Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
More specifically, Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr., son of the former Liberian president, was detained in Miami for committing human rights abuses in Liberia during his father’s presidency. Taylor was responsible for an elite anti-terrorist unit that has been accused of committing various violent assaults, rape, beating people to death and burning civilians alive. “Today’s first-ever charges for torture committed abroad are a crucial step by the US government to ensure justice for this crime,” said Elise Keppler, counsel with Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program. “It is especially significant for Liberian victims of Chuckie Taylor’s alleged abuses. After years of civil war, Liberia’s justice system is in no shape to pursue this type of case.”
While this is indeed an important moment for the U.S. Judiciary System, I wonder how this could affect Americans who have been accused of similar crimes abroad. I think this is especially relevant considering our classes’ ongoing debate about CIA “black sites.”
I see this as an attempt by these countries to move forward and live up to the international call for the respect of human rights.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
First of all, I feel the satanic symbol complaint borders on being hilarious. As for the complaint from those who have children serving in the war-I feel as though whether you have children or other relatives in the war or not, taking offense to a peace sign seems unwarranted. Clearly, those with loved one's off fighting would be definite proponents of peace, as that would likely mean the safe return of their loved ones and a worthwhile end to their fighting.
A peace sign wreath around Christmas time is in no way comparable to a sign that says “drop bombs on Iraq.” It is doing just the opposite, it is a symbol of peace-not an advocate of death and suffering.
Giving aid and getting involved in evil situations is not the only way to promote good. When I read about all of the terrible events that are occuring each day I make a promise to myself to make up for them by living as well as these lives were lived poorly. I do the same tedious daily activities as everyone else but force myself to keep my eyes on what matters. When little things are getting me down I have to stop myself and remind me of my duties. But I always think about when students a hundred years from now look back to today, what will there be that justifies the horrors that we're dealing with? To make up for the Holocaust we gave a homeland to those who had suffered... but in retrospect we know this didn't solve anything. Even if Israel was at peace, would that make up for the millions of individuals whose lives were made into the opposite of what life should be? So I've decided to be the justification. I've decided that I want to give the world something that makes people say, "A child was just raped and mutilated in front of her parents? That's horrible. But look at what this man did with his life." And my accomplishments won't include trying to stamp out all the evil in the world so that it's neutral instead of ugly. Instead, I'll be pulling up the other side: the good, joyful, and beautiful.
So here's my statement to all of you. Instead of rushing out of your way to put out the fires that surround you, hold your path. You can spend your entire life trying to put out these fires, but in the end what will you have gained? I'm not advocating denying any sort of aid to anyone, but remember that extinguishing a flame doesn't replace what it consumes. Everyone of us has been given such good circumstances in which to live, so use what you have to increase the beauty of the world. I have a lot to make up for. Won't you help me?
Monday, December 04, 2006
It talks about how the Iraqi Shiite leader is asking the US to leave so that peace can be restored. Bush claims that our presence needs to be increased due to a recent rise in violence. Is it possible that the rise is violence is due to our prolonged presence?
I think that the Iraqi people feel like the fight is between two groups of people and we are interfering in a civil war.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Experts say that this is possible since Chavez's policies have made a good deal of difference in the lives of his people. Ironically, however, the people who are worst affected by crimes are the poor in Venezuela, who also make up Chavez political base. The crimes against the rich are recognized. However, when the poor are killed, or injured, it often goes unnoticed.
Chavez's opponent in the upcoming elections is taking a stand on this issue and is making it a concern for the people.
This comes back to our class argument about whether torture is okay sometimes. In class, there were good arguments made by both sides. If you say that it is “sometimes” okay, that would almost justify Masri’s case if the CIA could produce evidence that they had enough suspicion to detain and torture him. I do not doubt that torture of any sort is a human rights abuse. I even feel that torture of a known mass murder is wrong, because at the end of the day, he is still human. If someone is a threat to society, he can be imprisoned, but he still deserves to be treated humanely. Keepers of justice should never bring themselves down to the level of the criminals – something that is prevalent in justice systems throughout the world today, unfortunately.
Anyone who would read this article would be sympathetic towards Masri. If we were in his position – after all, he is as innocent as any of us – we would be outraged at the CIA and US justice system. They have no right to torture and degrade us in such a humiliating and completely unnecessary manner; however, are the “mistakes” worth it if a terrorist is found every once in a while using this system? Well if I was in Masri’s shoes, the answer would be an immediate “no!” Of course not. If you take a step back and look at the situation from the cushioned, leather chair of a top politician, the answer may “depend.” Ensuring security for all will inevitably lead to a few “mistakes” along the way, but “the end will justify the means.”
As for me, I am just left confused. I feel as though I need to study the work of the CIA, their effectiveness, and other alternatives to make a decision on this topic. I feel there is a lot more under the surface that needs to be considered in this complicated issue before I can effectively argue one side or the other. Our class debate was like the blind fighting the blind with no quality arguments (in my opinion) being brought up by either side. It would be interesting to see how the arguments would change after rigorous investigation of the topic.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The 11-year-old was having a dispute with a female classmate during lunch that became physical and in order to separate the two the boy was tasered twice. He was tasered by a school resource officer with the local police department. It seems particularly worth reviewing the use of tasers especially in a Middle School were I could not imagine many of the kids are big enough that they could not be controlled by other, less harmful, means.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released this statement:
"The United States of America apologizes to Mr. Brandon Mayfield and his family for the suffering caused by the FBI's misidentification of Mr. Mayfield's fingerprint and the resulting investigation of Mr. Mayfield, including his arrest as a material witness in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the execution of search warrants and other court orders in the Mayfield family home and in Mr. Mayfield's law office."
This is an interesting case because it may provide a precedent for hundreds of people who are currently being detained by the U.S. government. However, Mr. Mayfield is a U.S. citizen and may subsequently restrict the use of this case to a finite number of individuals. Regardless, the court’s decision is a monumental step towards resolving a human rights issue that has plagued the current administration.
It is the Christmas season, people are trying to get all of their shopping done. But what happens when everyone wants to give the same gift, the new PlayStation 3 game system for example. In my home town of Putnam CT about two weeks ago a long line of eager customs formed outside of the local Wal-Mart (the same one that I shop at when I am home) waiting for the doors to open so they could grab the PS 3. Two gunmen walked up and down the line demanding money and the one man who resisted was shot. Not too far in Manchester CT a shopper was beaten and robbed of his PS 3. Has everyone gone crazy? People are getting shot over PlayStations?! Clearly scarcity in even luxury items brings out that animal instinct in people.
The article is about whether he has a right to sue the US government -- he was an innocent man -- the CIA made a mistake -- a big one. So what should be done?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
D’Souza believes that certain conflicts labeled as “religious wars” are not actually fought over religion. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mentioned as an example because D’Souza sees the conflict cause by ethnic rivalry. D’Souza does not understand why religion is made out to be a major cause of violence. Rather, D’Souza emphasizes how religion provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocent people. Basically, D’Souza concludes that “religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades,” making atheism the cause of historical mass murders.
D’Souza raises a very interesting issue. Is religion to blame for violence/murder? Is atheism? What about atheism pushes one to behave violently? Is there actually a direct link between atheism and violence? Does the fact that religious people have killed less than atheists mean that atheism is responsible for violent behavior? There are many questions to be asked, and can they ever be fully answered to reveal the truth?
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Moreno-Ocampo’s investigators interviewed judges, prosecutors, Sudanese investigators, a top Sudanese military official, and a senior political official. 600 potential witnesses were screened and 100 in-depth interviews were conducted. “To define the truth is important, and to define the responsibility is important, to prevent it from reoccurring.”
Last week in Ethiopia a tentative agreement was reached to boost the 7,000 member African Union force with 10,000 more UN troops. Sudan, who has opposed deployment of UN troops, has asked for a delay until Wednesday. A senior US official stated that the Sudanese government fears that UN troops “will discover more evidence. What they don’t realize is that there is more than enough evidence now.” Andrew Natsios, a US presidential special envoy to Sudan said, “There is no doubt that the Janjaweed and those who are committing atrocities are an extension of the Sudanese military.”
For those following the situation in Darfur, many of these findings are not new; however, this is a significant step in sending help to the area. Now that the international community is not turning a blind eye to Darfur, some progress can be made to put a stop to the genocide. In regards to the case in Rwanda, Clinton stated after the genocide was over that the US could have sent about 5-10,000 troops that probably could have saved about 400,000 people! I feel the same would be true in Darfur. Even a relatively small effort on the part of the US would be capable of saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Hopefully this statement by the ICC will spur some action by the international community before it’s too late…
The Russian government has refrained from labeling this event as genocide and have been referring to the incident as a tragedy. They claim that Stalin's campaign did not specifically target Ukrainians.
So far ten nations, including the United States, have recognized the starvation of the Ukrainian people as a genocide.
“Moreover, Obaid says, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are using the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut as command and control centers -- an allegation that was also confirmed to TIME by Israeli military sources. Obaid says there appear to be direct communications links between the Iranians and Hizballah, via Hizballah officers working inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, and Iranian officers in the field with Hizballah fighters”
No wonder why the UN can’t stop the smuggling of arms across the boarder. The article brings up the point that it might be Iran’s attempt to expand Shi’ite influence throughout the Middle-East. Just for the icing on the cake Hizballah broke the UN cease fire and the Lebanese government wants to bring a few Syrians to a UN tribunal court for trying to blow up a few cabinet members. Does not look good for the credibility of UN law
Friday, November 24, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I know about realpolitik. I know about oil. I know about keeping the Middle East stable. But if you're not viscerally offended by the idea of a U.S. official flying to Saudi Arabia to apologize to King Abdullah for punishing a rapist, there's something wrong with you.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I could not watch the whole thing. You can clearly hear the student say that he would leave, but the police continue to abuse him. What was even more shocking was the number of students who just stood there. Yes, there were some who asked the police for their badge numbers. They yelled at the police and the police just seemed to yell back.
The video is long--over six minutes. I could not watch the whole thing. It was just too painful.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
There are many questions to be asked about
There are two possible reasons why
Much more likely though is that
No matte what happens,
A mother in Guatelmala had her baby taken from her right out of the hospital because attnorney Javier Oswaldo Morales claimed that she was unfit to have it because she was single and unemployed. Bascially Elivia Ramirez Cano was bribed with money to give up her baby for adoption.
There has beena growing demand for orphan babies from Latin America in both the US and Europe. In the 1980s thousands of children disappeared during the "dirty wars" that were waged on civilians in Latin America from governments. It has now been discovered that most of those children currently reside in the US, Canada, and Europe because they were taken and sold as "war orphans." Currently Guatemalan attorneys are using social workers to coerce, bribing, and forcefully take babies from their homes in order to supply the high demand. They falsify birth records and accuse mothers of being abusive and or a drug user. Meanwhile 20,000 Guatemalan orphans sit in poorly funded orphanages, because the older the child is the less desirable, everyone wants a baby.
The US has finally decided to end the baby trafficking and has threatened to stop allowing adoptions of Guatemalan children unless Guatemala changes its adoption system. While this is a step in the right direction it is appalling that this has been going on since 1980. The whole thing seems wrong to me on so many levels, not only are the child's rights being violated but so are the mothers. And the fact that the families who are buying these babies turn a blind eye to the illegal process makes it seem so synical. Some might argue that these kids are given a better life in the long run, but I see it as stealing someone's baby.
(The link is to a an older article from the late 1990s, but a recent article can be found at http://news.yahoo.com)
Monday, November 13, 2006
W.C. Fields once said, "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.""In its simplest terms, that's what this election was all about - it was a vote against."
According to Tim Egan of BBC news the midterm elections last week were an important step in gaging American sentiment about the current administration and the war in Iraq. Among the most important issues were the administration's record with torture and war policy against terrorists. Egan also pointed out that "corruption" was one of the most important issues to the American people. He then goes on to summarize the recent scandal involving Reverend Ted and the evangelical church. What was this past election really about? I think that corruption is an appropriate word. It covers domestic corruption of elected officials as well as war-policy corruption such as the process of extraordinary rendition. I think that this past election was a referendum on the policies of the current administration, and obviously the American people had something to say...
It is a video that is hard to watch...
How far do you think the case will go? Should the US put pressure on Germany to drop the case, and if they do, is that tantamount to admission of guilt? We've talked about Pinochet's punishment being 'too little, too late,' so isn't this case a good thing? I say let the trial commence. If these men are guilty, they should pay. Why should Americans be above the international laws and conventions to which they have agreed?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I found it interesting that this species that had been aggressive and wild could be bred into a domesticated pet by only letting the tamest of the silver foxes mate. Is the effect genetics plays on our behavior greater than we think? Applying the findings of this experiment to humans seems to suggest that the offspring of aggressive parents are much more likely to be aggressive themselves because they either have an "aggression gene" or lack a "tame gene." Could the end to human rights abuses actually lie in the hands of geneticists? Currently the technology to silence a targeted gene is readily available. We also know how to determine the role of genes. If there is a gene for aggression and we know where in our chromosomes it lies, we will have the potential to "domesticate" the most vicious criminals.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
This article describes a lesser known project of the Nazis to expand their 'superior race'. This program was called 'Lebensborn' or 'Spring of Life'. Supposedly, the program was developed to halt the high rate of abortions occurring during the inter-war years. More importantly, the program wanted to create 'racially and genetically valuable' families. It took in orphaned children with Aryan qualities and gave them to high ranking SS officials. The program also encouraged 'blond, blue-eyed' men and women to mate and increase the master race.
Recently, children from the Lebensborn program who are now around 60 years old are stepping forward and confronting their dark past. Many of them are unsure of their past and do not know who their real parents are. And then there is always the fear of finding out if their fathers were war criminals.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
In class it seems we’re always asking, “how could that happen?” and “how could someone bring themselves to commit crimes of hate against someone else?”
We wonder how the Nazis were able to massacre Jews, how some Islamic extremists wanted so desperately to destroy us, and the list (unfortunately) goes on.
This trailer shows just how easy it is. These camps focus on the manipulation of innocent minds and the creation of a generation of children who want nothing more than to die for Jesus. They are teaching blatant religious stereotypes and we’ve seen the devastation that springs from that.
These young children are learning that “there are two types of people in this world, people who love Jesus and people who don’t.” They are learning separation from those who don’t is the right thing to do and even separate themselves from other schoolmates, neighbors, etc. by pledging allegiance to the Christian flag. They are learning to alienate those who think differently, instead of learning cooperation
Every conflict we’ve studied starts this way: with one group declaring to be the chosen ones- the ones who are right while everyone else’s beliefs are wrong. These divisions are obviously not just a thing of the past or something occurring somewhere else across the ocean. Intolerance is being taught right here in the United States, right now.
I'm just wondering what prisoners can do then? They can't get a lawyer. If by some stroke of luck, they are somehow given access to a lawyer, they cannot give them information about their treatment while in prison. So basically, this situation implies that prisoners who are in all probability being tortured have been abandoned not only by the government, but also that people who could help them cannot because it is necessary to guard the secrets of this nation.
Friday, November 03, 2006
more links to articles:
You know, I thought Halloween was supposed to be something fun, it always was when we were younger, but now - I'm not so sure. On my way to work one morning a radio station was asking people to call in about obnoxious costumes people saw out last night... one caller said someone had dressed as a dead amish girl. I almost started crying while I was driving. Then this article was posted by one of my friends on facebook. The comments absolutely sickened me. I was shocked to read the article, because, you would hope that Johns Hopkins University would house students who have awareness of such issues ... but obviously not. And maybe it takes just one student to make a bad rep for the college, but still - hanging a stuffed african american from a roof with a noose ... is this for real? Are we really in 2006 and students (Johns Hopkins!!!!) think that it's "funny" to joke about slavery? This is someone's comment from the comment page "People complain too much. Just shut up and laugh about it once in awhile and stop being so insensitive. It was meant to be funny not racist." Meant to be funny huh ... it's not funny, it's just not at all funny. The fact that someone thinks it's funny makes me so angry, and then utterly sad ... because I only hoped that somehow this world was changing ...
This really hit a personal note for me - I'm in an interracial relationship, and have lost friends because of it. Lost friends, because of who I'm dating. I'd be lying if I said to you all I didn't look around and see color, everyone "sees" color, but not everyone judges color. It has taken me a long time to realize that because of where I grew up, and because of what I have watched on the news, what I once "believed" or thought to be fact about African Americans, or any race, is not what I really believed, but what I was taught and raised to believe. (I hope that made sense.) Society seems to be a breeding ground to make people believe certain things about certain groups of people, whether it's through the media, maybe where you're from - I don't know, and I don't care what the reason is - for me, it's this simple. Maybe I've said this before on the blog, but when I was in sixth grade, my teacher told us, "we're all pink on the inside." We are all pink. I wish people would really take the time to think about that, really think about it. We're all tied together, because we're all humans.
Granted, what happened to certain groups of people will forever be a part of their past, and what happened at Johns Hopkins is inexcusable.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
- spending evenings out with friends
- eating regularly with family
- marijuana experimentation
- binge drinking
The study then goes on to suggest that “drugs, drink, violence and promiscuity” are some of these “bad behavior” characteristics. I think that this study may have even graver implications.
In an article which we read at the beginning of the year, entitled “Basic Human Needs, Altruism, and Aggression” Ervin Staub proposes a list of needs which every human needs in their life. He then goes on to suggest that the lack of one or more of these needs can increase an individual’s propensity for aggression. Ervin’s list of needs includes:
- physical and phychological security
- personal autonomy and control
- positive sefl esteem
- positive connections and relationships with others
- understanding of reality
It seems that the teens in Europe may be missing some of these basic needs. I absolutely believe that these needs are necessary for the positive development of an individual. In this case, this generation of adolescents in the UK may be little “genociders” in the making. What do you think?
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Those of you who've taken a class with Professor Billig know how much he loves to mention Lee Kuan Yew. Oxford-educated, Yew was the prime minister of Singapore for over 30 years; naturally, his time in the West gave him a keen insight into the Western mind. "We don't want democracy or free speech in Singapore", he often declared, "we want stability. Who are you to push your cultural norms onto us?" This was hardly tin-pot dictator posturing: Singapore has complete religious freedom, the lowest crime rate in the world and a flourishing economy. In return, they have severely restricted most of the freedoms that we in the West enjoy. Most of you have probably heard about the American kid who was caned there for vandalising cars, or the large fines levied on litterers or even gum-chewers. You may not know that Singapore's laws make it almost impossible to move out of one's parents' home until 25, or that being caught with tiny amounts of heroin can lead to a mandatory death sentence (the title article paints a grim picture; it's a couple of years old, so the exact number may be off, but the spirit is still very much alive).
So what do we do? Lee was castigating "open-minded" Westerners who couldn't accept that some non-Western cultures place a low value on individual liberty. Is that right? Do we tell Singapore that they're violating universal human rights, or do we accept that these people have voluntarily given up what we consider essential because they think something else is more important?
Zizi Kodwa, a spokesperson for the ANC Youth League stated "We should bear no grudges against people ... We are building a new country. Let's show them that we are human, we are not these terrorists that they said we were before. Let's embrace the spirit of reconciliation." Could you embrace the spirit of reconcilliation toward a man who oppressed your poeple for so long?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
He speaks of how he can charge up to Rs. 10,00 for every such procedure (approximately $200). Is it then man's greed for money that lets him commit human rights abuses? Are we really that materialistic or is this medical-pracitioner simply evil?
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
by Maurice Ogden
1. Into our town the Hangman came.
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
and he paced our bricks with a diffident air
and built his frame on the courthouse square
The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door
And we wondered, whenever we had the time.
Who the criminal, what the crime.
That Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.
And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead:
Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"
Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."
And he stepped down. and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another's grief
At the Hangman's hand was our relief
And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke.
Out of respect for his Hangman's cloak.
The next day's sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town
And stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.
And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business like.
And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday. with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."
He laughed a laugh as he looked at us: "
...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That's a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new."
Then one cried "Murder!" One cried "Shame!"
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,
"with him that was meant for the gallows-tree?"
And he laid his hand on that one's arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm,
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman's cloak.
That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute T
he gallows-tree had taken root;
Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.
The third he took-we had all heard tell
Was a user and infidel, and
"What," said the Hangman "have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"
And we cried out, "Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows-beam."
The fourth man's dark, accusing song
Had scratched out comfort hard and long;
And what concern, he gave us back.
"Have you for the doomed--the doomed and black?"
The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?"
"It's a trick," he said. "that we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow."
And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score:
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.
The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side:
And the monster cross-beam, looking down.
Cast its shadow across the town.
Then through the town the Hangman came
And called in the empty streets my name-
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought, "There is no one left at all
For hanging." And so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.
He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the strand.
And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.
"You tricked me. Hangman!," I shouted then.
"That your scaffold was built for other men...
And I no henchman of yours," I cried,
"You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!"
Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
"Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said. "Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true"
The scaffold was raised for none but you.
For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward's hope?" said he,
"And where are the others that might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?,"
"Dead," I whispered, and sadly
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
"First the alien, then the Jew...
I did no more than you let me do."
Beneath the beam that blocked the sky.
None had stood so alone as I
And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there
Cried "Stay!" for me in the empty square
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
A recent Christian Science Monitor article by the long-time Africa-watcher, Abraham McLaughlin reports on the return of former LRA fighters to their villages. Can there be reconciliation in Northern Uganda? Is the International Criminal Court necessary? Will the inditements against Joseph Kony (picture above), the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, and Vincent Otti (the second in-command) help the peace process or harm it? Will it help bring an end to the 20 year conflict or will it prolong it? Will it bring justice for those who lost their lives?
Is peace within reach?
The jury is still out on that, but maybe we can learn something from the Ugandans' willingness to forgive...but not to forget?
(Picture uploaded from: pub.tv2.no)
A recent Christian Science monitor Op-ed piece really hammered it home for me: human rights do begin at home -- so does the work of human rights. Lisa Suhay who attended a talk by former high commissoner for the UNHCR, Mary Robinson, recognized that Robinson was right: you can't expect human rights to thrive in the rest of the world, if you don't even have it in your own backyard -- well that's not exactly what she said -- but that's my paraphrase. Robinson quoted one of my favorite heroes: Eleanor Roosevelt -- chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission of 1948: "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? I small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works...Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world". Thanks for helping us re-think the terrible things that are going on in this world and what we should do...
(Picture uploaded from: cityguide.pojonews.com)
Can Video Games Change How People Think?
I was reading the NY Times this summer and I saw an article about socially conscious video games and whether they can make a difference. The question was whether or not the video game industry has matured enough that they could present a subject like the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a serious and probing matter like other forms of entertainment have been able to do.
Well from what I have seen so far from this game Peacemaker, I believe they could. Peacemaker is a political simulation that deals with the Middle East Conflict. A player can either choose to be either the Israeli Prime Minister or President of the Palestinian Authority. Once they choose sides they must attempt to secure the region and promote peace. The game has realistic actions and responses and can help explain to people a very complicated situation in an active and interesting way.
So. Can video games change the world? I don't know, but what I do know is I can't wait to see.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Wanna take a trip to an exotic destination... its free. All you have to do is disobey.
I was reading through the site and I saw that Amnesty International holds guerrilla theater performances in airports. Personally I find this to be quite effective and dramatic. Imagine yourself preparing to board an airplane when suddenly you see someone bound and gagged being transported through the terminal. This kind of protest works on two levels. The first is that it draws immediate attention. People do not know that this is staged. For all they know that person being dragged away is really going to be tortured. The second level is that protest and civil disobedience, is only effective if it is "dangerous" or illegal. Seeing a bunch of twentysomethings holding signs and shouting in the streets has been adopted into the political culture. It is not dangerous any more, the government, or whoever the protesters are protesting do not feel threatened (I am not speaking only about physical violence or property damage, the threatened feeling could simply be that there is some new and unexpected force counter to them).
The old forms of protest are tired and anticipated. For example, if anyone remembers both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, then you may remember the "free speech zones". The "free speech zones" were fenced in cages where legally permitted protest was allowed to occur. Since when does free speech reside in a cage? To me, anyone who "legally" protested in the cage was simply a tool. The real protesters where on the streets, they were among the cadres of both parties; they were acting outside the law and what was expected of them. The reason why the protest of the 60s and 70s where so effective was because it was unexpected and forceful. The Freedom Riders, the Lunch Counter Sit Ins, the campus take overs, all were illegal. These were the people who caused great change, not those who were simply willing to follow the rules and asked for their turn to speak. The people who make a difference demand their turn to speak, and that makes all the difference.
When measures are taken to the help with the situation in Darfur and eventually defeated, improving the situation becomes a challenge and near impossibility. Is there any hope for an end to the violence?
Belov is of the opinion that Russia has never welcomed immigrants. However, the question is not just about Russia's identity. For the sake of argument, I am going to exclude illegal immigrants from this scenario. Therefore, what about those people who want to enter Russia, have all the requisite documents and are making use of legal means to enter the nation? Do we just ignore their right to migrate to Russia because Russia was not built by immigrants? Isn't freedom of movement a basic right? Is the us vs. them distinction so deep in Russia that there is not place for people who are ready to get into the country the "right" way?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
and in entirety here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:2:./temp/~c1095sklM9::
In the first link, take note of Sec948d.(c), and below it note that punishment can include the death penalty. The courts can not even challenge this legislation. This is outrageous. Is the President unconcerned about how he will be remembered - as a war-monger, as a hypocrite, as a civil rights eroder? - or is this nothing more than an October surprise to remind his base about the nebulous War on Terror in order to fire them up for next month's elections? The President says "we do not torture," but after all the other lies and vagaries we have been fed, who really believes him?
In this class, we often focus on the plight of others in the third world, and they are certainly suffering rights infractions far greater than we are in this country, but at what point is enough enough? What will Bush do next in the name of "protecting the homeland" while we watch his wars on TV?
If the military commissions act doesn't concern you, what about a national ID card outfitted with RFID chips? What about the notion that speaking out against the government could be considered aiding terrorists and land you in one of these tribunals? This is just beginning and we should all be very concerned.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and rebel groups has been ongoing sine 2003. After 3 years, the people of Sudan are still not safe. Even those seeking refuge are exposed to unsafe conditions. Should forces outside of the African Union be sent to Darfur? Or, should others ignore the situation in Darfur and let the Africans help themselves? Should we be allowed to sit around and let others suffer when the situation is not their fault? How is it that a peacekeeping mission does not provide the protection the Sudanese need? Is peacekeeping altogether ineffective?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
This summer I interned with Amnesty International back home in New Delhi, and worked with them on their anti-death penalty campaign. AI says that 121 nations worldwide have abolished the death penalty in one form or the other and that 86 out of these nations have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Philippines in the latest addition to this list. However, both India and the United States retain the death penalty. I carried out extensive research on the use of the death penalty in India and found that while the government claims that it has executed 55 people since independence in 1947, the real figure is close to 1400. I found this information by collating lists from different prisons across the nations, spending time with death row convicts and meeting with members of the Law Commission. Something to think about...
Monday, October 09, 2006
Can you believe that in EU countries, 20 - 25% of women are estimated to be victimes of domestic violence? I couldn't believe the numbers were so high! And in a developing country, such as Ethiopia, that number sky-rockets to roughly 71%!
How can a man, intimately connected to a women, abuse her? Where did the hate arise from a relationship which is based on love?
I believe that this shows that even those we see as harmless are capable of doing evil and morally wrong things. The age of the child I found particularly interesting because I think that it shows that any person of any age has the ability to do evil, therefore evil must be in all of us. I think it comes down to whether or not our rational thinking deems something to be evil or not in our own minds. I doubt this kid felt what he was doing was wrong, in his mind what he was doing was fine. His ideas of right and wrong are most likely rooted in society and nurture.
Would this be an example of how society and our surroundings create evil in people?
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Kent encourages that students work and help other not for the fame, glory, or honor that would more or less come from noble acts of kindness but rather act because you truly care and deep down in your soul you know it’s the right thing
In his book he states the 10 paradoxical commandments
1) People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2) If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3) If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4) The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5) Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6)The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7) People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8)What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9) People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10) Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
I encourage all you, my classmates, to read these words of wisdom a few time before making a true judgment. These commandments can not be preached nor can they be taughted. They can only be seen through action and once that is understood purely good intentions will become automatic and seen and realized by the rest of the world.
Remember DO GOOD ANY WAYS
Friday, October 06, 2006
So wait. No killings? No calls for assassinations? No burning churches or dead clergy? What kind of "fury" is this? If I have learned anything from our government and culture, it is that Muslims are violently insane people, but somehow that doesn’t fit with reality before my eyes. Is it possible that they are people just like us?
