Saturday: Foreign Policy, Natural Disasters, and Hillary 2016


Hillary 2016: Chelsea’s selfie with her mom from June 2013

Good afternoon, newsjunkies. Sorry for the belated Saturday reads. I went to sleep with a pounding headache and woke up very late.

To the right: Still4Hill used this photo to highlight Hillary’s public appearances this week, which included mother-daughter time. Here’s the backstory on the photo, from when Chelsea first tweeted it over the summer. I thought it was the perfect image to open with this weekend.

Just going to dive right in with the reads, so as to get this post up ASAP.

The latest news on Syria of course is that the US and Russia have agreed on framework for Syria’s surrender of chemical weapons. Thoughts? Here’s Taylor Marsh’s take. Shorter TM:

So, as media outlets blast that there is “a deal,” caution should also be applied, because this is a framework that extends into 2014 and will likely meet many challenges and road blocks.

I think that’s the bottom line really. Hope for the best, understanding that we really just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Here’s an interesting FP read from yesterday — How Assad Could Twist a Chemical Weapons Treaty to Keep His Poison Gas:

“The Chemical Weapons Convention was created to deal with a very different type of set of circumstances,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It was designed to deal with a country that was willing to renounce its chemical weapons voluntarily and not under coercion, a country where there was no real chance of them being used again, and a country that was stable enough that they could be destroyed safely. None of those conditions exist in Syria.”

Kimball is a fan of the treaty who believes it has proven effective over the years and is a far better option than trying to use force to degrade Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Still, he said, Syria will be an “unprecedented test” of the treaty.

The piece goes on to outline specifics in terms of the obvious and not-so-obvious concerns that disarming Syria of its chemical ammo entails. Give it a read.

Another headline that caught my eye over at FP on quick glance this morning — The Price of Proxies — Don’t be fooled: The United States is already knee-deep in the Syrian quagmire, and the opportunity costs are disturbing (also bylined as “How Arming Syria’s Good Guys Helps the Region’s Bad Guys” on the webite’s frontpage,  which says a mouthful in itself.)

Here’s a lighter read from FP before I move on to another set of links — 7 Things Putin Loves That America Really Is Exceptional At. I’ll give you the quick list so you don’t have to click over for the rundown:

Second-rate action stars, topless women, deep sea submarines, rhythm & blues (ok there’s a youtube on this one at the link that looks mildly amusing in typical Putin-form from the screencap), biker gangs, super bowl rings, and puppies.

Next up, a local story from our mayor here in Houston from April, that I saw linked to on FP for some reason — Annise Parker’s personal story about homelessness:

It’s a little over 20 minutes long. I recommend taking the time to watch it.

Speaking of homelessness, let me turn briefly to the latest update from CNN on a natural disaster displacing Americans right now…

Flood-weary Colorado awaits more rain; 172 people missing

My heart goes out to Colorado, including anyone here reading who is from the area or with loved ones affected.

Here’s my feminist link for you this week, via New York mag: 39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead. Don’t let the title fool you. Go read now.

My two–who knew all we had to do was “just say no” to patriarchy and poof, all the misogynists would listen just like that.

I’d like to close with a couple of Hillary links via the ever-awesome Still4Hill of course:

Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at the White House on Syria and the Security Dangers of Wildlife Trafficking — Click over for pics of Hillary and Chelsea from Monday. Here’s my fav:


Hillary Clinton Graces 600th Anniversary of University of St. Andrews –Cool pics of Hillary in scholarly regalia from Friday. Teaser:


Alright, just going to go ahead and post this now so as to get the show on the road. Fill up the comments, Sky Dancers! And, have a great weekend.

Saturday: Of War, Fracking, and Fukushima

1236007_440158062767453_634535704_nHello newsjunkies.

Have you read Rosa Brooks’ “Obama Can’t Win in Foreign Policy magazine yet? If not, go read it now. Teaser:

Oddly, many in the media seem convinced that Obama’s pledge to seek congressional authorization for a Syria intervention was a clever gamble. It wasn’t. It was, to paraphrase Obama, a dumb gamble. That’s because there is now no good outcome for Obama, only a range of painfully ironic outcomes.

