Monday, April 27, 2015

Mumia Abu Jamail's Painful Execution by Medical Neglect

"F*%king Horrible"  - The Public Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

by Linn Washington Jr.  - This Can't Be Happening


In August 1936 nearly 20,000 people filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. This hanging, conducted by two executioners retained by that town, would be the last official ‘public execution’ in America.

Although states across this country have banned executions where the public can freely attend, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution – more precisely: the spectacle of a killing occurring in plain sight administered by governmental authorities.

This current spectacle of governmental killing involves a high-profile inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is quite possibly experiencing a ‘slow execution’ through calculated medical mistreatment.

Author/activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most widely known prison inmate in America, is gravely ill, hardly able to walk or talk because of severe complications related largely to the diabetes which medical personnel inside a Pennsylvania prison failed to diagnose for months. Prison medical personnel either did not detect the diabetes earlier this year while giving Abu-Jamal numerous blood tests that easily identify the elevated blood sugar levels of diabetes or did not inform Abu-Jamal of the blood test results.

That failure to find his raging diabetes led to Abu-Jamal’s emergency hospitalization at the end of March, after he collapsed, unconscious and in sugar shock. When authorities finally transported Abu-Jamal from the SCI Mahanoy prison to the hospital, he was on the verge of a potentially fatal diabetic coma. Weeks before that emergency hospitalization, Abu-Jamal’s blood pressure spiked to a level that required hospitalization that he did not receive, stated persons working with Abu-Jamal.

Despite Abu-Jamal’s obvious painful and deteriorating medical condition, Pennsylvania prison authorities have barred Abu-Jamal from receiving access to or consultation from medical experts assembled by his supporters.

Those experts could provide the quality of care unavailable at either the demonstrably incompetent infirmary inside SCI Mahanoy or that non-prison hospital authorities utilized. (Abu-Jamal has had adverse reactions to medications he has received from the Mahanoy prison infirmary, his supporters said.)

The refusal of Pennsylvania prison authorities to properly treat Abu-Jamal or permit him access to non-prison medical personnel who could effectively treat his conditions fuel understandable fears among Abu-Jamal’s far-flung supporters that anti-Abu-Jamal forces are trying to effectuate the death sentence that once hung over Abu-Jamal.

The ‘fear’ that foul play could be apart of Abu-Jamal’s poor medical care arises from the fact that police, politicians and others had vigorously campaigned for Abu-Jamal’s execution for 28-years. Abu-Jamal received a death sentence following his controversial 1982 conviction for killing a Philadelphia policeman. That campaign for execution included many forms of harassment. The extraordinary punishments from that campaign provide proof for many that Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner.

“They are outright killing him in front of us,” Pam Africa said. Africa, a close associate of Abu-Jamal and head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, visits him regularly.
(Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was converted to life in prison after federal courts repeatedly upheld the dismissal of the death sentence citing constitutional violations.)

“He is in pain. His skin is so bad from that rash that he looks like a burn victim,” Africa said.

“The is F*%king horrible …”

When prison authorities returned Abu-Jamal to SCI Mahanoy from that hospital, following a few days care in the ICU, he was still seriously ill.

Yet, prison authorities ordered him returned to his prison cell after a brief stay in the Mahanoy infirmary following his return from the ICU. Authorities returned him to his cell despite his visibly weakened condition, dramatic 70-lb.weight loss, labored breathing, swelling of his body parts and open sores on his skin from a festering rash.

Prison authorities certainly knew that Abu-Jamal’s weakened condition would make it difficult for him to walk back to the infirmary for help since the distance from his cell to the infirmary is the distance of about three-city-blocks. Certainly authorities knew the difficulties facing Abu-Jamal even in obtaining meals from the dining hall, a nearly two-block distance from his cell.

Prison Radio, the San Francisco-based media entity that has broadcast Abu-Jamal’s prison commentaries for decades, recently issued an update on his medical condition utilizing information provided by Abu-Jamal’s wife, Wadiya following her latest visit.

According to that report Abu-Jamal “is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat – he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.”

Prison Radio, a few days before that updated report on Abu-Jamal’s condition, had released information that Pennsylvania prison authorities were refusing proposals to address Abu-Jamal’s worsening medical condition.

Prison Radio revealed that prison authorities had notified Bret Grote, a lawyer for Abu-Jamal, that they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by his own doctor, and would not allow his doctor to speak with prison medical staff to assist or direct Abu-Jamal’s care. Prison officials are also refusing to allow regular phone calls between Abu-Jamal and his doctor and they said they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by an endocrinologist (a diabetes specialist).

Proposals for Abu-Jamal receiving medical care from personnel outside the prison system are not out of line. Authorities allowed millionaire John DuPont to have his medical issues treated by his own private physician at his expense while he served a life sentence for murder before dying in a Pennsylvania prison. Authorities denying Abu-Jamal allowances that authorities have extended to other inmates is a part of the pattern of punishments that target Abu-Jamal.

Charges that prison authorities are deliberating mistreating Abu-Jamal are routinely dismissed as hyperbole by authorities despite abundant examples of mistreatment directed at Abu-Jamal and other inmates.

For example, in 2010 an inmate serving a life sentence like Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania prison authorities challenging their refusal to provide him with medical treatment for acute kidney stones despite a previous court settlement where authorities had agreed to provide that inmate with his needed treatment.

That inmate, Walter Chruby, secured an injunction from a trial court judge ordering immediate treatment. Chruby’s lawsuit, according to a court ruling on that injunction, stated that immediately after Chruby won that first court order for treatment, prison authorities “began withholding or intentionally delaying adequate medical care…”

The medical mistreatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal comes at a time when callous law enforcement, particularly brutality and fatal shootings by police, is in the national spotlight. Abu-Jamal, in his books and commentaries produced in prison, has been a strident critic of inequities in the criminal justice system. The medical mistreatment of Abu-Jamal is rife with callousness and inhumanity.

Epicenter: Langtang, Nepal

From the Epicenter - Langtang, Nepal

by Greg Palast

Monday, April 27, 2015

Langtang, Nepal. I’ve kept her photo near me for 25 years.



NYT - "Unlikely...the 600 residents of Langtang survived."


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Change WE Don't Believe In: Alternate, More Plausible Futures

Change They Don't Believe In

by James Howard Kunstler - Clusterfuck Nation

The unfortunate consequence of not allowing the process of “creative destruction” to occur in banking and Big Business is that the historic forces behind it will seek expression elsewhere in the realm of politics and governance. The desperate antics of central banks to cover up financial failure can’t help but provoke political upheaval, including war.

It’s a worldwide phenomenon and one result will be the crackup of economic relations — thought by many to be permanent — that we call “globalism.” The USA has suffered mightily from globalism, by which a bonanza of cheap “consumer” products made by Asian factory slaves has masked the degeneration of local economic vitality, family life, behavioral norms, and social cohesion. That crackup is already underway in the currency wars aptly named by Jim Rickards, and you can bet that soon enough it will lead to the death of the 12,000-mile supply lines from China to WalMart — eventually to the death of WalMart itself (and everything like it). Another result will be the interruption of oil export supply lines.

The USA as currently engineered (no local economies, universal suburban sprawl, big box commerce, despotic agribiz) won’t survive these disruptions and one might also wonder whether our political institutions will survive. The crop of 2016 White House aspirants shows no comprehension for the play of these forces and the field is ripe for epic disruption. The prospect of another Clinton – Bush election contest is a perfect setup for the collapse of the two parties sponsoring them, ushering in a period of wild political turmoil. Just because you don’t see it this very moment, doesn’t mean it isn’t lurking on the margins.

This same moment (in history) the American thinking classes are lost in raptures of techno-wishfulness. They can imagine the glory of watching Fast and Furious 7 on a phone in a self-driving electric car, but they can’t imagine rebuilt local economies where citizens get to play both an economic and social role in their communities. They can trumpet the bionic engineering of artificial hamburger meat, but not careful, small-scale farming in which many hands can find work and meaning.

The true genius of Hillary is that she manages to epitomize every failure of our current political life: the obsessive micro-manipulation of image, the obscene moneygrubbing, the tired cronyism, the entitlement masquerading as sexual equality. Mostly, though, she has no idea where history is taking us, in case you’re wondering at the stupefying platitudes offered up as representative of her thinking. I’m not advocating for this gentleman, but it will at least be interesting to see Martin O’Malley jump into the race and call bullshit on her, which he will do, literally, because he has nothing to lose by doing it. The eunuchs on The New York Times Op Ed page certainly won’t do it.

What happens on the world financial scene will determine the flow of events up into the 2016 election. The built-up tensions and fragilities are begging for release. The defining instant might be Greece’s unwillingness to fork over another debt payment, or the death of the shale oil “miracle,” or some act by Saudi Arabia’s enemies, or some chain of exploding booby-traps in the shadow banking netherworld. The great surprise for America especially will be the recognition that our current living arrangements have no future.

That’s the only thing that will prompt a new consensus to form around some alternate, more plausible future, and the emergence of a generation willing to fight for it, even if it requires some real creative destruction of the things that are killing us anyway.

Pay for View Prison Entrepreneurship: America's Burgeoning For-Profit Video Visitation Industry

The For-Profit Video Visitation Industry Quietly Sweeps the Nation's Prisons and Jails

by TRNN

TRNN producer Eddie Conway speaks with Prison Policy associate Bernadette Rabuy, co-author of Screening Out Family Time: The For-Profit Video Visitation Industry in Prisons and Jails. Bernadette led the research in the video visitation industry, and co-authored the first comprehensive national survey of the industry: Screening Out Family Time: The For-Profit Video Visitation Industry in Prisons and Jails.



Bernadette Rabuy joined the Prison Policy Initiative as a policy and communications associate in August 2014. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she has previously worked with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Voice of the Ex-Offender, and Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

Laboratory Argentina: How Israel Promotes Its Foreign Policy Objectives Abroad


Argentina: A Case Study of Israel’s Zionist-Wall Street Destabilization Campaign

by James Petras


A recent article by Jorge Elbaum, the former executive director of DAIA (Delegation for Argentine Jewish Associations), the principle Argentine Jewish umbrella groups, published in the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12, provides a detailed account of the damaging links between the State of Israel, US Wall Street speculators and local Argentine Zionists in government and out.
The late chief government prosecutor, Alberto Nisman

Elbaum describes how their efforts have been specifically directed toward destabilizing the incumbent center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez, while securing exorbitant profits for a Zionist Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer of Elliott Management as well as undermining a joint Iranian-Argentine investigation of the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.

Elbaum’s article was written in response to the death of Alberto Nisman, a Zionist zealot and chief government prosecutor in the terrorist bombing investigation for over 20 years.

The serious issues raised by the political use and gross manipulation of the horrors of the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Community Center shows how Tel Aviv (and its political assets in Argentina and the US) further Israeli power in the Middle East, in particular, by isolating and demonizing Iran. This is important at two critical levels, which this article seeks to highlight.

First of all, Israeli attempted to sidetrack the Argentine investigation, by involving some of its powerful Wall Street assets and influential pro-Israel lobbies (the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC among others). Their purpose was to fabricate ‘evidence’ in order to implicate Iran in the crime and to manipulate their influential assets in Argentina, especially in this case, chief prosecutor Nisman and many of the leaders of DAIA, to accuse the Argentine government of complicity in an ‘Iranian cover-up’.

The second issue, raised by Israel’s intervention in Argentina’s investigation into the bombing, has wider and deeper implications: How Israel promotes its foreign policy objectives in various countries by grooming and manipulating local influential Jewish officials and community organizations. This furthers Tel Aviv’s goal of regional hegemony and territorial aggrandizement. In other words, Israeli political reach extends far beyond the Middle East and goes ‘global’, operating without any consideration of the dangers it inflicts on Jews in the ‘target countries’. To this end, Israel has been creating a worldwide network of Jews, which calls into question their loyalty to the polity of their home countries where they have resided for generations.

The nefarious impact, which Israel’s intervention has on the sovereignty of its ‘target countries’, presents a danger to innocent and loyal Jewish citizens who are not acting as agents of Tel Aviv.

For these reasons it is important to critically analyze the specific characteristics of Israel’s dangerous meddling in Argentina.

The Crisis of the Argentine Justice System: Unsolved Terrorist Crimes and Israeli Intervention


After the anti-Sematic bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, the Argentine judicial and legal system seriously bungled the investigation, despite collaboration from the US FBI and Israel’s Mossad. Argentina’s then President Carlos Menem was an ardent neo-liberal, unconditional backer of US foreign policy and strong supporter of Israel. His regime was still heavily infested with high-ranking police, military and intelligence officials deeply implicated in the seven-year bloody military dictatorship (1976-83) during which 30,000 Argentine citizens were murdered. Among the victims of this ‘dirty war’ were hundreds of Argentine Jews, activists, intellectuals and militants who were tortured and murdered to the anti-Sematic taunts of their military and police assassins. During this same horrific ‘pogrom’ of Argentina’s committed Jewish activists, the state of Israel managed to sell tens of millions of dollars in arms to the junta, breaking a US-EU boycott. Notoriously, the conservative leaders of the DAIA and AMIA (Argentine-Israel Mutual Association) failed to defend the lives of Jewish activists and militants. After attending meetings with the junta, many conservative Jewish leaders would dismiss the concerns of the families of the disappeared and tortured Argentine Jews, saying: ‘They must have done something…’

The bungled investigation into the 1994 bombing included the arrest of right-wing police officials who were later released and the mysterious loss of vital forensic evidence. Accusations against various foreign regimes and organizations shifted according to the political needs of the US and Israel: First, the Lebanese group, Hezbollah, Israel’s main military adversary during its bloody occupation of southern Lebanon in 1990’s was touted as the responsible party. A few years later, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, prior to the Israeli-backed US invasion of Iraq; then the Palestinians were trotted out, followed by Syria’s Baathist intelligence forces. After the total destruction of Iraq by the US ‘coalition’ and the decline of influential Arab states in the Middle East, the Israelis have settled on Iran as the ‘prime suspect’, coinciding with Teheran’s rise of as a regional power – challenging Israeli and US hegemony.

With the 2001 collapse of Argentina’s version of a kleptocratic neo-liberal, pro-US bootlicking regime, and in the midst of a dire economic depression, there was a popular upheaval and the subsequent election of President Kirchner bringing a new center-left government to power.

The new government, defaulting on its murderous foreign debt, oversaw Argentina’s economic recovery and a vast increase in social spending which stabilized capitalism. Kirchner also promoted greater independence in foreign policy and sought to enhance Buenos Aires relations with Israel by re-opening the investigation into the bombing and retaining Alberto Nisman, as chief prosecutor.

Nisman, the Mossad and the US Embassy Connection


In his article, ‘Vultures, Nisman, DAIA: The Money Route’ (Pagina 12, 4/18/15), Jorge Elbaum, points out that chief prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, opened secret bank account in New York. As Elbaum told prominent figures in Argentina’s Jewish community, Nisman’s campaign to discredit the government’s joint investigatory commission with Iran and demonize the Argentine government was financed, at least in part, by New York’s vulture fund head, Paul Singer, who stood to make hundreds of millions in profit. According to documents, cited by Elbaum, US embassy personnel and leading US Zionist organizations, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, led by Mark Dubowitz, as well as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, fed Nisman fabricated ‘evidence’ and corrected numerous substantive and grammatical flaws in his report purporting to ‘demonstrate’ Argentine’s cover-up of the Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing. However, forensic and legal experts in Argentina have determined that Nisman’s claims lack any legal basis or credibility.

The entire ‘Operation Nisman’ appears to have been orchestrated by Israel with the goal of isolating Iran via fabricated evidence supposed to ‘prove’ its role in the 1994 bombing. The recruitment of Nisman, as a key Israeli operative, was central to Israel’s strategy of using the DAIA and other Argentine – Jewish organizations to attack the Argentine-Iran memo of understanding regarding the investigation of the bombing. Israel pushed US-Zionist organizations to intensify their intervention into Argentine politics via their networks with Argentine-Jewish organizations. The vulture-fund speculator, Paul Singer, who had bought defaulted Argentine debt for ‘pennies on the dollar’, was demanding full payment through sympathetic New York courts. He had funded a special speculators’ task force on Argentina joining forces with Israel, US Zionist organizations and Alberto Nisman in order to manipulate Argentina’s investigation and secure a bountiful return. Nisman thus became a ‘key tool’ to Israel’s regional military strategy toward Iran, to New York speculator Singer’s strategy to grab a billion dollar windfall and to the Argentine right wing’s campaign to destabilize the center-left government of Kirschner-Fernandez.

By acting mainly in the interest of Israel and US Zionists, Nisman sacrificed the Argentine-Jewish community’s desire for a serious, truthful investigation into the bombing leading to identification and conviction of the perpetrators. Moreover, Nisman compromised himself by being a tool for Israel’s foreign policy against the interest of the Argentine government, which he was sworn to serve, and endangered the status of the Argentine Jewish community among Argentines in general by raising questions about their loyalty to their home country.

Fortunately, Argentina has sophisticated , prominent Jewish leaders who see themselves as Argentine citizens first and foremost, including leaders like Foreign Secretary Hector Timmerman who proposed the joint investigation with Iran as well as the former DAIA Executive Director Jorge Elbaum who has played a major role in denouncing Israel’s intervention in Argentine politics. It is citizens, like Elbaum, who have exposed the Israeli government’s role in recruiting and manipulating local leading Argentine-Jews to serve Tel Aviv’s foreign policy interests.

This is in stark contrast to the United States where no major American-Jewish leader has dared to denounce the role of leading Zionist organizations as Israel’s conduit. Furthermore, unlike Argentina, where a sector of the liberal press (Pagina 12) has published critical accounts of Nisman’s fabrications and Israel’s destabilization campaign, newspapers in the US, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, have continued to present Nisman’s discredited report as a serious investigation by a courageous, ‘martyred’ prosecutor. The US media continues to portray the entire Argentine judicial system as corrupt and argue that Nisman’s death must have been a state-orchestrated crime. The US public has never been presented with the fact that the leading critics of Nisman’s report and his own behavior were prominent Argentine Jews and that Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timmerman, organized the Argentine-Iran commission.

Conclusion


That Israel was willing to derail any serious the investigation into the 1994 bombing, which killed and maimed scores of Argentine Jews, in order to further its campaign against Iran, demonstrates the extent to which the self-styled ‘Jewish State’ is willing to sacrifice the interests and security of world Jewry to further its narrow military agenda.

Equally egregious is the way in which Tel Aviv recruits overseas Jews to serve Israel’s interests against that of their own countries, turning them into a ‘fifth column’, operating inside and outside of their governments. That Israeli intelligence has been exposed and denounced in the case of Nisman, has not forestalled nor prevented Israel from continuing this long-standing, practice of dangerous meddling. This is especially evident in the ‘Israel-first behavior’ of leading Jewish American organizations and political leaders who have pledged their total allegiance to Netanyahu’s war agenda against Iran an bought the US Congress to scuttle the peace accord.

It merits repetition: Israel’s widespread practice of recruiting Jewish citizens and officials of other countries to serve as vehicles of Israeli policies has the potential to foment a new and possibly violent backlash, once the greater population has been made aware of such treasonous activities. In this regard, Israel does not represent a bastion of security for world Jewry, but a cynical, manipulative and deadly threat. Perhaps that is Israel’s ultimate strategy – create a backlash of generalized anger against overseas Jews and precipitate massive flight to Israel from countries like Argentina, while the few who remain can be better manipulated to serve Tel Aviv.

Epilogue


A few days ago, on April 23, a crowd of several hundred Argentine Jews met to repudiate the arrogant claims of the established leaders of the DAIA and the AMIA that they represent ‘all Argentine Jews”. This overflow crowd in the auditorium of the telephone workers union proposed to create a ‘collective and democratic space, based on links of solidarity over and above commercial connections.’ The Jewish community in the US would be wise to pay close attention to Argentina’s example.

Tracking the 10,000 Ton Texas Tankers

The "10,000 Ton Texas Tankers"

by Ingmar Lee

Hi all, here is a backgrounder for my proposed upcoming speaking tour of the BC Coast. I am currently seeking protocol permissions from all First Nations along the way, and am accepting donations, billeting and sponsorships for expenses and lost wages while I'm on tour. I expect to settle out the dates within the next month, and then I will appeal to friends and supporters to find venues and do postering and advertising.

There has already been an overwhelming interest in the subject and I am stoked to pass on what I have learned about this dreadful, current and widely interconnected issue. I am very confident that we can stop this nightmare traffic, and certainly, stopping these Texas tankers is the "low hanging fruit" of the larger tanker/pipeline fight!

Cheers, Ingmar



Here is video of the loaded ATB Nathan E Stewart/DBL 54 
passing Bella Bella, April 24, 2015
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KWNXZ_jYegc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Here is harrowing video of the Nathan E Stewart dead in the water and
adrift off Cape Fairweather Alaska in a huge storm Nathan E. Stewart - Gulf
of Alaska, December 2011 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SMoxgaItykA

My name is Ingmar Lee and I live on Denny Island near Bella Bella on the BC Central Coast.

My presentation will speak to the issue of the 10,000 ton capacity Texas-based petroleum tankers that currently travel secretively up and down the protected waters of the BC Inside Passage delivering petroleum products to Alaska, twice a month, about 24 trips each way, each year. My talk will be about 45 minutes with up to two hours for questions and will include photos, maps and charts, diagrams and video clips.

These vessels are called 'Articulated Tanker Barges' or ATB's, -where the tug is pinned into a large notch in the transom of its barge, from where it pushes, rather than tows it through the water. I first noticed them about 3 years ago, and as the Automatic Identification System (AIS) has become more user friendly, I have now been tracking them regularly over the past year as they make their way up and down this coast.

The ATB's are owned by the Kirby Corporation based in Texas USA, and one in particular, the tug 'Nathan E Stewart' and its 10,000 deadweight ton capacity tanker barges, DBL 54 and DBL 55 does a regular traffic carrying petroleum products from the Anacortez refinery near Bellingham Washington, and the Kinder Morgan Westridge terminal in Burnaby, all the way up the Inside Passage to Alaska. It delivers fuels to the comparatively large Alaskan coastal communities for their domestic consumption.

It should be noted that 10,000 tons is 1/4 of the estimated 40,000 ton spill volume released by the Exxon Valdez.

I have learned that these Texas ATB's operate with special waivers which exempt them from Canada Shipping Act regulations which govern the movements of all other tankers operating in BC waters. Captain Kevin Obermeyer, Chief Pilot and CEO of the Pacific Pilotage Authority has informed me that 26 special waivers have been issued to tanker barge companies operating in BC waters. These special waivers exempt ATB's like the Nathan E Stewart/DBL 54 & 55 from the requirement of two Canadian Pilots on the bridge, and they are exempt from the requirement of two escort tugs while maneuvering in Port Metro Vancouver. Most egregiously, they are exempt from the Canada Shipping Act prohibition on the movement of tankers on the Inside Passage north of Seymour Narrows.

Canadians believe that the Inside Passage along Canada's Pacific Coast is off limits to tanker traffic, and, in fact, a 'Voluntary tanker exclusion zone' which inculdes Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Straits and the  inside Passage is specifically written into the Canada Shipping Act. These tankers operate on this coast in blatant violation of the spirit of this exclusion zone and travel secretively, by loophole and offer neither jobs, nor monetary remuneration to the people of Canada. They present an unimaginable risk of catastrophe to the coast. Repeated polling has demonstrated that a vast majority of British Columbian's are opposed to tanker traffic here.

