Tag Archives: human rights

Questioning Equality

You’ll notice the red equal signs all over Facebook today. An example of resistance (as opposed to reform):


“Against Equality is an online archive, publishing, and arts collective focused on critiquing mainstream gay and lesbian politics. As queer thinkers, writers and artists, we are committed to dislodging the centrality of equality rhetoric and challenging the demand for inclusion in the institution of marriage, the US military, and the prison industrial complex via hate crimes legislation.”

I’m somewhat with it because I’m really pretty ‘meh’ about the necessity and value of marriage. But on the other hand I do think that if we’re going to have the idea/institution we ought to present it with at least a semblance of equality of opportunity. The other two issues seem similar – yes, we should reduce (or in some views eliminate) the military and drastically alter the prison system – but if we do not have the power to take these actions (because we must compromise in a democracy that includes the radical right) we ought at least strive for equality of opportunity. Maybe it’s just the name I have a problem with – against equality – instead of considering, questioning, critiquing and understanding society in our efforts to achieve equality of opportunity.

Iraq: the pay-off

“2/27/2005 Taji, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by father. Father was driving his family towards Taji. Near a gas station, a US convoy pulled up beside him and behind him. A convoy shot into the car, killing his daughter and wounding his wife and other daughter. The car was also damaged. Finding: lack of evidence of US involvement. Claim denied for lack of evidence despite the presence of three eyewitnesses (father, wife, and daughter).”

The above excerpt comes from “records”:http://www.aclu.org/natsec/foia/log.html obtained by the “ACLU”:http://www.aclu.org/ relating claims of compensation by civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been in some way injured by the armed forces in their countries. With all the bombing, convoying and raiding we do over there, it’s no surprise that civilian property gets destroyed or even that people are occasionally killed. What I didn’t count on is that we have a system for dealing with that. It’s called the Foreign Claims Act and so far the United States has awarded over $32 million to Iraqi and Afghani civilians for injuries, wrongful death, and damage to property.

The above picture by New York Times photographer Joao Silva shows just how cruel the idea of monetary compensation for life is. This “New York Times report”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/world/middleeast/12abuse.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin details in full the way in which civilians can file a claim and provides a number of examples of just how much an Iraqi life is officially worth to the United States, sometimes as little as $500. It’s well worth reading, as well as looking over some of the claims at the ACLU “website”:http://www.aclu.org/natsec/foia/log.html/.

Google Earth highlights Crisis in Darfur

Google Earth, the creepily-accurate software that reveals exactly why there’s an 8-foot fence between your yard and your neighbor’s has done one for humanity. Well, at least the morbid side of humanity that likes to revel in suffering. I’m talking about the most recent feature integrated into the Google Earth software that highlights known atrocity sites in the Darfur region of Sudan where there is an ongoing genocide. There may be a search term to help you, but I found it easiest to open the “Google Earth software”:http://earth.google.com/ and drag the window to Sudan which, in case you failed geography in ninth grade, is just south of Egypt in Africa. The ‘Crisis in Darfur’ feature gives locations and even (gulp) pictures of villages destroyed by the government-sponsored militia.

http://earth.google.com/ or read more about the Crisis in Darfur feature in this "CNN article":http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/04/10/google.genocide/index.html with lots of helpful links about the genocide.

South Korea to draft first "Robots' Rights" legislation

A five-member committee will release The Robot Ethics Charter in Rome sometime in April. Obviously South Korea is the most technologically advanced and connected in the world but I didn’t think this was going to happen for quite some time. Artificial intelligence and the ethical ramifications of ‘machines with dreams’ have long been the subject of science fiction work starting with Isaac Asimov’s “rules of robotics” from the 1942 story, _Runaround_ that featured in _I, Robot_ . I’m very much looking forward to the Charter’s announcement and will report it here when it happens. In the meantime, here’s a more in-depth look by the BBC. “article”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6425927.stm

FC Barcelona changes the way sponsorship works

The motto of world’s-best soccer club is ‘més que un club’–more ‘than a club’ and starting this year, they’ve lived up to that title. Starting in September of this year, Barça has been sporting the UNICEF name and emblem on the front of their shirts, both home and away. In addition to wearing the name, the club also has agreed to 0.7% of their annual revenue and 1.5 million Euros over the next five years to the charity. Obviously their motivation is more than just generosity but I think this is a good step in making FC Barcelona the world’s club.

Iraq war continues unimpeded, soccer players at risk

The BBC recently ran an article on the Iraq war with a slightly different take than most. The piece, which can be found “here”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6401839.stm , related two stories of youth soccer games interrupted by bomb attacks. In both cases there were fatalities. The whole situation reminds me of this anti-landmine advertisement put out by the UN. It was never aired in the US for obvious reasons, but the message is an important one.

Beautiful women doing good, a trend worth continuing

Maria Sharapova, the gorgeous and skilled young tennis stud(ette?) will be joining the ranks of UN goodwill ambassadors, focusing on the Chernobyl area. The Russian woman”s parents actually lived not far from the city and moved to Siberia when the nuclear reactor melted down. It was there that Sharapova was born in 1987. After signing up as an ambassador, she also donated $100,000 to relief efforts in the area.

Sharapova now joins actress Angelina Jolie as one of the UN”s very high profile goodwill ambassadors. As I said, I like this trend.

See “previous post”:http://duenos.net/article/5/for-the-mpaa-its-republicans-over-refugees about Angelina Jolie.

An ironic news cycle for Zimbabwe

In a twist of irony that only the truly cynical could find funny, two news stories are coming out of debt/war-torn Zimbabwe. The first story is that Zimbabwe has hit yet another world-record inflation mark, this time allowing their ‘currency’ to rise at 1,593.6%. At the same time as the world looks on in horror at the meteoric (and yet somehow sustained) fall of Zimbabwe‚Äôs economy, President Robert Mugabe has set about his own agenda with very little attention to the economic catastrophe in his country. That agenda seems to be solely focused on celebrating his 83rd birthday at an estimated cost of 1.2 million dollars. Of course the government of Zimbabwe doesn’t actually have that kind of money, so President Mugabe has sent out a plea to the people of the country (80% of whom are chronically unemployed) to donate funds for the party.

Don’t believe me? Check out these articles published not 8 minutes apart from each other: “Birthday”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6354337.stm “Inflation.”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6354783.stm