Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, this, by Derrick Jensen

 [image is from here]

All that follows is from *here*.

Upping the Stakes

Forget Shorter Showers

Why personal change does not equal political change

by Derrick Jensen

Published in the July/August 2009 issue of Orion magazine

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.

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And PLEASE click on this link to the blog, The Angry Black Woman, for this EXCELLENT POST with great links, 
for Earth Day 2010 ECD.

Judith Butler, Jewish Academic Feminist, Speaks Out About Israeli Policies Against Palestinians, and the anti-Palestinian Corporations to Boycott

 [this photograph of Professor Judith Butler is from *here*]

I don't value the views of academics as much as I am told I should, but I have always preferred to make writers who speak directly about the world of oppression and suffering, such as James Baldwin, Andrea Dworkin, and Audre Lorde, Marimba Ani, and Malalai Joya. Some of these people did teach a bit or more than a bit. But "The Academy" was not their home nor the primary source of income.

I have read a fair amount about Judith Butler, and have come to the conclusion that most of it a distortion or misunderstanding of what she wrote. She doesn't especially help, with her VERY academic writing style, but those that critique her are versed enough in such lingo to at least comprehend what she's addressing.

While it is not likely you'll find a lot on this blog about or by Judith Butler, primarily because she's a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature, which are not disciplines this blog is directly addressing (yes, some will say this blog deals with and produces quite a bit of rhetoric), I did want to post her statement, her speech, to an audience of students about Corporations invested in Israel's murder of Palestinians, and about being a Jew.

What follows is from *here*.

You Will Not Be Alone


By Judith Butler

April 13, 2010

Editor's Note: What follows is the text of a speech Professor Butler will give on Wednesday, April 14, to the students of the University of California, Berkeley. On March 18, Berkeley's Student Senate voted 16-to-4 to divest from General Electric and United Technologies because of their role in harming civilians as part of Israel's illegal occupation and the attack on Gaza. A week later, the Senate president vetoed the bill. The bill's opponents have been waging a fierce campaign of misinformation; student senators have been flooded with letters and Alan Dershowitz may visit the campus. More information about the bill can be found here.

Let us begin with the assumption that it is very hard to hear the debate under consideration here. One hears someone saying something, and one fears that they are saying another thing. It is hard to trust words, or indeed to know what words actually mean. So that is a sign that there is a certain fear in the room, and also, a certain suspicion about the intentions that speakers have and a fear about the implications of both words and deeds. Of course, tonight you do not need a lecture on rhetoric from me, but perhaps, if you have a moment, it might be possible to pause and to consider reflectively what is actually at stake in this vote, and what is not. Let me introduce myself first as a Jewish faculty member here at Berkeley, on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, on the US executive committee of Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, a global organization, a member of the Russell Tribunal on Human Rights in Palestine, and a board member of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. I am at work on a book which considers Jewish criticisms of state violence, Jewish views of co-habitation, and the importance of 'remembrance' in both Jewish and Palestinian philosophic and poetic traditions.

The first thing I want to say is that there is hardly a Jewish dinner table left in this country--or indeed in Europe and much of Israel--in which there is not enormous disagreement about the status of the occupation, Israeli military aggression and the future of Zionism, binationalism and citizenship in the lands called Israel and Palestine. There is no one Jewish voice, and in recent years, there are increasing differences among us, as is evident by the multiplication of Jewish groups that oppose the occupation and which actively criticize and oppose Israeli military policy and aggression. In the US and Israel alone these groups include: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, Jews Against the Occupation, Boycott from Within, New Profile, Anarchists Against the Wall, Women in Black, Who Profits?, Btselem, Zochrot, Black Laundry, Jews for a Free Palestine (Bay Area), No Time to Celebrate and more. The emergence of J Street was an important effort to establish an alternative voice to AIPAC, and though J street has opposed the bill you have before you, the younger generation of that very organization has actively contested the politics of its leadership. So even there you have splits, division and disagreement.

So if someone says that it offends "the Jews" to oppose the occupation, then you have to consider how many Jews are already against the occupation, and whether you want to be with them or against them. If someone says that "Jews" have one voice on this matter, you might consider whether there is something wrong with imagining Jews as a single force, with one view, undivided. It is not true. The sponsors of Monday evening's round table at Hillel made sure not to include voices with which they disagree. And even now, as demonstrations in Israel increase in number and volume against the illegal seizure of Palestinian lands, we see a burgeoning coalition of those who seek to oppose unjust military rule, the illegal confiscation of lands, and who hold to the norms of international law even when nations refuse to honor those norms.

What I learned as a Jewish kid in my synagogue--which was no bastion of radicalism--was that it was imperative to speak out against social injustice. I was told to have the courage to speak out, and to speak strongly, even when people accuse you of breaking with the common understanding, even when they threaten to censor you or punish you. The worst injustice, I learned, was to remain silent in the face of criminal injustice. And this tradition of Jewish social ethics was crucial to the fights against Nazism, fascism and every form of discrimination, and it became especially important in the fight to establish the rights of refugees after the Second World War. Of course, there are no strict analogies between the Second World War and the contemporary situation, and there are no strict analogies between South Africa and Israel, but there are general frameworks for thinking about co-habitation, the right to live free of external military aggression, the rights of refugees, and these form the basis of many international laws that Jews and non-Jews have sought to embrace in order to live in a more just world, one that is more just not just for one nation or for another, but for all populations, regardless of nationality and citizenship. If some of us hope that Israel will comply with international law, it is precisely so that one people can live among other peoples in peace and in freedom. It does not de-legitimate Israel to ask for its compliance with international law. Indeed, compliance with international law is the best way to gain legitimacy, respect and an enduring place among the peoples of the world.

Of course, we could argue on what political forms Israel and Palestine must take in order for international law to be honored. But that is not the question that is before you this evening. We have lots of time to consider that question, and I invite you to join me to do that in a clear-minded way in the future. But consider this closely: the bill you have before you does not ask that you take a view on Israel. I know that it certainly seems like it does, since the discussion has been all about that. But it actually makes two points that are crucial to consider. The first is simply this: there are two companies that not only are invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and peoples, but who profit from that occupation, and which are sustained in part by funds invested by the University of California. They are General Electric and United Technologies. They produce aircraft designed to bomb and kill, and they have bombed and killed civilians, as has been amply demonstrated by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. You are being asked to divest funds from these two companies. You are NOT being asked to divest funds from every company that does business with Israel. And you are not being asked to resolve to divest funds from Israeli business or citizens on the basis of their citizenship or national belonging. You are being asked only to call for a divestment from specific companies that make military weapons that kill civilians. That is the bottom line.

If the newspapers or others seek to make inflammatory remarks and to say that this is an attack on Israel, or an attack on Jews, or an upsurge of anti-Semitism, or an act that displays insensitivity toward the feelings of some of our students, then there is really only one answer that you can provide, as I see it. Do we let ourselves be intimidated into not standing up for what is right? It is simply unethical for UC to invest in such companies when they profit from the killing of civilians under conditions of a sustained military occupation that is manifestly illegal according to international law. The killing of civilians is a war crime. By voting yes, you say that you do not want the funds of this university to be invested in war crimes, and that you hold to this principle regardless of who commits the war crime or against whom it is committed.

Of course, you should clearly ask whether you would apply the same standards to any other occupation or destructive military situation where war crimes occur. And I note that the bill before you is committed to developing a policy that would divest from all companies engaged in war crimes. In this way, it contains within it both a universal claim and a universalizing trajectory. It recommends explicitly "additional divestment policies to keep university investments out of companies aiding war crimes throughout the world, such as those taking place in Morocco, the Congo, and other places as determined by the resolutions of the United Nations and other leading human rights organizations." Israel is not singled out. It is, if anything, the occupation that is singled out, and there are many Israelis who would tell you that Israel must be separated from its illegal occupation. This is clearly why the divestment call is selective: it does not call for divestment from any and every Israeli company; on the contrary, it calls for divestment from two corporations where the links to war crimes are well-documented.

