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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guantanamo Hunger Strike Doubles

The hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay’s section 6 prison has doubled in size over the past week. Of the total 166 detainees, at least 86 are refusing food. 16 have been forcibly restrained and fed via gavage, six have been hospitalized, and two have attempted to hang themselves. The U.S. military plans to send up to 40 additional medical personnel to the island base to deal with the hunger strike. These additional doctors, nurses, corpsmen and medics will assist the 100 medical staff members permanently based in Cuba. While the hunger strike began when prisoners were moved out of their communal cell and into single occupant cells, Carlos Warner, an attorney representing several Guantanamo prisoners, says the strike is a result of the detainees’ significant frustration. “Really what is behind all this is the president abandoned his promise to close Guantanamo,” he said. “The men know that, they’re desperate.”

French Legislators Pass Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Bill

The French Parliament passed a new bill allowing same-sex partners to marry and adopt children today. Several thousand opponents of the bill gathered to protest outside the parliamentary building, but violence was minimal. Having helmed the campaign to pass this legislation, President François Hollande is expected to sign the bill after it clears the Constitutional Council. The conservative UMP party hopes to lead a successful challenge of the bill during the Constitutional Council’s review, but that is not likely to happen. According to Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, the first such weddings could take place in June. “We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they’ll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,” she said. If Hollande signs the bill, France will become the ninth european country to recognize same-sex marriages, joining traditionally liberal countries like the Netherlands and Norway as well as typically religious countries like Portugal and Spain. Same-sex marriage remains illegal in 10 European nations.

Syrian Government Used Chemical Weapons

According to top Israeli intelligence analyst, Itai Brun, Syria has used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels on March 19th. Today at a conference in Tel Aviv, Brun announced, “to the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably sarin.” This further corroborates separate statements of same effect made to the U.N. secretary general by delegations from France and the U.K. a few days ago. The U.S. government has pledged that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that it would not idly let Syrian president Bashar al-Assad cross. But U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, remains unconvinced by Israeli, British, and French evidence, saying, “I don’t know yet what the facts are, I don’t think anybody knows what they are.”

LAPD to Pay Shooting Vicitims

The Los Angeles Police Department will pay $4 million to the two women they shot during last year’s search for Christopher Dorner, the ex-policeman who killed three in a struggle against the LAPD. Emma Hernandez and her daughter, Margie Carranza, were delivering newspapers in the early hours of February 7th when LAPD officers fired about 100 bullets into their vehicle without warning. Hernandez was struck twice in the back, while Carranza suffered injuries from broken glass. The blue Toyota Tundra driven by the mother and daughter was mistaken for Dorner’s silver Nissan Titan; Police Chief Charlie Beck called the shooting a “tragic misinterpretation.” The six officers who erroneously fired on the women were placed on administrative leave.

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