Press TV – May 25, 2015
An Israeli military court has handed down a months-long prison term to the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and ordered him to pay more than a thousand dollars on charges on of delivering a speech at a pro-resistance celebration three years ago.
On Monday, the Ofer Court in northern Israel sentenced Abdul Aziz Duwaik to 12 months in jail and a fine of six thousand Israeli shekels (USD 1,550), Arabic-language Palestinian news agency Safa reported.
The Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights condemned the verdict, demanding the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners currently being held at Israeli detention facilities, the 67-year-old PLC speaker in particular.
Fuad al-Khafash, director of the Palestinian non-governmental organization, said the Tel Aviv regime has targeted the Palestinian parliament ever since the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas scored a landslide victory in Palestinian elections in 2006, preventing Palestinian lawmakers from serving their respective nation. … continue
Israeli troops invaded on Monday at dawn the village of Al Qoum near the southern West Bank city of Hebron and ordered villagers to remove the power grid there.
According to villagers, the soldiers gave them military orders to remove the 800 meters long power lines supplying the village homes with electricity.
The Israeli army claims that the lines are in area C and was installed too close to the separation wall that was built by Israeli on lands confiscated from the villagers.
Eugene Debs, anti-war voice of WWI. Debs was arrested and sent to prison for giving this speech (abridged) in Ohio in 1918. Full speech text here.
Sunday’s regional elections in Spain have seen losses for the country’s traditional parties and significant gains for new parties, including the leftist Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos.
The results underline growing disenchantment towards the two main parties, the Conservative People’s Party (PP), which lost its majorities in a number of cities, as well as the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). Both have dominated politics in Spain since the end of dictatorship 40 years ago. … Full article
Press TV – May 24, 2015
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the resistance movement’s success in forcing Israeli forces out of Lebanon’s soil 15 years ago was a victory for all Lebanese and Muslims.
Nasrallah made the remarks in the southern town of Nabatiyeh on Sunday during a televised speech celebrating the anniversary of the Israeli forces’ withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
He paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to bring victory to the resistance movement.
The Hezbollah chief added that if the the resistance movement had not risen against the Tel Aviv regime Israel would have occupied Lebanon.
Hezbollah forced the Israeli military out of the southern parts of Lebanon on May 25, 2000, after more than two decades of occupation.
People in Lebanon consider May 25 as a beginning of dramatic change in the region. … continue
GAZA CITY – Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli navy forces off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, a local union said.
Nizar Ayyash, speaker of the fishermen’s union in Gaza, told Ma’an that Muhammad Ziad Bakr, 26, was taken to hospital for treatment after he was shot by Israeli forces. […]
Some hours later, Imad Muhsin Bakir, 26, was shot and injured in the same area and evacuated to Shifa hospital in Gaza City for treatment. … Full article
Ma’an – May 24, 2015
BETHLEHEM – Israeli interrogators are using “oppressive and brutal” methods to frighten Palestinian detainees and force them into confessing to attacks against Israel, a Palestinian official said Sunday.
Issa Qarage, who heads the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affairs committee, made his comments during a visit to prisoners’ families in the northern West Bank village of Qusin in Nablus district, where he met with former detainee Noor Muhammad Hilmi Hamamrah, 15.
Hamamrah told him that during his interrogation in the Etzion detention center, Israeli interrogators had made him open his mouth while they used pincers to forcibly pry out part of his braces, causing bleeding.
An interrogator then told Hamamrah that he would pull out all of his teeth if he didn’t confess to throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, Qarage relayed. … continue
By Carlos Miller | PINAC | May 22, 2015
A Virginia cop who tasered a man sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, following it with a ten-second blast of pepper spray into the man’s face, was forced to resign last week after his chief said he had used excessive force.
But Fredericksburg police officer Shaun Jergens said he only did it because the man in the car was not complying.
However, David Washington was experiencing a medical emergency, perhaps a diabetic seizure, which is why he struck another vehicle before running over a median and knocking over a city sign.
