Links to Start Your Week 12/7/14

I am in the midst of finals season, so there most likely will not be another post until next Sunday. But here is some reading to tide you over until I can write again.

Middle East

This is one of the best descriptions of the actual situation on the ground in East Jerusalem that I have read, covering the violence against both Palestinians and Israelis (as opposed to the corporate media that focuses almost exclusively on violence against Israelis.)

However, this is some good news on the Israel-Palestine (and Jordan) front: a coalition of nonprofits in the Jordan River Valley have been working to encourage direct engagement between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to discuss water rights. Currently, Jordan is the most water-stressed country in the world, and many Palestinian communities also lack reliable access to clean water. So resolving issues of water access are important in their own right, but might also help build trust for negotiations on other issues going forward.

Human Rights Watch has a report on the abusive labor practices of the UAE and some of the ways it particularly makes women vulnerable to abuse.

Latin America

A Hong Kong business has plans to build a canal through Nicaragua to compete with the Panama Canal. Local activists are concerned that he is a front for Beijing, that the project will prove unnecessary and uncompetitive, and that the project requires giving up Nicaraguan national sovereignty and will enrich only a few elites.

The U.S. drug war is partly to blame for the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico. Our taxes help fund the police who kidnapped these students and allegedly handed them over to a drug gang. We’re not just militarizing our own police; we’re militarizing other countries’ too, to the detriment of human rights everywhere.

The L.A. Times has an exposé of the working conditions endured by laborers on Mexico’s mega-farms that supply much of the produce for the U.S. market.

Civil Liberties/Human Rights

This is an analysis of what tear gas is and how it works. As I noted in my chemical weapons post from a while ago, I think a key detail here is that tear gas is considered a chemical weapon and banned by international law on the battlefield, but is legal to use domestically for crowd control purposes. So an army is not supposed to use it against people they are trying to kill, but police can use it against civilians.

A First Nation activist wrote a powerful message of support for the protests against the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, linking the struggle for black rights to the one for indigenous peoples. A choice quotation: “I am repeatedly told that I cannot be angry if I want transformative change – that the expression of anger and rage as emotions are wrong, misguided, and counterproductive to the movement. The underlying message in such statements is that we, as indigenous and black people, are not encouraged to express a full range of human emotions. We are encouraged to suppress responses that are not deemed palatable or respectable to settler society. But the correct emotional response to violence targeting our families is rage.”

UN human rights officials have spoken out against American police tactics that disproportionately target people of color, and the failure to indict the white police officers who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Do you search any of these words online? If so, the Department of Homeland might be monitoring you for it.

Today six detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay who were cleared for release were transferred to Uruguay for resettlement. Six might sound like a small number, but it is the largest group to be released from Gitmo since 2009. Plans have been in place for this transfer since spring, but outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had delayed signing off on them. The Obama administration holds out hope that if prisoners cleared of wrongdoing are released and the number of inmates at Guantanamo gets down under 100, it will be possible to transfer the remaining inmates to prisons on U.S. soil, which would be more cost effective and finally enable the closing of Guantanamo. Congress remains hostile to this plan. I also remain hostile to a plan that entails keeping people prisoner even if they have been deemed “untriable,” i.e. that there is insufficient evidence to bring them to trial.


This is an interesting think piece on the issue of long wars and the question: when is a war truly over? I think one of the important ideas this piece brings out is one that is often lost in discussions of the war in Afghanistan: the history there is not a story of the United States. We think the part of the story that matters is the one that begins when we arrive, but we are characters entering in media res in an epic stretching much farther back in time, and Afghanistan will not make itself anew for us. So the issue then becomes one of determining what we can accomplish, in partnership with Afghanis?


Increasing women’s access to land ownership solves a lot of problems.


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