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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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Guantanamo guards denying water to hunger strikers to thwart protest, say lawyers

Guantanamo Bay
© Cryptome.org

Military personnel inspect each occupied cell on a two-minute cycle at Camp 5 maximum-security facility at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Oct. 9, 2007
Prisoner health quickly deteriorating as Red Cross begins investigation

Prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay are now being denied water among other abuses as prison guards attempt to force them off the strike, the prisoners' lawyers said Wednesday.

Several of the prisoners' lawyers have filed an emergency motion in a federal court in Washington saying guards are refusing to provide drinking water to the hunger strikers and have kept camp temperatures "extremely frigid" in an effort to "to thwart the protest."

"The reality is that these men are slowly withering away and we as a country need to take immediate action," said Mari Newman, a human rights lawyer based in Denver, who was among those who submitted the motion.

The lawyers said that the prisoners' lack of drinkable water has "already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary and stomach problems," in addition to the health effects of the hunger strike.

Lawyers have said that the majority of the 166 men held at Guantanamo have joined the hunger strike, while many are now suffering severe health risks from the lack of sustenance. US military officials have refused to admit to these numbers, however, and continuously report to the media significantly lower numbers - this week 31.


Critics slam Obama for "protecting" Monsanto

© robertscottbell.com
There's no love lost between Washington and the American public, it seems, five days after Congress for the first time in years managed to handle a budget-related issue without reaching the brink of crisis.

Protesters have descended on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House this week, enraged at a potentially health-hazardous provision they allege lawmakers inserted surreptitiously into a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill sailed through the Capitol on Friday; President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.

Opponents have termed the language in question the "Monsanto Protection Act," a nod to the major agricultural biotech corporation and other like firms geared at producing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation suits over health risks posed by the crops' consumption.


The fun-filled ocean resort at Guantánamo Bay

© John Moore/Getty Images
Guantánamo inmates kneel at prayers.
A growing hunger strike among detainees is mocked by gullible journalists spouting familiar Potemkin Village propaganda

If you're looking for a fun activity-filled resort to take your family for a summer vacation, you simply cannot do better than Club GTMO, according to a new glossy travel guide just published by Robert Johnson, the Military and Defense Editor of Business Insider, under the guise of a news article. Scrumptious meals. Video games galore for the kids. Outdoor sports. Newspapers from your hometown delivered by smiling bellhops to the front door of your villa. Picturesque Caribbean vistas. All that and more can be yours - provided that you're "compliant". What more could vacationers - or prisoners kept in a cage for more than a decade with no charges thousands of miles away from their family - possibly want? They are, proclaims Johnson, treated "absurdly well". Not just well: absurdly well. They are, he actually writes, lavished with "resort treatment".

The context for Johnson's glowing thumbs-up is an intensifying hunger strike among (totally ungrateful) prisoners at the camp. Lawyers for the detainees say the hunger strike was triggered "as a protest of the men's indefinite confinement without charge and because of what they said was a return to harsh treatment from past years, including more intrusive searches and confiscation of personal items such as mail from their families." That includes, the lawyers say, a lack of sanitary drinking water which has "already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary and stomach problems". Detainees also complain about the recent manhandling of Korans. One lawyer for 11 detainees, Carlos Warner, identifying himself as a "liberal" supporter of Obama, told CNN that the detainees are now deprived of some privileges they had all the way back in 2006 and said the situation there was "dire".

The US military, needless to say, denies these claims. While detainee lawyers insist that the overwhelming majority of detainees are participating in the hunger strike, US military officials claim that "only" 31 of the 166 are doing so. They do acknowledge that some are being force-fed, a few have been hospitalized for dehydration, and that more and more are participating in the strike. As the New York Times' Charlie Savage notes this morning, the conflicting claims are difficult to resolve. That is in part because journalists have very restricted access to the camp and no access to the detainees.


Domestic drones and their unique dangers


AR Drone: almost certainly the world's first Wi-Fi enabled iPhone-controllable miniature flying device.
Dismissive claims that drones do nothing more than helicopters and satellites already do are wildly misinformed

The use of drones by domestic US law enforcement agencies is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and types of usage. As a result, civil liberties and privacy groups led by the ACLU - while accepting that domestic drones are inevitable - have been devoting increasing efforts to publicizing their unique dangers and agitating for statutory limits. These efforts are being impeded by those who mock the idea that domestic drones pose unique dangers (often the same people who mock concern over their usage on foreign soil). This dismissive posture is grounded not only in soft authoritarianism (a religious-type faith in the Goodness of US political leaders and state power generally) but also ignorance over current drone capabilities, the ways drones are now being developed and marketed for domestic use, and the activities of the increasingly powerful domestic drone lobby. So it's quite worthwhile to lay out the key under-discussed facts shaping this issue.

I'm going to focus here most on domestic surveillance drones, but I want to say a few words about weaponized drones. The belief that weaponized drones won't be used on US soil is patently irrational. Of course they will be. It's not just likely but inevitable. Police departments are already speaking openly about how their drones "could be equipped to carry nonlethal weapons such as Tasers or a bean-bag gun." The drone industry has already developed and is now aggressively marketing precisely such weaponized drones for domestic law enforcement use. It likely won't be in the form that has received the most media attention: the type of large Predator or Reaper drones that shoot Hellfire missiles which destroy homes and cars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and multiple other countries aimed at Muslims (although US law enforcement agencies already possess Predator drones and have used them over US soil for surveillance).


More fear mongering: U.S. sends stealth bombers to South Korea for military drills

The US has deployed two nuclear-capable stealth bombers to South Korea for military drills. The move is likely to increase tension with North Korea, which has already issued threats over its displeasure with the drills.

The B-2 stealth bombers flew practice runs over South Korea Thursday, dropping dummy munitions on an island range. A nuclear-capable B-52 bomber made a similar run earlier this week.

"This mission by two B-2 Spirit bombers assigned to the 509th bomb wing ... demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will," the United States Forces in Korea said in a statement.

The stealth bombers flew from a US airbase in Missouri and returned home after dropping their dummy munitions. It was unclear whether the stealth bombers have been used in past drills with South Korea, but it is the first time the military has announced their use.


Fear mongering: North Korea puts rockets on standby to 'mercilessly strike' the U.S.

North Korea's leader approved a plan to prepare standby rockets to hit U.S. targets, state media said Friday, after American stealth bombers carried out a practice mission over South Korea.

In a meeting with military leaders early Friday, Kim Jong Un "said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation," the state-run KCNA news agency reported.

The rockets are aimed at U.S. targets, including military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, it said.

"If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, (we) should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea," KCNA reported.

Gold Bar

Marc Faber: Not even gold will save you from what is coming

© Bloomberg Television
Marc Faber
Marc Faber, who authors the Gloom Boom & Doom newsletter, is usually pretty bearish on stocks and bullish on gold.

Lately, though, gold doesn't seem like it can catch a bid.

"Despite the continued reverberations regarding the Cyprus bailout and its involvement of bank deposits, gold struggled to maintain the positive momentum created in the first two weeks of March and instead now looks very likely to move lower, towards $1580/oz," wrote Deutsche Bank commodities analyst Xiao Fu in a note this morning.

So, what does Faber have to say about it?


Caterpillar destroys livelihoods in Europe and Palestine

© Nedal Eshtayah / APA images
Palestinians pay tribute to Rachel Corrie on the tenth anniversary of her murder — with the aid of a Caterpillar bulldozer.
Like many Palestine solidarity activists, I've long regarded Caterpillar as a callous firm. A trip to the Belgian city of Charleroi over the weekend reinforced this view.

Caterpillar recently announced that it is shedding 1,400 jobs from its Charleroi plant. The measure has been presented as "indispensable" for reasons of "competitiveness" by Nicolas Polutnik, the plant's chief executive. His rationale merits contempt. Caterpillar, which raked in a profit of almost $5.7 billion last year, is lengthening the dole queues in a city where unemployment already exceeds 20 percent.

War against workers

Far from having no other option than to "downsize," it is waging an ideological war against workers' rights. As the second largest US employer in the country, Caterpillar plays an active role in the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. This grouping has seized on the global economic crisis to try and unravel hard-won gains by the country's labor movement. One of the chamber's top targets at the moment is automatic wage indexation - a requirement that employers increase their workers' pay when the cost of living rises.

Caterpillar's cruel disregard for the firm's own employees chimes completely with its support for Israeli apartheid. Documents published by the Israeli embassy in Brussels list Caterpillar machines made in Charleroi as being among Belgium's top exports to Israel.

Star of David

Crushing defeat for Israel lobby as anti-boycott litigation fails in UK

A British judge comprehensively dismissed a high-profile legal attack on the University and College Union, it emerged on Monday. The case was brought after democratic union bodies discussed boycotts of Israel.

An Employment Tribunal ruled the claim of "institutional anti-Semitism," brought by union member and Academic Friends of Israel director Ronnie Fraser, was dismissed on all counts.

The ruling is a dramatic and comprehensive defeat for the Israeli "lawfare" strategy, and may even have backfired for its proponents who today descended into acrimonious internal back-biting.


Egypt: Naval forces capture 3 scuba divers trying to sabotage undersea Internet cable

© courtesy Dead Sea Divers
Divers in the Dead Sea
Egypt's military spokesman says the country's naval forces have captured three scuba divers who were trying to sabotage an undersea Internet cable in the Mediterranean, while telecommunications executives blamed a week-long Internet slowdown on damage caused to another cable by a ship.

Comment: Meanwhile, on the same day, off the coast of Pakistan...

March 27, 2013: Pakistan's underwater cable damaged: Internet speed plummets by 60% nationwide

Then just over a year ago, we reported on another spate of undersea cable cuts...

March 3, 2012: Undersea Internet Cables Cut AGAIN!

Between this and the hysteria being whipped up around North Korea's counter-provocations, just what are the Powers That Be up to?

Perhaps their military satellites (the ones they don't share data from) have picked up an imminent cosmic hazard, so they're cooking up a diversion they hope will keep the masses under control?