Family of grandmother killed in US drone strike arrive for Congress visit

The Guardian, October 27, 2013

Drawing on a pad of paper in a Washington DC hotel, Nabeela ur Rehman recalled the day her grandmother was killed. “I was running away,” the nine-year told the Guardian. “I was trying to wipe away the blood.”

"It was as if it was night all of the sudden."

The date was 24 October 2012, the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holy day. Nabeela’s father, Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher living in the remote Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, was dropping off sweets at his sister’s home when it happened.

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US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

The Guardian, October 25, 2013

The US government has defended its use of drone strikes in Pakistan,Yemen and other countries in front of the UN, telling a chamber full of largely critical nations that in President Obama’s view the deployment of unmanned aerial attacks against al-Qaida targets was “necessary, legal and just”.

Representatives from a slew of nations, including Brazil, China and Venezuela, lined up to berate the Obama administration for its intensive use of drone strikes. But the US delegation told a plenary meeting of the general assembly in the UN building in New York the president had taken steps to introduce new guidance and standards, and to set out the legal rationale for unmanned weapons deployed in the fight against al-Qaida and affiliated threats.

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Pakistani drone victims’ lawyer accuses US of blocking his visit to Congress

The Guardian, September 24, 2013

The US government is being accused of derailing a congressional hearing that would be the first to hear testimony from survivors of an alleged CIA drone strike by failing to grant the family’s lawyer a visa.

Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow with the British human rights group Reprieve and the director of the Pakistan-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights, says the state department is preventing him from taking his clients to Capitol Hill next week. The hearing would mark the first time US lawmakers heard directly from drone strike survivors.

Akbar’s clients, Rafiq ur-Rehman, his 13-year-old son, Zubair, and his nine-year-old daughter, Nabila, are from the tribal regions of north Waziristan. The children were injured in the alleged US strike on the village of Tappi last year. Their grandmother – Rehman’s mother, Mamana – was killed.

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Q&A: Eric Schlosser on the Secret History of America’s Nuclear Arsenal

Rolling Stone, September 16, 2013

It was a one-in-a-million bounce: A socket slipped from a wrench and fell about 70 feet before piercing the fuel tank of the most powerful missile in the United States’ nuclear arsenal. What followed was a race to prevent an explosion that could have incinerated the state of Arkansas.

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New Yorkers on stop-and-frisk: ‘Out here? Nothing’s going to change’

The Guardian, August 22, 2013

After a federal judge struck down the New York City police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program last week, we set out to hear from New Yorkers who have been stopped and frisked to talk about their experiences and whether they think the ruling will bring about real change. 

Ryan Devereaux went to Brownsville, New York – where the rate of police stops in the is more than 15 times that of New York City on the whole, with 93 people stopped for every 100 residents – to interview its residents.

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Questlove Remembers ‘Humiliating’ Racial Profiling Experiences

Rolling Stone, August 14, 2013

The first time Questlove remembers being stopped by police was shortly after the release of The Joshua Tree in 1987: He had just finished Bible study in Philadelphia and was in a car with a friend after buying the then-new U2 album. The last time he was stopped was a few weeks ago in New York City: He had just finished his regular DJ gig at a popular Brooklyn venue and was in a car with his driver. In total, the Grammy-winning Roots drummer estimates that police have arbitrarily stopped him somewhere between 20 and 30 times over the course of his life. Questlove opened up about his experiences with law enforcement and racial profiling in a candid interview with Democracy Now!

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Searching for the Truth About California’s Prison Hunger Strike

Rolling Stone, August 13, 2013

Hundreds of hunger-striking inmates in California have now gone one month without food in a stated effort to end the state’s controversial solitary confinement practices. Everyone agrees on that much. But prison advocates and state officials disagree about virtually everything else related to the strike – including who bears responsibility for the death of one incarcerated participant.

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New York’s stop-and-frisk trial comes to a close with landmark ruling

The Guardian, August 12, 2013

A federal judge’s ruling that the New York City police department has for years turned a blind eye to widespread constitutional rights violations was hardly a surprise to those who have closely tracked the legal challenges to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk regime.

Stop-and-frisk as implemented by the NYPD violates an individual’s right to protection under the fourth and 14th amendments of the constitution, judge Shira Scheindlin found in a 195-page ruling. She ordered the appointment of a federal monitor for the nation’s largest police force, a measure NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have long resisted.

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New York’s stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional, judge rules

The Guardian, August 12, 2013

A New York judge ruled Monday that stop-and-frisk searches carried out by city police are unconstitutional – and ordered that a federal monitor be brought in to oversee their reform.

In a major victory for civil rights activists who have long contended that stop-and-frisk amounts to racial profiling, US district court judge Shira Scheindlin said the stops violated individuals’ right to privacy and equal treatment under the law. In addition, the city’s highest officials had “turned a blind eye” to evidence that officers carried out the searches in a “racially discriminatory manner”, she added.

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New Congressional Coalition Emerges Against NSA Surveillance

Rolling Stone, July 26, 2013

Something unusual happened on the floor of the House of Representatives this week. Lawmakers divided themselves, not along party lines, but on the question of whether a top-secret surveillance program that has scooped up information from every telephone call in the country over the last seven years should continue. An amendment to the annual defense spending bill – co-sponsored by young, libertarian Michigan Republican Justin Amash and veteran, liberal Michigan Democrat John Conyers – contended that it should not. It failed on Wednesday night by just 12 votes: 205 in favor, 217 against.

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