Escaping Jail to Land in Prison

12 Apr

The revolution in Tunisia this past year began a series of uprisings throughout the Arab World. Egypt overthrew their dictator, who was in power for 30 years. Hosni Mubarak fled the country, when the Egyptian military changed sides to fight against the government, with the Egyptian people. In the midst and commotion of celebration, the Egyptian Military took charge of the nation, until a democratic government is established. This establishment may take three months, six months, or even a year.

Update on Egypt

Since Mubarak’s regime has ended, the Egyptians believed his oppressive rules and regulations would also end. That is until a blogger was sentenced to three years in prison for critisizing the Military. The deputy Middle East director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch organization (HRW), Joe Stork, says that the last time such an oppressive action taken against the Egyptian public was in 2007 when Mubarak had sentenced a blogger to four years in prison for voicing his opinion; that happened to be against Mubarak’s Regime.  It is far too soon to predict the future of Egypt, but the Military’s view points are quite similar to that of the ex-president’s.

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The World’s Greenest Countries and Cities

12 Apr

The environmental movement is sweeping across not only the United States, but in almost every part of the world. Finding ways to live more sustainably, use less fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, crude oil),  find renewable sources of energy, and recycling are all part of environmentalism or “going green”.

In efforts to live more sustainably and save or protect the earth, various countries and cities all over the world are taking huge steps in going green. Whether it was the scare of global warming, the reality that we will run out of fossil fuels one day, or just choosing to be better citizens of the earth, theses places have decided that change is needed in order to save our planet.

Countries:

Sweden – This country plans to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2020. When cutting down trees is needed, the government makes sure that every part of the tree is used including the sawdust, which is made into wood pellets and used to generate heat in homes. Many people in Sweden are now also using methane, which comes from the entrails of cows, to power their cars.

Costa Rica – This country hopes to become carbon neutral by 2021 and is working on reforestation and planted five million trees in 2008.

Iceland – This country is focusing on using its geothermal landscape to utilize clean heat and electricity. Hydrogen has become the most common source of energy used for heat and electricity and Iceland hopes to soon use only Hydrogen as their energy source instead of fossil fuels.

France – President, Nicolas Sarkozy plans to renovate all existing buildings to conserve energy, reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% in 2020, increase the renewable energy rate from 9% to 20-25%, and increase organic farming. France currently gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power, and France offers a reduction in taxes if a homeowner uses solar energy.

Cities:

Reykjavik, Iceland – Ninety-five percent of the buildings in this city are powered by geothermal energy, which is coming out of the bay in Reykjavik. The city also hopes to completely  stop the use of all fossil fuels by 2050.

Curitiba, Brazil – Students are taught at a young age to be green citizens, and citizens use sheep to cut lawns instead of energy absorbing lawn mowers. One-quarter of Curitiba’s residents use buses and boats to travel which greatly reduces pollution, and over 70% of the cities garbage in recycled in plants.

Bend, Oregon – Provides some of the nation’s cleanest drinking water from Bridge Creek, and Bend is home to the Birkenstock shoe company that makes shoes that are completely rebuildable. Bend also benefits from statewide environment programs like the Oregon Governor’s Fund for Environment, which awards grants to cities to help them become caretakers of their natural resources.

 


A Random Post for a Not So Random Controversy

12 Apr

As  proposed by the Republicans, the government came close to shutting down this past week because of an effort to de-fund Title X and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

  • Title X funds preventative care and family planning: contraceptives, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD and STI testing, etc, and provides them on a sliding fee scale (an estimate on how much the recipient of the treatment can afford against how much funding is received by the government).

Aside from the de-funding it will be unable to be accessed by places which provide abortion.  The secret agenda of the de-funding is to eliminate the opportunity for a woman to receive an abortion on a sliding fee scale.  However, since the 1970s, according to the Hyde Amendment, government money can not and does not fund abortion and, thus, suggests that this entire debate over Title X is solely to destroy a woman’s right to an abortion.  This theory is also suggested by the rider bill known as the Pence Amendment which eliminates a woman’s right to access private health care that cover’s abortion in addition to receiving in abortion in a safe place, since the amendment removes the right for any clinic, hospital, or private facility to do the procedure.  Additionally, a woman will need to disclose to the IRS if she has received an abortion and how and why she received this procedure (so much for privacy, huh?). A statement made by Chris Pence, in response to why Planned Parenthood doesn’t deserve funding since only 3%, nationally, of their services are abortion and nearly 10% of their facilities provide abortions, he said “If they want funding, they should just stop giving abortions.”  Again, completely standing by the theory of the secret agenda to completely destroy a woman’s right to a safe abortion and a healthy reproductive life.

