Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Georgia Prison Hunger Strikers Endure, Call GA Governor at 404-656-1776, and Fast on Monday July 2

  via Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report
Since [June] 11, at least ten, and possibly more prisoners at Jackson GA have refused food, vowing to fast till death if they cannot receive medical care, visitation and fair, transparent status reviews. The state of Georgia is adamant, reportedly threatening the prisoners with death where they are rather than even hospitalize or closely monitor their deteriorating condition.
Georgia Prison Hunger Strikers Endure, Call GA Governor at 404-656-1776, and Fast on Monday July 2
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Georgia's massive Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson is the place where Troy Davis was murdered by the state last year. It may be the place where state authorities manage to kill more prisoners this year. On June 11, ten prisoners, most or all of whom have been in solitary confinement for 17 and half months, since the courageous and peaceful strike by Georgia prisoners in December 2010, began refusing food.
They demanded medical care, including but not limited to care for injuries sustained in the wave of retaliatory beatings which were the state's response to the December 2010 strike, when more than one prisoner was beaten into coma and paralysis. In the past year and a half, Miguel Jackson and other prisoners whom the state appears to believe were leaders of the December 2010 strike have been denied showers for weeks and months on end. They demanded access to these basic needs, and the restoral of the meager personal property inmates are allowed to accumulate behind the walls. They demanded that authorities cease arbitrarily removing the visitation privileges of their families and their ability to access legal books and other assistance. They demanded that the Department of Corrections follow its own procedures and review the status of prisoners in punitive isolation at 30 day intervals, and that the hearings and their records be public.
These are dignified, peaceful, minimal demands,” declared Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the TOPS Society and the Prodigal Child Project. After more than two weeks, the men are starving and their health is in great danger. Would the state of Georgia rather let these men die than give them medical care? Is that what we' ve come to?
It's time to call the warden at Jackson Prison, to call the governor, to call the Department of Corrections in respectful support of the dignified demands of these prisoners. It's time to call today and not delay. This is a matter of life and death and human dignity.
If you're in Atlanta you can join us at Thursday at 6:30 PM at Project South [4], 9 Gammon Avenue for a film screening on prisons as social control and a discussion afterward. This is your chance to connect with real people trying to do something in the real world about the prison state. You can also join us Friday from 10AM to 2PM on the steps of the state capitol, the Washington Street side, for a press c onference and rally demanding humane and civilized treatment of our brothers and sisters behind the walls, and especially for the relief of the hunger strikers at Jackson. “And whether you're in Atlanta or not, we want you to join us for a one day fast Monday, July 2, in solidarity with Georgia's prisoners, who are themselves victims of brutal crimes committed by the state. Prisoners are are brothers, our uncles, our nieces and our daughters, our sons and our cousins. When we allow them to be confined with education, without recreation, with due process and without dignity or hope we debase ourselves and disgrace each other.
Call Georgia's governor Nathan Deal right now, and tell him we are better than that. Ask him to do the right thing.”
The call for a one-day solidarity fast on Monday is being repeated in churches and communities around metro Atlanta and beyond.
The Georgia Green Party endorses Monday's solidarity fast,” said spokesperson Hugh Esco. “We hope that people of faith and others will join it, and will spread the word. The US has 2.4 million prisoners, far more than anyplace else on earth. African-Americans are 12% of our people, but more than 40% of the locked down. Latinos are 13% but almost 30% of all prisoners. That means 70% of US prisoners come from the 25 percent of our population that is non-white.
Our nation's over-reliance upon prisons as answers to homelessness, to mental illness, to drug use has taken a terrific toll on our families and communities and futures. It's time that people in Georgia and across the country work to roll back the prison state. We hope you'll sign the petition to Georgia's governor at [5], to forward it widely, along with whatever news becomes available of the strikers' status. We hope you will join the fast on Monday July 2 in solidarity with the prisoners, and tell your pastor, your family, your friends and co-workers about it.
And above all, we need you to call Jackson Prison, 404-656-1776, the Georgia Department of Corrections and the governor to demand fairness for the men behind the walls, some of whom have not eaten since June 11. The state should also release the names of all those it has placed under close confinement at Jackson and spell out in public why they are confined there. Secret imprisonment without public trial has been illegal since the 13th century, and this is the 21st.”
Black Agenda Report will follow this story with a Friday update, containing interviews with the family members of the strikers, and more about Monday's solidarity fast. Meanwhile, check the phone numbers below and make the calls. The clock is running. Those behind the walls are doing all they can. Their fate is in our hands.

Childhood Remnants -- Children in Silwan, Palestine

From Ziad Abbas:

Since MECA last wrote to you about the remarkable work of the Madaa Creative Center and their need to buy the building they’ve been renting, MECA supporters like you have given a total of $11,030. 

