Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 6: The Globe provides us with an anti-SWC census

I hate to use Day 6 of Take Back the Tech for this but I can't resist.

Did you read the Globe & Mail's readers' comments yesterday? Masochistic, I know, but I couldn't stop. In response to the Canadian Press announcement: "Status of Women offices to be Closed," the G&M received 140 comments. I was astonished at the depth & breadth of the venom...when I regain my composure, I will post some examples. For now, the 'scientician' in me has busied herself tallying the numbers of anti-SWC & pro-SWC, male vs. female commenters...and here' s what I found:

Anti SWC (pro Harper/Oda cuts):
# Men: 57
# Women: 10
# un ID'd: 10
TOTAL Anti SWC: 77

Pro SWC (or at least "concerned" or skeptical of Harper/Oda cuts):
# Men: 28
# Women: 20
# un ID'd: 14
TOTAL Pro SWC (or 'not Anti'): 62

(there was one comment out of 140 that was neutral and just asking for more information about the announcement).

I hasten to add that I scored the "Pro SWC" comments extremely conservatively (Ha! a first!!) and gave comments the 'benefit of the doubt' if their feelings were at all unclear. It was rather easy to separate the wingers from the concerned-unsure-citizen. What's a winger? Well, a winger was more likely than not to use words like "radical," "elitist," "pigs at the trough," "P[olitically] C[orrect]"; bonus winger points for using >1 of these words in a sentence, e.g. Jinean from Montreal (a woman!):
We do not need or even necessarily want to be represented by a group of coniving [sic], elitist, sneaky women working under the guise of upholding women's rights while secretly promoting their own hidden agenda.
or Dave from 'Canada':
Taxes were never intended to support social engineering causes by academic elites intoxicated by their ideology.
And don't forget the ladies who started it all...oh yes, I'm talking about REAL: here's Eddy Black
Would it be a not have been more descriptive if the name was the the Status of Militant Liberal Women? Non-partisan women's groups such as Real Women of Canada that were more representative of married women were pretty much ignored by the Liberal Government as far as funding and support were concerned.
I'd better stop there for now. There's much, much more.

technorati tags: takebackthetech

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 5: Harper shuts 12/16 Status of Women Canada offices

And here it comes: Tories close most Status of Women offices
The Conservative government has stunned women's advocates with a decision to close three-quarters of the regional offices of Status of Women Canada.
Cabinet minister Bev Oda says 12 of the 16 offices will be shut by April 1.
Bev Oda: What have you got to say for your sorry self?!
Oda says the regional offices do little to serve women directly and money can be better spent by streamlining services.
Minna (Liberal) & Mathyssen (NDP) react:
Liberal MP Maria Minna calls the move "reprehensible." She says women still have a long way to go to reach equality with men and the government should be doing more, not less.
New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen says the decision shows the Tories have no commitment to promoting women's equality.
My first reaction? "Unbelievable." Reality: this was utterly predictable. Remember to check-in with Pam and Audra launched this site after the cuts were first announced. is dedicated to preserving Status of Women Canada--against all odds, it would seem. Go now!

technorati tags: takebackthetech

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 4: Postcard to Wonder Woman 1979

In the spirit of Take Back the Tech's postcard campaign ("If I had a....I would...."):

Of course it's definitely cheating to use "time machine," but it's the best I could do.

My mom made that costume herself and I was so proud of it. I tried to wear it again the next Hallowe'en but the felt "tiara" had begun to fray and droop. The only thing I was missing was WW's famous lasso that compels men to tell the truth.

Wonder Woman was on the cover of the first issue of "Ms. magazine" in 1972:

technorati tags: takebackthetech

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 3: Aussie Shoe Expo brings Attention to VAW

It's Day 3 of Take Back the Tech and I've been searching high & low (virtually, anyway) for stories about how people are commemorating the 16 Days Campaign. Tonight I'd like to feature a report from Australia:

Shoes speak in the fight against violence towards women []
As part of the lead up to White Ribbon Day 29 prominent Riverland community members have contributed their shoes to an exhibition raising awareness of violence against women.
Currently on display at the Renmark Public Library the shoes are accompanied by a booklet featuring people's thoughts about violence against women.
The exhibition has been organised by the Riverland Zonta Club. Club President Jenny Boyd says the exhibition is inspired by a similar event that highlighted domestic violence statistics
"It's based on the 77 pairs of shoes that was put together by the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) in Adelaide. That was 77 pairs of shoes reflecting that 77 intimate partner homicides on average happen every year in Australia."
Here's my favourite:

My boots remind me of dad.
I slide them on
He is there (though he is gone)
I feel safe
This is as it should be
--Sue George, Physiotherapist Loxton

More ideas and stories to come.

