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Updated: 53 min 52 sec ago

French ex-President questioned in Libyan corruption probe

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 14:32
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Nicolas Sarkozy faced a second day of questioning on Wednesday by investigators examining claims the former French president received funding for his 2007 election campaign from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy arrived just before 8am at the offices of judicial investigators specialising in corruption, money laundering and tax evasion in the western Parisian suburb…

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Is Facebook killing democracy with its personality profiling data?

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 14:26

By Timothy Summers, Director of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Engagement, University of Maryland. Facebook’s data know exactly what fits best in your mind. leolintang/Shutterstock.com What state should you move to based on your personality? What character on “Downton Abbey” would you be? What breed of dog is best for you? Some enormous percentage of Facebook’s 2.13 billion…

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Senate Intelligence Committee on US Election Hacking Launched

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 14:19

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee recommended Tuesday that Congress “urgently pass” legislation to bolster federal help to states that are trying to prevent their election systems from being hacked as they were in 2016. New legislation is included in the committee’s initial draft of recommendations to prevent more hacking of U.S. elections. The recommendations are included…

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How Cambridge Analytica Harvested Info on 50 Million Voters

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 10:02

Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm hired by Donald Trump’s election team, harvested data on 50 million Facebook users for targeted political propaganda campaigns, reported The Observer and The New York Times on Saturday. Cambridge Analytica also held previously undiclosed discussions with Russian energy firm Lukoil, according to reports. The reports followed Facebook suspending the company…

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The US legacy in Iraq: horrific violence and elections

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 09:58

Erbil, Iraq – After 15 years of violence, insecurity and sectarianism following the US invasion of Iraq, finding cause for optimism can be a fool’s errand for Iraqi leaders. This week marks the 15-year anniversary of the start of the US invasion of Iraq, ostensibly to free Iraqis from tyranny and oppression. What came next is…

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Russian Ballot Stuffing Videos Are Going Viral

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 09:53

While Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrates a record election victory, dozens of clips purporting to show ballot stuffing and voting fraud are raking in hundreds of thousands of views online in Russia. Putin claimed a sweeping triumph in Sunday’s vote as final results showed he had won 76.6 percent of the vote, his highest ever result.…

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African Women Need Voice in Politics to Achieve Equality

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 17:32

The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women says gender equality in Africa can be achieved only if women and girls — especially those in rural areas — have a voice in politics and economic planning. That conclusion came out of the commission’s annual meeting in New York this week. Lopa Banerjee, director of the U.N.…

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VIDEO: Democracy and Islamism in Egypt

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 15:36

How will Egypt deal with its deficit of democracy? How will Islam and islamism influence any future democracy? The Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy (JMEPP), published at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, featured recently a discussion on the topic with Associate Professor of Political Science at Colgate University Dr. Bruce Rutherford and JMEPP Editor Elissa Miller.

According to the podcast description, the two will discuss, “political developments in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, including the current state of political Islam and prospects for democratic change in the country”. The video below has highlights from the interview but you can listen to the entire podcast at SoundCloud:

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Banksy mural backs jailed Turkish artist Zehra Dogan

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 15:14

After taking a stand in support of Palestinians and migrants, British street artist Banksy is now showing solidarity with imprisoned Turkish-Kurdish artist and journalist Zehra Dogan with a giant mural in Manhattan. The famed graffiti artist’s 20-meter (yard) work features a series of tally marks such as those prisoners use to keep track of the time…

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A ridiculous 2018 Russian ballot shows Soviet traditions revised

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 14:54

To understand what the upcoming Russian elections are about, one needs only take a look at the ballot. It would be clear even to those who do not speak Russian. The candidate, who will win, is already marked clearly on the ballot. This document presents almost perfect symmetry. Above President Vladimir Putin, there are three relatively…

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How a president dodged bribery charges in South Africa

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 14:21

Here is a timeline of major events in the corruption charges against disgraced South African former president Jacob Zuma: October 1995 – The South African air force decides to replace some of its jets. March 1997 – The government approves a plan to replace defence hardware. October 1997 – Deputy president Thabo Mbeki opens a tender…

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My New Poetry Collection: A Box of Crazy Toys

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 12:46

Is it possible that anything you can conceive, with any combination of words, can, in the fullness of time, manifest itself materially? Some such thought will be prompted by the reading of any of the 100 liquid landscapes in my surreal collection, A Box of Crazy Toys. Here is some information about my previous work:

Italian-American Peter Dellolio is a poet, essayist and screenplay writer. He has been a contributing editor for NY Arts Magazine, writing art and film reviews. He authored monographs on several new artists as well. He was co-publisher and editor-in-chief of Artscape2000, an award-winning art review e-zine. He has taught poetry and art for the LeAP expanded arts program in New York City. His paintings and 3D works are represented online. He lives in Brooklyn.

Sam Eisenstein, author of Aliens, Gods and Artists, gave my new poetry the following review:

“A tiger with red clarinet legs requires that you handle him with kid gloves. Where do you find them? Frantic, you turn to this sparkling book, which is a compendium of keys to very serious issues. Everything in it is in disguise, but eager to have you find the key, which is shining, under something, waiting for you. Just for you.”

Click here to learn more or get a copy!

