Category Archives: Torture & Human Rights

The Saudi Blood Money Golf Tour: No Tiger In Their Tank!

Tiger Woods spurned offer in $800m range to join LIV Golf, Greg Norman says

  • Norman says Woods turned down massive offer from LIV Golf
  • Woods has been against Saudi-financed tour since last year
Associated Press — Tue 2 Aug 2022 

Tiger Woods turned down an offer that Greg Norman says was in the region of $700m to $800m to take part in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.

During an appearance on Fox News with Tucker Carlson that aired Monday night, Norman confirmed what he told the Washington Post in a story two months ago. Norman told the Post in June the offer was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”

Woods has been opposed to LIV Golf since late last year, and he delivered his strongest comments at the British Open when he said players who took the money funded by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund had “turned their back” on the PGA Tour that made them famous.

OMFG! Thank you, Tiger!

When an offer was made to Woods was not clear.

“That number was out there before I became CEO. So that number has been out there, yes,” Norman said in the Fox News interview, which took place Sunday at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the third LIV Golf Invitational was held.

“And, look, Tiger is a needle-mover and of course you have to look at the best of the best,” Norman said. “So they had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. So, yes, that number was somewhere in that neighborhood.”

Various reports out of the United Kingdom have said Phil Mickelson received a $200m signing bonus, while Dustin Johnson received $150m. The 48-man fields, which play 54 holes with no cut, offer $25m in prize money at each event. Norman announced a 14-tournament schedule for next year.

LIV Golf currently has only one player – Johnson at No 18 – from the top 20 in the world.

The source of the funding has led to sharp criticism of the series and the players who have enlisted because it is viewed as an attempt to distract attention from its human rights record and links to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Asked why his rival tour has caused such an uproar among American golf fans, Norman responded plainly, “I don’t know.”

“I really don’t care,” Norman said. “I just love the game so much and I want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women.”

The LIV Golf Invitational is off for a month during the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, returning over Labor Day weekend about an hour west of Boston, and then two weeks later plays in the Chicago suburbs.

Israel & the Killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

 

Opinion by Lina Abu Akleh
 — July 27, 2022

Lina Abu Akleh is Shireen Abu Akleh’s niece.
Earlier this year, I began planning a summer trip from Jerusalem to the United States with my aunt. I was excited for her to show me cities she knew well and loved, including Washington.
I am now in Washington, but without my aunt, the renowned Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. All evidence indicates she was killed by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin on May 11, just after she arrived to report on an Israeli military incursion. Instead of visiting monuments and museums with my aunt, I am in D.C. calling for justice and accountability for her death.

An image of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Since that horrible day when Shireen was shot in the space between her protective helmet and bulletproof vest clearly marked as PRESS, my family has called on the U.S. government to conduct an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the killing.

It is a testament to Shireen’s impact and inspiration as an iconic and groundbreaking journalist that dozens of members of Congress have asked for the same. Yet until now, the Biden administration has refused. After meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, we hope President Biden will reconsider and finally act.

There have been multiple investigations by the United Nations, human rights organizations and major international news organizations, all concluding that Shireen was almost certainly killed by an Israeli sniper, and that the entrance of the Jenin refugee camp was quiet when she was shot.
Yet I read with bewilderment a statement that the Biden administration issued on July 4. Based on reviewing and summarizing the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority’s investigations, the United States concluded that Israel was likely responsible for my aunt’s killing, but that there was no reason to believe that it was intentional.
 Continue reading Israel & the Killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

The Colors of Courage: Underground Russian War Protests:

Art of dissent: How Russians protest the war on Ukraine

They risk jail, stigma and fines. But Russian protesters are finding creative ways to get their message out.

Washington Post: By Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina and Natalia Abbakumova — July 7, 2022

It was 4 a.m. on Moscow’s second ring road. Early light bathed the empty street.

Lyudmila Annenkova and Natalia Perova remember stepping out of a taxi, draped in blankets to hide white dresses splashed with red paint, like blood. They were terrified of arrest, they said, so they worked quickly.

They flung off the blankets, posed, held hands and gazed into a smartphone lens. Snap, snap, snap. Three photos and they fled. The images went viral on independent and activist Telegram channels and social media pages.

Russia’s antiwar movement has found creative ways to express dissent despite President Vladimir Putin’s hard line crackdown.

Protesters are arrested for crimes as trivial as holding up a blank sheet of paper, merely implying opposition to the war.

“You have about 30 seconds to show what you want and then you will be arrested,” said Annenkova, a photographer.

“We were very afraid. We had so much adrenaline,” Perova said.
The red splashes on white dresses symbolized the killings of innocent people, especially women and children. They held hands to send a message to Ukrainians “that we want to hold the hands of everyone who is there and who is in trouble now,” Annenkova said. Continue reading The Colors of Courage: Underground Russian War Protests:

Seven Years for Russian War Protester

The Guardian: Alexei Gorinov receives first long-term sentence under harsh laws introduced since Russian invasion

Pjotr Sauer — Fri 8 Jul 2022

A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, the first long-term prison sentence handed out under the new laws that restrict criticism of the war.

Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and trained lawyer, was arrested in April on charges of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army.

According to the authorities, Gorinov committed the offence when he and a fellow opposition deputy, Elena Kotenochkina, spoke out against the council’s proposal to hold a children’s drawing contest and a dancing festival despite the war in Ukraine, where Gorinov said “children were dying”.

“I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting, which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

The charges against Gorinov fall under a series of new laws that have been introduced since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Gorinov’s long sentence will be perceived as harsh even in the current political climate in Russia, where authorities have embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and opposition since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

Human rights groups will worry that Gorinov’s case will be the first in a string of rulings against anti-war figures who are awaiting trial.

At least 50 people face long-term prison sentences or steep fines for “knowingly spreading false information” about the military, while about 2,000 people have received smaller fines for criticising the war, according to a human rights group that tracks cases nationwide.

Throughout the hearings, Gorinov continued his staunch opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his sentencing on Friday, he held a sign that read “Do you still need this war?” while in his glass defendant’s cage.

“War, whatever synonym you call it, is the last, dirtiest, vile thing, unworthy of the title of a man,” Gorinov said. “I thought that Russia exhausted its limit on wars back in the 20th century. However, our present is Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. [Scenes of reputed Russian war crimes.] Do these names mean something to you? You – the accusers – take an interest and do not say later that you did not know anything,” he added, referring to the three cities outside Kyiv where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes.

Among those awaiting trial for spreading “false information” about Russia’s military is the prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza and the St Petersburg-based artist Alexandra Skochilenko, who is accused of replacing supermarket price labels with messages protesting against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Chelsea Manning: Survivor

NOTE: A long interview with the archetypal Iraq War era whistleblower, who served seven-plus years in prison (most in solitary) for lifting the lid on much of the u.S. torture program and other atrocities. Recently back from a week of volunteer relief work on the Ukrainian border, she’s working to put down roots and find stability in, of all places, Brooklyn. (Well, why not?)

The Daily Beast: Chelsea Manning Is Putting the Pieces Back Together
Marlow Stern — Mon, June 13, 2022

In February of 2019, just four months after undergoing bottom surgery, Chelsea Manning received a grand jury subpoena demanding she testify in the U.S. government’s case against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. Her brave refusal to participate in the witch-hunt landed her $256,000 in fines and a year behind bars, which a top U.N. official determined had “all the constitutive elements of torture.”

On March 11, 2020, she attempted to take her own life once more in prison and was released back to her adopted home of Brooklyn, New York, the following day—only to then find herself at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, Manning has been trying to reclaim ownership over her life. Though only 34, the former Army intelligence analyst has spent nearly a quarter of her years behind bars, much of it in solitary confinement—persecuted by the U.S. government for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks that exposed a number of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the extent of U.S. spying on those at the U.N., among other things. She announced that she is female in 2013, transitioning into “the next phase” of her life whilst still imprisoned.

“Where is home now?” she asks herself. “I’m 34 years old, and I’ve lived outside the U.S. before where it’s felt not like home. And this is home. I’m so glad I have a relatively normal life now. I’m grateful for that. I just ride my scooter around town and do errands.”

She’s also been busy with speaking engagements, producing a film about the precariousness of crypto, doing consulting for the privacy startup Nym, and putting the finishing touches on her memoir, a “coming-of-age story” that’s scheduled to be released in October. Manning recently learned how to cook and has been known to cameo at the occasional Brooklyn rave—though she often finds herself getting recognized, even in a mask.

Last month, I sat down with Manning outside a Brooklyn coffee shop for a wide-ranging discussion on everything from her upcoming memoir and rise of the far-right to her public split from one-time confidant Glenn Greenwald back in September.

DB [Daily Beast]: I heard that you got COVID in September. Have you had any lingering effects?

CM [Chelsea Manning]:  I did have some lingering effects. I didn’t have anything nearly as serious as some of my friends—just lethargy, exhaustion, fatigue, those lingering things. By around December, I got the booster, and everything went away. Immediately afterward, no more symptoms. I got it again in March, but it was negligible.

DB: That’s great.

CM: In the springtime, I’ve tried to be more active. I’ve been traveling a lot. I don’t like traveling. I’m not a big fan.

DB: Do you have issues with being screened at the airport?

CM: Oh no, I’ve never had issues at the airport. I’m a normal traveler—I just can’t get TSA Pre, although TSA Pre is a scam anyway. But I’ve been in Europe quite a bit. One of the companies I work for [Nym] is based in Switzerland, and I’ve been to Paris, spent time in Berlin, and because the invasion of Ukraine popped off, I was at the border and did some volunteer work out there in March, so pretty early on. Continue reading Chelsea Manning: Survivor

Is This the “Pope Francis Alternative”? Ukraine and “Effective Nonviolent Resistance”

Pope Francis, Ukraine and “effective nonviolent resistance”

Ukraine – so many new graves

 

A bird sits on a cross amid newly made graves at a cemetery near Mariupol, Ukraine, May 15. (CNS/Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)

So much energy is being expended to urge Pope Francis to justify violent resistance. The latest episode of this is the war in Ukraine. Journalists, scholars, politicians and some religious continue to press the pope to join the chorus of people perpetuating the violent dynamic.

My sense is that the pope is trying to shift our gaze. It is a shift that he senses Jesus models. A shift toward pastoral accompaniment and a focus on how we might break the violent dynamic. It is not about condemning or judging people in very difficult situations, like some Ukrainians who choose to take up arms in violent defense of their country. It affirms and admires their willingness to take a high-risk stand against injustice rather than to be passive. At that same time, it is also not about justifying methods of war and enabling the violent dynamic to perpetuate and spread.

Francis speaks of accompaniment as the way of God, as in his March 20 Angelus address: “God trusts us and accompanies us with patience. He does not get discouraged, but always instills hope in us. … He does not keep track of your shortcomings but encourages your potential. … In this way God accompanies us: with closeness, mercy, and tenderness.”

Such accompaniment is being done in a variety of creative, courageous, nonviolent ways by Francis as well as by Ukrainians and others. It also includes humanitarian resource provision, identifying credible messengers and persistent needs-based diplomacy, coalition building, consistent public statements, impacting Russian leaders’ sources of power, prayer and shared physical risk.

Examples of Ukrainian nonviolent action include them blocking convoys and tanks, and standing their ground even as warning shots were fired in multiple towns. In Berdyansk and Kulykіvka, people organized peace rallies and convinced the Russian military to get out. Hundreds protested the abduction of a mayor, and there have been protests and refusals to shift to the ruble in Kherson to resist becoming a breakaway state.

Ukrainians have fraternized with Russian soldiers to lower their morale and stimulate defections. Ukrainians have courageously evacuated many people from dangerous areas. The Ukrainian League of Mediators is helping address increasing polarization within Ukrainian families and communities, in order to minimize the violence.

Russians have participated in numerous anti-war protests, and around 15,000 people have been arrested. Journalists have interrupted and resigned from state TV. Nearly 100,000 Russians from a variety of sectors have signed petitions to end the war. Russians from all parts of society have spoken out against the war — from members of the military and connected to the foreign ministry to members of the Russian oil industry and billionaires, as well as nearly 300 Russian Orthodox clerics. Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers have refused to take part.

There are additional ways we can support peacebuilders and nonviolent activists in Ukraine by creating coordination hubs with diplomatic, legal and material assistance; amplifying their stories; supporting unarmed civilian protection units already on the ground; sending waves of peacebuilder or religious leader delegations to Kyiv and perhaps other cities in Ukraine; and encouraging a focus on diplomatic solutions.

For Francis, accompaniment is about not perpetuating the violent dynamic as much as possible.

“There was a time, even in our churches, when people spoke of a holy war or a just war,” the pope told Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in their March 16 video meeting. “Today we cannot speak in this manner. A Christian awareness of the importance of peace has developed. Wars are always unjust, since it is the people of God who pay. Our hearts cannot but weep before the children and women killed, along with all the victims of war. War is never the way.”

At the same time, the pope is not calling us to passivity or surrender in the face of aggression, as he made clear in his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace. As he told an Italian women’s group in March: “The real answer is not more weapons, more sanctions, or more political-military alliances,” but rather a different approach, “a different way of governing the world.” What is the way about? Francis points to the school of Jesus, of Gandhi and particularly of “women who have cultivated and cherished life.”

Francis invites us into recognizing conflict as a process with a long-term view, both forward and backward.

During a press conference in April as he flew back from Malta, Francis said: “They fought for the strategy of peace. … Not by chance, at the beginning of the Bible, there is this problem: the ‘Cainian’ spirit to kill instead of the spirit of peace.”

These schools and models illuminate how there may be other ways of defense or resistance to aggression that are more nonviolent, and also perhaps more effective at saving more lives.

In their 2011 volume, Why Civil Resistance Works, researchers Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan analyzed more than 300 contemporary cases and showed that nonviolent resistance is twice as effective as violent resistance and at least 10 times more likely to lead to durable democracy, including against authoritarians. Additional research has corroborated these patterns. This is notable in light of many claims that violent resistance is necessary to defend democracy. Francis invites us into recognizing conflict as a process with a long-term view, both forward and backward.

Such research shows why war not only makes it at minimum harder for a durable democracy but also is “the suicide of humanity” and a defeat for humanity, as Francis exclaims. War, therefore, is not consistent with a ‘humanitarian’ initiative or activity in accord with human dignity. Pope Francis explains that war is a “stinging defeat before the forces of evil,” rather than a necessity to confront evil.

Mariupol.

Local residents gather outside an apartment building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 15. (CNS/Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)

Local residents gather outside an apartment building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 15. (CNS/Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)

Yes, Russian leaders invaded Ukraine and bear principal responsibility for the war. Kirill is also enabling this violence and the traumatization of the Ukrainian people. All leaders involved in diplomatic negotiations will need to make significant alterations to end the war, save lives, and create space to build a new future. Francis is trying to influence these and other key stakeholders in the conflict, yet he will need our support, collaboration and, especially, shared focus.

In turn, it seems Francis invites our focus to center on accompaniment and breaking, interrupting the logic or dynamic of violence, rather than justifications for war. This is what will more likely prevent and limit war, as well as help us to prioritize abolishing war rather than regularly trying, futilely, to ‘humanize’ war.

As Francis explained in his March 27 Angelus address: “Before the danger of self-destruction, may humanity understand that the moment has come to abolish war, to erase it from human history before it erases human history!”

Pointing to statistics that show half of all Ukrainian children are now displaced, the pope said this is what it means to destroy the future, “causing dramatic trauma in the lives of the smallest and most innocent among us.”

Eli McCarthy

Eli McCarthy is a professor at Georgetown University in justice and peace studies, a steering committee member of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, and the director of the DC Peace Team.

G. W. Bush’s Accidental Moment of Truth

The “Truth Gaffe” of the Century

Excerpted from The Guardian:

The audience chuckled at George W Bush’s Iraq-Ukraine gaffe. I’m not laughing

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the depravity and horror of the former president’s 2003 invasion of Iraq

Published: Saturday, 21 May 2022
‘There has been zero accountability for any of the architects of the Iraq war.’

George Bush accidentally confessed to being a war criminal

It was a Freudian slip for the ages: during a speech in Dallas this week, former President George W Bush condemned the “decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq”. Whoops! “I mean of Ukraine,” he added a second later, as laughter rang out in the room.

Isn’t it funny when a former president accidentally confesses to war crimes? Ha! Ha! Ha!

Tell you what, I’m not laughing. Nor are a lot of Arabs. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the depravity and horror of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Iraqi prisoners of war – many of whom were innocent people who were arrested by mistake – were violently tortured by US and UKtroops.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians died. The entire country was left in ruins. And the suffering continued long after the occupying forces left. The US military’s frequent use of munitions containing depleted uranium in Iraq, along with military hardware abandoned by troops, poisoned the environment and the population. Even now babies are being born with severe birth defects linked to the invasion.

“Doctors are regularly encountering anomalies in babies that are so gruesome they cannot even find precedents for them,” the lead researcher of a 2019 study said. “The war has spread so much radiation here that, unless it is cleaned up, generations of Iraqis will continue to be affected.” So, yeah, please excuse me if I don’t find Bush’s slip-up particularly funny.

You know what’s even less funny? The fact there has been zero accountability for any of the architects of the Iraq war. Sure, some of the military personnel were convicted of crimes relating to torture of Abu Ghraib prisoners, but the people who were really in charge have faced no consequences whatsoever. Bush himself has had his reputation whitewashed in recent years; he has transformed himself into a cuddly grandpa figure who paints and pontificates about “unity”. As for his coterie of enablers, most of them went on to high-paying jobs and prestigious positions.

Before anyone starts making excuses for the architects of the Iraq war (“how could they have known?”), let me remind you that it was clear from the start that the war – and the flimsy weapons of mass destruction excuse used to justify it – was a sham. In February 2003 millions of people, including myself, in at least 650 cities around the world took to the streets to protest the US-led invasion of Iraq. It was the largest one-day global protest in history. Ordinary people could see the war was immoral and probably illegal – and yet there is a concerted effort in some quarters to rewrite the war as a deeply regrettable lapse in judgment that nobody at the time could really have been expected to get right.

Here’s a quick thought experiment for you: imagine it’s 2042 and Vladimir Putin has transformed himself from war criminal to cuddly grandpa who paints in his dotage. Imagine he slips up while making a speech and talks about the wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine. Imagine everyone in the room laughing. That wouldn’t be terribly funny would it?

In fact, the idea that a guy like Putin could face zero accountability and spend his old age giving speeches instead of serving time for war crimes, would be horrifying. And here’s another question for anyone who thinks that a comparison between Bush and Putin is unfair: ask yourself why you think that is? Ask yourself why the Iraq war is any more justifiable than the Ukraine war? Is it because, deep down, you’ve been taught to think that Arab lives don’t matter?

For more about the unfinished business of the Iraq War, click here.

War Notes: Catching Up

AP News: Detailed ‘open source’ news investigations are catching on – in Ukraine & Elsewhere

BY DAVID BAUDER – May 8, 2022
NEW YORK (AP) — One of the more striking pieces of journalism from the Ukraine war featured intercepted radio transmissions from Russian soldiers indicating an invasion in disarray, their conversations even interrupted by a hacker literally whistling “Dixie.”

It was the work of an investigations unit at The New York Times that specializes in open-source reporting, using publicly available material like satellite images, mobile phone or security camera recordings, geolocation and other internet tools to tell stories. Continue reading War Notes: Catching Up

War Notes, Monday Threefer: Hackers Attacking Russia; Ukraine’s female minesweepers; and Sketches from Ukraine’s “International Legion”

Washington Post: Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all.

Experts anticipated a Moscow-led cyber-assault; instead, unprecedented attacks by hacktivists and criminals have wreaked havoc in Russia.

By Joseph Menn — May 1, 2022

For more than a decade, U.S. cybersecurity experts have warned about Russian hacking that increasingly uses the labor power of financially motivated criminal gangs to achieve political goals, such as strategically leaking campaign emails.

Prolific ransomware groups in the last year and a half have shut down pandemic-battered hospitals, the key fuel conduit Colonial Pipeline and schools; published sensitive documents from corporate victims; and, in one case, pledged to step up attacks on American infrastructure if Russian technology was hobbled in retribution for the invasion of Ukraine.

Yet the third month of war finds Russia, not the United States, struggling under an unprecedented hacking wave that entwines government activity, political voluntarism and criminal action.

Digital assailants have plundered the country’s personal financial data, defaced websites and handed decades of government emails to anti-secrecy activists abroad. One recent survey showed more passwords and other sensitive data from Russia were dumped onto the open Web in March than information from any other country.
The published documents include a cache from a regional office of media regulator Roskomnadzor that revealed the topics its analysts were most concerned about on social media — including antimilitarism and drug legalization — and that it was filing reports to the FSB federal intelligence service, which has been arresting some who complain about government policies. Continue reading War Notes, Monday Threefer: Hackers Attacking Russia; Ukraine’s female minesweepers; and Sketches from Ukraine’s “International Legion”

A New Idea to End Putin’s War

From: How to End the War in Ukraine, by Alfred McCoy

Alfred McCoy is Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of A Question of Torture, and In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Dispatch Books). His newest book, just published, is To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change. Full post at TomDispatch.

As the war in Ukraine heads for its third month amid a rising toll of death and destruction, Washington and its European allies are scrambling, so far unsuccessfully, to end that devastating, globally disruptive conflict. . . . [Their efforts] range from economic sanctions and trade embargoes to the confiscation of the assets of some of his oligarch cronies and the increasingly massive shipment of arms to Ukraine. Yet none of it seems to be working.

So while the world waits for the other combat boot to drop hard, it’s already worth considering where the West went wrong in its efforts to end this war, while exploring whether anything potentially effective is still available to slow the carnage. . . . Continue reading A New Idea to End Putin’s War