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UK to jail pro-Palestinian protesters

Press TV – August 20, 2017

A group of five pro-Palestinian activists in the UK face possible prison sentences after being arrested during protests outside an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturing company.

Charged with a breach of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act, the protesters face at least six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000, the media reported Sunday.

They were arrested in July following a protest in the West Midlands town of Shenstone that forced the UAV Engines Ltd plant, a subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, to shut down all operations for two days.

The demonstration saw activists put small coffins outside the factory and lay down next to them to raise awareness about the Israeli regime’s record of killing Palestinian children over the years-long occupation of the country.

Palestine Action, the organization that helped organize the demonstration, said all of the accused would plead not guilty in the case.

“They [protesters] believe that the factory is complicit in illegal activity and that they were preventing a crime,” the group’s Birmingham and Manchester branches said in a statement.

A lawyer for the protesters said “the lawfulness of [Elbit and UAV Engine’s] activity in its factory” was one of the issues that they were going to discuss in the case.

Based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Elbit produces range of military equipment, including drones, aircraft, weapon control systems, and artillery.

The company’s customers include the Israeli army, US Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, and the French Defense Ministry.

A group of European Banks and financial institutions have on several occasions boycotted the company for arming Israeli military forces despite growing criticism from the international community.

The efforts are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global movement against Israeli companies.

The British government has been under increasing pressure from Israel to put a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

A number of universities in the UK have already banned their students from holding events in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fourth Branch

By Kary Love | CounterPunch | August 18, 2017

I am a lawyer. My pro bono clients are often those who offer nonviolent resistance to wrongs committed by our own government.

I read that, this week past, some nonviolent resisters entered a nuclear weapons storage facility in Germany.

Damn if it is not a list of many of my clients. These people are incorrigible. Next time at sentencing I will argue jail is a waste of time and public money for those sorts; you just cannot deter some people from a life of “crime.”

What a world, in which those acting peaceably for peace are criminals while those in power ordering the killing of people “for their own good” are not.

I still subscribe to law professor Francis Boyle’s view; nuclear weapons and related materiel are not property–property rights attach to legitimate things, not to criminal instrumentalia that have no use but criminal annihilation.

I’ve argued all this a few times with success and many other times not. As to the juries in cases of nonviolent resistance to injustice or in defense of higher laws, I trust them if they are allowed to hear all germane facts.

In one case in which I argued that the nonviolent defendants—who had used hand tools to dismantle a portion of a US nuclear Navy command facility—did not interfere with the defense of the USA because technical experts—whose published work the defendants had read—those defendants were innocent of sabotage charges.

We won this case in great part because of Captain James Bush’s (Ret.) testimony; the members of that jury were fully informed. Bush told the jury of 12 that as he commanded a United States nuclear submarine loaded with ‘city-busting’ weapons that he was also earning a graduate degree in International Relations and that he came to understand that he was in violation of the law every day. Hearing that from a retired commander made quite an impression. The jury rose to the occasion and acquitted, even with a hostile judge.

But it’s degenerating. The recent Espionage Act prosecutions have prevented defendants such Kiriakou et al. from even saying the word “whistleblower.” Reality Winner will be so shackled in her defense.

I have experienced this abuse of the law in nuke protest cases in US federal court–to the point I conclude such trials are Soviet Mock Potemkin Trials (back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR).

In my judgment the jury is the 4th branch of government. The Founders knew power corrupts, and that sooner or later, the Congress, the President and the judges would abandon the Constitution for power and that only fully informed juries could stem the tide of corruption.

The Federal judges who issue orders in limine so jurors do not hear all the evidence (as to both the law and the facts) are complicit in destroying the check and balance the jury must be–as all others involved, i.e., Congress, President, judges, are beholden to the system.

In the case to which I referred above, the State Court Judge had some residual fidelity to the Constitution and we kind of boxed him in to allowing Bush to testify as he did–though I expect the Judge did not think a “military man” would have such a complicated mind, capable of rational thought and a moral code superior to his willingness to “just follow orders.”

Kinda tricky of me, I guess. But my oath is to the Constitution, not Congress, White House, or Judge–all of whom are creatures of the Constitution deserving of no respect nor obedience when they violate same (as is the ordinary course of all branches these days.)

Despite many disappointments, I still have faith in juries of ordinary people when fully informed to make “just” decisions even if necessitating deviation from the law. Thus, government fears the people so long as there is trial by jury.

This is as it should be. A government making unjust laws as ours does ought to fear its ability to convict when justice is not served by conviction. The three branches have become unmoored from being “bound down in the chains of the Constitution”–with the result it is a lawless beast.

Ultimately it will be up to the people: a nation of law, or a nation of beasts? Our “leaders” have no interest in curbing their own abuse of power. As victims of such abuse, the people are responsible, for the sake of their progeny and the future of liberty.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

Israel to Impose Fines for Commemoration of Nakba

IMEMC News & Agencies – August 17, 2017

Israeli occupation authorities are prepared to impose massive fines on Palestinians who commemorate the Israeli occupation of Palestine, a report revealed on Tuesday.

An Arab member of the Knesset said, according to Days of Palestine, that occupation authorities have decided to fine institutions which rent out space for events organized by non-Jewish citizens, which the state regards as illegal.

“The Israeli measure is against the simplest basics of democracy and free speech,” explained Jamal Zahalkeh MK. “It is racist because it targets Arab citizens and their institutions.”

On Sunday, the Israeli Culture and Sport Minister, Miri Regev, and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit met and agreed on how to implement the so-called “Nakba Law” which first surfaced in 2011.

