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Monday, Aug 03rd

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Gitmo hunger strikes are a cry for help. Why is the US fighting back with secret torture?

gitmo hunger strike“Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent”: so goes the slogan of the world’s most famous offshore prison. It’s an Obama-era rebrand, a bid by Gitmo’s PR people to persuade Americans that today’s is a kinder, gentler Guantánamo Bay. There’s just one wrinkle: Gitmo is stilldangerous, nasty, lawless and secretive – and the evidence just keeps piling up.

At the forefront of this war over the truth is the first-ever trial concerning the practice of force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike, due to start Monday. My client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab – a Syrian man who has never been charged, and indeed has been cleared to leave Guantánamo by the US government for more than five years – has been fighting for over a year to reform the way he and other hunger-strikers have been treated. He’s finally about to have his day in court.

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Gaza struggles to rebuild under blockade

Gaza rebuildingA U.N. representative urged Israel to lift a blockade around Gaza so humanitarian aid and construction materials can reach the region.

Robert Turner, United Nations Relief and Works Agency director of operations in Gaza, visited the region Thursday and said the strip has been left destitute by Israeli shelling over the course of a two-month conflict.

"We need resources. We need funding to rebuild for both the refugees and the non-refugee families in Gaza," he told Voice of America.

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US rendition survivors urge Obama to declassify torture report

Rendition survivorsAbou Elkassim Britel can’t sleep, or he sleeps too much; it varies. He backs out of commitments. The Islamic website he wants to publish from his Italian home remains unfinished.

“I would add,” he said through translation, “that I cannot think of the future.”

The doctors tell Britel that he has post-traumatic stress disorder, after a decade-long ordeal of imprisonment without charge or transfer and abuse. It began in 2002, when the United States packed him onto a contractor’s Gulfstream V in Pakistan and flew him to Morocco.

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Seattle protesters aim to block Israeli cargo ship over Gaza siege

Seattle protesters aim to stop Israeli shipPalestinian rights activists in the Seattle area picketed the Port of Tacoma on Monday in an attempt to block a commercial Israeli cargo ship from unloading its merchandise.

The action follows a similar protest last week that managed to prevent the delivery of goods for days from a vessel seeking to dock in Oakland, California.

Block the Boat organizers said the ship, which is owned by Israel's Zim Shipping Services Ltd., one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, was schedule to arrive in the Port of Tacoma on Monday afternoon.

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Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 in seven days

Saudis behead 19 Saudi Arabia has executed at least 19 people since August 4, 2014. Local news reports indicate that eight of those executed were convicted of nonviolent offenses, seven for drug smuggling and one for sorcery.

Family members of another man, Hajras bin Saleh al-Qurey, told Human Rights Watch on August 17 that they fear his execution is imminent. The Public Court of Najran, in southern Saudi Arabia, sentenced al-Qurey to death by beheading on January 16, 2013 for allegedly smuggling drugs and attacking a police officer during his arrest.

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U.S. Avoided Threat to Act on Israel’s Civilian Targeting

Gaza bombingUnited Nations officials and human rights organisations have characterised Israeli attacks on civilian targets during the IDF war on Gaza as violations of the laws of war.

During the war, Israeli bombardment leveled whole urban neighbourhoods, leaving more than 10,000 houses destroyed and 30,000 damaged and killing 1,300 civilians, according to U.N. data. Israeli forces also struck six schools providing shelter to refugees under U.N. protection, killing at least 47 refugees and wounding more than 340.

But the Barack Obama administration’s public posture during the war signaled to Israel that it would not be held accountable for such violations.

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Obama's Pentagon Covered Up War Crimes in Afghanistan, Says Amnesty International

US covered up war crimes in AfghanistanThe human-rights group reports the U.S. military systematically ignored evidence of torture and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year.

The U.S. military has systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes, torture, and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year, according to a report by Amnesty International published today in Kabul.

The human rights organization alleges that the U.S. military has routinely failed to properly investigate reports of criminal behavior and, in some instances, tampered with evidence to conceal wrongdoing. On the rare occasions when servicemen are held to account, the report found that the compromised military justice system seldom secured justice for the victims of enforced disappearances, killings, and abuse that included torture.

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