Avi -- Amira Hass -- The checkpoint generation
Palestine / Israel
The checkpoint generation
By Amira Hass
For nearly a month now, a young Palestinian has been hospitalized at Beilinson Hospital; soldiers shot him at a checkpoint in northern Nablus on Saturday, November 4. Haitem Yassin, 25, is conscious now, but he is still hooked up to a respirator. In recent days, he has been suffering from a high fever, apparently caused by an infection in his abdomen, which was wounded in the shooting. His family is still waiting for a report from the hospital about the number or type of bullets that caused the serious injury.
At the Samaria Brigade, they are still investigating what happened that day at the fortified and isolated Asira al-Shmaliya checkpoint, through which only the inhabitants of several villages are permitted passage. However, according to testimonies taken by a researcher for B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, it emerges that Yassin had irritated the soldiers. He dared to suggest to them that their demand of women to feel their own bodies to carry out a "security check" was inappropriate. So annoying was he that a soldier shoved him.
Yassin, who had returned from overseas a few months earlier, had apparently not yet internalized the fact that it is dangerous to remind a soldier that a Palestinian is a human being. When the soldier shoved, Yassin shoved back. The soldier, according to the testimonies, started to scream and curse and hit. He quickly received reinforcement from two other soldiers, who fired into the air and at the ground. Even though Yassin fell to the ground after the shooting, the soldiers, relate the witnesses, threw him onto a concrete block, handcuffed him and kicked him. They also kicked him in the head, according to the testimonies, and beat him with their rifles.
Betty -- Oaxaca in a State of Siege
Translation of CODEP note, Spanish original at bottom. -Colin
November 27th, 31st day of the occupation of Oaxaca by federal forces
TO SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
TO HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE PEOPLE IN GENERAL
ULISES RUIZ AND FELIPE CALDERÓN STRIKE HUMAN RIGHTS IN OAXACA WITH THE COUP DE GRÂCE
If by nature the presence of the encampments of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) in public places and the night patrols of the police forces and paramilitaries was aggressive, now that the patrols are done in the plain of day, this city, declared as a cultural patrimony of humanity, is a true war zone. To Oaxaca citizens, it is now not only that we have been captivated by the right to protest, but that we live in a literal state of siege. The violence in the state is unleashed. The enormous number of vehicles carrying members of the PFP patrolling the city is impressive, in addition to the innumerable personal vehicles without license plates that continue picking up and shooting people.
They have, today, taken away 5 people, with violence.
Besides the arbitrarily detained compañeros and compañeros this past Saturday, in a incident of great violation of human rights by the state and federal government, 107 men and 64 women, indigenous and mestizos and mestizas, were transferred to the prison of San José del Rincón, Nayarit, moving them thus away from their families.
Today, ministerial police assassinated, at point blank range, a bus driver who was from the Sierra region, and up to now, his name is unknown.
Students of the Faculty of Medicine of the "Benito Juárez" Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO) who were giving a press conference to repudiate the current events were attacked at approximately 15:30 today with bursts of fire from high powered weapons. From there, they carried away a compañero.
The entrance of the police to Radio Universidad is imminent, to continue with the detainments.
Rene -- Rumsfeld Okayed Abuses Says Former U.S. General
"War on Terror"
Rumsfeld Okayed Abuses Says Former U.S. General
Saturday, November 25, 2006 by Reuters
MADRID - Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the
mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's
former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.
Janis Karpinski, former U.S. Army Brigadier General speaks to media in
Berlin November 14, 2006. Karpinski, who ran the Abu Ghraib prison at
the time photographs depicting the abuse and humiliation of prisonsers
were widely published, said on Tuesday she was willing to testify
against her former boss U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on
behalf of civil rights groups seeking charges against the outgoing
defence secretary for alleged abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo prisons. The U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights
(CCR) hopes German prosecutors will take up the case under Germany's
universal jurisdiction law, which allows them to pursue cases
originating outside the country. Karpinski, who was blamed for the
scandal, has said the torture and abuse was directed by U.S. military
intelligence agents over whom she had no control. REUTERS/Tobias
Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El
Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld
which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep
deprivation during interrogation.
Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a
memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation
"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same
handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is
accomplished"," she told Saturday's El Pais.
"The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods,
sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in
uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques."
Oaxaca Study Action Group -- Minute by Minute Account of a Dat
Via the Oaxaca Study Action Group: OSAG
the center of Free Media
Events of the day: At one week from the conclusion of the first journey of the Other Campaign's Sixth Commission and one week until the presidential succession, today will bring the Seventh March for the removal of Ulises Ruiz in Oaxaca City. The comrade Trini returns to San Salvador Atenco to continue the struggle. At the Santiaguito prison, a day of protest for the repression, torture, rape, the imprisonment, the expulsion for the country and the persecution that the detained women lived in Atenco the third and fourth days of May this year.
22:09 A drive-by shooting lasted two minutes near the Faculy of Medicine. They came in trucks from which they shot. Screams were heard.
21:36 They are asking people from Mexico City to retreat to university city.
21:35 Six pick-up trucks of PFP are heading toward 5 senores.
21:35 The comrades that find themselves in the center of the city retreat and look for a secure place, that they knock on people's doors, that they knock on the church doors because the army is going to enter.
21:34 Oaxaca's Radio Universidad: "The comrades that stayed in the city center, look for refuge and check in with families."
21:33 They are asking people to not go out in isolated groups, only in large groups. That they look for refuge in homes.
21:32 Near the Fortin Mountain, in the neighborhood of Casca, there are 3,000 members of the PFP. They are torturing people and putting them into trucks.
21:24 The people of Neza City are are calling for solidarity with Oaxaca that tomorrow people leave to protest against the massacre that is being carried out now.
21:22 From the ____ neighborhood the police are coming and taking away people indiscriminately.
21:21 The PRIistas are reorganizing themselves in the Siete Regiones fountains.
Rene -- Nine Minutes in the Yard: A conversation with Harun Farocki
Nine Minutes in the Yard:
with Harun Farocki
by Rembert Hüser
Translation by Winfried Thielmann
and Laurent Faasch-Ibrahim
Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen
Rembert Hüser was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Media Studies and Cultural Communication at the University of Cologne, 1999-2001, during which he worked on the history of the Hollywood credit sequence. Since 2001, he is Visiting Professor of Film Studies at the University of Visual Arts, Braunschweig.
This interview took place in Berlin on July 25th, 1999.
Rembert Hüser: In the film-installation you showed recently at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen (I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts, 2000), the dead prison convict, William Martinez, is lying in the yard for nine minutes before he is taken away. Everything follows a precise choreography.
Harun Farocki: I'm sure you are using the term 'choreography' because the yard resembles a stage. Guards, ready to shoot, have their guns trained on Martinez; a camera is lying in wait for an incident worth recording. Martinez is an inmate of a high security prison in Corcoran, California. He starts a fight with another inmate and is shot down. The surveillance video is silent. You see the white smoke from the shot glide through the frame. Then it takes nine minutes before Martinez is taken away on a stretcher. Allegedly the yard has to be cleared for security reasons, which takes some time. . Though the event looks very different from a movie, it gives the impression that it has to take place and could only occur in this staged, dramatic way; it looks predestined.
RH: These nine minutes – during which prisoners are being cleared from the yard, one after the other, making the yard a cross between a chessboard, a billiard table and bowling alley – have been staged. When the two men in business suits finally enter the yard and pronounce Martinez dead, the dramaturgy of the images approximates silent film style: “and then Martinez is gone” (here Farocki quotes a voice-over excerpt from an educational film which a civil rights group made about the event). And in your film there's then another film, in colour this time, of the prison guards watching the role-play of a similar situation and laughing. We have graduated to a role-play which stages the education of educators. What formal techniques do you use to counter or comment on the alien material – material that represents the perspective of power, that's comprised of faded, black-and-white images, a result of frequent over-taping.
