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July 23rd, 2006

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The Mapuche people were the first inhabitants of half of the area today known as Chile and Argentina. Before the Spanish arrived in 1541, the Mapuche occupied a vast territory in the Southern Cone of the continent and the population numbered about two million. At present they number approximately 1.5 million (constituting over 10% of the total population) in Chile, and two hundred thousand in Argentina. The Mapuche nation now constitute the third largest indigenous society in South America.

A century after their arrival, the Spanish signed the Treaty of Quillin (1641) which defined frontiers with the Mapuche nation.

With the defeat of the Spanish by the newly formed states of Argentina and Chile in 1810, the original treaties of 1641 were abrogated. The new Republics instigated treaties leading to the gradual takeover of the Mapuche territory. The Mapuche people suffered territorial conquest, military aggression and persecution resulting in the destruction of entire communities.

At the end of the 19th century Chilean and Argentinian armies seized the Mapuche territory, a dispossession recorded in Chilean history as the Pacification of the Araucanian, and in Argentina as the Campaign of the Desert.

The Mapuche nation was finally defeated by both armies in 1885 and many people were either killed or forced from their homes to live impoverished lives in small rural communities and in the cities. During this campaign many children were taken from their families and given to white people to be trained as servants.

Chile and Argentina are now governed by democratically elected governments. Unfortunately, there is little recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. Government policies and development projects have resulted in additional hardship and detriment to the Mapuche way of life. Recently, Chilean laws concerning land rights have come under scrutiny because of their apparent disregard for the Mapuche people. It has to be stated that the Mapuche people are not against development but have very little legal representation on their behalf in order to achieve a settlement which will ensure more equitable and sustainable developments in which they can participate and by which they can benefit.

The existence of the Mapuche people is not recognised in the Chilean constitution nor does the Chilean state subscribe to international laws that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 169. This means that neither the legal nor educational systems are obliged to make a distinction between Mapuches and Chileans of European origin. Consequently, the ancestral territorial resources of the Mapuche people are continually ignored and are legally taken into private ownership. With regard to the educational system, this is orientated to promote cultural uniformity, which makes it very difficult for the Mapuche people to maintain their cultural identity. As a result, the Mapu-dugun (the Mapuche language) is quickly dying out with the younger members of society.

By: Reynaldo Mariqueo and Jorge Calbucura - www.mapuche-nation.org

June 16th, 2006

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June 12th, 2006

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Is there anything in your life/what you do that you sometimes think is one of the most anti-productive things that you encounter, but when you really look at it, it might be the most productive thing in your life?

April 16th, 2006

FGM is a social custom, not a religious practice. However, in those Muslim countries where it is practice, FGM is often justified by a controversial saying attributed to the Prophet Mohammed that seem to favor sunna circumcision. The authenticity of these sayings are unconfirmed, and some scholars have refuted them. Even if true, they only permit the practice; they do not mandate it.

FGM has probably been performed for at least 1,400 years (some references estimate 2,000 years), and started during what Muslims call "al-gahiliyyah" (the era of ignorance). The Qu'r'an, Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures (New Testament) is silent on the subject. The Sunnah (the words and actions of the Prophet Mohammed) contains a reference to female circumcision.

According to the Muslim Women's League:

"Those who advocate for FGM from an Islamic perspective commonly quote the following hadith to argue that it is required as part of the Sunnah or Tradition of the Prophet:

'Um Atiyyat al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (pbuh) said to her: Do not cut too severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband'." 1,8

One interpretation of this passage is that the woman was going to proceed with the circumcision anyway; Muhammad suggested that she remove a smaller amount of her genitalia than she had perhaps intended to.

This passage is regarded by many Muslims as having little credibility or authenticity. The Muslim Women's League comments: "According to Sayyid Sabiq, renowned scholar and author of Fiqh-us-Sunnah, all hadiths concerning female circumcision are non-authentic." 1 An extensive analysis of classical Muslim authors is available online. 2

Many Muslims see passages in the Qur'an which, by implication, oppose FGM. they reason:

God apparently created the clitoris for the sole purpose of generating pleasure. It has no other purpose. There is no instruction in the Qur'an or in the writings of the Prophet Mohammed which require that the clitoris be surgically modified. Thus God must approve of its presence. And so, it should not be removed or reduced in size or function.
The Qur'an promotes the concept of a husband and wife giving each other pleasure during sexual intercourse. For example: "It is lawful for you to go in unto your wives during the night preceding the (day's) fast: they are as a garment for you and you are as a garment for them." (2:187)
"...and He has put love and mercy between you." (30:21)

Mutilated genitalia reduce or eliminate a woman's pleasure during the act.

The Qur'an (An-Nisa': 119) states that Satan will try to trick humans into body modification: "And I will surely lead them astray, and arouse desires in them, and command them and they will cut the cattle's ears, and I will surely command them and they will change Allah's creation." This might be interpreted as forbidding FGM as well as tattoos, piercing and any other modification that alters the design of the human body as Allah created it.

Nawal El-Saadawi, a Muslim victim of infibulation, stated:

"The importance given to virginity and an intact hymen in these societies is the reason why female circumcision still remains a very widespread practice despite a growing tendency, especially in urban Egypt, to do away with it as something outdated and harmful. Behind circumcision lies the belief that, by removing parts of girls' external genitals organs, sexual desire is minimized. This permits a female who has reached the dangerous age of puberty and adolescence to protect her virginity, and therefore her honor, with greater ease. Chastity was imposed on male attendants in the female harem by castration which turned them into inoffensive eunuchs. Similarly female circumcision is meant to preserve the chastity of young girls by reducing their desire for sexual intercourse." 3

Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, head of the al-Azhar Islamic Institute has stated that the practice is un-Islamic. The Health Minister of Egypt, Ismail Sallam, announced the ban on FGM in 1996-JUL. This was upheld by a junior administrative court in Cairo.

Sheik Youssef Badri, a Muslim fundamentalist, took the health minister to court. In 1997-JUN, an Egyptian court overturned the country's ban on FGM. Eight Muslim scholars and doctors had testified that the ban exceeded the government's authority and violated the legal rights of the medical profession. Sheik Youssef Badri commented: "[Female] circumcision is Islamic; the court has said that the ban violated religious law. There's nothing which says circumcision is a crime, but the Egyptians came along and said that Islam is a crime." About 1997-JUL-6, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel interviewed Sheik Badri. He claimed that many Muslim women are pleased with this victory of Islam over its enemies. When it was pointed out to him that parents in Morocco and Algeria do not practice FGM, he replied that the clitoris in Egyptian girls was larger than in those countries and had to be cut back to a normal size. He quoted a French study which showed that circumcised girls are less likely to catch AIDS. * He believes that the United States is spreading misinformation on the health risks of FGM.

* Author's note: This may be true; victims of FGM are probably less likely to be sexually active.

The government appealed the case to Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court. They ruled that the operation is not required by Islam, and that "female circumcision is not a personal right according to the rules of Islamic Sharia (law)." Thus, FGM is subject to Egyptian law. They prohibited the procedure, even if it is done with the agreement of the child and her parents. However, gynecologists will be able to approve the surgery if it is needed for health reasons.

Fatwas are published opinions by Muslim religious scholars. They are non-binding in law. But Muslim believers are expected to follow them. In Egypt, a number of Fatwas have been issued by the influential Egyptian Fatwa Committee on FGM:

1949-MAY-28: They decided that it is not a sin to reject female circumcision.
1951-JUN-23: They stated that female circumcision is desirable because it curbs "nature" (i.e. sexual drive among women). It stated that medical concerns over the practice are irrelevant.
1981-JAN-29: The Great Sheikh of Al-Azhar (the most famous University of the Islamic World) stated that parents must follow the lessons of Mohammed and not listen to medical authorities because the latter often change their minds. Parents must do their duty and have their daughters circumcised.

*** MY SAY ON THIS : it is barbaric and unhealthy... yet i can understand why its done from a religious point of view..
i personally.. (having a vagina and all ) would NOT permit this to me performed on me... Females that get this done risk getting infections.. and possibly excesive loss of blood. I at the moment am trying to inform myself more on this so that way i could help with the prevention of this and involve the consulates and possibly aid the activists where this mutilation is performed. I can not believe this is happening to other women in the world.


March 30th, 2006

I. Absolute Individuality and Absolute Freedom.
The Existentialist conceptions of freedom and value arise from their view of the individual. Since we are all ultimately alone, isolated islands of subjectivity in an objective world, we have absolute freedom over our internal nature, and the source of our value can only be internal.

II. The Existentialist View of Human Nature.
Existentialism is defined by the slogan Existence precedes Essence. This means:

1. We have no predetermined nature or essence that controls what we are, what we do, or what is valuable for us.

2. We are radically free to act independently of determination by outside influences.

3. We create our own human nature through these free choices.

4. We also create our values through these choices.

The Existentialist View (We create our own nature.): We are thrown into existence first without a predetermined nature and only later do we construct our nature or essence through our actions.


This slogan is opposed to the traditional view that Essence precedes Existence, according to which we are seen as having a given nature that determines what we are and what our ultimate purpose or value is. We are understood by analogy to artifacts which are made with a pre-existing idea or concept of what they will be and what they will be good for.

The Traditional View (which Sartre argues against):


The human situation for the Existentialist is thus characterized by:

1. Facticity (throwness): We find ourselves existing in a world not of our own making and indifferent to our concerns. We are not the source of our existence, but find ourselves thrown into a world we don't control and didn't choose.

2. Anxiety: We are faced with the lack of any external source of value and determination. We are faced with the responsibility of choosing our own nature and values, and, in doing so, we are faced we must face the awesome responsibility of choosing human nature and values for all men in our free choices.

3. Despair: In seeing the contrast between the world we re thrown into and which we cannot control and the absolute freedom we have to create ourselves, we must despair of any hope of external value or determination and restrict ourselves to what is under our own control.

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First entry in this community, lets hope all goes well!
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