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Tuesday, Feb 09th

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Secret U.S. Hostage Held by Taliban Allies

US hostage held by Taliban alliesA group of Islamist militants aligned with the Taliban has been holding an American man hostage for more than a year, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with his case, which has not been reported previously.

The disclosure of another American hostage raises questions about how many Americans are being held abroad—and what the U.S. government is doing to recover them. The Obama administration has been working to streamline its hostage rescue efforts, which critics say have suffered from a lumbering bureaucracy that hasn’t kept family members fully informed about their loved ones. How effective those efforts have been is unclear.

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Immigrant Detainee Hunger Strike Grows As Men Plead To Be Released

Immigrant detainees hunger strikeMen in six immigrant detention centers have joined a hunger strike to demand they be released and granted asylum in the U.S. because they fear returning to their home countries, activists say.

The hunger strikes started on Wednesday in three detention facilities, and advocacy group Desis Rising Up and Moving, or DRUM, said Monday that men in three other facilities had begun refusing food as well. The number of men participating in what the organization calls the #FreedomGiving hunger strikes is now at more than 130, DRUM executive director Fahd Ahmed told The Huffington Post.

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Human Rights Watch to Obama: Prosecute Bush officials for torture

Try Bush for torture: Human Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch, in a new report out Tuesday, urged President Barack Obama to prosecute top officials from George W. Bush’s administration as well as CIA contractors or their roles in creating, approving and implementing so-called enhanced interrogation techniques against detainees in CIA custody.

"There is substantial evidence supporting charges of conspiracy to torture against senior US officials and CIA contractors, including evidence that some individuals joined the conspiracy after it was first established," the report, titled "No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture" states, outlining the ways in which it says U.S. officials knowingly violated the federal Torture Statute and other laws in committing "torture, assault, sexual abuse, war crimes, and conspiracy to commit such crimes."

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Migrant crisis: Turkey rounds up hundreds 'bound for Greece'

Migrant crisisTurkish authorities have rounded up some 1,300 migrants allegedly bound for Greece, Turkish state media report.

Police detained hundreds of migrants near the western town of Ayvacik, a main crossing point to Greece, according to the Anadolu news agency.  Among those detained were Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian and Afghani migrants as well as some suspected smugglers.

The move comes hours after Turkey and European leaders struck a deal to control the flow of migrants to Europe.

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Texas groups concerned refugee suspension violates religious freedom

Texas groups support refugeesAnother religious freedom battle is brewing in Texas. But this time, Syrian refugees — not same-sex couples or women seeking birth control coverage — are at the center of it.

Numerous faith groups that settle international refugees in the Lone Star State are upset about a recent directive from Texas officials to no longer help Syrians in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. Essentially, the groups’ concerns are divided into three parts: One is for the safety of the refugees themselves; another is for the future of their resettlement programs; and the third is for their religious freedom, which some might argue is being stifled by Texas’ instructions that they withhold help from certain people in need.

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US activists to launch Guantánamo protest along camp's perimeter

Gitmo protestersFourteen peace activists from across the United States will begin a protest vigil and fast along the perimeter fence of the US military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday in an attempt to draw attention to what they consider to be ongoing human rights abuses at the prison.

The protesters are all members of Witness Against Torture, a group which campaigns to have Guantánamo shut down. They plan to set up camp as close as they can to the 107 remaining detainees still being held at the facility. They will then begin a fast on Thanksgiving in symbolic solidarity with the 47 men inside the prison who have been cleared for release but are still trapped in legal limbo having never been charged with any crime, many of whom have been on hunger strike.

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ACLU Sues Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Over Syrian Refugee Ban

ACLU sues Mike Pence of Indiana- The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), challenging his efforts to block Syrian refugees from resettling within his state’s borders.

“This lawsuit is calling out Governor Pence on his unconstitutional bluff,” Judy Rabinovitz, the group’s deputy legal director for immigrants’ rights, said in a press release. “Singling out Syrian refugees for exclusion from Indiana is not only ethically wrong, it is unconstitutional. Period."

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