Category Archives: Uncategorized

Petition–Take Away Trump’s Twitter

https://www.change.org/p/omid-kordestani-twitter-ec-take-away-donald-trump-s-twitter-account?recruiter=843471&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Advertisements

Just Stop 

From a behavior management point of view, if people simply stopped responding to Trump’s Tweets it would be one of the fastest ways to get under his skin. He sends out, I read, approximately 35 Tweets a day. They are designed to ignite a response as well as distract people from the more important issues going on around him: the conflicts of interest with his finances, Trump University, etc. He Tweets for the attention, as well. If people just stopped responding, stopped feeding the monster, it would be interesting to see what happened. It’s called extinction, when you try to get rid of a behavior (you’re supposed to replace it with another behavior, but I have no idea what it would be). If it’s working, you get an extinction burst, where he would start sending out even more Tweets in an effort to get someone to respond. But can you just imagine if everyone would just coordinate and stop responding? It’s not like he cares or can be reasoned with; it just fans the flame of his ego that he managed to irritate people. If he was Tweeting into a void… That would be awesome.

Trump Voters: Trump Does Not Support You 

I know, you think he does. That’s why you voted for him. You’re angry with the status quo. You think Hillary is a crook, far worse than anything Trump did. Why? Her emails. Funny thing that Pence is having issues with his emails now, isn’t it? But Trump is a sexual aggressor, a racist, a bigot, sexist, self-serving, narcissistic man who loves the sound of his own voice and hearing people cheering for him. He has ties to a foreign entity that admits they were in contact with him before the election. Manipulating the election. Yet Hillary’s emails, twice found to be irrelevant, are somehow worse than this. I’m still trying to weigh those against the other, and try as I might, Trump still comes out the one with the most deficits. I don’t understand the mindset that Hillary is so terrible. But Trump said the uneducated were great. He counted on them. 

Does he have any idea how to be President? It’s becoming clearer and clearer that he doesn’t. He has no idea what the job truly entails, and one reason he’s not cut out for it is that he doesn’t get to come first. It’s not a glamourous job. It’s a hard, 24/7 work your butt off job, and he’s not cut out for it. You don’t make your hours; the hours make you. 
And what made anyone think that a billionaire has your financial interests at heart? That he would understand you much less empathize with you? He plans on giving his rich cronies a big tax break, and to hell with the rest of us. We don’t matter to him. The only one he cares about is himself. 

I just wanted to post some pictures of the way he lives–what makes you think this man has anything in common with you? A box of tissues? Compare this to the way you live. Remember, this is how someone who lives who’s smart because he doesn’t pay his taxes. And yes, the things that look like gold are–24 karat gilt. What does this man have in common with you?


It’s a pretty good guess that illegal immigrants helped build Trump Towers. These pictures are from idesign.com and The Huffington Post. Trump doesn’t want to stay in The White House, as every single President before him has. He wants to come back to this. What? The White House isn’t good enough for him?

Yet somehow, you believed he had your best interests at heart. He goes home to this. What do you go home to? Do you think you’ll be one of the ones getting a big tax break? Do you really think the reason why the economy is stalled is because of African-Americans, or Latinos, or Muslims, or Jews, or even illegal immigrants? How many of you want to go work the back-breaking farm labor jobs illegal immigrants work? Show of hands. You blame them but you don’t want the jobs they take. 

Truthfully, if you want to blame who’s really responsible, go look up the list of the richest people in America. They are the ones who hold, and keep almost all the wealth in this country. How many of them are white men? Let me repeat that: White men. Those are the ones responsible, and they are distracting you with racist, xenophobic bullshit to keep the attention away from themselves. The neo-nazis and white supremacists are wrong. Trump is wrong. They are trying to fool you into thinking they care about you, but you will never get a tax break, and they don’t really care about making your lives better. 

Why should they when they go home to places like that?

Rules, Allies, and Friends

I have been trying to stay out of the debates going on in the M/M Romance world, but they are bleeding into other issues, some of which don’t necessarily belong in the book world but in a larger sphere. That’s why I wasn’t sure I should post this here or on my other blog. Maybe I’ll put it on both, just to keep my bases covered, so to speak, because it does have to do with both.

Because of one person weaving a fantasy world which she portrayed as real, hurting a lot of people in the process, a lot of other authors (and people in general) seem to be coming forward and verifying their authenticity. I find this a little disturbing. What this person did was wrong. If you want to create a fictional world and play around with it, write a book. Don’t lead people on that they’re real people. That’s just hurtful and mean, even if it wasn’t intended that way. I was in a group on Goodreads where something very similar to this happened. The sad thing is the group is still running, and people that were in the group when it happened are still there, which means, to me at least, that they are willing to overlook the hurt that the moderators caused. Whoever the moderator(s) are/is.

The other thing I feel about this is that it’s completely different than having a pseudonym as, say, a gay man. It’s easy for one person to say, “I’ve been homeless, I’d never lie to people just to publish for the money.” That’s really easy to say, because you weren’t in that person’s position. People have their own reasons for doing things. Unless you’re that person, you really don’t know, and you can’t presume to answer for them. In other words, you can’t condemn someone for assuming a pseudonym/persona, because you don’t know them, and you can’t speak for them. Your reasons may be fine for you, but you can’t just apply them across the board to everyone. Yes, some people may have felt betrayed, but was anyone actually hurt?

Bear with me here. Around all this happening, a post came out by Anonymous. I didn’t know all of this was going on when it was going on. As I understand it, this person was upset at the way that gay men were being portrayed by white, heterosexual women in M/M Romance. I may have gotten that wrong, and I apologize sincerely if I did. I also believe that it had to do with objectification of gay males. This was/is a huge, huge post/issue, and hasn’t died down yet. I feel uncomfortable even mentioning it, because I followed some of the debate after it happened, but I don’t really feel qualified to comment on it.

What did happen, for me, because of it, was that it made me hesitate further to write a review of a book that I was already hesitating to write a review of, but I am going to after I write this post, because I’m tired of caring what people think of it. That’s not true–I’m tired of caring what people think about what I think of the book. My feelings about the book are my feelings, and they don’t have anything to do with what anyone else thinks about it. But more on that in the review, not here.

What has come up, again, in some posts, is “rules” about being an ally. Personally, and this is just me, I find things like this really offensive. It’s like the time (I wrote a post about it) when there was an article saying that “allies were doing it all wrong.” My gut reaction is, “fine, deal with it yourself, then.” It’s an immature reaction. I know that, but maybe it’s just in my nature to rebel when being told what to do. To me, it’s sort of like being given rules for being a friend. Because, after all, in a way, isn’t that sort of what it’s like?

Not being a friend like a casual friend, but being a friend like a good friend. If you have a good friend, you don’t speak on their behalf about what they may or may not think about an issue. You don’t assume all your friends are the same and agree with your point of view on how they should behave and act. You don’t assume they all have the same sexual tastes and orientations. You accept the fact that while you empathize with them, they are still different people from you; they are their own person. They have rights that should be respected by you, just as you expect your rights to be respected by them. Don’t expect them to be perfect, just like you don’t expect them to assume you’re going to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. A person doesn’t objectify their friends.

I could go on, but does that make sense? Why does there have to be a list of rules? To me, that’s insulting, and doesn’t show respect. It’s like saying, to be my friend, you have to do this, this, and this. Unless an ally isn’t supposed to be a friend? I know I can’t be friends with every gay man out there, or everyone in the LBGTQ world, but if I consider them a friend, and treat them as I would a friend, doesn’t that work? Sure, there are plenty who may not like me. Fine. There are plenty of people I may not like either. But I don’t like the notion that to be worthy I need to jump through hoops. Friends just don’t do that to their friends.

The other thing is, as a white, heterosexual female, it does make me uncomfortable when there is someone posting a lot of pictures of semi-naked or naked young men in provocative poses. A lot of it depends on the intent. Sometimes, if it’s just a picture of a guy, it’s okay. When they’re blatantly sensual photos, it bothers me. To me, that’s objectifying men. Just as if it were pictures of women, I would say that’s objectifying women. But if it’s a gay man posting the pictures, I’m not going to protest it. I’m just going to avoid it. Because if I did protest it, I would be labeled all sorts of things. Truthfully, if it were a straight man posting pictures of women I found objectionable (most likely I wouldn’t be his friend in the first place), and I complained, I would also be labeled all sorts of things.

Maybe part of the problem is living in a world of technology where so much is unknown, and people can pretend to be other people. People can spin tales, invent whole groups of other people. I hope those people are in the minority. I hope.

I know this is somewhat rambling, and I am sometimes frustrated that when I feel passionately about something I do have difficulty writing brilliant, concise posts that just sum everything up in a flash of wit. I feel strongly that if people comported themselves online in a manner that they did offline, it would solve a lot of problems. If being an “ally” means that I have to conform to a set of predetermined rules as opposed to behaving in a manner where I feel like I’m trying my best to be a decent human being, then maybe I’ll just be something else and not bother with having a word for it, and continue to treat people as if they’re all decent human beings who deserve to live their lives the way they want to. Because love is love, and no one has the right to take that away.

Image

Post-Election Grumps and Thanksgiving: The Lies We Teach

I’m too tired to go on a huge rant. Let’s just say I’m extremely disappointed in the results of Tuesday’s election. Where were all the Democrats and Independents and Greens and everyone else who complains but when the time comes, do nothing? All of you had best keep quiet the next two years, because this is your fault for not voting, and you have no right to complain about something you could have had an active part in changing.

The next two years are going to be so gridlocked it’s going to look like a construction zone at Congress. And I couldn’t help but think it ironic (I think this is ironic–I had a knife, I wasn’t getting married, you know, that sort of thing) that we found out the results of the election, at least the closely contested races that aren’t going to drag on for months, on Guy Fawke’s Day. Not that violence solves anything. I felt more depressed than anything else.

And since I’ve been shedding light on the goings on in other countries, I thought, given the heat some people are addressing the issue of Immigration with, that maybe I should spare a moment for Thanksgiving here. It is, after all, Turkey month for non-vegetarians, Tofurkey month for those who aren’t gluten-free, and well, those of us who are will figure something out, a lá Radar’s spam lamb in M*A*S*H*.

It’s lovely that we have Tea Baggers, Partiers, such as Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter to wax poetic on the subject of our sovereignty over the United States of America, how the Settlers from the Mayflower were the first to set foot (other than Colombus, but we don’t celebrate him, at least not in schools anymore, and Leif Ericsson, who was possibly the first non-native-American to visit the Americas–now that I could get down with, “Leif Ericsson Day,” as long as it was researched properly and we knew how any first encounters went) on this land, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Personally, other than the truly Royal mess with the Metiz, from what I know it seems Canada did a better job with the original settlers of that land than we did with the Native Americans. Even their name is more respectful. First Peoples.

I found this article, which some of the comments say has its share of mistakes, but history is so confusing at times, at it’s the victors who write it, that it’s hard to tell what the truth is and isn’t. The Americans did terrible, terrible things to many groups in this country, I just picked one that has a myth that we still perpetuate to this day. Happy pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down to eat together, primary classes at elementary schools making paper cutouts and turkeys out of traced hands, and the lies begin. When schools found out the next movie Disney was going to make was “Pocahontas,” they started preparing to undo whatever damage that caused, that’s how bad a reputation Disney has with messing with anything historical. There were things I didn’t know in this article, and I lived on the Navajo Reservation for approximately nine years when I was young, in two locations; very rural Oljato, Utah, and Chinle, AZ, where I attended Middle School and half of High School.

 

8 Big Lies History Books Tell About Natives

6/29/14

Do history books written by white folks tell the truth about Natives? We think not. Here are just some of the lies they tell.

Columbus NEVER landed in the Upper 48—Ever

Every year across the country countless elementary school students recite: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and many perform a play about him discovering Indians in America. The thing is Columbus never landed in what would become the United States, he actually landed in the Caribbean.

RELATED: 8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day

This painting shows Columbus on the deck of the Santa Maria. (Painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze)

This painting shows Columbus on the deck of the Santa Maria. (Painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze)

Basically Everything About Pocahontas

Pocahontas was about 8 years old when John Smith arrived, and was later married to another young Indian warrior. She also had a child that was given away before she married John Rolfe.

RELATED: Native History: Pocahontas Marries John Rolfe in Jamestown

Sorry Disney, and many incorrectly written textbooks, Pocahontas never fell in love with John Smith. According to tribal oral histories as well as The True Story of Pocahontas by members of the Mattaponi Tribe, Pocahontas’ original young Native husband was killed and Pocahontas’ newborn was given to relatives before she was forced into captivity at about 15 or 16 years of age.

Disney's version of Pocahontas.

Disney’s version of Pocahontas.

 

The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was named after an entire tribe’s massacre—not a peaceful meal between pilgrims and Indians.

In 1621, Wampanoag Indians investigated gun and cannon fire at a Pilgrim settlement to see them celebrating a successful harvest. The Indians—all male warriors, were fed as a gesture of peace. The act was not repeated annually.

RELATED: What Really Happened at the First Thanksgiving? The Wampanoag Side of the Tale

In 1636, when a murdered man was discovered in a boat in Plymouth, English Major John Mason collected his soldiers and killed and burned down the wigwams of all the neighboring Pequot Indians who were blamed for the murder.

The following day, Plymouth Governor William Bradford applauded the massacre of the 400 Indians, including the women and children. The Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Newell, proclaimed: “From that day forth, shall be a day of celebration and thanks giving for subduing the Pequots.” For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.

RELATED: 6 Thanksgiving Myths, Share Them with Someone You Know

This is a popular image of the first Thanksgiving, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. But this is definitely NOT what happened.

This is a popular image of the first Thanksgiving, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. But this is definitely NOT what happened.

What is a Redskin?

“It was only five generations ago that a white man could get money for one of my grandfather’s scalps,” wrote 1491’s comedian Dallas Goldtooth on Facebook. “At this time… it was ‘Redskin’ that was used to describe us.”

In his post, Goldtooth also included a newspaper clipping from after the U.S. Dakota Wars of 1862: “The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory.”

RELATED: Dakota Man Exposes Vile History of ‘Redskins’

A screen shot of Goldtooth’s Facebook page with the 1863 newspaper clipping and his comments that sparked discussion on Facebook.

A screen shot of Goldtooth’s Facebook page with the 1863 newspaper clipping and his comments that sparked discussion on Facebook.

Lincoln Ordered a Mass Execution

In the fall of 1862, Native tribes in Minnesota waged war on white settlers out of frustration from starvation, mistreatment and harsh conditions. After soldiers captured over 300 Indians, President Abraham Lincoln approved the largest mass execution in U.S. history on 38 Dakota men. On the day of their hanging, an estimated 4,000 spectators watched them hung. Their bodies were later taken and used as medical cadavers.