It stipulates that any institution in receipt of government funds will be fined up to three times of the said funds if it rejects Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state; incites racism, violence or terrorism; supports armed resistance or terrorist acts against Israel; or commemorates Israel’s “independence day” as Palestinian Nakba Day.

Israel Hayom said that Regev asked for the meeting after reports about an event hosted by a Jaffa theatre in honor of former Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, who was indicted for smuggling telephones to Palestinian security prisoners.

Regev and Mendelblit, the newspaper said, agreed that complaints about alleged violations of the Nakba Law, by public institutions, would be passed on to the finance ministry, which would have a week to respond on whether a given incident in fact violates the law.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments

A De-Putin-Nazification of America Update

By CJ Hopkins | CounterPunch | August 18, 2017

So the de-Putin-Nazification of America couldn’t be going much better at the moment. In terms of emotionally manipulating people (and especially any heretofore wayward members of the American “left”) into forming a mindless, hysterical mob and running around like headless chickens branding anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton a goose-stepping Nazi, this past week has been a huge success. At this point, if you haven’t yet posted an anti-Nazi loyalty oath on Twitter, Facebook, or some other platform, you’re a potential “Nazi sympathizer” … and you don’t want to be one of those, now do you? No, I didn’t think you did. So, if you haven’t done that, you’d better get on it. Here are few tips to get you started.

Your anti-Nazi loyalty oath should include a clearly-worded statement acknowledging that Donald Trump is Hitler, or at least the leader of the tens of hundreds of imbecilic, neo-Nazi losers who, according to most of the mainstream media, are on the verge of overthrowing the entire American ruling establishment. It should also include a threat to unfollow, de-friend, and otherwise socially ostracize anyone who hasn’t posted such an oath, or who, despite the Charlottesville Kristallnacht, stubbornly continues thinking critically, or maintains any form of historical awareness, or presents any kind of rational arguments challenging the prevailing Nazi hysteria.

It should also include one or more of the following:

(1) If not an outright call for the First Amendment to be repealed, then at least a demand for a ban on “hate speech,” and the removal of every hate-based statue, flag, painting, book, film, song, joke, or other expression of racism, hatred, religious bigotry, misogyny, extremism, general rudeness (and any other forms of speech or expression that you don’t like) from public view. Don’t worry about the ramifications of this ban. It will never, ever, be used against you, or anyone that you agree with, or against any authors or artists that you like. It’ll be a ban on “hate-speech,” after all, and it’s not like that term is completely subjective, or subject to the whims of those in power, or anything like that.

(2) A demand that the already overly-broad definition of “terrorism” now be expanded even further, to include the fascist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, killing one and wounding many others. Never mind that this murderous idiot seems to have done this on the spur of the moment (or, if it was a planned attack, that he’s even more of an idiot than he seems, which, judging from his mug shot, is hard to believe). The important thing is to help the Resistance expand the definition of “terrorism” to the point where they can slap it onto anyone. Again, don’t worry about the ramifications. The “terrorist” label will never, ever, be used against groups that you approve of, or innocent people in faraway countries that some future president wants to murder with drones. The Resistance would never, ever, do that. They know who is and who isn’t a terrorist. And if they don’t, they can always check with Obama.

(3) A reference (either veiled or direct) to someone who may be a Nazi-sympathizer. This is crucial in terms of motivating others to post their loyalty oaths, and fostering an atmosphere of paranoia, which is always so helpful at times like this. Surely, you know of someone who has said, tweeted, published, or posted something that could be interpreted as “Nazi-friendly.” Don’t bother with the Trump supporters. The corporate-owned media will take care of them. You want to go after other leftists, specifically leftists who have been reluctant to call Trump Hitler, or a Putinist agent, or who disagree with you about Syria, or, you know, just people who get on your nerves. This is a golden opportunity to pore through their tweets and Facebook posts, find something you can use against them, and then accuse them of harboring Nazi sympathies. Given the current level of hysteria, few people are going to check your facts. This is one you can really have fun with. See how far you can push the paranoia. Make up elaborate conspiracy theories. If you’re not quite sure how to go about that, check The New York Times or The Washington Post … they’re masters of that kind of thing.

Your anti-Nazi loyalty oath should definitely not include any of the following:

(1) Any mention of the Ukrainian Nazis that Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the Resistance (before it was the Resistance, of course) helped regime-change the Ukrainian government when it wouldn’t play ball with the EU and NATO. Mentioning the Resistance’s support of these Nazis would only confuse those reading your oath, who might not understand that there are good Nazis and bad Nazis, and who have probably forgotten how the US government smuggled a number of actual Nazis (i.e., members of the NSDAP) into America after WWII … or how, since the end of that war, the United States has mass murdered countless millions of people all over the planet (but, technically, not in a genocidal fashion, so that doesn’t make us the same as Nazis).

(2) Actual membership figures on neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, because those figures are pathetically small. Doing this would make your loyalty oath (not to mention the whole Nazi hysteria thing, generally) seem, if not paranoid, then at least absurd, or like part of some manufactured effort to whip up support for a ruling class coup by waving Nazis in front of everyone’s faces. This would be extremely counterproductive. Remember, one of the primary goals of the De-Putin-Nazification program is to convince the public that Richard Spencer (and the handful of other insignificant idiots that the corporate media is showering with publicity) is about to lead an overwhelming force of tiki torch-bearing neo-Nazis into the streets of American cities to battle the hyper-militarized police, the national guard, and the US military, or some other preposterous scenario like that.

(3) Any reference whatsoever to the corporatocracy that runs the country, and that normally decides who can run for president, and which is currently making an example of Trump in order to dissuade any future billionaires from having the audacity to fuck with them. You’ll be better off avoiding this subject entirely, as it only reminds folks how screwed they are, and how, odds are, they’re probably all worked up about something the corporate-owned media wanted to get them all worked up about, neo-Nazis, Russian hackers, nuclear war with North Korea, Syrian gas attacks, lone wolf terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, or whatever. Take it from someone who’s worked in show business. No one likes being made aware of how they are being manipulated … or provided with a binary set of officially acceptable contextual parameters within which they can think and speak.

But don’t worry too much about that binary stuff. There’ll be plenty of time to get into all that after we rid the world of these Nazis, and these racists, and all these Confederate statues. And Trump, of course. That’s the main thing … getting rid of Donald Trump, and getting a Democrat back in office. Oh, yeah … and the books. We need to look at the books. God knows how many Confederate books are still out there in the public libraries, and in people’s homes, where children can read them. We’ll need to get to the books eventually.

In the meantime, focus on Priority One. Go hard on the Nazi hysteria, at least throughout the rest of the weekend, after which they’ll probably need to switch us back to the Russia hysteria, or possibly the North Korea hysteria, or … damn, see? Here I go with that contextual parameter stuff again. I’ve really got to stop doing that. The last thing I need is to get myself accused of being some kind of Nazi sympathizer, or Confederate apologist, or Russian propagandist, or extremist, or terrorist, or, you know … whatever.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or  consentfactory.org.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Al-Araqeeb village: Palestinian Bedouins refuse to surrender 116 times

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | August 15, 2017

On August, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers finished their ugly deed and soldiers began evacuating the premises, the village resident immediately began rebuilding their homes.

Twenty-two families, or about 101 residents, are estimated to live here. By now, they are all familiar with the painful routine, considering the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.

It means that the village has been destroyed nearly 17 times each year since then. And each time, it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again.

If the repeated destruction of the village is an indication of Israel’s stubborn insistence to uproot Palestine’s Bedouins, the rebuilding is indicative of the tenacity of the Bedouin community in Palestine.

But Al-Araqeeb is only symbolic of that historic fight.

It would be no exaggeration to state that there is a war waged by Israel against Palestinian Bedouins. The aim is to destroy their culture and to force them into townships similar to those of Apartheid South Africa.

The geographic space of that war extends from the Negev desert to the Southern Hebron Hills to Jerusalem.

The epicenter of the ongoing fight is the village of Al-Araqeeb. Not only has Israel destroyed Al-Araqeeb numerous times in violation of international law, it actually delivers a bill to the homeless residents expecting them to cover the cost of the very ruins wrought by the Israeli state.

According to latest estimates, the families that live in makeshift huts and rely on rudimentary means to survive are expected to pay up a bill of two million shekels, around $600,000.

Israel dubs Al-Araqeeb, along with 35 villages in the Negev, as “unrecognised” by the Israeli government’s master plan, thus they must be erased, and their population driven into townships made for the Bedouins.

However, these villages are older than Israel itself, and any such “master plan” could have easily considered this existing reality. What Israel truly labours to achieve is to replace the Bedouins with its own Jewish population, as it has tirelessly done for seven decades.

Palestinian Bedouins are known for their tenacity. They fully fathom the history and plight of their ancestors, where generation after generation were ethnically cleansed and exiled to refugee camps outside Palestine, or forcibly removed to other areas. Today’s Bedouin communities refuse to be subjected to that same fate again.

The Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Bedouins of the Negev is no different from the plan to colonise the West Bank, Judaise the Galilee and Palestinian East Jerusalem. All such efforts always culminate in the same routine – of removing the Arabs and replacing them with Israeli Jews.

In 1965, Israel passed the Planning and Building Law which recognised some Palestinian Arab villages in the Galilee and southern Negev, but excluded others. Nearly 100,000 Bedouin were forcibly removed to “Planned Townships” to endure economic neglect and poverty. Many refused to be moved and, since then, have fought a protracted war to survive and maintain a semblance of their culture and way of life.

Currently, according to the Institute of Palestine Studies (IPS), roughly 130,000 individuals live in the so-called unrecognised villages “under the constant threat of wholesale demolition”.

The anomaly is that these Bedouin communities prove the fallacy of the Israeli claim that it was Jewish settlers – not Palestinians – that “made the desert bloom”.

A simple look at statistics demolishes that deceptive claim entirely.

As of 1935 – that is 13 years prior to the existence of Israel – Bedouins “cultivated 2,109,234 dunums of land where they grew most of Palestine’s barley and much of the country’s wheat,” stated IPS.

Moreover, Jewish settlers did not arrive in the Negev till 1940 and, by 1946, the total Jewish population there did not amount to more than 475.

The amount of land cultivated by the Bedouins in the Negev prior to 1948 came to three times that cultivated by the entire Jewish community in all of Palestine even after sixty years of ‘pioneering’ Zionist settlement IPS concluded.

To reverse this indisputable historical reality, Israel has led a decided campaign aimed at vanquishing the Bedouins by severing their relationship to their land. Although this has been done with a great degree of success, the struggle is not yet over.

The same struggle is duplicated elsewhere, especially in so-called “Area C” encompassing 60 per cent of the West Bank. Palestinian Bedouin villages there are also enduring a terrible fight, as many of their villages have been singled out for destruction.