I am currently planning a "10,000 Ton Texas Tankers" speaking tour with stops in Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Hartley Bay, Klemtu, Bella Bella, Alert Bay, Cortes and Lasqueti Islands, Sechelt, Vancouver, Victoria, Salt Spring and Gabriola Islands, Nanaimo and Comox.

Sincerely, Ingmar Lee

Ingmar Lee
Box 60
Denny Island, BC
V0T 1B0
250 957-2920


For further information, please sign yourself up to my "10,000 Ton Tanker"
Facebook page.

Syriza Readies to Take Up the Cudgel Against Popular Anti-Austerity Revolt

EU, Syriza prepare to suppress popular opposition to austerity in Greece

by Kumaran Ira - WSWS

 20 April 2015 


This weekend’s meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington focused on the Greek debt crisis, amid fears in financial circles of a Greek default or exit from the euro, and of rising working class opposition in Greece.

The “Troika” of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and IMF are seeking to create the political conditions for Syriza to continue imposing austerity.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis 

After the meeting, ECB president Mario Draghi called for resuming talks with Syriza to avoid a Greek default. He said,

“The short-term danger of contagion is difficult to assess, but we have enough buffers in place. And even though they were designed for different circumstances, they are sufficient. But we are entering uncharted waters.”

His uncertain and pessimistic appraisal of the situation notwithstanding, Draghi praised Syriza and his informal talks with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in Washington. He said there had been progress in “formulating a well-functioning policy dialogue” in talks with Syriza.

Draghi was praising Syriza’s capitulation to the EU’s austerity agenda and its coordination with the EU to impose new attacks on the working class. As Syriza negotiates the next tranche of €7.2 billion in loans from Greece’s euro zone partners, the Troika is pressing Syriza to present detailed plans for labor market reforms and cuts to pensions.

Behind the scenes, collaboration is developing between Syriza and the EU to massively escalate attacks on the working class.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the euro group who has distinguished himself by his aggressive threats against Greece, said:

“Let’s not go into a game of chicken to see who can stick it out longer. We have a joint interest to reach an agreement quickly.”

"We have been worried about previous payments they were to make and yet they managed it, so I don’t know when it becomes really dangerous. But I think it is in our joint interest to stay away from that point,” he added.

As Greece teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, Syriza and ruling circles internationally are preparing for a brutal confrontation with the working class.

Already on Thursday some 4,000 mine workers employed by Canadian-owned Eldorado Gold mine in northern Greece staged a demonstration in Athens protesting Syriza’s decision to revoke the company’s licence. Workers fear a shutdown of the mine and the loss of their jobs. The march was the first major labor protest since Syriza came to power. The miners waved banners reading “Yes to mines, yes to growth” and chanted slogans, forcing police to shut down major roads.

“The honeymoon is over. We’re done with the period when Greek public opinion would agree with everything that the government does,” said Nikos Marantzidis, a professor at the University of Macedonia.

Syriza is now preparing to take the explosive step of cutting off pensions as well as wages for Greek public-sector workers. After repaying almost €2 billion in loans to the IMF in March and April, it needs to pay the IMF €950 million euros by May 12 and plans to tap the Greek public sector’s remaining cash reserves for a total of €2 billion.

This is reportedly not enough for Athens to meet both its debts to the IMF and its wage and pension bill. According to Reuters, “Without a political agreement with the euro zone next week, Athens is likely to have to choose between making wages and pension payments to its people or reimbursing the IMF.”

Whatever the short-term outcome of the financial crisis—whether it be a Greek default or exit from the euro (“Grexit”)—Syriza and its EU partners are preparing for savage repression against the workers. They are discussing the imposition of de facto military dictatorship in Greece.

Syriza has made clear that it wants to strengthen the police and that the false, pseudo-left rhetoric on which it was elected will not prevent it from mounting police crackdowns. Last week, after Public Order Minister Yiannis Panousis issued a call for law and order, Syriza ordered police to smash an occupation of university buildings in Athens by a handful of anarchist protesters.

Yesterday, Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau wrote a comment titled, “Greek default necessary but Grexit is not,” warning that he had “never seen European financial officials so much at a loss.” While advocating deeper social cuts, Münchau was deeply concerned about the implications of a Greek default or exit from the euro zone:

“Grexit would bring incalculable economic risk to the country itself, and would harm the EU’s geopolitical ambitions and its global reputation.”


He continued,

“My understanding is that some euro zone officials are at least contemplating the possibility of a Greek default but without Grexit [Greek exit from the euro]. The complexity is severe, and they may not have had the time to work it out. But it may be the only way to avert utter disaster.”

He warned that a decision not to pay pensions and public-sector wages will be “politically suicidal for the Syriza-led government.”

Whatever happened, Munchau wrote, Athens needed time to prepare military-style measures:

“Both Grexit and the option of a default inside the euro zone would stretch the resources of even the most organised government. It would require military-style preparation: exchange controls, temporary closure of land borders and airports, overnight bank recapitalisation, and logistical planning to convey money from A to B on D-Day. Is the Greek government really so smart it can just wait until the fateful moment arrives, and then manage this whole process in real time with no script?”

In fact, Syriza has been preparing for scenarios of Greek default or Grexit since Tsipras began touring international capitals and financial centres two years ago, as he was groomed to be an acceptable Greek prime minister to Washington and the EU.

Discussions of such a scenario appeared in the right-wing Greek daily Kathemerini, which said that if Athens decided to default or exit the euro, it would seek to do so over a weekend, when global stock markets were closed. It wrote that Greece would “deploy its military as soon as early morning Saturday and close its borders, preparing to stamp euros as drachma as an interim solution once a public announcement has been made.”

Outgoing Greek Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis said he doubted whether, under these conditions, “we will be able to continue functioning as a modern democracy.”

Asked about such events by Time magazine, Tsipras replied:

“We have a plan. There is a team of economists who lay out the plans, update and communicate them … I would not like to talk about them.” 

He added,

“We are fully aware of the consequences. We are fully aware of the consequences that it will have on the country and Europe in general.” 

That is, while the bourgeois media and political circles were aware of the plans, Syriza’s voters and workers in Greece and internationally were to be kept in the dark.

The comments now circulating in the financial press are a warning to the working class. Those who doubt that a pseudo-left party such as Syriza is capable of brutal repression against the working class are deluding themselves.

Bail Granted: Canadian Child Soldier Khadr One Step Closer to Justice

Canadian Judge Grants Bail to Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr

by Andy Worthington

 

Over two and a half years since Canadian citizen and former child prisoner Omar Khadr returned to Canada from Guantánamo, a judge in Alberta, Justice June Ross, has granted his application for bail that was argued in Edmonton last month.

“He has a 12½ year track record as a model prisoner, and a release plan supported by educators, mental health professionals, and his lawyers,” Ross wrote in her opinion.

Omar has an appeal ongoing in the US against his conviction, following a number of successful appeals by other prisoners convicted in Guantánamo’s deeply flawed military commissions process, and, as the BBC described it, Justice Ross “said the appeal was likely to succeed and keeping him in jail was not in the public interest.”

I cannot express sufficiently how heartening it is to hear that Omar’s bail application has been granted, after nearly 13 years in which he has been treated appallingly by both the US authorities and his own government.

Omar was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old, but was never treated as a juvenile prisoner should have been treated, which is to be rehabilitated rather than punished. Abused in US custody, and having had his hopes of justice dashed by the Canadian agents who visited him at Guantánamo, he finally agreed to a plea deal in October 2010, in a trial by military commission that should never have happened, as the only method by which he could guarantee his release.

In exchange for accepting that he threw a grenade that killed a US soldier, which appears to have been untrue, he received an eight-year sentence, with one year to be served in Guantánamo, and the rest to be served back home in Canada.

