Author: Friends of TFC

How war dehumanises everyone it touches

All acts of mass murder are crimes against humanity, and require a gross debasing of other people.

On a recent visit to one of my favourite haunts in London, Gloucester Books, I flicked through the secondhand paperbacks and old magazines that were fading in the sun. The leading article in a National Geographic Magazine commemorated the crews of the US Eighth Army Air Force for their forbearance and sacrifice during WW2. Nothing unusual in that, but the honour extended to their bombing raids over German cities. The story focused mainly on the former pilots and had photos of young men running towards their planes, waves and smiles as they climbed in, each touching for luck an illustration painted on the side of some forties’ pin-up girl with red lips.

Danes revive heroic WWII-era practice of smuggling refugees to safety

About 100 Danes, young and old, stood outside Copenhagen City Court in the chilly seaside winds last Tuesday to show their solidarity with four activists alleged to have illegally assisted refugees in their trek across the waters from Denmark to Sweden.

While only two of the accused are Danish citizens, all are members of MedMenneskeSmuglerne, or “Those who smuggle thy neighbor” — an outgrowth of the more broad-based initiative Welcome to Denmark, which welcomes migrants and refugees into the country.

Burma: Aid Blocked to Rakhine State

Humanitarian Groups, Journalists, and Rights Monitors Need Access.

The Burmese government and army should urgently ensure humanitarian aid can reach ethnic Rohingya and other vulnerable populations in northern Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. Government security operations have cut off assistance to tens of thousands of people and forced many to flee their homes.

A Portuguese Woman’s 20-Year Legal Battle Over a Scholarship Ends in Her Imprisonment for Defamation

A woman was taken into custody on September 29 to serve a three-year sentence for “insulting” a group of judges several years ago as part of a lawsuit that she had waged against Portugal’s Ministry of Culture for stripping her of a long-term scholarship to study in the Netherlands in the 1990s.

The case of Maria de Lurdes Lopes Rodrigues is raising indignation on social media between friends and strangers. Many think her arrest is unfair. One Facebook user put it like this:

“It is unfortunate that the law is not applied to all people in the same way, that’s why we all feel disgusted with these situations, and in others the laws applied are disgraceful.”

Hawking: Creating AI Could Be the Biggest Event in the History of Our Civilization

Speaking at the launch of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) in Cambridge, science icon Stephen Hawking warned listeners about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and humanity.

“Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization,” Hawking acknowledged, noting the unprecedented and rapid development of AI technology in recent years, from self-driving cars to a computer playing (and defeating humans) in a game of Go. “But it could also be the last,” he warned.

Official US Gov’t Documentation Confirms That Saudi Gov’t. Funds Al Qaeda

As Liz Goodwin and Michael Isikoff noted on 11 October 2016 regarding a recent wikileak:

The Clinton email states: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

That email from Hillary Clinton, was sent on 17 August 2014.

Any reference to the Saudi government is a reference to the Saudi royal family, who own the Saudi government — it’s their fiefdom.

I reported on 17 February 2016 that:

On 30 December 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a cable (subsequently released to the public by wikileaks) to America’s Ambassadors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, and Pakistan, headlined, “Terrorist Finance: Action Request for Senior Level Engagement on Terrorism Finance.”

The crackdown on Dakota Access Pipeline reporters shows the vital role of independent media

Hundreds of activists have faced arrest since nonviolent demonstrations against the North Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, began last spring. While clashes with law enforcement frequently coincide with public protest, the arrests of numerous independent journalists, including Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, have raised serious questions about state suppression, free speech and the blurring of lines between activism and journalism.

Goodman was arrested after she posted footage of contractors using physical force and guard dogs to repel unarmed protesters at the pipeline’s construction site. Her video was shot on September 3, before the protests had received significant coverage from major news outlets, and quickly went viral. Five days later, Goodman was informed that Morton County, North Dakota had issued a warrant for her arrest, charging her with “rioting.”

Lebanese Drug Policy Group Tells Young People: Know Your Rights!

A Lebanese non-profit organisation has launched a campaign to empower young people who are being criminalised for drug use, and to call on legislators to adopt an alternative drug policy approach.

Skoun, the organisation behind the initiative, is a Beirut-based organisation that offers free and confidential drug treatment to those who seek it. Alongside its clinical work, Skoun campaigns for an end to Lebanon’s punitive drug policies, and advocates for policies rooted in humanity, self-determination, health, and justice.

