Visions of a Nuclear Free World-Ending Atomic Power One Plant at a Time


English: Anti nuclear power movement's Smiling...

 

 

 

by KARL GROSSMAN

 

Southern California Edison’s announcement last week that it will close its troubled twin-reactor San Onofre nuclear power plant—along with other recent setbacks for atomic energy in the United States—marks a downward spiral for nuclear power.

And it could—and should—mean a great advance for the implementation of safe, clean, renewable energy technologies. “We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, after the announcement Friday. “The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind.”

S. David Freeman, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority and other utilities, at a joint news conference with Pica Friday, said it was a “step in the right direction and another move toward the renewable revolution that’s underway in California.”

Also this week, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy scrapped plans to build nuclear plants in Iowa. Last month, Dominion Resources announced it was shutting down its Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin. Also last month, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that a partnership between Toshiba and NRG Energy to build two nuclear plants in Texas violated a U.S. law barring foreign control of nuclear plants. Further last month, Duke Energy announced it was scuttling plans to build two nuclear plants in North Carolina. This came after Duke’s earlier announcement that it would close its troubled Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.

From 104, the U.S. in short order has gone to 100 operating nuclear plants—and most of these are also plagued with safety and financial problems. Many also face strong opposition and

demands they be shut down.

“This industry is on its final trajectory downward,” said Pica Friday. He said that with these events, the NRC should be renamed the Nuclear Retirement Commission.

At the news conference, Freeman said that having a nuclear power-free and greenhouse gas-free world are the two most needed things to be done to “sustain life…on Earth.”

That nuclear power is a threat to life is not a new issue—it’s been central to the battle against nuclear power even before the first commercial nuclear plant in the U.S., the Shippingport plant in Pennsylvania, opened in 1957.

But new in recent decades have been the great advances in safe, clean, renewable energy technologies led by solar and wind, rendering nuclear power unnecessary.  Germany has become a global model in jettisoning nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and is committed to a goal of 100% of its energy coming from clean, renewable sources.

A few hundred miles from the San Onofre plant, in San Francisco last month, a conference—“Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy”—was held serving as an international organizing and strategy event. It was hosted by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute of San Francisco. Experts in energy and finance, political leaders and renewable energy activists spoke on the feasibility of 100% renewable energy.

Study after study have now determined that renewable technologies can provide all the power the world needs.The Renewables 100 Policy Institute presents many on its website (www.go100percent.org) including “A Plan to Power 100% of the Planet With Renewables,” a 2009 cover story ofScientific American, a conservative and most careful publication.

The challenge has been converting this understanding to action, particularly considerng how special interests pushing their energy products—nuclear, oil, gas and coal—have a hold on so many governments around the world. At the conference, a “global alliance” was formed to “build political will among a critical mass of decision makers and set a required goal of 100% renewable energies.”

Also a big problem has been the ignorance in much of mainstream media about energy issues—especially concerning nuclear power. For example, at the news conference Friday, Matthew Wald, who covers nuclear power for The New York Times, demanded most defensively of Pica how he squared eliminating “2,400 megawatts of carbon-free energy” that would be generated by the San Onofre nuclear plant. Wald either doesn’t want to acknowledge or doesn’t know that the “nuclear cycle”—the mining, milling, fuel enrichment and other components of nuclear power—emit greenhouse gases and contribute substantially to global warming, and thus the energy from San Onofre was never “carbon-free.”

The San Onofre plant, built along an earthquake fault, has been an obvious threat to anyone traveling along Interstate 5, the major highway linking San Diego and Los Angeles. Its twin domes sit right next to Interstate 5.

“We are now left with one of the largest, most concentrated nuclear waste piles on the planet,” said Ace Hoffman of Carlsbad, California, who has written extensively about the serious safety problems at San Onofre. “This will be an eternal problem, but thankfully it is no longer a growing problem…It will take millions of years—not just days—to be safe, but at least we are headed in the right direction.” As to the employees of San Onofre, said Hoffman Friday: “I hope they all will find jobs in the solar and wind technology energy sectors.”

Two nuclear reactors amid millions of people will now be shut down permanently. The electricity they would have generated can be replaced, said utility veteran Freeman, an engineer, through energy efficiency and with solar and wind power made available on-demand with a variety of energy storage systems.

And, as Damon Moglen, climate and energy director of Friends of the Earth, said at the conference, with San Onofre’s closing “we will see California move even more decisively” on renewable energy and become “one of the largest non-nuclear economies on our planet .”

That’s a big step in the vision of a nuclear power-free world using energy that people can live with—safe, clean renewable energy.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

 

Google chief Larry Page calls Internet spying threat to freedoms #FOE #Censorship


AFP: SAN FRANCISCO, JUN 08 2013, 10:13 IST
Google Inc.jpg

Google chief Larry Page branded Internet spying a threat to freedom and called for governments to be more revealing about what they try to find out about people’s online activities. 

“We understand that the US and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety – including sometimes by using surveillance,” Page said in a blog post yesterday.

“But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.”

Page put his personal stamp on the California-based Internet giant’s denial that it opened any doors for US intelligence agencies to mine data from its servers.

Google and other technology firms on Thursday were adamant that they did not knowingly take part in a secret program called PRISM that gave the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI back doors into servers at major Internet companies.

“We have not joined any program that would give the US government or any other government direct access to our servers,” Page said.

“Indeed, the US government does not have direct access or a ‘back door’ to the information stored in our data centers,” he continued. “We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.”

The program was reportedly set up in 2007 and has grown “exponentially” to the point where it is now the most prolific contributor to President Barack Obama’s Daily Brief, the US leader’s top-secret daily intelligence briefing.

Some of the biggest firms in Silicon Valley were involved in the program, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube, reports said.

However, Internet titans denied providing intelligence agencies with back doors to networks and held firm that they only cooperated with legal “front door” requests for information.

“This episode confirms what we have long believed – there needs to be a more transparent approach,” Page said.

Google routinely publishes transparency reports listing numbers of requests for user data by governments and how they were handled.

 

4 April 2013: International Day to Defend Amina; she represents us #Vaw #Womenrights


by Maryam Namazie

amina

Today is our day to defend our Amina. The 19 year old Tunisian FEMEN activist whose only “crime” was to post a topless photo of herself saying: “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” and “fuck your morals”.

Whilst she has done nothing wrong, she has been effectively detained incommunicado by her family with the help of the police, and the latest reports say she has been drugged and beaten.

Amina says though that she has no regrets.

Our beloved Amina, this is for you…

Actions taken and statements made today in support of Amina will be posted here on a regular basis. You can also post any acts in the comments section below or on FEMEN’s Facebook page.

  • There are actions today in Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Kiev, London, Malmo, Milan, Montreal, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw and more to mark 4 April, the International Day to Defend Amina. (See time and place here.) Many actions have already taken place in the run-up to this day. You can see some of them here or here.
  • 107,000 people have signed the petition in support of Amina; let’s make it 150,000 today!
  • Jaya Gopal, International Coordinator, wrote the “International Committee to Protect Freethinkers stands in support of the Tunisian Amina for her courage and act of protest against the oppressive misogynistic ethos and archaic laws across the globe. We condemn the Islamic cleric Adel Almi for his Fatwa calling for flogging and stoning Amina to death. The cleric deserves immediate prosecution.”
    • Elisabeth van der Steenhoven, Director of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform (the largest network in Netherlands on women’rights internationally) sent  a message saying they support Amina.
    • Algerian sociologist Merieme Helie Lucas is at a conference in New Delhi today speaking on women using nudity against the Muslim Right as a new form of resistance by women and youth. She will stress the need for solidarity with Amina.
    • Swapna, Convener, writes “Let the world understand that Woman is a Human who has her own body and mind and that she should be respected and loved. The Tunisian Amina is right in posting a topless photo of herself bearing the slogan: ” MY BODY BELONGS TO ME AND IS NOT THE SOURCE OF ANYONE’S HONOR”. Her message is a human protest against a misogynistic inhuman social system. The Islamist cleric Adel Almi’s call for flogging and stoning Amina to death reflects such a system and ethos. Our Scientific Students Federation (SSF) unequivocally stands in defense of Amina.
    • Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, Association créée par Simone de Beauvoir, Regards de Femmes and Femmes Solidaires, Maison des Ensembles submitted this protestCOMMUNIQUE to the Tunisian embassy today in support of Amina; Anne Marie Lizin, honorary president of Belgian senate submitted the same letter to the Tunisian embassy in Belgium.
    • Zari Asli and Lily M prepared this postcard for distribution at rallies and future events.POstcard_FRONT  POstcard_back_other_places.
    • Yesterday, Tunisian Merieme and FEMEN burnt an Islamic flag in front of a mosque in Paris to symbolise women’s fight against Islamism:

IsnRmFk4fG

 

Corporations Are Robbing Us Of Our Right to a Fair Trial #civiliberties #CSR


AlterNet / By Jim Hightower

human_rights_first1_

If you’ve been gouged by your bank, discriminated against, sexually harassed, unfairly fired, you’ll most likely find that you’re barred from the courthouse door.
March 27, 2013 |

Being wronged by a corporation is painful enough, but just try getting your day in court. Most Americans don’t realize it, but our Seventh Amendment right to a fair jury trial against corporate wrongdoers has quietly been stripped from us. Instead, we are now shunted into a stacked-deck game called “Binding Mandatory Arbitration.” Proponents of the process hail it as superior to the courts — “faster, cheaper and more efficient!” they exclaim.

But does it deliver justice? It could, for the original concept of voluntary, face-to-face resolution of conflict by a neutral third party makes sense in many cases. But remember what Mae West said of her own virtue: “I used to be Snow White, then I drifted.” Today’s practice of arbitration has drifted far away from the purity of the concept.

All you really need to know about today’s process is that it’s the product of years of conceptual monkey-wrenching by corporate lobbyists, Congress, the Supreme Court and hired-gun lobbying firms looking to milk the system for steady profits. First and foremost, these fixers have turned a voluntary process into the exact opposite: mandatory. Let’s look at this mess.

— Unlike courts, arbitration is not a public system, but a private business.

— Far from being neutral, “the third-party” arbitration firms are — get this! — usually hand-picked by the corporation involved in the case, chosen specifically because they have proven records of favoring the corporation.

— The corporation also gets to choose the city or town where the case is heard, allowing it to make the case inconvenient, expensive and unfair to individuals bringing a complaint.

— Arbitrators are not required to know the law relevant to the cases they judge or follow legal precedents.

— Normal procedural rules for gathering and sharing evidence and safeguarding fairness to both parties do not apply in arbitration cases.

— Arbitration proceedings are closed to the media and the public.

— Arbitrators need not reveal the reasons for their decisions, so they are not legally accountable for errors, and the decisions set no legal precedents for guiding future corporate conduct.

— Even if an arbitrator’s decision is legally incorrect, it still is enforceable, carrying the full weight of the law.

— There is virtually no right to appeal an arbitrator’s ruling.

That adds up to a kangaroo court! Who would choose such a rigged system? No one. Which is why corporate America has resorted to brute force and skullduggery to drag you into their arbitration wringer.

By “force,” I mean practically every business relationship you have with a corporation (customer, employee, supplier, etc.) begins with you blindly signing away your right to go to court. Written in indecipherable legalese, these sneaky provisos are usually secluded in the tiny-type of pre-printed, take-it-or-leave-it, non-negotiable contracts.

By “you,” I mean everyone one of us who: takes a job, gets a credit card, subscribes to cable TV, buys an insurance policy, rents an apartment, purchases nearly any new product (from cellphone to house), has a home remodeled or car repaired, enters a nursing home, becomes a franchisee or corporate supplier or signs up with a landscaping service.

If you seek justice because you’ve been gouged by your bank, discriminated against, sexually harassed, unfairly fired, cheated on wages, sold a shoddy product, denied health care coverage or otherwise harmed by a corporation, you’ll most likely find that you’re barred from the courthouse door. That document you unwittingly signed has shackled you to the corporation’s own privatized court.

Since binding mandatory arbitration “agreements” are written by corporate lawyers, it’s no surprise that they stack the deck in favor of corporations. But — wow! — the percentage of rigged wins is disgusting.

For example, Public Citizen found that one giant firm, the National Arbitration Forum, heard over 34,000 consumer-versus-bank cases in California. It sided with financial giants 95 percent of the time. Even more astonishing, the city of San Francisco found that of the 18,045 cases brought by banks and other powers against overmatched California consumers, NAF’s private judges sided with the corporations 100 percent of the time.

 

HIV in Chhattisgarh jails, debate over what caused it


Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Indian Express Nov 12, 2012

A nationwide health survey in jails has found 80 of Chhattisgarh’s prisoners HIV-positive, out of 13,000-odd tested. Prison authorities insist that the inmates had probably arrived already infected, but health authorities don’t rule out the possibility that it was after being jailed that they got infected, with unsafe sex or drug use the likely causes.

This has turned into a contentious issue. The health authorities are contemplating distribution of condoms and syringes, but the jail authorities say there is no reason to do so. Their resistance comes apparently because allowing distribution of condoms would amount to an acceptance of the fact that homosexuality exists in jails.

The 80 found HIV-positive include women prisoners too. “This is the first instance of an ELISA test being conducted in jails anywhere in India. Figures for none of the other states are available,” said S K Binjhwar, additional project director, Chhattisgarh Aids Control Society.

“Of these 80 prisoners, 65 have a CD4 count less than 350. They are being given ART. So far we have tested only those we suspected to be from a high-risk group, but since the infection also spreads to others in jails we are expanding our sample size,” he said. “We counsel them about safe sex.”

The jail administration says the health authorities should focus on sources of infection beyond prisons. “Instead of focusing on jails, the health authorities should focus on red-light areas and drug addicts and on improving the health situation at village level, especially checking quacks who use old syringes. These are the major sources of spreading HIV infection,” said ADG (jail) Giridhari Nayak.

“A jail has a mobile population, like a train. People board at a station and get off at the next. Only a few remain till the final destination,” Nayak added. “Of the total HIV-positive inmates in Chhattisgarh jails, only 12 are convicts while the rest are undertrials; they keep getting released and new ones come in. The infection comes from outside; it is not spreading in jails.”

Dr K K Gupta, Raipur jailor, said that the possibility of homosexual behaviour in jails “is merely hypothetical”. Gupta said, “There is no question of distributing condoms or syringes as such activities are yet to be seen in jails.”

Homosexuality in jails has been discussed globally and opinions have been sharply divided. A California study notes that the rate of HIV prevalence among people who are incarcerated is nearly seven times higher than that of the general population. San Francisco jail authorities installed a condom-vending machine on their premises after HIV infection was found to be rapidly spreading in the area in the 1990s.

In Chhattisgarh, the project began in March 2011, when the state AIDS control soc

 

Grassroots activists in Pakistan have set an example for digital rights activism.


Jillian C. York . Aljazeera

Fighting online censorship when legal action fails

A new plan for internet filtering could put Pakistan on par with Iran and Saudi Arabia, activists say [EPA]

San Francisco, CA - When, in late February, Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority (PTAissued a call forproposals on a large scale internet filtering system to allow for the blocking of up to 50 million URLs (with, it should be noted, a processing delay of “not more than 1 milliseconds [sic]”), Pakistani rights activists were more than a little peeved. While censorship (either online or offline) in the Islamic Republic is no new thing, the new move – presumably designed to entice Western companies to the country – would potentially put Pakistan on par with countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in terms of sites blocked.

Of course, Pakistan is not China, Iran or Saudi Arabia. It is, at least in theory, a democracy, with freely held elections. And yet, when it comes to the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, citizens find themselves increasingly with no say in the matter.

