Recent Resources for Feminists
Saturday June 24 2017, page 4
Child marriage victims endure widowhood too
By Swathi Vadlamudi
HYDERABAD: Alcohol, accidents claim lives of young men
The link between child marriage and early widowhood could never be starker. Almost all the women who attended a meeting at the International Widows Day on Friday at L.B. Stadium, were victims of child marriage and eventually loss of partner.
Dubarla Yadamma, who was from Katryal village of Wardhannapet mandal in Warangal district, lost her husband to an accident 11 years ago, at the age of 18. She had already been married for six years and was pregnant with a boy after birth of two girls.
“My in-laws brought pressure on me to leave home without my girls and get the foetus aborted. They even offered Rs. 2 lakh, but I refused and stay put in the house. Even now, my children and I have to face a lot of harassment and discrimination,” Yadamma said.
From her village with over 200 families, there are 50 women who lost their husbands at very young age. Most of the men in their productive years succumbed to alcoholism and accidents.
Komuramma alias Lusamma, also from Wardhannapet mandal, lost her husband 10 years ago to liver cirrhosis. She was married at 15 and had five children before her husband died.
“He was employed by the village panchayat for sewer cleaning. After each day’s work, he would drink or he couldn’t sleep,” she recalled. She works as farmhand now.
Alcoholic husband was the reason for early widowhood of Chaganti Sammakka too from Thimmapur village of Warangal. Her husband, who was a farmhand was heavily into drinking and left her with two sons, one mentally unsound.
Though cheap liquor has been controlled after the Telangana Government cracked the whip against it, that has resulted only in increased sales of ‘brand’ liquor, the women say.
The meeting had widows mostly from Warangal and Mahbubabad districts, as the organisation ‘Bala Vikasa’ which organised the event is active there.
The women are also subjected to severe discrimination and abuse, which is so internalised by them that they are unmoved by it.
“Nobody invites us to any auspicious occasion. I cannot attend the functions of my own children,” says Yadamma, with a tinge of sadness, while B. Somakka from Brahmanakothapalli village of Mahbubabad district does not see why the custom should be opposed. She even calls herself a ‘munda’ which is an abusive word in Telugu for widow.
“Why would people invite us to weddings? We are widows!” she exclaims.
“We have to face abuse often in our daily lives. We have learnt to ignore, or else we cannot live,” says Sumalatha, another young widow.
The meeting has demanded a corporation for widows, reservations in education and jobs for children of single mothers and a law against discrimination and abuse.
The America Syndrom Apocalypse, War, and Our Call to Greatness
by Betsy Hartmann
In this thought-provoking, big-idea book, Betsy Hartmann sheds light on a pervasive butuntil nowinvisible theme shaping the American mindset: apocalyptic thinking, or the belief that the end of the world is nigh. Tracing our nation's fixation with doomsday from the Puritans to the present, Hartmann makes a compelling case that apocalyptic fears are deeply intertwined with the American ethos, to our detriment. Hartmann shows how apocalyptic thinking has historically contributed to some of our nation's biggest problems, such as inequality, permanent war, and the exploitation of natural resources. While it is tempting to view these problems as harbingers of the end times, this mindset constricts the collective imagination and precludes social change. The truth is that we have much more control over the future of our planet than we think, and our fatalism is much more dangerous than the apocalypse. In The America Syndrome, Hartmann seeks to reclaim human agency and, in so doing, revise the national narrative. By changing the way we think, we just might change the world.
Betsy Hartmann at Eugene Public Library June26 2017
Betsy Hartmann discusses her latest book, The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War & Our Call to Greatness.
Betsy Hartmann on the Danger of Apocalyptic Thinking
Did you grow up fearing that the end of the world was nigh? In The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Call to Greatness, author and professor emerita of Hampshire College, Betsy Hartmann, sheds light on the way that apocalyptic thinking has shaped
“Betsy Hartmann calmly eviscerates the prophets of apocalypse whether it be Malthusian doomsayers obsessed about brown-skinned immigrants with high birth rates or climate-change fearmongers . . . Hartmann’s book is a timely debunking of anti-intellectualism in American life and of all those demagogues who have stoked American nativist paranoia. The America Syndrome explains the Age of Trump in the deepest cultural sense.” – Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City
“The 'America First' stance espoused by Donald Trump appears as little more than a pastiche of crowd-pleasing campaign tropes, but in fact draws on themes long embedded in American political thought. To guide us through this rich and momentous history, stretching from the Pilgrims' landing in Plymouth to the onset of climate change, there is no better account than Betsy Hartmann's The America Syndrome.” – Michael Klare, author of The Race for What's Left
“Betsy Hartmann has written a compelling tragedy of the American psyche that is a fitting riposte to Trumpery. It's a tragedy about a country that lacks self-awareness, that thinks itself special when it is 'not so special after all.' Militarists and apocalyptic environmentalists alike are caught up in this quagmire of exceptionalism, this tragedy of failed imperialism. Cut the hubris, America; it is your undoing.” – Fred Pearce, environment consultant, New Scientist magazine
Betsy Hartmann writes nonfiction and fiction about important national and global challenges. She is a well-known educator, commentator, and advocate on women’s rights, population, environment, and security concerns. Her new book The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Call to Greatness explores how end-times thinking profoundly influences American foreign policy, environmental politics, and the persistence of injustice. Now in its third edition, Betsy’s feminist classic Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control tackles the powerful myth of overpopulation and its negative consequences for women’s reproductive health and rights. She is also the co-author of A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village and co-editor of the anthology Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties. Her political thrillers The Truth About Fire and Deadly Election explore the threat the Far Right poses to American democracy.
