Monday, 03 August 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Jun 03

Pakistan Cannot Handle Educated Jihadists

By Mubashir Noor, Truthout | Op-Ed

Saad Aziz has the dubious honor of enhancing Pakistan's terrorism vocabulary. Before his May 21 confession to killing social activist Sabeen Mahmud, and gunning down Ismailis in Safoora Goth,Pakistan's political pendulum on terror swung between two stops: every hit on the homeland could be traced back to either the Taliban or India's intelligence agencies. A young man with an elite education and cosmopolitan upbringing could never be a jihadist. The fact that similar individuals were joining the Islamic State (IS) was dismissed as a first-world problem. Rich people would never go rogue in Pakistan; life was too good for them here!

Reborn fanatics like Saad Aziz and cohort Mohammed Ishrat are especially troublesome because they are hard to predict and don't conform to stereotypes. No one talks about the other killers, Haafiz Nasir or Tahir Hussain, because their socio-religious standing is within the present profile's margin of error. Local commentators are now dusting off precedents to downplay Aziz's actions, and comparing him to Omar Saeed Sheikh and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. These comparisons don't work because both of the latter embraced Al-Qaeda's original logic of jihad against the infidel occupiers of Muslims lands. Unlike Aziz, neither willfully targeted fellow Muslims, nor spewed anti-Shia hate. 

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

A ceremony attended by 300,000 people was held on May 23, in the city of San Salvador to honor and celebrate the beatification of El Salvador's deceased Archbishop Oscar Romero. Supportive commemorations were also held in Los Angeles and other cities. Pope Francis made the decision to beatify Romero which is a step before sainthood after designating him as a martyr who gave his life in 1980 for the cause of social justice. Prior to his death, the Archbishop had assisted poor communities in El Salvador in order to improve their lives and had been a public and outspoken critic of the brutal Salvadoran military. He had demanded that the army halt the widespread violence and killings being committed against innocent people who were merely attempting to exercise their basic rights.

An appeal court has today ordered the Obama Administration to redact 12 hours of secret Guantánamo force-feeding footage in preparation for its public release, rejecting the Administration's argument that not one single frame should be seen by the public.

The classified videos, which show Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa-'el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed by the US military, were ordered to be released to the public by federal Judge Gladys Kessler in October 2014, following a First Amendment intervention from 16 US press organizations in the abuse case Dhiab v Obama

Jun 01

Does Egypt Have a Government?

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Military officers often take over countries, but only a fool would call the result a government. Governments do not have to be democratic, but they do have to be rule-based. The rules can come in the form of generic laws or customs, but in all cases they have to be promulgated, that is, be publicly set forth. In addition, obedience to the rules has to rest on something more than fear. If whatever system is running the show is subject to the whim of an individual or group of individuals, or operates through rules known only to the police, or relies mostly on terror, it is not a government. It is a despotism of some sort. Most instances of military rule fit the description of despotism. Speaking of such regimes as governments is just so much nonsense.  

By the way, dictionary definitions of government are usually inadequate, restricting themselves to vague statements like "a particular system used to control a country." If the mafia took over Italy, would you understand their form of control as government?

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

Jun 01

"Mad Max": Beyond Furiosa

By Dawn Tefft, Truthout | Film Review

Make no mistake, Mad Max: Fury Road is resplendent with women kicking ass. Some of the most powerful images in the film are of Imperator Furiosa smearing engine oil on her head, making tough decisions about strategy in the middle of battle and shooting men dead. But the movie features even more feminist elements than assigning guns and strategic minds to women.

Mad Max: Fury Road, unlike most movies in any genre, but especially the action genre, shows that women can occupy a range of roles. Whereas Katie McDonough, writing in Salon, sees the feminist bent of the movie undermined to a certain degree by the personalities of the wives in the movie, their characters actually create a necessary space for the idea that women can be strong even without adopting speech and actions culturally associated with manhood.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.

