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Revolting Women: Geneviève Pastre



Pastre’s coming-out, at the age of 56, followed successful careers as an academic, theatre practitioner and poet.

...

It was during her time as a [theatre] director that Pastre began gaining recognition as a poet, subsequently publishing ten poetry collections between 1972 and 2005. In 1976, having privately begun to live with a woman, she began agitating for lesbian rights in France. Her official coming-out was a declaration in print: the 1980 essay on female sexuality, De L’Amour lesbien (About Lesbian Love).

By 2000, Pastre had published a further five books, including historical works. As the titles of Homosexuality in the Ancient World and Athens and the Sapphic Peril suggest, Pastre was one of the first feminist theorists to deconstruct classical myths. Challenging the dominance of Foucault’sHistory of Sexuality, she argued that Foucault – and with him the male academy – had misinterpreted both ancient languages and lesbian sexuality.

Pastre’s greatest contribution, however, has undoubtedly been to the transformation of queer rights, and thus queer life, in France. A year before coming out in the pages of De L’Amour lesbien, Pastre co-founded Comité d’Urgence Anti-Répression Homosexuelle(CUARH). Mobilising the smaller, disparate French gay rights groups that already existed – including David et Jonathan (gay Christians), and Beit Haverim (gay Jews) – CUARH organised a massive protest on 4th April 1981. 10,000 French LGBT people and allies joined what has since been recognised as France’s first ever gay rights march, campaigning for homosexual sex (decriminalised since the French revolution) to have the same age of consent as for heterosexuals.

 

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A Contrast in Discourses: Sicilia and the Peace Caravan in Oaxaca

The Annihilating Language of the Left Meets the Language of Humanity of Drug War Victims

This month’s journey by Javier Sicilia, family members of drug war victims and the Caravan of Peace provided a closer look at how different sectors of the Mexican left are receiving the emergence of the country’s first explicitly nonviolent movement on a national scale. The difference between Sicilia’s Gandhian strategy and discourse and those of more strident and militant traditions was especially magnified in the state of Oaxaca, where the caravan traveled September 11, 12 and 13, a majority-indigenous state which has its own deep history of struggle. ...

Oaxaca’s history of popular struggle is among the deepest in the hemisphere. We’ve learned a lot from it, particularly from the Zapotec communities of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, who in the 1980s launched the first resistance against the one-party rule of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials). Much of my own early formation in Mexico came learning from my late friend, the exceptional community organizer and labor lawyer Carlos Sanchez, assassinated in 2003 in Juchitán, at the age of 49, while returning from his daughter’s 15th birthday celebration.

It is not easy to work or live in Oaxaca with a social conscience and not become overwhelmed at times with grief over the sheer volume of political assassination, unjust imprisonment and violence inflicted on good people who have worked to right wrongs and injustices. One day your friend and neighbor are there, fighting the good fight. The next day he and she are gone, forever. Then you watch helplessly as their children are raised fatherless or motherless. You see and feel the gaping holes left in communities throughout the state’s seven regions, and the long term consequences of such political violence, compounded today by the economic violence of the prohibitionist drug policy and its escalating consequences on all of Mexico, including Oaxaca, a key south-to-north funnel in the routes of South American cocaine.

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Nicaragua's Antidote to Violent Crime


GUATEMALA CITY, Sept 7, 2011 (IPS) - The so-called "Northern Triangle" of Central America, plagued by poverty, violence and the legacy of civil war, is considered one of the most violent areas in the world. But neighbouring Nicaragua has largely escaped the spiralling violence, and many wonder how it has managed to do so.

There are undoubtedly a number of reasons that crime rates are so much lower in Nicaragua than in its three neighbours to the north – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – but analysts and experts point to two fundamental aspects: community policing and greater social cohesion.

In the view of Helen Mack, the head of the Myrna Mack Foundation, a Guatemala City-based human rights organisation, the focus taken by Nicaragua's police force "makes a huge difference."

"The three countries of the Northern Triangle are influenced by the United States, and the police have played a supporting role to the army, protecting the state by means of repression. Meanwhile, the Nicaraguans, after the (1979) revolution, based their police forces on the Cuban model, which is focused on the community," said the activist, whose group is pushing for police reforms in Guatemala.

On Jul. 19, 1979, the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the regime of General Anastasio Somoza, putting an end to the nearly half-century Somoza family dictatorship.

