A wonderful, moving animated video at the The Guardian’s website depicts what the hunger strike is like for detained Guantanamo Bay prisoners. It is based on the narratives of five released Gitmo prisoners who participated in the strikes and how they were brutalized by the Americans there.
Someday, we’ll look back at this era in American history and feel shame and regret for not doing more for the innocent men still being detained despite being cleared for release.
The South American country of Uruguay has legalized gay marriage through its Chamber of Deputies. Good to see a country mature enough to do it through legislation and not have to wait until the court system informs the public what the phrase “equal rights” actually means (looking at you America). And the good news for Americans is the legislation states “gay and lesbian foreigners will now be allowed to come to Uruguay to marry, just as heterosexual couples can.” So, if the Supreme Court doesn’t have the guts to legalize gay marriage in the United States when they release their decision, there is always Uruguay! (Or Canada, Argentina, Denmark, etc.)
Guantanamo Hunger Strikes Worsen, Free People Being Mistreated
We have to continue asking: why is Guantanamo still open? In a story getting little to no press in the U.S., hunger strikes of prisoners at the base have worsened as the inmates continue to protest their treatment and possible desecration of the Koran by guards. The truly awful part of this: most of the prisoners have been granted their release but are still there. As reported in the Guardian, 86 prisoners have been granted their release out of a total population of 166. Guantanamo has now long been a disgrace to human rights and Obama’s broken promise of closing the base will continue to worsen America’s standing with the rest of the world everyday it stays open and abuse continues of those inside for reasons now beyond comprehension.
Mexico Drug Killings Down 14%! (Note: No Reason For Celebration)
The first four months of President Nieto’s administration have been apparently better then the same four month period last year during Calderon’s term. The killings due to drug violence have dropped to 4,249 from 4,934. Impressive! Just one problem: the “official” count seems to be a little lower than what the actual numbers probably are. From the article:
Bloody clashes are still common in Mexico and it can be impossible to know how many people died because drug traffickers take their dead away before authorities reach the scene.
In the border city of Reynosa there were at least four major shootouts between rival drug gangs in March. One of the clashes lasted several hours. People reported dozens of dead on social networks and at least 12 were corroborated by witnesses. The official account only listed two dead.
It might be a reason to celebrate a decrease in violence. Then again, there’s a good chance the “official” decrease is a sham and things could be even worse. Who really knows?
The U.S. Government Lied About Drone Attacks (with proof!)
The U.S. government, whether under Bush or Obama, has stated drone attacks were specifically and, more importantly, legally directed at members of Al Qaeda and its allies who were imminent threats to America and were plotting action against us. In other words, it’s self defense only. Not true according to this article from McClatchy that examined classified documents from both administrations. One small piece of info from the long report:
While U.S. officials say the Taliban Movement of Pakistan works closely with al Qaida, its goal is to topple the Pakistani government through suicide bombings, assaults and assassinations, not attacking the United States. The group wasn’t founded until 2007, and some of the strikes in the U.S. intelligence reports occurred before the administration designated it a terrorist organization in September 2010.
This is getting into a very murky legal area if the U.S. is killing members of groups that are not in any way a threat to the U.S. It is an obvious violation of international law (along with pretty much the entire drone policy) but it brings up the question of what happens when other countries develop the technology and begin using it according to the same legal (a.k.a. not-really-legal) definitions? Could we justifiably take action against Iran if they used drone attacks against Israeli assets because they viewed them as an imminent threat? What about North Korea using it against what they view as a threat?
When little evidence is needed to justify what is a threat (as is the case with the drone attacks), how will we be able to say that is not right when the policy spreads?