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Current News and Analysis

New York’s stop-and-frisk policy ineffective in recovering guns, stopping murders – report

RT | August 21, 2014

1July1-1-600x399Data on New York City’s stop-and-frisk policing program during the reign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg show the policy, which disproportionately targeted minorities, was not effective in reducing shootings and murders, according to a new report.

Officials in the Big Apple have long justified the punitive law enforcement tactic as a needed tool for reducing gun violence and the sheer number of firearms on city streets. During the Bloomberg era, New York Police Department data shows that NYPD officers made more than 5 million stops, a quarter of them of young black men who represent only 1.9 percent of the city’s population.

The racial profiling associated with the program created much animosity between city communities and the police department. The policy has been modified after a tense legal fight at the end of Bloomberg’s third term and mayoral election where the program was front and center. … Full article

Kosovo and Ukraine: Compare and contrast

By Neil Clark | RT | August 20, 2014

There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.

The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.

The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.

Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.

What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine. … continue

Kurdish oil tanker spotted off Israel

MEMO | August 21, 2014

A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan reappeared unladen on 19 August nearly 30 km from the coast of Israel, Reuters Live AIS ship tracking system showed.

Al-Quds newspaper reported that this is the second time that the Kamari oil tanker has appeared in the region during the past two weeks loaded with Kurdish oil. The monitoring system showed the Kamari partially unloaded north of Egypt’s Sinai on 17 August before turning off its satellite communication device until 19 August. … continue

F-16 Missile Attacks Venezuelan Humanitarian Aid Mission in Gaza

TeleSur | August 21, 2014

Venezuelan ambassador to Egypt, Juan Antonio Hernandez, denounced on Wednesday that an Israeli aircraft attacked the Venezuelan humanitarian delegation in Rameh along the border post between Egypt and Palestine. No one was injured during the attack.

The F-16 airplane dropped a missile very close to the humanitarian site but did not explode. The ambassador confirmed that the missile fell approximately 50 to 70 meters from the site.

The Venezuelan humanitarian delegation delivered twelve tons of aid to the Palestinian people.

Hernandez referred to the action as “an act of intimidation, which is not a coincidence and it proves that Tel Aviv is trying to halt humanitarian aid, because right now Venezuela is an important beacon for the Palestinian people”. … Full article

The ICC Should Live Up To Its Mandate

By Cesar Chelala | CounterPunch | August 21, 2014

The 1998 Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court’s founding charter, states that one of the critical ICC’s tasks is that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished.” However, under pressure from the US and the European Community, the ICC has avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza. By doing so, the ICC is not living up to its mandate.

Lawyers for the Palestinians -whose civilian population has been most punished by the ongoing war in Gaza- state that the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has the legal authority to launch an investigation based on a Palestinian request in 2009. However, Bensouda claims that she needs a new Palestinian declaration to do it.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, who was the ICC prosecutor at the time of the Palestinian declaration, supports Bensouda’s position. However, The Guardian quotes a former official from the ICC prosecutor’s office stating, “They are trying to hide behind legal jargon to disguise what is a political decision, to rule out competence and not get involved.”

Moreno Ocampo took three years to decide on the status of the 2009 Palestinian request for an investigation, following the tragic events of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, called Cast Lead. During that time, both the US and Israel intensely pressured him not to allow an investigation, warning him that the future of the ICC was at stake. … continue

Israel Bans International Human Rights Workers from Gaza

By Celine Hagbard | IMEMC News | August 21, 2014

Since beginning its assault on the Gaza Strip on July 8th, Israeli officials have prevented human rights observers and experts employed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from entering Gaza to conduct independent investigations.

Both groups are known worldwide for their work in exposing human rights abuses, and both groups have, in the past, filed reports critical of both the Hamas party in Gaza and of Israel’s practices toward Palestinians. But Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch employees have been unsuccessful in their attempts to bring observers into Gaza during the Israeli invasion.

The groups have called on both Israel and Egypt to lift the restrictions on human rights observers, and allow their employees to enter Gaza.

The joint press release filed by the two groups reads as follows… continue

Israeli Strikes on Gaza Kill Resistance Commanders, Civilians

Al-Manar | August 21, 2014

The Zionist entity is going on with its brutal offensive against Gaza, with new airstrikes on Thursday killed at least six civilians, including four children, as well as three commanders in resistance movement, Hamas.

