Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm Moving to the Peace Train

Well, the moving vans are here and I'm all packed up. I have made the decision to continue writing at The Peace Train, but will no longer maintain the Glenda in the Land of Oz blog.

I'd rather focus on one website and my committment to peace is there.

I also enjoy the community focus there as well as at The Blue Republic. My work against the war, against violence continues. I urge all you great bloggers to continue to carry the banner for peace and justice.

Come on over and read about the Codepink weekend of Peace and Uppity women!

And if you haven't joined, what are you waiting for?

Also, feel free to contact me over there. I will still try to get out and visit your blogs as often as possible!

Signing off, but not goodbye!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Guess Where I will be the next two days???

I am off on Friday and Saturday to a Codepink Women's Retreat with lots of cool speakers.

I'll be back on Sunday! I will hopefully be coming back with pictures and stories.

Until then, please visit the Peace Train, and look at all the new things we have added!
And while you are at it try our sister site, The Blue Republic, if you haven't been there.

And to amuse you...a quote!

"Napoleon's campaign included a rapid conventional victory over Spanish armies but ignored the immediate requirement to provide a stable and secure environment for the people and the countryside.

The French should have expected ferocious resistance.

The Spanish people were accustomed to hardship, suspicious of foreigners, and constantly involved in skirmishes with security forces.

The French failed to analyze the history, culture, and motivations of the Spanish people, or to seriously consider their potential to support or hinder the achievement of French political objectives.

Napoleon's cultural miscalculation resulted in a protracted struggle.

The Spanish resistance drained the Empire's resources and was the beginning of the end of Napoleon's reign."

Now, does this scenario sound familiar?? Could it be that Bushpolean has met his Waterloo?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cheney Visit Cost Taxpayers $4,500

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The tab from Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Boise is in and city taxpayers shelled out 4,500 dollars for police expenses related to his trip.

Though the visit was only a few hours from the time the Vice President touched down at Gowen Field until Air Force Two took off, Boise Police racked up 92 hours of overtime, what with the massages and pedicures that The Rifleman required.

Cheney was in town to stump for Republican first congressional district candidate Bill Sali and let the taxpayers foot the bill in this frontier town. In fact, he came full dressed in his frontier duds.

The first thing he did was to ask the attending syncophantic reporters if there were any shooting ranges he could visit, as he was keeping in fighting shape in case his country called him to defend his country from Ben Laden in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He brought his friend, little "W" to carry wood and polish his boots. Then, he left for Cincinnati Thursday to help fill Congressman Steve Chabot's campaign coffers.

The vice president will attend a private fundraiser there. He said that since Cinncinnati was a civilized town, and had a real public library, he would shave and put on real pants for the party.

Attendees will pay $1,000 per person or $1,500 per couple and it costs $2,100 to attend the reception and get a picture with Vice President Cheney. Gee, I wish I had that kind of money.

But I sure wouldn't spend it getting my picture taken with Cheney. Already have a picture of me and Bush that I keep face-down and hidden in the closet from his days as Governor.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stop the Femicide in Juarez!!

Since 1993, almost 400 women and girls have been murdered and somewhere between 70-4,500 remain missing in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico. I have been following the murders of these women for almost 10 years. Ciudad Juarez, an industrial border town next to El Paso has a population of around 2 million. I've traveled to El Paso and Juarez several times to speak at Border Conferences, once in 1998 and again in 2004.

While in Juarez, I met a woman named Esther Chavez who was trying to raise money to start the first rape crisis center in Juarez to help victims of violence. She was barely 5 feet tall and in her sixties. Esther heard the growing community alarm over the murders of over 200 women as well as the violence against Mexican women in general and decided to do something about it. She spoke out and brought global attention the problem of violence against women in Mexico.

Esther and her group of mostly women often walked the desert, looking for new bodies or remains of the dead, because the police either could not or would not do their jobs. Many of the uneducated young women were so poorly paid at the Maquilas (border factories) that the only place they had to stay was in the desert shantytowns, cardboard and wire homes with no water, sewage or electricity. Their buses dropped them off in the middle of the night on a lonely desert road. Sometimes the killers waited for them to get off the buses, sometimes they disappeared from a city street.

