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A Question of Values

A Question of Values

By Morris Berman



By Gore Vidal

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Tag: Human Rights

Israel Soldiers Shells

Palestinians Push for War Crimes Inquiry

On the heels of Israel’s election and its bloody three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority is pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate the possibility of war crimes committed by Israeli commanders.

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 READ MORE

Ehud Olmert
Wikimedia Commons / Agência Brasil

Israeli PM Promises to Shield Troops From War Crime Trials

The BBC reports: “Any Israeli soldiers accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip will be given state protection from prosecution overseas, the country’s PM has said.” At issue is Israel’s use of white phosphorous, a chemical agent that is not permitted in densely populated areas because it sticks to and severely burns human tissue.

Posted on Jan 25, 2009 READ MORE


You Got Obama. What Now?

Outraged by the Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction at Barack Obama’s inauguration, Glenn Beck is calling a post-racial foul. “Even at the inauguration of a black president, it seems white America is being called racist,” Beck whined after Lowrey suggested that “white will embrace what’s right.”

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 READ MORE

Israel Soldiers Shells

Israel Admits It ‘May Have Used’ Chemical Weapon

Following accusations by human rights groups last week, Israel has finally admitted that its troops “may have used” white phosphorus shells—a chemical agent that wreaks havoc on the skin—in contravention of international law.

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 READ MORE


Holder States the Obvious

Attorney general nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced a groundbreaking hypothesis on waterboarding: It’s torture. The position, which contradicts piles of Bush-era law literature defending the practice, is just one step in an avowed process to fix many of the problems riddling current Justice Department policy.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 READ MORE

Shanghai Scape / PMorgan

China Takes the Bronze in GDP

After reconfiguring its output figures, China has finally found itself on the medal podium for gross domestic product, ousting Germany from its role as third largest economy in the world. China’s economy has grown tenfold in the past 30 years, and its development, while marveled at, worries many environmental, human rights and labor activists.

Posted on Jan 14, 2009 READ MORE

Guantanamo protest
AP photo / Mary Altaffer

U.S. Fails in Human Rights Role

It is unsurprising that a group like Human Rights Watch has condemned the Bush government for jettisoning the U.S. role as a defender of global human rights: Numerous examples—Guantanamo, gay marriage, Iraq, etc.—accentuate this failure.

Posted on Jan 14, 2009 READ MORE

Torture Proponents Have No Serious Argument

George W. Bush’s war against terror has brought out of the darker places in America a lot of people who want to torture, or like the idea of it. We know it doesn’t work, so what drives Dick Cheney and his colleague to champion such moral depravity?

Posted on Dec 18, 2008 READ MORE


Israel Blocks U.N. Envoy at Airport

There was no doubt as to Israel’s take on recent comments about Israeli-Palestinian relations made by United Nations official Richard Falk when he arrived Sunday at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, only to be denied entry and sent immediately back to Zurich.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE

Fire Police

Unions Join Greek Unrest

In a move that further complicates the anti-government unrest rocking Greece for the past four days, the country’s two biggest trade unions have declared their intention to go ahead with a planned 24-hour strike, likely to paralyze the economy in protest against government policies and incompetent handling of the economic crisis.

Posted on Dec 10, 2008 READ MORE

Cluster Bombs Feet

Cluster Bomb Treaty Steps Forward

It looks like a pact to ban current cluster bomb designs will take another step forward, with more than 100 countries slated to sign the treaty in the next couple of days. However, the U.S., Russia and China—the largest cluster bomb manufacturers—so far have refused to sign on.

Posted on Dec 3, 2008 READ MORE

married couple
AP photo / Tony Avelar

A Less Perfect Union: Gay Marriage and the Subversion of the Republic

As political leaders from the right rally their base seeking to outlaw gay marriage, and their counterparts on the left triangulate and equivocate, any real examination of the driving conflicts and stakes behind this crucial human rights concern is conspicuously missing from their debates about California’s Proposition 8.

Posted on Oct 24, 2008 READ MORE

Parwez Kambakhsh

Afghan Court Resentences Activist

Want proof that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan has brought the democracy it promised? You won’t find it in this case. An appeals court resentenced Parwez Kambakhsh, a student arrested for distributing an article on women’s rights, to a mere 20 years in prison, overturning the controversial death sentence he was given last year.

Posted on Oct 22, 2008 READ MORE


Digging Into Franco’s Bloody Reign

An acclaimed Spanish judge has ordered the unearthing of some of the unmarked graves of the tens of thousands who were killed during the first two decades of Gen. Francisco Franco’s fascist rule of Spain, formally declaring the repression by Franco and associates as a “crime against humanity.”

Posted on Oct 17, 2008 READ MORE

Gay People Holding Hands

Conn. Court Overturns Anti-Gay Marriage Law

The Supreme Court of Connecticut joined the ranks of California and Massachusetts on Friday to (finally) legalize same-sex marriage. The decision comes at a potentially prickly time as the presidential election looms, although both John McCain and Barack Obama have, so far, exerted little rhetorical effort to make gay rights a wedge issue in the campaign.

Posted on Oct 10, 2008 READ MORE

Palestinian Security Forces Accused of Torture

Fighting between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas has led to human rights abuses in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. A Palestinian human rights organization recently drew similar conclusions. Both sides have admitted to at least some of the findings of the report.

Posted on Jul 29, 2008 READ MORE

Douche With Knife: Luciano Menendez

Argentine ‘Dirty War’ Murderer Gets Life

Former Argentine army officer and current scumbag Luciano Benjamin Menendez finally got what should have happened to him 30 years ago: a life sentence in jail for the kidnap, torture and murder of anti-dictatorship activists in 1977.

Posted on Jul 25, 2008 READ MORE

Chinese Police
AP photo / Ng Han Guan

China to Allow ‘Protest Lite’

Taking cues from past Olympic protests and the U.S.‘s notoriously ironic “free speech zones,” the Chinese government has declared its openness to dissidents criticizing the state—so long as dissent is contained in one of three areas, does not threaten vague notions of national unity, and is submitted five days beforehand to the local security bureau.

Posted on Jul 23, 2008 READ MORE

Canada’s Slight Detour

Posted on Jul 20, 2008 READ MORE

Colombia: Celebrate the Release, Not the Regime

It is fantastic to see Ingrid Betancourt free, but the celebration of her release should not be confused with celebration of the Colombian government.

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 READ MORE

Canada to Apologize to Indigenous Groups

Following a similar move by Australia earlier this year, Canada’s prime minister will offer a formal apology to the country’s indigenous peoples for the state’s unjust treatment of them, most notably the forced enrollment of more than 100,000 native students in state-funded Christian boarding schools aimed at assimilating them into white society.

Posted on Jun 11, 2008 READ MORE

Caballo y Jara
Memoria Popular

Probe Reopened in ‘73 Murder of Chilean Singer

The case of Victor Jara, the famous folk musician murdered by dictator Augusto Pinochet’s army in 1973, will be reopened due to new evidence provided by the musician’s family. Human rights groups see Jara’s case as important in keeping attention on Chilean human rights abusers who for the past 35 years have avoided jail time.

Posted on Jun 4, 2008 READ MORE

Mugabs and Tsvangs
Agence France-Presse / Alexander Joe

Mugabe Plays Politics ... With Everything

From detaining his opponent while in the middle of a runoff election campaign to suspending international aid operations due to groups’ alleged bias against the government, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has stopped at nothing to keep himself in power.

Posted on Jun 4, 2008 READ MORE

Egyptian Blogger Endured ‘Weeks of Torture and Humiliation’

An Egyptian blogger, Karim el-Beheiri, who was arrested with two former co-workers from Mahalla’s Misr Spinning and Weaving company (all three were fired after their arrest) on April 6 and released Sunday, said he and his colleagues were shocked, beaten and denied sustenance during their ordeal behind bars.

Posted on Jun 2, 2008 READ MORE


Ex-NBA Star:  Olympians Should Speak About Human Rights in China

John Amaechi is not your typical basketball star. The former center for Utah, Orlando and Cleveland is the first NBA alumnus to openly declare that he’s gay, and now he’s combining sports and cultural politics in another sense by serving as Amnesty International’s sports ambassador to this summer’s Beijing Olympics.

Posted on May 31, 2008 READ MORE

tuol sleng bed
Flickr / SqueakyMarmot

Amnesty International Points to 60 Years of Failure

World leaders are about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, but leading human rights organization Amnesty International says they should first apologize for failing to tackle widespread abuses around the world. The group’s annual report cites 81 countries for torture or maltreatment and chastises the United States for setting such a poor example.

