El Salvador: Torturers May Meet Their Victims

In an unusual, and brave move,

El Salvador’s Supreme Court has struck down a 1993 amnesty law enacted after the country’s devastating civil war, clearing the way for possible prosecutions of war crimes at the risk of reopening old wounds.

The amnesty has contributed to more than two decades of impunity for crimes committed during the 1980-1992 civil war, which claimed 75,000 lives. It helped end the conflict between the government and leftist guerillas, but it has blocked access to justice and reparations for victims.

The court’s constitutional chamber ruled 4 to 1 Wednesday that the amnesty violates international law and El Salvador’s constitution. The ruling said the government has an obligation to “investigate, identify and sanction the material and intellectual authors of human rights crimes and grave war crimes” and to provide reparations to victims.  Washington Post

If what happened during those years is hazy, or has been swamped by more recent atrocities, a short excerpt from a collection by courageous reporter, Martha Gellhorn, then in her 80s, is just below.

What Hands, Susan Meiselas, 1980

White Hands, Susan Meiselas, 1980

For a portfolio of Magnum photos see here.

A Daily Mail, 2013 article about the abducted children.


Torture is the Worst Abomination of Man

Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998  ) was a war reporter who continued reporting into her 80th year.  The last war-trip she made was to Central America when, under the Reagan administration, the government in El Salvador and the “contras” in Nicaragua were funded to murder their own citizens.  Gellhorn reported it.  Some of those, compiled, are in a collection of her reporting called The Face of War. (reviewed here) This is an extended excerpt from that essay.

Torture is the worst abomination of man and utterly condemns any government that sanctions it. El Salvador is a member of the United Nations and party to the Charter of Human Rights. Has the United Nations gone out of business? European officials rightly denounce psychiatric torture in the Soviet Union. Why keep obsequiously silent about El Salvador?

“Assassinated.” In 1982, regarded as a good year, better than the preceding three, 5,840 mutilated corpses of men and women, boys and girls, were found, dumped everywhere throughout El Salvador. Of these, peasants were the majority. Few peasants were “captured,” only eight “disappeared” in 1982. The method for peasants is immediate butchery in villages and fields. Peasant refugees tell how the army, or ORDEN, or the National Guard, came into their village, killing, before they stole the animals, looted and burned the houses. This is how refugees are made: an estimated 300,000 outside the country, 200,000 inside it, but the process is never-ending. Peasants are uprooted, killed, because they are Romero Catholics, Catolicos. They believe what their murdered Archbishop taught: misery is not decreed by God, but made by man. This is revolutionary Communism to the Salvadoran government. But then, Jesuit priests are considered Communists and live in danger.

Women, innumerable children, old men crowd into makeshift refugee encampments. They have all seen peasants assassinated. A  sample: a pouter pigeon of a woman who has lived for two years with 1,200 other peasant refugees on the dusty playing fields of the Catholic Seminary. “It was ORDEN. We heard them coming. We ran to hide in the trees. But my daughter was eight months pregnant, she could not run fast enough. They caught her on the path. They cut open her stomach with a machete and pulled out the child and cut it in half. She was 17 years of age. I saw with my own eyes. With my own eyes. Then they stole everything we had worked for and burned our houses.”

We learned that President Reagan was distressed by the photographs of the Phalange’s victims in the Beirut Palestinian camps. He is morally obliged to see the Human Rights albums of assassinated Salvadorans. These people did not die quickly. Many faces are covered in blood below the eyes (” We think they do this with rifle butts.”) Some have been strangled. Some are decapitated, the head beside the corpse. A naked boy, lying on his face, has long deep open stab slashes on his legs. A naked woman, also on her face, is riddled with bullet wounds through the lower half of her body; her nakedness presumes rape but that is commonplace for women. There is a gruesome statuary of eight entwined faceless bodies, burned down to nothing but smooth white fat. I studied specially the photos of those killed this January, the month when President Reagan certified that human rights reform in El Salvador warranted more military aid, although 672 Salvadorans were murdered in that month alone.

We free worlders elect our governments freely, so we are responsible for what they do in our name. If governments were better, wiser, more in touch with real life, citizens would not have to spend so much time educating and restraining them. Nadezdha Mandelstam, survivor of another tyranny, gave the best advice to citizens: “If you can do nothing else you must scream.”

Gellhorn, Martha. The Face of War (Kindle Locations 5256-5259). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.




Tapered off to Zero

The beginning of 2016 seems a good time to to put this blog into a prolonged slumber.  I’ve been tapering off for some months now, after posting news, current events, high-lights and low-lights for over a decade.  Time to let it go.  Not to stop thinking out loud and writing but to do it less while riding the daily news cycle.

Come over and see me at All In One Boat dot Org.  Much more cultural stuff, book and film reviews, original and translated poems and stories.  I still link from time to time to the weeks news but getting long in life now I seem to want to take the longer view of this wonderful, unsettling, promise-filled world of ours.

Who knows?  I might be forced back to these pages.  It’s immensely hard to disengage from what’s going on, even though I’ve got plenty of other engagements to keep the whole heart pumping….

Will Kirkland

The News Cycle as a Fear Machine.

Reading Tom Englehardt’s TomDispatch is always a sane few moments in which to contemplate the insane.  Take today’s post, for example:

…the 24/7, all-hands-on-deck news story obliterates context, or rather becomes the only context of the moment. To offer the most obvious recent example: in the days in which the San Bernardino shootings ate the screen, most Americans would not have noticed that the fate of the planet was being seriously discussed and negotiated in Paris by representatives of just about every country.  There was next to nothing but those shootings available — the exploration of the backgrounds of the two killers, their marriage, their arsenal of weaponry, apledge of allegiance by the wife to ISIS, the contents of their house, what relatives and friends in Pakistan had to say, their bank account, heart-rending tales of those killed, testimony from survivors, and on and on.  Even more than a week after the event, it was still the lead story on NBC Nightly News evening after evening.  (“San Bernardino ShootersDiscussed Jihad in 2013 Before Engagement,” “FBI Divers Search Lake Near San Bernardino Massacre for Clues.”)  Viewers might be pardoned for thinking that Islamic terrorism was indeed an apocalyptic threat for most Americans rather than the distinctly minor one it is.

Here you go, read, and subscribe….

Trump Getting Dumped Around the World

Let’s see, today it was announced that Trump’s Turnberry golf course in Scotland is no longer being considered as a host for the 2020 Open.  In July the PGA pulled the Grand Slam tournament from his National Golf Club in LA. See Fortune.

Earlier in December he lost distribution of his Trump branded products from a major international distributor:

Lifestyle, a home decor chain based in Dubai, is removing all Trump-branded products from the shelves of its 195 outlets across the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Tanzania.

Along with that, one of Dubai’s biggest property developers will no longer work with Trump.

“I think he damaged all his brand in all the Muslim countries … nobody will accept him,” said Al-Habtoor, who initially had supported Trump.

And he’s getting into a pissing match with a Saudi Prince who once snapped up some Trump distressed properties.

This is after, in July, Macy’s joined a growing list of big corporations not wanting their name to be sullied by association with Trumbigotry.

Hit ‘im again, harder! harder!

Not much I can find that a low net worth individual could join in not buying…basically anything with his name on it…fragrances, foods.. the list goes on.  Here’s a couple of them, here and here.

Trump Calls for 1882 All Over Again

It was only a matter of time that Donald Trump would do this:

<a class=”_Dk” href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwifgOe07MrJAhUTqoMKHTekCoIQqQIIHTAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Ffortune.com%2F2015%2F12%2F07%2Fdonald-trump-proposes-stopping-all-muslim-immigration%2F&amp;usg=AFQjCNFaPzxlFExdxFExvqw4kRBxhrmXhg” data-href=”http://fortune.com/2015/12/07/donald-trump-proposes-stopping-all-muslim-immigration/”>Donald Trump Wants to Stop All Muslim Immigration</a>


<a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&amp;source=imgres&amp;cd=&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiWgIiq7crJAhUPqYMKHdcSCw4QjxwIBTAA&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJOgIjSI0FrM&amp;psig=AFQjCNHqkUQwGebzQx1INsfEWv2OPYSuug&amp;ust=1449615670608156″><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-14341″ src=”http://www.allinoneboat.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Immigration-2-1024×576.jpg” alt=”Immigration 2″ width=”597″ height=”336″ /></a>


Substitute Muslim for Chinese Laborer and change the dates; just what he wants.<a href=”http://library.uwb.edu/static/USimmigration/22%20stat%2058.pdf”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-14340″ src=”http://www.allinoneboat.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Immigration.jpg” alt=”Immigration” width=”615″ height=”840″ /></a>

Lakes expanding ‘dangerously’ in Everest glacier

It’s perhaps no surprise, once you read it.  The sad surprise is that so many, even though all the leaves are falling, still proclaim “there is no autumn!  It’s nothing but a hoax.”

“A decade or so ago, there were individual ponds on the Khumbu glacier but in the past five years or so they have begun to get larger and join up,” said Ann Rowan, who led the field study team from the universities of Sheffield and Leeds.

Climate Glacier Melt

Dr Rowan’s team has been studying the behaviour of debris-covered glaciers, focusing on Khumbu.

“Particularly, on the left hand side of the lower reaches of the glacier, there is a series of about seven or eight large ponds that are now starting to link and form a big chain,” she told the BBC.

“There is water flowing from the upper part of the glacier through the series of these ponds and that is going to encourage them to join up.

“At present, the glacier appears to be disintegrating, and may form a few large and potentially hazardous lakes on the glacier surface.”

Not only are the lakes dangerous because of what they signal, but because of what they are becoming — soon large enough to blow through natural and artificial water controls and cause catastrophe to the human communities in the way.

BBC Science and Environment

Why? Because:

 Average levels of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million in the early months of 2015, a rise of 43 percent over pre-industrial levels. according to The World Meteorological Organization, in an annual accounting of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere… WaPo

And besides the glaciers, what is going on?

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2015 was the highest for September in the 136-year period of record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.12°C (0.19°F). This marks the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set and is the highest departure from average for any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880. NOAA

Temperatures Going Up, and Up and Up

Climate temps-jan-oct-2015

“Earth’s surface temperature has surged high into uncharted territory, thanks to a record-strength El Niño event combined with the long-term rise in temperatures due to human-caused global warming: October 2015 was Earth’s warmest month on record by a huge margin, according to data released by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. October 2015 was the second consecutive month with a new all-time warmest month record: September 2015 previously held the record for the largest positive departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1630 months in the historical record that began in January 1880″

From Jeff Masters at Wunderground...

Thought you’d like to know….

Who is Funding the Killers?

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire, lays it out:

It’s time to be pitiless against the bankers and against the people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power. Assets from these states [ Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates] should be frozen, all over the west. Money trails should be followed, wherever they lead. People should go to jail, in every country in the world. It should be done state-to-state. Stop funding the murder of our citizens and you can have your money back. Maybe. If we’re satisfied that you’ll stop doing it. And, it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – not another bullet will be sold to you, let alone advanced warplanes, until this act gets cleaned up to our satisfaction. If that endangers your political position back home, that’s your problem, not ours. You are no longer trusted allies. Complain, and your diplomats will be going home. Complain more loudly, and your diplomats will be investigated and, if necessary, detained. Retaliate, and you do not want to know what will happen, but it will done with cold, reasoned and, yes, pitiless calculation. It will not be a blind punch. You will not see it coming. It will not be an attack on your faith. It will be an attack on how you conduct your business as sovereign states in a world full of sovereign states.

much more, read all, here.


The Blob — Brewing up Neurotoxins

Headlines all over this week about the warming ocean and the postponement of west coast crab season. A toxin in algae –domoic acid– has grown so fast, and deep that traces are being found in crab, shellfish, sardines and anchovies — and the critters that eat them, including humans.

The poisonous algae, multiplying since April, is now estimated to be 40 miles wide, in some places reaching down as far as two football fields, marine biologists say. It is the biggest and most toxic bloom researchers have ever seen.  SF Chronicle

As the NY Times put it the Pacific Ocean has become a caldron.  A 4 to 6 degree rise in seawater temperatures in large areas, some have dubbed “the blob,’ is having effects not seen in human history.

“The Blob” has been associated, among other effects, with the unusually dry and warm weather in the western United States. Out in the ocean, the nutrient-poor warmer waters of the Blob — about four degrees Fahrenheit higher than average — are disrupting the food web of marine life. Some species of fish are showing up where they are not expected, including tropical sunfish off the Alaska coast, and an unusual number of emaciated sea lion pups and Guadalupe fur seals are being found stranded on California shores.

Climate The Blob

Of course the Atlantic ocean has problems as well — and much the same. The cod populations off the coast of Maine are in serious decline — because of rising ocean temperatures.

Cod populations off New England are collapsing because waters [temperatures] of the Gulf of Maine have been rising 99 percent faster than anywhere else in the world since 2004, researchers say. Earthweek and National Geographic.

We could also go to the Indian Ocean / Gulf of Aden, where Tropical Cyclone Chapala hit Yemen, dumping ten years worth of rain during its passage, and bringing a storm surge into the coastal city, Mukalla, laying waste to large parts of the waterfront. First time in recorded history such a storm has landed here.  Earthweek.