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Turkish police use tear gas to disperse protest against new internet controls

RT | February 8, 2014

Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters rallying against “draconian” internet laws approved by parliament.

Police approached the crowd along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue and fired water cannons from behind armored vehicles as protesters tried to march to the city’s main square.

“Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption,” protesters chanted.

As riot police fired water cannons at protesters, some of them responded by throwing stones or setting off fireworks aimed at law enforcement officers.

The new bill was passed late Wednesday by the parliament dominated by the Erdogan’s AKP party.

If the president approves the legislation, it would give authorities the power to block web pages without a court order within just hours.

It would also require internet service providers (ISPs) to store data on their clients’ online activities for two years and provide it to the authorities on request.

However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected any possibility that the regulations would allow authorities to have access to internet users’ personal information.

“Never. It is out of the question that people’s private data will be recorded,” he said in Istanbul on Saturday.

The opposition says the move is part of a government bid to stifle a corruption scandal and accuses the government of limiting Internet freedoms.

Erdogan denies accusations of censorship, saying the legislation would make the internet “more safe and free.”

“These regulations do not impose any censorship at all on the Internet … On the contrary, they make it safer and freer,” he said.

Prepared by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, the bill provoked mass rallies in mid-January, shortly after it was announced. The protest was dispersed by riot police who used water cannons and tear gas against hundreds of opponents of the bill.

The bill amends Law No. 5651, widely known as Turkey’s Internet Law that came into effect in July 2007.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Honduras and Mexico: Open Season for Journalists

By Nick Alexandrov | CounterPunch | February 7, 2014

Last December, the New York Times’ David Carr reported on Vice President Biden’s trip to China, where he “spoke plainly about the role of a free press in a democratic society.”  The benighted audience was surely keen to learn about this Western institution, and “it was heartening to see the White House at the forefront of the effort to ensure an unfettered press,” Carr affirmed.  No doubt.  Down here on Earth, meanwhile, Washington has long been at the forefront of an effort to promote cultural devastation, targeting journalists, artists, and independent thinkers more generally. This cultural ruin is a predictable consequence of U.S. support for repressive regimes—a tradition Obama has worked hard to uphold.

Consider the June 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which four School of the Americas graduates helped orchestrate. Even the attorney responsible for giving it a legal veneer admitted the ouster was “a crime,” and in its aftermath Obama recognized Porfirio Lobo, winner of a fraudulent election marred by political violence and ballot irregularities, as the country’s new leader. Now, Honduran journalists are weathering a “deluge of threats, attacks and targeted killings,” PEN International reported recently. Honduran “economic elites have established unwritten limits as to what can be investigated by major news agencies,” and independent journalists face similar restrictions.  Whoever ignores these limits pays the ultimate price.

Nahúm Palacios “opposed the 2009 coup and turned his TV station into an openly pro-opposition channel,” PEN notes. The military threatened him, but he persisted, and he and his girlfriend were murdered in March 2010. Israel Zelaya Díaz covered politics and crime, and managed a program aired on San Pedro Sula’s Radio Internacional. Assailants torched his home in May 2010, and then shot him to death three months later. A group of men stopped television producer Adán Benítez, who had put out a story on gang activity, in July 2011; they demanded his valuables, and then killed him. Medardo Flores Hernández was a volunteer reporter and finance minister for a pro-Zelaya organization when he was gunned down in September 2011. Early the following month, Obama received Honduran President Lobo at the White House, commending his “strong commitment to democracy.” Radio journalist Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, a coup critic, was murdered on December 6, 2011.

Mexican reporters are also at risk, as theirs “has become the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists,” Emily Edmonds-Poli wrote in a Wilson Center report last April, reviewing the situation in this “drug war” ally. In the state of Veracruz, for instance, there was a series, in the spring of 2012, of high-profile killings: a group of men invaded investigative reporter Regina Martínez’s home in Xalapa, and murdered her there. The dismembered bodies of three photojournalists pursuing stories on organized crime were discovered on the side of a highway four days later. “The fear is terrible and well founded,” an ex-reporter told the Guardian’s Jo Tuckman. “The heroes are in the cemetery.”  This woman is hardly the only one to have abandoned the profession. A university official in Veracruz, quoted by Edmonds-Poli, surveyed the corpse-strewn landscape: “It’s not that they’re just killing reporters, they’re killing the drive to become one.” The destructive effects are equally far-reaching in Honduras. PEN quotes Honduran activists who “stressed that the neglect, marginalization and underfunding of cultural spaces” have gutted the nation’s creative sector, sharply delimiting the range of questions to which artists and independent researchers can safely respond.

The Honduran and Mexican governments restrict inquiry with generous U.S. assistance. Both states have strong ties to organized crime: efforts to distinguish legitimate from outlaw Honduran institutions, for example, are often meaningless, given the government’s illicit origins in the June 2009 coup. “A representative from a leading NGO in Honduras says at least four high-ranking police officials head drug trafficking organizations,” InSight Crime’s Charles Parkinson wrote on January 29, and Honduran history reveals that such activity is no obstacle to continued U.S. funding. When a Reagan-era DEA agent amassed evidence implicating the country’s top military officials in prohibited activities, for instance, the organization responded by shutting down its Honduran office in 1983. At the time, Washington’s core concern was the vital role Honduras played in the anti-Sandinista crusade. Their ally’s involvement in drug-smuggling was a non-issue, as irrelevant then as today, when the projected 2014 U.S. governmental military and police aid is over 1.75 times the 2009 figure.

Mexican institutions resemble their Honduran counterparts: ties between political elites and organized crime can be traced back at least a century, and this connection was blatantly obvious by the 1970s. That was the decade the national intelligence arm—the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS)—aided by “the attorney general’s office and Federal Judicial Police,” established itself as “the country’s major criminal mafia,” Paul Kenny and Mónica Serrano point out.  U.S. officials knew DFS facilitated drug trafficking’s expansion, and “continued to defend and protect the agency” because it “played a central part in Mexico’s fight against left-wing subversion, both directly and through a death squad organized under [DFS head Miguel] Nazar’s supervision, the ‘White Brigade,’” Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall write. Years later, Mexican law enforcement committed “one out of every three crimes against journalists” from 2009-2011, Edmonds-Poli reports in her Wilson Center study. That three-year span overlaps with the period—between 2008 and 2010—when Washington “allocated over $1.5 billion to Mexico” via the Mérida Initiative, and “U.S. military and police aid in each of these years marked nearly a 10-fold increase over 2007 levels,” according to Witness for Peace. Obama then extended the program—a true Nobel Peace Laureate, reminiscent of luminaries like Henry Kissinger.

In June 1976, for example, Kissinger proclaimed his support for Argentina’s military dictatorship: “We have followed events in Argentina closely,” he stated.  “We wish the new government well. We wish it will succeed.” These remarks came six weeks after “military officers organized an exemplary event to combat immorality and communism,” Fernando Báez—author of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books—notes, when they burned volumes “confiscated from bookshops and libraries in the city of Córdoba,” loudly condemning Freud, Marx, Sartre and others. In August 1980, “trucks dumped 1.5 million books and pamphlets… on some vacant lots in the Sarandí neighborhood in Buenos Aires.” After a federal judge gave the command, “police agents doused the books with gasoline and set them on fire.  Photos were taken because the judge was afraid people might think the books were stolen and not burned.” The situation was much the same in neighboring Chile, under Pinochet, when “thousands of books were seized and destroyed” during his dictatorship.  In 1976, Kissinger met with Pinochet in Santiago, assuring him Washington was “sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.”

Washington also sympathized with South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, who in the late 1950s “banned works of fiction that presented the government in an unflattering light,” Joint Chiefs of Staff historian Willard J. Webb wrote. Diem thus proved himself a worthy heir to Pope John XXII, who in 1328 “ordered a book burned because it cast doubt on his omnipotence,” Báez observes, arguing that we have to look further back in time, to 1258, to comprehend the effects of the recent U.S. assault on Iraq. It was in the mid-13th century that “the troops of Hulagu, a descendant of Genghis Khan, invaded Baghdad and destroyed all its books by throwing them into the Tigris.” Hulagu’s particular form of savagery was unsurpassed until the U.S. occupation—“nation-building,” liberal commentators insist, but in reality just one case of Washington-supported cultural destruction.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holocaust Denial And Uncomfortable Truths

By Robin Davis | Countercurrents | June 6, 2009

It has always been those few who can see through the political correctness and hypocrisy of popular attitudes who are considered dangerous.

“Holocaust denial laws” are now in place in about a dozen countries. Defenders of these laws claim that the expression of unconventional views about the Jewish genocide is “hate speech” and “incitement to violence” and therefore must be suppressed.

But history shows the greatest purveyors of lies, hatred and incitement to violence are those with the power to spread their poison by manipulating popular opinion via the control or complicity of the mass media. Through a purposefully constructed lens of political correctness the despicable becomes normal. It is by this insidious process that tyrants make it normal and acceptable to murder those whom they consider threatening or inferior. We have only to turn on the television to see that process at work.

It is not the unpopular views we should fear but the popular.

When the suppression of free speech serves no purpose other than to silence unconventional opinions we should be alarmed. We should be even more alarmed when to question oppressive laws is to risk vilification, in this case by the smear of “Holocaust denier” and “anti-Semite”.

