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Malcolm X and Maya Angelou in Ghana, 1964.

Malcolm X on his last visit to Accra had announced a desire to create a foundation he called the Organization of Afro-American Unity. His proposal included taking the plight of the African-Americans to the United Nations and asking the world council to intercede on the part of beleaguered blacks. The idea was so stimulating to the community of African-American residents that I persuaded myself I should return to the States to help establish the organization. 

We all read Malcolm’s last letter to me.

Dear Maya,

I was shocked and surprised when your letter arrived but I was also pleased because I only had to wait two months for this one whereas previously I had to wait almost a year. You see I haven’t lost my wit. (smile)

Your analysis of our people’s tendency to talk over the head of the masses in a language that is too far above and beyond them is certainly true. You can communicate because you have plenty of (soul) and you always keep your feet firmly rooted on the ground.

I am enclosing some articles that will give you somewhat of an idea of my daily experiences here and you will then be better able to understand why it sometimes takes me a long time to write. I was most pleased to learn that you might be hitting in this direction this year. You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful woman. You know that I will always do my utmost to be helpful to you in any way possible so don’t hesitate.

Signed
Your brother Malcolm 

(Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s memoir A Song Flung Up To Heaven)

The US may withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council

  • The United States is considering an exit from the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, unless it gets its way on a few key pieces of reform, Reuters reported.
  • According to Reuters, the U.S. will make its intentions known on Tuesday via Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
  • The U.S. is said to be reviewing its place on the council over its stance on Israel, Reuters reported.
  •  Just this weekend Haley wrote a critical op-ed of the council for the Washington Post claiming it “whitewashes” brutality. In the op-ed Haley noted alleged abuses in Venezuela, “whose government shoots protesters in the street,” and in Cuba, “whose government imprisons thousands of political opponents.”
  • She went on to write that “of course” the United States supports human rights, but that this council acts as a “showcase for dictatorships that use their membership to whitewash brutality.” Read more (6/5/17)
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Diego Luna speaking at World Oceans Day 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  June 8, 2017 

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At this very moment, genocide is occurring in Aleppo, Syria. We are being tortured, raped, slaughtered, and basically exterminated indiscriminately. There is no aid, medicine, food, or tools of survival. There are no hospitals, schools, homes, or any safe haven. There is no body or causality count anymore, there are too many to be accounted for. The White Helmets have officially announced that they are essentially powerless and paralyzed; they have stopped counting the dead, only stopping to wrap bodies in orange bags. Men and male children are forcefully being conscripted into the regime army or massacred in mass executions. There are official reports of women asking their husbands to kill them before being conscripted or executed in fear of mass rape and other atrocities they may face. Aleppo and Hama have suffered chemical attacks that have left seemingly unharmed children lining mosque floors dead. The about 100,000 people left in the city that haven’t died or been displaced are moving from one neighborhood to the other as regime and Russian forces close in. They are running only to fruitlessly go through the action, only to feel like they are trying: it’s of no use. The city is blockaded and there are ongoing airstrikes. There is no way out. There is no escape. This is essentially a cat and mouse game. There is no hope. We are literally asking God for divine help and miracles.

There are claims that “Aleppo is falling”; however, it has FALLEN. Russian and regime offenses have taken 96% of the city. Officials say that Russia and the Syrian regime have agreed to a peace deal and/or ceasefire, but live reports from Aleppo confirm it has yet to be implemented. The siege is ongoing. There is no going back from this. What has occurred these past two days is a genocide that was live-streamed to a world still in denial about our suffering. All we asked for was an end to emergency/martial law, yet we received six years of pure agony

Humanity has failed us. The international community has failed us. We are the worst human rights violation since World War 2. We are Obama’s and the UN’s Rwanda. Please save us. Call your representative. Donate to the White Helmets, Syria Relief, Save the Children, etc. Spread the word. Tell the truth. Do anything you possibly can.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, December 14th 2016, the Turkish-Russian peace deal and ceasefire has FAILED. Syrians have been waiting since 5 AM for evacuation busses and NONE HAVE ARRIVED. Regime and Russian forces have started shelling the city AGAIN.

Please, don’t forget us! This is not getting better, this getting WORSE. They have won. The city has COLLAPSED yet they will not cease their offense. This is still ongoing. This is a nightmare that will never end. We Syrians are trapped in this city with war crimes still happening! Please continue spreading the word.

UPDATE #2: As of Thursday morning, December 15, 2016, the ceasefire has (for the most part) been held. Preparations for evacuation are just about complete. There will be a safe passage from Eastern to Western Aleppo that the International Committee of the Red Cross will oversee. Evacuations should begin soon. We are hoping that Western Aleppo will react kindly to the under 100,000 civilians coming in from Eastern Aleppo and that it will be, for the most part, successful.

Just remember: surviving Eastern Aleppo citizens are being transported on busses that are overtly and excessively decorated with the face of their butcher. At least it’s a slight reprieve from the past couple of days. Please keep the residents of Aleppo in your thoughts and continue to spread the word.

UPDATE #3: First convoy of 1200 Aleppo evacuees have arrived at Idlib, of which 200 were immediately hospitalized and most in critical condition. A second convoy of about 1198 people has crossed the West Aleppo countryside and has just about arrived, as well. There may be a third evacuation convoy if all remains fairly unhindered.

Please keep in mind that remaining waiting Aleppo residents and even the evacuees are facing harsh winter conditions as homes have been destroyed and it gets brutally cold, especially during the night, in Syria. They are also facing extreme hunger. The Syrian regime is providing them with nothing more than transportation to Idlib. Continue to donate what you can and call your representatives.

This will be the last live update I can provide from Aleppo unless an emergency or crisis (more than the now usual) occurs or important updates must be made. Please keep spreading the word, supporting civilians in anyway you can, and remaining vigilant and informed on the crisis in Syria. International mainstream media failed us and many of you didn’t even know what was happening until you read this post. The Aleppo genocide was one of many crises over the past six years and will be one of many more. Keep Syria in your thoughts and prayers. Spread the word.

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Repealing Obamacare won’t just leave millions uncovered — it may violate international law

  • Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act — and leave millions uninsured in the process — are overwhelmingly unpopular with Americans, just 37% in favor of repealing and replacing the ACA.
  • Now, the Washington Post has reported that Republican lawmakers will face resistance from another powerful group: the United Nations.
  • In a letter sent in February to the State Department, as released on Tuesday by the Post, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva expressed “serious concerns” about repealing the ACA, citing projections that doing so would cause 29.8 million more Americans to be uninsured. Read more (4/26/17)

In December 1945, President Harry S. Truman appointed Eleanor as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and the following April, she became the first chairperson of the preliminary United Nations Commission on Human Rights, playing an important part in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She stayed on at that position until 1953.

In early 1952, she undertook a personal tour through the Middle East, southern Asia, and the Pacific from February through the end of March. She stayed in India for a month, and from that experience wrote “India and the Awakening East,” in which she celebrated India’s first general elections as an independent nation:

“Though India has far to go, she has made a determined and inspired beginning. This new democracy seems to evoke the kind of passionate devotion among its leaders that our forefathers had for the democratic government they were establishing here. Perhaps this is one of the great contributions the young democracies can make to the older ones such as ours. We have grown stale; we are inclined to take everything for granted. We find it hard to go to vote if it means we have to walk a considerable distance or if, because of the crowds, we have to stand in line to cast our ballots…”

You can read more about her visit to India and the rest of her remarkable life at the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers project, supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMMA WATSON!

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Happy Birthday to everyone’s favorite wizard, wallflower, UN ambassador, Disney Princess, and that time she was a burglar in The Bling Ring.