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Archive for the ‘protest’ Category

Iran’s fearless female revolution

In protest, women's rights on April 26, 2010 at 3:26 am

When Americans hear the words “Iran” and “women” used the same sentence, images of long black veils and public floggings are probably what come to mind. But what western media does a poor job portraying is the quiet, but bold, feminist movement that is taking place in Iran.

For example, Americans would probably be surprised to learn automobile racing is a popular sport in Iran. They’d be even more shocked to discover one of the nation’s top competitors is a women.

Meet Iran’s Dana Kirkpatrick, Zohreh Zatankhah. Ms. Zatankhah is a nationally ranked racecar driver who has taken first in races against her male competitors. In all 40 of her last races, she has placed in the top three.

“When I started this job, the men would laugh at me, Zatankhah  said. “They aren’t laughing anymore.”

But sports isn’t the only male-dominated field Iranian women are making headway in. Tahmineh Milāni has been testing the limits of the her nation’s film industry for years. In 2001, she was arrested and jailed for her controversial film, “The Hidden Half.” Her most recent film, “Payback,” tells the story of a group of women who pose and prostitutes and then seek their vengeance on accepting men.

“A society that reduces women to mere sexual objects, would have to pay a very high price for it,”  Milāni said.

While Milāni’s and Zatankhah courage and accomplishments are more than impressive, it’s the activism of the granddaughter of the Islamic Revolutions’ leader that is most shocking. Zahra Eshraghi’s grandfather was none other than Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini is still revered by Iranians as the father of the 1979 Iranian revolution. His strict interpretation of Sharia law imposed on women is something his granddaughter is trying to reverse. And although she wears the traditional chador, Eshraghi has become famous for her recent campaign against requiring women to wear headscarves.

”I’m sorry to say that the chador was forced on women,” Eshraghi said of the long black garment. ”Forced — in government buildings, in the school my daughter attends. This garment that was traditional Iranian dress was turned into a symbol of revolution. People have lost their respect for it. I only wear it because of my family status.”

It’s been almost 100 years since the United States gave females the right to vote. Should American women ever grow complacent or forgetful of their revolutionary past, perhaps their sisters in Iran can offer inspiration.


Watch Iranian filmmaker Tahmineh Milāni talk about her latest controversial film, “Payback.”

Watch Matt Lauer’s report on Iranian female racecar driver, Zohreh Zatankhah.

Liberals ‘Losing Hope’

In protest, war and peace on April 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

“Obamas message of hope and change, so exciting a year ago, now rings hollow for those of us hoping he would usher in an era of peace.” — Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, CODEPINK

I was beginning to lose faith in the anti-war left and those that pride themselves progressive. But just as conservatives and libertarians became abhorred with George W. Bush’s and the neo-cons’ unique brand of conservatism, so it seems many on the left are beginning to see through Obama’s liberal facade.

Liberals are losing hope — and gaining insight.

In fact, is a website entirely dedicated to reviewing and criticizing the Obama administrations’ empty promise for “change” and pressuring the president to make good. It was created by the women of CODEPINK and boasts a list of liberal supporters.

The website’s homepage meets visitors with a letter addressed to the president titled Losing Hope, Taking Action. The letter asks Obama to “stand up to corporate interests” and bemoans the failed foreign policies of the previous administration being continued by the current:

“In 2008, I was one of millions united for hope and change. As 2010 dawns, change looks to me like more of the same.  Instead of peace, we got more war.  Instead of healthcare reform, we have an industry win that requires Americans to buy health insurance without any real cost controls.”

It’s encouraging to see those on the left waking up to the failed promise that is Barack Obama. Hopefully, they will not repeat the mistake of their conservative counterparts and forget the painful truth their own party has revealed to them.

What ever happened to the anti-war left?

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 31, 2010 at 1:45 am
When President George W. Bush spoke of spreading democracy to other nations during his second inaugural speech, liberals cringed. In 2005, many on the left realized what most on the right did not — that such rhetoric was nothing more than a thinly veiled declaration of an aggressive foreign policy. But that was 2005.
How I long for the liberals of those days: anti-war, noninterventionists, skeptical of their government.
Sadly, as libertarian author and editor Lawrence Samuels points out, most former anti-war liberals have abandoned their posts.
It was not long ago when almost every progressive leader and newspaper voiced harsh words for Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Samuels said. Now that Obama is in charge, that anti-war sentiment is changing. It appears that it is okay for a Democrat administration to engage in war, but not a Republican one.
Are libertarians the only consistent voice of anti-war opposition? What ever happened to the angry protesters, celebrities, and progressive media railing against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? Perhaps their moral convictions changed with the new administration.

Ron Paul: The anti-war left has just left (5:37).

The (destructive) power of patriotism

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Patriotism destroyed the No. 1 best-selling female band of all time. On March 23, 2003, Natalie Maines, lead singer of former country music darlings the Dixie Chicks, made the now infamous comments regarding President George W. Bush and the Iraq war:

Just so you know, were on the good side with yall. We do not want this war, this violence, and were ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.

Today, those words seem hardly offensive. But spring of 2003, less than two years since tragic events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, those words were traitorous.

Its hard to remember the patriotic fever that swept the nation. Americans, including myself, were overwhelmed with an extreme sense of pride and loyalty. Emotions ran so high, in fact, that we were willing to follow our commander-in-chief into not one, but two unlawful wars.

The world did not change on Sept. 11, 2001 but much has changed since that day. We now have a new president. Conflicts continue to increase — now in Yemen, Pakistan and possibly Iran.

Let us not forget the blinding emotion that got us here.

Students protest tuition hikes across nation, in Missouri all is well?

In protest on March 5, 2010 at 2:58 am

Yesterday, students in more than 30 states protested budget cuts and tuition hikes at their universities. But at Missouri Southern, all was quiet. Perhaps its because students at Southern were lucky enough to receive a Board-of-Governors-approved tuition freeze back in November.

I feel for the students at Berkley and other public universities in California who were recently burdened with a 32 percent state-approved tuition increase. But I sometimes wonder if schools like Missouri Southern are sacrificing content for cost.

While its true Southerns tuition is among the cheapest in the nation, its quality of higher education leaves something to be desired. At the alter of affordability, the University has sacrificed the International Mission and cut the mens soccer team. Freezes on hiring and wages has done little to bring in quality professors and will probably cause some to leave. 

The problem is my generation feels entitled to cheap education. Weve become less concerned about actually learning and  more concerned about how much money well make upon graduating. Its as if the entire learning process has been flipped on its head.

It would be wonderful if everybody in America had access to affordable ivy-league education. But until we address the root causes of rising education costs, freezing tuition will only make matters worse. While Im thrilled to pay less than $3,000 per semester to attend Southern, Id readily take out some student loans for improvements in my University.

Digital ‘strip searching’ at airports?

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, protest on February 16, 2010 at 3:16 am


A millimeter scanner

When I flew home for Christmas break on Dec. 19, I wasnt aware of the controversial body scanners TSA was beginning to employ. But after the failed attempt by the now notorious Christmas bomber, I realized my digital figure, minus boots, sweater and pants, had already been viewed by TSA agents.

Tulsa International Airport is among the 19 U.S. airports TSA has selected to use the full-body scanners. The scanners, like Supermans x-ray vision, produce digital images of a persons naked figure. While the renderings arent exactly pornographic, privacy advocates and civil rights groups have raised strong objection to the scanners.

Originally, TSA claimed the machines would only be used on persons requiring extra screening. Instead of a full-body pat down, passengers in question would be subjected to a 2-and-a-half second scan. However, as was the case at Tulsa, airports are instead using the machines for all passengers boarding. Unlike Londons Heathrow airport, passengers in the United States can opt for a full-body pat down.

There are two different types of the body scanners being used. The backscatter uses x-rays to scan and produce a realistic 2 dimensional image. The somewhat less-revealing millimeter scanner I was subjected to at Tulsa, uses terahertz waves to produce a 3D image. The latter appears to be the more widely used.

However, there are serious health concerns over the use of the millimeter scanner and terahertz waves. Terahertz waves lie on the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwaves. An article in Technology Review says radiation from these waves could cause DNA strands to tear apart and interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.

Privacy and health concerns have caused European Union President Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba to resist U.S. pressure to implement the scanners. He said a commission will first conduct studies to make sure the machines “are effective, do not harm health, and do not violate privacy.”

Hopefully, the United States will take note and similar precaution.

image produced by a millimeter scanner

image produced by a backscatter

Watch: Germanys Pirate Party members protest the use of airport body scanners in their underwear

Activist’s death loss for ‘the people’

In foreign policy, liberty and rights, protest, war and peace on February 1, 2010 at 5:05 am

“The power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it and at certain points in history they have used it,” — Howard Zinn.

Howard Zinn is a name I’d never heard until a few weeks ago. I discovered Zinn and his work while home for Christmas break at my parents’ house watching Bill Moyers. Impressed with the aging activist and feeling like somewhat of an intellectual for watching Bill Moyers, I jotted down Zinn’s name and the title of his bestseller, “A Peoples’ History of the United States.”

I wasn’t until yesterday while searching YouTube for interviews of Zinn that I learned of his death on Wednesday.

Perhaps many people knew who Howard Zinn was. I had never heard of the man until recently. I suppose I feel sad I did not learn of him sooner.

What impressed me about Zinn was his philosophical transformation. As a young fighter pilot serving in World War II, he was responsible for dropping napalm on a village in France — a task that changed him forever.

Later, Zinn became one of the leading voices of opposition against the Vietnam War. He was also an author, playwright, historian, speaker and teacher. Most importantly, Zinn became a voice of hope and empowerment for all people.

One man’s terrorist another man’s animal rights activist?

In liberty and rights, protest on December 6, 2009 at 12:46 am

What sort of imagery comes to mind when you think of PETA? Angry activists, nude models or perhaps animals in cages? If you’re the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the word terrorism might come to mind. reported on Wednesday that a new form released by the USDA labels the organization a terrorist threat. The Web site provides a link to a PDF of the form but the link is no longer valid. However, if you enter “PETA terrorist” in the search box on the USDA’s homepage, the first result will link you to the same “no-longer-available” page. And under the search result is a brief description of the form — proving the form does, in fact, exist.

According to, the form is provided to animal experimentation facilities. It appears to be a sort of survey, asking the facilities what kind of terrorist activities have occurred in or around their premises.

Here is an excerpt from the form.

B. Terrorist Threat. What terrorist activities have occurred in or around your building/facility in the past 5 years (documented cases)? Please check all that apply.

[ ] Attack from international terrorists
[ ] Attack from domestic special interest terrorists
-[ ] Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
-[ ] Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
-[ ] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
-[ ] Animal Defense League (ADL)
-[ ] Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)
-[ ] Formal hate group(s) (please specify):
-[ ] Other (please specify): ____________________
[ ] Cyber Attack from a known or unknown source.

Notice that PETA, a non-violent animal rights organization, is listed along with violent animal rights organizations such as ELF which have committed known acts of terrorism.

PETA has not been convicted of terrorist activity although it has admitted to contributing to organizations such as the Earth Liberation Front and convicted eco-terrorists such as Rodney Adam Coronado. And, in the government’s opinion, aiding terrorists makes you a terrorist.

The Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

However, the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism is more far-reaching:

“Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

And the PATRIOT ACT amended the U.S. Code to redefine terrorism as including providing material support to terrorists/terrorist organizations and financing of terrorism.

Likewise, the Military Commissions Act of 2009 gives the U.S. President the power to declare a person an “unprivileged enemy combatant” who “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Federal law makes it clear the government considers supporting terrorism a terrorist activity. Therefore, one can logically conclude that PETA is a terrorist organization since they have financially supported known terrorists/terrorist organizations.

But such a definition of a what constitutes a terrorist is far too broad — and, it is dangerous. The federal government’s definitions of domestic terrorism, unprivileged enemy combatants and terrorist activity are slippery. When combined they are broad enough to include an array of activities. PETA may not be the most sane organization but it is not a terrorist threat.


Related links:

The U.S. Department of Defense labels protest as “low-level terrorism activity.”

Missouri Information Analysis Center report links Ron Paul supporters with militia members/domestic terrorists.

Ladies of liberty increasing in numbers

In liberty and rights, protest, women's rights on November 10, 2009 at 2:24 am

Ultimately, the most feminist thing that can ever be, is a truly independent women. Free mind, free body free spirited.Angela Keaton,

The Republicans have Sarah Palin and the Democrats have Hillary Clinton. But within the liberty movement, a much younger, brighter feminism is growing.

These young women are not content to simply support Ron Paul or follow the lead of their male counterparts. They are grabbing the reigns and directing the pro-freedom spirit spreading throughout their country. They are organizing, educating and protesting all for the sake of liberty.

The Ladies of Liberty Alliance, otherwise known as LOLA, is one such organization. According to its Web site, LOLA’s goal is to “build a community of liberty-minded women who are empowered to achieve their individual goals in the fight for freedom.”

However, LOLA is not a politically driven organization as mush as it is an educational and philosophical one:

“The opportunity to influence the leaders of today and tomorrow is ours. We intend to take it. Note that our goal is not to create ‘politicians.’ We have no desire to lead men in chains or to empower others to do so. The force of reason and an appeal to morality is what we seek to bolster. And we will.”

The majority of LOLA’s 400 plus members appear to be young, educated feminists (men are also allowed to join). Many of them are entrepreneurs with pro-liberty organizations/businesses of their own.

One such example is member Catherine Bleish. Bleish is the co-founder and executive director for the Missouri-based Liberty Restoration Project — an organization whose main focus has been fighting the Federal Reserve system. Bleish was also the Kansas City area grassroots leader for the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign and the communications director for the Revolution March.

Another prominent member is creator of ByteStyle TV Shelly Roche. Roche has been a guest on both FOX News “Freedom Watch” and on Russia Today. ByteStyle TV was originally intended to be a podcast but Bleish has grown it into a multimedia blog, covering everything from politics to food issues.

Another semi-famous lady of liberty is the singer/songwriter Aimee Allen. Allen’s dance song “Cooties” contributed to the soundtrack of the 2007 film Hair Spray and her single “Revolution” appeared in the soundtrack of the film Storm and was the theme for the WB Television Network series Birds of Prey.

Allen is perhaps most well known for writing the “The Ron Paul Revolution Theme Song” otherwise known as the “Ron Paul anthem.” On Sept. 2, 2008, she performed the song in front of a 12,000-plus crowd at Ron Paul’s sold-out Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis.

The above are just a few examples of how the other half is taking over the liberty movement. OK, so maybe women aren’t “taking over” the liberty movement, but their numbers are definitely growing.

As is the case all across the political spectrum, women tend to be underrepresented among the pro-libertarians. According to Bonnie Kristian with the Leadership Institute, the ratio of men to women in the liberty movement is about 25 to 1, “and that’s on a good day.”

It’s exciting to see organizations like LOLA altering that ratio. My dream is not  for women to take control of the movement but to work side by side with men in advancing its cause.

Former Marine, diplomat resigns protesting Afghan war

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on November 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm

As a statement of protest, a former Marine captain has resigned from his position as a diplomat in one of the Taliban’s strongholds in Afghanistan. Last week, Matthew Hoh made headlines when he announced his resignation from his position as a diplomat in Afghanistan.

Hoh explained that his resignation was based “not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”

In Hoh’s assessment, U.S. presence in Afghanistan is counterproductive.

“Occupying a location only provides justification and only lends credence to the goals of that organization,” Hoh said. “It only inspires young Muslim men to want to defend their culture against an occupying army, which is what we are.”

While one might to tempted to paint Hoh as just another anti-war advocate, nothing could be further from the truth. In his owns words, Hoh denounces the idea that he is “peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love.” Hoh, who also served in Iraq, described his time in the province of Zabul as “the second best job I’ve ever had.”

Speaking of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Hoh said:

“There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed. I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys.”

Not exactly the words of the next Mother Teresa.

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria of Global Public Square, Hoh described the strong reaction to his resignation as “a bit overwhelming” and said he thought he would “get one or two days of attention.”

Hoh credited two communities as having convinced him to stay in the debate this past week. The first community being Afghan Americans and the second being active-duty military men and women.

Hoh said he’s received “many, many e-mails” from active-duty military persons saying:

“ ‘Matt, thanks for doing this, keep it up. We don’t know why we’re here. We’re not sure why we’re taking these causalities, we don’t know what it’s accomplishing.’ ”

Hoh’s September 10 resignation letter can be viewed here.