A Journalist's Tale - One Year After

A Journalist Beaten — One Year Later
by Mohammed Omer | Agence Global
June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamail and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine .

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.
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Hunger: Israel's Human Trafficking Rings

Beyond Politics: People for Sale in Hungry World
by Ramzy Baroud
One might be tempted to dismiss the recent findings of the US State Department on human trafficking as largely political. But do not be too hasty.
Criticism of the State Department's report on trafficked persons, issued on 16 June, should be rife. The language describing US allies' efforts to combat the problem seems undeserved, especially when one examines the nearly 320- page report and observes the minuscule efforts of these governments. Also, it was hardly surprising to find that Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria -- Washington's foremost foes -- languish in the report's Tier 3 category, i.e. countries where the problem is most grave and least combated. Offenders in Tier 3 are subject to US sanctions, while governments of countries in Tier 1 are perceived as vigilant in fighting human trafficking.
One could also question the US government's own moral legitimacy; classifying the world into watch lists, congratulating some and reprimanding and sanctioning others, while the US itself has thus far (and for nine consecutive reports starting 2000) been immune to self-criticism.
Undoubtedly, the political hubris and self- righteous underpinnings of the report are disturbing, but that hardly represents an end to the argument. The fact remains that the report's rating of over 170 countries is thorough and largely consistent with facts as observed, reported by the media and examined in other comprehensive reports on the same issue. Indeed, the UN's own Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in February 2009, affirms much of the State Departments' findings regarding patterns of abuse reported around the world, most notably in Africa, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
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Dead Black Men that Don't Count

Dead Black Men that Don't Count
by C. L. Cook
As thousands gather in Los Angeles to mourn together the passing of an American music icon, television news stations are running extended coverage of the death of Michael Jackson, bumping scheduled stories.
One of those stories obscured by the untimely eclipse of the singular superstar is a matter of life and death too, but for many times more than one black man.

The Washington Post reports, a shipment of American weapons and ammunition arrived sometime this month in Mogadishu. The unspecified amount and nature of the materiel accompanies ten million dollars an anonymous Obama administration spokesperson says is meant to revive the Somali army and police force.

"A decision was made at the highest level to ensure the government does not fall and that everything is done to strengthen government security forces to counter the rebels."
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Toronto Pride Committee Refuses Ban Against Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

Seriously Free Speech Committee Supports Pride Toronto Parade Committee
As many of you know, various Zionist organizations including B'nai Brith have tried to force the Toronto Pride Committee to ban the Queers Against Israeli Apartheid contingent from this year's parade. The Seriously Free Speech Committee sent the following letter of support:

To members of the Pride Toronto Parade Committee

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC) to congratulate you on your steadfast response to attacks from a range of media and pro-Zionist organizations. Attempts to ban the Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) contingent from this year's parade and singling out for attack as a gay Muslim the democratically elected Parade Grand Marshal, El-Farouk Khaki, for speaking at a recent public event organized by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, were appropriately rejected.
Your statement that Pride Toronto “has no intention of banning any participants from the Dyke March and the Parade because of their political agenda” is a courageous response to B'nai Brith and other organizations that seek to silence criticism of Israel for its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.
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CIA's Panetta: Renditions to Continue, Torturers "Just following orders"

CIA’S Panetta Won't Penalize Torturers, Okays Renditions
by Sherwood Ross
CIA Director Leon Panetta says he is not going to penalize agents who tortured prisoners if they “were doing their duty,” explaining, “If you have a President who exercises bad judgment, the C.I.A. pays the price.” 

In an interview published in the June 22nd issue of The New Yorker magazine, Panetta acknowledged to reporter Jane Mayer the CIA may still employ some people tainted by the torture program. Nevertheless, Panetta said, “I really respect the people who say we shouldn’t have gotten involved in the interrogation business but we had to do our jobs.” 

This defense, of course, recalls the one used by Nazi Adolf Eichmann, the Holocaust architect responsible for sending countless European Jews to extermination camps. Eichmann said he was just following orders and Panetta implies CIA agents that tortured were just following orders from the Bush White House. Eichmann was found hiding in Argentina and taken to Israel, where he was tried, convicted, and hanged in 1962.

Not only is Panetta excusing CIA criminals but Mayer writes;
“Panetta, for his part, has been persuaded that renditions are a tool worth keeping…Panetta told me, ‘The worst part of rendition was rendition to a black site. That will not be the case anymore. If we render someone, it will be to a country with jurisdiction over that individual.’” “The Obama Administration,” Panetta says, will take precautions to insure that rendered suspects are treated humanely, as the law requires,” Mayer writes. She quotes Panetta as saying, “I’ve talked to the State Department, and our people have to make very sure that people won’t be mistreated. Some places, obviously, it’s more difficult to do. But we’re going to have to press to make sure it doesn’t happen, because it would fly in the face of everything the President has said we stand for.” 

To which Mayer adds, “The Bush Administration professed to be taking similar precautions.” Mayer notes during the Bush years, “some of the most horrific allegations of abuse were made by detainees rendered not to black sites but to Egypt, Syria, and Morocco.”
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Passing: Michael Jackson Dies in Los Angeles

Passing: Michael Jackson
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Palestine/Israel: Changing the Narrative

Palestinian Violence Overstated, Jewish Violence Understated:
Time to Change the Story
by Ira Chernus
The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.

