#UnscrewedNews

Women's Bodies Are Citizens' Bodies

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It was six degrees outside, but about 1000 bundled-up citizens, women and men, many in pink pussy hats, turned out for the third Women’s March on Jan. 19, 2019 in Montpelier, Vermont. The signs they carried showed no evidence that women are resigned to being quiet about a Presidential pussy-grabber. The opposite!

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The group pictured above, draped in American flags (oops, one slipped!) are part of a campaign called #GrabThemByTheBallot, anticipating 2020. They could hardly be ignored!

Other speakers included MacKenzie Murdoch, a youth activist and host for the event, who shared a poem she wrote about her rape on a Vermont campus and its investigation. She reported one of every three women experiences sexual violence of some kind, the reason for #MeToo.

Women’s bodies were also the centerpiece of Vermont’s Nutty Steph’s efforts. The chocolatier brought a basket of specially made chocolate vulvas, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, and they stood by a huge fabric vulva, inviting attendees to step through and be reborn as they entered the public space.

Former Bennington Representative Kiah Morris, who in the face of racial threats resigned her position to much national attention, urged attendants to do the real work of “peaceful revolution,” avoiding “narrow identity thinking.”

A theme that threaded through all the speakers’ exhortations, cheered by women and men, was the broad inclusion in government policies of all of us born of women, and living on our Mother Earth—especially in the face of dramatic changes, including racial, gendered and environmental ones.

Divisions had emerged nationally this month, with one organizer citing Louis Farrakhan as a GOAT (Greatest of All Time), and some important organizations, including Planned Parenthood, stepping back from national sponsorship as a result. But the Vermont organizers set up their own Vermont website to declare their principles of nonviolent resistance and inclusion.

The spirit of the event was capped by Patty Casey’s song, whose chorus, sung by all the crowd, really should become a movement hymn:

“We are better than that, we are kinder than that; we are going forward and we’re not going back.”  Yes, even when it’s freezing cold and a huge snow storm is on the way!

One image opposite is an amazing quilt made of tiny pieces of fabric! (quilt photo and #GrabThemByThe Ballot photo by Meg Kuhner)

What's that you say, Mr. Wall Street Banker?

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I’m feeling more hopeful today despite bizarro-freak news that does not appear to be fake, only stupid. The great white hope, our president, is possibly a Putin “asset,” which in economic terms means he is owned. In today’s politics the thing that makes this sleazy is the alleged owner is a foreign billionaire, not an American one.

 So why am I hopeful? Business Insider has focused on the House committee assignment of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the woman who yesterday walked to the Senate to hand-deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging him to bring bills he’s sitting on to the Senate floor for a vote. Why isn’t the Senate doing its job, and keeping government open? And who passed a law that says “essential” government workers must work for no pay?

 It’s rare for a House member to do such a bold thing. But no, that’s not the best news. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has placed this daring woman on the elite House Committee on Financial Services. Years ago, it used to be called the banking committee, and traditionally sat only elite white guy “assets,” who had rich white guy owners on Wall Street. It’s no wonder the media focuses on Ocasio-Cortez—she’s so fearless and beautiful. But the news is better than that.

 Rep. Maxine Waters is chair of that committee now. She’s served her time and learned the Wall Street players; she’s the first woman chair, and the first African American. I counted the sixteen members of the committee she just announced and found other formidable newcomers like Rep. Rashida Tiabi of Michigan, and tough veterans like Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. All told they’re a majority female, another first.

 There are 540 mostly-male billionaires in the US and nearly 15 million millionaires, half of them multi-millionaires. The rest of us tend to come up short because the American political system for the past 40 years has enabled 1 percent of our population to hoard 40 percent of our national wealth and its assets, and the top 20 percent, fully 90 percent. That’ll buy a lot of politicians.

 That means the rest of us have to split the remaining 10 percent of our wealth. Picture it this way: Jeff Bezos gets 40 front row seats in a 100-seat theater for the “show” of our American life. His slightly less rich friend reserves 50 more seats for himself and his 9 guy friends. As a result, 80 people like you and me will have to share the remaining ten seats. The median chair-reservation is about $60,000 a year in income, enough for one butt-cheek. But the bottom 20 of us own nothing but debt. Go sit in that hole in the floor.

 About 49 million people in 19 million households are now below the poverty line, in the hole, on average with around $18,000 a year per household. A bunch of these are women and children. But when women no longer are tokens, they’re harder to silence. The new House Financial Services Committee might just put their pretty little heads together to call out billionaire owners of political assets—and make some real change in who gets a decent seat.

 —Rickey Gard Diamond

This Holiday, Help Yourself to Some Hope for a Change!

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who surprised all the old Dems by getting elected in the first place, is now shaking up Congressional hallowed halls by presenting a Green New Deal. Today, Axios, HuffPo and Earther are all talking about a survey just taken that shows a wide bipartisan range of people reporting positive feelings about this. Sounds good!

 However, media guys point out, few people know that much about it. Well, that’s because what she’s proposed is a select committee to hold hearings, to listen to experts, and to draw up a huge plan. The goal? To move quickly with a 10-year action plan, begun Jan. 1, 2020, to lead the world with green technology, and decarbonize.  

Holy smokes. That’s ambitious. It’s a lot like Canada’s recent move toward the Great Leap Manifesto, led by Naomi Klein!

Such a Green New Deal will need an inspiring and confident leader in the White House to bring it about, someone good at cooperation and collaboration, and with a vision. Someone who wants to wage economic life, not economic war. Sounds womanly, yes? Probably we’ll need new leaders in the Senate too, with some of those same emergency collaborative urges.

One of the things we most love about Alexandria’s plan is its double emphasis. She sees that this would not only address dangerous climate disruption, but also spread wider prosperity. She intends for it to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional, and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth.” This means ensuring that “federal and other investment will be equitably distributed….” And she insists the historically impoverished, marginalized, and deindustrialized communities be included. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already at work, jumping into Washington’s swamp with real ideas!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already at work, jumping into Washington’s swamp with real ideas!

How long since you’ve heard an inclusive, smiling vision like this one? So here’s the first step: Make sure the select committee is well populated by women, and the men who love and listen to us, not the men who abuse us!  Then, let women write and call their representatives to get behind the most exciting leader we’ve seen in a long time!

 

News You May Have Missed - October 2018

WOMEN+

John Tully for The New York Times

John Tully for The New York Times

Women Don’t Think Alike. Why Do We Think They Do?
But women don’t automatically ally with other women, as Senator Susan Collins’s vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court demonstrated. Sisterhood doesn’t override partisanship or deeply held moral views. Victims of sexual harassment didn’t all believe Christine Blasey Ford. Women don’t act as one.”

Meteorologist wore her 1-year-old baby on her back during live Weathercast
This one is fun! A mom made international news after wearing her baby to work in support of International Babywearing Week 2018. Employers, take note!

Black Female Lawmaker in Vermont Resigns After Racial Harassment
Kia Morris served as the Bennington Representative to the Vermont Vermont House of Representatives. In August 2018, she ended her re-election bid because of “what she described as a years long campaign of racially motivated harassment and threats”.

Economy+

Putting the family in economics
An academic read from Canada about the growing field of Family Economics.
”Family economics explores how families juggle financial and time trade-offs, and how their choices lead to outcomes related to such things as fertility, work, migration, raising children, spending government grants, and the health and welfare of subsequent generations.”

It's time to speak about the economic cost of sexual assault
I recently did a straw poll of the women in my life and realized that I know more survivors of sexual assault than I do mothers…” If that doesn’t make you want to read this article, we’re not sure what will.

Homelessness in New York Public Schools Is at a Record High: 114,659 Students
New York City has one of the highest populations of homeless students in the United States. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 students in New York will sleep at shelters or at the home of a friend of relative because they are homeless.

We are better than this, aren’t we?

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Nutty gun violence before elections feels un-American to me, but then sometimes I wonder. Am I just old-fashioned?? I’m stunned and disgusted by the overall tone of Presidential responses to old-white-guy fans with pipe bombs and AR-15s, but I can’t say I’m happy with our media’s obsession with his tweets either.

Yes, the press is NOT the enemy of the people, and some of “the people” is all journalists are, as easily murdered as politicians or you and me. Still I have noticed that CNN’s voice for their ads on upcoming coverage of mid-term elections does sound like the same scary guy who dared us to watch Hulk Hogan wrestle, or Evil Knievel jump trucks in Las Vegas. Really?

About now I’d like to hear more from the Sisters of Mercy, the Universalist Church choir, and from sensible lesbians and mothers and witches tired to death of all this schmuckery. They’re pro-active; they’d say: Finish your dinner. Take a nap. Play some ball with the kids. Grow up. It’s your turn to take out the trash.

Be a mensch, in other words, which only means: try to be a good human being. Help your brother. Help your sister. Love your neighbor. Yeah, the same one that irritates you. The one who votes the wrong way, and watches the wrong media. The one who mocks snowflakes. Suck helium, and then tell me, tough guy—and joke all you want. Laughter keeps you breathing.

 But if he endangers you, if he’s talking smack and threatening anyone, then that’s time to call in the cops. If they don’t believe you, or endanger you instead, which clearly does happen, then call on your neighbors, the ones you have loved. The ones who love you. They’re out there, the only ones who can possibly make a difference. I hope you have helped them all get registered to vote! 

—Rickey Gard Diamond, 10.29.18

What a Week!

What a Week!

The Senate Judiciary Committee members forget about their female “assistant” and also common decency.