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Archive for April 20th, 2009

“People Shouldn’t Have to Live Like This”: The Real Story Behind “Tent City” — and How the Media Get It Wrong

By Rose Aguilar, AlterNet. Posted April 20, 2009.

The media have finally discovered homelessness. Not surprisingly, they get the story wrong.

Over the past few months, reporters from around the world have flocked to the now-famous tent city in Sacramento, Calif. When they find out that 55-year-old John Kraintz has been living in a tent for almost seven years, they turn around and walk away.

“They don’t want to talk to me,” he says. “They’re searching for people who just lost their homes. It’s kinda tough to lose a home when you’ve never owned one. Sorry, but most of the people here have been homeless for a long time.”

A tall and lanky man with a long beard tied in a ponytail, Kraintz is one of 100-200 people who have been told to leave the homeless camp between Sacramento’s Blue Diamond Almond factory and the American River.

Kraintz and so many other homeless people like him have been living in scattered Sacramento encampments for years, but they’ve been largely ignored and hidden from public view. That is, until Lisa Ling, a reporter with the Oprah show, came to town in late February to focus on what Oprah Winfrey called the “new faces” of homelessness.

The show reported — inaccurately — that an estimated 1,200 people in Sacramento are living in tent cities after losing their jobs and homes. According to Loaves & Fishes, a privately funded group that has been feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless in Sacramento for 25 years, 1,226 people live on the streets of the city. Between 100 and 200 temporarily call tent city home.

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fishobamajustice3991 Raw Story | Sunday, April 19, 2009

The United Nation’s top torture investigator has suggested it is illegal under International law for President Barack Obama to announce that the United States government has no intention of prosecuting low-level CIA officers who carried out torture sanctioned by the Bush Administration.

President Barack Obama’s release on Thursday of four Bush administration memos sanctioning torture has been widely praised. However, word that government will go so far as to offer a fully-paid legal defense for agents who applied torture techniques to terror war prisoners has triggered loud criticism.

“Like all other contracting states to the UN convention against torture, the US has committed to conduct criminal investigations of torture and to bring all persons to court against whom there is sound evidence,” Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture, told Austrian weekly paper Der Standard.

“They are party to the convention and the convention is very, very clear,” Nowak told the paper. “The fact that you carried out an order doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility.”

“In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press, Manfred Nowak […] said the United States had committed itself under the U.N. Convention against Torture to make torture a crime and to prosecute those suspected of engaging in it,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

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C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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