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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
In a landmark ruling in the U.K. that is sure to reverberate in the U.S. defense community, the British Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that families of British soldiers killed in Iraq can sue the U.K. government for negligence if the soldiers are believed to have lacked proper equipment and training.
Crucially, an argument from humans rights law sat at the crux of the case: The ruling established that the. human rights convention applies to soldiers serving on foreign battlefields. Article one of the European Convention for Human Rights requires that governments secure the rights and freedoms of “everyone within their jurisdiction” — that includes combatants, foreign civilians and — as this case affirmed — soldiers. The case followed on from an important 2011 ruling in the European Court of Human Rights, which found that the U.K. had a duty to investigate the killings of Iraqi civilians under British jurisdictions.
Wednesday’s ruling stemmed from three sets of claims arising from the deaths and injuries of several soldiers serving with British forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. “The widow of 35-year-old Stephen Allbutt, plus wounded soldiers Daniel Twiddy and Andrew Julien, brought claims over a ‘friendly fire’ incident in March 2003, when their tank was hit by another. They argued that the soldiers were not trained sufficiently and the tanks lacked the technology and equipment that would have prevented the incident,” the AFP reported.
Commenting in the Guardian, former lawyer and current BBC legal correspondent Joshu Rozenberg noted:
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had argued that Iraq was outside the jurisdiction of the U.K. government. But the human rights court haspreviously ruled that jurisdiction can exist whenever a state exercises authority and control over an individual.
In the light of that ruling, the supreme court overturned one of its own earlier decisions and previously ruled that the convention applied to members of the armed forces when they were serving outside the U.K.
This is an important advance in the law but one that can be seen as the logical extension of the duties on British service personnel abroad to respect both English law and international humanitarian law. If troops have duties, they should have rights.
Of course, the U.S. government is not beholden to European human rights law — in cases involving extraordinary rendition, for example, U.S. courts have acted at odds with ECHR rulings. And were a precedent set in the U.S. for the families of killed or injured troops in to sue the government over poor equipment or training, the defense department would be in trouble. Indeed, a secret Pentagon study found that up to 80 percent of the marines killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor.
The U.K. ruling, however, makes a firm point worthy of international consideration: When an invading government sets up a jurisdiction of military control, it has legal duty to uphold the rights of those within it as within its own national borders. Yet, in a world in which warfare is increasingly remote and carried out without jurisdictions using unmanned drones, it’s perhaps also worth noting that the U.K. court ruling may have more relevance to settlements over wars ending than the shape of war to come.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Natasha Lennard.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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