18 November 2011
Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Linda P.B. Katehi,
I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.
You are not.
I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:
1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today
2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality
3) to demand your immediate resignation
Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.
Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.
What happened next?
Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.
This is what happened. You are responsible for it.
You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.
One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.
You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.
On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”
I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”
I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.
Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.
I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis
The struggle for control over Libya’s military establishment is on amid concerns that Western powers want to establish a major NATO base in the country under the guise of fighting ‘terrorism’.
The one-month deadline Libya’s Transitional National Council (NTC) had set for itself to form an interim government ended on Sunday.
If the NTC can reach an agreement with rebel field commanders over the formation of the new government, Libyans would have surpassed the first major hurdle on the path to democracy.
However, there are significant divisions behind this facade of agreement between two contending parties.
One current within the council is close to the United States and is seen to be carrying out Washington’s bidding in the state building process that Libya is currently going through.
Another group seeks to maintain good relations with the West, while retaining some level of independence by minimizing interference from those powers who contributed to the toppling of the former regime.
The latter group can be described as patriotic, consisting of nationalists, leftists, Islamists, and independents. They backed the nomination of Abdel Rahim al-Keib for prime minister and therefore succeeded in winning the first round with the opposing faction.
Al-Keib is a businessman and a moderate technocrat. It seems that he is well regarded by both the majority of political parties within Libya and some of Tripoli’s key foreign backers.
However, the pro-US faction managed to win the second round after Khalifa Haftar was chosen as head of the Libyan National Army, which is in the process of being reactivated.
Haftar, who is known to be a reliable Washington ally, used to be an officer in Gaddafi’s army until he was discharged during Libya’s war with Chad in the late 1980s.
Haftar then broke with Gaddafi and joined the opposition, establishing the “National Army” during his captivity in Chad. He then went on to live in the US before returning to Libya and joining the ranks of the transitional council’s forces in the wake of the uprising last February.
Haftar comes from the al-Furjan tribe, one of the biggest in Libya, with a strong presence in Sirte. He fought for leadership of the rebel army, but was initially sidelined by the late general Abdel Fattah Younes.
Younis had a nationalist orientation; he belonged to the al-Obeidat tribe that dominates Benghazi.
Younes was assassinated last July. Though his death was attributed to Islamists, the identity of his assassins is yet to be revealed. This opened the way for Haftar to take over leadership of the armed forces.
According to numerous reports, Haftar is a longtime CIA agent, and it was the American intelligence agency that dispatched him to Libya during the insurrection to represent Washington’s interests in the TNC.
If Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, becomes the defense minister, the relationship between the ministry of defense and the leadership of the army will not be an easy one, to say the least.
The first sign of tensions between the two men surfaced a few days ago during a meeting held to designate the next head of the Libyan army. The meeting fell apart after rebels objected to the participation of a large number of former army officers.
The very next day, about 150 military officers resolved the matter in a meeting in the city of al-Baida, choosing Haftar to fill the post.
Many analysts speculate that the US and the Europeans are hoping the new Libyan army will play a key role in fighting so-called Islamic terrorism in the Sahel region.
Some even fear that the ground is being prepared for the establishment of a NATO base on Libyan territory under the pretext of fighting ‘terrorism’ in North Africa.
To this end, a number of intelligence reports have been circulated in Western media about the disappearance of large quantities of dangerous weapons and anti-aircraft missiles from Libyan army ammunition stores. The reports suggested that they may have fallen into the hands of al-Qaeda groups operating in Mali, Algeria, and Niger.
Last Wednesday, at a meeting in Algeria of the Working Group of Capacity-Building in the Sahel, US counter-terrorism coordinator Ambassador Daniel Benjamin said, “the terrorist threat is becoming more and more complex with some of the changes that the region is witnessing. This is particularly the case in the neighboring country of Libya.”
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika addressed these concerns in Doha last week in a meeting with TNC Chairman Mustapha Abdul Jalil. Both leaders are worried that the missing weapons issue might be exploited by the West to establish a long-term military base in Libya.
Proposal for a Coordinated West Coast Port Shutdown, Passed With Unanimous Consensus by vote of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly 11/18/2012:
In response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation:
Occupy Oakland calls for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12th. The 1% has disrupted the lives of longshoremen and port truckers and the workers who create their wealth, just as coordinated nationwide police attacks have turned our cities into battlegrounds in an effort to disrupt our Occupy movement.
We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port. Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT. Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.
Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT. The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.
Participating occupations are asked to ensure that during the port shutdowns the local arbitrator rules in favor of longshoremen not crossing community picket lines in order to avoid recriminations against them. Should there be any retaliation against any workers as a result of their honoring pickets or supporting our port actions, additional solidarity actions should be prepared. In the event of police repression of any of the mobilizations, shutdown actions may be extended to multiple days.
In Solidarity and Struggle,
– In Oakland: the West Coast Port Shutdown Coordinating Committee will meet on General Assembly days at 5pm before the GA to organize the local shutdown, and to network with other occupations.
Newspaper Publisher Caves at Last, Agrees Excerpts of Articles Do Not Infringe Copyright
San Francisco – In a victory for fair use, the publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Stephens Media, filed papers yesterday conceding that posting a short excerpt of a news article in an online forum is not copyright infringement. The concession will result in entry of a judgment of non-infringement in a long-running copyright troll case that sparked the dismissal of dozens of baseless lawsuits filed by Righthaven LLC.
The case began when the online political forum Democratic Underground — represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fenwick & West LLP, and attorney Chad Bowers — was sued by Righthaven for a five-sentence excerpt of a Review-Journal news story that a user posted on the forum with a link back to the newspaper’s website. Democratic Underground countersued, asking the court to rule that the excerpt did not infringe copyright and is a fair use of the material, and brought Righthaven-backer Stephens Media into the case.
The Court dismissed Righthaven’s infringement case because it did not own the article, but Democratic Underground’s counterclaim against Stephens Media continued. After initially attempting to defend the bogus assertion of copyright infringement, Stephens Media has now conceded it was incorrect.
“I knew the lawsuit was wrong from the start, and any self-respecting news publisher should have, too,” said Democratic Underground founder David Allen. “I’m glad that they have finally admitted it.”
“This concession comes after more than a year of needless litigation,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “Stephens Media never should have authorized Righthaven to file this suit in the first place, and should never have wasted our client’s and the court’s time with its attempts to keep Righthaven’s frivolous claim alive for the last year.”
The original lawsuit against Democratic Underground was dismissed earlier this year, when Judge Hunt found that Righthaven did not have the legal authorization to bring a copyright lawsuit because it had never owned the copyright in the first place. Righthaven claimed that Stephens Media had transferred copyright to Righthaven before it filed the suit, but a document unearthed in this litigation — the Strategic Alliance Agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media — showed that the copyright assignment was a sham, and that Righthaven was merely agreeing to undertake the newspaper’s case at its own expense in exchange for a cut of the recovery. In addition to dismissing Righthaven’s claim, Judge Hunt sanctioned Righthaven with fines and obligations to report to other judges its actual relationship with Stevens Media.
Righthaven has filed hundreds of copyright cases based on its sham copyright ownership claims. Despite several attempts by Righthaven and Stephens Media to re-write their Strategic Alliance Agreement, half a dozen judges have ruled against the scheme to turn copyright litigation into a business.
“This is a hard fought and important victory for free speech rights on the Internet,” said Laurence Pulgram, the partner who led the team at Fenwick & West, LLP in San Francisco. “Unless we respond to such efforts to intimidate, we’ll end up with an Internet that is far less fertile for the cultivation and discussion of the important issues that affect us all.”
Democratic Underground’s motion for summary judgment:
Stephens Media’s consent to the motion:
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Chair, Copyright Litigation Group
Fenwick & West LLP
Today, Kairos Palestine in Bethlehem released a statement on the Buy Israel activities of “an assortment of anti-Palestinian conglomerates” in the United Kingdom and the United States. The activities are organized in response to the increasing strength of the BDS movement.
Saturday, 26 November has been declared a national BDS Day of Action in the United Kingdom. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is calling on supporters to focus action on supermarket chain Tesco. The company sells a wide range of Israeli goods and is the only supermarket in the UK that is openly selling illegal settlement goods. PSC states:
We are calling on all supporters of Palestinian human rights to get involved through a variety of actions – from street protests, e-lobbying, networking and social media sites – to get more people involved in the boycott movement and help bring an end to Israel’s occupation, just like the movement against Apartheid in South Africa.
This has prompted the Israel lobby in the UK to go on the defensive.
