A coalition of 14 media organizations and public interest groups organized by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have filed an amicus brief in federal court in New York urging the release of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photos. The coalition, which includes CBS, NBC and the New York Times, supports a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Pentagon, which has been pending since October 2003.
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has filed suit against the city to keep police from searching the bags of passengers entering the subway. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims the two-week old policy violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and prohibitions against unlawful searches and seizures—while doing almost nothing to shield the city from terrorism.
In an Aug. 1 statement, Amnesty International expresses concern about the recent arrest and detention of six human rights defenders in Western Sahara, and reports that two of them had been tortured. Some of those arrested are former "disappeared", others are former prisoners of conscience.
From Scientific American, Aug. 4:
In the spring of 2002, a large chunk of the Larsen B ice shelf (LIS-B) on the Antarctic Peninsula broke off and tumbled into the Weddell Sea. A new analysis published today in the journal Nature suggests that the more than 3,200 square kilometer area that collapsed signifies an unprecedented loss in the past 10,000 years and can be attributed to accelerated climate warming in the region.
Hundreds have taken to the streets of Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott, shouting and honking car horns in celebration after the army announced it had seized power and ousted long-ruling President Moawiya Ould Tayeh. Convoys of vehicles with people hanging out the sides shouting "Praise Be to God" and making victory signs paraded down one of Nouakchott's main avenues. (Reuters, Aug. 3)
From the Aug. 1 AP. Rights groups are protesting that 15 Uzbek refugees are to be forcibly repatriated from Kyrgyzstan. But this is after 440 were flown to Romania to seek asylum in Europe last week over the objections of Uzbekistan's government. This happened immediately before Uzbekistan announced it was giving the US military the boot—and may have helped precipitate it...
Russia says it is outraged by an interview with Chechen guerilla leader Shamil Basayev broadcast by the ABC TV network, and the foreign ministry summoned a senior US diplomat in Moscow to express its "strong indignation" over the show. In the interview, the warlord—who claimed responsibility for the deadly raid on a school in Beslan, South Ossetia—admitted he was a terrorist but said the Russians were terrorists too.
More than 320 people—half of them children—were killed in the Beslan attack last September. Russia is offering a $10 million reward for the capture of the warlord.
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31:
In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the Oral Criminal Court in the Chilean city of Temuco acquitted six Mapuche rights activists in a retrial on charges of "terrorist illicit association." The ruling was handed down at the close of the trial on July 22, and was officially announced at a brief hearing on July 27. The regional prosecutor's office had charged lonkos (community leaders) Pascual Pichun and Aniceto Norin, Mapuche activists Jose Llanca Ailla, Jorge Huaiquin Antinao and Marcelo Quintrileo Contreras, and non-Mapuche sympathizer Patricia Troncoso with forming an illegal association to plan and commit "terrorist" acts--including incendiary attacks, theft and other crimes--on behalf of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), a Mapuche land rights group. Most of the alleged crimes were against property and none posed a direct threat to life. "The Chilean government should take careful note of today's verdict and stop using the country's antiterrorism law in cases for which it clearly is inapplicable," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for the US-based Human Rights Watch on July 22.