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Policing Dissent

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When Boston Police spy on free speech, democracy suffers

… We now have proof of what peace groups and activists have long suspected: Boston Police officers have worked within the local fusion spying center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), to monitor the lawful political activity of local peace groups and track their movements and beliefs. This information has been retained in searchable electronic “intelligence” reports bearing labels such as “Groups – Civil Disturbance,” “Groups–Extremists,” “HomeSec-Domestic” under the heading “Criminal Act.” …

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Video | 1 Comment

Israel Lobby Threatens Church Groups With Congressional Investigation Over Call for Restricting U.S. Military Aid

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | October 18, 2012

A coalition of U.S. church groups recently made public a letter which called upon the U.S. government to condition future military aid to Israel on its fulfillment of obligations under U.S. law.  The statement was intended to express criticism of Israel’s use of U.S. weapons like cluster bombs in violation of our law and noted that U.S. military assistance provided Israel a buffer against undertaking any actions to advance a just and lasting peace.  For example, its settlement policy, refusal to return to 1967 borders, and refusal to share Jerusalem, all directly contradict international law and stated U.S. policy.

Though these church groups have been critical of Israeli policy in the past, threatening to lobby for withholding military aid would really cut the Israel lobby to the quick,  as it’s a position held by a number of anti-Zionist groups that are much farther to the left.  The fact that mainline Christian denominations, who generally support liberal Zionist positions, would be moving in a more critical direction has to be deeply concerning to the lobby.

Though they refuse to consider or acknowledge it, such a development indicates a growing alienation of American churches from Israel and the draconian positions advanced by its government.  The churches are willing to lose their interfaith dialogue with the Jewish community over such an issue, which indicates how seriously they take their opposition to the Netanyahu regime.

First to lash out in anger was (typically) Abe Foxman followed by one of Israel’s leading hasbara outfits, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.  It appears to be taking the lead in “handling” the BDS efforts of a number of the Christian denominations.  As such, it’s a key player in Israel’s campaign against so-called “delegitimization.”  Those guys at JCPA play hardball.  Not content merely to criticize the churches, they lashed out at the “anti-Judaism” elements within their ranks.  They used terms like “vicious anti-Zionism,” “relentless attacks on the Jewish state,” and “delegitimizers of Israel” to up the ante and level of vitriol.  They also threatened to call out the Congressional dogs through mounting investigations of the groups themselves:

“JCPA is considering as a response asking Congress to investigate delegitimizers of Israel and to issue a resolution against their efforts.”

I’m not sure what this is supposed to gain the lobby.  Do they think that parishioners will be mortified to find their particular denomination is called out by name in a Congressional resolution?  Should these groups then call on their particular Congressional allies to respond tit for tat?

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , | 4 Comments

Mapuche protest demands removal of statue of “the man guilty of the greatest genocide”

MercoPress | October 17th 2012

Members from the indigenous Mapuche community in Patagonia protested angrily at the south Argentina resort of Bariloche demanding that a statue in honour of President General Julio A Roca be removed since “he was responsible for the greatest genocide in our history”.

Although the original motive of the protest was the delay in the building of a cooperative housing complex, demonstrators aired their fury against the equestrian statue of the man who led what is known in Argentine history as ‘the conquest of the desert (Patagonia)’ which he accomplished with no mercy or consideration for indigenous peoples among which the Mapuche who live on both sides of the Andes cordillera.

Roca with a long military career referred to the conquest as the “frontier problem” and effectively put under government control all land up to the Rio Negro in a campaign that as he promised would “extinguish, subdue or expel” the Indian inhabitants. These land conquests would also strengthen Argentina’s strategic position against Chile that was advancing from the extreme south but at the time was engaged in the Pacific War against Peru and Bolivia.

Due to his military successes and the massive territorial gains linked with them, Roca later became Argentine president.

The protestors during the demonstration in downtown Bariloche put up a sign on the statue saying “Roca murderer” and called for the removal of the bronze since “it represents nobody in this community”.

“Many of our cooperative members are of Mapuche origin and the presence of the statue is offensive since this man slaughtered their ancestors”, said the protestors.

They went further and tied leather straps to the statue and tried to saw the horse’s legs and started pulling but police intervened followed by incidents.

Scuffles continued, before fearful tourists, until the protestors were received at Town Hall by Mayor Omar Goye who was also present with the Rio Negro province Social development minister Ernesto Paillalef.

Mayor Goye promised he would study the possibility of sending an initiative to the local Council to remove the Roca statue to somewhere else less prominent in the resort.