Luke Akehurst, Director of We Believe in Israel — which is supported by the Israeli Embassy in London, the Jewish National Fund and StandWithUs UK — has circulated a letter in response to the national BDS day in which he calls for two “BUYcott” days sponsored by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and StandWithUs UK, “to counter the Boycott of Israeli goods.” He shows his fear for BDS activism in the last sentence of his letter:
You are asked by the organisers not to promote this campaign on public forums, which would alert the Boycotters in advance and give publicity to the Boycott itself.
Akehurst invites people to challenge BDS day “by making an extra special effort to BUY Israeli goods, particularly in the days running up to Boycott day (26 November). Please play your part by encouraging others to buy Israeli products. Speak to branch managers to point out how valued Israeli products are.”
In the United States, StandWithUs has put out a similar call on its website about the Buy Israel Week. Just like in the UK, the activity is planned in response to successful BDS activism in the US. Frances Zelazny, who came up with the idea, expressed her concerns by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against apartheid Israel. The initiative is co-sponsored by nine Jewish newspapers throughout the country, including the New York Jewish Week. The Jewish National Fund signed on to take part in the Buy Israel Week campaign. Ahava and El Al are sponsors of the campaign.
The organizers are attempting to lure people into buying Israeli products with discount coupons from more than a hundred local merchants and Israeli retailers.
On Thursday, Israeli forces destroyed agricultural ponds, farming equipment, irrigation systems and crops in the al-Baq’a area east of Hebron. Meanwhile, Israeli Knesset members proposed a law obligating the state to sign all future construction tenders for 10 West Bank settlements.
“Israeli forces, accompanied by the civil administration, the borders guards and police, raided with their bulldozers and vehicles the area and started demolishing the agricultural ponds that farmers use for irrigation,” farmer Ayad Jaber told Palestinian government news wire Wafa.
“Badawi al-Rajbi is one of the owners whose ponds were repaired many times after the Israeli forces demolished them during the past years,” said Jaber. “The Israeli troops keep demolishing these ponds, so they can expel farmers and steal their lands in order to expand Kiryat Arba and Kharsena settlements.”
The al-Baq’a area is considered to be one of the most fertile lands in Hebron.
The Israeli Knesset will discuss on Sunday a proposed law obligating the state to invest in settlement expansion under the framework of “natural growth.”
According to the Israeli Haa’retz newspaper, the Security and the Construction ministers would be forced to issue tenders for the construction of residential units in 10 settlements: Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Beitar lllit, Modi’in lllit, Alfei Menashe, Efrat, Karnei shomron, Beit Aryeh, Ornit, and Kiryat Arba.
The law was proposed by the Knesset members from the right-leaning parties Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. According to the law, Defense Minister Ehud Barak would be responsible for issuing construction permits in the West Bank.
The two British men executed by US drone attacks in Pakistan were not killed in combat. They were assassinated while going about normal life. This is a most barbarous practice, which amounts not just to execution without trial, but to inaccurate execution killing many who were never accused in the first place.
Being British does not make these particular victims more important than the thousands of others – including numerous women and children – that the US has assassinated in this way. But it does give the British government a standing to protest. Sadly there is no chance that the neo-cons in power will do anything about it. If there was one area where you might have expected the Lib-Dem presence in government to give it a slightly more liberal tinge, it was foreign affairs. In fact, there has been no evidence of that whatsoever.
RAMALLAH — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested 64 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank over the past week including 14 children, a press release by Hamas issued on Saturday said.
It pointed out that the largest number (17) were arrested in Al-Khalil followed by (12) in Bethlehem, (10) in Qalqilia, (6) in each of Nablus and Ramallah, (4) in each of Jenin and Salfit, (3) in occupied Jerusalem and one in each of Jericho and Tulkarem.
The report said that three of those arrested were journalists while five were recently released from PA security prisons.
AL-KHALIL — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a Palestinian man in Yatta village, south of Al-Khalil, on Sunday while settlers assaulted two others in the city of Al-Khalil.
Eyewitnesses said that a group of IOF soldiers stormed the family home of Nazih Nawaja’a and took him away after searching the house.
Meanwhile, settlers assaulted two Palestinians in Al-Khalil while another group of settlers broke into the home of a Palestinian in the Old City of Al-Khalil and destroyed his furniture and personal belongings.
In the same neighborhood, the settlers attacked the home of Hani Jaber who was recently released in the prisoners’ exchange deal between Hamas and Israel. The IOF soldiers arrested Jaber’s brothers instead of the settlers.
Settlers had raised a $100,000 “bounty” for the head of Jaber.