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Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 2: Gifts that help women beat the odds

It's Day 2 of the 16 Days campaign & Takebackthetech. Here's my modest suggestion for improving the lives of women using technology: Go shopping online!

Ok, not just any old shopping. I humbly present the following two gift-ideas:
  1. Global Exchange and The Women's Funding Network: Women Around the World Gift Basket "...a collection of gifts made by women around the world, benefitting women around the world. U.S. Women Without Borders is a campaign aimed at ending violence towards women & girls worldwide."
  2. Oxfam Unwrapped: In addition to buying livestock (goats, chickens, even camels), Oxfam also makes it easy to contribute towards training rural women: "Not only have the women involved been able to improve their incomes but they’ve also gained more respect in their communities. Participants in the program told us that they now have money to spend on food, school-fees for their children and are also investing money for when times are difficult. They report speaking up more in public meetings and that this new assertiveness is changing how they are viewed at home and in the community."

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Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence

What is the 16 Days campaign?
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.{links added}
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
  • Raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • Strengthening local work around violence against women
  • Establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
  • Providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
  • Demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
  • Creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
The UNIFEM/UNHCR poster is available here for print-out.

Remember! November 25 is also the kick off for "Take Back the Tech"--reclaiming technology to fight VAW. The gang has kicked off the 16 days with a "postcard" and "ka-BLOG" campaign. Drop by and check it out!

Our own dear SWC has promised to provide a "Virtual Organizers Toolkit" for Dec 6 commemorations, but it is not yet available. Watch this space.

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Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Take back the tech: Nov 25-Dec 10

This looks really promising and innovative:

What is the campaign about?
It is simply a call for every person-- women and men, who uses online communications (ICTs), e.g. for chatting, emailing, blogging, doing websites or developing tools, to use ICTs for activism against VAW (violence against women) for 16 days.

Primarily, we are asking women and grrls to "Take Back The Tech!" But you don't have to be female to disagree with violence faced by women and be part of the campaign to transform gender relations. Unequal power relations lie at the heart of VAW, and this is apparent from the
streets to online spaces. So we're now saying technology should be used for equality, not to perpetuate violence.

The question is, how? This is where you come in with what you know and come up with answers.
Thanks to Politics'nPoetry for the tip!

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Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Make plans for Dec 6...remember SWC?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What about Bob? Why Iran-Contra isn't Gates' only skeleton

Iran-Contra. Sure...*eyeroll*...bring that up again, GDK. [and again, and again, and again, and again] Yes, I admit: I'm a bit obsessed with all the Iran-Contra cobras that keep slithering back out of their baskets to hold positions of power. Why shouldn't we be worried?

In case you don't know what I'm a-blatherin aboot: Former CIA director Robert Gates has been nominated to replace Donald "stuff happens" Rumsfeld as Sec. Def. Here's what the new Democratic Senate Armed Services Cmte. should ask him at his confirmation hearing:

[A] When did you know that Reagan's National Security Council was working to resupply the Contras [the armed opponents of Nicaragua's leftist Sandanista government--lead by erstwhile & very recently resurrected Daniel Ortega]? Did you know that the source of the money used to supply the Contras was from selling arms to Iran?

[B] About Iran...what can you tell us about your role in manoeuvering to delay the release of the 52 American hostages in 1980, so that Carter wouldn't get any credit before the presidential election? Did the twin headlines, "Reagan inaugurated President" and "Hostages Released" not strain credulity? Let's clarify some foggy memories:
"William Casey, in 1980, met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership," the report said. "The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris."
At the Paris meeting in October 1980, "R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter and former CIA Director George Bush also took part," the Russian report said. "In Madrid and Paris, the representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran."
Both the Reagan-Bush Republicans and the Carter Democrats "started from the proposition that Imam Khomeini, having announced a policy of 'neither the West nor the East,' and cursing the 'American devil,' imperialism and Zionism, was forced to acquire American weapons, spares and military supplies by any and all possible means," the Russian report said. The Republicans just won the bidding war.
[C] Still with the subject of Iran, but adding a twist of Iraq: What role did you play in arming Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq war? If you agreed with Reagan's policy of supporting Hussein, then why not drum up support from Congress? Why didn't you at least tell them? From the New York Times, Nov 4, 1991 (during the Senate confirmation hearings for Gates as George HW Bush's CIA director):
The hearings left another question dangling: did Mr. Gates play a role in suspected intelligence-sharing and arms transfers with Iraq? The C.I.A., the committee concludes, shared vital intelligence with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and failed to report it to Congressional intelligence committees, as required by law.
How did Gates arm Iraq? This makes my head hurt: think Chile. Then think Egypt. Then think Iran. Then think....uhh...Florida? Ok, nevermind. Just read Robert Parry:
According to a 1995 deposition by Reagan national security aide Howard Teicher, Gates joined in a secret operation in the 1980s to funnel sophisticated military equipment to Iraq via Carlos Cardoen, an arms dealer in Chile with close ties to Gen. Pinochet.
Teicher stated, too, that to help Iraq in its war with Iran, Bush conveyed secret tactical recommendations to Saddam through Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Gates and Bush have denied a secret program to enlist third-country support for arming Iraq in the 1980s, although Reagan-Bush officials acknowledge passing along sensitive battlefield intelligence to help Saddam in his eight-year-long war against Iran.
But Teicher’s affidavit depicted a much more active role in which U.S. officials assured Saddam that he would get the military hardware he needed.
"Under CIA director Casey and deputy director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq," Teicher wrote in the affidavit submitted as part of an arms-smuggling case in federal court in Florida.
So how much of this will see the light (umm...again?) in the confirmation hearings? One can only hope. Here's how the Dems kicked it back in '91: {an excerpt from former Sen. Bill Bradley's opening statement at that confirmation hearing, September 1991}:
In the mid-80s even as the Iran-Contra operation was playing out, the U.S. tilted more and more forcefully toward Iraq. The following are things that are publicly known: First, the Reagan and Bush Administration approved export licenses for $1.5 billion worth of dual-use items--i.e. items that had a military application such as helicopters (not very much unlike the ones used in the invasion of Kuwait) and equipment that could help the Iraqi nuclear program.
Second, they muffled criticism of Iraqi's gassing of Kurds;
Third, they extended hundreds of millions of dollars in Ex-Im and agricultural loan guarantees; and
Fourth, in 1989, the Bush Administration opposed naming Iraq a terrorist state and when Congress did so anyhow, the President waived it's restrictions on agriculture and Ex-Im credits to Iraq.
In this atmosphere of cozying up to Iraq and remaining fixated by the Soviet specter, Mr. Gates did not refocus sufficient intelligence resources on the emerging Iraqi threat. Specifically, after Iraq routed Iran unexpectedly in 1988, it clearly increased its military advantage over all its neighbors and intensified its pursuit of technology for strategic and nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding these danger signs, Mr. Gates did far too little to ensure that U.S. policy would be well informed of Iraqi strategic activities, including ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
As a result, when Saddam Hussein began making more belligerent and specific threats against Kuwait in 1990, the Administration had no good alternative to the unreliable reassurances of Arab officials whose interests differed from ours. Fortunately, this failure of intelligence was not catastrophic for the U.S., but only because Saddam had provoked the U.S. prematurely, before he had acquired an effective chemical or nuclear deterrent. Enemy stupidity is not a reliable substitute for astute guidance.
Pretty damning, eh? So they prolly didn't confirm him, right? Right? Wrong. Even then they wimped out. Gates won confirmation in 1991 and the public barely batted an eye. In fact, the WaPo wrote a whole piece about how boring Iran-Contra was and how it didn't hold a candle to the glam/sleaze of Watergate...and how the Democrats blew it {Sept 19, 1991}:
We never decided what Iran-contra was, or why it mattered; whether it was a national disgrace, a set of discreet crimes, a policy struggle or a constitutional crisis. "There is no official reality of Iran-contra," in the sardonic words of one Democratic hill aide, "other than, 'the Democrats screwed it up.' "
Above all, the men running the investigation failed to appreciate the importance of creating their own narrative. Sam Dash, former chief counsel to the Senate Watergate committee, commented soon after the Iran-contra hearings closed, "These hearings were predestined to fail -- to provoke no public outrage -- because the hearings had no strategy. They never told a story, never explained to the people what happened."
"It enabled Ollie North to walk away with it, because he had a story -- he had a narrative," says [Sociology Professor, Todd] Gitlin.
and my favourite quote of all:
How poorly Iran-contra stacks up. "I forget who came up with the metaphor, but I've plagiarized it left and right," says Tom Blanton, deputy director of the National Security Archive. "Watergate was the great tragedy. The high and mighty were brought low, and so on; it was Shakespeare. Iran-contra is like Samuel Beckett: Everyone keeps wandering on and off stage, but you don't know what to make of it."
h/t to Radar for the 1991 NYT article and Senate confirmation links.

Read on, MacDuff!