Wednesday Reads: Anti-Putin, Anti-Woman and Good for Canada!Posted: June 13, 2012
Let’s start the day off with the latest news about Syria:
The U.S. accused Russia of escalating the Syrian conflict by sending attack helicopters to President Bashar Assad‘s regime, and U.N. observers were attacked Tuesday with stones, metal rods and gunfire that blocked them from a besieged rebel-held town where civilians were feared trapped by government shelling.
* Clinton says helicopter sale would escalate conflict
* Syria conflict is civil war, UN official says
* Pentagon buys helicopters from Russian arms exporter (Adds senator holding up nomination of Pentagon official)
The United States is worried Russia may be sending Syria attack helicopters and views Russian claims that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict there as “patently untrue,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
The comments came as the Pentagon found itself on the defensive for doing business with Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, given concerns in Congress about the firm’s role in arming the Syrian regime.
The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.
More on that statement from the UN: Syria in civil war, U.N. official says
Syria’s 15-month uprising has grown into a full-scale civil war where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are trying to recapture swathes of urban territory lost to rebels, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.
“Yes, I think we can say that,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said when asked if the Syrian crisis could now be characterized as a civil war.
“Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory in several cities to the opposition and wants to retake control of these areas,” he said.
His remarks, the first time a senior U.N. official has declared Syria’s conflict is a civil war, came as the United States said Russia could be sending attack helicopters to Syria.
The International Red Cross said the situation was deteriorating in several parts of Syria simultaneously as fighting intensifies.
There are more reports about the use of children as human shields…U.N. adds Syria to list of countries killing children
The U.N. special envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said the United Nations had also received credible allegations that the armed opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, had also used children during the 15-month conflict.
“There’s been extraordinary violence against children in Syria,” Coomaraswamy told reporters.
“Children as young as 9 years of age were victims of killing and maiming, detention, torture, arbitrary arrest and were used as human shields by the Syrian government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the shabiha militia,” she said.
Those forces have also regularly raided and used schools as military bases and detention centers, Coomaraswamy added.
Here are some other links on the Syrian violence:
Meanwhile, in Russia:
Protesters Defy Efforts to Muffle Anti-Putin Outcry – This is an amazing series of photos that show thousands of Anti-Putin protestors in the streets.
Tens of thousands of protesters thronged central Moscow in a drenching rain on Tuesday, voicing renewed fury at President Vladimir V. Putin and defying recent efforts by his government to clamp down on the political opposition movement.
The large turnout, rivaling the big crowds that had gathered at the initial antigovernment rallies in December, suggested that the tough new posture adopted by the Kremlin against the protests was emboldening rather than deterring Mr. Putin’s critics.
On Friday, Mr. Putin signed a new law that imposes steep financial penalties on participants in rallies that cause harm to people or property. On Sunday, officials arrested five more people on charges related to the last protest, which ended in a melee between demonstrators and riot police officers. And on Monday, the authorities searched the homes of several opposition leaders and issued summonses ordering seven of them to appear for questioning on Tuesday so they could not attend the rally.
Participants of the June 12 opposition rally – the so-called March of Millions – have adopted the Free Russia Manifesto, which demands Vladimir Putin’s resignation, a snap State Duma vote and a new Constitution.
The protesters demand that a new law on parliamentary elections be developed, which would provide for “fair, transparent and competitive elections.” This bill should be adopted by the current parliament, which “would become its last and only” function, the document reads.
Then, a newly-elected parliament should work out a project for Russia’s Constitution, which would significantly limit presidential powers, giving more authority to MPs in terms of forming the government and holding parliamentary investigations.
The opposition also demands that the presidential time in office should be limited to either one six-year term or to two four-year terms. The parliament should also call a referendum on a project for the overhaul of the constitution.
Among other demands is the adoption of laws that guarantee local self-government and direct governors’ elections, as well as reforming of courts and law enforcement agencies.
The manifesto also points out that the difference between the living standards in Moscow and other Russian cities, which may lead to “civil confrontation and dissolution of the state.”
“The population has a legal right for a peaceful mass protest in order to put pressure on power and to change it. Our fight for political rights is linked to economic rights. We seek changes at all levels of life,” said one of the opposition activists Evgenia Chirikova. She read the text of the document to the crowd which gathered at Moscow’s Sakharov Avenue.
Next week the March of Millions organizing committee is planning to decide on a date and the format of elections to a joint opposition body, Ilya Ponomarev, a deputy from the opposition Fair Russia party told Itar-Tass. The vote will be held on the internet, he said.
Wow, that is something to see. So in addition to these articles about Putin and the protestors, here are a few comics.
Back here in the states, Democrat to offer bill repealing ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws
The House Democrat who represents Trayvon Martin’s district will soon propose legislation repealing the nation’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, which are under a microscope following the shooting death of the Florida teenager earlier this year.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said eliminating such laws might have prevented February’s fatal confrontation between the 17-year-old Martin, an unarmed African-American, and George Zimmerman, 28, an Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer carrying a 9mm handgun.
I don’t know about it preventing the killing, it seems to me Zimmerman would have done the same thing without the Stand Your Ground law. I still am thrilled that she is doing something about it however…These Stand Your Ground laws are horrible.
Wilson this week said the law threatens to enable “a horrendous crime.”
“The thought that George Zimmerman could get away with such a horrendous crime is a travesty of justice,” Wilson said Tuesday in a statement announcing her bill. “There are bills in other states known by different taglines that have the same unintended consequences as [Florida’s] Stand Your Ground [law]. They should all be repealed.”
Wilson’s proposal — which she expects to introduce next week when the House returns from this week’s recess — would discourage “Stand Your Ground” laws by withholding some federal transportation dollars from states that adopt them.
Wilson’s bill has no chance of moving this year in the GOP-controlled House, but it will shine a brighter light on the nation’s gun laws as a number of states are eyeing adoption of legislation similar to Florida’s law.
And now, two links on Women’s Rights…first from Cairo: Arab women cry for end to harassment
After years of enduring vulgar and degrading comments or worse by men on the streets of Egypt’s capital, Cairo University student Cherine Thabet decided she had enough.
“Do you know that it would be strange for a woman to leave her house and return without hearing two or three strangers’ opinions about her chest, in all kinds of colorful language,” she asked in a blog post. “Can you imagine that it is routine for a big man to stand quietly by as a woman gets groped?”
Her post received a torrent of comments from women throughout the Middle East who complained that they, too, are tired of a common practice of Arab men that is usually just whispered about by women.
“We should confront society [about this] as much as we can,” said Thabet, 21, who has been campaigning online, on the street and on Egyptian television about the issue since her post. “We should talk and talk [about it], so everyone understands what the problem is.”
Read the rest of it at the link…then take a look at this:
On one side of the border, a woman can see a doctor for free and is guaranteed paid maternity leave. On the other, most women do not qualify for free healthcare and one in five under 65 does not have medical insurance.
These differences and others make Canada the best country among the world’s wealthiest nations to be a woman and keep the United States out of the top five, according to a poll of experts released on Wednesday by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The United States ranked sixth among the 19 countries in the Group of 20 economies, excluding the European Union economic grouping, in the global survey of 370 recognized gender specialists.
Germany, Britain, Australia and France followed Canada in that order, while India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia polled the worst.
Even though there are many similarities between the US and Canada:
the countries are very different in the area of gender equality, the experts said. Canada’s constitution promotes and safeguards women’s rights while a lack of consensus over reproductive rights in particular erodes them in the United States, experts said.
“Canada leads the pack with its promotion of women’s access and opportunities across various sectors of society, including education, economic participation and healthcare,” said Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, which took part in the survey.
The poll showed how the lack of universal health care and the struggle over abortion rights in the United States – important issues ahead of the November presidential election – were key to perceptions of women’s freedoms in the country, according to the experts polled.
While a pregnant woman in Canada is guaranteed 15 weeks paid maternity leave, she receives no federally guaranteed time off with pay in the United States. If the expectant mother is one of the 16 percent of American women under 65 with no health insurance – according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – she may have to forgo adequate prenatal and postnatal care because she can’t afford it.
Canada also ranks better than the United States on maternal mortality, reporting 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008, half the number recorded in the United States, according to the United Nations.
POLITICS, TREATIES AND RIGHTS
While women’s political representation in Canada lags behind some G20 countries, it fares better than in the United States. Nearly a quarter of seats in Canada’s lower house of parliament are held by women, compared to 17 percent in the United States, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
“Our political participation levels, particularly in Congress, are embarrassingly low as compared to other countries in the G20, such as South Africa, Germany and Argentina,” said ICRW’s Kambou. In South Africa, women hold 42 percent of seats in parliament’s lower house.
Canada was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), often referred to as the international bill of rights for women.
The United States is the only democracy and the only G20 country that has yet to ratify CEDAW, primarily due to concerns of religious and social conservatives that it will undermine what they call “traditional family values”.
It is really a sad state of affairs for women in this country. Embarrassing too.
Aside from quality of health, the TrustLaw survey asked respondents to rank G20 countries in terms of the overall best and worst places for women and in the categories of freedom from violence, participation in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and property rights and freedom from trafficking and slavery.
(For full coverage of the poll visit g20women.trust.org)
(TrustLaw is a free legal news site run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit trust.org/trustlaw. For more information on the TrustWomen Conference visit trustwomenconf.com)
HOW THEY RANK
Best and worst G20 countries for women
1. Canada 2. Germany 3. Britain 4. Australia 5. France 6. United States 7. Japan 8. Italy 9. Argentina 10. South Korea 11. Brazil 12. Turkey 13. Russia 14. China 15. Mexico 16. South Africa 17. Indonesia 18. Saudi Arabia 19. India
That is all I have for you today, please share your morning news with us…comment section is below!