’16 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True’ by Michael Snyder

This is the first of three posts about the role of High-hightech industry and the US Government in damaging the lives of common people and pushing this planet to its destruction. Uddari.

Are you a conspiracy theorist?  If not, perhaps you should be.  Yes, there have certainly been a lot of “conspiracy theories” over the years that have turned out not to be accurate.  However, the truth is that a large number of very prominent conspiracy theories have turned out to actually be true.  So the next time that you run into some “tin foil hat wearing lunatics”, you might want to actually listen to what they have to say.  They may actually know some things that you do not.  In fact, one recent study found that “conspiracy theorists” are actually more sane than the general population.  So the next time you are tempted to dismiss someone as a “conspiracy theorist”, just remember that the one that is crazy might actually be you.  The following are 16 popular conspiracy theories that turned out to be true…

1. “They Put Cancer Viruses Into Our Vaccines”

When I first heard about this I did not believe it.  And of course not all vaccines contain cancer viruses.  But tens of millions of Americans did receive vaccines with cancer viruses in them, and now we have learned that even the CDC has admitted that this is true…

The CDC has quickly removed a page from their website, which is now cached here, admitting that more than 98 million Americans received one or more doses of polio vaccine within an 8-year span when a proportion of the vaccine was contaminated with a cancer causing polyomavirus called SV40. It has been estimated that 10-30 million Americans could have received an SV40 contaminated dose of the vaccine.

SV40 is an abbreviation for Simian vacuolating virus 40 or Simian virus 40, a polyomavirus that is found in both monkeys and humans. Like other polyomaviruses, SV40 is a DNA virus that has been found to cause tumors and cancer.

2. “ATM Machines Will Someday Use Facial Recognition Technology”

According to the Daily Mail, a new generation of ATM machines is being developed that will use cutting edge facial recognition technology…

Cumbersome and slow cash machines with clunky buttons and tiny hard-to-see screens could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a range of next-generation ATMs.

Ohio-based security firm Diebold has created a touchscreen cash machine that works like a tablet computer, uses facial recognition and QR codes to identify and authenticate users, and has built-in safety cameras.

3. “The U.S. Government And Monsanto Are Teaming Up Against Opponents Of Genetically-Modified Food”

The establishment does not like those that are trying to stand in the way of genetically-modified food.  The following is from a recent Activist Post article

A shocking new investigative report from the largest daily newspaper in Germany alleges that Monsanto, the US Military and the US government have colluded to track and disrupt both anti-GMO activists and independent scientists who study the adverse effects of genetically modified food.

As revealed yesterday by Sustainable Pulse, on July 13th the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detailed information on how the US Government “advances the interests of their corporations,” focusing on Monsanto as a prime example.

The report titled, “The Sinister Monsanto Group: ‘Agent Orange’ to Genetically Modified Corn,” described a ‘new fangled cyber war’ being waged against both eco-activists and independent scientists by supporters and former employees of Monsanto, who are described as “operationally powerful assistants” and who have taken up sometimes high-ranking posts in the US administration, regulatory authorities, and some of whom have connections deep within the military industrial establishment, including the CIA.

4. “Someday Scientists Will Be Using Millions Of Genetically-Modified Animals In Scientific Experiments”

Did you know that literally millions of genetically-modified animals are being experimented on in labs all over the globe?…

The number of genetically modified (GM) animals used in scientific research in Britain has exceeded the number of ordinary laboratory animals for the first time, according to official statistics that show a 9 per cent overall increase in the use of experimental animals last year.

Some 4,033,310 animals were used in scientific experiments started in 2012, an increase of 322,689, or 9 per cent over the previous year. There were 1.91 million scientific “procedures” used with GM animals in 2012 compared to 1.68.m procedures on normal animals.

5. “Scientists All Over The World Are Creating Extremely Bizarre Human-Animal Hybrids”

Should scientists be creating beings that are part human and part animal?  Well, it is happening all over the planet.  Just check out some of the things that a recent Slate article says is happening in labs around the world…

Not long ago, Chinese scientists embedded genes for human milk proteins into a mouse’s genome and have since created herds of humanized-milk-producing goats. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Michigan have a method for putting a human anal sphincter into a mouse as a means of finding better treatments for fecal incontinence, and doctors are building animals with humanized immune systems to serve as subjects for new HIV vaccines.

Pretty disgusting eh?

And here are some other ways that scientists are combining humans and animals…

Rabbit Eggs with Human Cells

Pigs with Human Blood

Sheep with Human Livers

Cow Eggs with Human Cells

Cat-Human Hybrid Proteins

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Human-Animal Hybrids: Sick And Twisted Chimeras Are Being Created In Labs All Over The Planet“.

6. “Obama Is Making Government Employees Spy On One Another”

Yes, this is actually happening.  In a previous article, I described how Obama is forcing government workers to spy on the “lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors” of their fellow employees…

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

7. “Pro Wrestling Is Fake”

We have all kind of known this for a long time, right?  Well, now someone is actually leaking the results of pro wrestling matches on the Internet before they happen

A fan has provoked a furor in the world of professional wrestling after leaking the outcomes of 38 WWE matches ahead of the pay-per-view bouts.

The mystery fan, who identifies himself online as Dolphins1925, claims he has obtained the information from a source at Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and is revealing the results to highlight the organisation’s failure to keep its storylines confidential.

Dolphins1925 started posting the results on Reddit’s pro-wrestling forum after another fan launched a “prediction series”, asking users for their picks ahead of the matches. He has since maintained a perfect record, even leaking the results of contests involving wrestling superstars such as John Cena and The Undertaker.

8. “Someday Texas Is Going To Run Out Of Water”

Texas will always have plenty of water, right?


According to CNBC, the water crisis in some areas of Texas is rapidly reaching a breaking point…

Three straight years of blistering drought have strained Texas’ water resources. Some cities like Midland are already steeply raising their water prices. But it’s not just residents of the Lone Star State feeling parched. Texas-based companies are scrambling to reduce their water usage and enact long-term water management plans as a critical business concern.

“As the drought continues, industry’s eyes are opening,” said Jordan Furnans, senior engineer at INTERA, a Texas-based geosciences and engineering firm. Those eyes are opening to discover that more dry years are coming, he said.

There’s a desperate need for water to fuel industrial, chemical and energy operations in some parts of Texas. “If plants shut down, they’re losing millions of dollars per day,” Furnans said.

9. “The IRS Is Specifically Targeting Conservatives”

Only a small percentage of Americans would have believed this particular “conspiracy theory” last year.  But now it is all over the news.  In fact, we have just learned that applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party groups were ordered to be sent to the only Obama political appointee at the IRS

IRS employees were ordered by their superiors–including Lois Lerner who pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination rather than testify in Congress–to send certain Tea Party tax-exemption applications to the office of the IRS’s Chief Counsel, which was headed by William Wilkins, who at that time was the only Obama political appointee at the IRS, according to a letter released today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“As a part of this ongoing investigation, the Committees have learned that the IRS Chief Counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. has been closely involved in some of the applications,” reads a letter released today by the House committees on Oversight and Government and Ways and Means.  “Its involvement and demands for information about political activity during the 2010 election cycle appear to have caused systematic delays in the processing of Tea Party applications.”

10. “Fluoride Is Harmful For Your Teeth”

This is a conspiracy theory that was denied for a very long time.  But now even CNN is admitting the truth…

The Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency are proposing the change because of an increase in fluorosis — a condition that causes spotting and streaking on children’s teeth.

11. “Using A Cell Phone Can Cause Cancer”

Can you get cancer from using a cell phone?  Well, an increasing number of studies indicate that this is actually true

At the highest exposure levels — using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period — the study found a 40 percent increased risk of glioma brain tumors.

12. “Prescription Drugs Kill Large Numbers Of Americans”

Every single year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed by prescription drugs.  The following is a brief excerpt from a Vanity Fair article entitled “Deadly Medicine“…

Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas—on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese—in places where regulation is virtually nonexistent, the F.D.A. doesn’t reach, and “mistakes” can end up in pauper’s graves?

13. “The Elite Want To Dramatically Reduce The Global Population”

Yes, many among the global elite really do want to substantially reduce the population of the planet.  The following quotes are from one of my previous articles

David Rockefeller: “The negative impact of population growth on all of our planetary ecosystems is becoming appallingly evident.”

CNN Founder Ted Turner: “A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”

Paul Ehrlich, a former science adviser to president George W. Bush and the author of “The Population Bomb”: “To our minds, the fundamental cure, reducing the scale of the human enterprise (including the size of the population) to keep its aggregate consumption within the carrying capacity of Earth is obvious but too much neglected or denied”

-Barack Obama’s primary science adviser, John P. Holdren: “The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births.”

HBO personality Bill Maher: “I’m pro-choice, I’m for assisted suicide, I’m for regular suicide, I’m for whatever gets the freeway moving – that’s what I’m for. It’s too crowded, the planet is too crowded and we need to promote death.”

14. “Innocent People Are Murdered, Skinned And Dismembered During Satanic Rituals”

Satanists really do exist, and sometimes they do really, really awful things.  The following is one recent example

Moises Meraz-Espinoza walked into the Huntington Park Police Department two years ago to report a crime: He had killed his mother.

Officers went to the Maywood apartment that the then-18-year-old factory worker shared with his mother, Amelia Espinoza, 42, and found a gruesome scene. A trail of blood led to the bathroom, where plastic covered the walls and floor. There, they found an electrical circular saw with pieces of bone, blood and flesh stuck to the blade. Nearby, in a freezer, police found skin and muscles stored in plastic bags. The woman’s skull, with all her teeth plucked out, her eyes removed and two upside-down crosses carved into the bone, was stashed in a backpack.

Prosecutors say that Meraz-Espinoza strangled his mother and then skinned, filleted and dismembered her body as part of a satanic ritual.

15. “The NSA Is Spying On Our Phone Calls, Internet Searches And Financial Transactions”

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we have learned much more about how the NSA spies on all of us.  And just this week it has come out that the NSA has no problem snooping on you if you are a friend of a friend of a friend of someone that might be a potential terrorist…

Chris Inglis, the agency’s deputy director, was one of several government representatives—including from the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence—testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this morning. Most of the testimony largely echoed previous testimony by the agencies on the topic of the government’s surveillance, including a retread of the same offered examples for how the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had stopped terror events.

But Inglis’ statement was new. Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed. Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops. This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with—one hop. And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with—two hops. Terror suspect to person two to person three. Two hops. And now: A third hop.

16. “The Federal Reserve Is A Perpetual Debt Machine That Is Designed To Create Inflation”

he Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel that was created by the bankers and that serves the interest of the bankers.  It was designed to perpetually increase the U.S. national debt and to perpetually create inflation.  Unfortunately, it has done a great job on both counts.  Since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger, and the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 96 percent.

Are there any other “conspiracy theories” that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/16-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true/#oqLr6LoQGuqlwOal.99


Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/16-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true/#oqLr6LoQGuqlwOal.99

Solar Flares to Kill Millions in September, Says Snowden – Governments Know for 14 Years!

Edward Snowden: Solar-Flare ‘Killshot’ Cataclysm Imminent

Edward Snowden, hacker-fugitive and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, revealed Tuesday that a series of solar flares is set to occur in September, killing hundreds of millions of people.

MOSCOW, Russia – Edward Snowden, hacker-fugitive and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, revealed Tuesday that a series of solar flares is set to occur in September, killing hundreds of millions of people. Documents provided by Snowden prove that, as of 14 years ago, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) remote viewers knew that the event was inevitable. Ever since, the world’s governments have quietly been trying to prepare for the sweeping global famine to result.

Speaking from his room at Sheremetyevo Airport’s Hotel Novotel, Snowden revealed that government preparations for September’s catastrophic solar flares have been “to only limited avail.” The flares’ results, he said, are known casually throughout the global intelligence community as “the killshot.”

Remote viewers employed by the CIA’s Project Stargate use their ability to perceive geographically and chronologically distant events to protect America. Since 1999 they have known about the solar-flare event but have been threatened into silence by enforcers on the secret government’s payroll.

As a part of hiring Snowden as a contractor, the NSA granted the 30-year-old access to all communications on earth. Now he has provided The Internet Chronicle with top-secret Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) documents outlining just how terrible the solar flares’ results will be. In just two months, “the killshot” is set to disable all electronic food and water delivery systems.

Ever since the late 20th century, hundreds of millions of people have begun to rely on technological automation to enable their very lives. Solar flares release electromagnetic pulses, hazardous to electronic circuits. The smallest electronic circuits, such as those in computers’ central processing units, will be the most vulnerable.

Snowden said FEMA and the National Disaster Reduction Center of China have been taking steps for 14 years in light of the findings of Project Stargate. FEMA’s own documents, provided by Snowden, lay out how the organization plans to round up tens of millions of the poorest Americans for housing at secure locations “to better facilitate feeding and provision of consumer goods.”

Snowden, for years a CIA contractor, released testimonials from hundreds of remote viewers. Many of those remote viewers are still on the payroll of the governments of the United States and the Russian Federation. Those testimonials, though written independently by the analysts, are comprised of 4,472 pages, every single one of which, alarmingly, evince Snowden’s account.

