Saturday, November 28, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now, General? Troops Home Now! Go Cindy!

FAIRFIELD - Some tense moments at a local anti-war protest...led by activist, Cindy Sheehan.

Sheehan was in Fairfield as part of a peace caravan protesting President Obama's plan to send more troops to Afghanistan.

They came in peace...but this protest with pushing, yelling, and shoving...It wasn't exactly peaceful.

Cindy Sheehan and other "Code Pink" protestors say their message of peace is constantly a battle.

Soldiers at Travis Air Force Base had to break up a heated confrontation between protestors and retired military Sgt. Phil Ward.

Ward says, "I'm not here to support Obama. I'm here to support our troops. Everytime they do a demonstration, they ruin the troops.

These protestors say they're against President Obama's plan to send roughly 30-thousand troops to Afghanistan.

Right now there are 68-thousand U.S. soldiers fighting the war.

Sheehan says, "That's a huge escalation."

They're also fighting against the use of drones. Drones are unmanned aircraft launched from boats and bases around the world. They are controlled by soldiers sitting in front of computers.

The war hits home for Sheehan because her son, Casey was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq. Sheehan says there's always somebody who doesn't like her views, but she won't be silenced.

"I'm never going to stop," she says.

This peace caravan is expected to end on Monday at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada.

Just in time for President Obama's speech on Tuesday night.,0,5982427.story

"In a Home to Free Speech, a Paper Is Accused of Anti-Semitism" -- Zionists Killing Messenger (Again)

Part of article below; whole article here:

BERKELEY, Calif. — For the last six years, The Berkeley Daily Planet has published a freewheeling assortment of submissions from readers, who offer sharp-elbowed views on everything from raucous college parties (generally bad) to the war in Iraq (ditto).

But since March, that running commentary has been under attack by a small but vociferous group of critics who accuse the paper’s editor, Becky O’Malley, of publishing too many letters and other commentary pieces critical of Israel. Those accusations are the basis of a campaign to drive away the paper’s advertisers and a Web site that strongly suggests The Planet and its editor are anti-Semitic.

“We think that Ms. O’Malley is addicted to anti-Israel expression [why is anti-Israel automatically anti-semitic??? -- LJ] just as an alcoholic is to drinking,” Jim Sinkinson, who has led the campaign to discourage advertisers, wrote in an e-mail message. He is the publisher of Infocom Group, a media relations company. “If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely.”

Ms. O’Malley denies any personal or editorial bias, and bristles at the suggestion that she should not publish letters about Israel in a city like Berkeley, which has a sizable Jewish community and a populace — and City Council — that often weigh in on Middle East and international affairs.

“Frankly, the term that crossed my mind was ‘protection racket,’ ” Ms. O’Malley said. “I think that is unusual to say the least that anybody would think that they could dictate a whole area of the world that is simply off limits for discussion.”

Whether right or wrong, Mr. Sinkinson’s campaign has left The Planet — a weekly already hammered by the recession — gasping for breath. Advertising sales revenue is down some 60 percent from last year, Ms. O’Malley says. In October, the paper trimmed its skeleton crew of full-time reporters to one from three, and has begun a fund-raising drive to keep publishing.

Still, she says she has no intention of stopping the publication of submitted letters, citing a commitment to free speech that is a legacy of the city where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960s.

“I have the old-fashioned basic liberal thing of believing that the remedy for speech you don’t like is more speech,” said Ms. O’Malley, 69, a veteran local journalist who bought the paper in 2002 as a retirement project with her husband, Michael, now 72. “If somebody says something you don’t like, say what you think. And I felt it a privilege here in my middle age to be in a position to make that happen.”

The paper has published unpopular opinions on other subjects, including a commentary from a local activist arguing that the murder of four Oakland police officers — none of whom were black — by an African-American parolee in March was “karmic justice” for past police killings of civilians. But such pieces are in a section of the paper that clearly states they “do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily Planet.”

Mr. O’Malley, the paper’s publisher, said he thought The Planet’s critics were confusing letters from unaffiliated writers — the paper says it prints anything that is not libelous or obscene, with a preference for local writers — with official editorial positions.

“We publish things from people that we can barely stand to be in the same room with,” he said.

In addition to the letter-writing campaign, the paper has faced online criticism from, a site that contains pages of what it calls anti-Semitic writings published in The Planet. The site’s editor, John Gertz, says his goal is not to close the paper, but “reform” it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Mouths Filled with Hatred"

Feeling the hate in Jerusalem (again!)

" ... Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James's Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, "Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night.".... "All 15 monks at our friary have been spat at," he said. "Every [Christian cleric in the Old City] who's been here for awhile, who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at. The more you get around, the more it happens."

via the Friday Lunch Club

"The People Behind the Bolivarian Revolution" -- [Gringa] Diary of Life in the Revolutions and Uprisings of Bolivia and Venezuela
...The people you don’t see, who don’t make the press, but who without, you couldn’t say that this was a mass process, and who are a range of beings as diverse, complex and contradictory as the process itself.

For example, there is S. I asked him what he lives for once, and he told me he lives to change the world. He’s 20 years old and studying political science at university. He walks in life with a lazy posture and an unashamed lack of enthusiasm. Sometimes he’s talkative and affectionate, other times he’s quiet and withdrawn.
He says both anarchism and socialism are too limited and right now he says the way to change the world is to change oneself.

On Saturdays he participates in a radio show run by history students at the Radio E, one of the thousands of alternative or community radios and other medias that have sprung up over the last 10 years. They talk about history in a way history isn’t usually talked about, as something to question, to rewrite from the perspective of the people rather than the powerful, as something not determined by individual heroes like Bolivar, but by movements, organisation, the economy, and unfortunate events organised by more than one person, such as war. During these sessions S becomes more lively. He says he’s nervous but it isn’t noticeable. His arguments are well thought out, constructive, original and thought provoking.

There is A, a member of my communal council who lives in a two room house with her husband and kid, the house on the edge of a slope that is suffering erosion problems and it’s quite risky. She had her child when she was 16, now she’s 24 and has just finished highschool and is looking forward to going to university.
She is cheerful and usually turns up to communal council meetings and activities, but sometimes she can’t and only her husband turns up, while she cares for the kid. Her and her husband are also in a church group, and they organise social and community events through that too.

People on the slope can be lazy with their rubbish, not wanting to walk all the way up the hill to put it in the street where it can be collected, and she expresses her frustration about this at the meetings. Her and her husband will re-visit these people with information about the rubbish system and try to organise a meeting of all of them to find a solution to the problem. Her family is also looking for housing, and at the meetings they inform us of what the state government is doing- petrocasas, and the mayor is doing- cheap apartments but you have to pay a lot it upfront, so that we can then inform the rest of the community.

L. At first L was completely against politics. He couldn’t see the point and he got frustrated sometimes when we talked about it or when we couldn’t meet him because we were at a meeting. Then he fell completely in love with a guy who saw revolution as the only thing worth fighting for, who saw a reason to talk about it any social context. At first it made L resent politics even more, but then he started to embrace it. Then he was wearing PSUV [Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela] wrist bands and calling himself a revolutionary. But I’m not sure that he ever really got it. He came out recently. He goes out a lot, to pubs and things. His crush left and later he fell for someone else and I think in the end he is young, preoccupied with his own identity, and for now that interests him more than the rest.

