human rights

After hearing testimony from four families, U.S. lawmakers passed a resolution calling on Iran to release three jailed Americans and provide information about a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007.

As the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran approaches, the families say it's time for the U.S. to push hard on this issue.

Among those who spoke Tuesday before a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee was Daniel Levinson, son of former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

It's not often that the Dalai Lama calls out a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

But that's what happened last week when he was asked about Aung San Suu Kyi, who has declined to speak out on the worsening plight of the Rohingya minority in her homeland of Myanmar.

Understanding Hierarchies in Nature and Society

May 20, 2015
Creative Commons

Social structures, in almost all cases, are defined by some form of hierarchy. Whether in academics, sports, religion, business, or politics, there's usually someone at the top and others whose goal it is to get there. But while it's easy to think that we've designed our world to be this way, the truth may be that we had no choice.

The spectacle of thousands of desperate Rohingya Muslim "boat people" being denied landfall in Southeast Asia has laid bare the region's religious and ethnic prejudices as well as its fears of being swamped by an influx of migrants.

The Science of Snake Oil

Apr 22, 2015
Dave Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

We like to think of health care as an exact science: established guidelines, uniform practices, rigorously tested treatments vetted through extensive lab trials. Unfortunately this was neither the case  in the early days of medicine, nor is it the case today. It's shame that nearly 2500 years after the writing of Hippocrates' famous oath we'd still be wrestling with the ethics of best practice.

The Case Against Owning Exotic Pets

Apr 1, 2015
Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

It's official: owning a dog or a cat is just not as cool as it used to be. Nowadays, anybody who's anybody owns a monkey, or a leopard, or a slow loris... Whatever that is. Indeed in today's age, with the desire to stand out leading us to make ever more questionable decisions, owning a creature everyone else is smart enough (or ethical enough) not to own is a true mark of distinction.

Leaders on Capitol Hill are at odds regarding a report on CIA methods — including torture — used to extract information in the so-called war on terror.

Chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been fighting for the release of her 480-page executive summary of the report since April of this year, and it finally was scheduled for a reveal this week.

Updated at 4:45 a.m. ET Sunday

Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, held for months in North Korea, received a joyful homecoming Saturday as their plane set down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle.

Bae, 45, a Korean-American missionary and tour guide from Lynnwood, Wash., thanked family and supporters for not forgetting about him during his detention.

German authorities say they're investigating possible neo-Nazi involvement in the theft of an iron gate at the former Dachau concentration camp bearing the infamous phrase: "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Makes You Free."

Those eerie words greeted some 200,000 prisoners who arrived at Dachau, which was the first concentration camp the Nazi regime opened in Germany. Tens of thousands of people sent there died from starvation and overwork as well as from medical experiments, torture and violence between 1933 and 1945.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Our show today is a long-planned look at human waste. In other words... Poop. It has taken on a slightly more somber cast now that Connecticut is monitoring the possibility of its first case of Ebola.

But, in some ways, we've got the perfect guests, especially Rose George, whose book about sanitation begins in a small town in Ivory Coast "filled with refugees from next door Liberia." Rose is looking for a toilet and eventually succumbs to the reality that there is no such place. There's a building where people do their business on the floor.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was attacked by Taliban militants for promoting education for girls, will share the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian campaigner against exploitation of children.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee says on Nobelprize.org:

When militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State swept through the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in August, they killed hundreds and kidnapped unknown numbers of men, women and children.

The fate of most of them is still unknown, but activists and those who have escaped recount horror stories of rapes and beatings. They're trying to focus international attention on those still being held.

A report presented by the United Nations today paints a pretty grim picture of Syria.

It tells the story of a country mired in a ruthless civil war in which all sides are indiscriminately killing and torturing civilians. It presents a laundry list of human rights violations and war crimes undertaken by both the forces of President Bashar Assad and non-state armed groups, such as the Islamic State, that are fighting to topple the regime.

This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. ET.

A video that was released online Tuesday in which the extremist group the Islamic State claimed to behead American journalist James Foley is authentic, according to U.S. intelligence analysts. Foley was abducted in Syria in 2012.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday afternoon and later removed; since then, it has resurfaced elsewhere online. The images show Foley kneeling next to a masked militant and reciting comments against the U.S. before being killed.

This post was updated at 9:45 p.m. ET.

President Obama has authorized targeted airstrikes against Islamic militants where needed and if militants advance toward American personnel in northern Iraq, he said Thursday night.

