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Israeli forces invade Madama

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International Solidarity Movement | June 25, 2014

Madama, Occupied Palestine – At 12:30 a.m. on June 22, 2014, approximately 50 Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Madama.

Madama, which is located 10 km southwest of Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, has approximately 2000 residents. The soldiers raided close to 100 homes and took 80 men to the local elementary school, where they held them for several hours. The men were blindfolded, and their arms were tied behind their backs with handcuffs.

The soldiers released all of the men at 5 a.m.

At 1:00 a.m., the soldiers invaded the house of Nizar Abdullah Sadaq Ziyaada in Madama. They asked Ziyaada about the whereabouts of his money and proceeded to ransack the house. They drilled holes into the walls and threatened to destroy his home. They found a total of roughly 200,000 shekels underneath a cupboard and in various hiding places throughout the house. Finally, the soldiers took all of the money, two laptops, and several mobile phones before leaving.

The reasons for the theft of Ziyaada’s money are unclear.

Ziyaada had worked in Israel until the year 2000 and kept all of his earnings from that time in his house in Madama. It is likely that the Israelis knew about this money, as they asked him about it as soon as they entered his house.

Hany Ziyaada’s house was invaded by 15 Israeli soldiers the same night at 1 a.m. They broke down the door, but Hany asked them to wait a few minutes, so that the women of the house could get dressed. The soldiers swore at him, and he responded in kind. They proceeded to kick him in the back and stomach for several minutes and dragged him to their jeep, where they continued to beat him. They blindfolded and handcuffed him and took him to the school, where they held him by the throat, forced his arms back and drove their knees into his back. At 4 a.m. they allowed him to go home.

“Why do they not respect human rights?,” Hany asked an ISM activist. “I’m a policeman, and I know about human rights. Why don’t they?”

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Communities Protest That UK’s Equatorial Palm Oil Are Poised to Seize Land in Liberia

Forest Peoples Programme | June 24, 2014

The UK-listed company, Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO), which is threatening to seize land owned by Liberians in defiance of commitments by Liberia’s President, will today receive a visit from affected communities. Members of the Jogbahn Clan, together with representatives from Liberian and international NGOs, will deliver a petition with over 90,000 signatures, reminding EPO that it does not have community consent to expand onto their lands, and that doing so could escalate violence. [1] EPO’s past operations in Liberia have triggered allegations of conflict and human rights abuses. The company has maintained that any expansion is legal. [2]

“EPO’s recent expansion efforts are a brazen example of a company defying international law, government orders and the rights of communities,” said Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor, campaigner at the Sustainable Development Institute. “EPO has no claim to this land, it is owned by the communities who live on it.” [3]

Residents from the Jogbahn Clan in Liberia’s Grand Bassa County say that EPO has begun demarcating blocks of land in preparation for clearing, and have accused its security officers of threatening community members. These actions defy the March commitment by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that EPO could not expand onto the lands of the Joghban Clan without their permission. [4] The right of Liberian communities such as the Joghban Clan to give or withhold consent to projects that could have an impact on their land and resources is also provided under international human rights law, as well as the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) of which EPO is a member. [5] The Joghban people have refused to give such consent.

EPO has a very poor track record in Grand Bassa County. In September of last year, officers from the EPO security team and the Liberian Police reportedly worked together to assault and beat Joghban community members who were peacefully protesting the company’s operations. Those arrested were soon released after it was determined by the government’s Grand Bassa attorney that there was no justification for continued detention. No government investigation report regarding this incident has been made public. [6]

EPO denied any involvement in the violence, saying that it had been “falsely accused”, and does not “condone or encourage such described behaviour,” and “never instructed or directed any of its staff or PSU officers to intimidate Jogbahn community members in September or at any time.” However, EPO admitted to Global Witness that it provided logistical support to the Liberian police who are accused of intimidating villagers on the plantation. The company further stated that it “respect[s] the Liberian community rights and land, and ha[s] followed the law and procedures laid out”, had taken “strict steps” to ensure that it only plants oil palm on its concession land and legally-acquired community land, and  is “a responsible company and committed to sustainable oil palm development.” [7]

EPO’s concessions in Liberia total 8,900 km2 of land, which the company believes gives it the legal right to use the land to develop a palm oil concession.  The company is listed on the London-based AIM stock market, and is now majority owned by Malaysian palm oil giant Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK). Major brands including Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestle, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills have been reported as direct or indirect consumers of KLK palm oil. [8]

“We demand that EPO stops inciting conflict by preparing to clear our land,” commented Jogbahn Elder Joseph Chio Johnson, “EPO must stop threatening our people and accept that our no means no.”

