Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
While all eyes are focused on the presidential race, on the streets of Egypt, inch by inch, bit by bit, women's rights are shrinking. Women, Muslim and Christian, who do not cover their hair or who wear mid-sleeved clothing are met with insults, spitting and in some cases physical abuse. In the urban squatter settlement of Mouasset el Zakat, in Al Marg, Greater Cairo, women told me that they hated walking in the streets now. Thanks to the lax security situation, they have restricted their mobility to all but the most essential of errands. Whereas a couple of years ago they could just inform their husbands where they were going (visiting parents, friends or going to the hairdresser for example), now they have to get their husbands or older sons to accompany them if they go out after sunset.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Egyptian atheists joke at how the media collectively referred to them as Christian when they helped form human chains to protect Muslims praying in Tahrir Square. They call themselves the “non-percent” in reference to official state records that deny they even exist. Blasphemy laws and social stigmatization have discouraged many of Egypt’s non-believers from ‘coming out’; and have led one Gallup poll to declare Egypt the most religious country in the world ↑ .
This may be changing, however, with many activists in the region openly proclaiming their lack of faith. Ironically, the biggest threat to religion may result from the tempestuous rise of political Islam in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The Turkish President predicted as much during a recent visit to Tunisia ↑ , when he warned, “If a political party that comes out in the name of Islam fails, it will defame and humiliate the religion itself”.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Last week, Shell Petroleum in Nigeria raised an alarm over what it called an unprecedented scale of crude oil theft from illegal bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. They estimate the theft at 43,000 to 100,000 barrels a day. (Hold your shirt on; the story only goes downhill from here!) In their denouncements, Shell called for greater security for their pipelines & said such sabotage & theft were responsible for the environmental blight of farm lands & rivers in the area. He explained that Shell flyovers spotted unknown persons tapping pipelines & installing valves to waiting barges & trucks. Following the announcement (which brought tears to the eyes especially of those living on the Gulf of Mexico), headlines added to the cacophony of denouncements: Nigerian pirates, militant groups, & criminal gangs are killing their own economy, sabotaging their government, threatening the very foundations of Nigeria’s petroleum industry. In the barrage of condemnations, it was revealed that after 58 years of oil exploration in Nigeria, the government neither meters nor monitors the volume of oil production by Shell & other oil companies, has no functioning regulatory agencies, & doesn’t have a clue what is produced & loaded on to tankers. It is an open secret that after bribing corrupt government officials, the oil companies simply loot thousands of barrels. Nigeria is a major oil producer & 80% of government revenues come from oil exports. Instead of going after this massive corruption, the government announced this week it will go after corruption in the fuel subsidy program to keep petrol prices low, which Nigerians see as the only benefit of the oil economy. Actually, Nigeria imports most of its fuel ostensibly due to lack of refining facilities. (That’s got corruption written all over it too.) What most likely concerns the government is not official corruption but small time operators buying subsidized oil in Nigeria & smuggling it to Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, & Mali. All this, while 70% of Nigerians live on $2.00 a day & when, in January (at IMF insistence), the government reduced the fuel subsidy despite massive popular resistance. Shell has a long history of collaboration with the Nigerian government to use deadly force & repression against opposition to their presence in the Niger Delta, which is an environmental & human rights disaster (see the bottom photo). In a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, another collaboration is exposed: politicians & military officials, not militants or small time operators, are responsible for the majority of oil thefts. They’re the ones who can commandeer & control access to barges & tankers to help oil companies loot thousands of barrels a day. The diplomatic cable reads: "The military wants to remain in the Niger Delta because they profit enormously from money charged for escorting illegally bunkered crude & from money extorted in the name of providing security on the roads.” And yet the media goes after the small time operators like this man carrying a bucket of crude oil at an illegal refinery (illegal refineries yet no capacity for legal ones!?) rather than oil companies like Shell whose criminality is notorious & beyond dispute.
These children from Jammu and Kashmir, India, sing what has to be the sweetest rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep. It is one minute of delight:
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
During Sunday’s Jerusalem Day events, a Palestinian boy, perhaps 10 years old, was chased down an East Jerusalem street by a very angry officer of the Border Police. The boy tripped and fell, then picked himself up just as the Border Police officer reached him and tried to grab him. But a 22 year-old female Israeli activist prevented the boy’s arrest by throwing herself between the two, allowing the Palestinian boy to flee.........This year, an Orthodox Jewish man grabbed the Palestinian flag from the hands of a 10 year-old boy and refused to return it. The boy, enraged, tried to prise it out of the Jewish man’s hands. A Border Police officer, seeing the struggle between a 10 year-old Palestinian boy and a fully grown Jewish man, chased the Palestinian boy rather than ordering the Jewish man to return the flag. Someone made a montage of the incident and posted it on Facebook, with commentary. Note the expression of rage in the Border Police officer’s eyes, as seen in the second photo.
In the end the boy got away, due to the intervention of a 22 year-old Israeli activist from Jerusalem named Sahar Vardi, who threw herself in front of the Border Police officer just as he was about to grab the child. Photojournalist Haim Schwarczenberg caught the incident.
Broadcast from Chicago, site of the largest NATO summit in the organization’s six-decade history. On Sunday, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as members of Afghans for Peace, led a peace march of thousands of people. Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. We hear the soldiers’ voices as they return their medals one by one from the stage. "I’m here to return my Global War on Terror Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan," said Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe."
Monday, May 21, 2012
1. The myth of 1948.
2. The myth of the existential threat of 1967.
3. The myth of the Jewish democracy.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Reactions from Israel’s government, coalition and right-wing to the South African decision to ban labeling of products made in West Bank settlements as being made in Israel.
Video: As soldiers guard them, Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village, shooting one
Video taken by Palestinians and posted on YouTube by the Israeli group B’Tselem shows Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians with stones, live fire and setting fire to fields as Israeli occupation forces guard the settlers.
One Palestinian, Fathi al-Asayreh, 24, was shot in the head in the settler attack.
The settler assault occured on 19 May in the village of Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus in the occupied West Bank and the settlers came from Yitzhar, an Israeli colony built to the east of the village on land stolen from the villagers in 1983.
Yesterday, in the northern West Bank, outside the village of Aserra, a Jewish settler shot a Palestinian boy who was participating in a demonstration. Here is the picture of the assassin aiming his rifle and there is the picture of the boy after the bullet has hit its target.
Pictures like this enrage me when I think of the inane questions of liberal Zionists like Gershom Gorenberg: “Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi.” Gorenberg makes his living off asking numbskull questions like this when the answer is staring him in the face. The Palestinian Gandhi is pictured here soaking in his own blood. The question shouldn’t be where is the Palestinian Gandhi. The question should be what will Gorenberg and the liberal Zionists do to stop the murder of the Palestinian Gandhis. When will they stop blaming the Palestinians? When will they recognize that the blame lies solely with Israel and that the timidity of the liberal Zionists allows their countrymen to continue to live under the illusion that they’ve done enough for peace and that it’s the Palestinians who haven’t.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Gallup poll, conducted April 8-15, found that support for the Muslim Brotherhood had fallen from 43 percent in February, a month after the organization won nearly half the seats in Egypt’s Parliament, to 26 percent last month. Disappointment in the way Parliament performed probably drove that number. A separate question found that while 46 percent of Egyptians said in February that the new constitution should be written by the largest political bloc in Parliament, only 27 percent still felt that way in April.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/18/149359/gallup-survey-finds-support-in.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/18/149359/gallup-survey-finds-support-in.html#storylink=cpy
Minister of Trade and Industry says South Africa recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948.
The Palestinian Information Centre - 19 May 2012
GENEVA (PIC) — The Assistant UN Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Catherine Bragg, expressed her deep concern about the plight of the Palestinians under occupation, including those rendered homeless after demolition of their homes.
She called for ending the policies and the laws that deprive the Palestinians of their right to support themselves.
Bragg stated, in a press release after her three-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, «I am extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact of demolitions and displacement on Palestinian families”, and added: “Such actions cause great human suffering, run contrary to international law and must be brought to a halt.”
Haaretz - 19 May 2012
Denmark is planning to ban labeling products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “Made in Israel,” the foreign minister told Danish media on Saturday. The move follows reports of similar plans announced this month by South Africa’s government.
“This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of,” Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal Søvndal told Politiken newspaper. “It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not.
A source in Brussels familiar with the matter told Haaretz that it is still unclear whether the move is a recommendation or a new directive.
In late 2009, the U.K. government recommended West Bank products be labeled separately.
The bias against the old is so strong in modern society that it seems an anomaly to see so many on the front lines of rebellion & revolution around the world. But there you are! This is the face of protest in San’a, Yemen--female, aged, & no one to be messed with. Despite betrayals & con games galore, thousands continue to protest after more than a year to demand the prosecution of former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, for the incarceration, torture, & murder of thousands of democracy protestors. (Photo by Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)
(Photo by Santiago Ferrero is of immigrants intercepted aboard a makeshift boat on their way to Spain from Africa.)
A new specter is haunting not just Europe but the entire planet Earth: the mass movement and migration of millions of people on a scale unprecedented in human history as a result of war, political conflict, and economic predation. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental monitoring agency, estimated in 1992 that 100 million people were on the move; today their estimate is 200 million people moving under perilous conditions on well-traveled routes from the southern Americas to north Americas, from eastern Europe to western Europe, from Africa to Europe and the Middle East, from Asia to Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Many do not survive the dangerous trips, many are subject to violent crimes and disabling injuries along the way. Many are unaccompanied women and minors. All are escaping intolerable conditions and risking everything to find a better life for themselves and their families. (Continued in comment section)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
...an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians....
As President I will put the full weight of the United States behind the establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of human rights violations to one based on trust and bringing all parties together to seek solutions. Any stakeholder who enters into this process must pledge to work for a solution that respects the rights of all involved.
IMEMC - 16 May 2012
In Haifa District Court on Tuesday the judge ruled that whether a person is an Israeli citizen is determined by whether that person is of Jewish descent, i.e. born to a Jewish mother following halachic law, and not by their place of birth or whether they are by religion Jewish or not.
Haaretz reports that the Haifa District Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal submitted by Professor Uzzi Ornan who has sought to compel Israel’s Interior Ministry to recognize his citizenship based on the fact that he was born in Israel rather than on the grounds that he is Jewish. Prof Ornan claims no religious faith but was born in what is now Israel.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Daniel Fisch said that it is without doubt that the petitioner, Prof Uzzi Ornan, was born to a Jewish mother and is therefore Jewish, which the law of return states as the source of his citizenship.
The judge referred to previous rulings that “a Jew is anyone born to a Jewish mother or that has converted and is not of another religion.”
It is unclear what impact this will have on the Christian, Muslim and atheist citizens of Israel, which constitute around twenty percent of Israel’s population.
Colombia’s record of violence against organized labor is considered the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Since the 1980s, over 3,000 Colombian unionists have been assassinated & thousands of other activists tortured & disappeared. Several lawsuits have been filed against Chiquita, Occidental Petroleum, the coal mining company Drummond, & Coca-Cola because considerable evidence suggests their complicity in these crimes. Not deterred by corporate felonies & criminality, the US Congress signed the US-Colombia free trade agreement in 2006. This agreement negotiated by the two governments on behalf of multinational corporations would open Colombia to exports of US agricultural & manufactured goods &, as all such agreements, it would undercut unions & decimate labor rights (particularly for women & Afro-Colombians). The agreement was put on hold due to strong opposition from labor & human rights groups in the US & Colombia, including from the AFL-CIO. But instead of waging a campaign within the unions to defeat the agreement, the AFL-CIO stuck to collegial denunciations. (That way they can bankroll Obama’s reelection without too much interference from the ranks of labor.) Last October, Obama signed the trade agreement into law because of what he called historic progress for Colombian labor & human rights. What persuaded his sorry ass was Colombia’s creation of a new labor ministry, promises to prosecute crimes against working people & to crack down on the violence. The man’s not credulous; he’s dishonest & doesn’t give a damn about Colombian workers anymore than he does US workers. This photo is more proof of the political bankruptcy, empty promises, & criminality of the Colombian regime (not to mention, the US regime): riot cops in Bogota fire tear gas at students protesting the free trade agreement which went into effect yesterday. (Photo by William Fernando Martinez/AP)