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.