"
True, much of the dated advice ... is now amusingly camp,
but the potential thrill of being single still saturates each page.
"

 

Please note that these are my 2002-2004 entries.
The current active blog is here


To Dance beneath the Diamond Sky with one hand waving Free
This entry will always be at the top of this Journal - the new entries will always start right below this entry.
Click here to skip over this entry

I think it is so important that all new readers see and read this entry. Tell other people.

Your cats should always have several ways to get out of your house and be safe in your backyard until you can get to them. Just in case something bad happens (like a fire) and you are not there. And now there is a way to make this possible!

This entry is also for people who do not want other people's cats in their yard. Take some responsibility yourself. You may have more money than the offender. You can build a fence rather than starting a war with your neighbors. Read On.......

My cats are safe outside at last!

Most people know what horror I and my cats have suffered since 9/11/2000, when neighbors shot my 5 month old kittens for target practice and never stopped killing them after that.

If you're interested in the details, click here - or you can also click "Higher Consciousness" on the green Index way at the bottom of this page or on my home page graphic.

I moved away from that house and that city when the legal system refused to protect me and instead persecuted me, saying I was just as bad as the animal abusers because I, like everyone else in that city of 4,000 people, let my cats go outside. I, however, had the misfortune to live next door to Mr. and Mrs. Satan from Hell.

Get this people - the victim of animal abuse is not as bad as the abusers. She did not "ask for it". You condone and excuse animal abuse when you have that attitude. You blame the victim and excuse the abuser. No one is responsible for animal abuse but the abuser. And believe me, they enjoy it and are always looking for an excuse to do it. Don't help them excuse their cruelty.

Cats have a right and a need to be outside in nature and nothing they do gives anyone the right to hurt them. They need the herbs, they need the exercise, they need the experience, and they need the healing power of nature just as we do. The house is just a big cage unless you really turn it into a jungle jim with a lot of eatable cat greens, open windows and fresh water.

NOW THERE IS A WAY TO HAVE IT ALL - THE CATS CAN GO OUTSIDE AND THEY CAN BE SAFE TOO!

I am writing today to announce that, on a six foot wooden fence, the Cat Fence-In System really does work. It can also be put on a chain link fence. I linked to the Cat Fence-In website below and copied some language from their site at the end of this entry.


THE BASE FENCE

Well you have to put the cat fence-in system on a fence. So you have to fence your yard. A six foot fence is best, wood or chain. I found out a lot of things when I had mine built. Here is some information you might find useful.

The thing I would tell you about having the base fence built, is to tell the builder to place the fence right on the ground. If you do not give specific instructions, they will leave a few inches space and the cats will escape under the fence.

You can ask them to dig a trench (there is a machine, a trencher, that will do this). Order a fence one-half foot larger than your city's regulations allow, and have the installers place the extra inches in the trench.

However some people say there are problems with trenching. The ground freezing causes fence buckling when part of the fence is underground; other people say this is nonsense. I have no idea.

I had the fence set as close to the ground as possible and then I placed 4x4's along the bottom of it. Perfect! No one even tries to dig out. I did notice the boards seem father apart than when they first came and Lemke said that was because the wood was wetter when it came and as it dried there was some shrinkage. But it is not significant enough shrinkage to allow a cat to escape.

Be sure that the gates are also hung as low as possible.

Be sure the last fence post is placed as close to the house as possible. In accord with the no gap rule, avoid a large gap between the house and first fence post. The post closest to the house should be braced toward the house so it doesn't start leaning away from the house as the concrete dries.

Avoid Wet Wood - Lumber for base fence should be held for at least a month before it is used.

Have them deliver the lumber and let it sit in the garage a month or two before it is used unless they will guarantee that it will not shrink after installation, causing it to have wide spaces between each board.

If the wood is not dry when installed, when the shrinking of the base fence's wood is finished, there may be a gap between the gate and the fence post to which the gate is attached. A gap large enough for a cat to squeeze through. Best to get some guaranteed that the wood has set around long enough to have dried sufficiently so that the subsequent shrinkage is minimal.


THE CAT FENCE-IN SYSTEM

Cats, who are small lions, need exercise; the mental stimulation of the outdoors; the pleasure of eating catnip and cat grasses; rolling in the dust and sleeping in the sun. All animals including cats have a right to the pleasure and comfort of nature.

But it is simply not safe to let them roam. Remember the group of boys who barbecued a live kitten on an outdoor grill at a party. And remember the Wisconsin tavern party where they tortured a kitten to death for fun and bragged about it later. The jerks own the world and the legal system spits all over victims.

The latest story I read, was a pet store worker stomping a kitten to death in front of children waiting to buy her. He said she bit him, just like the Wisconsin DNR supervisor said, when he clubbed a cat to death with a pipe. Neither of these jerks did any time or was even fined.

But Of Course, if you live in a huge city and do not have a yard; or if you live paycheck to paycheck as so many of us do; a loving indoor cat home is far better than the alternatives for cats.

But now, if you can build a fence, cats can be given the freedom of a back yard.

Of course,you will have cat doors on the first floor hopefully in several places; (a window and a door to the back yard). You will NOT have problems with other animals coming in your house because you will have the cat fence to keep them out of the yard.

Dr. Patricia McConnell who has a radio program Calling All Pets has mentioned on the air that there are tubes that can be attached to the second floor windows of a house which lead to a tree in the yard.

McConnell is a zoologist at UW-Madison and an animal trainer who specializes in non-aversive problem solving. She raises and trains border collies.

Then Marc Morrone did Martha Stewarts TV show on these tubes and he said the tubes are called Kittywalks and you can see them at www.midnight-pass.com

I recommend professional installers unless you can actually see the system installed somewhere before you attempt to do it yourself. The trickiest places are the gates and where the fence attaches to the house. There must be no gaps.

Lemke Fence of Wisconsin, 1-800-242-2009, installed my Cat Fence-In system on the 6 foot wooden fence they built for me. They work all over Wisconsin. I tell you this because most fence companies I called had no experience doing cat fences, and didn't want to try.

"Put it up yourself after we build the base fence", they said. Yeah right, if I could do that I would just build the whole damn thing myself.

Lemke had knowledge of the Cat Fence-In system; ordered the system from Cat Fence-In; and agreed to install it. They did warn me that it would be the first time for them.

I feel it would be better if the fence owner finds the Cat Fence-In website; orders what they need and have it delivered to their home. Then hire the installers.

The boss and president of the Lemke Fence company, Dave, was an OK guy to work with and was committed to getting it right. He came out to view the job after it was done. It was the first time they ever installed the cat fence system. They did not get it right the first time but they came back and kept trying until they did it right. Now they have the experience. But they did not get the gates right and they substituted their own fasteners for the twists sent by cat fence-in. The directions state the net must be tied to the bracket a special way.

I have no stock or any financial interest in either company, not Cat Fence-In or Lemke. My interest is in getting cat owners to see that their cats have a right to the outdoors and the grass and trees.


Below are some of the problems Lemke Fence and I encountered when trying to install the cat fence in system. Read and remember.

WHICH SYSTEM TO CHOOSE

The producers of the cat fence-in system say the system should be placed at least five feet from the ground but I found that to be misleading. The system should be placed as close to the top of a six foot fence as possible.

They seem to say that the "stand up combination barrier" should be used to keep unwanted animals out of your yard and the "hang down barrier" should be used to keep your cats in. No No No!

Take my word, I learned the hard way. NEVER, never, use the hang down barrier - it is really for 12 foot fences or attached to the gutters along low roof lines.

ALWAYS buy the stand up system, called the COMBINATION BARRIER KIT that the creator states is to keep unwanted cats out of your yard. But read carefully. He is actually saying, the combination barrier works great to keep them in too.

So, no matter if you want to keep the cats out; keep the cats in; or both; use the Combination Barrier Kit and System.

The only place I would use the hang down Strato Barrier is a roof that comes down low to the ground. Mine is only 9 feet from the ground and Wander Cat is giving it the serious looks. The gutters have nails holes every two feet so the strato barrier could be easily attached.

TREE GUARDS

My cats used to go up the tree branches and leap onto the roof from them.

Then, they would trot over the roof to the other side of the house like a little pride of lions.
Then, they'd drop from the roof into the FRONT yard, where there is no stinking fence.

I have very resourceful and intelligent cats. They can jump 8 feet from a sitting position.

So I learned that unless all tree limbs are over 12 feet from roofs, you must use the tree guards provided by the Cat Fence-In System.

At first, I had a tree-trimming service come and cut the branches back, although I never thought I would ever cut a tree. I don't like to cut branches and make them look unnatural, but the reason I want the cats outside is to exercise vigorously. I want them to be able to climb the trees. So I cut the tree branches back rather than use the tree guards.

Once I installed the Combination Barrier Cat Fence-In System, and cut the branches back far from MY roof, only one cat seriously tried to get out of the yard and that is Dreamer. The rest became content to stay in the backyard and seem to enjoy it with no desire to leave until Dreamer found a way.

Dreamer started to leap from a tree limb higher on the tree to a NEIGHBOR'S roof (10 to 12 feet). None of the other cats could bring themselves to try it.

I doubt if you have a cat like Dreamer.

(It's a bird, it's a plane, it's WANDER-CAT)

And the thing is, after he jumped down from the neighbor's roof, he waited right there for me to come and get him and bring him back into my yard. My crazy boy, Beautiful Dreamer.

Go to my home page called Spiraling Cycle or to the green Index at the bottom of this page - click on the May Day Holiday, and it will open to a picture of the feral Luna and her babies. Luna had allowed a human (me) to touch her for the first time only about five weeks before that picture was taken. I touched her for the first time, the night she had the babies, April 19th, 2000. Dreamer is the gray tabby baby and you will have trouble finding him. This turned out to be the story of his life.

I finally had the tree guards installed. It seems no matter how far he has to jump, Dreamer will jump. Perhaps secretly he flies. I had them install the tree guard as high up as possible before the branches start. This way the cats can get some exercise running up and down the trunk.

