"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, March 25, 2011

Whitney Houston - Miracle (Anti-Abortion Song) - Video

Libyan Sinkhole

Forces Loyal to Gaddafi Bombed

The U.S. signed on for another war this past weekend with Libya. The action came after a much hyped U.N. Security Council resolution last week that allowed coalition nations “. . . to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country. . .” The main component of the resolution is to enforce “a no-fly zone” so Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, cannot use air strikes against his own people. This seems to be a noble action backed by the U.N. and the Arab League.

With missile and air strikes underway, there are many unanswered questions. There seems to be no clear definition of the mission by the President. Saturday, Obama said, I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action . . . The use of force is not our first choice and it’s not one I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” I am sure the President understands the risks, but what exactly are the goals of the mission? The President has said “Gaddafi has to go.” However, Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the operation is “limited” and “potentially one outcome”is Gaddafi could stay in power.

There are many mind boggling questions. How will we know if we have accomplished our goals if they are unstated? How long will we bomb Libya? A week? A month? A year? What happens if the rebels break the cease fire and mount a counterattack against Gaddafi? Will we, then, bomb them? The governments of Yemen and Bahrain are shooting protesters there; why don’t we push for “no-fly zones” in those countries? Speaker of the House, John Boehner, seems to support the action but also said yesterday, Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.” (Click here to read Mr. Boehner’s complete story from Politco.com.)

Other Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham, wholeheartedly support the assault against Gaddafi and want him removed from power. Graham calls the Libyan leader a “criminal” and wants a full investigation into his role in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. But other Republicans, such as Congressman Ron Paul, say the “no-fly zone is an act of war,” and it is unconstitutional without Congressional approval. Congressman Paul also thinks U.S. involvement in the no-fly zone is a very bad idea. (Click here for Rep. Paul’s complete Congressional address from March 10.)

Representative Paul isn’t the only one questioning the military attack in Libya. Members of the President’s own party are reportedly fuming over the missile strike taken over the weekend. A Politico.com story on Saturday said, “. . . the objections from a vocal group of anti-war Democrats on Capitol Hill could become a political problem for Obama, especially if “Operation Odyssey Dawn” fails to topple Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, leads to significant American casualties, or provokes a wider conflict in the troubled region of North Africa. . . . They consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress,” one Democrat lawmaker said of the White House. “They’re creating wreckage, and they can’t obviate that by saying there are no boots on the ground. … There aren’t boots on the ground; there are Tomahawks in the air.” (Click here to read the complete Politico.com story.)

And, remember, the approval from the Arab League for the “no-fly zone?” Yesterday, after video of the attacks on Libya covered TV screens in the Arab world, that “approval” seemed to be waning. Sunday, The Washington Post reported, “The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention. Moussa said the Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone on March 12 was based on a desire to prevent Moammar Gaddafi’s air force from attacking civilians and was not designed to endorse the intense bombing and missile attacks. . .” (Click here to read the complete Washington Post story.)

I used to live in Florida, and I saw firsthand how a sinkhole could swallow a house. Will Libya turn into a sinkhole that swallows American foreign policy? That is one question that will surely be answered before this military action is finished.

By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com


Heart - Barracuda (1977)

Another Shocking UN cover up about Libya

UN Weaving tangled webs of lies for imperialism in Libya

43764.jpegIt still amazes that ordinary people are so much smarter than the people placed in charge of them. Anyone could have told the UN when the deliberations were being held exactly what the aims of the US/UK and France were in the demand to establish a no fly zone over Libya.

Your ordinary citizen knew it was just going to be an excuse to pound the living daylights out of the place, while the military and the freaks supporting them have orgasms at the scenes of destruction.

Your ordinary citizen knew it was to regain colonial domination over the region and to steal the country's rich plethora of resources.

No sooner had the orgy started, then those who allowed this began to say, "hey one minute here" beginning with the Arab League from whom the imperialists counted upon for the "air of legitimacy."

The Anglo-French-American consortium leading this criminal activity has fallen for its own propaganda - blindly convinced that the Arab League is on board. If the Arab League totally approved without question, this means the crime is endorsed by the very people the Arab revolts are trying hard to get rid of.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa condemned the "bombardment of civilians" and called for an emergency meeting of the group of 22 states to discuss the Libyan issue. He demanded a report of the bombardment in which the Libyan armed forces command said 64 people, mostly civilians and children, were killed. Empire spokesmen accused Libya of lying, but the civilian casualties were confirmed by Russian citizens on site.

Now comes to light another utter embarrasment for them and the UN, this one they can NEVER LIVE DOWN.

It just so happens that the United Nations Human Rights Council was scheduled to take another important vote. What was that vote?

The Council was about to vote on a report that affirmed and praised Libya and Colonel Ghaddafi for THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. The report said that the Ghaddafi government protected "not only political rights, but also economic, educational, social and cultural rights," and praised it for the nation's treatment of religious minorities, and the "human rights training" received by security forces.

It was to be approved at a vote later this month. Did something suddenly happen over night? If you believe it did, I have a bridge to sell you.

No less than 46 delegations to the controversial Human Rights Council made positive comments, with rare criticism from, who else, the United States.

They have moved to postpone the vote. Anyone wonder why? Let everyone, particularly those in positions of power, take notice. We know why. How embarrassing for the dogs of war that vote would be if it were held honestly, no pressure, no blackmail, no bribes. How embarrassing...first the best standard of living in Africa and now a commendation for human rights practices. What a terrible dictator Colonel Ghaddafi is! 

Lisa Karpova



The Holy Bible - 2 Samuel Chapter 22 (King James Version)


Abolishing Infinity

How could one avoid the need to stipulate the properties of spacetime at infinity? In 1917, Einstein came up with an ingenious escape: obliterate spatial infinity! By adding an extra term to his gravitational field equations, Einstein found a simple solution of his augmented field equations. ("Augmented"? What is that about? It refers to the famous λ. See below for an explanation.) It contains a uniform matter distribution that approximates a uniform distribution of stars. That matter is at rest and the geometry of a spatial slice is unchanging with time.

Space, however, curves back onto itself so that it is spherical. That is, space has the geometry of 5NONE with positive curvature. In such a space, there is no infinity at which to stipulate the properties of space and time.

If one pictures just one dimension of space, then the universe looks like a cylinder. Spacetime resides just in the surface of the cylinder. The vertical lines are the world lines of the stars at rest. The one spatial dimension is wrapped back onto itself; the time dimension is not. Each spatial slice at a particular time appears as a circle; if we could represent all three dimensions of space, we would somehow have to replace the circle by a complete sphere of three dimensional space.

Einstein universe

The Einstein universe is an especially simple universe. It is homogeneous. That means that, like Minkowski spacetime, it is geometrically the same at every event. It is also spatially isortropic, which means that it is the same in every spatial direction. In the jigsaw puzzle analogy this homogeneity means that the spacetime is assembled from just one sort of piece, used repeated to build the entire spacetime.