So, does anyone else find this headline a little weird? It just seems that we are taught to fear Muslims now. Even when they aren’t doing anything, we are still pushed to fear them. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.
ps. I hope you all caught my sarcasm
I thought this video clip would be particularly uplifting amidst all of the sad posts on the blog. It is a Liberty Mutual commercial that gives me chills every time I see it, so I thought I would share. It really demonstrates to me the domino effect of doing a good deed.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
It really helps calm my soul a bit if anything can after such a horrible tragedy.
I've lived in Lancaster County for almost 10 years now -- always curious but respectful of the Amish community. I have an even deeper respect for them now.
I wish that we could do something to make it better -- but I know that we can't. I just hope the Amish community realizes that the rest of the world, and particularly Lancaster County shares their grief.
I encourage all to donate to The Mennonite Central Committee's fund set up to help with medical expenses, etc., for the stricken Amish families. You can find this website at:
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The article is shocking as it points out the inhuman ways in which these girls are treated. Sometimes, simply being sloppy in making one's bed can lead these girls to get inhumanly beaten. In the past five years, there have been five cases of staff having intercourse with these girls as well. I am not American and have heard people make statements like "the prison system is less than perfect," or "it needs reform." However, I had no idea that things got this bad. Has the public been kept in the dark about this issue or do we just have blinkers on?
Should we really be allowed to torture these people and take away the prospects of accountability? No one wants to live in a world with terrorists and terrorism, but terrorists are people too and according to Donelly the purpose of human rights is because we have a vision of human potential. "Treat people lioke human beings...and you will get truly human beings." Are we justified in torturing these people because we think they are bad people, that makes us no better than the Latin American governments of the 70s and 80s who tortured people because they thought they were a threat. Americans today are generally sympathetic with the victims of torture from the past, not with the torturers. With this passing of this legislation have we, as Nadler says "lost our moral compass?"
Monday, October 02, 2006
Saturday, September 30, 2006
The link above refers to an article about UN top officials claiming that a UN peacekeeping force in Sudan is not the best solution to the genocide taking place there. "Outgoing deputy secretary general Mark Malloch Brown has meanwhile said the US and UK's use of "megaphone diplomacy" is almost "counterproductive" in Sudan."
There is a bigger push for funds directed towards the African Union Force--a peacekeeping body in Africa. Considering that the UN is promoting this solution over their own peacekeeping force, maybe we ought to raise awareness (and money) towards the AU Force, instead to writing letters to US senators. Any thoughts?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
This article talks about how Israel has plans to pull back there soldiers to help bring peace back to the area. This gesture will hopefully act as a catalyst to cool down heated groups who are looking to violence as the answer to their problems.
I think that by being as the first to advocate peace by action rather then by making promises and proposing peace, that others will soon fall in suit and the high tensions will be addressed diplomatically.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Relating this to the Holocaust, can we truly say that that was a tragedy of the past and that it will never happen again? Can we really claim that Hitler was the only person who was charismatic enough to indoctrinate the young Germans to hate? Can we propose that today people are much more rational about what they teach their children? If we do believe that the events such as the Holocaust can never take place again, then what is to be said of a 3 year old Muslim girl who has been taught to hate the Jews?
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Eben Kaplan, the author of the article, states that “Richard Falkenrath is just one of the many experts in the recent months to warn about the danger of ‘homegrown’ terrorism and that the next attackers will likely be ‘a lot closer to the Columbine killers, then traditional jihadis. Eben Kaplan goes further to talk about the American Muslim community and their “great assets for foiling homegrown Islamist terrorist.” Yet also states that CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon warns that an “increase of alienation among American Muslims could produce a rejectionist generation.”
To sum up Eben Kaplan’s article, he reports about the growing fear of terrorism in the US and that the American Muslim community is working to stop terrorism but also is being isolated and targeted as threats.
This article coincides with a previous blog titled “U.S. Practice of Renditions” for it talks about how American Muslims are being look at and how the US is responding to terrorism. The article reminds me of the Japanese internment camps during WWII for now American Muslims suspected of terrorism are not sent to camps but placed in jail till the war on terror ends. The questions I have is, “how can we, as Americans, remove the fear we have for American Muslims?” and “How can we get Congress to see past these terrorist reports and believe in the prevention of social segregation instead of trying to enhance our fears and funnel our energy and thoughts to fighting terrorism?”