Police in Baltimore are facing a new scandal for their use of surveillance planes from the Iraq war to secretly spy on residents.
The aerial snooping has been happening since January without authorities informing the public they are being monitored for as much as 10 hours a day, Bloomberg reports.
Police from both Baltimore city and county are already under fire for the shooting of 23-year-old mother Korryn Gaines earlier this month – and face blowback from a damning report detailing the use of excessive force and targeting of minors.
While a fictional version of Baltimore’s police force was featured in the HBO series “The Wire,” the real-life version has been criticized for its warrantless use of Sting Ray cell phone tapping equipment favored by the National Security Agency.
The Cessna spy plane is fully kitted out with cameras and bankrolled by “justice reform” advocates from Texas, Laura and her husband John Arnold, the former Enron trader who made billions in hedge funds.
MIT-trained, Air Force Academy-graduate Ross McNutt created the spy planes for use in the Iraq war. The founder of the USAF’s Center for Rapid Product Development, he was tasked with creating a system to catch those planting roadside IEDs in Iraq, and produced Angel Fire, a live-feed surveillance system that uses synchronized cameras attached to a plane.
The camera images are stabilized and stitched together using computers, then fed to the ground, producing a constantly updated photographic map of the area.
The Angel Fire technology was used in Iraq from 2007. McNutt then moved on to courting commercial and local government clients.
LA County Sheriff’s Department tested the system in 2012 with a nine-day trial over Compton. Citizens protested after they found out they had been surveilled a year later.
Baltimore was later chosen as the ideal place for surveillance “because it was ready, it was willing, and it was post-Freddy Gray,” McNutt said, referring to the African-American man who was killed while in police custody in 2015.
During the trial of Caesar Goodson, the only police officer brought up on charges for the death of 25-year-old Gray (and eventually acquitted), protesters gathered outside the courthouse had no idea that overhead, they were being watched by the same police force.
Cops, and their super-rich benefactors, are able to monitor an area by streaming real-time images to analysts down below. The footage is also stored on hard drives for easy access later.
Crimes are logged each day and any that may be solved with the help of Persistent Surveillance are highlighted, although it’s not known if police brutality is being tracked.
The equipment can be used to follow the route of criminals fleeing a crime scene, but can also be used for unwarranted surveillance.
McNutt approached the ACLU to counter accusations of invading privacy. While the ACLU appreciated his candor, they were alarmed at the “Big Brother” implications of such a system.
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone…
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.
—Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall”
The nation’s young people have been given front-row seats for an unfolding police drama that is rated R for profanity, violence and adult content.
In Arizona, a 7-year-old girl watched panic-stricken as a state trooper pointed his gun at her and her father during a traffic stop and reportedly threatened to shoot her father in the back (twice) based on the mistaken belief that they were driving a stolen rental car.
In Oklahoma, a 5-year-old boy watched as a police officer used a high-powered rifle to shoot his dog Opie multiple times in his family’s backyard while other children were also present. The police officer was mistakenly attempting to deliver a warrant on a 10-year-old case for someone who hadn’t lived at that address in a decade.
In Maryland, a 5-year-old boy was shot when police exchanged gunfire with the child’s mother—eventually killing her—over a dispute that began when Korryn Gaines refused to accept a traffic ticket for driving without a license plate on her car.
It’s difficult enough raising a child in a world ravaged by war, disease, poverty and hate, but when you add the police state into the mix, it becomes near impossible to guard against the growing unease that some of the monsters of our age come dressed in government uniforms.
The lesson being taught to our youngest—and most impressionable—citizens is this: in the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (politician, police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.).
Unfortunately, now that school is back in session, life is that much worse for the children of the American police state.
The nation’s public schools—extensions of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, a world that is increasingly hostile to freedom—have become microcosms of the American police state, containing almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”
If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools with his individuality and freedoms intact, you should count yourself fortunate.
Most students are not so lucky.
From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of
- draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior,
- overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech,
- school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students,
- standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking,
- politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them,
- and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.
Clearly, instead of making the schools safer, we have managed to make them more authoritarian.
Young people in America are now first in line to be searched, surveilled, spied on, threatened, tied up, locked down, treated like criminals for non-criminal behavior, tasered and in some cases shot.
