MintPress News http://www.mintpressnews.com Independent, non-partisan journalism Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:24:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Independent, non-partisan journalism Mint Press News clean Mint Press News mmuhawesh@mintpressnews.com mmuhawesh@mintpressnews.com (Mint Press News) All Rights Reserved Independent, non-partisan journalism MintPress News http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/MintPressLogo_iTUNES.jpg http://www.mintpressnews.com US Troops Will Deploy To Iraq Without Congressional Approval: Pentagon http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-troops-will-deploy-iraq-without-congressional-approval-pentagon/199206/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-troops-will-deploy-iraq-without-congressional-approval-pentagon/199206/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:11:09 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199206 Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said leading elements of the US force would begin moving to Iraq in the coming weeks, even if Congress has not yet acted on a $5.6 billion supplemental request to fund the expanded fight against the militants who overran northwestern Iraq earlier this year. Continue reading

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military

This Department of Defense photo shows US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin E. Dempsey as he addresses questions from US military members during a town hall meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, November 15, 2014.

Updated at 2:19 pm (GMT +2): Some of the 1,500 new US troops authorized to “advise and train” Iraqi forces in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants will be deployed in Iraq within the next few weeks without waiting for Congress to fund the mission, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out all over the city of Ramadi, one of the last urban areas partly under the Iraqi government control in Anbar, when ISIS militants attacked the city from all sides.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said leading elements of the US force would begin moving to Iraq in the coming weeks, even if Congress has not yet acted on a $5.6 billion supplemental request to fund the expanded fight against the militants who overran northwestern Iraq earlier this year.

Large swathes of land in Iraq have become ISIS strongholds as the extremist group, which declared a “caliphate” in the territory it seized in Iraq and Syria, drove Iraq’s army – the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding since the 2003 invasion – to collapse.

In late October, the Pentagon revised its estimate of the cost of the US air war in Iraq and Syria, saying the price tag for the campaign against ISIS comes to about $8.3 million a day.

Since US airstrikes began on August 8, the campaign – which has involved about 6,600 sorties by US and allied aircraft – has cost the US $580 million, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban.

In addition, the campaign, which has so far failed to stop ISIS advances, has also cost the Iraqi government $260 million.

Officials initially indicated they needed to get lawmakers to approve the funding for the troops deployment before the Pentagon could start the mission, but General Lloyd Austin, the head of US troops in the Middle East, recommended starting the effort using resources already available to him.

“The commander … can reallocate resources inside his theater as he deems fit. So he is going to .. try to get a jump start on this program,” Kirby told reporters, adding that congressional approval of the $5.6 billion was still needed to carry out the “more robust program.”

The Pentagon’s announcement came just days after US officials said some 50 troops had been sent to Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province in Iraq to establish an operation to “advise and train” Iraqi troops.

Kirby said Austin thought that starting the expanded mission sent a message both to Iraqis and other coalition partners.

“It sends an important signal … about how seriously we’re taking this,” Kirby said. “The sooner we get started, the sooner Iraqi units will improve … and the sooner we’ll get coalition contributions to that particular mission.”

Kirby indicated additional US troops would begin deploying to Iraq before the end of the year.

“You’re going to start to see initial elements of the 1,500 or so additional start to flow in the next few weeks,” he said. “I think certainly by the end of the calendar year you’re going to see a much more robust presence, not just by the United States doing this but by coalition partners as well.”

US President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 largely due to his promises to exit Middle Eastern military entanglements – especially in Iraq – and avoiding new ones, announced plans last week to double the number of American troops in Iraq, approving an additional 1,500 forces to establish sites to “train” nine Iraqi military brigades and three Kurdish peshmerga brigades.

The move came almost three years after US troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq after a nine-year occupation that left the country in turmoil.

Iraq ranked first out of 162 countries on the Global Terrorism Index, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in a report published Tuesday, giving the country a score of 10 out of 10.

According to the report, 80 percent of the lives lost to “terrorist” attacks in 2013 occurred in just five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

The influx in “terrorist” attacks raises questions about the effectiveness of the US “War on Terror” launched by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks, which included the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The campaign failed to eliminate or even reduce terrorism, as the report showed a steady increase in the death toll over the last 14 years, from 3,361 in 2000 to 11,133 in 2012 and 17,958 in 2013.

On the contrary, the campaign in general and the US invasion of Iraq in particular served as a recruitment tool for terrorist groups, such as ISIS, as figures show that terrorism rose precipitously in Iraq since 2003.

 

Ramadi under fire

The recent expansion of terrorist groups in the Anbar province raises questions about the effectiveness of the US anti-terrorism strategies in Iraq, as the western province was the main battleground between US Marines and al-Qaeda during the “surge” campaign in 2006-2007.

On Friday, ISIS gunmen fired at an Iraqi government building in central Ramadi, Anbar’s capital, local officials said, after the militants launched a sudden attack on the city.

