This 20 October 2014 video says about itself:
The ghost spider is European Spider of the Year for 2015.
See also here.
This June 2014 video is called Bringing Back Europe’s Bison | The New York Times.
From Rewilding Europe:
Rewilding Europe signs deal with Avesta Park and publishes Bison Rewilding Plan
17 December 2014
Today, an agreement was signed about deliveries of quality European bison individuals for releases in the wild, between Rewilding Europe and the Avesta Visentpark (Avesta Bison Park) in Sweden, one of Europe’s oldest and finest breeding stations for this endangered wildlife species. This symbolically coincides with Rewilding Europe publishing its new “Bison Rewilding Plan 2014-2024”.
The Wisent, or European bison, is one of the most charismatic symbols for the wildlife comeback in Europe. It is still threatened and listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. The ‘’Bison Rewilding Plan 2014-2024’’ has the ambition to help establish several long-term viable populations of this unique animal in a number of European countries during the coming ten years.
– “Avesta Municipality is proud to be able to help rewild the Wisent back to its original habitats”, says Anders Friberg, Chief Director at the Avesta Municipality. Through taking part in Rewilding Europe’s work in the Carpathians and other locations, Avesta assumes its continued responsibility for the future of the European bison, an important part of our history and brand. It was helped here to be saved from extinction in the 1920’s by Axel Axelson Johnson, who founded the Avesta Bison Park.
– “Today you might see a bison in Avesta, but already next week that same bison may be walking around in a wilderness area in the Carpathians. We are really happy to continue providing the animals needed for such reintroductions”, says Mikael Jansson, Manager of the Avesta Bison Park.
In May 2014, Rewilding Europe brought 17 European bison to the Tarcu Mountains in Romania, in partnership with WWF-Romania. Six of these animals came from Avesta. That first herd will be released into the wild and a second herd of bison – again including animals from Avesta – will be transported to the area during spring 2015.
– “We are very pleased that Avesta has offered us to regularly provide bison for the establishing and reinforcement of wild populations in Europe. We already know the good quality of the Avesta animals, from our cooperation around the bison release in the Southern Carpathians earlier this year’’, says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. ”In the Bison Rewilding Plan 2014-2024, that we officially launched in Sweden today, we have outlined Rewilding Europe’s contribution to the conservation and comeback of this wonderful species. We will work closely with a variety of organisations and bison breeders across Europe to establish new, as well as support existing populations of the species in different parts of our continent”.
Bison Rewilding Plan
In the Bison Rewilding Plan, Rewilding Europe sets the ambition to establish at least five new herds, each of more than 100 individuals, in up to five selected areas in Europe, including at least one meta-population of at least 500 individuals in the Southern Carpathians by 2025 and to increase the European bison population living in the wild from 2,371 animals (2013) to more than 3,500 in 2018 and over 5,000 in 2022.
– “This will help lead the bison out from the risk of extinction”, says Wouter Helmer, Rewilding Director at Rewilding Europe. “The European bison is a strong symbol for the promotion of a wider ecological restoration of European landscapes. Bison-related tourism will provide opportunities for new economic development in our rewilding areas, with local businesses and people actively involved”.
Rewilding Europe will apply the “IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations” (2012) for all bison reintroductions and population reinforcements. The Bison Rewilding Plan is fully in line with the IUCN Species Action Plan and it is in fact Rewilding Europe’s contribution to it. Advice on the selection of animals comes from the European Bison Conservation Centre (EBCC) and our recently signed memorandum with the Center ensures the genetic viability of the herds and the opportunity to establish viable herds in all areas where Rewilding Europe is working.
The “Bison Rewilding Plan 2014-2024” was made possible through financial support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery. It was developed in cooperation with the Zoological Society of London. The Plan will be reviewed and updated after five years (in 2019) to include lessons learnt from the first period of work.
You can download the “Bison Rewilding Plan 2014-2024” here.
You can be an active part yourself in supporting the European bison to come back, by helping to fund the next five bison to be rewilded. Check out this Super X-mas gift to anyone with an interest in nature and wildlife. And maybe put it on your own wish list too? Why not give a hairy beast to someone who understands to enjoy it? Click here to contribute your bison!
This video from the USA is called Will Torture Report Lead To Prosecutions?
By Chris Marsden in Britain:
The European powers and CIA torture
20 December 2014
Innumerable redactions in the 525-page US Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report into torture by the CIA cannot conceal the complicity of the major European powers in the horrific crimes perpetrated by US imperialism.
Last week it was revealed that Britain had requested that its role be excised from the document, itself only a summary of a 6,700-page still-classified report. Indeed, all references to the participation of other governments in acts of unspeakable brutality were omitted at the insistence of the CIA and the Obama administration.
The CIA requested that the names of countries hosting detention sites “or with which the CIA negotiated the hosting of sites, as well as information directly or indirectly identifying such countries, be redacted from the classified version provided to [Senate Intelligence] Committee members.”
However, the amount of black ink throughout the document indicates how extensively other countries are implicated—with Europe playing a lead role.
The eleven countries operating what were effectively proxy CIA facilities included Syria and Libya—both of which subsequently fell foul of US regime-change operations. But the smaller list of six countries with secret prisons (black sites) directly controlled by the CIA included Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania.
This latter list says a great deal about the “democratic” credentials of the regimes that emerged from the Western-backed “democratic revolutions” that toppled the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, and the US- and German-stoked civil war and dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
The CIA sites in foreign countries are identified only by a colour code, such as Detention Site Black, Blue, etc. Poland, one of the most important, was Blue.
Getting people to these sites to be tortured via the “extraordinary rendition” programme directly involved 54 governments (a quarter of the world’s states, with over 20 in Europe) in a vast criminal enterprise.
As part of ensuring this collusion, involving at least 1,000 CIA flights, millions of dollars were distributed as blood money. “CIA headquarters encouraged CIA stations to construct ‘wish lists’ of proposed financial assistance to redacted [entities of foreign governments], and to ‘think big’ in terms of assistance,” the report states. Washington paid Lithuania $1 million for establishing the Violet detention centre.
A central role was played by the UK, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain, including rendition of their citizens and, in the case of the UK, direct collusion in torture.
The Social Democratic government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was implicated in the rendition of Khalid El-Masri, a German-Lebanese citizen wrongly held by the CIA.
Italy participated in the abduction of cleric Abu Omar from Milan in 2003, to be tortured in his native Egypt. Twenty three US personnel (but no Italians) were later found guilty and given sentences of seven to nine years in a trial lasting three-and-a-half years. But none were ever remanded in custody, let alone imprisoned.
The UK was involved in rendition flights and interrogated suspects it knew had been tortured. Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen, was tortured and then sent to Guantanamo Bay. In 2010, the British Court of Appeal released an earlier ruling that MI5 had colluded in Mohamed’s torture.
Sami-al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj were abducted from Hong Kong in 2004 in a joint UK/US operation and sent to be tortured by former Libyan secret police. Saadi’s children, aged 6, 9 and 11, and his expectant wife were abducted in Bangkok and rendered by the CIA. Belhaj says he was interrogated by MI6 officers in Tripoli.
Demands for an investigation of these crimes were blocked in the European Parliament in 2007 and stonewalled wherever they emerged elsewhere.
The European powers have issued only pro-forma and self-serving statements on the Senate report’s findings. European Union spokeswoman Catherine Ray said that while the report “raises important questions about the violation of human rights by the US authorities and persons at the service of the agencies,” EU states “recognize President Obama’s commitment to use his authority to ensure that these methods are never used again.”
These are naked lies. They are made by Europe’s political elite in the knowledge that Obama did everything in his power to stop the report ever seeing the light of day. They are issued amid a counter-offensive in the US involving the CIA and leading Bush-era officials insisting that torture was justified, and with US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia proclaiming it to be in accordance with the US Constitution.
