More than 20 children including one baby have been taken into care over fears they could be subject to extremist views and radical Islam at home.
Children from at least 11 families have been subjected to court orders, which remove children into state care.
The youngest child is a one-year-old from Rochdale whose family were caught attempting to flee to Syria via Turkey earlier in the year.
The figures come after one of the most senior judges in the UK released new guidelines on the increasing number of extremist cases which are taken to family courts.
In many cases judges use court orders to protect children who are considered vulnerable to extremist behavior. The orders can include making the children wards of court, place them in foster care or prevent them leaving the UK.
President of the Family Division of the High Court Sir James Munby said on Thursday that the number of cases involving children had risen since the beginning of the year.
“Recent months have seen increasing numbers of children cases coming before … the family court,” he said.
“There are allegations that children, with their parents or on their own, are planning or being groomed to travel to parts of Syria controlled by the so-called Islamic State; that children are at risk of being radicalized; or that children are at risk of being involved in terrorist activities either in this country or abroad.”
Munby said police should be proactive in seeking court orders, and not rely on local councils. He added that the safety of vulnerable children was “paramount.”
His announcement came days after Prime Minister David Cameron highlighted the “danger” Islamic extremism poses in the UK, saying the “passive tolerance” of radical ideas was allowing the spread of dangerous rhetoric.
Hannah Stuart, counter-radicalization expert at the Henry Jackson Society, said terror groups are continuing to target young people.
“Both among those who support people joining the conflict in Syria or who want to see terror acts committed here, we see a recurring obsession with the radicalization of children.
“We are seeing a generation who are getting older and having children, and those children are growing up in an environment where there is a risk of them being taken to Syria – or being told that it is right to hate non-Muslims and desire martyrdom.”
Most good spy stories involve political blackmail. In the first season of the popular television show HOMELAND, about the CIA’s post-9/11 terror wars, the bearded old CIA veteran Saul meets with a federal judge to get a court order to conduct surveillance on someone in the United States without probable cause. The judge appears to balk for a moment, until Saul cryptically reminds him about that thing. With a look that says, “You got me, you bastard,” the judge relents and signs the order. The CIA, we are meant to understand, knows something about this judge that the judge does not want the rest of the world to know.
Knowledge actually is power.
We know that the NSA and FBI have for over a decade been collecting the phone records of every person in United States, which includes every member of congress. An NSA whistleblower alleges that the NSA deliberately spied on Supreme Court justices. For decades, the FBI under Hoover ran a counterintelligence program (codename: COINTELPRO) that brandished political blackmail as a central weapon for control and manipulation. In a piece of political theater that may never have come to light had it not been for the courage of a few dissidents, the FBI wrote an anonymous letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., urging him to commit suicide. We know you are a pervert, the letter said. You should just end it now, and save yourself the embarrassment when we expose you to the press.
Today, even local law enforcement agencies and private corporations possess incredibly sensitive information about all of us—elected and appointed political and judicial figures included. Although I don’t have data to support this claim, my experience growing up in the United States leads me to strongly assume that most Americans would like to believe that this is a country in which secretive law enforcement and spy agencies do not routinely manipulate sensitive information for political purposes. Blackmail is a thing that happens in the mob or in corrupt foreign countries, I assume many people think—not in the US government.
But I assume the opposite. The cliché that absolute power corrupts is a cliché for a reason—and it’s why basic democratic norms like checks and balances on government power are so important. When civil libertarians and rights advocates repeat the words ‘transparency, accountability, and oversight’ over and over again in innumerable contexts, it’s not because we like how they sound rolling around our mouths. These three practices are foundational in any society that seeks to be democratic (as opposed to just using democratic rhetoric) and fight the human tendency to abuse power.
Corruption is only natural. That’s why we build systems to check greed, selfishness, and abuse of power. Or, rather, it’s why we should.
Take the case of Congressman Jason Chaffetz. The GOP Congressman was highly critical of the Secret Service during a time when it seemed like the press was every week reporting on another in a series of embarrassing agency mistakes. It turns out that the Secret Service did not appreciate Chaffetz’ public criticisms. Instead of investing energy in fixing the problems with the agency that the Congressman wanted to discuss publicly, the assistant director of the agency used his access to confidential government databases to leak embarrassing information about Chaffetz to the press, which subsequently published it. “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair,” the assistant director wrote in an email to colleagues before the leak.
I don’t have lots of money, but if there was a way of discovering the whole truth about these secretive and powerful members of our society, I would bet one thousand dollars that law enforcement and security agencies from police departments all the way up to the NSA, and everywhere in between, routinely deploy confidential information for political purposes. I’ve seen far too many scandals come to light to assume anything other than rampant corruption at agencies like the FBI, CIA, and NSA—not to mention state and local police departments. Do you really think the CIA would torture and murder people, and then destroy the evidence and try to interfere with an investigation into its activity, but not engage in a little political blackmail on the side? Torture and murder are all good, but the use of sensitive personal information to acquire political power is going too far?