Notes

  1. Sustainable Development Institute and Friends of the Earth International, Tell Equatorial Palm Oil NO means NO!, Rainforest Rescue, Wir stoppen die Walddiebe!, Friends of the Earth US, Stop an abusive palm oil company from grabbing Liberian land, Milieudefensie, Laat Equatorial Palm Oil weten dat NEE echt NEE betekent!
  2. Equatorial Palm Oil, Letter to Global Witness, 17 December 2013.  EPO’s full response can be found on Global Witness’ website at: www.globalwitness.org.
  3. Customary land rights are protected under a range of international human rights laws applicable to Liberia, including the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Rights (1981), the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (1966), the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (1966), the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1965), as well as principles of customary international law expressed in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
  4. Sustainable Development Institute, SDI welcomes President Sirleaf’s commitment to protecting Joghban clan’s land from further encroachment by British palm oil company Equatorial Palm Oil, 6 March 2014; Global Witness,NGOs welcome Liberian President’s commitment to stop British palm oil company “taking” community land, 10 March 2014.
  5. Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a key principle of Liberia’s Community Rights Law with respect to Forest Lands (2009), which provides communities with a right to give or withhold their consent to activities planned on community land or which may impact on that land and the community. Article 7 of the Liberian Constitution provides for the maximum feasible participation by citizens of Liberia, in the management of Liberia’s natural resources. FPIC is also an established legal principle supported by numerous regional and international legal instruments to which Liberia is legally bound, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). The decision of the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights in the case of Endorois Welfare Council v. Kenya (276/2003) e.g. at para 209, including with regard to right to property (Art. 14 ACHPR), as well we the right to development (Art. 22 ACHPR). See also ACHPR Resolution 224 on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as numerous other provisions and jurisprudence elaborated under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  6. Sustainable Development Institute, SDI calls on Equatorial Palm Oil to immediately cease land survey in Grand Bassa District #4, 25 September 2013. Sustainable Development Institute, Global Witness, FoE EWNI, FERN, Save My Future Foundation, UK’s Equatorial Palm Oil accused of human rights abuses in Liberia, 20 December 2013.
  7. Equatorial Palm Oil, Letter to Global Witness, 17 December 2013.  EPO’s full response can be found on Global Witness’ website at: www.globalwitness.org. Meeting between Global Witness and EPO in London on 14 November, 2013. EPO, “Letter to Global Witness,” 17 December 2013.
  8. Rainforest Action Network, Conflict Palm Oil in Practice: Exposing KLK’s role in rainforest destruction, land grabbing and child labour, 2 April 2014.
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Forest Peoples Programme supports the rights of peoples who live in forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. We work to create political space for forest peoples to secure their rights, control their lands and decide their own futures.

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Unanimous Supreme Court Backs Whistleblowers over White House Objections

By Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo | Black Agenda Report | June 25, 2014

The US Supreme Court on Thursday, June 19th ruled that First Amendment protections extend to public employees who provide testimony, under subpoena, on corruption from adverse actions, such as retaliation or job termination. In a rare show of bi-partisan unity in Washington, DC, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the Supreme Court decision in favor of whistleblowers over the opposition of those who nominated her for the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration. Although the corporate media hailed it as triumphant, the decision fails to provide necessary protections to whistleblower against retaliation for exposing corruption.

The case of Lane v. Franks centers on an employee, Edward Lane of Alabama Community College, hired in 2006 to direct an at-risk youth program that provided “counseling and educations as an alternative to incarceration.” The program received “substantial federal funds.” In the course of conducting an audit, Lane discovered that a state representative, Suzanne Schmitz, was being paid for work that she did not provide. Lane raised concerns about this fraudulent situation and was warned by the president of the community college, Steve Franks, that firing Schmitz could have a negative impact on his career at the community college. Despite the warning, Lane terminated Schmitz’s employment. As a result, a lawsuit was filed and the FBI initiated an investigation.

In 2008, Lane was subpoenaed and testified against Schmitz at her criminal trial. She was convicted of “fraudulently obtaining $177,000 in public in funds.” Under the thin pretext of a budgetary crisis, Franks laid off 29 employees but withdrew all but two of those lay offs – Lane was one of the two employees not re-hired. Lane filed charges claiming that Franks retaliated against him for testifying against Schmitz. He argued that his First Amendment rights had been violated. Franks on the other hand argued that he was protected from these charges because he was acting in an official capacity and therefore immune from such charges. In the federal government, managers also claim to be above the law because of sovereign immunity.

Justice Sotomayor wrote in the Courts decision that Lane gave his testimony “as a citizen on a matter of public concern – a public program and misuse of state funds.” Sotomayor wrote: “ Anyone who testifies in court…bears an obligation, to the court and society at large, to tell the truth.”

Sotomayor further asserted:

“…The importance of public employee speech is especially evident in the context of this case: a public corruption scandal. The United States, for example, represents that because “[t]he more than 1000 prosecutions for federal corruption offenses that are brought in a typical year . . . often depend on evidence about activities that government officials undertook while in office,” those prosecutions often “require testimony from other government employees.” Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 20. It would be antithetical to our jurisprudence to conclude that the very kind of speech necessary to prosecute corruption by public officials-speech by public employees regarding information learned through their employment may never form the basis for a First Amendment retaliation claim. Such a rule would place public employees who witness corruption in an impossible position, torn between the obligation to testify truthfully and the desire to avoid retaliation and keep their jobs.” [emphasis added]

Unfortunately, Franks was not held accountable for terminating Lane because of the on-going bias towards protecting the illegal behavior of managers and those in power.

