Archive for August 2010
The Deseret News has an article on an interesting case this week: An Atheist group in Denver filed a lawsuit to remove memorial-crosses from the highway, and they won.
DENVER — The white, roadside crosses that currently memorialize the deaths of 14 Utah Highway Patrol troopers are unconstitutional, government endorsements of religion on public lands, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
“We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion,” the court wrote in siding with the Texas-based American Atheists, Inc.
In 2005, the atheist group sued the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Highway Patrol Association, a private entity aimed at supporting troopers and their families, to get the crosses taken off state lands.
On Wednesday, 10th Circuit judges David M. Ebel, Harris L. Hartz and Deanell Reece Tacha ruled the white crosses violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »
The following report was published yesterday, August 15th 2010, by the Human Rights House Of Iran, RAHANA.
RAHANA – It has been reported that some of these individuals arrested in relation to drug trafficking, had been handed down sentences that did NOT include the death penalty and had only been fined. Despite these sentences, they were executed suddenly and without prior notice based on a judicial order.
According to reports by Iran Green Voice, the reason behind this sudden decision to execute has not been provided by the judiciary, however, there is speculation that the order was executed by Intelligence and Security Institutions. Previously, based on a similar case in the city of Mashhad at the start of the 1st term of Ahmadinejad’s presidency when ties between high-ranking security officials and a drug trafficking group were exposed, more than 60 people (mainly citizens of Torbat-e Jam and Taibad) associated with that case file were also suddenly executed. At that time, a number of the relatives of the security forces in question were also executed.
It is worth mentioning that based on received reports, this last round of executions included names of individuals under the age of 18.
Ahmad Eghbal, political activist arrested on December 21st, 2009 and released after 170 days in prison on June 10th, 2010, on approximately 48,000 USD bail made the following statement in court during his defense: “During my three-month incarceration at ward 6/1 at Vakil Abad prison, based on confirmed information I heard from the prison officials and crew, more than 50 individuals were transferred to ward 6/1 and later executed. However, at one point when 31 individuals were executed, the Justice Department and Information Ministry in Khorasan informed a news paper in Khorasan that only 5 international drug traffickers had been executed.”
The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to execute its citizens despite international protests against such actions. The reported number of executions in prisons across Iran is still extremely high.
It is not even an exceptional story. The Iranian regime does stuff like this on a daily basis – just go to freedomessenger.com or the Rahana homepage to get a taste. And do keep in mind that these are only the fraction of the stories that the agencies and activists of Iran judge newsworthy enough to be translated into english. These are only the spectacular cases. What absolutely astonishes me is the utter disregard the regime shows for its international reputation. They just do not seem to care at all. The only thing that astonishes me even more it the complete lack of action from the west. There is not even a word of condemnation, and Iran’s seat in the UN Human Rights Council remains unchallenged.
Stories like this one do not even make the news over here. There we have a regime that didn’t even bother trying to cover up the rigging of its election, which is bad enough in itself, and a few days ago they executed over 70 people – few of them under the age of 18, most of them without even a justification, all of them without proper trial – and the rest of the world just looks on and does nothing.
And no, I’m not one of those calling for an invasion. But I do ask that we display the minimum of concern and put some political pressure on the regime. We cannot let them go on spitting in the face of the very idea of Human Rights like that. Condemn the actions that are taking place, ask for justification, acknowledge the reports of human rights organizations. I urge everyone to raise awareness of the situation. Spread the word, write to your political representative and news stations and ask them to take a stand.
Hitchens talks about death, and I haven’t yet heard anybody talk about this topic in a way that resonated so strongly with me.
Even undergoing chemo-therapy that already cost him 7 pounds and most of his hair, Hitchens is as strong as ever. There is no denial, but no fatalism either. He knew about the possible consequences of his lifestyle from the very beginning – it was a risk he took consciously. Of course he isn’t exactly happy when contemplating that he might not live to see his children married, or that the plans he made for the next decade probably just won’t happen. “But”, he writes, “I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity. […] To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?”
Under the following link you’ll find a video of Hitchens getting interviewed by CNN’s Aderson Cooper.
He is not resigned, but at the same time he remains realistic. He knows that his chances are slim, but he also knows that there is no point in whining and self-pitying. I think it’s an admirable serenity. Here is a man who has come to terms with his mortality a long time ago. “I knowingly [burned] the candle at both ends”, he says, “finding that it often gives a lovely light.”