Taking an old-school approach to battle the woes of modern capitalism, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has endorsed a legislative ban on unemployment. “You want to bring back [the phrase] ‘social parasitism,’ do it. That would be easier for the people to understand,” Lukashenko was cited as saying at a governmental meeting on employment. His comments were made during a discussion of the Belarussian police’s proposal to punish people who “intentionally don’t work,” including by imposing forced labor.
Washington is releasing some US$26 million to Yemen in military aid and boosting funds to armies in five other nations, waiving sanctions imposed for recruiting child soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama fully waived sanctions and lifted bans on international military, education and training assistance to Yemen, Rwanda and Somalia applied under the Child Soldier Prevention Act, said deputy assistant secretary Michael Kozak. Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan were also given partial waivers for specific military purposes.
Dozens of Chinese firms are producing and exporting “tools of torture”, from electric stun guns to metal spiked batons, to countries with bad human rights records, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday. More than 130 companies are involved in producing or trading the equipment, typically marketed to law enforcement agencies, up from about 28 companies a decade ago, Amnesty said. The equipment fuels human rights abuses by law enforcement authorities in African and Southeast Asian states, the group said in a report.
Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact,” the London-based watchdog said, citing human rights monitors.Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact”.
After being kidnapped on January 22, Dmytro Bulatov says he was kept blindfolded for eight days as his abductors beat him, sliced off part of his ear, drove nails through his hands, and finally left him for dead in a forest. Through the ordeal, he never once saw his captors. But he could hear them. And when he was finally returned to safety, Bulatov — one of the leaders of Automaidan, the automotive flank of Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests — said on January 31 that his captors had spoken “with a Russian accent.”
EU and US diplomats have voiced dismay after Ukraine on Thursday (16 January) criminalised almost every aspect of the pro-EU protest movement. Reports say that electronic tellers in the Verkhovna Rada kept flashing up a figure of 235 votes in favour just a few seconds after each round of voting, before the hands could be counted. The laws impose fines of up to $1,275 a head or 15 days’ detention on people who install or supply equipment, such as tents or loudspeakers, at opposition rallies, who wear masks, who make “extremist” billboards or who form convoys of five or more cars.
The idea of building private cities is a divisive one. Many of the country’s elite advanced the concept as something new to spur economic growth. The cities would facilitate foreign investment and development, which would reduce the influence of criminal networks. Those opposing the concept, however, variously rejected the proposition as a neoliberal gift to the rich, a continuation of oligarchic rule and a threat to democratic governance. These objections came in the context of economic policies that have exacerbated inequality, poverty and unemployment.
Chinese security forces have surrounded monasteries with paramilitary police and detained monks in a county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) which has been resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, according to sources. The security forces in recent weeks have also been raiding monks’ quarters and family homes, seizing computers and mobile phones and conducting daily political re-education sessions for area residents in “politically unstable” Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county, the sources said. “Over a thousand Tibetans from Driru county are now being held in detention,” a Tibetan living in Europe told RFA
Yemen’s parliament has voted for a ban on drone strikes, but experts say lawmakers have limited powers and their vote is unlikely to impact Washington’s bid to crush Al-Qaeda militants. The United States operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sanaa’s attempts to break Al-Qaeda, and intensified strikes this year have killed dozens of militants. Yemen is home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington views as the deadliest franchise of the global Wahhabi militant network. Critics say drone strikes kill civilians and have demanded an end to the secrecy surrounding them.
“Prison camps in North Korea are a part, a vital part, of this vast infrastructure of repression that the North Korean government has maintained to maintain its control over its population. As far as we know, there are four political prison camps in remote areas, they are vast. For instance our satellite images show the largest prison camp is about 560 square kilometers,” said Rajiv Narayan, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International. Kwanliso 16, the biggest camp, is 560 square meters, three times the size of Washington DC. Kwanliso 15 or Yodok camp is 370 square meters.
A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers. Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown. The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery. The case has developed into an international legal row, with lawyers for the woman describing it as “unprecedented”.
