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Photoshop Attack on Israeli Women Cabinet Ministers

April 20, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

Two weeks ago, two ultra-orthodox Israeli newspapers removed the images of Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver from the recent photograph of Binyamin Netanyahu's new 30 member cabinet. The Tel Aviv based daily Yated Neeman moved two of the male ministers to cover up the women and Shaa Tova, a weekly paper, simply blackened them out. It would be screamingly funny if it weren't for the reality of limitations on women's roles in ultra-orthodox Judaism.

Mainstream Israeli papers had great fun mocking the incident, one headline from the Yedioth Ahronoth reading "Find the Lady." The reason for the removal of these female cabinet ministers is a thoroughly serious one from the ultra-orthodox point of view: images of women are a violation of female modesty. So immodest that campaign posters of Tzipi Livni, who nearly won the election running for the Kadima centrist party, were vandalized and defaced in areas near ultra-orthodox neighborhoods during the February election. The mere notion of a woman being in such a high ranking position in the public sphere is most definitely crossing the boundaries of decency, which is why the ultra-orthodox papers never mention Tzipi Livni's first name.
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Taliban's True Face

This broadcast, aired on Times Now, blurs the girls lower body. Most broadcasts did not blur the image.

Video of Girl Flogged in Swat Valley Causes Uproar

April 9, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

Video images taken by a cell phone last month in the Swat Valley have triggered outrage in Pakistan and shocked many around the world. The original video shows two public floggings by the Taliban, the first is a man flogged on suspicians of gay sex, the second is a 17 year old girl flogged for immoral behavior (reports say she refused to marry a Taliban militant). The images first appeared on Britain's Channel 4 News as part of a report on the Swat Valley by Paton Walsh and were later broadcast on Pakistani news stations. The girl, Chaand Bibi, is held face down on the street by two men, one holds her feet, one holds her shoulders, and another man delivers 34 lashes.

Since the video has been aired in Pakistan it has caused no shortage of anger among politicians and activists who opposed the peace/Sharia law deal that effectively handed over the Swat Valley to the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan).
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Afghan Women

Modified Digital Photo

Karzai Signs Away Rights for Afghan Women

April 5, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

A day after Karzai won his extension to the presidency, news broke out that he signed new legislation last month called the Shi'ite Personal Status Law in Afghanistan. The legislation essentially legalizes rape within marriage, forces a woman to ask permission to leave the home, to work, and to go to school (unless the woman was already working or in school and this right was part of the marriage contract), and women can not have custody of children or inherit immovable property from their husbands.

The news hit the press March 31, during the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, while leaders of the Western allies were discussing boosting the mission in Afghanistan. This was more than bad timing for Karzai who spent his time defending the law and trying to diffuse the outrage of NATO leaders: "We understand the concerns of our allies in the international community. Those concerns may be out of an inappropriate or not so good translation of the law or a misinterpretation of this. [...] If there is anything that is of concern to us then we will definitely take action in consultation with our ulema (senior clerics) and send it back to the parliament [...] This is something we are serious about." Karzai seems to forget the female parliamentarians in Afghanistan who opposed the legislation, who doubtless had no problems with translations or misinterpretations.
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Fields of Antidepressants

Digital Photo Collage

Killing in the Name of War - The Impact on Soldiers

March 27, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

I once met a man from West Virginia who lamented the deaths of the men he had killed. He was a trucker who gave me a ride over two decades ago from Modesto, California to Flagstaff, Arizona; a Vietnam vet locked without respite in moments he could not undo, trapped in a state of pitiable remorse agonizing over the faces of 25 men. "I remember each and every one of them," he said, then asked me to hold his hand for comfort as we traveled through the night and he talked and talked and told his stories and tried to ease the anguish that had crippled his dreams and transformed his life into a never ending quest to forget. Since returning from his tour of duty, he could do nothing but drive and remember.

When a nation sends it's children off to war, to fight whatever devil that may lurking in another nation or pounding on the borders of home and hearth, there is talk of soldiers being killed in action, of the wounded, there is even muted discussions about post-traumatic stress. What is never spoken of with any clarity, or the brutality of truth, is the undeniable fact that young men (and now women) are sent off to become killers.
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Frozen Embryo vs. Baby

Digital Photo Collage

The Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research

March 13, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

Is a frozen embryo the equivalent of a human being? This is the political, religious, or ideological question that lies at the heart of the stem cell research debate between those who wish to annihilate stem cell research and those who want scientists to pursue research that could lead to treatments for spinal cord injuries and a multitude of diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, cancer, congential diseases, and the creation of new organs for transplant purposes.

On Monday, March 9, President Obama signed an executive order to lift the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research, but the issues of what types of stem cell lines can be used and what types of studies will be supported is still unclear; the NIH (National Institute of Health) has been entrusted with the responsibility to make these decisions, and has been given 120 days to review both the science of stem cell research and ethical concerns.
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Text and Images: Property of N.J. Lukanovich or contributors as named