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28 Aug

Criminalizing Mental Health

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Criminalizing Mental Health

Criminalizing Mental Health •

This Is Crazy • Part 1 of 3 • BRAVE NEW FILMS by Brave New Films

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28 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Four detained after death toll in Austrian motorway tragedy is raised from initial estimate of about 50 victims

Locals in the Austrian town of Eisenstadt pay tribute on Thursday to the 71 people found dead in a truck near the Hungarian border, laying flowers and candles. Police discovered the bodies in an abandoned truck on the A4 motorway near the town of Parndorf. People from the community also hold banners proclaiming ‘refugees welcome’ and call for the safe passage of migrants seeking safe haven in Europe

Hungarian police have arrested the driver of a lorry found on an Austrian motorway with the decomposing bodies of 71 people, including a baby girl, inside.

Three Bulgarians and an Afghan man have been detained, police said. Detectives have also questioned almost 20 people and searched homes, they added. Earlier Austrian police said the lorry owner was a Bulgarian citizen of Lebanese origin.

The death toll was raised on Friday from initial estimates of 20 to 50 following the discovery of the remains on Thursday morning on Austria’s A4 motorway between Neusiedl and Parndorf. The truck, which had been abandoned on the hard shoulder of the road near Parndorf, had apparently been there since Wednesday. Austrian police said all those on board appeared to have suffocated and died before they entered the country.

Austrian police said of the 71 dead, 59 were men, eight women and four children, including a baby girl. The girl was between one and two. The three other children were boys, aged between eight and ten.

At a news conference in the town of Eisenstadt, Hans Peter Doskozil, police chief for the province of Burgenland, said one Syrian travel document had been found among the victims but that it was too early to say from which countries the entire group had come…………………………..

Read: how Austria has become central to Europe’s migration crisis

Austrian police release a statement on Friday confirming that three people are currently in custody in Hungary in connection with the 71 bodies – including those of children – found in a refrigerated truck abandoned on a highway in Austria. Police made the tragic discovery near the town of Parndorf on Thursday. Police believe one of the perpetrators to be a Bulgarian citizen with a Lebanese background, who is the owner of the vehicle

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Residents of one of Libya’s most notorious people-smuggling hubs take to the streets after bodies found by Libyan coastguard

Rescuers remove a body after a boat sank off the coast of Zuwara, Libya

Rescuers remove a body after a boat sank off the coast of Zuwara, Libya. Up to 200 people are feared drowned. Photograph: Mohamed Ben Khalifa/AP

Hundreds of residents of one of Libya’s most notorious people-smuggling hubs have staged an anti-smuggling protest after the discovery of up to 200 corpses in waters close to the town.

The bodies were found on Thursday by a Libyan coastguard vessel about a kilometre from Zuwara, the western port that is a major departure point for refugees hoping to reach Italy.

The incident is the latest tragedy of the European migration crisis, and if the death toll is confirmed it would mean that more than 2,500 people have drowned in the Mediterranean so far in 2015 – a record figure for this stage in the year.

Up to 200 bodies have been discovered floating off the coast of one of Libya’s main people-smuggling hubs on Thursday. The bodies were found by a coastguard vessel around a kilometre from Zuwara, a port in western Libya that is a major departure point for refugees hoping to reach Italy

Mohsen Ftis, a representative of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Zuwara, where the group trains local people to deal with washed-up bodies, said 40 bodies had been recovered from a half-sunk wooden fishing boat. Up to 160 other corpses are understood to still be floating in the sea, while about 110 survivors were rescued. Most migrant boats carry between 300 and 400 passengers, the majority within the vessels’ tiny holds.

Ftis said: “What I saw last night, it’s unbelievable. There is no right word to describe it. In front of me 40 bodies, including women and children.”

Ftis said many Zuwara residents had delivered a powerful reminder of the human cost of the town’s principal source of income. “Most of the town came out and demonstrated,” said Ftis. “They said it wasn’t human. They were emotional. They were very angry and they don’t like it.”………………………

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Speculation has reached fever pitch but party loyalists ponder can he win and what makes him different from the Democratic frontrunner

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joe Biden

Clinton and Biden in 2013. As Biden ponders a challenge to Clinton, she has rolled out a string of high-profile endorsements in the early voting contests of Iowa and South Carolina. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

As Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic presidential candidates gather in Minneapolis on Friday, one question looms over the gathering: is vice-president Joe Biden about to join them in the race?