Maybe you disagree with my assumption that agencies with access to loads of sensitive information about people likely routinely use it to secure and expand their power, but it doesn’t matter if my assumptions are totally wrong. Even if you believe that security agencies are generally good, and only bad apples misuse their access to sensitive information, we have enough examples of such abuse to support the obvious conclusion that transparency, accountability, and oversight over security agencies are basic requirements in a free society. The only way to ensure people don’t abuse their access to information is to limit that access, and then institute and uphold rigorous transparency and oversight mechanisms to ensure they aren’t improperly using information they legitimately hold.
Ultimately, the ACLU’s call for a 21st century warrant requirement for the tracking and monitoring of our electronic communications and devices is a conservative call for basic reform. Nonetheless, it’s an uphill battle in many states to fold information age technology into foundational Fourth Amendment law.
But lawmakers considering bills like those currently before the Massachusetts state legislature, on license plate, drone, social media, and electronic privacy, should remember that corruption happens everywhere. In a state that suffered the terror reign of Whitey Bulger and his FBI cronies, you’d think that lawmakers would be clear on the need for basic accountability in law enforcement. As of today, however, Massachusetts falls far behind other states in the category of passing basic electronic privacy law.
Let’s hope we don’t wait until someone in Massachusetts state government gets Jason Chaffetzed before we take essential steps towards protecting personal information in the digital age. It’s a simple matter of common sense, and for legislators, might someday mean the difference between having a lovely morning and waking up to an embarrassing headline screaming their name.
There are two great myths used in recent years to convince the world of imminent catastrophe unless we drastically change our living style in the direction of austerity. Both myths are based on scientific fraud and uncritical propagation by sympathetic mainstream and even some alternative media. One is the idea that world climate is warming, or at least “changing,” owing almost solely to us, to our man-made emissions. The second great myth, launched first in 1956 in Houston Texas by an employee of one of the world’s largest oil companies, was dusted off some 15 years ago at the start of the Dick Cheney-George W. Bush Administration. It’s called the theory of Peak Oil.
The good news is our coastal cities are not about to be washed away by melting icebergs or rising oceans, nor is our supply of conventional oil and gas–hydrocarbons–likely to run out for centuries or more. It has nothing to do with the highly damaging and very costly extraction of tight oil from shale rocks, but with the abundance of conventional oil around the world, the vast part of which has yet to be discovered or even mapped.
The most dramatic discoveries of new oil and gas reserves in recent years has come from the Mediterranean in areas off Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and believed to be offshore Greece as well. In 2010 Israel and the Houston, Texas company, Noble Energy, discovered the largest offshore gas field, Leviathan. It was the world’s largest gas discovery in a decade, with enough gas to serve Israel for at least a century. The geophysics of the offshore areas around Greece suggest that that hapless country could also have more than enough undiscovered oil and gas to repay all foreign debt and more. Not surprisingly the Washington-led IMF demands that Greece privatize her state oil and gas companies, a near certainty that major Western oil firms would sit on their development as was done in past decades until leases expired in 2004 and reverted back to the Greek Government.
In 2006 Brazil’s Petrobras made the largest offshore oil discovery of the last 30 years, holding at least 8 billion barrels of oil in the Santos Basin 250 kilometers from Rio de Janiero. Then-President Lula da Silva proclaimed it would give the “second independence” for Brazil, that from Western oil imports. In 2008 nearby Petrobras, a state company, discovered an equally large natural gas field called Jupiter near their Santos oil discovery. Under Lula’s presidency, the Parliament passed measures to insure oil development would remain in Brazilian hands under Petrobras and not in those of the American and British or other foreign oil majors. In May 2013 after Lula retired and was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff as President, US Vice President Joe Biden flew to Brazil to meet with her and the heads of Petrobras. According to Brazilian sources, Biden demanded Rousseff remove the laws that kept American oil majors from controlling the huge oil and gas finds. She politely declined and soon after she was hit with a major US Color Revolution destabilization that continues to this day, not surprising, with a scandal around Petrobras at the center.
More recently, Iceland, recovering from her banking crisis, began seriously looking offshore for oil and gas in the Jan Mayen Ridge north of the Arctic Circle in 2012. The geophysics are the same as offshore North Sea and one Icelandic former senior government official told me during a visit some five years ago that a private geological survey indicated Iceland could be a new Norway. According to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic could hold 90 billion barrels of oil, most of which is untapped. China made Iceland a key partner, and the two signed a free-trade agreement in 2013 after China’s CNOOC signed an offshore joint venture in 2012 to explore the offshore.
