The Nine Circles of Hell! for Tuesday: Globalizing Hell
CIA rendition partners included Iran, Syria, Iceland, Sweden and many, many more.
The Guardian reveals, “The full extent of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme has been laid bare with the publication of a report showing there is evidence that more than a quarter of the world’s governments covertly offered support.
“A 213-page report compiled by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organisation, says that at least 54 countries co-operated with the global kidnap, detention and torture operation that was mounted after 9/11, many of them in Europe.
“So widespread and extensive was the participation of governments across the world that it is now clear the CIA could not have operated its programme without their support, according to the OSJI.”
The report states, “There is no doubt that high-ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorising human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern.
“But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.”
“The states identified by the OSJI include those such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Jordan where the existence of secret prisons and the use of torture has been well documented for many years. But the OSJI’s rendition list also includes states such as Ireland, Iceland and Cyprus, which are accused of granting covert support for the programme by permitting the use of airspace and airports by aircraft involved in rendition flights.
“Canada not only permitted the use of its airspace but provided information that led to one of its own nationals being taken to Syria where he was held for a year and tortured, the report says.
“Iran and Syria are identified by the OSJI as having participated in the rendition programme. Syria is said to have been one of the ‘most common destinations for rendered suspects,’ while Iran is said to have participated in the CIA’s programme by handing over 15 individuals to Kabul shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan, in the full knowledge that they would fall under US control.
“Other countries are conspicuous by their absence from the rendition list: Sweden and Finland are present, but there is no evidence of Norwegian involvement. Similarly, while many Middle Eastern countries did become involved in the rendition programme, Israel did not, according to the OSJI research.
“Many of the countries on the list are European. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Austria are among them, but France, the Netherlands and Hungary are not. Georgia stands accused of involvement in rendition, but Russia does not.
“Some countries, such as Poland, Lithuania and Romania, hosted secret prisons on their territory.
“The OSJI reports that the UK supported CIA rendition operations, interrogated people being secretly detained, allowed the use of British airports and airspace, arranged for one man, Sami al-Saadi, to be rendered to Libya with his entire family, where he was subsequently tortured, and provided intelligence that allowed a second similar operation to take place.
“Publication of the report appears to have been timed to coincide with the confirmation hearing on Thursday of John Brennan, Barack Obama’s choice to head the CIA. Brennan is widely expected to be questioned about his association with the so-called enhanced interrogation policies adopted by Bush.
“The OSJI report, titled Globalising Torture, says the full scope of non-US government involvement may still remain unknown.”
The report also says, “Despite the efforts of the United States and its partner governments to withhold the truth about past and ongoing abuses, information relating to these abuses will continue to find its way into the public domain.
“At the same time, while US courts have closed their doors to victims of secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, legal challenges to foreign government participation in these operations are being heard in courts around the world.”
This is Hell! is currently pursuing the report’s author as a guest on our special WNUR Phoneathon broadcast this Saturday.
You will NOT hear this author anywhere else.
That’s why you need to donate and support WNUR.
Another day, another suicide bombing in Iraq.
Reuters reports, “A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives at an Iraqi army checkpoint north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least three people, police said, in an apparent attempt to destabilize the Shi’ite-led government.
“The blast in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of the capital, followed another suicide attack in the same town a day earlier that killed at least 22 people.
“It was the eighth suicide bombing in a month in Iraq, where insurgents are seeking to inflame tensions between Shi’ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish factions a year after U.S. troops pulled out of the country.”
Reuters adds, “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite, has been struggling to quell mass protests by Sunni Muslims against what they see as the marginalization of their sect since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority through the ballot box.”
Reuters continues, “Unrest in Iraq’s Sunni heartland is compounding fears the war in neighboring Syria – where Sunni rebels are fighting to topple a leader backed by Shi’ite Iran – could further upset Iraq’s own delicate sectarian and ethnic balance.
“Thousands of Sunni protesters have taken to the streets since late December, rallying mainly in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province where they have blocked a highway to Jordan and Syria.
“Many demonstrators want the government to amend anti-terrorism laws that Sunnis believe authorities misuse to target them, but hardliners and Sunni Islamists have called for Maliki to step down and even for an autonomous Sunni fiefdom inside Iraq.”
There was debate over describing Syria’s violence as a ‘Civil War.’
Let’s hope we don’t have to argue whether using the phrase ‘regional war’ or worse ‘World War’ in the near future.
One tanker hijacking continues off Ivory Coast as gunmen attack another in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
According to Reuters, “Gunmen ambushed an Indian-owned oil barge on Tuesday as it was being escorted by the military through Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, killing two soldiers and one crew member on the ship, a security forces spokesman said.