The Sotomayor opinion is certainly a step forward in protections for citizens who have the courage to fight against corruption. However, what remains unclear is why a citizen should need a subpoena to protect them from retaliation?The Supreme Court, in future rulings need to eliminate this unnecessary barrier to justice. Because the Supreme Court did not order Lane to be reinstated, the Court ruling still sends a chilling message to whistleblowers in the sense that their jobs are still in jeopardy. This issue of holding officials to account for their illegal behavior remains unaddressed. The First Amendment victory is small consolation when one is facing unemployment.

However, the Barack Obama Administration — true to its core values of retaliating against, maligning and silencing whistleblowers– argued against First Amendment protections for public employees who testify against corruption at trials. At one point, the Obama Administration even argued “a police department would be within their rights to fire an officer who responded to a subpoena and testified about a search warrant in a court.”

Had the Supreme Court accepted the Obama Administration’s argument it would have further undermined democratic ideals and intensified the fear of losing ones job by providing testimony in corruption cases, even with a subpoena. With the Supreme Court pushing back against the Obama Administration’s position they have set the stage for further examination of how to best provide transparency in government and comprehensive whistleblower protection.

~

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit against the EPA lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification and Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act).

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | | Leave a comment

Supreme Court Requires Warrant for Cell Phone Searches by Police

ACLU | June 25, 2014

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that police must obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a cell phone seized from someone who has been arrested, absent a true emergency situation. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed an amicus brief in the case, Riley v. California.

Steven R. Shapiro, the national legal director of the ACLU, had this reaction:

“By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans. We have entered a new world but, as the court today recognized, our old values still apply and limit the government’s ability to rummage through the intimate details of our private lives.”

Writing the court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said:

“Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life’… The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.”

Today’s ruling is at:
supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

AIPAC urges US lawmakers not to cut Egypt aid

Press TV – June 25, 2014

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby which is based in Washington, has begun a lobbying campaign to stop US lawmakers from cutting military aid to Egypt.

The group already said in public that it wanted aid to Egypt to continue flowing.

“In light of the treaty’s achievements and resilience,” AIPAC said in a March 27 memorandum, “The United States should continue its strong support for the treaty and back Egypt as it works with Israel to combat the threats of extremists within its borders who would seek to undermine it.”

On Tuesday, an amendment from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. was defeated in the House of Representatives. The amendment called for a cut in US military assistance to Egypt by $300 million – from $1.3 billion down to $1 billion.

Tuesday’s vote was partly due to pressure by AIPAC, Schiff said as reported by Al-Monitor.

“I didn’t know that AIPAC was weighing in at all on this until after the vote,” Schiff said. “But members did communicate to me after the vote that they had been persuaded by AIPAC not to support this.”

According to the report, Israel was a main topic of discussion during the debate of Schiff’s amendment as part of Tuesday’s markup of the State and Foreign Operations spending bill for FY2015.

Pro-Israel representatives argued the new government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was doing a better job fighting Israel’s “enemies,” the report said.

“The aid we provide for the military also provides for Israel’s security,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations panel.

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU sanctions on Crimea lead to deadlock – Republic’s head

RT | June 24, 2014
SergeyAksyonov, Acting Head of the Republic of Crimea and Chairman of the Crimea Council of Ministers (RIA Novosti / Andrey Iglov)
SergeyAksyonov, Acting Head of the Republic of Crimea and Chairman of the Crimea Council of Ministers (RIA Novosti / Andrey Iglov)

The head of the Crimean government has stressed rejoining Russia is irreversible. Sergey Aksyonov said an EU ban on imports from Crimea and Sevastopol deprives Europe of a market and it must “realise that the regime of pressure leads to nothing good.”

Aksyonov characterized the EU sanctions targeting the new Russian territory as “a deadlock situation, including for the European Union. They [EU states] deprive themselves of markets to sell their products and of the opportunity to participate in the investment program of Crimea”.

The peninsula head suggests the EU decision to prohibit imports from Crimea was influenced by the US government.

”General agitation over Crimea’s accession to Russia has calmed down in the EU. As far as I understand in this case the US authorities have pushed this stance,” he said.

The EU Commission imposed a ban on imported goods from Crimea following its position of not recognizing Crimea’s accession to Russia.

However Crimean officials say EU sanctions won’t have any serious impact on the region’s economy.

“I do not envisage any major crisis. I do not even know which economic sector might be affected by it. Most of our exports were to Russia; now this is no longer export but domestic operations,” said Vitaly Nakhlupin, the head of the Crimean State Council’s Economic Commission.

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment