Tag Archives: Politics

The Favorites: 9/12/2012 Edition

I mark a lot of things as “Favorites” on Twitter, hoping to get back to them and see them later. Here are some of the pieces that wound up being quite interesting:

http://write-shoot-cut.com/2012/09/01/short-film-38-kinetic-edinburgh-2012-walid-salhab/|
@Neil_Rolland made this clip available after it was screened at Write, Shoot, Cut in Edinburgh. A gorgeous panoramic in stop motion photography, by Walid Salhab, a lecture at my Alma Mater (now Queen Margaret University, they’ve dropped the College). A captivating series of images. No narrative structure, but as a test piece for a film Salhab hopes to make in the future, it certainly shows off the dreamy, atmospheric qualities of the shooting technique.

Edinburgh’s landmarks – Waverly Station, the castle, the Balmoral Hotel, Leith, and the breathtaking views down closes and campuses make one choke up a bit. Salhab’s sample footage combines familiar landmarks and different lighting states, with recognized events including the Hogsmanay fireworks and traffic running over Arthur’s Seat in the daylight, into a montage of Kinetic Edinburgh’s view of this exciting city.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/31/obama-clint-eastwood_n_1845457.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
The most retweeted joke of the Republican National Convention didn’t come from your run-of-the-mill tweeter – it was this graphic posted by the @BarackObama twitter feed in response to Clint Eastwood’s speech to an empty chair.

 

http://theferrymanswife.blogspot.com/2012/08/promo-prep.html?spref=tw
A fellow Queen Margaret student has recently released the above title, “The Ferryman’s Wife” (by Georgina Merry) via Kindle. Here’s her blog entry about the process of getting out word about the piece. Good for those looking at others’ experiences in self-publishing. The book itself looks like YA fiction with a supernatural slant.

 

And finally (because that’s enough interesting stuff to look at for one day’s entry), a great piece of information I snatched off Twitter the other day:

 

 

Thanks for reading.

In Which I Wax Verbose on Assange, Wikileaks & More

I’ve been giving a lot of brainspace to the Assange case over the last year or two, particularly in light of PIPA/SOPA/ACTA legislation and the signing of NDAA last December, here in the US. Anyway, Julian Assange’s situation has been a long-term story which undergoes long periods of silence punctuated by short flurries of action: his escape to the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge a couple of months ago, and now the announcement by that country that they will grant his request for asylum.

There’s a huge amount of discussion taking place around these issues on the internet right now. One of the major questions relates to the charges Assange may face in Sweden, and the idea that they might be a smokescreen that leads to his being extradited to the United States, where he could face charges of espionage for his role in the leaking of diplomatic cables.

On Thursday, Ecuador announced their intention to grant Assange asylum. Saturday, the Organisation of American States made statements in support of Ecuador’s decision, while meanwhile the UK spoke about their legal obligations to Sweden and the possibility they might go into the Ecuadorian embassy without invitation and arrest Assange. Today (Sunday, EST), Assange made a statement from a balcony of the Embassy (to what I’m sure was chagrin on the part of Mitch Benn, none of the crowd members burst into “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,”).

Friday morning, when Ecuador’s announcement on Assange’s asylum was made, a friend asked me, what side was I on, anyway? Was Assange a hero or a sexual predator? We talked about it a bit and I said that at that point, it seemed like there were actually multiple issues that had become tangled up. I’ve been thinking about how to untangle them for a day or two now, and must be getting somewhere, because I finally got around to writing this blog.

 

Issues:

1. Julian Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden.

2. Julian Assange received classified information from a US military officer in the form of diplomatic cables, which he then published through his organization, Wikileaks.

3. Ecuador has agreed to give asylum to Assange, who has been sheltered in their embassy for two months. In response, the UK has suggested that it might enter the embassy without Ecuador’s invitation, which would breach both formal conventions to which the UK is a party, thus disrespecting Ecuador’s right, as a sovereign nation, to grant asylum as it sees fit.

Breakdowns/thoughts:

1. Assange is not currently (as I understand it) wanted for arrest in Sweden. He is wanted for questioning, as the authorities endeavor to determine whether or not to charge him with rape. It has been suggested that Assange is willing to return to Sweden for questioning on this case if Sweden were to give guarantees that he would not be subsequently extradited to the US for item (2). Sweden has declined to make this promise. To me, this piece of the puzzle suggests Sweden is less interested in accumulating information that could help the two women accusing Assange to find justice, and more interested in getting him back on Swedish soil. Had Sweden actually charged Assange, then I understand why a Skype call or a visit to the Embassy wouldn’t do. [EDIT: A friend pointed me to this article in the Independent, which states that under Swedish law, charges cannot be brought until a suspect is in custody; this adds a new dimension to the question, but still doesn’t explain why if Assange is only wanted for questioning, it can’t take place from the UK.] If the Swedish government hasn’t brought rape charges against Assange yet, why won’t they compromise on the location of the interview in order to get the information they need before they can decide whether charges should be brought?

2.  The cables Manning made available to Wikileaks contained sensitive information which was understandably embarrassing for several countries. Manning has been held without charges in the US for over two years, with international condemnation of the circumstances under which he is being held. Having watched the situation spinning since it started, I do not think it’s unreasonable that Assange might face retaliatory action from the US if placed in a situation where he could be extradited to the US for charges related to item (2). Again, I understand that if the US promised not to seek Assange’s extradition from Sweden on unrelated charges against him (charges related to Wikileaks’ publishing of diplomatic cables, for example, he would willingly go back to Sweden for questioning related to item (1).

3. Oh, UK. I love you, but please don’t go there. Ecuador is it’s own country, and Ecuador now has pretty much all of South America backing them up on their right to grant asylum as they see fit. I hear Russia (Russia!) even sent you a note saying they were concerned about how you might go into the Ecuadorian embassy. You threw a hissy (and rightfully so) when your embassy was disrespected in Iran last year, acknowledging the inviolate sanctity of foreign missions. You’re a member of a convention that expressly forbids barging in on somebody else’s embassy. I understand that you have a responsibility to Sweden, and think that you’re still trying to fulfill it is great, but same question here as I asked Sweden in item (2) – if you’re so concerned about the women involved in item (1) (as you should be), then why can’t you broker a situation where Assange answers the questions the Swedish police have for him within UK borders?

 

So in summary: I’m furious that Sweden and the UK are letting items (2) and (3) get in the way of resolving item (1), because the women who have accused Assange deserve closure. I think item (2) gives Assange a reasonable basis for fear of extradition, particularly based on increasingly restrictive legislation concerning expression in this country (Naomi Wolf has gone on the record stating she declined to meet with members of Occupy Wall Street because  she was, in part, concerned about prosecution under #NDAA).

Finally, item (3) is disturbing because in threatening to enter the Ecuadorian embassy, the UK has made what was a bilateral discussion between themselves and Ecuador into a larger question for the world at large. Already, South America (including Brazil) and Russia have spoken out against the idea of violating a nation’s embassy; that’s half the BRIC nations right there. (And lest we wonder where China would likely come in on this – they didn’t go into the US embassy when Chen Guangcheng was holed up there).

This is where the fiction writer in me yells, “THIS COULD GET ARCHDUKE FERDINAND UGLY!” and goes off to scribble notes for a WWIII novel.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

I expect this won’t be the last post I make on this subject, so if you have any resources or insights, please feel free to link me to them in the comments.

 

Edit: The Guardian has posted the following editorial piece regarding Assange’s statement.

“Passing” versus “upholding” a law.

First: I am thrilled that today the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) was judged by the Supreme Court to be constitutional.

Second: The Supreme Court did not “pass” this act.

Third: The Supreme Court did uphold this act.

Fourth: “Uphold” and “pass” are two different things, and in fact it would not have been possible for the Supreme Court to “pass” this legislation. As much as we talk about legislating from the bench, the court has to have a law presented to them before they can rule on it, and Congress is where this law was actually passed. If it hadn’t been passed, then there would have been no way to challenge it. I’m sure the lawyers out there will correct me on that if I’m wrong. But I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong.

As happy as I am that many many people will continue to get health coverage and not fall victim to pre-existing conditions, discriminatory premiums and more, the writer and editor in me is dying to take a red pen to all those tweets talking about how the court “passed” the law.

What the court did do was uphold the law, i.e., agree that it was constitutional (although not on the grounds that most expected it to be upheld upon). Alternatively, it could have struck down the law.

But the law had already passed. In Congress. Which is where laws get passed. They do not get passed in the Supreme Court.

Thus ends today’s civics lesson. Thank you.

The Vagina Blogs: NYC #Vaginagate #Solidarity Event

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to every single one of the (as of initial writing) nearly 1K people who have visited, read, or reposted/tumbled “Vagina Vagina Vagina.”

Things are happening. This Monday, playwright Eve Ensler will be reading her groundbreaking play, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES on the steps of the capitol in Michigan. Multiple state senators are involved. This story is receiving attention from the MI Democratic Party, which is involved in setting up the event, as well as the Huffington Post.

I Want To Show Support, But I’m Not In Michigan. What Can I Do?

Live in New York City? Tomorrow night, some friends (both old and new) and I are going to meet up in Union Square. We’re going to peacefully show show solidarity with women around the country. Don’t live in NYC? You can do this in your city or town, too. How?

The Vagina Blogs.

Write a blog, tumblr, comment, or other piece, preferably (but not required to be) 400-500 words long. Tag it as #VaginaBlogs, wherever you post it, and link back to this post so we can register a trackback link. Don’t have a vagina, but have a problem with this conversation not being over yet? WE WELCOME YOUR SUPPORT. Join us.

A Vagina Blog can be about your vagina. It can be about how you and your vagina feel about the continued national assault on our right to stop being asked whether No Means No. How do you feel about the national conversation? How do the women in your life feel about having to constantly repeat that No Means No? How do you feel about how, nationally, time and energy are consistently being wasted by people who really should have better things to worry about legislating? It can be funny, it can be personal, it can be serious. There are as many different kinds of #VaginaBlogs as there are women who have #vaginas and men who support our right to have ownership over them.

We will be in Union Square reading out people’s blogs, tweets and more for as long as can be sustained. Join us, either here or in your own city, by using the hashtag #VaginaBlogs and contributing your thoughts.


SIMPLE SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Write 400-500 words (it can be more or less, these are just suggestions) about Vaginagate and the national conversation on women’s reproductive rights.

2. Include the hashtag #VaginaBlogs.

3. Post it on your blog, tumblr, twitter or facebook. (If you don’t a safe place to post your entry, submit it in the comments below.)

4. Submit a link where we can find your post in the comments below.

 THAT’S ALL IT TAKES.

Also, consider emailing your blog to the Michigan House Speaker: JamesBolger@house.mi.gov. You can find information on your own national representatives via http://www.opencongress.org/.

We’ll start reading in Union Square as soon as we gather.

Join us.

And if you don’t like reading or talking in public, come anyway. You don’t have to read, and your presence makes a difference.

Check back for updates, because we’re going to try to livestream our readings. If you’re in another city and you want to do something similar, please leave a comment with your location and a spot that works.

We’ll read until we can’t read anymore, whether we run out of material or the park closes or we’re all tired and some of us have to go back home to sleep before going to our jobs in the morning. We’ll read peacefully and we’ll read with love.

And maybe we’ll keep reading on Tuesday.

What actions are happening in your city? Link to this post in order to get a trackback link and spread the word. Check back here for updates. And as one commenter on Vagina Vagina Vagina put it: VAGINA HUGS! 

UPDATE: 12:51pm: Just got off the phone with Eve Ensler’s team. While there won’t be a livestream of the event in MI, they are filming it and will post excerpts online after the fact. We are also changing the hash tag to #VaginaBlogs to respect Ms. Ensler’s copyright. I’ve changed everything but the URL to this post, because that had already been distributed. Please act respectfully.

During the phone call, Ensler’s team drew my attention to her piece OVER IT, written last year.

This line in particular stood out to me: I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are reallyfucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.”

If writing a Vagina Blog isn’t your thing, take inspiration from OVER IT. What are you over? What are you fed up with? Tag your entry #VaginaBlog and link back to it here. 

UPDATE 6/19/2012: 
Our gathering in Union Square was amazing; will update further soon. Till then, thank you to everyone who contributed, whether it was by showing up or posting in the comments below. We definitely plan to keep #VaginaBlogs alive, and may do further public readings, so please continue to reference, track back, comment, etc. back to this post. Hoping to be able to post some video in the next few days, provided Qik Vid worked.

 

Awesome Awesome Amazeballs Awesome

The thing you always forget about performing is how quickly it happens. There’s an interminable amount of stuff that has to take place before a production, whether we’re talking a short film, a play, or a reading involving five performers converging on an old-time prestige venue like the Cornelia St Cafe.

That third one is a little specific, isn’t it.

Yesterday we had a live reading of Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change here in New York City. And by “we,” I mean everybody, with the exception of RJ, who wrote to us from New Zealand. Before about 4pm, the day is a blur. Literally a blur. I remember the gist of what I did: mostly sleep, since the night before was a rush of adrenaline and preparation and as with all these things, there never seems to be enough time. (Note “seems” – this is significant.)

Continue reading

Upcoming Public Appearances & Signings

Public appearances are tricky for a writer. We’re naturally introverted folks, we like keeping ourselves to ourselves. Nonetheless, I’ve learned over the years that the ability to get in front of an audience and have a discussion about your work is an invaluable experience, both  in terms of public speaking ability and the role it plays in everyday life, and because it offers a chance for more personalized exposure than just an @reply on Twitter.

As an independent writer/artist, too, public appearances are practically a requirement. They help access new audiences and – equally important – get writers out of our garrets and into the real world.

All of which is my long way of announcing that the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York City’s West Village, will be hosting a reading, discussion and signing for Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change on May 17th at 6pm.

Not only is this exciting for me because of – well, the obvious reasons, I suppose – but also because as a venue, the Cornelia Street Cafe has a long and illustrious history of supporting new writing.

We’ll have four of the five HOT MESS authors on hand, each giving a short reading from their work. After a short discussion with the audience about ways in which climate change is affecting us today, we’ll move onto a book signing.

Doors open at 5:45pm and reservations are encouraged – all the info is on the Cornelia Street Cafe website. If you’re available, please try to come – and make sure to say hi afterwards!

Speaking about Hot Mess on The 99 Report

At 3pm EST today, March 20th, I’ll be speaking about HOT MESS: speculative fiction on climate change on the Earth Day episode of The 99 Report, a weekly podcast. You can access the podcast here.

The show starts at 2pm, and features some interesting guests who’ll be discussing the condition of the post-oil-spill Gulf of Mexico. We’ll also talk about how fiction can inspire conversations about real-world issues.

This is my first podcast appearance – so as you can imagine, nerves are high and your support is appreciated!