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Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Jun 03

Pakistan Cannot Handle Educated Jihadists

By Mubashir Noor, Truthout | Op-Ed

Saad Aziz has the dubious honor of enhancing Pakistan's terrorism vocabulary. Before his May 21 confession to killing social activist Sabeen Mahmud, and gunning down Ismailis in Safoora Goth,Pakistan's political pendulum on terror swung between two stops: every hit on the homeland could be traced back to either the Taliban or India's intelligence agencies. A young man with an elite education and cosmopolitan upbringing could never be a jihadist. The fact that similar individuals were joining the Islamic State (IS) was dismissed as a first-world problem. Rich people would never go rogue in Pakistan; life was too good for them here!

Reborn fanatics like Saad Aziz and cohort Mohammed Ishrat are especially troublesome because they are hard to predict and don't conform to stereotypes. No one talks about the other killers, Haafiz Nasir or Tahir Hussain, because their socio-religious standing is within the present profile's margin of error. Local commentators are now dusting off precedents to downplay Aziz's actions, and comparing him to Omar Saeed Sheikh and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. These comparisons don't work because both of the latter embraced Al-Qaeda's original logic of jihad against the infidel occupiers of Muslims lands. Unlike Aziz, neither willfully targeted fellow Muslims, nor spewed anti-Shia hate. 

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

A ceremony attended by 300,000 people was held on May 23, in the city of San Salvador to honor and celebrate the beatification of El Salvador's deceased Archbishop Oscar Romero. Supportive commemorations were also held in Los Angeles and other cities. Pope Francis made the decision to beatify Romero which is a step before sainthood after designating him as a martyr who gave his life in 1980 for the cause of social justice. Prior to his death, the Archbishop had assisted poor communities in El Salvador in order to improve their lives and had been a public and outspoken critic of the brutal Salvadoran military. He had demanded that the army halt the widespread violence and killings being committed against innocent people who were merely attempting to exercise their basic rights.

An appeal court has today ordered the Obama Administration to redact 12 hours of secret Guantánamo force-feeding footage in preparation for its public release, rejecting the Administration's argument that not one single frame should be seen by the public.

The classified videos, which show Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa-'el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed by the US military, were ordered to be released to the public by federal Judge Gladys Kessler in October 2014, following a First Amendment intervention from 16 US press organizations in the abuse case Dhiab v Obama

Jun 01

Does Egypt Have a Government?

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Military officers often take over countries, but only a fool would call the result a government. Governments do not have to be democratic, but they do have to be rule-based. The rules can come in the form of generic laws or customs, but in all cases they have to be promulgated, that is, be publicly set forth. In addition, obedience to the rules has to rest on something more than fear. If whatever system is running the show is subject to the whim of an individual or group of individuals, or operates through rules known only to the police, or relies mostly on terror, it is not a government. It is a despotism of some sort. Most instances of military rule fit the description of despotism. Speaking of such regimes as governments is just so much nonsense.  

By the way, dictionary definitions of government are usually inadequate, restricting themselves to vague statements like "a particular system used to control a country." If the mafia took over Italy, would you understand their form of control as government?

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

Jun 01

"Mad Max": Beyond Furiosa

By Dawn Tefft, Truthout | Film Review

Make no mistake, Mad Max: Fury Road is resplendent with women kicking ass. Some of the most powerful images in the film are of Imperator Furiosa smearing engine oil on her head, making tough decisions about strategy in the middle of battle and shooting men dead. But the movie features even more feminist elements than assigning guns and strategic minds to women.

Mad Max: Fury Road, unlike most movies in any genre, but especially the action genre, shows that women can occupy a range of roles. Whereas Katie McDonough, writing in Salon, sees the feminist bent of the movie undermined to a certain degree by the personalities of the wives in the movie, their characters actually create a necessary space for the idea that women can be strong even without adopting speech and actions culturally associated with manhood.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.