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Zeitgeist of Human Rights: Dissent and Journalism as Terrorism, Death Penalty for Suspicion, Torture Without Borders

Posted in News Roundup at 3:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The demise of due process, justice for the accused, rule of law, etc.

War on Dissent

  • The Justice Department used this law to pursue Aaron Swartz. Now it’s open to reforming it.
  • What makes Aaron Swartz a hero?

    The recent anti-NSA, anti-surveillance protests were the latest manifestation of a burgeoning movement for freedom from mass surveillance and the liberation of information.

    It is this new resistance movement, comprised of myriad individuals and organizations, which is perhaps the greatest measure of the legacy of Aaron Swartz.

    By the time of his death a little more than a year ago, Aaron Swartz had already achieved more in his 26 years than most activists achieve in a lifetime. He was a technological innovator, contributing his computer expertise to develop open platforms such as RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit, while working to liberate information from closed databases like JSTOR (the online digital library of scholarly and scientific research).

    However, he also took the fight into the public arena, articulating a language of freedom and social responsibility, tirelessly working to raise public consciousness of the all-encompassing, draconian system of control erected around us all.


  • Ukraine Parliament Impeaches President as Protesters Take Control

    The Ukraine Parliament voted Saturday afternoon to impeach President Viktor Yanukovych, capping a day of extraordinary events in the nation’s capital here.

    Lawmakers also voted to hold elections on May 25, and after the vote began singing the national anthem.

    Parliament also approved the immediate release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, after more than two years in prison. After leaving a prison hospital in Kharkiv, Tymoshenko flew to Kiev where she visited Hrushevskoho Street, the site of deadly clashes between police and protesters in January, where she laid flowers at the site in which a protester was slain.

  • Ukrainians Are Having a Delightful Day at the Abandoned Presidential Palace



  • Bosnia presents a terrifying picture of Europe’s future

    Exactly 30 years after the Olympic flame was lit in Sarajevo in 1984, the city was in again in flames. In recent weeks, protesters have stormed government buildings in an explosion of anger over their social situation, rampant poverty, moribund economy, and the stagnant social and political life. When the flame was lit back in 1984 I was seven and lived just across from the Olympic stadium. We could not sleep for two weeks, the flame was that powerful. But, we were at the same time very happy: it was a flame of prosperity, peace and endless possibilities.

    Back then Sarajevo was projecting an image of what the European Union wanted its members to become: prosperous, diverse and secular with functioning industries, social equality, enviable social mobility and consistent growth. The European Union, as we now know, has failed to live up to that ambition.


UK ‘Terrorism’

  • More Executive-Minded than the Executive

    The English judiciary continues to show its habit of subservience to the government on security matters. In August 2013, David Miranda, who was carrying a hard disk with files from Edward Snowden for his partner who worked for the Guardian newspaper, was detained and questioned for nine hours at Heathrow airport. He sought judicial review of his detention, and the authorities set up a justification under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Schedule 7 entitles them to question anyone for the purpose of ascertaining whether he is “a person who … is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism” as defined in section 40(1)(b) of the statute.

    But patently that was not the purpose of his detention. There was no question of Miranda’s being involved in terrorism—no question at all. The purpose of the detention and questioning related entirely to the Snowden material he was carrying.

  • David Miranda detention at Heathrow airport was lawful, high court rules

    Three high court judges have dismissed a challenge that David Miranda, the partner of the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was unlawfully detained under counter-terrorism powers for nine hours at Heathrow last August.

    The judges accepted that Miranda’s detention and the seizure of computer material was “an indirect interference with press freedom” but said this was justified by legitimate and “very pressing” interests of national security.

Drone Assassinations

  • Turning a Wedding Into a Funeral: U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed as Many as 12 Civilians

    Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, “some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians” and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as U.S. and Yemeni government offi
    cials initially claimed. The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports. We speak to Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler, who wrote the report, “A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen,” and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, a new digital magazine published by First Look Media. He is the producer and writer of the documentary film, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” which is nominated for an Academy Award.

  • Jeremy Scahill of “Dirty Wars” on drones, NSA and the Oscars

    Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill did not expect to take secret assassinations to Hollywood. Years of reporting on night raids and targeted killings in remote corners of Afghanistan, Yemen, and other fronts in the global war on terror became the film Dirty Wars, directed by Richard Rowley, which is up for an Academy Award for Best Documentary March 2. Scahill’s recent work has examined the overlap between the U.S.’ broad surveillance efforts and its checkered human rights record in the fight against terrorism. Scahill spoke to MSNBC about the film, what the drone program has done to America’s security, and how to repair our relationships abroad.

  • Under International Law, Drone Wars are Illegal

    On January 31, I made the following argument before a Court in the town of DeWitt where I was charged with Disorderly Conduct for protesting the MQ9 Reaper drones flown from Hancock Base over Afghanistan.. I argue that the War on Terror is illegal under International Law and drone attacks in particular violate both Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law. Furthermore, by virtue of the Constitution of the United States, we are committed to abide by those laws and under the Bill of Rights, it is our privlege to uphold those laws.

  • Obama is above US Constitution

    Terrorism (ter-ror-ism; see also terror) n. 1. When a foreign organization kills an American for political reasons.Justice (jus-tice) n. 1. When the United States Government uses a drone to kill an American for political reasons.If an ordinary American was plotting to kill an American, you could end up in jail on a whole range of charges including — depending on the situation — terrorism. However, if the president’s doing the killing, it’s all nice and — let’s put those quote marks around it — “legal.” How do we know? We’re assured that the Justice Department tells him so. And that’s justice enough in post-Constitutional America.

  • Rights Group To ICC: Investigate NATO Allies’ Complicity In US Drone War

    The International Criminal Court has been urged to investigate possible war crimes committed by NATO member states for their role in aiding the U.S. drone war in Pakistan.

  • “Sky Raper”: Drones Are Tools of the Patriarchy

    Journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald posted a disturbing report at their new site The Intercept about the NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program. It’s a fascinating read, and I recommend you read it in its entirety, but I wanted to explore a very specific passage in the report—an interview with a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA.


    When operators were assigned to “Sky Raper,” he adds, it meant that “somebody was going to die. It was always set to the most high-priority missions.”

    So here we have a bunch of joystick jockeys not only responsible for killing nameless, faceless brown people thousands of miles away, but as if that wasn’t enough of a violation, they decided to sprinkle a dash of rape culture onto their acts of horrific violence.

  • Responsible reporting: Of truth and national interest

    Mufti cited the example of the NSA leaks and the discussion in the US about journalist Glenn Greenwald’s ethical responsibility. He said “Journalists are not just citizens, they have the responsibility to uphold democracy.”

  • Lawmaker: CIA Should Be Banned From Carrying Out Drone Strikes

    The CIA would be prohibited from using unmanned drones to carry out strikes abroad, under legislation introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess. The Texas Republican’s bill would vest that authority solely in the Department of Defense.

  • Children murdered, homes foreclosed: How the government makes “mistakes” with impunity

    If life-altering mistakes don’t warrant accountability, maybe that’s because nothing can


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