Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1,700 US Prisoners On Hunger Strike To Protest Abuse & Torture & Media Still Under-reports Number of Iraqi Civilians Killed

1,700 prisoners in the US civilian prisons are on hunger strike to protest against abusive treatment and torture for instance in the form of long term incarceration in solitary confinement and other abuses.

The federal government and state governments are as we know fact free and so ignore any studies showing the damage being done to prisoners by abuses such as solitary confinement .

Its like America's cavalier attitude towards veterans claiming to be suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or even brain injury .

The typical American Common Sense notion is that if you cann't see the wound it doesn't exist so it is easy then to sympathize with someone who lost a limb as opposed to someone suffering PTSD.

It appears the US mainstream Media is avoiding spending any real effort or time on this story. And why is that because in America's conservative environment most of the media and American citizens are of the view that the harsher the conditions in prisons the better.

Just take a look at what the notorious and celebrated toughest Sheriff in America Joe Arpaio of Arizona treats his prisoner keepin the prisoners in tents in the desert where they have to endure the heat in the day and the cold at night. Arpaio makes the prisoners wear pink underwear and are made to walk through the streets which is referred to as the walk of shame.

Support the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike!

"Inmate Health Dwindles as Prison Hunger Strike Enters Fourth Week Colorlines. july 18, 2011

“End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse” would end group punishment as a means to address an individual inmates rule violations.
“Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria” The practice of “debriefing,” or offering up information about fellow prisoners particularly regarding gang status, is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Prisoners demand the end to debriefing because it puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches.”
“Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement” Prisoners demand a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities. This demand includes access to adequate natural sunlight and health care treatment.

“Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food” Prisoners’ demands include the end to the practice of denying adequate food as a means of punishment, asking for wholesome nutritional meals
“Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates” demands include a weekly phone call, permission to keep wall calendars and craft items - art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, etc.
Dunn, one of the mediators between the prisoners on hunger strike and the California Department of Corrections, (CDC) reports prison official have offered nothing. He says prisoners are sticking through with their demands because they don’t have much to to lose:

“They felt disrespected but are staying committed to this course of action until CDC stops the torture. Some of them have been in solitary lockup for multiple decades with no possibly of getting out of the hole. They would rather die or continue to be tortured before they’d surrender their soul.”

Prisoners Strike Against Torture in California Prisons by Marjorie Cohn via, July 20, 2011

The torture of prisoners in U.S. custody isn’t confined to foreign countries. For more than two weeks, inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison have been on a hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) there. Prisoners have been held for years in solitary confinement, which can amount to torture. Thousands of inmates throughout California’s prison system have refused food in solidarity with the Pelican Bay prisoners, bringing the total of hunger strikers to more than 1,700.

Inmates in the SHU are confined to their cells for 22 ½ hours a day, mostly for administrative convenience. They are released for only one hour to walk in a small area with high walls. The cells in the SHU are eight feet by 10 feet with no windows. Flourescent lights are often kept on 24 hours per day.

Solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and even suicide, particularly in mentally ill prisoners. It is considered torture, as journalist Lance Tapley explains in his chapter on American Supermax prisons in The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.

" 1 Million Dead in Iraq? 6 Reasons the Media Hide the True Human Toll of War -- And Why We Let Them Most Americans turn a blind eye to the violent acts being carried out in their name." by John Tirman via, July 19, 2011

As the U.S. war in Iraq winds down, we are entering a familiar phase, the season of forgetting—forgetting the harsh realities of the war. Mostly we forget the victims of the war, the Iraqi civilians whose lives and society have been devastated by eight years of armed conflict. The act of forgetting is a social and political act, abetted by the American news media. Throughout the war, but especially now, the minimal news we get from Iraq consistently devalues the death toll of Iraqi civilians.

Why? A number of reasons are at work in this persistent evasion of reality. But forgetting has consequences, especially as it braces the obstinate right-wing narrative of “victory” in the Iraq war. If we forget, we learn nothing.

...It’s very rare to hear anything approximating the likely death toll, which is well into the hundreds of thousands, possibly more than one million. It‘s a textbook case of how opinion gatekeepers reinforce each other’s caution. Because the number of civilians killed in a U.S. war is so morally fraught, the news media, academics and political leaders tend to gravitate toward the figure (if mentioned at all) that is least disturbing.

The “tens of thousands” mantra is peculiar because even the most conservative calculation—that provided by Iraq Body Count, a British NGO—is now more than 100,000, and IBC acknowledges that their number is probably about half correct. They count only civilians killed by violence who are named in English-language news and some morgue counts. Their method is incomplete for a number of reasons—news media coverage is far from comprehensive, most obviously—and many Iraqis who are killed are not labeled by authorities as civilians. The death toll from nonviolent deaths (women dying in childbirth, for example, because the health care system has been devastated by the war) is also very high and is not included in IBC’s tally.

The more accurate figures come from household surveys and other methods, and these have much higher figures. I commissioned one conducted by Johns Hopkins scientists in 2006 that yielded a figure of 650,000, which was hotly disputed, but another around the same time yielded a total of more than 400,000 dead, including all Iraqis from all causes. Both surveys followed state-of-the-art epidemiological practice. And a lot of killing was still to come after those surveys were done.

... Make the rounds of right-wing blogs and think tanks and you’ll find a constant refrain: the war, despite its many difficulties, was worth it to get rid of Saddam Hussein. As Richard Miniter of the Hudson Institute put it last September, “The death tolls in the Saddam years were far higher than in the years following liberation; hundreds of thousands disappeared into mass graves.“

...But what the right-wing triumphalists assert does not explain why the elite media bury the mortality issue. A half-dozen reasons explain their indifference to accurate reporting

......First, many of these news outlets had endorsed the war and never quite recanted.

...Second, the Bush White House worked overtime to decry any of the high estimates, and the Murdoch media machine did its part in attempting to discredit the household surveys in particular.
The reaction to the Johns Hopkins estimate of 650,000 “excess deaths” came in for savage treatment, trashed as a “political hit” in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. This campaign against the scientists had a chilling effect.

Third, journalists have rarely if ever engaged the technical debate about estimating casualties, preferring to report mortality—if at all—as a political story.

...For many reasons—not least the hunger for heroes in the aftermath of 9/11—the troops have been accorded nearly unprecedented adulation, and such heroes cannot be accused of excessive use of force...

...Fifth is racism (which) ...surely accounts for some of the cavalier disrespect the public and press show toward the civilian suffering in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The sixth and last explanation for indifference—and perhaps the most powerful—is a psychological one. We tend to avert our eyes from gruesome spectacle; it disrupts our sense of an orderly, just world. We want to believe that the mayhem is not happening, that in the end everything will be all right, or that the victims are to blame.

...But the major news media enjoy influence that few institutions possess, and with that have a responsibility to be more comprehensive, more energetic, in getting and presenting the full scope of war. Missing the WMD story before the war has been the focus of press criticism. But the bigger failure—the more consequential failure—is neglecting the fate of the people subjected to the U.S. occupation. And once all the American troops are withdrawn, the season of forgetting will be in full flower.

The US has been threatening to cut off all aid to Pakistan but as Pepe Escobar points out Pakistan is no longer that concerned about receiving aid from the USA since it has other irons in the fire from the gas pipe line project which is close to being finished and to being befriended by Iran and China.

" Why Pakistan Isn't the Slightest Bit Scared by Washington's Threat to Cut off the Aid Supply
Pakistan is strategically at the center of too many plans for it to rely on the US -- with pipeline plans, Iran and China as neighbors and a planet hungry for natural gas." by Pepe Escobar Asia Times via July 12, 2011

Before the end of 2011, Pakistan will start working on its stretch of the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline - according to Asim Hussain, Pakistan's federal minister for petroleum and natural resources. The 1,092 kilometers of pipeline on the Iranian side are already in place.

IP, also known as "the peace pipeline", was originally IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India). Although it badly needs gas for its economic expansion, faced with immense pressure by the George W Bush - and then Barack Obama - administrations, India still has not committed to the project, even after a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008.

...More than 740 million cubic feet of gas per year will start flowing to Pakistan from Iran's giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf by 2014. This is an immense development in the Pipelineistan "wars" in Eurasia. IP is a major node in the much-vaunted Asian Energy Security Grid - the progressive energy integration of Southwest, South, Central and East Asia that is the ultimate mantra for Eurasian players as diverse as Iran, China, India and the Central Asian "stans".

Another reason Pakistan is not worried about losing most of its aid from US is that there were too many strings attached besides the unacknowledged American spies sent in as part of groups of US military trainers.

" In Pakistan 'U.S. Military Aid Came With Spies Attached" by Zofeen Ebrahim, Inter Presse Service via, July 19, 2011

KARACHI - Defense analysts in Pakistan believe that foregoing 800 million US dollars worth of aid may be a fair bargain for ridding this country of over a hundred ‘military trainers’ who were suspected of being spies.

Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that his military can do without the suspended U.S. military aid worth 800 million dollars, but suggested that the funds be diverted to improving the country’s economy.

The suspended funds amount to roughly one-third of yearly U.S. security assistance to Pakistan.

Relations between the allies in the war on terror in neighboring Afghanistan soured after U.S. Navy Seals crossed over the border in helicopters and swooped down on Abbotabad to kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his hideout in the Pakistani cantonment town.

The U.S., which relied on its own intelligence network within Pakistan for the May 2 raid, also stepped up public denunciation of Pakistan’s army, accusing it of incompetence in tracking down bin Laden or, worse, complicity.

Coming under pressure from the U.S. military on the one hand and facing domestic anger at the Abbottabad raid on the other, the Pakistani army reacted by sending home more than a hundred U.S. military trainers.

"They were not all trainers and the army knew it," says Ikram Sehgal, a well-known defence analyst. "Of every three or four trainers, one would be an undercover intelligence person trying to subvert the loyalties of our soldiers."

Signs that the U.S. maintained a spy network within Pakistan became apparent after Raymond Davis, a U.S. official, shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore on Jan. 27. Davis, who said the Pakistanis were trying to rob him at gunpoint, turned out to be an intelligence operative.

"It’s a good thing they were sent packing," Sehgal said. "We were previously giving in to Washington’s every whim. Now we are finally speaking as equals and that is how any relationship should be based – on mutual respect," he added.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a senior journalist and an expert on Afghan war, said the U.S. trainers were infiltrating the armed forces and trying to establish their own intelligence network in Pakistan.

According to Yusufzai, the trainers were part of a package which included light arms and gadgets like night vision goggles which the army was "coerced and tempted" to accept.

"They are often private contractors, outsourced by the U.S. army," said Sehgal, adding that the U.S. has more to lose by taking a high-handed stance as "major intelligence sharing may be stopped" by Pakistan.

Bad news for Anonymous but will its thousands of members keep fighting???

And members or associates of Anonymous be warned the FBI Interpol are out to get you.
Odd how it took ten years to get Osama Bin Laden but about year to get the hackers who attacked various private businesses ie Paypal and Visa . They also hacked into Sheriff Arpaio of Arizona's files of his employees while they also took on Arizona legislators.

EXCLUSIVE: FBI Raids Homes of Suspected 'Anonymous' Hackers
By Jana Winter |, july 19, 2011

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