RELATED: Debunking Lincoln, the ‘Great Emancipator’

A print marking the execution of 38 Dakota men in December of 1862. They were sentenced November 5, 1862. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A print marking the execution of 38 Dakota men in December of 1862. They were sentenced November 5, 1862. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)


Hitler Studied Reservations

There are many accounts of the Nazis and Hitler studying Indian reservations for guidance in planning encampments for the Jewish. Perhaps Lia Mandelbaum says it best in her article found in the Jewish Journal entitled “Hitler’s Inspiration and Guide: The Native American Holocaust.”

From 1863 to 1868, the U.S. military persecuted and imprisoned 9,500 Navajo (the Diné) and 500 Mescalero Apache (the N’de).  Living under armed guards, in holes in the ground, with extremely scarce rations, it is no wonder that more than 3,500 Navajo and Mescalero Apache men, women, and children died while in the concentration camp.

During the film I learned about something that shook me to my core that I had not heard before.  I learned that the genocidal mentality and actions of the U.S. policy makers would find similar expression years later when the Nazis, under Hitler, studied the plans of Bosque Redondo to design the concentration camps for Jews.

 

Retrieved from (http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/29/8-big-lies-history-books-tell-about-natives-155540?page=0%2C0) Nov. 8, 2014

Indian Country Today Media Network.com

A Little Clarification on Yesterday’s Rant About Bicyclists

 Q: Was the bicyclist “in the Zone” while in the zone?
Also: This particular specimen of bicyclist did not enter my mind at all yesterday, however, I still hold to my earlier opinions. This is somewhat of an outlier on the Bell Curve of bicycling. I hope. Complete text re-posted from The Register-Guard and not altered, or tampered with in any way. I can think of a lot of things to say, but think it better that I don’t.

Eugene Police

‘Walk your wheels’ signs going up downtown

A bicyclist is cited after he hit an 8-year-old while riding in the zone

Nov. 6, 2014

While Eugene police officers were installing signs downtown on Wednesday alerting bicyclists and skateboarders that they were in the new “walk your wheels” zone, a bicyclist on a sidewalk in the zone struck an 8-year-old child, police said.

The child was checked by medics and released to the care of his mother, police said.

Meanwhile, the bike’s operator was discovered to be a fugitive from justice related to a methamphetamine charge in Washington state, police said.

Police on Wednesday were highlighting the zone where bicyclists and skateboarders are banned from riding on sidewalks. As the disc-like warning signs were installed in the sidewalk, the child, holding a door for his mother at The Willamette Street Market on East 11th Avenue and Willamette Street, was struck by a bike at 2 p.m. The cyclist, Tyler Samuel Rhodes, 29, hit the boy from behind, knocking him to the ground, police said. The bicycle’s brakes were not working, authorities said.

Rhodes was arrested on charges of reckless driving and the fugitive warrant. He was cited for possession of methamphetamine, less than an ounce of marijuana and violation of the “walk your wheels” zone.

The signage was approved by the Eugene City Council July 28. The walk zone went into effect Aug. 29. Police are issuing warnings to those in violation, and citations for repeat offenders. Fines can be up to $50.

The signs are being installed in the sidewalks over the next several days, police said. Signs will be installed along Lincoln Street between Eighth and 13th Avenues, the north side of Eighth Avenue between Lincoln and Pearl streets, and on both sides of Willamette Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenue. The east side of Pearl Street between Eighth and 13th Avenues and both sides of Broadway between Pearl and High streets will be marked, along with the north side of 13th Avenue between Pearl and Lincoln streets.

Bicyclists in My Town–The Rules are for YOU Too

When I first moved here in 2005, I was terrified of the bicyclists. Everyone had “Share The Road” bumperstickers on the backs of their vehicles, but that didn’t seem to be the case, and it only seems to be getting worse. Bicyclists and cars have always had an uneasy relationship, and I agree with sharing the road, as long as bicyclists remember that they are smaller and harder to see, and need to take some precautions. Nine years later, and I’m still terrified to drive down certain streets for fear I’ll hit a bicyclist. Why is this?

This isn’t aimed at the bicyclists I don’t notice, because you’re taking care and not pretending you’re a car. Or the ones who follow the rules, to whom I am ever grateful. Those of you who ride bicycles without endangering others already have a little star with your name twinkling on it up there at night. No, bicyclists, you’re not a car. You are a bicyclist, in other words, you are the exoskeleton of a bicycle, which makes you extremely vulnerable to cars. You are not given divine, goddess given rights that make you superior to cars. I try to share the road with you, but those of you peddling down the middle of West 11th, especially those of you with a child on board–I know you’re trying to miss the mirrors of the parked cars, but West 11th is narrow, and guess what? There is a sidewalk on either side. Be safe and ride on the sidewalk, please, especially if you have a little one with you, so I’m not driving with my heart literally in my throat. That just seems like common sense to me. It might help if you weren’t listening to headphones.

See, I lived in Northern California for twenty years, and once, in San Francisco, saw a motorcycle get rear-ended at a stop light, which the motorcyclist was properly stopped for but the car behind him didn’t see. That motorcycle did a full 360 in the air, I’m not kidding, and it scared me. If a car can do that to a Harley, imagine what it can do to a bicycle? So when I moved up here to super bicycle friendly city in my super-long Subaru wagon, yes, I was terrified, because the last thing I wanted to do was accidentally hit someone who decided to pop out into the road or because there was glare from the sun, a puppy jumped in front of my car and I had to brake suddenly, the list goes on and on. I didn’t drive until I was twenty eight, and this had my nerves screaming in anxiety (the reason it took me so long to learn to drive in the first place). Having a long car doesn’t help. But I saw the way people reacted to certain events hard core bicyclists arranged at, oh, rush hour in San Francisco to bring attention to themselves in a “share the road” sort of way. Oh, yes, they got drivers’ attention. And forever gained their ire in the meantime. Sympathy seems like a better emotion to try to engender, as opposed to making people hate your cause, but to each their own. Different spokes for different folks.

That attitude is becoming more common among bicyclists up here, unfortunately, with a lot of flaunting of the rules. Sharing the road means that I, in my car, and you, on your bicycle, take responsibility to sort of, let’s say help each other out and try not to hit each other while coexisting peacefully on the road. It also needs to be conceded that both drivers and bicyclists will make mistakes, and that we are not deliberately trying to take each other out in some sort of Beyond Thunderdome Mad Max scenario.

But Wendy, you mild-mannered woman who never gets upset over anything, you might ask. Why all this grief on bicyclists this evening. Well, let me tell you. I already wanted to bust out the ones on Mexico and Switzerland, and I’ve got a migraine. I have done more today around the house and online than I have in the past week, because doing things makes me tired, the severe depression and whatnot, which is why I shouldn’t be reading articles like those about Mexico and Switzerland. But at some point I signed up for the EPDs text alerts, so this one came to me. I don’t know if anyone else receives those–sometimes they are helpful, and I do have to say it’s disturbing how many bank robberies we’ve been having, but that isn’t the point. I got one today at 3:02p.m., you know, right about the time school lets out? This is what it read:

“Bicyclist Knocks 8-year-old Boy Down in Walk Your Wheels Zone”

Now I am in no way Sherlock Holmes, but I think it can possibly be inferred from that detail filled text that the bicyclist was riding his or her bike through or near enough a group of school children in a place most likely clearly demarcated as a place to walk your bicycle to knock an 8 year-old boy down. The sign is probably there to remind the children to walk their bikes. That does not mean, as an adult, you get to ignore the sign, get out of jail free, pass Go, and collect $200. The sign is there for everyone. What appalls me is that adults are supposed to set examples for children, not knock them over because the adult isn’t following rules the children most likely are. No wonder this country is in such a mess. No one thinks the rules apply to them, because, well, they’re just special.

