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by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:20 PM EST
European Nations May Investigate Bush Officials Over Prisoner Treatment - washingtonpost.com
BERLIN, April 21 -- European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.

Many European officials and civil liberties groups said they were disappointed by President Obama's opposition to trials of CIA interrogators who subjected terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other harsh tactics. They said the release last week of secret U.S. Justice Department memos authorizing the techniques will make it easier for foreign prosecutors to open probes if U.S. officials do not.

Some European countries, under a legal principle known as universal jurisdiction, have adopted laws giving themselves the authority to investigate torture, genocide and other human rights crimes anywhere in the world, even if their citizens are not involved. Although it is rare for prosecutors to win such cases, those targeted can face arrest if they travel abroad.


by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They need to look closer to home first to get any credibility. Every country in europe has got dirty hands over rendition. clean that mess u first before silly and pointless gestures over guantanamo

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | ANC's Zuma confident as country goes to the polls | France 24
South Africa goes to the polls today in an election that is all but certain to bring Jacob Zuma, head of the ruling ANC party, to victory. Zuma had corruption charges against him dropped just two weeks before the vote.

AFP - South Africans went to the polls Wednesday in general elections all but certain to propel the ruling ANC party's controversial leader Jacob Zuma to the presidency.
   
Lines formed early outside voting stations with a record more than 23 million South Africans registered to cast ballots.
   
"Most of the voting stations have opened. Where there are problems we are dealing with them," Independent Electoral Commission spokeswoman Kate Bapela told AFP.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:11:01 PM EST
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BBC NEWS | Africa | Huge turnout in South Africa poll

A huge turnout in South Africa's general election has left officials struggling with angry queues at polling stations and too few ballot papers.

By mid-afternoon, fears were emerging that ballot papers were running out in places and some ballot boxes were full.

But election officials say anyone in line when polls close will get to vote.

The election is expected to be the most competitive since the end of apartheid in 1994. The ruling ANC - led by Jacob Zuma - is expected to win.

But it could lose its two-thirds majority in parliament which allows it to change the constitution.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:14:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ANC cruises to victory - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source
The African National Congress (ANC) has slightly increased its lead over opposition parties in the national election and currently stands on 63,2% with three million votes counted.

The ruling party broke through the 60% ceiling early on Thursday morning and was set to achieve a two-thirds majority in the country's fourth democratic election.

At 8am the Democratic Alliance (DA) was in second place with 19,92% (584 822 votes) and the Congress of the People (Cope) third with 7,73% of the vote (226 755).

Smaller opposition parties were still lagging behind with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on 2,7%, the Independent Democrats (ID) on 1,7% and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on 1,2%.

Votes were still trickling into the national results centre in Pretoria and a voter turnout of more than 70% was expected. With 23-million South Africans registered to vote, this meant that almost 20% of votes had been counted by 8am.

The DA was still leading the closely watched race in the Western Cape with 53,8% (304 409 votes) against the ANC's 26,8% (151 847 votes).
by Nomad on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sadism Report - Moon of Alabama

Working through the quite detailed and long sadism and torture report Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody" (pdf) the most significant admission to me is the footnote 1219 on page 158:

Notwithstanding differences between the legal status of detainees held in Iraq and those in Afghanistan, the [Special Mission Unit Task Force] used the same interrogation approaches in both theaters. In addition, the [Combined Joint Task Force 7] interrogation policies included techniques that had been authorized for use at GTMO. By September 2003, interrogation approaches initially authorized for a war in which the President had determined that the protections of the Geneva Conventions did not apply, would be authorized for all U.S. forces in Iraq.

Abu Ghraib was not an accident but official policy promoted from the very top and many people knew that.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:17:52 PM EST
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I bought a bargain basement trio of action/sci-fi films for brainless entertainment over the Easter holidays.  We watched the last one tonight-Independence Day.

What's stuck in my mind now is the image of the Will Smith character dragging, verbally abusing and taking out his frustrations on by kicking, his alien captive.  What's more, it's meant to be funny, and, since I don't remember it from the first time round, maybe back in 1997 I laughed along with everybody else.

I feel a bit sick now. We are the stories we tell ourselves.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 06:17:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. Back then in 1997, I felt sick about the film just based on the trailers. I saw it only a few years ago on TV, and I want those two hours back.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In all these alien invasion sci-fis, I can't get over the following idiocies:

  1. Why would an alien race with super-duper techologies need anything from humans?

  2. Why would these aliens be biologically similar to us?

  3. Why would these biologically similar aliens consider humans the main problem, rather than bacteria and viruses? (THat applies even to Welles's War of Worlds: why would they not know this danger in advance?...)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:08:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alien Invasion sci-fi is a sublimation of fear of human invasion by the enemy du jour.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a potential peace-maker...

(Exhibit A: Reagan & Gorbi; Exhibit B: from what I read on Wiki, the cartoon original of the IMO excellent Watchmen movie.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Things like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and alien abduction in general (especially when abductees are subjected to mind-control or brainwashing, usuall through neural implants) is a sublimation of fear of foreign infiltration.

It is not a coincidence that these genres have their heyday at the peak of cold-war paranoia in the US in the 1950's.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:46:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, many if not most sentient beings and societies in SF are a sublimation of some humans or societies as we (resp. the writer) know them here and now. While some of that is superb, I am not fond of the idea of SF as a mere analogy. That would make it an exercise in collective autism.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, the question is whether (and how) Soviet-bloc science fiction themes from the cold war differ from American ones.

Anglo-American post-apocalyptic sci-fi (peaking in the 60's) has to do with the fear of nuclear war, but often this is expressed in stories about mass mortality from disease or ecological failure.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 07:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is too early for it to be up on YouTube, but Keith Olberman had an interview with Janis Karpinski, the retired U.S. Army Brigadier General in charge of Abu Ghraib.  The general generally excoriated Rumsfield, Cheney and Bush for allowing the scapegoating of the "bad apples" under her command, some of whom are now doing time, when it is now public knowledge that they were operating under orders to employ newly designed "enhanced interrogation techniques" which were developed at the direction of and delivered by representatives of the  very top echelons of the Bush Administration, including Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfield.  In effect, she asked, if these techniques were so important to national security why did not these worthies stand up and say that these soldiers were following their orders.

Rachel Maddow then "disambiguates" the origin of those orders and their purpose by citing the now vastly more complete public record to show that the new techniques were developed from US military training procedures designed to familiarize pilots and others likely to be captured with techniques to which they might be subjected.  She noted that these techniques were understood to have been used by the Chinese Communist regime to obtain false confessions for propaganda purposes and the purpose of exposing U.S. servicemen to them was to enable them better to resist them and "return home with honor."

She notes that the urgency to deploy these techniques peaked before there were any prisoners on whom to use them, that the FBI, who had an excellent record of getting cooperation from and convictions of prisoners such as those involved in the '94 bombing of the World Trade Center had objected to and withdrawn from all of these interrogations, and makes a clear case that they were employed deliberately and specifically to create  false confessions corroborating the Bush Administration's justifications for preemptive war in Iraq.

Karpinski: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677#30356123

The Maddow segment, (the first segment) is not up yet.  The link is to the interview on Tuesday with Phillip Zelikow, a former State Department Attorney, who wrote a memo explaining why the use of the new techniques was a bad idea.  The Bush Administration attemped to retrieve and destroy all copies.

Maddow:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#30335366

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 11:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:44:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AP:
Rice OK'd CIA waterboard request

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to OK use of the simulated drowning technique.

The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The narrative also shows that dissenting legal views about the severe interrogation methods were brushed aside repeatedly.
...

We all remember how Dr Rice bristled at the suggestion that US had lost its high moral ground. Now we have proof of her hypocrisy. Is it the start of unravelling of Bush administration misdeeds or just damage control exercise to absolve Bush and Cheney?

by FarEasterner on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:39:20 AM EST
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Israel Puts Iran Issue Ahead of Palestinians - washingtonpost.com

JERUSALEM -- The new Israeli government will not move ahead on the core issues of peace talks with the Palestinians until it sees progress in U.S. efforts to stop Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon and limit Tehran's rising influence in the region, according to top government officials familiar with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's developing policy on the issue.

"It's a crucial condition if we want to move forward," said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, a member of the Israeli parliament and former ambassador to the United States. "If we want to have a real political process with the Palestinians, then you can't have the Iranians undermining and sabotaging."

The emerging Israeli position, a significant change from that of previous governments, presents a challenge for President Obama, who has made quick progress on Palestinian statehood a key foreign policy goal. Obama is also trying to begin engagement with Iran as part of a broad effort to slow its nuclear program and curtail its growing strength in the Middle East.

U.S. officials are wary of linking the two issues and, if anything, would like to do the reverse of what Israel has proposed, by using progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks to curb Iranian influence, which is wielded in the region through anti-Israeli organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

"We have to be pretty careful how you approach that kind of connection," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "We are dealing with Iran because there are behaviors out there that are deeply troubling. We would be doing that regardless of other issues. By the same token, the Palestinian issue is an issue that obviously evokes a great deal in the region."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Puts Iran Issue Ahead"? What a silly spin from the WaPo. It's more like making up excuses, excuses -- and the Palestinian issue is clearly ahead.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:10:32 AM EST
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I'm  not sure who's being silly here - in this case WaPo or Israel. A posture like that would be consistent with their nutcasery.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:40:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran Officially Welcomes Nuclear Talks - NYTimes.com

TEHRAN --Iran announced officially on Wednesday that it welcomed talks over its nuclear program, and said that it was ready to offer a proposal to resolve the dispute over its uranium enrichment activities, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last week in a speech that Iran would take part in the talks. Wednesday's statement appeared to be an official response to an April 8 invitation by six major powers, including the United States, for a meeting to find a diplomatic solution.

The statement also said that Iran would continue its ongoing nuclear work in "active collaboration" with the United Nations nuclear agency and in the framework of the main international treaty that aims to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and promote peaceful uses of nuclear power.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its nuclear activities in an active collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the framework of the N.P.T., along with other member nations," it said, referring to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hillary Clinton warns of 'existential threat' in Pakistan - Los Angeles Times
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned in unusually bleak terms Wednesday that Pakistan's fragile government is facing an "existential threat" from Islamic militants who are now operating within a few hours of the capital.

...

Clinton spoke as militants expanded into new territory adjacent to the Swat Valley and 60 miles from Islamabad, and top U.S. officials continue to make regular visits to Pakistan. Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting now. A special U.S. envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, was there this month.

Clinton's comments to the House Foreign Affairs Committee underscored increasing U.S. alarm at how the militants' strength has grown even as the Obama administration has begun trying to implement a new strategy for stabilizing the country. U.S. officials are worried not only about the stability of Pakistan, but also about neighboring Afghanistan, where they are committing an extra 21,000 troops this year to try to stanch the advances of the Taliban and allied insurgents.



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:50:36 AM EST
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