Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Prescription for Survival": A Debate on the Future of Nuclear Energy Between Anti-Coal Advocate George Monbiot and Anti-Nuclear Activist Dr. Helen Caldicott

Up to a million people have already died from Chernobyl, and people will continue to die from cancer for virtually the rest of time. What we should know is that a millionth of a gram of plutonium, or less, can induce cancer, or will induce cancer. Each reactor has 250 kilos, or 500 pounds, of plutonium in it. You know, there’s enough plutonium in these reactors to kill everyone on earth.

"Prescription for Survival": A Debate on the Future of Nuclear Energy Between Anti-Coal Advocate George Monbiot and Anti-Nuclear Activist Dr. Helen Caldicott

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The New American Dream


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Can Afghanistan and Pakistan Teach Us About Nonviolence?


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day: Refuser

By Eve Ensler, Reader Supported News
08 March 11

n this, the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, I want to take a minute to honor grassroots women's activists across the planet - women, like those working tirelessly in Haiti, who have inspired their communities, united their communities, and led their communities, holding them together and pushing them forward.

Today, I want to particularly honor the women on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have organized and worked for peace and freedom over the many years of conflict that has been fought in their country and on their bodies. On February 4, the women of Congo, in partnership with V-Day and the Fondation Panzi (République Démocratique du Congo), opened the City of Joy, a revolutionary leadership community for survivors of sexual violence that will be the headquarters of a grassroots women's movement in Eastern, DRC.

A group of women, called "Friends of V-Day," built the City of Joy - they were possibly the first female construction crew in Congolese history. These women mixed the cement, carried loads on their shoulders, made the bricks. They built the City of Joy with their own hands, understanding, with each careful step, that making a world and living in the world are not separate. Each day that the women built, they took time to dance and sing. It was part of the day's work, and now that spirit is literally built into the walls of the City of Joy. These women were aware that it takes a very specific constellation of ingredients to create a community, the way water, sun and earth all come together to build a new world. In the final days before the opening, the women planted grass, blade by blade, on the grounds of the City of Joy. That is how movements are born - individual green blades, planted one by one, nurtured by water and light, protected until they have grown into grass.

Today, I dedicate my piece, REFUSER, to all the builders, all the grass planters, all the individual, green, sparkling blades of grass. I dedicate it to all the girls and women joining forces across the earth, to create change and revolution.


From the Lebanese mountains
To the Kenyan village of El Doret
We are practicing self-defense
Versed in Karate, Tai Chi, Judo, and Kung Foo
We are no longer surrendering to our fate.
Now, we are the ones who walk our girl friends home from school.
And we don't do it with macho. We do it with cool.
Our mothers are the Pink Sari Gang
Fighting off the drunken men
With rose pointed fingers and sticks in
Uttar Pradesh.
The Peshmerga women
in the Kurdish mountains
with barrettes in their hair
and AK47's instead of pocket books.
We are not waiting anymore to be taken and retaken.
We are the Liberian women sitting
in the Africa sun blockading the exits
til the men figure it out.
We are the Nigerian women
babies strapped to out backs
occupying the oil terminals of Chevron.
We are the women of Kerala
who refused to let Coca Cola
privatize our water.
We are Cindy Sheehan showing up in Crawford without a plan.
We are all those who forfeited husbands boyfriends and dates
Cause we were married to our mission.
We know love comes from all directions and in many forms.
We are Malalai who spoke back to the Afghan Loya Jurga
And told them they were "raping warlords" and
She kept speaking even when they kept
trying to blow up her house.
And we are Zoya whose radical mother was shot dead when Zoya was only a child so she was fed on revolution which was stronger than milk
And we are the ones who kept and loved our babies
even though they have the faces of our rapists.
We are the girls who stopped cutting ourselves to release the pain
And we are the girls who refused to have our clitoris cut
And give up our pleasure.
We are:
Rachel Corrie who wouldn't couldn't move away from the Israeli tank.
Aung San Suu Kyi who still smiles after years of not being able to leave her room.
Anne Frank who survives now cause she wrote down her story.
We are Neda Soltani gunned down by a sniper in the streets of
Tehran as she voiced a new freedom and way
And we are Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6th movement in Egypt
Who twittered an uprising.
We are the women riding the high seas to offer
Needy women abortions on ships.
We are women documenting the atrocities
in stadiums with video cameras underneath our Burqas.
We are seventeen and living for a year in a tree
And laying down in the forests to protect wild oaks.
We are out at sea interrupting the whale murders.
We are freegans, vegans, trannies
But mainly we are refusers.
We don't accept your world
Your rules your wars
We don't accept your cruelty and unkindness.
We don't believe some need to suffer for others to survive
Or that there isn't enough to go around
Or that corporations are the only and best economic arrangement
And we don't hate boys, okay?
That's another bullshit story.
We are refusers
But we crave kissing.
We don't want to do anything before we're ready
but it could be sooner than you think
and we get to decide
and we are not afraid of what is pulsing through us.
It makes us alive.
Don't deny us, criticize us or infantilize us.
We don't accept checkpoints, blockades or air raids
We are obsessed with learning.
On the barren Tsunamied beaches of Sri Lanka
In the desolate and smelly remains
Of the lower ninth
We want school.
We want school.
We want school.
We know if you plan too long
Nothing happens and things get worse and that
Most everything is found in the action
and instinctively we get that the scariest thing
isn't dying, but not trying at all.
And when we finally have our voice
and come together
when we let ourselves gather the knowledge
when we stop turning on each other
but direct our energy towards what matters
when we stop worrying about
our skinny ass stomachs or too frizzy hair
or fat thighs
when we stop caring about pleasing
and making everyone so incredibly happy -
We got the Power.
Janis Joplin was nominated the ugliest man on her campus
And they sent Angela Davis to jail
If Simone Weil had manly virtues
And Joan of Arc was hysterical
If Bella Abzug was eminently obnoxious
And Ellen Sirleaf Johnson is considered scary
If Arundhati Roy is totally intimidating
and Rigoberta Menchu is pathologically intense
And Julia Butterfly Hill is an extremist freak
Call us hysterical then
Eminently obnoxious
Tattoo me
Give us our broomsticks
And potions on the stove
We are the girls
who are aren't afraid to cook.

