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11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE:
Obama's Torture HypocrisyOriginally published on June 29, 2009
President Barack Obama just announced that the U.S. government "must stand against torture wherever it takes place," but it’s clear that his pledge does not apply to torture committed by officials from the Bush administration.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obama quietly released a statement on Friday in which he said, “My administration is committed to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims.”
Obama's statement left out his decision to “look forward, not backward” on the issue of Bush-era torture or how he has discouraged any investigation of former President George W. Bush, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials involved in sanctioning and practicing torture, brutal tactics that human groups claim killed at least 100 prisoners in U.S. custody
Instead, in his statement, Obama simply declared that “today, we join the international community in reaffirming unequivocally the principles behind that Convention, including the core principle that torture is never justified.”
The 1984 Convention Against Torture was approved by 145 nations, including the United States which signed it in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. He hailed the treaty as "a significant step" in preventing torture, "an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today."
The Convention declares that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
Moreover, the Convention says individuals who resort to torture cannot defend their actions by saying they were acting on orders from superiors and it mandates that torturers be prosecuted wherever they are found. According to that provision, "each state party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."
In a May 20, 1988, message to the U.S. Senate, Reagan noted, "the core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called 'universal jurisdiction.'"
Evading the Treaty
It was this Convention, ratified by the Senate in 1994, that Bush administration officials sought to bypass with legal memos, many drafted by John Yoo of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
Obama’s declaration on Friday comes at a time when the international community has become acutely aware of the policy of torture implemented by the Bush administration – and of Obama’s resistance to any type of comprehensive investigation whether it be by a congressional committee, a blue-ribbon commission or the Justice Department.
It’s also clear that the United States is guilty of many of the offenses that the U.S. government has in the past accused “rogue regimes” of committing, such as hiding torture victims from human rights monitors. For example, under the Bush administration, the military routinely hid prisoners in U.S. custody from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In a Jan. 2, 2004, memo drafted for military police and interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and signed by Col. Marc Warren, the top legal adviser to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was entitled “New plan to restrict Red Cross access to Abu Ghraib.” The contents of that memo have never been released.
In 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that at the request of then-CIA Director George Tenet, he authorized the U.S. military in the fall of 2003 to hide an Iraqi prisoner from the ICRC and other organizations that monitor the treatment of prisoners.
Rumsfeld told reporters at a June 17, 2004, press briefing that Tenet sent him a letter asking the U.S. military to imprison the Iraqi who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish terrorist group suspected of links to al-Qaeda. Tenet further told Rumsfeld to be sure the detainee was kept off the prisoner rolls, which he was for six months.
"We were asked not to immediately register the individual, and we did that," Rumsfeld told reporters at the time.
Documents obtained by the Senate Armed Services Committee go even further. Minutes of an Oct. 2, 2002, meeting at which Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, then the chief military lawyer at Guantanamo whose responsibilities included working with the ICRC, discussed concealing abusive interrogation tactics when ICRC officials visited.
Jonathan Fredman, who was the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, noted that the "the CIA is not held to the same rules as the military" when it comes to using aggressive techniques to interrogate detainees.
Beaver interjected: "We will need documentation to protect us."
Taking office in January, Obama announced that his administration would not condone or practice torture, but he also opposed holding Bush administration officials accountable out of fear that his actions might be deemed vindictive. He has held to that position although Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA Director Leon Panetta both agreed that the near-drowning experience of waterboarding was torture.
Bush’s Justice Department lawyers also approved a list of other torture techniques to be used against so-called “high-value” prisoners, including beatings, sleep deprivation for 11 consecutive days, placing insects inside a confinement box to induce fear, exposing detainees to extreme heat and cold, and shackling prisoners to the ceilings of their prison cells or in other painful “stress positions.”
Under the Convention Against Torture, the clear record that the Bush administration used waterboarding and other brutal techniques should have triggered the United States to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute the offenders. If the United States refused, other nations would be obligated to act under the principle of universality.
Instead, Obama’s high-minded declaration on Friday substituted words for action.
Jason Leopold has launched his own Web site, The Public Record, at www.pubrecord.org.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on June 22, 2009.