U.S. Weapons Sales Are Drenched in Yemeni Blood

Image Source: Rod Waddington, Flickr, Creative Commons
Local Girls, Sana'a, Yemen

Saudi Arabia is using billions in U.S. aid to fund their onslaught of innocent civilians in Yemen, but it’s not too late for Congress to stop this madness.

When Pope Francis visited the U.S. Congress in September 2015, he boldly posed a moral challenge to his American hosts, asking: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”

“Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money,” he solemnly concluded. “Money that is drenched in blood.”

In this case, it’s innocent Yemeni blood.

Palestine: Crackdown on Journalists, Activists

Image Source: Wall in Palestine, Flickr, Creative Commons

Chilling Effect on Free Expression

The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities. The crackdown directly violates obligations that Palestine recently assumed in ratifying international treaties protecting free speech.

“Both Palestinian governments, operating independently, have apparently arrived at similar methods of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of anyone who dares criticize them,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch. “The Palestinian people fought hard to gain the protections that accompany membership in the international community, and their leaders should take their treaty obligations seriously.”

Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children

Caracas, Venezuela. 

Image Source: Julio César Mesa

Without Food, Children Are Dying from Malnutrition at Increasing Rate

When 18-month-old Royer Machado died from malnutrition in Zulia, Venezuela, the authorities did not arrest his mother.

The child had gone more than 72 hours without eating, but his mother lived in extreme poverty and couldn’t get the resources she needed; that was just the nature of Venezuela today.

How Beijing’s Breach of ‘One Country Two Systems’ Gave Birth to the Hong Kong Independence Movement

The Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong.

Image Source: Pasu Au Yeung

Following the disqualification of pro-Hong Kong independence candidates from the upcoming Legislative Council election, the Hong Kong government now wants to stop discussions on Hong Kong independence in schools.

While a majority of Hongkongers agree that independence for Hong Kong is politically impossible, more and more claim to support independence simply to agitate Beijing.

In a poll in July, about 17.4% of respondents said they were somewhat or even strongly supportive of Hong Kong independence.

As anticipated, that result has upset Beijing which has seemingly demanded the Hong Kong government stop people from talking and fantasising about separation with mainland China.

Where’s the Outrage Over Iran’s Exploited Children?


Image Source: Hamed Saber, Flickr, Creative Commons

Child labor and exploitation remains a widespread problem throughout much of the world. The issue is centered around exploitation, trafficking and governmental negligence and presents a challenge for those living in closed societies which lack transparency, and social support systems.

The exploitation of children has become increasingly prevalent in Iran, and remains uninvestigated by authorities and the outside world.

The current geopolitical realities in the Middle East and the wave of refugees, combined with widespread failure in governance, have created the perfect storm for a rise in the exploitation of children. Iran’s location within a corridor of war-torn countries, coupled with state corruption and lack of a social safety net have exacerbated the issue. Iran has consistently been listed as a Tier 3 country for human trafficking by the US State Department. The Iranian regime itself has also been implicated in human trafficking and the exploitation of children.

Activists and Government Divided Inside and Outside of Honduras About the “Berta Cáceres” Law

Image Source: Nan Palmero, Flickr, Creative Commons
Viva Honduras Cooking Vent

US lawmakers have proposed new legislation meant to pressure the Honduran government into doing more to find and prosecute those behind a slew of assassinations of prominent environmental leaders in the country. Named after an indigenous leader murdered earlier this year, the “Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act” (HR5474) was brought before the US Congress on June 15 by five Democrats.

The proposal has become a growing source of international controversy.

Lawmakers are asking Washington to “suspend US aid to Honduran police and military until human rights violations by security forces cease and those responsible for of such crimes are brought to justice.” The objective of the law is to weaken government security forces and paramilitaries, who have frequently been implicated in the human-rights violations of environmental activists, union leaders, journalists, lawyers, activists, Afro-indigenous community members, farmers, LGBTI activists, and people who criticize the government.

