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Journal Archives

Police shooting of Arab Israeli youth could ignite Israel

November 10, 2014

Here is a short but fascinating lesson in Israeli-style democracy, equality and co-existence. Footage from a CCTV security camera documents the incident in the Arab Galilee village of Kafr Kana on Nov. 7, in which Israeli policemen killed a young Arab man. Now, imagine that the incident had taken place in the settlement of Yitzhar. Imagine that the 22-year-old man who banged on the windows of the police cruiser and then started backing away was not named Khair Hamdan, but rather Nir Hemed; that he was one of those known as “hilltop youth” who do not recognize government authority and who regularly harass the security forces. How would Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reacted to Nir being shot to death in the back by the police? Would Netanyahu have pledged to examine the option of revoking the citizenship of members of the fanatic Jewish sect, as he did with the Palestinians who were involved in rioting? Would Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett have praised the policemen who killed Nir and rushed to their defense, before the Justice Ministry's police investigations unit had even decided whether shooting the young man in the back was justified or not?

The reactions of Arab members of the Knesset were, of course, completely different. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi claimed that Hamdan’s killing was typical of police attitudes toward the Arab public as “enemies which must be destroyed.” Tibi was not being original. An inquiry commission appointed by the government exactly 14 years before the fatal incident in Kafr Kana determined that “the police must imbue its policemen with the understanding that the Arab public at large is not their enemy, and it must not be treated as an enemy.”

The commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Theodore Or, investigated the events of October 2000, in which 13 Arab Israelis were killed by live police fire. In 2003, its members recommended “imbuing all police echelons with the importance of balanced and moderate conduct in relations with the Arab sector.”

The footage of the incident in Kafr Kana, and its severe result, do not point to “balanced and moderate conduct” by police in their relations with Arabs. According to a publication issued last month by the Mossawa Center for the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens, Hamdan is the 49th Arab-Israeli shot since the October 2000 riots by police, soldiers or Jewish citizens. Only two incidents ended with policemen being convicted and sentenced to very short jail terms — one receiving six months, the other 30 months. This was preceded by the decision of then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to dismiss complaints against all the policemen suspected in the killing of the 13 Arabs in the protests of 2000. The Israel Democracy Institute, which examined the evidence in three central cases, determined that the decision not to pursue them further “for lack of proof” was not justified and the Justice Ministry's police investigation unit and the state prosecutor’s office failed to see the investigation through to its end.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/11/israel-police-shot-kafr-kana-israeli-arab-or-commission.html#ixzz3Iim3aVpX

Modernizing and Energy Efficiency Could Drastically Reduce CO2 Emissions

It is absolutely possible to reduce CO2 emissions by making energy plants more effiient in places like China, US and Europe says Professor Giovanni Baiocchi of University of Maryland


Dr. Giovanni Baiocchi is an applied environmental economist. Giovanni's main research looks at the global and local impact of economic activity, including trade, urbanization, and lifestyles. He has published a wide range of interdisciplinary research in international multidisciplinary journals such as Environmental Science & Technology, Ecological Economics, Journal of Industrial Ecology, Nature Climate Change, and Computational Economics. Giovanni is a lead author for the IPCC 5th Assessment for Working Group III, focusing on the drivers, trends, and mitigation of climate change. He was also selected as a qualified independent expert for environmental themes by the European Commission.

Transcript: snip* PERIES: So, before we left the first segment, we were having a conversation about the largest emitters around the world, China and the United States and some of the European countries, all of whom have--from what I understand, China has made a commitment to reduce its emissions by 45 percent by 2030; we have the United States talking about reducing its emissions by 35 percent; and we have the European Union, who's also said that they would reduce its CO2 emissions by 35 percent by 2030.

Now, the question on my mind is: is this actually possible, given the current economic organization and structure?

BAIOCCHI: Yes, that's definitely an important question. And I would say that for some countries, like China, because they start from having power plants that are very inefficient--basically, coal-based, some old technology--for them, this kind of commitment, it's possible, it's more possible than for other countries. So by adopting new technology, cleaner technology, they can make major efficiency savings. Also, emphasis on renewables and wind and solar energy--I know that they are investing a lot into these technology. So I would say that it is possible for some countries. Other countries that already have efficient technologies, some European countries, for example, for them it will be much harder to meet this kind of commitments.

