Tom Malinowski on our Hardest Global Rights Questions

Tom Malinowski has been keeping a critical eye on the Obama administration’s human rights policies: that’s his job as Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. However, he remains sensitive to the challenges of steering the unwieldy ship that is the Federal Government towards a more noble foreign policy—after all, he served in the Clinton administration State Department just over a decade ago.

Malinowski visited Big Think recently, both to grade Obama on his performance so far in a wide range of human rights issues, and to take a broader view of human rights in the 20th century.

Malinowski is most passionate about torture; he tells Big Think that it is never acceptable, even in theoretical exercises, and calls on us all to be human rights advocates. Saddam Hussein and Hitler, Malinowski argues, began their reigns as local human rights violators; if the world addressed those problems from the start, we could have avoided wars with much higher costs.

Despite his hard line on torture, Malinowski is sensitive to the difficulties of interacting with important economic powers, such as China, that also violate human rights. He gives Big Think a workable solution to the problem, explaining how to find issues that require direct action, how to keep America’s moral authority, how to maintain a hard-line stance on human rights while continuing to conduct economic diplomacy, and how to utilize technology to get around oppressive government roadblocks.

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less