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Beyond Wikileaks: The Privatization of War

Reproduced from T R U T H O U T, original may be viewed at:

http://www.truth-out.org/beyond-wikileaks-files-the-privatization-war66239

The United Nation Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, started in Geneva on November 5, 2010 to review the human rights record of the United States. The following is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on November 3, 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.

Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additionally, Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.

These non-state entities of the 21st century operate in extremely blurred situations, where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.

However, these individuals cannot be considered civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive-defensive to an active-offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law, either, since they are not part of the army or in the armed forces chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.

PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries, for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs, which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.

Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally via the following mandate:

To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights … and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities.

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Petitions

I added a plug-in to the website what will allow us to create online petitions, that can be signed online.

I though this would be useful.

This article includes a sample petition set-up (i.e., you can "sign" this "petition", which isn't really a petition, but just a brief article about our new petitions feature). When you do so, your e-mail address will NOT be publicly displayed.

For more information on how to use this plugin to create petitions, see the developer's site click here (link will open a new tab or window), or the relevant thread on our forums here.

(If you're reading this on the News page, click "read more" to see the full article, and a sample petition.  If you're reading the full article, you will already see it below this parenthesis.)

 

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7 Myths About Capitalism & Socialism in America

7 myths about US Capitalism & Socialism in America

Myth 1: Capitalism runs on the supply and demand of free individuals exercising choices in a free market. This is a powerful myth because it deceptively conflates a deeply held democratic principle of freedom with economic workings. Whatever about early capitalism of two centuries ago and more, the present period of late capitalism is largely bereft of free markets and choices. Think of Boeing and Raytheon. These “emblems of American capitalism” would not survive without massive taxpayer subventions from the $710 billion that the US government lavishes on the Pentagon every year. President Obama recently congratulated top Wall Street bankers on receiving multi-million-dollar bonuses, saying that it was the manifestation of the American “free market” system. Given the monopoly of these banks, the ruin that they have plunged societies into, and the taxpayer bailouts to shore up the unseemly wealth of a financial elite, the espousal of such a myth by Obama is ludicrous. Also, just what is so free about the millions of workers who were compelled to take on reckless mortgage debts in order to make ends meet because their wages and livelihoods had been bled dry over decades by the oligarchy?

 

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Dr. Richard Wolff speaks in Hamden

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In Hamden, CT on September 23rd, Professor Richard D. Wolff, a highly praised economist whose works on the present global economic crisis have been reaching a wide audience, spoke on "The Continuing Economic Crisis: Why Bailouts Failed, What Needs to be Done".
Professor Wolff, a long time New Haven resident while teaching at Yale and UMass – Amherst, is the author of several books on Economics.

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