Blogging Is A Crime ?

CopsBlogging is  a crime in certain countries: Burma, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Turkmenistan.

I knew that blogging and certain other online activities were considered criminal but I have to thank my friend George at Bahá’í Views  for posting about the site  Committee to Protect Journalists.

In a recent Special Report, they say:

“Bloggers are at the vanguard of the information revolution and their numbers are expanding rapidly,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “But governments are quickly learning how to turn technology against bloggers by censoring and filtering the Internet, restricting online access and mining personal data. When all else fails, the authorities simply jail a few bloggers to intimidate the rest of the online community into silence or self-censorship.”

I happen to live in the United States and we certainly have issues to deal with in terms of freedom of expression but I would still be a blogger in any of the countries mentioned because I’m sure I would find out about Reporters Without Borders  and their well-documented methods to circumvent repression and restraint against freedom of speech.

Just before I include my Spiritual Quote  for this post, I want to reproduce the pictures from CPJ’s article to add the color of the human dimension to these very black words…

TURKMENISTAN
Turkmen soldiers guard an Internet cafe in Ashgabat. (Reuters)



Sanchez/Cuba
Sánchez’s Generación Y  is among a small but emerging group of independent Cuban blogs. (CPJ)



MYANMAR COMEDIAN BANNED
Zarganar is serving a 59-year prison term. (AP)



EGYPT/BLOGGER
Amer is jailed for insulting the president and Islam. (Reuters)



Spiritual Quote:

16 June 1912
Talk at Central Congregational Church
Hancock Street, Brooklyn, New York

“This is a goodly temple and congregation, for—praise be to God!—this is a house of worship wherein conscientious opinion has free sway. Every religion and every religious aspiration may be freely voiced and expressed here. Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail—that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs—development and growth are inevitable. Therefore, this is a blessed church because its pulpit is open to every religion, the ideals of which may be set forth with openness and freedom. For this reason I am most grateful to the reverend doctor; I find him indeed a servant of the oneness of humanity.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197

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We Really Are One Big Family

RwandaOne of the comments to our last post, from a good friend of mine from Japan, said I was being “timely” in posting about Women, Rights, and Water; then, she left a link for a delightful video which is below.

The video made me review my understanding of the
Millennium Development Goals.

Don’t know what they are?

They’re a huge commitment by lots of people to resolve a host of Our Family’s problems…

Below is a list of the goals and each listing is a link. Check out the one that attracts you most… Then check out the rest so you can tell others about them!
 

MILLENNIUM 
DEVELOPMENT GOALS

 

Spiritual Quote:

“The modern national state came into existence as a unifier of diverse races and peoples. It has been a social truce observed by or enforced upon communities previously separate, independent and hostile. Historically the nation represented a great moral victory, a definite and important stage in human progress. It has raised the condition of the masses of people, substituted constitutional law for the arbitrary authority of the tribe, extended education and knowledge, mitigated the effect of sectarian disputes, and enlarged the social world of the average man. It provided conditions under which natural science could develop, inventions be put into operation, and industrialization give man mastery over nature.

“The new powers and resources made possible by the nation could not be confined within the national boundary but produced an internationalism of cause and effect in social relationships which no nation could control. The national state has reached the limits of its development as an independent, self-directed social body. A world science, a world economy and a world consciousness, riding the wave of a new and universal movement of spiritual evolution, lay the foundations of world order. Conceived of as an end in itself, the national state has come to be a denial of the oneness of mankind, the source of general disruption opposed to the true interests of its people. From the depths of man’s divine endowment stirs response to the affirmation of oneness which gives this age its central impetus and direction. Society is undergoing transformation, to effect a new order based on the wholeness of human relationships.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Baha’i Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

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Women, Rights, and Water

women_waterWomen are important.

Rights are important.

Water is important.

So, why are so many women so challenged when it comes to getting water? (to see some fascinating yet chilling visual evidence, click on “image credit” at the top of this post)

From OneWorld.Net: “Women and girls in developing countries bear significant economic, physical, and health burdens to provide water for their families on a daily basis — ‘this is the forgotten glass ceiling’, write sustainable water experts John Sauer and Andra Tamburro.”

The article goes on to say:

“Women in poor communities across Asia, Africa, and South America typically walk an average of 3 miles a day to fetch water for their households, often from contaminated sources such as rivers, unprotected springs, and shallow wells…The time this takes could be spent instead on income-generating activities, education, and caring for the family. Moreover, the quality of water that women in developing nations must bring home puts people at risk of deadly diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and amoebic dysentery, diarrheal diseases that kill more children under five than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”

Why is this happening?

What can be done about it?

How will worsening climate change affect the situation?

Some of the answers can be found at OneWorld.Net’s Water and Sanitation guide.

The intro to the guide states:

“The achievement of providing 1.6 billion people with access to safe drinking water since 1990 is potentially jeopardised by the absence of matching investment in sanitation. The lack of hygienic facilities experienced by 2.5 billion people is a fundamental cause of disease which leads to 1.5 million deaths of children each year. Climate change uncertainties cast a menacing shadow over the efforts of developing countries to honour their citizens’ rights to safe water and sanitation.”

It continues with these topics (along with many links to further information):

Millennium Development Goals and Water and Sanitation
The Sanitation Deficit
The Benefits of Water and Sanitation
The Right to Water and Sanitation
Water and Sanitation in Global Politics
Local Governance of Water and Sanitation
Water is a Finite Resource
Climate Change and Water

Like most of the problems afflicting humanity, nothing significant will happen to rectify the situation until the people in-charge and the people affected attain some measure of Unity

Spiritual Quote:

“Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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Child Soldiers, Updated

Image Credit
child-soldierIn a recent report from TerraViva-Europe, RIGHTS: RECRUITERS OF CHILD SOLDIERS DEFY UN PRESSURE, I found this statement about attempts to eradicate the use of child soldiers:

“Asked how the United Nations could remedy the situation, or rein in non-state armed groups, Joost R. Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group told IPS there is ‘no easy answer’ to the question.

“‘I doubt the United Nations could do anything about it other than highlighting the issue and reinforcing the ban on the use of children in conflict, especially for such nefarious purposes,’ he said, referring specifically to suicide bombers in Iraq.”

That report made me have  to revise and reprint this post from February 4th:

Imagine  a child deciding to join an army because it’s the only choice that will assure food every day…

Imagine  a male child being abducted to fight a war or a female child being abducted to be a sex slave for the male child-soldiers…

Now, Imagine  more than 300,000 such children…

This is an extremely sobering fact about our human family.

In 1959, 50 years ago, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations published a Declaration of the Rights of the Child  and yet, today,  we can read in a report from the U. S. Department of State:

“Some children have been forced to commit atrocities against their families and communities. Child soldiers are often killed or wounded, with survivors often suffering multiple traumas and psychological scarring. Their personal development is often irreparably damaged. Returning child soldiers are often rejected by their home communities.”

Imagine  a country in which “…shooting video, owning a video, speaking in a video, sharing a video, or even shouting out in glee after watching television, can earn you years in jail.”

That country is Burma…

Imagine  a web site that uses video to not only bring international crimes to the public’s attention but is noted for having its videos become central to the arrest of a warlord in Africa that is alleged to have used child soldiers in his conflicts.

That site is The Hub, “The global platform for human rights media and action: See It – Film It – Change It.”

That warlord is Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and his trial is the first for the International Criminal Court, “… the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.”

You can follow the trial at The Lubanga Trial at the International Criminal Court.

Often, in my scanning the news for current issues and crises of our global human family, I’m totally devastated by what I find…

This is one of those occasions………

All I can add to this report is:

A Spiritual Quote:

“O Thou kind Lord! These lovely children are the handiwork of the fingers of Thy might and the wondrous signs of Thy greatness. O God! Protect these children, graciously assist them to be educated and enable them to render service to the world of humanity. O God! These children are pearls, cause them to be nurtured within the shell of Thy loving-kindness.

“Thou art the Bountiful, the All-Loving.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 34

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What Will You Rebel For ?

bita haidarianIf three times is a charm, what’s four times?

A done deal?

I’ve posted about Bita Haidarian and her upcoming film, Finding Bibi, three times so far (check out the links for two trailers of the film !):

For this fourth post, since the Movement that’s evolving around the film is reaching a peak of excitement, I’ll publish the latest press release:

Finding Bibi
Austin, TX
New York, NY
www.FindingBibi.com
Founded by Bita Haidarian in 2009
Contact: Todd Brogan (todd@findingbibi.com), Head of Creative Expansion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 30, 2009

FILMMAKER’S FANS MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD

Voters to Decide New Organization’s First Project

Iranian-American documentary filmmaker Bita Haidarian, whose work has been described as “the best hope for film and politics in Australia,” launched a groundbreaking organization in March, and her democratic approach is already bearing fruit.

More than 200 fans voted in round one to decide the organization’s first-ever project. The three winning submissions vary widely, though all share the stories of women striving for empowerment. One idea suggests providing cameras to individuals participating in empowerment programs, which they would use to create short films on topics of their choice. Another idea proposes that Finding Bibi organize “hijab flashmobs” as a show of solidarity with women discriminated against for wearing head coverings. The final proposal would have Finding Bibi recruiting young women and girls to become journalists, reporting on the status of women in their region and having those reports carried on major networks.

Haidarian and her volunteer staff closed the site to new submissions and reviewed the top three ideas. This morning, they submitted the proposals (with notes added) to fans for one last round of voting. The polls will close in two weeks, at which point Haidarian will announce the winning project and her plans for making it a reality. Fans can vote by visiting FindingBibi.com and clicking ‘Discuss’.

The project contest and the organization were announced in March, both rooted in the spirit of Haidarian’s upcoming film Finding Bibi, which follows her on a journey of self discovery and in search of a “great female story.” Haidarian, the daughter of Baha’i religious refugees from Iran, gave her fans a deciding voice in the new initiative from the start. Fans submitted 20 ideas using the ranking site Slinkset, similar to applications used in social bookmarking sites like Digg. They were then able to vote for or against each other’s ideas.

“We are inspired by so many of the ideas that were submitted, and we’re especially pleased with those that won the first round,” said Haidarian. “We’re hoping for more votes in the final round, and looking forward to input from an even more diverse crowd.” The website, FindingBibi.com, also features updates on the film and its most recent trailer, as well as regular blog posts on the constantly innovating organization. The film is slated for completion late this year.

### If you would like more information about Finding Bibi the film or organization, please direct all questions to Todd Brogan at todd@findingbibi.com.

Spiritual Quote:

“That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature and makes possible their complementary roles in certain areas of the life of society; but it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that in this Dispensation ‘Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced’.”
The Universal House of Justice, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 7

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