. What titles like make me think about is how Western or Westernised press always want to promote "the West" as inherently better than "the East" which is infused with the corrupt idea that whiteness is better than non-whiteness. The West insistently prides and promotes itself as being "the best the world has to offer" while it also makes it a daily practice to murder people of color and rape women of all colors. Is that really anything to be proud of? Decades of warfare against people of color across my country, across many regions of Asia and Central America? The Maafa and enslavement of West Africans throughout the Americas? The savage slaughter of Indigenous North Americans? European and U.S. witch burning? Apartheid in Israel? This is cause for celebration? Invasion and sexual slavery and destruction of the environment in which so many beings live? Pride? Really?

Of what does the West and North feel ashamed? Auschwitz-Birkenau and German complacency in the face of anti-Semitism? Maybe. Although the members of burgeoning neo-Nazi movements don't look ashamed to me.

The answer is that the West is defined, in part, by its capacity to commit all manner of atrocity without publicly declaring shame or regret or remorse, or even, a desire to end the evil ways that allow the West to thrive. And this is the point: the West and Global North cannot survive without stigmatising and stereotyping, demonising and demolishing the East, the Global South, and exploiting the people and land that is in these rather vast regions of the world.

I will tell you this: from a pro-Indigenist point of view, the West is the worst the world has to offer. The West means wealth concentrated into the bloody hands of the few, at the expense of everyone and everything else. Surely the news of what the West's military, financial institutions, BP, Chevron, and other major Western corporations do and have done to people and the land and sea is proof enough. Isn't it? And, if that isn't enough, pray tell, what would be?

I can hear the chorus of West/North-defenders. But you know the burning of women happens in the East too!! Yes, recently. Genocide happens in the Global South too!!! Yes, but not of 75 to 90 million people in North America alone, leaving out the rest of the Americas and everywhere else. How many millions of Indigenous people do you imagine the West and Global North has murdered, sum total? 200 million? 300 million?

"But those husbands in those non-Western places are so cruel to their wives", the chorus chimes in. This happens, yes. And husbands' and boyfriends' battery of women in the West is epidemic. What moral ethic do we use to measure our greatness based on our selective atrocity-highlighting in places where we are not? Do you know the stories of people in the East and Global South pre-industrialisation? Pre-capitalism? Pre-invasion?

Now the chorus includes my friends and family: but you are turning pre-capitalist Indigenous society into a romantic notion, free of all evil and horror?!

No, I'm not. I'm saying that the argument "They do bad things too" isn't a moral position worth a damn. I'm saying that before the West and Global North committed its atrocities against those regions of the world, the people enslaved and slaughtered in the process were better off than before being enslaved and slaughtered. This is not a complicated thought or ethic. I'm saying that the Wicked White West and Genocidal Global North steals the resources of the world, hoarding them, abusing every process for obtaining them, so that the West and Global North then become destination areas because the wealth is there, is not something to be proud of. Our collective Western and Northern flags should hang permanently at half-staff, in shame. And let the blood we let out of the veins and arteries of those we slaughtered to erect those flags drip that blood as from a fountain, and let us declare our pride in the light of that blood.

What follows is a story of two cousins, from India, surviving in Israel. It is being cross-posted from here, at The Jerusalem Post.

Making the best of a bad situation

Female foreign workers absorbing Western ideas.

Like many of Israel’s migrant laborers, Usha, 26, lives with exploitation. Hired as a caretaker, she is used as a full-time servant instead.  “I take care of seven people and a baby,” she says. “I clean the house. I take the kids to school.” Her employer’s demands are unreasonable, impossible. Once he forced her to clean the same bathroom three times in one day. “Three times,” Usha repeats with a sigh. Occasionally, he takes her to his business in Ramat Gan and has her work there, too.

Usha, from India, worries that she’ll lose her visa or end up with an employer who doesn’t pay at all. So she stays. She has complained to her employer about her workload and has asked him to up her salary. He has refused.

“Rich people [are] very stingy,” Usha says, wagging her finger in the air as though she were scolding her employer. She laughs and her cousin, Gita, 24, joins in.

It’s a Saturday night in Levinsky Park. The two relax in the grass, Usha wearing Western clothes; Gita wrapped in a lime-green sari. Despite their different dress, the cousins are working toward a common goal – independence. Both hope to avoid an arranged marriage, they explain. They want to do things on their own terms.

Pooling the money they’ve made here, Usha and Gita – who says her elderly employer is “like a mother” to her – have bought land outside their native Delhi. With two years to go on their 63-month visas, they’ll have enough to build a modest home when they return. There, they’ll live alone.

Usha and Gita give each other high-fives and break into laughter again.

I’m uncomfortable with their giddiness, and unsure of how to respond. Usha’s employer is violating her rights. The system – affluent Westerners snatching cheap labor from the East –is inherently exploitative and is set up against them. In Israel, foreign workers are subject to policies that violate their very humanity. Why are they laughing?

The interview is odd in other ways. I’ve spoken with hundreds of Israel’s foreign workers and I’ve yet to meet a woman who says, unabashedly, that she is here for herself, and only herself.

A tremendous majority of migrant laborers, male and female, go overseas to support their families, sending most of their wages home every month. Annual remittances to the Philippines, where many of Israel’s foreign workers come from, are over 15 billion US dollars.

Filipinos regard Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) as national heroes. At Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, OFWs get their own line at passport control, breezing through like diplomats.

Some migrant laborers tell me that they send most of their earnings to their families and set a little aside for their future. A small handful of men – young, unmarried – concede that they send little or nothing home and save strictly for themselves.

But Usha and Gita are the first women to say this. And I’ve never heard anyone make light of exploitative conditions.

Suddenly, I understand. They’re making the best of a bad situation. They joke about Usha’s “stingy” employer just like they scrape together the money to buy their own home. They work within the system so they can step out of it.

Usha and Gita force me to reconsider female migrant laborers. Are other women living a quiet rebellion? Is it a lonely fight, or do they support each other? And what does their strength, individual or collective, mean for Israel’s community of foreign workers?

Israel’s 300,000 foreign workers face a host of problems. Labor laws are violated on a whim as employers overwork their employees, as in Usha’s case, pay less than the minimum, or withhold wages altogether. A government policy known as the binding arrangement ties a caretaker’s legal status to his or her employer – creating a situation critics, including the Israeli Supreme Court, have likened to modern-day slavery. And heavy debt – loans ranging anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 – taken to pay the employment agencies that arrange for work in Israel keep them stuck, frightened to leave even the worst conditions.

Women, who make up a majority of migrant laborers, face additional difficulties.

Joyce, a 26-year-old caretaker from the Philippines who holds a degree in physical therapy, was pregnant with her first child when she arrived in Israel. When her baby boy was born, Joyce was forced to put him on a plane and send him to the Philippines.

In Israel, pregnancy means a foreign worker must choose between her visa and her baby. If Israeli authorities discover that a migrant laborer has given birth here, she automatically loses her legal status. Critics say this policy violates the human right to having a family.

There are other problems – women working in private homes as caretakers or domestic helpers are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Yael Meir, a community worker at Mesila Aid and Information Center for the Foreign Community, remarks that many migrant laborers don’t know their legal rights. When they do, cultural differences sometimes work against the women, most of who come from the Philippines, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.

“In order to survive in Western society, they have to become a little Western,” Meir says. “They have to learn to stand up for their rights.”

Mesila, which is operated and partially funded by the Tel Aviv municipality, helps by offering “empowerment courses,” lectures that advise on workers’ rights and employers’ obligations. The organization also fosters social networks, Meir says, “to make the community stronger so they can help themselves.”

In the past, Mesila brought together a group of Nepali women who continue to meet on their own. Sri Lankan and Indian women’s groups are on the horizon.

Now Mesila is facilitating a “moms’ committee” made up primarily of single mothers from the Philippines. Most lost their visas when they gave birth, but continued working illegally as domestic helpers. These women are under a tremendous amount of stress, Meir explains. “It is very hard for them, raising a child by themselves, sending money to their families.”

Amid Israel’s crackdown on illegal residents, which began in July 2009, the pressure is only getting higher.

After the government published ads threatening to prosecute anyone caught employing workers sans visas, some of the women were fired from their jobs.

“Now they’re waiting for the [government’s] decision on the children,” Meir says, referring to the state’s plans to deport 1,200 Israeli-born children along with their parents, illegal residents.

The mothers’ committee organizes activities for their children, lending the kids’ lives a much-needed sense of normalcy and allowing the women to assume leadership roles. Mesila’s groups also provide an outlet, a place for women to discuss their troubles, share their feelings, and find support.

“Part of the reason it is hard for the women to leave and go back home is that they get empowered here,” Meir comments. “[This] puts them in conflict with their eastern values.” Dr. Liat Ayalon, a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s School of Social Work, points out that this conflict starts long before they leave Israel. Working as caretakers, nannies, or domestic helpers reinforces “traditional gender roles,” Ayalon says. “At the same time, the encounter with Western society and the NGOs encourages them to empower [themselves]. They’re being told that’s the better way to do things.”

And they might be answering to someone on the other end of the phone line. Ayalon recalls that when she was helping create Filipino and Nepali empowerment groups, many of the women said they needed to get permission from their husbands to participate.

“Their exposure to these Western ideas is not doing them a good service. We ask them to come and stand up for their rights and they still have a husband who wants them to do what he wants,” Ayalon says.

“I’m sure if they get the message too strongly and become too independent, it becomes impossible for them to go back.”

But Dr. Malini Johar Schueller, a professor at the University of Florida’s Department of English and author of the book Locating Race: Global Sites of Post-Colonial Citizenship, which challenges myths of globalization, warns against indulging in the idea that women from the East are liberated by their time in the West.

Speaking to Metro, Schueller comments: “It’s a dangerous trope to have.” And to illustrate her point, she offers Iraq and Afghanistan as an extreme example.

“The feminist rhetoric of liberating women was used as a justification for [the United States’] war and continued occupation [of Iraq and Afghanistan].” This line of reasoning, she says, is similar to the British colonial idea of “the white man saving brown women from brown men.”

Further, it does a disservice to women in the West.

“[The idea] that feminism is coming from the West and that an arranged marriage is a bad thing suggests that women in the West aren’t suppressed.” Schueller, who was born in Pakistan and was once a citizen of India, adds, “In the same breath, it’s important to acknowledge organizations [like Mesila].” But it is equally, if not more, important to consider how women empower themselves.

“There are indigenous women’s organizations that few people talk about,” Schueller says, returning to the example of Afghanistan and pointing to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), an independent women’s organization focused on human rights. Despite the fact that RAWA has opened hundreds of clandestine schools for female students, it is strikingly underrepresented in public discourse.

“This ignores what people can do on their own,” Schueller says.

A Saturday evening spent at a Tel Aviv auditorium reminds me of the strength of Israel’s Filipinos. “A Night to Remember” was filled with performances by the youngest members of the community, from high-school-aged to just old enough to hold a microphone.

There was a wide variety of talent on display. One boy teetered along on a unicycle. A teenage gymnast flipped past. A high school girl played the violin. Several groups did energetic, choreographed dance numbers.