Spokesman for the emergency services in the besieged strip said that one strike targeted a group of people in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing a man and a 13-year-old boy, while a second hit Gaza City, killing four people, three of them children.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas announced that three of its senior commanders were martyred in a pre-dawn Israeli air strike in southern Gaza.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades identified the three as Mohammad Abu Shamala, Raed al-Atar and Mohammad Barhoum.

Witnesses said the strike, which took place in the southern city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, leveled a four-storey family home in Rafah.

The attack came after the wife and infant son of the Brigades’ top military leader, Mohammad Deif, were martyred in an Israeli strike on a multi-storey building in Gaza City late Tuesday.

Palestinian child brutally savaged by Israeli settlers’ dogs

Two Belgian nuclear reactors may be closed permanently: state media

Reuters – August 20, 2014

BRUSSELS – Two Belgian nuclear reactors owned by GDF-Suez unit Electrabel may remain offline until spring and may need to be halted permanently, Belgian state broadcaster VRT reported on Tuesday.

The Belgian nuclear regulator ordered production to be stopped at the 1,008 megawatt Tihange 2 reactor and the 1,006 megawatt Doel 3 reactor in 2012 after finding indications of cracks in their core tanks. … Full article

No bodies

By Rud Istvan | Climate Etc. | August 20, 2014

One of the firmer catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) predictions made by IPCC AR4 WG2 was an alarming increase in species extinctions.

§4.4.11 Global synthesis including impacts on biodiversity was quite specific. If warming reached 3°C above pre-industrial levels (projected absent serious mitigation) 21-52% of all species were committed to extinction (not necessarily yet extinct) by 2100. This official finding was based on 78 conclusions from 57 peer-reviewed papers on climate change impacts on biodiversity, all listed in WG2 table 4.1. It appears to be overwhelming scientific evidence. It isn’t. There are no bodies.

Despite the dire IPCC AR4 CAGW extinction prediction, there has yet to be a single climate change extinction “body”. Polar bears are thriving. So are Adélie penguins in Antarctica.[i], [ii] Costa Rica’s golden toad was done in by the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, not AGW.[iii] Australia’s white lemuroid ringtail possum lives on in Queensland forest preserves. [iv] A contemporary peer reviewed criticism of AR4 WG2 extinctions concluded its abstract by observing:

We note a Quaternary conundrum: While current empirical and theoretical ecological results suggest that many species could be at risk from global warming, during the recent ice ages surprisingly few species became extinct.” [v]

In other words, there are no bodies.

So how did IPCC AR4 WG2 reach its supposedly scientific conclusion? … continue

Nearly four-dozen arrested in Ferguson on eve of attorney general’s visit

RT | August 20, 2014

A relatively calm evening gave way to the arrest of 47 protesters early Wednesday morning in Ferguson, Missouri, marking the eleventh night of demonstrations touched off by the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a local police officer.

Attorney General Eric Holder is due to visit the majority-black St. Louis suburb at 11 a.m. local time for an update on the federal civil rights investigation concerning the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, on August 9 by Darren Wilson, one of 50 white Ferguson police officers on a 53-member force. … Full article

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | August 20, 2014

The brave and besieged people of Ferguson, Missouri, have already caused serious complications for the U.S. National Security State. By virtue of simply standing their ground in their own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. … continue

Freedom to Live Ordinary Lives

By Stuart Littlewood | Dissident Voice | August 19, 2014

I have just received a very disappointing reply from my true-blue Tory MP to pleas for real government action over the slaughter in Gaza.

A similarly worthless response has been received in other parts of the country so I conclude that the ex-Etonian didn’t pen the twaddle himself. More likely it was the work, as usual, of a Foreign Office scribbler trained by Mark Regev’s hasbara unit in Tel Aviv. … continue

Gaza Ceasefire Collapses: What Did You Expect?