“They told us, ‘You are Bengalis – there is no such thing as the Rohingya,’” the imam recalled. “They said, ‘If you claim that you are Rohingya, you will be thrown into the sea.’” We were speaking in one of the internally displaced person (IDP) camps reserved for the Rohingya – Burma’s persecuted Muslim minority – near the city of Sittwe in Burma’s troubled Rakhine state. Last year, mob violence in the area left hundreds dead and well over 100,000 homeless, the vast majority of them Rohingya.
Cairo emerged this weekend from a nighttime curfew imposed three months ago, after security forces brutally cleared two protest camps filled with supporters of President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army in July. More than 1,000 people were killed in the clearing and the days of bloody street violence that followed. Still, with the curfew and state of emergency over, the cabinet is working on a set of restrictive new laws that have been widely panned by human rights groups.
Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a long awaited document summarising the findings of an in-depth investigation into the prevalence of congenital birth defects (CBD) in Iraq, which many experts believe is linked to the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by Allied forces. “The rates for spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and congenital birth defects found in the study are consistent with or even lower than international estimates. The study provides no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq.”
Moscow issued a decree last month “in the name of security,” which said “the suppression and neutralization of the terrorist and criminal threat… is especially important in connection with the holding of the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.”
The order bans meetings and limits movement around Sochi for a month before the games through a month after them. He has also called for “mobilizing all force structures and improving the coordination, quality and results.”
With reports of kidnappings, secret prisons, tribal clashes and displaced persons on the rise in Libya, Magharebia visited Shahhat to talk with Libyan Observatory for Human Rights founder Nasser Houari. The number of prisons and illegal detention centres has increased. Now each battalion has its own special prison – some are known and others are secret. Detainees in these prisons number nearly 8,000, according to the justice minister, and local and international organisations. Torture is widespread in these prisons as a means to extract confessions.
After 9/11, the NYPD built in effect its own CIA—and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA. Over the ensuing decade, the FBI, CIA, and NSA would build surveillance programs that monitored bank transactions, phone records, and the e-mail routing fields.But the NYPD went even further than the federal government. The activities Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration. It was a proactive approach, but, in constitutional terms, a novel one.
Today in America, SWAT teams are deployed about 100 to 150 times per day, or about 50,000 times per year — a dramatic increase from the 3,000 or so annual deployments in the early 1980s, or the few hundred in the 1970s. The vast majority of today’s deployments are to serve search warrants for drug crimes. But the use of SWAT tactics to enforce regulatory law also appears to be rising. This month, for example, a SWAT team raided the Garden of Eden, a sustainable growth farm in Arlington, Texas, supposedly to look for marijuana. The police found no pot, however, and the real intent of the raid appears to have been for code enforcement, as the officers came armed with an inspection notice for nuisance abatement.
Islamists are not the sole victims of Wednesday’s security forces’ assault on two sit-ins organized by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi that left more than 500 people dead, according to the latest official estimates. The choice of “total security” has also killed the political credibility of the liberals. Interim Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei got it right by resigning midafternoon Wednesday. Until the end, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner strived to convince the interim government — set up after the Islamist Morsi was ousted by the army — to solve the issue through peaceful means. But the “securitarian” clan, embodied by the Army Chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won.
The special session of the Bahraini National Assembly held on Sunday Jul. 28 was a spectacle of venom, a display of vulgarity, and an unabashed nod to increased dictatorship. Calling the Shia “dogs”, as one parliamentarian said during the session, which King Hamad convened, the Al-Khalifa have thrown away any hope for national reconciliation and dialogue. The 22 recommendations approved during the session aimed at giving the regime pseudo-legal tools to quash dissent and violate human and civil rights with impunity. All in the name of fighting “terrorism”.
In many cases the police and paramilitary units used non-lethal methods in responding to rallies and violence by supporters of Islamic parties, the New York-based advocacy group found. In other instances they resorted to “excessive force,” shooting demonstrators at close range, and beating others to death, according to witness testimony. More than 150 people were killed, including seven children, and at least 2,000 others were injured in clashes between February and early May, Human Rights Watch said after interviewing 95 victims, witnesses, journalists, lawyers and human rights workers. Police officers were among those who died, it found.
