Tag Archives: human rights

Deporting to death: U.S. and refugees

Syrian refugees drown, washing up on beaches in public view. Central American refugees, deported back to the countries they fled, die out of sight, out of mind. The Guardian highlighted three cases of young Honduran men who were murdered shortly after being deported. They are three among many, says The Guardian, referring to a study by a San Diego State University social scientist who has identified 83 such cases in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala since January 2014. Continue reading

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Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Photo of 2012 Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Berkeley by Quinn Dombrowski, published under Creative Commons license.

Photo of 2012 Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Berkeley by Quinn Dombrowski, published under Creative Commons license.

Yes — October 12 is Indigenous Peoples Day in the Twin Cities! Celebrating means recognizing the legacy and continuing contributions of Native Americans to this country and state. As Congressmember Keith Ellison said last year, during the Minneapolis debate:

“The very foundation of the United States, the theoretical concept of it, offered to our nation by the Iroquois Confederacy, as we were told growing up, ‘Oh, this is from the Greeks.’ We weren’t told about the Iroquois Confederacy, but we learned about it. And now that we have established Indigenous Peoples Day, every child – whether that child is Native, or whether that child is not – will learn the truth about where America really, really comes from.”

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Syrian suffering, refugees continue: U.S. response is small and slow

Syrian refugees' camp in Cappadocia, Turkey. Photo by Fabio Sola Penna, published under Creative Commons license. 

Syrian refugees’ camp in Cappadocia, Turkey. Photo by Fabio Sola Penna, published under Creative Commons license.

In an eloquent cri de coeur, Lina Sergie Attar wrote about the agony of Syria:

“Now, the everyday violence and death Syrians witness is no longer recorded in full force unless events surpass the daily ‘acceptable’ quota of death—like it did on August 16 in Douma, after more than 100 people were killed by a regime aerial attack on a crowded marketplace. These kinds of mass tragedies, like the chemical weapons attack in 2013 and the Daraya massacre in 2012, capture the world’s attention—headlines, outrage, condemnation—for a few moments before Syria’s suffering once again fades to white noise. When the country has been reduced to smoldering ashes and its people have been forced into a mass exodus to new countries and new homes, our capacity to document—to speak or write and chant—dwindles. History collapses into a simple etcetera.”

More than four million refugees have fled Syria. Millions more remain inside Syria, but no longer in their own homes, internal refugees forced to flee for their lives. Continue reading

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Private prisons, public shame

In May the state of Washington contracted with the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., to move up to 1,000 inmates from the state’s overcrowded prisons to its correctional facility in Michigan, thousands of miles from their homes and families. This makes family visits and connection with the community harder, though studies show that inmates who receive more visits are less likely to re-offend after release. Continue reading

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Pope-check: Where does Pope Francis really stand?

Is Pope Francis a breath of fresh air, throwing Vatican windows wide open to the world again, heralding a new day for the Catholic Church? Or is he a cafeteria progressive, choosing only certain social issues — environment, refugees, the poor — and maintaining a hard line on others —acceptance of LGBT people, role of women, anything to do with sexuality? Continue reading

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Act now to save the next child

Photo of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey in 2014, by European Commission DGEcho, published under Creative Commons license.

Photo of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey in 2014, by European Commission DGEcho, published under Creative Commons license.

Abdullah Kurdi, father of the toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, spoke to Reuters as the bodies of his wife and two young sons lay in a Turkish morgue:

“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this,” he said.

“We want the world’s attention on us, so they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last.”

We can take concrete actions, tonight, tomorrow, the next day to save the next child. Actions carry no guarantees of success, but inaction ensures failure. Continue reading

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More than saints and superheroes

Photo by Franco Folini. Published under Creative Commons license. Mural: Tribute to Archbishop Oscar Romero by Jamie Morgan, 2001, Balmy Alley, San Francisco. 

Photo by Franco Folini. Published under Creative Commons license. Mural: Tribute to Archbishop Oscar Romero by Jamie Morgan, 2001, Balmy Alley, San Francisco.

The Catholic Church took one more step toward declaring Archbishop Óscar Romero a saint this week. To millions of people, he is already a saint, a hero and — more importantly — a human inspiration to emulate. Saints and superheroes can seem out of reach to ordinary people. Superman can stop a speeding bullet and leap tall buildings with a single bound. Óscar Romero could not, but he remains now and forever presente, here with us as family and friend and challenge. Continue reading

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Forensic FAIL at FBI — Where’s Bones when we need her?

#37053796 - Microscope © Les Cunliffe via Fotolia

#37053796 – Microscope © Les Cunliffe via Fotolia

The FBI screwed up big-time and long-time, according to all reports now surfacing. The Washington Post leads with:

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”

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Free speech goes to jail

© alexskopje - Fotolia.com

© alexskopje – Fotolia.com

If the first casualty of war is truth, the second is freedom to speak. Since the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, government repression of political speech has accelerated, and so have attacks on Muslims.

France arrested at least 54 people for “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism in the week after Charlie Hebdo — none of whom were even alleged to be connected to the attacks. Continue reading

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Selma: the movie and the movement, then and now

Screen shot from Selma Movie Glory lyrics video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEFRPLM0nEA

Screen shot from Selma Movie Glory lyrics video, showing marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEFRPLM0nEA

Selma, the movie, makes a powerful and inspiring call to action. Without glossing over divisions in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Selma focuses on courage and commitment, and connects the movement then to the movement now. Continue reading

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