Read more at: http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/HPS_0410/chapters/relativistic_cosmology/index.html

So "co-ed" is the new term for working girl?

Exclusive: I got sexy e-mails from slave accuser, says American Apparel CEO

The co-ed who claims American Apparel's randy CEO kept her as a teen sex slave appears more like a money-hungry vixen than a helpless victim in racy e-mails sent to the hipster clothier, his lawyer says.

Irene Morales, 20, who is suing Dov Charney, 42, for $260 million, sent him 40 naked pictures of herself, with the titillating promise "Daddy's got a little naughty girl waiting for him," the clothing boss' lawyer alleges.

The e-mails -- sent a year after she quit working for his LA-based company in 2008 -- graphically detail promised sex acts in exchange for money, clothes and a computer.

Chad Rachman/New York Post
Irene Morales at her lawyer’s office.

Even the subject lines are blushingly blue.

Two e-mails sent in January 2010 -- titled "Lolita" and "Lolitas" -- are packed with a combined 15 lurid photos shot from every possible angle.

An earlier, September 2009, e-mail with the subject "A few now . . . more later, yeah? A lot dirtier too" teases him with four steamy shots.

The photos are attached to the salacious e-mails sent under the name Irene Julia.

Charney's lawyer, Stuart Slotnick, claims Irene Julia is Irene Morales.

In some, she gripes about being a financially strapped college student.

"If you're not using one of the many laptops you have, would I be able to use it?" Morales allegedly pleaded in an Aug. 2, 2009, e-mail that's expected to be submitted as evidence in the case by American Apparel at a court hearing today in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

So desperate for dough, one e-mail begged: "Is there any way I can work for you, even if it's at the Hoboken store?"

Morales "stalked [Charney] for years" and is now "trying to shake down the company," according to Slotnick.

Morales' lawyer, Eric Baum, said in a statement, "We have no way to verify the e-mails or photos in question or if it is just more of American Apparel's propaganda.

"However, it is not unusual for victims of sexual harassment or assault to grow so demoralized that they feel the only value they offer is as a sexual object."

Morales filed suit this month, seeking damages from the flamboyant clothing retailer.

She charged that she was "held prisoner" in Charney's Manhattan apartment shortly after her 18th birthday while Charney forced her to perform lurid sex acts for several hours.

Charney's also been hit with a harassment suit by another former employee, 19-year-old Kimbra Lo, who alleges that he sexually harassed her last December after she left the company.

By James Covert

De Gaulle, He Ain't

Nicolas Sarkozy's misguided quest for glory in Libya.

View a photo essay of Sarko's grand tour here.

The Libyan uprising has given French President Nicolas Sarkozy an opportunity he has long coveted: to lead a risky international mission that holds out promise of ultimate glory. For Gen. Charles de Gaulle, the founder of the Fifth Republic, the pursuit of what the French call la grandeur was the primary raison d'être of a head of state. His successors have by and large shared the general's view, tenaciously defending French national interests and independence.

Sarkozy's idea of grandeur differs from de Gaulle's or Mitterrand's, however. The two former presidents saw themselves as students of history, men with long views of the national interest. Sarkozy is a creature of the moment who has always lived by the daily news cycle. Risk quickens his pulse and whets his appetite. He first came to prominence as mayor of the Paris suburb of Neuilly, when a madman with a bomb held a preschool classroom hostage. Sarkozy entered the room, talked the bomber into surrendering, and emerged to waiting cameras with a child in his arms. Crisis is his element.

In the crisis that followed Russia's invasion of South Ossetia in 2008, for example, Sarkozy, who then occupied the rotating presidency of the European Union, inserted himself into the center of the conflict and, in a whirlwind of shuttle diplomacy, persuaded the Russians not to make good on their threat to overthrow the Georgian government. His penchant for taking risks has not always paid off, however. Before he became Muammar al-Qaddafi's nemesis, he tried to reintegrate the colonel into the international community by inviting him to Paris in December 2007. This gesture drew criticism from Sarkozy's own secretary of state for human rights and proved to be an embarrassment because of Qaddafi's erratic behavior. Worse, it was probably quid pro quo for Qaddafi's agreement earlier that year to release Bulgarian nurses he had been holding prisoner. Qaddafi also extracted other tribute from France in return for this favor, including a promise to sell Libya €100 million of weapons and build a nuclear power plant in the country. Despite these overtures, the Libyan leader later refused to join the Union for the Mediterranean, a pet project of Sarkozy's, on the grounds that it would wreck "the unity of the Arab League." If Qaddafi disappointed Sarkozy, the Arab League must surely have disappointed Qaddafi by joining the current action against him.

Of course the French president had motives other than disappointment for urging decisive action against the Libyan dictator. Sarkozy likes to stress the humanitarian motive, which is perfectly legitimate, and "shared democratic values," which the rebels may or may not in fact hold. But he also hoped to draw a veil over earlier disarray in his government's response to the "Arab spring." When demonstrators in Tunis faced the armed forces of another dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, then Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie proposed sending French riot police to Tunisia to help train their Tunisian counterparts in crowd-control techniques. She also vacationed in Tunisia in the rebellion's early days and accepted transportation on the private jet of a Ben Ali crony with whom her elderly parents had entered into a business deal.

These revelations eventually forced Alliot-Marie's resignation and led to the appointment of Alain Juppé, a man of vast experience as well as an old rival of Sarkozy, as foreign minister. But the president then stunned Juppé by deciding to recognize the rebels and bomb Libyan airfields while his foreign minister was in Brussels, negotiating with European partners. Juppé had not been told of this decision in advance and was visibly dumbfounded when informed by reporters. To add insult to injury, the announcement of France's policy was made on the steps of the Élysée Palace by the playboy philosopher and gadabout humanitarian Bernard-Henri Lévy, an acquaintance of Sarkozy who had developed his own private contacts in the rebel camp. Juppé reportedly threatened to resign over this affront to his authority, but to date he remains in his post.

Sarkozy also faces a tough fight for reelection in 2012. His approval rating is at its nadir, around 25 percent. Several recent polls have shown him running third, behind Marine Le Pen, the new leader of the extreme right-wing National Front, and any of several possible Socialist candidates. And in cantonal elections held this past weekend, as the military action in Libya was unfolding, the president's party took a shellacking. In such circumstances, a leader who takes his country to war will always be suspected of seeking advantage at the polls. Yet there has been no discernible surge of support for the president since French jets first took off for Libya a few days ago.

If there are suspicions about Sarkozy's motives, the president himself must share the blame. Various officials have indicated that one of the government's concerns about turmoil in Libya is the possibility that any state failure there will increase the influx of refugees attempting to enter Europe by boat. Le Pen went to the Italian island of Lampedusa, tantalizingly close to the Libyan coast, to dramatize this concern, but the president's own party played on similar fears. One deputy, Chantal Brunel, threatened a week ago to "put them back into boats" if North African refugees landed on European shores. Earlier, Laurent Wauquiez, minister for European affairs, warned against tolerating illegal immigration in the wake of the Tunisian rebellion. Such statements undermine the president's high humanitarian rhetoric and foster suspicion of base ulterior motives.

