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16 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Senate filibuster ends as Democrat claims gun control victory

Chris Murphy, who led Democrats in holding floor for more than 14 hours, says deal was struck with Republicans for vote on background checks and terror watchlist

The McGlynn, Some Thoughts:

Thank you,  Senator Murphy and Congratulations to the senator, but at most this is just a start of the long road back to sanity.

 However if the past is prologue what we will now see is a thin list of watery proposals that will get watered down even further in the legislative process and then voted down completely.

The level of tragedy will increase in the United States, along with the power of the NRA.

It is interesting to note that some legal experts argue that the Second Amendment only provides for the legality of weapons available at the time it was ratified – like muskets. Doubtless the number of victims of massacres would be significantly reduced if the deranged psychopath was using a flintlock musket instead of an automatic weapon.

US gun laws are crazy and an affront to citizens who have the right to go about their business without fear of being shot. I say this because the number of people shot each year in the US is much, much higher than any other country in the civilized world.

(1)Disarming is not letting the criminals run wild.

(2) Disarming is removing the ridiculously high number of guns that criminals can currently get their hands on.
(3) Disarming will also stop the quite frankly ridiculous statistic that toddlers kill more American citizens than terrorists do.
(4) Disarming will also remove the situation where American soldiers today are in more danger in the US than they are in Iraq or Afghanistan. If your trip home is more dangerous than a war zone, something has gone wrong.
(6) Disarming will also help lower the number of suicides. It is a fact that just a little bit of inconvenience is enough to stop a lot of suicides. Gun ownership removes that inconvenience.

(7) The US has the highest gun ownership in the western world, yet despite the claim that gun ownership in some way combats criminals, we also have the highest incarceration rate in the western world..

To the rest of the world fourteen long hours just to ban guns to suspected terrorists sounds like insanity . Ban the damn killing machines altogether!

The vast majority of mass shootings have nothing to do with foreign terrorism. Orlando was not an act of foreign terrorism. There will always be another mass shooting about to happen in the US until gun ownership is severely restricted. This is just a simple fact of American life and to treat this as normal and acceptable is a textbook definition of insanity.

The McGlynn

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy emerges after leading a 14-hour filibuster in the US Senate pushing for tighter gun control.

Chris Murphy emerges after leading a 14-hour filibuster in the US Senate pushing for tighter gun control. Photograph: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

A marathon Democratic filibuster in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre came to an end in the US Senate on Thursday morning after Republicans apparently agreed to hold votes on tighter gun control measures.

Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, led the filibuster which lasted for more than 14 hours along with several colleagues. In the early hours of Thursday morning in Washington, Murphy said a deal had been struck with Republican leaders to hold votes on key measures.

Murphy yielded the floor at 2.11am, saying he had won commitments from Republican leaders that they would hold votes on amendments to expand background checks and ban gun sales to suspected terrorists.

The Connecticut senator had promised at the outset that he would remain on the Senate floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together” on gun control.

As the filibuster continued, updates and messages of support were posted on social media with the hashtags #enough and #holdthefloor.

Murphy evoked the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012 in a plea that came as the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, said he would meet with the National Rifle Association (NRA) about the terror watchlist and gun purchases……….

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  • Report finds 158 financial institutions in 14 countries invested $28bn
  • Munitions which kill thousands of civilians are banned under 2008 convention

A British Royal Air Force Harrier GR7 taxis past a bomb-trolley of cluster bombs prior to them being loaded at its base in Kuwait in 2003.

A British Royal Air Force Harrier GR7 taxis past a bomb-trolley of cluster bombs prior to them being loaded at its base in Kuwait in 2003. Photograph: Reuters Photographer/Reuters

More than 150 financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America invested $28bn in companies that produce cluster bombs despite an international ban, according to a new report by the Netherlands-based peace organization PAX.

The report includes a “Hall of Shame”, a list of 158 banks, pension funds and other financial institutions that have invested in cluster munitions producers since June 2012, according to the 2016 report, titled Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility. The leading financial investors come from 14 countries including the United States, Canada and the UK, and include the investment firms China Everbright Group and T Rowe Price.

Cluster bombs are banned under international law by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a 2008 Oslo treaty which was signed by more than 100 countries. The convention was the result of a years-long campaign against the weapons, which kill indiscriminately.

A majority of the institutions on the list are from countries that have not signed the convention, including the United States, China and South Korea.

However, the report notes that several financial institutions are from signatory countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany.

The report calls for all of the financial institutions to sever all financial links with companies involved in cluster munitions productions and develop divestment policies that apply to all aspects of their business, including commercial banking, investment banking and asset management.

“It is an absolute outrage that financial institutions are investing billions into companies that produce weapons which are banned under international law,” Suzanne Oosterwijk, the author of the report, said in a statement. “Canada has also banned these weapons. It is time for financial institutions to stop disregarding the international norm with these explosive investments into producers of illegal weapons that maim and kill civilians.”……………

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Office of Medical Staff detailed exactly how to enforce sleep deprivation, limit food intake, waterboard and use ‘confinement boxes’, declassified report revealed

torture

The latest declassified documents provide details on torture methods outlined in the 2004 document on ‘guidelines on medical and psychological support’ for torture. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CIA medical personnel acknowledged that placing detainees in small boxes barely large enough to fit their bodies inside was not “particularly effective”, but they still provided guidance permitting interrogators to continue using the so-called “confinement boxes” for hours on end.

Sensitive agency documents, declassified on Tuesday, provide a new level of detail on the intimate involvement of its medical staff during its post-9/11 torture program. Officials assigned to the Office of Medical Staff (OMS) provided precise specifications for enforcing sleep deprivation, limiting the caloric intake of detainees’ food, and the proper positions for waterboarding, as outlined in a 2004 document providing “guidelines on medical and psychological support” for torture.

In the event that a detainee stopped eating inside the agency’s unacknowledged prisons overseas, known as “black sites”, OMS advised that the preferred method to forcibly feed a detainee was rectally – a procedure that human-rights advocates have equated to sexual assault.

Since a 2014 Senate report criticized the CIA for running what it characterized as an ineffective, brutal regimen of incommunicado confinement, the agency has pointed to the involvement of OMS staff to claim it performed its torture within doctor-mandated safeguards. Yet human-rights-minded physicians say OMS staff violated a fundamental obligation of medical ethics – to do no harm – and instead provided agency torturers with a physiologically informed blueprint for inflicting pain.

“The guidelines are an affront to my profession, the medical and mental-health professions, and health professionals should know better and be ashamed of defending a document like this,” said Vincent Iacopino, the medical director of Physicians for Human Rights.

Among the procedures discussed in the 2004 document, is a method for placing detainees in what it termed “awkward boxes”. The technique, first proposed by contractor psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, is known as the “confinement box” and was dramatized in the movie Zero Dark Thirty……………

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Employee is held on suspicion of ‘extracting confidential information’ from law firm at centre of Panama Papers

Mossack Fonseca office

Data from 11.5m Mossack Fonseca documents was leaked and shared with media organisations including the Guardian. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters

An IT worker at the Geneva offices of Mossack Fonseca, the offshore law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal, has been arrested in the hunt for the whistleblower behind the biggest ever leak to journalists.

Early last year, an individual using the alias John Doe approached the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, offering data from the internal files of Mossack Fonseca. The leak led to the resignation of the Icelandic prime minister in April this year and sparked international protests over the use of tax havens by financial and political elites.

“A procedure has been opened by the public ministry of Geneva following a complaint made by Mossack Fonseca,” a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. She said further information would follow in due course. The person arrested has not been named.

Uncertainty surrounds the reasons for the arrest. Süddeutsche Zeitung believes that the person arrested is not the newspaper’s source. Bastian Obermayer, who jointly led the investigation at the German paper, told the Guardian: “According to our information this is not John Doe”…………..

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In a bid to cut costs, more state prisons and county jails are adding healthcare to the growing list of services that are outsourced to for-profit companies

More than half of all state and local prisons and jails have outsourced their healthcare, and the industry is worth more than $3bn a year.

More than half of all state and local prisons and jails have outsourced their healthcare, and the industry is worth more than $3bn a year. Photograph: Alamy

Getting locked up is unlikely to be good for your health but it’s “terrific, terrific” business for the booming private industry supplying doctors and nurses to jails and prisons. Many of those suppliers descended on Austin, Texas, last month to tout their services directly to jail administrators at the 35th annual American Jail Association conference.

As trade fairs go, this one is a little macabre. Companies line up to market everything from jumpsuits and meal trays to masks to stop prisoners from spitting, straitjackets and other full-body restraints. Once the national anthem had been observed and the AJA’s chaplain had led a prayer for jailers across the country, those gathered at Austin’s convention centre could get down to business: making money.

How long prisons will continue to be such money-spinners could depend on who wins the race for the White House. On the campaign trail Hillary Clinton has vowed to “end private prisons and private detention centers. They are wrong.” Donald Trump, on the other hand, has called for increased outsourcing of prisons. “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations, and private prisons it seems work a lot better,” he said in an MSNBC town hall earlier this month……….

Related:

Private healthcare companies banking on US prison system – video

and , Source: The Guardian

Private healthcare companies descended on Austin, Texas, last month to tout their services to jail administrators at a trade fair where they market everything from jumpsuits and meal trays to straitjackets and other restraints. More than half of all state and local prisons and jails have outsourced their healthcare, and the industry is worth more than $3bn a year

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US politics

Election 2016

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Exclusive: Four Australian Catholic orders are jointly and publicly divesting from coal, oil and gas: ‘We believe the Gospel asks no less of us’

Divesting from fossil fuels: open letter from religious leaders in full

A nun reads Laudato Si'

A nun reads Pope Francis’s encyclical, a collection of principles to guide Catholic teaching, entitled Laudato Si’, at its official presentation, on 18 June, 2015 at the Vatican. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Four Australian Catholic organisations have announced they are completely divesting from coal, oil and gas in what they say is the first joint Catholic divestment anywhere in the world.

The move comes as prominent Jewish rabbis, Muslim clerics, Anglican bishops and other religious leaders call on the Australian government to protect the Great Barrier Reef, stop approving coalmines and remove subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, in an open letter published by the Guardian.

The divestment announcement – the first by any Catholic organisation in Australia – and letter were coordinated by the multi-faith group the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, in partnership with the environmental group 350.org.

It comes a year after Pope Francis, in his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, called on all people – not just Catholics – to take “swift and unified global action” to protect the environment and stop global warming. It is part of Laudato Si’ week, in which Catholic organisations around the world discuss their role in tackling climate change.

At the time the papal intervention was labelled “explosive” and “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years”.

The four Catholic orders publicly divesting are: Marist Sisters Australia; Presentation Congregation Queensland; Presentation Sisters Wagga Wagga; and the Passionists – Holy Spirit Province Australia, NZ, PNG and Vietnam…………

open letter

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English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All

Some of the available newspapers:

Asia – UN IRIN News

www.irinnews.org/

Asia & CIS (Updated Link!)

www.newscentralasia.net/

China

english.peopledaily.com.cn/home.html

China

www.xinhuanet.com/english/

China

www.chinadaily.com.cn/

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