The uproar over US President Donald Trump’s latest outrageous remarks attacking four members of the US Congress – Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar, all women of colour – for constantly criticising America and telling them to “go back” to the countries “from which they came” highlights the trouble with American exceptionalism.
Exceptionalism is not unique to the US. “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” Barack Obama said at a NATO summit in the spring of 2009. And the US is exceptional in many ways. It dominates the world militarily, economically and culturally, in pretty much everything from sport to the number of Nobel laureates. In 2017, it was the preferred destination for fully a fifth of all adults worldwide who desired to permanently relocate to another country. And of course, only Americans have actually walked on the moon.
The US is also exceptional in less desirable ways. It is unique among the major industrialised nations of the world in not providing its citizens with universal healthcare and has the shortest life expectancy and highest infant mortality; it incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on the globe, its income inequality far outstrips other developed countries; and few nations can match the death toll gun violence in the US exacts every year. Read more…
In one of his first calls with a head of state, President Trump fawned over Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling the man who ordered interference in America’s 2016 election that he was a great leader and apologizing profusely for not calling him sooner.
He pledged to Saudi officials in another call that he would help the monarchy enter the elite Group of Seven, an alliance of the world’s leading democratic economies.
He promised the president of Peru that he would deliver to his country a C-130 military cargo plane overnight, a logistical nightmare that set off a herculean scramble in the West Wing and Pentagon.
And in a later call with Putin, Trump asked the former KGB officer for his guidance in forging a friendship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — a fellow authoritarian hostile to the United States.
Starting long before revelations about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president rocked Washington, Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders were an anxiety-ridden set of events for his aides and members of the administration, according to former and current officials. They worried that Trump would make promises he shouldn’t keep, endorse policies the United States long opposed, commit a diplomatic blunder that jeopardized a critical alliance, or simply pressure a counterpart for a personal favor. Read more…
Trump makes US a hypocrite on human rights
More rights, more life
“No rights, nothing goes forward,” said Indigenous Amazonian leader Juan Carlos Jintiach, adorned in traditional decorations across his chest and a headdress of blue, yellow and red feathers.
In various versions, this message resounded throughout the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, which on 22–23 June assembled more than 600 participants from 83 countries, more than 7,500 on-line viewers and reached 14 million more through social media with research, stories and ambitions around the importance of rights as a solution to climate change and a fundamental necessity for life on earth.
The GLF first and foremost addressed the rights of 350 million Indigenous peoples caring for over a quarter of the world’s land surface – at least 38 million square kilometers across nearly 90 countries or politically distinct areas. This intersects with 40 percent of protected terrestrial landscapes and includes 80 percent of all the world’s biodiversity.
“We have a mother, and that mother is our territories, our common home of all the Indigenous peoples and everyone who inhabits this earth,” said Maximiliano Ferrer, general secretary of the National Coordination of Indigenous Peoples of Panama.
Without secure land rights and certainty that their lands will not be taken from them, these traditional custodians not only struggle to care for their home environments, but they also have no incentive to do so.
Rights for gender equality, youth, environmental defenders – worldwide, at least 200 people were killed defending their lands in 2017, according to a study by environmental and human rights watchdog Global Witness – and nature itself were also brought into the discussions.
“The water has rights, the tree has rights, the storm has rights,” said Jintiach, who works with the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin to protect his native lands and its peoples.
Despite an increasing number of countries enshrining the rights of nature in legislation, these rights are often not implemented due to overpowering priorities of oil, mining and plantation development, mirroring the reasons for land-related human rights violations as well.
US says N. Korea is ‘horrible’ on human rights, religious freedom
The United States said Friday it will use sanctions against North Korea for its “horrible” record on human rights and religious freedom.
Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, told reporters that the situation in North Korea is “deplorable” and cited the example of a woman who was sent to a prison camp for having a Bible.
“North Korea’s horrible on human rights and religious freedom,” he said. “They’ve been a Country of Particular Concern for years.”
The U.S. State Department on Friday released its annual report on international religious freedom, which covers the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.
It notes that the U.N. Commission of Inquiry in 2014 concluded there was an “almost complete denial” by the North Korean government of the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and that in many instances, the government’s violations of human rights constituted crimes against humanity.
In the reporting period, North Korea released a detained American pastor in May. In December, the State Department identified three entities and three North Korean officials associated with serious human rights abuses or censorship.
“We’re going to continue to exert strong pressure,” Brownback said. “Unless they change radically, they’ll continue to be a Country of Particular Concern for us.”
The U.S. in November redesignated North Korea as a CPC for the 18th consecutive year.
“These carry sanctions with them as well, and we’ll use those in North Korea and other places that are particularly egregious cases of religious freedom violations,” the ambassador said. The U.S. in November redesignated North Korea as a CPC for the 18th consecutive year.”These carry sanctions with them as well, and we’ll use those in North Korea and other places that are particularly egregious cases of religious freedom violations,” the ambassador said.
Human atrocity doesn’t start with violence, It starts with prejudice and propaganda
Not very many things scare me, but extremism in every form does.
We hear a lot about the extremism of radicalized Islamic groups, and yes, such groups are worrisome. But labeling an entire religious group with more than a billion followers as dangerous because of the heinous actions of its most radical minority element is also extremism and needs to be called out as such.
We hear about child traffickers trying to smuggle children across the border, and yes, those people are worrisome. But making sweeping generalizations about migrants from south of the border and putting asylum seekers into the same category as human traffickers is also extremism and needs to be called out as such.
When we don’t recognize extremist thinking in our own ranks, we are headed down a perilous path.
I generally think that comparing anyone to Hitler and/or the Nazis is overstating and exaggerative, but I don’t feel that way today. Some of the statements I’ve seen about Muslims and migrants from media pundits, political leaders, and average Joes echo anti-Jewish Nazi rhetoric in frightening ways.
Hermann Goering, who is quoted in this meme and pictured to the right of Hitler, was one of the highest-ranking Nazis who was captured and put on trial by the Allies after World War II ended. He was found guilty on charges of “war crimes,” “crimes against peace,” and “crimes against humanity” by the Nuremberg tribunal and sentenced to death.
The quote comes from a published account of a private conversation with a renowned psychologist, in which Goering explained how “people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.”
We need to remember that Hitler and the Nazis didn’t start the Holocaust by gassing millions of Jews.
The Holocaust started with words. Hitler and the Nazis took advantage of existing anti-Semitic sentiment by fomenting fear and prejudice and spreading false and/or misleading information (propaganda) about the Jewish people.
Death Penalty, Other Abuses “More Severe” in Iran during First Four Months of 2019
Death Penalty, Other Abuses “More Severe” in Iran during First Four Months of 2019
Iran Human Rights Monitor released a report on Monday detailing the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses over the course of April.
The report identifies specific examples of several familiar abuses, including the practice of political imprisonment the use of torture and medical deprivation as means of exerting pressure on such prisoners and the chronic overuse of the death penalty The execution of Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat stands out in that report as one of the regime’s most internationally condemned actions during the given 30-day period. Last week the cousins made headlines in the global press and were named by Amnesty International in a statement regarding Iran’s persistent defiance of international law through its execution of persons who were less than 18 years old at the time of their alleged crimesSohrabifar and Sedaghat were accused of committing rape and robbery although their trial was subject to irregularities that are commonplace in Iranian jurisprudence. Both boys were reportedly deprived of legal counsel and beaten into providing confessions. But regardless of these facts or facts regarding their culpability for the alleged
Jewish group alarmed after German police let neo-Nazis march
Germany’s leading Jewish organization expressed alarm Thursday over footage of flag-waving neo-Nazis in self-styled uniforms marching through an eastern German town on May Day unhindered by police.
Footage of the march Wednesday prompted widespread outrage in Germany and calls for authorities in the state of Saxony, where far-right sentiment is particularly strong, to step in.
“The images of the neo-Nazi march by The Third Way party in Plauen are disturbing and frightening,” said Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews.
Noting that the rally took place on the eve of Yom HaShoah , the day when Jews commemorate the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust, Schuster added that “right-wing extremists are marching in Saxony in a way that brings back memories of the darkest chapter in German history.”
German security agencies say The Third Way, a relatively small party, has close ties to far-right extremists. The march in Plauen took place to the beat of heavy drums made to look like those used by the Hitler Youth. Participants shouted slogans such as “Criminal foreigners out!” and “National socialism now!”
Saxony police said several hundred people took part in the march. Counter-protesters were kept away.
Police said they are investigating nine people for illegally covering their faces during the event and another for insulting an officer, but described the day as a success from a policing perspective because there was no violence.
The Central Council of Jews said authorities should have prevented the march from taking place at all.
“If the Saxony state government is serious about combating right-wing extremism, it must not allow such demonstrations,” Schuster said. “The Jewish community expects decisive action and visible consequences from the responsible authorities and the state government.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union is running neck-and-neck in recent opinion polls with the far-right Alternative for Germany party ahead of Sept. 1 state election in Saxony.
At a separate rally Wednesday, neo-Nazis marched through the western German city of Duisburg with signs calling for the destruction of Israel.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DENIES PROMINENT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE ENTRANCE
Barghouti, who is the co-founder of the Palestinian civil society led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), was scheduled to travel to the U.S. on a speaking tour that included public events at NYU in Washington, D.C., NYU in New York City, and Harvard University; and meetings with leading policy makers, thought-leaders and journalists. After his speaking tour, Barghouti was planning to attend his daughter’s upcoming wedding.
Barghouti’s difficulties traveling in the past were due to the Israeli government restricting his ability to exit and enter Israel by not renewing his travel document. To that end, Amnesty International issued a call on February 7, 2019 demanding Israel “end the arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Omar Barghouti.” Subsequently, he was issued an Israeli travel document. As he already possessed a U.S. visa valid through January 2021, plans for his speaking tour were confirmed. Nonetheless, on April 10, Barghouti was informed at Ben Gurion Airport by airline staff that the U.S. Consulate in Tel Aviv was directed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny him from traveling to the United States. Barghouti was not provided an explanation for his denial of entry beyond an “immigration matter.”
AAI President James Zogby made the following statement:
“Omar Barghouti is a leading Palestinian voice on human rights. Omar’s denial of entry into the U.S. is the latest example of the Trump Administration’s disregard for those rights. Having spent considerable time here as a student and while on speaking tours, Omar visiting America was never an issue before. It is clear this arbitrary political decision is motivated by this administration’s effort to silence Palestinian voices. At a time when some members of Congress are advocating for regressive anti-BDS bills and resolutions, when states have passed legislation targeting the non-violent boycott movement in violation of our protected First Amendment rights, it is disturbing that policy makers and the American people will not have the opportunity to hear from Omar directly about his views. The voices of advocates for Palestinian human rights, whether through political targeting or regressive, discriminatory laws, are silenced when discussions or debates are denied.”