Anj -- Film review -- Waltz with Bashir"
Palestine / Israel
Film review: "Waltz with Bashir"
Naira Antoun, The Electronic Intifada, 19 February 2009
Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary film charting the director's quest to recover his lost memories of the 1982 massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila in Beirut, Lebanon, has been released to international acclaim. The film presents itself, and has largely been received, as a soul-searching and honest account of a journey to face up to guilt and responsibility. More than a quarter of a century after the atrocities in Sabra and Shatila, during which approximately 2,000 civilians were brutally murdered, we are witnessing a perverse moment: an apparently "anti-war" Israeli film wins several Israeli and international film awards in a context not only of Israel's ongoing brutal occupation, violations of international law, racism and denial of refugee rights, but also while fresh atrocities are committed by Israeli forces in Gaza.
One night in a bar, a friend tells director, Ari Folman, about a recurring dream connected to his time in Lebanon in 1982, and Folman is alarmed to discover he has no memory of his own army service in Lebanon when he was 19. This serves as the point of departure for Folman's cinematic journey. In an attempt to piece together what happened, he talks to several old friends who also fought in Lebanon. They are a motley assortment of middle-aged men, self-deprecating, liberal, essentially likeable characters. One of Folman's first stops is with an old friend he served alongside and who now lives in Holland, having made a living selling falafel. "Healthy and Middle Eastern food is popular" he remarks wryly, unperturbed by the wholesale appropriation of Palestinian and Arab culture. But Waltz with Bashir has bigger fish to fry than falafel; it is a film charting an Israeli quest to remember -- or to unforget -- the Israeli role in the brutal massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. Or at least, this is the film's ostensible purpose.
Several times, Folman talks to his psychologist friend, who appears wise and grounded and acts as a moral compass throughout the film. He is an Ashkenazi secular Jewish version of a priest -- the couch is a kind of confessional, where one goes to seek validation and also redemption. When Folman first talks to him about his flashbacks, his friend -- speaking in the voice of therapist, priest and philosopher -- offers reassuring reflections on memory: "We don't go to places we don't want to," he says. "Memory takes us where we want to go." To read against the grain of the film's tropes of memory, remembering and moral reckoning, is to recognize this comment as an apt description of the entire film -- the remembering that the film undertakes does not take Israelis to places where they really would not want to go.
To say that Palestinians are absent in Waltz with Bashir, to say that it is a film that deals not with Palestinians but with Israelis who served in Lebanon, only barely begins to describe the violence that this film commits against Palestinians. There is nothing interesting or new in the depiction of Palestinians -- they have no names, they don't speak, they are anonymous. But they are not simply faceless victims. Instead, the victims in the story that Waltz with Bashir tells are Israeli soldiers. Their anguish, their questioning, their confusion, their pain -- it is this that is intended to pull us. The rotoscope animation is beautifully done, the facial expressions so engaging, subtle and torn, we find ourselves grimacing and gasping at the trials and tribulations of the young Israeli soldiers and their older agonizing selves. We don't see Palestinian facial expressions; only a lingering on dead, anonymous faces. So while Palestinians are never fully human, Israelis are, and indeed are humanized through the course of the film.
We most often see Palestinians -- when we do see them -- being blown to pieces or lying dead, but there is one scene where mourning Palestinian women occupy a street. They don't speak; they cry and shout. We don't see the hard lines of their grief, we don't see their tears. Rather, the focus zooms into the face of the younger Folman watching them as his breathing becomes more shallow, functioning as the emotional anchor of the scene. This is very typical of the film in that the suffering and experiences of Palestinians are significant principally for the effects that they have on the Israeli soldiers, and never in their own right.
Rene -- The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies
The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British
By Kambale Musavuli
Online Journal Guest Writer
Feb 19, 2009, 00:17
Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a
plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or
through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the
latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly
documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese
resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London's
staunchest allies in Africa.
However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly
documents Rwanda's support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the
Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented
which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N.
report on the latest expression of Rwanda's aggression against the
The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant
secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker
Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented
looting of Congo's wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East
African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought
his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially20the same
scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo.
