Editorial Staff

Here are eight key moments from the first Democratic debate

On Wednesday night, the 2020 Democratic primaries finally got underway in earnest as 10 of the 20 candidates who had met the party's eligibility criteria took to the stage in Miami for the first of two nights of debating.

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Six takeaways from Joe Biden's Iowa speech eviscerating Donald Trump

Joe Biden and Donald Trump traded barbs in dueling speeches in Iowa on Tuesday. Trump called Biden a "dummy," and repeatedly referred to him as "sleepy Joe." Biden, who has been known to ramble, gave a lengthy, focused speech methodically making the case that Trump is unfit to be president, much less be given a second term.

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Help Us Name and Shame the Climate Cranks Sabotaging Our Environment

For years, climate "skeptics" have denied the near-unanimous scientific consensus around global warming in an effort to delay action.  

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Immigrant Prisoners Stage Uprising in Texas

Details are still sketchy of an inmate uprising at a privately-operated federal detention facility in West Texas last Saturday. Reports in the U.S. and Mexican press suggest the revolt, involving hundreds prisoners at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Tex., erupted after complaints of poor medical treatment went unheeded.

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Who Has A Free Press?

Reporters Without Borders is publishing for the first time a worldwide index of countries according to their respect for press freedom. It also shows that such freedom is under threat everywhere, with the 20 bottom-ranked countries drawn from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The situation in especially bad in Asia, which contains the four worst offenders -- North Korea, China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Bhutan.

The top end of the list shows that rich countries have no monopoly of press freedom. Costa Rica and Benin are examples of how growth of a free press does not just depend on a country's material prosperity.

The index was drawn up by asking journalists, researchers and legal experts to answer 50 questions about the whole range of press freedom violations (such as murders or arrests of journalists, censorship, pressure, state monopolies in various fields, punishment of press law offences and regulation of the media). The final list includes 139 countries. The others were not included in the absence of reliable information.

In the worst-ranked countries, press freedom is a dead letter and independent newspapers do not exist. The only voice heard is of media tightly controlled or monitored by the government. The very few independent journalists are constantly harassed, imprisoned or forced into exile by the authorities. The foreign media are banned or allowed in very small doses, always closely monitored.

Right at the top of the list four countries share first place -- Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands. These northern European states scrupulously respect press freedom in their own countries but also speak up for it elsewhere, for recent example in Eritrea and Zimbabwe. The highest-scoring country outside Europe is Canada, which comes in fifth.

Some countries with democratically elected governments are way down in the index -- such as Colombia (114th) and Bangladesh (118th). In these countries, armed rebel movements, militias, or political parties constantly endanger the lives of journalists. The state fails to do all it could to protect them and fight the immunity very often enjoyed by those responsible for such violence.

Costa Rica Better Placed Than the United States

The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings.

The highest-ranked country of the South is Costa Rica, in 15th position. This Central American nation is traditionally the continent's best performer in terms of press freedom. In February 2002, it ceased to be one of the 17 Latin American states that still give prison sentences to those found guilty of "insulting" public officials. The murder in July 2001 year of journalist Parmenio Medina was an exception in the history of the Costa Rican media.

Cuba, the last dictatorship in Latin America, came 134th and is the only country in the region where there is no diversity of news and journalists are routinely imprisoned. In Haiti (106th), journalists are targeted by informal militias whose actions are covered by the government.

Italy Gets Bad Marks in Europe

The 15 member-countries of the European Union (EU) all score well except for Italy (40th), where news diversity is under serious threat. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is turning up the pressure on the state-owned television stations, has named his henchmen to help run them and continues to combine his job as head of government with being boss of a privately-owned media group. The imprisonment of journalist Stefano Surace, convicted of press offences from 30 years ago, as well as the monitoring of journalists, searches, unjustified legal summonses and confiscation of equipment, are all responsible for the country's low ranking.

France, in 11th place overall, comes only 8th among EU countries because of several disturbing measures endangering the protection of journalists' sources and because of police interrogation of a number of journalists in recent months.

Among those states hoping to join the EU, Turkey (99th) is very poorly placed. Despite the reform efforts of its government, aimed at easing entry into the EU, many journalists are still being given prison sentences and the media are regularly censored. Press freedom is especially under siege in the southeastern part of the country.

