Archive for the ‘Human rights’ category

Worthy of a post

January 21, 2009

080709_barack_obama

At the very least. After decades of mediocrity, it seems that America has chosen the right and the best man for the job. I feel like, overnight, I became proud to be an American again. And I don’t think I’m alone. His words, his demeanor, his very presence just screams sound leadership.

As Bush slinked away like the wounded badger he is, Obama grabbed the reins of the huge, crazed but sickly bull that is America. Can he stay in the saddle and control this beast? Only time will tell. But hope abounds around the globe that he can and will.

They all say it, but this is truly the beginning of a new era. I believe Obama and his associates are up to the task. I hope the American people are, too.

Border Security Confiscating Laptops

August 3, 2008

We shouldn’t let this story slide under the radar even though it’s not really new. Customs Agents have apparently increased the number of laptop computers that they seize and “detain” indefinitely at border crossings. They’re also detaining Ipods, cell phones, and other digital storage devices in case the boogie man is hiding in your memory card. The devices are being confiscated from foreign and American citizens alike.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Border Patrol and Customs agents can now “detain” laptops “for a reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” Article here.

They don’t need probable cause under the new policy. Doesn’t matter if you’re a U.S. citizen or foreign visitor. Officials can hold the laptops indefinitely. Or hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes. Ditto papers, documents, books, pamphlets, even litter.

What have they found so far? Some videos of bombs going off in Iraq, some Jihadhist literature, whatever that is, and some intellectual property violations. OMG!!

This begs the question, what about leftist blogger files. I have backup files full of anti Bush articles and pictures. Do I need to delete these before I visit in December? I suppose I should play it safe and clean up my hard drive.

But isn’t it a shame that I have to? I seem to remember when we all had the freedom to dissent, even against our own government or president. And there was a time when personal privacy was a given. Not to mention freedom of speech. Not anymore. Now what we have is the re-emergence of Nazism. All Bush lacks is the moustache.

Hooray for the city by the Bay

June 30, 2008

Today, San Francisco, the most gay friendly city in the world, celebrated the 38th annual Gay Pride Day with a traditional parade and festivities. Amen.  The parade, which was led by the mayor and other top politicians, was the first since gay marriages were successfully legalized in California. Its about time.

And while there is no other place in the world like San Francisco, and it is the home of Gay Pride Day, it is certainly not the only place where this festive event is held. Although elsewhere, the event may not have been quite so festive.

Many other cities celebrated pride on Sunday as well, including Paris and New York, where Gov. David Paterson recently told state agencies to provide full marriage benefits to same-sex couples legally married elsewhere.

Some overseas events were decidedly different. In the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and the Czech Republic city of Brno, protesters threw rocks and eggs at parade participants. And in India, hundreds chanted for gay rights just days before the Delhi High Court is expected to hear arguments on overturning the law against homosexual sex that dates to the British colonial era.

As is traditional, leading the parade was Dykes on Bikes. Is that the coolest name for a motorcycle club or what? But in addition to their normal leather and steel, some wore white and pink wedding dresses and veils, much to the delight of the crowd. That crowd was made up of people, gay and straight, from all over the US.

Some visitors expressed surprise at the sheer size and diversity of San Francisco’s event. River Byrd, 48, and his partner, 41-year-old Mark Duncan, watched the parade before catching a plane back to Tennessee, where they live in a small, conservative town called Paris.

“It’s so incredible to see this many gay people,” Byrd said. “We’re the buckle of the Bible Belt. If we held hands in public, we’d be beat up.”

At the risk of sounding regionally racist, I’m not surprised to hear that remark considering the area. In any case, it was a great day for equality and justice. It’s just a shame that it only occurs in small pockets within a country that was founded on those two principles.

General Accuses Bush Administration of War Crimes

June 23, 2008

Well George, remember what you said about “listening to your commanders in the field”?

A retired Army general who spent 10 months in Iraq and led an investigation into the atrocities at the Abu Ghraib prison there accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing war crimes and called for those responsible to be held accountable. Full article here.

“After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account,”wrote Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.

Bush, as the Commander in Chief, and as a “war president” as he likes to call himself, is ultimately responsible for the actions of his military underlings.

“The detainees suffer permanent hearing loss, persistent and debilitating pain in limbs and joints, major depressive disorder, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks.” The men were later released and were never charged with any crimes.

We may be Democrats or we may be Republicans, but we are all Americans. Is this what our founding fathers envisioned and is this what is acceptable now in the United States of America? If we are patriots, is not our first patriotic duty to uphold our own Constitution and abide by our own laws? Or are we ready and willing to uphold that Constitution only when the going is easy but when the going gets a little tough, when we feel a little insecure, we forget all that and start behaving like the very barbarians we are supposed to detest?

“With this evidentiary record, this report provides the most detailed account available thus far of the experience of detainees in US custody who suffered torture — a war crime — at the hands of US personnel. Additionally, this report provides further evidence of the role health professionals played in facilitating detainee abuse by being present during torture and ill-treatment, denying medical care to detainees, providing confidential medical information to interrogators, and failing to stop or document detainee abuse.

Just what justification is there, once we are smacked in the face with evidence of actual war crimes, to not take some kind of action against those who are responsible? Just what excuse for our actions do we expect to be acceptable by the international community? Or are we so arrogant, that we no longer care what anyone else thinks?

The report was released Tuesday, the same day documents made public by the Senate Armed Services Committee presented during a hearing on the administration’s interrogation policies showed a pattern of humiliation, abuse and even torture inflicted on detainees was a deliberate policy of the Bush administration.

Jonathan Fredman, chief counsel to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, discussed with U.S. military officials how interrogators could use the “wet towel”technique against detainees to extract information.

Fredman added that the “wet towel”technique would only be defined as torture “if the detainee dies.”

Just what kind of a fucking country are we, anyway?

After waiting over 50 years…

June 17, 2008

And it’s about goddamn time.

Abusing the neediest children

May 28, 2008

As a sociology grad student I had the opportunity to work with victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. It’s all absolutely heart wrenching but the abuse of children is so emotionally charged that I ended up quitting the program and changing my vocational direction completely. When I realized that I was much more interested in beating the abuser than I was in counseling him (or her), I knew that field was not for me.

This article came out today about a study concerning the abuse of the neediest children in the poorest locations by foreign aid workers.

A new report by Save the Children U.K. accuses some aid workers and peacekeepers of sexually exploiting children living in countries affected by conflict and natural disaster. As Tendai Maphosa reports from London, the report says the general silence surrounding the abuse is also shocking.

I can’t even imagine being in a place where there is so much despair, hunger and death, and exploiting that need for personal gratification. How could a person possibly become aroused in those surroundings? Another article goes on to say,

The report details a “litany” of sexual crimes against children as young as six, based on field research in Sudan, the Ivory Coast, and Haiti. The sexual crimes include: being forced to have sex or participate in child pornography; being subjected to improper touching and kissing; or being withheld food unless one performed a sexual favor.

So in other words, aid workers, who have the food to give a desperately hungry child as young as six, will only give that child the food if the child performs a sexual act. I’m not sure I can think of anything more repulsive than that. They ought to be whipped and then shot.

I also ran across this video of workers in a Vietnamese orphanage. It certainly can be muchworse than this but its little wonder why some children grow up to be socio and psychopaths.

I’m speechless as to how to end this post. It’s just so fucking sad.

Condoms for Catholics – Brazil leads the way

April 9, 2008

I read the BBC everyday because they carry interesting stories that often don’t appear in the US online press, at least not the press sites that Google News collects.

Brazil has started a program of harvesting rubber from rubber trees in the Amazon rain forest to be used to make latex condoms. To me, what’s significant about this program is the fact that Brazil has the largest Catholic population on earth. Way to go!

This is truly a win-win situation. Poor villagers will be employed to harvest the rubber and work in the processing factory. There is no damage to the Amazon rain forest areas where the trees are located. And the condoms produced will be given away free in Brazil’s ongoing effort to fight AIDS.

The new state-run factory is in the north-western state of Acre, and will initially produce 100 million condoms a year, which will be known by the name Natex.

Officials believe that not only will it generate income for Amazon residents, but it will involve using a product which is widely available and can be obtained without destroying large areas of the rainforest.

The Catholic Church has always criticized Brazil’s policy of distributing free condoms with their tired, archaic argument that it promotes promiscuity. Using that logic, it follows that the church itself must be issuing condoms to it’s own priests thus, explaining their promiscuous behavior. Jerks. I can’t wait to read the church’s response to this latest and truly inspired idea.

The factory will benefit at least 500 families and provide 150 jobs in the town of Xapuri which has a population of around 15,000 people. The health ministry says the condoms will be the only ones in the world made of latex harvested from a tropical forest, and will reduce the reliance on foreign imports.

According to the Brazilian government, they are the world’s single largest buyer of condoms and have purchased over a billion in recent years to give away free to their people.