Mary Shaw

Mary Shaw
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
May 07
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

Mary Shaw's Links

Amnesty International (AI) recently released a report on human rights abuses in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the August 9th shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.

The report, titled On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson, outlines the findings… Read full post »

Terminally ill 29-year-old newlywed Brittany Maynard is the new face of the right-to-die movement - a movement previously associated primarily with much older people.

Maynard suffers from a glioblastoma brain tumor - the deadliest form of brain cancer - and her doctors have predicted that she has o… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 7:02PM

China is exporting torture

Research by Amnesty International (AI) and the Omega Research Foundation has uncovered a "flourishing trade" in the "export of tools of torture by Chinese companies" which is fueling human rights violations worldwide.

A new report, titled China's Trade in Tools of Torture and Repression, alleges th… Read full post »

James Foley was a much stronger journalist than I could ever hope to be. Foley went missing in Syria in 2012, and it appears that he remained stoic right through the last words he spoke on video just before his brutal beheading by an Islamic State terrorist thug.… Read full post »

As LGBT Pride Month winds down, I am thinking about my encounter a while back with the now-deceased "Reverend" Fred Phelps, then head of the homophobic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist "Church", whose website can be found at Yes, that is their actual web address.

For decades, the Wes… Read full post »

By now you probably know that more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted last month by Boko Haram terrorists and remain missing. Some of the girls have reportedly been forced to marry their captors while others have been sold into slavery for $12 each.

And you may have heard… Read full post »

MARCH 9, 2014 9:32AM

I blame you for the snowstorms

This winter has been harsh and merciless, with record-breaking snowstorms, floods, droughts, and other weather disasters all across the U.S. And I believe the climate scientists who say that these extreme weather conditions are an expected consequence of global climate change.

Accordingly, I blame… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 3, 2013 8:59AM

American hunger and the Christian right

I have seen hunger, up close and personal, right here in the richest nation on the planet. And, despite what the so-called "Christian" right keeps telling us, I know that laziness does not explain why poor people are poor.

I grew up in a small, depressed Appalachian town. My… Read full post »

Thursday, October 10, 2013, is the 11th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty. This day was established by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty to raise awareness on the issues related to the death penalty and to ultimately abolish the practice worldwide.

Fortunately, there has been a… Read full post »

Jen Marlowe's newest book, I Am Troy Davis, was published right around the second anniversary of Davis's September 2011 execution by the state of Georgia. Davis was killed by lethal injection despite considerable evidence suggesting that he was innocent.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of po… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 1, 2013 9:31AM

Divorcing Wells Fargo

I first opened the checking and savings accounts, along with a safe deposit box, in the early 1980s, at Fidelity Bank. Then, through a series of mergers and buy-outs, it became First Fidelity, then First Union, and then Wachovia.

It was a good bank, with conveniently located branches and… Read full post »

On July 30, in a military trial at Fort Mead, Maryland, war crimes whistleblower Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy (the most serious charge against him) but was found guilty of 19 other charges. While serving as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, Manning had released hundreds… Read full post »

The jury in the Florida case of George Zimmerman has found him not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. So now Zimmerman walks free, and will likely be rewarded with book deals and other lucrative offers. And people around the country - and the world… Read full post »

On July 2, Amnesty International issued the following comments addressing the case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from a human rights perspective:

The US authorities' relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden's attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to aRead full post »

Wednesday, June 26, promises to be a big news day, for good or for bad.

First, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, both of which deal with same-sex marriage.

DOMA defines marriage for… Read full post »

On May 13, the Vermont state legislature passed a bill that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients whose suffering has become unbearable but who are capable of making an informed consent on their own behalf. Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated that he will sign the bill int… Read full post »

The Philadelphia murder trial of late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has now made the national news. Gosnell is accused of murdering seven preterm infants who were born alive during attempted abortions, as well as a pregnant Nepalese woman who died from an overdose of a sedative delivered by Gos… Read full post »

MARCH 3, 2013 10:47AM

The ex-pope and the holiness myth

So now Pope Benedict XVI has retired, and the cardinals will be choosing a new leader.

Meanwhile, sentimental Catholics and others have been praising the now-former pontiff. They call him a holy man. However, in looking back through his record, I see much that is downright unholy.… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 17, 2013 10:13AM

They still cling to guns and religion

During the 2008 campaign season, candidate Barack Obama was harshly criticized for pointing out that some small-town folks whose jobs have been lost can get frustrated and bitter, and sometimes cling to guns or religion.

His words: "Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress wh… Read full post »

January 11, 2013, will mark the 11th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

In 2009, just two days after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order calling for the Guantanamo prison to be closed within a… Read full post »

I propose two New Year's resolutions for the state of Arkansas:

1. Fully exonerate the West Memphis Three.

2. Reopen the case and find the real killer(s).

The world will be watching.

On Christmas Day, 2012, the documentary film West of MemphisRead full post »

NOVEMBER 25, 2012 10:19AM

American excess in perspective

Thursday, November 22, was the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. In addition to giving thanks for the good people and good things in our lives, we use the Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate gluttony, over huge turkey dinners with all the trimmings. We go into it planning to eat too… Read full post »

OCTOBER 28, 2012 9:34AM

The myth of the Christian right

GOP politicians and their followers love to play the Christianity card. They wave their bibles and wag their fingers at anyone whose behavior doesn't pass their sanctimonious moral judgment.

They call themselves Christians, but in Catholic school I was taught that Christians adore and follow Jesus Chr… Read full post »

September 21 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Troy Davis. Davis was executed by the state of Georgia for a crime he probably did not commit. Davis's original trial was flawed, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. His conviction was based solely on questionable… Read full post »

Russia may have made some steps forward towards social progress since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but it seems that President Vladimir Putin is doing everything he can to crack down on political dissent. And the new poster girls for this oppression are members of the feminist punk rock group… Read full post »