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | August 19, 2014


Here’s what a U.S. built bunker buster bomb looks like as it slaughters a pregnant mom and her little daughter

Israel grasped an opportunity to assassinate one of Hamas’ top military leaders, Mohammed Deif, last night and instead murdered his pregnant wife and daughter at the Al Dalou home. A Palestinian Twitter user posted this:

Rajai abuKhalilرجائي @Rajaiabukhalil

AlDalou Family house was targeted by 5 GBU28 bombs. The “Guided Bomb Unit 28″ is a 5,000pound laser-guided “bunker busting” bomb made in USA

We may now thank the U.S. government for permitting Israel to further escalate the massacre Israel wants us to call Operation Protective Edge. You thought bunker busters might be used against Iranian nuclear sites. You thought they might be used to prevent it from getting WMDs. Little did you know it would be used to kill a mother and her little daughter. Congratulations, U.S. citizen. This is your handiwork. And send further regards to Barack Obama and John Kerry who don’t have the b(&@s to do what has to be done to reign in the psychopaths pursuing this annihilationist strategy against Gaza.

Deif, whom Israel has attempted to kill many times, may have survived, though reports say a third unidentified person was killed as well. The reason why this is especially important is that Israel was supposedly observing a temporary ceasefire and supposedly negotiating in good faith with Egypt and Hamas about a permanent ceasefire.

We can clearly see how genuine Israeli ceasefires and commitments are. … Full article

20 killed by Israeli strikes since truce collapsed

Ma’an - 20/08/2014

GAZA CITY – Renewed Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed 20 Palestinians since a temporary ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, a health ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Ashraf al-Qidra said that Zaki Suleiman al-Rai, 54, died from wounds sustained early Wednesday. The bodies of Mustafa Rabah al-Dalou, 14 and Wafaa Hussein al-Dalou were also recovered from the wreckage of the al-Dalou family home in Gaza City.

Earlier, a two-year-old Palestinian girl was killed in Israeli shelling on the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, al-Qidra said. She was identified as Nour Muhammad Abu Hasirah.

Before that, al-Qidra said an Israeli airstrike killed an unidentified man near the al-Maqusi residential buildings in western Gaza City. The man’s body was taken to Shifa hospital.

Al-Qidra added that civil defense rescue teams had recovered the bodies of a woman and a child from the rubble of the al-Dalou family home in Sheikh Radwan, which was hit by five Israeli missiles.

The wife and daughter of al-Qassam Brigades commander Muhammad Deif were killed in the attack, Hamas says, along with four-year-old Ahmad al-Dalou.

A 24-hour truce due to last until midnight collapsed late Tuesday afternoon when Israel said rockets fired from the Strip hit Beersheba. Hamas denied firing the rockets. … Full article

Majority of Israelis: The force used by the army in Gaza was not excessive

MEMO | August 20, 2014

375426_Israeli-airstrikeAn overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis think that the Israeli army used either the “appropriate” level of force or “too little firepower” during its latest aggression, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge”, in the Gaza Strip. A majority also expressed their support for the government’s restrictions on the freedom of expression during the war, as well as for the mediation efforts led by the post-coup government in Egypt.

According to the latest poll for the Peace Index, which is conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and the University of Tel Aviv, 48 per cent of Israeli Jews believe that the force used by the army was appropriate, while 45 per cent actually think that too little force was used. Only 6 per cent said that Israel used excessive force against the Palestinians.

The Israeli government barred Israeli reporters from entering into Gaza to cover the war, thus Israelis were not exposed to the horrors taking place in the Strip. Israeli strikes have left more than 2,000 dead and 10,000 wounded, in addition to causing massive destruction to civil infrastructure, homes and businesses, leaving many without a place to sleep or work.

On another note, 97 per cent of the Jewish Israeli respondents said that the performance of the Israeli army during the operation was “was very or moderately good”, while only 3 per cent rated the army’s performance as “as not so good or poor”.

58 per cent said they were in favour of limiting the freedom of expression during times of war… continue

Israel demolishes 4 Palestinian homes near Nablus

Ma’an – 20/08/2014

NABLUS – Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished four Palestinian homes in the Nablus village of Aqraba, a Palestinian official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that a large group of Israeli soldiers escorted a bulldozer to the village.

Israeli forces then demolished four old houses in the al-Taweel neighborhood which belonged to Muhammad Sudqi Salih and his brother Anwar. The houses were over 100 years old.

The al-Taweel neighborhood is on the outskirts of Aqraba and locals say Israeli forces have targeted several properties in the area under the pretext that they were built without a permit. … Full article

Israeli Army Demolishes Cave Housing a Family near Bethlehem

IMEMC News & Agencies | August 20, 2014

The Israeli army, Tuesday, demolished a man-made cave and shed being used to shelter a Palestinian family in al-Walja, a small village established to the northwest of Bethlehem.

