Increased police brutality and the prospect of conservative politicians using public money to sue and bankrupt organizations they ideologically oppose – these are the likely outcomes of last week’s Constitutional Court judgment against protest organisers.
In a judgment which upheld a repressive clause in the apartheid-era 1993 Regulation of Gatherings Act, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled that members of the public who suffer damages from protestors have the right to recoup their losses from whoever hosted the protest – whether the damages were caused by members of the organisation, or not.
There is no onus on the person suing the organisation to prove that the damages were caused by members of the protesting organisation – the mere fact that the damage happened during the march is enough in the way of proof for anyone to be able to claim damages from the organisers.
In May 2006, after a security guards’ strike by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) turned violent, then Cape Town mayor Helen Zille decided to sue for damages on behalf of individuals who had suffered losses from the strike.
Ever since then, the DA has been trying to get Parliament to pass their private members’ bill aimed at “holding unions liable for strike damages”. The Constitutional Court has now done their job for them, supported by ANC police minister Nathi Mthethwa who also weighed in on the side of the DA.
However, the judgment has a far broader reach. The head of the Freedom of Expression Institute’s law clinic, Mbalenhle Cele pointed out “assemblies, with all their potential for disruption, are often the only way for individuals to give voice to their grievances, and to do so effectively.” This is primarily because politicians only listen to the language of disruption. While unions normally follow the correct channels and apply for permission to hold marches, making their leaders easily identifiable as organisers, social movements and communities often protest spontaneously or together with other small organisation. If a small non-profit organisation or a refugee rights group happens to support one of these protests, will they be held responsible for damages as the easily identifiable party?
Unions survive off their members’ subscription fees and while some have made shady forays into the murky world of union investment companies, many unions have little reserve funds, using the bulk of member fees to cover legal costs and maintain basic offices. The DA’s hostility to organised labour and protestors in general is no secret.
The conservative opposition party has been unable to mount any effective propaganda campaign against the unions, which continue to organise high numbers of workers. Having failed to find a working class audience willing to adopt failed free market ideas, it is unsurprising that the DA would resort to finding means to financially cripple the unions – effectively the only way of silencing them.
The process of financially crippling the unions can now be accelerated by anyone with an interest in doing this – the DA, big business, some factions of the ANC and the intelligence services. Any of these groups can land unions with a R2 million damages bill simply by inserting undercover agents into a march with an instruction to cause damage to property. This is not a far-fetched notion – it has happened before and indeed, with a judgment like this already working in their favour, anti-union groups would be foolish not to use dirty tricks to finish the unions off altogether. The DA, big business, some factions of the ANC and the intelligence services are all aware that in marches of over five thousand workers, it would be difficult for participants to identify non-union members in their ranks, especially since the trade unions have a tradition of inviting supporters ranging from family members, neighbours, churchgoers, priests, and assorted leftists to their marches.
The judgment ignores the police track record of deliberately sparking violence during protests. In the judgment, Mogoeng said unions would not be held liable in the event of a policeman discharging his gun “by accident” into a crowd, causing a stampede. However, he made no mention of violent police who regularly go on the attack – deliberately and not accidentally – against protestors. The case of Andries Tatane, slain by police last year, is an example. The well-publicised case of the residents of Hangberg is another example.
When the people of this hillside community in Cape Town’s Hout Bay stood together to protect their long-standing community from gentrification, the police broke their own regulations by firing rubber bullets at close range into the residents’ faces, taking out the eyes of four people, and provoking pandemonium.
It is well-known that peaceful union marches are unlikely to end quietly because police normally attack the tail end of a march, or pick off a group of people on their way home who have become separated from the crowd. At a union march two years ago in Cape Town, police became extremely annoyed after workers burnt tyres across the road – even though there was no damage to property or person. The police later embarked on a chaotic armed, hunt of workers through the taxi rank – with the workers running for their lives and the police in hot pursuit, firing rubber bullets as they ran. The current culture of police brutality is likely to worsen as a result of this judgment.