Of these dead and missing, many were killed by pimps, drug dealers, husbands and boyfriends. However, at least a third of the deaths remain unexplained and for a long time police had no suspects. Local authorities have dismissed the killings as a side effect to the city's mushrooming industrial sector, which brings tides of hungry migrant workers to the area desperate for work and money. Others have speculated that since mostly women are hired in the Maquilas, animosity against women by unemployed men has increased.

Most victims are slender, dark-haired girls between 14 and 18 years old who work in one of these factories. Many are killed on their way to and from work. Their bodies have been found - sometimes with their blue factory-issued aprons on -- dumped in the desert or next to the roads leading to the unlit squatter camps ringing the city. In some cases, the victims are mutilated and horribly disfigured. Many are strangled, then stabbed repeatedly. Adding to the homicidal maniacs the local heroin and cocaine distribution networks have made Juarez and its sprawling shantytowns one of the most dangerous places on earth.

While I was at this conference, I walked across the bridge with two other Latina women to Juarez. I noticed graffiti like paintings on telephone poles around the city. Each telephone pole was sprayed with a black figure of a woman or a cross, indicating places where women had disappeared in the city.

It was chilling to ride through Juarez, seeing so many of these posters.

Now there is what the authorities are calling a new break in the case. Edgar Alvarez Cruz, 30, was arrested on immigration violations in Denver and flown to the immigration detention center in El Paso, where he awaits extradition to Mexico sometime next week, officials said. Mexican officials said two other men, not identified, were in custody also.

The three men are accused of being part of a gang whose members raped and killed at least 10 of the women in Juarez, according to statements Thursday by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza. U.S. officials called Alvarez Cruz's arrest a "major break" in the cases.

U.S. and Mexican investigators stated that part of the overall investigation focused on drug dealers who reportedly raped and killed women during cocaine parties to celebrate successful smuggling operations.

Now, knowing that these men allegedly killed 10 of these many dead and missing women, who killed the rest? Why is this being touted as the big break in the case?

And why does this not make the news in the way that the murder of one small white girl does?

I tried to watch the news yesterday evening and all 4 major channels had talking heads speculating about the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey. Not that her death was not also horrifying, but let's give equal time to the other faceless, nameless women who are not white and have died under equally cruel circumstances. Why after 10 years, is this all we can come up with in terms of finding these murderers?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Safe Sex as a Fashion Statement

Condoms are in the news!!!

TORONTO (Reuters) - Condoms were very much in style as a fashion accessory at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, showing up on strait-laced men, shy teenagers and African grandmothers.

"There's a great need to de-stigmatize condoms around the world, especially in Africa," said Franck DeRose, executive director of The Condom Project, which aims to get people comfortable about condoms, especially those living in countries where the little piece of latex is considered taboo.

To do that, the project has a program that gets people making their own condom art pin. It all starts with a craft table, packaged condoms, scraps of colored paper, candy and other double-sided tape.

DeRose said that creating wearable art out of condoms attracts people who normally wouldn't wear the prophylactics, let alone touch them or even utter the word.

"It opens the door," said DeRose. "We find that we're very, very successful."

Almost 400,000 condoms have been decorated and turned into brooches or pins around the world including India, Thailand, Senegal and Burkina Faso, he said.

Just this week alone, about 30,000 of the pins have been decorated at the conference, DeRose said.

People from different cultures and backgrounds wear them, trade them and even argue over safe-sex related topics while making them, including when to broach the subject with kids, DeRose said.

"We're not pushing it on people. They come to us and the information is there," said DeRose, adding his group teams up with the local information groups in the communities where his team visits.

"I don't think it's healthy or appropriate to change a culture. But we can change the risky behavior within a community."

DeRose, an artist from Washington, D.C., came up with the idea three years ago while talking about ways to get more people to wear condoms to fight the HIV epidemic. The program has since spread around the world.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Glenda's Garden

I was out watering the zinnias late yesterday afternoon and noticed that there were 4 or 5 monarch butterflies, a hummingbird and numerous bees buzzing around in the garden,

If it hadn't been 103 degrees, I'm sure I would have appreciated that idyllic scene even more. There is also a honeybee in the purple ruellia, which proliferates somewhat like bamboo.

Many of the monarchs pass through Texas on their way to winter over in Mexico, where they can be seen lounging on the beaches with tiny sombreros.