Furthermore, Gaullist grandeur may prove elusive if the fighting in the desert fails to go as planned. To be sure, French planes were the first to bomb targets around Benghazi, even before the U.S. cruise missile strikes on air defense sites. But the reality is that the French and British, who are supposed to bear the brunt of the action, do not have the "force projection" capabilities of the United States. The engagement has already gone well beyond enforcement of a no-fly zone to include action against Libyan armor and artillery. The poorly trained rebels may need a good deal more close support, unless the intervention persuades Qaddafi's mercenaries that the risks of fighting on now outweigh the benefits. But even if the mercenaries quit, loyalist Libyan troops would remain in the field, and the rebels' ability to defeat them even with air support remains to be demonstrated. Finally, even if Qaddafi is toppled, Libya's future will be determined by what unfolds in the aftermath, and France will have to contend with other interested parties for influence over that process. In short, France's intervention may serve to underscore the limits of the French global reach, even in a region where it was once a dominant player.

And that brings us to another key aspect of Sarkozy's gamble. France has a large immigrant population, much of it drawn from North Africa. French Muslims, especially the younger ones, identified with the youthful and largely secular protesters in Tunis and Cairo. The effort to prevent a massacre in Benghazi has had popular appeal, but escalation may lead to protest. Bitter memories of French imperialism can easily flare into open opposition if the military adventure takes a wrong turn.

Finally, there is the matter of the European Union, where Sarkozy's initiative has already proved problematic. His hasty recognition of the rebels, just as talks with European partners were getting under way in Brussels, and in the absence of any clear indications of who the rebel leaders are and what political forces they might represent, made a mockery of the idea of a common EU foreign policy -- an idea that Sarkozy championed back in the days when he was crusading for the Lisbon Treaty. He has been careless of European sensibilities in most of his foreign ventures to date and has frequently ruffled the feathers of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has not been enthusiastic about military action in Libya. Sarkozy's penchant for impetuous action may well have put paid to European cooperation in the short to medium term.

Conversely, the rapprochement of France and Britain, which was already apparent in the agreement to share an aircraft carrier, has been advanced by the Libyan affair, in which Prime Minister David Cameron and Sarkozy have generally seen eye to eye, despite a temporary disagreement about the role of NATO in the operation. One difference is worth noting, however: Cameron sought a vote of confidence from the House of Commons before going to war. Sarkozy didn't need to bother with such niceties -- he controls his National Assembly. He simply acted, like the Bourbon kings of old, de son bon plaisir -- at his own pleasure. But so did Barack Obama, whose presidency is not supposed to bear the regal trappings that go with executive office in France. Sovereignty, it has been said, is the power to declare an emergency. If so, then the Libyan intervention has been a striking demonstration of Sarkozy's sovereignty over la Grande Nation. He has stuck his neck out quite far in pushing for Western intervention in Libya, and he is now committed to see the mission through, though it may well strain French military capabilities to the breaking point.

By Arthur Goldhammer



Norah Jones - What Am I To You?

Obama’s Unconstitutional War

By unilaterally going to war against Libya, Obama is bringing America closer to the imperial presidency than Bush ever did.

In taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama's administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency -- an executive who increasingly acts independently of Congress at home and abroad. Obtaining a U.N. Security Council resolution has legitimated U.S. bombing raids under international law. But the U.N. Charter is not a substitute for the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress, not the president, the power "to declare war."

After the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which granted the president the power to act unilaterally for 60 days in response to a "national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." The law gave the chief executive an additional 30 days to disengage if he failed to gain congressional assent during the interim.

But, again, these provisions have little to do with the constitutionality of the Libyan intervention, since Libya did not attack our "armed forces." The president failed to mention this fundamental point in giving Congress notice of his decision on Monday, in compliance with another provision of the resolution. Without an armed "attack," there is no compelling reason for the president to cut Congress out of a crucial decision on war and peace.

This is particularly striking since, in the Libyan case, the president had plenty of time to get congressional support. A broad coalition -- from Senator John McCain to Senator John Kerry -- could have been mobilized on behalf of a bipartisan resolution as the administration engaged in the necessary international diplomacy. But apparently Obama thought it more important to lobby the Arab League than the U.S. Congress.

In cutting out Congress, Obama has overstepped even the dubious precedent set when President Bill Clinton bombed Kosovo in 1999. Then, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel asserted that Congress had given its consent by appropriating funds for the Kosovo campaign. It was a big stretch, given the actual facts -- but Obama can't even take advantage of this same desperate expedient, since Congress has appropriated no funds for the Libyan war. The president is simply using money appropriated to the Pentagon for general purposes to conduct the current air campaign.

The War Powers Resolution doesn't authorize a single day of Libyan bombing. But it does provide an escape hatch, stating that it is not "intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President." So it's open for Obama to assert that his power as commander in chief allows him to wage war without Congress, despite the Constitution's insistence to the contrary.

Many modern presidents have made such claims, and Harry Truman acted upon this assertion in Korea. But it's surprising to find Obama on the verge of ratifying such precedents. He was elected in reaction to the unilateralist assertions of John Yoo and other apologists for George W. Bush-era illegalities. Yet he is now moving onto ground that even Bush did not occupy. After a lot of talk about his inherent powers, Bush did get Congress to authorize his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Obama is putting Bush-era talk into action in Libya -- without congressional authorization.

The president's insistence that his Libyan campaign is limited in its purposes and duration is no excuse. These are precisely the issues that he should have defined in collaboration with Congress. Now that he claims inherent power, why can't he redefine U.S. objectives on his own? No less important, what is to stop some future president from using Obama's precedent to justify even more aggressively unilateral actions?

The buck stops on Capitol Hill. As always, presidential unilateralism puts Congress in a tough position. It cannot afford to cut off funds immediately and put the lives of Americans, and U.S. allies, in danger. But it can pass a bill denying future funding after three months. This would prevent the president from expanding the mission unless he can gain express congressional consent.

The U.S. Congress should also take more fundamental steps to bring the imperial presidency under control. In the aftermath of Watergate, Congress went beyond the War Powers Resolution to enact a series of framework statutes that tried to impose the rule of law on a runaway presidency. Many of these statutes have failed to work as planned, but they were the product of a serious investigation led by Senator Frank Church and Representative Otis Pike during the 1970s. A similar inquest is imperative today. In many respects, Bush's war on terrorism was a more sweeping breach of constitutional norms than anything Richard Nixon attempted in Watergate. Yet Congress has been silent, trusting Obama to clean house on his own.

The president has shown, by his actions, that this trust is not justified. If Congress fails to respond, we have moved one large step further down the path to a truly imperial presidency.

By Bruce Ackerman


'I lost my moral compass': how a young US soldier triggered an abuse scandal in Afghanistan

Friday, 25 March 2011

Alleged to be one of the men in the photographs, Jeremy Morlock is accused of throwing a grenade at an Afghan civilian in a pre-meditated plan


Alleged to be one of the men in the photographs, Jeremy Morlock is accused of throwing a grenade at an Afghan civilian in a pre-meditated plan

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Smiling as he leaned over the young man's body, and using one hand to present his bloodied face to the camera, Corporal Jeremy Morlock celebrated the murder of an innocent Afghan civilian as if he had just bagged a magisterial moose from the wilds of his native Alaska.

Photos of the 23-year-old soldier treating a human being as if he were some sort of hunting trophy shocked the world when they were published last week by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. Even the US Army, an organisation not usually given to grovelling apology, described the images as "repugnant".

On Wednesday, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle in Washington State, Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in a military prison, after pleading guilty to being part of a "kill squad" of junior soldiers who randomly murdered three unarmed locals, for sport, during a 12-month tour of Kandahar province, which ended last spring.

The relatively light sentence followed a plea bargain that will soon see Morlock give evidence against four comrades who are also accused of taking part in the murders. In exchange for evidence about how the group "waxed" victims (an expression used in his interviews with prosecutors) he should be eligible for parole some time around his 30th birthday.

Yet behind the stiff formality of the courtroom drama, Afghanistan's version of the Abu Ghraib scandal seems likely to leave important questions unanswered. Did senior officers know about the "kill squad's" activities? Did they care about the mental health of the young men under their command? And are a few wayward junior soldiers now being made scapegoats for an abuse problem which runs far deeper?

Jeremy Morlock's story certainly gives pause for thought. Born in Wasilla, Alaska, he grew up the third of eight children in a working-class Athabaskan native family. As a teenager, he played ice hockey with his friend Track Palin, in a team managed by Palin's mother, the state's now-famous former Governor, Sarah Palin. After leaving the local Houston High School in 2006, he joined the army, assigned to the 5th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. During initial training, he suffered homesickness and occasional depression, exacerbated by the sudden death of his father, Richard, who drowned in 2007.

In the summer of 2009, Morlock began a year-long tour of southern Afghanistan. He was swiftly involved in four different "contacts" with enemy forces. After three of them, he was found to have concussion. "I have been here barely for two months, and I don't think that I will ever be able to talk about some of the things that have happened," he told his mother, Audrey, in a letter suggesting that he was traumatised and having trouble sleeping.

Morlock soon began smoking locally cultivated marijuana several times a week. He was also being prescribed ten different medications (including painkillers, anti-depressants, and sleeping pills) by military doctors. An army medical evaluation later found that he had post-concussive syndrome, dependence on cannabis, had abused opiates and sedatives, and was suffering from personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. But he was not removed from the front line.

Morlock told prosecutors that he and his colleagues began randomly killing unarmed Afghans shortly after Christmas 2009, allegedly at the behest of their sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, who was said to be in the habit of keeping the fingers of victims as souvenirs and to have claimed to have carried out similar murders during a tour of Iraq. "If Gibbs knew that I was sitting in front of this camera right now there's no doubt in my mind that he'd fucking take me out," he told investigators, in an interview uploaded to YouTube.

The three murders before the court marital occurred in January, February and May last year. Details of what occurred are still being fleshed-out, but Morlock says the bodies of the victims were re-arranged to leave the impression that they had been armed. Lawyers for Gibbs and the other defendants strongly dispute his claims.

There can be little doubt that the 5th Stryker Brigade was in turmoil. Its commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, was abruptly removed from his position last summer, and has been accused at this week's court martial of presiding over a "dysfunctional" brigade. His command structure, "created an environment that led to these crimes", a defence psychologist hasalleged. Several troops took concerns about drug abuse and bullying to senior officers, but were ignored (and in one case assaulted) for their pains. The family of one soldier, who had revealed in a message on Facebook that he thought innocent civilians were being killed deliberately by colleagues, contacted staff at the brigade's HQ near Seattle, but their allegations were not properly investigated.

Morlock, who has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest last summer (he is yet to meet his first child, born shortly afterwards) has never sought to blame his behaviour on drug abuse, stress, mental health problems or poor pastoral care in the army. In court this week, he admitted: "I lost my moral compass."

His mother has spent $50,000 helping to fight his case. She was not at home when The Independent called yesterday, but told her local paper, The Mat Su Valley Frontiersman, that her son's prosecution represented an effort to paper over a widespread problem.

"I believe he was taking orders from somebody else," she said. "I believe there are higher up people involved, and these guys are the scapegoats for the whole thing... It's not only his unit [involved in criminal activity], there's all kinds of stuff going on over there... No one will ever understand what happens in a war zone unless you're there."


Night Stalker found guilty – after 17 years and up to 500 victims

A former mini-cab driver believed to be Britain's most prolific sex attacker was found guilty yesterday of conducting a 17-year reign of terror against elderly women and men.

Delroy Grant, 53, known as "Night Stalker" because he broke into his victims' homes after dark wearing a mask, before subjecting them to terrifying ordeals, sometimes lasting several hours, was warned he faces a "very long sentence" by the judge at Woolwich Crown Court, in south-east London.

Although he was convicted of burgling and assaulting 18 pensioners between 1992 and 2009 across south London, Surrey and Kent, in what police said were some of the most shocking and callous crimes ever investigated by its officers, detectives believe he may have struck up to 500 times. The attacks, including four rapes and 20 sexual assaults, were described by prosecutors as "the stuff of nightmares".

Yesterday Scotland Yard was forced to apologise for a series of blunders during the long investigation, which was one of the most complex in the force's history, cost tens of millions of pounds and involved hundreds of officers. It emerged that a mix-up over the suspect's name had resulted in Grant being eliminated from the inquiry 10 years before he was eventually caught. Police had also failed to investigate after receiving a tip-off naming him.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised the Met for "basic errors", which it said had "horrific consequences". Senior officers are expected to give the go-ahead to a major inquiry in the aftermath of yesterday's conviction. Investigators have visited 203 surviving victims to brief them on the progress of the prosecution. It also emerged that they have been contacted by the families of two rape victims who only came forward after they died.

Grant stood in the dock with his head bowed as the jury foreman delivered the majority verdicts after more than eight hours of deliberation. Judge Peter Rook said Grant had been convicted of 29 offences "of the utmost gravity", but delayed sentencing until today when more of his victims could give evidence on the impact of the crimes.

Among those he attacked was an 89-year-old woman; others were blind, deaf or had conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. All the victims were vulnerable and living on their own within driving distance of Grant's home in Brockley, south-east London.

Grant targeted 1930s houses in leafy commuter suburbs, often levering out window units with a crowbar to gain entry. He would remove light bulbs and cut phone lines to evade detection and once inside would often talk to his victims. Police said he was a skilled burglar who would carefully select his targets and cover up his DNA traces.

