Yates & Insanity

I was listening to NPR the other day, and they were discussing the insanity defense being used by Andrea Yates attornies (a defense that appears to have worked). After listening to this, I was left wondering – what is the apparent connection of “doing God’s work” and insanity. Yates, by her own admission, said that she needed to protect her children “from damnation” as she apparently had a vision that indicated that at least two of her children were on a pathway towards sin. In November 2004, a mother who cut off her baby’s arms in God’s name, as she wanted to give her children to God (she was later found not guilty by reason of insanity), and earlier that year, another woman from East Texas was found not guilty (by insanity) by bashing in the heads of two of her children with rocks (again, by carrying out God’s will). The women’s attempted to murder her third child, but according to the mother, he just “wouldn’t die.”

Fallen Wiccans

It appears that the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is skirting the boundaries of the Constitution by not providing a religious marker on a fallen soldier’s grave marker. The soldier, Sgt. Patrick Stewart, is believed to be the first Wiccan to have died in the line of duty, and his widow asked for his memorial plaque to have the Wiccan symbol inscribed, like many other markers around that are inscribed with other religious symbols.

According to the Washington Post,

The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.

The article goes on to say that an initial request was made to include the Wiccan Pentagram in the Department’s listing of approved symbols nine years ago. Since that time, eleven other symbols have been approved, but the Wiccan symbol is still pending.

Source: “Fallen Soldier Gets a Bronze Star but No Pagan Star”
(Washington Post, July 4, 2006: Page A02)

I think they are on to something here…

It seems that someone out there is trying to address the ongoing health of our younger generation … finally! The people over at Life for Kids have developed a system that measures the level of physical activity that kids undertake each day, and then transfers that “activity time” to television time. It’s called the “Physical Activity Rewards System” and it doesn’t appear to be available yet. One wonders how successful it could be. (Thanks to Paul for posting this.)

HIV/AIDS Prevention (Part II)

Earlier in the week, I made a post about UNAIDS new report on the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic. Part II of this posting theme relates to the current activities occuring in New York city. The United Nations is holding a summit on HIV/AIDS prevention, with the intention of updating a 2001 declaration that provided the momentum for a worldwide campaign against AIDS.

According to the Guardian, “[m]ore than 140 nations are attending the UN summit in New York which began on Wednesday”, however it appears that the United States is opposing measures to reference homosexuals, prostitutes and drug addicts in the resolution as it provides for support in the use of condoms and needle exchanges. “The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents Muslim countries, vehemently opposes references in the declaration to homosexuals, prostitutes and drug addicts, saying these should not appear in a public document. The US is supporting the OIC.”

The OIC is also working with other mainly patriachal governments to reduce the requirement of signatories to “promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls,” and instead “promote and protect the rights of the girl child.” (Source: Washington Post). The article notes that “[s]ome observers see that as a subtle expression of patriarchy, which might be threatened if girls, too, were empowered.”