Category: Current World Events

Egyptian President Mubarak

President Mubarak of Egypt received the right, due to an emergency law,

to suspend constitutional rights, legalize censorship, limit any non-governmental political activity, and imprison individuals whom he pleases without any reasoning. This man came into office in 1981, and used terrorism as an excuse to use and extent emergency law; he’s essentially ruling Egypt as a dictator. Starting on January 25, 2011, protests against Mubarak was happening all over Egypt. Rioters and protesters wanted Mubarak to be expelled from his office, blaming him for human rights abuse. These riots gradually became more and more violent. Eventually, it came to a point where riot police using non-lethal weapons weren’t enough, in that the military was issued to suppress the protests. These protestors were stubborn, and refused to quit unless Mubarak resigned by Monday. In response to this, Mubarak claimed that he would not run in the upcoming election in September. However, people feared that he would use this time in between to select someone of his liking, restarting the cycle once more. However, to every story, there are two sides. There are some supporters of Mubarak who believe he’s trying to improve Egypt and believe the protestors simply want to overthrow Mubarak and bring chaos to this nation. Thus, there were multiple conflicts between these two groups, causing three deaths and hundreds injured.

Rioters wanting Mubarak to step down immediately

This news is very critical to read and analyze, because it relates to human rights and democracy, two elements Canada is said to have. Mubarak uses terrorism has a tool to extend martial law, which ultimately permits Mubarak to suspend all constitutional rights. In other words, Mubarak have reigned over Egypt as a dictator. While he was ruling, there was legal censorship, hardly any free elections and free speech, corruption, and accusations of police brutality. Plus, anyone could be jailed without any charges or evidence; in other words, you could be walking down the street, and a police officer could simply come up to you, hand-cuff you, and send you to jail. These occurrences in Egypt are a demonstration of violation of civil rights. Having censorship and not having any free elections disable citizens to view their opinions. In addition, the government hardly took action when the police was accused of being unjust and corrupt. And obviously, giving Mubarak the right to jail anyone he pleases is an offense to civil rights.  In essence, by using the emergency law to run the country to his pleasure, Mubarak have been essentially ruling  the country under dictatorship. Instead, Egypt’s government must change to a more democratic nation, so that the people are able to elect a leader who reflects the peoples’ views and values.


VSB chair Patti Bacchus

The Vancouver School Board is considering adopting a separate mini-school program in high schools for First Nations, so that more students would stay in school. According to Board Chair Patti Bacchus,  Aboriginal students are continuously dropping out of school; the numbers are increasing by the year. “Our graduation rates are very flat, are very discouraging. We hear too often students saying I didn’t belong, people didn’t understand me,” she said. This mini-school type program is hoped to be implemented in secondary school by September 2012. Ina Campbell is a First Nations mother, who has five children. She claims that this program should be incorporated into the school system as soon as possible, stating that the current education system doesn’t suit her kids. She wants teachers who understand the First Nations cultures and values. “I’ve been on a real fight to have my children educated with the same opportunities – to get an education – and I don’t see that happening,” Campbell said.

A mini-school program for First Nations may have help them stay in school

This new system may seem like a possibility for First Nation students to be more successful in school. However, if you look at this system in a different perspective, you are essentially isolating and segregating the First Nations away from the mainstream. By giving them this “special program,” the VSB is separating the First Nations from the other students of society. Plus, when learning in an environment with First Nations as classmates and teachers, and having the education modified so it meets the First Nations cultural and traditional needs, it will hinder the students’ performance at post-secondary. This is because once a student becomes accustomed to learning in a “special” environment with First Nations, they will have hard time adapting to the cultures and values of the mainstream society in both the work-force and post-secondary. In essence, by adopting this mini-school program for First Nations, you are both benefiting them in a way, while at the same time, isolating them from the mainstream, would could prove to be detrimental in the long run.

Stephanie Lozinski

A Winnipeg waitress was fired from her job as a server in a St. Boniface-area restaurant because she completely shaved her head off. Stephanie Lozinski, a Polish 21 year old female, did this on New Year’s Eve in support of her uncle drying from cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 weeks ago. Regardless of the fact that she wore various clothing accessories, such as scarfs and wigs when waiting tables, she was fired several weeks after she shaved her head, her boss claiming her appearance was “unacceptable.”

She believes this event to be quite unfair and disrespectful. “I think that women should be able to express themselves in any way that a man could and if a man can shave his head then I should be able to,” she reported. “Also, that appearance has nothing to do with job performance.” Lozinski doesn’t wish to regain her job back, but would like to spread the awareness of unfair treatment she received with others.

“I just think that what they did was inappropriate and offensive and if they don’t share my values, then I don’t think I should be working there.”

Lozinski reported this incident to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission but was rejected. The commission told her that the restaurant has all the right to fire her due to her “unacceptable” appearance. In addition, because Lozinski voluntarily shaved her head off, it does not concern human rights.

Arguments about such cases are quite rare, according to the group that represents Manitoba restaurant owners.

“I’ve been here for four years and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it,” said Scott Jocelyn, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association.

He advises that employers set a solid foundation and clear rules and regulations when hiring employees.

“I think it’s important that you lay down the groundwork on issues like this so that people understand there’s an expectation, and if something happens to change that, I guess you’re always hopeful that people can come to some kind of compromise that would work well for both sides.”

An example of a similar case is when a waitress in Owen Sound, Ontario named Stacey Fearnall, was required to take a leave of absence after she shaved her head off for a cancer fundraiser in 2008. This caused a huge uproar among the public, and thus, her boss apologized soon afterwards.