Now, we have just 34 days to raise the remaining $32,000 they need by July 31, 2012 to purchase the building. Owning the building will help our partners feel more stable and secure, and allow them to focus on creative projects.

As the video shows, children in Silwan are forced to grow up without a childhood; they are regularly targeted for arrest, and subjected to interrogation and police brutality. Madaa, a local, grassroots initiative of the people of Silwan, offers help to children who have suffered this trauma and their families.

Now, I hope you’ll help Madaa purchase the building that houses the support program Madaa began for children who have been arrested, as well as the youth club and music, dance, theater, art and women’s activities.

Rio+20 Ends in Failure, Corporate Capture by Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch Blog

The United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil concluded this past weekend with no new government pledges. On the other hand, multinationals scored a public relations victory by claiming that they will implement $50 billion of sustainable changes to help save the environment, under an initiative led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The conference was supposed to take advantage of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro to commit to further efforts to save the global environment.

But the final inter-governmental declaration of the 2012 conference was widely panned. “The text was so anodyne there was nothing in it which could be disagreed. So the talks fell, in tumult, to a lifeless ocean,” writes Fiona Harvey at the Guardian.

“We’ve sunk so low in our expectations that reaffirming what we did 20 years ago is now considered a success,” said Martin Khor, executive director of the Geneva-based South Centre and a member of the UN Committee on Development Policy.

They came, they talked, but they failed to act. Paralysed by inertia and in hock to vested interests, too many leaders were unable to join up the dots and solve the connected crisis of environment, equality and economy,” wrote Wisdom Mdzungari in of Zimbabwe.

Not so multinationals. Chad Holliday, chairman of the Bank of America and former president of DuPont, who co-chaired the the UN led Sustainable Energy For All initiative, was quoted in New Scientist saying: "Companies are here because they see opportunities."

“Microsoft has committed to going carbon neutral and will be rolling out an internal carbon fee that will apply to Microsoft’s business operations in over 100 countries. Italian energy company Eni has earmarked approximately $5 billion to achieve its gas flaring and carbon intensity reduction goals; and, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed approximately $5 billion to commercialize affordable zero-emission vehicles,” boast the United Nations in an official statement.

“Bank of America has set a ten year $50 billion environmental business goal. the World Bank Group has committed to doubling the leverage of its energy portfolio by mobilizing private, donor and public contributions to World Bank-supported projects."

Twenty years ago, at the original 1992 Earth Summit, similar pledges were made by the World Bank and a number of multinationals, yet today emissions of greenhouse gases in a number of countries exceeded worst case estimates.

For example at the Earth Summit in 1992, 170 nations agreed to voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. At the Kyoto protocol meeting in 1997 countries agreed to cut emissions by an average of 5 percent by 2012.

However, in April 2012, the U.S. announced that its greenhouse gas emissions were 10.5 percent above 1990 levels. Canada was over by 17 percent and Spain by 30 percent. Not all did that badly - Germany cut emissions by 25 percent.

The new Sustainable Energy For All pledges represent just a drop in the bucket, say activists. Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace noted: “The epic failure of Rio+20 was a reminder [that] short-term corporate profit rules over the interests of people…They spend $1 trillion a year on subsidies for fossil fuels and then tell us they don’t have any money to give to sustainable development,” he told the Guardian.

Some activists say that the initiative is just “greenwash” and that the Sustainable Energy For All initiative proves that the UN has sold out to corporate interests. “Governmental positions have been hijacked by corporate interests linked to polluting industries,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Bans Mandatory Life-Without-Parole Sentences for Children Convicted of Homicide

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, sentenced to life in prison without parole at 14, are now entitled to new sentencing hearings. Today’s ruling will affect hundreds of individuals whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.

The Court today struck down statutes in 29 states that provide for mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children, reasoning that mandatory imposition of life-without-parole sentences on children “contravenes Graham’s (and also Roper’s) foundational principle: that imposition of a State’s most severe penalties on juvenile offenders cannot proceed as though they were not children.”

"This is an important win for children. The Court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don't allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change," said Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represents Jackson and Miller. "The Court has recognized that children need additional attention and protection in the criminal justice system.”

Today’s decision requires the lower courts to conduct new sentencing hearings where judges will have to consider children’s individual characters and life circumstances, including age, as well as the circumstances of the crime.

al-Araqib to Rise Again for the 40th Time

NEGEV (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished Bedouin village al-Araqib for the 39th time on Monday, a lawyer said.

Ayman Odeh, who witnessed the demolition, told Ma'an that demolishing people's homes should not be a routine for Israel.

