The Women of Turkey Won’t Give Up Without A Fight #Vaw


June 11, 2013 by  

When tens of thousands in Turkey took to protesting the government, beginning at the end of May, the demographics were astonishing to many global observers: At least half of the protesters are women. What is it about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government that has so many women fighting back? Sevi, a woman protestor who’s camping out in Gezi Park, told TIME,

The reason there are so many women out here is that this government is antiwomen. … They don’t want to see women in public spaces. They want to see them in the home. And women have had enough.

Turkish women have every right to be angry with their government. Erdoğan has voiced his opinion many times that abortions in the country should be banned and that women should have three children each. Last year Erdoğan said, “There is no difference between killing a baby in its mother’s stomach and killing a baby after birth.”

Erdoğan is also getting criticism for not doing enough to stop violence against women. About 39 percent of women in Turkey have been physically abused, according to a recent U.N. report. Turkish protesters have said their prime minister is attempting to bring conservative Islamic values to their secular state.

A Turkish protester shows off her tattoo that reads “K. Atatürk,” the signature of Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The tattoo has become a popular symbol for those who want to preserve a secular state in the country.

The protests began on May 28 in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul as a relatively small campaign of 100 people to stop the park’s 600 trees from being cut down to make way for a shopping mall. When police used tear gas and water cannons against these peaceful protesters and burned their tents down, the protests gained traction and soon transformed into what was clearly an anti-government movement.

Despite the Turkish deputy prime minister apologizing for the excessive police force, thousands of Turkish people are still protesting in the streets, chanting sayings such as “Dictator resign!” One of these protesters, Ozge Cesur, told The New York Times that she and her friends aren’t satisfied with the apology:

The apology that we have been waiting for a long time [for] came far too late. … We will stay here until Erdogan himself comes up and takes us seriously in making decisions.

After 11 days of protests, with more than 5,000 people injured and three dead, Erdoğan did finallyagree on Monday to meet with protesters. But his announcement sounded more like a threat than a promise to negotiate. Erdoğan has warned that his patience “has a limit” and that:

Those who attempt to sink the bourse [the stock market], you will collapse. [Some have accused the protesters of causing the recent downturn in Turkey's economy.] …. If we catch your speculation, we will choke you. No matter who you are, we will choke you.

But while Erdoğan doesn’t seem to be willing to back down, neither do those demonstrating.

Protester Ozlem Altiok, chatting with friends in Gezi Park about Erdoğan’s policies (including his call for women to each have three children), said, “Would he like more children like us?”

Photos of Turkish protesters by Flickr user Burak Su, under Creative Commons 2.0

 

A letter to Angelina Jolie by an Indian Transman #mustshare



Dear Angelina Jolie,

Thank you for coming out. I mean about your mastectomy. You have no
idea what this can mean for a transman like me who went through the
exact same procedure as yours; well almost!

You didn’t have to come out, but you did. Especially since during your
mastectomies you kept it private and carried on with your work. I know
how difficult it gets with film producer types. I am a filmmaker in
Mumbai and you won’t believe it, but once during an edit session, Mr.
Moneybags, finding me alone in the cutting room, asked if we could
compare our d*** sizes! He giggled and said he hadn’t ever seen one of
someone who has had a sex change operation.

Your piece in the New York Times ‘My Medical Choice’, undoubtedly must
have been that — a medical choice. You spent three months, since this
February, on a procedure called ‘Preventive Bilateral Mastectomy‘ ;
‘Preventive’ since you are the carrier of the BRCA1 gene that puts you
at 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer. I spent
several years trying to convince doctors that I needed a mastectomy
for preventive reasons too. Years of forced living in a gender
identity that wasn’t my own, began to immobilize me. In a society that
understands only two genders and in a medical system that sees
abnormality in everything outside of it, going on is eventually
impossible. But your risk of celebrity cancer turned out to be higher
than my risk of a commoner suicide. Still, I am happy for you. The
mere idea that someone can remove their breasts, at 87% risk or no
risk, is just good enough for me for now.

And of course you wrote this piece for women! And I am hoping that you
meant transwomen too, some of who I know would kill to have your new
breast implants. How atrocious is the idea being peddled that you
wrote it to benefit the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where your procedure
was performed, or for the biotech company, Myriad Genetics, which owns
a patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes giving them exclusive right to
develop diagnostic tests for, at a current cost of more than $3000 in
the USA. The fact that m o s t breast cancer seems to be sporadic and
has nothing to do with a BRCA1 mutation, pales beautifully in front of
your sheer courage to talk about your own mastectomy in the media.

It is interesting though that all the media attention has been on your
courage in losing your breasts, and not equally on your desire to have
them reconstructed. Your doctors could have expected you to simply get
back to the business of life without them. After all they were lost to
a very high possibility of a most dreaded disease. But they didn’t. If
you were non accepting of your loss, they could have put you through
that monster of an American psychiatric-diagnostic-manual called
DSM-4 ‘ to prove your mental illness and therefore the need to cure
you through breast reconstruction. But they didn’t. On the contrary,
they became your facilitators. They saw you, as you saw yourself, a
women, one with those very definitive markers of femininity : breasts.
Why is it that cosmetic surgeries for women skip the pathologisation
that is mandatory for trans people all over the world? Why is it that
medicine cannot facilitate trans people in the same way and grant them
the same dignity of self identity?

Just like many of my trans brothers, sisters and lovers, I become
complicit. I agreed to patholozise my gender identity. I agreed to let
the psychiatrist issue me a certificate for Gender Identity Dysphoria
[GID]. If I was to lose my breasts, I needed those gatekeepers to let
me in. You had the BRCA1 to open the big wide doors of reconstructive
surgery for you. And I had my GID certificate. I let them say, I am
mentally ill. I let them say it on paper. I signed on an affidavit
stating this was my consent and that I was totally responsible for
whatever the surgeries would result in.

In a world with greater understanding, removing my breasts should have
been seen as my ‘aesthetic choice’ ; a choice exercised in the
severely limited societal understanding of gender, as being either
only male or only female. But you’d agree that medicine being
organized on the central idea of disease or, as you now have made so
public, the possibility of it, is ill equipped at the moment, for such
fine abstractions as mine. I knew success when I saw my psychiatrist
scribble on his over qualified letterhead: “Diagnosis: G.I.D.’ Just
like you, I too finally, made a ‘medical choice’. That I was as smart
in 1997, as you are in 2013, makes me feel rather pleased with myself!
Perhaps, this is a sign? Perhaps I will be a celebrity soon! Perhaps I
will meet you at the next Cannes film festival and we can rule the
world together?! Two Celebrity Bilateral Mastectomy Survivors, with
reconstructed breasts on one, is better than none?! No?!

Satya is the founder & facilitator of the Indian Trans Group, Sampoorna

 

EXPOSED: Angelina Jolie part of a clever corporate scheme to protect billions in BRCA gene patents


 Influence Supreme Court decision (opinion)

Thursday, May 16, 2013(NaturalNews) Angelina Jolie’s announcement of undergoing a double mastectomy (surgically removing both breasts) even though she had no breast cancer is not the innocent, spontaneous, “heroic choice” that has been portrayed in the mainstream media. Natural News has learned it all coincides with a well-timed for-profit corporate P.R. campaign that has been planned for months and just happens to coincide with the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on the viability of the BRCA1 patent.

This is the investigation the mainstream media refuses to touch. Here, I explain the corporate financial ties, investors, mergers, human gene patents, lawsuits, medical fear mongering and thetrillions of dollars that are at stake here. If you pull back the curtain on this one, you find far more than an innocent looking woman exercising a “choice.” This is about protecting trillions in profits through the deployment of carefully-crafted public relations campaigns designed to manipulate the public opinion of women.

The signs were all there from the beginning of the scheme: Angelina Jolie’s highly polished and obviously corporate-written op-ed piece at the New York Times, the carefully-crafted talking points invoking “choice” as a politically-charged keyword, and the obvious coaching of even her husband Brad Pitt who carefully describes the entire experience using words like “stronger” and “pride” and “family.”