Betsy is professor emerita of Development Studies and senior policy analyst of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She received her BA magna cum laude in South Asian Studies from Yale University and her PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. To learn more about Betsy, visit .
(With liberty and justice for all...) May 23, 2017
How the Threat of Apocalypse Justifies American Empire
A new book argues that in the military’s hands, warnings of world’s end become self-fulfilling prophecies.BY Chris Lehmann
“Everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ,” said Ronald Reagan of the Cold War in 1971. (Getty Images)
We should break the American addiction to world-disfiguring apocalyptic fantasy in favor of a “practical and inclusive radical optimism."
As any casual visitor to a multiplex or a megachurch will attest, the American imagination is in the grip of apocalyptic fantasy. We continually rediscover that the end is nigh, be it in the popcult fables of a zombie apocalypse or the Revelation porn of the Left Behind novels.
In The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Calls to Greatness, Betsy Hartmann traces our apocalypse obsession back to the Puritans. Her argument is pointed: America’s centuries-long courtship with world-ending calamity is crucial to the distinctively American brand of warmaking. By continually seeing ourselves on the brink of catastrophe, we rationalize catastrophic military interventions, one after another. This compulsion to cast ourselves as the chief actors in the drama of history’s end stems, in Hartmann’s view, from our Protestant culture, which created a self-ratifying sense of our national chosenness. “That Americans are special and exceptional, a chosen people to carry out God’s will or else suffer dire consequences, are held to be self-evident truths,” she writes. “So, too, is the belief that war is divinely justified.”
King Philip’s Wara 17th-century campaign to exterminate Native Americans spurred the colonists into reveries over their role as the protectors of Christian civilization. Cotton Mather memorialized the Puritan migration to the New World as “the last conflict with the anti-Christ and the harbinger of the impending millennium.”
Hartmann argues that we should break the American addiction to world-disfiguring apocalyptic fantasy in favor of a “practical and inclusive radical optimism like the kind expressed in the inscription on the side of the Scottish Parliament building: ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.’ ”
She also critiques the apocalyptic rhetoric of modern environmentalism. In two closing chapters on the overblown specter of overpopulation and the all-too-genuine threat of climate change, she shows how far the militarist-apocalyptic mindset has overtaken the movement to save the planet. The predicted “population bomb” now comes off as racist and imperialist folly. Of Malthusianism, she writes:
It convinces many otherwise well-meaning people that it is morally justified to curtail the basic human and reproductive rights of poor people at home and abroad in order to save ourselves and the planet from otherwise certain doom. Likewise, the effort to curtail carbon emissions slips too easily into a vision of an anarchic, violence-ridden social order at the outer reaches of Western civilization, marked by waves of “climate refugees” fleeing rising oceans and deforestation. As Hartmann notes, these civilization-engulfing hordes often turn out, on closer inspection, to be standard-issue economic migrants. They may be fleeing conditions exacerbated by climbing temperatures, but many are already long engaged in migratory searches for geographically and seasonally dispersed work.
Political leaders from John Kerry to Barack Obama to Bernie Sanders all signed on to a version of this fantasy by attributing the Syrian refugee crisis to climate-induced droughtdistancing the resource-depleting regime of Bashar al-Assad from the consequences of its own actions. This “creates the impression that such a mass migration is a neverending “new normal.” Hartmann writes, “Rather than seeing the current crisis as politically rooted and time-limited, we’re encouraged to believe that we’re entering a world of ‘permanent emergency.’ ”
Enter the American national security state. The defense establishment has already rallied to designate climate change as a first-order national security threata move welcomed by many environmentalists.
But, Hartmann writes, we should be careful what we wish for:
Through the securitization of climate change and disaster response, we are being taught to fear the dark people global warming will supposedly set loose. … The more we accept that racialized apocalyptic vision of the future, the more we concede control to the military. And that, in turn, seems our shortest available path to apocalypse now.
Chris Lehmann, a contributing editor of In These Times, is editor-in-chief at Baffler and the author of The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream
Friday June 16 2017
Grenfell Tower fire: BBC denies Lily Allen was pulled from Newsnight due to controversial remarks
Singer had earlier accused government of 'downplaying' real number of fatalities Jacob Stolworthy ? @Jacob_Stol
BBC responds to claims Lily Allen was pulled from Newsnight over controversial Grenfell Tower remarks
The BBC has denied it cancelled Lily Allen's Newsnight appearance because of her controversial comments about the Grenfell Tower blaze on Channel 4 News.