Israel considers al-Araqib and all Bedouin villages in the Negev illegal, while Bedouins say it is their ancestral land.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And the Good Ship Greece Sails On: ‘Letter’ [from Greek economist] to an Italian Colleague

While they are dithering, fiddling as Athens, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin are burning, our societies are descending into a mire in which hope vanishes, prospects are annihilated, life is cheapened, and where the only winners are the misanthropes, the ‘haters’, the seekers of scapegoats in the form of the ‘alien’, the Jew, the ‘different’, the ‘other’. As the lights are literally going out in my country, with families ‘choosing’ to have their electricity supply discontinued in order to put food on the dinner table, thugs ‘patrol’ the streets in search of the ‘enemy’. Nazi ideology is getting another chance, like hunger and dispossession, to infect, once again, our social fabric. And as our institutions, our trades unions, our cultural norms and organisations are turning into empty shells, little, if anything, stands in the way of the bigots, the racists, the exploiters of generalized pain and helplessness. Alas, the serpent’s egg is hatching again in Europe, and for the same reasons it did back then.

Your country and mine share a lot more of this sorry history than we care to admit. Before the war, both our societies spawned and tolerated fascist regimes. Your Mussolini and our Metaxas may have ended up waging war against one another, but they were both products of political failures and economic disasters that are eerily similar to the shared fate of our two countries today. I know that a strange and weird geography is at work in Europe today: Ireland is at pains to argue that it is not Greece, Portugal to claim that it is not Ireland, Spain screams that it is not Portugal and, of course, Italy wants to believe that it is not Spain. We must, I submit to you, cast this idiotic denial of our common malaise aside. Sure, Italy is not Greece but, nevertheless, the predicament that Italy is increasingly finding itself in as I am writing these lines cannot be usefully separated from the predicament of my country. Our disease may have resulted in a higher fever than the one you are experiencing but, believe me, it is the same virus. Your fever will rise tomorrow to the level at which ours is today.

Many people I know outside of Greece, including fellow economists, make the mistake of thinking of what Greece is experiencing as a deep recession. Let me tell you that this is no recession. This is a depression. What is the difference? Recessions are mere downturns. Periods of reduced economic activity and increased unemployment. As you and I teach our students, recessions are to capitalism that which Hell is to Christianity: unpleasant but essential for the ‘system’ to function. Periods of recession can be redemptive, in the sense that they ‘weed out’ of the economic eco-system the less efficient, the firms that should not really be in business, the products that are out of fashion, the productive techniques that are obsolete, the dinosaurs to coin a metaphor.

However, what is going on in Greece is no recession! Here, everyone is going under. Efficient and inefficient alike. Productive and unproductive. Potentially profitable and loss making enterprises. I know of factories that export everything they make to satisfied customers, that have full order books, a long history of profitability; and, yet, they are on the brink of bankruptcy. Why? Because their foreign suppliers will not accept their bankers’ guarantees in order to provide them with the necessary raw materials, as no one trusts the Greek banks anymore. But with the credit circuits well and truly broken, this Crisis is sinking every ship, wrecking every boat, ensuring that the whole of society drowns. And the more we cut wages, the more we increase taxes, the more we reduce benefits to the unemployed, the deeper the hole into which everyone is drawn. If anyone wants to explain the concept of a vicious circle, today’s Greece is a perfect case study.

Tax Dollars at War -- Al Jazeera Frames [53% of Your Taxes Fund War]]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

U.S. Crimes Against Humanity? History is the Enemy as 'Brilliant' Psy-ops Become the News -- John Pilger
June 21, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could.
Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses. During its invasion of Vietnam, the United States sprayed a defoliant herbicide on vegetation and villages to deny "cover to the enemy". This was Agent Orange, which contained dioxin, poisons of such power that they cause foetal death, miscarriage, chromosomal damage and cancer.

In 1970, a US Senate report revealed that "the US has dumped [on South Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head of population, including woman and children". The code-name for this weapon of mass destruction, Operation Hades, was changed to the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand.  Today, an estimated 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange are children.

Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, recently returned from Vietnam with a letter for the International Olympic Committee from the Vietnam Women's Union. The union's president, Nguyen Thi  Thanh  Hoa, described "the severe congenital deformities [caused by Agent Orange] from generation to generation". She asked the IOC to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation, which was one of the companies that manufactured the poison and has refused to compensate its victims.

Aldis hand-delivered the letter to the office of Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee. He has had no reply. When Amnesty International pointed out that in 2001 Dow Chemical acquired "the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak [in India in 1984] which killed 7,000 to 10,000 people immediately and 15,000 in the following twenty years", David Cameron described Dow as a "reputable company". Cheers, then, as the TV cameras pan across the £7 million decorative wrap that sheathes the Olympic stadium: the product of a 10-year "deal" between the IOC and such a reputable destroyer.