However, it took nearly two years for the Canadian government to get him back, and when they did they imprisoned him in a maximum-security prison, and resisted all attempts to downgrade his status so that he could apply for bail. That disgraceful situation only came to an end in February 2014, when he was moved to a medium-security facility, which made him eligible for bail.

At his bail hearing last month, his model behaviour throughout his long imprisonment, and the norms of Canadian law were set against the government’s claims that Canada’s agreement with the US regarding Omar took precedence.

As the Toronto Star described it:

“Neither side is suggesting Mr. Khadr is a threat to anyone and I would suggest that’s a very, very important factor,” Khadr’s lawyer Nathan Whitling told Alberta Justice June Ross …

But what Department of Justice lawyers are arguing in contesting Khadr’s bail application is that Ross doesn’t have the jurisdiction to grant Khadr bail without violating an international treaty and jeopardizing relations with the United States.

“It’s critically important that Canada meet its international obligations,” lawyer Bruce Hughson told the court.

Canada’s duty under the International Transfers of Offenders Act is to enforce Khadr’s US sentence in Canada. There is no provision for bail. But … Whitling argued that Ottawa’s obligation under the act is to enforce the sentence in accordance with Canada’s laws. And Canada’s law respects the right to bail during an appeal, and the fundamental principle of habeas corpus, which gives prisoners the right to challenge the legality of their detention.

Khadr should be treated “no differently than any other prisoner in Canada,” Whitling said. If Ottawa is denying Khadr’s habeas rights then, Whitling argued, “it’s very much like we’re back in Guantánamo.”

On Friday, Justice Ross agreed with Omar’s lawyers, concluding that the “right to seek bail pending appeal is a principle of fundamental justice,” and that Omar’s right to seek bail was guaranteed under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She refused to accept the government’s argument that, as the Toronto Star put it, “granting Khadr bail would jeopardize Canada’s diplomatic relationship with the United States.”

As the Toronto Star also explained, looking at what the judge’s ruling means, Omar’s other longtime Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, along with his wife Patricia, “has offered to have Khadr live with them and provide whatever community supervision he may require.”

In addition, “A large community group in Edmonton — from imams and medical professionals, to professors at a Christian university where Khadr has been offered admission — has rallied around the 28-year-old.”

Dennis Edney and Nathan Whitling argued the bail application, and both men “said they were delighted by the news,” as the Star described it. Whitling said,

“Omar is fortunate to be back in Canada where we have real courts and real laws,” and Edney added, “It has been a long time coming.”

Nevertheless, the Canadian government has said it intends to appeal the ruling, and, as the Star explained, the government “could argue that Khadr must remain in custody until that appeal is heard.” If that doesn’t happen, then a hearing scheduled for May 5 will set the conditions of Omar’s bail.

The Canadian government should drop its intention to appeal, and should accept that its demonization of Omar must now come to an end, but if that doesn’t happen it is to be hoped that the appeals court will recognize that it time for Omar to be freed to resume his life, and not to continue being used as a pawn in a racist game by the Canadian government.

Omar has spent almost half his life in prison for something he almost certainly didn’t do, and for which he should not, in any case, have been punished. It is time for this festering injustice to be brought to an end.


Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield.

He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Freddie Gray, Slavery, and Modern American Policing

Freddie Gray and the Legacy of Slavery in Baltimore Policing

by TRNN

With the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, some people are suggesting the murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, it seems rather clear that the police, not only in Baltimore but with many examples of similar occurrences across the country, that police in many parts of the country feel they can use violence against people of color, arrest people of color, sometimes for just running away, as what took place with Freddie Gray, use violence against people with impunity. They believe they can do so because so far, they can.



Historian Gerald Horne says the police culture that allows violence with impunity grew out of the slave patrols, which like today, used force to defend the economic order. 
Dr. Gerald Horne joins us today from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History in African-American Studies at the University of Houston. Amongst his many books is The Counter-Revolution of 1776.Dr. Gerald Horne holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of relations involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. He has also written extensively about the film industry. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mumia Condition "Grave" - Urgent Call for Demonstrations of Support

Mumia's Condition Grave: Take Action

by Noelle Hanrahan - Prison Radio

April 24th, 2015

Mumia Abu-Jamal was seen today by his wife and his condition has worsened. He, is gravely ill. We are asking everyone to call the prison. Right now. It may be late, but call whenever you get this.

Mumia needs 24 hour care and supervision. He can not be in this condition in general population. In this state he may not be able ask for help, he may lose consciousness. He is too weak. (He was released from the infirmary two days ago).

His condition: He is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs, and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores.

He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat- he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.

Please call these numbers, and any other numbers you have for the Prison and the Governor.


  • Demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal see a doctor ASAP. Right Now!

  • Demand that the prison officials call his wife Wadiya Jamal and his lawyer Bret Grote immediately.
  • Demand that he be seen immediately, and the not be left to go into a diabetic coma.


John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy:
570-773-2158 x8102 | 570-783-2008 Fax | 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932

Tom Wolf, PA Gvrnr:
717-787-2500 | governor@PA.gov  | 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120

John Wetzel, PA DOC:
717-728-4109 | 717-728-4178 Fax | ra-contactdoc@poc.gov | 1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050

Susan McNaughton, DOC Press secretary
717-728-4025. PA Doc smcnaughton@pa.gov



We need your help right now. Please forward this far and wide.


We need more phone numbers to call inside SCI Mahanoy. If you have one send them to us info@prisonradio.org.

Every call matters. Every action matters. We need to be in the streets. Call your friends, your neighbors. Take action.

freemumia.com

prisonradio.org

bringmumiahome.com


Noelle Hanrahan
Prison Radio

Friday, April 24, 2015

Peerage Protects Punishment in British Lord's Paedophilia Conviction

Crime and Punishment - Holocaust vs. Paedophilia

by Gilad Atzmon

Allison Pearson wrote in The Telegraph two days ago, “As Oskar Groening, the so-called Accountant of Auschwitz, goes on trial at the age of 93 for his complicity in war crimes, the 86-year-old Labour peer Greville Janner is excused prosecution for 22 alleged sexual offences against nine boys in his Leicestershire constituency, from the 1960s to the 1980s, because he is suffering from ‘severe dementia’.”

Pearson is spot on. While Groening is merely a Goy and a German, Lord Janner is a Jew and not just an ordinary Jew, but a quite prominent one. From 1978 to 1984 Lord Janner was the chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, an institution that claims to “represent British Jews.”

Lord Janner is also dominant in the field of holocaust education. He is clearly concerned with Jewish suffering but apparently dismissive of the shoah he is accused of inflicting on minor boys at the same time he represented British Jews.


 Apparently there has been long and ongoing massive whitewash operation for Lord Janner, (R)
allowing him to conceal his alleged egregious sex crimes. The BBC revealed recently that as
 early as “1989 a detective sergeant was told not to arrest Mr Janner or search his home.”


Unlike German elder Oskar Groening who stands trial for being an ‘instrument in a mass murder,’ whatever that means; Lord Greville Janner is not going to be arrested or charged. Lord Janner is free and he has not wasted his freedom. Apparently the elder Lord who suffers ‘severe dementia,’ has been active in transferring and concealing his wealth, presumably in case a few of his alleged victims decide they deserve compensation for the shoah he inflicted on them.

The Daily Mail reports that:

“Lord Janner gave his children deeds to his £2m home at height of abuse… the move could slash potential payouts…The transfer happened after police raided his office in the House of Lords”

This British farce knows no end. Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, decided this week not to prosecute Lord Janner. Ms Saunders told the BBC that Lord Janner's dementia was so severe that he could "play no part in a trial." Bizarre: previously, Ms Saunders said that there was enough evidence to prosecute the 86-year-old peer for 22 sex offences but that he was too sick to stand trial and that she had determined that there was "no ongoing risk to the public." 

Alison Saunders is correct. Lord Janner is probably too old to rape young boys. Perhaps he can’t ‘get it up’ while chasing minors at his stage in life. But shouldn’t the same rule apply to Oskar Groening? It is likely that the 93 year old German is also too old to serve as an ‘instrument,’ in a new Jewish holocaust.

