You are hereHuman Rights
By John Grant
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? ... You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.
--Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Lately, I find myself reading “noir” crime fiction and thinking about the genre as a way to explain the world. It may have something to do with the fact I’m an American critical of my government and losing hope that positive change is even possible. As hope evaporates, there seems less and less space between political reality and the criminal underworld. Or maybe it's the obverse of a militarist obsession with Tom Clancy and War On Terror thrillers.
The adherents of wealth, power and violence seem so entrenched and in control that those without power become doomed to ineffectual marginalization and, if they poke their heads up too far, in danger of having their intentions and actions criminalized.
July 12, 2011 - Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the US government to order a criminal investigation into allegations of torture of detainees during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The New York-based rights watchdog said that overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration obliges President Barack Obama to take action.
Speaking with The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Deputy Director of HRW's Asia Division Phil Robertson said, “We try to encourage the Obama administration to do what they are required to do under the Convention against Torture.”
My senses are soaked still with last weekend’s red, white, and blue after having attended a party at the home of a lovely couple intro’d to me recently by a friend. Their fireworks display, colors bursting in the night sky, was as impressive as any I’ve seen produced and directed by local government via taxpayer dollars. I’m sure the hosts’ guest list covered the political spectrum. I’m also sure that my politics are the most radical of anyone who watched the bombs bursting in air. I sat there, thinking about bombs bursting in air, exploding the lives of people in the growing number of countries where we’ve exported U.S. imperialism.
More sensory overload is the story that’s captured the attention of Americans: Casey Anthony’s murder trial. I didn’t follow, but when I opened Google News, it usually was the lead. After Anthony’s acquittal, I scanned the article titles and saw: “See all 6,083 sources.”
Strasbourg judge: “Those who export war ought to see to the parallel export of guarantees against the atrocities of war”
7 July 2011 - The highest court in Europe – the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights – has this morning handed down one of its most important judgments ever, involving the alleged ill-treatment and unlawful killing of Iraqi citizens by UK Armed Forces. See the European Court’s official press release (attached to this email).
By Dave Lindorff
In ways little and huge, it is clear that we live in a nation, a culture and a society that is terminally ill.
The latest outrage -- the likely execution of a Mexican convicted in Texas of the brutal slaying of a 16-year-old girl in blatant violation of a universally adopted international treaty that requires that as a foreigner he be able to notify his home country’s consulate of his case -- is evidence of this sickness, which appears to have both physical and mental aspects.
As a journalist I have traveled widely in the world, often in police states like China or Laos, and I have always trusted in the fact that if I ran afoul of those police, at least I could count on the fact that the authorities would be legally bound to notify my embassy, so that I could get international attention and, hopefully, legal assistance.
Makes sense as we condemn them constantly for what is now very public the same practices against humanity we're ordering done as we joined them, and the others who do and some we used, in the toilet as to crimes against humanity while still condemning! We even use those issues as justified excuses to invade, destroy and occupy countries!
07 July 2011 - Iran will certainly put the 26 US officials on trial in absentia and will pursue their cases at international circles: MP
Iran to file lawsuits against 26 US nationals who committed crimes against humanity, FNA quoted Iranian parliament’s National and Foreign Policy Commission Seyyed Ali Aqazqdeh as saying.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Given the stark desperation stalking so many communities around an America oozing from miseries embedded in the stagnant economy, it’s almost an inane exercise to contemplate the state-of-democracy in this nation on July 4th -– Independence Day.
All of the flag waving, fireworks and fun of this national holiday can’t mask the disturbing fact that democracy in America is under unprecedented onslaught from forces intent on engaging in economic exploitation comparable to the colonial crown domination that compelled Americans to rebel against England over two hundred years ago.
Examples of this onslaught abound with one of the most pronounced being federal and state level elected officials – overwhelming Republican – bludgeoning and eliminating benefits that have aided the middle class and the poor, in the name of budget balancing austerity, while simultaneously battling to protect the profits and assets of the wealthy.
By Michael Collins
The citizens of the United States have excellent judgment. They have shown it consistently over time. When that judgment shifts briefly allowing a failed policy, it is a result of the vilest forms of propaganda by a small clique of liars. (Image: PS-OV-ART)
The people were right about the invasion of Iraq
By Dave Lindorff
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that the nation’s founders, gathered in Philadelphia a few miles from my house (which as it happens was already standing and about 28 years old already at the time), at great personal risk, signed the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing declaration that all men--Americans and everyone else, too--are born equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Five years ago at this time, I was just starting my road trip promoting my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), which documents the wholesale assault, by then President George W. Bush, and his chief consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney, on those bold concepts and on the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights which those same founders set up as the guiding principles of this nation.
By John Grant
Israel and its international operatives are working overtime to stop the 10-ship Gaza flotilla from leaving Athens. The Audacity Of Hope, with 40 Americans on board, tried to leave the harbor Friday only to be chased down and threatened by an armed Greek Coast Guard boat and forced to return to a dock. Trumped-up charges may be brought against the captain of the boat. Greece is now prohibiting all boats from leaving. Another boat had a propeller shaft cut and a third was equally disabled by some kind of sabotage. Others have suddenly been plagued with questions about their insurance or their seaworthiness. Israel has openly threatened to bar news organizations with reporters onboard a flotilla boat from entering Israel for ten years. The US government has made vague threats that it might charge US citizens in the flotilla with something.
Urgent posting on behalf of Kathy Kelly, who is now on the US Boat to Gaza.
June 27, 2011
Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training. We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, "The Audacity of Hope." Our team, and nine other ships' crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans. The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza's sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza's economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel's staunchest ally.
By John Grant
Two veteran friends of mine will be on one of the ships planning to leave Athens next week to challenge the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. The Israeli government, after attacking a previous flotilla in May 2010 and killing nine people, has said it will use violence if necessary to prevent the ships from entering what any reasonable person by now should agree are Palestinian waters.
This confrontation should not be necessary. The Israeli military occupation over Palestinian life should have been eased and sovereign rights established for Palestinians long ago. The crisis of Palestinian status has reached the level of a disaster, and like the creation of Israel itself it is more than a Jewish problem: It is a world problem.
by Debra Sweet
Director of The World Can't Wait
The Summer 2011 issue of On The Issues Magazine probes peace activism, feminism, and war reality. I was asked to contribute an article, so I wrote The Cruel Lie: Bombing To Liberate Women. An excerpt:
"The United Nations reported on a study in 2010 that "Rising numbers of women and girls aged 15-40 are attempting suicide in Afghanistan," even as the Karzai government in 2011 is moving to shut down shelters for abused women funded by international aid organizations, western governments and private donors. New rules being drafted by president Hamid Karzai's government would bar private safe houses for women who are fleeing abuse and place new rules on those seeking refuge in the country's 14 public shelters, including forcing women to submit to medical examinations and evicting them if their families want them back, according to an article in the Washington Post on March 5, 2011...
And least we not forget the millions of refugee's created in our names, the U.S., over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as area's of Pakistan!
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24-year-old MIT student David House, friend of PFC Bradley Manning who appeared on MSNBC and revealed to the world that Bradley seemed to be near "catatonic" after being held for nearly a year in a 6 by 12 foot cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, took the Fifth before a federal grand jury yesterday and refused to testify. Manning's treatment has drawn harsh criticism of President Obama, who once said in a press conference that Manning's treatment was "appropriate."
By Yasmeen Ali
“Pakistan must do more.”
That statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has become a laugh line in Pakistani drawing rooms.
The 9/11 attacks resulted in 2,996 deaths -- 246 on the planes,2606 in towers and on ground, 126 at the Pentagon. The attacks justified an invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraq War and also attacks on the America’s “ally in war on terror,” Pakistan.
The US has come a long way since. The policy of extrajudicial killings survived the Bush/Cheney era and has intensified from an estimated 45 attacks under Bush to 200 under Obama.
Few of those killed in these attacks have been militants. Most have been civilians. Indeed, according to the New American Foundation, only 2% of deaths have been of militants. But hey, that’s ok. That’s why the term “collateral damage” was coined, right?
Filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel's "Skateistan" follows a Kabul skate park's founders and the kids who come there to have fun and perhaps jumpstart some changes in their country. This excerpt is part of The Economist Film Project series of independently produced films aired in partnership between The Economist and the NewsHour. Transcript
By John Grant
Some years ago, I was photographing a constitutional law professor for a magazine article on his book, and while I composed my shots I employed the usual half-minded topical banter to keep things on course. The professor was pretty progressive and knew I was a veteran antiwar activist. I was muttering something about constitutional rights.
In the lens, I noticed him chuckling at something, so I pulled my eye away from the camera and looked at him. He was grinning now.
“John, you know they abrogated the Constitution long ago,” he said, his tone a bit patronizing but also mixed with camaraderie and humor.
“Oh, yeh!” I said. “I forgot about that.” We both laughed, and I went on with the shoot.
I couldn’t help thinking about that conversation as I read the story in The New York Times about the new powers being given to individual FBI agents to snoop on citizens they subjectively deem dangerous.
June 10th, 2011 - First, we talk to an author about his new book concerning Muslim public opinion toward the United States. Then, we hear about Afghan tourism and its potential for bridge-building, literally and figuratively. Finally, we discuss the dangers of conflict reporting, and how journalists prepare for the battlefield. But first, a roundup of this week’s news.
Fourth Daalder Lecture, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, Interfacultaire Vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen, March 15, 1997
Continuing Bahraini State Terror - by Stephen Lendman
For months, Bahraini and Saudi security forces targeted nonviolent protesters and activists wanting the repressive Al Khalifa monarchy replaced by constitutionally elected government, political freedom, and social justice, what Bahrainis never had and don't now.
Three previous articles discussed it, accessed through the following links:
Still functioning despite authorities terrorizing people brutally, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) provides regular updates on the ground, expressing great concern about King Hamad's ruthless:
ScienceDaily (May 28, 2011) — "One person, one vote" is often the rallying cry for democratic reform, suggesting everyone should get an equal say in their government.
Yet in some of the oldest and largest democracies, some votes are worth far more than others by design. A Wyoming voter, for instance, is significantly over-represented compared with a California voter. Each state has two U.S. senators, but California has 66 times more people.
How much does it matter? According to a recent study of decades of data, from the U.S. and eight other countries, it matters a lot when it comes to money.
Posted on May 30, 2011 by kathleenkirwin
On this Memorial Day, 2011, Joni Mitchell’s Fiddle and the Drum is sadly all too relevant. As a Canadian, Joni composed the song in 1969 to tell the United States how “we have all come to fear the beating of your drum.” I have been singing this song ever since. It is a piece of my soul. I share it today in memory of the untold numbers who Amercia has killed while beating the drums of war.
And so once again
My dear Johnny my dear friend
And so once again you are fightin’ us all
And when I ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say I have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you please
Can I help you find the peace and the star
Oh, my friend
What time is this
To trade the handshake for the fist
A Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?
By Dave Lindorff
In his latest speeches on the Middle East, President Obama, both at the State Department and at the G8 meeting in France, has pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Middle Eastern countries, drawing a direct connection between the unrest and demonstrations that brought down the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and the joblessness and hopelessness felt by the young people in those two countries.
His adviser on international economics, David Lipton, has been more specific, saying that, “We believe that these two pillars go hand in hand. Without economic modernization, it will be hard for governments trying to democratize to show people that democracy delivers.”
Unemployment in Egypt among young men and women is about 30%. In Tunisia, it is over 40%. The White House claims that with figures like that, the future for democracy in those countries is tenuous.