It’s an excellent read. Please take a moment to look it over.

Something interesting… note the title of the latest from FoPo’s David Rothkopf, “How the Loneliest Job in the World Got Even Lonelier,” (bylined “With his missteps on Syria, Obama has alienated just about everyone — friends and frenemies alike.”) Sounds a lot like Glen Ford’s bottom line over at Black Agenda Report… “Obama: As Warlike as Bush, and Just as Lonely.”

Cue The Onion:

Nation Throws Giant Temper Tantrum Upon Learning Syria Is Complex, Nuanced Issue

I have to tell you that what’s not helping sort any of this complexity or nuance is Kerry and Obama suddenly embracing action that will have the side effect of empowering the rebels…I can only take wild guesses as to what changed in the Administration’s assessment of the situation, because Assad gassing his own people doesn’t mean the rebels are suddenly the lesser evil. As the Onion points out in the news skit above, the Syria situation doesn’t fit neatly into a narrative of “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”

Along those lines, here is the first installment of Reader Supported News’ three part series on Syria: Where Revolution Goes Wrong.

A couple excerpts…

Independent journalist Anna Therese Day has spent considerable time in Syria, and last year authored a Shorty Award-nominated report for VICE Magazine called Gunrunning with the Free Syrian Army. In the report, Day accompanied an FSA colonel who defected from Assad’s army when the mass killings began. The colonel had two main complaints: that Western governments had abandoned the Syrian people in spite of mass genocide and brutal killings of protesters, and that because of the absence of help from Western governments, the Syrian people have had to depend on the military might of jihadists like the group Jabhat Al-Nusra. The jihadists fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army have the much different objective of establishing a theocratic Islamist government, whereas the FSA’s objectives are more along the lines of establishing a democratic and accountable secular government.

“Academic studies show empirically that civil resistance is more effective than armed resistance,” Day told me in a Skype interview from Madrid. “But it’s difficult to expect people to adhere to these ivory tower principles, even if in the long-term it will be more effective, when they are being attacked and need to defend to their families.”

And, yet…

Erica Chenoweth, an International Studies professor at the University of Denver, is author of the book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” In a February 2012 presentation at Dartmouth College, she explained how she was originally skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish major political goals, and decided to place very strict limits on which nonviolent campaigns she would credit with achieving major political goals. Chenoweth focused only on campaigns where there were more than 1,000 active participants using a majority of nonviolent tactics like boycotts, strikes, and street demonstrations over a small period of time. She also studied only nonviolent campaigns that were focused on achieving extremely difficult goals like regime change, removing an occupying military force, or seceding territory.

Chenoweth found that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent campaigns were twice as effective as violent campaigns, and that in that time period, nonviolence became an increasingly effective strategy for achieving major victories, whereas violence became increasingly ineffective. Chenoweth’s research on violent campaigns found that their strategy was limited to simply getting as many people with as many weapons as possible and challenging the state head-on through either direct warfare or guerrilla tactics like sabotage and assassinations. Chenoweth’s research found that for a violent campaign to be effective at either ousting a regime or removing an occupying military force, it had to wage a long-term struggle against the state with the aforementioned tactics to corrode the state’s ability to assert power over the people, and it had to sustain its efforts over a long period of time. Because the state has a monopoly on violence, with more resources at its disposal, those violent campaigns had a very small rate of success.

However, Chenoweth discovered that nonviolent campaigns, with the various tactics at their disposal, were much more successful. They could attact a vast multitude of diverse people, and so were able to sustain a long campaign aimed at accomplishing specific strategic goals. Nonviolence succeeded where violence didn’t: the OTPOR movement’s ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia; the Arab Spring’s ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia. A nonviolent campaign can use leverage to remove all pillars of support for an oppressive regime or an occupying military force.

This first installment ends on a rather chilling note (well, I found it chilling at least) from the journalist mentioned above — Anna Therese Day:

Regardless of whether or not the US chooses to intervene with either humanitarian aid or airstrikes, Anna Day says that the Assad regime is likely to win out against the violent campaign to oust him. She says she’s troubled by the Obama administration’s unilateral plans for intervention, and other plans that have been discussed to arm rebels with more sophisticated weaponry.

“Assad controls most of the country and won back major key swaths in August, so this notion that he doesn’t have legitimacy anywhere simply isn’t true,” Day said. “It’s debatable if the rebels – not the cause of the Revolution, but the rag-tag leadership of the armed resistance – have any legitimacy at all, even among anti-Assad civilian elements.”

I don’t know how to pivot from that gracefully to a more uplifting story, so… how about we go even deeper in Debbie downer territory with some… ‘fracking confirmation.’

Confirmed: Fracking practices to blame for Ohio earthquakes. From the NBC News Science link:

Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.

Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.

The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.

Well, gee, isn’t that swell. Say… Anyone care for the latest on Fukushima?

Via BBC: South Korea bans fisheries imports from Fukushima area

South Korea has banned all fisheries imports from eight Japanese prefectures, amid concern over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

A spokesman said the measure was due to “sharply increased” public concern about the flow of contaminated water into the sea.

The ban, an expansion of existing restrictions, takes effect on Monday.

Meanwhile via CNN, Fukushima: The long road home after 2011 disaster. From the link:

More than a year ago, the workers here wore full protection suits, today they simply wear gloves and the basic face masks you can see anywhere in Japan — a sign that the radiation level here has dropped.

Thousands of industrial-size black bags hold the contaminated soil. They are lined up in fields, waiting for their final resting place — wherever that may be. This is a reminder that the problem of what to do with radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima plant is not the only storage issue this country has to deal with.

During the day, the steady volume of traffic in this outer part of the exclusion zone belies the invisible threat that still exists. It’s a threat that two-and-a-half years later has residents wondering when, or even if, they will be able to move back home.

I’m sorry to have such a depressing roundup for you this Saturday. What can I say. It’s almost September 11th, and we’re on the precipice of another possible war. It wouldn’t be a relevant roundup if it weren’t depressing.

But, you know me. Still hoping against hope! So, here’s my feminist treat for you before I go. The latest ‘Blurred’ parody by some outstanding law students in Auckland, NZ… my favorite so far, by far:

Alright, Sky Dancers. Let’s hear it in the comments. And, have a great weekend!

Sunday Reads: Just Because


Posting this artwork just because. Trying to find the source.

Hello newsjunkies. I’m still battling a sore throat and fever this morning, so this will be a straightforward link dump. I’m going to start with a couple Texas items that are of interest in a more uplifting way than one is wont to think about our state, unlike the Bush tornadoes and textbook chaos we’ve unleashed on the body politic in recent years.

First up, check out CNN’s interview with my mayor, Annise Parker, on turning Texas blue (Video).

Next, via MD Anderson here in Houston– Texas tanning bed law: A melanoma survivor’s take.

I’m not going to excerpt on these, so click over and give those two a look if you have a chance.

Now for a labor read in advance of tomorrow, with a feminist angle…

Via the Daily Beast, Unequal America — Feminism’s Sticky Fast-Food Floor:

This week, in New York City, the paradoxical economic conditions of working women collided in spectacular form. On the one hand, the Wall Street financial world mourned the death of Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and, eventually, the first American woman to have a net worth of $1 billion that she earned, rather than inherited. But on the other hand, as Siebert was toasted by the town’s economic elites, Nathalia Sepulveda went to work in the Bronx, where she earns just $7.25 an hour at McDonald’s.

If Siebert illustrates how a few women have managed to crack the glass ceiling and achieve great wealth and power and even the appearance of parity, whether in business or in politics or elsewhere, Nathalia Sepulveda illustrates the sticky floor that confronts the vast majority of working women in America, especially women of color, who struggle to make basic ends meet.

