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Return Guantánamo to the Cuban People

By Dr. CESAR CHELALA | CounterPunch | March 26, 2013

To restore good relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, damaged by several years of neglect, is one of many difficult tasks now facing the Obama administration. A measure that could have far-reaching consequences and notably improve the U.S.’ battered image in the continent would be to return Guantánamo to the Cuban people.

Guantánamo has a convoluted history. Initially, the U.S. government obtained a 99-year lease on the 45 square mile area beginning in 1903. The resulting Cuban-American Treaty established, among other things, that for the purposes of operating naval and coaling stations in Guantánamo, the U.S. had “complete jurisdiction and control” of the area. However, it was also recognized that the Republic of Cuba retained ultimate sovereignty.

In 1934, a new treaty reaffirmed most of the lease conditions, increased the lease payment to the equivalent of $3,085 in U.S. dollars per year, and made the lease permanent unless both governments agreed to end it or the U.S. decided to abandon the area.

In the confusion of the early days of the Cuban revolution, Castro’s government cashed the first check but left the remaining checks un-cashed. Since these checks were made out to the ‘Treasurer General of the Republic’, a position that ceased to exist after the revolution, they are technically invalid.

The U.S. has maintained that the cashing of the first check indicates acceptance of the lease conditions. However, at the time of the new treaty, the U.S. sent a fleet of warships to Cuba to strengthen its position. Thus, a counter argument is that the lease conditions were imposed on Cuba under duress and are rendered void under modern international law.

The U.S. has used the argument of Cuban sovereignty over Guantánamo when denying basic guarantees of the U.S. Constitution to the detainees at that facility by indicating that federal jurisdiction doesn’t apply to them. If the Cuban government indeed has sovereignty over Guantánamo, then its claims over the area are legally binding and the U.S. is obligated to return Guantánamo to Cuba.

Since 1959, the Cuban government has informed the U.S. government that it wants to terminate the lease on Guantánamo. The U.S. has consistently refused this request on the grounds that it requires agreement by both parties.

Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American lawyer and professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, has noted that article 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states, “A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.”

He also believes that the conditions under which the treaty was imposed on the Cuban National Assembly, particularly as a pre-condition to limited Cuban independence, left Cuba no other choice than to yield to pressure.

A treaty can also be void by virtue of material breach of its provisions, as indicated in article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. According to the original terms of the lease agreement, the Guantánamo Bay territory could only be used for coaling and naval purposes.

However, the use of the Guantánamo facility as an internment camp for Haitian and Cuban refugees — or, even more ominously, as a demonstrated torture center by the U.S. military — indicates a significant breach of that agreement, fully justifying its immediate termination.

President Jimmy Carter courageously returned the Panama Canal to the Panamanians, thus setting an important precedent in international relations. President Carter did what was legally right, and lifted U.S. prestige not only among Panamanians but throughout the hemisphere.

It can be said that the proposal of returning Guantánamo to Cuba is hopelessly naïve, since it would give an unnecessary boost to the Castro brothers. However, this would be balanced by a wave of goodwill and respect towards the U.S. throughout Latin America. In addition, returning Guantánamo to Cuba will allow the U.S. to close one of the most tragic chapters of its legal and moral history, and it will compensate Cubans for the miseries they have had to endure due to the U.S. embargo and the stubbornness of the Cuban leaders.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Return Guantánamo to the Cuban People

India insists on continuing Iran oil imports

Press TV – March 26, 2013

India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily has emphasized that his country will not halt imports of Iranian crude oil, rejecting recent Western news reports to the contrary.

While noting that unilateral anti-Iran sanctions by the US and the European Union have caused some difficulties for India in terms of insuring Iranian oil shipments, Moily told reporters in New Delhi that his country intends to establish a special fund for insuring oil imports originating from the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported on Tuesday.

The remarks by the Indian official came in response to the Western media reports on New Delhi’s decision to halt its Iranian oil purchases, which he strongly denied.

Meanwhile a deputy petroleum minister in India further reiterated that details of an insurance fund for Iranian oil shipments will be outlined in the near future, noting that the country’s national insurance companies, Oil India Development Board as well as major players in the nation’s oil industry will contribute funds to the insurance fund.

According to the report, Western media outlets, particularly Reuters have cited unnamed and unofficial sources in recent weeks who pointed to the possibility that India will soon halt its crude imports from Iran.

Indian officials, however, have insisted on continued oil imports from Iran while reiterating that they will not submit to the Western pressures on the issue, the report further adds.

India is among Asia’s major importers of energy, relying on the Islamic Republic to satisfy a portion of its energy requirements.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , | Comments Off on India insists on continuing Iran oil imports

BRICS plan new $50billion bank to rival World Bank and IMF

RT | March 26, 2013

The ‘big five’ of the developing world will discuss creating their own global World Bank as their 5th annual summit kicks off Tuesday in sunny Durban.

The move is linked to the developing world’s disillusionment with the status quo of world financial institutions. The World Bank and IMF continue to favor US and European presidents over BRICS nations, and in 2010, the US failed to ratify a 2010 agreement which would allow more IMF funds to be allocated to developing nations.

“Not long ago we discussed the formation of a developmental bank… Today we are ready to launch it,” South African President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

The ‘big five’- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and its newest addition, South Africa, will come together for the annual conference this year in Durban, South Africa in hopes of establishing a new development bank which will fund infrastructure and development projects in the five member states, and will pool foreign currencies to fend off any impending financial crisis.

“We will discuss ways to revive global growth and ensure macroeconomic stability, as well as mechanisms and measures to promote investment in infrastructure and sustainable development,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday, before heading to Durban.

The BRICS have called for a reconstruction of the World Bank and IMF, which were created in 1944, and want to put forth their own ‘Bretton Woods’ accord. And they are serious.

“Brics is not a talk show. It is a serious grouping,” Zuma told reporters at the presidential guest house in Pretoria.

The new bank will cater to developing world interests and will symbolize a great economic and political union.

“There’s a shift in power from the traditional to the emerging world. There is a lot of geo-political concern about this shift in the western world,” Martyn Davies, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Frontier Advisory, told Bloomberg.

“A future BRICS Investment Bank is seen as a mechanism that would help realize where money should go, agree development strategies and coordinate investment,” explained Georgy Toloraya, the executive director of Russia’s national committee for BRICS studies to SA News.

In its nebulous stage, the new BRICS bank is unanimously supported by all five member states. In Durban, problems will arise on how to govern, fund, and operate the grand venture.

“When you set up a bank like this it’s not just a question of opening the doors. There are some issues about where it is going to be located, what the capital contributions are going to be, the rules of deploying that investment. These are the sort of details that are in various stages of discussion and negotiation,” said South African Trade Minister Rob Davies, in a statement.

The leaders may not reach a specific agreement in Durban this week, as each country has its own stipulations on its creation. Russia, for example, wants to cap each side’s initial contribution to $10 billion, according to Mikhail Margelov, part of President Putin’s team in South Africa.

Emergency Currency Fund

Pooling currency to deflect a future crisis is also a high priority topic set for the conference.

Once a loose political affiliation, the BRICS bloc is now a serious economic contender in the world economy, representing 40 percent of the world’s population, and accounting for one fifth of global GDP.

Between the five countries, the bloc holds foreign-currency reserves of $4.4 trillion, and needs an institution to safeguard this amassing wealth. The reserve will also protect members from short-term liquidity volatility and balance-of-payment problems.

Presently, it is proposed the member states contribute an equal share to the fund, but there is still dispute over whether to involve IMF management. India has voiced support for IMF involvement, but other BRICS countries may resist.

“A reserve pool, I think, is still some way off, ” said Davies.

In October, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega suggested the pool be modeled after the Chiang Mai Initiative, which provides a financial safety blanket to south east Asian countries.

Trade within the group swelled to $282 billion last year and could very well reach $500 billion by 2015, according to Brazilian government data.
Many Firsts

The conference is a benchmark of many firsts. It is the first time the conference has been held on South African soil.

For China, it is President Xi’s first visit to South Africa, where China is a leading trading partner and investor. In 2012, the trade between the two countries was 201bln ZAR ($21bln), according to the South African Revenue Service.

The conference is also President Vladimir Putin’s first international visit in 2013.

For South Africa, which makes up just 2.5 percent of total gross domestic product in BRICS, the summit is a way to showcase its role as an investment gateway to Africa. South Africa is the newest and smallest member of the BRIC bloc. It has the 28th highest ranked GDP in the world: China is 2nd, Brazil 6th, Russia 9th and India 10th.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on BRICS plan new $50billion bank to rival World Bank and IMF

Maduro Counters Campaign to Discredit Venezuelan Electoral System

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | March 25th 2013

Mérida – The presidential candidate of the Bolivarian Revolution, Nicolas Maduro, yesterday counter-attacked the opposition’s campaign to discredit Venezuela’s electoral system ahead of the 14 April presidential election.

In recent days the Venezuelan opposition and allied media have been criticising the 14 April presidential election as not being held in “fair and transparent” conditions, in an apparent effort to discredit the Venezuelan electoral system ahead of the vote.

This campaign appears to have intensified following comments made on Friday 15 March by the US’s Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who said that it would be “a little difficult” for “open, fair, and transparent elections” to be held on 14 April.

The conservative opposition has also attempted to reach out to international opinion, with Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan diplomat, writing in the Huffington Post that Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is “no more than a tool of the regime [sic: Venezuelan government] to maintain its power”.

This discourse marks a break with the opposition’s more conciliatory approach toward Venezuela’s electoral system last year, when the opposition MUD coalition asked the CNE to organise the opposition’s own internal elections, calling the CNE “an excellent example of democratic institutions in the country”.

Polling evidence suggests that the opposition is likely to lose the April election, called after the death of President Hugo Chavez on 5 March. Four polls released by private Venezuelan firms in recent days have given Nicolas Maduro an advantage over the opposition’s candidate Henrique Capriles of between 14 and 22%.

Yesterday, Nicolas Maduro, who is currently interim president, hit back at the opposition’s campaign to discredit the CNE, claiming that it was a strategy being used in light of the opposition’s “clear defeat” on 14 April.

Maduro repeated the claims of other pro-government figures, stating that the “ultra-right wing” within the opposition is also considering the withdrawal of Capriles’ candidacy “as a way of fleeing and then crying out [to the international community]”.

He further argued that his rival Capriles is caught between the opposition’s radical wing, who want to withdraw from the race in order to discredit the election, and the “apparently democratic” wing that wants to maintain an electoral strategy.

The interim president said the Venezuelan electoral system, “guarantees the sovereign decision of the voters” and that the campaign to discredit the CNE “will not favour” the opposition.

Directly addressing the opposition, Maduro said, “If you stay [in the electoral race]; welcome. We’re headed towards a great triumph, that’s how I feel. If you go, not so welcome. We will [still] have a great victory and we’ll maintain the political stability of the country; of that you can be sure”.

The difference in opinion within the opposition toward the electoral system has also become apparent in recent comments made to media.

Hard-line opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado called the Venezuelan government a “neo-dictatorial regime” with a “democratic façade” in an interview yesterday with conservative paper El Universal. She further said the CNE was full of “tricks and irregularities”.

Meanwhile, the president of opposition party COPEI, Roberto Enríquez, said in an interview today that the opposition “recognises” the accuracy of the Venezuelan electoral system.

However, he added, “Elections in Venezuela, like in all democratic systems, are and have to be perfectible”.

UNASUR

Today the CNE signed an agreement with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) confirming that UNASUR will send an electoral accompaniment mission to Venezuela ahead of the 14 April election.

The mission’s aim, according to the head of UNASUR’s electoral council, Francisco Távara Córdova, is “to witness the electoral process within the framework of solidarity, cooperation and respect for sovereignty, with the aim of generating shared knowledge and experience in electoral matters”.

The mission’s head will likely be Argentine Carlos Alvarez, who led the UNASUR electoral mission to Venezuela for the October 2012 presidential election.

Several Venezuelan electoral NGO’s have also been invited by the CNE to observe the upcoming election.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Maduro Counters Campaign to Discredit Venezuelan Electoral System

Paraguay: Organisations Denounce Human Rights Abuses Before IACHR

By Kari Paul | The Argentina Independent | March 25, 2013
Thousands protest the impeachment of Fernando Lugo (photo courtesy of anticapitalistes.net)
Thousands protest the impeachment of Fernando Lugo

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS), held a hearing on the “general situation of human rights in Paraguay” in Washington, US, on Friday and various Paraguayan organisations brought grievances to address.

Among the most important issues presented were the Curuguaty Massacre of last June and the so-called ‘parliamentary coup’ against Fernando Lugo last year. The organisations demanded that the commission urge Paraguayan state investigation into the allegations of torture in the Curuguaty incident.

They also asked for clarification regarding the procedure for the seizure of lands belonging to the Cuyabia indigenous community. The same request was made on the continuous felling of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode Natural and Cultural Heritage Site.

The organisations alerted the Commission to the recent murders of three farming leaders. They also asked them to help get the threats against human rights advocates in the country under control.

The Commission received the complaints of the Human Rights Coordination of Paraguay, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women’s Rights, the Peace and Justice Coordination of Paraguay, and Rural and Indigenous Women Workers of Paraguay, among others.

Story courtesy of Agencia Púlsar, the AMARC-ALC news agency. (photo courtesy of anticapitalistes.net)

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Paraguay: Organisations Denounce Human Rights Abuses Before IACHR

Did the AP Catch State Department Officials Lying to Congress About Honduran Death Squads?

By Dan Beeton | CEPR Americas Blog | March 25, 2013

Associated Press reporters Alberto Arce and Katherine Corcoran have written a follow up article to Arce’s investigative feature last week on the continuation of death squad activity by the Honduran police. The new article, which appeared in the New York Times and various other media over the weekend, suggests that U.S. State Department officials may have deceived members of Congress in order to illegally fund Honduran police units even though some police – under the command of National Police Director General Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla – may be involved in death squads.

The article begins:

The U.S. State Department, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars a year on the Honduran National Police, has assured Congress that money only goes to specially vetted and trained units that don’t operate under the direct supervision of a police chief once accused of extrajudicial killings and “social cleansing.”

But The Associated Press has found that all police units are under the control of Director General Juan Carlos Bonilla, nicknamed the “Tiger,” who in 2002 was accused of three extrajudicial killings and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried on one killing and acquitted. The rest of the cases were never fully investigated.

Honduran law prohibits any police unit from operating outside the command of the director general, according to a top Honduran government security official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity. He said that is true in practice as well as on paper.

Celso Alvarado, a criminal law professor and consultant to the Honduran Commission for Security and Justice Sector Reform, said the same.

“Every police officer in Honduras, regardless of their specific functions, is under the hierarchy and obedience of the director general,” he said.

Congress has already withheld some funding ($30 million) to the Honduran police under the Leahy Law over concerns about Bonilla’s alleged past death squad involvement, but the State Department has continued with some other funding and just announced a new $16.3 million commitment to the Honduran police during a visit to Honduras by Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield last weekend. AP noted that “Some of the U.S. money will go to the Gang Resistance Education and Training program under the director of community policing, who also told the AP that he reports directly to Bonilla.”

As the AP article states, “U.S. support goes to Honduran forces working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on anti-narcotics operations, and anti-gang, anti-kidnapping and border-security units, according to an embassy official who was not authorized to speak on the record.” We have detailed how U.S.-assisted counternarcotics operations have involved the killings of civilians and what seems to be a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach by some Honduran forces in the past that led to the U.S. to temporarily suspend radar assistance to Honduran authorities.

Arce and Corcoran note that they tried to ask Brownfield questions regarding the police assistance when he was in Honduras, but Brownfield declined to answer.

The AP article includes additional statements from Honduran officials regarding the chain of command, which goes up to Bonilla:

When asked by AP if the specially vetted Honduran police units working with the U.S. Embassy still report to Bonilla, the Honduran security official said: “Yes, that’s how it works, because of personal loyalty and federal law.”

“I only report to the director general, all of the programs of the Honduran police are directed personally by him,” said Otoniel Castillo, a police sub-commissioner. “He has a personal and intense closeness to all projects of international cooperation, especially because of his good relationship with the U.S. Embassy.”

In the wake of the AP’s revelations, the big question is how will Congress react? While State Department officials are likely to claim plausible deniability or a different interpretation of Honduran law and how it relates to police supervision and accountability, State Department officials’ past responses to Congress indicate that human rights concerns may be less of a priority than they are for the members of Congress who have spoken out on this issue. The unwillingness of senior officials such as Brownfield to answer questions from reporters also does not signal credibility.

Arce and Corcoran noted that the State Department has not been forthcoming with information to Congress that would explain the discrepancy:

That information so far has not been provided by the State Department, and the AP’s findings have prompted more questions.

“Senator Leahy has asked the State Department to clarify how they differentiate between what they told the Congress and what is being said by those within Honduran police units under his authority,” Leahy aide Tim Rieser said Friday. “Sen. Leahy, like others, made clear early on his concerns about Gen. Bonilla and the conduct of the Honduran police.”

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Comments Off on Did the AP Catch State Department Officials Lying to Congress About Honduran Death Squads?

Guantanamo exposes reality of US fascism

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | March 26, 2013

They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe. That is the grim assessment of the legal representative for the inmates in the American concentration camp, otherwise known as Guantanamo Bay.

More than 11 years after this penal colony was opened on the American-occupied territory of Cuba, there remain some 166 prisoners who live in a nightmarish world of indefinite detention.

Hundreds of others have been ground through the machine, spewed out like human waste. Denial of human freedom is torture; denial of any sense of when that torture ends adds a whole new barbarous dimension of cruelty.

American vanity likes to indulge in berating other countries for human rights violations: Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are paraded in the American media as pariah states, accused of failing international legal standards. In the past, the Soviet Union and its system of gulags was a particular favourite feature for Americans to contrast their supposed freedoms. How the ‘high and mighty’ self-proclaimed moral titans now stand exposed as hypocrites, charlatans and low-life perverts.

Thanks to the suffering of prisoners at Guantanamo, the world is seeing some shocking home truths about the real nature of American government and its formerly grandiose pretensions. Without Guantanamo, the world may have been duped a little longer by the American art of deception. But not anymore. The American style of dictatorship has everything that the old Soviet system had, but with an added insidious trait – the American delusion of exceptionalism.

Think about it. In Guantanamo, they have been rendered from all over the world by their captors like so many wild animals, physically and mentally tortured, humiliated and defiled. Most of them are Muslim, coming from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the US has been waging its permanent charade ‘War on Terror’ since 2001.

Such is the cruel vindictiveness of their captor country that these men’s only freedom – to read their holy Korans in the solitude of their cells – has been denied to them. More. Their sacred beliefs have been stomped on. Not only have their captors incarcerated their bodies; their tormentors want to hunt down their victims’ inner-most thoughts. This is taking human barbarity to scientific levels of depravity where the human spirit is sought out to be murdered.

Ninety percent of the Guantanamo hostages – a more appropriate description than ‘inmate’ – have never been charged with any offence. They are being held merely on the basis of suspicion by an American government that has lost all credibility and moral bearing in the eyes of the world.

For nearly 50 days now, 26 of the men at Guantanamo have been on a hunger strike. It is the only freedom left to these men. To refuse the most basic means of subsistence. That length of time without food is pushing the human body into a fatal condition. The muscles have been eaten away now by the body’s own metabolism to survive against deprivation; at this stage, the last vital organ of the brain becomes internally digested.

‘These men have figured out that probably the only way for them to go home – cleared or not – is in a wooden box,’ said their American-military appointed defence lawyer, Lt Col Barry Wingard, in a recent interview with Russia Today.

Wingard, who has been granted only limited access to consult with the prisoners said that he was shocked by the ‘animal cage’ conditions of the men when he last saw them three weeks ago. ‘They will never get a trial based upon the evidence that is against them,’ adds Wingard.

Let’s recap. Hundreds of men – in all probability innocent of suspected wrongdoing – are held for up to 11 years without charge, tortured and denied proper legal support – all perpetrated by the government of the US that proclaims to be the world’s standard bearer of democratic and human rights and international law. This is the same government that has overseen the invasion and illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, murdering millions of innocents, in the name of establishing democracy and international law.

But don’t confuse. Guantanamo is not a vile contradiction of America’s lofty claims. It is in fact a microcosm of the reality of how truly barbaric the American government has become.

Five years ago, when Barack Obama was running for the US presidency, the closure of Guantanamo was a central promise. To the credit of the American people, they voted him into the White House in order to tear down this abomination of human rights and international law and all the associated torture that it represented under Bush and the neocons.

Into his second administration, Obama has reiterated that Guantanamo is here to stay. How is that for a brazen betrayal and snub to democratic demand of the people? Appropriately, Obama has outdone Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Co. The imperialist permanent war on the world is being stepped up and expanded to target Syria, Iran, China and Russia and whomever else dares to stand in the way of American hegemony. Obama’s wielding of secretive executive powers to execute any one, any time, any place in the world exceeds the fantasies of the Bush neocons.

The abomination that is Guantanamo is therefore an important moment of truth as to how far America has gone down the road to all-out fascism.

Ironically, it is men who have been deprived of everything even to the point of death who are exposing this powerful truth.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Guantanamo exposes reality of US fascism

Activists join Guantanamo hunger strike in week of fast

RT – March 25, 2013

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In a gesture of solidarity with Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who are continuing their month-long hunger strike, activists across the world have launched a week-long fast. The campaign will also include protest rallies and vigils.

The action, organized by the Guantanamo prisoners support group Witness Against Torture (WAT), began on Sunday and is to last through March 30. Some activists plan to continue fasting every Friday until the prison is closed, the group says.

The fast will be accompanied by public gatherings to protest against the existence of Guantanamo prison and the condition of people held there.

“We will gather for action in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities domestically and internationally next week to denounce the barbaric practice of torture and indefinite detention and to demand justice for the men at Guantanamo,” WAT says.

The activists also released a list of 166 names of Gitmo detainees, calling on supporters to flood the prison with letters of solidarity and remind the management “that the world has not forgotten the hunger strikers.”

Human rights advocate Andy Worthington believes demonstrations like the recent one are crucial for changing the situation in Guantanamo, stating inactivity “would be a victory” for those whose aim is to keep the prison open.

“Those of us working to close Guantanamo are up against powerful forces of indifference or hostility to our cause, despite the obvious justice of our position. People should not – must not – be put off by this indifference or hostility,” Andy Worthington  told RT.

WAT organized similar fasts of solidarity annually since 2010. The group itself was formed back in 2005 and has since been trying to make the US government close the notorious prison through vigils, marches, nonviolent direct action and other measures.

Lawyers of the detainees say more than a hundred of Guantanamo prisoners have been on a hunger strike since early February, with some putting their health at considerable risk. The protest was reportedly caused by mistreatment on the part of the guards, including searches, confiscation of personal items and desecration of Korans.

Guantanamo Bay management has been downplaying the scale of the protest, saying that it considers only a handful of detainees to be genuine hunger strikers.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | Comments Off on Activists join Guantanamo hunger strike in week of fast

Despite Talk of Drones, 3/4 of U.S. Missiles in Afghanistan are Fired by Piloted Airplanes

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | March 26, 2013

(photo: U.S. Air Force)

Apparently stung by mounting criticism of its remote control assassination program, the Obama administration early this month secretly reneged on an Air Force promise to “provide more detailed information on [drone operations] in Afghanistan” by failing to provide data on drone strikes for February. And in an Orwellian twist, the Air Force removed the previously released data on drone strikes from the reports for October 2012 to January 2013.

According to the data, the Air Force actually relies more heavily on piloted aircraft to conduct airstrikes, with drones responsible for only about one-quarter of missiles fired. The data shows that the Air Force conducted 1,366 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2009 and January 2013. Although casualty figures were omitted, it is known that the U.S. has killed between 3,049 and 4,376 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia during about 500 “covert” drone strikes, including at least 179 children—the equivalent of 9 Newtown child massacres.

Indeed, parents who have seen their children killed by U.S. bombs don’t care if the person who pushed the button that released the bomb was inside an airplane or in a control room thousands of miles away.

The “sanitized” reports without the drone strike data were created on February 22, just two days after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA Director over Paul’s concerns that the Obama administration believed it had the authority to use drone strikes inside the U.S. Joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Paul filibustered for almost 13 hours, finally getting a denial from Attorney General Eric Holder that this administration believes it has such authority.

Although the Defense Department released a statement claiming the data was removed to make the reports more accurate in light of the unsupported assertion that most drone operations do not include strikes, the Pentagon also took pains to state that it was not involved in the decision to hide the data. That can only mean that the decision came straight from the White House—almost certainly from President Obama himself, who, ironically, promised in 2008 to run the federal government in a more open and transparent manner.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Despite Talk of Drones, 3/4 of U.S. Missiles in Afghanistan are Fired by Piloted Airplanes

A new phase in the global war on Syria

Partitioning Syria at the Doha Summit (Excerpt)

By Ibrahim al-Amin | Al-Akhbar | March 25, 2013

The US-European-Gulf axis has succeeded in dragging the world into a new round of violence and anarchy, all in the name of taking Syria away from Bashar al-Assad.

Those behind this phase no longer care about their public face; they have revealed the true state of the Syrian opposition groups they sponsor. They have brought them totally under their control. So Moaz al-Khatib can protest and resign, Free Syrian Army fighters and officers can object, and opposition figures can complain as much as they like in the press or on TV. What matters is that in conjunction with this decision, the following must be done:

– Sponsorship of opposition forces from Turkey to be escalated. This seeks to impose new military and intelligence chiefs on the armed groups, providing them with new kinds of weapons, and bringing them more firmly under the control of the foreign capitals concerned. A central military objective has been defined: to fully occupy Aleppo as a prelude to proclaiming the new Syrian state in the north.

– The world presented with a fait accompli in the form of an “interim government.” This reflects the total submission of the Islamist opposition, be it Muslim Brotherhood or Salafi, to Gulf leadership, and the collusion of military commanders on the ground. The idea is for this body to be able to request foreign assistance in various forms.

– The Syrian government’s allies, whether in Iraq, Iran or Lebanon, are to be threatened by means of additional funding for civil conflicts that are liable to preoccupy them.

The conspiracy against Syria being hatched at the Doha summit is a massive gamble, as well as a historic crime. The Gulf sheikhs, in conjunction with Western and Arab capital, are launching a step-by-step process of partitioning Syria. – Full article

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A new phase in the global war on Syria