It’s hard to focus on what marginalized people are saying, when they’re reduced to a collection of photos for the purpose of telling us that they’re “hot.” The act of finding those voices and listening to them is harder than taking a photo.
The Occupy movement was supposed to be ideal. It had momentum; it had unifying, “universal” potential; most importantly, it was never tied to any one figurehead or charismatic leader. Having a leader often ruins protests — makes them as simple as one perceived failure or weakness on that leader’s part. The Occupy movement was “leaderless,” based on a consensus decision-making process in which a motion could be brought forward, or definitively blocked, by any one person. Everyone had a voice. At least, in theory.
What can 100 US troops actually do to combat a small but fanatical militia organization that has already existed for over two decades? Is Ugandan President Museveni really invested in taking down the Lord’s Resistance Army?
Ugandan children hiding at night from LRA kidnappers, public domain.
This week, President Barack Obama authorized 100 Special Forces operatives to enter Uganda in an advisory capacity aimed at wiping out Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The militia originated in 1988 in Northern Uganda as a pentecostal Christian-influenced sect aimed at undermining the legitimacy of President Yoweri Museveni. Not long into his tenure as leader of the movement, Kony and his followers gained notoriety as one of the most brutal militias in the world. They have a long history of kidnapping and drugging children for use as child soldiers – and are also known for raping and torturing civilians, often cutting off the lips and noses of prisoners. When driven from northern Uganda between 2005 and 2007, the organization regrouped in the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and what is now South Sudan.
Notwithstanding Rush Limbaugh’s comically wrong-headed remark this week about Obama “targeting Christians,” it is not at all helpful to understand this as a conflict between Christians and Muslims. Museveni himself is a fundamentalist Christian and member of the international dominionist group, the Family.
After decades of military rule and censorship, the Burmese government is really desperate to show itself in a positive light. They’re so desperate that, ironically, the international community remains very cautious.
Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is in a whole jar of pickles right about now. The brand new civilian government is trying to set up a semblance of democratic reform, but human rights conditions in particular remain very repressive. Bad economic management and worse social injustice have been the case for decades, of course. So why is it coming to a head right now?
“This is the second time I have fought for my country,” a marine declared. “But it’s the first time I’ve known my enemy.”
Two weeks after a small band of protesters set up camp in New York’s Liberty Plaza Park, deep in the heart of the financial district, our numbers have expanded to staggering numbers. This is true in two senses. Firstly, the size of the New York protest has virtually grown too big for the park – a rumor on Friday that Radiohead would play drew so many attendees that no one could move in the park, and those numbers grew so that yesterday, when no famous band was expected, every inch of the sidewalks all around the park were also swarming. Secondly, the solidarity protests around the country now range from thousands in Los Angeles to hundreds in Seattle to protests yet to begin in Portland. There are even occupations organizing in Tokyo, Sydney, Montreal, Tijuana, Stockholm, Hamburg and at the London Stock Exchange.
We want to decide what our children should learn…
In Hong Kong, Directly-subsidized schools (DSS) have coped with public image damage lately. The Audit Office of the government issued a report blasting the financial mismanagement of some DSS schools. These have not allocated ten percent of their incomes for granting scholarships or grants to poor schools under the government guidelines.
What is the psychological cost of being a private war contractor in Iraq?
In “Route Irish” Ken Loach turns his critical eye to the privatisation of the war in Iraq and the devastating legacy these multi million companies leave behind in that country and in Great Britain. Lured by wages of thousands of pounds, tax-free of course, elite British soldiers ditch the regular army and their pitiful pay packets to baby-sit journalists, building contractors or mine clearance teams.
Eminem is not a “good guy” in the traditional sense.
In a recent interview with Anderson Cooper, Eminem posed an interesting question: Why does he [Eminem] seem to be the focus of intense media scrutiny when it comes to his homophobic and sexist lyrics? Eminem wondered, is it be cause he’s white? That is, do people pay particular attention to his lyrics (as compared to other, black rappers) because he is white?
“I felt like I was being attacked…. was being singled out. I felt like, ‘Is it because of the color of my skin? Is it because of that that you’re paying more attention?’
Eminem’s question provoked a bit of an outburst in the media that I think reveals some interesting things about how race is dealt with in mainstream white media. (more…)
We have a tendency to give people on the left a pass on their racist behaviour.
Jon Stewart has spent quite a bit of time making fun of Rick Sanchez, and this week, Sanchez appeared on the satellite radio show “Stand Up! With Pete Dominick” and fired back.
Sanchez called Stewart “a bigot.” If he had simply left it at that, the popular host of “Rick’s List” might still have his job today. (more…)
Protecting land for recreation became more important than protecting people’s bodies.
I am volunteering for an environmental justice organization in a large northern city. This group works on environmental health issues with the city’s poor, mostly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans, and has started focusing on how climate change will affect working-class people. Rising temperatures will lead to any number of problems for the economically disadvantaged, including air pollution, higher rates of asthma, greater populations of cockroaches and other unwanted insects, rising food prices, a greater percentage of income spent on energy, and increased mortality rates for people who do not have access to air conditioning.
Climate change has proven difficult to explain to people; scientists’ unwillingness to declare anything a certainty combines with climate change’s complexity to leave people confused. My organization went to its constituents and tried to explain climate change to them. The organizers messaged this campaign in an interesting way: openly attacking the environmental movement’s framing of the issue. They created buttons that featured a crossed-out polar bear. They repeatedly told the attendees that climate change was about people, not bears. And yet, when the question and answer session began, the overwhelming response was, “Why should I care about bears?” (more…)
Isn’t it the time now to think about real, long-term changes?
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The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood…Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another.
-George Orwell, “Can Socialists Be Happy?” 1943
I start with Orwell because people often forget that he remained a socialist even as he mounted critique after critique of the U.S.S.R. and other totalitarian-Communist states. Because the first argument one often faces in the U.S. when one suggests socialism as an alternative to the current political-economic structure is that Communism failed. But reading Orwell’s essays from the 40s, from an England struggling against Nazism on one side and yet learning of the brutality of Stalinism, is to remember that it is possible to have an intellectually honest critique of the states that called themselves socialist and to still advocate for socialism. (more…)
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