Author Archives: Mary Shaw

China is exporting torture

Research by Amnesty International (AI) and the Omega Research Foundation has uncovered a “flourishing trade” in the “export of tools of torture by Chinese companies” which is fueling human rights violations worldwide. Continue reading

Rights groups react to the murder of journalist James Foley

James Foley was a much stronger journalist than I could ever hope to be. Foley went missing in Syria in 2012, and it appears that he remained stoic right through the last words he spoke on video just before his brutal beheading by an Islamic State terrorist thug. Continue reading

Remembering my encounter with Fred Phelps

As LGBT Pride Month wound down, I was thinking about my encounter awhile back with the now-deceased “Reverend” Fred Phelps, then head of the homophobic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist “Church”, whose website can be found at Yes, that is their actual web address. Continue reading

What you can do for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

By now you probably know that more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted last month by Boko Haram terrorists and remain missing. Some of the girls have reportedly been forced to marry their captors while others have been sold into slavery for $12 each. Continue reading

I blame you for the snowstorms

This winter has been harsh and merciless, with record-breaking snowstorms, floods, droughts, and other weather disasters all across the U.S. And I believe the climate scientists who say that these extreme weather conditions are an expected consequence of global climate change. Continue reading

Amnesty International USA says NSA revisions fall short

After months of revelations and controversy, President Obama has called for some changes to the NSA’s surveillance program. Continue reading

American hunger and the Christian right

I have seen hunger, up close and personal, right here in the richest nation on the planet. And, despite what the so-called “Christian” right keeps telling us, I know that laziness does not explain why poor people are poor. Continue reading

Troy Davis and family live on in new book

Jen Marlowe’s newest book, “I Am Troy Davis,” was published right around the second anniversary of Davis’s September 2011 execution by the state of Georgia. Davis was killed by lethal injection despite considerable evidence suggesting that he was innocent. Continue reading

Divorcing Wells Fargo

I first opened the checking and savings accounts, along with a safe deposit box, in the early 1980s, at Fidelity Bank. Then, through a series of mergers and buy-outs, it became First Fidelity, then First Union, and then Wachovia. Continue reading

Rights groups react to Bradley Manning verdict

On July 30, in a military trial at Fort Mead, Maryland, war crimes whistleblower Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy (the most serious charge against him) but was found guilty of 19 other charges. While serving as a private first class in the U.S. Army, Manning had released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks which exposed U.S. war crimes and other government misconduct. Doing so led to his court-martial. Continue reading

Racial profiling in the post-Trayvon era

The jury in the Florida case of George Zimmerman has found him not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. So now Zimmerman walks free, and will likely be rewarded with book deals and other lucrative offers. And people around the country—and the world—have been shown that you can shoot an unarmed black teenager and get away with it. Continue reading

Amnesty International says U.S. must not persecute Snowden

On July 2, Amnesty International issued the following comments addressing the case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from a human rights perspective. Continue reading

Vermont’s new choice for death with dignity

On May 13, the Vermont state legislature passed a bill that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients whose suffering has become unbearable but who are capable of making an informed consent on their own behalf. Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated that he will sign the bill into law. Continue reading

What the Gosnell abortion trial really shows us

The Philadelphia murder trial of late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has now made the national news. Gosnell is accused of murdering seven preterm infants who were born alive during attempted abortions, as well as a pregnant Nepalese woman who died from an overdose of a sedative delivered by Gosnell’s untrained staff. Continue reading

Jeanne Manford, PFLAG founder, RIP

I was saddened to learn of the recent death of Jeanne Manford, founder of an organization that eventually grew to become Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Continue reading

11 years later, Gitmo injustice continues

January 11, 2013, will mark the 11th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Continue reading

Two New Year’s resolutions for the state of Arkansas

I propose two New Year’s resolutions for the state of Arkansas: 1. Fully exonerate the West Memphis Three; 2. reopen the case and find the real killer(s). Continue reading

American excess is the American way

Thursday, November 22, was the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. In addition to giving thanks for the good people and good things in our lives, we use the Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate gluttony, over huge turkey dinners with all the trimmings. We go into it planning to eat too much, and then we do. No qualms about it. It’s what Thanksgiving is all about, it seems. It’s the American way. Continue reading