“The massive electromagnetic pulse from the solar flares, or ‘the killshot,’ will shutter most of the world’s electrical systems,” said Snowden. “The Americans whose lives are most at risk are the elderly and the infirmed, those who depend on technology to enable their receiving home care or life-sustaining medical treatment.”

Throughout the 1970s and the 1990s, Russia and the United States were desperate to track and monitor the construction and maintenance of each other’s nuclear silos. The nations’ governments openly admitted having poured billions of dollars into the training of elite teams of remote viewers. With their powers, the remote viewers were able to deter nuclear launches and, ultimately, bring an end to the Cold War.  In the mid-’90s, the CIA simply pretended to close its remote-viewing program, so that it could operate more effectively.

Snowden said he hopes that his coming forward will allow Project Stargate’s participants to be able to live normal, open lives again, “instead of as circus animals, instead of as freaks.” He added, “[Significant others of Project Stargate employees] have to get Q clearances just to cohabitate with, without even marrying, their loved ones. That’s tantamount to slavery.”

Humanity is about to pay a most dire price for its technological dependence. That price, said Snowden, proved a leading factor in his decision to come forward to the press – about both the global Holocaust to ensue, as well as NSA analysts’ power, on the slightest whim, to listen to the phone calls of any person on earth.

Snowden said, with regard to CIA remote viewers, “I have seen too many brave whistleblowers become subjects of smear and ridicule for using their talents to expose the truth.” Added Snowden, bitterly, “Well, we’ll see who’s Mr. Chuckles when ‘the killshot’ goes down.”

WikiLeaks attorneys; and Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s own counsel, together produced a video calling for calm and global preparedness. Monday, Snowden sent the video, below, to the Russian Federal Migration Service as part of his call for asylum.


From: http://www.chronicle.su/news/edward-snowden-solar-flare-killshot-cataclysm-imminent/

Related Content on Uddari
Solar Flares & Drought – Come September what do WE do?
Snowden’s Solar Flare Warning for September

For Uddari Weblog: frafique@gmail.com



‘Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No More’s Leanne Simpson’ by Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein speaks with writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about “extractivism,” why it’s important to talk about memories of the land, and what’s next for Idle No More.

Leanne Simpson collecting wild rice.

In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza. Though sparked by a series of legislative attacks on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the movement quickly became about much more: Canada’s ongoing colonial policies, a transformative vision of decolonization, and the possibilities for a genuine alliance between natives and non-natives, one capable of re-imagining nationhood.

Boy with Crayon photo by ND Strupler
Indigenous Women Take the Lead in Idle No More

Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More movement.

Throughout all this, Idle No More had no official leaders or spokespeople. But it did lift up the voices of a few artists and academics whose words and images spoke to the movement’s deep aspirations. One of those voices belonged to Leanne Simpson, a multi-talented Mississauga Nishnaabeg writer of poetry, essays, spoken-word pieces, short stories, academic papers, and anthologies. Simpson’s books, including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Protection and Resurgence of Indigenous Nations and Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, have influenced a new generation of native activists.

At the height of the protests, her essay, Aambe! Maajaadaa! (What #IdleNoMore Means to Me) spread like wildfire on social media and became one of the movement’s central texts. In it she writes: “I support #idlenomore because I believe that we have to stand up anytime our nation’s land base is threatened—whether it is legislation, deforestation, mining prospecting, condo development, pipelines, tar sands or golf courses. I stand up anytime our nation’s land base in threatened because everything we have of meaning comes from the land—our political systems, our intellectual systems, our health care, food security, language and our spiritual sustenance and our moral fortitude.”

On February 15, 2013, I sat down with Leanne Simpson in Toronto to talk about decolonization, ecocide, climate change, and how to turn an uprising into a “punctuated transformation.”

On extractivism

Naomi Klein: Let’s start with what has brought so much indigenous resistance to a head in recent months. With the tar sands expansion, and all the pipelines, and the Harper government’s race to dig up huge tracts of the north, does it feel like we’re in some kind of final colonial pillage? Or is this more of a continuation of what Canada has always been about?

Leanne Simpson: Over the past 400 years, there has never been a time when indigenous peoples were not resisting colonialism. Idle No More is the latest—visible to the mainstream—resistance and it is part of an ongoing historical and contemporary push to protect our lands, our cultures, our nationhoods, and our languages. To me, it feels like there has been an intensification of colonial pillage, or that’s what the Harper government is preparing for—the hyper-extraction of natural resources on indigenous lands. But really, every single Canadian government has placed that kind of thinking at its core when it comes to indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples have lived through environmental collapse on local and regional levels since the beginning of colonialism—the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the extermination of the buffalo in Cree and Blackfoot territories and the extinction of salmon in Lake Ontario—these were unnecessary and devastating. At the same time, I know there are a lot of people within the indigenous community that are giving the economy, this system, 10 more years, 20 more years, that are saying “Yeah, we’re going to see the collapse of this in our lifetimes.”

Extracting is stealing. It is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts on the other living things in that environment.

Our elders have been warning us about this for generations now—they saw the unsustainability of settler society immediately. Societies based on conquest cannot be sustained, so yes, I do think we’re getting closer to that breaking point for sure. We’re running out of time. We’re losing the opportunity to turn this thing around. We don’t have time for this massive slow transformation into something that’s sustainable and alternative. I do feel like I’m getting pushed up against the wall. Maybe my ancestors felt that 200 years ago or 400 years ago. But I don’t think it matters. I think that the impetus to act and to change and to transform, for me, exists whether or not this is the end of the world. If a river is threatened, it’s the end of the world for those fish. It’s been the end of the world for somebody all along. And I think the sadness and the trauma of that is reason enough for me to act.

Naomi: Let’s talk about extraction because it strikes me that if there is one word that encapsulates the dominant economic vision, that is it. The Harper government sees its role as facilitating the extraction of natural wealth from the ground and into the market. They are not interested in added value. They’ve decimated the manufacturing sector because of the high dollar. They don’t care, because they look north and they see lots more pristine territory that they can rip up.

And of course that’s why they’re so frantic about both the environmental movement and First Nations rights because those are the barriers to their economic vision. But extraction isn’t just about mining and drilling, it’s a mindset—it’s an approach to nature, to ideas, to people. What does it mean to you?

Leanne: Extraction and assimilation go together. Colonialism and capitalism are based on extracting and assimilating. My land is seen as a resource. My relatives in the plant and animal worlds are seen as resources. My culture and knowledge is a resource. My body is a resource and my children are a resource because they are the potential to grow, maintain, and uphold the extraction-assimilation system. The act of extraction removes all of the relationships that give whatever is being extracted meaning. Extracting is taking. Actually, extracting is stealing—it is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts that extraction has on the other living things in that environment. That’s always been a part of colonialism and conquest. Colonialism has always extracted the indigenous—extraction of indigenous knowledge, indigenous women, indigenous peoples.

Naomi: Children from parents.

Leanne: Children from parents. Children from families. Children from the land. Children from our political system and our system of governance. Children—our most precious gift. In this kind of thinking, every part of our culture that is seemingly useful to the extractivist mindset gets extracted. The canoe, the kayak, any technology that we had that was useful was extracted and assimilated into the culture of the settlers without regard for the people and the knowledge that created it.

The alternative to extractivism is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility, and it’s local.

When there was a push to bring traditional knowledge into environmental thinking after Our Common Future, [a report issued by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development] in the late 1980s, it was a very extractivist approach: “Let’s take whatever teachings you might have that would help us right out of your context, right away from your knowledge holders, right out of your language, and integrate them into this assimilatory mindset.” It’s the idea that traditional knowledge and indigenous peoples have some sort of secret of how to live on the land in an non-exploitive way that broader society needs to appropriate. But the extractivist mindset isn’t about having a conversation and having a dialogue and bringing in indigenous knowledge on the terms of indigenous peoples. It is very much about extracting whatever ideas scientists or environmentalists thought were good and assimilating it.

Naomi: Like I’ll just take the idea of “the seventh generation” and…

Leanne: …put it onto toilet paper and sell it to people. There’s an intellectual extraction, a cognitive extraction, as well as a physical one. The machine around promoting extractivism is huge in terms of TV, movies, and popular culture.

Naomi: If extractivism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world, what is the alternative?

Leanne: Responsibility. Because I think when people extract things, they’re taking and they’re running and they’re using it for just their own good. What’s missing is the responsibility. If you’re not developing relationships with the people, you’re not giving back, you’re not sticking around to see the impact of the extraction. You’re moving to someplace else.

The alternative is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility, and it’s local. If you’re forced to stay in your 50-mile radius, then you very much are going to experience the impacts of extractivist behavior. The only way you can shield yourself from that is when you get your food from around the world or from someplace else. So the more distance and the more globalization then the more shielded I am from the negative impacts of extractivist behavior.

On Idle No More

Naomi: With Idle No More, there was this moment in December and January where there was the beginning of an attempt to articulate an alternative agenda for the country that was  rooted in a different relationship with nature. And I think of lot of people were drawn to it because it did seem to provide that possibility of a vision for the land that is not just digging holes and polluting rivers and laying pipelines.

But I think that may have been lost a little when we starting hearing some chiefs casting it all as a fight over resources sharing: “OK, Harper wants to extract $650 billion worth of resources, and how are we going to have a fair share of that?” That’s a fair question given the enormous poverty and the fact that these resources are on indigenous lands. But it’s not questioning the underlying imperative of tearing up the land for wealth.

Leanne: No, it’s not, and that is exactly what our traditional leaders, elders, and many grassroots people are saying as well. Part of the issue is about leadership. Indian Act chiefs and councils—while there are some very good people involved doing some good work—they are ultimately accountable to the Canadian government and not to our people. The Indian Act system is an imposed system—it is not our political system based on our values or ways of governing.

Putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Indigenous communities, particularly in places where there is significant pressure to develop natural resources, face tremendous imposed economic poverty. Billions of dollars of natural resources have been extracted from their territories, without their permission and without compensation. That’s the reality. We have not had the right to say no to development, because ultimately those communities are not seen as people, they are seen as resources.

Rather than interacting with indigenous peoples through our treaties, successive federal governments chose to control us through the Indian Act, precisely so they can continue to build the Canadian economy on the exploitation of natural resources without regard for indigenous peoples or the environment. This is deliberate. This is also where the real fight will be, because these are the most pristine indigenous homelands. There are communities standing up and saying no to the idea of tearing up the land for wealth. What I think these communities want is our solidarity and a large network of mobilized people willing to stand with them when they say no.

These same communities are also continually shamed in the mainstream media and by state governments and by Canadian society for being poor. Shaming the victim is part of that extractivist thinking. We need to understand why these communities are economically poor in the first place—and they are poor so that Canadians can enjoy the standard of living they do. I say “economically poor” because while these communities have less material wealth, they are rich in other ways—they have their homelands, their languages, their cultures, and relationships with each other that make their communities strong and resilient.

I always get asked, “Why do your communities partner with these multinationals to exploit their land?” It is because it is presented as the only way out of crushing economic poverty. Industry and government are very invested in the “jobs versus the environment” discussion. These communities are under tremendous pressure from provincial governments, federal governments, and industry to partner in the destruction of natural resources. Industry and government have no problem with presenting large-scale environmental destruction by corporations as the only way out of poverty because it is in their best interest to do so.

We have not had the right to say no to development, because  indigenous communities are not seen as people. They are seen as resources.

There is a huge need to clearly articulate alternative visions of how to build healthy, sustainable, local indigenous economies that benefit indigenous communities and respect our fundamental philosophies and values. The hyper-exploitation of natural resources is not the only approach. The first step to that is to stop seeing indigenous peoples and our homelands as free resources to be used at will however colonial society sees fit.

If Canada is not interested in dismantling the system that forces poverty onto indigenous peoples, then I’m not sure Canadians, who directly benefit from indigenous poverty, get to judge the decisions indigenous peoples make, particularly when very few alternatives are present. Indigenous peoples do not have control over our homelands. We do not have the ability to say no to development on our homelands. At the same time, I think that partnering with large resource extraction industries for the destruction of our homelands does not bring about the kinds of changes and solutions our people are looking for, and putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Ultimately we’re not talking about a getting a bigger piece of the pie—as Winona LaDuke says—we’re talking about a different pie. People within the Idle No More movement who are talking about indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive decolonization. A resurgence of indigenous political thought that is very, very much land-based and very, very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a revitalization of sustainable local indigenous economies that benefit local people. So I think there’s a pretty broad agreement around that, but there are a lot of different views around strategy because we have tremendous poverty in our communities.

On promoting life

Naomi: One of the reasons I wanted to speak with you is that in your writing and speaking, I feel like you are articulating a clear alternative. In a speech you gave recently at the University of Victoria, you said: “Our systems are designed to promote more life” and you talked about achieving this through “resisting, renewing, and regeneration”—all themes in Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back.

I want to explore the idea of life-promoting systems with you because it seems to me that they are the antithesis of the extractivist mindset, which is ultimately about exhausting and extinguishing life without renewing or replenishing.

