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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

U.S. Still Holding Prisoners in Afghanistan

A new report by Justice Program Pakistan reveals the U.S. is keeping a growing number of inmates in Bagram Theater Internment Facility, despite having nominally ceded control of the prison to the Afghan government earlier this year. The Soviet-built facility was the site of a number of extralegal incidents during the American occupation, which drew comparisons to Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay, and is now being used to hold more than 3000 people in indefinite detention. The JPP called on the U.S. to release and repatriate the prisoners, some of which have been held for more than 10 years without trial.

U.S. Department of Defense Spokesperson Elissa Smith told Al-Jazeera, “The U.S. remains committed to seeing that every detainee held by our forces who can be transferred to a verifiably secure and humane situation, is, and that no one is held unnecessarily for any period longer than necessary.” Smith then suggested claims made by Bagram prisoners suggesting mistreatment “simply are not supported when real, intellectual rigor is applied.”

Brazilian Deputies Vote to End Congressional Secret Voting

The lower house of the Brazilian Congress has unanimously approved an amendment to ban secret ballots in both houses of the Congress, one of many demands made by protestors during recent demonstrations which roiled the Latin American country. Despite the approval of all 472 Deputies in the Chamber of Deputies, a number of Brazilian Senators have been critical of the measure, arguing it opens their votes to political opportunism and makes it difficult for them to vote with their conscience.

Protestors and other civilians have long argued secret voting allows Congress to act in a duplicitous manner. Just last Friday, in a secret overnight vote, Deputy Natan Donadon held onto his office despite currently serving 13 years behind bars for corruption.

Maduros Accuses Opposition of Electric Sabotage

Swaths of Venezuela have sunk into darkness as a fault in the main energy transmission lines in Bajo Caroni caused power outages countrywide. While some parts of the country have restored power, other parts are still left wanting including various sectors of the capital Caracas. Power outages have long plague the Bolivarian Republic, more than 500 have occurred since the being of this year. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed opposition sympathizers for the outage, but embattled opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the administration was clumsily attempting to divert attention from the country’s poor upkeep and expansion of the energy grid.

While the country is a large exporter of fossil fuels, more than two-thirds of the domestic electricity is generated by hydro-electric plants. Victor Poleo told Radio Union the major issue cause of the energy issues were not production capacity, there are plenty of hydro-electric plants; rather older power lines are not capable of transmitting the electricity throughout the country.

Low-Level Chinese Party Member Drowned by Anti-Corruption Investigators

State-newspaper Beijing Times reports that Yu Qiyi, lead engineer at state-owned investment firm in Wenzhou, China, was drowned by graft investigators. According to lawsuit by his family members, Yu, who had been held in custody for 38 days over suspected wrongdoings in a land deal, was stripped and held submerged several times in an ice water filled bathtub until he “stopped struggling“. The dubiously legal practice of applying enhanced interrogation to Communist party members, known as Shuanggui, has injured or killed a number of people in recent months. According to the Times, the six investigators who interrogated Yu have been charged with intentional injury and a trial is pending.

China’s new Politburo has mounted a well publicized campaign to root out corruption; anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan vows to expose “Tigers” and “Flies” alike.

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