Security forces in Bahrain have been raiding dozens of homes each day since April, arbitrarily arresting young men, and torturing them to force confessions to some crime, a local rights group said on Tuesday. Plainclothes police, some of them dressed in neon-colored vests and black ski masks, knocked down doors of houses in at least 10 villages across the tiny Gulf monarchy on Monday and arrested several people, Yousif al-Muhafda, deputy-head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), said.“In one day, there are at least 30-35 house raids,” the rights activist told Al-Akhbar.
After the genocide that tore apart a nation and killed 800,000 in Rwanda, the world said never again. But nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves on the brink of another campaign of destruction against an entire people. Yet once again it is being greeted with silence.
In Burma, ethnic cleansing is happening. We have seen more human rights violations and attacks on Rohingya minorities in the past two years than in the last 20. Mobs have attacked our villages, driving us from our homes, children have been hacked to death, and hundreds of my people have been killed by members of the majority.
According to a Customs and Border Protection report obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the agency has considered adding weapons to its Predator drones that currently serve as the agency’s eyes in the sky on the lookout for undocumented immigrants and drug trafficking coming across the border.
A section of the heavily redacted 107-page report that deals with the equipment mounted on the drones states that “Additional payload upgrades could include expendables or non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize [targets of interest].”
It would seem that police brutality is not just for ordinary – powerless – citizens in China. A policewoman from central China’s Henan Province was recently arrested when visiting her daughter in the provincial capital Zhengzhou. Mistakenly accused of being sex workers, the woman and her daughter were beaten, tortured and detained for hours by local police. After media reports led to public outcry, the policemen who were responsible for arrest were suspended from active duty.
Forty-six years after the 1967 war, we are facing a dangerous increase in the number of “failed states” across the Arab region. There are projects, some of which are already underway, to partition and divide countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. Other countries are not immune to internal tensions resulting from a discourse of partition and fragmentation similar to the one which has disrupted the very concept of the “state” as we knew it, thus giving rise to the so-called “failed states.”
In most Chinese cities, the environmental cost of rapid development is obvious: unbreathable air and undrinkable water. Less obvious is the cost of cleaning them up.
Since the late 1990s, the “National model city for environmental protection programme” has accredited at least 76 cities nationwide as exemplars of urban sustainability, based on criteria including clean air, rubbish-free streets and ample public parks. Yet China is also home to hundreds of cancer villages, and a US-based academic has spent years drawing a link between the two.
Land conflicts between farmers and plantation owners, mining companies and developers have raged across Indonesia as local and multinational companies have been encouraged to seize and then deforest customary land – land owned by indigenous people and administered in accordance with their customs. More than 600 were recorded in 2011, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The true number is probably far greater, say watchdog groups. The Indonesian national human rights commission reported more than 5,000 human rights violations last year, mostly linked to deforestation by corporations.
THE federal government has unveiled plans to wind back the nation’s counter-terror laws and strip ASIO of its power to detain terror suspects without charge.
If implemented, the sweeping changes would abolish some offences, impose expanded judicial oversight on ASIO and repeal the criminal penalties for praising acts of terrorism. Those who are subject to control orders would be given access to mobile phones and the internet, could not be ordered to relocate and any curfew would be limited to 10 hours a day.
Greek police were hunting three foremen yesterday who were suspected of shooting and wounding more than 20 migrant workers at a strawberry farm. The supervisors were believed to have opened fire on Wednesday at a crowd of about 200 mostly Bangladeshi immigrants who were demanding wages that had not been paid, police said. The wounded were taken to hospital but none of the injuries was serious. Anti-foreigner sentiment has been rising in Greece, where one in four workers is unemployed after five years of recession.
The Central Intelligence Agency conspired with dozens of governments to build a secret extraordinary rendition and detention program that spanned the globe. Extraordinary rendition is the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation. In the Open Society Justice Initiative’s new report, it stripped people of their most basic rights, facilitated gruesome forms of torture, at times captured the wrong people, and debased the United States’ human rights reputation world-wide.
No matter what the future may contain, one thing is certain: just about everything in it, including us, will increasingly be under surveillance. Our habits, patterns, health, and preferences will be translated into data. Who will benefit from this valuable information, and how can we start developing the mindset to deal with this reality now? To get started, let’s filter a few core concepts and tough questions through our imaginations.
