Leaders Step up for Cyclone Victims

The people of Myanmar are still waiting to receive humanitarian aid.

Another week has passed. More opportunities are lost in providing immediate assistance to the people of Myanmar. While innocent people try to piece their lives back together after the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar authorities continue to obstruct aid. The lives and health of thousands are at risk.

Put pressure on Myanmar authorities to distribute humanitarian aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Myanmar may believe that it does not need to be responsive to its own people; however it does have to answer to the fellow member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Under the ASEAN Charter, member states, including Myanmar, are committed to:

  • Respecting fundamental freedoms
  • Promoting and protecting human rights and social justice
  • Upholding the United Nations Charter and international law

Myanmar’s actions to obstruct aid from reaching people desperately in need are in violation of the spirit of ASEAN’s work. It is time for the ASEAN member states to step up and show leadership in assisting the people of Myanmar. Call on ASEAN to urge the government of Myanmar to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, recently wrote an open letter to ASEAN(PDF). In it, she warns that “without immediate action by ASEAN leaders, the humanitarian disaster created by Cyclone Nargis and the deliberate obstruction to aid by the Myanmar authorities will result in further massive human rights violations, putting at risk the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of people.”

A natural disaster destroyed the lives of many innocent people. A humanitarian disaster shouldn’t be the reason they continue to suffer. Call on ASEAN to urge Myanmar authorities to ensure that cyclone victims receive aid.

Thank you for your time!

The Optimism Test

Take the Optimism Test!

Reply with your Optimism Scores.  I am looking forward to the results and after I get a few comments, I will show my own score.

 

Have fun! 🙂

The Joys of Reading

Pax Vobiscum, friends!

What? You say I am speaking in an unfamiliar tongue? Well, you would be correct. Pax Vobiscum means “peace be with you” in Latin. I learned this, as well as other Latin tidbits in my latest piece of reading.

Reading is a fun, engaging, and productive activity. It can take you away from the normal daily stresses that life throws at you while immersing your mind into a plethora of new words, new situations, and new characters. A book can give you exciting new topics to speak about with friends, but most importantly, reading gives you an opportunity to expand your mind in broad new horizons, perhaps allowing you to find unforeseen segments in your imagination that spark your inner beauty.

I am still a teenager, so I tend to like a different type of book than most adults. I still enjoy reading and connecting with fantasy related books. The glint of a sword rose high in the air, or the tension of a well-strung bow still captures the curiosity of my imagination. Stories of Celtic folklore, medieval battles, and forbidden love immerse me into the crisp pages time and time again.

My current read is the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead.

Before you read- no worries, I am not telling you any more than the prelude suggests:

In the first installment, named Hood, Lawhead reimagines the tale of Robin Hood. Based on detailed research, Lawhead places the folk hero (whom he names Bran) in Wales in 1093, at a time when the land was under constant assault from the new Norman rulers of England. When Bran’s father, the king, is killed in an ambush along with nearly all his warriors, the land of Elfael is overtaken and its citizens subjected to great oppression. Though Bran should be king, he has lost faith (in both himself and whatever God he once knew) and decides to flee instead. Through agony and adventure, aided by a ragtag group of colorful characters, his sense of justice grows, along with his commitment to leading the people of Elfael and his creative strategies for dealing with the enemy. Lawhead examines questions of faith from both sides of the conflict, so readers see Welsh monks praying for deliverance and Norman rulers asserting their divine right to the land.

I am also finished with the second book, named Scarlet. These books are a true joy to read, and I am looking forward to the final book, which will be released in 2009. If you like good fantasy novels, you need to check out Stephen Lawhead.

If you are reading this, consider yourself lucky. Back in the 12th century, reading was only known by the high lords and priests of the land, as well as the few lucky who were taught in high society. Reading is now almost something we take advantage of. It would do an inquisitive mind such as yours good to start observing the magical world of literature- if not already doing so (and I mean more than occasional blog posts and internet rabble.)

🙂

 

Staying Positive in Tough Times

Optimism

Staying Positive in Tough Times
By Roland D. Nolen

We all know that the economy is bad and things are tough! Many people are out of work and many more are afraid they will loose the job they have. Given this poor economic environment, it is crucial that you keep a positive attitude. The last thing you want to do now is get a negative attitude or become “paralyzed” by fear! Don’t be like the woman, who although she was doing well on her job, became so preoccupied with the thought of being laid off that it started to affect her performance. She stopped performing at her best level. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy; her “fear paralysis” did indeed lead to her being laid off.

How do you stay positive and motivated? Simply thinking and saying “I’m going to be positive and have a great attitude” doesn’t do it. Motivational quotes, posters, or notes on your computer or desk help, but they alone can’t keep you motivated. You have to work at staying positive and motivated … every day. It’s not easy. You have to take deliberate action to have a positive attitude. You can’t just think about being positive, you have to act!

10 Action Steps to Keep a Positive Attitude:

1. Don’t fall into the “misery loves company” syndrome: If you find yourself participating in a “pity party” at work, politely excuse yourself. These parties are a fantastic drain on your time and energy, and they don’t solve any problems.

2. Avoid “poison” people: You know who they are! They are the ones who are always complaining, being negative, or are quick to criticize your ideas. Since you may not want to totally eliminate them from your life, just arrange things so you only have to deal with them in small “doses.”

3. Don’t watch too much TV: When you’re stressed or feeling down, a planned few minutes of watching TV can turn into hours.

4. Spend time with your kids, family, and friends: Instead of spending hours with the TV, rearrange your schedule and give some of that time to family and friends. I have young kids who think I am the “human crane.” Pick them up, carry them, and twirl them, you name it, I do it. I must admit there were times when all I really wanted to do was just sit on the sofa, but my kids wouldn’t let me. The amazing part, though, was that I always felt better each time after being exhausted.

5. Take a half-hour to an hour a day to motivate yourself: Read motivational books or listen to motivational tapes. I highly recommend the following:
a. What Makes the Great Great by Dennis Kimbro
b. Over the Top by Zig Ziglar
c. The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield & Mark V. Hansen
d. The Power of Focus by Canfield, Hansen, Hewitt
e. Live Your Dreams by Les Brown
f. If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me by Robert Schuller
g. The Bible: Even if you don’t believe in Christianity, there is a lot of morality to learn within the Bible.

6. Take an hour a day to become an expert: I got this idea from one Jack Canfield’s tapes, where he talks about how you can take one hour a day to become an expert in your area or develop other marketable skills. You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to “cram” in new skills or expertise. An hour a day will get you where you want to be quicker than you think.

7. Try new things: Overcome the fear (i.e., fear of failure, rejection, or pain)! When you’re learning or doing a new sport or hobby, you don’t think about what’s bothering you. Last year, I tried snow skiing for the first time, and now I am hooked! Believe me, when I let one of my daughters (who had taken lessons) talk me into going down a “blue” hill on my first day, I wasn’t thinking about my “problems” while I was tumbling down half the mountain! My daughter later told the whole family how she had never seen anyone fall the way Daddy did.

8. Exercise: We all know about the physical benefits of exercising, but to me that’s just a side benefit. The real payoff of exercise is the mental stress relief. When you’re “gasping for air,” your thoughts are very simple. Most important, regardless of how badly you may feel when you start exercising, you will always feel better when you’re done.

9. Pray: It doesn’t matter what your religion is or beliefs are, you need to pray to ask for the help and guidance you need. I’m not an expert in this area, but I know it works!

10. Reward Yourself: Set small goals or steps, and reward yourself on each accomplishment. Don’t constantly worry or “burn-out,” take time to relax and “smell the roses.”

The key is to get your mind off your problems, and give yourself time to re-energize. The single biggest discovery I’ve made about staying positive is that you have to take action at your worst moments. When you feel so miserable that all you want to do is crawl under a rock, stare at the TV, eat ice cream, or sleep, that is the precise moment you either read (or listen to) something motivational, exercise, or spend time with your kids, family, or friends. Shortly after making this discovery, I was at church and as part of his sermon, our minister said “you may be having problems in your life, like financial or marital problems, that are overwhelming you, but when you are feeling your worst, that is time you need to pray and read your bible.” At that moment, I knew I was on the right track. There have been times when I had to force myself to exercise or read, and no matter how badly I felt when I started, it helped. Did doing these things solve all my problems immediately? Of course not, but they helped me to maintain the positive attitude I needed to keep trying. Above all else, remember that “this, too, shall pass.”

Author’s Bio

 

Roland D. Nolen is an author and motivational speaker on career success and diversity issues. He is the author of the book, Beyond Performance: What Employees Really Need to Know to Climb the Success Ladder. He can be reached at 630-665-4797, rnolen@core.com, or you can visit his website: http://www.rnolen.com.

 

Fight for Human Rights – Tear Down Guantánamo Bay

 

Fight for Human Rights!

Fight for Human Rights – Tear Down Guantánamo Bay

Today, May 15th, is Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, in which thousands of bloggers will write thousands of blogs dedicated to preserving human rights. The issue I want to focus on today is the unjust activities happening at Guantánamo Bay.

Guantanamo Bay Information

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States operated by Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2002 in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which is on the shore of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.[1] The detainment areas consist of three camps in the base: Camp Delta (which includes Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which has been closed). The facility is often referred to as Guantanamo, or Gitmo (derived from the abbreviation “GTMO”). The detainees held have been classified by the United States as “enemy combatants

Since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan, 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo, approximately 420 of which have been released. As of August 9, 2007, approximately 355 detainees remain. More than a fifth are cleared for release but may have to wait months or years because U.S. officials are finding it increasingly difficult to allocate places to send them, according to officials and defense lawyers.

Prisoners are held in small mesh-sided cells, and lights are kept on day and night. Detainees have rations similar to those of U.S. forces, with consideration for Muslim dietary needs. However on occasion many of the detainees have been denied access to the Quran for daily prayer, due to claimed “high security measures” and as a form of preparation for interrogation. Detainees are kept in isolation most of the day, are blindfolded when moving within the camp and are forbidden to talk in groups of more than three. United States doctrine in dealing with prisoners of war states that isolation and silence are effective means in breaking down the will to resist interrogation. Red Cross inspectors and released detainees have alleged acts of torture, including sleep deprivation, the use of so-called truth drugs, beatings and locking in confined and cold cells. Human rights groups argue that indefinite detention constitutes torture.

The use of Guantánamo Bay as a military prison has drawn criticism from human rights organizations and others, who cite reports that detainees have been tortured or otherwise poorly treated. Supporters of the detention argue that trial review of detentions has never been afforded to prisoners of war, and that it is reasonable for enemy combatants to be detained until the cessation of hostilities.

The Bush administration has declared that the Third Geneva Convention does not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters, since the Geneva convention only applies to uniformed soldiers of a recognized government. Jim Phillips of the Heritage Foundation claimed that “some of these terrorists who are not recognized as soldiers don’t deserve to be treated as soldiers.” Critics of U.S. policy say the government has violated the Conventions in attempting to create a distinction between “prisoners of war” and “illegal combatants.” A U.S. district court partially agreed with the Bush administration, finding that the Geneva Conventions apply to Taliban fighters but not to al-Qaeda terrorists. Amnesty International has called the situation “a human rights scandal” in a series of reports.

One of the allegations of abuse at the camp is the abuse of the religion of the detainees. The US government has claimed that they respect all religious and cultural sensitivities. However, prisoners released from the camp have alleged that abuse of religion including flushing the Qur’an down the toilet, defacing the Qur’an, writing comments and remarks on the Qur’an, tearing pages out of the Qur’an and denying detainees a copy of the Qur’an.

Suicides

By 2008 there had been at least 4 completed suicides and hundreds of suicide attempts in Guantanamo that are public knowledge. No information is available on the number of suicides of prisoners that are classified secret, or their suicide attempts. On June 10, 2006, three detainees were found dead, who, according to the Pentagon, “killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact”.

Facts:

1.) Lasting security and real justice for the victims of terrorism cannot be achieved without real justice and respect for human rights.

2.) Illegally detained in US custody at Guantánamo and elsewhere are not being released.

3.) Those held at Guantánamo and elsewhere, including in secret detention centres, are human beings who haven’t seen their homes or families for years and have faced torture and other ill-treatment.

4.) Indefinite and secret detentions are contrary to just human rights and are against international law.

5.) Each day that illegal detention at Guantánamo and elsewhere continues is a day too long.

Take Action

Tearitdown.org is Amnesty International’s global initiative to end illegal US detentions and a major online action under Amnesty International’s campaign to Counter Terror With Justice.

 

Take Action, Click Here!

For more on Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, Click Here!