Most West Bank Bedouins live in the central West Bank region, in an area known as the South Hebron Hills. Last month, it was reported that the Israeli Supreme Court is now “deciding the fate” of the Bedouin village of Dkeika. Other villages in the area have either been demolished, received demolition orders or are waiting for their fate to be determined by the Israel court.

It is hardly a question of a single village or two. The UN reported that 46 villages in central West Bank are “at risk of forcible transfer” by the Israeli government.

To preclude any legal wrangling, the Israeli government has been actively pursuing wholesale, irreversible actions to seal the fate of Bedouins once and for all.

In 2013, Israel announced the “Prawer Plan”, the goal of which was the destruction of all unrecognised villages in the Negev. However, massive mobilisation involving the Bedouins and Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories defeated the plan, which was officially rescinded in December of the same year.

But, now, it is being revived under the name “Prawer II”. A draft of the plan, which was leaked to local media, was introduced by Israel’s Agricultural Minister, Uri Ariel. It, too, aims to “deny Bedouin citizens land ownership rights and violate their constitutional protections,” reported Patrick Strickland.

The war on the Bedouin is, of course, part of the larger war on all Palestinians, whether in Israel or under military occupation. While the latter are denied the most basic freedoms, the former are governed by at least 50 discriminatory laws, according to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights.

Many of these laws are aimed at depriving Palestinians of the right to own land or to claim even the very land upon which their homes and villages existed for tens and hundreds of years.

It should come as no shock, then, to learn that, while Palestinian citizens of Israel are estimated at 20 per cent of the population, they live on merely three per cent of the land, and many of them face the constant danger of being evicted and relocated elsewhere.

The story of Al-Araqeeb is witness to the never-ending Israeli desire for colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous population of Palestine, but also of the courage and refusal to give in to fear and despair as demonstrated by the 22 families of this brave village.

In some way, Al-Araqeeb represents the story of all of Palestine and its people.

The struggle of Al-Araqeeb should evoke outrage at Israel’s constant violation of human rights and its refusal to recognise the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, but it should also induce hope that 70 years of colonial expansion cannot defeat or even weaken the will of a village, or a nation.

Read also: Israel demolishes EU-funded Palestinian homes in Hebron

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Palestinian Journalists Declare Hunger Strike

A journalist during a protest at Israel’s Ofer detention center in the West Bank (PLO/File)
By Jaclynn Ashly | IMEMC News | August 14, 2017

As local and international criticism continued to mount against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s (PA) tightening noose on freedoms of expression in the occupied West Bank, seven Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the PA have begun a hunger strike after being detained under the controversial Cyber Crimes Law, approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month.

Palestinian journalists Mamduh Hamamra, a correspondent for Al-Quds News, Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Tariq Abu Zeid, and freelance journalist Qutaiba Qassem all declared a hunger strike immediately after their detentions were extended by up to 15 days on Thursday, according to a statement released by Omar Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and former prisoner of Israel.

Issam Abdin, a lawyer and head of advocacy at Palestinian NGO al-Haq, confirmed to Ma’an News Agency that four more Palestinian journalists –Al-Quds News correspondent Ahmad Halayqa, Shehab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa, and reporters Islam Salim and Thaer al-Fakhouri — had declared a hunger strike on Thursday to protest their detention.

The journalists had all been detained several days prior for allegedly violating the terms of the new law, according to Abdin.

All seven of the journalists reportedly work for media outlets that were among 30 sites blocked by the PA in June — all of which were reportedly affiliated with the Hamas movement, the ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip which has been embroiled in a bitter ten-year rivalry with the Fateh-led PA, or Abbas’ longtime political rival, Muhammad Dahlan.

While the move to block the websites in the West Bank was condemned at the time as an unprecedented violation of press freedoms in the Palestinian territory, Abbas took the crackdown on media to another level last month by passing the Cyber Crimes Law by presidential decree.

‘A draconian law’

In a statement on Thursday, Nazzal said that at least six of the imprisoned journalists — omitting al-Fakhouri — were being detained over allegations of violating Article 20 of the Cyber Crimes Law.

The article states that an individual could face at least one year in prison or be fined at least $1,410 for “creating or managing a website or an information technology platform that would endanger the integrity of the Palestinian state, the public order, or the internal or external security of the State.”

Meanwhile, “any person who propagates the kinds of news mentioned above by any means, including broadcasting or publishing them” faces up to one year in prison or a fine ranging from $282 to $1,410, according to the new law.

Abdin said that these “loose articles,” through which individuals would face imprisonment simply for publishing certain articles on their social media accounts, set the groundwork for arresting Palestinian journalists and “destroying the freedom of journalism work in Palestine.”

Nadim Nashif, the cofounder and director of Palestinian and Arab digital advocacy group 7amleh, called the law “terrible” and “draconian.”

“It’s the worst law in the PA’s history,” Nashif said. “It allows the PA to arrest anyone under unclear definitions.”

Nashif noted that not only did the law criminalize the creation, publication, and propagation of certain information deemed dangerous by the PA, it also ruled that individuals found to have bypassed PA blocks on websites through proxy servers or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) could face three-month prison sentences.

Nashif said that the law had dragged the West Bank “backwards.”

Despite Israel’s decade-long occupation of the West Bank and the more than 10-year political split with Hamas, “generally, the media and websites were left alone,” Nashif said. “They were not part of this political fight.”

“The PA is kind of breaking the last spaces of freedom of speech,” he said.

