Blogging from the 2007 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum

I am at the Carter Center in Atlanta to observe the 2007 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum. The Carter Center brings together leaders of the world’s human rights effort for discussions to try to find policy solutions that can help lessen the problem of human rights violations and atrocities that occur again and again in the world. In the next couple of days former President Jimmy Carter will be speaking, as will Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Karin Ryan, Director of the Carter Center’s Human Rights Program writes,

“Why does the international community fail again and again to respond to these crises before they take on catastrophic dimensions?”

The ongoing Human Rights Defenders Policy Forums attempt to answer that question and find solutions.

This year’s conference brings together human rights defenders of different faiths, to discuss ways that the common traditions of faith in the struggle for human dignity can be utilized to provide new channels for approaching these problems. Karin again,

“What might be accomplished if the reawakening of faith that is taking place throughout the globe were accompanied by a heightened commitment to put a stop to human rights violations in many places where they are ignored?”

So I find myself in Atlanta to observe and write about this conference. Today’s discussions are off the record as the participants work to find common areas to discuss in the public conference of the next two days. This gives me a chance to write about what it is like to be here.

What is it like? The Carter Center is a very nice facility, with excellent conference amenities. It includes the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. (The museum includes a replica of the Oval Office and I hope I get a chance to sneak over and see it. I’ll let you know.) The conference takes place in an auditorium, with a horseshoe-shaped table for the approx. twenty international Human Rights Defender participants and ten or so organizational representatives. (There will be more over the next couple of days.) There are two rows of observer tables at the edges of the room, which is where I am. I have an earpiece for translation as people speak if needed. During the coffee break I spoke to a man who showed me the places where agents of his government cut him with a machete.

And that is what my first day as an observer is like. I flew here from California and landed in a nice airport. I am staying in a nice hotel. I am typing on a computer in the hallway of a very nice conference center. I carry in my head what is probably a widely-shared image of an ideal modern, civil life. I might not live that life (or even want to or think it is sustainable) but I feel that many of us reading this probably do share the image, because you are probably reading it on a computer in a modern society. In this Ideal Modern Life we have our jobs. We drive around in cars and go to shops. We consume and have our brand attachments. We watch TV shows and are entertained. We have houses and gardens. And somewhere else in the world these things are happening.

It is the 21st century and these things are not only happening, but the world’s ability to confront such problems seems to be diminishing. The forces of racial, religious, national, ethnic, ideological, economic and environmental division seem to be gaining the upper hand. This is a conference where Human Rights Defenders struggle to find ways to help keep them from continuing to happen. The people here come from places where these things happen, but part of their message is that these things can happen when the world does not make it enough of a priority to keep them from happening.
Over the next two days I will be blogging at the Skoll Foundation’s Social Edge blog, and cross-posted at the conference’s own blog. I invite you to drop in. I’ll post summaries here as well, when I can, but mostly I’ll be posting there.

Blogging is a conversation. It is interactive. So please join this discussion and leave comments here – or better, leave them over at the Social Edge blog as the conference unfolds.

Former Canadian Ambassador Say US Already Theocracy

U.S. a theocratic state, says former Canadian ambassador,

Frank McKenna, Canada’s former ambassador to Washington, referred to the United States on Friday as “a theocratic state” in which Christian evangelicalism plays a big role in the Republican administration.
“Right now the United States is in many ways a theocratic state, not dissimilar to some of the other religious states in the world where religion has a huge part to play in government.”

Republican Brownback Says The Science On Evolution Is Not Settled

The science on whether smoking tobacco causes cancer is still unsettled. The jury is still out. The science on asbestos, lead in gasoline and paint, DDT, safety of SUVs, … etc.
And, of course, the science is still not settled on global warming. The jury is still out.
Right. Where have we heard this before?
And here we go again: Republican Presidential candidate Sam Brownback, What I Think About Evolution.
Right.
(By the way, who really wrote this?)

McCain, O’Reilly: It’s About Keeping Jews, Blacks and Women Out Of Power

The Democratic Party,

Near the end of the video, there was this exchange:
Bill O’Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you’ve got to cap with a number.
John McCain: In America today we’ve got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don’t need so many.
[crosstalk]
O’Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don’t know, I don’t know. We’ve got to cap it.
McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

Don’t Reward Failure

At Firedoglake: Don’t Reward Failure By Giving Money to NARAL,

And what did they do with all that cash? They sat it and didn’t do a damn thing, didn’t lift a finger to fight Samuel Alito. Worse yet, when the Gang of 14 decided to vote in favor of cloture, they said that they did not consider cloture votes “significant” and would not be considering them in their scorecard. They then went on to add insult to injury by asking their membership to thank Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman for the beatings they delivered with their “aye” cloture vote by pretending that their “nay” floor votes were significant. They then poured salt into the wound by endorsing both “short ride” Lieberman and Chafee over their opponents who made it clear that they would not have voted for cloture for Alito, which gave us the 5-4 decision we have today.

Go read.

Don’t reward failure. Tell your friends. Don’t give money to NARAL when they come knocking on your door to tell you that choice is going down the crapper unless you give them a lot of money, because what you’ll be giving money for is Nancy Keenan’s ability to point her little pinky over tea at Washington cocktail parties and tut-tut over the state of choice in this country at the hands of the fundamentalists. She’ll take no responsibility for the fact that NARAL will not fight, will not back those that fight, and worse yet, that NARAL sucks up all the pro-choice money so nobody else can mount a meaningful fight, either.

Pelosi Wears Scarf – Wingnuts In Full-On Frenzy

Sheesh. Speaker Pelosi wore a head covering whie visiting a mosque, and the right-wingers are in a frothing, seething, full-on anti-Muslim racist frenzy.
scarf1.jpg
Never mind that Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice ALSO wore headcoverings when visiting mosques, as well as when visiting the Vatican.
22cnd-laura-bush.2.jpg condi.jpg
So here they go: Pelosi Allows Radical Muslim Propaganda Coup,

“The anti-American propaganda this woman has given the very people who want to totally destroy us is immense.”

Here’s a good one,

“Tired of being beheaded, hijacked, kidnapped and terrorized? Try Dhimmitude! It’s 100% submissive and guaranteed to appease the enemies of freedom. Well, temporally anyway. Because that’s all we have to do you know, is just be nice to them. [. . .] The left wants peace at any cost. Terrorism pays.”

Another, with a dose of pure anti-Muslim racism:

“I guess the Muslims will give her props for the head scarf, after all she is playing the role of a good dhimmicrat. Then again, depending on how sensitive the Syrians are feeling, she may of sparked another international “Religion of Peace” murderous rage.”

See also Has speaker Pelosi committed sedition by her visit to the mideast?
Go see the pics and read The Mahablog : Pelosi Wears Scarf; Righties Bark at Moon
And to really understand America’s right, read the 800 comments here.

Bush Forming Religious Police?

Hoo-boy here’s one to worry about. Attorney General launches religious freedom initiative at SBC meeting. (SBC means Southern Baptist Convention.)

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met with Southern Baptist leaders Feb. 20 to unveil a new Department of Justice initiative aimed at educating Americans about their religious liberties and to ask for the Southern Baptist Convention’s help in identifying and reporting abuses of those liberties. [emphasis added]

Great. The government working with the Southern Baptists to identify and report abuses of their religious liberties. And of course, the usual right-wing gibberish accompanies this new campaign,

“Why should it be permissible for an employee standing around the water cooler to declare that ‘Tiger Woods is God,’ but a firing offense for him to say ‘Jesus is Lord’?” he said to vocal affirmation from Executive Committee members. “These are the kinds of contradictions we are trying to address.”

Has anyone, anywhere ever been fired for saying “Jesus is Lord?” Of course not.

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Door-To-Door Athiests Bothering Mormons

Hooray! Go see Door To Door Atheists Bother Mormons

Australian filmmaker John Safran is so fed up with mormons ringing his doorbell early in the morning that he flies to Salt Lake City Utah and tries to convert Mormons to atheism. Needless to say, the locals were not pleased.

“Blessed is the man who goes around banging on epople’s doors at all hours of the morning for he truly is Jesus’s little friend.”