A veteran journalist and documentary film maker, known for asking difficult questions of climate scientists and politicians, has been denied press accreditation for the Cancun Climate Change Conference.
The UN has refused access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference to Phelim McAleer, who is well known for asking scientists and politicians difficult questions about Global Warming orthodoxy.
McAleer was notified of the UN’s refusal to accredit him just days before the international conference opening today.
McAleer produced and directed Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary on Global Warming.
His reports from Copenhagen Climate Change Conference went viral on youtube, so much for that this time around.
“I sent them exactly the same documentation that was acceptable for Copenhagen last year, but it seems they did not like my coverage of Copenhagen and are now trying to silence me and the people who have questions about this process,” said McAleer.
“The message is clear—ask UN scientists and politicians difficult questions and you will be banned from any UN sponsored events. No difficult questions allowed,” he added.
McAleer is a 20 year veteran journalist who covered the Northern Ireland troubles. He has also worked for the UK Sunday Times and as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. He has worked as a journalist and film maker in countries as diverse as Ireland, Romania, Uzbekistan , Indonesia, Madagascar, Chile, Indonesia, Vietnam, and many other countries.
IMAGES OF DEVASTATED battlefields are all too familiar. A German officer in 1918 described ‘dumb, black stumps of shattered trees which still stick up where there used to be villages. Flayed by splinters of bursting shells, they stand like corpses upright. Not a blade of grass anywhere. Just miles of flat, empty, broken and tumbled stone.’ The ploughs in Flanders fields still turn up human bones every year.
But twentieth century technology, busily applied to the practice of war, has ensured a more lethal harvest. For example, landmines: planted in millions in war-torn countries across the world, killing and maiming long after wars are over, and denying agricultural use of the land in which they lurk. A Khmer Rouge general called them ‘the perfect soldier’: cheap, efficient, expendable, never hungry, never needing sleep. But eighty percent of landmine victims are civilians, not soldiers; and nearly a quarter of those are children.
Clearing mines is laborious, dangerous, and 30 times the cost of the weapon itself. So is clearing unexploded ordnance of all kinds (including worldwide munitions dumps which leak toxic wastes). The most severe UXO contamination in the world is in Laos. Bomb disposal teams have no records to work from. ‘It was America’s secret war and we can’t get the information,’ says a team leader. ‘All you can do is teach people to live with the bomb.’
But it’s the testing and manufacture of the nuclear bomb which has been responsible for some of the most profound and persistent environmental damage to life on earth. “The complex mixture of contaminants found on many military sites is dynamically moving through the environment,’ says a medical expert. Radiation problems affect people near nuclear plants in every country that has them. Repair and maintenance of many installations and equipment are dangerously inadequate.
Nuclear waste is a global problem that won’t go away, threatening environmental disaster on a vast scale: its poison, and toxic chemicals which accompany all weapon production, have travelled round the globe in the atmosphere and ocean currents; as well as water and air, they harm earth, plants that grow in it, and subsistent livestock and wildlife. Human exposure to nuclear and chemical tests and factories, or via the food chain, results in miscarriages, malformed foetuses, high infant mortality and congenital disorders, leukaemia and other cancers, tumours, thyroid disorders, and complex debilitating and life-shortening syndromes. The number of reports of such harmful effects on health, habitat and culture – always at risk in war – continues to grow.
Because war disrupts social structures, ecostructures are neglected and abused, with lasting and costly consequences.
All along the coast of Somalia huge sand dunes, 20 miles across, have crept from the sea towards the main coastal highway. ‘When the dunes hit the road, a new road will need to be built,’ says a Red Cross agronomist. ‘There used to be government plans to stop them. Now there’s nothing. The communication breakdown will be a social disaster.’ The ICRC, encouraging self-sufficiency and seawater fish in the conservative Somali diet, provided boats, nets, hooks and training – only to discover another of war’s ecological chain effects: the coastal waters off Somalia had become a free-for-all, all protocols for international fishing rights ignored. Resources are being fished unsustainably – ‘almost a mining operation,’ says a UN observer. Illegal fishermen now go armed, to protect what they perceive as their property rights.