Appropriation of the term “The Holocaust” to the Nazi extermination of the Jews minimises the significance of other genocides, including those that are happening right now. Should these crimes also be closed to opinions that question the accuracy of the official “truth”?

Stifling open discussion and debate also does an injustice to the other millions of victims of the Nazi concentration camps: the Roma, Blacks, Polish and Russian prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and the mentally and physically disabled. It sidelines the slave labourers starved, beaten and worked to death in German war industries and the horrors suffered by anyone expressing anti-Nazi views.

It is likely that most people regard the real deniers of the Jewish genocide – the ones who say the extermination crimes never happened at all – in the same light as those who espouse any number of other oddball ideas. Do we need laws to protect us from those who make obviously unsupportable claims?

The real threat posed by “deniers” is that others might be influenced to undertake serious study and uncover embarrassing facts that would refute Israel’s “victim” status. This would threaten Israel’s moral legitimacy, underpinned by the world’s collective shame for looking the other way. All it takes to invoke that shame is the term anti-Semite, either stated or implied.

But opinions that question the widely accepted WWII Jewish genocide history are not anti-Semitic any more than opinions that question the accepted history of the Ukraine genocide (1) are anti-Russian. That we are led to label any deviation from the official history as “Holocaust denial” and “Holocaust denial” as anti-Semitism is no accident. It has come about by the same semantic sleight of hand that would have us believe anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same. They are not.

Many Christians are Zionists while many Jews throughout the world, perhaps even the majority, are anti-Zionist. Anti-Zionism has nothing to do with persecution of the Jews. It is simply anti-racism and anti-colonialism as applied to the occupation of Palestine and the subjugation of its indigenous population. (2)

When anyone goes to great lengths to stifle open inquiry and debate on any subject, alarm bells should ring. Invariably the motivation is suppression of uncomfortable truths. The uncomfortable truth of the Jewish genocide is that millions of lives would certainly have been saved had it been the priority of the Zionist leadership to save them. Their priority instead was establishment of the state of Israel. And then, as now, the suffering of Europe’s Jews and the world’s collective guilt was exploited to that end. (3)

Ironically, when millions of refugees were trying to escape from Europe before the war, and even while the genocide was in progress, prominent leaders of the Zionist movement were “Holocaust deniers”. When the truth could no longer remain hidden, the Zionist leadership opposed attempts to save the European Jews through financial and humanitarian aid and emigration. The exception was migration to Palestine, and even the relative few who were saved were selected not according to their plight but according to their perceived value to the future state of Israel.

One proposal by 270 members of the British Parliament, as a part of diplomatic negotiations with Germany during the height of the killings, was to evacuate 500,000 Jews from Europe and resettle them in British colonies. This offer was rejected by the Zionist leaders with the observation, “Only to Palestine!” (3)

It is clear from the statements and actions of the Zionist leadership that they considered the suffering of the European Jews advantageous in securing future international support for the establishment of the Zionist state.

Shocking? That uncomfortable truth is well documented for those who care or dare to study the subject.

Throughout history Jews, like many other minorities, have indeed been persecuted, but the modern state of Israel never was the victim. Since its inception it has been the coloniser, aggressor, tormentor and oppressor. Exploiting the memory of Hitler’s victims to perpetuate the myth of “victim Israel” is cynical. To do so while attacking its neighbours and inflicting Nazi-style state terrorism, apartheid and genocide on the Palestinians is cynical in the extreme.

While “deniers” are jailed for expressing unacceptable views, the real criminals – those responsible for the agony and death of millions – manipulate popular opinion to make crimes against humanity, war crimes, contempt for international law and indifference to human suffering seem normal and acceptable. And they do so with impunity.

(1) http://www.bigeye.com/111703.htm

(2) http://pilger.carlton.com/page.asp?partid=519

(3) http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/rabbi_quotes/weissmandl.cfm

Robin Davis lives in Victoria, Australia. He is a freelance writer and graphic designer. He can be contacted at: rbd@knox.hotkey.net.au

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 12 Comments

Fukushima radiation levels underestimated by five times – TEPCO

RT | February 8, 2014

TEPCO has revised the readings on the radioactivity levels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant well to 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter – both a record, and nearly five times higher than the original reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter.

Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter. Exposure to strontium-90 can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally said that the said 900,000 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, including strontium – were measured in the water sampled on July 5 last year.

However, the company noted on Friday that the previous radioactivity levels had been wrong, meaning that it was also likely readings taken from the other wells at the disaster-struck plant prior to September were also likely to have been inaccurate, the Asahi Shimbum newspaper reported.

