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Posts Tagged: human rights

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kohenari:

In a post last week, I quoted Johann Hari on the myriad problems with Slavoj Žižek. Not surprisingly, fans of Žižek were quick to write to me about why Hari is wrong. The blogger at Interruptions, in fact, pointed me to an interesting piece by Graham Harman that serves as a response to Hari on the seriousness or intellectual weight of Žižek. Harman writes:

I agree with virtually none of Žižek’s politics or ontology, but I don’t see how you can read his books and not find him to be an intensely serious, well-read, and highly cultured person of immense intellectual gifts, one we are lucky to have in our midst. Enjoy him while you have him. We’re not going to have a philosopher this provocatively entertaining for centuries to come. (Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600, was probably the last.)

But most of all, the gift that Žižek has given us is the sense that it’s time to take clear, blunt positions on issues, after a two-decade interlude in which prose was always supposed to meander and hedge its bets and regard puns as if they were philosophical arguments. That was the 1980′s and much of the 1990′s, and Žižek was one of those who dealt that style a death-blow.

Let’s begin with some throat-clearing: I’ve read Žižek; I’ve taught whole courses on Marxism in the past and these courses have included works by Lenin; I continue to teach Marx regularly in several courses; I even teach a bit of Lacan in a course. I don’t see anything wrong with exposing people to their ideas, some of which I think ought to be taken quite seriously.

But now let’s get to the heart of the matter, to my critique of Žižek.

The sum total of Harman’s defense of Žižek is that he is a serious thinker and an interesting one. I don’t entirely disagree, though I think he’s more interesting as a philosopher than he is serious. But I see nothing in Harman’s defense that blunts the central criticism of Hari’s piece, namely that the things about which Žižek is serious and interesting are abhorrent. Hari is mistaken in claiming that Žižek is an incoherent or ridiculous figure; he is not. This is what Harman reacts against in his rebuttal of Hari, but it isn’t the part of Hari’s piece that interested me; what interested me was the critique of Žižek’s embracing of neo-Leninism as a political philosophy, seemingly without making a serious effort to connect the dots between what he admires in Leninism and what everyone abhors in Stalinism. On this point, Žižek’s problematic political philosophy, Harman doesn’t defend Žižek; instead, he affirms Hari’s argument.

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This pretty neatly sums up some of my major problems with Zizek, other than the fact that he’s a dirty money grubbing hypocrite. 

Source: kohenari

"No matter how hard the Military Commissions try they can’t escape the elephant in the courtroom. The five defendants in the 9/11 case were tortured by the CIA and the government is tying itself in knots trying to work around this fact."

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Tom Parker, over at the Amnesty International USA blog, tackles the politics of prisoner abuse and chickens coming home to roost now that several detainees who were subjected to torture have become defendants in a court of law.

Read more here.

(via kohenari)

(via kohenari)

Source: blog.amnestyusa.org

kohenari:

(via Patrick Jones.)

kohenari:

(via Patrick Jones.)

Source: kohenari

"My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation."

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Barack Obama • Speaking specifically about the indefinite detention rules in the National Defense Authorization Act, which were changed specifically to prevent the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents suspected of terrorism, before the law was passed by Congress. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law,” he also noted. The president is fighting two schools of thought on the matter — a number of human rights activists are worried about the ramifications of what they see as unconstitutional, while law enforcement and intelligence officials say the changes will greatly complicate their job. Obama goes far enough as to call the passage where the controversial language is included “unnecessary.” (via shortformblog)

While I hope the Obama administration will interpret 1021 benevolently, and I have some degree of faith that they will do so (call me naive), I have no such faith for coming administrations. This shouldn’t have been passed.

Source: shortformblog

ShortFormBlog: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, stuck with huge tax bill, gets huge donations

shortformblog:

  • $2.4M the size of the fine China gave to firebrand artist Ai Weiwei — to be paid in just 15 days
  • 20k number of people who have offered Weiwei donations to help pay this insane tax bill
  • $550k amount of money these people have given the artist in just five days; impressive source

Source: shortformblog

World Day Against the Death Penalty

kohenari:

Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. If you’re not working to change people’s minds about this issue, what are you doing?

As Human Rights Watch astutely notes:

October 10, 2011 is the ninth annual World Day against the Death Penalty, and this year marks 35 years since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In that time, 1,271 people have been electrocuted, shot, hanged, gassed, or put to death by lethal injection.

I’ve posted these next few sentences before, but they bear repeating today:

I know what death row looks like, I’ve talked with condemned men, and because of my interaction with the death penalty in this country I’ve been given a good look at the privileged life I lead.

There is nothing to applaud when people die. There is nothing to applaud when people fail to examine their own lives and the good fortune they have had. There is nothing to applaud when our leaders do not understand the difference between justice and vengeance. There is nothing to applaud when people believe that the only thing our government can do properly is inject some citizens full of poison.

And also these sentences:

[W]e cannot organize an opposition to the culture of death that seems to powerful in this country at the moment by looking for individual cases that inflame our passion. This is reactive; time and time again, the bulk of our organizing happens at the last moment, once a death warrant has been signed, and so all of our effort seems to go into last-ditch efforts like calling the Pardon Board, hoping for the Supreme Court to step in, and holding a rally or vigil late into the night while someone is strapped down and injected with poison.

It’s today that we need to organize; it’s today that we should begin to put one foot in front of the other and do the difficult work that will be required to rid ourselves of the death penalty for good, not simply to stave off one particular execution or another. There are organizations or coalitions of organizations in every state that are dedicated to legislatively eliminating the death penalty.

To sum up: It is both legal and proper in more than half of the states in this country for agents of the government to strap someone down and inject him full of poison in revenge for something terrible he did many years earlier. You can tell your legislators that this is an attack on human dignity; you can change that law.

Source: kohenari

Running Chicken: So, Now It's Tomorrow ...

kohenari:

Last night, I reflected about how hopeful I felt at the mobilization of so many people to fight for Troy Davis’ life. With that particular fight lost, I wondered what would happen today. In other words, in the absence of such a noteworthy case, will people continue to feel passionately about…

What he said.

Source: kohenari

kohenari:

A lot of people have been mobilized by the Troy Davis case, especially in the past few days. You called and emailed elected officials; you petitioned political appointees; you demanded that people be held accountable for a decision that put proper procedure ahead of anything else. But what will all of you do tomorrow? Will you dedicate yourselves to putting an end to the system whose flaws became so apparent to so many tonight? Or will you forget about the continued injustice of the death penalty until the next Troy Davis is moved to the death house? You have many other legitimate concerns in your daily lives and many other important issues that demand your attention. But you cared so much this time; do you think you can continue to care about the brokenness of our justice system as you do right now, tonight?

kohenari:

A lot of people have been mobilized by the Troy Davis case, especially in the past few days. You called and emailed elected officials; you petitioned political appointees; you demanded that people be held accountable for a decision that put proper procedure ahead of anything else. But what will all of you do tomorrow? Will you dedicate yourselves to putting an end to the system whose flaws became so apparent to so many tonight? Or will you forget about the continued injustice of the death penalty until the next Troy Davis is moved to the death house? You have many other legitimate concerns in your daily lives and many other important issues that demand your attention. But you cared so much this time; do you think you can continue to care about the brokenness of our justice system as you do right now, tonight?

Source: kohenari

Countries that have abolished the death penalty for any crime

flippingpirhouettes:

Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome And Principe, Senegal, Serbia (including Kosovo), Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela

…wtf united states.

You guys…the countries we decry as evil have less blood on their hands than us. Uzbekistan has the highest rate of terrorism in the world and even they don’t practice the death penalty.

(via respooptacles)

Source: amnesty.org

"Can U.S. companies be held liable if foreign governments use their products for repression?"

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Two lawsuits by three Chinese dissidents and a human rights group accusing Cisco Systems Inc. of abetting imprisonment and torture could have far-reaching impact on how U.S. technology companies conduct business in authoritarian regimes.

The lawsuits filed in May and June target a second technology company for complicity in human rights abuses in China after Yahoo Inc. in 2007 paid to settle a case in which it was accused of aiding the prosecution of dissidents.

The lawsuits are drawing broad attention from U.S. companies because these are important test cases of the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law dating back to 1789 that accommodates actions in U.S. courts to uphold international law.

So … perhaps we’ll soon see about an answer to the above question. It all seems pretty clear to me, given the specifics of the complaint against Cisco, but then again I’m someone who generally seeks to promote the idea of universal human rights …

Much more here (HT: Dave Forsythe).

(via kohenari)

(via kohenari)

Source: Yahoo!

More on the executions of Libyans, via Human Rights Watch — some disturbing photos here, so we'll just link this.

shortformblog:

A key point from the story:

Under international humanitarian law, violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds of civilians and persons not engaged in combat such as detainees is always strictly prohibited and constitutes a war crime. This is irrespective of whether the conflict is an international or non-international conflict.

This is not a fun one to read, so know that going in. (via idroolinmysleep)

(via shortformblog)

Source: hrw.org