December 19, 2004

Iran: Woman to Be Buried Up to Chest and Stoned to Death In The Next Five Days

Link: Amnesty International.

An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning in the next five days after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now writing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped.

According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.

The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”.

All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be carried out. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hajieh Esmailvand but changed the lower court's verdict from ‘death by hanging’ to ‘death by stoning’. Reports suggest that the Supreme Court has ordered that the remainder of Hajieh’s five year prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence can be carried out before 21 December.

December 19, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

George Bush TIME Magazine Person of the Year -- December 27, 2004 .

Person of the Year: For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes -- and ours -- on his faith in the power of leadership, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year.

An ordinary politician tells swing voters what they want to hear; Bush invited them to vote for him because he refused to. Ordinary politicians need to be liked; Bush finds the hostility of his critics reassuring. Challengers run as outsiders, promising change; it's an extraordinary politician who tries this while holding the title Leader of the Free World. Ordinary Presidents have made mistakes and then sought to redeem themselves by admitting them; when Bush was told by some fellow Republicans that his fate depended on confessing his errors, he blew them off.

For candidates, getting elected is the test that counts. Ronald Reagan did it by keeping things vague: It's Morning in America. Bill Clinton did it by keeping things small, running in peaceful times on school uniforms and V chips. Bush ran big and bold and specific all at the same time, rivaling Reagan in breadth of vision and Clinton in tactical ingenuity. He surpassed both men in winning bigger majorities in Congress and the statehouses. And he did it all while conducting an increasingly unpopular war, with an economy on tiptoes and a public conflicted about many issues but most of all about him.

December 19, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2004

The Smart Set

WHEN AMERICAN academics get to discussing new literary scholarship, claims Jeffrey J. Williams, a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon, the term "smart" -- in the sense of original, sharp, striking -- is the highest form of praise (as in: "I didn't agree with anything he argued in that book, but it was smart"). Yet this wasn't always the case, ..."

(Via Boston Globe -- Ideas Section.)

December 18, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink

World Watch - November 21, 2004 - Thanksgiving by Orson Scott Card

Worldwatch2 Gratitude is one of the hardest emotions to maintain or express. On the one hand, we easily give thanks for the most trivial services, trading the empty phrases "thank you," "no, thank you" with store clerks. The gratitude becomes a bit less perfunctory when we thank people who give us directions or hold open a door or wait to let us go by, but still the words come easily to our lips. On the other hand, those who have given us the most important gifts often hear nothing of thanks from us. Perhaps it is because such gifts come to us as if by right; they surround us like air, which we scarcely think of unless it's gone.

And when we do thank those who have surrounded us with gifts all our lives -- loving parents, kind and honorable friends and teachers, even strangers who work for the public good -- we become tongue-tied and express our gratitude in generalities:

December 18, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack