Posted tagged ‘Human Rights’

Philadelphia Swim Club Invites Minority Kids Back

July 12, 2009

A gesture of goodwill? A Philadelphia swim club has invited children from a largely minority day-care center to come back after allegations of racism against the club.

From CNN:

The development came during a hastily called Sunday afternoon meeting of the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. Club members voted overwhelmingly to try to work things out with the day-care center, which accused some swim club members of making racist comments to black and Hispanic children contracted to use the pool, said Bernice Duesler, the club director’s wife.

Duesler said the club canceled its contract with the Creative Steps day-care because of safety, crowding and noise concerns, not racism.

“As long as we can work out safety issues, we’d like to have them back,” she told CNN.

She said the club has been subpoenaed by the state Human Rights Commission, which has begun a fact-finding investigation, “and the legal advice was to try to get together with these camps, ” Duesler added.

Alethea Wright, Creative Steps’ director, said, “They should have done that before.”

Wright has repeatedly lambasted the club for its tepid response to the charges and said the children in her care were “emotionally damaged” by the incident.

“These children are scarred. How can I take those children back there?” she said.

Report Alleges Israel Used Boy as a Human Shield

March 23, 2009

According to a UN report, Israeli soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

From the Associated Press:

The Israeli Defense force ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the U.N. secretary-general’s envoy for protecting children in armed conflict.

Radhika Coomaraswamy said the incident on Jan. 15, after Israeli tanks had rolled into the neighborhood, was a violation of Israeli and international law.

It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said.

Coomaraswamy accused Israeli soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.

Pope: Church Must Protect Gender Rights

December 23, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to homosexual behavior and warned that humanity could destroy itself. Wow, I didn’t realize that it was this serious!!!

From CNN:

The pope’s year-end message to Church leaders sparked anger among gay and lesbian religious groups.

The Church “demands that the order of creation be respected,” the pope said Monday, defining “the nature of the human being as man and woman,” according to excerpts released by the Vatican.

Part of the Church’s mission is to “protect the human beings against self-destruction,” the Pope said in his annual address to the cardinals, archbishops and others who make up the Roman Curia.

The Church has as much responsibility to preserve what it sees as man and woman’s God-given roles as it does to protect endangered species, he implied.

“The rain forest deserves, yes, our protection,” Benedict said, “But mankind does not deserve it less as a creature.”

He did not specifically mention homosexuality in his speech, but his meaning was clear, and gay rights activists criticized the remarks.

“I think the pope is trying to limit God’s world view and stands in grave error by doing so,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, which campaigns for openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics to be accepted fully by the church.

“Gay, lesbian, bixsexual and transgendered people represent part of God’s creativity, which is beyond any human understanding, including the pope’s,” she said. “I would challenge the pope to show a little more humility.”

She said it was particularly unfortunate that he made the remarks just days before Christmas, but described them as “so in line with other statements from this pope, it’s not really atypical.”

A papal spokesman issued a clarification after gay rights campaigners responded angrily to the remarks.

“The pope had no intention to offend or attack transgendered” people, Father Federico Lombari said Tuesday. “What the pope meant to say was that in God’s eyes, a person is born either man or woman. And to deny this fundamental concept, central to Catholic teaching, is to create confusion.

“If you forget that … people are born either men or women and together are meant to create children, then you can create negative consequences.”

The Catholic Church considers homosexual intercourse to be a sin — as it does all sex outside of marriage — but does not consider homosexuality itself to be one.

“Homogenital behavior is objectively immoral, while making the important distinction between this behavior and a homosexual orientation, which is not immoral in itself,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has said.

Barack Obama to Close Guantanamo Bay Prison?

November 12, 2008

It seems that this will be a priority for the Obama Administration. Barack Obama plans to launch a review of the classified files of the approximately 250 detainees at Guantanamo Bay immediately after taking office, as part of an intensive effort to close the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to people who advised the campaign on detainee issues.

From the Washington Post:

Announcing the closure of the controversial detention facility would be among the most potent signals the incoming administration could send of its sharp break with the Bush era, according to the advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the president-elect. They believe the move would create a global wave of diplomatic and popular goodwill that could accelerate the transfer of some detainees to other countries.

But the advisers, as well as outside national security and legal experts, said the new administration will face a thicket of legal, diplomatic, political and logistical challenges to closing the prison and prosecuting the most serious offenders in the United States — an effort that could take many months or longer. Among the thorniest issues will be how to build effective cases without using evidence obtained by torture, an issue that attorneys for the detainees will almost certainly seek to exploit.

Uncounted Votes Not Likely To Reverse Proposition 8 Vote

November 9, 2008

It doesn’t appear that the final votes which have yet to be counted will have an effect on the outcome of the vote on California’s Proposition 8 which would ban same-sex marriage.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Roughly 2.7 million ballots from Tuesday’s election remained to be counted statewide as of late Friday, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

The complete, county-by-county list is available on the secretary of state’s website. Last week, Times reporters contacted the state’s largest counties and reported that at least 1.7 million ballots remained outstanding. Since then, several of the counties, including Los Angeles, have increased their estimates. L.A. officials reported to the secretary of state that they had more than 615,000 ballots yet to count.

Where do all those ballots come from, and why does counting them take so long?

Statewide, about 1.9 million were mail-in ballots that were received too late to be counted on Tuesday. Those ballots can be processed relatively quickly.

But 728,000 were provisional ballots, generally cast by people whose names did not show up on their precincts’ registration lists. Those ballots need to be processed by hand, with officials checking to see if the person who voted was entitled to do so.

Then there is another group of at least 146,000 ballots that were damaged or for some reason could not be read by optical scanners. Those also have to be handled individually.

With all those ballots outstanding, how can news organizations, including The Times, be confident about calling the results of elections? The answer is a matter of odds.

Take Proposition 8 as an example. As of Saturday morning, the secretary of state reported 5,661,583 votes in favor and 5,154,457 opposed, for a margin of just more than half a million votes. In order to reverse that result, opponents of the measure would have to win just more than 59% of the uncounted ballots. So far, however, opponents have won 47.6% of the vote. The odds are strongly against the uncounted ballots being so dramatically different from the ones counted.

By comparison, Proposition 11, the redistricting initiative backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a 133,952-vote margin of victory so far.

Opponents would have to win about 52% of the remaining vote to turn around the result — still a high hurdle but perhaps achievable. For that reason, The Times has not declared a winner in that race.