In April 2015 the energy exploration firm UK Oil & Gas Investments announced it had drilled near Gatwick Airport and found what they estimated could be up to 100 billion barrels of new oil. By comparison the entire North Sea has yielded some 45 billion barrels in 40 years. As well in May, UK oil company Rockhopper announced a new oil discovery in the disputed waters of the Falkland Islands offshore of Argentina believed to contain up to one billion barrels of oil.
Now in August, 2015 the Italian oil company ENI announced discovery of a supergiant gas field in the Egyptian offshore, the largest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea, larger than Israel’s Leviathan. The company announced the field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas in place covering an area of about 100 square kilometres. Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea.
There are huge undeveloped oil and gas reserves in the Caribbean, the area of an impact crater that made numerous fissures and where three active tectonic plates come together and part. Haiti is one such region, as is Cuba. In May the Cuban government released a study that estimated Cuba’s offshore territorial waters held some 20 billion barrels of oil. Russia’s oil subsidiary, Gazprom Neft, has already invested in one section in Cuban waters, and during Russian President Putin’s July, 2014 visit to Havana in which Russia cancelled 90% of Cuban Soviet-era debt worth some $32 billion, Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, the world’s largest oil company, signed an agreement with Cupet, the Cuban state oil company, to jointly explore the basin off Cuba’s northeast coast. That Russian participation in the huge Cuban oil search might explain the sudden rush of the Obama Administration to “warm up” relations with Cuba.
How oil is ‘born’
The accepted oil industry explanation holds that oil is a finite resource, a so-called fossil fuel, biological in origin, that was created hundreds of millions of years ago by the death of dinosaurs whose detritis by some yet-unidentified physical process transformed into hydrocarbons. The claim is that concentrated biological detritis somehow sank deep into the earth—the world’s deepest oil drilling in Russia’s Sakhalin region, drilled by Exxon, is more than 12 kilometers deep. There it supposedly flowed into underground pockets they call reservoirs. Others say also algae and tree leaves and other biological decayed matter added to the process.
In the 1950s a group of Soviet scientists was tasked with making the USSR self-sufficient in oil and gas as the Cold War heated up. The first step in their research was to critically investigate all known scientific literature on origins of hydrocarbons. As they looked closely at the so-called fossil fuel theory of oil, they were amazed how unscientific it was. One physicist estimated that for the huge oil that has come out of one giant well, Ghawar, in Saudi Arabia, it would require a block of dead dinosaurs, assuming 100% conversion of meat and bone to oil, that would reach 19 miles wide, deep and high. They soon looked for other explanations for the birth of oil.
They made exhaustive tests in the deep-earth research labs in Moscow of the Soviet military. They developed the brilliant hypothesis that oil was constantly being created deep in the bowels of the Earth below the mantle. It pushes upward towards the surface passing through beds of various elements such as ferrite. They did repeated laboratory experiments producing hydrocarbons under temperature and pressure imitating that in the mantle. These migration channels, as the Soviet scientists termed them, were fissures in the mantle caused over millions of years under the expanding of the earth and forced by the enormous temperatures and pressures inside the mantle. The path the initial methane gas takes upwards towards the surface determines whether it emerges and collects as oil or as gas, as coal, as bitumen as in Canada’s Athabasca Tar Sands, or even as diamonds which are also hydrocarbons. The Russian and Ukrainian scientists also discovered, not surprisingly, that every giant oilfield was “self-replenishing,” that is new oil or gas is being constantly pushed up from inside the mantle via the faults or migration channels to replace oil withdrawn. Old oil wells across Russia that were pumped far beyond their natural full rate during the end of the Soviet era when maximum production was considered highest priority, were then shut, considered exhausted. Twenty years later, according to Russian geophysicists I have spoken with, those “depleted” wells are being reopened and, lo and behold, completely refilled with new oil.
The Russians have tested their hypothesis to the present day, though with little support until now from their own government, whose oil companies perhaps feared that a glut of new oil would collapse oil prices. In the west, the last thing Exxon or other Anglo-American oil majors wanted was to lose their (once) iron grip on the world oil market. They had no interest in a theory that would contradict their Peak Oil theory.
‘War for Oil’ nonsense
Today a geopolitical decision by Saudi Arabia to wipe out the market-disturbing recent emergence of the United States as world’s largest oil producer owing to the major increase in shale oil production, has temporarily collapsed world oil prices from over $100 a barrel in July 2014 to around $43 today in the US market. That is leading to a dramatic cut-back in oil exploration around the world. In a fair world, oil or gas should be available at affordable prices to every nation to serve its own energy requirements and not the monopoly of a tiny cartel of British or American companies. Good to know is the fact that the oil and gas are there in super-abundance that we need not freeze in the dark or turn to windmills until the time mankind develops completely different forms of energy that are clean and earth-friendly. Wars to control oil or gas would become silly nonsense.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics.
“Sputnik’s coverage is often completely at odds with how the same story is reported in the West”, writes Vice News reporter Justin Ling. He was specifically addressing our coverage of the Canadian election, but the sentiment is spot on. Thanks for getting us, Justin. That’s precisely what we’re trying to do here.
Vice, which started out as a Canadian magazine and grew into an international media empire, is known for its in-depth, yet highly comprehensible coverage of international news. So it’s flattering, I guess, that they would pay attention to our articles, albeit a little confusing as to why.
After diligently mentioning all the right buzzwords — “Kremlin” and “propaganda” – in the very first paragraphs, Justin moves on to say that Sputnik is “directly run by the Russian government” – but claims that information is “scrubbed daily from the news outlet’s Wikipedia page”. And it is bizzare.
Now, I know, and you know, that journalists rely on Wikipedia for a quick fact check or background details to a story. But I would never expect a reporter of Ling’s stature to be using Wikipedia as a news source. (No offence, Wikipedia).
I’ll admit, curiosity got the better of me and I, too, checked out Sputnik’s Wiki page.
Now, either our daily page-scrubbing service has gone on strike, or Wikipedia in Canada looks dramatically different to what we’re seeing in Russia. And the US. And the UK. I know, because I asked our hubs to check. What can I tell you, I’m a curious gal. … Full article
Will Damascus request the British to assist in the same way, I don’t know. But there is another way for the British, and, in fact, everybody else, to carry out airstrikes against ISIS and other terrorists legitimately. It means a UN Security Council mandate, provided in response to the request of the Syrian Government. That is what we are now working on in New York. That is how the British could have their finger in the bombing pie in Syria. Russia is far from pulling this blanket upon herself. We want to work together.
There are other advantages of this course, besides establishing clear-cut objectives and terms of such collective intervention by the international community in Syria. We could agree, in the text of this resolution, on realistic and flexible enough modalities of a political settlement in Syria, which would allow those who left their country to come back and take part in its post-war reconstruction. The latter, by the way, could be a major source of economic growth in the region. What is equally important, this settlement will make it unnecessary for the EU to provide asylum to refugees from Syria.
I’ve read the said FT material. Some would say that it is very much in line with the backstabbing tradition of Western politics. I hope those plans were not serious on the part of our Anglo-American partners, who were able to see our preparations for airstrikes in Syria. The British have a signals intelligence post in Cyprus, just opposite our naval supply station in Syria, an equivalent of a 19th century coaling station. Perhaps, they just couldn’t say ‘no’ to their regional allies. But had it been true, it would have raised a host of serious issues. Because it would have been done behind our backs and in circumvention of the UN Security Council. Some seem eager to get NATO involved. The Alliance, until now, has been out of the picture in Syria, and for good reasons. Those plans, if implemented, would have brought about a de facto partition of Syria. More than that, our partners would have well found themselves in the position of protecting the terrorists.
It is a very dangerous idea. Some players might have harbored it. At least this would explain, why all of a sudden and from nowhere the tide of refugees in Europe this year. Quite likely it was meant to bring the EU on board as regards ‘safe zone’ plans. Now the migration crisis factor works for more realistic assumptions in Europe in respect of the political process in Syria, which cannot proceed while ISIS is there.
But let’s discuss things positively. Among those I can see close cooperation between the Russian and British military. Making common cause in Syria creates mutual trust, establishes mutual control, and provides incentives for both sides to be effective in doing its part of the job. We have just requested our Western partners provide us with their intelligence on the terrorist infrastructure in Syria, if they really think that we strike the wrong targets. We have also requested contact numbers of the Free Syrian Army to help bring it into a united effort to defeat terrorists.
And initial results of our strikes prove that they can be very effective if delivered in earnest, with no other objectives at the back of one’s mind. It also shows that the terrorists took their impunity for granted. In fact, it could be said that the anti-ISIS coalition of 60 (!) states presided over this outfit’s expansion for a whole year, rather than tried hard to stop and destroy it.
I am sure that thus there will be all the conditions in place for us to have a common view of the situation and make joint efforts on that basis. Among other things, it would have provided a welcome opportunity for our and the British military to be allies like we were in WWII. It would drastically change the terrorists’ calculus while doing the same to our relationship, which is in a very bad shape indeed.
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
The development of “killer robots” is a new and original way of using human intelligence for perverse means. Human directing machines to kill and destroy in a scale not yet imagined is a concept that not even George Orwell could have imagined. In the meantime, the leading world powers continue their un-merry-go-round of destruction and death -mostly of innocent civilians- without stopping to consider the consequences of their actions.
