An Israeli security video recently leaked to the media shows that a Palestinian teenager who was killed at a checkpoint on December 12th was actually walking away from soldiers when he was shot in the back. The video shows absolutely no indication of the boy carrying any object that could be mistaken for a gun, as the Israeli military originally claimed.
After originally releasing an edited version of the security footage on December 17th, some journalists tried to get the Israeli military to release a full, unedited copy of the video. An unedited version was leaked by Israeli channel 10 television on Wednesday December 26th, which includes 19 seconds that was edited out – including the final (probably fatal) of the three shots fired at Mohammed Abu Salaymeh, which hit him in the back when he was already doubled over from the impact of the first two shots.
Abu Salaymeh, 17, was a student at the circus school in Hebron, and was killed while on his way to get his birthday cake. He was killed on his 17th birthday. In a statement issued the day after Mohammed’s death, the Palestinian Circus School (PCS) issued a statement saying, “Mohammed Salaymeh, 17 years old, our beloved student at the Palestinian Circus School since one and a half years, was brutally killed by the Israeli army in Hebron yesterday. Rest in Peace, dear Mohammed. You will always stay in our hearts. Today we can only be sad, and be close to the family in our thoughts and prayers.”
The Palestinian Circus School (PCS) is a program of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and has branches in four Palestinian cities: Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and Jerusalem. The school’s website states, “The PCS team has witnessed the positive effects of the circus workshops on the well-being of the children and the youth. We are encouraged to see them become more self confident, engage in respectful relationships with each other, and develop more trust, team spirit, and a higher concentration. Most importantly, they get a new taste for life. PCS also wants to be a model for promoting diversity and cooperation. The school enrols students from different socio-economic backgrounds and has been very successful in creating spaces where all these young people work together as one big circus family. Where they come from or what party or religion they belong to doesn’t matter. What is important is their common passion for circus arts and the joint motivation to offer something positive for their society.”
The video released this week of Mohammed’s death at the hands of Israeli soldiers further brings into question the Israeli military’s initial account of the incident. When the soldiers shot Mohammed on December 12th, the Israeli military issued a statement through a spokesperson that was widely reported in the media. In that statement, the military claimed that the teen appeared to have wielded a toy gun that was mistaken for a real gun, and that is why the soldier shot him.
As the video shows, there was no such object in Mohammed’s hand, and the claim that the soldier felt threatened is obviously false, in that the boy was nowhere near the soldier when he was shot three times and killed. There was a struggle with one of the officers, in which Mohammed appears to be fighting with the soldier. But it is after he has backed away from the soldier that the initial shots are fired, and a soldier moves in from another direction and kills him.
The Israeli military frequently issues statements immediately after the killing of Palestinians by its soldiers, making claims that are later proven to be false. In this way, media reports initially following these incidents often contain misinformation, as many media agencies simply report the military’s statements verbatim.
A new unedited video surfaced Thursday showing an Israeli soldier firing what appeared to be the ‘kill shot’ that ended the life of a 17-year-old Palestinian at a Hebron checkpoint earlier this month.
The video shows the soldier fire three shots at Mohammed al-Salamey after provoking the boy to throw several punches on December 12.
The first shot was fired at point blank range. A second shot was fired three seconds later from a distance of about 2 meters as Salamey attempted to gain his balance thrown off by the first shot.
The third and final shot was fired from a distance of about three meters several seconds later after Salamey had already been incapacitated.
A shorter, edited version of the video had previously been released by Israel’s army that omitted about 14 seconds in the middle, and another five seconds at the end which showed the final gunshot.
It is not clear what the soldier said to provoke the boy, but Israelis routinely harass and humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints.
The killing occurred as Salamey was reportedly travelling to buy a cake to celebrate his 17th birthday.
- Family denies Hebron teen killed by Israel was carrying toy gun (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces kill teenager on his 17th birthday in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Second group of journalists beaten in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
“Not only crop destruction, but US policies of extensive bombing, defoliation, and relocation of people from the countryside seem clearly to fall within the definition of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” wrote the Stanford Biology Group in a report entitled The Destruction of Indochina.
