Tensions between Canada and China worsen as China detains another Canadian, this time on dubious drug allegations. China has now arrested 3 Canadians in total and sentenced another to death for drug trafficking.
“In the past two weeks…it has become apparent that people are no longer willing to accept everything from the so-called ‘strongmen,’ as they like to call themselves. This is the lesson from the events in Istanbul and Hong Kong, that ‘everything will be fine.’ Contrary to what populists all over the world would have us believe, for the vast majority of people democracy remains the desired form of government. Democracy, in this context, also means a state order based on the recognition and enforcement of human rights.”
“The argument that our government’s failings don’t matter because the migrants have broken the law is legally and morally bankrupt. People have a moral right to seek a better life, and a legal right to seek asylum. If our border and immigration system isn’t up to the task, that’s not their fault, it is ours. Federal officials, from the White House on down, work for us, spend our money, act in our name. We hold them to account, not the huddled masses. Complaining that we shouldn’t have to deal with this crisis is like carping that forests shouldn’t burn and rivers shouldn’t rise. Our nation is operating concentration camps for refugee children. We need to stop denying that and decide if we are comfortable with that fact. And how we will explain it to our children.”
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said yesterday that conditions in migrant detention facilities in his home state of Texas were the “worst” he’s ever seen. He added that while he would prefer to tie humanitarian aid to other border security measures, “if my choice on the minority side is to vote up or down on a compassionate, humanitarian package, that’s what I’m going to do because it’s the right thing to do.” Four toddlers were sent to the hospital last week after being held at a detention facility.
The unaccompanied minors, as young as 2 1/2 months old, endured “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food,” Lucio Sevier wrote, and the teens said they had no access to hand-washing, which she described as “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.” A flu outbreak at Ursula had sent five infants to the neonatal intensive care unit, and all the children Lucio Sevier saw showed signs of trauma.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts’ findings that a Saudi-UAE coalition has been using underage fighters in Yemen’s civil war. Hmmm.
Eight people previously charged in the Flint water scandal will now have their charges dropped after prosecutors say they intend to start the investigation over again. Flint’s nearly 100,000 residents still suffer from unclean water.
The Trump administration authorized the sharing of nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October. Sen. Tim Kaine said the first approval—called an 810 authorization, which allows for the transfer of technology or information related to nuclear activity overseas—was granted by the Department of Energy on October 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was killed, and another was given on February 18.
In a statement on Turkey’s status in membership talks, the European Commission said that Turkey has “serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights.” Turkey’s foreign minister said the report contained “unjust and disproportionate criticisms”.
In October 2017, the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, known for her scoops on alleged corruption at the highest levels of the government and beyond, was killed by a car bomb. Her assassination remains unsolved. If the report had been about any other country in western Europe, heads would roll, governments would collapse, and the international community might consider the country a pariah. Instead, the report was about Malta, the smallest member of the EU. Does anyone care?
Gangs roaming all over Nigeria have become good at kidnapping anyone, rich or poor, and holding them for ransom, often killing the victim if the family does not pay. Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has a lot of work to do as he begins his second term as president, as even he recently had a family member kidnapped and held for ransom.
Tens of thousands of Nigerians are fleeing into Niger after ethnic clashes in the northwest region of the country turned violent. UN authorities insist that the displacement and violence are not due to the terrorist group Boko Haram, but ethnic conflict.
“The relative good news is that many in Congress remain fixed on the problem of MBS, who they understand is capable of single-handedly destroying the 75-year-old U.S.-Saudi alliance…The bad news is that the crown prince is evidently not taking the threat of congressional action seriously. Which means that unless he is proved wrong, Saudis advocating women’s rights and other liberal reforms are likely to remain at risk both at home and abroad.”
The Trump administration has formally proposed to revise Obama-era civil rights for transgender people in the nation’s health care system, eliminating “gender identity” as a factor in health care and leaning government policy toward recognizing only characteristics of sex at birth.
With no evidence of wrongdoing, Russia continues its detention of American Paul Whelan, extending their “investigation” by 3 months. Whelan is accused of spying. Whelan told reporters that he is suffering abuse and harassment in prison.
Interpol has uncovered an international pedophilia ring, saving 50 children, and arrested at least 9 perpetrators. Interpol believes that there are at least 100 more children that still need to be found.
An investigation reveals that from 1978 to 1998, Dr. Richard Strauss sexually abused nearly 180 men at Ohio State University. The investigation also reveals that officials knew of abuse as early as 1979. The investigation does not suggest that Rep. Jim Jordan, who was a wrestling coach during some of the 20 years of abuse, knew about the abuse. The investigation fails to even mention Jordan at all.
China is not taking the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada lightly and responded by leveling spurious spying charges against two Canadian citizens. Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are accused of stealing state secrets and could face years in prison and possibly the death penalty.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday enacted the first ban by a major city on the use of facial recognition technology by police and all other municipal agencies. Matt Cagle, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, summed up the broad concerns of critics Tuesday. Facial recognition technology, he said, “provides government with unprecedented power to track people going about their daily lives. That’s incompatible with a healthy democracy.”
The Trump administration considered a plan to arrest parents and children in 10 cities with large populations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, specifically New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But then-Immigrations and Customs Enforcement head Ron Vitiello and then-Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen set the proposal aside over concerns about diverting resources from the border, a lack of detention space, and the possibility of renewed public outrage over treatment of families.
Under the guise of rooting out Islamic extremism, China started state-sponsored persecution of Muslim and other ethnic minorities three years ago. Today, hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities are imprisoned in Xinjiang province. If one is so lucky to not be in prison, they are under constant surveillance by the Chinese state and are at risk for imprisonment at any time.
Avoiding another Khashoggi-like event, the CIA tipped Norwegian officials that an Arab activist currently claiming asylum in Norway has a threat to his life from Saudi Arabia. The activist is a frequent critic of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is now under the protection of Norwegian authorities.
Egyptian police believed Giulio Regeni was a British spy. He was tortured and murdered while in the country on an exchange program. Egypt previously claimed that he had been killed in a car accident, but then changed the story, saying a “gang of criminals” had murdered him. Later this gang had conveniently been eliminated in a shootout with police officers.
“Far from hiding this totalitarianism of the 21st century, Beijing is seeking to export it to other countries. That’s one reason what is happening in Xinjiang ought to be disturbing to anyone concerned about preserving basic freedoms as technology rapidly evolves. There are concrete steps that can be taken, from banning the sale to China of equipment that can be used in this repression, to sanctioning its architects — including Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo. Legislation pending in Congress, including the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, is a start; it should be taken up and passed.”
After being freed from house arrest by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, former political prisoner and Maduro foe Leopoldo Lopez has now sought and received asylum at the Chilean embassy in Caracas.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi about the detention of the Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province. Guterres also met with Chinese president Xi Jinping, but does not appear to have raised the issue directly with Xi.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked Ukraine last week by suggesting that he would ease the requirements for Ukrainians to become Russian citizens, Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky rejected the idea. He said that being Ukrainian gives people many human rights, and to be Russian means to have “the right to be arrested for peaceful protest.” To Zelensky, the choice between being free in Ukraine and losing rights in Russia is an easy decision to make.
Navy SEALs who witnessed their platoon chief commit war crimes in Iraq were encouraged not to speak out, and told they could lose their jobs for reporting him at a private meeting with a superior officer last year. A confidential Navy criminal investigation reveals that the commandos saw Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher stab and kill an unarmed teenage captive, shoot to death a young girl and old man, and fire indiscriminately into crowds of civilians.
Many of the 37 men beheaded in a mass execution in Saudi Arabia this week had been forced to confess to crimes they did not commit. 11 were found guilty of spying for Iran and 14 were alleged to be part of a terrorist network that was active in anti-government protests in 2012. The men were reportedly forced to sign a letter confessing their crimes to make the torture stop.
North Korea in 2017 reportedly issued a $2 million bill to the U.S. for the hospital care of American Otto Warmbier, who was in a coma when he was returned to the U.S. and died without regaining consciousness. North Korea insisted that a U.S. official sign a pledge to pay the bill before returning Warmbier, and the U.S. envoy who retrieved Warmbier signed it on instructions from President Trump. It’s unclear if the Trump administration ultimately paid the bill.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded 37 of its citizens, including crucifying one, alleging that they participated in crimes related to terrorism. The body and severed head of one person killed in the mass execution was pinned to a pole as a warning to others.
The armed militia group that detained migrants in New Mexico was found to be trespassing on Union Pacific property. The militia members were given 30 minutes to decamp and vacate Union Pacific property. The militia agreed to comply with the order.
After documenting the massacre of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were sentenced to prison in 2017 for breaking the Official Secrets Act. Their final appeal has been rejected by Myanmar’s supreme court.
Larry Hopkins, leader of the New Mexico militia group which captured thousands of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, was arrested by the FBI on weapons charges. In a court filing, prosecutors revealed that Hopkins boasted of assassination training and that he sought to assassinate Barack Obama and financier George Soros.
A California couple was sentenced to 25 years to life on charges of torture, child abuse, and false imprisonment. For years, the couple abused their 13 children, denying them food, medicine, and other necessities.
After reporting her headmaster to the police for sexual assault, Nusrat Jahan Rafi was confronted by peers. The peers wanted her to drop the allegations and when she refused, she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. She died a few days later but not before identifying her attackers.
“Alas, even this halfhearted shunning of Saudi Arabia was brief. Whatever ties the international banking and business community pretended to sever back then have since been officially, enthusiastically double-knotted. Because there’s just too much money to be made, as a bond sale that closed this month illustrates…Perhaps it is naive to ask investment banks, at best amoral, to suddenly sprout a moral compass. What, then, is our government’s excuse?”