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By Andy Worthington | www.AndyWorthington.co.UK
Andy Worthington wrote: "If the Obama administration and Congress are determined to prove that they can revive discredited Bush-era policies with just a little spin, I think it's crucial that as many people as possible are at least aware of the depth of this colossal mistake."
On Wednesday, I reported how Retired Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, the former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy from 1997 to 2000, had delivered compelling testimony to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “legal issues regarding military commissions and the trial of detainees for violations of the law of war,” explaining why the only valid forum for trials of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay is the US federal court system.
The lucidity and directness of Hutson’s testimony was in marked contrast to the amendments to the existing Military Commission system — and terrifying asides about the use of “preventive detention” — that were proposed by Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s General Counsel, and David Kris, the Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in response to legislation already prepared by the Committee, which, it seems, will be presented to the Senate in the imminent future, even though it still allows (subject to certain restrictions) the use of information — I hesitate to use the word “evidence” — obtained through coercion, and other information that is nothing more than hearsay.
The day after Hutson delivered his testimony, the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on “Legal Issues Surrounding the Military Commissions System,” in which Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld of the US Reserves, a former prosecutor in the Military Commissions, delivered what should, I believe, be the final word on the unsuitability of Military Commissions as a valid trial system (PDF).
Vandeveld, who served in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan before volunteering for Guantánamo, and who has been decorated on several occasions, sent shockwaves through the Commission system under the Bush administration, when he spectacularly resigned last September, declaring, “I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.” He added that the “incomplete or unreliable” discovery process “deprive[s] the accused of basic due process and subject[s] the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct.”
The particular trigger for the dissatisfaction that led him to tell the Committee about “the mistaken proposals to revise and revive the irretrievably flawed military commissions at Guantánamo Bay,” and that turned him from, as he described it, a “true believer to someone who felt truly deceived,” was the incompetence and obstruction he encountered as he tried to build a case against Mohamed Jawad, an Afghan prisoner accused of throwing a grenade that injured two US soldiers and an Afghan translator in December 2002, and it was this journey to the “dark side” that he reprised for the Committee on Wednesday to such devastating effect.
On May 28, 66 delegates, organized by CODEPINK, gathered at the Pension Roma hotel in Cairo, Egypt where we prepared for a long trip across the Sinai into Gaza, Palestine.
There were delegates from 10 countries and 18 U.S. states.
This was my first trip to Gaza, but for others, like former Col. Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin, it was their third trip since the December 2008/January 2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza.
When I heard the focus of this trip to Gaza was about the children and to set up playgrounds in the parks and to bring them sports equipment and toys, I signed on. According to Ann Wright, who inspired me to join the delegation, simple crayons for art were not permitted into Gaza due to the Israeli siege. The playgrounds would offer the children a time-out from the daily reminders of the war and let them know they have not been forgotten.
On May 29 we headed for Al-Arish, just 26 miles from the Egyptian border where we stayed for the night. The next morning we arrived at the border hoping we would be lucky enough to cross into Gaza that day. Another Canadian delegation, after a two-day wait at the border, finally made it across, however, another group (I believe all doctors) was denied entrance for two weeks. They finally went on a hunger strike as a means of protest.
To our amazement, CODEPINK was permitted to cross into Gaza almost immediately. Upon our arrival to the Rafah terminal, we were greeted by several photographers, cameramen and the UN Relief And Works Agency. There, we were followed by UN security to their facility, where the UN director, John Ging, gave his welcoming speech. Read more.
On Saturday June 13, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Mustafa Al Kahlout of Al-Nasser Pediatric Hospital. The hospital director, Dr. Anwar El-Sheikh Khalil was not on the grounds the day I was there. Dr. Al Kahlout graciously gave me his time to answer my questions and to let me understand the situation for sick children in Gaza.
Al-Nasser takes all referrals from the whole of the Gaza Strip, north to south. They have 174 beds, 3 General Departments – 25-30 beds each, 1 Pediatric ICU unit – 6 beds, 1 Neo-natal ICU unit – 25 beds and an Emergency department that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Right now the hospital is only running at half capacity due to lack of supplies.