Boy - that tree guard was hard to install. None of us could figure it out. The guys spent over an hour trying to make it work in the heat and flies. Then one of installers threw the directions on the ground and installed it by his own common sense. It works perfectly.

Dreamer understands he cannot get over the tree guard. I do think he believes if he just thinks about it reeeal hard, he will figure a way to get to the great, wild, out-side-the-fence.

Now, after almost five months, he seems to think about it less than he did at first. But I did make him a jungle jim out of branches and tree trunks that he leaps around on. It is in the middle of the yard, far away from the fence and the roofs and the tree. Go for it Wander Cat! Sometimes he sits for hours on his highest jungle jim branch and just stares at the tree. But he has failed so many times, he is embarrassed to try again.

**********************THE DREADED GATE AREA************************

The other thing to be careful of when installing this system, is The Gate area. The treatment around The Gates is important because there is a gap between the gate and the fence. The gap opens as the gate opens; at the opening (O) and at the hinges(H). Kevin realized that the gate bracket and fence post bracket must be level with one another. If your gate opens outward they probably will not be level. Kevin fastened thick wood squares to the gate and attached the bracket to the gate's wood square. That way the bracket on the fence post and the bracket on the gate were level. That and the overlapping mesh eliminated any gap in the netting barrier where the fence and gate meet.

I would also attach a bracket on the actual house and attach netting from that bracket to the first fence post eliminating any gap between the house and the fence.

It is necessary on the last fence post to leave about 3 inches of net overlapping at the hinge opening and from the fence post about 3 inches of net overlapping at the gate opening. we also used hairpin or H clips to hold the brackets together as an extra precaution.

I will have to remember to take the hairpin clips off when opening the gate every time. What a hassle. My second installer didn't want to overlap the net so he gave me this hassle and the net got ripped when his stupid boss opened the gate from the outside ripping off these clips. These clips are really unnecessary. Use overlapping nets. If the gate and fence post to which it attaches are not level, fasten the gate bracket on a raised wood square to make the fence-post bracket and gate bracket level with one another.

UPDATE***************UPDATE**********************UPDATE*****************

Buy the Gate Hardware Kits for the Combination Barrier System ($30.00 each). I could not figure out why the gate kits were any different than the regular brackets, but my new installer, Kevin, saw at once that the left bracket had the loops for screws going one way and the right bracket had the loops going the other way so that the brackets fit together tightly preventing gate gaps.


USE SNOW RELEASE CLIPS FOR NET TO BRACKET ATTACHMENT

AND IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA WHERE IT SNOWS BE SURE TO BUY THE SNOW RELEASE ATTACHMENT CLIPS and use them.

The second installer insisted on using the twist ties not the snow release clips. Now I am watching the backyard brackets being pulled down and destroyed because of the heavy snow weighing down the nets. These goddamn men who think they know everything and leave you with their mess to clean up long after their gone and who will not follow directions should not be paid until they do what they are told to do or you will regret every dime you give them.

MORE STUPID MAN TRICKS

It is up to the installers to make sure there are no gaps in the Cat Fence-IN system. The first time my installers tried to install the system, my Lemke Fence installers left gaps when they went around the posts.

They did not take the anchoring strip right up to the edge of the posts and screw the anchor strip down right next to the post; then screw the anchoring strip to the side of the post, and screw down as they went around the post, (side, front, side). Then screw the strip down when the fence boards start again right next to the post.

No, they screwed the strip about 3 inches from the posts; went over the posts; and screwed it down again two or three inches from the post. Of course, this left gaps in the corners where the post and the fence met.

And the cats found those gaps.

They did the same thing when the edge of the north/south fence panels met the fence panels going east and west. They did not keep the anchoring strip's E/W screw close to the N/S screw creating a gap in the corner.

Don't feel superior. You will do stuff like this if you try to install it yourself. It is only after you actually see the system up, that you understand how it works and how to maintain it.

I recommend watching the cats the first week. Take some vacation time. When Lemke first put the system up, they used the strato barrier and the cats got out. Then, the gates were not done properly, the posts had gaps, and the cats got out.

You need to watch the cats the first week. If anything is wrong you want to catch it. You need to spy on the cats when they think they are alone before you relax. Just be thankful you don't have Mr. and Mrs. Satan from Hell living next door during this process.

You should know that after the tree guard came, all my cats gave up trying to escape pretty quickly. But the best use of the cat fence happened because other cats are always trying to break in and that cat fence keeps them out.

The intruder cats perch on top of the wooden fence but then cannot figure out how to make it over the top of the cat fence-in netting. There would be big fights if they got in.

I can tell by the way they scream and curse at each other across the netting. A lot of "your mammas". So another good reason to get the cat fence is to keep unwanted cats out of your yard

BASE FENCE AND THE CAT SYSTEM ARE NOT CHEAP SO YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT THE INSTALLERS TO FOLLOW DIRECTIONS

CAT DOORS

There will be the additional cost of the cat doors. Get 4 way lock magnetic ones - do not get those that make you put electric collars on the cats - forget electric anything as far as animals are concerned! They have cheaper pet doors you can put in your window but I would have to put a table out side or the cat could not come back in.

BASE FENCE:

For 102 feet of pressure treated lumber, at $20.00 a foot, (plus 2 gates and locks, posts and cement, and installation), the cost to me was $2,040.00.

CAT FENCE IN SYSTEM IS INEXPENSIVE - INSTALLATION IS EXPENSIVE

The Cat Fence-IN system (net with anchor strip, bracket holders, screws, net fasteners,= $1.50 a foot; the gate kits = $30.00) is not expensive but Lemke charged a lot to install it (about $700.00). I agreed in order to give them and me the experience.

Total Costs for; the base fence, the cat fence-in system WITH INSTALLATION came to approximately $2,800.00. The unnecessary tree trimming was an additional $350.00.

This cost was for a small backyard.


And to me, it is worth every penny!

Those people who are comfortable financially really should build cat fences so that the property, when you sell it, will ever after be safe for cats. You will be doing a good thing that will last long after you are gone. Put a metal fence plate telling future owners where to get replacement parts.

The peace of mind, the freedom from terror, the obvious pleasure of the cats as they eat the grass and herbs (helping their digestion and eliminating hairballs by throwing up); watching them roll in the dust, try to catch the bugs, hop on and off the trees, watching them hide and jump out at one another and sleep in the sun; bring me my greatest pleasure in life.

The cats are so much more active outside than they are in the house.

Now I have the pleasure of working in the garden with my cats lounging next to me again, and being outside at night in the dark watching the silver crescent moon and the stars, giggling together in the strobe light dark. The light is strobed because the yard is filled with hundreds of fireflies and their lights are going on and off. While the cats jump up and swat at fireflies, I hold their flashing bodies in my cupped hands. When I open my hands, they don't fly away but sit calmly on my fingers a while.

We are losing the weight we gained when we were confined to the house in Dodgeville, not able to step a foot out the door, even Talker, the billion pound cat, who enjoys watching television very much.

Even Dreamer, crazy Dreamer, the traumatized, who was there when Magic was killed, and who was hunted by the killers, has become semi-normal. He has started to be with the pride, tries wrestling with them, licks back a little when his surviving brothers groom him.

The way the brothers have always cared for Dreamer, no matter how unresponsive he was, laying catatonic under their tongues, it touches me and reminds me of how they cared for the dying Sparky as if they could lick away the pain.

Dreamer is losing his stricken look. He, who, after Magic was killed, never would come near me unless it was to try to sit on my shoulders the way Magic did, and never would sleep with the other cats, now sleeps next to me. Sometimes he stands on his two back legs holding up his front legs with paws on me, obviously wanting to be picked up. When I pick him up he lays horizontal across my chest and wraps his paws around one of my shoulders looking up at me. Yes, we are growing happy again.

NOTE: 6 months later - Dreamer does not want to leave the yard anymore - will not leave even if given the opportunity. He learned to like being safe in his own outside territory.

Now there is just Gaia, the golden one, whose hip was dislocated when I found him at the back of my property. Who frequently goes to a place where he is alone, like the basement, and paces back and forth crying loudly.

I am going to hold him as much as I can, when he does that.

I feel that is what he needs. I have been letting Thea take care of him, but now I am going to just find him, pick him up, hold him and talk to him when he does that.

NOTE: And it was a very good thing to make that decision, to have enough peace to be able to focus on Gaia and make that decision. Golden Gaia had colitis, which can kill. If you want to read about it, Click the "Table of Contents" under this entry and find an entry called Gaia. Click on that title.

Here is the link to the cat fence system:

Since 1990 throughout the United States and Canada, CAT FENCE-IN is still keeping thousands of cats safe in their yards.Cat sanctuaries use the CAT FENCE-IN system.

Animal behaviorists recommend CAT FENCE-IN to their clients. It relieves indoor stress, boredom, and depression. It also stops arbitrary in-house elimination problems. Cats are by nature, outdoor animals.

Comments for above entry

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Monday, December 27, 2004 Monday, December 27, 2004
Speak and Remove All Doubt
This is from "Remove All Doubt", another law blog.

"Right Wing News" has put together Hanson's Best Quotes of 2004. Read it all, but here is my favorite:

"The Palestinians will, in fact, get their de facto state, though one that may be now cut off entirely from Israeli commerce and cultural intercourse. This is an apparently terrifying thought: Palestinian men can no longer blow up Jews on Monday, seek dialysis from them on Tuesday, get an Israeli paycheck on Wednesday, demonstrate to CNN cameras about the injustice of it all on Thursday — and then go back to tunneling under Gaza and three-hour, all-male, conspiracy-mongering sessions in coffee-houses on Friday. Beware of getting what you bomb for."


