Friday, June 11, 2010

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Could International Criminal Court Deploy U.S. as World Law Enforcer?

by Glen Ford

more AFRICOMThe chief prosecutor of the court that purports to bring the rule of law to the planet is actively campaigning to appoint the United States – 'the world's most prolific perpetrator and sponsor of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide' – as chief law enforcement agent. This, despite the fact that the United States is not, and does not intend to become, a member of the International Criminal Court, nor subject to its jurisdiction. But, no matter: thugs rule.

"Washington is quite eager to use the ICC as a tool of its own foreign policy objectives."

The United States, which continues to shun membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for fear that it might itself be prosecuted, could wind up acting as the ICC's military muscle on the planet. Having failed to prosecute anyone but Africans since its creation in 2002, the ICC now actively woos the U.S., the world's most prolific perpetrator and sponsor of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, as global enforcer of ICC indictments.

The ICC's 111 member states are gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for a 12-day conference (May 31 - June 11) that is largely focused on defining the international crime of "aggression," the only crime listed under the ICC's mandate that is without agreed upon definition. The next, much more difficult question: will the ICC independently decide who shall be indicted for crimes of aggression, or must the Court defer to the United Nations Security Council, where the permanent members hold veto power? Predictably, the United States is lobbying hard to maintain the Security Council as the sole arbiter of global aggression. Smaller nations and human rights groups contend that filtering indictments through the Security Council would further "politicize" the ICC – a code word for granting the great powers immunity from prosecution.

From the African standpoint, such immunity already exists, as evidenced by the all-African lineup of 14 individuals indicted to date, including the first sitting head of state, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. All have been charged with war crimes, and eleven also face charges of crimes against humanity. ICC prosecutors are currently considering adding the crime of "genocide" to President al-Bashir's indictment. But enforcement is problematic. ICC member states are treaty-bound to arrest indicted persons that enter their territory. However, the African Union collectively opposes Al-Bashir's indictment, officially on grounds that it is an impediment to a peaceful settlement in Sudan's Darfur region, but unofficially because of the ICC's color-coded notions of justice.

"Human rights groups and smaller nations contend that filtering indictments through the Security Council would grant the great powers immunity from prosecution."

The United States cheers the prosecutors on from its position of immunity, since only ICC members fall under the Court's jurisdiction. But that doesn't stop Washington from primping and posturing as a guardian of international legality at the Kampala conference.

"It's hard to emphasize how happy countries are to see us here," said State Department legal affairs official Harold Koh. "They felt very distressed at the period of U.S. hostility to the court. They're very excited about the Obama administration and its renewed commitment to international law and engagement. And they're just thrilled that we're here as an observer country."

No such commitment international law exists, beyond President Obama's rhetorical flourishes. The ridiculously titled U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Stephen Rapp, advised the world not to hold its breath waiting on the Americans to join the ICC. "[W]e're nowhere near that point," he told reporters in Kampala. But Washington is quite eager to use the ICC as a tool of its own foreign policy objectives. "What we're here talking about is ways that we can support this court constructively when it works in our interest," said Koh. "And so far in the cases it is taking on, they are in our interests and in the interest of all of human kind."

The U.S. has the ICC's Chief Prosecutor in its pocket. As reported by scholar-activists Samar Al-Bulushi and Adam Branch:

"In June 2009 at a public event in the US, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo declared the need for 'special forces' with 'rare and expensive capabilities that regional armies don't have,' and said that 'coalitions of the willing,' led by the US, were needed to enforce ICC arrest warrants."

Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo is volunteering the Court as an instrument of American R2P – "Responsibility to Protect," the Obama administration's substitute for the Bush doctrine that justified American wars to spread "democracy." As defined by Susan Rice, Obama's snarling Ambassador to the UN: "The international community has a responsibility to protect civilian populations from violations of international humanitarian law when states are unwilling or unable to do so."

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Unbelievable Pencil Art by Paul Lung

pencil drawings by Paul Lung

It's hard to believe but all these beautiful pictures are not photos but pencil drawings. The author of such unbelievable art is 38-year-old graphic artist from Hong Kong Paul Lung. 0.5 mm technical pencil and A2 paper are the only attributes of these masterpieces. He doesn't use eraser and spends up to 60 hours sketching out his pictures. As he often admits people do not believe him and he has to make videos of his work to prove that these art works are not photographs. Check these beautiful artworks by yourself.


pencil drawings by Paul Lung

pencil drawings by Paul Lung

pencil drawings by Paul Lung

pencil drawings by Paul Lung

pencil drawings by Paul Lung

Stop The Music! Artists Demand GOPers Quit Playing Their Hits

If stereotypes held true, you would think that the Republicans would be the ones telling folks to turn that blasted music down. But this year -- and indeed in many past election cycles -- it's the GOP that has been attracting cease-and-desist letters for pilfering music against the artists' wishes. So let's take a look at some of the more notable GOP music fails from this cycle, and cycles past.

Senate candidate Chuck DeVore (R-CA) got burned for using for using altered-lyric version of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer" and "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" for his campaign's Web ads. David Byrne is suing Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL) for using "Road To Nowhere" in a Web ad during his previous Republican Senate primary fight, and of course, as we reported yesterday, Rush cut to the chase and told Senate nominee Rand Paul (R-KY) to stop playing "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit of Radio."

The Orleans song "Still The One" has a special place in politics as it has been used not once without the band's permission, but twice -- and the first instance contributed to its author's entrance into national politics. In 2004, the Bush campaign used the song at a rally. As the song's main author, John Hall, told MSNBC in 2008: "George Bush was busy campaigning on an 'ownership society,' yet never asked me, the band, or the publishers for permission." Hall and other stakeholders in the song quickly sent a cease-and-desist letter, and the Bush campaign dropped the song.

In 2006, Hall went on to be elected to Congress as a Democrat, defeating an incumbent Republican -- an event that was spurred in part by his experience from 2004. "It was one of the things that got him even madder," Hall press secretary Tom Staudter told TPMDC. And then in 2008, the Republicans used the song yet again, this time the ill-fated John McCain campaign. "This is yet another example of John McCain not learning anything from George Bush's mistakes," Hall told MSNBC, also adding: "The only one John McCain is Still the One for is George Bush."

But that was only the tip of the iceberg for the McCain campaign -- which was practically a walking Limewire setup. Jackson Browne also sued it for using his song "Running On Empty" in an ad, for which the two sides later reached an out-of-court settlement. Van Halen objected to McCain's use of their song "Right Now" at a rally. The Wilson sisters from Heart strenuously objected to his campaign's use of "Barracuda" to promote Sarah Palin. And finally, the McCain campaign used "Pink Houses" and "Our Country" by John Mellencamp, who sent a letter demanding that they stop.

Hard Times in Colorado Springs


by Chris Hume

(Image: Chris Hume; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

The city of Colorado Springs has long persisted as an ultra-conservative, anti-tax bastion. When voters rejected the latest proposal to raise taxes to maintain city services, the bottom fell out of the city budget. Now, hundreds of thousands of citizens are struggling to live without basic services. In this exclusive documentary, we delve into the effects of anti-tax policies on the lives of ordinary people.

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This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Kids With Lesbian Parents Do Just Fine

By Serena Gordon

When compared to teens of the same age, adolescents raised by lesbian parents are doing just fine socially, psychologically and academically, new research finds.

Not only that, they have fewer social problems, and less aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors than other teens.

The nearly 20-year study has followed 78 teens since their lesbian mothers were planning their pregnancies, and concluded that these children "demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment." These findings stand in contrast to what some vocal opponents of gay or lesbian parents might have expected.

"One of the things that opponents of the equalities of gays and lesbians -- in marriage, parenting, adoption and foster care -- often bring up is the so-called gold standard of parenting, which defined by them is the traditional family where children are conceived in traditional ways and not through insemination or surrogates. But, when we compared the adolescents in our study to the so-called gold standard, we found the teens with lesbian mothers were actually doing better," said study author Dr. Nanette Gartrell, the Williams Distinguished Scholar at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

As to why these teens are doing better, Gartrell said, "Moms in the lesbian family are very committed, very involved parents."

Olbermann: ‘Cartoon-like’ Tea Partier’s win really a loss for GOP

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane

sharronangle Olbermann: Cartoon like Tea Partiers win really a loss for GOPSupporters of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) are reportedly thrilled about the prospect of him running against former state legislator Sharron Angle, since they see her as a weak Tea Party candidate with a history of extremist views that will make it easy to focus the campaign on her record.

The strategy, according to Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, will be to "use her own words to paint her as, well, a complete whackjob."

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has already picked up on the emerging anti-Angle narrative. "Conventional wisdom was that Sue Lowden's come-from-ahead defeat to Tea Partier Sharron Angle would hurt Senator Harry Reid," he noted on Wednesday. "Turns out Ms. Lowden was the sensible one."

"Ms. Angle's resume is startling -- or, if you prefer, cartoon-like," Olbermann continued. "She told Liberty Watch magazine that she's opposed to legalizing alcohol. (Las Vegas!) Eleven years ago, she proposed a bill requiring doctors to tell women that research suggested abortions might increase their risk of breast cancer, even though, you know, it doesn't."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank even suggested on Thursday that Angle's victory "would explain the uncharacteristic smile on Reid's face as he opened Wednesday morning's Senate session.

Tea Party and FreedomWorks plan demonstration against mandatory trash collection.

By Zaid Jilani

tean The tea party movement and their corporate-funded astroturf backers at FreedomWorks often claim to be fighting "big government." For instance, FreedomWorks complained that the individual mandate in the new health care law was an "unacceptable, unconscionable, … complete perversion of the liberties our founders fought and died to protect." Now, local chapters of the tea party and FreedomWorks are collaborating to plan a protest in Gwinnet County, Georgia, to voice their latest grievance against government powers — mandatory home trash collection:

Three political activist groups are joining together Saturday to protest Gwinnett County's new trash plan, which begins July 1. The Four Corners Tea Party, FreedomWorks Gwinnett and Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government have organized the protest, which will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the gazebo next to the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse on the Lawrenceville square. [...]

"It's our way of letting the commissioners know we remember their vote and we're not going to forget it," said Debbie Dooley, a Dacula resident and the Georgia grassroots coordinator for FreedomWorks. "We want to make sure they are held accountable for their vote."

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