It’s a reflective piece that puts a woman of color’s face on statistics such as the following:

But such is the landscape of low-wage jobs in America today, which proliferate not because our economy is universally dire but because it is unequal. Research by Northeastern University has shown that 88 percent of the economic-recovery gains following the 2008 crash went to corporate profits. Just 1 percent went to wages.

That translates as follows in the life of Nathalia:

Sepulveda struggles to get assigned as many shifts per week as possible, but even if she had the chance to work 40 hours per week (a rarity), that would at most equal $15,080 per year. In other words, the CEO of McDonald’s makes 580 times more than Nathalia Sepulveda. But no one can seriously think he works 580 times harder than Sepulveda or any of the other workers who serve customers, flip burgers, and clean restrooms at McDonald’s across the country and the world. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Skinner working 100 times harder than Sepulveda. Or even 10 times harder.

Personally, I think Sepulveda probably works harder than Skinner. Anyhow, click over and give the entire thing a read.

Moving along, here’s a headline which reads like it’s from The Onion, even though it’s not — Senator Accidentally Shoots Teacher With Rubber Bullet:

A state senator who is advocating for arming teachers in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, accidentally shot a teacher with a rubber bullet during a training course, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) recently participated in “active shooter” training and mistakenly shot a teacher who was confronting a so-called bad guy. The experience gave Hutchinson “some pause” but failed to shake his confidence in the plan.

The unshakeable confidence of idiocracy.

In more serious news (though I would argue the above actually is serious and disturbing), I just stumbled on the following youtube which looks very interesting. I plan to watch it later today and thought I would share. Structural Racism Persists 50 Years After Washington March:

Bruce A. Dixon has a provocative read over at Black Agenda Report that seems like it might make a good companion piece after viewing the video — Dr. King Was A Man, “The Dreamer” Is A Zombie:

When King was murdered, civil uprisings occurred in scores of US cities, and the establishment myth makers made a second 180 degree turn. While the smoke rose from burning cities you heard the first references to Dr. King not as a champion of economic justice, not as a moral voice against militarism and empire, not the fighter for a guaranteed minimum income for all, but as “The Dreamer.” Media figures began instructing us on “Dr. King’s Dream” – something nobody ever heard of before – as the reference point for our past struggle, our present predicament and our future agenda. Thus, as Gary Younge points out in his recent book, a new Dr. King was constructed

This new Dr. King didn’t call into question poverty. But he did have a dream. This new Dr. King stopped wondering, as the living King once did, why people pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water. But still, he had a dream. This new Dr. King never again mentioned the right of black workers to form unions and negotiate for their dignity and livelihoods. But this new guy, he had a dream.

The Dreamer as we know him today bears little resemblance to the man who was murdered in 1968. The Dreamer was constructed out of whole cloth by the same powerful media institutions which built King up in 1965 and 66, which denounced and slandered him 67 and 68, and made him a useful saint after his death. King never lived to be forty, so the Dreamer has already lived longer than the man, and for the powerful, has been far more useful. It’s no mistake that a single speech in 1963 commemorated this week, was chosen by the establishment to represent the man’s life work, and to negate it.

Well, I guess I should end with a happier link since I’ve given you enough depressing ones!

Here ya go, h/t Still4Hill — via ThoughtCatalog, 33 Badass Hillary Clinton Quotes That Prove Why She Should Be Our First Female President. Though, I have to say, I think I could come up with a better list. LOL. I just may have to do that in a separate post when I’m feeling better.

Alright Sky Dancers, your turn. Let’s hear what’s on your blogger list this Sunday in the comments.

Wednesday Wonk: Not Ready to Make Nice, March on Washington, and the Achy Breaky Patriarchy

1268899_212689705572726_66084798_oFasten your seat belts, newsjunkies. I’m feeling very much like Natalie Maines in her song/video, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

I have a couple questions for us as a society.

To the right [via NYC Light Brigade]: The night before the 50th anniversary celebrations of the March on Washington, the NYC Light Brigade travelled to DC to shed light on Dr. Martin Luther King’s message to End Militarism, and contrast that with the current administration’s drone warfare policy which has resulted in the death of untold civilians throughout the world.