Two guys I was talking to at the pub: They shouted me a drink and we talked politics. One was an art historian, the other worked in a bookshop. They declared they did not support Chavez. Why? Because he divides the people with his strong way of talking (he needs to stop talking in upper case, they repeated, use softer language, not talk about imperialism all the time). But the opposition are a small sector of mostly rich people, whereas those who support him are the vast majority of the country, and quite poor, do they think the country would be united if he just changed his discourse? Ah. And then, but things cost so much. We are a rich oil country, why can’t we buy more things? And then they repeated a lot of the opposition press rhetoric, Chavez supports the Farc! He spends too much time overseas, when we have our problems here to sort out first! Inflation. Ten years in government and bureaucracy and corruption are still rife! Well, I said, its true there are many problems, many things we need to work on, but don’t you think the widespread free education and health care, the communal councils where we directly solve our communities’ problems is more important than if we can easily buy electronic brands? Ah yes, these are good things, of course we support that! Then me, and don’t you think that not everything is up to Chavez, that where bureaucracy and corruption are a problem, rather than just complaining about it, it should be us, going out there and try to help fix these things? Well yes of course… they said, then went back to how Chavez needs to stop talking about imperialism so much…

The revolution here isn’t as simple as opposition verses red t-shirt wearing Chavez supporters. There are the people who dedicate a lot of time to the communal councils, just because they believe in their principles, but who probably wouldn’t call themselves revolutionary or Chavistas (though many would admit they voted for Chavez). There are those who do call themselves revolutionaries, but whose revolutionary work is limited to their job working for the government, or others who are in revolutionary groups but they focus most of their efforts on criticising the government. There are whole 10 member families who get involved in things, and there are couples made up of both “sides”, there’s the woman who makes chicha at the bus stop with the PSUV sticker on her cart, the guy with a computer collective shop who was helping organise the PSUV youth and who plays the guitar like a second lover, the CC rep who lost her mother and hasn’t been attending meetings lately, the other member who is always nervous, the Chavista students who are somewhat more motivated during elections and less so when they have lots of exams, etc etc.

There’s J, who’s organising a different communal council but who participates in our reading squadron. Despite his relaxed and fairly cheerful demeanour, I think he’s feeling a bit pessimistic right now. “Everyone in my communal council is waiting for the new law to be passed, we don’t want to do anything because the new law will make it all redundant. There’s too much apathy, people don’t come to things.” Are you in the PSUV? I ask. “Yes, I’m in xx patrulla. But we don’t meet. No one comes. Everyone’s very apathetic,” he repeats.

Washington Endorses Gunpoint Election in Honduras

If you've been wondering what's going on in Honduras, here is the ugly truth: people of Honduras are being sold out by the Obama Administration.

The Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH), one of the country’s principal human rights organizations, issued a warning Sunday that in the run-up to the election, the coup regime is launching a “new wave of death threats, political persecution, illegal detentions, torture [and] militarization of some sectors in the main cities.”

Part of article below; whole article (via Citizens for Legitimate Government) here:

The Obama administration has declared its support for elections being held this Sunday in Honduras, under conditions in which the regime that came to power in a coup last June has refused to cede power and is preparing intense repression against those who oppose it.

The action has placed Washington at odds with virtually all of Latin America, whose governments have refused to recognize the elections as legitimate.

The US endorsement of the elections represents the culmination of a policy that has lent political support to the coup regime headed by the Liberal Party leader of the national legislature, Roberto Micheletti, and the Honduran military, even as Washington has given lip service to the principle of restoring the country’s elected president, Manuel Zelaya, to power.

Zelaya was dragged from the presidential palace by hooded and heavily armed soldiers in the early morning hours of June 28, bundled onto an airplane and flown into exile. Since his clandestine return to the country two months ago, he has been forced to remain holed up in the Brazilian embassy.

In advance of a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington Monday, the US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, sent a letter defending Washington’s position, insisting that Sunday’s elections “are not something invented by the de facto government as a way out or to whitewash the coup.”

The holding of the vote, Valenzuela said, is “consistent with the constitutional mandate to elect the president and congress.”

Valenzuela was only recently confirmed to his position as the senior State Department official responsible for Latin America. Senate Republicans, led by Jim DeMint of South Carolina, had held up his nomination over the Obama administration’s stated support for the return of Zelaya to office. After the administration made it clear it would back the election whether the ousted president was reinstated or not, DeMint and his fellow Republicans dropped their opposition.

Backing the Republicans’ support for the coup regime was a team of high-powered political lobbyists funded by Honduran business interests. This effort was led by President Bill Clinton’s White House counsel, Lanny Davis, a close political associate of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he served as a chief political fundraiser during her 2008 presidential bid.

Valenzuela also announced that the US will send observers to monitor the election. Organizing this mission for Washington will be the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), organizations set up by the two major US political parties.

Both are funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency established in 1983 to carry out the kind of political operations that previously had been staged by the Central Intelligence Agency. The NED was a leading backer of the Venezuelan coup of 2002 and has been involved in the so-called “color revolutions” carried out in several former Soviet republics. Sitting on the board of the NDI are a number of veteran Democratic politicians as well as the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten.

Help Save the Palestinian Village of Lifta from Total Destruction

Lifta, a most picturesque Palestinian village, lies on the slopes of West Jerusalem below the highway linking it to Tel-Aviv. It has been abandoned since the invading Hagana underground forces backed by the Stern Gang drove the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It was the one single event which changed the nature of the place and the whole region. Although dozens of houses were destroyed, many of them still remain poised on the landscape.

Lifta is considered by many as a rare and fine example of Palestinian rural architecture with narrow streets aligned with the slopes of the mountains around it. Its cubist forms are a wonderful manifestation of the mastery of the Palestinian stone masons who were the indigenous owners and builders of these houses.

Today Lifta is more or less a ghost town suspended in space and remains deserted despite the fact that most of its original Palestinian inhabitants live in the surrounding communities. The Israeli authorities refuse to allow them to return.

Now the Jerusalem Municipality has produced plans to turn Lifta into a luxurious and exclusive Jewish development – reinventing its history in the process.

The Plan, numbered 6036, was designed by two architectural offices: G. Kartas – S. Grueg and S. Ahronson, as part of the "local space planning of Jerusalem". The plan was submitted on June 28, 2004, and according to its title refers to "The Spring of National". The plan, submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee in 2004, was approved by a regional committee.

In 2005, objections to the Plan were raised by several groups, including Bimkom (alternative center for Israeli planning) and the representatives of the regional committee of the organization and construction for the Al Quds-Jerusalem area.

Main Issues:

• The original Palestinian inhabitants of Lifta, their memories of the village, their exile and longing to return to Lifta are not mentioned, or even considered by the Municipality Master Plan.

• Lifta captures the moment of destruction of Palestinian life in 1948. Its 3,000 original inhabitants fled – mostly to East Jerusalem and to the Ramallah area. However, unlike many of the 530 Palestinian villages and towns conquered and bulldozed during the war of 1947/48, a few of Lifta’s houses remain almost intact, yet deserted and declared 'officially’ resettled.

• These set of circumstances have placed Lifta in a unique position: its original inhabitants are still around, living in the OPT and the Chicago area with a desire that the injustices done in 1948 be acknowledged and repaired.

• In Israel, renovation projects are frequently used to build a national narrative, ignoring the deep contradictions between planning and human rights that inevitably arise out of such initiatives.

