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Human Rights Tools for a Changing World

The Advocates for Human Rights’ Executive Director Robin Phillips is in London today speaking about The Advocates’ human rights monitoring work at the International Bar Association’s colloquium on&

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2014's lesson: Take action. Lives depend on it.

December has been a terrible month for human rights—from the U.S. Senate’s report confirming the use of torture, to the slaughter of Pakastani school children, to two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Overall, 2014 has been an extremely troubling year. Some human rights abuses garnered a lot of attention; many did not, taking place under the radar of the media and public conversation. Let’s consider a few examples, and let them serve as a call to action.

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Cuba inertia is not forever

The thing about inertia is that it isn’t indefinite. It lasts only until acted upon. So sanctions on Cuba have been sustained by inertia, but now have encountered a countervailing force, a realistic president. C-SPAN has President Obama’s statement. Of course, some find it more fun to switch off C-SPAN and watch the nonsense flow on Fox News, where the first reaction when the president was done speaking was that Cuba once pointed missiles at us. Yes, in October 1962. I guess the Cuban Missile Crisis hasn’t ended in some heads. Oh yes, the supported an invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles the year before, but Fox left that out.

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Reflections of New Minnesotans: Torture and the CIA

On this week's episode, Julia Nekessa Opoti and guest Ahmed Tharwat discuss the recently released CIA torture report. Ahmed Tharwat also discusses his personal experience as someone who has been tortured.

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Ahmed Tharwat: My 800-words torture report

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report has brought back painful memories. Now everyone knows that our government has “tortured some folks,” as President Obama has put it when he wanted to be homey and cute. As someone who was tortured himself in an Egyptian jail, such charm is wasted on me. And contrary to what CIA director confusing knowable and unknowable thing, nothing is unknowable about Torture; The emotional and physical details remain vivid in my memory even after more than 40 years.

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Torture done in our name

The long-secret “torture report” from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is out. Sort of. The full report, still classified, is 6700 pages of “comprehensive and excruciating detail.” What we got on December 9 was a mere 525 pages of Findings and Conclusions and Executive Summary. Even with lots of names and details neatly blacked out, this gut-twisting account shines an unforgiving light on evil done in our name.

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Will the global climate talks address the challenges for agriculture?

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), a body under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), started on Monday, at the General Army Headquarters in Lima, Peru. With almost 30 tents set up across the premises, and thousands of representatives from governments and observer organizations running between plenaries, contact groups, and side events, the climate change negotiations are in full throttle.

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Human rights: Common threat, common theme

When Ursula LeGuin and Pope Francis echo each other’s concern for basic human rights being relegated to mere commodities it is time to take heed. As these intellectual giants remind us, human beings have a certain and inalienable right to access to food and access to information and ideas. The right to food and literature transcend the unfettered pursuit of wealth and the power that it affords. Pope Francis spoke at the International Food and Agriculture conference meeting in Rome.(http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49396#.VHjGY8aC14M). Ursula LeGuin shared her thoughts from the prestigious platform of the 2014 National Book Awards. (http://www.nationalbook.org/amerletters_2014_uleguin.html#.VHjFjcaC14M)

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Security vacuum

The Iraqi security forces, bolstered by a small contingent of US ground forces working as advisors to the Iraqi Army, have been battling the terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL for the last four months (the air campaign has been in effect for six months).

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