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Sunday Reads: Lame Duck, Duck, Goose!

Lame Duck? or Lame Goose?

Lame Duck, Duck, Goose... (Photo:A.Kutzik)

(Cross posted at Sky Dancing.)

Good Sunday Morning!

Minx here with my first Sunday Reads on the little blog that could, so without further ado…here we go!

There is an interesting piece in the Guardian regarding:
Bibi Aisha, victim of the Taliban’s political strategy | World news | The Observer

In 1985, at the height of the Soviet suppression of Afghanistan, National Geographic ran a cover photograph of a stunning Afghan girl. She had no name, but her haunted, mesmerising green eyes and her dramatic features framed by a crimson head shawl, seemed to capture a story of suffering, lost innocence and unrealised potential that went far deeper than the experience of just one girl.

Twenty five years later, Time magazine ran a cover of another beautiful Afghan girl. She too had captivating eyes – brown, not green – lustrous black hair and a striking expression. However, what gave the photograph its narrative and political power was something that was missing from her attractive physiognomy: her nose.

I distinctly remember that 1985 cover of National Geographic, as I am sure most of you do. This article by Andrew Anthony touches on the subject of what will happen to the women of Afghanistan, if the military and NATO forces leave. It is something to ponder…if you are against the War and you are a woman.  It is true that the foreign, US and NATO troops have helped to relieve some of the Taliban rule and forced oppression that these poor women face each day. As Anthony points out:

In an obvious sense Aisha’s story conforms to a traditional feminist reading of the struggle of women against patriarchal society. Consigned to the status of a domestic slave, she rebelled and felt the brutal force of male-dominated tribal society. And there is no doubt that this is the context in which this vicious crime against a teenage girl took place.

However, it’s not the only context, and for many critics of the Time cover, it’s not the most significant context. Because, of course, Afghanistan plays host to tens of thousands of foreign troops, most of them American, and as such any efforts to remove the troops are seen by critics of the occupation as all part of a legitimate anti-imperialist cause. From this perspective, to put it crudely, national liberation always trumps female emancipation.

Thus, for those who wished the Nato troops to remain, the photo of Aisha acted as a symbol of what they were fighting against, and for those who wanted to see them withdrawn, it was a piece of emotional propaganda or “war porn”.

There are many readers of this blog, who want to see all the military withdrawn from Afghanistan, so I put this to you…what are your thoughts on the matter. Does the possibly, and believe me the possibility is great… that if all the troops withdrew, would there be some sort of retaliation from the Taliban against their women?

There are indeed several achievements that cannot be easily disregarded. Under the Taliban girls were not allowed to go to school after the age of eight. Now there are more girls attending school in Afghanistan than at any time in its history. Under the Taliban, women’s voices were banned from radio (TV was completely forbidden) and now they take up a leading role in the broadcast media. Before, sports were off-limits to women, now there are female athletes competing in international events. Adultery was punishable by being stoned to death, and women were beaten on the street for anything short of total enshrouding. Now, while the informal dress code remains restrictive, 25% of parliamentary seats are allocated to women.

The picture is far from perfect, and there are powerful forces within a weak and corrupt government that still wish to turn back the clock. There is currently an attempt under way to close down women’s refuges because religious conservatives, without any evidence, have accused them of operating as brothels.

WAW has five women’s refuges throughout the country – and plans to open three more – as well as five family centres where men, who may be a threat to their wives, can receive counselling. And it is also active in seeking protection and compensation through the courts. Hyneman believes that if the Taliban regains control not only will all these benefits be lost, but there will also be a bloodbath against women.

“The fundamental problem,” she says, “is that the Taliban’s subjugation of women is a political strategy. Get 50% of the population on its knees and you can control the country. It’s also their military strategy. They’re the ones who are using women for military and political gain.”

Well, what do you think? Does the “war porn” propaganda affect your sensibilities? I must admit it cause me to pause and think about what would happen to our Afghani Sisters if we did withdraw completely. Personally, I am torn about the Wars we are currently fighting. I feel that we should defend ourselves from the terrorism that is targeted our way…but I question what we are doing over there as well. I support our troops, I support their families, and as a woman, I support other women who are forced into the kind of subjugation and abuse that these Afghani women face.  A Woman’s Right to live a life free from enslavement and fear and abuse is an existential Human Right. Does that in part justify our presence over there in Afghanistan? Hmmm…let’s hear your thoughts on that.

Do you all remember when Hillary Clinton brought up that issue about the U.S. debt being a national security concern? Well, one of the cables from the DoS Wikileaks reiterates Hillary’s “consternation” about the position our deficit places on the U.S. regarding those who hold the note, mainly China.

WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton’s question: how can we stand up to Beijing? | World news | The Observer

Hillary Clinton revealed America’s deep anxiety over China’s growing economic power and hold on US finances by asking Australia’s then prime minister: “How do you deal toughly with your banker?”

The question, at a lunch with Kevin Rudd last March and reported in a US Department of State cable, underscores the evolving and often difficult relationship between the world’s superpower and an increasingly mighty China. It is the largest holder of US treasury bonds, with around $870bn. Tensions are also highlighted in an economic dispatch, written by the US ambassador to Beijing last January, warning of a “rough” year for relations between the two countries and accusing China of hubris.

This cable is from March 2009, Hillary made that statement in February of 2010.   I think this is particularly grating on Hillary because of the surplus Bill handed over to Bush back in the day. Reading this article from January 2001 makes me think in just 10 years, just how much has changed. Ugh…

Dak already touched on this last night, but I thought I would just post it on the front page. This lame duck session has brought on it’s share of theatrical drama. And with the latest word from the White House, the drama continues.

Obama Says Tax Cut Extension Must Include Jobless Benefits, Credit Plans – Bloomberg

President Barack Obama issued his first demands in negotiations to sustain Bush-era tax cuts, saying any legislation must also extend federal jobless aid and his own soon-to-expire tax policies.

An administration official said Obama told Democratic leaders in Congress he’d reject even a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts if the legislation doesn’t include his own policies, which include the “Making Work Pay” tax credit that adds up to $800 per year in a married couple’s paycheck. Obama also wants more generous credits for the working poor, college students and adoptive parents enacted in 2009 to be renewed.

The ultimatum ratchets up the stakes as negotiators race the calendar before the tax cuts expire; the jobless aid expired Nov. 30 and the Bush tax-cuts expire Dec. 31. Obama’s demands also would add about $150 billion in cost to the bill, all of which would be financed by deficits. Allowing his own tax cuts to expire, the official said Obama told lawmakers, would result in a tax increase on 95 percent of Americans.

Obama made his demand after the U.S. Congress failed to advance legislation that would renew the Bush-era policies only for American individuals who earn less than $200,000 and couples who make under $250,000, thresholds Obama set as a campaign promise. The Senate rejected legislation with that cap today as well as another measure with a $1 million threshold.

Do you all think Obama grew balls during the night? I would like to think so, but his threatening posture seems unnatural. I will believe it when I see it.

From the “Minx Missing Links File”

With all the breaking news during the week, some items of interest get lost in the shuffle of writing the daily news postings. So every Sunday I am going to post a link to something important that we may have missed during the week.

This week was the 55 year anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks, for not giving up her seat to a white guy.  So I’ve listed a few links about that day and events that followed:

It wasn’t just Rosa Parks 55 years ago  | ajc.com:

Before Parks made her stand, two other black women had done the same thing earlier that year.

Rosa Parks, Boycott Marked 55 Years Later – CBS News:

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks, who died in 2005, sparked the famous Montgomery bus boycott led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when she defied the Jim Crow law that required black passengers to move to the back of public buses to accommodate whites.

Rosa Parks, civil rights icon, hailed by Obama | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times:

Rosa Parks and the many other leaders and foot soldiers in that struggle for justice championed our founding principles of freedom and equality for all, and today, as we commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I encourage all Americans to honor their legacy – the legacy of Americans who marched bravely, worked tirelessly, and devoted their lives to the never-ending task of making our country a more perfect union.

In my way of thinking, during the first Civil War, which next year will celebrate its 150th Anniversary… see National Park Service The American Civil War Homepage,  Lincoln gave us the Emancipation Proclamation. But it took another kind of Civil War…that of the Civil Rights Movement…to actually get the Proclamation enacted.  Now, 55 years later, we have a black man in the White House. Whatever you think of Obama, this in itself is a great thing. How long do you think it will be until we get a woman in the White House as President? If the preliminaries and the entire 2008 Presidential Campaign is any indication, I don’t think it will be anytime in my lifetime…which is pathetic.

“Easy like Sunday Morning…” Link of the Week:

I’ll end this post with my last link on the Sunday Reads, which will always be an intriguing Artsy-Fartsy topic, book or movie review.

The New York Times Book Review has come out with their holiday issue. Books – Sunday Book Review – The New York Times I love this issue, because it’s a review of the year’s reads.  I will pick one of the 100 Notables that I find real interesting. Since I am reading about Peter Lorre and his flight from the Nazis I seem drawn to this one: ‘The Death of the Adversary’ and ‘Comedy in a Minor Key’ by Hans Keilson – NYTimes.com

For busy, harried or distractible readers who have the time and energy only to skim the opening paragraph of a review, I’ll say this as quickly and clearly as possible: “The Death of the Adversary” and “Comedy in a Minor Key” are masterpieces, and Hans Keilson is a genius.

First published in the Netherlands in 1947, “Comedy in a Minor Key” is only now appearing in English, in an eloquent translation by Damion Searls. “The Death of the Adversary” (skillfully translated by Ivo Jarosy) appeared here in 1962, but has long been out of print. Born in 1909, their author, the centenarian Keilson, lives with his wife in a village near Amsterdam where until recently he practiced medicine, a profession he followed in his native Germany until the Nuremberg laws forced him to flee to the Netherlands. There he was active in the Dutch resistance and later became known for his work with children traumatized by the war.

Although the novels are quite different, both are set in Nazi-occupied Europe and display their author’s eye for perfectly illustrative yet wholly unexpected incident and detail, as well as his talent for story­telling and his extraordinarily subtle and penetrating understanding of human nature. But perhaps the most distinctive aspect they share is the formal daring of the relationship between subject matter and tone. Rarely has a finer, more closely focused lens been used to study such a broad and brutal panorama, mimetically conveying a failure to come to grips with reality by refusing to call that reality by its proper name.

So, what have you all been reading today? Lay it on me…

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Filed under: Absorbing Cock and Bull, SD Reads File Cabinet

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