Authorities and protestors then marched to the main square next to Town Hall and had an open discussion on the cooperative housing construction delay and jobs for the region with some government funded employment plans considered.

Bariloche and surrounding areas which depend on tourism and livestock suffered greatly with the ash blanket that covered the area for months following the eruption of a Chilean volcano in the Andes next to the border earlier this year.

October is an especially distressing month for indigenous people ever more aware of their current conditions but proud of their ancestry, on both sides, Chile and Argentina, particularly because Europeans celebrate the discovery of the Americas by Columbus. For the indigenous peoples it is no celebration, it is “the last day of freedom”.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mapuche protest demands removal of statue of “the man guilty of the greatest genocide”

UN should urge Israel to stop violating international law: NAM

Mehr News Agency | October 17, 2012

TEHRAN – In a statement read out at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday, Iran and other members of the Non-Aligned Movement called on the UN Security Council to act and demand that Israel immediately stop violating international law.

The statement was read out by the Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, on behalf of the NAM member states, during an open debate about the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.

Iran assumed the rotating presidency of NAM for a three-year term on August 30.

Following are excerpts of the text of Khazaee’s speech:

The Non-Aligned Movement remains firm in its conviction of the urgent need for the international community to act resolutely and collectively to fulfill its longstanding commitment to, and responsibility for, the realization of a just solution to the question of Palestine in all its aspects on the basis of international law and the terms of reference of the peace process, including the resolutions of the council.

The movement remains resolute to continue assisting the Palestinian people in their legitimate quest for dignity, justice, and their inalienable right to self-determination in their independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This issue is long overdue and its continued postponement will only put that goal further out of reach.

The movement supports fully the application submitted by Palestine on 23 September 2011, for membership in the United Nations and considers it to be consistent with the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence.

The movement remains concerned about the ongoing and intensifying acts of violence, terrorism, and racist hate crimes, demolition of houses, revocation of residency, attacks on towns and villages across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, excavations under Al-Aqsa Mosque and storming the Mosque compound, firing stun grenades at Palestinian worshipers, the latest of which took place on Friday 5 October 2012 causing many injuries among Palestinian worshipers as well as the uprooting of olive and other trees by illegal Israeli settlers.

The Non-Aligned Movement expresses grave concern regarding the deteriorating situation and deplorable conditions of thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees unlawfully held in Israeli jails and detention centers, including at least 300 children as well as women and elected officials, and calls for their immediate release.

The Non-Aligned Movement reiterates its call for the Security Council to act and demand that Israel, the occupying power, immediately ceases all such violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, and fully abides by its legal obligations, including those under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s blatant impunity and disregard for the law cannot be tolerated.

Turning to Lebanon, the Movement condemns Israel’s ongoing violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and calls on all parties concerned to fully implement resolution 1701 (2006), in order to end the current fragility and avoid the resurgence of hostilities.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Argentina takes Falklands sovereignty claim complaint to the Security Council

MercoPress | October 18, 2012

The Argentine Foreign ministry said in an official release on Wednesday that the UN Security Council had received, and incorporated to its agenda, a formal complaint on the UK’s latest military exercises in the Falkland Islands.

“The presidency of the Security Council incorporated as official document, and distributed among its members, the complaint letter that Foreign Minister Hector Timerman addressed to the council on 5 October” pointed out the release.

The document denounces “the unilateral military activities in which the UK is involved and includes the launching of missiles from the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, scheduled for October 18/19”.

The letter from Timerman and distributed among Security Council members says that the coming exercises follow on those of last July and show the UK’s ongoing contempt towards the calls from the international community to end the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands in a peaceful and definitive way.

“With these exercises which continue to our days, an unnecessary tension is generated which is an affront to all those countries from the region that practice a full, effective peace commitment”.

Argentina emphasizes that the fact “the UK is a permanent member of the Security Council does not exempt it of its international obligations”.

Furthermore, “the Security Council chair and the privileges it entails, demands a special responsibility as a guarantor of international peace and security, which the UK avoids by refusing to dialogue with Argentina and with the perpetuation of actions as those described afore”.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on Argentina takes Falklands sovereignty claim complaint to the Security Council

US missile defense: ‘global, mobile and threatening’ – Russia

RT | October 18, 2012

NATO’s missile defense system presents a threat to Russia’s national security and may trigger the militarization of Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation on Thursday.

