Saturday, February 18, 2006
[from the March 6, 2006 issue]
The budget is an annual statement of national priorities and in even-numbered years also serves as a campaign platform for the party in power. This President's new spending priorities are grotesque--a cruel distortion of what matters to Americans--and riddled with deceptions. For the campaign, however, Bush's slogan is surprisingly frank: "Cut the butter, give us more guns." Terror is his theme, as usual. But instead of pretending, as he has in the past, that the war will be painless on the home front, Bush now asks people to choose between their fears and their hopes. That's a far riskier gamble, and one he just might lose.
Bush's budget is littered with phony claims and fanciful projections, but it does clearly frame a potentially decisive debate: Do Americans acquiesce to the "long war" envisioned by Pentagon planners? Or will Congress at last choke on the folly and open-ended costs of this new cold war? Bush is determined to convert America into a permanent war economy. If we reject his priorities we can perhaps turn back a national disaster before it's too late.
While Bush slashes or freezes domestic programs like healthcare and education, his Pentagon budget increases by 7 percent, to $439 billion, 45 percent greater than when he took office five years ago. And the $439 billion is only part of the increased largesse for the military-security complex; another $33 billion goes to the ill-managed homeland security agencies. That still doesn't count the war itself--another $70 billion or more.
Meanwhile, belt-tightening applies only at home--141 domestic programs either killed or cut. Education loses $2.1 billion, from student loans to vocational training. Healthcare takes a substantial hit, which means hospitals and nursing homes lose Medicare financing or communities lose disease prevention. Agriculture gets less for conservation. Federal home-heating aid ignores rising oil prices. The number of hungry Americans, rising at about 10 percent a year, is now 38 million, but Bush takes a whack at food assistance too. ...........
Republican Sues Bush, Cheney, NSA, TSA for Illegal Surveillance, Wiretapping
By Alan Gray, NewsBlaze
Scott Tooley, a Republican, and former Congressional aide and law school graduate, educated at renowned Christian universities, has filed suit against the President, Vice President and relevant federal agencies for their illegal surveillance programs.
According to the complaint, the Bush-Cheney Administration initiated numerous illegal and perpetual surveillance methods on Mr. Tooley and his family after he was incorrectly placed on the TSA's "selectee" or watch list.
Mr. Tooley's case is unique because the suit alleges the Bush Administration has used additional illegal surveillance methods on him in addition to the illegal wiretapping. Mr. Tooley is also the first Republican to file suit with regard to the Bush Administration's surveillance programs..............
Friday, February 17, 2006
Lawmakers urges White House to review Arab port takeover
Critics contend deal could affect national security
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. lawmakers formally asked the Bush administration Thursday to reconsider its approval of a sale giving a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.
The lawmakers, including four senators and three House members, sharply criticized the UAE as inconsistent in its support of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
They also said the country was a key transfer point for shipments of nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya and was one of only three nations that had recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.
"Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. "The administration needs to take another look at this deal."
The Bush administration defended its approval of the sale. A spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Frederick Jones, said Thursday that security implications of the deal were "rigorously reviewed.".........
Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted
DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture. The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
By William Lobdell, Times Staff Writer
From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago."We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people," said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. "It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God."
A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.............
.....The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions. The God-fearing Nephites were "pure" (the word was officially changed from "white" in 1981) and "delightsome." The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the "curse of blackness," turning their skin dark.According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors "the principal ancestors of the American Indians." If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white............
they 'PUNISH' a people by renaming some pastry? yeah, that will teach 'em! i'll bet their shakin' in their chef's clogs right now
Iran renames Danish pastries
Thursday 16 February 2006 5:33 PM GMT
Iranians love Danish pastries, but now when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they have to ask for Roses of the Prophet Muhammad.
Bakeries across the capital Tehran on Thursday were covering up the name-plates for Danish pastries after the confectioners union ordered the name change in retaliation for cartoons of Islam's revered prophet first published in a Danish newspaper.
