Archive for April 20th, 2013

20/04/2013

That’s Where the Money Goes

By , IPPNW*, 18 April 2013 – According to a report just released by the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military expenditures in 2012 totaled $1.75 trillion.

**A Royal Air Force British Aerospace Harrier GR.9 aircraft conducts a combat patrol over Afghanistan on 12 December 2008. | Photo credit:  Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon | Source: http://dams.defenseimagery.mil/defenselink/assetcolcreate.action?name=previewcol&id=1a583d908b3872997186fc8ef7de84ef3f8053a9&scope=request&nextpage=/vims_dlink_preview.jsp | Wikimedia Commons

**A Royal Air Force British Aerospace Harrier GR.9 aircraft conducts a combat patrol over Afghanistan on 12 December 2008. | Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon | Wikimedia Commons

The report revealed that, as in recent decades, the world’s biggest military spender by far was the US government, whose expenditures for war and preparations for war amounted to $682 billion — 39 percent of the global total.

The United States spent more than four times as much on the military as China (the number two big spender) and more than seven times as much as Russia (which ranked third). 

Although the military expenditures of the United States dipped a bit in 2012, largely thanks to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, they remained 69 percent higher than in 2001.

US military supremacy is even more evident when the U.S. military alliance system is brought into the picture, for the United States and its allies accounted for the vast bulk of world military spending in 2012. 

NATO members alone spent a trillion dollars on the military.

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20/04/2013

Whither Egypt (I) – Did You Say Dictatorship?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Baher Kamal*

Cairo, 20 April, 2013 – Go to any five-star hotel downtown. Enter the lobby and watch who are there. You will see some pure-white “gebbah” (robe) dressed men from any Arab Gulf country, either talking on last-model smartphones, or just seated, thinking. They look rich and they probably are stakeholders -or even the landlords- of this hotel.

**A protester holding an Egyptian flag during the protests that started on 25 January 2011 | Credit: The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge).jpg: Kodak Agfa from Egypt | Wikimedia Commons

**A protester holding an Egyptian flag during the protests that started on 25 January 2011 | Credit: The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge).jpg: Kodak Agfa from Egypt | Wikimedia Commons

You will also see plenty of noisy young, informally dressed people, likely from Libya, who are here in Cairo for a surgery or medical treatment as they were injured in the war against Muammar Gaddafi a couple of years ago. The Libyan government would cover all their expenses.

Really few foreign guests, maybe a group of participants in a seminar.

Walk then towards the epicentre of the Egyptian revolution—Tahrir Square. If you go on a Friday morning –around 8 or 9 am, you will see half-a-dozen carts, loaded with bread, maybe also “white cheese”, refreshments, garlic and big blocs of ice wrapped in canvas.

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20/04/2013

Egypt: Morsi’s Information Minister Accused of Sexual Harassment

By Shahira Amin*

Cairo, 18 April 2013 – Egyptian Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud — a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ruling Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) — faces mounting pressure to resign, amid allegations that he sexually harassed a young female journalist.

Media workers protest in 2012 over plans to try to close one of the oldest printing press firms in Egypt – Khaled Basyouny / Demotix | Source: UNCUT

Media workers protest in 2012 over plans to try to close one of the oldest printing press firms in Egypt – Khaled Basyouny / Demotix | Source: UNCUT

Speaking at an awards ceremony honouring journalists for courageous reporting last weekend, Abdel Maqsoud was interrupted by reporter Nada Mohamed, who asked “where is press freedom when journalists are being attacked and killed?”

The Minister responded with “come here and I will show you where media freedom is” — provoking an uproar from journalists, activists, bloggers, and TV talk show hosts, who suggested that his comments — made in Arabic — had a “sexual connotation”.

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20/04/2013

Argentina's Executive and Judiciary: a Tale of Undue Governmental Influence

Human Wrongs Watch

By Transparency International* – The upper house in Argentina’s Congress has approved a series of laws proposed by the government that allow the executive branch to exert considerable influence over the judiciary, threatening the already limited independence of the country’s judicial system.

An estimated 1 million Argentinians took to the streets of Buenos Aires on 18 April to protest against corruption, including the judicial reforms. | Transparency International.

An estimated 1 million Argentinians took to the streets of Buenos Aires on 18 April to protest against corruption, including the judicial reforms. | Transparency International.

Under these reforms, the Council of Magistrates (Consejo de la Magistratura), which is in charge of several key functions in the judiciary including proposing candidates and removing them, will be elected by citizens.

Argentina ranks 133rd out of 144 countries for judicial independence

This gives undue influence over the judiciary to the party in power. In the Transparency International 2011 Global Corruption Barometer people in Argentina identified political parties as the institution they perceived as most corrupt.

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20/04/2013

'Liberated' Iraq – Convicted People Executed 'Like Animals in a Slaughterhouse'

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations human rights chief condemned the rampant use of the death penalty by the Iraqi Government, which executed 21 people earlier this week, stressing the country’s justice system is still not functioning adequately and should not carry out capital punishment at all.

The aftermath of a bombing attack in Iraq (file photo). Photo: IRIN

The aftermath of a bombing attack in Iraq (file photo). Photo: IRIN

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 19 April 2013 described the Iraqi justice system as “too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time.”*

The Government has executed 33 individuals in the past month, and the ministry of justice announced that a further 150 people may be executed in the coming days. A total of 1,400 people are believed to be currently on death row, and 129 people were executed in 2012 alone.

“Executing people in batches like this is obscene,” Pillay said.

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