It used to be that if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school.
That is no longer the case.
Nowadays, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but the punishments have become far more severe, shifting from detention and visits to the principal’s office into misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.
Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in hot water.
Consider that by the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested.
Moreover, just as militarized police who look, think and act like soldiers on a battlefield have made our communities less safe, the growing presence of police in the nation’s schools is resulting in environments in which it’s no longer safe for children to act like children.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force.
Now advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry will tell you that school safety should be our first priority.
What they might fail to mention in their zeal to lock down the schools are the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors to equip school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.
Indeed, the militarization of the police has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.
What we’re grappling with is not merely a public school system that resembles a prison and is treating young people like prisoners but also a profit-driven system of incarceration has given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people.
It has been said that America’s schools are the training ground for future generations.
Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters, however, we seem to be busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it’s getting harder by the day to convince young people that we live in a nation that values freedom and which is governed by the rule of law.
With every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans—especially young people—have no rights at all against the state or the police.
The bottom line is this: if you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.
If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.
But if you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums. Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woman on Nice beach being forced to remove her burkini by armed police, Aug. 23, 2016. | Photo: AFP
Armed French police ordered a Muslim woman to remove her burkini swimsuit on a Nice beach Tuesday, adding further controversy to a ban on the garment amid growing Islamophobia in France.
Photographs show the woman removing her burkini—a full-body swim piece, while four armed police surround her on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The woman was issued a ticket by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to AFP.
“I was sitting on a beach with my family … I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Siam.
“Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we’ll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?” Siam asked.
Mathilde Cousin, witnessed the incident and told the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
Nice is the latest of 15 towns to ban the burkini. The mayor of nearby Villeneuve-Loubet said that the ban was important to “protect the population.”
Last week three Muslim women were fined $US43 for wearing burkinis in Cannes. On Tuesday, a mother of two reported she had been fined on the Cannes beach for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the ban, saying that “Beaches, like all public areas, must be protected from religious claims. The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”
The niqab and burqa veils were banned by France in 2010. Critics say the burkini ban is steeped in Islamophobia and secular extremism. Some advocacy groups have filed legal action against the ban that “pits citizens against one another,” said Marwan Muhammad from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
The burkini was originally designed in 2004 by Australian-Lebanese fashion designer, Aheda Zanetti, who also created the “hijood,” a head covering that can be used by Muslim women to play sports.
“This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away? So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? They are as bad as each other,” Zanetti said to the Guardian.
Since the crackdown on burkinis, its sales have seen a dramatic increase of 200 percent, with many non-Muslims buying the swimsuit to protest its ban.
Abu Zubaydah © wikipedia.org
A Guantanamo detainee, who the CIA tortured as a suspected top leader of Al-Qaeda but never officially charged, has made his case for release. Abu Zubaydah appeared in public for the first time in 14 years of his detention.
His first-ever hearing was made via video feed from Washington’s Cuba-based prison and on his behalf. Addressing a Periodic Review Board through a uniformed soldier who read his message, Zubaydah said that he “has no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country.”
“He has been respectful to us in all of our meetings and dealings with him, and he has come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantanamo through this process,” his opening statement reads.
He said he would want “to be reunited with his family” while also “begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture” in Pakistan in 2002.
“He has some seed money that could be used to start a business after he is reintegrated into society and is living a peaceful life,” his representative read.
A Saudi-born Palestinian, Zubaydah is one of three men that the CIA has admitted to have waterboarded at an unknown prison in Thailand.
According to the so-called “torture report” released in 2014, Zubaydah was the first prisoner to endure the harsh CIA interrogation program.
After Zubaydah was turned over to US custody, he was subjected to 83 waterboarding sessions, the torture technique that creates the sensation of drowning. He was also placed in a coffin-sized box for a total of 266 hours (11 days, two hours) over a 20-day period. Additionally, he was forced to remain in another small confinement box (21 inches wide, 2.5 feet in length) for 29 hours.
After being brutally interrogated, Zubaydah was transported to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he remains today.
Two former CIA psychologists, and creators of the CIA torture program, admitted that Zubaydah was also stripped naked, confined and that his cell was lit by halogen lamps 24 hours a day for a period of time.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Washington [alleges to have] falsely believed that Zubaydah was a key Al-Qaeda leader in the lead-up to the attacks. Since then, his status in US documents reportedly changed to a “well-known al-Qaeda facilitator.”
