Free Gaza Tells Israel They’re Coming

To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: 972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax: 972-2-5303367
From: The Free Gaza Movement
This letter serves as a formal notification to you, as the Occupying Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip, that on Thursday, June 25, 2009 we are navigating the motor vessel Spirit of Humanity, and the motor vessel Free Gaza from the Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessels will be flying the Greek flags, and, as such, fall under the jurisdiction Greece. We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We will be carrying medical supplies in sealed boxes, as well as crayons, coloring books and toys for children, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca. We will also be carrying 300 bags of cement delivered directly from the supplier to the Port of Larnaca. There will be passengers and crew on board from 14 different countries.

Our boats and cargo will have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart. As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boats’ contents, nor the boats themselves constitute any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with our voyage by Israel’s authorities. On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the motor vessels, Spirit of Humanity and/or Free Gaza will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the people on board will be considered the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians. A copy of this notification has been sent to the embassies of the civilians who will be on board.

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , . Comments Off on Free Gaza Tells Israel They’re Coming

Defending Iranian’s Space

 

3Tir, Iranian Parliament- Resting Guards by Hamed Saber

3Tir, Iranian Parliament- Resting Guards by Hamed Saber

From furniture…

Furniture store Habitat has apologised for causing offence after accusations it exploited unrest in Iran to drive online Twitter users to its products. Keywords – called hashtags – such as ‘Iran’ and ‘Mousavi’ were added to its messages so people searching for those subjects would see the firm’s adverts.

But actually there is a serious point, look how a UK corporation saw the chance to make money off Iran, it is a rather comical attempt that nevertheless symbolises the role of Western interference seeking to tilt events in Iran towards their agendas. This potted BBC history of UK/Iran relations avoids deep analysis by keeping to bare information, the MKO/MEK show up with an obtuse mention that they were ‘taken off the list of terrorist groups by the EU in January‘ and are called an ‘Iranian opposition group‘ by interviewed academic Rosemary Hollis, [Middle East analyst at City University in London] a former Chatham house bigwig. The coup is admitted to but the Shah’s Savak with torture training by the CIA never make an appearance in the article.

Meanwhile… as if eager to prove Marx right (‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce‘) guess who the National Press Club in Washington decide to give a newsmaker event to?

National Press Club in Washington– The exiled son of the late shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, warned Monday of dire consequences for the volatile Middle East and the rest of the world if the popular uprising in Iran is crushed.

The defeat of the movement protesting the outcome of presidential elections 10 days ago would not only threaten global stability but could lead to nuclear war, Pahlavi told a news conference here.

Clearly he knows which side his neocon bread is buttered. Ah yes them, well it goes without saying they are frothing at the bit

But Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz said that the United States must take whatever steps necessary to ensure that Iran does not procure a nuclear bomb. “This is a suicidal nation,” he said. “It’s a terrorist nation.”

Hmmm, spot the common theme here? A theme being recycled from the arguments to escalate Obama’s war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, where apparently he does not mourn the lives ‘lost’ (are they lost? That implies something careless and accidental, he is the Commander in Chief his forces did this deliberately, that’s not lost, that’s murder) nor are heroic protesters in Palestine afforded sympathy.

So it takes some awareness to recognise the crocodile tears of imperialists from true solidarity with integrity towards Iranians showing us what democratic engagement against an authoritarian establishment is really like. Just as our governments seek to distance the events with reformer/hardliner framing because they wouldn’t want us to get ideas above our station, that we actually could challenge the hegemony of our elites. That to me is what Iranians are teaching the world. That many of our means to help are so withered and corrupted is shameful, so much so that to help the protesters we must also include opposing what our establishments are plotting. 

Now, I am sick of writing about it, I want to find concrete practical things we can do to help. Suggestions welcome.

PsychoSocialism

At last a good article in the ‘meejah’on the privatising and removing of entitlement bill (also known in newspeak as the Welfare Reform Bill), HarpyMarx makes good points too and states the most pressing simple solution- ditch the bill. It is Toryism being inflicted by a nominally Labour Government. I have experience of the system as it treats us differently sane types and one subject that is avoided is the role of the PCA system in increasing stressors on suicidal people, consequently the DWP have directly played a major contributory part in suicides that could have been avoided. This is known but ignored in order to cut benefits and follow orthodox neoliberal ideology towards moving public money into private hands. As such I consider it a form of corporate manslaughter by our government and the associated corporations it contracts.