Many of the participants were part of the 1,200 who are slated for deportation. The show, supported by the Filipino organization KAMPI and sponsored by the Western Union amongst others, was organized by the parents, illegal residents who may be expelled along with their children.

This is the second such show the Filipino community has put on this year.

No, they’re not consciousness-raising groups. But as the kids on the stage beamed before a cheering audience – a full and rowdy house – I understood how important it was for them to take to the stage and strut their stuff. Performing gives them a sense of pride, a feeling of accomplishment. And their parents, many of whom are single mothers, are empowered by providing them with the opportunity.

Israel’s women pastors, migrant laborers who minister to the foreign workers, offer another example.

The last major expulsion of illegal residents, which came in 2002 and 2003, targeted men. If husbands were deported, the thinking went, wives and children would follow. The assumption seems to have been that men form the backbone of the community.

But when the men, pastors included, were sent home, women rose to replace them.

Ruby Austria, a Filipina pastor, estimates that today women lead half of the churches frequented by migrant laborers. She and another Filipina pastor comment that, in the Philippines, it’s not uncommon for women to take on leadership roles. Why should it be different in Israel?

But, in some cases, it’s Israel’s differences that give women the room to push boundaries.

Ria is a 27-year-old caretaker from India, where dating before marriage is not the norm. On a Saturday afternoon, she walks around South Tel Aviv with both a pink salwar kameez and a boyfriend she met here in Israel. As she uses a payphone to call his family in India, she laughs and says, “We’ll have to marry when we return.”

For some women, working overseas allows them to continue to assert the independence they first fought for at home.

Take Sofia, a 26-year-old Nepali woman who asked to be identified by a pseudonym. When Sofia was 16, she entered into an arranged marriage with a man twice her age.

“I was like a child,” she recalls. “I didn’t know what love is, I didn’t learn about sex.” Her husband “wanted too much sex,” she says. When she wasn’t willing, he raped her.

Sofia also describes a life of servitude. She took care of their child, did all of the housework, and cooked and cleaned for her in-laws. Her married life was “torture,” she says.

After five years, and with the support of her family, Sofia left her husband. She decided to work overseas to secure a better future for herself and her eight-year-old son, who now lives with her parents.

“I feel free because I feel I am independent here,” says Sofia, who lives in an apartment in Tel Aviv with six other Nepali women. “But work feels like a prison,” she adds.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

National Day of Action Against Racism

 [photograph of Jose Matus is from here]

Cross posted from Censored News here.

Indigenous Alliance without Borders: National Day of Action Against Racism


SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
By Jose Matus, Yaqui, director of Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras

Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras joins and stands strongly in support of all the people and organizers of the National Day of Action Against Racism and Racist public policies and laws. White America and especially Arizona's racist politicians are seeing a resurgence of Indigenous America in the form of immigrants who are descendants of North America's Indigenous populations. As Indigenous America, they are terrifying precisely because they have a moral claim to cross the border imposed on their lands.

Since the 1990's, the immigrant communities in Arizona have experienced in their everyday lives hatred, xenophobia, bigotry, abuse and rights violation while living in Tucson, Phoenix and throughout the state. The actions of the Arizona State Legislature extends the militarization of the border to the entirety of the state - that will legally codify law enforcement's petulant behavior and legitimize racial profiling, discrimination against non-Whites with a peculiar accent and style of dress.

The evolution of the United States anti-immigrant legislation and border enforcement policies in modern times have always and continue to affect indigenous communities on either side of the southern border. Rights of mobility and passage, federally-recognized sovereignty and self-determination rights, and access to traditional land sites and ceremonial grounds have been sorely compromised to the detriment of Elders, families, and youth.

Now, Arizona's passage of SB 1070 will do nothing to curtail the influx of undocumented migration, people and drug smuggling, border deaths and violence. It will create more problems for all people of color, abuse of power will be outrageously exercised and cruelly administered at the hands of those who have been convinced of their righteousness of ignorance and the unjustness of anti-immigrant enforcement policies.

Although some local Law Enforcement Officials have vowed not to comply with SB 1070, it is understood by many that this law could be perverted to excess by those who deem themselves the right to hold extraordinary power of authority. The nationally notorious racist Maricopa County Sheriff, Crazy Joe Arpaio, will clearly exercise this extraordinary power in the self-proclaimed right to get all those undocumented individuals he calls criminals that live within the confines of Maricopa County. He will continue his campaign of tyranny within the Mexican immigrant and Yaqui indigenous communities.

Is this the type of freedom our Troops of Color - our youth are fighting for as members of the U.S. Armed Forces - For Racist Politicians to implement racist laws in the name of National Security and community safety!

"Care of human life and happiness, not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." - Thomas Jefferson

It is time for all those people of color that don' t vote to get involved in Civic Participation - Vote and Get Out the Vote! Lose or continue to be fighting for your rights!!

It is time to organize, speak out, join forces with other people of color movements to bring attention and fight for Human Rights and Human Life!


Friday, May 28, 2010

To White Folks: Listen to THESE Delta Blues... from the SW Coast of Nigeria, not the SE Coast of the U.S.: Emem Okon on Chevron's Atrocities

 [photograph of Emem Okon is from here]
I came to tell Chevron that they have oppressed in the Niger Delta region with impunity for the past fifty years, poisoning our waters, devastating our environment, killing the fish we eat, burning poison gas through gas flares in the Niger Delta that has caused cancer, asthma, corroding our roofs. And they have not done anything to alleviate the sufferings of the people as a result of their—as the result of their activities. And what they did on Wednesday was a demonstration of the fact that they are not ready to change their mode of oppression in the Niger Delta region, and they are not ready to recognize and respect the human rights of the people, and they are not ready to change the inhumane way they treat the communities in which they oppress.