Let this then be a precedent for a more robust policy of ethical investment that would be applied to any company in which UC invests. This is the beginning of a sequence, one that both sides to this dispute clearly want. Israel is not to be singled out as a nation to be boycotted--and let us note that Israel itself is not boycotted by this resolution. But neither is Israel's occupation to be held exempt from international standards. If you want to say that the historical understanding of Israel's genesis gives it an exceptional standing in the world, then you disagree with those early Zionist thinkers, Martin Buber and Judah Magnes among them, who thought that Israel must not only live in equality with other nations, but must also exemplify principles of equality and social justice in its actions and policies. There is nothing about the history of Israel or of the Jewish people that sanctions war crimes or asks us to suspend our judgment about war crimes in this instance. We can argue about the occupation at length, but I am not sure we can ever find a justification on the basis of international law for the deprivation of millions of people of their right to self-determination and their lack of protection against police and military harassment and destructiveness. But again, we can have that discussion, and we do not have to conclude it here in order to understand the specific choice that we face. You don't have to give a final view on the occupation in order to agree that investing in companies that commit war crimes is absolutely wrong, and that in saying this, you join Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and so many other peoples from diverse religious and secular traditions who believe that international governance, justice and peace demand compliance with international law and human rights and the opposition to war crimes. You say that you do not want our money going into bombs and helicopters and military materiel that destroys civilian life. You do not want it in this context, and you do not want it in any context.

Part of me wants to joke--where would international human rights be without the Jews! We helped to make those rights, at Nuremberg and again in Jerusalem, so what does it mean that there are those who tell you that it is insensitive to Jewishness to come out in favor of international law and human rights? It is a lie--and what a monstrous view of what it means to be Jewish. It disgraces the profound traditions of social justice that have emerged from the struggle against fascism and the struggles against racism; it effaces the tradition of ta-ayush, living together, the ethical relation to the non-Jew which is the substance of Jewish ethics, and it effaces the value that is given to life no matter the religion or race of those who live. You do not need to establish that the struggle against this occupation is the same as the historical struggle against apartheid to know that each struggle has its dignity and its absolute value, and that oppression in its myriad forms do not have to be absolutely identical to be equally wrong. For the record, the occupation and apartheid constitute two different versions of settler colonialism, but we do not need a full understanding of this convergence and divergence to settle the question before us today. Nothing in the bill before you depends on the seamless character of that analogy. In voting for this resolution, you stand with progressive Jews everywhere and with broad principles of social justice, which means, that you stand with those who wish to stand not just with their own kind but with all of humanity, and who do this, in part, both because of the religious and non-religious values they follow.

Lastly, let me say this. You may feel fear in voting for this resolution. I was frightened coming here this evening. You may fear that you will seem anti-Semitic, that you cannot handle the appearance of being insensitive to Israel's needs for self-defense, insensitive to the history of Jewish suffering. Perhaps it is best to remember the words of Primo Levi who survived a brutal internment at Auschwitz when he had the courage to oppose the Israeli bombings of southern Lebanon in the early 1980s. He openly criticized Menachem Begin, who directed the bombing of civilian centers, and he received letters asking him whether he cared at all about the spilling of Jewish blood. He wrote:

I reply that the blood spilled pains me just as much as the blood spilled by all other human beings. But there are still harrowing letters. And I am tormented by them, because I know that Israel was founded by people like me, only less fortunate than me. Men with a number from Auschwitz tattooed on their arms, with no home nor homeland, escaping from the horrors of the Second World War who found in Israel a home and a homeland. I know all this. But I also know that this is Begin's favourite defence. And I deny any validity to this defence.
As the Israeli historian Idith Zertal makes clear, do not use this most atrocious historical suffering to legitimate military destructiveness--it is a cruel and twisted use of the history of suffering to defend the affliction of suffering on others.

To struggle against fear in the name of social justice is part of a long and venerable Jewish tradition; it is non-nationalist, that is true, and it is committed not just to my freedom, but to all of our freedoms. So let us remember that there is no one Jew, not even one Israel, and that those who say that there are seek to intimidate or contain your powers of criticism. By voting for this resolution, you are entering a debate that is already underway, that is crucial for the materialization of justice, one which involves having the courage to speak out against injustice, something I learned as a young person, but something we each have to learn time and again. I understand that it is not easy to speak out in this way. But if you struggle against voicelessness to speak out for what is right, then you are in the middle of that struggle against oppression and for freedom, a struggle that knows that there is no freedom for one until there is freedom for all. There are those who will surely accuse you of hatred, but perhaps those accusations are the enactment of hatred. The point is not to enter that cycle of threat and fear and hatred--that is the hellish cycle of war itself. The point is to leave the discourse of war and to affirm what is right. You will not be alone. You will be speaking in unison with others, and you will, actually, be making a step toward the realization of peace--the principles of non-violence and co-habitation that alone can serve as the foundation of peace. You will have the support of a growing and dynamic movement, inter-generational and global, by speaking against the military destruction of innocent lives and against the corporate profit that depends on that destruction. You will stand with us, and we will most surely stand with you.