“ISIS launched a sudden attack from four directions – north, west, east and south of Ramadi,” a police first lieutenant in the city told AFP by phone.

He said the jihadists had also detonated car bombs targeting Iraqi security forces.

“Clashes are ongoing around the city. A series of mortar attacks have targeted areas inside the city, including provincial council buildings and a police post,” the officer said, adding that it was too early to estimate the number of casualties.

“Mortar fire has been continuous since midnight,” police captain Qusay al-Dulaimi said.

Council member, Mohammed Mahmoud, said security forces and tribal fighters were preventing the militants from advancing from Mualimeen towards the government complex.

Hathal al-Fahdawi, a local council member for the western province of Anbar, said gunmen were firing from rooftops of buildings in Mualimeen neighborhood into central Ramadi.

Mosques in the city, according to Fahdawi, “are asking anyone who can carry weapons to confront the attackers.”

Moreover, Fadhawi said ISIS fighters took over the village of al-Shujairiya, about 20 kilometers east of Ramadi, where a tribal leader said security forces killed 12 militants who tried to storm a mosque and a house near the village.

Losing the provincial capital would be a setback for the Iraqi army after they broke an ISIS siege of the country’s largest refinery this week and hoped to gain critical momentum in the battle against the militants.

 

ISIS claims Erbil suicide bombing

The US-led anti-ISIS campaign has so far failed to stop ISIS from gaining ground, thus drawing criticism from many sides, including the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan autonomous region, Massoud Barzani.

On Wednesday, following a suicide bombing that hit the usually secure capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Barzani accused Western countries of not providing enough heavy weapons to help peshmerga forces deliver a “decisive blow” against ISIS militants.

Later on Thursday, ISIS claimed responsibility of the suicide attack in an online statement.

“We breached all the security checkpoints of the agent Kurdistan government and reached the heart of the city of Erbil,” the statement said.

It identified the bomber as Abdul-Rahman al-Kurdi, indicating that he was an ethnic Kurd.

The bomber struck the main checkpoint on the way to the provincial government headquarters in the northern city just before noon on Wednesday, killing four people and wounding more than two dozen.

The bombing was the worst attack to hit Erbil since September 29, 2013, when militants struck the headquarters of the Asayesh security forces in the city, killing seven people and wounding more than 60.

In that attack, the Asayesh said a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance to their headquarters, after which they killed four more would-be bombers before a fifth blew up an ambulance rigged with explosives.

Kurdish peshmerga forces joined the battle against ISIS in August after the extremist group targeted ethnic and religious minorities, took control of the country’s largest dam and moved within striking distance of Erbil, where many Western expatriates, including oil industry and aid workers are based.

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NYPD Whistleblower Sues For Questioning “Excessive Force” Report http://www.mintpressnews.com/nypd-whistleblower-sues-questioning-excessive-force-report/199193/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/nypd-whistleblower-sues-questioning-excessive-force-report/199193/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199193 A former New York City council analyst who dared to speak out against corruption in the NYPD, is now herself a target of their heavy hand. Continue reading

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@brotherguss/Twitter

@brotherguss/Twitter

(TheAntiMedia) NEW YORK, NY- A former New York City council analyst is suing his former employer, claiming he was fired for speaking out about alleged NYPD lies. ­Artyom Matusov claims NYPD commissioner, Bill Bratton, presented a report to the council claiming the use of excessive force was down, but Matusov knew the officer was manipulating the data.

He says he tried to speak to his superiors but was ignored. In September, he told the New York Post:

” I said screw it, something needs to be done, and contacted my journalist friends and some council members and said [Commissioner Bill] Bratton had purposely misled the council.”

Only several days after Matusov spoke with reporters, he was fired from his position. Shortly after, he announced he would be suing the city council, and this week, filed charges in Manhattan federal court against the legislative body and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. He is represented by civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who said he hoped the case would encourage other government whistleblowers to speak up. Further, he told the Post he hopes

“… that some of the people in the City Council, some of the people in the mayor’s office, maybe some of the people at the police department, would rethink what they did to him.”

Matusov, a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, says he found evidence indicating that Bratton had “low-balled” the numbers on instances of excessive force committed by cops. He has also filed a whistleblower complaint with the city’s Department of Investigations.

Siegel will argue in court that his client’s first-amendment rights were violated because when he spoke to reporters, he did so as a “concerned citizen,” not a government employee.

Even if he were speaking as a government employee (and assuming his claims are true), it is ludicrous that a government worker could lose their job for attempting to hold the state accountable. To do so is an action the government claims to encourage. Though it is ludicrous, such a firing is not surprising.

Many police officers have been mistreated, fired, or suspended for attempting to report bad behavior. As Siegel noted,

“You hope that people will have the strength and courage to speak out…So many people in government are afraid to speak.”