Grassroots advocacy

Therefore, when faced with the PTA’s latest plans, grassroots organisations knew exactly what they had to do. Rather than appeal to their representatives, they took to the internet, calling on technology companies not to respond to the call for proposals.

http://www.aljazeera.com/AJEPlayer/player-licensed-viral.swfAre we entering an age of cyber-censorship?

Their efforts were echoed and supported by a number of international organisations, including the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Article 19, the Global Network Initiative, Access, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (where I work), and made it to the pages of theNew York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others. As a result, a number of technology companies, including Cisco and McAfee SmartFilter (both of which, it should be noted, sell their censorship wares to other countries), made statements refusing to sell to the PTA.

Advocacy group Bolo Bhi has been vocal in their opposition of the filter. In one blog post, they explain how the system would affect citizens, noting: “Such a system will give the government extra muscle to go after ‘activists’ – ‘liberals’ – ‘troublemakers’ – You and I. Anyone who is a hindrance, becomes a target.”

Indeed, such a system would likely have the same capabilities as Bahrain’s, which allowed authorities to intercept emails and SMS, which were then read aloud to detainees, or Syria’s, notoriously used to spy on activists. Surveillance of that degree is dangerous and has no place in any of these countries, let alone one that purports to be democratic.

All of this pressure led the PTA to backtracking; on March 19, an article in the International Herald Tribune-affiliatedExpress Tribune declared the filtering plans shelved. As Islamabad-based digital rights group Bytes for All quicklynoted, however, the news item was not followed up by a press release from the government, leading them to believe that the piece was “a strategic move to put an end to the raging protests”.

Like Bytes for All, Bolo Bhi doesn’t see the fight as being over. In a recent letter addressed to the Ministry of Information Technology, the ICT Research and Development Fund, and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and signed by eight additional organisations, the group wrote:

While it has become common knowledge that surveillance and censorship technologies are often used in Pakistan, the extent to which this is taking place has only recently become apparent with public reports on censorship and surveillance technologies by a large number of international companies. We also understand the Pakistan government may attempt to involve an academic institution in developing the system, making the biggest victim of this technology also a contributor.

A model for digital rights activism

Born from the bottom up and supported by (not, crucially, initiated by) international organisations, the efforts of local groups serve as a model for digital rights activism. Their actions were strategic, targeting the appropriate stakeholders, their collaboration with international groups built on consensus.

Furthermore, Bytes for All and Bolo Bhi were well-placed to understand the limitations of legal efforts and instead, chose the best possible path for advocacy: targeting the very businesses their government sought to attract.Another element of these groups’ success is in bypassing the “us vs. them” mentality, a strategy discussed in the 2010 anthology Digital Activism Decoded.  In the book, chapter authors Sem DeVillart and Brian Waniewski wrote, “It is tempting for organisations to adopt competitive strategies toward peers engaged in like or complementary efforts,” recommending that groups engaged in online advocacy avoid the competitive structure of corporations.

As a result, the IT Ministry has verbally committed to issuing a statement against the filtering system, says Bolo Bhi CEO Sana Saleem, who adds that they had been reluctant to meet with civil society groups directly in the past.

“I strongly feel that the campaign success is because of consistent pressure from organisations globally,” wrote Saleem in a recent e-mail, “Even though we have still only received verbal commitment, I believe that the success lies in how we planned the campaign to focus on issues such as businesses, trade, academia and economy steering the debate from the more controversial issues of blasphemy.”

As sure as the PTA will continue their attempts to censor, the efforts of groups like Bytes for All and Bolo Bhi show no signs of abating. And with the support of international groups – which help by raising their voices to a fever pitch – they may just win.

Jillian C York is director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. She writes a regular column for Al Jazeera focusing on free expression and Internet freedom. She also writes for and is on the Board of Directors of Global Voices Online.

Follow her on Twitter: @jilliancyork

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Malkangiri: Police arrested 3, Have not produced in court in week


Dear friends,

Lalit Chakraborty from Malkangiri in Odisha says police have arrested 3 youth in Padmagiri area on 19th March. They also broke house of one of the person before arresting. More than 200 people marched to collector and district police chief who told them that there was a warrant against the arrested. He asks if there was a warrant then why are they not produced in court so far. For more Lalit ji can be reached at 09438135767

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=10160

You can also listen to this post after leaving a missed call on 080 4113 7280. You can also record your own messages/songs the same way using your phone as this user has done

I salute Meena Kandasamy, each and every domestic Violence survivor needs to read this


  Meena  is my Facebook friend, and I salute her, as it takes extraordinary courage to come out in the open about a  violent and an abusive marriage, I hope this step by Meena ,will give the courage to many such women trapped in such abusive relationships to break their shackles    

‘With sad-woman eyes and soulful smiles’
Meena Kandasamy

In that strange coastal town-city where it rains every morning, I partake of pain as if it is prayer. Married to a violent man who treats me with nothing but distrust and suspicion, my skin has seen enough hurt to tell its own story.In the early days, his words win me back: I don’t have anything if I don’t have you. In this honeymoon period, every quarrel follows a predictable pattern: we make up, we make love, we move on. It becomes a bargain, a barter system. For the sake of survival, I surrender my space.

Two months into the marriage, he cajoles me into parting with my passwords. Soon he answers my e-mails with the same liberty with which he used to select my clothes. Why do you need my password, I ask. You have mine, he says. But I did not ask you for it, I say. You don’t love me enough, he says. Possess me so that I can possess you for possessing me: the thoughts of a possessed, possessive man who has made possession into his single obsession. There can be no secrets when love has become a cruel slave-era overseer. He proposes the idea of a common  e-mail address one week, it is enforced the next. He makes personal boundaries disappear. I am isolated from all my friends and family. As an act of purification, 25,000 e-mail messages are erased on New Year’s Eve. I become the woman with no history.

Soon, in my loveless marriage, sex begins to replicate the model of a market economy: he demands, I supply. Never mind that my response does not matter, never mind that I bleed every single time, never mind that he derives his pleasure from my pain. With a scattered heart and in no mood for seduction, the woman in me carries on a conversation with the ceiling, she confides in the curtains. Faced with so much damage, she seeks pleasure in the flaming forces of nature: harsh sunlight, sudden showers. Secretly, she refuses to be tamed.

The first time he hits me, I remember I hit him back. Retaliation can work between well-matched rivals, but experience teaches me that a woman who weighs less than a hundred pounds should think of other options. It also teaches me other things. I learn that anything can become an instrument of punishment: twisted computer power-cords, leather belts, his bare hands that I once held with all the love in the world. His words sharpen his strikes. If I deliver a quick blow, your brains will spill out, he says. His every slap shatters me. Once, when he strangulates me, I imbibe the silence of a choked throat.

And when I tell him that I want to walk out of the marriage, he wishes me success in a career as a prostitute, asks me to specialise in fellating, advices me to use condoms. I shrink and shrivel and shout back and shed a steady stream of tears. He smiles at his success. He wants me to feel like a fallen woman. He always inhabits the moral high ground and resorts to extreme generalisations: literary festivals are brothels, women writers are whores, my poetry is pornography. His communist credentials crumble. He faults me for being a feminist. I am treated with the hatred that should be reserved for class enemies.

As fear seeps into my body, sex becomes unto submission. in this role of a wife, I remember nothing except the relief of being let go, being let off after being used up… I am no longer myself… I think death will put an end to this.

As a bored housewife, I colour-code the domestic violence: fresh red welts on my skin, the black hue of blood clots, the fading violet of healed bruises. It appears that there is no escape from this unending cycle of abuse, remorse-filled apology and more abuse. One day, when I am whipped with a belt and cannot take it anymore, I threaten him with police action. He retorts that no man in uniform will respect me after reading a line of my verse. He challenges me to go to anyone anywhere. I have no friends in that small world—only his colleagues who think the world of him and his students who worship the earth on which he walks. I do not know whom to trust, even our neighbours could hand me back to him. In the middle of the night, I want to rush to a nearby convent, seek shelter. Would I be understood? Would it work out? How far can I run away in a city that does not speak my tongue, a city where young women in bars are beaten up?