• With Lifta, we have a place where a new national transformation results in the erasure of another’ people’s memory as evidenced in the new Masterplan.

• Lifta is a tangible embodiment of the larger context of events in the region during 1947/48. Lifta can be a vital place for contemplating and understanding the concept of historical continuity.

• Lifta’s heritage is a story of a multicultural society, embracing a strong sense of an ethnically and religiously diverse community of Muslims, Jews and Christians which encapsulated a healthy civil equality amongst its inhabitants and the neighbouring communities. If Lifta were to be rejuvenated with due care to preserving its memory, it could offer a unique opportunity for the start of a new dialogue towards a conciliatory outcome.

Petition’s Aim:

This petition aims to save Lifta through the World Monuments Fund , amongst others, and to draw attention to this site which has been threatened by neglect, vandalism and forced occupation by extremist settlers.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

National Day of Mourning Plymouth Rock -- Return to Alcatraz 40 Years of Resistance

US & Canada International Border Marker Removed
Onkwehonwe removed one of the british land markers that were forced on Onkwehonwe Lands

Return to Alcatraz -- Brenda Norell Reports
ALCATRAZ -- With the sounds of the Miwok singers and the calling out of the names of the original occupiers of Alcatraz, American Indians ushered in a new era of resistance, remembering how the act of holding the rock became the bedrock of a new generation.

During the Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony, commemorating the 40 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz, Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement, told thousands gathered to prepare to hold President Obama accountable.

Bellecourt said that last year everyone was excited when President Obama took office. "I was happy too. I went to his inauguration. The whole world was excited."

"I told every one of you to be vigilant, to be watchful. We've heard promises before."

Bellecourt pointed out that President Obama has bailed out the car companies, bailed out Wall Street and bailed out the banks. The Indian people, however, have not been bailed out. Obama made campaign promises to the Indian people. So far, the missing billions in the trust funds have not been returned to the Indian people.

"We haven't seen a penny of what belongs to us. There may be a day when we have to hold his feet to the fire."

"We don't want a stimulus package. We don't want anyone to bail us out." Bellecourt said Indian people want what is justly theirs and guaranteed by treaties.

Referring to the Massacre of Wounded Knee, he said, "We'll never let this sacred hoop be broken again." Bellecourt said it is time to nourish the sacred tree and this hoop of life.

"We're still at war," he said, responding to questions of how to join the American Indian Movement. "I draft every one of you."

Report continues here:

Anti-Flag - The PRESS CORPSE Music Video

USPCN Stands with African American Activists Against Israeli Racism

Good video by the two activists at the link -- scroll down to bottom.

Israel’s appalling denial of entry to Palestine for African American activists Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid comes as no surprise. The state of Israel, inherently racist and exclusionary, has always found common cause with other racist regimes around the world. It was a major military supporter of the South African apartheid regime when that regime faced boycotts around the world – boycotts that inspire today’s movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Dhoruba Bin Wahad is a former political prisoner and leader of the Black Panther Party whose conviction was overturned after spending 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Naji Mujahid is a Washington DC-based student activist. Both men were invited to attend the International Conference on Palestinian Political Prisoners in Jericho taking place this week alongside other international lawyers and human rights activists.They rode a tourist bus to the bridge separating Jordan from Palestine, where, as the only two Black people on the bus, they were separated from the rest of the tourists, who were permitted to go on their way. Dhoruba and Naji were then interrogated, strip searched, and had their belongings confiscated before they were ordered to return to Jordan.

The treatment accorded Dhoruba and Naji mirrors Israel’s policy of driving Palestinians out of their homeland through settlement-building, land confiscation, checkpoints, the Judaization of Jerusalem, and the enactment of discriminatory laws against Palestinians in the parts of Palestine that were occupied in 1948. It also mirrors Israel’s continued denial of the right to return home to for over seven million Palestinian refugees and exiles. As Naji Mujahid himself stated, “the humiliation and frustration that we endured was a small taste of what we can be sure the Palestinians go through on a daily basis.”

Israel’s actions prevented important meetings between former American and Palestinian political prisoners. In addition, they disrupted the media coverage that both Dhoruba and Naji had arranged to provide for Black community news outlets about the conference, Palestinian political prisoners, and the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

The US Palestinian Community Network stands in solidarity with Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid. We call upon the US State Department to protest this clear example of Israeli racism, and to take action about the ongoing denial of entry of US citizens and residents to Palestine on the basis of their race and/or national origin.

"Thirsty Camels Lay Siege to Australian Outback Town"

Me? I'm rooting for the camels!
Camels were first brought to Australia to help explorers travel through the desert Photo: EPA
Docker River, an Australian Outback town, is under siege from 6,000 wild camels which have laid waste to the area in search of water.

Residents in the Northern Territory settlement have been left cowering in their homes after the animals trampled fences, smashed through water mains and invaded the airstrip.

The camels, driven to extreme lengths by prolonged drought, have even tried to force their way into people’s homes to drink water from air conditioning units and taps.

However, authorities are planning to reclaim the town, which is home to around 350 people, by herding up the camels with helicopters and shooting them.

Whole article here:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Morbid Symptoms: Current Healthcare Struggles"

A couple things you should know about the healthcare struggle -- from Colin Leys, a professor in England fighting cutbacks to the national health. Link to whole article here:
CL: There are really two core issues. One is the need to focus on the militant campaign that is now being waged by capital – the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, and big healthcare provider companies – to break up state-funded and provided healthcare systems in every country that has them, and turn them into fields of accumulation. In middle- and high-income countries we are talking of potential markets worth from 7 to 12% of national income or even more. The power of the corporations moving in on public health services is huge, and growing. In Canada and the UK and other advanced capitalist countries they are major actors in the restructuring of states on neoliberal lines that has been pushed through to a greater or lesser extent in all countries over the past 30 years. They are increasingly installed at the heart of government policy-making. Health ministries and departments have been downsized and policy development has been handed over to private sector personnel as consultants, or appointed to government posts, while ministers and career civil servants leave to take lucrative jobs in the private health sector. The boundary between public and private interests is increasingly blurred, especially in relation to health. This is not nearly as well understood as it needs to be.

The second core issue is the fact that health care, important as it is, is not the most important thing: the crucial determinants of health, wherever you live – India, Canada, South Africa, the US, it makes no difference – are good food, good shelter, safety at work and protection against infections, so whether you and your family are healthy or not is above all a matter of equality. The poorest countries have the worst health, and so do the poorest people in all countries, including rich ones. Unless public policy is geared towards equality, even in rich countries most people’s health will remain a lot worse than it should be. But the more neoliberal a government is, the less policy is concerned with equality. In the US and the UK, where inequality has been dramatically increased, it is condemning growing numbers of people to pain, disability and early death. The same is true internationally. As Meri Koivusalo shows in her essay in the volume, effective control over international health policy has been steadily transferred from the World Health Organisation to commercially-oriented and unaccountable organisations such as the Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Even the WHO depends on ‘voluntary’ contributions from a range of sources for over four-fifths of its budget, as opposed to its core funding through UN member states. The bulk of health aid is thus increasingly controlled by agencies with links to corporate interests, especially those of big pharma. The WHO’s 1978 commitment to promoting ‘health for all’ via comprehensive primary care has given way to aid targeted at specific diseases largely chosen by these other agencies. The aim of improving people’s health is compromised by the aim of making money.