Two elements are at the core of both proposals.
One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by
Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo.
And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization
of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by
Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the
Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the
core issues revealed in the report.
The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and
victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda's role
as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the
Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have
triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations
says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.
The report `found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been
complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have
facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers
and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces' to the DRC. The support is
for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP,
formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.
The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted
by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP
has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank
accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met
regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.
Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N.
reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo's
exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.
The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to
Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the
Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named
by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the
conflict in the Congo.
In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel
of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other
Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the
figures illegally exploiting Congo's wealth. His implication this time
comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.
This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include
but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan
Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame's Presidential
Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warre
Rene -- Pilger -- Hollywood's New Censors
Art World Stuff
I just thought this was interesting not for the call it made to Hollywood (or for more Michael Moore type films), but the imagination it might provoke on the many different scales of artistic practice.
During the Cold War, Hollywood's anti-Soviet message was loud and clear. Today, the film industry is more likely to censor by omission
Hollywood's New Censors
19/02/2009 Hollywood's New Censors
By John Pilger - Information Clearinghouse
When I returned from the war in Vietnam, I wrote a film script as an
antidote to the myth that the war had been an ill-fated noble cause.
The producer David Puttnam took the draft to Hollywood and offered it
to the major studios, whose responses were favourable ` well, almost.
Each issued a report card in which the final category, `politics',
included comments such as: `This is real, but are the American people
ready for it? Maybe they'll never be.'
By the late 1970s, Hollywood judged Americans ready for a different
kind of Vietnam movie. The first was The Deer Hunter which, according
to Time, `articulates the new patriotism'. The film celebrated
immigrant America, with Robert de Niro as a working class hero
(`liberal by instinct') and the Vietnamese as sub-human Oriental
barbarians and idiots, or `gooks'. The dramatic peak was reached during
recurring orgiastic scenes in which GIs were forced to play Russian
roulette by their Vietnamese captors. This was made up by the director
Michael Cimino, who also made up a story that he had served in Vietnam.
`I have this insane feeling that I was there,' he said. `Somehow ¦ the
line between reality and fiction has become blurred.'
The Deer Hunter was regarded virtually as documentary by ecstatic
critics. `The film that could purge a nation's guilt!' said the Daily
Mail. President Jimmy Carter was reportedly moved by its `genuine
American message'. Catharsis was at hand. The Vietnam movies became a
revisionist popular history of the great crime in Indo-China. That more
than four million people had died terribly and unnecessarily and their
homeland poisoned to a wasteland was not the concern of these films.
Rather, Vietnam was an `American tragedy', in which the invader was to
be pitied in a blend of false bravado-and-angst: sometimes crude (the
Rambo films) and sometimes subtle (Oliver Stone's Platoon). What
mattered was the strength of the purgative.
CODEPINK -- To Gaza, With Love
Palestine / Israel
To Gaza, With Love
19/02/2009 To Gaza, With Love
By Medea Benjamin ` Global Exchange
Al-Manar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article or
for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's
When I traveled to Gaza last week, everywhere I went, a photo haunted
me. I saw it in a brochure called "Gaza will not die" that Hamas gives
out to visitors at the border crossing. A poster-sized version was
posted outside a makeshift memorial at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
And now that I am back home, the image comes to me when I look at
children playing in the park, when I glance at the school across the
street, when I go to sleep at night.
It is a photo of a young Palestinian girl who is literally buried alive
in the rubble from a bomb blast, with just her head protruding from the
ruins. Her eyes are closed, her mouth partially open, as if she were in
a deep sleep. Dried blood covers her lips, her cheeks, her hair.
Someone with a glove is reaching down to touch her forehead, showing
one final gesture of kindness in the midst of such inhumanity.
What was this little girl's name, I wonder. How old was she? Was she
sleeping when the bomb hit her home? Did she die a quick death or a
slow, agonizing one? Where are her parents, her siblings? How are they
Of the 1,330 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military during the
22-day invasion of Gaza, 437 were children. Let me repeat that: 437
children-each as beautiful and precious as our own.
