A young Bahraini youth has been martyred while receiving treatment at hospital. Jaffar Ahmad Al Durazi passed away today after he was left without care following numerous sessions of severe torture. He was arrested in January with a group of youth who had been active in the pro-democracy movement. While in police custody, they were all subjected to extreme forms of torture including sexual abuse, electrocution and beating. They were then transferred to Rafaa police station to recuperate from their horrific injuries before their trial. But Jaffar’s conditions deteriorated as he was suffering from sickle cell blood disorder. He was transferred to the military-run Salmaniya Hospital where he was ill-treated further and denied proper medical care. He passed away in the early hours of this morning.
A kangaroo court run by the ruling Alkhalifa family has ordered the detention for one more week of a juvenile. Mahdi Ali Jaffar Shuja’a, 11, has been ordered to stay behind bars for one more week in revenge for joining a peaceful demonstration calling for democratic rights.
At the Awwamiyah Town of Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia two people were martyred by police on Thursday 20th February. Heavily-armed thugs of the Al Saud regime attacked the town and raided houses. Although he raised his white shirt to indicate his submission, Hussain Ali Al Faraj was hit with live bullets and died instantly. Shortly afterwards another house was raided and Ali Ahmed Al Faraj was also hit with live bullets which killed him on the spot. This criminal behaviour has enraged the people and pushed many of them to chant anti-regime slogans during the funerals of the martyrs.
On Sunday 23rd February, the people who were sitting in mourning at a congregation hall at Saar Town were bombarded with large amounts of chemical and tear gases. An armoured vehicle manned by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads targeted the audience at the town congregation hall as they took part in mourning the late pro-democracy journalist, Sayyed Ali Al Mousawi. A video showing the horrific crime was posted on the internet. In such circumstances (ie when there is irrefutable evidence of an Alkhalifa crime against the people) the regime would always promise to investigate, but none of the perpetrators of the crimes has ever been charged).
The Alkhalifa court has extended the illegal detention of three orators for unspecified periods for chanting pro-democracy slogans at one of the demonstrations. Lawyer Yousuf Rabi’e said that his clients; Abdul Jabbar Al Durazi, Mohammad Jaber Al Durazi and Poet Mohammad Al Yousuf were detained for 38 more days in the absence of their lawyer. An elderly citizen, Hajji Majeed, also known Hajji Sumood (steadfast) is among those detained for taking part in peaceful demonstrations. Al Wefaq Society described these harsh sentences against Bahrainis as revenge and unethical exploitation of power. Bahrain’s jails are overcrowded with more than 3000 political prisoners.
On 20th February, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action about a young Bahraini prisoner of conscience. It said that Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab saw his family for the first time on 10 February, a month after he was arrested, and again on 18 February. During the visits Ahmed al-Arab told his family that he was still suffering the effects of shoulder injuries, especially on his right side, which he said he had sustained as a result of severe beatings at the National Security Agency headquarters in the capital, Manama, and being hung from his wrists while they were twisted behind his back and handcuffed. He also told his family he had numbness in his hands and a tooth which was broken during the beating was bleeding every day. He said he had not received any medical attention for any of his injuries. He told his family that he had been severely beaten, on his genitals and elsewhere, at the National Security Agency and a detention facility in Riffa. He also said he had h ad his face covered with a cloth and water poured over it to make him feel as if he was drowning; he was threatened with having his nails pulled out and being raped. He was also made to sign papers while blindfolded but did not know what they were. During their first visit, the family saw that Ahmed al-Arab had scars on his face, black marks around his wrists and a broken tooth. Amnesty called on the regime to provide Mr Al Arab with urgently needed medical care, stop torturing him and allowing him access to his lawyer.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
26th February 2014
The European Parliament today overwhelmingly condemned the covert drone strikes that have killed thousands of civilians in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen.
In a vote this morning, a majority of 534 to 49 MEPs supported a resolution demanding that EU Member States “do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states”, and calling on them to “oppose and ban practices of extra judicial targeted killings.”
Today’s vote will put further pressure on countries such as the UK and Germany to disclose the full extent of their involvement in the covert US programme, both through intelligence-sharing and the provision of infrastructure at US airbases on their soil.
The resolution, sponsored by the Green group of MEPs with cross-party support, also notes that:
- “drone strikes by a State on the territory of another State without the consent of the latter constitute a violation of international law and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country”
- “thousands of civilians have reportedly been killed or seriously injured by drone strikes [but] these figures are difficult to estimate, owing to lack of transparency and obstacles to effective investigation”
- “drone strike policies have been documented as causing considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians in the countries concerned, including deep anxiety and psychological trauma, disruption of economic and social activities and reduced access to education among affected communities.”
Last week, legal charity Reprieve lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the involvement of NATO member states in facilitating strikes in Pakistan. The complaint highlighted the case of Kareem Khan, whose civilian brother and son were killed in a 2009 strike in the Waziristan area of Pakistan. Mr Khan has in recent days met with Parliamentarians from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands to discuss the impact of drone strikes in the area.
Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “Today’s vote represents a triumph of conscience by MEPs, who have issued a clear call to national European governments to come clean on their complicity with the CIA’s illegal drones programme, and bring it to an immediate halt. This should be a wake-up call to countries like the UK and Germany; they need to clean up their act not only by ensuring that they stop cooperating with extrajudicial killings, but also by pressuring the US for greater transparency and accountability.”
Kareem Khan said: “As I prepare to return home, I will take with me this heartening news – that Europe is listening to those who have been harmed by America’s illegal drone war. Not just innocents like my brother and son, but all those who are terrorised daily by the drones circling overhead. Drone strikes are not the answer. Today, Europe has taken a first step to bringing a stop to these illegal, unaccountable killings; I hope that national governments will follow suit, so that one day I may finally get justice.”
Green MEP and chair of the Parliament's sub-committee on human rights Barbara Lochbihler said: "The European Parliament has today raised serious concerns with the use of military drones and the deaths of thousands of civilians resulting from drone strikes. MEPs have delivered a strong rebuke to the practice of targeted aerial killings outside a declared war zone, as well as the use of armed drones in war situations outside of the international legal framework. The EU needs to address the legal, ethical and security challenges posed by the increasing use of drones, including the urgent need to secure complete transparency and accountability. The resolution also stresses that EU member states should strictly refrain from participating in or facilitating extrajudicial targeted killings, for instance by sharing relevant information with countries such as the US."
More videos likely to be posted here.
Minister of Science, Industry and Technology: Should the Prime Ministry request an analysis of the tapes, The Scientific and Technological Research Council (Tubitak) will be happy to undertake it - turkishpress.com
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This Friday, Feb. 28th at 11:00 AM (EST), the Fellowship of Reconciliation will co-host an exciting and innovative live video discussion on militarized and weaponized drones. You are invited to participate in this live program from the comfort of your own home.
FOR will host a roundtable discussion on the legality of U.S. drone strikes, featuring:
- Judith Bello, just released from an 8-day jail sentence in upstate New York for protesting drones at Hancock Air Force Base (Judy's blog)
- Noor Mir, former anti-drones campaign coordinator at CODEPINK (Noor on Twitter)
- Nick Mottern, coordinator of the national Know Drones coalition (follow this anti-drones network on Twitter)
- Moderated by Leila Zand, FOR Northeast regional coordinator/organizer and FOR anti-drones campaign coordinator (Leila on Twitter)
The discussion will be held on Friday at 11:00 AM (EST) using a web-based platform called Vonvo.com. RSVP for the event now via Facebook.
Vonvo recommends using the internet browser Google Chrome (download Chrome here) for its programs.
- Make sure you are using the browser Google Chrome or Firefox (preferably Chrome)
- Strong internet connection on your COMPUTER (mobile connection will not work)
- Login in with your Facebook account to actively participate (not required)
- Go to www.vonvo.com using Google Chrome
- Click the "log in with Facebook" button and sign in
- Scroll down to the "Fellowship of Reconciliation" channel
- Click the "Join Live Vonvo" button (dropdown menu will appear)
- Click the "View Live Vonvo" button
- Enjoy the discussion!
We look forward to your participation in this important conversation this Friday!
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Northeast Regional Coordinator/Organizer
A round-up of some stories in the news lately about the TSA and TSA-similar organizations:
Nice to know that UK security can be just as idiotic as US security . . . .
Filmed in Brunswick, Maine.
Criticizing repression of protest abroad, practicing it at home: What if Americans Demanded the Ouster of This Government?
By Dave Lindorff
Ukraine’s new rulers, in one of their first acts, have disbanded that country’s riot police.
Secretary of War Chuck Hagel yesterday announced the Obama administration's Pentagon budget proposal for the coming year. Despite mandates for cuts in military spending after agreements with Congress under sequestration, Hagel actually calls for an increase of more than $115 billion for war making.
The Hagel budget basically calls for cuts in Army ground forces and cutbacks in military pay, housing and commissary facilities on bases. Life for the enlisted will become more difficult. The Pentagon is also calling for the closing of a few National Guard posts in some states.
Hagel calls for 'sustaining' the Pentagon's nuclear triad - air, ground, and sea delivery systems of nuclear weapons. Also called for is an increase in drones and robotic forces as well as significant expansion in cyber warfare capabilities.
Wall Street immediately reacted by joyfully giving Lockheed-Martin all-time high stock gains. The writing on the wall is clear - cuts in troop levels and increase in high-tech space directed war-making capability.
We will see an expansion of US "hidden" wars in the near future and the Obama budget reflects this reality. While Hagel wants to pare back the size of the active-duty military by 13% and the reserves by 5% in coming years he would boost the size of Special Operations forces by about 6%. The plan is to add more than 3,000 personnel to the kinds of special ops forces teams that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
These same clandestine forces now operate in more than 75 countries around the world. In his film “Dirty Wars” investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill reports on the largely unaccountable Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that is now doing targeted assassinations, destabilization, and training of right-wing and terrorist forces used by the US in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and beyond. The corporate oligarchy is moving rapidly to consolidate their total control of the people around the world and the US is playing its role of "security export" rather well.
Mainstream media reports of the Hagel announcement also tag two key places on the planet that will receive special emphasis from this new budget. Those are the African continent and the Asia-Pacific. This is where the long-range military operations planning and funding are heading.
Our organizing (no matter whether it is local, regional, national or international) needs to take into account this very fundamental direction the Obama supported military complex is tacking toward.
On Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave a speech at the Pentagon that announced cutbacks in a number of military programs:
- Reductions in military personnel in the active-duty Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and Marine Corps
- A pay freeze for flag officers and generals
- A reduction in benefits for active-duty personnel and their families
- Elimination of some weapons systems, including the Air Force A-10 Attack Jet and U-2 spy plane fleet, and reduction in the number of Navy littoral combat ships
However, despite all of these changes, the new Pentagon budget does not project a commensurate decline in spending.
The president is expected to propose an additional $26 billion for the Pentagon in 2015, on top of the spending limits agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. In addition, the Pentagon receives many tens of billions in additional funding to operate wars overseas, officially known as "Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)," and that money isn't subject to caps.
"Five-year spending projections at the Pentagon show that it plans to exceed the spending caps of sequestration by $115 billion over the next five years," said Jo Comerford, NPP Executive Director. "We must hold Secretary Hagel to his promise to make tough choices in Pentagon spending, including examining the OCO 'slush fund.' As a nation, we must redefine what we mean by security and listen to the people's priorities for how to spend our tax dollars."
National Priorities Project has the cost per hour of Pentagon spending by city, county, state, and Congressional districts.
National Priorities Project (NPP) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that makes our complex federal budget transparent and accessible so people can exercise their right and responsibility to shape our nation's budget. We are the people's guide to the federal budget. In 2014, NPP was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of our pioneering work to track federal spending on the military and promote a U.S. federal budget that represents Americans' priorities, including funding for people's issues such as inequality, unemployment, education, health and the need to build a green economy. Learn more at nationalpriorities.org.
GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
Greens oppose Defense Sec. Hagel's plan for a "more drones" Armed Forces, continue to urge an end to the Afghanistan War and deep cuts in military spending
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party called for an immediate halt to all drone warfare and for the Obama Administration to comply with the Constitution's assignment of war powers to Congress.
"The White House has usurped the legislative branch's control over war, by having the CIA wage targeted drone warfare against Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia outside of Congress's oversight," said Howie Hawkins, Green candidate for Governor of New York. Mr. Hawkins is from Syracuse, where drones on combat missions are controlled out of Hancock Air National Guard Base.
"The Obama Administration says it's reducing the use of drones. We demand a complete end to drone strikes, which are killing civilians and, by inciting hostility against the U.S., placing Americans at potential risk of reprisal," said Mr. Hawkins.
Greens said that President Obama has kept Congress and the public in the dark on drone warfare, because the CIA is an intelligence service and part of the executive branch of the federal government. The White House obstructed the CIA from briefing a recent joint closed-door meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee and refused to grant the latter clearance for hearing CIA testimony (http://takingnote.blogs.
The Green Party opposes all drone strikes, whether by the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan or by the CIA in undeclared wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The party has called for an end to the Afghanistan War and for deep cuts to the military budget (http://www.gp.org/index.php/
Only 2% of people killed and maimed by combat drones in Pakistan have been Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives. The rest are either noncombatants or low-level military personnel. The casualties include nearly 200 Pakistani children killed since 2004. Drones also cause widespread terror and disruption of civilian life in areas of deployment, as well as resentment by Pakistanis and Yemenis against their own governments for allowing U.S. drone attacks within their borders.
Green Party leaders noted further troubling use of drone technology, in targeted assassinations of U.S. civilians, without judicial review, under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and in domestic surveillance of law-abiding civilians.
"Drones have emerged as the favorite weapon of the 21st century, because they allow devastating remote-control 'video game' assaults in distant countries without putting U.S. personnel at risk. But drones are creating new enemies around the world. The inevitable global proliferation of drone technology is all too likely to backfire against the U.S.," said Starlene Rankin, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
"We have little doubt that the expansion of drone warfare under President Obama and the current war-powers grab would have met widespread and angry protest if it had happened under President Bush," said Ms. Rankin.
Medea Benjamin, in Eurasia Review, notes that "As of today, only the United States, the UK, and Israel have used weaponized drones, but there is already a multi-billion-dollar arms race going on. Israel is the No. 1 drones exporter, followed by the United States and China. Over 80 nations possess some form of drones, mostly for surveillance purposes. Between 10 and 15 nations are working on weaponizing their drones." ("The Dangerous Seduction of Drones," Feb. 19,http://www.eurasiareview.
"Complaint filed at International Criminal Court over NATO allies' complicity in US drone strikes"
By David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org, February 19, 2014
"U.S. Drone Strikes Kill, Injure and Traumatize Pakistani Civilians, Report Finds"
Living Under Drones: press release, September 25, 2012
"Human rights group claims US drone strike killed civilians"
By Mario Trujillo, The Hill, February 20, 2014
MEPs will this week vote on a resolution condemning EU Member States’ complicity in the covert US drones programme.
A draft resolution sponsored by the Green group of MEPs and enjoying cross-party support will be debated today (Wednesday) and voted on tomorrow (Thursday) between 12 and 2pm. The resolution condemns the extrajudicial killings resulting from drones strikes, notes an increase in strikes in recent years in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and demands full transparency from those Member States that possess drones technology (such as the UK).
The strikes represent both a violation of the sovereignty of targeted countries and spread terror among the civilian population, says the resolution; they are therefore illegal under international law. The text further criticises the “opaque and unaccountable” nature of drone strikes, concluding that they pose a grave threat to global peace and security.
Today’s move comes amid growing calls for greater scrutiny of the covert US programme, including the use of US bases in countries such as Germany and the UK to support the strikes. Last week, legal charity Reprieve lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning NATO member states’ role in facilitating the drone programme in Pakistan. The complaint, which followed recent revelations that the UK and Germany support the drone strikes through intelligence-sharing, highlighted the case of Kareem Khan, whose civilian brother and son were killed in a 2009 strike in the Waziristan area of Pakistan.
