random notes: amira hass, ry cooder, planned parenthood, and more

Time to collect some of the scraps of paper scribbled all over my desk...

  • Amira Hass will be speaking at the University of Toronto tomorrow night. Hass is an Israeli journalist based in Ramallah, and the only Israeli journalist to live in the occupied territories - which means she is the only reliable Israeli source of information about Palestinian life. A journalist living in the location she covers shouldn't be unusual. As Hass puts it, "If you are covering Paris, you don't live in Berlin." Yet all other Israeli journalists write about Palestine without being in and among Palestine. Why bother, since they get all the information they need from the government.

    I so wish I could attend this event! But I'll be in class, and missing one session of this cataloging class could sink the course. (How much information can we throw at you in three hours? Whee, let's find out!)

    Hass' Canadian tour is sponsored by Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. Details about the Toronto event are here.

  • If you're interested in war resisters, Courage to Resist has a new book out. About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. It's a compilation of stories from their Audio Project, and it includes a few from my war resister friends in Canada. About Face has also led me to discover PM Press, an amazing political publishing outfit.

  • The war on US women is getting more vicious by the day, as the Republicans try to shut down Planned Parenthood altogether. Congressperson Cliff Stearns (from Florida, what a surprise) leads the witch hunt, demanding Planned Parenthood release years of documentation and audits, all of which already have been reviewed, as he fishes for something, anything, to use as an excuse to shut down the esteemed health care provider. Planned Parenthood empowers low income women and families, providing them with sexual and reproductive health care along with some modicum of control over their lives. Clearly the work of the devil.
    The so-called debate over federal funding to Planned Parenthood has become a complete farce. Any pretense of it being about legitimate budgetary concerns is gone. The conservatives lost that battle in April, but instead of stepping back and planning to fight again over, say, next year's budget, they are now trying to smear Planned Parenthood with unsubstantiated allegations and outright lies.

    Back in April, in response to U.S. Senator Jon Kyl's, R-Ari., absurd allegation that abortion constituted "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," Planned Parenthood released a graph showing exactly where its resources go -- and abortion services account for only 3 percent of its work.

    Here are the top three services Planned Parenthood actually provides: birth control (35 percent), testing for sexually transmitted illnesses (35 percent) and cancer screening and prevention (16 percent). The remainder is general women's health services, which could mean anything from treating urinary tract infections to providing prenatal care for women who are not having abortions.
    If you or someone you know in the US are in a position to help, see Emily's List.

  • Legendary musician Ry Cooder is channelling the spirit of Woody Guthrie. Cooder has released "Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down," a CD of short, singable, danceable, wryly humorous songs about our struggle for justice against the forces of oppression. The opening track, "No Banker Left Behind," premiered on Truthdig Radio, and Cooder talked about the album with Robert Scheer. You can listen to the album here, but I think we should all buy this one.

  • Also on the socially conscious music front, I noticed that Steve Earle received an honourary degree from City University of New York School of Law; last year Earle was recognized by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for his continued work for justice. I've been following Steve Earle's career since the mid-1980s, when he was one of the wave of musicians reviving country rock and rocking country. Earle's music was always subversively political, but over the years it became overtly so. Now he's a full-fledged radical, and his music is better than ever. Amy Goodman interviews Earle here: "Making Art in America is a Political Statement in Itself" (part 2 here). I recommend this interview whether you know Steve Earle or not.
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