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From the CBC:

“Malaysian couples are being invited to hold their weddings at a district police headquarters in a bid by authorities to boost ties with the public and avoid being idle in a community where crime is rare, an official said Thursday.”

Wow, I guess there are worse things to do with your time if you are part of the police force.

“Authorities have time to focus on public relations because the only crime reported in the district of 6,000 people so far this year was a house break-in, Mohamad Fauzi said.”

Al Jazeera reports: Mexico has become the top provider of sex slaves to the Americas, according to the United Nations.

Is this report really surprising?  I mean with NAFTA and all the globalization free trade nonsense aka the Race to the Bottom how can this be an unexpected result?  Mexico is at the bottom of the North American socio-economic heap we should look to this country as laboratory as to the results of unregulated capitalism and what it does to people, especially women who inevitably are on the lowest tier of society.

The report is chilling.

The New Testament is all about love. Sure, there was some practices promoted in the old testament that could be considered a bit brutish by today’s standards, but Jebus fixed all that, not by recanting any of those barbarous edicts, but by saying ‘love your neighbor’. So you see, all you christian naysayers, the new testament represents a much nicer and loving image of god. Oh, yeah, one more thing, he also invented hell.

I was quite shocked to learn that the old testament doesn’t speak once about a lake of fire or eternal suffering anywhere within its dreary pages. Brimstone and torture that lasts forever was introduced by the new testament. Now up until I learned that, I was of the mind that the new testament was just as horrible as the old, but with this new tidbit of knowledge I find that the new testament is far worse than the old in terms of brutality and moral perversion.   Allow me to illustrate.

For this thought experiment, we need to be able to quantify the amount of suffering, or evil, that a person could do in his or her lifetime. Just for the sake of humourous triviality, I will call the units of this quantification “sin points”.

Let’s say we have an absolutely wonderful person, a real saint. Nice to everyone, very giving goes the extra mile to make the world a better place. Now, people being the fallible entities that they are, it wouldn’t be realistic to say that this person would acquire zero sin points throughout his life, so let’s say someone like that would only get one. The average person, let’s say, would get something like 1000 sin points in their life (that first guy was really REALLY nice) and your average rapist murderer type person would get 1 trillion.

Now, since we imagined one of the best people that could exist (only one sin point, for goodness sake!) lets also imagine the worst. This individual not only hates people enough to do horrific things to them, but through some unlucky circumstance, he also acquires the longevity and resources to take out this hate on more people over a longer period than anyone ever has in history. Imagine if, say, a Hitler type decided that anyone who did not have green eyes deserved much worse than death. So, this super Hitler successfully creates a worldwide totalitarian regime wherein he lives a long life of torturing billions of people death in the most excruciating ways possible. Even after his death, it takes the globe about 3 generations to recover from super Hitler’s reign of terror. Now this is one bad hombre. How many sin points does he get?

Well, a murderer gets 1 trillion. If the murderer uses torture, let’s say, it’s upped to 1 trillion squared. Multiply that by the number of people Super Hitler tortured to death (let’s say 10 billion people, just to say he was extra mean) and square that for all the suffering involved in the global recovery (a bit excessive, but we are making this guy the worst possible person) and just for good measure, lets square it again. Grand total that’s 1X10 to the power of 128 sin points (that’s 1 with 128 zeros after it, in case it’s been a while since your last math class).

Read the rest of this entry »

Personal Expression or repression?

Al Jazeera reports: “In the Canadian province of Quebec a furious public debate has erupted over Muslim women who wear the niqab – face veil.

Out of over 200,000 Muslims in Montreal in Quebec, only a few dozen women wear the niqab, but under a proposed new legislation they could be barred from receiving public services.”

When I think about this issue I get a headache.  The complexity and intersectionality of issues regarding women’s rights, religious freedom and society is staggering.  Watch the video for a little background.

Canada is a secular democracy.  I hesitate to fully endorse a law that prohibits anyone from wearing what they deem to be culturally important to them.  Conversely, the Niqab and the Burka are both symbols of the oppression of women by the patriarchal rules of a delusional following known as Islam.

Modesty?  Can men be immodest? Why is there not a male version of the Burka?

“No no no” you see the Burka protects women from men and their uncontrollable rape-happy urges.  So says the Mullah, so says the Patriarchy.  ‘Bullshit’ I say.  Stripping women of their identities does not make them safer, nor does it prevent rape as the commodification and objectification happens by default in any patriarchal society.

The rub comes when people bring their cultural traditions to a secular society and then expect them to be accepted without a hitch.  Whoa!  Cultural relativism warning!  Where do we draw the line when people bring potentially repressive traditions to our society?  How much respect should we accord them?  *gnash teeth*

The thing is that women choose to do repressive objectifying things to themselves all the time.  Is it enough to leave the argument at if women ‘choose’ (aka obeying repressive cultural dictates) to wear the Niqab, so be it despite all the negative baggage associated with it?

To be honest, I really cannot say for sure one way or the other.  What do you think?

Man, what do I do after denial stops working?

The Canadian occupation of Afghanistan is an international shame.  We are killing innocent people and torturing people.  The Geneva Convention needs to be dusted off and read 100 times by our military leaders and political drones so they get the idea of human rights are not just for “us” but extend to everyone in the world.

The CBC reports:

“A parliamentary committee has heard stunning allegations from a former translator who claims the Canadian military tried to cover up the fatal shooting of an Afghan man in October 2007.

Ahmadshah Malgarai also alleged to MPs in Ottawa that the Canadian military “panicked” and rounded up a half a dozen Afghans between the age of 10 and 90 after the shooting of a man sleeping on the roof of a compound in southern Afghanistan.”

Fantastic, murder someone and then round up possible witnesses for intimidation interrogation.

Apparently though Mr.Malgarai did not actually witness the execution.

“Malgarai testified he was not at the compound during the alleged incident, although he was allowed to see the intelligence report and took part in the interrogation of the detained men. He alleged a member of the military personally described it to him as “murder.”

Of course Conservative MP Laurie Hawn was there sowing confusion.  Best to muddy the waters in defence of  aberrant government policy.

“When Hawn then asked if Malgarai was calling Hillier a liar, Ahmadshad became agitated and accused the Tory MP of trying to put words in his mouth.”

What did happen that night?  Something significant, the ripples are to big just to be a false allegation in my opinion.

Alfred Mccoy was right in his book A Question about Torture:  using torture as official policy has serious corrosive effects on both the victims and the abusers.  The effect is evident already in Afghanistan as the Canadian Armed Forces torture scandal continues to unfold.

Shamelessly plagiarized from Wikipedia:

The Second Bill of Rights was a proposal made by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944 to suggest that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second bill of rights. Roosevelt did not argue for any change to the United States Constitution; he argued that the second bill of rights was to be implemented politically, not by federal judges. Roosevelt’s stated justification was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” Roosevelt’s remedy was to create an “economic bill of rights” which would guarantee:

  • A job with a living wage
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • A home
  • Medical care
  • Education
  • Recreation

Roosevelt stated that having these rights would guarantee American security, and that America’s place in the world depended upon how far these and similar rights had been carried into practice.

How different a political landscape we would be faced with today if FDR has lived.  Would we see the Plutocracy that is in full bloom currently in the US?  Perhaps, but I think that the enormous divisions that exist in American society would be significantly less and more people would feel like they were part of the system rather then victims of it.

President Obama should take heed of FDR’s words and make them his second term platform.   Adopting such a progressive goal, I think, would take the bitter taste out of so many progressive’s mouths.

The Second Bill of Rights TV address to the American people in case you missed it.

Women having rights to their own bodies, radical I know.

It is nice to see that women are being treated more like human beings in Ethiopia.  Reproductive freedom is a cornerstone of womens rights and needs to be fostered and protected wherever possible.  The Guttmacher Institute has just publicized a study done in Ethiopia.   It is still not a completley rosy picture over there however:

Only 14% of Ethiopian women of reproductive age use contraceptives. The low level of contraceptive use leads to high levels of unintended pregnancy, the root cause of abortion: Some 42% of all pregnancies are unintended. The study also found that the majority of women seeking treatment for complications of unsafe abortion—81%—were married. By contrast, only 46% of women seeking induced abortions were married. The vast majority of both groups—92% of women seeking postabortion care and 79% of women who had abortions—were mothers. The average age among both groups was 28.”

Funny how facts actually dispel the tripe anti-choice activists like to throw around.  Darn irresponsible women (already mothers) just doing it because they can.

“The study estimates that, in 2008, 382,500 abortions were performed in Ethiopia, for an annual rate of 23 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. Despite women’s expanded legal access to abortion, only 27% of these—103,000—were legal and safe procedures performed in health facilities.

The study also found that, in 2008, 58,600 women were treated for abortion-related complications, primarily resulting from unsafe procedures. Among these, 100 women died from their complications, and many more suffered from related injuries or illnesses. Four out of 10 women showed signs of infection or invasive injuries when they arrived at health facilities for postabortion care. Many women with complications never reach health care facilities, because they live too far from services, they avoid seeking help because of fear and stigma, or they die before reaching a facility.”

The negative consequences of not having access to reproductive health services is quite clear.  So when you hear the fetus fetishists go on about how women are ‘just fine’  once stripped of their reproductive rights, you know it is pure bull-cookery.

“Global data show that expanding legal abortion access reduces death and illness from unsafe abortion. For example, South Africa saw abortion-related maternal mortality decline by more than 50% after expanding access in 1997. Many stakeholders throughout the region are looking to Ethiopia as a model for addressing a crisis in maternal mortality. The current study will serve as a baseline for assessing the country’s progress in reducing maternal deaths as the government continues to expand services.”

A big thanks to the Guttmacher Institute for reporting on such important issues.

I had the intention of making this a post about how to diffuse some of the arguments anti-choice people make.  The quoted bits are good examples that take down some of the toxic memes that have formed around the debate.   I swear though, if I hear what about the baaaaaaaby one more time I will blow a lobe because that is not arguing, but rather, a complete denial of the woman in the whole process of reproduction.  Women are not mere vessels meant only for reproduction, but fully autonomous beings that have the right to determine what goes on in their body.

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April 2010


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