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Impending Charges? Tarek and John in their own words

Free Tarek Loubani & John Greyson | September 28, 2013

We have held on to this statement out of fear that the Egyptian authorities would harm Tarek and John if we released it. But given the announcement of impending charges in the Toronto Star today, we think that their own words can explain what the “evidence” the Egyptian authorities claim to have is. We believe that the impending charges have much more to do with what Tarek and John witnessed on August 16th, rather than what the Egyptian authorities claim they did.

Statement:

“We are on the 12th day of our hunger strike at Tora, Cairo’s main prison, located on the banks of the Nile. We’ve been held here since August 16 in ridiculous conditions: no phone calls, little to no exercise, sharing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other political prisoners, sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches; sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water.

“We never planned to stay in Egypt longer than overnight. We arrived in Cairo on the 15th with transit visas and all the necessary paperwork to proceed to our destination: Gaza. Tarek volunteers at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and brings people with him each time. John intended to shoot a short film about Tarek’s work.

“Because of the coup, the official Rafah border was opening and closing randomly, and we were stuck in Cairo for the day. We were carrying portable camera gear (one light, one microphone, John’s HD Canon, two Go-Pros) and gear for the hospital (routers for a much-needed wifi network and two disassembled toy-sized helicopters for testing the transportation of medical samples).

“Because of the protests in Ramses Square and around the country on the 16th, our car couldn’t proceed to Gaza. We decided to check out the Square, five blocks from our hotel, carrying our passports and John’s HD camera. The protest was just starting – peaceful chanting, the faint odour of tear gas, a helicopter lazily circling overhead – when suddenly calls of “doctor”. A young man carried by others from God-knows-where, bleeding from a bullet wound. Tarek snapped into doctor mode…and started to work doing emergency response, trying to save lives, while John did video documentation, shooting a record of the carnage that was unfolding. The wounded and dying never stopped coming. Between us, we saw over fifty Egyptians die: students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed. We later learned the body count for the day was 102.

“We left in the evening when it was safe, trying to get back to our hotel on the Nile. We stopped for ice cream. We couldn’t find a way through the police cordon though, and finally asked for help at a check point.

“That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist’, slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing CPR, or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed ‘Canadian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.

“We were two of 602 arrested that night, all 602 potentially facing the same grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson, conspiracy, terrorism, possession of weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking a police station. The arrest stories of our Egyptian cellmates are remarkably similar to ours: Egyptians who were picked up on dark streets after the protest, by thugs or cops, blocks or miles from the police station that is the alleged site of our alleged crimes.

“We’ve been here in Tora prison for six weeks, and are now in a new cell (3.5m x 5.5m) that we share with ‘only’ six others. We’re still sleeping on concrete with the cockroaches, and still share a single tap of Nile water, but now we get (almost) daily exercise and showers. Still no phone calls. The prosecutor won’t say if there’s some outstanding issue that’s holding things up. The routers, the film equipment, or the footage of Tarek treating bullet wounds through that long bloody afternoon? Indeed, we would welcome our day in a real court with the real evidence, because then this footage would provide us with our alibi and serve as a witness to the massacre.

“We deserve due process, not cockroaches on concrete. We demand to be released.

“Peace, John & Tarek”

CONTACT: Cecilia Greyson, cgreysonATgmail.com, Justin Podur, justinATpodur.org

HOW TO HELP JOHN & TAREK

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Gregory Jaczko: The Ongoing Fukushima Daiichi Crisis

PRESS CONFERENCE 9/24/13 Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan

Gregory Jaczko, Former Chairman,US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Torgen Johnson,Citizens’ Representative, San Diego Forum
Tetsuro Tsutsui,Member, Nuclear Regulation Sub-committee,
Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy (CCNE) /
Nuclear Power Plant Technical Experts’ Group

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Political Moves: How Dianne Feinstein Cut Off One Of The Few Attempts At Actual Oversight By Senate Intelligence Committee

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | September 27, 2013

We’ve already covered how Dianne Feinstein used the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to play games with the English language, while Senator Dan Coats used it to rant against all you stupid Americans for not trusting the NSA, but there have been some actual attempts to have the Senate Intelligence Committee perform its actual duty of oversight. Both Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall — who have been trying to raise these questions for years — actually had specific questions for the assembled panel, but the panel (mainly Keith Alexander) did its best to completely avoid answering the questions, then used political gamesmanship to block Wyden from asking followups.