Leanne: I first started to think about that probably 20 years ago, and it was through some of Winona LaDuke’s work and through working with elders out on the land that I started to really think about this. Winona took a concept that’s very fundamental to Anishinaabeg society, called mino bimaadiziwin. It often gets translated as “the good life,” but the deeper kind of cultural, conceptual meaning is something that she really brought into my mind, and she translated it as “continuous rebirth.” So, the purpose of life then is this continuous rebirth, it’s to promote more life. In Anishinaabeg society, our economic systems, our education systems, our systems of governance, and our political systems were designed with that basic tenet at their core.

I think that sort of fundamental teaching gives direction to individuals on how to interact with each other and family, how to interact with your children, how to interact with the land. And then as communities of people form, it gives direction on how those communities and how those nations should also interact. In terms of the economy, it meant a very, very localized economy where there was a tremendous amount of accountability and reciprocity. And so those kinds of things start with individuals and families and communities and then they sort of spiral outwards into how communities and how nations interact with each other.

It was the quality of their relationships—not how much they had, not how much they consumed—that was the basis of my ancestors’ happiness.

I also think it’s about the fertility of ideas and it’s the fertility of alternatives. One of the things birds do in our creation stories is they plant seeds and they bring forth new ideas and they grow those ideas. Seeds are the encapsulation of wisdom and potential and the birds carry those seeds around the earth and grew this earth. And I think we all have that responsibility to find those seeds, to plant those seeds, to give birth to these new ideas. Because people think up an idea but then don’t articulate it, or don’t tell anybody about it, and don’t build a community around it, and don’t do it.

So in Anishinaabeg philosophy, if you have a dream, if you have a vision, you share that with your community, and then you have a responsibility for bringing that dream forth, or that vision forth into a reality. That’s the process of regeneration. That’s the process of bringing forth more life—getting the seed and planting and nurturing it. It can be a physical seed, it can be a child, or it can be an idea. But if you’re not continually engaged in that process then it doesn’t happen.

Naomi: What has the principle of regeneration meant in your own life?

Leanne: In my own life, I try to foster that with my own children and in my own family, because I have a lot of control over what happens in my own family and I don’t have a lot of control over what happens in the broader nation and broader society. But, enabling them, giving them opportunities to develop a meaningful relationship with our land, with the water, with the plants and animals. Giving them opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with elders and with people in our community so that they’re growing up in a very, very strong community with a number of different adults that they can go to when they have problems.

One of the stories I tell in my book is of working with an elder who’s passed on now, Robin Greene from Shoal Lake in Winnipeg, in an environmental education program with First Nations youth. And we were talking about sustainable development, and I was explaining that term from the Western perspective to the students. And I asked him if there was a similar concept in Anishinaabeg philosophy that would be the same as sustainable development. And he thought for a very long time. And he said no. And I was sort of shocked at the “no” because I was expecting there to be something similar. And he said the concept is backwards. You don’t develop as much as Mother Earth can handle. For us it’s the opposite. You think about how much you can give up to promote more life. Every decision that you make is based on: Do you really need to be doing that?

The purpose of life is this continuous rebirth, it’s to promote more life.

If I look at how my ancestors even 200 years ago, they didn’t spend a lot of time banking capital, they didn’t rely on material wealth for their well-being and economic stability. They put energy into meaningful and authentic relationships. So their food security and economic security was based on how good and how resilient their relationships were—their relationships with clans that lived nearby, with communities that lived nearby, so that in hard times they would rely on people, not the money they saved in the bank. I think that extended to how they found meaning in life. It was the quality of those relationships—not how much they had, not how much they consumed—that was the basis of their happiness. So I think that that’s very oppositional to colonial society and settler society and how we’re taught to live in that.

Naomi: One system takes things out of their relationships; the other continuously builds relationships.

Leanne: Right. Again, going back to my ancestors, they weren’t consumers. They were producers and they made everything. Everybody had to know how to make everything. Even if I look at my mom’s generation, which is not 200 years ago, she knew how to make and create the basic necessities that we needed. So even that generation, my grandmother’s generation, they knew how to make clothes, they knew how to make shelter, they knew how to make the same food that they would grow in their own gardens or harvest from the land in the summer through the winter to a much greater degree than my generation does. When you have really localized food systems and localized political systems, people have to be engaged in a higher level—not just consuming it, but producing it and making it. Then that self-sufficiency builds itself into the system.

My ancestors tended to look very far into the future in terms of planning, look at that seven generations forward. So I think they foresaw that there were going to be some big problems. I think through those original treaties and our diplomatic traditions, that’s really what they were trying to reconcile. They were trying to protect large tracts of land where indigenous peoples could continue their way of life and continue our own economies and continue our own political systems, I think with the hope that the settler society would sort of modify their way into something that was more parallel or more congruent to indigenous societies.

On loving the wounded

Naomi: You often start your public presentations by describing what your territory used to look like. And it strikes me that what you are saying is very different from traditional green environmental discourse, which usually focuses on imminent ecological collapse, the collapse that will happen if we don’t do X and Y. But you are basically saying that the collapse has already happened.

Simpson speaking at an Idle No More protest in Peterborough, Ontario.

Leanne: I’m not sure focusing on imminent ecological collapse is motivating Canadians to change if you look at the spectrum of climate change denial across society. It is spawning a lot of apocalypse movies, but I think it is so overwhelming and traumatic to think about, that perhaps people shut down to cope. That’s why clearly articulated visions of alternatives are so important.

In my own work, I started to talk about what the land used to look like because very few people remember. Very early on, where I’m from, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, you saw the collapse of the salmon population in Lake Ontario by 1840. They used to migrate all the way up to Stony Lake—it was a huge deal for our nation. And then the eel population crashing with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Trent-Severn Waterway. So I think again, in a really local way, indigenous peoples have seen and lived through this environmental disaster where entire parts of their world collapsed really early on.

But it cycles, and the collapses are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s getting to the point where I describe what my land used to look like because no one knows. No one remembers what southern Ontario looked like 200 years ago, which to me is really scary. How do we envision our way out of this when we don’t even remember what this natural environment is supposed to look like?

Naomi: I’ve spent the past two years living in British Columbia, where my family is, and I’ve been pretty involved in the fights against the tar sands pipelines. And of course the situation is so different there. There is still so much pristine wilderness, and people feel connected and protective of it. And I think for everyone, the fights against the pipelines have really been about falling more deeply in love with the land. It’s not an “anti” movement—it’s not about “I hate you.” It’s about “We love this place too much to let you desecrate it.” So it has a different feeling than any movement I’ve been a part of before. And of course the anti-pipeline movement on the West Coast is indigenous-led, and it’s also forged amazing coalitions of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. I wonder how much those fights have contributed to the emergence of Idle No More—the fact of having these incredible coalitions and First Nations saying no to Harper, working together…

Leanne: But also because the Yinka Dene Alliance based their resistance on indigenous law. I remember feeling really proud when Yinka Dene Alliance did the train ride to the east. I was actually in Alberta at the time but we need to build on that because if you look in the financial sections of the papers for the last few years, there are these little indications that the pipelines are coming here too. And it’s becoming more so, with this refinery in Fredericton. So there needs to be a similar movement around pipelines as we’ve seen in British Columbia. But central Canada is behind.

No one remembers what southern Ontario looked like 200 years ago, which to me is really scary.

Naomi: I think a lot of it has to do with the state the land is in. Because in B.C., that was the outrage over the Northern Gateway routing—“You want to build a pipeline through that part of B.C.? Are you nuts?” It was almost a gift to movement-building because they weren’t talking about building it through urban areas, they were talking about building it through some of the most pristine wilderness in the province. But we have such a harder job here, because there needs to be a process not just of protecting the land, but as you were saying, of finding the land in order to protect it. Whereas in B.C., it’s just so damn pretty.

Leanne: I think for me, it’s always been a struggle because I’ve always wanted to live in B.C. or the north, because the land is pristine. It’s easier emotionally for me. But I’ve chosen to live in my territory and I’ve chosen to be a witness of this. And I think that’s where, in the politics of indigenous women, and traditional indigenous politics, it is a politics based on love. That was the difference with Idle No More because there were so many women that were standing up. Because of colonialism, we were excluded for a long time from that Indian Act chief and council governing system. Women initially were not allowed to run for office, and it’s still a bastion of patriarchy. But that in some ways is a gift because all of our organizing around governance and politics and this continuous rebirth has been outside of that system and been based on that politics of love.

So when I think of the land as my mother or if I think of it as a familial relationship, I don’t hate my mother because she’s sick, or because she’s been abused. I don’t stop visiting her because she’s been in an abusive relationship and she has scars and bruises. If anything, you need to intensify that relationship because it’s a relationship of nurturing and caring. And so I think in my own territory I try to have that intimate relationship, that relationship of love—even though I can see the damage—to try to see that there is still beauty there. There’s still a lot of beauty in Lake Ontario. It’s one of those threatened lakes and it’s dying and no one wants to eat the fish. But there is a lot of beauty still in that lake. There is a lot of love still in that lake. And I think that Mother Earth as my first mother. Mothers have a tremendous amount of resilience. They have a tremendous amount of healing power. But I think this idea that you abandon it when something has been damaged is something we can’t afford to do in Southern Ontario.

Naomi: Exactly. But it’s such a different political project, right? Because the first stage is establishing that there’s something left to love. My husband talks about how growing up beside a lake you can’t swim in shapes your relationship with nature. You think nature is somewhere else. I think a lot of people don’t believe this part of the world is worth saving because they think it’s already destroyed, so you may as well abuse it some more. There aren’t enough people who are articulating what it means to build an authentic relationship with non-pristine nature. And it’s a different kind of environmental voice that can speak to the wounded, as opposed to just the perfect and pretty.

Leanne: If you can’t swim in it, canoe across it. Find a way to connect to it. When the lake is too ruined to swim or to eat from it, then that’s where the healing ceremonies come in, because you can still do ceremonies with it. In Peterborough, I wrote a spoken word piece around salmon in which I imagined myself as being the first salmon back into Lake Ontario and coming back to our territory. The lift-locks were gone. And I learned the route that the salmon would have gone in our language. And so that was one of the ways I was trying to connect my community back to that story and back to that river system, through this performance. People did get more interested in the salmon. The kids did get more interested because they were part of the dance work.

On climate change and transformation

Naomi: In the book I’m currently writing I’m trying to understand why we are failing so spectacularly to deal with the climate crisis. And there are lots of reasons—ideological, material, and so on. But there are also powerful psychological and cultural reasons where we—and I’m talking in the “settler” we, I suppose—have been colonized by the logic of capitalism, and that has left us uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this particular crisis.

Leanne: In order to make these changes, in order to make this punctuated transformation, it means lower standards of living, for that 1 percent and for the middle class. At the end of the day, that’s what it means. And I think in the absence of having a meaningful life outside of capital and outside of material wealth, that’s really scary.

If we are not, as peoples of the earth, willing to counter colonialism, we have no hope of surviving climate change.

Naomi: Essentially, it’s saying: your life is going to end because consumerism is how we construct our identities in this culture. The role of consumption has changed in our lives just in the past 30 years. It’s so much more entwined in the creation of self. So when someone says, “To fight climate change you have to shop less,” it is heard as, “You have to be less.” The reaction is often one of pure panic.

On the other hand, if you have a rich community life, if your relationships feed you, if you have a meaningful relationship with the natural world, then I think contraction isn’t as terrifying. But if your life is almost exclusively consumption, which I think is what it is for a great many people in this culture, then we need to understand the depth of the threat this crisis represents. That’s why the transformation that we have to make is so profound—we have to relearn how to derive happiness and satisfaction from other things than shopping, or we’re all screwed.

Leanne: I see the transformation as: Your life isn’t going to be worse, it’s not going to be over. Your life is going to be better. The transition is going to be hard, but from my perspective, from our perspective, having a rich community life and deriving happiness out of authentic relationships with the land and people around you is wonderful. I think where Idle No More did pick up on it is with the round dances and with the expression of the joy. “Let’s make this fun.” It was women that brought that joy.

Naomi: Another barrier to really facing up to the climate crisis has to do with another one of your strong themes, which is the importance of having a relationship to the land. Because climate change is playing out on the land, and in order to see those early signs, you have to be in some kind of communication with it. Because the changes are subtle—until they’re not.

Leanne: I always take my kids to the sugar bush in March and we make maple syrup with them. And what’s happened over the last 20 years is every year our season is shorter. Last year was a near disaster because we had that week of summer weather in the middle of March. You need a very specific temperature range for making maple sugar. So it sort of dawned on me last year: I’m spending all of this time with my kids in the sugar bush and in 20 years, when it’s their term to run it, they’re going to have to move. Who knows? It’s not going to be in my territory anymore. That’s something that my generation, my family, is going to witness the death of. And that is tremendously sad and painful for us.

Individual choices aren’t going to get us out of this mess. We need a systemic change.

It’s things like the sugar bush that are the stories, the teachings, that’s really our system of governance, where children learn about that. It’s another piece of the puzzle that we’re trying to put back together that’s about to go missing. It’s happening at an incredibly fast rate, it’s changing. Indigenous peoples have always been able to adapt, and we’ve had a resilience. But the speed of this—our stories and our culture and our oral tradition doesn’t keep up, can’t keep up.

