Monday, July 28, 2014

The Plight of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim!

"It is a matter of principle that women are free and equal."--Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 --There are a lot of countries around the world where women have very few rights, mainly in Africa and the Middle East.  Many of them are Muslim countries that believe in Sharia Law.

--Sudan has seen a lot of turmoil.  During the Second Sudanes Civil War (1983-2005), many Christian Sudanese have been murdered by Muslim Arabs and many children displaced and orphaned.  Sudan recently split into 2 different countries, the Muslim north staying Sudan and the Christian south becoming South Sudan.

--Meriam Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father.  Her father left her family when she was young, so Ibrahim was raised as a Christian.

--Ibrahim married a Christian man, Daniel Wani who is an American citizen.  According to Islamic (Sharia) law, Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.  Since, Ibrahim is considered to be a Muslim woman because of her father, she was accused of committing adultery. She was sentenced to 100 lashes, death by hanging and put in jail unless she renounced her faith.

--Ibrahim was put in jail with her 20 month old son and she was also 8 months pregnant.  She was shackled and not given proper medical attention. 

--Miraculously (because of global outrage), a Sudanese appeals court ordered her to be released.  She was to fly with her family to the United States the next day, but was prevented from doing that.  Finally, Lapo Pistelli (vice-minister for foreign affairs in Italy) flew to Sudan and Italy was able to secure her release.

--Ibrahim flew to Italy with Pistelli and she got to meet the Pope.

--This is a victory for religious freedom that is rare these days.  The way women are treated under Sharia Law is horrific.  Female circumcision is one of the most gruesome procedures, and yet it still happens:
The numbers are really sickening. Last year, 3.6 million little girls were “cut”–or had their genitals mutilated. The crude cultural ritual involves the removal, usually with a knife or razor, of a girl’s clitoris and labia–and not always with anesthesia. The extent of the procedure varies, but the trauma and pain can last a lifetime.
The practice is still “almost universal” in Egypt, Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti, and common in more than 25 other countries, according to a report out Tuesday from UNICEF. It is even practiced in “pockets” of North America and Europe, UNICEF says.

When you read the numbers, think not of the many zeroes at the end, which can make any of us glaze over, but of the individual tales of each life one, by one, by one, and what each girl had to endure. Cutting is always done before puberty—sometimes when the girls are still tots, often between the ages of five and 14, but always when a girl is most vulnerable and unable to protect herself.

Worldwide, an estimated 125 million women alive today have been mutilated, primarily in Africa and the Middle East, even though the practice has been outlawed in many of the countries where families still force their girls to go through it. Cutting is the ultimate global barometer of gender inequality.

--Finding a way to free women and girls from the oppression of Sharia Law is a cause I am passionate about.

--The AHA Foundation is making great strides in fighting FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in the United States.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Feel Good Sunday Stories!

--Seinfeld may be coming to Netflix!  I think they would be smart to do so, it could create a whole new generation of fans.  Then, younger people would actually know what us Seinfeld fans are talking about when we reference one of the many things that was said on there and became a part of pop culture.

--Police officer steps in to help a 96 year old woman in stifling house.  A Kansas City police officer helped a 96 year old woman who didn't have air conditioning.  He got in contact with ProjectElderCool and stayed with the woman until they brought her an air conditioner.  Very Cool!

--This Group of Thieves Didn't Count On The MMA Fighter Working at This Gas Station! This is so awesome. Perhaps more businesses should consider hiring MMA fighters.

--Kansas City Blogger Must Read!  Return of The Sassy Conservative!  Thank-ful for the shout-out from Tony's Kansas City.  He is one of my favorite liberals.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Abduction of the Nigerian Schoolgirls!

--An article came out yesterday about how 11 of the parents of the kidnapped Nigerian girls have died. Seven of the fathers were killed while in the village of Kautakari by Islamic extremists, and the other four died from illness.

--I'm researching the facts surrounding the abduction of the Nigerian school girls.  I thought it would be good to give a brief overview of the situation.

When and where were the girls kidnapped?
--The girls were kidnapped on April 16, 2014, a little over 3 months ago.
--They were taken from a private school in the town of Chibok in northern Nigeria.  It is around 600 miles from the capital city of Abuja.

How many girls? 
--The numbers vary according to what source you read, but the latest numbers are that 276 girls were originally taken and 57 have escaped.

Where do authorities think they are being held?
--The Sambisa Forest, which is a wildlife reserve that has a very thick jungle.

Who kidnapped them?
--An Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram, which has ties to Al Qaeda.

Who are the Boko Haram?
--Founded in 2002
--Their name in the Hausa language means "western education is a sin".
--Launched military operations in 2009
--Founding leader was Mohammed Yusuf who was killed in 2009 
--He was succeeded by Abubakar Shekau
--Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, they also attacked police and UN headquarters in Abuja 
--U.S. declared them a terrorist organization in 2013
--Nigeria's Boko Haram  has "caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and now abductions - is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state."  They want to impose Sharia Law on the whole country.

Why does the Boko Haram kidnap girls?
--"The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

--It has repeatedly targeted places of learning in deadly attacks that have highlighted its fundamental philosophy against education. The spate of kidnappings began in May 2013 when Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau announced in a video that this was part of its latest bloody campaign. The kidnappings, he said, were retaliation for Nigerian security forces nabbing the wives and children of group members."

What happens to girls and women that are kidnapped by Boko Haram?
--Many are forced to marry their kidnappers and convert to Islam.  When some girls that had been kidnapped last November were rescued, many of them were pregnant.

--Boko Haram has threatened on video to sell this latest group of girls into slavery and as child brides.

What is Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan doing about Boko Haram?
--A state of emergency was declared in 3 Northeastern Nigerian states (Borno, Yobe & Adamawa) where Boko Haram is the strongest in May of 2013.  National security forces are trying to crack down on the terrorists.  But civilians are getting caught in the crossfire.  Villages in the north that are primarily Christian are being targeted.  Villages all along the Cameroon border have been attacked, sacked, burned and are deserted.

--Many residents in the affected areas feel abandoned and are reaching out to the United Nations.

--A BBC Africa article concludes with these 2 paragraphs about the reign of terror by Boko Haram--
Analysts say northern Nigeria has a history of spawning militant Islamist groups, but Boko Haram has outlived them and has proved to be far more lethal, with a global jihadi agenda. The threat will disappear only if Nigeria's government manages to reduce the region's chronic poverty and builds an education system which gains the support of local Muslims, the analysts say.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thousands Protest Rape of 6 yr old Girl in India

The show of solidarity surpassed anything Bangalore has seen in the recent past. Perhaps Anna Hazare's protest at Freedom Park three years ago came close. But this march was far stronger, much bigger and more emotional. It was the middle-class Bangalorean — anguished, scared and frustrated — seeking justice for a child the adult world had let down.
--Thousands protested in India this past Saturday over the delay by the police and the school in dealing with the rape of a 6 year old girl.

--The girl was raped while she was at school, allegedly by 2 teachers.  There are reports that the school tried to cover it up.

--The police did finally arrest one of the suspects.  The teacher who was arrested had been taking pictures of children, and police are looking into 4 other instances of abuse.  The school has a lot of questions to answer since they didn't verify the teacher enough before hiring him.

--The little girl was further traumatized by being put through 2 rounds of medical tests.

--India has taken a tougher stance on rape in the past 18 months, but India still has a rape problem.
Thousands of people swept through the streets of New Delhi in spontaneous protests after the December 2012 bus rape, demanding protection for women. The victim became “the daughter of the entire nation,” said Sushma Swaraj, now the country's foreign minister.

Much has changed in the 18 months since then — harsher laws against rape, increased media focus on sexual violence, new police units dedicated to helping women. But a gang rape last week that left two teenage cousins dead, their corpses hanging from a village mango tree, has revealed the immense gulf that remains in India. In a nation that can at times appear convulsed with outrage over a culture of sexual violence, there are plenty of occasions when it seems little has changed at all.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Review of Belle!

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing.
While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.--Rotten Tomatoes

--I saw the movie Belle last night and loved it!!

--The movie has numerous aspects to it that made me fall in love with it:
  • It is loosely based on some true historical events 
  • It is a "Jane Austen" type movie with an abolition theme 
--Historical Facts:
  • The above 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray is what inspired the movie.  
  • The painting was "one of the first European portraits to portray a black subject on an equal eye-line with a white aristocrat."
  • Belle was indeed the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Maria Belle (an African slave in the West Indies) and Naval Officer, Captain John Lindsay.
  • Lindsay entrusted Belle to his Uncle William Murray in 1765.
  • William Murray was the 1st Earl of Mansfield and the Lord Chief Justice of England.
  • Murray did indeed rule in 2 important slavery cases--Somerset vs. Stewart in 1772 and the Zong Massacre trials of 1783 which did help pave the way for the Slave Trade Act of 1807.  Thus inspiring William Wilberforce to fight for the abolition of slavery in 1833.
--The rest of the movie is fiction, but extremely well-done.  I highly recommend it!  

--The Zong by James Walvin

Friday, July 18, 2014

Malaysian Flight #MH17!

--What We Know About the Crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

--Malaysian Flight #MH17 was 3rd Plane Shot Down by Russian Terrorists This Week

--Official: 181 Bodies Found at Malaysian Plane Site

--Obama: Plane Shot Down by Missile, 1 American Dead

--Doomed Flight Likely Downed by Pro-Russian Separatists

--Sophisticated Surface-to-air System Needed to Shoot Down High-flying Jets

--All Walks of Life on the Plane:
A Malaysia Airlines vice president, Huib Gorter, said 189 of the passengers were Dutch. There were also 29 Malaysians, 28 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine from the United Kingdom, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, one each from Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong, according to the airline and officials in Australia and Hong Kong. Two passengers' nationalities remained to be confirmed.
For one Australian family, the Ukraine crash represented an almost unbelievable double tragedy.
Kaylene Mann's brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when it vanished in March. On Friday, Mann found out that her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed on Flight 17.

