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DifferenTakes #40: 10 Reasons to Rethink 'Overpopulation' Print E-mail

 

10 Reasons to Rethink 'Overpopulation'

A Publication of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College , No. 40, Fall 2006

Fears of overpopulation are pervasive in American society. From an early age we are taught that the world is overpopulated and that population pressure is responsible for poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and even political insecurity. If we don’t get population growth under control now, the argument goes, our future is in danger.

Conventional wisdom, however, is not always wise.  Placing the blame on population obscures the powerful economic and political forces that threaten the well-being of both people and the planet. It leads to top-down, target-driven population control programs that undermine voluntary family planning and women’s reproductive rights. It reinforces racism, promoting harmful stereotypes of poor people of color. And it prevents the kind of global understanding we need in order to reach across borders to work together for a more just, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

Here are ten reasons why we should rethink ‘overpopulation.’

1. The population ‘explosion’ is over.  
World population is still growing and is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. However, demographers agree that the era of rapid growth is over. Population growth rates peaked in the 1960s due to dramatic reductions in death rates and increased life expectancy. Since then, with increasing education, urbanization, and women’s work outside the home, birth rates have fallen in almost every part of the world. The average is now 2.7 births per woman. A number of countries, especially in Europe, are now concerned about declining population growth as many women have only one child. The UN projects that
world population will eventually stabilize, falling to 8.3 billion in 2175.

2. The focus on population masks the complex causes of poverty and inequality.

A narrow focus on human numbers obscures the way different economic and political systems operate to perpetuate poverty and inequality. It places the blame on the people with the least amount of resources and power rather than on corrupt governments and economic and political elites. It ignores the legacy of colonialism and the continuing unequal relationship between rich and poor countries, including unfavorable terms of trade and the debt burden. It says nothing about the concentration of much wealth in a few hands. In the late 1990s, the 225 people who comprise the ‘ultra-rich’ had a combined wealth of over US $1 trillion, equivalent to the annual income of the poorest 47% of the world’s people.

3. Hunger is not the result of ‘too many mouths’ to feed.
Global food production has consistently kept pace with population growth, and today world agriculture produces 17% more calories per person than it did 30 years ago. There is enough food for every man, woman and child to have more than the recommended daily calorie intake. People go hungry because they do not have the land on which to grow food or the money with which to buy it. In Brazil, one percent of the land owners control almost half of the country’s arable land, and more land is owned by multinational corporations than all the peasants combined. Globally, more than 1.2 billion people earn less than $1 per day, making it difficult to afford enough food to feed a family. Many governments have failed to make food security a priority. In 2002, when at least 320 million people in India were suffering from hunger, the government tripled its rice and wheat exports. The U.S. is the largest food producer in the world, yet more than one in ten American households are either experiencing hunger or are at the risk of it.

4. Population growth is not the driving force behind environmental degradation.

Blaming environmental degradation on overpopulation lets the real culprits off the hook. In terms of resource consumption alone, the richest fifth of the world’s people consume 66 times as much as the poorest fifth. The U.S. is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming – and the least willing to do anything about it. And just who is destroying the rain forest? While poor peasants sometimes play a role, corporate ranching, mining and logging operations are chiefly responsible for tropical deforestation. Worldwide militaries are major agents of environmental destruction. War ravages natural landscapes and military toxics pollute land, air and water. Nuclear weapons, reactors and waste pose the most deadly environmental threat to the planet. Imagine what a different world it would be if all the resources invested in producing deadly armaments went instead to environmental restoration and the development of cleaner, greener energy sources and technologies.

Focusing on population also blinds us to the positive role many poor people play in protecting the environment. In many parts of the world, small farmers, especially women, are the main preservers of plant biodiversity through cultivating local crop varieties, preserving seeds, and forest stewardship. Recent research in Africa reveals that increasing population densities, if combined with sound agricultural practices, can actually stimulate environmental improvements.

5. Population pressure is not a root cause of political insecurity and conflict.

Blaming population pressure for instability takes the onus off powerful actors and political choices. In 1994, for example, top officials in the Clinton administration blamed the Rwandan genocide on population pressure, diverting attention from the tragic U.S. and U.N. decision not to take effective action to halt it. Especially since 9/11, conflict in the Middle East has been linked to a ‘youth bulge’ of too many young men whose numbers supposedly make them prone to violence. Missing from this simple picture is how oil politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Bush administration’s war on Iraq are causing unrest in the region. Ideas like the ‘youth bulge’ can have very real and lethal consequences. A case in point is Chechnya, where the International Helsinki Federation has charged the Russian army of abducting and murdering young males in a deliberate process of “thinning out a population of young men.”

6. Population control targets women’s fertility and restricts reproductive rights.
Population control programs view women as ‘breeders’ of too many babies without considering the complex circumstances of their lives and their reasons for having children. All women should have access to high quality, voluntary reproductive health services, including safe birth control and abortion. In contrast, population control programs try to drive down birth rates as fast and cheaply as possible through the aggressive promotion of sterilization or long-acting, provider-controlled contraceptives like Norplant and Depo-Provera. In addition to their side effects, these contraceptives pose greater health risks for marginalized women in areas where screening and follow-up care are inadequate or nonexistent. Unlike condoms, they do not protect women from sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.

