Just as I was wrapping up the last roundup, I saw news that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had passed away. Here’s a video report from Human Rights Watch about his record on civil liberties, which – despite some small improvements – is still somewhere between terrible and horrendous.
I happen to be reading Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court“, a book about how a 19th century American goes back in time to 6th century England to discover a backwards monarchy that celebrated brutality and used religion to exert control over a superstitious population. If Twain had lived long enough to see modern day Saudi Arabia, he could’ve written something similar without any need for time travel.
More news items…
Mattathias Schwartz writes in the New Yorker about the only case where the NSA phone records dragnet has led to a conviction and how it was largely unrelated to terrorist threats within the United States. Patrick Eddington writes about how dragnets do next to nothing to actually prevent terrorist attacks. And no one still has any answers to what happened with the instances of NSA employees spying on love interests.
Michelle Garcia writes about the conviction and sentencing of journalist/activist Barrett Brown.
Murtaza Hussein and Glenn Greenwald write about the persecution of Florida college professor Sami Al-Arian, who was deported to Turkey this week after a decade of fighting off bogus charges of supporting terrorism.
2014 was a record year for exonerations.
U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag appears to have an unhealthy obsession with trying to shut down Harborside Health Center, the large bay area medical marijuana business that operates with the full support of the two cities (Oakland and San Jose) it operates in.
A San Francisco public defender was arrested for legally trying to protect a client from police questioning.
Another sad story from Albuquerque, home to one of the most unaccountable and reckless police departments in the country. Shaun King writes about the war between Albuquerque PD and the local District Attorney.
Wichita is yet another Midwestern city where the lack of accountability in police shootings is getting more attention.
A Muslim woman in Pennsylvania is challenging a law that doesn’t allow for her to swear upon a Koran rather than a Bible in a court proceeding.
Apparently, it IS possible for Philadelphia police officers to go too far and actually get indicted.
Mark Draughn writes about the controversy involving public defenders in the Bronx appearing in a rap video with violent anti-police lyrics.
This story from South Carolina is a great example of the hypocrisy of staunch anti-immigration folks who quietly use cheap undocumented workers when it’s convenient.
In Georgia, a black man called 911 after a man stabbed his girlfriend. When police arrived, they shot his dog and then they shot him. He was held in police custody and disallowed any visitors until he died on New Years’ Eve. This story is finally starting to get some coverage.
The mayor of Veracruz, Mexico has been accused of ordering the execution of a journalist.
The Venezuelan government made a tourism advertisement featuring a American journalist they detained in 2013. They’ve also been detaining store owners on what appear to be ludicrous accusations of sowing discontent.
The mysterious death of an Argentinian prosecutor has led to the journalist reporting it to leave the country and to further revelations that the deceased prosecutor had once considered ordering the arrest of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Members of the UK Parliament are trying to find ways to authorize unpopular surveillance powers but keep getting caught by a vigilant public.
Several dozen Israeli soldiers have been expelled after refusing to participate in the surveillance of Palestinians.
Egyptian police shot and killed protestor Shaimaa el-Sabagh during a peaceful march in January before the anniversary of the short-lived 2011 revolution.
Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima write about the assassination of a Hezbollah figure in Damascus in 2008.
Religious fundamentalists continue to chill freedom of expression in Basra, Iraq.
Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of dozens of people, including activists and bloggers.
Kenya celebrated Internet Freedom Day in January, but still prosecutes bloggers for criticizing government officials.
In Nigeria, 12 men were detained for participating in a gay wedding, while the men detained claim it was a birthday party.
Activists in the US are pushing the Obama Administration to take diplomatic actions against Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who has been pushing draconian anti-gay legislation in the country.
China is continuing to crack down on internet freedom, now targeting VPN’s – which had been a relatively easy way to circumvent the “great firewall”.
Last week, I cited the spate of drug executions in Indonesia. There was some discussion in the comments about whether the execution of drug traffickers should be within the scope of these roundups. The execution or other extreme punishment of drug users certainly is, but for a convicted trafficker, I understand the grayness. Going forward, I’ll only include these types of cases if there’s a full prohibition in place (no semblance of decriminalization for users or other harm reduction strategies) and if the penalty for the traffickers is either death or life in prison.