US Builds Up Its Bases in Oil-Rich South America

PART OF STORY BELOW; ALL (via Angry Arab Newservice) AT LINK ABOVE

The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent.

The new US push is part of an effort to counter the loss of influence it has suffered recently at the hands of a new generation of Latin American leaders no longer willing to accept Washington's political and economic tutelage. President Rafael Correa, for instance, has refused to prolong the US armed presence in Ecuador, and US forces have to quit their base at the port of Manta by the end of next month.

So Washington turned to Colombia, which has not gone down well in the region. The country has received military aid worth $4.6bn (£2.8bn) from the US since 2000, despite its poor human rights record. Colombian forces regularly kill the country's indigenous people and other civilians, and last year raided the territory of its southern neighbour, Ecuador, causing at least 17 deaths.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has not forgotten that US officers were present in government offices in Caracas in 2002 when he was briefly overthrown in a military putsch, warned this month that the bases agreement could mean the possibility of war with Colombia.

In August, President Evo Morales of Bolivia called for the outlawing of foreign military bases in the region. President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, overthrown in a military coup d'├ętat in June and initially exiled, has complained that US forces stationed at the Honduran base of Palmerola collaborated with Roberto Micheletti, the leader of the plotters and the man who claims to be president.

And, this being US foreign policy, a tell-tale trail of oil is evident. Brazil had already expressed its unhappiness at the presence of US naval vessels in its massive new offshore oilfields off Rio de Janeiro, destined soon to make Brazil a giant oil producer eligible for membership in Opec.

The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the US Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region's waters in 2008. The fleet's vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed submarines – a deployment seen by some experts as a violation of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear weapons from the continent.

Indications of US willingness to envisage the stationing of nuclear weapons in Colombia are seen as an additional threat to the spirit of nuclear disarmament. After the establishment of the Tlatelolco Treaty in 1967, four more nuclear-weapon-free zones were set up in Africa, the South Pacific, South-east Asia and Central Asia. Between them, the five treaties cover nearly two-thirds of the countries of the world and almost all the southern hemisphere.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world's leading think-tank about disarmament issues, has now expressed its worries about the US-Colombian arrangements.

With or without nuclear weapons, the bilateral agreement on the seven Colombian bases, signed on 30 October in Bogota, risks a costly new arms race in a region. SIPRI, which is funded by the Swedish government, said it was concerned about rising arms expenditure in Latin America draining resources from social programmes that the poor of the region need.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Israeli warplanes pound Gaza -- More War Crimes!

A Palestininan girl is wheeled into Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip early November 22, 2009.

For Reuters video go here:

Nov 22 - Israel launches air strikes in the Gaza Strip which it says were triggered when a rocket luanched from the enclave landed on its territory. Paul Chapman, Reuters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

British TV Documentary Tackles Taboo of Israel's Lobby -- Diane Lanford in EI

UPDATE: Gilad Atzmon takes on this story with some historical context:
We'd be deluded if we didn't think the same type of tactics aren't going on here. Linda J.

End portion of article below; whole article at link above
Dispatches also examines the relationship between Tony Blair and his former pro-Israeli Middle East envoy, Lord Levy. Levy is estimated to have raised over #15 million for Blair before the "cash for peerages" affair put an end to his fundraising activities in the summer of 2006.

The accompanying pamphlet by Peter Oborne and James Jones, which can be downloaded from the Channel 4 website or, provides tables listing MPs' names, dates and quantities of cash supplied by the CFI. They give the historical background to the formation of both the CFI and LFI.

According to Oborne, many individuals who privately told Dispatches of their concerns about the lobby simply felt they had too much to lose by confronting it. Dispatches approached Jonathan Dimbleby, the doyen of BBC presenters, who authored a powerfully argued article for the UK-based website Index on Censorship, criticizing the BBC's betrayal of Jeremy Bowen, its Middle East editor. Dimbleby was keen to be interviewed by the show's producers and the Dispatches team were baffled when he abruptly backed out.

In 2000, Bowen witnessed an Israeli tank near the Lebanese border incinerate his local colleague and driver, Abed Takkoush. Bowen was shot at himself. Andrew Balcombe, Zionist Federation Chair, immediately wrote to the BBC Trust demanding Bowen's removal as Middle East editor, claiming this incident was a "tragic mistake" that "may have colored [his] views about Israel." Ever since, Israel's allies have targeted Bowen.

The BBC Trust caved in to Jonathan Turner, attorney for the Zionist Federation, and CAMERA. Turner complained that Bowen's online analysis "How 1967 defined the Middle East" and his 12 January 2008 report "From Our Own Correspondent" for BBC Radio 4, were "chronically biased." Bowen was accused of using language that "appears to be calculated to promote hatred of the Jewish state and the Jews."

However, Dispatches points out that Bowen had an article titled "Israel still bears a disastrous legacy," (31 May 2007) published in The Jewish Chronicle a week earlier than one of BBC pieces that were successfully targeted by CAMERA. The BBC Trust upheld a complaint that Bowen had breached their standards of accuracy and impartiality by stating: "Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier" and "the Israeli generals, mainly hugely self-confident Sabras in their late 30s and early 40s, had been training to finish the unfinished business of 1948 for most of their careers." Yet The Jewish Chronicle article contained exactly the same wording without being challenged by the paper, sympathetic to Israel, or its readers. Oborne comments, "Perhaps the BBC Trust's interpretation of due impartiality is different to that of Britain's Jewish community."

Moreover, Dispatches discovered that the BBC's Dimbleby is now experiencing exactly the same process of complaints that he described in the Bowen case. After attacking Bowen, the Zionist Federation's Turner is now arguing that Dimbleby's defense of his colleague makes him unfit to host the BBC's popular radio program Any Questions.

In addition to the BBC, Dispatches discovered other members of the media that have been targeted by the Zionist lobby. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, described a 2006 visit from Gerald Ronson, chairman of the Community Security Trust, a charity for British Jews, and Henry Grunwald, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The meeting was triggered by an article in the Guardian by Chris McGreal that compared Israel to apartheid South Africa. After an emergency meeting at the Israeli ambassador's residence that was also attended by BICOM chairman Poju Zabludowicz, Grumald and Ronson were dispatched to confront the Guardian editor. Ronson accused the Guardian of fomenting anti-Semitic attacks, stating that "There is a line which can't be crossed, you've crossed it, and you must stop this."

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the program are those who refused to talk on camera. Oborne describes how while gathering material for the show, he was subjected to taunts from a Member of Parliament who stated that "You would never have the guts to make a television program about the pro-Israel lobby." The MP explained that it was "the most powerful lobby by far in parliament. It's a big story. If you have any balls you'll make a program about it." Like many others approached, the MP who made those comments declined when Oborne asked to interview him on camera. One can only hope that this is will be the first of many programs to expose the influence and implications of the pro-Israel lobby on British politics and policies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Privatization of Fisheries Hurts Family Fishermen

There are few places where the term “family fisherman” has more meaning than here in Ballard.

Our Fishermen’s Terminal houses one of the largest commercial fleets on the West Coast and affords locals the opportunity to purchase fish right off a boat or near the docks at the Wild Seafood Exchange.

Unfortunately, there are also few places where the fight between anonymous, large-scale corporate ownership and small-scale family fishermen is more apparent.