Naomi: One of the things that’s so difficult, when one immerses oneself in the climate science and comes to grips with just how little time we have left to turn things around, is that we know that real hard political work takes time. You can’t rush it. And a sense of urgency can even be dangerous, it can be used to say, “We don’t have time to deal with those complicated issues like colonialism and racism and inequality.” There is a history in the environmental movement of doing that, of using urgency to belittle all issues besides human survival. But on the other hand, we really are in this moment where small steps won’t do. We need a leap.

Leanne: This is one of the ways the environmental movement has to change. Colonial thought brought us climate change. We need a new approach because the environmental movement has been fighting climate change for more than two decades and we’re not seeing the change we need. I think groups like Defenders of the Land and the Indigenous Environmental Network hold a lot of answers for the mainstream environmental movement because they are talking about large-scale transformation. If we are not, as peoples of the earth, willing to counter colonialism, we have no hope of surviving climate change. Individual choices aren’t going to get us out of this mess. We need a systemic change. Manulani Aluli Meyer was just in Peterborough—she’s a Hawaiian scholar and activist—and she was talking about punctuated transformation. A punctuated transformation [means] we don’t have time to do the whole steps and time shift, it’s got to be much quicker than that.

That’s the hopefulness and inspiration for me that’s coming out of Idle No More. It was small groups of women around a kitchen table that got together and said, “We’re not going to sit here and plan this and analyze this, we’re going to do something.” And then three more women, and then two more women, and a whole bunch of people and then men got together and did it, and it wasn’t like there was a whole lot of planning and strategy and analyzing. It was people standing up and saying “Enough is enough, and I’m going to use my voice and I’m going to speak out and I’m going to see what happens.” And I think because it was still emergent and there were no single leaders and there was no institution or organization it became this very powerful thing.

On next steps

Naomi: What do you think the next phase will be?

Leanne: I think within the movement, we’re in the next phase. There’s a lot of teaching that’s happening right now in our community and with public teach-ins, there’s a lot of that internal work, a lot of educating and planning happening right now. There is a lot of internal nation-building work. It’s difficult to say where the movement will go because it is so beautifully diverse. I see perhaps a second phase that is going to be on the land. It’s going to be local and it’s going to be people standing up and opposing these large-scale industrial development projects that threaten our existence as indigenous peoples—in the Ring of Fire [region in Northern Ontario], tar sands, fracking, mining, deforestation… But where they might have done that through policy or through the Environmental Assessment Act or through legal means in the past, now it may be through direct action. Time will tell.

Naomi: I want to come back to what you said earlier about knowledge extraction. How do we balance the dangers of cultural appropriation with the fact that the dominant culture really does need to learn these lessons about reciprocity and interdependence? Some people say it’s a question of everybody finding their own inner indigenousness. Is that it, or is there a way of recognizing indigenous knowledge and leadership that avoids the hit-and-run approach?

Leanne: I think Idle No More is an example because I think there is an opportunity for the environmental movement, for social-justice groups, and for mainstream Canadians to stand with us. There was a segment of Canadian society, once they had the information, that was willing to stand with us. And that was helpful and inspiring to me as well. So I think it’s a shift in mindset from seeing indigenous people as a resource to extract to seeing us as intelligent, articulate, relevant, living, breathing peoples and nations. I think that requires individuals and communities and people to develop fair and meaningful and authentic relationships with us.

We have a lot of ideas about how to live gently within our territory in a way where we have separate jurisdictions and separate nations but over a shared territory. I think there’s a responsibility on the part of mainstream community and society to figure out a way of living more sustainably and extracting themselves from extractivist thinking. And taking on their own work and own responsibility to figure out how to live responsibly and be accountable to the next seven generations of people. To me, that’s a shift that Canadian society needs to take on, that’s their responsibility. Our responsibility is to continue to recover that knowledge, recover those practices, recover the stories and philosophies, and rebuild our nations from the inside out. If each group was doing their work in a responsible way then I think we wouldn’t be stuck in these boxes.

There are lots of opportunities for Canadians, especially in urban areas, to develop relationships with indigenous people. Now more than ever, there are opportunities for Canadians to learn. Just in the last 10 years, there’s been an explosion of indigenous writing. That’s why me coming into the city today is important, because these are the kinds of conversations where you see ways out of the box, where you get those little glimmers, those threads that you follow and you nurture, and the more you nurture them, the bigger they grow.

Idle No More is a shift in mindset to seeing us as intelligent, articulate, relevant, living, breathing peoples and nations.

Naomi: Can you tell me a little bit about the name of your book, Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back, and what it means in this moment?

Leanne: I’ve heard Elder Edna Manitowabi tell one of our creation stories about a muskrat and a turtle for years now. In this story, there’s been some sort of environmental crisis. Because within Anishinaabeg cosmology, this isn’t the First World, maybe this is the Fourth World that we’re on. And whenever there’s an imbalance and the imbalance isn’t addressed, then over time there’s a crisis. This time, there was a big flood that covered the entire world. Nanabush, one of our sacred beings, ends up trapped on a log with many of the other animals. They are floating in this vast sea of water with no land in sight. To me, that feels like where we are right now. I’m on a very crowded log, the world my ancestors knew and lived in is gone, and me and my community need to come up with a solution even though we are all feeling overwhelmed and irritated. It’s an intense situation and no one knows what to do, no one knows how to make a new world.

Idle No More group
Why Canada’s Indigenous Uprising Is About All of Us
When a new law paved the way for tar sands pipelines and other fossil fuel development on native lands, four women swore to be “idle no more.” The idea took off.

So the animals end up taking turns diving down and searching for a pawful of dirt or earth to use to start to make a new world. The strong animals go first, and when they come up with nothing, the smaller animals take a turn. Finally, muskrat is successful and brings her pawfull of dirt up to the surface. Turtle volunteers to have the earth placed on her back. Nanibush prays and breaths life into that earth. All of the animals sing and dance on the turtle’s back in a circle, and as they do this, the turtle’s back grows. It grows and grows until it becomes the world we know. This is why Anishinaabeg call North AmericaMikinakong—the place of the turtle.

When Edna tells this story, she says that we’re all that muskrat, and that we all have that responsibility to get off the log and dive down no matter how hard it is and search around for that dirt. And that to me was profound and transformative, because we can’t wait for somebody else to come up with the idea. The whole point, the way we’re going to make this better, is by everybody engaging in their own being, in their own gifts, and embody this movement, embody this transformation.

And so that was a transformative story for me in my life and seemed to me very relevant in terms of climate change, in terms of indigenous resurgence, in terms of rebuilding the Anishinaabeg Nation. And so when people started round dancing all over the turtle’s back in December and January, it made me insanely happy. Watching the transformative nature of those acts, made me realize that it’s the embodiment, we have to embody the transformation.

Naomi: What did it feel like to you when it was happening?

Leanne: Love. On an emotional, a physical level, on a spiritual level. Yeah, it was love. It was an intimate, deep love. Like the love that I have for my children or the love that I have for the land. It was that kind of authentic, not romantic kind of fleeting love. It was a grounded love.

Naomi: And it can even be felt in a shopping mall.

Leanne: Even in a shopping mall. And how shocking is that?

Naomi Klein wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Naomi is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, fellow at The Nation Institute and author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She lives in British Columbia.

From Yes! Magazine


‘Serious Men’ By Manu Joseph – Book review by Farah Shroff

W. W. Norton & Company, New York 2010

If you are like me and root for the underdog then you may find this book appealing. The main character of this book is Ayyan Mani, a Dalit father, spouse and clerk at a physics institute in Mumbai. Despite the ‘serious’ in the title the book is actually quite comedic. One of the ways in which Mani wanted to “strike back” at India’s ruling Brahmins was to donate sperm— hoping that Brahmins would purchase his seed and sprout little Dalit babies! Much of the book revolves around his desire to make his one and only son famous for being a genius. His little Adi has been born into a very modest home and has few prospects for ever climbing higher than his father, despite the fact that Mani is a member of MENSA and has a very high IQ.

The physics’ institute’s characters and their professional and personal lives take up another chunk of the story. We meet arrogant, brilliant men who think about extra terrestrials and fight about sending balloons into space to see if life drops down from outer space. When the first woman joins the research team, this hitherto all-male bastion changes in unpredictable ways.

All in all this is a great read albeit slow and rather dull in a few places. Joseph is generally a talented story teller. While his male characters are well developed the women in his book lack believability in some ways and in other ways they are stereotyped as not very interesting people.

The front cover, with a friendly and colourful image of Lord Shiva and his son Ganesha, caught my eye. I’m glad I picked it up and took it home. For part of the time, our 12 year old Zubin and me read the book aloud and enjoyed the fun together. Joseph takes on the heavy theme of caste discrimination and weaves a tale that is light yet provocative.


Farah Shroff


‘Gurpreet Singh refuses Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal’ by Charlie Smith

Today, I received a message from one of our contributors, Gurpreet Singh, saying he’s turned down an award that many others are bragging about winning.

Singh, also a talk-show host on Radio India, had been offered a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from Newton–North Delta NDP MP Jinny Sims.

But he let me know that he didn’t want it—and not out of any disrespect for Sims, the fiery former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Once again, Singh has proven that he doesn’t just run with the pack.

Here are five reasons why this immigrant from India decided that he didn’t need to pin one of these medals on his chest to prove what a great Canadian he is:

• He hates the monarchy and wants an elected constitutional head of state in Canada.

• The Queen represents a colonial empire that brought destruction to India and Canada.

• The Queen did not apologize for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre ordered by Brig.-Gen. Reginald Dyer in 1919, even though she visited Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab where the atrocity occurred.

• A nurse of Indian origin committed suicide after being accused of breaching the Royal Family’s privacy by leaking news of Kate Middleton’s condition during pregnancy.

• The Queen and her Governor General have not shown compassion toward Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and the indigenous peoples.

Singh’s decision comes in the same month that writer Naomi Klein and singer Sarah Slean rejected the same offer.

Meanwhile, Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow reportedly mailed her medal back to Gov. Gen. David Johnston because of his initial refusal to meet with Chief Spence.

Awards are often grossly over-rated. It’s nice to see that some folks are trying to make use of these baubles to educate people rather than simply wrapping themselves in glory.






‘Yaka and the Unrandomness of Retail Murder’ by Yak Handa

The sexual assault and mutilation of a young student in Delhi has drawn condemnation by capitalist mass-media, world over. Even the UN’s Moon flashed his selective beams on how Indians cast women.
There was less coverage of the pushing and crushing by an oncoming New York subway-train of an Indian man on December 27, by a white woman. Erika Menendez was looking to kill a “Hindu or a Muslim,” saying she wanted revenge for the 9/11 attacks!

In the Delhi case, the media, and those minions they trumpet as ‘spokesmen,’ compete with each other in calling for immediate capital-punishment of accused perpetrators. It’s almost like Mafioso capos, ordering the assassination of hitmen to cover up the trail of electronic echoes and leaden residues that inevitably lead to their own fingerprints and vocal-cords.

With victim and criminal out of the way, this media will soon manipulate this broadcast trauma into reproducing the same old days of ‘business as usual.’ Read that as the daily wholesale-mutilation by European nations and their settler-states’ aerial-bombers which strike from the highest altitudes to ground-zero. Yet daily retail-violence usually occurs both within and between adjacent class fractions, those closest, not the so-called uppermost vs the lowliest. Such violence occurs between people known to each other, as family members, neighbors or coworkers, especially when enforcing old hierarchies of inequity.

The seemingly random nature of the Delhi and NY attacks added to its horror. Yet the media hinted at class war, portraying the victim as a medical-student and the criminals ‘from the slums.’
The same media hotly condemns the subway-pusher too, as they do the Delhi attackers. But Erika is described as “mentally unstable” – the usual analysis for such crimes involving white criminality. For Black people, Asians, etc, more political or primordial causes are ascribed.

The English media is long famed for casting black men as congenital-rapists – a popular theme that goes back to early slavery days. Yet such acts against women occur in all communities and countries, and are perhaps more common among the middle/upper classes who hide such acts more easily. The media rarely highlights the widespread violence by white men against white women, or even Jewish men against Jewish women. Hate is a bank with many ATMs offering a bouquet of venomous currencies. One is misogyny, the hatred of women.

A day after the BBC and their ventriloquist-hacks splashed headlines of Pakistani men targeting white girls, English police launched nationwide marches protesting budget-cuts. Yet the same BBC was later accused of suppressing news about the deadly use of their studios as sites of decades-long abuse of girls by one of their superstars! No media recalled that the first BBC Director-General Lord Reith’s penchant for young boys led him to have a fountain built outside its headquarters with naked cherubs pissing into a public trough.

Blame for these most-recent acts of ‘retail’ murder should lead us to the very same media that misinforms us while arousing more violence, that portrays women either as heroic mothers or helpless victims, either as a Virgin Mary or a whore, or as prizes for successful consumption.

This same media that gave repeated play to clear distortions of the Mayan culture’s calendar, insisting the world could end December 21st! The same media that for decades have demonized by-the-minute, brown Asians in turbans – Muslim, Sikh or Pathan don’t matter.

The media broadcast the white subway-shover’s insistence that killing a Hindu or a Muslim was revenge for the Twin-Tower demolition. She could call Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington to join her defense team. Huntington’s long been allowed to loudly insist what the world’s witnessing is the old “clash of civilizations.”