"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to Rose of Mohammad pastries," the union said in its order.
Ahmad Mahmoudi, a cake-shop owner in northern Tehran, said: "This is a punishment for those who started misusing freedom of expression to insult the sanctities of Islam."
or THIS could certainly happen to ME
Canadian sent to Syrian jail has US suit dismissed
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Canadian citizen who was arrested by U.S. authorities at a New York airport and sent to Syria for interrogation as a suspected member of al Qaeda.
Syrian-born Maher Arar claimed in the lawsuit that he was tortured during a 13-day detention at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and during his 10 months in a Syrian jail in 2002 and 2003. He was released in 2003 and the United States did not file any criminal charges against him...........
Thursday, February 16, 2006
British Clinic Is Allowed to Deny Medicine
By SARAH LYALL
LONDON, Feb. 15 — When her local health service refused to treat her breast cancer with the drug Herceptin, 54-year-old Ann Marie Rogers sued. But on Wednesday, a High Court judge ruled against her.
In his decision the judge, David Bean, said that although he sympathized with Ms. Rogers's predicament, the health service in Swindon, where she lives, had been justified in withholding the drug.
"The question for me is whether Swindon's policy is irrational and thus unlawful," Justice Bean wrote. "I cannot say it is."
The ruling has potentially serious implications for patients across the taxpayer-financed National Health Service.
Despite health officials' contention that decisions about treatment are based solely on clinical effectiveness, critics contend that with drugs growing ever more expensive, cost has become an increasingly important factor. They also say patients are at the mercy of the so-called postcode lottery, in which treatments are available in some postal zones but not others.
"This drug could save the lives of 1,000 women a year," Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the lobbying group Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said of Herceptin. "It is unfair and cruel for women like Ann Marie Rogers to know that it is money and their postcode that stands between them and this potentially life-saving treatment."
Herceptin, made by Roche, is currently licensed for use in late-stage breast cancer. Although some studies have shown that it is also effective in treating HER-2 early-stage breast cancer, it has not yet been licensed for such use. If it does receive a license, the drug will be appraised for potential countrywide use..........
(mmmmmmmmm i'd be interested to see if there were drugs which were prescribed to a mostly male population denied too)
The Vice President also revealed that he had a beer at a picnic held earlier in the day at the ranch, at least four to five hours before the shooting...................
(a little bit a little too late, no?????????)
....................In the name of "fighting terror" are we to sacrifice every freedom to a President's demand? How far are we to go? Can a President order warrantless house-by-house searches of a neighborhood, where he suspects a terrorist may be hiding? Can he impose new restrictions on what can be printed, broadcast, or even uttered privately, because of some perceived threat to national security? Laughable thoughts? I think not. For this Administration has so traumatized the people of this nation -- and many in the Congress -- that some will swallow whole whatever rubbish that is spewed from this White House, as long as it is in some tenuous way connected to the so-called war on terror................
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
from the christian science monitor Afghan Parliament debates chaperones for women
A recent trip by two women parliamentarians without their husbands has offended some.
By Scott Baldauf Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - When Afghan parliamentarians went to London earlier this month to participate in a major donor's conference, it was a milestone of sorts, with a presidency and Parliament working side by side to solve the nation's problems.
But for Al-Hajj Abdul Jabbar Shalgarai, a conservative legislator, the trip was distinctly un-Islamic. He saw the participation of two Afghan women parliamentarians - who traveled without their husbands - as a breach of the law.
So while President Hamid Karzai and his delegation were securing promises of aid, Mr. Shalgarai told his fellow parliamentarians that they were all obliged to follow the Islamic sharia law, which forbids women - including women parliamentarians - from taking long journeys without being accompanied by a male member of the family.
"This country is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and the Constitution says that nothing can be done in Afghanistan that is against sharia law," says Shalgarai, recalling his statements in Parliament. "I don't want to pass a new law into the Constitution; we already have a law, and it is in sharia."
