Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Significant Human Rights Instruments

On Friday April 23, 2010, I received a question from Migrant Tales: besides the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), what are the other significant human rights instruments? Before I answer the question, permit me to shed some light on the UDHR.

Following the Second World War and outrageous human rights violations that shocked mankind, such as the state-sponsored extermination of Jews by Nazi-Germany (holocaust), the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UDHR on December 1948. The Declaration was adopted partly in a bid to limit states violations of the inalienable rights of individuals. It is worth noting that the UDHR is merely a declaration, hence it is not legally binding on states. In a bid to make the rights laid down in the UDHR binding, other significant human rights instruments (conventions), which are legally binding on all states that ratify them, were adopted. The question at this point is - what are the other significant human rights instruments?

Besides the UDHR, other significant human rights instruments include the following:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also adopted a couple of significant human rights instruments, including:
Significant regional human rights instruments include.
No doubt - the 1949 Geneva Conventions are also significant human rights instruments.

While it is true that the above list of human rights instruments is far from being exhaustive - it is also true that the list contains the significant human rights instruments that are often invoked.

* I hope my [cyberspace] friend - columnist and blogger at Migrant Tales can "push" Finland to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Follow his blog - Migrant Tales.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Men jailed for Rabbit Torture in Sweden

On Friday 23 April 2010, a court in Sweden was at work - four men were on trial for torturing two rabbits a year ago in Södertörn - a peninsula in southern Stockholm. Three of the four men were jailed for animal cruelty and one of them was slammed with a fine.

During the trial, the Södertörn district court was packed with animal rights activists and protesters. According to The Local, the trial was interrupted - as the police were ordered to eject the angry animal rights activists from the courtroom.

What happened to the rabbits?

One of the rabbits was burnt alive while the other was kicked to death. It is worth mentioning that the incident was caught on video - the men fastened both hind legs of one of the rabbits with tape, poured inflammable liquid on the rabbit and set it ablaze. As if this was not enough, the men laughed as the animal struggled to death.

No doubt, the men involved demonstrated unspeakable cruelty against the defenseless animals and the decision of the Södertörn district court - to serve three of the men involved with three to four months in prison, and to fine the fourth man - is justified.

However, this decision comes only a month after Amnesty International took Sweden to task for impunity for sex offenders in the Scandinavian country. Amnesty International criticized Sweden for failing to protect women from rape and other forms of violence.

Are animals more protected from violence than women in Sweden?

It is interesting to note that the Swedish media frenzy and anger that followed the rabbit torture case was enormous. Many people called for the men to be identified and made threats against them, while men who violate women go unnoticed and sometimes hailed like "champions" by their communities - as was the case in Bjästa, a small town in northern Sweden.

Last month in Bjästa, a girl was raped at her school. Unfortunately, she was unable to win unprecedented support and courtroom demonstrations like the rabbits! When she reported the rape incident to the authorities, what she got was rejection - the 14-year-old girl was rejected by the small Swedish community in which she lived.

Drawing from the analysis - are animal rights organizations stronger and more organized than women's rights organizations in Sweden? Better still, are animal rights more important than women's rights in Sweden?

If both rights are equally important - why was the little girl at Bjästa let down by her community? Assuming the rabbits were tortured in Bjästa - what would have been the response from the same community?

I would like to hear from you!

Help Human Rights Watch Win Webby Award!

Last month, I wrote about the alarming rate of maternal deaths in the U.S. and I'm thrilled to note that a video by Human Rights Watch, which brings to light the dangers of maternal deaths in India, has been nominated for the 14th Annual Webby Award - Best Documentary: Individual Episode. The video - "In Silence: Maternal Mortality in India", tells the story of an Indian woman, Kiran Yadav, who died in childbirth.

What is the Webby Award?

The Webby Award celebrates excellence, innovation and creativity on the internet and it has been dubbed the "internet's highest honor" by New York Times. It is worth mentioning that thousands of videos and websites are submitted to win the award and it is an honor to have a video, which highlights a fundamental human right, nominated for "Web Supremacy".

Below is the video that was nominated for the Webby Award:

Are you passionate about human rights? Should women die from preventable causes?