Initially, the city council declined to comment on Matusov’s case, but on Wednesday, told the Post

“There is absolutely no merit to the claims. We are confident that we will prevail.”

In September, police said Matusov had

“grossly misinterpreted the statistics he used to determine that Police Commissioner Bratton has been caught in a lie before the City Council.”

Even if this is true, it seems unwarranted to fire an individual for publicly raising legitimate concerns about institutions that have repeatedly proved to be corrupt and violent. A trial date has not yet been determined, but should Matusov win, an important precedent may be set for demanding transparency and justice.


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‘We Will Hunt You Down’: KKK Threatens To Shoot Anonymous ‘N***** Lovers’ http://www.mintpressnews.com/we-will-hunt-you-down-kkk-threatens-to-shoot-anonymous-n-lovers/199180/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/we-will-hunt-you-down-kkk-threatens-to-shoot-anonymous-n-lovers/199180/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199180 The two groups with a penchant for face-covering apparel began engaging in a perhaps unequal “cyber war” after the KKK threatened to use “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading

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KLAN RALLYA bitter war of words between hacker collective Anonymous and the Klu Klux Klan risks spilling over into real violence, with the right-wing hate group allegedly threatening to shoot dead activists wearing the Guy Fawkes mask in southern Missouri.

Earlier this week, Anonymous sent out a tweet relating an alleged interaction between Frank Ancona, the self-described “Imperial Wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights,” and a fellow KKK member.

In the missive, Ancona allegedly said those wandering around rural Missouri in a Guy Fawkes mask could “accidentally” find themselves in a hunter’s crosshairs.

“Its deer hunting season here in southern Missouri, it’s really easy to see how a hunter could mistake someone wearing one of those gay anonymous masks for the hind-end of a whitetail deer. Boom!!! Oops sorry it was an accident,” the message reads.

Read more at:

RT logo

 

© Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014. All rights reserved.

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Israel’s Arabs – Marginalised, Angry and Defiant http://www.mintpressnews.com/israels-arabs-marginalised-angry-and-defiant/199191/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/israels-arabs-marginalised-angry-and-defiant/199191/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199191 WASHINGTON - The recent killing of an Arab youth by the police in the Israeli Arab village of Kufr Kanna, outside Nazareth, the ongoing bloody violence in Jerusalem, and the growing tensions between the Israeli security services and the Arab … Continue reading

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A Egyptian woman waves the Palestinian flag during a protest in solidarity with Gaza after Israel launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas' top military commander in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Photo: AP/Nariman El-Mofty

WASHINGTON - The recent killing of an Arab youth by the police in the Israeli Arab village of Kufr Kanna, outside Nazareth, the ongoing bloody violence in Jerusalem, and the growing tensions between the Israeli security services and the Arab community in Israel could be a dangerous omen for Israeli domestic stability and for the region.

Should a third intifada or uprising erupt, it could easily spread to Arab towns and cities inside Israel.

Foreign media is asking whether Palestinians are on the verge of starting a new intifada in Jerusalem, the Occupied Territories, and perhaps in Israel. Ensuing instability would rattle the Israeli body politic, creating new calls from the right for the transfer of the Arab community from Israel.

As Israeli politics moves to the right and the state becomes more Jewish and less pluralistic and inclusive, the Palestinian community, which constitutes over one-fifth of the population, feels more marginalised and alienated.

In response to endemic budgetary, economic, political, and social discrimination, the Arab community is becoming assertive, more Palestinian, and more confrontational. Calls for equality, justice, and an end to systemic discrimination by “Israeli Arab” civil society activists are now more vocal and confrontational.

The Israeli military, police, and security services would find it difficult to contain a civil rights intifada across Israel because Arabs live all over the state, from Galilee in the north to the Negev in the south.

The majority of Arabs in Israel are Sunni Muslims, with a small Druze minority whose youth are conscripted into the Israeli army. The even smaller Christian minority is rapidly dwindling because of emigration.

The vast Muslim majority identifies closely with what is happening at the important religious site of al-Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Islamic State’s territorial expansion in Iraq and Syria and the rise of Salafi groups in Sinai and Gaza will surely impact the Arabs in Israel.

In addition to Arabic, Palestinians in Israel speak Hebrew, travel throughout the country, and know Israel intimately. A potential bloody confrontation with Israeli security forces could wreak havoc on the country.

 

Israeli Arab Spring?

Based on conversations with “Israeli Arab” activists over the years, a possible “intifada” would be grounded in peaceful protests and non-violent civil rights struggle. The Israeli government, like Arab regimes during the Arab Spring, would attempt to delegitimise an “Israeli Arab Spring” by accusing the organisers of supporting terrorism and Islamic radicalism.

One Palestinian activist told me, however, “The protests are not about religion or radicalism; they are about equality, justice, dignity, and civil rights.”

Analysis of the economic, educational, political, and social status of the 1.6 million Arabs in Israel shows not much improvement has occurred since the bloody events of October 2000 in which 13 Arabs were killed during demonstrations in support of the al-Aqsa intifada. In fact, in welfare, health, employment, infrastructure, public services, and housing the situation of Israeli Arabs has retarded in the past decade.

For years, the Arab minority has been called “Israeli Arabs” because they carry the Israeli citizenship or the “’48 Arabs,” which refers to those who stayed in Israel after it came into being in 1948.

Although they have lived with multiple identities—Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, and Israeli—in the past half dozen years, they now reject the “Israeli Arab” moniker and have begun to identify themselves as an indigenous Palestinian community living in Israel.

Arab lawyers have gone to Israeli courts to challenge land confiscation, denial of building permits, refusal to expand the corporate limits of Arab towns and villages, meager budgets given to city and village councils, and limited employment opportunities, especially in state institutions.

In the Negev, or the southern part of Israel, thousands of Arabs live in “unrecognized” towns and villages. These towns often do not appear on Israeli maps! Growing calls by right-wing Zionist and settler politicians and their increasingly virulent “Death to Arabs” messages against the Arab minority have become more shrill and threaten to spark more communal violence between Jews and Arabs across Israel.

Deepening fissures in Israeli society between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority will have long-term implications for a viable future for Arabs and Jews in Palestine.

The Arab community expects tangible engagement initiatives from the government to include allowing Arab towns and villages to expand their corporate limits in order to ease crowding; grant the community more building permits for new houses; let Arabs buy and rent homes in Jewish towns and ethnically mixed cities, especially in Galilee; increase per capita student budgetary allocations to improve services and educational programmes in Arab schools; improve the physical infrastructure of Arab towns and villages; and recognise the “unrecognised” Arab towns in the Negev.

Depending on government policy and regional developments, Israeli Arabs could be either a bridge between Israel and its Arab neighbours or a potential domestic threat to Israel as a Jewish, democratic, or multicultural state. So far, the signs are not encouraging.

The Islamic Movement, which constitutes the vast majority of the Arab community, is also becoming more cognizant of its identity and more active in forging links with other Islamic groups in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

The growing sense of nationalism and Islamisation of the Arab community is directly related to Israel’s occupation policies in the West Bank, continued blockade of the Gaza Strip, and refusal to recognise the Palestinians’ right of self-determination. Long-term government-minority relations in Israel, whether accommodationist or confrontational, will also affect American standing and national interest in the region.

Although secular activists within the Arab community are wary of the Islamist agenda, they seem to collaborate closely with leaders of the Islamic Movement on the need to assert the political rights of Israeli Arabs as full citizens.

In 2006-07, Arab civil society institutions issued three important documents, known collectively as the “Future Vision,” expressing their vision for the future of the Palestinian community in Israel and its relations with the state.

The documents called for “self-reliance” and described the Arab minority as an “indigenous, Palestinian community with inalienable rights to the land on which it has lived for centuries.” The documents also assert the Arabs in Israel are the “original indigenous people of Palestine” and are “indivisible from the larger Palestinian, Arab, Islamic cultural heritage.”

Arab activists believe that recent Israeli policies toward the Palestinian minority and their representatives in the Knesset are undermining the integrationist effort, empowering the Islamist separatist argument, and deepening the feeling of alienation among the Arab minority.

 

Way forward

Recent events clearly demonstrate that the Arabs in Israel are no longer a quiescent, cultural minority but an “indigenous national” minority deserving full citizenship rights regarding resources, collective rights, and representation on formal state bodies.

Many of the conditions that gave rise to the bloody confrontation with the police on Temple Mount over a decade ago, including the demolition of housing, restrictions on Arab politicians and Knesset members, restrictive citizenship laws, and budgetary discriminatory laws remain in place.

A decade ago the International Crisis Group (ICG) anticipated the widespread negative consequences of discrimination against Israel’s Arab minority and its findings still stand. Perhaps most importantly, the organisation judged the probability of violence to remain high as long as “greater political polarization, frustration among Arab Israelis, deepening Arab alienation from the political system, and the deteriorating economic situation” are not addressed.

In order to avoid large-scale violence, the ICG recommended that the Israeli government invest in poor Arab areas, end all facets of economic, political, and social discrimination against the Arab community, increase Arab representation at all levels in the public sector, and implement racism awareness training in schools and in all branches of government, beginning with the police.

A poor, marginalised one-fifth of the Israeli population perceived as a demographic bomb and a threat to the Jewish identity of the state can only be defused by a serious engagement strategy—economically, educationally, culturally, and politically.

If violence and continued discrimination are part of Israel’s long-term strategy against its Arab minority to force Arab emigration, it is unlikely that the government would implement tangible initiatives to improve the condition of the Arab minority.

Accordingly, communal violence in Israel would increase, creating negative ramifications for regional peace and stability and for U.S. interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

Copyright © 2014 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.

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Proposal For International Anti-Corruption Court Seeing “Significant” Momentum http://www.mintpressnews.com/proposal-international-anti-corruption-court-seeing-significant-momentum/199188/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/proposal-international-anti-corruption-court-seeing-significant-momentum/199188/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:03 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199188 “In the developed world we can make the mistake of seeing corruption as merely stealing money, but in fact political corruption kills more people than war and famine put together – 140,000 children a year." Continue reading

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Philippines Oil Price Hike Protest

Protesters throw used oil at the seal of Shell Oil Company, one of the so-called Big 3 oil firms in the country, to protest a new round of gasoline and other oil products Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 2014 - The key U.S. advocate of a proposal to create a multilateral body mandated to investigate allegations of political corruption says the idea is receiving significant interest from civil society, politicians and major business leaders.

Mark L. Wolf, a U.S. federal judge, first proposed the idea of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) in two articles this summer (available here and here). Since that time, Wolf told a recent briefing at the U.S. Congress, the proposal has seen “remarkable progress”.

“There are, of course, challenges to refining the concept of an IACC,” Wolf told a House of Representatives committee last week. “However, since July 2014 significant support has developed for meeting these challenges.”

Wolf reported ongoing meetings with U.S. officials and the World Bank, and reported that the new United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, has made the IACC proposal a “personal priority”. Hussein was a key force in the creation of the International Criminal Court, a potential model for the IACC.

This week, Wolf is addressing representatives of major global companies.

“American companies generally want to behave ethically and, in addition, are significantly deterred by the threat of prosecution,” Wolf stated. “They know they would benefit from the more level playing field an IACC would provide.”

Indeed, many say the speed with which the congressional committee moved to hold last week’s briefing is remarkable. It underscores a uniquely broad consensus, both domestically and internationally, around the need to crack down on what is referred to as “grand corruption” – the abuse of political office for personal gain.

Increasingly, this issue is being seen as less one of theft than of basic human rights.

“Today’s briefing seeks to foster an understanding that human rights and anti-corruption efforts are inseparable,” James McGovern, the member of Congress who chaired the committee’s discussions, stated in opening remarks.

“Currently, there is a lack of reference to human rights in international anti-corruption commitments and, conversely, the lack of reference to corruption in international human rights instruments.”

 

140,000 children a year

Grand corruption is today thought to eat up more than five percent of global gross domestic product. According to estimates cited by Judge Wolf, illicit financial flows out of developing countries are 10 times larger than the foreign assistance those countries receive – losses that have direct human consequences.

“In the developed world we can make the mistake of seeing corruption as merely stealing money, but in fact political corruption kills more people than war and famine put together – 140,000 children a year, by our estimates,” Akaash Maharaj, the executive director of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), told IPS.

“If a political actor were to kill that many people, there would be very few people who wouldn’t say that we have to deal with this problem. But those who bring about human suffering through political corruption are no less guilty.”

GOPAC, which includes legislators from almost every country, has been mobilising around the need for concerted international action against corruption for the past three years. Maharaj says that his organization’s membership has lost faith in the ability of many countries to deal with political corruption at the national level.

While there are international mechanisms that threaten penalties for egregious human rights abuse, for the most part corruption continues to fall into a nebulous zone of national responsibility. Existing multilateral agreements, including the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which came into effect in 2003, lack substantive enforcement mechanisms.

Yet while anti-corruption legislation exists in almost every country, advocates note that many of the most corrupt officials are often able to use their wealth and power to subvert these laws. These figures are typically the least likely to face domestic justice, and thus can come to expect impunity.

“There are certain crimes so beyond the pale and beyond state capacity to prosecute that it becomes appropriate for the international community and for international law to become engaged. Certainly the harm grand corruption causes in many developing countries is enormous,” Zorka Milin, a legal adviser with Global Witness, a watchdog group, told IPS.

“An international court would be a good mechanism for trying to translate that momentum into meaningful accountability, which we haven’t really seen so far. It’s important to frame the discussion in terms of ending impunity, and this court would be one piece of that, together with other legal anticorruption tools at the domestic level.”

Under Wolf’s proposal, an IACC would be mandated to investigate and prosecute officials from countries that are unable or unwilling to undertake such actions on their own. He suggests making acceptance of the proposed court’s jurisdiction a pre-condition for membership under the Convention Against Corruption or at the World Trade Organisation, or for obtaining loans from multilateral banks.

 

Inevitable, unclear action

The global discussion today is increasingly conducive to some sort of concerted global action against political corruption. In part, this trend is driven by strengthened concern around the effects that tax evasion is having on public coffers in both developed and developing countries.

“Unquestionably, there is today more momentum and awareness on the issue of grand corruption, and that’s the major reason these issues are rising on the international agenda,” Milin says.

GOPAC’s Maharaj agrees. “I’m struck by the extraordinary level of consensus across the world,” he says. “This is absolutely inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Exactly what should be done about the issue, however, remains highly contentious. There are multiple potential options, after all, with an international court being just one.