Palestinian journalists trapped between Hamas-PA divide

Rights groups were quick to condemn the detention of the journalists, claiming that the new law was aimed at rooting out political dissent against Abbas and the PA — likely under the auspices of the PA’s widely condemned security coordination with the Israeli state, although the PA has repeatedly stated that it has halted this policy since July.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a PA security official had initially said that at least five of the imprisoned journalists were arrested for “leaking information and communicating with hostile parties.”

However, Addameer added, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate contacted Palestinian security forces on Wednesday morning and were told that the journalists were detained “in order to pressure Hamas to release another journalist detained in the Gaza Strip,” referring to Fouad Jaradeh, a correspondent for official PA news channel Palestine TV who has been imprisoned in Gaza for more than two months.

Both Hamas and the PA have been criticized for carrying out retaliatory acts on individuals affiliated with the opposing group, most notably in the shape of politically motivated arrests and imprisonment.

Abdin said that Palestinian journalists have been “plunged into the Hamas-Fateh division,” as both groups have targeted journalists in order to quash opposition that could affect their political hold in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said in a statement on Wednesday that the journalists’ arrests were “part of a marked escalation of violations against media freedoms” in both the West Bank and Gaza.

However, the new law and Abbas’ moves to stifle dissent against the PA are “not just problematic for journalists,” Nashif said. “Any activist or individual who the PA thinks is an opponent can now be arrested without any clear reason.”

The PA has also been accused of conducting sweeping detention campaigns targeting Hamas-affiliated residents of the West Bank, while the PA has escalated measures in recent months to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.

A study by Palestinian think tank al-Shabaka documented the consequences of the PA’s security campaigns, “whose ostensible purpose were to establish law and order,” but have been perceived by locals as criminalizing resistance against Israel.

‘It’s illegal under Palestinian law’

Abdin pointed out that both the website blocking and the new cyber crimes law violated Article 27 of Palestinian Basic Law, which protects the press freedoms of Palestinian citizens, including their right to establish, print, publish, and distribute all forms of media. The law also guarantees protections for citizens who are working within the field of journalism.

The article also prohibits censorship of the media, stating that “no warning, suspension, confiscation, cancellation, or restriction shall be imposed upon the media,” unless a law violating these terms passed a legal ruling.

Abbas, however, has not received permission from the judiciary to approve these far-reaching restrictions on the press, according to Abdin.

Since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not convened in Ramallah, meaning that the vast majority of laws passed by the PA in the past ten years have been passed by Abbas, who extended his presidency indefinitely in 2009, via presidential decrees.

Al-Haq has pointed out that the new legislation violates international law, including Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Rights groups, activists, and journalists have demanded that the PA amend the law to abide by pre-existing Palestinian legislation, rescind its blockage of news sites, and end its practice of routinely arresting Palestinian activists, writers, journalists, and others for their political opinions.

Edited for the IMEMC by chris @ imemc.org

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Statement from The Rutherford Institute Regarding Violence at the August 12 Rally in Charlottesville

The Rutherford Institute | August 14, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE — That this weekend’s display of hate, violence and civil disorder resulted in the death of Heather Heyer is not just a tragedy for those who knew and loved Heather, but for all of us who believe that love is greater than hate and that freedom for all is imperative if we are to stand strong against the forces of tyranny that continue to batter this nation.

There is always the temptation following a tragedy to point fingers and find someone to blame in addition to those directly responsible for committing acts of violence. It is unfortunate that those leading the charge right now have chosen to cast the blame on civil liberties organizations that were compelled to stand up for the principles of the Constitution when the government failed to do so. To suggest that the ACLU of Virginia or The Rutherford Institute or the federal district court were in any way complicit in this weekend’s violence is to do a grave disservice to every individual who has ever fought and died for the freedoms on which this nation was founded.

The City of Charlottesville had several lawful options it could have pursued to prepare for this weekend’s anticipated clash between protesters.

1. The City could have chosen to close the downtown forum altogether and move all three permit-holders to McIntire Park. It did not do so. Instead, the City Manager created a clear First Amendment crisis by revoking only one of the three downtown permits granted for this weekend, by failing to provide any evidentiary-based factual support for its actions, and by waiting to act until mere days before the anticipated rallies were to take place.

2. The City should have ensured that police were under clear orders to maintain law and order by establishing clear boundaries and safeguarding the permit zones. In fact, the City made it clear in press statements and in legal filings that it was preparing for demonstrations downtown by both sides whether or not the Unite the Right rally’s permit for Emancipation Park was honored. According to news reports, more than 1000 armed police, riot teams plus the National Guard were deployed to maintain law and order at the August 12 demonstration. As indicated by its preparations for the July 8 KKK rally, the City and law enforcement were completely cognizant of the need to establish barriers keeping the two sparring sides apart and to ensure that all three permit holders’ rights to access their respective spaces were respected.

3. The First Amendment provides for the right to peacefully assemble in public. In other words, no permit is necessary for citizens to assemble in public. The permitting process simply provides for space to be reserved by a particular group at a particular space for a particular purpose. While the government has the discretion to refuse permits based on reasonable time, place and manner concerns, it may not discriminate against a group based on the content of their speech. Whether or not a permit had been issued for any of the three downtown parks on August 12, the protesters and counterprotesters made it clear that they planned to exercise their right to assemble. Many of those assembled maintained their commitment to peaceful, nonviolent action. The rights of those who exercised their First Amendment rights peacefully and lawfully were diminished by those who opted to act with violence and in clear violation of the law. There is no defense for such actions.

