Today, February 28 starts the FORTY-NINTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, also known as the Beijing +10 Review and Appraisal. In pre-confernce closed-door meetings, the US is demanding a declaration be put forth that women worldwide will NOT be guaranteed the right to abortion. But at an informal closed-door meeting on Thursday, the United States said it could not accept the declaration because of its concerns that the Beijing platform legalized the right to abortion as a human right, according to several participants. On Friday, the United States proposed an amendment to the draft declaration that would reaffirm the Beijing platform and declaration — but only "while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion," according to the text obtained by The Associated Press. To be clear, and in case you are not up on this, the Beijing Platform states on women's health: 89. Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standardof physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Women's health involves their emotional, social and physical well-being and is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology. However, health and well-being elude the majority of women. A major barrier for women to the achievement of the highest attainable standard of health is inequality, both between men and women and among women in different geographical regions, social classes and indigenous and ethnic groups. In national and international forums, women have emphasized that to attain optimal health throughout the life cycle, equality, including the sharing of family responsibilities, development and peace are necessary conditions. 90. Women have different and unequal access to and use of basic health resources, including primary health services for the prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, malnutrition, anaemia, diarrhoeal diseases, communicable diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases and tuberculosis, among others. Women also have different and unequal opportunities for the protection, promotion and maintenance of their health. In many developing countries, the lack of emergency obstetric services is also of particular concern. Health policies and programmes often perpetuate gender stereotypes and fail to consider socio-economic disparities and other differences among women and may not fully take account of the lack of autonomy of women regarding their health. Women's health is also affected by gender bias in the health system and by the provision of inadequate and inappropriate medical services to women. 91. In many countries, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, a decrease in public health spending and, in some cases, structural adjustment, contribute to the deterioration of public health systems. In addition, privatization of health-care systems without appropriate guarantees of universal access to affordable health care further reduces health-care availability. This situation not only directly affects the health of girls and women, but also places disproportionate responsibilities on women, whose multiple roles, including their roles within the family and the community, are often not acknowledged; hence they do not receive the necessary social, psychological and economic support. 92. Women's right to the enjoyment of the highest standard of health must be secured throughout the whole life cycle in equality with men. Women are affected by many of the same health conditions as men, but women experience them differently. The prevalence among women of poverty and economic dependence, their experience of violence, negative attitudes towards women and girls, racial and other forms of discrimination, the limited power many women have over their sexual and reproductive lives and lack of influence in decision-making are social realities which have an adverse impact on their health. Lack of food and inequitable distribution of food for girls and women in the household, inadequate access to safe water, sanitation facilities and fuel supplies, particularly in rural and poor urban areas, and deficient housing conditions, all overburden women and their families and have a negative effect on their health. Good health is essential to leading a productive and fulfilling life, and the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment. 93. Discrimination against girls, often resulting from son preference, in access to nutrition and health-care services endangers their current and future health and well-being. Conditions that force girls into early marriage, pregnancy and child-bearing and subject them to harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, pose grave health risks. Adolescent girls need, but too often do not have, access to necessary health and nutrition services as they mature. Counselling and access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for adolescents are still inadequate or lacking completely, and a young woman's right to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent is often not considered. Adolescent girls are both biologically and psychosocially more vulnerable than boys to sexual abuse, violence and prostitution, and to the consequences of unprotected and premature sexual relations. The trend towards early sexual experience, combined with a lack of information and services, increases the risk of unwanted and too early pregnancy, HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as unsafe abortions. Early child-bearing continues to be an impediment to improvements in the educational, economic and social status of women in all parts of the world. Overall, for young women early marriage and early motherhood can severely curtail educational and employment opportunities and are likely to have a long-term, adverse impact on the quality of their lives and the lives of their children. Young men are often not educated to respect women's self-determination and to share responsibility with women in matters of sexuality and reproduction. 94. Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. In line with the above definition of reproductive health, reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases. 95. Bearing in mind the above definition, reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents. In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community. The promotion of the responsible exercise of these rights for all people should be the fundamental basis for government- and community-supported policies and programmes in the area of reproductive health, including family planning. As part of their commitment, full attention should be given to the promotion of mutually respectful and equitable gender relations and particularly to meeting the educational and service needs of adolescents to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality. Reproductive health eludes many of the world's people because of such factors as: inadequate levels of knowledge about human sexuality and inappropriate or poor-quality reproductive health information and services; the prevalence of high-risk sexual behaviour; discriminatory social practices; negative attitudes towards women and girls; and the limited power many women and girls have over their sexual and reproductive lives. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of their lack of information and access to relevant services in most countries. Older women and men have distinct reproductive and sexual health issues which are often inadequately addressed. 96. The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relationships between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behaviour and its consequences. 97. Further, women are subject to particular health risks due to inadequate responsiveness and lack of services to meet health needs related to sexuality and reproduction. Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity of women of reproductive age in many parts of the developing world. Similar problems exist to a certain degree in some countries with economies in transition. Unsafe abortions threaten the lives of a large number of women, representing a grave public health problem as it is primarily the poorest and youngest who take the highest risk. Most of these deaths, health problems and injuries are preventable through improved access to adequate health-care services, including safe and effective family planning methods and emergency obstetric care, recognizing the right of women and men to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. These problems and means should be addressed on the basis of the report of the International Conference on Population and Development, with particular reference to relevant paragraphs of the Programme of Action of the Conference.  In most countries, the neglect of women's reproductive rights severely limits their opportunities in public and private life, including opportunities for education and economic and political empowerment. The ability of women to control their own fertility forms an important basis for the enjoyment of other rights. Shared responsibility between women and men in matters related to sexual and reproductive behaviour is also essential to improving women's health. The question needs to be asked, why is the US demanding to restrict women's reproductive rights at a global level. "It goes without saying, therefore, that Beijing does not create any new international human rights," she said. "The United States, it would seem, is simply using this amendment to raise a red flag and frighten other governments." Germain said that at Friday's informal meeting "it was clear that the entire room was in favor of using the draft declaration prepared by the organizers" except the United States which was "totally isolated by its insistence that its proposed amendment remain on the table." Bush has already done gobs of damage to women worldwide, when he reinstated the Global Gag Rule, hours after his first inauguration, and under false pretense, I might add. The horrifying reality of this isolationist and heinous action can be shown in the maternal mortality rates. The maternal mortality rate in the US is 12 per 100.000 live births, compare that to Cancda, which is shown to be 6 per 100,000 live births. In Africa, the rates are much higher. For instance, Sierra Leone is at a whopping 1800 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births; Somalia and Guinea are at 1600 deaths per every 100,000 live births. To view all the regional maternal mortality rates, click here. What does Beijing mean to women around the globe? To those in Afghanistan, Beijing means we still have a long way to go to give women a global voice. Almost 10 years after the Beijing Conference, women around the world are still battling for the recognition of their rights. In Pakistan women still face issues such as forced marriages, "honor" killings, unsafe abortions, low levels of maternal and child health, and gender discrimination. While it is the stark recognition that we have a very long way to go to attain the full aspects of The Beijing Platform, it is also viewed as a declaration of hope. It gave women and governments the tools to guide societies towards equality, including in health. So, why does Bush want to take that away from the millions of women worldwide, that make up the majority of the total population?
Why is there a growing amount of children visiting malnutrition centers? It goes back to cost of housing.
but the link becomes clear when you talk with parents who bring their children into a malnutrition clinic. They usually lack government protection against the private market's steeply rising housing costs. They can't get into public housing; they are languishing on a long waiting list for vouchers that would help pay for private apartments. Or they are immigrants ineligible for government programs. As a result, some find that rent alone soaks up 50 to 75 percent of their earnings.
They have no choice. They have to pay the rent. They have to pay the relentless electricity and telephone bills. In most of the country, they need automobiles to get to work, which means car loans and auto insurance. None of these can be squeezed very much. The main part of the budget that can be squeezed is for food. What happens then is documented by a soon-to-be-published study in which nearly 12,000 low-income households in six cities were surveyed. It found an increased incidence of underweight children in families without housing subsidies.