History Anew

Did the Mayans predict Huntington’s pupil Fukuyama would be promoted for declaring “The End of History” about 1989?! All we’ve witnessed ever since history’s-end has been a rather one-sided clash, with millions of Asians and Africans murdered, many times, wholesale.

In the Delhi incident, described by media as isolated, the usual response claims surprise, etc. But many Delhi residents claim public attacks on women are long too common. Yet every inch of road is otherwise accounted for. Thanks to Caltex/ Ford-friendly privatizations, thanks to the car-finance companies, all routes of our largely privatized transport systems are highly controlled by owners who must deploy thugs and swift violence to maintain their monopoly. Passengers have to be treated with sheer contempt. The primary ‘joyriders’ charged with the killing included a ‘private’ school bus driver, and his brother. It profits the corporate media to conceal the traumatic depths of what their economic and social policies have created in our societies, then round up the usual suspects to cast blame, vent spleen, and reproduce the violence. Who bankrolls the slumdog millionaires? Yaka asks, guess who they are really protecting?


From The Nation, Sri Lanka


Delhi Bus Gang-rape and Popular Protests

Solidarity with the protesters in Delhi!
Down with government violence and misleading information!
Punish every rapist and all those who support or abet rape!
There have been sustained protests in Delhi against the rape of a young woman of 23 in a bus, and the callous attitude of police, administration and politicians till the protesters forced their hands. This has been taken up across India. Protests have been heard in Kolkata, in Srinagar, and in many other places. This issue must be put in its proper perspective in order to understand why there has been such a massive outpouring.
It is not because this is just an incidence of unusual violence that people are angry. And it is not that this is a middle class issue, and that is why the middle class is angry. The former detaches the particular issue from the general, while the latter is a very one sided presentation.
In 2010, there were 22,000 recorded cases of rape in India, which means the actual number or rapes was around 130,000 (given the ratio of five unreported rapes to every reported case that is widely admitted, while one study of the Punjab for 1995 suggested as high as 68:1 as the ratio between unreported and reported rapes). In Delhi, the national Capital, there have been over 560 cases of recorded rapes in 2012 so far. In West Bengal, there are several thousand rape cases that have been recorded by the police yet have not started moving in the courts. In Manipur, Irom Sharmila continues her lonely protest by hunger strike, while the Armed Forces Special Powers Act continues to shield men in uniform who routinely rape and murder women. In Kashmir, the Shopian Rape and murder was hushed up by calling it suicide due to family conflicts. In Gujarat in 2002, political violence against Muslims included gang rapes in a large number of cases, lauded by the Chief Minister as ‘Newton’s Third Law’. Rape, in other words, is a threat that stalks virtually every Indian woman. The massive and semi-spontaneous outpouring, organised by little more than personal contacts and grass roots level initiative, was born out of popular hatred of this growing trend, and an utter rejection of politicians and police who are seen as vile, corrupt, promoters and protectors of rapists, who have pussy-footed when Khap panchayats have sought to dictate terms against women, and who have routinely put up history-sheeters as their candidates, including men charged with rape (cases still going on) or with other sexual assault on women.
Because people routinely take part in elections, these parties go on repeating that Indian democracy is strong and deeply rooted. In fact it is shallow, and has come to mean little more than periodic contests between different gangs of crooks for all of whom people’s social, economic and cultural rights and desires matter not a whit.
Rape is treated, by the capitalist-patriarchal system and its upholders, in a totally flawed manner. It is equated with sex, and therefore rapists are identified as individual perverts. Often enough, the women themselves are blamed. In the present case too, before the depth of mass outrage was seen, one politician had remarked that the woman was too adventurous in being out so late. In other cases, women are virtually told they were inviting rape if they did not fit into a narrow dress code, if they were seen in various kinds of places socially identified as spaces for ‘bad women’, and so on. It is enough to remember the case of Bhanwari Devi, to understand that the reality is, women are raped because rape is a show of power. It is a display of violence on women by patriarchy.
At every stage, it is the woman who is victimised, traumatised and humiliated. Police routinely refuse to file an FIR (the Shopian case, the initial response in the Park Street, Kolkata case). The woman is humiliated when she goes to the Police Station. Cases are not handled speedily. Medical examination is often tardy or not even conducted. Rape is routinely described as a ‘fate worse than death’. Law-makers have gone on record using terms like Zinda-laash (living dead) to describe the rape victim. This means that rape is not treated as violence on the woman but as the loss of her ‘izzat’ (honour) without which she is ‘better dead’. When Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader, asserted in parliament that the woman’s life is now worse than death, she was actually endorsing the patriarchal value system that leads to rapes.
It is from this perspective that equally violent responses have been proposed. The most well-known is the demand for death penalty for rapists. Another is the demand for castration or branding rapists (made in the daily Bartaman of Kolkata by none less than a former judge).
We reject this mode of thinking. We assert that it is necessary to relate rape to every kind of sexual harassment and sexual assault on women. Rape is the most violent form of an entire range of patriarchal attacks on women, from passing obscene comments, to leering at women, groping, stalking, and assault that is short of the legal definition of rape.
We also reject all attempts to imprison women and girls in the name of their safety, by declaring which hours are safe or legitimate for them to go out on the streets, and dressed in exactly how much shame. What is needed, rather, is ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.
We oppose the demand for death penalty on both principled and practical grounds. We are opposed to death penalty per se, and therefore to its extension. But we also assert that in reality, the enactment of a law making death penalty possible for rape will have the opposite effect. That is when class as a factor will seriously come into play. It is the elite who will get away with lesser penalties, or will not even be convicted as police play an even worse role than now, while one or two lower class rapists will be hanged as so-called exemplars. It is worth remembering that rape is very often used as a form of upper caste violence to keep the dalits “in their place”.
We agree with all those organisations and individuals whose statement points out:
“This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans-people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.”(Statement by women’s and progressive groups and individuals condemning sexual violence and opposing death penalty. December 24, 2012)
We do express our difference with Arundhati Roy, who seems to feel that the protests are just a middle class anger. We feel this incidence was a tipping point. Yes, middle class youth played an important role. They can do so because in spontaneous mobilisations of this sort they have social advantages (mobiles, facebook, wider networking). But to shrug it off as middle class is to play into the hands of the state, which is trying to play down the meaning of the protests. It is true that media have often ignored the gravity of rapes when committed by upper castes against lower caste women, or by landlords against the rural poor women. That is hardly a fault of the middle class women. At most, we can say that we hope they will draw lessons from this experience and be equally vocal when it is working class women in brick kilns or unorganised sectors elsewhere who are being raped, when dalit women or when agricultural labourer women are raped.
We particularly condemn the violence inflicted on the protesters. The Delhi police has called the violence it has inflicted on the protestors “collateral damage” and at the same time charged eight persons with murder for the death of a police man. If they are going to use the terms of US imperialism and call their violence in terms used in imperialist wars, then the death of the policeman too is collateral damage. If they want to treat citizens as hostiles and cut off the metro links of Delhi’s central areas so that visiting dignitaries (Russia’s Putin) were spared the view of protests, then what do they expect protesters to do. If there was undesired violence, and there was, that is not because there are hidden Maoists or terrorists, as it is being insinuated, but because the state decided not to respond until it was too late, and with promises that were too little. 
  • We express support and solidarity with the protestors.
  • We express our heartfelt support to the family of the young women, and to all those injured by cop attacks.
  • We reject Maun Mohan Singh’s appeal, that people should go back home now that he has uttered his banalities.
  • We condemn the attempts by the Delhi police to control the nature of the statement being given by the victim.
The reality is that mainstream parties do not care about women’s equality. They do not care about rape, police inaction and related issues except in so far as these help them in election times. And this brings us to the weaknesses of the protests. The protesters utterly distrust and reject mainstream parties. Yet they are still unable to go beyond placing further demands on those very rotten elements.
A second weakness, being exploited by the parties like the BJP, is the demand of the death penalty. They feel that by using the rhetoric of exemplary punishment they can divert attention from the systemic nature of rape and sexual violence.
The crucial demands that need to be made are:
  • Immediate police reforms, so that rape charges must be recorded at any police station, with automatic provision of penal action against the duty officers, the officer in charge, and if necessary the superior police officers, if FIR is not taken immediately.
  • No need for permission from /governor or president if high officials or ministers are to be charged for cases of rape, abetting rape, or sexual assault.
  • Scrap the AFSPA. Bring to book rapists in uniform.
  • Set up fast track courts to ensure that rape cases are dealt with promptly (within a one year time frame).
  • Arrest and punish rapists in every recorded case of rape.
  • Review the role of the national commission for Women, given its numerous actions and utterances against the interests of women.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, we oppose the gender-neutral definition of the perpetrator and demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.
The bourgeois media, with very few exceptions, has been presenting a distorted picture, and pushing a clear agenda. Its glorification of ‘spontaneity’ has to do with its desire to save the political order in the final instance. The bourgeois media is aware that mainstream parties loot the country whether through the Commonwealth Games or the 2G scam, that they harbour rapists and other criminals, and assist and promote riots and caste wars. But these are also the parties and people who vote for bank privatisation, for turning water into a commodity, for every need of predatory capitalism. So people are encouraged only to ventilate anger at specific cases, not to seek for systemic changes. Against this, we urge protesters to understand the inner unity of the corrupt, the criminals and the political system, and unite with all the exploited for a systematic alternative. 

Thanks and Regards,

Dr. Sarosh A. Khan, MD
‘Radical Socialist Statement on the Delhi Bus Gang-rape and Popular Protests’

‘Barbarism in Cultured Soil: Rushdie’s Great Pakistani Novel’ by Shehryar Fazli

Still banned in Pakistan


SALMAN RUSHDIE’S THIRD NOVEL, Shame, which will turn 30 next year, may have an unenviable legacy. Squeezed between its author’s two most famous books — and two of the most famous books of the 1980s — Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses — it is seldom given its due in discussions of the author’s body of work, nor does it find much space in his recently published memoir, Joseph Anton. Yet, even with the recent ‘boom’ in Pakistan’s literature, it remains the most ambitious English-language novel about that country, yet to be surpassed in scope, inventiveness, and humor.

It also remains banned in Pakistan.

So, first, a word about my own copy of the novel: it’s a 1984 Picador edition, with the Urdu word for shame, ‘sharam’, written as if by hand with Typex in Arabic script above the English title. I say ‘my’ copy, but it in fact belonged to my father, who bought it in the 1980s at a secondhand bookstore in Islamabad. What’s peculiar about this is that General Zia-ul-Haq’s military government had banned Shame in Pakistan, a decision that attracted more attention to the book than the dictatorship intended, and induced several Western capitals to ship copies to Islamabad through the diplomatic bag for their envoys to read. Once done, these people would sell their copies to one of the many used bookstores in the capital.

There was another book in those years that also made the rounds through these same cramped passageways: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s If I am Assassinated, which the ex-prime minister wrote from his cell after Zia’s coup. When Zia closed down the printing press that was to print the book, stapled photocopied manuscripts found their way to secondhand bookstores, through which they would circulate widely, even years after Bhutto was hanged, in 1979.

It is amusing to consider these two books, hooked to the same life support, moving clandestinely in the political capital together, under Zia’s nose. Shame, after all, is in part a fictionalized account of the Bhutto-Zia relationship. The story of this particular copy is also apt not only because censorship and suppression are such vital themes in Shame, but because an equally important element is the stuff that evades or finds a way around censorship, the thing that won’t go away — including the words of a dead prime minister.

In the simplest terms, the novel is about the transformation of a country’s identity, the rise and fall of two men, the civilian leader Iskander Harrapa and the dictator-to-be Raza Hyder, fictional parallels respectively of Bhutto and Zia, who try to control the process, and the tragic outcomes of their missions. Its raw material is the history of Pakistan. At first glance, the book’s oft-quoted description of Pakistan as “a failure of the dreaming mind” seems mischievous and intended to provoke. But the failed dream here is an oppressive one: it is the dream of Urdu-speaking migrants who, after Partition in 1947, had to govern an essentially foreign nation, feeling compelled to impose a neat formula — the founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s ‘one nation, one culture, one language’ — onto a diverse, unwieldy polity. The dream disappoints because the country is too multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, too multidimensional for the imposition.

Shame’s narrator argues, “It is possible to see the subsequent history of Pakistan as a duel between two layers of time, the obscured world forcing its way back through what-had-been-imposed.” This duel forms the novel’s locus. Throughout, the censored and stifled rise to the surface, whether in the real-life secession of East Pakistan and insurgency in Balochistan against a brutal state, or in the gruesomely murderous acts of Sufiya Zinobia, General Hyder’s underdeveloped and repressed daughter. And then there is the deposed Iskander Harrapa, refusing to be quiet even after his execution: “O unceasing monologue of a hanged man!” Hyder wails as he starts hearing the dead prime minister, head still in the noose, taunting his executioner, “Never fear, old boy, it’s pretty difficult to get rid of me. I can be an obstinate bastard when I choose.” That voice goes on harassing Hyder “from the day of Iskander’s death to the morning of his own, that voice, sardonic lilting dry […] words dripping on his ear-drum like Chinese tortures, even in his sleep.”

