Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was a part of the opening panel. She'd been beat up in Egypt recently yet is outspoken against persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, as chronicled in a recent issue of Harper's. She spoke appreciatively of WILPF for educating American readers about Hamas and thought John Kerry (a chief emissary of the City of Morons -- my spin) was missing crucial peace-making opportunities by not publicly meeting with one of the two major offenders / defenders in the obliteration of Gaza.
The meeting opened with a welcome from Wayne State's director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Fred Pearson. He invoked the memory of Helga Herz, the librarian for this program for some twenty years. Her mother, Alice Herz, was likewise a strong peace activist during the Vietnam War years and in solidarity with Buddhist protesters self-immolated herself on March 16, 1965.
Given this meeting focuses on corporations and their abuse of humans, now that they've gained human rights themselves per Voodoo Economics (zombies come to life), a lot of the talk focused on water cut-offs.
City managers in Detroit are hoping to sell off / privatize infrastructure as governments abdicating all responsibility for anything has been the name of the game since FDR in North America. To make the water bureau seem like a profit center, human beings around town are seeing their services cut off due to an inability to cough up sufficient dollars.
Detroit has shrunk from two million to 800K people in just a few years and much of the city has a post-apocalyptic appearance.
The move to privatize as in "for profit", allowing money grubbing to reign supreme, is world-wide, with Detroit but an obvious symptom. Zombie Economics, with its walking dead corporations, is working its wonders (sarcasm on) across the nation, with politician-puppets lining up at the microphone to sing its praises while lining their wallets with campaign donations.
Carol knows a lot of these women of course, and has worked with many of them over the years. The always-ebullient Dr. Linda Richards showed up, a happy surprise. She was at mom's award ceremony as well, has spoken at the Pauling House, and helped arrange a tour for Wanderers of the Linus and Ava Helen Pauling Archives at Oregon State University. Ava Helen was an ardent WILPF member / supporter.
We didn't get to stay for more of the conference however. Tara and I drove back to Richmond, Indiana the next morning, after a breakfast with Carol at a nearby diner. That's when I got the $45 parking ticket.
Earlier that first day, WILPF conference attendees went on a bus tour about the labor movement in Detroit, an historic hub of labor activity. The bus was full however, so I used the time window to visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, in particular the restored Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller. I'll do a separate blog post on that visit shortly.