Malnutrition is connected to decreased learning skills, decreased health. The effects on the brain and the internal body come long before they are visible to our eyes.
This will be an increasing sight, as the HUD rules were changed by this UNCOMPASSIONATE administration. For an industrialized nation to promote and perpetrate malnutrition for the very weakest segment of our population is morally reprehensible. I leave you with this final thought:
Practically every factor that contributes to malnutrition is worsened by a lack of cash. A child's food allergies are harder to address if a family can't afford to offer an array of choices, buy high-nutrition baby formula or live in a neighborhood with stores that stock fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating problems are compounded when working mothers have to pass their children among multiple caregivers who don't provide healthy diets. Malnutrition is also exacerbated by welfare caps and time limits.a
Currently, our adminsitration is "strongly opposing" international restrictions on the use of active sonar. Allies and environmentalists are concerned with the mass strandings of whales near sonar testing/use.
Although an initial Pentagon and Navy draft was four pages long and itemized, in sometimes harsh terms, the service's views on why international sonar regulations are dangerous, the final draft is more restrained.
But the major recommendation remains what the Navy initially proposed: that any efforts to limit the global use of sonar through international negotiations should and will be actively resisted. The military also succeeded in resisting efforts to leave the policy open for changes if evidence of harm becomes more conclusive.
In the past, the Navy "prided" itself on being "good stewards" of the ocean. This current isolationist stance on sonar use is anything but being a good steward.
"This was an opportunity for the Navy to lead the international community in stopping this needless assault on whales and other marine life," he said. "Instead, the Navy is turning the clock backwards and is dragging the rest of the U.S. government along with it."
Shorter version: Fuck marine life.
Amanda takes a look at the beliefs of the Liberty Legal Institute, which is about anything but perserving the First Amendment, and the Establishment Clause.
According to their own website, the insitute has worked diligently to increase the state's right to censor people in direct violation of the First Amendment.
*Note, blogger is acting up again, so this may be replicated
SCOTUS will be hearing two Ten Commandments cases on Wednesday, the first from Texas involving a 6-ft monument and two sidplays in Kentucky. Take a look at some of the sentiments being emailed to Van Orden, not very christian-like sentiments, now, are they?
As he strolls from the Texas Supreme Court to the state Capitol, Thomas Van Orden recounts the ominous e-mails that warn "we're gonna get you" and tell him to "get the hell out" if he can't support the American way of life.
But, these cases are only in part about Christian-like behavior. As those that support these displays contend, we are negating America's early history with regards to religion. However, it is they that are sanitizing our early religious history.
For instance, in pre-revolutionary times, 8 colonies had government-sponsored religions. If you were not of the dominate religion, you could be taxed, jailed, bannished, forced to attend government sponsored churces, or even put to death. Yes, I said death, and it did happen.
Keeping religious displays of one faith out of government buildings is not agnosticizing American people. It is keeping religion out of government and government out of religion. Our Founders, in their infinite wisdom, saw the corruption of these two entities intertwining in France and England. Additionally, government buildings are notpart of the public square. Perhaps, there needs to be a clearer definition of the "public square", but it seems pretty clear to me that government buildings, which are public buildings, are not part of the public square. And as far as the Moses and the 10 Commandments being depicted in the SCOTUS' courtroom, yes, along with 17 OTHER historical and allegorical lawmakers. If it was Moses alone or just the 10 Commandments, I'd say these people had an argument, but as the SCOTUS website clearly explains, this is not so.
But, what is at the heart of this and many other religious oriented cases, as well as city and county passed God Resolutions, is moving our society to a theocracy.
There Is No Crisis has released the first part of a commissioned research report on who is funding the attack on Social Security, which can be read here(.pdf).
