Weekly Newscast – December 12, 2014

Pasu Au Yeung via Flickr

United States: CIA Torture Report Released on Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on CIA interrogation and torture methods. The report criticized CIA methods on grounds that the “enhanced interrogation” was not effective at gaining information, that these methods were not necessary in providing information to find Osama bin-Laden, and that the CIA misled the White House, Congress, and the public. Detailed descriptions of the CIA’s torture methods included waterboarding, nudity, sleep deprivation, and rectal hydration. CIA officials, including director John Brennan, criticized the report’s methodology and claim that government officials were misled. Taking criticism of the report a step further, former Vice-President Dick Cheney asserted that the program was authorized and that claims of human rights violations were questioned, asking: “how nice do you want to be to the murderers of 3,000 Americans?” Many countries criticized by the United States for human rights violations were quick to point out the hypocrisy of the United States also violating human rights. Many critics of the report, including former CIA officials and US members of Congress, have expressed fears that retaliation attacks will follow the release of the report or that terrorist organizations will use it as a recruitment tool.

Palestinian Official Dies During Protests on the West Bank

Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein died this week after a protest in the West Bank, where he inhaled tear gas and was struck in the chest by a member of the Israeli security forces. Video footage of the protest shows Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council and head of the campaign against Israeli barriers and the settlements in the West Bank, being grabbed roughly by the neck and shoved to the ground. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has said that Abu Ein’s death is under investigation, but the European Union has called for an independent inquiry. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini called reports about IDF methods at the demonstration “extremely worrying” and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the incident was “an intolerable crime in every sense of the word.”

Hong Kong Protests End as Protesters Wait for Police to Close in on Them

Hong Kong authorities began dismantling the main encampment of pro-democracy protesters this week after more than two months of demonstrations. A successful injunction applied to one part of the protest site, but Hong Kong’s High Court officially have ordered the entire demonstration area cleared. Protesters have demand the right to vote for Hong Kong’s chief executive official without Beijing screening candidates beforehand. Current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has repeatedly refused to negotiate with protesters, citing election laws enacted when Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Student demonstrators have called for a peaceful clearing process, but many say they are not finished. “We’ll stop now, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up,” said Koby Chan, a sales representative. “We’ll be back for sure.”

Ukrainian Military and Rebels Observe a “Silent Day,” to Coincide with the Start of New Peace Talks Between Ukraine and Russia.

In belated recognition of the cease-fire agreement signed on September 5th, this week Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels observed a “silent day” to reopen peace talks. In anticipation, Russia resumed shipments of natural gas to Ukraine, which it had cut off for the past six months. At the meeting, Russia continued to insist that the European Union and other Western nations recognize Ukraine as a neutral country, rather than draw it into Western organizations such as NATO. Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated NATO membership was off the table. Ukraine could reject the deal, however, choosing to cede territory currently occupied by the rebels. As the “silent day” drew to a close, Ukrainian officials accused the separatists of violating the cease-fire, alleging 13 artillery attacks on Ukrainian positions.

This week’s newscast was written and edited by: Jay Clayton, Amy DiPierro, John Gagnon, Sabrina Merold, and Lily Tyson.

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