Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ever Lowering Expectations

After eight years of George W. Bush's assault on not only civil liberty but English language as well, it was reasonably hopeful that we were entering a new era with vast improvement in both fronts.

Well, there were changes for sure and some improvement but not nearly enough.

Not only Guantánamo detention camp is still in full operation, but the assault on English language has changed from mangled words to ignoring the rules of grammar and deliberate twist meanings of phrases.

Obama's biggest offense to date is still his most infamous arm wrestling with the phrase "too... to..." and I wonder if the new generation would ever understand how to use this phrase correctly after his ghastly incorrect way to describe faulting banks in need of bailing out as "too big to fail".

New, a new offense, minor one, admittedly.

Associated Press reported that Obama says he would resign if he were Weiner. San Francisco Chronicle detailed his comments:
President Barack Obama, increasing pressure on Rep. Anthony Weiner to quit, said Monday that "I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign."
I was once again incredulous.  I asked a friend of mine, who graduated from the exalted University of California, Berkeley with English degree and was told that though grammatically speaking, President Obama was wrong.  He should have said "if it were me".  But, according to my friend, that the correct way has been seen as literal, mannered and bookish and colloquially, people usually say it the way President Obama did, the grammatically incorrect way.

I was flabbergasted.  I think there is a debate in the nation regarding the lowered expectation brew generations of lower achievers.

One would hope that a president would have set up a better example.  Is it his hope that by speaking folks' language, therefore, more people would choose him to have beer with?

It is quite disappointing and disconcerting.

The assault on civil liberty and English language has continued.

By the way, happy Flag Day.  Or is it Flagellation Day?


Friday, June 10, 2011

Circumcision, Female genital mutilation and Abortion

This is getting weirder.  The progressive San Francisco residents are to vote on a measure to make it a misdemeanor to perform circumcision on a male under the age of 18 within the city. Anyone who ignored the ban would face a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

CBS News reported that:
Circumcision should be outlawed because "it's excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that's forced on men when they're at their weakest and most vulnerable," a leading proponent of the ban, 59-year-old Lloyd Schofeld, told Reuters.

Since circumcision is a ritual practice for Jews and Muslims, some legal experts say such a ban might prove an unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom, Time reported. But others say religions don't get a "free pass."
People argue against male circumcision like to link it to the female genital mutilation which is more universally condemned in the US.

However, I cannot see male circumcision as on the same level as female genital mutilation, because there are some benefits, however small, of male circumcision in preventing STD and HIV infection, while female genital mutilation does not offer any such benefits and the purpose of female genital mutilation was male control, rather than a covenants between men and creators.

According to World Health Organization (WHO),

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. Increasingly, however, FGM is being performed by health care providers.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

CBS continued that
The American Academy of Pediatricians says the procedure cuts both ways. In its official policy statement on circumcision - issued in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2005 - the academy said the procedure has potential health benefits, including reduced risk bladder infections and transmission of HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases.

But the academy said there were potential downsides to the procedure, pointing to anecdotal reports that circumcision can reduce men's sexual sensation and clear evidence that it can be painful and lead to complications like bleeding and infections - and in rare instances, to partial or complete amputation of the penis.

Given the pros and cons, the academy says "the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being" and that "parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child."
Care2.com reported that "Jewish groups are objecting to the fact that ritual circumcision of men under the age of 18 would be made illegal, despite the fact that it is, in the words of these San Francisco-area Jewish organizations, "of fundamental importance in the Jewish tradition." Male circumcision is also an important practice in Islam, although it is not compulsory."

Because of the inconclusiveness regarding the benefits of male circumcision and because of the cultural and religious tradition which doesn't involve the repression of a group people, it is hard to argue that government needs to step in the decide for caring parents.

In fact, the arguments the proponents of the male circumcision ban employed were very similar to those abortion opponents.

It is hard to believe that the very progressive San Franciscans would approve government to tell women that they should not have abortion, yet, many of them are poised to enforce a similar ban in the very spirit.

CBS News Image

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Notre Dame University's Quixotic Fight

San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Notre Dame alone among schools on China goods ban:
Notre Dame's campus bookstore sells "Fighting Irish" lettermen jackets, "ND" license plate frames and stadium cups picturing the school's leprechaun mascot. Not for sale: anything made in China. 

Ten years after adopting the policy, Notre Dame remains the only major U.S. university that forbids license holders such as Adidas to put the school logo on any product from China, according to groups that track college merchandising.

Notre Dame prohibits the goods because China, the top source of U.S. imports, doesn't permit independent labor unions, according to a college policy document. The ban is attracting fresh attention from Washington lawmakers who say China has begun a renewed crackdown on dissidents.

"What Notre Dame is doing is very, very important," Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. and chairman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees trade, said in an interview. "China is a particularly bad place to do outsourcing, and the American people are totally opposed to it."

While laudable, Notre Dame's policy may not do much to change a country's practices, according to Susan Aaronson, a professor of international trade at George Washington University in Washington. By staking out its own approach, Notre Dame loses the impact of many universities putting collective pressure on suppliers, she said.

"You have to have enough demanders of good labor protections," Aaronson, who writes about China and labor rights, said in an interview. Notre Dame's ban, she said, "is not a mistake, but it is likely to have little impact on behavior in China."

Sadly, I had agree that Notre Dame's ban itself, might not do much alone.  However, it should be an example for people to follow.  Anyone who uses an iPhone or an iPad ought to know the miserable working conditions the assembling line workers in Foxconn in China.

US and Americans are proud of our idealism and it will be up to every single one of us to demand our profit seeking companies to ensure the humane working conditions in factories working for our benefits.

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