Category Archives: English archives

Betty Freidan: how to be voluble, sexy and liberated – archive, 1971

15 January 1971 Michael Behr meets The Feminine Mystique author and leading American feminist

Betty Friedan speaks in New York’s Central Park, 26 August 1971.

Betty Friedan speaks in New York’s Central Park, 26 August 1971.
Photograph: AP

The tall, elegant young woman in the black Stetson hat who stopped me outside the Rockefeller Centre in New York, had something important to hand to me. That is to say, it was important to her and to hundreds of thousands of women like her in the United States who are still waiting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which promises equal employment rights for women, to be enforced. The paper she pressed into my hand argued her case in passionate, if slightly smudged prose; it also demanded 24-hour a day childcare centres and the freeing of abortions from restriction.

And the fact that these women of New York are enthusiastically stomping their case on the side-walks and the streets of the city, is the achievement of one woman more than any other – Mrs Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique; founder of NOW (National Organisation of Women); and today the woman most likely to succeed in bringing a useful notoriety to the activities of Women’s Liberation. Taxi drivers recognise her, journalists crowd into her press conferences, and the lectures which she delivers at university campuses all over the US are a sell-out.

And yet the restless mind and over-driven body of the 49-year-old woman who might be called the founding mother of the Women’s Liberation Movement, (a loose grouping of over 100 women’s associations) carries the burden of a strange set of paradoxes – she has been all but disowned by her own organisation, NOW, who nevertheless cannot do without the publicity she brings them; her crusade for deeper and fuller lives for women has resulted in the ending of her own 20 years of marriage, and her real calling, that of a writer, has been pressed into the background by her increasing, almost unceasing, political activities.

Splendid effect
The Betty Friedan of today is a voluble, sexy, Jewish woman who can dress herself up with splendid effect and attract intelligent and distinguished men as her admirers – she is also a woman whose face is a magnificent map of the emotions, generated by nearly half a century’s ardent living. Born in a small town in Illinois, even as a schoolgirl she found difficulty in reconciling a brilliant scholastic mind with the functions expected of women in the twenties. Her student days in the thirties brought her even less contentment; there were unhappy love affairs, one of which terminated a promising research Fellowship at Berkeley.

It was in New York, in Greenwich Village, where she worked as a journalist, that she met her future husband Carl Frieda, volatile and bohemian director of experimental theatre projects, and perhaps the catalyst who was to open out her hidden drives and frustrations – possibly even helping her to dramatise them. Later, after a second child was born, and Carl had joined the establishment as an adman, psychoanalysis relieved her of other hidden aggressions: “I was appalled – I admitted to myself for the first time that I actually hated my mother. She was a promising journalist who sacrificed her career to keep house for my father, a small-town jeweller. Next I had to admit that I was following in her footsteps. Work saved me – I freelanced dozens of magazine articles – but always with the knowledge that I was silently battling with Carl to do it. He couldn’t help resenting the money I earned.”

The outcome of ten years’ upheaval, both emotional and intellectual, was her bestselling book The Feminine Mystique (1963). It was her touchstone, and she put everything into it: the frustrations of marriage, child-raising, housekeeping, that she had experienced herself, and observed her contemporaries from college experiencing; the disappointments of a brilliantly promising intellectual career; the bitterness of a warm and vital woman whose talents had made her seem “different” and therefore unacceptable to the boys and men she grew up with.

Militant radical
“I really believed in that book. It started as a magazine article on the unhappiness of all on housewives, and grew over five years in the writing to a whole statement of my beliefs. My publishers took it grudgingly – they’d long ago regretted their original advance to me – and I had to hire a public relations firm to sell it. My God, how I pushed it! I went on every television talkshow in the country – once I really got mad, and just yelled out ‘orgasm!’ as loud as I could in the middle of a programme. It was the only way to stop some man from needling me. Anyway, the hard-sell worked – the book sold by the millions and made me over $100,000. I was called a militant radical. That would make some of the women’s liberation laugh now – they think I’m a real reactionary square”.

Betty Friedan is a woman. She has no hatred or resentment of men, as some later recruits to Women’s Liberation have. She states publicly and repeatedly that a world of aggressive maleness is as unattractive to men as it to women. Privately, she says the same about aggressive femaleness. A compulsive talker, garrulous, and often off the point, she nevertheless convinces by her unashamed acceptance of what it is to be a human being. She’s emotional, even contradictory, but if she’s wrong, it could be about the “wrong” things – because on the “right” ones, she’s doing fine.

