Saturday, December 08, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Two-thirds of murders use firearms and about 42.2% of robberies within the country use firearms according to the FBI. Therefore, it can be argued that guns are the root of a lot of crimes in the U.S. Do you think that people should have the right to feel protected and in control by bearing arms? Or would people feel more safe if everyday citizens were prohibitted from owning firearms? Could probitting the ownership of firearms put an end to tragedies such as today's horrible news from a shopping centre in Nebraska that resulted in the murder of eight people, five people wounded, two people in critical condition and the suicide of the murderer?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The military is indeed a changing institution; it strives for change, for improvement, everyday. The military has evolved with technological developments and has adapted to social developments over the course of the country's history.
My question to everyone else: Much is spoken about the negative impact of allowing openly homosexual people serve in the military. What is the negative impact of NOT allowing openly homosexual people serve in the military. The answer to this question is key to arguing successfully against the Republican candidates.
I immediately responded to the post saying of course it's worth the effort to stop these abuses. Just because there are so many companies doing the same wrong thing, that doesn't make it right, and it certainly shouldn't mean that we look the other way. But so many people still buy the products, right? I mean these are some of the largest manufacturers out there. What can we really do to stop them? Will ONE project at ONE school targeting just ONE of these companies truly make a difference? Should we stop trying, or should we realize that maybe everything has to start with "one"..........
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Oxford University, host to famous individuals such as Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, plans to feature David Irving and Nick Griffin, two openly anti-Semitic men, in an open debate on the college campus. David Irving is a historian who spent a year in an Austrian jail after denying the Holocaust. Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, was convicted for publishing material denying the Holocaust.
Voltaire once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Should this approach be taken with
The students of
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
One may argue that these Honor Killings can be justified by cultural relativism, because in Islamic law an unmarried woman found guilty of having an affair can be sentenced to 100 lashes, and for a married woman, the sentence is death by stoning. However, some of these killings may not even be Honor Killings, may not even be Honor Killings. The killings of Wafa Wahda and her sisters Sima and Eman el-Adel by their brother was said to be Honor killings, but it is believed that they had an inheritance dispute.
What is to be done about these killings when the government is in such array that it has other matters to attend to? The sentence is astonishingly light and something needs to be done, so that these killings do not continue.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
When is it appropriate to intervene? How much faith do you, personally, put in "cultural relativism"?
Her only crime? Meeting with an unrelated man (and getting gang raped by 7 others).
The court claims that they upped her sentence because she spoke to the media. However, the fact remains that a sentence was imposed upon the victim of a heinous crime simply because she had the guts to speak to the media about her presumably harrowing ordeal.
We've discussed cultural relativism, but how much is too much? Can we admonish a country for punishing a victim?
Adam Habid says he is not a terrorist. Instead, he is a critic of the current administration and he believes, backed by the ACLU that is in charge of his case, that this is the reason he is being denied a visa. Since 9/11, writers, artists and others have found it much harder to get in the US. Like Habib, many of this people have in common being vocal critics of US foreign policy. Habib is arguing that his first amendment right is being violated because he has the right to speak out against the US government and the people at the conference he is trying to attend have the right to hear what he has to say.
Habid’s case raises many questions about free speech and due process. A spokesman for the US government states that “The US would never sacrifice civil liberties, but life is the liberty on which all others depend.” Does national security override free speech? Are Habid’s rights being violated? Does he have the right to speak and be heard in the United States? Is it ok for an American to criticize US foreign policy without being labeled a terrorist or does this only apply to foreigners?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Generally, the Cambodian society is tolerant of homosexuality. Even so, in 2004, “then-King Norodom Sihanouk announced his support for gay rights, including the right to marry."
In spite of his actions towards his daughter, the Prime Minister in his speech to a graduating class pleaded to parents and society not to discriminate against homosexuals.
How can he disown his daughter because of her sexual orientation and then tell others not to discriminate against homosexuals? What do you think about his actions? What is your view towards homosexuals?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In South Africa, a young mother named Helen Madide was forced by her husband, a muti-man himself, to kill their child. Her husband believed that his ancestors demanded that both the child and the mother die. According to these ancestors, once the two were dead, he would become rich. The man forced the woman and the child down a path where he then told the mother to hold the baby while he cut its throat. After the baby was dead he began to remove its various limbs and sexual organs. Helen survived the ordeal, however, she is plagued by the fact that she participated in hers child’s brutal death.
Jeffery Mkhonto is a survivor of an attack by gang members who removed his sexual organs. Jeffery was coerced into going to a neighbour’s house to get some food. His neighbour, along with a few other men instead removed his genitals with the intention to sell them later on.
In many cases, the body parts of these children are removed while the child is still alive. This is done as magic/muti men believe that the screams of the child enhance the strength of the magic.
This is a practice that receives little attention from the international community. Investigators believe that it is something that occurs far more frequently than we think. A prominent South African human rights activist states that “… children [go] missing every week from our townships… The assumption is that those missing children are being put into prostitution and also that they are being used for muti murder."
As believers in the ideal that all deserve the protection of their human rights, and that one is entitled to live life free from, what is our responsibility to these victims? The rights of these children are being sickeningly abused. Consider the possibility that these events may very well exist in this society. Consider the notion that everyone is at risk. In this regard, this is something that may happen to you, as well as it may happen to anyone around you. Therefore, we are all affected. What chances does the youth of South Africa, and the youth of the world for that matter, have in building a bright future for themselves?
The case is controversial for a multitude of reasons. First, it raises the question of the human rights issues associated with the questioning techniques utilized by U.S. authorities on Mr. Arar in Syria. Also, how does the fact that Arar was not a U.S. citizen, but a Canadian citizen, factor into the case? A Justice Department lawyer stated that the Constitution is not applicable in Arar’s case because his torture took place in a foreign country and because he was not a U.S. citizen. What role does state sovereignty play when a country violates the human rights of a citizen of another nation? The appeals court is still in the process of deciding Arar’s lawsuit appeal, a decision that will have ramifications on a universal scale.
From the Lebanon Daily News:
Members of the radical Kansas-based organization will protest at the funeral of Nelson Long Jr., which is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Grose Funeral Home in Myerstown, according to a news release from the group.
The funeral home is located at 358 W. Washington Ave.
Long, who graduated from Elco High School in 1990, was killed early Thursday morning when his sport utility vehicle failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck two trees along Route 501 just south of Rosebud Road. He was 36.
A sergeant first class in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Long was awarded a Bronze Star for valor for pulling two wounded soldiers out of a vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq in October 2006.
The Westboro Baptist Church believes God’s wrath is killing U.S. service members because of America’s tolerance of homosexuality. Its members travel around the country protesting at funerals of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs that say things like “Thank God for IEDs” and “God Hates Fags.”
Long’s mother, Shirley Long, said yesterday she is not happy that the organization plans to protest.
“It’s sad enough as his mother. I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get through Thursday?’ Now, this,” she said yesterday.
Although she acknowledges the group’s members have a right to protest, Long said, she’s hoping that somehow they’ll be held back or just won’t show up.
“I’m just so distraught,” she said. “To lose my son at that age, and he had only been back for a month, and I didn’t get to spend quality time with him, then to have somebody make a circus out of his memorial service. Maybe God will intervene.”
Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, said in a phone interview yesterday there wouldn’t be more than eight protesters at Long’s funeral, because church members are scattered around the country protesting at other funerals.
Phelps-Roper said it doesn’t matter that Long was not killed in action.
“He is the face of the doomed American military,” she said. “God is executing his judgment on the nation, and he’s focusing in on the military, so we’re focusing in on the military.”
Phelps-Roper said the organization doesn’t just protest service members killed in Iraq. This week, its members are also protesting funerals of soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Italy and others killed in Afghanistan.
Kathy Grose, owner of Grose Funeral Home, said she has notified the Myerstown police department and the National Guard about the planned protest.
“I’m taking all the precautions I can,” Grose said. “There’s not a whole lot we can do.”
Members of the Patriot Guard — a group of motorcyclists that attends funerals of service members to shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by protesters — will attend Thursday’s funeral, state captain Bud Roberts said.
Cpl. George Peach of the Jonestown barracks said the state police are aware of the situation.
“The state police have assigned a number of troopers to be in attendance, if necessary,” Peach said. “If there is a protest, if this group does indeed show up, there will be a state-police presence there.”
Another reason the group decided to protest Long’s funeral, Phelps-Roper said, is its proximity to last month’s court case in Baltimore that made national headlines. Jurors in a case in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore found that Westboro members intentionally harmed the grieving family of a Marine killed in Iraq by holding a demonstration at his funeral in March 2006 and by a subsequent Internet posting about his family background.
The fallen Marine’s family was awarded nearly $10.9 million in damages.
“You guys need to understand that it changes nothing,” Phelps-Roper said, adding that the organization plans to appeal the ruling. “Soldiers are still dying, and America is still doomed.”
In addition to slogans used in the past, Phelps-Roper said group members will also carry signs Thursday that read “Thank God for $10.9 million.”
Meanwhile, Shirley Long said she was aware of the Baltimore ruling but added that she doesn’t believe in filing a lawsuit. She said she did not know whether or not her son’s wife, Daphne, would consider it.
Regardless, Long said, her faith is helping her get through these trying times.
“We’re a very Christian family,” she said. “I believe that my only son is in heaven with God’s only son. That can give me some peace, because he knew the Lord.”
This will be the third time Westboro Baptist Church members have visited Lebanon County. They protested following the 2003 screening of a documentary film about a gay Cornwall teenager who killed himself in 1997, and returned in 2004 when they protested in front of Cedar Crest High School because students had formed a gay-straight alliance.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"They that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither." - Benjamin Franklin
Several posts this semester have commented on the controversy surrounding the U.S. using torture. The video from CNN tells the story of a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who was deported from the U.S. on suspicion of attending an al-Qaeda traning camp in Afghanistan and sent to Syria. He was held there for over 10 months and tortured until he finally "confessed" to being affiliated with the terrorist organization. Upon his confession he was released from Syria and sent back to Canada.
Proponents of torture argue that it is a necessary evil in the struggle for national security. But exactly how is someone confessing to something they didn't do just to make the torture end making us any safer? Is this man's experience a price we're willing to pay for what supposedly will bring us increased security?
Monday, November 12, 2007
Unfortunately, today Pakistani police, in an attempt to prevent a protest rally lead by Bhutto, issued a seven-day detention order. Government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan has expressed that there is sufficient evidence that Bhutto is indeed a target should she go through with the protest. Similarly to how the police prevented a previous protest planned by Benazir Bhutto, the government will confine her to her home, most likely using barricades.
Bhutto stands for democracy in a country that is now deprived of democracy. She is fighting for a cause that will benefit the people and allow them to have a voice where right now they certainly do not. The United States is put in a difficult position because Pakistan is an important ally of ours and General Musharraf has been somewhat helpful in the war against terrorism and the fight against Al Queda. Pakistan is likewise in a very strategic location surrounded by Afghanistan, Iran and India. It will be hard for the United States to continue to support a non-democratic Pakistan, but if we don’t, we could lose an ally in a very important area.
Should the US support Benazir Bhutto and her fight for Democracy and risk losing Pakistan as an ally?
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The World Health Organization (WHO) began its Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 2003, targeting
In 2004, half of all new polio cases originated in
By 2006, the vaccination initiative was on the rise, but so was the polio virus. Children in
Today, as reported October 10, 2007,
Were the OPVs properly tested before they were administered to children in
Were the OPVs tested for repeated administration, as they were anticipated to be distributed in
Did the WHO anticipate the mutations that occurred?
How should this new strain of polio be addressed?
Where could this new strain of polio spread if not properly addressed?
How can it be contained?
Yahoo has also aided the Chinese government in the arrests of three men accused of anonymous postings online. Two of these three men are still serving multi-year sentences for crimes against the government. General Counsel for Yahoo, Micheal Callahan has also been accused of offering false information to Congress regarding these issues. He, along with Yang, have offered public apologies, but neither has offered any future changes to Yahoo's practices that would resolve the issues at hand.
These cases raise the issue of which laws become more powerful when dealing with American companies abroad. China does not offer the same protections of speech and expression as the United States does, and American companies become pressured into following the local laws of a nation. Only when companies like Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft agreed to follow Chinese restrictions were the companies allowed to operate in China.
By cooperating with Chinese officials, Yahoo helped violate the human rights of Shi Tao. International law didn't seem matter here, when Yahoo was looking to keep itself operating within Chinese borders. Is it right for companies to lessen the protection of human rights in order to do business? Are internet companies under any obligation to protect its users? Or is it ok for these companies to do what they have to in order to access potential markets, regardless of human rights?
The United States is in a difficult position. Pakistan is one of our strongest allies in the war against terror, Al Queda and the Taliban. We’ve given them over 10 billion dollars since 2001, mostly for military aid. Yet, martial law is far from democracy and the United States should and has pushed for a return to democracy as soon as possible.