One of the main achievements of the revolution was increased citizen participation, aimed at strengthening economic, social, political and cultural rights.

During the years of fighting the Somoza dynasty, the Sandinistas created the Civil Defence Committees. Once the FSLN seized power, these gave way to the Sandinista Defence Committees – neighbourhood watch structures – which evolved in 1988 into the Nicaraguan Communal Movement.


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OP-ED Language Becomes a Political Weapon in Israel


TEL AVIV, Sept 1, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Speaking to the U.S. congress in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu boasted that his country is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, that it is the only place where Arabs "enjoy real democratic rights".

It's true that Palestinian citizens of Israel have some democratic rights, like the vote. But, as Netanyahu told congress: the "path of liberty is not paved by elections alone." And the summer months have seen an acceleration of worrisome anti-democratic trends.

First, the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law, a move that was widely condemned as a strike against free speech and democracy. Even some of Israel’s staunchest supporters expressed concern.

Now lawmakers have introduced a bill that proposes to change the definition of Israel as "Jewish and democratic" to "the national home of the Jewish people".

If passed, the legislation would become part of Israel's Basic Laws, which are used as a working constitution.

Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. According to Haaretz, the proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, "a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts". And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with "special status".

Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel's citizens. It has been an official language of the land since 1924, when the British mandate set three: English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Linguistic marginalisation

When the state of Israel was established in 1948, English was struck from the books. While Arabic remained an official language, it has always gotten second class treatment- as have the citizens who speak it.

Many government forms - including those for Social Security and National Insurance - come in Hebrew only. Arabic-speakers are under-represented in the public sector. So if a Palestinian citizen has weak Hebrew, he or she may be deprived of services or benefits they are legally entitled to and desperately need.

The results are sometimes devastating.
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If you needed another reason to side-eye the hell of out Freud and many of his relatives... like Edward Bernays. A seething mass of desires: Freud's hold over history


Tyrrell: The Century of the Self was for me and many others I've spoken to, by far the best TV series for a long time. In four 60 minute programmes on BBC2, you showed how the ideas behind psychoanalysis were responsible for the development of mass consumerism and self absorption in western society. You also explored the link between consumerism and politics in ways that were terrifying to contemplate. How did you come to piece this amazing history together?

Curtis: I'm a journalist who stumbled over a story, not a historian. For me it began when I came across the intriguing information that Freud's nephew Edward Bernays had invented public relations, specifically using his uncle's ideas about human beings and human nature. From there came the idea that I should look at how Freud's ideas have been used generally in social and political ways, not telling the history of psychoanalysis but the history of how psychoanalytical ideas have been applied. When I started to research this I found lots of different stories about the application of psychoanalytical theories which had been missed out in the history of it, largely because psychoanalysis, as I am sure you know, is a very hermetic world …

Tyrrell: … a closed system of thought.

Curtis: Yes, both in the way it treats patients and also in the way psychoanalysts think of themselves. So what I did was to pull together various stories about how psychoanalysis was applied in different ways by some powerful 20th century figures in both business and politics.

As that started to come together, I began to make connections with another idea I was working on — about how today we all talk about our 'selves'. A hundred years ago, people didn't do that — a few rich people did, and you read about it in novels, but most people didn't. The question lurking at the back of my brain was "Why do we now always have this obsession with the self?" MORE


The Century Of The Self 1 of 4 | One: Happiness Machines
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The Century Of The Self 3 of 4 | There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed
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The Century Of The Self 4 of 4 | Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

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When I consider this in conjunction with Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Beyond Elections docu, I start making some interesting connections. Milton Friedman's shenanigans start making more sense to me. I need to reread The Shock Doctrine then rewatch this. And I will say that as I watched the first episode, one of my thoughts were: "Well damn. They treated their own people like shit. No wonder they thought that American people of color were less than dust beneath their feet. Nevermind the people of color who had the misfortune to reside in places with natural resources that these elitist, greedy assholes could steal! I mean DAMN that shit got spelled out for me in this series!
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MI5 files reveal details of 1953 coup that overthrew British Guiana's leaders
Documents released by National Archives show prime minister Winston Churchill feared the colony would turn communist


Secret documents declassified on Friday by MI5 reveal in detail how in 1953 the UK under prime minister Winston Churchill overthrew the elected government of British Guiana – now Guyana – because he feared its leftwing leader and his American wife would lead the British colony into the arms of the Soviet Union.

