Print this Page

What's New

Resources updated Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017

A meeting of the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (File photo)

"Indigenous activists from all around the world are calling on a United Nations committee to make cultural appropriation a criminal offense.

The 189-delegate committee, which is a subset of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, has been in Geneva this week working on a task that it began in 2001: Creating international regulations would ban people from "stealing" indigenous art, dance, and medicine.

Now, it's important to emphasize that these advocates are not simply asking the UN to issue a statement calling out cultural appropriation as harmful; they actually want to implement laws and institute enforcement mechanisms to punish it as a criminal offense. As reported by CBC News, James Anaya, the dean of law at the University Colorado, spoke to the committee on Monday and demanded that the final document 'obligate states to create effective criminal and civil enforcement procedures to recognize and prevent the non-consensual taking and illegitimate possession, sale and export of traditional cultural expressions.'

This is, of course, incredibly stupid. Almost everything in the world has been called "cultural appropriation" by now, and it would be hard to think of a single person who might not end up inadvertently violating one of these laws..."

A UN Committee Is Considering Making "Cultural Appropriation" Illegal Worldwide Article

The Qatar Lounge at UN Headquarters in New York

Terror-Supporting Qatar at Home at the UN

American Otto Warmbier in tears after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in January 2016

Released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier suffered extensive brain damage and shows no current signs of botulism, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Thursday.

The 22-year-old has not spoken or "engaged in any purposeful movements" since arriving in the country Tuesday night, said Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program.

"He shows no signs of understanding language or responding to verbal commands," the doctor said, adding that Warmbier's condition is best described as "unresponsive wakefulness."

The doctors said they could not speculate on what caused his injuries. They said they had no information about the kind of care he received in North Korea.

The earliest images of his brain from North Korea are dated April 2016, Kanter said. An analysis suggests the injury likely occurred in the preceding weeks.

"This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where the blood supply to brain is inadequate for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue," he said. The doctors would not discuss Warmbier's prognosis.

Recently released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has suffered severe neurological damage and his family flatly rejects the regime's explanation for his condition, reporters were told Thursday in his Ohio hometown.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student who returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention, is in stable condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center but has a "severe neurological injury," hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said.

Martin declined to elaborate, saying doctors will share more information about Warmbier's condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon.

But Warmbier's father left no doubt he blames North Korea, blasting the secretive regime in a 23-minute news conference at his son's alma mater, Wyoming High School north of Cincinnati.

The family doesn't believe North Korea's explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016, Fred Warmbier said.

"Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma -- and we don't -- there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long," Warmbier said.

The father, wearing the cream sport coat his son wore during his televised trial in North Korea, stopped short of saying how he believed his son was injured.

"We're going to leave that to the doctors (to explain) today," he said.

He called on North Korea to release other American detainees.

"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son. And no excuse for the way they've treated so many others," he said. "No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have." Conviction and release

Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home. He had been on a tour of the reclusive country, his parents said.

North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.

That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. He was found guilty of committing a "hostile act" against the country and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.

His parents learned of their son's condition -- what North Korea called a coma -- only last week, they said in a statement.

Critical of Obama administration

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration's handling of Otto's detention, saying the family heeded the US government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result."

They kept quiet "on the false premise that (North Korea) would treat Otto fairly and let him go," he said.

He said he and his wife, Cindy, decided this year that the "time for strategic patience was over," and so they did media interviews and traveled to Washington to meet the State Department's special representative for North Korean policy, Joseph Yun.

Yun met in May with North Korean representatives in Norway, and the North Koreans agreed that Swedish representatives would be allowed to visit Otto Warmbier and three other US detainees, a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity this week.

After the Swedes visited one detainee, North Korea representatives sought another meeting with Yun, and it was at that June 6 meeting in New York that North Korea's UN ambassador told Yun that Warmbier was in a coma, the official said.

North Korea released Warmbier six days later.

Fred Warmbier praised the Trump administration's efforts: "They have our thanks for bringing Otto home."

When asked whether then-President Barack Obama could have done more, Warmbier replied, "I think the results speak for themselves."

Father, supporters share emotional moment

The father saluted his son as a brilliant, adventurous and courageous man who did what he could to endure brutality and terror.

Fred Warmbier shared an emotional moment with supporters after he left the news conference. While driving away, he saw a group of about 150 people wearing blue and white shirts, and ribbons of the same color combination, in support of Otto at a nearby intersection.

He left the vehicle and spoke to the crowd. Some were in tears as he spoke to them.

"I'm proud of my son," he said.

"We're proud of him, too," some in the crowd shouted back.

Three other US detainees

Warmbier's release coincided with basketball star Dennis Rodman's latest visit to North Korea, though Michael Anton, a US national security spokesman, told CNN there is no connection between the two.

Fred Warmbier said the same Thursday.

"Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto," he said.

Rodman was asked by reporters Tuesday if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea. "That's not my purpose right now," he said. "My purpose is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea."

The other Americans held by Pyongyang are Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

U.S. Student, Detained in North Korea, Returns Home with Severe Brain Injury Document

Akram, a prisoner of ISIS for two and a half years, who was forced into becoming a child soldier

Akram was 7 years old when he learned how to behead a person. The lessons started with pictures that showed the way to decapitate an enemy. He then graduated from drawings to a town square, where he witnessed a real beheading.

Akram, now 8, was a prisoner of ISIS for 2 half years. In captivity, he underwent brutal training, including torture, as he learned to become a child soldier.

Freed by Kurdish fighters two months ago, along with a younger brother and sister, he is now in a refugee camp 25 miles east of Duhok, a Kurdish-controlled city in northern Iraq. Their mother is still in captivity.