There are other duels, too: between civilians and generals; between private passions and public customs; between the imagination and censorship; and, of course, between honor and shame. There is also a duel between fact and fiction. Ostensibly, Shame is a fantasy, the country in it “not-quite Pakistan,” everything not-quite real. Mixed into the fantasy, however, are passages of memoir, essay, and commentary on the actual Pakistan. Describing his intentions, the author says, “I tell myself this will be a novel of leavetaking, my last words on the East from which, many years ago, I began to come loose […] It is part of the world to which, whether I like it or not, I am still joined, if only by elastic bands.”

These intrusions, where the narrator (Rushdie or not-quite Rushdie, it’s difficult to tell) speaks and explains himself, are integral to the structure. He says that with his intermittent visits to his family in Pakistan, he “learned Pakistan in slices” — and that’s how he gives us the story. Instead of the perforated sheet of Midnight’s Children, we have “fragments of broken mirrors,” which the author holds up and in which the world ofShame is reflected to us. Throughout, we see him adjusting the angles to refract a little more or a little less. The difficulty in discriminating how much is real and how much is fantasy and manipulation is part of the novel’s tension.


It is difficult to resist the temptation to compare Shame to the now thrice-Booker-winning Midnight’s Children. In a 1995 piece declaring Saul Bellow’s 1953 Adventures of Augie March the Great American Novel, Martin Amis wrote: “Search no further. All the trails went cold forty-two years ago.” Similarly, if there is such a search for the Great Indian Novel, the trail went cold after the publication of Midnight’s Children in 1981. And it would indeed seem implausible that a novel about Pakistan would reach the same peaks as this earlier masterpiece.

At the risk of fidgeting with already tenuous definitions, it does seem that some countries have earned the Great Novel and some haven’t. The deserving nation at minimum evokes a sense of vastness, idealism and possibility, even if the promise is ultimately disappointed. This befits America and India, as it did Britain and Russia once upon a time. Meanwhile the shrunken land of Pakistan seems to have a more modest mandate, the intimate novel with small cast, of which there has been an excellent supply since at least the Lahore-based novelist Bapsi Sidhwa’s work in the late 1970s. In this century, Pakistani writers have taken a piece of their country’s territory and extracted all that they can from it, often brilliantly: Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke (Lahore), Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (rural Punjab), Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon (the tribal borderlands), Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes (life in the military). Shame, however, goes for broke; it wants the whole nation.

The first few chapters alone go through a rich inventory of the idiosyncratically Pakistani: the three rebellious, irreverent matriarchs in Quetta; a brandy den in the same city; the cantonment school; the corrupt customs officer and post-office man; the eccentric maulana who rides around town on a scooter “donated by the Angrez sahibs, threatening the citizens with damnation”; tribal borderlands; rural Sindh (with a seamless description of its large, almost-desert landholdings: “In these parts, horizons serve as boundary fences.”); and a humorous exposition of the layers of secret deals behind Karachi’s Defense Housing Authority, a result of which “nobody ever questioned how it came about that the city’s most highly desirable development zone had been allotted to the defense services.”

There is great comedy — the corrupt customs officer, for example, throws his daughter out of the house when he “suddenly found that his empty customs house was too full to accommodate a daughter whose belly revealed adherence to other, unacceptable customs”; and pithy, pitch perfect meditations on the condition of Pakistan’s elite that recall Rushdie’s earlier career as an adman: “Little (except freedom) was denied him”; “You can get anywhere in Pakistan if you know people, even into jail.”

Rushdie is also a master of South Asian accents and verbal mannerisms: when, for example, a character asks, “For what you begums want this lock-shock now?” Or when another speaks of “eighteen-inch stiletto blades, sharp sharp,” and another berates, “God knows what you’ll change with all this shifting shifting.” “Dontyouthinkso” becomes one word to reflect its common quirky South Asian usage. As such instances become more frequent — “biskuts” instead of biscuits, “filmi types,” a character describing a crude child as “the junglee boy”— one can share Rushdie’s delight in retooling our vocabulary.

Translations from Urdu are chosen both for comedy and insight: there is the restive Needle Valley, after Balochistan’s Sui district (the word ‘sui’ meaning needle); and a newspaper named War, a translation of jang, which is the name of one of the country’s top media groups and their main daily newspaper, its name such a part of everyday discussion that we sometimes forget its literal meaning. The Urdu term for the man-to-man hug of greeting, galai se milna, sounds charmingly absurd when translated into “allowing their necks to meet.”

He gave us this mix in Midnight’s Children, too, but there’s something else in the tone here that distinguishes the two novels. Returning to Bellow for a moment, the great American writer supposedly found his voice when, seeing water gushing from a fire hydrant, he decided to adopt a literary style that reflected a comparable surge of elements, employing it for the first time in Augie March. The writing in Midnight’s Children could be described in the same way. Throughout, there is a sense of one story or character or place leaking all over the next. In his recently published memoir, Rushdie described it this way: “India was not cool. It was hot and overcrowded and vulgar and loud and it needed a language to match that and he [Rushdie] would try to find that language.”

Shame, meanwhile, is a much smaller, tighter work, in part a reflection of its author’s idea of Pakistan: not hot, not loud, but closed, censored, its possibilities more restricted. Instead of Saleem’s invocation to himself on the first page, “Oh, spell it out, spell it out,”Shame’s narrator prefers leaving “many questions in a state of unanswered ambiguity.” Yet, concealed underneath is nevertheless the same messiness and energy that we find in the earlier novel; the water is still in the hydrant but the internal pressure always high, causing bursts now and again. This gives the sentences a fresh, tantalizing volatility.

Some of the book’s best moments are indeed when Rushdie condenses his material. Harappa’s period in power, for example, which a reader familiar with Bhutto’s rule in the 1970s may expect to be covered in several long chapters, is instead captured in a single paragraph that runs for four pages. It is depicted through 18 embroidered shawls, classified by theme. For example, a slapping shawl:

Iskander a thousand times over raising his hand, lifting it against ministers, ambassadors, argumentative holy men, mill-owners, servants, friends, it seemed as if every slap he ever delivered was here, and how many times he did it [] see upon the cheeks of his contemporaries the indelible blushes engendered by his palm.

On the next page, elections shawls:

[O]ne for the day of suffrage that began his reign, one for the day that led to his downfall, shawls swarming with figures, each one a breathtakingly lifelike portrait of a member of the Front, figures breaking seals, stuffing ballot-boxes, smashing heads, figures swaggering into polling booths to watch peasants vote, stick-waving rifle-toting figures, fire-raisers, mobs, and on the shawl of the second election there were three times as many figures as the on the first […] and of course he’d had won anyway, daughter, no question, a respectable victory, but he wanted more, only annihilation was good enough for his opponents, he wanted them squashed like cockroaches under his boot, yes, obliteration, and in the end it came to him instead, don’t think he wasn’t surprised, he had forgotten he was only a man.

Seven years of revolutionary, autocratic government compressed into four intense pages.

Like Bhutto, Harrapa is deposed in a coup by his until-then sycophantic army chief Hyder; elections are postponed; and Hyder, with his ally the motor-scooter maulana whispering in one ear and the ghost of the hanged ex-prime minister taunting him in the other, and facing women-led insurrection on the streets, becomes an Islamizing dictator.

The novel’s penultimate chapter is titled, “Stability,” the word here of course offered not to suggest genuine peace and harmony, but as the main imperative of dictatorship, a response to the “danger of permitting the imagination too free a rein.” It in fact leaves out five crucial words, revealed later to complete General Hyder’s motto: “Stability, in the name of God.” The chapter begins with a synopsis of a play about the French Revolution featuring Georges Danton who, after playing a lead role in overthrowing the monarchy, is guillotined during Robespierre’s Terror because, in this version, “he is too fond of pleasure.” His indulgences are subversive, whereas the demands of the French public at the time are for order: “The people are like Robespierre. They distrust fun.” And hence the play’s lesson is that the duel between the epicure and the puritan forms “the true dialectic of history. Forget left-right, capitalism-socialism, black-white. Virtue versus vice, ascetic versus bawd, God against the Devil: that’s the game.”

It’s also a blood sport — and Shame is by far Rushdie’s most violent novel, climaxing in this blood-spattered chapter. As the dictatorship seeks “stability, in the name of God,” it has to oppress the public while appearing to be fulfilling the public’s needs. But all stability of this kind, even if it’s in the name of God, proves fragile. General Hyder, proving himself alas to be “only a man,” is overthrown by a terrorizing mob that may or may not be inspired by his repressed daughter, Sufiya. The final section is appropriately titled “Judgment Day.”


The heroes of Rushdie’s novels are tragic because they believe or dream themselves to be larger than they are. In Midnight’s Children, Saleem envisions himself as the embodiment of the Indian nation, and the one causing historical events. Gibreel in The Satanic Verses dreams himself into the archangel. But these are, of course, fantasies, exposed by the end. India, for example, carries on with or without Saleem.

Shame’s declared ‘hero’, Omar Khayyam, never entertains such delusions: he accepts a peripheral role in history, watching “from the wings, not knowing how to act.” But the danger is that people who do influence the times, the Hyders and Harrapas, are just as average. Unlike Saleem and Gibreel, when they enlarge their roles, the consequences are severe.

History was old and rusted, it was a machine nobody had plugged in for thousands of years, and here all of a sudden it was being asked for maximum output. Nobody was surprised that there were accidents.

Those accidents leave long-term traumas, both external — separatism, secession, executions — and internal, as symbolized by the innocent Sufiya’s transformation into a murdering Beast that prowls the very “heart of the respectable world.” While iron rule may produce the trappings of stability and civility on the surface, it fails ultimately to conceal the novel’s innermost secret: “the impossible verity that barbarism [can] grow in cultured soil.” This revelation exposes and undoes the history-workers.

Towards the end of the book, when Raza Hyder has fallen, his wife Bilquis posits: “Once titans walked the earth.” And she reats, “Yes, titans absolutely, it’s a fact.”

“Now the pygmies have taken over, however,” she confided. “Tiny personages. Ants. Once he was a giant,” she jerked a thumb in the direction of her somnolent husband, “you would not believe to look, but he was. Streets where he walked shook with fear and respect, even here, in this very town. But, you see, even a giant can be pygmified, and he has shrunk now, he is smaller than a bug. Pygmies pygmies everywhere, also insects and ants — shame on giants, isn’t it? Shame on them for shrinking. That’s my opinion.”

The ideas in the two passages quoted here crest in a later novel, The Moor’s Last Sigh, to produce one of the finest passages in Rushdie’s work:

A tragedy was taking place all right, a national tragedy on a grand scale, but those of us who played our parts were — let me put it bluntly — clowns. Clowns! Burlesque buffoons, drafted into history’s theatre on account of the lack of greater men. Once, indeed, there were giants on our stage; but at the fag end of an age, Madam History must do with what she can get.

Although the country in this case is India, this treatise could just as easily summarize the tragedy in Shame.


More than for any other writer of his time, duels from Rushdie’s fiction find their way into real life. Shame is no exception. It is indeed eerie to read the author/narrator musing on the value of the Danton play in the “age of Khomeini,” when, at the end of that decade, Rushdie himself became arguably the most emblematic victim of that Age. At an earlier point, the author says that if he were writing a realistic book about Pakistan, that book “would have been banned, dumped in the rubbish bin, burned. All that effort for nothing!” Fortunately, he contends, “I am only telling a sort of modern fairy-tale, so that’s all right; nobody need get upset, or take anything I say too seriously. No drastic action need be taken, either. What a relief!”

Well, not quite. Realism showed through the fairy-tale, the military did get upset, and the book was banned. But if the narrator here underestimated Zia’s discriminating ear, he also overestimated the state’s ability to fully ban a book. Copies found their way around the regime. And almost 30 years later, the duel continues. Despite significant progress, free expression still contends against state censorship, winning a round here, losing one there. Recently, in the aftermath of an anti-Islam film trailer that provoked riots across the Muslim world, the government in Islamabad blocked Youtube, which remains inaccessible as of the writing of this essay. Meanwhile, insurgency and brutal military suppression continue in Balochistan, the army continues to interfere in politics, and Zia’s Islamization has proven very tough to reverse. If Shame’s political substance makes it relevant reading today, its language, inventiveness, and storytelling force will ensure its importance as a literary work even if — fingers crossed — those issues stop being current.

Despite coming under 300 pages, Shame is a big novel that goes for big ideas, about the individual and power, about state force and its limitations, about the imagination under authoritarian rule. It’s also a kaleidoscope, the broadest and liveliest yet, of this country’s complicated personality, full of pettiness and corruption and tragedy, but also rebellion and defiance and wit.

Given the great energy in Pakistani writing today, it would be hasty to say that the trail for the Great Pakistani Novel has gone cold. The 21st-century books mentioned earlier explore such diverse themes as immigration, conspiracy, bureaucracy, class divide, gender roles, army rule, tribal code, city life, proving how rich the material is. It’s possible that another big book that tries to encompass all of it is already in the works, and this possibility, this feeling that the Pakistani novel is still on the rise, is what makes this period in the nation’s literature so exciting.

But in the meanwhile, if searching for such a book, search no further than Shame.

[*] An earlier version of this essay appeared on theindiasite.com.

From Los Angeles Review of Books


Sindhi Poets return Pakistan’s Higher Civil Award

Two prominent Sindhi poets, educationalists, and researchers have returned the higher civil award of Pakistan – Tamgha-e-Imtiaz – in protest against the controversial Sindh Local Government Law, which administratively divides Sindh.

Last week, the veteran poet and educationist Ms. Marryam Majidi returned award; meanwhile yesterday the veteran researcher and poet Dr. Dur Mohammad Pathan returned the award to the Government of Pakistan.

News story
LG ordinance backlash: Sindhi poet to return his Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in protest
By Sarfaraz Memon
Published: October 15, 2012

SUKKUR: Poet, writer and research scholar Dr Dur Mohammad Pathan, expressing his disappointment over the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) performance, announced on Sunday that he will return his Presidential Tamgha-e-Imtiaz.

Talking to the media, he blamed the PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for ‘trying to harm the integrity and solidarity of Sindh’, which he said could not be tolerated. He was referring to the controversial local government ordinance. Pathan added that despite opposition from all over Sindh, PPP not only encouraged the Sindh governor to promulgate the ‘black ordinance’, but passed it in a record half hour.

Pathan said that these steps proved that the PPP and MQM were working against the interests of Sindh, and had therefore lost the mandate of the people of Sindh. He added that while several PPP MPAs were against the bill, they did not have the courage to oppose the bill openly.

The poet also said that if the ruling party claimed to have an answer to every query about the new local government system, then it should arrange a roundtable conference where all political and nationalist parties can debate the issue. Pathan also lashed out against the Sindh law minister, saying that he had learnt nothing from Benazir Bhutto and had therefore crossed his limits while criticising the writers and poets of Sindh.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Pathan said the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz was given to him last year for his services in the field of poetry and literature, and he had accepted the award because it was conferred by a democratic government. Having proven that it was now an ‘undemocratic party’, he said, he had now decided to return the award.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012

Information from SPN Newsletter
Zulfiqar Shah: shahzulf@yahoo.com

Libya: ‘Yaka Unsmokes the Mirrors of News’

The capital punishment in Libya of Obama’s US envoy, alongside an ‘information manager’ on September 11, may not be karmic blowback for the murderers of Muammar Ghaddafi, but an early ‘October Surprise’ arranged by a US-Israeli Romney-Netanyahu axis of cavil. US Marines sent to rescue the envoy allegedly encountered intense mortar barrage with accuracy presumably “too good for any regular revolutionaries.” The attack happened during a dissimulating public spat, with Netanyahu reviling Obama for not invading Iran, despite the Democratic Party platform hurriedly reinserting Jerusalem as capital of Zionist Israel, and god as their guide!

‘October Surprises’ are news extravaganzas staged just before US presidential elections. The most famous ‘surprise’ occurred when incumbent President Jimmy Carter arranged for the release of US spies held by Iran before the 1980 election, but spooks promoting Ronald Reagan’s campaign struck a deal with Iran’s government to prevent release of US spies arrested there, until after!

Carter then launched a major military rescue operation in Iran, but Reagan’s operatives informed the Iranians, who destroyed the invading force. The US spies were pointedly released a few minutes after Reagan’s 1981 inauguration! The corporate media, however, claims such allegations are “gross generalizations” of “generic conspiracy theorists.” Nonetheless, Bani-Sadr, once President of Iran, later agreed, “the Reagan campaign struck a deal with Teheran to delay the release…”

US Presidential elections are usually held in November after the Pentagon’s trillion-dollar war budgets are passed. But protracted ‘October Surprises’ are now orchestrated even earlier! After all, Christmas sales now begin pronto post-Halloween! The 2008 ‘financial crisis’ staged in mid-September clinched Obama’s election.

Netanyahu blamed Wednesday’s Benghazi attack on US weakness! They’re also blaming an al-Qaeda front, but many of these so-called ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ (now fronting embassy sieges) could also be traced through Tel Aviv and Riyadh to Washington-London! After all, the US is supporting al-Qaeda attacks against Syria’s Assad government – Ah! the Unison of Opposites!!

Commonwealth Ignores Travel Advisories

Such contradictions are not new. The English recently issued a travel advisory against visiting Sri Lanka, but lo! – we now have the bloodsucking Common-welt conferencing here with 9 English MPs present! Despite acclaimed fraud at Colombo’s stock exchange, these MPs will even visit the presumably Lankika company that technologically backs up the London Stock Exchange! Leading MP ‘Sir’ Alan Haselhurst, a ‘wet Tory’ aka monopoly capitalist who fudged his gardening expenses, is linked to multinational ICI-CIC whose fertilizers are blamed for major kidney disease in Anuradhapura.ICI-CIC, parading Potemkinish ‘organic’ stores in Colombo, is owned by the Rothschilds’ Nobel – yes, the Bofors-missile-makers who gave born-again-Christian-crusader Obama their Peace Prize!

The capitalist media is of course happy to distract: On Wednesday, Germany’s Constitutional Court approved a $644-billion European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – a combined-European super-bailout-budget to wage war, economic and other, on the world! German citizens had sought temporary injunction against paying into the new ESM, which will further weaken parliamentary control over public expenditure. Meanwhile, over 600 corporations are pushing a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to obviate government regulation. TPP will curtail access to the internet, and displace affordable generic medicines. Uncooperative governments will face an international tribunal where corporations can sue them for discontinuing deals previous governments signed in secret!

Mega-banks and their mega-corporations befog world news. Take the presumptive posting of an English prince to an Afghani redoubt, after cavorting butt-naked in a Las Vegas casino, just before the anniversary of the retail murder of an Egyptian haberdasher’s heir and of his English squeeze – the princeling’s mother – the estranged wife of a future ‘gay’ King of England. The pimply pug traverses from Nazi burlesque to Colonel Blimpage, while his gory grandmother links skeletal metacarpals with James Bond, a celluloid terrorist, to parachute over the Olympics as if ejecting from an airborne Brittanica adrift.These mise-en-scenes read like pulp thrillers, but such media bricolage is spread by a panoply of spin-doctors among Buckingham Palace’s salaried retainers propelled into overdrive to burnish the bruited benignity of a German monarch over English vassals. Such news whitewashes and launders the most-murderous English dynasty ever.

For these are indeed interesting times, the patent disabilities of capitalism are forcing ruling classes everywhere to refashion themselves to justify their exemption from the impending innovations of a glutted guillotine industry. Capitalists now claim the power to transform the very building blocks of human life. Old allies and ideas are out; new allies and subterfuges are needed. Yet Yaka reminds: They have no friends, only interests. They always support both sides – for no matter who wins, they can always claim a friend!

PS: September 11 also marks the 1973 mass-murder of over 60,000 Chileans when the US and its ITT Corporation spent millions to overthrow the socialist government of Salvador Allende.

Yakhanda thanks readers for comments to: Yakhanda@yahoo.com

The Nation, Sri Lanka

15 September: Day of Solidarity with workers and their families

15 September
Day of Solidarity
With those workers of Lahore and Karachi
Who lost their lives
For the crimes they had not committed
Please join us
 Hyderabad demo: 1.30pm Old Campus Hyderabad
 contact: Bukhshal Thallo
034 4333 3888
Karachi demo:   4pm from Ghani Churangi SITE industrial area to the factory where 300 worker lost their lives in fire.
 Nasir Mansoor 0300 358 7211
Lahore Demo: 3pm at Charing Cross Mall Road
Contact Rana Aslam 03004210024
Faisalabad: all power looms and textile factories to be closed and rally from Saddar at 10 am to the city centre
Contact Rana Tahir 0300 725 2295

Farooq Tariq

Federal executive committee
Labour Party Pakistan
Tel: 03008411946

The fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi, one of the worst ever industrial accidents in Pakistan that led tothe death of more than 350 workers on 11 September 2012 along with the other accident on the same day in asimilar garment factory in Lahore has brought into focus the critical issue of lack of workplace safety. This horrific incident shows the complete lack of safety regulation even in the organised manufacturing sector for which both the employer and government must be held criminally culpable.

The fire at Ali Enterprises, a five-storey garment factory located in Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE), at Karachi’s prestigious industrial area which is home to several global firms, killed more than 289 workers while the one in the shoe factory in Lahore claimed lives of more than 25 workers. Most of these workers were unable to escape due to inadequate access and the complete lack of emergency and fire exits. The building flouted all fire-safety norms and hence workers died due to asphyxiation and burns, unable to leave the building.

The Government is equally criminally liable for this negligence as the employer as it allowed flouting of all labour legislations and building safety norms.

Pakistan had ratified the ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No 81) in 1953 under which, the government is bound to maintain a system of labour inspection in industrial workplaces. This Convention contains binding legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers, including industrial safety and health that is enforceable by labour inspectors. The working conditions in the industry in Punjab worsened after the abolition of labour inspections following an Executive Order issued under the provisions of the Punjab Industrial Policy 2003, which aimed at “developing an industry and business-friendly environment” to attract fresh investment. The routine physical inspection of factories was stopped by the then Provincial Government through an amendment to the Punjab Factories Rules, 1978 which replaced physical inspection of the workplace by labour inspectors with a self-declaration statement by the employers on compliance with labour laws in their units. There is no law to even check or take action against those employers, who do not submit this self-declaration.

NTUI condoles the death of over three hundred workers in the two separate incidents of fire and joins the Pakistani trade unions in their immediate demand for payment compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs to the families of the workers who were killed, and Rs. 20 lakhs to the injured workers and further that the workers should receive their wages until such time as safe and secure production resumes. We also support the demand that the Government hold the employer criminally liable of homicide and take action against the Labour Department and government authorities that failed to ensure the safety and health of these workers.

The NTUI also joins the call for the Ratification of the ILO Convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and Convention 187 of Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health by all countries in the sub-continent that have seen several such incidents of fire at workplaces leading to innumerable loss of lives. Factory fires have alone claimed hundreds of lives in factories in India, Bangladesh, and now Pakistan in recent years – many of which are in the garment industry that are part of the global supply chain. This is not coincidental but is closely linked to the nature of the supply chain of this industry wherein capital is continually searching for areas of low labour costs for shifting production in order to keep the profit margins soaring. Hence lax implementation of even basic labour laws is critical for location of industry.

Trade unions across the subcontinent must come together to ensure that governments in South Asia arrive at a common minimum framework for labour laws including industrial safety and wages so as to prevent the movement of capital across borders in search of cheap labour and lax regulation.

We stand in solidarity with the call of the National Trade Union Federation for a Black Day on 15 September against the dreadful incident.

We will together build a safe and secure South Asian Work place!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Gautam Mody,
New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
B-137, First Floor, Dayanand Colony,
Lajpat Nagar IV,
New Delhi 110024
Telephone: +91 11 26214538
Telephone/ Fax: +91 11 26486931
Email: secretariat@ntui.org.in
Website: http://ntui.org.in


325 workers dead in one day – Pakistan

‘Political gimmicks over the death of 300 workers’
By Farooq Tariq
Today, a smiling Asif Zardari emerged from his caravan at Mao Hospital Lahore waving hands to his sycophants, when he came to enquire the health of the five injured workers during a fire in a shoe factory while 27 died on 11th September 2012. Till today, no Pakistan People’s Party leader visited the factory or went to see the families of those who had died.
The 10 minutes visit to the hospital by the president of Pakistan who is also co chairperson of PPP was an immediate response to the visit of Mian Nawaz Sharif to a Karachi factory where over 300 had died on the same day in a similar incident. He announced Rupees 300,000 compensation for every worker killed in the incident on behalf of Punjab government while according to commercial media report; President Zardari offered flowers to the five injured workers.
Punjab is ruled by Muslim League Nawaz while the provincial government in Sindh is of PPP. During the last three days after the worst industrial incident of Pakistan history, a routine message of sorrow by these two leaders were printed and broadcasted by the commercial media. Once Mian Nawaz Sharif decided to go to Sindh, President Zardari decided to visit Lahore.
The both sides accused each other for negligence in providing all the health and safety measures to the workers in the factories. The fact is that during the last four years of the power of PPP and PMLN in Sindh and Punjab, no factory inspection took place and the factories literary became the concentration camps. It was general Musharaf handpicked Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Ilahi, who put a ban on labour inspection of the factories across the province.
The PPP and PMLN government did not lift this ban until an earlier shocking incident at the pharmaceutical factory in Lahore that killed 27 workers on 4th January 2012. The Punjab government did announced lifting of the ban on factory inspection but no practical steps were taken by the labour department in this regard.
Ironically, Pervaiz Ilahi of Pakistan Muslim League Q is at present deputy prime minister of Pakistan and was accompanying the president during today’s hospital visit.
On the instruction of the Punjab government, it was decided that no official will be able to visit any factory without the permission of PPP and PMLN. The DLO will not give that permission and hence no labour inspection took place in Punjab. It was worst in Sindh where PPP and MQM were in power and there was a complete ban on factory inspection.
The worst incident in the history of Pakistan leaving over 325 workers dead in one day was a routine for the ruling class for the last three days. The PPP leaders invited by the commercial media to debate with PMLN leaders during this time accused Punjab government for negligence and PMLN accused the other. It was blame game and a political gimmick.
Had 300 capitalists died in any incident or accident, the whole commercial media, the ruling class and all those who are putting a mum on their lips would have declared a national tragedy, a great loss and would have declared a national day off, at the least. The 300 deaths of the workers  were like a routine matter, “a message of solidarity, a compensation of 200,000 Rupees, a promise to provide job to the relatives and may be a visit to the families of the dead” that is it. It shows a complete collapse of morality of the ruling capitalist class in Pakistan.
The interior minister, Rehman Malik, a real joker, went further than every ones guess; he hinted that it might be an act of terrorism. What non sense. That shows the thinking pattern of the ministers. They want to link every incident to their war on terror so they could prove to the Americans that they are the victims of the war on terror and the Americans should give them more money.
Some of the anchor persons tried to divert attention from this grave incident by spreading rumors that the owners were threatened by some gangsters to pinch money and they might have started the fire. Although, it was dam bloody clear to everyone that a total negligence towards the environment within the factories led to these two incidents where state has failed to play any role. And this 9/11 of Pakistan was not an isolated incident, it is happening every now and then.
Apart from the rich ruling politicians who have always protracted the capitalist class, now judiciary has once again came to the rescue the class they are protecting. The three owners of the factory went to Sindh High Court Larkana bench and got so-called protective bail for eight days.
The real class based prejudice of the judiciary can be seen from the fact that those “Faisalabad 6” textile workers who are accused of burning a factory front room with no life damage are given 590 years of total jail terms and were not granted bail for a single day. While here in this case, a factory owner responsible for 300 deaths is granted a bail. It is no accident that the owners went to Larkana bench, the home town of Bhuttos family, instead of Karachi.
The Faisalabad six are facing anti terrorist laws while no life was lost during the strike in July 2010 for wage increase despite some incidents of violence from both sides, and here three factory owners responsible for 300 deaths are not charged under anti terrorist laws. There are other Karachi textile workers facing anti terrorist laws just for the crime of raising voices for better wages and conditions.
Ordinary people of Pakistan are in real shock over the incident. There is great sympathy for the workers who have lost their lives. On the contrary, this incident is a political gimmick for the ruling politicians. We must reject this rough politics. We must build a genuine movement of solidarity by fighting for decent age and working conditions for the industrial working class. It is wake call once again for all of us.
Farooq Tariq
Member federal executive committee
Labour Party Pakistan
Labour Party Pakistan
1/7 Street 7, Mohammed Nagar, Allama Iqbal Road, Lahore, Pakistan
tel: 00 92 42 36315162