One year after Troy Davis, more injustice on death row

September 21 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Troy Davis. Davis was executed by the state of Georgia for a crime he probably did not commit. Davis’s original trial was flawed, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. His conviction was based solely on questionable testimony by witnesses, most of whom later recanted or contradicted their stories. Everyone from Jimmy Carter to the Pope had issued calls for clemency in his case. But the authorities killed him anyway. Continue reading

Vladimir Putin and the crime of dissent

Russia may have made some steps forward towards social progress since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but it seems that President Vladimir Putin is doing everything he can to crack down on political dissent. And the new poster girls for this oppression are members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot. Continue reading

Jefferson is spinning

As I write this on the July 4th holiday, 2012, it occurs to me that Thomas Jefferson is surely spinning in his grave. Continue reading

Can Edwards recover like Clinton?

On May 31, the jury in the John Edwards campaign corruption trial found him not guilty on one count and were hung on the remaining five counts. The judge then declared a mistrial on those other counts. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the prosecution will seek to retry him on those unsettled counts. Continue reading

Did Texas execute yet another innocent man?

A recent study by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review suggests that Carlos DeLuna, who was executed by the state of Texas in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez, was actually innocent. The study concluded that a man named Carlos Hernandez actually committed the murder. In other words, the so-called justice system had convicted the wrong Carlos. Continue reading

In abolishing the death penalty, Connecticut joins the civilized world

On April 25, with a stroke of the governor’s pen, Connecticut became the 17th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty and the fifth state to do so in five years. This reflects a growing momentum to end capital punishment in the U.S., which is the only major industrialized Western nation that still claims for itself the “right” to kill its citizens. Continue reading

Another problem with the voter ID law

Like several other states, Pennsylvania now has a voter ID law, which requires voters to show a photo ID before they will be permitted to vote. While the new Pennsylvania law doesn’t take effect until the November elections, voters for the April 24 primary were asked for ID as a “dry run“, although lack of an ID at the primary did not disqualify anyone from voting. Continue reading

Freedom of religion cannot be exclusive

In recent years, the religious right have moved even further to the right—to the fringes. Some have even expanded their war on women’s reproductive rights to where they are condemning contraception. They even held congressional hearings on the subject. This is despite the fact that 99 percent of American women who have ever had sex have used contraception, including 98 percent of Catholic women. Continue reading

Is Kony 2012 the right thing to do?

By now, most people who pay attention to the news are likely aware of the Kony 2012 film and campaign. Launched by the non-profit organization Invisible Children (IC), the campaign shines a light on Joseph Kony, a leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group that has terrorized Uganda since 1986. The LRA kidnapped children from their homes, and turned the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers. According to Wikipedia, “[a]n estimated 66,000 children became soldiers and two million people have been internally displaced since 1986″ under Kony’s brutal reign in Uganda. Continue reading

Interfaith coalition urges politicians to stop playing the religion card

If you’ve been following the 2012 presidential campaign season at all, you’re probably aware that religion is playing a big part in it. Combine a widespread distrust of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism with Rick Santorum’s rabid Catholicism and the still-ongoing whisperings about President Obama’s true religious leanings, and it sometimes seems as though the campaign is more about religion than it is about unemployment and the economy. Continue reading

500 U.S. deaths from police Tasers; Amnesty calls for strict guidelines

On February 13, Johnnie Kamahi Warren died after a police officer used a Taser on him at least twice outside an Alabama bar. The police had been called when Warren became disorderly and combative at the bar. Continue reading

21st century racism

As I write this on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect on King’s vision of a world in which our children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Continue reading

Obama signs indefinite detention into law

On December 31, when most U.S. citizens were distracted with New Year’s holiday plans, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This law authorizes the President of the United States to order the U.S. military to arrest and imprison terrorism suspects indefinitely, including U.S. citizens, without charging them or putting them on trial. In other words, the president could now arbitrarily strip you of your right to due process. Continue reading

Troy Davis’s sister succumbs to cancer

On December 1, Martina Davis Correia lost her long battle with breast cancer. Correia was the sister of Troy Davis who was executed by the state of Georgia on September 21 amidst worldwide protest. Continue reading