by: Ana Levy-Lyons on May 9th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
During a national strike in Bangladesh, workers protest the deaths of workers in a garment factory fire. Credit: Creative Commons/Derek Blackadder.
I learned a new term from my chiropractor: antalgic lean. He explained that antalgic means “holding oneself away from pain.” I just love that there’s a word for that and it’s a perfect descriptor for what’s going on in our world today. Avoiding pain is something that most of us do as a matter of course, not just in our bodies but in our lives generally. But in the chiropractic definition, and in life generally, there are unintended consequences to holding oneself away from pain. When you lean away from pain in your right hip, pretty soon your sacrum is askew and your spine is awry and your left knee starts hurting because the pain gets deferred in a domino misalignment of the whole body. The pain is still there; it’s just borne somewhere else. And isn’t that the way it always is? In the body that is our world, until and unless you resolve the source of the pain, it’s always still there; it’s just borne somewhere else.
In Rana Plaza, in Bangladesh, where over 700 garment workers died in a building collapse a couple weeks ago, the pain of inexpensive clothing was felt acutely. The workers had been ordered to continue working in a building deemed dangerous because production simply had to continue. They were not in a position to refuse. Back in November, a fire at a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh was virtually the same story.
by: Sandy Close on May 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
At Guantanamo Bay, detainees are held without trial (or charges). Credit: Creative Commons, Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy
Ahmed Rachidi, a native of Morocco who has been a British resident since 1985, was held in extrajudicial detention in Guantanamo from March 2002 to May 2007, when he was released without charge. Now 47, he is the author of a memoir about his experiences in Guantanamo, called The General: The Ordinary Man Who Challenged Guantanamo, co-authored by Gillian Slovo and published in March 2013.
Here, New America Media editor Sandy Close interviews Mr. Rachidi by phone in his home in Tangier, Morocco, where he lives with his wife, mother and three children.
Q: Why did you call your memoir “The General”?
A: Because I was one of a limited number of prisoners at Guantanamo who spoke English, I was often forced to be an “unofficial leader” by guards and interrogators. They nicknamed me “the general.”
Q: How were you released?
A: I was released in May 2007. I was on the “cleared for release” list for one year before I was released. Although I was a British resident and had worked as a chef in London for 16 years, I was repatriated to Morocco. I was never allowed to regain my passport so I was unable to return to London even for the release last March for my memoir.
A film from 2010 by Danish director Lars von Trier received little notice then, but I hear of it more and more now. It is called Melancholia. A heavenly body – far bigger than an asteroid – has appeared in the night sky. It seems more beautiful than the moon – but is it moving? How? Will it fly by Earth? Will it . . . ? Can people deny the evidence of its approach? The film’s sole subject is a wealthy family living on an elegant country estate, reacting to this approaching orb, one in this way, another in that.
It would be too small to say the film is about global warming. Rather, the film evokes silence for a question of absolute urgency: How do we meet the news that there is no more normal now – that everything will change, that we must change; not just our person, but our civilization must change; and with it every connection, every living system? How to meet that news?
When the subject is climate change, some of us wonder, Why worry about a far-off threat that doesn’t affect us where we live? Has the preacher already forgotten about mass incarceration and stop+frisk? About immigration abuses and the need for education and health care delivery right here in this community? Others of us feel overwhelmed. Climate change is just too big – like that planet coming in the skies of Melancholia. It is news we can’t use in the pews! What can we do? These responses are normal.
Last week, I wrote to say how I’m inspired by the young people at our local Catholic parish here in Durham who are advocating for the release of their youth minister, Fabiana. She was arrested and shipped three states away for deportation because her immigration papers are not in order.
I’ve been asking people of faith and good will here in Durham to stand with these kids and appeal for the release of Fabiana Polomo-Muniz.
What most Americans don’t know-what I didn’t know until other young organizers taught me-is that ICE does not have to detain any person who has not committed a crime in the U.S. While our government tries to sort out the complex issue of immigration reform, Asst. Secretary of Homeland Security John Morton has instructed each local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to exercise “prosecutorial discretion.”
This means that detention centers across the U.S. are full of nonviolent, law-abiding people who have been separated from their families and communities. And nothing requires them to be there. They could be released today.
by: Lynn Feinerman on May 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
More than 210 prisoners have been on hunger strike, protesting their indefinite detention. Credit: Creative Commons/Publik15.
Wonder of wonders, President Obama has publicly acknowledged that there are over 100 desperate men starving themselves to death in the Guantánamo detention facility — rather than endure the misery of torture and indefinite imprisonment without trial.
In my most recent post on Tikkun Daily, I’d made an effort publicly to support the hunger strikers in their heroic action, but I figured the Obama administration would ignore the desperation and courage of the Guantánamo prisoners.
Obama didn’t bring up the subject himself — unless his press conference was staged, and he expected the CBS reporter to question him about the crisis in the Guantánamo facility. But given his voluble response, with all his stock phrases and excuses neatly in place, one might suspect he knew the question was coming.
The war over war with Iran has many battlefronts. Inside Washington, the battle line is between a small coalition of peace and security, non-proliferation and religious groups opposing war and favoring a peaceful solution to the stand off with Iran, and a well-funded war machine comprising neoconservative organizations who believe war with Iran should have started years ago.
A central organization within the anti-war coalition is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization. NIAC has been at the forefront of opposing war, favoring diplomacy and opposing broad sanctions that only hurt the Iranian people, while, at the same time, rebuking Tehran’s horrible human rights record.
Where have I been, people keep asking. Right here, it turns out, giving birth to two books I’ve been incubating for many months. If you’re on my e-list, you received a notice yesterday that my two new books, The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future and The Wave, have been published. I’m almost too excited to type!
Both books can be bought for a 20% discount from a special page, a gift to my dear readers: to buy The Wave or The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future, just click the links in this paragraph and enter the discount code 76KPUKT8 when you check out.
The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future is non-fiction. One of its two main parts features 28 short chapters (most no more than a page or two) exploring emergent knowledge from many realms including commerce, anthropology, social science, medicine, spirituality, cognitive science, art, public policy, and others. Each chapter highlights stories, research, and emerging developments that point to a specific public interest in cultivating empathy, imagination, and community through artistic and cultural creativity. The Wave is speculative fiction: not utopian, because everything in it is doable, but a glimpse of this possible world that I hope will spark other social imaginations.
Attorney Daryl Atkinson of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Daryl Atkinson isn’t just quoting statistics when he talks about America’s most overlooked domestic crisis-mass incarceration as a result of the War on Drugs. 2.3 million people in prison, nearly 7 million in our criminal justice system. The United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation in the world. Since the early 1980′s, when our War on Drugs was declared, incarceration rates have increased by nearly 800%. The result: 65 million Americans-most of them people of color-have been relegated to a criminal caste that is denied access to employment, federal housing, and financial assistance for education.
Daryl quotes these facts from memory, rapid fire. They are a part of the stump speech he gives dozens of times each week, no doubt. But on this particular Sunday afternoon at the end of April, as we’re sitting before a mass meeting that our local NAACP has called to address “racial profiling,” Daryl says something important. “I’m not here because I know this stuff. I’m here because I spent 40 months in an Alabama state prison on a nonviolent drug crime. I’m here because I’m a victim of America’s War on Drugs. And there’s nothing special about me. I left a thousand intelligent brothers behind the walls.”
“Imagine what we mothers could do if we brought that spirit of loud, uncompromising, creative defiance to the necessary project of dismantling the fossil fuel industry and emancipating renewable energy, which is its hostage? Imagine hundreds and hundreds of mothers peacefully blockading the infrastructure projects of the fossil fuel industry, day after day. Imagine us, all unafraid, filling jails across the land. Imagine the press conferences we would give upon our release. Imagine us living up to our children’s belief in us as super heroes.”- -Sandra Steingraber
On April 24, 2013, Sandra Steingraber completed her fifteen-day prison sentence for “acting out” peacefully against the violation of our bodies and the earth by corporate polluters and environmental exploiters–in this case, the gas and hydro-fracking industry.
Sandra is my hero.
Jason Collins today became the first active NBA player to reveal his gay identity in the league’s history. And he did so on the pages of Sports Illustrated with the grace and stoicism befitting an accidental activist, which indeed is what Collins has become: a brave activist determined to combat the homophobia and hatred rife in American sports.
Not because he set out for this to be his mission. But because nobody else has done so.
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.