Others include expanding the purview of the International Criminal Court or other regional human rights courts. Likewise, the jurisdiction of national judicial systems could be enlarged to be able to deal with allegations of corruption in other countries.

Another possibility could be to coordinate national legislation – and priority – in developed countries, aimed at seizing the assets of or denying visas to corrupt officials. While this would not result in jail time, it would make it harder to spend ill-gotten wealth while simultaneously emphasising international disapproval.

Importantly, some countries have become increasingly aggressive in this regard in recent years, particularly the United States and Switzerland. Watchdog groups say these nascent initiatives are important and already having impact.

“Over the last eight years there’s been growing official action against kleptocracy in the U.S. and elsewhere,” Arvind Ganesan, the head of the business and human rights programme at Human Rights Watch, told IPS.

“Strengthening those efforts now – meaning fully resourcing and expanding them, and pushing other countries to put in place similar policies – will build momentum towards an International Anti-Corruption Court.”

Copyright © 2014 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.

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Why On Earth Are Police Going to A Class Called “Killology” And Training To Be “Warriors”? http://www.mintpressnews.com/why-on-earth-are-police-going-to-a-class-called-killology-and-training-to-be-warriors/199177/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/why-on-earth-are-police-going-to-a-class-called-killology-and-training-to-be-warriors/199177/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:50:09 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199177 In his classes, Grossman instructs the officers to be “warriors”, and has even created promotional material for the classes that say “Are you prepared for battle?” Continue reading

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killologyThe Free Thought Project Reports:

Albuquerque, New Mexico – Just over a week after the City of Albuquerque signed an agreement with the Department of Justice, promising to scale back aggressive police tactics and address police brutality, the Albuquerque Police Department has found themselves in the midst of another scandal.

This week, it was revealed by local KRQE News 13 that a retired Albuquerque Police Officer was teaching a class that was seemingly designed to instruct other cops on how to be more aggressive.

The class is run and operated by retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, and is called “killology – the study of killing.” The retired officer instructs a number of similar classes, including his most recent, “The Bulletproof Mind: Prevailing in Violent Encounters Before and After.”

Grossman Refers to himself as “World’s Leading Combat Authority.”

In his classes, Grossman instructs the officers to be “warriors”, and has even created promotional material for the classes that say “Are you prepared for battle?”

These classes were exposed earlier this month when officer Fernando Aragon promoted for one of Grossman’s lessons using a city email account.

Aragon now claims that he was not sending out the email to endorse the program, but to just “make the other officers aware of it.”

Police accountability activists have pointed out that these classes are a sign of the aggressive culture that exists at the APD, and police departments across the country.

“The DOJ was quite clear that we need to shift away from a mentality of viewing all citizens as enemy combatants of some sort. I think at this point of time, when reform is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we want to do whatever we can to break down the model that equates police work with war. This training clearly does that,” ACLU Director Peter Simonson told KRQE News 13.

The mayor and the police chief have both refused to comment on the issue, stating that it was none of their business.

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4 Sunni Groups Responsible For 66% Of All Terrorism Related Deaths In 2013 http://www.mintpressnews.com/4-sunni-groups-responsible-for-66-of-all-terrorism-realted-deaths-in-2013/199174/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/4-sunni-groups-responsible-for-66-of-all-terrorism-realted-deaths-in-2013/199174/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:39:29 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199174 The official state sect of the Saudi monarchy, Salafism (an offshoot of Sunni Islam) was found to be responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in 2013. Continue reading

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Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and head of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, prays at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque during Eid al-Fitr morning prayers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

(CNSNews.com) – The number of people killed by terrorists worldwide in 2013 rose by 60 percent compared to the previous year – from 11,133 to 17,958 – with four Sunni Muslim extremist groups responsible for two-thirds of all fatalities, according to a comprehensive annual study.

Eighty-two percent of fatalities occurred in just five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, although the number of countries that experienced more than 50 terror-related deaths also rose – to 24, compared with 15 the previous year.

Among the many findings in the new Global Terrorism Index, a project of the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, is one that calls into question claims that poverty is a key driver of terrorism.

“One of the most important findings in this report is that there is not a strong statistical link between poverty and terrorism,” it says. “Many people who join terrorist groups in wealthy countries are well educated and come from middle class families.”

“Other measures which didn’t correlate include life expectancy, mean years of schooling and economic factors such as GDP growth.”

Socio-economic, governance and attitudinal variables that showed the most significant correlation with terrorism were political stability, intergroup cohesion and legitimacy of the state.

Read more at

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All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2014. Cybercast News Service.

 

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US Transfers 5 More Guantanamo Detainees To Slovakia And Georgia http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-transfers-5-guantanamo-detainees-slovakia-georgia/199170/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-transfers-5-guantanamo-detainees-slovakia-georgia/199170/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:30:25 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199170 There are now 143 detainees still at the US military facility in Cuba. Continue reading

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Guantanamo

A detainee is carried by military police after being interrogated by officials at Camp X-Ray at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — After a decade at the US Naval base, five Guantanamo Bay detainees left their jail cells on Thursday to board a C-17 Air Force plane bound for new soil.

The men are being transferred to Slovakia and Georgia, reducing the count of detainees in Guantanamo Bay to 143. One is a Tunisian national and four are from Yemen. All had affiliations with Al Qaeda, but the United States has now deemed they do not pose a significant threat.

Only one of the detainees currently at Guantanamo Bay is convicted of a crime. Within the first few days of his presidency in 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the detention facility, following a campaign promise that he has yet to make good on. During his administration 95 detainees have been transferred to other countries while the military prison in Cuba has remained open.

Since 2002 the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station has held detainees for alleged war crimes against the US, but more than half of them are no longer considered significant threats, according to an executive order task force made up of representatives from six government agencies and departments. Members of that low-risk group are eligible for transfer.

The challenge is finding countries that will take them. While Obama originally suggested a detention facility in Illinois for all the detainees, the National Defense Authorization Act prevents the Defense Department from spending money on transferring detainees to US soil.

“His hands are kind of tied,” said Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, the Pentagon’s spokesman for detainee policy.

It’s up to the countries that accept transfers to decide whether a Guantanamo detainee will remain in detention or be released. Destination-country representatives interview the detainees before they are transferred, and the foreign governments decide whether to transition them into the work force. Some have been set up with jobs and language classes while still at Guantanamo Bay to help with resettlement.

Last week Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and six other senators visited Guantanamo Bay calling for its closure.

“The detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not make us safer, and it is wildly expensive,” Manchin said in a statement. “The status quo is not an acceptable solution, and I am confident we can find a solution that protects Americans and responsibly manages our tax dollars.”

Caggins said that it’s a slow process for the Defense Department to make good on Obama’s executive order.

“There’s no magic key, get a plane and throw somebody on it,” Caggins said.

In total, 47 countries have taken Guantanamo Bay detainees. Slovakia and Georgia, which received the new transfers on Thursday, have previously accepted detainees from the facility, according to data maintained by The New York Times and NPR.

The men transferred on Thursday were Hashim Bin Ali Bin Amor Sliti of Tunisia and Yemenis Husayn Salim Muhammad Al-Mutari Yafai, Salah Mohammed Salih Al-Dhabi, Abdel Ghaib Ahmad Hakim, and Abdul Khaled Al-Baydani.

Congress was notified of the transfers.

Hayat Norimine is a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism based in Washington, DC.

Copyright 2014 GlobalPost

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Senator: White House Simply Doesn’t “Want Public To Know” Scope Of CIA Torture http://www.mintpressnews.com/senator-white-house-simply-doesnt-want-public-know-scope-cia-torture/199166/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/senator-white-house-simply-doesnt-want-public-know-scope-cia-torture/199166/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:23:07 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199166 Members of Intelligence Committee say White House is stalling release of torture report as high-level disagreement over what American people can know about abuses by CIA reaches boiling point; Transparency advocates tell lawmakers with access to report, 'Just read it into the record.' Continue reading

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Yonas Fikre, center, a Portland, Oregon Muslim American talks to media with his U.S. attorney Thomas Nelson, left, and Swedish lawyer Hans Bredberg, right, in Stockholm, Sweden, April 18, 2012. After a 2010 trip to visit family in Khartoum, Sudan, Fikre claims to have been detained and tortured. Put on a FBI no-fly list, Fikre is now unable to return home to the U.S. (AP Photo / Claudio Bresciani)

Yonas Fikre, center, a Portland, Oregon Muslim American talks to media with his U.S. attorney Thomas Nelson, left, and Swedish lawyer Hans Bredberg, right, in Stockholm, Sweden, April 18, 2012. After a 2010 trip to visit family in Khartoum, Sudan, Fikre claims to have been detained and tortured. Put on a FBI no-fly list, Fikre is now unable to return home to the U.S. (AP/Claudio Bresciani)

“The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”

That’s what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told the Huffington Post on Thursday night regarding continued White House stalling over release of a report that catalogs the internal investigation of CIA torture during the Bush years. The comments followed a close-door meeting between Senate Democrats and Obama administration officials that took place just hours before the president gave a much-anticipated speech on another subject, immigration reform.

Rockefeller said the torture report is “being slow-walked to death” by the administration and told the HuffPost, “They’re doing everything they can not to release it.”

“[The report] makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad,” Rockefeller continued, “which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future.”

Though the report has been completed for many months, the members of the Senate Intelligence committee have been fighting with the White House, which allowed CIA officials to review its findings, over the scope of redactions to the report’s summary before it’s made public. Though the full report is not expected to be released to publicly, human rights and transparency advocates have urged members to simply enter the report into the public record, something they have legal authority to do, as a way to inform the American people, and the world, of the full scope of the tactics used by U.S. government agents during the earlier years of the so-called ‘war on terror.’

The New York Times reports:

During a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill with Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, the senators said that the White House was siding with the C.I.A. and trying to thwart negotiations over the report’s release. The negotiations have dragged on for months because of a dispute over the C.I.A.’s demand that pseudonyms of agency officers be deleted from the report.

The C.I.A., supported by the White House, has argued that even without using the real names of the officers, their identities could still be revealed.

According to several people in attendance, the meeting was civil, but neither side gave ground, and it ended without resolution. The Senate Intelligence Committee spent five years working on the 6,000-page report, which is said to provide grim details about the torture of detainees in C.I.A. prisons during the Bush administration, and describe a persistent effort by C.I.A. officials to mislead the White House and Congress about the efficacy of its interrogation techniques. The committee voted this year to declassify the report’s executive summary, numbering several hundred pages, but the fight over redactions has delayed the release.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), also member of the committee, characterized the CIA’s arguments for leaving the report heavily redacted “ludicrous.”  Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the version under discussion would leave all but 15 percent of the report blacked-out. “Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out—” Heinrich said. “It can’t be done properly.”

Chair of the Intelligence Comittee Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) has let her frustrations be known but has not made clear what she intends to do in order to move the White House towards greater transparency on the report.

As the HuffPost reports:

Feinstein declined to discuss the meeting with reporters Thursday. “I ain’t talkin’,” she said.

Rockefeller said the administration’s unwillingness to use aliases reflects a broader contempt for congressional oversight.

“The White House doesn’t want to release this. They don’t have to. And all we do is oversight, and they’ve never taken our oversight seriously,” he said. (He then added that he did allow for one exception, the Church Committee.) “Under Bush there was no oversight at all. Remember the phrase, ‘Congress has been briefed’? What that meant was that I and our chairman [...] and two comparable people in the House had met with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney in his office for 45 minutes and given a little whirley birdie and a couple charts.”

“They had a specialty for being unforthcoming in our efforts at oversight,” he added, “and therefore there is no incentive for them to change their behavior.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of advocacy groups—including RootsAction, Demand Progress, Win Without War, CodePink, USAction, and others—argue the senators on the Intelligence Committe have another path if they truly want to give the public a look at the scope of the abuses perpetrated by the CIA. And, according to the groups, the senators have no obligation to wait for permission from the White House to act. As the coalition points out in a statement,  “Members of Congress have an absolute right to free speech, and a member could enter the report into the Congressional Record in its entirety—just as the Pentagon Papers were by Senator Mike Gravel in 1971—without fear of prosecution.”

A online petition sponsored by the coalition, which they intend to deliver to members of the committee, reads in part:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report” is expected to detail shocking abuse of prisoners at the hands of the CIA during the Bush administration, and even possible CIA lying to Congress.

But seven months after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly to release the report to the American people, the White House is stonewalling Congress and demanding “redactions”—blacked-out sections and information—before making its contents public.

The group has put particular focus on outgoing Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to step forward and release the report. Udall lost his re-election bid earlier this month and will be leaving the Senate in January. Signers of the petition say that if Udall, or other members in a position to do so, take the “heroic and courageous act” of releasing the full report,  “we and countless others will support you.”

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Racial Gap In U.S. Arrest Rates Show ‘Staggering Disparity’ http://www.mintpressnews.com/racial-gap-u-s-arrest-rates-show-staggering-disparity/199161/ http://www.mintpressnews.com/racial-gap-u-s-arrest-rates-show-staggering-disparity/199161/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:41:43 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=199161 At least 70 departments scattered from Connecticut to California arrested black people at a rate 10 times higher than people who are not black, USA TODAY found.

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Police Shooting Missouri FundraisingWhen it comes to racially lopsided arrests, the most remarkable thing about Ferguson, Mo., might be just how ordinary it is.

Police in Ferguson — which erupted into days of racially charged unrest after a white officer killed an unarmed black teen — arrest black people at a rate nearly three times higher than people of other races.

At least 1,581 other police departments across the USA arrest black people at rates even more skewed than in Ferguson, a USA TODAY analysis of arrest records shows. That includes departments in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit.

Those disparities are easier to measure than they are to explain. They could be a reflection of biased policing; they could just as easily be a byproduct of the vast economic and educational gaps that persist across much of the USA — factors closely tied to crime rates. In other words, experts said, the fact that such disparities exist does little to explain their causes.

“That does not mean police are discriminating. But it does mean it’s worth looking at. It means you might have a problem, and you need to pay attention,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, a leading expert on racial profiling.

Whatever the reasons, the results are the same: Blacks are far more likely to be arrested than any other racial group in the USA. In some places, dramatically so.

Read more at:

USATODAY

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