But as speculation hits fever pitch ahead of his imminent decision, some party activists are instead beginning to ask other questions: should he run, and could he win?

For supporters of the avuncular former senator from Delaware, the answers are obvious. With Hillary Clinton in danger of losing her place as the party’s natural frontrunner amid an ongoing scandal over a private email server she used while secretary of state and doubts about her ability to connect with voters, the 72-year-old Biden – once dismissed as irredeemably gaffe-prone – has been recast as a safe pair of hands and a more authentic voice of the party’s blue collar base.

Opinion polling released by the Quinnipiac University on Thursday showed Biden outperforming Clinton against potential Republican rivals such as Jeb Bush and Donald Trump even before he has begun the long and expensive process of actually running a campaign.

The vice-president himself has preferred to frame the question not as “why run?” but as “why not?” In a leaked conference call with party leaders gathered in Minneapolis, Biden suggested his indecision was mainly down to personal reasons following the death of his son, Beau, who had urged him campaign shortly before dying of cancer.

“We’re dealing at home with … whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run,” Biden said. “If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up.”……………………….

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Three civil liberties groups say the program, Education Savings Accounts, violates the state constitution by releasing public funds to religious schools

Nevada education

Nevada lawmakers voted this spring to create the program, which is considered the broadest school choice initiative in America. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

A Nevada education funding program that’s considered the nation’s broadest school choice initiative has attracted its first legal challenge, with three civil liberties groups saying it violates the state constitution by releasing public funds to religious schools.

The American Civil Liberties Union, its Nevada affiliate and Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they filed a lawsuit Thursday in Nevada district court in Clark County. They’re asking the courts to block implementation of the state’s sweeping new program, which allows parents to claim the majority of their child’s per-pupil state education funds and use it toward private schooling or other qualifying education expenses.

The groups also want the courts to strike down the law that authorized the program.

“Parents have a right to send their children to religious schools, but they are not entitled to do so at taxpayers’ expense,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said in a statement. “The voucher program violates the Nevada Constitution’s robust protections against the use of public funds for religious education.”

The Nevada State Treasurer’s Office is administering the program and declined to comment, referring questions to the attorney general’s office. The attorney general’s office said it does not comment on pending litigation…………………………

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Virginia state prosecutor will seek indictment from grand jury over death of unarmed black 18-year-old, who was shot dead by a white police officer in April

A state prosecutor in Virginia will pursue criminal charges against a police officer who shot dead an unarmed black 18-year-old outside a supermarket in the city of Portsmouth earlier this year, it was announced on Thursday.

Stephanie Morales, the commonwealth’s attorney for Portsmouth, will request an indictment against the officer who fatally shot William Chapman, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor said in a statement. The officer has been identified by the Guardian as Stephen Rankin.

“The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has reviewed all evidence and will seek an indictment before the next grand jury,” the spokeswoman, Tamara Shewmake, said, adding Morales “will provide an update following grand jury presentment”.

Chapman was shot in the head and chest by Rankin outside a Walmart superstore on the morning of 22 April. The pair engaged in a physical struggle after Rankin tried to arrest the 18-year-old on suspicion of shoplifting, according to police. Witnesses said Chapman broke free and then stepped back towards the officer aggressively before being shot twice. The 18-year-old was the second unarmed man shot dead by Rankin.

Authorities have declined to say whether Chapman was found to have stolen anything. An autopsy report obtained by the Guardian said Chapman’s body showed no signs of a close-range shot, indicating that he was shot from several feet away……………………

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Black-capped kingfishers, yellow-vented bulbuls and toucans of Panama feature in this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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A weasel at Burley-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley, Yorkshire, England. Telling the difference between a stoat and a weasel is not easy. Stoats have black tip tail; weasals tend to have a more broken line between dark and cream-coloured fur Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

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Opinion

The US is a core market for the biggest arms companies in the UK, Germany and Italy. With so many shootings in America, how can that continue?

US policeman with gun and baton

‘There should be a debate in the EU as to whether the US is a country we should be exporting yet more guns to.’ Photograph: Findlay/Alamy

And so it goes; another week of bloody headlines about American gun shootings.

It’s something we have long come to expect. According to FBI data , in 2013 8,454 people were shot and murdered in the United States – just under 70% of all homicides. The same year the CDC reported that 21,175 people shot and killed themselves.

These figures, though, seem to have lost their power to surprise. In a country where guns are ubiquitous, and the right to bear arms is firmly enshrined in its constitution – there are 310 million guns in circulation – American gun violence seems inevitable.