Dr. Al Kahlout told me they are lacking medicines, equipment, including specialized equipment and doctors.
They have general pediatricians but they have no specialists to head up the various units. Their doctors can’t travel to conferences and they can’t send doctors for training, neither can they get specialists in because of the Israeli-imposed border closures.
When sick children come in, the doctors want to do diagnostic tests to determine what disease the child is suffering with but they don’t have the proper equipment and supplies to do so. They do have some diagnostic equipment but are unable to bring in reagents to operate the machines, so their high tech equipment is useless.
As a result, children must be dealt with symptomatically, which isn’t always enough. Children are dying because of the closure. Gaza has doctors and they have hospitals, but they can’t do their job because Israel doesn’t allow the flow of personnel and supplies. Not even blood samples can get out for testing and testing supplies can’t get in. Read more.
Liberals say that the United States is once again a “nation of moral ideals”, but behind the façade little has changed. With his government of warmongers, Wall Street cronies and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, Barack Obama is merely upholding the myths of a divine America...Credible polls have long confirmed that more than two-thirds of Americans hold progressive views. A majority want the government to care for those who cannot care for themselves. They would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone. They want complete nuclear disarmament; 72 per cent want the US to end its colonial wars; and so on. They are informed, subversive, even “anti-American”.
The monsoon had woven thick skeins of mist over the central highlands of Vietnam. I was a young war correspondent, bivouacked in the village of Tuylon with a unit of US marines whose orders were to win hearts and minds. “We are here not to kill,” said the sergeant, “we are here to impart the American Way of Liberty as stated in the Pacification Handbook. This is designed to win the hearts and minds of folks, as stated on page 86.”
Page 86 was headed WHAM. The sergeant’s unit was called a combined action company, which meant, he explained, “we attack these folks on Mondays and we win their hearts and minds on Tuesdays”. He was joking, though not quite. Standing in a jeep on the edge of a paddy, he had announced through a loudhailer: “Come on out, everybody. We got rice and candy and toothbrushes to give you.”
Silence. Not a shadow moved.
“Now listen, either you gooks come on out from wherever you are, or we’re going to come right in there and get you!”Read more.
Less than a week after a Free Gaza ship carrying humanitarian aid was seized by the Israelis before it could reach Gaza, a group of US citizens is in Egypt awaiting permission to enter the Gaza Strip with more aid.
At least 100 US activists, said to be carrying $1 million worth of medical supplies for the suffering Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing since Sunday, waiting for the Zionist regime to grant them permission to enter the besieged territory. Read more. Note: Please use the blue title link above to get to the article.
Cemetery Workers Made $300K in Gravedigging Scheme
Authorities: 4 former workers at historic Ill. cemetery made $300K in gravedigging scheme
By Don Babwin, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews.com
Four former employees accused of digging up bodies and reselling plots at a historic black cemetery near Chicago made about $300,000 in a scheme believed to have stretched back at least four years, authorities said Friday.
Three gravediggers and a manager at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip are accused of unearthing hundreds of corpses and either dumping some in a weeded, desolate area near the cemetery or double-stacking others in graves. The cemetery is the burial place of civil rights-era lynching victim Emmett Till and blues singers Willie Dixon and Dinah Washington.
While Till's grave site was not disturbed, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said investigators found his original iconic glass-topped casket rusting in a shack at the cemetery.Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
If this were the democracy that the Founding Fathers thought they were creating, word from CIA Director Leon Panetta that his agency had lied to Congress and specifically that it had lied repeatedly from 9-11-2001 through the end of 2008 concerning an as-yet undisclosed secret program, would have virtually every member of Congress in a state of rebellion, demanding answers.
After all, the CIA is required by law to report to at least the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and to the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress about such things.
But not only did the spy agency not report on what it was up to; it lied about what it was up to.