Sixth Annual Women’s Housing March in DTES‏ – Van Sep 15/12

Sat. Sep 15 @ 1:30 pm
Starts at Cordova and Columbia, just west of Main Street
Unceded Coast Salish Territories

Homes for People, not Profit for Real Estate!
No Slumlords, No Evictions and No Gentrification!
Rent Control not Social Control!
Homes not Jails!
Homes not Pipelines!
Housing, Childcare, and Healthcare for All!

FB RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/368896053180255/
Download posters: http://www.dewc.ca
Videos and photos from last year: http://is.gd/DQ5j8h

On Saturday Sep 15 at 1:30 pm, join the Downtown Eastside Women Centre Power of Women Group in the 6th Annual March for Women’s Housing and March Against Poverty.

This year we continue to march for housing, childcare, and healthcare for all low-income residents in the DTES. We want no more evictions, no more displacement, and no more gentrification in our neighourhood. We know that the growing number of cops and condos in the DTES is part of a larger pattern to destroy and privatize neighourboods, communities, and the land. We want to live free: free from BC Housing controls, free from violence against women, and free from this system that is hurting and killing us.

We invite groups to bring their banners and anything else for our festive march. All genders are welcome and celebrated. Please bring your drums and regalia. This march is child-friendly and there will be a rest-vehicle for elders. Spread the word!

Email: project@dewc.ca or Phone: 778 885 0040

The DTES Power of Women Group is a group of women (we are an inclusive group) from all walks of life who are either on social assistance, working poor, or homeless; but we are all living in extreme poverty in and around the DTES. Our aim is to empower ourselves through our experiences and to raise awareness from our own perspectives about the social issues affecting the neighbourhood. Many of us are single mothers or have had our children apprehended due to poverty; most of us have chronic physical or mental health issues for example HIV and Hepatitis C; many have drug or alcohol addictions; and a majority have experienced and survived sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse. For indigenous women, we are affected by a legacy of the effects of residential schools and a history of colonization and racism.

Harsha Walia

Crimes against women increase by 7% in a year in Pakistan

Anti-women crimes between May 2011 and May 2012
Rape cases up 29%
Punjab reported a 17% increase
Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) had an increase of 15%
Sindh registered a 35% decline
Balochistan had three cases reported in May 2012 as compared to two recorded last year, but that is because of non-reporting

A report based on FIRs registered by police in 57 districts monitored by FAFEN in May 2010, 2011 and 2012

ISLAMABAD, August 30: Crimes against women increased 7% this year as 57 districts reported 982 cases in May 2012 compared to 922 in the same month last year. However, over the last two years, an increase of 31% was reported in such crimes with 746 FIRs lodged in May 2010, says a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) report.

Released Thursday, the report said it could not be ascertained if this increase was due to occurrence of more crimes or enhanced reportage in certain parts of the country, or both.

The report is based on data collected from District Police Offices (DPOs) in May 2010, 2011 and 2012 on FIRs registered for six categories of crimes against women in 57 districts.

The crime categories include honour killing, forced marriage, offences relating to marriage, rape, attack on modesty and insult of modesty through word, gesture or act.

Twenty one of the monitored districts were in Punjab, 16 in Sindh, 15 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), four in Balochistan and one in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Punjab reported a 17% increase in FIRs for anti-women crimes between May 2011 and May 2012. Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) had an increase of 15% but Sindh registered a 35% decline. In Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), where nine cases were filed for crimes against women in 2011, the number of FIRs increased to 24 this year. Balochistan had three cases reported in May 2012 as compared to two recorded last year.

Among the monitored crimes, cases of honour killings and offences relating to marriage and the number of reporting districts increased.

In 2012, 31 cases of honour killings were reported in 15 districts as compared to 24 in 11 districts last year. Faisalabad with five cases was the highest reporting district in May this year. Similarly, as the number of reporting districts increased from nine to 11, FIRs filed for offences relating to marriage also went up – 131 this year compared to 112 in May 2011.

Although the districts reporting cases of attack on modesty this year remained the same (29), the number of FIRs filed increased by 36%. Except for Punjab, all other regions registered a decline in the number of reported cases. Lahore was the highest reporting district in 2011 and 2012 – the number of cases there increasing from 32 to 92.

The cases of word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman increased from seven to 10 while the number of reporting districts remained the same – two each in 2011 and 2012.

The number of districts reporting rape decreased in 2012 as compared to the preceding year. It was still the most widespread crime. As many as 186 rape cases were reported in 31 districts this year as compared to 163 in 32 districts in 2011. Lahore had the highest of 40 cases in 2012 while Faisalabad (28) was the top reporting district in 2011.

On the other hand, the cases and number of districts reporting forced marriages came down over the year. Despite a decrease from previous year, the number of cases filed for forced marriages was the highest among all the reported anti-women crimes. As many as 341 cases were reported in 27 districts in May this year.

Among regions, cases of forced marriages decreased in Punjab and Sindh. However, a significant increase of 66% was registered in ICT where 24 cases were reported in May 2012 as compared to last year’s nine. KP and Balochistan also observed an increase.

Statistics show that Lahore (134) recorded the highest numbers of anti-women offences in 2012, followed by Faisalabad (110) and Multan (105).

PDF version of FAFEN Report

Information provided by Jalal Khan

‘Yaka and these English World Wars’ by Yakhanda

Ancient Greek Ruins or Future National Bank?

Finance went football on Friday: German fans shouted: “Without Angie, you wouldn’t be here,” referring to multibillion-dollar bailouts. “We’ll never pay you back,” retorted Greek fans. “We’ll never pay you back.”

Last week, Yaka reminisced: the present Queen of England has reigned over English wars that have murdered 700 million people throughout their present and former ‘colonies’. Much of it during a time of European ‘peace’, and since it’s our blood being poured, we do not count among the slaughtered of their ‘World Wars.’

The ‘First World War’ or European Tribal War, 1914-18, which killed millions, is said to have begun in the boardrooms of the German Siemens and US General Electric Corporations as they fought to redivide the world’s markets. We are in for a rerun it seems.

The good news is that whenever such dinosaurs do mega-battle on each other, we are offered new opportunities to delink – extricate ourselves from their underdevelopment of our economies. History suggests such ‘World Wars’ have been ‘good’ for us, with our economies developing with less European diktat over us at such times. The bad news is of course that millions will be killed. We are not naif enough to believe this would be the war to end all wars, but let us hope such sacrifice is not in vain, and a new world, free of capitalism, will inevitably emerge.

Crying crisis
This so-called ‘economic crisis’ is another fraud perpetrated to maintain if not increase capitalist control over the economies of our countries. With production moving east to Asia, ‘wars’ are being spread to perpetuate their grip over us. Like fires fanned by swidden (hena) cultivators on ‘crown’ land, or by professional arsonists hoping to take over limited swathes of public real-estate in inner cities, these wars could however blaze into real revolutions, if they slip the manoeuvring of the devil’s apprentices who spark them.

The fiasco in Greece provides an unfolding blueprint. Used by Europeans as a poster-boy of civilization (pronounced ‘syphillization’) and democracy, Greece is being arm-twisted to override its parliament and elections, and hand over sovereignty to a few bankers based elsewhere. The battle, however, is not between Greeks and Germans, as portrayed by the media, but between German banks representing corporations like Siemens, Bayer, Deutsche Telekom, and Greece’s future.

It is no coincidence, that many of the bankers now in charge of the economies of Europe are linked to US investment banker Goldman Sachs. In 2001, just after Greece gained entry to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped their government noiselessly borrow billions. Hidden from public view the deal was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, and helped Athens meet Europe’s deficit rules. In return, Greece paid Goldman and other banks hundreds of millions of dollars to help hide huge Greece debts, presumably from their EU overseers.

Cooking growth rates
“Financial instruments” developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing not just in Greece, but Italy and elsewhere. Banks pumped cash upfront in return for future government payments, with such liabilities then left off the books. Greece paid Goldman about $300 million in fees for arranging a 2001 transaction, trading away its rights to airport fees, highways and lottery proceeds for years to come! Such Greek deals were named after mythological figures: the airport deal labeled Aeolos, after their god (or pimp) of the winds! The lottery deal was called Ariadne, goddess (or brothel madam) of labyrinths!

This revelation of the fixing of the Greek economy’s growth rate, etc., continued the battle between European and US banks and corporations. This news about Goldman’s bribery of European governments was revealed only after Germany’s Siemens was exposed by US authorities in December 2008. (Bribery was allowed by German law until just recently: US and English corporations of course do the same thing, using different euphemisms.) Siemens agreed to pay $ 800 million – the largest penalty ever paid for violating US foreign bribery law. It settled separately paying $ 800 million to German authorities, but the scandal also led to international bribery investigations.

Siemens’ bribing of various Greek governments from the late 1990s to 2007 was exposed, and cost taxpayers 2 billion euros. In January 2011, an investigation named 15 Greek politicians ‘greased’ by Siemens. In March 2012, Greece settled out-of-court: Siemens will write off 80 million euros in “unpaid arrears” owed by the Greek government, paying them 90 million, and spending 100 million in “new” investments in Greece. It will also “consider” 60 million euros in “future” investments.

Backdating futures
The New York Times reported: Wall Street’s economic schemes in Europe were “akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages” in the USA and had “worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece,” undermining “the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.” In dozens of deals across Europe, banks provided cash upfront in return for future government payments, with those liabilities unrecorded in the books. A Greek economist noted: “Politicians want to pass the ball forward, and if a banker can show them a way to pass a problem to the future, they will fall for it.” Greece now owes major banks $ 300 billion!

A 1996 derivative brought the Italian budget into line despite its high deficits, by “swapping currency with JPMorgan at a favorable exchange rate, effectively putting more money in the government’s hands.” In return, Italy promised future payments, again not recorded as liabilities. In 2000, European finance ministers “fiercely debated” whether derivative deals used for creative accounting should be disclosed, and decided not to.

In 2005, Goldman sold an interest-rate swap to the National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest bank. All such deals “were perfectly legal.” Few rules govern how nations borrow money: “The market for sovereign debt — the Wall Street term for loans to governments — is as unfettered as it is vast.” Ironically, Greece’s new finance minister, announced on Thursday, is Vassilis Rapanos, chairman of that National Bank of Greece! (By Saturday, he was already in hospital!)

The International Monetary Fund’s capital markets surveillance unit, which monitors “vulnerability in global capital markets,” claims they can do little. But it is the US-Treasury-controlled IMF – World Bank that first sets up the straitjacket on what become gospel for our economists: deregulation and privatization.

Like loansharks or drugpushers, they get you hooked and then squeeze you dry. If you refuse to pay, then wars in various forms are declared with corporate ‘free’ media leading the attack. Slander usually reserved for Black workers are already being flung on Europe’s once ‘civilized’ Greeks: lazy, profligate, unreliable, deceitful!

Surely, Yaka declaims, the world is sick of these English words and wars.


From The Nation, Sri Lanka.

Uddari Weblog: uddari@live.ca