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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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Supreme Court refuses to hear California prison overcrowding case

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of a court order that requires California to ensure that disabled inmates who are housed in county jails to ease crowding in state prisons receive appropriate accommodations.

The court’s denial highlighted tensions between the most populous U.S. state and federal courts about crowding and conditions in California's troubled prison system.

The state has been under court orders to reduce its prison population since 2009 and has sought to comply partly by funneling some non-violent offenders to county jurisdiction.

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Obama administration considers transfer of more Guantánamo detainees

gitmoEven as controversy persists over the swap of five senior Taliban leaders for army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Guardian has learned that the Obama administration is considering the transfer of a new round of Guantánamo Bay detainees.

In what would represent the first proposed transfers out of Guantánamo since the May 31 announcement of the trade – and, accordingly, a test of President Obama's commitment to shuttering the detention center – the administration is set to decide the fate of what is said to be a small number of detainees, an internal debate that began months before it faced an avalanche of congressional criticism around the most recent Guantanamo release.

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Stories from an occupation: the Israelis who broke silence

Breacking the silenceThe young soldier stopped to listen to the man reading on the stage in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, outside the tall façade of Charles Bronfman Auditorium. The reader was Yossi Sarid, a former education and environment minister. His text is the testimony of a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces, one of 350 soldiers, politicians, journalists and activists who on Friday – the anniversary of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land in 1967 – recited first-hand soldiers' accounts for 10 hours straight in Habima Square, all of them collected by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.

When one of the group's researchers approached the soldier, they chatted politely out of earshot and then phone numbers were exchanged. Perhaps in the future this young man will give his own account to join the 950 testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence since it was founded 10 years ago.

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American couple in Afghanistan video plea say they're parents

Coleman coupleThe married couple with a taste for exotic travel set out for Central Asia in the summer of 2012, moving as tourists through a region not normally visited by Westerners.

It was a risky venture by any standards, not least because young travelers were expecting their first child. They crossed into Afghanistan where, one day, Joshua Boyle emailed relatives from an Internet cafe in a part of the country he called unsafe.

The Oct. 8, 2012, message was the last anyone heard from the Canadian man or his pregnant wife, Caitlan Coleman. Now there's a new wrinkle in the story.

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Israel doctors won't force-feed Palestinians

Palestinian prisoners in IsraelProposed legislation to permit the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike is pitting Israel's government against the country's main doctors' association, which says the practice amounts to torture.

The ethical and legal debate has taken on an urgent tone, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asking to fast-track the bill as a hunger strike by dozens of Palestinian detainees entered its sixth week.

At least 65 of 290 participating detainees have been hospitalized since the first group began a hunger strike April 24. Many are administrative detainees, held for months or years without charges.

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Guantánamo inmate makes new force-feeding complaint after judge's ruling

Gitmo force feedingA hunger-striking prisoner in Guantánamo Bay whose force-feeding prompted a highly critical ruling from a federal judge accusing the Department of Defense of “intransigence” and of inflicting possibly “unnecessary pain” has complained that he is once again being subjected to harsh treatment amounting to torture.

Abu Wa'el Dhiab said that in the past 10 days he had suffered especially harsh treatment from what he called “the rough team” of guards brought from another military camp to give him enteral feeding. He said the team “takes you very roughly, with torture”.

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UN backlash as Uganda's 'anti-gay' minister heads for human rights top job

UN blacklashThe United Nations is facing a chorus of criticism over the inauguration as president of its general assembly of Uganda's foreign minister, just four months after that country enforced a brutal and widely denounced anti-gay law.

Sam Kutesa will become ceremonial head of the world parliament on 11 June. There will be no ballots cast and he will be "elected by acclamation", as he is the only candidate for the 12-month post, having been chosen by t he African Union for the job that falls this year to Africa on a Buggins' turn basis.

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