Going Indigenous: A Choice for the Planet

Extreme climate change continues to wreak havoc across the Earth, from crumbling coastlines to deadly droughts to killer hurricanes to flash floods to out-of-control wildfires, and beyond. The signs of a planet in distress are there for all to see. But no one feels the effects of climate disasters more than the 370 million indigenous peoples from nearly a hundred countries in all regions of the world. They have literally been sounding the emergency alarm bells about climate disasters for decades now and have mostly been ignored by the rest of us.

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Defying the Media Mantra of a ‘Great Leader’

In death as in life, the late prime minister Shinzo Abe divides the nation of Japan. Following Abe’s assassination on a public street in the city of Nara in broad daylight last month, the Japanese government has decided on an official state funeral for Abe to be held on 27 September. The public in Japan is increasingly voicing its opposition to this state funeral, the first such event to be held in this country in more than a half-century. Why should the death of an ultra-nationalist, far-right leader whose policies were so detrimental to democracy in Japan and who was so lowly regarded by so many citizens be honored with taxpayer money? they demand to know.

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The Coat Hanger Diaries — America’s New Abortion Story

Anna Yocca was 31 years old when she tried to abort a fetus in her womb that she did not want to carry any longer. In an act of sheer desperation, she used a coat hanger rod in a bathtub full of water to try to end her pregnancy, which was 24 weeks along. When the bleeding wouldn’t stop, she called for medical help and was transported to a hospital, where she gave birth to a severely injured baby. She was soon arrested by police and charged with attempted murder of her child.

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Salute to a Soul Sister

Janice Mirikitani and a friend are walking down the sidewalk, as the friend’s recollection goes, in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, California, USA — one of the city’s poorer and more merciless areas. Coming down the sidewalk toward them is a man of the streets who is making loud barking and growling noises like a dog; he is obviously in need of some help.

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Banned in Japan: The Little Statue that Roared

Welcome, dear readers, to Aichi Trienniale 2019, one of the largest Japanese contemporary festivals in the country. Held every three years since 2010, this festival attracts artists from around Japan and the globe, while promoting such lofty goals as “contributing to the global development of culture and art” and “bringing culture and art into people’s daily lives” as its mission.

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Then the Women Spoke, and the Tide Turned

The dust is still settling from the 6 November midterm elections in the United States, but one thing is clear: It was women — especially women of color — who made the difference in this election. And not only that: Women, as a bloc, asserted themselves as the primary force of resistance against FPOTUS (Fake President of the United States) Donald Trump and his neo-fascist political agenda. And just in time, too.

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The Sound of a Tidal Wave Coming

Word has just arrived that United States Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh has been approved by the U.S. Senate and officially sworn in as the newest justice on the U.S. supreme court. The contentious, three-month-long confirmation process of Kavanaugh was watched around the world and protested and opposed by women everywhere.

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A People’s Cry, a Heroine’s Silence

Rhino Records released in 2004 a compilation CD of various artists from around the world coming together for a good cause: “Dedicated to freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and the courageous people of Burma,” as the front cover of the CD boldly noted. This two-disc set, titled For the Lady, featured tracks by the usual fare of socially conscious liberal/leftish artists, plus a few more apolitical types — like former Beatle Paul McCartney and guitarist Eric Clapton — that you normally wouldn’t see on this kind of overtly political music release.

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Remembering Judi Bari

Most people in the United States and around the world, it is fair to say, have probably never heard of Judi Bari — or if they have, they may just barely recall a news story about some crazy domestic American eco-terrorists blowing themselves up in a car.

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The Presidential Election Cycle Morning-After Blues

It was a rough and wild ride, one you knew you’d never forget, and you drowsily awake in a state of lingering bliss as the sun rises on a Friday morning in late January 2017. It’s a brand-new day. You nudge your partner. “Hey sleepyhead, you awake?”

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Sisters for Hillary, Unite!

A recently published New York Times article reported on how the campaign message this year of a U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is apparently not being embraced by younger generations of women and feminists in the USA.

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We are Sandra Bland

...In the case of Ms. Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American citizen, the “crime” was a much simpler and thus more insidious one: a very minor traffic violation in Texas in July that led to her being arrested on a major felony charge. She was found to have killed herself by hanging in her jail cell three days later. Bland’s surviving family members do not believe the official ruling that she took her own life while behind bars, and neither do I. Looking closely at all the facts in the case, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that an official police cover-up of some kind was (and still is) in place.

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The Stain of Sexual Slavery

The Japanese government’s censorship of nationally used school textbooks — deleting or downplaying the many bad things Japan did during World War II — has been going on for decades. But it is only recently, with a neo-fascist prime minister back in power, that such official censorship is now moving into dangerous areas beyond Japan’s borders and into textbooks used in overseas countries.

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Where the Real Obscenity Lies

Rokude Nashiko, a manga comic book and visual artist based in Tokyo, was arrested in July of this year and detained by police. Her crime? Posting and distributing information pertaining to vaginal art — thinly disguised, sculpted images of her own genitals, to be exact. She faced a possible two years in prison for making such “obscene” images public through her website, which she operates openly and legally.

Thousands of people in Japan, and apparently abroad too, took exception to the heavy-handed Japanese police actions and put a public petition in motion. Within a week Rokude Nashiko (her artistic name and a play on words, loosely translated as “Good-for-Nothing Girl”) was released from custody, the police apparently too embarrassed by the publicity to keep her any longer.

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A Mourning Moment

This poem, “Mourning Grace” by writer/master storyteller Maya Angelou, comes to me as I take in the news that she has just passed away in the United States at age 86. I listen over and over to the voice of Angelou herself as she recites these brief but touching words from a recording she first made back in the late 1960s.

I mourn her passing as I also celebrate her memory. Her words have touched and inspired millions of people around the world, and I am no exception. She is one of the writers I include as members of my extended spiritual-literary family around the world who have helped clear the path and led me to become the writer I am today.

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Who Bombed Judi Bari?

In the summer of 1999, during my first-ever visit to the North Coast of far-northern California in the United States, her name was still fresh on people’s lips and her memory alive and well.

Judi Bari had passed away two years before, but the local people still seemed to be speaking and writing about her with a sense of reverence, respect, humanness and humor — in the way that you would go on talking about a dear friend or family member who had died in the present tense, as if they were still alive. I didn’t know a thing about the well-known environmental activist Judi Bari, but I was soon to find out that summer in California.

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One Billion Women Rising...and Rising

If you’ve known women in your life, as I have in mine, who were victims of violent abuse sometime in their lives and are still dealing with the pain, then you know how important the “One Billion Rising” event held worldwide on 14 February was in demanding an immediate end to this violence against women.

One billion is the number of girls or women who are projected to suffer violent physical abuse at some point in their lives at the hands of men. That’s one out of every three girls or women worldwide. One Billion Rising was, first and foremost, a campaign for women to unify, stand up in great numbers and reclaim themselves — physically, mentally, spiritually — and to do it through dance.

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