History is buried with the dead and deformed of Vietnam and Bhopal. And history is the new enemy. On 28 May, President Obama launched a campaign to falsify the history of the war in Vietnam. To Obama, there was no Agent Orange, no free fire zones, no turkey shoots, no cover-ups of massacres, no rampant racism, no suicides (as many Americans took their own lives as died in the war), no defeat by a resistance army drawn from an impoverished society. It was, said Mr. Hopey Changey, "one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of [US] military history".

The following day, the New York Times published a long article documenting how Obama personally selects the victims of his drone attacks across the world. He does this on "terror Tuesdays" when he browses through mug shots on a "kill list", some of them teenagers, including "a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years". Many are unknown or simply of military age. Guided by "pilots" sitting in front of computer screens in Las Vegas, the drones fire Hellfire missiles that suck the air out of lungs and blow people to bits. Last September, Obama killed a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, purely on the basis of hearsay that he was inciting terrorism. "This one is easy," he is quoted by aides as saying as he signed the man's death warrant. On 6 June, a drone killed 18 people in a village in Afghanistan, including women, children and the elderly who were celebrating a wedding.

The New York Times article was not a leak or an expose. It was a piece of PR designed by the Obama administration to show what a tough guy the 'commander-in-chief' can be in an election year. If re-elected, Brand Obama will continue serving the wealthy, pursuing truth-tellers, threatening countries, spreading computer viruses and murdering people every Tuesday.

The threats against Syria, co-ordinated in Washington and London, scale new peaks of hypocrisy. Contrary to the raw propaganda presented as news, the investigative journalism of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung identifies those responsible for the massacre in Houla as the 'rebels' backed by Obama and Cameron. The paper's sources include the rebels themselves. This has not been completely ignored in Britain. Writing in his personal blog, ever so quietly, Jon Williams, the BBC world news editor, effectively dishes his own 'coverage', citing western officials who describe the 'psy-ops' operation against Syria as 'brilliant'. As brilliant as the destruction of Libya, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.

And as brilliant as the psy-ops of the Guardian's latest promotion of Alastair Campbell, the chief collaborator of Tony Blair in the criminal invasion of Iraq. In his "diaries", Campbell tries to splash Iraqi blood on the demon Murdoch. There is plenty to drench them all. But recognition that the respectable, liberal, Blair-fawning media was a vital accessory to such an epic crime is omitted and remains a singular test of intellectual and moral honesty in Britain.

How much longer must we subject ourselves to such an "invisible government"?  This term for insidious propaganda, first used by Edward Bernays the nephew of Sigmund Freud and inventor of modern public relations, has never been more apt.  "False reality" requires historical amnesia, lying by omission and the transfer of significance to the insignificant. In this way, political systems promising security and social justice have been replaced by piracy, "austerity" and "perpetual war": an extremism dedicated to the overthrow of democracy. Applied to an individual, this would identify a psychopath. Why do we accept it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From the Blog Beyond Compromise: A Palestinian's Story -- Journey to the Back cover by Maath Musleh
“A Palestinian’s story” this is what I tell people when they ask me about my story. Our story is the story of a struggle followed by a story of treason. And then it is just like a scratched CD in my car. The story keeps repeating. And we anxiously work on cleaning the scratches to listen to the end of the song, looking forward for a happy ending.

My grandparents fought the Zionists in 1948. My grandfather in the village of Salama, along with the whole village, held up arms to defend their small village near Yafa from a Zionist invasion. For months they fought bravely with heads held up high. Until one day, they ran out of bullets, the residents sent a letter to the Arab leadership asking for ammunition to carry on their defense. Simple words from the Arab leadership shattered their hopes, “give up Salama, we cannot help”. With tears in their eyes and bloody hearts, my mother’s family was forced to leave their homes. They are now refugees, from Salma to Amaari refugee camp in Ramallah to Amman.

The story of my hometown BeitSafafa was stained with the same Arab treason as well. Safafians defended the village from continuous Zionist attacks especially from Ramat Rahil settlement. Months of bloody battles ended with a victory to the village. Zionists failed in occupying BeitSafafa. The spring of 1949, witnessed the signing of the so-called truce between the Zionists and Jordan. But the story was far from an end for BeitSafafa. The Zionists demanded the control over the railway that cuts BeitSafafa in half. And they got behind closed doors what they failed to get in war. My great grandfather refused to give up. He left his family in the house that became under the Jordanian control, and he remained in his factory in the Zionist controlled side of BeitSafafa. Soon after in 1950, the Zionist state forcibly hijacked all his property and expelled him to the Jordanian-controlled side of BeitSafafa. And we were granted a refugee status.

The second generation after the Nakba was my parents’ generation. They decided to struggle to retain back what was stolen from their parents in 1948. They met in the Soviet Union both studying medicine. That is where I was born. And their struggle ended in the first Intifada with treason from the Palestinian leadership. And the winds took us to Dubai. At an age of four I had no say in that decision.