Allen seemed to suggest on social media that she had been pulled from the political show's line-up and replaced by “someone from the council” because of her refusal to hold back on views regarding the catastrophic London fire which destroyed a Kensington tower block and ended the lives of 30.
A spokesperson for the BBC insisted that Allen's appearance was cancelled so as to allow presenter Kirsty Wark the opportunity to conduct a “thorough” interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council who the channel had signed up to appear late on in the day.
The BBC said:
“With live news programmes like Newnight final decisions on guests are often made late in the day which can mean the line up changes at short notice. Newsnight secured an interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council late on Thursday evening and dropped Lily in order to allow time for Kirsty Wark to conduct a thorough accountability interview. Like other BBC outlets, Newsnight has reported official casualty figures but also made it clear that they are expected to rise substantially.”
BBC Newsnight editor Ian Katz elaborated the decision on Twitter, writing: "We generally prioritise iviews with people who can be held accountable."
Allen had earlier appeared on Channel 4 News where she accused the government of "downplaying" the real number of fatalities which, at the time of reporting, was 17.
“I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media,” she told newsreader Jon Snow.
Allen continued “Seventeen? I'm sorry but I'm hearing from people that the figure is much closer to 150, and that many of those people are children.
“Those are off the record numbers I've been given from policemen and from firemen.”
Snow played devil's advocate. While acknowledging that the fatalities will likely increase “very considerably,” the broadcaster suggested that the death toll reports may be clouded due to the difficulty in identifying victims.
Allen later expressed her views on Twitter throughout the evening, taking into account Snow's comments.
“I appreciate the difficulties with identifying bodies, but there are people out here clinging to hope when I don't think there is any,” she wrote before posting a note detailing why she's linking the tragedy to politics.
Allen isn't the only figure from the world being vocal about politics following the incident: Mobo award-winning artist Akala expressed his belief that the victims died “because they were poor.”
A reminder: On Wednesday June 14, even as the Grenfell Tower inferno raged burning many residents alive, Britain's hosting and appearance at the Int. Cricket Champions Trophy took off as scheduled in Cardiff:
1st Semi-final: England v Pakistan at Cardiff - Jun 14, 2017
England 211 (49.5/50 ov); Pakistan 215/2 (37.1/50 ov) Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 77 balls remaining)
Join the dots: Were London bombed by foreign missiles on June 14 would a cricket match have proceeded? Fat chance! Shame on the priorities in today's world.
Friday June 16 2017
Grenfell Tower: Lily Allen accuses the media of 'downplaying' death toll
Most publications have been reporting official death counts from the Met
By Christopher Hooton
Singer and activist Lily Allen has accused the media of dishonesty with regards to its coverage of the number dead in the Grenfell Tower fire.
"I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media," she said during a Channel 4 News interview with Jon Snow.
"Seventeen? I'm sorry but I am hearing from people the figure is much closer to 150 - and that many of those people are children."
On Twitter, she retweeted users saying: "Death toll of #grenfelltower being suppressed by UK MSM" and "when i was down there they said well into triple figures so is probably even more than 150.good on you for telling some truth" (sic).
Most outlets, including The Independent, report official death counts from the Metropolitan Police first and foremost, acknowledging if they are likely to rise but trying to steer clear of estimating the dead.
Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy has said that the death toll is expected to rise significantly, but the tower is currently still too dangerous for firefighters to recover many of the bodies.
“It may be - and I just don't know - it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified,” he said.
"I won't know that until we've gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we've got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.
"Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found but the full search of that whole building we could be talking weeks we could be talking months - it is a very long process.
"There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."
Six bodies have been recovered from outside the 24-storey tower and identified so far, while 11 bodies have been located inside but cannot yet be removed
Friday June 16 2017
Grenfell Tower: Using fire-resistant cladding on Kensington block 'would have cost £5,000 extra'
Type of panels used on flats building reportedly banned in US on tall structures
By Jon Sharman
Smoke and flames rise from Grenfell Tower in west London (AP)
Installing fire-resistant cladding at Grenfell Tower would have cost just £5,000 extra, it has been claimed, after the spotlight fell on the building's facade as a factor in Wednesday's devastating fire.
The Kensington tower block was totally incinerated in the blaze and at least 17 people were killed. It was refurbished in 2016 at a cost of about £8.6m and new aluminium panels were added to the exterior.
A salesman for the US company Reynobond, which produces the panels, told The Times the type of material believed to have been used on Grenfell Tower was banned on tall buildings in the US “because of the fire and smoke spread”.
According to the paper, a flammable version with a plastic core was used at Grenfell Tower, in place of a fire-resistant one that cost £2 more per square metre.
Kensington and Chelsea council documents show the refurbishment, which also included new windows, was intended to provide better insulation and energy efficiency.
Rydon Construction, which refurbished the building, said that it was confident the construction was up to standards.
It said it was "shocked to hear of the devastating fire" but that all the work "met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards".
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded a public inquiry, ordered by the Government, produce an interim report so residents and politicians can get answers sooner about how the disaster happened.
And thousands of homes in tower blocks across the UK are undergoing urgent safety reviews following the fire.
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