UPDATE 2/13: Abrams is out! Not because he’s an all-around nasty piece of work (see below) but because he didn’t support Trump in the primaries.
Elliott Abrams avoided a felony conviction for his official crimes during the Iran-Contra era by pleading guilty in 1991 to misdemeanor charges of withholding evidence from Congress. Then he returned in the State Department under Bush II. Now he may be coming back for a third act as second-in-command in the Trump State Department. According to the New York Times, Abrams “is described politely in foreign policy circles as a ‘controversial’ figure, but that deeply understates the case.” I think calling him a war criminal would not be overstating the case. Continue reading
More than 340,000 people fled the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, this year. Millions of people have been internally displaced, along with the hundreds of thousands who have fled into Uganda since fighting began at the end of 2013. More than 50,000 people have been killed in the civil war. Now, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says, “the risk of these mass atrocities, which include recurring episodes of ethnic cleansing, escalating into possible genocide is all too real.” Continue reading
Lots of news from the water protectors at Standing Rock, so here’s a quick update on:
- police repression
- continuing encampment
- Army Corps of Engineers actions (okay, this is more of an educated guess – I doubt that the Corps itself knows what it’s doing)
- three calls you can make
Photo from funeral bombing, posted on Facebook.
As the campaign circus goes on across the United States, U.S. bombs are killing civilians in Yemen, potentially making the United States complicit in war crimes. Last weekend’s bombing of a funeral is only the latest and most dramatic case. The funeral in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, had been announced in advance. Saudi warplanes hit hard, twice. Then, after first responders arrived on the scene to help victims, the bombers returned to hit them two more times. The bombers killed at least 140 people and wounded 525 more. One rescuer described the scene as “a lake of blood.” Continue reading
One more black man tragically, senselessly murdered by police. That’s what I thought last night, going to bed with Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge on my mind. Woke up this morning to find another black man senselessly murdered by police — right here. Philando Castile, St. Paul Central grad, cafeteria worker at J.J. Hill school, stopped for a broken taillight and then shot to death by the police officer. In Falcon Heights. Less than five miles from my home. What can I do? What can any of us do?
I started by just showing up at a vigil, adding my body and voice to those gathered to remember Philando Castile and to protest his killing. You can do that, too. Next up: a vigil and march organized by parents at J.J. Hill Montessori School where Philando Castile worked. They knew him. Their kids loved him. We can put our bodies there to say enough — no more police shooting of black men in our city, state, nation. You can do it, too. Just come to the school at 998 Selby Avenue in St. Paul (a few blocks east of Lexington) at 5:30. Continue reading
As bad as every day’s news looks, Christof Heyns says, the world is actually getting less violent. He should know. Serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions since 2010, Heyns has spent years looking at the worst of what the world has to offer. But, he says, over four centuries, the percentage of people dying because of violence has declined. “Our standards and awareness are increasing,” he said, but the world is getting less violent.
Heyns spoke at the annual awards dinner of the Advocates for Human Rights on June 1. The work of The Advocates is part of the reason that the world is getting less violent. Continue reading
Dr. Edwige Mubonzi. Photograph courtesy of Dr. Mubonzi.
Death threats drove Dr. Edwige Mubonzi from her home and work in the Democratic Republic of Congo about two and a half years ago. Her work – surgically repairing the physical damage of rapes – brought the death threats. Rape as a weapon of war, in the ongoing struggle for control of the country’s rich mineral resources, has made DR Congo the rape capital of the world. Continue reading
I remember meeting Bertha Oliva in Tegucigalpa in the late 1980s, the wall outside her small office tagged with graffiti death threats, gunshots in the night bringing an unnatural stillness to the city center, silencing even the dogs and roosters. Decades of human rights defense later, Bertha Oliva told Congress last week that death squads are back in Honduras. Death squads, like the one that kidnapped her husband back in the 1980s. Death squads, like the ones that threatened her and the Committee for the Relatives of the Disappeared throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. Continue reading
[UPDATED 3/11/2016 – see below] Berta Cáceres. indigenous and environmental activist, was murdered in her home on March 3. She knew she was in danger. She had received death threat after death threat. Because she was in danger, Gustavo Castro Soto of Otros Mundos, a Mexican organization, was accompanying Cáceres. He was shot, too, but now the danger to Gustavo comes from the Honduran government, which has insisted on removing him from the safety of the Mexican embassy and returning him to La Esperanza. Here’s how Otros Mundos and the Alliance for Global Justice describe his current danger: Continue reading
[UPDATED 3/4/3016] Berta Caceres was assassinated today, murdered in her sleep, in her home in Honduras at about 1 a.m. Berta was coordinator and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPIHN) and the 2015 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize. Her death is not the first: in 2015, Global Witness reported that “at least two people are being killed for taking a stand against environmental destruction” every single week: Continue reading