May 10, 2008

Colbert in Space

Stephen goes intergalactic when he makes contact with a Hero floating in space. Enjoy the delayed laughter.

Myanmar Cyclone

Myanmar is finally accepting more aid to help the victims.
This isn't getting nearly the press the 2004 Tsunami did. One article suggested the death toll might even surpass that of the Tsunami.

Every hour of this relief operation is precious to saving lives.
ACT: Please donate to one of the relief organizations.

Climate Change PSA

Al Gore continues to impress me with the leadership and momentum he has provided to fight global warming. If he can bring together Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson, then I think we just might be able to care for creation.
Learn more at http://www.wecansolveit.org/

May 9, 2008

50 Shots: Sean Bell

In November of 2006 Sean Bell was shot and killed by NY detectives.
Recently three police officers who were indicted were acquitted.

Al Sharpton is leading protests calling for justice.
While I understand the need for Obama to distance himself from “angry black men,” his silence at injustice disturbs me.

This excellent video from Max Blumenthal takes us to the streets of Queens, where New Yorkers vent their rage against the Sean Bell verdict.
(Warning: graphic language)

US Planned Torture

ABC News has uncovered that the Whitehouse planned “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture). Video report. (CrooksandLiars)

As always, Jon Stewart reveals American hypocrisy with truth and humor.


On a related note, Amnesty International has just released another video showing American torture.

Puppy Mills

Oprah did a great special about Lisa Ling's investigation of puppy mills.
One of the saddest moments was watching a rescued dog struggle to walk on the floor since it had spent its entire life in a wire cage.

I found this moving and informative video on YouTube.
ACT: Please consider a donation to Main Line Animal Rescue

Loving Your Mugger

NPR recently featured a unique and inspiring story called "A Victim Treats His Mugger Right."

You can read or listen to it here.
(Thanks Jen)

FAA Inspectors

You know your government is screwed up when the very agencies meant to put safety over profit, put profit over safety.

FAA whistleblowers testified to congress that the "agency views the airlines as its "customers" instead of companies to be regulated."

You can learn more in this CNN video report.

SD Hogfarm Protest

"The Yankton Sioux Tribe of Marty, South Dakota is fighting Longview Corporation's construction of a hog facility on non-Indian fee land within the reservation, which will produce over 70,000 pigs annually. In two weeks since April 15th, 38 Tribal members were arrested by state law enforcement while peacefully blocking construction on a BIA road. Most tribal members are opposed to the construction and are unaware of any consultation with the tribe for environmental permits. One Native American was injured when a skid loader rammed into him as he and others blocked the earth moving equipment. Tribal members are protesting at the site seven days a week and report that construction is also still occuring seven days a week, even on Sunday. The people are praying that their attorneys will be successful at seeking an injunction to prevent the further construction of the hog farm." (REZNET)

Healthcare Systems

PBS Frontline had a great show examining different healthcare systems.
While perhaps no system is perfect, it is clear that American can improve.

Watch a preview below and the full show, Sick Around the World here.

MLK Assassination

Watching CNN's special on MLK, "Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination," was saddening and disturbing. America misses you Dr. King.

Did you know that the FBI sent King the note below?

"King, look into your heart. You know, you are a complete fraud and a greater liability to all of us Negroes. White people in this country have enough frauds of their own but I am sure they don’t have one at this time that is anywhere near your equal. You are no clergyman and you know it. I repeat that you are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that….King, like all frauds your end is approaching. You could have been our greatest leader….But you are done. Your honorary degrees, your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done….The American public, the church organizations that have been helping–Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are–an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done.
King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

Film: Jailing Immigrants

Some haunting stories have come out recently about the treatment of detained immigrants. Clouded in secrecy, many immigrants have been caused harm or denied basic care.

"Some non-U.S. citizens detained by the government for violating immigration laws are kept in rat-infested, cramped detention centers, fed noxious food and denied basic hygiene items such as clean socks and underpants." (NPR)
One story from the New York Times is about the death of Boubacar Bah, a tailor from W. Africa. After Mr. Bah overstayed his tourist visa, he was taken into a private immigration detention center. As the result of a possible accident and staff negligence, Mr. Bah died. The details of what happened are very disturbing.

-At 8:00am Mr. Bah collapsed and hit the back of his head on the floor. Intracranial bleeding begins.
-Assuming Mr. Bah was faking his injury, he was written up and put in solitary confinement for yelling and regurgitating on the floor.
-He was locked up all day.
-At 7:10pm a guard noted that “he began to breathe heavily and started foaming slightly at the mouth.”
-The nurse notified by the guard rejected his request to come check on Mr. Bah.
-At 8:00pm it was suggested that Mr. Bah receive a mental health exam in the morning.
-At 10:30pm the nurse noted Mr. Bah’s condition: “unresponsive on the floor incontinent with foamy brown vomitus noted around the mouth.”
-“Just before 11, someone at the jail called 911.
-A few days later Mr Bah died in a hospital.

In Texas some women have been raped at a detention center.

In the midst of all the inhumanity, a film like The Visitor, reminds us that we are not so different and that we all deserve to be treated with respect.

Updates:

Death Penalty
With the Supreme Court ruling allowing lethal injection and Georgia's decision to execute William Lynd, the death penalty is back in motion in America. Nevertheless momentum towards abolition continues.

Zimbabwe
Election officials in Zimbabwe announced that no candidate received 50% of the vote and thus there is not a winner yet. The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has just agreed to a runoff election.

Second Chance Act
President Bush has signed the Second Chance Act, making rehabilitation a central goal of the federal justice system.

Burger King
"Farm worker advocates sought to present more than 80,000 signatures to Burger King officials urging the fast-food giant to...help boost the wages of Florida tomato pickers and improve working conditions in the fields." "During a Senate hearing on the issue earlier this month, lawmakers called for an investigation into Florida tomato picker conditions."

Animals
"Last week, the Colorado legislature passed landmark legislation to phase out gestation crates and veal crates. When Governor Bill Ritter signs the bill -- which he says he'll do -- Colorado will be the fourth state to prohibit gestation crates and the second to prohibit veal crates."

WMC Peace Award
Sister Helen Prejean, spokesperson and advocate against the death penalty has received the 2008 World Methodist Peace Award.

Gen.Conf. Sexuality

I had the privilege of being able to attend the 2008 United Methodist General Conference. One of the major issues discussed was human sexuality. The church’s current stance states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. This position has excluded some persons from marriage and ordination.


While I struggle with these issues, I have found myself increasingly sympathetic to persons excluded from the church and to their claims that God has called and gifted them. When petitions came forward in 04 and 08 to change the language in a way that would allow us to agree to disagree, I was supportive of the change.

The heart of this year’s petition to the Social Principles read as follows, “We know that all are God's children and of sacred worth; yet we have been, and remain, divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality. Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness.”

This petition passed the committee but was killed on the floor as dinner approached and precious time was wasted on amendments. With no debate on the actual petition itself, the minority report, which basically maintained the church’s original position, passed 527 votes to 423.

Again and again in my own experience and in the testimonies of others, journeys towards new perspectives on inclusivity take place within the context of personal relationships. When you do not know a gay person it is much easier to exclude them. But when you become friends with someone whom you see God actively at work in and through the totality of their identity, denying their calling to ministry becomes a bit more difficult.

Eventually I believe we will see changes made in the church. While protests and hermeneutical debates may play a role, I believe people are most commonly and most effectively transformed through encountering the Spirit of God moving in persons whom they might not have chosen. May God’s Spirit guide us.