I am surprised at the attention that the BP oil spill has attracted in the United States, and I expect that the condition in the Niger Delta should attract the same coverage and that the international community should impress it on Chevron and every other oil community to stop their inhuman activity and abuse of human rights in the Niger Delta region. -- Emem Okon

Obviously, as Emem says, there’s a BP-size disaster every single day in these Chevron-affected communities, and whether that is taking place in Burma or Alaska, Colombia—one of the most amazing things was that as we walked into the meeting, there was a photograph of a basket from the Wayuu community of Colombia that was hanging in Chevron’s headquarters. Well, a representative of the Wayuu community of Colombia, Debra, was left outside, denied her proxy access in to actually address that community, but they hung the basket. -- Antonia Juhasz
It is becoming painfully, disgustingly, horrifically, and blatantly clear that when gross environmental destruction that is also ecocidal impacts white people's lives in the West, it is A BIG IMPORTANT DEAL while when Indigenous women activists speak out about gross environmental destruction, which is also GENOCIDAL (and ecocidal), the white, white West and other major media don't really give shit.

This is my experience generally: the concerns that I hear about over and over from women of color are not "concerns" to whites and men unless they directly impact the lives of whites and men.

So please post news stories about what Indigenous women activists, and other activist women of color are speaking out about.Because, as you'll see, not even Democracy Now gives Indigenous women activists enough time to speak.

From Democracy Now, here:

Chevron Has 5 Activists Arrested and Bars Entry to Global Victims of Its Practices at Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Chevron has had five protesters arrested at its annual shareholders meeting in Houston and refused to allow another two dozen people from Chevron-affected countries around the world, like Nigeria, Ecuador and Burma. Those denied entry held legal shareholder proxies. The True Cost of Chevron Network says it organized the protest to call attention to Chevron’s human rights and environmental record. We speak to Antonia Juhasz, director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange, who spent the night in jail after her arrest; and Emem Okon, an activist from Nigeria and the founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in the Niger Delta.

Antonia Juhasz, director of Global Exchange’s Chevron Program.
Emem Okon, Nigerian women’s rights advocate and environmentalist. She is the founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in the Niger Delta.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Chevron. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, to the practices of another oil giant, the Chevron company. On Wednesday, Chevron had five protesters arrested in Houston at its annual shareholders’ meeting and refused to allow another two dozen people from Chevron-affected countries around the world, like Nigeria, Ecuador and Burma. Those denied entry held legal shareholder proxies.

The True Cost of Chevron Network says it organized the protest to call attention to the company’s human rights and environmental record. The five who were arrested are activists from groups like Amazon Watch and the Houston-based environmental group TEJAS. They were all released on Thursday.

AMY GOODMAN: Among those arrested was author Antonia Juhasz, director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange. She was detained after questioning Chevron’s CEO John Watson during an open comment period for proxy holders. Antonia Juhasz joins us from Houston, as does Emem Okon, an activist from Nigeria and the founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in the Niger Delta.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Antonia, let’s begin with you. What happened? What did you ask Chevron’s President, CEO? And how did you end up in jail?

ANTONIA JUHASZ: Chevron truly exposed its great fear at having the true cost of its operations being revealed to its shareholders and the media. It revealed its great fear at the communities who are actually impacted by Chevron being able to tell the truth about its operations. And I think most importantly, it revealed in Houston how it treats those who come to tell the truth about its operations, engage with the company, with a brutal response, a response that stifles the ability of free speech. And that was a very small taste of what’s experienced much more dramatically at Chevron’s hands all around the world.

I actually went in as a shareholder. I spoke during the shareholder response time. And as I was saying to the gathered shareholders that Chevron had denied—after showing a video of its impacts in communities during the shareholder meeting, it refused to then let those actual representatives from those communities, who had literally traveled from Burma, from Australia, from Alaska, from Nigeria, from Ecuador, all over the world, into the meeting. As I was saying, "These are the people who are here to tell you about your corporation and its operations," I was aggressively grabbed by the police, by private security. I was dragged very forcibly—I still have a handprint on my arm from the law enforcement—dragged, prone on my back, out the back, thrown by four police officers it took to get me, lift me into and move me into the van, and arrested. And I was charged with criminal trespass and disrupting a meeting, and I was incarcerated for twenty-four—a twenty-four-hour period.

And all that time, there were—the few representatives who have gotten—got in, from Angola and Kazakhstan and representing the Philippines, were—we took over the meeting and said essentially that Chevron is lying, it is afraid, it is afraid to expose the true cost of operations—of its operations. But I think most importantly, what we demonstrated was that Chevron is afraid of the organizing against it, that when the communities from the location where it operates not only tell the truth about what it does, but link and form a community and a network, that we send an enormous amount of fear and shock through this company, because, believe me, this has never happened in a Chevron meeting before. They have never felt the need to have such aggressive, physical, abusive tactics to arrest activists in the front from Richmond, California, from Houston, Texas, from around the world, and to drag me physically from inside the meeting.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Antonia, according to one report that I read, the company chairman had to actually adjourn the meeting at a certain point, because he wasn’t able to get control of it?

ANTONIA JUHASZ: This was new CEO John Watson’s very first meeting as the CEO of the company, and he absolutely lost control of the meeting. He chose to bring in an enormous, as I said, quantity of security that filled the meeting. And actually, it seemed like they were starting to outnumber the actual attendees. And he chose to have that very aggressive and physical response to me simply highlighting that people like Emem Okon from Nigeria and people from all over the world were being denied access. We then—the shareholders were actually trying to listen to me. We were also chanting. And at one point, the CEO, John Watson, simply threw up his hands and said, "You know, I don’t know what to do. I guess the meeting’s adjourned." And that was the end of the meeting, as we continued to voice our opposition and statements of Chevron’s lies and the true cost of its operations, and essentially broke up and ended the meeting in that way.