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Sunday, December 26, 2004 Sunday, December 26, 2004
Child Slaves - Don't Talk To Me About The Rights Of the PREborn Fetus - Do Something About This First
In the heart of Ethiopia, child marriage takes a brutal toll BY PAUL SALOPEK Chicago Tribune THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS OF ETHIOPIA - (KRT) - Tihun Nebiyu the goat herder doesn't want to marry. She is adamant about this. But in her village nobody heeds the opinions of headstrong little girls. That's why she's kneeling in the filigreed shade of her favorite thorn tree, dropping beetles down her dress. Magic beetles. "When they bite you here - " Tihun explains gravely, pressing the scrabbling insects into her chest through the fabric of her tattered smock " - it makes your breasts grow." This is Tihun's own wishful brand of sorcery - a child's desperate measure to turn herself into an adult. Then maybe, just maybe, her family would respect her wishes not to wed. She could rebuff the strange man her papa has chosen to be her husband. And she wouldn't have to bear his dumb babies. Tihun kneels in the dirt, eyes closed: an elfin figure whose smile is made goofily endearing by two missing front teeth. She holds her small hands over her nipples. She is waiting for the bugs' enchantment to start. Seconds pass. But nothing happens. Eventually, she starts to giggle. The beetles have escaped - by crawling up her neck. "It doesn't work!" Tihun says, disgusted. She heaves an exaggerated sigh and squints out across the yellow-grass hills surrounding her world: "I will just have to run." But this is childish bluster. Tihun's short legs can't carry her away fast enough from the death of her childhood. Her wedding is five days away. And she is 7 years old. --- There are, according to child-rights activists, an estimated 50 million Tihuns scattered across the world: young teen or even preteen girls whose innocence is being sacrificed to arranged marriages, often with older men. Coerced by family and culture into lives of servility and isolation, and scarred by the trauma of too-early pregnancy, child brides represent a vast, lost generation of children. While humanitarian campaigns have focused global attention on childhood AIDS in Africa, female genital mutilation and child labor, one of the underlying sources of all these woes remains largely ignored. Child marriage, an ancient, entrenched practice long hidden in shadow, was only denounced by the United Nations as a serious human-rights violation in 2001. "This is a big, tough, complicated issue," concedes Abebe Kebede, a leading Ethiopian social worker. "It hasn't been highlighted that much because marriage is viewed positively in almost every culture," Kebede says. "Who wants to tackle that? Never mind that the consequences for kids - and whole nations - are pretty disastrous." The most brutal toll is medical: Early pregnancies are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 in the developing world, according to the United Nations. And medical relief groups believe that at least 2 million women worldwide are living with gruesome vaginal and anal ruptures, called fistulas, that result from bearing children much too young. Untreated fistulas can be fatal, and survivors are usually left incontinent for life. But child marriage ruins lives in other ways too. Often treated like indentured servants, young brides are subject to beatings by their grown husbands and in-laws. And thousands of girls end up trapped in the sex trade, whether through organized child bride trafficking rings in countries such as China or, in Africa, by simply drifting from abusive marriages into street prostitution, social workers say. The most far-reaching injustice of child marriage by far, however, is probably its most subtle: It pries millions of young girls out of school. Confined to their husbands' homes, and cheated of the benefits of education, legions of demoralized children worldwide are condemned to lives of ignorance and dire poverty from which they rarely escape, and which they endure with numbed desperation. "That's the most heartbreaking thing about this issue," says Micol Zarb, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Population Fund, or UNFPA, which monitors global reproductive health. "All the misery and pain is occurring in silence. These are just kids. They don't speak out. We never hear from them." According to the UNFPA, at least 49 countries in the world, roughly a quarter of all nations, face a significant child bride problem - that is, at least 15 percent of their girls marry younger than age 18, the widely recognized threshold of adulthood. Not surprisingly, the epicenters of child wedlock are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where cementing clan ties through marriage, a preoccupation with bridal virginity and fear of contracting AIDS are strongest. Ethiopia is one such hot spot. Its government, pressured by aid organizations, has started prohibiting early marriages. Yet the tradition is hard to stamp out. Among Ethiopia's rural Amhara people - a culture of warrior-farmers in which a staggering 82 percent of all brides are underage - the drumming and tribal dancing that enliven child weddings can still be heard echoing through the mountain nights. Only it is a bit muffled these days: The grooms and their tiny, bewildered brides - cocooned in white cloth - simply have moved their nuptials indoors. This is the story of just one child bride, Tihun, the whimsical goatherd. Born into the Amhara ethnic group, she sings nonsense songs in breathy Amharic in a remote valley filled with plowed fields and blackbirds, high in the rugged Horn of Africa. And in the last childhood summer of her life, she still believed in the liberating power of magic. --- Tihun's world is gorgeous and cruel. It is the golden month of May. With its straw-colored hills, toga-draped shepherds and loaf-like volcanic buttes jutting to 7,000 feet, the remote homeland of some 16 million Amharas looks like a landscape straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien's fable "The Hobbit" - the ethereal Africa of dreams. But conversations with the shy children in the region reveal a disconcerting fact: Virtually every little girl in sight - whether carrying a bundle of firewood or racing across lumpy fields - is already spoken for. The 11-year-old buying sweets at a village market is somebody's wife. Two girls playing an elaborate Ethiopian version of hopscotch in the dust are soon to be brides. And a scrawny 5th grader skipping home from school is already divorced. Divorce, though frowned upon, can occur when families feud. Amharaland has the highest child marriage rates in the world, according to U.N. and Ethiopian statistics; in some dusty corners of the ancient highlands, almost 90 percent of the local girls are married before age 15. The forces behind this startling demographic are at work in all child bride cultures - just taken to extremes in the heart of Ethiopia. Local poverty is wrenching. Barefoot children sprint after passing cars to beg for garbage - especially the disposable water bottles tossed out by foreign aid workers, which are coveted over the villagers' heavy clay jugs. The highland rains are erratic. Famine haunts the cooking fires. And because daughters rarely inherit fertile lands, keeping them at home and feeding them are considered a folly. Better to marry them off quickly, the logic of survival goes, to strengthen family alliances for the lean times. The Amharas' demands for bridal virginity, meanwhile, can be fanatical. Anxious parents push their daughters into wedlock years before puberty because they fear the onset of menstruation may be mistaken for the taboo of premarital sex. And the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church has long played a role in early matchmaking. Church teachings traditionally encouraged marriage before age 15, declaring that this was the age of the Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Conception of Christ. "During these times we have started to advocate against that idea," says Simia Kone Melak, a bearded priest at one of the hundreds of rock-walled monasteries dotting Amhara country. "The government has told us that child marriage is wrong. So we are telling families to wait." Yet priests continue to bless early marriages. And the new message butts up against centuries of younger-is-better belief. "In truth, if a girl reaches 13, she is already too old to be married," declares Nebiyu Melese, 54, Tihun's wiry farmer father. "I know some people say this is uncivilized. But they don't live here. So how can they judge?" Tough, opinionated Melese, his sad-eyed wife, Beyenech Alem, 45, and their seven children are traditional Amharas in many ways. They plant millet and corn, and sleep next to their goats in a mud-walled house infested with ticks and fleas. But just as families vary in American suburbia, so they do in African villages. Tihun was born into a gruff, noisy household - the clan's squabbles reverberate across fields 50 yards away. A pious and conservative patriarch, Melese disdains schooling for his girls and brooks no resistance to early marriage. To save on wedding expenses, he has shrewdly arranged to marry off four of his children on the same day. Tihun and her more worldly big sister Dinke, 10, will be carted away on horses by strangers who are their husbands. And two teenage sons will bring home 10-year-old brides. For Tihun, Melese has scored a minor coup: a deacon in the Orthodox Church. "He has a good lemon orchard," Melese says approvingly. It never occurs to the stern old man to consult his youngest daughter on these decisions. Unless issuing orders, he never speaks to her at all. This isn't coldheartedness. It is a form of emotional self-preservation on the harsher edges of the world - a place where one out of five children die before reaching the age of 5. --- Tihun is sulking. It is three days before her wedding. She sits with her legs akimbo under the thorn tree, passing time with her 6-year-old pal Mulusaw. Two bony girls in rag dresses. They play an Amhara version of jacks - tossing and catching small pebbles. "I would rather be eaten by a hyena than marry that person," Tihun complains of her unknown fiance. "Nobody ever listens to me!" Today she has given up on magic as her means of salvation. As the wedding ceremony approaches, she grows withdrawn. She whispers sullenly that she might be better off dead. Mulusaw nods in sympathy. She will be betrothed next year. But to a 6-year-old, that is an eternity away. Soon Tihun and Mulusaw are laughing - wrestling in the packed dust. Tihun forgets about her future. She forgets to keep an eye on her goats. The bucktoothed animals invade the family's potato patch. And furious shouts erupt from the farmhouse. "Tihun is careless," says Mintiwab, 22, Tihun's eldest sister, who was abandoned by her husband and lives at home. "She is always in trouble." And it's true. Tihun is an incompetent farm laborer. Easily bored, prone to daydreaming, she is distracted by odd-shaped rocks in the fields, slow-moving insects and the flocks of pied crows racing like pepper grains across the sunlit sky. Her marauding animals ravage many potato seedlings. Later, Mintiwab beats Tihun with a switch. Arms and bare feet pumping, the little girl runs off screeching into the fields, her face contorted more by surprise than pain - as if somehow tricked by life again. --- One of Tihun's secret diversions is watching village children walk home from school. She nudges her unruly goats to a hilltop overlooking the Chinese-built road where they come trudging - platoons of boys and girls in patched clothes. Tihun gapes at them in awe. Her head cocked sideways on her scrawny neck. Blinking in silence. Does she want to attend school? Of course. Why? She cannot say. School is something mysterious. Exotic. Students are elite beings. They have special possessions - a tattered government workbook. (They share old pencil stubs.) But her papa has allowed only one older brother to enroll. And Tihun must fill his job as a herder. In Ethiopia, education is mandatory for both sexes until the 6th grade. But in Tihun's remote valley, many families keep their girls at home through their school-age years to tap their farm labor. Parents also fear for their daughters' virginity at the mud-and-wattle schoolhouse 3 miles away. Child-rights workers worldwide agree that education is the single most important key unlocking the prison of child