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
JULY 4, 2012 10:50AM

Jefferson is spinning

As I write this on the July 4th holiday, 2012, it occurs to me that Thomas Jefferson is surely spinning in his grave.

When he and the other Founding Fathers created this nation 236 years ago today, their vision was of a society in which "Governments are instituted among… Read full post »

JUNE 3, 2012 10:03AM

Can Edwards recover like Clinton?

On May 31, the jury in the John Edwards campaign corruption trial found him not guilty on one count and remained hung on the remaining counts. The judge then declared a mistrial on those other counts. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the prosecution will seek to retry him… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 20, 2012 11:18AM

Did Texas execute yet another innocent man?

A recent study by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review suggests that Carlos DeLuna, who was executed by the state of Texas in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez, was actually innocent. The study concluded that a man named Carlos Hernandez actually committed the murder. In other words,… Read full post »

On April 25, with a stroke of the governor's pen, Connecticut became the 17th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty - and the fifth state to do so in five years. This reflects a growing momentum to end capital punishment in the U.S., which is the only major industrialized Western… Read full post »

Like several other states, Pennsylvania now has a voter ID law, which requires voters to show a photo ID before they will be permitted to vote. While the new Pennsylvania law doesn't take effect until the November elections, voters for the April 24 primary were asked for ID as a… Read full post »

In recent years, the religious right have moved even farther to the right - to the fringes. Some have even expanded their war on women's reproductive rights to where they are condemning contraception. They even held Congressional hearings on the subject. This is despite the fact that 99 percent of… Read full post »

MARCH 12, 2012 7:30PM

Is Kony 2012 the right thing to do?

By now, most people who pay attention to the news are likely aware of the Kony 2012 film and campaign. Launched by the non-profit organization Invisible Children (IC), the campaign shines a light on Joseph Kony, a leader of the brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group that has terrorized Ugand… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 19, 2012 10:05AM

500 U.S. deaths from police Tasers

On February 13, Johnnie Kamahi Warren died after a police officer used a Taser on him at least twice outside an Alabama bar. The police had been called when Warren became disorderly and combative at the bar.

Warren's death raises the Taser-related death toll in the U.S. to at… Read full post »

JANUARY 16, 2012 4:20PM

21st century racism

As I write this on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect on King's vision of a world in which our children "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

And it saddens me to see how… Read full post »

On December 31, when most U.S. citizens were distracted with New Year's holiday plans, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This law authorizes the President of the United States to order the U.S. military to arrest and imprison terrorism suspects indefinitel… Read full post »

DECEMBER 4, 2011 6:52PM

Troy Davis's sister succumbs to cancer

On December 1, Martina Davis Correia lost her long battle with breast cancer. Correia was the sister of Troy Davis, who was executed by the state of Georgia on September 21 amidst worldwide protest.

Georgia went ahead with the Davis execution despite compelling evidence suggesting that he was innoc… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 27, 2011 10:20AM

Oregon governor rightly suspends death penalty

In a September 7 debate among the GOP presidential hopefuls, Texas Governor Rick Perry seemed quite proud of leading the country in death row executions. He indicated that he loses no sleep over the possibility of executing an innocent person. This is despite the fact that we now know that at… Read full post »

Texas governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry has faced criticism from the left (and applause from the right) for his heavy-handed use of the death penalty. And Perry has said that he loses no sleep over the possibility that he may have executed an innocent man.

This is… Read full post »

The drama continues in the case of America's most famous living death row prisoner.

On October 11, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney to overturn a federal appeals court decision declaring Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence unconstitutional. Abu-Jamal ha… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 4, 2011 2:46PM

The two faces of Barack Obama

With President Obama running for a second term, I cannot help but wonder which Obama we will see as the reelection campaign heats up over the coming year.

In 2008, we saw Obama the Candidate, who promised us change we can believe in. He inspired and energized us.… Read full post »

On August 19, three men walked out of prison in Arkansas after spending nearly 20 years behind bars for a triple murder that they maintain they did not commit. The crime involved the brutal killing of three eight-year-old boys.

Damien Echols had been on death row for the murders.… Read full post »

It seems that lawsuits are never simple, and there are always at least two sides.

The latest example to catch my attention is the case of Baker and Linsley v. Wildflower Inn. In this case, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is working with a lesbian couple, Kate Baker… Read full post »

JULY 7, 2011 7:37AM

Sick of Casey Anthony

Today in Florida, Casey Anthony will be sentenced for the handful of misdemeanors for which the jury on Tuesday found her guilty, all related to giving false information to law enforcement. Since Anthony was acquitted of the more sensational charges against her, I am hoping that the whole media circu… Read full post »

JUNE 5, 2011 12:20PM

Jack Kevorkian meant well

Dr. Jack Kevorkian passed away on June 3. He died the old-fashioned way - in a Michigan hospital bed while suffering from pulmonary thrombosis. Kevorkian, also known as "Dr. Death", was famous as a proponent and provider of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

At the beginning, Michi… Read full post »

On May 12, Amnesty International (AI) released its annual report on the state of human rights in the world. The report examines the human rights records of 159 countries around in the world during 2010.

The United States of America got some bad marks again this year, primarily related… Read full post »

As of April 11, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $3.79. And I hear people complaining about it all the time.

Still, they don't think twice about spending much more per gallon for bottled water.

During a recent visit to… Read full post »

The Planned Parenthood organization is under attack from the right. With ACORN out of the way, I guess they needed to invent a new bogeyman to distract us from their failure to create all those new jobs they promised us during the 2010 campaign season.

But their war on… Read full post »

When Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Tucson shopping center in January, killing six people and seriously wounding U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, he might or might not have been directly influenced by Sarah Palin's map that marked Giffords' district in crosshairs. And we might never know.… Read full post »

Obama was elected to the presidency because we the people were ready for a change from the Bush regime. We were tired and angry with the Texas swagger and the bully-like approach to foreign policy. ("You're with us or you're with the terrorists!") We expected Obama to waste no time in… Read full post »

March 8 is International Women's Day (IWD), a day celebrated worldwide to mark the economic, political, and social achievements of women. And, while women's rights have advanced considerably in a world of still mostly patriarchal cultures, we nevertheless have a long way to go to achieve true equalit… Read full post »