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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]
07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]
07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]
07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]
07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]
07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]
07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]
07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn
07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]
06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]
07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]
07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]
07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]
07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]
07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]
07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]
07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
International & Futurism
07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]
07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]
07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]
07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]
07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]
THE UN’S VIEWPOINT:
New UN Report Denounces America's Human Rights Record
Monday, 15 June 2009
The UN Human Rights Council called America's human rights record "deplorable," and in need of major changes. It deserves credit for revealing what US authorities try hard to suppress and ignore.
On May 26, the UN Human Rights Council issued a report titled "Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development - Report of the Special Rapporteur (Philip Alston) on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions."
Alston was damning in his criticism regarding "three areas in which significant improvement is necessary if the US Government is to match its actions to its stated commitment to human rights and the rule of law:"
Overall, "there have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct that (cause) alleged unlawful killings - including possible war crimes - in the United States' international operations." Effective investigations have been lacking and guilty parties, throughout the chain of command, haven't been punished. Even worse, private contractors and civilian intelligence personnel have been granted "a zone of impunity" because of failures to hold them accountable. Alston recommends a national "commission of inquiry" and a special prosecutor to conduct thorough investigations "independent of the pressure on the political branches of Government."
In June 2008, Alston spent two week in America meeting with federal and state officials, judges and civil society groups, as well as victims and witnesses in five US cities. As a signatory to international human rights laws, including the four Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Convention against Torture, the US is bound by their provisions and required to hold its civilians and military personnel accountable when they violate them.
The federal government, 35 states, and US military impose death penalties, often executing innocent people for failing to assure proper due process and fairness. Alston addressed the federal death penalty and its application in Texas and Alabama, the former for its largest number of US executions, the latter for having the nation's highest per capita rate of them.
Yet since 1973, 130 death row inmates nationwide were exonerated, and their numbers keep growing. Since 1977, 13 in Illinois were also declared innocent and freed, a state where governor George Ryan took unprecedented steps:
Ever since, well over 1100 executions took place and three times that number await them on death row. Far too often they're innocent victims of injustice, people of color, poor, and unable to effectively deal with a hostile prosecutorial system, at least because:
The result is a deeply flawed criminal justice system affecting victims, their families, and communities when real criminals remain at large. Yet government officials are often indifferent to the problem, at both state and federal levels. Alston recommends changes:
Unfortunately, Alston doesn't challenge the death penalty but believes federal and state laws should only impose it for the "most serious crimes." However, who's to decide and on what basis.
He also says foreign nationals denied the right to consular notification were unfairly treated and should be provided review and reconsideration.
Texas, Alabama, and other states "have partisan elections for judges." However, "as research and practice show," this system "jeopardizes the right of capital defendants to a fair trial and appeal." Also, there's a direct correlation between public support for the death penalty and decisions made to impose it. "There is no such correlation in non-elective states." State officials told Alston that getting re-elected depends on supporting the death penalty and imposing it from the bench - even at times by overriding jury decisions for life in prison.
Right to Counsel
The right is fundamental but not applied if counsel quality is poor, as so often is the case when court-appointed or low-income defendants can't afford better representation. State funding to provide it is inadequate, and one Texas official told Alston that defense counsel competency in the state is "abysmal." Major reforms are needed to repair a broken system, in Texas and nationwide.
Persons of color in America are most vulnerable to receive death sentences in capital cases - especially if victims are white. Yet federal and state officials are indifferent to the problem or deny one exists. When confronted with evidence from various studies, they claim they were conducted by anti-death penalty advocates and dismiss the results. It's never been a good time to be poor, black, or Latino in America, especially when confronted by a hostile criminal justice system claiming to be impartial.
Systematic Evaluation of the Criminal Justice System
Far too little is done at the state or federal levels to ensure wrongful death penalties aren't imposed. Their frequency demands serious redress - firm measures to halt injustices this grave.
Federal Habeas Corpus Review
Habeas suits can be filed in federal courts to challenge death penalty convictions, but not easily. The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) denies them on many grounds, imposes a six-month statute of limitation for filing, and restricts access to federal evidentiary hearings. Other problems also exist that limit defendants' rights even when wrongfully convicted - such as emphasizing "finality" over the right of due process and fairness. Serious reform measures are needed to redress this.