Make your voice heard by helping Human Rights Watch win the Webby Award - this will go a long way to raise awareness about maternal deaths in India - where, according to Human Rights Watch, more than 60,000 pregnancies end up in death.

You can help Human Rights Watch by doing two things:

1) Register HERE
2) Vote for "In Silence: Maternal Mortality in India."

Make a difference, by following the two simple steps above.

Cast your vote before 29 April, 2010.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Itella and the Right to Privacy in Finland

The right to privacy is a fundamental human right enshrined in democratic Constitutions and in numerous international human rights standards. Many democratic states therefore are legally bound to guarantee this right for every individual within their borders, but Finland apparently disagrees! This is the case because Itella - a state-owned mail company in Finland has started opening, scanning and distributing letters electronically. Is this a violation of the right to privacy?

Section 10 of the Constitution of Finland guarantees the right to "secrecy of correspondence, telephony and other confidential communications" (unofficial translation). Although the company in question - Itella claims the staff in charge of opening letters are "bound to secrecy" and would not read the letters, the move is a significant threat to the Constitutional right to privacy in Finland.

On the international stage, Finland is party to international Covenants, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), that oblige state parties to ensure that every individual enjoys the right to privacy. Article 8 of the ECHR - ratified by Finland on 10 May, 1990, explicitly provides for the right to privacy! Article 8(2) of the Convention states that:
"There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. "

Is this scheme by Itella in accordance with the law?

You might argue that the scheme is in accordance with the law because the workers in charge of opening and scanning letters are bound to secrecy and not allowed to read the letters. This is a valid argument, but is the opening of letters necessary in a democratic society?

Considering the fact that after opening, scanning and distributing the letters electronically, the physical letters will still be placed in envelopes and delivered normally to the receiver's address, it's my [legal] opinion that the scheme is not "necessary in a democratic society", hence a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.

What's your opinion on the matter? Is there a violation of the right to privacy?

Would you like Itella - a state-owned company to open your letters?

It is worth mentioning that this unconstitutional process, according to Itella, is a trial of future mail delivery methods. It is already underway in Anttila, a village close to Finland's capital - Helsinki. The company plans to extend the process to other areas, if it proves to be successful.

Human rights advocates - including me, will be concerned if this move erodes the right to privacy in Finland.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Citizenship for 1972 Burundian Refugees!

As far back as 1972, many Burundians - men, women and children, fled their homes in Burundi to seek refuge in neighboring Tanzania. The refugees were fleeing from a civil war marked by ethnic mass-killings, that left an estimated 200,000 people dead. Upon arrival in Tanzania, they were settled in three settlements in western Tanzania - Katumba, Nishamo and Ulyankulu. Tens of thousands of refugees - dubbed "1972 Burundian refugees", have inhabited these settlements since 1972. On April 15, 2010, Tanzania's Home Affairs Minister announced that the government of Tanzania have naturalized and granted citizenship to 162,000 "1972 Burundian refugees".

This is a landmark decision and a milestone in the global effort to protect refugees! According to the UN Refugee Agency, Tanzania is the first country to naturalise, in a single move, such a large number of refugees protected by the agency. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - António Guterres welcomed the decision and expressed "deep gratitude and appreciation" to the government of Tanzania. He called on other nations with refugee populations to make a move in the same direction.

No individual should permanently bear a refugee status!

The naturalization process of the "1972 Burundi refugees" started in 2008 (36 years after the refugees left their homeland) and comes in the wake of moves by the Tanzanian and Burundian governments to shut down the three refugee settlements of Katumba, Nishamo and Ulyankulu, and provide the long-standing refugees with opportunities of becoming Tanzanian citizens or returning to Burundi to take part in the "reconstruction of the country".

It is worth mentioning that about 53,600 Burundian refugees in Tanzania decided to return to Burundi, while the majority (80%) would like to remain in Tanzania. This is understood because many of the refugees were born and raised in Tanzania. Consequently, many have little or no ties to Burundi.

The new citizens of Tanzania will now live among the general population and enjoy the full rights of citizenship. The government of Tanzania has a firm commitment to integrate the new citizens into mainstream society.

According to IRIN - a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Tanzania hosts about 110,000 refugees from Burundi and 96,000 refugees from the D.R. Congo, in UNHCR camps.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Immigrant Advice Phone Line in Finland

It is no secret that many immigrants in Finland are in limbo - cutoff from day to day activities that make life more fulfilling and dignifying. Some argue that immigrants exclude themselves from the society by not learning the local language and clinging to their own cultures; Others argues that immigrants are segregated by racism and xenophobia in the Nordic country. Irrespective of the causes of exclusion of this vulnerable group, you would agree that Finland is taking some baby steps towards integrating immigrants. The recent launching of an immigrant advice phone line in Finland elucidates this assertion.

Upon arrival in Finland, immigrants and students find themselves in limbo for years. Given the fact that Finns are shy and not so friendly, many (immigrants) don't know where to turn to for basic information. Many rely on information provided by other immigrants. The obvious metaphorical question is - can the blind lead the blind?

I vividly remember my arrival for studies in the northern city of Rovaniemi in the Winter of 2006. The weather was totally unforgiving - with subzero temperatures and unprecedented snow. It got dark outside at 2:30pm - totally depressing for a student from a land where the sun always shines. As if this was not enough, I didn't have access to basic information - I could not find a post office or bank; I didn't have any emergency phone number; no information about public transportation - so I found myself biking in the snow. Above all, I didn't even know I had to register at the Local Register Office (Maistraatti); and guess what - I was an international student!

This is the story of the many international students and immigrants who arrive Finland every year. They end up spending years, trying to figure out things themselves because they know in Finland, they have only two options: sink or swim!

Looking back now, many questions linger in my mind - if an international student cannot have access the basic information he needs upon arrival in a country for studies, what about someone seeking protection from the State? Should immigrants completely rely on information provided by fellow immigrants?

Luckily, things are beginning to change. The Family Federation of Finland, a social and health sector organisation focusing on families, now runs a multilingual phone line, aimed at advising immigrants.

Immigrants can now dial a phone number and have all their questions answered. The service provides advice in English, Arabic, Russian, French and Finnish. This is good news for immigrants because they can now have their questions answered in a language they understand and by someone they can relate to. If a question cannot be answered, the operators do not hang up - they redirect the caller to the appropriate quarters. Immigrants can ask just about any question - about permits, work, housing, you name it.

Find details about the [long-awaited] service that provides answers to questions an immigrant in Finland might have - in a language other than Finnish, below:

Advice Line: 0207 401 160
Tuesday to Friday
10AM to 3PM (Services in English, Arabic French, English)
12pm to 3PM (Services in Russian)



No doubt, the multilingual immigrant advice phone line in Finland is a blow to the language barrier that shuts out many immigrants, and a major step towards the integration of the many immigrants in limbo. However, a lot more needs to be done.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free HIV Tests for Immigrants in Finland

The Finnish AIDS Council offered free HIV tests for immigrants and foreigners in Oulu and Helsinki, Finland on Monday April 12, 2010. The tests were anonymous and no prior time-booking was required - this means you could just walk into one of the Council's facilities and get tested. Results were available in 15 minutes. No doubt, free HIV tests for immigrants is good news! But, one question remains unanswered - why was the HIV testing explicitly reserved for immigrants?

In Finland, according to Helsinki Times - there are about 500 to 1,000 people infected with HIV, but are unaware of the infection. Mindful of the fact that the later the diagnosis, the less effective the treatment, HIV testing should be a matter of urgency! Common sense tells you that it is important for you to know your HIV status, so that you can commence treatment as soon as possible - if you are infected.

Correct me if I am wrong - every individual is vulnerable to HIV; not just immigrants. Limiting free HIV tests to immigrants and foreigners in Finland somehow sends across a different message. Are immigrants more vulnerable? Why should the Council target a particular group for HIV testing?

Has every Finnish citizen already been tested?

According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare, in 2009, there were 180 HIV cases in Finland, out of which 82 were foreigners. Could this be the cause for concern?

Before you jump into any conclusions, note that there are about 2,600 confirmed HIV infected persons in Finland and Finnish citizens account for more than half - about 1,800 of the confirmed cases.

As you'd expect, 80% of the confirmed cases in Finland were sexually transmitted.