You see, the problem is not getting into Mexico, but getting back out, as the border will be heavily guarded by the nonmonarchistas who claim that these butterflies are taking work away from American butterflies.

But you and I know that all butterflies work hard in this country no matter where they come from and the real ones profiting are the corporations, whom no one really likes to talk about.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Apple admits excessive iPod hours

File under, Hey, I love my Mac and my iPod as much as the next person, but...!

and creates the iCowpod,
boosting the economy
as well as
the sales forecast for Apple Computer!

Think this is farfetched?

Apple admits excessive iPod hours

Apple iPod
The iPod is the world's most popular MP3 player
"Apple Computer has said a report of labour conditions at its iPod plant in China found workers did more than 60 hours a week a third of the time.

Staff making the world's most popular MP3 player also worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time.

Apple said the hours were "excessive" and said its supplier would now be enforcing a "normal" 60-hour week.

The California-based firm said its report found "no evidence of enforced labour" or use of child workers."

OK, does anyone here want to sign up for a "NORMAL" 60 hour work week? Because you know they would do it here if they could. So what is the real problem here?

A report in England's "Mail on Sunday"alleged the plant's workers make roughly the equivalent of $100 per month and often worked 15-hour days, showing photos of dormitories where workers, mostly young women, sleep 100 to a room, and of stark cement buildings from behind high chain-link fences that resemble what we in the West call prisons.

Is the problem that the working conditions are so bad, the hours too long? Is it that Apple allegedly was slow in investigating these claims, perhaps hoping that the furor would die down?

Is the real problem that China and many poor nations have a gross oversupply of non-skilled labour? Lack of education? So when the only choice for poor Chinese women is working in horrid factory conditions or working as a prostitute, what are we to do?

If we boycott the product, does it help these workers? If we all write and demand that Apple and other corporations begin to set better working conditions, does this make a difference?

Will corporations begin to treat workers in poor countries better when their eye is on the stock price and short-term gains? What creates change? Tell me, how do we solve this moral dilemma? What helps poor workers pull themselves up when there is no bootstrap?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jon Benet Ramsy's Killer Caught??

Is it possible? Did they really catch the guy who killed Jon Benet Ramsey?? Hot DAMN!!!

Jon Benet was found, murdered in her family's home in December of 1996. She was just 6 years old. I was working as a therapist at a Rape Crisis Center when the news came out about her murder. I thought, as many did, that it had to be someone in the family or someone who knew the family. It usually is. But not always.

There are serial sex offenders, especially pedophiles who stalk their victims or become obsessed with a certain type of victim. A lot of my friends speculated that when the Ramseys made her into a sterotypical "sex symbol" child, they painted a target on her back. There were even rumors that the Ramseys were protecting her brother, and that he was the killer. No one really knew what to think.

Although I am still in the field, it is at a statewide level. These days I think a lot about prevention. Before we can work on preventing this crime, we need to have a better understanding about why people commit sexual assault.

Please tell me, if you will, your opinion: why do you think a person does this? What makes a person rape another person?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Madame Chiang Kaishek's Kimono

LeftofCenter and Lily asked me to tell this story over at The Blue Republic a while back, and I am reprinting it here for those of you who might wish to read this story.

This is the story of how I came to be in possession of what I believe is Madame Chiang Kaishek's kimono.

My grandmother's younger brother, a rogue and a rascal, was one of the most colorful figures I ever met. We called him Uncle Henri. He was born just after the turn of the last century in New Orleans in the French Quarter, the son of a Frenchman and and Irish mother. When I was a child, he lived all over the world, although he swooped into Texas for holidays and visits.

During World War II, he was a codebreaker and photographer in the Navy because he was gifted with a near perfect memory, one of the better genes that somehow missed me. He could remember the details from a newspaper article he'd read years before and summon up dates and names. The MoMA in San Francisco has a collection of his black and white photographs, as he lived there in his later years.

During WWII, he was on the deck of the Battleship Arizona when it was bombed in Pearl Harbor. Few survived that day. I have Kodachrome slides that he took of the ships and aircraft carriers and navy personnel in Hawaii right before the bombing. Because he was topside that Sunday morning, attending Mass, he survived. He said he helped the priest give Communion to dying soldiers before the ship went down.