America is at a turning point. How we will come to terms with the government abuses unleashed in the aftermath of 9/11 is a historic test of our highest principles. Are we a nation of laws? Will we stand by our commitment to the rule of law over the tyranny of state-sanctioned brutality?
Maryland's particularly powerful congressional delegation in Washington can be pivotal as the nation chooses how to proceed. And, of course, members of Congress will more likely rise to the occasion if they hear from the public they represent.
Ongoing revelations of the United States' interrogation, indefinite detention and rendition practices provide growing, indisputable evidence that the United States tortured its detainees in violation of our laws, our Constitution, and the U.S.-ratified Convention Against Torture. Restoring the rule of law means mounting an independent, neutral investigation and prosecution of criminal wrongdoing. It also means effective congressional oversight and checks on abuses of executive power. Our democracy endures because through the decades we have been willing to publicly examine our misdeeds, acknowledge our wrongdoing and hold ourselves accountable. Read more.
The Mexican army has carried out forced disappearances, acts of torture and illegal raids in pursuit of drug traffickers, according to documents and interviews with victims, their families, political leaders and human rights monitors.
From the violent border cities where drugs are brought into the United States to the remote highland regions where poppies and marijuana are harvested, residents and human rights groups describe an increasingly brutal war in which the government, led by the army, is using harsh measures to battle the cartels that continue to terrorize much of the country.
In Puerto Las Ollas, a mountain village of 50 people in the southern state of Guerrero, residents recounted how soldiers seeking information last month stuck needles under the fingernails of a disabled 37-year-old farmer, jabbed a knife into the back of his 13-year-old nephew, fired on a pastor, and stole food, milk, clothing and medication.
In Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, two dozen policemen who were arrested on drug charges in March alleged that, to extract confessions, soldiers beat them, held plastic bags over their heads until some lost consciousness, strapped their feet to a ceiling while dunking their heads in water and applied electric shocks, according to court documents, letters and interviews with their relatives and defense lawyers. Read more.
WAR BY OTHER MEANS
By Robert C. Koehler | Tribune Media Services
While peace, which is infinitely complex, and war, which is complex only in its unintended results, are not parallel concepts, I invite all peace-minded people to think about the gap between our capacity to destroy and our capacity to heal, and then imagine, as a socio-spiritual exercise, what it would take to bridge that gap.
We live in a world where arrogance and power are concentrated to an unbelievably fine point, while responsibility is diffused into a global mist. A few fanatics can plot and wage a war, stirring up consequences infinitely beyond what they are capable of imagining, then retire, when things go bad, into a luxury tinged with disgrace.
Meanwhile, the consequences keep reverberating, as we are witnessing in Iraq right now, amid the charade of troop withdrawal and power transfer. The threat of cataclysmic civil war looms, promising to add immeasurably to the legacy of suffering and environmental damage this multi-trillion-dollar fiasco has already produced.
Allow me to make a point I don’t think anyone has yet articulated, maybe because it’s too obvious. What we lack as a species is a moral-spiritual force for healing that is the equivalent – or even one one-millionth the equivalent – of shock and awe bombing, let us say, or any of the great mechanisms of destruction we have developed over the millennia in our obsession with dominance. Indeed, warmongers in their delusion imagine that destruction is healing, that a few thousand civilian dead (who swell to a million before they’re done) are a small price to pay for the gift of democracy.
While peace, which is infinitely complex, and war, which is complex only in its unintended results, are not parallel concepts, I invite all peace-minded people to think about the gap between our capacity to destroy and our capacity to heal, and then imagine, as a socio-spiritual exercise, what it would take to bridge that gap.
Right after the June 12 elections in Iran, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy issued a statement expressing our strong support for the masses of Iranians protesting electoral fraud and our horror at the ferocious response of the government. Our statement concluded: "We express our deep concern for their well-being in the face of brutal repression and our fervent wishes for the strengthening and deepening of the movement for justice and democracy in Iran." Since the elections, some on the left, and others as well, have questioned the legitimacy of and the need for solidarity with the anti-Ahmadinejad movement. The Campaign's position of solidarity with the Iranian protesters has not changed, but we think those questions need to be squarely addressed.
