Tag Archives: Military

Will Facebook respect international rights or the whims of angry rulers?

A muddle of decisions indicates that Facebook and its ‘Supreme Court’ are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights

By Linda Bonyo   Published 10-18-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Louis Jadwong/Twitter

Facebook’s ‘Trump ban’ received breathless coverage earlier this year, when the Facebook Oversight Board (FOB) – the supposedly independent entity established by the tech giant to adjudicate its content decisions – ‘ruled’ that the former president’s ban from the social media site should be upheld.

Experts from WIRED’s Gilad Edelman to scholar Kate Klonick have used the Trump decision to argue that the FOB is working.

But buried amidst that coverage – and that surrounding Facebook’s botched handling of COVID disinformation – are a muddle of decisions indicating that Facebook and its Oversight Board are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights. In fact, they may be headed towards a showdown. Continue reading

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As CBO Shows How to Cut $1 Trillion From Pentagon, Progressives Urge Spending on ‘True Security’

“Saving a trillion dollars that could be devoted to preventing pandemics, addressing climate change, or reducing racial and economic injustice is no small matter.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-7-2021

Progressive foreign policy experts say a new Congressional Budget Office report offering three options for slashing Pentagon spending by $1 trillion over the next decade underscores the imperative to invest in programs of social uplift and climate action. Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/CC

Progressive foreign policy experts on Thursday pointed to a new Congressional Budget Office report that concludes it is possible to slash a trillion dollars in military spending over the coming decade without reducing force effectiveness as further proof that the United States can and should prioritize investments in tackling pandemics, inequality, and the climate crisis.

“The U.S. military budget is now higher than it was at the peak of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, or the Cold War,” said Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). “This report shows that there are viable options for immediate, substantial reductions to the Pentagon budget.” Continue reading

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An autonomous robot may have already killed people – here’s how the weapons could be more destabilizing than nukes

The term ‘killer robot’ often conjures images of Terminator-like humanoid robots. Militaries around the world are working on autonomous machines that are less scary looking but no less lethal.
John F. Williams/U.S. Navy

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.

Autonomous weapon systems are robots with lethal weapons that can operate independently, selecting and attacking targets without a human weighing in on those decisions. Militaries around the world are investing heavily in autonomous weapons research and development. The U.S. alone budgeted US$18 billion for autonomous weapons between 2016 and 2020. Continue reading

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Critics Fume as ICC Excludes US From Probe Into Afghan War Crimes

“Allowing powerful states to get away with multi-year, multi-continent torture against so many feeds impunity for all.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-27-2021

Photo: pixabay

A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.

“It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement. Continue reading

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UN Chief Warns Humanity Is ‘Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation’

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26=2021

ICAN campaigners protest outside the permanent mission of Japan to the United Nations at Geneva, during the May session of the UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in May 2016. Photo: ICAN/flickr/CC

In remarks ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that humankind remains “unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation,” with roughly 14,000 atomic bombs stockpiled across the globe.

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good, eliminate nuclear weapons from our world, and usher in a new era of trust and peace,” said Guterres, who observed in a statement last week that hundreds of nuclear bombs are just a “pushed button away from being launched.” Continue reading

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‘This Is Big’: House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, “sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-23-2021

Ro Khanna at a symposium at the Brookings Institute in 2019. Photo: Paul Morigi/flickr/CC

Anti-war groups on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House’s passage of an amendment to the annual defense bill that would cut off the flow to Saudi Arabia of U.S. logistical support and weapons “that are bombing civilians” in Yemen.

“This is BIG,” tweeted the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) following the afternoon 219-207 vote, which fell largely along party lines, with just 11 Democrats voting “no.” Continue reading

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‘Dismaying’: Human Rights Groups Blast Biden Plan to OK Millions in Military Aid for Egypt

A coalition of 18 organizations called the administration’s decision “a terrible blow to its stated commitment to human rights and to the rule of law.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-14-2021

Members of the women-led peace group CodePink, including co-founder Medea Benjamin (center), protest against Egyptian human rights abuses in this undated photo. Photo: CodePink

Left-leaning Democratic lawmakers joined human rights groups Tuesday in decrying the Biden administration’s reported decision to withhold a small portion of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt over human rights crimes perpetrated by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity—the administration’s decision had not yet been announced—told multiple media outlets Tuesday that of the $300 million in military aid to Egypt that is subject to human rights conditions, $170 million will be initially authorized. Continue reading

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Investigations of US Drone Attack That Killed 10 Afghans Find No Evidence of Explosives in Vehicle

“The Pentagon has some serious explaining to do,” said one reporter. “Now consider how many strikes go unexamined by Western media.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  {oblished 9-11-2021

Photo: Dr. Keith Rose/Twitter

The last known missile launched by the U.S. during its 20-year war in Afghanistan—the August 29 drone attack in a Kabul neighborhood that killed 10 civilians—was described by Gen. Mark Milley as a “righteous strike” that targeted a parked vehicle suspected of holding explosives, along with the driver and another man suspected of having militant ties.

A pair of investigations published Friday, however, revealed that—contrary to the Pentagon’s claims—there were no bombs in the car, the men accused of “suspicious” behavior were engaged in peaceful activities related to the driver’s job, and there were eight additional defenseless victims in the vicinity of the sedan destroyed by a missile fired after several hours of surveillance. Continue reading

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Warnings of Trump-Like Insurrection Ahead of Bolsonaro Rallies in Brazil

“The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule, Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-6-2021

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil speaking during the Session: “Special Address by Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil“ at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2018. Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr/CC

As supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prepare to take to the streets for orchestrated demonstrations Tuesday, warnings within the country and across the world are growing that the embattled right-wing leader is seeking to foment an insurrection or possibly a military coup with similar undertones to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol incited by former President Donald Trump.

“Right now, President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies—including white supremacist groups, military police, and public officials at every level of government—are preparing a nation-wide march against the Supreme Court and Congress on 7 September, stoking fears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy,” said over 150 lawmakers, academics, and former government officials in a joint statement issued Monday. Continue reading

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Demand for ‘Moratorium on Drone Warfare’ Follows Latest US Killing of Afghan Civilians

“The U.S. went into Afghanistan seeking revenge and bombing civilians. Twenty years later, the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan seeking revenge and bombing civilians.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-30-2021

Aftermath of a drone strike in Kabul on August 29,2021. Photo: Dr. Keith Rose/Twitter

The largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States demanded Monday that the Biden administration immediately put in place a “moratorium on drone warfare” after the U.S. killed at least 10 Afghan civilians—including half a dozen children—with an airstrike in Kabul over the weekend.

“Enough is enough,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement. “For more than ten years, our government’s drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Muslim world—destroying family homes, wedding parties, and even funeral processions. The civilian casualties in Kabul are simply the latest victims of this misused technology.” Continue reading

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