HF: I show these pictures in double projection, which results in a softer montage. The simultaneous words and images are suggestive rather then descriptive. Apart from this I try to be spontaneous, like the sudden ideas one gets during good conversations. This is also supposed to counter the merciless logic of execution.
RH: This would actually sit quite well with the fact that your found footage material runs at different speeds. Sometimes you interfere with the material by varying the frame. You show footage from different types of surveillance cameras: normal video footage, but also infrared. Twice you inter-cut this footage with silent films: an inmate bribes a guard for the permission to embrace his girlfriend. Later, the inmate receives a letter in his cell, which announces the separation. All of this points to quite comprehensive research. Is your film part of a larger project?
HF: Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen, only 25 minutes long, was the result of a sudden opportunity. The curators of the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Ruth Noack and Roger Bürgel, invited me to contribute to an exhibition with the beautiful title, “Things we don't understand”. One year ago, I started working on a larger project involving images from prisons. It was about the representation of prisons in movies. But the money to research the project never arrived. So I started looking for footage from surveillance cameras in the US. As is well known, there are many more prisoners in the US than in any other rich nation. The “prison population” is growing steadily, while the crime rate is not! Most inmates are black, and many sentences are scandalously high – it was hard for me not to get carried away by the topicality of the issue. I was almost about to make a rabble-rousing film, a film like a pamphlet.
RH: Why not? Recently they showed a Chinese film from the '70s on the Arte-channel called Red Everest. 300 soldiers of the Red Army march to the top of Mount Everest and put a tripod onto the summit; only nine make it. You know, à la “Our common belief and the mountains”. Pure agitprop but with a lot of power. Admittedly, Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen resembles a film based on a piece of literature, but one that improves on the propagandist text. What I'm trying to say is you film an essay by Gilles Deleuze, “The electronic collar. A controlled society from the inside”, and you turn its quite theatrical theses about the controlled society into a field of work, into practice. How did you get the footage from the surveillance cameras?
HF: We told the authorities that we wanted to document the new technology in prisons. Prisons are about the only place where productivity can't be increased. There are more and more prisoners, but the guards can't control 100 more prisoners every month. So they believe that appliances like surveillance cameras allow them to at least symbolically keep up with the general acceleration. And so we got the opportunity to either cut our own tape or obtain an old tape for copying. This is how we accessed images of water cannons breaking up fights between prisoners or from inside the visiting room where prisoners and female visitors exchange forbidden caresses. Suddenly there is the image of love defying the ban, like a law of nature! We also bumped into a civil rights advocate and member of the civil rights group “California Prison Focus”, who is also private detective. An interesting man – he's a fan of Blumenberg and has a wonderful library. I can imagine him observing the back exit of a nightclub from a parking lot and reading a book at the same time, maybe something from Münster, about the book metaphor, i.e. the book whose meaning is the world. In short, we accessed hours of material from the recess yards in Corcoran: shadowless segments of a circle, completely within the field of vision of the surveillance cameras, and of course within the field of fire of the guns. You can see the prisoners playing sports, and frequently they start fights. Since the opening of the prison, there have been thousands of fights, and the guards have used their guns on approximately 2000 occasions. Hundreds of inmates were wounded, a few dozen were heavily injured, five were shot dead. At first the guards used a large-calibre anti-riot-gun, and then 9mm ammunition.
RH: Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen ends with the sentence “Suddenly there is no longer any reason to shoot at prisoners”. But before this you make it quite clear that the architecture itself supports violence because its very image is violent. Is this last sentence ironic, you know, à la “a little belief in humane imprisonment?”
HF: The irony has a different target. It's becoming all too obvious that there never was any reason to shoot at prisoners. And since one can simply stop this, one can just as simply start it again for any minor reason. Although mass imprisonment, death sentences and executions in the yards have become anachronisms, they still happen. Political thought has to come to terms with the knowledge that such anachronisms do occur.
RH: The title of your film is ambiguous. It's a quotation from Rossellini's Europe 51– Ingrid Bergman sees workers and says, “I thought I was seeing convicts” – and hence seems to endorse the programmatic humanism of this film. You know, like “now I finally see real people”. The archaic metaphors you use in your films – baking bread, slaughtering animals, coins, and gladiators – could sit quite well with this hypothesis. On the other hand ”thought” could also refer to “see”. And in this respect your demonstration of the surveillance technology in American prisons reveals that the very humanism in the name of which this technology was introduced generates the very violence it pretends to prevent, for instance, by turning prisoners into a video game.
HF: Ingrid Bergman thinks of prison when she works in a factory for one day. In the end she is locked up in a clinic. In Rossellini's film, a comprehensive worldview comes into being. This worldview may not hold, but the film has great meaning for me because it emphasises an attitude of not wanting to acquiesce to a system of injustice. This is how I understand Angela Davis when she stands up for the abolition of prisons. It is the community's obligation, not the obligation of institutions, to look after those who commit offences – this demand has a true core. But there are also activists in the US who spread the rumour that the whites want to re-introduce slavery. This is because so many prisoners are black and prison labour is exploited to such a high degree that it can compete with Chinese prison labour! Maybe the term “slavery” has its propagandist use, but I believe these matters can't be understood in terms of economic theory.
Anjalisa -- Land of hope and glory
Land of hope and glory
How do you take kids in the shanty towns of Caracas out of poverty? You turn them into world-beating classical musicians. Charlotte Higgins reports from Venezuela
Friday November 24, 2006
A child in the beginners class at the Montalban Academic Centre, Caracas. Photograph: David Rochkind/Polaris
The Jose Marti Bolivarian School, in the barrio of Sarria in Caracas, is ringing with music. In the school hall, string players, most aged about eight, are pounding away with cast-iron technique at some Beethoven. Through a thickly tropical, dusty garden, a hesitant pom-pom-pomming incongruously reveals itself as the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel - a young tuba player is having a lesson in a corridor. In the gymnasium, sunshine fluttering in through gashes in the roof, 11-year-old Paola Chistoni is being coached. "My trompetita, little trumpeter," says Rafael Elster, director of the school's music, pride in his voice.
When he dispassionately explains the violent realities of the barrio that lies beyond the firmly locked school gates, Elster seems to be describing a different world from that of these cheerful, focused children. We are in one of Caracas's seemingly endless drifts of fragile-looking shacks and ad-hoc homes, which creep out from the central urban sprawl to colonise any space they can, merging with the wooded mountains that circle the city. "Two weeks ago, a mother took three bullets in the chest. Four or five of the mothers of kids here have been shot; a lot of the kids are orphans," he says. "There's a lot of gang fighting - but the police are as bad, if not worse. They come in shooting. Last time, they shot a couple of kids. People have killed to get a space to build a shack alongside the river just over there." He gestures beyond the high school walls.
Up and down Venezuela, a quarter of a million kids are doing exactly what I am seeing here - spending six afternoons a week, from 2pm to 6pm, intensively studying classical music. This is a radical social project in which children, often living in unthinkable circumstances, are given the chance to punch through the poverty cycle - with the help of skills learned through music.