According to his profile, he also “possibly” knew about bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in 2000.
However, despite 14 years passing since his brutal capture, Zubaydah has not been officially charged.
It us up to the Periodic Review Board to decide whether a prisoner would pose a danger if released. The decision on his transfer is expected in about 30 days.
Until this Tuesday’s hearing, Zubaydah has not made a single public appearance and has only been seen by his lawyer.
The open statement in a Pentagon room lasted reportedly for less than 20 minutes and was followed by a classified part of it. Zubaydah decided he did not want a transcript of his secret hearing being publicly released.
Hearings at the Periodic Review Board have been held more often recently as the Obama administration is trying to stand by the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo by the end of this presidential term. Unable to shut down President George W. Bush’s facility due to opposition from Congress and the military, Obama has been pushing to transfer out detainees cleared for release.
Last week saw the largest single release of 15 prisoners, all of whom were sent to the United Arab Emirates.
There are currently 61 captives remaining in the Guantanamo Bay.
Until as recently as last year, Peru’s national police force harbored a “death squad” that is responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least 20 people over a four-year period – even at times offering sworn officers bounties to kill criminal suspects, according to an official government investigation of systemic police misconduct.
In an executive summary that reads like the script of a Dirty Harry movie, the Interior Ministry’s report found “serious indications” that both high-ranking and low-level officers of the national police force “falsified intelligence information” to misrepresent at least six cases involving some 20 slayings as the justified result of confrontations with armed suspects, when in fact they were summary executions carried out by police, according to a summary of the report Monday by Vice Minister of Internal Order Ruben Vargas.
The report did not disclose the identities of the officers suspected of participating in the death squad, but Vargas did reveal that the operation was headed by a police colonel who was subsequently promoted to general.
Local media revealed the scandal over three weeks ago after department whistleblowers brought the allegations to light, prompting an investigation. The new report will now be handed over to prosecutors specialized in organized crime to open a case.
Minister of Interior Carlos Basombrio, newly-appointed under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and inaugurated at the end of July, claimed that the evidence suggests that a group of high-ranking police officials who moved between divisions are responsible for running the death squad, and that no single police force unit itself is compromised.
Authorities also revealed that several of the officers involved in the scandal were decorated for their so-called “distinguished” achievements within the force last year. A months-long internal police investigation already found that at least two officers were promoted during the period in which they are suspected of participating in the death squad. The Investigator General intervened in the internal probe and took over the investigation over three weeks ago.
Local media report that the death squad, allegedly made up of nearly 100 officers across four units of the national police force, is suspected of carrying out the murders of 27 Peruvian civilians between 2011 and 2015 in the cities of LIma, Ica, and Chiclayo.
Media previously suggested that the 27 victims were common criminals, but the new report found that 11 victims “didn’t even have a criminal record or a warrant to justify them being identified as targets of police interventions,” according to the Interior Ministry.
The confirmation of the extrajudicial killings by the police recalls a dark history of death squads run by state security forces in the South American country that were aimed at wiping out armed left-wing guerrilla movements particularly under the reign of jailed former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
A group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls said on Monday that Western powers were breaking international law by selling vast amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used to hit civilians in Yemen.
The Control Arms Coalition said Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.
“It is extremely concerning that many transfers are still continuing, in particular the governments of the United States, the UK and France have authorized and are continuing to export very large quantities of weapons, including explosive weapons, bombs which are being used daily against civilians in Yemen,” said Anna MacDonald, director of the Control Arms Coalition.
She was speaking to a news briefing as week-long U.N. negotiations began in Geneva aimed at putting teeth into the ATT which lacks a mandatory public reporting system for the $100 billion global arms trade.
France authorized arms licenses worth $18 billion to Saudi Arabia last year, followed by the United States at $5.9 billion and Britain’s $4 billion, the group said in its latest study.
Nigeria’s ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, who chairs the conference, said: “The allegation is quite grave and it should be of concern to everyone including the ATT secretariat itself.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last week it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit one of its hospitals, killing 18 people.
Outcry over civilian casualties has led some members of the US Congress to push for restrictions on arms transfers. The Obama administration this month approved a potential $1.15 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia.
