25 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



Bulk of remaining detainees – who US politicians refer to as ‘worst of the worst’ – were rounded up by Pakistani and Afghan spies, warlords and security services

Camp Six detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The three remaining Guantánamo detainees caught by US forces are Pakistani Saifullah Paracha and Afghans Abdul Zahir and Obaidullah. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Only three of the 116 men still detained at Guantánamo Bay were apprehended by US forces, a Guardian review of military documents has uncovered.

The foundations of the guilt of the remaining 113, whom US politicians often refer to as the “worst of the worst” terrorists, involves a degree of faith in the Pakistani and Afghan spies, warlords and security services who initially captured 98 of the remaining Guantánamo population.

According to an analysis of long-neglected US military capture information, 68 of the residual Guantánamo detainees were captured by Pakistani security forces or apparent informants. Another 30 were sent to the notorious wartime facility by forces from Afghanistan – mostly warlords and affiliates of early US efforts to topple the Taliban after 9/11.

No US official nor human rights critic believes all 116 detainees are innocent of all terrorism charges. Yet the reality that nearly 85% of detentions at Guantánamo stem from foreign partners with their own interests in round-ups – overwhelmingly of Arab men in south Asian countries – rarely factors into the heated rhetoric from conservative politicians who warn of dire consequences should Barack Obama finally close the facility.

Senator Kelly Ayotte said in March that “most of the remaining Guantánamo detainees are the worst of the worst terrorists”, in a typical sentiment echoed this week by her Republican colleagues.

Knowledgable US officials, including former Guantánamo prosecutors, consider that assessment overblown, particularly for the 52 men approved in 2010 by a multi-agency US assessment for transfer out of the facility. Those detainees they consider actually worrisome at Guantánamo are “low-level fighters in minor operational roles”, said one official who insisted on anonymity, calling them “Pfc al-Qaida at best” to indicate their low rank……………………


  • Politicians named in leaflet deplore it as ‘false and outrageous’
  • Flyer linked to November elections also states ‘Zimmerman was right’

racist flyer detroit southfield

The flyer that has been distributed in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. Photograph: Ryan Felton

A racist political flyer has begun circulating in a Detroit suburb, calling on voters to “get the blacks” out of office this November.

The flyer, distributed by an anonymous and still unknown source this weekend, included photographs of white politicians vying for several positions in Southfield, Michigan, a 70% African American city that borders Detroit to the north. Two of the officials in the flyer – which states, “Let’s get the blacks of Southfield in November” – are not running for office this fall.

On the back, a photograph of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager from Florida who was fatally shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman, is sandwiched beneath a message that reads: “Zimmerman was right. We will never stop thugs like this.”

The existence of the flyer was first reported by local Fox affiliate WJBK. It quickly spread across social media, where politicians featured in the circular responded on Monday, saying it was “false and outrageous”.

A second flyer, obtained by local ABC affiliate WXYZ, shows a police officer wearing a white Ku Klux Klan hood, pointing a gun at the temple of a child who appears to be holding a package of candy. Martin was said to be holding a bag of Skittles when Zimmerman approached him on 26 February 2012.

Ken Siver, a candidate for mayor whose photo and name appear on the flyer, said Southfield had a reputation as a diversity community that “welcomes all people”. That was why he was “considerably upset to learn that someone would produce something like this and make these false and outrageous complaints, not to mention to exploit and insult the memory of Trayvon Martin”, he wrote in a statement on Tuesday on Facebook…………………..


Oleg Sentsov is convicted of plotting terror attacks but critics say the prosecution was revenge for his pro-Ukraine views

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov stands inside a defendants’ cage during his trial in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov stands inside a defendants’ cage during his trial in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Photograph: Sergei Venyavsky/AFP/Getty Images

A Russian court has sentenced Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov to 20 years in jail, after a trial that has been criticised as fabricated and farcical.

Sentsov, and his co-defendant Alexander Kolchenko, who received a 10-year sentence at the trial on Tuesday, were accused of planning terrorist acts in Crimea after the peninsula was annexed by Russia last year.

The trial was littered with irregularities: Sentsov, 39, said he had been tortured, while investigators dismissed the bruises on his body as being a result of a supposed penchant for sadomasochistic sex. The main prosecution witness recanted in the courtroom and said his evidence had been extorted under torture. No “acts of terrorism” were ever committed, he said, except for an arson incident in which nobody was injured and in which Sentsov denied involvement…………………..


‘A court of occupiers cannot be just’: Ukrainian director’s courtroom speech

Estimates of those requiring help have surged by 1.5m, and donors must urgently provide an extra $230m to meet their needs, say UN agencies

An Ethiopian man tries to save a calf affected by the drought. Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, but failed rains have had devastating consequences for food supplies.

An Ethiopian man tries to save a calf affected by the drought. Failed rains in the country have had devastating consequences for food supplies. Photograph: Sammy Seifu/Unocha

The number of Ethiopians who will need food aid by the end of this year has surged by more than 1.5 million from earlier estimates, according to United Nations agencies. After failed rains, some 4.5m people are now projected to require assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) , the World Food Programme and the UN children’s agency, Unicef, said.

This is an increase of 55% on initial projections of 2.9 million, and means donors must urgently provide an extra $230m to meet these needs.

Gillian Mellsop, Unicef representative and acting humanitarian coordinator, said donors had been generous but more was needed to prevent unnecessary human suffering. “The situation facing us today marks a significant change in our plans, requiring the scaling up of assistance, now,” she said.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with nearly double-digit growth every year for the last decade, but failed rains have had devastating consequences for food supplies for its 96 million people.

“The belg rains were much worse than the National Meteorology Agency predicted at the beginning of the year. Food insecurity increased and malnutrition rose as a result,” said David Del Conte, Ocha’s acting head of office in Ethiopia, referring to the short rainy season that stretches from February to April.

Areas normally producing surplus food in the central Oromia region were also affected by shortages, and lack of water has affected livestock there and in other pastoralist areas, the agencies said.

In its August report on Ethiopia, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), said unusual livestock deaths and unseasonal migration were continuing and livestock prices and demand had fallen sharply. There was very little rain during the first three weeks of July, and the June-to-September rainfall was well below average in most eastern, central and southern crop-producing areas……………..



US firms await outcome of Congress deliberations over Iran agreement, leaving them at the back of the queue for a market due to reopen after years of sanctions

Iran Coca Cola seller

Taste of America … soft drinks are delivered in Tehran, but other US goods may take longer to arrive. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP

The ink was barely dry on the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear programme before a German government plane packed with the nation’s economic elite touched down in Tehran.

The trip was the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions. Upscale Tehran hotels are packed and tables at trendy restaurants are scarce as foreigners jostle for bargains, even amid uncertainty over whether President Obama can overcome US congressional opposition to the deal.

The stream of visitors to Tehran is the latest sign of the Atlantic-wide divide between the US and Europe, where there is scant opposition to the pact that aims to crimp Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama and secretary of state John Kerry have warned detractors that they would be unable to reimpose a multinational trade embargo if congress rejects the plans. The other five countries that helped broker the deal have also told congress they will not return to the negotiating table. The trips show that US leaders can’t keep Europeans from flying to Tehran ahead of the congressional vote, which must take place by 17 September…………….



Science shows we can’t assume that uranium deposits, when disturbed by mining, can’t leak into groundwater. We should be wary of claims to the contrary

Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona

I am concerned because industry and agency officials are relying on a justification that isn’t supported by past investigations, research or data to promote uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region. Photograph: Alamy

It only takes a few Grand Canyon hikes to realize the importance of its springs and other water sources. When refilling a water bottle in the cool depths below multi-colored rock walls, listening to a summer frog symphony at sunset or maybe snapping an icicle from a weeping ledge in winter, it’s clear that the living desert depends on its pockets of water.

That’s why, as a hydrologist and longtime Grand Canyon hiker, boatman and scientist, I am profoundly concerned about continued uranium mining in or near it. It has great potential to irreparably harm Grand Canyon springs and the plants and animals that depend on them.

I am concerned because industry and agency officials are relying on a justification that isn’t supported by past investigations, research or data to promote uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region. Specifically, they claim that mining will have minimal impact on springs, people and ecosystems there.

Instead, the science shows that it is unreasonable to assume that uranium deposits, when disturbed by mining, can’t leak into groundwater. The deposits in the Grand Canyon are typically found in geologic features known as breccia pipes, formed millennia ago when caves in the main groundwater system collapsed, leaving shattered, rock-filled chimneys that extend upwards thousands of feet to the canyon’s rim. These chimneys act as conduits that have allowed groundwater to move vertically through the rock layers over thousands of years. The vertical movement of groundwater combined with low oxygen levels caused the uranium deposits to form over millennia. Inserting a mine shaft into these features disrupts geologic formations, increases the permeability and oxygenation of these vertical pipes and increases the ability of ore deposits to be suddenly dissolved, mobilized and carried with groundwater.

It is unreasonable to assume that elevated concentrations of dissolved uranium cannot be mobilized and will not reach the Grand Canyon’s springs. It is also risky for industry to assume that mining activities, such as the sinking of mining shafts and pumping of groundwater, have no potential to redirect groundwater movement and negatively impact spring flow and associated wildlife habitats………………..



The party’s presidential candidates want to deny birthright citizenship to people like me because they know we’ll vote them out of office

Luggage Babies Babies born to immigrants in America help their parents learn to navigate what, for the children, is native culture. Photograph: Fred Morley/Getty Images

I’m so happy that all the passengers in the Republican Party’s presidential-candidate clown car have united against so-called anchor babies. You know: the children born in this country to immigrants, legal or not – children that the United States Constitution calls “citizens” but that the Republican’s aspiring commanders-in-chief have collectively decided are an existential threat to America.

They’re right. We – yep, I’m an anchor baby; more on that in a bit – are helping to expose the GOP’s anxieties by simply existing. Opponents of birthright citizenship are demonizing us as living, breathing reminders of this nation’s failed immigration policies, and find it so easy to do because we’re not gabachos. Nearly all of us are from America’s eternal and modern-day enemies: Red China, the Middle East and Latin America, especially Mexico. And such facts expose what’s really freaking out the right: the destiny of demographics.

From the the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the origins of the term “anchor babies” (used as “anchor children” to slur Vietnamese-American refugees – those immigrants that the GOP nowadays say came to this country the “right” way), to the present-day, birthright citizenship has always been a battlefield for politicians to try to deny citizenship to the latest non-whites clamoring to become American.

Now, candidates are again raising the issue – even candidates of color, like Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, who are gleefully lambasting the US-born children of undocumented immigrants in a vain attempt to prove they can be as bigoted as the people whose votes they desire. But this is just a last-gasp, futile effort to stop the Anchor Baby Nation from dawning. Numbers already show that American children will be majority-minority by 2020. By trashing immigrant kiddies, Donald Trump and his ilk think they can will this reality from happening.

It’ll all be OK, guys. Take my family, for example. My maternal grandmother was born in Arizona to two Mexicans who had fled the Mexican Revolution but returned there when my abuelita was seven. When she and my grandfather decided to migrate to the US in the early 1960s with their children (my mom, aunts and uncles), the process was incredibly simple on account of my grandmother’s American citizenship, never mind that she hadn’t lived here since the 1920s……………………




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