Getting Progressively Worse: Defending Hillary

Progressives Line Up to Defend Clinton Corruption

by Chris Floyd - CounterPunch


It’s amusing to see how our staunch progressives — who believe so deeply in a level playing field and fair play, who railed so vociferously against crony capitalism back in Bush-Time — are now twisting themselves in knots to dismiss the stories about that long-festering font of corruption, the Clinton Foundation.

Suddenly, what was once evil and corrosive — peddling elite insider influence for private profit — is just old hat, no big deal, business as usual.


Indeed, Digby, the very avatar of “anguished support” (Tarzie’s deeply apt description of our progressives’ blind self-tethering to a party whose leaders — like the Clintons, like Obama — are so servile to Big Money and war profiteering that they make Dick Nixon look like Diogenes), points us to an “excellent piece” by the ever-overexcited Charles Pierce, esquire (sorry, I mean Charles Pierce of Esquire), which sounds this very theme.

Pierce, wearing his prodigious classical learning lightly, informs us that “every politician since Cato” has engaged in the multimillion-dollar crony fluffing and policy twisting that the Clintons have been practicing for years. This kind of thing — say, taking more than $100 million in “donations” from an uranium magnate who then reaps gargantuan profits when the Clinton-headed State Department greenlights the sale that makes said magnate richer and gives Russia (led by a man that Hillary ignorantly likens to Hitler) control of one-fifth of America’s uranium production capacity — is just “business as usual,” says Pierce. “Every politician” does this, every single one of them — and has done since the high and palmy days of Rome. You may agree or disagree with Professor Pierce — but no one can deny that this is a deeply informed, richly nuanced piece of analysis.

Pierce, renowned in progressive circles for his sharp-edged acumen, here plays the naif — Goober Pyle Goes to Washington. He scratches his head like a simple, honest feller befuddled by the silver-tongued talk of fancy-pants nabobs, and says that, as far he can tell, the detailed stories in the New York Times and Washington Post are just peddling a nebulous conspiracy theory, something about how President Hillary would be beholden to foreign donors or that the couple were pocketing Foundation cash or something. This is not, of course, the import of the stories, which lies in their fresh confirmation and amplification of the Clintons’ particularly successful example of elite influence-peddling. But a simple shrug of the shoulders blows this straw man away, and Pierce is off to the races in his time machine, reliving the false accusations that assailed the Clintons back in Starr-Time.

And of course, many of the allegations assiduously peddled by partisan operators and the respectable press in those days were false, or petty, or pointless. And yes, the Clintons beat the rap (except for Bill’s law license), and ended up with Bill as the most popular politician in America (a rank he still holds, incidentally) and Hillary in the US Senate.

But all of this was a sideshow. The learned Theban of Esquire somehow omits some salient facts from his magical history tour. For even as right-wing agents were needling Clinton about failed land deals and Oval Office canoodling, Clinton was overseeing the deaths of up to half a million innocent children (and many more innocent adults) through the draconian sanctions he imposed on Iraq. This, even though Clinton and US intelligence knew in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction. As I noted back in 2005, confirmation of this fact came from “from none other than the man in charge of the Iraqi WMD program, Saddam’s defecting son-in-law, Hussein Kamel. Kamel’s wealth of information on the destruction of Iraq’s WMD ‘was so extensive it was almost embarassing,’ said UN interrogators.”

This was not secret, by the way; it was reported in Time Magazine and other venues. And it was later confirmed independently by UN inspectors in 1998, who had verified the destruction of 95 percent of Iraq’s WMD arsenal before they were stopped from finishing the job by Bill Clinton’s four-day bombing assault on the country. Clinton justified the attack — which killed dozens, perhaps hundreds of civilians — by pointing to Iraqi “interference” in the almost completed inspections. The Iraqis were being quarrelsome, because they believed America had planted spies among the supposedly neutral inspectors. Clinton sternly denied such lies, and ordered the attack. (Conveniently, it occurred during his impeachment hearings.) However, just one year later, guess what: the UN admitted that, er, America had planted spies among the supposed neutral inspectors: “UNSCOM had directly facilitated the creation of an intelligence collection system for the United States in violation of its mandate.”

Oh well. Bombing raids under false pretenses and the senseless death of half a million children due to sanctions based on “causes” known to be false — I guess that’s just “business as usual” too, eh Charles? As for Hillary’s later vote to OK a whole war based on false pretenses (which, once again, saw the arms inspectors pulled out before they could confirm, again, the fact that Iraq had no WMD) — well, hell, “every politician” since the dawn of time has done the same, ain’t they, Goob?

But none of this matters to our progressives. Nor does Hillary’s bloodthirsty record as Secretary of State, her vital role in the vast War Machine, ever pushing for more aggressive responses, for overturning governments (as in Honduras), for arming dictators (like her “close family friend,” Hosni Mubarak), for targeted assassinations and drone attacks, for allying with extremists to reduce whole nations to chaos (Libya). Who can forget that moment when the mask slipped and Hillary revealed the true, brutal nature of our bipartisan ruling elite — her gleeful exultation after Moamar Gadafy was sodomized and killed: “We came, we saw, he died!”

No, what matters is that Republican “ratfuckers” trumped up charges against the Clintons 20 years ago. (Charges that related only to personal and financial behaviour; the Republicans didn’t care about the bombing and killing; they would’ve liked more of it.) The sleaziness of the Clintons’ enemies absolves them of all blame, apparently. Any evidence of their corruption — financial, legal or moral — no matter what the source, is, ipso facto, nothing more than the noxious fumes of conspiracy.

As with Obama, there seems to be no crime or morally corrupt practice they will not countenance if it is committed by the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party. 

As Tarzie points out, they will “anguish” over their support — both Digby and Pierce preceded their Clinton apologias with stern posts criticizing the drone attack that killed two al Qaeda hostages, and two other Americans said to be al Qaeda members. Digby took issue with the “targeted assassination” program and Pierce pointed out that the drone campaign only creates more enemies for America. But the fact that Hillary Clinton will certainly continue these polices — and will probably intensify them — doesn’t stop the progressive duo from taking up the cudgels for her when someone questions her ethical and financial probity. The values and moral principles that underlie their attacks on the various depredations of the Terror War that Obama has expanded suddenly disappear at the first scent of partisan warfare. Their “ultimate concern” (to use Paul Tillich’s term) is the political victory of the Democratic Party — no matter what crimes and horrors its leaders perpetrate. However anguished their support, nothing will ever induce them to withdraw it.

There will be much, much more in this vein as the long, degrading freak show of the presidential campaign drags on. What our progressives once despised, they will soon defend. (As with Obamacare, which was originally — and rightly — scorned by progressives like Digby as an egregious sell-out to corporate interests and a death-blow to hopes for genuine health care reform, only to become a precious jewel to be adamantly defended against all attacks.) That thousands are dying, that extremism is spreading, that chaos is accelerating, that inequality is growing, that millions of people are suffering horribly from the deliberate choices of their champions does not, in the end, override their tribal instincts. And in this way, they help our rapacious elite insider to keep rat-fucking us all.

Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

Europe's Anemic Efforts to Censure Israeli Human Rights Abuses Ultimately Enabling

Europe’s feeble efforts to ‘punish’ Israel

by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The question of punishing illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory was considered separately in Europe and Israel last week, with only superficial differences in the conclusions reached. Israel’s near half-century occupation is in no immediate danger, either at home or abroad.

Some 16 European foreign ministers sent a letter to the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, calling for the EU to label clearly Israeli settlement products to alert shoppers to their true provenance.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s former finance minister who is widely regarded as a moderate, angrily phoned Mogherini to warn that major European states were calling for a “de facto boycott of Israel”. He described the letter as “a stain” on the EU, adding that Israel’s economy could face “disaster”.

