Senate Denounces the CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency has faced strong scrutiny from the Senate in the wake of newly declassified reports and revelations of Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” techniques. (Photo courtesy of thetimes.co.uk)

The Senate intelligence committees recently voted on an extremely controversial decision to declassify a CIA torture report. The American public will not access the entire report, as the CIA (alongside other agencies) will most likely conduct the release, which includes a summary and conclusion. This move has been one that the American government has been delaying, and one that human rights groups have been yearning for. The process will most likely become extremely strenuous and long, and may not lead to any incriminating evidence. But is it an important step? Absolutely.

Despite the fact that the CIA and former President George W. Bush considered “enhanced interrogation” techniques as necessary to legal procedures, the rest of the world did not … Read the rest

Tropa de Elite: Part III

Elite Brazilian troops survey a shanty town during a drug raid. (Photo Courtesy of bbcnews.com)

Favelas. Shanty towns. Slums. These terms are often associated with Rio de Janeiro, defined by many as a cosmopolitan, cultural, beautiful beach town. Known for its samba, carnaval festas, caipirinhas and excessive lifestyle, it is easy to ignore the daily violence, poverty and hunger that permeate “a cidade maravilhosa”. But with Brazil in the spotlight as sport fans and the media anxiously await the next World Cup and Olympics, it will soon be impossible to ignore the many paradoxes that define Brazil. It is undeniable that Brazil has a lot to offer: socially, culturally, and economically. The international community should and will accept the country not as emerging, but as a key actor in all global affairs. Its growth and power are too strong to be ignored, and it is time that Brazil finally takes … Read the rest

Environmental Setbacks Replace Emission Cutbacks

Photo Courtesy of inhabitat.com

European countries are no longer making as much progress regarding climate change as they once were. Leaders are no longer focusing on greenhouse gases emissions, and instead are concerned by issues regarding economic growth. Government officials all round Europe are therefore currently looking to restrict their environmental efforts. An urge for environmental responsibility emerged on the world stage ever since the European Union became an official party to the Kyoto Protocol when it ratified the convention in 2001. Additionally, since 2008, countries such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have had a responsibility and binding agreement to reduce their emission greenhouse gases.

Contrarily to countries who signed the Protocol but never ratified it (like the United States) or others who withdrew or never joined (like Canada and Andorra), European countries have held an important and ambitious position in the global arena of climate change … Read the rest

Hillary Clinton may need a resume advisor

Yikes–Hillary Clinton’s participation at yesterday’s Women of the World 2014 Summit in New York City was going very well until her interviewer asked about her greatest accomplishments as Secretary of State. Her convoluted response:

Not exactly the definitive list that would impress a prospective employer (AKA the American public). Although kudos for her hair…and purple coat…or something….… Read the rest

America speaks: Putin is not like Hitler

“I don’t get it. It says my poll numbers in America are still higher than Obama’s.”

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University demonstrates that most Americans do not think Putin is the second coming of Hitler.

The citizens of the good ol’ States might think of Putin as a rogue, a fiend, a narcissist, or an evil genius of the geopolitical world, but we certainly can’t draw comparisons between Putin’s recent land grab and the “acquisitions” of the Third Reich, the last of which sparked the greatest conflagration in human history. Seems reasonable–after all, even Hillary Clinton backtracked on comparing Putin to a genocidal fascist.

At least Hitler didn’t flex for the cameras like a knockoff protein shake ad.

But let’s take a look at the numbers to see how Americans really feel about the Russian President/former spy/judo master/god awful sex symbol. As expected, 80% of Americans say Putin is … Read the rest

Russia’s grip on Crimea grows stronger

 A pro-Russian activist demonstrates his solidarity with Crimea’s new government. (photo courtesy of american.aljazeera.com)

A couple weeks since Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, the latter nation-state has strengthened its grip on the small peninsula. As the international community still views the annexation of Crimea as illegal and illegitimate, Russia keeps plowing forward in solidifying its control over the small territory.

Over the weekend Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss diplomatic solutions to the crisis in Ukraine. After the meeting, Kerry expressed concern of Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border, promised that the West will impose broader sanctions on the Russian economy, and that the U.S. still views the Russian’s annexation of Crimea as illegitimate. Kerry commented that the 40,000 Russian troop buildup has created an atmosphere of “fear and intimidation” within the area. If the West is … Read the rest

Pussy Riot Behind Bars Again

Photo Courtesy of msnbc.com

Despite the international coverage regarding their punk band, members of Russian group Pussy Riot have been detained once again. When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted and arrested in 2012 for their feminist, anti-Putin lyrics and behaviors, they were forced to spend two years in Gulag-like penal colonies. Instead of serving a regular prison sentence, which they certainly did not deserve for a simple expression of freedom of speech, they were both brutally abused in labor camps.

Considered as “prisoners of conscience” by international organizations such as Amnesty International, they are not regarded as anything more than hooligan delinquents by Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Despite a lack of domestic support for Pussy Riot, the women quickly gained an international limelight that pressured the Russian leader to grant them amnesty. But despite the progress due to the pressure of international criticism, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are … Read the rest

War in Ukraine?

Russian Armored Personnel Carriers and a truck are observed outside the town of Bakhchisarai, Ukraine, on February 28th. (Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg.com)

Following a vote by Russian lawmakers giving President Vladimir Putin the ability to send troops into the pro-Russian Crimean region of Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has declared that his country is ready to fight for its sovereignty. The former Soviet nation’s army is on full alert for the possibility of armed conflict, while in the Ukrainian south unidentified quasi-military forces have installed a pro-Russian premier, Sergey Aksenov. With the Ukrainian government already facing social instability and severe economic constraints, surrounding nations and the international community are now worried about the prospect of civil war in the current highly polarized environment.

The U.S. has accused Russia’s recent intervention as a series of calculated steps intended to make the use of force appear legitimate in the eyes … Read the rest

“Visit Arizona! Well, not if you’re gay or Mexican…”

Demonstrators react to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto the state’s recent “religious freedom” bill. (Photo Courtesy of azstarnet.com)

Arizona has made national headlines recently for trying to pass a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians on the basis of religious beliefs. Luckily, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) went against her own party’s bill and vetoed the potential segregating law. During her Wednesday night news conference Governor Brewer defended her decision by saying, “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.” Brewer went on to comment how disappointed she was in her party’s priorities, considering this was the first piece of legislation that has made it to her desk this year. If this law passed, it would be reminiscent of the hateful Jim Crow laws that plagued our country for almost a century, which … Read the rest

Spin: The Midterm Message War

Photo Courtesy of truthdig.com

This year’s midterm elections are all about educating the public on what issues are really at stake. With less than nine months left to make their case, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is trying to set the tone and carry that momentum through.

The mantra? “Stay on message.” And it appears to be working.

What’s message number one? (Taken from a January 21 podcast on the NRSC website). Ward Baker, a high school educated ex-Marine and political director of the NRSC, calls it “the failure of Obamacare” that is “straddled around the necks of all Democrats.” The tactic kills two birds with one stone. Many incumbent Democrats planned to run on their record of voting for Obamacare, but Republicans are seizing on the bumpy and glitch-ridden rollout of the landmark program, including the canceling of health care plans for several million … Read the rest