Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sons of Confederate Veterans Accuse University Of "Narrow Minded Prejudice"

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage organization which represents approximately 30,000 male descendants of the Confederate States Army, has accused officials of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia of "exhibiting the same kind of narrow minded prejudice and knee-jerk bias that has always been the enemy of brotherhood and understanding."

The group, known as the SCV, was created in 1896 and is based in Columbia, Tennessee. According to a statement released by the SCV's Chief of Heritage Operations Ben Jones, the recent removal of Confederate symbols from the burial place of General Robert E. Lee was a "breaking point for us. Our patience with this 'new McCarthyism' is exhausted." 

Here is the complete statement:

"The New Bigots"

A recent event at Washington and Lee University has underscored the growing phenomenon of "South-bashing" in the media and in academia. At the behest of several young law students, that school's  President made a decision to remove two St. Andrews Cross battle flags from the Lee Chapel on the campus. Lee Chapel is the burial place of Robert E. Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia. General Lee became President of what was then Washington College after the War Between the States and is generally credited with saving the school. The Chapel is a beloved and honored place to the more than 65 million Americans who are descended from those who fought for the South in that conflict. 

The law students, who call themselves "The Committee", delivered an ultimatum to President Kenneth Ruscio threatening civil disobedience unless certain demands were met. One of those demands was the removal of Confederate symbols from the Chapel, saying that the Christian Cross flags made them feel "unwelcome". On July 8th, Ruscio announced that the flags would be removed from the Lee Chapel. We cannot fathom why anyone would attend a school named after Robert E. Lee and then say they were offended by the St. Andrews Cross flag. Nor we cannot fathom how anyone could take them seriously and cave in to their threats. But in the current climate of 'South bashing', such a radical act as this seems to be accepted as some sort of litmus test for the "politically correct police".

It appears that those who have a very simplistic view of American history have decided that the 150th anniversary of The Civil War is the right time to demonize the Southern culture, to intensify their vilification of Confederate heritage, and to continue to act as if their actions are some sort of moral crusade.

We who are of Confederate heritage honor our ancestors for their sacrifice, their perseverance and their astonishing courage against overwhelming odds. These men were our family, our kinfolks, and their blood runs in our veins. But the new bigots of political correctness are exhibiting the same kind of narrow minded prejudice and knee-jerk bias that has always been the enemy of brotherhood and understanding. This latest example is the breaking point for us. Our patience with this new McCarthyism is exhausted. These mean spirited attacks upon us come from the same sad place as do all racial, religious, and regional prejudices. They are rooted in an ignorance combined with a sense of superiority. 

Over 50 years ago, that courageous Southerner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have a dream that someday on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to dine together at the table of brotherhood." And that has happened. We have done that for decades now in the South, in great part because Dr. King did not qualify that dream or put asterisks on it.  He did not say that we would dine together in brotherhood only if we dishonored our ancestors or if our family could routinely be called bigots, traitors, and racists.  He was a far better and wiser man than that. He meant that we would dine together by accepting our past as it is and that we would understand each other by our shared culture of work and weather and food and music and memory.  That way we could strive together to heal the wounds of the past and thus build a proud and loving South, where folks are judged only by the content of their characters.

Slavery was not the sin of the South, but of the Nation. Chattel slavery existed throughout every colony and state for almost two centuries. Slavery was funded mainly by the Northern banks. The greatest profits went to the North. The North built the slave ships and manned them. The cotton also went North, to the vast textile mills in New England.  The North's complicity in prolonging and profiting from slavery is one of the best kept secrets of American history. The work of the slaves helped to build America, both North and  South. And yet the South has long been the scapegoat of these attacks from academia and the media.
The South is the fastest growing economic region in our nation. African-Americans are returning to the South in record numbers, finding a more traditional way of life here and according to many, better race relations.
It is long past the time for the new bigots of political correctness to get over their condescending sanctimony and to enter into the real world of brotherhood and fellowship. And it is time they understand that insulting our heritage is not the way to build bridges of progress.

Ben Jones
Chief of Heritage Operations
Sons of Confederate Veterans
SOURCE Sons of Confederate Veterans

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Friends of a Free Venezuela: Wife of Venezuela's most prominent political prisoner speaks out

Lilian Tintori, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader and political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, today challenged President Nicolas Maduro to release her husband and more than 100 other political prisoners, given the government's failure to produce evidence or respect their human rights.  Tintori, along with Leopoldo's mother, father and two sisters, appeared at the National Press Club as part of an ongoing international tour that has included stops in Latin America and Europe.

"No one in the world should doubt why Leopoldo is in prison.  President Maduro is afraid of him," said Tintori.  "My husband needs the support of all countries around the world that stand for freedom.  We need a clear message sent to President Maduro and the Government of Venezuela that it cannot trample on the rights of its people with impunity."

Tintori was joined by Lopez's international human rights lawyer Jared Genser, who  released a white paper documenting numerous violations of legal due process and human rights that have been committed before and since Lopez's arrest on February 19, 2014.   

"After an exhaustive review of the government's case and actions against Mr. Lopez, this is as clear cut a case of political injustice you will find anywhere in the world," said Genser.  "The prosecution and judiciary has acted on the direct orders of the political leadership; they have presented no evidence against Mr. Lopez; they have not allowed eyewitnesses to speak and they have rejected numerous items of evidence including video proving Mr. Lopez's innocence; there has not been even the pretense of due process."
"Until the world acts to hold the Venezuelan government accountable, it will continue to lock up its dissenters with impunity," said Genser.

Lopez's trial was scheduled to begin this week, on July 23, although past court dates have been postponed with little warning or explanation.  Lopez has been held in isolation in a military prison since his arrest.  The government has charged him with public incitement, damage to property, fire damage and "association for conspiracy."

A copy of the white paper is available here
Download a copy of Lilian Tintori's remarks
Lilian Tintori's Op-Ed in The Washington Post

SOURCE Friends of a Free Venezuela


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Friday, 18 July 2014

Khmer Communities Outraged by Recent Remarks made by Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia Regarding the History of Kampuchea-Krom

The following is a joint statement by Cambodia National Rescue Foundation (CNRF), Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), Cambodian-American for Human Rights and Democracy (CAHRAD), Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC), Cambodia National Rescue Party in USA (CRNP-USA), Cambodian-American Communities and Cambodian Communities Oversea:

Cambodian Americans across the United States of America as well as other overseas Cambodian communities' members around the world are outraged by the recent remarks made by the Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trung Van Thong to Cambodia that the former Kampuchea Krom provinces belonged to Vietnam long before French Colonialist officially transferred control to Cochinchina governor in 1949.
The remarks have not only offended Khmer Krom communities around the world, but also  misled the public about the true history of the Khmer Krom.

We demand the Vietnamese government to retract the remarks made by its Embassy Spokesman in Phnom-Penh, Cambodia, Mr. Trung Van Thong, and publicly make an apology to Khmer people. 

Vibol Touch, Coordinator

SOURCE Cambodia National Rescue Foundation (CNRF)


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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Syrian child marriage in Jordan has doubled since start of war

 Early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls in Jordan has doubled since the onset of war, Save the Children said today.

Data collected by UNICEF shows a quarter of all Syrian refugee marriages registered in Jordan now involve a girl under the age of 18. Save the Children said that extreme poverty and increasing fears of sexual violence among Syrian refugee communities mean that some parents feel they have no choice but to marry their daughters to keep them 'protected.' 

Child marriage did exist in pre-conflict Syria — at 13 percent of all marriages — but the latest figures show that this figure has doubled for those girls that have fled to Jordan, and that half (48 percent) are being forced to marry men at least 10 years older than they are.

"Child marriage is devastating for those girls concerned," said Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles. "Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later, and they have much more limited access to sexual and reproductive health, putting their young bodies at extreme risk if and when they become pregnant."

Save the Children's new report, "Too Young to Wed: The Growing Problem of Child Marriage Among Syrian Girls in Jordan," spells out a number of reasons why families are opting for early marriage for their daughters. As refugees, Syrian families are reliant on dwindling resources and lacking economic opportunities. At the same time, they are all too aware of the need to protect their daughters from the threat of sexual violence. Given these pressures, some families consider child marriage to be the best way to protect their female children and ease family resources. 

Children who drop out of school are more likely to marry, and conversely, children who get married are more likely to drop out of education, with girls expected to leave school in order to care for their husband and home, or to begin childbearing and childcare.

However, "Too Young to Wed" also points to the "determined resistance" of some refugee families, noting cases of mothers' resolute rejection of child marriage. Among the reasons mothers gave were that their daughters were too young, and that they wanted their daughters to complete their education.
"These girls, who by fleeing the war in Syria have already been subjected to more than any child should, are at extreme risk of mental-health issues resulting from social isolation, stress and abuse," said Miles. "But the repercussions of forced marriage can be physical, as well as mental – and even deadly. The consequences for girls' health of engaging in sexual activity while their bodies are still developing are devastating: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than fully-grown women."

Save the Children, along with partners, runs community awareness-raising programs with children, adolescents and parents in Jordan, with a focus on preventing child marriage. 

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood-- every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  

SOURCE Save the Children

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Finds the University of Texas-Austin Race Preferences Constitutional

 A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the racial and ethnic classifications and preferences of the Univ. of Texas's admissions polices to be constitutional.

The case, Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2013. In a 7-1 opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy (Justice Kagan recused), the justices vacated an earlier ruling by the same three-judge panel writing that the Fifth Circuit did not properly apply the correct legal standard for using race preferences in the admissions process. The case was then remanded back to the panel for the application of the proper legal standard know as "strict scrutiny." 

Last November, during arguments in Austin, Texas before the panel, Ms. Fisher's lawyers argued that UT was precluded from using racial and ethnic classifications and preferences because of the success of the race-neutral  Top Ten Percent Plan which resulted in greater minority diversity at UT than did an earlier racial preference program. Strict scrutiny requires that a university implement race-neutral admissions policies to achieve diversity before lastly resorting to race preferences.

Abigail Fisher said, "It is disappointing that the judges hearing my case are not following the Supreme Court's ruling last summer. I remain committed to continuing this lawsuit even if it means we appeal to the Supreme Court once again."

Fisher added, "It is a shame that for the last six years, hundreds of UT applicants were denied admission because of UT's racial and ethnic preferences."

Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation (POFR), said, "While disappointing, this opinion was not unexpected based upon the questioning and comments made by the court during our last hearing in November."

Blum continued, "This panel was proven wrong last year by the Supreme Court and we believe it will be proven wrong once again on appeal."

POFR is a legal defense foundation based in Alexandria, Virginia that has provided pro bono legal representation to individuals and jurisdictions in a number of important U.S. Supreme Court cases, including in NW Austin MUD v. Holder, Shelby Co. Ala. v. Holder and Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas-Austin

SOURCE The Project on Fair Representation

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