Driving over the Ballard Bridge, you can witness this clear division in the industry: factory trawlers bearing the logos of large, transnational seafood companies dwarf the family fishing boats boats tied to the Terminal docks.

This physical juxtaposition of small versus large embodies the struggle currently playing out on the national stage over the privatization of our fisheries.

Fisheries privatization is not a new concept, especially in Washington, where the halibut and black cod fisheries have been privatized since 1995, and the King and Sea Snow crab fisheries have been privatized since 2004.

Although referred to by myriad of different and often confusing names (IFQs, rationalization, catch shares, etc.), at its core privatization takes our federal fisheries (a public trust resource) and gives away the right to fish them, for free, to the entities that caught the most fish in the past.

Some of the time this system rewards talented and experienced fishermen; more of the time it rewards the big boats who fished the hardest, the fastest and often the least-sustainably – the same big boats that are anchored in the well-traveled channel between Lake Union and Puget Sound.

Ultimately, privatization leads to consolidation of fishing fleets and the effects are felt throughout the fishing industry.

In 2002, the Fishermen’s Terminal was opened to pleasure boats because there were not enough commercial vessels to fill the spaces. Nearby ports like Edmonds and Everett underwent a more drastic transformation, and their traditional commercial fleet has essentially vanished.

When the Alaska King and Sea Snow crab fisheries were privatized, the biggest winners were industry giants Trident Seafoods and Peter Pan Seafoods, who received a combined 40 percent of the total quota.

And the biggest losers? The nearly 1,000 fishermen whose jobs were eliminated in course of a year as ownership of the crab industry was consolidated in the hands of a powerful few.

This past summer, another stronghold of Washington’s fishing industry, the Pacific Groundfish fishery, was also privatized.

The proposed changes are expected to reduce the commercial fleet from 150 boats to around 50. They will eliminate an estimated 500 jobs, reducing the fleet to only the largest, most “efficient” trawlers.

At the heart of this conflict between Washington’s traditional fishing communities and the large corporations that have come to dominate the industry, are both the values we hold as a community and the more pragmatic question of keeping local fishermen – and the communities that depend on them – economically vital.

Independent fishermen have relied on generations of accumulated experience and local knowledge to bring fresh, high-quality and locally caught seafood to our dinner tables.

Their work also supports many other community businesses, such as Ballard Oil, Captain’s Nautical Supplies and Ballard Brothers Burgers and Seafood.

In contrast, the larger vessels – along with their job opportunities and profits – often serve foreign interests and therefore invest less in the local economy.

For these corporations, fishing is not about a way of life but rather, in the words of Greenpeace, about "making a good rate of return on their global investment capital."

The good news is that the way we manage our fisheries is not set in stone, and that we, as concerned citizens, have the opportunity to demand accountability and reform.

Volunteers with the Fair Fish Campaign, a national effort to support family fishermen and protect our oceans, have gathered more than 700 public comment cards urging Maria Cantwell, the chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard, to call for hearings on catch shares.

On Nov. 24, we will deliver those postcards to Cantwell’s federal office in downtown Seattle, setting in motion a mandate for reform that will embody both our traditional ideals and vision for a sustainable future.

Please join us and take advantage of this opportunity to have your voice heard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Yorkers Tell Baseball Commish: 'Strike Out Israeli Settlements!'

By Adalah-NY

Over fifty human rights advocates gathered outside the office of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in midtown Manhattan at lunch time today to demand that he prevent the New York Mets from hosting a Citi Field fundraiser for a Jewish group that supports violence and racism against Palestinians. The protest came two weeks after eleven organizations sent a letter to the Mets and Commissioner Selig asking them to cancel the event for the Hebron Fund at the Caesars Club, which is located directly above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field. The groups said that the event would “taint” the Mets and Major League Baseball’s commitment to diversity and equality, and insult the memory of Jackie Robinson.

Save Gaza! Vigil on Saturday, 11/21, Noon at Westlake Park

Saturday, November 21

Noon-2:00 pm

Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine

"Do you think you have seen it all?" Click here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Bantustans and the Unilateral Declaration of Statehood" -- Virginia Tilley
Part of article below; link to whole article above
In fact, the briefest consideration should instantly reveal that a unilateral declaration of statehood will confirm the Palestinians' presently impossible situation as permanent. As Mofaz predicted, a unilateral declaration will allow "final status" talks to continue. What he did not spell out is that those talks will become truly pointless because Palestinian leverage will be reduced to nothing. As Middle East historian Juan Cole recently pointed out, the last card the Palestinians can play -- their real claim on the world's conscience, the only real threat they can raise to Israel's status quo of occupation and settlement -- is their statelessness. The PA-Ramallah leadership has thrown away all the other cards. It has stifled popular dissent, suppressed armed resistance, handed over authority over vital matters like water to "joint committees" where Israel holds veto power, savagely attacked Hamas which insisted on threatening Israel's prerogatives, and generally done everything it can to sweeten the occupier's mood, preserve international patronage (money and protection), and solicit promised benefits (talks?) that never come. It's increasingly obvious to everyone watching from outside this scenario -- and many inside it -- that this was always a farce. For one thing, the Western powers do not work like the Arab regimes: when you do everything the West requires of you, you will wait in vain for favors, for the Western power then loses any benefit from dealing more with you and simply walks away.

But more importantly, the South African comparison helps illuminate why the ambitious projects of pacification, "institution building" and economic development that the Ramallah PA and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have whole-heartedly embarked upon are not actually exercises in "state-building." Rather, they emulate with frightening closeness and consistency South Africa's policies and stages in building the Bantustan/Homelands. Indeed, Fayyad's project to achieve political stability through economic development is the same process that was openly formalized in the South African Homeland policy under the slogan "separate development." That under such vulnerable conditions no government can exercise real power and "separate development" must equate with permanent extreme dependency, vulnerability and dysfunctionality was the South African lesson that has, dangerously, not yet been learned in Palestine -- although all the signals are there, as Fayyad himself has occasionally admitted in growing frustration. But declaring independence will not solve the problem of Palestinian weakness; it will only concretize it.

Still, when "separate development" flounders in the West Bank, as it must, Israel will face a Palestinian insurrection. So Israel needs to anchor one last linchpin to secure Jewish statehood before that happens: declare a Palestinian "state" and so reduce the "Palestinian problem" to a bickering border dispute between putative equals. In the back halls of the Knesset, Kadima political architects and Zionist liberals alike must now be waiting with bated breath, when they are not composing the stream of back-channel messages that is doubtless flowing to Ramallah encouraging this step and promising friendship, insider talks and vast benefits. For they all know what's at stake, what every major media opinion page and academic blog has been saying lately: that the two-state solution is dead and Israel will imminently face an anti-apartheid struggle that will inevitably destroy Jewish statehood. So a unilateral declaration by the PA that creates a two-state solution despite its obvious Bantustan absurdities is now the only way to preserve Jewish statehood, because it's the only way to derail the anti-apartheid movement that spells Israel's doom.

This is why it is so dangerous that the South African Bantustan comparison has been neglected until now, treated as a side issue, even an exotic academic fascination, to those battling to relieve starvation in Gaza and soften the cruel system of walls and barricades to get medicine to the dying. The Ramallah PA's suddenly serious initiative to declare an independent Palestinian state in non-sovereign territory must surely force fresh collective realization that this is a terribly pragmatic question. It's time to bring closer attention to what "Bantustan" actually means. The Palestinian national movement can only hope someone in its ranks undertakes that project as seriously as Israel has undertaken it before it's too late.

