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04.10.14

Political News: Western Foreign Policy, Torture, Surveillance, and Assassination

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PRISM

Torture

Syria

Iraq

  • The Feminist Defence of Blowing Out the Brains of Small Children

    Rather a side issue, but even if we accept Zoe Williams view that dead Iraqi children don’t matter, she appears not to have noticed that Blair introduced tuition fees, academies, kick-started NHS privatization, allowed the banksters’ bonanza leading to worldwide economic crash and oversaw the greatest widening of the gap between rich and poor in British history.

Somalia

  • You Been Lied To: 7 Things You May Not Know About Somali ‘Pirates’

    In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. It’s nine million people who have been battling widespread starvation ever since. America and other European nations saw this as a great opportunity to rob the country of its food supply and dump their nuclear waste in Somalia’s now unprotected seas.

    According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, approximately 12 miles into the ocean from the coast is sovereign territory of the state. Every Somali highjacking that has ever occurred happened within those 12 miles.

Venezuela

Ukraine

  • How Many Americans Can Find Ukraine On A Map?

    *Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation. Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least “somewhat closely,” most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground — or even where the ground is. On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force…* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

  • Exposing the U.S. Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Coup [a little old]

    Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.

  • ‘Blackwater’ footage: Who are the Mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine?

    Surely these men were not Blackwater – simply because such a company does not exist anymore. It has changed its name twice in recent years and is now called Academi.

    [...]

    Greystone Limited mercenaries are part of what is called ‘America’s Secret Army,’ providing non-state military support not constrained by any interstate agreements, The Voice of Russia reported.

  • Geopolitics of Empire: Mackinder’s Heartland Theory and the Containment of Russia

    What’s been happening in the Ukraine recently makes little sense without seeing it in broader geopolitical and historical contexts, so in my search for a firmer understanding of what’s going on, I’ve been consulting the history books. First off, it needs to be said that the Ukraine is historically a part of Russia. It has been “an independent nation-state” in name since 1991, but has been completely dependent on external support ever since. And most of this “support” has not been in its best interest, to say the least.

  • Meet Obama’s New Ukrainian Friends

    Many are militant fascists. They’re thugs. They’re criminals.

  • A Press Kit on Human Rights in Ukraine

    The flywheel of political repressions in Ukraine is gaining momentum these days. In sharp contrast with the liberal approach by president Yanukovych to the “Euromaidan” rout, the interim Kievan administration did not hesitate much about cracking down the public uprising against the “neo-Nazi regime” on the rise in the East and South of Ukraine. Today only in Kharkov at least 70 activists have been arrested during so-called “anti-terrorist operation”. According to the reports, foreign mercinaries presumably from the US Greystone Ltd private military contractor firm were participating in the operation along with the National Guard (majorly consisting of the ultranationalist Pravy (Right) Sector fighters) and some loyal Interior Ministry units.

AstroTurfing

Privacy

  • How advertising cookies let observers follow you across the web

    Back in December, documents revealed the NSA had been using Google’s ad-tracking cookies to follow browsers across the web, effectively coopting ad networks into surveillance networks. A new paper from computer scientists at Princeton breaks down exactly how easy it is, even without the resources and access of the NSA. The researchers were able to reconstuct as much as 90% of a user’s web activity just from monitoring traffic to ad-trackers like Google’s DoubleClick. Crucially, the researchers didn’t need any special access to the ad data. They just sat back and watched public traffic across the network.

NSA

Thomas Drake

Europe

NETmundial

Germany

Holder

Censorship

Reform

Drones

  • WE CAN DO BETTER | Droning About Drones
  • Strategic Horizons: Amid Debate, U.S. Shares Drone Approach With Partners

    While Americans debate when and where the United States should use drones to strike at insurgents and terrorists who cannot be reached by other means, they may be overlooking an important trend: the move to supply a targeted killing capability to allied nations. This began when the Bush administration decided to provide technology and advice to help the government of Colombia kill the leaders of its narco-insurgency. Today, the U.S. military is also helping the armed forces of Yemen field systems for the targeted killing of anti-government extremists associated with al-Qaida. This is the beginning of a trend, as more states will field such capabilities, including drones, with or without American help.

  • Killer Drones in a Downward Spiral?
  • The Homebound “Imperial Presidency”

    The eponymous charge of presidential imperialism, by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. back in 1973, was largely centered on the waging of secret, unilateral war (in Cambodia, say). Such issues were also front and center in the debate over George W. Bush’s claims to executive authority — recall “enhanced interrogations,” the creation of military commissions, surveillance, treaty rights, and the like. And the Obama administration is surely vulnerable to these criticisms. Obama has shown more continuity than change in these areas, embracing a number of Bush-era practices and even pushing past them in some areas, for instance in authorizing the use of drones to kill American citizens overseas and in using military force in Libya without seeking congressional approval. (Bush, by contrast, sought and received legislative sanction for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.)

  • City Theatre’s Grounded
  • Can Any Court Hold U.S. Accountable for Killing Americans Overseas with Drone Strikes?

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s killing of three Americans in Yemen drone strikes. The case was filed by the families of Samir Khan, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his teenage son, Abdulrahman, accusing top U.S. officials of unlawful killings. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the victims’ constitutional rights were never violated and said the U.S. officials involved cannot be held liable. We get reaction from Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the attorneys working on Anwar Al-Awlaki’s case. “The courts have abdicated their roles with torture, they’ve abdicated their roles with indefinite detention,” LaHood says. “Here we thought finally the courts would uphold the Constitution with the killing of American citizens.”

  • Bipartisan Team Wants More Transparency in U.S. Drone Policy
  • Pass the Drone Strike Transparency Act

    Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, we all believe that government should be transparent and accountable, right?

    How should we decide where we stand on a controversial government policy? A crucial first step is to try to establish key facts in the public record.

  • American Held Incommunicado in Yemen for 39 Days, Legal Team Still Doesn’t Know Why
  • What are the drones for?

    We also know that the US has eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even though we don’t know yet about the content of her conversations. This eavesdropping scandal could have started a huge diplomatic war between the US and Germany, but in a time when Russia was invading Crimea, these two decided to postpone the crisis for a while. Maybe the US believed this was a good opportunity to remind Germany that its hands are not clean on a number of international issues, too, and that the US knows everything about it. There is a lesson here for Turkey as well.

Snowden

Europe

Police

  • ​Nevada rancher’s land surrounded by heavily-armed federal agents, his cattle confiscated

    After 20 years of battling the US government for use of his family’s land, a Nevada rancher’s “one-man range war” may soon end. The family says heavily-armed federal agents have surrounded the ranch as “trespass cattle” are removed from the disputed land.

  • LAPD Cops Sabotaged Equipment Installed to Monitor Them

    Police officers generally insist that they are the biggest fans of being recorded. A PoliceOne explainer on how cops can beat a lawsuit that I’ve highlighted before stresses the important of having footage of an incident that may later be called into question. Video evidence, police instructor Richard Weinblatt wrote, “should actually be welcomed, as the majority of officers do what they are supposed to do and thus will be cleared by the video from any allegations of wrongdoing.”

Human Rights

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