But the smoking gun is the fact that Angelina Jolie’s seemingly spontaneous announcement magically appeared on the cover of People Magazine this week — a magazine that is usually finalized for publication three weeks before it appears on newsstands. That cover, not surprisingly, uses the same language found in the NYT op-ed piece: “HER BRAVE CHOICE” and “This was the right thing to do.” The flowery, pro-choice language is not a coincidence.

What this proves is that Angelina’s Jolie’s announcement was a well-planned corporate P.R. campaign with carefully-crafted messages designed to influence public opinion. But what could Jolie be seeking to influence?

…how about trillions of dollars in corporate profits?

Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision to rule on patent viability for BRCA1 gene

Angelina Jolie’s announcement and all its carefully-crafted language had four notable immediate impacts:

1) It caused women everywhere to be terrified of breast cancer through the publishing of false statistics that drove fear into the hearts of anyone with breasts. (See below for explanation.)

2) It caused women to rush out and seek BRCA1 gene testing procedures. These tests just happen to be patented by a for-profit corporation called “Myriad Genetics.” Because of this patent, BRCA1 tests can cost $3,000 – $4,000 each. The testing alone is a multi-billion-dollar market, but only if the patent is upheld in an upcoming Supreme Court decision (see below).

3) It caused the stock price of Myriad Genetics (MYGN) to skyrocket to a 52-week high. “Myriad’s stock closed up 3% Tuesday, following the publication of the New York Times op-ed,” wrote Marketwatch.com.

4) It drove public opinion to influence the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision to rule in favor of corporate ownership of human genes (see more below).

Women all over the world are being duped into supporting Angeline Jolie, having no idea that what she’s really doing is selling out women to the for-profit cancer industry. But to fully understand what’s happening, you have to dig deeper…

Myriad Genetics sees stock price skyrocket thanks to Jolie, and Obamacare will funnel billions their way

“Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics (MYGN) holds the patent on the test that determined the actress had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer, as well as the genes themselves,” wrote MarketWatch.com.

And that’s only the beginning. If the U.S. Supreme Court can be influenced to uphold Myriad’s patent, it could mean a trillion-dollar industry over just the next few years. Even more, Myriad Genetics is reportedly “ripe for mergers” according to the financial press, because it’s part of the super-hot human genome industry.

“The world’s largest maker of DNA testing and analysis tools, Life Technologies Corp. said that it is set to be acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific for a record $13.6 billion,” writes MarketWatch.com. “A race that kicked into high gear more than 26 years ago is heating up, with foreign governments and corporations joining the U.S. in funding the quest to map all the human genomes. And even as the recent flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the genomics space has spurred returns, investors still have opportunities to profit from this multibillion-dollar industry.”

The higher Myriad’s stock price goes, the more profitable a merger becomes for its current owners. So Jolie’s P.R. stunt just happened to generate unknown millions of dollars in value for the very people who claim a patent monopoly over the breast cancer genes residing in the bodies of women. Coincidence? Hardly.

Obamacare mandates taxpayers pay for BRCA gene testing: yet another government handout to wealthy corporations

But here’s what’s even more crooked about all this: You know how Obama likes to talk “free market” but actually engages in so-called “crony capitalism” by handing out money to all his corporate buddies, Wall Street insiders and deep-pocketed campaign donors? Part of Obamacare — the “Affordable Care Act” — mandates that taxpayers pay for BRCA1 genetic testing!

Myriad Genetics, in other words, stands to receive a full-scale windfall of profits mandated by government and pushed into mainstream consciousness through a campaign of “medical terror” fronted by Angelina Jolie and the New York Times. Are you starting to see how this all fits together yet?

This is all one big coordinated corporate sellout of women, and it’s all being hidden by playing the “women’s power” card and using “choice” language to more easily manipulate women. Angelina Jolie, remember, is a key spokesperson for the United Nations, an organization already caught engaged inchild sex slavery and drug running. Although Jolie obviously isn’t engage in that sort of behavior, her job is to covertly influence American women into supporting a carefully-planned, plotted and executed corporate profit campaign that turns women’s bodies into profits.

Here’s why the Supreme Court decision puts trillions of dollars at stake…

Details on the upcoming Supreme Court decision

The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed a lawsuit in 2009, challenging the corporate ownership of human genes. Anyone who believes in women’s rights, human rights, civil rights or even the right to eat non-GMO foods should immediately agree that corporations should NOT be able to patent human genes and then use those patents to rake in billions of dollars in profits while stifling scientific research into those genes.

A question to all women reading this: Do you believe a corporation in Utah owns your body? If not, you should be opposed to corporate ownership of human genes. It also means you should oppose Angelina Jolie’s P.R. campaign because although she’s running a brilliant public relations campaign, behind the scenes her actions are feeding potentially trillions of dollars of profits directly into the for-profit human gene patenting industry that denies human beings ownership over their own genetic code.

The ACLU explains the basics of its lawsuit against Myriad Genetics as follows:

On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are unconstitutional and invalid. On November 30, 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear argument on the patentability of human genes. The ACLU argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 15, 2013. We expect a decision this summer.

On behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, women patients, cancer survivors, breast cancer and women’s health groups, and scientific associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals, we have argued that human genes cannot be patented because they are classic products of nature. The suit charges that the gene patents violate the First Amendment and stifle diagnostic testing and research that could lead to cures and that they limit women’s options regarding their medical care.

Got that? If the Supreme Court rules against Myriad Genetics, it will cause a multi-billion-dollar breast cancer genetic testing industry to collapse virtually overnight. This means a huge loss for not just Myriad, but also many other human gene corporations that wish to exploit the human body — including the bodies of women — for monopolistic profits. (All patents are government-granted monopolies.) Ultimately, trillions of dollars in corporate gene patents are at stake here.

Patenting human genes is huge business

Today, about 20 percent of your genes are already patented by corporations and universities. As the ACLU explains, “A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene. As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents.”

This means that when corporations own patents on human genes, it stifles scientific research while granting that corporation a monopoly over the “intellectual property” encoded in your own DNA! (How criminal is that? You decide…)

What this means is that if the Supreme Court rules against Myriad, it would set a precedent that woulddismantle the entire human gene patenting industry, affecting trillions of dollars in future profits.

This, I believe, is the real reason behind Angelina Jolie’s announcement. It seems designed to invoke women’s emotional reactions and create a groundswell of support for corporate-owned genes, thereby handing these corporations a Supreme Court precedent that will ensure trillions in future profits. It’s a for-profit PR stunt that tries to trick women into supporting a corporate system of patents and monopolies that claims, right now, to own portions of the bodies of every woman living today.

While most media outlets have no clue about the patent issues at stake here, the Detroit Free Presstook notice, saying:

“The Hollywood star’s decision to get tested for a breast cancer gene mutation, undergo a double mastectomy and then write about it calls attention to a case now pending before the court. The justices have just weeks to decide if Myriad Genetics’ patent on the two genes that can identify an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer is legal. Critics complain that the company’s monopoly leaves them as the sole source of the $4,000 tests needed to determine each woman’s risk.”

Lying with statistics: Jolie’s 87% risk exaggeration

There’s more to this story than just the patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Angelina Jolie is also using blatantly misleading statistics to terrify women into thinking their breasts might kill them.

In the NYT op-ed piece, Jolie claims her doctor told her she has an “87% risk” of developing breast cancer. But what she didn’t tell you is that this number doesn’t apply to the entire population: it’s actually old data derived almost exclusively from families that were previously documented to have very high risks of breast cancer to begin with.

A study published on the National Human Genome Research Institute website and conducted by scientists from the National Institutes of Health reveals that breast cancer risks associated with BRCA1 genes are significantly lower than what’s being hyped up by Jolie and the mainstream media.

In fact, in a large room of 600 women, only ONE will likely have a BRCA mutation in her genetic code. The actual incidence is 0.125 to 0.25 out of 100 women, or 1 in 400 to 1 in 800. I used 600 as the average of 400 and 800.

And out of that 1 in 600 women who has the mutation, her risk of breast cancer is only 56 percent, not 78 percent as claimed by Jolie. But 13 percent of women without the BRCA mutation get breast cancer anyway, according to this scientific research, so the increased risk is just 43 out of 100 women.