The 1994 UN population conference in Cairo came out against the use of coercion in population programs, but unfortunately it persists. Today, in India, a number of states punish poor parents who have more than two children by denying them access to government assistance, employment and election to public office. In China, the one-child policy is still enforced through forced sterilizations and abortions. In both countries, the strong preference for bearing at least one son, coupled with restrictive population control policies, has led to sex-selective abortions of female fetuses and skewed sex ratios.

7. Population control programs have a negative effect on basic health care.
Under pressure from international population agencies, many poor countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India made population control a higher priority than primary health care. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s, reducing fertility was considered more important than preventing and treating malaria and other debilitating diseases, improving maternal and child health, and addressing malnutrition. This shift not only took a tragic toll on human life, but left countries without the strong public health infrastructure needed to face new threats like HIV/AIDS. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund further undermined primary health care by forcing countries to cut and/or privatize health services, putting them out of the reach of poor people.

This legacy continues today. Two prominent international family planners recently wrote that in Africa rapid population growth poses more of a threat than AIDS and therefore population control should be a high priority in the region. In actuality, while just over 10% of the world population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, it is home to over 60% of all people living with HIV.

8. Population alarmism encourages apocalyptic thinking that legitimizes human rights abuses.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s famous book The Population Bomb warned that the world was on the brink of massive famine and that in the 1970s “hundreds of millions” of people would starve to death. Though not borne out in reality, such dire predictions have long been popular in the population field. Today, population funding appeals still play on fears of future apocalypse. Fear does more than sell, however. It convinces many otherwise well-meaning people that it is morally justified to curtail the basic human and reproductive rights of poor people in order to save ourselves and the planet from doom. This sense of emergency leads to an elitist moral relativism, in which ‘we’ know best and ‘our’ rights are more worthy than ‘theirs.’ Politically, it legitimizes authoritarianism.

Nowhere is the negative effect of apocalyptic thinking more dramatic than in the case of China. The decision to implement the draconian one-child policy was greatly influenced by the 1972 Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, a deeply flawed computer simulation that incorrectly predicted impending economic and environmental collapse due to population growth.

9. Threatening images of overpopulation reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes and scapegoat immigrants and other vulnerable communities.
Negative media images of starving African babies, poor, pregnant women of color, and hordes of dangerous Third World men drive home the message that ‘those people’ outnumber ‘us.’ Fear of overpopulation in the Third World often translates into fear of increasing immigration to the West, and thereby people of color becoming the majority. Harvard professor Samuel Huntington argues that high numbers of Latino immigrants threaten a unified American Anglo-Protestant culture and identity. Anti-immigrant groups tied to white supremacists strategically deploy population fears to appeal to liberal environmentalists. The demonization of immigrants ignores their positive contributions to the U.S. economy as well as the global economic forces that drive many people to migrate. In Europe, nativist policymakers are urging white women to have more babies to reduce the economy’s dependence on immigrant labor.

In the U.S. there is a strong link between negative images of Third World overpopulation and racist views of African Americans as burdens on society. Eugenics programs and punitive welfare policies have subjected African Americans and other marginalized communities to sterilization and contraceptive abuse because of racist assumptions that their fertility is out of control. Even though women on welfare have on average fewer than two children, the image of the overbreeding ‘welfare queen’ remains firmly fixed in the white imagination.

10. Conventional views of overpopulation stand in the way of greater global understanding and solidarity.
In order to solve the world’s pressing economic, political and environmental problems, we need more global understanding and solidarity, not less. For all the reasons cited above, fears of overpopulation are deeply divisive and harmful. Population control programs distort family planning and diminish human rights. In order to protect and advance women’s reproductive rights in a hostile climate, we urgently need to work together across borders of gender, race, class and nationality. Rethinking population helps open the way.

The Population and Development Program
CLPP, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002
413.559.5506  http://popdev.hampshire.edu
Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors unless otherwise specified.

For more information on population issues, see:
Population in Perspective: A Curriculum Resource, by Mary Lugton with Phoebe McKinney, http://www.populationinperspective.org
Population and Development Program at Hampshire College, http://popdev.hampshire.edu
Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, www.cwpe.org
The Corner House, www.thecornerhouse.org.uk

References

1. The population ‘explosion’ is over.
For a review of population dynamics, see Mary Lugton with Phoebe McKinney, Population in Perspective: A Curriculum Resource, Amherst, MA: Population and Development Program, Hampshire College, 2004, http://www.populationinperspective.org, and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, “World Population Prospects, the 2004 Revision,” February 24, 2005.

2. The focus on population masks the complex causes of poverty and inequality.

Population in Perspective, Section Four, “Population and Poverty,” and Betsy Hartmann, Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control, Boston: South End Press, 1995.

3. Hunger is not the result of ‘too many mouths’ to feed.

Population in Perspective, Section Two, “Population, Food and Hunger.” and Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rossett, World Hunger: Twelve Myths, New York: Grove Press, 1998.

4. Population growth is not the driving force behind environmental degradation.

Population in Perspective, Section Three, “Population and the Environment.” On military and environment, see Joni Seager, “Patriarchal Vandalism: Militaries and the Environment,” in Jael Silliman and Ynestra King, eds., Dangerous Intersections: Feminist Perspectives on Population, Environment and Development, Boston: South End Press, 1999, 163-188. On the positive role many poor people play in protecting the environment, see James K. Boyce and Barry G. Shelley, eds., Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2003. On gender and biodiversity, see Patricia L. Howard, ed., Women and Plants: Gender Relations in Biodiversity Management and Conservation, London: Zed Books, 2003.

5. Population pressure is not a root cause of political insecurity and conflict.

Betsy Hartmann and Anne Hendrixson, “Pernicious Peasants and Angry Young Men: The Strategic Demography of Threats,” in Betsy Hartmann, Banu Subramaniam and Charles Zerner, eds., Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005, 217-237. For more on the youth bulge, see Anne Hendrixson, “Angry Young Men, Veiled Young Women: Constructing a New Population Threat,” Corner House, Briefing No. 34, December 2004, http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk.

6. Population control targets women’s fertility and restricts reproductive rights.

See Reproductive Rights and Wrongs; Amy Oliver and Diana Dukhanova, “Depo-Provera: Old Concerns, New Risks,” DifferenTakes, No. 32, Population and Development Program, Hampshire College, Spring 2005, http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt; Rajani Bhatia, “Ten Years after Cairo: The Resurgence of Coercive Population Control in India,” DifferenTakes, No. 31, Spring 2005, http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt; and Kay Johnson, Wanting a Daughter: Needing a Son, Minneapolis: Yeong and Yeong, 2004.

7. Population control programs have a negative effect on basic health care.

Sarah Sexton, Sumati Nair and Preeti Kirbat, “A Decade after Cairo: Women’s Health in a Free Market Economy,” Corner House, Briefing No. 30, June 2004, http://thecornerhouse.org.uk; John Cleland and Steven Sinding, “What would Malthus say about AIDS in Africa?” The Lancet, Vol. 366, Issue 9500, Pages 1899-1901 (November 26, 2005); UNAIDS: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, http://www.unaids.org/en/Regions_Countries/Regions/SubSaharanAfrica.asp.

8. Population alarmism encourages apocalyptic thinking that legitimizes human rights abuses.

John Dryzek, “Looming Tragedy: Survivalism,” in The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, 23-44; Susan Greenhalgh, “Science, Modernity and the Making of China’s One-Child Policy,” Population and Development Review, Vol. 29, No. 2 (June 2003), 163-196; Larry Lohmann, “Malthusianism and the Terror of Scarcity,” in Hartmann et al, eds., Making Threats, 81-98.

9. Threatening images of overpopulation reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes and scapegoat immigrants and other vulnerable communities.

Elynor Lord, “The Huntington Challenge: Why “The Hispanic Challenge” Should be Discredited,” DifferenTakes, Fall 2004, http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt; Adam Werbach, “Hostile Takeover: Anti-Immigration Coalition Seeks Control of Sierra Club,” In These Times, March 9, 2004; Binta Jeffers, “Population Control Imagery: Stopping the Blame,” computer graphic presentation, Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, forthcoming 2006; Jael Silliman and Anannya Bhattacharjee, eds., Policing the National Body: Race, Gender and Criminalization, Cambridge. MA: South End Press, 2002; Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, New York: Pantheon Books, 1997; Elizabeth L. Krause, “Dangerous Demographies: The Scientific Manufacture of Fear,” Corner House, Briefing No. 36, July 2006, www.thecornerhouse.org.uk.

10. Conventional views of overpopulation stand in the way of greater global understanding and solidarity.

See Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross and Elena R. Gutiérrez, Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organiz for Reproductive Justice, Boston: South End Press, 2004; Adam Werbach, “End of the Population Movement, The America  Prospect, October 5, 2005; and “Call for a New Approach” in Silliman and King, eds., Dangerous Intersections, xx-xxi.

Pratibha Parmar (director), Andrea Gibb (author): Nina's Heavenly Delights Print E-mail


Verve Pictures invite you to sample Nina's Heavenly Delights - a romantic feast rich with the tastes of life, love and spices.
Nina Shah is a feisty young woman who left home under a cloud after a row with her father. After his sudden death, Nina returns to the family owned Indian restaurant.

Her return brings her face to face with many surprises - her father's gambling debts, potent friendships from her childhood, Bollywood spectacle all blended with romance and laughter. With courage and enormous vitality Nina battles to win back the family business, win the Best of the West curry competition. and finds the divine taste of love in this spicy, mouth-watering, feel-good comedy.

