John Oliver on America's immigration courts, where families are torn apart and young children represent themselves

John Oliver is in very good form in this 18-minute explainer on America's ghastly immigration courts, where "we try death penalty cases like it was traffic court," forcing refugee claimants (even children as young as three years old) to represent themselves in deportation proceedings where their very lives are at stake. Read the rest

Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world

In a country that has so much, it should be a crime to leave the less fortunate with so little. But it isn't, so here we are: As part of a United Nations study on poverty and human rights abuses in America, researchers have stated that rural Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world.

According to Advance Local,  the U.N. Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, was shocked at the level of environmental "degradation," economic inequality and systematic racism in the state:

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

You should know that economic inequality and racial discrimination lend themselves to civil rights abuses. That makes poverty a human rights issue.

A lot of us, including myself, live comfortably enough. I know where my next meal is coming from. Too many of our fellow citizens aren't as fortunate. The fault for this, according to Alston, can be laid at the feet of our governments:

“The idea of human rights is that people have basic dignity and that it’s the role of the government — yes, the government! — to ensure that no one falls below the decent level,” he said. “Civilized society doesn’t say for people to go and make it on your own and if you can’t, bad luck...

Read the rest

Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn't doing enough to help

A pair of researchers have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions -- and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable. Read the rest

Rod Serling: human rights activist as science fiction showrunner

Science fiction author Hugh Spencer (previously) has published an essay on how Rod Serling's activist views on human rights were embodied in The Twilight Zone, drawing on the practice of using fantastic fiction to evade social constraints, in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels (to say nothing of books like Pinocchio and Inferno). Read the rest

The in-depth tale of Bylock, the Turkish messenger app whose 1x1 tracking GIF was the basis for tens of thousands of treason accusations

A group of exiled Turkish human rights lawyers have published an in-depth history of how Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish government has described Bylock, an encrypted messenging app, whose 1x1 analytics pixel was used as the basis for accusing tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of Turks of treason, with consequences ranging from loss of employment and ostracization to imprisonment, to torture, to suicide. Read the rest

A 1x1 tracking pixel was used as evidence of treason against 30,000 Turks, sent tens of thousands to jail

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish government took reprisals against hundreds of thousands of people suspected to have been involved in the failed coup of 2016, one of the criteria they used for whom to round up for indefinite detention as well as myriad human rights abuses (including torture) was whether people had a cookie on their computers set by a 1x1 tracking pixel served by Bylock, which the Erdogan regime says is evidence of support of exiled opposition leader Fethullah Gülen. Read the rest

A detailed look at how US police forces collude with spy agencies to cover up the origin of evidence in criminal cases

Since the 1970s, spy agencies have been feeding police forces tips about who to arrest and where to look for evidence, despite the illegality of their practicing surveillance within the USA. Read the rest

China will collect the DNA of every adult in Xinjiang province, where Uyghur people are systematically oppressed

Xinjiang province is the site of intense surveillance and oppression, even by Chinese standards; it's home to the largely Muslim Uyghur minority, and a combination of racism and Islamaphobia drive a uniquely intrusive grade of policing and surveillance. Read the rest

Israeli firm Cyberbit illegally spied on behalf of Ethiopia's despots, then stored all their stolen data on an unencrypted, world-readable website

Researchers from the University of Toronto's amazing Citizen Lab (previously) have published a new report detailing the latest tactics from the autocratic government of Ethiopia, "the world's first turnkey surveillance state" whose human rights abuses have been entirely enabled with software and expertise purchased on the open market, largely from companies in western countries like Finfisher and Hacking Team. Read the rest

Universal health care is "free stuff" as in "freedom"

Jeb Bush accused Democrats of winning black votes by promising "free stuff," and then Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of "promising free this and free that and free everything." But universal health care is free as in "freedom." Read the rest

Haribo: sweetened with forced labor and abused animals

In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery." Read the rest

200 Trump inauguration protesters face 70 years in prison each over 6 broken windows

Donald Trump is the least popular president to serve in US history, so it's no surprise that the call for mass, "J20 demonstrations" at his inauguration would be answered by massive crowds. Read the rest

Supreme Court will rule on whether immigrants have constitutional rights

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the re-argument of Sessions v. Dimaya, a case that asks whether the administration can treat lawful immigrants to the USA (including Green Card holders like me) as though we have no Constitutional rights. Read the rest

Less than Human, More than Human

Mary Shelley had four children and buried three as infants. Her last son Percy survived her and died of old age. But Frankenstein, her ultimate creation, has lived on. Her literary science fictional monster child became a myth, an aspiration, an ambition and even somewhat a reality in the past 200 years.

No one wants to host the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee took the unprecedented step of announcing the 2024 and 2028 Olympic host cities (Paris and LA), because both cities were bidding unopposed, and LA had to be bribed with a $1.8B "grant" from the IOC to agree to host the games. Read the rest

Philippines legislature sets annual budget for the national Commission on Human Rights: $19.53

The Philippines is ruled by an admitted murderer, President Rodrigo Duterte (previously), whose death squads have operated with impunity since he took office last year (Trump loves him). Read the rest

Singaporean cops investigate participants in silent vigil for executed migrant worker

Attendees at a silent candlelight vigil in honor of Prabagaran Srivijayan -- a Mayasian migrant worker who was executed for drug trafficking on July 14 -- have been notified that they are the subjects of a police investigation. Read the rest

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