Aren’t you glad instead of creating jobs the government is destroying women’s rights instead? Total step back in the world.

Fighting Oppression with Music

12 Apr

Lawrence Duncan said, “Silence is the fabric upon which the notes are woven.”  Duncan suggests, that silence is the inspiration that propels the creation of music.  Literally, the structure of silence encourages the formation of silence’s demise.  Similarly, artists have used their music to speak out against different social/civil issues, or end the “silence” on such atrocities.  Such artists span different generations, genres and locations; but all use music as a means to end the injustices.

 One of the biggest atrocities that plague European and American History is slavery.  Bob Marley, a Jamaican born reggae singer, co-wrote a song entitled Buffalo Soldier that attests to this time in history.

The song depicts the slaves who were taken from Africa and unwillingly brought to the States.  Lyrics such as “he was a buffalo soldier win the war for America, ” highlights the US’ first regiment of black soldiers.  During the Indian Wars these soldiers oversaw the migration of the Native Americans to the west.  The natives, who linked their strength and valour to that of a buffalo, endearingly gave them the name “Buffalo Soldiers”.   Marley uses this song to paint the soldier’s trying past in slavery and their progression as soldiers of the United States of America.      

Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, the United States would be scarred by segregation for over a century following.  During this large time frame different artists touched on particular aspects of the situation.  For instance, Billie Holiday: a jazz singer from the mid 1900’s sang a song entitled Strange Fruit.  Holiday’s song begins: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit/ blood on the leaves and blood at the root” paints a dark image of a “crop” that hung frequently during her time.  Holiday compares lynched bodies to strange fruits, which, depicts a disturbing and eerie time in a telling way.  With this comparison, Holiday destroys the good notions of a fruit and reveals sensory details of a lynching.  

Another amazing artist of the mid 1900’s: Sam Cooke, sung a soulful version of the song: A Change is Gonna Come.  Though the words of this song are motivational and telling, the power of his message resides in how he sings the song.  The first line of the song: “I was born by the river” does not hold any overall meaning, however, the voice that starts the song tells the audience that this song is the essence of his passions and struggles.  Immediately his voice equips you for a strong plea for something to change.  Lyrics such as “Then I go to my brother/ and I say ‘brother, help me please’/ and he winds up knocking me/ and I’m back down on my knees,” reveals the hardship of his life but still expresses the notion that we are all brothers and not enemies.  Throughout the song, he expresses the obstacles he faces but always reiterates, “I know a change is gonna come”, therefore portraying evident difficult times, but installing hope in his audience to make the change come. 

Another song from this era the Hollies’ He’s not heavy he’s my brother conveys the same plea for equality.  Unlike Sam Cooke, the Hollies presented the perspective of the Caucasian group who believe in equality.  The title conveys African Americans as their “brothers” which creates an equal and intimate relationship.  In addition lyrics such as: “If I’m laden at all/I’m laden with sadness/That everyone’s heart/Isn’t filled with the gladness/Of love for one another” is a direct attack at oppressors.  The words suggest that their fellow men are not a burden and those who think otherwise are the only problem in this situation. 

In the U.S. songs were written to fight the suppression of one group by another.  However, the Tradewinds’ Not A Blade of Grass and Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen are two songs that attest to the struggles of one nation against another.  The Tradewinds is a calypso group who wrote a song about the Venezuela/Guyana issue.  Venezuela, a neighbouring country to Guyana, continuously argues that the Essequibo region of Guyana belongs to them.  The Tradewinds song presents the patriotic notions of Guyanese people that we will not allow Venezuela to take any of our land not even “a blade of grass”.  In other words, the Guyanese groups used their local calypso music to express their feelings on the situation and send a message to the Venezuelan government. Similarily, the Sex Pistol an Irish punk rock group’s God Save the Queen is an attack on the British monarchy and their customs.  The Irish often suppressed by the English, inspired many punk bands at this time to reject the British institution.  They used the same title as the British national anthem but a different tune and words to convey their thoughts. Using the same title as the British national anthem is a direct attack on the monarchy. All of these artists had different messages to get across however, they they all used the medium of music to ensure they are heard. Their ambition and lyrics help initiate change and shape a less oppressed atmosphere.

Recent Japanese Disasters Remind Us That Mother Nature’s A Bitch

11 Apr

The past few years have brought about a plethora of natural disasters throughout the globe. Within the past few years natural disasters around the globe have been more apparent then ever. Hurricane Katrina, disasters in Haiti, and most recently tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan have reminded us that Mother Nature has not been very kind to the Earth recently. However, while these disasters momentarily force charities, news networks around the world, and people to offer their support for the people of a country that has just been destroyed by a natural disaster, after a few weeks or months are attentions are focused away. In the modern era, where nuclear problems such as those happening in Japan now, instead of focusing our attention on a country that has been decimated by natural disasters, wouldn’t it be better to focus our attention on fixing the Earth we have destroyed to avoid more natural disasters in the future? With Earth Day just around the corner the news and people around the world should focus on recycling and cleaning the environment to prevent future disasters instead of being shocked and distraught when these disasters do occur.

Recent Events have left town’s battered by events such as the tsunami in Japan.

And other events have hit closer to home like Hurricane Katrina a few years earlier.

While breaking news about natural disasters appear horrible at the time, in a modern era now nuclear problems also emerge. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703841904576256742249147126.html

So as the news and people will continue to talk about Japan and raise money, who is to blame for these recent natural disasters. Is Mother Nature really a bitch or do people just need to pay more attention to the changing world and focus more on protecting our environment?

This recent post by another word press user claims that Mother Nature and Earth hates us. http://dearapolo.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/mother-natureearth-hates-us/

Others think that disturbing facts about global warming still remain and that our past damages to the environment are what are to blame for recent natural disasters.

With global warming looming always looming in today’s society, natural disasters are frequently happening. Many people now choose where to live based on the threat of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Diseases, like many other problems in the world can be treated. However, natural disasters are unpredictable and mostly unpreventable proving once and for all that Mother Nature is indeed a bitch.

Do They Still Call For ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’?: France Bans the Public Use of Full-Face Veils

11 Apr

As if revolutions, revolts, and natural disasters weren’t enough, France has put into effect the ban on Full-Face Veils in public. The new law, which was approved last year, has been controversial since the onset. Two fully veiled women, who were involved in protests, have already been detained even though the law was put into effect today. The law was approved on Thursday, October 7, 2010 by France’s top legal authority, The Constitutional Council. It was deemed constitutional but could not be applied in places of worship as a result of freedom of religion.

The law sets fines of up to $215 for women who cover their faces   and criminal penalties and fines of up to $42,000 for those who force women to wear the full-face veils. The fines increase if the person forced to wear the veil is a minor. It has not yet been made clear how the law will be enforced seeing as police officers are not allowed to remove the veils from women’s faces. The law also does not apply in private vehicles. As stated in a guide to the Police, officers are able to take anyone who refuses to lift the veil to the police station where they will then be threatened with fines.

Some have claimed that the law is the government’s way of stigmatizing France’s of 5 million Muslims.  Claims have been made that President Sarkozy is attempting to win back votes ahead of next year’s Presidential elections by deliberating placing a stigma on  Muslim women and targeting an already vulnerable minority group. The French government ardently denies these claims, saying instead that the full-face veil is a sign of male oppression.

France is the first European nation to pass the law, while Belgium has proposed but has not yet enforced the law. In the Netherlands, a similar law has been proposed by far-right leaders.

Go!

22 Feb

Eighty-two year old, Ex-President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was in power for thirty years until a couple of weeks ago when he was overthrown by his people. According to this picture, Mubarak is put on a pedestal next to the pharaohs of Egypt; by whom? Not by the protesters of the recent revolution that took place in Egypt.

Here is what an ordinary citizen of Egypt had to say, during the revolution, about the soon-to-be Ex-President and former government of his country:

“You have closed all doors to peaceful change.Our message today consists of one word: go

On February 9th, 2011 the Revolution in Egypt enters it’s 17th day. The bright lights that resemble currents of electricity passing through a circuit are candles, which the Egyptian people are taking around a military tank in Egypt to honor the pro-democracy protestors who lost their lives in the process of overthrowing Mubarak. Just two days after the vigil, the ex-president resigns. Go, Egypt Go! you’ve done it!

When Vice-President, Omar Suleiman announces the resignation from office of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian people crowd into Tahrir Square to celebrate their victory. After thirty years of resisting a dictatorship, the Egyptian people finally breathe a sigh of relief. Protestors express their joy by kissing the Egyptian soldiers, falling to their knees in tears and firing fireworks into the liberated Egyptian air. They have found the power of freedom and vow to never let it go.

“Now Egyptians are free. All of Egypt is liberated. Now we will choose our leaders, and if we don’t like them, they will go.”

Jar Stand Quail Chick

MUBARAK

Meaning: Congratulations