New Book: Corporations are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements

Posted on February 2, 2012. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , |

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Check this out on AMAZON: Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It http://www.amazon.com/dp/1609941055/ref=cm_sw_r_an_am_ap_am_us?ie=UTF8
A great read…so far.

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Human Rights Book Review – ‘Death to the Dictator! – A Young Man Casts a Vote in Iran’s 2009 Election and Pays a Devastating Price’ by Afsaneh Moqadam

Posted on June 20, 2010. Filed under: Books, Events, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Iranian Elections 2009, June 12th. Mohsen Abbaspour, a typically youthful fellow in his 20’s — not especially politically opinionated, or driven to great successes, or sophisticated — takes part in the very first election of his lifetime in Iran’s 10th presidential vote in Tehran.  Sick and tired with soaring joblessness and rising cost of living, he supports the reformist party and their nominee, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mohsen feels his vote can make a difference.

Death To The Dictator - Afsaneh Moqadam

Death To The Dictator - Afsaneh Moqadam

It won’t. Practically the moment the poll closes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares himself the winner with a clear majority (supposedly 62%)  and therefore President. As the West moves quickly to comprehend the brazen fraudulence involved in the election, Abbaspour, together with his relatives, acquaintances and neighborhood friends, shall go through a feeling of complete despair, and after that another thing: an ever more clearer and perhaps more raw human emotion—the beginnings of fury. They march and protest, just like millions of other Iranians who streamed onto the street,  protesting loudly yet peacefully with words such as, “Down with the tyrant!” and  “Death to the Dictator”. Mohsen Abbaspour shall be embroiled within the irrepressible and eventual disastrous sequence of occurrences. Moshen himself is imprisoned, brutally beaten and raped.

Along the lines of Phillip Gourevitchs ‘We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families’ and Ryszard Kapuscinski’s insightful dispatches, Death to the Dictator! shocks the reader using its tragic and heart wrenching  propinquity. The author, who goes by a pseudonym to safeguard his real identity,  became an eager and extremely brave eye witness to the events in Tehran throughout these tumultuous times of 2009 and after. Within this courageous and genuine accounts pages, we view what we’re not meant to view, and discover what we aren’t presumed to be aware of.

For those who were so shocked by these events on the nightly news and wish to know more of the human rights abuses, which add to Iran’s already appalling record, you will find this a compelling read.

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Book Review – ‘Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ by Jared Diamond

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Jared M. Diamond;
Viking Press.
ISBN10: 0143036556 ISBN13: 978-0143036555

Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed' by Jared Diamond

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Returning strongly following the triumph of his Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’, Jared Diamond’s latest work,

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ can be described as book of stimulating awareness of a coin’s flip side.

Whereas ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ analyzed the way several societies flourished, as a result of their particular geographical and ecological inheritance, this book has a look as to why ancient communities and societies have failed so frequently in past times, partly due to similar causes. 

To back up his particular theories, the author examines the inner workings of a diverse mix of earlier civilizations, such as the Anasazi from the American South-west, the Mayans as well as the colonial Vikings of Greenland to emphasize the point that geography or time have no respect or concern for collapsing societies. This is also the case in vice-versa.

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ also considers modern-day societies including Rwanda in order to put in plain english the devastation that not too long ago presented itself to this human rights bare, grief stricken country, along with detailed explanations of why an American state such as modern day Montana, once considered one of the wealthiest states in the USA, should now be among the least well off. Might Montana be described as a scaled down version of the greater United States? The implications are obvious.

Jared Diamond ponders how is it that at one time extremely advanced and  supposedly astute societies that engineered spectacular monuments as testament to their particular cultural and commercial adroitness, can abruptly disappear or be cursed with a sudden monumental impotence.

All the way through the authors numerous examples is the uneasy feeling that quite conceivably this type of destiny may also befall our very own modern westernised nations of supposed endless prosperity.   In actual fact,this is  the primary idea in this highly enjoyable and very intoxicating book.

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ intends to awaken our collective awareness for a comprehension of what exists before our eyes in order that we might, just maybe, be spared, as substaniated, by the stumbling blocks of our shared histories.  Essentially, we can not distinguish nor separate the environment from economies if we intend to counteract a ruinous destiny. The two are indivisible.