The Japanese company has already apologized for the failures, which they said were a result of the malfunctioning of measuring equipment.

TEPCO did not mention the radioactivity levels of other samples of both groundwater and seawater taken from between June and November last year – which totaled some 140.

However, the erroneous readings only pertain to the radiation levels measured in water – readings taken to measure the radiation levels in air or soil are likely to have been accurate.

In the basement of the station, the drainage system and special tanks have accumulated more than 360,000 tons of radioactive water. The leakage of radioactive water has been an ongoing problem in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO also said on Thursday that 600 liters of contaminated water – which had 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter in it, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 was detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant beneath the No. 2 reactor’s well facing the ocean, according to the facility’s operator who released news of the measurements mid-January.

TEPCO measured the amount of beta ray-emitting radioactivity at more than 2.7 million becquerels per liter, Fukushima’s operator said as reported in the Japanese media.

In March 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the facility, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water ever since. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roger Waters Asks Scarlett Johansson to Reconsider Sodastream Support

Pink Floyd’s bass player Roger Waters stated on his FaceBook page that he has written several letters in private to actress Scarlett Johansson due to her support of the Israeli company Sodastream which is located within an illegal Israeli settlement.

The following is from Waters to Johansson:

Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett. I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There’s no fool like an old fool. A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of SodaStream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.

I would like to ask that younger Scarlett a question or two. Scarlett, just for one example, are you aware that the Israeli government has razed to the ground a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Southern Israel 63 times, the last time being on the 26th of December 2013. This village is the home to Bedouin. The Bedouin are, of course, Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship. Well, not quite full rights, because in “Democratic” Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.

I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws (they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space. But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and “Equal rights.” Really? Equal Rights? Do they?

Do they have the right to vote?

Do they have access to the roads?

Can they travel to their work place without waiting for hours to pass through the occupying forces control barriers?

Do they have clean drinking water?

Do they have sanitation?

Do they have citizenship?

Do they have the right not to have the standard issue kicking in their door in the middle of the night and taking their children away?

Do they have the right to appeal against arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment?

Do they have the right to re-occupy the property and homes they owned before 1948?

Do they have the right to an ordinary, decent human family life?

Do they have the right to self determination?

Do they have the right to continue to develop a cultural life that is ancient and profound?

If these questions put you in a quandary I can answer them for you. The answer is, NO, they do not.

The workers in The SodaStream Factory do not have any of these rights.

So, what are the “equal rights” of which you speak?

Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think SodaStream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.

Love R.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US focused on destabilizing Ukraine: Ex-US official

Press TV – February 8, 2014

Having long displayed a “habit” of attempting to overthrow democratic governments, the United States now seems focused on destabilizing Ukraine, says a former US official, Press TV reports.

“The control freaks in Washington think that only the decisions that Washington makes and imposes on other sovereign countries are democratic,” wrote Paul Craig Roberts, who is a former assistant secretary of the US Treasury for economic policy, in an article on Press TV’s website on Friday.

“The world has witnessed this American self-righteousness for eons as Washington overthrows one democratic government after the other and imposes its puppet,” Roberts said, adding that “for the moment, Washington is focused on destabilizing Ukraine.”

Ukraine has been seeing anti-government protests since about two months ago. The unrest began after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing a political and trade deal with the European Union (EU).

Clashes erupted several times between Ukrainian protesters and police forces during anti-government demonstrations. Arrests were made in the course of the protests as well.

In an effort to calm the political unrest, President Yanukovych invited all parties, including the opposition, to engage in dialog. However, the Ukrainian opposition leaders turned down his offer of negotiations.

He also offered top government positions to the opposition leaders, which they rejected. Yanukovych also pledged to change the constitution to reduce the president’s powers, following another decision to scrap an anti-protest law.

The unrest, nevertheless, continues unabated in Ukraine.

“Of all the violent protests that we have been witness to, the Ukrainian one is the most orchestrated,” Roberts said. “Ukraine has a democratically-elected government, but Washington doesn’t like it because Washington didn’t pick it.”

“Ukraine – or the western part of it – is full of Washington-funded NGOs, whose purpose is to deliver Ukraine into the clutches of the EU, where US and European banks can loot the country, as they looted, for example, Latvia,” he said, adding that, “The NGOs financed by Washington are committed to delivering Ukraine into Washington’s hands, where Ukrainians can become American serfs.”

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisor Sergey Glazyev described the situation in Ukraine as an attempted coup.

“According to our information, American sources spend $20 million a week on financing the [Ukrainian] opposition and rebels, including on weapons,” Glazyev told the Ukrainian edition of Russian newspaper Kommersant.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment