Well, this has occasioned a whole lot more discussion than I’d anticipated (especially given how little anyone said about yesterday’s post on the very same topic) …
But, seriously, we all know the whole religious freedom argument is just an attempt at an end run around all manner of anti-discrimination laws and court cases, right?
Florida: Where the Stand Your Ground law will always agree that a white guy had a good reason to murder a black teenager.
Seems like this guy would’ve been in the clear if he’d managed to kill everyone in the car since the jury couldn’t decide on the one murder charge but had no trouble with all the attempted murder charges.
The whole situation is so incredibly disturbing for so many reasons. Not the least of which is how often this kind of thing keeps happening.
When I was 10 years old and a smiling Dennis Rodman gave me his autograph after the players’ shoot-around before a Pistons game, I certainly never could have imagined he’d end up here, an irate (and possibly ill) man blathering incoherently from Pyongyang in response to questions about an American citizen who has been detained without charge in North Korea:
Defending the behavior of a genocidal regime is the strangest and lowest point in what has been a troubled, troubled life.
Anonymous asked: I really want to be knowledgeable about current events, especially world news, but I feel like I have to know so much background to really understand what's going on and make an informed opinion. Is wikipedia a good resource for this or are there better ones?
My recommendation for anyone with an interest in global affairs is to start with a few newspapers, specifically ones with good international reporting. That will give you the basic news.
When you want to get some depth on a given situation or a particular country, then you can turn to Wikipedia for the basics. But you should regard Wikipedia as a first pass, rather than as the conclusion of your journey.
As an example, take the unfolding situation in the Central African Republic. You might see the CAR in the news, then search Wikipedia for the basics, and then go to the experts for analysis. Human Rights Watch has a lot of detail on the situation, as does Amnesty International. And, of course, don’t forget to see what the experts have said. If you want more information, or information on a specific topic, you can also find a lot of good reporting on the CAR online; there’s this piece by my friend Hayes Brown, for example, about Samantha Power and the U.S.’s involvement in the crisis.
Finally, find reporters — international or not — whose work you trust and follow them on Twitter. They’ll keep you updated, not only the issues that originally brought them to your attention but on whatever’s developing.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 65 years old today!
Celebrate by taking action: Send a letter or two or ten on behalf of prisoners of conscience as part of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign! Sample letters are available to make it ridiculously easy for you and your friends to promote and defend human rights.
Happy Human Rights Day!
Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. The world has lost one of its great heroes.
Here’s a short snippet about Mandela’s uniqueness from an article I published a couple of years ago on the role played by forgiveness and reconciliation in restorative justice:
Perhaps the most recognizable contemporary example of unilateral forgiveness is Nelson Mandela, who seems to harbor no resentment toward those who imprisoned him on Robben Island for 27 years. Govier (2002, p. 71) argues that
When Mandela reached out to his former enemies and did whatever he could to assure them that they would suffer no evil at his hands, he did not do this in response to acknowledgement and expressions of remorse on the part of white leaders. Nor was he responding to a community that had apologized for the wrongs of the past and indicated a commitment to deep and widespread moral transformation.
It is undoubtedly because Mandela had so much about which he could have been justifiably angry that his forgiveness has inspired so many in South Africa and around the world. The unilateral forgiveness that he offered to white South Africans was not seen by anyone as a sign of weakness or willingness to forget the past, but instead has gained him nearly universal admiration for his ‘openness, acceptance, and lack of bitterness’ (Govier 2002, p. 71). Indeed, Mandela’s decision to spend New Year’s Eve 2000 on Robben Island signified both his remembering of apartheid and his triumph over the conditions that system imposed on him and all black South Africans. Govier (2002, p. 61) rightly argues that ‘What is at issue in forgiveness is not whether suffering and wrongdoing are remembered, but how they are remembered.’
Govier, T., 2002. Forgiveness and revenge. London: Routledge.
Anonymous asked: It's completely asinine to believe that making a deal with Iran was a good thing. They played the US like a fiddle, and they can now continue to work on their nuclear program as much they want to for the next six months. Meanwhile, the US is slowly pushing away its only true ally in the Middle East (Israel) in order to make a half assed pact with Hezbollah-controlled Iran.
I’m going to pretend that this was a serious question about the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, rather than the fact-less rant it is, and provide a brief answer about why the deal doesn’t simply allow Iran to “continue to work on their nuclear program as much [as] they want to for the next six months.”
Here’s a quick primer, courtesy of our good friends at CNN:
As part of the deal, Iran will be required to dilute its stockpile of uranium that had been enriched to 20%…. The deal also mandates Iran halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical equipment required to do that. Before the end of the initial phase of the deal, all its stockpiles should be diluted below 5% or converted to a form not suitable for further enrichment, the deal states.
Iran would also have to cut back on constructing new centrifuges and enrichment facilities, and freeze essential work on its heavy-water reactor under development at Arak. That facility could be used as a source of plutonium — a second pathway to a nuclear bomb. The reactor under construction southwest of Tehran had been a sticking point in earlier negotiations.
Iran is expected to provide daily access to inspectors from the international agency, IAEA. The inspectors will be expected to visit centrifuge assembly and storage facilities, uranium mills and the Arak reactor, among others. The P5+1 and Iran will also form a joint task force on the issue.
Is the deal perfect? Certainly not.
Is it guaranteed to succeed in all of its aims? It’s not.
Is it better than the foolish saber-rattling from Israel that might lead to war and the sanctions that punish the Iranian people for decisions undertaken by a regime they’ve tried to oust, unsuccessfully, in the very recent past? Yeah, I’d say so.
It’s sort of amazing that the Israeli government and House Republicans managed to immediately complain about the Obama administration reaching a deal that is set to slow down the Iranian worrisome nuclear program and bring an end to painful sanctions. In fact, it really seems like they voiced a fair number of their concerns before they even had a sense of the deal’s exact terms.
So … there seems to be literally nothing the Obama administration can accomplish that the Netanyahu government and House Republicans won’t immediately denounce. The only thing that might escape condemnation would be President Obama announcing that he was unilaterally doing away with all forms of taxation, ending Obamacare and taking away health insurance from everyone whose SNAP benefits were recently cut, stepping down from office, and turning the government over to a triumvirate of Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Benjamin Netanyahu.
And even that’s not a guarantee.