The judgment also opens the way for politicians to use public money to promote their own political agendas. Mogoeng made much of the need to protect innocent bystanders who did not choose for their property or persons to be damaged. Yet in the SATAWU case, Zille said she herself instructed lawyers to sue the union on behalf of individuals whose cars and other property had been damaged during the march. These individuals received the assistance of the DA because the case dovetailed with the bill the DA was trying to push unsuccessfully through Parliament. Zille has never made a similar offer to pay for lawyers for the blinded residents of Hangberg to sue the police who shot their eyes out, and this was clearly an ideologically skewed use of public funds rather than a genuine defence of ordinary people.
The judgment also opens the way for politicians to attempt to claim damages even where nothing has been damaged. Zille was furious five years ago when 93 Cape metro police protested by travelling in a pre-planned convoy for two hours along the N2 highway, bringing traffic to a standstill. The protest was entirely peaceful yet if it happened today, the city could make an attempt to quantify the time spent by commuters in the traffic jam as money, and sue for these costs.
A similar scenario is already unfolding in Australia where unions are fined for every day of an unprotected strike. Under the guise of saving the public from “havoc and turmoil”, political leaders in New South Wales are currently seeking to fine unions the equivalent of R1.5 million for every day of a wildcat strike – raising the fine from the current R150 000 a day.
In Australia, workers are individually fined if they embark on unprotected strikes. Earlier this year, 13 companies that claimed to have been affected by a seven-day strike at a construction company sued more than 1000 Australian workers for striking. These workers were fined a total of R56 million, suspended for seven years – as long as they didn’t strike again during that time. In this case, private companies were able to argue that the strike had “disrupted work on a site of economic significance to the Australian economy”, the Australian newspaper reported last month.
The Mogoeng judgment in favour of the DA and police minister Nathi Mthethwa has clearly started South Africa down a similarly slippery slope.
Majavu is a writer concentrating on the rights of workers, oppressed people, the environment, anti-militarism and what makes a better world.
Read more articles by Anna Majavu.
Africa is often said to be overpopulated. But it is quite easy to debunk this myth. The continent is a spacious, rich and arable landmass that can support its population well into the foreseeable future.
It should be obvious in this discussion that our goal is definitely not to contribute to the ‘politically correct’ rhetoric bandied about incessantly which calls for some ‘decrease’ in African population because we do not believe that Africa, in the first instance, is overpopulated. We must now examine this issue. The population argument is usually advanced on a number of fronts. First, there is a ‘theory’ that the given landmass which presently defines Africa and its various so-called nation-states cannot sustain the existing populations, but, more critically, the ‘projected populations’ in years to come. We shall examine the degree to which this ‘theory’ is able to stand up to serious scientific scrutiny first by comparing Africa’s landmass vis-à-vis its population and those of some of the countries of the World.
Africa’s population is currently 1 billion (all the statistics here on countries’ population, land mass and the like are derived from The World Bank, World Development Report 2011 and United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2011) covering an incredibly vast landmass (11,668,599 sq miles). Ethiopia’s landmass is 471,775 sq miles, five times the size of Britain’s 94,226 sq miles. Yet Britain’s population of 62 million is three-quarters that of Ethiopia’s at 83 million. As for Somalia, it is 2.6 times the size of Britain but has a population of only 9 million. Sudan and South Sudan provide an even more fascinating comparison. Whilst both countries are 10 times the size of Britain, they support a population of 45 million – about 70 per cent the size of Britain. In fact the Sudans have a landmass equal to that of India which is populated by 1.22 billion people i.e. more than the population of all of Africa! Britain is one-tenth the size of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which has a landmass of 905,562 sq miles, similar to the Sudans and India. In other words, the DRC is about ten times the size of Britain but with a population of 71 million, just nine million more than the population of the latter.
Second, let us examine similarly sized countries. France has a landmass of 211,206 sq miles close to Somalia’s. However, France’s population of 65 million is about seven times the population of Somalia. Similarly, Botswana is slightly larger than France at 254,968 sq miles but with a population of 2 million, a minuscule proportion of France’s. Uganda’s landmass at 91,135 sq miles is comparable to Britain’s, yet with a population of only 33 million. Similarly, Ghana’s landmass of 92,099 sq miles makes it approximately equal to the size of Britain. Ghana is however populated by only 25 million people, far less than one-half Britain’s population.
