Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Switzerland

So, for those of you who haven't heard, Switzerland passed a ban on minarets today. Minarets are the towers attached to mosques used to call Muslims to prayer. Oddly enough, these four (yes, four in the whole country) minarets aren't even used for calling people, but for decoration and tradition. There are about 400,000 Muslims in the country, 90% of which are from Turkey or Kosovo - aka they are very liberal on their dress code and do not really wear Muslim specific clothing.

So Switzerland, I have one question for you - why you such a bigot? Why you gotta be a jerk? No real good reason? Oh. Well, you make me sad either way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fort Hood

What has happened in Fort Hood is a terrible thing. There just aren't any words to describe it. I have friends in the military as well as family down near Fort Hood. In fact, my aunt had been to the PDX on base earlier that day.

The first question that seems to have popped up is why? Sadly, many people thought they knew the answer within seconds of hearing the suspect's name.

People who use their bigotry to decide reasons why Major Hasan committed this tragic crime are only adding to the heartache. They should be ashamed of themselves for perpetrating hate crimes on top of the hurt already done all over the country. Within virtual seconds after the suspect's name was released, those who were already talking about the possibility of terrorism had ample ammunition. This is going to be a case where Major Hasan and the bigots in the media and the news have ruined it for not only the families and loved ones of the soldiers but also the Muslim population in the military (and the entire U.S.).

Unfortunately, I fear a backlash against the Muslim population, similar to that which occurred after September 11th. I'm not the only one. We could see it in the first five minutes that the world knew the Major's name... and not just on the internet. In CNN's live coverage of the tragedy, Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room was on. Within a few moments of learning Hasan's name, Wolf Blitzer makes the comment that it is "obviously an Arab name."

Really? Wolf Blitzer, I expected better of you. Comments like that do not come from someone who is unbiased or at least fair about situations such as this. Cultural insensitivity is way beneath you... at least I thought so.

If anyone has been reading for very long, they know that I am very interested in the Middle East and studying Islam from a scholarly point of view. I am especially interested in Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, I am writing my senior capstone right now on Israel/Palestine. I have heard viewpoints related to Hasan's self-identification as Palestinian - that he was carrying out a terrorist attack against the U.S. as a form of revenge for what wrongs continue to be perpetrated against the Palestinian peoples. First off, the man in all likelihood did not commit this act as a terrorist, but as someone whose mental health had degraded severely. Secondly, for the Palestinians to attack the U.S. - one of Israel's greatest allies - would be counterproductive, and I would go so far as to assume that most people understand that. Unfortunately though, people are going to associate Hasan with Palestinians, which will hurt their cause greatly.

I hope that we can move forward as a nation brought together by this tragedy and not as one segregated because of bigotry and stereotypes. My heart goes out to the people who are suffering as a result of this man's actions.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


For the record, I love Rihanna.

She has opened up and talked about her incident with Chris Brown. Go check it out. Here's my favorite part:

"I am strong," Rihanna said in the interview, voice unfaltering. "This happened to me -- I didn't cause this. I didn't do it. This happened to me, and it can happen to anybody."
If you're looking for more on Chris Brown, go here. I actually do go out of my way to avoid him. I don't want him to get any money from me listening to his music.


There is an interview with Neda's family on CNN right now. Here are just a few interesting parts:

The night before she was killed on the streets of Tehran, the woman the world would come to know simply as Neda had a dream. "There was a war going on," she told her mom the next morning, "and I was in the front."

More than four months after Neda's death, her mother, Hajar Rostami, described the pain her family has endured and how grateful they are to millions across the world who have hailed Neda as a martyr -- a symbol of freedom for Iran. She spoke with CNN by phone in her native Farsi from her home in Tehran a few days ago.

"As a message to everyone, I really want to thank the whole world," she said. "And I don't really know how to thank them, so I ask of you: Please find the right words for me.

"I can't tell you how much it has warmed our hearts, how much it's helped us."

Recalling that day, her mother paused in the hourlong interview. The family, she said, has gone back to the scene and retraced Neda's movements.

"She was only 26 steps from her car."

Those were 26 steps Neda never had a chance to take -- the difference between returning home to her family and becoming a symbol of a greater struggle inside Iran.

"But when I returned home, I did see the video," she said. "It was enormously painful. So painful that I've never been able to watch it again all the way through to the end.

"It was the moment of seeing her give her life, the life leaving her body. That was very painful. The look in her eyes at that moment. I wake up with that look in her eyes every morning; I go to bed with the image of that look in her eyes every evening."

It is tradition in Iran to give away personal belongings of a loved one after they die. But Neda's bed, her makeup stand, her photographs -- everything that was hers -- remains untouched.

The reason: Neda appeared in her sister's dream and told her not to part with anything.

"I am alive," Neda said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Good morning world. Today has been, several times throughout history, a time for change... and discrimination. It's always amazing to me to see all of the good and bad things that have happened over the years, especially when we see similar events occurring.

  • Maine repeals same-sex marriage, becoming the 31st state to do so
  • Maine also votes to expand the medical marijuana law
  • Washington is expected to pass Referendum 71, allowing many of the benefits of opposite-sex marriage to same-sex couples
  • Iranian people take to the streets in remembrance of the hostage crises of 1979, chanting "Obama" in an effort to call for help and attention to the voting issues that began over the summer

  • President Barack Obama is elected the first African-American president of the United States of America
  • Michael Crichton dies at age 66
  • Proposition 8 is approved by California voters, overturning a previous ruling that same-sex couples would be able to marry

  • Aaron McKinney, who took part in slaying Matthew Shepard because he was homosexual, is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and promises not to appeal his conviction

  • Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a Jewish extremist in Tel Aviv.

  • Ronald Regan opens his library in Simi Valley

  • Regan wins the presidential race over incumbent Jimmy Carter

  • The Iranian hostage crises begins as as militant storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran

  • Soviet troops move into Hungary in order to crush a revolt

  • Cy Young dies at 88

  • Dwight Eisenhower is elected president

  • The "Cash and Carry" position is taken by the U.S. in World War II, allowing support for France and Britain

  • Wyoming elects the first female governor, Nellie T. Ross 1922 - King Tut's tomb is discovered

  • Grover Cleveland is elected president

  • Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd are married in Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Now, I'm generally against the death penalty... but fucking assholes like this definitely get a vote from me to head to the electric chamber... especially if he ends up having an STD of some sort.

During the sentencing for 26-year-old Jeremy M. Lund, the Wood County victim-witness coordinator read a letter written by the toddler's mother and father. The parents wanted the letter read out loud in court so Lund would have to hear the damage he's caused.

"Make sure that he will never be in a place to harm another child," they wrote.

Wood County Circuit Court Judge Greg Potter sentenced Lund to 40 years in prison with credit for 287 days already served. Lund will serve an additional 20 years on extended supervision.

The sentencing was difficult for the victim's family, who filled the courtroom. Crying could be heard throughout the hearing and at one point, several family members left the courtroom, finding it too difficult to be in Lund's presence and listen to the proceedings.

In their letter, the parents wrote that their 17-month-old daughter had to go through surgery to evaluate the damage done to her.

"We love our daughter, and it rips us apart what happened to her," they wrote.

He ordered Lund to be on GPS monitoring for life, maintain absolute sobriety, maintain full and verifiable employment, undergo alcohol assessment, give a DNA sample and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

(h/t WI Rapids Tribune)