As Glenn Greenwald recognized in his article in The Intercept taking issue with those who attacked the ACLU (and The Rutherford Institute) for challenging the City of Charlottesville over its unequal application of the permitting laws, civil liberties advocates “defend the rights of those with views we hate in order to strengthen our defense of the rights of those who are most marginalized and vulnerable in society.”

The Rutherford Institute remains committed to preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution, even in those most difficult situations when doing so means defending the rights of those whose views may be hateful or unpopular.

***

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Remembering the Rabaa massacre

By Amelia Smith | MEMO | August 14, 2017

Four years ago today the Egyptian army stormed a sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa square and slaughtered 1,000 people who were protesting against the removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi. People were shot, burnt alive and suffocated with tear gas. Security forces blocked the entrances so that ambulances couldn’t get in to treat the wounded.

What: Rabaa Massacre

When: 14 August 2013

Where: Egypt

What happened?

After Morsi was ousted in a military coup on 3 July 2013 the Muslim Brotherhood called for counter-protests at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares. Some 85,000 people joined the sit-ins.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been demonstrating outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo for 47 days when security forces attacked at around 6am on 14 August 2013.

Security forces shot indiscriminately into the crowd, set fire to the tents people had gathered in and threw tear gas into the masses. Armoured vehicles and bulldozers advanced on the protesters.

Some 1,000 people were killed, thousands injured and over 800 people were arrested.

What happened next?

Supposedly liberal figures like the author Alaa Al-Aswany endorsed the massacre, as did the state media. “They are a group of terrorists and fascists,” Al-Aswany said.

Despite the fact that the police and army opened fire and used excessive force, since that day not a single security officer has been brought to trial or been held accountable for the massacre.

In 2015 the government renamed the square after Hisham Barakat, the public prosecutor who presided over the acquittal of Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities widened their crackdown, not just targeting members of the Muslim Brotherhood but anyone who opposes the regime. They arrested thousands, tortured them, denied them medical attention in prison and forcibly disappearing them.

Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights both conducted independent investigations into the massacre and concluded that it had been launched on predominantly unarmed protesters.

Despite this the international community resumed arms exports to Egypt shortly after the massacre and have generally sought to strengthen ties with the Sisi regime.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Three Social Leaders Murdered in Colombia in Only 72 Hours

teleSUR | August 12, 2017

The Colombian activist and social leader Fernando Asprilla was murdered on Friday in the Cauca department, and was the third death of a social leader recorded in a 72 hour period.

The Ombudsman of Colombia, Carlos Alfonso Negret Mosquera, showed in a recent report that during the period between the first of January, 2016, and March 1st of 2017, at least 156 homicides, five disappearances, and 33 violent attacks against community and social leaders occurred.

According to the report given by Negret, one of the primary causes of the deadly trend is the continued operations of illegal armed right-wing paramilitary organizations that have occupied territory left behind by the disarming Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC – EP).

Human rights defenders and activists in the districts of Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, Bolivar, Caldas, Caqueta, Casanare, Cauca, Cesar, Cordoba, Cundinamarca, Choco, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Risaralda, Santander, Tolima and Cauca Valley have been assassinated since the FARC’s demobilization process began.

As they have handed over their weapons and negotiated terms of peace with the Colombian government, FARC-EP has consistently demanded that the state works to dismantle paramilitarism in the country, saying its ongoing violence represents the greatest threat to the peace process.

The government however, has largely ignored the existence of paramilitaries, claiming that they were demobilized during Alvaro Uribe’s presidential term between 2006 and 2008. FARC-EP leaders have pointed out that many of the groups have been reclassified as criminal gangs, but continue to represent the same threat as always by assassinating leaders who fight for human and land rights.

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Resistance at Tule Lake (trailer)

Resistance at Tule Lake (trailer) from Konrad Aderer on Vimeo.

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE tells the long-suppressed story of 12,000 Japanese Americans who dared to resist the U.S. government’s program of mass incarceration during World War II. Branded as “disloyals” and re-imprisoned at Tule Lake Segregation Center, they continued to protest in the face of militarized violence, and thousands renounced their U.S. citizenship.

The documentary premiered in February 2017, is continuing to screen at film festivals and other venues, and will be presented for national public television broadcast in May 2018.

For more information, visit resistanceattulelake.com

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Democratic Demagogues and ‘The Better Deal’

By James Petras • Unz Review • August 9, 2017

Introduction

After 6 months of blaming Russia for the Democratic Party’s Presidential election debacle, the Party stalwarts have finally realized that the American electorate is not listening.

Democratic Party investigators in Washington still hold hearings and the mass media are still scandal mongering, but the public is not rallying to their cause.

Trump’s demagogy may have lost its appeal, while the Republican Administration purges and internecine squabbles have been met with a huge collective yawn by the public. The Democratic Party proves itself to be a weird sideshow for the vast majority of American voters… and for good reason.

Their perpetual (corrupt and senile) leaders are unwavering supporters of every indignity and economic hardship that the majority of worker families have suffered for the last three decades.

Democratic Party Senator Chuck ‘the Schmuck’ Schumer and Congresswomen Nancy ‘The Loser’ Pelosi have spent a collective sixty-five years in Congress. Their joint tenure marks a period of long decline in working class living standards and even worker life expectancy, while they have made possible the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% plutocrats.

The Democratic Party’s ‘Better Deal’ – But for Whom?

In July 2017, nearly a dozen of the top Democratic Party honchos and Congress people met to spin out a new electoral manifesto for American workers which they are marketing as ‘A Better Deal’.