How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, "a narrative is the key to everything." Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.

Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the U.S. government to take such a position.

Those numbers reflect the narrative that President Obama recited in Cairo on June 4th. He chided the Israelis for a few things they are doing wrong -- like expanding settlements and blockading Gaza. To the other side, though, his message was far blunter: "Palestinians must abandon violence."
Of Israeli violence he said not a word.
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David Suzuki and the Green Police

Home Invasion David Suzuki Style
by Tom Adams
The bill to create the Ontario Green Energy Act, when first introduced, would have empowered government agents to enter private homes to investigate energy and water usage. Many prominent environmental organizations endorsed the Act while it included raid provisions. 

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"Coat Hanger" Coulter Stoops to New Low

Puff Pundit Ann Coulter Stoops to New Low
by Diane Walsh
No surprise to see the woman-hating chauvinist Ann Coulter all but bum-to-bum with Bill O’Reilly,  the infamous-of-infamous chauvinists, on none other than Fox News.

On June 22, 2009, true to character, being nothing but slam, Fox aired the dubious program “Left-Wing Cause Célèbre”. What was surprising was what the cutting Missy said.

"I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester."— Ann Coulter.
Was Coulter arrested perpetrating a hate crime?  I’ll let you guess at that answer.

Paddy wagons aside, there is other mouth-gaping news to recount from this past month.  
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Disappearing Pakistan: Drones over the Swat

Now We See You, Now We Don’t
by Kathy Kelly
In early June, 2009, I was in the Shah Mansoor displaced persons camp in Pakistan, listening to one resident detail the carnage which had spurred his and his family’s flight there a mere 15 days earlier.  Their city, Mingora, had come under massive aerial bombardment. He recalled harried efforts to bury corpses found on the roadside even as he and his neighbors tried to organize their families to flee the area.  

“They were killing us in that way, there,” my friend said. Then, gesturing to the rows of tents stretching as far as the eye could see, he added, “Now, in this way, here.”

The people in the tent encampment suffered very harsh conditions.  They were sleeping on the ground without mats, they lacked water for bathing, the tents were unbearably hot, and they had no idea whether their homes and shops in Mingora were still standing.  But, the suffering they faced had only just begun.

UN humanitarian envoy Abdul Aziz Arrukban warned on June 22nd that the millions of Pakistanis displaced during the military’s offensive against the Swat Valley would “die slowly” unless the international community started taking notice of the “unprecedented” scope of the crisis. (Jason Ditz, Anti-War.com)
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Turning Tide on Run of River

Special report from the road by Gwen Barlee, National Policy Director with the Wilderness Committee
by Wilderness Committee
Hi everyone, I have very limited time at a computer, and will not have access to  one until I am back in Vancouver but here goes: Last night, the Wilderness Committee attended a public meeting on the  contentious Glacier Howser private power project in the West  Kootenays. The meeting was held in a gymnasium at J.V. Humphries  School in Kaslo, a tiny town in BC’s Interior nestled in the green  slopes of the Purcell Mountains.

When we pulled into town, we weren't sure how many people would  attend the open house put on by the BC Environmental Assessment  Office (EAO) and the project's proponent AXOR.
Holding the meeting in Kaslo was controversial because the EAO  refused to have a meeting in Nelson, BC (Population 9,258) which is a  more populated and centrally located Kootenay town. Many area  residents felt the decision to hold the meeting in Kaslo was an  attempt by the EAO and AXOR to keep the meeting small and manageable  Lee-Ann Unger from the West Kootenay Eco-Society, a local  organization which had worked hard to raise awareness about the event  looked a little dejected. There were just a few cars sprinkled about,  and several people milling around outside.

Gradually, though, people started to trickle into the parking lot:  young families with children, kayakers from Nelson, concerned Kaslo  residents, local BC Wildlife Federation members, loggers, fishers,  hunters, hippies and business people. People came with signs and petitions, and an urgent concern about the fate of Glacier Howser Creeks and the 600 other creeks and rivers in  BC that have been staked by private power companies.
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Look Up, Look Down: Raytheon Releases RAID

Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's a Raytheon Spy Blimp!
by Tom Burghardt
As the American republic's long death-spiral continues apace, newer and ever more insidious technologies usher us towards an age of high-tech barbarism.
"At first glance" Newsweek reveals, "there was nothing special about the blimp floating high above the cars and crowd at this year's Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend."

"Nothing special" that is, until you took a closer look. What you then discovered was another quintessentially American innovation, all the more chilling for its bland ubiquity. A silent, hovering sentinel linking commerce and repression; a perfect trope for our ersatz democracy. "Like most airships" Newsweek continued, "it acted as an advertising vehicle."

But the real promo should have been for the blimp's creator, Raytheon, the security company best known for its weapons systems. Hidden inside the 55-foot-long white balloon was a powerful surveillance camera adapted from the technology Raytheon provides the U.S. military.
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