Bomb Threats Made Against Second Free Gaza Voyage

Yes, they are going again-

Doctors and lawyers are going to Gaza at the request of the people of Gaza to assess the medical tragedy there and to talk to the people. We are also delivering six cubic meters of badly-needed medical supplies for the children of Gaza.

The passengers on board include:
– 5 physicians from 4 countries
– human rights lawyers and monitors
– Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli Knesset
– Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
– Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Belfast

Tonight via email-

I was sitting in the hotel lobby talking to some of the new passengers who are leaving for Gaza sometime in the next few days, when my Cyprus phone rang. “There is a bomb on the boat.” The caller said. “There are two bombs on the boat, and the boat will blow up when you leave.” Then he started to laugh. If I’d had the presence of mind to answer, I would have asked him how he knew which boat we were taking since WE don’t know, but, like most obscene phone calls, the caller catches you off-guard, and the only answers seen to be after the fact.

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The 35-mile coast of Gaza is the only piece of  the Mediterranean under occupation by a foreign military force except for the Northern coast of Cyrpus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. It’s why the Cypriots are so helpful for this project, and it could never have been accommplished without them. They understand military occupation. On a hillside overlooking Nicosia is a huge sign that says, “Isn’t it great to be a Turk!” You can see the sign for miles, larger than the Hollywood sign.

Like the sickening sign on the checkpoint outside Bethlehem that says, “Peace be with you” in three languages, these  signs  are finger-in-your-eye jeers from an occupier. And so, like any occupier, the thugs that follow them decide to threaten the people who challenge. The phone call today will be one of many. We got them the last time, threatening to kill us, telling us that mines were planted outside of Gaza, saying that the boats would be sabotaged.

But, like the last time, we will still go. And we will put Israel on notice that any harm that comes to the 22 people who are on this boat, the boat itself, or the people waiting for us will be because Israel doesn’t know how to confront peaceful protest with anything except intimidation.

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Shockingly Corporations Ignore Voluntary Ethical Practices

Also woods found to be full of bear shit-

(IPS) – The intersection of human rights, the environment and corporate responsibility was highlighted today at a Capitol Hill hearing featuring activists from Burma and Nigeria who underlined the failure to date of “voluntary” controls over major oil companies operating in their countries.

The Voluntary Principles (VPs) were developed in hopes of calming the waters in countries where multinational companies extract oil, gas and other minerals at great profit, but at a terrible cost to human rights and local environments.

Through the VPs, corporations are offered guidance about local communities where they will be working, and are expected to ensure that their rights are not violated as a result of the activities they undertake.

However, after the launch of the VPs in 2000, under the George W. Bush administration, the process “drifted without clear direction”, Freeman said.

No really, do try to be surprised, hmm now Bush is fond of appearing publicly to blame China for supporting the Burmese junta and act as a staunch supporter of the human rights of the Burmese yet has never done anything about Chevron, his Secretary of State’s former employer and beneficiary of an administration reluctant to prosecute…(although some slightly good news on Shell in Nigeria)

The U.S.-owned Chevron Corporation has a contract with Burma’s military junta to provide security for its operations along the vast Yadama pipeline area, which carries Burmese oil through neighboring Thailand for export to the US.

Ka Hsaw Wa, founder and director of Earth Rights International and recipient of several prestigious awards for his work, detailed gross violations of human rights documented when he and his team spoke to dozens of villagers along the pipeline.

Rape, even of young children, is not uncommon, the activist said. Local people are used as forced labour, and are prohibited from farming their own land without “permission” from the military, usually tied to a financial or material contribution, such as a chicken, Ka Hsaw Wa said.

“It is amazing to me that a U.S. company is allowed to contract with an army that commits these kinds of abuses with impunity,” he testified.

“In countries like Burma, they just don’t care,” about protecting rights or respecting “voluntary principles”, the young activist declared.

A booklet prepared by his organization, “The Human Cost of Energy”, points out that Chevron has yet to say a word about the beating and shooting of Buddhist monks demonstrating against the military regime this time last year, despite the serious violation of human rights involved.

“The principles have yet to take root in Nigeria,” agreed Nnimmo, who heads up the country’s Environmental Rights Action group, allied with Friends of the Earth International.

Since oil began to be extracted in the Niger Delta 50 years ago, the police and military, acting on behalf of the government and Shell Oil, have consistently ignored or violated the rights of local communities, he said.

The first documented massacre of 80 people took place in 1990. During the mid-1990s the military killed hundreds of Ogoni people and nine Ogoni leaders, including internationally known Ken Saro-Wiwa, who had been protesting environmental damage by oil companies and demanding compensation.

In 1998, the Ilaje people began to protest the destruction of their environment by Chevron’s oil exploration, which had killed the fish the remote community relied on for food. The incursion of salt water into rivers also destroyed vegetation and drinking water supplies. The custom of gas flaring creates health hazards and burns homes.

When a group of unarmed protestors occupied an oil platform to demand compensation, as well as jobs and medical assistance, Chevron called in the military, which came in shooting and arrested and tortured village leaders.

“After 50 years, these companies are still not willing to sit down and enter into dialogue with communities,” Nnimmo argued.

A court case for damages against Chevron by Nigerian Larry Bowoto and other Ilaje victims is still ongoing in U.S. federal court and in California state courts, where the plaintiffs seek an injunction to prevent Chevron from further “complicity’ in abuse by the Nigerian military.

Discouraged by the picture painted during the hearing, Sen. Durbin declared that the government must take stronger measures to ensure that US companies are not engaging human rights abuses and promoting the “devastating” environmental impacts described by the witnesses.

He more than once noted the coincidence of human rights abuses and environmental impact, since in both Burma and Nigeria, U.S. corporations not only ignore, or are complicit in, standard forms of human rights abuse, but at the same time are responsible for environmental damage that causes people to lose their health and livelihoods.

Credit Where Credit’s Due

If ever proof were needed of the impact of the move from traditional forms of capital, community and politics to a globalised economy built on unstable labour markets and consumerism then Steve Hall, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum’s extraordinary new book – Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture – provides more than enough evidence. The book’s basis is a long-term, ethnographic study of a range of contacts in the north-east of England.

Taking as their starting point the idea that “smart liberals” have not controlled capitalism’s “nasty side”, they show how an expansion of consumption through credit has created a culture obsessed with material goods, and where competitive individualism – the “me project” – has emptied old, solid, working-class communities of value and meaning so that these have become places to escape from, rather than fight for and improve as a collective. In such communities they argue that “crime is an instrument for achieving fantasised positions of social distinction and ‘respect’ in consumer culture”, and where as a result most of their respondents wanted to become “stars” of a criminal underworld as a means of gaining access to the material possessions that conferred status and meaning on their lives.