PERIES: So in terms of corporations cooperating with this initiative, those who are in the renewable innovative sector of the economy looking at energy sources would actually jump on this opportunity, because that means that they're able to sell more efficient energy infrastructure in order to reduce emissions. Why would they be against it, as there is a huge lobby in the United States trying to curtail policy towards a better environment?

BAIOCCHI: The story is the usual one. There are pre-existing interests, and it's very hard to move things in the right direction. There's a lot of investment, what we call lock-ins into fossil fuel, technology-based. And this makes us dependent on that industry. The industry depends on us continuing our behavior, and changes are difficult.


The West is silent as Libya falls into the abyss

World View: In 2011, there was jubilation at Gaddafi's demise. Not any more: the aftermath of foreign intervention is calamitous and bloody

Sunday 2 November 2014

Remember the time when Libya was being held up by the American, British, French and Qatari governments as a striking example of benign and successful foreign intervention? It is worth looking again at film of David Cameron grandstanding as liberator in Benghazi in September 2011 as he applauds the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and tells the crowd that "your city was an example to the world as you threw off a dictator and chose freedom".

Mr Cameron has not been back to Benghazi, nor is he likely to do so as warring militias reduce Libya to primal anarchy in which nobody is safe. The majority of Libyans are demonstrably worse off today than they were under Gaddafi, notwithstanding his personality cult and authoritarian rule. The slaughter is getting worse by the month and is engulfing the entire country.

"Your friends in Britain and France will stand with you as you build your democracy," pledged Mr Cameron to the people of Benghazi. Three years later, they are words he evidently wants to forget, since there was almost no reference to Libya, the one military intervention he had previously ordered, when he spoke in the House of Commons justifying British airstrikes against Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq.

The foreign media has largely ceased to cover Libya because it rightly believes it is too dangerous for journalists to go there. Yet I remember a moment in the early summer of 2011 in the frontline south of Benghazi when there were more reporters and camera crews present than there were rebel militiamen. Cameramen used to ask fellow foreign journalists to move aside when they were filming so that this did not become too apparent. In reality, Gaddafi's overthrow was very much Nato's doing, with Libyan militiamen mopping up.


The Invisible Walls of Occupation: Burqah, Ramallah District, A case study

October 28, 2014

We think a thousand times before we build, go on vacation, study, work, trade, or grow crops. It’s not because of laziness, or inability. It’s because of concerns about the obstacles, about harassment and attacks by the Israeli military or by settlers. It’s as if we live in a big prison, with invisible walls, as a result of the restrictions imposed on us.
From Lana Kan'an's testimony, taken by Iyad Hadad on 21 March 2014

This report concerns the village of Burqah, Ramallah District. A rather unremarkable village, Burqah has never taken center stage in the fight against the occupation, and has not been subjected to extreme punitive measures. In fact, we chose to focus on Burqah precisely because it is unexceptional, as a case in point demonstrating what life under the occupation is like for residents of Palestinian villages. It is a small, picturesque village, surrounded by fields. Like many other villages, it endures severe travel restrictions which isolate it from its surroundings. It is also subject to massive land-grabs and stifling planning, all of which have turned it into a derelict, crowded and backward village with half its population living at or below the poverty line.

Burqah residents may live in Area B, but despite the illusion created when powers were transferred to the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s full control of Area C means it has the power to influence many aspects of life in Areas A and B, even allowing it to freeze the day-to-day routine of Palestinians living in those areas:

Road Closures: Early in the second Intifada, the Israeli military closed the main road from Burqah to Ramallah. The road has remained closed ever since, transforming the short trip to Ramallah from a few minutes’ ride into a 45-minute journey through winding bypass roads ill-equipped to accommodate substantial volumes of traffic. The road closures have converted Burqah into an isolated, remote village, despite its geographic proximity to Ramallah. Road closures have also limited access by Burqah residents to all the services provided in Ramallah, the district’s major urban center: employment, medical services, shopping centers, institutions of higher education and leisure facilities.

remainder: http://www.btselem.org/publications/201410_invisible_walls_of_occupation

New book by Norman Finkelstein explores Israel’s assault on Gaza

Method and Madness: The hidden story of Israel’s assaults on Gaza

“Mr. Finkelstein … research is certainly thorough. His characterizations, too, can be brilliant, and he spares nobody …”
—The Economist

Perceptions about the Israeli-Palestine conflict are changing. The UK recently voted to recognize Palestine as a state, and other European countries are clambering to follow suit. The New Yorker ran a cover story on the changing sentiment in the American-Jewish community towards Israel’s right-wing stance. “American audiences,” a New York Magazine article begins, “are seeing the story of the conflict, perhaps more than ever before, through Palestinian eyes.”

While the mainstream is only now becoming critical of Israel’s actions, Norman G. Finkelstein has long been an outspoken opponent of all violence in the Middle East. His latest work, Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza, upholds his reputation as one of the area’s most insightful commentators.

Looking at Israel’s major military operations of the last six years, Finkelstein reveals that Israel’s “defensive” measures have been motivated by political calculation: a desire to keep Palestine politically fractured and a need for Palestinian pleas to be seen and dismissed as terrorist demands. Perhaps even more vital than his scholarship of the recent past is Finkelstein’s prescription for peace. He concludes his book with an argument that only global nonviolent protests lead by Palestinians can put an end to the madness. Providing context and possible solutions, Finkelstein’s latest book is vital, pithy, and required reading for any interested in the Middle East.


Saudi Arabia: As executions rise, allies must focus more closely on warring anti-IS forces

World View: In many respects the situation in Saudi Arabia is getting worse rather than better, as if the government feels it must compete with the IS

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 26 October 2014

A Specialised Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a prominent Shia clergyman, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, to death on vague charges of “breaking allegiance to the ruler” and “encouraging, leading and participating in demonstrations.”

It is a sentence that is creating rage among Saudi Arabia’s two-million-strong Shia minority that has long claimed to be persecuted and discriminated against.

The Saudi authorities are nervous about how the verdict handed down on 15 October will be received; the court arrested Sheikh Nimr’s brother, Mohammed Nimr al-Nimr, after he announced the outcome of the trial on Twitter. Local activists believe this was to prevent him speaking to the media after sentencing. Harsh though the sentence is, it is less than the prosecution’s demand for execution by “crucifixion”, a punishment that in Saudi Arabia involves beheading.

Sheikh Nimr had been under arrest since 2012 when he was shot four times in the leg by police, who claimed that he resisted them with a weapon when they were trying to arrest him. His family dispute this, saying that he did not own a weapon and accusing the Saudi authorities of not providing adequate medical treatment for his wounds. Sheikh Nimr had earlier said in an interview with the BBC that he looked to “the roar of the word against the Saudi authorities rather than weapons … the weapon of the word is stronger than bullets, because authorities will profit from a battle of weapons”. At the time of his arrest there were riots in Eastern Province, the site of much of Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, in which three people were killed.


UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in Detroit

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire says mass struggle against the powers that be is required in Detroit

October 22, 14


Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire, an electronic press agency that was founded in 1998. He has worked as a broadcast journalist for the last 14 years, and has worked for decades in solidarity with the liberation movements and progressive governments on the African continent and the Caribbean. Azikiwe is the co-founder of several Detroit-area organizations including: The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs. Between 2007-2011 Azikiwe served as the chairperson of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights(MCHR) and is currently the president of the organization.
UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in DetroitPERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

Detroit is undergoing large-scale water disconnections. This year alone at least 27,000 households have had their services disconnected. The scale of the water shutoffs carried out by a third-party company has reached unbearable proportions for people living in Detroit. Let's have a look at what some of them had to say.


DETROIT RESIDENT: I'm a single mother mother of five children, so going without water is a major, major problem, major issue.

DETROIT RESIDENT: So my water has been cut off three times. I water company, and she just told me I owed them $135. They turned my water off for $135.

PROTESTERS: Water is a human right! Stop the water shut offs!

PROTESTERS: the water. No more shutoffs! One! We are the people! Two! We are united! Three!


PERIES: The conditions are so bad that two United Nations special rapporteurs were invited to Detroit by a number of community groups: the special rapporteur on human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the other one on adequate housing and standard of living without discrimination. They heard from residents, council members, the mayor, and congressmen. In their joint statement, they said that the human rights to safe drinking water, sanitation, and adequate housing both derive from the right to an adequate standard of living protected under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

in full: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12551


Ankara bombs PKK rebels inside Turkey while Kurds in Kobani face Isis


Turkish aircraft have attacked Kurdish rebel positions inside Turkey for the first time in two years as relations between the Turkish government and the Kurds deteriorate because of Turkey’s failure to help the Kurdish defenders of Kobani under attack by Isis.

