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!

37 Comments on “Caturday: Same Love”

  1. dakinikat says:

    The Fukushima story is just awful. It seems like we all should hear more about and feel more panicked. Instead, we get the news of stupid things.

  2. Beata says:

    Thanks for the link to the Zinn Education Project, Wonk. A treasure-trove of information to be found there.

  3. Beata says:

    Terribly sad news that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s disease. Such a great artist. She has now lost the ability to sing.

  4. peej says:

    Hey Kat,

    A couple of agreements, a couple disagreements.

    The agreements: I can’t speak to nuclear disasters, but I think you’ve summed this one up well. Fukushima looks like its going into a spiraling domino effect. I’m still stymied that Japan ever allowed nuclear energy development to begin with. I’m wonder where the resistance level is at now? Shortly after the disaster there were some voices raised, but I don’t know know how that movement evolved (or didn’t).

    The report on First Nation women just makes me quiver with fury. Thank you for posting about it. I became aware of this issue only recently with the rise of trafficking/prostitution in fracking towns, with a disproportionately large number of First Nation women as victims. I’m ashamed that I wasn’t aware of it sooner.

    Two disagreements: While I love the Same Love message, I’ve always taken exception to sexualizing Ernie and Bert. Essentially, that’s what the Same Love video does. On the other hand it achieves its intended aim.

    The transplant story I don’t think is anywhere near reasonable with respect to organ transplantation in this country. It is horrendous the woman who died was turned away from the hospital because she was uninsured. My intent is not at all to disparage her or her family when I make my point, but the likelihood of her receiving a transplant had she been admitted is highly questionable. I don’t have the stats on hand, but an unconscionably high number of fully insured people die every year waiting for transplants. The donor/transplant network is a pretty complex thing to wade through. It’s just not as simple as you need an organ so you get one. And just because you get one doesn’t mean your body won’t reject it. I just don’t like the parallel, I guess. It’s not quite accurate and a somewhat shameful conflation. I support full coverage for all people at all times, which is why I support socialized medicine and not the Affordable Care Act. If immigrants are ever fully included within its framework will be a miracle, but even then, nothing close to a solution.

    Again, I don’t want to disparage the woman whose son needs a kidney transplant, but when she says “The dialysis is the only thing he has” – well, that’s all anybody else has too while they wait for a kidney. A hell of a lot of insured people will never receive one. Lack of documentation = no kidney is just an inaccurate conflation, and it’s offensive. I’m going to go off on a kidney transplant tirade if I go further. So, I’ll leave it there. I guess a raw nerve was struck. I apologize if I appear harsh or negative. I agree with the gist of the article regarding health care access, social services, and immigration reform. The answer to the concerns raised in this article is socialized medicine. Moreover, it’s the only solution – socialized medicine with no access restrictions – democritized healthcare – with its main frame removed from the marketplace.

    • Hiya peej, this was actually my post, not Kat’s 🙂

      I think the Bert and Ernie video is just sweet. I liked the New Yorker cover of Bert and Ernie watching The Supremes (SCOTUS justices) on their tv set while cuddled together on the couch too. I guess I don’t see it as an issue of sexualizing Bert and Ernie but rather a light-hearted cultural euphemism acknowledging that same sex relationships have always co-existed with us in society but are only now starting to approach parity in being recognized.

      As for the transplant story, I’m for socialized healthcare as well, so I don’t know if we’re in disagreement all that much. I do think being both uninsured and undocumented probably further disenfranchises a person and adds another layer of being removed from healthcare services and from being placed on a donor list, but yes obviously being uninsured is disenfranchisement enough already. I guess I didn’t see the article as sidestepping the issue of lack of insurance, as that too was mentioned alongside being undocumented…but more just raising a concern that disproportionately affects undocumented workers, as opposed to documented ones.

    • Also, you’re absolutely right that getting up a transplant list even when you’re insured and actually getting an organ that your body doesn’t reject is a difficult feat in itself. But not even being able to get on a list in the first place is like adding insult to injury I think, if that makes sense. It further displaces one from resources, and makes a second class citizen out of you at the same time.

      • peej says:

        Oh Mona. I. Am. So. Sorry. I don’t know why I thought you were Kat. I have no explanation. Yes, you are absolutely spot on with your take on Ernie and Bert – I think that was the intent and probably that’s how most will interpret it – it’s good. It’s positive. But, I also think that take on Ernie and Bert is a deliberative cultural interpretation and a relatively new one. It’s just my weird thing.

        As to the transplant/undocumented story. I doubt we’re in much disagreement in the message it was attempting to convey. I object to the way it was conveyed.

        You’re right about disenfranchisement adding another layer of removal from the health care system. You’re right; it raised a concern that disproportionately affects undocumented workers. Yet, I think you miss my point and I probably didn’t make it well.

        The article was framed with a number of human interest stories that made direct correlations that won’t make sense to a lot of people (and there are a lot of people) involved in the transplant network. Because the author weaves the story much in the way Greenwald staggers omission with conflation. The conclusion is likely to confuse, highly offend, and turn off those who have any connection at all to the transplant network in this country. I am predisposed in my sympathy and openness to the article’s overall message on which we both agree.

        With that said, I’m sure there are many like me who would be highly offended but will read this article in exactly the opposite way. I would have liked to have seen more research/reporting from the medical end to round out the article a little more. Because ultimately, the goal for writing it is to persuade. Unqualified quotes like “the dialysis is the only thing he has” might generate fast, visceral reactions with those who are particularly sensitive about this topic. Those reactions could run the gamut, at worst something like “F**k ’em, send ’em back across the border.” That’s just a guess on my part. There’s a reason that organs are also illegally trafficked now – because of the great number of people essentially “competing” for them. So, not unlike the demonization that occurs with respect to legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants competing with Americans for jobs, I could see the same attitude develop (but more emotionally charged) and get engrained with respect to organ transplantation. Does that make sense?

