News in Brief: Guantanamo Cost $500 Million and More

Monday, 07 June 2010 11:07 By Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

The full cost of the war on terror comes to the fore in the first public accounting of how much has been spent on the Guantanamo military base since detainees first arrived in January 2002. An investigation by The Washington Post uncovered spending on the US naval station for things such as an abandoned volleyball court ($296,000), the renovation of a cafe that sells Starbucks and ice cream ($683,000) and an unused go-kart track ($296,000). The $500 million spent to remodel the base does not include construction bonuses, which usually run into the millions.


The US is searching for "new ways" to address the impasse over Gaza, reported the BBC, as Vice President Joe Biden says America is working with Egypt and other nations on ways "to address the humanitarian, economic, security and political aspects of the situation." Biden's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak comes amid growing international calls for Israel to ends its blockade of the Gaza Strip after a commando raid on aid ships heading for Gaza left nine peace activists dead.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Navy killed four Palestinians off the Gaza Coast after opening fire on what Israeli commandos said was a squad of militants in diving suits, reported The Guardian.  The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant offshoot of Fatah, said that the men killed were members of its marine unit who had been training.


An Indian court in Bhopal has sentenced eight people to two years each in jail over a 1984 gas plant leak that has been called the world's worst industrial accident, reported the BBC.  The eight former Union Carbide plant employees were convicted of "death by negligence." One person has already died and the others are expected to appeal what are the first convictions since the disaster in which 40 tonnes of a toxin called methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory on December 3, 1984, and settled over slums in Bhopal. According to the Indian government, 3,500 people died within days of the leak, and 15,000 more have died as a result since. Campaigners called the court verdict "too little and too late." 


The International Criminal Court (ICC) is nearing a deal to allow the tribunal to prosecute crimes which involve nations that attack or invade another, reported Reuters. The discussion, taking place in Kampala at a review conference of the ICC, centers on the role of the United Nations Security Council in determining whether an act of aggression took place. The draft paper also gives the ICC prosecutor and pre-trial judges the authority to determine whether an investigation should be launched. But according to Richard Dicker at Human Rights Watch, jurisdictional powers would still be held primarily with an "external filter" because the ICC would only be able to exercise its powers after seven-eighths of member states in the Security Council accepted the agreement.

Yana Kunichoff

Yana Kunichoff is an assistant editor at Truthout.

Last modified on Monday, 07 June 2010 11:56