Elsewhere in Europe, such as Belarus (124th), Russia (121st) and the former Soviet republics, it is still difficult to work as a journalist and several have been murdered or imprisoned. Grigory Pasko, jailed since December 2001 in the Vladivostok region of Russia, was given a four-year sentence for publishing pictures of the Russian Navy pouring liquid radioactive waste into the Sea of Japan.

The Middle East and Israel's Ambivalent Position

No Arab country is among the top 50. Lebanon only makes 56th place and the press freedom situation in the region is not encouraging. In Iraq (130th) and Syria (126th), the state uses every means to control the media and stifle any dissenting voice. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein especially has set his country's media the sole task of relaying his regime's propaganda. In Libya (129th) and Tunisia (128th), no criticism of Col. Muammar Kadhafi or President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is tolerated.

The political weakening of the Palestinian Authority (82nd) means it has made few assaults on press freedom. However, Islamic fundamentalist opposition media have been closed, several attempts made to intimidate and attack local and foreign journalists and many subjects remain taboo. The aim is to convey a united image of the Palestinian people and to conceal aspects such a demonstrations of support for attacks on Israel.

The attitude of Israel (92nd) towards press freedom is ambivalent. Despite strong pressure on state-owned TV and radio, the government respects the local media's freedom of expression. However, in the West Bank and Gaza, Reporters Without Borders has recorded a large number of violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees press freedom and which Israel has signed. Since the start of the Israeli army's incursions into Palestinian towns and cities in March 2002, very many journalists have been roughed up, threatened, arrested, banned from moving around, targeted by gunfire, wounded or injured, had their press cards withdrawn or been deported.

Good and Bad Examples in Africa

Eritrea (132nd) and Zimbabwe (122nd) are the most repressive countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The entire privately-owned press in Eritrea was banned by the government in September 2001 and 18 journalists are currently imprisoned there. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is notable for his especially harsh attitude to the foreign and opposition media.

At the other end of the spectrum, Benin is in 21st place despite being classified by the UN Development Programme as one of the world 15 poorest countries. Other African states, such as South Africa (26th), Mali (43rd), Namibia (31st) and Senegal (47th), have genuine press freedom too.

March For Peace On Saturday

This Saturday, Oct. 26, tens of thousands of students, peaceniks, priests, union members, war veterans and working moms and dads will gather in Washington D.C. and San Francisco to protest the war on Iraq. It will be the latest and biggest in a series of protests that have been spontaneously emerging across the nation over the past few weeks.

The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal Washington think-tank that compiles a list of anti-war events planned throughout the country over the next two weeks, says it can barely keep up. "People are organizing at all levels," co-director Amy Quinn told the Washington Post. "I'm not surprised that people are coming out against the war. I am surprised at how organized and vocal people are."

And organizers predict that the Oct. 26 march will be huge. The vote in Congress authorizing Bush to attack Iraq may have been the tipping point for an anti-war movement that has been steadily gaining momentum with each passing week.

"The vote closed all doors. The only real option left for people in terms of stopping the war is to take to the streets," says Global Exchange peace coordinator Kristi Laughlin. The International ANSWER Coalition, a broad-based alliance of activist groups organizing the protest, says it is "confidently expecting" up to a hundred thousand people to show up and be counted.

Many of the marchers will not be lifelong activists, but ordinary Americans who are tired of being ignored by D.C. politicos more interested in expediency than in the nation's welfare. With help from local groups, ANSWER is organizing 250 buses to transport people from around the country to Washington and San Francisco. A demonstration that large should serve as a richly deserved wake-up call to the Bush administration and the Democrats who scurried to join the war effort.

Some recent articles, for example, have raised questions about the participation of fringe groups in organizing these demonstrations. But as many point out, what matters is not the presence of a few radical groups but the remarkable diversity of the participants from all walks of life and every political stripe, both seasoned activists and first-time marchers -- veterans, concerned parents, religious leaders, people of color, teenagers and women. Even Bush's own United Methodist church has launched a scathing attack on his plans for war, saying it is "without any justification according to the teachings of Christ." "It is hard to dismiss these people as just kooks," Laughlin says.

The escalating anti-war movement is well aware that Bush's new war will make the world a more dangerous place. If the U.S. makes war on Iraq, we all stand to lose whatever peace and security we now have. Some of the demonstrators may have differing political beliefs, but they are united in their conviction that war with Iraq is not the answer and dissent is democratic. If you, your family, friends and colleagues share this conviction, please join the demonstrators and march for peace this Saturday.

For more information on how you can participate in the protests, visit the InternationalAnswer.org website.

Bush Is No Berliner

Once upon a time, a young American could proclaim "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Germany and all of Europe would be thrilled. On Thursday the crowds were out on the streets of Berlin for another American president -- but to revile George Bush, not to praise him.

Rank ingratitude for all America did for Berlin and Germany during the Cold War? Perhaps, and certainly many Europeans of a certain age would beg to differ with the protesters. Nevertheless, the demonstrations are as symptomatic of the times as the rapture that greeted John Kennedy in Berlin 39 years ago. The harsh truth is that for all the platitudes we hear about how shared values, heritage and interests make Europe and America partners for all eternity, the glue that binds them has rarely been thinner.

In some ways there is nothing wrong with this. The Soviet Union, the common threat that made the transatlantic alliance necessary, has disappeared. Painstakingly and not without immense problems, the European Union is forging its own political identity, which in the nature of things is shaping a different European world view.

But that alone does not explain today's chill -- and it certainly does not explain how, in a few short months, the Bush administration has managed to exhaust the huge stock of European sympathy and solidarity that it was given after Sept. 11.

If anything, that horrific event has strengthened all the disturbing trends that were apparent in Washington beforehand -- unilateralism, highhandedness, a disdain for any treaty that might, even marginally, tie the administration's hands, and a tendency to interpret the verb "consult" to mean making a weary pretence of listening to the views of others before doing exactly what it intended to do anyway.

The attacks on Sept. 11 seem only to have hardened the assumption in Washington that what's good for the U.S. is, by definition, good for everyone else. It has hardened the conviction that it is America's manifest destiny to launch a war against Iraq, whatever its allies and the United Nations might think, and whatever the destabilising effects across the Middle East. Mr. Bush talks of a Palestinian state, but undoes that good work by imposing his simplistic with-us-or-against-us template of the "war against terrorism" on a conflict that has infinite shades of grey.

And the charge of hypocrisy must now be added to the charge of selfish shortsightedness for the rejection of the Kyoto treaty and the new International Criminal Court. The country that tells other countries to open their markets has closed its own to steel imports and brought in farm subsidies that would make the inventors of the Common Agricultural Policy blush. Here any pretence of world leadership is dropped. The name of the game is pandering for votes in states that might help Mr Bush and the Republicans in the elections of 2002 and 2004.

Europe, to be sure, is not without blame for the sorry state of the relationship. Inevitably but maddeningly, it still speaks with many voices. Its collective failure to modernise and strengthen its armed forces is a scandal that undercuts Europe's claims to equal partnership and its ability to defuse the world's crises, of which the most dangerous is now Kashmir. There, too, America must lead, because there is no one else.

But the onus in Europe this week is on Mr Bush. He should relearn the traditional sense of "consult" -- to listen to the views of others, and take them into account -- and admit that sometimes they may have a point.

Eyewitness Accounts From Ramallah

Eyewitness acccounts of the Israeli invasion are pouring in from Ramallah and Bethlehem every day. The following reports and testimonies are being circulated on listservs and indymedia sites.

April 3, 2002

From the Electronic Intifada.com


Reports on Demonstration at the Kalandia Checkpoint:

Posted by Diaa Hadid, Ittijah: Union of Arab Community Based Associations

Kalandia checkpoint -- Today, between 5,000 and 6,000 people -- Israeli peace activists, Palestinians in Israel and Palestinian MK's in the Israeli Knesset -- marched to the Kalandia checkpoint, with several aims:

1. To ensure that urgently needed aid people here had collected -- medicines and food -- would enter Ramallah.

2. For the Palestinians, to try to enter Ramallah, breaking the military closure around the city and protesting against the curfew and occupation;

3. To protest America's open support for the clearly illegal occupation, and re-assault in the West Bank.

We marched to Kalandia with women leading, straight to the checkpoint, which is currently a big set of plastic and concrete blocks blocking off the main road into Ramallah, heavily guarded by armed Israeli soldiers and police.

We began to push against the blocks. I was in the front line. The soldiers and police reacted by letting off sound bombs over our heads, which caused people to panic. Tear gas bombs were thrown at us. "Tear gas" causes a temporary inability to breath, then immense pain as the gas enters your lungs and eyes. With that, people dispersed, running for cover. From nowhere, onions were passed out. A few minutes later, people re-gathered. We marched to the checkpoint blocks again.

The truck passed through into Ramallah after much bargaining and pleading. By accident, one young Palestinian woman found herself on the other side of the checkpoint. She returned to us by climbing over the checkpoint. The soldiers and police began to argue with her (after she arrived to the other side of the checkpoint, our side). A policeman lost his temper and began to beat her, the green light for the police to throw more tear gas at the crowd, dispersing us again.

The police were indiscriminately beating people - friends running away were smashed with batons, the police pushed an old man before me. The press was affected by the tear gas. It seemed that they had been specifically targeted. They were clearly marked with "TV" - it's impossible that the police didn't't see that.

We ran away and re-gathered. The police began to organize themselves. They pushed aside their plastic barriers and began to chase us, throwing tear gas into the crowds and beating us with batons. We kept regrouping, chanting, waving Palestinian flags, standing in groups with our hands linked, refusing to be beaten into submission, refusing to use force. Police would stand behind us, beating us with their batons, abusing us, especially the Druze police, who kept abusing us in Arabic. If we reacted, they would beat us. If we ran, they would chase after us, throwing tear gas and beating us.

One young man was caught. Around 5-6 policemen stood around him, beating him, kicking him, smashing their batons upon him. Then he was arrested.

Towards the end of the protest, we stood at traffic lights, closer to Beit Hanina. Again, chanting, grouping up, waving Palestinian flags. The police surrounded us, throwing more tear gas and beating who ever they could catch. We took refuge behind cars, in the grassy, muddy field below the road, anywhere we could. It was a war zone, but only one side was armed.

We kept searching for each other, seeking familiar faces, to reassure ourselves. In pauses between teargas, sound bombs and violent police, we were hugging, sometimes crying. As we walked back to our buses, we could count the toll: around 30 injured, including three Palestinian MK's in the Knesset - Issam Makhoul, Ahmad Tibi and Mohammad Barakeh. Two young men arrested. One young man has his finger torn off when a tear-gas bomb exploded next to his hand. A woman had her head stitched up after the police smashed her over the head with his baton.

On the bus, we received a phone call that the medicines and food convey reached the NGO's. Some of the older Palestinian women on the bus began to weep.

Posted by activist Arjan El Fassed:

Dahiya al-Barid, Occupied Palestine - I need water. I was just caught in teargas. We were at a demonstration before the checkpoint (the one that was previously known as the Ram-checkpoint). Thousands of protesters, Palestinians (a huge number from "inside"), Israeli's, Italians, French, Dutch, Belgians, Swiss, and other foreigners, and a lot of international media (probably because they are prevented from covering Israel's assaults on Palestinian cities) were present. The whole street was packed with people, calling for the end of occupation, international protection, freedom, justice, "libra Palestina" (the Italians wrote this on a former Israeli road sign warning people to "prepare documents for inspection"), and an immediate end to human rights violations. Among the protesters were many Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace activists, members of the Knesset, student organisations and others. More and more busses arrived, I saw some friends from Haifa, and other friends I didn't see in a long time, due to the pressing situation.

Israeli Border Police, known for their brutal response to demonstrations, with clubs in their hands, and Israeli soldiers were preventing people from passing. The march was supposed to reach Qalandia checkpoint in the direction of Ramallah. Trucks of food and medical supplies destined for the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and women's organisations were supposed to be reaching Ramallah.

Suddenly, we heard the sounds of blasts, white smoke, which made me conclude: "teargas!" People started running back, even while more protesters arrived.

We walked in a side road from where you could see the demonstration and the checkpoint clearly. Two armored personnel carriers were blocking the road on the other side of the checkpoint. An Israeli soldier on one of the carriers, behind a 500mm heavy machinegun was following persons aiming his machinegun on them.