Wyden used his question to highlight what he’s been hinting at for years, that it’s almost certain that the NSA has collected bulk data on the locations of Americans (something not yet officially revealed, and which they’ve sort of tried to deny for a while). Wyden has been asking versions of this question for a few years (and trying to pass legislation blocking this kind of thing for nearly as long). But watch how Keith Alexander never actually answers the question:

Wyden: Now with respect to questions, let me start with you Director Alexander, and, as you all know, I will notify you in advance so that there won’t be any surprise about the types of issues we are going to get into. And Director Alexander, Senators Udall, Heinrich and I and about two dozen other senators have asked in the past whether the NSA has ever collected or made any plans to collect Americans’ cell-site information in bulk. What would be your response to that?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Senator, on July 25, Director Clapper provided a non-classified written response to this question amongst others, as well as a classified supplement with additional detail. Allow me to reaffirm what was stated in that unclassified response. Under section 215, NSA is not receiving cell-site location data and has no current plans to do so. As you know, I indicated to this committee on October 20, 2011, that I would notify Congress of NSA’s intent to obtain cell-site location data prior to any such plans being put in place. As you may also be aware….

Note the word games: “under Section 215.” He does not say whether they’ve used some other authority to do so. And then he’s just repeating talking points so Wyden flat out cuts him off:

Wyden: General, if I might. I think we’re all familiar with it. That’s not the question I’m asking. Respectfully, I’m asking, has the NSA ever collected or ever made any plans to collect Americans’ cell-site information. That was the question and we, respectfully General, have still not gotten an answer to it. Could you give me an answer to that?

Alexander: We did. We sent that — as you’re also aware I expressly reaffirmed this commitment to the committee on June 25, 2013. Finally, in the most recent and now declassified opinion renewing this program, the FISA court made clear in footnote number five that notice to the court in a briefing would be required if the government were to seek production of cell-site location information as part of the bulk production of call detail records. Additional details were also provided in the classified supplement to Director Clapper’s July 25th response to this question. So what I don’t want to do, Senator, is put out in an unclassified forum anything that’s classified there so I’m reading to you exactly. So we sent both of these to you. I saw what Director Clapper sent and I agree with it.

Wyden: General, if you’re responding to my question by not answering it because you think that’s a classified matter that is certainly your right. We will continue to explore that because I believe this is something the American people have a right to know whether the NSA has ever collected or made plans to collect cell-site information. I understand your answer. I’ll have additional questions on the next round. Thank you, Madam Chair.

First off, Alexander’s answer shows that, contrary to the assertions of some staunch NSA defenders, it is entirely possible to answer a question by saying “there is more information in classified documents that shouldn’t be shared in an open setting.” Some have tried to excuse James Clapper’s lies to Congress by suggesting he couldn’t have said more or less what Alexander said here.

Second, note the doublespeak that Alexander is engaged in here. Even asked, again, to answer the basic question, Alexander pulls an “under this program” type of answer, suggesting (again) that American location data either has been, or is planned, to be collected in bulk. That is worrisome, and should not be classified information. Rather it should be open to public debate as to whether or not it’s appropriate.

But here’s where the political gamesmanship came in. Committee chair Dianne Feinstein gave Senators only five minutes each for their questions. It seemed like a majority of this “oversight” committee didn’t actually ask any questions, but rather, like Coats, simply filibustered angrily at the American public or press for not trusting the NSA. But when actual questions were asked, not enough time was given to get a straight answer. At the very end of the hearing, after most of the other Senators had left, Senator Wyden made a perfectly normal request: could he ask his followup questions. He noted that he just had two questions and both could be asked within an additional five-minute window. Senator Susan Collins, who had similarly filibustered during her own five minutes (focusing mainly on knocking down a complete strawman: falsely insisting that people were upset that the NSA was using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to record all phone calls, when everyone knows that it’s just about call records, not call contents), objected to Wyden’s request because she thought everything would go in order. It was pure political gamesmanship.

So instead of getting to conduct more actual oversight by having the committee ask important questions of the surveillance bosses, the panel, instead, moved on to the “second part” of the hearing, which involved two staunch non-governmental NSA defenders who basically sat down to talk about the awesomeness of being able to spy on everyone. Ben Wittes opened with a “joke” about how the NSA’s director of compliance John DeLong, mocked the level of scrutiny the NSA was under by pointing out that if he had typos in a document he’d have to reveal that to some oversight authority. Har har. This was useless. There was no reason to have them testify, and they were given a hell of a lot more time than the Senators actually asking questions.

That time could have been used to actually conduct oversight. Instead, we got nothing. Throughout the panel Senators pointed out that the American public doesn’t trust the NSA right now (though, they often blamed the public and the press for this, rather than the direct actions and statements of the NSA). If they wanted a lesson in how not to build up that trust, holding a completely toothless “oversight” hearing was a pretty good start.