This maxim is no better demonstrated than  with the book’s commentary concerning the Ancient Pueblo People – the Anasazi. The ruins of their culture in now what is northern New Mexico indicate a highly advanced and systematic culture within a vulnerable desert surrounding whichsurvived about six hundred years.  Helping put this into perspective, these people held up for a longer period than every European culture inside the Americas up to now. Nevertheless, as time passed the Anasazi from the Chaco Canyon community grew to become increasingly skilled with responsibilities associated with their once successful community. As a result this granted them opportunities to make further and more efficient within their economy whilst also driving them culturally to be equally as interdependent. As time progresssed the Chaco Canyon complex depended increasingly more on communities on the periphery and outposts farther afield for extra help and sustenance, similar to a London or a Rome like city today.  The major metropolitan areas served as centers for religion and government facilitating the administration of their respective societal structures. 

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’  details how, like numerous modern cities of today, Chaco Canyon grew to be a place where goods were imported, but rarely a place where tangibles were exported from.

When the number of people grew, similarly the demands relating to their environment grew. Energy supply and various necessary resources grew to become more and more remote; in conjunction with soil depletion and erosion in the adjoining farmlands. Essentially, the Ancient Pueblo Peoples grew to be ever more in the vicinity of dwelling at the edge of what the environment could realistically sustain.

The breaking point came with an extended period of drought.  Supporting and feeding themselves became next to impossible and their society all of a sudden disintegrated to the point of absolute civil breakdown, followed by uprisings, war, cannibalism and the eventual total abandonment of the Chaco Canyon site.
The moral message to take from this is the fact that even though these people implemented solutions which were remarkably effective and easy to undestand in the short-run,  deadly errors were perpetuated over a longer duration. Of course this can be seen as analogous to our own modern day circumstances of rampant consumerism with little care for the exploitation of our precious environment and the sucking dry of our finite natural resources.

Despite the fact that ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ may seem to solely come up with a powerful link between a failure of any society and the environment, it isn’t just about eco-cataclysms.  The author additionally quantifies four further significant components regarding the decline of societies at the same time; such as belligerent neighbours; lack of partners to trade with; climate change and probably most significantly, the response to opportunities and threats.   Within this line of thought, the book equally considers a number of historical successes where Japanese societies and the society of the  New Guinea highlands possessed the wisdom to alter elemental customary values and reestablish a beneficial harmony with nature, trading partners etc. and prosper.

The concluding thoughts of ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ are of caution but also hope for our own destiny.  Humankind, the author reiterates, is the main architect of our problems.

We likewise have the power to repair the dilemmas we have created.  It is not going to be easy and will demand deep-seated courage, so very necessary if we’re to hold hope and optimism in to our future.

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Book Review – Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez) by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer; Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez)
Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer;
Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.
ISBN10: 0743292030; ISBN13: 9780743292030

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

For over a decade Juárez, Mexico, a city adjacent to the Rio Grande El Paso, Texas continues to be the focal point for a sickening criminal offensive  towards the female population. Comprising of abductions, sexual assault, mutilation, mass murder, the majority of barbarous acts possess the same patterns or elements i.e.  females, youthful, slender, and victims of low socio-economic backgorunds – giving weight to one particular presumption: the fact that the murders are not haphazard or one-offs but by clearly by design. It is truly femicide on a mass scale.

Regardless of the countless police and military busts and raids throughout the previous decade or so, the homicides persist in occurrence and frequency and the perpetrators are increasinly becoming more daring, getting rid of corpses within the limits of the actual city as an alternative to hiding them outside in the desert (which was how and where the first bodies were initially found). There seems to be a sinister air of a probable expanding and generally mind boggling accord and possible co-operation in a dodgy atmosphere of hushing up and suspect intransigence by Mexican officials.

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

‘Daughters of Juarez’ is undoubtedly a good solid engaging read for it is an authentic account of this mass femicide. Rodriguez makes a difference to many of the people impacted and  indeed damaged by these atrocities by bringing the terrible incidents to light for all of us to see.

