Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Petition for release of young female Iranian prisoner of conscience


I have just signed a petition of Amnesty International for the release of 24-year-old Yasaman Aryani (shown in the photo). Like many other valiant Iranian women, Yasaman has been imprisoned for protesting against the laws mandating headscarves, and refusing to wear one. She was first arrested in August 2018, sentenced to one year, released in February 2019, then arrested again next month and sentenced to 16 years, together with her mother.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

University admission must be merit-based

 The US Department of Justice has found what has been common knowledge for decades, namely, that US universities discriminate against white and especially Asian-American candidate students, holding them to a higher standard. Because of the consistently higher academic achievements of these two groups, to prevent them from becoming over-represented in the student body, higher test scores are required from them than from students coming from groups with traditionally lower academic performance. To motivate the rejection of academically excellent Asian-American applicants, they are given lower scores in the "personality" assessment. To me, all this is textbook racism, yet it is defended as struggle against "systemic racism", whatever this is to mean.


I find this system mind-boggling. In my country, elite universities recruit their students by anonymous written examinations (high school grades are also taken into account, but are given less importance, because it is known that many bad schools grade their students generously). Gender quotas are used for all prestigeous study fields that would otherwise become feminized, but there are no racial or ethnic quotas. So we have proportionally fewer minority students, but the ones that make it into (and out of) the university are as good as those from the majority. My experience shows that this system works well. I'd recommend it to everyone (and I think it would be even better without the gender quotas). At least public universities, and also private ones if they use public funds, should not be allowed to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, personality traits, or any other non-academic criteria.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Ten years

Ten years ago, my brother died. I still miss him terribly. You cannot stop loving someone just because he has died. I still do not feel at home in the world devoid of him. Because it is a damaged version of what it had to be. My brother was of those people who make the world better. And there is still a void at the place of the life he had to live, the love he had to give in the years to come, and of all the nice things he would do.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019


One week after the official start of autumn, summer briefly returned. On the bright blue sky, the sun was warm like the smile of a loved one. I enjoyed the warmth and remembered a smile.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Dad of the year

Below are copied parts of a report in today's Yahoo!News.

"Baby's body recovered, three missing, after raft carrying migrants capsizes in Rio Grande

By Andrew Hay (Reuters) 

The body of a 10-month-old boy was recovered on Thursday and three other migrants, including two children, were still missing after their raft capsized as they crossed the Rio Grande in Texas, U.S. Border Patrol said.

The rubber raft flipped over on Wednesday night near Del Rio, Texas, and all nine of its occupants were swept away in the cold, fast-flowing water, according to the father of the dead child, U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement.

The father swam to safety. A Border Patrol agent jumped into the river and rescued his wife and 6-year-old son. The boy was given emergency care and then rushed to a hospital for advanced treatment. Another man and his son were found on the river bank.

The missing were believed to include the 7-year-old nephew of the dead child’s father, a girl and an adult male, according to the statement.

"What we’re dealing with now is senseless tragedy,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz said in a statement.

The baby’s body was found several miles downriver by a Border Patrol search and rescue team.

Drownings are common on the Rio Grande, which makes up part of the U.S.-Mexico border, as migrants try to cross on often overcrowded, makeshift rafts with no life jackets...

In the past seven months, Border Patrol has apprehended over 418,000 migrants on the southwest border, already surpassing the 2018 fiscal-year total. Most of those arrested were Central American families, many of them crossing the border in large groups that can number over 400 people.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 283 deaths on the border in 2018, ranging from heat-related fatalities to drownings... Migrant advocates say the death toll is far greater as many bodies are never recovered from deserts and the Rio Grande."

Nothing good can come out of emigration culture, i.e. regarding emigration to a more prosperous country as the default path to success, and those who stay and work in their homeland as failures. It drives people to emigrate at any cost, legally or not, and ultimately leads to deaths. At least, once this man's loved ones were in the cold turbulent waters of Rio Grande as a result of his poor decisions, he could try to bring them out, instead of swimming to safety himself and leaving their rescue to the Border Patrol. Moral: do not concent to a perilous journey if the man leading you is a coward and a loser. Of course, dragging one's family through deserts and rivers to cross a border illegally and earn detention is the sort of idea that comes exactly to losers, so wives should just say "no".