EU foreign ministers were no less persuaded of the punitive nature of their proposal. Labelling settlement goods would, they wrote, be “an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy” and vital to preserving the two-state solution.

In truth, however, the letter simply continues Europe’s feeble and muddle-headed policy in the face of Israel’s intensifying efforts to entrench the occupation.

After years of internal debates, only a small majority of the 27 EU states has been able to agree on the most ineffectual measure imaginable against products made on land and using resources stolen from the occupied Palestinian population.

Labelling might give conscientious consumers useful information to target settlements goods but, in the unlikely event a significant number of shoppers chose to act, it would barely dent Israel’s economy.

In fact, even if the EU went much further and agreed to enforce a fully fledged boycott of the settlements – something far from its current agenda – it would have little more than a psychological impact.

The reason is that, while on the one hand the EU ponders symbolic gestures against the settlements, on the other it actively subsidises the very state that has been expanding the settlements for almost 50 years.

It does so both through a special trade agreement that makes Europe Israel’s largest export market and by handing over large sums of aid annually to the Palestinian Authority, which maintains order in the occupied territories on Israel’s behalf.

European ministers are behaving like deluded parents who believe they can punish a wayward child by docking his pocket money while at the same time letting him buy up the toy store.

The pressing need for Europe to find its backbone was underscored last week when Israel’s supreme court considered the question of boycotts.

Israeli peace and human rights groups had petitioned Israel’s highest court, long considered a lone outpost of liberalism, over a controversial law passed four years ago. It imposes heavy damages on any Israeli individual or organisation that calls for a boycott of either Israel or the settlements.

The Israeli right’s goal in passing the legislation was undisguised: to silence internal critics of the occupation, especially those who back growing international calls for Israel to face BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions. A similar campaign of isolation turned the tide against apartheid South Africa.

However, by a narrow majority, the court supported the law. Several judges described calls for boycott “political terror”, while another renamed the BDS movement “Bigoted, Dishonest, Shameful”.

Observers were particularly surprised that the court refused to make a distinction between boycotting Israel and the settlements. Effectively, the judges kosher-stamped the occupation, equating a non-violent political protest against the settlements with “terror”.

Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now observed that in doing so the court had codified Israel’s “de facto annexation” of the West Bank.

In practice, the ruling will bar Israelis from showing any solidarity with Palestinians living under oppression. As the liberal Haaretz daily noted, lobbying to stop theatre companies and musicians from performing in the large settlement of Ariel, in the heart of the West Bank, is now effectively outlawed with the court’s approval.

Uri Avnery, leader of the small Israeli peace camp Gush Shalom, which for many years has called unsuccessfully on the EU to boycott settlement products, believed the ruling proved the judges were simply “afraid” of the growing power of the right.

Without a supreme court prepared to back basic civil rights like free speech, the Israeli right’s hold is unchallenged. It is shutting down the kind of political spaces that allowed blacks and whites in South Africa to struggle jointly against apartheid.

Israeli commentator Gideon Levy lamented on Sunday:

“We’re about to get our most nationalist government – and there is no one to stop its laws.”

The court’s ruling only highlighted the EU’s shameful cowardice in failing to confront Israel. It is precisely as Israeli political institutions – from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to the judiciary – make common cause behind the settlements that Europe needs to find its voice.

The few Israelis prepared to break out of the domestic consensus and stand up for Palestinian rights to dignity and justice need all the help they can get. Not least they need the solidarity of European governments, who should be joining them in calling for harsh – not paltry – penalties against Israel.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net .

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Understanding Bill C-51 and Its Faux Revised Versions


Bill C-51 submissions, redux 

by Carmen Cheung - BCCLA

 April 22, 2015

This week, the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence continues its pre-study of Bill C-51, while an amended version of the Bill proceeds to third reading in the House of Commons.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (“SECU”) made just four amendments to the omnibus bill, despite hearing witness after witness express serious concerns about the Bill and its impact on basic rights and freedoms. We don’t think these amendments even begin to address the fundamental flaws in the Bill, and discuss why in our submissions to the Senate.

These submissions also include our take on some of the comments made by government lawyers at the clause-by-clause review of the Bill at SECU – comments which deal with the scope of the new CSIS powers; accountability in cases where information sharing by government results in harm to individuals (as we saw with Maher Arar); and whether the Federal Court of Canada is being asked to authorize unconstitutional activities by CSIS agents under the proposed warrant regime.

Here’s why SECU’s amendments don’t change our core concerns about Bill C-51:




1. The amended version now explicitly excludes all “advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” from the definition of “activity that undermines the security of Canada” in the proposed Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (“SCIS Act”). (This is a change from the previous exemption, which was limited only to “lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.”) While this amendment is welcome, we remain concerned that the broad definition of security will continue to capture expressive activities – as we have said before, activities undermining the “security” of Canada under the proposed SCIS Act would include activities that relate to not just public safety, but to public life in general. Moreover, recent examples show that government already takes a very wide view as to what constitutes a threat to Canada’s security.

2. The amended version contains new language regarding the scope of information sharing under the proposed SCIS Act. Section 6 of the proposed Act, as it was originally tabled in the House of Commons, read as follows:


For greater certainty, nothing in this Act prevents a head, or their delegate, who receives information under subsection 5(1) from, in accordance with the law, using that information, or further disclosing it to any person, for any purpose.

The amended version of Bill C-51 now contains a revised Section 6, which reads as follows:

For greater certainty, the use and further disclosure, other than under this Act, of information that is disclosed under subsection 5(1) is neither authorized nor prohibited by this Act, but must be done in accordance with the law, including any legal requirements, restrictions and prohibitions.

In our view, the revised language is a distinction without a difference. While the formulation has changed, the substance of this clarification is the same: any receiving agency is free to further disseminate information to any person, for any purpose, so long as it is “in accordance with the law.”





The concerns raised by Professors Roach and Forcese with respect to the original Section 6 have equal application here: existing law governing information sharing is thin, and to the extent that it exists in legislation like the Privacy Act, it is “riddled with exceptions and limitations” to its reach. For example, s. 8 of the Privacy Act sets out 14 different exemptions to the general prohibition against disclosure of personal information without the consent of the individual to whom that information relates.

One such exemption allows personal information under the control of a government institution to be disclosed for “any purpose where, in the opinion of the head of the institution, the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure.” The public clearly has a strong interest in ensuring that Canada’s security is protected, but when Canada’s security is conceived of in terms as broad as those set out in the SCIS Act, the range of activities that could serve as justification for massive information sharing is dramatically expanded. And when the aim is to identify threats (as opposed to tracking known threats), there is nothing in this legislation and in the existing privacy legislation to prevent government institutions from either requesting or offering up entire databases for review by any of the other (at present, 17) scheduled institutions.

3. The third amendment recommended by SECU modifies the requirements imposed on airlines to give effect to the new no-fly regime under the proposed Secure Air Travel Act. We’ve set out our concerns on this proposed Act before, so we will not repeat them here. Nothing in this amendment – designed to protect the airlines and to mitigate their concerns about their ability to enforce the no-fly list – addresses our basic questions regarding the efficacy of no-fly regimes in general, or our serious concerns about the procedural infirmities specific to the no-fly scheme proposed in this Bill.

4. The final amendment relates to the proposed “threat disruption” powers for CSIS, and states that Bill C-51 is not giving any “law enforcement” powers to CSIS. This amendment gives us no comfort. “Law enforcement” is not a legal term, and it is unclear what it actually means in this context. Perhaps CSIS may not have the power to “arrest” and “jail,” but as the Department of Justice acknowledged during SECU’s clause-by-clause review, these new disruption powers would permit CSIS to “take measures to interfere with a person’s movement” – in other words, to capture and detain. The Department of Justice also noted that “rendition” or “removal to another state” are not “law enforcement powers,” which means that such practices remain available to CSIS as “threat reduction” measures. As Professors Roach and Forcese observe:

If CSIS wishes to detain or interrogate, it will do so for threat disruption purposes, not “law enforcement.” The government’s peculiar language does precisely nothing to dispel concerns about a system of CSIS “security detention” or “detention for security interrogation.” Given the disturbing experience in other jurisdictions after September 11, 2001, the absence of an express, emphatic bar on detention is alarming.

