De Menezes Inquest Updates

Day 2 a Guardian report.

And Day 3 Harpy Marx, a couple of quotes stand out-

Vivien recalled how scared she was when the first bombings happened in London on 7/7/05 and the failed ones on the 21st July she wanted to return to Brazil. Jean Charles said to her, “we need to pray and hope not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time”. These were his final words to her on the 21/7.

All maintain that Jean Charles had no problems with the police and on a couple of occasions been stopped. He thought they were better than the Brazilian cops and “how good it was they didn’t carry weapons on them”.

Sarkozy’s War On Artistic Expression

Somehow this media courting fellow whose conservative shtick makes him aces with the rest of the world’s elites escapes scrutiny for his base authoritarianism (there’s a clue there about where neoliberalism is leading). It also helps he’s got a pretty new wife (and let’s be clear she is a daughter of wealth and privilege, enough with the fairy tale) a supposedly creative person (in the same way lots of rich kids get to be writers, artists, musicians…ahem) has not however stood up for freedom of expression and denounced her little Nicky.

On March 5, 2003, the door bell rang at the home of the French rapper Mohamed Bourokba, known as Hamé, and a bailiff informed him that the government was suing him for libel. The signature under the written complaint was familiar: Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister and now president of France. Five years, two appeals and countless hearings later, Hamé was acquitted Tuesday. Barring a petition to the final court of appeal by the government by Friday, the latest verdict brings to an end one of France’s most protracted and symbolic libel cases.

The length of the legal battle has raised the question of what freedom of speech really means in France. It also touches on the reputation and power of a president who has not shied even from suing a journalist perceived to be hostile – and whose tense relationship with youths in the suburbs has been a thread running through his political career.

It all started in April 2002, when Hamé’s group, La Rumeur, released its first album, and with it a magazine. Inside, the rapper had written an article accusing the police of acting with impunity in their treatment of immigrants and their descendants.

“The reports of the Interior Ministry will never acknowledge the hundreds of our brothers killed by the police without any of the murderers being held to account,” wrote Hamé, now 32, whose parents came from Algeria in the 1950s.

“The reality is that living in our neighborhoods today means you have a greater chance of experiencing economic abandon, of psychological vulnerability, of discrimination in the job market, of unstable housing, of regular police humiliations,” he wrote.

Sarkozy wrote a letter to the public prosecutor in July 2002, requesting that Hamé be sued. A year later the suit was formalized. Accused of “public libel against the national police,” Hamé was first acquitted in a trial court in 2004 and again in an appeals court in 2006. Then the Interior Ministry took the case to the top court of appeal, demanding that the judges annul the earlier verdict and arrange a second appeal. This time it won: In July 2007, not three months after Sarkozy had become president, the top appeals court ordered another appeals court in Versailles to rule again.

“I fear that the government cares less about the verdict and more about the deterrent created by a lengthy court case,” said Gwénaële Calvès, a professor of law and civil liberties specialist. “They are signaling that they don’t tolerate a certain type of criticism.”

Half a dozen rappers have been sued by the Interior Ministry and politicians over the past decade, according to Hamé’s lawyer, Dominique Tricaud, who has defended most of them.

The group Ministère AMER, in the 1990s, rapped about “sacrificing a pig.” More recently, the rapper Sniper sang about his mission to “exterminate ministers and fascists.” Most of them were acquitted. But none of their cases went beyond the first appeal.

What this is in part about is the continuing suppression of the history of fascists & racists and their roles in Paris, former Police Chief Maurice Papon for example who worked for the Nazis during the war and later as Police Chief oversaw the massacre of 200 Algerians, some of their bodies thrown in the Seine, in 1961.

It’s amazing what being a pro-corporate short arse with a MILF-y wife (or running mate) will get you in the media, a rock star level of attention and zero scrutiny of your political roots and context. At least Sarko’s fictional version got what was coming to him in Banlieue 13.

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Hunger Strikes In Belgium

Rajendra Debkota (50), an agricultural engineer from Nepal, can hardly walk after 74 days of fasting. He is clearly in pain. Will he continue on his hunger strike? “I am alone with my body”, he says, “I can’t think what I’ll do today or tomorrow”.

Debkota and seven other hunger strikers are being cared for at the Latin America House in Brussels. They come from Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Guinea, Brazil and Iran. An Algerian man has been admitted to hospital with kidney problems. Because of Ramadan, he had stopped taking liquids during the day.

Moussa Diakite (33) from the Ivory Coast has been taken to hospital twice but refuses further treatment. “Dying is no longer a problem. I am tired,” he says.

A university building in Brussels houses another seventy hunger strikers demanding a residency permit. Meanwhile, churches, unions and refugee organisations are pressuring the government to come up with clear guidelines concerning the criteria for a general pardon. This was to have been published in the spring but has now been postponed indefinitely.

At the beginning of July, some hundred hunger strikers were given a residency permit for three months which, they were told, could be extended to nine. A spokesman for asylum minister Annemie Turtelboom says this was in fact a “tactical move” to make the immigrants give up their hunger strike.

Turtelboom: “We got the idea from France. It gives people three months to recuperate. Besides, there is no airline which would have taken these people on board in that state. We said that if doctors felt it was necessary, we would extend the period.”

Her strategy was widely criticised. Right wing parties such as the Vlaams Belang accused the liberal minister of dithering while relief organisations branded her policy as “arbitrary”. Meanwhile, the extension period for the reprieve has been revoked. Three months is all the hunger strikers are going to get. After that they will have to go.

“tactical move” that’s nice. At what point did anyone ask why they were willing to starve themselves to gain asylum. What might our wealth be built on… in other countries, out of sight out of mind. A large part of why we treat migrants and refugees as we do is killing the messenger. Or in the case of hunger strikes, getting them to kill themselves. Civilised, ain’t we?

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Wake Up And Smell The Imperialism

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that “21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them”. The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

Although to be honest are they just stating clearly what was practised anyway, much to the cognitive dissonance of those who think their noble military don’t target civilians [otherwise known as- basic internalised lie of patriotism part 37b].