Privacy The concept of privacy is relative, and it may be a luxury, but it’s good when people are able to relax, think, live and create without fearing that curiosity and exploration will come back to haunt them.
Somebody should check and make sure that Kim Dotcom hasn’t started funding any research in genetics. Maybe those guys from the Pirate Bay, too. With a paper that must send chills of fear and vindication down the spine of every internet freedom fighter, researchers from Cornell University this week presented evidence that genetic copyright is a “direct threat to genomic liberty.” Could this be the newest, most easily altruistic frontier in copyright banditry?
Parts of Meiktila, in central Myanmar, have been reduced to ashes in the most serious Buddhist-Muslim clashes to hit the country since last year, with the authorities struggling to bring the situation under control.
The violence comes as Myanmar struggles with serious tensions between Muslims and Buddhists that have marred international optimism over dramatic political reforms since the end of military rule two years ago.
The idea of south-south co-operation evokes a positive image of solidarity between developing countries through the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge. It’s an attractive proposition, intended to shift the international balance of power and help developing nations break away from aid dependence and achieve true emancipation from former colonial powers. However, the discourse of south-south co-operation has become a cover for human rights violations involving southern governments and companies.
The Afghan government Sunday ordered all U.S. special forces to leave a province after reports from local officials that the elite force is behind several cases of Afghan civilians being tortured or disappeared.
The decision seems to have caught the coalition and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, a separate command, by surprise, the Associated Press reported. Officials in Maidan Wardak, a province that borders Kabul on the west and where security has deteriorated over the past year, had presented evidence to President Hamid Karzai and other officials alleging that nine people had disappeared after being seized by U.S. special forces
The increasing power and accessibility of genetic technology may one day give parents the option of modifying their unborn children, in order to spare offspring from disease or, conceivably, make them tall, well muscled, intelligent or otherwise blessed with desirable traits.
Would this change mean empowering parents to give their children the best start possible? Or would it mean designer babies who could face unforeseen genetic problems? Experts debated on Wednesday evening (Feb. 13) whether prenatal engineering should be banned in the United States.
Activists in Burma have demanded action against officials who were responsible for the use of incendiary weapons against peaceful protesters at a copper mine, causing serious burns to dozens of people including Buddhist monks.
Lawyers and others who investigated the crackdown at the Letpadaung copper mine in November said President Thein Sein must share responsibility and ensure justice was achieved. Launching a report on the incident, they said police used shells containing white phosphorus, an incendiary munition, to disperse the protesters.
The women had all undergone surgical procedures at a hospital in the Malda district of West Bengal, around 360 kilometres (220 miles) north of Kolkata, which officials admitted was not equipped to accommodate such a large number of patients. The scandal came to light after news channel NDTV aired amateur footage of unconscious women being carried out of the hospital by men and then placed on open land.“This is inhuman and we have ordered a probe into the incident,” he added.
Philadelphia Courts Begin Using Computer Forecasts to Predict Future Criminal Behavior, Determine Jail Time
Judges in the Philadelphia court system are now taking advantage of powerful new computer models to help determine how much jail time an offender should get. Computers have been forecasting weather and economic trends for years, but applying algorithms to human behavior is relatively new. University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Berk, a pioneer in the field, his forecasts, which use an algorithm to predict whether someone will offend again, have been used by city probation and parole officers for about three years, to decide how much supervision a defendant needs.
Wu responded with vivid detail to a student’s question asking him to depict life in the laogai camps. “Every morning we would all get up and line up, with the guards at the camp pointing guns at us. They would divide us up into groups and assign us to plots of land. Within that plot of land we would pick grapes, tealeaves, cotton, and other things. We couldn’t go beyond our assigned space–there was an invisible line. Cross that line, and you’re shot.
“Every worker had a labor quota he had to fulfil. We would pack a cardboard box with grapes and weigh it to make sure we’d fulfilled the quota. They would take the box and load it onto a plane, which flew out to Japan.
Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman warned in an interview with AFP that her country’s transition process is on the brink of collapse and demanded ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh be banned from politics.
The activist, who was a leading figure during the youth uprising in Yemen in 2011, also claimed that President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is unable to implement his plans to reshape Yemen’s security forces because he does not control the army.