Mr Khan has in recent days met with MEPs such as Sajjad Karim (Con) as well as UK, German and Dutch parliamentarians to discuss the impact of drone strikes on North Waziristan. The CIA campaign in the area is estimated to have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians including children.
Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said:
“Today’s debate is a welcome step towards greater accountability in the illegal drone war that is currently being waged by the US, with the full complicity of its European partners. The drone programme has killed thousands of civilians, and terrorised many more - in absolute secrecy and with a total lack of accountability, both at the international and domestic level. We hope that tomorrow, MEPs will recognise this wrong, and do what they can to right it.”
Kareem Khan said:
“The US’ secret drones programme has killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Pakistan alone – including my own son and brother – and continues to terrorise many more. Visiting Europe to tell MPs and MEPs about my experiences, I’ve been heartened by the understanding and sympathy of many. I urge MEPs voting tomorrow to think about the devastating impact of strikes in places like Waziristan, and recognise that Europe has real power to stop them.”
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We’re Standing Up!
No More Murder of Black Youth!
This article is really better as a video.
If you search on the internet for "the stupidest idea in the history of the world" you'll come away thinking that maybe a top contestant is the invention of Youtube. Who knew so many idiots could do so much damage to themselves with so many motorbikes and diving boards and flame throwers?
If you survey the span of human history a little more seriously, some big ideas jump out, beginning with the creation of history itself. Maybe if we'd stayed unhistoric, hunted, gathered, and existed eternally as part of nature we wouldn't have gotten into such a mess. But that's too easy an answer, and way too much for people who ride surf boards off their roofs -- and film it -- to think about.
Other ideas are in the running, I think, from industrial farming, to religion, to racism, to fossil fuels, to science at any cost, to the creation of the United States Senate. And yet, one idea stands out for its wild improbability, creativity, long-lasting destruction on an enormous scale, and insidious ability to turn even people who don't own video cameras and catapults into champion unwitting masochists.
The idea I'm talking about, and my nominee for Stupidest Idea in the History of the World, is the idea that any ordinary person should ever support a war.
While it's undoubtedly true that the war propagandist is the world's second-oldest, and least respectable, profession, he or she is a product of history who wasn't needed in prehistoric times. Nobody needed to be sold on the idea of hunters fighting off lions and bears. It's when they ran out of lions and bears and decided to keep their jobs by starting fights with other tribes of humans that persuasion became necessary.
Why in the world would people want to support fighting and killing other people and having those other people fight and kill you? What's to be gained? A thrill? If you want a serious and useful and communal thrill these days you can do nonviolent resistance to fascist governments. Or you can join a fire department. If you want a useless and pointless thrill, you can jump off a 100-foot bridge with a 100-foot (but all too stretchable) bungee cord and a video camera. Back then, you could go hunting or exploring, or try to discover gravity or surgery. Never was the only thrill available war.
And yet, down through the ages, war has popped up again and again, here and there, around the globe. And where it takes hold in a culture it carries with it the false belief that it's always around in every culture. Thus people manage to find that they support the stupidest idea ever for the stupidest reason ever, because supposedly they have no choice. Yet, choosing to support war because you have no choice in the matter remains a feat which people with developed brains find challenging.
The stupidest idea ever is a marvel of simplicity, and in its simplicity answers every challenge. Why should people of tribe A be willing to go to war with the people of tribe B just because the tribe A chiefs want to steal some stuff from tribe B? The answer is easy if you're a certified idiot who juggles flaming torches on Youtube: Anyone in tribe A who opposes waging war on tribe B is, by magical definition, in favor of tribe B winning a war against tribe A. Or, as modern sophisticates like to put it: Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
OK, so that's a nifty trick, but the stupidest idea ever must be more comprehensive. It must surprise us in its ability to destroy in new areas, to pass unseen behind the backs of its moronic supporters, and to gain partial support from the partially informed, limiting its actual opponents to the barest minority of freaks and misfits. I offer for your consideration, once again, the idea of supporting war.
Observe: the nations that wage the most war claim that they are under attack for no good reason and are forced to wage war to defend themselves, even as their wars make them more and more hated and less and less safe. While the nations that wage the least war have the fewest enemies threatening them in the world. But people who've begun supporting war will readily believe that sending killer robot planes over the homes of poor people thousands of miles away is defensive, and that when it creates hatred and hostility the answer must be yet more weapons.
In fact, the same people support manufacturing tons of weapons and selling them to other countries against whom theirs will later fight wars, and they support this as a jobs program even though it actually sucks jobs out of their society rather than creating them. That is to say, war-related jobs cost more per job than do jobs created by spending on just about anything else, even tax cuts. So, people support weapons-making because they have been misled into supporting war, and they support war because they have been misled into supporting the weapons industries, and then they just support both out of sheer stupid habit -- which is, of course, the single most powerful force in the universe.
But the stupidity of war doesn't end there. People who support wars can be brought to believe that wars are good for their victims. They think of each war as building better nations where it's fought, even though that's never actually happened. They talk of humanitarian wars even though humanity suffers. They imagine war is a solution to genocide, even though war kills more people and those people are just as disproportionately helpless innocents from one group in a war as in a genocide.