More blasts, more teargas, I hear Israeli women shouting: "fascists, fascists!" People start running, more blasts, white smoke and tears. I felt it in my throat, tears follow, I was afraid for my asthma. Annet and I walked up to the direction of the Ne've Yacov colony, which is next to Dahiya al-Barid, where we live. From there up the hill, you can walk pass the checkpoint and come down to the other side, which we did. More sounds of teargas, people running in various directions. Back at the office, I went on the roof, I could see the Israeli soldiers, hear the blasts and see white smoke up to Beit Hanina, people running in various directions.

Hanan, one of our lawyers, just came back from the demonstration. With a tissue in her hand she tells me that she helped someone who was choking and entered a home, telling the residents that she escaped for the teargas. A number of protesters have been injured through teargas inhalation.

Later Safwat entered the office. "They beat the shit out of some protesters!" he says. He still catching some air, while talking about what he had seen. I saw an Israeli policeman pushing down an old woman who climbed up a hill. She fell a couple of meters down. I saw a member of an Israeli special unit dragging a guy out of the group and just start beating him. When other protesters started to interfere, more Israeli soldiers started to beat the crowd. Some Knesset members got injured and there have been several arrests of Palestinians.

From LAW

Israeli Crackdown on Media

Israel has started to expell several foreign correspondents and journalists from various Palestinian cities. In the past 18 months, and in the past week in particular, Israeli forces have attacked reporters, cameramen and photographers, press offices have been raided, journalists have been detained and are prevented from performing their jobs.

For example, on April 2, 2002, Andre Durand, a journalist who works for Agence France Press, together with 'Ata Awisat, who is a reporter for Gama News, were stopped by Israeli soldiers in Beitunia. After two hours, Durand was released, but Awisat was still being held. On April 1, 2002, Abas al-Moumani, a photojournalist, who also works for Agence France Presse, was driving his car, which has been clearly marked with "TV", at Manari, the main square in the center of Ramallah. Israeli soldiers opened fire at his car and a live bullet hit the mirror inside the car. The driver was not hurt. The car was stopped and Israeli soldiers confiscated Moumani's camera. They forced him to put his hands behind his head and left him standing for three hours, after which they returned his camera and ordered him to leave the area.

That same day, April 1, 2002, Israeli forces, in Ramallah, fired on an armored vehicle used by NBC. The car was clearly marked as a vehicle used by the foreign press. That same day, a BBC correspondent and her crew were shot at while covering a peaceful protest in Beit Jala.

In Bethlehem on April 2, an Israeli soldier fired one round toward the car of Reuters photographer Magnus Johansson, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle. Johansson heard soldiers shouting at him. When he got out of the car, he was ordered back in. The shot was fired as he attempted to drive away.

In Bethlehem on April 1, Palestinian militants threatened journalists working for The Associated Press, Reuters, and Palestine TV and forced them to hand over footage, shot the night before, of the body of an alleged Palestinian collaborator who had been shot in a parking lot.

The lack of coverage of Israeli actions in various Palestinian areas is very dangerous. In addition to difficulties faced by human rights monitors and defenders, Israel's restrictions on the press, is a dangerous escalation and should concern international bodies and governments.

Articles 50 and 51 of the 'Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Convention' emphasise the protection of civilians in time of war including journalists, since they are part of the civilian population:

"The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians."

"The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations."

Article 79 of the 'Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Convention' stipulates:

"Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians within the meaning of Article 50, paragraph 1. They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this Protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians."

LAW Society views the Israeli measures against journalists as a policy of silencing the press by attacking and harassing journalists in order to prevent them from documenting human rights violations and grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, i.e. war crimes.

Israeli Forces Enter Jenin:

At 4.30 this morning, Israeli forces with tanks, armored personnel carriers, entered the Palestinian town Jenin, firing indiscriminately with heavy ammunition at residential buildings, killing Fadwa al-Jamal (24), who was shot inside her home by an Israeli sniper; Hani Abu Irmali (16), also shot inside his home; Walid Masharka (24), killed during Israeli shelling of Jenin refugee camp. An Apache helicopter, hovering above Jenin refugee camp, fired heavy ammunition and hit and killed Ziad Zbeidi (23). Dozens of Palestinians have been injured.

According to fieldresearchers from LAW, many of the injured have not been evacuated. Paramedics and ambulances are prevented from evacuating the wounded. Ambulances have been targetted by the Israeli forces and many residential buildings have been partly destroyed and some severely damaged, due to indiscriminately shelling with no military purpose.

Israeli forces have been reinforced and continue their military assault on Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and the refugee camps of Dheishe, Aida and 'Azza, which were raided yesterday.

Yesterday morning, at 10 o'clock, 64-years old Sumaya Abed and her son Khaled Abed were killed inside their home in the old city of Bethlehem. Since yesterday (and until this moment), the bodies have not been evacuated. Ambulances and medical personnel, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been prevented access by the Israeli forces, despite the desperate humanitarian situation. Nine children remain in the bathroom of the home as to not watch the horrible scene. These children are not allowed to leave the home or being evacuated. One hour ago, a local cameraman, accompanied by a journalist have visisted the home.

So far, ten Palestinians have been killed in Bethlehem, including two today. In Manger Square, Israeli forces have killed Omar Shehadeh Salahat (39) and Awad Musa al-Malhi (31). Both have been shot in the upper parts of their body. Eyewitnesses in Bethlehem have reported that no one has been immune from Israeli fire, including at places of worship, churches and mosques. Bodies of many injured residents are in the streets, waiting to be evacuated.

In view of the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Ramallah, Bethlehem, Qalqiliya, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Nablus, LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment urgently requests the intervention of the international community, in particular the member states of the European Union and the United States of America, in order to receive guarantees from Israel that access to medical treatment and humanitarian aid to all those who need it is not obstructed and that attacks on hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel cease immediately.

One of the most basic principles of international humanitarian law refers to the obligation of states to ensure access to medical treatment to any injured person, including evacuation if need be; protection of civilian hospitals and their staff; medical transportation and the consignment of medical supplies and equipment.

Moreover, LAW urges the international community to investigate and prosecute any instances of attacks on ambulances, medical staff and institutions, which have led to death or serious injury, in order to determine whether they were deliberate. Any such deliberate attacks amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are thus war crimes.

From Palestinian Activist Sam Bahour:

I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law. This is what he said:

-- Taken at 10:30 am Friday, after being told to exit his home. They were gathered at local school ground that Israeli army is using as military post.

-- At around 11:30 am Friday, they were put in buses and taken on the Pesgot settlement by-pass road, via French Hill in Jerusalem to the Israeli military camp on the West side of Ramallah (Betouna).

- They were dropped off in a dried up human sewage hole adjacent to the miliary base. They remained there until the next morning in the outdoors with absolutely no shelter, food, etc. It was and still is very rainy and cold here.

-- At around 11 am Saturday, they were taken into the military base, ten at a time, to be interviewed and pictured. Each were pictured (as they do in the movies) with their ID # on a carton under their chin.

-- They were then distributed to 3 sections, each with 2 tents. He estimates that there are over 700 Palestinians being held. As the number of prisoners increased they added a tent to each section.

-- Every 5 prisoners were given 380 x 180 cm sponges to sleep on the second night. With the rain these become soaked.

-- Tents were dirty, leaking, and a mess. He said he would have preferred to stay outside.

-- On the second night, each five prisoners were given a wooden pallet to put under the now soaked sponges.

-- He says that people have not slept for days.

-- Each tent was given one meal for 130-160 people which comprised of: 6 tomatoes, 15 apples, 15 cucumbers, bread (which he said was leftover from Passover), and uncooked frozen chicken snekzles. This was distributed to 150-160 people! As the prisoners complained. they started to bring two meals per day of the same.

-- When the Israelis decided to release the Palestinian prisoners, 66 names were called. This was Tuesday night at 11 pm. They took two sets of 13 from the 66 and put them in a bus and sent them off. The rest returned handcuffed to the open dried-up sewer pit, not knowing their status at the time.

-- Every section had access to three outdoor toilet units, like the ones used at construction sites. This was to be used by around 150 people.

-- He says these toilets were a total mess when they arrived -- overflowing and really bad sight.

-- The prisoners requested to speak to a commander in charge to request a pipe or something to open the drains and when he came hours later he said the following and I quote: "You know the difference between me and you? I'm a human. Go open them with your hands."

-- After staying outdoors all last night, handcuffed, they were blindfolded and loaded in buses at 11 am today, wednesday morning, and dropped off at the Kalandia checkpoint, a closed military zone.

- Mohammad asked the soldier at the bus that his personal items were not returned (mobile, wallet, etc and most importantly his ID card, which if not on a person when stopped by an Israeli patrol means immediate going back to an Israeli jail).

-- The soldier told him his question was a good one but he had no idea and Mohammad should go home.

-- The 40 or so that were let off this bus had nowhere to go. They ran into the Kalandia refugee camp. We are trying to get the Red Cross and UNRWA to send them a bus to get home.

These are the first accounts of what is happening!!!!!!!!!!! Someone tell BUSH!

Read earlier reports filed by eyewitnesses and activists.

Rogue Nation

News that the United States has been voted off the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN international drug monitoring board has elicited vows of revenge from conservatives in Congress. They threaten to withhold payment on the long-unpaid dues owed the UN. They blame our adversaries -- China, Cuba, Sudan and others -- for the insult. But the secret votes enabled allies as well as adversaries to vent their mounting exasperation with US policies. At the last session of the commission, the United States stood virtually alone as it opposed resolutions supporting lower-cost access to HIV/AIDS drugs, acknowledging a human right to adequate food and calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, while it continued to resist efforts to ban landmines.

The global outrage is by no means limited to US policies on the Human Rights Commission. In barely 100 days in office, the Bush Administration has declared the Kyoto accords on global warming dead, spurning eight years of work by 186 countries. It banned US support for any global organization that provides family planning or abortion services, even as an AIDS pandemic makes this a matter of life and death. It bade farewell to the antiballistic missile treaty, while slashing spending on nuclear safety aid for Russia. It casually bombed Iraq, helped shoot down a missionary's plane over Peru and enforced an illegal and irrational boycott of Cuba. It sabotaged promising talks between North and South Korea, publicly humiliating South Korea's Nobel prizewinning president, Kim Dae Jung. The nomination as UN ambassador of John Negroponte, former proconsul in Honduras during the illegal contra wars, is an insult. "There is a perception," said one diplomat in carefully parsed words, "that the US wants to go it alone."

Our lawless exceptionalism is a deeply rooted, bipartisan policy that didn't begin with the Bush Administration. Under previous Presidents, Democratic and Republican, Washington denounced state-sponsored terrorism while reserving the right to bomb a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan or unleash a contra army on Nicaragua. It condemned Iraq for invading Kuwait while reserving the right to invade Panama or bomb Serbia on its own writ. The United States advocated war crimes tribunals against foreign miscreants abroad while opposing an international criminal court that might hold our own officials accountable. Our leaders proclaim the value of law and democracy as they spurn the UN Security Council and ignore the World Court when their rulings don't suit them. The Senate refuses to ratify basic human rights treaties. The US international business community even opposes efforts to eliminate child labor. And of course, there are those UN dues, which make us the world's largest deadbeat.

Worse is yet to come. US policy is a direct reflection of its militarization and the belief that we police the world, we make the rules. The Bush Administration plans a major increase in military spending to finance new weapons to expand the US ability to "project" force around the globe -- stealth bombers, drones, long-range missiles and worse. The tightly strung Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sounds increasingly like an out-of-date Dr. Strangelove as he pushes to open a new military front in space, shattering hopes of keeping the heavens a zone of peace.

As the hyperpower, with interests around the world, America has the largest stake in law and legitimacy. But the ingrained assumption that we are legislator, judge, jury and executioner mocks any notion of global order. From the laws of war to the laws of trade, it is increasingly clear that Washington believes international law applies only to the weak. The weak do what they must; the United States does what it will.

After the cold war, we labeled our potential adversaries "rogue nations" -- violent, lawless, willing to trample the weak and ignore international law and morality to enforce their will. Now, in the vote at the UN, in the headlines of papers across Europe, in the planning of countries large and small, there is a growing consensus that the world's most destructive rogue nation is the most powerful country of them all.

This is not a role most Americans support. Public interest groups and concerned individuals will vigorously remind Congress of the widespread popular backing in this country for paying our UN dues, for global AIDS funding and other forms of international involvement. Unilateralism must be opposed in all its guises, from national missile "defense" to undermining efforts to curb global warming. The United States was founded on a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. Let's keep it that way.

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