Make no mistake about it - free HIV test for immigrants in Finland is a good idea. However, the goal of the free tests should be to identify and support immigrants infected with HIV. It would be dehumanizing if the motive is simply to obtain statistics; statistics that would further polarize the on-going immigration debate - which is already in a sorry-state, and expose immigrants to more discrimination and unequal treatment.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Battle Against Justice in Russia!

Yesterday, advocates for the rule of law and human rights were reminded of the bitter truth that standing up for justice nowadays is a risky endeavor - tantamount to swimming against the tide of popular opinion. We have seen it in Finland - where a minister received death threats for stance that favor diversity and the right to seek asylum; we have seen it in the U.S. - where lawmakers receive death threats for favoring a health care bill that guarantees the civil rights of millions of Americans. In Russia, the reminder was even more grim: Eduard Chuvashov - a top Judge at Moscow's City Court, was gunned down at the stairwell of his Moscow apartment by an unknown assailant. Is there a battle against the administration of justice in Russia?

Judge Chuvashov is famous for cracking down on nationalist groups that don't tolerate Blacks, Gays, Jews and other minority groups in Russia. In February this year, he sentenced members of a skinhead group - "White Wolves" to between 6.5 and 23 years in prison, for ethnic-motivated murders.

Earlier this month of April, Judge Chuvashov handed down sentences of 10 years each, to two leaders of a nationalistic group - Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky. They were accused of hate crimes committed between 2006 and 2007. Other members of the group were slammed with sentences of between 6 and 20 years behind bars.

From the aforementioned cases, which are only a few of the many sensitive cases, you'd agree that Eduard Chuvashov presided over high-profile criminal cases and was in the spotlight of criminal and nationalist organizations. He sent a clear message that hate crimes and race killings have no place in a civilized society. Could this be the cause of his death?

The murder of Judge Chuvashov comes in the wake of other murders related to the administration of justice in Russia. In 2009, a high-profile human rights lawyer - Stanislav Markelov, who participated in the trial of a Russian army Colonel who murdered a Chechen girl, was gunned down in broad daylight in the heart of Moscow!

Investigations are underway to uncover Judge Chuvashov's assailant and authorities have not completely ruled out the possibility that the murder is related to the judge's role in the Moscow City Court. It is worth mentioning that the judge had [allegedly] received death threats.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there's a battle against the administration of justice and the rule of law in Russia?

More importantly, if you were to fill judge Eduard Chuvashov's shoes in the Moscow City Court - would you be impartial and follow in the footsteps of the man who died in the "line of duty", or would you give in to pressure?

I'd like to hear from you!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anti-Mosque Demonstration in Sweden!

Events in Gothenburg, earlier this Sunday afternoon went a long way to highlight the surge in xenophobia, Islamphobia, racism, intolerance, prejudice and bigotry in Sweden. You probably heard that a group of local neo-Nazis rallied for an anti-mosque demonstration in the beautiful city of Gothenburg, today at lunch time.

Why were there on the streets?

Well, the construction of a new mosque is scheduled to start on Tuesday in Hisingen - an island in Gothenburg. Apparently, neo-Nazis are opposed to the construction and secured a permit for their anti-mosque demonstration. However, little did they know that there will be up against a counter-demonstration led by the "Network Against Racism".

At midday today, police in Gothenburg had some work to do - in order to keep the peace and prevent the opposing sides from clashing. The police formed a human barrier, as indignation and animosity flared up between the neo-Nazis and the anti-fascist group.

When the news broke on The Local, I was taken aback and wondered aloud - what is Sweden turning into? Is Sweden now a haven for hate, religious intolerance, Islamphobia and fear mongering? Shouldn't Muslims have a place of worship? What's the next target group?

Something needs to be done as soon as possible to educate the Swedish population about the need for diversity in a civilized society. The anti-mosque demonstration in Sweden this Sunday was uncalled for and represents a threat to religious freedom in the Scandinavian country. Believe it or not!

