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Obama Unleashes Plan to Support ‘Civil Society’ Groups Across the Globe

teleSUR | September 25, 2014

President Barack Obama announced in a speech on Tuesday that the United States would be aggressively funding and supporting “civil society” groups around the globe, calling it a “national security” issue.

“It is precisely because citizens and civil society can be so powerful — their ability to harness technology and connect and mobilize at this moment so unprecedented — that more and more governments are doing everything in their power to silence them,” said Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference in New York.

Obama singled out Venezuela for allegedly “vilifying legitimate dissent” and said that Latin America would host one of the six Regional Civil Society Innovation Centers, a new initiative that seeks to create a global network to create cross-border partnerships. Other regions targeted for these new centers include Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

However, U.S. assistance to so-called civil society groups, especially in Latin America, has been marred in controversy, especially with regards to leftist governments.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), one of the U.S. bodies that funds and supports “civil society” organizations abroad, funded Venezuelan opposition groups responsible for the 2002 coup attempt against the democratically-elected former president Hugo Chavez.

In 2009, according to USAID documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the group had also funded local regional governments and municipalities in Bolivia at a time when the government of Evo Morales was dealing with right-wing separatist movements in the eastern part of the country. Morales eventually expelled the agency from the country in 2013, a move followed by Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa later that year. Correa announced in November 2013 that USAID is required to leave the country by the end of this month.

“Partnering and protecting civil society groups around the world is now a mission across the U.S. government,” said Obama.

He ordered, via a presidential memorandum, agencies such as USAID, the Department of State, and Homeland Security, to work more regularly with civil society groups across the globe. … Full article

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel continues to harass and restrict Gaza fishermen despite truce agreement

Al-Akhbar | September 25, 2014

Every time Gaza fisherman Rami goes to sea, the same thing happens: five nautical miles offshore, shots ring out and a voice over an Israeli loudspeaker demands he turn back.

Officially, Gaza’s fishing fleet has the right to trawl the waters up to six nautical miles off the shore under the terms of Israel’s illegal and brutal eight-year blockade.

Although that outer limit has frequently been reduced, or even cancelled outright over the years, it was formally reinstated by virtue of an August 26 truce agreement which ended a deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants.

But nearly a month after the ceasefire took effect, even those six nautical miles — which the fishermen say is not nearly enough — are unattainable.

One afternoon, Rami Bakr and his 10-man crew put to sea for a 10-hour fishing expedition. With them was an AFP team.

Very quickly, warning shots skimmed the boat as an Israeli navy vessel approached. On board were around a dozen soldiers armed with machine guns, shouting through a loudspeaker for them to stop.

“These are the worst conditions we’ve ever known,” said the 41-year-old fisherman, who has spent more than three decades of his life fishing the waters off Gaza.

“During the war, the Israelis bombed fishing huts on the beach and now they are preventing fishermen from earning their crust at sea,” he said.

The Gaza Strip has long been known for its plentiful seafood and fish although the stocks have been depleted by pollution, frequent wars and the blockade.

Today, the coastal enclave counts some 4,000 fishermen, more than half of whom live below the poverty line, said Nizar Ayash, head of the Gaza fishermen’s syndicate.

During the recent seven-week war launched by Israel which killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of which are civilians, 80 of Gaza’s fleet of around 1,500 fishing boats and dozens of fishing huts were destroyed in the Israeli bombardment, which also reduced nets and fishing equipment to ashes, he said.

For Ayash, the problems experienced by Rami are widespread.

“Since the ceasefire, many Israeli attacks have been reported,” he said, referring to repeated shooting at fishing vessels.

Israeli forces say the warning shots are necessary because Palestinian boats flout the six-mile limit.

With their tackle destroyed and the price of oil soaring, Gaza’s fishermen are almost working at a loss.

Today, a single fishing expedition can cost up to about $500, said another fisherman called Mehdi Bakr, who lost his hand when an Israeli navy vessel fired at his boat in 1997.

For every night on the water, they need 270 liters (59 gallons) of diesel and 250 liters of petrol, he explained.

And all this for a very small catch.

“September and October is sardine season and they are only found between six to nine nautical miles from the shore, so with a six-mile limit, we’re bringing home hardly anything,” explained Taha Bakr, a 24-year-old member of Rami’s crew.

Because fishing is a trade passed on from father to son, and because he can no longer provide for his family and the job is so dangerous, the young man with green eyes and a neatly-trimmed beard has signed up to journalism school.

“It’s so that I don’t have to fish again, that job is just too risky,” he told AFP.

Maria Jose Torres, deputy head of office in the Palestinian branch of the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA), said that the 1993 Oslo Accords established a fishing zone of up to 20 nautical miles.