Below are the questions we take up. Questions three, four and five deal with the issue of electoral fraud; readers who are not interested in this rather technical discussion are invited to go on to question six. And we should say at the outset that our support for the protest movement is not determined by the technicalities of electoral manipulation, as important as they are. What is decisive is that huge masses of Iranians are convinced that the election was rigged and that they went into the streets, at great personal risk, to demand democracy and an end to theocratic repression. The full Q and A, including the answers, is on the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website.
Was the June 12, 2009 election fair?
Isn't it true that the Guardian Council is indirectly elected by the Iranian people?
Was there fraud, and was it on a scale to alter the outcome?
Didn't a poll conducted by U.S.-based organizations conclude that Ahmadinejad won the election?
Didn't Ahmadinejad get lots of votes from conservative religious Iranians among the rural population and the urban poor? Might not these votes have been enough to overwhelm his opponents?
Hasn't the U.S. (and Israel) been interfering in Iran and promoting regime change, including by means of supporting all sorts of "pro-democracy" groups?
- Has the Western media been biased against the Iranian government?
- Is Mousavi a leftist? A neoliberal? What is the relation between Mousavi and the demonstrators in the streets?
Is Ahmadinejad good for world anti-imperialism?
Is Ahmadinejad more progressive than his opponents in terms of social and economic policy? Is he a champion of the Iranian poor?
What do we want the U.S. government to do about the current situation in Iran?
What should we do about the current situation in Iran?
Is it right to advocate a different form of government in Iran?
Israeli forces held detainees in ditches where "50 to 70 people were squeezed into ditches two to three meters (6.5-10 feet) deep and some 50 meters (164 feet) wide," the Arab-Israeli lawyer later told reporters.
Being held blindfolded and handcuffed in a painful way are part of the Shin Bet interrogations which also included physical and verbal abuse, constant threats on the detainees and their families and sleep deprivation, he said.
An Israeli human rights activist says detainees were held with no access to food, water or restrooms and subjected to violent interrogations during the Gaza war. Read more.
In light of the fact that the Obama administration has not publicly repudiate the state torture policies established by John Yoo and the Bush administration there is continual civil unrest on the issue of torture and censorship in the USA.
The Obama administration's torture policy can be interpreted as very similar to the Bush administration in that within the guidelines of national security US torture policy currently severely limits international law under US foreign policy and removes freedoms such as habeas corpus to suspected terrorists, and prisoners of war.
These are frightening aspects of the neo-liberalist corporate globalization, and the police state in which it serves.
On May 23, 2004 The New York Times Magazine's main topic was by Susan Sontag, and the article regarded the then released photographs of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, where she notes Rumsfeld's aversion to using the terminology "torture", and simply citing the incident as "abuse," and "humiliation."
"Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word "genocide" while some 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered, over a few weeks' time, by their Hutu neighbors 10 years ago that indicated the American government had no intention of doing anything. To refuse to call what took place in Abu Ghraib - and what has taken place elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay - by its true name, torture, is as outrageous as the refusal to call the Rwandan genocid a genocid. Here is one of the definitions of torture contained in a convention to which the United States is a signatory:
"any act by which sever pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a thrid person information or a confession." Read more.
Combat is the best, my brother, as the famous bumper sticker reads. It's a good thing we have Shayetet 13. Operating at the crack of dawn - or was it before nightfall? - the daring naval commandos fearlessly took control of a rusty, rickety, unarmed boat bobbing in the middle of the sea. That's exactly why we have a naval commando force - to take control of ships offering humanitarian aid. Behold, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. The military correspondents reported on the incident with an amazement that only they can muster. But even they could not provide a fig leaf for the operation: The Israel Defense Forces has once again used its power to overcome the weak; the navy has once again acted like pirates. The Arion was abducted in the framework of protecting Israel's security for all eternity, blah, blah, blah.
Soldiers, journalists and news consumers automatically refrain from asking questions. The navy captured another ship carrying symbolic aid, as if its passengers were Somali pirates. These were people of conscience from various countries carrying toys and medicine.
This was not the navy's first daring operation of this kind, nor will it be the last. When there are no hostile aid ships on the horizon, the navy takes control of wretched Gazan boats, using water hoses or firing at its passengers - poor fishermen who only want to make a living at sea. This is the main activity unfolding off Gaza's shores. A navy outfitted with the best arsenal in the world is hunting surfboards. One of the best-armed forces in the world is chasing children, examining old people's documents and entering bedrooms to make arrests.
We ought to pay close attention to what preoccupies our military. While defense officials hold discussions on buying the F-35 combat jet at $200 million per plane, the IDF is mostly busy with miserable, pointless police work that befits an occupation army. It is engaged in ludicrous and useless policing in a "war" against people equipped with some of the most primitive weapons in the world. Read more.
Note: Read Larry Pinkney's complete remarks here.
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney returned home today after 6 days being held by the government of Israel while attempting with 21 colleagues to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza on the vessel, the Spirit of Humanity.
“Don’t sign Miss Cynthia don’t sign!” So chanted a boisterous group of Palestinian teens and pre-teens in Beirut’s Shatila Refugee Camp demonstrating support for the Freegaza Humanity boat abductees on the 4th of July.
The students understood that those illegally arrested while in International waters had been offered a “get out of Jail Free” pass if they confessed in writing to violating Israel’s territorial waters.
The Spirit of Humanity boat, trying to bring emergency humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, was the topic of a lively discussion during a Sabra Shatila Foundation summer school civics lesson on “International law and the Question of Palestine”. The students were interested in the plight of some of their relatives and countryman in Palestine and the continuing siege of Gaza. Some had just finished their Baccalaureate exams and were wondering how they could continue their education given the severe impediments the government of Lebanon places on Palestinian civil rights, and their post exam relief seemed to energize them for the discussion.
A couple of the students had met Cynthia during her recent visits to Lebanon. When they learned that as a Congresswoman, she had introduced articles of impeachment against Bush, was a consistent anti-war voter during her twelve years in Congress, and that no member in Congress had achieved a more consistent, principled, voting record of issues of civil and human rights, including Palestinian rights, they really connected with the subject of the Freegaza aid boat, the Spirit of Humanity and her travails. “Those supporters of Palestine should not accept a false confession and should stay in Jail if necessary. They are patriots” was a commonly expressed sentiment.
The students understood that in refusing to sign the Israeli government prepared “acknowledgement/confession” the Freegaza group acted consistent with International Law. They learned that territorial waters, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is a belt of coastal waters extending at most twelve nautical miles from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state. The territorial sea is regarded as the sovereign territory of the state, although foreign ships (both military and civilian) are allowed innocent passage through it. They learned from media reports that in any case the Humanity was in International waters and that consequently Israel had no right to molest it. Read more.
Will What We Don't Know (or Care to Know) Hurt Us? Mourning Michael Jackson, Ignoring the Afghan Dead
It was a blast. I'm talking about my daughter's wedding. You don't often see a child of yours quite that happy. I'm no party animal, but I danced my 64-year-old legs off. And I can't claim that, as I walked my daughter to the ceremony, or ate, or talked with friends, or simply sat back and watched the young and energetic enjoy themselves, I thought about those Afghan wedding celebrations where the "blast" isn't metaphorical, where the bride, the groom, the partygoers in the midst of revelry die.
In the two weeks since, however, that's been on my mind -- or rather the lack of interest our world shows in dead civilians from a distant imperial war -- and all because of a passage I stumbled upon in a striking article by journalist Anand Gopal. In "Uprooting an Afghan Village" in the June issue of the Progressive magazine, he writes about Garloch, an Afghan village he visited in the eastern province of Laghman. After destructive American raids, Gopal tells us, many of its desperate inhabitants simply packed up and left for exile in Afghan or Pakistani refugee camps.
