Last week the US Senate voted overwhelmingly (90-9) to stand solidly against torture. The amendment, introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), calls for prisoners and detainees to be treated according to guidelines established by the Army Field Manual. In short, it outlaws degrading and inhumane treatment of anyone in US military custody. McCain's bill, as The Nation writes this week in the magazine's lead editorial, "stands as a singular legislative attempt to corral Bush into compliance with international law and human rights standards."
Politically, McCain has played this well. The amendment was appended to the massive defense appropriations bill. Consequently, passage of the $440 billion defense budget depends on the adoption of this vital amendment. Nonetheless, President Bush has threatened to veto the entire piece of legislation in order to kill the anti-torture amendment. This despite a recent report by Human Rights Watch documenting US soldiers' accounts of abuses against detainees committed by troops of the 82nd Airborne stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury), near Fallujah. (Click here to read, and circulate, it in full.)
For once, the Senate has done the right thing. Now, a coalition of groups, led by FaithfulAmerica.org, an online community of progressive people of faith, is calling for all Americans to ask their Senators to stand strong against the president's threatened pro-torture veto.
Votes are now being counted in the first truly free election in Liberia's troubled history. It's a far cry from the 1986 election, which dictatorial Samuel Doe fraudulently "won" by shutting down not only newspapers but entire political parties. The Reagan Administration just looked on.
Gas-guzzling can be a revolutionary experience, like puffing
Montecristo cigars, now that Citgo's 1,800 gas stations and eight oil
refineries passed into the hands of Venezuela's national oil company.
It's easy to scoff at a rock star like Bono pairing up with
economist Jeffrey Sachs. But their tireless lobbying for debt relief
for the poorest nations could make a real difference for the 1 billion
people who live on less than a dollar a day.
Companies like Boeing, Dell and Daimler-Chrysler know how to extort
tax cuts and subsidies from states eager to keep jobs from fleeing. But
taxpayers, community groups and even a Supreme Court review are pushing
back on corporate giveaways.
Fitful efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast unfold against a backdrop
of looming economic disaster: rising unemployment and interest rates,
misplaced priorities and a recession that will hurt the weakest most.
Student protests against the presence of military recruiters on campus
are on the rise. So are angry--sometimes violent--pushbacks from
conservative students and campus police.
The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
expertly balances the roots of a political revolution: the impact of a
few key leaders and the lives and aspirations of ordinary citizens
engaging with the government for the first time.
When Oscar Torres saw a Venezuelan band perform the song "Casas de carton" ("cardboard houses") in 2001, he knew that he wanted to "write something about the song" that he remembered so well from his childhood days growing up in war-torn and impoverished El Salvador. Soon after, Torres started working on a screenplay that ultimately served as the basis for the film Innocent Voices which will begin playing in 11 US cities on October 14.
The film has received critical acclaim after being released in Latin America and shown at this year's Amnesty International Film Festival. It deserves a wide audience in the United States. Directed by the talented Mexican filmmaker Luis Mandoki, Innocent Voices tells the story of Torres' embattled youth. The narrative is exquisitely told through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy named Chava whose character is based on Torres' boyhood. (Chava, appropriately, is a nickname for "Salvador.") Innocent Voices depicts the horror of war and its impact on children caught in the middle of El Salvador's civil strife in the 1980s.
There are no "good guys" in this conflict (though it's fair to say that the government paramilitary militias are definitely the "worse guys.") The film shows the government's soldiers hunting down and conscripting all 12-year-old boys in the village to serve in the military. But the bullets of the rebel-led Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) kill children just as effectively as the guns of the right-wing government's forces. And then there are the US soldiers who train and arm the government's military and who come across as depraved and without remorse.
From the beginning, the Iraq War has been driven by perceptions. Why do mainstream media continue to avoid reporting that a majority of Iraqis want US occupation forces to leave?