        Unqualified quotes and conclusions like “no documentation = no kidney” suggests the author of this article wrote it from a narrow angle which could easily result in dismissal of the article as “ignorant.” You are absolutely 100% right when you assert not getting on the list in the first place adds insult to injury. It makes sense to you. It makes sense to me. I question how much that conclusion will make sense to someone who is likely to be immediately offended by this article. I’m highly offended and I would consider myself a devotee of rationalism. How would someone react who is not? My guess is with anger, negativity, and rejection of any rational conclusion. Largely, because I don’t think this article was written to evoke a rational conclusion.

        Human interest stories are good for generating emotional appeal, but given my gut reaction to it, I’m not confident this article has presented an accurate picture of undocumented workers and the American health care system. Just an attempt to broaden the discourse – so our discourse meets our goals – public persuasion that ultimately leads to politician persuasion which ultimately lends support for sane public policy.

        Again, sorry if I sound horrid. I’m actually trying to be sensitive. I’m not really making any point well, I think. I should think it through more. I should just leave it alone. Forgive me.

        • I get what you’re saying, peej 🙂

          I think the article isn’t really geared toward a general public though-it was taken from “Socialist Worker.”

        • Also, I’m looking for the “no documentation = no kidney” quote in the article–I can’t find it. It’s probably staring me in the face, but if you could give a pointer–thanks!

          I guess the article could have been written more sensitively. I don’t think it was meant to be a human interest story though–more a report on the ground about a workers-related hunger strike over the issue, since it was written for SW. The issue of the transplant system itself is a really complex issue with no pat answers–I will keep my eye out for articles that bring out more aspects to link and quote in my future posts. I’m a registered organ donor (drivers license), and I do care about this issue very much. Sorry to have upset you by covering this angle in isolation. 😦

          • peej says:

            I don’t know, Mona. no documentation = no organ was my shorthand for the article’s conflation.

          • Ah, gotcha. I was confused, I thought you meant it was a direct quote. Thanks!

          • Fannie says:

            We are members of the AAKP (American Association of Kidney Patients)…………my husband has been maintaining, and not on dialysis (coming real close to having been on it at home). We have been dealing with renal diet, and program (which many doctors admire) which we have documented and helped others with planning, etc. There is only one cookbook for renal failure “Cooking for David”………..Recently we have expressed our concerned because of a 9.5% cut in payment for dialysis by the Medicare & Medicaid programs that start up at the beginning of year 2014. This is also part of sequestration related cut that began this year, and staffing and therapy has been put into effect, and is very dangerous for those whose life lines are for “dialysis”. Over 20 millions people suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (as my husband).

            I urge everybody to contact there representatives, because this effects more minority people than white, and the elderly, and the obese patients. We need to reverse these cuts.

          • Thanks for sharing that info, Fannie. This is troubling.

          • Gosh Fannie, this is troubling. So many of the cuts are hurting the people whose voices seem to always be the ones who get drowned out…or should I say shut out.

  5. bostonboomer says:
  6. dakinikat says:

    Eric Holder strikes again and finally!

    Justice Dept. sues Louisiana over school vouchers

    The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Louisiana to stop the state from distributing school vouchers in districts that remain under desegregation court orders.


    Louisiana’s Supreme Court rules that the funding method for a private school tuition voucher program pushed through the Legislature last year by Gov. Bobby Jindal is unconstitutional.


    Nearly 8,000 students have been approved for state-funded tuition to private schools of their choice under the statewide voucher program that is going into its second year.


    Three organizations opposed to Louisiana’s private school tuition voucher program are weighing in on the issue ahead of state Supreme Court arguments next week.

    Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called the department’s action Saturday “shameful” and said President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools.”

    In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the Justice Department says Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to nearly 600 public school students in districts that are still under such orders, and “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.”

    The department said Louisiana has given vouchers this school year to students in at least 22 districts remaining under desegregation orders.

    Jindal called school choice “a moral imperative.”

    Read more:

  7. ecocatwoman says:

    This is my sad story of the week:

    Climate change, warming oceans are threatening the survival of re-introduced puffins (the original population was killed off by…..humans). This story first ran on August 21st and brought me to tears. This morning it was played again, as if I needed a reminder of the sadness I feel for our planet and the life on it.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Workplace shooting in Florida.

    5 shot, 3 dead in Lake Butler mass shooting

  9. RalphB says:

    Since we could be sending cruise missiles inbound sooner rather than later. This is insane but true! A short guide to the Middle East

  10. RalphB says:

    With all the libertarian blather lately, TBogg on the works of Ayn Rand seems relevant again: Atlas Skimmed

    One assumes that it is somewhere around page 600 when Dagny Taggart has sex with Hank Reardon but it ends badly because, while sex is a the highest celebration of human values, giving your partner an orgasm because they expect one is just sanctioning your own victimhood.

    Which is the basis of all conservative marriages, I should add.

    That, and mistresses.

    And suppressed homosexuality.

    Oh, and double wet suits and dildos. I almost forgot that one.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I like this comment:

      In order to “get” Objectivism, it’s important to not actually read Ayn Rand. In the same way that it’s important to Christian faith that you not read the Bible yourself.

      After the first few hundred pages always lies an inescapable realization.