I am also inferring that most Walk your Wheels Zones are near schools, in which case the bicyclist should have been paying closer attention. For one thing, while they were disregarding signs they could have been merrily ringing their bell to tell kids to scramble. What if the 8 year-old boy were deaf? Or, with the energy of most 8 year-old boys, he could have been bouncing around like a stripey tiger we all know and most of us love.

The thing is, that’s all the text said and that’s all I know, but it took two of the things that are bound to get my attention, bicyclist not following the rules and an 8 year-old getting knocked over–I’m not a mother, but after working for a long time in elementary schools, I have very strong protective instincts. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, obviously, and eyewitnesses are the least reliable, which is pretty crummy. Especially if most of them are 8. I hope there were some other people around. Irate crossing guards, maybe.

We can share the road. Everyone needs to pay attention. Everyone needs to follow the rules. There is no reason me, you, or anyone else is special and can drive/ride however we want.

Image

More Lessons We Weren’t Taught in School

In our state of isolationism in the US, many not paying attention to what goes on in the countries below or the country above them (and I’m not pointing fingers–I’m just as ignorant of many of these things, such as the things I’m posting today), much less their own country–I do try to be a little more aware of that.

I was incredibly shocked reading this. I knew from a friend that women didn’t get the right to vote until 1971, only because he told me this in a tone of voice that indicated Switzerland would not be a place he’d want to live. If I had the time in the day to research every single thing I was curious about I’m afraid I’d still not be very wise, as my memory isn’t very good, but I have so many questions about this, the foremost being, “Why?” This is a country that always presents itself, well, as the cultured height of sophistication of Europe. They’re neutral. Now my brain turns to why they were neutral, more devious reasons than simply not to take a side, but being neutral to keep others out, from finding out that what was and had been happening in Switzerland to their own children was, in its own way, comparable to the acts of WWII. Different, yes, and I suppose I shouldn’t even compare them, but these children were taken on orders from the government, women had no rights to keep their children in the event of divorce–their only “crime” was poverty.

I find it almost impossible to believe that Christian is only a couple of years younger than I am, that this was happening while I was a child. When I was 10 he was taken from his home along with his brother. Because things like this happen before you were born, right? I wish I could meet him and his brother. We didn’t go through the same experience at all, but I do know what it’s like to not fit in, to try to figure out why things happen the way they do. There are so many ways we wouldn’t relate, but the need to fit in and feel accepted by others, I think, is universal. To tell people that what happened to them really wasn’t their fault at all, they were children, and adults can sometimes be quite horrible people. Sometimes the answer to “Why?” held up a lot better at the time than it seems to now.

And I thought women not getting the vote until 1920 was bad.

REBLOGGED FROM BBC NEWS (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29765623), RETRIEVED NOV. 5, 2014

Originally published October 24, 2014

Switzerland’s shame: The children used as cheap farm labour

Boy

Boy

Thousands of people in Switzerland who were forced into child labour are demanding compensation for their stolen childhoods. Since the 1850s hundreds of thousands of Swiss children were taken from their parents and sent to farms to work – a practice that continued well into the 20th Century.

David Gogniat heard a loud knock on the door. There were two policemen.

“I heard them shouting and realised something was wrong. I looked out and saw that my mother had pushed the policemen down the stairs,” he says.

“She then came back in and slammed the door. The next day three policemen came. One held my mother and the other took me with them.”

At the age of eight, he was in effect kidnapped and taken away to a farm. To this day he has no idea why.

For the first years of his life, he and his older brother and sisters lived alone with their mother. They were poor, but his childhood was happy until one day in 1946, when he came home from school to find his siblings had disappeared.

A year later it was his turn.

He was taken to an old farmhouse and became the farmhand. He would wake before 06:00 and worked before and after school. His day finished after 22:00. This physically imposing man in his 70s looks vulnerable as he remembers the frequent violence from the foster father. “I would almost describe him as a tyrant… I was afraid of him. He had quite a temper and would hit me for the smallest thing,” Gogniat says.

Two boys

Two boys

On one occasion, when he was older, he remembers he snapped, grabbed his foster father, pushed him against the wall and was about to hit him. The man threatened him: “If you hit me, I’ll have you sent to an institution.” David backed off.

His siblings were living with families in the nearby village, though he rarely saw them. He missed his mother desperately. They wrote and there were occasional visits. One day his mother made an audacious attempt to get her children back. She came up with an Italian couple in a Fiat Topolino and said she was taking his siblings for a walk. David wasn’t there but it was the talk of the village when he came back that night. The police brought the children back three days later.

“The fact that my mother arranged to kidnap her own children and take them back home to Bern with her just goes to show how much she was struggling against the authorities,” Gogniat says. On his mother’s death he made a shocking discovery. He found papers which showed she had been paying money to the foster families for the upkeep of her four children, who had been forcibly taken away from her and were working as indentured labourers.

Gogniat, his brother and two sisters were “contract children” or verdingkinder as they are known in Switzerland. The practice of using children as cheap labour on farms and in homes began in the 1850s and it continued into the second half of the 20th Century. Historian Loretta Seglias says children were taken away for “economic reasons most of the time… up until World War Two Switzerland was not a wealthy country, and a lot of the people were poor”. Agriculture was not mechanised and so farms needed child labour.

David with his younger sister before they were sent away

David with his younger sister before they were sent away

David Gogniat with his younger sister before they were taken away from their mother

If a child became orphaned, a parent was unmarried, there was fear of neglect, or you had the misfortune to be poor, the communities would intervene. Authorities tried to find the cheapest way to look after these children, so they took them out of their families and placed them in foster families.

“They wanted to take these children out of the poor family and put them somewhere else where they could learn how to work, as through work they could support themselves as adults,” says Seglias.

Quote: "It was like a kind of punishment. Being poor was not recognised as a social problem it was individual failure."

Dealing with the poor in this way she says was social engineering. If a parent dared to object, they could face measures themselves. “They could be put in prison or an institution where you would be made to work, so you could always put pressure on the parents.”

Mostly it was farms that children were sent to, but not always. Sarah (not her real name) had been in institutions from birth, but in 1972, at the age of nine, she was sent to a home in a village, where she was expected to clean the house. She did that before and after school, and at night cleaned offices in nearby villages for her foster mother. She was beaten regularly by the mother, she says, and from the age of 11 was sexually abused by the sons at night.

This is the first time she has spoken about her story and her hands shake as she remembers. “The worst thing is that one sister, their daughter, once caught one of those boys… while I was asleep and she told the woman… [who said] that it didn’t matter, I was just a slag anyway,” Sarah says. A teacher and the school doctor wrote to the authorities, to express concern about her, but nothing was done.

There was no official decision to end the use of contract children. Seglias says it just naturally started to die out in the 1960s and 70s. As farming became mechanised, the need for child labour vanished. But Switzerland was changing too. Women got the vote in 1971 and attitudes towards poverty and single mothers moved on.

I found an exceptionally late case in a remote part of Switzerland. In 1979, Christian’s mother was struggling. Recently divorced from a violent husband she needed support.

Christian with his mother

Christian with his mother

The state intervened and took her seven and eight-year-old sons to a farm many hours away by car. Christian remembers getting out of the car and watching his mother and the woman from social services driving off.

“My brother and I stood in front of the house feeling very lost and didn’t know what to do… it was a strange moment, a moment you never forget,” he says.

On the first day they were given overalls and perfectly fitting rubber boots, “because before the placement the woman from social services had even asked what size shoes we wore… When I think back I do believe there was an awareness that my brother and I would be made to work there.”

Christian says there was work before and after school, at weekends and all year round. He remembers one incident, at a silo where cut grass was kept to make into silage. “In winter it was pretty frozen and I had to hack quite hard with the pitchfork and I was put under pressure and then this accident happened and the fork went through my toe.”

He says work accidents were never reported to his mother or social services. And if the boys didn’t work hard enough there were repercussions. Food was withheld as a form of punishment.

“My brother and I just went hungry at the time. When I think back there were five years during which we constantly went hungry. That’s why my brother and I used to steal food,” Christian says. He remembers they stole chocolate from the village shop – though he now thinks the owners knew the boys were hungry and let them take the goodies. A former teacher of Christian’s at the local school says with hindsight he looked malnourished.

But Christian remembers there were also more serious consequences if he didn’t work hard enough, including violence. “We were pretty much being driven to work,” he says. “There were many beatings, slaps in the face, pulling of hair, tugging of ears – there was also one incident involving something like a mock castration.”

Christian has no doubt why he and his brother were placed with the farmer. “I believe it was about cheap labour… we were profitable,” he says. “They expanded the farm… it was five years of hard work.”

Quote: They came as babies... and the bigger they grew the more work they would do
Archive photo of boys with a basket of vegetables

Archive photo of boys with a basket of vegetables

Historians estimate there were hundreds of thousands such children. For one year alone in the 1930s, records show 30,000 children were placed in foster families across Switzerland.

Loretta Seglias

“They were being abused and no-one believed them”

Loretta Seglias, Historian

“It’s hard to know precisely how many contract children there were as records were kept locally, and sometimes not at all,” says Loretta Seglias. “Some children were also placed by private organisations, or their own families.”

The extent to which these children were treated as commodities is demonstrated by the fact that there are cases even in the early 20th Century where they were herded into a village square and sold at public auction.

Seglias shows me some photographs. One child looks barely two – surely she couldn’t be a contract child? “She could, she would be brushing floors bringing in the milk. Sometimes they came as babies on to the farms, and the bigger they grew the more work they would do,” Seglias says.

In her studies, and speaking to former contract children she finds recurring themes. The lack of information comes up again and again.

“Children didn’t know what was happening to them, why they were taken away, why they couldn’t go home, see their parents, why they were being abused and no-one believed them,” she says.

“The other thing is the lack of love. Being in a family where you are not part of the family, you are just there for working.” And it left a devastating mark for the rest of the children’s lives. Some have huge psychological problems, difficulties with getting involved with others and their own families. For others it was too much to bear. Some committed suicide after such a childhood.

Social workers did make visits. David Gogniat says his family had no telephone, so when a social worker called a house in the village to announce that she was coming, a white sheet was hung out of a window as a warning to the foster family. On the day of this annual visit David didn’t have to work, and was allowed to have lunch with the family at the table. “That was the only time I was treated as a member of the family… She sat at the table with us and when she asked a question I was too scared to say anything, because I knew if I did the foster family would beat me.”

David with his foster family and another unidentified boy

David with his foster family and another unidentified boy

Sarah too remembers that visits were announced and that social workers were always welcomed with cake, biscuits and coffee. “I used to sit at the table too. It was always lovely, ironically speaking, but at least I knew I was being left in peace, that nothing was going to happen.” She never spoke alone to a social worker during her stay with the family.

Christian doesn’t remember seeing a social worker alone either. In his documents, social workers wrote that he was “happy”. In one of the letters, a visit is announced, saying it doesn’t matter if the children are at school. Christian shows me letters written by his mother, detailing her concern that they were being beaten, were malnourished, and doing agricultural labour. His mother organised a medical assessment, on one of his rare visits home, and the doctor’s conclusion was that he was psychologically and physically exhausted. This triggered his removal from the farm in 1985, when he was 14. His older brother, left at the same time. They were then sent to a state-run institution.

Boots and shoes at the exhibition

Boots and shoes at the exhibition

An exhibition which opened five years ago, and is still running today at the Ballenberg open-air museum, awoke modern Switzerland with a shock to its dark past of child exploitation. The man behind it, Basil Rogger, says that from the 1920s on there was a constant flow of pamphlets, autobiographies, and newspaper articles about the plight of the contract children. Their history was not a secret. If you wanted to know about it you could.

By the time of the exhibition, a generation had passed since the practice had died out, and there was enough distance to cope with it. Crucially, he says, the state was prepared to address the issue. Contract children who thought their experiences were isolated realised they were not alone, and began to share their stories.

Visitors also began to ask questions within their own family – Rogger says when he met people weeks after the exhibition they would tell him someone in their family was a contract child. “So people became aware of the omnipresence of this system, because almost any Swiss person knows someone placed in a foster family.”

In recent years there has been a process of national soul-searching. Last year an official apology was made to contract children, and other victims of the state’s compulsory measures – people who had been forcibly sterilised, or unlawfully detained.

Quote: "People who suffered for decades... were ashamed of their story"
Archive photo of boy in ill-fitting clothes

Archive photo of boy in ill-fitting clothes

The Swiss Parliament, the Bundeshaus is buzzing. The campaigner Guido Fluri has just got the 100,000 signatures for a petition that could put the question of compensation to a national referendum. It’s calling for a restitution package of about 500 million Swiss Francs (£327m) for the 10,000 contract children estimated to be alive today, as well as others wronged by the state’s coercive measures. The petition was launched in April. Fluri says its success shows how strongly the Swiss people sympathise with the contract children.

Guido Fluri

“Many who have experienced such severe suffering feel that wounds are being reopened”

Guido Fluri, Campaigner

He is in parliament lobbying politicians to win their support for the petition. He explains to parliamentarians the plight of survivors – “people who suffered for decades, who fought, who were never able to leave their trenches, who hid away, who were ashamed of their story… some of whom are living in neglect”. It’s not just money, he says. “What’s important is to point the way towards acknowledging that huge suffering.”

The Farmers Union agrees with the principle of compensation, but is adamant that farmers should not have to contribute. You have to understand the times in which these children were placed into foster care, says union president Markus Ritter. Councils and churches had no money. Farming families were asked to take children who had fallen on difficult times or had one parent so the farmers were fulfilling a social function. Does he acknowledge abuse occurred? “We received a lot of feedback from children who were treated really well… But we are also aware that some children were not treated properly.”

Guido Fluri says this social re-examination is liberating for some former contract children. Many elderly people come on crutches and in wheelchairs to his office to discuss their stories with him. The other day he found a poem left on his desk. For others, public discussion is too much to bear, and Fluri has received death threats. “Many who have experienced such severe suffering feel that wounds are being reopened,” he says. “You can understand. They are completely overwhelmed by the situation.”

It’s taken a long time for the drive for compensation to reach this point, and there could still be many years of parliamentary discussion more before it becomes a reality. Loretta Seglias says the issue of restitution is a complicated one in Switzerland. “There is this fear of having to pay compensation… Some will say who else will come forward?” The experience of war reparations has left a scar.

Quote: "Who was responsible for the fact we were taken away?"
David Gogniat standing by a truck

David Gogniat standing by a truck

David Gogniat, who left his foster family when he was 16, is now 75. He runs a successful trucking business. He arrives with his wife at the Bern archive. Since July, former contract children have had the right to access their childhood files.

David started the search into his past two months ago. He waits nervously outside in the autumn sunshine.

“Many are probably afraid to read those files because they don’t know what to expect”

Yvonne Pfaffli

“To me it feels as though there was some sort of an agreement between the farmers and child services to provide children as cheap labour,” he says. But he only wants to know one thing: “Who was responsible for the fact we were taken away?”

He accepts that he may end up feeling disappointed, but he also thinks this could help him move on.

Once inside, he waits in a modern glass room. Yvonne Pfaffli, who has found his records, arrives with two files. I leave David in private to absorb it all. A while later, earlier than I expect, he emerges.

“Things came to light that I hadn’t heard of or seen before, and I think I need to look at it again some other time,” he says. Later, he tells me he learned something about his father, and some intriguing financial information – but he doesn’t divulge details. He just seems relieved to have held the files of his childhood in his hands.

Over many more visits to the archive he will now try to piece together the mysteries of his past.

Many people have big gaps in their knowledge, says Pfaffli. They may remember being taken away in a black car, without ever having known why.

“They didn’t know that it might be the result of something like their parents’ divorce,” she says. “These are very big questions, and many are nervous, and many are probably afraid to read those files because they don’t know what to expect, but on the other hand they are hugely grateful that these files exist.”

The documents have usually been written by social services staff and their perspective may be very different from the child’s. There tends to be no mention of abuse.

Yvonne Pfaffli

Yvonne Pfaffli

Yvonne Pfaffli with files from the archive

Sarah, now 51, left her foster family at 15 for an apprenticeship and never went back. She too has her file, though she was shocked at some significant omissions. Letters from her school doctor and teacher expressing concern about the way she was treated are not there, she says. Neither is a letter from the local authority apologising for placing her with an inappropriate family, which she says she was only ever allowed to read and not keep. With the help of the Verdingkinder network she is trying to trace them.

“What’s also missing is the bit explaining why I was placed in that family in the first place, who made the decision, how it even came to that, so my files are anything but complete,” she says. “And that’s a shame. All we want is our story, and then we can draw a line under it… I am by no means certain whether the authorities aren’t just putting up a front when they say they’re helping us. For me there is a question mark.”

Christian got his files back in July. “It’s very very important. It’s my life. It’s also important for coming to terms with it in a historical and scientific way,” he says. He has many questions: why they were taken away, and why so far away from their mother? Did the authorities know about the work they were doing. Did they know about the polio-arthritis he began to suffer from while living with the foster family? He says the report from a psychologist that triggered his removal from the farm is missing. He is still studying the 700 pages.

He shows me letters from his mother documenting her concern about her sons’ health and the fact that they were not allowed to go to secondary school.

There is a contract with the farmer showing his parents’ contribution to the foster family of 900 Swiss Francs a month, later increased.

But some former contract children find that no files remain. “Either they have been destroyed a long time ago, or more recently,” says historian Loretta Seglias. “Some get answers… others don’t.”

Quote: "We congratulate him on these lies he cooked up!"
Two boys with no shoes carrying a crate

Two boys with no shoes carrying a crate

Two unidentified contract children

Christian’s foster parents agree to meet me – and are open to meeting him. One early morning we make the journey to the countryside.

Before we get in the car, Christian tells me he doesn’t expect an apology, but by talking about what happened, he thinks, maybe they will reflect on how they behaved. As we drive into the countryside the views are breathtaking. Christian looks out of the window. “I am feeling very complex emotions. The landscape that used to give comfort to me as a child is giving me comfort now, but I’m also a bit speechless. It’s difficult… I am feeling nervous as I have no idea what will happen there.”

As we enter the village, Christian points out the village shop where he used to steal chocolate as a child. It’s had a makeover three decades on. He becomes palpably anxious as we approach the farm. He wants to be left at a nearby river while we conduct the interview.

I approach the picture-postcard farmhouse. After some time, the farmer and his wife emerge. They agree to talk but on the condition of anonymity. They deny all of Christian’s allegations – describing them as “lies”. They say he never worked before or after school… maybe during the holidays he swept the stables. And they insist they were never violent towards Christian or his brother.

“No. You shouldn’t hit children,” says the farmer. “On the contrary” says his wife “with hugs, we tried with love.” I mention the mock-castration, “Ha, castrate!” the farmer shouts. “What else? Those are some memories he has!”

Some of the farmhouses have been dismantled and erected as part of the exhibition

Some of the farmhouses have been dismantled and erected as part of the exhibition

Farmhouses have been erected at the museum to show traditional rural life in Switzerland

It infuriates him when I say Christian said he felt as if he were a contract child. “No, he wasn’t a contract child, he was no contract child, we had them as if they were our own children,” says the farmer.

“I don’t know where my journey will take me, I just know I want to fight for something”

Christian

I ask how it feels three decades on to have these allegations made against them. “It’s a saddening feeling, very sad,” says the farmer. His wife adds: “I was so attached to those two.”

But they refuse to see Christian. “We congratulate him on those lies he cooked up!” she says. The farmer adds: “I wouldn’t even look at such a person with my backside.”

Afterwards, I tell Christian there will be no meeting. “In some ways it makes me very, very sad because I was here, he had the opportunity to speak to me… I had prepared myself to talk to him and I would like to have confronted him with these questions in person and seen whether he would also have told me it was lies.”

Christian walks back to the car, limping because of his arthritis. On the way back he is silent. Just before reaching home he tells me he has the same feeling of dread he used to have when going back to the farm. He seems fragile.

“I don’t know where my journey will take me, I just know I want to fight for something that needs to be done,” he says. “And I want to take responsibility not just for my brother and myself but for others in my generation as well.”

Because it all happened so long ago, it is no longer possible for charges to be brought against the farmer, should the authorities have wanted to. Very few prosecutions have ever taken place against the foster parents of contract children, or the social workers who failed them.

Quote: "You'd somehow like to be normal, you'd like to pretend this had somehow never happened"
Girl who was a contract labourer

Girl who was a contract labourer

Sarah’s home is covered with pictures of her children and grandchildren. She has a happy marriage. Her family know nothing of her childhood. She keeps the file containing her records away from the house so there is no risk of it being discovered. She attends contract children support meetings in a different city so she won’t be recognised.

“I don’t want to stand in my children’s way – I don’t want them to be snubbed because of me because of my past,” she says. “Contract children still haven’t found their place in society, we’re still considered to be on a lower level, or even in the basement. That’s why I’d rather the neighbours didn’t know.”

David Gogniat used to be Bern president of the Hauliers Association, and some members found out recently that he had been a contract child. “It then turned out some people I had done business with had grown up just like me,” he says. “They later founded a club and a few weeks ago they invited me to visit, so I am now a member.”

His goal is to get compensation for former contract children. “I was lucky to be healthy so I was able to work and managed to make a life for myself,” he says. “But many were not that fortunate.”

Christian, now 42, is an artist. His home is decorated with his sculptures and pictures. His career choice is no coincidence. “My brother and I were never encouraged to put our feelings into words, to describe them, and of course to express them without fear,” he says. “Somehow I felt in art I learned to talk about my inner thoughts, the images inside me and also about the external impressions and images, so this path was very, very important for me.”

Christian's mother, 2014

Christian’s mother, 2014

His relationship with his mother has been damaged. “These events have completely torn my family apart,” he says. His mother agrees. “I would say we have grown apart, we don’t really have much in common,” she says. “It’s very difficult, even now.”

Christian says the experiences of his childhood have left huge scars.

“You understand you are different, but you don’t want to be different, you’d somehow like to be normal, you’d like to pretend this had somehow never happened.”

Archive photos of verdingkinder courtesy of Paul Senn (1901-1953), Bern Switzerland; Bernese Foundation of Photography, Film and Video, Kunstmuseum Bern, deposit Gottfried Keller Foundation. © Gottfried Keller Foundation, Bern.

Watch Kavita Puri’s report Switzerland: Stolen Childhoods on Our World at 11:30 GMT on Saturday 1 November and at 2230 GMT on Sunday 2 November on BBC World News. Assignment is on BBC World Service radio from Thursday.

Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine’s email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.

Immigration Issues/Life as a Young Woman in Mexico

***These articles contain material, especially the second, concerning violence against women, that may be a trigger for some people, and shouldn’t be read by children***

So, for all of the people who are against immigration to the US for Mexicans, read these and think about it. Who do you think encouraged their “War on Drugs?” starting in 1988? Who was our president then? Bush Sr.? Where is he now, when these stories are glossed through by the media? I knew it wasn’t good in Mexico, but I had no idea it was this bad. We should be granting political asylum, not sending people back to this. For a “War on Drugs” that our government started and conveniently forgot Mexico’s apparent cooperation at the time. We built bigger prisons, and I won’t even go into that. Mexico is paying in blood and the loss of thousands of their citizens.

REBLOGGED

Chairs with portraits of missing students are seen  during a march demanding justice for the 43 missing students along a street in Mexico City on October 22, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO//RONALDO SCHEMIDT        (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

attribution: AFP/Getty Images

Just over a month ago, 43 college students from the left-wing Ayotzinapa’s Normal School went into the town of Iguala, a city in southern Mexico, to protest against increasing university fees and imposed government educational reforms.  They’ve been missing ever since.

But that is only the start of the story. It gets much, much worse.

On September 26, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, wife of Iguala’s Mayor José Luis Abarca was in the town square giving a speech detailing her accomplishments as head of the municipal social services agency. There were rumors she would announce her candidacy for mayor to succeed her husband.
As she was beginning her speech, two busloads of the missing students arrived, intending to disrupt the speech. The students were studying to become rural school teachers. According to the Federal Attorney General’s Office, the mayor ordered the police to stop them.

There was a minor, non-violent clash with police. Then things went horribly wrong.

 After a minor clash with police the students “borrowed” three buses from the local bus station to return to Ayotzinapa and later travel to this year’s march in Mexico City commemorating the October 2, 1968 massacre in Tlatelolco, and were driving out of town when they were sprayed with machine gun fire by police and gunmen from the Guerrero Unidos (United Warriors) cartel.
Three students died, as well as a soccer player in a bus bringing a third division team to town that was also fired on, a taxi driver and his female passenger. One student who panicked and ran off when his classmates were rounded up by police and gang members was later found dead, his eyes gouged out and face flensed with a box cutter, in an act of gratuitous violence. Forty-three students were bundled into police cars and have disappeared.

In this May 8, 2014 photo, the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, right, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa meet with state government officials in Chilpancingo, Mexico. The mayor is fugitive and the whereabouts of his wife are unknown after the disappearance of 43 students during a Sept. 26 confrontation with local police that left six dead and more than 25 wounded. Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa is from a family with known ties to the Beltran Leyva cartel. Prosecutors had identified her late brother Alberto as a main lieutenant in the cartel and he was arrested in 2009, along with her father and mother. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

Former Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, at a meeting in Chilpancingo, Mexico, May 8, 2014. 43 students can’t just vanish without people noticing. a federal investigation was opened.
The Pineda’s are now on the run. Federal district attorney has determined the Pinedas are the “probable masterminds” of the crime and in collaboration with the local drug cartel — the Guerreros Unidos.

It gets worse.

After the head of the cartel was arrested he told police Pineda gave the order to “teach them a lesson”.

 “Everyone knew about their presumed connections to organized crime,” Alejandro Encinas, a senator from the mayor’s Democratic Revolution Party, told the Associated Press. “Nobody did anything, not the federal government, not the state government, not the party leadership.”

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2014 file photo, municipal police officers who are suspected of being involved in the disappearance of 43 students are marched to waiting transport at the Mexican attorney generals' organized crime unit headquarters in Mexico City. The government says it still does not know what happened to the young people after they were rounded up by local police in Iguala and allegedly handed over to gunmen from a drug cartel Sept. 26. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

Iguala police being arrested   The federal investigation soon showed that dozens of the local police were police in name only. More than 30 were working directly for the cartel, and had turned the students over to the cartel after rounding them up. Some have already confessed and several cartel members have admitted to killing some of the students.

Meanwhile, a banner demanding the policemen’s release appeared in Iguala, signed by the Guerreros Unidos cartel. “Or else we will reveal the names of all the politicians who work for us. The war is just beginning,” the sign threatened.

Authorities are now searching the area for the mass graves of the students, and they have managed to find 12 mass graves with 38 bodies – none of them of the students.

85,000 people have been killed in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón launched his war on drugs. 22,000 of them went missing.
8,000 people have been reported missing or disappeared since current President Enrique Peña Nieto took office.
Nearly 40% of households in Mexico were effected by violent crime in 2013.
47,000 migrants have been killed  in the last 6 years.
1,500 people accused authorities of torture in 2013. 64% of Mexicans are afraid they will be tortured by authorities if they are detained.

In 2011, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that they had arrested more than 100 agents for working for the cartels since 2004.

One thing the murder of the students has managed to do is stir the public into protest.

In this Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 photo, demonstrators protest the disappearance of 43 students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico. Thousands of protesters marched along Acapulco's famed coastal boulevard Friday demanding the safe return of 43 missing students from a rural teachers college. The government is combing the hills of southern Guerrero state with horseback patrols and has divers looking in lakes and reservoirs behind dams, but has not found the youths missing since a confrontation with police Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

In response to all this violence and corruption, Mexico has turned to vigilante organizations, including at the protests for the missing students. Protesters have shut down 16 town halls in Guerrero in the last two weeks.
Vigilante groups are springing up all over Mexico, even near the Texas border.
It it scaring the Mexican government, both because they are popular, and because they are beyond the control of the government.

Originally posted to gjohnsit on Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 03:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mexican Kossacks, Subversive Agitation Team Action Network, Team DFH, New Jersey Kossacks, Protest Music, and LatinoKos.

Reblogged Nov. 5th, 2014 from Das Kos

 

 

RETRIEVED FROM REUTERS ONLINE (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/us-mexico-violence-women-idUSBREA2608F20140307) NOV. 5, 2014

 

Violence against women ‘pandemic’ in Mexico

ECATEPEC, Mexico Fri Mar 7, 2014 1:07am EST

Family members and friends stand next to a coffin holding the remains of Idaly Jauche Laguna in Ciudad Juarez December 27, 2013. Idaly disappeared in 2010 and her remains were found in 2012, positively identified by members of the Argentine Forensic Athropology team (EAFF), and handed over to the family. REUTERS-Jose Luis Gonzalez
A man carries a photograph of Idaly Jauche Laguna while walking to her funeral in Ciudad Juarez December 27, 2013. REUTERS-Jose Luis Gonzalez
A man hangs up a banner showing photographs of missing and dead women in Ecatepec April 23, 2013. Abductions, rapes and murders of women have all soared with more women being killed in Mexico than ever before. REUTERS-Henry Romero Family members and friends stand next to a coffin holding the remains of Idaly Jauche Laguna in Ciudad Juarez December 27, 2013. Idaly disappeared in 2010 and her remains were found in 2012, positively identified by members of the Argentine Forensic Athropology team (EAFF), and handed over to the family.

Credit: Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez

(Reuters) – So many teenage girls turned up dead in a vacant field on the outskirts of Mexico City that people nicknamed it the “women’s dumping ground.”

They began showing up in 2006, usually left among piles of garbage. Some were victims of domestic violence, others of drug gangs that have seized control of entire neighborhoods in the gritty town of Ecatepec, northeast of the capital.

The lot has since been cleared and declared an ecological reserve. But its grisly past is not forgotten and the killings have only accelerated.

Dulce Cristina Payan, 17, was one of the victims. Two years ago, armed men pulled up in a pickup truck and dragged her and her boyfriend away from the porch of her home. He was tossed from the truck within a few blocks but she was taken away and murdered, stabbed repeatedly in the face and stomach.

Her father, Pedro Payan, believes the killers belonged to La Familia, a violent drug gang operating in Ecatepec, and that Dulce Cristina was murdered when she resisted rape.

“I think my daughter defended herself, because her nails were broken, and her knuckles were scraped,” sobbed Payan, a former police officer who now sells pirated DVDs from his home to get by. “She had a strong character.”

As drug violence has escalated across Mexico in the past seven years, the rule of law has collapsed in some of the toughest cities and neighborhoods. When that happens, local gangs take control, imposing their will on residents and feeding a culture of extreme violence.

Abductions, rapes and murders of women have all soared with more women being killed in Mexico than ever before.

Since former President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive on the drug cartels at the end of 2006, over 85,000 people have died. Between 2007 and 2012, total murders rose 112 percent. Most are young men but the number of women killed shot up 155 percent to 2,764 in 2012, official data shows.

Corruption and incompetence are rampant in under-funded police forces across Mexico and the vast majority of murders are never solved. Families routinely complain that police show little interest in the cases of missing women.

The parents of Barbara Reyes spent 18 months looking for her after she disappeared in August 2011 from Cuautitlan Izcalli, near Ecatepec. They finally discovered that their daughter’s body had been found by authorities within two months of her disappearance and was dumped into a mass grave with other unidentified corpses at a cemetery.

“To this day we really don’t know what happened to our daughter,” her father, Alejandro Reyes, said in the living room of their home, sitting next to a photograph of Barbara smiling.

‘PANDEMIC’

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December 2012, has pledged to reduce drugs war violence but has not made major changes to the security policies pursued by Calderon. Nor has he done much to tackle murders of women, experts say.

Before becoming president, he was governor of the State of Mexico, which encircles much of Mexico City and is home to Ecatepec. In the second half of his 2005-2011 term as governor, the murders of women doubled in the state.

“Violence against women isn’t an epidemic, it’s a pandemic in Mexico,” said Ana Guezmez, Mexico’s representative for United Nations Women, the U.N. entity for gender equality.

“We still don’t see it as a central theme of the current administration. You have to send a much stronger message.”

Experts say the spike in violence against women is worst in areas hit hard by the drugs war, similar to what happens during civil wars like those in Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Women in conflict zones are often seen as “territory” to be conquered, and raping and murdering women a way to intimidate rival gangs and the local population. Authorities say victims are getting younger and the attacks more violent.

In northeastern Mexico, a major drugs battleground, the number of women slain jumped over 500 percent between 2001 and 2010, according to a study by Mexico’s National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women.

Guezmez says public violence against women intensifies when crime gangs take control. “It’s associated with rape and displaying the body in public places. A lot more brutal.”

The U.S.-Mexico border has long been a dangerous place for women. More than one-fifth of the women killed in Mexico in 2012 were slain in three of the four states neighboring Texas, according to the national statistics agency.

Most infamous is Chihuahua, home to Ciudad Juarez, where hundreds of women were murdered or kidnapped in the 1990s.

With 22.7 murders for every 100,000 women in 2012, Chihuahua is still Mexico’s most dangerous state for women.

None of the figures include the many women who have gone missing or those corpses that are so badly mutilated that authorities cannot even identify their gender.

About 4,000 women disappeared in Mexico in 2011-2012, mostly in Chihuahua and the State of Mexico, according to the National Observatory Against Femicide.

It says many are forced into prostitution, a lucrative business for drug cartels expanding their portfolios.

The gangs even prey on women migrants looking to get to the United States. In the desert between Mexicali and Tecate on the U.S. border, rapists are so brazen that they flaunt their crimes by displaying their victims’ underwear on trees.

Central American migrants trekking to the U.S. border often take contraceptive pills with them because as many as six of 10 are raped passing through Mexico, Amnesty International says.

Human rights groups say security forces are often involved in sexual abuse and disappearance of women.

IMPUNITY

International pressure over the tide of killings persuaded Mexican lawmakers in 2007 to approve new legislation aimed at preventing violence against women.

Defining femicide as the “most extreme form of gender violence,” it created a national body to prevent the killings, and urged judges to sign protective orders for abuse victims.

The law also established so-called gender violence alerts, a tool to mobilize national, state and local governments to catch perpetrators and reduce murders. Yet in practice the gender alert has never been activated.

Pena Nieto in November pledged a broad response that includes fast-tracking protective orders and making the gender alert more effective. But doubts persist about how effective such measures can be against an overburdened, weak and often corrupt justice system.

“Violence against women is so rife in Mexico that there’s no political cost for those who don’t deal with the issue,” said a top international expert involved with the matter who didn’t want to be identified so he could speak freely.

When Payan, the former policeman living in Ecatepec, heard his daughter’s screams as she was dragged from their home, he and his neighbors gave chase. Witnesses led them to a house a few miles away, but when they arrived she was already dead.

Locals helped relatives track down the killers, but it took months for police to start interviewing witnesses.

One suspect was charged with the teen’s kidnapping but he was released after posting bail. The other two were jailed for the rapes of other women from the same neighborhood but have yet to be charged in Dulce Cristina’s murder.

The State of Mexico’s attorney general declined to be interviewed over the case.

So widespread is the impunity that barely 8 percent of crimes are reported, according to national statistics. Witnesses and victims alike are afraid to testify.

Jessica Lucero, 14, was raped in June 2012 near Ecatepec and reported the crime, implicating a neighbor. Within a month, she was raped again and killed.

At the “ecological reserve” in Ecatepec where women used to be dumped, a policeman who can only see out of one eye because of glaucoma stands guard.

“The truth is that against these people there is little we can do,” he said of the gangs. “We are also helpless.”

(Editing by Kieran Murray and Cynthia Osterman)

 

Estar con Dios.

Living in a Box: gender and genre

KJ is an intelligent, thoughtful woman whose words often make me think and return to them long after I’ve read them. She’s also a great writer of m/m fiction, one of my favorites–it’s so easy to fall into one of her books because the characters are brilliant, as is the dialogue, the world so real, the stories so captivating, they’re just hard to leave.

KJ Charles

A lot of people are angry about the gendering of children’s books. Well, just look.
activity books
Boys are brilliant, girls are beautiful. Boys have adventures, girls are surrounded with pretty ornaments. Check out @lettoysbetoys if you want to go into the whole sordid mass of pink and blue that is gendered children’s publishing.

Just to head off two things at the pass:

1) It is perfectly possibly to publish for kids who like pretty frilly things (or things that go, or dinosaurs, or adventure) without slapping a gender exclusion on it. Usborne and Parragon have both stopped publishing specifically ‘Girls Activity/Sticker/Doodle’ books without noticeably reducing their output. @LetToysBeToys tweeted this interesting image just today from one of the most obnoxious purveyors of gendering. See? Not that hard, is it?

neutral

2) Girls’ and boys’ brains are not ‘hard wired’ to like particular colours. Any preference is entirely cultural. A Ladies’ Home Journal…

View original post 1,150 more words

%d bloggers like this: