Human Rights

America’s Death-Penalty Fellow Travelers

Amnesty International's graphic showing the countries that extensively use the death penalty.

An inconvenient truth about America’s use of capital punishment is that it puts the U.S. in company with unappealing authoritarian states, like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, while creating a divide from modern democratic societies in Europe and the Americas, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The Proud Message of Utah Phillips

U Utah Phillips, labor activist and songwriter.

It is often forgotten that the path to the Great American Middle Class was forged in large part by labor activists and social reformers during the first six decades of the last century, a struggle that left behind a proud culture of music and stories that can inspire the present, as Richard L. Fricker recalls.

Jesus Mandate: Peace and Stewardship

Jesus as portrayed in stained glass as the Good Shepherd.

Modern biblical scholarship has enabled critically thinking Christians to understand what the historical Jesus actually said and what was tacked on later to serve the interests of Rome and early church leaders, but those original messages remain politically inconvenient today, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Reasons for Intellectual Conformity

President Woodrow Wilson.

In theory, many people hail the idea of independent thinking and praise the courage of speaking truth to power. In practice, however, the pressure of “group think” and the penalties inflicted on dissidents usually force people into line even when they know better, as Lawrence Davidson notes.

Libyan ‘Regime Change’ Worsened Chaos

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

In 2011, a coalition of U.S. neocons and “humanitarian” war hawks pushed for and got a military intervention in Libya with the goal of eliminating Muammar Gaddafi, but the ouster and murder of Gaddafi has only led to worse chaos and more death in Libya, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Chastened Saudis Look to Iran Detente

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi ambassador to the United States and now the ex-chief of Saudi intelligence.

Exclusive: Last year, Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan was swaggering around the world boasting of Saudi influence over radical jihadists from Syria to Chechnya and collaborating with Israel against Iran. But Bandar is gone and the Saudis may be retrenching, writes Andres Cala.

The Bloody Victory at Monte Cassino

The ruins of the Monte Cassino Abbey as they looked in February 1944 after the Allied bombing attack. (Photo by Wittke from the German Federal Archives)

Special Report: Seven decades ago, the Allies celebrated a hard-fought victory with the capture of Monte Cassino, but the huge cost in blood and the destruction of Saint Benedict’s famous abbey still make the battle controversial, as war correspondent Don North explains.

Can the Surveillance State Be Stopped?

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking in Moscow on Oct. 9, 2013. (From a video posted by WikiLeaks)

Despite the public furor over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance, the process rolls on unabated with few prospects of significant reform, writes Danny Schechter.

Trying to Scuttle Iran Nuke Talks, Again

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

Official Washington’s hardliners are back at it, pushing unrealistic demands about Iran’s nuclear program to ensure that a comprehensive agreement is scuttled and the military option is put back on the table, as Gareth Porter explains at Inter Press Service.

Death to the Death Penalty

A gurney used for  executions by lethal injection.

Oklahoma’s ghoulish killing of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett on April 29 has brought new attention to America’s continued use of the death penalty, a politically popular issue in some states but a practice that has many reasons justifying its abolition, writes Marjorie Cohn.