Justice rocks. Even if it comes a little too late.

Humanity is definitely starting to learn a little bit from its mistakes. Although it’s too late for the millions who were affected by the Rwanda genocide, it’s good to know that the ‘devil’ behind it is being punished.

Rwandan genocide mastermind jailed for life; survivors praise the ruling

By Sukhdev Chhatbar of The Associated Press (December 18th 2008)

ARUSHA, Tanzania – Rwandan army colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the architect of the 1994 slaughter of more than 500,000 people and the “devil” that a Canadian general tried in vain to stop, was convicted of genocide Thursday and sentenced to life in prison by a United Nations tribunal.

Bagosora was found guilty of using his position as director of Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence to direct Hutu soldiers to kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Bagosora is the titular figure of “Shake Hands With the Devil,” the chilling 2003 account of the Rwandan genocide by Senator Romeo Dallaire, who was in charge of the failed UN peacekeeping mission when the massacres began.

Bagosora’s lawyer, Raphael Constant, has said he will appeal the verdict within a 30-day deadline.

The court said that Bagosora, who had authority over the Rwandan military, was responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers who tried to protect her as she was killed at the outset of the genocide.

Bagosora, 67, said nothing as the verdict was delivered, and there was complete silence from the scores of people who had packed into the aisles of the tiny courtroom to hear the judgment.

His conviction was welcomed by genocide survivors, who still live uneasily among perpetrators in the central African country nearly 15 years later.

Some 63,000 people are suspected of taking part in the genocide, although many of them have been sentenced by community-based courts, where suspects were encouraged to confess and seek forgiveness in exchange for lighter sentences.

“Bagosora … is the person behind all the massacres,” said Jean Paul Rurangwa, 32, who lost his father and two sisters. “The fact that he was sentenced to the biggest punishment the court can give is a relief.”

Dallaire was a key prosecution witness in Bagosora’s trial. He described dealing with the colonel as having to “shake hands with the devil,” and described how his peacekeeping force of just 2,100 – with troops and police from 26 countries – was hastily assembled and poorly equipped.

Read the rest of the post here.

An inspiring story to get through some hard times

Let’s face it: things are not going well. However, to be able to get through them, we need on the one hand to stay aware of these stories and act on them, but, on the other hand, we also need to stay aware of the inspiring stories. We also need to remember that “This, too, shall pass”.

Good Health is a Precious Gift, by Katherine Macklem (December 15th 2008)

In his own words, Ted Rogers was sickly as a child. At his birth, his mother was told he might not survive more than a few days. He suffered from celiac disease, which meant he could not digest gluten. He had limited vision in his right eye—only five to 10 per cent. Doctors were relieved when he made it to his fifth birthday, but for much of his life, health problems plagued him. Yet, in spite of the ongoing concerns or perhaps, in part, because of them, Rogers was extraordinarily driven. “He knew he had limitations,” says Bernie Gosevitz, Rogers’ long-time personal doctor, close friend and confidant. “But he never let them stop him.” Rather than resign himself to a catalogue of ailments—after the childhood troubles, there was a weak heart, glaucoma, skin cancer—Rogers instead built Rogers Communications, the country’s biggest multimedia conglomerate. More importantly, he fulfilled a goal set at a very young age to restore the family’s fortune and reputation in honour of his father, a legend in his own right. In doing so, Rogers created a legacy that his children and grandchildren can be proud of. All this, despite being ill much of the time. As a child, Rogers was fed sugar pills—“which I detested,” he wrote in his autobiography, Relentless—in an effort to strengthen and to put on some weight. The hated pills weren’t terribly successful. He was painfully thin, prompting fellow students at Upper Canada College, where he boarded from the age of seven to 17, to nickname him “Bones.” In his book, Rogers recalls: “I was a skinny little fellow, but I was a fighter.”

Read the rest of the post here.

Zimbabwe: Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Mugabe is, after all, asking for it (literally)

You know what’s funny… Such arrogance from an oil-rich country would not have been tolerated by other countries. I guess Mugabe is doing us all a horrible favour by making us question why after humanity’s bloody history, we still haven’t done anything…

And quite unfortunately, I’m not exagerrating. Check it out:

Zimbabwean President Mugabe says no African country will topple him

Published by The Associated press on December 19th 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says no African country has the guts to topple him.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quotes Mugabe as telling leaders of his party that neighbouring Botswana’s calls for his ouster are nothing but hot air.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said today he will ask his party to halt talks on a unity government with Mugabe unless political detainees are released or charged by Jan. 1.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed three months ago to form a unity government but negotiations have stalled over how to share cabinet posts.

The political impasse comes amid a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis that has pushed thousands of Zimbabweans to the point of starvation and left 1,123 dead from cholera since August.

Clipping coupons? So out. Printing coupons? Omg, so in!

Here is a helpful little tip for, well, everyone (hello, economic downturn):

In Lean Times, Online Coupons Are Catching On

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER. Published November 26th 2008

On the Internet, nothing travels faster than a tip on how to score a bargain. Especially in an economic downturn.

With online retail sales falling this month for the first time, Internet merchants are offering steep discounts to anyone willing to punch in a secret coupon code or visit a rebate site for a “referral” before loading up their virtual cart.

Shoppers obsessed with finding these bargains share the latest intelligence on dozens of sites with quirky names like RetailMeNot.com, FatWallet.com and the Budget Fashionista. And more consumers than ever are scanning the listings before making a purchase at their favorite Web site.

Some online shoppers are so good at this game that they almost never buy anything at full price, making them the digital era’s version of bargain hunters who used to spend hours clipping coupons to shrink their grocery bills.

Tavon Ferguson, a 25-year-old graduate student in Atlanta, became obsessed with finding online deals last spring, while planning her July wedding. She scoured the Web for coupons and got free save-the-date cards, $8 bracelets for her bridesmaids and free shipping on flash-frozen steaks for the rehearsal dinner.

“I was able to do my wedding at a price that nobody would even guess” — $6,000, all included — “because everything down from invitations to the photo album, I got for ridiculously low prices with online coupon codes,” Mrs. Ferguson said.

More hints here.

Change it, change it all: various ideas that tickle the fancy

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a big proponent of change at all levels of society, and I came across an article that I found particularly interesting in that it challenged me to think in a different way. I like that, I really really like that.

While the subject might seem moot in a time in history when so many of fellow humans are suffering, the way we treat animals is often a reflection of the way we treat each other (maybe one day I will be tempted to write a whole essay on the subject; we’ll see).

In any case, I came across an open letter to Obama written by Sergeant Mike Dowling, who is a Military Working Dog Handler at USMC. The letter was interesting in that it challenged (very politely and with persuasive arguments) for the president-elect to consider adopting a military working dog veteran (who can forget that fateful election night, when Obama told his daughters he would fulfill his promise of a dog at the White House?).

Why did I find this interesting? Because by adopting a military working dog veteran who has served the country and needs a place to retire, the Obamas would be performing an act of service, not just indulging their children.

Personally, I am of the school of thought that, in most cases, pets are a waste of money, time and resources that could be put in a far worthier cause. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but really, spending so much money on an animal when so many are dying? It was always hard for me to accept.

But for the second time ever, I had to sit back and think about my attitude regarding pets. Not only are they ultimately a lot of fun to have, teach children about responsibility and bring extra cheerfulness into a household, but there are many ‘working’ animals who should be lucky enough to be taken in by a loving family. And I can say that this has opened my eyes in ways that no argument any of my pet-loving friends ever has.

Read the letter written by Sergeant Mike Dowling here.

And for those of you who are interested… The first time was when I realized how animals can be therapeutic for individuals suffering from various conditions.