Women's Enews announces its 21 Leaders
for the 21st Century--2003,
an awe-inspiring, reader-nominated list, with ages between 13
each making news, often at great personal risk, by confronting
of particular concern to women.
NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Women's Enews announced
its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century--2003, an awe-inspiring, reader-nominated
group of newsmakers demonstrating extraordinary commitment to creating
change on behalf of all women.
"And we are filled with excitement,
for what could be more cheerful, charge
our engines more, than reminding ourselves and all our readers
dedication and accomplishments of our contemporaries?" said
Jensen, Women's Enews editor in chief.
Readers Submitted 300 Nominees
Women's Enews advisory board made the final
selection from a list of 300
nominees submitted by readers. Each leader makes news by confronting,
often at great personal risk, issues of particular concern to
women. Women's Enews will honor each of the 21 Leaders for the
21st Century at its annual celebratory dinner, to be held in New
York on May 20th. The event will be chaired by noted broadcast
journalist Mary Alice Williams.
"The quality of the nominations and
the detailed biographies we received were
thrilling," said Henley Jensen. "The responses were
far beyond what we had
hoped, full of exciting, newsworthy leaders making fantastic contributions
the well-being of women. I read each submission and was profoundly
by the sincerity of the nominators and the idealism and leadership
The 21 Leaders, with ages that range from
13 to 83, were selected after the
Women's Enews board members and staff pored over the nominees'
biographies for hours, researching, asking questions, seeking
balance and diversity in every measurable way.
"In the end, we are delighted with
our choices, but still regret that we have
but 21 leaders to honor," Henley Jensen added.
Over the next three days, Women's Enews
will publish biographies of the
21 leaders--2003, but for now, we will tell you just a bit more
Ernesta Ballard, founder, Philadelphia
chapter of the National Organization
for Women; founder and first chair of Women's Way, a fund-raising
organization supporting women's organizations in the Philadelphia
region. Now 83, she remains active in the leadership of Women's
Martha Burk, chair, National Council
of Women's Organizations. Burk has made headlines most recently
for her outspoken campaign to persuade the Augusta National Golf
Club to admit women as members.
Susan Burton, founder, A New Way
of Life foundation, which assists newly
released inmates back into civilian life and helps them find job-training
other social services.
Luisa Cabal, human rights attorney,
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Cabal represented a Mexican
teen who was denied an abortion after becoming pregnant by her
Esther Chavez Cano, founder, Casa
Amiga, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The
organization offers medical, legal and psychological aid to victims
violence and sexual assault in a city rocked by the murders and
disappearances of at least 280 women and girls over the last 10
Eileen Fisher, designer. Her goal
is not only to design a popular clothing line,
but also to create a business environment in which her employees
find joy and
satisfaction in their work. The advertisements for Eileen Fisher
remarkable for the images of women featured, not stick-thin models,
employees. The company also runs socially responsible programs
in the United States and abroad.
Swanee Hunt, former U.S. ambassador
to Austria. She returned from Europe determined to change how
wars are fought and peace realized. She created Women Waging Peace
and is director, Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's
John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Rana Husseini, reporter with the
Jordan Times. Husseini was assigned the
crime beat at the newspaper and began to expose the legal system's
for the murders of girls and young women by their family members.
In addition, Women's Enews will award Rana Husseini the Ida B.
Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. She continues to report
the story of honor killings of Jordanian women despite accusations
that she is tarnishing the nation's image and responding to Western
Kenya Jordana James, at age 13,
is editorial director and founder of
Blackgirl Magazine, a bimonthly publication that promotes healthy
black teens while covering lifestyle and entertainment news.
Jill June, president, Planned Parenthood
of Greater Iowa. In 2002 despite the threat of being jailed, June
refused to turn over the results of hundreds of
pregnancy tests to a district attorney investigating the death
of a newborn.
Ann Kaplan, managing director at
Goldman Sachs. Kaplan heads a group
dedicated to increasing the firm's involvement with women clients
and has leveraged her influence on behalf of women throughout
financial world. She also helped Smith College launch a women's
education program with $2.5 million in seed money.
Her Highness Sheika Sabika Al-Khalifa,
of Bahrain. Sabika led the call
to vote in the country's 2002 election, its first democratic election
in 25 years.
She is also leading a campaign in Bahrain to advance women's rights
changing "the image of Bahraini women."
Jill Miller, executive director
of Women Work! The National Network For
Women's Employment. Miller manages the more than 1,000 programs
serve at least 400,000 women annually in the areas of employment,
and education. She also chaired a United Nations expert panel
training and lifelong learning of women.
Asseta Nagbila, coordinator of the
Hunger Project's literacy classes, health
and nutrition programs and training courses for women in her village
Burkina Faso. In a nation where women are not entitled to own
unusual project focuses on women gaining the rewards for what
has been unpaid labor.
Judy Norsigian, executive director
of the Boston Women's Health Book
Collective, which published the first edition of "Our Bodies,
1970. As a perhaps the most reliable source on women's health,
Norsigian has continued to provide thousands of women each year
the information they need to remain well or cope with illness.
Milbry Polk, activist and co-author
of "Women of Discovery: A Celebration of Intrepid Women Who
Explored the World," a chronicle of the stories of 84 of
history's greatest women explorers whose achievements might otherwise
lost. She writes that "the story of women explorers is as
old as time, as old
as myth, and as real as memory." Milbry is also working to
discoveries of women explorers and scientists are included in
Kavita Ramdas, president and chief
executive officer, Global Fund for Women, a grantmaking foundation
supporting women's human rights organizations around the world.
Born and raised in India and educated in the United States, Ramdas
has spent her professional life working on issues of poverty,
economic development and population. She has brought her international
knowledge and understandings to bear as the fund attempts to assist
women's economic independence, increase girls' access to education
and stop violence against women.
Amy Richards, co-author of "MANIFESTA:
Young Women, Feminism, and the Future." Through her ability
to strongly articulate the experiences and views of a new generation
of feminism--Third Wave feminism--she kindled its growth and broadened
its appeal. She is also a co-founder of the Third Wave
Foundation, which strives to combat inequities and build lasting
support for social activism around the country by empowering young
Elaine Roulet, creator, the Children's
Center program at Bedford Hills
Correctional Facility in New York. The center and other programs
by this member of a Roman Catholic religious order provide mothers
opportunities to be with their children, including living with
for up to one year and a seasonal day camp.
Elizabeth Sackler, philanthropist.
In 2002, Sackler created a permanent home for Judy Chicago's groundbreaking
piece "The Dinner Party" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art
and funded a permanent new wing of the museum dedicated to art
that impacts or addresses women. She also sponsored a major exhibition
of Chicago's other works at Washington, D.C.'s National Museum
of Women in the Arts.
Henna White, Jewish community liaison
for a Brooklyn, N.Y. district attorney where she reaches out to
battered women in the close-knit Hassidic enclaves. White also
co-founded Mothers to Mothers, which promoted dialogue and understanding
between Jewish and African American women in the Crown Heights
section of Brooklyn following the 1991 riots there.
The leaders all have made a significant
impact on the lives of women and girls
by alleviating a problem; striving for change; using the law to
pursue peace and justice; influencing the unaware; or showing
others their human potential and possibility for change. We are
pleased to honor them as our 21Leaders for the 21st Century.
Jordan Lite is assistant managing editor
of Women's Enews.
Sister Dianna Ortiz, an Ursuline
nun, is a human rights activist and advocate for victims of torture.
She is co-founder and director of the Torture Abolition and Survivors
Support Coalition International (TASSC), an
organization dedicated to ending the practice or torture by mobilizing
the collective voices of torture survivors.
In 1987, she went to the western highlands
of Guatemala to teach Mayan children to read and write (in Spanish
and their native language, K'anjobal). After months of receiving
threats, Sister Ortiz was abducted and brutally raped by armed
men in November 1989. She recounts this ordeal, and her struggle
to heal herself and uncover the truth about her abductors in her
new memoir, The Blindfold's Eyes, written with Patricia Davis.
One of the men overseeing the torture appeared to be American.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded that:
"Sister Ortiz was placed under surveillance and threatened,
then kidnapped and tortured, and that agents of the government
of Guatemala were responsible for these crimes. . . including
violating Dianna Ortiz's rights to 'humane treatment, personal
liberty, a fair trial, privacy, freedom of conscience and of religion,
freedom of association and judicial protection.'" Her ordeal
did not end with her escape.
Her torment continued as she sought answers
from the U.S. government about the identity of her torturers.
Ortiz's raw honesty and capacity to articulate the agony she suffered
compelled the United States to declassify long-secret files on
Guatemala, and shed light on some of the darkest moments of Guatemalan
history and American foreign policy.
Baghdad -- A candle clutched in
one hand, Elizabeth Boardman is bundled up in a chill desert wind,
standing outside the Al-Taji power-generating plant 15 miles from
The plant was destroyed by U.S. bombs in
the 1991 Gulf War, and if war comes again, as seems increasingly
likely, American missiles may once again reduce the plant to rubble.
Elizabeth Boardman, 61, is here to "bear witness," doing
her part, however small, and possibly in vain, to try to stop
"Saddam Hussein doesn't know me, and
I'm not here to support him," says Boardman, one of several
dozen foreign peace activists conducting a vigil in the cold Iraq
night air. "I'm here to stand with the Iraqi people, who
are suffering from U.S. policies that I think are completely wrong."
With war perhaps just weeks away, activists
such as Boardman have been coming to Iraq, and some say they will
stay even if the bombs start to fall and American soldiers fight
their way through the streets of Baghdad. They are here, they
insist, not to support the regime of Saddam Hussein -- "He's
an evil man," says Boardman -- but to remind the world of
the damage a war can bring.
Their presence angers critics who regard
activists like Boardman as propaganda dupes of a totalitarian
When actor and Marin County resident Sean
Penn visited Baghdad last week, he was labeled by some as a latter-day
"Hanoi Jane," a reference to actress Jane Fonda's notorious
visit to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Further ammunition
for such criticisms came when the Iraqi government claimed that
Penn agreed with its contention that the regime possessed no weapons
of mass destruction, an assertion angrily denied by Penn.
Boardman insists she is not driven by politics
or ideology. The executive director of the North and South Market
Adult Day Health Center, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides
medical care for senior citizens, Boardman describes herself as
a "hard-core Quaker pacifist."
The daughter of a World War II conscientious
objector, she protested U.S. intervention in Central America in
the 1980s by withholding her federal income taxes. Now, with a
war in Iraq seeming closer, she decided that Baghdad was the place
"My daughter said, 'Oh, Mom, you would
do this,' and a lot of other friends and family worry about me
here. And I was petrified for a while after I made the decision
to come," she says. "But I just remind people now of
the Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers who will be in real danger.
They're the ones to worry about."
Standing alongside Boardman outside the
Al-Taji power plant are Catholics, Mennonites, Jews and Buddhists,
prompted to come here, they say, by deeply held religious beliefs.
"The principal thing for me, for my
soul, is to identify with the victims," says Charles Liteky,
a former Army chaplain who says he plans to stay if war comes.
A San Francisco resident whose long career as an anti-war activist
has earned him two stints in federal prison, Liteky spends most
of his days here at a local orphanage run by Catholic nuns, helping
children with cerebral palsy to eat and play.
"I may be able to save a child in
the orphanage during the bombing, or administer first aid to somebody
in the neighborhood with the skills I learned in Vietnam,"
says the 71-year-old Liteky, who was awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor in 1968 when he carried 22 wounded soldiers to
safety during heavy combat in Vietnam.
Asked whether he would do the same for
a wounded American soldier fighting in Baghdad, Liteky responds,
"Of course I'd go get him, no matter whether he was an American
soldier or an Iraqi soldier. They're all human beings."
VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS
Liteky, Boardman and other activists are
members of an organization called Voices in the Wilderness, whose
headquarters is in Chicago. The anti-war group has brought dozens
of American delegations to Iraq since 1996 to protest U.S. policies
toward Iraq and U.N. sanctions, in effect since the 1991 Gulf
War, saying they have unfairly affected Iraq's civilian population.
After Voices in the Wilderness was fined
$20,000 by the Treasury Department for violating the U.S. ban
on travel to Iraq, members of the group traveled to Washington
earlier this month to deliver payment -- in virtually worthless
Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the
Wilderness, acknowledges that her organization's credibility was
tarred last September when it staged a demonstration outside U.N.
headquarters in Baghdad. Critics point out that demonstrations
except those staged by the government are usually banned.
It was "a disaster," she said.
"We're here to protest the fact that U.N. sanctions and U.S.
bombs have killed hundreds of thousands of children in the past
decade, but we get saddled somehow with being dupes."
Many of the activists seemed aware of the
contradictions of protesting against U.S. policies in a country
where free speech is sharply curtailed.
"If I got up in a church service here
and yelled, 'Down with Saddam,' I'd be tossed out of here, I wouldn't
last 24 hours," admits the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic
Maryknoll priest and longtime anti-war activist who just ended
a two-week visit with other religious activists, during which
they held a service at a local Chaldean Catholic church and read
a statement opposing a U.S. war. "There's control here that
I've never seen."
Many of the visiting Americans say that
whatever their misgivings about the political situation, they
have been surprised by the warmth and hospitality of everyday
Iraqis they have met.
"I expected people here to be very
angry at Americans, but I've found that they make distinctions
between the American people and our government, which is a lot
more than our government does in return," said Sister Simone
a Catholic nun who is a Sacramento lobbyist
for Jericho, an interfaith social- services coalition. "I
met a mother who can't get chemotherapy for her young boy with
cancer because the medicines are viewed as 'dual use,' "
referring to materials that the United Nations says could be used
for chemical or biological weapons. "It broke my heart. But
she was very sweet. She wasn't angry at me."
WHEN THE SHOOTING STARTS
But even those who say they are willing
to stay even if war comes know there may be little they can do
once the shooting starts.
"We couldn't stop a bomb with our
bodies, and we can't stop the war," said Kelly.
Nevertheless, for Boardman, who plans to
return to the Bay Area early next month, her visit to Iraq has
been more than a quixotic gesture. In addition to resuming her
day job, she says, she will be undertaking a hectic round of speaking
"I hope that my experience here can
help invigorate people back home who may think war is inevitable
and are losing hope," she says.
In the wake of the Enron scandal, and
Bush's bailing out of the Kyoto Protocol, Greenpeace and other
groups are targeting ExxonMobil as the number one political corrupter.
Greenpeace's new report, Denial and
Deception: A Chronicle of ExxonMobil's Efforts to Corrupt the
Global Warming Debate, details more than a decade of deliberate
and persistent efforts by ExxonMobil and its front groups to derail
the evolving global warming treaty and the scientific consensus
that urgently supports the international agreement. The report
also delves into emerging ties between the ExxonMobil agenda and
the damaging global warming legacy of the Bush Administration.
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Addresses Anti-War Gatherers at D.C. Rally
Saturday, October 26th, 2002
ANSWER Anti War Rally
I cannot come here to this place at this time with
all of you without first saying thank you Paul Wellstone . . .
for your wonderful example of true warrior patriotism, fighting
for our health care, for education, for our children, against
discrimination, against war. Thank you Paul and the Wellstone
And thank you for being here today. We
know that when good men do nothing . . . evil triumphs.
That is why we are here today, so that
it can never be said, that we good people of America did nothing
in the face of evil.
Evil is all around us today - in every
corner of the world. And sadly, even our own country is not the
same as it used to be.
The good ol' days are gone, but the bad
ol' boys remain.
And dangerous changes are daily taking
Even after a jury found that the FBI went
too far against Judy Bari and Darryl Cherney, their families--and
us--still don't have justice.
The USA Patriot Act and the Secret Evidence
Act erode our constitutional rights.
Hard-earned savings of generations of Americans
are being spent on the military and intelligence communities while
poverty and homelessness affect millions in every city and town
And now this Administration proposes to
take this country to war against Iraq.
Yet, all across our country and those of
our allies, veterans of the last war against Iraq still suffer
the health effects of Gulf War Syndrome. Our Vietnam era veterans
still suffer from exposure to Agent Orange while a new generation
of veterans are reeling from depleted uranium.
And they have not been taken care of.
Sadly, 25 percent of all the homeless men
and women who sleep on our streets every night, are our veterans
to whom we've already broken our promise.
How many more veterans does George W. Bush
want to create to whom we'll break our promise?
Mr. President, please look at the veterans
who are sleeping on the streets right across from your window
in the White House, Mr. President, please look.
Our government can monitor our cell phones,
the keystrokes on our computer keyboards, the books we read at
the library, but they can't give a warm meal and shelter to the
veterans who have served our country and who are now in need.
Something is terribly, terribly wrong.
And what about the young men and women
who now find themselves on the frontlines deployed in far away
places like Oman, Djibouti, Bahrain, Philippines, Uzbekistan,
George Bush signed an executive order waiving
the Administration's obligation to pay them their high deployment
If he would do this to our troops, what
will he do to us?
We need only remember Florida to answer
And Let us remember . . .
It's easy to talk war . . . if you've never
been to war.
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle,
Paul Wolfowitz, Rush Limbaugh, where were you when America called?
We slid into the Vietnam War with a Gulf
of Tonkin Resolution that turned out not to be true.
Your strength and courage is now being
We can stand back and do nothing or we
can protect this Republic, over America, from abuse.
We gathered here today, represent every
slice of America.
We are blacks and whites, Latinos, Asians,
and Native Americans; Christians, Muslims, and Jews; gay, lesbian,
and straight; immigrants and native-born Americans; rich and poor
and we've all come together as one.
Despite all our differences, we are here
today with one desire - to restore the true ideals of America.
Don't be fooled by what they may say about
you: You are the true patriots.
Our first President George spoke about
He spoke about what happens to true patriots
and how we might know them.
He warned us to beware the empty bellicose
flag waving of those who hold themselves out to be patriots. He
warned us against false patriotism. He cautioned that the true
patriot, the one who most loves his country, will become suspect
and odious and they will watch while the false patriots usurp
the applause of the people; the true patriots will know that our
country's founding interests are being surrendered.
That first President George was George
Washington. Read his farewell address.
We've known true patriots in our day: like
JFK, RFK, and MLK.
But you too are patriots. And today, you
are standing up for what is right and good about our country.
We have become the guardians for an America
that will be loved around the world and not just feared.
Against today's backdrop of Washington
DC, the most powerful capital city on the planet, I dream of the
day when the power of love replaces the power of might.
That will be the day when our world will
know the blessings of peace and our Republic will be in the hands
of the people.
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Habiba Sarabi Named
New Minister of Women Affairs in Afghanistan
Being named Minister of Women Affairs in
Afghanistan is not for the meek. As the last Minister belatedly
appointed by the new government, Habiba Sarabi will have to continue
to be a concerted and courageous activist to fulfill her new role
in a country that only last year was known for its policies of
Habiba Sarabi's commitment to equality
is rooted in her upbringing. "I was the only girl in a family
with four sons and did not get much attention from my father.
I decided that I wanted to struggle for women's rights and enjoy
the same status that my brothers had." Her determination
brought her to a life of activism that reaches beyond her personal
During the Taliban rule, Habiba Sarabi
risked her life as a teacher for girls in underground schools.
In 1998 Ms. Sarabi joined the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL),
a Global Fund grantee, which teaches young girls their native
languages, basic education and interpretations of the Koran that
honor their lives as girls. In her three years with AIL, Habiba
worked as a Teacher Trainer, facilitated human rights workshops,
managed AIL's Health Education and Training program and then became
General Manager of the entire organization. Habiba has worked
with many nongovernmental organizations on health issues and income-generating
activities for women - experiences that will surely guide her
new role as Minister of Women Affairs in Afghanistan.
Author of "Desert Flower:
The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad"
UNFPA GOODWILL AMBASSADOR, WARIS DIRIE,
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 17 April 2001
The United Nations Population Funds Goodwill Ambassador
for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, Waris Dirie,
has been honoured by a United States charity, Childhelp USA, for
her efforts to curb the practice. Childhelp, which is dedicated
to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, granted her its
Guardian Angel Award on 12 April at a ceremony in Scottsdale,
The Goodwill Ambassador was recognized
for her incredible bravery and strength, according to a Childhelp
statement read by an Arizona television news anchorwoman, Robin
Sewell. Its hard to imagine the physical pain that
Waris Dirie endured as a child and the emotional pain she has
had to cope with as an adult. Waris has truly turned her
'pain' into a 'platform'. Her efforts are bringing hope to the
victims of FGM.
Somali-born Ms. Dirie works with the UNFPA
to help eliminate FGM, which is performed on about two million
women and girls annually. She speaks to policy makers, donors
and the public worldwide about FGM and the need to support programmes
to prevent and end it. Her book, Desert Flower, which narrates
her experience with the practice, has been a best-seller in Europe
and she has been featured on the cover of popular magazines such
as Readers Digest and Marie Claire
The UNFPA is the worlds largest multilateral
source of population assistance. Since it became operational in
1969, it has provided more than $5 billion in assistance to developing
countries. The United Nations General Assembly has welcomed the
positive contributions the Fund has made since then in improving
the quality of human life.
Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad"is
the story of Waris Dirie. Dirie's beauty led her to a career as
a fashion model, but her experience as a young girl subjected
to circumcision led her to speakout against the practice and eventually
become a human rights ambassador to the United Nations. In this
book, Dirie describes her journey from her childhood in a traditional
family of desert nomads in Somalia. When her father attempts to
arrange for 12-year-old Dirie to marry an old man, the strong-willed
girl flees her family and her culture's stifling traditions for
women. She runs away to Mogadishu and eventually gets a job as
a maid for an uncle whois the Somalian ambassador to England.
When the uncle returns to Somalia, Dirie stays in London and begins
a career as a model. The most compelling portions of Dirie's story
are her graphic portrayals of the practice of female genital mutilation
and the impact it has on women who long to control their bodies
and their lives."
Widely practised in many African countries,
female genital mutilation (FGM) involves partial or total removal
of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female
genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.
"Because women and girls are not valued
equally as human beings, they are treated as less than such. Female
genital mutilation is one example of this that has to be stopped,"
said Ms. Dirie.
A native of Somalia born into a nomadic
family, Ms. Dirie survived the traditional form of female genital
mutilation that kills hundreds of women every year -- a younger
sister and two cousins died from the procedure.
At age 13, just before she could be married
off to an elderly man, she ran away from home. Eventually she
found her way to London. After achieving international success
as a fashion model, she decided to tell the public of her ordeal
and to dedicate her life to ending FGM and improving the status
St. Paul, Minn. -- Sen. Paul Wellstone,
D-Minn., a leading liberal voice in Congress who was locked in
a tight re-election campaign, was killed in a plane crash in his
home state Friday.
His high school sweetheart and wife of
39 years, Sheila, their 33-year-old daughter, Marcia Markuson,
three campaign aides and two pilots also died in the fiery crash,
which obliterated the 11-seat turboprop among the pine trees.
Wellstone was on his way to the funeral
of a state lawmaker's father when the plane went down in a light
snow near Eveleth in northern Minnesota. The cause of the crash
was under investigation.
"As adults, we don't have a lot of
heroes. But he was my hero," said Charlie Bulman, one of
thousands of Wellstone supporters who gathered on the steps of
the state Capitol in St. Paul Friday night to mourn the senator.
Wellstone was a leading champion of liberal
causes in the "happy warrior" tradition of Minnesota
But he also was a product of the turbulent
1960s --one of the decade's few activist organizers to wind up
in the Senate. He was, as Mother Jones magazine noted, "the
first 1960s radical elected to the U.S. Senate."
In keeping with his maverick politics,
the 58-year-old former political science professor and community
organizer was a lonely dissenter in one of the last votes he cast
before Congress went home to campaign last week. He was the only
senator facing a tough re-election fight to vote against empowering
President Bush to use military force against Iraq. To have done
otherwise, he said, would have violated the principles that guided
his whole career.
In his 12 years in the Senate, Wellstone,
often described as one of Congress' last unabashed liberals, rejected
the notion that government had grown too big. He stood as a rarely
wavering advocate of its use to help the poor.
"Paul Wellstone was the soul of the
Senate," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD. "He
was one of the most noble and courageous men I have ever known.
The nation has lost a fearless public servant and tireless advocate
Even in his own party, Wellstone often
was in the minority, sometimes a lone dissenter. He made long
speeches --too long in the view of some colleagues. But his speeches,
frequently delivered after most senators had gone home, nearly
always conveyed a personal passion and sense of commitment that
stood out from the scripted rhetoric so common in Congress these
His causes were legion: universal health
care, more federal spending for education, safeguards for human
and civil rights, ethics in government, worker protections and
better mental health care. He cast one of the few Senate votes
against the 1996 welfare reform law, which trimmed benefits, and
voted in 1991 against authorizing the Persian Gulf War.
In one of his last fights, he held out
against bankruptcy law chanages that were widely supported in
Congress, arguing they would benefit banks and credit card companies
at the expense of financially strapped consumers.
He worked extensively across the Senate's
political and ideological divide to pass bills on an array of
issues, including a ban on gifts to lawmakers, domestic violence
legislation, insurance coverage for mental illness and agricultural
issues. He was widely liked and admired for his principled positions,
even by his political foes.
Former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole
choked up Friday when he told a television interviewer that Wellstone
was "a decent, genuine guy who had a different philosophy
from almost everyone else in the Senate."
Before he entered politics, Wellstone in
1969 was a political science professor at Carleton College in
Northfield, Minn. He was active in the liberal causes of the day
and, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, was almost fired
for being too focused on his activist pursuits, which included
leading protests in sympathy with striking Hormel meatpackers.
He got arrested picketing a bank that had foreclosed on farmers.
Wellstone ran unsuccessfully for state
auditor and managed Jesse Jackson's 1968 presidental campaign
in Minnesota. In keeping with his audacious style, when he ran
for office again, he didn't bother with a midlevel post, but aimed
high: a 1990 challenge to Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn.
Wellstone pulled off the year's only upset,
winning by two percentage points. Six years later, Wellstone and
Boschwitz staged a rematch, and Wellstone won again, this time
by a comfortable margiin.
He made a few early mistakes, some of which
would haunt him. After he won his first Senate race, he promised
to serve only two terms, figuring it sounded right at the time,
he later said. But he loved the Senate and didn't want to leave
without accomplishing more goals, especially at a time of national
crisis, he said in explaining why he broke the pledge to seek
a third term in 2002.
He also infuriated veterans groups when
he went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to oppose the Persian
Gulf War. He apologized and went on to champion veterans' causes.
In 1997, Wellstone organized a poverty
tour reminiscent of a trip taken by Robert F. Kennedy 30 years
earlier, and the next year he signaled his intention to run for
the Democratic presidential nomination. But in early 1999, a bad
back forced him to drop out.
Wellstone is surved by two sons, David
and Mark, and six grandchildren.
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One of the last active
of Mahatma Gandhi
with a visit
October 18 -
Dwarkoji has devoted his entire
to working with the poorest of the poor
in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
At 80 years old, he is making
this long journey to the U.S. It may be our last chance in the
Bay Area to be with him
Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, October 26, 2002
Medea Benjamin is not only one of
San Francisco's leading activists, she's the Zelig of political
protest. And with the country inching toward war, the 50-year-old
Noe Valley resident has never been in so many different scenes.
She made national news for interrupting
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as he pitched his war plan to
Congress last month. And for getting arrested at President Bush's
August speech in Stockton. And for her street theater outside
Vice President's Dick Cheney's appearance that month in San Francisco.
In her quest to stop a U.S. invasion of
Iraq, the former Green Party U.S. Senate nominee banged pots and
pans in front of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's Washington,
D.C., home before dawn last month (a "wake-up call"),
and spoke Thursday at the United Nations press correspondent's
Saturday, Benjamin will speak in Washington,
D.C., at what's expected to be the nation's largest post-Sept.
11 anti-war demonstration. In San Francisco, the same kind of
event will begin with an 11 a.m. march starting from Justin Herman
Plaza and ending with a 1 p.m. rally at Civic Center Plaza. Similar
demonstrations will be held in other U.S. cities and around the
The San Francisco and Washington events
are co-sponsored by the San Francisco nonprofit Global Exchange,
which Benjamin co-founded in 1988. The group is a vocal advocate
of peace, justice and other social issues.
For the past 20 years that she has lived
in San Francisco, Benjamin has appeared seemingly everywhere,
like the fictional Zelig of the Woody Allen film, speaking out
on everything from corporate sweatshops to self-rule in East Timor
to California's energy crisis.
AUTHOR AND LECTURER
While the current anti-war movement has
her dipping deep into her bottomless bag of activist theater tricks,
Benjamin is more than just a sidewalk vaudevillian. She's the
author of eight books, official observer at a dozen international
elections and, thanks in part to contacts developed during her
unsuccessful Senate run two years ago, has developed into a popular
lecturer. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader calls her "a rising
player" on the national progressive scene.
Five feet tall, and no more than a veggie
burrito over 100 pounds, she can't lift her left arm above her
head, the result of having it twisted behind her back during the
estimated four dozen times she's been escorted off the premises.
She rarely spends more than a few hours in jail, and San Francisco
police Lt. Morris Tabak said, "She's always been very professional
when we've dealt with her."
For the past two months, this mother of
two -- one is a 12-year-old; the other, from a previous marriage,
just graduated from college -- has shuttled back and forth to
Washington, sleeping on friends' couches while she lobbies legislators
by day and corrals fellow anti-war activists by night. Colleagues
and adversaries agree she's tireless. The toll: She and her husband
spend only two days a month together.
"While you see Medea all of these
places, what she's really good at is organizing behind the scenes,"
said Deborah James, who has worked with her at Global Exchange
for nine years. James wouldn't have been able to help lead the
widely-noted interruption of Secretary of State Colin Powell at
Earth Summit II in South Africa last month, "without knowing
Medea. I was kind of trying to think what she would do there."
WORLD OF CHANGES
Yet before she adopted the name "Medea"
as a Tufts University freshman, she was Susie Benjamin, self-described
"nice Jewish girl from Long Island." A high school cheerleader
who dated the school's top athlete. Benjamin jokes that her mother's
favorite form of protest was "returning something at Saks
that she had kept for a year."
Her father, Al, is a well-to-do developer,
who says he has "donated hundreds of thousands" of dollars
to Global Exchange over its 14-year-history. No strings attached,
say both Al and Medea Benjamin. Al has supported Jewish- related
charities; Medea supports a Palestinian state. Said the daughter,
with a smile, "It's best that families don't talk about some
"I admire Susie because she is always
true to her own heart," said Al Benjamin; only her family
still calls her "Susie." "Even when I totally don't
agree with what she's saying."
Young Susie Benjamin's first major experience
with the big, bad world happened when her older sister's GI boyfriend
mailed home the ear of a Viet Cong. It jolted the 15-year-old
Benjamin out of her insulated Long Island life.
During a trip with friends to Tijuana two
years later, she was shocked to see young children starving on
She spent a year at Tufts, and then told
her parents she would continue her studies abroad. Once overseas,
however, she dropped out of school and bolted across Europe and
Africa. She hitchhiked alone, supporting herself by teaching English,
picking grapes and doing odd jobs.
By now, Susie had become Medea. Long fascinated
by the Greek tragedies, she tried on other names -- "Io"
Benjamin didn't ring -- until deciding to reclaim "Medea."
"I just didn't believe the story,"
she said wryly of the classic tragedy. "What woman would
kill her kids for a guy? I think she was a strong woman, and some
people just made up the story to discredit her."
RAPED IN FRANCE
Overseas, her fearlessness blossomed. When
Benjamin was 19, she was raped in France by a man who gave her
a ride. Yet she continues hitchhiking, spending last summer thumbing
across Sicily with her college-age daughter. "Once, I got
mugged two blocks from work (in the Mission District)," she
said. "Does that mean I stop walking to work?"
In Africa, she gravitated to refugee camps,
trying to save children from starvation. She tears up, remembering
the 3-year-old boy dying in her arms in Mozambique. Blunting the
world's inequities that allow some children to starve and others
to grow up in comfort would become her life work.
She returned to New York and, after passing
undergraduate equivalency tests,
earned master's degrees in economics and
public health. She returned to Africa and then went to Cuba with
her first husband, who was coach of the national basketball team;
Benjamin hates sports.
Yet at first, Cuba's comparative social
equality "made it seem like I died and went to heaven."
Then she bumped into the limitations of free speech while working
at a Communist-run newspaper; she was deported after daring to
write an anti-government article. She headed to San Francisco
in 1983 for a job with Food First/The Institute for Food and Development
Policy. She and her husband split up shortly afterward.
By the time she landed in San Francisco,
she began thinking about doing something that would incorporate
her growing number of interests.
"Medea likes to say that I radicalized
her, but she was already pretty radicalized by the time she got
(to college)," said Joan Gussow, a professor emeritus of
nutrition and education at Teachers College Columbia University,
where Benjamin earned her public health degree. "She was
always asking questions, always wanting to know how things fit
Benjamin believes all of her pet struggles
are related. Whether it's Cambodian sweatshops or California energy
providers, Benjamin said they're all the fruits of wealthy corporations
owning mainstream media, holding politicians in a money-girded
hammerlock, and stocking university boards of regents with their
top corporate officers.
The result of this influence, according
to Benjamin: The average citizen or worker can't be heard over
the jangling of corporate coins. So she, often backed by Global
Exchange's $4.1 million annual budget and international Rolodex,
is their mouthpiece.
Her fearlessness has drawn the admiration
of political adversaries like former South Bay Republican Congressman
Tom Campbell, who got to know Benjamin during their Senate race.
The one where Benjamin's lasting TV image is her being hauled
away from a debate to which she wasn't invited.
Even though Campbell disagrees with Benjamin
on everything from Iraq to her disruption of Rumsfeld's Congressional
testimony, he understands her motives.
"She's very well-informed and researched
on all of her issues. I wish her views to be heard," said
Campbell, who vainly fought for Benjamin to be included in his
2000 Senate debate against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
"I wish she didn't have to resort
to theater so often. But our system only hears people who are
of the two major parties."
Others defend her omnipresence.
SEEN A LOT
"Would you say that Wal-Mart is in
too many locations or that Disney has too many characters,"
said consumer advocate Nader, a former Green Party presidential
candidate. "She has seen a lot of tragedies around the world.
You don't forget the stuff that she's seen."
It was on a trip to Washington, D.C., in
the mid-1980s that she met her now- husband Kevin Danaher, a tough-talking
activist. He asked the then-vegetarian out to dinner -- to a steak
restaurant. They've been together ever since.
"While I wanted to save the world
one child at a time, Kevin always says, 'Let's get the bastards
who are doing it to these kids.' "
Back in 1977,
when a group of idealistic journalists founded the nonprofit Center
for Investigative Reporting, muckraking was in demand.
Washington Post reporters had just helped
topple President Richard Nixon, and a new generation of journalists
signed up for the same type of endeavor.
Over the years, some academics say, the
media, controlled by a shrinking number of large corporations,
has lost some of its appetite for investigative journalism.
"It has been clear for many years
how cuts in news operations -- both newspapers and TV -- have
been limiting the depth of many newspapers and newscasts,"
Ted Pease, head of the Department of Journalism and Communication
at Utah State University, said in an e-mail.
The center certainly concurs.
"Investigative reporting is a money-loser
for journalistic corporations," said Burt Glass, executive
director of the center. "It's expensive, stories may not
pan out, and you make a lot of enemies."
But the center, based in San Francisco's
Financial District, doesn't really worry about any of those things.
As a nonprofit, it doesn't concern itself with whether a story
will make money, or enemies. It only wants its work to have an
As the center marks its 25th anniversary,
it can see results. Congress and many states have passed legislation
directly inspired by the center's reporting.
Reporters working at the center have won
nearly every major journalism prize save the Pulitzer. (Its alumni,
including such heavyweights as Jeff Gerth of the New York Times,
have gone on to win Pulitzers.)
Its work has appeared in a variety of media
outlets, from regional newspapers like The Chronicle to national
network news shows, such as "60 Minutes," "Frontline"
and the "NBC Nightly News."
The center has exposed how toxic waste
gets shipped from the United States to the Third World; how pesticides
banned in the United States come back to this country on food
grown elsewhere; and how the illegal trade in weapons operates.
Certainly, a wide range of outstanding
investigative work appears in the mainstream media, such as the
Boston Globe's reporting on sex scandals among Catholic priests,
which kick-started a national furor. Large newspapers remain committed
to investigative work, according to Brant Houston, executive director
of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a professional association
of more than 4,000 journalists based at the University of Missouri's
But staff cuts -- often made in the name
of boosting profit margins -- have taken a toll on in-depth reporting.
Marilyn Greenwald and Joseph Bernt, journalism professors at Ohio
University, studied three months' worth of nine daily papers from
1980 and 1995 and found that the number of investigative reports
had been cut almost in half over that period.
Corporations have also lost the stomach
for hard-hitting reports, because of investigative projects that
backfired and led to lengthy legal battles, including notorious
cases like the Cincinnati Enquirer's expose of Chiquita Banana
Corp. and ABC News' undercover look at Food Lion supermarkets.
The economics of the center's investigation
into the weapons trade, which came out this year, illustrates
why for-profit media outlets may be reluctant to tackle ambitious
The 25-minute TV program, "Gunrunners:
The Story of U.N. Sanctions, War, and Illegal Trade in Sierra
Leone" aired on the PBS series "Frontline/World,"
and the report was also featured on National Public Radio and
in the New York Times.
But it did not come cheaply. Glass said
the cost of producing the program ran $443,310. The center --
known as CIR -- raised $175,000 in grants for the show. "Frontline"
paid $211,988. The rest -- more than $55,000 -- came out of the
center's general funds. NPR and the New York Times did not pay
"Just to insure two crews for two
trips to this area (of West Africa) cost $20,000," Glass
The center employs about 12 people and
has an annual budget of about $1 million. It gets its funding
mostly from foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of
New York, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation and the Deer Creek Foundation. This year, the center
has published or broadcast about two dozen pieces, ranging from
a PBS documentary to a sidebar in the Nation.
Fans of investigative journalism say the
center performs a valuable service.
"They've done fine work over the years,"
said Houston, at Investigative Reporters and Editors. "A
lot of people have come and gone out of there who are top-notch
people. "They have an awfully good track record."
Louis Wiley, executive editor of "Frontline,"
said "The center is vital because it works not only with
public media but with commercial media as well. That's terrific.
They ought to be getting in front of as many audiences as possible."
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
The center has its origins in the desire
of some aggressive journalists to create a platform on which they
could do their work without being beholden to any one publisher.
Lowell Bergman -- later immortalized in
the movie "The Insider," in which Al Pacino played Bergman,
then a "60 Minutes" producer working on an expose of
the tobacco industry -- and David Weir were working for Rolling
Stone. Bergman was exposing organized crime. Among Weir's noteworthy
projects were behind-the- scenes reports on Patty Hearst's activities
with the Symbionese Liberation Army.
In 1977, however, Jann Wenner, founder
of Rolling Stone, moved his magazine from San Francisco to New
York and said he was changing direction. Bergman and Weir were
out of work.
"The irony of San Francisco, with
all due respect to The Chronicle and the Examiner, is there wasn't
any place where you could do in-depth reporting. Yet there were
a huge number of people wanting to do it," Bergman said.
He had been inspired by his work on a project
in Arizona. In 1976, a car bomb took the life of Don Bolles, a
reporter for the Arizona Republic who had written tough stories
about local business people and about the mob. A group of reporters
came together to continue Bolles' work after his death.
Bergman not only saw the power of reporters
teaming up, but also hooked up with Dan Noyes, a former journalist
who was leading a reporting project for a Los Angeles nonprofit,
the Urban Policy Research Institute.
Bergman, Noyes and Weir founded the center,
first in Bergman's house in Berkeley and then, with a $3,000 grant
from a small family foundation called the Stern Fund, in an office
in downtown Oakland.
The center operated much like a freelance
journalist does, working on projects and pitching them to various
outlets. Its first big story was a critical look at how the Black
Panthers had descended into thuggish behavior. Panther leader
Huey Newton threatened a lawsuit, but never filed it. (Glass said
the center has never been sued for a story, which he called a
testament to the accuracy of its reporting.)
Money was always tight. "We thought:
The money might run out, but at least we'll get a few projects
off the ground," said Noyes, who is CIR's editorial director.
"We had no idea we'd be around for 25 years."
By early 1981, "we weren't sure we
were going to make it," Noyes said. But Bob Maynard, editor
of the Oakland Tribune, helped arrange a $5,000 grant from the
Gannett Foundation, and CIR produced "Circle of Poison,"
a probe into how goods banned in the United States get exported
around the world.
"Circle of Poison" became a book
and was the lead story on the "NBC Nightly News." Legislation
to regulate the export of hazardous chemicals was proposed - -
but not passed -- in Congress. CIR was on the map. " 'Circle
of Poison' helped make foundations and people in the media see
how important the work we were doing was," Noyes said. "That
helped us get through the early '80s."
CIR's founders believe that society's demand
for their type of work comes in periodic waves.
The founders hope that now, as in the era
of Vietnam and Watergate, muckraking is once again in demand.
"It's a very good time for investigative
reporting," said Weir, a veteran of Rolling Stone, Mother
Jones, Wired, Salon.com and the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner,
and now a journalism teacher at Stanford University. "We
have corporate corruption, the buildup to war, and the threat
to our civil liberties. . . .
"When people in America are saying
things are not quite right, and they're looking for change, that's
a good time for investigative reporting to look for answers."
We call on women around the world to rise
up and oppose the war in Iraq. We call on mothers, grandmothers,
sisters and daughters, on workers, students, teachers, healers,
artists, writers, singers, poets, and every ordinary outraged
woman willing to be outrageous for peace.
Women have been the guardians of life-not
because we are better or purer or more innately nurturing than
men, but because the men have busied themselves making war. Because
of our responsibility to the next generation, because of our own
love for our families and communities and this country that we
are a part of, we understand the love of a mother in Iraq for
her children, and the driving desire of that child for life.
Our leaders tell us we that we can easily
afford hundreds of billions of dollars for this war. But in the
United States of America, many of our elders who have worked hard
all their lives now must choose whether to buy their prescription
drugs, or food. Our children's education is eroded. The air they
breathe and the water they drink are polluted. Vast numbers of
women and children live in poverty.
If we cannot afford health care, quality
education and quality of life, how can we afford to squander our
resources in attacking a country that is no proven immediate threat
to us? We face real threats every day: the illness or ordinary
accident that could plunge us into poverty, the violence on our
own streets, the corporate corruption that can result in the loss
of our jobs, our pensions, and our security.
In Iraq today, a child with cancer cannot
get pain relief or medication because of sanctions. Childhood
diarrhea has again become a major killer. 500,000 children have
already died from inadequate health care, water and food supplies
due to sanctions. How many more will die if bombs fall on Baghdad,
or a ground war begins?
We cannot morally consent to war while
paths of peace and negotiation have not been pursued to their
fullest. We who cherish children will not consent to their murder.
Nor do we consent to the murder of their mothers, grandmothers,
fathers, grandfathers, or to the deaths of our own sons and daughters
in a war for oil.
We love our country, but we will never
wrap ourselves in red, white and blue. Instead, we announce a
Code Pink alert: signifying extreme danger to all the values of
nurturing, caring, and compassion that women and loving men have
held. We choose pink, the color of roses, the beauty that like
bread is food for life, the color of the dawn of a new era when
cooperation and negotiation prevail over force.
We call on all outraged women to join us
in taking a stand, now. And we call upon our brothers to join
with us and support us. These actions will be initiated by women,
but not limited to women. Stand in the streets and marketplaces
of your towns with banners and signs of dissent, and talk to your
neighbors. Stand before your elected representatives: and if they
will not listen, sit in their offices, refusing to leave until
they do. Withdraw consent from the warmongers. Engage in outrageous
acts of dissent. We encourage all actions, from public education
and free speech to nonviolent civil disobedience that can disrupt
the progress toward war.
"We don't want to fight the old system
--we want to build a new one."
Susan Collin Marks
The PEACE X PEACE Global
Network is being designed to connect women-based groups in the
U.S. in one-on-one relationships through the Internet with women-based
groups working in their home nations outside the U.S. for the
conditions necessary to achieve and maintain peace.
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The Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
(ASATA) works to educate, organize, and empower the Bay Area South
Asian communities to end violence, oppression, racism and exploitation
within and against our diverse communities
CONTEMPT OF COURT: Arundhati
Roy, left, Booker Prize winner and activist, being greeted in
New Delhi on Mar. 7, 02 after spending a day in jail. The Supreme
Court had found her guilty of contempt of court and also fined
her Rs. 2,000 ($41). The ruling came after the apex court took
suo motu notice of an affidavit Roy had filed last year, in
which she had criticized a decision of the court. (Photo: AFP) NewsIndia
As the US prepares to wage a new kind
Arundhati Roy challenges the instinct for vengeance
Saturday September 29, 2001
the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks
on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster
said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly
as they did last Tuesday. People who we don't know massacred people
who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee." Then he
broke down and wept.
Here's the rub: America is at war against
people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before
it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature
of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and
embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition
against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy
and its media, and committed them to battle.
The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off
to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If
it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back
home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will
develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and
we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.
What we're witnessing here is the spectacle
of the world's most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily,
for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war. Suddenly, when it
comes to defending itself, America's streamlined warships, cruise
missiles and F-16 jets look like obsolete, lumbering things. As
deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its
weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the
weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger
is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show
up in baggage checks.
Who is America fighting? On September 20,
the FBI said that it had doubts about the identities of some of
the hijackers. On the same day President George Bush said, "We
know exactly who these people are and which governments are supporting
them." It sounds as though the president knows something that
the FBI and the American public don't.
In his September 20 address to the US Congress,
President Bush called the enemies of America "enemies of freedom".
"Americans are asking, 'Why do they hate us?' " he said.
"They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom
of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each
other." People are being asked to make two leaps of faith here.
First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says it
is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim.
And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives are what the US government
says they are, and there's nothing to support that either.
For strategic, military and economic reasons,
it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their
commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life
is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and
anger, it's an easy notion to peddle. However, if that were true,
it's reasonable to wonder why the symbols of America's economic
and military dominance - the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon
- were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue
of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks
has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the
US government's record of commitment and support to exactly the
opposite things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency,
military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide
(outside America)? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently
bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears
and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. It isn't
indifference. It's just augury. An absence of surprise. The tired
wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around.
American people ought to know that it is not them but their government's
policies that are so hated. They can't possibly doubt that they
themselves, their extraordinary musicians, their writers, their
actors, their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are universally
welcomed. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace shown
by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the
days since the attacks.
America's grief at what happened has been
immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it
to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity
if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand
why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to
usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own.
Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions
and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing,
we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.
The world will probably never know what motivated
those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular
American buildings. They were not glory boys. They left no suicide
notes, no political messages; no organisation has claimed credit
for the attacks. All we know is that their belief in what they were
doing outstripped the natural human instinct for survival, or any
desire to be remembered. It's almost as though they could not scale
down the enormity of their rage to anything smaller than their deeds.
And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In
the absence of information, politicians, political commentators
and writers (like myself) will invest the act with their own politics,
with their own interpretations. This speculation, this analysis
of the political climate in which the attacks took place, can only
be a good thing.
But war is looming large. Whatever remains
to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at
the helm of the "international coalition against terror",
before it invites (and coerces) countries to actively participate
in its almost godlike mission - called Operation Infinite Justice
until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to
Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice,
and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some
small clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice/Enduring
Freedom for whom? Is this America's war against terror in America
or against terror in general? What exactly is being avenged here?
Is it the tragic loss of almost 7,000 lives, the gutting of five
million square feet of office space in Manhattan, the destruction
of a section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands
of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in
the New York Stock Exchange? Or is it more than that? In 1996, Madeleine
Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national
television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children
had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that
it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered,
"we think the price is worth it". Albright never lost
her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing
the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently,
the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to
So here we have it. The equivocating distinction
between civilisation and savagery, between the "massacre of
innocent people" or, if you like, "a clash of civilisations"
and "collateral damage". The sophistry and fastidious
algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to
make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead
American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How
many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch
mesmerised, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across
the world. A coalition of the world's superpowers is closing in
on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries
in the world, whose ruling Taliban government is sheltering Osama
bin Laden, the man being held responsible for the September 11 attacks.
The only thing in Afghanistan that could
possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among them,
half a million maimed orphans.There are accounts of hobbling stampedes
that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible
villages.) Afghanistan's economy is in a shambles. In fact, the
problem for an invading army is that Afghanistan has no conventional
coordinates or signposts to plot on a military map - no big cities,
no highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment plants.
Farms have been turned into mass graves. The countryside is littered
with land mines - 10 million is the most recent estimate. The American
army would first have to clear the mines and build roads in order
to take its soldiers in.
Fearing an attack from America, one million
citizens have fled from their homes and arrived at the border between
Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN estimates that there are eight
million Afghan citizens who need emergency aid. As supplies run
out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave - the BBC reports
that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent times has
begun to unfold. Witness the infinite justice of the new century.
Civilians starving to death while they're waiting to be killed.
In America there has been rough talk of "bombing
Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the
news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it's any consolation,
America played no small part in helping it on its way. The American
people may be a little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is
(we hear reports that there's a run on maps of the country), but
the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.
In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,
the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched
the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose
was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and
expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim
countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and
eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was meant to be the
Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that.
Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost
100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers
for America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were
unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of
Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it
was financing a future war against itself.)
In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years
of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a
civilisation reduced to rubble.
Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad
spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued
to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become
immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers
to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up
hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years
of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become
the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest
source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said
to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training
and arming militants.
In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect
of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power
in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that old cohort of the
CIA, and supported by many political parties in Pakistan. The Taliban
unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people,
particularly women. It closed down girls' schools, dismissed women
from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws under which women
deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows
guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban government's
human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in any
way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of
war, or the threat to the lives of its civilians.
After all that has happened, can there be
anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy
Afghanistan? The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping
more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble
some old graves and disturb the dead.
The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was
the burial ground of Soviet communism and the springboard of a unipolar
world dominated by America. It made the space for neocapitalism
and corporate globalisation, again dominated by America. And now
Afghanistan is poised to become the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers
who fought and won this war for America.
And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan
too has suffered enormously. The US government has not been shy
of supporting military dictators who have blocked the idea of democracy
from taking root in the country. Before the CIA arrived, there was
a small rural market for opium in Pakistan. Between 1979 and 1985,
the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one-and-a-half million.
Even before September 11, there were three million Afghan refugees
living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's economy is crumbling.
Sectarian violence, globalisation's structural adjustment programmes
and drug lords are tearing the country to pieces. Set up to fight
the Soviets, the terrorist training centres and madrasahs, sown
like dragon's teeth across the country, produced fundamentalists
with tremendous popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban,
which the Pakistan government has sup ported, funded and propped
up for years, has material and strategic alliances with Pakistan's
own political parties.
Now the US government is asking (asking?)
Pakistan to garotte the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for
so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his support to
the US, could well find he has something resembling civil war on
India, thanks in part to its geography, and
in part to the vision of its former leaders, has so far been fortunate
enough to be left out of this Great Game. Had it been drawn in,
it's more than likely that our democracy, such as it is, would not
have survived. Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian
government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the US to set
up its base in India rather than Pakistan. Having had this ringside
view of Pakistan's sordid fate, it isn't just odd, it's unthinkable,
that India should want to do this. Any third world country with
a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that
to invite a superpower such as America in (whether it says it's
staying or just passing through) would be like inviting a brick
to drop through your windscreen.
Operation Enduring Freedom is ostensibly
being fought to uphold the American Way of Life. It'll probably
end up undermining it completely. It will spawn more anger and more
terror across the world. For ordinary people in America, it will
mean lives lived in a climate of sickening uncertainty: will my
child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway?
A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight? There
have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare -
smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous
crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up
being worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb.
The US government, and no doubt governments
all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to
curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass
ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and
divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose?
President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers"
than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government
to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with
more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the
disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global
an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble,
terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories"
from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the
Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away.
But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at
least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations,
with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves
and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake,
rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary,
was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he
said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be
allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it
The September 11 attacks were a monstrous
calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have
been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers,
but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims
of America's old wars. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and
Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel - backed by the US - invaded
Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm,
the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel's occupation
of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia,
Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama,
at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom
the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied
with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.
For a country involved in so much warfare
and conflict, the American people have been extremely fortunate.
The strikes on September 11 were only the second on American soil
in over a century. The first was Pearl Harbour. The reprisal for
this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This
time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.
Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden
didn't exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way,
America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan
in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has
the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI.
In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to
prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight
up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive".
From all accounts, it will be impossible
to produce evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a
court of law) to link Bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. So
far, it appears that the most incriminating piece of evidence against
him is the fact that he has not condemned them.
From what is known about the location of
Bin Laden and the living conditions in which he operates, it's entirely
possible that he did not personally plan and carry out the attacks
- that he is the inspirational figure, "the CEO of the holding
company". The Taliban's response to US demands for the extradition
of Bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the
evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is
that the demand is "non-negotiable".
(While talks are on for the extradition of
CEOs - can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren
Anderson of the US? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible
for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have
collated the necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we
have him, please?)
But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me
rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret.
He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage
twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has
been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's
foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its
vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its
chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military
interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes,
its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies
of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals
who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on,
the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret
has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually
becoming interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have
been going around in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles
that will greet US helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin
used by America's drug addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush
administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war
Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to
borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the
head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian
currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are
engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed
- one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other
with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless.
The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important
thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative
to the other.
President Bush's ultimatum to the people
of the world - "If you're not with us, you're against us"
- is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people
want to, need to, or should have to make.
Speak Truth to Power is dedicated to the
promotion of human rights awareness.
We seek to proactively engage the general
public in an ongoing series of issue-related programs and events.
We believe that we can leverage the capacity of the internet to
provide a forum for individual action and to foster communication
between human rights-interested individuals and organizations.
Speak Truth to Power encompasses a wide range
of projects--from the book, the traveling exhibition, the website,
the play, and others yet to come--and aims to bring much-need attention
to forgotten heroes of the world, and the very real continuing
problems they and their countries face.
It serves as a poignant reminder of
courage in the face of oppression, an extraordinary inspirational
portrait of possibilities and resolve, and a sympathetic and strength-giving
reminder of the power of a single voice in the face of tyranny and
Search the site by
individual human rights defenders (listed below in Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's
introduction to her book), by country and by topic.
WHEREAS, we embody
the visionary spirit of the American Dream by embracing the idea of the
dignity and worth of human personality as expressed in the Declaration
of Independence: that all men and women are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
WHEREAS, we declare
children as our country's treasures and our most important resources.
There is no amount of money, time, or energy too great to spend on our
children. They are our future.
WHEREAS, we see that
peace is not merely the absence of some negative force, it is the presence
of a positive force. True peace is not merely the absence of tension,
but it is the presence of justice and brotherhood.
WHEREAS, we adopt
the means of nonviolence because our end is a country at peace with itself.
We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. The aftermath of
nonviolence is what Martin Luther King, Jr. portrayed as the beloved community.
is essentially a quality of the soul as expressed in the Indian word satyagraha.
Satyagraha means soul force which is born of nonviolence. Mahatma Gandhi
proclaimed nonviolence as the greatest force in the world, because it
is the highest expression of the soul.
WHEREAS, at the center
of nonviolence stands the principle of love as expressed in the Greek
word agape. Agape means understanding, redeeming goodwill for all.
It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely "neighbor-regarding
concern for others," which discovers the neighbor in everyone it
WHEREAS, the nonviolent
movement is based on faith in the future. It is a conviction that the
universe is on the side of justice. It is a belief in the existence of
some creative force in the universe that works to bring the disconnected
aspects of reality into a harmonious whole.
NOW, THEREFORE, with
abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of humankind,
we, the citizens of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim our
of Peace and Nonviolence"
AND, propose that
the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence become a subject for study
and for serious practice in every field of human conflict.
AND, by acknowledging
the power of the inner life, the wisdom found in silence, and the primacy
of the voice of conscience, encourage the practice of focused silence
3 minutes each day at 12:00 Noon for the manifestation of peace and nonviolence.
AND, ask every citizen
of America to open their eyes to see, to open their ears to hear... to
have new minds and new hearts. Sociologists say that if 11% of a population
changes its thinking, the entire population's thought forms begin to shift.
~Let that shift
Created by Joanne Cronin
from the works of Mahatma Gandhi,
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Marianne Williamson
Lourdes Portillo's wrenching documentary on
of young Mexican women in Juarez
Chronicle Staff Writer
In 23 years as a filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo has combined
a passion for justice with a keen awareness of ethnic identity. She won
a 1986 Oscar nomination for "Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de
Mayo," a film about political dissidents in Argentina, studied AIDS
and Latinas in "Vida" and explored the legacy of Tejano singer
Selena in "Corpus."
But nothing she's done has been as wrenching as "Senorita Extraviada"
(Missing Young Woman), a documentary that will be televised this month
on KQED (Channel 9) as part of PBS' "P.O.V." series. An investigation
into a wave of murders and their coverup, "Senorita" took Portillo
to Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican border town where multinational corporations
run huge assembly plants that exploit cheap labor.
Lourdes Portillo exposes the corporate exploitation
that has made possible the murders of hundreds of young women -- and the government corruption which
has made next to impossible
the capture of the killers.
I offer these brief
remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy,
as a celebration of our country. With love for our country.With hope
for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be
extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom
rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With
the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills
it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith
at the same time.
With the understanding that there is a deeper
truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicate
in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all
people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not
only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and
transportation, but innerconnected through human consciousness,
through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through
the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free.
I offer this prayer for America.
Let us pray that our nation will remember
that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled
the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the
rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put
aside guarantees of constitutional justice?
How can we justify in effect canceling the
First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable
cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying
due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the
right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which
protects against cruel and unusual punishment?
We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and
internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with
it. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot
justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic
terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to
any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as
medical records and financial records.
We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability
to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance.
We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right
to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total
secrecy. The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady
Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger
of justice exposing herself at this time, before this administration.
Let us pray that our nation's leaders will
not be overcome with fear. Because today there is great fear in
our great Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask
about the shortcomings of Congress in the current environment. The
great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September
11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb
scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret
briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington when anthrax,
possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued
when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and
then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill to
the floor of the House. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden
tapes at the same time the President was announcing the withdrawal
from the ABM treaty. It remains present in the cordoning off of
the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen
who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus.
It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which
we must pass each time we go to vote. The trappings of a state of
siege trap us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the
Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President
and his unelected Vice President.
Let us pray that our country will stop this
war. "To promote the common defense" is one of the formational
principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability
to respond to the tragedy of September the Eleventh. We licensed
a response to those who helped bring the terror of September the
Eleventh. But we the people and our elected representatives must
reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response,
to challenge the response, and to correct the response.
Because we did not authorize the invasion
We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and
We did not authorize assassination squads.
We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
We did not authorize national identity cards.
We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras
throughout our cities.
We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on
September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in
We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere,
anyhow it pleases.
We did not authorize war without end.
We did not authorize a permanent war economy.
Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent
war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase
in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close
to $400 billion. Consider that the Department of Defense has never
passed an independent audit. Consider that the Inspector General
has notified Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account
for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years
the Dept. of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures
to the items it purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars
worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth
of spare parts it did not need.
Yet the defense budget grows with more money
for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems
in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to
do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling
a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking
the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization
of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.
Let us pray for our children. Our children
deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children
deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror
of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of
the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free
of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which
is not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate
for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival
of our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.
Let us pray that we have the courage and
the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim
from the ruins of September the Eleventh our democratic traditions.
Let us declare our love for democracy. Let us declare our intent
for peace. Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle
in our own society. Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking
work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable.
Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.
That is the vision which the proposal to
create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of congress
are now cosponsoring the legislation. Let us work for a world where
nuclear disarmament is an imperative. That is why we must begin
by insisting on the commitments of the ABM treaty. That is why we
must be steadfast for nonproliferation.
Let us work for a world where America can
lead the way in banning weapons of mass destruction not only from
our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. That is the
vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up
at God's creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite
peace, infinite possibilities, not infinite war, because we are
taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.
Let us pray that we have the courage to replace
the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September
the Eleventh, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images
of military mobilization, jump cut into images of our secular celebrations
of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Superbowl, the Olympics,
the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace
those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people,
helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of the
poor everywhere. That is the America which has the ability to rally
the support of the world. That is the America which stands not in
pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope
and faith and peace and freedom.
America, America. God shed grace on thee.
Crown thy good, America. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not
with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international
treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar
world. Crown thy good America.
America, America. Let us pray for our country.
Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from
the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good,
America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown
thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment
to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout
the world. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good, America. Crown
Six years ago, the
word "vagina" had a pretty low profile. It's an awkward and
clinical little word and ranks high on a short list of "embarrassing"
references to female anatomy. After all, it sounds like a cold or an exotic
That's pretty much how "The Vagina Monologues,"
a play based on Eve Ensler's interviews with 200 women and their relationships
to "down there," was regarded. Soon it became clear that underneath
the slick humor and raw pain, "The Vagina Monologues" was less
about that word and more of a metaphor for how women regard themselves,
their intimacy and their freedom.
Ensler, 49, wrote the play largely in reaction
to her personal experience as a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of
her father. It was her way of moving the world away from violence against
women. How the play won an Obie Award after three months in a small New
York theater, inspired a global movement and became the catalyst for men
and women worldwide to contemplate that part of the anatomy is still a
mystery to her.
Nawal el Saadawi is an Egyptian
feminist, sociologist, medical doctor, novelist and writer. Dedicated
to "lifting the veil from the mind" of Arab women, she has endured
much harassment for her outspoken-ness, including death threats from religious
fundamentalists, dismissal from various medical posts, and imprisonment
under Anwar Sadat.
Internet & Hope
I think the Internet
(and E-mail) is a miracle, and it is in the hands of non-governmental
people. Because the media was in the hands of the powerful; now
the Internet is in our hands, the people who have no money. You
can have a web page, you can have E-mail, even if you are poor.
So that is very important, and I think this technology. . . I dont
know what is going to happen after the discovery of the quark, after
the electron, because now well have the quark the smaller
part of the electron. So it will have much more velocity and energy
than the electron, so maybe youll have a revolution even much
more important than the electronic revolution in this century. But,
what is happening in these advances in science and in technology
and in communication is a miracle, and it is in our hands. This
will democratize the whole information system. That is how we communicate,
we can communicate easily now. You know the television and the radio
were in the hands of the government. In Egypt, for instance, I was
censored. I could not talk on the television or the radio because
it is owned by the government. But now they cannot own the Internet.
No government can own the Internet! Or monopolize it. Or the web
its in the hands of the people. We need knowledge
now, real knowledge, that is the most important. How can we unveil
the mind? I spoke a lot yesterday [in a lecture at Smith College]
about unveiling the mind. To unveil it, so that we demystify the
language of post-modernism and neo-colonialism and give it [knowledge]
through the web and the E-mail.
I am very hopeful.
I am optimistic by nature, and this gives me power. I think hope
gives a lot of power. I never lose hope, even when I was in prison
and many of my colleagues were pessimistic and they said that We
are going to die, and so we [will] kill ourselves. I was
hopeful and said, No. We will survive, well come up,
well come out alive. And, we came, and we survived,
and Im still surviving.
Lourdes Portillo's wrenching documentary on
of young Mexican women in Juarez
Chronicle Staff Writer
In 23 years as a filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo has
combined a passion for justice with a keen awareness of ethnic identity.
She won a 1986 Oscar nomination for "Las Madres: The Mothers of the
Plaza de Mayo," a film about political dissidents in Argentina, studied
AIDS and Latinas in "Vida" and explored the legacy of Tejano
singer Selena in "Corpus."
But nothing she's done has been as wrenching as "Senorita Extraviada"
(Missing Young Woman), a documentary that will be televised this month
on KQED (Channel 9) as part of PBS' "P.O.V." series. An investigation
into a wave of murders and their coverup, "Senorita" took Portillo
to Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican border town where multinational corporations
run huge assembly plants that exploit cheap labor.
Lourdes Portillo exposes the corporate exploitation
that has made possible the murders of hundreds of young women -- and the government corruption which
has made next to impossible
the capture of the killers.
Women's Interfaith Encounter
Transforms Nazareth Hotel
these difficult days, when the living together of Jews and Arabs is not
self-understood, eighty Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Druse women came
to Nazareth to live together Thursday and Friday, July 11 to 12 - studying
each other's faiths, praying together, eating together, dancing and singing
together Israeli and Arab music, doing yoga and meditating together, sharing
their lives, suffering, hopes, pain and dreams together.
This Women's Interfaith Encounter was comprised of women who might otherwise
never have met, but found themselves assigned to share rooms together
and parted with embraces and tears. Thus a hotel in Nazareth was transformed
into an oasis of peace, warmth, and coexistence, and the staff at the
Hotel, the woman filming the video, reporters covering the event, all
commented that they had never seen such energy, respect, and joy at a
Conference. After formal study of Religious Tolerance and Social Justice
from the woman's point of view, the women separated into discussion groups
where they discussed these issues in their own lives and formulated plans
for interfaith action for women of the North including formal inter-religious
study, visits to each other's homes and villages, joint declarations on
matters of mutual concern for their societies, pilgrimages to women's
holy shrines. Future monthly meetings will be held in local towns, villages,
Created by the Womens Interfaith Encounter (WIE), a program of the
Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA), the Conference was sponsored by
the United States Institute for Peace (USIP).
Women's Action for New
WAND's mission is to empower women to act politically
to reduce violence and militarism, and redirect excessive military resources
toward unmet human & environmental needs.
We, Israeli women - Jewish and Palestinian -
oppose the occupation of the Palestinian people and refuse to take part
in any of its destructive aspects.
We refuse to live as enemies
We refuse to fulfill the roles that women are expected to fulfill during
We refuse to pay the economic and social price of the occupation
We refuse to be ignorant and to succumb to terrorizing and silencing
We refuse to raise children to war, poverty and oppression
We refuse to remain silent
A collective refusal of women can change reality. A feminine refusal means
an alternative voice and a language opposed to the language of power.
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