Category Archives: Politics

Help Iraqi women

Rebecca Watson of Skepchick mentioned a donation drive to help activists escape Iraq. These are women's rights activists whose lives are literally threatened by the misogyny currently prevailing in Iraq.

The story starts with an Iraqi teenage girl in Basra who happened to get to know a young British soldier. Nothing inappropriate happened between the two, but she felt attracted to him and mentioned this to a friend. Word somehow got around to his father, and this was enough for him to beat her to death, despite nothing happening and only having some tentative feelings. What's worse is that her brothers gleefully helped her die. The only ones in the family with any decency were the girl herself and the mother, who tried to stop the father from beating the girl to death.

The mother divorced the father and went into hiding. A women's rights group was going to help her escape from the country because of the threat to her life, but she was shot dead in a drive-by shooting. And now the activists in the women's rights group can't afford to get anyone else, including themselves, out of the horribly oppressive region. And yet their lives are literally under threat by a misogynist culture which thinks nothing of the life of a woman.

Donations are being collected to help get the women out. I've donated what I can, and I can only hope it helps get the women out to safety. I just cannot imagine what goes in the head of the men in the region, where they apparently think it's not just OK but their duty to kill any woman who seems to defy male authority. It's even worse that the local government in Basra seems to be tacitly condoning such atrocities.

A president's fall from grace

The drop in the approval rating of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak from about 50% to 20% in a little over three months is rather impressive. Elected with the largest margin of victory among South Korean presidents, he's becoming unpopular really fast.

Considering all the political blunders he's made, it's no surprise. One of the first declarations from his administration was their intention to make English an official language for education (and not just for English classes), which would not sit well at all with a Korean-speaking public that already spends too much money on English education. Then he persisted in his plans to build a grand canal throughout Korea despite strong opposition. Trying to strip the power base of a popular political rival within his own party did not go well at all, either. And now the American beef import crisis, which is causing a surge of resentment.

It's almost as if he wants to be unpopular.

Gay marriage ban initiative in California

A proposed constitutional amendment managed to get on the ballot. Considering that an initiative needs get more than half a million signatures to become a ballot measure, it's slightly depressing to think that so many people want to restrict the happiness of others. It would be understandable if gay marriages could bring harm to society, but there's no real reason why this would be so.

What's more depressing is that a measure to ban gay marriages actually passed in 2000. I'll be charitable and assume that this was only because the whole concept was so new that people couldn't get their head around it. I'm definitely going to vote against the proposed amendment, and I have a feeling a lot more people would be agreeing with me come this November than in 2000.

Korean protests over US beef

I think many Koreans are overreacting in their protests against the import of American beef. There has only been two cases of mad cow disease discovered in the US, which appears to have been contained before spreading further. The probability of contracting the disease from US beef is so low that it's a little hard to understand the level of conflict that's arisen from this issue. This is especially so since there has been less than five discovered human cases in the US itself who have contracted the disease, and it's not even clear that they contracted it from US beef.

The level of protests is bewildering, especially considering that there hardly seems to be any protests against Chinese food imports, where there is an actual and persistent history of contaminated foods being imported. At least the protests have not been particularly violent overall.