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Remember the Vietnam My Lai Massacre by US troops 50 years ago

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 12:24


In a new interview published a few days ago, famous investigative journalist Seymour Hersh spends some time recalling the My Lai massacre of civilians in Vietnam he first reported on 50 years ago. The BBC published a video of Hersh discussing the horrific incident in the village of My Lai, Vietnam recently. Here is the video description from the BBC:

The US journalist who broke the My Lai massacre story 50 years ago says the horror of what happened still makes him “teary”. On March 16, 1968 US soldiers massacred more than 500 men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.

The investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, acting on a tip-off, tracked down Lt William Calley to Fort Benning, Georgia. Lt Calley had been a platoon commander at My Lai and would later be the only soldier found guilty of the massacre. Hersh also tracked down other soldiers who were at My Lai to uncover the full horror of that day. He tells BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur there were incidents so horrific he did not include them in his original reports.

See the video interview here (some disturbing images):

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-43417107/journalist-hersh-recalls-my-lai-massacre-50-years-on

The My Lai massacre — March 16, 1968

Another great article about the anniversary was published at the LA Times. An excerpt:

Everybody’s heard of the My Lai massacre — March 16, 1968, 50 years ago today — but not many know about the man who stopped it: Hugh Thompson, an Army helicopter pilot. When he arrived, American soldiers had already killed 504 Vietnamese civilians (that’s the Vietnamese count; the U.S. Army said 347). They were going to kill more, but they didn’t — because of what Thompson did. I met Thompson in 2000 and interviewed him for my radio program on KPFK in Los Angeles.

He told the story of what happened that day, when he and his two-man crew flew over My Lai, in support of troops who were looking for Viet Cong fighters. “We started noticing these large numbers of bodies everywhere,” he told me, “people on the road dead, wounded. And just sitting there saying, ‘God, how’d this happen? What’s going on?’ And we started thinking what might have happened, but you didn’t want to accept that thought — because if you accepted it, that means your own fellow Americans, people you were there to protect, were doing something very evil.”

US soldier burning down the village of My Lai in March 16 1968 killing up to 504 elderly men, women and children.

A quote from the LA Times article:

We know that Americans committed a massacre 50 years ago today; and we also know that an American stopped it. Hugh Thompson died in 2006, when he was only 62. I wish we could have done more to thank him.

Unidentified Vietnamese man during the My Lai massacre – link

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VIDEO: Discussion on corporations and the American constitution

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:26

The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law in partnership with the American Constitution Society held a fascinating discussion on the long and complicated history of corporations in America, starting with British East India Company. The talk featured Adam Winkler, author of “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights” and Dahlia Lithwick, the Senior Editor and Supreme Court correspondent at Slate magazine. From the event invite:

Citizens United. Hobby Lobby. Many Americans had not heard of the movement to expand constitutional rights for businesses before these landmark cases. But the struggle for corporate rights has a long, complicated history in the United States. The first Supreme Court case extending constitutional protections to corporations was decided in 1809, more than a half-century before the first comparable cases for racial minorities or women. In the years since, the nation’s most powerful corporations have gained our most fundamental rights, transforming the Constitution to serve the ends of capital.

Join Adam Winkler, law professor at UCLA and author of the new book We the Corporations, for a discussion about the American government’s relationship to big business and the 200-year effort to give corporations the same rights as people. He will be joined by Dahlia Lithwick — one of the country’s most prominent legal journalists — an editor at Slate and host of its Amicus podcast — who covers the Supreme Court and its decisions on corporate rights.

The video is about 80 minutes. Take a look:

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System to Monitor North Korean Rights Abuses Makes Progress

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 13:16

Progress is being made in setting up a system to monitor and document human rights violations in North Korea, particularly those that may amount to crimes against humanity, according to the U.N. The so-called Accountability Project for the DPRK, mandated last year by the U.N., calls for establishing a central data bank where information and evidence…

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New Worries Over Burmese Freedom of Assembly Law

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 12:57

Proposals put forward by Myanmar’s government to add further restrictions to a controversial assembly law have attracted widespread criticism, with rights groups accusing the civilian-led government of backsliding on democratic progress. On March 7, the country’s Upper House approved amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which would include potential three-year jail terms for…

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Indonesian fake news and hate speech loom over elections

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 12:52

Indonesia is battling a wave of fake news and online hate speech ahead of presidential elections in 2019, as a string of arrests underscore fears it could crack open social and religious fault lines in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. The pluralist nation’s reputation as a bastion of tolerance has been tested in recent months, as…

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Sierra Leone trialing test of blockchain vote counting technology

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 12:46

Sierra Leone has become one of the first countries to trial the use of blockchain technology during elections. “We recorded the votes after tallying on our blockchain where the votes are anonymised,” Leonardo Gammar, the Chief Executive Officer of Agora, told RFI. “Our observers have a look at the ballots and they send the results on…

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China’s new pro-Xi film is a blockbuster enforced by government

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 12:42

Citizens across China are being corralled into cinemas to watch a propaganda film extolling the Communist Party and Xi Jinping, as an intensifying personality cult around the 64-year-old leader hits the big screen. The mass viewings by staff from companies and government agencies have catapulted the feature-length movie, called “Amazing China” in English and released March…

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As Castro steps down, challenges await new Cuban president

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 12:38

As Cuban President Raul Castro prepares to step down next month, ending his family’s six-decade grip on power, his successor will be faced with major challenges, including the implementation of economic reforms vital for the island’s future. On Sunday, Cubans went to the polls to ratify a new National Assembly, who will choose the future president.…

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