Dr. Martin Luther King in the raw


This speech, given in 1964 is the epitome of Dr. King’s style and appeal.  He covers all the bases in his inimitable style.  This is well worth the time to listen to in its entirety.

In our name


iftar

While you are breaking your fast during the month of Ramadan there are others who are being forced to break theirs while still in detention in Guantanamo Bay.  They want to eat and enjoy themselves with family, friend and worship after fasting but they just don’t want to do it in Gitmo Bay.  Some of them have been determined to be worthy of being released years ago, yet still remain imprisoned for reasons they haven’t been told.   I couldn’t watch this video at the link which details forced feeding of detainees there. Perhaps you can.

As Ramadan begins, more than 100 hunger-strikers in Guantánamo Bay continue their protest. More than 40 of them are being force-fed. A leaked document sets out the military instructions, or standard operating procedure, for force-feeding detainees. In this four-minute film made by Human Rights organisation Reprieve and Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia, US actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), experiences the procedure

Warning: some viewers may find these images distressing

 

Speaking truth to power-Jimmy Carter


Former President Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter

I admire people who stick to their principles, and former President Jimmy Carter is one of those.  He has my deepest respect for the positions he takes, no matter how controversial or unpopular they are.  He came out in a NYT editorial to talk about human rights and the US government and what he writes today is the same thing he said when he was president 36 years ago.  However, many of his remarks are directed towards a Democratic administration that has mimicked its GOP predecessor in almost all aspects when it comes to citizenship and human rights.

Fortunately for many of us who believe in what Carter wrote and appears below, he supposedly will address the Democratic Convention.  What he will say this observer doesn’t know, but I certainly hope it’s the exact same message that appears below.  I can’t think of a better place to throw down the gauntlet to the Democrats to put the brakes on the slide towards abandonment of civil/human rights and I can think of no person with more integrity to say so than Carter.

THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile.

The declaration has been invoked by human rights activists and the international community to replace most of the world’s dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in domestic and global affairs. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress (the law is currently being blocked by a federal judge). This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.

In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.

Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.

These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.

Meanwhile, the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, now houses 169 prisoners. About half have been cleared for release, yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom. American authorities have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers. Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the cover of “national security.” Most of the other prisoners have no prospect of ever being charged or tried either.

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.

As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.

 

The Awful Truth


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This is the life for some who live in America.  For too long, America has allowed itself to be divided along lines of color, ethnicity, and now religion.  Our failure to address each of the previous wrongs we have inflicted upon members of our society mean we will continue this progression of oppression and racism which will only lead to the demise of our way of life.  Far greater than any hostile state we have had to face in our past, the biggest and greatest threat to America has always been Americans and their lust for violence and bloodshed.  The Civil War, an antiquated battle fought over a century ago, still stands as the biggest killer of Americans of any war since, including all the ones we’ve fought with the latest gadgetry.

Unfortunately, we don’t reflect on that; instead we sweep it under the rug and or ignore it altogether; which only increases our peril.  Wake up America!

 

 

The reason for Islamophobia


Western pundits are trying to determine how to stop the spread of Islam in their borders.  Surely, stemming the tide of immigration can do that, or so they say, but what do they do about the number of citizens in the country who convert to Islam and become Muslims?  That is the dilemma for Islamophobes and the reason why they have increased their rhetoric, to include talk about companies that offer choices to consumers as somehow abetting terrorism, or ballot initiatives that are unconstitutional, in order to demonize not just Muslims who we envision as being foreign evil, looking hostile types but people who look just like you or me or are members of our own families.  Indeed, look at the headline of this article, which seems to suggest at first glance an invasion of Britain by Muslims but which merely points out that people are adopting this faith, by choice, inspite of all that’s being said and done to get them to do otherwise.

What western democracies want to do and for now can’t, is restrict the choice it offers its citizens to live their lives.  In some ways, France has already done that for Muslim women, making the scarf  in public schools and some jobs, or certain swim wear at public pools and beaches illegal and in the process  France  has become a secular, un-democratic society.  In order to continue such draconian measures, propagandists in conjunction with circles inside government are launching the ‘demonization campaign’ to make Islam as unpalatable as possible to the population, and if that doesn’t work then institute laws much like France’s to make it illegal to practice Islam.  In the not too distant future it won’t be long before these western “democracies” become communist countries in all but name just to stop the appearance of Islam on their shores, and most likely that will be completely acceptable to all but the adherents of the faith.