Last week, US Senator Chris Murphy slammed his country’s administration over bombing civilians in Yemen, saying “there is an American Imprint on Every Civilian Life Lost in Yemen.”
In a statement on Friday, the Pentagon cautioned that its support for Saudi Arabia in its campaign was not “a blank check,” however, and said it has pressed the coalition on the “need to minimize civilian casualties.”
Campaigners said arms exports also drove fighting in South Sudan last month that killed hundreds, prompting fears of a return to civil war.
“We think that governments of other countries have fueled this violence by repeatedly authorizing arms transfers to South Sudan,” said Geoffrey Duke, head of South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. He named China, Ukraine and South Africa as the main suppliers to the Juba government.
To date, 87 countries have ratified the ATT, while another 46 – including the United States – have signed it, leaving important gaps, Imohe said.
“For example, in the Arab world only Mauritania is listed amongst states parties, while Asia Pacific has only three states parties,” he said, referring to Japan, Samoa and Tuvalu.
Samidoun international coordinator denied entry to Palestine, interrogated about BDS and prisoner solidarity
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network international coordinator Charlotte Kates was denied entry to Palestine at the King Hussein Bridge crossing from Jordan to occupied Palestine on Monday, 15 August, as she attempted to join a delegation of European parliamentarians and lawyers in support of Bilal Kayed and the Palestinian prisoners. Kayed, 34, has been on hunger strike for 69 days against his administrative detention without charge or trial; nearly 100 fellow prisoners have joined his strike against his imprisonment, imposed upon him immediately following his completion of a 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons.
When Kates presented her U.S. passport at the passport control line, it was taken from her and she was told to wait for further questioning. Along with multiple other travelers to Palestine and, especially, Palestinians holding international passports as well as those holding PA passports, she waited for hours at the bridge for a period interspersed with interrogations about her purpose in the country and participation in Palestine prisoner solidarity and BDS activism.
“I was asked about the websites I maintain, asked to allow the interrogator to access my email conversation with others, and asked to write up lists of names of people I know in Lebanon and in Palestine and lists of organizations with which I work. The interrogator attempted to look through my phone to find my contacts and to seek out WhatsApp chats and repeatedly demanded that I log in to my email or social media accounts and allow her access. As my phone was completely clear of any contact information and I refused to access any accounts or provide lists of names, this became a ‘reason’ to deny me entry. However, other travelers at the bridge were also subject to these searches and questioned about their personal photos and WhatsApp chats. In particular, people were questioned about wearing hijab in photos or being in contact with visibly Arab or Muslim friends,” said Kates.
“I was interrogated about my involvement with Samidoun and organizing around Palestinian political prisoners, and whether my visit to Palestine had anything to do with Bilal Kayed in particular, clearly a matter of concern to the Israeli interrogator,” said Kates. “Furthermore, in light of the recent announcements regarding ‘crackdowns’ on BDS activists entering Palestine, I was specifically interrogated regarding speeches and lectures I have given regarding boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, support for the BDS call and involvement with Israeli Apartheid Week.”
“This was not about personally targeting me; it was an attempt to target the growing international solidarity movement to support Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle, and an attempt to further isolate Palestinian prisoners from the people of the world,” Kates said. “Furthermore, my experience of prolonged interrogation and being held for hours at the bridge pales next to the experience of Palestinians being denied their basic right to enter their own homeland – part and parcel of the denial of the fundamental right of return – and subject to harsh interrogation, being deported for carrying international passports, and being subjected to cruel and degrading treatment at the border.”
“During just my own time at the bridge, I encountered numerous Palestinians facing enormous delays and aggressive interrogation, Palestinians denied entry to their own homeland, and Palestinians presented with ‘limited-access’ entry permits prohibiting them from visiting Jerusalem. I encountered a family from Gaza who had one of the rare permits to exit via Erez/Beit Hanoun and then the bridge to Jordan to see family members. As they had studied in the US and UK, they were questioned by border guards as to why they wished to return to Gaza at all, rather than staying in another country. Border control and interrogation is part and parcel of the system of Israeli colonization and dispossession separating Palestinians from their land and seeking to force even more Palestinians outside their homeland. It is part of the same system that denies millions of Palestinians their right to return and attempts to continue the Nakba on an ongoing basis,” said Kates.
