“The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.”—Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, “NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show,” - The Washington Post
“They killed my father and took away his body. We felt so sad and tearful and we ran away. Now my aunty is taking care of me. I don’t know if I should stay here or go back to our village. If we go back, what if Seleka kill us, then what will I become?”—
Estani Gbeya, an eight year-old orphan from the village of Betoko in Central African Republic. His mother died of disease a year ago. His father was shot and killed by a fighter from the Seleka rebel group that staged a coup in the country earlier this year.
“The Air Force touts its program as a serious graduate program, because … it says it is and it got someone to accredit it. However, the Air Force doesn’t want to treat its students like either graduate students or senior leaders. Instead, we get a weird mix of military training, company-grade accountability techniques, and the 8th grade. We have a student council that debates such issues as trash pickup and snack bars. We’re compelled to participate in “duel of the schools” events against the Command and Staff College. Of course, you can’t compete successfully without practicing, so practice sessions are laced into the duty day. Imagine the taxpayer response to my being paid really well to attend AWC poker team practice. Again, this isn’t extracurricular activity. This is mandatory, middle-of-the-day stuff.”—an Airman explains how Americans’ tax dollars are spent at the Air Force’s Air War College at FP’s “The Best Defense”
“The future for whistleblowers is grim. At a time not so far distant, when just about everything is digital, when much of the world’s Internet traffic flows directly through the United States or allied countries, or through the infrastructure of American companies abroad, when search engines can find just about anything online in fractions of a second, when the Patriot Act and secret rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court make Google and similar tech giants tools of the national security state (assuming organizations like the NSA don’t simply take over the search business directly), and when the sophisticated technology can either block, alter, or delete digital material at the push of a button, the memory hole is no longer fiction.”—Peter Van Buren, “1984 Was an Instruction Manual” at TomDispatch.com
“You have more disseminated ground-level fighting than you’ve had before, and this has come as a result of a change of tactics by handing over the fighting to the Afghan national security forces. So civilian casualties have increased dramatically this year, so obviously you’re seeing more widespread displacement of people as well.”—
Mark Bowden, the humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Afghanistan, on the increasing danger for civilians, including aid workers, in that country.
Through November, Bowden told the New York Times, there were 237 attacks on Afghanistan’s aid workers, with 36 people killed, 46 wounded and 96 detained or abducted. Last year, there were 175 attacks, with 11 people killed, 26 wounded and 44 detained or abducted.
“There were pieces of my family all over the road… I picked up those pieces from the road and from the truck and wrapped them in a sheet to bury them. Do the American people want to spend their money this way, on drones that kill our women and children?”—
Miya Jan, a 28-year-old farmer who found the the burning frame of his cousin’s blue pickup truck after a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.
Inside, he said, he recognized the mangled remains of his brother, his brother’s wife and their 18-month-old son. Jan and other villagers say 14 people were killed in the attack; U.S. and Afghan officials place the toll at 11.
“…the federal government’s main terrorist watch list has grown to at least 700,000 people, with little scrutiny over how the determinations are made or the impact on those marked with the terrorist label.”—Who Is Watching the Watch Lists? - NYTimes.com
“When he raped me, I wasn’t in a position where I could have cried for help. He would have killed me. Later, if I would have reported him, they [Khmer Rouge cadres] would have killed him, but they would have also killed me”—Rys Yamlas, a villager who was raped 35 years ago by a Khmer Rouge soldier and recently came forward to give public testimony about the attack. For the full story, courtesy of IRIN, see “Khmer Rouge sexual violence survivors break silence”
“This attack shows that American forces are not respecting the life and safety of Afghan people’s houses… For years, our innocent people have become victims of the war under the name of terrorism, and they have had no safety in their homes.”—Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaking after a Thanksgiving Day U.S. drone attack killed a 2-year-old child. For the full story, see “Karzai says U.S. drone strike killed child, won’t sign security deal if similar attacks continue” The Washington Post
“Over 135,000 Iraqi civilians were injured in conflict and violence between March 2003 and March 2013 according to Iraq Body Count, but figures from the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry put the number at 250,000 by May 2012. So far in 2013, the French news agency, Agence France-Presse has documented almost 15,000 Iraqis wounded in violence.”—IRIN’s Cathy Otten on the state of the Iraqi healthcare system and what it means for victims of a war that never ends. For the full story, see "Victims of violence struggle for medical treatment in Iraq"
“Over the last year and a half, Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed an unprecedented rental empire, snapping up Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, brick-faced bungalows in Chicago, Spanish revivals in Phoenix. In total, these deep-pocketed investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown. Wall Street’s foreclosure crisis, which began in late 2007 and forced more than 10 million people from their homes, has created a paradoxical problem. Millions of evicted Americans need a safe place to live, even as millions of vacant, bank-owned houses are blighting neighborhoods and spurring a rise in crime. Lucky for us, Wall Street has devised a solution: It’s going to rent these foreclosed houses back to us. In the process, it’s devised a new form of securitization that could cause this whole plan to blow up — again.”—Laura Gottesdiener from her alarming new article, “The Empire Strikes Back: How Wall Street Has Turned Housing Into a Dangerous Get-Rich- Quick Scheme — Again” at TomDispatch
More than 11,000 children have been killed in the nearly three-year civil war in Syria, including children who were tortured and executed, a new report says.
The Oxford Research Group said that most of the 11,420 children reported dead were killed in explosions, and many others were shot to death.
"What is most disturbing about the findings of this report is not only the sheer numbers of children killed in this conflict, but the way they are being killed," co-author Hana Salama said in a statement.
More than 1,000 children were either summarily executed (764) or killed by snipers (389), the report found. Some 112 children, even infants, were tortured before being killed.
Devastating. This is a jump from the United Nations’ number of 65,000 back in June. Here’s the full report from the Oxford Research Group organization.
“…you should wake up amazed every day of your life, because if I had told you in 1988 that, within three years, the Soviet satellite states would liberate themselves nonviolently and the Soviet Union would cease to exist, you would have thought I was crazy. If I had told you in 1990 that South America was on its way to liberating itself and becoming a continent of progressive and democratic experiments, you would have considered me delusional. If, in November 2010, I had told you that, within months, the autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who had dominated Egypt since 1981, would be overthrown by 18 days of popular uprisings, or that the dictators of Tunisia and Libya would be ousted, all in the same year, you would have institutionalized me. If I told you on September 16, 2011, that a bunch of kids sitting in a park in lower Manhattan would rock the country, you’d say I was beyond delusional. You would have, if you believed as the despairing do, that the future is invariably going to look like the present, only more so. It won’t.”—Rebecca Solnit, What Comes After Hope | TomDispatch (via nickturse)