Because they both start with the letter W.
Welcome to my first (and perhaps only) Wednesday Witness! This is my Hump Day report, some news to boost your spirits or invigorate your mind to help you get through the rest of the week.
We’re alive in one of the most interesting times in the history of the world.
Sure we’ve always had wars, political uprisings, communication and Revolution, but now we also have
So sit back
Grab a cuppa
and enjoy this week’s edition of
HUMP DAY NEWS
May 02 2012
Yesterday for International Workers Day hundreds of thousands of people all around the world took to the streets. Over 100,000 people marched in Moscow including Vladimir Putin and his wife, thousands of people were in Spain and Ankara, and thousands of people were in New York. In Oakland, CA police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. In Massachusetts there were also several demonstrations. Unfortunately, what I saw of mainstream U.S. news did a fairly awful job of covering the gatherings and making them appear to be trivial acts, and much smaller than they actually were.
My colleague (and friend) Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space wrote today on his blog that he read a CNN article declaring that only 40 people turned up in NYC yesterday, a statement he posted under a picture of hundreds with a banner that reads “OCCUPY WALL STREET”.
Bruce has just returned from a month long speaking tour from Portland to Toronto, speaking about the situation on Jeju Island, drones, the Global Network and his own experiences in the peace movement. He’ll be speaking soon in Portland and Chicago and if you’re around I highly recommend you make the trip out to hear him speak. You are guaranteed to learn something new.
The company that wants to open a new uranium mine in Wiluna, Western Australia has just gotten heat for having Canadian doctor Doug Boreham speak publicly in favor of radiation as not only safe, but ‘good for you’. The UN Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation and other groups have refuted this bogus claim, and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War sent in a submission with signatures of 45 doctors demanding that Toro Energy stop promoting radiation as safe. This message comes at a time when the reactors from Fukushima are still leaking radioactive water and in my own state of Massachusetts, Pilgrim Nuclear is applying for re-licensing 30 years early, despite leaks and holes.
This week, the third episode of Julian Assange’s The World Tomorrow features an interview with current president of Tunisia, Mouncef Marzouki. An outspoken human rights activist, Marzouki was imprisoned under the previous regime. Assange’s show is exciting, and comes at a time when such open conversation is sincerely needed. It is interesting hearing from Marzouki, keeping in mind that Tunisia is the country that started the Arab Sprin Revolutions when fruit vendor Mouhammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in 2010 after harassment from government officials.
The interview includes questions about Marzouki’s cabinet and military members people who previously put him in solitary confinement in prison and were keeping actvists such as himself out of the public eye. Assange also compares Hezbollah’s relatively soft stance on al-Assad’s massacre in Syria and hard stance on Beruit prisons with Tunisia’s opposite stance and asks why that is. Another wonderful episode, Marzouki assures Assange that if anything happens to him he is welcome in Tunisia.
The World Tomorrow is the new ongoing video project of the Revolution, and if you haven’t seen it yet (what on earth are you doing with your life) then catch up on the first two episodes!
Full episode –>
Episode II: Horowitz – Zizek –>
Episode I: Nasrallah –>
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Parliament
Today Aun San Suu Kyi and 42 other members of her political party the National League for Democracy (NLD) made their first appearance in Parliament swearing to “Be loyal to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and citizenry and always hold in esteem the nondisintegration of the union”. After a short hiatus of this ceremony (a boycott during which time Suu Kyi hoped to change the Constitution that allows 25% of Parliamentary seats to be held by members of the military) they were sworn in, in a historic event and after decades of house arrest, political and political unrest.
It is a powerful time for Burma and for Suu Kyi who, following in the footsteps of her father, the revolutionary Bogyoke Aung San will undoubtedly continue to create change for her country and her people.
U.S. Campaign for Burma–>
All Burma Monks Alliance –>
Yesterday I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Jesse and Collin two travelers from Cleveland and LA, respectively.
I walked from my mother’s home in Gardner to the bus stop behind the post office in the cold drizzling gray, only to find it already occupied.
I walked in and met Jesse and Collin who had just come from Allston MA, by way of a freight train, a gondola, and several basement shows.