From the report:
The United Seniors Association burst onto the political scene full grown from
Richard Viguerie's head in 1992 with a piece of "fright mail" headlined "All the
Social Security Trust Fund Money Is Gone!" and requesting a donation to support
United Senior's efforts to "insure the rights and benefits of America's seniors are
protected."1 It raised millions in its first year of operation, only to plow that money back into Viguerie's direct mail operations, renting mailing lists, paying "letter writers, printers, mailers and other subcontractors, always including Mr. Viguerie himself."2 Paying for direct mail was literally United Seniors' charitable purpose.
Dave, at Seeing The Forest, has more here.
To bloggers and readers alike, if you know of anyone else that may be involved, or information on those involved (as listed in the report) that has not been included in this report, and is pertinent to the issue, please let TINC know by posting in their comments section here,or in the comments section below.
Progress for America has signed up will exploit a 9 year old boy, having him stump for the preznit's SS plan during spring break.
The trip was a brainchild of Stuart Roy, a former aide to Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, who recently joined the DCI Group, a political consultancy here with ties to the Republican Party and Mr. Bush.
Even though this child has beaten Howard Dean in trivia during the DNC, he is allowing himself (and his parents are allowing this) to be used as the new fresh, young face to signify Social Security needs to be changed.
"We'll have Noah there as the face of Social Security reform," Mr. Roy said. "It's about the next generation."
Noah, I perceive, will be a boon to the administration's fight, for who could debate a 9-year old that spouts the preznit's "talking points"?
Noah plans to run for the White House in 2032 - and he wants Social Security addressed before then.
"It will be bankrupt when I'm president," he said.
Has Noah even looked at the multitude of information that contradicts the preznit, or is he taking the preznit at his word, simply because he was "born a republican"? I wonder how much Noah's parent's have talked to him about the consequences of privatization, the consequences of playing the stock market? Have his parent's talked to him about the working-poor that would never be able to put aside money out of their pay to invest in private accounts? Have his parents ever told him that the preznit's so-called plan will push the poor farther down, making them poorer, and lifting the rich making them richer, and the middle-class is disappearing?
I wonder how much Noah understands about living poor. I wonder if he would have the same outlook if his parents had to feed him ramen noodles 2 or 3 times a week, because it was cheap, or fill him up on rice and beans, because his parents couldn't afford veggies. (There is nothing wrong with a dinner of rice and beans, and ramen noodles with an egg cracked into it at the end is actually quite good. But these kinds of fill-ins aren't the kind of food that should be the staple of a child's eating habits, this is, however, similar to how many people in our society eat in order to survive.) I also wonder what Noah's reaction would be if he had to live poor for a few weeks, would he continue to support the preznit's domestic plans?
In the end, I think it's pretty sleazey to use a 9-year old child to push and agenda that does not benefit the majority of the people. This is not to say Noah isn't smart. It's to say that there are a lot of nuances in this debate which the article clearly points out Noah does not have a grasp of, but that this administration is hoping his fresh young face will change people's minds.
Shorter version, fuck the facts, believe in the cute face echoing the talking points.
Sheelzebub links to powerhouse blogger Owukori.
Now all this talk of women bloggers, minority bloggers, bloggers of colour etc is great stuff BUT no one is talking about AFRICAN women bloggers, especially those blogging from Africa rather than the diaspora. If anyone's voice is lost it is that of Africa women. When it comes to the mainstream media and and even the" alternative" so called "progressive" media and that includes the Blogger world, t echnologically we don't exist - but actually we do. A few weeks ago I reported on the African IT initiative
which will provide access to information and communication technologies and community based centers for "e-education, e-health and e-governance initiatives"
The great thing about the initiative is that the centres will be run by women which will put them at the "forefront of information technology development on the continent." Another technology initative is being run by Gender Links which piloted a daily internet link-up between community groups across South Africa's nine provinces during the 16 days activism on Gender Violence last year. They have now formed a partnership with a host of organisations and community NGOs to run seven more Cyber Dialogues linked to a daily paper, the Gem news.
Damn, she's good! I certainly recommend reading this blog regularly.
This is unbelievable!
What you’re looking at is government mesh thrown over the steps to the balcony, and a huge flag covering up all but the tip of a huge cross in the first picture, and the huge amount of people sitting below various armed forces banners in the second.