Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Away with Torture

This editorial talks about the lack of accountability on behalf of the U.S. government concerning the situation in Guantanamo Bay. As noted, it is possible that the U.S. has violated the War Crimes Act of 1996, the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice by using several methodically planned means of torture. Who is going to hold the U.S. government accountable? The people? Half of whom who probably have no idea where Guantanamo Bay is and what might be going on there? The ICC? As Sara noted the U.S. isn't even a member and the body lacks any real authority anyway.

I don't know who is going to step up and take responsibility for this, but Americans need to realize that what's occurring in Guantanamo has nothing to do with justice, and it sacrifices the principles we're supposedly trying to preserve, further endangering our nation by breeding international contempt and hatred. If we condemn other nations for acts of torture and allow their victims to seek refuge here, we are saying torture does not have a place in those societies. Why are we allowing it in ours?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Limits of the ICC

This article spotlights the powerlessness of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This article profiles two of the men in positions of power who led and supported the crimes against humanity committed by the Janjaweed militia in Sudan. While the ICC "issued arrest warrants" one year ago, the Sudanese government says the ICC "has no jurisdiction to try Sudanese suspects". What then is the role of the ICC? Is it enough to encourage member states to voluntarily extradite those who commit gross human rights violations to be tried in front of the national community? Sudan won't extradite the suspects, the U.S. isn't even a member (lucky for former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, among others): What is the proper role of the ICC?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pennsylvania town taking immigration into their own hands

In Hazleton, PA - a town not too far from Lancaster - the mayor passed a measure that gave authorities "extraordinary power" when dealing with illegal immigrants. The law was actually targeted at employers and landlords who dealt with illegal immigrants. Since it passed in Hazleton, federal court has deemed it unconstitutional. Still, the desire to pass the law and the support it has received from Hazleton's non-Latino population has caused tension in the town. Hispanic residents who are citizens of the US are targeted the same as illegal immigrants, and discriminated against in town. Hazleton also blames increased crime on the illegal population.
I think this raises interesting questions about immigration control and policy in the United States. The mayor, Lou Barletta, (who now plans to run for congress) passed the bill because it was his duty to protect the (legal) residents of his town. He also mentioned that the officials in Washington weren't doing their jobs in this area. Should towns and cities be able to control the illegal immigrant population as they wish? Is it important for the safety of each municipality? Or should it be federally regulated? Hazleton's story suggests that towns want more control over their own populations, however unconstitutional it may seem.

A New U.S Border Patrol?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Should President Carter Have Met with Hamas?

The former president says that the issue is not that he met with Hamas, widely regarded as a terrorist organization, but that the United States and Israel refuse to. Should organizations considered to be terrorist be included in diplomatic dialogue if the goal is peace? Or would this encourage groups to employ terrorist tactics to gain a voice? Was former President Carter out of place and did his meeting legitimate a terrorist group, or are the policies of not negotiating with terrorists outdated and impeding the peace process?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Undocumented Immigrants & Health Care

A very interesting story -- a 21 year old undocumented immigrant with 4 liver transplants -- who should foot the bill? U.S. taxpayers?

Monday, April 07, 2008

What Issues Should DHS be Focusing On?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently placed even more emphasis on state compliance with the Real ID Act. Part of this initiative pushes for national IDs, as opposed to state IDs, in order to reduce the prevalence of identification fraud after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Many states are opposing this Act, claiming "bullying the states is not the answer, nor is threatening their citizens' rights to travel." State representatives are also rejecting the Act on the basis of the financial burden associated with it. However, if states fail to comply with the Act within a certain designated time frame, DHS has stated it will refuse to regard state ID cards as acceptable forms of federal identification.

Other issues addressed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in relation to DHS's practices included the current waiting list for naturalizations, meaning that many citizens-to-be who have paid their taxes and are productive members of society will not be able to vote in the 2008 Presidential Election.

Should DHS be concentrating on the Real ID Act when there are naturalization orders to process? Is the Department perhaps lending too much importance to the Act in light of Post-9/11 sentiment? Or should matters of national security actually be the focus of the Department of Homeland Security?

