Around the World

News from across the globe impacting your world today.

Presidential Residence in Abidjan Captured. Forces loyal to the UN recognized President Alassane Ouattara have overrun the home of Laurent Gbagbo, the usurper and darling of the American Religious Right, in the Côte d'Ivoire. Sources in Paris suggest Mr Gbagbo was now attempting to negotiate his surrender. Mr Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power even though the Ivorian election commission declared him the loser of November's run-off vote, and the UN certified the result plunging the West African country, the world's largest cacao producer, into civil war. The latest on the situation in Abidjan from the BBC and All Africa. Meanwhile, Media Matters sheds more light on the relationship between the American Christian Right and African thuggery.

Crude Prices Top $121 A Barrel in London. Oil prices hovered near their highest levels since the summer of 2008 on Tuesday, with prices of Brent sweet crude just shy of $121 USD a barrel in London trading, as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa supported prices and on delays to elections in Nigeria. On Monday, the North Sea Brent crude for May delivery closed at $121.06 USD a barrel, the highest settlement since August 1, 2008. In the US, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark crude oil, fell 41 cents to $108.05 USD a barrel, after settling at $108.47 USD a barrel on Monday, the highest settlement close since September 22, 2008.

Regrets? I have a few. The German news magazine Der Spiegel has a wide ranging interview with former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He also has a website, The Rumsfeld Papers, an archival site released in conjunction with his memoir, Known and Unknown.

Detained Chinese Artist Dissident Missing. The noted Chinese artist, activist, and philosopher Ai Weiwei has been detained in Beijing while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong. Chinese authorities have refused to comment on his detention and his whereabouts are unknown. The 53 year old world reknown artist has a wide following on Chinese social media, including Twitter, and had been vocal on social issues in China, including the collapse of sub-standard school buildings in the 2008 Szechuan earthquake. The United States has joined with the European Union and numerous human rights organizations in demanding his immediate release. More from The Economist.

Preliminary Results in Haitian Presidential Elections. Preliminary election results suggest that Michael Martelly, a singer and political novice, won 68 percent in the March 20th presidential run-off which pitted him against former First Lady Mirlande Manigath. Final results are due on 16 April at the earliest. The BBC offers a profile.

Moody's Downgrades Portugal Debt. Moody's Investors Service downgraded its rating on Portugal's bonds by one notch on Tuesday to Baa1 from A3 and warning that the small European country could suffer another cut soon because of political and economic uncertainties. A general election in Portugal is due on June 5. More from Al Jazeera.

Ocean Radiation in Japan Soars. The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish. The story in the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Court to Hear Conspiracy Case against Cheney, Rumsfeld

Military officer April Gallop, who survived the 9/11 terrorist attack at the Pentagon, has charged Bush administration officials with conspiring to carry out the event. Tomorrow, her case will be heard in Federal Court:

 

Top Secret Military Specialist April Gallop saw disturbing things up close that have not been reported in the media.

 

On the morning of September 11, 2001, she was ordered by her supervisor to go directly to work at the Pentagon, before dropping off her ten-week-old son Elisha at day care...



Escaping through the hole reportedly made by Flight 77, she saw no signs of an aircraft – no seats, luggage, metal, or human remains.  Her watch (and other clocks nearby) had stopped at 9:30-9:31 a.m., seven minutes before the Pentagon was allegedly struck at 9:38 a.m.



The 9/11 Commission reported that "by no later than 9:18 a.m., FAA centers in Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Washington were aware that Flight 77 was missing and that two aircraft had struck the World Trade Center."



Why then were there no anti-aircraft defenses, Gallop asks, or alarm warnings inside the Pentagon?

 

...On April 5th, 2011, at 11 a.m., at the Federal Courthouse at 141 Church Street in New Haven, Connecticut, the case of Gallop v. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Myers will be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

 

Gallop's case will bring legal scrutiny upon many Bush administration claims about the attacks which were previously assumed to be fact.

 

Ms. Gallop will, through photographic and other physical evidence, as well as the testimony of a multitude of military and civilian survivors, demonstrate the impossibility of her having lived through the attack on the Pentagon if it had taken place as the government and the defendants claim...

 

"No independent court has applied legal procedures to review the available evidence on who was responsible for the attacks."

 

Also, that "it is not acceptable for a constitutional state...to declare war, bomb a foreign country, and place it under military occupation," without first identifying suspects.

 

Dieseroth also said the U.S. "was under burden of proof" that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks, yet the FBI admits it has no evidence presentable in court to back this up.

Smog Alert: Hot Air in Congress Could Block Gitmo's Closing

It was an odd sequence of events.

First, on Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a bill to stop the Obama administration from purchasing a new prison that could house detainees now at the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay under lock and key here in the United States.

Then on Friday, just as the Memorial Day weekend got underway, the House of Representatives voted to stop the president from transferring any of the Guantanamo detainees to the United States for any reason - including a trial.

But then on Saturday, the Washington Post reported that actually, only about 10 percent of the 240 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay when President Obama took office were "leaders, operatives and facilitators involved in plots against the United States." The majority were merely low-level fighters. About 5 percent of the prisoners couldn't be categorized as anything at all.

The report was based on the findings of the administration's Guantanamo Review Task Force, provided to the administration last January. Those findings were never released publicly, and only sent to select committees on Capitol Hill last week. The administration reportedly didn't share the information earlier because, in the wake of the failed Christmas-day bombing attempt, members of Congress had displayed little to no interest in closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Last week's events reveal that many members of Congress continue to show little interest in the real facts about Guantanamo and the detainees held there. How else to explain the stubborn refusal to allow any of them to touch United States soil, even to stand trial, regardless of whether there's any reason to believe that they're actually terrorists?

The Obama administration's task force that deemed most of them low-level foot soldiers was made up of more than 60 career professionals -- including intelligence analysts, law enforcement agents and prosecutors. They reviewed capture information, interview reports, CIA, FBI and NSA records, as well as files on the detainees' behavior since their imprisonment. Notably, the Bush administration hadn't even bothered to look at much of this evidence, the task force reported, so last year was the first time it had been systematically compiled and reviewed. Senior officials from six different agencies, including the defense department and Homeland Security, approved the task force's findings.

Still, that seems to be having little impact on the 282 lawmakers who voted to ban them all from coming to the U.S. for trial. Many persist in portraying all of the 180 remaining detainees as "the worst of the worst," as former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld called them.

"We can't stop every terrorist from coming to the United States but we can stop the ones that are coming from Guantanamo," said Rep. Randy J. Forbes, the Virginia Republican who offered the House amendment prohibiting the movement of detainees to the United States.

Meanwhile, a long list of retired military leaders have said that keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention center open threatens national security, rather than improving it.

While members of Congress blow hot air about threats they imagine from suspected terrorists confined in Supermax prisons on U.S. soil, they continue to ignore some very real national security dangers that they have the ability to do something about. As the New York Times pointed out over the weekend, Congress has failed to streamline its oversight of national intelligence and refused to prohibit or even adequately regulate companies' use of toxic gases that could easily be weaponized by terrorists for use in a future attack.

It's high time for lawmakers to stop posturing around imaginary threats, which prevents the federal government from bringing actual terrorists to justice and releasing those who don't deserve to be in prison. That - coupled with tackling tangible threats to homeland security that loom right here in our own country - would be the real way to enhance U.S. national security.

Core of Corruption - Intelligence Agents Linked to Terrorism

The groundbreaking documentary Core of Corruption Volume 1: In the Shadows, released this year, explores the links between terrorism and intelligence agents from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.  It includes rare and unreleased footage covering suppressed or ignored warnings and the cover-up of evidence by senior American officials.


There's more...

50% of American Support Torture?

This is disheartening, although to be honest not surprising.

A new national poll indicates that most Americans don't want to see an investigation of Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, even though most people think such procedures were forms of torture.

Six in ten people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday believe that some of the procedures, such as water boarding, were a form of torture, with 36 percent disagreeing.

But half the public approves of the Bush administration's decision to use of those techniques during the questioning of suspected terrorists, with 50 percent in approval and 46 percent opposed.

"Roughly one in five Americans believe those techniques were torture but nonetheless approve of the decision to use those procedures against suspected terrorists," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That goes a long way toward explaining why a majority don't want to see former Bush officials investigated."

Fifty-seven percent of those questioned don't want Congress to investigate Bush officials who authorized those harsh interrogation procedures, with 42 percent calling for action by lawmakers. Fifty-five percent also don't want a similar investigation by an independent panel.

There's more...

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