Ammar Abu Attin, an activist with the anti-settlement committee in the village, said that an Israeli team, accompanied by a bulldozer, stormed the area and proceeded to demolish a cave and the shed owned by a 50-year-old local resident.

The structure has been used to shelter the man and his family for 15 years, now, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency. The family has so far refused to leave the land, which Israel is attempting to take over for the benefit of settlement expansion.

The owner of the property, Abd al-Fatah Abd Rabo, says he has been subjected to the ugliest of Israeli policies, throughout the years, as they aim to force him off his land, adding that he remained steadfast in his land and continued to live in the cave, up until forces demolished it today on Tuesday. … Full article

Israeli occupation forces raid home of Palestinian MP Jarrar, hand her deportation order

Palestine Information Center – 20/08/2014

RAMALLAH – The Israeli occupation forces at dawn Wednesday handed a deportation order to female deputy at the Palestinian Legislative Council and PFLP leader, Khalilda Jarrar, after storming her home in Ramallah.

DataFiles-Cache-TempImgs-2014-2-images_News_2014_08_20_jarrar_300_0Dozens of Israeli occupation soldiers raided Jarrar’s home and handed her a deportation order issued by an Israeli court, ruling for her forced banishment to Jericho for an unspecified period.

Jarrar said she refused to sign the deportation order written in Hebrew. The soldiers left a map for her moves within Jericho and ordered her to depart Ramallah within 24 hours.

Jarrar said she will discuss the order with the concerned authorities so as to take the necessary legal action against it.

This is the first time Israeli occupation forces attempted to deport Palestinian political leaders internally, from one city to another inside the West Bank, since the mid-1980’s, Palestine News Network said.

Watchdog groups slam Ferguson police ‘harassment’ of reporters

RT | August 20, 2014

As tensions continue to simmer following nine days of street protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where a teenager was shot dead by a police officer, two watchdog groups have slammed the heavy-handed police tactics.

To compound the physical and mental strain of reporting on the weeks-long protests in Ferguson, where the public is desperate for justice after a white police officer shot black teenager Michael Brown to death, journalists themselves are finding themselves the target of police tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades. … continue

LAPD delays release of autopsy report in controversial shooting

RT | August 20, 2014

Those waiting for the preliminary autopsy report regarding the officer-involved death of a young, unarmed black man in Los Angeles are going to have to wait a little longer, as officials have delayed its release.

According to the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have placed an “investigative hold” on the report detailing Ezell Ford’s cause of death in order to preserve the integrity of witness testimony, which is still being gathered. [...]

“The blocking of the autopsy report of Ford comes on the heels of the release of the autopsy report on Michael Brown which contradicted the police version of how Brown was killed,” the roundtable’s Earl Ofari Hutchinson said on Monday. “The blocking of the release Ford autopsy report further fuels suspicions about the LAPD’s version of the Ford killing.”

As RT reported previously, the 25-year-old Ford was fatally shot by police after an “investigative stop” by police resulted in a “struggle” that saw Ford end up face down on the ground. Ford, who suffered from mental problems and was unarmed, was then reportedly shot in the back multiple times despite witnesses claiming he was complying with police. … Full article

Holder’s Agency in Ferguson

emptywheel | August 19, 2014

Eric Holder just published an op-ed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, apparently aiming to generate confidence in DOJ’s investigation into Darren Wilson’s killing of Mike Brown.

It starts with 3 sentences describing Brown’s killing — with no mention of Wilson, or even that a cop killed Brown.

Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.

At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened.

A disembodied shooting killed Brown in this telling; violence did not.

Holder then spends several paragraphs discussing both the investigation itself, as well as the actions of the Civil Rights Division before he turns – in the course of one paragraph — to the protests. Here, violence is described as violence. … continue

Latvia urges Europe to stop ‘war of sanctions’ before it ruins world economies

RT | August 19, 2014

The “right steps” politicians in the West and Russia are now taking against each other are very similar to what was happening before World War I, Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikinsh warned EC President Jose Manuel Barroso in a letter Tuesday.