“The ship belonging to Sterling Global Oil Resources, part of the Sandesara Group conglomerate, was fired on in the Angiama area of the delta, according to Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman for mixed military and police brigades in the Niger Delta region.
“He added that the gunmen were repelled by return fire.”
Reuters adds, “The swampy Niger Delta is plagued by violence of assorted militants, criminal gangs, pirates and oil thieves seeking to grab a share of the two million barrels of oil a day produced by Africa’s most lucrative energy industry.
“Pirates usually attack ships offshore, while oil thieves steal from pipelines in the delta’s labyrinthine creeks, although with so many armed gangs riding around on speedboats, the distinction is sometimes blurred.
“Many gangs are offshoots of militant groups that attacked the oil industry ostensibly for political reasons during a decade of unrest in the delta, before a 2009 government amnesty.
“The amnesty formally ended the conflict, but criminal networks continue to operate.
“Suspected Nigerian pirates have hijacked a French-owned Luxembourg-flagged tanker along with its 17-member crew off Ivory Coast, Ivorian officials and the International Maritime Bureau said on Monday.”
Pirate stories always make The Nine Circles of Hell! I mean, c’mon: they’re pirate stories.
Ex-opposition politicians get three years for insulting US-backed monarch.
Reuters informs us, “A Kuwaiti court sentenced three former opposition lawmakers to three years in jail on Tuesday for comments deemed offensive towards the ruling emir, the second such conviction in three days.
“The three ex-lawmakers – Islamists Falah al-Sawwagh and Bader al-Dahum, and populist Khaled al-Tahus – were arrested in October after an opposition-led protest where riot police used teargas and stun grenades.
“Tens of thousands joined similar protests in October over changes to an electoral law passed by the emir, who is described as ‘immune and inviolable’ in the constitution.
“The emir said the old voting system was flawed and that his changes were necessary for security and stability. Opposition MPs said the changes, made six weeks before the election, would limit their prospects, and boycotted the vote.
“The court case focused on comments about Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah that were made before the rally at a diwaniya, a traditional evening social gathering, the news site alaan.cc reported. An official at the court in Kuwait City confirmed the verdict and said the men could appeal against the ruling.
“The U.S. ally and major oil exporter has been taking a firmer line on politically sensitive comments in recent months.
“On Sunday it sentenced a political activist to five years in prison for insulting the emir on Twitter.
“The government said afterwards that it supported free speech but must act against illegal comments about the emir.”
Of course, you must. We understand. A monarch has to kill free expression. But why must the US back the monarch?
Japan says their destroyer was locked on by China military radar.
The Associated Press says, “Japan on Tuesday accused Chinese navy vessels of locking a weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter amid escalating territorial disputes between the Asian powers.
“Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera accused Chinese navy vessels of using the weapons radar in two incidents last month, on Jan. 19 and Jan. 30. He said it happened in the East China Sea, suggesting it was near disputed islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. He did not give an exact location.
“Mr Onodera said the action could have led to a dangerous situation. Shots were not fired on either occasion.”
Mr. Onodera is quoted saying, “It is extremely abnormal to use such fire-control radar, or radar for (weapons) firing. The incident could have led to a dangerous situation in case of a misstep.
“We will sternly call on the Chinese side to refrain from such dangerous acts.”
The AP explains, “Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have repeatedly entered Japanese—claimed waters around the islands since last September, when Japan’s government nationalised some of the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The purchase triggered violent protests across China.
“Japan’s Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest with China earlier Tuesday through the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, officials said. China said it would look into the alleged incidents, according to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.”
Both sides have really increased their annoying provocations of late.
It’s almost as if they’re both basking in a century of antagonism.
Traffic jams cost US $121 billion every year.
The Associated Press finds, “The nation’s commuters are adapting to increasing traffic congestion by building delays into their schedules, but at a cost of $121 billion in wasted time and fuel, according to an annual study of national driving patterns released Tuesday.
“The new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that Americans wasted an average of $818 each sitting in traffic in 2011. That also meant more carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
“The worst commute in the country? Washington. Commuters in the nation’s capital needed almost three hours for a trip that should take 30 minutes without traffic, according to the report. That compares to the least congested city — Pensacola, Fla. — where commuters needed only nine extra minutes.
“On average, Americans allowed for an hour of driving time for a trip that would take 20 minutes without traffic. The total nationwide added up to 5.5 billion additional hours that Americans spent in their cars during 2011.”
The AP continues, “When all costs are totaled, the cost of traffic congestion to Americans was up $1 billion over 2010 for a total of $121 billion. For commercial truck drivers alone, wasted time and diesel fuel amounted to $27 billion.
“The latest study also found that, after Washington, the most congested cities in 2011 were Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
“New to the report this year is the amount of additional carbon dioxide that gets released into the atmosphere because of clogged roads. In 2011, that total was 56 billion pounds of additional carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 380 pounds per commuter.”