For what exactly are we marching and showing solidarity for this 28th of August in the year 2013?

I know it’s terribly disturbing-of-all-things-party-unity, which is all the more reason why I must ask you all to think seriously about what happens to a feminist dream deferred?

What feminist dream, you ask?

Let’s go with the Hollie McNish spoken word poem I shared with y’all a couple months ago. To refresh, here’s both the transcript and video (scroll down for the latter)… I know it’s long, but it’s worth it (especially if you just scroll down, click play, and listen for yourself):

Poem: Reverse:

I would love to reverse things for a day
A short break for those who say its all ok
I’d have an MTV where every male celebrity was dancing on a pole in pants
While all the female, fully clothed, stood back, just singing
As they can, cos that’s their talent
For just one day
The women’s lifestyle section of the magazine rack stands would
See a sea of choice of topics
Not just cooking, home or looking grand
But politics and sport and art, design and science, top shelf porn perhaps
And watch as men look all forlorn and wonder why their lifestyle section is full of naked pouting men on cover
Licking gadgets in their underwear
For just one day I swear I’d scream
To see young male celebrities standing on tv next 2 50 year old female copresenters
Watching as this token eye candy giggles politely at everything she says
I said for just one day I would pay to see a newspaper take a double spread about what the president eats for tea
ten pages to talk about David Camerons choice of socks and hand cream
While focusing on Kate Middletons degree and how she feel about personal freedom
Next to images of Price Williams top ten jackets worn this Summer
For just one day I’d read the sports pages and undercover news reporting without watching as men gawp at 18 year old tits while I’m trying to make the point that women can be more than this
And page three licks should be in specialist magazines not newspapers anyone can grab and read and
For just one day I wonder what would happen
If there were airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every women’s magazine and airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every mans magazine
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every shop window
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every tv screen
And loads of fully dressed women in photos everywhere
Cameras staring at their faces in shoulder shots, their wrinkles photoshopped deeper like every male magazine man feature
For just one day
Music award ceremonies would award
Rihanna for her singing
And think about not giving awards to Chris brown
And women with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing
And Men with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing whilst also shaking their crotch and pretending to shag the floor, snogging other men with amazing voices while dancing around poles in gold stringed jock straps and swimming trunks
And lunging forward
And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses
For just one day I’d go to parties where the women, like the men, dressed for the weather and walked the high street to the club in coats and jumpers as the rain and snow fell down
For just one day
And for just one day
I might those men around me say:
For fuck sake,
I don’t like gay porn so why do I have to watch naked fucking men all day
I might hear those men say
Is it really ok to show two men in g strings pretending to fuck one another in a dance routine on X factor at 7 oclock in front of my sons
And I might hear those men say
Is it not enough that he is an amazing singer or rapper or songwriter and musician, why does have to wear a flashing crocodile toothed jock strap everytime he performs on stage
And I might hear those men say
Maybe, I might hear those men say,
Ok, I get it,
You’re not just on your period.
Perhaps you have a point.
Maybe you’re not just jealous of her tits
Maybe there’s more to this than you being annoyed by the way women are portrayed in the media.
And for just one day
I might wake up and not worry about my daughter growing up to be a women in this place where newspapers prey on teenage tits and tell me this is all ok
For just one day.
I’d like to see what those men who mock me say
If everything was the other way around.

So, what happens to this feminist dream deferred exactly?

If you guessed the Miley Cyrus[-Robin Thicke] Twerk performance at the VMAs on Sunday night, ding ding ding, you’d be correct.

I swear to Durga, I was just here on Sky Dancing not but a few weeks ago posting up women-powered parodies of Robin Thicke’s Blurred BS and his even more ridiculous claims to be the founder of a new feminist movement.

Let’s revisit Hollie McNish for a second, though — specifically:

Licking gadgets in their underwear

And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses

Ponder the entire poem and those two lines in particular, spoken by McNish nearly a year ago.

Compare to present-day Twerkgate, pretty much obsessed with Miley Cyrus and not-so-much Robin Thicke’s longstanding nonsense.