“It is essential to increase the fishing zone beyond six nautical miles to allow the fishermen to earn their living,” she said, indicating that the vast majority today are unable to support themselves.

“Some 84 percent of them are only able to survive thanks to help from the UN,” she said.

Rami said he keeps putting out to sea so that he can feed his children.

“It has been a long time since we last heard the singing and laughter of fishermen at sea who returned with their nets full,” he said.

But Mehdi fears for the future of this millennia-old profession in Gaza.

“We, the young generation, are not happy with this. If it carries on like this, there won’t be any more fishing in Gaza at all,” he said.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Gaza farms adjacent to buffer zone suffer greatest losses

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MEMO | September 24, 2014

Palestinian residents in the buffer zone along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip suffer the loss of their homes and source of income in every Israeli escalation.

Palestinian farmer Mohamed Qudih, 60, and his wife Sabiha, 59, lost their house, which was destroyed by the Israeli occupation during the ground invasion in the Khan Younis village of Khuza’a. They also lost their farm, which included around 50 olive and date trees and okra crops.

“I was surprised when I saw the rubble of my house,” Qudih told local Palestinian news agency Quds Net. “I was also surprised to see around 50 olives trees and date palms were uprooted and the okra crop was crushed.”

Qudih’s farm is 800-metres away from the Gaza-Israeli border. “We suffer so much as the Israeli occupation always razes the farms adjacent and near its borders,” he said.

He added: “We are always in danger while working or staying in our farms as the Israeli border troops in the military towers always fire live bullets and tanks and bulldozers move on the ground when they feel anything approaching the borders.”

Iyad Qudih, 40, whose farm is 500-metres from the border, had a similar story: “I came back to my farm to find no sign of my house and all the trees and crops were damaged.”

Mu’taz Al-Najjar, 19, tends to his family’s farm which is 450-metres from the border. He hopes the buffer zone is cancelled in order for his family to freely access their entire farm and benefit from it. He called for the representatives of the Palestinian fighters to the indirect talks with the Israelis in Cairo to stick to this demand.

“This will help hundreds of farmers access all areas of their farms and thus more farmers will have work and agriculture produce will increase,” he said.

Khuza’a is located to the east of Khan Younis, a Palestinian city in the south of the Gaza Strip. It is located on 4,000 Dunams (1,000 acres) of land and is home to 14,000 Palestinians, most refugees.

The Israeli occupation razed a large number of Palestinian houses in the neighbourhood during the latest war on Gaza and wrecked most of its farms and empty lands.

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Colorado students stage mass walk-out over US history ‘censorship’

RT | September 25, 2014

Hundreds of Denver-area high school students walked out their classrooms in a mass protest against what they call an attempt to censor their history curriculum by refocusing it on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and obedience.

Students at six Denver-area highs schools walked out their classrooms en masse, protesting a plan by the conservative-majority Jefferson County school board to push for curriculum changes to Advanced Placement history courses to promote patriotism and deference to authority. The proposed changes would include the removal of topics that could ‘encourage’ civil disobedience from textbooks and materials.

The protest was organized through social media, encouraging students to stand outside the Jefferson County School Administrative Building with placards which read “People didn’t die so we erase them,” “Educate free thinkers,” “There is nothing more patriotic than protest,” and “History is History.”

The student protest comes after teachers at two schools caused a shutdown the week before when they staged a sick-out over the curriculum changes, which the school board says provides a balanced view of American history.

“I understand that they want to take out our very important history of slavery and dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it portrays the US in a negative light,” a high school senior, Casey McAndrew, told CNN.

The proposal calls for establishing a committee that would regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

“The nation’s foundation was built on civil protests,” Tyrone G. Parks, a senior student told the Associated Press. “And everything that we’ve done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built of.”

Those students participating in the protest will not be punished but will receive unexcused absences unless their parents request permissions for missed classes, according to school district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County Superintendent Dan McMinimee tried to calm the tensions saying that no changes in the curriculum have been finalized and renewing his offer to continue discussions on the issue.

READ MORE: Journalism groups blast Obama admin for ‘politically driven suppression of news’

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Ohio cops killed Walmart air gun-wielding man moments after confrontation, new video shows

RT | September 25, 2014

Recently released surveillance video showing the fatal Walmart shooting of a black man carrying an air gun – which he picked up in the same store – seems to contradict police accounts, after a grand jury decided not to indict the officers.

James Crawford III, 22, was shot and killed by police officers after they received a 911 call on August 5 that a man was carrying a rifle in the BeaverCreek Walmart, Ohio, and allegedly waving it at store customers.

Police said in their report that Crawford ignored their numerous orders to drop the rifle before he was shot. However, the video, obtained by the Xenia Daily Gazette, shows Crawford being fired upon mere seconds after police encounter him.