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley.

Protestors Gather and March in Washington D.C.: End The Wars In Afghanistan and Iraq!

 [image is from here]

What follows is from *here*, from A.N.S.W.E.R.: Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

Images of the protest may be seen here:

Thousands take to the streets to demand:
 U.S. out of Afghanistan and Iraq now!

On Saturday, thousands of people converged at the White House for the March 20 March on Washington—the largest anti-war demonstration since the announcement of the escalation of the Afghanistan war. By the time the march started at 2 p.m., the crowd had swelled up to 10,000 protesters.
Transportation to Washington, D.C., was organized from over 50 cities in 20 states. Demonstrators rallied and marched shoulder to shoulder to demand “U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan Now,” “Free Palestine,” “Reparations for Haiti” and “No sanctions against Iran” as well as “Money for jobs, education and health care!”
Speakers at the Washington rally represented a broad cross section of the anti-war movement, including veterans and military families, labor, youth and students, immigrant right groups, and the Muslim and Arab American community.
Following the rally, a militant march led by veterans, active-duty service members and military families made its way through the streets of D.C. carrying coffins draped in Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani, Somali, Yemeni, Haitian and U.S. flags, among those of other countries, as a symbol of the human cost of war and occupation. Coffins were dropped off along the way at Halliburton, the Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and other institutions connected to the war profiteering, propaganda, and human suffering. The final coffin drop-off was at the White House—the decision-making center of U.S. imperialism.
The demonstration received substantial media coverage. It was featured in a major story on page A3 on the Sunday Washington Post (click here to read it). An Associated Press article on the March on Washington was picked up by a large number of newspapers and media outlets in the United States and abroad.
Joint demonstrations in San Francisco and Los Angeles drew 5,000 protesters each.
In San Francisco, the demonstration included the participation of UNITE HERE Local 2 hotel workers, who are presently fighting for a contract; students, teachers and parents who have been organizing against education budget cutbacks; and community members and activists who have been engaged in a struggle to stop fare hikes and service cuts.
In Los Angeles, demonstrators marched through the streets of Hollywood carrying not only coffins but also large tombstones that read “R.I.P. Health care / Jobs / Public Education / Housing,” to draw attention to the economic war being waged against working-class people at home in order to fund the wars abroad. Essential social services are being slashed to pay for the largest defense budget in history.
The March 20 demonstrations mark a new phase for the anti-war movement. A new layer of activists joined these actions in large numbers, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. A sharp connection was drawn between the wars abroad and the war against working people at home. Though smaller than the demonstrations of 2007, this mobilization was larger than the demonstration last year—the first major anti-war action under the Obama administration. The real-life experience of the past year has shown that what we need is not a change in the presidency, but a change in the system that thrives on war, militarism and profits.
These demonstrations were a success thanks to the committed work of thousands of organizers and volunteers around the country. They raised funds, spread the word through posters and flyers, organized buses and other transportation, and carried out all the work that was needed on the day of the demonstration. We took to the streets in force even as the government tried to silence us with tens of thousands of dollars in illegal fines for postering in Washington, D.C., and felony charges against activists for postering in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
We want to especially thank all those who made generous donations for this mobilization. Without those contributions, we could not have carried out this work.
March 20 was an important step forward for the anti-war movement. We must continue to build on this momentum in the months ahead. Your donation will help us recover much-needed funds that helped pay for this weekend's successful demonstration, as well as prepare for the actions to come. Please make a generous donation to support the anti-war movement.

Will the U.S. Ratify the UN's Indigenous Rights Declaration now that New Zealand has and Australia is considering it?

What follows first is from *here*. Two short related news stories are also included in this post.

NZ to Ratify UN's Indigenous Rights Declaration

By Rich Bowden Img: Maori flag

New Zealand’s Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples has told Radio New Zealand that his Government will ratify the non-binding United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within weeks, reversing the previous Labour party’s policy.

Previously one of only four countries – along with Australia, Canada and the United States – to refuse to endorse the declaration, New Zealand has now decided to ratify the key declaration which guarantees Indigenous peoples the right to right to self-determination, autonomy and the self-government of their local and internal affairs.

Australia has since decided to change its stance on the document.

Mr Sharples told Radio New Zealand he expected to make a joint announcement within weeks with Prime Minister John Key on the details of the ratification.

Mr Sharples, who is also the co-leader of the Maori Party in the Government coalition, said the the ratification of the declaration would protect Maori culture and would not override New Zealand sovereign law or provide additional claims of self-determination.

However the declaration has been criticised from a number of quarters.

One of the bones of contention is Article 26 which says Indigenous peoples have the right to “…own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they have traditionally owned, occupied or used.”

The NZ Herald quoted New Zealand’s permanent UN representative, Rosemary Banks, as saying such an arrangement would be unworkable in the country.

“For New Zealand, the entire country is potentially caught within the scope of the article. The article appears to require recognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous and non-indigenous.”

However the document supporters contend that it is intended as an aspirational declaration rather than legal and the New Zealand Government has decided, unlike the previous Labour administration, that ratifying its posed no legal dilemmas.

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What's next is from *here*, with a follow-up on the U.S. below...

New Zealand Signs UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights

New Zealand has become one of the last holdout countries to ratify the UN declaration of indigenous rights, leaving only the US and Canada in opposition. New Zealand cabinet member Pita Sharples announced the move on Monday.
Pita Sharples: “I come with humble heart to celebrate the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. The New Zealand government has long discussed this matter and has recently decided to support it.”
The UN General Assembly passed the sweeping declaration granting native peoples the “right to self-determination” in 2007 with an overwhelming 143 votes in favor. New Zealand was one of only four countries to vote against the declaration, along with the US, Australia and Canada. Australia has also reversed its position.

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Last up for this post, is from *here*.

Updated at 3:02pm on 21 April 2010
The United States is reviewing its opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Washington's UN ambassador Susan Rice has announced.

The move came a day after New Zealand signed up to the declaration that was passed by a large majority in the General Assembly in September 2007.

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the only countries to vote against the declaration when it was adopted. Following a change of government, Australia said last year it had decided to back the text.

The declaration says indigenous peoples "have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used and acquired." Opponents said the phraseology went too far and threatened legal chaos over property rights.

US officials said at the time - when the Bush administration was in office - that the text was unclear and that those who drafted it had failed to seek consensus.

Howeover, addressing a UN forum on indigenous peoples on Tuesday, Ms Rice said the United States had decided to review its position.

She noted that Native American leaders had encouraged President Barack Obama to re-examine the US stance.
Copyright © 2010 Radio New Zealand

And Will The U.S. Het Male Troops Who Did, for Years, and who Are, and who Will Rape Afghan Women Ever Be Charged With Crimes Against Humanity?

That is the question I wish for you to ask yourselves as you read about the following atrocity and horror, that no government, it seems, will recognise as such. And no government, so far, will say that there is a war by het men, against all women. "Revenge rapes" appears to be a term used to describe crimes against womanity by men who take what they want when they want it in order to purposefully harm, degrade, violate, and humiliate women and girls.

As a U.S. citizen, it appears to me that most rape is an act of het male entitlement, expressing, in atrocity, het men's sense of right, entitlement to take what they want when they want it, regardless of the impact or effect or damage to the female humans beings, and yes, also sometimes to boys and men--with het men raping other men only when there are no females around.

What follows has some historic and cultural location. And the experiences of these women and girls is bound up with that history and location.

But het men's savage rape of women is not bound by region or era. As noted, in the U.S. the most raped population of females is American Indian women and girls, by predatory white het men. One in three, people. One in three. Not always by white men, but at least eight of every ten rapists are white, which tells you a lot about who the savages are and have always been in the United Rapes of Amerikkka. But this is a story particular, in some ways, to Afghanistan, and some of those particulars are made clear here. After you are done reading this, return to the heading of this post, and ask yourself: what are the chances that U.S. Troops, men, who rape Afghan and Iraqi women, will ever be brought to justice by any government? Because when stories like the one below are put into the U.S. media, it is to pretend that "only those Afghan men are callous brutes", and it is time to realise, we produce them here, in great quantity, and almost none of them are ever brought before a court for being rapists, and almost none of those that do enter a courtroom for that time see any time in prison. And of those who go to prison, the sentence is years, not a lifetime. Never mind that for many survivors of sexual assault, if not all, the time it will take us to get over the violation and humiliation and other physical and psychic harm is a lifetime, or longer.

What follows is from *here*.

“In My Father’s House They Gathered All the Women into One Room”

Visiting the victims of Afghanistan's revenge rapes.



Kampirak, Amir Jan, and Qulyambo

O, daughters of Balkh! Your unrivaled beauty is the stuff of legends. One of your own has enchanted Alexander the Great with her pulchritude. And the violence you have suffered under the breast-shaped clay roofs of your Baktrian homes is unspeakable, unspoken, and unpunished. 

In late 2001, after helping kick the Taliban out of northern Afghanistan, two militias allied with the United States raped and plundered their way through your villages. One was the ethnic Uzbek militia of General Abdul Rashid Dostum; the other was made up of ethnic Hazara followers of the warlord Muhammad Mohaqiq. They killed your men, slaughtered and stole your livestock, pillaged your homes, and violated your sisters, mothers, and daughters. Some of them took the time to explain why they had picked you as their victims: Because you are Pashtun, the ethnic group that made up most of the Taliban. 

They were victorious; they were in the mood to avenge the rapes and massacres Taliban fighters had committed against their own wives, sisters and daughters. In the evolution of warfare, swords replaced javelins and guns replaced swords -- but rape has remained just as efficient a weapon as it was when the Achaemenid armies lay waste to this land, 2,600 years ago. You, daughters of Balkh, were the latest targets of the latest revenge cycle that swept through your country. Wheat in your fields has shuddered at the anguished screams of generations of your foremothers. 

Eight years ago, four Pashtun women told me of their assailants, three fighters from Dostum's militia, Junbish-e-Milli-e-Islami who took turn raping them all night. Technically, only one of them, Nazu, was a woman; her daughters were 10, 12, and 14. The youngest, Bibi Amina, was playing with the fringe of the giant red scarf that covered her head and smiling. It seemed to me that she had not understood what had been done to her. The local police chief, an ethnic Tajik, said at the time that his men were too few, and too poorly armed, to hunt down the assailants. He was waiting for reinforcements. 

Years passed; the militiamen who ravaged the Pashtun villages in Balkh remained free. Their warlords became government ministers; their lower-ranking commanders received posts in parliament; many of the rank-and-file fighters joined the police and thearmy. Their victims stopped talking about the crimes they had endured: Rape in Afghanistan carries a mark of unutterable disgrace.

Under their breast-shaped roofs - perfect hemispheres that face the limpid clay sky and virescent fields of wheat -- the women grieve quietly, and alone. They knead their tragedies into the golden sundials of nan they bake in smoky tandoor ovens in their impoverished courtyards; they weave them into the oil-black braids of their young, beautiful daughters; they immure them into the crumbling house walls they mend with fistfuls of straw and mud. When they do speak of those terrible days after the Taliban fell, they equivocate. 

"They touched all the women and the teenage girls," one widow, whose cheeks and forehead are dotted with deep-blue marks of tribal tattoos, whispers to me in the corner of her dust-choked house.

"They dragged us out of our homes. Women and girls are ashamed to talk about what happened then," says another, modestly covering her face with a tatteredscarf the color of ripe wheat. 

In my father's house they gathered all the women in one room," says the third. Her amber eyes bore through me. "We will never forgive these crimes. Until we die." 

Last month, the Afghan government confirmed that it had signed into force the National Stability and Reconciliation Law -- and what a tragic misnomer that is. The law effectively amnesties all warlords and fighters responsible for large-scale human rights abuses in the preceding decades. "Their view," says Farid Mutaqi, a human rights worker in Mazar-e-Sharif, "is that justice should be the victim of peace." 

You know what this means, daughters of Balkh: This means your rapes will never be punished. Perhaps, in some future iteration of war that has been rolling back and forth through these green wheat fields almost incessantly for millennia, they will be avenged -- through some other rapes, of some other women.
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