Saturday, March 12, 2005

Iraq Veterans Against the War

I've read a bit about this war we're in, but this shocked me. Corporal Mike Hoffmanwas deployed with his Marine Corps unit in February 2003, and fought in both Tikrit and Baghdad. Michael, writing at the Guardian on December 2, 2004:

I know the commitment it takes to serve your country, but I also know this war has nothing to do with protecting my country. My sergeant put it best a week before we left for the Middle East: "Don't think you're going to be heroes. You're not going for weapons of mass destruction. You're not going to get rid of Saddam, or to make Iraq safe for democracy. You're going for one reason, and that's oil."

With that kind of 'encouragement,' it's no wonder that Michael went on to co-found the Iraq Veterans Against the War.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Another Tape Found of US Soldiers Abusing Iraqi Prisoners

US troops 'made Iraq abuse video'

A longer, more informative article

(from the first article)

Scenes from the 27-minute video appeared on the Palm Beach Post website on Monday.

It shows a US soldier kick in the face a prisoner who was bound, with gunshot wounds and lying on the ground.

In another part of the video, a soldier grabs the arm of an Iraqi truck driver who has been shot dead and tries to make the corpse wave to the camera.

The army did not bring charges against the soldiers in the video, deeming the behavior "inappropriate" but not criminal. Kicking a bound prisoner lying on the ground, critically injured with gunshot wounds, in the FACE, is not criminal? Trying to make a corpse's arm wave to the camera is just inappropriate?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of the most horrifying practices I can think of. Circumcision has slowly become, in my mind, equally barbaric in some ways. Even when a male is circumcised, however (if the procedure is done 'correctly') he is still able to feel sexual pleasure (whether the pleasure is reduced or not is hard to prove). All FGMs seem to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure.

There are several types of FGM -- the removal of parts of all of the female genitalia.
The majority of GMs performed in Africa are clitoridectomies or excisions. A clitoridectomy is when part of or all the clitoris is removed (for example, removing the clitoral hood, which is considered the least radical procedure). Excision is when part of or all of the labia minora are removed.

The least common and most several of mutilations is called infibulation, or pharaonic circumcision. It consists of clitoridectomy, excision and cutting of the labia majora, which are then stitched or held together to cover the vagina when healed. A small hole is left open to allow menstrual blood and urine to escape.

It's a cultural practice, not necessarily a religious ceremony. Girls are expected to undergo these procedures to be suitable wives. Because sexual pleasure and desire is reduced and eliminated, FGM is thought to help girls keep chaste and save themselves for their husbands. [The small openings must be gradually and painfully dilated, and sometimes cut, before intercourse. Often it must be cut again before childbirth, or else tearing can occur -- and women are often re-infibilutated after childbirth to make them 'tight' for their husbands. The tears, the unskillful cuts, and the re-cutting and re-stitching of women's genitals can result in tough scar tissue, infections, and increased risk of HIV transmissions.]

There is usually no anesthetic for the procedure and the girl is usually held down by older women to keep her still. FGM is often carried out using razor blades, scissors, a tin lid, broken glass, etc. Anything sharp enough to cut the skin. The open wounds are then stitched up (sometimes with thorns) and sometimes the legs are bound together for a period of time.

During the procedure, hemorraghes and organ damage can occur, not to mention pain and shock. Clitoridectomy and excision can cause discomfort and extreme pain, causing a multiple of problems, not the least of which is chronic urinary tract infections.

Infibulation can cause kidney damage, obstruct menstrual flow (and thus cause reproductive tract infections), pelvic infections, cysts, buildup of excessive scar tissue, and infertility.

Amnesty International
has a very informative page about the reasons why FGM is so pervasive...and it is very widespread.

"An estimated 135 million of the world's girls and women have undergone genital mutilation, and two million girls a year are at risk of mutilation - approximately 6,000 per day. It is practised extensively in Africa and is common in some countries in the Middle East. It also occurs, mainly among immigrant communities, in parts of Asia and the Pacific, North and Latin America and Europe. "

Check out the reasonings and ideas used to justify FGM as described by Amnesty International.

Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2004

I've been reading today about Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2004 (and first African woman to recieve the NPP). She is a Kenyan professor passionate about the environment, and concerned over Africa's status in general. She has been beaten and jailed many times for her activism, but has continued to petition for more sustainable energy/resource development, protection and interest in women's rights, and education about AIDS.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said this about her,
“She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. Her efforts have been adopted by other countries as well. We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent”

Especially memorable is the Green Belt Movement she began in 1977. Because of the "degradation of their immediate environment," women, the caretakers of their families, were unable to meet their basic needs. Because these African women are the ones often responsible for tilling the land and feeding their families, they are the first to realize that the environment is suffering, as the resources they rely on begin to dry up. The Green Belt Movement is a simple idea: plant trees. Over 30 million trees have been planted since 1977, offering fuel, food, shelter and income for families, and improving soils and watersheds. These trees also became a symbol for peace during conflict resolutions in the years following.

Here are some interesting quotes from Maathai herself:

"If we did a better job of managing our resources sustainably, conflicts over them would be reduced. So, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace."

“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources, which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur.”

and from her acceptance speech or "Nobel Lecture" on December 10, 2004

"I would like to call on young people to commit themselves to activities that contribute toward achieving their long-term dreams. They have the energy and creativity to shape a sustainable future. To the young people I say, you are a gift to your communities and indeed the world. You are our hope and our future."

Happy International Women's Day

Today (March 8th) is International Women's Day!

The 'official' website lists an explanation and the history of International Women's Day. I encourage you to check it out.

Infoplease lists some of the issues often focused on during IWD, such as
  • About 25,000 brides are burned to death each year in India because of insufficient dowries. The groom's family will set the bride on fire, presenting it as an accident or suicide. The groom is then free to remarry.

  • In a number of countries, women who have been raped are sometimes killed by their own families to preserve the family's honor. Honor killings have been reported in Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other Persian Gulf countries.

  • According to the World Health Organization, 85 million to 115 million girls and women have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. Today, this practice is carried out in 28 African countries, despite the fact that it is outlawed in a number of these nations.

  • Rape as a weapon of war has been used in Chiapas, Mexico; Rwanda, Kuwait, Haiti, Colombia, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.
Take a few minutes and think about the state of women where you live. Compare and contrast it with the situations listed above. How does that make you feel? Do you feel that you can facilitate change?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Ann Coulter really IS as disturbed as she seems.

Man, Ann Coulter sucks. I've read parts of her books and columns and always been horrified to hear the vitrol she spews.

I just watched this clip. (Thanks to Patrick for sending me the link.)
In this appearance on FOX News, she calls the Democratic party the party of abortion and adultery, lying and killing. o_O Not to mention she acts rather unprofessionally, calling the host a liar for no apparent reason, and then telling him to calm down and stop 'being pissy' without explaining why she felt the need to start calling names. Bizarre.

I just surfed over to her website and read a few articles she wrote....
Here's an excerpt from one of them

January 27, 2005

Maybe he is an idiot. On the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade this past Monday — I was going to say "birthday of Roe v. Wade," but that would be too grimly ironic even for me — President Bush told a pro-life rally in Washington that a "culture of life cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We need, most of all, to change hearts."

Actually, what we need least of all is to "change hearts." Maybe it's my law background, but I think it's time we changed a few judges.

The title itself just makes me cringe. (Did I mention that Coulter said that the Democratic party is trying to dismantle the Ten Commandments one by one?) Why do some conservatives cling so dearly to this idea that hearts don't need to change? That life is just fine for everyone because it's fine for them, or that things are better staying the same, no matter what. It seems so backwards.

She also mentions in another article that

Liberals keep rolling out a scrolling series of attacks on Gannon for their Two Minutes Hate...

As cute as the Orwellian reference is, she's going to rant about hate? Yikes! She's always seemed so hatefilled to me.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Boxing in the Blogosphere

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I will try to find some more time to share more of my thoughts. I did get into quite a bit of a bruhaha today though, when I was blasted with some blinding ignorance from someone who is so entrenched in a far-right mind fuck that it is truly stunning to behold...feel free to check out his blog:

His last post was so ridiculous I couldn't keep quiet, and can read the comments for yourself. Affirmative action! Oh, help me .