I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
Until they got a hold of me
I opened doors for little old ladies
I helped the blind to see
I got no friends cause they read the papers
They cant be seen with me and Im getting shot down
And Im feeling mean
Top Bush aides pushed for Guantánamo torture
Senior officials bypassed army chief to introduce interrogation methods
America’s most senior general was “hoodwinked” by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture.
The way he was duped by senior officials in Washington, who believed the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date, is disclosed in a devastating account of their role, extracts of which appear in today’s Guardian.
McCain, Iraq War and the Threat of ‘Al Qaeda’
As he campaigns with the weight of a deeply unpopular war on his shoulders, Senator John McCain of Arizona frequently uses the shorthand “Al Qaeda” to describe the enemy in Iraq in pressing to stay the course in the war there.
“Al Qaeda is on the run, but they’re not defeated” is his standard line on how things are going in Iraq. When chiding the Democrats for wanting to withdraw troops, he has been known to warn that “Al Qaeda will then have won.” In an attack this winter on Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic front-runner, Mr. McCain went further, warning that if American forces withdrew, Al Qaeda would be “taking a country.”
Groundings Prompt FAA Safety Overhaul
Committee to Monitor Airlines’ Maintenance
The nation’s top transportation official yesterday announced steps that she said will improve oversight of airlines’ compliance with safety mandates and ensure that last week’s mass groundings and flight cancellations do not recur.
The measures included establishing a roving team of officials to conduct comprehensive checks of airline maintenance practices and the creation of a system to better track the status of looming and overdue inspections, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said.
Operation targets Basra militants
Iraqi forces in the southern city of Basra have launched a fresh operation against militants.
The operation, which apparently sought to seize illegally held weapons, opened with a massive display of firepower by supporting US and UK forces.
BBC sources said the operation first met fierce resistance. But the latest reports say the violence has subsided.
Meanwhile, clashes in Baghdad’s Sadr City district are said to have claimed seven lives since Friday.
The district is Baghdad’s main Shia militia stronghold and is the site of frequent confrontations between fighters and Iraqi and coalition forces.
Tensions have also been increased by the construction of a wall in the district by US and Iraqi forces.
Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army
In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Saturday, 19 April 2008
The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.
The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten “to a pulp” when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.
Chinese troops are on the streets of Zimbabwean city, witnesses say
Chinese troops have been seen on the streets of Zimbabwe’s third largest city, Mutare, according to local witnesses. They were seen patrolling with Zimbabwean soldiers before and during Tuesday’s ill-fated general strike called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Earlier, 10 Chinese soldiers armed with pistols checked in at the city’s Holiday Inn along with 70 Zimbabwean troops.
One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “We’ve never seen Chinese soldiers in full regalia on our streets before. The entire delegation took 80 rooms from the hotel, 10 for the Chinese and 70 for Zimbabwean soldiers.”
Eight days of fear in Mugabe’s machine
He may be aged, isolated and facing economic ruin, but Robert Mugabe still clings to power thanks to a feared state security apparatus that continues to function across Zimbabwe.
As the 84-year-old leader marked nearly three decades in power yesterday with a defiant speech against Britain, the Africa correspondent of The Times recalled, just 48 hours after his release from jail, his experiences of Mr Mugabe’s ruthless regime.
Jonathan Clayton spent eight days imprisoned in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, where he was interrogated, beaten and tortured by a senior officer in the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). He was eventually released after paying a Z$20 billion fine, about £200, for misleading an immigration officer.
Guantanamo Britons to sue MI5 over ‘illegal interrogation’
The three men from Tipton launched a lawsuit against the American authorities two years ago, alleging they were mistreated during their time in captivity. The US Court of Appeal dismissed their action earlier this year but they are appealing to the Supreme Court.
Eight men freed from Guantanamo Bay are suing the British Government for millions of pounds, claiming that it was complicit in the process in which they were detained and sent for interrogation at the detention camp.
The group have issued writs against MI5 and MI6 and said that the British authorities had knowledge of their illegal abduction, treatment and interrogation.
EU set to scrap biofuels target amid fears of food crisis
The European commission is backing away from its insistence on imposing a compulsory 10% quota of biofuels in all petrol and diesel by 2020, a central plank of its programme to lead the world in combating climate change.
Amid a worsening global food crisis exacerbated, say experts and critics, by the race to divert food or feed crops into biomass for the manufacture of vehicle fuel, and inundated by a flood of expert advice criticising the shift to renewable fuel, the commission appears to be getting cold feet about its biofuels target.
Under the proposals, to be turned into law within a year, biofuels are to supply a tenth of all road vehicle fuel by 2020 as part of the drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the same deadline.
The 10% target is “binding” under the proposed legislation. But pressed by its scientific advisers, UN authorities, leaders in Europe, non-government organisations and environmental lobbies, the commission is engaged in a rethink.
Tibetan protesters defy police crackdown in western China
Fresh Tibetan protests have broken out in Qinghai, western China, despite the heavy security presence, residents and activist groups said yesterday.
The groups said police had beaten and detained monks and others who were calling for the release of protesters held after demonstrations last month.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy – based in north India, at the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile – claimed that more than 100 lamas, and others from Tongren (also known as Rebkong), were detained on Thursday.
Tongren hotel staff confirmed that a demonstration had taken place.
“Today there’s no more protests. Those people were all seized,” one receptionist said.
North Korean defectors send leaflets home
GANGHWA ISLAND, South Korea – A group of North Korean defectors sent helium balloons carrying some 60,000 leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to their homeland from a South Korean island on Saturday.
The leaflets also contained Bible verses as well as $1 bills in an apparent attempt to lure North Koreans into picking them up.
“Our purpose is to urge North Koreans to bring down the dictatorship with their hands,” said Park Sang-hak, the organizer of the campaign, as seven other defectors released balloons on Ganghwa island, near the heavily fortified western border.
Leftist former bishop set for victory in Paraguay election
A former Catholic bishop popular with the poor is favoured to win Paraguay’s presidential election on Sunday and sweep away six decades of one-party rule.
Opinion polls give Fernando Lugo a narrow lead, which could be enough to usher him in as the newest member of Latin America’s “pink tide” of leftist governments.
The bearded 57-year-old heads the Patriotic Alliance for Change, a coalition of centre and centre-left opposition parties, grassroots political movements, farmers groups and other social organisations.
The Colorado party, the world’s longest-ruling party still in power, has responded to the mood for change by fielding a female candidate, Blanca Ovelar.