It was a debate that was bound to happen in Afghanistan sooner or later, a clash of two different visions of Islamic society, one traditional, the other modern. But for female parliamentarians hoping to improve the lot of women in this conservative Islamic country, the return of sharia rules - even if they are not specifically stated in the Constitution - is a troubling sign indeed. After all, it was this very same sharia principle that the conservative Taliban regime used to prevent women from going to school, to market, and to work...........
Ohio drops doubts about evolution
School board changes science curriculum
By Stephanie SimonFebruary 15, 2006
Three years after it first encouraged science teachers to raise doubts about evolution, the Ohio Board of Education reversed course yesterday, voting 11-4 to drop a curriculum standard that became a model for several other states.
Since 2002, Ohio's 10th-graders have been required to learn that "scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The theory of evolution - which holds that all life on Earth descended from a common ancestor - was the only scientific discipline singled out for critical analysis.
Mainstream scientists opposed that curriculum standard at the time. But they did not threaten a lawsuit or publicly force the issue. In the past two months, however, opposition to the standard re-emerged.
First, Ohio board members took note of a federal judge's pro-evolution ruling in Dover, Pa., in December. The judge declared that it was illegal for the school board to require teachers to introduce "intelligent design," the concept that life is too complex to have evolved by random mutation.
Then a group opposing Ohio's standards obtained documents showing that state Department of Education staff and outside scientists vigorously condemned - even ridiculed - a model lesson plan that was supposed to train 10th-graders to critically analyze evolution. These experts described the lesson plan as grounded in religious accounts of the world's creation, rather than in science. ......
Wal-Mart Must Stock Contraception in Mass.
Tuesday February 14, 2006 5:46 PM
BOSTON (AP) - The state board that oversees pharmacies voted Tuesday to require Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraception pills at its Massachusetts pharmacies, a spokeswoman at the Department of Public Health said.
The unanimous decision by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy comes two weeks after three women sued Wal-Mart in state court for failing to carry the so called ``morning after'' pill in its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in the state.
The women argue state policy requires pharmacies to provide all ``commonly prescribed medicines.'' ..........
'Beer quote' pulled from MSNBC Cheney hunting party article
02/15/2006 @ 12:14 am Filed by Ron Brynaert
An article at MSNBC's Website was edited to remove references to alcohol, that may have been available at a picnic, which preceded the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old lawyer by Vice President Cheney last Saturday, RAW STORY has learned.
The change to the article was quickly noticed by a number of liberal bloggers, and their readers, many of whom have been following this much discussed story very closely for the last few days.
In the article, credited to Aram Roston and the NBC Investigative Unit, Katherine Armstrong, a member of the family who own the ranch, revealed new details about her lobbying for the Bush Administration, and about circumstances surrounding the incident itself, which wasn't reported to the media until the following morning. Armstrong was the one who reported the news to a local news reporter, and she said that Cheney agreed with the decision.
The following paragraph was removed for unexplained reasons from the article sometime after it first was published on the Internet:
Armstrong also told NBC News that she does not believe alcohol was involved in the accident. She says she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. "There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Man Shot by Cheney Has Heart Attack
Vice President Cited After Blasting Hunting Buddy With Bird Shot
By LYNN BREZOSKY and NEDRA PICKLER, AP CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Feb. 14) -
The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting
accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had "a minor heart attack"
Tuesday morning, hospital officials said. The victim, Harry Whittington,
was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit for further treatment,
said Peter Banko, the administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus
Christi-Memorial in Texas.
Banko said there was an irregularity in the
heartbeat caused by a pellet, and doctors performed a cardiac catheterization.
Whittington expressed a desire to leave the hospital, but Banko said he would
probably stay for another week to make sure more shot doesn't move to other
organs or to other part of his body.............
as yoga korunta does every tuesday. i am going to choose a word for today
Main Entry: ac·count·abil·i·ty Pronunciation: &-"kaun-t&-'bi-l&-tEFunction: noun: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions
then why is our SUPREME LEADER, OUR KING, OUR MESSIAH NOT BEING HONORABLE (OR ACCOUNTABLE)?