“This missile defense concept is global and mobile, and it creates unpredictability,” Rogozin said at a meeting with NATO officials at the Federation Council. “That is the real Figaro; Figaro here and Figaro there.”

Rogozin said Moscow is “awaiting explanations from NATO and Washington concerning the real purpose [of the system],” he stressed.

The Deputy Prime Minister remarked on the military defense components “that are being deployed around Norway, the bases in Romania,” which are aimed at intercepting “strategic rockets according to speed, range and altitude characteristics.”

Rogozin then mentioned the US naval group – the core of European missile defense – which “may be deployed in European ports rather far from the Russian territory (such as a base in Spain).”

However, “the same fleet will invariably appear in our northern seas under particular circumstances.”

“The radius of use of these weapons makes them a real threat to us,” Rogozin noted. “The strategic potential of Russia is a guarantee of its sovereignty and independence.”

The US missile defense system, first shelved then repackaged under the Obama administration, has been a thorn in the side of the Russia-US reset. Indeed, Russia has warned that the issue has all the potential to escalate into another arms race.

If new threats to Russia’s strategic potential appear, Russia will simply have to consider the threatening prospect of a militarized Europe.

Rogozin implored the NATO delegation not to push Russia into a position where it will be forced to respond.

“We request you don’t do that,” he stressed. “The Russian response has a…political and diplomatic nature at the moment, but you will not like the technical response we may have to pursue under certain circumstances.”

Although the Vice Premier said Russia has no reason to fear for the security of its western borders, he acknowledged there are threats that both Russia and the European Union share alike.

“We see new threats arising in Russia and European countries and… these threats are practically identical to both you and us,” Rogozin told the NATO delegation. “Russia is not an exporter of such threats to NATO states, and we can hardly reproach NATO for the presence of such threats.”

Russia regards the European Union as its unconditional strategic partner and Moscow is not interested in any conflicts or controversies disrupting the bilateral partnership, he stressed.

“The 21st century should…represent the revival of Russia’s full-scale presence in Europe’s common political affairs, which would be of much benefit both for Russia and Europe,” he declared.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on US missile defense: ‘global, mobile and threatening’ – Russia

114,000 US contractors active in Afghan war

Press TV – October 18, 2012

There are currently more private contractors working for the US military and other government agencies in Afghanistan than uniformed American military troops, reports indicate.

As of July, nearly 114,000 contractors were working for the US Defense Department in Afghanistan, compared to the 90,000 American troops in the country at the time, AFP reported Thursday, quoting “official statistics.”

The figures about the presence of a high number of US contractors working in Afghanistan emerged again after reports of a newly-released video showing American security contractors drunk and high on narcotics while on duty.

The US-based broadcaster ABC News, which released the footage and first reported on the incident, also cited a February 2011 report by a bipartisan commission set up to scrutinize the extraordinary use of contractors by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan which concluded that the United States had wasted tens of billions of the nearly $177 billion that was spent on those contracts and grants since 2002.

The report, titled “At What Risk? Correcting Over-reliance on Contractors in Contingency Operations,” also stated that “about 200,000 contractor employees are working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” roughly equal to the American military forces deployed there in years prior to the report.

Numerous other reports verify such figures and also emphasize the relatively high number of casualties among the US contract workers that are often not reported and not accounted for.

According to official statistics released by Pentagon in May 2010, the total number of US military contractors working in Afghanistan, Iraq and its Central Command (covering the Middle East region) were 250,335, of which over 112,000 worked in Afghanistan, nearly 96,000 worked in Iraq and about 43,000 worked for the US Central Command (USCENTCOM).

The data also indicated that over 53,000 of the contractors were US citizens, 95,000 were third country nationals, and nearly 102,000 were locally employed.

Pointing to the relatively high number of casualty figures among US contractors working in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported earlier this year that in 2011 “at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan,” compared to 418 American soldiers killed in the country in the same year, adding that the same trend was also true during the US occupation of Iraq.

The report, however, emphasized that the US military does not keep track of the casualties suffered by its contractors, noting that the country’s Department of Labor would hold the data only for American casualties that have been reported by US contractors hiring them. It added that there is hardly any counting of casualties suffered by US contract workers that are citizens of other nations.

The Times report also stressed that for every contractor killed in countries invaded by the US, “many more are seriously wounded.” It cites Labor Department’s statistics as reporting that in addition to the 430 contractors reported killed in Afghanistan in 2011, another 1,777 American contractors in the country got wounded.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Comments Off on 114,000 US contractors active in Afghan war