Oligarchs, Demagogues and Mass Revolts . . . Against Democracy

By: Saturday December 28, 2013 8:00 am

In ancient Rome, especially during the late Republic, oligarchs resorted to mob violence to block, intimidate, assassinate or drive from power the dominant faction in the Senate. While neither the ruling or opposing factions represented the interests of the plebeians, wage workers, small farmers or slaves, the use of the ‘mob’ against the elected Senate, the principle of representative government and the republican form of government laid the groundwork for the rise of authoritarian “Caesars” (military rulers) and the transformation of the Roman republic into an imperial state.

 

Israel’s Prawer Plan: A New Trail of Tears

By: Tuesday December 3, 2013 6:29 pm

The Israeli government and Netanyahu administration are going ahead with plans to ethnically cleanse between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens from the area of their ancient homeland into new abodes. It is the so-called Prawer Plan (or Prawer-Begin Plan).

Facebook Squashes Online Dissent of Turkish Opposition

By: Thursday August 1, 2013 2:00 pm

Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim had announced some weeks ago that Twitter did not respond positively to a “cooperation” agreement to determine and spot those who get involved in “criminal activities” by expressing their views online. This statement’s rhetoric would make any reader feel that Facebook is cooperating with the Turkish government, and it was Twitter that was declared a menace to society by Prime Minister Erdogan.

“Tools of Freedom”: EU Parliament Conference on Events in Turkey

By: Friday June 21, 2013 2:20 pm

The first overall message to be understood was that the protests were seen as a positive outcome of a process of transition and democratization that has been going on in Turkey for a long time now. The protests and the ability to make use of liberties and freedoms and the general outcry against any limits on those rights and liberties are generally perceived as a positive aspect of the protests, which remained peaceful and civil until police intervention disturbed the scene. In general, it is indeed promising to see civil society in general demanding that the Europeanization process continue and calling for deep reforms of the state system, as opposed to the top-down reform policies one could see in Turkish politics until recently.

Turkey: As AKP Aims to Silence International Media, Police Continue to Storm Taksim; Uprising Spreads

By: Sunday June 16, 2013 7:00 am

Starting with the informatory talks between the government and the council of Taksim Solidarity (to save Gezi Park), the tense situation in Turkey had cooled down for a short period of time. Before the meeting took place, an AKP adviser declared that they would want to invite several people from TS but they cannot be Sunni Muslim or support a rightist ideology. Two witnesses had confirmed that Erdogan had yelled and shouted at TS members during the meeting and did not care to listen to their demands. The demands were clear, Gezi would be saved from destruction, all those detained across the country for supporting Gezi would be released without further investigation and there would be no attacks on peaceful protesters.

Turkey: Regime Ignores International Community’s Outrage

By: Wednesday June 12, 2013 7:35 am

Here is a nightly report on the events in Turkey for 12-6-13:

Another day and night of excessive police force, tons of gas of many types, TOMAs, panzers and thousands of batons mark a historic and unforgettably dark day in history for Taksim and for Turkey. Although Governor Mutlu had declared that there would be no intervention and that the lives of those in and around Gezi Park are under the police’s responsibility and will be safeguarded, there came a wave of attacks and raids against the protesters. While the peaceful protests were continuing, the Governor stated that the square needed cleaning and sent out expedition teams for yet another dawn operation. As day broke, all TV channels broadcasted live how “a few protesters were throwing Molotov cocktails at police while barricades were being lifted.” However, the people throwing Molotovs were in fact undercover policemen, which was proven later by their guns and transmitters.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Juan E. Mendez and Marjory Wentworth, Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights

By: Saturday December 3, 2011 1:59 pm

What could possibly make a human being torture another human being?

That’s a question that, as a young boy, I recall asking my grandparents—Holocaust survivors—after they described to me in vivid detail the torture they and other members of my extended family were subjected to by the Nazis during World War II.

It’s a question I returned to earlier this year when I had the opportunity to interview a veteran of the US Army Reserves who was torn up about the torture he says he witnessed and participated in against some “war on terror” detainees while serving as a guard at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. [That guard, Pfc. Albert Melise, has since been barred from reenlistment for speaking to me.]

The Curious Case of the Warlord and the Supermodel

By: Saturday August 7, 2010 7:00 pm

Entering its third year, the International Tribunal for Sierra Leone trial of Charles Taylor on charges of crimes against humanity took an odd twist when supermodel Naomi Campbell was asked to testify about uncut ‘blood diamonds’ she had received from Taylor in South Africa in 1997. To most everyone’s surprise, she declined to testify.

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