I tell him that I cannot live with him any longer. I tell him that I have lost count of the last chances I have given him.

The next morning I wake up and see that he has singed his flesh with a red-hot spoon. A twisted mind and its twisted love. He is willing to explain himself: I inflict this punishment on myself because I realise my guilt. I did this because I love you. In other words: you made me hurt you, you made me hurt myself. The subtext: please take the blame, please take the beatings too. I am held hostage emotionally. I crave for a freedom that will just let me be me, I flounder to find the words to help me speak my story. I live in a house of slamming doors and broken dreams. I am no longer myself, I am convinced that I am starring in somebody’s tragic film. I look forward to dying, I think death will put an end to this.

As fear seeps into my body, sex becomes submission, and in this role-play of being a wife, I remember nothing except the relief of being let go, being let off after being used up. In this marriage of martyrdom, kisses disappear.

We sleep in separate rooms. Every night, my heart sings a sad song. I long for tenderness. I circle around my sorrow as if it were a village goddess, I feed it my bruised flesh. Come and get me,
I cry. No one hears me, it is just me screaming in my head. I manage to pull myself together because I have vowed never to break.

I grow distant, we grow apart.

I later uncover his double life: he has been previously married, a fact concealed even by his own family members. He has not yet divorced his first wife. When I confront him, he attempts to explain everything scientifically and then comes right back at me. There is more name-calling, hair-pulling, badmouthing, blackmailing. He begins to beat me. He brands me a bitch. I will skin you alive, he says, and then call your father to come and get you. I am numb, too traumatised to react. That night, I am thrown out, like trash. I leave home with a handbag and a bad-girl tag. I plead with the paramilitary personnel at the airport to let me sleep there, they ask me a thousand questions but allow me to stay. One of them buys me dinner. I fly back to Chennai the next morning. I have no words to tell my parents. They ask no questions. My mother hugs me with the air of a woman who will never let me go. My sister is angry why I ever left her.

Weeks later, I consult lawyers. They tell me that my marriage is not valid, that seeking a divorce is a pointless exercise. As an act of mercy, even the law has set me free. When I press for his punishment, the police speak of jurisdictional issues. You lived elsewhere, they say. Lady justice does not serve displaced women.

It is more than a month since I moved back to my parents’ place. I talk to my well-wishers. I wear my sister’s clothes. I weep, alone, at night. I look back at those four months of my life and realise that what I had lived through was not “my life” at all, but something that someone else had charted for me. Wedded to a wife-beater, I never believed that I would live to tell my tale. I console myself that now I have first-hand experience of brutality: a story of struggle and survival that I can share on unfair days. Such empty consolations soothe violated bodies. I join a lucky league of battered women who find comfort in the safe zone of family, solace in the warmth of friends and flirtatious strangers who nurse my wounds with words. Can I overcome this nightmare of a marriage? I don’t have straight answers. I have learnt my lessons. I know that I am single and safe now. With sad-woman eyes and soulful smiles, I strive to find the courage to face this world. Perhaps, along the way, poetry will help me leave the pain behind.

( The first person account appears in magazine ‘ outlook “

Video of Republic Day protest against Gallantry awards in San Francisco


Concerned citizens and friends of India organized a peaceful protest in San Francisco outside the venue of the official Republic Day function hosted by the Indian Consulate which was expected to be attended by around 400 invitees – the movers and shakers of the Indian community as well as local politicians. Much to our satisfaction, we were able to engage in one-on-one conversations with many of the attendees outside the venue and distribute flyers. Many of them signed our petition and many more were sympathetic.

The petition is as follows

Every year on the 26th of January, we celebrate the Constitution of India [1]. Every 30th of January, we remember the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to freedom. However, for the vast majority of the people of India, even the most basic of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution – the right to life and personal liberty and due legal process if these rights are to be abridged – remain unrealized promises. And the ideals of the independence struggle, as articulated by Gandhi, stand indelibly tarnished.

One of the most shocking recent instances of this trampling upon the Indian constitution is the torture and sexual abuse of prisoner Soni Sori [2,3]. An adivasi school teacher from the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, Sori had exposed evidence of police misconduct in the framing of several cases against her [4]. Police intimidation forced her to flee, and she reached Delhi seeking legal assistance, but was arrested before she could file a petition in the Supreme Court. Fearing for her life in Chhattisgarh, she asked to be held in custody in Delhi, despite which she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police [5]. In custody, Soni Sori was brutally tortured by the Chhattisgarh police, because of her refusal to corroborate their false statements. A subsequent independent medical examination found sizable stones lodged in her vagina and her rectum and severe damage to her spinal cord [6].

Another instance is the case of Lingaram Kodopi. In 2009, Kodopi was locked up by the police in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh for 40 days, tortured and pressured to join a vigilante force [7]. After the High Court ordered his release, Lingaram went on to complete a course in journalism, and later documented villagers’ accounts of arson, murder and rape during a three-day police operation in March 2011. In September 2011, Lingaram was arrested on charges of collecting ‘protection’ money for the Maoists from Essar, a large business conglomerate. Sori, his aunt, came under pressure from the police to persuade Lingaram to accept the charges. She refused, saying the charges were false and ended up being an accused herself. Amnesty International has pronounced both Sori and Kodopi, Prisoners of Conscience [8].

Sori’s and Kodopi’s are not isolated cases. Authorities in various parts of India have a record of imprisoning innocent people, including human rights workers, on false charges, the most notable case being that of Dr. Binayak Sen. Dr. Sen was convicted of ‘sedition’, and sentenced to life imprisonment, but released by the Supreme Court on bail, pending appeal [9]. Many other innocent people, mostly from marginalized sections of the society, continue to languish in India’s jails; Adivasi activist Kartam Joga [10] and labor leaders, Bhagwati Sahu [11] and Abhay Sahoo [12], are just some of them. Others like Kopa Kunjam [13] and documentarian Ajay TG [14] were released on bail and are awaiting trial. Arun Ferreira, a social and human rights activist, was acquitted in 11 different cases for lack of evidence, but re-arrested each time on a fresh set of charges, until he was finally released on bail on the 4th January [15].

In custody, Soni Sori was pressured by the police to implicate many prominent human rights activists as Maoists [16]. Though Sori resisted the pressure, other news reports indicate a concerted attempt on the part of the state to stigmatize human rights defenders [17]. This was a serious concern placed on record by Margaret Sekaggya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, after the completion of a mission to India a year ago [18].

The gross misconduct of the police is enabled by several draconian laws of questionable Constitutional validity, such as the law against sedition in the Indian Penal Code [19], the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act [20], the Armed Forces Special Powers Act [21] and state-specific laws such as the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) [22]. These laws are intended to help the police to bring charges against anyone on no or the flimsiest of evidence or to arrest and detain people for extended periods without charges or evidence. This process of filing false charges and detention based on them, is being used as a punitive tool in itself.

Where there are credible reports of torture or of other grave misconduct by the police, rarely have the police authorities been investigated, or the democratically elected representatives sanctioning systemic abuses held accountable [23].

Therefore, we demand that:

Torture and other prisoner abuses must stop

Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders must end

The practice of filing false charges, extended detentions without trial, and “arrest, detention and trial” as punishment must end

The law against sedition (Section 124A of Indian Penal Code) be abolished

Laws which give unconditional and unchecked power to the authorities, such as UAPA, AFSPA and CSPSA, be abolished

Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi be released immediately and unconditionally

Police and higher level government officials responsible for torturing and pressuring Soni Sori be prosecuted

Pl sign petition here

Below is a short  video (3 min) of the  Republic Day protest against Gallantry awards in San Francisco