AMY GOODMAN: Emem Okon, you came from Nigeria for the Chevron shareholders’ meeting.


AMY GOODMAN: From the Niger Delta. Why?

EMEM OKON: Yeah, I came from all the way from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria to be at the Chevron shareholders’ meeting. I came to represent the voices of the community women in the Niger Delta region that are suffering the direct impact of Chevron oil and gas activities in the Niger Delta. And what I witnessed on Wednesday during the shareholders’ meeting is a demonstration of the lack of respect of human rights by Chevron. Chevron has a beautiful human rights policy, where they guarantee a two-way communication between the community people and Chevron. But on Wednesday, they outrightly did not respect even their own human rights policy. What happened is a confirmation and a demonstration of the abuse of human rights in the Niger Delta region by Chevron. It’s the demonstration by the use of brutal force by Chevron to suppress the indigenous people of the Niger Delta region. It’s a direct demonstration of the fact that Chevron does not listen to the voices of the people, to the complaints of the people, to the plight and conditions of the people of the Niger Delta communities.

I came to tell Chevron that they have oppressed in the Niger Delta region with impunity for the past fifty years, poisoning our waters, devastating our environment, killing the fish we eat, burning poison gas through gas flares in the Niger Delta that has caused cancer, asthma, corroding our roofs. And they have not done anything to alleviate the sufferings of the people as a result of their—as the result of their activities. And what they did on Wednesday was a demonstration of the fact that they are not ready to change their mode of oppression in the Niger Delta region, and they are not ready to recognize and respect the human rights of the people, and they are not ready to change the inhumane way they treat the communities in which they oppress.

I am surprised at the attention that the BP oil spill has attracted in the United States, and I expect that the condition in the Niger Delta should attract the same coverage and that the international community should impress it on Chevron and every other oil community to stop their inhuman activity and abuse of human rights in the Niger Delta region.

AMY GOODMAN: Did the meeting take place—I know Chevron has taken over the Enron building in Houston. Is that where the meeting took place? And where do you go from here?

ANTONIA JUHASZ: Yeah, very appropriate. And actually, in Houston, it’s still referred to as the old Enron building. Chevron simply moved in after Enron exploded—or went kaput, excuse me, and hired on many former Chevron energy traders, as a matter of fact, and continued on with its own business. What happened was that we had, you know, this amazing network of community members. Obviously, as Emem says, there’s a BP-size disaster every single day in these Chevron-affected communities, and whether that is taking place in Burma or Alaska, Colombia—one of the most amazing things was that as we walked into the meeting, there was a photograph of a basket from the Wayuu community of Colombia that was hanging in Chevron’s headquarters. Well, a representative of the Wayuu community of Colombia, Debra, was left outside, denied her proxy access in to actually address that community, but they hung the basket.

So where we go next is that we actually take this victory of really taking over the meeting, I think, dominating what the shareholders—

AMY GOODMAN: We have ten seconds.

ANTONIA JUHASZ: —had to hear, dominating what the press had to hear, and carrying the energy and power of this network—we are denied access into the meeting, but we carried our message outside. We continued to organize and strategize over these next two days of how you really work together as communities across a broad spectrum of oil’s influence to not only demand a change within that company, but to carry that energy to demand much greater restrictions, regulations, reining in and ultimately retiring of the entire oil industry and by the power and advocacy, most importantly, of those communities and their advocates at the front lines of oil’s [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Antonia, we have to leave it there. I want to thank you for being with us. Antonia Juhasz, director of Global Exchange’s Chevron Program. And Emem Okon, founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in the Niger Delta.

*          *          *

Please also note these related stories:

Navajos told to sit in back of the room at mining conference

First Nations to Shell: Tar Sands Devastating for Boreal Forest

Radical Feminist Chandra Talpade Mohanty: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism

[photograph of Chandra Talpade Mohanty is from here]

[image of book cover is from here]

This book is almost twenty years old. And nothing has gotten better, collectively, for women of color around the world. And so much has gotten worse.

Daily, it seems, I encounter white resistance to decentering white experience when it comes to being responsible and responsive to radical feminists of color who do and do not live in "the West". Daily, it seems, I encounter men's resistance to decentering adult male experience when it comes to being accountable and active in allegiance and alliance with radical feminists of color anywhere in the world. And for the women of color I know, it never "seems" to be daily: it is daily.

I do not see too much difference between this white resistance to and male dominance over women of color. Both political groups make life so much harder for the people who are the world's majority. My view is shaped by what women of color tell me directly not by what my white male privileged eyes are positioned, structurally in the world, to see. For my perspective, my view, if left to my white brothers to define and describe, would mean that the voices of women of color do not exist at all. My white brothers tell me it is white men's suffering that always matters most, and that no other suffering ought to be compared to it. Because, you see, white men, and to varying degrees, most whites and most men, are understood by white men to be more human than all women of color.

When I encounter this complete lack of responsibility and accountability to women of color, I want to spit in the faces of white men who refuse to give up the ridiculous idea that they are "the" definition, the superior standard, the exemplary example of what it means to be human. I have been turning away from the white men now for years, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. And also from the whites and the men who want me to ignore women of color--or to listen to whites and men more carefully, with more compassion for their pain, pretending their pain is qualitatively more important, more urgent, in need of more attention, than the pain of women of color across the globe.

