Friday, January 30, 2009

Why is this okay?

I have really been questioning the kinds of things that are let go and exploited in the name of entertainment these days. The honor and respect of men and women, the innocence of children, consumerism and the lifestyle that is sold to people, racism, sexism, classism, and the sheer amount of money that is invested in and generated from this crap, all for profit, money at the expense of humanity. Goodness.

On a brighter note, this is exactly why people should stay dedicated in whatever field they are in, hold on to their moral values, and work for the betterment of all people God-willing! Si se puede si Dios quiere!

Rights group: 1.5 million people displaced by preparations for 2008 Beijing Olympics

GENEVA — Some 1.5 million Chinese have been forced from their homes during preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, a rights group said Tuesday.

China rejected the figures from the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions as "groundless" and said some 6,000 families had been compensated and properly resettled.

Some 6,037 households have been demolished since 2002 to make way for nine venues in the process of preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Read more here.

(Props to Zahra Billoo for sharing this information and insight)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This just makes me sick:

I really felt sick to my stomach when I read this:

"It wasn't just one cop attacking Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve. A new video shows that before Grant was killed, officer Tony Pirone punched him in the face without cause, hitting him so hard that he dropped to the ground. Experts have called it criminal. So why has the District Attorney said he's not pursuing charges?"
-James Rucker,, 01/28/2009

Please sign this petition to have your voice heard in this matter:

If this isn't a glaring example that our tax dollars need to be redirected away from wars and towards real, longterm solutions and investments (like education), I don't know what is. We have too many issues on the homefront, that's forreal.

And this for-profit sh*t called capitalism really needs to stop.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's time for a...


I've never in my life felt a new year start with more promise or more potential to be different from every year previous than this year. I'm sure they've happened before, but not in my 21 years.

With that potential for change comes sacrifice to realize it, and since different things need to be done to get different things to happen, I've decided to do things... well... differently. (Circular but logical, right?)

Over the past couple of days I've been analyzing my habits and comfort zones and seeing which habits work for me and which ones don't. I realized that I really need to break some of these stupid habits that really are holding me back instead of just staying comfortable. In addition to this, instead of my previously overcritical, overly self-demeaning approach to changing things about myself and breaking habits, I've found a couple that are actually indifferent and, actually, DON'T need to be changed for me to be happy. That's pretty cool!

I speak in vast generality so that you can maybe do the same for yourself and apply specificity wherever you see fit. It's gonna be a great and amazing year and there's no reason we should hold ourselves back from letting it be just that, we have enough out of our control to worry about as it is!

In hope, solidarity, advice and triumph,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Voices for Gaza": Post-Rally Reflections

I feel pretty blank right now, no words coming to mind really, no passion spilling out on the page. Today was a lot of things, mostly synonymous to all things wonderful (all praise is due to God). Mostly gorgeous rays of beauty emanating from the unity. We* can always be better, but I think what we were today was awesome; because we put others before ourselves, because so many said "what can I do" and did what ever they could (no task was taken up with hesitation, nor viewed as miniscule or unworthy of one's time), because Gaza was in our prayers, because we cared, and above all else, we did the best we could to work together and get as many people involved as we possibly could. We dared to cross lines we hesitated to cross before, and that made this week all the more special.

I pray that we don't get caught up or sidetracked by the small matters in life, and that we always keep things in perspective; that we remain in a constant struggle to remain humble and not lose focus by becoming arrogant or prideful; that we embrace truth and stand by it; that we remain steadfast and sincere in our efforts, and that this really was an open door, an opportunity to get together, to get to know one another, and to share each other's struggles.

No step is small, we can start a movement in our own lives and lifestyles, a revolution of the mind, body and soul, we can make a difference, never underestimate the power of unity.

I'm going to go to sleep now, but I look forward to getting right back to work for next week as soon as possible.

Peace & Blessings & Love

*We = EVERYONE who was involved in contributing their time, efforts, money, and/or presence for raising awareness about the horrific massacre of 780 and counting civilians in Gaza, 220+ of which are children. "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (may he rest in peace)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Realizing how little control we have over our lives. It's a tough reality that's settling deep.

One of the hardest things I've ever dealt with is looking into the future or looking back into the past and find myself staring point blank at a question mark.

Learning to let go and drop this fear of the unknown is quite a challenge.

I realize all I can do is do. To be. All I have is now, and clinging to whims and fancies of what may be has gotten me nowhere but stressing.

It's funny how I have in so, so many instances and periods of my life, thought I knew what was ahead, or thought I knew myself. Each time, life unfolded in ways I could never have imagined or dreamed up in a million years. Each time, I found out how wrong I was in thinking I knew what was right for me, when God had other plans.