As part of a deliberate campaign of environmental destruction during its war against Vietnam, the US sprayed the countryside with herbicides containing carcinogenic chemicals to destroy tropical forest foliage and agricultural crops. The objectives of this diabolical program, which perhaps should be called “death by defoliant,” were threefold: first, to deprive the Vietnamese resistance fighters of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of hiding places and cover; second, to starve them into surrender by wiping out their food supply; and third, to drive rural peasants to urban areas controlled by the US-backed regime in an attempt to decimate popular support for the NLF.
Code-named Operation Hades and later Ranch Hand, the aerial application of the defoliant known as Agent Orange, which was manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto, extended from August 1961 until August 1970, before being suspended by Deputy US Secretary of Defense David Packard. Some 49 million liters of the lethal herbicide were sprayed over 12 percent of the land area of Vietnam using average application rates 13 times higher than those recommended by the US Department of Agriculture for domestic weed control.
Agent Orange, so called because of the herbicide’s orange striped container, is a mixture of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and n-butyl-2,3,4-trichlorophenoxyacetate (2,4,5-T), both of which are likely carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over 18 million kilograms of 2,4,5-T, which constitutes 50 percent of Agent Orange, were sprayed on Vietnam as part of the fiendish US war crimes there.
By 1966, 2,4,5-T had been shown to cause greatly increased rates of birth defects, a fact which was suppressed by the US Government but confirmed by news reports from Saigon of increased birth deformities. The 2,4,5-T was also found to have been contaminated with TCDD (2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin), a known carcinogen described as “perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man.” That the executives at Dow Chemical were well aware of the toxicity of the dioxin-contaminated 2,4,5-T was confirmed by an intra-company memo dated 22 February 1965.
As a result of the immoral and irresponsible herbicide spraying by the US under Operation Ranch Hand, it is estimated: 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange; 800,000 people suffer serious health problems and require constant medical attention; and 50,000 deformed children were born to parents who were either directly sprayed with defoliant or were exposed through consumption of contaminated food and water.
In 1990, in order to keep the Agent Orange atrocities under wraps, the White House under President Ronald Reagan ordered the cancellation of a 1987 Center for Disease Control study, which had concluded that Vietnam veterans ran a 50-percent increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer, as compared to veterans who had been stationed elsewhere. Today, the US Veterans’ Administration assumes that all military personnel who served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange.
Since then, research has linked Agent Orange exposure to the following cancers: Soft tissue sarcoma; NHL; Hodgkin’s disease; and Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), including hairy cell leukemia and other chronic B-cell leukemias. Evidence also suggests a link between Agent Orange exposure and respiratory cancers, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma. Also, sufficient evidence exists suggesting Agent Orange exposure is linked to Chloracne, Amyloidosis, Transient peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, Porphyria cutanea tarda, High blood pressure, Ischemic heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Spina bifida in children of those exposed.
In addition, exposure to the dioxin-laden chemical has been shown to be a risk factor in a number of cancers, diseases and other conditions, including: immune deficiency; reproductive and developmental abnormalities; central and peripheral nervous system pathology; endocrine disruption; diabetes; decreased pulmonary functions and bronchitis; eyelid pathology; altered serum testosterone levels; skin rashes; and thyroid disorders.
And the remnants of Agent Orange from the US war against Vietnam continue the legacy of death by defoliant:
The environment around many former US military bases is still contaminated,
Heavily sprayed areas remain a source of dioxin contamination,
Dioxin levels around Da Nang are 300 to 400 times higher than internationally accepted limits,
Over a million hectares of forests have been destroyed, causing a loss of ecological equilibrium,
Birds and animals have been destroyed along with forests either by direct spraying or as a result of destruction of food sources,
Barren, dry lands still exist in provinces in southern Vietnam where nothing grows,
And higher rates of birth defects exist among residents of sprayed regions and among families of veterans who fought in the south.