Southern World to Southern World comparisons can also prove useful in exposing the fallacy of either Africa’s ‘large population’ or ‘potential explosive population’. Iran’s size of 636,292 sq miles is about the same as Sudan and South Sudan combined. Yet, its population, unlike the Sudans’ 45 million, is at least one and one-half times as large at 75 million. Pakistan’s landmass of 310,402 sq miles is just about Namibia’s 333,702 but Pakistan’s population is 174 million while Namibia’s is 2 million. Even though Bangladesh’s 55,598 sq mile-landmass makes it roughly one-eighth the size of Angola (481,350 sq miles) as well as that of South Africa’s (471, 442 sq miles), Bangladesh’s population at 159 million outstrips Angola’s 13 million and South Africa’s 50 million. If we were to return to our earlier comparisons, Angola and South Africa are about 4-5 times the size of Britain but with one-fifth and four-fifths respectively of the latter’s population.
Finally, we should turn to the question of resource, its availability or lack of it, and therefore its ability or inability to support the African population – another component of Africa’s ‘over-population’ fallacy. Well over 50 per cent of Uganda’s arable land, some of the richest in Africa, remains uncultivated. Were Uganda to expand its current food production significantly, not only would it be completely self-sufficient, but it would be able to feed all the countries contiguous to its territory without difficulty. It must be stressed here that Uganda does not need any GM food technology to acquire this capability. Indeed no African country requires any shred of GM technology to acquire food sufficiency and security. None, whatsoever.
STATISTICS OF TRANSFORMATION
The overall statistics of the African situation is even more revealing as with regards to the continent’s long-term possibilities. Just about a quarter of the potential arable land of Africa is being cultivated presently. Even here, an increasingly high proportion of the cultivated area is assigned to so-called cash-crops (cocoa, coffee, tea, groundnut, sisal, floral cultivation, etc.) for exports at a time when there has been a virtual collapse, across the board, of the price of these crops in international commodity markets. In the past 30 years, the average real price of these African products abroad has been about 20 per cent less than their worth during the 1960s-70s period which was soon after the ‘restoration of independence’. As for the remaining 75 per cent of Africa’s uncultivated land, this represents 66 per cent of the entire world’s potential. The world is aware of the array of strategic minerals such as cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, industrial diamonds, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, titanium, uranium, and of course petroleum oil found in virtually all regions across the continent.
Despite the ravages of history of foreign conquest and occupation and the virulence of locally-brewed tyranny of genocidal regimes and fellow-travellers, Africa remains one of the world’s most wealthy and potentially one of the world’s wealthiest continents. What is not always or simultaneously associated with the wealth profiles of Africa is that it has vast acreage of rich farmlands with capacity to optimally support the food needs of generations of African peoples indefinitely. In addition, the famous fish industry in Senegal, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana for instance, Botswana’s rich cattle farms, West Africa’s yam and plantain belts extending from southern Cameroon to the Casamance province of Senegal, the continent’s rich rice production fields, etc., etc., all highlight the potential Africa has for fully providing for all its food needs. Again, without a shred of GM technology needed or emplaced. Thus, what the current African socio-economic situation shows is extraordinarily reassuring, provided the acreage devoted to cultivation is expanded and expressly targeted to address Africa’s own internal consumption needs. Land use directed at agriculture for food output, as opposed to the calamitous waste of cash-crop production for export or the parcelling away of land up and down the continent (the ‘land grab’ that is becoming a designer label all over the place!) must become the focus of agricultural policy in the new Africa.
It is an inexplicable and inexcusable tragedy that any African child, woman, or man could go without food in the light of the staggering endowment of resources in Africa. Africa constitutes a spacious, rich and arable landmass that can support its population, which is still one of the world’s least densely populated and distributed, into the indefinite future. There is only one condition, though, for the realisation of this goal – Africa must utilise these immense resources for the benefit of its own peoples within newly negotiated, radically decentralised socio-political dispensations which must abandon the current murderous ‘nation-states’. We now no longer require any reminders that the primary existence of these states is to destroy or disable as many enterprisingly resourceful and resource-based constituent peoples, nations and publics within the polity that are placed in their genocidal march and sights.
It is abundantly clear that the factors which have contributed to determining the very poor quality of life of Africa’s population presently have to do with the non-use, partial use, or the gross misuse of the continent’s resources year in, year out. This is thanks to an asphyxiating ‘nation-state’ whose strategic resources are used largely to support the Western World and others and an overseer-grouping of local forces which exists solely to police the dire straits of existence that is the lot of the average African. As a result, the broad sectors of African peoples are yet to be placed and involved, centrally, in the entire process of societal reconstruction and transformation. Surely, an urgently restructured, culturally supportive political framework that enhances the quality of life of Africans is really the pressing subject of focus for Africa.
1. ‘Africa’s Development Disaster’, Comment, London: Catholic Institute for International Affairs, 1985:19.
* Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is the author of Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (Dakar and Reading: African Renaissance, 2011). This article was a discussion paper presented at a youth weekend-school, Stratford, London, 16 June 2012.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
- US expands secret spy operations in Africa (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Just before a midnight deadline, the Obama administration filed a 50-page brief this evening defending the secrecy surrounding the “targeted killing” program. The administration writes: “Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal operations remains classified.” The case concerns a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU last year for records concerning the targeted killing program generally as well as the killing of three American citizens in Yemen last year.
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:
“The notion that the CIA’s targeted killing program is still a secret is beyond absurd. Senior officials have discussed it, both on the record and off. They have taken credit for its putative successes, professed it to be legal, and dismissed concerns about civilian casualties. If they can make these claims to the media, they can answer requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The public is entitled to know more about the legal authority the administration is claiming and the way that the administration is using it. The administration should release the legal memos that purportedly justify the targeted killing program, and it should release more information about the process by which individuals, including American citizens, are added to government kill lists. It should also release the evidence that led the administration to kill three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy, last year.”
“We continue to have profound concerns with the power the administration is claiming and with the proposition that the President should be permitted to exercise this power without oversight by the courts. That the administration believes a power so sweeping should be exercised in secret is astounding.”
Today’s filing comes after the government sought several extensions to respond to the ACLU’s lawsuit. In its last request for an extension, the government stated to the court that it needed further time to allow for “deliberations at the highest levels of the Executive Branch.”
The government’s brief can be found here:
CONTACT: ACLU national, email@example.com
- Drone strikes ‘threaten international law’ (guardian.co.uk)
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. –George Orwell, 1984
Many people have been shocked by the distortion, propaganda and downright lies appearing in the Western media over events in the Middle East.
But for someone living in the Middle East for 30 or 40 years, the lies are nothing new. The distorted conflicts fly furiously through the corrupt Western media.
When asked “What is the most effective military weapon the Israelis have?” The answer has to be “The control of the Western media.”
The domination of the media was decreed at the Zionist conference of 1897.
Gilad Atzmon, anti-Zionist and ex-Israeli Jew, describes it as the “Zionised Western media.”
The effect of this control dictates to the sluggish Western population which countries they may like and which they must hate.
Seventy-year-old Benjamin Freedman, an American anti-Zionist Jew, declared in a speech presented in 1961, “The Zionists rule these United States as though they were absolute monarchs of this country.”
Freedman declared that in 1916, when Britain was seriously considering a peace offered by Germans, on the basis of a status quo ante, the Zionists seized an opportunity to inform the British War Cabinet that they could still win the war.
They used the same techniques to brainwash the British War Cabinet that they have perfected in the media.
“We will guarantee to bring the United States into this war as your ally. The price you must pay is Palestine after you have won the war and defeated Germany, Austria, Hungary and Turkey.” Britain made that promise in October 1916.
Freedman revealed at that time the United States was totally pro-German; the newspapers…all the mass communication media was controlled by Jews who were pro-German.
When the Zionists saw the possibility of getting Palestine, everything changed overnight. Suddenly the Germans were no good. They were villains shooting Red Cross nurses and cutting off babies hands. They were Huns.
An insider during this time, and a few years before, Freedman described American President Woodrow Wilson “as incompetent when it came to determining what was going on as a newborn baby.” The same tactics were used in the media. The American people were duped into joining WWI as they were in going into Iraq.
What is notably absent from the information presentation is reportage of Israeli weaknesses and atrocities.
While US networks are virulent in presenting human tragedy, be it through crime, sickness, weather or other catastrophes, there is scant if any media exposure to human suffering caused by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Neglected veterans suffer the cause of divorces, children who have lost parents or parents unable to perform normally.
The American people appear perfectly content about being ruled by the Zionists. They call it their freedom, which they say other countries envy.