“At the same time, I also witnessed numerous holders of international passports singled out for their names, visibly Muslim or Arab appearance, or travels to Arab countries, and subject to degrading and offensive interrogations regarding their religion and personal relationships,” Kates noted. … Full article
The imam of Florence has posted a picture of habit-wearing nuns splashing along the seashore on Facebook, calling for dialogue about burqini bans… but got his account blocked instead.
The post by Izzedin Elzir got some 2,700 shares, and came in response to the French southern cities – like Cannes and Nice – prohibiting the wearing of burqinis on the beach.
The day after the imam published his post, he awoke to find his account blocked.
“It’s incomprehensible. I have to send them an ID document to reactivate it. They wanted to make sure it’s my account – it’s a very strange procedure,” the indignant imam told La Repubblica.
On Friday, his account was back in, and the imam said he hopes it wasn’t blocked because of the picture, as it urges dialogue, and “we live in a society of law and freedom.”
He also noted that the burqini had only come into fashion among Muslim women over the past few years, and he expressed regret that “some politicians in France, instead of responding to the political and economic needs of their citizens, are focusing on how Muslims dress.”
Many online commenters tended to agree with the imam, saying that “The sea is for everyone,” and describing the ban as “a psychological tool against Muslims.”
However, others disagreed, “Don’t confuse the two different situations: these are women who have CHOSEN to religious life with the rules that it imposes, the ‘others’ are FORCED to dress even on the beach,” a comment read.
It’s not the first burqini-linked scandal this week. On Thursday, Austrian politician Ahmet Demir caused uproar after publishing a photo of two nuns and joking that they were “oppressed women” in burqas. Later, he took the post down and apologized, but defended his post saying that he was attempting to convey the message that “every woman should be able to wear what they want as long as they chose the clothes themselves.”
On Tuesday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Corriere Della Serra that Italy wouldn’t follow France’s suit and ban the burqini, but will step up regulations of imams and mosques.
Two days later, Italian authorities expelled the Tunisian imam Khairredine Romdhane Ben Chedli. The 35-year-old imam was lately absolved of terrorism-related charges, but still deemed unfit to remain in his post, the ANSA news agency said.
Palestinian women prisoners are declaring their intention to launch a series of protests over mistreatment of their relatives during family visits, Ma’an News reported on Thursday. In particular, Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies noted that family visits are frequently denied, cut short or delayed and visitors forced to undergo strip searches.
Lena Jarbouni, the elected representative of the 42 women held in HaSharon prison, stated that the women will protest so long as their families continue to experience lengthy waits in the sun, humiliating strip searches, repeatedly altered visitation schedules and prohibition of clothing for the prisoners and other necessary items. Several women prisoners, including Ansam Shawahneh, 19, have been completely denied family visits. There are currently approximately 60 Palestinian women held in HaSharon and Damon prisons.
On Thursday, Ofer Military Court ordered Taghreed al-Faqih, 44, from Dura near al-Khalil, imprisoned for two months and fined 5000 NIS (approximately $1100 USD) for “incitement.” Al-Faqih, the sister of Mohammed al-Faqih, extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces who bulldozed and fired a missile into his home, was arrested after her brother’s killing on 12 July 2016.
On Monday, 15 August, Randa Ahati of al-Khalil was released on bail to house imprisonment in her home in Yatta until her next court date. A former prisoner held for nearly four years in Israeli prison, she was arrested by occupation forces while traveling between Bethlehem and al-Khalil.
Sana Abdelrahman Nayef Abu Sneineh, 24, from Dura near al-Khalil, was released on 15 August after six months in administrative detention. She was arrested on 17 February by Israeli occupation soldiers invading her home in a pre-dawn raid, accusing her of posting “inciting” material on Facebook. She was ordered to three months’ administrative detention without charge or trial, which was then renewed for an additional three months.
Two women remain in administrative detention without charge or trial, among nearly 750 Palestinians in total: Sabah Feroun, imprisoned since 19 June after an invasion of her Jerusalem home by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to six months in administrative detention, and Haneen Abdelqader Amer, 39, from Tulkarem, imprisoned since 27 March and accused of “incitement” on social media but ordered imprisoned without charge or trial.
A human rights body has found that Mexican police killed nearly two dozen civilians in “arbitrary executions” during a raid against a drug cartel in the country’s troubled west last year.
The independent National Human Rights Commission said in a report on Thursday that the massacre happened in the federal police raid against the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel in the western state of Michoacan on May 22, 2015.
Police officers committed “violations of the right to life by excessive use of force that entailed the arbitrary execution of 22 civilians,” the commission said.
Meanwhile, commission chief Ismael Eslava said the government forces also perpetrated “aggravated acts of torture on two people who were detained.”
According to the commission report, forensic investigations indicated police had moved the bodies of those killed in the raid and placed guns next to them in an attempt to cover up the crime.
It also noted that a police helicopter fired 4,000 rounds into the farm where the suspects were hiding.
Responding to the document, Renato Sales, the chairman of Mexico’s National Security Committee, rejected the characterization of arbitrary executions and defended the actions of police.
He said the shooting erupted when the suspects refused to drop their weapons. “We do not think the theory of arbitrary executions stands up.”
The government said previously that the helicopter had fired to contain the suspects. It also said that the 42 people killed by police had attacked officers.
The commission report concluded that a total of 43 people were killed in the security operation, including one policeman and numerous suspected criminals, but only 22 of them were deemed arbitrary executions by police.
The commission also found fault with the actions of investigators from the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office, who mishandled ballistics evidence. Medical examiners likewise came under criticism for irregularities in the autopsies and delays in the return of bodies to their families.
The incident is considered as one of the bloodiest battles in the Mexican government’s decade-long campaign against powerful drug gangs across the Latin American state.
Official figures show that more than 35,000 people are currently missing in the country due to drug-related violence, which has also claimed thousands of lives over the past few years.
Police corruption, drug cartels and organized crime are the greatest challenges facing Mexico.
A gay black man was brutally attacked by five men in 2013 and has spent the last three years fighting for justice. Unfortunately, he may never see it. Two of five Hasidic neighborhood patrolmen have been sentenced, but will spend no time in jail.
On Tuesday, two men charged with gang assault, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, walked away with a sentence of community service and three-year probation for an attack that left 24-year-old Taj Patterson blind in his left eye.
Pinchas Braver, 22, and Abraham Winkler, 42, were two of five men that assaulted Patterson.
Whether Patterson was attacked for being gay or black or a combination, he’ll never know.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons,” Patterson told the Gothamist.
Patterson was walking through South Williamsburg when he was stopped by five members of the neighborhood patrol group known as the Shomrim. Patterson told the New York Daily News it was about 4:00am when the men knocked him down, shouting, “Stay down, f****t!”
Multiple people claim to have seen the attack.
Evelyn Keys, an MTA bus driver, intervened when she saw what was happening. She described the jackets the men were wearing to the Daily News in May, saying, “I know the first letter is an ‘S.’ Under those three letters there was a word that started with an ‘S.’”
“That wasn’t a misdemeanor,” she said.
Mariano Ortiz, 33, told the Daily Mail that his attempt to photograph the attackers’ license plates nearly ended with him being mowed down.
“One of [them] tried to hit me,” Ortiz said.
Despite the witnesses, the case faced a number of hurdles before even being investigated. Patterson attempted to report the attack to the police, but was dismayed to discover that it had been closed a day later. The report said that Patterson was attacked by only one man and claimed that Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent.”
Patterson believes that racial issues factored into their decision, telling the Daily Mail, “I think they saw this black kid . . . and they might have seen the Jewish guys and thought he must have done something wrong because the Jewish guys wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It took his mother, Zahra, to contact media sources for the attack to be investigated.
Sport is often regarded as a “no go” area for politics, especially by those states intent on portraying an air of normality around their regimes on the world stage. The best opportunities for this sort of charade are presented at international sporting and cultural events. Bizarrely, in Israel’s case this means European sporting platforms even though the Zionist State is not part of Europe; it is squatting in the Middle East, shoehorned into parts of historic Palestine between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
As the international community becomes more aware of the injustices meted out on the Palestinian people by Israel, protests have increased, despite the best attempts of the state and its supporters to silence dissenting voices. Efforts to stifle free speech and the right to protest in the democratic world does not go down very well.
Hence, when the fans of Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic Football Club were instructed not to fly Palestinian flags during a match between their team and Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva the outcome was fairly predictable; thousands of flags were waved by the crowd in defiance of the UEFA diktat. Now Celtic FC faces a penalty from the European governing body of the sport after the mass flag-waving during a Champions League playoff match; Celtic won 5-2, by the way.
If UEFA goes ahead and fines the Scottish club it will expose double-standards at play in the sporting world. The organisation’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee fined Celtic two years ago when fans also waved Palestinian flags during a match. The committee took action based on Article 16 (2) (e) of its regulations, which forbids political, ideological and religious messages at sports events.
However, the same disciplinary committee regularly turns a blind eye to the racism and violence meted out by some of Israel’s fans at home and away. Palestinian or Muslim footballers playing in matches against Beitar Jerusalem have been met with chants of “Death to Arabs” from the stands; as far as I’m aware, UEFA has failed to take any action against the club and its fans.
Furthermore, thugs in the crowd at Beitar — encouraged by the silence of the Israel Football Association to sanction the club for its fans’ behaviour — continue with their abuse. As a result, Beitar remains a sanctuary for racism in Israel. Its fans wave banners proclaiming “Beitar forever pure”, which is their way of pointing out that it does not sign any Arab players even though 20 per cent of Israeli citizens are Palestinian Arabs.
Assaults against Palestinians on match days, including women and children, are regular occurrences, but neither the Israel FA nor UEFA appear to be willing to end such racism. Attempts by Israel to stop Palestinian football fixtures have been well documented in Middle East Monitor, with interference regularly crossing the jurisdiction between UEFA and football’s world ruling body, FIFA.
The Israel FA not only remains silent when attacks against Palestinian sports are committed routinely, but it is also complicit with the occupation, having accepted five teams from illegal Israeli settlements. All of this is not lost on ordinary football and sporting fans around the world who refuse to be silent about such injustice. Many believe that sporting events should be used as platforms to promote peace and not to whitewash the occupation of Palestinian lands or the brutal actions of an apartheid state.
It is not Celtic FC which should be punished, but the State of Israel; it should be excluded not just from football competitions but also from major tournaments like the Olympic Games. Six members of the Palestinian team, including the 55-year-old dressage rider and German businessman Christian Zimmerman, had their official uniforms and equipment impounded by Israeli customs.
Before the games began in Rio, Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Olympic Committee, told the media that the team’s gear had not cleared customs. “We got one shipment several months ago and we have not been able to bring it in,” he explained. “We were forced to travel without our equipment and to buy it in Brazil instead.”
In a further act of interference in the Palestinian Olympic team, Issam Qishta, the head of the Palestinian delegation, was banned by the Israeli authorities from leaving the Gaza Strip to join the Rio-bound group. The more that Tel Aviv meddles in the sporting affairs of Palestine, the more that genuine fans of sport around the world will rise up and protest.
The only common goal achieved by the Zionist State is that young Palestine athletes and their supporters resent their occupiers and are reminded constantly — on a daily basis — of the injustices of the Israeli occupation. Instead of thinking about fining courageous Celtic fans thousands of miles away in Scotland, UEFA should pressure Israel by threatening to expel it from European football.
The democratic world should also add pressure on Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement until Palestinian athletes are free to train, play and compete at the highest levels of international sport without being impeded or having their training or equipment stopped by Israeli oppression. The amazing show of support for Palestinians this week was organised via a Facebook group called “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice”. Organisers called on Celtic fans to support the BDS movement and oppose what they called “Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism and countless massacres” of the Palestinian people.
“When someone represents Israeli institutions it is sadly never merely a game,” they said. “Football, UEFA, and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached.”
During its Apartheid years, South Africa, where most sports were segregated based on race, found itself barred from the Olympics, suspended from world football and excluded from cricket tours. International rugby teams also came under strong pressure to stay away.
Until similar sporting boycotts are imposed on Israel it seems that the Zionist State will continue to persecute and target Palestinian athletes. If Palestinians cannot play sport freely, then the world’s governing bodies will be seen as legitimising Israel’s continued occupation, oppression and apartheid policies. The fans of Celtic FC may be ordinary men and women, but they are extraordinary human beings for standing up for justice.