As a Jew, an American and a mother, I felt compelled to witness,
firsthand, what my people and my taxdollars had done during this
invasion. Visiting Gaza filled me with unbearable sadness. Unlike the
primitive weapons of Hamas, the Israelis had so many sophisticated ways
to murder, maim and destroy-unmanned drones, F-16s dropping "smart
bombs" that miss, Apache helicopters launching missiles, tanks firing
from the ground, ships shelling Gaza from the sea. So many horrific
weapons stamped with Made in the USA. While Hamas' attacks on Israeli
villages are deplorable, Israel's disproportionate response is
unconscionable, with 1,330 Palestinians dead vs. 13 Israelis.
If the invasion was designed to destroy Hamas, it failed miserably. Not
only is Hamas still in control, but it retains much popular support. If
the invasion was designed as a form of collective punishment, it
succeeded, leaving behind a trail of grieving mothers, angry fathers
and traumatized children.
The Independent -- Obama, Tell Us the Whole Truth
Obama, Tell Us the Whole Truth
‘Having considered the matter, the government adheres to its previously articulated position." With these words, Acting Assistant Attorney General Michael Hertz ended a dream. The dream that Barack Obama's presidency would inaugurate a transcendent world order on a new moral plane.
Late on Friday Mr Hertz told the Washington district court that the Obama administration maintained President Bush's view that prisoners held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan could not challenge their detention in US courts. For the cynics, this is "a previously articulated position you can believe in".
This newspaper was not so naive as to imagine that President Obama would immediately conform to the most scrupulous interpretation of US and international law. We are pleased that he has ordered the closure within a year of Guantanamo Bay, halted military trials and restricted CIA interrogators to Army Field Manual techniques. But the refusal to grant legal rights to detainees at Bagram is disappointing.
The US Supreme Court ruling in 2004 that prisoners in Guantanamo had the right to take their cases to US courts ended the anomalous status of the prison camp in Cuba. President Bush's attempt to create a legal limbo outside the American and international legal systems had failed. But he continued to try to deny legal rights to prisoners not just in Guantanamo but in Iraq and Bagram, too.
Mr Obama's closure of Guantanamo therefore smacks more of fulfilling a symbolic pledge than following it through. The Bush administration's legal case was transparently unconvincing. It argued that detainees were "enemy combatants" being held until hostilities ceased. If so, they should have been entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions on the rights of prisoners of war. Yet President Bush resisted even that, and now President Obama represents continuity with that policy.
Indeed, Elena Kagan, Mr Obama's nominee for Solicitor General, said during her confirmation hearing that someone suspected of helping to finance al-Qa'ida should be subject to battlefield law - indefinite detention without trial - even if captured in the Philippines, say, rather than a battle zone.
The Atlantic -- Richard Florida -- How the Crash Will Reshape America
I thought this is an interesting post to include, given the role attributed to Richard Florida in the development of concepts around the "creative class."
The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide—destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others. On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today. What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas? Will the suburbs be ineffably changed? Which cities and regions can come back strong? And which will never come back at all?
by Richard Florida
How the Crash Will Reshape America
This article has been corrected since it was published in the print magazine.
MY FATHER WAS a child of the Great Depression. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1921 to Italian immigrant parents, he experienced the economic crisis head-on. He took a job working in an eyeglass factory in the city’s Ironbound section in 1934, at age 13, combining his wages with those of his father, mother, and six siblings to make a single-family income. When I was growing up, he spoke often of his memories of breadlines, tent cities, and government-issued clothing. At Christmas, he would tell my brother and me how his parents, unable to afford new toys, had wrapped the same toy steam shovel, year after year, and placed it for him under the tree. In my extended family, my uncles occupied a pecking order based on who had grown up in the roughest economic circumstances. My Uncle Walter, who went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering and eventually became a senior executive at Colgate-Palmolive, came out on top—not because of his academic or career achievements, but because he grew up with the hardest lot.