O'odham: Surviving Apartheid on the Illegal Border

This article refers to the O'odham people, who are fighting a wall being built on their traditional land which straddles the Arizona/Mexico border.

Here is part of the article ( explaining their struggles on the U.S. Mexico border:
"We do follow a traditional order," he said of the O'odham leadership in Mexico. He said that neither the Tohono O'odham Nation nor the Mexico government can dictate to the O'odham in Mexico. The O'odham traditional form of government is not written down, but it is known to the O'odham.

Julian said O'odham in Mexico have fought a toxic waste dump planned for their ceremonial community of Quitovac in Sonora, Mexico. O'odham in Mexico first learned about the toxic dump from people in Mexico. Although the Tohono O'odham Nation government knew about it earlier, the nation was not concerned with it, he said.

Activist groups across the Southwest helped traditional O'odham in Sonora fight this toxic dump, he said.

Julian said when 9/11 occurred Homeland Security brought in expensive vehicles to run over everything in the O'odham homeland, desecrating the land and sacred area. "They build roads wherever they want to."

"Because of 9/11, everyone with brown skin is labeled a terrorist."

Julian said the Tohono O'odham Nation government speaks of sovereignty, but it is not demonstrating sovereignty.

"It is always strings being pulled from somewhere else."

"We survived 500 plus years of that. With this resistance, we're going to last another 500 plus years," he said.

Welcoming guest speaker Ward Churchill, Ofelia Rivas said Churchill has proven to be sympathetic and compassionate about what is happening on the border to Native lands.

During questions, Churchill said it should be the O'odham people who determine an action plan for the border. Churchill said video cameras could be used to curb the level of violence by vigilantes at the border. He said people can follow the Minutemen and other civilian border patrols around with video cameras, as the Black Panthers once did in Oakland. After the Panthers followed Oakland police around with video cameras, police brutality dropped more than 50 percent in six months.

Churchill encouraged Tucson area residents to establish "neighborly" relationships with O'odham to work toward change. He said there is no script for instant social change.

"The process is called ‘a struggle' for a reason."

During his talk, Churchill spoke of Leonard Peltier and Indigenous land rights. He described apartheid formulated in South Africa, which was strict segregation and flagrantly racist. He said people were outraged in the United States about apartheid, but it was adapted from Jim Crow. Jim Crow in the Deep South was an antecedent to apartheid in South Africa.

For Native people, colonizers brought mainstreaming.

"Mainstreaming means assimilation."

Churchill spoke of different forms of colonialism in South Africa, US, Poland and Germany. He spoke of how colonialism affected Native people, pointing out the short life expectancy for Native men as living conditions deteriorated and colonization increased.

Churchill described settler state colonizers and the struggle for decolonization which began in the 1940s.

Speaking of boundaries and walls, Churchill described the wall in Palestine and on O'odham land. Today in the US, O'odham have to go through "checkpoints," just like Palestinians. Churchill compared the lethal actions of Israel toward Palestinians to the US Border Patrol's lethal actions toward O'odham.

He said the dehumanizing of Palestinians is manifest in a similar fashion in the US. This dehumanizing of Indians is apparent in movies like the Oscar winning western "Unforgiven."

Further, he spoke of racial profiling in the US, the popularity of Rush Limbaugh and vigilantes at borders.

Angie Ramon spoke of her son, Bennett Patricio, Jr., who was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol. Bennett was walking home through the desert at 3 a.m. when he was run over. Ramon believes, based on the evidence, that her son was intentionally run over and killed after he walked upon Border Patrol agents involved in a drug transfer. Ramon described her struggle for justice and asked why the US Border Patrol left her son crushed on the highway for so long without transporting him to a hospital.

"I know he must have still been alive," she said, describing how his fingers were still twitching as he lay dying on the highway.

She said both the US Border Patrol and the Tohono O'odham police know what really happened.

Ramon said the Tohono O'odham Nation government has not helped her financially with the case, which she took alone to the Ninth Circuit. She said the tribal government receives funds from the US Border Patrol.

During the event, the crowd enjoyed traditional O'odham tepary beans, baked squash and fry bread, cooked by Ramon and her family.

The event was a fundraiser for the O'odham Solidarity Project.

--Watch videos of this gathering, with additional O'odham interviews by Earthcycles and Censored News:

Sawasya: Israel Uses Palestinian Prisoners as Guinea Pigs to Test Drugs
GAZA, (PIC)-- Sawasya center for human rights stated Monday that Israel uses Palestinian prisoners as guinea pigs without their consent to test the efficacy of new drugs manufactured by its health ministry on their bodies, calling for an immediate investigation into this violation.

The center cited as evidence that Israeli interrogators gave prisoner Zuhair Al-Iskafi an injection he never saw before which resulted in losing his hair all over his body permanently, adding that similar incidents happened to other prisoners.

The center appealed to Arab and international media outlets to highlight this serious issue and expose the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian prisoners.

It also called on human rights organizations and the world health organization (WHO) to send a delegation of medical specialists to the occupied Palestinian lands to visit Israeli prisons and examine the detainees who were subjected to these tests.

In another context, the Palestinian prisoner committee reported Sunday that the Israeli administration of Hadarim prison decided to deprive five Palestinian detainees from pursuing their academic studies at Hebrew universities without giving reasons.

The committee called on human rights organizations to intervene and pressure the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to reverse this arbitrary decision taken against the prisoners, asserting that this measure is a prelude to depriving other prisoners from their right to education.

For its part, the popular resistance movement stated Monday that the Palestinian resistance will not rest until it frees all prisoners from Israeli jails.

During a sit-in in solidarity with prisoners held in the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza, spokesman for the movement Abu Ali Azaalan talked about the suffering endured by the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and stressed the need for official and popular action to stop the Israeli violations against them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jewish Voice for Peace -- Hebron Fund Equivalent to KKK
A local New York news report.
A fundraiser to support a Brooklyn-based Jewish group and its settlement in the Middle East is creating controversy in Queens. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

The head of Jewish Voice for Peace offered up some harsh words Tuesday as she and other local pro-Palestinian supporters prepare to take their fight to the streets. They're trying to get the Mets to cancel The Hebron Fund's upcoming charity event at Citi Field.

About 600 people paying up to $300 a plate are expected to attend the event. The proceeds would benefit the Brooklyn-based organization and its settlers in the West Bank.

"The Hebron fund and Hebron in general is an extremely extremist organization," said Rebecca Vilkomerson of the Jewish Voice for Peace. "It's really as if the Mets was hosting the KKK."

About two dozen people are appealing to Major League Baseball officials after striking out with their letter-writing campaign to the Mets.

"You have about 700 Israeli settlers living among 150,000 Palestinians and if you were to go there you would see that the Palestinians are under constant threat of violent and racist attacks by these settlers and this is what the Hebron Fund is supporting," said Adalah New York spokesman Andrew Kadi.

The fund's executive director says the only thing they are supporting is their people.

"The fundraiser we're having is for humanitarian, religious and educational purposes in the city of Hebron to help the Jewish community there," said The Hebron Fund Executive Director Yossi Baumol.

The protesters call the settlements illegal and consider the people who live there are radicals who want to expand at all costs -- all charges the fund denies.