Killer robots are fully autonomous weapons that can identify, select and engage targets without meaningful human control. Although fully developed weapons of this kind do not yet exist, the world leaders such as the U.S., the U.K, Israel, Russia, China and South Korea are already working on creating their precursors.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that in 2012, 76 countries had some kind of drones, and 16 countries already possessed armed ones. The U.S. Department of Defense spends $6 billion every year on the research and development of better drones.
South Korea is presently using the Samsung Techwin security surveillance guard robots, which the country uses in the demilitarized zone it shares with North Korea. Although these units are currently operated by humans, the robots have an automatic feature that can detect body heat and fire a machine gun without human intervention.
Israel is developing an armed drone called Harop that could select targets with a special sensor. Northrop Grumman has also developed an autonomous drone called the X-47B which can travel on a preprogrammed flight path while being monitored by a pilot on a ship. It is planned to enter into active service by 2019. China is also moving rapidly in this area. In 2012 it already had 27 armed drone models, one of which is an autonomous air-to-air supersonic combat aircraft.
Killer robots follow the generation of drones and, as with drones, their potential use is also creating a host of human rights, legal and ethical issues. Military officials state that this kind of hardware protects human life by taking soldiers and pilots out of harm’s way. What they don’t say, however, is that the protected lives are those of the attacking armies, not those of the mostly civilians who are their targets, whose untimely deaths are euphemistically called collateral damage.
According to Denise Garcia, an expert in international law, four branches of internationally law have been used to limit violence in war: the law of state responsibility, the law on the use of force, international humanitarian law and human rights law. As currently carried out, U.S. drone strikes violate all of them.
From the ethical point of view, the use of these machines presents a moral dilemma: by allowing machines to make life-and death decisions we remove people’s responsibility for their actions and eliminate accountability. Lack of accountability almost ensures future human rights violations. In addition, many experts believe that the proliferation of autonomous weapons would make an arms race inevitable.
As the United Nations is trying to negotiate the future use of autonomous weapons, the U.S. and U.K. representatives want to support weaker rules that would prohibit future technology but not killer robots developed during the negotiating period. That delay would allow existing semi-autonomous prototypes to continue being used.
The need for a pre-emptive ban on the development and use of this kind of weapon is urgent. As Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stated recently, “If there is not a pre-emptive ban on the high-level autonomous weapons, then once the genie is out of the bottle it will be extremely difficult to get it back in.”
Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant. He recently received the Cedar of Lebanon Gold Medal from the House of Lebanon in Tucuman, Argentina.
Isabel Kershner in The New York Times tells us that Palestinians are running amok, lashing out at Israelis not only in the West Bank but now in Israel as well. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to quell this “wave of terrorism,” she reports, and Israelis are “unnerved” by the spread of incidents.
Kershner describes three alleged stabbing attempts, dwelling at length on one of them; recaps an earlier incident that left two Israelis dead; and in the final paragraphs of her story informs us that “at least two” Palestinians were killed, one of them a 13-year-old boy “described as a bystander.”
Nowhere do we learn that the major victims of violence in this turbulent conflict are Palestinians, not Israelis, as revealed in a recent United Nations report: In one week, ending Oct. 5, Israeli security forces injured 794 Palestinians, while Palestinians injured a total of seven Israelis. (As of Oct. 5, 30 Palestinians had been killed in 2015 compared with eight Israelis.)
This is an injury ratio of more than 100 to one, a shocking disparity, but the Times story shows concern only for Israeli injuries and fears. We find no accounts there of what the Palestinian victims experienced as they faced the aggression of heavily armed security forces.
Readers and viewers elsewhere, however, got a firsthand view of Israeli violence yesterday as videos emerged that revealed undercover agents inciting stone throwers in the West Bank. The agents, wearing keffiyehs and bearing a Hamas flag, urge bystanders to join them, then draw their weapons and assault Palestinian youths.
The videos, by several agencies, including Reuters and Agence France-Presse, went viral, appearing on French, British, Israeli and American media outlets. The Times, however, has so far failed to link to the videos, which show a soldier shooting a captive Palestinian in the leg at point blank range.
The newspaper also avoids any commentary that would shed a clear light on the nature of the conflict even as Israeli columnists have recently provided eloquent testimony of the despair behind Palestinian attacks.
Gideon Levy, writing in the Middle East Eye, notes that when Palestinians remain quiet, they reap nothing but “an intensification of the occupation.” He lists the constant attacks and humiliations they endure and asks, “Are Palestinians to assent to all this in silence?”
Levy notes that after a Palestinian family was burnt alive, Israeli officials admitted that they knew who was responsible but refused to make any arrests. “What people could maintain restraint in the face of such a sequence of events,” he writes, “with the entire might of the occupation in the background, without hope, without prospects, with no end in sight?”
Amira Hass writes in a similar vein, and the headlines on her Haaretz article express it well: “Palestinians Are Fighting for Their Lives; Israel Is Fighting for the Occupation—That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time.”
Both these Israelis speak with an honesty that rarely, if ever, appears in the Times. Readers of the newspaper of record instead face a determined effort to protect Israel’s reputation, to preserve the narrative of Israeli victimhood even in the face of the evidence.
As Palestinians fall to Israeli violence at the rate of 100 a day, the Times obsesses on Israeli Jewish victims. It ignores the numbers that reveal an enormous toll of Palestinian suffering and it excludes the news and the voices of conscience that could help readers gain a truer perspective in this conflict.
Cell Phone Video Clears Canadian Man of Assault Charges Despite Phone Going Missing in Police Custody
These days, a simple cell phone can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
At least it did for Abdi Sheik-Qasim, who was cleared of assault charges thanks to a video he recorded of the interaction he had last year with two Toronto-based cops.
The best part?
Despite the phone going missing while in police custody, it instantly uploaded a duplicate copy of the 10-second video clip directly to Sheik-Qasim’s email, giving him the proof necessary to clear his name.
“It saved my life, or at least a lot of headaches,” Sheik-Qasim told The Toronto Star, who broke the news last week. “I would have probably been in jail right now.”
The incident took place on Jan. 4, 2014 with officers Piara Dhaliwal and Akin Gul.
Sheik-Qasim, 32, was staying over his uncle’s house in Ontario when law enforcement officials arrived after a noise complaint had been placed by neighbors. According to The Star, Sheik-Qasim quickly turned down the music’s volume without hesitation and gave the cops his identification.
But when the two police officers insisted on entering his home without a warrant, Sheik-Qasim whipped out his cellphone and began recording the incident, only to have the phone slapped from his hands.
He was then arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer as well as refusal to comply with a court order.
Both officers testified that Sheik-Qasim was the one who initiated the brawl, alleging he reached for Gul’s utility belt, leaving Dhaliwal no choice but to arrest him.
Nevertheless, Ontario Court Justice Edward Kelly disagreed.
But only after he viewed the video.
Kelly cleared Sheik-Qasim of the bogus charges after viewing the clip and stating he found it “extremely troubling” the cellphone went missing while in police custody.
“The absence of the phone is extremely troubling when considered in light of the testimony of the officers, which I regard to be deliberately misleading,” Kelly said, adding that it must have been nearly impossible for Sheik-Qasim to have reached the utility belt as fast and as aggressively as the cops claim.
Two Connecticut cops were hanging out together off-duty when suddenly, they feared for their lives, drew their firearms and hosed down a suspicious car in their driveway.
Too bad the car was empty.
And belonged to one of the officers.
Then the Darien Police Department did something even more shocking.
Darien police asked the Connecticut State Police to investigate the incident, leading to charges against the two officers for second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace and unlawful discharge of a firearm under state law.
It’s no shock that an independent investigation would find probable cause to charge the two officers for these actions.
James Martin and Daniel Ehret fired the live ammunition for unknown reasons on August 1st, 2015, but it took two months before charges were announced just yesterday.
The officers were at Martin’s house and destroyed Martin’s own personal vehicle.
Of course, this means the officers have now been placed on “paid administrative leave” which is the police term of art for a fully paid vacation with salary.
More significant than charges is the rare admission from a police agency that cops must abide the same laws as citizens AND that investigations of a department’s own officers. According to local TV station WTNH:
Darien Police Chief Duane Lovello says that the two officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident occurred. “The allegations leading to the arrests are disturbing. I cannot conceive of anything that would lead police officers to do something so profoundly dangerous and wholly irresponsible. This conduct is intolerable and does not reflect the professional values or the ethical, responsible, and moral conduct we demand of Darien police officers and their duty to the public we serve,” Chief Lovello said in a statement.
Local outlet Darien Times story released Chief Lovello’s entire statement, which revealed the car’s true owner and the location of the alleged crimes committed by two 10-year police veterans. Turns out that the town of Darien, which was founded in 1737, survived all the way until 1925 without any police force whatsoever.
Reprieve | October 9, 2015
The father of Ali al-Nimr, a Saudi juvenile facing execution for his role in protests, has spoken of his uncertainty and concern about the fate of his son, as it emerged Ali and a second juvenile are now being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Riyadh.
Speaking last night, Mohammed al-Nimr said that the family hadn’t seen their son since 15th September, saying: “I’m very worried now, because they’ve moved my son to a prison in Riyadh, and he’s in solitary confinement – I fear he could be executed at any moment.” He added that Ali was among several other young men sentenced to death in the wake of protests, including Dawoud al-Marhoon, whose sentence of beheading was upheld last week.
Both Ali and Dawoud were 17 when they were arrested in the wake of protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Both received death sentences after being tortured into ‘confessions’ used to convict them in the country’s secretive Specialized Criminal Court. Executions are shrouded in secrecy in Saudi Arabia, and it is possible that both juveniles could now be executed at any time, without prior notification to their families. However, speaking to Al Jazeera this week, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi permanent representative to the UN, suggested that Ali’s case was still “being reviewed in legal circles”, ahead of his execution receiving the “personal approval of the King”.
Speaking to Channel 4 last night, Ali’s father Mohammed al-Nimr said that as the UK and Saudi Arabia had a “warm relationship”, he hoped that interventions by the British government would save his son. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the government has raised Ali’s case with the Saudi authorities; however, the Ministry of Justice has faced criticism over its ongoing bid to provide services to the Saudi prison system, which would be responsible for carrying out Ali and Dawoud’s executions.
Concerns over the UK’s position come amid growing calls for firmer interventions from close allies of Saudi Arabia, such as the UK and the US. Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution that called on member states – including the UK – to “deploy all their diplomatic tools and make every effort to immediately stop the execution” of Ali and others arrested at protests.
Commenting, Kate Higham, caseworker at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “Saudi Arabia’s plans to kill Ali and Dawoud are appalling, and have rightly caused an international outcry. Now these two juveniles – who have been through a shocking ordeal of torture and unfair trials – have been disappeared to solitary confinement, far from their families, who have no idea what the next few days could bring. We can only imagine how terrified they must be. Countries like the UK and the US, who count the Saudis among their closest allies, must listen to Ali’s father and urge a halt to these executions. Britain’s Ministry of Justice must also urgently call off its bid to provide services to the Saudi prison service that will carry out these executions.”
When 16-year-old Matthew Robinson and his mother, Eva, took their dog out for a walk one September evening four years ago, they never once thought they’d end up in a federal courtroom. Yet that’s where they have been as their terrifying case against two police officers was put in the hands of a jury this week in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Tased, beaten, and terrorized — the Robinsons were not suspected of any crime when they were stopped by police beside their home in Dover, Arkansas. The catalyst for the stop was innocent: Matthew looked and waved at Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton as he drove by. Payton admitted this behavior is perfectly legal, yet said he found it suspicious. That led to Matthew being beaten, tased multiple times, kicked, searched, and arrested while his mother was also beaten, handcuffed, choked, and arrested. Her glasses were broken as her face was repeatedly slammed into the hood of a patrol car.
Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton testified that he detained the Robinsons and their dog in the back of his patrol car, with the intent to take them to jail solely to identify them. When co-defendant Pope County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Kristopher Stevens arrived on the scene, he ordered Matthew to get out of the car. When Matthew was not able to get out quickly enough, the Pope County sergeant tased him twice inside the car.
Counsel for the officers claim that the incident would have been avoided if Matthew had said who he was or if he had gotten out of the patrol car when they said, maintaining that officers had “no choice” to use the taser.
We disagree. De-escalation is always an option.
The case has been rife with missing evidence that police had a duty to preserve. Data from the taser, which would have shown the number and duration of taser deployments on Matthew, was destroyed even after a request was made for a copy of the data. Sergeant Stevens admitted at trial he was untruthful when he told Mr. Robinson there was no data on the taser. Though three police cars were audio and video capable, and should have been in use, police produced only one grainy video of part of the stop.
Photographs show 22 separate taser marks on Matthew’s torso, sides, shoulder, stomach, and lower back. Police admitted at trial to tasing Matthew at least six times, though Sergeant Stevens’ written report from the incident reflected only three tasings and Deputy Payton’s report showed only one. Sergeant Stevens admitted that his testimony in the juvenile case against Matthew, where he denied tasing the teenager while he was on the ground being cuffed, was untrue and that he had in fact tased the minor while he was on the ground. He also admitted that each of the six tasings were in violation of the department’s policy, as was the failure to properly record the incident.
To boot, each officer testified that the other was in charge of the scene. Neither Matthew nor his mother were ever read their rights or told that they were being arrested or why. This is in direct violation of the Robinson’s rights and the polar opposite of good policing.
While the officers continued to deny any wrongdoing, they have admitted to previously testifying falsely, false reports, missing evidence, and multiple violations of policy and training standards. We brought out the missing evidence and inconsistent testimonies in the Robinsons’ case. Missing evidence and police misconduct, after all, are often reasons that the criminal justice system fails us.
With the officers and departments disclaiming any and all responsibility, the Robinsons had nowhere else to turn but to court. They’ve had to fight for four years to ask a jury to serve as the first line of accountability.