It’s crucial to stop reciprocal sanctions before they throw people into poverty and ruin the economies altogether, the European Parliament member wrote.

“In 2014 exactly 100 years have passed since the beginning of World War I that killed millions of people and left Europe in ruins. On the eve of that war similar processes occurred when countries took “the right” steps against each other and eventually were not able to stop. It is doubtful that in the end of that war anyone remembered for what good intentions it had started,” Mamikinsh wrote in his letter.

These would be ordinary people, not politicians, who’ll be hit first and hardest by a so called “risky poker” played by politicians in the West and Russia, the Latvian MEP, added.

Latvia is expected to suffer the most from the tit for tat sanctions imposed by the West and Russia, Mamikinsh said.

Further escalation of a “sanctions war” would erode about 10 percent of Latvian GDP, which means thousands of people could be left out of work with shrinking living standards. … continue

The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants

By Nina Chestney and Susanna Twidale | Reuters | August 18, 2014

LONDON – Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many millions of dollars.

Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union’s electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc’s 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years. [...]

“These reactors were designed over 30 years ago. The people involved are either retired or dead, and most of the companies involved no longer exist,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority. … Read full article

Bulgaria halts South Stream gas pipeline project for second time

RT | August 18, 2014

All operations on Russia’s Gazprom-led project South Stream have been suspended, as they do not meet the requirements of the European Commission, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy and Energy said on its website.

“Minister of Economy and Energy Vasil Shtonov has ordered Bulgaria’s Energy Holding to halt any actions in regards of the project,” the ministry said. This specifically means entering into new contracts.

There has been mounting pressure from the EU to put the project on hold, and now the European Commission will be consulted each step of the way to make sure it complies with EU law. … continue

No ammunition moved through Russia-Ukraine border – OSCE monitors

RT | August 19, 2014

OSCE observers stationed at two Russian border checkpoints, the Ukrainian counterparts of which are controlled by the Ukrainian military, have not witnessed any movements of weapons across the border.

The monitors did witness young people “dressed in military style” moving across the border into Ukraine, Paul Picard, acting chief observer of the OSCE Mission, told journalists. However, all of them were unarmed.

There were also no instances of military vehicles crossing the border in some two weeks which the observers spent at Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints, he added. … continue

Kiev must publish record of MH17 communications with traffic control – Russia

RT | August 19, 2014

Kiev should make public the records of communications between the Ukrainian air traffic control and the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in the hours before it was shot down over Ukraine’s turbulent east, Russia’s UN envoy said.

The issue was among several Russia raised at a UN Security Council meeting, which was called by Russia to discuss the progress of the investigation into the tragic incident, which killed 298 people in July, Vitaly Churkin said. Moscow sees the shortage of proper evidence known to the public so far as wrong.

“As far as we know, [UN’s civil aviation watchdog] ICAO is being kept on the sidelines of the investigation, which has been conducted for some time,” Churkin said.

Churkin added that Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who is to visit Kiev soon, would ask the Ukrainian government about the communications records between air traffic controllers and the plane. … continue

Female Detainee Denied Family Visits Since Her Arrest In 2012

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | August 19, 2014

qadanThe Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) has reported that a Palestinian woman, kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel since 2012, has never been allowed any family visits, especially since Israel labels her entire family as a “security threat”.

The PPS said Mona Qa’dan, held at the HaSharon Israeli Prison has not even been able to talk with her family members who only saw her for a few minutes during court proceedings.

“Her suffering is ongoing, her detention was extended sixteen consecutive times since her arrest on November 23, 2012”, the PPS added. “She is still imprisoned without formal court deliberations, and the family cannot visit with her, or talk to her for even for a minute.” … Full article

Reactions from leading experts on latest UN Commission on Gaza

By Shazia Arshad | MEMO | August 18, 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Council announced last week the formation of a commission to investigate the most recent Israeli attack on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. The panel will be headed by William Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law. The UN has said that the panel will be investigating human rights violations and potential war crimes. Whilst Israel has described the panel as a “kangaroo court”, Hamas has welcomed the setup of the commission. Hamas’ spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, “Hamas welcomes the decision to form an investigation committee into the war crimes committed by the occupation [Israel] against Gaza and it urges that it begin work as soon as possible.”