It's hard to let go of what I've always thought and clung to. but it needs to happen now.

I need to let go and move on with my life. To be in the moment, to make the most of the present.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What's going on in Gaza

Also, to better understand the situation, here is an article by Richard Faulk about the events leading up to the massacre.

Cynthia McKinney - Eyewitness Report of Israel's Attack

Salams/peace guys and gals,

Russell thank you for posting about Gaza, it's really important that we keep it on our minds and spread the word about this atrocious massacre.

A couple things we all NEED to do:

1) Keep Palestinians and all of the oppressed people of the world in our prayers; pray that the oppressors are righted in their wrong, and that we are among those who relieve the oppressed, and never those who remain silent in the face of injustice.

2) Spread the word amongst your family and friends.

3) Hop on to whatever local efforts are being carried out. Hit up the nearest SJP, MSA, or whatever it may be.

4) Send a letter to our local representatives here. Call them at 202-224-3121. We can also find contact info for our Members of Congress by clicking here.

5) This one is from Send a letter to your local newspaper - click here for media contacts. Don't forget your first & last name,phone number, and the city & state you live in if you want your letter published.

And now, Senator Cynthia McKinney...

December 30, 2008: Oh What a Day! -from Cynthia McKinney

I'm so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that's exactly what I did.

When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me "are you afraid?" And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn't afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.

When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that's why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.

But sometimes it was rough, and we got behind on our schedule. We stayed on course, however, despite the roughness of the water and due to our exquisite captain.

There were no other ships or boats around us and night descended upon us all rather quickly. It was the darkest black and suddenly, out of nowhere, came searchlights disturbing our peace. The searchlights stayed with us for about half an hour or so. We knew they were Israeli ships. Who else would they be?

They were fast, and they would come close and then drop back. And then, they'd come close again. And then, all of a sudden there was complete blackness once again and all seemed right. The cat and mouse game went on for at least one half hour. What were they doing? And why?

Calm again. Black sky, black sea. Peace. And then, at that very moment, when all seemed right, out of nowhere we were rammed and rammed again and rammed again the last one throwing me off the couch, sending all our food up in the air; and all the plastic bags and tubs--evidence of sea sicknesses among the crew and passengers--flew all over the cabin and all over us. We'd been rammed by the Israelis. How did we know? Because they called us on the phone afterwards to tell us that we were engaging in subversive, terroristic activity. And if that if we didn't turn around right then and return to Larnaca, Cyprus, we would be fired upon. We quickly grabbed our lifevests and put them on. Then the captain announced that the boat was taking on water. We might have to evacuate. One of my mates told me to prepare to die. And I reflected that I have lived a good and full life. I have tasted freedom and know what it is. I was right with myself and my decision to join the Free Gaza movement.

I remembered my father's parting words, "You all will be sitting ducks." Just like the U.S.S. Liberty. We were engaged in peaceful activity, a harmless pleasure boat, carrying a load of hospital supplies for the people of Gaza, who, too are sitting ducks, currently being bombarded in aerial assault by the Israeli military.

It's been a long day for us. The captain was outstanding. Throughout it all, he remained stoic and calm, effective in every way. I didn't know how to put my life jacket on. One of the passengers kindly assisted me. Another of the passengers pointed out that the Israeli motors for those huge, fast boats was U.S. made--a gift to them from the U.S. And now they were using those motors to damage a pleasure boat outfitted with three tons of hospital supplies, one pediatrician, and two surgeons.

I have called for President-elect Obama to say something. The Palestinian people in the Gaza strip are seeing the worst violence in 60 years, it is being reported. To date, President-elect Obama has remained silent. The Israelis are using weapons supplied to them by the U.S. government. Strict enforcement of U.S. law would require the cessation of all weapons transfers to Israel. Adherence to international law would require the same. As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, let us remember that he said:

1. The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and

2. Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.

I implore the President-elect to not send Congress a budget that contains more weapons for Israel. We have so much more to offer. And I implore the Congress to vote "no" on any budget and appropriation bills that provide more weapons transfers, period.

Israel is able to carry out these intense military maneuvers because taxpayers in the U.S. give their hard-earned money to our Representatives in Congress and our Congress chooses to spend that money in this way. Let's stop it and stop it now. There's been too much blood shed. And while we still walk among the living, let us not remain silent about the things that matter.

We really can promote peace and have it if we demand it of our leaders.