Should President Bush Boycott the Opening of the Olympic Games?

Protests have occurred around the world regarding the decision to hold the Olympic Games in Beijing. (This issue was brought to the blog earlier in the semester in an article about Steven Spielberg's opposition). China has been placed not only in a spotlight of prominence, but also under a microscope of international scrutiny, particularly regarding alleged human rights abuses. The argument is not only about China's human right's policies, but that like the title of the article in the link, the Olympics are "Worsening China Rights". How so? Well a perfect example would be the sentencing of activist of Hu Jia which this article suggests has occurred so that he will be silenced during the games.
With that context, I chose to post this article for the following section. The author writes, 
"US President George W Bush is facing calls to boycott the Games' opening. "It would be clearly inappropriate for you to attend the Olympic Games in China, given the increasingly repressive nature of that country's government," a group of 15 US politicians wrote in a letter to Mr Bush on Tuesday.Mr Bush has said he plans to attend the ceremony but Germany's Angela Merkel says she will not. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out a boycott." This passage of the article stood out to me for several reasons. If the issue is China's human rights abuses, what substantive effect could a boycott of the Opening Ceremonies achieve? I don't personally believe there are any. The argument, I believe, would therefore be that heads of state should boycott for symbolic reasons, which leads me to several questions. How useful is a symbolic act? I don't think many would argue that President Bush boycotting the ceremonies would effect the human rights policies of a sovereign nation, but at the same time, what does it say to and about our nation if our President attends when other heads of state (perhaps more enlightened?) are not? Does it matter? Should it matter? Are we afraid to draw attention to our own human rights controversies? Is our president ignoring international protests? Do human rights controversies of the host country even have a role in the discussion of the Olympic Games at all?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ex- ICE Agent Rapes Illegal Immigrant

On Thursday a former immigration agent Wilfredo Vazquez plead guilty to raping a Jamaican woman who was in his custody. Mr. Vazquez was suppose to be transporting his victim from a detention facility in Miami-Dade County to another detention center in Broward County, Florida. The ex-officer also plead guilty for "'placing the woman in fear' during the sexual encounter." By Mr. Vazquez pleading guilty it was recommended by the prosecutors office that he serve a sentence of seven years in prison.

Vazquez's victim was a Jamaican mother of two who had been living in the United States illegally for 12 years. Vazquez was responsible for transporting this women to a transitional detention facility as she waited to be deported back to Jamaica. Once the victim filed a complaint ICE authorities granted her parole. Right now Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) is helping the victim obtain a visa which could lead to her obtaining legal residency.

The thing which disturbs me the most about this story is the ideal that an ICE official would take advantage of a women who had already been through a major ordeal. The victim already had to deal with deportation and being separated from her children, then for a ICE official to take advantage of her sexually is completely inhumane. Just because this women was not a legal citizen does not make it right for her to be abused while in the custody of ICE. When hearing about incidents such as this it reinforces the ideal that our immigration system is failing once again.

What can we do as citizens to change the mistreatment of detainees at the hands of ICE?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Immigration Optimist

I have always found immigration policy to be a something of a Catch-22. If we open up immigration policy it is argued, with fair reason, that we open the flood gates for individuals we do not want walking the streets of our country. In today's terms this is a matter of homeland security and an obstacle for potential terrorist threats. Another aspect of this perspective argues that immigrants will rob hard working Americans of their jobs, undercutting the working class. Pragmatically, the current obsequious immigration gauntlet unnecessary. This article, really a blog, identifies many of the compromises and changes that can and should be made to contemporary immigration policy.

The suggestions in this article focus on the H1-B visa program, which allows for skilled workers to come to the US and work. However, only 65,000 of these visa's are granted annually. Proposed legislation recommends that we increase the annual number of H1-B visa grants to 115,000. A statistic given in the article states that, "(A Duke University study has found that 25% of American technology start-ups were founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs from 1995 to 2005; in addition, 26% of technology start-ups founded by immigrants had CEO’s, presidents, founders or lead researchers from India.)" Through H1-B visa's we can achieve increased economic efficiency and prosperity for all Americans, a point few people would rationally dispute.

This argument can then be shaped in an economic frame. There has been economic growth in many sectors directly correlated and attributed to individuals who immigrated to this country. As these numbers increase, the number of laborers needed to supply the demand of increased wealth and population must also increase. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of economic growth for all socioeconomic classes.

I understand the need for homeland security to protect our country from terrorist threats. However, this should not have a dramatic an effect on the immigration policy. Any immigrant, whether a factory worker or an executive, should be allowed a fair chance to come to this country. If they have proven to be a productive members of society in their home country, why not allow them a chance to contribute to ours.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Children in Detention Centers

This video made by the ACLU shows a detention center used for political asylum seekers and their children in Hutto, Texas. Perhaps just as interesting as the video are some of the viewer comments:

"Not only does the inhumane treatment of innocent families and children in Hutto break an American tradition of protecting individuals from political oppression, it breaks an internationally accepted human rights standard of providing children access to medical and education needs to. This issue is not about immigration. Its about protecting the qualities that make America unique - A belief in human rights." -RichardParker72

"Are these people legal or illegal immigrants? Knowing that they were illegally trying to obtain entry the parents subjected their children to the possibility of Hutto. We, as a nation, can not be parent to all, cannot be responsible for the worlds suffering, and cannot be expected to alleviate it through indiscriminate open borders." Ssing45

What do you think? Should we be detaining children who come to the U.S. with their family members? Is there an alternative?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Freedom of Religion or Neglect?

An 11-year-old girl dies of diabetes after parents prayed for healing instead of seeking medical care. She died of a common treatable form, but her parents refused to get medical care. Government officials are investigating the case, and family claims that if charges are filed they will claim freedom of religion under the first amendment. Is this pure parental neglect and abuse against this child? Or another case of cultural relativism, in which we should respect an individual’s beliefs?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

US Ignoring the Needs of Displaced Iraqis

Its bad enough when people are forced to leave their homes in order for their survival.. it's even worse when those people are ignored by the other nations of the world. The situation in Iraq is devastating, and we started it. One would think that because we devastated the lives of so many civilians that we would be sure to take care of their needs and allow them to seek refuge here. well.. thats not the case. A CNN reporter said, "We believe the United States has a special responsibility to Iraqi refugees, if only to restore its credibility. The violence they flee is an unplanned-for byproduct of the American invasion of Iraq, and its chaotic aftermath." Unfortunately, the United States has ignored the crisis that it had started and is responsible for. The displacement of the Iraqis since the US invasion in 2003 is seen as one of the "most significant population displacement in the Middle East since Israel was established in 1948." Its difficult enough to leave your home, but to be ignored makes the situation worse. Luckily Syria and Jordan have been helpful for the displaced Iraqis, but that it not enough. For the US to have initiated the conflict that led to the displacement of 2 million people, we should be providing aid.. and that fact that we're not only contributes more to the already terrible reputation of the US in the Middle East.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Police Ask for African Refugees to be Put Out of the City

Police officials in Australia advised Immigration officials that it would be better to settle African Refugees outside of the city. In the past police officials have had crime-related problems because of grouping conflicts among Sudanese refugees which was further exacerbated by the living conditions in the city. Also, the police have noticed an escalation in gang violence among Sudanese refugees. Officials believe that it would be better to settle these refugees in rural settlements where it would be easier for refugees to find jobs, avoid drugs and alcohol, and street crimes. These settlements would help create comfortable communities for the refugees where they would not have to worry about the hustle and bustle of a major city such as Melbourne. Officials believe that they can entice refugees to move out of the cities by offering them better job opportunities and living conditions in rural settlements.

I think that this idea is interesting. I do not know however, how effect this plan will be in rural areas. I believe that if people want to be a member of a gang or involved in criminal activity they will be involved no matter where they live. I propose that officials provide refugees with education about the culture they are about to be submersed in and encourage safe communities and community involvement for refugee families no matter if they live in a city or rural area.

What do you think?

Olympic Torch journey begins w/ protests.

Today, in Greece the Olympic torch was lit to mark the beginning of the journey to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The journey to the Olympic games is a time-honored tradition viewed and respected by many throughout the world. The journey of the torch to its new home is always respected and treasured, however this year it is met with protest. Human rights demonstrators breached tight security and tried to hijack the torch lighting ceremony and relay. 
Just before the torch was lit inside the archaeological site that played host to the Olympics in Greece, three demonstrators managed to break a tight police barricade. One of them carried a black banned with five interlocked handcuffs in the pattern of the Olympic Rings. These individuals were protesting China's inability to improve its human rights conditions. As citizens believe that China is currently more concerned with preparing for the Olympic games than improving the country's conditions. Also, smaller protests took place during the first few kilometers of the relay, leading to nine total protesters being detained.
The Beijing Games Chief Liu Qi stated this morning that "the Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world." It is the assumption of the Beijing Games chairs that these will in fact come true, however, it seems that the people of China feel differently. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), vice president Lambis Nikolaou, a Greek, was outraged by the disruptions. "I am furious with the fact that these people did not respect the site they were on...whatever differences they have with China, they should express them in their country and not ours. This is a disgrace."
To me, i was a bit shocked to hear that the lighting of the torch and beginning of the relay to China was disrupted by protesters. The Olympic games, has always been a miraculous occasion that I have come to thoroughly enjoy, and now it seems that most recent news on it is negative. However, in a country like China, where human rights conditions remain poor, are its people justifiable in protesting...even if in this case they were protesting in Greece? 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

France to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians

France has announced that it will be granting asylum to 500 Iraqi Christians. The announcement has created controversy both in and outside of Iraq. Many Muslims have claimed that this move by France is blatant discrimination against Muslims. Both Muslims and Christians have been targets for abductions and murders on the basis of their religious beliefs but France feels as though Christians are having a particularly difficult time and that the situation continues to worsen. Pierre Henry, head of the France Terre d'Asile organization said, "It is risky showing preference to refugees on the strength of their religion." Is France making the right decision?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Franklin & Marshall College in South Africa

Hi Folks,
I just wanted to bring your attention to a blog that the F&M soccer team has on their Grassroots soccer trip to Cape Town, South Africa, particularly, the shanty town of Khayelitsha.
The student athletes are there to help educate and fight HIV/AIDS. Check out their blog!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Westboro Baptist Church Strikes Again

The tragic murder of UNC-Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson has not only upset the UNC community, but the entire college community as a whole. It has also affected the Westboro Baptist Church, but not in a heartfelt way. On the WBC website godhatesfags.com they have posted a flier stating that they will be picketing at the memorial service for Eve Carson at UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday, March 18th. In the flier it is written, "God Hates American Colleges. They are filthy, anti-God, arrogant, debauched, decadent & depraved. This victim was student body pres." It also says, "God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers. Ergo, God hates N. Carolina Univ. It is a cesspool of iniquity - throughout: top to bottom - staff, administration, faculty, alumni, student body." The flier goes on to say that anyone associated with a college or university is doomed and that American Universities are "God-defying, Satanic, and vile." Eve Carson had the potential to be a great figure in American society, and now she is being mocked and disrespected by the WBC in the name of God. The Westboro Baptist Church is saying that her cold-blooded murder was as a result of how American universities accept and promote what they deem to be "vile and satanic" behavior. In addition, the WBC in their flier emphasizes AMERICAN universities. American universities are something cherished and important to American society. If the WBC really disagrees with American education then why don't they just leave? It makes no sense for them to stay in the US if they hate something that America prides itself on. I feel that the WBC is becoming more and more extreme.. and now they are picketing at an innocent girl's memorial service. From originally picketing outside of military funerals to now picketing outside of a school leaders memorial service it leads one to believe that the Westboro Baptist Church will picket and protest at any tragedy that occurs to anyone besides those within their small, extreme, and obviously ignorant community.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Using the Olympic Games as a Platform

A few weeks ago Steven Spielberg pulled out as an artistic advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Spielberg said that China has not put enough pressure on the Sudanese government to end the conflict in Darfur and that he could not continue to play a role in the 2008 Olympics with a clean conscience. The Chinese government responded by saying Spielberg's decision was unfortunate and that politicizing the games is out of synch with the Olympic spirit.

Chinese citizens are also challenging the domestic human rights record of the Chinese government. A social activist was recently arrested for distributing a petition titled "We Don't Want the Olympic Games, We Want Human Rights." This "crime" could carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment for Mr. Wang.

Do you think a country with a record of human rights violations should be allowed to host the Olympic games? Are the games an appropriate platform to campaign for political change and human rights?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Human Trafficking: Fighting Losing Battle?

A recent article about human trafficking concerns in China suggests law enforcement officials are not doing their part to fight this growing crime. Published statics would indicate that the country is making a substantial effort to combat human trafficking and that reported incidents have decreased over the last several years. However, these numbers are a result of "China's narrow definition of human trafficking, which only covers the kidnapping, purchase, or sale of women and children younger than 14." In many instances young adults are caught up in his dangerous cycle as well because of pressures to find work and assist in supporting their families. Cases of forced labor and sexual exploitation are on the rise, and the Chinese government has been apathetic in responding to this issue; it has even, in some instances, ignored known illegal exploitation of women and children in factories. The government has announced several anti-trafficking initiatives, but they do not appearing to be working. Moreover, because of the migration tendencies inherent in China's framework, trafficking offenses are difficult to prosecute. In a country where everything seems to be working against the safety of its citizenry, can there be any hope?

Is The United States Shirking its human rights obligations?

A United Nations human rights expert, Jorge A. Bustamante has criticized the United States government for the "mandatory detention of illegal immigrants", claiming that the "overuse of immigration detention in the US violates the spirit of international laws and conventions, and in many cases, also violates the actual letter of those instruments".
Do you agree?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bush vetoes bill banning waterboarding

Last Saturday, President Bush said he would veto a bill banning waterboarding, explaining "The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror..." The bill simply proposed to limit the CIA's ability to use unconventional methods of interrogation, restricting them to the same methods allowed in branches of the armed services. After the bill was passed by both the House and Senate, I have trouble understanding the rationale. Why does the CIA need exclusive interrogation privileges? The article is pretty self explanatory so I will let you read. Just curious about everyone's thoughts on the issue.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Being a gay Iranian

Mehdi Kazemi, a 19 year old boy from Iran was granted a visa to pursue his studies in the UK in 2004. Some time later he received news that the Iranian authorities had arrested a male friend of his who had claimed to be in a relationship with Mehdi. Mehdi, afraid to return to Iran, filed for asylum in the UK. When his claim was refused by the home office, Mehdi fled to the Netherlands afraid of the consequences he would face in Iran for the 'crime' of being gay. He is presently held by the police in Rotterdam and is under suicide watch. Recently when the Iranian President was in the US, he claimed that there were no gays in Iran. In a country where being gay is so openly condemned, Mehdi most likely faces the fear of persecution. He is scheduled to be returned to the UK and could face deportation. Should not a 19 year old boy be granted asylum when his life is so obviously in danger on return to his country? And on a larger scale should not something be done about the Iranian government that persecutes the homosexual community in Iran due to their sexual orientation?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is There No Safe Haven for Child Asylum Seekers?

The UK government announced that children under the age of 18 who are not granted asylum would be sent back to their country of origin. The government claims that no child will be sent back without being "100% sure of a safe reception." Currently the UK receives approximately 2,000 unaccompanied minors every year. These new measures have been put into place to help stop child trafficking gangs. Most of the unaccompanied minors entering the country come from war zones seeking refuge.

After reading this article and thinking about all we have learned about the asylum process my question for everyone is: Do you think it's fair for children to have to go through asylum process all alone?

I personally disagree with what the UK government is doing. Many adults have a hard time making it through the asylum process. I cannot imagine a child having to go through these proceedings all alone. Many times these children are trying to cope with tragedy or the danger they faced in their homeland on top of being separated from their families and being in a strange new place. I feel that the governments’ main concern should be trying to help these children cope with what they are going through, and not exposing or forcing them through court procedures which could do more harm than good. People always claim that children are our future, but how can they be if the government cannot do something as basic as protecting their human rights.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Can music change the world?

While this article may not be the most relevant to our discussions, it really spoke to me. These young, twenty-something people are singing out against their society's traditions and attempting to make a change in their home. The Somalian music group has been displaced by the fighting and violence in their home country, and have been living in Kenya, some for over a decade. Singer Jamila Jamma says in the article "We are not happy with what has been happening back home, in fact we have recorded a thought-provoking song that we hope will bring our leaders back to our senses." While singing out against the war in Somalia, the group, "Waayah Cusub," is also crossing serious cultural boundaries to alert the people in their communities about social problems like AIDS. (You can listen to some Waayah Cusub songs on the BBC site)
This article raised some questions for me about the relevance of art and the responsibilities of artists when it comes to issues like AIDS, war and human rights all over the world. There has been a long standing tradition of using literature, art and music to speak out against injustices, and popular artists have a large audience to make their claims to. The question, I guess, is how much do you think the arts have an impact on society and global issues? Is there a responsibility among artists to address issues going on in the world today? How much change can they actually create?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bangladesh's Questionable Elite Police

Hmm.  If I were in power, equipped with the total authority of the land, more power than the regular police force, the ability to kill suspects, and shady characters to quiet any family member searching for answers, what would I do?  Party...a lot, because I certainly wouldn't have many worries.  Such is the case for Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) (Side note: I don't factually know how much they actually do party).  

Created in 2004 to combat inadequacies in the normal police force of low training and corruption, this group has been responsible for anywhere from 150-190 deaths in its first two years of operation (150 being the reports of the government, 190 reports of Human rights lawyers).   They have coined the term, "Death by Crossfire", which, contrary to popular believe, is not the name of a rock and roll album (though that would be a cool one), but instead refers to the fact that, "In an average week two or three people are killed in incidents involving the RAB.  'Of those who have died in this crossfire all are known terrorists and criminals of the country,' said the law minister, Moudud Ahmed."  By the way, a death by crossfire is not followed by much of an investigation.  I feel the law minister is being a tad confusing with his statement.  His RAB, stomps through the streets,  killing 'criminals' but how is this determined?  Human Rights Watch recently chastised Bangladesh for its high cases of torture and illegal detention, often at the hands of the RAB, in which many suspects never return home. 

The justice system in Bangladesh is obviously in disarray.  But in a country unable to train its police officers, is some sort of elite police unit such as the RAB necessary?  Is the far the RAB uses helping them maintain order?  Or is it another example of absolute power corrupting absolutely?  Discuss amongst yourselves...(apologies this is a week late)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Legal Immigrants now find more barriers to entry

Applying for permanent residence in the US is a hard process in general. For those who seek residency in the US legally seem to have a lot of trouble. Even though there are various ways that one can apply, often people look for sponsors. Sponsors for applications could be a spouse, a family member, or an employer. These avenues are supposed to make the process easier, however today there is still a struggle even if one has a sponsor. What does it say about our government and immigration process if those who are trying to apply legally for citizenship find constant struggles? Are illegal aliens making this process more difficult for those who are trying to do it legally?

Fidel Resigns: Should the Embargo stay?

As you all may know by now Fidel Castro resigned his position as President last week. Although everyone may think this as a catalyst for change in Cuba, nothing has happened. The Cuban economic embargo enacted during the Cold War designed to prevent American companies to do business with Cuba is still in place. Wouldn't taking down the embargo open the antiquated Cuban culture to a capitalist influence? If we do business with China, a communist country, why not Cuba?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Kosovo is Serbia!"...or is it?

Since Kosovo declared its independence a week ago there has been unrest in Serbia. Not only are the Serbs enraged by what they call an illegitimate declaration of independence, they are furious with the United States for giving recognition to what they deem to be a false state. Anti-American sentiment came to a head on Thursday at a Serbian government sponsored protest that turned violent when protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy and lit the ground floor on fire. The Serbian Prime Minister has directly blamed the United States for the violence and one of his aides was quoted as saying, "If the United States sticks to its present position that the fake state of Kosovo exists ... all responsibility in the future will be on the United States."

Ethnic tensions between Serbs in Serbia and Albanians in Kosovo have flared throughout a series of wars in the 1990s and the ethnic cleansing propagated by Slobodon Milosevic. Although Kosovo officially remained a part of Serbia, it has been administered by the United Nations since 1999 because of these wars and tensions. Does Kosovo have a legitimate claim to independence? Should the United States have acknowledged the state before the U.N. passed a resolution? Do you think this act will have implications for other nations with relatively strong separatists movements such as Cameroon?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Illegal immigrant student arrested by ICE

What would you do if an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer arrested one of your peers? This is what happened in a Roswell, New Mexico high school when ICE officials arrested an 18-year old pregnant student who was in the United States illegally. Was ICE correct in arresting and deporting her? Should students, illegal or not, have a safe haven in schools?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Public Executions in 2008

Jon Leyne's BBC article "Iranian Hangings 'Hit New Record'" is at once shocking and unsuprising. At first, I was shocked that there were public hangings endorsed by the state occuring in the world in the 21st century. But then I felt almost naive. In the context of countries in which there is strict (some would perhaps argue the proper word is fanatical rather than strict) religious law, there are still forms of punishment that many in Western society would regard as antiquated and antithetical to Human Rights. Are we not beyong public hangings in 2008?
I was somewhat hesistant to post this article and raise questions of cultural relativism versus basic human rights in regards to Iran. I didn't want this to come off as a cliche Clash of Civilizations blog post in which an American University Student critizes the Iranian justice system for being archane and immoral, especially not as the post above Dr. D's regarding Waterboarding. But then, the fact that this article would be juxtaposed next to Dr.D's on waterboarding made me decide specifically to post it. (How) Can we condemn inhumane treatment of criminals, when we torture suspects? Is it not frightening that an article about punishment that would make one CRINGE when its about a foreign government, makes one QUESTION when its about their own government?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What's Angelina Jolie Doing In Iraq?

Angelina Jolie was recently in Iraq to improve efforts to help internally displaced refugees. More than 4.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes, 2 million of which to neighboring states. Jolie has also been vocal about boosting the U.S. effort to resettle Iraqi refugees in the United States. A goal has been set of accepting 12,000 Iraqi refugees by September of 2008 but only 375 have been accepted so far.

We should all agree that there is a certain moral responsibility for helping refugees. My question to everyone else: Because of the U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, does the United States bear a greater moral responsibility to accept these refugees than refugees from other countries? If so, what implications does this have, if any, on asylum policy?

So Waterboarding is not Torture Now?

For those of you who don't know what waterboarding is -- it is essentially simulating drowning. One form is strapping someone to a board, putting a cloth over the face and pouring water over their mouth until they can't breathe.
So, is this torture? If you don't think so, what don't you try it?

So let's get to the facts. The White House has admitted and defended the CIA's use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique.
Let's remember, that the U.S signed the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and that almost every legal authority views waterboarding as torture and a crime.

So where does that leave us as Americans? Where does this leave our government? Are we okay with the fact that the U.S. government (or more specifically the CIA) is torturing in our name? How does this effect our credibility elsewhere? How does it effect our perceptions of ourselves?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"Darfur Can Wait. Let's Save America."

Isn't facebook fantastic? Below, I have pasted a description from a facebook group with the above title. I have pasted, rather than created a livelink, to protect the identity of the group members. What do you guys think about this? Are we spending too many of our resources on non-Americans? Should we, as this group suggests, take care of business at home before extending ourselves to other people in need?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What happened to the HUMAN in Humanitarian Aid?

Does the asylum process in the US work? What are the major flaws, successes? Should an asylum overhaul be part of the illegal immigration debate? Granted, asylum seekers are not "illegal immigrants", but then why are they treated as such?