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Posts tagged ‘illegal’

A Legal Black Hole

A Legal Black Hole

Our country continues to preserve the disgrace of Guantanamo bay. How is it in the United States of America that people cleared for release continue to rot in a legal black hole for years on end? Either there are 86 people there cleared for release or else there are not. Either they were wrongfully detained or else they were not. And if they deserve to be freed, then they must be freed.

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Close Guantanamo Now Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1126.php

And yet cowards of both parties would rather heap injustice on a multitude of innocents, lest some right wing nut accuse them of accidentally letting someone go who might, BECAUSE of our torture and mistreatment of them, turn to future violence. How can we call ourselves a just and civilized country, and continue to operate on the principle that it doesn’t matter who we lock up as long as we’re locking up somebody?

Guantanamo was conceived of as an outlaw garrison, contrived to be beyond the reach of any manner of justice. Even our currently reactionary Supreme Court could not swallow that one whole. We have lots (and we do mean lots) of perfectly good prisons here in America, that hold lots of convicted terrorists right now. And we did not need kangaroo court tribunals to put them there. We need to either convict these people fair and square or we need to let them go.

The most cowardly suggestion of all is that we should be afraid of housing anyone so convicted in actual American prisons. “I don’t want these terrorists in prisons in MY state,” you hear members of Congress say. If our supermax prisons cannot protect local people from the criminals inside the prisons, what’s the point of having prisons at all?

Close Guantanamo Now.

Though our corporate news media have avoided the subject like a plague, the hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo are being brutally force-fed, itself a form of torture. Torture by America has not stopped, they’re just trying to keep it quiet. And you should know there are some amazingly valiant activists who are on indefinite hunger strikes themselves, to try to force attention on this issue.

Here is what Cynthia Papermaster has to say.

We are asking President Barack Obama to immediately begin releasing the 86 cleared for-release Guantanamo detainees. My hunger strike is now 31 days old. I have not eaten solid food for 31 days, and am existing on less than 300 calories a day. I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I am committed to continuing my hunger strike until the President, who has the clear authority to do so, begins to release the cleared, innocent men from the prison. Cynthia Johnson has been fasting on mostly liquids for nearly 25 days.

Our City Council in Berkeley passed a Resolution co-authored by me, Peace and Justice Commissioner Rita Maran, and the national group “No More Guantanamos”, in October 2011, which welcomes one or two cleared detainees to settle in our community, at private expense. We’ve been successfully raising funds for this purpose.

The Resolution also said that the Council would urge Obama to close Guantanamo Prison and Congress to lift the ban against detainees resettling in the United States. Well, that hasn’t happened, yet we think that if the men had a place to live, a safe and welcoming place, that Obama could use his Executive Order privilege to allow them to live in the USA, in Berkeley.

We also know that there is a waiver in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows him to release detainees. So there’s really no reason for him to refuse, especially since I, Elliot Adams and Tarak Kauff are on long-term, open-ended hunger strike. Elliot is on day 60 of his hunger strike. Tarak is on day 47. We are all taking less than 300 calories a day. You can see our profiles and hunger strike statements at www.closegitmo.net. Click on “Hunger Strikes/Fasts” tab.

Because my health is at risk, I think it’s time to step up the actions for helping the men go free.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said- “These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Peaceteam.net

A Little Common Sense

From Nation of Change
26 July 2012

U.S. Gun Laws: Guilty by Reason of Insanity
by Amy Goodman

James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the massacre in Aurora, Colo., reportedly amassed his huge arsenal with relative ease. Some of these weapons were illegal as recently as eight years ago. Legislation now before Congress would once again make illegal, if not the guns themselves, at least the high-capacity magazines that allow bullets to be fired rapidly without stopping to reload. Holmes bought most of his weaponry within recent months, we are told. Perhaps, if sane laws on gun control, including the ban on high- capacity magazines, were in place, many in Aurora who are now dead or seriously injured would be alive and well today.

The facts of the assault are generally well-known. Holmes allegedly burst into the packed theater during the 12:30 am premier of the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight Rises,” threw one or two canisters of some gas or irritant, which exploded, then began to methodically shoot people, killing 12 and wounding 58.