Agent Orange defoliation operations by the US were not limited to Vietnam, either, but were also conducted in Korea in the demilitarized zone (DMZ). From 1968 to 1969, over 220,000 liters of Agent Orange were sprayed over some 8,500 hectares of Korean land near the DMZ, affecting an estimated 4,000 US and 30,000 Korean soldiers. Others claim that the deadly defoliant was used there as far back as the late 1950s. According to a US Veterans’ Administration press release, “VA will presume herbicide exposure for any Veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.”
The use of Agent Orange in Korea is particularly relevant to the writer, since I served in the US Army from August 1969 to August 1970 as a driver with the 2nd Supply and Transport Battalion at Camp Jessup, Munson, Korea located a few kilometers south of the DMZ. I was shocked to learn that I, too, must have been exposed to Agent Orange while carrying out my driving duties all around the region. Perhaps exposure to Agent Orange caused my thyroid problems or my children’s developmental disorders; lacking clear evidence, I don’t know for certain. But I would find comfort in knowing the truth – as no doubt would every victim of this horrific herbicide – even 40+ years after the fact.
Veteran Chuck Searcy, who returned to Vietnam to help with humanitarian programs for disabled children, said, “For me, the evidence is clear. I know it’s difficult to say 100 percent that this is the result of Agent Orange, but if you can find no other reason, then I agree with these families who believe the problem is the result of Agent Orange.”
In a February 2008 decision, the US second circuit Court of Appeals dimmed Agent Orange victims’ hopes of bringing to justice the criminal US government and complicit chemical companies responsible for Agent Orange. The Vietnamese plaintiffs then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which on 2 March 2009 refused to hear the case, bringing an end to litigation, but not the decree on the victims of death by defoliant.
Thus, almost 40 years have passed since the end of the US war against Vietnam, but for over 4 million Vietnamese and other victims of exposure who suffer profoundly both mentally and physically each day, this crime against humanity remains unpunished.
Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a freelance writer and political critic who has written dozens of articles on the Middle East and US policy. A former engineer with a background in mathematics and a convert to Islam, he currently writes perspectives on Islam, social justice, economics and politics from the viewpoint of an American convert to Shia Islam, focusing on the deleterious role played by the US in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Punto Fijo – Venezuela’s economy grew by 5.5 percent in 2012, fuelled largely by public spending and government housing programs, according to statistics released yesterday by Venezuela’s central bank.
The 5.5 percent growth in gross domestic product makes for 9 consecutive quarters of growth, higher than the 4.8 percent growth reported for 2011, and higher than the 5 percent growth forecast by the government.
A heavy push by the government to construct hundreds of thousands of homes in 2012 created a growth of 16.8 percent in construction, whereas government services expanded 5.2 percent, according to preliminary figures.
Commerce grew by 9.2 percent and communications by 7.2 percent, whereas manufacturing grew by only 2.1 percent, and the oil sector grew by 1.4 percent.
“We are above what we had forecast, even as the world is submerged in a crisis,” said central bank president Nelson Merentes.
Statistics released from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) also showed that unemployment had decreased to 6.4 percent, while formal employment had grown from 48 percent to 57 percent of total employment.
“Informal employment has continued to decrease from 51 percent to 42.5 percent, and around three million new formal jobs have been created during this period,” said INE president Elías Eljuri.
Some analysts have predicted that the Venezuelan economy could be hit hard in 2013 as the state is forced to devalue the currency and reduce spending from 2012.
However, government officials have forecast 6 percent growth for 2013, and assure that the economy is entering a period of consolidated growth.
“The negative events of the economy are behind us. We have entered a stage of growth, and we are among the five fastest growing economies in Latin America,” said finance minister Jorge Giordani.
Officials did not make any mention of a devaluation of the currency, but said that those kinds of adjustments are not announced beforehand.
According to calculations by Bank of America, Venezuela’s fiscal deficit for 2012 is around 8.8 percent of GDP, much lower than the 20 percent number that has been circulating among opposition sources and used to criticize government spending.
- Economic BS in Rich Countries is Reinforced by BS about Venezuela (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Achievements of Hugo Chavez (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Venezuela Among the Most Positive Countries, Gallup Says (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Either 21st century Americans are saner than ever before or we’re too sick as a society to properly care for the mentally ill among us, but the fact is that fewer of us are receiving mental health care in psychiatric hospitals. According to “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals,” a study by the Treatment Advocacy Center, per capita state psychiatric bed populations plunged in 2010 to 14 beds per 100,000 population, identical to 1850, when the movement to treat seriously mentally ill persons in hospitals began. The number peaked at 300 beds per 100,000 in 1950, and has been declining ever since.
Using data from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Research Institute, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and four co-authors show that just from 2005 to 2010, the number of state psychiatric beds decreased by 14%, from 50,509 to 43,318. Noting that states have continued to eliminate beds since 2010, the report concludes that “many states appear to be effectively terminating a public psychiatric treatment system that has existed for nearly two centuries. The system was originally created to protect both the patients and the public, and its termination is taking place with little regard for the consequences to either group.”
Given the lack of hospital care, many of the most severely mentally ill, especially those whose conditions make it difficult for them to conform to social norms or control behaviors, wind up in hospital emergency departments, jails and prisons, all of which suffer as a result.
• Hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded with acutely ill patients who wait days or weeks for a psych bed to open; many are released without treatment.
• In some communities, as many as two-thirds of the homeless population is mentally ill, leading to frequent encounters with law enforcement.
• Jails and prisons are increasingly filled with the mentally ill, with some facilities reporting that one-third or more of their inmates are severely mentally ill.
Not surprisingly, the study found that states that cut funding for public hospitals experienced increased arrest-related deaths, as well as higher rates of violent crime generally, especially aggravated assault.
To Learn More:
No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals (by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., et al., Treatment Advocacy Center) (pdf)
Newtown Shooting Put Spotlight on U.S. Mental Health Care–Again (by Sydney Lupkin, ABC News)
- Bullets Are Safety Net as 64 Mentally Ill Die at Hands of Police (bloomberg.com)
- Newtown shooting shines light on gap in mental health services for young adults (charlotteobserver.com)
- A heart attack and psychiatric crisis are equally deserving of treatment (pattidudek.typepad.com)
Tom Friedman has been getting better on the Middle East lately, though he still has a long way to go before he can be taken seriously, at least in terms of his analytical acuity as opposed to his unfortunate influence. For example, consider today’s column on Obama and Chuck Hagel: not bad at all (though certainly not up to Steve Walt on the same topic, at http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/), with the rather large exception of his remarkable contention that Israel “is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever.”
Well, let’s see about that. To the west of Israel is Egypt–ok, probably not as “friendly” to Israel as in the Mubarak days, but with no indication that the new regime intends to abandon its peace treaty with Israel. To the north is Lebanon, too weak to threaten anyone but itself and with no intention–that includes Hezbollah–of embarking on an unprovoked attack (maybe not even a provoked one) against Israel. To the northeast lies Syria, which under the Assads, father and son, has not only rigorously prevented any attacks on Israel from its soil but has been willing to sign a peace treaty with it, if only Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights.
To the east is Jordan, if anything a de facto ally of Israel. Finally, close by lies Saudi Arabia–the same Saudi Arabia that for thirty years has been the leader of the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel not only a peace treaty but full normalization of diplomatic and economic relations, provided that Israel ends its occupation and agrees to a two-state settlement with the Palestinians.
Who’s left? Well, Iraq is over 500 miles away, possibly a threat to Israel under Saddam Hussein, at least in theory, but obviously not today. Ok, Iran, the single implacable enemy of Israel, but at 1000 miles away, hardly “surrounding” Israel, and in any case lacking all capability or any apparent intention of attacking Israel–as opposed to the other way around.
Perhaps Friedman was sick during the week when they taught world geography in the third grade. Even so, that hardly explains why the Times would allow such mind-boggling absurdity to be published.