The president also said American planes have dropped aid and supplies to religious minorities in Iraq who have fled the extremist group the Islamic State.

filmfoto/iStock / Thinkstock

The East Haven town employee who alleges that Mayor Joseph Maturo sexually harassed her at work was shocked to learn that her name was released to the media this week by the mayor’s office, according to her attorney. It’s unusual for these kinds of complaints to be released.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Those who identify as transgender Americans continue to face social stigmas, discrimination, and legal issues not often faced by other members of the LGBT community.

This hour, we talk with some transgender rights experts and advocates about what Vice President Joe Biden has called "the civil rights issue of our time."

We also check in with WNPR reporter Lucy Nalpathanchil, who gives us the latest on the case of transgender teen Jane Doe.

Ariella Axelbank

  A la ronda, a new play opening this weekend at Wesleyan University, calls attention to Argentina's "Dirty War" and the human rights organization Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

During the so called "dirty war" of the late 70's and early 80's, tens of thousands of Argentineans were systematically abducted and killed, suspected of being an enemy of the military dictatorship.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Next Monday marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Next week in Woodbridge and Madison, there will be two screenings of the film "Nicky’s Family," a Czech documentary that tells the nearly-forgotten story of Sir Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who organized the rescue of 669 children just before start of World War II. 

Joachim Huber / Creative Commons

Official memorial services for late South African president Nelson Mandela will be held this week, in Soweto, in Pretoria, and in the remote village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province where he spent his childhood. But Mandela’s legacy will forever be linked to another remote destination: Robben Island, ten miles off the shores of Cape Town, where he served the majority of his 27 years in prison.

Remembering Mandela: "The People's Choice"

Dec 6, 2013
Megan Torrey

When I was a young teen in the '80s, I remember watching the news and learning about apartheid in South Africa. I remember learning about a powerful man who had been jailed simply for believing in equality and freedom, all watching the evening news, and seeing protests at Yale against apartheid. 

South Africa The Good News / Creative Commons

President Barack Obama reflected in a statement Thursday evening on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela. "We will not see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," he said. "It falls to us to carry forward the example that he set."

The United Nations elected 14 members to the Humans Rights Council on Tuesday, but some of the picks are seen as controversial.

On a busy street in Berlin's shabby-chic district of Kreuzberg, the gray and dirty pavement glistens with little brass cobblestones. Millions of these stones are embedded in sidewalks all over Europe. They commemorate the last address the city's Jewish residents called home before the war.

Say No--Unite / Creative Commons

The University of Connecticut held a day-long conference on Violence Against Women on Tuesday. The gathering came just a day after seven women filed a federal discrimination complaint against the school, claiming they were victims of sexual assaults while students at UConn.

Slavery is an accepted part of the history of the American South. But it was also practiced throughout the North.

Around the time of the American Revolution, Connecticut had more than 6,000 slaves, the most in New England.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Diane Orson of WNPR brings us the story of an 18th century Connecticut slave whose remains were recently laid to rest, more than 200 years after his death.

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was among several political prisoners released by Tehran on Wednesday, just days ahead of a visit by Iran's newly elected moderate president to the United Nations in New York.

Sotoudeh, who had been held since 2010, was one of eight women and three men released, according to the BBC. Reformist politician Mohsen Aminzadeh was also among the prisoners freed.

Nearly 30,000 refugees live in Connecticut today. They come from everywhere from Sudan to Cuba to Eritrea – and since the beginning of the Iraq war 10 years ago, more and more have come from there. Many resettle in New Haven with the help of a non-profit agency known as Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.  

Noor and Ben don’t want to reveal their real names. They still have family in Iraq they’re concerned about, and say the situation is very bad there. Here, they feel free. 

Working For Equality

Mar 20, 2013
susieqc3, Flickr Creative Commons

Women's rights pioneer Marcia Ann Gillespie was in state for Women’s Day at the capitol.  We talked to her about her rise to prominence as the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, and the fight for gender and racial equality.  

But first, Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity started out as a small grassroots organization... And next year will turn 25. It is building in eight different cities and towns in the region and completing its 200th home. Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  

 

Chion Wolf

Tuesday was Women's Policy Day at the State Capitol. 

The event, hosted by the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and five women's advocacy groups, highlighted public policy issues facing women this upcoming legislative session, and also served as a crash course on how to become an effective advocate for women's issues. Anna Doroghazi is public policy director for the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, one of the sponsors of the event:

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