Meanwhile Alsumaria reports dust storms are sweeping parts of Iraq. AFP notes that at least one dust storm has resulted in the closing of Iraq's airport and that this might impact "the nuclear talks" Iraq and Iran are supposed to hold with England, China, Russia, France, Germany and the US tomorrow. Alsumaria notes that an Iranian delegation has already arrived in Baghdad for tomorrow's meetings. Iran is already geared up for the talks as Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) noted: "The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday after meeting with Iran's chief negotiator on nuclear issues that the atmosphere among Iranian officials was 'positive' ahead of Wednesday's scheduled meeting in Baghdad with six world powers." AP notes today that the two countries have exchanged the remains of "98 Iranians and 13 Iraqis" from the 8 year war between the two countries that kicked off in 1980.
Turning to the US, at the start of last month, Home Depot was in trouble with the Justice Dept for failure to comply with US Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Acts of 1994 by firing Brian Bailey for his deploying with the National Guard. Late yesterday, the Justice Dept released the following:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 21, 2012
Justice Department Settles with Home Depot to Enforce the Employment Rights of an Army National Guard Soldier
The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., to resolve allegations that the company violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) when it terminated the employment of Army National Guard soldier Brian Bailey.
The department’s complaint alleged that Home Depot willfully violated USERRA by terminating Mr. Bailey’s employment because of his military service obligations. Mr. Bailey, an Iraq War veteran, worked at a Home Depot store in Flagstaff, Ariz., as a department supervisor while at the same time serving in the California Army National Guard. Throughout his employment with Home Depot, Mr. Bailey took periodic leave from work to fulfill his military obligations with the National Guard. According to the Justice Department’s complaint, Mr. Bailey was removed from his position as a department supervisor after Home Depot management officials at the Flagstaff store openly expressed their displeasure with his periodic absences from work due to his military obligations and further indicated their desire to remove him from his position because of those absences.
Under the terms of the settlement, embodied in a consent decree that has been submitted for approval to the federal district court, Home Depot will provide Mr. Bailey with $45,000 in monetary relief and make changes to its Military Leaves of Absence policy. The settlement further mandates that Home Depot review its Military Leaves of Absence policy with managers from the district where Mr. Bailey worked.
“This settlement demonstrates our vigilant protection of the employment opportunities of our service members, and our commitment to vigorous enforcement of the laws that protect them,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “ The department is pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with Home Depot to resolve this matter without the need for contested litigation.”
“This settlement not only compensates Mr. Bailey for employment opportunities he lost because of his military service, but it will also protect other members of our nation’s armed services employed by Home Depot through the required changes to the company’s Military Leaves of Absence policy and review of that policy with managers from the district where Mr. Bailey worked,” said Ann Birmingham Scheel, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
This case was handled by the Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Civil rights enforcement is a priority of the Department of Justice. The rights of our service members are protected under USERRA, which prohibits civilian employers from discriminating against members of the military, including National Guard soldiers, with respect to employment opportunities based on their past, current, or future uniformed service obligations. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites, www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and www.servicemembers.gov , as well as the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm .
The following community sites-- plus World Can't Wait, Adam Kokesh, Black Agenda Report and The Diane Rehm Show -- updated last night and this morning:
THIS JUST IN! PACING HIMSELF!2 hours ago
We'll close with this from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Human Rights, Religious Groups Deliver Petition Todaypress@ccrjustice.org
May 21, 2012, Washington, D.C. – Today, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture delivered to the White House a petition of more than 60,000 signatures asking President Obama to extend a formal apology to Maher Arar. Arar is a Canadian citizen who was detained in 2002 by the United States and sent to Syria where he was tortured and imprisoned without charge for a year. Arar was ultimately released and allowed to return to Canada. He was never charged with a crime.
Maher Arar, who lives in Canada with his family, expressed appreciation for Americans working on his behalf. “I am very grateful to all those Americans who have worked hard on this first-of-its-kind campaign seeking an apology from an administration that chose to turn a blind eye on holding torturers to account,” Arar said. “The efforts of those who worked on this campaign will never go in vain as future generations will look back in history and remember them as the true American patriots.”
The Canadian government, which had supplied inaccurate intelligence to the United States, formally apologized to Arar and paid him compensation. The United States, however, has never apologized for its role and still lists Arar on a U.S. watch list. U.S. courts dismissed a federal lawsuit filed on his behalf.
“Two years ago, the Obama Administration obstructed Maher Arar’s quest for justice in the Supreme Court,” said Maria LaHood, senior staff attorney, the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented Maher Arar in a lawsuit against Bush Administration officials. “President Obama must finally step up and apologize for the torture inflicted by the previous administration, and clear the name of an innocent man.”
Though Arar was detained and rendered to torture during the Bush administration, human rights groups believe the responsibility now falls on President Obama to issue an apology to Mr. Arar on behalf of the United States.
“The bottom line is that Arar was held illegally, stripped of his rights and rendered to a brutal Syrian regime where he was tortured – all at the behest of the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA executive director. “Despite being freed and exonerated by his home country, Canada, the United States has never apologized to Arar. This is unconscionable. There must be accountability for torture. To do anything less is a blatant miscarriage of justice.”
The United States’ failure to apologize motivated NRCAT, Amnesty International USA, and the Center for Constitutional Rights to organize today’s delivery of signatures to the White House. Today marks the anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 speech on national security delivered at the National Archives, where he acknowledged that “All too often, our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight.”
“U.S.-sponsored torture has done great harm to the reputation of the United States,” said Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a leading organization in today’s coalition efforts. “An apology by our nation to Maher Arar has the power to potentially heal our relationships with many other nations. Torture is immoral, illegal and counterproductive. An apology to Maher Arar would be an important step in ensuring that the U.S. never tortures again.”
We call upon the President to issue an apology to Maher Arar and all of the victims of U.S.-sponsored torture. He can take a meaningful step by recognizing Arar’s case when he makes a statement on June 26, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. 800x600 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
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