Journalist Seymour Hersh, who broke the Abu Ghraib prison torture story, is now saying the US has evidence showing that the abuse was even worse than previously reported. Although he has yet to report on it in the pages of the New Yorker, Hersh recently told a crowd in California that the US has videotape showing young male Iraqi prisoners being sodomized by U.S. troops at the prison. Hersh said "The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking." He added, "this is your government at war."
In news from Iraq, the head of security at Iraq’s Foreign Ministry was assassinated and two other officials were wounded when gunmen attacked their convoy north of Baghdad . On Wednesday the governor of Mosul was also assassinated.
Britain and Australia have blocked a move by the US to build a $10 million museum in Baghdad to document the atrocities of Saddam Hussein’s regime. This according to a report in the Guardian of London. The U.S. wanted to take $10 million from Iraqi oil revenue to build the museum which the US described as a special commitment by Paul Bremer to the Iraqi people. Australia rejected the idea saying it should be up to the Iraqi people— not the US — to decide on how to spend its own money.
The Army dropped legal actions against Staff Sergeant Georg-Andreas Pogany who was arrested and charged with cowardice in Iraq last year when he had a panic attack upon seeing a dead body. The charges were apparently dropped because an Army malaria drug made Pogany sick. This according to a report by UPI. He is one of 11 service members diagnosed in the past few weeks with damage to the brainstem and vestibular, or balance, system after being given mefloquine while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. A number of soldiers from Pogany’s base in Fort Carson, Colorado say the drug caused severe mental and physical problems—including suicidal feelings and homicidal rage. The Army developed mefloquine, also known as Lariam, in the 1970s and it was cleared for use in the United States in 1989. It has been taken by 5 million Americans.
In labor news, the National Labor Relations Board reversed itself yesterday and determined that graduate students at private universities do not have the right to unionize. This reverses a 2000 decision by the board that led to students at New York University forming the first graduate employees union. The American Federation of Teachers called yesterday’s decision "outrageous." An official from the group said, "These people obviously are workers. If members of the N.L.R.B. can’t recognize a worker when they see one, they shouldn’t be on a national labor board."
Thirteen members of the House of Representatives has asked the United Nations to monitor the U.S. presidential election in November. The group of lawmakers points to the lack of federal oversight and says monitoring is needed to avert "another Florida." Several major civic groups, including Common Cause and Global Exchange, are also taking the unprecedented action of setting up election monitoring projects.
A new United Nations reports has found that the AIDS epidemic has caused life expectancy in some African countries to drop to just 33 years. For the seventh year in a row Sierra Leone had the shortest life expectancy. Africa is home to about 25 million of the estimated 38 million people infected with HIV/ AIDS.
The annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church recently voted to stop investing in Israel and leaders of the church officially equated Israel with apartheid South Africa. This according to the Forward newspaper. The Presbyterian Church, which has 3 million members, is the first Christian denomination to make such a move. The Anti-Defamation League has blasted the vote. In a letter to the Church, the ADL wrote,"To assert that there is a moral equivalency between the racist policy of apartheid and the efforts to protect the citizenry of Israel is unconscionable."
Meanwhile New Zealand has imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel and is accusing Israel of sending two spies from Mossad to illegally obtain a New Zealand passport. The men have plead guilty to trying to obtain the passwords but deny they work for Mossad.
The Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab has been forced to shut down from doing classified work after the lab lost highly sensitive secret information from a unit of the lab known as the Weapons Physics Directorate.
The Senate voted last night to give $12 billion to tobacco growers as part of a larger deal that would allow the Federal Drug Administration to regulate the sale, marketing and manufacturing of tobacco products. According to the New York Times the deal to give tobacco growers $12 billion was attached to a bill that was supposed to remove corporate tax credits.
In southern India, at least 70 children have died and 100 more were injured after a massive fire at a local school. Most of those killed were between 4 and 10 years old.
A Los Angeles man has filed a $25 million claim with the city three weeks after he was beaten by the LAPD. The June 23 incident was caught on videotape and was compared by many to the beating of Rodney King. During part of the beating one officer struck the unarmed man 11 times with a metal flashlight. The victim, Stanley Miller, said the beating has left him with brain damage.
Trespassing charges were dropped against two people who wore anti-Bush t-shirts at the president’s speech in West Virginia on July 4. Nicole and Jeff Rank were removed from the event in restraints by members of the Secret Service after revealing shirts that read "Love America, Hate Bush." Charleston Municipal Judge Carole Bloom dismissed the charges because the city ordinance did not include trespassing on the statehouse grounds.
The California-based Project Billboard has reached an agreement with Clear Channel that will allow the group to purchase two large billboard spots in Times Square during the Republican National Convention. Project Billboard was forced to sue Clear Channel after the company rejected a billboard ad because of its anti-war message. The controversial billboard read "Democracy Is Best Taught By Example, Not By War"
And yesterday in New York, United For Peace and Justice held a brief protest to demonstrate against the New York Police Department’s decision not to grant the group a permit to hold a rally in Central Park during the Republican National Convention. The head of United For Peace and Justice, Leslie Cagan spoke outside of City Hall.