Friday, March 08, 2019

Iranian woman lawyer convicted for defending women

Nasrin Sotoudeh (image source: Amnesty International)

From a March 6 report by Jon Gambrell, Associated Press, via Yahoo! News:

"A prominent human rights lawyer in Iran who defended protesters against the Islamic Republic's mandatory headscarves for women has been convicted and faces years in prison, an activist group said Wednesday.

The conviction of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who previously served three years in prison for her work, underlines the limits of challenging Iran's theocracy as it faces economic pressure exacerbated by the U.S. pulling out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers...

It shows "the insecurity the regime has to any peaceful challenge," said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, which reported Sotoudeh's conviction. "It knows a large segment of the country . are fed up with the hijab laws."

Sotoudeh, 55, was convicted in absentia after she refused to attend the trial before Tehran's Revolutionary Court as she was unable to select her own counsel, Ghaemi said. The Revolutionary Court conducts closed-door hearings over alleged threats to Iran's government.

The charges range from her membership in a human rights group to "encouraging corruption and prostitution." That suggests her detention in part relates to her defense of women who protested the mandatory hijab.

Sotoudeh's conviction was not immediately reported by Iranian state-run media. Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran relied on information about Sotoudeh's case provided by her husband Reza Khandan, who separately faces a six-year prison sentence over providing updates on her case on Facebook, Ghaemi said...

One of Sotoudeh's clients in the hijab protests received a 20-year prison sentence, showing the sensitivity authorities felt about the case...

The hijab and chador — the flowing, all-encompassing robe for women — have long been parts of Persian culture. They became political symbols in 1936, when Iran's pro-Western ruler Reza Shah Pahlavi banned the garments amid his efforts to rapidly modernize Iran. The ban became a source of humiliation for some pious Muslim women in the country.

As the 1979 Islamic Revolution took hold, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered female civil servants to wear the chador. At first, thousands of women protested the decision in Tehran and Khomeini later said officials should not insult women who chose not to wear it — though he also called the chador "the flag of the revolution."

The hijab and loose-fitting clothing later became mandatory for all women in Iran..."

On March 8, my sympathy to Ms. Sotoudeh and the suffering Iranian women.

Update: Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. Amnesty International has a petition to free her - please sign if you care!

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Christian family tortures 7-yr-old boy to death for not knowing Bible verses

In April last year, 7-year-old Ethan Hauschultz from Manitowoc (Wisconsin) was killed. His photo above has been provided by his mother Andrea Everett. Because of alleged neglect and abuse, Ethan and his three siblings were taken from her by the authorities and put under the guardianship of their grand-uncle Timothy Hauschultz and his wife Tina. These two individuals, together with their 15-yr-old son Damian, are now charged for his death.

(Photo from wbay)

Timothy required the children to memorize verses from the Bible and, when not satisfied, punished them by forcing them to carry around for hours logs heavier than 20 kg. On the fateful day, Timothy went out and ordered his son Damian (then 14) to oversee Ethan's punishment. Because the 7-yr-old kept dropping the log, Damian "hit and kicked the younger boy 100 times, rolled the heavy log over his chest and stood on his head and body while Ethan was face-down in a puddle. He then allegedly buried him in "his own little coffin of snow"" (Damian's words to the investigators; he laughed). When Timothy returned and found little Ethan lifeless, he rushed him to a hospital but it was too late: Ethan died from "hypothermia and blunt force injuries to his head, chest and abdomen".

It is not easy to find this case in the news without explicit searching - it is buried, like Ethan himself. It should be front-page news and send shock waves all across the Christian world. And also in child protection services, who rip children from allegedly unfit parents just to place them under the care of monsters who kill them. In another US case from last year (the Hart case), two crazy women killed their six adopted children in a murder-suicide after starving and otherwise abusing them for years.