One early dawn in August 2008, writes Gopal, American helicopters first descended on Garloch for a six-hour raid:
"The Americans claim there were gunshots as they left. The villagers deny it. Regardless, American bombers swooped by the village just after the soldiers left and dropped a payload on one house. It belonged to Haiji Qadir, a pole-thin, wizened old man who was hosting more than forty relatives for a wedding party. The bomb split the house in two, killing sixteen, including twelve from Qadir's family, and wounding scores more... The malek [chief] went to the province's governor and delivered a stern warning: protect our villagers or we will turn against the Americans."
Binyam Mohamed launches legal fight to stop US destroying torture images
British resident says photographs are evidence of abuse at Guantánamo
Richard Norton-Taylor | Guardian.co.UK
Former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed has launched an urgent legal attempt to prevent the US courts from destroying crucial evidence that he says proves he was abused while being held at the detention camp, the Guardian has learned. The evidence is said to consist of a photograph of Mohamed, a British resident, taken after he was severely beaten by guards at the US navy base in Cuba.
The image, now held by the Pentagon, had been put on his cell door, he says.
Mohamed claims he was told later that this was done because he had been beaten so badly that it was difficult for the guards to identify him.
In a sworn statement seen by the Guardian, Mohamed has appealed to the federal district court in Washington not to destroy the photograph, which neither he nor his lawyers have a copy of, and which is classified under US law.
The US government considered the case closed once Mohamed was released and returned to Britain in February. The photograph will be destroyed within 30 days of his case being dismissed by the American courts – a decision on which is due to be taken by a judge imminently, Clive Stafford Smith, Mohamed's British lawyer and director of Reprieve, the legal charity, said today .
Under US law, evidence relating to dismissed cases must be automatically destroyed. The only way to preserve the photograph is to have it accepted as a court document. Read more.
Bioweapons, Dangerous Vaccines, and Threats of a Global Pandemic
By Stephen Lendman
Although international law prohibits the use of chemical and bacteriological weapons, America has had an active biological warfare program since at least the 1940s. In 1941, it began secret developmental efforts using controversial testing methods. During WW II, mustard gas was tested on about 4000 servicemen. Biological weapons research was also conducted. Human subjects were used as guinea pigs in various other experiments, and numerous illegal practices continued to the present, including secretly releasing toxic biological agents in US cities to test the effects of germ warfare.
"Privacy Act" Used to Deflect Questions About Former US Congressional Rep.'s Status, As Well As Other FreeGaza21 Humanitarians??
"Privacy Act" Used to Deflect Questions About Former US Representative's Status, Other FreeGaza21 Status
Let's just pretend that you're held by a foreign government.
Here is, according to the US State Department, what our spokesperson claims:
We can’t comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board because of Privacy Act concern. Our Embassy has been in touch with the Israeli authorities. We have been told that the boat was stopped in Israeli waters and is being escorted to an Israeli port, or may have already gone to an Israeli port. We understand passengers are safe and all accounted for. We’re seeking consular access to the American citizens who are on board. And we don’t take any position regarding the Free Gaza Movement or any of its messages.
Oh, I see, "privacy" trumps reality. Never mind US citizenship, let alone more than a decade of service to the nation in Congress.
Nonetheless, former GA Rep. Cynthia McKinney is homeward bound.
The Yes Men, co-directors of the new award-winning documentary film The Yes Men Fix the World, have decided to withdraw their film from the Jerusalem International Film Festival, in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign:
Dear Friends at the Jerusalem Film Festival,
We regret to say that we have taken the hard decision to withdraw our film, "The Yes Men Fix the World," from the Jerusalem Film Festival in solidarity with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
This decision does not come easily, as we realize that the festival opposes the policies of the State of Israel, and we have no wish to punish
progressives who deplore the state-sponsored violence committed in their name.
This decision does not come easily, as we feel a strong affinity with many people in Israel, sharing with them our Jewish roots, as well as the trauma of the Holocaust, in which both our grandfathers died. Andy lived in Jerusalem for a year long ago, can still get by in Hebrew, and counts several friends there. And Mike has always wanted to connect with the roots of his culture.
Obama Must Strongly and Unequivocally Condemn the Coup in Honduras
By Roberto Lovato | AlterNet
Viewed from a distance, the streets of Honduras look, smell and sound like those of Iran: Expressions of popular anger- burning vehicles, large marches and calls for justice in a non-English language - aimed at a constitutional violation of the people's will (the coup took place on the eve of a poll of voters asking if the President's term should be extended); protests repressed by a small, but powerful elite backed by military force; those holding power trying to cut off communications in and out of the country.
These and other similarities between the political situation in Iran and the situation in Honduras, where military and economic and political elites ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya in a military coup condemned around the world, are obvious.
But when viewed from the closer physical (Miami is just 800 miles from Honduras) and historical proximity of the United States, the differences between Iran and Honduras are marked and clear in important ways: the M-16's pointing at this very moment at the thousands of peaceful protesters are paid for with U.S. tax dollars and still carry a "Made in America" label; the military airplane in which they kidnapped and exiled President Zelaya was purchased with the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid the Honduran government has been the benefactor of since the Cold War military build-up that began in 1980's; the leader of the coup, General Romeo Vasquez, and many other military leaders repressing the populace received "counterinsurgency" training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the infamous "School of the Americas," responsible for training those who perpetrated the greatest atrocities in the Americas.
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) joins with the international community in denunciation of the military coup in Honduras.
We join with all who call for an immediate end to the violence and repression against the people of Honduras who are resisting. We express our solidarity with the Honduran trade unions and all democratic forces waging a heroic defense of democracy against the military coup.
We call on the U.S. government - the White House, State Department and Members of Congress - to denounce unambiguously the coup and call for the immediate return of the democratically elected President of Honduras, withhold recognition of the coup leaders, and cut all military aid until democracy is restored. We urge all to contact their Member of Congress, the U.S. State Department and White House to convey this message.
The first coup d’etat in Central America in more than a quarter-century occurred last Sunday in Honduras. Honduran soldiers roused democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from his bed and flew him into exile in Costa Rica. The coup, led by the Honduran Gen. Romeo Vasquez, has been condemned by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the Organization of American States and all of Honduras’ immediate national neighbors. Mass protests have erupted on the streets of Honduras, with reports that elements in the military loyal to Zelaya are rebelling against the coup.
The United States has a long history of domination in the hemisphere. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can chart a new course, away from the dark days of military dictatorship, repression and murder. Obama indicated such a direction when he spoke in April at the Summit of the Americas: “[A]t times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations.”
Two who know well the history of dictated U.S. terms are Dr. Juan Almendares, a medical doctor and award-winning human rights activist in Honduras, and the American clergyman Father Roy Bourgeois, a priest who for years has fought to close the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga. Both men link the coup in Honduras to the SOA.
The SOA, renamed in 2000 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), is the U.S. military facility that trains Latin American soldiers. The SOA has trained more than 60,000 soldiers, many of whom have returned home and committed human rights abuses, torture, extrajudicial execution and massacres. Read more.
Please join me in solidarity with the people of Honduras to determine their own future.
I urge all to support the citizens of Honduras in their demand that President Manuel Zelaya be restored immediately to his constitutionally elected post and authority as President of Honduras. It is imperative that citizens across the United States write and call upon President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to quickly execute every available influence to ensure that President Zelaya is safely returned to his post.
Your voices are urgently needed to encourage our government to exercise its influence to ensure that the Ambassadors of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua who have been violently kidnapped are not harmed and are immediately safely returned.
Editor's Note: At nearly 80, United Farmworkers Union co-founder Dolores Huerta personifies the phrase she coined, “Sí se puede!” which President Obama borrowed and translated as “Yes, we can!” New America Media editor Khalil Abdullah interviewed Huerta, who was honored as an extraordinary older woman at the AARP Diversity Conference in Chicago.
Dolores Huerta will be forever linked with Cesar Chavez and Philip Vera Cruz as a co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) in the 1960s. As director of a grape workers strike and a national boycott against grape growers for the meager wages afforded their workers, Huerta was instrumental in orchestrating efforts that led to a major victory for the UFW and the labor movement.
Huerta, who left the union several years ago to found the Dolores Huerta Foundation in Bakersfield, Calif., proudly announced at the AARP Diversity Conference in Chicago, “Next year I will be 80.” She was honored at the conference as one of the nation’s extraordinary older women.
The energetic Huerta dedicated her foundation to supporting efforts in community organizing. She told the 600 attendees that one former organizer – President Barack Obama – told her, “I stole your slogan.” In English, Huerta’s phrase, “Sí se puede!” which galvanized the farmworkers movement, translates as “Yes, we can!”
In an interview, Huerta noted, “I still work with farmers and we teach the importance of the unions, but I wanted to include other activities as well.” She has become a frank critic of America’s failure to value elders and calls for new strategies to bind generations together.
“I think the elderly have a lot to contribute to society, and the way to do it is to have seniors incorporated into the community” rather than promoting programs that “shut them off in a corner.” She encourages communities to devise ways to tap the knowledge and wisdom older adults have to offer.Read more.
by Linda Milazzo
This morning I received the following letter from President Barack Obama:
Our emergency international delegation to Honduras, organized from the United States by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Non-Violence International, began its fact-finding mission in the wake of the June 28 coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
We started out with a briefing by the Network of Sustainable Development (Red de Desarrollo Sostenible, a 15-year-old organization devoted to the exchange of information about sustainable development. It has now become a center for exchanging information about the coup. Using blogspot, facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr and youtube, the Network's network is abuzz with hour-by-hour accounts of political developments. Their communication system has become a critical way for Honduras to get information, since the coup leaders have muzzled the press.
The Network has a history of being objective and staying above politics, but the staff is outraged by the coup. "This was just over the top," said National Coordinator Raquel Isaura, who is being targeted by the right for some anti-coup internet messages posted under her name. "A military coup in this day and age must be condemned by all sectors of civil society." Read more.
The Lingering Effects of Torture
After Guantanamo, Scientists and Advocates Study Detainees
By Devin Powell | Inside Science News Service via ABCNews | Link features ABC's Jake Tapper's first video interview with Algerian Lakhdar Boumediene.
Like many of the other inmates interrogated at Guantanamo Bay, Adeel's personal nightmare did not end when he returned home.
Today, in his native Pakistan, the sound of approaching footsteps or the sight of someone in a uniform can trigger bad memories and set off a panic attack. The former teacher and father of five now thinks of himself as a suspicious and lonely person.
"I feel like I am in a big prison and still in isolation. I have lost all my life," he told psychologists working for the non-profit Physicians for Human Rights. They diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.
Newly emerging research on large numbers of torture survivors shows that anecdotal stories like these are common and suggests that "psychological" forms of torture -- often thought to be milder than the direct infliction of physical pain -- can in fact have serious long-term mental health consequences.
Adeel's story is similar to those of other prisoners who may be released this year as President Obama pushes to close the facility. Adeel spent four years in U.S. custody, first at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo -- and was freed in 2006, never having been charged with a crime. Read More
Denounce the Human Rights Abuses in Honduras | Press Release
WASHINGTON - June 30 - The situation in Honduras turned violent when over 10,000 people gathered in the streets to protest the coup Monday evening. Using tear gas, high-powered water and guns (it is still not clear whether soldiers were armed with rubber bullets or otherwise) many people were wounded and there has been one confirmed death in the capital, Tegucigalpa. In the capital, pro-coup marches are occurring, defended by the police and national guard. As of Tuesday morning, the resistance movement to the coup is gathering in Tegucigalpa, to determine how and where to take to the streets. Therefore, there is anticipation of violence today, as soldiers are expected to react violently today to protesters as they did yesterday.