Then read this sexologist’s two cents on the 2013 MTV VMA’s:

Dear Society,

If you think a woman in a tan vinyl bra and underwear, grabbing her crotch and grinding up on a dance partner is raunchy, trashy, and offensive but you don’t think her dance partner is raunchy, trashy, or offensive as he sings a song about “blurred” lines of consent and propagating rape culture, then you may want to reevaluate your acceptance of double standards and your belief in stereotypes about how men vs. women “should” and are “allowed” to behave.

Dr. Jill

Any questions?

(Hint: The problem starts with a P ends with a Y and rhymes with Achy Breaky….and don’t even get me started on those creepy Vanity Fair photos her father Billy Ray Cyrus posed for with daughter Miley…if that doesn’t say Father failure, I don’t know what else much will.)

Now, let’s take a look at another late August milestone/anniversary, August 26, 1970 [via Haymarket Books]:

1185746_595393833844199_827582056_nThe Women’s Strike for Equality was a National strike which took place in the US on August 26, 1970—the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW). Defying mounted police, almost 50,000 marched down NY City’s Fifth Avenue. Dutch women marched on the US embassy in Amsterdam to show support, while French feminists demonstrated at the Arc de Triomphe, carrying a banner that read, “More Unknown Than the Unknown Soldier: His Wife.”

The strike primarily focused on equal opportunity in the workforce, political rights for women, and social equality in relationships such as marriage. It also addressed the right to have an abortion and free childcare.

In the words of the late Dr. King himself:

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.”

When is America going to be true to what it said on paper? All men created equal and a more perfect union?

Right now, in the year 2013, our Texas khaleesi Wendy Davis is collecting our signatures in support of Equal Pay for Equal Work.

So, I ask of you, why are we still in the same eternal battle? Women’s rights vs. War?

Alice Paul and Herstory, anyone?:

National Woman’s Party:

Alice Paul was chair of a major committee (congressional) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) within a year, in her mid-twenties, but a year later (1913) Alice Paul and others withdrew from the NAWSA to form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. This organization evolved into the National Woman’s Party in 1917, and Alice Paul’s leadership was key to this organization’s founding and future.

Alice Paul and Militancy:

In England, Alice Paul had taken part in more radical protests for woman suffrage, including participating in the hunger strikes. She brought back this sense of militancy, and back in the U.S. she organized protests and rallies and ended up imprisoned three times.


Equal Rights Amendment (ERA):

After the 1920 victory for the federal amendment, Paul became involved in the struggle to introduce and pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed in Congress in 1970 and sent to the states to ratify. However, the number of states necessary never ratified within the specified time limit and the Amendment failed.

Alice Paul and Peace:

Paul also was active in the Peace movement, stating at the outbreak of World War II that if women had helped to end World War I, the second war would not have been necessary.

And, in the direct words of the Iron Jawed Angel herself:

Mr. President how long must women wait to get their liberty? Let us have the rights we deserve.

Women’s Liberation Now.

Not World War III.

What is going on in Syria is harrowing.

There’s also a humanitarian crisis right here in these United States of America.

In the words of the late Coretta Scott King:

If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children.

In the words of Dr. Dorothy Height (from her memoir Open Wide the Freedom Gates, p. 200-1):

As economic pressures tightened, the black woman found herself trapped in a triple bind of racism, sexism, and poverty.

America, be true to what you said on paper. And, connect some dots already.

If it’s not Miley’s buttcheek, it’s Rihanna. If it’s not Rihanna, it’s Britney. If it’s not Britney, it’s Janet Jackson’s tit.

If it’s not Janet Jackson, it’s Honey Boo Boo Child and her mom or whatever their names are. (I thought we loved those very same characters in Little Miss Sunshine, but I guess that was only for Hollywood’s benefit.)
If it’s not the Honey Boo Boos, it’s the entire Real Housewives franchise cast of Bravo TV trying to keep up with those evil Kardashian women… (But, never ever Ryan Seacrest…)

Or, it’s Paula Dean:1234979_435679589881967_1417955754_nI’ve tried to connect some dots and vignettes here for you, that I think present a social and political commentary/context for discussing what we should be marching for–I’m going to stop here, because if I haven’t made my point clear by now, you’re probably not reading anymore anyway ;)

Also, I want to stop just short of offering my explicit answers so you can fill in the blank(s) yourself, below in the comments:

Today I march/pledge my solidarity for                                                               .