The organisation launched its Know Your Rights campaign in September. The project has three goals: empowering young people to know their rights during drug-related encounters with the law; shedding light on police abuse of power; and, stimulating debate around the effectiveness of current drug policies.

Iran’s Velayati Cautioned Iraq about US Plot after Mosul Liberation

ecretary-general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening Ali Akbar Velayati hailed Iraqis’ recent victories over terrorist groups in operation to liberate Mosul, but at the same time warned that Baghdad should be vigilant about US plot after the city liberation.

“The reconstruction of Iraq after the liberation of Mosul is a very important issue, but we should not neglect the Americans’ plots,” Velayati said in a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum in Baghdad on Thursday.

The Best and Worst Presidents on Taxes

From Reagan to Roosevelt, tax fairness continues to fluctuate along with our elected leaders.

With all the debate over Donald Trump’s tax-dodging, I’ve been wondering how taxes have played into presidential politics in the past.

For some answers, I turned to Bob McIntyre, head of the nonpartisan research and advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice. For 40 years, McIntyre has been on the frontlines of efforts to make our tax code fairer.

When asked what American president he considers the worst on tax fairness, his initial response was “Yipes, there are so many.”

After some consideration, he bestowed that honor on Ronald Reagan, whose 1981 tax act slashed taxes on the rich.

Will “They” Really Try to Kill President Duterte?

Rodrigo Duterte, the outspoken President of the Philippines has by now, most likely, joined the concealed, prestigious and permanent hit list of the Empire.

The hit list is very long; it has already been long for several decades. One could easily lose count and get confused: how many personalities have been marked and secretly condemned to death? How many of them actually died?

It reads like a catalogue of illustrious world leaders: from Patrice Lumumba (Zaire), Mohammad Mosaddegh (Iran), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Sukarno (Indonesia), Juvénal Habyarimana (Rwanda), Salvador Allende (Chile) to Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), Al-Basheer (Sudan) and Fidel Castro (Cuba), to name just a very few.

Some were directly assassinated; others were ‘only’ toppled, while only a handful of ‘marked’ leaders actually managed to survive and to stay in power.

How High Homicide Rates Affects Women from Low-Income Communities in Brazil

Doctors say Joselita de Sousa died of cardiorespiratory failure. But her family says she died of depression. Two weeks before her death, the police officers responsible for her unarmed black teenage son’s death were released from prison on a court order.

The portrait of homicide victims in Brazil consists of men, young, black or part-black from low-income families. But Joselita’s case illustrates another picture: women whose names do not appear in official homicide statistics, but are systematically victimized by the structural violence in their country.

Justice for Joselita, and women like her, is increasingly being fought by other women. For the last ten years, the Mothers of May have become a significant force in Brazil fighting against police violence and offering support to women directly affected by it.

‘We are slowly being killed by this mine’

Threats, pay-offs and skin defects. Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik investigates the activities of a massive British-Australian ferronickel complex.

Amid the arid farmlands of Colombia’s Córdoba province, the grassed earth gives way to bare incisions. Upturned mounds of ochre puncture the landscape. Fuming chimneys spill white smoke. This is Cerro Matoso, one of the largest ferronickel mines and processing facilities in the world.

Owned and part-owned for over 30 years by BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian corporation and the largest mining firm in the world, it was recently transferred to South32, a spin-off company.1

Matoso has proven a lucrative source of wealth, delivering billions of dollars in sales. But former workers and local communities say that wealth has come at their expense; they are demanding justice for the destructive impact on their health, livelihoods, environment and safety.

Azerbaijan Looks to Greater Reliance on Domestically Produced Weapons

With an array of new, domestically produced weapons, including sniper rifles, machine guns, armed drones, and armored vehicles, Azerbaijan is showcasing its arms industry amid growing tensions with neighboring Armenia.

Much of the attention on Azerbaijan’s growing military has focused on the country’s weapons purchases from abroad, notably from Russia and Israel. But the country also has been steadily building up its indigenous production capabilities. The new wares were on display at the country’s defense exposition, ADEX-2016, at the end of September.

“Today, the Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest armies in the region,” the country’s Minister of Defense Industry, Yavar Jamalov, said at the expo’s opening. “Today’s event is a good example of that.”