"Refuser" is published in Eve's newest work - "I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World," just released in paperback from Villard Trade Paperbacks.
Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist, is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. In conjunction with "I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE," V-Day has developed a targeted pilot program, V-Girls, to engage young women in our "empowerment philanthropy" model, providing them with a platform to amplify their voices.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Remembering Sohan Qadri

Sohan Qadri
A pure poet and painter
Sohan Qadri. Copenhagen. April 1991. Portrait by Amarjit Chandan

Punjabi artist and poet Sohan Qadri (real name Sohan Singh Barhing), who has died aged 78 in Toronto after a prolonged illness, leaves a rich legacy of pure poetry and art deeply immersed in Indian tradition. He is one of a few Punjabi painters who have made a mark on the international art scene.
Qadri was immersed in painting and meditation for decades. His dye-suffused paintings on meticulously serrated paper reflect his Vajrayana Tantric Buddhist philosophical beliefs. Dr. Robert Thurman, professor of Eastern religions at Columbia University and director of Tibet House, says: “If words were colours, Qadri’s art would not be as essentially necessary as it is.”
Qadri lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, for three decades but his career took him across Asia, Africa and North America. He was born in the Punjab, in the village of Chachoki near Jalandhar. At the young age he was initiated into yogic practice first by Bikham Giri, a Bengali Tantric Vajrayana yogi, and few years later he became close to a Sufi figure, Ahmed Ali Shah Qadri, whose last name he adopted. From them he imbibed an ecumenical and a deep spiritual yearning.
He joined the Simla College of Art, in Shimla in 1957, against the wishes of his parents, and after graduating he taught art for four years at Ramgarhia College Phagwara. Soon after he became part of the circuit of the Indian modernists that included M.F. Husain, Syed Haider Raza, Ara, Ram Kumar, and Sailoz Mookherjee. Mulk Raj Anand, was the first to recognise Qadri’s talent and organised his first exhibition in Le Corbusier’s brand new architectural complex in Chandigarh. He was the mentor friend of Shiv Kumar the poet and in 1964 formed the Loose Group a circle of artists and poets in Kapurthala including Hardev, Shiv Singh, SS Misha, Ajaib Kamal and Ravinder Ravi.
Soon after, Qadri departed for Nairobi, Kenya in 1966, where under the patronage of the African cultural figure Elimo Njau, he had a successful exhibition at Paa-yaa-paa, a non-profit art gallery. At the time, the gravitational pull for artists was Paris, where Qadri lived for a few years before settling in Copenhagen, where he was invited by the Danish Ministry of Culture. In the 1970s, he, along with a group of artists and counter-culture figures, illegally occupied an old gun factory, which eventually became the famous free city Christianna.