MULTIMEDIA: "RESHAPING AMERICA"
An interactive map of America's new geography.
INTERVIEW: "THE GREAT RESET"
Urban theorist Richard Florida explains why recession is the mother of invention.
My father’s experiences were broadly shared throughout the country. Although times were perhaps worst in the declining rural areas of the Dust Bowl, every region suffered, and the residents of small towns and big cities alike breathed in the same uncertainty and distress. The Great Depression was a national crisis—and in many ways a nationalizing event. The entire country, it seemed, tuned in to President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
The current economic crisis is unlikely to result in the same kind of shared experience. To be sure, the economic contraction is causing pain just about everywhere. In October, less than a month after the financial markets began to melt down, Moody’s Economy.com* published an assessment of recent economic activity within 381 U.S. metropolitan areas. Three hundred and two were already in deep recession, and 64 more were at risk. Only 15 areas were still expanding. Notable among them were the oil- and natural-resource-rich regions of Texas and Oklahoma, buoyed by energy prices that have since fallen; and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, where government bailouts, the nationalization of financial companies, and fiscal expansion are creating work for lawyers, lobbyists, political scientists, and government contractors.
No place in the United States is likely to escape a long and deep recession. Nonetheless, as the crisis continues to spread outward from New York, through industrial centers like Detroit, and into the Sun Belt, it will undoubtedly settle much more heavily on some places than on others. Some cities and regions will eventually spring back stronger than before. Others may never come back at all. As the crisis deepens, it will permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape. I believe it marks the end of a chapter in American economic history, and indeed, the end of a whole way of life.
Common Dreams -- Worse Than My Darkest Nightmare
Worse Than My Darkest Nightmare
As I gain my freedom, I am determined that neither those who remain in detention, nor their abusers, are forgotten
by Binyam Mohamed
I hope you will understand that after everything I have been through, I am neither physically nor mentally capable of facing the media on the moment of my arrival back to Britain. Please forgive me if I make a simple statement through my lawyer. I hope to be able to do better in days to come, when I am on the road to recovery.
I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares. Before this ordeal, "torture" was an abstract word to me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim. It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways - all orchestrated by the United States government.
While I want to recover, and put it all as far in my past as I can, I also know I have an obligation to the people who still remain in those torture chambers. My own despair was greatest when I thought that everyone had abandoned me. I have a duty to make sure that nobody else is forgotten.
I am grateful that, in the end, I was not simply left to my fate. I am grateful to my lawyers and other staff at Reprieve, and to Lt Col Yvonne Bradley, who fought for my freedom. I am grateful to the members of the British Foreign Office who worked for my release. And I want to thank people around Britain who wrote to me in Guantánamo Bay to keep my spirits up, as well as to the members of the media who tried to make sure that the world knew what was going on. I know I would not be home in Britain today, if it were not for everyone's support. Indeed, I might not be alive at all.
I wish I could say that it is all over, but it is not. There are still 241 Muslim prisoners in Guantánamo. Many have long since been cleared even by the US military, yet cannot go anywhere as they face persecution. For example, Ahmed bel Bacha lived here in Britain, and desperately needs a home. Then there are thousands of other prisoners held by the US elsewhere around the world, with no charges, and without access to their families.
And I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years. For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence. I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realised, had allied themselves with my abusers.
I am not asking for vengeance; only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured. Thank you.
This is the statement issued by Binyam Mohamed on his return to the U
Rene -- Fox News "War Games" the Coming Civil War
Fox News "War Games" the Coming Civil War
by Glenn Greenwald
Bill Clinton's election in 1992 gave rise to the American "militia movement": hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the "liberals" and "leftists" running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors. Those theater groups -- the cultural precursor to George Bush's prancing 2003 performance dressed in a fighter pilot outfit on Mission Accomplished Day -- spawned the decade of the so-called "Angry White Male," the movement behind the 1994 takeover of the U.S. Congress by Newt Gingrich and his band of federal-government-cursing, play-acting-tough-guy, pseudo-revolutionaries.