When the car came to rest, the 34-year-old man remained motionless in his car with the seat belt strapping him in.
“Get out the car or I’m going to fucking smoke you,” Jergens yelled after tasering and pepper spraying him. … continue
Calls for massive reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions ignore the impacts on the poor
By Bob Lyman | Watts Up With That? | May 23, 2015
People who believe in the theory of catastrophic human-induced global warming claim that they want to “save the planet” and that this is the moral thing to do. They insist, however, that saving the planet requires stringent reductions in people’s use of fossil fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They never talk about what that means to the poor. I think that, before people decide on the ethics of the debate, they need to consider what the impact would be of sharply reducing energy consumption on the wellbeing of world’s population, and especially on the poor. … continue
By Matt Manos | Watts Up With That? | May 23, 2015
… In their latest speeches on global warming, Obama and the Pope weren’t trying to convince skeptics that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is real. Instead, they were sending signals to their supporters on what “all right thinking people” should be saying. This is classic in-group/out-group communication. Obama and the Pope were setting up the talking points for their in-group members to use to determine who can be considered part of the tribe and who should be rejected for being outside of it. This is a process called Othering. Othering turns political foes into non-beings. Others have no value. Others can be discounted and ignored. Others can be mocked.
Obama and the Pope are examples of bellwethers; the sheep with the bell that the other sheep follow. Bellwether is not a derogatory term, it’s a descriptive term. The job of a political bellwether is to indicate the position that their followers should take in their everyday conversations. Obama and the Pope’s latest speeches function as position papers for the delegates of all right thinking people. You meet these people at work, church, school, at the coffee house, etc. The delegates will mirror the words that the President or the Pope used to identify other in-group members, normalize beliefs and mock out-group members. One of the main themes of both speeches was shame. Shame on those who aren’t right thinking people. Shame that they aren’t as intelligent and capable as “us.”
That type of smugness is almost impossible to penetrate. … continue
A former foreign press secretary to ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has said that she was undaunted by the death sentence imposed on her last week. Writing in the Washington Post, Sondos Asem said she received with total disbelief the news of her sentencing.
Now a graduate student at University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, Asem described the case brought against her as false and political. Along with over 100 other defendants, including Morsi, she was charged with espionage and sentenced to death in absentia.
“Though I was sentenced in the so-called Grand Espionage case, the Egyptian regime seeks to end my life for no reason other than who I am: an educated, politically active and independent woman with mainstream Islamic views,” she said.
Despite being deeply saddened by separation from her parents, relatives and friends, Asem asserted that the unjust verdict will not break her will and resolve to defend the principles of the Egyptian revolution.
By Stephen Gowans | what’s left | May 20, 2015
John Mueller, the US political scientist who coined the term “sanctions of mass destruction,” to show that “economic sanctions…by large states…may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history” , wrote an article two years ago in Foreign Affairs, the major foreign policy journal of the US establishment, challenging the idea that Syria’s chemical weapons (when it had them) were a threat.  Mueller examined the history of chemical weapons since WWI to make the point that chemical agents are misclassified as weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
According to Mueller, chemical weapons accounted for less than one percent of battle fatalities during the First World War; it took one ton of Sarin gas on average, during that conflict, to produce a single fatality; and only 2-3% of those gassed on the Western front died, compared to a fatality rate 10 to 12 times higher among those who were struck by bullets or shrapnel from conventional weapons. 
In their official history of WWI, the British concluded that “gas made war uncomfortable…to no purpose.”  Accordingly, most handsomely funded militaries with generous weapons development programs or the means to purchase highly destructive armaments were quite happy to relinquish their chemical weapons. They are ineffective and conventional arms produce far higher rates of fatalities. … continue
By Ghada Ageel and Rela Mazali | Middle East Eye | May 18, 2015
The Israeli veterans’ group “Breaking the Silence” on 4 May uploaded a collection of testimonies describing Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer. These accounts, the group said, were given by more than 60 Israeli officers and soldiers who took part in the attack and disclose “systematic policies that were dictated to IDF forces of all ranks and in all zones, [… and which] led to massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip”.
