Friday, February 20, 2009

Will Iran Hold Up 'An Eye For An Eye' In Conviction?

The courts of Iran plan to hold up an "eye for an eye" conviction. You won't believe this story, as I hardly can. Americans seem pretty split on the issue of the death penalty, but most agree that it is reserved for the most morbid and gruesome killers.

However, a woman in Iran-- who lived to take her attacker to court-- wants the man who poured acid on her eyes to be punished the same way. And the court agreed!

Her name is Ameneh Bahrami and she is now blind after a man she was not interested in marrying poured acid on her face. His name is Majid Movahedi and he claims he did it because he "loves" her. Both of these people really need an education in how to treat people!

Bahrami wants Movahedi punished in what CNN called "the ancient punishment of 'an eye for an eye,' and, in accordance with Islamic law, she wants to blind Majid Movahedi, the man who blinded her." A court of law actually honored her request by sentencing him in 2005 and rejecting his appeals since then.

CNN further reports, "Attack victims in Iran usually accept 'blood money': a fine in lieu of harsh punishment. With no insurance and mounting medical bills, Bahrami could've used the cash, but she said no. 'I told the judge I want an eye for an eye,' Bahrami said. 'People like him should be made to feel my suffering.' "

The court decides that Movahedi did in fact commit the crime. They decide it is wrong to pour acid in a person's eyes. Good. We all agree. Oh wait a minute... now the court will do what it just declared "wrong" and "illegal" by punishing the man with drops of acid in his own eyes.

Granted, I pity the poor girl who is now blind. She had every right to take her attacker to court, to seek punishment. But will "an eye for an eye" be true justice?

(Photos from CNN, above: Bahrami before her attack; below: Bahrami after her attack.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

CREDO Mobile and The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

CREDO is a new rising cell phone company AND activism group. They are really changing the role of a mobile phone company! I have been following CREDO for many years and I'm excited to celebrate with them the achievement of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

CREDO members have been campaigning for two years for more laws about fair pay and woman's rights in the workplace. Their hard work paid off yesterday when President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This is the U.S. President's first law. CREDO sent a celebratory email congratulating their members on a fight well fought:
CREDO activists like you have been working hard on this issue for nearly two years — thank you for being part of that fight. Here's just some of what you accomplished:
  • Nearly 100,000 of you signed petitions and sent faxes to Congress supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  • More than 5,000 of you called your members of Congress to ask for their support.
  • You held in-state meetings with seven Senate offices, including one with Senator Lisa Murkowski herself — one of the few Republicans who was persuaded to vote for the bill.
This is an amazing victory — and an great example of what the CREDO community can accomplish when we organize and fight for what we believe in.

Congratulations to CREDO and members, and now to American women who are recognized through this law as equal in work ability and deserving (now, required by law) of equal pay.

I'd like to take a brief moment to highlight what CREDO is all about as a mobile phone company. The money that is made through the business is used toward liberal activism. CREDO has long fought for woman's rights and against abuse of the earth by way of global warming and other threats.

CREDO is a mobile phone company just like AT&T or Verizon - except, unlike AT&T or Verizon, CREDO actually fought to protect woman's rights to fair pay. (Also unlike AT&T, CREDO didn't give money to McCain/Palin and Bush/Cheney, but that's another story.)

CREDO's a pretty great company - they give 1% of their revenues away to amazing non-profits like Doctors Without Borders, and they've given away over $60 million over the last twenty years. They also do progressive activism on issues like protecting the environment and working to end the war in Iraq.

So why am I telling you about some phone company? Because they offered us a pretty sweet deal. Here's how it works:

If you sign up to be a CREDO customer, they'll cover the cancellation fee on your existing mobile contract and give you a free phone, plus they'll give me $100 for referring you. Pretty good, right? You can get all the details here.

If you're ready to sign up, just do the following:

  • First, call 1-877-76CREDO.
  • Second, give them this special offer code: 800333
  • Finally, let them know I sent you by giving them my personalized coupon code NCCUU
I figured I'd let you know about this great deal. I don't care about the $100, but I would like to see folks ditch corporate, heartless giants like Verizon and AT&T. I've been supporting CREDO for years, so if you want to use my code, that would be great too.

If you aren't ready to switch cell phone providers yet, that's ok too. Get signed up with CREDO to take part in their campaigns to better the work place, the government, the world, and the earth!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Economic Downturn May Cause Pets To Suffer

Although I'm usually one to seek to protect human rights before animal rights, this story really made me think. USA Today reports that animals are suffering as a result of the economic crisis.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 42 million American households owned a dog in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. Households spent an average of $356 on veterinary visits that year, it said.

More than 37 million households owned a cat and spent an average of $190 on visits to the vet in 2007, the association said.

Those dollars, pet experts say, are becoming more difficult for some cash-strapped owners to pay.

Animals should always be treated as a member of the family, not as casual entertainment. To avoid pet neglect, use these helpful tips:

Contact local shelters or rescue groups to locate pet food pantries or to find pet-friendly apartments if you have to move. They can link you with programs that can help with necessary vet care, medications or low-cost spay/neuter. In an increasing number of cities, groups are forming to provide short-term foster care for pets whose owners need a little time to get stable again.

Go to the home page of the Humane Society of the United States ( and click on Pet Tip, which offers a state-by-state, ever-growing list of groups offering free or discounted pet food, medical care or temporary foster care.

Families with economic struggles would be especially burdened if they struggled to provide for their pet too. I'm thankful to see shelters and local groups helping families out.

(Pets pictured are all available for adoption on

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guantanamo Bay Prison To Close... And??

On his first full day of office, President Barack Obama ordered that Guantanamo Bay prison be closed within a year. Great! Now what? The new president was unclear what steps would be taken next.

The SF Chronicle echoes:
What now? What will happen to the 244 suspected al-Qaida prisoners in limbo at "Gitmo," as it is popularly called. Not to mention, there are more than 1,000 more prisoners in Afghanistan.

Many U.S. politians are doubting that the task can be completed in one year. House Minority Leader John Boehner keeps repeating that San Francisco's beautiful Alcatraz Island-- former prison, now a museum and National Park-- may be converted into a new prison for suspected terrorists. Everywhere from Fort Bragg to Fort Leavenworth-- the military's only maximum-security prison, to Camp Pendleton in San Diego has been suggested for the Guantanamo prisoner's new place of residence. Is it enough just to move the prisoners from Gitmo, or should their crimes be further investigated?

Gitmo has long been a sign of President Bush's unjust war on terror because of the lack of trials and the torture that went on there.
But will prisoners return to a life of terrorism and pose a threat to national security?

Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of New York University's Center on Law and Security and the author of the forthcoming book
The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days, told the Washington Post about Gimo recidivism:

On recidivism, the Pentagon has said that 18 of the detainees are believed to have returned to terrorism. Another 43 are suspected but the Pentagon does not claim that they are engaged in terrorism. There are three cases of Gitmo detainees returning to the fight at high levels, according to reports. But the recidivism rate is relatively low, as 557 have been released overall. It's important to emphasize that good judgment is needed in terms of deciding who leaves just as it should have been more important in deciding who to send to Gitmo in the first place.
In the past week alone, two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners have reemerged as al-Qaida terrorists in Saudi Arabia, despite that prisoners who return to Saudi Arabia are put through "reprogramming" by psychiatrists, Muslim clerics and sociologists. AP reports that this "is part of a concerted Saudi government effort to counter the ideology that nurtured the 9/11 hijackers and that has lured hundreds of Saudis to join the Iraq insurgency. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudis, as is the mastermind of the attacks, Osama bin Laden."

Will the detox at Guantoanamo Bay prison and the rehabilitation efforts by the government of Saudi Arabia be enough? Only time will tell.

However, families of 9/11 victims are
encouraging Obama to not release the prisoners without a trial. Three families want to meet with Obama and "appeal his decision to suspend the trials of five detainees in Gitmo who have admitted they have some part in the terror attacks." They have written a public letter that can be read in full here.
We cannot understand why it has taken so long for the prosecution of the detainees in cases where substantial evidence exists of direct or indirect involvement in the Terrorist Attacks at the WTC, Pentagon and Shanksville ... We have seen first hand -- the admission of guilt by individual detainees, and have heard their statements indicating they are proud of what they did to our loved ones on 9/11.
I am happy to see President Obama end illegal holding and torture-- the evil push-it-under-the-rug details of Bush's war on terror-- but I too hope that trials will be held. We should gather facts and finish prosecuting those behind 9/11. Should the evidence be scant, then we must answer for why these prisoners have been held for years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One More Day Until Obama Is President

Happy MLK Day! I'm so thankful for heros like Martin Luther King, Jr., who have the bravery and conviction to stand up for what is right.

It's only one more day until Obama will become the new U.S. President! I'm looking forward to the Inauguration celebration, which will include controversial speaker Rick Warren. I was pleased to see Melissa Etheridge and her lesbian partner defend the Christian speaker.

Rick Warren is someone I really admire. His response to AIDS/HIV worldwide makes me proud to be a Christian and I wish this whole gay controversy wasn't blackening his name. He has been very careful when it comes to the gay issue, much too careful for staunch conservatives. He wants his focus to be on evangelism and poverty, so to tie him to this I think is petty. His big issues for years have been peace, poverty, and AIDs. It's a shame that's so ignored now. He has never been anti-gay. It's shocking to see the anti-Christian response from SOME gay community, however. That is 100% unfair. I appreciated Etheridge's fairness and open-mindedness. Warren is a public figure who represents many in America, probably including Obama's more moderate Christianity. I'm not surprised he was chosen for the speech, only surprised by the nasty backlash. I appreciate people like Warren, Etheridge, and Ellen, who all care deeply about human issues, peace, and personhood. Work together!

I'm looking forward to the progress Obama will bring!

Human Rights Watch is expecting some advances in human rights on behalf of President Barack Obama too. According to US News & World Report, the Human Rights Watch 564-page World Report 2009 concluded, "If the incoming Obama administration wants to shift from the 'abusive policies' of its predecessor, it must put human rights at the heart of its policy."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Atheist Says Africa Needs God

In a Times article called "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God," by Matthew Parris, an atheist contends for Christian mission work taking place in Africa. He writes,

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

This is fantastically open-minded article, yet it has an academic backbone to it. Read the full text!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights! Let us remember those around the world who are suffering due to lack of basic human rights. May we continue to push our leaders and the U.N. to stand up for human rights!
With great power comes great responsibility...
This generation is able to see and stand up to human rights injustices due to great advancements in technology. Speak out, stand up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Young Chinese Olympic Gymnasts Reduce Olympic Games To Childsplay

They bring serious threat to the U.S. gymnastic team, yet they have everybody talking for a different reason: China's Olympic gymnasts looks young... very young. They may not only young, but be young too, according to sources.

The New York Times' Harvey Araton questioned the seemingly young girl's age and went on to suggest what is happening:

"When in North America, do as the North Americans do (overreact). When in China, do nothing. For better or worse, these are the shrug-and-don’t-tell Olympics, undoubtedly because it would be considered impolitic to embarrass the Chinese after they went to such great expense to throw the world this lavish party."
MSNBC's coverage of the events suggested that the girls began to train for this Olympic quest when they were only 3 years old. What country or parent would drive their children to this kind of success? The Chinese gymnasts are probably not even old enough to understand the success of their careers, or even possibly the many schooling opportunities they missed to become the best. Cuba's Olympic beach volleyball team has a 37-year-old. The United State's Olympic swimming team as a 42-year-old. There is just no reason to reduce the Games to bitty 13-year-old competition. Let the girls live normal childhoods and let them choose to train for themselves.

(Image kindly borrowed from Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images).

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