I more carefully listen instead to what women of color have to say. I do this in the hopes that my actions here will be appropriately, humanely responsible and responsive and might also facilitate the cracking and breaking apart of some of the concrete ground of colonialism, corruption, and carnivorous misogyny that is now globalised for the pleasure and profits of white men over and against everyone and everything else. "Everything" here meaning all non-human life on Earth.

The white male Christians have got this quite wrong: the End of Western Civilisation will not release white men to heaven, but will send them directly to hell. And in that fire--molten and deep, their souls will know a kind of suffering they never conceived of while roaming or walking the Earth. To the white men who have refused to conceive of women of color as exemplary human beings by refusing to listen to what responsible, humane women say, I state this: one day you will know to the bone and beyond, what you built a world to avoid experiencing.

I pray that when the time, the End Time, comes, that corrupt, corporatised, incompetent, callous, cruel, contemptuous white wealthy men will die first and that the Earth will belong, for however much time, to the Life that those men seek to destroy and are currently proving successful in destroying.

Given what Indigenous women around the world and other women of color are reporting about what white men's corporations and callous practices are doing, how can anyone conclude that white men ought to be in charge of any institution or industry at all?

*          *          *
The source for some of what follows is here]

Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism

Edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres

“The essays are provocative and enhance knowledge of Third World women’s issues. Highly recommended . . . ” —Choice

“ . . . the book challenges assumptions and pushes historic and geographical boundaries that must be altered if women of all colors are to win the struggles thrust upon us by the ‘new world order’ of the 1990s.” —New Directions for Women

"This surely is a book for anyone trying to comprehend the ways sexism fuels racism in a post-colonial, post-Cold War world that remains dangerous for most women." —Cynthia H. Enloe

" . . . provocative analyses of the simultaneous oppressions of race, class, gender and sexuality . . . a powerful collection." —Gloria Anzaldúa

" . . . propels third world feminist perspectives from the periphery to the cutting edge of feminist theory in the 1990s." —Aihwa Ong

" . . . a carefully presented wealth of much-needed information." —Audre Lorde

“ . . . it is a significant book.” —The Bloomsbury Review

“ . . . excellent . . . The nondoctrinaire approach to the Third World and to feminism in general is refreshing and compelling.” —World Literature Today

“. . . an excellent collection of essays examining ‘Third World’ feminism.” —The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

These essays document the debates, conflicts, and contradictions among those engaged in developing third world feminist theory and politics. Contributors: Evelyne Accad, M. Jacqui Alexander, Carmen Barroso, Cristina Bruschini, Rey Chow, Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Angela Gilliam, Faye V. Harrison, Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, Barbara Smith, Nayereh Tohidi, Lourdes Torres, Cheryl L. West, & Nellie Wong.

Publishers Weekly 

[source: here]
[T]his collection of 15 essays offers examples of current feminist perspectives on race, class and Third World issues, and thoughts on appropriate approaches to these subjects. M. Jacqui Alexander's "Redrafting Morality" examines Trinidad and Togabo's 1986 Sexual Offenses Bill, finding that government has a "major stake in promoting and defending conjugal masculinity" and in subordinating women by recognizing them only as "wives." In "Gender and Islamic Fundamentalism," Nayereh Tohidi notes how the position of Iranian women has deteriorated since 1979--despite their active participation in the uprising against the Shah--and concludes that "the women's question should not be relegated to the days after the revolutionital in text." Russo, in "We Cannot Live Without Our Lives," argues that white feminists should not dismiss racism as "their" problem but "work with women of color as peers . . . which means we must give up sole power and control of feminist organizations, political agendas, and theoretical perspectives."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oil Companies Commit Not Only Ecocide, but Genocide

 [image is from here]

The news of the month in the U.S. dominant media is the massive destruction of ocean and its life, the wetlands and its life, and human communities including many people of color impacted economically due to the disaster. BP is a white British corporation which has shown gross disregard for ocean life, land life, and human rights. Below is one more example of what is horribly wrong with the oil extraction and gasoline production and distribution companies. Following this report is another from Democracy Now with some fairly concise discussion about the horror that is this oil company's massacre of life. A white man who has written about the ocean is a guest, Carl Safina. An excerpt from the article that comes first in this post is here:

Indigenous community leaders Guillermo Grefa (Kichwa) from Rumipamba, Ecuador and Emem Okon from Nigeria accused Chevron's operations of causing the extinction of indigenous peoples, while Debora Barros Fince (Organizacion Wayuu Munserrat, La Guajira, Colombia) added that Chevron supports the paramilitary operations of the current government in Colombia. Grefa asked, "When are you going to clean up what you have contaminated?
An excerpt from the video later in this post is here:
[T]he dispersant is a toxic pollutant that has been applied in the volume of millions of gallons and I think has greatly exacerbated the situation. I think the whole idea of using a dispersant is wrong, and I think it’s part of the whole pattern of BP trying to cover up and hide the body. They don’t want us to see how much oil, so they’ve taken this oil that was concentrated at the surface and dissolved it. But when you dissolve it, it’s still there, and it actually gets more toxic, because instead of being in big blobs, it’s now dissolved and can get across the gills, get into the mouths of animals. The water below the floating oil was water. Now it’s this toxic soup. 

And in fact, unfortunately, the Obama administration, I think, blew it on the high ground here. You know, there was Sarah Palin, "drill, baby, drill," right? So we don’t want that; we elect Obama. And then what happens is we get "drill, baby, drill." That’s what we got. -- Carl Safina

This is a cross post by Brenda at Censored News. Click on the title just below to link back. Thank you, Brenda.

Chevron Disrespects Indigenous Leaders Exposing True Cost of Chevron
Contacts: Diana Pei Wu,, 510-333-3889
Sangita Nayak,, 414-412-4518

Chevron Disrespects Community Leaders Exposing True Cost of Chevron

Indigenous and global leaders ignored by Chevron decision-makers, expect showdown at shareholder meeting

Hi res, rights free photos available at

Update: Protesters arrested outside Chevron stockholder meeting on Wednesday

HOUSTON -- After traveling from as far as Australia, Burma, Nigeria, Ecuador and Alaska, community leaders and authors of the newly released report "The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report" were rebuffed by Chevron CEO John Watson when they tried to deliver their report at the company's Houston office on Tuesday. The report details Chevron's human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the globe.

"Chevron refuses to face its own true cost. Community and Indigenous leaders came from around the world from the locations where Chevron operates, and they were left waiting in a lobby," said Antonia Juhasz, lead author and editor of the new report and director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange, calling the Chevron actions "disrespectful." She and the rest of the Coalition await the shareholder meeting tomorrow, where a Chevron representative agreed to a "point by point rebuttal" to the new report.

Indigenous community leaders Guillermo Grefa (Kichwa) from Rumipamba, Ecuador and Emem Okon from Nigeria accused Chevron's operations of causing the extinction of indigenous peoples, while Debora Barros Fince (Organizacion Wayuu Munserrat, La Guajira, Colombia) added that Chevron supports the paramilitary operations of the current government in Colombia. Grefa asked, "When are you going to clean up what you have contaminated?"

Many of the leaders demanded that Chevron be held accountable for the deaths of their community members, such as Reverend Ken Davis, from Richmond California, who said, "Chevron takes out profits, and I have to see people to their graves." T.J. Buonomo, a former U.S. Army military intelligence officer and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, challenged the Chevron representative on Chevron's practices lobbying the Iraq government and the U.S. government to allow oil extraction in Iraq while it is still under military occupation. He said, "You don't consider that inappropriate? You can't bring those lives back."

At the press conference preceding the confrontation with Chevron, Elias Isaac of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa in Angola said that "Chevron's CEO John Watson has said that he is "humbled" by BP's explosion in the U.S. Gulf, "instead, he should be ashamed of his own company's offshore operations which cause persistent, ongoing, daily abuses of the environment, our livelihoods, and public health." The devastation caused by Chevron's offshore operations was also the focus of remarks given by Tom Evans of Cook InletKeeper, Homer, Alaska and Emem Okon of Keebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in Nigeria.

The True Cost of Chevron network leaders, experts and supporters will be rallying outside the shareholder meeting, Wednesday, May 26, at 7 a.m., at 1500 Louisiana St in Houston, and over forty will be attending the shareholder meeting at 8 a.m.

They will also attend a Houston community-led toxic tour of Chevron's operations in the Houston Ship Channel immediately following the toxic tour.

Renowned Marine Biologist Carl Safina on the BP Oil Spill’s Ecological Impact on the Gulf Coast and Worldwide

Transcript from the above video:

As we continue our discussion on the BP oil spill, we turn to its long-term ecological impact. Carl Safina, the founding president of Blue Ocean Institute, warns the ecological fallout from the spill may be felt across much of the world. [includes rush transcript]

JUAN GONZALEZ: As we continue our discussion on the BP oil spill, we turn now to look at the long-term ecological impact of the spill. Our next guest testified before Congress last week and warned the fallout from the spill may be felt across much of the world. Joining us here in New York is Carl Safina, the founding president of Blue Ocean Institute. He’s author of many books about marine ecology and the ocean, including Song for the Blue Ocean.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

CARL SAFINA: Thanks for having me.

JUAN GONZALEZ: What message did you bring to Congress?

CARL SAFINA: Well, that this is not just a regional disaster, although it certainly is, but that the Gulf of Mexico is a tremendous engine of life and also a tremendous concentration zone, where animals from the whole open Atlantic Ocean funnel into the Gulf for breeding and millions of animals cross the Gulf and concentrate there on their northward migration and then fan out to populate much of North America and the Canadian Arctic, the East Coast, the Canadian Maritimes. So it’s a real hotspot, and it’s a terrible place to foul.


CARL SAFINA: The bluefin tuna that occupy most of the North Atlantic Ocean have two separate breeding populations. One breeds in the Mediterranean. The other breeds in the Gulf. So all the tuna that populate the East Coast, the Canadian Maritimes, the Gulfstream, even that go as far as the North Sea, many of those are from the western population and breed only in the Gulf of Mexico. This is their breeding season. They’ve just about finished now. And their eggs and larvae are drifting around in a toxic soup of oil and dispersant.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the dispersant Corexit.

CARL SAFINA: Well, the dispersant is a toxic pollutant that has been applied in the volume of millions of gallons and I think has greatly exacerbated the situation. I think the whole idea of using a dispersant is wrong, and I think it’s part of the whole pattern of BP trying to cover up and hide the body. They don’t want us to see how much oil, so they’ve taken this oil that was concentrated at the surface and dissolved it. But when you dissolve it, it’s still there, and it actually gets more toxic, because instead of being in big blobs, it’s now dissolved and can get across the gills, get into the mouths of animals. The water below the floating oil was water. Now it’s this toxic soup. So I think that in this whole pattern of BP trying to not let people know what’s going on, the idea of disperse the oil is a way of just hiding the body. But it actually makes the oil more toxic, and it adds this incredible amount of toxic pollutant in the dispersant itself.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the potential you were talking about, that this is the season when so much of the marine life and the bird life is creating their young, what is the effect on the birds, on those birds that are about to hatch or maybe are already in the process of hatching?

