.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, October 30, 2006

A big win for all of us

Here's an abridged version of an Amnesty International email I got a few days ago. I know that some of you joined the 1,000,000 faces Control Arms campaign.

There is a small irritant in the message (see who can identify it...the only clue I'll give is that he needs to be impeached someday).

For now let's toast the good news. (more on the story)


Dear Friends

As you are probably aware, less than 24 hours ago Amnesty International and
its Control Arms campaign allies, - Oxfam International and the
International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) - achieved an historic
campaign success when a massive majority of states at the UN General
Assembly First Committee voted to start developing an Arms Trade Treaty.
This is a great victory for human rights.

We won 139 votes in favour, with 24 abstentions and only one state opposed
– the USA. Details have been sent to your media, MSP and IGO coordinators.

However, I am writing to you on behalf of the Secretary General to express
our enormous appreciation for all the work you, your members and your staff
and volunteers have put into the Control Arms Campaign since it was
launched in October 2003. With our hundreds of NGO allies, cutting-edge
research and publications, sustained tactical lobbying and media work, and
our innovative approaches to popular campaigning activities which included
the Million Faces Petition, the Control Arms Campaign has gone from
strength to strength. Essentially, we have won the arguments for such a
Treaty and are now obtaining a critical mass of governmental support.

We know that, although this UN vote is a landmark on the road to achieving
an Arms Trade Treaty, there are many challenges ahead. We face stiff
opposition not only from the USA but from other major arms producers
(Russia and China) and also some medium arms suppliers (Iran, Israel,
Egypt, India and Pakistan).

Meanwhile, we hope that you will join us in celebrating this excellent
achievement by our movement (with very special thanks to our Control Arms
campaign teams) and by our erstwhile allies.

Proudly and with warm regards,

Kate Gilmore
On behalf of Irene Khan, Secretary General (AI)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Australia plans major solar plant

Australia is to build one of the world's biggest solar power plants as part of a major new strategy by the government to combat climate change (story).

Canberra said it would be contributing A$75m (US$57m) to the A$420m plant due to be built in the state of Victoria. One of the first major projects to get funding is what Finance Minister Peter Costello said aimed to be the "biggest photovoltaic project in the world".

The plant at Victoria will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun's rays and produce power that can go into the national grid, he told Australian radio.

Work is due to get under way in 2008 and reach full capacity by 2013.

The government also announced A$50m in funding towards a major project to reduce carbon emissions from coal.

Australia, a leading exporter in coal - has been criticised for failing to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

So, while waiting for my friend Lindsay's Oz perspective - I have two comments myself:

1. They still should have signed the Kyoto Protocol. Leading emitters of CO2 all over the world have avoided the commitment (including Canada under Harper).

2. Congratulations on trying something new that is solar...I hope it's successful. My single visit to Australia taught me a few things - and one is that they have A LOT of solar going on down there. I'd like to investigate this story further by heading down there in say...January or February.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Graffiti for the week

West Bank, Palestine 2005 (yet another Banksy masterpiece - click to see larger).

The security barrier separating the occupied territories from Israel is over 450 miles long and 38ft high. It was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice but construction by the Israeli government continues.

Friday, October 20, 2006

LIVE WRITE column for next week

This is my newspaper column for next week. It's not exactly filled with laughs this time, but might be interesting. Comments always welcome.


Have you ever watched an entertainer spin plates – with dinnerware whirring on the tips of rods, as well as on fingertips? Apparently, for many young women in North America, daily life feels like spinning plates. There is research indicating that this pressure is beginning to define a generation of girls and women.

A recent study, conducted in the U.S. and Canada by global market research firm Synovate, found that a growing number of young women today are in a constant identity struggle to be viewed as both the "hot", desired girl, as well as the successful, independent woman. The term “Stressettes” has been coined to describe this segment of today’s female generation.

A thousand young women, aged sixteen to twenty-five were surveyed. More than half of them indicated that they feel incredible anxiety about their body image as well as what the future holds for them. Seventy percent indicated that they are not happy with their body and thirty-eight percent said that they would get cosmetic surgery if they had the money.

However, the majority said that their biggest fear is not finding a career they love. The need to be attractive through external reinforcement from peers and society is in ongoing tension with the need to feel competent and independent.

