Maryanne Godboldo, a mother in Michigan, noticed that pills prescribed by her daughter’s doctor were making her condition worse, not better. So Mrs. Godboldo stopped giving them to her. That’s when the trouble began. When Child Protective Services (CPS) bureaucrats became aware that the girl was not receiving her prescribed medication, they decided the child should be taken away from her mother’s custody on grounds of medical neglect. When Ms. Godboldo refused to surrender her daughter to the state, CPS enlisted the help of a police SWAT team! On March 24 of this year a 12 hour standoff ensued and young Ariana was taken into custody. The drug involved was Risperdal, a neuroleptic antipsychotic medication with numerous known side effects. Ms. Godboldo had decided on a more holistic approach for her daughter. She is still engaged in a costly legal battle with the state over Ariana’s treatment and custody.
This is one example of how government’s increasing proclivity to medicate children with questionable psychiatric drugs violates the rights of parents. Just recently, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the astonishingly high rate of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for children in the foster care system. It is absolutely astounding that nearly 40% of kids in foster care are on psychotropic drugs, some of them taking up to 5 different pills at a time. Some of these children are under one year of age – too young to safely take over the counter cold medication!
To fight this dangerous trend I reintroduced the Parental Consent Act of 2011, HR 2769, which prohibits federal funds from being used to establish or implement any universal or mandatory mental health or psychiatric screening program. The previous administration pushed hard for this type of federal intrusion into the medical decisions of families through its wildly misnamed “New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.” Everyone interested in parental rights and true health freedom must fight to make sure the commission’s findings and dubious psychiatric science are never used as justification to force mental health screening on American kids at school without their parents’ consent.
There has been a persistent lobbying effort, funded by pharmaceutical companies, to increase the number of these prescriptions to even more children. A universal screening program is the stated goal of these lobbyists. I would not be at all surprised to see the recent attention to the issue of schoolyard bullying used as a tool towards these ends.
Imagine the potential ramifications of a universal, mandatory psychiatric health screening program in a public school, considering how some bureaucrats are wont to behave! The diagnostic criteria for many mental illnesses remain vague and subjective. Therefore it is all too easy for a bureaucrat in a white coat to label a child with some sort of psychiatric syndrome simply because they were having a bad day, or behaving as a typical rambunctious child. That label could follow them around the rest of their school career and come with a number of prescriptions attached, which the state, as in the Godboldo case, may try to force the parents to administer, whether they want to or not.
I plan to continue the fight to ban federal funding of any universal screening program that imposes mental healthcare screening on children without express informed consent from parents.
There’s a phenomenon that I have at times witnessed which continues to shock me though it should not: individual Jews exploiting the fears and insecurities of other Jews in order to garner their support for an agenda that they otherwise would not be so supportive of.
Such is the case with a recent Ha’aretz report by Barak Ravid. Ravid warns his readers that
An intensive delegitimization campaign is taking place in cities across the United States—on university campuses, at malls and in front of Israel consulates.
Well sure, we’ve heard about it before. That’s the thing they call the BDS, right? But wait:
The campaign is not aimed at the settlement enterprise, or against the occupation and the humiliation of millions of Palestinians at checkpoints, but rather the campaign is against the very existence of the State of Israel, and promoting a boycott of anything that might even smell Israeli.
One example is the story of “Park Slope Food Co-op,” a Jewish supermarket located in Brooklyn, situated in one of the most “Jewish” areas in the United States. Every week, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists assemble near the entrance, where one can purchase Israeli goods, and call for a general boycott of the store.
Truly frightening, especially since it’s so untrue. How shall we parse this?
1. The Park Slope Food Co-op is not a “Jewish supermarket.” It is a food cooperative open to everyone who joins as a working member. It is not explicitly marketed toward Jews, and there is nothing distinctly Jewish about it (as some of the Christmas-themed products currently on the shelves will attest to).
2. “Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists” do not “assemble near the entrance” every week. Ravid is possibly referring to the one or two people who leaflet outside the Co-op every now and then.
3. Moreover these leafleters are not “call[ing] for a general boycott of the store” but instead calling for a member referendum on whether the Co-op should honor the Palestinian BDS call.
4. The Hebrew version of Ravid’s article reports the same thing but includes this additional lie:
…where one can purchase Israeli goods such as Bamba, Milky, and hummus…
I have never seen Bamba or Milky at the Co-op, and hummus is not an “Israeli good.”
So how did Ravid come up with this story? Most likely he coordinated with Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli Minister of “Information,” whom Ravid quotes in the same article. Edelstein and his entourage visited the Park Slope Food Co-op last week, along with StandWithUs regional coordinator Avi Posnick, who has been tasked with taking down the Co-op.
Richard Silverstein has the scoop on that story on his blog. (Disclosure: I assisted Richard with the story.)
Finally, Ravid claims that the BDS campaign has nothing to do with supporting human rights and equality for Palestinians. Instead, it is motivated by hatred for Israel and is “promoting a boycott of anything that might even smell Israeli.” Since his sole example turns out to be a complete fabrication, we can dismiss this argument as well.
But we should note how often this type of argument is made, and we should understand the racist assumption behind this thinking. The assumption is that those who fight for Palestinian human rights are disingenuous because Palestinians aren’t human beings and aren’t worth fighting for. Thus the only possible motivation for criticizing Israel for its treatment of Palestinians is hatred of Jews.
Both Ha’aretz and Barak Ravid owe the literate world an apology.
Mustafa Tamimi, a 28-year-old Palestinian from the village of Nabi Saleh, moments before he was shot by the Israeli army and killed. “Circled in red are the barrel of the gun and the projectile that hit him,” according to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (Photo: Haim Scwarczenberg)
The Israeli spin doctors are at it again.
Haaretz reports on the Israeli military claiming that the killing of Mustafa Tamimi was an “exceptional” incident and that the soldier who fired the tear-gas canister at him “didn’t see” Tamimi “because his visual field was obscured by the gas mask he was wearing.”
Let’s take apart these claims.
The killing of Tamimi was not “exceptional”–at least not in the way that the Israel wants you to believe. What was “exceptional” about the killing was that the entire incident was caught on camera and shown to the world, and that there is little dispute about the facts (unlike in the case of Jawaher Abu Rahmah). The fact that Mustafa Tamimi is dead, though, is not “exceptional.” +972 Magazine‘s Noam Sheizaf has more on why:
… officials have told Haaretz that Tamimi’s death was “an exceptional incident.” Still, as we have reported here in the past, firing tear gas canisters at protesters from close range (in violation of army orders) is a common practice in the West Bank. A couple of years ago, Palestinian protester Bassam Abu-Rahmeh of Bil’in died after getting hit in the chest by a tear gas canister [video]. A year later, his sister, Jawahar, collapsed from the effect of a tear gas and later died in a Ramallah hospital.
I have seen tear gas canisters shot directly at protesters (including myself) in several demonstrations in Bil’in, in Hebron and in Nabi Saleh.
When you viciously fire tear-gas canisters like the IDF does, someone is bound to die. The IDF is lying when it implies that incidents like these don’t happen often.
There are also glaring problems with the second claim that the Israeli soldier “didn’t see” Tamimi because he was wearing a gas mask. Anne Paq, a French photographer based in Palestine, tweeted, “I am wearing gas mask all time to take pics. I can tell u, u can see if somebody is 5 meters in front of you! more lies from IOF.”
And even if the Israeli claim were true, Haaretz notes:
… rules of engagement prohibit the firing of tear gas grenades from a rifle pointed directly at demonstrators or from a distance of less than 40 meters away. They also stipulate that the shooter must use the rifle sight and verify that no one is in the line of fire. Central Command and the Military Police are conducting separate investigations into the incident.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has more on the military violating its own rules of engagement:
For several years now, B’Tselem has been warning officials that security forces’ fire tear-gas canisters directly at persons during demonstrations. The organization has demanded – both in meetings with senior military officials and by letter – that commanders clarify to soldiers serving in the field that firing tear-gas canisters directly at a person is unlawful. Tear gas is supposed to serve as a non-lethal crowd control measure, and using it as a substitute for live fire is forbidden. Therefore, firing tear-gas canisters directly at persons breaches the rules of engagement.
Such firing has resulted in serious injury and death. In April 2009, Bassem Abu-Rahmah, from the village of Bi’lin, was killed by a tear gas canister that struck him in the chest. B’Tselem knows of 13 cases in which persons were seriously injured in similar circumstances since the beginning of the second intifada. B’Tselem has also documented direct firing of canisters that did not result in injury, and has provided the Military Advocate General Corps and the commander of Judea and Samaria Brigade with video footage of such firing.
In response to B’Tselem’s demands, the then-legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, Col. Sharon Afek, replied in April 2009 that, “direct firing [of tear-gas canisters] at persons is prohibited” and that, “very soon, an explicit and broad directive will be issued that will prohibit the firing of a tear-gas canister directly at a person.” In July 2011, following further requests by B’Tselem, after the direct firing continued to occur at demonstrations, Major Uri Sagi, of the office of the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, replied that, “following your letter, we have again clarified to the forces operating in Central Command the rules relating to firing of tear-gas canisters at persons, including the prohibition on directly firing a tear-gas canister at a person.” At meetings with B’Tselem, senior military officials claimed that such firing is forbidden and does not occur.
However, B’Tselem has since documented more cases in which security forces fired tear-gas canisters directly at persons. As far as B’Tselem knows, no soldier has been prosecuted for such firing. In the abovementioned case of Abu-Rahmah, which occurred in April 2009, a Military Police investigation was opened only in July 2010, and only after B’Tselem and Attorney Micha’el Sfard threatened to petition the High Court of Justice if an investigation were not initiated.
B’Tselem wrote to the office of the military advocate for operational matters to verify that an MPIU investigation had been opened in the case of a-Tamimi, in accordance with the new policy that the MAG Corps declared before the High Court of Justice. B’Tselem demanded that the investigation examine not only the conduct of the soldier who fired the canister, but also the responsibility of the command echelon, including the orders given to the soldier.
B’Tselem will provide all the material in its possession and will follow the case to make sure the investigation is effective and professional.
Thousands of Syrians demonstrate in Damascus to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad, November 28, 2011.
People in Syria have begun voting in the country’s elections of local administration councils that take place every four years, Press TV reports.
About 14 and a half million people are eligible to cast their ballots. More than 42,000 candidates are competing for 17,000 seats.
The candidates have promised to meet public demands and implement the reforms that the government has announced over the past few months.
The Syrian opposition has boycotted the current elections, which take place as the country experiences unrest.
Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest that erupted in mid-March, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
In interviews with Israeli news outlets over the past few months, the Syrian opposition members have clearly expressed their vision for the future of Syria and their interest in establishing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.
However, Syrian people have repeatedly expressed solidarity with the government. Figures show that during the past weeks, about 12 million people have demonstrated in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
NABLUS – Hundreds of settlers stormed the Nablus village of Asira al-Qibliya overnight Sunday, causing damage to Palestinian property.
Witnesses told Ma’an that around midnight more than 200 settlers from the notorious Yitzhar settlement entered the village and threw rocks at Palestinian homes.
Local resident Ibrahim Makhlouf said that the settlers smashed the windows of a bus and tried to set it on fire.
“They were armed and wearing black uniform as if it was an organized militia,” he told Ma’an.
The attackers smashed the windows of three other houses belonging to Basim Salih, Jamil Abdullah and Khalil Mahmoud Salih, Makhlouf added.
Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up more than 50 percent this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.
Last week, a mosque was set on fire by settlers in the West Bank village of Bruqin, near Salfit, local officials said.
A report released by The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees found that in October, over 53 percent of settler attacks had taken place in the Nablus district.