Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Cost of War

This piece was written on September 21st, 2007:
-Berkeley Forum

Today, September 21st is the International Day of Peace. This day was first inaugurated on the third Tuesday of September, 1982 and the goal of International Day of Peace was to "devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as of the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways. It should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."

In 1999 filmmaker Jeremy Gilley launched Peace One Day to document his efforts to establish an annual Peace Day and in 2001, UN member states unanimously adopted the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on the UN International Day of Peace, fixed as 21 September.

Beginning on its 20th anniversary in 2002, International Day of Peace has been set to be permanently observed on the 21st of September every year. The UN resolution said Peace Day is to be "a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day." Last year on Peace Day, more than 3500 Peace Day events took place in 200 countries.

The day-long celebration serves to remind us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind in human community, is to peace. May this Peace Day indeed be a day of peace.

But, despite the desire of the world community for peace and human
rights, the military expenditures in US and the world skyrocketing.
What is the cost of war to human community and to people in US?

World military expenditure in 2005 reached an estimated $1.1 trillion per year. This corresponds to 2.5 percent of the world Gross Domestic Product, or an average $173 per capita. (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2006) while the UN total budget for humanitarian programs amount to $10.5 billion a year.

This year, June, July, and August have marked the bloodiest summer so far for U.S. troops in Iraq. (U.S. casualties in Iraq are 65 percent higher this year than at this time in 2006. As of August 29th, 3,731 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 27,660 have been wounded in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. ( US Department of Defense, 8/29/07).

Congress has already appropriated nearly $477 billion for the war in Iraq since March 2003. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the U.S. is spending an estimated $10 billion per month in Iraq. (CRS, 6/28/07)

* Month: $10,000,000,000
* Week: $2,307,692,380
* Day: $329,670,330
* Hour: $13,736,264
* Minute: $228,938
* Second: $3,816

Now, Imagine, what can be accomplished with a fraction of the cost of war.

* Repair the 70,000+ bridges across US rated structurally deficient: $188 billion
* Rebuild the levees in New Orleans to withstand a Category 5 hurricane: $50 billion
* Cover all eligible but unenrolled kids in SCHIP for 5 years: $47.5 billion
* Equip U.S. public safety officials with interoperable communication equipment: $18 billion
* Enroll 1.4 million more children in Head Start programs: $10 billion
* Double the annual budget for the National Cancer Institute: $9.5 billion
* Hire one new librarian for each public school in America: $4.6 billion

Let us all remember that genuine, lasting peace is impossible in the absence of justice.

True and lasting peace requires justice to all and respecting the basic human rights and human needs of all regardless of everything that diverse us as human race.

PEACE is more than the absence of war. It is about transforming our societies and uniting our global community to work together for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world for ALL.”

-Elahe Amani

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Morning View

These two beautiful creatures crawled into my backyard this morning. I had seen them a few days earlier too but didn't have the chance to take pictures. here they are. Its just lovely to wake up and see deers running around in your backyard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peace Day, Sep 21.

This is an interesting clip on Peace Day. I for one didn't know there was a Peace Day!
Click Here to Watch

Presidential Shortcomings!!!!

I love this picture!!!
I wonder what Ahmadinejad told the tall Basketball player!!!
" can you see my halo from up there?"

Google Gone Wild!

I saw this cartoon in Rooz by Nikahang Kosar, one of my favorite political cartoonists. It's about the recent filtering of Google in Iran by Iranian authorities.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Call to Action

This report was on September 11, 2007. A day associated with the War on Terror”. Although the report is about State of Illinois, but the situation in California, other states and the rest of the world is not much different.

At the beginning of the report, Dr. Beth E. Richie, Associate Dean African American Studies Department, University of Illinois, Chicago has been quoted, " We are almost 30 years into the recent form of anti violence movement. And we began this work not because a foundation got big grant or because policy makers passed legislation. We began this work because women sitting around kitchen tables or at the bus station or outside a child care center started to talk about the private terrors they were experiencing."

"We have millions of women who are safer in this country that's good news. The bad news is that there are some women who are in as much danger as ever. In fact, some may argue more danger because of the work we have done. We don't talk about women who are involved in prostitution, or women who are in prisons, or lesbians who are battered, or people with disabilities, or people who are here illegally and can't get access to programs. If we are taking seriously ending violence in the lives of women in a broader context, then we have different kinds of work that we have to do today as social justice movement - as a social change initiative."

Elahe Amani

Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East (CWAME)

Here is the Report:

A “Call to Action” for the safety of women and girls

(Sept. 11, 2007) Stalking needs to be taken more seriously by women, men, parents, law enforcement and court officials if we want to make Illinois the safest state for all women and girls, according to a report released today by Chicago Foundation for Women.

“Frankly, we are ignoring the dangers of stalking, despite the fact that it’s one of the strongest indicators of more extreme violence. If we are talking about true prevention—we must address stalking because we can prevent a lot more women being harmed,“ said Hannah Rosenthal , the Foundation’s executive director.

Stalking was just one of the issues addressed when the “Call to Action, Part 1” report was released at their 22nd Annual Luncheon and Symposium. Stalking is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls. A national survey found about 1 million women over 18 say they have been stalked—but in only 10 percent of those cases did women feel safe enough to call the police.[i]One in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime. Eighty-seven percent of stalkers are men.[ii]

“A Call to Action, Part 1” contains 100 recommendations—divided into seven key issues and directed at 10 specific groups of people. The 43-page report summarizes the Foundation’s yearlong, statewide anti-violence campaign, “What Will It Take?” In announcing the findings, Mary Morten , the Foundation’s associate director thanked Gov. Blagojevich for helping fund this work, but she also called on the governor to make Illinois a national leader in violence prevention by appointing a special assistant to coordinate the millions of dollars that already come into the state to serve women who are victims of violence.

“We need someone who is strategically overseeing what we are doing, coordinating the work between departments and advocating for what needs to be done to keep women safe,” said Morten. “What we found is disturbing—violence against women and girls is considered normal and normal is dangerous for women. One out of three women will be physically or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. We need dramatic changes and that calls for dramatic leadership.”

The Foundation launched one of the country’s first statewide strategic efforts to engage men in the movement, conducted 10 town hall meetings and 40 community meetings; ran a public awareness campaign reaching millions through radio and television PSAs and a website; organized a speakers’ bureau; awarded $1 million in grants, and collected answers from thousands of Illinoisans to the question, “What Will It Take?”

The steps the report lists include:

“We need people to understand that violence against women is everybody’s issue,” Rosenthal said.

Chicago Foundation for Women is one of the largest women’s funds in the world. Its work is rooted in three principles of women’s human rights: economic security, health and freedom from violence. Since 1986, it has awarded more than 2,500 grants and $15 million to hundreds of Chicago-area and statewide organizations. It also achieves social justice through advocacy, leadership, and public and grantee education. Learn more at

[i] Tjaden, Patricia and Nancy Thoennes, April 1998, Stalking in America : Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. <> 25 July 2007

[ii] U.S. Department of Justice, “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women,” 2000.

[iii] “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.” And “Men’s Violence Against Women: Theory, Research and Activism.” 2007

[iv] National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.

[v] American Academy of Pediatrics. 2000. Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children, 26 July 2007; Huston, A. C. et al. 1992. Big world, small screen: The role of television in American Society. Lincoln , NE : University of Nebraska Press; and Wilson, B. et al. 2002. Violence in children’s television programming: assessing the risks. Journal of Communication, 52, 5-35.

[vi] Illinois Center for Violence Prevention.

[vii] Dick Sobsey, “Sexual Offenses and Disabled Victims,” Vis-A-Vis, 1988.

[viii] 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Chicago High School Survey. Chicago Public Schools Department of Specialized Schools and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor, Los Angeles Times:

Your Katrina stories and photos today are all
white In your front-page story today on the second anniversary of Katrina, "An old
city revels in its new spirit of innovation," and the accompanying
eight stories and five photos which take up two full inside pages, everybody covered
in the stories and photos is white.

Isn't New Orleans a predominantly African American city? Isn't it true that some
250,000 African Americans who had to leave New Orleans after
Katrina and want to return are still stuck in communities all over the U.S.? Isn't
it also true that all the former residents of St. Bernard public housing
who have tried to return to their homes have been locked out by the authorities?
And isn't it true that many public schools are still closed?

African American New Orleaners are not only being locked out of New Orleans,
they're being locked out of the Los Angeles Times.

In today's story, even the Canal Street representative, Roger WIlson,star of
the film trilogy Porky's, is white.

We hear no African American voices in your story, no ideas from African Americans,
no dreams from African Americans.

It's as though what the critics had to say about Porky's has come true all
over again in your coverage of New Orleans:

"The cast is so white washed it's painfully obvious their world is
lacking any racial diversity."

Professor Clive Leeman

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