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U.N. Releases Drone Report

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson

This is the third annual report submitted to the Human Rights Council by the Special
Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson.

In chapter II of the report, the Special Rapporteur lists his key activities undertaken
from 10 January to 16 December 2013. In the main report, contained in chapter III, the
Special Rapporteur examines the use of remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, in
extraterritorial lethal counter-terrorism operations, including in the context of asymmetrical
armed conflict, and allegations that the increasing use of remotely piloted aircraft, or
drones, has caused disproportionate civilian casualties, and makes recommendations to
States. This report constitutes the continuation of the Special Rapporteur’s interim report
on the use of drones to the General Assembly (A/68/389).


Europe: Between Democracy and Oligarchy ( New Left Project )

Though Ukraine’s structural problems go far deeper than the current upheavals over aligning more closely with the European Union, the fact that this peculiar international body can spark pitched street battles refutes one lazy but perennial assertion of its critics: that the EU is simply a trade organisation – a glorified NAFTA – which in the broad scheme of things matters little, both to the populations of Europe and in terms of continental governance. Critics point to low voter turn-out all across member-states and high levels of disillusionment among new entrants as evidence that the Union has little real effect on people's lives and little impact on where power lies – either national or transnational – within Europe. But as Ukraine proves, the status of relations with the EU is capable of summoning extraordinary social forces, a rallying point not only for the immediate question of membership but also for much broader questions about the paths of national development prospective member states find themselves on. The task of understanding the EU – and what membership of a future Union might mean for prospective members – is more important than ever. The violence on the streets of Kiev demands a reassessment of critics’ complacency.

Patterns of European integration (beginning, in most histories, with the European Steel and Coal Community of 1951) have by no means been monolithic. Indeed, for a long time the political institutions designed to underwrite and extend the deepening processes of economic integration were largely neofunctionalist in their goals: aiming for a gradual harmonisation of national tensions through an equally gradual extension of the Community's legal remit. This was expansion by stealth, occasionally in an explicitly social or corporatist and welfarist vein. The most famous of the Community's architects, Jean Monnet, was pragmatically federalist and pro-democratic. ‘Is it possible,’ he asked, ‘to have a Common Market without federal social, monetary and macro-economic policies?’[1] Monnet has more or less been proved right by the eurozone crisis, though political pressures (especially in Germany) continue to resist that conclusion. Major political and economic imbalances between member states continue to undermine any movement towards greater integration of this federal variety.

The Europe Union's other predominant ideology, that of intergovernmental realism, conceives of action undertaken by national governments as the primary locus of European integration. Intergovernmental realists stress the importance of national governments, and point to how further integration will proceed from interactions between states, not above them.[2] Thus neofunctionalist liberals of the Monnet variety stress the transnational processes at work in integration, aiming to further it through the fostering of greater power for international institutions operating outside of or beyond the sovereignty of nation states. Intergovernmental realists, however, stress the limits of possible supranational integration owing to the self-interested nature of national governments. Realists are convinced that the highest form of legal order is one which mediates between self-interested nation-states, curbing their democratic excesses through old-fashioned diplomatic manoeuvring. As such the nation is conceived as the pre-eminent political actor on an international terrain of Hobbesian anarchy with no novel conception of sovereignty emerging.[3] Though such an approach may be appealing for those wishing to understand continued national conflicts within the Union, it has only occasionally reflected the piecemeal reality of EU development, which has involved a good deal of class compromise between states, trade unions and financial institutions, among other conflicting parties.

Nevertheless, by the early 1990s European integration appeared to be stagnating under conditions of a fractious world economy and apparently divergent political and economic paths – with German corporatism, French social-welfarism, and British emulation of the American ‘neoliberal’ model all representing conflicts among Europe's ruling elites. It took the sudden collapse of Communism in the USSR, the Balkans and the states of East-Central Europe (all widely unforeseen) to reignite pro-integration passions. Despite the obvious confidence boost the end of the ‘Evil Empire’ gave the western half, no amount of good-will could fund reunification efforts (on the part of Germany) and reconstruction efforts (on the part of the soon-to-be-Union as a whole). Even if European voters largely supported the drive towards integration, the process itself was carried out in the interests of capital accumulation. The newly democratised states on the periphery would become highly profitable, relatively risk-free spaces of capital investment. Though a great deal of public funding went in to reconstructing Eastern Europe, the overwhelming tendency was for capital – in the form of factory relocations, foreign direct investment, and enormous financial lending – to seek major profits. Thus, following 1989, the specifically pro-market forces underlying EU integration and expansion were foregrounded.

remainder: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/europe_between_democracy_and_oligarchy

Ukrainians Breathe Sigh of Relief As Diplomatic Efforts Continue Between West & Russia

Professor Nicolai Petro lays out how the Crimea crisis could be resolved, as tension remains between pro-EU groups and Russian supported factions

March 6, 2014


Nicolai N. Petro is professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island. During the collapse of the Soviet Union he served as special assistant for policy in the U.S. State Department. He has published widely on Russian and international politics, and is currently in Ukraine on a Fulbright research fellowship. His web site iswww.npetro.net.

The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the Fulbright program or the U.S. Department of State.

Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Following the Russian takeover of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, Western and Russian diplomats are meeting in Paris to discuss how to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine. The European Union has also offered a $15 billion aid package to Ukraine on the condition that it reaches a deal with the International Monetary Fund over austerity measures and domestic gas subsidies.

Now joining us to discuss all this is Nicolai Petro. Nicolai is a professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, and he has been in Ukraine since July as a visiting scholar and has observed the current crisis firsthand.



Feds Earmark Millions For Disability Housing Assistance

By Shaun Heasley

March 4, 2014

Federal housing officials are putting $120 million on the table to help thousands of people with disabilities access rental assistance.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Tuesday that state housing agencies can apply now through May 5 for a share of the funding that’s intended to help prevent homelessness and unnecessary institutionalization of those with disabilities.

The money is available under HUD’s Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, an initiative created through a 2010 law designed to expand community-based housing options for people with disabilities.

To participate, state housing agencies must work with local Medicaid and health and human services agencies to identify and assist individuals with disabilities who require long-term services and supports to live independently in the community.


Resolving Nuclear Arms Claims Hinges on Iran’s Demand for Documents

WASHINGTON, Mar 1 2014 (IPS) - The Barack Obama administration has demanded that Iran resolve “past and present concerns” about the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear programme as a condition for signing a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Administration officials have suggested that Iran must satisfy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the allegations in the agency’s report that it has had a covert nuclear weapons programme in the past.

But the record of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA shows Tehran has been ready for the past two years to provide detailed responses to all the charges of an Iranian nuclear weapons work, and that the problem has been the refusal of the IAEA to share with Iran the documentary evidence on which those allegations have been based.

The real obstacle to providing those documents, however, has long been a U.S. policy of refusing to share the documents on the assumption that Iran must confess to having had a weaponisation programme.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, declared Feb. 12, “The authenticity of each allegation should be proven first, then the person who submitted it to the agency should give us the genuine document. When we are assured of the authenticity, then we can talk to the agency.”

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