Saturday, December 08, 2007

More on the Westboro Baptist Church....

This link is a documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church. A BBC reporter went to live with them for a few weeks and everything was filmed for this report...it is going to make you mad.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

US Supreme Court ponders gun law

It has been 70 years since the U.S. Supreme Court has considered the right of Americans to bear firearms. However, recent tragedies have provoked considering banning handguns once again. Many argue that they have the right to protect themselves and feel safe as the Second Amendment states, "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Some opponents to firearms interpret the Second Amendment as meaning that only the militia and police forces are entitled to bearing arms.

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?

Children Accused of Witchcraft

In parts of Angola, Congo, and the Congo Republic, thousands of children are identified as witches and beaten, abused, or abandoned. Their families are shunning them because they are afraid of them. For example, in Angola “it is socially unacceptable to push a child out because of poverty, but not if they are possessed.” There are shelters for the shunned children, but the shelters are not in the best condition. What is surprising is that there are no shelters for girls. Moreover, since July, many children have been turned away from shelters because there are no rooms. What should be done for these children if their parents disown them and they have no one to turn to?

High court probes Guantanamo prisoners' rights

The issue of Guantanamo Bay and prisoners' rights is in the news again. On Wednesday, the constitutionality of how the prisoners were detained without a right to trial, some with little knowledge of what they were being held for was disussed. The Bus administration has been holding fast to the fact that this is what needs to be done, it is a "new style war on terror". Further, they have been claiming that the situation now is better than it was in the past, with war prisoners having more rights now that for example during the World Wars. This was on terror has seen prisoners' rights be affected, but so have the rights of individual US citizens. Are you willing to give up one right for the right of security? Are you willing to be silenced in order to maintain peace? Should you be suspicious or accepting of an administration that slowly undermines civil rights, whether of war prisoners or citizens "for your own good"?

Angel from Heaven

Recently, big news in Detroit comes from a young 7 year old girl by the name of Alexis Goggins currently being hailed as "an angel from heaven" after being shot six times in a valiant effort to protect her mother from being killed by an old ex-boyfriend, Calvin Tillie, a four-time convicted felon. Because of her efforts, her mother is alive, having only sustained a wound to the head and to her bicep, and even after sustaining damage to her eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm is now in stable condition at a Detroit children's hospital. While how a person could commit such a ruthlessly heinous act as "pumping" six shots into Alexis without hesitation, I find it even more amazing how a girl so young would sacrifice herself in an attempt to save her mothers life. Some people could sight this as evidence to the nature of people. Many questions come to mind concerning what was going through her mind when she did this act of heroism. Did she think that Tillie would shoot her? If she did think he was going to shoot her, what drove her to make a move towards Tillie? Was it merely a reaction seeing the gun fired the first time or was this a conscious effort? Or, is it that she cared so deeply for her mother that she was willing to sacrifice herself in order to save her? If you or I were placed in the same situation with our own mother would we do the same or does Alexis and her mother share a far closer bond than most parents and their children? I think that this was truly an act of altruism with Alexis protecting her mother the way she did. I think that her actions are something that many people (or at least myself) who have a healthy relationship with their parents would do. Would you take 6 bullets for one or both of your parents?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

During last week's Republican debate, the issue of gays in the military was raised. (Watch the youtube clip by clicking on the title above) The responses given by the Republicans are not all that surprising. I think that the Republican candidates are being shortsighted and close-minded. They argue that openly homosexual soldiers have a negative impact on unit cohesion. It very well might negatively impact unit cohesion to some degree. However, the truth is that we do not know what the net impact would be on unit cohesion, on the military in general, and on Americans' support for and outlook on the military -- that is, considering all the positive effects and the negative effects, on balancing the impact (maybe not on day #1 of a new policy) will yield a net positive gain. Indeed, support for homosexuality in America is growing, and this support should be reflected in the country's military policy. It is only a matter of time until the US military changes its stance on "don't ask, don't tell." It will change, and the military will be better and the country safer because of this change. One could question whether that time should be now. I believe that the sooner, the better.

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.

Should We Even Bother?

Several weeks ago I made a post related to the Pay It Forward project Nikki and I are doing about Coca Cola's many human rights and environmental abuses in several under-developed countries, especially India and Colombia. One comment on the post brought up the fact that there are many other companies with whom F&M is affiliated that commit many of these same attrocities. With so many of these powerful multi-national corporations out there, is it even worth trying to stop them?

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

MORE Trouble in Sudan

If an ongoing Genocide and the incarceration of an elementary school-teacher were not enough to keep Sudan in the news, this may seal the deal. On November 28, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, reported to the UN Security Council that Sudan has been making excessive demands that block Unamid (the 26,000 person peacekeeping coalition in Darfur) from effectively operating. Among other things, the Sudanese government wants advance notice of troop movements and the ability to shut down communication. Although Unamid is due to take over protecting the people of Darfur in a month's time, the Sudanese government has been reluctant to facilitate this takeover. Guehenno also said that Sudan's demands "create serious uncertainty with regard to the government's commitment to the deployment of Unamid." Despite the government's denial of such claims, it is very evident that Sudan is not fully committed to fixing the situation in Darfur. How much longer will this denial last? Is it Unamid's job to secure Darfur and fight for peace, or should individual nations begin assisting in peacekeeping measures?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More Trouble in the Sudan

As if the crisis in Darfur is not enough, the Sudan has now played host to another questionable human rights situation. Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher who had come to the Sudan to teach Sudanese children, has been arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing her students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad. Sudanese prisons are among the worlds worst due to their lack of beds and clean drinking water as well as very poor quality food. The prisons in Sudan are apparently so bad that the people who are used to the poor conditions of life in the Sudan would find the conditions of the prisons to be deplorable. Should the Sudanese government be allowed to keep its prisons in such a poor condition? Should the British government do anything to intervene in this case on behalf of Gibbons? Should the Sudanese government be able to commit such an obvious breach of Gibbons' human right to free speech or is her "crime" culturally relative?