You'd agree that such a demonstration has no place in a democracy. As mentioned earlier, construction of the Mosque will begin on Tuesday. I'll be following the story closely.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Roma Asylum Seekers in Finland and the dwindling Right to Social Security

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, there are an estimated 10,000 Romani people in Finland. They are a minority recognized in Section 17 of the Constitution and have lived in Finland for over 500 years. Recently, there have been an influx of Roma asylum seekers from other parts of Europe, predominantly from Bulgaria and Moldova. With the recent surge in anti-immigration sentiments in Finland, Roma asylum seekers are up against double discrimination - on grounds of ethnic origin and immigration status. Consequently, many end up living in deplorable conditions in the country where they seek protection. Like every group of people and individuals living in Finland, the Roma reserve the right to social security, provided in the Constitution of Finland and international and regional human rights treaties duly ratiied by Finland.

Section 19 of the Constitution of Finland provides the right to social security. The Constitution mandates that those who cannot afford a life of dignity have the right to receive subsistence and care from the state. It also stipulates that public authorities shall support families responsible for providing for children and promote the right to housing. Hence, it goes with saying that the government of Finland has a Constitutional obligation to ensure that Roma asylum seekers within its borders enjoy the right to social security with discrimination of any kind.

Recently, lawmakers in Finland have expressed concern about the influx of Roma refugees from Bulgaria. In 2009, over 700 Roma from Bulgaria traveled to Finland to seek asylum and there have been rising concerns about inadequate housing infrastructure to accommodate the rising number of Roma asylum seekers. While efforts have been made to provide the necessary support, many Roma asylum seekers are yet to enjoy equal protection.

In Finland's capital and largest city - Helsinki, the plight of Roma asylum seekers cannot go unnoticed. Many live in deplorable conditions in Kalasatama. All year round, Roma families with children live in caravans and tents. Winter in Finland is harsh and the winter of 2010 was particularly unforgiving, but the Roma asylum seekers had to endure the subzero temperatures, in tents and caravans. Like every individual living in Finland, the Roma have the right to adequate housing and social security, but unlike the majority of the population, this vulnerable minority group cannot assert this right.

Above all, public authorities in Finland have the obligation to support families providing for children. Despite this obligation, it is not uncommon to see Roma asylum seekers on the streets and in the subway soliciting alms to support themselves and their families.

From the above analysis, it is evident that - for Roma asylum seekers in Finland - the right to social security is a dwindling right and is not guaranteed. By depriving Roma asylum seekers of the right to social security, public authorities in Finland are in breach of Section 19 of the Constitution, as well as Section 6 that forbids differential treatment on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason.

In conclusion, the position of the Roma in Finland is secured in Finnish legislation, following the 1995 constitutional reform. However, many Roma asylum seekers in the Nordic country are right to enjoy the basic constitutional right to social security.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Police in Finland still Investigating Death Threats?

Finland's Minister of Migration and European Affairs - Astrid Thors was issued death threats on Facebook, for her "treasonous" immigration stance. The threats were made via a group on Facebook, entitled - "I'm ready to to spend a few years in jail for killing Astrid Thors!!" (translated from the Finnish language). In order to get the police in Finland to investigate a threat, the victim is required to report an offence. In February, the Minister reported the illegal threat to the police, but a single arrest is yet to be made. The question is - how much time does the police in Finland need to investigate a death threat against a Minister?

It's alleged that the creator of the group is a local politician from Häme, in South Finland. Hence there's a suspect! How much more investigation is needed before an arrest is made? Is this another testament of untold bureaucracy and bottlenecks in the administration of justice in Finland?

In the U.S., a man accused of issuing death threats against a Democratic Senator - Patty Murray (photo to the left), was arrested yesterday. The threats were made between March 22 and April 4, in response to the passage of the new health care bill. It didn't take the authorities up to a month to track down the culprit. In other words, law enforcement officers in the U.S. wasted no time "investigating" the threats. This is what we called - law enforcement! According to the Justice Department, threatening a federal officer in the U.S. is sanctioned by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In contrast, people in Finland seem to get away with illegal threats - even threats directed at State officials.

It's worth mentioning that the recent sluggish police response to death threats against Finland's Minister of Migration comes in the wake of other questionable police responses that ended up in tragedy.

In a country with loose gun laws - where 15-year-olds are permitted to carry guns, death threats require immediate and rapid police response. Don't you think?

YLE reported on March 8, that investigations are also underway for a Finnish website, registered to an American neo-Nazist. The site calls for the killing of immigrants and politicians.

The authorities should move quickly! They must not wait for the threats to be executed before bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Justice delayed is justice denied!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A day frozen in time!

.April 5th...

A day frozen in time!

On 5th April, 2003, my dad - [Rt.] Police Commissioner Abeng S. Kang, passed away. On this day, 7 years later, I received my Master of Laws (Two Years) degree certificate in the mail. What a coincidence!

As I opened the blue file (embedded with the seal of Lund University), I wondered - what would he say on this day?

Not surprisingly, I broke down - in memory of the man who sacrificed more than you can imagine and built the solid foundation on which I stand.
The man showed up on this planet with a set of principles.
He was unwilling to use his influence for personal gains.

He had not only the gift of life within him,
But also the courage to live life to the very end.

He left behind a wife,
Distinguished sons and daughters;
Not to mourn him -
To celebrate his life,
Finish what he started,
Do what he left undone
And blaze a trail for others to follow.

His legacy lives on...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Zoo has an African?

"... the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them." - Martin Luther King

Today, I want you to take a close look at the following photograph, which I find totally offensive and consider it to be racist, demeaning and an insult to a decent people:

Can you imagine? Are we in 1960?

Now, I don't know the lady smiling behind the racist sign, but what I know is that she is an angry American at a Tea Party, who for some reason does not like the 44th President of the United States and has no respect for human dignity.

Let me be clear - as an unapologetic African, I'm offended by the sign and feel obliged to speak out and publicly denounce her action. This outright display of racism and narrow-mindedness is completely unacceptable and has no place in a civilized society. Believe it or not!

Considering her age (judging from her looks), I suspect no amount of public outcry will change her views - afterall, you can't teach old dogs new tricks, can you? However, we can't afford to be silent.

By the way, why is she smiling? What's so funny about the sign she's carrying?

When I saw this picture, my immediate concern was whether the bearer of the sign has kids or grand kids. If she has any - what lesson is she teaching them? Has she indoctrinated them with her racists stance? What would be her legacy? What does the future hold for America? What about the dream?

This blatant display of racism is truly disturbing - but even more disturbing is the muted [African] response to the insult. Many have seen the sign, many don't take it seriously, many are offended and many are indifferent. Most [Africans] who have viewed the photograph share one thing in common - SILENCE.

Are we voiceless? For how long shall we be silent?

At least someone made a commendable effort and wrote an open letter to the woman with the sign. Although I find the tone of the letter, dated Tuesday September 15, 2009, a little bit harsh, I understand the frustration of the anonymous author. I hope the person to whom it is intended reads it someday - if she has not done so yet.

While I wonder what the family, friends, neighbors and loved ones of the smiling racist think of her, my wish for her on this Easter is that she gets a vacation and travel to Africa. I'm confident that a trip to the Motherland will be an eye-opener. Besides, Mark Twain was right, when he said - "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Best Video Phone Offer!

You're probably aware of the fact that the video phone is my favorite gadget. It's truly a superior and less expensive telephone system, hence as I travel around, I never leave it behind. It helps me save money and connect with family and friends like never before. With the video phone, I don't only talk - I see the person I'm talking to, without the old-school hassle of hooking up computers, webcams and headphones. I've enjoyed video phone communication for almost 2 years now and won't be giving it up anytime soon. Today, you can have yours by taking advantage of the best video phone offer.

It has come to my notice that for just $99.95, you can own a 8831b video phone. You'll also get a black case with a zipper to protect your device. This is an unbeatable deal! It's the best video phone offer ever! I got mine for $299 and a case was not included.

Here is the deal - the equipment now costs $99.95 and the activation fee is $44.95. With UPS shipping, 1 month bill and all the tax included, be ready to pay only $221.65.

I arrived Sweden today for the Easter holidays and guess what - my video phone is here with me, so I can make and receive calls as usual. No extra charges, irrespective of location. That's the power of this technology.

Later tonight, I'll call my sister at blogFace2Face on the video phone. She lives in the U.S. but if you ask me - she's just a video phone call away.

Looking forward to the day when everyone will own a video phone. It's inevitable! I'd be glad to dial a phone number and have you show up on the other side of the screen. Exciting!

To place an order for your video phone(s), click here or drop a comment. I'd love to help you. The offer is good until April 15, 2010.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tea Party Racism: What would Martin Luther King say?

You've probably heard about the so-called Tea Party Movement in the U.S., haven't you? I'm not very familiar with the movement, but I see it as a right-wing blatantly racist political movement. The debate surrounding the health care reform bill (which is now law) in the U.S. has been highly polarized, uncivil and disturbingly racist - especially in Tea Parties. Recent Tea Party demonstrations are a grim reminder of the civil unrest that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement in 1960. As I watch Tea Party demonstrations all across America, I can't help but wonder - what would Martin Luther King say? How would Dr. King address Tea Party racism in the U.S., 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement?

On Saturday, March 20, according to the Associate Press, Tea Party demonstrators shouted "nigger" at civil rights hero and congressman - John Lewis. When I heard the news, I was taken aback because the racist chants were directed at a man who was nearly beaten to death in the 60s because of the color of his skin. Asked about the incident, Lewis said, "... it's okay. I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s..."

On that fateful day, other lawmakers were also harassed, including Emanuel Cleaver, who was spat upon by the Tea Party protesters. He said he clearly heard chants of the word "nigger" echoing from the crowd. The crowd did not stop short of uttering homophobic slurs. Barney Frank - an openly gay congressman was called "homo" and "faggot" by the angry crowd.

Another civil rights leader - James Clyburn, in response to a question from Huffington Post said, "...I heard people saying things that I've not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."

The aforementioned incident was quite disturbing, but luckily, this time around, the racist taunting was not backed by policemen and wild dogs.

During Tea Party demonstrations, protesters carry blatantly divisive and somewhat racist signs that read:
  • "Racists Here!"
  • "Impeach the Kenyan"
  • "Obama Nomics: Monkey See, Monkey Spend!"
  • "The Zoo has an African and the White House has a Lyin' African
  • The American Tax Payers are the Jews for Obama's Ovens
  • Speak for yourself Obama - We are a Christian Nation
  • Congress = Slave Owner. Tax Payer = Niggar
  • Save White America!
  • Wake up America; You Muslim President! Bowed to his Muslim King!!
  • We Need A Christian President
  • Impeach Osama Obama Aka Hussein
The racist and hate-mongering list goes on!

While I was watching some of the demonstrations, a photo depicting President Barack Obama hanging from a noose was particularly disturbing; not forgetting a photo depicting the President as an African witch doctor. The truth is - Tea Party protesters make no secret of their racist views.

You've heard what civil rights icon - John Lewis and other Congressmen had to say about a recent Tea Party demonstration. Now, if you were having a conversation on this subject with Martin Luther King - what do you think he would say?

The resistance and disrespect President Obama has to endure in America today is clearly not because of the content of his character. It is because he is different from the many [presidents] who came before him - Obama is black and answers a Muslim name. Consequently, he is regarded as "unqualified" and a potential "threat." Believe it or not!

I don't remember the last time a U.S. President was treated with so much contempt by fellow Americans - even the very unpopular George W. Bush failed to spark such hatred and disgust.

When was the last time a U.S president was dreaded at home and loved abroad? Can you remember?

Many Americans are yet to come to terms with having an African-American in the White House. Regardless, there's no denying - CHANGE has come to America.

In my opinion, irrespective of what happens in Tea Parties nowadays, Dr. King would be impressed by the progress America has made so far - we have an African-American with a Muslim name, in the White House.

Dr. King saw worst times in America, hence, like John Lewis, he won't dwell too much on Tea Party racism and disrespect directed at Congressmen and America's first black President. There are more important things to worry about - the economy, wars and armed conflicts, nuclear weapons, Guantanamo, climate change, you name it.

Here is what Dr. King would say - Mr. President, Tea Party demonstrations are simply a distraction! Focus on what really matters. I'm glad the formal health care debate is over. This is truly what change looks like! What's next, Mr. President?

However, I must add that Dr. King would be appalled by the fact that many Americans are yet to master the "art" of engaging in civil and constructive dialogue.

What do you think? What would Martin Luther King say?

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