Experience testifies that the European powers, Canada, Australia and the rest will continue to collude with the US in perpetrating whatever crimes it sees fit to carry out, and they will commit their own share whenever necessary. Revealed by the report on CIA torture are not merely the crimes of a former US administration, or even of the CIA as an institution. The document points to a descent into criminality by all the world’s major powers.
The real concerns of European state leaders regarding the report’s findings are two-fold.
First, there is the personal fate of individuals, such as Britain’s Tony Blair. Manfred Nowak, a former UN special rapporteur who helped draft the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, told Bloomberg News that the report could lead to “a flood of litigation.”
Second, the political elite is worried that even the limited exposure of the crimes perpetrated will arouse resistance domestically and internationally to future predatory actions by the major powers.
“Those of us who want to see a safer, more secure world, who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron pontificated.
“The upholding of legal and democratic values must be the foundation of our joint fight against terrorism,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said. “Only in this way can we gain credibility for our actions in this fight.”
This hollow and hypocritical rhetoric will not wash. Those who have long hid behind the façade of “humanitarian intervention” and condemned every state targeted for regime-change for flouting the norms of “civilisation” and “democracy” stand exposed.
Their resort to torture is not an aberration, any more than the gutting of democratic freedoms carried out in every country in the name of the “war on terror.” It flows inexorably from the drive of the imperialist powers to subjugate the world and divide its resources and markets between them. Their system must be overthrown and the entire criminal gang placed on trial for war crimes.
This is a spectacled warbler video from Spain.
From Bird Study journal:
Giacomo Assandria & Michelangelo Morganti
Published online: 16 Dec 2014
The Spectacled Warbler shows a strictly Mediterranean distribution which is expected to expand northward in response to climate warming. To test this hypothesis, we defined the regular distribution of the species based on the literature and we tested whether: (1) spring temperatures in this area significantly increased between 1967 and 2010; (2) breeding attempts north of the regular range occurred progressively at northern latitudes.
Both of these hypotheses were confirmed, supporting the hypothesis that the species is expanding northward because of climate warming.
This video says about itself:
Link with the Lynx – The Secrets of Nature
24 March 2014
With large tufted ears, a short tail and a trusting look, one could almost believe that lynxes are just big cats. In their hearts, however, they are wild and untamed. They are the tigers of Europe. This is the story of a hard earned friendship. On the one side is Milos Majda, a quiet, nature loving ranger at the Mala Fatra national park in Slovakia. On the other side are two small lynxes, fresh from the zoo. With Milos’ help, it’s hoped the lynxes will return to the home of their ancestors in the forests of Mala Fatra in the heart of Slovakia. For two years Milos Majda and the biologist and animal filmmaker Tomas Hulik follow the journey of the lynx siblings from their warm nursery inside a cabin into the wilderness.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Land-sharing model of conservation is helping large predators thrive in the wild – and even the British countryside could support big carnivores, study finds
The forests – and suburbs – of Europe are echoing with the growls, howls and silent padding of large predators according to a new study which shows that brown bears, wolves and lynx are thriving on a crowded continent.
Despite fears that large carnivores are doomed to extinction because of rising human populations and overconsumption, a study published in Science has found that large predator populations are stable or rising in Europe.
Brown bear, wolf, the Eurasian lynx and wolverine are found in nearly one-third of mainland Europe (excluding Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia), with most individuals living outside nature reserves, indicating that changing attitudes and landscape-scale conservation measures are successfully protecting species which have suffered massive persecution throughout human history.
The bears are the most abundant large carnivore in Europe with around 17,000 individuals, alongside 12,000 wolves, 9,000 Eurasian lynx and 1,250 wolverines, which are restricted to northern parts of Scandinavia and Finland.
Only Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in mainland Europe – like Britain – have no breeding populations of at least one large carnivore species. But the paper’s lead author and other conservationists said these animals’ surprising distribution across well-populated regions of Europe showed that even the British countryside could support big predators.
Guillaume Chapron from Sweden’s University of Agricultural Sciences and researchers across Europe found wolves in some cases living in suburban areas alongside up to 3,050 people per square kilometre – higher than the population density of Cambridge or Newcastle.
On average in Europe, wolves live on land with a population density of 37 people per sq km, lynx in areas with a population density of 21 people per sq km and bears among 19 people per sq km. The population density of the Scottish Highlands is nine people per sq km.
“In order to have wolves we don’t need to remove people from the landscape,” said Chapron.
According to Chapron and his colleagues, the big carnivore revival shows the success of a “land-sharing” model of conservation – in stark contrast to keeping predators and people apart by fencing off “wilderness” areas as occurs in North America and Africa.
“I’m not saying it’s a peace and love story – coexistence often means conflict – but it’s important to manage that conflict, keep it at a low level and resolve the problems it causes. Wolves can be difficult neighbours,” said Chapron. “We shouldn’t be talking about people-predator conflict; we have conflict between people about predators. These animals are symbolic of difficult questions about how we should use the land.”
According to the researchers, this “land-sharing” approach could be applied elsewhere in the world.
The reasons for its success in Europe include political stability, burgeoning populations of prey species such as wild deer, and financial support for non-lethal livestock protection such as electric fences, which mean that farmers do not resort to shooting wild predators. Most crucial, said Chapron, has been the EU habitats directive which has compelled member states to protect and revive rare species.
“Without the habitats directive I don’t think we would have had this recovery,” he said. “It shows if people are willing to protect nature and that political will is translated into strong legislation like the habitats directive, it’s possible to achieve results in wildlife protection.”
The revival was welcomed by author and commentator George Monbiot, who is next year launching Rewilding Britain, a new charity to encourage the return of wild landscape and extinct species.
“It is great to see the upward trend continuing but Britain is completely anomalous – we’ve lost more of our large mammals than any country except for Ireland,” he said. “Apart from the accidental reintroduction of boar we’ve done almost nothing whereas in much of the rest of Europe we’ve got bears, lynx and wolves coming back. It’s a massive turnaround from the centuries of persecution.”
The survey found the Eurasian lynx living permanently in 11 population groups across 23 European countries, of which only five were native populations – indicating the success of reintroduction efforts. According to Monbiot, momentum is building for the reintroduction of the lynx into the Cairngorms in Scotland.
“If it works in the rest of Europe, there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t work in the UK,” he said, pointing out that bears and wolves are found within an hour of Rome. “There’s no demographic reason why we can’t have a similar return of wildlife in the UK.”
An extensive European study has found that the numbers of carnivorous animals are on the rise across the continent, with Sweden seeing a hike in the populations of bears, lynxes, wolves, and wolverines: here.
This music video says about itself:
Medieval Music Ultimate Grand Collection
17 April 2013
Chant (or plainsong) is a monophonic sacred form which represents the earliest known music of the Christian church.
Chant developed separately in several European centres. Although the most important were Rome, Hispania, Gaul, Milan, and Ireland, there were others as well. These chants were all developed to support the regional liturgies used when celebrating the Mass there. Each area developed its own chants and rules for celebration. In Spain and Portugal, Mozarabic chant was used and shows the influence of North African music. The Mozarabic liturgy even survived through Muslim rule, though this was an isolated strand and this music was later suppressed in an attempt to enforce conformity on the entire liturgy. In Milan, Ambrosian chant, named after St. Ambrose, was the standard, while Beneventan chant developed around Benevento, another Italian liturgical center. Gallican chant was used in Gaul, and Celtic chant in Ireland and Great Britain.