marriage. Essential for enhancing a girl's income potential - and for broadening her horizons - schoolwork also gives her body time to mature before the rigors of childbirth. "It's the key reason the practice is declining in the places where it's declining," said Kathleen Kurz, an analyst with the non-governmental International Center for Research on Women in Washington. "Convincing parents of the benefits of schooling works far better than just banning child marriage outright." In countries such as India, secondary education has slashed child marriage rates by up to two-thirds. And across the developing world, girls who complete primary school tend to marry four years later and have on average two fewer children, U.N. surveys show. In the smoky villages of rural Ethiopia - some of the least educated communities in the world - the girls who step into crude schoolrooms are revolutionaries in braids. "I only remember my marriage like a dream," says Zigiju Mola, 12, an Amhara 5th grader who was married at 6 but who stubbornly persuaded her parents to continue paying her school fees. "I also give my husband courage to attend school," says Zigiju, a precocious girl with tattooed beauty marks on her cheeks. "He wants to keep an eye on me and not be left behind." Her husband, an embarrassed-looking youth of 18, scrunches behind his 2nd-grade plank desk in the same dirt-floored school. Scores of girls at the school are child brides. "That's exactly why conservative parents distrust education," says Banchalem Addis, one of the handful of women teachers in Amharaland. "Most pupils never want to go back to the farm and be their mother-in-laws' slaves." --- Some 150 miles from Tihun's valley, in a working-class neighborhood of Addis Ababa, the teeming Ethiopian capital, a strange, creaking metal structure towers over the houses: a multistory homeless shelter made from stacked shipping containers. Erected by a local humanitarian project called Godanaw, the shelter has provided skills training and health care to some 1,200 street girls - three-quarters of them escapees from early marriages in the countryside. "I don't ever want to be touched by a man again," says glassy-eyed Alem Siraj, 19, who straggled into the rickety structure with her 5-month-old baby, Nebiyu. Siraj walked out of her arranged marriage in the highlands when she was 14, rode a bus to Addis Ababa, found work as a maid and was raped, she says, by her employer - the father of her son. She was fired when her pregnancy showed, Siraj said. Like tens of thousands of other outcasts from early marriage, she can never go home. But life could get worse. Countless runaways like her end up mired in the sex trade. The northern town of Bahar Dar is just one trap for the vulnerable flotsam of Ethiopia's child marriages. Bars hawking millet beer, or tela, line the dingy streets. After dark, small girls can be seen wiping tables, carrying glasses or lounging by doorways that gush blue light and Ethiopian pop music at cruising cars. At one establishment, a shy, teen bar-girl named Belayinesh describes in a monotone her flight from an arranged marriage and her battered hope "that someone here will help me." "AIDS awaits her," says Teshone Belete, a social worker visiting the bar on his rounds through the back alleys of the city. "She will be dead in five years." The plagues of HIV and child marriage go hand in hand throughout the developing world. Even those young brides not forced into prostitution usually end up with higher-than-average infection rates. Research by the non-profit Population Council shows that because their husbands are older, often sexually experienced and possibly carrying the virus already, child wives are more at risk of AIDS than single girls their age. Tragically, the infection rates of child brides in Africa are pumped even higher by the spreading folk belief that sex with virgin girls can cure AIDS. In Ethiopia, according to the United Nations, 6 out of 10 new HIV cases are found in women and girls younger than 24. Sewareg Debas, 18, is aware of this risk. A striking Amhara bar-girl with long braided hair, she was forced to drop out of the 8th grade for an arranged marriage. As she tells her familiar story inside a parked car, a mob of red-eyed drunks spills out of her employer's saloon. Slurring their words, they jeer her for speaking to strangers. They pound belligerently on the rolled-up car windows. A large crowd of curious onlookers assembles. Debas falls silent. Terrified, she stares mutely into her lap. This happens in the village of Meshenti, on the Chinese road to Tihun's farm. --- Tihun is dazzled. Mintiwab, her older sister, has brought home a fabulous treasure: Tihun's wedding gown. A simple cotton dress patterned with flowers. Tihun can't tear her eyes from it, cannot stop touching it. And there is more. A pair of plastic slippers. A grown-up's woven shawl. Some cheap bangles. Beads and trinkets. Tihun yanks on this magnificent finery and skitters around the family hut. For the first time in her life, the center of attention. A woman in miniature. She marries tomorrow. Yezare amete, yemamushe enate: "By this time next year, the mother of a son." For all Amharas, this wedding song is unambiguous. A girl's highest function is to produce boys - quickly and often. Starting, on average, at age 14, an Amhara girl will give birth every year for 15 years. She will be left with seven surviving children, Ethiopia's national average. Tihun will not be forced to have sex for a couple of years. (This is tacitly agreed upon by the two families.) But when the time comes - usually no later than age 12 - her jubilant husband will carry a bloodstained sheet like a pennant to her parents. For millions of other child brides, initiations into sex can be even more traumatic. Among the minority Gurage people of Ethiopia, pubescent brides are typically "softened up" with natural purgatives and fasting, and their fingernails are clipped. On the night of the wedding, the groom forces himself on his weakened wife. She is expected to resist. Cheers erupt outside the nuptial hut when news of the consummation reaches the wedding guests. On extremely rare occasions, the children meet violence with violence. Among the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, for example, there is the notorious practice of "marriage by abduction." In this case, there is no consent whatever: A groom secures a bride by kidnapping and raping a girl he fancies. Her robbed virginity becomes the basis of marriage. This tribal custom made headlines in Ethiopia when a 14-year-old schoolgirl shot dead her rapist and would-be husband with an AK-47 assault rifle. She was acquitted of murder, to the astonishment of the conservative public. A women's rights group in the country called the verdict "a revolution against male culture." Tihun has no inkling of what awaits her. "I won't tell her," whispers Alem, her stooped old mother, who married at 10. "It is our custom that she experience it on her own." Tihun minces about in her plastic slippers all afternoon. The new shoes blister her untamed feet. But she is too giddy to care. And she no longer plans to escape her wedding. --- There is a hospital in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, where you must breathe through your mouth. The reek of feces and urine mixed with disinfectant is dizzying. Footprint-shaped stains of human waste lead from the sunny, white-tiled wards to a secluded garden outside. These are the tracks of the patients - women and girls whose reproductive tissues have been horribly ripped apart by too-early childbirth. Meekly clutching towels about their waists, leaking constantly, they stagger under the trees, sucking in fresh air. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital may look like the darkest dead end of the child bride experience. But in truth, only the lucky come here. For every one of the 1,200 girls who are operated on yearly for fistulas - the term for the ruptures caused by too-big babies' heads blocking too-small pelvises - there are at least 10 others left untreated in the bush. According to the U.N. Population Fund, some 2 million women worldwide suffer the devastating ailment. About 50,000 to 100,000 new cases emerge annually, perhaps 10,000 of them in Ethiopia alone. Thousands of fistula victims die untended in their remote villages. Nobody really knows the number. "These girls are the ultimate pariahs," says Ruth Kennedy, an American midwife who helps manage the charity hospital. "Imagine stinking and staining up things, and drawing flies. Husbands and families disown them. They end up as beggars or hermits." Like many people who grapple with human suffering every day, Kennedy hides her empathy behind a facade of brusque, no-nonsense efficiency. She strides down the hospital's incessantly mopped halls, rattling off practical solutions to the scourge of early pregnancy. Like keeping the pressure on the Orthodox Church to preach more strenuously against child marriage. Or opening all-girls schools to convince skeptical parents that their daughters' virginity will be shielded from male students. Or simply building more roads in the rugged interior to speed pregnant girls to medical care more quickly. She has little time for well-meaning campaigns by outside humanitarian groups. "You know, foreign donors come here and lecture the Ethiopians, `You must protect these poor, oppressed children and stamp out early marriage,'" Kennedy said. "But what about our own 13-year-old daughters in America and Europe who are having sex with multiple partners? We're handing out condoms in schools. So it's pretty hypocritical, isn't it?" Mostly, though, she just tells stories. Such as: "There was this beautiful 16-year-old Afar girl. She suffered terrible, terrible injuries. She had been in labor for four days. The baby died. She squeezed it out as a piece of dead meat." Or: "One girl gave birth to six dead babies in a row. The sixth finally gave her a fistula." Or: "One mother was carried here for 2 1/2 days by her 18-year-old son. He had urine and feces streaming down his back. That is love." --- Tihun hasn't spoken all day. Her husband arrived at midnight, as prescribed by Amhara custom, with an escort of nine best friends. He is Ayalew, an Orthodox Church deacon of 17, handsome, regal, wrapped in a dazzling white robe and sheltered from the sky by a large red umbrella. He barely speaks. "Oh! Miss Tihun," his best man proclaims in a formal wedding address, "you are very lucky! Having a priest to marry, God picked you like Virgin Mary!" Scores of neighbors arrive to join in a feast of sour injera bread and goat meat. Millet beer flows by the barrelful. Dozens of dancers steam up the cramped air inside the family hut. Cow-horn trumpets and skin drums reverberate far into the next starlit night. Melese doesn't care if the government fines him 100 birr, or $12, for breaking Ethiopia's new civil codes, which stipulate a minimum legal marrying age of 18 for girls. Bustling about among the milling guests like an anxious maitre d', he urges them to sing louder. He wants to announce the weddings of his two boys and girls to the world. Tihun has been bathed with a wet rag. Her head has been shaved and she wears her prized dress. Huddled with her sister Dinke in a corner of the cavelike hut, she watches the amazements of her marriage ceremony pinwheel about her. Preternaturally still. Narcotized by sleeplessness - by fasting that, according to tradition, will calm her. Mulusaw, her inseparable friend, lies next to her to provide comfort. With the formal marriage request to old Melese over, there is no further elaborate ritual. The celebration flows. Tihun and her new husband never exchange a word. By dawn the next morning she is gone, carried off to her in-laws' farm on a horse caparisoned with tin bells and red velvet. The groomsmen tote her in their arms from the hut to the saddle; during her wedding, her feet must never touch the ground. "She didn't cry when she left, which is good," Melese says later, bleary-eyed but proud under Tihun's thorn tree. "She really didn't know where she was going." Melese has staggered to the tree to guard the all-important family fields from goats. He waits for one of his unmarried children to relieve him. The dust under the tree still bears Tihun's tiny footprints. And the rocks she used as jacks. Ephemeral reminders of a childhood, they will be blown away in the next windstorm. --- © 2004, Chicago Tribune. Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.



© 2004 KRT Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.thestate.com


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Sunday, December 5, 2004 Sunday, December 5, 2004
French Food Sadism
Foie gras (translated literally from French as "fatty liver") is produced by cruel and inhumane farming practices. At just a few months old, ducks are confined inside dark sheds and force-fed enormous amounts of food several times a day. A farm worker grabs each duck and, one by one, thrusts a metal pipe down their throats as a mechanized pump shoots a mixture of corn directly into their gullets. In just a matter of weeks, the ducks become grossly overweight and their livers expand up to 10 times their normal size.

Read more here........

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Monday, November 29, 2004 Monday, November 29, 2004
Child Savers
In almost every class I had with Professor Margo Melli in law school, she derisively referred to "the ChildSavers" as deluded do gooders. She was ferocious in her advocacy of parental rights over the rights of children to grow without abuse. She would actually snort over the idea of her children daring to sue her. Her contempt for children's rights law influenced a lot of lawyers for she is respected for her knowledge of family law. She was on all the Bar/law school family law committees and chaired most of them. She is an expert. Also. respect is a chicken and egg thing; she and her husband are wealthy and belong to the elite class. I got the help I needed from her so what can I say?

I was reminded of her view of children as property when I heard an NPR interview. The author wrote, "Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood.". His name is Steven Mintz. In the book, he actually traces the achievements of the childsavers. It is really impressive.

I often thought silently as Melli derided such people in class that "child saver" was something they could put on my tombstone and I would be proud of it. Now I know that is the truth.

This book should be a must read for all the ditto heads that think that children are valued as sacred new life. I listen to them talk and it is all about the "rights" of the unborn child. The PREborn. The book exposes how much we value life once it turns from the fetus into the child.

Children are precious commodities in the world all right. Children are bred for their parents redemption, financial and emotional. Then in the U.S., all the rest of the people have to pay for it.

Over 1/2 of the slaves in the world are children - the other half are woman. We still breed those we can use, instead of becoming what we need. And we also breed, of course, out of a biological drive which is no longer beneficial. This is why abortion is good. Choice is good.

The most interesting thing in the book is about children "rescued" from the Indians. When children were captured by the Indians and raised by the tribe, their parents sometimes tried to ransom them back. Most children refused to return. When they were forced, they sobbed as they were being dragged away from the tribe. They said they lived a beautiful life in the tribe compared to what they came from in "white" society.

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This is a good website for news about Martha

FORMER PROSECUTOR SAYS FEDS FOCUS ON BIG GAME HUNTS--

In the Martha Stewart case, this is the first time in history — that I know of, and I did the research on this — where they charged an individual with false statements, without her signing the statement or without a tape recording that she even made the statement. And not under oath."

"I keep an ever changing roster I call my Hail Mary list - a reminder to say prayers for people I know who are going through bad times. Right now, Martha is at the top of it." - Dominick Dunne, in this month's Vanity Fair


Diva Down
What the rest of us have to fear from the fall of Martha
Elizabeth Koch

So says Diane Lori Kleiman, a lawyer who worked for the federal government as well as the Queens District Attorney's office. "They absolutely look for these cases and they grab onto them. It isn't necessarily an issue of right and wrong. It's an issue of taking the case to trial and getting the publicity. That makes your career," she contends.

Diane Lori Kleiman, an attorney (and Fox News commentator) who has seen it from the inside, reveals for the first time an inside view of how and why it is that a person like Martha Stewart is sitting in prison today. Kudos to John Crudele at the NY Post has been on the story from the beginning. He has been asking he same nagging question as we: Why Martha? As events unfold, we are gradually learning the answers to that question.

Insider Trading on Capitol Hill? -- TMF
Few of us have probably ever looked forward with great anticipation to the publication of an article in a financial academic journal. But there's one appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis that may make for gripping reading. It raises a troubling question: Are there financial shenanigans going on on Capitol Hill? Specifically, are (some) senators engaging in insider trading, acting on early knowledge they may have regarding what legislation will be passed when, which companies will be awarded big contracts, and which companies' drugs will be approved?

No more mail for Martha?
Alderson prison overwhelmed with thousands of letters...fans write to Martha's mom instead

DON'T WRITE MARTHA, JUST BUY! -- Page Six
MARTHA Stewart can't read all the fan mail that's coming to her in prison, but you can show the domestic diva some love by buying her products. That's what fans who write to inmate #55170-054 at the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, W.Va., are being told in a return form-letter from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "She's cut off from her mail," cried John Small, the operator of the SaveMartha.com Web site.

But Small's solution — to send letters to Stewart's mom, "Big Martha" Kostyra, at Turkey Hill in Connecticut — has other fans incensed. "Asking thousands to burden Martha's elderly mother with pieces of unwanted fan mail is beyond reproach," a reader e-mailed us. "To take it upon himself to add to Mrs. Kostyra's already compounded grief and agitation without permission from her or her family is unforgivable and lacks decent human respect. "

A spokeswoman for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said, "Martha is very touched by the enormous outpouring of support and sorry that she cannot respond directly."

Save Martha responds to these uninformed charges

Are fans who write to Martha's mother being cruel and insensitive? Are we, by suggesting that they do so? Evidently not, according to a spokesperson at MSO. After receiving a letter from the company last week which asks for people to stop writing to Martha in jail until she is released in the Spring, we thought it would be a nice idea to send holiday cards and letters to Big Martha. But a few readers evidently did not agree, and in fact became suddenly protective and upset, thinking this would put some kind of burden on Martha's 90 year old mother. And now the latest Martha mini-scandal is all over Page Six.

The very idea of Martha's mom getting post fan-letter stress disorder is completely ridiculous. As if SaveMartha would do anything to put any more of a burden on Martha or her family. We'd rather give up creme brulée forever. Having sat through six weeks of the trial and the sentencing hearing, having spent countless hours on this campaign to do whatever possible to help Martha and her company survive the most ridiculous scandal of all time, that would be the very last thing on our minds. But just like Martha, sometimes one cannot help but be a little bit misunderstood.

If you would like to write to Martha or her mother, we believe you are free to do so. But we will always inform you of any information that might help you make that decision more wisely. And if Big Martha wakes up one morning to a nice big pile of mail telling her how much we appreciate what her daughter Martha has done, then we plead guilty to the offense of warming a mother's heart while her daughter awaits freedom sometime in the Spring...


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Write the President - Free Martha
There are many petitions on line to free Martha but I suspect many are there by spamers to get your e-mail address but here is one written by John Small at Archives which I believe can be easily adapted by anyone and sent to the White House by e-mail. Then the only people who will have your e-mail address are the secret service, the fbi and the cia. oh well.

I want to add my own thought to this and will do so later tonight as I have the time.

To: The President of the United States
Dear Mr. President:

A terrible injustice has been done to Martha Stewart. Her only real crime was to be too successful,
thereby eliciting the enmity of misguided and misinformed citizens who feel that she represents the face of corporate crime.

It is our belief, Mr. President, that Martha Stewart was put on trial and aggressively prosecuted in a
criminal court because of who she is. Please allow us to explain.

There is an awful irony in the Justice Department's victory against Martha Stewart. Ostensibly the
message has gone out that justice has triumphed: the good guys won and from now on no other corporate malfeasance will be committed with impunity.

But consider the Ken Lays of the world who ravage their companies' and their stockholders' wealth as
they amass their own personal fortunes.

In Martha Stewart's case we are facing the destruction of a corporation that was not only enriching its
stockholders, prior to media leaks by investigators about Martha Stewart's case, but was gainfully
employing hundreds of people in a company that seemed destined to blossom and continue to support a steady economy. Martha Stewart did nothing to damage her own company or its employees.

After investigating Martha Stewart for insider trading, there was not enough evidence to bring the
case to criminal trial. Instead, the Justice Department tried to levy a charge that Martha Stewart
engaged in securities fraud merely by saying she was innocent, a charge which was rightfully dismissed by Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum. We shudder to imagine the outcome of this had she not had the wisdom to do so.

Now Martha Stewart has been convicted of lying, in a meeting where none of the questions were written down, and for the obstruction of justice in an investigation where she provided all the documents and information that were requested. For her cooperation, she now faces years behind bars, while those who do not cooperate still walk free.

This show trial has resulted in the loss of over a billion dollars in Omnimedia shareholder wealth,
thanks in large part to leaks from sources close to the investigation to the media, not anything Ms.
Stewart did. It has cost taxpayers millions of dollars to support the investigation and the subsequent trial, and has resulted in no clear restitution in cases where a company's CEO was accused of draining employee retirement funds or scamming unwitting shareholders.

After the trial, one of the jurors said this was a victory for the little guys, but it appears it's the
little guys, the taxpayers, employees and shareholders, who really paid the price.

Sir, we implore you to empower any agency that might offer some relief from the terrible injustice done to a woman who has brought happiness, personal enrichment and joy into the lives of millions of her devoted readers, viewers and fans. Martha Stewart has venerated the core of American values - the home. We believe that sending her to prison will send an awful message.

Finally, the likely loss of jobs that will result from the destruction of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Inc. should Ms. Stewart be incarcerated is in itself a tragedy - one that can be avoided.

It is our assertion that Martha Stewart deserves a presidential pardon in this case and we are humbly
asking you to grant it.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004 Wednesday, November 24, 2004
premarin
just enjoy the hot flashes - they too shall leave and be missed later

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Race, Class & Feminists
E=themes from The New York Times Series

...Apparently talking about our age never goes out of style.

But it was race, rather than birthdates or preference for flats, that really separated our feminist grandmas. As far back as the 1800's, race had put them in different camps. The movement for universal suffrage broke down when white women leaders realized that black men would get to the ballot box before them. Feminists were still unsettled about the issue of race in the 1970's as they raised their consciousness. So in 1980, when women of color produced an anthology about the movement, they picked a no-nonsense metaphor for the book's title, ''This Bridge Called My Back.''

Edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga, the book wasn't the she-said-she-said some may have expected or wanted. Instead, women of color wrote candidly about their own racism and that of white feminists. Moraga wrote, ''We are afraid to look at how we have failed each other.'' Now a new book edited by Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating, ''This Bridge We Call Home,'' brings the question of differences up to date, and suggests that now looks something like back then. One young writer, Kimberly Springer, wonders if she should attend ''the Black Student Union protest or drive to a Clinic Defense in suburban Detroit? The United Coalition Against Racism meeting or the Take Back the Night March? Like the 1970's Black feminists I would later study, I was torn between two lovers.''

Like those before her, Springer comes to the conclusion that identifying politically with those who look like her doesn't result in instant sisterhood. Being of the same race, national origin or class background is often a good and much-needed starting point, but it doesn't mean shutting the door on everyone else. It requires, as Anzaldúa writes in her introduction, ''knowing when to close ranks to those outside our home and when to keep the gates open.''

Unlike our sisters 200 years ago or even two decades ago, we now have more contact with each other. We have e-mail. ''Woman'' is one of many identities that we can share. Both young and old feminists now find themselves in unlikely alliances. A chicana lives in Norway with friends from Pakistan, Kosovo and India. Palestinian girls grow up with Puerto Ricans in New York. And likewise, the writers in ''This Bridge We Call Home'' are mixed-race graduate students, gay fathers, chicana schoolteachers and first- and fifth-generation Americans.

None of this makes talking about race and feminism any easier than it was back in the 1800's. We joke about gray hair, the news on hormone replacement, the baby fat, the acne, how time passes -- all while riding on the elevator to the office. But talking about race we leave for trips to the bathroom. We check in with each other about whether we sounded racist talking about hair or the Middle East. We add lipstick and exchange that ''can you believe she said that?'' look. A writer in ''This Bridge We Call Home,'' though, talks about it more honestly: ''Being the white mom of an African-American child has not made me more conscious of racism. Nor has it made me a better anti-racism activist. It has made me more vulnerable.''

With the anniversary of Sept. 11 close at hand, ''This Bridge We Call Home'' is a reminder that it's a good time to talk about what keeps us apart and what brings us together. Deborah Miranda warns in the book of ''solidarity on the one hand, silence on the other.'' She's describing the relationship between women of color and Native American women, but the same could be said of feminists in general and, beyond that, of Americans. Solidarity and silence. We're together in sisterhood or tragedy, but our questions and fears don't necessarily get talked about. Instead we put them aside and history, herstory, the story repeats itself.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004 Tuesday, November 23, 2004
My Caste and my Kind
Exerpt reprint, for the article click on the title here> Single and a Woman

Consider two books on the subject that have just come out this month that try to validate this lifestyle both historically and anecdotally, as if it were a fringe phenomenon rather than a rapidly growing segment of society:

Betsy Israel's ''Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century'' (William Morrow)

and

''Solitaire: The Intimate Lives of Single Women'' (Macfarlane Walter & Ross) by Marian Botsford Fraser, a Canadian journalist.

Both suggest that single women are still perceived as a special-interest group, although, according to Ms. Israel's book, they number a staggering 1.95 million in New York City alone. (The Census Bureau puts that number at 2,060,000.)


''Single women have always been portrayed and depicted in the mass culture in a negative and nasty way that influenced the lives of many women, and at the same time was competely untrue, and these images, some of them 150 years old, are still being played out and the ideas are just being recycled,'' says Ms. Israel.

''Bachelor Girl'' traces the trajectory of the single woman in America, from the turn of the 20th century to the present, from the spinster -- working immigrant women who literally spun for a living -- to ''outspoken and very cool-looking single celebrities'' of the 1960's and 1970's like Gloria Steinem. There are thumbnail sketches of poster girls for singlehood like the Brontë sisters, Louisa May Alcott and Florence Nightingale. (Who, despite her status, was not exactly a role model for single living. After revolutionizing military nursing standards during the Crimean War, she took to her bed more or less permanently at the age of 40 with a mysterious malady.) Rife with Dickensian detail, Ms. Israel's book provides a useful (if depressing) history of single working girls and new women of all stripes, from the shopgirl to the Gibson goddess to the swinging single.

Ms. Fraser's book calls single women ''a potentially powerful socio-economic group'' but one that is ''still widely perceived as disadvantaged or insignificant, subordinate or invisible.'' As evidence she collects oral accounts of 150 women she interviewed across Canada, from a nonagenarian living alone in a trailer on a remote farm to young professionals at work and play in Toronto, to the hospice care of a terminally ill woman by her coterie of friends. The collective voice of these single women is decidedly ambivalent.

''I think it's human nature for there to be ambivalence about stuff like this,'' Ms. Fraser says. ''I think people want the freedom, the autonomy, the independence and in some cases the greater security of being single, but they also want to be in relationships. No matter how well you put your life together, it's still nice to have sex now and then.''

It's hard to imagine their male counterparts being subjected to similar treatment, a history of single men, say, or a book about bachelors that didn't celebrate their sexual prowess with Rat-Pack-style martini glasses or a winsome picture of Hugh Grant or some other signifier of this debonair demimonde on the cover, excerpted, perhaps, by Esquire or GQ.

The cover of Ms. Fraser's ''Solitaire'' is stark, showing a pair of self-clasped workaday female hands. Ms. Israel's book makes a game effort at presenting a positive image, with two broadly grinning flappers on the cover who at least look as if they are having fun. But having shuffled the deck of single-women stereotypes from the old maid to the mistress, she sadly concludes: ''If distinct single archetypes seem for the moment to have blurred, the conviction that single women are social outcasts -- odd women who require constant translation -- remains intact. Wherever she is, perhaps in a waiting room or lost in the morass of the Internet, she'll eventually find a story about her uncertain future and her inevitable regret.''

''The media refrain has variations,'' she writes, ''but in essence it remains the same: no matter what the single woman says, she can't really be happy. Her life is barren and disappointing.''

Carolyn Dinshaw, the director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University, questions the terminology itself. '' 'Single women' strikes me as very outdated,'' she says. ''I would suggest the term 'women,' because 'single women' problematizes the single woman as if the standard is the couple, and it seems to me that we have really gone beyond that.''


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Sunday, November 21, 2004 Sunday, November 21, 2004
airline food
Airline Food Report
by the A review Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Fall 2003

Just in time for Thanksgiving travel, the doctors and nutritionists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have rated 10 of the top airlines for the availability of healthy vegetarian and vegan entrées.

Vegetarian and vegan (dairy- and egg-free) meals are naturally higher in fiber and lower in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Unfortunately, healthy food seems to be one of the first things to go when airlines seek to cut costs. As airlines have moved away from standard menus in favor of buy-on-board meals, passengers’ access to meatless and dairy-free food has decreased dramatically.

At the time of PCRM’s last Airline Food Report in 1996, most large airlines offered vegetarian or vegan meals. But today, such major airlines as Continental have discontinued their vegetarian options. With many healthy, cholesterol-free items now gone, passengers looking for wholesome meals often have two choices: pack their own food or go hungry.

Bad Timing
It is the wrong time to cut plant-based entrées from airline menus. More than 44 million adult Americans are now significantly overweight, and diet-related disease rates are skyrocketing. Seatbelt extenders are in high demand. And pity the traveler in seats B or E, those middle seats where travelers get squeezed by super-sized customers. While airlines can’t stop the obesity epidemic—any more than they can make all smokers quit—they can model a healthier lifestyle by serving more healthful food.

A nutritional analysis of two meals demonstrates the difference between non-vegetarian and vegetarian fare. A ham sandwich (offered by United) averages 394 calories, 22.5 grams of fat, seven grams of saturated fat, and 59 milligrams of cholesterol. American Airlines’ vegan bistro bag (featuring a veggie pita, baby carrots, pretzels, and an apple) totals 253 calories, one gram of fat, zero grams of saturated fat, and seven grams of fiber.

Travelers wanting to prevent diabetes, cancer, and other chronic health problems will look for vegetarian entrées. Unfortunately, these healthy options seem to be disappearing from the carts that roll down the center aisle of the aircraft.

The Rankings
Superb Service: Song.
This airline, which is operated by Delta, offers healthy vegetarian and vegan meals as part of the buy-on-board menu on all flights.

Plan Ahead: Alaska, American, United.
These airlines offer vegetarian and/or vegan options, but travelers must usually special-order such healthy meals before their flight.

Falling Behind: American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, US Airways.
These airlines make only a rudimentary effort at providing vegetarian and vegan meals—or they offer none at all.

What the Airlines Offer
Airline
Vegetarian meals?
Vegan meals?

The Methodology
Research was conducted in October of 2003. Only domestic flights were considered. Meals served in first class were not considered. Some major airlines, such as Southwest, AirTran, and America West, were not reviewed because they do not offer any meal service for economy class. Many airlines now offer a buy-on-board option for travelers wishing to purchase a meal for their flight; others still provide standard meals on some flights. PCRM dietitians reviewed both types of meal service by locating menu information on airlines’ Web sites when it was available and contacting the airlines for additional menus and information.

Buy-on-Board
Six reviewed airlines now offer buy-on-board meals. Four of these exclusively serve buy-on-board, and two (Delta and Northwest) offer buy-on-board on some flights and standard meals on others. Of these six airlines, only two offered vegetarian lunch or dinner options. Breakfast choices were a little better for vegetarians, although only the same two airlines offered a vegan breakfast item.

Buy-on-board programs do not offer the option of special meals (including vegetarian or vegan, kosher, low cholesterol, low sugar). Also, many available options—such as ham or roast beef sandwiches—are high in fat and cholesterol.

SONG a new low-fare carrier operated by Delta, stands out in the buy-on-board category. It not only offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan breakfast items, but also consistently serves vegetarian and vegan lunch and dinner items. The current menu offers a vegetarian Garden Greek Salad and a vegan Rock n Roll Sushi meal. Veggie sushi is a healthful meal that averages 286 calories, three grams of fat, zero grams of saturated fat, and two grams of fiber. Those looking for a healthy meal will find it easily on Song.

Many buy-on-board meals are far from healthful. But Northwest serves one of the worst: a ham, salami, and provolone cheese sandwich on ciabatta, plus chips and a chocolate bar. This meal totals approximately 800 calories, 40 grams of fat, and 20 grams of saturated fat.

Standard Meals
Of the airlines reviewed, six still offer free in-flight meals, depending on the length of the flight. Vegetarian meals never appear on most airlines’ standard menus. Travelers are usually stuck choosing between one high-fat, high-cholesterol entrée and another.

In the past, many health-conscious travelers called ahead to airlines to request a vegetarian or vegan meal. However, such special-order meals are no longer widely available. On four of the seven airlines offering free in-flight meals, a special meal (such as vegetarian) can be ordered in advance. However, only two of these airlines—American and United—offered a vegan option.

Continental Airlines recently eliminated all special meals. This leaves a traveler with special dietary needs, or anyone simply looking for a healthier meal, without any options other than packing their own food.

Top choices in this category include American Airlines’ special-order vegan bistro bag. But passengers flying American should be careful to call ahead. Those who don’t special-order this meal will be stuck with a turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, carrots, and a cookie, which total 705 calories and 33 grams of fat.

......................there is a lot more to this article ........click here to see all the charts

Recommendations:

The doctors and nutritionists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine urge all airlines to include one option that is both vegan and kosher in buy-on-board and standard meal services. This one option should be designed to satisfy all special meal requests. This would mean people looking for vegetarian, heart-healthy, kosher, or high-fiber meals would always have an appropriate menu item available when they fly. Many tasty, healthy options would fulfill this requirement. Possible menu items include:

roasted veggie hoagie with hummus
bean burrito with pinto beans, rice, and salsa
hearty green salad topped with chopped vegetables, baked tofu, and beans
whole grain bread with almond butter and strawberry preserves
curried tofu salad sandwich with lettuce and tomato in a pita
Offering such meals would both increase customer satisfaction and save the airlines money. In addition, these vegan items would provide an optimal choice for any passenger looking for a healthy meal.


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The Royal House of Cat Book interview by the Best Friends Sanctuary

From Best Friends magazine
(click on this link and visit the Dream Place; do what you can; vacation there next to the Grand Canyon)CLICK HERE to tour Dog Town and Cat World.

One of the great international correspondents of our time, Georgie Anne Geyer has traveled the world interviewing the kings, queens, and statesmen. She's noted for her books and columns about world leaders. But her latest book is about an altogether different royal line: cats.

Best Friends
editor Michael Mountain talked with her about When Cats Reigned Like Kings - On the Trail of the Sacred Cats.

Michael Mountain: You've interviewed some of the world's greatest leaders, from kings and presidents to prime ministers and dictators. Now you've written a book about cats. Why?

Georgie Anne Geyer: Well, the truth is I got awfully tired of human beings while covering wars in El Salvador and Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, and Iran. I had my two wonderful cats, Pasha, who was an Egyptian god cat lost on the streets of Chicago, and Neko, the little Japanese bobcat cat I have now. And as I roamed around the world doing these other stories, I saw that so many of these other countries had made cats, of all the animals in the world, into royal and sacred creatures. I love history, so I began to collect the histories of cats in various countries. Of course, all cats are royal and sacred, as we know.

M.M.: There is a definite spiritual essence that runs all the way through your book. For example, your description of how in Egypt cats were seen as actually being able to carry the souls of people after they'd died.

G.G.: So many ancient societies - Egypt, Siam, Japan, China - believed in the transmigration of souls. And they believed that the cat, again alone out of all the animals in the world, could carry the soul of his human friend into the next world. Herodotus, when he visited Egypt in 500 B.C., wrote about this.

And of course Egyptians made the cats into gods. I had a very joyful, precious day when I went north of Cairo, and I visited the ruins of the Temple of Bastet on the Nile, which is where the cat Goddess Bastet held court. That's [the famous statue] where she's poised beautifully with her little paws in front of her and wearing her necklace and her earrings. There were thousands of cats there, roaming around the altars, and they were not only revered but actually honored and prayed to by Egyptians who came there from all over the realm.

M.M.: You suggest at one point that cats answer our own deepest spiritual yearnings - how do they do that?

G.G.: Well, this is a curious thing, and I sort of play with this idea in the book: Did we make cats into gods throughout history because of our need to find a creature who could embody the spiritual? Or did they come to us with the spiritual message and tell us about it? You can see through the history of felines across the globe, across the centuries, that there was something in the cat alone that brought out the spirituality in mankind. Dogs, as wonderful as they are, were gatekeepers often at the palace, and they were honored as hunters, and so on. The Egyptians had many, many animals as gods - crocodiles, falcons - in various localities, but only the cat was a god across the whole realm. Only the cat was a god in all of these different cultures.

M.M.: Do you have a slight yearning yourself for mankind to return to a time when all the animals were recognized as spiritual beings? There is one sentence in your book where you write, "I believe that all cats are beautiful and that they share in that sacred and royal spirit that they exemplify in themselves and inspire in us humans." And that comes across as your own credo

G.G.: Yes, I do believe in that. I think we're missing so much when we don't try to understand animals on all kinds of levels. And anyone who has lived with a beloved dog or cat would feel and know this. Historically, every cat is royal and sacred because every cat came out of Egypt - they originated in the African wilds and were domesticated and then made into gods in Egypt. Then when the Romans came in 350 B.C., cats were taken all over the world - to Europe and to Asia - down the trade routes. So all cats share in the royalty and sacredness of ancient Egypt.

Later on, cats went through a very bad period of Judeo-Christianity in the Middle East and Europe, because when you have one god, you couldn't have animal gods. But then in the late 19th century, you had the breeds come in Britain. And this was almost a new kind of royalty - a royalty of the democracies, where cats could be recognized (and dogs, too) and cared for and shown as beautiful. At the first cat show in London at the Crystal Palace, people were just amazed suddenly to see these cats who had been out on the street, lounging on velvet pillows looking as beautiful as of course they do look. But they didn't have breeds then; they showed according to colors. So in the book, I traced how they went from being royalty in the ancient days to now being a new kind of royalty - the cat who's loved as a precious part of the family.

M.M.: You must be the only person anywhere who meets world leaders and talks with them about cats. Like when the governor of Bangkok tells you that "cats and politics are a little bit similar."

G.G.: Yes, I found myself seated next to him at a luncheon one day, and I'd been told that he had had 11 cats, and he did say they were like politics - something about how both involve you intensely.

M.M.: Does anybody particularly stand out in terms of kings, queens, prime ministers, whatever, who have a particular thing with cats?

G.G.: Probably the late King Hussein [of Jordan], whom I interviewed a number of times when I covered the Middle East. He had several - always several - little cats which his wife bought him in London. And I foolishly did not ask him what kind. But he said that they would wait for him at the bottom of the staircase in his palace every night and would walk up to bed with him.

And Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher El Sayed of Egypt, whom I talked to three years ago, was a very charming man. He was just in the middle of one of the endless Palestinian problems and quarrels, and I told him I'd been up to the temple of Bastet in the north and he said, "That's so wonderful, oh, that's so wonderful. I can't wait to tell my wife and my mother!" It's been funny being in these conversations with these world leaders and then talking about cats.

M.M.: Now you've talked about cat gods and goddesses and the cat kings and queens, but there's the other side, too - the naughty cats or the bad cats. What did you find out about them? Because there's a whole duality there.

G.G.: The duality is really striking. In Egypt, for instance, I had always heard about Bastet, sitting primly with her little paws and her beautiful necklace and always the earrings. And then one day I suddenly heard an Egyptian friend of mine say, "Well, there's always the bad cat, Sekhmet, the roaring lion cat." I was just starting my research then, so I hadn't run across Sekhmet. But yes, indeed, there is Sekhmet, who is called "the mangler" and "enforcer," and she was the other side of the good Bastet.

Bastet brought good things and was also seen as the mother with the basket in the very famous sculpture in the Egyptian Museum. But Sekhmet was the bad god of thunder and lightning and the mangler - the bad side of humankind. And there's the same duality in Japan and in Siam in those wonderful cat treatises, which strangely enough are not known to many people. There are good cats and bad cats. They had exact descriptions of the good cats in your life and what they would bring you. And the same with the bad cats. So man's duality of nature and spirituality is also ... do we say imposed on the cats or reflected in the cats? That's where I left off and let everyone's imagination take over.

M.M.: So there is a possibility that we're simply reflections of cats?

G.G.: I'm not going to say that's wrong! It's too much fun to think about.

M.M.: You actually found cats who are both sacred and royal in all parts of the world?

G.G.: Yes, and I made a genealogical chart of all the cultures and when the cat became sacred in those cultures. And there's also the part of the book called "The Family of Cat," in which I did profiles of all of the popular breeds today. Anyone can look and see what mixture their cat is. All cats, of course, are mixtures now, but you can tell the different breeds by the beautiful pictures and the little profiles I did.

M.M.: And you can't help but go and look up your favorite cat, so I immediately went to look for the heritage and line of Squeaky Pop, who is one of my cats, and he's a sort of Maine coon, big and fluffy, and you have a whole story about Maine coons and how they may have come over from France after Marie Antoinette was executed there.

G.G.: You know, I think that story has a very good chance of being true, because there was an attempt to spring Marie Antoinette before she was killed in the French Revolution. And she had sent her beloved cats ahead, the story goes, and it seems to ring true to me. There was this British ship captain and [the French queen] was going to join them and come to the New World, but she was taken and killed. According to the story, Captain Coon, the ship's captain, did bring them over. And of course cats were on all the ships in those years - they were on the Mayflower.

The Maine coon were beautiful cats. They were the first American cats. The first cat shows, in the 1800s in New England, were only for Maine coons because those were the only cats. And another interesting thing is you look at the Maine coons in New England, the Siberians in Russia, and the Norwegian Forest cats in Norway, and they are all very similar - big beautiful cats with long hair, beautiful faces, sort of gentle giants, and they all adapted to the winters in all these northern climes and developed these heavy coats. So you look at the pictures in the book or anywhere else, and you'll see how similar the northern cats are.

And [it's the same] with the southern cats. The Siamese and their offspring are very silky and beautiful. And bobtails started in Singapore and worked their way up through China and Japan. I find the history to be fascinating because cats have their own maps and their own heritage. They have their own royal palaces in Siam, and their own temples in Egypt.

When Cats Reigned Like Kings - On the Trail of the Sacred Cats is published by Andrews McMeel.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004 Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The global-local intersection of feminism in Muslim societies: the cases of Iran and Azerbaijan

THE arguments made in this paper are based on empirical studies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as on a review of studies of several other societies in the Muslim and non-Muslim global South.

Through a brief review of Iran and a few references to post-Soviet Azerbaijan, the interplay between local and global factors in shaping the course of women's movements and feminism is demonstrated.

Attention is paid primarily to the positive impact of two specific aspects of globalization on women's movements and feminism in these two societies: the international human rights regime (comprised of the United Nations and international nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) and global feminism (comprised of feminist discourses, the international women's movement, and transnational feminist networks).

As in other countries, it is the history, internal developments, and dynamism of each society, particularly the social praxis of women, that have played the main role in shaping the course of women's movements in Iran and Azerbaijan. But external factors also, both during colonial times and in the present era of globalization, have influenced women's movements and feminism in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. In the past, the global and external factor for women in the Muslim world was predominantly of a colonial nature.

In colonial and postcolonial studies of Muslim societies, the gender- and class-based differential impacts of colonialism (in countries like Egypt, Syria, Iraq) or of Western hegemony (in countries that were never colonized, such as Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan) have been extensively studied. On women's rights movement and feminism also, colonialism or Western domination left contradictory impacts. (1)

The external/global factor, due to the much more deeply penetrating and transformative processes of globalization, is distinct from the colonial system of the past. Globalization, replete with contradictions, is more akin to the Industrial Revolution in its impact on societies, its intervention directly into daily life as well as economies, institutions of governance, and world order (Giddens, 1994; Held et al., 1999).

Because of increasing globalization, no gender regime and therefore no women's movement in any locality (country or community) can be studied and understood without taking global influences into account.

An obvious, recently illuminated case in point is the situation of women in Afghanistan. Women's status and rights in Afghanistan cannot be accounted for without understanding the interaction between the local (history, geography, geopolitics, political economy, culture, and Afghan women's own agency and struggles) and the global or international factors, including the intervention of the superpowers (the Soviet Union and the United States), the regional powers (including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran) and the subsequent interventions of international human/women's rights groups and feminist networks.

Before reviewing the case studies, some conceptual and theoretical clarification and definitions that make up the framework of this study are offered.

Globalization and "Global Feminism"

Globalization processes, especially since the 1970s, have affected feminist mobilization for change in many different societies. Feminist interventions, in turn, have aimed to affect the parameters and direction of globalization processes (Eschle, 2001: 192).

The increasing globalization and integration of the world through international trade, migration, faster and less expensive transportation, and new electronic communication and information technology, have led to a situation in which a growing number of women and men belong to more than one community. Communities and group identities are overlapping and de-territorializing, and an escalating number of individuals who become multicultural and multilingual are adopting more fluid and multiple identities (Jaggar, 1998; Appadurai, 1996).

Globalization is accompanied by intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole (Robertson, 1996: 8; Giddens, 1994: 5-7). This and other effects of globalization have important implications for gender relations and women's status in all societies.

Anthony Giddens, for example, points to the indirect impact of global processes on social pressure for democratization in the form of "the expansion of social reflexivity and detraditionalization" (Giddens, 1994: 111). As they become better informed about new and varied political alternatives in the world, populations become less likely to accept traditional models of political and gender regimes.

Globalization "allows for the subversive possibility of women seeing beyond the local to the global" (Eisenstein, 1997: 17).

Even those who never physically leave their communities of origin are more likely now to evaluate their own lives by placing their rights, options, and restrictions in a comparative and global perspective (Jaggar, 1998).

Exposure to geographically disparate influences and to issues framed in a global context can encourage the reflexive scrutiny of localized traditions and behavior patters and lead to the construction of new social relationships" (Eschle, 2001: 147).

Women, especially in the global South, are located at the center of contemporary globalization processes. Although local/national contexts are the primary sites for feminist struggles and intervention, global/international forums such as United Nations world conferences and transnational economic structures such as the IMF, World Bank, and transnational corporations have become more important in women's lives, hence requiring feminist intervention.

Throughout the world, the debt crisis; severe "structural adjustment" policies; unhealthy and unbalanced patters of consumption; plant relocations by multinational corporations from the global North to the global South; environmental degradation in both "worlds"; militarism; the trade in heroin and cocaine; and sex tourism and international traffic in women are among the main adverse effects of globalization that concern many feminists, especially in the global South, both in the areas formerly known as the "Third World" and the "Second World," now usually called post-Soviet, post-Communist or new transitional economies, including Azerbaijan. (2)

Culturally and politically, women are situated in the vortex of contending social forces: centripetal tendencies toward increasing globalization and integration and centrifugal tendencies toward nationalism and fragmentation (Jaggar, 1998: 7).

As in Iran, a main concern with respect to the cultural and political impacts of globalization is that women "are frequently taken as emblems of cultural integrity, so that defending beleaguered cultures becomes equated with preserving traditional forms of femininity, especially as these are manifest in traditional female dress and practices of marriage and sexuality" (Jaggar, 1998: 7).

In response to these global challenges and practical concerns (such as violence, democracy, universal human rights, morality, and ethics), a global discourse community is emerging among feminists (Jaggar, 1998; Eschle, 2001).

This emerging global feminism is an outgrowth of globalization and at the same time a critical response to it. The beginnings of global feminism are visible in official and semiofficial venues, such as the regional and world conferences on women sponsored by the UN since 1975, and especially their accompanying forums for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The emergence of global feminism is also evident in a multitude of ongoing interactions among grassroots groups and transnational feminist networks addressing regional or global concerns, such as the Network of East/West Women, Encuentros Feministas, Women Living under Muslim Laws, and the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (Jaggar, 1998: 8).

The Interplay of the Local and the Global or the Particular and the Universal

Intensified globalization has made conventional demarcation between the "internal" and the "external," or the "local" and the "global" or the core-periphery model somewhat artificial as it is becoming more difficult to determine where the local stops and the global begins.

The "cultural flow" of globalization is not simply from the global to the local, but also the reverse (Abu-Lughod, 1991: 132) and forces from various metropolises that are brought into new societies tend to become indigenized in one way or another (Appadurai, 1996: 32).

Although many feminists feel compelled to "think globally and act locally," some actions have to be carried out globally if certain changes are to take place locally.

(3) Given the situation of Afghanistan, for example, no local improvement in women's status can take place without a global action to alter present devastation.

The concerns of women around the world have to be addressed, then, in the historicized particularity of their relationship to multiple systems of subordination and oppression: patriarchy and/or male supremacy at local levels (family, community, and nation) and international sexism and economic hegemony at the global level.

As Uma Narayan (1997) puts it, "we need to articulate the relationship of gender to scattered hegemonies such as global economic structures, patriarchal nationalisms, `authentic' forms of tradition, local structures of domination, and legal-juridical oppression on multiple levels."

While women's movements and feminism have become increasingly global, sisterhood is not global in its romantic sense, nor is it local.

Rather, women's solidarity has to be negotiated within each specific context (Mohanty, 1998; Sharoni, 2001; Bayes and Tohidi, 2001). Amrita Basu, for example, warns us against making sweeping generalizations about commonalities among women ....(TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE click here

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Saturday, November 6, 2004 Saturday, November 6, 2004
rowing through my dream
The Buddhist teaching on the dreamlike nature of reality comes in handy here. The Buddha said, "Everything is like a dream, a fantasy, a mirage, rainbows in the sky, and a magician's illusion." Therefore it makes sense to be less attached to and invested in our momentary perceptions, interpretations, and projections.

The old nursery rhyme tells us: “Row, row, row your boat...Life is but a dream.” We have to keep doing what we can--rowing our boats, working for what we believe in--all the while realizing we ride on a moving stream we don’t control. We flow, we float, we paddle, steer, and redirect. But we can’t get back upstream however hard we may try. There is little use in always going against the current, resisting, fighting the flow, which can be just another form of clinging and attachment. You may feel “out” of the great flow, but it always flows right through the middle of your life, and through you, too. You may feel far from “It,” but rest assured that it is never apart from you.
On this journey, merriment is helpful. Lightness will help us get where we’re going, without capsizing and sinking. Travel light, and you will soon arrive.

Love,
Surya Das
 

SEE: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/155/story_15547_1.html

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