CARL SAFINA: Yeah, well, not only do you have birds there that are breeding, like the pelicans and some of the gulls and some of the terns, those birds will probably have a completely catastrophic breeding season, because it’s not just birds on the beach or birds in their nest. Their parents make a living diving into water. There’s no way around that. You can put booms that are twenty-feet high. They’re going to fly out to feed. And when I was there, we could see on the Chandeleur Islands quite a few of the terns were already lightly oiled, but they will just get progressively more and more oiled. And no amount of protecting the area where the nests are is going to change the fact that the parents are going to have a tremendous amount of trouble. And many of them will just get killed.

But also, there were sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, black belly plovers and a dozen other species that don’t stay there. They’re moving, and they’re migrating through. They come—they winter as far south as southern South America. They nest across the Canadian tundra and in the High Arctic. They’re some of the longest-distance migrants in the world. They cannot do that unless their fathers are working. And if their feathers are sticking together, they’re not going to be able to make it. They don’t have the energy to get to where they’re going to go. So they’re going to be dropping out along the way. The other thing is you have peregine falcons that are coming across from the Yucatan on their way to breeding grounds in the Arctic—excuse me—and as far away as Greenland. They will be selectively picking off these birds that are compromised. So they will be getting higher doses of oil. So this is just a horrible place to have something like this happening, because it’s such a concentration point for animals that move.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the question of bombing the actual—where the leak is coming from? Some say BP doesn’t want to do it, because then they would have to rebuild if they would ever get to offshore drill again. But what effect would that have?

CARL SAFINA: Oh, well, I’m not a—you know, I’m not a drilling technologist, and I don’t know if it would work. But actually, bombing part of the sea floor right there, I think, would have no real ecological effect other than the noise, which would affect marine mammals like dolphins and whales. But, you know, one or two blasts, I think, if it shut the oil off, would probably have been worth trying. But I don’t know if that would work.

AMY GOODMAN: Who do you think should be in charge of this operation, this cleanup operation?

CARL SAFINA: Well, BP had a lease to drill. They did not have a lease to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. They did not have a lease to blow oil into the environment. They did not have a lease to disperse the oil and try to hide the body. They don’t have a lease to clean up. They don’t have a lease to make the fishermen sick. They don’t have a lease to tell the United States, "We’ll keep using a dispersant that’s banned in Europe, even though you’re telling us to stop using it." They should have been shoved out of the way on day two. And there should have been a war council of all the other oil companies that know how to drill to focus on stopping the oil from coming out of the hole. And then BP’s responsibility—they are responsible, but they obviously don’t know what to do, and they can’t do it, and they’re not doing it. Their responsibility should be what they’re good at: pay money. Pay money to the United States. They’re on our property. They’re in our water. They’re making our people sick. They’re destroying our wildlife. Pay money and have the United States take over.

JUAN GONZALEZ: This whole issue of drilling in areas so deep that if there is an accident you cannot really get there to fix it, what is it—you know, to me, it’s almost like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. It’s like you never—you were guaranteeing people that it would never happen, but once it happens once, you realize the potential catastrophe that you are creating through this process. What is your sense of the future of ocean drilling, in terms of what this has told the rest of the people of the United States and the world?

CARL SAFINA: Right, well, there have been other blowouts, and there have been major oil spills. It’s different than Chernobyl because we know it happens. It happens. It’s happened before. It will happen again. And it’s happening right now. So, you know, and obviously they didn’t have any backup plan. It’s as if having poked 30,000 holes into the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico and have 5,000 rigs operating, it never occurred to them to say, "Oh, what if oil starts coming out of one of those holes, like it has in other places at other times?" They were completely unprepared. They don’t have the equipment. They don’t have booms that can work in open water. And what the obvious take-home message is, we don’t know how to do this. We can poke the hole. We don’t know how to deal with some things that we know happen, because they’ve happened. But people have not developed the technology or warehoused the tools or created booms that work in ocean swell conditions or any of that stuff. We’re trying to wring the last drops out of a depleting resource. And this really needs to be the pivotal moment where we say oil is declining, we need a national energy policy that looks past oil. You know, BP, at one time they said that their name meant "beyond petroleum." Now it’s "beyond pathetic." But we really need to get past oil.

AMY GOODMAN: What about "beyond prosecution"? Are they? And should they be held criminally liable?

CARL SAFINA: Of course they’re criminally responsible. They were trying to hurry up. When you have an argument on a rig about how fast to go and what to do, you don’t tell people, "Just hurry it up." I mean, this is absolutely criminal. And I think that—you know, we’re still asking, "Oh, can we go in? Can we use respirators?" This is insane.

AMY GOODMAN: The Atlantis, deepwater offshore drilling site, has that been shut down, which dwarfs the Horizon Deepwater?

CARL SAFINA: Actually, I don’t know if that’s still going on or has been shut down.

AMY GOODMAN: Has all offshore drilling been shut down? No?

CARL SAFINA: No, not at all. And in fact, unfortunately, the Obama administration, I think, blew it on the high ground here. You know, there was Sarah Palin, "drill, baby, drill," right? So we don’t want that; we elect Obama. And then what happens is we get "drill, baby, drill." That’s what we got. We got a stepped-up effort to eliminate the ban on offshore drilling that was, what, a couple of generations old. And now they’re stuck with that, because, of course, nobody wants to actually do the smart thing and say, "Oh, you know what? We made a mistake," because then, oh, they’ve lost face. So, oh, we can’t lose face. The obvious right thing is the drilling ban was the right thing to do. The drilling ban is the right thing to do. We don’t know how to take care of these problems. We need to stop it. We need to make this a pivotal moment and have a national energy policy for the first time that gets beyond this and phases out fossil fuels, which kill people, make people sick and detroy the environment.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for being with us, Carl Safina, founding president of the Blue Ocean Institute. He has written a number of books, including Song for the Blue Ocean.