Read more here:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

War Movies...

--I'm not sure why I have a thing for war movies, but I do.  I think most of it is that I know at this stage that I'll never serve in the military, so this is how I see things through their eyes.

--It is the classic struggle between good and evil.  It is fighting for a cause and purpose and a country that is worth dying for.

My Favorites:
1. Braveheart
2. The Patriot
3. Black Hawk Down
4. Lone Survivor
5. The Great Raid
6. Gods and Generals
7. Gettysburg
8. The Civil War by Ken Burns
9. The Last Samurai
10. The Last of the Mohicans
11. Troy
12. Valkryie
13. We were Soldiers

1. Flyboys
2. Tears of the Sun
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. Flags of our Fathers
5. Letters of Iwo Jima
6. Blood Diamond

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Review of Sleepers!

--Sleepers is a story that will profoundly affect you.  When I first saw the movie back in the 90's, it had a powerful affect on me.  It challenges your views about justice and revenge.  What makes it even more powerful, is that it really happened.

--I am now in the middle of the book, Sleepers.  The movie sticks very close to the book.  Carcaterra had to change dates, names, places and people to protect the innocent.  There still has been controversy about whether the story is true or not.

--I find everything about the story to be fascinating.  I loved learning about what life was like for those that lived in "Hell's Kitchen" in the 60's.  It was interesting how the Catholic church made an impact on their daily lives, yet, couldn't curb the domestic violence.

--What happened to the 4 boys was horrific, it left me outraged.  Yet, just like their favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, there was amazing justice.  It doesn't happen too often in life, which is probably why many think the story can't be true.

--It was interesting to me that The Count of Monte Cristo was also mentioned in another favorite movie/book of mine, Shawshank Redemption.

--Anyway you look at it, both the book and the movie are well worth your time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ted Bundy-Serial Killer Profile #1

--I have always been interested in true crime and serial killers in specific.  I blame my Mother for this, since she has the same fascination.  It must be passed on from Mother to daughter because my daughter is the same.  She recently wrote a research paper on serial killers for school.

--Therefore, I decided it would be good idea to do some more in-depth research and start writing some profiles.

--Ted Bundy is one of the more notorious serial killers.  There were a lot reasons for this.  He was young, charming and loved the spotlight, choosing to represent himself during his trials.  All of his victims were young and beautiful.

--He was a notorious liar, so some of the details about who he killed are still in doubt, since he confessed different things to different people.

--He confessed to 30 murders, 20 of which are verified, but he is suspected of killing many more
--He murdered women in 6 states--Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Idaho & Florida
--He escaped from prison twice
--He attacked 6 women in Florida after he escaped, 3 were murdered and 3 survived
--He represented himself during his trials, proving that a "man who represents himself has a fool for a client".
--The reasons/motive for killing have been attributed to his resentment towards his mother (who stuck by him to the very end), and that all the women he murdered looked similar to a girlfriend who devastated him by breaking up with him.
--He never knew the identity of his biological father, there is some suspicion that his grandfather was his real father, but this was never verified.
--His first victim is suspected to be Ann Marie Burr who was only 8 years old, he was only 14/15 at the time.  She disappeared on August 31, 1961, Ted was her paper boy and there were several other connections that make it very likely he was the killer.  He confessed to Detective Keppel that there were, "some murders" that he would "never talk about", because they were committed "too close to home", "too close to family", or involved "victims who were very young".

Books I've Read about Bundy:
--Ted and Ann: The Mystery of a Missing Child and her Neighbour Ted Bundy--Rebecca Morris
--The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story--Ann Rule

Monday, July 14, 2014

Africa in Review!

--Since, I am back to blogging on a regular basis, I thought it would be good to reflect on what I have blogged about for the past 9 years, starting back in 2005.

 --Monday is Africa day, so, I thought I would post some of my previous posts on Africa.

 --I went to Senegal, West Africa in 2011.  It was an amazing trip, the above picture is just one of many from that trip.

--I think I'm going to continue my series of doing a profile on the different countries in Africa.

--I am Going to Senegal, West Africa
--Senegal ABC's

--The Lost Boys of Sudan!
--Pray for Peace for Sudan
--Sudan--Global Day of Prayer!
--Horrific Flogging of Woman in Sudan!
--President Bush Fed up with UN's Lack of Action on Darfur
--Genocide in Darfur
--A review of Attack on Darfur

--Going After Terrorists in Somalia 
--A Review of The True Story of Black Hawk Down


--Kisses from Katie