After Wyden, Udall also asked some specific questions, in which the deputy Attorney General basically just repeated the FISA Court ruling saying that “relevant” has been redefined by the intelligence community to mean basically anything that the intelligence community feels is “necessary” to its investigations, and seems to think that it’s a good thing that this is a “low bar.” He completely ignores the basics of the 4th Amendment, as well as recent Supreme Court decisions on the topic.

I’ve included the video of both Wyden and Udall’s questions below, so you can see the less than 20 minutes of the two-hour session where actual serious questions were asked.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘US lobbyists seek to hinder positive process on Iran’

Press TV – September 28, 2013

A political analyst has warned of efforts by anti-Iran political figures and the Israeli lobby in the US to impede the positive process which has begun on the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

In a Friday interview with Press TV, Danny Schechter pointed to Iran’s successful Thursday talks with the six world powers over the issues surrounding Tehran’s nuclear energy program and the positive change in Washington’s tone about the Islamic Republic, saying extremist groups in the US, including “the Tea Party people” as well as the Israeli lobby will launch a campaign to obstruct the new positive process regarding Tehran’s peaceful nuclear work.

“Iran has surprised and put the rest of the world off guard, so to speak … Iran was not only very sophisticated but it was also very, as they say, constructive in establishing some parameters to continued discussion,” he said.

“I think there is a desire on the part of a lot of the parties and the people of the world to see this conflict if not ended certainly adjudicated in some sort of fair way and the fact that that the process has begun is quite amazing. I do not think anybody a week ago whether believes that it was even possible,” Schechter pointed out.

On Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his American counterpart Barack Obama held a telephone conversation as the Iranian president was wrapping up his visit to New York.

The phone conversation is the first direct communication between Iranian and US presidents since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The two heads of states stressed Tehran and Washington’s political will to swiftly resolve the West’s dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program, and exchanged viewpoints on various topics, including cooperation on different regional issues.

During the telephone conversation, Rouhani and Obama also assigned Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry to quickly set the stage for cooperation between the two counties.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran has categorically rejected the allegation, stressing that as a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Video | , , | Leave a comment

Child Shot In The Eye In Hebron

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | September 28, 2013

Palestinian medical sources have reported that a seven-year-old child lost his right eye after being shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by an Israeli soldier in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday.

The sources added that the child’s mother was also shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet in her shoulder.

The mother and her child were trying to return to the refugee camp; they were far from clashes taking place between the soldiers and local youths.

Eyewitnesses said that the mother and her child were trying to cross a road in an attempt to find a way back to their home after the army closed the main entrance of the camp.

Nasser Qabaja, head of the Disasters Unit at the Red Crescent in the southern part of the West Bank, stated that an ambulance transferred the child from Abu Al-Hasan Hospital to the Hebron Governmental Hospital, before moving him to the St. John Eye Hospital in occupied Jerusalem.

Furthermore, dozens of soldiers occupied rooftops of a number of homes in the area, and fired gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets leading to a large number of injuries, mainly due to the effect of teargas inhalation.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

UN Security Council unanimously adopts Syria resolution

RT | September 28, 2013

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining the details of taking under international control and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal.

“Today’s historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote.

The Syrian sides must engage constructively in the upcoming Geneva 2 conference, which would be a significant step towards the “creation of a democratic state that guarantees the human rights of all in Syria,” Moon said in his address to the Council.   

“The regional actors have a responsibility to challenge those who will actively undermine the process and those who do not fully respect Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he added.

The target date for a new peace conference in Geneva was set for mid-November. However, the Syrian opposition should be represented at the Geneva peace talks in a single delegation, the Secretary-General said.

The adopted resolution calls for consequences if inspectors decide that Syria has failed to fulfill its obligations. The nature of the reaction, however, will depend on another resolution which would have to be passed in the event of non-compliance.

‘The resolution does not fall under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and does not allow any automatic enforcement of coercive measures,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the Security Council vote.

The UN Security Council resolution on chemical weapons in Syria will have to be observed not only by the Syrian authorities, but also by the opposition, Lavrov stressed.

“The responsibility for the implementation of this resolution does not only lie on the government of Syria,” he said.

The chemical weapons resolution on Syria establishes a framework for overcoming the ongoing political crisis. According to Lavrov, the Syrian opposition is also obliged to work with international experts as required by the Security Council resolution.

