|Image of Titan lakes from Cassini credit NASA|
RANTS OF THE WEEK
Titan is very sad and angry this week. This was a bad week for human rights around the world. The death penalty was implemented in the United States, China and Belarus. The time has come for enlightened people around the world to speak up and let these benighted nations see how isolated they are in killing their own citizens by means of the judicial system.
Troy Davis, 42, who had been on death row since 1991, was executed by lethal injection at the Georgia state prison in Jackson on Wednesday, despite serious doubts surrounding his conviction.
On the same day, Iran publicly hanged a 17-year old boy convicted of killing a popular athlete despite international prohibitions against executing juveniles, while China executed a Pakistani national convicted of drug smuggling even though drug offences do not meet the threshold for “most serious” crimes in international law.
Iranian teenager Alireza Molla-Soltani was hanged Wednesday morning in front of a large crowd in the city of Karaj.
Zahid Husain Shah, who was arrested in 2008 for drug smuggling, was executed in China by lethal injection on Wednesday.
On the same day, Lawrence Brewer was also executed in Huntsville, Texas. He was sentenced to death for his role in the killing of James Byrd, Jr. in June 1998.
Titan along with Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, without exception. Indeed, there are heinous crimes committed, but the resources invested in executions could be better spent on law enforcement and community protection.
“The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Americas.
“Hopefully the harrowing executions that have been carried out today will spur Amnesty International members, and other activists on to continue the fight against the death penalty,” she added.
The full Amnesty press release gives more detail.
ERITREA: PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
The government in Eritrea has been holding 11 prominent politicians, including three former cabinet ministers, incommunicado without charge for 10 years. Their "crime" was to call for democratic reforms. This situation is intolerable and the governments of the democracies of the world should take action.
|Aster Fissehatsion has been held incommunicado for ten years|
This week we listened to Obama's speech at the UN. I would like to have my vote back, although the alternative was worse. Titan and I will discuss his pandering to Jewish money (the votes are not significant) over our region, but we wanted to vomit when he mentioned Bahrain The brutal repression of the popular uprising by the Saudi Army with tacit approval from Washington did not count for a tinker's damn compared to the logistics of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf. To give you an idea of what the repression involved, here is a link to the blog of a female activist who was imprisoned and abused in custody.
|After the demolition of the Pearl Roundabout, many activists were targeted for arrest © Amnesty International|
The people of Haiti were subject for decades to the corrupt and autocratic role of the Duvaliers, father and son. The son "Baby Doc" Jean-Claude Duvalier has returned to Haiti after 25 years of exile. The time and opportunity have come to put him on trial for his many crimes against the Haitian people.
|Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti in January after 25 years in exile in France |
ACTION FOR WORKERS
The old USSR seems to be alive and kicking, at least as far as oppression of workers is concerned. Of course it was billed as the workers' paradise, but we know what that meant. Here is an action call for workers in Georgia and Kazakhstan. Please help out with a few clicks.
Liberia is struggling to come out of a long civil war, but it must take steps to improve conditions in its prisons. Amnesty International has issued a report on these appalling conditions which constitute a violation of basic human rights. The human rights organization has submitted a detailed report with recommendations to the Liberian government.
|There is a lack of adequate food and water|
© Glenna Gordon
It is incredible that seismologists are being held responsible for failing to predict the earthquake that devastated the town of L'Aquila and killed more than 300 people. They are actually being put on trial and could go to jail. It is well known that nobody can predict earthquakes and the entire process is a disgrace to a civilized nation.
A group of women in a violence-plagued area of the Philippines came up with their own weapon to end the fighting -- a sex strike. It appears to have had an effect in Mindanao where violence has ruled for far too long. So let's hear it for the smart ladies of the Phillipines. This technique should be used elsewhere in this strife-ridden world of ours.
HOME SWEET HOME
Titan, Pollyanna and YandA all watched Obama's speech at the UN. It was the only important one because we all knew what Abbass and Natanyahu would say. The speech was a great disappointment and it tells us that there will be no real help forthcoming from the US in bringing about a real settlement here. Obama has his own fish to fry including the support of wealthy and influential Jews in the United States. Natanyahu is in the clutches of several forces that will not let him take the steps needed to create a viable Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. His family, his radical wife and fanatic 100 year old father, will not tolerate giving up an inch of land. The coalition of oddly matched right wing components has outflanked him from the right. They are held together by a desire to keep all the land and a hatred for the values of liberal democracy. The coalition and its ideology are very well analyzed by Carlo Strenger; I recommend his article for your perusal and thoughts. In the past few weeks, we have blogged about the issue of liberal democracy and the attacks upon it from the fascist component of the Israeli body politic. The public in Israel has been inculcated with irrational fears, racism and distrust of all the world and they will probably continue to reelect the right wing. The election of a right winger to head the nominally leftist Labor Party makes the situation every more dire. Israel is becoming isolated and a siege mentality has developed. Thomas Friedman in the NYTimes has given us a cogent analysis of the situation. His article was published in Hebrew in Haaretz, but I suspect it will have little or no impact. Friedman says that our foreign policy makers are inept. He is too charitable. They know what they are doing and that is even more frightening.
The four bloggers, Titan, Pollyanna and YandA went to Bet Jalla this week to participate in a celebration of Palestinian statehood. There were many Jewish Israelis there and our presence was appreciated. Yossi Sarid, a former MK and Minister,
gave an excellent speech. Besides the speeches, we were regaled with song and dance by the locals and in general we are glad that we went.
As if we did not have enough trouble with retrocausality and entanglement we now seem to have neutrinos moving faster than light. Scientists at CERN sent neutrinos to Italy and came up with a superluminous velocity. Of course extraordinary results require extraordinary proof and the people involved are asking their colleagues to try to replicate. The results have been published online.
|Oliver Sacks in 2009. Chris McGrath/Getty Images|
As you all know, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, long past its operating lifetime, finally fell to Earth and landed in the Pacific. If any of you wondered why UARS fell, the Reverend Pat Roberston has an explanation.
LECHERY TEST FOR PURE SOULS
Our guardian of morality Gene Weingarten has come up with a test of human lechery. You are invited to take the test, in accordance with your age and gender to see how you stack up against the population at large.
Click as appropriate:
Females under 32
Females 32 or older
Males under 32
Males 32 or over
Our friends from XKCD also know something of age and the stages of life(click on comic strip to enlarge)