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Archive for November, 2012

NDAA: Prison Without Proof

proofA reprise of last year’s war in Washington over whether or not Americans can be indefinitely detained without trial is occurring already. The Senate has approved a measure that voids parts of the 2012 NDAA, but the White House says they plan to veto.

Just hours before lawmakers in the US Senate overwhelming voted in favor of an amendment that will challenge controversial provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the Obama administration cited seemingly unrelated sections of the annual Pentagon spending bill as the reasoning behind a planned veto.

Last year, staffers working directly under Pres. Barack Obama said they’d recommend the commander-in-chief reject the 2012 NDAA because of certain provisions that provided the Executive Branch the power to indefinitely hold any US citizen in military prison for mere suspicious of ties to terrorism. Despite his office’s assurance that the NDAA would not be authorized as written, Pres. Obama signed his name to the bill on December 31, 2011, all the while acknowledging that he had reservations about the sections that stripped away habeas corpus from US citizens. Even still, the White House has been adamantly fighting in federal appeals court for the right to continue having the ability, despite a district judge having already called that part of the act unconstitutional.

Now as next year’s bill is being scrutinized in Congress, lawmakers in the Senate this Thursday agreed to pass by a vote of 67 to 29 a measure sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) that applied civil liberty protections to US persons who could be detained under the current NDAA.

“An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention,” the senator’s amendment reads.

“I know this is a sensitive subject, but I really believe we stand on the values of our country, and the value of our country is justice for all,” she told her colleagues on the Senate floor.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), an avid critic of the NDAA, said the passing of Feinstein’s amendment has signaled a “victory” in a year-long effort to keep indefinite detention without charge or trial off the books.

“Let’s don’t play any games with any aspect and really believe that any Supreme Court in the United States, whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat, is going to say that an American citizen does not have a right to trial by jury,” he said.

Now with the Senate’s approval of Sen. Feinstein’s amendment, the indefinite detention provisions from the 2012 NDAA stand a chance of being stripped off next year’s bill. Citing completely unrelated reasons, though, the Obama White House said on Thursday that the president is not likely to accept the defense bill in its current form.

According to the White House, the impetus behind Pres. Obama’s reluctance this time around isn’t that a veto will reauthorize his ability to imprison his own citizens without charge. Instead, the administration argues that separate provisions on the current draft of the NDAA would hinder Pres. Obama’s efforts to relocate the foreign terror suspects currently held at the United States’ military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“When he signed past versions of this legislation, the president objected to the restrictions carried forward by section 1031, promised to work towards their repeal, and warned the Congress that the restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries would in certain circumstances interfere with constitutional responsibilities committed to the Executive Branch,” reads a statement published this week from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Since these restrictions have been on the books, they have limited the Executive’s ability to manage military operations in an ongoing armed conflict, harmed the country’s diplomatic relations with allies and counterterrorism partners and provided no benefit whatsoever to our national security.”

Under the latest draft of the 2013 NDAA, the Pentagon will be prohibited from using governmental funds to relocate Gitmo detainees to a new facility in the US. The president vowed on the campaign trail leading up to the November 6 election that he would close the infamous military prison under a second term in office, but that promise was one he also waged back in 2008 with so far no sign of following though. Now a renewed interest in shutting-down Gitmo is being used by the White House to justify the administration’s refusal to accept a bill that challenges the draconian legislation that he signed into law and has fought adamantly in appeals court to uphold since.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a key figure in getting the indefinite detention provision added to the 2012 NDAA, insisted this week on renewed authorization of that clause while also advocating the continued operation of Guantanamo. Defending America’s current powers to prosecute suspected terrorists by any means necessary, Sen. Graham said both indefinite detention and a prison at Gitmo need remain options on the table for the sake of advancing American dominance in overseas military efforts.

“When you’re fighting a war, the goal is not to prosecute people, the goal is to win,” Grahamsaid. “How do you win a war? You kill them, you capture them and you interrogate them to find out what they’re up to next.”

“Simply stated, the American people don’t want to close Guantanamo Bay, which is an isolated, military-controlled facility, to bring these crazy bastards that want to kill us all to the United States,” he told fellow senators during Thursday’s vote. “Most Americans believe that the people at Guantanamo Bay are not some kind of burglar or bank robber. They are bent on our destruction. And I stand with the American people that we’re under siege, we’re under attack and we’re at war.”

Even if the White House was to agree with Sen. Graham’s take, Pres. Obama’s current plans call for ending the only war the United States is officially fighting — the 11-year-long operation in Afghanistan — by 2014. Just this week, however, it was revealed that as many as 10,000 US troops may stay station in Afghanistan for the undeterminable future to assist in so-called stabilization efforts.

On his part, Sen. Rand Paul rebuffed Sen. Graham’s comments by remarking, “Since I know this record of this debate will be widely read, that I want to make formal objection to the ‘crazy bastards standard.’”

“I don’t really think that if we’re going to have a ‘crazy bastards’ standard that we shouldn’t have a right to trial by jury, because if we’re going to lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes, would you not want, if you’re a crazy bastard, to have a right to trial by jury?” said Paul.

Before Sen. Feinstein’s amendment was approved this week, the most recent revision of the 2013 NDAA including a passage reaffirming every American’s right to habeas corpus. The complete defense bill must successfully pass through Congress before Pres. Obama can sign it. In all, the bill outlines spending for the Department of Defense during the next fiscal year and is crucial for figuring out expenses for the entire military complex. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush have each vetoed an NDAA during their administrations.

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The World Stands with Palestine!

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Only 9 members of the U.N. voted against Palestine: United States, Israel, Canada, Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

While 138 members voted for their recognition!
Free Palestine!! The international community is with you!

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The UN General Assembly has voted to upgrade Palestinians’ diplomatic status to a “non-member observer state,” thus implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. This comes despite strong opposition from the US and Israel.

The Palestinian bid has been upheld with 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions.

Addressing the General Assembly on Thursday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the historic vote was the last chance to save the two-state solution. He also told the meeting that it “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.”

In his speech Abbas mentioned Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza that took place this month and stressed that the Palestinians would accept “no less than the independence of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The Israeli government has described Abbas’s speech, which was met with a standing ovation at the General Assembly, as “defamatory and venomous.””The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the IDF (army) and the citizens of Israel,” the Israeli PM’s office said in a statement.

Israeli UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that “the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace.”

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After the acquittal of Croatian generals responsible for the persecution of a quarter million Serbs, murders and ethnic cleansing, with the today’s acquittal of the leader of the Albanian terrorists in Kosovo, the tribunal in Hague definitely defined justice as a contemplative noun for one side, and as an instrument for the implementation of interests and the legalization of crime for the other side. A man who was acquitted of all charges in Hague today wrote the following in his autobiography – “We were constantly attacking Serbian forces. Everywhere. Day and night. Without hiding. Every day we killed Serbian policemen…”, and during the trial 19 of the prosecution witnesses were murdered. So, even the guilty plea and murdering witnesses are not relevant evidence to the court in Hague. This is yet another black day for the international law which is being applied selectively long ago and construed in accordance with the interests of certain powerful states.

excerpted from a Serbian News Social Media group.

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Peru Bans GMOs for Ten Years

Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for the next ten years

In a massive blow to multinational agribiz corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow, Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for a full decade before coming up for another review.

Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision 3 years after the decree was written despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization due largely to the pressure from farmers that together form the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 people that represent six communities.

They worry the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and, of course, the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

While the ban will curb the planting and importation of GMOs in the country, a test conducted by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users (ASPEC) at the time of the ban’s implementation found that 77 percent of supermarket products tested contained GM contaminants.

”Research by ASPEC confirms something that Peruvians knew all along: GM foods are on the shelves of our markets and wineries, and consumers buy them and take them into their homes to eat without knowing it. Nobody tells us, no one says anything, which involves a clear violation of our right to information,” Cáceres told Gestión. GMOs are so prevalent in the Americas that it is virtually impossible to truly and completely block them, whether through pollination or being sneaked in as processed foods.

“There is an increasing consensus among consumers that they want safe, local, organic fresh food and that they want the environment and wildlife to be protected,” wrote Walter Pengue from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, in a recent statement concerning GMOs in South America. “South American countries must proceed with a broader evaluation of their original agricultural policies and practices using the precautionary principle.”

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A New York police department is in trouble after its confidential documents were used as confetti in the city’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Crowds standing alongside the signature floats and balloons during one of America’s biggest annual spectacles were bemused when confetti that turned out to be badly-shredded official records began landing on their clothes.

The documents, many of which were imprinted with the letterheads of the Nassau Police Department, contained social security numbers, addresses and license numbers.

More disturbingly, some of the recovered pieces appeared to be fragments of police reports, and private staff records – including those listing undercover officers.

One even detailed the route to be used by Mitt Romney during a presidential debate last month.

“I’m just completely in shock,” Ethan Finkelstein, one of the first to notice the unexpected paper shower, told local PIX 11 television.

“How could someone have this kind of information, and how could it be distributed at the Thanksgiving Day Parade?”

Indeed, the provenance of the unusual ceremonial decorations remains a mystery.

Parade organizers Macy’s say this is not official confetti designated for the procession, as it normally uses “commercially manufactured, multicolor confetti, not shredded paper.”

Nassau County Police have admitted that the documents belong to them, but say they have no idea how they found their way to the crowd.

“The Nassau County Police Department is very concerned about this situation. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents,” said Inspector Kenneth Lack.

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British activists’ group Amnesty International has condemned armed insurgents in Syria for a growing number of serious abuses, potential war crimes and endangering civilians.

Amnesty International, a UK based organization that deals with human rights, stressed that insurgents in Syria, responsible for human rights abuses have not been condemned by British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

UK Syria campaign manager for Amnesty International Kristyan Benedict said, “William Hague must insist on practical actions not just fine words to prevent opposition abuses. We need to see proper accountability, with any fighters accused of abuses detained and proper investigations mounted.” She added, “As we’ve seen in Libya, where militias are largely out of control, a failure to curb abuses from opposition forces can sow the seeds of future disaster.”

Meanwhile, the newly chosen leader of the main foreign-backed Syrian opposition group has admitted that several hundred armed insurgents fighting along the rebels against Syria’s government are foreigners.

The president of the so-called Syrian National Council, George Sabra called on the international community to supply weapons to the insurgents “without any conditions”.

Syria’s unrest began back in March 2011, when peaceful protests were hijacked by foreign-backed terrorists, who have killed many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel since then.

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