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US To Gaza

Hello,

For our next upcoming event that will take place in the Women’s Colloquium in Women’s Studies, we have received a spot on the main USTOGAZA website. Check it out here

Not to mention, SBU TV has asked to film the presentation by Ann Wright. We will hopefully be getting a youtube link to this video in order to have it as a link on this website. The club hopes to see everyone there!

 

Political InQueery: Conspicuously Absent Issues

http://bitchmagazine.org/post/political-inqueery-conspicuously-absent-issues

As far as human emotions go, if the 2004 elections were about fear and the 2008 elections about hope, it seems fair to say that the 2010 midterm elections have been about anger. Anger at the government for what’s perceived as a weak economy. Anger at Congress, either for not getting enough done, or for turning the country into a cesspool of socialism, depending on one’s political leanings. Anger at immigrants, who are so crafty to get into the United States that they’ll even crawl under fences that aren’t on the border with another country (at least according to the ads in Louisiana and Nevada). Anger at liberals and their long affair with taxes. Anger at gay people. Earlier this week Mother Jones ran a cover with Sarah Palin in the image of the ’50s movie poster, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, to attempt to show how middle class anger is so fever-pitch high that people are talking about voting against their own interests, and what was the response? Anger that they would replicate such a sexist image.

Although elections may be marked by cultural moments or zeitgeist, they are also ostensibly about issues. So it saddens me that there have been several issues this cycle that have barely made it into the press at all. Here’s what we haven’t been paying attention to:

Environmental Issues—Anyone remember the drawn-out, massive disaster that was the BP oil platform explosion? Eleven workers killed, and we saw month after month of cleanup attempts, as time marched from April to August. People were up in arms for a minute, mostly because of the antics of BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, who was eventually shipped off to the company’s operations in Russia. BP came in with a couple of fake pictures on its website, and spent a ton of money on PR. When it came out that the environmental situation in Nigera dwarfs what happened in the Gulf, the wind went out of many people’s sails, and then finally, the underwater well was capped. Recently the Obama Administration lifted its offshore oil drilling moratorium, without any fanfare. There have been few mentions of drilling in Anwar outside Alaska’s three-way senate race. In the Northwest, any mention about the perennial problem of logging is nowhere to be found; instead people are arguing over whether Washington State should privatize its liquor sales and open an income tax on people earning more than $200,000 a year (Washington state currently has no income tax). And after the Bush Administration intentionally stopped enforcement on several EPA regulations for clear air and water, nobody has campaigned in 2010 on making improvements to damaged areas.

Education– The Democrat-controlled Congress passed a large reform for student loans, wrapped in the health care reform legislation last March. But other than tout the savings to the government and taxpayer, and how this opens up more funding for Pell Grants, little has been said about education in the United States. Maybe we are all still fatigued by the No Child Left Behind law. It’s striking that in an autumn in which so many people have finally focused on the issue of LGBT youth suicide and child bullying, that what the Federal Government should be doing in our schools to help correct these problems hasn’t come up as an important topic in this election. Maybe it was too late to get into the candidates’ position papers? Sure, that must be it.

ENDA—Last spring and summer saw some debate on the Hill; on the right-wing this was about frustration with catering to the special interests of lesbians and gays, while on the left it was over the exclusion of transgender people from the bill language. People following the legislation got chronic neck pain as ENDA was batted around like a tennis ball. It’s going to the floor for a vote. It’s not going for a vote until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is revoked. Transgender people will be included. Oh, no they won’t. Perhaps because ENDA is a reminder of something the Democrats failed to achieve, they don’t bring it up in their debates or talking points. And there’s no reason a mainstream Republican, not to mention a Tea Party-affiliated candidate, would talk about it. And many people in the queer community wonder how it will fare next year, if the House is more tightly divided than it is now.

The Economy—Nearly 10 percent of working-age Americans are unemployed, and even more are underemployed. After the housing bubble burst, after people began failing to pay their mortgages en masse, and after the recent revelations about fraud in the privatized foreclosure process that banks have set up for themselves, there are somehow very few discussions in this election about what our next steps out of these messes should be. The GOP would like to cut more taxes or at least extend the Bush-era tax cuts, claiming it will free up more money for people to spend on more things. Democrats say we need to let those cuts lapse so the government can get that $680 billion back into its revenue stream. But other than arguing about whether the cuts should stay or go, conversations about the economy quickly have devolved into angry rhetoric over who is at fault for our financial struggles. All this while many major economic indicators show growth.

I know there are more issues out there that haven’t really received their 15 minutes of fame, but it’s striking that such big-ticket topics like these have fallen by the wayside when we’ve been arguing about undocumented workers, the Islamic “threat” to our national security, who is pissed not to have received an endorsement, which campaign ads are the most frustrating to watch, whether flouride is out to get us, and any manner of other subjects that amount to a distracting din. With less than a week until Election Day, I wonder how many people will be voting on issues from an informed standpoint, and how many will be voting only on a party line.

Topless protest against Putin’s Ukraine visit

Kiev: Activists from Ukraine’s women’s rights group FEMEN went topless in Kiev on Wednesday in protest against visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine knows why he visits, he wants to tear away pieces from Ukraine. We won’t let him do this. The entire Ukraine will not allow that. And we simply reflect the opinion of the whole of Ukraine,” one of the topless activists, Alexandra Shevchenko, said.

Putin is visiting Ukraine to discuss economic cooperation.

