19 November 2014

Today would have been Brittany Maynard's 30th birthday

Brittany Maynard chose not to live to see her 30th birthday. Instead, on November 1, she used Oregon's death-with-dignity law to end her life on her own terms with prescribed medication before her suffering from terminal cancer could get worse. As Maynard's mother recently wrote, Brittany made a choice "to die gently rather than suffer physical and mental degradation and intense pain."

I respect that choice.

As I wrote in a recent column, when a pet becomes ill to the point where it is near death or suffering uncontrollably, a veterinarian will not think twice before recommending that the pet be euthanized, to put the animal out of its misery. So why do we treat our dying pets with more mercy than we treat our dying people?

If there is a heaven, I hope Brittany is having her best birthday ever.

10 November 2014

This week, the U.S. must answer to the world on torture

Today, the United Nations Committee Against Torture kicked off a session to review steps by countries to prevent torture and punish those who use it.

According to Human Rights First, "[t]he United States is one of eight nations that will appear before the committee in Geneva to describe its efforts to fulfill [its] obligation to comply with the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Obama Administration is now making its final decision on how it interprets the treaty. The George W. Bush Administration interpreted the treaty as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas. That position drew bipartisan ire and was opposed by then-Senator Barack Obama." But that was a while ago, and I'm feeling cynical.

According to Prensa Latina, review of the U.S. record will occur on November 12-13, and will look at CIA secret detentions, Guantanamo, immigration issues, and police misconduct, among other issues.

Human Rights First also noted that "[f]ormer Nobel Peace Prize laureates and retired military officers are among those urging President Obama to make a clean break from the Bush Administration’s interpretation."

Will he listen?

I don't dare guess. But my fingers are crossed.

03 November 2014

Election Day resources

Tuesday, November 4, is Election Day in the U.S.

If you are registered to vote, please do so, if you haven't already voted early. Voting is not just a right and a privilege, I think it is also a responsibility in a true democracy. Even for the mid-terms.

And Vote411.org is making it easy. Go to their website here and enter your address. Then you'll be able to verify your registration status, preview your ballot, and find out where to vote.

See you at the polls!

And please bring some friends or family members with you.