So what we’re really talking about here is 1 in 600 women having a BRCA gene mutation, then less than half of those getting cancer because of it. In other words, only about 1 in 1200 women will be affected by this.

Yet thanks to people like Jolie and the fear-mongering mainstream media, women all across the nation have been terrified into believing their breasts might kill them and the best way to handle the problem is to cut them off!

This, my friends, is the essence of doomsday fear mongering. This issue affects less than one-tenth of one percent of women but is being riled up into a nationwide fear campaign that just happens to feed profits into the for-profit cancer diagnosis and treatment industry, not to mention the monopolistic human gene patenting cartels.

That’s the real story of what’s happening here. Don’t expect to read this in the New York Times.

Corporate media refuses to mention real prevention and treatment options

As part of the breast cancer fear mongering and treatment scam now being run across the mainstream media, nearly all media sources are prohibiting any mention of holistic or natural options for treatment or prevention.

Sure, the media talks about “options,” but all those options just happen to lead back to the for-profit cancer industry. As an example, read this story by ABC News, part of the lying mainstream media that misinforms women and pushes a corporate agenda:

If you do test positive for BRCA, you have options, and you don’t necessarily have to go the Jolie route. Some women choose not to have surgery. Instead, they increase cancer surveillance with imaging tests. These include regular mammograms to test for breast cancer, and regular pelvic sonograms and blood-tests to watch for ovarian cancer.

Nowhere in this article does ABC News mention ways to suppress the BRCA1 gene by, for example, eating raw cruciferous vegetables containing Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), a potent anti-cancer nutrient that halts breast cancer in its tracks. Nowhere does ABC News mention vitamin D which prevents nearly 4 out of 5 cancers of all types, including breast cancer.

Nope, the “options” being pushed by mainstream media are nothing more than mammograms, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy — all owned and run by the for-profit cancer industry that feeds on women and exploits their bodies for profit.

Nor is their any discussion of the total scam of the “pink ribbons” cancer cure industry which is primarily focused on giving women cancer through “free mammograms.” As any scientist or physicist already knows, mammograms cause cancer because they emit ionizing radiation directly into the breast and heart tissues. Get enough mammograms done and sooner or later they will detect breast cancer because they caused it! To date, 1.3 million women have been harmed by mammography.

Thanks, Angelina, for keeping the wool pulled over the eyes of women everywhere while selling out to for-profit, monopolistic, corporate interests that incessantly seek to exploit women for profit.

Photo credit: PEOPLE Magazine cover, used under Fair Use for public commentary and education.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/040365_Angelina_Jolie_gene_patents_Supreme_Court_decision.html#ixzz2TiCfqwCS

 

How the US Turned Three Pacifists Into Violent Terrorists


By Fran Quigley, Common Dreams

16 May 13

 

n just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.

Here is how it happened.

In the early morning hours of Saturday June 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property. Y-12, called the Fort Knox of the nuclear weapons industry, stores hundreds of metric tons of highly enriched uranium and works on every single one of the thousands of nuclear weapons maintained by the U.S.

Describing themselves as the Transform Now Plowshares, the three came as non-violent protestors to symbolically disarm the weapons. They carried bibles, written statements, peace banners, spray paint, flower, candles, small baby bottles of blood, bread, hammers with biblical verses on them and wire cutters. Their intent was to follow the words of Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Sr. Megan Rice has been a Catholic sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus for over sixty years. Greg Boertje-Obed, a married carpenter who has a college age daughter, is an Army veteran and lives at a Catholic Worker house in Duluth Minnesota. Michael Walli, a two-term Vietnam veteran turned peacemaker, lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington DC.

In the dark, the three activists cut through a boundary fence which had signs stating “No Trespassing.” The signs indicate that unauthorized entry, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

No security arrived to confront them.

So the three climbed up a hill through heavy brush, crossed a road, and kept going until they saw the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) surrounded by three fences, lit up by blazing lights.

Still no security.

So they cut through the three fences, hung up their peace banners, and spray-painted peace slogans on the HEUMF. Still no security arrived. They began praying and sang songs like “Down by the Riverside” and “Peace is Flowing Like a River.”

When security finally arrived at about 4:30 am, the three surrendered peacefully, were arrested, and jailed.

The next Monday July 30, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were arraigned and charged with federal trespassing, a misdemeanor charge which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail. Frank Munger, an award-winning journalist with the Knoxville News Sentinel, was the first to publicly wonder, “If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant’s core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant’s security against more menacing intruders.”

On Wednesday August 1, all nuclear operations at Y-12 were ordered to be put on hold in order for the plant to focus on security. The “security stand-down” was ordered by security contractor in charge of Y-12, B&W Y-12 (a joint venture of the Babcock and Wilcox Company and Bechtel National Inc.) and supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

On Thursday August 2, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli appeared in court for a pretrial bail hearing. The government asked that all three be detained. One prosecutor called them a potential “danger to the community” and asked that all three be kept in jail until their trial. The US Magistrate allowed them to be released.

Sr. Megan Rice walked out of the jail and promptly admitted to gathered media that the three had indeed gone onto the property and taken action in protest of nuclear weapons. “But we had to – we were doing it because we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there, that’s our obligation,” Rice said. She also challenged the entire nuclear weapons industry: “We have the power, and the love, and the strength and the courage to end it and transform the whole project, for which has been expended more than 7.2 trillion dollars,” she said. “The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases, which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not exist. For this we give our lives – for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons.”

Then the government began increasing the charges against the anti-nuclear peace protestors.

The day after the Magistrate ordered the release of Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli, a Department of Energy (DOE) agent swore out a federal criminal complaint against the three for damage to federal property, a felony punishable by zero to five years in prison, under 18 US Code Section 1363.

The DOE agent admitted the three carried a letter which stated, “We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war. Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based on war-making and empire-building.”

Now, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were facing one misdemeanor and one felony and up to six years in prison.

But the government did not stop there. The next week, the charges were enlarged yet again.

On Tuesday August 7, the U.S. expanded the charges against the peace activists to three counts. The first was the original charge of damage to Y-12 in violation of 18 US Code 1363, punishable by up to five years in prison. The second was an additional damage to federal property in excess of $1000 in violation of 18 US Code 1361, punishable by up to ten years in prison. The third was a trespassing charge, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison under 42 US Code 2278.

Now they faced up to sixteen years in prison. And the actions of the protestors started to receive national and international attention.

On August 10, 2012, the New York Times ran a picture of Sr. Megan Rice on page one under the headline “The Nun Who Broke into the Nuclear Sanctum.” Citing nuclear experts, the paper of record called their actions “the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex.”

At the end of August 2012, the Inspector General of the Department of Energy issued at comprehensive report on the security breakdown at Y-12. Calling the peace activists trespassers, the report indicated that the three were able to get as far as they did because of “multiple system failures on several levels.” The cited failures included cameras broken for six months, ineptitude in responding to alarms, communication problems, and many other failures of the contractors and the federal monitors. The report concluded that “Ironically, the Y-12 breach may have been an important “wake-up” call regarding the need to correct security issues at the site.”

On October 4, 2012, the defendants announced that they had been advised that, unless they pled guilty to at least one felony and the misdemeanor trespass charge, the U.S. would also charge them with sabotage against the U.S. government, a much more serious charge. Over 3000 people signed a petition to U.S. Attorney General Holder asking him not to charge them with sabotage.

But on December 4, 2012, the U.S. filed a new indictment of the protestors. Count one was the promised new charge of sabotage. Defendants were charged with intending to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national defense of the United States and willful damage of national security premises in violation of 18 US Code 2155, punishable with up to 20 years in prison. Counts two and three were the previous felony property damage charges, with potential prison terms of up to fifteen more years in prison.

Gone entirely was the original misdemeanor charge of trespass. Now Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli faced up to thirty-five years in prison.

In a mere five months, government charges transformed them from misdemeanor trespassers to multiple felony saboteurs.

The government also successfully moved to strip the three from presenting any defenses or testimony about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons. The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a document they called “Motion to Preclude Defendants from Introducing Evidence in Support of Certain Justification Defenses.” In this motion, the U.S. asked the court to bar the peace protestors from being allowed to put on any evidence regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons, the immorality of nuclear weapons, international law, or religious, moral or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, the Nuremberg principles developed after WWII, First Amendment protections, necessity or US policy regarding nuclear weapons.

Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli argued against the motion. But, despite powerful testimony by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a declaration from an internationally renowned physician and others, the Court ruled against defendants.

Meanwhile, Congress was looking into the security breach, and media attention to the trial grew with a remarkable story in the Washington Post, with CNN coverage and AP and Reuters joining in.

The trial was held in Knoxville in early May 2013. The three peace activists were convicted on all counts. Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli all took the stand, admitted what they had done, and explained why they did it. The federal manager of Y-12 said the protestors had damaged the credibility of the site in the U.S. and globally and even claimed that their acts had an impact on nuclear deterrence.

As soon as the jury was dismissed, the government moved to jail the protestors because they had been convicted of “crimes of violence.” The government argued that cutting the fences and spray-painting slogans was property damage such as to constitute crimes of violence so the law obligated their incarceration pending sentencing.

The defense pointed out that Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli had remained free since their arrest without incident. The government attorneys argued that two of the protestors had violated their bail by going to a congressional hearing about the Y-12 security problems, an act that had been approved by their parole officers.

The three were immediately jailed. In its decision affirming their incarceration pending their sentencing, the court ruled that both the sabotage and the damage to property convictions were defined by Congress as federal crimes of terrorism. Since the charges carry potential sentences of ten years or more, the Court ruled there was a strong presumption in favor of incarceration which was not outweighed by any unique circumstances that warranted their release pending sentencing.

These non-violent peace activists now sit in jail as federal prisoners, awaiting their sentencing on September 23, 2013.

In ten months, an 82 year old nun and two pacifists had been successfully transformed by the U.S. government from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism.

 

83-year-old nun convicted of sabotage for breach of US atomic complex #WTFnews


Published time: May 09, 2013 01:07, RT

Three activists, including an 83-year-old nun, who broke into a US nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee were convicted on Wednesday of interfering with national security.

In what The New York Times labeled the biggest security breach in the history of the atomic complex, the trio broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28, 2012 and defaced a uranium processing plant.

The Y-12 facility has been in operation since 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, and today is responsible for both the production and maintenance of all uranium parts for the entire US nuclear weapons arsenal. Over the years, the facility has also been the target of nonviolent anti-nuclear protests.

Now, a jury in Tennessee has charged the three protesters with sabotaging the plant, with a second charge of damaging federal property.

Defense attorneys for the three activists – Sister Megan Rice, 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, 64 – maintained that the prosecution had overreached.

“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” defense lawyer Francis Lloyd said.

“You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me,” he added

From left to right: Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed

From left to right: Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed

 

 

Defense attorneys also noted that, once the three refused to plead guilty to trespassing, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, the prosecution introduced the charge of sabotage, which carries a maximum prison term of twenty years. They believed the higher charge should have been dismissed.

According to the Associated Press, which provided details of the court proceedings, the three activists have no remorse for their actions, and were pleased to have reached one of the most secure areas of the facility.

Prosecutor Jeff Theodore noted that the trio’s fate could have been far worse, as that area of the facility allowed guards to use deadly force.

“They’re lucky, and thank goodness they’re alive, because they went into the lethal zone,” said Theodore.

The three defendants spent two hours inside Y-12, during which time they hung banners, cut through security fences, strung crime-scene tape and sprayed “baby bottles full of human blood” on the exterior portion of the facility.

Boertje-Obed, who is a house painter from Duluth, Minnesota, explained why they sprayed the blood.

The reason for the baby bottles was to represent that the blood of children is spilled by these weapons,” he said.

While inside the most secure portion of the facility, the three activists managed to hammer off what is described as a “small chunk” of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

During cross examination, Sister Rice stated that she wished she had not waited so long to stage a protest within the plant.

“My regret was I waited 70 years,” she said.”It is manufacturing which can only cause death.”

Prosecutors argued that the breach of security was serious, and caused the plant to shut down for two weeks as security staff were re-trained and defense contractors replaced.

Meanwhile, federal officials maintain that there was never any danger of the three activists reaching materials that could be detonated or used to construct an improvised bomb.

China’s ‘Leftover Women’ fight bullshit with humor #Vaw #Womenrights


By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
Published: April 23, 2013, NYT

BEIJING — For years, single Chinese women in their mid- to late-20s have endured being called “shengnu,” or “leftover women,” by relatives, by the state-run media and by society. The message is : Marry, ideally by 25, or you’re on the shelf.

Some are starting to push back.

“I don’t accept that definition,” said Li Yue, 34, who works at a nongovernmental organization in Beijing. “It’s really ridiculous. Who says I’m leftover, and by whom? I don’t feel I’m leftover, I feel I’m living the life I want.”

“It’s really annoying,” said Wang Man, 31, an employee of a poverty relief N.G.O. in Beijing. “By now though, I don’t care, as I think there’s a plot behind it. It’s an admonishment to women, it’s telling us what to do, where and when. Everyone is trying to get us to sacrifice ourselves, to look after children, husbands, old people.”

China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women, according to official news reports — largely the result of gender selective abortion, with many parents preferring a son to a daughter. So why is the phenomenon of “leftover women” apparently so widespread? Aren’t desperate men snapping up available women?

Not exactly. Traditional attitudes demand that a man earn more than a woman, meaning that as women earn increasingly more they are pricing themselves out of the marriage market.

But as a result, partly, of the increasingly defiant attitudes of women like Ms. Liu and Ms. Wang toward a term that many still find terribly hurtful, a riposte to “leftover women” has been born — and it’s a clever one. Yes, they’re saying, we’re “shengnu.” But that’s “sheng” as in “victorious,” not “leftover.”

The pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description is made possible by the fact that “sheng” has different meanings in Chinese depending on the written character: either “leftover” or “victorious” (or “successful,” as some prefer). Chinese is filled with homonyms, making punning a popular pastime.

The redefining of shengnu has been abetted by a television series, started last July, that translates as “The Price of Being a Victorious Woman.” It’s an exploration of the romantic life and career of the fictitious, unmarried Lin Xiaojie, played by the Taiwanese actress Chen Qiao En. In the series, the quirky, pretty Ms. Lin has troubled romantic encounters with attractive men. But along the way she builds a successful career.

While some consider the series overly sappy, it has had the effect of spreading the concept of “victorious women” as a morale-boosting alternative to “leftover women,” and delivering unmarried Chinese women more self-respect.

“In the series, the perfect metamorphosis of Lin Xiaojie from a ‘leftover woman’ to a ‘victorious woman’ shows you that in the working world too, it’s better to be strong and in charge of your destiny than to let other people control your future,” runs a summary of the series on the Web site of iQiyi.com, a major Chinese film and TV portal. It offers 10 pieces of practical advice to young women, including: Don’t be bad but don’t be too good, either. Learn not to be influenced by your colleagues. Don’t fall in love with your boss.

Even the state-run media, which have long issued lugubrious warnings to young women on the perils of becoming a “leftover woman,” are — slowly — joining in.

The official microblog site of People’s Daily recently displayed a post suggesting that “leftover women” needn’t despair.

“Leftover women, don’t be tragic,” it said. “There are 20 million more men under 30 than women in China. So how can there be so many ‘leftover women?”’ It provided a common explanation: “Isn’t it because they’re not ‘leftover’ but ‘victorious’, and their requirements for partners are very high?”

But it continued, in a less judgmental vein: “They’re free, and can stand on their own feet. As China modernizes fast, ‘leftover women’ may turn into a positive term.”

It’s better to be “victorious” than “leftover,” said Ms. Liu, the N.G.O. worker. But overall, she’d rather not have to choose.

“I think it’s a very positive word,” she said. “But it’s also kind of odd because I never thought of this as a victory or some kind of a struggle.”

“We should have the right to choose what we want to do. So do we really need such a power-filled word as ‘victorious’ to describe something so normal?”

Ms. Wang agreed. “I’ve heard of it and I think it’s O.K., but I don’t think it’s a question of victory or defeat,” she said. “It’s just a way of life. If I had to choose, though, I’d tend toward ‘victorious’ for sure. Still, it all feels a bit tiring.”

Meanwhile, there are still many over-25-year-olds, fretting under strong societal pressure to marry, who have internalized the cultural and social values that they are “on the shelf.” China’s minimum marriage age for women is 20, so the window of opportunity for those who want to escape labeling is small.

For them, “shengnu,” with its double meaning, is, at best, neutral.

“I’m not completely proud of it,” said Zhou Wen, 27 and unmarried, a secretary at an American marketing company in Beijing, “but it is at least a neutral word. Not bad at all.”

Monsanto Bullies Small Farmers Over Planting Harvested GMO Seeds


by Puck Lo, CorpWatch Blog
March 26th, 2013

“Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers.” New report by Center for Food Safety.

Does Monsanto own all future generations of genetically modified seeds that it sells? The Missouri-based agribusiness giant wants farmers to pay a royalty to plant any seed that descended from a patented original. The legal decision has ramifications for other patented “inventions” that reproduce themselves like strands of DNA.

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to side with Monsanto in oral arguments heard this past February in a lawsuit that the world’s largest seed company has brought against Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75 year old farmer in Indiana, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on a small farm of 600 acres (242 hectares).

The impending court decision, which will probably come this June, has sparked alarm among consumer advocates.

“Judges don’t understand agriculture,” says Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, a Washington DC based watchdog group. “The Monsantos of the world have everyone convinced through a massive misinformation campaigns that biotech crops are essential to feed the world, and patents are necessary for biotech crops. So there’s this patina of virtuous innovation when in fact what biotechnology is really used for primarily is to develop pesticide-promoting crops.”

The crop in question is Roundup Ready soybeans, which are genetically-altered to be resistant to glyphosate, the main chemical in Roundup, a pesticide also manufactured by Monsanto.

Bowman first fought back when Monsanto sued him in 2007 for patent infringement. At the time, Bowman was a regular Monsanto customer. Like the 275,000 other U.S. farmers who buy “Roundup Ready” seeds, Bowman bought his seeds from Monsanto and signed a contract stating that he would not save Roundup seeds to replant. He didn’t.

But from 1999 to 2007, in addition to his usual order of Roundup Ready soybeans for seed, Bowman purchased commodity-grade soybeans, called “commodity grain,” from a local grain elevator where farmers like himself sell their crops. Typically, commodity grain is used for animal feed. Bowman, however, decided to use the commodity grain – a mix comprising of many different varieties of soybeans including some Roundup Ready seeds – to plant a second, lower yield soybean harvest later in the season.

What I wanted was a cheap source of seed,” Bowman told National Public Radio, a U.S. network.

Roundup Ready was first marketed in 1996, and it was a hit with farmers in the U.S., the largest producer of genetically modified food in the world. These days, more than 90 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans are Roundup Ready, Monsanto said in court documents. As a result, organic farmers say, it’s getting harder to find diverse strains of traditional, heirloom soybeans.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that some of the soybeans Bowman took home from the grain elevator contained Monsanto’s patented soybeans. For eight years, Bowman planted the commodity-grade soybeans for his second harvest, sprayed Roundup on them, harvested the plants that grew and kept the seeds they produced to plant later. It’s these “third generation” seeds that are at the heart of the Supreme Court case now.

Bowman saw nothing wrong with what he was doing. “All through history we have always been allowed to go to an elevator and buy commodity grain and plant it,” he told the New York Times.

Not any more, if companies like Monsanto who control most of the global commercial seed market, have their way. The big seed companies use a strategy to attack seed savers that consists of three stages: “investigations; coerced settlements; and, if that fails, litigation,” says the Center for Food Safety.

To date, in the U.S., Monsanto has sued 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses for alleged seed patent violation. Monsanto has won every single case. The company was awarded nearly $24 million from just 72 of those judgments, the Center for Food Safety found.

Additionally, Freese estimates that as many as 4,500 small farmers who could not afford legal representation have been forced to accept out-of-court settlements. He estimates, based on Monsanto’s documents, that those farmers paid Monsanto between $85 and $160 million in out-of-court settlements.

“As early as 2003, Monsanto had a department of 75 employees with a budget of $10 million for the sole purpose of pursuing farmers for patent infringement,” the Center for Food Safety stated in a new report, “Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers.” “Agrichemical companies earn billions of dollars each year, and farmers cannot possibly compete against such resources.”

“Patents are necessary to ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products,” the company states on its website in its defense. “Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day in research and development that ultimately benefits farmers and consumers. Without the protection of patents, this would not be possible.”

The Center for Food Safety wants federal, state and local governments to work together to regulate the biotechnology industry, using a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1970 as a guideline. The 42 year old Plant Variety Protection Act allowed intellectual property laws to be applied to new and distinct plants.

But it had an exemption for farmers to save seeds of such plants and replant them so long as they do not resell the seed. Plant breeders are also allowed to use protected seed for further breeding work. The law was designed to protect one seed company – say Monsanto – from another – like DuPont. This law did not view farmers as competitors to companies.

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-hybrid plants could be patented. The final decision was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who incidentally  worked as an attorney for Monsanto in the 1970s. Since then, courts have tended to side with seed companies suing for patent infringement.

“This (Plant Variety Protection Act) has been largely sidelined now by the patent system,” says Freese. “Now companies with patents have this inordinate control over seeds, and they can criminalize seed saving.

Bowman spent $31,000 of his own money on legal fees before a law firm agreed to defend him for free. If Monsanto wins the case against him, he’ll have to pay almost $85,000 to the corporation, which made $7 billion in profits in fiscal year 2012.

Bowman’s legal argument rests on a 150-year old Supreme Court common law known as the “patent exhaustion doctrine.” His lawyer, Mark P. Walters, argued that Monsanto’s patent did not apply to seeds descended from Roundup Ready soybeans that were then sold to a grain elevator and mixed with other soybeans.

Monsanto contended that Bowman, by growing and saving seeds from the commodity soybeans he bought from the grain elevator, was making “copies” of the original, patented Monsanto product.

Two lower courts agreed with Monsanto. In 2009, district court in Indiana awarded the company more than $84,000. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent law, upheld the decision in 2011.

In October 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, despite objections made by the Obama administration, which said the judges should let the previous rulings stand. The U.S. government filed a friend of the court brief in support of Monsanto, stating that “the Court’s decision could also affect the enforcement of patents for man-made cell lines, DNA molecules, some nanotechnologies and other technologies that involve self-replicating features.”

Not surprisingly, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Business Software Alliance, Intellectual Property Owners Association and other industry and research groups also filed friend of the court briefs on Monsanto’s side.

On February 19, Supreme Court justices heard both sides of the case.

“Without the ability to limit reproduction of soybeans containing this patented trait, Monsanto could not have commercialized its invention, and never would have produced what is, by now, the most popular agricultural technology in America,” Monsanto’s lawyer and former U.S. solicitor general, Seth P. Waxman, told the court.

Waxman was allowed to talk uninterrupted at length, “which is usually a sign of impending victory,” the New York Times reported.

In contrast, the justices fired a volley of skeptical questions at Bowman’s attorney, Mark P. Walters. When Walters argued that Monsanto’s patent didn’t apply to subsequent generations of seeds after the initial sale, Antonin Scalia, another judge, interrupted him.

“Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if, as soon as they sold the first one, anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?” Scalia asked.

Later, Walters argued that Bowman was “making use” of the commodity grain that he bought on the open market when he planted it, not making a copy of an original Monsanto seed. He was rebuked by Stephen Breyer, another of the judges.

“You can feed it to animals, you can feed it to your family, make tofu turkeys,” Breyer interjected. “But… you can’t pick up those seeds that you’ve just bought and throw them in a child’s face. You can’t do that because there’s a law that says you can’t do it. Now, there’s another law that says you cannot make copies of a patented invention.”

“If the concept is the sale of a parent plant exhausts the patentholder’s rights… we would have to go all the way back to the very first Roundup Ready plant that was created,” said Melissa Arbus Sherry, the lawyer representing the Obama administration. “Every single Roundup Ready seed in existence today is the progeny of that one parent plant and… that would eviscerate patent protections. There would be no incentive to invest, not just in Roundup Ready soybeans or not even agricultural technology.”

Walters believes there is still a possibility that the Supreme Court could reverse the decision or send the case back to the lower courts for retrial. He said three of the justices appeared to sympathize with the idea that a farmer ought to be able to sell, plant or grow new seeds from ones he buys on the open market.

“There are many interests: biotech, seed companies, large and small farmers. They’re not aligned,” Walters told CorpWatch. “Small farmers are not very well organized. They’re not a strong voice in Congress. Right now one company with a particular stake is trying to make a case based on a set of particular facts.”

Both Walters and Freese agree that in today’s political climate, it would be an uphill battle to pass legislation that would regulate the powerful biotech industry. Last year, Monsanto, other agribusiness and food companies spent more than $45 million to defeat a proposition in California that would have required labels on some genetically modified foods sold at stores.

Meanwhile, Bowman has to drive out of the state of Illinois – to Ohio -  in order to find cheap, non-GMO commodity soybeans he can plant without the threat of a patent infringement suit. Every time, he does this, he passes numerous grain elevators, all of which brim with soybeans.

 

#Aaron Swartz, Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide


Michael Francis McElroy/The New York Times

Aaron Swartz in 2009. One person remembered him as a “a complicated prodigy.”

 

By 
Published: January 12, 2013

An uncle, Michael Wolf, said that Mr. Swartz, 26, had apparently hanged himself, and that a friend of Mr. Swartz’s had discovered the body.

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.

Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

“Aaron built surprising new things that changed the flow of information around the world,” said Susan Crawford, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who served in the Obama administration as a technology adviser. She called Mr. Swartz “a complicated prodigy” and said “graybeards approached him with awe.”

Mr. Wolf said he would remember his nephew, who had written in the past about battling depression and suicidal thoughts, as a young man who “looked at the world, and had a certain logic in his brain, and the world didn’t necessarily fit in with that logic, and that was sometimes difficult.”

The Tech, a newspaper of the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyreported Mr. Swartz’s death early Saturday.

Mr. Swartz led an often itinerant life that included dropping out of Stanford, forming companies and organizations, and becoming a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

He formed a company that merged with Reddit, the popular news and information site. He also co-founded Demand Progress, a group that promotes online campaigns on social justice issues — including a successful effort, with other groups, to oppose a Hollywood-backed Internet piracy bill.

But he also found trouble when he took part in efforts to release information to the public that he felt should be freely available. In 2008, he took on PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, the repository for federal judicial documents.

The database charges 10 cents a page for documents; activists like Carl Malamud, the founder of public.resource.org, have long argued that such documents should be free because they are produced at public expense. Joining Mr. Malamud’s efforts to make the documents public by posting legally obtained files to the Internet for free access, Mr. Swartz wrote an elegant little program to download 20 million pages of documents from free library accounts, or roughly 20 percent of the enormous database.

The government shut down the free library program, and Mr. Malamud feared that legal trouble might follow even though he felt they had violated no laws. As he recalled in a newspaper account, “I immediately saw the potential for overreaction by the courts.” He recalled telling Mr. Swartz: “You need to talk to a lawyer. I need to talk to a lawyer.”

Mr. Swartz recalled in a 2009 interview, “I had this vision of the feds crashing down the door, taking everything away.” He said he locked the deadbolt on his door, lay down on the bed for a while and then called his mother.

The federal government investigated but did not prosecute.

In 2011, however, Mr. Swartz went beyond that, according to a federal indictment. In an effort to provide free public access to JSTOR, he broke into computer networks at M.I.T. by means that included gaining entry to a utility closet on campus and leaving a laptop that signed into the university network under a false account, federal officials said.

Mr. Swartz turned over his hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and JSTOR declined to pursue the case. But Carmen M. Ortiz, a United States attorney, pressed on, saying that “stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”

Founded in 1995, JSTOR, or Journal Storage, is nonprofit, but institutions can pay tens of thousands of dollars for a subscription that bundles scholarly publications online. JSTOR says it needs the money to collect and to distribute the material and, in some cases, subsidize institutions that cannot afford it. On Wednesday, JSTOR announced that it would open its archives for 1,200 journals to free reading by the public on a limited basis.

Mr. Malamud said that while he did not approve of Mr. Swartz’s actions at M.I.T., “access to knowledge and access to justice have become all about access to money, and Aaron tried to change that. That should never have been considered a criminal activity.”

Mr. Swartz did not talk much about his impending trial, Quinn Norton, a close friend, said on Saturday, but when he did, it was clear that “it pushed him to exhaustion. It pushed him beyond.”

Recent years had been hard for Mr. Swartz, Ms. Norton said, and she characterized him “in turns tough and delicate.” He had “struggled with chronic, painful illness as well as depression,” she said, without specifying the illness, but he was still hopeful “at least about the world.”

Cory Doctorow, a science fiction author and online activist, posted a tribute to Mr. Swartz on BoingBoing.net, a blog he co-edits. In an e-mail, he called Mr. Swartz “uncompromising, principled, smart, flawed, loving, caring, and brilliant.”

 “The world was a better place with him in it,” he said.

Mr. Swartz, he noted, had a habit of turning on those closest to him: “Aaron held the world, his friends, and his mentors to an impossibly high standard — the same standard he set for himself.” Mr. Doctorow added, however, “It’s a testament to his friendship that no one ever seemed to hold it against him (except, maybe, himself).”

In a talk in 2007, Mr. Swartz described having had suicidal thoughts during a low period in his career. He also wrote about his struggle with depression, distinguishing it from sadness.

“Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.”

When the condition gets worse, he wrote, “you feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms.”

Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting.

Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist

JANUARY 12, 2013 | BY PETER ECKERSLEY

Yesterday Aaron Swartz, a close friend and collaborator of ours, committed suicide. This is a tragic end to a brief and extraordinary life.

Aaron did more than almost anyone to make the Internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge, and to keep it that way. His contributions were numerous, and some of them were indispensable. When we asked him in late 2010 for help in stopping COICA, the predecessor to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills, he founded an organization called Demand Progress, which mobilized over a million online activists and proved to be an invaluable ally in winning that campaign.

Aaron Swartz at CCC

Other projects Aaron worked on included the RSSspecificationsweb.pytor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere. Aaron helped launch the Creative Commons. He was a former co-founder at Reddit, and a member of the team that made the site successful. His blog was often a delight.

Aaron’s eloquent brilliance was mixed with a complicated introversion. He communicated on his own schedule and needed a lot of space to himself, which frustrated some of his collaborators. He was fascinated by the social world around him, but often found it torturous to deal with.

For a long time, Aaron was more comfortable reading books than talking to humans (he once told me something like, “even talking to very smart people is hard, but if I just sit down and read their books, I get their most considered and insightful thoughts condensed in a beautiful and efficient form. I can learn from books faster than I can from talking to the authors.”). His passion for the written word, for open knowledge, and his flair for self-promotion, sometimes producedspectacular results, even before the events that proved to be his undoing.

In 2011, Aaron used the MIT campus network to download millions of journal articles from theJSTOR database, allegedly changing his laptop’s IP and MAC addresses when necessary to get around blocks put in place by JSTOR and MIT and sneaking into a closet to get a faster connection to the MIT network. For this purported crime, Aaron was facing criminal charges with penalties up to thirty-five years in prison, most seriously for “unauthorized access” to computers under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

If we believe the prosecutor’s allegations against him, Aaron had hoped to liberate the millions of scientific and scholarly articles he had downloaded from JSTOR, releasing them so that anyone could read them, or analyze them as a single giant dataset, something Aaron had done before. While his methods were provocative, the goal that Aaron died fighting for — freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it — is one that we should all support.

Moreover, the situation Aaron found himself in highlights the injustice of U.S. computer crime laws, and particularly their punishment regimes. Aaron’s act was undoubtedly political activism, and taking such an act in the physical world would, at most, have a meant he faced light penalties akin to trespassing as part of a political protest. Because he used a computer, he instead faced long-term incarceration. This is a disparity that EFF has fought against for years. Yesterday, it had tragic consequences. Lawrence Lessig has called for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them. We agree.

Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world. May you read in peace.