The video shows Crawford walking to the sporting goods section, apparently talking on his phone, and picking up what looks like an assault rifle. In fact it was an air rifle that had been left unboxed on a shelf. He then continues walking around the store – sometimes carrying the gun over his shoulder, sometimes pointed at the ground – before police arrive and shoot him dead.

The video was released as the grand jury decided not to indict the two officers involved and said “they were justified in their actions.”

The Crawford family said they were “disgusted” by the grand jury decision to not file charges against the two officers involved in the shooting.

The August 5 incident triggered protests from residents and family members demanding the video be released. Crawford is black, and the two officers involved in the fatal shooting are white. Crawford’s family asked for a federal investigation to determine if race was a factor.

The Justice Department said Wednesday it would “conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances” around Crawford’s death to see if there were any civil rights violations. The review will be conducted by the department’s civil rights division, the US attorney’s office and the FBI.

READ MORE: Local police kill at least 400 people a year, mostly minorities

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Three Years in a Cage. No Charges and No Lawyer.

By Brandon Buskey | ACLU | September 24, 2014

Octavious Burks has been waiting for 10 months.

He’s locked in a jail in Scott County, Mississippi. He hasn’t been formally charged. He hasn’t been assigned an attorney.

This is a recurring nightmare for Octavious: The same thing happened in 2009 and 2012. In each case, he was held for roughly a year. Each time, he was eventually released without a trial or a conviction. Octavious has spent over three years of his life locked in a cell without ever being formally charged – let alone found guilty – of a crime.

In November of 2013, Octavious was arrested in connection with a robbery. The judge set his bail at $30,000, which Octavious could not afford. Also unable to pay for a lawyer, Octavious applied for a public defender. The court approved his request, but 10 months later Octavious still hasn’t received an attorney – an advocate who could fight to lower his bail, challenge his arrest, or prepare for a trial.

Why not? Because he has never been formally charged with a crime.

That’s how it works in Scott County: No one gets a public defender until they’ve been indicted. In other places, this might not be a big deal. In Colorado, prosecutors have 72 hours after an arrest to formally indict someone. In Kansas, it’s two weeks. But in Scott County and throughout Mississippi, the wait could last forever. That’s because Mississippi doesn’t limit how long a prosecutor has to indict someone, even if that someone is wasting away in jail.

In Scott County, felony indictments are only issued three times a year, after a grand jury convenes to formally charge defendants with their crimes. If you’re lucky, you might wait two months to hear about your charges. If you’re unlucky, you’re put off until the next session. That’s at least another four months in jail. And if you’re like Octavious, you’re left completely in the dark for months on end.

Octavious is not alone in the darkness – dozens of people are locked in the Scott County jail, without attorneys or formal charges. And this problem isn’t confined to one jail in one county. People statewide are losing months and sometimes years of their lives to a glacial justice system. That means years without work. Years without being able to care for their families. Years without knowing when the ordeal will end. All without the state having to prove a thing.

The Constitution protects you from being arbitrarily imprisoned on a mere allegation. When you’re accused of a crime, you have a right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one. You have a right to a speedy trial. Scott County cannot pretend as if the Constitution doesn’t apply in its courts. That’s why the ACLU yesterday filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Octavious and others trapped in the Scott County jail, demanding that local judges, sheriffs, and district attorneys change the way they do business.

It’s time for Scott County to stop illegally robbing people of their lives.

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

NSA spying station in Austria?

The BRICS Post | September 23, 2014

European Union member states have called on the EU Parliament to adopt legislation on new data protection as soon as next year.

The new regulations proposed by the member states in March 2014 include protecting the data of European citizens from espionage, illegal transfer to intelligence services, and illicit use of their information by business.

The new legislation has been seen as a necessary step in the wake of revelations leaked to media in June 2013 by CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) global espionage and communication monitoring scheme, known as Prism.

The legislation also appeared to take on greater significance following reports from Austrian media, which published a number of photographs claiming they proved that the Washington-based NSA was operating a secret listening post a short distance from the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

The photos depict a listening post atop a skyscraper in the Austrian capital Vienna, located next door to the VIC which is considered the third United Nations headquarters after New York and Geneva, and regularly hosts meetings.

While not immediately independently verified, the Austrian media reports have alleged that an air-conditioned hut atop the building picks up transmissions from ‘bugs’ installed in the VIC.

Listening posts and their stealth implications have affected relations between US and European allies.

In November last year, the German government called in the British ambassador to explain a story published in The Independent claiming that London had a “top secret listening post” operated from the roof of the British embassy in Berlin.

The story was based on information leaked to the daily by Snowden.

While the newspaper said that the US closed down its spying base atop its embassy in Berlin, the British continued with their covert operation.

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment