Tag Archives: Russia

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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Nobel Peace Prize for journalists serves as reminder that freedom of the press is under threat from strongmen and social media

When the reporter becomes the story.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

 

Kathy Kiely, University of Missouri-Columbia

Thirty-two years ago next month, I was in Germany reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event then heralded as a triumph of Western democratic liberalism and even “the end of history.”

But democracy isn’t doing so well across the globe now. Nothing underscores how far we have come from that moment of irrational exuberance than the powerful warning the Nobel Prize Committee felt compelled to issue on Oct. 8, 2021 in awarding its coveted Peace Prize to two reporters. Continue reading

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With or without the Taliban, COVID and climate will inspire terrorism

Young jihadis across continents are turning to violence – and that will continue whatever the new old rulers of Afghanistan choose to do

By Paul Rogers   Published 8-18-2021 by openDemocracy

Screenshot: The Independent

Seventy-two hours after entering Kabul, the Taliban are effectively in control of all of Afghanistan. The chaotic and heart-breaking scenes at the airport stem in large part from appalling intelligence failures by the US, the British and their NATO allies, and it is difficult to see how their governments can make amends apart from providing emergency humanitarian assistance.

In the UK, there are also direct questions to be asked of Boris Johnson’s government. By last Thursday it was already clear that the Taliban were making substantial gains, but the foreign secretary stayed on holiday and Johnson took off for his own break on Saturday. In the wider international community, the UK’s standing is near rock bottom, and one suspects Johnson is not far off being a laughing stock. Continue reading

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The global implications of the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan

The Taliban is expected to take control of Afghanistan within weeks or even days. This would be the most important political development of 2021

By Paul Rogers.  Published 8-13-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Jim Roberts/Twitter

Two weeks ago, there was still a belief that the Taliban might take months to take control of Afghanistan and that they might even agree to a peace deal, perhaps viewing one as a useful step on their way to power.

That has now changed dramatically. Last week, the US called a desperate, last-ditch meeting with Taliban negotiators in Doha, the Qatari capital, involving countries in the region, as well as Russia and China. The aim was to convince the Taliban that they would be treated as a pariah state if they seized power by force. In parallel, the Afghan government offered a share of power in return for a ceasefire. Negotiations have since ended with both endeavours failing. Continue reading

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The disturbing rise of the corporate mercenaries

It’s not too late to rein in these unaccountable armed giants, but we need to act fast

By Felip Daza and Nora Miralles  Published 8-6-2021 by openDemocracy

Pre=deployment training at Tier 1 Group. Photo: T1G/Facebook

When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government in 2018, it caused an international scandal. Now, it turns out that his killers were trained in the US. In June, The New York Times reported that four Saudis involved in the killing had received paramilitary training from Tier 1 Group, a private security company based in Arkansas.

This was no renegade operation, however. Tier 1 Group, whose training had approval from the US State Department, is part of a burgeoning global industry. Corporate mercenaries – or, more properly, private security and military companies – are increasingly taking over functions that were once carried out by states, with grave implications for human rights and democracy worldwide. It’s big business, too: Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity fund that owns Tier 1 Group, also owns a string of arms manufacturers. In April 2010, Cerberus merged with DynCorp International, one of the world’s largest corporate mercenary companies. Continue reading

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Reality Winner’s Release From Federal Prison Met With Calls for Full Pardon for the NSA Whistleblower

Winner will serve the rest of her five-year sentence under the supervision of a halfway house.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2021

Screenshot: ABC News

Press freedom advocates were among those celebrating the release of former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner on Monday after her attorney announced Winner had been transferred from federal prison to a halfway house.

Alison Grinter Allen, Winner’s lawyer, said the legal team is continuing to pursue a full pardon from President Joe Biden.
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US Air Force Plans to Buy More Bombs ‘Better-Suited for Operations in the Pacific’

“The new Cold War with China currently being pushed in Washington does not serve the millions of people demanding change across this country nor the billions of people affected by U.S. foreign policy abroad.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2021

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) launches an SM-2 missile during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020. Photo: U.S. Navy/flickr/CC

Soon after President Joe Biden called for a gargantuan $753 billion military budget for fiscal year 2022, the U.S. Air Force indicated that it plans to buy fewer small-diameter bombs in favor of spending heavily on “state-of-the-art, long-range weapons that are better-suited for operations in the Pacific,” Military.com reported Tuesday.

The Air Force’s proposal is consistent with other investments outlined in Biden’s Pentagon budget request, including billions of dollars for U.S. nuclear weapon modernization and the so-called Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which is purportedly aimed at “countering China’s military build-up in Asia.” Continue reading

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Cracks in the Middle East’s stability grow wider as US influence wanes

With the region experiencing social unrest, greater influence of Russia and China, and Israel’s increasing independence, the future is uncertain

By Paul Rogers  Published 5-29-2021 by openDemocracy

A Palestinian making art out of an unexploded Israeli missile. Photo: Wajd/Twitter

The reopening of the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which reverses one of Trump’s key moves against the Palestinian Authority, was the most significant outcome of the US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s four-state visit to the Middle East this week.

President Joe Biden’s top diplomat also announced immediate support for reconstruction in Gaza, while maintaining strong support for Israel. Yet Blinken has not proposed new peace talks, nor has he engaged with Hamas, which the US and Israel still deem to be a terrorist organisation. Instead, his quick tour through Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman was mainly focused on consolidating the ceasefire. If it helps, good, but it still does nothing to address the underlying issues. Continue reading

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After 10 Years of Civil War in Syria, US (Quietly) Declares Defeat but Won’t Go Home

After a decade of bombing, invasions, exoduses and economic strife, it is clear that there are precious few winners in the Syrian Civil War — or from the rest of the Arab Spring, for that matter.

By Alan Macleod  Published 3-25-2021 by MintPress News

Montage of the Syrian Civil War. Photo: Collective, CC BY 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This March marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arab Spring and the protests that rocked Syria, which were a starting point for the ongoing civil war. That conflict has led to over half a million deaths and nearly 13 million people displaced, according to some estimates.

Now, after 10 years of attempts to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, it appears that many in the U.S. government and media are quietly conceding defeat. Continue reading

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Report of Illegal $80 Million Arms Transfer by Erik Prince to Libyan Warlord Raises Question of Who’s Backing Former Blackwater CEO

Prince has “been linked to the Trump administration, the Emirati leadership, and the Russians,” noted one expert.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-20-2021

Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. Screenshot: C-SPAN

Erik Prince, the founder and former CEO of the mercenary firm Blackwater and a close ally of former President Donald Trump, sent weapons to a Libyan warlord in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, according to a confidential U.N. document reported Friday by the New York Times.

The U.N. report, which investigators sent to the Security Council on Thursday, reportedly details how Prince sent foreign mercenaries armed with attack aircraft, gunboats, and cyberwarfare capabilities to support renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar during a major 2019 battle in eastern Libya. Continue reading

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