There has been yet another violent attack with mass casualties. This was not the act of a lone gunman, or of an armed student rampaging through a school. It was a group of families en route to a wedding that was killed. The town was called Radda -- not in Colorado, not in Connecticut, but in Yemen. The weapon was not an easy-to-obtain semiautomatic weapon, but missiles fired from U.S. drones. On Thursday, Dec. 12, 17 people were killed, mostly civilians. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has consistently tracked U.S. drone attacks, recently releasing a report on the six months following President Barack Obama’s major address on drone warfare before the National Defense University (NDU) last May.
Nelson Mandela's passing last week at the age of 95 has been met with a global outpouring of remembrance and reflection. A giant of modern human history has died. Mandela is rightly remembered for his remarkable ability to reconcile with his oppressors, and the political prescription his forgiveness entailed for the new South Africa. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another," Mandela said in his inaugural speech in Pretoria, on May 10, 1994.
The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living cheque to cheque on their meagre pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don't want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by. This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.
WARSAW, Poland -- The United Nations is holding this year's climate conference in Warsaw, a city steeped in history. Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous Polish astronomer who first posited that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa, is celebrated here. The Frederic Chopin Airport is named for the brilliant composer who lived here. The pioneer in the science of radiation, Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (she won two of them), was born here.
Typhoon Haiyan, a storm of historic proportions, has devastated the largely impoverished population of the Philippines. Thousands of people are dead, hundreds of thousands are stranded with almost no food or water, and millions have been impacted. The struggle to survive competes with the race to bury the dead, treat the wounded and suffer through the onslaught of tropical storms in Haiyan's wake. In seeming synchrony, halfway around the world, thousands of negotiators, scientists, politicians and journalists are gathering for the annual United Nations Climate Change summit, held this year in Warsaw, Poland. The changing seas that this week have whipped the Philippines demand a sea change in the worldwide response to global warming.
The cable news channels wasted no time before crowing over the landslide re-election victory of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. According to exit polls, Christie won a majority of both women and Latino voters, traditional Democratic voting blocs. The political chattering class is abuzz with Christie as the GOP's great hope to retake the White House in 2016. But they miss a vital and growing undercurrent in U.S. politics: grassroots movements at the local and state level that are challenging the establishment, and winning.
"I wasn't scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, 'Will I be next?'" That is the question asked by 8-year-old Nabila Rehman, from northwest Pakistan. She was injured in a drone attack a year ago, in her small village of Ghundi Kala. She saw her grandmother, Mamana Bibi, blown to pieces in the strike. Her brother Zubair also was injured. Their case has become the latest to draw attention to the controversial targeted killing program that has become central to President Barack Obama's foreign policy and global war-making.
Elsa Cruz filed a federal lawsuit in New York this week, months after police shot her husband dead. Last May, Cruz called 911 asking for help with her husband, Samuel. She feared he hadn't taken his medication while she was on vacation in her native country, the Philippines. Eight months, almost to the day, before Cruz was killed, not far away in Harlem, Hawa Bah called 911 to ask for medical help for her son, Mohamed. Rather than getting medical help, Mohamed Bah was confronted by the New York City Police Department. Within hours, he, too, was shot dead by police, hit eight times, once in the head. Mohamed's sister, Oumou Bah, is suing the City of New York and unnamed police officers.
Oil is the source of so much pain in the world. Around the globe, wherever oil is extracted, people suffer a constellation of injuries, from coups and dictatorship to pollution, displacement and death. Pipelines leak, refineries explode, tankers break up and deep-sea drill rigs explode. The thirst for oil disrupts democracies and the climate. Not far from the burgeoning fracking fields of Colorado, Frederic "Rick" Bourke sits in a minimum-security federal prison. His crime: blowing the whistle on corruption and bribery in the oil-rich region of the Caspian Sea.