The documents reveal how British spies kept up intense scrutiny on Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet, who together founded the People's Progressive party (PPP) to campaign for workers' rights and independence from British rule for the sugar-producing colony in northern South America.

The UK had agreed a new constitution in the early 1950s which allowed British Guiana's political parties to participate in national elections and form a government, but maintained power in the hands of the British-appointed governor.

Christopher Andrew, MI5's official historian, said the files provide new details of the coup and "further evidence that MI5 played a more important part in British decolonisation than is often realised".

The Jagans – a US-educated former dentist and his wife, born Janet Rosenberg in Chicago – seem an unlikely threat.

But the 39 folders of files released by the National Archives are crammed full of tapped phone conversations, intercepted letters and accounts of physical surveillance over more than a decade.

In 1951, the year after the Jagans founded their party, an MI5 agent based on the nearby island of Trinidad described them as "something new in British Guiana politics".

"Both are able and intelligent and the mere fact that Janet Jagan is white, young and not unattractive in appearance lends considerable interest to her activities and those of her husband," he said.

To British authorities, the Jagans were a headache. To the Americans, they were a potential communist threat on America's doorstep.

MI5 concluded that their party was "not receiving any financial support from any communist organisation outside the country".

Nonetheless, amid worsening strikes and unrest, Britain grew unhappy with the Jagans' "disruptive antics".

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TRIGGER WARNING FOR TRANSCRIPT OF A VIDEO THAT DEALS WITH POLICE BRUTALITY AND RAPE

So sorry I missed that the first time!

Here is the first video:
English Version: Egypt: How We Did It When the Media Would Not


On February 11, 2011 Egyptians toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. Blogger and viral video producer Aalam Wassef was one of the many people who worked for years to make it happen. This is first in a series on the daily life of
Egypt's revolution. It's a manual on how a civil resistance was built to win.




Spanish Subtitled Version: Egipto: Cómo lo hicimos cuando los medios no lo harían


El 11 de febrero de 2011, el pueblo egipcio derrocó al dictador Hosni Mubarak. El bloguero y productor de video viral, Aalam Wassef, fue una de las muchas personas que trabajaron por años para que esto sucediera. Este video es el primero en una serie sobre la vida cotidiana de la revolución egipcia. Es un manual sobre cómo una resistencia civil fue construida para triunfar.
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Syria: the regime's war of attrition

The Syrian regime's response to five months of popular uprising was described by a recent report of the International Crisis Group as "slow motion suicide", resulting from a "mix of uninhibited brutality, sectarian manipulation, crude propaganda and grudging concessions".

The regime opted for a survival strategy: responding by violence and threatening the population with chaos and civil war in the event of its demise. The objective was to launch a war of attrition by playing on time to wear out any internal revolt. It chose, however, the wrong combination of brutal repression and gradual concessions. The result was a crisis of confidence which was too deep to be overcome by mere calls for national dialogue and reform.

The death toll is estimated at 2,000 civilian casualties (including more than 100 children), and 400 members of the security services. The situation has now reached a stalemate. Neither side appears to be able to defeat the other. Protests are rallying at major urban and rural centres, including Damascus and Aleppo in the last weeks. Rallies continue in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, the Idlib province, and continue to be met with massive military assaults and house to house arrests. The cities of Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor were brutally besieged by the regime's armed forces; hundreds of civilian casualties have fallen since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. In Deir ez-Zor, the regime was met with strong resistance by local tribesmen, including the leading Baqqara tribe who joined the opposition movements.

On July 17, the National Salvation conference held in Istanbul gathered 450 opposition figures who called for civil disobedience throughout the country. Tenets of regime survival quite naively assumed that they would effectively counter the historical meeting held in Damascus on June 27 by prominent opposition figures in the Semiramis Hotel of Damascus. The regime's so-called "national dialogue" conference held on July 10 included a few organic intellectuals and public figures which were carefully selected and summoned to contribute to the process of constitutional amendment and political reform. The strategy was to divide the opposition and maintain the status quo. Dialogue under repression was, however, firmly rejected by the opposition. MORE
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SPAIN
'Indignant' Demonstrators Marching to Brussels to Protest Effects of Crisis


MADRID, Jul 30, 2011 (IPS) - Protesters from several European Union cities have begun to follow the example of hundreds of demonstrators from Spain who are marching from Madrid to Brussels, the bloc's de facto capital, in a growing protest against the effects of the economic crisis and the fiscal adjustment policies adopted to combat it.

