SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Vienna, Austria – December 2014 –– In a remarkable show of strength and unity, the Youth Division of Soka Gakkai in Japan presented to Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, more than 5,000,000 signatures in support of the Nuclear Zero campaign. The presentation took place in Vienna at the Civil Society Forum sponsored by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
The Nuclear Zero petition is part of a global campaign calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. The petition states, “To protect humanity’s future, we support the Marshall Islands, a small island nation that is courageously seeking to enforce the Nuclear Zero promise – a world free of nuclear weapons.” The petition goes on to call upon the nuclear-armed nations to fulfill their moral and legal obligations to begin negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament. To sign the petition, visit nuclearzero.org.
US military academies are neither Spartan in being dedicated to war, nor are they Athenian in recognizing humanism (even the humanism of war). They are Archimedean. They focus on engineering and the machinery of war. But two millennia ago even Archimedes with his clever war machinery could not save Syracuse from defeat at the hands of Rome.
There is a lesson here for America’s military academies – if only they spent more time studying history and the humanities and less time solving equations. But they do not. I taught history at the Air Force Academy (AFA) for six years. My experience? The AFA was far too focused on STEM subjects (science/tech/engineering/math) to the neglect of history, political science, and the humanities. Today, America’s military cadets still concentrate on STEM, and they still receive Bachelor of Science degrees, even when they choose to major in subjects like history.
The Globe and Mail is the only newspaper in Canada spending time and resources to report from the war zone of eastern Ukraine. Seasoned Globe reporter Mark MacKinnon has been in and out of there for many months. The newspaper published a substantial article by him in its Saturday edition of Dec. 6. The article is a useful reference point for examining how mainstream media is presenting the story of the war in Ukraine to Canadians, for good and for bad.
Canada has been an enthusiastic partner with the United States and European Union in supporting the right wing government that came into power in Ukraine in February of this year, following the overthrow of the elected president. The new government went to war against its population in the east of the country (the region called "Donbas") in April. That was its response to popular demands for more political autonomy and democracy for the region. Kyiv calls its war an "Anti-Terrorist Operation."
Berlin – The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system - politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”
The US Senate report devotes one section explicitly to the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri, who was abducted by CIA agents in 2004 due to a case of mistaken identity and was tortured in a secret detention center in Afghanistan. The criminal complaint details the US Senate report’s finding that once the unlawful error was discovered, the former CIA director refused to take further steps against those responsible.
With the revelations of its connections to torture and hints in its history of connections to eugenics and social control, the APA may be an appropriate target for university boycott.
To think about the future, it is best to work backwards, tracing trajectories to the present moment, carefully working out the lineages that brought current conditions into being. Only then can thoughts of ‘what is to be done’ be meaningful.
(Smith, 2006, p. 83) Smith, D. (2006). Trying to teach in a season of great untruth: Globalization, empire, and the crises of pedagogy. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers
Leading figures in the Bush Administration — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz — fancied themselves to be the new Vulcans. As in Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, armorer for gods and mortals. In the aftermath of 9/11, they didn’t look to Darth Vader in their journey to “the dark side” — they looked to Ancient Rome. They believed that Rome had prospered because of its willingness to use force with unparalleled ruthlessness. As the “new Rome,” the new hegemon of the globe, America too would prosper if it proved willing to use brutal force.
Call it “shock and awe.” In the process, they sowed the dragon’s teeth of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and indeed throughout the world. In attempting to intimidate the enemies they saw everywhere, they tortured widely as well.
With the holiday season underway and Eric Holder on his way out the door as Attorney General, many Puerto Ricans are stepping up their calls for President Barack Obama to pardon 71-year-old political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has spent the last 33 years behind bars for seditious conspiracy. The holiday season is a common time for Presidents to use their power to grant clemency, but this does not appear likely in 2014 for the President who has granted the fewest pardons in modern times. For Puerto Ricans, dismissal of their political demands is emblematic of their subjugation as colonial subjects.
Last week at a concert in San Juan, reggaeton singer René Pérez Joglar of the band Calle 13 brought López’s daughter Clarissa on stage to read a letter pleading for her father’s release.
The Brennan Center for Justice, The Constitution Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly filed a brief in this digital privacy case. O'Melveny & Myers LLP served as pro bono counsel.
The Fourth Amendment protects digital data the moment it is copied and seized by law enforcement, not just when it is searched, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and others argued in an amicus brief filed this week.
In the “Microsoft Ireland” case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the US-based Microsoft Corporation must comply with a government warrant to turn over the digital records of an individual stored on servers outside the United States. The government contends that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to copying data, only to searching it. In its brief, the Brennan Center and its partners hold that copying data constitutes “seizure” and warrants Fourth Amendment protection.
Almost without exception, Americans have had deep fears of confronting one particular truth about George W. Bush, and that is his sadism. But with the release of the CIA’s torture report Americans can no longer turn their backs on disturbing and shameful effects of the trickle-down sadism that was a central hallmark of Bush 43′s presidency.
Bush’s recent book publication and his numerous television appearances show our folksy ex-president lovingly writing about his father. Nowhere is there an inkling that he knew about the torture report that soon would reveal his administration in all its cruelty. He’s just a friendly ex-president turned portrait painter, whom no one would ever think of as the orchestrator of a most disturbing chapter in America’s history.