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Author: Michael Behr

Noted character actor Peter Mark Richman dies at 93

The Conversation

The Confederate battle flag, which rioters flew inside the US Capitol, has long been a symbol of white insurrection

A historic first: the Confederate battle flag inside the U.S. Capitol. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesConfederate soldiers never reached the Capitol during the Civil War. But the Confederate battle flag was flown by rioters in the U.S. Capitol building for the first time ever on Jan. 6. The flag’s prominence in the Capitol riot comes as no surprise to those who, like me, know its history: Since its debut during the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag has been flown regularly by white insurrectionists and reactionaries fighting against rising tides of newly won Black political power. An 1897 lithograph shows changes in Confederate flag design. The ‘Southern Cross’ design, chosen to visually distinguish Confederates from Union soldiers in battle, became a symbol of white insurrection. Library of Congress via National Geographic The infamous diagonal blue cross with white stars on a red background was never the Confederacy’s official symbol. The Confederacy’s original “stars and bars” design was too similar to the U.S. flag, which led to confusion on the battlefields, where troop positions were marked by flags. The official flag went through a series of changes in attempts to distinguish Confederate from Union troops. The Confederacy would ultimately adopt the “Southern Cross” as its battle flag – cementing it as a symbol of white insurrection. While it is technically the battle flag, it has been used the most, and therefore has become known more generally as the Confederate flag. The Confederate battle flag figures prominently in this depiction of the 1864 battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Kurz and Allison, restoration by Adam Cuerden, via Wikimedia Commons The original emblem Six decades before the Nazi swastika became an instantly recognizable symbol of white supremacists, the Confederate battle flag flew over the forces of the insurgent Confederate States of America – military troops organized in revolt against the idea that the federal government could outlaw slavery. The founding documents of the Confederacy make its goals of white supremacy and preservation of slavery explicitly clear. In March 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens declared of the Confederacy, “its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” The documents drafted by seceding states make this same point. Mississippi’s declaration, for instance, was very specific: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.” Rioting white students at University of Mississippi hoist a Confederate battle flag in a backlash against James Meredith’s attendance as the first Black student in 1962. Bettman via Getty Images Backlash against racial integration After the Civil War, Confederate veterans groups used the flag at their meetings to commemorate fallen soldiers, but otherwise the flag mostly disappeared from public life. After World War II, though, the flag surfaced as part of a backlash against racial integration. Black soldiers who fought discrimination abroad experienced discrimination when they came home. Racist violence against Black veterans who had returned from battle prompted President Harry Truman to issue an executive order desegregating the military and banning discrimination in federal hiring. Truman also asked Congress to pass a federal ban on lynching, one of nearly 200 unsuccessful attempts to do so. In 1948, the retaliation for Truman’s integration efforts came, and the Confederate battle flag resurfaced as a symbol of white supremacist public intimidation. That year, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat, ran for president as the leader of a new political party of segregationist Southern Democrats, nicknamed the “Dixiecrats.” At their rallies and riots, they opposed Truman’s integration under the banner of the Confederate battle flag. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, white Southerners flew the Confederate battle flag at riots – including violent ones – to oppose racial integration, especially in schools. For example, in 1962, white students at the University of Mississippi hoisted it at a riot defying James Meredith’s enrollment as the university’s first Black student. It took the deployment of 30,000 U.S. troops, federal marshals and National Guardsmen to get Meredith to class after the violent race riot left two dead. Historian William Doyle called the riot – which featured the Confederate battle flag at its center – an “American insurrection.” Charleston, Charlottesville and the Capitol More recently, the Black Lives Matter era has seen an increase in violent incidents involving the Confederate battle flag. It has now featured prominently in at least three recent major violent events carried out by people on the far right. In 2015, a white supremacist who had posed with the Confederate battle flag online killed nine Black parishioners during a prayer meeting at their church. In 2017, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists carried the battle flag when they marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, seeking to prevent the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of anti-racist counterprotestors, killing Heather Heyer. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] At the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, an image of an insurrectionist toting the Confederate battle flag inside the Capitol building arguably distills the siege’s dark historical context. In the background of the photo are the portraits of two Civil War-era U.S. senators – one an ardent proponent of slavery and the other an abolitionist once beaten unconscious for his views on the Senate floor. A man carries the Confederate battle flag in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, between portraits of senators who both opposed and supported slavery. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images The flag has always represented white resistance to increasing Black power. It may be a coincidence of exact timing, but certainly not of context, that the riot happened the day after Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won U.S. Senate seats representing Georgia. Respectively, they are the first Black and first Jewish senators from the former Confederate state. Warnock will be only the second Black senator from below the Mason-Dixon Line since Reconstruction. Their historic victories – and President-elect Joe Biden’s – in Georgia happened through large-scale organizing and turnout of people of color, especially Black people. Since 2014, nearly 2 million voters have been added to the rolls in Georgia, signaling a new bloc of Black voting power. It should come as no surprise, then, that today’s white insurrectionists opposed to the shifting tides of power identify with the Confederate battle flag.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jordan Brasher, Columbus State University. Read more:Capitol siege raises questions over extent of white supremacist infiltration of US policeA second impeachment is just the start of Trump’s legal woes Jordan Brasher does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Virginia gang killer executed by U.S. despite Covid infection

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The U.S. government executed a drug trafficker Thursday for his involvement in a series of slayings in Virginia’s capital city in 1992, despite claims by his lawyers that the lethal injection would cause excruciating pain due to lung damage from his recent Covid-19 infection.

Corey Johnson, 52, was the 12th inmate put to death at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, since the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17-year hiatus.

He was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m.

Johnson’s execution and Friday’s scheduled execution of Dustin Higgs are the last before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes the federal death penalty and has signaled he’ll end its use. Both inmates contracted Covid-19 and won temporary stays of execution this week for that reason, only for higher courts to allow the lethal injections to move forward.

Lawyers have previously argued the lethal injections of pentobarbital caused flash pulmonary edema, where fluid rapidly fills the lungs, sparking sensations akin to drowning. The new claim was that fluid would rush into the inmates’ Covid-damaged lungs immediately while they were still conscious.

Johnson was implicated in one of the worst bursts of gang violence Richmond had ever seen, with 11 people killed in a 45-day period. He and two other members of the Newtowne gang were sentenced to death under a federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers.

Image: (Joseph C. Garza / The Tribune-Star via AP)
Image: (Joseph C. Garza / The Tribune-Star via AP)

In their clemency petition, Johnson’s lawyers asked President Donald Trump to commute his death sentence to life in prison. They described a traumatic childhood in which he was physically abused by his drug-addicted mother and her boyfriends, abandoned at age 13, then shuffled between residential and institutional facilities until he aged out of the foster care system. They cited numerous childhood IQ tests discovered after he was sentenced that place him in the mentally disabled category and say testing during his time in prison shows he can read and write at only an elementary school level.

In a final statement, Johnson said he was “sorry for my crimes” and said he wanted the victims to be remembered. He said the pizza and strawberry shake he ate and drank before the execution “were wonderful” but he didn’t get the doughnuts he wanted. He also thanked his minister and lawyer.

“I am okay,” he said. “I am at peace.”

In a statement, Johnson’s lawyers said the government executed a person “with an intellectual disability, in stark violation of the Constitution and federal law” and vehemently denied he had the mental capacity to be a so-called drug kingpin.

“The government’s arbitrary rush to execute Mr. Johnson, who was categorically ineligible for execution due to his significant impairments, rested on procedural technicalities rather than any serious dispute that he was intellectually disabled,” the attorneys, Donald Salzman and Ronald Tabak, said.

Government filings have spelled Johnson’s name “Cory,” but his lawyers say he spells it “Corey.”

Richard Benedict, who was Johnson’s special education teacher at a New York school for emotionally troubled kids, said Johnson was hyperactive, anxious and reading and writing at a second- or third-grade level when he was 16 and 17.

“I had to have someone walk him to the bathroom because he just couldn’t get back to the classroom,” Benedict said.

Prosecutors, however, said Johnson had not shown that he was mentally disabled.

“While rejecting that he has intellectual disabilities that preclude his death sentences, courts have repeatedly and correctly concluded that Johnson’s seven murders were planned to advance his drug trafficking and were not impulsive acts by someone incapable of capable making calculated judgments, and are therefore eligible for the death penalty,” prosecutors argue in court documents.

A defense psychologist testified during the trial that Johnson’s IQ was measured at 77, above the threshold score of 75 then needed to label someone as intellectually disabled. Johnson’s appellate lawyers say that psychologist was not an expert in intellectual disability and relied on standards that are now outdated.

C.T. Woody Jr., the lead homicide detective on the case, said that during his interrogations of Johnson, he denied any involvement in the killings and said police were trying to frame him because of lies people were telling about him.

“It did not seem to me that he had any kind of mental problems at all except his viciousness and no respect for human life — none whatsoever,” Woody said.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Vick Jr., one of the prosecutors in the case, said the violence committed by Johnson and his fellow gang members was unmatched at the time. One of the gang’s victims was stabbed 85 times and another was shot 16 times. Johnson was convicted of being the shooter in a triple slaying, and participating in four other capital murders, including shooting a rival drug dealer 15 times.

“The heinousness of the crimes, the utter senselessness of the crimes, the crimes themselves warranted the seeking of the death penalty this case,” Vick said.

In his clemency petition, Johnson’s lawyers said he has repeatedly expressed “sincere remorse” for his crimes.

“I’m sorry for the great number of people who are dead, you know, and there is a lot on us, and I feel we are no angels,” he said during his sentencing hearing. He also spoke to a group of students present in the courtroom that day and urged them not to commit crimes or make the mistakes he had made in his life.

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Feds edge closer to sedition charge in Capitol riot aftermath

Federal prosecutors on Thursday for the first time described last week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol as a “violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government” — and one they consider to still be underway.

The language was included in a filing in federal district court in Arizona, intended to deny bail to Jacob Anthony Chansley, a man they describe as “an active participant in” and “the most prominent symbol of” the insurrection.

Chansley, an Arizonan who also goes by Jacob Angeli and “Q Shaman,” has become a social media fixture in the aftermath of the mob violence at the Capitol, which left five dead and resulted in the impeachment of President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” A shirtless Chansley has been seen in numerous pictures carrying a six-foot spear, donning horns, a coyote tail headdress and face paint — including one on the Senate’s rostrum.

Prosecutors say Chansley has expressed his intention of returning to Washington for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — and that his pending criminal case is unlikely to be a deterrent.

“Chansley told the FBI prior to his arrest that he’ll ‘still go, you better believe it,’” prosecutors said in the 18-page filing. “His status as a symbol of the insurrection, his actions inside the Capitol building, and his demonstrated disregard of orders while inside with the goal of disrupting official Congressional proceedings, demonstrate the danger his release would pose.”

“At this juncture in our Nation’s history,” they continued, “it is hard to imagine a greater risk to our democracy and community than the armed revolution of which Chansley has made himself the symbol.”

Chansley was indicted by a Washington grand jury Monday on six charges, including two felonies: impeding law enforcement during civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. The other charges are misdemeanors, although the indictment does claim at one point that Chansley was engaged in “an effort to prevent the Electoral College votes from being certified.”

Though the filing focuses on Chansley, it also spells out clearly the government’s view of an ongoing “insurrection movement” that is reaching a potential climax as Biden’s inauguration approaches. The filing cites media and FBI reports detailing planned armed protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington D.C. in the runup to Inauguration Day.

Though the government now describes Chansley’s involvement in last week’s Capitol riots as part of a broad and sinister government overthrow attempt, he has not been charged with any of the gravest crimes related to such an effort — such as sedition or insurrection. But FBI and Justice Department officials have emphasized that more serious charges are on the horizon, after an initial round of lesser charges were leveled to ensure they corralled some of the most dangerous offenders.

While prosecutors are recommending that Chansley be detained pending trial, the court’s pretrial services agency recommended that he be released with conditions on his movements to reduce the chance that he would pose a threat as he awaits his day in court. But the government said evidence it has uncovered made that recommendation imprudent.

“Media and FBI reports have detailed carefully-planned insurrection attempts scheduled throughout the country in the coming weeks at every state capital, including the Arizona’s capitol,” prosecutors said. “As he admitted, and as corroborated by the items in his car, Chansley expected to go there after his FBI interview (if he had not been arrested).”

The government also described releasing Chansley as particularly risky because of his association with Qanon, which it called a “dangerous anti-government conspiracy” that has treated him as a leader, helped him travel “off-the-grid” and “fundraise rapidly through unconventional means.” Prosecutors also note he is a “repeated drug user” who is “unable to appreciate reality.”

A federal magistrate judge in Phoenix is scheduled to hold a bail hearing for Chansley on Friday afternoon.

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Trump’s China tech war backfires on automakers as chips run short

By Ben Klayman and Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Automakers around the world are shutting assembly lines because of a global shortage of semiconductors that in some cases has been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s actions against key Chinese chip factories, industry officials said.

The shortage, which caught much of the industry off-guard and could continue for many months, is now causing Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp and Toyota Motor Corp to curtail production in the United States.

Automakers affected in other markets include Volkswagen, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The problems stem from a confluence of factors as auto manufacturers compete against the sprawling consumer electronics industry for chip supplies. Consumers have stocked up on laptops, gaming consoles and other electronic products during the pandemic, creating tight chip supplies throughout 2020.

They have also bought more cars than industry officials expected last spring, further straining supplies.

In at least one case, the shortage ties back to President Donald Trump’s policies aimed at curtailing technology transfers to China.

One automaker moved chip production from China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, or SMIC, which was hit with U.S. government restrictions in December, to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co in Taiwan, which in turn was overbooked, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

An auto supplier confirmed TSMC has been unable to keep up with demand.

“The systemic aspect of the crisis is giving us a headache,” said a supplier executive, who asked not to be identified. “In some cases, we find substitution parts that could make us independent from TSMC, only to discover that the alternative wafer manufacturer has no capacity available.”

TSMC and SMIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On an earnings call with investors Thursday, TSMC Chief Executive C.C. Wei said there was a shortage of automotive chips made with “mature technology” and that it is working with customers “to mitigate the shortage impact.”

It only takes the tiniest of chips to throw off production: a Ford plant in Kentucky that makes the Escape sport utility vehicle idled because of a shortage of a chip in the vehicle’s brake system, a union official in the plant said.

Ford also will idle its Focus plant in Saarlouis, Germany, for a month starting next week because of chip shortages.

The situation is unlikely to improve quickly, since all chips, whether bound for a laptop or a Lexus, start life as a silicon wafer that takes about 90 days to process into a chip.

The chipmaking industry has always strained to keep up with sudden demand spikes. The factories that produce wafers cost tens of billions of dollars to build, and expanding their capacity can take up to a year for testing and qualifying complex tools.

“The long and short of it is, demand is up about 50%. And there’s no asset-intensive industry like ours that has 50% capacity lying around,” said Mike Hogan, senior vice president at chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries and head of its automotive unit.


Tight capacity and soaring demand has made it difficult for chip producers to absorb two shocks from the Trump administration.

First, the White House in September banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the Chinese telecommunications giant and a major smartphone maker, from buying chips made with American technology. Huawei stockpiled chips ahead of the ban in order to keep building what products it could after it took effect. And Huawei’s rivals, eyeing a chance to grab market share, started snapping up chips, analysts said.

Second, the U.S. government enacted rules that bar SMIC from using some U.S. tools to make chips, a move that has prompted at least some of SMIC’s customers to look for a different chip factory because of concerns that production could be disrupted.

“There’s a fear of using a Chinese chip factory if the United States is going to put them on an entity list,” said Daniel Goehl, chief business officer of UltraSense Systems, referring to possible further restrictions.

A Commerce Department spokesman declined to comment on the implications of the SMIC and Huawei blacklistings for the auto sector but said that the top priority was “to ensure the Export Administration Regulation protects U.S. national security, economic security, and foreign policy interests.”

Analysts said the automotive chip shortage is likely to persist for as long as six months. An AutoForecast Solutions report estimated the global auto industry had already experienced lost volume of 202,000 vehicles as of Jan. 13.

Executives at automakers and suppliers said they are adapting production schedules to protect chips used in higher-profit vehicles. And companies are weighing sourcing chips from more suppliers and increasing inventory levels in the future.

“It’s four-dimensional chess all day long,” said one auto official, who asked not to be identified.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Haiti braces for unrest as opposition demands new president

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Flying rocks. Burning tires. Acrid smoke. Deadly gunfire.

Haiti braced for a fresh round of widespread protests starting Friday, with opposition leaders demanding that President Jovenel Moïse step down next month, worried he is amassing too much power as he enters his second year of rule by decree.

“The priority right now is to put in place another economic, social and political system,” André Michel, of the opposition coalition Democratic and Popular Sector, said by phone. “It is clear that Moïse is hanging on to power.”

Opposition leaders are demanding Moïse’s resignation and legislative elections to restart a Parliament dissolved a year ago.

They claim that Moïse’s five-year term is legally ending — that it began when former President Michel Martelly’s term expired in February 2016. But Moïse maintains his term began when he actually took office in early 2017, an inauguration delayed by a chaotic election process that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap.

Haiti’s international backers have echoed some of the opposition’s concerns, calling for parliamentary elections as soon as possible. They were originally scheduled for October 2019 but were delayed by political gridlock and protests that paralyzed much of the country, forcing schools, businesses and several government offices to close for weeks at a time.

Some in the international community also condemned several of Moïse’s decrees.

One of those limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and had accused Moïse and other officials of embezzlement and fraud involving a Venezuelan program which provided cheap oil. Moïse and others have rejected those accusations.

Moïse also decreed that acts such as robbery, arson and blocking public roads — a common ploy during protests — would be classed as terrorism and subject to heavy penalties. He also created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.

The Core Group, which includes officials from the United Nations, U.S., Canada and France, questioned those moves.

“The decree creating the National Intelligence Agency gives the agents of this institution quasi-immunity, thus opening up the possibility of abuse,” the group said in a recent statement. “These two presidential decrees, issued in areas that fall within the competence of a Parliament, do not seem to conform to certain fundamental principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the civil and political rights of citizens.”

Moïse has dismissed such concerns and vowed to move forward at his own pace.

In a New Year’s tweet, he called 2021 “a very important year for the future of the country.” He has called for a constitutional referendum in April followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in September, with runoffs scheduled for November.

“There is no doubt elections will happen,” Foreign Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press, rejecting calls that Moïse step down in February. “Haiti cannot afford another transition. We need to let democracy work the way it should.”

Joseph said Moïse remains open to dialogue and is ready to meet anytime with opposition leaders to solve the political stalemate.

He also said the constitutional referendum won’t give Moïse more power but said changes are needed to the 1987 document.

“It is a source of instability. It does not have checks and balances. It gives extraordinary power to the Parliament that abuses this power over and over,” Joseph said. “It’s not the president’s own personal project. It’s a national project.”

While officials haven’t released details of the referendum, one of the members of the consulting committee, Louis Naud Pierre, told radio station Magik9 last week that proposals include creating a unicameral Parliament to replace the current Senate and Chamber of Deputies, extending parliamentary terms and giving Haitians who live abroad more power.

The referendum and flurry of decrees are frustrating many Haitians, including Rose-Ducast Dupont, a mother of three who sells perfumes on the sidewalks of Delmas, a neighborhood in the capital.

“The political problems in my country have been dragging on for too long,” she said. “They are never able to find a solution for the nation. … We are the ones suffering.”

The nation of more than 11 million people has grown increasingly unstable under Moïse, who received more than 50% of the vote but with only 21% voter turnout.

Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016. Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence resurging, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming more scarce at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day.

“I don’t have a life,” said Jean-Marc François, who wants Moïse gone. “I don’t have any savings. I have three kids. I have to survive day by day with no guarantee that I’ll come home with bread to put on the table.”

Some days he works in construction; others he does yardwork or disposes of garbage or moves boxes at warehouses, which sometimes pays 500 gourdes ($7) a day.

François said he won’t take part in the “circus act” of voting in the referendum or elections.

“We’re talking about voting for a new president? A new constitution? Deputies and senators? They’re all going to be the same,” he said. “This is a country of corruption.”

Moïse has faced numerous calls for resignation since taking office, with protests roiling Haiti since late 2017. The demonstrations have been fueled largely by demands for better living conditions and anger over crime, corruption allegations and price increases after the government ended fuel subsidies.

The most violent protests occurred in 2019, with dozens killed, and some worry about even more violence as the opposition steps up its demands that Moïse resign amid fears that elections will be delayed once more.

“Can the current status quo continue for another year?” said Jake Johnston, senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “Moïse can announce an electoral calendar … but what signs are there that that’s going to actually happen?”


Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Colbert Brutally Mocks Jared and Ivanka’s Secret Service Toilet Debacle

It was a story that seemed like it was written for late-night television.

As the Washington Post lede read, “Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to Cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, they had a new worry: finding a toilet.”

What followed was an increasingly hilarious and absurd tale about the couple’s refusal to let the Secret Service agents tasked with protecting them use any of their six-and-a-half bathrooms, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a $3,000 per month basement studio just so they had somewhere to relieve themselves.

“For those of you who think you couldn’t dislike Jared and Ivanka more, we have an important update,” Stephen Colbert said during his monologue Thursday night before recounting the most absurd details of the story. “Although I do understand the Kushners’ toilets might be very busy right now with Jared and Ivanka flushing their social lives and political futures down them.”

As the Late Show host explained, at first the agents were using a bathroom in a garage at Barack and Michelle Obama’s house down the street but “this solution, too, was short-lived after a Secret Service supervisor from the Trump/Kushner detail left an unpleasant mess in the Obama bathroom.”

Jimmy Kimmel Roasts Rudy Giuliani for Getting Stiffed by Trump

After gleefully cheering President Donald Trump’s second impeachment on Wednesday night, Jimmy Kimmel had even more good news to celebrate on Thursday.

Not only has Trump already started moving out of the White House, but the president’s mood has been described as “sullen” and “vengeful” and he’s “even lashing out at his number one dirty deeds-doer Rudy Giuliani.” The host was referring to a new report from the Washington Post that Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani for his failed legal efforts to overturn the election results.

“Working for Trump and expecting to get paid is like having dinner with Chris Christie and expecting a doggie bag,” Kimmel joked. After noting that Giuliani’s rate is reportedly $20,000 per day, he added, “Money well spent.”

“He could’ve hired Gary Busey for a hundred bucks to do the same thing,” he added. “That’s a lot for an incompetent attorney.” And then, “I wonder who leaked this story… Maybe it was Giuliani’s head!”

Perhaps expecting that he won’t have the occasion to make any more jokes at Giuliani’s expense pretty soon, Kimmel decided to leave it all on the table.

Behind India’s coronavirus vaccine plan is an army of poorly paid female health workers

India’s mass immunisation plan for Covid-19 hinges on some of the lowest-paid workers in its healthcare system.

The first phase of the vaccine rollout, which begins on Jan. 16 and will cover healthcare and frontline workers, and will largely depend on trained vaccinators and supervisors. But once the vaccine rollout is opened out for the entire population, local healthcare mechanisms, especially those that depend on auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), and accredited social health activists (or Asha workers) will be crucial.

Asha workers (an acronym that translates as “hope” in Hindi), along with the volunteer Anganwadi workers, and the more qualified ANMs, form the backbone of community healthcare in India. They are hired by the states and their salaries paid by funds from the central and state governments. Nearly all of them are women.

Such community health workers, in some states, will also receive the vaccine in the first phase.

These workers are responsible for maternal and child health, immunisations, and for creating awareness about contraception and maternal-fetal wellbeing. ANMs, for instance, are key for India’s universal immunisation programme. These workers are also essential for delivering government healthcare schemes to the remotest and poorest corners of India. Currently, India has approximately 900,000 Asha workers, who go door-to-door in their trademark pink attire, handing out supplements to women and offer counsel to expectant mothers.

For the work that Asha workers do, they are paid a monthly salary of Rs2,000-Rs4,500 ($27-$62) depending on which state they belong to. Over and above this salary, which is officially called an honorarium, Asha workers receive small incentives for completing specific “recurring” tasks. These include tasks like updating lists of children to be immunised in the village or district under the Asha worker. An Asha worker is aged between 25 and 45, literate, and a married/widowed/divorced woman from the local community. According to the selection criteria, she also must have studied up to class 10.

Each Asha worker is responsible for 1,000-2,500 people in her district, and four to five Asha workers together report to one ANM. These qualified auxiliary nurses, who supervise and mentor Asha workers, are paid up to Rs30,000 if they are employed full-time. Those on limited contracts earn between Rs8,000 andRs10,000 every month.

But over the past few years, and especially since the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, community healthcare workers have been demanding better benefits and pay.

Asking for fair wages

Nearly 600,000 Asha workers sat on a two-day nationwide protest in August 2020, demanding better wages and health insurance against coronavirus.

Since India’s lockdowns and the spread of Covid-19, Asha workers said that they had been working 14 hours a day, documenting people’s quarantine schedules and tracking their districts for influenza-like symptoms.

In the eastern state of Bihar, Asha workers protested because their dues had not been cleared by the government for months. Elsewhere, Asha workers reported hostile attitudes from families from whom they had to collect data, including violence because of the fear of exposure to the virus.

Asha workers have no health insurance or government benefits because there is no full-time employment. This was also an aspect of the strike where, as healthcare workers, they demanded parity in such rights.

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Author: Manavi Kapur

‘Heresy’: historic art college’s fate could hang on a Diego Rivera mural

The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City has occupied an entire wall at the San Francisco Art Institute since Diego Rivera painted it there in 1931. A remarkable depiction of labor power in San Francisco’s industrial heyday, it is valued at roughly $50m – an enticing windfall for a school in serious jeopardy.

SFAI trustees have floated the idea of selling it as a last-ditch effort to keep one of the US’s oldest art colleges open after a years-long financial crisis. (George Lucas was reportedly an interested buyer.)

Facing a sharply diminished student body, SFAI begins the spring semester with an enormous hole in its operating budget. To plug it, the trustees have publicly mulled a once unthinkable divestment of the school’s most significant cultural patrimony, the mural by the Mexican modernist.

The move immediately proved controversial. The city’s board of supervisors convened a hearing, with one supervisor calling the potential sale “heresy” and a “crime against art”. Now, the mural is being granted landmark status, joining SFAI’s campus itself. Removing it would need the assent of San Francisco powerful Historic Preservation Commission.

As an alternative, SFAI hopes to endow the mural in situ. Pam Rorke Levy, chair of of SFAI’s board of trustees, was unable to comment on specifics but said by email that the school was in talks with other institutions over its future.

“As a non-collecting institution … several potential paths to financial stability could include endowing the mural in place … or major donor/s joining current contributors to create a well-funded endowment,” Levy wrote. “Regarding the Rivera, our first choice would be to endow the mural in place, attracting patrons or a partner organization who would create a substantial fund that would enable us to preserve, protect and present the mural to the public.”

Overlooking the city’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf, SFAI is unique in the US: a private institution of higher learning focused on pure art at the expense of more commercial degrees. You don’t matriculate at the San Francisco Art Institute to learn animation with the hope of getting a job at Pixar; you go there to be radical and make radical art.

Alumni include the film directors Spike Jonze and Kathryn Bigelow; the performance artist Karen Finley; and Kehinde Wiley, who painted the Obamas’ official White House portraits. But if SFAI’s history is illustrious, its finances have long been a mess. Amid an edifice complex, the Board of Trustees opened a 67,000-sq-ft satellite campus in a nearby former military installation, Fort Mason, in 2013, taking on millions in debt. Meanwhile, enrollment has dropped precipitously, owing as much to the perhaps questionable utility of a quarter-million-dollar art degree as to how inhospitable cities have become to young artists.

The San Francisco Art Institute in April.
The San Francisco Art Institute in April. Photograph: Eric Risberg/AP

Before the budget woes of the last few years, SFAI had been known for mounting ambitious exhibitions in its Brutalist gallery spaces. In Jill Magid’s The Proposal, she turned the cremains of the celebrated Mexican architect Luis Barragán into a diamond. For the underwater still-life photography in Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s 2015 show Everything But the Kitchen Sank, curators engineered supports for a 3,000-gallon water tank that weighed 12 tons, so it wouldn’t crush the classrooms below.

That turned out to be a prescient metaphor. At just shy of $70,000 a year, SFAI’s steep tuition demonstrates how cozy radical art-making has always been with economic privilege.

As Elizabeth Travelslight, a former adjunct union president, observed in reference to the near-total inability of creative twentysomethings to find cheap studio space in San Francisco: “Having the freedom to experiment comes at a much higher price than it used to.”

SFAI is also the last independent American arts school of its kind, its peers all either affiliated with museums or folded into larger universities. In light of its grim financial outlook, this refusal to change with the times by offering more marketable programs like graphic design or architecture seems less romantic and more quixotic – outright exploitative, even.

“The challenges that SFAI is experiencing are simply a kind of concentrated version of the challenges that other schools are facing and that have forced other schools to close,” says Hesse McGraw, SFAI’s former vice-president for exhibitions and public programs. “We’re witnessing a kind of extraordinary belief in the spirit of this school and what it’s represented over time – which is a place where magic happens, where students go and discover something about their peers and the world, what it means to be an artist, and to have impact on society.”

A detail from the mural.
A detail from the mural. Photograph: Courtesy San Francisco Art Institute

The pandemic certainly didn’t help. After a brush with academic de-accreditation, SFAI asked the University of California to intervene, and since October its leadership has in effect been the school’s landlord. But the financial picture is far from settled, with SFAI required to repay $19.7m in debt to UC by 2026 or vacate the campus.

Many faculty members blame the trustees for this state of affairs.

They “tried to raise the money for Fort Mason and they failed to do that – spectacularly failed”, says Art Hazelwood, a former adjunct faculty member who remains the union president. “When Covid came along, we already knew the school wasn’t going to survive. They were projecting that in March or April. They closed and reopened, and fired all of us.”

While SFAI has emphasized that it had 300 students at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, a former faculty member shared an email with the Guardian that specified a total of a mere seven undergrads and nine graduate students. Consequently, fewer instructors are needed.

“We had 75 or so adjuncts in our unit who were teaching, and now we have four,” says Hazelwood, who was among those terminated. “They have a full-time faculty that are still employed there, around 15 people, so they’re all still being paid. And four adjuncts, to teach 16 students. That’s a great ratio for an advertisement.”

Hazelwood estimates that the school needs roughly 400 tuition-paying students to remain solvent, and that selling the Rivera mural “would only have paid for two and a half years of operation.

“This is an institution that respects art and sells its most precious cultural legacy? It’s not a solution. It’s a hole that can’t be filled,” he says.

For now, the college is pushing ahead with a new public art piece, a three-night series of video projections against the campus’s neo-Italianate tower in late January.

In the meantime, upper-tier San Francisco real estate is in freefall. Around the corner from the school’s main campus – and one block downhill from the memorably curvy stretch of Lombard Street – a six-bedroom compound that once claimed to be San Francisco’s priciest dwelling sold last year for $27m, a 40% reduction from its 2018 listing price of $45m. In photos of the home, prospective buyers could clearly see SFAI’s tower, a visual selling point for not one overvalued property, but two.

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Author: Peter-Astrid Kane in San Francisco