Europe (NM) – With warnings that as many as one million migrants are already on the way to to Libya and Europe from countries across Africa, Europe’s refugee crisis seems set to get even worse. From police brutality at borders to squalid conditions…
World (Sputnik) – Introducing the ancient Athenian principle of drawing by lot is the solution to growing discontentment with modern politics, according to Belgian political theorist David Van Reybrouck. The system of modern democracy in which members of parliament are elected by the public doesn’t…
This year’s lowlights from world politics, the culture wars, and the military-industrial complex.
Each year Conn Hallinan gives awards to individuals, companies, and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2016.
The Golden Lemon Award had a number of strong contenders in 2016, including:
General Atomics for its MQ-9 Reaper armed drone, which has a faulty starter-generator that routinely shorts out the aircraft. So far, no one can figure out why. Some 20 were either destroyed or sustained major damage last year. The Reapers costs $64 million apiece.
Panavia Aircraft Company’s $25 billion Tornado fighter-bomber that can’t fly at night because the cockpit lights blind the pilot. A runner up here is the German arms company Heckler & Koch, whose G-36 assault rifle can’t shoot straight when the weather is hot.
The British company BAE’s $1.26 billion Type 45 destroyer that breaks down “whenever we try to do too much with them,” a Royal Navy officer told the Financial Times. Engaging in combat, he said, would be “catastrophic.”
151 countries at the UN General Assembly have sent a clear message that the concerns of affected states and communities over the health risks from depleted uranium must be properly addressed.
The UN General Assembly has backed a new resolution on DU weapons by 151 votes to 4. The resolution, which highlights the ongoing concerns of affected states and communities, health experts and civil society over the potential health risks from DU exposure, is the sixth to be adopted since 2007. The text also recognises that countries affected by the use of DU weapons face considerable technical and financial barriers in dealing with DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.
According to a report from the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), European countries who are taking part in the US-led coalition against ISIS are more likely to suffer terrorist attacks at home– and the trend is expected to rise.
France ranked especially high on the list; Belgium, Germany, and the UK are also particularly susceptible to attacks. Ultimately however, the report also states that any country participating in the US-led coalition can expect a wave of “IS inspired attacks” from both organized groups and lone wolves. Attacks on European soil are not only expected to increase, but the ECTC expects attackers to shift away from symbolic targets and focus towards more soft targets with more civilian casualties. They expect the attacks carried out by organized groups to become more complex and could involve more car bomb style attacks similar to those in Iraq.
By setting up a single database centralizing information on the entire French population behind their backs, France’s Socialist Party (PS) government is giving the state vast repressive powers. Coming amid the state of emergency, it constitutes a fundamental threat to democratic rights, in particular to opposition within the working class to austerity and war.
The database, named “Secure Electronic Titles” (TES), was decreed into existence on October 30. It centralizes the personal and bio-metric data of all holders of passports or national identity cards. It concerns over 60 million people, that is, virtually the entire French population. The official launch of the database took place last Tuesday in the Yvelines area and will be extended across France at the beginning of 2017.
The database was prepared in violation of the law, behind the backs of the population. It was first proposed in 2011 at the National Assembly, during a debate on a secure national ID card, and sharply criticized by the National Commission on Information-Processing and Liberties (CNIL). While recognizing as “legitimate the use of bio-metric information to identify a person,” the CNIL ruled that “bio-metric data must be conserved in an individualized data system.”