I am the third generation of the Nakba. I was destined to grow up far from home, despite the annual visits back home. I grew up on the stories of struggle of my people. In a comfortable society far from home, I grew up with despair. I grew with roots above the ground waiting for the day I go back home and implant those roots in its right place. In 2007, I graduated from the American University in Dubai. I left my past behind me and returned to where my heart belong, Palestine. And all I was hoping for is to find my place in the next cycle of struggle. And day after day I feel that I am getting close to take the spin. I took an oath on myself; this would and should be the last cycle of struggle. And it will be.

This is a Palestinian’s story in short. It is filled with details of despair and hope, sadness and joy. But we have not reached the back cover of the book. Few pages remains and my generation will write the ending of this story.

Robin Hood Tax: Small Change for Banks; Big Change for Us

Dutch Play Soccer for Palestinian Hunger-Strikers! Great Video!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stop the Israeli Demolition of Susiya!

Call to Action to Israelis: Protest the Demolition of Entire Palestinian Village

The Palestinian village of Susya in Area C of the southern West Bank is under threat of imminent destruction, following the June 7 decision by the Supreme Court to issue demolition orders for the 52 structures that comprise the village. The decision is based on the fact that Palestinians there are building illegally without permits – like essentially everywhere in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank – where  Israel has a clear policy of  prohibiting Palestinians from building, not to mention getting on the electricity and water grids. (Read Nasser Nawaj’ah’s personal account of the history and status of Susya here).

Residents of Susya suffer from continuous harassment and abuse by Israeli settlers and by the army. For over a decade, Israeli activists have been trying to assist the people of Susya fight the legal battle to keep them on what is left of their lands, celebrating weddings and births with them, cleaning wells, putting up solar-energy installations in the village, and standing by them in their homes and fields when confronted with settlers and the army.

The Civil Administration (essentially the administrative arm of the IDF that implements occupation policies) has now distributed demolition orders which, if carried out, will destroy the entire village. This means only one thing: cruel and violent expulsion.

Unlike the Ulpana settlement affair, no one will offer the residents of Susya any reimbursement. They will receive no alternative housing. No one will speak of a housing arrangement during the interim period. The state will not offer to relocate their homes.

I have been to Susya many times and feel a personal connection to the people and the place, which has no representation or say in its own livelihood. It is completely subject to the whims of Israel’s policies of discrimination, oppression, and ultimately, cleansing, which even Israel’s so-called “leftist” Supreme Court has endorsed.
Children of Susya (photo: Ela Greenberg)

I am turning to all readers -those of you who are in Israel: Please spread the word and come with us to the protest vigil on Friday. Those of you who are abroad: we urge you to make your protest known, urgently, in whatever ways you can, in the media, in appeals to your representatives in government and in high positions, to anyone who can intervene.

Although the Occupation as a whole aims at dispossessing Palestinian civilians as its sole raison d’etre, only rarely have we seen an attempt like this to drive out an entire village in one fell swoop. This of course, has barely gotten any attention in Israeli news, much less the international media.

If their village is demolished, the residents of Palestinian Susya will simply be driven into the desert, and not for the first time. Since the establishment of the nearby Israeli settlement of Susya in 1983, the residents of Palestinian Susya were evicted from their lands four times.

This is not the first time the Palestinians of Susya have been expelled from their lands; we must not let it happen again.
Join us this Friday June 22nd.  For more information, feel free to email me and I will put you in touch with relevant contacts

Is a Military Drone Base Coming to Your Hometown? [In our case, yes]

Fort Lewis here in Tacoma already has drones, according to the highlighted link below.  Linda

Death-dealing drones buzzing above may be a constant worry for militants in far-flung lands, but now more of America’s aerial assassins and their spying compatriots could be coming to your backyard — just for testing and training, according to the Department of Defense.
The military has identified 110 potential bases for drone operations at military installations in 39 states, from Georgia to California, according to a new Defense Department report dated April 2012 and published online late last week by the Federation of American Scientists. The U.S. bases could support all kinds of drones, from the deadly, missile-capable Predators to the next-generation surveillance Global Hawks.
CLICK HERE to download the full DoD report with list of potential drone base locations (PDF).
Drone testing and operator training are already done in the U.S., but the report noted that the “strong demand” from the military’s various branches for expanded access to domestic airspace, which is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, has “quickly exceeded the current airspace available for these activities.”
The report says that under current policy, the military has to obtain temporary permission to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) outside its own restricted airspace.
Earlier this month the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said in a defense budget bill that the government needs to speed up the process in which drones are integrated into the national airspace.
“Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS [National Airspace System], UAS development and training — and ultimately operational capabilities — will be severely impacted,” the committee said in its report.
The Defense Department report’s public unveiling follows the publication of a list of dozens of “current” drone bases early last week by the anti-secrecy website public intelligence.
The U.S. military currently has 6,316 drones of various types, according to the report, and plans to add another 2,076 by 2017.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Treble Army - Serve The People

Guns for Buddies: U.S. Weapons Sales Surge Overseas

RT via  Rick Rozoff's Stop Nato blog


US foreign military sales have shot over $50 billion. Another record-breaking year is expected thanks to US ally Saudi Arabia, which accounts for three-fifths of the sum.
"We have already surpassed $50 billion in sales in the fiscal year 2012," Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told journalists on Thursday.