They issued prophetic press releases claiming to have received (presumably from the Holy Mountain) ‘a new vision of the party’. They claimed ‘the vision’ was also the result of their humble ‘listening to the American people’. They confessed that ‘the American people deserve better’. But their sweetly harmonized collective ‘Mea Culpa’ omitted any mention of the four previous Democratic Party Presidential terms, under Bill ‘The Shill’ Clinton and Barak ‘The Con” Obama, which ushered in this deplorable state of affairs for the American working class.

The Democratic Party’s ‘new vision’ wallows in the muddy demagogic footsteps of ‘The Donald’ Trump: Their new ‘product’ is just ‘demagogy lite’.

Tossing electoral fodder to the multitude, they have trotted out three ‘new promises’: 1. cheaper drug prices, 2. the regulation of ‘monopolies’ and 3. more funds to retrain workers. Their new marketing campaign does not include even a tiny whisper about a single payer national health system (favored by the majority of the public and by tens of thousands of doctors and nurses). Their cheap shots on ‘drug prices’ does not mention how Obama and Clinton facilitated the Big Pharma’s pillage of the public for decades. They mention ‘monopolies’ but made no attack on Wall Street billionaires. Their ‘job re-training’ promises have no provision for any national public employment program. The ‘Better Dealers’ with their ‘New Vision’ have banished all mention of ‘trade unions’.

The minimalist program of these old hack Democrats, re-packaged as the ‘Better Deal’, will not attract American workers for several clear reasons:

Reason #1: The Democrats Have a Rotten Record

For the majority of the American electorate there is no reason to believe or trust the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate. The leading Senate Democrat is New York’s ‘Chuck, the Schmuck’ Schumer, best known for his three decade residence in the pockets of Wall Street, his open loyalty to the dictates of Tel Aviv and his cozy relationship with the Brighton Beach mafia.

Schumer promoted the ‘trillion-dollar tax-payer bailout’ of Wall Street while foreclosing on 2 million household mortgages. He consistently defended AIPAC officials caught spying for Israel and has led the Zionist attack against the UN whenever questions of Israel’s war crimes and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people arise. He led the Senatorial Pack of wolves into destroying Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. He has now turned his tribal ire against his ‘fellow’ American citizens, leading the Senate campaign to make criticism of Israel by boycotting Israeli products punishable by a fine of $1 million dollars and 20 years in Federal Prison. Huge numbers of law-abiding Americans who support the BDS movement for justice and international law will now be targeted with felony convictions and loss of their civil rights by the Israel Anti-Boycott Law (S720). That Senator Schumer would condemn thousands of his own compatriots to virtual life imprisonment for the ‘crime’ of exercising their First Amendment Right of Free Speech speaks volumes about his respect for the Constitution. This thug has brow-beaten scores of his fellow representatives in Washington to support this tyrannical legislation by threatening them with the career-ending accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ if they waver in their fealty to the war criminals in Israel.

Throughout his political career, Senator Schumer consistently supported Federal Reserve free marketer Alan Greenspan, whose wholesale deregulation of the banks and finance sector led directly to the financial crash of 2008.

Geographically closer to Senator Chuck than Tel Aviv are the factory towns, green hills and valleys of Upstate New York where his forgotten constituents have suffered from decades of de-industrialization, 30% de-population and a raging socio-economic crisis of which the opioid epidemic is only part. Meanwhile, the warmonger Schumer prefers to rant for war against North Korea demanding Trump impose trade sanctions on China. If Beijing finally decides to tell Netanyahu how ‘the Shumck’s’ sanction bombast would harm Israel’s lucrative trade with China, a gentle whisper from Tel Aviv would silence Schumer’s bluster.

Peering over his bifocals, ‘Commandante Schumer’ now claims to lead the “The People’s Resistance against Trump”. While his party activists vent against the ‘Trump and the deplorables’ over the internet, Chuck will be attending the Bar Mitzvahs of Brighten Beach mobsters at the Waldorf Astoria and soirees with his Wall Street billionaire backers, consulting over strategy with his real constituents. Under Schumer, New York City has become the most socially and economically polarized and unequal city in the US.

Most voters know that Schumer’s ‘reincarnation’ as a ‘resistance politico’ is laughable and that the Senator’s re-election rests comfortably with the multi-million dollar contributions from his brothers on Wall Street.

Across the nation, most working class voters have dismissed the antics of the Democratic Party’s ‘Maestro of Demagogy’, Bernie Sanders – who spoke pious piffle to the workers while running errands for the ‘Queen of Chaos’, Hilary Clinton, would-be President and life-long Wall Street warmonger.

The citizens rightly reject the Presidential and Senatorial demagogues, Trump and ‘The Schmuck’. According to a recent Bloomberg Poll, 58% of Americans disapprove of the Democrats, a few points lower than the Republicans level of disapproval. An ABC /Washington Post poll revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that the Democratic Party stands for something!

Nine months after the Clinton debacle, the Democrats remain at or below their dismal voter-approval. Trump has skillfully managed to sink a few points below the Democrats.

In other words, nearly 60% of the voters disapprove of leaders from both parties.

The ‘anti-Trump circus and road show’ increasingly takes place to an empty audience. Their “fight” for ‘transgender rights’ attracts the 1% while studiously ignoring the basic life supporting interests of the seventy million Americans (including both transgendered and straight) who work at lousy part-time contingent and minimum wage jobs and desperately need full-time employment at living wages.