The System, as it is known (the hefty official title of the organisation that runs the project is Fundacion del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela) was born more than 30 years ago. But because of its perceived success, President Hugo Chavez has deemed it in tune with the socialist-revolutionary times. These days, the System has government funding of $29m (pounds 15m) a year - and it is seen as a flagship of national achievement, with children from youth orchestras frequently accompanying the comandante on his excursions as head of state. And the System is attracting international imitators - closest to home, the Scottish Arts Council is about to establish a pilot scheme on the Venezuelan model in one of the nation's most deprived housing schemes.
According to Richard Holloway, chair of SAC and a former bishop of Edinburgh: "You can't help being knocked out by the sexy, almost spiritual intensity of the playing of these kids; it is so deeply human. We decided we wanted to see whether a similar sort of project could make a difference in Scotland, in the sort of settled, workless areas that seem stubbornly resistant to attempts to break the cycle of poverty. It will either take off, or be an interesting experiment that doesn't work."
Anjalisa -- Hezbollah and Resistance The viewpoint of the Lebanese Communist Party Marie Nassif-Debs
IV Online magazine : IV383 - November 2006 Lebanon
Hezbollah and Resistance The viewpoint of the Lebanese Communist Party Marie Nassif-Debs
Question: The Lebanese Communist Party is a secular party, engaged in the
national resistance. What have been its relations with the Hezbollah?
Marie Nassif-Debs: There have been big changes in this relation over the
last 20 years. Twenty years ago the Hezbollah began by waging a merciless
war against communists. I think that the Islamic fundamentalist tendency,
which was especially represented by the Da'wa - an Islamic fundamentalist
party which had backing from Iraq and in Iran, made up not only of Shi'ites,
but with a majority of Shi'ites - saw in the PCL a party that was opposed to
it on everything. It wanted to suppress any idea of secularism, openness,
different philosophy, and so on.
Relations began to be very tense and the Hezbollah went so far as to kill
several of our comrades, especially intellectuals, cadres from the
universities. For example, they killed Mahdi Amil, who had worked on the
problems on colonialism and of religion and who was a very great
intellectual, a very great philosopher.
And there was also Hassan Mroue, a great philosopher who wrote a very
important book, which has been translated into French, and whose title is
"The Materialist Tendencies of Islam". He had begun by being a sheikh, he
wanted to study in Najaf in Iraq. There he discovered that it wasn't what he
was looking for and he became a communist. He wrote many books.
There were small scale combats, in Beirut, in the western Bekaa, in several
regions, in places where there was a relationship of forces such that one
side could suppress the other. That also helped the Syrian tendency to
eliminate communists from the national resistance.
There was a certain understanding between the Syrian forces and the
Hezbollah, and also other forces. We were hunted, there were comrades who
went to carry out resistance operations and they were killed - they had been
shot in the back.
After that relations evolved in a positive way. In the Israeli prisons and
camps, the communists and Hezbollah were side by side. A majority of
communists and fewer Hezbollah. They got to know each other there and that
created relations between the cadres of the two organizations. And after
they were released the relations more or less evolved.
Furthermore, on the level of its thinking, the Hezbollah has evolved,
especially after the election of Hassan Nasrallah to the position of general
secretary. Because - this is a point of view that many comrades share with
me - he is much more Arab than Muslim, in other words, he looks at things
through the eyes of an Arab: he doesn't want to liberate Jerusalem because
it iss one of Islam's holy places, but because the Palestinians have to go
back to the land of their ancestors, have to have their own state... He has
a vision that is different from that of his predecessors. Then we had
relations that were more or less mitigated, sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Our relations have especially evolved since the last Israeli aggression,
where we ourselves called for the formation of a national resistance front
and formed militias which opposed the entry of Israel into several villages,
including certain attempts by Israeli commandos to enter them - in the
Bekaa, near Baalbeck, where we stopped the commando which wanted to move
into Jameliyyah, a village with a communist majority. We had three comrades
We are still a little bit skeptical in our relations with the Hezbollah,
because up to now there are points of dispute between us. For example as
concerns the elimination of the confessional regime , they don't have a
very clear position, although they have evolved.
Avi -- A settlements mafia
Palestine / Israel
Many people who read a similar article which came out yesterday in several papers, were asking, well isn't the entire West Bank Palestinian land, why only 40%? This article goes some way in actually contextualizing what this means. That there emerged two tracks of land acquisition and this 40% comprises the second. Of course, no matter how you cut it, both were illegal, one attempted to couch itself in the heading of "security concerns" while the other just outright took the land without issuing such orders. But fundamentally, all 100% of it is criminal. Israel has just changed the meaning of temporary to mean permanent. -rg
A settlements mafia - Haaretz - Israel News
By Dror Etkes
The figures published yesterday by Peace Now's Settlement Watch team on the ownership of land on which the settlements sit presents a scary picture of the State of Israel's behavior in the territories. Approximately 40 percent of the area of settlements is privately-owned Palestinian land, according to the Civil Administration. Put simply, for dozens of years, Israel continued to expand and entrench the settlement enterprise by dispossessing Palestinian residents of their lands, whose private ownership even the State of Israel does not dispute. All of this is in contrast to the frequently voiced argument of official government spokesmen and settlers that "the settlements sit on state lands."
What is the method used to bring about this phenomenon? From 1967 to 1979, the Israeli military administration in the West Bank made widespread use of the process of "acquiring land for security purposes" to grab thousands of dunams of land under private Palestinian ownership. These lands were in practice used for the purpose of expanding the settlements.
Although "acquiring land for security purposes" in an occupied area is permitted according to international law, it is also limited to a certain time. The High Court of Justice rejected the petitions the landowners submitted against the acquisitions, basing itself on the argument that the settlements do indeed have an added security value, as they are located in the heart of an area where a hostile population lives. That is, permanent settlements were established on lands whose acquisition was meant to have been temporary to begin with. To this day, dozens of settlements owe their legal existence to the absurd ritual in which the OC Central Command signs an extension of the acquisition orders for the lands on which they sit, while declaring that he is convinced the land in question is "necessary for military purposes."
Avi -- Amira Hass -- No more hitching in the W. Bank
Palestine / Israel
No more hitching in the W. Bank
By Amira Hass
The OC Central Command, Yair Naveh, dropped a cluster bomb early this week. He signed an order barring Israeli citizens from taking Palestinian passengers in their Israeli vehicles within the West Bank. The order will take effect on January 19, 2007 and it exempts those who take Palestinians with permits to enter Israel and the settlements, or those who take their first-degree relatives with them.
The reason for the new order, as noted in the IDF Spokesperson's announcement, is of course, security: to impede those who want "to perpetrate terrorist attacks on the home front of the State of Israel and in the Judea, Samaria and Jordan Valley regions." Therefore, the order sounds like a standard IDF shell whose objective is "self-defense," but in practice it is another component in the regime of national and ethnic separation that exists in the West Bank, a regime of privileges for the Jewish settler minority, at the expense of the Palestinians' individual and national rights. Like other military orders and Knesset laws, which are cleverly cloaked in the guise of the security argument, this order, too, sheds cluster bombs that will continue to destroy the remaining chance of establishing Peace-relations with the Palestinians.
The security argument will satisfy the vast majority of Israelis, just as they are content with the security explanation for hundreds of road closures and dozens of military checkpoints inside the West Bank. The fact that these limit mobility to a minimum and separate between a village and its lands, one village and another, a village and the city, and from one district and another, that is, disrupt the normal life that it is still possible to maintain under the Israeli occupation regime, never deterred the army commanders who formulated the orders, never stopped the High Court of Justice judges who approved and continue to approve the orders, and it never bothered the Labor party's MKs. Most of the Israeli public is also not troubled by the fact that it is precisely the checkpoints and roadblocks which serve the Israeli colonization policy; they are dissecting the occupied West Bank into small and disconnected enclaves where Palestinians live, surrounded by an ocean of settlement momentum and Jewish territorial contiguity.
The ban prohibiting Israelis from taking Palestinian passengers in their cars within the West Bank is part of the regime of "transportation separation" Israel has created in the West Bank. The ban complements another order that bars Palestinians with permits to enter Israel from using those crossing points from the West Bank to Israel where Israelis pass through. The Palestinians have separate crossing points. The ban is in addition to the two separate systems of roads the security establishment continues to build unhindered in the West Bank: one for the Jewish settlers and those affiliated with them (and, by accident, for the opponents of the Occupation and Israeli Arabs, as no order against their using it has been issued yet) and the other for the Palestinians. One is spacious, lit up, safe and allows for quick and brief travel. The other is narrow, exhausting, not in good shape and full of checkpoints, and makes the travel slow and time-consuming.
Rene -- Military Documents Hold Tips on Antiwar Activities
"War on Terror"
November 21, 2006
Military Documents Hold Tips on Antiwar Activities
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 — An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.
One tip in the database in February 2005, for instance, noted that “a church service for peace” would be held in the New York City area the next month. Another entry noted that antiwar protesters would be holding “nonviolence training” sessions at unidentified churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The Defense Department tightened its procedures earlier this year to ensure that only material related to actual terrorist threats — and not peaceable First Amendment activity — was included in the database.
The head of the office that runs the military database, which is known as Talon, said Monday that material on antiwar protests should not have been collected in the first place.
“I don’t want it, we shouldn’t have had it, not interested in it,” said Daniel J. Baur, the acting director of the counterintelligence field activity unit, which runs the Talon program at the Defense Department. “I don’t want to deal with it.”
Mr. Baur said that those operating the database had misinterpreted their mandate and that what was intended as an antiterrorist database became, in some respects, a catch-all for leads on possible disruptions and threats against military installations in the United States, including protests against the military presence in Iraq.
Avi -- Human rights group blasts West Bank travel restrictions as 'racist'
Palestine / Israel
Whatever fiction of a democratic state Israel was able to conjure over the last 50 years is crumbling before our eyes. The question really is whether apartheid is sufficient to even begin to describe what is looking more and more like a living concentration camp. -rg
Human rights group blasts West Bank travel restrictions as 'racist'
By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
The Yesh Din organization, which works to protect human rights in the West Bank, wrote a letter of complaint to Defense Minister Amir Peretz Monday over army regulations released Saturday limiting Palestinians from traveling in Israeli vehicles in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
The warrant, signed on Sunday, states that only Palestinians with permits can travel in vehicles bearing Israeli registration plates. The new regulations will come into effect in mid-January.
Yesh Din's chairman condemned the regulations as racist.
"We are talking about an order which reminds one of legal orders from the Dark Ages and racist regimes? This constitutes a clear illegality, even an international crime. It is an apartheid crime," the chairman, Paul Kider, and his attorney Michael Sfarad said.
According to the letter, the new regulations breach international conventions against separating people based on nationality.
"Striking at fundamental rights based on ethnic or national identity is defined as oppression, and such oppression is a crime against humanity. There is no doubt that the order seriously compromises fundamental rights ? to freedom of movement, social and professional relations and especially to dignity ? and there is no disputing that it is directed only at those who are Palestinian," it said.
Avi -- Israel "admits" use of Cluster Bombs
A UN observer inspecting an unexploded cluster bomb-laden rocket in southern Lebanon. (AP)
Last update - 04:36 21/11/2006IDF admits targeting civilian areas in Lebanon with cluster bombs
By Nir Hasson and Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondents
The Israel Defense Forces discovered that there had been "irregularities" in the use of cluster munitions, even before the end of the recent Lebanon war, sources in the defense minister's office said Monday. As a result of this information, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered an "extensive inquiry" into the use of these munitions before the war's end.
Meanwhile, for the first time Monday, the IDF admitted targeting populated areas with cluster munitions. In a statement released by the IDF Spokesman's Office, "the use of cluster munitions against built-up areas was done only against military targets where rocket launches against Israel were identified and after taking steps to warn the civilian population."
The statements released by the minister's office contradict Israel Defense Forces' claims - made both during and after the war - regarding the use of cluster munitions.
One IDF version, which remained unchanged until earlier this week, held that the firing of cluster munitions was done in accordance with international law.
On Sunday it was announced that an investigating officer, Brigadier General Michel Ben-Baruch, who was appointed to examine the issue, found that in some cases cluster munitions were used contrary to the orders of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.
On the basis of these findings, also brought before the Military Advocate General, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, a decision was made to appoint an investigating general to carry out an examination of the circumstances under which the use of cluster munitions was made.
Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that the IDF leadership, including the chief of staff's office, authorized the firing of cluster munitions against the areas in southern Lebanon struck by these weapons.
A commander of a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) battery said they had fired many rockets against targets north of the Litani river, and that those targets had been described as "General Staff targets." This description was given to targets authorized by the chief of staff's office. Furthermore, the chief of staff's office also authorized the types of munitions that would be used.
The United Nations bomb dismantling teams have located many sites north of the Litani that were struck by cluster bombs, including populated areas.
Sources in the defense minister's office said that during the fighting, Peretz had been informed that the IDF used cluster bombs. "The defense minister demanded explanations and he was told that [the IDF] is abiding by international agreements and treaties," a statement from Peretz' office said.
A request made in September by Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On for clarifications regarding the use of cluster munitions has gone unanswered.
MK Ran Cohen (Meretz), a reservist colonel who commanded an artillery battalion during the first Lebanon war, said, according to his experience, the use of cluster munitions is "very unusual." As far as he was aware, he said, any use of such munitions requires authorization by the division commander or higher.
Anjalisa -- Palestinian human shields give Israel pause
Palestine / Israel
Palestinian human shields give Israel pause
By Joshua Mitnick Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor from the
November 20, 2006 edition
TEL AVIV -- In perhaps the most effective act of nonviolent protest in the
six-year Palestinian uprising, hundreds of Gazans forced Israel over the
weekend to call off airstrikes on the residence of a militant leader by
swarming the house as human shields.
In recent months, Israeli security forces have used telephone calls to warn
Palestinian militants and others near alleged militant safe houses and
weapons caches, giving them up to a half hour to evacuate. When militia
leader Mohammed Baroud got the call Saturday, he enlisted neighbors to
protect his house from the Israeli military. They've now set up a system of
shifts to protect the house around the clock.
Palestinian leaders are hailing this as a moral victory that will be
replicated. If so, it may herald a significant tactical shift from attacks
by tiny secretive militant groups to nonviolent civilian protest, a change
that will force Israel to adjust its strategy. It also underscores the
difficulty of fighting militant groups embedded in a civilian population -
whether it be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Gaza.
"The Palestinians are creative and this is something amazing," says Maher
Miqqdad, a Fatah spokesman. "Maybe in the past six years of the intifada,
the focus was on military resistance. But we shouldn't deny the importance
of peaceful resistance. There is an importance in increasing the peaceful
An Israeli army spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity said the
attack was scrapped after the military realized that dozens of Palestinians
were demonstrating on the roof of Mr. Baroud's home.
Having backed down, Israel's military might have to rethink its methods of
striking at militant targets. Israel's army prefers attacking from the air
to risking soldiers' lives by sending infantry and armored units on raids.
And the advance warning of raids is meant to avoid civilian casualties, the
Israeli military says.
Rene -- Israel developing anti-militant "bionic hornet"
Palestine / Israel
Do articles like this do more to desensitize people to the "real" violence that is behind the ideology producing these weapons? Are the articles themselves a part of the violence? How do we begin to comprehend the levels of violence manifest today? -rg
Israel developing anti-militant "bionic hornet"
Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:24 AM ET
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is using nanotechnology to try to create
a robot no bigger than a hornet that would be able to chase, photograph
and kill its targets, an Israeli newspaper reported on Friday.
The flying robot, nicknamed the "bionic hornet", would be able to
navigate its way down narrow alleyways to target otherwise unreachable
enemies such as rocket launchers, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth said.
It is one of several weapons being developed by scientists to combat
militants, it said. Others include super gloves that would give the
user the strength of a "bionic man" and miniature sensors to detect
The research integrates nanotechnology into Israel's security
department and will find creative solutions to problems the army
has been unable to address, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told
"The war in Lebanon proved that we need smaller weaponry. It's
illogical to send a plane worth $100 million against a suicidal
terrorist. So we are building futuristic weapons," Peres said.
Avi -- Gideon Levy -- Bring back Kfar Darom
Palestine / Israel
I suppose the irony in the title is supposed to point people's attention to the fact that Gaza is still occupied and more importantly under siege. -rg
Bring back Kfar Darom
By Gideon Levy
The settlements must be returned to Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of those living in the Gaza Strip should wish for the re-establishment of Netzarim and Kfar Darom. If I were a Palestinian, I would dream of seeing Dugit and Nisanit resurrected. They could serve as the last human shield for a million and a half residents who now comprise one of the most helpless populations in the world. Incarcerated, without any assistance, they are liable to starve to death. Exposed, without any protection, they fall prey to the Israel Defense Forces' operations of vengeance.
Burying its 350 dead since the summer, Gaza threatens to become Chechnya. There are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people in Gaza, unable to receive any treatment. Those on respirators are liable to die due to the frequent power outages since Israel bombed the power plant. Tens of thousands of children suffer from existential anxiety, while their parents are unable to provide help. They are witnesses to sights that even Gaza's old-timers have never seen before.
Anyone who does not believe this can travel to Beit Hanun, an hour from Tel Aviv. The trauma is only intensifying there, in a town that lost nearly 80 of its sons and daughters within a week. The shadows of human beings roam the ruins. Last week, I met people there who are terrified, depressed, injured, humiliated, bereaved and bewildered. What can one say to them? That they should stop firing Qassams? But the vast majority of them are not involved in this at all. That they should return Gilad Shalit? What do they have to do with him? They only know the IDF will return and they know what this will mean for them: more imprisonment in their homes for weeks, more death and destruction in monstrous proportions, without them being guilty of a thing. In Israel's dark southern backyard, a large-scale humanitarian tragedy is unfolding. Israel and the world, including the Arab states, are covering their eyes and the last resort, as absurd as it sounds, might be to long for the settlements. The situation is that desperate.
Rene -- Interview with Alain Badiou
Interview with Alain Badiou
Alain Badiou gave this interview when he attended the "Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible?" conference at University of Washington, in February, 2006.
*Note: The interview was commissioned by a Seattle newspaper; the first few answers address readers who might not know Badiou's work. Most of the following questions were prepared by Nicolas Veroli, who could not be present. Diana George conducted the interview.
Q: I'd like to ask you about your political and intellectual trajectory from the mid 60s until today. How have your views about revolutionary politics, Marxism, and Maoism changed since then?
Badiou: During the first years of my political activity, there were two fundamental events. The first was the fight against the colonial war in Algeria at the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s. I learned during this fight that political conviction is not a question of numbers, of majority. Because at the beginning of the Algerian war, we were really very few against the war. It was a lesson for me; you have to do something when you think it's a necessity, when it's right, without caring about the numbers.
The second event was May 68. During May 68, I learned that we have to organize direct relations between intellectuals and workers. We cannot do that only by the mediation of parties, associations, and so on. We have to directly experience the relation with the political. My interest in Maoism and the Cultural Revolution during the end of 60s and the beginning of the 70s, was this: a political conviction that organizes something like direct relations between intellectuals and workers.
I'll recapitulate, if you like. There were two great lessons: It's my conviction today that political action has to be a process which is a process of principles, convictions, and not of a majority. So there is a practical dimension. And secondly, there is the necessity of direct relations between intellectuals and workers.
That was the beginning, the subjective beginning. In the political field, the correlation with ideologies --Marxism, Cultural Revolution, Maoism and so on -- is subordinate to the subjective conviction that you have to do politics directly, to organize, to be with others, to find a way for principles to exist practically.
Q: What is your idea of fidelity?
Badiou: That's already contained in the first answer. For me, fidelity is fidelity to great events which are constitutive of my political subjectivity. And perhaps there is also something much older, because during the war my father was in the Resistance against the Nazis. Naturally, during the war, he did not say anything about it to me; it was a matter of life and death. But just after the war, I learned that he had been a resistant, that he was really in that experience of resistance against the Nazis. So my fidelity is also a fidelity to my father. At the beginning of that war, very few were in the resistance; after two or three years, there were more. It is the same lesson, if you like, this lesson from my father.
Generally speaking, my fidelity is to two great events: the engagement against the colonial war, and to May 68 and its consequences. Not only the event of May 68 as such, but also its consequences. Fidelity is a practical matter; you have to organize something, to do something. This is the reality of fidelity.
Q: You've said that there has been a rupture, that the entire question of politics is currently in great obscurity. Also, you have written that we must think a politics without party. After the saturation of the class-party experiment, what next?
Badiou: I think a fidelity does not really finish, but sometimes it is saturated; that is my term for it. There is a saturation; you cannot find anything new in the field of your first fidelity. Many people, when this is the case, just say, "It's finished." And really, a political sequence has a beginning and an end, too, an end in the form of saturation. Saturation is not a brutal rupture, but it becomes progressively more difficult to find something new in the field of the fidelity.
Since the mid-80s, more and more, there has been something like a saturation of revolutionary politics in its conventional framework: class struggle, party, dictatorship of the proletariat, and so on. So we have to find something like a fidelity to the fidelity. Not a simple fidelity.
For my generation, it's a choice between saying, on the one hand, "Nothing is possible today in the political field; the reactionary tendency is too strong." That's the position of many people in France today; it's the negative interpretation of saturation.
When the fidelity is saturated, you have a choice. The first possibility is to say it's finished. The second possibility is this: With the help of certain events-- like the events in South America today-- you find what I name a fidelity to the fidelity. Fidelity to the fidelity is not a continuation, strictly speaking, and not a pure rupture, either. We have to find something new. When I was saying yesterday that "from outside, you can see something you don't see from inside," that's merely a rule by which to find something new.
Q: If I can press you further about the something new: After the saturation of party politics, what now?
Naeem -- Generals In Their Labyrinth
Last Sunday, the Bangladesh interim President called the army into
the streets to stop "anarchy." Here we go again, many of us thought.
Return of the Khakis. But within hours, a mysterious new circular
emerged that contradicted the President's order. The army stayed in
the barracks. For now.
15 years after emerging from a military junta, Bangladesh's democracy
is in very fragile shape. After 5 years of disastrous rule by a
rightist-islamist (BNP-Jamaat) coalition, we face the 2007 elections
in an apocalyptic mood. Both the government and the opposition refuse
to give an inch. The opposition's demands include resignation of the
Chief Election Commissioner, of senior bureaucrats, and BNP
loyalists––none of whom can be trusted to enforce the already-
controversial voter list (which is missing large chunks of the
electorate, including minority voters).
Strikes, nihilistic and continuous, have gripped the country. The
opposition Awami League bills this as the showdown between the
Islamists and Secularists. Others see it as a power struggle between
the "Prince" (all-powerful Tarique Rahman, son of the current PM
Khaleda Zia) and the "masses" (a stand-in for each party's
ambitions). The US embassy, the Tuesday Club diplomatic core, World
Bank, etc, once so powerful in Bangladesh's internal affairs, sit on
the sidelines and bleat platitudes. Allergy to outside interference
is reflected in outgoing Finance Minister Saifur Rahman's scolding of
the diplomats: mind your own knitting. With a large chunk of foreign
revenue now coming from Bangladeshi immigrants scattered throughout
the world, the threat of foreign aid doesn't have the same clout any
The possibility of elections in January seem very faint. But what
then? How long will this continue, and who will step in to fill the
gap? The army? The Islamists? Someone else?
A group of us, colleagues, allies, friends, all from what is
melodramatically called "post-71 generation" have been writing op-eds
on these subjects for last few months. Below is a short piece I wrote
in September, warning of the possibility of a military coup.
Avi -- Just one more deception
Just one more deception
By Zvi Bar'el
It's just a question of dosage. Had the members of the Atamna family and their neighbors been killed over the course of two or three days, and had a "most wanted man" been killed along with them, no one would have blinked. Was anyone upset when dozens of people were killed in the Gaza Strip before that artillery shell? Did anyone think it necessary to stop the random shooting? Did anyone apologize for those innocents who were killed cumulatively, one by one?
Because all that is needed is the right excuse, and everything is sorted out. "Anyone who hides terrorists near his home, or terrorists who operate near residences, should know the consequences," asserts the Israeli position, as though it were an advertisement for those slaughter films.
But in Gaza there is no place that isn't near residences, that is free of children and mothers, of unemployed people who fill the alleys and of young people without hope. Everyone sees everyone else, everyone helps everyone else to the best of his ability. Because there is no other way out.
There is no alternative for someone who does not want to participate in this struggle, no jobs, no studies and no possibility of medical care. Therefore, there is also no point in getting angry at the bandits destroying the possibility of living in an independent state. Because there is no one who is promising such a state. The only dilemma is whether to roam the alleys in groups in the hope that an Israeli artillery shell will slaughter a large number at once and them there will be a bit of an uproar, or to walk alone, to try to survive another day.
But we withdrew from Gaza so the Palestinians would start a diplomatic process, explained the popular Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in a radio interview on Thursday, in case the first slogan was not sufficiently impressive.
She, Livni, has a special intonation when she complains about the Palestinians, like the one heard from children when they say "he started it." This is a common and distorting Israeli assertion. The Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Gaza in order to preserve the assets in the West Bank.
But let us suppose that the withdrawal was accompanied by an aspiration for a diplomatic process . A kind of Gaza first - and let's see what happens. Did the occupation end? Did anyone in Jerusalem remember that Gaza and the West Bank are the two parts of one and the same problem, and that Israel has signed an agreement that binds these two areas into a single solution?
Here is another little deception that is usually annexed to any tragedy that happens with the Palestinians. If we just open the Rafah crossing point, if we give a few more workplaces or permits to study, maybe we will release a little bit of money and a few prisoners and everything will sort itself out.
Avi -- An irrelevant test of intentions
Palestine / Israel
An irrelevant test of intentions
By Akiva Eldar
Every time an errant bomb that's launched to execute a Palestinian "wanted man" kills people who are obviously "innocent bystanders," mainly women and children, there is first an expression of heartfelt regret and then comes the time for self-righteousness. "As opposed to the Arabs," declares the defense minister - this time, Amir Peretz - "we do not deliberately target innocent civilians." As opposed to our neighbors, in our case the defense minister, known as "the man of peace," immediately appoints a special investigator to examine the "mishap" and to ascertain that a "tragedy" of this kind will not recur. Until the next time. In other words, don't judge us according to the harsh consequences of our actions. What counts is our good intentions.
Would an expression of regret help the heads of a Palestinian organization who sent a terrorist to blow himself up at a hitchhiking post for soldiers, if the schlemiel were to set off the bomb near a bus load of children? Would the test of intentions save him and the passersby from the revenge of the Israel Defense Forces? What Israeli judge would accept the defense of an activist of the military arm of Fatah, who claimed that his violent acts were meant to release his people from the Israeli occupation?
Ayrene -- Badiou -- Matters of Appearance
Alain Badiou has arrived at what is perhaps the crowning moment of his
career. His magnum opus of 1988, Being and Event, was finally published in
English this year. His much-anticipated sequel, Logiques des mondes (Logics
of Worlds)—his first major philosophical work in eighteen years—appeared in
France in March. And in February, Century, transcriptions of the seminar
Badiou gave at the Collège International de Philosophie between 1998 and
2001, will be published in English translation. Taking advantage of the
occasion to revisit his ideas and their evolution, we invited Badiou once
again to join in conversation with Lauren Sedofsky, who interviewed him in
these pages more than a decade ago (“Being by Numbers,” Artforum, October
1994). Sedofsky's introduction and a brief excerpt are below; to read the
rest of the text, pick up the November issue of Artforum.
Everything that’s abysmal in the present political situation somehow
conspired to make the recent publication in France of Alain Badiou’s
long-awaited Logiques des mondes seem like an urgent message to pick up our
conversation of twelve years ago exactly where we left off.
Philosophy, Badiou had said, can lead to disaster when it seizes truths in
the form of identity or fusion. Indeed, according to Badiou’s “protocol of
distinction,” it is not at all the vocation of philosophy to posit truth but
only to provide the conceptual framework for grasping the “conditions” in
which truths, truths in the making, manifest themselves—politics, science,
art, and love—the resuscitated Platonic conditions, which are strictly
nonphilosophical. Yet the demonstration in Badiou’s seminal text Being and
Event (L’Être et l’événement, 1988) reposed entirely on science (in its
paradigmatic form, mathematics), while its elaboration, one might contend,
had been inspired by politics. And now here was the second magnum opus, a
sequel to the first, eighteen years in the making, which once again
presented the same ambiguous conjugation of what is intrinsic and what is
extrinsic to philosophy. But how could it not? Fundamental to Badiou’s
project from its inception in Le Concept de modèle (The Concept of Model,
1969) was the recourse to mathematical formalization as the preeminently
contemporary (and ancient) alternative to the concurrent reduction of the
world to écriture but within a speculative account of how formalization
progresses—remarkable, therefore, as a rather ingenious yoking of Platonism
and materialism, mathematics and dialectic, or, to put a further slant on
it, as an intrepid attempt to affix the truths of a particular politics to
the thoroughly demonstrable ones of mathematics. Small wonder then that
Logiques des mondes, basically a work that treats the philosophical problem
of “appearance” by means of an area of mathematics known as category theory,
Rene -- BUSH & BLAIR: THE IRAQ FANTASY
BUSH & BLAIR: THE IRAQ FANTASY
By Patrick Cockburn
05 November 2006
Neither will admit that Iraq is a disaster. But while their state of
denial may cost votes in Washington and London, on the frontline in
the Middle East, it continues to cost lives
"When does the incompetence end and the crime begin?" asked an appalled
German Chancellor in the First World War when the German army commander
said he intended to resume his bloody and doomed assaults on the
French fortress city of Verdun.
The same could be said of the disastrous policies of George Bush and
Tony Blair in Iraq. At least 3,000 Iraqis and 100 American soldiers are
dying every month. The failure of the US and Britain at every level
in Iraq is obvious to all. But the White House and Downing Street
have lived in a state of permanent denial. On the Downing Street
website are listed 10 "Big Issues" affecting the Prime Minister,
but Iraq is not one of them.
The picture of what is happening in Iraq put out by Messrs Bush and
Blair no longer touches reality at any point. They claim US and British
troops are present because Iraqis want them there. But a detailed poll
of Iraqi attitudes by WorldPublicOpinion.org, published six weeks ago,
shows that 71 per of Iraqis want the withdrawal of US-led forces within
a year. No less than 74 per cent of Shia and 91 per cent of Sunni say
they want American and British troops out. Only in Kurdistan, where
there are few foreign troops, does a majority support the occupation.
Hostility to the American and British troops has a direct and lethal
consequence for the soldiers on the ground. The same poll shows that
92 per cent of Sunni and 62 per cent of Shia approve of attacks on
US-led forces. This is the real explanation for the strength of the
insurgency: it is widely popular.
Rene -- BUSH & BLAIR: THE AFGHAN FANTASY
BUSH & BLAIR: THE AFGHAN FANTASY
By Raymond Whitaker
05 November 2006
Neither will admit that Afghanistan is a struggle. But their denial
is costing the lives of civilians and troops on the frontline
"Some of the guys think we shouldn't be here, but most of us support
it," a Royal Marine told me as we patrolled near Lashkar Gah, the
capital of Afghanistan's Helmand province. A huge sun was setting
behind the mud walls of Mukhtar, a desperately poor village outside
the town which houses refugees from less stable areas.
"We know what we're doing here: supporting the Afghan people," the
marine went on. He did not say it, but the implication was that this
was different from Iraq, where British troops must be wondering about
their mission after the chief of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt,
said they should leave "soon".
British officers in Helmand, from the commander, Brigadier Jerry
Thomas, down, are relentlessly on-message about the purpose of their
deployment, now six months old. They have not come to this hot,
dusty southern province to fight the Taliban, they say, though if
the insurgents want a fight, they will get it. Instead the measure
of the mission's success or failure will be whether hearts and minds
can be won in the "Afghan development zone". This is a triangle in
the centre of Helmand whose points are Lashkar Gah, Gereshk, the main
commercial centre, and Camp Bastion, the main British base.
Rene -- ROBERT FISK: THIS WAS A GUILTY VERDICT ON AMERICA AS WELL
ROBERT FISK: THIS WAS A GUILTY VERDICT ON AMERICA AS WELL
Published: 06 November 2006
So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war
crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab
world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the
gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday
declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day
for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was
pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003.
And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.
Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't
be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to
think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched
by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison,
Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if
they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party
before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib
in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death
instead of the condemned man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these
days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very
same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we?
- to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now
than it was under Saddam.
Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon
Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather,
death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to
inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places -
his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if
Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against
which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We
only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered
some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a
country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as George
Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam
was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.
"Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise
He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi
flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government
that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass
murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with
Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of Defence. Remember
that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the
support he received from George Bush Snr, the current US President's
father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi officials claimed last week
the Americans had been urging them to sentence Saddam before the
mid-term US elections.
Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans,
Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must be
Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of rope it might be. Snow,
after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam verdict - not the trial
itself, please note - was "scrupulous and fair". The judges will
publish "everything they used to come to their verdict."
No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not
allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime
so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on
a localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of
Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were
so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it
in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of
course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking,
Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States
Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and
their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian
Rene -- Lynne Stewart Letter to judge
"War on Terror"
Not An Alternative -- In memory of Brad Will
Friends of Not An Alternative and The Change You Want to See,
A close friend of our collective was just murdered in Oaxaca, Mexico on
Friday. He was an activist and a journalist, there to document a popular
movement of teachers and other civilians. They were peacefully protesting
at the barricades there, and he was filming, when paramilitaries and
government thugs opened fire and killed Brad Will.
Brad was truly the most dedicated and passionate environmental, human
rights, and global justice activists and journalists that we've ever
known. He dedicated his life to visiting the places where globalization
hit the hardest -- to tell the stories of people whose stories go untold
in mainstream press. Now the government of Mexico has used his death a
pretext to send in thousands of federal troops, to bulldoze the
barricades, arrest protest leaders, and squash the popular uprising that
Brad and sadly, many others in Oaxaca have died to defend. This sickens us.
Not An Alternative has been working with other friends of Brad's to
coordinate media work, organize demonstrations, vigils, build a website,
and build grassroots pressure. There is a Oaxaca support letter that a
number of luminaries have signed on to, including Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky,
Eve Ensler, Danny Glover, Eduardo Galeano, Michael Hardt, Michael Moore,
Antonio Negri, Arundhati Roy, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn, and many others.
It calls on the Mexican government to withdraw troops from Oaxaca, release
all detainees, bring assasins to justice, and remove the corrupt and
illegitimate governor Ruiz.
Anjalisa -- 1 Protest + 2 Proposal Against Climate Change
2 Proposals against climate change:
1. Protest in London
2. "Drastic action on climate change is needed now -
and here's the plan"
Suggestions from George Monbiot
1. Protest in London
Put a candle in your window as a sign of your protest....and distribute this
mail widely ...xanj
BLACKOUT LONDON 4th November 2006
Starting at Sunset 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm
You are invited to take part in the largest demonstration of People Power
that London has ever seen on Saturday 4th November 2006, by turning off all
your lights, and switching off all your non-essential electrical equipment
Climate Change is already compromising the water supply, crops, habitat and
livelihoods of millions of people worldwide, and threatens to undermine the
Global Economy within a few decades, as well as creating waves of Climate
Refugees, and driving countless animals and plants to extinction.
The principal cause of Global Warming is the rising Carbon Dioxide emissions
into the atmosphere from the burning of Fossil Fuels, for electricity
generation, transport, manufacturing, industry, space heating and air
REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THE FOURTH OF NOVEMBER !
For one day in November, we are asking everyone who receives this message to
think about what they can turn off, switch off and unplug, to show support.
We want the power demand in the United Kingdom to reduce so much that the
newspapers are obliged to report it.
We want the lights to go out in London, so that on the evening of 4th
November 2006, the dimming effect will be visible from space.
To protect us from the Enemy of Climate Change, we need a War on Energy
Abuse. Just like Britain during World War Two, we need to see a Blackout all
CELEBRATE THE NIGHT OF POWER : TURN OFF ! SWITCH OFF ! UNPLUG !
If you are a security guard for an office block in London, please ask your
employers when you should be turning the lights out. If you are a church
warden, please check with your church council to see if they agree to
switching off the floodlights. If you are working for your local Council,
ask if you can help them implement an energy reduction plan to turn off
lights, computers and fans at the weekend. If you are at home, switch off
your set-top boxes, pull all the chargers out of the wall sockets, turn off
lights in any room you are not using, switch off any machine with a digital
clock in it, unplug the hi-fi and the TV and the games console, de-frost
your freezer, switch off your fridge for a couple of hours. Turn the central
heating thermostat down to 16 degrees and put a woolly sweater/jumper on if
Blackout London is being called by the same group that organised the Power
Cut on 31st August 2006, and is being promoted by workface :-
COME OFF IT !
Blackout London is being called in cooperation with Come Off It ! the
campaign from Dave Hampton, the Carbon Coach, as part of a series of regular
events to produce negawatts - negative power demand - from the People's
Power Station :- http://www.carboncoach.com/comeoffit/index.html
STOP CLIMATE CHAOS
Rene -- CIA TRIED TO SILENCE EU ON TORTURE FLIGHTS
"War on Terror"
CIA TRIED TO SILENCE EU ON TORTURE FLIGHTS
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
Thursday October 26, 2006
Germany offered access to prisoner in Morocco if it quelled opposition
The CIA tried to persuade Germany to silence EU protests about the
human rights record of one of America's key allies in its clandestine
torture flights programme, the Guardian can reveal.
According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let
Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being
held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in
return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over
human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes
Morocco as a "valuable partner in the fight against terrorism".
The classified documents prepared for the German parliament last
February make clear that Berlin did eventually get to see the detained
suspect, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 as an alleged organiser
of the September 11 strikes.
He was flown from Morocco to Syria on another rendition flight. Syria
offered access to the prisoner on the condition that charges were
dropped against Syrian intelligence agents in Germany accused of
threatening Syrian dissidents.
Germany dropped the charges, but denied any link.
After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost
universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in
countries where terrorist suspects have been held. They have also
sidestepped questions about secret CIA flights partly because of
growing evidence of their complicity.
The disclosure is among fresh revelations about how the CIA flew
terrorist suspects to locations where they were tortured, and Britain's
knowledge of the practice known as "secret rendition". They are
contained in Ghost Plane, by Stephen Grey, the journalist who first
revealed details of secret CIA flights in the Guardian a year ago. More
than 200 CIA flights have passed through Britain, records show.
Rene -- Doing business with Africa's Hitler
Doing business with Africa's Hitler
Saturday, October 21, 2006 6:38 AM CDT
Public pension funds shouldn't support genocide
In the Sudan's government ceaseless genocide in Darfur - while the
world watches in horror but does not act - 80 children under age
5 die each day, estimates the United Nations Children's Fund (Sudan
Tribune Web site, Oct. 7). As more relief agencies pull out because of
the growing violence, more children older than age 5 will die. Yet,
just before leaving for midterm elections, the Senate stripped out
a vital part of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.
As previously passed by the House with wide bipartisan support and now
signed by the president, the bill blocked assets and froze visas of
anyone connected with these mass murders and rapes of black African
But what Richard Lugar, R-Ind. - chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee - removed from the Senate version was a section
in the House bill that protected the right of our individual states
(six already, with more on the way) to divest public pension funds
from international companies doing business in murderous Sudan.
Successfully lobbying against this provision was the National Foreign
Trade Council, representing more than 300 multinational companies,
some of whom eagerly do business with Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the
architect of this genocide, which has not killed as many as Hitler's
Holocaust. But the willingness of international corporations to profit
from the dealings with the Hitler of Africa reminds me of a magazine
headline I saw in the late 1930s: "Would you do business with Hitler?"
Also opposing individual state divestments is the National Association
of Manufacturers. In the Sept. 27 issue of The Hill, Bill Primosch,
that organization's director of international business policy,
dismissed state divestment laws as not having "a practical impact;
it becomes a symbolic gesture." And another lobbyist crowed of the
removal of this section of the House bill: "It is a big win."
The biggest winner, the National Foreign Trade Council - which is suing
the state of Illinois on its divestment law - claims, moreover, that
individual states have no right to interfere with national foreign
policy. (The Bush administration did not object to the stripping of
the House bill on this issue.)
However, years ago, during the debate on state divestments against
South Africa's apartheid regime, Gerald Warburg, on the staff of
California Sen. Alan Cranston, said: "The bottom line is that local
authorities already have a clear legal right and moral obligation to
exercise discretion in how they invest THEIR OWN money."
Rene -- Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb
Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb
Alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on Lebanon
28 October 2006
Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon
this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese
lives, most of them civilians?
We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on
Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern
Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving
tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese
civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically
denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used
phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under
the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor
the United States have signed.
But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in
Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah
guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that
uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons
inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr
Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European
Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli
heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both
have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory
in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence
- which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the
Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons
for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel
small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon
(eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium
oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting
conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium
rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the
first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from
Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as
fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste productof the enrichment process is
depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank
missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive
than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.
Israel has a poor reputation for telling the truth about its use of
weapons in Lebanon. In 1982, it denied using phosphorous munitions on
civilian areas - until journalists discovered dying and dead civilians
whose wounds caught fire when exposed to air.
I saw two dead babies who, when taken from a mortuary drawer in West
Beirut during the Israeli siege of the city, suddenly burst back into
flames. Israel officially denied using phosphorous again in Lebanon
during the summer - except for "marking" targets - even after
civilians were photographed in Lebanese hospitals with burn wounds
consistent with phosphorous munitions.
Then on Sunday, Israel suddenly admitted that it had not been telling
the truth. Jacob Edery, the Israeli minister in charge of
government-parliament relations, confirmed that phosphorous shells
were used in direct attacks against Hizbollah, adding that "according
to international law, the use of phosphorous munitions is authorised
and the (Israeli) army keeps to the rules of international norms".
Asked by The Independent if the Israeli army had been using
uranium-based munitions in Lebanon this summer, Mark Regev, the
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Israel does not use any
weaponry which is not authorised by international law or international
conventions." This, however, begs more questions than it answers. Much
international law does not cover modern uranium weapons because they
were not invented when humanitarian rules such as the Geneva
Conventions were drawn up and because Western governments still refuse
to believe that their use can cause long-term damage to the health of
thousands of civilians living in the area of the explosions.
American and British forces used hundreds of tons of depleted uranium
(DU) shells in Iraq in 1991 - their hardened penetrator warheads
manufactured from the waste products of the nuclear industry - and
five years later, a plague of cancers emerged across the south of
Initial US military assessments warned of grave consequences for
public health if such weapons were used against armoured vehicles. But
the US administration and the British government later went out of
their way to belittle these claims. Yet the cancers continued to
spread amid reports that civilians in Bosnia - where DU was also used
by Nato aircraft - were suffering new forms of cancer. DU shells were
again used in the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq but it is too
early to register any health effects.
"When a uranium penetrator hits a hard target, the particles of the
explosion are very long-lived in the environment," Dr Busby said
yesterday. "They spread over long distances. They can be inhaled into
the lungs. The military really seem to believe that this stuff is not
as dangerous as it is." Yet why would Israel use such a weapon when
its targets - in the case of Khiam, for example - were only two miles
from the Israeli border? The dust ignited by DU munitions can be blown
across international borders, just as the chlorine gas used in attacks
by both sides in the First World War often blew back on its
Chris Bellamy, the professor of military science and doctrine at
Cranfield University, who has reviewed the Busby report, said: "At
worst it's some sort of experimental weapon with an enriched uranium
component the purpose of which we don't yet know. At best - if you can
say that - it shows a remarkably cavalier attitude to the use of
nuclear waste products."
The soil sample from Khiam - site of a notorious torture prison when
Israel occupied southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000, and a
frontline Hizbollah stronghold in the summer war - was a piece of
impacted red earth from an explosion; the isotope ratio was 108,
indicative of the presence of enriched uranium. "The health effects on
local civilian populations following the use of large uranium
penetrators and the large amounts of respirable uranium oxide
particles in the atmosphere," the Busby report says, "are likely to be
significant ... we recommend that the area is examined for further
traces of these weapons with a view to clean up."
This summer's Lebanon war began after Hizbollah guerrillas crossed the
Lebanese frontier into Israel, captured two Israeli soldiers and
killed three others, prompting Israel to unleash a massive bombardment
of Lebanon's villages, cities, bridges and civilian
infrastructure. Human rights groups have said that Israel committed
war crimes when it attacked civilians, but that Hizbollah was also
guilty of such crimes because it fired missiles into Israel which were
also filled with ball-bearings, turning their rockets into primitive
one-time-only cluster bombs.