Colombia: Peace Pact a Key Opportunity to Curb Abuses

Colombian Troops.

Image Source: DOD

Flawed Justice Deal Risks Sustainable Peace

The agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas on August 24, 2016, to end their 52-year conflict is an unprecedented opportunity to curtail abuses in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. But it includes a serious defect that risks its unraveling: a flawed victims’ agreement reached in December 2015, that could guarantee impunity for those responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes.

Peace talks with guerrillas, which began in October 2012, involved partial agreements on five points in the agenda in addition to ending the conflict. They include political participation, victims’ rights, and drug policy. The government will hold a national plebiscite to approve the agreement in the coming weeks.

Philippine Government’s ‘War on Drugs’ Claims Child Victim

Image Source: pixabay.com

Justice Secretary Defends Killing Suspected Drug Dealers, Users

Five-year-old Danica May became the youngest reported victim of the Philippine government’s abusive “war on drugs” on Tuesday.

The kindergarten student died from a gunshot wound to the head after an unidentified gunman opened fire on her grandfather, Maximo Garcia, as the family sat down to lunch. The attack came just three days after Garcia had registered with local police, who suspected his involvement in the drug trade. Garcia had said he wasn’t. He survived being shot in the abdomen in the attack, which police have attributed to unnamed “drug dealers.”

In Syria and Beyond, Protesters Make Sure the World Doesn’t Forget the Ghouta Chemical Massacre

Image Source: Pixabay.com

In the early hours of August 21, 2013, residents of rebel-held Eastern and Western Ghouta in Syria, woke up to the news that rockets containing a nerve agent had hit their area. As the day wore on, the number of dead continued to rise, reaching into the hundreds. Estimates range anywhere from over 350 to over 800, while a preliminary US report claimed the attack had killed over 1,400 individuals.

A member of a media center in Zamalka described the strikes to Human Rights Watch at the time and the sensation he felt when the gas started affecting his body while he was rescuing people:

Earthquake Destroys More Than 200 Ancient Temples in Myanmar

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Myanmar authorities reported that three people were killed and at least 228 temples and pagodas have been damaged in the whole of Mandalay after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on August 24.

Among the damaged structures were 187 brick temples in the ancient capital of Bagan. This is a setback for the country’s bid to recognize Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bagan is among Southeast Asia’s important archaeological sites, and they are often compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Indonesia’s Borobudur.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish Journalist Abducted, Killed


Image Source: jan Sefti, Flickr, Creative Commons

Threatened by Security Forces Over His Reporting

An Iraqi Kurdish journalist who had been threatened by security services was abducted and found dead on August 13, 2016. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should ensure a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into the killing of Wedad Hussein Ali, 28, who was allegedly affiliated with the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Witnesses described his apparent kidnapping by unknown assailants, who claimed to be Kurdish security forces, following repeated interrogations by the KRG’s Asayish political police forces over the past 12 months about his writings critical of Kurdish authorities.

In Louisiana, Private Disaster Relief Outperforms the Government

Image Source: Pixabay

The recent flooding that hit Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012. So far we know that at least 13 are dead and tens of thousands were left homeless in the flooding. Even worse, most of those affected do not have flood insurance. Up to $21 billion worth of housing stock was wiped out by the deluge of rain.

The recovery will be long and difficult in one of the poorest states in the country. There is the challenge of finding employment and housing for all these displaced people. Given the fact that Louisiana is a hot and humid state most of the year, there will also be the issues of dealing with mold and increased injuries as people try to rebuild.

France’s Shameful and Absurd Burkini Ban

Image Source: herman yahaya, Flickr, Creative Commons
Nur Amirah

Banning Burkini in Wake of Terror Attacks Creates Dangerous Confusion

A woman is confronted by state officials in a public place and forced to change her clothing, while another is fined for failing to wear “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.” Unbelievable in a country like France? No, it happened on French Riviera beaches just this week.

These incidents follow a series of municipal decrees de factobanning burkinis, and, apparently, any other skin concealing beach outfits worn by Muslim women, in about 30 French towns.

The bans were adopted in the aftermath of two horrific terror attacks: the truck attack in Nice and the church killing in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Prominent Labor Activist’s Wife Awaits Verdict for Alleged Facebook Post

Image Source: mkhmarketing, Flickr, Creative Commons
The Demise of Facebook

Najibeh Salehzadeh was never shown the “evidence”

Najibeh Salehzadeh, who says she was falsely charged for posting “insulting” material on Facebook, is awaiting a verdict following her trial at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan Province.

“On Monday [August 15] my son and I went to the court and the judge repeated the same charges against me, that I had written things on Facebook that were propaganda against the state and insulting to the supreme leader,” Salehzadeh, the wife of prominent Iranian-Kurdish labor activist Mahmoud Salehi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Slavery: memory and afterlives

Turners Rebellion News  Sheet Creative Commons

What role does memory play in the politics of the present? How can we build better futures through politicising the past? The Brigstow Institute brings us a series reflecting on these questions.

Tomorrow, 23 August 2016, is International Slavery Remembrance Day; yesterday, the UK’s first ever memorial service to the victims of the transatlantic slave trade/African holocaust was held in Trafalgar Square. But what exactly should or can we remember, and why, and what should we ‘do’ with these memories? The forthcoming series of articles will reflect on these questions as they relate to the memory of slavery and the different conversations that can be had about its past and present. But they do not, and cannot, provide the answer to these questions, for there is no simple or single answer.

The end of the grant era

photo credit: Money Laundering - Euros via photopin (license)

Asking donors for money and then implementing programs is an old model from which civil society must break free. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on funding and human rights.

The changes in the funding landscape are fast and furious, especially for organizations that promote equality, human rights, and climate justice. We are increasingly witnessing efforts by governments and big corporations to silence dissent or clamp down on foreign funding.

Baltimore Cops Hired Neo-Nazi Lawyer in Case of Wrongful Arrest of Black Man

News2Share founders filming police brutality in Baltimore.  Photo courtesy Trey Yingst

The Baltimore Police Department faces a lawsuit for doctoring evidence in order to secure the wrongful conviction of Sabein Burgess, imprisoned for 19 years until courts finally dismissed murder charges.

On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center published an exposé on a case against the Baltimore Police Department, alleging that they doctored evidence to secure the conviction of a black man, but the tale is not on the substance of the dispute but rather the attorney defending city cops against charges of prejudice and malfeasance.

Representing Baltimore in the dispute, attorney Glen Keith Allen has a checkered past that includes robust support for one of America’s most notorious hate groups, the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA). Allen is a longtime donor and member of the organization, which was founded by William Pierce, the author of a novel that served as a blueprint for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Cycle of Insurgency: How the US military is expected to put down an insurrection

Image Source: Pixabay

One of the overriding questions when discussing an insurgency within the United States has always been the debate over how the military would respond. Those who hope for the military to break ranks and join the resistance will be disappointed. Those who would believe the military will employ surgical strikes to remove dissidents through technology will be surprised. The American people don’t have to guess how the US military would respond any longer. Two respected academics chose to war game a scenario using the United States Operating Concept (2010) as a guide.

The first thing to understand about an insurrection is that it isn’t terrorism. The terms are often used interchangeably by the media, but there is a significant difference.

Louisiana’s Floods: Climate Change Crying To The US

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Louisiana’s shores are once again swelling to devour homes and businesses, streets and roads. Record flooding interrupted the lives of thousands, killing at least 13 in the process. As rescue operations continue, onlookers realize that climate change can’t be closeted anymore. Will this most recent lash from nature shake Americans into responding to the crisis? Or is nothing to be learned?

Over two feet of rainfall drowned Louisiana last week, emptying over just three days. The “historic flooding” was spawned after a low pressure system combined with record amounts of atmospheric water vapor, Washington Post reports. The disaster has displaced untold thousands, and killed around a dozen people. Those figures are expected to rise.