“We hope that more and more scattered groups of the  Syrian opposition will finally be able – as the Syrian government has already done for a long time – to declare its readiness to participate in an international conference without preconditions,” Lavrov said.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, however, stated in his speech that only the “Assad regime carries the burden of meeting the terms of this agreement,” telling the international community that inspections will begin by November.

“Syria cannot select or reject the inspectors. Syria must give those inspectors unfettered access to any and all sites and any and all people,” he said, adding that the weapons should be destroyed by mid-2014.

He also warned that “should the regime fail to act, there will be consequences.”

”This resolution makes clear that those responsible for this heinous act must be held accountable,” said Kerry.

French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, has also put all the blame and responsibility on the Syrian government, saying it is “clear all the evidence points to the regime and no one of good faith can deny this.” 

“France as others especially the United States of America took its responsibilities, and we consider that standing firm has paid off,” he said, suggesting that only the threat of imminent military action forced President Assad to give up his chemical weapons stockpiles.

The groundbreaking UNSC resolution not only recognizes that any use of chemical weapons is a threat to international peace and security, but also “upholds the principle of accountability for this proven use of chemical weapons” by the Syrian regime, said William Hague, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

“[The resolution] imposes legally binding and enforceable obligations on the Syrian regime to comply with the OPCW decision,” Hague said. “This establishes an important international norm, which is essential in the wake of the Syrian regime appalling actions on the 21 August.”

Australian UN ambassador and the current president of the Security council Gary Quinlan noted that importantly, the resolution “reaffirms that those who perpetrated this mass atrocity crime against their own citizens must be held accountable for their actions.”   

“Australia’s assessment is that the evidence available shows that it was the Syrian authority who were responsible for this crime and this incident has confirmed what Australia had said for a long time, that the Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court,” Quinlan said.

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said the resolution holds all parties in Syria equally responsible for the elimination of chemical weapons, including rebel forces. However some member of the Security Council are trying to sabotage the effort, Jaafari stated after the adoption of the historical document.

“It is regrettable that some delegations have begun adopting a negative interpretation of the resolution in order to derail it from its lofty purposes,” Jaafari said.

He also pointed out that the United States, France,Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar must commit to the document and be held accountable if they continue to arm the rebels.

“You can’t bring terrorists from all over the world and send them into Syria in the name of jihad and then pretend that you are working for peace,” Jaafari said.

He reiterated that Damascus is “fully committed” to attending November’s Geneva 2 conference.

The Council’s vote came shortly after a consensus had been reached earlier on Friday by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in regards to the proposal.

The five veto-wielding members had agreed upon the text on Thursday before presenting the draft to the full 15-member body during overnight discussions. The draft resolution is fully in line with the Geneva framework on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, Sergey Lavrov told the press earlier on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s 68th session.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan calls to condemn American “denial” of visa to president Bashir

Sudan Tribune | September 27, 2013

KHARTOUM/WASHINGTON – Sudan’s foreign minister has called on the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the United States “denial of entry visa” to the Sudanese president Omer Al Bashir, as the foreign ministry in Khartoum summoned the American chargé d’affaires to protest the delay on the same day.

“It is with deep regret I inform you of the refusal by the authorities of the United States to give an entry visa to president Omer Al Bashir and his delegation”, said minister Ali Karti, in a speech on Friday before the Assembly general.

The Sudanese top diplomat described Washington’s position as “a very serious precedent in the history of the United Nations”, adding “it requires a firm position be taken on this matter” by all the UN membership.

He also called on the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to react against “this denial of legitimate right” and to protect the rights of the member states under the agreement signed with the host country.

U.S. State Department officials said recently that Bashir’s visa demand is “pending” stressing that there are different considerations to be taken into account on this regard.

“There are a lot of considerations going into this request, including the outstanding warrant against him (Al-Bashir)” further said Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokesperson on Friday 20 September.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court which issued two arrest warrants against him for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

Rights groups said they would legally seek his arrest if he arrives on American soil, and also the ICC urged the American administration to cooperate with the court and to arrest him.

SUDAN SUMMONS U.S. CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES

In Khartoum, the foreign affairs ministry summoned the American chargé d’affaires on Friday to formally protest against delaying the issuance of the entry visa for president Bashir to participate in the meetings of the 68th session of the UNGA.

In a statement released on Friday, the foreign ministry said that Ambassador Joseph Stafford was summoned to officially protest the “U.S. administration’s procrastination” in issuing a visa to the Sudanese president.

Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, deputy undersecretary of the foreign ministry told Stafford that the non-issuance of the visa “so far disrupted the vital national interests of the Sudan”.

Bashir had to take part in a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the relations between Sudan and South Sudan, he also wanted to deliver a speech to the UNGA.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment