human rights activist
An American missionary priest, killed in Guatemala in 1981, has moved a step closer to being named a Catholic saint, after Pope Francis declared him the first-ever American martyr.
The Rev. Stanley Rother, a priest from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, served for nearly 15 years in Guatemala before being shot dead, during the country’s bloody civil war that divided the country from 1960 to 1996.
Broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West just wrapped up their 18-city "Poverty Tour." The aim of their trip, which traversed through Wisconsin, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and the Deep South was to "highlight the plight of the poor people of all races, colors, and creeds so they will not be forgotten, ignored, or rendered invisible." Although the trip has been met with a fair amount of criticism, the issue of poverty's invisibility in American media and politics is unmistakable. The community organizations working tirelessly to help America's poor deserve a great deal more attention than what is being given.
The main attack against the "Poverty Tour" is Smiley and West's criticism of Obama's weak efforts to tackle poverty. For me though, what I would have liked to see more is the collection of stories and experiences from the people West and Smiley met along their trip. The act of collective storytelling in and of itself can be an act of resistance.
Please keep in your prayers those who are fasting and praying at the U.S. capitol between January 11 to 21, keeping vigil for the closing of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo. As an opening to their prayer vigil Wednesday, they engaged in a little prophetic street theater in front of the Justice Department.
In August 2007, candidate Obama promised to close Guantanamo, saying, "As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists."
In January 2009, one of President Obama's first official acts was to sign an executive order promising to close Guantanamo within one year. "This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard," he said.
I have been an international human rights activist and lobbyist for 31 years in Washington. There have been times when issues I cared about and worked hard on simply didn't bear fruit, and I wonder at those times if I've just been at this too long. Congress adjourning in October without passing the Child Protection Compact Act (S3184/HR2737) was one of those down-in-the-dumps times!
The CPCA would provide additional authority and funding for the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) to designate "focus countries" and reach an agreement with them on the eradication of child trafficking. "Child Protection Compacts" would open the door to multi-year funding to help countries rescue victims and prosecute and convict perpetrators.
Google's vow to pull out of China last month was partly based on the discovery that human rights activists' Gmail accounts had been hacked into, purportedly by Chinese intelligence. As a human rights advocate, this is worrying news for all who seek to fight for justice around the world.