And, with that I’m going to turn the soapbox over to you Sky Dancers. Do your thing!

Sisterhood…Solidarity, forever.

Oh, and… Hillary 2016:

Caturday: Same Love

581797_431533186963274_214555754_nHappy Caturday, newsjunkies!

I see “Batman” is still trending on my social media feeds for the second day in a row. Gahhhh. Please alert me when the next super-shero blockbuster is due out, thanks.

Honestly, I’ve been super busy this week and really out of the loop news-wise, and even just feminist junkie wise this week, so y’all please chime in, in the comments, with whatever you’ve got on your blogging list this weekend. All I know is I still believe in equal rights for every last person on this earth! And, I really love this graphic from “Have a Gay Day” on fb.

Speaking of human rights for ALL–I’ll start with a super depressing story on one of the most marginalized and forgotten populations I can think of, then build my way up to some more inspiring stories.

So here it is, read it and, literally, weep… First Nations Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade On Ships Along Lake Superior:

Native women, children, and unfortunately even babies are being trafficked in the sex trade on freighters crossing the Canadian and U.S. border on Lake Superior between Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Duluth Minnesota.

Next month, Christine Stark—a student with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who is completing her Master’s degree in social work—will complete an examination of the sex trade in Minnesota, in which she compiles anecdotal, first hand accounts of Aboriginal women, particularly from northern reservations, being trafficked across state, provincial, and international lines to be forced into servitude in the sex industry on both sides of the border.

Stark’s paper stems from a report she co-wrote, published by the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre in Duluth in 2011, entitled, “The Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” Through the process of researching and penning this report, Stark kept hearing stories of trafficking in the harbours and on the freighters of Duluth and Thunder Bay. The numerous stories and the gradual realization that this was an issue decades, perhaps centuries, in the making, compelled Stark to delve further into what exactly is taking place.

She decided to conduct an exploratory study, “simply because we have these stories circulating and we wanted to gather information and begin to understand what has happened and what currently is happening around the trafficking of Native American and First Nations women on the ships” said Stark, in an interview with CBC Radio’s Superior Morning. “Hearing from so many Native women over generations talking about the ‘boat whores,’ prostitution on the ships or the ‘parties on the ships,’ this is something that… was really entrenched in the Native community and we wanted to collect more specific information about it.”

Through her independent research and work with the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre, Stark interviewed hundreds of Native women who have been through the trauma of the Lake Superior sex trade. The stories she’s compiled are evidence of an underground industry that’s thriving on the suffering of First Nations women, which is seemingly going unchecked and underreported.

feministcatI don’t even have the energy this afternoon to rant. I’m glad Stark is researching this story. This is just so sad.

And, appalling, racist, misogynist, capitalist/classist, the whole she-bang of despicableness that is patriarchy:

In an article written for the Duluth Star Tribune, Stark describes one disturbing anecdote of an Anishinaabe woman who had just left a shelter after being beaten by her pimp—who was a wealthy, white family man. He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the Cities for prostitution with Native women…he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden’ and ‘European colonizer’ myth with him during sex.”

Another important snippet:

I spoke with Kazia Pickard, the Director of Policy and Research with the Ontario Native Women’s Association based in Thunder Bay. Their organization has also been researching this issue. Kazia told me over email: “People assume that trafficking always takes place across international borders, however, the vast majority of people who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls from inside Canada and sometimes, as we’re now starting to understand, across the US border.”

In an earlier interview with the CBC, she also alluded to the possibility that there was trafficking taking place across borders in Southern Ontario as well. She made it clear to me that the image most people imagine when they think about “human trafficking” often isn’t accurate: “The majority of women who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls. So it’s not that you have people being trafficked across international borders in shipping containers or something like that.”