Aside from the US media in general, Zionism has permeated Christian churches and the education system.
This brain-washing has gone on for 100 years and is too deeply embedded for Americans to break out and become responsible and even-handed, especially in dealing with the Middle East.
To revisit George Orwell and 1984, it may not be too late to recognize the lies, their source and how they control us:
“…and if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
If the future portrayed by Orwell is avoidable, the rest of the world must break from Western media control of radio, TV, films and newspapers.
Throughout his life as an educator, Dr. Paul J. Balles, a retired American university professor and freelance writer, has lived and worked in the Middle East for 40 years – first as an English professor (Universities of Kuwait and Bahrain), and for the past ten years as a writer, editor and editorial consultant.
He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS
- A month is a long time in the Zionist “Clash” narrative (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Can Zionism Fool All of the People All of the Time? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Disturbing Case of Adnan Latif
The tragic case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif hit a dead end when the US Supreme Court issued an order refusing to hear his case last week. Latif, a Yemeni man, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002, after being detained while traveling to seek medical treatment.
Latif had suffered serious head injuries as the result of a car accident in 1994, and the Yemeni government paid for him to receive treatment in Jordan at that time. But his medical problems persisted, and in 1999 Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health recommended that Latif undergo tests, therapy and surgical procedures at his own expense. Unable to afford it, Latif said he left Yemen in 2001 with the help of a charitable worker to seek free medical treatment in Pakistan. When he was picked up in Afghanistan — on his way to Pakistan — and transferred to US custody in December 2001, Latif had his medical records with him.
After a kangaroo court proceeding, a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at Guantanamo declared Latif to be an “enemy combatant.” He was not allowed to attend the hearing, nor was he permitted to see the evidence against him. Instead of a lawyer, he was given a “Personal Representative” — a military officer who did not represent Latif’s interests.
Four years ago, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration’s argument that the detainees at Guantanamo had no right to contest the legality of their confinement in US courts. In Boumediene v. Bush, the Court upheld the habeas corpus rights of the detainees, saying they must be given “a meaningful opportunity” to challenge their detention.
Latif petitioned a federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Obama administration opposed the petition, relying on information from an interrogation report. Large sections of the report were blacked out, so it is difficult to know exactly what the report says. But we do know that, according to the report, Latif admitted to being recruited for jihad, receiving weapons training from the Taliban and serving on the front line with other Taliban troops. Latif said his interrogators garbled his words so that their summary bears no relation to what he actually said.
In the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Henry Kennedy granted Latif’s habeas petition, concluding that it could not “credit the information [in the Report] because there is serious question as to whether the [Report] accurately reflects Latif’s words, the incriminating facts in the [Report] are not corroborated, and Latif has presented a plausible alternative story to explain his travel.” It troubled Judge Kennedy that, “[n]o other detainee saw Latif at a training camp or in battle. No other detainee told interrogators that he fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from Tora Bora or any other location, with Latif. No other type of evidence links Latif to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a guest house, or a training camp.”
Particularly significant to Judge Kennedy was that the “fundamentals [of Latif's story] have remained the same.” More than a dozen interrogation summaries and statements contained “[Latif's] adamant denials of any involvement with al Qaida [sic] or the Taliban; his serious head injury from a car accident in Yemen; his inability to pay for the necessary medical treatment; and his expectation and hope that [the charitable worker] would get him free medical care.”
Judge Kennedy also reasoned that errors in the report support “an inference that poor translation, sloppy note taking . . . [blacked out] . . . or some combination of those factors resulted in an incorrect summary of Latif’s words.” The fact that Latif was found in possession of his medical papers when seized, according to the judge, “corroborat[ed]” Latif’s “plausible” story.
The government appealed the district court ruling to the conservative US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reversed the grant of habeas corpus. The appellate court admitted that the interrogation report was “prepared in stressful and chaotic conditions, filtered through interpreters, subject to transcription errors, and heavily redacted [parts blacked out] for national security purposes.” But for the first time, the DC Circuit held that government reports must be accorded a “presumption of regularity.” That means they will be presumed to be true unless the detainee can rebut that presumption.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who wrote the opinion for the two judges in the majority on the three-judge appellate panel, twisted Boumediene‘s statement that “innovation” could be used in habeas corpus proceedings into a “presumption of regularity” in government reports. Judge Brown criticized “Boumediene‘s airy suppositions.”
