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Women's Enews Announces 21 Leaders - 2003
Sister Dianna Ortiz
Activists take faith in peace to Iraq
Greenpeace boycotts ExxonMobil
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Waris Dirie
Habiba Sarabi
Senator Paul Wellstone -- passionate maverick
Dwarko Sundrani
Medea Benjamin: S.F. woman's relenteless march for peace
Center for Investigative Reporting keeps muckraking alive
CodePink: Women's Pre-Emptive Strike for Peace
World Puja
Women for Women International
Peace by Peace
Arundhati Roy
Speak Truth to Power
ASATA: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action against war
American Proclamation
Dennis Kucinich: A prayer for America
Eve Ensler knows she's made a difference
Nawal el Saadawi: The internet and hope
Lourdes Portillo: Señorita Extraviada on Juarez women
Women's Interfaith Encounter Transforms Nazareth Hotel
Women's Actions for New Directions
New Profile

2003     

 

 


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Women's Enews Announces 21 Leaders - 2003

By Jordan Lite, WEnews Staff
12/31/02

Women's Enews announces its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century--2003,
an awe-inspiring, reader-nominated list, with ages between 13 and 83;
each making news, often at great personal risk, by confronting issues
of particular concern to women.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Women's Enews announced today
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 the wonderful
dedication and accomplishments of our contemporaries?" said Rita Henley
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 to
the well-being of women. I read each submission and was profoundly touched
by the sincerity of the nominators and the idealism and leadership of the
nominees."

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 about them:

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 Way.

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 and
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 rapist.

Esther Chavez Cano, founder, Casa Amiga, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The
organization offers medical, legal and psychological aid to victims of domestic
violence and sexual assault in a city rocked by the murders and disappearances of at least 280 women and girls over the last 10 years.

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 clothing is
remarkable for the images of women featured, not stick-thin models, but her
employees. The company also runs socially responsible programs for women
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 tolerance
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 influences.

Kenya Jordana James, at age 13, is editorial director and founder of
Blackgirl Magazine, a bimonthly publication that promotes healthy images to
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 worldwide
and has leveraged her influence on behalf of women throughout the elite
financial world. She also helped Smith College launch a women's financial
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 by
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 that
serve at least 400,000 women annually in the areas of employment, training
and education. She also chaired a United Nations expert panel on vocational
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 in
Burkina Faso. In a nation where women are not entitled to own land, the
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, Ourselves" in
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 be
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 ensure that
discoveries of women explorers and scientists are included in public school
history curricula.

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 financial
support for social activism around the country by empowering young women.

Elaine Roulet, creator, the Children's Center program at Bedford Hills
Correctional Facility in New York. The center and other programs founded
by this member of a Roman Catholic religious order provide mothers in prison
opportunities to be with their children, including living with their newborns
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.

Women's Enews

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Sister Dianna Ortiz

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.

Dianna Ortiz

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.

TASSC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activists take faith in peace to Iraq

Some vow to stay even if war comes

Robert Collier
December 23, 2002

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 downtown Baghdad.

Elizabeth Boardman

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 it.

"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 regime.

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."

FAMILY TRADITION

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 to be.

"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 Iraqi dinars.

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 Campbell,

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 engagements.

"I hope that my experience here can help invigorate people back home who may think war is inevitable and are losing hope," she says.

San Francisco Chronicle

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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.

More information

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Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Addresses Anti-War Gatherers at D.C. Rally

Saturday, October 26th, 2002
ANSWER Anti War Rally
Washington, D.C.

Cynthia McKinney


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 family.

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 place.

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 of America.

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 overtime pay!

If he would do this to our troops, what will he do to us?

We need only remember Florida to answer that question!

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 tested.

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 you.

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.

Thank you.

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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 gender apartheid.

Habiba Sarabi

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 life.

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.

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Waris Dirie

Author of "Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad"

UNFPA GOODWILL AMBASSADOR, WARIS DIRIE, WINS AWARD

Waris Dirie at the Childhelp USA's Award Ceremony in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A.

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 17 April 2001 – The United Nations Population Fund’s 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, Arizona.

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. “It’s 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 Reader’s Digest and Marie Claire

The UNFPA is the world’s 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.

United Nations Population Fund

"Desert 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."

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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 of women.

UNFPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wellstone -- passionate maverick

He was champion of liberal causes

Chronicle News Services
10/26/02

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.

Senator Paul Wellstone

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 Democratic politics.

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 for justice."

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 days.

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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Dwarko Sundrani

One of the last active direct disciples|
of Mahatma Gandhi

Graced the Bay Area
with a visit

October 18  -
28, 2002

Dwarkoji has devoted his entire life
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


Information

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S.F. woman's relentless march for peace

Global Exchange founder a tireless advocate

Joe 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.

Medea Benjamin"

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 club.

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 world.

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 things."

"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 the street.

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.

UNBOUNDED CURIOSITY

"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 together."

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.' "

San Francisco Chronicle

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San Francisco center keeps muckraking alive

Dan Fost
October 24, 2002

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 impact.

25TH ANNIVERSARY

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 journalism school.

VANISHING PRACTICE

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 investigative projects.

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.

EXPENSIVE ENDEAVOR

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 anything.

"Just to insure two crews for two trips to this area (of West Africa) cost $20,000," Glass said.

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.

FREELANCE PROJECTS

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."

For information go to the center's web site at www.muckraker.org.


San Francisco Chronicle

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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.

Initiative by Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans and Starhawk

Code Pink

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Peace by Peace


"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

Articles on America's latest war

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.coopamerica.org

 


Women for Women International

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy
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


 

Fascism's Firm Footprint in India

'Brutality smeared in peanut butter'
Why America must stop the war now

War Talk

Power Politics

Interview on Globalization

Interview with Mother Jones


The algebra of infinite justice

As the US prepares to wage a new kind of war,
Arundhati Roy challenges the instinct for vengeance

Arundhati Roy
Saturday September 29, 2001
The Guardian

In 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 die.

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 his hands.

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 multi-nationals.

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 a victory.

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 on drugs"....)

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.

© Arundhati Roy 2001

The Guardian

 

Speak truth to power
Join the global fight for human rights
www.speaktruthtopower.org

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 injustice.


Search the site by individual human rights defenders (listed below in Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's introduction to her book), by country and by topic.

 

American Proclamation

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.

Statue of Liberty in the wake of September 11th

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.

WHEREAS, nonviolence 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 meets.

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 country as

"A Country 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 begin today~

Created by Joanne Cronin
from the works of Mahatma Gandhi,
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Marianne Williamson

 


Lourdes Portillo

Lourdes Portillo's wrenching documentary on the killings
of young Mexican women in Juarez

Edward Guthmann,
Chronicle Staff Writer

Lourdes Portillo

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."

Señorita Extraviada
video and related links at
Women Make Movies
and P.O.V.


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.

San Francisco Chronicle


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.
Action alert

www.lourdesportillo.com

A Prayer for America

Dennis Kucinich
U.S Congressman
February 17, 2002

Dennis Kucinich watches updates of terrorist attack September 11

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 assemble?
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 trial?
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 of Iraq.
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 habeas corpus.
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 Afghanistan.
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 thy good.

Thank you.

The Spirit of Freedom

Eve Ensler
knows she's made a difference

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 delicacy.

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.

San Francisco Chronicle, 7/31/02

~Eve Ensler~
Activist & Playwright
www.vday.org

Appeal on behalf of Afghan women


 

Nawal el Saadawi,  Egyptian feminist, sociologist, medical doctor, novelist and writer

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.

 

The 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 don’t know what is going to happen after the discovery of the quark, after the electron, because now we’ll have the quark – the smaller part of the electron. So it will have much more velocity and energy than the electron, so maybe you’ll 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 – it’s 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, we’ll come up, we’ll come out alive.” And, we came, and we survived, and I’m still surviving.

 


The disappeared

Lourdes Portillo's wrenching documentary on the killings
of young Mexican women in Juarez

Edward Guthmann,
Chronicle Staff Writer

Lourdes Portillo

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."

Señorita Extraviada
video and related links at
Women Make Movies
and P.O.V.


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.

San Francisco Chronicle


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.
Action alert

www.lourdesportillo.com


Women's Interfaith Encounter
Transforms Nazareth Hotel

In 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, and kibbutzim.


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).

Reports: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iea-reports/messages/47

 

 

Members of Women's Action for New Directions

Women's Action for New Directions -- 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.

 

 

 

Statement from New Profile

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 wartime
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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