A Chinese official demanding a couple pay a fine for violating the country’s one-child policy crushed their 13-month-old boy to death with a car, a local spokesman said Tuesday.
Under China’s population controls, instituted more than 30 years ago, couples who have more than one child must pay a “social upbringing” fine, while in some cases mothers have been forced to undergo abortions.Authorities in the eastern city of Wenzhou are investigating how the infant ended up beneath the vehicle, a Mayu county official surnamed Zhou told AFP.
Over the past 30 years, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal prison population has jumped from 25,000 to 219,000 inmates, an increase of nearly 790 percent. Swollen by such figures, for years the United States has incarcerated far more people than any other country, today imprisoning some 716 people out of every 100,000. (Although CRS reports are not made public, a copy can be found here.)
“This is one of the major human rights problems within the United States, as many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, often forgotten by society,” Maria McFarland, deputy director for the U.S. programme at Human Rights Watch, told IPS.
The Israeli army is systematically using crowd control weapons and live ammunition unlawfully against Palestinians in the West Bank, signaling a widespread breach of military regulations and an alarming culture of impunity, a leading Israeli human rights group has warned.
At least ten Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army’s use of crowd control weapons in so-called “disturbance of the peace” situations in the West Bank since 2005, Israeli group Btselem stated in a new report, titled ‘Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank’. Additionally, Israeli soldiers killed 46 Palestinians with live ammunition in the same time period.
Reports from inside the secretive famine-hit pariah state, North Korea, claim a man has been executed after murdering his two children for food. Shocking reports claim North Koreans are turning to cannibalism including details of one man who dug up his grandchild’s corpse to eat and another who boiled his child and ate the flesh.They claim a ‘hidden famine’ in the farming provinces of North and South Hwanghae has killed 10,000 people, and there are fears that cannibalism is spreading throughout the country.
Earlier this month, a report funded by the Greenwall Foundation examined the legal and ethical implications of using biologically enhanced humans on the battlefield. Given the Pentagon’s open acknowledgement that it’s working to create super-soldiers, this is quickly becoming a pertinent issue. We wanted to learn more, so we contacted one of the study’s authors. He told us that the use of cyber-soldiers could very well be interpreted as a violation of international law. Here’s why.
“Too often, our society falls prey to a ‘first generation’ problem — we wait until something terrible has happened, and then hastily draw up some ill-conceived plan to fix things after the fact, often with noxious unintended consequences,” Abney told io9.
The seven men were among 11 suspected militants captured in connection with a 2007 suicide bombing against ISI personnel and a rocket attack a year later against an air force base. An anti-terrorism court ordered them to be freed in May 2010, but they were picked up again near the capital, Islamabad.
Four died in custody under mysterious circumstances. The ISI produced the seven surviving men in court last February in response to a judicial order prompted by their relatives, who were looking for them. Two of the men were too weak to walk. Another wore a urine bag, suggesting a kidney ailment. In a meeting with their families on the court premises, they complained of harsh treatment during their detention.
One of the most disturbing trends in law enforcement in recent years is the hyper-paramilitarization of local police forces. Much of the funding for tanks for Fargo’s hometown cop shop comes from the Department of Homeland Security. The feds have a lot of money to throw around in the name of preventing terrorism, and municipalities want to get that money. As anyone who has done budgeting knows, the best way to ensure your funding stays high is to request a lot of money and spend it all.
THE authoritarian president of Belarus has praised his regime’s secret police as representing the “best traditions” of the Cheka, the feared forerunner of Soviet Russia’s KGB.
Alexander Lukashenko used his annual “State Security Day” address to boost that his secret police could trace its lineage back to the Cheka, which murdered and tortured thousands of people during the Red Terror campaign in post-revolutionary Russia.
American ammunitions may be the reason behind the mounting number of babies born with birth defects in Iraq, a study revealed. Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra. “Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.
Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System
Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro
Social media users who use tweets and online posts to comment on a military operation could be regarded as legitimate military targets.
Australian army Land Warfare Studies Centre analyst Chloe Diggins on Thursday said a recent social media war between Israel and Hamas raised complex ethical questions about who was a combatant and therefore a legitimate military target. A key question was whether such comments constituted an act of war.
CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday.
In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA “rendition team” at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.