Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Some Thoughts for Thanksgiving

The following post was submitted by Sha'an Mouliert, the chair of the Building the Beloved Community Issue Committee.
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Some thoughts for Thanksgiving…as I keep hearing the "real" American holiday. In the past, I too, believed the propaganda…the myth of Native Americans and Pilgrims coming together to celebrate surviving harsh times. As a country, we are celebrating the violent occupation and genocidal practices of our government. It amazes me how we can transform something horrific into something celebratory.

I live in Vermont, one of those New England states. We do not have a reservation. The Abenakis do not have aboriginal rights. The federal government claims that Abenakis no longer exist. In the 1930s Dr. Fred Perkins of the University of Vermont along with the Health Department had a eugenics program that was so successful, Hitler sent Nazi representatives to Vermont. The Health Department came into Abenaki homes telling the women they were there to assist them with their health needs, whereas in fact, they were sterilizing them. If what the federal government claims is true, there are no Abenakis in Vermont, I say, Vermont was more successful than the Nazis.

I do not begrudge the spirit of Thanksgiving…people coming together for a meal in thanks and appreciation. However, it might be a time for us to reflect the true history of our nation and the injustices we have perpetrated and continue to perpetrate upon its people.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Middle East News Round Up

Sister WILPFer and WCUSP activist Katharina Harlow occasionally emails a compendium of Middle East news that is amazing. To make it available to a wider audience, I posted it on my personal blog. I chose not to post the entire message here because it is quite long and a message of that length wouldn't adhere to the blog protocol that I wrote.

Please go to Chicken Foot Stew for an amazing round up of Middle East news.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WILPF and NCWO

WILPF and the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO)

One of the ways I still serve U.S. Section WILPF is to represent our venerable organization at the bi-monthly meetings of the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO)in Washington, DC. CJ has suggested I tell a little about that organization. I just attended a very interesting NCWO meeting yesterday, so I am inspired to write about it now.

NCWO originally began as an organization called the Council of Presidents. It grew out of the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985. Most of these women's organizations have national headquarters in Washington, DC. Under the leadership of recent past president, Martha Burk, the group changed the name to the National Council of Women's Organization and has doubled in membership in the last 6 years.

It was Gillian Gilhool, our former Legislative Coordinator, who suggested I attend NCWO meetings as U.S. Section WILPF's national president. Then during the term of our co-presidents, Sandy Silver and Darien De LU, who live in CA, I continued to represent WILPF, since Baltimore is just a short train ride from DC. Chris Morin and Tamara James, our new co-presidents have asked me to continue representing WILPF at the meetings, though Chris is looking forward to coming from Williamsburg, VA to some of the meetings too.

The more than 200 organizations in NCWO include such organizations as the National Organization of Women (NOW), General Federation of Women's Clubs, Black Women's Agenda, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, Women in Government, Jewish Women's Coalition, Inc., League of Women Voters, Girls Incorportated, YWCA of the USA, Organization of Chinese American Women, MANA, A National Latina Organization, Older Women's League (OWL), Digital Sisters, Women's Sports Foundation, American Association of University Women (AAUW), International Black Women for Wages for Housework, Church Women United, National Abortion Federation, Women in Military Service to Amerca Memorial Foundation, Inc,. Catholics for Free Choice, and of course, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

In looking through the index of the NCWO directory, there are various categories to help readers find organizations of interest to them. The categories include Civil Rights, Economic Equality/Justice, Education, Employment/Workplace, Empowerment, Equality, Faith, Family and Work, International, Media, Military, Political Equality, Reproductive Rights, Technology, etc. There is no category in the index for Peace.

WILPF is listed under economic Equality/Justice , Human Rights, and International. There is one other organization called Women Waging Peace...but not enough peace groups for a category of our own. As we all know, it's lonely work.

This just gives a few facts about NCWO. In another blog I will write about some of the issues NCWO is currently dealing with. I feel that it is important that the oldest women's peace organization in the world be represented amid all these other good causes that women have organized around. I distribute our materials at the meetings and try to make sure that WILPF is heard from in major discussions. I'll be glad when Chris can be there to speak on behalf of U.S. WILPF too.

Phyllis Yingling

Friday, November 11, 2005

Action Alert from WCUSP Campaign

The leadership team of the Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East (WCUSP) National Campaign of US WILPF, urge you to voice your solidarity with Dr. Sami Al-Arian who is being tried based on "secret evidence" by the federal government in Florida. Background information and suggested actions are available on my blog.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

US Foreign Aid Spending in 2006

When bills are passed by the House and the Senate, they go to a review committee for reconciliation, to create a unified bill that then must be passed by both houses before it becomes law. The review committee for the foreign aid budget has completed their work. Of interest:
The bill also has $150 million in economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza region, doubling current aid and matching Bush's request. The money is only for projects approved by the U.S. Agency for International Development, not for direct budgetary assistance.

Israel would get $2.3 billion in military assistance, up $60 million from current levels and matching Bush's request. [...]

The bill also has $432 million for international family planning programs, keeping the ban Bush insists on against U.S. foreign aid funding for organizations that support or perform abortions.
From "US lawmakers agree to $20.9 bln in foreign aid," by Vickie Allen for Reuters via AlterNet

Basically, our sisters in Palestine and Israel will be bombarded by more U.S.-funded Israeli weapons and our sisters around the world will continue to have inadequate access to healthcare because of the religious beliefs of the U.S. President. I pray that our work as WILPFers, by challenging U.S. policy directly, will help alleviate the harm done by the misguided appropriations priorities of our elected representatives.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Senate Forced Into Secret Session By Dems to Force Investigation of the Causes of US War on Iraq

This afternoon, Democrat Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV), forced the Senate into a Secret Session to force the Senate to complete investigation of the intelligence used as the basis for invading Iraq in 2003.

Senate Rule 21 which can force the Senate to go into closed session - calling all Senators to the floor and kicking everyone else out - is usually not used as a surprise element by the minority party. The Democrats have finally shown some national leadership by forcing the Senate to create a new bipartisan committee to report on the progress of the Intelligence Committee's investigation into how the Administration sold the US public on going to war.

More information:
"Democrats close Senate to push war probe: Deal struck to advance investigation on prewar intelligence," by CNN with contributions by Ted Barrett

Initial Reactions at AMERICAblog

Senate goes to closed session by BarbinMD on Daily Kos, including explanation of the Closed Senate Rule