Purity Culture Is Rape Culture #Vaw #delhigangrape #1billionrising


E.J. GRAFF, prospect.org

JANUARY 4, 2013

The shocking assault in India reveals that rape isn’t about sex—it’s about controlling women’s lives.

AP Photo/ Dar Yasin
Indian women offer prayers for a gang rape victim at Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi.

Her intestines were removed because the six men used a rusty metal rod during the “rape.”That fact—the rusty metal rod—is what’s haunted me about the violent incident that has outraged India and the world. Six men held a 23-year-old woman and her male friend in a private bus for hours while they assaulted her so brutally that, after several surgeries to repair her insides, she died. What happened to this young woman was a gang assault. It can be called a sexual assault because among other things, they brutalized her vagina. Or it can be called a sexual assault because it was driven by rage at the female sex.Since Susan Brownmiller first wrote Against Our Will—the landmark feminist reconceptualization of rape—feminists have worked on clarifying the fact that rape is less about sex than it is about rage and power. Too many people still conceive of rape as a man’s overwhelming urge to enjoy the body of a woman who has provoked him by being attractive and within reach. As is true in many “traditional” cultures, much of India still imagines that the violation was one against her chastity, as Aswini Anburajan writes at Buzzfeed. But conceiving it as primarily a sexual violation places the burden on women to protect their bodies’ purity. It means that the question that gets asked is this one: Why was she out so late at night, provoking men into rage by being openly female?But seen from a woman’s own point of view, rape is quite different: It’s punishment for daring to exist as an independent being, for one’s own purposes, not for others’ use. Sexual assault is a form of brutalization based, quite simply, on the idea that women have no place in the world except the place that a man assigns them—and that men should be free to patrol women’s lives, threatening them if they dare step into view. It is fully in keeping with bride-burnings, acid attacks, street harassment, and sex-selective abortions that delete women before they are born.I’ve now read a number of commentaries exposing India’s, particularly New Delhi’s, culture of street violence against women. The most memorable, by Sonia Faleiro in The New York Times, talks about the fear that was instilled in her during her 24 years living in Delhi:

As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car. …Things didn’t change when I became an adult. Pepper spray wasn’t available, and my friends, all of them middle- or upper-middle-class like me, carried safety pins or other makeshift weapons to and from their universities and jobs. One carried a knife, and insisted I do the same. I refused; some days I was so full of anger I would have used it — or, worse, had it used on me.The steady thrum of whistles, catcalls, hisses, sexual innuendos and open threats continued. Packs of men dawdled on the street … To make their demands clear, they would thrust their pelvises at female passers-by.

Such endemic street harassment is not about sex; it’s about threatening women for daring to leave the private sphere. It’s a form of control over women’s ambitions and lives. And when such a culture is widespread, it gives men permission to use women as the target for any excess anger they might have.

A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure.

“Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure.While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women’s hopes for controlling their lives and bodies. In October, responding to Richard Mourdock‘s incredible comment about rape, I mentioned an absolutely essential piece by The Nation’s Jessica Valenti in a way I want to reprise here, if you’ll excuse the self-quotation:

As Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry said in 2008, “Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.”

In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins. Any woman who ever wanted sex—yes, that includes married women who unconditionally give permission when they put on that ring—deserves what she gets. Valenti’s piece is a brilliant and absolutely essential manifesto on what still has to change to get from “What about ‘no’ don’t you understand?” to the more advanced concept that women have a right to enjoy and control our own bodies. In this “traditional” vision of sexuality, it’s not rape if you’ve already had sex, ever—except if you’re married and another man violates his property. Your only role is to protect your purity for its future owner. If you don’t do, you’re fair game. A culture in which women must cover up or be threatened is a rape culture. You’re thinking of hijab and burquas, right? Think also of the now well-known SlutWalks, which were launched after a Toronto police officer told young women that they could avoid rape by not dressing like “sluts.” The protests, which have spread worldwide, make the point that no matter how we dress, women are at risk; and no matter how we dress, our bodies are our own.  Let me be clear that we have plenty of rape culture here in the United States. When I told my wife the prosecutor how shocked I was by the India case’s rusty metal bar, her response disturbed me terribly: She laughed at my naïveté. She sees it all the time, she explained. She started telling me about one recent case in which a husband had shoved a broom up his wife so far it ripped out through her chest. I was so upset I stopped her before she could tell me more.Or consider the recent rape in Steubenville, Ohio, allegedly by members of the football team, which was reported on in excellent detail by the Times—primarily because of the shocking way it was was celebrated via social media. Here’s how Prospectcontributor Amanda Marcotte summarized the case at Slate:

The alleged crime: Witnesses, some also on the football team, testified at a probable cause hearing that Mays and Richmond spent most of the night of Aug. 11 standing over, directing, transporting, and otherwise controlling the blacked-out drunk victim, who they carried to three separate parties. According to the New York Times, witnesses claim that Mays and Richmond tried to coerce the victim into oral sex, exposed her naked body as a joke to other partygoers, penetrated her digitally, and exposed themselves to her. Other Steubenville students on Twitter and YouTube say they witnessed even worse violations, including urinating on the victim and anal rape, though these are not official statements. (And sadly, these students were more delighted than upset by what they allegedly saw.) While it appears that multiple students taped and photographed the alleged assault, officials claim they haven’t been able to turn up much in the way of evidence, because the evidence has been deleted.

Football players like these two can almost always find young women who will have sex with them willingly. Taking a drunk and helpless girl and urinating on her, humiliating her, fingering her publicly, violating several orifices—that’s about rage and power, not sexual pleasure. That’s sexual assault and enforcement of the rape culture’s idea that a woman’s job is to protect her purity.At CNN Opinion, Lauren Wolfe writes that women are rising up against rape and rampant street harassment in places as disparate as Egypt and Somalia. I hope she’s right—and that the horror in India spurs genuine change, complete with international coalitions, like those that came out of the Beijing women’s conference and that work across borders. We do know that protests have spread beyond India to Nepal. Slutwalks have spread around the world, as my regular google alert tells me, with recent incarnations in such places as Hong Kong, Lubbock Texas, Mandurah, Australia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts.

I can only hope that the response to the attack in India includes outrage at congressional Republicans’ astounding refusal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), one of the most effective tools to help prevent such violence, which the Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie has already told you about. In its past 18 years, it has funded tremendously useful projects ranging from a stalking help line to statistical research to law-enforcement training in responding to intimate-partner violence. According to the National Organization for Women’s reading of Bureau of Justice statistics, in the first 15 years after VAWA was originally passed, intimate-partner violence homicides dropped by 53 percent, and female homicides dropped 43 percent. While of course that cannot all be attributed to VAWA—homicide deaths in general have fallen during that period, for a myriad of reasons—VAWA has been an important tool in training, educating, funding, and helping to enforce new norms. If this were called “domestic terrorism,” far more of the nation’s budget would be dedicated to end it.

You’d think that their November loss at the ballot would’ve educated Republicans about the fact that women actually vote. But some people learn very, very slowly.

Here’s the key point: It is not acceptable that more than 50 percent of the world’s population live in fear of violence solely because they are female. I do hope that India will turn around the male rage seething through its streets—and that here, we see an uprising against Congress’s appalling failure to reauthorize the bill that fights domestic terrorism—the terror that women feel at home.

 

Glass Houses:Raped and Victim-Blaming in the Western World #Vaw


02 Wednesday Jan 2013

Apparently the U.S., unlike India, has moved past its own backward history of victim-blaming. Apparently, I am to believe, according to the New York Timesand Nicholas Kristof, that it is India which must deal with its sexual violence. And the Good Mr. Kristoff and the New York Times know this because the US has dealt with its own sexual violence. It’s now in the past, judging from the smug authority of the Times.

The victim of gang-rape in India, as many of us know, died several days ago after having been brutally beaten, essentially to death. From the moment that the rape made the international news, even before she died, there was a collective audible, transnational gasp.

That gasp turned—-rightfully–into a loud protest by Indians, against an environment of fear and danger that is perpetuated from various segments of society. These include the police, who have been unwilling to protect women or arrest men who have been accused of rape. They include courts, who are unwilling to arrest and try accused rapists. These include politicians and media, who engage in victim-blaming. These include communities who are unwilling to defend their female family members who have been sexually assaulted.

That gasp also induced a gaping at what Margaret Kimberley calls the pornography of suffering—where first world denizens are mesmerized, horrified, by the spectacle of rapes in non-first world locales with darker residents. In the cases of Congo and Somalia, the spectacle is amplified by the long-standing racist fetishization of black men’s sexuality.  While India may not have the same associations, it is nevertheless subject to its own version of Orientalism: India is either the peaceful refuge of Om Shanti Shanti yoga chants and ashrams, or invoked for its seemingly unmatched teeming poverty and malnutrition. The men in this picture, over the last 3 weeks, thanks to the focus by Western media, are now the singular demons of unchecked sexual predation.

Indeed, it is difficult to miss the incessant focus by first world denizens and media at the “backwards” culture of India, such that, as one interlocutor informed me, “they have a history of victim-blaming” there.

It must be a relief for denizens of the Global North to point fingers at the “regressive” cultures of the darker nations.  Perhaps the spectacle of Indians marching in protest at the rape allows for the convenient, momentary forgetfulness (or maybe continued avoidance) of the US’s state-led policy of “inadvertently” or deliberately killing and torturing children, some of whom had the audacity to be born to irresponsible terrorist fathers—as Robert Gibbs reminds us.  It allows Americans to be undistracted by the racial profiling thousands of Black and Muslim men, or incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Black men in a gratuitous war on drugs, renditions and imprisonment of hundreds of Muslim men—most without ever knowing the charges against them. But at least we know it is because “they are terrorists.” It is a good thing that the US doesn’t have a history of victim-blaming.

Perhaps the spectacle of 3rd world rape allows Americans to forget its own “rape culture”–the one where the US has had a long history of putting the victims of sexual assault on trial while ostensibly pretending that they were holding a fair trial for suspected rapists. The one where 11 year old girls are gang-raped– –continuously over a period of months. And in which the entire town and one of the nation’s leading newspapers—the same one which points to India’s need to straighten itself out—manages to blame the child. Yes, that moral beacon of colonialism and hypocrisy: the New York Times.

According to The National Women’s Study and the Bureau of Justice Statistics,683,000 women are raped annually in the United States. That equals 1.3 rapes every 3 minutes, 78 rapes hourly, and 1,871 rapes daily.  These numbers are hardly insignificant. And they only indicate reported rapes. Eleanor Bader points to a Department of Justice August 2012 study that states that 33% of sexual victimization of the general public goes unreported.

Combined, these numbers indicate a serious rape culture in the U.S., one where Sen. Todd Aikin can openly claim that “legitimate rapes” don’t cause pregnancy.  Or as Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed, rape “is something that God intended.”

Consider Steuben, Ohio, where members of the high school football team are accused of drugging, gang-raping, urinating on, and carrying an unconsconscious female teen from party to party. One is accused of taking a nude picture or video of the girl. And no one in the entire town stepped forward to say what they saw—despite reams of evidence that appear to be circulating on Facebook, and elsewhere. Including statements about how “Some people deserve to be peed on.”

But it’s India that has a culture of “victim-blaming.”  Clearly, the U.S. isn’t backwards at all. I now recognize the New York Times’ moral authority in wagging its journalistic finger at India’s “backward” culture.  If I didn’t, I might be a little shaken by the statistics of sexual assault that occurred in US state and federal prisons, and jails, ICE special confinement facilities, and Indian reservation prisons:

Out of 81,566 inmates interviewed in 2008-9, 11,600 reported an unwanted sexual incident with another prison inmate. 15,800 reported an unwanted sexual incident that occurred with prison staff. 3,400 inmates reported unwanted sexual incidents by both inmates and staff.

1% of prisoners report having been the target of nonconsensual sexual acts: or approximately 815 inmates. And these are only the reported sexual assaults. If we assume that rapes in prison go unreported at the same rate as those in the general public (and the likelihood is that the percentage is even higher), then there is a very strong manifestation of rape culture in U.S. prisons.

In an earlier 2007 study by the Department of Justice, as cited by Eleanor Bader, out of over 40,000 inmates in local jails, 5.1% of women and 2.9% of men experienced some form of sexual assault.

Of course, it is easy to compartmentalize these statistics by somehow assuming that they are occurring to members of a criminal(ized), therefore deranged, primitive segment of the population—which is “rightfully” in prison. Until we remember the range of laws that can easily land someone in prison: 3 strikes, you’re out; material support statute violations, excessive drug laws, hate crimes laws (which disproportionately target minorities), etc.

In other words, the victims consist of many folks who are dangerously similar to many of us: one mistake, or skin color, or religion, or race, away from prison time. And like the western focus on India, the visual spectacle of dark men raping or dark women being raped somehow lands a collective Western audience in a state of horror that is strangely absent when considering rape in a whitely context:

In March of this year, a few media sources reported the death of a Ukrainian teen, who was gang-raped, strangled and set on fire by the sons of government officials. She had burns over 55% of her body, and had both of her feet and one arm amputated in an attempt to save her. Before she died, she made a video from her hospital bed naming her assaulters. Hundreds of Ukrainians marched in protest of her death. There was very little outrage from the rest of the world. There was no NYT editorial warning the Ukraine to get its house in order, even as it reported that 2 of the young men arrested in the incident were released by prosecutors.

It is hard, then, to argue that the reason so much attention was paid to the circumstances of the Indian woman was because of the horrific nature of the crime. Because she was gang-raped and beaten to death. Our hearts, mine included, went numb.  But so did my heart when I learned of the 11-year old who was gang-raped.

So did my heart when I followed the news of the young boys induced to trust Jerry Sandusky, only to be brutally betrayed. Only to feel that they must keep silent because of the stigma surrounding male rape. Because their families relied on Sandusky to raise their boys, to provide care and a “male role model.”

So did my heart when I learned of the woman who was horrifically and brutally raped, beaten, and killed by members of a “cult.” Rape victims die in the US. They die horrific deaths. And somehow they don’t grab our attention in the way that the horrible fate of this young woman did.

But they should–in order to challenge the systematicity of rape in every single society. In order to challenge the patriarchy of every single society, the abuse of power that enables girl-children and boy-children, to be raped.

Ten of thousands of Indian citizens marched in protest of the fear and danger that surround Indian women.  Imagine if mothers and daughters across the US had marched in protest of the rape and murder of Lalita Patel, a 62 year-old South Asian woman, who was killed by a U.S. army veteran this past summer.

Or after U.S. troops raped several Afghan women earlier last month.

Couldn’t we have drawn attention to the horror of rape?  Many young women and their allies did march in Canada and across the US last year. It was called the “Slutwalk.” They marched in protest of victim-blaming—by a Canadian police officer who insisted that women learn not to dress like sluts. (Oh, wait—sounds a lot like the claims of Indian policemen who blame Indian rape victims). The name alone created such a distraction that the fact of the protests around the US and Canada was lost amidst the debates over the name.

Indian women fear traveling outside by themselves, or late at night, or traveling alone at all. So do many women in the US. Yet, only the horrific, horrible tragedy of a young woman in Delhi can make us pause and think about rape.

Shouldn’t the gang-rapes of children, teenaged girls, and women in the US, in North America, in France, by ordinary men as well as by political elites such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, make us pause? Perhaps the NYT and Nicholas Kristof might be able to persuade the Western world to get its own house in order.

___________________________________________

As of the latest NDAA, which goes into effect  on Jan 3, 2013 , U.S. servicewomen will now be able to have Department of Defense-funded abortions in cases of rape and incest (Sec. 704). Sen. John McCain, feminist that he is, has endorsed a provision, according to NYT, that would “ensure” that U.S. servicewomen who are subject to sexual assault “will be treated with fairness.” This will be one of primary benefits of NDAA –a benefit that is not extended to women outside of the service, nor to those who are not federal employees.

How exactly does this ensure “fairness” for US servicewomen who are victims of sexual assault? It allows them to have access to coverage for abortions. It doesn’t exactly protect them or decrease the chances of sexual assault. Still, it is a huge feminist stance compared to Aikin or Mourdock’s positions, but alsoan admission of a rape culture in the U.S. Armed Services.