Sep 302008
 

From IRIN:

“During the bitterly contested Zimbabwe elections between President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the country’s rural areas became effective no-go areas. There were numerous reports of politically motivated killings and widespread rapes, allegedly by members of Zimbabwe’s national army, veterans of the country’s liberation war and members of the ruling party’s youth militia.

The violent campaign led Tsvangirai to withdraw from the presidential race, after he had won the first round of voting, although not by the required 50 percent plus one vote. Mugabe, who came to power at independence in 1980, became the sole candidate and claimed an overwhelming victory in the poll. The international community refused to recognise the result.

A power sharing deal has since been negotiated by the former South African President Thabo Mbeki. While the attention has shifted to whether or not the politicians can make the unity government work, the victims of political violence remain traumatised and will never forget the events of 2008″

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 September 30, 2008  Posted by on September 30, 2008 Comments Off
Sep 292008
 

Can the McCain campaign stoop any lower??  Go to
VoteForTheMILF.com and you will be re-directed to, wait for it…JohnMcCain.com.  Read the whole ridiculous story here.

I’m guessing that as soon as the word starts getting around, they’ll stop it, so check it out now! And if you don’t know what a MILF is, here’s the definition.

Update–As predicted the re-direct has been re-directed, now it goes to a Wikipedia page that explains the domain name system, none the less, check out the article above, no doubt who owned the milf site, regardless of where they are re-directing.

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 September 29, 2008  Posted by on September 29, 2008 Comments Off
Sep 292008
 

From the Urgent Appeals Programme Asian Human Rights Commission:

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is shocked to learn that three more women have been buried alive in Balochistan province, a few days after they protested against the live burial of five women taking place in the same province. One prime perpetrator of the murder has not been seen since he was taken into police custody. It is reported that he and seven other men involved are under the protection of the provincial minister Mr. Sadiq Umrani–the brother of the main suspect.

According to information received, the three women had spoken out in the case of the live burial of five women. They were allegedly abducted by Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani–the younger brother of the provincial minister–and other thugs, including a head constable of police. It is reported that the three women were also buried alive using the same tractor as in the case of the first five women. The women were from Teendah and Mirwah villages in Naseerabad (names withheld for security reasons of their family members). As of now, the number of women who have been buried rises to eight in the area.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Umrani, the head constable of police and bodyguard to Abdul Sattar Umrani, has still not been arrested and continues serving as a personal bodyguard.

It is reported that suspects are hiding under the protection of the provincial minister, Mr. Sadiq Umrani. The alleged main perpetrator, Mr. Mohammed Murad, Nazim (chief) of Union Consul Garhi Raman–the owner of the tractor–was taken into police custody last week. He was handed over to the crime branch of the Balochistan police, who deny that he was handed over. It is believed that he too is now under provincial protection.

Detailed information has been obtained regarding an earlier case in which Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani was involved In this case, he forcibly occupied the land of Haji Bulab Palali in Moza Tharoo, Babakot, and gave the house to his brother, at the same time that his brother became provincial of housing in May 2008. It caused armed fighting between the two parties and one man from the Umrani side, Mr. Abdul Fateh Bangal, was killed.

In an act of revenge for Bangal’s death, Umrani’s side attacked Haji’s house together with Mr. Mohammed Murad.  During the assault they killed eight people including the wife of Haji and his four sons.

After the killings took place, Mr. Nadir Magsi, minister of Sindh province held a Jirga that decided upon a fine of Rs. 10 million (around USD 150,000) against Abdul Sattar Umrani. He made a payment of Rs. 1 million for the murder of each person and 2 million rupees for dishonoring the sanctity of another’s house by attacking it. However, the police have not yet instigated an investigation or made any effort to arrest those responsible.

The courts of Pakistan, including the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court, have declared the Jirga as illegal and unconstitutional. Nevertheless, it is still a common practice in feudal and tribal based areas (please refer to our previous appeals: The Government of Pakistan has not taken any positive action to eliminate discrimination against women. By allowing the illegal Jirga system to continue they are turning a blind eye to the grave inconsistencies in the judiciary system in Pakistan.

To send a letter of protest, please click here.

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 September 29, 2008  Posted by on September 29, 2008 Comments Off
Sep 292008
 

It’s refreshing to see a piece like this that gets that Palin is not gawd’s gift to feminism.  Unfortunately, Rasna Warah’s commentary appeared in The Nation (Kenya), it will likely not be read by too many American voters.  Maybe we should outsource our media?

“Women who have had to struggle all their lives to survive and succeed in a male world often find it difficult to criticise other women in leadership positions.

They see such criticism as a sign of betrayal and as a blow to the women’s cause.

Yet, why is it that so many women, including myself, find the appointment of Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for the vice presidency of the United States so disconcerting?

Is it because she got this post too easily – rising from governor of a small, underpopulated state (where hunting is the main pastime) to being nominated to the second most powerful seat in government without going through a trial-by-fire?

Or are women who are constantly exhausted from working at home and having a full-time job resentful of her extraordinary ability to take care of five children (the youngest of whom is just 5 months old) and run a state at the same time?

Do we also wonder whether her political ambitions are getting in the way of her being a good wife and mother?

Actually, I don’t think it is any of the above that many women find irritating or disturbing about Palin.

The problem we have with her is much for fundamental – it has to do with the fact that Palin is the kind of woman that men use to remain on top, and that in the final analysis, women like her end up harming, rather than benefiting, the women’s cause.

It is clear that Palin was selected to be John McCain’s running mate because she does not threaten the edifice upon which male-dominated Washington rests.

She constantly refers to herself as a “hockey mom” and expects people to believe that this is enough qualification to run a country.

In all her speeches, she defers to men, whether it is McCain or her husband, as if seeking their permission.

As far I can tell, she has little or no foreign policy experience. She is the kind of woman powerful men like to have around because it affirms their own superiority.

Which is not to say that she is a pushover. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Palin is quick to fire people she does not like and has been known to punish those who oppose her.

Loyalty and secrecy characterise her management style, which she values more than competence and integrity.

Although this is a style than men in powerful positions have perfected, many women find it hard to manage in this manner because women tend to be manage through consensus and cooperation.

Such women often find themselves either “promoted” to posts that wield little power or moved laterally to posts where they have few opportunities to use their intellect or skills.

There are exceptions, of course. Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel come to mind, but if you were to ask these women what price they paid to attain the most powerful positions in government, I am sure they will tell you tales of sacrifice, behind-the-scenes negotiations and sheer determination.

The other problem with Palin is that she seems too good to be true. Her picture-perfect life (marred recently by her pregnant teenage daughter) doesn’t seem to suffer from the trials that other women leaders have to go through to maintain a semblance of normalcy in their lives.

Unlike Michelle Obama, who has no qualms about admitting that she is worried about how the presidency might impact her family, and even talks quite openly about the challenges her family has had to face in the past, Palin seems to whiz through family and public life without a hair out of place.

In this regard, she is like Hilary Clinton, in that she tries too hard to show a rosy image of herself when the whole world knows that there is no such thing as a perfect family.

But unlike Clinton, whose razor-sharp mind and worldliness were her biggest assets, Palin appears as someone who would need a tutor to guide her through every political decision.

In terms of what Palin will do to help the women’s cause, the answer is nothing.

Palin does not care much for issues that concern working women in the United States, such as equal pay, child care, medical insurance and reproductive rights. Even her appointment is little cause to celebrate.

As author and feminist Gloria Steinem has pointed out about McCain’s choice of vice president, “This isn’t the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need.

“Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It is about making life more fair for all women.”

Palin’s nomination should therefore not be seen as a victory for women, but as a victory for men who can only secure their positions by surrounding themselves with ineffectual and compliant women.”

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 September 29, 2008  Posted by on September 29, 2008 Comments Off
Sep 292008
 

From the Office Of Sen. Joe Biden:

Senate Passes BIDEN’s Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act

September 25, 2008

Today, the Senate passed Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s (D-DE) Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008, legislation designed to help eliminate the nationwide backlog of rape evidence kits and bolster DNA testing of criminals and crime scene evidence.  The original law – authored by Sen. Biden and set to expire at the end of FY 2009 – helped standardize the evidence collection of kits for sexual assaults, making it easier to enter the information into state and national databases.  The law also provided funds to help forensic labs process the DNA evidence and compare the DNA samples with those taken from criminals.  Today’s reauthorization bill would extend the important program through 2014 and help solve thousands of rapes and other violent crimes.

It is estimated that 40 percent of the unsolved rape cases could be solved by taking the DNA sample collected after a sexual assault and comparing it to the existing DNA databases of convicted felons and rapists.  The U.S. Department of Justice has estimated that there are at least 221,000 rape kits currently on the shelves in evidence lockers, untested and gathering dust.  The Debbie Smith Grant Program has helped alleviate some of the backlog and has expanded testing to solve more crimes, but much more needs to be done.

“If there’s a rape kit left sitting on a shelf, there’s a victim without justice.  This program must be kept alive until the backlog numbers total zero,” said Senator Biden.  “It is unconscionable that we have the ability to solve these crimes and hold the perpetrators responsible, but because of red tape and lack of funding, the criminals are free and their victims continue live in fear.  In the past five years, we’ve made headway in the backlog, but we still have a long road to go before it is eliminated.”

After holding Judiciary Committee hearings on the backlog of rape kits waiting to be tested, Sen. Biden introduced and Congress passed the Advancing Justice Through DNA Act in 2004 to help states eliminate their DNA backlog and allow law enforcement greater leeway to indict unnamed individuals using their DNA profile.

The bill was named for Debbie Smith, a Virginia woman who was raped near her home in 1989 and lived in fear until a crime laboratory discovered a DNA match between the rape scene evidence and a State prisoner’s DNA sample. That match gave Mrs. Smith her first moment of real security and closure, and since then she has traveled the country to advocate on behalf of assault victims and champion the use of DNA to fight sexual assault.

The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 provides:

• $151 million per year for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to eliminate the current backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples in the nation’s crime labs. This money will provide federal grants to state and local governments over the next six years for DNA analysis of unprocessed evidence in rape cases;

• $12.5 million per year for the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act help local law enforcement agencies put the DNA profiles of convicted felons into state and national databases. It also provides training grants to help ensure that nurses, police and paramedics know how to best collect and preserve DNA evidence in sexual assault cases; and

• $30 million per year for the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Grants to ensure that there are trained and equipped personnel to assist with the treatment and examination of sexual assault victims, including Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE).

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 September 29, 2008  Posted by on September 29, 2008 Comments Off