This is all too reminiscent of what I call the “stranger danger from within”… the manipulators and abusers with which women and children share a community, as opposed to the creepy guy no one ever knew:

In most cases it’s a lot more subtle. “Women may say they [have been pulled into it by] a boyfriend, there have been some reports of family members recruiting women into the sex trade… so it doesn’t appear in this sensationalized way that we may [think it is].”

All that said, there are nearly 600 aboriginal women who are currently missing or believed to have been murdered in Canada, a number the RCMP—who have are being accused of human rights abuses against aboriginal women on a monthly basis—have publicly questioned.

Well, now that I’ve sufficiently depressed you, how about a pick-me up? H/t to Joyce Arnold on this one–it’s a Bert and Ernie montage to Macklemore’s “Same Love”… Enjoy! … :

Here’s another one for smiles, just because:


Okay keep those warm and fuzzies somewhere nearby in your spiritual reserves, because this next one is depressing again…a not-so great development on a not-good story we’ve been following here at Sky Dancing…

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Facing New Disaster:

Storage tank leak sparks fears more could follow suit
Tokyo Electric Power Company workers have detected high levels of radiation in a ditch that flows into the ocean from a leaking tank at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said Thursday the leak could be the beginning of a new disaster – a series of leaks of contaminated water from hundreds of steel tanks holdng massive amounts of radioactive water coming from three melted reactors, as well as underground water running into reactor and turbine basements.

A new disaster? Uh, have we even resolved any of the previous disasters?!

This just sounds horrible, and I don’t want to be alarmist…I defer to experts on this stuff in our Sky Dancing community who can make better sense of all this of course, but WTF?!! Is this like a domino effect of Fukushimas? :

Tokyo Electric Power Co. says about 300,000 litres of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks, possibly through a seam. The leak is the fifth, and worst, since last year involving tanks of the same design at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, raising concerns that contaminated water could begin leaking from storage tanks one after another.

“That’s what we fear the most. We must remain alert. We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more,” Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference. “We are in a situation where there is no time to waste.” The watchdog also proposed at a weekly meeting Wednesday to raise the rating of the seriousness of the leak to level three, a “serious incident,” from level one, “an anomaly,” on an International Nuclear and Radiological event scale from zero to seven.

The watchdog urged TEPCO to step up monitoring for leaks and take precautionary measures.

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath waiting for TEPCO to do that. /sigh

I think I could use some more feminist lolcat, how about you? I really love this one:

sisterhood lol cats

And, as the trend of this post has been established, yes, I’ve got another sad one for you… via SocialistWorker, Struggling for their lives:

Orlando Sepúlveda reports from Chicago on a struggle led by immigrants whose loved ones are being denied a place on transplant lists at local hospitals.

Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church  (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS activists in Chicago held a memorial march, followed by a daylong occupation outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital following the death of Sarai Rodriguez, a 25-year-old undocumented woman who was in critical need of a liver transplant, but had been denied by the hospital last March, according to her mother, because she was uninsured and couldn’t afford the procedure.

Once again, I’m so exhausted by this. We can and must do better. This is an inhumane system. Human beings are not illegal. Insurance is not healthcare. And, healthcare is not a privilege–it is a right.

Here’s something cool to end with on Howard Zinn’s birthday:

1233456_10151611842454677_1367831120_n“I feel very lucky to have been Howard Zinn‘s student. He was a very creative, magical teacher. He taught us how to think for ourselves, to analyze, to question what we read, and speak truth to power. He was just engaging in every way. . . .I don’t think I would have survived at Spelman in the late ’50s without Howie. But he was extraordinary. He didn’t just teach; he lived what he taught.” — Marian Wright Edelman

Continue reading this and other stories collected by the Zinn Education Project from former students in honor of Zinn’s birthday today and in honor of the impact of powerful teachers every day. Please read and share:

Well, that’s what caught my eye this afternoon, Sky Dancers. Please share what’s caught yours and have a great Caturday!