This article on the Huffpost, was quite fascinating. There's a monolithic understanding of Islam that doesn't quite do justice to dynamism of a religion that is practiced by over 1 billion. I'm grateful to the author for highlighting such an element in Islam in the US, though I feel that I'm rather put off by its link(the link to it said something like "dangerous new branch of extremist Islam, I understand that people have to click on it...). I've also watched a documentary a few years ago A Jihad for Love that covers the issue of homosexuality in Islam that was pretty intriguing. Further, there is another documentary that deals with transexuals in Iran which is incredible, for people that have yet to see it. It is incredible for the fact that it shows a side of Iran that many in the US haven't seen. One of my Iranian friends told me that a majority of Iranians have seen or know about this film. It is a definite must see.
Death Penalty in Japan
Being a Japanese citizen, I was often puzzled by why Japan never gets mentioned as one of the "industrialized countries," that practices the death penalty. Many, when debating the Troy Davis case, omitted Japan from the countries that conducts this rather inhumane practice. The number of executions conducted in Japan pale in comparison to even those conducted in the US, the methods employed are rather barbaric, archaic, and inhumane. Executions are carried out by hanging (Japanese criminal code 11.1, more here) and is usually dependent on the nature of the crime committed named the Nagayama Standard, which has 9 criteria ranging from prior convictions to social impacts of the of the crime (more here Japanese, English, another article in English)
The suprapartisan group Diet members for the abolition of the death penalty gathered on the 29th condemning the executions (article in Japanese), and the SDP party leader (in the majority coalition) spoke against the DPJ's continuation of the executions.
A tragic story, though one that shows the bravery and selflessness of a US soldier in Afghanistan. We pray for the family of the soldier and pray for the swift end to the war so that lives will no longer be lost, nor would it be in danger of being lost. Video here