The march - literally, on foot - began Tuesday Jul. 26 with half a dozen people at the Puerta del Sol, in Madrid, the "kilometre zero" point from which all distances in the country are measured. The "'Indignant' People's March" aims to cover the 1,550 km to Brussels by Oct. 8, one week ahead of the global demonstration planned for Oct. 15 by Democracia Real YA (Real Democracy Now!)

Marchers from other European cities will stop in Paris on the way to Brussels, to support the Occupy Wall Street initiative, aimed at occupying and disrupting what they call the "financial Gomorrah" of the United States.

Adbusters, a counter-cultural Canadian magazine, quoted Professor Raimundo Viejo of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona as saying: "The anti-globalisation movement was the first step. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf leading the pack, and others who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."

The Adbusters article calls on U.S. President Barack Obama to set up a presidential commission tasked with "ending the influence money has over (the country's) representatives in Washington."

It also proposes "dismantling half the 1,000 military bases (the United States) has around the world," among other pro-democracy measures.

But the May 15 Movement (15M), which emerged on that date with large demonstrations in the main squares of cities across Spain held to protest the political, economic and social system, is also drawing attention to issues not prominently covered by the international press, such as repossessions of the homes of those who fall behind on their mortgage payments. MORE


I wish them all good luck and will follow their shenanigans with interest!
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As a development of our civic campaign “Shoot the piano player!” – against non personal voting of members of Ukrainian Parliament – we created a first short movie. See for yourself:



To be continued….

PS. Full movie credits are here world.maidan.org.ua/movies
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U.S. Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians



WASHINGTON, Jul 27, 2011 (IPS) - Amidst growing fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default next week, a key Republican-led Congressional committee Wednesday approved deep cuts in foreign aid and contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions next year.

While leaving some eight billion dollars in President Barack Obama's requests for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan relatively untouched, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to the rest of the developing world by an average of around 25 percent.

It also made major cuts in U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. and some of its specialised agencies, and some international financial institutions (IFIs).

It sliced a total of 600 million dollars from the administration's 3.5-billion-dollar request for the U.N. and its peacekeeping operations, for example.

It also halved Washington's 143-million-dollar 2012 pledge to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and zeroed out U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rejected proposed capital increases for IFIs that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

It cut the operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 35 percent, essentially reversing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts to build up the ranks of both agencies.

Moreover, it made significant cuts to major programmes designed to help some of the world's most vulnerable people.

It cut 18 percent – to just over seven billion dollars – from Obama's request for global health projects, which had been one of former President George W. Bush's signal foreign-policy achievements.

It cut Obama's requested family-planning programmes worldwide by 40 percent, from 770 million dollars to 461 million dollars, and reinstated the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services.

And it cut development assistance by 12 percent, from 863 million dollars this year to 758 million dollars in 2012, and emergency refugee and migration assistance by 36 percent, from 50 million dollars to 32 million dollars. ...

On the Middle East, the bill calls for 1.3 billion dollars in aid to Egypt, provided that the secretary of state can certify that its government is adhering fully to the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel and that no part of its government is controlled by a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation".

The latter condition also applies to Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, while any Palestinian government that forms an agreement with Hamas would not be eligible to receive U.S. aid. Lowey, the ranking Democrat, indicated support for the Middle East provisions of the bill. Earlier this month, she co-signed a letter with Granger to PA President Mahmoud Abbas warning him that his pursuit of recognition for Palestine at the U.N. would likely cost him all of the nearly 500 million dollars Washington provides to the PA. MORE
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'Blood diamond' regulation system broken

The recent approval of Zimbabwean diamonds mined from the $800bn Marange fields by the Kimberley Process (KP) chair, the DRC's Mathieu Yamba Lapfa Lambang, has prompted a global "human rights" outcry with KP members such as Canada, the EU, and the US claiming there was "no consensus".

Meanwhile, other countries like China (the world's fastest growing diamond consumer market), and India (which cuts and polishes 11 of 12 stones) have all given the green light to Zimbabwe, removing any potential problems of surplus minerals from Marange, which has been described by Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti as "the biggest find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind".

With potential revenues pegged at $1-1.7bn annually, the support of neighbouring governments like South Africa, another major diamond producer, and "host" country to 3 million Zimbabwean political and economic "refugees", is not surprising. Nor is the potential KP rupture being shaped as a battle between politically "interfering" Western nations and cash-starved developing nations.

That Zimbabwe's diamonds are mined under the direct surveillance of the country's vicious military and controlled by brutal lifetime dictator Robert Mugabe is not in question. Since the discovery of Marange's diamonds in 2006, the military has largely supervised mining; mass looting by political, corporate and military elites has occurred, accompanied by violent displacement and human rights violations; companies based in secret jurisdictions such as Mauritius and Hong Kong have been granted "due diligence" approval; and there exists complete opacity over volumes extracted, exported and sold.

But to what extent does the vehement opposition stem from political objections to a nation controlled by the blatantly anti-Western Mugabe? More broadly, was the KP system - propagating that less than one per cent of global diamonds constitute "blood" minerals - built for the purposes of eliminating corporate and state-sanctioned exploitation, or normalising and sanitising it?MORE



At this point, personally, I really don't see any reason I should be wearing what are in reality simply pretty colored stones. The value of these things is entirely created, and the blood and exploitation that comes in the wake of that value is not worth a damn thing.
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

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Israel's ban on boycotts faces legal challenge from civil rights groups

Wave of condemnation for new law forbidding citizens from promoting academic, consumer or cultural boycotts

Israeli civil rights groups have launched legal challenges to a new law that in effect bans citizens from calling for boycotts of Israeli goods, services, businesses or cultural or academic institutions.

The passing of the law late on Monday night prompted a wave of criticism and condemnation in the Israeli press, with one eminent law professor describing it as "the blackest day in Knesset [Israeli parliament] history".

Gush Shalom, an organisation that campaigns for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, filed a petition to the supreme court, saying the new law was an attempt "to silence criticism against the government's policies in general and its policies in the occupied territories in particular, and prevent an open and productive political discourse, which is the backbone of a democratic regime".
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition to the high court of justice, saying the new law was "unconstitutional and undemocratic" and set a precedent for limiting freedom of expression.

A coalition of four rights groups – Adalah, a legal rights organisation for Israeli-Arabs, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee Against Torture and the Coalition of Women for Peace – also pledged to launch a high court challenge. The new law "gives protection to the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law by penalising their opponents", the coalition said.

In defiance of the law, Peace Now launched a new campaign calling for the boycott of wine and olive oil produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
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Palestinians Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons


EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

"I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes," Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. "All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis."

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated. MORE


2010 The People Speak

GAZA CITY, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - The focus on people's movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel's separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.

In July, 2010, the United Nations IRIN news reported that roughly 39,000 Palestinian children from Gaza would not have schools to attend, following the destruction or severe damage of some 280 schools and kindergartens during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and the continued inability to repair or rebuild due to the severe Israeli-led siege on Gaza and lack of construction materials.

The UN also reports that 88 percent of UNRWA schools and 82 percent of government schools operate on a shift system as a result, still resulting in serious overcrowding. MORE


2010 Divided we Educate

Due to the endemic poverty in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children are forced on to the streets by parents who are living below the poverty level in a desperate bid to eke out a few extra dollars to help their families survive.

These children should be in school securing a better future for themselves but Israel's discriminatory education policies between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem is driving these youngsters out of school – if they are lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place.

Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Jamal Zahalka claimed earlier in the year that "educational provision for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is worse than anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria."

More than 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem do not attend school at all. The dropout rate for Palestinian school students in East Jerusalem is 50 percent, compared with about 12 percent for Jewish students.

"The rate of school dropouts, and the level of poverty amongst Palestinians in East Jerusalem, is frightening," Orly Noy from the Israeli rights group Ir Amim told IPS.

"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," adds Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

The two Israeli human rights organisations accused the Israeli authorities of deliberate discrimination in a report titled 'Failed Grade – The State of the Education System in East Jerusalem'. MORE



2009 Textbooks Become a Dream

A chronic shortage of school supplies, and severely overcrowded classrooms are crippling Gaza's educational system as tens of thousands of children begin a new school year.

Israel's hermetic sealing of the strip, as part of its blockade against Hamas, has prevented most supplies of paper, textbooks, notebooks, ink cartridges, stationery, school uniforms, school bags, and computers and their spare parts.

"Through our education system the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is spreading the message of universal respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence and tolerance in an atmosphere that since the blockade has become increasingly desperate and radicalised," says UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

"The best way for Israel to prevent us spreading that message to the 200,000 Gazan children at our schools is to block us sending in educational supplies," Gunness told IPS.MORE
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U.N. Women's Agency Being 'Strangled at Birth'


UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.

But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.

Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.

"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.

Addressing the first regular meeting of the 41-member executive board of UNW early this week, he said: "We must not be oblivious of the fact that activities enumerated in the Strategic Plan need resources."

The Strategic Plan envisages financial requirement of nearly 1.2 billion dollars in 2011-13.

"If we have to ensure that U.N. Women stands for action, the donor community has to make generous contributions to U.N. Women," said Ambassador Puri.
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KAZAKHSTAN:Workers Fight Massive Crackdown

ASTANA, Jun 29, 2011 (IPS) - Workers striking in what has been described as the biggest organised threat to Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime in the last decade are being beaten by hired thugs as the government ignores pleas for basic international labour rights to be observed.

Thousands of workers at gas and oil facilities are protesting, some even mutilating themselves, over what activists have called the exploitation of Kazakh workers in heavy industry projects largely financed by foreign capital the government has been keen to attract in recent years.

But the protests have taken on a wider social significance. Opposition groups have begun to publicly support the workers, and their strike has apparently inspired similar action in different cities across the country.

And there are fears that authorities are muzzling protests and breaching basic human rights following the arrest and continuing incarceration of a lawyer, Natalia Sokolova, who was representing the workers.

International rights groups are now calling on the International Labour Organisation and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to press the Kazakh regime into addressing the workers’ demands.

Lyudmyla Kozlovska of the Open Dialog Foundation which has been campaigning to raise international awareness of the issue, told IPS: "The most important demand of the workers now has become the release of Natalia Sokolova.

"We are afraid that if the workers’ demands are ignored then the social tensions caused by these strikes could turn violent."

The protests began on May 11 when a few hundred workers at the Karazhanbas oil field near Aqtau went on strike. As word spread of their actions, workers at other companies also downed tools. Transportation workers at the nearby OzenMunaiGaz company went on strike, affecting oil deliveries. They have been backed by other miners' and gas workers' unions, and thousands are now on strike.MORE
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via [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political

All work and No pay: The Great Speedup


Webster's defines speedup as "an employer's demand for accelerated output without increased pay," and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, to goose profits, or to punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it.

But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom). Now the word we use is "productivity," a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don't you want to be a productive member of society? Pundits across the political spectrum revel in the fact that US productivity (a.k.a. economic output per hour worked)consistently leads the world. Yes, year after year, Americans wring even more value out of each minute on the job than we did the year before. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Except what's good for American business isn't necessarily good for Americans. We're not just working smarter, but harder. And harder. And harder, to the point where the driver is no longer American industriousness, but something much more predatory.

MORE



The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret Uh...this article will make you feel sick. You should probably not be eating, at least.

First Hormel gutted the union. Then it sped up the line. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned



SINCE 1989, the line speed at QPP had been steadily increasing—from 750 heads per hour when the plant opened to 1,350 per hour in 2006, though the workforce barely increased. To speed production, the company installed a conveyor system and humming automatic knives throughout the plant, reducing skilled tasks to single motions. Workers say nearly everyone suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome or some repetitive stress injury, but by October 2007, there were signs of something else. Workers from QPP's kill floor were coming to Carole Bower, the plant's occupational health nurse, with increasingly familiar complaints: numbness and tingling in their extremities, chronic fatigue, searing skin pain. Bower started noticing workers so tender that they struggled with the stairs to the top-floor locker rooms, high above the roar of the factory line.


Six workers were referred to Richard Schindler, a doctor at the Austin Medical Center who'd first seen Matthew Garcia. Garcia had returned a second time to the brain machine, worked four-hour days, then six hours—but his symptoms soon returned. He began falling on the plant floor, his legs numb and motionless under him. Schindler found that Garcia and another brain-machine operator were the most advanced cases. Besides Garcia and the six workers referred by Bower, Schindler had seen another five men and women with similar symptoms—all workers at QPP. Schindler believed they were suffering from something like the rare disorder Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)—death of the peripheral nerves caused by damage to the fatty neural covering known as the myelin sheath. He emailed a group of neurologists at the Mayo Clinic for advice. MORE



USA! USA! USA! USA!

Capitalism for the wins!!!Not.
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If Crime Is Organized, then Why Not Us?


Sicilia: “We Are Taking the First Steps in this Great Crusade to Dignify Our Country”

Before the Caravan of Solace, many of the families who had lost their own to the war on drugs remembered them in the privacy of their living rooms. They lived below a yoke of fear imposed by the government’s criminalization of the victims and they didn’t dare raise their voices in a cry for justice. Now, as a result of the caravan, many know each other and recognize each other. They dare to go out into the street and say that their son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother was not a criminal. Families that beforehand did not know each other began to share their pain, hugging each other, in the street, to appeal for justice, peace and dignity.

The recognition between them, the sharing of stories of life and death, the pain and solace, the love, the desires for justice, helped them to dignify the names of their fallen family members, friends and neighbors. This is what unites María Elena Herrera Magdalena of Morelia, Michoacán, whose four children were disappeared, with the parents of Juan Martín Ayala and of Sarahy Méndez Salazar, murdered in San Luís Potosí. This is what joins María América Nava of Ecatepec, in the state of Mexico, whose brother, a community organizer, was assassinated, in a hug with Nepomuceno Moreno, from Sonora, who joined the caravan to continue seeking justice for his son. Estela Ángeles Mondragón, of the Rarámuri, (also known as Tarahumara) indigenous community, shares with them the constant pilgrimage she makes from the mountains to the courtrooms to claim justice for her daughter, gunned down, and her assassinated husband. MORE


Mexican Community Uses Barricades to Drive Out Organized Crime and Political Parties


Armed with machetes, sticks, and farm tools, residents of Cherán, Michoacan, covered their faces with bandanas and set up barricades around their community on April 15. It is a scene reminiscent of Oaxaca in 2006, except this time, the barricades aren't meant to keep out paramilitary death squads; they keep out organized crime.

Read more... )


A Mexican Movement at a Crossroads: A Paper Pact or an Organized Community?


While the Media and Some Activists Obsess Upon the “National Pact,” a Deeper History Unfolds Among Drug War Victims

“Invention,” Javier Sicilia reminded this week, is “the daughter of necessity,” and a venture as ambitious as ending a war that has taken 40,000 Mexican lives in half a decade, by definition, requires a lot of creativity and innovation.

Read more... )
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via: [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political

No 'him' or 'her'; preschool fights gender bias


STOCKHOLM – At the "Egalia" preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.

Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.MORE



[my note: So FIX the world outside of kindergarten!!! I am SO TIRED of these ridiculous arguments against change! ZOMG if we try to change the status quo we will be challenged!!! Well of course we will be challenged! Stand up to challenge and change society so that the shit we are trying chaneg will be fixed!]

At Egalia — the title connotes "equality" — boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.

Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.

Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no "Snow White," "Cinderella" or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.
Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.
"A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."
Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.MORE


I like that they are trying to fix the problem. 4 for you, Sweden!
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Zelaya Returns to Honduras but there is a long way to go before democracy returns to Honduras



Transcript


Read more... )


Massive Turnout for Zelaya Launches New Chapter of Honduran Struggle


'Largest gathering in Honduran history' receives deposed leader's return, but where to now for Honduran resistance movement?

Produced by Jesse Freeston.

For More Visit therealnews.com


Transcript:

Read more... )
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POLAND:Transgender Rights in Forefront of Equality Parade

WARSAW, Jun 16, 2011 (IPS) - About 5,000 people attended the Equality Parade in Polish capital Warsaw this weekend. Among them, the country’s first transgender rights activists, who in the last couple of years have made great strides in gaining recognition for the country’s transgender community.

Organisers of the Warsaw Equality Parade were keen to stress that the event was not really a gay pride. Rather, it was a march of all those who feel marginalised in Polish society – from sexual minorities to old people and people with disabilities. Moreover, it was not meant to be a celebration necessarily, but more a statement of how diverse this society is.

"This is not a gay pride, because we don’t really have something to celebrate," explained Szymon Niemiec, one of the main organisers and initiator of the Equality Parade in Poland. "Instead, we are trying to show Polish people the diversity of our society, that yes, there are gays in Poland, there are drag queens and there are queers."

Putting the emphasis on recognition and acceptance of all marginalised social categories - rather than on pride - may be a more digestible message for a Polish society where over 90 percent of the population is affiliated with a conservative Catholic Church and where mainstream politicians often promote homophobic messages.MORE

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