CPP Denounces Docking of Another US Warship

Philippine Revolution Web Central

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today condemned the scheduled docking of another US warship in Manila as another “arrogant display of contempt of Philippine sovereignty”.

The destroyer USS Milius

The USS Milius is scheduled to arrive today and dock at Manila Bay for a four-day port call. “The docking of the USS Milius highlights the increasingly frequent arrival of interventionist troops of the US in the Philippines as the imperialist US government aim to further increase its presence and power projection activities in the Asia-Pacific.” Continue reading

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‘Why Do You Indians Always Live in the Past?’

by Mike Taylor

So, I recently took down my Facebook page. About a third of my many friends were Indians from various reservations around me; most of these had never gotten past their GED. The rest were white Mormons and white non-Mormons from Utah. This was an educated group and also a rather vocal one, constantly expressing their opinions on my Facebook wall and debating/arguing with other posters like themselves. The Indians, on the other hand, sent me frequent private messages, jokes and invites to join them for various parties, dinners and events on the rez but rarely posted publicly on my wall, although most of them keenly followed what one of them called the “white discussions.”

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One day, one of my Facebook friends ran into me on campus. He asked me, “Why do you always live in the past?” Continue reading

Sample Resolutions from the XX Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Resolution on Violence against Women

This 20th Congress of the CPI(M) expresses deep concern over the steep escalation in crimes against women, and is alarmed by the barbarity and savagery of the atrocities being committed at a time when women are entering public life, institutions of learning, and diverse work spheres in increasing numbers. The crude commodification of women and the portrayal of women as sex objects in the mass media is highly objectionable and is not only demeaning to women but creates an environment which trivialises the crime of sexual harassment and violence against women. Continue reading

Taser Death Toll Mounts

by Bob Briton

The death of Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti a fortnight ago has thrown the spotlight back on police use of Tasers. The victim was allegedly fleeing the scene of a crime – the theft of a packet of biscuits from a convenience store. Roberto was also capsicum sprayed. Over the years, media reports have created the impression that the targets of this type of weaponry are people presenting a danger to others in their vicinity or to police.

The 21-year-old Brazilian did not fit this frequently invoked profile. He was reported to be running away from police when shot in the back. It is unclear how many times he was Tasered. A witness reported a female officer kicking the student while he was being held on the ground. Continue reading

The Absurd Myths Porn Teaches Us About Sex

By Noah Brand and Ozy Frantz

Young people who have learned about sex from watching porn have a treasure trove of sadly mistaken beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
When Lynette, a college student, first hooked up with an ex-boyfriend, she came face to face with the unrealistic ideals mainstream porn can create about sexuality.

“I had a boyfriend who didn’t realize that women had pubic hair,” she tells us in an interview. “Because he had only watched porn, he had never seen a naked woman outside of porn, so he just sort of failed to realize they had pubic hair.”

“This came up somewhat before my pants came off,” she added, “so you can realize how awkward this was.” She paused. “His face was memorable. In an ‘oh God, what is wrong with me, I am never taking my pants off in front of anyone ever again’ way.”

Porn has become immensely popular in the last century. With the rise of Internet pornography, no longer do you have to enter a sleazy sex shop in a shady part of town to witness an astonishing panoply of sex acts. A quick Google brings you sex acts from the mundane (happy amateur couples having missionary intercourse) to the bizarre (could looners, who have a sexual fetish for balloons, ever have met each other outside the Internet?). Many teenagers have their first introduction to sex from the glow of a computer screen.

And these days, it can lead to some hilarious misconceptions.

Learning About Sex from Porn

Despite Rick Santorum’s newly declared war on porn, porn is not evil. Alan McKee, an Australian university professor and pornography researcher, tells AlterNet, “Pornography is good at teaching lifelong learning, open communication, that sexual development should not be aggressive, coercive, or joyless, self-acceptance, awareness and acceptance that sex is pleasurable, and competence in mediated sexuality.” In short, he claims that pornography can be the foundation to a healthy sex life—not to mention leading to many solo orgasms.

The problem is, learning about sex from porn is like learning about firearms from action movies. Action movies sacrifice realism for the sake of storyline or a really cool explosion. Action movies don’t teach you gun safety. Action movies don’t talk about alternatives to violence. And action movies use some tropes—such as the infinite ammo supply—that may move the story along but don’t reflect reality. That’s not a problem, as long as everyone treats them as entertaining fantasies.

Unfortunately, for many young people becoming sexually active today, the entertaining fantasies of mainstream porn are the teacher they’ve spent the most time with, and mainstream porn is a terrible teacher.

Talking to various young people about porn and sexuality, we quickly discovered a treasure trove of sadly mistaken beliefs about sex. A teenage boy who believed that all women, no matter how much they protested otherwise, really wanted to be called sluts when they had sex. Guys who think that foreplay is just jamming a few fingers up someone’s vagina before sex. People who didn’t know you need lube to have anal sex.

“I’ve met more than a few guys who were very surprised to discover that women more often masturbate by humping their hands or rubbing their clits than by penetrating themselves,” blogger Holly Pervocracy said.

“I actually had a guy tell me I was wrong,” Lynette said. “If I was rubbing my clit, it wasn’t real masturbation. He didn’t even know about the G spot; he thought I should be getting off on the friction of my fingers with my vagina.”

Women aren’t the only ones who fall victim to glaring anatomical mistakes. The giant, ever-hard, pounding penises of male mainstream porn stars are equally unrealistic. “My first boyfriend told me, in all seriousness, that he was pretty small—just seven and a half inches,” said Pervocracy. “He thought nine was average.”

Lynette agrees. “I talked to a guy who said that he thought he was average, he didn’t know, maybe he was on the small side. Really played it up,” she said. “Finally he admitted that he was eight inches. I burst out laughing. Ashamed, he looked at me and asked ‘is that that small?’”

These myths about sexuality might seem humorous, but they hide a tragic truth. A generation of teenagers grew up under Bush’s record-breaking funding for abstinence-only sex education.

Although Obama has eliminated funding for abstinence-only and funded evidence-based comprehensive sex education, the damage has already been done. And both Santorum and Romney, the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, favor abstinence-only sex education—despite the evidence that it delays loss of virginity only eight months. According to research at the Guttmacher Institute, the rates of pregnancy and STIs among teenagers who received abstinence-only sex education are far greater than the rates among those who didn’t.

Even so-called comprehensive sex education is deeply limited. Often, it focuses on STIs and condoms to the exclusion of any other topic. Even basic ideas like queerness or consent are usually neglected. In my comprehensive sex education, we labeled a diagram of the vulva that didn’t have the clitoris on it—no wonder some people think that women are supposed to get off on friction with their vagina! In such a limited sex education, you can forget about having someone’s misapprehensions about penis size or the prevalence of the female orgasm corrected.

Admittedly, even in the absence of good sex education, only a small percentage of people who use porn use it to figure out how sex “really works.” Most of the teens who use porn use it for the same reason anyone else does—arousal, masturbation and orgasms. Nevertheless, the lessons that mainstream porn teaches when no one knows that they’re learning from it may be just as disheartening.

Susie Bright, in The Pride of Miss Kitty MacKinnon, famously compared many people who criticize the problematic aspects of mainstream porn to people who taste several glasses of salt water and insist only one of them is salty. However, that glass of saltwater is still salty, and porn still has many racist, sexist and queerphobic elements. Even worse, in the absence of truly comprehensive sex education, many people may believe that real sex is somehow supposed to reflect those elements.

“Porn gives us the wonderful ‘she-male’ and ‘chicks with dicks’ names… I’d consider it a misconception because people think those are legitimate things to call us,” trans activist Ami Angelwings says. “Asian trans women porn gave a former boyfriend of mine the idea that trans women were prettier and passed better than white ones which led him to remark ‘Asian guys make the best women’ (and yes that’s when I broke up with him).”

“The majority of guys who fetishize Japanese women are clearly getting it from anime porn,” Pervocracy said, “and will be very disappointed if their Japanese woman turns out not to be childlike, whimperingly submissive, or cartoonishly cutesy.”

“I think the porn that plays into the submissive Asian girls thing is more the Asian porn produced in the US… these often exotify Asian women,” Angelwings said.

She added, “I know more than a few people who have intuited through the differences in expression in women in Japanese porn (vs. US porn) that Japanese men get off on rape.”

Some people object to the idea that a private fantasy in the boundaries of one’s own mind is something other people ought to be concerned with. However, a person’s private sex life is much different than treating trans women as “chicks with dicks” or Japanese women as childish and submissive in media distributed around the globe. A fantasy is one thing; perpetrating degrading and inaccurate stereotypes is quite another. Whatever their flaws, most schools at least try to convey the idea that you shouldn’t stereotype people based on their race or gender identity, a distinct plus over porn.

Equally troublesome is the clean, packaged image of sex sold within mainstream pornography. Within the world of mainstream porn, erections appear upon request and continue until their owner wishes for the sex to end, at which point the orgasm is prompt. Sex positions and acts are chosen for how they look on camera, not how they feel to the participants. Everyone is constantly up for sex, with no negotiation between fluctuating libidos required. No one ever experiences vaginal farting or can’t get the penis in no matter what they do or falls off the bed.

Porn is a fantasy. Fantasies are supposed to be unrealistic. To depict the fluffers or the multiple retakes or the porn star getting the hair waxed off her ass would ruin the movie. Genuine sex education could teach people that erections and orgasms are often unpredictable, that acrobatic sex positions aren’t always necessary for good sex, that libidos differ, and that sometimes mistakes happen in sex. But in its absence, the fantasy of porn—and the fantasy that porn is not a fantasy—can lead to unrealistic beliefs about how sex works.

That’s the advantage of truly comprehensive sex education. Of course, it can reveal that women are often not multiorgasmic and how to have safer sex, and that’s valuable. But, more importantly, truly comprehensive sex education can point out the diversity of sex: people have different bodies, different desires and different abilities; it’s not that the sex presented in mainstream porn is the best and other people’s sex is less good, but that there are thousands of possible and enjoyable sex lives. Sex is human and weird and often quite funny, and that’s a side of it that porn rarely shows.

“Porn also hid from me the existence of sexual moods beyond ‘passionate’ or ‘dominating,’” Holly Pervocracy said. “It wasn’t until I got out into the sexual real world that I understood the idea you could have sleepy sex, that you could have silly giggling sex, that you could have quick morning sex or slow evening sex, that you could have romping goofy sex with your shirts or socks still on, that you could have cuddly sex, that you could have comfort-sex when one of you is sad, that you could have ‘hm, let’s see if this works’ experimental sex, that you could have sweetly awkward nerd-sex, that you could have gleefully competitive athletic sex.”

And she adds, “It wasn’t until I got out in the sexual real world that I knew you could smile during sex.”

 AlterNet / March 26, 2012  |

Refugee Policies Should Be Evidence-Based

by Susan McGrath

Photo: 2010 Legal Observers/Flickr

Canadian policy-making on refugee issues is ignoring the evidence of leading researchers in the field. Empirical research that would improve refugee legislation and the practices of our refugee determination system is being overlooked to the detriment of refugees and the Canadian public.

A key example is the immigration detention process.

Professor Delphine Nakache of the University of Ottawa recently completed a detailed 100-page report on the Canadian immigration detention system managed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The research methodology was comprehensive including site visits, key informant interviews, and a review of government reports and academic literature. Ms. Nakache drew on key international and domestic legal principles to review Canadian practices and looked at statistics on who is detained and on the system’s cost.

Her research raises a number of concerns about the current system including its legality and practices.

Ms. Nakache points out that international human rights law requires that immigration detention should be the exception rather than the rule; must be in accordance with the law and not arbitrary; and that the detention conditions be humane.

Her findings are disturbing. Refugee claimants including women, children, and people with mental health issues are being detained in prisons across the country including high-security prisons where they must wear prison uniforms, may be handcuffed and shackled when moved for medical treatment, and their access to legal counsel and communications is severely limited.

CBSA detention facilities are not sufficient for the number of people that they choose to detain so local, provincial, and federal jails are being used resulting in inconsistencies in services and jurisdictional tensions.

Ms. Nakache’s efforts to determine how many refugee claimants were being detained were not successful because of the inadequacy of CBSA statistics; they do not distinguish between refugee claimants and those whose claims have been denied nor do they count minors detained with their parents.

She found inconsistencies in decisions made by CBSA officers across the country; the likelihood of being detained appears to depend on the port of entry where the asylum seeker arrives.

Similarly, she was unable to comment on the cost effectiveness of the system because of the lack of available, up-to-date data. The information she did uncover suggests that detention is very expensive. The cost of detaining the 492 men, women, and children from the MV Sun Sea is over $22 million. Treating these people as regular claimants would have been considerably cheaper and certainly more humane.

Canadian system not charter compliant

Ms. Nakache’s study builds on the 2011 work of U.K. researcher Alice Edwards who studied international law governing detention and provided a critical overview of existing and possible alternatives to detention drawn from research in five countries including Canada.

She concludes that there is no empirical evidence to give credence to the assumption that the threat of being detained deters irregular migration or discourages persons from seeking asylum. Threats to life or freedom in an individual’s country of origin are likely to be a greater push factor for a refugee than any disincentive created by detention policies in countries of transit or destination.

She also found that over 90 per cent of refugee claimants and people awaiting deportation comply with the terms of their release from detention and that the alternatives to detention are a significantly cheaper option.

Australian researcher Amy Nethery confirms that two decades of immigration detention in Australia have not deterred asylum seekers arriving by boat. The rise and fall in the numbers of arrivals correspond with the rise and fall of people movement globally.

In addition to being ineffective, detention is extremely expensive and is harmful to those detained. A recent systematic study of refugee claimants in detention by Janet Cleveland and colleagues at McGill University shows that even short-term detention has a negative impact on the health of both adults and children that may persist long after release.

The evidence shows that the Canadian detention system is flawed and not compliant with the Canadian Charter; detention is not a deterrent to people seeking refuge and is detrimental to their well-being; and, alternatives to detention are cheaper, effective, and more humane. But the CBSA continues to detain on average 5,000 men, women, and children every year. The proposed bill, C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act allows for refugee claimants who arrive in groups to be subjected to mandatory detention for up to a year.

Government policy-making should be based on empirical evidence not false, misleading, and often egregious assumptions about the motivations and behaviour of people legally seeking the protection of our country. The perils of ignoring such knowledge are too great — legally, socially, and economically.

Canada has a strong network of academic and practitioner researchers across the country working on forced migration issues, and they are linked with international colleagues. The Centre for Refugee Studies at York University has been producing leading research for almost 25 years and is hosting the global refugee research network of over 1,000 members. The now-defunded Canadian Metropolis project has five university-based research centres across the country with over 600 researchers focused on migration and settlement issues.

The March 9 virtual conference of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers brought together 250 academics and practitioners from six different sites across the country to debate the proposed refugee legislation.

The upcoming May conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at York University is to feature over 120 research presentations.

Canadian policy-makers have a rich resource of refugee research to draw on and our refugee policies and practices need this knowledge and expertise if they are to be legal and humane.

Susan McGrath is the director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. This article was first published in Embassy Magazine.

Death Rays and the Like

The Guardian, Australia

by Rob Gowland

The scientific boys and girls who work for the US military, products of some of the best educational institutions in the USA, recently showed off their latest effort to move human civilisation forward: a “crowd control” pain ray. Rejoicing in the relatively innocuous name “Active Denial System”, the new US weapon sends out a high-frequency electromagnetic ray. In other words, it is designed to do to demonstrators what a microwave oven does to porridge.

And you don’t have to stick the demonstrator in the oven for it to be effective: the ray has a range of “seven football fields”. Whoopee!

The US military has been experimenting with death rays for decades – as well as nerve gasses, neutron weapons, space-mounted X-ray weapons, etc, anything that might kill people while leaving property untouched.

It seems this policy has finally met up with another US phenomenon: the public backlash against the increasingly obvious way US government policy is being run by and for big corporations, to the growing detriment of the working stiffs who actually create the country’s wealth.

The Pentagon is clearly looking towards the day when they will have to defend the rich and powerful from the multitude of “have-nots”, who are not going to be satisfied with promises and propaganda forever.

The US military already trains for “subduing” civil disturbances, disturbances where the enemy to be “subdued” are not wily foreigners in turbans but typical Americans carrying peace placards!

Turning a “non-lethal” heat ray on them is a not particularly big step from that point. During the “occupy Wall St” protests police in New York herded demonstrators into fenced in areas and then turned their pepper sprays on them at close range. Pepper spray – like rubber bullets and tazers – is also defined as a “non-lethal” weapon, despite instances where the use of such weapons has resulted in fatalities.

According to Pentagon tests, people hit with the heat ray feel an intense, unbearable heat. Turn a weapon like that on to a struggling mass of people, some angry some frightened, and you have a recipe for panic and trampling. Especially if the weapon is in the hands of a soldier who has been taught to regard demonstrators as “the enemy” and who has also been told “not to worry, it’s non lethal”.

Demonstrations are made up of people of all ages and states of health. What is the effect of this heat ray on pregnant women? On a foetus? On someone with a heart condition?

And why is the military being trained to use this weapon against demonstrators anyway? We are constantly being told that the right to demonstrate against the government and its laws is a fundamental measure of our democracy. Well, is it or isn’t it? Gunning down demonstrators with a heat ray doesn’t sound very democratic.

US Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, showing off the weapon to the media, boasted that: “It could be used across the military spectrum of operations, perimeter security, crowd control, entry control points, you name it. I think our forces will figure out the many different applications that it would have.”

I think that is just what people are afraid of.

The British tabloid the Globe and Mail reports that “Various development versions of the heat ray have been tested for years. One was sent to Afghanistan – but never used – in 2010.” That raises interesting questions: why send it and then never use it? Is it perhaps not so “non-lethal” after all?

The Globe And Mail also reports that “Police departments have shown interest”. I’ll bet they have. When you see how enthusiastically they embraced tasers when those babies became available, shooting people umpteen times with the electric shock weapons, giving police a long-distance way of inflicting pain on demonstrators seems like a very unsafe thing to do.

Among the comments that appeared on US websites about this news report was this one from Socialist, who suggested that “now is indeed time to leave the country”: “My nephew will be going abroad to attend university, he can get a quality education for a tiny fraction of the price of an equivalent US education (taught in English). When he graduates, he will not be a debt slave to the banksters.”

When an on-line correspondent asserted that “There is no place on the face of the earth that you or anybody else will be safe from Obama’s military”,Socialist responded with the commonsense argument: “However in relative terms, there are places that are less violent [than the USA], where essentials of life (like health care, education, quality food and housing) are much more affordable. The Empire, even with drones and all the technology, does not have the power to control everything. The Empire is more fragile than we can imagine. The quality of life in the US is far lower than many would care to admit.”

That last point is very real and is becoming recognised by more and more Americans, as the endless propaganda they are fed – about living in the greatest country on Earth – falls apart in front of their eyes. Just the other day I saw a television news report in which US primary school teachers referred to the schools they taught in as “third world” standard.

Every day that big oil companies and big banks and filthy rich hedge funds get additional tax breaks from the US government while consumer prices continue to rise (not least at the petrol pump), is a day when Americans are forced to look at the reality of the world and to compare it with the laughable fantasy they are fed as “the American dream”. The number who don’t bother to vote is a sad indication of their widespread rejection of that dream as bogus.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the corporations it serves continue to develop their weapons to suppress any attempt at a popular uprising. For they know that the current situation cannot prevail forever. And they intend to be ready.

The question is: will the people be ready?

*note: The Guardian is the weekly newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia. You can find the original article on their website here.