The dissenting appellate judge, David S. Tatel, noted that, in practice, the presumption of regularity will compel courts to rubber-stamp government detentions because “it suggest[s] that whatever the government says must be true.” He concluded that the report in Latif’s case was inherently unreliable because “it contain[s] multiple layers of hearsay.” Judge Tatel accused the majority of denying Latif the “meaningful opportunity” to contest the lawfulness of his detention that Boumediene guarantees.
When seven detainees whose petitions had been denied by the DC Circuit, including Latif, took their cases to the Supreme Court, they hoped the high court would do justice. During the Bush administration, the Court had struck down illegal and unjust executive policies. These included the denial of habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo detainees, the refusal to afford due process to US citizens caught in the “war on terror” and the holding of military commissions because they violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.
But hope for justice died last week when the Court refused to even consider the propriety of the appellate court’s denial of habeas corpus to those seven detainees. Henceforth, detainees who lose in the DC Circuit cannot expect the Supreme Court to give them relief. Their last stop will be at one of the most right-wing circuits in the country, which overturns or delays all release orders by federal judges if the government objects.
The Supreme Court’s refusal to review the appellate court decisions in these cases has rendered Boumediene a dead letter. Since 2008, two-thirds of detainees who have filed habeas corpus petitions have won at the district court level, yet not one of them has been released by judicial order. Judge Tatel wrote that “it is hard to see what is left of the Supreme Court’s command in Boumediene that habeas review be ‘meaningful.’”
Like many men at Guantanamo, Latif went on a hunger strike to assert the only power he had in the face of utter hopelessness — the power to refuse food. He was force-fed for three months, which, he says, “is like having a dagger shoved down your throat.” As attorney Marc D. Falkoff writes in his chapter about Latif in The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, “[t]he United Nations Commission on Human Rights calls this torture.”
Of the 800 men and boys held at Guantanamo since 2002, 169 remain. Of those prisoners, 87 have had their release approved by military review boards established during the Bush administration, and later by the Guantanamo Review Task Force established by President Obama in 2009. Yet they continue to languish in the prison camp.
In her opinion, Judge Brown wrote, “Luckily, this is a shrinking category of cases. The ranks of Guantanamo detainees will not be replenished.” Indeed, Obama has sent only one new prisoner to Guantanamo. His strategy is to assassinate “suspected militants” or people present in “suspicious areas” with drones, obviating the necessity of incarcerating them and dealing with their detention in court. As Judge Brown ominously observed, “Boumediene‘s logic is compelling: take no prisoners. Point taken.”
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.
BETHLEHEM – Hamas’ armed wing said it fired a barrage of rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli military targets on Wednesday in response to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The Al-Qassam Brigades said it fired 24 rockets, 10 missiles and nine mortars at Israeli army bases since dawn Wednesday.
“These operations are part of the repelling operations against the (Israeli) occupation assaults on Gaza Strip and West Bank, and as a response for the ongoing aggression against Palestinian people,” the brigades said in a statement.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said at least 20 rockets were fired into southern Israel on Wednesday, without causing injuries.
A border policeman was wounded by a rocket on Tuesday night, she said. A rocket fired from Gaza had exploded inside a border police base in south Israel.
Israel has killed eight Palestinians in airstrikes and tank shelling on the Gaza Strip since Monday, including two Hamas militants.
Hamas joined in the hostilities on Tuesday, for the first time in over a year. The Al-Qassam Brigades usually holds its fire under an unofficial truce and Hamas in the past has discouraged smaller militant groups from firing at Israel.
Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from the Gaza Strip.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said Tuesday that Israel’s attacks prompted the group’s military wing “to take a firm stance” and launch rockets.
The Al-Mujahedin Brigades, the armed wing of the Al-Mujahedin movement, said in a statement that it fired 12 rockets at Israeli targets on Wednesday.
The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — said it fired two rockets across the border in a joint operation with the Shuhada Al-Aqsa – Karama army.
The Popular Resistance Committees’ Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades said it launched seven rockets into Israel and the Abdul Qader Husseini Brigades said it fired a grad rocket toward Ashkelon.
