Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for October, 2011

Nobel Prize Winner In Jail

From Amnesty International

If the Chinese government had it their way, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo would never receive his rightful recognition.

Earlier this month, three women were named recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting women’s rights and women’s participation in peace-building. Yet, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, still languishes behind prison bars for seeking to promote peaceful political and social reforms in China.

In the days surrounding International Human Rights Day (December 10), you can shine a light for Liu Xiaobo and for others whose rights have been denied.

We’re asking you to take one simple action: Write a letter.

This can be a letter of passion and outrage to a government guilty of repressing free expression and denying other human rights.

Or it can be a letter of solidarity and hope sent directly to someone who needs reassurance that they are not alone.

Liu Xiaobo is just one case featured in this year’s annual Write for Rights – Global Write-a-thon – Amnesty’s largest global human rights event. Sign up now and let your letters be counted!

Since Amnesty’s founding 50 years ago, people throughout the world have joined together in classrooms, coffee houses and community centers to take action. They were united by a simple, yet powerful, tool for change – the letter.

Need proof that written words are powerful? Look no further than Liu Xiaobo – whose words of hope and freedom are seen as such a threat by authorities in China that they have imprisoned him because of them.

Now he and others need you to carry their torch by picking up a pen. You don’t need to be a Nobel Prize winner to Write for Rights! Stand with human rights supporters around the world by joining the Global Write-a-thon.

With hope,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Campaign Director
Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Ugandan Lesbian Awarded

From the LGBT Rights Cause.

Major Human Rights Award Goes to Ugandan Lesbian by Paul Canning
October 17, 2011

Besides the Nobel Peace Prize, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is the main award of the global human rights movement.

It is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations.

The 2011 prize was presented to Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera in Geneva October 13 by High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Deputy Kyung-wha Kang.

The ceremony included a very moving film about Nabagesera’s work made by True Hero films.

Nabagesera is a Ugandan LGBT activist and founder/Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

She became engaged in LGBT rights in Uganda when she was just 21, and has since played a leading role.

She told Kathambi Kinoti of AWID in 2010:

Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) is the only exclusively lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in Uganda. It was started by three lesbian-identified women on July 4, 2003 in a bar which at the time the media frequently called a lesbian bar. Many lesbian women who heard the news started coming to the bar to hang out and make new friends.

Earlier, in April 2003 we had been approached by a group of men who claimed to have a lesbian organization by the name Makerere University Students Lesbians Association. When we asked them where the lesbians were and why it was led by men, they said that the women were “shy.” Later we did some research and learnt that these men were not university students nor did any such organization exist.

An accountant by profession, she has excelled in human rights advocacy and obtained a certificate in human rights law. For the past four years she has been speaking at international forums highlighting the plight of lesbian women in her country. But perhaps more importantly, Kasha has had the courage to appear on national television in Uganda, becoming one of the first lesbians to openly speak out.

She has consistently invoked international covenants that Uganda has ratified and the Government has failed to implement.

In 2007, she was brutally harassed at the World Social Forum in Nairobi after she spoke in front of 60,000 people about the respect and tolerance of homosexuals in the world. Later for appearing in the media she was again heckled, threatened and attacked. Since then she has been shifting from house to house, afraid to stay long in the same place. Police and security forces regularly stop and intimidate her.

In 2009, she and two other activists held a press conference with the message ‘we do not recruit!’ The organization the Family Life Network (FLN), which receives substantial American evangelical backing, had been claiming that LGBT groups were receiving vast sums to pay Ugandans to become gay.

On January 26, 2011, one of her colleagues, gay activist David Kato, was murdered following the publication of a “gay list” by the tabloid Rolling Stone calling for their hanging; in this black list, Kasha Jacqueline’s name also appears.

She challenged the homophobia frenzy in the media in the high court of Uganda where she and two others successfully sued Rolling Stone.

Read complete story, with videos and photos, at CARE2 Make A Difference.

Sasha and Malia

From The Adventures of Sasha and Malia at the White House by Carol Francois and P Segal.

Preface by Carol Francois

The Adventures of Sasha and Malia at the White House is a story that came to me in a dream one night not long after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. At the time I didn’t know what (if anything) I would do with the story, but because it was interesting to me, I decided to write down what I could remember, just in case I wanted to do something it it in the future. Eventually I asked my friend P Segal to help me develop it into the book that you now hold in your hands.

I met Jay Mazhar, the illustrator, online through Craigslist. I still don’t know what he looks like, but thanks to his expert skills, he was able to bring the story to life.