Assigning responsibility to top brass and politicians, the statement said that “Policymakers could have predicted these results … and were surely aware of them throughout.”
The testimonies and their acclaimed disclosures made headlines in major news venues in Israel and far beyond, including CNN, Newsweek, The Independent, and The Washington Post. Part of what the group itself and its public reception disclose, however, are the very structures – cultural, social and political – that enable the practices and policies it claims to protest. […]
While the content of the Israeli soldiers’ testimonies is not without value, its seemingly natural claim to special status, both in and beyond Israel, in fact supports the militarised culture engendering, allowing and condoning policies of “massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure”. – Read full article
The Israeli Authorities have decided to confiscate around 820 Dunams (202 acres) of privately owned Palestinian lands to establish new dumping grounds for its illegal colonies, in the central West Bank, in the Ramallah district.
The dump, according to the Israeli authorities, “would serve the settlements and the Palestinians in the area,” but would be run completely by Israel and Palestinians would have no access to it.
If the Israeli government manages to take control of the 820 Palestinian Dunams, the total impacted area from the new dumping grounds would be around 2,000 Dunams, which would be contaminated by runoff and debris.
These lands contain fertile soil and farmland, in addition to many water wells, Palestine TV has reported.
The residents plant their lands with various crops, mainly wheat, and use parts of this land as grazing grounds for their livestock. Some of the land is slated for development as residential areas, but this would be impossible once Israel takes control of the land and turns it into a dump.
Local villagers told Palestine TV that Israel is trying to push them out of the area to turn their land into a dump – many of these villagers have already lost land in past seizures by the Israeli military for the construction of illegal colonies.
The Pentagon is planning to send nuclear bombers to Sweden for a military exercise next month amid growing tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The warplanes, the B-52 Stratofortress, will participate in a naval exercise on June 13, Swedish general Karl Engelbrektson said. […]
Engelbrektson said the goal of the exercise “is to increase the different operative capabilities, but also to send clear security political signals that we do these things together with others.”
“How Russia interprets that, they can decide for themselves,” Engelbrektson added. … Full article
New Cold War | May 23, 2015
The government of Canada has barred a delegation from Russia from attending a meeting in Ottawa May 26-28 purportedly devoted to restricting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The meeting in question is the Operational Experts Group of the Proliferation Security Initiative. … continue
MOSCOW – The Defence Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) registered 36 violations by Kiev’s military of the ceasefire during past 24 hours, the authority said on Sunday.
“They shelled 36 times the territory of the Donetsk Republic,” the Donetsk News Agency quoted the ministry. “Information about casualties is being checked now.”
The territory of the republic was shelled 17 times from mortars and two from MICV. The militia fixed one firing from a tank and four from anti-aircraft units and 12 shootings from grenade launchers and small arms.
Under the fire were the city of Donetsk (the area of the airport), Debaltsevo, Gorlovka, Yasinovataya, Dokuchayevsk. Besides, shelling was registered in Yelenovka, Tavricheskoye, Shirokino, Spartak, Zhavichevo, Kalinovka, Sanzharovka, Nizhneye Lazovoye, and Staromikhailovka. … Full article
A reporter for a local news organization was among those arrested in Cleveland Saturday night during protests against the verdict in the Michael Brelo manslaughter trial.
Brelo, a Cleveland police officer, was acquitted earlier in the day after a four-week bench trial. He was one of a number of police officers who killed two unarmed suspects with a barrage of 137 bullets after a high speed chase in 2012.
Kris Wernowsky, the crime editor for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, said he was arrested while livestreaming the protest after police demanded to see his press pass, which he had forgotten to bring with him.
Wernowsky was one of several people arrested after police kettled a group inside an alley, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. […]
It’s unclear what charges Wernowsky was arrested for or why police would release him after seeing his press pass if he had committed a crime. Press passes are often carried by reporters as proof they are employed by news media organizations, but carry no legal significance.
The Cleveland Police Department tweeted that there were multiple people arrested in the area for unlawful congregation and failure to disperse.
In total, police said they arrested 71 people during protests yesterday and last night. That figure includes two legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild. … Full article
By John Vibes | The Free Thought Project | May 24, 2015
Oakland, CA — This week, the mayor of Oakland has decided to use an old and unknown law to impose an anti-protest curfew to keep demonstrators off the streets at night.
This curfew does not apply to everyone in the city, only those who are involved in organized protests. Mayor Libby Schaaf put the order into effect in the midst of this week’s #SayHerName protest where women and children peacefully protested victims of police brutality.
During the demonstration, protesters were prevented from marching to the police station and were threatened with arrest if they stepped off of the sidewalk. Police informed protesters through a giant sound system that their march was not permitted, and that they could be arrested under Vehicle Code Section 2800, which makes it illegal to disobey anything a police officer says.
Cat Brooks, one of the organizers of the protest says that their right to freely and peacefully assemble was infringed upon. … continue
CalebMaupin.info | May 24, 2015
From the Port of Djibouti in North Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has concluded. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.
The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: US-backed Saudi Terrorism.
Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival was imminent, the Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah. They didn’t just bomb the port once, or even twice. The Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times in a single day!
The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshoremen, and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.
Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people yesterday, who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived, and kill everyone onboard, including me.
With its so many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists, and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship. The message was “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen we will kill you.”
These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity. … continue
By Stephen Gowans | What’s Left | May 14, 2015
The New York Times ran an article on May 12 suggesting that the Syrian government has held back some of its chemical weapons and is using them against rebel fighters. Significantly, the allegation was backed by no evidence, yet the newspaper chose to run the story anyway.
In their story (“Inspectors in Syria find traces of banned military chemicals”) reporters Somini Sengupta, Marlise Simons and Anne Barnard cited a conclusion drawn by an anonymous Western diplomat who was briefed on findings by inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The inspectors had reportedly found traces of toxic nerve agents in Syria. The diplomat was quoted as saying that there’s a “strong suspicion” that the Syrians “are retaining stockpiles which are being held back.”
However, a close reading of the article showed that there was not one whit of evidence to back up the diplomat’s suspicion. … continue
By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 21, 2015
Israeli officials have backed off from a plan to bar Palestinians from West Bank bound buses, protesting in loud terms that this would smack of “apartheid,” and The New York Times has devoted much space to letting these spokespersons have their say.
We hear from Mark Regev, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s preferred mouthpiece, from opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and—at considerable length—from Israeli president Reuven Rivlin. We also hear indirectly from Netanyahu himself. Palestinians, who bear the brunt of segregated transportation policies, are represented by a single voice—politician and physician Mustafa Barghouti.
The plan would have forced Palestinians working inside Israel (those few who manage to get permits) to use designated entry points on their return. It was put forth by settlers who objected to riding on the same buses with Arabs and was originally announced last fall but put off until after the election.
The author of the Times story, Isabel Kershner, quotes the settlers along with the officials who denounced the plan, but in spite of many column inches devoted to this debate, she omits a significant detail: Although she writes that the plan has been “shelved” or “ended,” it is actually on hold. … continue
By REBECCA K. SMITH | CounterPunch | May 22, 2015
Last week, federal courts issued two decisions affirming the right of citizens to record police under the First Amendment. In Atlanta, a court held the police department in contempt of court for violating a prior court order to allow citizens to record police. In New York, a court held that recording police is a “clearly established right” under the U.S. Constitution, and that if a police officer violates that right, he or she can be sued in federal court.
First, in Anderson v. Atlanta, the court addressed a prior court order that had ordered the Atlanta police to implement reforms to their training policies and conduct mandatory in-person training for all officers regarding those reforms. In part, the new required policy states: “All employees shall be prohibited from interfering with a citizen’s right to record police activity by photographic, video, or audio means. This prohibition is in effect only as long as the recording by the citizen does not physically interfere with the performance of an officer’s duties.” An officer’s violation of this policy would result in dismissal. … continue
PRIVACYSOS | May 22, 2015
Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that USA Patriot Act dragnet spy powers must be extended or else the terrorists will get us.