I believe this is newsworthy because this shows the sexism we are required to face in our current society. Both men and women should be able to shave their heads off without society criticizing the women for being bald.  Not only that, we have been discussing about human rights in our class and how sexism as well as racism is found so evidently in our society.

There should be no sexism in our society.

Now, this incident shows a bigger picture in society we are all indulged by daily: sexism. This is one problem society has faced, is facing now, and will most likely face in the future for a very long time. In this incident, Lozinski is just an example where she wants to challenge society’s sexism by shaving her head off for the support of her uncle. However, society disagrees greatly (her boss and the Human Rights Association) and rejects the idea of a women with no hair, and fires her.  This suggests how persistent society is upon its sexists rules and how breaking them could mean various consequences, for instance, being fired.

By reading this article, I have understood how sexism affects individuals in our society. In our classroom, we have discussed about sexism and how it affects society but I couldn’t grasp a full understanding of it until I read this article. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of how sexism affects people’s views and beliefs. The authors were able to report this incident with great evidence, such as the multiple quotes given by Lizonski. Not only that, I like how the author referenced to another similar incident where Stacey Fearnall was required to take a leave of absence after she shaved her head off for a cancer fundraiser in 2008.  By doing this, I can infer that society has been sexist for a very long time and a similar incident has occurred elsewhere and not only in Winnipeg. Plus, the article includes a statement from the executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association, Scott Jocelyn, saying, “I’ve been here for four years and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.” This shows that there are people who were surprised about how she was fired just because she shaved her head. In relation, the Manitoba Human Rights Association was included in the article. This gives us the perspectives from 3 people, Lizonski, Jocelyn, and the Human Rights Association, which made the article more reliable due to the various sources utilized, and not only 1, which may’ve made this article biased. If the authors only used Lizonski as the source, then it would’ve been a biased argument, where the whole article would discuss about her beliefs. But with the inclusion of Jocelyn and the Human Rights Association, the argument became more balanced where the perspectives from both sides of the story were shown.

Lizonski portrayed her aggravated feeling quite well in quotes, such as when she said “I just think that what they did was inappropriate and offensive and if they don’t share my values, then I don’t think I should be working there.” With these quotes, I was able to understand her pain of having society go against her personal beliefs. She is simply trying to support her dying uncle but society rejects it to such a level where she was fired, which I feel to be highly unacceptable. If men are not criticized for shaving their head, then I believe women should not be either. I am quite astounded how both her boss and the Human Rights Association have a similar view. Just because it doesn’t concern human rights doesn’t mean it’s ethical and reasonable. In my perspective, I believe Lizonski should’ve never been fired and continued to work regularly.

Now, the question really is: why does society discourage women from shaving their head? This is an interesting question, but I believe that because most female celebrities have long, luscious hair and people (society) wants to be as “attractive” as them, they pursue whatever they do. Not only that, advertisements and propaganda all display women with long hair, and thus society continues to act such ways. Plus, many people simply find women with long hair more attractive than women with extremely short/no hair.

I believe this is article is newsworthy because this shows the sexism we are required to face in our current society. Both men and women should be able to shave their heads off without society criticizing the women for being bald.  Not only that, we have been discussing about human rights in our class and how sexism and racism is found so evidently in our society and how it affects people’s views and beliefs.

Former Liberal Party Leader, Michael Ignatieff

On May 1, 2011, Canada voted for their government and their prime minister. Surprising results came out of the 2011 elections. The Liberal Party lost many seats, including Ignatieff’s seat, who after the election resignated from his position as the leader of the party. The Green Party, as a surprise to many people, received a seat this year. However, the most significant result of the 2011 elections was how the Conservative Party was elected as Canada’s majority government. For a very long time, Canada had a minority conservative government, but now, we have a majority government, which essentially means this party can do whatever they please.

Obviously, for conservative voters, this is a very good news. Finally, will things get done without any opposition. However, for all the other voters that are non-conservative, this means bad news. The nation they live in will not only be run on values that are different from theirs, but no one can stop them if it’s something extreme. This is outcome of having a majority government (i.e. things can be accomplished but at the same time, if they choose to do something drastic, no one can stop them). Prime Minster Stephen Harper, due to the outcome of this election, now has a huge amount of power.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

US Navy Seals

Osama Bin Laden is one of the most hated terrorists in the world, mainly because of his execution of 911. However, this man, after so many years, had been finally annihilated during a crossfire by the US Navy Seals in Abbottobad on May 2, 2011. Many think of this as wonderful, whereas others deem this to be something depressing. It all depends on which part of the world you are in and what values you have.

Osama was in his compound in Abbottobad, along with his family and some of his courier members. Osama had essentially a personal courier so that he could communicate with others without being caught. The US had been gathering intelligence on the whereabouts of this man by interrogating  other people Osama may know, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged operational leader of the al-Qaeda. Eventually, the US Navy Seals, along with the members from the CIA, were able to figure out the location of Osama Bin Laden. Once US President Obama approved of raiding the compound, within 38 minutes, Osama was killed, along with his 12-year-old daughter, and some of the members from his courier. Most women and children were secured and left to be dealthy by Pakistani police.

The death of one of the most wanted man in the world may seem like a victory to North America, but to Middle East, it seems like a day of mourning. The al-Qaeda responded to his incident by saying they will avenge his death. To many people, particularly in the Middle East, Osama was a hero figure, and having him die saddened many. But, of course, in North America, after the 911 incident, almost everyone wanted this man to die. In essence, values and one’s perspective is what influences the response of a major event, such as the death of this man.

Osama Bin Laden