Climate Change Impacts Human Rights, Says UN Special Rapporteur

4 March 2016: A global temperature increase of one or two degrees Celsius would adversely affect human rights, including the rights to life, development, food, water, health and housing, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, told the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Knox stressed that human rights obligations with respect to climate change include decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures through which protection is achieved.

In its resolution 29/15, the HRC requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a detailed 'Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).' The High Commissioner has asked for additional time and research, and will submit its report to the HRC at its 32nd session.


The Special Rapporteur shared an informal summary of inputs received on the 'Relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/CRP.4),' which is expected to inform OHCHR's final report. The informal summary notes, inter alia, that climate change: threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health; impacts physical and mental health in several ways; and disproportionately impacts the poor and other disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable groups.


According to the informal summary, respondents called for further integration of human rights in climate action at all levels of governance, as well as further analysis and study of the impacts of climate change on the right to health, among other recommendations.


During discussion, several delegations expressed support for protecting human rights in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation, including the European Union (EU) and Costa Rica. South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, supported enhanced, quick action to adapt to climate change to ensure the full realization of human rights, stressing that climate change threatens sustainable development. The Philippines called for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and scaling up additional and predictable means of implementation. Brazil recognized the impacts of climate change on human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The EU asked how to better plan and manage urban areas to address synergies among climate change, sustainable development and urbanization.


The world does not need to wait until 2018 to start strengthening its efforts to address climate change and begin implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Special Rapporteur reminded participants in his response, pointing to the use of renewable energy by Iceland, Morocco and Uruguay.


Knox presented on two aspects of his mandate, clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 March 2016. [UNOG Press Release] [OHCHR Press Release] [A/HRC/31/36] [Special Rapporteur Website]



read more: http://larc.iisd.org/news/climate-change-impacts-human-rights-says-un-special-rapporteur/


 

Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin

After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but never published.

Yair Auron

As Auron notes, there are still many archives of the time which are classified. Auron also states that there was an investigation that was never concluded and “died out” as a massive amnesty was provided to military personnel in February 1949.

This is a very exhaustive article, but I found it useful enough to translate this letter in full on its own. The letter, which first “disappeared,’ was provided to Auron by historian Benny Morris. Although these matters have been referred to in passing in historical summaries, the letter has never been published before in full.

The letter is brought forth by a member of the MAPAM leftist party, S. Kaplan, who got the letter of testimony from the soldier. It is written to Eliezer Peri, editor of Al Hamishmar, and dated 8th November 1948 (18 days after the massacre):

To comrade Eliezer Peri, good day,

Today I have read the editorial of “Al Hamishmar” where the question of our army’s conduct was aired, the army which conquers all but its own desires.

A testimony provided to me by an officer which was in [Al] Dawayima the day after its conquering: The soldier is one of ours, intellectual, reliable, in all 100%. He had confided in me out of a need to unload the heaviness of his soul from the horror of the recognition that such level of barbarism can be reached by our educated and cultured people. He confided in me because not many are the hearts today who are able to listen.

There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. There was not a house without dead. The second wave of the [Israeli] army was a platoon that the soldier giving testimony belongs to.

In the town were left male and female Arabs, who were put into houses and were then locked in without receiving food or drink. Later explosive engineers came to blow up houses. One commander ordered an engineer to put two elderly women into the house that was to be blown up. The engineered refused and said he is willing to receive orders only from his [own] commander. So then [his] commander ordered the soldiers to put the women in and the evil deed was performed.

One soldier boasted that he raped an Arab woman and afterwards shot her. An Arab woman with a days-old infant was used for cleaning the back yard where the soldiers eat. She serviced them for a day or two, after which they shot her and the infant. The soldier tells that the commanders who are cultured and polite, considered good guys in society, have become vile murderers, and this occurs not in the storm of battle and heated response, but rather from a system of expulsion and destruction. The fewer Arabs remain – the better. This principle is the main political motive of [the] expulsions and acts of horror which no-one objects to, not in the field command nor amongst the highest military command. I myself was at the front for two weeks and heard boasting stories of soldiers and commanders, of how they excelled in the acts of hunting and “fucking” [sic]. To fuck an Arab, just like that, and in any circumstance, is considered an impressive mission and there is competition on winning this [trophy].

We find ourselves in a conundrum. To shout this out in the press will mean to assist the Arab League, which our representatives deny all complaints of. To not react would mean solidarity with moral corruption. The soldier told me that Deir Yassin [another massacre, by Irgun militants, April 1948] is not the peak of hooliganism. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?

It is necessary to initiate a scandal in the internal channels, to insist upon an internal investigation and punish the culprits. And first of all it is necessary to create in the military a special unit for the restraint of the army. I myself accuse first of all the government, which doesn’t seem to have any interest to fight the phenomena and perhaps even encourages them indirectly. The fact of not-acting is in itself encouragement. My commander told me that there is an unwritten order to not take prisoners of war, and the interpretation of “prisoner” is individually given by each soldier and commander. A prisoner can be an Arab man, woman or child. This was not only done at the exhibition windows [major Palestinian towns] such as Majdal and Nazareth.

I write this to you so that in the editorial and in the party the truth will be known and something effective would be done. At least let them not indulge in phony diplomacy which covers up for blood and murder, and to the extent possible, also the paper must not let this pass in silence.

Kaplan

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New MSF Report Details Horrific Carnage as US Bombed Hospital

As the U.S. continues to refuse an independent probe, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday released its own damning report of the American military's bombing of the medical charity's Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital last month—describing patients burning to death in their beds and people shot by a circling plane while attempting to flee.

The image on the left shows the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on June 21, 2015, before the U.S. military bombing. The image on the right shows the facility on October 8, 2015, following the attack. (Photos from report)

The review (pdf), the first installment of an ongoing investigation, gives a harrowing, chronological account of the bombing, which took place while at least 105 patients were admitted, surgeries were ongoing, and people—including children—were immobilized in the intensive care unit. The report confirms that 149 MSF staff and one International Committee of the Red Cross delegate were in the hospital compound during the time of the attack.

What's more, the investigation finds that MSF was fully in control of the hospital at the time of the bombing, and its rules were in effect—including prohibitions against weapons. In addition, there was no combat “from or in the direct vicinity” of the hospital before the bombings.

“Some public reports are circulating that the attack on our hospital could be justified because we were treating Taliban,” said Christopher Stokes, MSF general director, in a statement accompanying the report. “Wounded combatants are patients under international law, and must be free from attack and treated without discrimination. Medical staff should never be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants.”

“The view from inside the hospital is that this attack was conducted with a purpose to kill and destroy,” Stokes continued. “But we don’t know why. We neither have the view from the cockpit, nor the knowledge of what happened within the U.S. and Afghan military chains of command.”

MSF based its findings on 60 debriefings with its national and international staff employed at the trauma center, email and telephone records, and before and after photographs of the hospital. The organization also reviewed internal and publicly-available information about the bombing that killed 13 staff members, 10 patients, and 7 people whose bodies were unrecognizable.

Due to an escalation in fighting, MSF on September 29 re-confirmed its GPS coordinates to the U.S. Department of Defense and Afghan Ministry of Interior and Defense and U.S. Army in Kabul—all of whom confirmed receipt, the report states. On Friday, October 2, before the bombings took place, MSF even placed its organizational flags on the roof of the hospital, to ensure its identity would not be mistaken.

But at roughly 2:00 AM, the U.S. military unleashed a horrific bombing on the hospital, which lasted at least an hour. During this time, MSF made at least 17 calls to Afghan, U.S., and United Nations officials in attempt to stop the bombings, according to a log displayed in the report.

The first room hit was the ICU, where staff were caring for patients, some of whom were on ventilators, and at least two of whom were children. “MSF staff were attending to these critical patients in the ICU at the time of the attack and were directly killed in the first airstrikes or in the fire that subsequently engulfed the building,” the report states. “Immobile patients in the ICU burned in their beds.”

The strikes then moved to the main hospital building, destroying the emergency room, mental health department, operating theaters, and other areas—killing two patients while they were undergoing surgery. MSF staff described a litany of horrors: amputations, fully or partially severed limbs, and people “running while on fire and then falling unconscious on the ground.”

The report states some were “shot by the circling AC-130 gunship while fleeing the burning building.”

In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, surviving MSF staff fought for the lives of their colleagues and patients, inserting chest drains, halting severe bleeding, and treating shock—with at least two MSF staff dying on the operating table.

MSF's account shines light on an attack whose details have been murky, with the Pentagon changing its story at least four times, including initially denying responsibility. The U.S. and Afghan governments so far refused MSF's repeated calls for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission (IHFFC), which was established in 1991 under the Geneva Conventions. In addition to releasing Thursday's report to the public, MSF has also submitted it to the IHFFC. More

 

Innocent student, 21, and applicant to join the Border Patrol is Tasered

A 21-year-old college student began screaming in pain as she was tasered during what she claims was an illegal search by Border Patrol officers.

Jessica Cooke, a criminal justice student at SUNY Canton near New York's border with Canada, was pulled over by agents and detained while they brought a canine unit to search her car.

She captured the incident on her cell phone and said a male officer 'pushed me back into the side of my car and I pushed back, it was a shoving match before he threw me to the ground and had the female agent tase me in the lower back'.


Cooke, who has her graduation on Saturday and is in the 'pre-employment phase' for joining the Border Patrol, had said she wanted to leave with her car after not giving permission for a search.

The unidentified officers in the video say they are detaining her because she appeared nervous when she and the puppy in her car were stopped around 3.30pm Friday.

Nothing illegal was found in the vehicle when the drug-sniffing dogs came after what Cooke estimates as 45 minutes to an hour, she told WWNYTV.

The US Supreme Court ruled last month that police officers cannot extend traffic stops while they wait for drug-sniffing dogs to arrive.

Cooke, who was driving to her hometown of Ogdensburg, became angry during the wait, though the male officer said that he would spike her tires if she tried to take the car.

He said that the young woman could leave, but that the vehicle was 'not going anywhere'.

'All right, I’m going to tell you one more time and then I am going to move you over there, you got it?' the agent says while telling Cooke to move her closer to her car.

'Sir, sir sir,' the young woman, who had said she did not want to be touched, is heard saying as the camera begins moving erratically. More

 

Chris Hedges at The Earth at Risk Conference 2014

Chris Hedges at The Earth at Risk Conference 2014

Published on Nov 24, 201 4 • Interview with Chris Hedges at The Earth at Risk 2014 Conference and the moral imperative of resistance thru non-violent direct action and mass movements of sustained civil disobedience.

 

Secrets: shining a light on hidden power

The truth can be a slippery thing. We each have a version but it slips and slides about in our minds as we deal with the constant flood of information coming at us from all sides, not to mention trying to balance this expert view against that, between what we know, what we think we know, and what we suspect.

We are all at the mercy of cognitive biases and layers of assumptions and associations built up over our lifetimes. And so we need reference points to help mark the key geographical features of our worldview. And, sometimes, we need some of those reference points visible in our world, amongst our tribes of friends, colleagues, allies and families. It’s very difficult for most of us to make our way in the world and act with the determination we often crave without some acknowledgement that we’re not the only ones seeing the world as we do. The bigger the thought, the less pleasant it is to assimilate, and the further out from the mainstream it lives, the more important that acknowledgment can be.

The 1%-99% Occupy meme was one of those markers. The reason it travelled so far and fast wasn’t because it told people something altogether new, but rather that it capped off and gave voice to thoughts they already had. It didn’t teach as much as it validated and articulated.

At /The Rules, we think its time for a new marker; one that grows very much from the 1%-99% meme, and, hopefully, adds something important. And it’s that we now all live on a One Party Planet.

This is a provocative claim, pregnant with meaning and implication. If it’s true in the way we believe it to be, it means there is an identifiable form of totalitarianism casting a shadow over the entire human race. It means that there is a force so broad, so enmeshed within the logic of modern global power, that the solutions we all work toward in the specific struggles we care most about – be that rampant inequalities in income and opportunity, widespread poverty, or climate change – are all facing it. Not a force that lives in any single person, organization or structure, but that is ephemeral in the way that all ideology is ephemeral. It transcends and thereby unites the leadership of the vast majority of political parties, governments and corporations that have any proximity to global power. But for all this, it is also specific, definable, and visible through the right lenses. Which means it can be challenged.

It’s got many names but we call it Neoliberalism, because that fits it well enough and is very common, recognizable currency. It’s not primarily an economic agenda; it’s a moral philosophy. As Margaret Thatcher, one of its seminal champions herself said, “economics are the method, the object is to change the heart and soul”.

It is defined by a circular and hermetically sealed logic, in three parts. Firstly, that survival of the fittest through eternal competition between self-interested parties is, practically speaking, the only law upon which human society can realistically be ordered; secondly, that, in the moral hierarchy, financial wealth equates with life success which equates with virtue; and thirdly that man [sic] is, if not an island, then, at most, a part of an archipelago of islands of shared interests, answerable only to himself, his peers and, possibly, his God, in that order. To see only the familiar economics – i.e. belief in small government, low taxes, the sanctity of private property and private industries, and 'free' markets, particularly in labor, all of which feed, above all else, the double-headed hydra of profit and economic growth – and not connect it back to the moral philosophy is to miss the point.

To back up this provocative claim, we have released a pamphlet today called, The One Party Planet. We start it by looking inwards, at our cognitive capacities. The world we see around us today is a reflection of human consciousness; we long since passed the point where we could say, “it wasn't us.” So whatever challenges we face—climate change, rampant inequality, endless violent conflict or vast impoverishment—are challenges, first and foremost, of and for the human mind. It helps, therefore, to spend a small amount of time reflecting on what we know about its character in a section called, How True is True?

Then we turn to what might be more familiar territory: power theories, processes and players. This breaks into six parts; The Neoliberal Heart and Soul, Fashions in Global Power, Financial Might, Concentration of Corporate Power, Active Political Projects, and In their Own Words. And finally, a few thoughts on the system's internal logic; that alignment of forces that mean none of this was really planned and no one is actually to blame. We conclude with the most human considerations in Facing Ourselves, and Where Hope Lies.

We have written it as a political pamphlet to honor all those that were written against the wishes of the ruling elite in the past, and that played some part in monumental change, from the English Civil War to the Abolition of Slavery. We’d like help spreading it around, translating it, and building on it. If it’s wrong in important ways, we want to know how. If there more that should be said, we want to help people say it. You can comment on our facebook page, or write to pamphlets@therules.org. More