White House Strongly Defends Katrina Role
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 28 minutes ago
After accepting responsibility for the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House is now striking back at critics who administration officials say are unfairly blaming President Bush.
White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend said Monday the administration welcomes and will cooperate with congressional inquiries into Katrina and its aftermath.
"But let's be clear about the facts," she said. "As you know, President Bush was highly engaged in the preparation and response effort, beginning when Katrina was a tropical storm off the coast of Florida."
At issue is a House report, set for release Wednesday, that has concluded Bush was not fully advised of the scope of the damage caused by the Aug. 29 storm.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was set to testify Tuesday before a Senate committee investigating the federal storm response. But Senate aides said late Monday that the hearing was postponed because of Senate votes. A new time or date for Chertoff's appearance had not yet been set.
Katrina ultimately claimed more than 1,300 lives, uprooted hundreds of thousands more and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage. The devastation in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities left Americans with enduring images of their countrymen dying in flooded nursing homes and pleading for rescue from rooftops..............
By Jonathan Saltzman and Lisa Kocian, Globe Staff February 14, 2006
The same week he allegedly killed his wife and 9-month-old daughter in Hopkinton, Neil Entwistle surfed the Internet for websites that describe how to kill people and commit suicide, according to a police affidavit unsealed yesterday.........
and are they (the they being the bushwhacked administration) planning on taking our internet access away to PROTECT US from US? is this like the rough sex defense for the junk food defense or the watching too many violent video games defense ?
The Pentagon’s War on the Internet
by Mike Whitney
The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information. The plan appears in a recently declassified document, “The Information Operations Roadmap”, which was provided under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and revealed in an article by the BBC.The Pentagon sees the internet in terms of a military adversary that poses a vital threat to its stated mission of global domination. This explains the confrontational language in the document which speaks of “fighting the net”; implying that the internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system."The Defense Dept. places a high-value on controlling information. The new program illustrates their determination to establish the parameters of free speech. The Pentagon sees information as essential in manipulating perceptions and, thus, a crucial tool in eliciting public support for unpopular policies. The recent revelations of the military placing propaganda in the foreign press demonstrate the importance that is given to co-opting public opinion. ..........
from think progress
a citizen ABOVE suspicion it would seem
Texas Sheriff Barred From Interviewing Cheney About Shooting Incident
CBS News reports that local law enforcement officials were prevented from interviewing Vice President Cheney after he accidentally shot a 78-year-old man during a hunting trip:
CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports Texas authorities are complaining that the Secret Service barred them from speaking to Cheney after the incident. Kenedy County Texas Sheriffs Lt. Juan Guzman said deputies first learned of the shooting when an ambulance was called.
McClellan was asked about it at the press briefing but played dumb:
QUESTION: Scott, there’s a report coming out of a sheriff’s deputy there who said that he was prevented from interviewing the vice president by the Secret Service. Do you know anything about that? And is that appropriate?
MCCLELLAN: No, I don’t know anything about that. You have got to direct that to the Secret Service. My understanding was that Secret Service took the appropriate steps to inform law enforcement.
Of course, the question is not whether the Secret Service informed law enforcement, but whether law enforcement was permitted to speak with Cheney. As Talk Left notes, although the incident was an accident, it could constitute criminal negligence.
UPDATE: National Journal reports that, after initial resistance, Cheney was interviewed by law enforcement sometime on Sunday.
UPDATE II: At the breifing McClellan refuses to “speculate” as to whether the accidental shooting was a criminal offense:
QUESTION: Under Texas law, is this kind of accidental shooting a possible criminal offense?
MCCLELLAN: I won’t even speculate on that, but I think the sheriff’s office or the local law enforcement office has already commented on that and said it was a hunting accident.
Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say
02/13/2006 @ 10:25 amFiled by Larisa Alexandrovna
The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, RAW STORY has learned.
According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.
Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.
While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran...........
why didn't the police get involved and IF they did, why didn't THEY release a statement. why was it katherine armstrong 'the ranch owner'?
"After Cheney's Shooting Incident, Time to Unload Episode Triggers a Fusillade of Wisecracks, And a Withering Blast From White House Press"............
Monday, February 13, 2006
Italy's leader: ‘I am the Jesus Christ of politics’ A day earlier, Berlusconi compared himself to Napoleon
Updated: 8:19 a.m. ET Feb. 13, 2006
ROME - First it was Napoleon. Now it is Jesus Christ.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Belusconi has compared himself to both, prompting the open scorn of his political opponents and even the quietly raised eyebrows of his coalition partners.
“I am the Jesus Christ of politics,” Italian media quoted him as saying at a dinner with supporters on Saturday night. “I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
Giuseppe Giulietti, a leftist parliamentarian, joked that he was sure that “God the Father and the rest of Jesus’ family did not take this very well.”.......
again, i say IF this story is true, what ms jackson's body looks like is NO concern to ANYONE but ms jackson
i don't own any janet jackson but believe me it has NOTHING to do with how she looks! upon confirming this story, no more virgin cd s for me (and it will be tough because massive attack records on that label)
from todays ny post page six
February 13, 2006 -- WE'RE all about to see a lot less of Janet Jackson - literally. The pop queen bulked up over the last year but has been given her marching orders by her label, Virgin, to lose the weight by September - or it won't release her album. "Janet had a really bad year," our spy said. "After the incident at the Super Bowl [two years ago], it just went downhill. Her album 'Damita Jo' was a flop. Then her brother Michael had the child-molestation trial - it just wasn't good to her." Jackson found solace in food and, as recent photos will attest, has packed on the pounds. "This new album is supposed to be pretty good, but Virgin feels it can't market it without Janet being back in fighting form, so they have hired her a personal trainer and put her on a diet. She has to lose at least 20 pounds." But a pal said: "Janet always gains weight when she's not working - and always loses it in time to promote her albums. Janet always takes care of it when it matters." Reps for Virgin and Jackson didn't return calls.
Five Chinese Muslims, captured in Pakistan by mistake, try to get the US Supreme Court to take their case.
By Warren Richey Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
MIAMI - Five Muslim detainees from China's western Xinjiang province are stranded in a legal no man's land at the US terrorism prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
They shouldn't be there. Even the US military has found that the men, members of the besieged Uighur ethnic group, are not enemy combatants. But their ordeal in custody isn't over. Because they could face harsh treatment back in China - and the US doesn't want to set a precedent by granting them asylum here - they sit in a barracks-like detention center waiting for a country to give them a home.
Now, more than four years after their imprisonment by US military forces, the men are asking the US Supreme Court to examine their case. At issue is whether individuals captured abroad can be held in military detention indefinitely - even after the US government has declared that they pose no threat to national security.
"These men have been adjudged by the military to be, essentially, mistakes. They are innocent men captured by mistake by US forces abroad," says Neil McGaraghan, a lawyer representing two of the detainees.
Though the five are not considered enemy combatants, the men can be held indefinitely under the executive branch's power to wind up wartime detentions in an orderly fashion, government lawyers say.
"The US has no interest in detaining anyone any longer than necessary," says Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman. "We continue to detain the Uighurs as we continue to work on their resettlement."
Their request comes after a federal judge in Washington, ruled in December that the open-ended detention was unlawful. But because of the murky legal status of the prisoners at Guantánamo, he said he lacked authority to order military commanders to release them......
From the Los Angeles Times
For one Marine, torture came home
By Ann Louise BardachFebruary 12, 2006
ABOUT A YEAR and a half ago, a 40-year-old former Marine sergeant named Jeffrey Lehner, recently returned from Afghanistan, phoned and asked to meet with me. Since his return he had been living with his father, a retired pharmacist, in the Santa Barbara home where he was raised. I first heard about Jeff from an acquaintance of mine who was dating him and who told me that he was deeply distressed about what he had seen on his tours in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.We met for lunch at a restaurant on Canon Perdido in downtown Santa Barbara. Jeff was focused, articulate and as handsome as a movie star. He was quite wound-up, but utterly lucid.There was no way I could have known that day the depths of Jeff's unhappiness, no way I could have predicted the tragedy that would follow. I listened closely to his story and, while I was surprised by what I heard, I had no particular reason to disbelieve him.He had joined the Marines enthusiastically, he told me, and served as a flight mechanic for eight years. Not long after 9/11, he began helping to fly materials into Afghanistan with the first wave of U.S. troops.In the beginning, Jeff supported the administration's policies in the region. But over time, that began to change. As we talked, Jeff brought out an album of photos from Afghanistan. He pointed to a series of photographs of a trailer and several huts behind a barbed-wire fence; these were taken, he said, outside a U.S. military camp not far from the Kandahar airport. He told me that young Afghans — some visible in blue jumpsuits in his photos — had been rounded up and brought to the site by a CIA special operations team. The CIA officers made no great secret of what they were doing, he said, but were dismissive of the Marines and pulled rank when challenged.Jeff said he had been told by soldiers who had been present that the detainees were being interrogated and tortured, and that they were sometimes given psychotropic drugs. Some, he believed, had died in custody. What disturbed him most, he said, was that the detainees were not Taliban fighters or associates of Osama bin Laden. "By the time we got there," Jeff said, "the serious fighters were long gone.".....
Report: U.S. Is Abusing Captives
A U.N. inquiry says the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which at times amounts to torture, violates international law.By Maggie FarleyTimes Staff Writer9:12 PM PST, February 12, 2006NEW YORK — A draft United Nations report on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay concludes that the U.S. treatment of them violates their rights to physical and mental health and, in some cases, constitutes torture.It also urges the United States to close the military prison in Cuba and bring the captives to trial on U.S. territory, charging that Washington's justification for the continued detention is a distortion of international law.The report, compiled by five U.N. envoys who interviewed former prisoners, detainees' lawyers and families, and U.S. officials, is the product of an 18-month investigation ordered by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The team did not have access to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.Nonetheless, its findings — notably a conclusion that the violent force-feeding of hunger strikers, incidents of excessive violence used in transporting prisoners and combinations of interrogation techniques "must be assessed as amounting to torture" — are likely to stoke U.S. and international criticism of the prison.Nearly 500 people captured abroad since 2002 in Afghanistan and elsewhere and described by the U.S. as "enemy combatants" are being held at Guantanamo Bay."We very, very carefully considered all of the arguments posed by the U.S. government," said Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture and one of the envoys. "There are no conclusions that are easily drawn. But we concluded that the situation in several areas violates international law and conventions on human rights and torture."..............
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Nurse Investigated for 'Sedition' After Writing Letter to Editor By E&P StaffPublished: February 11, 2006 9:00 PM ET
NEW YORK Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson for a thorough inquiry of his agency's investigation into whether a V.A. nurse's letter to the editor criticizing the Bush administration amounted to "sedition."Merely opposing government policies and expressing a desire to change course "does not provide reason to believe that a person is involved in illegal subversive activity," he said.Bingaman said such investigations raise "a very real possibility of chilling legitimate political speech."Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She urged people to "act forcefully" to remove an administration she said played games of "vicious deceit." The agency seized her computer and launched an investigation.But Bingaman wrote: "In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government's actions does not amount to sedition or insurrection. It is, and must remain, protected speech. Although it may be permissible to implement restrictions regarding a government employee's political activities during work hours or on government premises, such employees do not surrender their right to freedom of speech when they enlist in government service.".........