What was most remarkable about this allegedly "anti-government" movement was that -- with some isolated and principled exceptions -- it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory. Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional -- limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending -- they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on.
They're the same people who embraced and justified full-scale, impenetrable federal government secrecy and comprehensive domestic spying databases conducted in the dark and against the law when perpetrated by a Republican President -- but have spent the last week flamboyantly pretending to be scandalized and outraged by the snooping which Bill Moyers did 45 years ago (literally) as part of a Democratic administration. They're the people who relentlessly opposed and impugned Clinton's military deployments and then turned around and insisted that only those who are anti-American would question or oppose Bush's decision to start wars.
Rene -- A Choice Between Peace and Peril
Palestine / Israel
A Choice Between Peace and Peril
by Chris Hedges
Bibi Netanyahu’s assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran.
Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. But reality rarely impedes on politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, along with Netanyahu, all talk as if Iran is on the brink of dropping the big one on the Jewish state.
Netanyahu on Friday named Iran as Israel’s main threat after he was called to form a new government following the Feb. 20 elections.
“Iran is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony at President Shimon Peres’ official residence. “The terrorist forces of Iran threaten us from the north,” the presumptive prime minister said in reference to Lebanon and Syria, where Israel says Tehran supplies arms to Hezbollah and Hamas. “For decades, Israel has not faced such formidable challenges.”
Netanyahu, whose arrogance is as outsized as his bellicosity, knows that for all his threats and chest thumping Israel is incapable of attacking Iranian targets alone. Israel cannot fly its attack aircraft over Iraqi air space into Iran without U.S. permission, something George W. Bush refused to grant, fearing massive retaliatory strikes by Iran on American bases in Iraq. Israel’s air force is not big enough to neutralize the multiple targets, from radar stations to missile batteries to Revolutionary Guard units to bunkers housing Iran’s Soviet- and Chinese-made fighter jets and bombers, and also hit suspected nuclear targets. The only route to a war with Tehran for the Israeli military is through Washington.
Netanyahu’s resolve to strike Iran means that we will soon hear a lot about the danger posed by Iran—full-page ads in American newspapers from Israel lobby groups have appeared in the past few days. Allowing this rhetoric to cloud reality, as we did during the buildup to the war with Iraq, would shut down the best chance for stability in the Middle East—a negotiated settlement with Iran. This may not finally stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, but a stable relationship with Iran would do more to protect Israel and our interests in the Middle East than massive airstrikes and a war that would bleed into Iraq and Lebanon and see Iranian missiles launched against Israeli cities.
“If you go into a problem with a mistaken assumption you come out with a bad policy,” said Sam Gardner, a retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College, and who opposes the Israeli campaign to strike Iran.
Iran’s nuclear program is currently monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran had amassed about 2,227 pounds of low-enriched, or reactor-grade, nuclear fuel by late January, according to the latest updates from the arms control watchdog for the United Nations. To produce the 55 pounds of highly enriched, or weapons-grade, uranium needed for an atomic warhead, Iran would need 2,205 to 3,748 pounds of low-enriched uranium. It apparently has this amount—which is why Netanyahu refers to Iran as “an existential threat” to the Israeli state. But Iran has made no move to enrich the uranium and until it does cannot be accused of having a nuclear weapons program. Iran also does not have enough high-speed centrifuges at its facility in Natanz to further refine the uranium, according to the United Nations.
Nettime -- HELSINKI UNIVERSITY Occupied
University students, researchers, professors and staff are currently
occupying the director's floor in the building of the university
administration of Helsinki University in Finland. This happened as an
offshoot of a demonstration against a new draconian "reform" soon to be
presented to the Finnish parliament. The new laws (more below) would change
the choice of the governing councils of the university, essentially
depriving the universities of autonomy, likely putting non-university board
members in key positions (business people and politicians) and importantly,
introducing the possibility of charging fees for non-EU students.. which in
Europe is used as a back-door precedent followed by demanding tuition fees
from everyone - the failed free-market model.