The nightmare began when Akram and his mother were shot while fleeing ISIS invaders. Akram was taken to the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, where doctors removed five bullets from his back.

During his first three months in captivity, he was regularly beaten if he didn't learn his lessons about Islam. He was forced to study Arabic in order to read the Koran. Akram is a Yazidi, a member of an ancient non-Muslim minority in Iraq. In 2014, ISIS attempted to massacre the Yazidis in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, charging that they are infidels who must be destroyed.

Jan Kizilhan, a 50-year-old German psychologist of Kurdish background, treats victims of ISIS torture. In a recent telephone interview, he spoke about Akram's unimaginable childhood. Kizilhan said that Akram is often unable to sleep because of nightmares. He also beats his younger siblings, an expression of underlying anger at his brutal treatment in ISIS captivity.

Kizilhan said Akram is already showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, an affliction of soldiers who fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kizilhan said he has to speak very slowly to Akram, and must frequently repeat things.

When interviewed by Kizilhan, Akram bites his nails. His eyes dart around the room, without making human contact.

The scrawny boy with close-cropped brown hair tells Kizilhan that his captors often threatened to cut off his hands. He then runs his fingers around his neck and says they also repeatedly warned him that they would decapitate him if he were defiant during weapons training. He has learned to fire a variety of weapons.

ISIS would only let Akram see his mother when he showed progress in becoming a good soldier. "He missed her and didn't think he could survive without her," said Kizilhan. "This was how they controlled him."

The first step toward helping Akram is to build trust, said Kizilhan, to show him that there is an alternate society where barbaric behavior is not the norm. Naji Hamo, a psychologist who is Kizilhan's student, will undertake the effort to build this trust.

Kizilhan has brought more than 1,000 severely traumatized Yazidis to a treatment facility near Stuttgart in the German state of Baden Wurttenberg, which has allocated $107 million over three years to operate the treatment center.

Reflecting on the history of man's cruelty, Kizilhan cited the Turkish massacre of the Armenians and the millions of Jews gassed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Then he spoke of the personal emotional toll he experiences when he witnesses the destruction of Akram's childhood.

He recalls another tragic victim of ISIS, a mother who refused to convert to Islam and refused to learn Arabic, or read the Koran. ISIS punished her by placing her 2-year-old daughter in a black box in the torrid August heat.

Despite the mother's sobbing pleas, ISIS would not let the girl out of the box. On the seventh day, when the child was near death, the bearded ISIS guard broke her back in two places. She died two days later. The mother cried uncontrollably when she told Kizilhan this story.

"I have to learn to distance myself from the Akrams of the world," he said. "Otherwise I will not be able to treat him."

How can people be so cruel?

This is the question that Kizilhan asks himself, but he finds no answer.

ISIS Child Soldier Tortured, Taught How to Behead ISIS Enemies Document

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and General Assembly President Peter Thomson (File photo)

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution today that will create a new counter-terrorism office to operate without a definition of terrorism.

The resolution to create the new entity, called the "Office of Counter-Terrorism," was introduced by the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson of Fiji, who described it as the first "major institutional reform" initiative of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The "reform" is reported to be a means to plant a Russian in a new high level post within the U.N. secretariat. The new Under-Secretary-General position, mandated to provide "strategic leadership" on U.N. counter-terror efforts, is expected to be filled by Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

UN expands its counter-terrorism bureaucracy minus a definition of terrorism Development

The village of Abu Sourouj in Darfur after being attacked by Sudanese government forces and burned to the ground

Sudan, where "development" includes genocide and crimes against humanity, was elected by a whopping 175 of 193 members of the U.N. General Assembly today to serve on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a body composed of 54 U.N. member states.

ECOSOC's mandate is to "advance the three dimensions of sustainable development economic, social and environmental." How Sudan advances development at home according to the U.S. State Department's country report on human rights practices in Sudan:

"[A]erial bombardments of civilian areas by military forces and attacks on civilians by government and other armed groups...and abuses perpetrated by [National Intelligence and Security Services personnel] with impunity," as well as "[a]ttacks on villages often includ[ing] killing and beating of civilians; sexual and gender-based violence; forced displacement; looting and burning entire villages; destroying food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life; and attacks on humanitarian targets, including humanitarian facilities..."

Genocidal Sudanese Regime Elected to U.N. Body Mandated to Advance Living Conditions Development

Members of the UN Security Council applauding adoption of anti-Israel resolutions, December 23, 2016

New Zealand Refuses to Apologize For Sponsoring Anti-Israel Security Council Resolution Article

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chairing a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, next to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

As he testified on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked whether the Trump administration supports the World Trade Organization.

Tillerson responded, 'Yes, but W.T.O. needs some reform.'

Then, Tillerson was asked whether the administration supports the United Nations. His response was superb.

'Yes, the U.N. needs a lot of reform.'

I say superb for a simple reason.

Namely, because unless the U.S. qualifies its support for the U.N. to that institution's reform, it will continue failing...

For a start, as I've explained, the U.N. is terribly dysfunctional. Originally designed to provide for global peace, today's U.N. is hamstrung by a bureaucracy that seeks consensus above all else.

It's a consensus with a heavy price tag. Over the last 25 years, from Bosnia to Rwanda to Syria, the U.N.'s impotence has allowed hundreds of thousands of innocent people to die. Those deaths haunt the U.N.'s pristine corridors.

Yet incompetence is far from the U.N.'s only issue.

The organization is also hugely wasteful...

Of course, if the U.N. doesn't want to reform, then that also okay.

In that case, European governments - those who regard themselves as the world's great peacemakers - can make up the difference."

Tillerson is right: The UN 'needs a lot of reform' Article

Robert Piper (File photo)

Israel Requests UN Official's Expulsion Article