The offences took place in areas including Warlingham, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich. He was caught in 2009 during a 16-night police surveillance operation in Shirley.

After his arrest Grant, a father of eight children by four different women, suggested that detectives talk to his son, whom he said was the possible culprit. He then claimed that his ex-wife had been framing him with body fluids she had asked for from him in 1979. During the trial Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, described Grant's defence as "utter, utter rubbish".

Andrew Hadik, a senior Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, condemned Grant for refusing to face up to his depraved actions. He said: "We may never know exactly why Delroy Grant raped and attacked so many innocent people over the last 17 years; he has steadfastly refused to admit any responsibility or to show any remorse. His vicious attacks, masked with a contemptuous politeness towards his victims, traumatised people who should have been enjoying the security and comfort of their own homes."

By Jonathan Brown

Friday, 25 March 2011


House Lawmakers Draft Legislation To Defund Libya Operations

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress are discussing several mechanisms to cut off funding for U.S. military operations in Libya, arguing that since President Barack Obama did not obtain congressional authorization, he is essentially waging an unconstitutional war.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) is one of the lawmakers leading the charge. He says that not only does he believe Obama should first have consulted Congress, he opposes and would have opposed any U.S. military involvement in Libya.

"I think this, combined with our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq ... just elevates hatred toward America and western democracies, throughout the Middle East. This is just one more nail in the coffin, so to speak," said Johnson in an interview with The Huffington Post, arguing that there's no connection between the conflict in Libya and the national security interests of the United States. He called Obama a "new war-mongering president who's belied everything he stands for and everything we thought we stood for."

But beyond national security interests, administration officials have also pointed to the humanitarian aspect of the crisis.

"[W]e cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government," Obama said Saturday when he announced the authorization of force.

Administration officials are not planning on asking Congress for a supplemental bill to pay for the military intervention in Libya, which National Journal estimated cost more than $100 million in Tomahawk missiles alone in its first day. "The operation in Libya is being funded with existing resources at this point. We are not planning to request a supplemental at this time," Office of Management and Budget spokesman Kenneth Baer said Monday.

Nevertheless, critics in Congress believe that they have means to pull funding and bring the operation to a halt.

There are three main efforts floating around Capitol Hill while Congress is in recess, according to a Republican House staffer familiar with the situation. First was a nonbinding resolution by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) that expressed the sense of Congress that the president had to get the legislature's approval before using the armed forces in Libya. The measure had some bipartisan support, but it was never brought to the floor for a vote.

The next piece, which may be released as soon as this week, is a standalone bill that will prohibit the president from using force by the U.S. military in the Libya operation. The second part of that measure would be a provision to cut off funding, saying that no funds available to any department of the federal government may be used for the military operations. This legislation is being explored by the offices of Johnson and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), among others.

A third effort would be an amendment to the next continuing resolution, which will come up two weeks from Friday. This measure would be a rider to the temporary budget bill and would cut off funding for the Libyan operation. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced on Tuesday that he would be pursuing this path with an amendment either to the CR or the omnibus appropriations bill.

The White House was not immediately available for comment, but according to a pool report, White House spokesman Jay Carney told media aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that the administration takes the need for congressional consultations "very seriously" and will continue doing them. He added that some of their critics were being hypocritical, initially criticizing them for not moving fast enough and then later hitting them for moving too fast.

Johnson said that he's still exploring what would be the best route, since much of it depends on what has the best chance of making it to the House floor.

"Essentially, if leadership wants to vote on something, we'll get a vote on something," said the Republican staffer. "If they don't, they have ways to stop it. So Ron Paul's resolution last week had been introduced, but it hasn't gotten a vote. I don't anticipate that it will. We'll see. This is a fast-moving topic on the ground on Libya and among the House."

It's slightly easier to get a vote on a continuing resolution amendment, but the leadership still has significant leeway in that process. The first CR in the new Congress was an open amendment process, so any member could introduce any amendment and get a vote. The most recent one was not as open, however.

An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told The Huffington Post that since the legislation has not yet been introduced, it's too soon to say whether it will get a floor vote.

Johnson said that he and Amash have talked to a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who "believe this is a major quantum leap" in U.S. international involvement. "I think there's a good number of people who are going to do whatever they can to derail it," he added.

Josh Rogin at The Cable reports that the Senate could vote as soon as next week on Obama's decision to attack Libya.

"There may be some people who will try to end the [Libya] effort, if they try they won't come anywhere near success in the Senate," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said during a call with reporters on Wednesday. "The reason I think the president will gain bipartisan support for his action is because he's proceeded in a way which is cautious, thoughtful. He has put the ducks in a row before deciding to put the United States in the lead for a short period of time."

On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent the President a letter saying that he and "many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America's role is in achieving that mission." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement reiterating her support for the mission and adding the effort "is strengthened by the president's continued consultation with Congress."

By Amanda Terkel


You Can Spit on God, But Don't You Dare Affirm Him

Is this the worst of times for Christianity? Perhaps it would be wrong to say it is the worst of times, but it can be said with certainty that Christians in the U.S. are experiencing a real, if subtle, persecution for their beliefs. Crisscrossing our country like a ravenous flame is the hatred of the atheists, the "gay" activists, the ACLU, and the secularists, who are launching attacks against the Christian religion. The reasons are simple: By suppressing the moral teachings of Christianity, the "gays" will have little opposition to their homosexual agenda; pro-abortionists will no longer struggle against the prolife movement; scientists will be free to use fertilized embryos for stem cell research; euthanasia will become a way of life — or make that death. (If you are sick, tired, maimed, handicapped, or just too old, suicide will be the approved solution.) Christians are the roadblock to these wanton desires and therefore are the recipients of persecution. Sadly, many Christians do little more than silently watch and wring their hands and comply and capitulate.

The atheists and secularists are on the march, with the goal of wiping out all references to God from the public arena. Be assured, atheists are well organized in the promotion of their anti-religion agenda. Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheist, said Christians have plenty of churches and places where they can pray and practice their religion; it is not necessary for religion to pollute the public domain. An illustration of their persistence and determination is the controversial atheist Michael Newdow and his campaign to exclude the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" from our currency. The First Amendment is the legal whip they use to convince judges that any public reference to religion is unconstitutional and unfit for public viewing.

The First Amendment never intended, nor does it presently intend, that any mention of God or Jesus Christ in public prayer is just cause for men to scurry to the highest court in the land with the sole intent of muting Christians' public mention of God. The reason our Founding Fathers came to these shores was to flee governments that enforced an established state religion and persecuted anyone who did not proclaim that belief — in other words, they came for religious liberty. Our civic ancestors felt it was paramount that this should never happen in America and, as a safeguard, wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." Could they ever have imagined that their civic progeny would so distort the interpretation of this Amendment that it would destroy the very religious liberty they were trying to protect?

If our Founding Fathers' sole intent was to delete God and prayer from the town square, they would not have lavished Washington, D.C., with religious paintings, statues of religious figures, Scripture quotes referencing God, and numerous displays of the Ten Commandments. Nor did they consider saying a prayer at the beginning of each session in the House and Senate a violation of the freedom they sought to establish and protect. James Madison underscored the importance of Christian values to our nation's founding when he said, "We stake the future of this country on our ability to govern ourselves under the principles contained in the Ten Commandments." Our civic ancestors did not think that including God in their daily pursuits as public figures or as private citizens was wrong or politically incorrect; they simply considered it the exercise of their newfound freedom to do so. Apparently, our Founding Fathers and early statesman did not interpret the First Amendment in quite the same way as our present-day liberal judges.

Sadly, no one seems to mind when God's name is used as a repulsive expletive on TV or in the movies. This is quite acceptable to the unbeliever, never mind that it deeply offends Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Perhaps we should pass a law that every time God's name is violated the offender must pay a fine whose proceeds go to the churches of America. If such a law passed, the atheists and secularists would race to the nearest courthouse. Yet they feel it is perfectly O.K. to stifle the free speech of Christians.

The ACLU is always ready to send its battalion of legal beavers to prosecute the so-called unconstitutional mention of God in our schools, our courthouses, our military, our Pledge of Allegiance, and on our currency. If private organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America have the audacity to include God and His principles in their creed, they can expect the iron boot of the ACLU to kick down their door. If a city's logo carries any reference to religion, regardless how innocuous, the bullies will demand that the city change its logo. A good example is the lawsuit filed against the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico (in Spanish las cruces means "the crosses"), which claims that the three crosses on the city's official emblem are religious symbols and therefore unconstitutional. The lawsuit, filed by Paul F. Weinbaum, a member of the Las Cruces chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Martin J. Boyd, claims the crosses make them feel like second-class citizens. This is the second attempt to remove the crosses from the city's emblem. The first lawsuit was brought by the ACLU in 2003, which, when challenged by the city fathers, dropped the suit. The same charges were brought against the city of Los Angeles (in Spanish los angeles means "the angels") to remove one small cross from the city emblem. Los Angeles gave up without so much as a murmur, and spent thousands of the taxpayers' dollars to remove that one tiny cross.

These morality misfits do not give up easily and will not be happy until they wipe America clean of God and any symbols representing religion. Now, more than ever, is the time to challenge this reprehensible malice.

The beat of the hoofs thunders on, until all is lost; all is gone.

By Donna R. LaPlante


Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon - ( Awesome performance ) 1976

The Triangle Fire

The Birth of Greek Tragedy

The Tragic Elements of Myth

Prometheus_Bound - Thomas Cole
Prometheus_Bound - Thomas Cole

"Tragedy", say D.W.S Ryan and T.P Rossiter, "evolved from myth"(4). In its simplest definition, Tragedy is "a serious play representing the disastrous downfall of a central character, the protagonist"(Baldick 226). Tragedy, like myth, depicts an event of universal significance with lasting implications not only for the characters but also for the audience.

Origins of Tragedy

Tragedy arose from "the worship of Dionysos, god of wine and fertility"(Brown "Tragedy" n.pag) in several reported ways. Some Ancient "hero cults memorialized the hero's suffering with tragic choruses"(Brown "Tragedy" n.pag). Aristotle, however, suggests Tragedy evolved from "improvisations [made to] dithyrambs, a type of choral poetry celebrating mythological subjects"(Brown "n.pag). Tragedy later became a way for dramatists to re-examine the themes expressed in the myths and reflect upon contemporary life.

Tragedy as Genre

According to Brown, "Tragedy came to signify a dramatic presentation of high seriousness and noble character which examines the major questions of human existence"("Tragedy" n.pag). The link between Tragedy and ancient Greek myth is most evident in the Prometheus myth. Here, the fate of humankind rests upon the titan who dares to defy the despotic Zeus.

The Tragic Cosmos

Tragedy explores human existence within a cosmos that often disrupts man's ability to rise within the universe or comprehend humanity's place within it. Prometheus's story is indicative of this. In the beginning, he fights alongside the Olympians during the Titans' revolt. Prometheus is "the wisest of his race"(Graves 141) and a trusted ally. Athene, "at whose birth from Zeus' head he had assisted, [teaches] him architecture, astronomy, [and] mathematics"(141), among other skills. Initially loved and honoured by the gods, Prometheus is awarded the sum of earthly knowledge.

In its infancy, humanity is "a weak, ignorant, and defenceless" race"(Warner 5). But Prometheus, "for some reason of his own, love[s] [them]"(5). He hates that humans "[live] like animals in caves", 'adapting' to new situations. Much like the non-Greek gods Osiris and Raven, Prometheus saves humans from a state of barbaric ignorance. He teaches them "every art and every science" including an appreciation of "the beauty and strength of thought and feeling"(Warner 5).

An unloving creator, Zeus "[begrudges] men all the gifts that Prometheus ha[s] given them"(5) because it grants them "the ability to shape their lives into something better", to raise "their thoughts to heaven"(Warner 5). To the tyrannical god, humanity's "increasing powers and talents"(Graves 141) constitutes another rebellion he must smite. Humiliated after Prometheus dupes him into accepting "bones and fat" as the "divine" sacrifice, Zeus robs humans of fire and condemns them to eat raw flesh (Graves 141). In this universe, human potential stagnates.

The Tragic Vision

The overall "tragic vision" shows "characters struggling within the limitations of mortality...[and attempting]...to find meaning and purpose to human activity"(Brown "After" n.pag). Why such apathetic gods create humans goes unanswered. To thwart Prometheus, Zeus has Hephaestus create Pandora, the one who condemns humanity to mortal death by opening the jar and unleashing "all the Spites that might plague mankind"(Graves 142), namely "Old Age, Labour, Sickness, Insanity, Vice, and Passion"(142). Like their malevolent creators, each "attack[s] the race of mortals"(142).

Humans become pawns in a divine game. This theme permeates tragedy from Aeschylus to Shakespeare. Prometheus has intended to create a junior civilization worthy of the gods and to give them a meaningful existence. A fatherly benefactor, he "[is] not satisfied that man [will] be like the animals"(Warner 4) and "fashion[s] man in a nobler form, upright like the gods,...superior to...animals"(4). For this crime, Prometheus "endure[s] great punishment"(4). Tragedy arouses pity and fear because one "envision[s] [oneself] within this [universal order]"(McManus n.pag).

The Tragic Hero

Tragic heroes are those persons who "dissatisfied with the hand destiny [has] dealt them"(Brown "After" n.pag) challenge the very forces of the universe with disastrous consequences. The hero is a larger than life figure, a person whose "rise and fall determine[s] the fate of others...and...shakes the world itself"(Brown "Tragedy" n.pag). By giving humans fire, Prometheus commits hamartia, a miscalculation that orchestrates his downfall, leaving humans vulnerable to Zeus. The god orders "his two invincible servants, Power and Violence, to seize Prometheus"(Warner 5).

Atop the Caucasus mountains, Prometheus is bound with "eternal chains", "lash[ed] by hail and winds," crushed beneath a mountain, and has his liver torn out by "the winged hound of Zeus, the great eagle"(Warner 5,7). The myth reminds listeners that his punishment never ended, indeed, that he suffers for his great convictions. A "god tortured at the hands of other gods"(Warner 6), his agony is a condemnation of the obscenity of a monstrous Olympus.

Such suffering and conviction are admirable; the mind, indomitable. Zeus "ha[s] the power to control his body"(Warner 6), but no "exercise of supreme power could make [the titan]...alter his mind"(7). When Oceanus pleads with him to "speak humbly to one who is more powerful than [us](6), the titan vows "no pain would ever make him bow the knee to the tyrant of the gods"(Warner 6). Perhaps out of hubris, Prometheus declares, "I know the power of Zeus...though I may feel it, I do not fear it"(7).

The tragic element of this myth lies in Prometheus's stubborn unwillingness to concede to Zeus, thus endangering humans and himself. The two servants mockingly expose this underlying hubris in their remark, "you did good to men...against the will of Zeus"(Warner 5). And yet, by his suffering, humanity sees its worth and potential and the danger of transgression.

Works Cited

Baldick, Chris. Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991.

Brown, Larry A. "Aristotle on Greek Tragedy." January 2005. Home Page. July 23, 2009.

Brown, Larry A. "Tragedy After Aristotle." Home page. July 23, 2009.

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. 8th ed. London: Folio Society, 2000.

McManus, Barbara F. "Outline of Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy in the Poetics." July 2002. Home Page.

July 23 2009.

Ryan, D.W.S, and T.P. Rossiter. Literary Modes. St. John's: Jesperson Press, 1983.

Warner, Rex. "Prometheus." Literary Modes. Eds. D.W.S Ryan and T.P. Rossiter. St. John's:

Jesperson Press, 1983.

By Christopher Mansour


A Moment of Silence for Dying Millions on World Water Day

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 18, 2011 (IPS) - When the international community commemorates World Water Day next week, perhaps it should ponder the words of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who once remarked he does not expect people the world over to stop what they are doing and observe a moment of silence, come Mar. 22.

"But maybe they should," he added, considering the fact that every 20 seconds, a child dies from diseases associated with lack of clean water.

"That adds up to an unconscionable 1.5 million young lives cut short each year," said Ban.

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be living under stress conditions, according to U.N. Water, a coalition comprising representatives of 24 U.N. organisations.

Currently, about 70 percent of the world's fresh water is used for irrigation, 22 percent for industry and about eight percent for domestic use.

The U.N. children's agency UNICEF points out that over 884 million people worldwide do not have access to safe water, while 2.6 billion have no access to adequate sanitation in a growing world population of over six billion people.

Maude Barlow, co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, which campaigns for the universal right to water, told IPS that while demand is fast outstripping supply, "We must come together this World Water Day to commit to a new relationship with water."

Asked how, she said: "By conserving it, restoring watersheds, protecting source water from pollution - which must be viewed as a criminal act - and sharing it more equitably for all humans, the future and for other species as well."

Anders Berntell, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), warns about the potential dangers of the world undergoing rapid urbanisation.

"People, ideas and commodities are intensively mobilising from peripheries to economic centres, where architectural wonders tower over skylines while slums continue to grow in their shadows," he said.

By 2050, he predicts, more people will live in cities than the number of people living in the entire world today.

The theme of this year's annual World Water Week in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, scheduled to take place Aug. 21-27, will be "Responding to Global Changes: Water in an Urbanising World."

Berntell said improved urban planning of water use and re- use can contribute significantly to reducing social and economic tensions within, between and around cities, in an increasingly variable water future.

In a statement released Friday, the Washington-based WASH Advocacy Initiative praised legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate Thursday that would put the United States in the lead in responding to the worldwide safe drinking water and sanitation crisis. The 'Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011' would commit the United States to extending safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and sanitation to 100 million people within six years, it said.

"This major bipartisan initiative would put the United States at the forefront of addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for drinking water and sanitation", according to the statement.

Barlow told IPS the major cause of the present water crisis is that "modern humans see water as a great big resource for our pleasure, convenience and profit and not as the essential element of a living ecosystem that gives us all life."

"So we pollute it. We dump an amount of industrial and human waste into the watersheds every year equivalent to the combined weight of all humanity, pump water from watersheds and rivers into mega cities where, if they are anywhere near the ocean, it is then dumped as waste - a major cause of rising oceans," she said.

Additionally, "We grow crops with flood irrigation in deserts; poison it with mining, nuclear, fracking and tar sands production, and let it drain away from ancient rusting pipes because we have 'run out of money' for public infrastructure," said Barlow, a former U.N. Senior Adviser on Water.

Asked what role the United Nations should play in resolving the ongoing crisis, she said the world body has already started with the recognition of water and sanitation as a human right, which means that every government must now come up with a plan of action based on the 'Obligation to Protect, Respect, and Fulfill' this right.

And now the United Nations must turn its attention to water conservation and watershed restoration, and to finding ways to make water a means of peace, not conflict, she noted.

"We need to declare water to be a common heritage, a public trust and a public service, and we need to support the government of Bolivia in its new move to declare that water must be protected as a public right and not allowed to be delivered on a for profit basis by the private sector," Barlow said.

Simply put, she said: "We need water for life. Water can teach us how to live in harmony with one another and more lightly on this earth if we have eyes to see and ears to hear."

By Thalif Deen


John Pilger - The New rulers of The World

EGYPT: Rights group alleges military forced captured female protesters into taking 'virginity tests'


Female activists detained during the Egyptian army's evacuation of Tahrir Square on March 9 told human-rights organizations that they were beaten, tortured and forced to take virginity tests while in military custody.

Salwa Hosseini, 20, who was taken by soldiers to a military prison on the outskirts of Cairo, told Amnesty International that she and fellow female detainees were strip searched, photographed while naked and subjected to electric shocks. Hossein added that female guards warned the captured women they would be charged with prostitution if they didn't take medical tests to prove they were virgins.

"Forcing women to have 'virginity tests' is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women," Amnesty International said. "The Egyptian authorities must halt the shocking and degrading treatment of women protesters. Women fully participated in bringing change in Egypt and should not be punished for their activism."

The human-rights group alleges the tests were carried out by a male doctor and that one woman, who claimed to be virgin while tests proved otherwise, was beaten and given electric shocks.

"The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public," Amnesty's statement added.

Journalist Rasha Azeb, another female activist detained in Tahrir Square, said she was insulted, handcuffed and beaten.

El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence announced that testimonies given to them by other female captives echoed those of Azeb and Hosseini. Following the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, several hundred protesters decided to prolong their demonstrations in the square until what they called "all the Jan. 25 revolutionary demands" were fulfilled by the ruling Supreme Military Council.

On March 9, military forces intervened to clear the square in an incident that saw at least 100 activists detained, including more than 17 women. Many of those captured were initially taken to the nearby Egyptian museum, where they claimed to have been tortured and beaten by soldiers.

All female detainees were released on March 13 after appearing in front of a military court. A few, including Hosseini, were convicted of disorderly conduct, destroying private and public property, obstructing traffic and carrying weapons. Hosseini was sentenced to a suspended one-year imprisonment.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Female protesters taking part in the Egyptian revolution. Credit: Associated Press


There's nothing moral about Nato's intervention in Libya

It's as if it's a habit they can't kick. Once again US, British and other Nato forces are bombarding an Arab country with cruise missiles and bunker-busting bombs. Both David Cameron and Barack Obama insist this is nothing like Iraq. There will be no occupation. The attack is solely to protect civilians.

But eight years after they launched their shock-and-awe devastation of Baghdad and less than a decade since they invaded Afghanistan, the same western forces are in action against yet another Muslim state, incinerating soldiers and tanks on the ground and killing civilians in the process.

Supported by a string of other Nato states, almost all of which have taken part in the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, the US, Britain and France are clinging to an Arab fig leaf, in the shape of a Qatari airforce that has yet to arrive, to give some regional credibility to their intervention in Libya.

As in Iraq and Afghanistan, they insist humanitarian motives are crucial. And as in both previous interventions, the media are baying for the blood of a pantomime villain leader, while regime change is quickly starting to displace the stated mission. Only a western solipsism that regards it as normal to be routinely invading other people's countries in the name of human rights protects Nato governments from serious challenge.

But the campaign is already coming apart. At home, public opinion is turning against the onslaught: in the US, it's opposed by a margin of two-to-one; in Britain, 43% say they are against the action, compared with 35% in support – an unprecedented level of discontent for the first days of a British military campaign, including Iraq.

On the ground, the western attacks have failed to halt the fighting and killing, or force Colonel Gaddafi's forces into submission; Nato governments have been squabbling about who's in charge; and British ministers and generals have fallen out about whether the Libyan leader is a legitimate target.

Last week, Nato governments claimed the support of "the international community" on the back of the UN resolution and an appeal from the dictator-dominated Arab League. In fact, India, Russia, China, Brazil and Germany all refused to support the UN vote and have now criticised or denounced the bombing – as has the African Union and the Arab League itself.

As its secretary general, Amr Moussa, argued, the bombardment clearly went well beyond a no-fly zone from the outset. By attacking regime troops fighting rebel forces on the ground, the Nato governments are unequivocally intervening in a civil war, tilting the balance of forces in favour of the Benghazi-based insurrection.

Cameron insisted on Monday in the Commons that the air and sea attacks on Libya had prevented a "bloody massacre in Benghazi". The main evidence was Gaddafi's threat to show "no mercy" to rebel fighters who refused to lay down their arms and to hunt them down "house to house". In reality, for all the Libyan leader's brutality and Saddam Hussein-style rhetoric, he was scarcely in any position to carry out his threat.

Given that his ramshackle forces were unable to fully retake towns like Misurata or even Ajdabiya when the rebels were on the back foot, the idea that they would have been able to overrun an armed and hostile city of 700,000 people any time soon seems far-fetched.

But on the other side of the Arab world, in western-armed Bahrain, security forces are right now staging night raids on opposition activists, house by house, and scores have gone missing as the dynastic despots carry out a bloody crackdown on the democratic movement. And last Friday more than 50 peaceful demonstrators were shot dead on the streets of Sana'a by government forces in western-backed Yemen.

Far from imposing a no-fly zone to bring the embattled Yemeni regime to heel, US special forces are operating across the country in support of the government. But then US, British and other Nato forces are themselves responsible for hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week more than 40 civilians were killed by a US drone attack in Pakistan, while over 60 died last month in one US air attack in Afghanistan.

The point isn't just that western intervention in Libya is grossly hypocritical. It's that such double standards are an integral part of a mechanism of global power and domination that stifles hopes of any credible international system of human rights protection.

A la carte humanitarian intervention, such as in Libya, is certainly not based on feasibility or the degree of suffering or repression, but on whether the regime carrying it out is a reliable ally or not. That's why the claim that Arab despots will be less keen to follow Gaddafi's repressive example as a result of the Nato intervention is entirely unfounded. States such as Saudi Arabia know very well they're not at the slightest risk of being targeted unless they're in danger of collapse.

There's also every chance that, as in Kosovo in 1999, the attack on Libya could actually increase repression and killing, while failing to resolve the underlying conflict. It's scarcely surprising that, outgunned by Gaddafi's forces, the Libyan rebel leadership should be grateful for foreign military support. But any Arab opposition movement that comes to power courtesy of Tornadoes and Tomahawks will be fatally compromised, as would the independence of the country itself.

For the western powers, knocked off balance by the revolutionary Arab tide, intervention in the Libyan conflict offers both the chance to put themselves on the "right side of history" and to secure their oil interests in a deeply uncertain environment.

Unless the Libyan autocrat is assassinated or his regime implodes, the prospect must now be of a bloody stalemate and a Kurdistan-style Nato protectorate in the east. There's little sympathy for Gaddafi in the Arab world, but already influential figures such as the Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah have denounced the intervention as a return to the "days of occupation, colonisation and partition".

The urgent alternative is now for countries such as Egypt and Turkey, with a far more legitimate interest in what goes on in Libya and links to all sides, to take the lead in seeking a genuine ceasefire, an end to outside interference and a negotiated political settlement. There is nothing moral about the Nato intervention in Libya – it is a threat to the entire region and its people.

By Seamus Milne


Power To Strip Search Passengers Claimed By Feds

In a breathtaking statement delivered in an official court proceeding, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims authority to strip search every airline passenger; and to begin such a practice without even soliciting comment from the public.

This outrageous statement recently was delivered to the American people by a DHS lawyer in arguments before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considering a challenge to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nude body scanner devices. The suit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Currently TSA, which is a component of DHS, claims authority to subject passengers to either an intrusive hand searches or to x-ray scans that reveal a nude image of the passengers’ bodies. Many, including this author and EPIC, consider such searches unconstitutional as violative of the the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable” searches, because they are being conducted without any suspicion at all that such passengers are attempting to bring weapons or explosives on board commercial aircraft.

The U.S. House is scheduled to open hearings today on TSA searches and authorities.

Most observers expect the D.C. Appeals Court to uphold TSA’s current practices. This would leave only the Congress to put a stop to these outrageous, privacy-invasive and unconstitutional searches by the federal government. If TSA and DHS are permitted to continue unchecked, then truly the Fourth Amerndment will have been gutted; and with it, the single most important and effective check on government power enjoyed by the American People for over two centuries.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code