Many words of were heard in reference to other movements to Greece, France,
Italy, India and ... and then the news came in that students at New York
University (http://takebacknyu.com/) are practising direct democracy of the
Jesal -- Demands from NYU Building Takeover
For a timeline of the events please see:
NYU BUILDING TAKEOVER!!!
At approximately 10pm tonight (Feb. 18), students of Take Back NYU! took
over the Kimmel Marketplace. They have blockaded the doors and declared an
occupation! They presented their demands to the NYU administration. They
read as follows:
We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This
occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU!
coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.
In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible
university, we demand the following:
1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the
2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the
course of the occupation.
3. Public release of NYU's annual operating budget, including a full list of
university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a
semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to
non-university organizations for university construction and services,
financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college,
department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this
should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the
4. Disclosure of NYU's endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected
endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the
investment of the university's endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an
endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise
shareholder proxy voting power for the university's investments.
5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW
Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and
research assistants. That NYU publically affirm its commitment to respect
all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to
form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publically affirm that it
will recognize workers' unions through majority card verification.
Rene -- HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE BECOMES FIRST COLLEGE IN U.S. TO DIVEST FROM ISRAELI OCCUPATION
Palestine / Israel
HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE BECOMES FIRST COLLEGE IN U.S. TO DIVEST FROM ISRAELI OCCUPATION
Students for Justice in Palestine
February 13, 2009 12:16 Hampshire College
Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college
or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds
of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This
landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign
by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The
group pressured Hampshire College's Board of Trustees to divest
from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied
Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP's
"institutional statement" calling for the divestment.
Hampshire College Campus (Photo: www.hampshire.edu)
The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb
2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes
that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal
occupation and war crimes of Israel. Meeting minutes from a committee
of Hampshire's Board of Trustees confirm that "President Hexter
acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue
to the attention of the committee." This groundbreaking decision
follows in Hampshire's history of being the first college in the
country to divest from apartheid South Africa thirty-two years ago,
a decision based on similar human rights concerns. This divestment
was also a direct result of student pressure.
The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn,
Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini,
Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress
Ronnie Kasrils, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Tariq Ali,
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd,
among others. The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli
military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and
Gaza are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT
Corporation, Motorola, and Terex (see attached info sheet for more
information on these corporations.) Furthermore, our policy prevents
the reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.
Nettime -- Don't forget NYC: New School Students Announce Ultimatum and Action
Don't forget NYC: New School Students Announce Ultimatum and Action
"Although the meeting was intended as a forum for faculty members, a
student representative was allowed to briefly address the gathering. She
read from a prepared statement announcing that student activists were
calling for the resignation of Mr. Kerrey and the New School’s vice
president, James Murtha, by April 1. “If, on that day, the current
leadership remains in place, we will shut down the functions of the
university,” she said. “We will bring it to a halt. We will make it
stop.” The assembled faculty members warmly applauded her comments."
From Where We Stand: A Statement from the New School in Exile
The New School is now at a critical point. Our ability to do the very
thing we came here to do—receive a quality education—is at risk. The
obstacles we face as students are diverse and different based on our
academic programs and departments, but we are united by the impacts of
decisions made by the university. To resolve these diverse problems we
must address the root causes, namely the guiding priorities and academic
policies of this institution. Unfortunately, the administration has
shown time and again that they are more interested in maintaining power
than in open dialogue or serious structural change. The senior
administration is no longer accountable to the students or faculty they
are ostensibly here to serve. Because of this, we call for the immediate
resignation of Bob Kerrey and James Murtha no later than April 1, 2009.
