Human Rights


Ayn Rand v. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Actor Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's classic, "It's a Wonderful Life."

During the Red Scare of the late 1940s, novelist Ayn Rand and other right-wing zealots targeted Hollywood for supposedly subversive messages, like the criticism of bankers and the praise of community in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as Michael Winship recalls.

Will ‘New Obama’ Bring Hope for Change?

President Barack Obama runs onto a stage in Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 3, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has finally shown glimmers of the leader that many Americans thought they saw in 2008, as he displays some boldness in ending U.S. hostility toward Cuba and acting on global warming. But it remains unclear if this “new Obama” will offer more reasons to hope for change, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

US Democracy’s Failure at Racial Justice

Michael Brown, the victim of a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

The unprovoked murder of two New York policemen has prompted understandable outrage, but the larger context remains the U.S. failure to address legacies of slavery and segregation, compounded by recent police violence targeting young black men, as Dustin Axe explains.

The Liberal Idiocy on Russia/Ukraine

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

Exclusive: American pundits are often more interested in scoring points against their partisan rivals than in the pain that U.S. policies inflict on people in faraway lands, as columnists Paul Krugman and Thomas L. Friedman are showing regarding Russia and Ukraine, writes Robert Parry.

The ‘Exceptionalism’ of US Torture

George W. Bush taking the presidential oath of office on Jan. 20, 2001. (White House photo)

Americans like to think of themselves as the ultimate “good guys” and anyone who gets in their way as a “bad guy.” Under this theory of U.S. “exceptionalism,” whatever “we” do must be moral or at least morally defensible, from sponsoring coups around the world to torture, as William Blum describes.

Is Torture a ‘Conservative’ Value?

President George W. Bush receiving applause during his 2003 State of the Union Address in which he laid out a fraudulent case for invading Iraq.

Conservatives who usually hail individual liberties are leading the televised defense of the U.S. government’s torture of terror suspects, including many who were completely innocent. But some conservatives are troubled by this knee-jerk defense of the Bush administration, as Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland explains.

Torture’s Time for Accountability

President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Dec. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Exclusive: America’s reputation for cognitive dissonance is being tested by the Senate report documenting the U.S. government’s torture of detainees and the fact that nothing is happening to those responsible. Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says the nation must choose between crossing the Delaware or the Rubicon.

Torture’s Fallacies — and Criminality

Actor Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in the Fox TV show "24" using torture to extract information.

In America’s fascination with fictional entertainment, torture has been a popular plot device as some tough-guy “hero” extracts a clue from a hardened “bad guy,” most famously with Jack Bauer in “24.” But real-world torture elicits false information – and is a grave crime of state, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

The Crazy US ‘Group Think’ on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 8, 2014, as part of the observance of the World War II Victory over Germany.

Exclusive: Congress has voted to up the ante in the showdown with Russia over Ukraine, embracing a new Cold War and the neocon scheme for “regime change” in Moscow. But – amid the tough-guy-ism – there was little consideration of the risks from destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia, writes Robert Parry.

How Torture Puts Americans at Risk

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

Exclusive: Polls show that most Americans – and an overwhelming majority of “conservatives” – view post-9/11 torture as justified, presumably because it made them feel safer. But torture may actually have made them less safe, as retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce explains.