The Al-Ansar brigades, the armed wing of the Al-Ahrar movement, said it fired 11 rockets into Israel on Wednesday afternoon in response to Israeli aggression.
- #GazaUnderAttack | June 20, 2012 | Israeli forces fire on Gaza Strip, 4 injured (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- #GazaUnderAttack | Israel strikes Gaza overnight, Hamas responds (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
The top British Foreign Office official on Middle East has turned a blind eye to the Israeli regimes’ killing and injuring of 15 Gazans while condemning Palestinians’ response in the form of rocket fire in yet another hypocritical defense of Israeli brutalities against Palestinians.
British Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said he is “deeply concerned” about and condemns the Palestinian rocket fire into the Occupied Territories, keeping silent on the Israeli warplanes’ pounding of the population-packed Gaza since Monday.
The Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least eight civilians, including a 14-year-old, and injured another seven, including children over the past days.
The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, said on Tuesday that it has fired 10 Grad rockets at the Occupied Territories in response to Tel Aviv’s atrocities against Palestinian civilians.
“This is our answer to the Zionist crimes. It will continue if they carry out more strikes on Gaza,” a Hamas spokesman said.
However, Burt condemned the rocket fire without any reference to Israeli crimes and only called for restraint in the region.
“I am deeply concerned about this week’s escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel,” Burt said.
“I condemn this indiscriminate rocket fire into southern Israel, as I do all acts of terrorism. The UK urges all parties to exercise restraint and prevent civilian casualties and loss of life,” he added.
The Israeli regime’s military frequently bombs the Gaza Strip, claiming the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes.
However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.
The Israeli regime killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, many of them women and children, in a 22-day barrage of attacks on Gaza in late December 2007.
The strikes left thousands of others injured, homeless or traumatized while a great part of the infrastructure in the coastal strip was destroyed.
Over the last 7 months, UK journalists have consistently voiced their objection to nuclear weapons proliferation. This opposition appears as the western media holds a magnifying glass to Iran and speculation abounds over Iran’s nuclear capabilities; speculation that appears to be more in line with western governments’ policy rather than with any real evidence. Bloggers at the Telegraph are so against the proliferation of nuclear weapons that Con Coughlin called in November 2011 for ‘Barack Obama to act’ against Iran, and Dan Hodges called for the creation of a ‘Start the War Coalition‘ to stop Iran from potentially developing a nuclear bomb.
The BBC has shown similar concern. On 27 November 2011 it reported that an IAEA report suggested that ‘Iran was working towards acquiring a nuclear weapon’, even though the report said no such thing. Three days later, Jon Simpson described Iran as ‘a country that doesn’t play by the rules – a country that seems close to having a nuclear bomb’.
Throughout 2012, Julian Borger, the security correspondent at the Guardian, has been examining reports from the Washington think-tank ISIS, mainstreaming the speculation (rather than evidence) that Iran might be developing a nuclear bomb at a military site in Parchin in his Guardian ‘Security Blog’.
Journalists are so concerned, in fact, that they seem unable to bring themselves to challenge UK politicians’ outright fabrications about Iran’s nuclear programme. So, George Osborne went unchallenged when he spoke to the BBC about ‘the development of Iran’s weaponised military nuclear weapon programme’, while Liam Fox (former Defence Secretary of a nuclear state) faced no objection when he told the Today show’s James Naughtie that ‘obviously, Iran is a nuclear weapon state’. A Guardian headline even read: “Iran ‘seeking to build nuclear weapons’, warns David Cameron” (a statement based on ‘intelligence’) – a headline that no doubt reminded many of Blair’s 2003 claims about Iraq.
Considering this unified and overwhelming concern for potential nuclear weapons development, how do the UK news providers react when the UK, another signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), announces another step in continued noncompliance with the treaty with ‘a £1bn contract for reactors for the next generation of the UK’s nuclear-armed submarines’?
What are the priorities for discussion in reporting on moves toward the UK’s renewal of its nuclear weapons system, in direct contravention of the NPT? Will the UK be called out as ‘a country that doesn’t play by the rules’?
Article VI of the NPT states that:
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament
As such, one consideration might be the continued disregard of this article, as manifest in the UK’s policies. Journalists now have it handed to them on a plate: a country with an enormous military budget which has invaded and bombed a number of countries in the last decade (often regardless of international law) continues to brazenly flout the NPT. But instead this is reported rather positively, presented in such a way by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to focus the emphasis on job creation and economic output.
The Telegraph report highlights the strong public opposition to the renewal of Trident, noting that ‘A poll two years ago found that 63% of the public said they supported scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent… ’ Against this opposition it seems must now be pitted the argument of job creation. The Telegraph quotes an ‘MoD source’ praising the plans as ‘a great boost for jobs’. Job creation appears a key point in both a BBC report and similar Press Association report on the deal, carried by the Guardian, which cite 300 jobs which will be created under the deal.
This is a standard argument for those in favour of the renewal of the Trident system. It is of the same line of reasoning that exalts the arms industry (that lucrative supplier of weaponry to repressive regimes) for its contribution to the economy. Taking their cue from the MoD, the Telegraph warns that ‘It is … claimed that failing to commission a new wave of submarines could cost up to 15,000 British jobs.’ This threat of a loss of employment is put forward in all seriousness, following a year in which more than a quarter of a million public workers lost their jobs following government cuts – something the Telegraph all but celebrates.
In this immediate coverage of the £1bn contract, priorities for discussion are limited to party politics (Lib Dem/Conservative fallout) and the implications for ‘British jobs’. The sham concern over the risks of nuclear proliferation when discussing Iran is in high contrast to the media’s portrayal of the UK’s nuclear ambitions, which relies heavily on the rhetoric of MoD sources while issues of the NPT and nuclear disarmament go unmentioned.
- U.S. Sides With Israel’s Nukes Over Iran’s Lack Thereof (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hillary distinguishes Israel from Iran in NPT (thehindu.com)
- Iran’s IAEA envoy: Britain and France violating NPT (EndtheLie.com)
Most Americans who are actually interested in foreign policy would not expect to learn anything from the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid The New York Post. A brief article that appeared in the paper (but not on their website) and also in Commentary magazine on June 12th was written by Alana Goodman. The piece illustrates precisely why brainwashed readers of either publication should expect little in the way of balance. Goodman is the assistant online editor of Commentary, which focuses on Jewish issues and was founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee.
The article is entitled “Unions Back Israel-Basher” and relates to one Charles Barron, a Democrat who is running for a congressional seat in Brooklyn. According to Goodman, Barron is an “extremist, a dictator apologist, and a passionate Israel-basher…” Why? Well, he has a file over at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is headed by the always on the alert Abe Foxman. Barron, who has admittedly crafted a career as a loose cannon, has made the list of anti-Semites because he has referred to Gaza as a “virtual death camp,” has criticized the “Jewish lobby,” and has called the Israeli government “the biggest terrorist in the world.”
Goodman’s problem is that two public service unions have endorsed Barron and she cannot understand how two large “D” Democratic institutions can possibly find him acceptable. Well, the unions in question have many black members and Barron has a history of appealing to supporters along racial lines, meaning that their money and endorsement are a result of his speaking to their interests. But that would not be an explanation that Goodman would find acceptable because, for her, everything is about Israel and her never-ending search for Israel-bashers.
Goodman also reported, in the Commentary version of her article, about the Democratic Party backlash:
“Former Mayor Ed Koch, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Councilman David Greenfield, and Assemblyman Dov Hikind gathered with several other elected officials in front of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park this morning for a press conference billed as an effort ‘to Denounce Charles Barron as Enemy of the State of Israel’ and the Jewish community. The politicos who showed up at the event where longtime councilman Mr. Barron was branded ‘hateful,’ a ‘scary monster,’ ‘anti-Semite’ and ‘bigot’ also expressed their support for his rival in the congressional race, Hakeem Jeffries.”
But equally interesting is the litmus test of what it takes to become an ADL and Ed Koch certified anti-Semite in this country. Gaza is a death camp? Well, it actually is, isn’t it? And the Israelis are the prison guards. The Jewish Lobby is not a force for good? Go read Mearsheimer and Walt, both educated white guys who have made the point very forcefully based on impeccable scholarship. And Israel as the world’s biggest terrorist? Measured by what Israel is up to relating to Iran it is certainly the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.
Barron might well turn out to be a lousy congressman for many reasons, but denouncing him a priori for his views of a foreign country is a bit much.