Human Rights

Killing the Messenger in Guatemala

Journalists in Guatemala have recently been attacked, one fatally, by mobs supporting former dictator Rios Montt who is campaigning to become the country's president. '"The press is the only functioning institution in this country. That is why they either have to control it or scare it,'" said Mario Antonio Sandoval, vice president of the daily Prensa Libre and president of the 6-month-old cable channel Guatevision.


"Propagandist" Gets Solitary Confinement

Veteran peace activist William "Bud" Combs recently spent 90 days in jail for protesting against Fort Benning's Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation (aka the School of the Americas). "What the veteran peace activist didn't know was that he would spend eight days of his sentence in solitary confinement," writes Bill Berlow. "His apparent offense: receiving and sharing with other inmates what federal authorities consider disruptive, if not subversive, political literature.


Totally Terrorized Information Awareness

An angry public response forced the Pentagon to publicly back away from its Total Information Awareness surveillance program. Now it's back, with one major revision: a name change. Instead of "Total Information Awareness," they're calling it "Terrorism Information Awareness." According to Washington Post correspondent Ariana Eunjung Cha, the proposed system "would have the power to track people as never before.


Thought Crime in New Mexico

Several high school teachers in New Mexico have been suspended or fired after refusing to enforce pro-war views in their classrooms. Geoff Barrett, a teacher at Albuquerque's Highland High School, was suspended after refusing to remove student-made artwork expressing views on the recent U.S. war against Iraq.


The Rest of the World

Round-the-clock coverage of the war in Iraq has eclipsed a host of bad-news stories from the rest of the world, including a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israeli killings and detentions in the West Bank, and a crackdown on dissidents in Cuba. According to Curt Goering of Amnesty International USA, the virtual exclusion of most other international news has provide an opportunity for repressive authorities to settle old scores. "That's been a fear that we had even before the war started," Goering said.


Who Twists the Helix

The "Who Twists the Helix" international conference taking place at the University of Cambridge this week is one of many meetings around the world marking the 50th Anniversary of the discovery of DNA. The conference bills itself as "a trans-disciplinary exploration of the powers that could decide our genetic futures" that includes a "Genetic Futures Jury," a panel of non-specialist citizens who will vote on the key issues discussed at the conference.


Airlines Go From Friendly Skies to A Flying Police State

"The travel industry and civil liberties groups are sharply
objecting to government plans for a new airline passenger
screening program .... . The proposed program ... would involve
electronic checking of the credit
records and criminal histories, along with checking whether
the passenger is on watch lists of suspected terrorists.
The screening would be done by the federal Transportation
Security Administration. ... Based on the results, each traveler would be
assigned a


Patriot Act II

One sequel that's not receiving much media attention is the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," a follow up to the "USA Patriot Act of 2001." The Center for Public Integrity obtained a copy of the draft legislation that had been secretly prepared by the Justice Department.



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