I decided to publish this book because young people are not always taught about racism, slavery and the unpleasant parts of America’s past. I realized that children growing up today might think that because we have a Black president, such opportunities might have always existed for people of color in this country. Throughout U.S. history, many Black leaders have fought for a more fair and ust society, thus paving the way for President Obama to achieve this great honor.

Someone once said to me, “The pioneers don’t always get to settle the land.” It was because of courageous leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan and even my own father, the late Terry A. Francois, that people of color have been able to manifest the great works that they were destined to achieve.

Read more about The Adventures of Malia and Sasha at the White House.

Touch Your Good Self

Excerpt from The Suburban Jungle by Jenny Isenman.

Feel Your Boobies – or Else I Will!

After a lump scare in my mid-20′s, I learned that all lumps are not the C-word and it’s totally okay to get to 2nd base with yourself, but getting to second with a woman donning a lab coat and a sick sense of humor is even better!

So, it turned out to be a cyst? A cyst, why didn‘t I think of that? Where is there even room for a cyst in these double A’s? Maybe it’ll grow enough to pump me up a cup or two.

OMG, did I actually think that? Was my internal dialogue not warped enough without daydreaming about a baseball sized growth that could make me look better in a bikini? And whether I could somehow use mind control to ensure one of equal size would grow in the other breast… you know, for symmetry?

I snapped out of my twisted speculation in time to hear the Doctor explain that, like the several million other young women with fibrous breast tissue, I would be required to get a yearly mammogram and ultrasound.

I had heard horrible tales of this test and it’s crushing pain from older generations, like the passing of folklore. I feared the impending torture and dreaded that, what little my child bearing and breastfeeding had left unscathed, would be permanently altered.

By the time my appointment had rolled around the fear of having something less benign started to set in. If I can produce one kind of growth with no knowledge of it, why can’t I produce another kind? The closer I came to the appointment the more the anxiety weighed me down. Pressing me to skip it, to stay home and play sick.

Somehow, my legs and car were on autopilot, and I arrived at the office with time to spare. In the waiting room, I saw a woman, not a day under 100. If she can do this, so can I. But then again she’s old, she’s lived her life, she has less to fear. She’s seen her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, maybe even great-great… As my mind started to spiral into faulty reasoning, they called my name. Phew.

My tech was a brash woman who was incredibly verbose, and clearly missing the filter most of us are born with. Maybe there is some kind of de-inhibiting process that occurs when looking at tatas all day. I’ll have my husband test my theory at the next bachelor party he attends.

“Okay, let’s see what you got in the bra,” was the tech’s icebreaker.

“The last time someone used that line on me he didn’t even get to first base, let alone second.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not lookin’ to make-out.”

Clearly she skipped Socialization 101, also known as Kindergarten, but I can banter with the best of them, and I concentrated more on my retorts than the fear of what was coming.

When I reluctantly disrobed, she cooed, “They’re so cute and perky.” Then she giggled to herself, and mumbled something about getting my A’s to stay up on the shelf of the machine. Though it’s been years since someone actually laughed at the size of my chest, it felt oddly familiar and I patiently waited for the requisite pointing to ensue.

Luckily, I’m not easily embarrassed. Being a card carrying member of the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Comitteee) prepared me for nothing, if not this.

Not that the IBTC was a club I longed to join. I desperately tried to make them bigger. If shear will power wasn’t enough, surely pairing it with chest pumps would do the trick. I must have done a million chest squeezes while chanting:

We must, we must, we must increase our bust.
The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater.
The boys are counting on us.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
What’s a bra without a bust?

Who would have thought such a brilliant plan would fall so, ahem flat, especially when the 7th grade girls pinky swore it was totally fool proof. Yeah well, I’m still an A, so who’s the fool now, 7th grade girls?

After enjoying a good chuckle at my “cute and perkies,” my tech stuck on a set of beautiful nipple markers, which are stickers with silver balls that resemble starter earrings.

“Sorry, we’re all out of fringe,” she informed me, still getting a kick out of herself.

“Don’t worry, I have some at home,” I responded, doing the same.

As it turned out, she was right to laugh. The first time on the shelf they slipped right out.

The intense squeezing actually slung-shot them back towards my body.

“What? Did you butter those puppies?“ She asked, with a snort.

I ignored her and rubbed by chest to stop the vibration that the ricochet had caused.

The second time she was more thorough and managed to get a couple ribs onboard, as anchors, I assume.

“Um, excuse me, is it okay that you have bones in there too?”