Around 1011 AD, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to standardize the Mass and chant. At this time, Rome was the religious centre of western Europe, and Paris was the political centre. The standardization effort consisted mainly of combining these two (Roman and Gallican) regional liturgies. This body of chant became known as Gregorian Chant. By the 12th and 13th centuries, Gregorian chant had superseded all the other Western chant traditions, with the exception of the Ambrosian chant in Milan and the Mozarabic chant in a few specially designated Spanish chapels.
Instruments used to perform medieval music still exist, but in different forms. The flute was once made of wood rather than silver or other metal, and could be made as a side-blown or end-blown instrument. The recorder has more or less retained its past form. The gemshorn is similar to the recorder in having finger holes on its front, though it is actually a member of the ocarina family. One of the flute’s predecessors, the pan flute, was popular in mediaeval times, and is possibly of Hellenic origin. This instrument’s pipes were made of wood, and were graduated in length to produce different pitches.
Medieval music uses many plucked string instruments like the lute, mandore, gittern and psaltery. The dulcimers, similar in structure to the psaltery and zither, were originally plucked, but became struck in the 14th century after the arrival of the new technology that made metal strings possible.
The bowed lyra of the Byzantine Empire was the first recorded European bowed string instrument. The Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih of the 9th century (d. 911) cited the Byzantine lyra, in his lexicographical discussion of instruments as a bowed instrument equivalent to the Arab rabāb and typical instrument of the Byzantines along with the urghun (organ), shilyani (probably a type of harp or lyre) and the salandj (probably a bagpipe). The hurdy-gurdy was (and still is) a mechanical violin using a rosined wooden wheel attached to a crank to “bow” its strings. Instruments without sound boxes like the jaw harp were also popular in the time. Early versions of the organ, fiddle (or vielle), and trombone (called the sackbut) existed.
From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:
Manuscript showing ‘birth’ of 1,000 years of choral music discovered
The earliest practical example of polyphonic music has been discovered on the bottom of a manuscript at the British Library
By Hannah Furness, Arts Correspondent
7:00AM GMT 17 Dec 2014
A manuscript showing the “birth” of 1,000 years of musical tradition has been discovered by an intern at the British Library.
The musical score is thought to be the earliest known practical example of polyphonic music, a type of choral song written for more than one part.
The notation, written in faded ink on a centuries-old parchment, is believed to date back to the beginning of the 10th century and is described as the “birth” of polyphonic music.
Showing notation for two vocal parts which complemented one another, it is around a century older than the current surviving record-holder, which was written in the year 1,000.
The score was discovered in the British Library by a PhD student from the University of Cambridge, who was completing an internship recording the establishment’s musical records.
Summing up the importance of the find, Giovanni Varelli, from St John’s College, said the rules laid down in the short piece “laid the foundations for those that developed and governed the majority of western music history for the next thousand years”.
Polyphonic music, choral music written for more than one part, is already known to have existed in the early Middle Ages, but surviving records so far have shown it only in theoretical texts.
Now, scholars have hailed the discovery of a score written for real-life, practical use, saying it is “not what they had expected” to find from music of the period.
It is not yet known who wrote the music, but research suggests it came from north-west Germany around the year 900.
Polyphonic music went on to define much of European music up until the 20th century, developing through the Renaissance to the classical music written by composers such as J.S. Bach.
Varelli, who spotted the notation inked in to a space at the end of a manuscript of Life of Bishop Maternianus of Reims, said the music helps demonstrate how the form has evolved over 1,000 years.
A specialist in early music notation, the student was the first to recognise the inkwork as showing two distinct vocal parts, designed to be sung together.
Until now, the earliest surviving example of a practical piece written for more than one voice came from a collection known as The Winchester Troper, dating back to the year 1000.
This piece, which has now been specially recorded by members of the college’s choir, is technically known as an “organum”, an early type of polyphonic music in which an accompaniment was sung above or below the melody.
“What’s interesting here is that we are looking at the birth of polyphonic music and we are not seeing what we expected,” Varelli said.
“Typically, polyphonic music is seen as having developed from a set of fixed rules and almost mechanical practice. This changes how we understand that development precisely because whoever wrote it was breaking those rules.
“It shows that music at this time was in a state of flux and development, the conventions were less rules to be followed, than a starting point from which one might explore new compositional paths.”
He added the fact the main document was written at the beginning of the 10th century meant researchers could “conservatively estimate” the musical addition was made “some time in the very first decades of the same century”.
“The rules being applied here laid the foundations for those that developed and governed the majority of western music history for the next thousand years,” he said. “This discovery shows how they were evolving, and how they existed in a constant state of transformation, around the year 900.”
Nicolas Bell, music curator at the British Library, said “This is an exciting discovery. When this manuscript was first catalogued in the eighteenth century, nobody was able to understand these unusual symbols. We are delighted that Giovanni Varelli has been able to decipher them and understand their importance to the history of music.”
See also here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Obama Does Nothing Despite Horrifying Torture Report – #NoFilter
11 Dec. 2014
This clip is from The Point with Ana Kasparian. …
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released the gruesome details about the interrogation tactics that were used by the CIA under the Bush Administration. Aside from waterboarding, detainees were forced to undergo rectal rehydration and other methods of torture. Should the Bush Administration face prosecution for this?
By Alex Lantier:
12 December 2014
The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.
In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.
Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture—including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs—officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.
Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.
Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”
Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.
Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”
Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.
British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”
In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.
European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.
“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”
“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.
“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”
The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.
The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.
This video is called How The CIA Tortured Terror Suspects In Uzbekistan. It says about itself:
The West’s Torture Farm (2005) – How the United States shipped torture suspects to Uzbekistan.
Watch Torturing Democracy, Journeyman’s collected playlist on CIA torture.
By Mike Head in Australia:
Successive Australian governments complicit in US torture
12 December 2014
Successive Australian governments, Labor and Liberal-National, have directly collaborated, or systematically covered up Canberra’s involvement, in the CIA torture regime that was partially revealed in this week’s US Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Despite being heavily redacted, the 500-page unclassified executive summary of the report on US torture describes, in detail, brutal crimes that clearly violate the Geneva War Conventions and the Convention against Torture.
In response, there has been a deafening silence within the Australian political establishment. Not a word of condemnation of the United States government has been heard from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ministers, or any of their predecessors, Labor or Coalition. Nor have the Greens uttered a word.
If a similar report had been issued in China, Russia or Syria, or any other country targeted by Washington and its allies, there would have been non-stop cries of “war crimes” and “human rights abuses.”
This line-up speaks volumes about the readiness of all these parties to continue their complicity in the unspeakable abuses committed by Washington, and to utilise similar methods themselves.
The practices described in the Senate report—such as prolonged sleep deprivation, head-banging, sensory deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and confinement in stress positions—match those inflicted on three known Australian victims: Guantánamo Bay detainees David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib; and Jack Thomas, who was tortured in Pakistan.
In the US, the Republican Bush administration authorised the “enhanced interrogation program” and the Democrat Obama administration blocked all efforts to hold accountable those responsible. In Australia, the Howard Coalition government was a willing partner in the torture program and the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments fought tooth and nail to shield Howard and his ministers from political and legal liability.
The whitewashing continues under the current Abbott Coalition government.
A day after the Senate report was released, David Hicks challenged Attorney-General George Brandis at an official human rights function in Sydney. “I was tortured for five-and-a-half years in Guantánamo Bay in the full knowledge of your party. What do you have to say?” Hicks called out.
Hicks has previously detailed extensive periods of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, severe beatings and forced druggings at the hands of his American captors, all with the knowledge and approval of Australian officials.
Brandis, who was a junior minister in the Howard government, scuttled off the stage. Yesterday, he vilified Hicks as a “terrorist.” Brandis’s slander is just another indication that the abuses of fundamental legal and democratic rights committed by the US and its allies will only worsen.
In 2007, Hicks only agreed to plead guilty to a trumped-up US Military Commission charge of supporting a terrorist organisation in order to be released from the Guantánamo hell-hole, where he had been incarcerated for nearly six years without a trial. It was a political fix orchestrated by the Howard government, which was facing mounting public outrage over its collusion in Hicks’s indefinite detention.
Hicks is currently appealing against his conviction, after US courts last year ruled that the charge laid against him was invalid because no such offence existed in 2001, when he was detained.
The Howard government, backed by the then Labor Party opposition, supported the Bush administration’s criminal practices. It echoed Washington’s claims that Hicks was among “the worst of the worst” terrorists and repeatedly denied any knowledge that he was tortured.
Once in office, the Rudd Labor government endorsed an Australian Federal Police “control order” on Hicks and blocked access to government documents on his treatment by the US military.
It was the same with Mamdouh Habib, who also spoke out on Wednesday. He was captured in Pakistan in October 2001 and sent to Egypt under the CIA’s rendition program. Like Hicks, he was tortured with the Howard government’s full knowledge. “I’m suffering when I see every day America accusing people of terrorism and they are the terrorists themselves,” he told reporters.
Habib was finally released from Guantánamo in 2005, without any charge being laid against him, after evidence of his torture began to emerge. In 2007, court documents proved that Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer were given detailed briefings on Habib’s complaints of torture as early as mid-2002. One briefing stated: “[Mr Habib] said he was tortured. Water was dripped on his head and he was administered electric shocks … Mr Habib said he was trussed upside down and his body beaten. He said he sustained broken ribs, two broken toes and bleeding from his penis.”
Four years later, following eye-witness accounts confirming that Australian officials witnessed Habib’s rendition and torture, the Gillard government made an out-of-court settlement with him. After a five-year legal battle against Canberra’s bipartisan coverup, Habib was offered a payment to absolve the Australian government of liability.
In Jack Thomas’s case, the Howard government went further, placing him on trial for terrorism offences on the basis of an alleged confession he made as a result of torture. In January 2003, Thomas was detained at Karachi airport while trying to return to Australia. After being starved, shackled in stress positions and threatened with violence to his family by US and Pakistani operatives, he was further interrogated by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) officers.
Thomas’s initial conviction was overturned on appeal in 2006. The judges documented, in detail, the torture and “emotional manipulation” inflicted on him, and ruled that the criminal violence made his statements inadmissible.
Not a single member of the Howard government or the AFP-ASIO security apparatus has been held to account for these horrific crimes, despite the violations of international law and the Australian Criminal Code, which makes it a crime, punishable by up to 25 years’ jail, to “aid, abet, counsel or procure” a “grave breach” of the Geneva Conventions.
This week’s silence in the political elite has been accompanied by a dearth of commentary in the mainstream media. A solitary editorial appeared yesterday, in the erstwhile liberal Melbourne Age. It began with the proposition: “Torture does not work. Worse, it encourages extremists and damages the moral credibility and international authority of those using it.”
In other words, the Age’s objections were tactical. If torture “worked,” it would be fine. The editorial further asserted: “The extent of Australia’s knowledge of and involvement in the US rendition program may never be known.” This is nothing but a cover for the Howard government and its Labor accomplices.
None of these crimes is an aberration. They flow from the entirely fraudulent “war on terror,” which serves as a pretext for predatory wars in the Middle East and the erection of a police-state framework at home. Since 2001 there has been a relentless assault on basic democratic rights in Australia, including sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws, large-scale military-police mobilisations in capital cities, and mass surveillance by the spy agencies, as part of the global US network.
Far from lessening its involvement in Washington’s atrocities, Canberra’s part has intensified. US bases in Australia, such as Pine Gap, now play vital roles in the latest criminal program of the CIA and the Obama administration—drone assassinations of individuals, including US citizens, placed on presidential “kill lists.”