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Guantanamo is easily the biggest violator of human rights

US elites often attack Cuba for breaches of human rights, overlooking the most extreme violations that occur at the US-run Guantanamo facility.

Shane Quinn

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The Guantanamo military prison, in south-eastern Cuba, has violated human rights at will since established by US President George W. Bush in 2002 – during his administration’s declared war against terrorism.

The Guantanamo “detention centre” has in reality served as a torture chamber with inmates suffering various abuses. By comparison, Guantanamo makes the once notorious Alcatraz prison today seem like a modest labour camp.

Many of Guantanamo’s prisoners have been held without charge or trial, on mere suspicion of guilt, and subjected to widespread use of torture – which has done nothing but further aid the cause of extremist fundamentalist groups like Al-Qaeda. The principles of assumption of innocence, originating over 800 years ago with the creation of Magna Carta, have long been cast to the wind.

Magna Carta was drafted in England in 1215 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, to settle a vicious dispute between the unpopular King John and a group of revolutionary barons. The Great Charter – as it is also known – safeguarded the rebellious barons from wrongful imprisonment, granted them access to swift justice, promised to protect Church rights, and so on. It became a cornerstone of English political life, being customarily renewed by each monarch.

Magna Carta heavily influenced early American colonists (“part of Americans’ birthright”), was a driving force behind the US Constitution’s signing in 1787, later entering sections of the US Bill of Rights. In the 21st century its values have particularly been thrown to the wayside.

An extract from Magna Carta declares, “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed or exiled, or in any way destroyed – nor will we go upon him, nor will we send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land”. These words appear to have been lost on past US Presidents like George Bush, Barack Obama and their British counterpart Tony Blair.

Blair’s predecessor Winston Churchill was not unacquainted with warfare – having overseen major operations in both the world wars. Nor was Britain’s renowned wartime leader a stranger to controversy in a career stretching across decades.

Yet Churchill said shortly after World War II, “We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom, and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence”.

Churchill further described Magna Carta as “the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land”, while saying separately that “the power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law… is in the highest degree odious”.

One can but guess at his thoughts if he were here to witness “the great principles of freedom” deprived of those sitting without charge at prisons like the US-run Guantanamo. The leader of the Free World hasn’t quite been living up to its title.

It would be interesting to note Churchill’s reaction too to the first Guantanamo case that came to trial under Obama – that of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and former child soldier. When age 15, a wounded Khadr was captured in 2002 as he defended his Afghan village from attack by US forces – that is, trying to protect his homeland from an illegal invasion force. By the standards of US justice, Khadr’s actions were deemed a serious crime.

Khadr was imprisoned at Bagram in Afghanistan, and later, at Guantanamo. In October 2010, he was brought before a military court and handed two options: plead not guilty and stay in Guantanamo forever, or plead guilty and serve another eight years. Khadr chose the second option, being released early in 2015 under “strict conditions”, after having spent a decade at Guantanamo. Earlier this year, the Canadian government was forced to award Khadr a settlement of around $8 million for various constitutional rights violations.

There is the likelihood those that do leave Guantanamo remain permanently affected by their treatment. Kuwaiti citizen Abdallah al-Ajmiwas sent to Guantanamo in 2003 for participating in “two or three fire-fights with the Northern Alliance [Afghan military organisation fighting the Taliban]. After release in 2005, Al-Ajmi made his way onto a devastated Iraq. In March 2008 he drove a truck weighed down with bombs into an Iraqi military facility, blowing himself up along with 13 Iraqi soldiers.

Al-Ajmi’s lawyer said this terrorist act was a consequence of his appalling treatment at Guantanamo. Jenifer Fenton of CNN reported in 2011 that “two people who knew Al-Ajmi described him as unstable when he returned from Guantanamo”.

Guantanamo has even come under heavy criticism from such figures as John Brennan, future Director of the CIA [2013-2017], when he said in 2011 as US Homeland Security Advisor that, “our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed down”.

Despite all this, in July US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Guantanamo was a “very fine place for holding these kinds of dangerous criminals”. Sessions revealed that, “We’ve spent a lot of money fixing it up… And I think the fact is that a lot of the criticisms have just been totally exaggerated”. Based on Sessions’ views, not exaggerated enough it would seem.

The American claims to Guantanamo have always been illegitimate to begin with – dating back to 1903 when Guantanamo was taken“under duress” by the US military. After independence from US domination in 1959, the Cuban government made repeated requests to relinquish what also contains their major port. Perhaps the principle reason behind American control of the island’s south-eastern part, is to hamper Cuba’s economic development while giving the US a foothold in the region.

Western politicians often cry foul over Cuba’s supposed “violations of human rights”, with no mention that easily the most extreme “violations” in the country occur at Guantanamo.

There are indeed minor concerns over infringements of human rights in Cuba – these cannot even compare to the practices of American client states and allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia – not to mention the crimes perpetrated by US-backed dictatorships in Latin America, Africa and so on.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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