Most Serious Crimes
The definition is vague and applies to an intention to kill resulting in the loss of life as determined by a judge and jury. However, capital punishment may be imposed for crimes like running large illegal drug operations according to the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act. Other crimes as well, including treason, terrorism, rape, kidnapping, and in the military for desertion or mutiny.
America is party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). It grants foreign nationals the right to contact their consulates for help, but too often they're prevented from doing it - in Texas, for example, where the state legislature failed to authorize its courts to provide this review. At the federal level as well by Congress not doing it. Alston says VCCR is "a bedrock principle of international law" affecting not just foreign nationals on death row in US states, but "equally to any American who travels to another country." It's up to Congress to fix this.
Deaths in Immigration Detention
In June 2008, the federal government acknowledged at least 74 immigrant detention deaths since 2003. Newspaper reports suggest far higher numbers. They result from various causes, including denying medical care, poor quality or delayed care, and "inappropriate medication." Overall, the treatment of immigrants in detention is deplorable with little attention paid to basic needs along with abusive treatment by authorities.
Killings by Law Enforcement Officials
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) compiles data covering homicides (usually by other inmates but also by guards), suicides, "arrest-related killings," and other judicially related deaths.
Statistics on resulting prosecutions and convictions aren't available, but it's "clear that (their) number....is small...." It means serious offenses are committed against numerous people trapped in the criminal justice system that too often affords little of it to the most vulnerable.
International Operations - The Death Penalty Under the Military Commissions Act
From the time of their arrest and internment, Guantanamo detainees were denied any measure of due process and fairness. Five are charged with capital offenses under the Military Commissions Act (MCA), and others also may face the death penalty under this travesty of a law. Although Obama ordered a stay of Commission proceedings to decide on procedures to follow, he left open the likelihood that prosecutions will proceed under MCA provisions, and if done, they'll violate US obligations under international humanitarian law.
MCA "utterly fail(s) to meet basic due process standards." Several of its most egregious flaws include:
"The MCA's provisions constitute a gross infringement on the right to a fair trial and it would violate international law to execute someone under this statute."
Detainee Deaths at Guantanamo
Full knowledge of detainee deaths isn't known, including their number and causes. Alston cites five reported, four called suicides, the other attributed to cancer. Custodial powers are required "to ensure and respect the right to life." As such, they bear responsibility for detainee deaths and are obligated to investigate and publicly report their findings and whatever evidence supports them. So far, DOD has stonewalled all efforts to comply, except to release redacted autopsy and other internal investigation reports.
Lack of Transparency Regarding Civilian Casualties
DOD officials told Alston that it doesn't compile data on Afghan or Iraqi civilian casualties because body counts don't relate to the effectiveness or legality of military operations. Yet doing it is important to judge if America is serious about avoiding them altogether and keeping them to a minimum when they happen. No evidence suggests that's so.
Credible reports indicate that private security and other contractors engage in indiscriminate and otherwise questionable force against civilians, causing numerous casualties that may number in the thousands. Little of this gets reported and transparency overall is lacking. "The most comprehensive study to date found that few firms ever report shooting incidents, that such incidents are often misreported, and that SIRs (serious incident reports) that are filed are almost uniformly cursory and uninformative." As a result, private contractors get away with murder because no authority holds them accountable.
Civilian Intelligence Agencies
What's true for contractors, applies to the CIA as well with credible reports of at least five custodial deaths from torture or other means. Claimed investigations were conducted. CIA involvement was never confirmed or denied. Its Inspector General told Alston that cases involving possible unlawful killings are classified, and no one so far has been prosecuted nor will they as Obama ruled out the possibility.
Transparency and Accountability for Unlawful Killings and Custodial Deaths
Failure to assure transparency and "effective investigations into, and meaningful prosecution of, wrongful deaths means the (US) Government cannot fulfill its obligation to ensure accountability for violations of the right to life."
Military Justice System Failures
In Afghanistan, Alston witnessed a lack of transparency first hand and the Government's unwillingness to be held accountable for illegal conduct. Most often investigations are quashed or inadequately done. Moreover, they're never against senior officers, and light sentences are administered to the few convicted. America fails in its "legal obligation to effectively punish violations (or observe) the rule of law," as vital in war as in peace.
One study "of almost 100 detainee deaths in US custody between August 2002 and February 2006 found that investigations were fundamentally flawed." They also violated the military's own regulations for investigations, and resulted in "impunity and a lack of transparency into the policies and practices that may have contributed to the deaths."
Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr.'s sentencing is typical of others. After being convicted of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty for the death of Iraqi Major General Abedd Hamed Mowhoush, he was confined to base for two months, fined $6000, and reprimanded by letter. Welshofer's "sentence is not an anomaly."
Notable in all cases is that "command responsibility," the recognized basis for criminal liability since WW II, is absent from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and US War Crimes Act. It means commanders go unprosecuted and accountability is undermined.
Civilian Justice System Failures
"For far too long, there has been a zone of de facto impunity for killings by private contractors (PCs) and civilian intelligence agents operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere." It's not for lack of an applicable legal framework. It's because "US prosecutors have failed to use the laws on the books to investigate and prosecute PCs and civilian agents for wrongful deaths," some of which occur from torture, abuse as well as willful homicides.
The DOJ has prosecutorial authority over PCs, civilian government employees, and former military personnel suspected of war crimes under two of its operations:
Both fall way short, and DSS representatives acknowledged the lack of convictions but withheld information on allegations received, investigations undertaken, or their status. "The lamentable bottom line is that DOJ has brought a scant few cases against PCs for civilian casualties, achieved a conviction only in one case involving a CIA contractor, and brought no cases against CIA employees....this vacuum is neither legally nor ethically defensible."
Ensuring Transparency and Accountability
It's only possible through the "will to enforce the rule of law," yet Alston's conclusion is that outcome is highly unlikely. "In short, war crimes prosecutions in particular are 'politically radioactive' " and won't happen. However, there are other steps the government can take to increase transparency and accountability:
In both cases, fundamental requirements require independence, impartiality, competence, and the power to obtain all sought information. Adequate funding is also essential and the right to publicly report findings and recommendations.
"The most credible response to the military justice system's investigative failure and sentencing distortions would be the creation of a Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) position" - much like in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK "to ensure greater separation between the chain of command and the prosecution function."
The DOJ should also establish a special office solely to investigate and prosecute cases involving PCs, civilian government employees, and former military personnel.
Reparations for Civilian Casualties
International law mandates that compensation for human rights violations be paid, and in some instances to families it has been. But it's much too little for the families of too few victims.
The Foreign Claims Act requires payment of legal claims arising from negligent or wrongful deaths caused by military personnel outside of combat. Other programs also exist, including the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) for "condolence payments" and in Afghanistan authorization of "solatia payments."
However, these are ad hoc efforts, and the "lack of systematic compensation for civilian casualties caused by private contractors is acute." As their employer, the government bears ultimate responsibility but shuns it.
Targeted Killings: Lack of Transparency Regarding the Legal Framework and Targeting Choices
Credible evidence shows America engages in targeted killings on the territory of other states, and senior officials admit using drones for this purpose. Yet when queried, answers are evasive, not forthcoming, and disturbing justifications are given that violate the letter and spirit of international law.
Recommendations - For Domestic Issues
The Military Commissions Act violates international laws and shouldn't be used for capital case prosecutions. Ones conducted should assure due process according to international human rights and humanitarian law requirements.
In summary, Alston called America's human rights record "deplorable," and in need of major changes. In response, the Obama administration charged him with violating his mandate by accusing the US of failing to properly investigate allegations of unlawful US military killings in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Acting deputy at the US mission in Geneva, Larry Richter, said: "We do not believe that military and intelligence operations during armed conflict fall within the special rapporteur's mandate." Much more important is his lack of power to act on the crimes he discovered. Still he deserves credit for revealing what US authorities try hard to suppress and ignore.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on June 15, 2009.
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