Posted on May 28, 2008 READ MORE

Burma Cyclone Aftermath
Agence France-Presse

U.N. to Resume Burma Aid

The U.N. has announced it will resume aid to Burma after conflicts over how food and equipment were to be distributed grounded relief flights. Cyclone Nargis has killed at least 22,000 Burmese, and the ruling junta has been categorically criticized for its ineptitude in dealing with the disaster.

Posted on May 9, 2008 READ MORE

Sami Al-Haj

U.S. Releases Journalist After 6 Years

Sami al-Haj, a cameraman for Al-Jazeera, was released Thursday evening after spending almost seven years in U.S. custody, six of those as an inmate at Guantanamo Bay. Haj was never charged with any crime, nor was any evidence against him ever revealed.

Posted on May 2, 2008 READ MORE

Pope Benedict XVI
AP photo / Jeff Zelevansky, pool

A Papal Primer on Global Diplomacy

Pope Benedict XVI’s latest major stop on his U.S. tour took him to the United Nations, where he held forth about the need to prioritize human rights for all and pointed out how the majority of power to impact global events still remains in the hands of very few key players.

Posted on Apr 18, 2008 READ MORE

Suharto image
AP photo / Vincent Thian

Controversies Live On After Suharto’s Death in Indonesia

On Monday, a day after his death, former Indonesian President Suharto was given a state funeral and buried in Java, sparking mixed reaction as Indonesians recalled both the strong points and the controversial (even despotic) sides of the man who was their nation’s leader for more than 30 years.

Posted on Jan 28, 2008 READ MORE

Bush and Musharraf
White House photo by Eric Draper

Bush Says Musharraf ‘Hasn’t Crossed the Line’

Just weeks after publicly fretting about Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial power grab, George W. Bush has decided that the Pakistani president “hasn’t crossed the line” and “truly is somebody who believes in democracy.” It’s an assessment that would be comical if it didn’t have to do with the freedom of millions of people and the security of dozens of nuclear weapons.

Posted on Nov 21, 2007 READ MORE


Rambo to the Rescue in Burma

If the combined power of thousands of Buddhist monks staging a nonviolent protest isn’t enough to oust Burma’s oppressive junta, one American hero (cue movie trailer voice-over) is coming to fight for democracy in a faraway land—or at least stick his nose in another nation’s business. 

Posted on Nov 15, 2007 READ MORE

Diego Garcia

Britain to Investigate ‘CIA Black Site’

The British government’s Foreign Affairs Committee will look into charges by a number of sources, including human rights groups and a retired U.S. general, that sovereign British land has been used as a CIA “black site” prison. The island of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, has been leased to the United States and is the site of an American military base but remains British territory.

Posted on Oct 19, 2007 READ MORE

Europe Rallies Against Capital Punishment

Aside from fatty foods that are somehow good for you, a laissez-faire attitude toward religion and a decidedly more relaxed approach to reproduction, the biggest cultural difference between Europe and the United States could be Europeans’ general disdain for the death penalty. Lest we forget that all 27 European Union states have abolished the practice, the entire continent has taken a day to reflect upon the barbarity of execution.

Posted on Oct 10, 2007 READ MORE

Gordon Brown: Burma Death Toll ‘Far Greater’

The British prime minister has warned that the number of dead in Burma is probably “far greater than is being reported so far.” The world community has widely condemned the Burmese government’s violent response to the thousands of protesters who’ve been flooding the streets of Yangon.

Posted on Sep 28, 2007 READ MORE

marching monks
AP Photo

Burma Protest Goes Massive

An estimated 100,000 people marched through the streets of Yangon on Monday in an ongoing protest that has rapidly swelled from just dozens of people. Burma’s notoriously inhumane military government has traditionally been quick to stanch dissent but has yet to seriously confront the demonstrators, who were led by roughly 20,000 Buddhist monks.

Posted on Sep 24, 2007 READ MORE

monks protest
AP Photo

Monks Lead Protest in Myanmar

Thousands of Buddhist monks and supporters have taken to the streets of Yangon (Rangoon) and elsewhere, as the biggest demonstration against Burma’s brutal military government in nearly 20 years continues to gain momentum. (Updated)

Posted on Sep 23, 2007 READ MORE

U.S. and UK Want U.N. Back in Iraq

The United Nations hasn’t had much of a presence in Iraq since a car bomb blew up its headquarters back in 2003, but that could soon change. The U.S. and Britain have begun pushing a Security Council resolution that would expand the U.N.‘s mandate in Iraq, with a focus on diplomacy and human rights.

Posted on Aug 2, 2007 READ MORE

Young Scholars Tell the President ‘No’ on Torture

Sometimes it takes a brave, idealistic young person (or nearly 50 of them) to break all the rules of pomp and circumstance, pass the president a note, and school him about human rights.

Posted on Jul 10, 2007 READ MORE

Raul Castro

Report: Rights Abuse Is Easing Under Raul

An independent Cuban human rights organization says Cuba has taken fewer and freed more political prisoners under the rule of Raul Castro, compared with his brother, Fidel. But the group says human rights abuses by the government are still a problem, as is the U.S. embargo, which it says imposes unnecessary hardship on the Cuban people.

Posted on Jul 5, 2007 READ MORE

Vatican Shuns Amnesty International

The Vatican is urging Catholics not to donate to Amnesty International because, it says, the group selectively promotes abortion. The human rights organization says the church has misrepresented its policy and, in the process, imperiled human rights. The World Health Organization estimates that 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions.

Posted on Jun 13, 2007 READ MORE

Gitmo Detainee Commits Suicide

A Saudi prisoner at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay has apparently committed suicide, the U.S. military said in a statement. Human rights organizations have repeatedly warned that indefinite detentions—some now longer than five years—combined with harsh “interrogation techniques” and unfair trials could drive detainees to take their own lives.

Posted on May 30, 2007 READ MORE

AP Photo / Mark Wilson, Pool

Shutting Down Guantanamo

Jumana Musa, advocacy director for domestic human rights and international justice at Amnesty International, speaks with Truthdig about the war on human rights, why conditions at Guantanamo have only gotten worse and why she has hope for the future.

Posted on Apr 24, 2007 READ MORE

AP Photo / Mark Wilson, Pool

Shutting Down Guantanamo

Jumana Musa, advocacy director for domestic human rights and international justice at Amnesty International, speaks with Truthdig about the war on human rights, why conditions at Guantanamo have only gotten worse and why she has hope for the future.

Posted on Apr 24, 2007 READ MORE

Yahoo Sued for Collaborating With China

A human rights organization is suing Yahoo for assisting the Chinese government in arresting dissidents by providing information on its users. Like Google and Microsoft, Yahoo has defended the practice of handing over data to China as a necessary evil mitigated by the benefits of the Internet, crippled and corrupt though it may be.

Posted on Apr 20, 2007 READ MORE

Cuba Leads Charge to End U.N. Human Rights Investigations

The newly formed U.N. Human Rights Council is debating whether to do away with the special rapporteurs whose job is to investigate global human rights abuses. A group of countries typically subjected to such scrutiny, with Cuba and China at the helm, argues that domestic reports should be sufficient.

Posted on Mar 20, 2007 READ MORE

China to U.S.: You Should Talk

The State Department recently released its regular report of human rights abuses around the world and, as expected, listed China as one of the worst offenders. But Beijing fired back with its own report and a long list U.S. violations, including everything from disregard for civilian casualties to treating racial minorities as an underclass.

Posted on Mar 7, 2007 READ MORE

Egyptian Blogger Faces 4 Years in Prison

Free-speech and human rights groups are decrying an Egyptian court’s decision to jail blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman for criticizing Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his online forum. Critics and fellow bloggers fear Suleiman’s four-year sentence will set the stage for more arrests and fewer alternatives to state-controlled media outlets in his country.

Posted on Feb 23, 2007 READ MORE

cluster bombs

Israeli Bombing ‘Broke U.S. Arms Deal Terms’

A preliminary investigation by the State Department has found that Israel’s cluster bombing of civilian areas of Lebanon violated terms of an arms agreement with the United States.  Israel receives roughly $2 billion annually in military assistance from the U.S., but Washington places classified conditions on how American munitions can be used.

Posted on Jan 29, 2007 READ MORE

Gitmo prisoner

Report: EU Nations Knew of CIA Abductions

A damning report making its way through the European Union Parliament says a number of EU countries knew of CIA abductions and operations in Europe related to the practice of extraordinary rendition, including more than 1,000 covert flights over European airspace. The report also says the UK, Italy and Poland resisted the investigation.

Posted on Jan 23, 2007 READ MORE

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