Starring: Laura Fraser, Art Malik, Ronny Jhutti, Veena Sood, Shelley Conn
Directed by: Pratibha Parmar
Written by: Andrea Gibb
Release date: September 29th 2006
Running time: 94 mins
Certificate: PG
Ann Richards: First woman elected Governor of Texas*, September 1 1933 - September 13 2006 Print E-mail

* Considered the first woman elected Governor of Texas in her own right, she served in that post from 1991 to 1995

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1933 ANN RICHARDS 2006 [Scroll down to read Wikipedia entry]


Thursday September14, 2006

Groundbreaking politician, quintessential Texas woman

The feisty homemaker who rose to governor dies after 6-month fight with cancer

By R.G. RATCLIFFE and ANNE MARIE KILDAY

AUSTIN ­ The late former Gov. Ann Richards will lie in state in the rotunda of the state Capitol on Saturday and Sunday with her funeral on Monday, Richards' office announced today.

Richards, who shed the role of homemaker to rise through Texas politics to become the state's 45th governor and a national celebrity, died Wednesday night after a six-month battle with cancer. She was 73.

Visitation in the rotunda will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. The funeral will be at noon Monday in the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas, with a private burial following in the state cemetery.

Richards was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in March.

She was the quintessential Texas woman, with a sassy homespun charm, sharp wit and tough pioneer spirit. With bright silver hair, a weathered face and an affinity for cobalt blue suits and pearls, Richards was instantly recognizable to national television audiences.

The 1994 contest for governor between Richards and Republican George W. Bush was spirited. But he won and it put him on the road to the White House.

The president today offered expressed a sense of loss over hearing about Richards' death on Wednesday. Bush said he and his wife, Laura, were saddened by the news.

"Ann loved Texas, and Texans loved her,'' Bush said.

"Ann became a national role model, and her charm, wit and candor brought a refreshing vitality to public life,'' the president said. "Texas has lost one of its great daughters.''

As a Democratic politician, Richards' 1990 race for governor against Republican cowboy oilman Clayton Williams became a battle of the sexes. Her victory symbolically broke down gender barriers for a generation of Texas women who were seeking professional careers.

Richards labeled her administration the "New Texas," appointing more Hispanics, blacks and women to state boards and commissions than any previous governor. She pushed for increases in public education funding and promoted business expansion in the state.

A recovering alcoholic, Richards also pressed lawmakers to increase funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs.

Polls showed Richards was the most personally popular governor in 30 years. But a liberal image kept her job approval rating beneath 50 percent, and she lost her 1994 re-election bid to Bush.

Late in her term as governor, the Houston Chronicle asked Richards how she viewed her gubernatorial legacy.

"How about, 'She changed the economic future of Texas,' " Richards replied. "And that really beats what I feared my tombstone was going to say, and that was: 'She kept a really clean house.'"

Richards was born Dorothy Ann Willis in the front bedroom of a white frame house in what is now Lacy-Lakeview, a Waco suburb. Her father, Cecil Willis, was a pharmaceutical salesman. Her mother, Ona, was a homemaker.

After earning a bachelor's degree at Baylor University in 1954, Richards did additional course work at the University of Texas to earn a teaching certificate. For a year she taught social studies and history at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin.

Richards married her high school sweetheart, David Richards, while still at Baylor. They had four children: Cecile, Clark, Ellen and Dan. As David practiced law in Dallas, Ann was a full-time mother and homemaker and a part-time political volunteer.

"I was mostly involved with my babies. We did everything by Dr. Spock; if you did not have a Dr. Spock book, you could not raise a child," Richards said in her autobiography, Straight from the Heart.

The Richards moved to Austin in 1969. Three years later, Ann Richards took her first big step toward becoming a politician, agreeing to help run a legislative campaign for Sarah Weddington.

Weddington was the 25-year-old lawyer who had won the Roe v. Wade case in the Supreme Court legalizing abortion. Weddington wanted to win a seat in the Texas House to push for laws giving women equal rights with men, such as giving a woman a right to credit in her own name and not her husband's.

Weddington won, and in her second term she hired Richards as her legislative director.

The political transformation began in 1975, when a group of Austin activist approached David Richards and asked him to run for county commissioner. When David declined, Ann decided to run for the seat, defeating an incumbent.

But while Richards political career was blossoming as a Travis County commissioner, her personal life was deteriorating. Her marriage to David was failing as they grew apart, and Richards began drinking heavily in Austin's political bars after work every day.

On Sept. 27, 1980, her family and friends cornered her in the living room of a friend's house and told her she was an alcoholic who needed treatment. Richards received treatment at the St. Mary's Chemical Dependency Center in Minnesota.

Afterward, she became a lifetime advocate for people suffering from alcohol and substance abuse problems. She helped pass laws requiring insurance companies to pay for treatment and she convinced legislators to fund expanded substance abuse programs for state prison inmates.

While the alcoholism treatment saved Richards, she said in her autobiography, the change of lifestyle that went along with being sober finished her marriage. She and David split in December 1980 and ultimately divorced in 1984.

Richards plunged into statewide politics in 1982 after discovering state Treasurer Warren G. Harding was under investigation by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle for possible misuse of office.

Friends convinced Richards to challenge Harding in the Democratic primary, and she ended up in a runoff with him. But Harding was indicted on charges that he used state employees to send out political mail. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and dropped out of the race, effectively giving Richards her first statewide victory.