The group is infamous for its topless activism. In March its activists went topless outside the Cabinet Ministers’ office to protest the formation of an exclusively male cabinet in Ukraine”s new government.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/topless-protest-against-putin-s-ukraine-visit-62828?cp

French pension protests ‘wane’ Government sees end to crisis as number of demonstrators falls after retirement legislation is passed by parliament.

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2010 23:03 GMT

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/10/2010102819154204229.html

Hundreds of thousands of French workers have taken to the streets in a last ditch effort to stop the government from raising the minimum retirement age, but both police and unions said that the numbers at the protests were falling.

While the crowds marching under a sea of trade union banners presented a united front on Thursday, many protesters seemed to have stayed at home after the law overhauling the pensions system was passed by both houses of parliament.

Officials said 560,000 took part in the ninth one-day protest, compared to 1.1 million on October 19, while unions said the turnout had fallen from 3.5 to two million and admitted demonstrators were being worn down.

Eric Woerth, the labour minister and architect of the pension law, told AFP news agency, that “the significant slowing of mobilisation” against the reform lead him to “hope for an end to the crisis in the coming days or weeks”.

‘Large demonstrations’

However, Bernard Thibault, the head of the powerful CGT union, hailed protesters for continuing to come out despite the bill being passed in parliament.

“What’s impressive is that this is doubtless the first time that the day after a law is voted we have such large demonstrations,” he said.

Thibault called on Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, not to enact the law.

The CGT said that 170,000 people attended a demonstration in Paris, around half the union estimate of 330,000 who rallied in the capital last time. The government said the Paris figure was down from 60,000 to 31,000.

“It’s difficult to see colleagues abandon us, to see them throw in the towel,” Laurent Montels, an oil worker, said.

However, at least 270 rallies were held around the country and strikes continued to have a significant impact.

Flights cancelled

Half of domestic flights were cancelled at Paris’ second airport Orly, and authorities said that one-third of them would be cancelled at the city’s main international airport, Charles de Gaulle.

Rail services were also affected, with only six regional expresses and eight high-speed links to Paris working.

Fuel supplies, which were last week threatened by fuel depot blockades, are returning to normal, according to industry officials, but one-in-five filling stations is still out of petrol and half of France’s refineries are still on strike.

At least one more day of action is planned on November 6, but the French parliament has approved Sarkozy’s pensions bill and his aides say he intends to sign it into law on or around November 15.

“It may look like Sarkozy has won, but at what cost, remains to be seen,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Paris, said.

The president’s approval rating is at a new low of 29 per cent, but he hopes the victory can help restore his political fortunes in the run-up to re-election in 2012.

Sarkozy’s administration has all along insisted that raising the retirement age is not only necessary but “inevitable”, with the French population ageing and the public deficit expanding.

EVENTS!

Hey everyone, check out the events section of the website for some awesome upcoming social justice events!

California Proposition 19

On November 2, one week from today, Californians will have the opportunity to legalize Cannabis as a controlled substance (with regulations similar to those placed upon alcohol consumption). On the whole, this could represent an important step forward for the entire nation, setting a precedent for allowing us all, as reasonable adults, to enjoy a relatively harmless recreational substance in a responsible manner.

There has been a lot of talk about the possible benefits of Cannabis use. The active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is commonly known as a treatment for Glaucoma, and evidence has even been found demonstrating a reduction in the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis when patients are given doses of the active compound (http://msj.sagepub.com/content/10/4/434.abstract). While there has also been a great deal of fear regarding cannabis use, claims that “marijuana rots your brain” are unfounded, especially when compared with the effects of alcohol. While operating on different neuro-psychological pathways, both drugs can have lasting effects on the brain (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20958330?dopt=AbstractPlus); yet one is legal and one is not. Even still, as far as marijuana use is concerned, permanent damage is only associated with “heavy” use (a small percentage of the using population actually fits this description), with such an effect being amplified if “heavily” used during adolescence (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20946746?dopt=AbstractPlus). Even the “gateway drug” hypothesis falls apart under rigorous analysis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20943588?dopt=AbstractPlus). With all of this evidence, there seems to be no reason not to “legalize pot”, especially under the age and other (no driving under the influence) restrictions that would come with Proposition 19.

Beyond the simple medical rationales and arguments for our rights as free citizens, are the broader social, political, and legal factors which truly make this legalization necessary. In the context of the current economic recession, legalization of Cannabis would enable states to tax its sale, bringing in much needed revenue–revenue that could then be put into much needed social programs for the unemployed and uninsured. With Cannabis legalized, a significant burden would be lifted from our overcrowded prison systems, which would free up government funds for social programs, as well. This is to say nothing of the gains in civil liberties once people can no longer be incarcerated for what is, ostensibly, a victim-less crime. In speaking of civil rights, it is also important to note the gains which would be made in the communities of racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged. In a recent Op-Ed, Charles M. Blow illustrates the way in which “the war on drugs in this country has become a war focused on marijuana, one being waged primarily against minorities.” For the full editorial, copy this url: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/23/opinion/23blow.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

There is, of course, much more to be said on the subject, but this post is long enough as it is. If you feel there’s something more that needs to be added, please feel free to comment below.

While Proposition 19 would only affect Californians, if it passes similar legislation may very well follow. Legalization of Cannabis is about more than just our right to smoke weed; it represents a significant step towards a better society. So show your support for Prop. 19, if only on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/taxcannabis), and lets hope that California doesn’t let us down!