A recent U.S.-led war on Iraq destroyed that nation and killed some million people there, leaving behind chaos, violence, and environmental ruin; and war supporters think of Iraq as having benefitted. Someone explain to me how that's not stupider than cleaning your loaded gun on Youtube or praying for god to make the other football team lose. And it gets even stupider when you hear how Iraqis supposedly benefitted. They benefitted by being given freedom, because wars bring freedom, even though -- during the course of any war its supporters end up with fewer and fewer actual rights, due to restrictions justified by the war, even thought the war is justified by the cry of "freedom!"
How stupid can you get? War gets even stupider. It is the leading destroyer of the natural environment, but environmental groups will hardly touch it because they wouldn't want their concern for the earth to interfere with their blind stupid loyalty to a tribe. And human rights groups and civil liberties groups are the same way. They want to have war without murder, torture, rape, or imprisonment -- but opposing war would be unacceptable. Never mind that the atrocities increase in direct proportion to the war spending, they want to oppose only the atrocities. The war spending that generates the wars is viewed almost universally as an insurance against wars.
In the U.S. there are those who will object to murdering a U.S. citizen with a missile from a drone -- and some will object even if the president does have a secret memo he won't show us but which he claims re-writes the law and makes murder legal. Some will even object to murdering non-U.S. citizens with drones if they're civilians. Some even extend their concern to militants suspected of fighting on the side in some local war opposed by the far-off and unthreatened United States. And some, the true radicals, will object to all killing of human beings outside of a proper war zone.
But try pointing out to them that murdering people remains cruel and evil, immoral, impractical and counter-productive, and in violation of laws like the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact regardless of where you declare there to be a "war zone," and you'll run head-first into the brick wall of the Stupidest Idea in the History of the World.
That's a powerful force to challenge, but it can be challenged, and it can be brought down, brick by brick.
You can get involved at WarIsACrime.org
Originally posted at PopularResistance.orgThe Robin Hood tax, a small tax of less than ½ of 1% on Wall Street transactions can generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone. It is an idea whose impact can be felt globally as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande reiterated their support for the tax, announcing that they’d like to see the tax implemented before European Parliament elections in late May. And it is not just Germany and France. Nine other countries are also on board. Notably absent from supporting the Robin Hood Tax are the United States and the UK.
Reports of widespread wiretapping make waves in Ankara, Thousands of people including PM Erdogan and national intelligence chief Hakan Fidan allegedely wiretapped for years by the police - hurriyetdailynews
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Address by Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., to Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, "Climbing the Mountain" Conference, Washington, D.C., February 26, 2014
At first glance, the elimination of nuclear weapons appears to be a hopeless case. The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has been paralyzed for many years. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is in crisis. The major nuclear weapons states refuse to enter into comprehensive negotiations for nuclear disarmament and are even boycotting international meetings designed to put world attention on the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapons states are giving the back of their hand to the rest of the world. Not a cheery outlook.
But look a little deeper. Two-thirds of the nations of the world have voted for negotiations to begin on a global legal ban on nuclear weapons. Two weeks ago, 146 nations and scores of academics and civil society activists assembled in Nayarit, Mexico to examine the staggering health, economic, environment, food and transportation effects of any nuclear detonation – accidental or deliberate. A UN High-Level International Conference on nuclear disarmament will be convened in 2018, and September 26 every year from now on will be observed as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
The march of history is moving against the possession, not only the use, of nuclear weapons by any state. The nuclear weapons states are trying to block this march before it acquires any more momentum. But they will fail. They can stall the nuclear disarmament processes, but they cannot obliterate the transformation moment in human history now occurring.
The reason that the nuclear disarmament movement is stronger than it appears on the surface is that it stems the gradual awakening of conscience taking place in the world. Driven forward by science and technology and a new understanding of the inherency of human rights, an integration of humanity is occurring. Not only do we know one another across what used to be great divides, but we also know that we need one another for common survival. There is a new caring for the human condition and the state of the planet evident in such programs as the Millennium Development Goals. This is the awakening of a global conscience.
This has already produced a huge advance for humanity:the growing understanding in the public that war is futile. The rationale and appetite for war are disappearing. That would have seemed impossible in the 20th century, let alone the 19th. The public rejection of war as a means of resolving conflict – seen most recently in the question of military intervention in Syria – has enormous ramifications for how society will conduct its affairs. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine is undergoing new analyses, including the threat posed by the possession of nuclear weapons, to determine the circumstances when it can be properly used to save lives.
I am not predicting global harmony. The tentacles of the military-industrial complex are still strong. Too much political leadership is pusillanimous. Local crises have a way of becoming catastrophic. The future cannot be predicted. We have lost opportunities before, notably the singular moment when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, that prescient leaders would have seized on and begun to build the structures for a new world order. But I am saying that the world, soured on the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, has finally righted itself and is on course to make inter-state wars a relic of the past.
Two factors are producing better prospects for world peace: accountability and prevention. We never used to hear much about governments accounting to publics for their actions on the great questions of war and peace. Now, with the spread of human rights, empowered civil society activists are holding their governments accountable for participation in the global strategies for human development. These global strategies, apparent in diverse fields, from genocide prevention to the involvement of women in mediation projects, foster the prevention of conflict.
This higher level of thinking is bringing a new potency to the nuclear disarmament debate. Increasingly, nuclear weapons are seen not as instruments of state security but as violators of human security. More and more, it is becoming apparent that nuclear weapons and human rights cannot co-exist on the planet. But governments are slow to adopt policies based on the new understanding of the requirements for human security. Thus, we are still living in a two-class world in which the powerful aggrandize unto themselves nuclear weapons while proscribing their acquisition by other states. We face the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons because the powerful nuclear states refuse to use their authority to build a specific law outlawing all nuclear weapons, and continue to diminish the 1996 conclusion of the International Court of Justice that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal and that all states have a duty to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons.
This thinking is feeding a movement now building up across the world to commence a diplomatic process for nuclear weapons abolition even without the immediate cooperation of the nuclear powers. The Nayarit conference and its follow-up meeting in Vienna later this year, provide and impetus to commence such a process.. Governments seeking comprehensive negotiations for a global legal ban on nuclear weapons must now choose between starting a diplomatic process to outlaw nuclear weapons without the participation of the nuclear weapons states or constrain their ambitions by working solely within the confines of the NPT and the Conference on Disarmament where the nuclear weapons states are a constant debilitating influence.
My experience leads me to choose starting a process in which like-minded states begin preparatory work with the specific intention of building a global law. This means identifying the legal, technical, political and institutional requisites for a nuclear weapons free world as the basis for negotiating a legal ban on nuclear weapons.It will undoubtedly be a long process, but the alternative, a step-by-step process, will continue to be foiled by the powerful states, which have connived to block any meaningful progress since the NPT came into force in 1970. I urge parliamentarians to use their access to power and introduce in every Parliament in the world a resolution calling for immediate work to begin on a global framework to prohibit the production, testing, possession and use of nuclear weapons by all states, and provide for their elimination under effective verification.
Advocacy by parliamentarians works. Parliamentarians are well placed not only to lobby for new initiatives but to follow through on their implementation. They are uniquely placed to challenge present policies, present alternatives and generally hold governments accountable. Parliamentarians hold more power than they often realize.
In my early years in the Canadian parliament, when I served as chairman of Parliamentarians for Global Action, I led delegations of parliamentarians to Moscow and Washington to plead with the superpowers of the day to take serious steps toward nuclear disarmament. Our work led to the formation of the Six-Nation Initiative. This was a cooperative effort by the leaders of India, Mexico, Argentina, Sweden, Greece and Tanzania, who held summit meetings urging the nuclear powers to halt production of their nuclear stocks. Gorbachev later said the Six-Nation Initiative was a key factor in the achievement of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated a whole class of medium-range nuclear missiles.
Parliamentarians for Global Action developed into a network of 1,000 parliamentarians in 130 countries and branched out on an expanded list of global issues, such as fostering democracy, conflict prevention and management, international law and human rights, population, and environment. The organization was responsible for getting the negotiations started for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and supplied the muscle to get many governments to sign onto the International Criminal Court and the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty.
In latter years, a new association of legislators, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, has been formed and I am proud to have been its first Chairman. I congratulate Senator Ed Markey for assembling in Washington today this important gathering of legislators. Under the leadership of Alyn Ware, PNNDhas attracted about 800 legislators in 56 countries. It collaborated with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a huge umbrella group of parliaments in 162 countries, in producing a handbook for parliamentarians explaining the non-proliferation and disarmament issues. This is a form of leadership that doesn’t make headlines but is extremely effective. The development of associations like Parliamentarians for Global Action and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament is contributing significantly to expanded political leadership.
The voice of parliamentarians may in the future become stronger if the Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly takes hold. The campaign hopes that some day citizens of all countries would be able to directly elect their representatives to sit in a new assembly at the UN and legislate global policies. This may not happen until we reach another stage of history, but a transitional step could be the selection of delegates from national parliaments, who would be empowered to sit in a new assembly at the UN and raise issues directly with the Security Council. The European Parliament, in which direct election of its 766 members takes place in the constituent countries, offers a precedent for a global parliamentary assembly.
Even without waiting for future developments to enhance global governance, parliamentarians today can and must use their unique position in government structures to push for humanitarian policies to protect life on earth. Close the rich-poor gap. Stop global warming. No more nuclear weapons. That is the stuff of political leadership.
The impact on communications will be disastrous: Comcast and Time-Warner Cable Play Real-Life Monopoly
By Alfredo Lopez
It might seem like a game of Monopoly played by real monopolies and, with a tired groan, one might be tempted to dismiss it as part of an ugly but irreversible trend. But the merger of cable-television mammoth Comcast with its runner-up competitor Time-Warner Cable  is a huge piece of news whose outcome, if it goes forward, will be crippling to communications in this country.
Here is the prepared statement Megan Rice read to the court on Tuesday, February 18, 2014:
As I sat observing the facial expressions of participants present in the hearing on January 28th, I sensed a clear sense of a shared mental reaction during the arguments on this restitution evidentiary Table submitted by the Prosecution (identification…) (display my Exhibit I)
I think we felt something of a Master’s compassionate consternation with the hypocrisy at his accusers. (Luke 6:5-11 Mark 4:20-30)
I was stunned that 8 months had elapsed with apparently no prior conversations, out of court, between the opposing sides and the court in this case, and would have imagined it had been resolved by negotiation during those delays, and relegated to where it deserved to be disposed. – unworthy of evidence in any court of law.
This very document [hold up Exhibit 1] is self-incriminating evidence for all the world to see. It represents in microcosm an enormous cloud of deception, exaggerated expenditures in time, energy and cost under which Y-12 has hidden these 70 years since its inception. It reveals but a sample of the extortion by unaccounted for or unaccountable profiteering and blatant miscalculation over Y-12’s entire evolution till today. – Draconian extortion of the hard-earned labor of the people in this country over the last 70 years, and perhaps before.
It provides evidence why we are in deep trouble today. – A perfect analogy to what Greg spoke of as “Emperor’s new clothes.”
Why can we not call a spade a spade?
Why can we not admit the bare truth, and just get on with what is humanly possible: transforming this humanly constructed horrific monstrosity, an entity which has, effectively un-impeded, evolved into risks of perilous portent to the very existence of this sacred Planet and life as we have known it; for whose transformation we all readily long to give our lives.
Who or what is capable of naming, and being heard to name,
this Emperor’s new clothes?
(if not already named in countless ways and forms.)
When will we be willing to listen,
and to face the truth?
Good morning! Thank you, Judge Thapar, and each of you, in this Beloved Community. We are so grateful this morning, in the depths of our hearts. Grateful to each of you for gracing us from your very busy lives, to be here once again. Your coming here from Kentucky, your honor, and up from New Orleans, Bill and Anna. Down form Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Anabel and David, faithfully giving time, and so much zesty, passionate energy and legal expertise in popular education for truth and justice’s sake on current status of international and domestic law; and here, also from a crowded date book at Yale’s Schools of Divinity and of Forestry and the Environment, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, to witness on behalf of our entire Planet. A Beloved Community joins us in Spirit, from the four corners of the Earth, speaking truth from people in places like Seychelles, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Denmark, Finland, France, Belgium, Qatar, Bolivia, Alaska, Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Britain, and many places in between. These messages from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers came by post for this court. May I deliver them now?
It is indeed fitting as the issue here before us today has touched with perilous risk, for 70 years, the very existence of our sacred, lovely home, which we all share and try to treasure – our Planet Earth, which many of us revere as Mother! So thank you. We treasured the time all you gave in attending the trial in one way or another.
This trial has exposed, quite gratuitously, in the evidence, thanks to the prosecution’s witnesses, the truth about what is happening. That this one facility is part, of what Kristen Iversen says, the U.S. has become: one, huge, bomb factory, of which Y-12 is but one very significant part.
We are all grateful, as Anabel Dwyer points out, with the Defense team of Lawyers, that the details of the goings-on at Y-12 were revealed by the witnesses for the government, details kept mostly secret, over nigh to 70 years – the specific warheads being “enhanced” and “modernized” – the enormous quantities of highly enriched uranium material (HEUM) produced and stored there, in the very building we were able, almost unknowingly, to reach, to touch, and to label with statements and symbols of truth. This alerted Y-12 workers to what has been kept secret for nearly 70 years.
The secrecy began in 1943, when worker women, by thousands, could not tell fellow workers or family. Still now, secrets are kept between workers, officials, and managers. The secrecy prevailed to try relentlessly to turn these United States into a “super power,” an empire. As Germany tried to be under the Third Reich. When I was growing up, to our generation, these were very evil terms. Has any empire, or aspiring super-power not declined, not fallen apart from exceptionalism into decadence? So we had to come to this facility to call it to transformation. Thank you for revealing these secrets as evidence.
Many who were here on Jan. 28th had attended plowshares trials around the country, your honor, from the most recent in Tacoma, WA – the Disarm Now Plowshares (seniors also, I allege, aged from 84-60: One Sacred Heart Sister, Anne Montgomery of happy memory, 2 Jesuits Frs. Bill Bicshel and Steve Kelly, and 2 grandmothers, Susan Crane and Lynne Greenwald.) In many of these earlier trials, even the words, nuclear weapons, have been called “classified” and denied to be alluded to. Despite being components for weapons of mass destruction, contrary to the Non-Proliferation and other treaties and laws, to which the U.S. is legally bound, and for which crimes we citizens bear shared responsibility by law to expose and oppose as crimes, when we know they are being committed.
And still we have more room and reasons for gratitude, you honor. Because recent laws, by the U.S. congress, gave you distress, you felt that you had to keep these jury-convicted, conscience-bound peace-makers as “violent saboteurs,” felons accused of “seriously damaging the national defense of the U.S.” in detention while awaiting sentencing. Detention in a privately-contracted, for profit, rendition warehouse, which punishes and tortures unsentenced people, partly because of the enormously overcrowded courts and prisons in this country. These facilities are not effectively overseen nor accountable. Because of our experience of the ill-equipped conditions and inadequately trained personnel in those for-profit warehouses, we now know how U.S. citizens and non-citizens are treated for nonviolent crimes of “conspiracy” and other medical, drug laws as they exist. Crimes engendered by the failed socio-economic situation which prevails today in a national security state. The direct fall-out from gross misspending to maintain a nuclear industrial complex – of ten trillions of dollars over these last 70 years. An economic system devoid of any outcome other than death, poverty for the masses in a debt-ridden country, with obscene wealth for the less than 1% of the people – individuals wealthier than the GNP of entire countries and I would ask, from war-profiteering?