Anna Baltzer on the Gaza Massacres

Please, everyone, stop what you're doing. This is not just any reportfrom Palestine, but the worst in my lifetime, the worst in 40 years.At this moment, Israel is raining bombs down on Gaza, an enclosed tinyarea that is home to 1.5 million men, women, and children, most ofthem innocent civilians. This space is tightly sealed by Israel, whichconstantly denies Gazans electricity, food, medicine, and the abilityto leave. Gaza is one big prison being bombed from above. The deathtoll is up to 428 in the past 7 days. That's more than the number ofIsraelis killed in the last 7 years. This is what I would call a massacre.
Yes, more Palestinians killed in 7 days than Israelis in 7 years, andyet no comments from President Bush or President-elect Obama.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice places blame solely on Hamas forholding Gazans "hostage," as if Israel's actions were beyond judgment.Would Rice ever respond to a Palestinian attack on Israelis by blamingthe Israeli government for holding its citizens hostage with theirarmy's violence?
I am writing you from Jordan. I arrived the day after the attacksbegan. The day before they began, my friend and colleague Hannah hadasked me to deliver a book of poetry to her friend Summer in Gaza,hoping I'd manage to make it on a Free Gaza boat. Since then, theseboats bringing unarmed witnesses to Gaza ( have beenattacked in international waters, and Summer's house has been blown topieces, her brother almost died under the rubble, and her fatherdesperately needs an operation but the hospitals are overflowing. Inevery home or shop I enter in Jordan, people are huddled watching thestories unfold: a family killed in their home, a university destroyed,a pharmacy blown to pieces, countless bloody babies screaming orworse, silent.
I wonder if people in the US are also seeing the bodies and faces or,as I fear, only some rubble and angry Gazans. The day after attacksbegan, Israel's largest newspaper Yediot Aharonot covered almost theentire front page with the words, "500,000 Israelis Under Attack!" Insmaller font, one could learn that in addition to 1 Israeli, 225Palestinians had also been killed. It was surreal. Consider where youare getting your news, and what is not being told to you.
For example, the stated purpose of the attack is to drive out Hamas,i.e. to kill anyone in Hamas and scare the rest into turning againstHamas. Not only does this tactic not work (brutality fostersviolence), but it clearly fits the definition of terrorism: unlawfulviolence intended to frighten or coerce a people or government inorder to achieve a political or ideological agenda. Israel isoperating as a terrorist state in the true sense of the word.
Hamas is also a terrorist organization by this definition, so it wouldbe easy to simplify the conflict as "an endless cycle of violence"were there no historical context. But there is a context, and thereare alternatives: Let us remember that Hamas was elected after anintentional shift away from violence towards a mainstream politicalagenda. Hamas stopped its attacks and began offering the Palestinianpeople an alternative to the corruption of Fatah. Hamas wasdemocratically elected and immediately strangled by a US-led boycott,preventing the government from functioning. Hamas continued to hold toits one-sided ceasefire (totaling almost 2 years), meanwhile the USand Israel began to train and arm the opposition government, Fatah,which they preferred. In response to plans for a coup in Gaza(anti-democratic takeover by the US-supported opposition government),Hamas secured its control (again, democratically-elected whether ornot we like them) over Gaza, and continues to offer Israel anindefinite ceasefire--no more violent attacks, period--if Israelsimply complies with international law. The Arab League (comprised of22 Arab nation members) has offered the same. These offers aredismissed by Israel and silenced in the US media. Israel says it hastried everything else, but it has not tried the most obvious:complying with international law and accepting repeated offers for apeaceful resolution.
As events unfold in Gaza neither the media nor the people are silenthere in Jordan, where people refuse to go on as if nothing werehappening to their brothers and sisters (sometimes literally--morethan 60% of Jordan's population is Palestinian refugees). Just one dayafter attacks began, the king of Jordan gave blood to send to Gaza andinspired hundreds of others to do the same (meanwhile President Bushwas on vacation in Texas). Spontaneous demonstrations have erupted atleast twice here in the capitol today, and thousands are protesting invarious major cities around the Middle East and around the world.
Please, wherever you are, do something. Write a letter to the editor.Get a large group to inundate your congressperson at once. Protest!There are demonstrations being organized around the US. If there isn'tone happening near you, then do what I would do: buy a poster-boardand large marker and write something on it ("Gazans Are People Too,""Massacre in Gaza: Silence is Complicity," "Our Weapons Are KillingPalestinian Children," or anything you can think of). Go outside andstand on a busy corner with it. Force others to confront the reality.Talk to people, invite them to join you. People around the world areempowered enough to take to the streets; we have no excuse not to. Thetime is now.