Though it is three months till the end of the fiscal year, the figure already shows a 70 per cent increase over government-to-government military deals in 2011. Last year also set a record for the US with sales at some $30 billion.

The sale to Saudi Arabia was very significant,” said Shapiro. The $29.4 billion deal finalized in December included 84 new fighter jets and the modernization of 70 old jets.

Former Canadian diplomat Peter Dale Scott told RT that Saudi’s big contribution to Washington’s revenues may be explained by the long standing “arms for petrol” relations between the two countries.

During the oil price hikes of 1971 and 1973 the US negotiated an agreement to pay Saudi Arabia higher prices for crude, on the understanding that Saudi Arabia would recycle the petrodollars, many of them through arms deals,” said Professor Scott. “So recently the imports of American hardware to Saudi Arabia have grown significantly.”

The record-breaking figure also includes the sale of the Joint Strike Fighter to Japan, which is valued at approximately $10 billion, according to the State Department.

MLK v. Obama

Saturday, June 16, 2012

They're Useless Without Guns -- Scotland 8, Israel 0 -- Solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak 1000

Cantona, FIFA Join Pressure on Israel, as Hunger Striker Mahmoud Sarsak Determined to Reach Freedom or Death

Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak is still on hunger strike and is determined to continue until he dies or Israel agrees to free him, his lawyer Mahmoud Jabarin said today.
The news came as football legend Eric Cantona and other major public figures, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, joined the growing international calls on Israel to free Sarsak and end its abuses of human rights.
After coming close to death on Sunday, Sarsak has agreed to take milk only until Thursday when the Israeli Supreme Court is due to review his case.

Last chance to save him

Ma’an News Agency reports today:
Mahmoud al-Sarsak is on his 86th day of hunger strike but is drinking milk to prolong his life until his court hearing Thursday, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Mohammad Jabarein told Ma’an that Israeli prison officials called him to visit al-Sarsak urgently Sunday because he was in danger of dying. Al-Sarsak was briefly hospitalized that afternoon.
Jabarein met with 15 doctors at the hospital, who said al-Sarsak was at immediate danger of paralysis and losing consciousness.
I decided that al-Sarsak must drink milk,” Jabarein said.
Al-Sarsak was reluctant, but the lawyer said he persuaded him to accept some nutrients so he would survive until his judicial review, which is scheduled for Thursday.
Al-Sarsak agreed to drink milk but would only be fed by his lawyer.
The 25-year-old prisoner has decided that if the Supreme Court does not agree to release him he will refuse all supplements until his death, Jabarein said.
The judicial review Thursday is the “last chance” to save al-Sarsak’s life, Jabarein said.

Life still in danger

Despite his decision to take milk, Sarsak’s life is still in danger, as Ma’an notes:
The prisoner rights group Addameer notes that consuming milk does not break a hunger strike.
A representative of Physicians for Human Rights - Israel told Ma’an that milk is less nutritious than other supplements consumed during a hunger strike, which include vitamins, minerals, salts and glucose.
Drinking milk will not reduce the danger to al-Sarsak’s life, PHRI added.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter urges Israel to act to save Sarsak

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called on the Israeli Football Association (IFA) to urge the Israeli government to act to save Sarsak, whom Blatter said, “is in a very delicate state due to the fact that he has been undergoing a hunger strike for approximately 90 days in protest of his alleged illegal detention.” Blatter’s official statement added:
FIFA urgently calls on IFA to draw the attention of the Israeli competent authorities to the present matter, with the aim of ensuring the physical integrity of the concerned players as well as their right for due process. The matter came to FIFA’s attention following correspondence with the Palestine Football Association, several international media reports concerning the football player Mahmoud Sarsak and a FIFPro media release.
On Friday, FIFPro, the international association of 50,000 professional football players called on Israel to free Sarsak.

Football legend Eric Cantona, other public figures join campaign for Sarsak

Football legend Eric Cantona has co-signed a letter with other international figures including Noam Chomksy, filmmaker Ken Loach, international law expert John Dugard to UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, UEFA President Michel Platini and other European government and sporting bodies to protest Israel’s actions and the complicity of international sporting bodies.
The letter, the text of which was provided to The Electronic Intifada by in an email release states:
We are all shocked at the racist chanting at football matches in Poland and Ukraine where Euro 2012 is being played. Footballing bodies and politicians have been outspoken in their condemnation. Indeed some government officials are boycotting group stage matches in Ukraine because of perceived human rights abuses in that country.
So why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country.
Israeli government ministers respond to mob attacks on black refugees by denouncing them as ‘infiltrators’ and calling for them to be imprisoned in military camps.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them “administrative detainees” held without charge or trial. One of these is a footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, aged 25. He has been imprisoned for nearly three years. No charge, no trial. In desperation, he has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days and is now close to death. He, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.’
  • Eric Cantona, actor and former footballer
  • Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
  • John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
  • Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
  • Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
  • Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
  • Michael Mansfield, QC, UK
  • Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
  • John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
  • Show Racism the Red Card
  • Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
42 Gazan football clubs wrote a letter to UEFA President Michel Platini over a year ago to protest the awarding of the 2013 Under 21 tournament to Israel. They have received

Friday, June 15, 2012

Egypt Moves Towards Outright Dictatorship -- The Real News

More at The Real News

Israel Arrests Ex-soldier Living in Bethlehem

via Aletho News:

Today (Last Update) Time 17:10
Andrey Pshenichnikov was living near Bethlehem.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- A former Israeli soldier was arrested recently by Palestinian Authority forces after living in a Bethlehem refugee camp for the past three weeks, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

"I wanted to prove that it’s possible to live with Palestinians, as long as you are not coming off as an enemy," Andrey Pshenichnikov, 24, was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

Pshenichnikov moved to Bethlehem three months ago and was working as a waiter and construction worker.

He told Haaretz that he had moved to Duheisha refugee camp to become part of the "political struggle for Palestinian rights," and had tried to renounce his Israeli citizenship.

The former solider was born in the Soviet Union and had lived in Israeli for eleven years.

PA forces arrested Pshenichnikov on Israel's request, and he was forced to sign a document agreeing not to enter Palestinian Authority controlled areas, Haaretz said.

He was charged with entering a closed military zone.

Duheisha refugee camp dates back to 1949 and has a population of around 9,000 residents.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Selling Endless War with Fewer GIs Coming Home in Body Bags [Obama's Dronorama]

The weapon, which commanders have dubbed the "Flying Shotgun", has been widely tested by the US Army, US Marines and US Air Force. It has proved so effective that AeroVironment has announced more than US$14m (£9m) worth of Switchblade systems and related engineering contracts in the past 10 months.
The increasing use of drones to target militants under the Obama administration has proved controversial as critics say assassinations conducted by drones amount to extrajudicial killing.  Like larger Predator or Reaper drones, the unmanned Switchblade is flown by a "pilot" who monitors the flight from a video screen.

The Switchblade can loiter above the target before being sent in to strike. It typically flies far lower than other drones, often less than 500ft above the ground and is highly manoeuvrable, allowing it to circle in on a fixed or fleeing target.
The Switchblade is designed for use by small ground units who need to attack nearby targets – snipers on a ridge, rebels on a rooftop or an ambush the next ridge over.

Defence analysts believe warfare in the future will see many more mini armed drones which are now called "loitering munitions" and provide ground troops with a view described as coming from "the tip of the bullet".

However, arms control groups and peace activists see the new weaponry as at best controversial. Bruce Gagnon, the co-ordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, said it would not be long before the drones were being used domestically. "People are beginning to see that these technologies are going to be dual use – meaning over there and back here at home," he said.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Addameer: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel [2011-2012]

via 1948 Lest We Forget

UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Richard Falk Spoke in Seattle 6/8/12

Human Chain in Ramallah in Support of Courageous Hunger Strikers Sirsik & Rikhawi
RAFAH ( -- Human rights activists, journalists, along with key figures in the Gaza Strip formed on Saturday a human chain in solidarity with the Palestinian detainees Mahmoud Sirsik and Akram Rikhawi.

The activists stood side by side though Rafah, holding up posters and pictures of both, Sirsik and Rikhawi. The event called for activating the cause of the two hunger strikers, and lauded their steadfastness in the battle of empty stomachs.  

"This event aims at drawing attention of both the Islamic and Arab worlds to the hazardous situation both hunger strikers are living in", said Hedayah Shamown, coordinator of Campaign for Supporting Sirsik and Rikhawi. "The campaign will last till the battle of both prisoners is over", added Shamown.

Shamown condemned FIFA for silence and ignoring Mahmoud Sirsik's bad health conditions, who has been engaged in a hunger strike for 88 days.

Susan Sirsik, sister of Mahmoud Sirsik, demanded the FIFA to adopt her brother's cause. She pointed out that her brother played for Palestine football team and he is holding a card of international player.
Yassmin Rikhawi, daughter of detainee Akram, expressed her concerns for the life of her father, who has been hunger striking for 60 days.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Rachel Maddows Is "Adrift" -- From Rick Congress's Blog Post on Her Book "Drift"

Read Rick's whole blog post here:
(via Mondoweiss)

There is no "drift." There are a couple of centuries of policy: the US will dominate politically and economically whoever it can. If there's no submission, then send in the Marines, or in our higher tech world, the drones. Mark Twain could figure this out. He participated in the Anti-Imperialst League,which opposed the US war of conquest in the Philippines over 100 years ago. Maddow can't figure it out. The stark truth blows her whole rationale out of the water: the USA is good, good, good. But it makes mistakes that can be Democrats.

The fact that Obama is far worse than Bush in committing war crimes and shredding democratic rights has escaped Maddow's notice.

Some commentators have suggested that the neo-cons and their obsession with supporting Israel at all costs are behind all this interventionism, at least in the mid-east. We can't point to The Weekly Standard or AIPAC as the motivating forces behind, say, the US marines occupation of Nicaragua from 1927 to 1933; but they have been enthused backers of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and now Kenya and soon to be Mali.

The use of threats, bullying and military force is a longstanding tradition of the good ole' USA and the latest mid-east wars fit right in. You could say that AIPAC and the neo-cons make everything more reducto ad absurdum and shrill. Also they do hamper the use of more flexible tactics by US imperialism by their "Israel firstism." But in no way would US policy in the world be benign if they had no influence. This is a case of a falling out among thieves. The American people have no stake in what is euphemistically called our "National Interest." National Interest is a code word for the interests of banks, mulit-national corporations, and their political operatives in both parties.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Voice of a Quaker Hawk -- Scott Simon, NPR & The Empire by Dan Kovalik

I have to admit that I had the same bad habit of tuning in to Simon on Saturdays (even when he had the war cheerleader Dan Schorr on), but Mr. Kovalik should know the habit can be broken I have done it and am so much the better!  Even though NPR is now Nuanced-Pravda Radio to me, Simon doesn't even have the nuance.  Linda

Of course, if one were to be honest, and Simon does not aspire to truthfulness in such matters, one could fairly ask whether one should be shaking the hands of Western leaders who have been responsible for much greater loss of human life than al-Assad – e.g., Bill Clinton who killed at least 500,000 children in Iraq due to his crippling sanctions there – a result which his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said was “worth it”; George W. Bush who was responsible for the killing of tens of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Barack Obama who, as we recently learned from The New York Times, personally oversees the killing of scores of ostensible militants (though it is quite arguable whether they truly are) as well as civilians through his drone strikes, and who has carried out mass killings and mayhem through his expansion of U.S. war into Pakistan, Libya, Somalia and Colombia.  Simon never dares to ask such questions about these crimes, but rather, cheers them on.

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy here, it would seem that the goal in Syria at this point should be to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict before it descends into a destructive and bloody civil war that would certainly lead to the loss of life of thousands in Syria, and is likely to spill over into other countries such as Lebanon.   And, it is just such a peaceful solution which Kofi Annan is attempting through his meetings with al-Assad – indeed, it is hard to know how he is going to pull off such a solution without meeting with the current leader of Syria.  And, while the Houla massacre was certainly appalling, it is still unclear exactly who was responsible for it, and whether, even if it were pro-government forces as is most likely the case, they were truly acting under al-Assad’s direction and/or control.  Moreover, al-Assad’s forces had, at least up to the point of this incident, shown an ability to honor the cease-fire agreement which al-Assad had made with Kofi Annan.  In short, it does not appear that all possibilities for peace have yet been exhausted, and therefore, under any “just war” theory, peace should continue to be pursued.
However, Simon – as much of a Quaker in his commitment to peace as fellow Quaker Richard M. Nixon was – prefers war as the method of solving international crises.  And so, he followed up his attack on the UN and Kofi Annan — who, by the way, was correct his in assessment back in 2003 that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the war against that country which Simon cheered on — with a piece entitled, “A Case for Military Intervention In Syria.”    While Simon claimed that he would give the “pros and cons” of such intervention in this piece, he only interviewed one person for the story, and that person, Pentagon analyst Thomas P.M. Barnet, is an outspoken advocate of military intervention.  So much for any “point/counterpoint” here.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Farewell to My Sweet Brother Roger Ramstead

Today, June 3, 2012, we had a Celebration of Roger's Life in Kingston, where we grew up.  Many wonderful friends and family came to remember Rog.  Thank you to everyone.  Love was definitely present.  Linda

 Carefree highway, you seen better days
The mornin' after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away
Slip away on you

A wonderful musician and a good brother. Goodbye on Nov. 4, 2011.