Author: Friends of TFC

CIA chief warns Trump against torture

torture

The director of the CIA, John Brennan, has warned President-elect Donald Trump against resuming the use of torture.

Mr Brennan told the BBC, in an interview broadcast this morning, that “the overwhelming majority of CIA officers would not want to get back into” the use of torture such as waterboarding. He added: “Without a doubt the CIA really took some body blows as a result of its experiences.”

President-elect Trump has said he would “bring back waterboarding” and “a hell of a lot worse.” Last week, he told the New York Times that “if [torture] is so important to the American people, I would go for it.” Trump’s choice to succeed John Brennan as CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, has incorrectly suggested that torture is legal.

Drone strike victim asks Obama for apology ahead of federal court hearing

A Yemeni civilian who lost two innocent relatives to a 2012 covert drone strike has written to President Obama to ask for an apology – in return for which he will drop a court case, due to be heard in Washington DC tomorrow.

Faisal bin ali Jaber lost his brother in law – a preacher who campaigned against Al Qaeda – and his nephew, a local policeman, in an August 29, 2012 strike on the village of Kashamir in Yemen.

Mr Jaber – an environmental engineer – will tomorrow (Tuesday) travel to Washington DC to attend what will be the first ever US appellate court hearing in a case brought by a civilian victim of the covert drone program.

On the Japan-China “Rail Wars”

There were several important outcomes of the previous three-day visit made by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan (from November 10 to November 12, 2016), but it is the Cooperation Agreement on the development of high-speed railway transport that attracts particular attention.

It, alongside other facts that have emerged over the past few years, has led to Bloomberg publishing a thesis by American Orientalist Jeffrey Kingston on the expansion of the “rail wars” between Japan and China, which is taking on an almost global nature. This time it has manifested itself in the territory of India. The participants of the so-called “war” are resorting to methods that include both political influence on the leadership of the country that announces a tender for the construction of transport infrastructure, as well as the financial and technology attractiveness of the proposed projects.

China and Japan, the two global leaders in the construction of high-speed railways, have used these tools in full in the course of the first such tender announced by Indonesia last summer. A year ago, we briefly described the dramatic development of the Japan-China struggle to win the order to develop and implement the construction project of the 140-km long Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway on the island of Java worth more than 5 billion dollars. The government of Indonesia found itself in a situation that can only be described as “dramatic” as it had to choose the winner out of the two leading Asian powers.

Only One Step Away from a Global Trade War

China shipping

The financial crisis of 2007-2009 effectively terminated the process of globalization. In 2015 world trade suddenly dropped by more than 10% for the first time since 2009. Nothing like this has been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But some politicians, public figures, scholars, and journalists continue to talk about globalization as an «objective» and «progressive» process, even though it has already ended.

The world has embarked on a new era. One important hallmark of this era is the strengthening of protectionism in international trade and investment, the splintering of the global market into trade and economic zones, and even the move to regulating trade on a bilateral basis. According to the WTO, just in the period between October 2015 and May 2016 the G20 countries adopted 145 laws aimed at strengthening trade barriers, and over 1,500 such laws have been adopted since 2008. In total, according to estimates by the renowned British economist Simon Evenett, there are close to 4,000 protectionist laws and regulations on the books around the world. And the countries of the G20 – where over 90% of global trade originates – are responsible for 80 % of those trade barriers.

Militants Routed in Aleppo: Idlib Is Next

With the crushing defeat in Aleppo close, terrorist groups intensify their activities in the Idlib province (governorate). Debacle now appears to be a matter of when, not if. And if is very close. The Russia-supported Syrian forces have scored a big victory to turn the tide of war, but the conflict remains far from over. The rebels still control significant chunks of territory, notably in Idlib. The province represents the largest geographic area currently held by opposition groups, most importantly Jabhat al-Nusra (the new name is Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) and Jund al-Aqsa.

As hundreds of rebels were surrendering and leaving the positions in the eastern part of Aleppo, Sunni extremist group Ahrar al-Sham attacked the Shia enclaves, Fouah and Kafraya, in Idlib with dozens of Grad rockets. The attack is rather symbolic. Actually, the fall of Aleppo is the beginning of the battle for the governorate. The attacks signify the end of previous cessation of hostilities accords reached there in 2015.

FORM VERSUS CONTENT IN ENFORCED TRANSPARENCY

Transparency is seen as vital to any functioning democracy; in the United States, citizens enjoy limited powers to bring government documents into the public domain via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and some legal protection is granted to public interest-motivated leakers and whistleblowers. Generally, transparency is understood as a net positive for liberal democracy, and organizations like the Pirate Parties International centralize transparency in their re-imaginings of more radical democratic politics. Activist organizations like WikiLeaks and Anonymous also dedicate themselves to bringing information about the political elite into the public domain—often this aligns with leftist agendas, but recent events raise questions about just who ultimately benefits from the publicization of secretive information.

Democratic theorists like Darin Barney and Jodi Dean warn us that the availability of information alone does not guarantee politically salutary outcomes.1 The commitment to analyzing and deliberating on an endlessly accelerating flow of information can actually push the event of real political organizing towards an always–elusive horizon. It is a mistake, warns Barney, to reduce politics to publicity alone.2 Deliberation can be debilitating.

Why We Need to Start Reporting on Transhumanism

Imagine for a moment that you have traveled back in time to the 1800’s to speak with everyday people of the era. Your mission is to describe to them what the internet is.

Nowadays, we take a basic understanding of today’s technology for granted, but if you could speak to the society of two centuries ago, the developments wouldn’t be describable in words they’d understand.

Now imagine, instead, what humanity in 200 years will have created that may be indescribable to us now. What will they have created that we couldn’t even begin to understand today?

Yet another activist murdered in Guatemala

The murder of 22-year-old Jeremy Barrios, a young environmentalist in Guatemala, has increased concerns over the threats that environmentalist defenders endure and the failure of the state to provide protection to organisations under threat.

Barrios was shot and killed in Guatemala city on November 12. His murder is in many ways a dark symbol for Guatemala, a country in the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, where the average age of the population is, precisely, 22 and where at least ten environmental activists – most of them indigenous – were murdered in 2015.

US to Resettle Refugees from Australia’s Island Camps

The United States has agreed to resettle refugees stranded in Pacific island camps after failing to reach Australia.

Under current Australian law, individuals who attempt to reach the country illegally by boat are either intercepted in the water and turned away or, if they reach the shore, are removed from Australia for processing in the impoverished nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, a small Pacific island.

The camps in which migrants wait for processing have been criticized by rights groups as cramped and squalid. This spring a man and a woman in Nauru set themselves on fire in protest, and many other attempts at suicide among asylum seekers have been recorded.

Putin-Trump: A Budding Bromance?

The election of Donald Trump as US president has put his connections to Russia back in the spotlight. News headlines have announced “Russia’s establishment basks in Trump’s victory.” The Duma, the lower house of the federal legislature very much under president Vladimir Putin’s control, erupted in applause at the election news from the US. The editor of the Kremlin-backed English-language television network RT (formerly Russia Today)said she would drive around Moscow with an American flag in celebration.

Despite this and despite allegations of Russian interference to disrupt the US election campaign, no one can say for certain yet how Russia-US relations will develop in the coming years. Trump has publicly admired Putin’s leadership, but it’s not at all clear what the Putin-Trump dynamic will mean for human rights in Russia or Russian respect for human rights abroad.

Democrats Caused President Trump; They Caused His Victory

Hillary Clinton

Here’s a video where Carey Wedler explains in her own thoroughly truthful way in just four minutes, how and why Democratic Party voters for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primaries did more than perhaps any other single political group of Americans to help make Donald Trump become America’s President. But here, in my own equally truthful way, which you can easily verify for yourself by simply clicking onto a link anywhere that you question a statement’s veracity (which, of course, can’t be done with any video), I’ll explain it, very differently:

Democratic voters during the Presidential primaries were given a clear choice, and blew it; they chose the by-far-weaker of the two candidates (Clinton instead of Sanders), weaker not only in all of the head-to-head matchups against each and every one of the possible Republican candidates, but weaker in the progressive ideology that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had brought to the Party and which had made the FDR-era (1932-1980) Democratic Party the engine of progressive change in America. Bill Clinton killed it, and Hillary Clinton’s election would have prevented the progressive Democratic Party from ever being resurrected again; and here’s how that happened:

Colombian Government, FARC Sign New Peace Deal After Referendum Rejection

Colombian authorities have signed a new peace accord with FARC rebels, after the previous agreement was rejected in a national referendum in October.

The new deal between the Colombian government and FARC rebels was stricken in Havana, Cuba on Saturday.

“We have reached a new final agreement to end the armed conflict, which includes changes, clarifications and input from a variety of walks of life, which we considered successively,” Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, Ivan Mora, said after the talks.

MURDER OF ACTIVISTS IN LATIN AMERICA ‘OUT OF CONTROL’

Some in the United States may be familiar with the murder of Berta Cáceres, who led an indigenous resistance against the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras, earlier this year. But a new report from Oxfam warns there is a much bloodier campaign of violence directed at human-rights activists across Latin America.

Titled, “The risks of defending human rights: The rising tide of attacks against human rights activists in Latin America,” the report states that while 185 human-rights defenders murdered worldwide in 2015, 122 of these murders occurred in Latin America.

Much of this killing appears to be direct relation to protests against trans-national extractive enterprises, often involving firms from Canada and the United States benefiting from state support.

Yemenis Wrest Control of Several Villages in Saudi Arabia

Yemen’s army forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees seized several villages in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border province of Jizan amid Riyadh’s relentless military aggression against Yemen.

On Thursday, Yemeni forces gained control over the al-Qarn and Dafinah villages in al-Khobe district, located 967 kilometers (601 miles) southwest of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, following fierce exchanges of gunfire with Saudi troops there, a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, the official Saba news agency reported.

They also managed to wrest control over a number of villages located in eastern parts of al-Bahtit military base.

Iraq: Fleeing ISIS Forces Fired Toxic Chemicals

Courtesy of TRAJAN 117

Forces of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) launched at least three chemical attacks on the Iraqi town of Qayyarah. The use of toxic chemicals as a means of warfare is a serious threat to civilians and combatants in and around the embattled city of Mosul and is a war crime.

The attacks hit the town of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, in September and October after Iraqi government forces retook the town on August 25, 2016. The attacks caused painful burns to at least seven people consistent with exposure to low levels of a chemical warfare agent known as “vesicants,” or blister agents, a chemical weapons expert told Human Rights Watch.