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Thursday, October 10, 2013

  • 3 Months After Morsi Coup & Hundreds of Deaths, U.S. Scales Back Military Aid to Egypt

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    The White House has announced it will suspend some of its $1.5 billion in annual military aid to Egypt until the country ushers in a democratic government. Reuters reports that some of the items to be withheld include Abrams tanks, F-16 aircraft, Apache helicopters and Harpoon missiles. The United States has avoided the automatic suspension of all military aid to Egypt by refusing to deem Mohamed Morsi’s ouster a coup. Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed by state forces since his ouster in July. Egypt, meanwhile, has set a date of November 4 for Morsi to stand trial for inciting the murder of protesters. "We believe Morsi should be prosecuted. He should be held accountable for crimes that he authored during his one year in office," says Hossam Bahgat, founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "But the kinds of prosecutions we are seeing are completely selective and punitive. It makes no sense to see Morsi being prosecuted for having incited the killing of 10 protesters when 1,000 protesters were killed on August 14 and there isn’t even an investigation into it."

  • Report Finds Police Worldwide Criminalize Dissent, Assert New Powers in Crackdown on Protests

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    In a major new report, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations details a global crackdown on peaceful protests through excessive police force and the criminalization of dissent. The report, "Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World," warns of a growing tendency to perceive individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right — the right to protest — as a threat requiring a forceful government response. The case studies detailed in this report show how governments have reacted to peaceful protests in the United States, Israel, Canada, Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, Kenya, South Africa and Britain. The report’s name comes from a police report filed in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets of Toronto to nonviolently protest the G-20 summit. A senior Toronto police commander responded to the protests by issuing an order to "take back the streets." Within a span of 36 hours, more than 1,000 people — peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights monitors and downtown residents — were arrested and placed in detention. We are joined by three guests: the report’s co-editor, Abby Deshman, a lawyer and program director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Hossam Bahgat, an Egyptian human rights activist and the founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

  • "Edward Snowden Has Done This Country a Service": ACLU Praises Leaker for Kick-Starting NSA Debate

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    As Edward Snowden’s father, Lon, arrives in Moscow to try to visit his son, we speak to American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero about Snowden and the significance of his leaks about the National Security Agency. "Edward Snowden has done this country a service," Romero says. "He has kick-started a debate that we didn’t have. This debate was anemic." Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights adds, "We are all affected by the NSA program. We cannot do our work in Egypt, in Canada or Israel or Kenya when we cannot communicate, when we know our emails could be intercepted by the United States security apparatus."

  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva on Gov’t Shutdown & Why the Impasse Won’t Slow the Fight for Immigration Reform

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    As lawmakers face increasing pressure to come to a resolution 10 days into the government shutdown, we are joined by Arizona Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "This shutdown is contrived," Grijalva says. In speaking about shutdown, Grijalva objects to oil and gas exploration being allowed on federal land while the public remains locked out. He continues to push for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. He was among eight Democratic lawmakers arrested on Tuesday in a large civil disobedience rally for immigration reform on the National Mall. "The fight over the debt ceiling and the budget is a harbinger of the fight over immigration," Grijalva says. "Those 30 to 40 to 45 tea party extremists have done nothing but to try to block any effort with threats within their own caucus on immigration reform ... The urgency is still there, and now I think it’s up to us and community organizations throughout this country to ratchet up the pressure."