The commission has already met with some controversy though with the appointment of its leading lawyer William Schabas. Schabas has been described by some critics as anti-Israel. An advert run in the New York Times describes him as not only anti-Israel but a “friend of Ahmadinejad”. It seems the most irking thing about his appointment was Schabas’ former involvement in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine which concluded that Israel has committed well documented violations of international law. Schabas countered the argument that he is anti-Israel by citing that he has been on the board of the Israel Law Review. … continue

The Liberal Zionist Dilemma

By Lawrence Davidson | To the Point Analyses | August 19, 2014

Liberalism, framed as a socio-political ideal, argues that human beings are good and social progress achievable. It is a “glass half-full” outlook. Within this paradigm all individuals, not just members of a specific religion, race or nationality, should have political and civil rights. Here also neither the state nor the law is an end in itself. They are instruments for the creation and maintainance of a environment meant to promote freedom while minimizing social inequalities. Holding this ideal does not preclude identifying with a particular ethnic or religious group. It does, however, preclude any claim of exclusive rights for such groups to the detriment of others. … continue

Britain says its role in Iraq shifted from “humanitarian” to military

Al-Akhbar | August 18, 2014

Britain’s role in the Iraq crisis has moved beyond a “humanitarian mission” and its expanded operations could last for months, its defense minister said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.

Britain has so far limited itself to aid drops, surveillance and a deal to transport more military supplies to Kurdish regional forces allied with the Baghdad central government against the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgents who have overrun much of northern Iraq. In addition, Britain’s trade envoy to Iraq has said SAS special forces are gathering intelligence there.

“This is not simply a humanitarian mission,” Defence Minister Michael Fallon told The Times newspaper. … Full article

Police In Ferguson Back To Threatening And Arresting Reporters: Tells Them To ‘Get The Fuck Out Of Here’

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | August 18, 2014

375556_military-policeThe situation in Ferguson seemed briefly like it was getting better last Thursday, but that didn’t last long. Over the weekend, the militarized and threatening police fired tear gas at protestors and continued to escalate the situation, rather than de-escalate it. The governor declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew — which created some more problems, and resulted in continued protests, but also some looting. In the last few hours, however, things have gone from bad to worse again. Police went back to arresting journalists, including Robert Klemko from Sports Illustrated and Rob Crilly from the Telegraph (who, believe it or not, is the “Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent” for that paper — now reporting live from… Ferguson, Missouri). While both were quickly released, police appear to be quite aggressive towards reporters. Chris Hayes, the MSNBC TV host reports that he was threatened with being maced.

A live stream from the local radio station KARG (Argus Radio — which is a local volunteer run radio station that has been doing amazing work) caught police screaming, “Get the fuck out of here or you’re going to get shelled with this” while pointing a gun at the reporter. … continue

County officials refuse to pay medical bills for toddler burned by SWAT grenade

RT | August 18, 2014

Officials in Georgia’s Habersham County are refusing to pay for the mounting medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured by a flash grenade after a failed SWAT team raid earlier this year.

Bounkham ‘Bou Bou’ Phonesavanh was just 19 months old when a Habersham SWAT team initiated a no-knock warrant at his family’s home at around 3 a.m. on May 28. Bou Bou was asleep in his crib at the time, surrounded by his family and three sisters. The toddler was severely injured when SWAT team officers broke through the house’s door and threw a flashbang grenade that ultimately landed in the Bou Bou’s crib.

When the stun grenade went off, it caused severe burns on the child and opened a gash in his chest. As a result, Bou Bou lost the ability to breathe on his own and was left in a medically induced coma for days after the incident. His extensive recovery necessitated stays in two hospitals before he finally went home in July. … continue

Police Militarization Escalates Even As Violence Declines — And There’s A Good Chance It’s Going To Get Worse

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | August 18, 2014

We’ve been writing about the militarization of police, and why it’s problematic, for years — but the events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri, have really shone a (rather bright) light on what happens when you militarize the police. Annie Lowrey, over at New York Magazine, highlights what may be most disturbing about all of it: all of this has happened while violence has been on a rapid decline, and, no it’s not because your local suburban police force now has a SWAT team and decommissioned military equipment from the Defense Department:

Since 1990, according to Department of Justice statistics, the United States has become a vastly safer place, at least in terms of violent crime. (Drug crime follows somewhat different trends, though drug use has been dropping over the same time period.) The number of murders dropped to 14,827 in 2012 from 23,438 in 1990. The number of rapes has plummeted to 84,376 from 102,555. The number of robberies, motor-vehicle thefts, assaults — all have seen similarly large declines. And the number of incidents has dropped even though the country has grown.  [....]

And there’s no evidence that giving police officers the weapons of war has had anything to do with that decline in crime, either, with researchers pegging it to a combination of factors, among them the removal of lead from paint and gasoline, an increase in abortion rates, and improved policing methods.

So, instead, we get a very militarized police — and tons of cases where it is being used in cases that absolutely don’t warrant it. At all.

And here’s the really disturbing thing. It may get a lot worse. … continue

Globalizing Gaza

By Jeff Halper | CounterPunch | August 18, 2014

… Just as Israel exports its occupation – its weaponry and tactics of suppression – to such willing customers as US and European militaries, security agencies and police forces, so, too, does it export its legal expertise in manipulating international humanitarian law (IHL) and its effective PR/hasbara techniques. Gaza itself represents little more than a testing ground for these varied instruments of suppression. It is the globalization of Gaza that is a key Israeli export. Exports, however, need local agents to package the product and create a market for it in the local economy. Thus, B’nai Brith in the US spawned “The Lawfare Project” under the slogan “Protecting Against the Politicization of Human Rights”, whose main strategy is to enlist prominent legal experts to delegitimize attempts to hold Israel accountable for its crimes under IHL.

Globalizing Gaza in both military and legal terms raises the slogan “we are all Palestinians” from one of political solidarity to literal accuracy. Its corollary also highlights a key element of international politics of which we must be keenly aware: our governments are all Israel. – Read full article

Attacking journalists makes Israel a plastic democracy

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | August 18, 2014

I’ve just had the pleasure of spending eight hours in detention at the border between Egypt and Israel, between Tabaa and Israel’s southern-most city, Eilat. My crime at first appeared to be a single male travelling alone into a Middle Eastern country. But once the immigration police realised I was a journalist, I was in for the long haul.

At first – I was asked the standard cavalcade – where was I staying, who with, and what were my plans? But on discovering my profession, brows furrowed faster than a Horah dance at a bar mitzvah.

My stay in a holding area, punctuated by increasingly aggressive interrogations, peaked when the most senior official asked me to write down the names and addresses of all my sources in Israel and Palestine.

Of course they wanted sources in “the Palestinian Territories,” and in a Freudian slip, I blurted out that I certainly wouldn’t be revealing any sources in the “Occupied Territories”. After a brief staring match, the official kept tapping away into her computer. … continue

Dangerous Western lies provoke wars

By Paul Craig Roberts | Press TV | August 18, 2014

The Western media have proved for all to see that the Western media comprises either a collection of ignorant and incompetent fools or a brothel that sells war for money.

The Western media fell in step with Washington and blamed the downed Malaysian airliner on Russia. No evidence was provided. In its place the media used constant repetition. Washington withheld the evidence that proved that Kiev was responsible. The media’s purpose was not to tell the truth, but to demonize Russia.

Now we have the media story of the armored Russian column that allegedly crossed into Ukraine and was destroyed by Ukraine’s rag-tag forces that ISIS would eliminate in a few minutes. British reporters fabricated this story or were handed it by a CIA operative working to build a war narrative. The disreputable BBC hyped the story without investigating. … continue

West has more influence than Kiev on oligarchs’ armies in Ukraine – Lavrov

RT | August 18, 2014

Moscow believes the West has more influence on various paramilitary forces in Ukraine – sponsored by local oligarchs – than Kiev does, Russian FM Lavrov said citing the latest bickering between Right Sector and the Interior Ministry.

“The authorities in Kiev are not in control of the numerous paramilitary forces, including Right Sector, which, we estimate, comprises a large portion of the National Guard. The demarche of Right Sector towards the Ukrainian Interior Minister speaks for itself,” Sergey Lavrov said, adding that existence of armed groups sponsored by Ukrainian oligarchs, such as the Azov and Dnepr battalions, poses a great security threat.

“We work with our Western partners in Europe and the United States who can really influence those paramilitary units that don’t answer to the central government in Kiev. We know the West has such influence,” he added. … continue

August – 2014

July – 2014


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