"I feel very sorry for them. And I don't like to be accused of racism. I would say to those who call settlements in Israel illegal, point out to me another place in the world where there is an illegal settlement. No one uses that term," Baumol said.

And while both sides continue to bicker, the Mets are trying to stay out of the fight.

In a statement released Tuesday, the team said, "Citi Field hosts a wide range of events that reflect the diversity of our hometown and the differing views and opinions of New Yorkers.... The beliefs of organizations holding events at Citi Field do not necessarily reflect those of the New York Mets."

Iraq Veterans Against the War in Bi'lin in Solidarity with Palestine

Dialogues Against Militarism report from Israel/Palestine

"A Letter from Gaza: To President Obama"

After explaining the expectations raised by his meeting with Edward Said, his Cairo speech, etc., Haidar Eid, Gaza resident, queries President Obama (Eid's whole letter is here (

Mr. Obama,

Unlike your predecessor, you seem to be a smart man. You must have realized that a two-state solution has been rendered impossible by Israeli colonization of the West Bank, by the war on Gaza, by the construction of the apartheid wall, by the expansion of so-called Greater Jerusalem, and by the increase in the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. You must have realized also that there are 6 million refugees, most of whom live in miserable conditions waiting for courageous, visionary leaders committed to true democracy, human rights and international law to implement UN resolution 194. And yet, you and your State of Secretary, like every U.S. president since 1967, have decided to support Israel in creating conditions that made the two-state solution impossible, impractical and unjust.

Were you a supporter of the Bantustan system in South Africa under the Apartheid system? Are you opposed to equal rights and the transformation of Israel/Palestine into a state for all its citizens? The two-state solution means the Bantustanization of Palestine, a solution you, to our knowledge, never supported for South Africa. Are you, Mr. President, opposed to civic democracy, which is the demand of most Palestinian civil society and grassroots organizations? This is what your role models, Martin Luther King and Steve Biko, died for. Was Nelson Mandela wrong to spend 27 years of his life in pursuit of justice by demanding equality for the indigenous people of South Africa? Do you realize that what you are supporting in the Middle East is a racist solution par excellence? A solution based on "ethnic nationalism". Your Secretary of State and envoy to the Middle East, unashamedly, stood with beaming smiles next to Avigdor Lieberman, who, not only defends openly the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but also calls for a new genocide in Gaza! Do you realize, Mr. President, that this Hitlerite fascist might become Israel's next prime minister, thanks to your administration's complacency and support?

Our only immediate demand is that your administration insures that Israel fulfills its obligations in terms of international law. Is that too much to ask?

Mr. President Barak Hussein Obama,

We, the Palestinian people, are fed up!

Professor Haidar Eid
Gaza, Palestine

Monday, November 16, 2009

"No Way Through" -- Control Alt Shift Video Winner

"Free The Forgotten Bird Of Paradise"
November 16, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- When General Suharto, the west’s man, seized power in Indonesia in the mid-1960s, he offered “a gleam of light in Asia”, rejoiced Time magazine. That he had killed up to a million “communists” was of no account in the acquisition of what Richard Nixon called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in South-east Asia”.

In November 1967, the booty was handed out at an extraordinary conference in a lakeside hotel in Geneva. The participants included the most powerful capitalists in the world, the likes of David Rockefeller, and senior executives of the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, British American Tobacco, Imperial Chemical Industries, American Express, Siemens, Goodyear, US Steel. The president of Time Incorporated, James Linen, opened the proceedings with this prophetic description of globalisation: “We are trying to create a new climate in which private enterprise and developing countries work together for the greater profit of the free world. The world of international enterprise is more than governments . . . It is a seamless web, which has been shaping the global environment at revolutionary speed.”

Suharto had sent a team of mostly US-groomed economists, known as the “Berkeley Boys”. On the first day, salutations were exchanged. On the second day, the Indonesian economy was carved up. This was done in a spectacular way: industry in one room, forests and fisheries in another, banking and finance in another. The ultimate prize was the mineral wealth of West Papua, almost half of a vast and remote island to the north of Australia. A US and European consortium was “awarded” the nickel and gold. The Freeport company of New Orleans got a mountain of copper. Forty-two years later, the gold and copper make more than a million dollars profit every day.

For the Indonesian elite, enrichment was assured. From 1992 to 2004, Freeport provided $33bn in direct and indirect “benefits”, much of it finding its way to the Indonesian military, the real power in the land, which “protects” foreign investments in the manner of a mafia. The reward for the people of West Papua has been a rate of impoverishment double that of the rest of Indonesia, says a World Bank report. At Bintuni Bay, where BP is exploiting natural gas, 56 per cent of the people live in abject poverty. “More than 90 per cent of villages in Papua do not have basic health facilities,” the report noted. In 2005, famine swept the district of Yahukimo, where virgin forests and gas deposits deliver unerring profit. The suffering of West Papuans is seldom reported; the Indonesian government bans foreign journalists and human rights organisations such as Amnesty from the hauntingly beautiful territory known by its indigenous people as “the forgotten bird of paradise”.

When the carve-up of its natural wealth took place, West Papua was not part of but merely claimed by Indonesia, whose former colonial masters, the Dutch, recognised no historical or cultural ties to Jakarta and began to prepare the territory for independence. The Indonesians were having none of it; neither were the Americans, the British and the Australians, who invented a cold-war tale that the Russians were coming. In 1962, the Dutch handed the colony to the United Nations, which promptly gave it “on trust” to Indonesia on condition that the West Papuans would vote on their future.

In 1969, an “Act of Free Choice” took place. The Indonesians hand-picked 1,026 West Pa­pu­an men and ordered them to vote for integration with Jakarta. Guns were pointed at heads, literally. When two West Papuans escaped in a light aircraft, hoping to reach New York and alert the UN general assembly, they were detained by the Australian government after landing at nearby Manus Island, which Australia administered. West Papuan villages wanting a genuine “act of free choice” were strafed and bombed by Indonesia’s US-equipped air force.

West Papua would have slipped into oblivion had it not been for a resistance, the OPM, or Free Papua Movement, whose endurance has defied almost impossible odds. The Indonesians have been unsparing in their oppression, aided by British-made machine guns and Tactica water cannon vehicles. When Suharto was deposed in 1998, the people on the island of Biak celebrated by singing hymns of thanksgiving and raising West Papua’s Morning Star flag. For this, 150 of them were murdered by the ­Indonesian military. In 2004, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage were sentenced to 15 and ten years respectively for raising the flag, an immeasurable act of bravery in a country effectivelly controlled by a Gestapo-style force known as Kopassus, which conducted the genocide in East Timor. According to a study by Yale University, the destruction of West Papuan society is also genocide.

The post-Suharto regime in Jakarta likes to regard itself as a respectable democracy and is vulnerable to pressure on West Papua. In Britain, the mining giant Rio Tinto, formerly a shareholder in Freeport, retains a joint-venture interest that has earned fortunes for the company. On the rare occasions that the British Foreign Office is challenged about the behaviour of Jakarta in West Papua, officials drone about “respecting the territorial integrity of Indonesia”, echoing decades of Foreign Office mendacious apologies for the slaughter in East Timor. The US State Department's reponse is the same.

And yet East Timor slipped Suharto’s leash and is now free, thanks to the resilience of its people and an international network. The people of West Papua deserve nothing less. On 1 December, which West Papuans call their independence day, those exiled in Britain and their supporters will break the silence outside the Indonesian embassy in London.

The Free West Papua Campaign website is To help, email

"No One Deserves to be Raped"

People in the U.S. need to remember this about "honor" killings -- it must be stopped everywhere!

Part of article below; whole article (via Angry Arab Newservice) here:

Gang rapes constitute 11 percent of the estimated 100,000 rapes reported annually, according to national statistics. And while 73 percent of all rapes are committed by attackers known to their victims, in gang rape the opposite is true - 75 percent are committed by strangers.

The swarming assaults are more violent and leave more post-traumatic stress and thoughts of suicide in their victims than other forms of rape, said University of Illinois criminology Professor Sarah Ullman, one of the few researchers who has studied gang rape. The victims are also more subject to ridicule and condemnation than those attacked by individuals.

"It's about the worst thing that can happen to you, and some people can't talk about it at all," said Sylvers, who came to know other survivors as she got older. "But you have to talk. It's very important. You have to find people you trust, and talk it all through."

This is difficult at best.

Janelle White, executive director of San Francisco Women Against Rape, said many rape victims find that when they reach out, they are blamed for the attack - they dressed provocatively, walked unwisely into the dark alley, hung out with the wrong people. That is grievously incorrect and damaging to hear, she said.

"Rape is about wanting to dominate somebody, and sex is just the tool the attacker uses," White said. "Yes, we do want to talk about things women can do to avoid risky situations, but the thing to remember is that nobody deserves to be raped."

The risk factors in the Richmond rape were particularly perilous. After leaving her homecoming dance, the girl walked over to a darkened courtyard known for trouble, the rough young men there were drinking, and she was by herself.

But none of those factors meant the girl gave permission for what happened.

"Gang rape is a hate crime - it's about the rapists' extraordinarily violent way to establish their manhood and dominance over women," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. "It's not about a victim asking for this."

Gideon Levy on Israel's Addiction -- Real News Network

The U.S. population has the same addition. But looking to our "leadership" to stop any of the occupations is foolhardy at this point, as Levy says. They are currently in thrall to the crooks in the financial military industrial complex. If we do not figure out a way to break their "addiction" to this money trough, Levy's pessimism will be justified.

Mike Lukovich

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Palestinian People Will Not Live As Slaves Under Occupation
November 14, 2009

During a conference held at Wattan Media Center, MP Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, exposed the current political situation in the Palestinian territory. "What we see today" declared Dr Barghouti in the opening of his speech "is a deep and concerning political crisis whose origins reside in Israeli policies - international and humanitarian law violations and the ongoing occupation on Palestinian people and their land".

The present decision of President Abbas not to run for a second presidential term confirms the failures of the policies carried out in the last 5 years in the pursuit of creating an independent Palestinian state. Israel has refused to halt settlements expansion and that is blocking the inaction of negotiations. Israel has shown to the world its only intention is to transform Palestine into a land of "Bantustans"" said Barghouti to the press.

Israel has talked about a future Palestinian state without defining borders, without including East Jerusalem as a legitimate capital, without even considering the borders of 4 June 1967. Building state institutions under occupation only creates a self governing authority subjected to Israel’s supremacy.

"We will be unable to freeze settlements expansion or any other Israeli policy of apartheid if we do not engage in a unified strategy against it. Towards this direction diplomatic action is fundamental but is not enough. Non violence resistance is the only means to revive a culture of collective activism among all sectors of the Palestinian people. Powerful models are already spread across several villages in the West Bank. Let’s follow the examples of those Palestinians who succeeded in breaking down sections of the Wall last Friday and yesterday, in Ni’lin and Qalandya, marking the 20th Anniversary of Berlin Wall’s fall."

"In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared the wall and its associated regime contrary to international law and demanded it to be dismantled. There is only one way to prevent occupation power and make Israel respect international law: it is to impose a boycott and sanctions campaign on it. Israel benefits from a disunited Palestinian leadership. Palestinians must adopt a new approach and support an appropriate national reconciliation strategy. In this framework, elections cannot become an instrument of further division: on the contrary fully democratic and transparent elections must be called for the Palestinian people as a whole."

"We witness today the complete death of the so called peace process" concluded Barghouti "but nothing will prevent the Palestinian people from declaring their independent state. Israel does not respect the law and it contravenes Oslo agreements, increasing the number of illegal settlements in West Bank, perpetrating the siege on Gaza and stealing Palestinian land with the ongoing construction of the wall. Why should a declaration of an independent state on June 4 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem constitute a violation of the Oslo agreement?"

"We refuse to be slaves of occupation, slaves in ghettos."

"Power, Illusion, and America’s Last Taboo"

Part of John Pilger's Speech below; whole thing here:

In the 1950s, we never expected the great wind of the 1960s to blow. Feel the breeze today. In the last eight months millions of angry emails, sent by ordinary Americans, have flooded Washington. This has not happened before. People are outraged as their lives are attacked; they bear no resemblance to the massive mass presented by the media.

Look at the polls that are seldom reported. More than two thirds of Americans say the government should care for those who cannot care for themselves; 64 percent would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone; 59 percent are favorable towards unions; 70 percent want nuclear disarmament; 72 percent want the US completely out of Iraq; and so on.

For too long, ordinary Americans have been cast in stereotypes that are contemptuous. That is why the progressive attitudes of ordinary people are seldom reported in the media. They are not ignorant. They are subversive. They are informed. And they are “anti-American”.

I once asked a friend, the great American war correspondent and humanitarian Martha Gellhorn, to explain “anti-American” to me. “I’ll tell you what ‘anti-American’ is,” she said. “It’s what governments and their vested interested call those who honor America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these anti-Americans in the United States. They are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms, though they would call it common decency. They are not vain. They are the people with a wakeful conscience, the best of America’s citizens. They can be counted on. They were in the south with the Civil Rights movement, ending slavery. They were in the streets, demanding an end to the wars in Asia. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional.”

A certain populism is once again growing in America and which has a proud, if forgotten past. In the nineteenth century, an authentic grassroots Americanism was expressed in populism’s achievements: women’s suffrage, the campaign for an eight-hour day, graduated income tax and public ownership of railways and communications, and breaking the power of corporate lobbyists.

The American populists were far from perfect; at times they would keep bad company, but they spoke from the ground up, not from the top down. They were betrayed by leaders who urged them to compromise and merge with the Democratic Party. Does that sound familiar?

What Obama and the bankers and the generals, and the IMF and the CIA and CNN fear is ordinary people coming together and acting together. It is a fear as old as democracy: a fear that suddenly people convert their anger to action and are guided by the truth. “At a time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth a revolutionary act.”

Jewish Voice for Peace -- Airing AIPAC's Dirty Laundry

From the JVP Invititation:

We are doing a theatrical protest of the AIPAC (American Israel Public
Affairs Committee) dinner this Sunday. AIPAC generally lobbies for lots of military aid and money to support the occupation of Palestine.
But right now, in particular, they just lobbied to get a resolution
passed in the House that condemns the Goldstone report, which is a well researched UN report of war crimes committed during the war on Gaza last January by both Israel and Hamas.
The Goldstone report includes some very disturbing findings about Israeli war crimes, and AIPAC is working to cover these up.

We are planning a very creative demonstration that involves a
brass band, and hanging the dirty laundry of the Goldstone
report. All are welcome to join us!