Researcher and co-author David Schrank is quoted saying that the statistic “points to the importance of implementing transportation improvements to reduce congestion.”
“The study also determined that Americans burned 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline while sitting in congestion, a slight improvement over the peak in 2005 when commuters wasted 3.2 billion gallons.
“Researchers said 2005 remains the worst year recording for traffic congestion, but warn that recent improvement may be directly related to the recession. As the economy picks up again, the study’s authors warn, so might road congestion.”
Those fighting for US energy independence don’t seem interested in road building, but they do love them some tar sands, offshore, deepwater and Arctic drilling for some reason.
Baby boomers are living longer and less healthy.
ABC News explains, “Baby boomers are living longer lives than their predecessors, but not necessarily healthier lives, according to a new study that warns of rising health care costs.
“Men and women born between 1946 and 1964 were more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes than the generation before them, according to the study, published today in JAMA Internal Medicine. They were also more likely to be obese and less likely to exercise.”
The study states, “Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age. On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and [heart attacks] than the previous generation.”
“The study supports a gloomy forecast for healthcare costs as the oldest baby boomers approach their 70s. Americans spend roughly $147 billion on obesity and $177 billion on diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Yet again, proving the fact that baby boomers suck.
Canada’s questioning fracking’s toxic components.
CBC News observes, “The government doesn’t have a good handle on the type of chemicals the industry uses in the process. It has developed a partial list of 800, of which 33 are toxic.
“Each shale gas well uses between 55,000 and 200,000 litres of chemical cocktail. In B.C. alone, 7,300 wells have been fractured since 2005, and between 500 and a 1,000 new ones are being permitted each year.
“Ottawa will finish a review on fracking in March 2014.
Critical environmental protection fails ‘to keep pace’
“The fracking mention in Vaughan’s report is in keeping with its theme that “environmental protection may not be keeping pace with resource development.”
Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan is quoted saying, “Given the central role of natural resources in the Canadian economy, it is critical that environmental protection keeps pace with economic development. I am concerned by the gaps we found in the way federal programs related to natural resources are managed.”
CBC continues, “Another example of government regulation lagging the pace of resource development was in the area of offshore oil and gas. Vaughan pointed out two striking examples.
“He found two offshore petroleum boards in Atlantic Canada were not adequately prepared to take control of a potential spill. In particular, Vaughan pointed to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).The Hibernia platform stands tall above the waters of Bull Arm, Trinity Bay, Nfld. The Environment Commissioner is concerned about spill preparedness in the Atlantic coast offshore oil and gas industry.”
Vaughan wrote the board “has yet to complete its review of operators’ spill response capabilities and, therefore, does not have adequate assurance that operators are ready to respond effectively to a spill.”
In other words, Canada is not ready for a fossil fuel disaster. Good to know as the country is in the midst of an exploitation boom.
It’s possible none of this matters as the closest asteroid fly-by ever recorded takes place on February 15.
National Post warns, “It will be one near-miss for man. But a new breed of space entrepreneurs hope it will presage one giant leap for mankind.
“When Asteroid 2012-DA14 hurtles past Earth February 15 in what counts as the closest of cosmic calls, U.S. government scientists will be closely tracking its path from NASA’s observatory in the Californian desert.
“Not least thanks to the attention of Hollywood, the world’s interest in asteroid fly-bys has until now been focused on the danger of a cataclysmic collision.
“The 130,000-ton lump of debris measuring 45 metres across will pass at 29,000 km/h within 27,000 km — the largest asteroid to fly so close since we’ve been tracking them. It will be closer than many of the satellites circling the planet, though it’s unlikely to collide with them, according to NASA.
“For aspiring asteroid miners, the fly-by symbolizes a new commercial opening on the final frontier.
“It may sound more like science fiction than imminent reality, but two U.S. companies have been outlining plans to harvest asteroids for mineral wealth in what they hope will be a 21st century equivalent of gold and oil rushes.
“They intend to deploy small satellites to prospect asteroids, then effectively lasso them, transporting them into Earth’s orbit to harvest precious metals and liquids.
“The newest entrant to the fast-developing asteroid mining world is Deep Space Industries, which has just unveiled ambitious plans to send prospecting spacecraft in two years’ time and begin extraction by 2020.”
The Post also mentions, “Planetary Resources, which launched last year with a roster of investors that includes Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, and James Cameron, the film director and deep-sea explorer.
“Led by Eric Anderson, co-founder of Space Adventures, which took seven wealthy individuals to the International Space Station, Planetary Resources plans to use miniature spacecraft-telescopes to survey asteroids. It will launch them in partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism business.”
Word is, Canada has no idea what damage these companies can do to the asteroids.