“Everybody sort of started screaming, and that’s when the gunman opened fire on the crowd, and pandemonium just broke out,” Omar Esparza told me. He was in the third row, with five friends out for a birthday celebration: “He started opening fire on the audience pretty freely, just started shooting in every direction, that’s when everybody started screaming, started panicking. A lot of people had been hit at that point at those initial few rounds, and that’s when everybody sort of hit the floor and started to exit.”

Esparza continued: “It sounded like the bullets had stopped, and it sounded like he was either switching guns or reloading his rifle. At that very second when we sort of heard the silence, we realized that that was our only opportunity of getting out or of dying. So, at that split second, we had to react and had to exit as quickly as possible. And we barely made it, too, because approximately a second after we had exited, we heard him starting to shoot again.”

That moment of silence may have been when one of the weapons jammed. CNN reported that “the semiautomatic rifle used in the Colorado theater killings jammed during the rampage … a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation said Sunday.”

Holmes allegedly had an AR-15, equipped with a 100-round drum magazine, as well as one or two Glock pistols with 40-round extended magazines and a Remington 870 shotgun that can fire up to seven shells without reloading. The AR-15 can fire from 50 to 60 rounds per minute. Holmes had a massive arsenal, easily acquired at retail stores and online.

Carolyn McCarthy is a member of Congress from Long Island, N.Y. Her husband was shot in the head and among the six killed in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre. Her son also was shot in the head, but survived and remains partially paralyzed. She was a nurse back then, but when her congressman voted against the assault-weapons ban, she ran against him. She won and has been in Congress ever since.

McCarthy has introduced H.R. 308, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. It would ban the sale or transfer of these large-capacity clips that enabled the massive casualties in Aurora, and in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011 when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six were killed. McCarthy told me: “The problem is, politicians, legislators across this country are intimidated by the NRA and the gun manufacturers who put so much money out there to say that ‘we will take you down in an election if you go against us.’ Common sense will say we can take prudent gun-safety legislation and try to save people’s lives. That is the bottom line.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Guantanamo Closing

Dear Gabriel,

January 11, 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of “war on terror” detainees at Guantanamo. We’re not going to let this day pass quietly.

Sign Amnesty’s global petition urging President Obama to finally follow through on his promise to close Guantanamo. Help us meet our goal of 100,000 signatures worldwide — signatures we plan to deliver straight to the White House door.

We haven’t forgotten President Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo, one of his first acts as president. Nearly three years later, the President has failed to keep his end of the bargain.

Even worse, President Obama has yet again relented to extremists in Congress. On New Year’s Eve, he signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, along with its appalling detention provisions.

We lost that fight, but there’s reason for hope. The battle over the NDAA united activists across the ideological divide, who put differences aside and came together to oppose the NDAA.

January 11th isn’t just any anniversary. This year, it’s a critical moment to rise up against a shameful decade of human rights abuses perpetrated in our name. We can’t let the recent outrage against the NDAA simply ebb away — help us channel this passion into a movement rededicated to closing Guantanamo!

Guantanamo is a costly human rights catastrophe. Military and intelligence experts have repeatedly asserted that Guantanamo and the violations it stands for are immoral, illegal and counterproductive to US national security.

There is a simple solution to closing Guantanamo — either charge detainees and give them a fair trial in US federal court, or release them.

Sign our petition to tell President Obama that we are tired of his excuses. Guantanamo must be closed.

For many, the New Year holiday embodies humanity’s hopes for the future. Here’s to 2012 — and with your help, this could be Guantanamo’s final year.

Sincerely,

Zeke Johnson
Director, Security with Human Rights Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. It’s not too late to join us in Washington, DC on January 11th for a National Day of Action Against Guantanamo. Lend a hand to our human chain!

Costly Guantanamo Cell Block

From Nation of Change and McClatchy
by Carol rosenberg
4 January 2012

Secret Guantanamo Cellblock Cost About $700,000.

A once-secret Guantánamo cellblock now used to punish captives was built in November 2007 for $690,000 from a crude, then 5-year-old temporary prison camp design.

Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese confirmed the existence of the block earlier in December, and released a photo of one steel-walled cell after detainee defenders called conditions inhumane. It’s called Camp Five-Echo, and “serves as a disciplinary block for those non-compliant detainees in Camps 5 and 6,” Reese said in an email Friday that for the first time revealed the cost of the 4-year-old prison camps construction project.

Fewer than 150 of Guantánamo’s 171 captives are kept in Camps 5 and 6, which are steel and cement penitentiary-style copies of U.S. prisons. Former CIA prisoners are held elsewhere at a secret site at the remote Navy base, Camp 7, a jail whose price tag the Pentagon won’t reveal.

As for Five-Echo, it’s a separate 24-unit boxcar-style cellblock on the grounds of Camp 5. Its design comes from the detention center’s earliest days, 2002, when contract laborers welded cellblocks from old shipping containers. But there’s a key difference: In the original design, the cells had a see-through metal mesh that allowed captives to communicate with and see others. For “the disciplinary block,” the military had workers weld in steel walls, sealing off each cell from the other.

The punishment block is pointedly left off the guided tour the U.S. military gives reporters. Reese, the prison camps spokeswoman, said it was first built in November 2007 and is used as a place where captives who don’t cooperate with their captors lose “privileges, and not by use of isolation or solitary confinement.”

Saudi-born Shaker Aamer, 45, a British resident, has been held there more than 100 days, said attorney Ramzi Kassem said Saturday, characterizing his client’s detention circumstances “reminiscent of Guantánamo circa 2003.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Illegal Invasion of Iraq

From Nation of Change and New America Media
22 December 2011

Ethnic Media Take Sober Look at U.S. Intervention in Iraq

When the last American troops pulled out of Iraq last week, Univision anchor and commentator Jorge Ramos tweeted in Spanish, “The last soldier is leaving Iraq, an unnecessary war, invented by Bush, that cost more than 100,000 lives and $1 trillion.” In another tweet, Ramos wrote in Spanish, “The war in Iraq is ending but you have to remember that no weapons of mass destruction were found there and that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.”

In the wake of the end of the Iraq war, U.S. ethnic media are taking a sober look at the last nine years of American military intervention in Iraq, and the meaning of the war in each of their communities.

The Iraq war will be remembered as “an incomprehensible war whose repercussions will continue for a long time,” according an editorial in Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión looking back at the eight and a half years of U.S. military intervention in Iraq that ended last week.

The editorial argues that the Iraq war, a legacy of the George W. Bush administration, was built on “endless arrogance that led to denials of reality, deliberate lies and deep judgment errors.” The war itself, editors write, has done more harm than good, leading to losses in human lives, money and geopolitical uncertainty.

An op-ed in New York’s Spanish-language El Diario/La Prensa, called “A Vain Victory in Iraq,” explains the reason for this: “We continue fighting terrorists because they never were in Iraq, preferring to have their base in the lawless lands of Afghanistan and their alliances with the authorities of Pakistan. We continue to fear nuclear weapons, and that’s because Saddam Hussein wasn’t the problem; Iran and Pakistan are to blame. Israel still has enemies. And if there is a flourishing democracy in the region, it is thanks to the popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt, not our military adventure in Iraq.”

“War is a dirty business,” the commentator wrote for El Diario/La Prensa. “For a war to have popular support, the leaders of a democracy like the U.S. need to use illusions. That’s why the authors of the war in Iraq – especially President Bush and Vice President Cheney – promised us a miracle. The bombs would explode. And as the smoke dissipated, we would contemplate a simpler and less threatening world.”

That wasn’t exactly what happened, the writer concluded. “The bombs exploded. But today we hear sobs. And what we see is smoke as usual.”

Arab-American media, meanwhile, were not convinced that the withdrawal of American troops meant the end of military intervention in the region.

Ahemd Tharwat, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and host of the local Arab-American TV program BelAhdan, called the U.S. troop withdrawal “an empty symbol.”

“The war was a huge mistake,” he said. “It was costly and unnecessary, and I don’t know if we can recover from it.”

Fatima Bakhit, publisher of the Los Angeles-based weekly newspaper Al Enteshar Al Arabi, echoed Tharwat’s disappointment and concern over the future of Iraq.

“The withdrawal is a joke,” Bakhit said. “It is just showing that America can realize its promise of ‘withdrawing,’” but, she said, “the American presence and influence will continue in Iraq.”

Bakhit noted that while “everyone has sadly paid a price in the war, Iraq is the biggest loser. The country has been completely destroyed as result of these nine years. And on top of that,” she said, “America’s relationship with the region, not just the country, has seriously worsened and will not improve.”

Media from the Iranian diaspora worried that the vacuum left in the wake of the American withdrawal from Iraq could provide an opportunity for Iran to step in.

“Less than a week after American troops left, an earthquake-like crisis is growing rapidly in Iraq,” noted a writer for Iranian.com, a website that posts stories by the Iranian Diaspora. “Some folks had warned that Iran would move to replace the Americans while others said Iraqi nationalism would prevent that. It’s starting to look like the first group was right.”

“For now Khamenei [Supreme Leader of Iran] would be playing a role similar to Milosevic in Bosnia,” the writer predicts. “He would encourage sectarian dominance next door and–rather than send armies openly, he would ‘loan’ weapons, offer trainers and send well armed ‘volunteers,’ stripped of their usual uniforms as the regime did in once prosperous Lebanon.”

Vietnamese Bayvut.com, based in Australia, also worried that Americans’ departure from Iraq could cause Iraq’s fragile democracy to disappear. Bayvut.com quotes a woman in Bagdad who said that she doesn’t “believe that real change has come. There are still bombings, assassinations, and the government is doing very little,” she said. “As for those who long for democracy in Iran, that hope has too dissipated with the Americans’ departure next door.”

Bao Moi newspaper, a Vietnamese Americans daily, adds that even as Iraqi citizens celebrate the departure of the U.S. military, “they are also worried regarding the new political fragmentation in their government that leads to issues of security and sovereignty of their country.”

Much of Korean media’s coverage of the Iraq war focused on South Korean businesses looking to take part in post-war reconstruction efforts.

An article in the Korea Herald from May celebrated the signing of a $7.25 billion contract between Hanhwa Engineering, one of South Korea’s largest developers, and Iraq’s National Investment Commission. The seven-year contract, which calls for the construction of a planned town 25 kilometers east of Baghdad, marks “the largest overseas construction project to be won by a Korean construction firm.”

Over its four-year presence in Iraq, South Korea dispatched some 19,000 mostly non-combat troops to the war-torn nation. The initial decision to take part in the effort proved controversial as most South Koreans opposed the war, though then President Roh Moo Hyun hoped to use it as leverage in efforts to move Washington toward a softer stance on North Korea.

As the war comes to an end, some Koreans are reflecting on the toll of the war for America. An editorial in the Korea Times notes that the nine-year conflict was fought on “false pretenses,” with the “misery and pain caused by the war far outweighing its glory.”

Paying a high price that included some 4,500 casualties, trillions of dollars spent and returning veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the piece concluded that “in the end, the war sent America’s image abroad plunging.”

As American troops leave Iraq, some Chinese-American media outlets expressed concern that the U.S. military could take a renewed interest in China.

“The U.S. could redirect military resources from the Middle East to Asia, so that countries like South Korea and the Philippines, who are allies of the U.S., would receive more military support as the Iraq war ends,” said Joseph Leung, editor in chief of the Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco. “By directing more military resources to China’s neighboring countries, China’s development will be closely monitored by the U.S. and its allies in Asia.”

Chinese-American media also took a personal look at the families who have lost children in the war.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

Illegal Doctorate?

Excerpt from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Academic Purgatory: An illegal immigrant earns a Ph.D.Now what? By Ilan Stavans

Jorge Arbusto isn’t the type of person who seeks the limelight. In fact, for years he has thrived in the shadows. But ask him today what he wants, and his answer is unequivocal: to be recognized.

A sweet, passionate, steadfast student originally from Mexico, Jorge (his name has been changed for this article) may be the only undocumented immigrant to successfully defend a doctoral dissertation in the United States. Certainly he is among a very small group. Yet his case poses questions that not only affect thousands of undergraduates today—some sources put it at around 50,000—but also challenge our ideas about hard work, the choices that colleges do or should make, the value of education (for students and society), and, yes, that thorn in our political side—immigration and the Dream Act, which is still stalled in Congress.

Having defended his dissertation on Spanish-language popular culture, Jorge received his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies this past spring. To reach this point, he has gone through astonishing hardships, which include beatings and imprisonment, not to mention the shame that comes with being illegal. He has endured all by focusing on achieving the highest academic degree. But now he may not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor: No university I know of will offer him a full-time, permanent position.

Jorge is a criminal with a Ph.D. Is that what America stands for, education without reward?

Read complete article at: The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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