WTF Friday, 12/10/2010

Sarah Palin will be visiting Haiti this weekend with the relief group “Samaritan’s Purse.” The name of this organization is equal parts brilliant and disturbing. I’m leaning towards disturbing as I doubt a Palin-affiliated charity would possess any more self-awareness than the woman herself.

Putin “slams” US for Assange arrest warrant in an effort to demand freedom of pr….nevermind it’s just to get them back for shit-talking Russia. False alarm.

And, from the “not an ‘Onion’ article” department, Mogadishu gets its “first tourist.”

WTF Friday, 8/27/10 and 9/3/10

I purposely withheld last week’s WTF Friday just to hit you guys with a double whammy this week.

8/27/10
Omar al-Bashir made a surprise appearance at the celebration for Kenya’s new constitution. The ICC has reported Kenya to the UN Security Council, but in the words of Kenya’s foreign affairs minister, “He is a state guest. You do not harm or embarrass your guest. That is not African.” Well thank you, Miss Manners.

Africa: Land of Rape and UN Condemnation of Rape

In non-African rape news, the rape of a transgender woman in the Vietnamese province of Quang Binh may not be prosecuted. The judicial authorities in Quang Bin province are apparently under the impression that rape law in Vietnam only covers the rape of women by men, and “the victim had not reclassified her legal gender from male to female.” According to the chief judge of the provincial People’s Court, “Even if the group raped her ten times, we would not be able to sentence them.” I sure hope the perpetrators haven’t seen that quote! (Vietnamese law actually says nothing about the gender of rape victims or perpetrators.)

Double secret reverse genocide in the DRC? Say it ain’t so, Pauly K.! (via FP Passport).

9/3/10
I don’t think it’s premature to name this photo the “Cutest/Saddest of the Pakistan Flood.” Disaster porn at its finest.

I find it kind of unfortunate that the Football Association elections in Sudan seem to have been run more fairly than the actual elections. And that the Sudanese government seems to take FIFA more seriously than the ICC. Just saying.

So Wyclef seems to be taking his disqualification from the Haitian Presidential Election well: “‘Do you intend to continue supporting people who have no respect for Haiti’s Constitution?’ read the message on his Twitter account, which was later translated into English. ‘Do you continue to support people violating the right of the person who [do] not believe in the value of mankind, that every man is a man, and everybody has to live decently?’” And of course, he’s dropped a protest song and video in record time. This whole thing is starting to make more sense to me now that I realized Wyclef is dropping a new album on December 4 (less than a week after the election) featuring two songs with “Haiti” or “Haitian” in the title, another called “Political Correctness,” and I believe an album cover in which the Haitian flag is wrapped around his head. In fact, and I am definitely delving into conspiracy theory here, his last 3 albums seem to be quite a bit more Haiti-centric than his earlier offerings. Has he been planning this since 2004? I think I need to find a new internship/use for my brain.

Lastly, Fidel Castro has issued an apology and taken responsibility for the discrimination faced by homosexuals during his time as President. He claims to have been too busy with food, medicine, the CIA, traitors, etc, to worry about homosexuality, which wasn’t decriminalized until 1979. You gotta make time to worry about rights and stuff, dude. I take like a whole 45 minutes out of my schedule every week!

WTF Friday, 8/6/10

- More on this Wyclef-Jean-running-for-President-of-Haiti thing. The LA Times seems to be baiting a wtf with this headline. There are also some concerns floating around:

  • “First, he doesn’t know how the state works. He hasn’t any knowledge of the political parties. This is not a good thing for democracy in Haiti.”
  • “Jean, who has not lived permanently in Haiti for about 30 years, doesn’t speak French, and his Creole is far from flawless.”
  • “His announcing on ‘ Larry King‘ is very peculiar. I don’t think the U.S. public is voting.”
  • “Who’s going to vote for that … ? What the hell does Wyclef know about politics? That’s why Aristide [a former priest] messed up the country, because they put in a preacher as president.”

- In one of this biggest philanthropy stories of all time, 40 billionaires have agreed to give at least half of their money to charity. Among the heavy-hitters are Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas, David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, and T. Boone Pickens, who I’m pretty sure is actually just a character from “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The “catch” is that they can wait until they die to give it away. So really we should be thanking their kids and significant others, no?