“Don’t worry. They won’t break.”

Squeeze, squeeze, squeezing harder. Shelf lifting. I raised myself onto my tippy-toes to avoid my bosoms being ripped clean off. More squeezing. CRUNCH.

“What was that, bone?”

“Alright, just one more squeeze.”

“Fine, but I think milk might come out.”

“Oh, are you breast feeding?”

“No.”

After flattening my boobs into pancakes, I felt like a cartoon victim of a falling anvil. I patiently waited for them to snap back, or for an animated squirrel to come along, stick in a tube and pump them up.
There was no one, no squirrels or skunks or other well meaning rodents came to my rescue, so I shoved them back into my sports bra.

This is what all the hype is about, what my friends are dreading? The relief of being done was quickly cancelled out by the anxiety of knowing I had to and wait for my results.

Read Conclusion and Results at: THE SUBURBAN JUNGLE.

Myanmar/Burma Prisoners

Myanmar must release all prisoners of conscience. (17 October 2011 – AI)

Image (below) : Su Su Nway (third from left) was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. She was released along with more than 200 other political prisoners. However at least four of the six people in this picture continue to languish behind bars, solely for exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly. ©AAPPB

Myanmar released more than 6000 prisoners on 12 October 2011. But only about 200 of those released were political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience—that is, people held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

The government of Myanmar needs to release all prisoners of conscience immediately.

There are possibly as many as 1800 political prisoners still languishing behind bars in Myanmar. For decades political activists in Myanmar have been arbitrarily detained, tortured during interrogation, subjected to unfair trials and imprisoned in inhumane conditions in Myanmar’s notorious prisons.

Please TAKE ACTION

Last year, after Myanmar held its first elections in 20 years, the new government promised political reform. One of the key benchmarks for gauging the government’s sincerity about this promise is the release of all prisoners of conscience.

After this initial release of 200 political prisoners, expectations are high in Myanmar, across Asia and in other parts of the world. After years of campaigning our calls are gaining momentum.

Please TAKE ACTION

Let’s redouble our efforts to make the Myanmar government listen. Add your name to this petition calling on the Chairman of the newly-established Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to press the President of Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.

We aim to deliver your signatures to the Myanmar embassy in an ASEAN country on 13 November 2011, the first anniversary of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest.

Copies of this petition will also be sent to the Minister of Home Affairs, the Speaker of the Lower House, and the Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

Please TAKE ACTION

Red Velvet Couch

Excerpt from fabulous debut novel by Golden Globe nominated writer Joan Tewkesbury. Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time of Conflict and War

The Red Velvet Couch

Olivia sat on the red velvet, Victorian couch in Li Choo’s living room wearing Li Choo’s bright yellow silk kimono. From the window she could see the garden with pool and pond and the hole in the wall blown open from the hand grenade Olivia had returned to its unknown messenger. Ever since that day, Olivia had been coming to Li Choo’s house on a regular basis. At first, she’d been a little nervous. After all, two deaths in the same garden, she could be number three. But after a while, visiting the house became a ritual, the only thing Olivia looked forward to. She was obsessed. There was so much she didn’t know.

It started with the closet. On the day of Li Choo’s death, when Olivia looked inside to find a suitable something to cover up her dead husband’s mistress’s body, she’d been confronted with such a profusion of quantity and color that it haunted her. That night, she hadn’t been able to sleep so she’d slipped out of bed and left her house and sleeping children.

Making sure she hadn’t been followed, which was an ongoing occurrence since the assassination of her husband, she’d entered the side door of Li Choo’s house and went straight for the closet. First, she’d rummaged through the dressing gowns made out of silk or satin or chiffon with trimmings of marabou or fur or embroidered with lace. Next, she’d inspected every crotchless panty, every rhinestoned G-string, every garter belt and nippleless brassiere even though Olivia had no idea what these clothes were for. Unfortunately, the sun had broken over the horizon just as she found the mail-order catalog with pictures of models in the mysterious lingerie. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to stay away because the closet and its contents had grabbed hold of her imagination and wouldn’t leave, Olivia stacked everything in stacks by category and color so things would be easier to find when she came back.

At home, Olivia fixed breakfast for her children and went about her usual routine, but the closet and its contents bore into her psyche like a drill. Then, because she was the dead mayor’s widow and had been followed, she marched straight into the office of the Chief of Investigation and ordered him to order Li Choo’s house and all of its contents, “off limits.” Nothing was to be looked at or touched. Nothing was to disturb the essence of her late husband the mayor and since the Chief knew exactly where she would be, he could stop having her followed. Her request was odd, but convincing and, frankly, the Chief of Investigation was greatly relieved. Fearing of finding something he might have to investigate filled him with panic. So, if Olivia was too distracted to make them search for assassins, so much the better. Any excuse she wanted to use was all right with him and he could stop wasting all that man power documenting her every move.

Olivia’s obsession with the closet was fierce. Night after night she went back to plow through Li Choo’s belongings. She was so infatuated with what she couldn’t figure out, she went without sleep for weeks and when she appeared a little vague and groggy everyone just assumed she was in mourning. In truth, discovery was exhausting. This was a whole new world, a world she never knew existed.

After a few visits she couldn’t restrain herself and began to try on all the lacy contraptions using the catalog as a guide. At first it made her feel very important, as if she’d tapped into some sort of secret very few women would ever be able to understand. Certainly neither Mrs. Marquez nor any of the others in Elena would be smart enough to decipher the details.

Finally, Olivia felt so confident, she decided to inspect her mastery in front of the full-length mirror surrounded by electric lights on Li Choo’s bathroom wall. It was a mirror fit for a movie star, but unfortunately Olivia’s reflection didn’t cooperate. Her voluptuous body spilled out over the garments like a pudding trussed with multicolored string and none of the paraphernalia fit, which was very confusing because all they were made of were spaces.

Olivia wept in utter frustration. Attempting to try on the crotchless underwear, she hopped around on one leg only to discover both legs were trapped in the same opening and crushing her enormous black pubic bush with a tight pink stripe. Not to mention her voluminous breasts that spilled out of and on top of and underneath the two skimpy triangles of white rabbit fur linked by a line of lime green sequins that cut off her breathing. Furious, Olivia ripped the band of lace off her leg, tore off the top and sobbed angrily at her naked reflection. After that, she picked up the pile of spider web undies and threw them into the fireplace, lit a match and watched them go up in flames. Something about the blaze seemed to calm her. Looking through the kitchen cupboards, she discovered an assortment of exotic teas. She picked something with rosebuds and violets and let the fragrance pacify her confusion. Restored, Olivia went back to the closet and found a fine ivory satin robe. Not realizing it had belonged to her husband, she slipped into its smooth coolness and let it soothe her vanity. A robe was something she could understand and just before Olivia let herself drift off for a little nap, she decided that what she didn’t know didn’t matter. From now on she would just make things up and call it the truth.

Read more of EBBA AND THE GREEN DRESSES OF OLIVIA GOMEZ IN A TIME OF CONFLICT AND WAR.

The Change He Promised

Dear Gabriel,

President Obama is coming to San Francisco to have a $7500 a plate lunch with 200 high-dollar donors.

We’re going to greet him with a big rally outside his fundraiser to send an important message:

It’s time for the change he promised us: President Obama must stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

This is a great opportunity to deliver this important message directly to President Obama, and to his high-dollar donors who are in a unique position to talk to the president about this issue.

RSVP to join the rally on October 25th.

Here are the details:

What: President Obama “Yes you can Stop Keystone XL” rally.
Where: 3rd St. and Howard St., across from the W Hotel
When: Tuesday, October 25th 11:30 am
Why: Because Keystone XL isn’t CHANGE!

We’ll be printing signs and have buttons to hand out. Please RSVP so we know how many signs to print.

How appropriate that President Obama is having this fundraiser at the W Hotel.

Because if he approves the Keystone XL Pipeline it’s “W.” — not candidate Obama circa 2008 — that the President will be channeling.

The Keystone XL Pipeline — a desperate attempt to maintain our disastrous reliance on fossil fuels that will be “essentially game over” for the climate — is exactly what President Obama ran against in 2008.

The corruption and conflict of interest that we’ve seen in the State Department’s handling of the review process, are exactly the type of insider, closed-door cronyism and corruption that President Obama said we could all change.

That’s why so many of us spent so much time and money to work for his campaign in 2008.

It’s no secret that the Bay Area and Northern California were a huge sources of grassroots donations and energy for the campaign — with huge numbers of phone calls to swing states, huge numbers of people traveling to Nevada, Colorado — even Florida! — to get out the vote. And a whole lot of money.

Now President Obama is coming to the Bay, and we need to send this message to him, and his donors, loud and clear: “We want the change you promised us. You need to seize this opportunity for real leadership on energy and climate and reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

RSVP to join the rally on Tuesday, October 25th.

Thank you for continuing to fight for change and against the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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