Despite the good this particular account may do,  the book ‘Daughters of Juarez’ is nevertheless afflicted with a shortfall in design. Rodriguez jumps between dates, men and women and happenings so often that it becomes very difficult to stay easily on track. She often endulges in going too far with what should be more simple explanations . The storytelling as good as it is in some parts seems like a waste at other times – I feel there could have been more time spent on humanizing many of the victims by telling part of their story. Perhaps Rodriguez could enlighten us on further background  in a follow up book.  Some citations should have also been utilized by the author  to assist the reader make headway of the depth of analysis and background investigatory work  that must have been devoted to this book. So much unnecessary material could have been left out and replaced with substance of a more poignant nature.

Many readers will most likely be terrified by the depth of violence that the hundreds of victims were subjected to. But let us not forget the suffering experienced in so many ways by their families that is equally  incomprehensibly terrifying. No matter how iron cast you think your stomach may be the story will shock you!

The account is riveting and should be required reading, however the drawn out  composition of thoughts and the explanation involving exactly what the family members endured as well as the over dramatized retelling of the specific events seems to block the natural flow – a flow that ordinarily would encourage you not to put such a book down.

Furthermore, a more concise assessment on the specifics as well as extra cultural evaluation is likely to have assisted one to gain a clearer picture more readily (eg.  the ongoing drug wars, the prevailing gang mentaliy, the  sex discrimination deeply seeded in Mexican way of life, the ubiquitous corruption in border towns.) Did they contribute in anyway to the mass and serial murders of the women of Juarez? Readers I am sure would like to know.

Such a kind of book as ‘Daughters of Juarez’ also casts light on the ironic fact that intelligent U.S citizens, many whom are uninformed, are consuming not just products and goods from exploited workers in Mexican sweatshops south of their border, but also consuming many of those goods stained with the blood of victims of mass femicide and the victims families tears. The facts remain – women continue to be second rate citizens in Mexico to this day, while only a stones throw away, across the border, life goes on as per usual in the US with taken for granted freedoms, justice and equality.  It is an unfortunate fact that the United States indirectly supports the ongoing repression because of their unquentionable thirst for consumerism.

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Look over ‘Daughters of Juarez’ and then consider embarking on a getaway to Mexico. You will think about your lovely trip a whole lot more differently – guaranteed!

Even now, you can find little published regarding the issues raised in ‘Daughters of Juarez’. Perhaps if such a nightmarish situation occurred just north of the border, in El Paso, USA or within virtually any other developed or modern city anywhere else on the planet, we would certainly see it making headlines and causing mass public outcry. This is why this book is so very crucial. It brings the horrific events to the world’s attention.

But we must re-iterate despite the importance of the work bringing this topic to the world, the authors have done a diservice to the cause by their excessive dramatizing which can seem increasingly overdone and often contrived as one progresses through the book.

We do recommend reading the book and probably purchasing it. Support your local library and ask them to get it in for you if they do not aleady have it on their shelves. Regardless of some of its minor flaws, Daughters of Juarez is engaging and still worth a read.

The Human Rights Book Review

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Human Rights books to keep an eye out for in 2010

Posted on January 2, 2010. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy New Year to all our readers. May 2010 be a great year for you all.  

Following are some of the books we have recently got wind of, so keep on the look out for their upcoming release. Based on initial reports, they seem like items worth exploring soon.  

1. The Geneva Conventions Under Assault

Sarah Perrigo and Jim Whitman  

Due: late March  

The Geneva Conventions Under Assault by Sarah Perrigo and Jim Whitman

2. Global Governance and Biopolitics: Regulating Human Security

David Roberts  

Due: early March  

Global Governance and Biopolitics - Regulating Human Security by David Roberts

Global Governance and Biopolitics - Regulating Human Security by David Roberts

3. The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man’s Battle for Human Rights in South America’s Heart of Darkness

Jordan Goodman  

Due: mid Feb  

The Devil and Mr. Casement - One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness by Jordan Goodman

The Devil and Mr. Casement - One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness by Jordan Goodman

4. Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good (Studies in Legal History)

Susan Reynolds  

The University of North Carolina Press  

Due: mid January  

Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

5. Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice

Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham  

Due: early Jan  

Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice by Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham

Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice by Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham

6. Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity

Gloria Moss  

Due: early January  

Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity by Glora Moss

Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity by Gloria Moss

7. Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures

Elaine Swan  

Due: early January  

Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures by Elaine Swan

Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures by Elaine Swan

(more…)

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Seasons Greetings!