- After a (totally expected) poor showing at the World Cup, North Korea’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, has been expelled from the Worker’s Party, publicly ridiculed, and forced to work construction. Now the former coach has apparently somehow “betrayed” Kim Jong-un, the Dear Leader’s youngest son. What that exactly means is unclear, but I don’t have to spell out how that might turn out for Kim Jong-hun. I guess the lesson here is don’t take a job in North Korea where there is any chance of failing in any way.
- Lastly, the Indonesian Government has undertaken the basically impossible task of banning internet porn in time for Ramadan, which starts on August 11. The effort was sparked by the release of a sex tape allegedly featuring Indonesian celebrities that could lead to jail time for the parties involved. Valens Riyadi, the guy put in charge of the outlandish plan, says he can maybe block like 10 percent of sites by that time. Hasn’t anyone one told them…?

WTF Friday, 7/30/10

  • Found this list of dictator’s favorite movies. Pretty entertaining but I wish they would elaborate on Kim Jong-Il’s love for Barbara Streisand. Can’t leave me hanging on that! Also: Stalin tried to kill John Wayne?!?
  • In a case of art imitating life, Wyclef Jean may run for President of Haiti. The fact that he has never really consistently lived in Haiti may be a roadblock, but if he is able to run, he is apparently, like, the most popular person in the country. He should take caution, though. His cousin and former bandmate, Pras Michel, once threatened to “personally assassinate” former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide if he were to return to Haiti after stealing public funds. Clef would do well to keep his hands out of the cookie jar…
  • Dmitry Medvedev has passed a law granting more power to the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB. Political analyst Yulia Latynina has stated that, “In case a drunken FSB officer is shooting at you – and there have been many such cases – you might end up getting jailed 15 days for merely trying to escape.” It is unclear from the article how true this could be, but what is clear is that Vladimir Putin can pull off a mean Judo throw.
  • And for your viewing pleasure, here’s the terrifying music video for “Another Brick in the Wall (Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone).” I smell a hit.

WTF Friday, 7/9/10

  • Wronging Rights reader Ari found this at an “anti-genocide and other egregious violations of human rights” fundraiser. Lol good spot, Ari!
  • When people describe vuvuzelas, this is not the kind of “buzz” they are talking about. (It took me a long time to decide if I was actually going to publish that terrible pun on the Internet. Really just a minute but thats forever in “Internet time.”)
  • Bill Clinton has committed the next three years to “rebuilding” Haiti, prompting Esquire to call him for better or worse, the “CEO of the leaderless nation.” I guess we can now add “CEO” to the list of outrageously patronizing descriptors that includes such mainstays as “savior” and “Bono.”

WTF Friday, 6/18/2010

  • Anyone who watched the Brazil-North Korea match already knows about these things, but they bear repeating. Kim Jong-Il has invented an invisible phone to communicate with the North Korean coach, and also paid Chinese people to pretend to be North Korean fans. Truly insane stuff.
  • About 400,000 people, primarily ethnic Uzbek’s, have fled their homes in Kyrgyzstan to avoid violence. There have also been many reports of sexual violence.
  • Here is Phillip Wenger, Health Adviser for Concern Worldwide US, and contributing author at the Huffington Post: “My first impression is that Haiti seems, on the surface at least, similar to West Africa. There is such vibrancy here and resilience among the people — but, just under the surface, there must also be a lot of pain and loss.” Thank you for this vague and ultimately useless comparison.
  • For the second year in a row, no one has been awarded the Mo Ibrahim prize. I’m beginning to suspect that this dude might have been hit by the recession and doesn’t want to cough up $5m every year. Somebody tell me I’m wrong.

Leggings to the Rescue!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Amanda and I suggested that the key to raising the profile of your pet human rights issue is to convince the public that it is caused by overconsumption of a consumer good? We offered up “leggings, noise-canceling headphones, handlebar mustaches, and ironic burlesque” as lifestyle items as-yet-unassociated with the violation of anyone’s right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of whatever.

Sadly for those of you who may still have been weighing the benefits of blaming maternal mortality in Burkina Faso on handlebar mustaches vs. capri-length leggings, you’ve just lost an option. (Perhaps consider a female reproductive health tie in with Apple’s unfortunately-menstrual-sounding iPad, instead?) Leggings have just commenced a daring bid to get themselves off of the “potentially rights-violative hipster luxury goods” list and onto the “buying this crap makes you a better person” list (along with t-shirts, thong underwear, jewelry, and pet-food bowls).