The struggle for an emancipatory education, and against the influences
of subjugation and homogenizing tendencies in society writ large, is not
new. Students all around the world are struggling with these same
issues. We also recognize that this is part of a much larger struggle,
one that has at its root the very understanding of what it is to be
free. And as students we have an obligation, because of our privilege,
to push the envelope and construct a new vision of how the world could
be. Formerly our school was driven by calls for open deliberation,
anti-authoritarianism and critical and direct engagement with social
problems. Now—under the present leadership—decision-making is secretive
and closed. Power is consolidated, abused and wielded as a weapon
against academic inquiry and critical skepticism. Our “brand” is now
more important than our ethics, and students have been reduced to
economic units--like cogs in a corporate machine. We want an education
that enriches our lives while challenging us to grow as both an academic
community and as individuals. We want a university we can be proud of,
where new theories and ways of being in the world are the very
foundation of what we do. A school with a mission of engaged scholarship
focused on solving real problems. We desire radical praxis--thought and
action--not simply navel-gazing or status-quo reproduction. In short, we
want our institution to reclaim the critical and engaged tradition on
which it was founded.
Rene -- OBAMA SIGNALS HE DOESN'T BACK LEAHY'S PLAN TO PROBE BUSH ABUSES
OBAMA SIGNALS HE DOESN'T BACK LEAHY'S PLAN TO PROBE BUSH ABUSES
By Jason Leopold
Online Journal Feb 10, 2009, 00:42
Senator Patrick Leahy Monday proposed the creation of a "truth and
reconciliation commission" to investigate Bush administration abuses
such as its use of torture and domestic surveillance.
Leahy, the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, made
the announcement during a speech at Georgetown University's Law Center.
His announcement will likely be followed in the days ahead with a
proposed bill to create an investigative panel "to get to the bottom
of what happened -- and why -- so we make sure it never happens again."
"One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth
commission," Leahy said. "We could develop and authorize a person or
group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without
axes to grind.
Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would
be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences,
not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble
the facts. If needed, such a process could involve subpoena powers,
and even the authority to obtain immunity from prosecutions in order
to get to the whole truth.
Tarnac 9 -- Letter from Benjamin
Tarnac 9 -- Letter from Benjamin
After 3 weeks of tranquility, a time of reflection and intensive reading about the things related to this “affair”, I have begun to write this letter.
I was released from Fresnes prison around 3 weeks ago, a little disorientated. I didn’t expect to be released as quickly in face of what seemed to be a well-organised trap. To regain the open-air and to see the world’s horizon was, of course, a big relief ; you quickly become used to the confines of walls and bars, and they seem to last for centuries instead of two or three weeks. I’m grateful to all the people who fought to free us. Despite the arbitrariness of the legal system, I’m sure that the pressure of support committees, parents, friends, and so on had a weighty impact. I would like to thank you together with my fellow accused, but as you may know, we are forbidden to contact each other on pain of returning to prison.
However, I am certain that this release was due to the advantage of being born white, having had the opportunity of education, having parents and friends from privileged environments. Their mobilization has been more effective than it would have been if I were born somewhere else and came from another background.
I am preoccupied by the fact that two of my friends are still in jail for absurd reasons. Also by the fact that hundreds of people I met during my short detention did not have my privileges. In recent years, French prisons have swallowed up a significant percentage of young people. This section of society, viewed as uneasily assimilated, are constantly harassed, forever condemned, and yet still refuse to enter the ranks of a stifling society. One fact is quite clear when you walk into a prison yard, the vast majority of the prison population come from “problem neighborhoods” and are to a large number of them have been permanently institutionalized. Y0u also notice the incredible number of people imprisoned on a pre-trial basis, often for long periods, in so-called “exceptional” cases. Six, nine months, one, two or three years without any trial and often without any significant evidence. No doubt, it’s more difficult to find people willing to testify to your good behavior and to offer credible guarantees that you will appear for trial when you come from Villiers-le-Bel, Aubervilliers or Bagneux [translator’s note: working-class areas in Paris’ suburbs with many migrants], when your parents are viewd as “foreigners” and don’t master the language of magistrates and the medias, or when they don’t have a stable and well-recognized profession.
But there is no call for despair, solidarity really exists inside. The criminal laws and politics of the current governement is building a time bomb. The more they pack people in jail, the more people’s paths will come together building a bridge between environments which are consciously separated outside.
The proximity of politics, police and media reactions (this triangle works so well, why not fuse it officially?) between Tarnac’s and theaffair of Villiers-le-Bel is justified for several reasons [tn: in Villiers-le-Bel, there were riots after the death of two young people hit by a police car. Riots were followed by a big mediatised police operation]. November 2005 riots, demos against the CPE [tn: "Contract Première Embauche" a new more flexible employment law which was revoked in 2006 due to street protests], the presidential election, Villiers-le-Bel, university reform : two disjointed parts of the youth were together feeding the governement’s paranoia.
Rene -- Everyday Palestine
Palestine / Israel
How long will these daily assaults on human existence be tolerated? The practice of arbitrary force and brutality is sadly the result of people "just doing their job." Soldiers following orders. Architects getting paid. Politicians playing politics. But who is to be held responsible, at the end? It seems, historically, this questions has had to be revisited, time and again. Why this seemingly "small" crime would initiate these ruminations on my part? You may know better. -rg
ISRAEL KIDNAPS 18-YEAR-OLD BOY HAVING HEARING AND SPEECH IMPAIRMENT
05/02/2009 - 01:19 PM
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The family of 18-year-old Palestinian young man
called Yousef See'ifan, having hearing and speech problems, said that
the Israeli occupation authority has been holding their son for more
than 10 days without revealing his fate.
The family added that their son suffers from hearing and language
impairment by 70 percent and was kidnapped as he was returning to
his home in the Shuyukh town coming from the nearby Ras Al-Arud area.
The family stated that the boy was not aware of the existence of
clashes between IOF troops and citizens because he could not hear
the voices of young men who were warning him of entering the area,
adding that Israeli soldiers physically assaulted him despite the
fact that some citizens told them about his medical condition.
The family noted that the IOA prevented the Red Cross lawyer from
visiting the boy and told him that See'ifan was hospitalized after
he had health problems.
The father of the kidnapped boy has been in Israeli jails for four
years and is the only breadwinner of a family of eight children.
In a new development, Palestinian sources reported that Israeli
settlers bulldozed the Palestinian land in the area of Mount Naqqar
in the Yasuf town, east of Salfit.
Eyewitness said that the settlers placed mobile caravans on the hill
of Mount Naqqar, adding that Israel continues to expand the industrial
area, west of Salfit, and build new factories.
Rene -- UK JUDGES ACCUSE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OF SUPPRESSING TORTURE CLAIM
UK JUDGES ACCUSE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OF SUPPRESSING TORTURE CLAIM
February 4, 2009
Two senior British judges today expressed their anger and surprise
that President Barack Obama's government has put pressure on the UK
to suppress evidence of torture in US custody.
Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said they had been
told that America had threatened to stop co-operating with Britain
on intelligence matters, putting British lives at risk, if evidence
was published suggesting that Binyam Mohammed, a British resident
held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, had been tortured into
The judges said that lawyers for the Foreign Office had assured them
that the threat still held good, even since Mr Obama came to power
and reversed many of the policies of his predecessor on the torture
and detention of terror suspects.
In a withering ruling that condemned America for a lack of principles,
the two judges said: "We did not consider that a democracy governed
by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to
suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own
officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane,
or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.
"We had no reason ... to anticipate there would=2 0be made a threat
of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that
it would reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship, when all
the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing
a limited but important summary of the reports."
The ruling concerns the case of Mr Mohammed, an Ethiopian national
who came to Britain as a teenage refugee, who was arrested and taken
into US custody in Pakistan in 2002, and has been held at Guantanamo
Bay since September 2004 on suspicion of terrorism.
Mr Mohammed, 31, claims he was tortured and mistreated into falsely
confessing to being involved in an alleged dirty bomb plot - claims
that the US denies.
The charges against him have however been withdrawn and no new charges
were issued against him before Mr Obama issued an order on January 22
freezing all proceedings against Guantanamo detainees pending a review.
Mr Mohammed wants reports written by US intelligence officials,
which it is understood may back his claims of torture, to be published.