Items

posted by Mike on July 6th, 2005

Weekly items, old and new:

    Oh, Canada!

  • A belated happy Canada Day and Independence Day to all. Pie and Coffee contributor Kaihsu Tai‘s photo of a stop sign in English and Inuktituk is part of Wikipedia’s Nunavut Highways entry. (Kaihsu, like Talking Heads, has been on the Road to Nowhere.)
  • Claire Schaeffer-Duffy comments on Worcester’s anti-poor attitude in National Catholic Reporter. “The gist of the debate seems to be we must hide the poor because their presence diminishes the community. My experience at the Catholic Worker has proved quite the opposite.”
  • In a letter, Karen House Catholic Worker of St. Louis, Mo., writes:

    Our big news, of course, is that in the fall we purchased Karen House and the adjoining Church building from the Archdiocese . . . . Currently, the Church is being rented out, and we are placing the Karen House building into a property trust. So we own our building now!

  • Mike True recommends this article about the draft by Frida Berrigan, and Johan Galtung’s testimony from the recently-concluded World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul. “Criminal acts have to be planned in secret . . . by small gangs with cojones, in Bush’s words. They do not benefit from the dialogue of open agreements openly arrived at in an open society, also known as a democracy. Democracy’s traitors easily become its fools.”
  • The most entertaining essay title I’ve seen in a while is Anthony Mansueto’s Why the New Pope Isn’t Catholic–and Why I Still Am. The gist, as I gather it: the last two popes have been crypto-Protestants. Somehow, I remain sceptical.
  • “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is coming to the Worcester Public Library July 27. Is this the film’s squarest venue ever? (One old Worcesterite tells me that “The last time they showed it at the Palladium, the audience caused $10,000 worth of damage.”)
  • Worcester Magazine continues its profiles of local activists with a piece on Cha-cha Connor. Also: Doug Chapel proposes a better use of the city’s promotional budget–fund “dedicated, driven, obsessed creative types to really focus on creating events to draw people to Worcester!”
Published in: Items | on July 6th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On July 7, 2005 at 11:15 Adam Villani said:

    I was wondering what your opinion was on the G-8 summit, debt relief, and the whole Live8 thing? How can the continent get itself some better governments that don’t squander what little wealth those countries have?

    I thought those Live8 concerts were one of the more interesting large-scale protests I’ve seen. They weren’t asking for money, they were just using it to educate and to speak out, and in that sense I think they succeeded wonderfully. Also, they’ve managed to figure out how to protest in a positive way that doesn’t just piss off the people they’re trying to influence. The questions, then, are “will this succeed in influencing world leaders?” and “If there is debt relief, is that truly the key to turning Africa away from poverty?” Also, that’s pretty remarkable that they got Roger Waters back with Pink Floyd. I wonder how long-lasting the reconciliation will be.

    And also, my condolences to the Londoners who endured a series of terrorist attacks this morning.

  2. On July 18, 2005 at 13:50 Mike (Worcester) said:

    Well, I’m not an Africa policy guy, so I can’t give a real critique of the steps that should be taken. I would tend to be cynical about the G-8. But those at the G-8 meeting have power that the rest of us don’t, and we can’t afford to be so cynical that we give up on them.

    I don’t know if debt relief is the thing to help Africa, but as an American I know that doing more to help the poor abroad will be good for the soul of my country.

    “Effectiveness” is something I think about a lot. If you’re Bob Geldof or Bono, and you already donate money to good causes and petition your representatives, what more can you do to help those in need?

    On a local level, it’s easier to be effective. For example, a couple weeks ago there was a public demonstration against Worcester’s “Action Plan” on panhandling, and it was an effective thing. It spread the fact that “there’s dissent on this issue.” (The paper has run front-page stories about panhanding and homelessness since then, including the dissenting voices.)

    Activists are taking other, concrete steps to steer the city in a more poor-friendly direction. The role of this demo was to give a “public face” to the opposition and to stimulate conversations between like-minded people who might not have talked otherwise.

    On larger issues, it’s tougher to be effective. I know folks who worked for years to encourage Raytheon to get out of the weapons business, vigiling at the local plant once a week and trying to educate the workers that they were working on weapons systems which kill people. Raytheon’s still making weapons, and the vigils continue. But maybe once a year my friends will meet someone who says, “I used to work at that Raytheon plant, and those guys with signs got me thinking, and eventually I resigned and got work somewhere else that squared with my conscience.” So even if those demos didn’t influence Raytheon a great deal, they helped individual Raytheon workers attain “right livelihood.”

    Next month I’ll be fasting against the Darfur genocide at the Sudanese embassy in DC. This is an issue even more out of my hands than Raytheon’s policies. There is only a remote chance that this demo will affect US policy, maybe if the child of someone in the State Department drives by and is touched by these starving Americans and says to mom or dad over dinner, “Why isn’t the US putting sanctions on Sudan?” and guilts mom or dad into crusading on this issue. Maybe this demo will be a tiny piece of the worldwide campaign that brings this genocide to a halt. Unless something happens in a hurry, though, hundreds of thousands more will die and the genocide will have succeeded by the time anyone in power takes it seriously.

    Gandhi wrote:

    This fast is not a show but a sincere prayer to the Almighty that we may receive proper strength and proper wisdom in going through these struggles.

    Why am I spending four days praying and fasting when I could use that time working for Darfur in a more concrete way? Because I can use all the strength and wisdom I can get.

    Gandhi also wrote:

    My fast is a matter between God and myself.

    Plus, I won’t have to listen to Pink Floyd or Coldplay. Which for me is a bonus.

  3. On July 20, 2005 at 10:28 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    Here is the Make Poverty History campaign’s response to the G8 communiqué: http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/response.shtml

  4. On July 20, 2005 at 10:48 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    This is a good analysis:
    Rachel Shabi, The war on dissent
    Saturday July 2, 2005, Guardian.

    I noticed that the G8 members were pretty much the same as the ones that put out the Boxer Rebellion in the very early years of the 20th century: sans Austria, plus Canada. Things have not changed very much over the past 100 years.

  5. On July 21, 2005 at 15:22 Adam Villani said:

    I think it’s hypocritical that in all this talk about free trade, they’re not willing to do away with protectionist tariffs that prevent exports from the Third World from competing with those from the West.

    And I know that even on the personal level, it’s hard to get anything at all worthwhile done when you’re in debt. So debt relief has got to be good that way.

    But even if the G8 countries did everything asked of them, there’d still be kleptocratic tyrants like Robert Mugabe or the king of Swaziland in power. I wonder what people could do to demand responsible leadership in Africa.

  6. On August 5, 2005 at 04:08 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    Canada just became even cooler than a week ago: Michaëlle Jean will be the next Governor-General of Canada. Better than George W. Bush.

  7. On January 6, 2006 at 16:08 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    Here is a full-circle panorama of our eminent editor on the Road to Nowhere, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.

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