It is a situation that causes many to resign themselves to the thought that nothing meaningful can ever be done. And when any European dares to raise the idea of US gun control, they are told to go take a hike.

But perhaps, as Europeans, we can do something. After all, the EU boasts a very healthy gun industry, one that certainly profits from America’s love affair with the gun. In 2012, EU countries exported small arms and ammunition to the value of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars there. That year the US was the recipient of 24% of the UK’s total small arms and ammunition exports ($28,130,000). And it made up 38% of Germany’s, 42% of Italy’s and 87% of Croatia’s small arms and ammunition export market – the three largest EU exporters to the US that year.

The truth is that some of the biggest gun companies in Europe – Beretta, Heckler & Koch, FN Herstal – all rely heavily on the US as a core market. Austria’s leading handgun manufacturer, Glock, boasts that about 65% of America’s police departments put one of their pistols “between them and a problem”.

Knowing this, the question we should perhaps be asking ourselves is, should European gun companies be exporting to the US?

The United Nations’ arms trade treaty, for instance, seeks to regulate arms transfers that could exacerbate conflict or be used to commit violations of human rights law. All EU states have signed the treaty and all, save for Greece and Cyprus, have ratified it. With as many as 110,000 people being injured or killed by guns every year there, could we be bold enough to say that the US is a nation in conflict?……………………..

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28 Aug

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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See also: Iraq – A Peoples Photo Journal

War News

Iraq News

Parliament votes via majority on the bill on political parties

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on the bill on political parties. A parliamentary source said…

Suicide bombing kills two Iraqi generals in Anbar, says Joint Operations

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – A suicide bomber in an booby-trapped vehicle has killed two Iraqi army generals north of the city…

9 ISIS elements killed, 20 explosives dismantled in Ramadi

(IraqiNews.com) Anbar – War Media Cell announced on Thursday the killing of nine ISIS elements and the dismantlement of 20 explosive devices…

Most prominent ISIS British hacker killed in US air strike in Syria

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – Reuters quoted a US source as saying that an air strike carried out by a US…

Gunmen kidnap officer from his home in Baghdad

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – A source in the police announced on Thursday, that unidentified gunmen kidnapped a colonel officer working…

ISIS executes 3 lawyers, 8 associates of the security forces in…

(IraqiNews.com) ISIS conducted a new episode in the series of crimes against the people of Mosul, where it had…

Afghanistan News

08/27/15 DoD: Air Force Casualty Identified (2 of 2)

08/27/15 DoD: Air Force Casualty Identified (1 of 2)

Nam: Hard Graf: The Wasteful War in Afghanistan

Corruption, fraud, theft, waste. These four dull horsemen of the auditor’s apocalypse are as common as violent death in Afghanistan and as the man responsible for overseeing the United States’ $109.7 billion reconstruction effort in the country, John Sopko is as well acquainted with their depressing ubiquity.

TET: In Afghanistan’s Helmand, the Taliban are talking war, not peace

LASHKAR GAH: Soldiers from the US-led NATO coalition have joined combat to stop a Taliban advance in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where battlefield success has given the insurgents’ their biggest symbolic victory in years and made talking peace a fading hope.

Afghanistan Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

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  • U. S. Casualties Total To Date Killed: 2363

  • Recently Identified Color denotes today’s confirmation

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27 Aug

Tortured in Guantánamo, Uncharged Prisoner Details a US-Created Hell

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Tortured in Guantánamo, Uncharged Prisoner Details a US-Created Hell

Thursday, 27 August 2015 00:00 By Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Little Brown and Company | Book Excerpt

A detainee looks out from a fenced-in recreational area in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Aug. 20, 2014. (Damon Winter/ The New York Times)

A detainee looks out from a fenced-in recreational area in the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Aug. 20, 2014. (Damon Winter/ The New York Times)

Mohamedou Ould Slahi has never been charged him with a crime by the United States government, yet he has been imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay since 2002. Three years into his captivity, Slahi began writing a diary, recounting life before and after this terrible miscarriage of justice befell him. Guantánamo Diary is a tremendously important book, and it can be yours to own by making a donation to Truthout today.

The CIA and US military has led Slahi on a horrific journey of torture from Mauritania to Jordan, to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan to where he is currently imprisoned in Guantánamo. The following excerpt, in Slahi’s own words, is redacted by the US government – as is the entire book. It focuses on Slahi’s first few days in Bagram before his transfer to Guantánamo.

[Editor’s note: In this excerpt, dashes represent government redactions of the diary.]

The second or the third night ——— pulled me out of my cell himself and led me to an interrogation, where the same ————– Arabic already had taken a seat. ————————————————————————————-. You could tell he was the right man for the job: he was the kind of man who wouldn’t mind doing the dirty work. The detainees back in Bagram used to call him —————-; he reportedly was responsible for torturing even innocent individuals the government released.[1]

——— didn’t need to shackle me because I was in shackles 24 hours a day. I slept, ate, used the bathroom while completely shackled, hand to feet. ——— opened a file in his hand ————————————– and started by means of the interpreter. ——— was asking me general questions about my life and my background. When he asked me, “What languages do you speak?” he didn’t believe me; he laughed along with the interpreter, saying, “Haha, you speak German? Wait, we’re gonna check.”

Suddenly —————————- the room ————————————————-. There was no mistaking it, he was ————————————————————————————————————–.[2]

“Ja Wohl,” I replied. ———– was not ————-but his German was fairly acceptable, given that he spent ———————————————————————————. He confirmed to his colleague that my German was “———-.”

Both looked at me with some respect after that, though the respect was not enough to save me from ——— wrath. ——— asked me where I learned to speak German, and said that he was going to interrogate me again later. ————————-, “Wahrheit macht frei, the truth sets you free.”

When I heard him say that, I knew the truth wouldn’t set me free, because “Arbeit” didn’t set the Jews free. Hitler’s propaganda machinery used to lure Jewish detainees with the slogan, “Arbeit macht frei,” Work sets you free. But work set nobody free.

——— took a note in his small notebook and left the room. ——– sent me back to my room and apologized ——————-.[3]

“I am sorry for keeping you awake for so long,”

“No problem!” — replied.

After several days in isolation I was transferred to the general population, but I could only look at them because I was put in the narrow barbed-wire corridor between the cells. I felt like I was out of jail, though, and I cried and thanked God. After eight months of total isolation, I saw fellow detainees more or less in my situation. “Bad” detainees like me were shackled 24 hours a day and put in the corridor, where every passing guard or detainee stepped on them. The place was so narrow that the barbed wire kept pinching me for the next ten days. I saw ——————— being force-fed; he was on a forty-five day hunger strike. The guards were yelling at him, and he was bouncing a dry piece of bread between his hands. All the detainees looked so worn out, as if they had been buried and after several days resurrected, but ——————- was a completely different story: he was bones without meat. It reminded me of the pictures you see in documentaries about WWII prisoners.

Detainees were not allowed to talk to each other, but we enjoyed looking at each other. The punishment for talking was hanging the detainee by the hands with his feet barely touching the ground. I saw an Afghani detainee who passed out a couple of times while hanging from his hands. The medics “fixed” him and hung him back up. Other detainees were luckier: they were hung for a certain time and then released. Most of the detainees tried to talk while they were hanging, which made the guards double their punishment. There was a very old Afghani fellow who reportedly was arrested to turn over his son. The guy was mentally sick; he couldn’t stop talking because he didn’t know where he was, nor why. I don’t think he understood his environment, but the guards kept dutifully hanging him. It was so pitiful. One day one of the guards threw him on his face, and he was crying like a baby.

We were put in about six or seven big barbed- wire cells named after operations performed against the U.S: Nairobi, U.S.S. Cole, Dar-Es-Salaam, and so on. In each cell there was a detainee called English, who benevolently served as an interpreter to translate the orders to his co-detainees. Our English was a gentleman from Sudan named ——————. His English was very basic, and so he asked me secretly whether I spoke English. “No,” I replied— but as it turned out I was a Shakespeare compared to him. My brethren thought that I was denying them my services, but I just didn’t know how bad the situation was.

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(Image: Little, Brown and Company)

Now I was sitting in front of bunch of dead regular U.S. citizens. My first impression, when I saw them chewing without a break, was, What’s wrong with these guys, do they have to eat so much? Most of the guards were tall, and overweight. Some of them were friendly and some very hostile. Whenever I realized that a guard was mean I pretended that I understood no English. I remember one cowboy coming to me with an ugly frown on his face:

“You speak English?” he asked.

“No English,” I replied.

“We don’t like you to speak English. We want you to die slowly,” he said.

“No English,” I kept replying. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction that his message arrived. People with hatred always have something to get off their chests, but I wasn’t ready to be that drain.

Prayer in groups wasn’t allowed. Everybody prayed on his own, and so did I. Detainees had no clues about prayer time. We would just imitate: when a detainee started to pray, we assumed it was time and followed. The Koran was available to detainees who asked for one. I don’t remember asking myself, because the handling by the guards was just disrespectful; they threw it to each other like a water bottle when they passed the holy book through. I didn’t want to be a reason for humiliating God’s word. Moreover, thank God, I know the Koran by heart. As far as I recall, one of the detainees secretly passed me a copy that nobody was using in the cell.

After a couple of days, ——————— pulled me to interrogate me. ———– acted as an interpreter.

“Tell me your story,” ——— asked.

“My name is, I graduated in 1988, I got a scholarship to Germany….” I replied in very boring detail, none of which seemed to interest or impress ———. He grew tired and started to yawn. I knew exactly what he wanted to hear, but I couldn’t help him.

He interrupted me. “My country highly values the truth. Now I’m gonna ask you some questions, and if you answer truthfully, you’re gonna be released and sent safely to your family. But if you fail, you’re gonna be imprisoned indefinitely. A small note in my agenda book is enough to destroy your life. What terrorist organizations are you part of?”

“None,” I replied.

“You’re not a man, and you don’t deserve respect. Kneel, cross your hands, and put them behind your neck.”

I obeyed the rules and he put a bag over my head. My back was hurting bad lately and that position was so painful; ——— was working on my sciatic problem.[4] ——— brought two projectors and adjusted them on my face. I couldn’t see, but the heat overwhelmed me and I started to sweat.

“You’re gonna be sent to a U.S. facility, where you’ll spend the rest of your life,” he threatened. “You’ll never see your family again. Your family will be f**cked by another man. In American jails, terrorists like you get raped by multiple men at the same time. The guards in my country do their job very well, but being raped is inevitable. But if you tell me the truth, you’re gonna be released immediately.”

I was old enough to know that he was a rotten liar and a man with no honor, but he was in charge, so I had to listen to his bullshit again and again. I just wished that the agencies would start to hire smart people. Did he really think that anybody would believe his nonsense? Somebody would have to be stupid: was he stupid, or did he think I was stupid? I would have respected him more had he told me, “Look, if you don’t tell me what I want to hear, I’m gonna torture you.”

Anyway, I said, “Of course I will be truthful!”

“What terrorist organizations are you part of?”

“None!” I replied. He put back the bag on my head and started a long discourse of humiliation, cursing, lies, and threats. I don’t really remember it all, nor am I ready to sift in my memory for such bullshit. I was so tired and hurt, and tried to sit but he forced me back. I cried from the pain. Yes, a man my age cried silently. I just couldn’t bear the agony.

——— after a couple of hours sent me back to my cell, promising me more torture. “This was only the start,” as he put it. I was returned to my cell, terrorized and worn out. I prayed to Allah to save me from him. I lived the days to follow in horror: whenever ——— went past our cell I looked away, avoiding seeing him so he wouldn’t “see” me, exactly like an ostrich. ——— was checking on everybody, day and night, and giving the guards the recipe for every detainee. I saw him torturing this other detainee. I don’t want to recount what I heard about him; I just want to tell what I saw with my eyes. It was an Afghani teenager, I would say 16 or 17. ——— made him stand for about three days, sleepless. I felt so bad for him. Whenever he fell down the guards came to him, shouting “no sleep for terrorists,” and made him stand again. I remember sleeping and waking up, and he stood there like a tree.

Whenever I saw ——— around, my heart started to pound, and he was often around. One day he sent a —————- interpreter to me to pass me a message.

“——— is gonna kick your ass.”

Footnotes:

1. At his December 15, 2005, Administrative Review Board (ARB) hearing, MOS described a U.S. interrogator in Bagram who was Japanese American and whom Bagram prisoners referred to as “William the Torturer.” ARB transcript, 23. The lead interrogator here could be that interrogator. MOS’s 2005 ARB hearing transcript is available at http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/Detainee/csrt_arb/ARB_Transcript_Set_8_20751-21016.pdf, p. 23 transcript, p. 206 in link.

2. Context suggests the second interrogator addressed MOS in German.

3. Context suggests the apology is directed to the interpreter.

4. At his 2005 ARB hearing, MOS indicated that an interrogator nicknamed “William the Torturer” made him kneel for “very long hours” to aggravate his sciatic nerve pain and later threatened him. ARB transcript, 23.

Excerpted from Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Diary and annotated diary copyright © 2015 by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Introduction and notes copyright © 2015 by Larry Siems. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.

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