Qadri’s early work titled Chandigarh. 1965

At an early age, Qadri abandoned representation in a search for transcendence. He wrote: “When I start on a painting, first I empty my mind of all images. They dissolve into primordial space. Only emptiness, I feel, should communicate with emptiness of the canvas.” Despite the fact that he lived in Northern Europe, his work is distinctly Punjabi/Indian. His colours are luminous—Sindhoori reds, peacock blues, intense oranges, along with blacks and grays. A rigorous Scandinavian aesthetic distills these Punjabi colours. The luminous monochrome surfaces of his paintings are repeatedly incised and punctured in an orderly manner, which creates a strict structure. The art critic Donald Kuspit has said: “Using abstraction to convey transcendence, Qadri is the pre-eminent aesthetic mystic of modernism.”
Qadri was friends with a wide array of cultural figures over his long career, including the Surrealist master Renee Magritte and Nobel Laureate Heinrich Böll, who became one of his important proponents. Böll said: “Sohan Qadri with his painting liberates the word meditation from its fashionable taste and brings it back to its proper origin.” Qadri had more than 70 exhibitions across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Qadri’s unique collections of poems written in classical Punjabi idiom include Mitti Mitti, Navyug New Delhi (1987); Boond Samunder, Lok Sahit (1990); Antar Joti, Navyug (1995). Amarjit Chandan’s long conversations with Qadri in Punjabi were published in Hun-khin (The Now Moment) Navyug, 2000.
Such widely respected poet scholars as Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Singh Neki greatly admired Qadri's ‘poetry’ (which Qadri called ‘the other poetry’). Sati Kumar wrote:

Neki approaches Qadri's creative process from the point of view of the bãni utterances of the Sufis and Nanak. One can surely try to understand Qadri's poetic accessories from the viewpoint of Indian thought, but to me it seems that this 'other poetry' is a specimen of another – a kind of inverted – lore. Only those who know the other lore can read this poetry. It can cause a headache to linguists for its grammar that is not to be found elsewhere and its word-formation that is also rare. Kabir's language was described as sadhukkarhi – the language of sadhus. Qadri's language, too, is of his own making. There is no doubt that Qadri has walked into Punjabi poetry like a not so polite sãdh mendicant and there is no match for his crisp and ringing language that sounds like a sãdh's chimta tongs. After a very long time an original poet appeared in Punjabi poetry.
Harbhajan Singh wrote on conversations Hun-khin The Now Moment:

The knower of the mystery Kabir had said, jo ghar jare apna chalé hamaré sãth – let him join me who is ready to set his house on fire. To set one's house on fire means to get rid of one's words, their meanings, one's senses, habits and beliefs. It means to come out of the boundaries drawn by them. Only when one renounces one's parents, neighbours, ancestral heritage, the legacy of untold centuries crystallised in the discriminating sense that judges between good and bad does one the earth as mother, truth as father and the parrot as teacher. The Now Moment provokes one to face such challenges. That is why Qadri does not share anything with the tradition of Punjabi poetry. Even in Urdu poetry, Ghalib is the only one who abides in Qadri's circle. …
These conversations cannot be understood if we remain confined to our education. If we wish to understand them, we must first break free of our limitations.
(This and Sati Kumar’s quote translated from Punjabi by Rajesh Sharma)

Qadri’s poetry in translation is published under the titles The Dot & the Dots, Poems & Paintings, Stockholm (1978); The Dot & the Dots, revised edition, Writers Workshop, Calcutta (1988); Aforismer, Danish translation, Oslashmens Forlag Copenhagen (1995) and The Seer, Art Konsult, New Delhi (1999).
Qadri was generous in designing book covers for his writer friends – Surjit Hans, Sati Kumar, Ravinder Ravi, Jagjit Chhabra, Amarjit Chandan and others.
He family life was unconventional. His two daughters and a son survive him. His Swedish partner Anna Maria bore him son Soham and younger daughter Pooja. His daughter Purvi, now aged 50, is from his Punjabi wife Daisy Rumalshah who predeceased him in 1980.

Sohan Qadri - real name Sohan Singh Barhing - Punjabi painter and poet born 2 November 1932 Chachoki Punjab; died 1 March 2011 Toronto

Untitled. 2004