It’s widely agreed that Sudan’s 1988 famine was caused by its protracted civil war. Southern Sudan has some of the most productive land in Africa; its people are hardworking farmers and herdsmen. If fighting stopped, they’d manage to survive. Instead, thousands have been forced out of their homes, thousands have died, and their land is uncared-for.
‘Most disasters are like this: a mess of war, displacement, hunger and ignorance,’ says Africa specialist John Ryle. ‘To feed the hungry and treat the sick in such circumstances is to become part of the war economy. Part of what aid workers do involves clearing up the chaos left by the global arms trade. They say they are saving lives – but for what? To be lost in endless wars that feed on aid?’
Meanwhile the worst outbreak of sleeping sickness this century has been spreading through the south-west; disease follows war everywhere.
The earth’s environment is battered by war, its preparation, practice and aftermath. It is destroyed as an act of war; it is used as a weapon of war; and its destruction is expensive and sometimes irreversible. Its integral involvement with war is often secret, widely ignored, and easily forgotten – until now.
Now, some people are beginning to talk and listen. Some people are beginning to act. There is a treaty to ban landmines now. There are moves towards tackling the problems of nuclear waste and weapon stockpiles. There is a growing global awareness – with charters to prove it – that war has created consequences which cross boundaries and ignore territories. Natural disasters are costly enough; the cost of war damage is much higher. Even if politics don’t achieve change, economics might.
It’s the natural tendency of governments to suppress or talk down bad news. So it’s the duty of the rest of us – to uncover and publicise it wherever possible. Without the facts, there can’t be informed public opinion, nor a corporate will to deal with the disasters that war creates – dangerous not only for combatants but for civilians, not only for the duration of the war but far into the future, not for warring countries alone but for the whole world.
In one way or another, everyone is already affected. In one way or another, the still-quickening rush to even greater disasters must be stopped.
And the first thing to go must be war.
Ameer Makhoul (Adri Nieuwhof)
The following is an excerpt from a letter by Palestinian political prisoner and civil society leader Ameer Makhoul, written in response to a postcard featuring an image of a lighthouse sent by The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof. A citizen of Israel, Makhoul was arrested in his home on 6 May 2010 and held in isolation and refused a meeting with his lawyers or family for 12 days following the arrest. The Israeli government indicted Makhoul with trumped-up charges of espionage and assistance to the enemy in a time of war, which carries a life sentence. According to Makhoul, during that time the Israeli authorities used severe interrogation methods that caused him both psychological and physical harm. Last month Makhoul agreed to a plea deal to avoid lengthy imprisonment and now faces a maximum sentence of seven to ten years.
The lighthouse, al-fanar in Arabic, is an inspiration. I have built a lighthouse here in jail. It has been built in my mind because I am not allowed to use the space, but my mind is totally mine. Al-fanar became part of my vision and dream for freedom and human dignity. The lighthouse is out of prison, while the role of the anchor is to be rooted and safe. In fact, I need both — al-fanar to give direction to my vision, while the role of the anchor is to understand where I currently am. I need to be balanced and realistic to act within a totally unbalanced reality. I need to challenge and to change. I need, and we need to change. The anchor is needed in order to act. The lighthouse shows how and where and for what.
It is not easy to have both elements, especially to “new” prisoners of freedom. It is defined as new but it is almost half a year that I have been in prison. Several prisoners have already been here 23 to 28 years. So I am relatively new here, but for me every day is a lot of time, with a lot of suffering and reflecting on the reality of being Palestinian in my homeland.
To be proven innocent is totally not accepted by the court. Thousands of cases show that both the rate and the number of Palestinians who have been released as innocents is zero. Palestinians are guilty, it is the only option. The Shabak [Israel’s internal intelligence agency, also known as the Shin Bet] monitored and recorded 30,000 of my telephone calls and those in relevant circles; in addition they surveilled all email, Skype, Internet and electronic media. Yet they declared in the court that they have no material evidence.
Based on my experience and on the findings regarding 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the Shabak having no evidence does not mean the end of the game. They have their secret weapon, which is the so-called “secret evidence.” They present it to the judges, but neither me nor my lawyers are allowed to know what it is about. The Israeli system will never blame the state or the Shabak, but will blame their Palestinian victims.
Statistics and experience show that without a deal with the attorney general the sentence would be double the length! So the lack of evidence is not the road to freedom. Israel will never allow its court to declare me as innocent. On the other hand, every Palestinian refugee of Arab friend or partner in the Arab world is potentially considered a so-called “foreign agent.” The state’s role is to blame and the victim’s role is to explain, even to prove that he or she is innocent. I have so many friends and partners all around the Arab world and among people in the homeland and diaspora. I have no illusions, but I have a lot of energy to struggle for freedom and dignity.
Israeli soldiers detain Israeli and international activists in Saffa Valley, June 2009. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)
It was a bright, warm morning in the occupied West Bank’s Saffa Valley Thursday, 18 November when, without warning, the Israeli occupation forces were upon us. Within moments, five Israeli soldiers were shouting in Hebrew. “You have one minute to leave the area!” they said, before shooting stun grenades at our feet. Moments later, we were told to sit quietly and hand over our passports. A six-hour detention was to follow.
I was detained along with six other internationals, five Israelis and one Palestinian activist in the Saffa Valley, near the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar. We were there to accompany Palestinian farmers to their land, and uproot dead bushes and other plants in preparation for planting olive trees later this winter. The army and Israeli media accused us of arson. In reality, small, controlled fires were lit in order to clear the weeds in the Palestinian-owned fields.
Still, we spent the day at the Gush Etzion settlement police station, where Israeli interrogators repeatedly asked us why we had violated a closed military zone order and had committed arson, both untrue charges. We were never presented with a closed military zone order nor did any criminal activity take place that day, as the Israeli police were alleging.
We were released after agreeing to not participate in any demonstrations or visit Beit Ommar, the Saffa Valley and the entire southern West Bank area for a period of 14 days. Exhausted and overwhelmed by it all, I headed home only to read the disturbing Israeli media reports detailing what had happened that day.
We were called anarchist arsonists on Ynet, the online, English-language version of Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Ynet quoted Yair Wolf, deputy head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, who said “The anarchists’ intolerable behavior must be stopped. The foreigners among them must be deported. They only fuel the conflict” (“Suspicion: Anarchists torched field near settlement,” 18 November 2010).
In Wolf’s opinion, it is peace and justice activists working for the self-determination and freedom of Palestinians who are fueling the conflict, not the violent behavior of Israeli settlers like himself who are illegally occupying Palestinian land. His statement would be funny if it didn’t reflect the opinion of such a large segment of Israeli society.
Having had a few days to reflect, I can now view what happened through the lens of the larger picture, no longer blinded by my anger or frustration at an Israeli system that values theft, discrimination and religious-based privilege, while holding human rights and international law in such low regard.
What happened to us is not exceptional. Similar incidents will happen again, week after week, and they need to be viewed in the context of a growing nonviolent Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid. Israeli occupation forces are clutching at straws, when they feel it necessary to spend millions of dollars on the man-power needed to arrest activists each week and indiscriminately use tear gas, sound grenades or rubber bullets to disperse nonviolent demonstrations.
What happened to us — no matter how unjust or enraging — is nothing compared to the arbitrary detentions, arrests and prison sentences Palestinians must deal with on a daily basis. More than 9,000 Palestinians are detained each year by Israel and today, more than 7,000 sit in Israeli jails.
And yet in the face of this ever-increasing level of state violence and danger, the steadfastness of Palestinians to fight against the occupation of their lands is strong. It serves as an indispensable model to follow in the struggle for justice in Palestine, and being aware of how each one of us — Palestinian, Israeli, international — can best join in that struggle is crucial.
Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com..
According to a recent CNN poll, 80 percent of Americans approve the use of airport full body X-ray scanners. Yet, back in April, a group of prominent scientists, physicians, and professors at the University of California San Francisco challenged their safety in a letter to Dr. John P. Holdren, the president’s assistant for science and technology.
Among the co-signers of Holdren’s letter are a 2009 Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn; her husband, John Sedat, Professor Emeritus at UCSF; and Dr, Marc Shuman, an internationally renowned cancer expert. Also signing the letter are UCSF professors whose expertise is in imaging, and crystallography.
In their letter, these scientists express “serious concern” about potential dangers posed by full body X-ray scanners. They contend that any possible perils caused by exposure to radiation can only be determined by a panel of medical physicists and radiation specialists who will take a look at all existing data independently, and without government oversight.
While some doctors have said that the danger from radiation exposure from a full body scan is less than that of a chest X-ray, or a mammogram, the doctors from UCSF disagree. They suggest that “a large fraction” of those exposed to this technology may be endangered.
The “large fraction” who may be at risk from these scanners include children and adolescents, anyone over 65, anyone with a compromised immune system, cancer patients, pregnant women, and even sperm may be compromised because of the proximity of testicles to the skin. Importantly, too, “mutagenesisprovoking” radiation may result in breast cancer in women.
They assert, too, that, while these new scanners operate at low frequencies of radiation, the concentration of the low beam energies to the skin and tissue beneath are what comprise the gravest threat to health, “Thus, while the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high.”
The doctors lament that there is no “independent safety data” to prove this technology is safe. Instead, there has been a rush to manufacture, and install this equipment in airports around the country.
These prominent, longstanding scientists describe major errors made before in a rush to find a solution; mistakes that imperiled the health of “thousands of people.” As examples, they mention how, in the early days of HIV/AIDS, the CDC failed to recognize the risk factors in blood transfusions.
To clarify, this group of scientists, professors, and doctors are not saying that full body X-ray scanners are unsafe, but rather that the decision to subject the public to this technology without adequate review of the possible immediate and long-term damage from exposure could prove to be a grave mistake.
But, it is not a mistake without a message. Unlike some earlier decisions to perform a medical procedure that has yet to be fully vetted, there is also a powerful lobby to market, and showcase dubious technology in the interest of bolstering their profit margin. Indeed, too, had he been the current head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff would be called upon to account for his lobbying efforts, and own personal gain as a result of the proliferation of inadequately tested equipment in the name of national security. But, who better to figure out a way to make a buck off national security than the former tzar of homeland security?
As USA Today has reported, in the past nine months, two companies have done very well in the airport body scan business. L-3 Communications has sold nearly $40million in scanners, and dedicated more than $4 million to lobbying for them. Rapiscan Systems sold $41.2 million worth of scanners to the federal government after spending nearly $300,000 on lobbying. Clearly, the profits aren’t in scientific research as to any potential hazard this technology may pose to our health.
Notably, too, those who want to capitalize on and exploit this technology have scored another victory as full body X-ray scanners, like the kind now used at some airports, are now popping up at courthouses. According to the Associated Press, two state courthouses in Colorado currently employ full body X-ray scanners, and U.S. Marshalls are exploring the prospect of using them widely. What next, X-ray body scanners to replace metal detectors in inner city schools?
The risks to our health both now and in future, as these UCSF scientists say, may far outweigh those posed by any terror attack. It’s time not only to review the possible benefits of this technology, but to have experts more closely evaluate any adverse effects, or “opt-out” of X-ray body scans until they are able to do so.
A Danish-British security company has sold torture instruments to the Israeli prisons, holding Palestinians inmates, a Danish newspaper has written.
The firm, named G4s, sells the devices to the detention facilities in the occupied West Bank, which provide the necessary means for torture of the Palestinian prisoners, Berlingske Tidende reported on Nov. 23.
Merav Amir, from Who Profits?, an Israeli organization which is dedicated to expose those who stand to benefit from the occupation, said it knew that the firm did not directly engage itself in torture, has created the circumstances required for the abuse.
There are around 9,000 Palestinians in Israeli detention. The families have for long been calling on human rights organizations and groups to intervene in order to secure the release of their loved ones, many of whom have been incarcerated without charge, trial and sentence.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, nearly 200 Palestinian inmates have so far died in Israeli confinement, either due to medical negligence or under torture.
The daily also exposed that the company also cooperates with armed Jewish settlers in Israel and sells tools and devices to the Israeli checkpoints.
The revelation came despite the human rights organizations’ insistence that the checkpoints — which dot the occupied lands — breach the Palestinians freedom of movement. It also defied the firm’s 2002 announcement that it would leave the West Bank in order not to cooperate with armed Israeli guards.
The Israeli foreign ministry has called on 10 of its embassies in Europe to begin an advocacy campaign for Israel, starting with recruiting 1,000 public members. The new policy comes in response to the boycott campaigns against Israel that are gaining support in Europe.
According to The Guardian, the Israeli foreign affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman sent instructions to 10 embassies last week, to start adopting measures in order to improve the image of the country in Europe.
The first order suggested meeting 1,000 people by the middle of January, who should be willing to send positive messages about Israel to the general public. “Jewish or Christian activists, academics, journalists and students, who will be briefed regularly by Israeli officials and encouraged to speak up for Israel at public meetings or write letters or articles for the press,” The Guardian reported.
In addition, the Israeli government will give funds to its embassies in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Rome to hire professional PR firms and lobbyists. The aim will be to research the opinion of the population regarding to Israel’s position about political issues, such as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, tourism, human rights and Iran.
Lieberman is also planning to meet with the Israeli ambassadors across Europe to plan a joint strategy.
No comment about the issue was made by the Israeli officials, but The Guardian reported that within them “there is anxiety about the way Israel is perceived abroad, particular worry in certain countries in Western Europe.”
It is not the first time that Israel launches a strategic policy to improve its image. The last campaign was held in December 2008 during the war on Gaza. At that time, numerous social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were used by the Israeli government promote a pretty picture of the attack.
However, this new policy comes when the cultural and economic boycott campaigns against Israel’s Occupation in Palestine, led by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, are gaining importance in Israel and worldwide.
Gaza 2010 – “The Book of Destruction”
Exhibition in the Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris from 4, November to 5, December featuring 82 color photographs of the aftermath of war in Gaza at the turn of 2009. The exhibit consist of two parts, destroyed buildings and war victims. The photographs were taken between November 2009 and May 2010.
The accompanying book “The Book of Destruction” is published by Steidl ISBN 978-3-86930-207-2.
The production of photographs, exhibition and was made possible by the Carmignac Gestion Foundation in the framework of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award 2009.
Members of “The Jewish Defense League” attacked earlier this week a photo exhibition of the German photojournalist Kai Wiedenhöfer “depicting the massacres in the Gaza strip during the Israeli Operation Cast Lead” offensive. The exhibit is being held at the the Modern Art Museum of Paris.
The employees of the museum explained that a group of people equipped with masks and motorbike helmets tried to reach the gallery to sabotage the exhibition, when museum security blocked their access.
However, the extremists also attempted to vandalize many works displayed alongside the Museum, including paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani and Marc Chagall, witnesses reported.
After the attempted attack, the group disrupted the visitors’ entrance, chanting slogans against museum, and affixed stickers that read: “Anti-Zionism=Anti-Semitism policy”, “Down anti-Semitism from which it comes” and “Palestinianism asset is the anti-Jewish activism.”
Since the photo exposition was opened at the beginning of November, many French Jews groups, such as CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) have been asking for its closure, putting pressure on Museum officials, and the city Council, an issue that pushed exhibition organizers to consider closing it before the official closing date in December 5.
Several French human rights associations have been mobilized asking the authorities not to cave under pressure, and demanded extra security measures to avoid another attack.
Wiedenhöfer, who has been retracting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1989, has brought 85 realistic and raw photographs to the exhibition, focusing on two major themes;destruction inflicting on Gaza and Palestinians wounded during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in the winter of 2008–2009 that was dubbed by Israel as “Operation Cast Lead”.