Riot Control Robot Unveiled in China Looks Ominously Like a 'Doctor Who' Dalek, May In Fact Be One

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“China's first intelligent security robot debuts in Chongqing,” reads the headline in the Chinese Communist Party official newspaper People's Daily. The riot control robot has a name, “AnBot,” and it's freaking everyone out even more than your regular garden variety riot control robots because the damn thing looks like a Dalek from Doctor Who. And nothing good comes from a Dalek.

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Before 1988 Olympics, South Korea sent 'vagrants' to camps where rape and murder were routine

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In the runup to the 1988 Olympics, the South Korean government ordered Seoul's "vagrants" to be cleared from the street. Thousands of people, many of them small children, were sent to a "welfare facility" called "Brothers Home," where they were subject to vicious, often fatal beatings and routine rape. The order to round up the vagrants came from then-President Park Chung-hee (father of current President Park Geun-hye) whose successor, President Chun Doo-hwan, suppressed any investigation into the atrocities. Read the rest

Hacking Team supplied cyber-weapons to corrupt Latin American governments for human rights abuses

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In Hacking Team Malware Para La Vigilancia en América Latina, a new report from Derechos Digitales, we learn how Hacking Team, the hacked-and-disgraced cyber-arms dealer (previously) supplied weapons to corrupt state actors in latinamerica who used them to spy on political opposition, journalists and academics. Read the rest

Hong Kong's dissident publishing workers are disappearing, possibly kidnapped to mainland

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Five employees of the publisher Mighty Current and its retail arm, Causeway Bay Bookstore, have disappeared from Hong Kong, and pro-democracy leaders say that they were kidnapped to the mainland by PRC security forces in retaliation for publishing books critical of the Chinese government. Read the rest

As jury deliberates in Freddie Gray death trial, Baltimore schools warn students not to protest

Police clashed with protesters near Mondawmin Mall after Freddie Gray's funeral. [Reuters]

Jurors in Baltimore, Maryland are now deliberating whether a police officer is guilty of manslaughter and assault in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from a spinal cord injury that took place while he was in police custody last April. We know about Gray's death in part because someone took video of his arrest. His family says the police killed him, and it's hard to imagine they're wrong.

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Syria secretly sentenced free software developer Bassel Khartabil to death

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Khartabil has been imprisoned in a Syria's Adra Prison since 2012, though as of October, he has been transferred to an undisclosed location. The free software/open culture activist was the lead for Creative Commons Syria and has contributed to Wikipedia, Firefox and many other projects. Read the rest

China routinely tortures human rights lawyers

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Amnesty International's No End in Sight: Torture and Forced Confessions in China interviews 37 Chinese lawyers and analyzes 590 court decisions in the process of documenting the routine torture of human rights lawyers in China. Read the rest

Research files on El Salvador stolen from human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador

image: Reuters

Confidential research files on human rights abuses in El Salvador were stolen from a human rights organization in Washington state, just weeks after that same organization sued the CIA for refusing to release documents related to those very same abuses.

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Arizona tried to illegally import an execution drug not approved for use in U.S.

Outside Phoenix's "Tent City" jail REUTERS//Joshua Lott

Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug that is banned in the U.S., but the state never got the drug after federal agents halted the shipment at Phoenix airport. The Associated Press has the documents, and the resulting scoop.

Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by FDA-approved companies, the documents said. When the drugs arrived via British Airways at the Phoenix International Airport in July, they were seized by federal officials and have not been released, according to the documents.

"The department is contesting FDA's legal authority to continue to withhold the state's execution chemicals," state Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday.

Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain legal execution drugs for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental, that have been used to carry out executions. States have had to change drug combinations or, in some cases, put executions on hold temporarily as they look for other options.

The Arizona documents obtained by the AP were released as part of a lawsuit against the corrections department over transparency in executions. The AP is a party in the lawsuit.

"Documents: Arizona tried to illegally import execution drug" [AP] Read the rest

Give me blood, cash, or jail time, Alabama judge orders defendants

Photo: The Montgomery Advertiser

What's worse than courts demanding that poor people pay extortionate fines to the state for minor offense? Asking them to literally pay with their own blood.

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CIA black-site torture survivors sue shrinks who made $85M overseeing CIA torture program

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James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen are psychologists who took in almost $85 million in CIA contracts to design and oversee torture programs used on CIA prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and around the world. The contracts ran from from 2001 to 2010. The ACLU is representing Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, three of the prisoners who were tortured at CIA black sites. Rahman was murdered by his torturers and the ACLU is representing his estate. Read the rest

UK top government official: human rights no longer a "top priority"

The royals with Sir Simon McDonald.

Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office -- the country's most senior Foreign Office official -- told MPs that his department had sidelined human rights work in favour of global trade agreements (the same agreements that allow sovereign wealth funds from the world's most brutal, oppressive states to buy huge swathes of the UK's public institutions at knock-down prices in the Tories' great sell-off of public assets). Read the rest

Molly Crabapple's illustrations from Syria

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The illustrator collaborated with Syrian writer Marwan Hisham (a pseudonym), who sent her mobile-phone photos from Syria that she used as the basis for a striking and moving series of illustrations for a Vanity Fair feature. Read the rest

Here's the video NYPD released of a plainclothes cop brutally attacking tennis star James Blake

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James Blake made a terrible mistake. He was outside in public while black. Here is video proof, released today by the New York Police Department.

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Survivor bandmembers “gobsmacked” at Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee using 'Eye of the Tiger' at rally

Sylvester Stallone in the movie "Rocky 2."
Survivor guitarist and “Eye of the Tiger” co-writer Frankie Sullivan says nobody in their camp granted permission for their 1982 hit song to be featured at a rally for Kim Davis without their permission.

Navajo Nation bears burden of recent Animas mining spill disaster in Colorado

After the Animas River spill, rancher Irving Shaggy is forced to travel a 70-mile round trip to get water for his livestock. "It's going to be a long struggle," he says.
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Jailer-owned "Christian business" forced inmates to make cornhole games

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Stand Firm Designs' website was taken down for unknown reasons (archive.org snapshot), but when the website was operational you would have learned that the self-described “Christian Construction Business” employed “retired contractors” to make its bean bag “cornhole” boards. What the website didn't say was that the company is owned by two Tennessee jail officials and that they are accused of using prison slave labor to build the boards. They were caught after inmates hatched a plan to expose them:

To prove the items being sold by Stand Firm Designs were made by inmates, Stephney and Brew concealed their names under pieces of wood nailed to the backs of items. They also wrote the number 412148, which refers to a section of Tennessee code that makes it illegal for jail officials to require an inmate to perform labor that results in the official's personal gain. The AP was shown some of the items with the concealed names and numbers.

Stand Firm Designs is operated by Rob Hill, a building trades instructor at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility; Steven Binkley, a computer instructor who works out of a room adjoining the woodworking shop; and Roy Napper, who formerly worked at the jail run by Corrections Corporation of America.

Stand Firm Designs co-owner Roy Napper is standing firm: “All I can tell you is it’s really just a bogus thing. There’s not really any slave labor going on over there,” Napper told the AP. “Since it’s under investigation, I can’t really tell you anything else.” Read the rest

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