In the end, Sergeant Stevens and Pope County settled with the Robinsons just before the verdict for $225,000. No action has been taken by the departments or the officers to prevent such a thing from happening again. Officers have not been disciplined or retrained, and no policies have been revised or implemented. In fact, both officers testified that they would do things exactly the same again.
Success in civil rights cases is against the odds, especially in a case involving police. Tremendous time, money, resources, and energy must be invested just to fight for a chance to obtain some bit of relief or accountability. And then, judges and juries are not empowered to truly bring about better, safer policing.
Unchecked violations of the duty to serve and protect threaten police credibility and safety as well as public safety. We entrust our police officers with great power — to detain, arrest, and use deadly force if necessary — and we provide them special status in return. For all our sakes, they should honor that status by serving and protecting, not terrorizing and tasing.
Settlers march through occupied al-Khalil attacking, insulting and threatening Palestinians and internationals
Al-Khalil/Hebron, occupied Palestine – Yesterday night, October 7th 2015, a large group of settlers harassed, insulted and physically assaulted Palestinian residents and internationals in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), injuring several.
Around 08:00 pm, more than 50 settlers from the illegal settlements within al-Khalil, most of them children and teenagers, accompanied by a few adults, marched around the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, chanting insults and hate-speech, calling for the death of Arabs. The group was not only chanting racist abuse, but also demonstrated a high level of violence and aggression towards the Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood.
After marching through the streets loudly chanting, they attacked Palestinians right outside a shop, running towards them and beating them, and hurling rocks at Palestinian youth and internationals documenting these violent assaults. Instead of intervening, Israeli forces watched these attacks happen at first just to point their loaded guns at Palestinians that just a few seconds before were standing in a hail of stones, threatening to shoot. Two persons were injured with stones thrown by the settlers, a Palestinian youth in his hand and an international in his chest. In the meantime, the settlers openly picked up more stones and rocks from the ground, attacking families that opened their main gates to find out what the shouting was about. Again, instead of preventing or stopping attacks by the settlers, the army violently pushed Palestinians to move back into their homes, yelling at them. All complaints made by Palestinians against the attacks by the settlers were ignored by the soldiers. But not only the settlers, also the Israeli soldiers violently attacked several Palestinians and beat them.
Many families rushed into their homes upon hearing the yelling, locked their doors and then had to watch the settlers chanting abuse at them from behind their windows – protected only by the metal grids installed in the past due to frequent settler attacks. Soldiers, in the best case, are standing idly by. Last night, they were pointing their guns at children and women watching in fear from the roof of their houses – the one place farthest away from the settlers down on the street; and soldiers were banging on the door of Palestinian family homes, while the group of settlers are aggressively chanting and threatening the families while standing right behind the soldiers.
Settler woman photographing internationals getting attacked
When the march proceeded down the hill towards Shuhada checkpoint, where over two weeks ago the Israeli army ruthlessly gunned down and killed the Palestinian student Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, more than two dozen activists from Youth Against Settlement arrived to document the racist abuse and attacks against Palestinians. Israeli forces that by then finally arrived, immediately stopped the Palestinians and isolated them in an alley, preventing them from going anywhere. The group of settlers on the other hand was allowed to keep on chanting racist abuse and burned Palestinian flags, cheering and clapping. Israeli soldiers were getting their guns ready, facing the Palestinians that were clearly upset when their flags were being burned, but did not do anything to stop the flag-burning.
In order to allow for the greatest possible space for the settlers to move around and keep on chanting, Israeli forces pushed back the Palestinians, with one soldier threatening an international that he would ‘break his face’ if he didn’t move right away. Settler children and women also attempted to break cameras of internationals, blocking them from documenting the events and spit at them.
Infamous, aggressive settler Anat Cohen repeatedly attacked an international observer while she was standing right in front of a police car with two policemen inside, that did not even bother to get out of the car and instead just kept watching from inside. Soldiers did at no point try to prevent Anat Cohen’s attacks and instead ordered the internationals to go back up the hill, which at that point was not safe with settlers still roaming the streets. The settler woman both tried to grab the international observer’s camera and attempt to punch her in the face without soldiers intervening. When the international observer was ordered by soldiers to move towards the Palestinians detained on the other side of the road, Anat Cohen pushed her as she was passing in front of the police car, and her daughter kicked the her in the stomach. Soldiers still did not intervene and refused to take a complaint about this attack, forcing her and another international to leave.
This incident again illustrates the power settlers hold over the Israeli army. Even when attacking Palestinians – or internationals that enjoy a greater protection than any Palestinian – settlers enjoy the protection of the Israeli army.
Last evening, most Palestinian families, did not go to sleep, staying up late scared of what might happen during the night. Unfortunately, this incident in al-Khalil is only a case in point in a long record of settler attacks, that recently have been escalating not only in al-Khalil, but throughout the occupied West Bank.