Should the United States withdraw their aid to Pakistan (therefore losing a key ally) to fight for democracy and the right for election, free speech and protest for all? “Extraordinarily heavy-handed measures” are being used to unjustly arrest lawyers and human rights activists each day (New York Times). The United States government says human rights are for all, but how important are they when money, power and influence come into play?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Am I the only one here that doesn't get it?!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Is there a value placed on a court case labeled "hate crime?" Do we judge the court case any differently even though the defendants are being tried for kidnapping and sexual assault instead of hate crimes? Is it about the status of a court case, or does the victim feel the need to provoke and expose hatred on a national scale?
Thursday, November 01, 2007
According to the article, "the jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress."
The Westboro Baptist Church defines hate groups as we learned in class. They are clearly fanatic religous zealots with no tolerance for those who are not a part of their cause. While this group is a quintessensial hate group in the purest sense of the term, should they be allowed to practice free speech, or do they deserve to be sued for expressing their (quite laughable, I must add) opinion. Is protesting a funeral an abuse of free speech? Is there even such a thing as an abuse of free speech? In addition, should $10.9 million be awarded to Mr. Snyder in this case, or was the jury being as extreme in their condemnation of the Church as the Church is in their condemnation of America? These are very touchy questions that need to be addressed. On one hand, our right to the freedom of speech is called into question. On another hand, the issues of frivolous lawsuits and overcompensation are being addressed. Personally, I feel that picketting a funeral is emotionally damaging and should be awarded compensation in a civil court. However, I think that $10.9 million may be a bit excessive in this case. Should a civil jury be allowed to make a socio-political statement in their verdict? I will leave that up to you.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
And it doesn't stop there. In Colombia, Coke has been charged with hiring paramilitaries to act violently against anyone who opposes their bottling companies. There are on-going investigations of the murders of many union workers and protestors. Coke has been using similar fear tactics in many other under-developed countries around the world.
In order to "Pay It Forward," we want to Kick Coke off of F&M's campus as the exclusive vendor, following the example of the protestors in Plachimada. We want to use our power as consumers to make a difference and hold Coke accountable for its human rights and environmental transgressions. We can do our part to send a message to Coke by joining the initiative to Kick Coke off College Campuses. Several colleges in the immediate area, including Swarthmore, have already done so, and many other schools are following suit. To get more information check out our blog (linked to the post) and our display in the Atrium which will be up all week. Also, look for emails about the documentary we will be showing in the upcoming weeks.
Disgusting? Gruesome? Yes. Deserving of the death penalty? Russia says no. We've talked about how "civilized" countries have abolished the death penalty -- but when a serial killer who has killed at least 48 people (and probably more) clearly cannot EVER be rebahilitated or released back into society, wouldn't the use of the death penalty be appropriate? Opponents of the death penalty argue that prison is for rehabilitation, but I very much doubt the death penatly's opponents would feel safe and secure if this man was "rehabilitated" and then moved in next door. Furthermore, we keep hearing that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind," but there isn't there a point at which we should draw the line? How about "an eye for 48 pairs of eyes makes the world a safer place"?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The bill was defeated in Congress.
Would this proposed act provide a "special path to citizenship that is unavailable to other prospective immigrants -- including young people whose parents respected the nation's immigration laws"?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Thousands have been arrested and citizens live under this harsh military dictatorship and constantly live in fear. The people are only allowed to talk in whispers about the government. As a 66 year old man in Rangoon states, "The people, we all feel so cramped up inside. We cannot talk. We cannot do anything. This government, they are killers. They have guns, but the people have nothing."
Daily routines have somewhat returned though constant reminders remain such as the barbed wire at the entrance to Sule Pagoda. Tourists have not been visiting Rangoon and it is almost like a forgotten city. The streets are filled with holes, buses have wheezing engines, and electricity is constantly flickering on and off.
Hundreds of people are missing and as many as 200 people have been killed. Conditions are horrible with scarce drinking water and one person, "...was given one egg to share with eight people, one bottle of water. No one was allowed to sleep. They had to sit, and if they lay down, they were hit." Basic human rights such as freedom from fear, freedom from speech and freedom from unreasonable searches are constantly being violated.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Edmary Mpagi served 18 years on death row in Uganda for the murder of a man who in fact was alive. In July 2000, Mr. Mpagi was finally free after enough evidence was found to prove his innocence.
“It was 18 years and three months that I spent in there,” Mr. Mpagi said. “There wasn't one day I didn't think I was going to die. Others should not go through what I went through - the guilty ones or the other innocent ones like me.”
Now that Mr. Mpagi is out of jail, he spends much of his time on a campaign against government-sponsored killing.
Even though opponents of capital punishment, like Mr. Mpagi, face obstacles such as religion, politicians, and citizens who are fed up with criminals. Their effort in trying to eradicate the death penalty in Africa is making headway. For example, eighteen years ago only one country in Africa, the island of Cape Verde, did not practice capital punishment. Today, according to Amnesty International, 13 African countries have now abolished the death penalty for all crimes. However, 20 countries retain the death penalty but are no longer carrying out executions and 20 countries retain and use the death penalty.
Those who are advocates of death penalty in Africa say, what about “those who dare to take the life of another, violate a woman or commit a crime while wielding a gun ought to pay with their lives.” Mr. Mpagi’s asks, “What about false prosecutions. What about cruel and unusual punishment? What about evidence that suggests that having a death penalty does not deter people from killing, raping or robbing?”
What do you think about the death penalty? Will the death penalty ever be eliminated in America?
To this date, none of the Khmer Rouge leaders have been put on trial. In fact many leaders such as Pol Pot and To Mok have died, and many of them led comfortable lives in Cambodia even after the genocide. In 2006, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia or the Khmer Rouge tribunal was established, to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders or those "most responsible" for the crimes committed against the Cambodian people between 1975 and 1979. There are a number of concerns about the tribunal especially since it is being established nearly thirty years after the end of the genocide, and only has a three year mandate. However, Noun Chea is among the first to be indicted for crimes against humanity. The link has numerous pictures of Cambodia today, and documentation of the genocide. It will be interesting to see the role that international law and the tribunal plays for Cambodia today.
Iranian State TV has introduced the very shelter Iranian community a new mini-series based on the Iranian Embassy in Paris during World War II. The state run television has been trying to attract more viewers since the early 1990's. In the new mini-series called " Zero Degree Turn" portray highly controversial political messages that previously would have never be accepted. Iranian media expert explained that the government have finally adapted this new type of TV to instill unity among the Iranian community in the time were they face such intense international pressure for its nuclear program.
The series depicts the Iranian Embassy in Paris during World War II, when employees forged Iranian passports for European Jews to flee to Iran. The series is built around a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian man and a Jewish Frenchwoman he helps escape to Iran.
Is the Iranian government using sensitive issues such as the Holocaust to indirectly achieve national pride for their current government choices?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Dowry is a gift of money or valuables given by the family of the bride, to the family of the groom at the time of marriage. Though initially implemented by the wealthy, it is now a form of insurance in the case of the in-laws mistreating the wife. Though legally prohibited in 1961, dowry also known as dahej, continues to be highly institutionalized. What resulted from increased dowry demands were dowry deaths or bride burning which is the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Every 12 hours a dowry related death claimed to have taken the lives of over 20,000 women across
It is ironic that in
Though prohibited, dowries are commonly asked for by the families of the groom. The families of the daughter have to comply in order for families to get their daughters married. This leads to further problems like those of child infanticide which is the killing of female infants because of the problems families have to face in getting her married some day. It also solidifies the position of woman as subordinate to the man. Brides are being sold like market commodities and being tortured when the greed of the groom and his family is not satisfied. What can be done to stop such customs if the law isn’t enough? The punishment for dowry death is already 7 yrs which most certainly isn’t enough time for murder. Then again, the Indian Government does not recognize dowry death to be murder. Also, a lot of women who are subject to torture do not lodge a police complaint as it would bring dishonor to their family.
Social laws are required where culture has failed to institutionally stop injustices of dowry deaths. More importantly there needs to be a cultural rethinking on the status of women which can occur only through education. The problem is compounded by the fact that 63 percent of the female population in
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Austria has many asylum seekers, in return the government has made it difficult for the refugees of the war-torn Balkan’s to seek asylum.
“Cynics say this girl should be given Austrian citizenship just for showing Austrians how confused they are about immigration.”
If Immigration laws are supposed to benefit people Austiria isn’t doing a good job of it and the country is in two minds its laws. Based on this article, I would argue that : To what extent are immigration laws helpful if in some countries the only purpose of the existence of the law separates immigrants from their families and prevents the possibility of families being reunited?
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Cuban migrants have now strategized a new and potentially more successful way of reaching the US. Their route has been redirected westward as they find their chances of getting intercepted significantly decreased by traveling to Mexico and then crossing the US-Mexican border. While this new route may add time to their trip, to these Cubans the time would be worth the successful escape from the Castro regime.
This new route draws many issues into question. There is controversy over the United States accepting Cubans over the US-Mexican border willingly and allowing them to request political asylum/gain US citizenship while there is clearly an issue with Mexican illegal immigrants who are not given similar rights. Due to the Clinton administration's "wet foot/dry foot" policy, if a Cuban migrating to the US is caught at sea he is to be sent back to Cuba or a third country (as the Coast guard has done) but if he makes it to the US shore he is given the chance to remain. Should Cubans be given this chance while crossing the US-Mexican border or should they be restricted to the same conditions Mexicans seeking similar entry are restricted to? Is the wet foot/dry foot policy ethical or should the US stand by one policy instead of US border officials accepting Cubans while US Coast Guard officials return them to Cuba? Are Mexicans and Cubans in Mexico helping or hurting the Cubans' chances of safely reaching the US? Has this effected US/Mexican and US/Cuban relations for the better or worse?
However, a few big questions linger. Is Putin committing human rights abuses? If so, are they severe enough for us to care? If they are, why should we focus our efforts on a democratic Russia? Personally, I feel that Putin is not currently committing human rights abuses. Throughout history, the political culture of Russia has had an authoritative lean. Even when the Soviet Union fell, many older Russians were not ready for democracy, even opposing its implementation. Russia has the sovereignty to do with its democracy what it pleases. However, if Putin takes his centralization too far, we may have something to worry about. Thus, Putin is not yet committing human rights abuses and his measures are not important enough to make a fuss about. In the Bush era of US democracy, worldwide liberty and freedom are of the utmost importance (ie Iraq). However, Russia does not have WMD's and is not abusing its people. Therefore, we need to respect the sovereignty of Russia and allow its political culture to naturally work out the best form of a democratic government. After all, "Russia" is not even 20 years old.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
"The only thing neccesary for the persistance of evil is enough good people to do nothing"
This quote is important to keep in mind while reflecting on the this editorial by Frank Rich, who makes some pretty strong comparisons of what is going in the United States now to what happened before the Holocaust in Germany. Frank argues that the executive branch took advantage of the shell-shocked nation following 9/11 while the other branches failed to provide the necessary checks and balances of what was really happening. Now we are left in a harsh situation. It has become irrefutable that there is torture going on in Abu Ghraib but still the government does not acknowledge it. Instead of instating a draft to get a sufficient number of troops, private contractors like Blackwater are killing civilians in Iraq with no justice being served. Rich believes this is all part of “the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war.” Whether it is through prohibiting pictures of coffins or denying the facts, the White House is counting on the population to not question or be fully aware about what is happening. Like the good Germans who sat back and claimed ignorance while watching the Gestapo torture, we are sitting back and claiming ignorance by letting the government act this way. Those of us that do know are not doing enough to stop it. I know for sure I am not. Are we all just being “good Germans”? What can we really do? Does this situation have the potential to reach the level that it did in Germany? My answer would be no, but then again, I don't think the German's ever thought their situation did either.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
However, opponents of the bill point out that it promotes inequality among victims. According to the bill a villain can get more time for murdering a homosexual or an African American than they would get for murdering a heterosexual or a white person. This allows the homosexual or the African American, and all others covered under the bill, more protection under the law. In an attempt to “prevent” hate crimes and combat hate, are we, as a society, spreading inequality and discrimination, which contributes to hate?
Taking it in another direction, Dozier states “Hate is a kind of anger phobia…Today, however, a phobia is treated as a mental health problem if it significantly interferes with normal functioning. Using this comparison, hate should be treated the same way. In fact, it might be wise to expand the concept of phobia to encompass…persistent, irrational hatred.” Later, in his book Dozier mentions, “Hate…can be delusional. In acting out their hatred, people may honestly believe they are doing the right thing.” Examples of this are Hitler and Pol Pot. If this is true, if hate is delusional or a mental health issue, should persons convicted of hate crimes get more time or less? For other defendants with mental insanity or defects the court takes those issues into account. Should “haters” be allowed to plead some sort of insanity?
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Despite these orders, there have been 16 Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of Blackwater employees, including the death of the Iraqi Vice President's body guard. In a report published by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Blackwater employees are said to have participated in 195 "escalation of force" incidents, initiating fire in over 84%. The full report can be read here: http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20071001121609.pdf
There are two other private security agencies operating in Iraq who have much better track records. Why is this? The article attached to this blog suggests that Blackwater employees lack training before deployment and have virtually no access to mental health services once they are in Iraq. Could these be contributing factors to the incidents? If so, who is really to blame, individual employees or the Blackwater corporation? Are the actions of Blackwater embedded in the situation? Should we be asking private contractors to perform what many feel is the duty of the government? Is it even ethical for our government to ask a private company to represent our interests overseas when the corporation has no accountability to the American people?
Monday, October 08, 2007
In the nothern Bengal Region of India, tea farm workers and their families were left stranded when the proprietors of the tea farms suddenly abandoned the farms when the market price of tea fell. The tea farm workers who lived on the estate had no other means for survival except to sell the unrefined leaves that remained when the proprietors left.
Persons who could leave found jobs nearby, offten obtaining little pay. Those who could not simply had to edure the new economic conditions. Persons who continued to sell tea tree leaves obtained much lower wages than before. Those new wages were and still are unabale to help these persons maintain an adequate standard of living.
This standard of living in northern Bengal is now so deplorable that persons cannot afford food, one of the few basic neccesties. With widespread hunger and malnutrition comes vulnerablitly to opportunist diseases such as anemia and tuberclorosis. Deficiencies of certain essential vitmains and minerals, and the resulting deficiency diseases are common. Because of this, people in the community have become ill. Although there is desire to work, persons are now physically unable.
Government aid which is allocated to help is insufficient and it is not being allocated by currupt local officials who instead keep these vital resources for personal use. Hence the deplorable physical condition of the people does not seem to be coming to an end.
Why is it that tea frmers who once participated in a whorthwhile source of income for their families and for their region are now unable to maintain an adequate standard of living? Why were the proprietors able to leave so freely? Why did the workers not have a representativie group to look out for their intrests?
The tea farmers were labourers who probably did not have the skills or the means to do other jobs. This would cause them to remain in a job that supported them financially but was otherwise lacking, where there may have been poor employee treatment.
Article 23 Part 1 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights states that, "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of emplyment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment." It was unfair for the proprietors to leave the estate without forewarning emplyees.
The situation of the tea farmers is primarily economic, but it does consider basic rights since the persons are unable to obtain nutritious food for themselves. The widespread malnutirition is now affecting the physical well being of persons and further limiting their earning potential. Hence, a cycle is created where persons are unable to work facilitating the lack of food which makes them unable to work in the future.
Although some general consideration has taken place, the amount of aid is inadequate, and there is still a need for this aid to reach the community. The corruption which is occuring violates Article 25 Part 1 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which states, "Everyone has the right to a stndard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and neccessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, dissability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Once proper physical condititon is resotred there are two possible things which the government must do. The reason why the governemt should take responsibility is that these people are unable to change their conditions. Furthermore, lack of proper government regulation allowed the proprietors to simply leave the farms. One of these changes is to train the persons in the community in new worthwhile fields or relocated them to other areas where they can continue tea farming. The other possible change the government must make is to rebuilt the community.
According to the New York Times article everyday 10 new rape victims show up at one particular hospital, and each of these women and girls have been brutally attacked so that their reproductive and digestive systems have been damaged almost beyond repair, with such things as bayonets and pieces of wood. One doctor reports he performs on average 6 rape- related surgeries a day, and the 350 bed hospital is not even large enough to hold to constant stream of victims so many women are forced to leave before they are completely healed.
Not only are the wounds shown on one's body but these women ranging in age from 3 - 75 years old are full of emotional scars. Because of the vast age range many are not even old enough to understand what has happened to them while others can't even fathom where or how to begin their lives again. Many victims not only suffered through their rape but also had to bear having their husbands forced to watch it happen and then killed. In the case of others who's husbands are alive, they have been divorced because their husbands claim they are now diseased.
This rape epidemic has reached proportions never seen before in any context. The number of victims exceeds those reached in Rwanda during the genocide. What is even more disturbing, however, is that no one seems to know why this attack on women is taking place. While most aid workers insist that rape is not a product of Congolese culture many believe point its origins to the 1990s when many Hutu militiamen fled to Congo following the Rwandan genocide. And even though the Congolese military forces also have raped many women the most brutal attacks are believed to be done by the Hutu militias. Another line of thinking is that it keeps escalating because no one is being punished. But with more UN peacekeeping forces than anywhere else is the world how does this keep happening even despite efforts to provide more protection to women? How can we prevent this from continuing? Will the Hutus ever stop targeting others or are they too far gone from of decades of killing and torturing?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The Bush administration has blurred the legal lines as to what is right and what is wrong. Waterboarding, stress positions, and countless other forms of physical and psychological "inquisition" methods are being used on supposed terrorists. Is it right for the U.S. to condone such extreme measure of interrogation? The U.S. claims in the Bill of Rights Amendment XIII that there will be no "cruel and unusual punishment inflicted." If this is true domestically why is it untrue in foreign relations? Where do we draw the line in terms of acceptability for this behavior?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
It is not known how many children die a year in this way, as Brazilian authorities often record these deaths as malnutrition cases out of respect for these cultures. It is an argument of cultural relativism— is it a question of murder or the preservation of a culture? Anthropologists argue that abolishing this practice would be in some way a threat to these tribes’ cultures. Human rights groups argue that this is not only a violation of human rights, but that it is simply not logical as this practice actually expedites the extinction of these tribes. I agree with the human rights groups on this issue. Many of these children have problems that are very treatable and instead of looking at this issue as an issue of whether or not we should further isolate these cultures from our civilization, we need to work of getting them access to basic health care. This practice is cruel and has led to a high suicide rate among parents who are not willing to kill their own children. The Brazilian government is currently deciding on “Muwaji’s Law,” a bill that would outlaw infanticide. It might not stop the authorities that falsify the death records, but it would spark a debate, as it already has, about the morality of this issue.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
On September 27th, the government forcibly suppressed, public outcry and protest against the military regime. That day hundreds of Buddhist monks and civilian protestors were detained and ten were reported killed, although many credible reports suggest that ten is a wildly conservative figure.
The government has also placed restrictions on mobile phones and the Internet, limiting the availability for accurate real time information. Public demonstrators cannot protest without eminent threat of detainment nor can they communicate with others in the country or otherwise to relay pertinent and vital information. The government and military regime has a stranglehold on the Burmese people. Why don’t China, India, Russia, Japan or the United States react with direct and sustained reprisal of the government?
The answer seems simple: national interest. When a government considers all of the possible actions it could take, from diplomacy to declaration of war, its own national interest is primarily considered. Human rights affairs are not of enough interest to the world powers. The most that has been done is a US economic sanction against Burma. None of the Asian powers have responded, other then “calling for restraint.” More action must be taken to ensure human rights in Burma.
Monday, October 01, 2007
be getting worse, “the attack was the most dramatic display yet of the new kind of chaos that is engulfing Darfur…” the fighting in Darfur has turned into a “free-for-all” power struggle between dozens of armed groups and the fighting in Haskanita seems to be the worst. The main issue, which stems from this recent raid is whether or not other countries are going to withdraw aid as a consequence of this new chaos. Other countries that have been considering supplying troops to the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission might rethink their position. The plan was to increase the number of peacekeepers from 7,000 to 26,000, but now those numbers might not be possible. This ongoing fight in Darfur needs to come to an end. But with no help from supporting countries I don’t see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Instead of this last raid scaring people away it should shake them enough to realize how desperate the Darfur region is, and how badly they need help to prevent this from happening again and furthermore to take a stand and stop even more severe genocide which is occurring in this region.
While the government begins the legal proceedings to prosecute and possibly deport this man, I think it is imperative that we ask ourselves how much longer this must go on. Is it truly necessary to punish those that, after living a normal life for the past 50 or so years, finally felt comfortable confessing to past sins? Had Henss not said anything at all, he'd still just be an old man living a very normal life (he didn't admit until March of this year that he had ever been involved in Nazi activities). Instead, the government has seen fit to alienate and possibly deport him. Although the Holocaust was an awful chapter of world history, I feel it is absolutely unnecessary to continue to track down and prosecute former members of the Nazi party - this man is 85 years old and likely will not live much longer, anyway. The major figures in this chapter of history are no longer living, and Henss is extremely insignificant compared to Adolf Hitler. What use is it to make the last few years of his life miserable? We all know that the world will NEVER forget the Holocaust, but I think that we can never move forwards if we cannot forgive men like Henss.