One small step forward for Moroccan women, one giant leap back for American women


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Moroccan women protesting the rape/marriage law

This week, the country of Morocco finally decided to take an ancient law off the books. A woman (or girl) will no longer be required to marry her rapist. A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame. While it is a step in the right direction, it will, hopefully be the first of many steps to come with the end goal being equal human rights. Kudos and Brava to our North African sisters for fighting long and hard for their basic human rights amid such dangerous circumstances. This is another example of how women have finally had enough and are through accepting the status quo.

CathrynnBrown

Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R),

In the United States, this week women’s reproductive rights have, yet again, come under attack. This time, in New Mexico… by a WOMAN! I cannot overstate how much of a betrayal this was, for women all around the world. A bill introduced by Rep. Cathrynn Brown (a republican, of course) who wants to make it so that a woman who is impregnated by her rapist would be forced to carry her baby to full term, or be sent to jail. House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” The bill goes on to say, “Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.” Her reasoning is that the bill would punish the person who commits incest or rape and then procures or facilitates an abortion to destroy the evidence of the crime.

When was the last time you heard of a case in which the rapist procured an abortion for his victim in order to destroy evidence? Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but can you not get DNA evidence from an aborted foetus? So what good is this law really going to do for the victim of the crime? This smacks of yet another republican attempt to shame the victim and reward the rapist, all in the name of religious “values”. Cause, you know the bible is all for the rape of women in order to keep them from getting all uppity.

Women in the US of A need to take a page from the women of Morocco and other countries where the fight is much more dire. Those women don’t have the luxury of introducing bills into law. Those women are too busy literally fighting for their lives. If the women of the free world (when I say free world, I mean all countries where women are free and equal, not just America) need to understand that if we allow our rights to be taken away, then we are dooming women in economically underdeveloped countries. If we let our rights go, then what chance for freedom do these women have?  We must remain an example of what can be accomplished when you fight the good fight… because too much is at stake.

American foreign policy, a foreign perspective


Canada and the United States have long had what, from the outside, can be seen as a symbiotic relationship. We used to have (until recently) the world’s longest undefended border. We signed on to NAFTA even though it benefitted us far less than it did our neighbours to the south. On the world stage, America is the cartoon Bulldog and Canada is the Jack Russell terrier jumping around asking, “what are we doing today, Spike?”

The USA is the one on the left.

MILITARY

America has long gotten their power through military might, which is why military spending is the sacred cow when it comes to America’s budget. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats will significantly slash funding for America’s military no matter the fiscal consequence. America’s military budget is larger than that of China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined. A strong military has been too large a part of the American identity for far too long but it’s the only thing keeping them in a position of any real international power, so they are doomed to keep the funding bloated. Americans are so wrapped up in this identity that they actually think that the rest of the world wants them in the position of protector. In this link, from Aljazeera, the Americans on the panel are all of the opinion that America HAS to defend the entire world, that they have been placed in that position by their allies. (The foreign policy conversation begins at the 24:15 mark.) It seems this opinion is a pervasive one in the U.S. However, if you ask the leaders, or even the people of countries around the world, you get a very different opinion. Most other countries see America as a corrupt and greedy bully that has taken the role of warmonger (not protector) upon itself, without ever being asked to do so, because they have been able to convince themselves that they own the moral high ground. That being said, there is no denying that America’s military might has served them well since the country’s inception. Unfortunately for America, their military (among other things) is bankrupting them, so they seem to be between a rock and a hard place. President Obama ran (the first time) on diplomacy over war. He seemed genuinely concerned about how America was perceived on the world stage. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he has not lived up to his promise. Just ask any country who has been on the receiving end of one of his drone attacks.

MORAL HIGH GROUND

A big part of what angers other countries about America is the fact that Americans smugly go around the world claiming the moral high ground. America is, “the greatest nation in the world”. Meanwhile, America has tortured, murdered and raped its way through wars just as much, if not more than the rest of us. America should be called out on human rights violations as much as countries like China, Iran and Pakistan are, if only because of their for profit healthcare, prisons, and their drug war that only serves to keep the minorities and the poor from achieving any level of success. The hypocrisy of the moral high ground in this case would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. If you look at the countries causing the most conflict in the world right now they all have one thing in common… they all  think that they have God on their side and that they are the good guys doing God’s work by fighting the forces of evil. In fact, this has been a huge part of America’s brand since the American Revolution. This religious ideology is dangerous because it excuses all sorts of atrocities without actually having to have any kind of well thought out reason for killing, torturing or raping innocent (and not so innocent) people in countries around the world. They are so wrapped up in thinking they are the best, that they constantly act against their own best interests. In this last election there was quite a bit of China bashing going on. Do they not know that China holds the vast majority of their debt and makes most of their products? Yes, Americans are so smug that they think it’s okay to bite the hand that (literally) feeds them. It’s not easy being America’s enemy.

DEADBEAT NATION

It’s no picnic being America’s friend either. In 2011, when the United States Congress was busy bickering about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, quite a few Americans seemed shocked that their country was not paying its bills. This is nothing new. America hasn’t been paying their bills for years. Even when court ordered to do so, America continues to be a deadbeat nation. Take a look at the Canada USA softwood dispute for an example of this behavior. Apparently NAFTA wasn’t good enough for the USA when it came to charging whatever they wanted to for a Canadian product, so they decided to impose a tariff on Canada’s softwood. Canada took them to international court, several times and won. America still has yet to pay the agreed upon amount in its entirety. (that is a nutshell version, to get the whole story, I encourage you to click the link.) I could cite may more examples, but we’d be here all day. When it comes to paying back what they owe, America reminds me of Dean in the following sketch from Kids In The Hall.

I’d be very wary of signing a deal with America.

THE BLAME GAME

One thing the U.S. government is good at, is blaming other countries for things that are (at least partially) America’s fault. Take, for example the Gulf Oil Spill. America was very quick to blame the entire thing on BP, so as to get out of having to pay for the lion’s share of the clean up costs. Halliburton was just as much, if not, more to blame, but they got off relatively scott free. Even the financial crisis in Greece, which was a major contributor to the Euro Zone crisis, falls onto America’s shoulders, via Goldman Sachs, a bank that received a government bail out.

WAKING UP

Slowly, other countries are waking up to the fact that America’s purchasing power is a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes. Sure, they buy stuff with the zeal of a kid at Christmas, but if they defer payment, or just plain, don’t pay at all, why would you sell to them? Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (whose actions are hit and miss in my book) has cleverly been travelling the world, making deals with burgeoning economic powerhouses like China, Japan, Brazil and, most recently, India to offset Canada’s reliance on American trade. In fact, this chart, from the International Monetary Fund shows that the world economic stage is yet another place where America is no longer number one .

The Twenty Largest Economies By Incremental Nominal GDP From 2007 to 2012
Economy Nominal GDP (billions in USD)
(01) China

4,756.006

(02) Japan

1,628.043

(03) United States

1,624.691

(04) Brazil

1,058.832

(05) India

794.189

(06) Russia

653.852

(07) Australia

596.361

(08) Indonesia

462.684

(09) Canada

346.017

(10) Saudi Arabia

272.107

(11) Argentina

214.741

(12) Iran

176.425

(13) Switzerland

172.325

(14) Colombia

154.837

(15) Turkey

133.939

(16) Thailand

130.012

(17) Mexico

127.588

(18) Egypt

124.655

(19) Malaysia

113.564

(20) Venezuela

107.936

The twenty largest economies contributing to global nominal GDP growth (2007 – 2012)[

Many other countries are following suit, making deals with each other to offset their dependence on the weakening American economy.

I have long been saying that the only thing at which America can still rightfully claim the number one spot is branding. They are very good at perpetuating an image, just not so good at living up to that image. Unfortunately, for America, everyone but the American public can see behind the curtain.

Sick and tired


 Image by the brilliant DonkeyHotey

The American hype machine has been running at a fever pitch this election season. Between the dog and pony show that was the race for the Republican nomination, to the game of hot potato that came before the announcement of a running mate and the actual Presidential campaign, it seems as if America has been campaigning for about a decade now.

As regular readers already know, I live in Canada. You would think that Canada is now America Junior with the way we have been inundated with every little fart that each American candidate has tooted since the beginning of this election season. You can’t get away from news about the U.S. election… it’s everywhere. It’s reported on by our Canadian news shows, in our Canadian newspapers and on our Canadian websites, thankfully the American election is never the top story on any of those venues. Unfortunately, on sites like Huffington Post Canada or Yahoo Canada (Canadian versions of American websites), unless there is a heinous killer on the loose (Luca Rocco Magnotta) or a natural disaster (earthquake of the coast of B.C. or hurricane Sandy) it’s almost always the top story. Yesterday’s top story on The Huffington Post Canada was cleverly disguised as a story about Canada. It was even titled O Canada. The story was all about how a recent poll showed that Canadians would vote for Obama over Romney by a margin of 7 to 1. How is this Canadian news?

Canadians are a fairly savvy bunch. You can’t just put the word Canada and an image of a Maple Leaf on your logo but still report mainly American news stories and expect that Canadians won’t notice. In the case of the Huffington Post, I imagine that the reason for them to have, typically, less than 50 percent Canadian content is due to the fact that most Canadian bloggers know that cachet is not French for cash and don’t want to write for free. In the case of Yahoo Canada and others like it, I assume that as they are American owned and operated, they are not bound by the same Canadian content laws that govern our media.

Canada is part of the Commonwealth, otherwise known as the British Commonwealth, and as such, we have a close relationship to Britain and the Queen, yet when there is an election held in England, we hardly hear about it. The province where I live, Quebec, is still very French in both language and culture, but when an election is held in France, it barely makes our radar. Recently Quebec held an election and the U.S. election still got more news coverage in Quebec than that of our own.

Believe it or not people who live in Canada actually want to know about what is happening in their own country. I have spoken to many Canadians who go out of their way to avoid news about the U.S. election, but still know more about it than the undecided American voters do.

America is the only country on the planet that has such a long election campaign. In Canada our campaigns range from 36 days (the minimum) to 74 days (the length of our longest campaign… just two days longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage). One could be led to believe that Americans really like campaign season, but it seems that Canadians aren’t the only ones who are sick and tired of having news of this election shoved down our collective throats.

I must say, this little girl sums it up perfectly.

Is it just me?


As an outsider watching the Republican race for the nomination, I can’t help but think that the Republicans don’t want to win the presidency this term. After all, the country is still in an economic quagmire  (not the funny Family Guy kind of Quagmire) and why would they want to inherit that mess? It’s too soon to be able to blame it all on Obama. People still remember that it was George W. Bush that handed Obama the economic train wreck in the first place, after being given the biggest economic surplus in the history of the country by Clinton. Historically it seems that the Republicans like to run the country into the ground, then the Democrats patch it up as best they can for a term or two, then pass it back to the Republicans to break again. This chart shows that the Democrats outperform the Republicans when it comes to the economy. http://www.eriposte.com/economy/other/demovsrep.htm

 The Republicans in this race seem to be doing an ‘I don’t want the nomination’ dance. From the very beginning when there were ten people vying for the title. It seemed to me that every time a new candidate became the front runner they would say or do something so outlandish that they would fall by the wayside within a week. Now it’s down to four, possibly five, if you believe that Sarah Palin has a secret plot afoot http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-dunn/sarah-palin-2012_b_1351763.html

Arguably, none of the remaining four men have much of a chance at winning the presidency back from Obama if they keep inserting their feet firmly into their mouths as they have been. The Republicans, as a whole, are alienating their female supporters right out of the party with all of this backward talk of contraception and abortion. Issues that had been settled 39 years ago when Roe vs. Wade was decided. However, according to this video, at least, there are many Americans who are voting faith over issues that directly concern them like the economy. It’s shocking that in the poorest state of the union, people would rather starve than elect Obama again.
Rick Santorum recently stated that Obama was a snob for wanting people to attend college and he’s winning in the southern states.
Santorum came out against higher education and women and is still winning the support of entire states. The scary thing here is that he could actually beat Obama if the people who vote faith vote in higher numbers that the people who vote issues. Not to mention the flames of racism that still run rampant through the country that are being fanned by conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and the fine folks at FOX news. Illustrated by this bumper sticker.
The Republicans like to divide and conquer. This attitude has served them well, historically but it will be severely tested if Romney wins the nomination. Who will the Christian right vote for without a horse in the race, the Mormon or the ‘Muslim’? Romney has been so transparent in his pandering that he has very little chance of a presidential win, but stranger things have happened.
It’s hard to think that a win is the real goal this election with the crazy dog and pony show the Republicans have been putting on, but, they may just be crazy like the proverbial fox and incite their base into voting en mass. So I guess my real point is…
Dear America,
If you want to be taken seriously, vote issues, not faith and please vote for the one person that will least embarrass you on the world stage.
From a concerned Canadian.