Youth doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal as it once did. The same study discovered that a high percentage of young women look forward to their thirties, believing they may achieve what they want by then. In an article on Stressettes, national columnist Leah McLaren recently wrote, “I'm sorry to report that if anything, girls, it just gets worse. For one thing, the issue of fertility -- safely relegated to the back burner for most twenty-something women I know -- rears its pudgy little head. Even if it's not an issue for you, rest assured, it is for everyone else.”

When did beauty and body image become such self-defining factors? One stunning example of the current global beauty conundrum is described in an article by Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University. Research indicates that two thirds of women around the world, from fifteen year-olds to sixty-year-olds, avoid basic activities of life because they feel badly about the way they look - activities such as meeting friends, exercising, voicing an opinion, going to school, going to work, dating or even seeking medical help.

If anyone argues that beauty is a trivial problem, this finding will put that argument to rest. It’s no wonder more girls and women are seeking cosmetic surgery. It’s as though they feel they must wear permanent masks, approximating a current narrow ideal of beauty rather than face the world as they are, in their uniqueness and diversity.

The often-repeated premise is that girls should be satisfied with who they really are – that true beauty is within and that success is about feeling confident and happy, not about material attainment. Young women living in our (mostly) affluent, secure society should feel free to pursue and enjoy whatever life course they choose. So why do we need a word like Stressette?

How do I relate to the girls and women in my life? What do I notice, value and praise in them? What reinforcements in society and in the popular media support girls and women? What messages are we giving to my daughter… and to yours?

In this column, I leave you with questions, not advice.

Monday, October 16, 2006

This week's graffiti

This is Banksy again... wonderful artist. We could use this
graffiti on streets across the world today.
(click to see larger)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The essence of autumn

The slow draining of life from a leaf, until it dries and falls. Great symbol of how life hides during winter to emerge again in spring. These are on a tree I planted in our yard 10 years ago.
(Click to see larger.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

One more post on Military Commissions Act (I'll stop soon)

I wish I could say everyone's work to keep human rights in the forefront in the US were successful. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 passed. Bad policy has now become bad law.

With endorsement from Congress, the US administration can now hold people without charge, without trial, indefinitely. Past violations of the War Crimes Act have been rubber stamped, the administration absolved of prosecution in the U.S. Not only has the definition of "enemy combatant" been dangerously broadened, those so designated have been stripped of their right to challenge the legality of their detention. The bill also includes a loophole that could allow the President to define torture as "alternative interrogation" techniques. Given the history of this administration, there is no reason to believe that torture won't continue.

Don't stop speaking out. Don't stop asking congressional candidates where they stand on this. When human rights are trashed in the name of freedom and security - well, let's just say that Orwell's book 1984 has been surpassed and then some.

Action (for my American visitors particularly): SIGN THE AMERICA I BELIEVE IN PLEDGE (here)

The America I Believe In doesn't torture people or use cruel, inhumane treatment. . . doesn't hold people without charge, without fair trials, without hope, and without end. . .doesn't kidnap people off the street and ship them to nations known for their brutality. . .doesn't condone prisoner abuse and excuse high-ranking government officials from responsibility for that abuse. . .doesn't justify the use of secret prisons. . .and does not rob people of their basic dignity.

I'm joining with Amnesty International USA to restore The America I Believe In. The America I Believe In leads the world on human rights.

I'm committing to tell friends and family about the campaign. I'm also committing to contacting my members of Congress and my local media to tell them that the America I Believe In defends human rights and justice for all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Surfing life's waves...

In October I will travel to Kelowna (X2), Prince George, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton and Toronto. Most of this is work-related, some is related to Amnesty International. I'm currently juggling 6 contracts as a consultant.

I'll be running to airports, fixated on email and trying to squeeze in good sleep and a little exercise. I eat too.

I'll also support my 16 year old daughter, who is performing as the opening act for Cara Luft (of the Wailing Jennies) at a show next week; get the house ready for winter; spend time with friends and family; keep an eye on the news, particularly the US elections... and try to do some reading and writing.

Maybe this pace sounds normal for some of you (Dimitri comes to mind). I'm a busy person, but sometimes wonder how I get in deeper than I really want to.

Here's a question: how do you find balance in your life?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?