March 5, 2014
Top Ten US Aid Recipients All Practice Torture

Project Censored:

The top ten recipients slated to receive US foreign assistance in 2014 all practice torture and are responsible for major human rights abuses, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other major human rights organizations.

The violators and degree of aid they are expected to receive are: 1. Israel – $3.1bn, 2. Afghanistan – $2.2bn, 3. Egypt – $1.6bn, 4. Pakistan – $1.2bn, 5. Nigeria – $693m, 6. Jordan – $671m, 7. Iraq – $573m, 8. Kenya – $564m, 9. Tanzania – $553m, 10. Uganda -$456m

Each of the listed countries are accused of torturing people in the last year, and at least half are reported to be doing so on a massive scale.

Financial support for such governments could violate existing US law mandating that little or no funding be granted to a country that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture.”

The United States remains a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture, ratified in 1994. That the top ten recipients of US assistance all practice torture calls into serious question the Obama administration’s overall stance on and understanding of fundamental human rights.

Source:

Daniel Wickham, “Top 10 US Aid Recipients All Practice Torture,” Left Foot Forward,January 30, 2014, http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/01/top-ten-us-aid-recipients-all-practice-torture/.

Student Researcher: Alyssa Tufaro (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)

October 20, 2013

Egypt and the US: After the coup

An excellent in-depth report from AJE on the important link between the US and Egypt following the recent coup.

July 20, 2013

"The Act of Killing": New Film Shows U.S.-Backed Indonesian Death Squad Leaders Re-enacting Massacres

An excellent interview with director Joshua Oppenheimer from DemocracyNow! explains the history of the massacres, the U.S. role in them, and how he went about making this extremely unusual and compelling film.

I was pleased to hear Amy Goodman ask him pointedly about the wailing children on the set after a re-enactment of a massacre, a sequence that I thought raised important questions of artistic ethics. Oppenheimer’s response, more extended and complex than the one he gave me last year, helped me appreciate more deeply his courage in making this important film.

As for the U.S. role behind the scenes, it included compiling and furnishing the killers with death lists, as well as with weapons and other equipment.

"I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike decisively." —Robert J. Martens, former U.S. official in Jakarta

To read my review of The Act of Killing, click here.

June 16, 2013
Chemical weapons experts still skeptical about U.S. claim that Syria used sarin

McLatchy:

Chemical weapons experts voiced skepticism Friday about U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring, saying that while the use of such a weapon is always possible, they’ve yet to see the telltale signs of a sarin gas attack, despite months of scrutiny.

January 17, 2013

Admin Aids French Bombing of Mali After U.S.-Trained Forces Join Rebels in Uranium-Rich Region

Democracy Now reports:

The United States has backed the offensive by helping transport French troops and making plans to send drones or other surveillance aircraft. It is aiding a fight against Malian forces that it once helped train, only to see them defect and join the Islamist rebellion. We discuss the latest in Mali with Al Jazeera correspondent May Ying Welsh, who has reported from Mali’s north, and with freelance journalist Hannah Armstrong, a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, who joins us from the Malian capital of Bamako.

November 27, 2012
Michael Klare: A Thermonuclear Energy Bomb in Christmas Wrappings

Tomdispatch:

Let’s face it: climate change is getting scarier by the week.  In this all-American year, record wildfires, record temperatures in the continental U.S., an endless summer, a fierce drought that still won’t go away, and Frankenstorm Sandy all descended on us.  Globally, billion-dollar weather events are increasingly dime-a-dozen affairs, with a record 14 of them in 2012 so far.  So is a linked phenomenon, the continuing rise in the volume of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, especially from burning fossil fuels, that get pumped into the atmosphere.  The latest figures from 2011 indicate that those gases once again made an appearance in record amounts with no indication that abatement is anywhere on the horizon.

With new studies and more data, it seems, come ever more frightening projections of just how much the temperature of this planet is going to rise by 2100.  After all, as Michael Klare, TomDispatch regular and author of the invaluable The Race for What’s Left, points out, the International Energy Agency’s latest study suggests a possible temperature rise by century’s end of 3.6 degrees Celsius.  That should startle the imagination, involving as it would the transformation of this planet into something unrecognizably different from the one we all grew up on.  And keep in mind that it’s by no means the top estimate for temperature disaster.  A new World Bank report indicates that a rise of 4 degrees Celsius is possible by century’s end, a prospect that bank president Jim Yong Kim termed a “doomsday scenario.”

In the meantime, the most comprehensive study to date of how humans have affected the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere predicts that the planet’s temperature could rise by an unimaginable 6 degrees Celsius by 2100.  These days, it increasingly looks like we’ve entered the lottery from hell when it comes to Earth’s ultimate temperature — especially now that a recent report from the United Nations Environment Program suggests carbon in the atmosphere has increased by 20% since 2000 and that “there are few signs of global emissions falling.” 

With this in mind, consider the latest “good news” reported (and widely hailed) in the world of fossil fuels, courtesy of Michael Klare.

Read more..

November 22, 2012
Film Review: "The Act of Killing" (2012)

Try imagining reality television starring war criminals and you will begin to get an idea of the surreal, outrageous, and courageous new documentary The Act of Killing, which won the top prize at this year’s CPH:DOX film festival. Mass murderers are encouraged to describe their past atrocities through dramatic art, by creating their own movie. They set out enthusiastically contriving their version of history, a bizarre and bloody vision that includes the liberal use of special effects make-up, brightly-colored costumes, musical numbers, and cross-dressing. In the process, we learn about the horror unleashed on Indonesia in the mid-1960s, the complicity of Western governments in the civilian massacres that ultimately left 500,000 dead (the U.S. was a key ally in the anti-communist purge), and contemporary life under the ongoing military dictatorship, bloodthirsty youth groups and all…read more

October 27, 2012

Who Owns the World? Noam Chomsky on U.S.-Fueled Dangers, from Climate Change to Nuclear Weapons

Democracy Now:

In the week when President Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney debated issues of foreign policy and the economy, we turn to world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. In a recent speech, Chomsky examined topics largely ignored or glossed over during the campaign: China, the Arab Spring, global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the military threat posed by Israel and the U.S. versus Iran. He reflects on the Cuban missile crisis, which took place 50 years ago this week and is still referred to as “the most dangerous moment in human history.” He delivered this talk last month at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst at an event sponsored by the Center for Popular Economics. Chomsky’s talk was entitled “Who Owns the World?”

October 24, 2012

Why are Obama and Romney Bashing China?

The Real News:

Minqi Li on Presidential foreign policy debate and why Obama and Romney are competing to be the “tough guy” on China

October 20, 2012
Cuban missile crisis: how the US played Russian roulette with nuclear war

Noam Chomsky, Guardian Op-Ed:

President Kennedy is often lauded for managing the crisis. The reality is he took stunning risks to impose American hegemony… It’s a near miracle that nuclear war has so far been avoided.

October 9, 2012
Why Chávez Was Re-elected

Mark Weisbrot, NYTimes Op-Ed:

For most people who have heard or read about Hugo Chávez in the international media, his reelection on Sunday as president of Venezuela by a convincing margin might be puzzling.

Almost all of the news we hear about him is bad: He picks fights with the United States and sides with “enemies” such as Iran; he is a “dictator” or “strongman” who has squandered the nation’s oil wealth; the Venezuelan economy is plagued by shortages and is usually on the brink of collapse.

Then there is the other side of the story: Since the Chávez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half, and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.

October 8, 2012
NPR: Discussion of Fukushima and World Nuclear Politics (Audio)

WBEZ hosts a fascinating discussion with a former nuclear industry executive-turned-whistleblower, including an explanation of the current health and cleanup controversies and radiation risks. Also discussed is the reported pressure the Obama administration has be applying on Japan—perhaps on behalf of nuclear firm Exelon?—to maintain its active nuclear industry. Last month Japan announced a new policy aiming to abolish nuclear over the next two decades.

October 3, 2012
Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Gets Wrong about US Middle East Policy

Juan Cole, University of Michigan:

Gov. Romney published an op-ed on Monday criticizing President Obama’s Middle East policies. Aside from urging ‘strength,’ however, Romney offers no concrete alternative. And, he completely misunderstands the history of the US role in the region, which causes him to misunderstand its present dilemmas.

September 19, 2012
Why they Hate us: Romney Secretly Plots to Screw Palestinians over Again

Juan Cole, University of Michigan:

In a conversation with donors he thought private, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney laid out with startling clarity the American policy toward the Palestinians…

Romney typifies the American duplicity toward the 12 million Palestinians. His campaign speaks of a ‘two-state solution.’ But in private he admits that such a thing, involving giving Palestinians their own state, is “almost impossible to imagine.” So the talk of a two-state solution is just a smokescreen for keeping the Palestinians stateless.

September 17, 2012
Threat to democratic governance?: The Pacific free trade deal that's anything but free

Dean Baker, Economist, Guardian (UK):

The TPP, a pact that the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries, is an effort to use the holy grail of free trade to impose conditions and override domestic laws in a way that would be almost impossible if the proposed measures had to go through the normal legislative process. The expectation is that by lining up powerful corporate interests, the governments will be able to ram this new “free trade” pact through legislatures on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.