With the help of Lindsay Lohan, the leggings pictured on the right are going to save the children of Haiti. If your response to this is “gah, but… why?” then I invite you to consider the final sentence of the product description:

“This stretch Silver Poly Spandex legging looks amazing under a mini dress or alone as a sexy pant!”

Our girl Lindsay has spent the last several years of her life fighting a losing battle to convince the world that leggings are pants. A zillion paparazzi shots of herself with woefully inadequate leg/ass coverings didn’t do the trick, but maybe, just maybe, strategically leveraging the tragic plight of Haiti’s child earthquake victims will. Clever move, Lohan.

P.S. Legging aren’t pants. They just aren’t.

P.P.S. Hattip to alert reader Monique Whitaker.

Breaking News: Haitians Granted TPS

At 5 P.M. this evening, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that she was extending TPS to all Haitians currently in the United States:

“As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to assist Haiti following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, I am announcing the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery. [. . .] Haitians in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for TPS should call USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283.”

We here at Wronging Rights HQ applaud the decision, and are very pleased that it was made so quickly.

(On a more personal note, we were deeply moved by the response to yesterday’s TPS post. Many, many of you let us know that you took immediate action, forwarded the request on to others, twittered it, wrote about it, signed petitions, and otherwise got involved. Likewise, the many immigrants’ rights groups who took the lead on advocating for TPS deserve praise for acting quickly, and getting results. This was the opposite of badvocacy. Nicely done.)

The Earthquake in Haiti: Another Way to Help

The situation in Haiti after Tuesday’s earthquake continues to defy any description other than “very, very bad.” Our thoughts are with the people in Haiti who have lost their lives, families, homes, and national treasures, as well as the many aid workers and UN officials who have been caught up in this tragedy.

If you want to give money, Chris Blattman and Laura Freschi both have good ideas and useful information. However, if you can’t give as much as you would like, or find yourself wanting to do more, then I have one further suggestion: contact the White House and tell them that you support granting Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) immediately.

TPS is a form of temporary humanitarian immigration relief given to nationals of countries that have suffered severe disasters, natural or man-made. (For example, El Salvador got TPS was after the country was hit by a terrible earthquake in 2001, Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and Burundi, Liberia, Sudan, and Somalia were designated because of ongoing armed conflicts.)

Once a country has been given TPS, its nationals who are in the United States can apply for work authorization (a very useful thing to have if, say, one needs to send money home to family members in need of medical care or a house that has not been reduced to rubble), can’t be deported or put into immigration detention (also quite handy if you’re trying to work and send money home), and can apply for travel authorization, which allows them to visit their home country and return to the US, even if they wouldn’t otherwise have a visa that would allow them back into the country (incredibly important if you have loved ones who have been badly hurt and need to visit them, or if you need to go home to attend funerals).

Designating Haiti for TPS status would provide an immediate, tremendously valuable benefit to Haitian immigrants in the United States. But, more importantly it would benefit their loved ones who remain in Haiti and are in desperate need of their assistance. TPS would increase and stabilize remittances at a time when they are absolutely vital. Equally significantly, especially in the quake’s immediate aftermath, it would allow immigrants to return to Haiti to find and help their loved ones, or to mourn those who they have lost, without jeopardizing their ability to return to the United States and support their surviving family members.

To express your support, contact the White House here. (Note from Kate: This is the White House’s generic “tell us a thing” form, so you’ll need to select “I have a policy comment” on the subject drop-down menu, choose “Immigration” from the drop-down menu that appears below and then write something to the effect of “I am writing to express my strong support for granting TPS to Haitians in the aftermath of the 1/13/10 earthquake” for the message content.)

If you’re interested in doing more, I suggest contacting the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and the offices of Representatives Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, or Mario Diaz-Balart, who have sent a joint letter to President Obama urging him to grant Haiti TPS Status.

Update: Sarah from Amnesty USA noted in the comments that several organizations have set up online petitions urging the Obama administration to grant TPS. USCRI’s is here, CREDO’s is here, Change.org’s is here. Apparently Amnesty’s will be up very soon, so you should keep an eye on their site here.