Texas Liberal

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Obama And Clinton Must Maintain Human Rights Pressure On China

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while on a tour of Asia,  has said that human rights issues in China should not interfere with areas of possible cooperation with China. Secretary Clinton mentioned climate change and the global economic downturn as other issues in U.S.–China relations.

As important as these issues are, how can the freedom of over a billion people not be at the top of the Obama-Clinton agenda for our China policy? 

Here is what Amnesty International says about Mrs. Clinton’s remarks–

“T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, made the following statement in response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments to reporters that human rights will not be at the top of her agenda in her first visit to China”

“Amnesty International is shocked and extremely disappointed by U.S. Secretary Clinton’s comments that human rights will not be a priority in her diplomatic engagement with China.

“The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues. But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future U.S. initiatives to protect those rights in China.

“The Chinese people face a dire situation. Crackdowns on Tibetans, Uighurs and religious groups such as the Falun Gong are widespread, resulting in thousands of political prisoners–some of whom have been executed. Half a million people are currently in labor camps. Women face forced abortion and sterilization as part of China’s enforcement of its one-child policy.

“It’s not too late for Secretary Clinton to do the right thing for the Chinese people. Amnesty International urges Secretary Clinton to repair the damage caused by her statement and publicly declare that human rights are central to U.S.-China relations before she leaves Beijing.”

I agree with Amnesty’s view of this question. I hope that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will reflect further on this concern and choose a more just and decent path. 

Here is the web home of Amnesty International USA.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama | , , , , | 4 Comments

Eleanor Tinsley Thought Houston Was Important

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It can be difficult to take Houston seriously. Our  people and elected leaders often do not seem to feel the place has much value. The population is transient—of course a lot of the transience has to do with the need to make a living—voter turnout in city elections is low, poverty is accepted as simply part of Houston’s natural condition, there’s little sense of history, and the few civic-minded citizens sometimes don’t seem to care about the place outside of the inner-core of the 610 loop.

For all these reasons, I read with some interest the obituary of former school board member and Houston city councilmember Eleanor Tinsley. Ms. Tinsley died on February 10 at age 82. This was a person who seemedto really believe  that Houston was important.

(Above–Ms. Tinsley watching a billboard being torn down in January of this year.  Ms. Tinsley despised billboards.) 

From her obituary in the Houston Chronicle–

“The former Houston school board chair and city councilwoman died of cancer…. at 82, a dozen days after she was honored at a fundraising luncheon for the local branch of Planned Parenthood. There, she told the audience why friends frequently brought her turtle-shaped objects from around the world. Turtles were her personal symbol, she said, because they only get things done when they stick out their necks.

The critics who portrayed Tinsley as the raging queen of liberal causes, government over-reaching and the “nanny state” were hardly the most venomous of her enemies. Unidentified people threw grease, garbage and black roses on her southwest Houston lawn during school integration in the early 1970s, friends and former aides recalled Tuesday. Death threats forced city officials to remove her name from a reserved City Hall parking space in the early 1980s as she pushed for fluoridization of the east side water supply.”

If Ms. Tinsley could risk all that harassment over integrating Houston’s schools, why do we accept our city leaders today who are silent on so many basic questions of quality of life and social justice?

However, since I can only control my actions, maybe the message of Ms. Tinsley’s life is that I should take Houston more seriously despite it’s many many flaws and absurdities.

I’ll think that issue over.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , | 4 Comments