An old friend who was recently discharged from the army joined us, and by the time the four of us got on the bus to Fitchburg were debating violence vs. Non-violence, the role of France in World War II, human instinct and nomadic traditions.
It was a lovely bus ride and it was with some sorrow that I left Collin, Jesse, and Nick at the Intermodal station in Fitchburg to let them all go their separate ways. Nick was going to a party at one of the (goddawful) frat houses on my street, and Jesse and Collin were taking the Amtrak up to Portland, ME for work. I sincerely hope they’ve made it there by now and are safe somewhere, and warm, and preparing to get on the internet to read this sometime soon! I am sure our paths will cross again.
Cries from the stall
Once in Fitchburg I walked to Market Basket to do my grocery shopping for the week. My first stop in the store was the ladies room. As I dried my hands and prepared to leave a woman walked in and told her daughter to go pick up, “Land O Lakes American Cheese.” She repeated the phrase several times before coming into the restroom, entering the stall I had just vacated, and sniffling several times before telling herself to hold it together. I asked her if she was okay. She said yes, through tears, and so I probed, “are you sure?”
“No” was her reply, and she came out of the stall and told me that her daughters 16th birthday had just passed. Her daughter who had been kidnapped by her ex three years ago, who someone had just kindly and ignorantly asked about. We talked and hugged before her younger daughter came in again, asking about the brand of cheese.
She wiped her face, blamed the tears on tripping, and walked out into the store with a smile plastered on her face and proceeded to talk to her step son and his friends for the next few minutes. Face red, holding in the pain. And I was struck by the sheer awesomeness of the sorrow that she has to carry around every day. Also, by her strength and her loss and by the realization that if I had simply walked away maybe she would never have had anyone to talk to. Before leaving I gave her my information and asked her to call me. “Do you talk to anyone?” I asked. “Just God.” She said.
It’s situations like hers that can make a person question the whole of human existence, and that make you certain that optimistic idioms like “everything happens for a reason” are sometimes so incredibly juvenile and false. All at once I realized that there are really things that just happen for no reason. Evil things that ,were there some benevolent God watching over us, would never occur.
It really made me glad that I had reached out to her, and I hope can serve as a reminder to all of us that we’re all simply human and are sometimes just looking for someone to talk to. Sometimes we don’t have anyone to share our pain with and if we can’t let it out it will simply implode, leaving us a shell shocked melancholy mess.
I Saw Ramallah
Even in the fisherman’s net
The smell of the sea
these verses I read today as I returned from my first day of work exhausted with my legs outstretched eating leftover from lunch. These verses are from Mourid al-Barghouti’s book, I Saw Ramallah. It is the story of his 30 year separation from Palestine and his confusing return to a home that is in many ways, no longer his. Mourid al-Barghouti is a beautiful and talented author who tells a story – his story – in such a way that makes things very easy to understand while repeating phrases and thoughts like, “until things become clearer” that reinforce the impossibility of this situation that so many people have been unwillingly thrust into. It’s a beautiful story on the authors life, on Palestine, occupation and displacement and war, and I sincerely recommend that if you are reading this now that you look it up and go take a copy out of your local library or bookstore as soon as possible.
As previously mentioned I did just recently get back from my first day of work training at a convenience store. A store which, I suppose is alright but where I was told today if someone fills out a money order greater than a few hundred dollar and “looks suspicious” I am to fill out a form that will be sent to Headquarters. And tell me exactly what kind of fascist and horribly racist statement is that? How do you define “suspicous” ? Is someone who fumbles with and drops their money suspicious? Someone with a serious look in their eye? Someone who is not white?
Can you tell if a person is suspicious by their clothes?
And what exactly is the point of filling out an entire sheet of paper on them — is the idea that they might be a terrorist and jotting down their details will help us save lives? More likely, a person is simply trying to send money to a family member, or to pay a bill.
Would someone who robbed a bank then come into a convenience store to exchange their cash … for a money order?
I think not.
Thanks for reading the Hump Day updates, and I hope if you are reading this you are somewhere where your nose is toasty, you are not regarded as suspicious, and you have the good company of an entertaining friend or a moving book with you.