Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

2021 Was Deadliest Year for Palestinians Since 2014: Israeli Human Rights Group

According to analysis, Israeli forces and settlers killed over 300 people in the occupied territories and left nearly 900 homeless.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-4-2022 by Common Dreams

Israeli strikes have destroyed buildings and infrastructure in Gaza. Photo: UNOCHA/Samar Elouf

A Jerusalem-based human rights group on Tuesday released new statistics revealing that Israeli security forces and armed settlers‘ violence against Palestinians in the illegally occupied territories escalated in 2021 to the highest levels in seven years.

Last year was the deadliest year for Palestinians living under occupation since 2014, when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge and killed thousands in the Gaza Strip, according to B’Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Continue reading

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‘Anti-Democratic and Cowardly’: US Building New Secret Courtroom at Guantánamo

“The entire enterprise,” said one critic of the tribunal process, “makes a mockery out of what the U.S. pretends to stand for.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-30-2021 by Common Dreams

Witness Against Torture demonstrates for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay offshore prison. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

Human rights advocates and attorneys representing Guantánamo Bay detainees on Thursday decried a secret new courtroom reportedly being built by the Pentagon at the notorious offshore U.S. prison.

The New York Times reports Gitmo’s new second courtroom—which will cost $4 million—will not allow members of the public to witness proceedings against detainees to be tried for alleged terrorism-related offenses. People wishing to view those trials will have the option of watching delayed video footage in a separate building. Continue reading

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UN fails to agree on ‘killer robot’ ban as nations pour billions into autonomous weapons research

Humanitarian groups have been calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.
Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

James Dawes, Macalester College

Autonomous weapon systems – commonly known as killer robots – may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons debated the question of banning autonomous weapons at its once-every-five-years review meeting in Geneva Dec. 13-17, 2021, but didn’t reach consensus on a ban. Established in 1983, the convention has been updated regularly to restrict some of the world’s cruelest conventional weapons, including land mines, booby traps and incendiary weapons. Continue reading

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Myanmar’s Spring Revolution: a history from below

Women factory workers took to the streets and catalysed a mass movement

By Ko Maung.  Published 12-15-2021 by openDemocracy

Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup Feb. 14,2021. Photo: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye/Wilimedia Commons/CC

A year before the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar, striking workers from the Tai Yi shoe factory protested in front of their workplace to demand an increase in their daily wages. To raise their spirits, the workers sang the revolutionary anthem, ‘Thway Thitsar’.

In Myanmar’s Spring Revolution, the mass movement against the 2021 coup, ‘Thway Thitsar’ could be heard all over the country. “The present is critical, brothers and sisters. We must have solidarity.” A regular feature of workers’ protests, the anthem had now become part of the revolutionary movement. I say this not to highlight the song itself, but to call attention to the history of worker organising and struggle in Myanmar – a history that laid the groundwork for the Spring Revolution. Simply put, had workers not previously organised unions inside their factories, the protests that catalysed the Spring Revolution would not have happened. The February 6 protests ignited the anger of people across the country and led to nation-wide protests in the days that followed. Continue reading

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2021 Saw Record ‘Surge’ of 488 Journalists Detained Worldwide, Report Reveals

“The extremely high number of journalists in arbitrary detention is the work of three dictatorial regimes.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-16-2021 by Common Dreams

The president of IJAVN Pham Chi Dung (right), its vice president Nguyen Tuong Thuy (left), and its editor Le Huu Minh Tuan (center, back) are seen during their trial in Ho Chi Minh City’s people’s court in Vietnam. (Photo: Luat Khoa/RSF)

Reporters Without Borders announced Thursday that this year has featured a 20% surge in the number of journalists arbitrarily detained worldwide, documenting at least 488 cases, the highest figure since the global press freedom group began its annual roundup in 1995.

There are also at least 65 journalists being held hostage around the world, according to the group, also known by its French name, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF). Continue reading

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Incarceration of Journalists Hits All-Time High Amid ‘Growing Intolerance of Independent Reporting’

“This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-9-2021 by Common Dreams

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an imprisoned journalist, a native of Philadelphia, and author of ten books penned in prison. He’s been in prison for 39 years. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

Nearly 300 journalists are currently languishing behind bars around the globe—an all-time high in recorded history—according to a new report published Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which described 2021 as “an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom.”

The U.S.-based nonprofit’s annual prison census found that 293 reporters were incarcerated worldwide as of December 1, up from the previous record-high of 280 last year. Continue reading

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‘Bombshell’: Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an “in-plain-sight national security threat,” one expert warned that “a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-3-2021 by Common Dreams

Photo: Unsplash

Multiple news outlets revealed Friday that Apple notified at least 11 U.S. State Department officials that their iPhones were recently hacked by an unknown party or parties with spyware developed by the private Israeli firm NSO Group.

The “bombshell,” first reported by Reuters, comes after Apple sued NSO Group last month in an effort to protect iPhone users from its Pegasus spyware, which the Israeli company claims to only sell to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies and was the focus of a major reporting project earlier this year. Continue reading

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EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel’s ‘Day of Destruction’ of Palestinian Homes

“Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-28-2021 by Common Dreams

sraeli forces use bulldozers including a U.S.-made Caterpillar to destroy Palestinian homes in illegally occupied East Jerusalem. (Photo: jenniferlisa/Flickr/cc)

The European Union on Friday joined a prominent Israeli human rights group in condemning last week’s demolition of multiple homes in occupied East Jerusalem, an illegal action that displaced 22 Palestinians including 15 children.

“We reiterate our call to halt demolitions and any other unlawful practices that coerce Palestinians out of their homes,” the European Union Delegation to the Palestinians (DPAL) tweeted. Continue reading

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UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement ‘To Benefit Humanity’

“We’re at a critical juncture in history,” said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. “We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-26-2021 by Common Dreams

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay speaks during a November 25, 2021 press conference announcing the adoption of a global artificial intelligence framework agreement by all 193 member states. (Photo: Christelle Alix/UNESCO/Flickr/cc)

Tech ethicists on Friday applauded after all 193 member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization adopted the first global framework agreement on the ethics of artificial intelligence, which acknowledges that “AI technologies can be of great service to humanity” and that “all countries can benefit from them,” while warning that “they also raise fundamental ethical concerns.”

“AI is pervasive, and enables many of our daily routines—booking flights, steering driverless cars, and personalizing our morning news feeds,” UNESCO said in a statement Thursday. “AI also supports the decision-making of governments and the private sector. AI technologies are delivering remarkable results in highly specialized fields such as cancer screening and building inclusive environments for people with disabilities. They also help combat global problems like climate change and world hunger, and help reduce poverty by optimizing economic aid.” Continue reading

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In First, US Labeled ‘Backsliding’ Democracy as Global Authoritarianism Grows

A new report calls the rejection of the 2020 election results by many in the Republican Party as an “historic turning point” for the United States.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-22-2021 by Common Dreams

The Capitol riot. Photo: Blink O’fanaye/flickr/CC

For the first time in its four years of compiling annual data on the state of democracy around the world, an international think tank added the United States to its list of “backsliding” democracies in the report it released Monday, pointing to factors including politicians’ continued false claims that the 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate as one of the key elements weakening the country’s democratic system.

The Global State of Democracy report, released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), called former President Donald Trump’s public questioning of the election results in November 2020 “a historic turning point” both for U.S. democracy and the world, pointing to a knock-on effect in several countries. Continue reading

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