As state treasurer, Richards was a little-noticed public official. She managed state investments and the sale of bonds and cash management notes. She was best known on the "rubber chicken" circuit, making humorous speeches to civic organizations, women's groups and Democratic clubs.

Her profile changed dramatically in 1988 when Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk asked her to be the keynote speaker at the party's national convention that summer. Her speech was to draw differences between the parties and take aim a fellow Texan: Vice President George Bush, the GOP nominee for president.

Richards thrilled her national audience with some of her feminist humor on the ability of women to equal men: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

What became memorable, though, was a line she delivered to show Bush was out of touch with the economic and family issues that were important to poor and middle class Americans.

"Poor George, he can't help it ­ he was born with a silver foot in his mouth," Richards said.

Bush dismissed Richards' statement, accurately predicting he would carry Texas that fall.

"If you just go nasty, go ugly, that isn't an effective way to do business," Bush said.

In a statement today, Bush said of Richards: "I joined millions in laughing at the 'silver foot' comment, which doesn't mean I wasn't happy when she was defeated by our son a few years later. But that's politics, and Ann was one of the best in that arena. Texas will miss her."

Richards' speech set the stage for her to run for governor in 1990. She defeated former Gov. Mark White in the primary and then Attorney General Jim Mattox in the runoff.

The runoff became nasty as Mattox accused Richards of illegally using cocaine and seeing treatment for a cocaine addiction. Richards declined to answer any questions about possible past drug use.

The general election race against Williams became a classic Texas political battle. She was the image of the modern Texas woman, while Williams projected the cowboy aura of the state's heritage.

Williams was a cowboy who had become a millionaire oilman and had expanded his empire into telecommunications and banking.

Richards played off his mistakes. Williams once compared bad weather to rape, saying there is nothing to be done about it so "relax and enjoy it." He also refused to shake Richards' hand after she had criticized some of his business practices.

The state's male vote gave Williams the edge, but women voted overwhelmingly for Richards.

Richards became the first woman to win the Texas governor's office in her own right. Miriam "Ma" Ferguson had won the office in 1924 as a surrogate for her husband, former Gov. James Ferguson.

During her first year in office, Richards signed a $2.7 billion tax bill to balance the state's budget. The state also adopted the lottery under her.

Her most notable achievement was opening the doors of government to people other than Anglos and men. About 44 percent of her appointees were female; 20 percent Hispanic; and 14 percent black. Her two predecessors in office had given more than 77 percent of their appointments to Anglo men.

The biggest problem that faced Richards was overhauling the state's public school finance system under orders from the Texas Supreme Court.

Voters soundly defeated a proposed constitutional amendment she supported to redistribute wealth from rich school districts to poor ones. Opponents labeled it a "Robin Hood" system.

Richards then urged the Legislature to come up with just about any school finance plan that would save Texas ­ and her ­ the embarrassment of forced school closures. Lawmakers responded with a plan that gave wealthier districts five options for sharing their property wealth. That plan also became known as "Robin Hood."

During her tenure, Richards' popularity continued to expand to a national audience. She was featured in Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal and The New York Times Magazine. Superstar photographer Annie Leibovitz took a portrait of her for Vanity Fair. Richards traded one-liners with late-night talk show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman.

Richards' personal charm probably played best in the area of economic development. She once described herself as a "two-headed cow," a curiosity that corporate leaders allow through the door just so they can see her.

She could brag about getting General Motors to keep its Arlington plant open, as the company was partly motivated by a package of state incentives. She persuaded Southwestern Bell to move its corporate headquarters from St. Louis to San Antonio. She convinced computer giant Apple to consolidate its customer service operations in Williamson County.

Richards went into her 1994 re-election campaign against the younger Bush with the highest personal popularity ratings of any governor in 30 years, but her job approval ratings rarely topped 45 percent in public opinion polls.

Richards' frustration erupted at one point when she questioned Bush's experience to serve as Texas governor and his criticism of her record. She called him "some jerk who's running for public office."

Bush studiously avoided engaging Richards in a personality contest. Focused on issues and aided by a national tide toward Republicans, Bush defeated Richards.

After leaving office, Richards became a client recruiter and lobbyist from the firms of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand of Washington, D.C., and then later Public Strategies of Austin. She also was a frequent guest on CNN talk shows, particularly Larry King Live.

In her farewell news conference as governor, Richards said she was ready to move to the next phase of her life. The homemaker-turned-politician wanted to earn the money that would make her secure in retirement.

"Life is like a layer cake," Richards said. "You put one layer on top of the other, and whether you frost it or not is up to you. I'm looking forward now to a little frosting."
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Thursday - September 14, 2006

Richards remembered as "a true Texas hero"

By ANNE MARIE KILDAY

After voting early one afternoon at the Travis County courthouse, Gov. Ann Richards held up her Department of Public Safety detail to admire a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Richards carefully studied the bike, admiring its shiny chrome in the October sunlight, its size, shape and color.

When a reporter queried the governor about what she was doing, Richards replied: "I am trying to decide whether I want a cruise, or a Harley for my 60th birthday."

It was a short news story, accompanied by a photograph, that got noticed by the motorcycle company's moguls. Within hours of publication, Richards had a letter offering her a Harley-Davidson.

Richards, 73, died Wednesday after a six-month battle against esophageal cancer. Her death prompted others to praise her legacy to Texas and her well-known wit that made her national political star.

Richards' former press secretary Bill Cryer of Austin, recalled the whole Harley-Davidson saga.

"Right after that story, she came into my office and said, 'You're going to have to learn to ride a motorcycle with me.' So, she and I spent every Sunday (the next) August, learning how to ride a motorcycle, out on the Department of Public Safety headquarters' parking lot," Cryer said. "She got her license, and I got my license. And I still ride a motorcycle."

On her 60th birthday, Richards went to the DPS and passed the test for her motorcycle license. She donated the Harley-Davidson to the DPS' motorcycle safety training classes.

Cryer, who worked for Richards while she was state treasurer and governor, recalled: "It was 10 years of a great deal of fun, actually."

Texas Monthly superimposed Richards' face on a model dressed in white leather, riding a white Harley-Davidson with the headline: "White Hot Mama."

Cryer still remembers Richards' initial reaction: "I only wish I had thighs like that woman," the governor said.

On a night of mourning Richards' death, former employees, friends and politicians spent a little time laughing Wednesday over Richards' sparkling wit and love of life.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison , R-Texas, said: "Ann Richards was a trailblazer in our beloved state of Texas. She was fun, and funny, and irreverent and loved life."

" My thoughts are with her family at this sad time," Hutchison said.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie called Richards "a true Texas hero."

"Tonight, we lost a true Texas hero in Ann Richards. Ann knew the real meaning of public service, and her dedication to empowering others was evident throughout her entire political career. Ann was a trailblazer and a real treasure, and I know people of all political persuasions are saddened by her passing.

"I want to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Governor Richards. They are in our thoughts and prayers during this time of grief," Richie said.

Austin political consultant Glenn Smith,a former reporter who worked for former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, managed both of Richards' campaigns for governor.

"The first time I really got a chance to know her was when I was working for Hobby, and we went to the McDonald Observatory," Smith said. "I laughed that whole weekend."

The following Monday, Smith and Richards were featured speakers at an Austin gathering of students from Tarrant County Junior College.

"And Ann got up and introduced me by saying, "I just spent the weekend under the stars with him," Smith recalled, laughing.

John Fainter , who was Richards' chief of staff, said that Richards brought a "new openness" to Texas government.

"I think she brought an openness, a willingness to have all sides heard on things, to bring in a lot of groups and interests that had not been heard before, and had not had a chance to participate," Fainter said. "And you simply can't dissociate her sense of humor from all that she did."

Referring to Richards' 25-plus years of recovery from alcoholism, Fainter said: "Her own experiences in life brought Ann the ability to deal with things with strength, in a manner that other people might not have had. She had the ability to face issues, and not to put it off or leave it to someone else to deal with," Fainter said.

"And, it was just fun to be around her," Fainter said.

Richards was an avid Lady Longhorns fan, and frequently brought her granddaughter, Lily, named after her friend comedienne Lily Tomlin, to the basketball games at the University of Texas at Austin.

She also loved attending movies, although she was known to talk too loudly for her friends' comfort. Still, Richards recently made a filmed "announcement" for the Alamo Draught House, a theater in Austin.

The announcement shows Richards leaving her office and walking into a movie theater, as she says: "Turn off your cell phone, or Ann Richards will take your ass out!"

Richards ­ and many other Democrats ­ used to frequent a small Mexican food cafe on Congress Avenue, Las Manitas.( Republicans go there now.)

Once, Richards ordered a cappucino, and the waitress apologetically explained that they only had coffee. True to her generous spirit (and selfish to her love for cappucino) Richards bought the owners of the small restaurant a beautiful, copper cappucino maker.

There is an official portrait of Ann Richards next to the cash register at Las Manitas. With her irreverent sense of humor, Richards signed it: "Thanks for all the great food. Love, Meg Ryan."

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Read more...
Toronto Aids Conference: The outrageous apathy of declaring need to address women's concerns in 2006 Print E-mail

Refer Feminist Research: Corea, Gena. The Invisble Epidemic: The Story of Women and AIDS (New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1992, and at the time was widely acknowledged as the female  equivalent of Randy Stilts' classic, And the Band Played On .... , plus in December of 1992 was listed in The New York Times Book Review "Notable Books of the Year".

Under which rock were these "experts" hiding from 1992 until 2004 when they first admitted the feminized face of HIV/AIDS?

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August 18, 2006

Aids: Women, children in brunt of pandemic

AFP

TORONTO, Canada -- From a disease that 25 years ago seemed only to target gays, Aids today principally has women and children in its cross hairs, according to evidence and testimony presented at the 16th International Aids Conference in Toronto, Canada.

"HIV/Aids is progressively taking on the face of a woman. It's absolutely essential that we address the special concerns of women and allow them to protect themselves," said Anthony Fauci, head of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

On the global scale, women have now caught up with men, who in the past accounted for the big majority of HIV infections.

In southern Africa, the world's worst-hit region, the female-male rate is nearly 60-40 percent. Around the world, females account for two thirds of infections among people aged 15 to 24.

The reasons for why this is so are long.

One is physiology: compared with men, women are physically twice as much at risk of becoming infected when exposed to the Aids virus.

But there are many factors that have entrenched social roots.

Lack of empowerment leaves women, especially those in Africa, prey to coercive sex with an infected man. A study found that in South Africa's poorest districts, between 30 and 60 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 16, said that they had been pressured into sexual intercourse.

Stigma against women with HIV is such that an infected woman can become an outcast. Poverty or hunger afflicting women and girls can force them into prostitution or sexual transaction.

And to protect themselves against HIV, women have to depend on men's goodwill, for today the only reliable shield is a condom.

Workshops, seminars, and speeches at the Aids conference, which ends in Toronto Friday, showed the breadth and depth of this phenomenon.

They also gave voice to rising anger and resentment at governments and male attitudes, and demands for women to be given the means to protect themselves, through legal reform, social change, and new tools such as vaginal anti-HIV gels.

"Are you ready to mobilize yourselves?" Ludfine Anyango of a Kenyan NGO, ActionAID, yelled to a room crammed with impassioned activists. "Are you ready to make your leaders angry enough to hand rights to the women?"

Musa Njoko, who 10 years ago became the first woman in South Africa to publicly acknowledge that she had HIV, electrified a meeting of several hundred delegates with her tale.

"As a mother I was told to go home and tell my son, who was two at the time, that I was dying.

"I was also told to tell the rest of my family: and that was my mother. My 72-year-old mother had to find a way to deal with it," said Njoko, whose life was saved by antiretroviral drugs.

"Marriage is a license to do what you want with your wife," was the acid comment of Nafis Sadik, a Pakistani woman who is the UN's special envoy for HIV/Aids in Asia.

The spotlight has also shifted to the smallest, least visible victims of the Aids pandemic.

Africa's army of children orphaned by Aids, which stood at 12 million last year, could reach more than 15 million by the end of the decade, said a report presented by UNAIDS, the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), and President George W. Bush's emergency Aids program.

Children who lose their parents to Aids, or live in a household where their parents are sick with HIV, are likely to be plunged into a life without adequate education, prey to poverty, stigma, sexual abuse, and exploitation, they said.

"We must do more to help. Millions of children affected by Aids are out of school, growing up alone, vulnerable to poverty, marginalization, and discrimination," Unicef deputy executive director Rima Salah said.

"Children who have lost parents and caregivers are left without their first line of defense."

Then there are the more than 2.3 million children who have the virus, most of whom contracted it from their mother while still in the womb or in childbirth.

"Every minute, a child under the age of 15 is infected with HIV. Aids kills over 1,000 children every day and claims roughly half-a-million young lives every year," said the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Studies cited in a presentation by the Global Aids Alliance Thursday painted a nightmarish tableau of rape and assault visited on women and children, and the role that this played in helping HIV spread.
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The World Health Organization, reports journalist Corea ( The Mother Machine ), estimates that by the year 2000, HIV-positive women will outnumber similarly infected men. In this eye-opening account of women's struggle to be counted as victims, not only as transmitters, of this deadly disease,..
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The Invisible Epidemic: the Story of Women and Aids

Author: Gena Corea 

Binding: Hardcover
Publisher: Harpercollins
Date Published: 1992
ISBN: 0060166487
Description: 0060166487 From Publishers Weekly The World Health Organization, reports journalist Corea ( The Mother Machine ), estimates that by the year 2000, HIV-positive women will outnumber similarly infected men. In this eye-opening account of women's struggle to be counted as victims, not only as transmitters, of this deadly disease, Corea, associate director of the Institute on Women and Technology, chronicles in profiles and with statis tics how the disease has affected women from a variety of backgrounds. She details the heroic early efforts of attorneys, television producers, prisoners and medical researchers to make the medical establishment acknowledge a disease that was killing women as well as men. With anger and acumen, Corea traces an American tragedy that is both a medical and a social issue. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal This important book provides a dramatic look at women affected by AIDS--patients, health workers, scientists, and caregivers. Using in-depth interviews and sources in the popular and scientific literature, Corea offers a chronology of the impact of this epidemic on the female population. In doing so, she brings to light an even greater problem--the fact that women have been systematically ignored and neglected by the medical establishment in both research and the provision of health services. Unlike Christopher Norwood's Advice for Life: A Woman's Guide to AIDS Risks & Prevention (Pantheon, 1987) and Diane Richardson's Women and AIDS ( LJ 12/87), which offer only practical health information, this book deals with the larger social and ethical aspects of the AIDS epidemic. Sure to be a classic like Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On ( LJ 11/15/87), Corea's work is highly recommended for all collections. -Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., Cal. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Languages: English
Alibris ID: 8833507782
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Lisa Bellear: Inspiring & dynamic warrior, May 2 1961 - July 5 2006 Print E-mail



"An artist is not a special kind of a person -- every person is a special kind of an artist" -- Ananda Coomaraswami

IN LOVING MEMORY OF LISA BELLEAR

 

Noonuccal people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), Queensland

When someone who shines this brightly leaves us, it can be so painful to go on.

Must we outlive everyone we love and who inspires us? But we must go on.

We must go on because people like Lisa would say, "Come on tidda (sister), the sky is still blue outside and the sun is still shining."

And we must go on because while we live here, we can at least hold their everlasting spirit within.

People like Lisa Bellear will always inspire us, no matter where they are, in the flesh or in spirit.

Lisa lives on inside ALL who love her.

We will go on because we are each the source of our own love.

As difficult as it may be, we will go on and we will make even more effort than we did before, to nurture, respect and support our indigneous Australian brothers and sisters.

Lisa would have wanted it that way.

We'll love you always, Tidda.

Safe journeys. XXX - From all of us at The Thylazine Foundation

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Sydney Morning Herald -- Monday July 24 2006

An inspiring, dynamic warrior woman

 

Lisa Bellear, 1961-2006

Lisa Bellear was an integral and admired part of the new face of radicalised Aboriginal arts, a poet, photographer, activist, spokeswoman, dramatist, comedian and broadcaster.

One night earlier this month she said goodnight and went to bed at her home in Brunswick, Melbourne. The next morning the clean-living, apparently healthy Minjungbul woman was dead.

She was found in peaceful repose by morning light, leaving relatives and friends to comfort each other in their shock. Bellear was just 45, and the coroner reported that she had an unusually enlarged heart.

Lisa Marie Bellear documented a quarter-century of mostly Aboriginal community life, especially in the fields of politics and the arts.

Her passion for social change saw her contribute to myriad campaigns and groups - protests at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games; academics and students she taught and studied with at universities, including Melbourne and La Trobe; Sorry Day; the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee; poets; feminists; lesbians; the National Day of Healing; the stolen generations; Brunswick Power football team; and the Labor Party.

She broadcast on 3CR in Victoria, where she helped found Not Another Koori Show more than 20 years ago. And she was a "relentless" photographer whose shots represented Australia at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Nearly 1000 mourners attended her funeral at the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League in Thornbury, spilling out of the building.

"If you're a blackfella in this town, you go to a lot of funerals," her friend and fellow activist Gary Foley said, "but I've never seen that before, where people wait for the coffin and clap it when it goes by. It's the sign of an amazing person. She was dynamic … inspirational."

A painter, Richard Bell, who was a pallbearer, recalled how Bellear would get her photographic subjects to relax: "She had this strategy. She got them to take a photograph of her. There was an exchange there, between her subject and herself. People gave themselves freely."

Australia's record of stiff, long-suffering, staged shots of Aborigines was in contrast to Bellear's casual snaps of moments of solidarity, levity and self-discovery.

The former Victorian premier Joan Kirner recalled how Bellear always called her "Premier", even when others called her "the guilty party".

Mick Edwards, captain of the Fitzroy Stars football team, told how Bellear and a fellow poet and playwright, John Harding, had sponsored him when he came out of an institution: "Lisa calmed me. She was like a general - determined and disciplined."

A state funeral was held in Sydney last year for Lisa's uncle, Bob Bellear, Australia's first Aboriginal judge who, with his brother Sol, helped found the Aboriginal Housing Corporation in Redfern in 1972.

Their sister, Joycelyn "Binks" Bellear, from Mullumbimby, had died in Lismore Hospital in 1961, when her baby Lisa was just weeks old. The father walked away and the girl was adopted by a family in country Victoria, a situation that eventually became traumatic, although she remained close to her adoptive brother, John Stewart.

Bellear escaped by boarding at Ballarat's Sacred Heart College before starting a bachelor of social work at Melbourne University, where she topped her graduation class.

She and John Harding were the only two black faces on campus. Harding "melted" under Bellear's beaming smile, and introduced her to the Harding mob, including his influential mother, Eleanor, and sisters, the arts administrator Janina and the artist Destiny Deacon.

"She was always on the go," Harding said. "Frenetic energy: 'Ah-ah-ah - I've gotta go!' You'd watch her and you'd want to take Valium."

She did not want to find her family at first but Destiny Deacon encouraged her. When they finally met, her grandmother, Sadie, fainted on the railway platform. But, for Bellear, the healing could begin.

Bellear wrote Dreaming In Urban Areas (UQP, 1996), a book of poetry. She was a founding member of the Ilbijerri Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-op, the longest-running Aboriginal theatre troupe in Australia, whose recent production of street theatre, The Dirty Mile, was based on a Bellear idea and developed by Foley, Harding and the director, Kylie Belling.

The self-professed "warrior woman" has, in the words of the funeral service, "gone back to the Dreaming". Her life had lit a fire, not the kind that burns things down, but that lights the way.

Her body was buried at Mullumbimby cemetery, close to her mother, as she requested, and to her maternal great-grandfather, Jack Corowa, a Vanuatu man blackbirded to cut cane.

Jen Jewel Brown

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