We thank you, Judge Thapar, for giving us this time to become inspired by truly great human beings, so patiently enduring flagrantly inhuman conditions. We can now report to you and the general public, who are the government, of the conditions where people are experiencing punishment and torture as unsentenced, awaiting changing court dates, or places in federal prisons today. We have seen how this far-profit detention contract system fails to accomplish any kind of restorative justice or rehabilitation. Women and men who are the victims of a nation, impoverished by the violence and cost of an economy based on manufacturing WMDs and war-making – inhumanly separated by distance and poverty, managerial incompetence; inordinately separated from contact with loved ones and families.
I am grateful also for what Daniel Berrigan called in a letter to me in Danbury Prison in 1998, “my time under federal scholarship.” We have tried to make the most of it. (Have learned enough for 2 or 3 Masters degrees, and written and received letters to and from enough to do a doctoral dissertation!) We are activated by the people who suffer under disempowering conditions of detention. Activated to invite U.S. prison reform, which calls for transformation of minds and hearts from violence. Violence of profiteering from the “fall out” of constant, unending war-making, by a military industrial complex. Those engaged in the production of ever more massively powerful, death-dealing weapons, – nuclear, chemical, biological, unmanned weapons, which rob the poor and sabotage and pollute all of life and creation on this Planet. Imagine the profit accrued by charges like mine: $15 for one 10 minute call to Washington DC from Knoxville Detention Facility. TN instate calls can be close to $3.00 each for 10 minutes. Or a sick call, which can cost an inmate $15 to obtain a dropped, previously sanctioned prescription for a nightly Claritin tablet for controlling an allergy condition. Medical records denied to be passed on from facility to facility as inmates are moved along to prisons.
We are energized to call for life-enhancing alternative projects: like disarmament, depleting radioactive isotopes and toxins, and those which meet real needs – social, cultural, spiritual and environmental: restoration, healing, harmony, balance and peace in non-violence.
May I close with a prayer? A rendition of an ancient Hebrew country song – PS 98 (according to Nan Merrill) as again we thank you, Judge Thapar, honorable jurors, our defense team, lawyers on behalf of the government (whose crimes, we as law-abiding citizens attempt to disclose, oppose, and heal), and for each of you, you in this most honorable Beloved Community, a prophetic peace-making remnant, from whom we receive hope and inspiration and encouragement to carry on as grateful participants in your noble pursuits:
Let us sing to the Beloved a new song.
For Love has done marvelous things!
By the strength of Your Indwelling Presence, (Your right hand)
We, too, are called to do great things;
We are set free through Love’s Forgiveness and Truth.
Yes, for Your steadfast Love and Faithfulness
are ever-present gifts
in our lives.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the glory of Love’s Eternal Flame.
Make a joyful noise to the Beloved,
all the Earth;
Break forth into grateful song
and sing praises! [-Sacred the Land, Sacred the Water, Sacred the Sky, holy and true!]
Yes, sing songs of praise extolling
Lift up your hearts with gratitude and Joy!
Let the voices of all people blend in harmony,
in unison let the peoples magnify the Beloved!
Let the waters clap their hands!
Let the hills ring out with joy!
Before the Beloved who radiates Love to all the earth.
For Love reigns over the world
with truth and justice,
bringing order and balance, [harmony]
to all Creation!
In keeping with all that is just and Fair.
and may we go forth
as Your holy right hand, to do great things, in Love!
(MK 3: LK 7)
Megan then asked the judge if it would be all right to sing a song. He agreed, then was taken aback as she turned to the audience and they rose to join her in singing “Sacred the Earth.”
Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, February 18, 2014
U S Federal Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
As the United States begins to grapple with the issue of growing economic inequality, it should not ignore the widening income gap on American college campuses.
Some of the nation’s poorest people work at higher educational institutions, and many of them are members of the faculty. Oh, yes, there are still faculty members who receive comfortable middle class salaries. But most faculty do not. These underpaid educators are adjunct faculty, who now comprise an estimated 74 percent of America’s college teachers. Despite advanced degrees, scholarly research experience, and teaching credentials, they are employed at an average of $2,700 per course. Even when they manage to cobble together enough courses to constitute a full-time teaching load, that usually adds up to roughly $20,000 per year -- an income that leaves many of them and their families officially classified as living in poverty. Some apply for and receive food stamps.
Adjunct faculty face other job-related difficulties as well. Lacking employment security of any kind, they can be hired to teach courses the day before classes begin -- or, for that matter, not hired at all. They often receive no healthcare or other benefits, have no office space, mailboxes, or email addresses at colleges where they teach, and drive long distances between their jobs on different campuses. As the impoverished migrant labor force of its day, this new faculty majority deserves its own Grapes of Wrath.
Jennifer Gibson, a U.S. lawyer, leads Reprieve’s drones work in Pakistan. Prior to joining Reprieve, Jennifer was at Stanford University, where she co-authored, Living Under Drones -- one of the most comprehensive accounts of the impact of drones in Pakistan to date. She has brought drone victims to testify in Congress and to meet with members of various European parliaments, and recently to the International Criminal Court to file a complaint against the U.K., Germany, and Australia for their complicity in U.S drone murders. Learn more: http://Reprieve.org.uk
Total run time: 29:00
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Here are this week’s articles. We are nearing our goal of 10,000 petition signatures in support of Okinawans opposing the construction of the Henoko base and calling for the closure of the Futenma base. If you have not already signed the statement and shared it with friends, please do so. We need to give them support.
For peace and justice,
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Check out this video with Noam Chomsky and others.