F-16 jets struck at a target they claimed was held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, but has had a ceasefire since 2013. The Turkish military said it was responding “in the strongest possible way” to the shelling of an outpost by PKK forces. The PKK say they were responding to a military strike.

The Turkish government appears to calculate that the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan does not want the faltering peace process to end and that the PKK cannot fight in both Syria and Turkey. Mr Ocalan says, however, that if Kobani falls then it will be the end of the peace process.

Today, US-led forces said they had conducted 21 airstrikes focused on halting Isis advances at Kobani in the last two days. That came as Barack Obama held talks with military leaders from some 20 countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. “It is part of ongoing efforts to build the coalition and integrate the capabilities of each country into the broader strategy,” said a White House spokesman.



Iraq descends into anarchy: Shia militias 'abducting and killing Sunni civilians in revenge for Isis attacks'

The re-emergence of the militias and the failure to rebuild the Iraqi army is torpedoing the US and British policy of supporting a more inclusive and less sectarian government


Liberalism and Gentrification

by Gavin Mueller

Gentrification isn’t a cultural phenomenon — it’s a class offensive by powerful capitalists.

1866 Mitchell Map of Washington, DC

When I want to examine the limits of liberal ideology, I look for class struggle; when I want to find some class struggle, I simply step outside my door. You don’t have to live in Washington, DC, like I do, but it helps.

Like a lot of cities, Washington is really two cities in the same space. We’ve got “Washington,” the place of popular imagination, gleaming white marble monuments and Aaron Sorkin speechifiers, the mostly-from-out-of-town professional class keeping the rusty wheels of state administration turning.

We’ve also got “DC,” the city distinct from the operations of the federal government, made up of “residents,” who are mostly poor and mostly black. These two cities are locked in a one-sided war of attrition, with affluent “newcomers” and their local allies conducting clear-and-hold operations against their less well-heeled neighbors. I can watch from what Forbes magazine, that barometer of bohemianism, has labeled the sixth-hippest neighborhood in the US, where I live.

This is gentrification, which, if you’re reading this and live in a city, is a process you’re caught up in. There’s a violent side of gentrification — think Rudy Giuliani and his “broken windows” alibi for crackdowns on petty crime. But there’s a softer side to this war as well, the liberal project of city governance whose patron saint is the activist Jane Jacobs, author of Death and Life of American Cities.

remainder: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/liberalism-and-gentrification/

Why the Right Is So Freaked Out about the Inconvenient Truths of Actual U.S. History

Conservatives are going bonkers over "unpatriotic" history tests. Time for a little tutorial.

October 7, 2014 |

Conservative hero Ben Carson is worried about American teenagers joining ISIS. But it’s not because of “radical Islam.” It’s because of new high school history standards.

American’s right wing, you see, is terrified of history because it is always sentimentalizing it. Many of its arguments rely on a feeling of nostalgia for “good old days,” that appeals almost exclusively to aging whites. That means that a more accurate history, one that considers groups that are traditionally marginalized — women, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants and the poor — don’t necessarily sit that well. Their stories, the stories of the downtrodden, crush the false narrative that many conservatives like to imagine — that of a idyllic past marred by the New Deal, women’s liberation and civil rights.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, a school board recently tried to limit the historical curriculum to only events that would, “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” Needless to say, much of American history — the Great Depression, the Trail of Tears and the internment of Japanese-Americans — would, under those parameters, need to obfuscated. The Republic National Committee, meanwhile, has issued a statement calling the new Advanced Placement U.S. History standards ”radically revisionist.” But conservatives may want to take the plank out of their own eye before examining the speck in their neighbors. Here are the most important distortions of history the right has promoted recently.

Before Welfare, Everything Was Awesome

Example: Marvin Olasky’s “Tragedy of American Compassion,” which argues, “Americans in urban areas a century ago faced many of the problems we face today, and they came up with truly compassionate solutions.”

in full: http://www.alternet.org/education/why-right-so-freaked-out-about-inconvenient-truths-actual-us-history
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