Lynch said Friday the country would be “less safe” if Congress fails to renew surveillance programs included in the Patriot Act.
Lynch joined other top Obama administration officials, who are urging the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act, which would reform the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk phone records collection program while renewing other key parts of the post-Sept. 11 law.
“Our biggest fear is that we will lose important eyes on people who have made it clear that their mission is to harm American people here and abroad,” Lynch told CBS News in her first interview since becoming attorney general.
If NSA’s phone metadata program expires completely, Lynch said the U.S. government would lose “important tools” to identify terror threats.
“I think that we run the risk of essentially being less safe,” Lynch added. “I think that we lose the ability to intercept these communications, which have proven very important in cases that we have built in the past. And I am very concerned that the American people will be unprotected if this law expires.”
Lynch didn’t marshal any evidence to support her claims about the connection between dragnet spying and public safety. That’s because there isn’t one. … continue
Ma’an – May 23, 2015
HEBRON – A Swedish-owned church compound between Bethlehem and Hebron has not been sold to settlers contrary to media reports on Friday, the church’s lawyer told Ma’an on Saturday.
Israeli news source Haaretz reported Friday that right-wing Israeli Aryeh King had purchased the abandoned church compound from the church’s owners three years ago in order to build a settlement outpost.
However, local sources refuted the report, saying that such a sale had not been made and that the current owners are in fact carrying out refurbishments to turn the compound into a hostel.
“The church owns the compound, and is fixing up the existing building to serve as a hostel for Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are passing through,” the church’s Swedish lawyer Ari Souko told Ma’an.
The lawyer also reportedly told Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman of a local popular committee in nearby village Beit Ummar, that the church “has not been sold to settlers,” and that the Haaretz report was “far from the truth.”
Awad told Ma’an that the compound had been built decades after the owners bought 35 dunams (9 acres) of land from Beit Ummar resident Abd al-Latif Jabir Ikhlayyil. … continue
Israeli media, on Wednesday, reported that US Congress has approved a new weapons deal with Israel.
Hebrew Channel 7 said that the deal will include 50 model BLU-113 bombs and 700 BLU-109, in addition to some 3,000,000 rockets.
The US State Department alleged that the deal is part of the United States’ commitment to keep the “security” of Israel, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.
RT | May 23, 2015
Washington has blocked the final document of a UN conference that reviewed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, accusing Egypt of manipulating the gathering to target Israel. Moscow has slammed the US for rendering the four-week meeting futile.
The 9th international conference was held in New York from April 27 until May 22. A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance. These conferences are held every five years to assess the worldwide disarmament process.
The blocked document included a plan to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. To do this, Egypt, who first proposed such a zone in 1980, suggested a regional UN conference on banning weapons of mass destruction. The gathering would have no pre-determined agenda and would go ahead with or without the presence of Israel.
This was stonewalled by the US, with Washington representative Rose Gottemoeller saying the final document reviewed on Friday was “incompatible with our longstanding policies.”
She accused Egypt and other Arab supporters of the nuclear-free zone of being “not willing to let go of these unrealistic and unworkable conditions,” AP reports. … continue
Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?
Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so.
Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.
The mechanism? An extreme drought in the Fertile Crescent region—one that a new study finds was made worse by human greenhouse gas emissions—added a spark to the tinderbox of tensions that had been amassing in Syria for a number of years under the Assad regime (including poor water management policies).
It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all. … continue
Consortium News | May 22, 2015
When called to account for an apparent inaccuracy in a broadcast pinning the MH-17 shoot-down on Russian President Putin, Australia’s “60 Minutes” responded with insults and dissembling. But that behavior has been typical of the propaganda wars around the Ukraine crisis, writes Australian Greg Maybury. – Read article
May – 2015
April – 2015