Atos Origin employ doctors to run the software tests (which cannot be peer reviewed for medical efficacy because the DWP & Atos claim ‘commercial confidentiality’) which are then adjudicated by non doctors. As such an interesting appearance of medical professionalism is presented by this, the claimant sees a doctor -albeit just clicking a mouse on a PC questionnaire- not the office based adjudicator. I think the medical profession have to ask some hard questions as to the ethics of playing a role in the current and proposed systems. However given the role of medical professionals in torture, I won’t hold my breath (no water boarding pun intended).

Harpy’s mention of Michael Moore’s Sicko is very apt, as it showed the process of corporate executives receiving bonuses and career advancement in return for denying treatment to clients that lead to the clients death but to increased profit for the corporation. The private sector’s advance into the NHS is spearheaded by the privatising of welfare and particularly its medical aspects. Just as America wakes up to the horrors of healthcare for profit (and the ruling class fight desperately to avoid a democratically majority desired national healthcare system) we are about to fall fully into the nightmare, piloted -as ever- on the least powerful, most ignored and misunderstood minorities in society. We should be saying- “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” (this time, pun intended).

Welfare reform will contribute to the growing problem of mental illness. The DWP is taking on the role of a therapeutic agent, claiming work will make people better against the advice of their doctors.

Welfare reforms to date are failing the needs of people with mental illness. Claimants who have “symptoms without diseases”, or mental health conditions, and who cannot demonstrate that their illness has an “objective medical pathology” will be most at risk of being denied benefits or forced to undertake inappropriate work activity.

Personal Capability Assessment claims have been assessed by Atos Origin employees with no medical training. Computerised evaluations coupled with clearance time targets have led to significant statistical error. Fifty per cent of appeals against the refusal of claims found in favour of the claimant (pdf). In 80% of these cases the problem was poor assessment of mental health problems.

DWP research shows (pdf) that Pathways to Work pilots have done little to help people with mental illness find work. Further DWP research shows that one of the main barriers to attending work-focused interviews is mental ill health (pdf). The same report also reveals that sanctions have a negative impact on people’s mental health, both for those who are already mentally ill and for others who develop anxiety or depression.

Cost of Tasers in North Wales

I have to say LibDem Tom Brake does a superb job in his comments on this, concise and informative on the key issues.

ARMING more North Wales cops with Tasers will cost the force almost £40,000 this year, records reveal. And training up the rank and file to use the American-style stun guns will also take each officer off the streets for at least two days. Until this year only the most highly-trained fire arms squads could carry the weapons, which emit 50,000-volts to temporarily paralyse targets.

But a relaxation of the rules means 30,000 more junior officers are set to be trained up nationally. North Wales police have trialled the use of the weapons, set to be rolled out to other forces this year. Under the Freedom of Information Act North Wales police admitted piloting the use of Tasers cost £22,428, while rolling out the scheme this year will cost £39,191. The figures do not take in to account any costs for the officer’s time.

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman who uncovered the information, said: “Having police out patrolling the streets would be of far more benefit to the public than locking them away for two days and training them to use deadly weapons. Tasers have killed over 300 people in America since 2001 and yet the Home Office maintains that they are non-lethal. It is ridiculous that the Home Office is lavishing millions on Tasers when some police forces do not want even want them. Tasers should be left in the hands of specially trained firearms officers. By giving 30,000 officers Tasers we are descending the slippery slope towards armed, US-style policing.”

Connecting Oily Dots…

shellnazilogo1

Having avoided their crimes in Nigeria coming out in open court Shell have looked elsewhere to ply their business model perchance…Abiding in Bolivia sums up 

Branco Marinkovic, Argentine fascists, and US Embassy security personel, our buddies at the Human Rights Foundation were also involved by partially funding the mercenary group. Apparently the faux human rights organization doesn’t just hire mentally unstable bloggers like Alek Boyd, they now also have criminal fugitives from Bolivia on their roster, Hugo Acha.

So what of Shell?

2008- The Shell oil company is under great pressure from the Bolivian government to reduce its presence in the country, or even to withdraw completely. President Evo Morales issued an ultimatum at the end of March, giving the company till 30 April to agree to sell off its activities to the Bolivian state.

Ok, they must have been upset. Now imagine, people trying to kill Evo Morales just so happened to have a history working security for Shell, oh coincidences!

It has emerged that members of the Szekler Legion, a paramilitary group which recruits among young ethnic Hungarians in Romania, have worked as security guards at the Shell Corrib Gas Project construction sites in recent months.

Among them the Szekler Legion’s leader 32-year-old Romanian Hungarian Tibor Revesz who worked for Integrated Risk Management Security (I-RMS) at the Mayo sites. There are indications other Szekler Legion members have worked in Ireland, with the organisation’s internet site selling patches associated with the Corrib project.

One patch, with a skull and Celtic motif carries the slogan “OSS — Operation Solitaire Shield 2008 Corrib Gas Project”, believed to refer to the Solitaire ship which was to be used for pipe-laying at the site.

The Szekler Legion have been implicated in violent incidents in Romania. The group openly promotes neo-fascism and race hate.

Among the Szekler Legion’s members were Magyarosi Arpak and Elot Toazo. Arpak, 28, was shot dead by Bolivian security forces alongside Tipperary native Michael Dwyer, 24 in Bolivia. In the same operation Toazo was arrested.

The Bolivian government has accused the Tipperary man and his companions of planning terrorist attacks, including the assassination of the country’s socialist President Evo Morales. The gang’s leader Eduardo Rozsa Flores, 48, was also killed in the raid. Flores was a neo-fascist activist and an “honorary member” of the Szekler Legion.

Five skinheads formed a guard of honour at the Tipperary man’s grave in Tullyglass cemetery just a few hours after he was buried last Thursday. A Garda source said they were members of Hungarian right-wing group, the Szekler Legion. Cops believe Dwyer forged links with the fascist group on the internet before flying to Bolivia to take a security job.

Of course it’s entirely possible such lovely individuals found other benefactors and left all ties to Shell behind, it would just be a happy accident of fate their objective would have alleviated the problems their former employer Shell was having in Bolivia. It’s nice when friends and colleagues, current and former share interests, innit?

At the end of 2007 I-RMS ‘security operatives’ replaced the majority of security guards employed by Shell. A substantial number of these ‘operatives’ have military backgrounds and dubious far-right political links. I-RMS have faced numerous complaints from protestors, having been accused of assault, heavy handedness and failure to wear or present their Private Security Authority licences. They have also routinely filmed protestors and indeed Dwyer himself was involved in this gathering of intelligence for Shell. On their website, offline and ‘under construction’ in the wake of Dwyer’s death, I-RMS had advertised their services, specialising in “international armed and unarmed security”, “customised security solutions” and “special services”, unquestionably all euphemisms for mercenary work. I-RMS have also been used by Fianna Fáil at their last few ardfheiseanna. So not only does I-RMS protect the nefarious multinational Shell in their robbery of Irish gas, they also defend the politicians who facilitated this grand theft. Who said three’s a crowd? Maura Harrington, the courageous veteran Shell to Sea campaigner, castigated I-RMS as “Shell’s private army in North Mayo”. This hired muscle for capitalism has been doing the state’s dirty work, while Gardaí turn a blind eye. They are no more than a hired gang of thugs and fascists.

False Sense of Security (Force)

Another incident of police criminal assault is caught on camera and the IPCC is caused to become involved…but, are we not now at the point where it is clear the IPCC is more about the appearance of accountability than the actual holding of police criminality to account. It acts as a pressure valve for public dissatisfaction and anger, but is it effectively putting criminals who just happen to have a warrant card into jail? So this case goes to the IPCC and people can rest easier, that is the game, but the reality…Well put it this way police officers killed a man, lied about it and are currently still armed and in the service. The IPCC is a comfortable myth that obscures the increasing authoritarian attitude of entitlement in police forces and the impunity our state security forces operate under. In American security nomenclature protest is not classed a “Low Level Terrorism” and social movements as “terrorist environments” (ht2 BB). This is similar to NETCU’s approach-

The term ‘domestic extremism’ applies to unlawful action that is part of a protest or campaign. It is most often associated with ’single-issue’ protests, such as animal rights, anti-war, anti-globalisation and anti-GM (genetically modified) crops.

The existence of the IPCC is an effective PR rebuttal to claims of an encroaching security apparatus, but the legitimacy of that counter argument rests on the institution being an effective independent investigation unit that gets results and polices the police.

Nick Hardwick, head of the Independent Police Complaints Commission said the severity of the G20 complaints and injuries alleged is greater – although the difference may be accounted for by the presence of “citizen journalists” with mobile phone cameras at the G20 protest. “One of the consequences of this exposure through citizen journalism is that we will all see much more clearly what it is – and sometimes it looks ugly – what we expect the police to do,” he told MPs.

Posted in Authoritarianism. Tags: , . Comments Off on False Sense of Security (Force)

Bad YouTube

First The Huffington Post now Youtube has censored Max Blumenthal’s ‘Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem’-

Youtube has removed my video, “Feeling The Hate In Jerusalem,” on the baseless grounds that it contains “inappropriate content.” They have offered me no further explanation and have stonewalled my inquiries and attempts to rectify the situation. Thus they have censored a video that contains far less inflammatory content than thousands of video they are already hosting. Why? I won’t ascribe motives to Youtube I am unable to confirm, but it is clear there is an active campaign by right-wing Jewish elements to suppress the video by filing a flood of complaints with Youtube. At the same time these elements have attempted to paint me as a self-hating Jew determined to foment anti-Semitism. I answered this last charge to Ha’aretz (read the barely coherent article here) last week: “I have received death threats from people, mainly ones calling me a self-hating Jew. I am self-hating, but my self-hatred has nothing to do with me being Jewish.”

Jewish Voices for Peace (the parent organization of the excellent website Muzzlewatch) is preparing an action for tomorrow to pressure Youtube into restoring the video. They are asking their members to email press@youtube.com to demand an explanation for the censorship. For now, I have reposted the video on Vimeo and urge everyone to distribute it widely.

And worst of all it means I have to go back to my post with the vid and put in a new url for the video! Which is frankly just not on, so please write to press@youtube.com 

Some clue as to what may have helped the Zionist lobby pull off the Youtube censorship is provided by Jews Sans Frontieres YouTube has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). I don’t know what Huffington Posts’s excuse is and for that matter I don’t think Crooks & Liars posted it (yet happily posted his exposes of conservative & Christianist bigotry, hmm). Meanwhile here it is on another YT account yet to be shut down-

PS. CodePink Rule the Beach!

FreeGaza Prepares Eighth Mission

(Doha, 22 June 2009) In three days, the Free Gaza movement sails 240 miles from Cyprus to Gaza, its eighth mission to break Israel’s draconian siege on 1.5 million Palestinians there. In the holds of the FREE GAZA and the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY will be tons of cement, and suitcases full of toys, crayons and coloring books for the children, all items banned by Israel’s government.

 Two of the organizers, Huwaida Arraf and Greta Berlin, as well as the Honorable Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, held a press conference yesterday in Doha, Qatar. All three called on the world to recognize Palestinian human and civil rights…rights that have been denied for 61 years.

“People in Gaza are being made to live in subhuman conditions. Children are dying, and governments are silent. It is important to continue sending boats to Gaza to challenge the criminal blockade enforced by the Israeli military,” said Ms. Arraf.

The group emphasized that what they are taking is only a token of what the people of Gaza need. They are hoping to buy a cargo boat , to bring in larger amounts of building supplies via the sea route they aim to open. They ask for the financial support of people around the world to purchase this ship.

Speaking to Al Jazeera and eight other news organizations, Ms Arraf emphasized, “International donors pledged over $4bn to rebuild Gaza, yet none of them are doing a thing about the fact that Israel allows no building supplies into the territory. So 36 of us from 16 countries are leaving on Thursday to tell the world to do something.”

When asked what guarantees the group has received from the Israeli government, both Berlin and Arraf frowned. “We do not seek permission from or coordinate with the Israeli authorities. Israel has grossly abused its authority as an occupying power, daily violating the human rights of Palestinians, and imposing collective punishment on them. It is past time for the international community to stop abetting Israel’s illegal closure policy.” stated Ms. Arraf.

 The group intends to go at least three times over the summer; June 25th, July 14th, and August 16th, near the anniversary of the first successful voyage.

Posted in Israel-Palestine, Media. Tags: , . Comments Off on FreeGaza Prepares Eighth Mission

Guilty Evasions

Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war in secret because he feared that he would be subjected to a “show trial” if it were opened to the public, the Observer can reveal.

Blair is believed to have been alarmed by the prospect that he might be asked to give evidence in public and under oath about the use of intelligence and about his numerous private discussions with US President George Bush at which the two leaders laid plans for war.

Mousavi Issues Statement

Naj @ Neo Resistance has posted the latest statement from Mir Hossein Mousavi and an English translation. It is very interesting to read and his most radical demand is for annulling the vote and repeating the election and he asks for space to be given to protest and not for the security forces to repress them violently. I post it below also so you may read and make up your own minds-

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics. Tags: . 4 Comments »

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Vote For…

Authoritarians Have Riot Police.

It’s very depressing what is happening today in Iran, apparently foreign embassies are taking in wounded, which is a bad sign in many ways, of the level of violence, of foreign powers becoming more involved. Did America rerun its election when Bush stole it? Which is to say Iran’s establishment is not acting any different to any other. But in a nation of such long history and rich culture combined with a young demographic a chance to break the mould is perhaps still alive. A fresh election with cross party observers at every stage could have led a way forward, one can argue fraud/not fraud interference etc endlessly, there are clearly enough Iranians unhappy with their government that they are making the kind of protest our Western organisers can barely dream of. It can’t all be the CIA, MI6, Mossad, even Rafsanjani pulling strings for his neoliberal wet dream (and there are those who say Ahmadinejad is not that different economically, his help to the poorer Iranians largely to gain support while he sells off assets to allies in the Revolutionary Guard). This level of sustained outpouring of frustration is not a phantom, the protesters do not want to overthrow the regime for some Western puppet, they want a government worthy of their talents and ambitions, a revival perhaps of the Islamic Revolution before it turned on the idealists and had them silenced. You can’t translate Chavez vs. neoliberal puppets -or whatever- to Iran, the structure and politics of the Islamic republic is entirely different, the history is different. But they do share enemies, which is where this crackdown makes the least sense. Perhaps they believe or have absolute proof this is an attempt at agitation & regime change, but the clever way of defusing that would have been an election rerun monitored by all sides, (even invite Jimmy Carter and his chums to watch!). I know that doesn’t guarantee results that would be accepted universally, ask a Palestinian, but it would resolve much of the current tension. Instead those in charge (and there is some debate whether this is Khamenei or an element of the Revolutionary Guard) have shown their authoritarian nature, just as ours and many other governments do, faced with mass disproval of their activities they ignore dialogue then repress. What right do I have to expect Iran to operate better than my own country? None. But I can show solidarity with Iranians and reject outside powers interference for their own agendas. Authoritarianism of the left, right, religious, secular, whatever is never supportable.

Theatre Tackles The Jean Charles deMenezes Killing

This appears it will be considerably better than the ITV ‘docudrama’ which came off like a 24 copy, overwhelmed with a melodramatic score and deference to the establishment. Imagine using the public execution of an innocent man to sell advertising to an action friendly audience demographic, ain’t commercial teevee grand.

Via Justice4Jean

OH WELL NEVER MIND BYE by Steven Lally
Directed by Tom Mansfield
Cast: Matthew Duggan, Susanna Fiore, Charlotte Flintham, Benjamin Peters

16 June – 4 July
Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX
Tues-Sat 7.30pm

Tickets £12 full/£10 concessions
Gala Night Saturday 20 June – call Box Office for info
Box Office 020 7261 9876

“They should know that people are forcing us to take sides. That our paper is susceptible to whichever pressure group shouts the loudest, to the point where it changes facts and stops us doing our jobs.”

 21 July 2005. James Fisher’s news team are struggling to report the day’s events in time to meet their evening deadline. When police marksmen shoot a man dead at Stockwell underground station the next morning, the team are caught between the need to report the truth and a combination of political pressure, professional rivalry, and personal resentment.

 Written after extensive research and interviews with working journalists, Oh Well Never Mind Bye is a daring, compelling and darkly comic political drama exploring the workings of the media and the rise of “churnalism” in the era of 24-hour news, set against the background of the July 2005 terrorist attacks on London and the shooting by police of innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes.

In the offices of a fictional newspaper, news editor James Fisher is struggling to keep his team on task as they report the failed bombings of July 21st, 2005. Charlotte, his most talented reporter, has been taken off essential duties after a report she sent from the occupied West Bank angered a pro-Israel pressure group. The team’s new addition, George, is beginning to ask awkward questions about the accuracy of the reports coming in off the wire. Only the cynical Fin seems to actually get the job done. When news comes in the next morning of a police shooting at Stockwell underground station, the divisions within the team become even more pronounced as Charlotte seeks to bypass the paper’s pro-security editorial line and report the unpalatable truth.

Facebook           Upstart Theatre

Posted in Culture(!). Tags: , , . Comments Off on Theatre Tackles The Jean Charles deMenezes Killing

Friday! Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros- Yalla Yalla

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Support Iranians

The arrest of human rights lawyer Mr Abdolfattah Soltani on 16 June 2009 during a mass arrest that also included many other human rights defenders raises serious concerns for the security of prominent human rights defenders.

Abdolfattah Soltani is a leading human rights lawyer and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran (DHRC).

On 16 June 2009, Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested in his office in Tehran.

According to Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate and the head of the DHRC, security officials posing as clients entered the Tehran office, immediately confiscated Abdolfattah Soltani’s computer and other documents, and then arrested him. They did not have an arrest warrant.

All you have to do is either cut and paste the letter or print out the attached version and sign and post it off. Remember to add your own name and address. If you receive a reply please send a copy to Head of Communications, Front Line, 81 Main St., Blackrock Co Dublin.

If you would like information on other cases you can log onto the Front Line web site at http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/act

Letter below-

Read the rest of this entry »

Worthy of Your Support

Posted in Good Journalism, Politics. Tags: . Comments Off on Worthy of Your Support