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , |

 

On behalf of the Human Rights Book Review, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a wonderful festive season.

May you, your families and friends have much health, happiness  and success at whatever you do. If you are involed with human rights, may you have super duper extra success!

We hope to have you back here soon.

Cheers

Michael Simon, The Human Rights Book Review

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Book Review – The Guantánamo Lawyers – Inside a Prison Outside the Law. NYU Press, 2009.

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Guantánamo Lawyers – Inside a Prison Outside the Law
ISBN-13: 9780814737361

The Gitmo Lawyers

The Guantánamo Lawyers is a great read.

Everyone of us has been peppered for years now with stories from the media of Guantanamo inmates and their abuse, either at the hands of their guards, or by the legal system (lack of due process). This book, the Guantanamo Lawyers, brings over 100 personal narratives from not only the inmates at “Gitmo” but also from other overseas prisons/detention centres. It brings these narratives to us first hand from their direct representatives, their Lawyers. The inmates, range from teenagers to octogenarians from approximately forty separate countries. For years, so many have been detained without charges, without any form of trial, and/or a fair and proper hearing. Many of these inmates are indeed America’s enemies but what is so scary is that in the book we learn of stories of how many of the inmates weren’t even captured on any form of battlefield. They were just rumored to be enemies, sometimes on little or faulty intelligence and delivered up to US forces for handsome bounty.

What really pulls at ones sensitivities is the utter mental and physical despair that the detainees go through, their feeling of hopelessness and fear as they are terrorized daily.
Its is hard to believe that civilized society can be driven to these depths. Especially the United States, the once shining example of freedom and justice.
Countless studies have been done on inmates and detainees over hundreds of years and this is probably one of the best (and most horrible) studies of how an intense isolation of a torturous military imprisonment devoid of so many human rights and international legal norms, can wreak havoc on an inmates mind and body and in the process, collaterally rip apart the very soul of the people and country that the system is supposed to protect. One can’t help but draw parallels with these stories with those of the harshest of colonial era penal colonies. These inmates have no sense of future. Deprived of their reality they are driven to self harm such as suicide, hunger strikes, self mutilation etc to add to the harm already heaped upon then day after day by their overseers.

Guantanamo detainees like the ones from 'The Guantanamo Lawyers"

We learn of the brave fight by true American patriots – the lawyers who represent them. The lawyers, many of them military lawyers, thankfully, are not beholden to their military masters, but driven by their devotion and oaths to justice, fairness and human rights for all. Their plight is moving. One finds themselves cheering for these advocates like one would cheer on a football team. Their lesson is our lesson and that is, no matter who we are, we must respect the rule of law, human rights and never stoop to the level of our enemies.
Grab a copy – it’s sure worth the read.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Contents of The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law

Introduction by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz
Prelude

Chapter 1 Representing the “Worst of the Worst”
How and Why the Lawyers Started Representing Detainees

Chapter 2 Getting behind the Wire
Rasul/Al Odah: The Right to Representation

Chapter 3 – Uncovering Guantánamo’s Human Face
First Impressions
Rendered: How the Detainees Got to Guantánamo
Female Attorneys
Family Members
Interpreters

Chapter 4 Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts
Barriers to Representation
The No-Hearing Hearings: Combatant Status Review Tribunals
Military Commissions
Political Maneuvering
Boumediene v. Bush: The Death Knell for Prisons beyond the Law

Chapter 5 – Tortured
A Product of Torture Culture
Reactions
Hunger Strikes
Suicides

Chapter 6 – Alternative Forms of Advocacy

Chapter 7 – Leaving Guantánamo
Stuck in Limbo
Out but Not Free
Happy Endings?

Chapter 8 – Guantánamo beyond Cuba: A Global Detention System outside the Law
Guantánamo Comes to America
Black Sites
Coda
Timeline: Guantánamo and the “War on Terror”

Contributors

If one is inclined to go further with the research or understanding of the Lawyers narrative, New York University Library has produced a Guantánamo Lawyers digital archive for this purpose. The site is dedicated to collecting the narratives of the legal representatives who acted on behalf of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center. Anyone can download and view the documents as PDFs. Please visit the site here: Guantánamo Lawyers Digital Archive

Michael Simon
The Human Rights Book Review

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