He lived in Copenhagen and Italy some years in the 1950s, brokered grain deals between the Pope and Nassar of Egypt, but before that he was in China.

Shortly after the end of World War II, China was engulfed in a full-fledged civil war. It was won in 1949 by the communists, led by Chairman Mao, with the old leader, Chiang Kaishek and the remnants of the Kuomintang fleeing to Taiwan where they were protected from annihilation by a US naval blockade.

This was where my Uncle Henri came in. He was living in China by the end of the war. He worked for IBM, supposedly, but my grandmother said he was really in China as an American spy.

My Uncle Henri told me this part of his story when he was still alive.

He said that when Chiang Kaishek was routed by the Communists, he came to my uncle and asked for help. My uncle went to the American Embassy and somehow obtained a white Cadillac and gave it to Chiang Kaishek for his escape. My uncle said the General was so grateful that he gave him one of his wife's best kimonos.

I showed this kimono to my friend Hong once when she was over for dinner. Hong grew up in China and is an engineer here. She was quite stunned when she saw it. She said it was not a kimono that an "ordinary Chinese person" would have, the workmanship and silk embroidery is too elaborate. She also told me that it is not one that would have been made for mass consumption.

So here is the question...was my uncle telling the truth? Is this really the kimono of Madame Chiang Kaichek?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Keeping Austin Weird

You see, more of the weirdness I live with!

Austin FreakNEWS from the Austin Chronicle:

This was the scene during last week's First Thursday festivities, as neighbors mounted a singing demonstration in front of the South Congress Cafe, protesting the upscale Trudy's spin-off's prolonged refusal to comply with city code centering around an illegally built deck and fence erected atop a city sidewalk – all constructed despite four city stop- work orders.

The city plans to take Trudy's back to court after the business failed to meet the terms of a deferred adjudication agreement made following an initial lawsuit last year. Hard-hat-clad neighbors sang Sixties protest anthems, reworded to decry the eatery's injustices. "We're directing our collective frustration in a creative, South Austin way," said nearby resident Kathie Tovo.
Here's where it got weird.

At about the same time, a handful of fire-and-brimstone evangelicals arrived carrying signs depicting the damned engulfed in the flames of hell, and a dozen or so performers gorily made-up as zombies, advertising a new production, limped past the protest, completely bewildering passers by and creating a freaky scene of Village People meets Rocky Horror Picture Show. "This is so South Congress," someone said.

Just another day in Austin.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tour of Texas, Signs of the Times

In honor of the fact that I have to drive to Dallas today and back tonight, I thought I would post some pictures of (mostly) rural Texas that I have gathered for your amusement, that you might understand better the climate that Bush was raised in and might even give you, perhaps, some small compassion for his mental impairment and emotional underdevelopment.

Cowboy funeral home.

Not a real speed trap, just a picture of one...perhaps the city budget was shy one police car.

Well, I really didn't have to see this!

Sign for the Knox City Golf Club.

Because Bar-B Que is messy.

We are proud that no child is left behind ...Conan the Barbarian, required reading in this school district.

Pralines, yum!

Almost a palace by Texas standards, entrance through the mouth of the shark.

There's a limo ride in your future at Budget Casket, because burying your loved ones is just too damned expensive!

Truth in advertising in Kyle Texas, just south of Austin.

Perhaps if the troops just drank more of this, they wouldn't have war fatigue.

Get in the swing, seriously.

Mosaic bug. This one's for Mary.

Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear...this is actually a bar in the middle of nowhere.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Ususally there is a gun shop inside as well.

This truck is actually the sign for Little Joe's baithouse.

You also can tell that Texans do love their flag motifs. The flag has the ability to show up on just about anything.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Dog Blogging

When my small Boston Terrier gets stressed out (and it was around 105 degrees here yesterday) she sits by the back door and does yoga.

She likes to play with my granddaughter.

Sometimes she thinks she is an art critic.

She can also be quite dramatic, (I call it hystrionic) especially during a thunderstorm, although she is getting better. She has learned to "talk" about her discomfort and has done quite well in her doggie support group.
When she sleeps, you can hear her snoring though 2 closed doors.

She thinks she looks like a famous movie star.