The range of activities authorized by this “threat reduction” power includes activities we traditionally think of as belonging to the police – detaining and holding individuals; interrogating them while in detention. As a result, we would say that despite the assertion that CSIS is not being granted “law enforcement” powers, it is clear that the new “threat reduction” power is, for all intents and purposes, a policing power.

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: the government has simply not made its case for why this Bill is necessary and good for national security. And it has done nothing to dispel any of the concerns raised by us and so many others about its legality and constitutionality. This Bill is fundamentally flawed, and cannot be salvaged by any amendment, let alone these four here.

Read our submissions in their entirety here.

Dispatches from the Active Eastern Ukraine War Zone

From the War Zone of Eastern Ukraine

by Roger Annis - New Cold War


April 21, 2015  

I have just returned from participating in a four-day reporting tour to the city of Donetsk and the countryside that lies between Donetsk and the Russian city of Rostov to the south and east. I was part of a media tour group organized by Europa Objektiv, an initiative of citizens in Russia and Germany working to provide information about the war in eastern Ukraine to writers and journalists.

Residents of ‘October’ district of
Donetsk city still enduring ongoing
shelling by Ukraine army,
April 16, 2015 (Roger Annis)

Our tour group consisted of writers and filmmakers from Canada, the United States, Italy, Holland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. We learned a great deal about the political, economic and social situation in the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

For me, perhaps the most important part of the tour was the insight gained into the political aspirations of the leading social and political forces of the movement for political autonomy of these regions. The most difficult part was seeing the very harsh conditions which people living close to the ceasefire demarcation line with Ukrainian armed forces are suffering.

I will be writing a series of articles about the visit in the coming days and weeks in Counterpunch. One place where they will all be compiled and easily accessible is on my author page on the website which I help to edit: The New Cold War; Ukraine and beyond.

The following is an overview of what I will try to bring to readers.

The political outlook of the Novorossiya movement and the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk


The term “separatist” or “pro-Russia separatist” is a false as well as pejorative description of the pro-autonomy movement in eastern Ukraine. This I already believed. What we learned is that the movement is not “separatist” at all. And it is pluralist. The final political outcome of the autonomy struggle in eastern Ukraine will be determined by the course of political events and a democratic process, not by a pre-determined goal, still less by assumptions by hostile outsiders.

Many people in eastern and southern Ukraine favour the creation of what they term ‘Novorossiya’, a political entity conforming to the historical arc of territory sweeping from eastern Ukraine across southern Ukraine to Odessa in the southwest. But is this to be a contiguous territory? Will it be a distinct or even independent political entity? What about future relations with Ukraine?

The one answer to these question held by everyone we encountered is that the Ukraine of oligarchs, of war and of monist Ukrainian language and culture that would discriminate against others must end. That is a precondition to future relations with or within Ukraine. Apart from that, all political options are open. For many, a decentralized and federated Ukraine would be just fine, provided it is democratic and not run by oligarchs, and provided it can live in peace with its neighbours, particularly with Russia.

Our delegation met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandr Kofman of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Acting Minister of Information Elena Nikitina. We also met members of the Novorossiya Parliament. I will bring you their views in my forthcoming articles.

Social and economic prospects 

 

Media tour group meets Boris Litvinov (center), 
director of the finance and budget committee of the 
Donetsk People’s Republic, April 16, 2015


Our delegation had a meeting with the director of the finance and budget committee of the Donetsk People’s Republic. A comprehensive economic plan for the republic is in preparation. We learned there is a very strong anti-oligarch and social egalitarian determination amidst the autonomy movement in eastern Ukraine.

A nascent banking system has been established in the two republics by nationalizing the banks of the billionaire bankers, notably the Privat Bank of the rightist oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. The grocery distribution and retail systems have been nationalized, as have electricity generation and supply. Industry, notably the large metallurgical holdings of Rinat Akhmetov, has not been nationalized and it is unlikely this would or should be done in any immediate future. Akhmetov’s enterprises provide employment to thousands and they are paying taxes to the people’s republics. At the same time, the days of oligarchs dominating government (including being appointed as provincial governors) are over.

The currency situation is difficult due to Ukraine’s economic blockade. Four currencies are legal or de facto tender—the Ukrainian hryvnia, Russian ruble, Euro and U.S. dollar.

The humanitarian situation


Our delegation saw the two extremes of Donetsk city. In the center of the city (a very beautiful city center, located on the Kalmius River and full of green spaces, public art and attractive buildings) there is little visible war damage. Shops are reasonably full of provisions. But in the outskirts of the city, particularly near the ceasefire demarcation line, residential districts have been heavily damaged by the shellings and ground forays by Ukrainian armed forces and extremist militias. The provision of humanitarian aid is uneven. (See here maps of the demarcation lines in eastern Ukraine and a listing of the damages to the territory caused by Kyiv’s ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’.)

Due to the escalation of shelling in the past several weeks, adults and children are once again spending nights underground in dank and cramped basement shelters. We toured one neighbourhood near the shattered Donetsk airport as shells were falling a few kilometers away. The resumption of daytime shelling is new. Residents are distraught and angry. They condemn the shelling and wonder why the large countries of Europe let it happen. They expect that their most immediate needs should be met by humanitarian aid. Governing authorities as well as countless citizen volunteers and agencies, including from Russia, are working mightily to meet humanitarian needs. But the needs are many and the resources are limited.

The people old enough to remember the German Nazi invasion of World War Two (80 years of age or older) told us they cannot believe they are re-living the nightmare of their childhoods. This generation of citizens of the former Soviet Union call themselves “children of war”. I suppose they are beginning to call themselves “the elders of war”.

In a background briefing provided to our delegation in Moscow, we learned of the two reports that have been published by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy on the widespread use of torture by Ukraine forces in this war. I will devote a specific forthcoming article to this subject. (Here is the first report, issued on Dec. 24, 2014, and the second report, issued on March 1, 2015.)

Ukraine has imposed an economic blockade on Donetsk and Lugansk, including cessation of payment of old age pensions and other social benefits since last June. One piece of good news while we were in Donetsk is that the new government is in a position to assume payment of old age pensions as of April 1. We talked to elderly people lined up at the branches of the new banking system to receive their pensions. They were happy to be receiving payment, finally, but none too happy with the war that finds them in such a lineup.

Realistically, the string of killings in the streets of Kyiv recently of journalists and opposition politicians does not bode well for peace in the short term.

Personal reflections


I have never before traveled in a war zone. (Two visits to Haiti almost qualify as a war zone, but not quite.) Our safety and personal protection were paramount in the plans of tour organizers. We never once felt endangered.

We were emotionally disturbed at times by what we were seeing and hearing. The most difficult was to see the poor and elderly people living with shelling going on around them and nowhere to go for complete safety and peace of mind.

Something I did not expect to see were the large numbers of schools, hospitals and medical centers that were damaged by shelling.


School #106 in Petrovsky district of Donetsk shattered
by Ukrainian army shelling (photo on April 16, 2015 by Roger Annis)


One large school we stopped to observe (School #106) had every window blasted out. It was a solid building, structurally sound. A colleague commented, “They sure knew how to build solid public buildings during the Soviet era.” As I walked around the schoolyard, I began to notice large numbers of metal fragments on the ground. I bent down to look and discovered they were shards of ghastly-looking shrapnel, some the size of fingers. Shrapnel lying everywhere on a school ground? In Europe in the year 2015? It was too much, a rough end to a long day already packed with emotional reactions to things heard and seen. More than a few tears were shed as we boarded our vehicle to head back to our hotel for the night. This article was also published in Counterpunch, April 21, 2015. Roger Annis is an editor of The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. In mid-April 2015, he joined a four-day reporting visit to the Donetsk People’s Republic.