In multiple national polls, one hundred and fifty million Americans have registered their support for a national, single payer health system to insure fairness and access to competent medical care. Instead the ‘newly visioned’ Democrats are merely offering cheaper opioids for their social pain. The people want billions of dollars in public investment for deteriorating schools and infrastructures, not bi-partisan (sic) expansion in military spending for seven ongoing wars and new wars in the making.

Warmongers are not Vote-getters

The high level of voter disapproval against the Democrats results from ultra-militarism, as well as their demands for provocative economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Palestine and China – exceeding Trump and his warmongers.

The voters know that the Democrats ‘new vision’ is a thinly veiled recipe for costly new wars and economic sanctions that will spill their children’s blood, cripple their families futures and reduce job opportunities everywhere for everyone.

New Candidates, Grass-roots Movements and the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party’s fiasco and their election losses, as well as the growing realization that the socio-economic demands of the American people are never going to be addressed by the ‘old-new visionaries’, have led to a new ‘crop’ of candidates for the 2018 elections.

Over 200 Democratic Party candidates have registered to run in 2018 elections, hoping that ‘new faces’ and a new style of demagogy will bring back the disenchanted voters. These much-ballyhooed ‘upstarts’ toss out empty promises to the victims of the dying economy, industrial towns in ruins, villages with social and health crises, big cities with skyrocketing rents and stagnant wages. They offer nothing that can bring workers back to a Democratic Party still tightly controlled by the Tel Aviv-Wall Street shilling, war-mongering Pelosis and Schumers.

The Democratic Party ‘insurgents’ try to imitate the ‘Bernie’ Sanders double-speak, attacking the billionaires while shilling for the oligarchs’ stable of loyal Democratic Party hacks. The ‘new vision’ Democrats have motes in both eyes and a long road to regaining the votes of the disillusioned ‘deplorables’!

Media-sponsored trips to Rust Belt States to bad-mouth ‘The Donald’ and his anti-health agenda provides no alternative to the decades of Democratic Party betrayal on health care, especially during the last Democrat Presidents whose policies facilitated the rise of Big Pharma’s prescription opioid epidemic which has killed over 500,000 overworked and underpaid workers since 1999. Their continued refusal to hold these policies and their authors to account does not reflect any vision of a viable solution to the crisis.

Conclusion

In place of the discredited bipartisan electoral system, numerous grass roots groups are emerging: Some are operating parallel to the flurry of new Demo-demagogues while many are working against it.

Many community-based groups have taken radical positions, which demand vast new job programs and public finance for a national, accountable, high quality health care system.

They demand prosecution and long prison sentences for Wall Street swindlers, money launderers, tax evaders and corporate drug pushers.

They demand a 90% tax rate ‘adjustment’ on the trillion dollar corporations- Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google etc.

The grass roots movements are more than just an ‘anti-Trump’ bandwagon (secretly driven by the old pols of the Democratic Party): They are against both parties and all demagogues. They are especially opposed to any phony ‘Better Deals’ coming out of the backsides of the billionaire-backed ‘shilling and dealing’ Democrats!

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Brazil’s Slave-Descended Quilombos Shaken by String of Murders

teleSUR – August 8, 2017

Brazilian authorities have revealed that six rural workers were mysteriously murdered in their homes in the lush rural state of Bahia in Brazil Sunday.

The crime, which was only announced Tuesday, is the latest in a wave of killings targeting residents in the disputed Iuna Quilombola Territory that lies in the city of Lencois. The murders bring to eight the number of those killed in disputed lands in Bahia within less than a month.

According to authorities, the victims lived in two neighboring homes — four in one house and two in the other — and were killed by men in an unidentified black vehicle. Each victim was shot four to six times. All were quilombolas — the descendants of Afro-Indigenous Brazilians who escaped from slavery to hinterland settlements known as Quilombos.

The victims have been identified as Adeilton Brito de Souza, Gildasio Bispo das Neves, Amauri Pereira Silva, Valdir Pereira Silva, Marcos Pereira Silva and Cosme Rosario da Conceicao

While state security forces are investigating possible links between the victims and drug traffickers, the crimes have shed light on an ongoing dispute between quilombolas and farmers who want the quilombolas expelled from the region.

In 2010, the Quilombola Territory of Iuna began the process of gaining legal recognition and titles to the land. The roughly 3,500-acre territory is home to 1,400 residents and is in the city of Lencois, a major eco-tourist destination and the starting point for treks into Chapada Diamantina National Park. The park spans a highland region of canyons and waterfalls known for its hiking trails, which were opened by miners searching for diamonds, gold and other precious minerals.

While in theory, Brazil’s 1988 Constitution assures quilombos titles to lands they historically are located on, very few quilombos actually enjoy legal recognition. According to recent data, 303 quilombo territories in Bahia state alone are seeking regularization, but only 34 are in an advanced state of regularization. The state still has no legally-recognized quilombola territories, while 19 territories have been identified as disputed land claimed by third parties.

On July 16, quilombola Lindomar Fernandes Martins was fatally shot six times on a road leading into Iuna. No one was arrested for the crime. The next day — also in Bahia — Jose Raimundo Mota de Souza, Jr., the president of the Association of Rural Workers in the Jiboia Quilombola Community, was shot dead while working in the fields with his brothers and family members.

The Association of Rural Workers’ Advocates and Catholic Church-linked Pastoral Land Commission, as well as the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform — the government agency charged with processing quilombo land claims — have issued messages of solidarity with the victims’ families and urged authorities to investigate and prosecute those involved in Sunday’s killings.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment