Aletho News


Pre-traumatic stress syndrome: Climate trauma survival tips

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | October 29, 2014

Climate depression is real. Just ask a scientist. – Madeleine Thomas

Wow. Here I was, hard at work on my long promised post on clouds, and I spotted this article on twitter. Much easier to write about this one than about clouds.

At Grist, Madeleine Thomas has penned an article Climate depression is real.  Just ask a scientist. Excerpts:

Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.

“I felt like here was this huge signal I was finding and no one was paying attention to it,” Parmesan says. “I was really thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” She ultimately packed up her life here in the States and moved to her husband’s native United Kingdom.

“In the U.S., [climate change] isn’t well-supported by the funding system, and when I give public talks in the U.S., I have to devote the first half of the talk to [the topic] that climate change is really happening,” says Parmesan, now a professor at Plymouth University in England.

From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged.

“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”

Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.

What’s even more deflating for a climate scientist is when sounding the alarm on climatic catastrophes seems to fall on deaf ears. “How would that make you feel? You take this information to someone and they say they don’t believe you, as if it’s a question of beliefs,” says Jeffrey Kiehl, senior scientist for climate change research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. “I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about facts.”

“I could imagine that if scientists start to talk about how they’re feeling about the issue and how emotional they’re feeling about the issue, those who are critical about climate change would seize that information and use it in any way they could to say that we should reject their science,” Kiehl says.

It’s only natural then that many climate scientists and activists often feel an extreme pressure to keep their emotions in check, even when out of the spotlight.

“You don’t just start talking about unbelievably fast sea-level rise at a cocktail party at a friend’s house,” Tidwell says. “So having to deny the emotional need to talk about what’s on your mind all the time … those are some of the burdens that climate aware scientists and activists have to endure.  But nobody talks about how it makes them feel personally.”

So how does a climate scientist handle the stress? Van Susteren offers several “climate trauma survival tips” for those in the field. Meditation and therapy are two, as are taking particular care to reinforce boundaries between work and one’s personal life. But she also says being honest is just as important. “[Don’t] believe that you are invulnerable,” she writes. “In fact, admitting what you are going through makes you more resilient.”

And a dose of honesty may be more than just therapeutic. Some real talk about how we’re all screwed may be just what the climate movement needs. “Forgive my language here, but if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than FUCK,” [Grist’s Brentin] Mock writes.

Perhaps it’s time for those deeply involved in climate science to come forward about the emotional struggle, or at the very least, for those in mental health research and support to start exploring climate change psychology with more fervor.

“There’s a taboo talking about it,” Lertzman says, adding that the tight-lipped culture of the scientific community can be difficult to bridge. “The field of the psychology of climate change is still very, very young … I believe there are profound and not well-recognized or understood psychological implications of what I would call being a frontliner. There needs to be a lot more attention given to frontliners and where they’re given support.”

JC reflections

Oh my, where to start with this one.  Lets try this:

I feel your pain.  Circa 2007 I felt the same way you did, and ran around turning off lights and unplugging things, feeling really uncomfortable about the carbon footprint of myself and my surroundings.  But then I woke up as a scientist and realized that my belief in dangerous anthropogenic climate change was second order belief –  based on the IPCC consensus.  That is, I believed in the consensus without having done a real detailed assessment of my own.  Then when climategate triggered me to closely examine everything, notably the IPCC’s attribution argument, I realized that the fingerprints were ‘muddy’, the climate models are running too hot, the forcing data is uncertain, no account is made for multidecadal and longer internal variability, and they have no explanation for the warming 1910-1940, the cooling 1940-1976, and the hiatus since 1998.  Once you raise questions about 20th century attribution, then your angst about impacts that you think are attributable to AGW becomes much less justified.

In terms of tips, try reading some literature on history, philosophy and sociology of science – you will become more humble as a scientist and less likely to believe your own hype.  Read Richard Feynman.  Hang out at Climate Etc.  Listen seriously to a serious skeptic.

If these strategies don’t work, try learning about aberrant psychologies, such as the God complex and paranoia and look in the mirror (there are probably others, but I don’t know that much psychology myself).

And also inform yourself about psychological hardiness (something I learned from days at U. Chicago and hanging out with grad students in Salvatore Maddi’s group).  Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The coping style most commonly associated with hardiness is that of transformational coping, an optimistic style of coping that transforms stressful events into less stressful ones. At the cognitive level this involves setting the event into a broader perspective in which they do not seem so terrible after all. At the level of action, individuals high in hardiness are believed to react to stressful events by increasing their interaction with them, trying to turn them into an advantage and opportunity for growth, and in the process achieve some greater understanding.

The ‘pre-traumatic stress’ thing clicked a link in my mind to my old U. of Chicago pal Colonel Paul Bartone, a military psychologist and a member of the hardiness group.  The following paper seems relevant:  A Model for Soldier Psychological Adaptation in Peacekeeping Operations.  I think these concepts are relevant for what is going on with Parmesan et al.  Seems like skeptics are more hardy?

The psychology of all this is probably pretty interesting, and worthy of more investigation.   But Jeff Kiehl is right – whining scientists aren’t going to help either the science or their ’cause.’

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK media hypes up RAF interception of Latvian plane

RT | October 30, 2014

Two Royal Air Force jets reportedly threatened to shoot down a Latvian cargo plane, rushing at supersonic speeds to intercept it, after the plane failed to respond to air traffic control over Kent in Southern England and sent authorities into panic mode.

“I am instructed by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom to warn you that, if you do not respond immediately to my orders, you will be shot down,” radioed one of the jets, according to an audio recording circulating in UK media.

The incident occurred at about 5pm local time after the Latvian Antonov An-26 aircraft failed to make contact with air traffic controllers.

British Typhoons were tasked with intercepting the cargo plane. “To fulfill their quick reaction role, they were cleared to travel at supersonic speed,” an RAF spokesperson said, adding that the speed explains the loud noise people heard in the air.

Many locals took to Twitter, describing how their houses shook after the loud bangs.

Communications with the civilian pilots were restored only after the jets intercepted the plane.

The Latvian plane was then escorted to London’s Stansted Airport at around 5:20 pm “All three people who were on board have been spoken to by police,” AP quoted Essex Police spokeswoman Emma Thomas as saying. “It was established that everything was in order and the reason for the short loss of communication was due to a change in airspace jurisdiction.”

Russian planes everywhere

The excitement surrounding the intercept – apparently based on post-9/11 terrorist attack fears – came amid a heightened terror alert in the UK at the time of the allied military campaign against the Islamic State.

Media reports mirrored the panic frenzy triggered by the incident, but in a peculiar way: first saying that the cargo plane was “Russian” and then switching to a “Russian-made” reference.

Both takes were wrong: the Antonov design bureau, the producer of An-26 planes, is a Ukrainian company founded in Soviet times, and the plane in question belonged to a Latvian-registered company, ironically called RAF-Avia.

However, the British media seemingly capitalized on the latest NATO reports of “unusual” increased activity of Russian military aircrafts over the Atlantic and the Black Sea.

NATO stated that it has intercepted four groups of Russian planes since Tuesday. “These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” the alliance said.

Most media reports based on the NATO statement failed to mention that the Russian planes did not cross any borders and remained within international airspace in every mentioned case.

Four Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers were spotted participating in a military exercise over the Norwegian Sea early on Wednesday. “We see Russian aircraft near our airspace on a regular basis but what was unusual is that it was a large number of aircraft and pushed further south than we normally see,” Reuters quoted a Norwegian military spokesman as saying.

In another incident on Wednesday, two Tu-95s were being monitored by Turkish aircraft over the Black Sea.

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Antonio Buehler Found Not Guilty After Austin Cop Breaks Blue Code of Silence, Testifying on his Behalf

By Ben Keller | PINAC | October 29, 2014


From left to right, surprise witness Jermaine Hopkins, an Austin police officer who testified on Antonio Buehler’s behalf, attorney Millie Thompson and Antonio Buehler, who was found not guilty for a 2011 case where he was arrested for photographing Austin police.

Deliberations in the trial of Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler lasted five hours before a Texas jury returned with a not guilty verdict Wednesday after an Austin police officer surprisingly testified on Buehler’s behalf – most likely losing his job in the process.

Buehler was on trial for an incident that occured on New Years Eve of 2012 where he witnessed Austin officers abusing the passenger of a vehicle during a routine DWI stop. The stop was being conducted by the now-infamous officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider when Buehler began taking pictures, sparking a verbal confrontation.

Buehler probed the officers with questions as he took pictures of the male officers holding the female passengers in a torture hold, known as the Strappado where her arms were cuffed behind her back and pulled upwards. Buehler can be heard in the video asking officers, “What are you doing?” Buehler described the hold as ‘being meant for causing extreme pain.”


The photo that got Antonio Buehler arrested

The verbal confrontation turned into a physical struggle as Oborski aggressively approached Buehler. Buehler put his hands in the air to show he wasn’t a threat to any of the officers. Buehler then began asking Oborski, “why are you touching me?”

Oborski then gave Buehler an unlawful order to put his hands behind his back. Buehler never did that. And Oborski then wrestled Buehler to the ground. Later that night, Antonio was booked into jail on felony charges claiming that Buehler spit in Oborski’s face, where he faced a potential 2-10 years in prison.

That, of course, never happened. But luckily, someone was filming across the street to prove that it never happened.

The biggest bombshell came when Oborski testified against himself. He testified to the jury that it was actually just a little bit of ‘spittle’ and that when Buehler was asking him questions that he had managed to somehow get a little ‘spittle’ on his face. This implies what Buehler and others have been saying for three years now. That Buehler never spit in that cop’s face. Oborski made it all up and tried to send him to prison for contempt of cop. The video is proof of that.

The gravity of this case carries many implications, not only about the character of the Austin Police Department throughout the ranks, but the trial also holds implications for a future civl lawsuit against Oborski. In Texas, it’s typically, according to most lawyers here, a tough row to hoe if you want to sue the government. Tort laws make it seemingly more difficult than most states.

But the judge in Buehler’s civil case allowed that Obroski can be sued in his personal capacity and that the claim Buehler filed against Oborski can go forward.

Surprise cop witness

There were a few surprises throughout this trial (perhaps well thought out by Buehler and his legal team). If any one is ever relentless about the notion that there really aren’t any good cops, it’s Buehler. But during this trial, Buehler surprised the prosecution with a star witness, Austin police officer Jermaine Hopkins, who was told by APD brass that if he testified, he would lose his job by October 30th, which is today.

Hopkins testified anyway, telling jurors that Buehler had broken no law and that his fellow officers had violated his Constitutional rights by arresting him.

Hopkins has a hearing tomorrow to determine his fate with the department. He said he sent Buehler an email after seeing his case and wanted to testify out of concern that Buehler’s rights were being violated.

Hopkins said in an interview with PINAC after the verdict that there are some good things about his department, but ultimately he has no regrets and that he did the right thing by testifying. He also said if he could change anything it would be “accountability at the administrative level.”

When asked by a bystander in the courtroom what his future holds, Hopkins said he is thinking about going to law school.

Another surprise occurred at the beginning of the trial when one juror asked to be released from the jury citing personal troubles. Buehler’s attorney, Millie Thompson said the juror was having symptoms of mental illness including paranoia and an inability to make a decision in a jury, because of fear from a group.

Although, the juror never specified to the court any particular group. Thompson said she didn’t object to the juror being dismissed. But she did object to the state’s request for a mistrial.

The Judge sided with Thompson and the trial went on with only five jurors.

The deciding jury was made up of two males and three females, one who worked as a writer for Beavis and Butthead. None were interested in commenting to PINAC or any other media outlet. But we caught up with Buehler and Hopkins outside the courtroom.

When asked after the trial what the future holds for Buehler’s activist group, Peaceful Streets Project, a group that films on duty cops, Buehler replied, “Hopefully, to grow it.”

But he also has three more charges to fight as well as a civil suit to pursue as he explains in the video.

Ben Keller resides in Austin, Texas, where much of his activism centers around advocating for parents lost in the CPS system. Ben believes in government accountability and thinks the public should have more access to court rooms. He is a volunteer for Peaceful Streets Project as well as other groups who shine light on government corruption. He studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

SodaStream closes illegal settlement factory but remains actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel | October 30, 2014

Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists today welcomed the news that SodaStream has announced it is to close its factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim following a high profile boycott campaign against the company.

“SodaStream’s announcement today shows that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism,” said Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement.

“BDS campaign pressure has forced retailers across Europe and North America to drop SodaStream, and the company’s share price has tumbled in recent months as our movement has caused increasing reputational damage to the SodaStream brand,” she added.

The news of this major success against a company famed for its role in illegal Israeli settlements broke amidst intensifying demonstrations against Israel’s policies of colonisation in Jerusalem.

Grassroots boycott activism saw SodaStream dropped by major retailers across North America and Europe including Macy’s in the US and John Lewis in the UK.

SodaStream was forced to close its flagship store in Brighton in the UK as a result of regular pickets of the store.

Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, sold its stake in SodaStream following BDS pressure.

SodaStream’s share price fell dramatically in recent months as sales dried up, particularly in North America.

After reaching a high of $64 per share in October 2013, the stock fell to around $20 per share this month. SodaStream has estimated its third quarter revenue will be $125 million, down almost 14 percent from the same period last year.

But Ziadah warned that SodaStream will still remain actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians and will remain a focus of boycott campaigning.

“Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights,” she said.

SodaStream’s participation in Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians gained international notoriety when A-list celebrity Scarlett Johansson signed up to be a brand ambassador for the company. Following an international campaign urging Oxfam end its relationship with Johansson for endorsing SodaStream, the actor decided to quit Oxfam.

SodaStream has also come under fire for its treatment of Palestinian workers in its West Bank factory, as Ziadah explains:

“Any suggestion that SodaStream is employing Palestinians in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land out of the kindness of its heart is ludicrous.”

“Palestinian workers are paid far less than their Israeli counterparts and SodaStream recently fired 60 Palestinians following a dispute over food for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Workers have previously said they are treated ‘like slaves’”.

“Palestinians are forced to work inside settlements in sub-standard conditions because of Israel’s deliberate destruction of the Palestinian economy. There’s an urgent need for the creation of decent and dignified jobs within the Palestinian economy.”

SodaStream have said all workers will be offered jobs at its new plant, although Israel’s apartheid wall and severe restrictions on movement will make the commute to the new plant difficult for its Palestinian workers.

All of the main Palestinian trade unions have called for boycott and are members of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement and helped to initiate the campaign against SodaStream.

The BNC quotes included in this release can be found in the following coverage of this story:

New York Times :

Guardian :

Daily Mail :

Bloomberg :

International Business Times :

– See more at:

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Reseacher: Peruvian Government Has Political Debt with Forced Sterilization Victims

teleSUR | October 29, 2014

Eighteen years have passed and those who were forcefully sterilized in Peru have obtained no justice even though the issue was key for the electoral victory of current president Ollanta Humala.

On Wednesday, author and researcher Alejandra Ballon accused the current administration of president Ollanta Humala of using the case of forced sterilizations for political gain and failing to follow through with seeking justice for the victims.

Ballon is the author of the first book on the issue, released earlier this month with the support of the National Library of Peru. It is titled Memoirs of the Peruvian Case of Forced Sterilizations.

Crimes Against Humanity

Over 300,000 people, mostly indigenous women, were forcefully sterilized by the Fujimori regime during the 1990s. The program sought to reduce the number of children in poor rural indigenous families by deceiving and threatening them and even operating on them without them knowing. For those reasons the crimes are being described as genocide.

Sometimes, the signature of the victim’s relatives was used to go ahead with the process without consent. Sometimes the victims were operated on secretly after giving birth. The program was implemented nationally but the methods were not systematic. However, the government gave official quotas to each post for specific periods of time and medical personal were required to comply.

The results were brutal. There are several reports on the effects of such crimes including psychological and physical impairments of the victims and the effects on their relatives. “Women lost their physical strength and could no longer work as farmers, but also many were abandoned by their male partners, and forced to emigrate to the cities,” explained Ballon.

“It is not only the irreversibility of the operation and that women were made sterile against their will, but on top of that there are physical, mental, family, community, agricultural and cultural consequences,” asserts Ballon.

She described a case in Huancabamba where many women were dedicated to sewing using an ancestral, pre-Incan method called Cahihua, which uses the stomach. “It is one of the cultural legacies that we have in the country and we should take care of it,” argues Ballon. However, she explained that this sewing method uses a tool that places pressure on a person’s belly, and after being operated, the pain from the scar would not allow them to sew in that traditional manner. Ballon discovered this problem in 2012 but no systematic method has been implemented to be able to find all the other ways in which this criminal program has affected people’s lives.

The Case of Victoria Vigo

Victoria Vigo is one of the women who was forcefully sterilized. Right after a miscarriage in 1996, doctors secretly mutilated her reproductive organs to comply with the sterilization quota ordered by the regime.

She explains how she found out about her operation. “The doctor who was next to me and taking care of me told another doctor that what is happening is that my baby has passed away,” she explained, and the new doctor “turned around and told me ‘don’t worry you are young and you can have another baby.’” But the first doctor responded, ‘No, she has already been sterilized,’ and that is how I found out what they did to me,” says Victoria.

Victoria explains her feelings at the time. “When one loses a child, a longing to have another child stays… When you lose something you immediately want it. I wanted to have a child … but friends who are doctors talked with me and told me, no Victoria, it is irreversible,” she said.

Political Debt of President Humala

Ollanta Humala picked up the struggle for justice for these cases during his presidential bid. Many believe that such a move gave him the edge to win the election in the second round. He was running against Keiko Fujimori, daughter of Alberto Fujimori, the dictator in charge of the country when the sterilizations took place. During a presidential debate, Humala raised the issue and used it to attack Keiko. However, little has been done after his victory to investigate and obtain justice.

For those reasons, the victims are saying Humala only used them for political gain and he has no interest in their struggle or pain. Ballon has come out in their support. She argues that current president Ollanta Humala has a political debt with these women because he was partly able to win the election by promising in depth investigations into the matter.

Failures of Society

Ballon goes further than pointing out the failures of Humala. She calls these cases the “gravest violations committed against indigenous woman since the colonial times.”

“We are not understanding as a society what we can learn about ourselves through these women. They can tell us about how it was done so that we can learn who we are, what are we doing and to what point can we prevent a future possibility of repeating it.”

Ballon explains that the implementation of the program also shows chauvinism in society. Out of the 300,000 sterilized people, 22,000 were males. “There was gender discrimination in the program even though a man can procreate hundreds of kids and a woman has a limited number of children she can have,” points out Ballon. She concludes that “this is not a result of only the program but the social constructs of the country.”

In a similar way, racism must have been operating in society to permit such crimes. Ballon uses postcolonial theory to explain why indigenous populations, Quechua speaking, were the main target. She explains how hierarchies and racism imposed during colonial times have made committing and justifying such crimes against indigenous populations possible.

The National Library of Peru is investing in a collection of books, including Ballon’s, called La Palabra del Mudo (The Mute Person’s Word) that are using postcolonial theory to record and give voice to those who have not been included in the official histories. The ultimate goals are to strengthen democracy, recover memories, and construct new and inclusive narratives about Peru.

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The American Resistance to Israel

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | October 29, 2014

The movement to prevent Israeli cargo ships from being unloaded or loaded is potentially one of the greatest challenges that Israel faces from ordinary citizens around the world. Amazingly, it doesn’t even require huge numbers or even very much unity of organization, only of purpose.

The August, 2014 picket of the Zim Piraeus in Oakland, California, is a case in point. It began with a massive demonstration of thousands that responded to a call from the Block the Boat coalition to picket the port on August 16 and 17. During that time, the ship chose to remain in a stationary position more than 100 miles away. The organizers then declared victory on the basis that the ship had been delayed more than 24 hours, and the ship came into port.

For some of the picketers, however, this was not enough. They chose to continue the picket after the ship had docked and was ready to be worked. This required maintaining the picket line on a sustained basis and eliciting the cooperation of the workers in not crossing the line. Because of these efforts, there was no one to work the ship for another three days.

Finally, the employer, Ports America, tried to trick both the picketers and the workers by reassigning workers from another ship (an illegal practice). This was only partly successful, and the ship left on August 20 for Russia with most of its Oakland-bound cargo still on board and without taking on any of the cargo that it was to pick up.

One of the volunteers did follow-up research, even calling Zim’s clients. What she discovered was that the extra cargo on board created problems for the loading operations in Russia and had to be off loaded without a clear picture of when it would reach Oakland. At least two of the clients also decided to stop using Zim because of uncertain delivery. The cost of delays, fuel, berthing fees and additional transport must have been staggering.

The following month brought even worse news to Zim.  This time, a group calling itself the Stop Zim Action Committee succeeded in completely blocking the Zim Shanghai from unloading or loading any cargo at all in the port of Oakland. After trying for only 24 hours, it left for Los Angeles, where it had apparently made alternate arrangements for the cargo to be offloaded and transported to Oakland by other carriers (possibly by truck). Again, the result was extra cost and delay.

Unfortunately for Zim, Los Angeles and other cities decided to follow the Oakland example. On August 26, Block the Boat – LA held its first protest against the Zim Haifa.  Then, on October 18, the Zim Savannah remained at anchor for two days while picketers stayed at the port, calling on workers not to work the ship. In the end the workers agreed to cross the picket lines with police herding the protesters away, and the ship came in.

Protests and pickets were also held against Zim ships in Seattle/Tacoma, Washington and Tampa, Florida, but officials claimed that there were no delays. In Vancouver, Canada, an informational picket was held in order to initiate a dialog with the workers.

Indeed, workers were the key to the degree of success or failure at each port. Oakland has an activist union tradition with a keen socio-political conscience. In 1984 ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) Local 10 refused to unload a South African ship for eleven days, and in 2010 it refused to cross 24 hours of picket lines set up to block another Zim ship from unloading. That tradition may be less strong in other ports, but it argues for a partnership that may empower both labor and activist communities in ways that we have not seen in decades.

But what about other countries?  Palestinians and others were quite frankly astonished that the first successful denial of service to an Israeli ship would happen in a U.S. city, to say nothing of demonstrations in at least five different North American ports. The American resistance surprised everyone. Why, then, do we not see similar actions in other parts of the world?

Part of the reason is that Zim doesn’t operate everywhere. It has no ports of call on the west coast of South America, for example, or in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, its ships sail to Barcelona, whose dockworkers union sent a message of congratulations and solidarity to the Oakland workers. Why are no Zim ships being turned away in Barcelona?

South Africa also seems a likely location.  COSATU, the giant South African union, has repeatedly declared its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Why is it not participating? What about Cuba and Venezuela? Other possibilities might be Malaysia, Brazil, Greece and even Liverpool in the UK.

Until now, Zim and the Israeli government have been very cool about the potential impact of a movement that ought to terrify them to the depths of their souls. It takes only a small amount of disruption to cause shipping customers to take their business elsewhere.  As noted, this has already happened, starting with the first picket in August. We can only guess at the effect when a second Zim ship had to leave Oakland untouched.

In October, a third Zim ship, the Zim Beijing, was scheduled to arrive in Oakland, and another picket was planned. This time, however, the ship kept delaying its arrival date until it was de-listed from the port arrival schedule. There are no Zim ships currently scheduled to arrive in Oakland for the foreseeable future, although Zim bravely refuses to declare this as a policy.

Zim and the Israeli government dare not reveal how vulnerable they are. It will take only a few major ports around the world to sound the death knell for an Israeli shipping giant that is the tenth largest cargo carrier in the world (more than $3 billion in annual revenue). The loss of a few million in Oakland may not seem like much to them, but uncertain and unreliable delivery can put them at a huge disadvantage – perhaps even out of business. This is why we saw no counter-demonstrators at the port (actually one): they have to pretend it means nothing to them.

On the other hand, the Oakland victory cannot be sustained alone.  If it does not spread to other countries, it will wither. Israel knows that, but all their power and influence may be insufficient to prevent the movement from happening.  We have been looking for a way to strike a blow for Palestine. Now is our chance.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Torture in Israeli prisons: 200 methods used against Palestinian prisoners


Methods range between severe beatings, putting prisoners under cold water followed by hot water, cuffing or restraining them with their arms behind them and then tying them to a door or window for long periods of time, often lasting hours.
MEMO | October 29, 2014

Hundreds of torture methods used against Palestinian prisoners during interrogations conducted in Israeli prisoners have been observed by human rights organisations and prisoners’ rights associations.

A report by the United Nations lists around 200 methods of torture. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem listed around 105 torture methods. Regardless of the number, all these reports indicate a grave level of violations perpetrated against Palestinians following their arrest.

Fouad Khuffash, director of the Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights, suggests that torture can be divided into two categories; physical and psychological. Some believe that psychological torture is less harmful than physical torture, but the mental scars left by both can leave prisoners traumatised long after their release.

Khuffash adds: “Torture in Israeli prisons is systematic and starts from the moment a prisoner is arrested, not from the moment they begin interrogation. This is a premeditated and staged scenario that changes according to the case of the detainee and the nature of their file. Investigators alternate and play various roles assigned in advance to each investigator.”

Fahd Abu Al-Hajj, director of the Abu Jihad Centre for Prisoner Affairs at the University of Jerusalem, noted that there are 73 methods of interrogation considered to be the “most popular” in Israeli jails. These methods demonstrate the barbarism of the occupation and its lack of respect for basic standards of human rights, he stated.

He added: “Nothing evidences this more than the repeated death of prisoners under interrogation, the most recent of which was the death of the prisoner Raed Al-Jabari.”

Al-Hajj believes that the use of torture is systematic, adopted by the Israeli intelligence services and that no prisoner detained in any Israeli prison is spared.

He also explained that these methods range between severe beatings, putting prisoners under cold water followed by hot water, cuffing or restraining them with their arms behind them and then tying them to a door or window for long periods of time, often lasting hours. Prisoners are also made to sit on chairs and beaten with sticks until they lose consciousness. These beatings may target sensitive areas of their bodies which have the potential to leave long-term negative effects, sometimes leading to chronic diseases.

Forms of torture

Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem acknowledged in its report that 105 torture methods are used against Palestinian detainees which are considered serious violations of human rights. A UN human rights committee described the torture in Israeli prisons as “crossing the line”, noting that Israel’s brutal methods of torture included breaking backs, pulling fingers apart and twisting testicles.

Israeli intelligence bases their torture of detainees on the so-called secret guidelines that were approved in 1987, after the outbreak of the first Intifada. These guidelines allow them to apply “moderate” physical and psychological pressure on prisoners. This gives a legal cover to the torture practiced by Israeli intelligence agents.

In the last 10 years, interrogators have decreased their use of torture, moving away from physical torture and instead used harsh psychological methods that can leave enduring scars, while continuing to use direct physical torture of varying degrees.

Mohammed Kilani, who has experienced many interrogations, noted that his solitary confinement which exceeded two months during which he was forced to remain chained to a chair, was the harshest method of torture he has suffered.

He also added that throughout the entire prison system across the globe, there exists no torture method that has not been thought of or used by the Israeli authorities at some point.

According to statistics, around 72 prisoners were killed as a result of torture in Israeli prisons since 1967, out of a total number of over 200 prisoners who died behind bars.

The first prisoner to die as a result of being tortured was Yousef Al-Jabali who died on January 4 1968 in a Nablus prison. Many prisoners have since followed him, such as Qassem Abu Akar, Ibrahim Al-Rai, Abdul Samad Harizat, Attia Za’anin, Mustafa Akkawi, and others, including the most recent, Raed Al-Jabari.

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 5 Comments

Israel closes al-Aqsa to all visitors after the shooting of a right-wing rabbi


Al-Akhbar | October 30, 2014

Israeli Occupation Forces on Thursday closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to all visitors after an overnight shooting incident in which a man on a motorbike tried to gun down an Israeli hardliner.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying on Thursday.

“We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the al-Aqsa mosque this morning,” he told AFP.

“The state of Palestine will take all legal measures to hold Israel accountable and to stop these ongoing attacks,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man suspected of the shooting attack on the Israeli hardliner, a spokesman said.

“The Palestinian, who was the main suspect in the Wednesday night attack, was eliminated at his home in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood by special police forces,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

Abu Tor straddles the seam line between west Jerusalem and the occupied eastern sector, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.

The suspect’s death took place just hours after a gunman on a motorcycle had opened fire at a right-wing Zionist Rabbi called Yehuda Glick at a rally in Jerusalem, leaving him critically wounded.

Glick was reportedly shot in his upper body at “close range” at an event outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, where a number of Israeli members of Knesset and right-wing activists were in attendance, Israeli news site Ynet said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday ordered a “significant increase” in police deployments in Jerusalem following the shooting.

“I have ordered a significant increase in forces as well as in means (available to them) so we can both ensure security in Jerusalem and also maintain the status quo in the holy places,” he said in a statement released by his office.

The attack was reported after a conference focused on the reconstruction of a Jewish temple on top of the al-Aqsa mosque was concluded at the center, with top right-wing Zionist officials and activists in attendance.

The incident comes amid increasing tension in Jerusalem over an expected Knesset vote to potentially divide the al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam — between Muslims and Jews, or else restrict Muslim worship at the site.

The Israeli army radio announced early October that the ministry of tourism was working on a plan to allow Jews to enter the al-Aqsa compound through the Cotton Merchants Gate, in addition to the Moroccan Gate which is already used as an entrance for non-Muslims.

Although mainstream Jewish leaders consider it forbidden for Jews to enter the area, right-wing nationalist activists have increasingly called for Jewish prayer to be allowed on the site.

Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an agreement with Jordan has maintained that Jewish prayer be allowed at the Western Wall plaza — built on the site of a Palestinian neighborhood of 800 that was destroyed immediately following the conquest — but not inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound itself.

Yehuda Glick is an American-born Israeli and the chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, a Zionist organization focused on “strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Temple Mount.”

Critics charge that the Fund actually leads Jewish tours to the site with the intention of leading Jewish prayer there — currently banned under Israeli agreements — and encouraging Jews to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and build a Jewish temple there.

He has been previously banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound due to provocations while on the site.

For Muslims, al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site.

Al-Aqsa restrictions, violations

Israel continues to restrict the entry of Palestinian worshipers into al-Aqsa for the fifth week in a row.

In an urgent message to the US administration on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that Israel’s continued provocations at the mosque complex would lead to a “wide-reaching explosion.”

Israeli authorities have imposed restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, denying Muslim men under 40 access to the holy site while facilitating the entry of Zionist settlers of all ages.

In recent months, hundreds of extremist Zionist settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The frequent violations anger Palestinians who fear Zionist presence on the al-Aqsa is aimed at usurping the site.

Abbas said Saturday legal measures would be taken to prevent Zionist settlers from attacking Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

“The Palestinian leadership will be taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas said in a speech to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party.

“We will not allow settlers to attack the mosque,” he added, referring to the entire compound, which is the third holiest site in Islam.

A Palestinian official last week called for holding an emergency Arab and Islamic summit to discuss Israeli plans to divide the al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Israel is racing against time to legitimize storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound by herds of extremist settlers,” Ahmed Qurei, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement.

Earlier this month, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” saying that such actions “only inflame tensions and must stop.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement condemned the “Israeli aggressions within the al-Aqsa Mosque compound” and slammed “Arab silence” and “international complicity.”

The resistance group called on “directing all efforts to protect al-Aqsa and the Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

(Ma’an, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Sweden recognizes Palestinian state as UN fails to condemn Israeli settlements

Al-Akhbar | October 30, 2014

Sweden on Thursday officially recognized the state of Palestine, Stockholm’s foreign minister said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the move and one day after UN Security Council failed to condemn Israeli settlement plans.

“Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters.

“By making our decision we want to bring a new dynamic to the stalled peace process.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the decision, his spokesman told AFP.

“President Abbas welcomes Sweden’s decision,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, saying the Palestinian leader described the move as “brave and historic.”

Sweden is the first EU member state in western Europe to recognize Palestine.

European countries are stepping up the pressure on Israel to seek a peace deal, with the British and Irish parliament recently holding a non-binding vote on recognizing statehood.

Abu Rudeina claimed that Sweden’s recognition was linked to months of soaring tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have clashed almost daily with Israeli Occupation Forces and where Israel has recently pushed ahead with plans to build another 3,600 settler homes.

“This decision comes as a response to Israeli measures in Jerusalem,” he said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday denounced the Swedish government’s recognition of a Palestinian state as “deplorable”, saying it would undermine efforts to resolve the conflict.

“The decision of the Swedish government to recognize a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements,” he claimed in a statement.

“It is a shame that the Swedish government chose to take this declarative step which causes a lot of harm and offers no advantage,” he said.

“The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity.”

Wallstrom rejected accusations that Sweden was taking sides and she hoped other EU countries would follow Sweden’s lead.

No Security Council statement condemning Israel

The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Zionist settlements, at an emergency meeting called to address tensions in occupied East Jerusalem.

The 15-nation council met for urgent talks at Jordan’s and Palestine’s request after Israel announced plans on Monday to build 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem.

However, no resolution was adopted and there was no Security Council statement condemning Israel.

“Israel, the occupying power, must be demanded to cease immediately and completely its illegal settlement activities throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told the council.

Mansour said he was disappointed that the council had failed to issue a statement but praised members for speaking forcefully against Israeli settlements.

Speaking to the council, top UN official Jeffrey Feltman said the Israeli practice of moving settlers to Palestinian territories was “in violation of international law” and runs counter to a two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “alarmed” by the latest plans for new Israeli settlements which “once again raise grave doubts about Israel’s commitment to achieving durable peace,” Feltman told the council.

Israel’s ambassador Ron Prosor shot back, rejecting suggestions that settlement building jeopardized peace and accusing the UN of “playing second fiddle” to a Palestinian “campaign to vilify” his country.

“There are many threats in the Middle East, but the presence of Jewish homes is not one of them,” Prosor told the council.

Speaking to reporters outside council chambers, Prosor insisted the settlements were “not illegal” and that “building housing units in Jerusalem for children in places where there are Jewish neighborhoods is something that we will continue to do.”

Besides the 1,000 new settler homes, Israel has recently approved the construction of more than 2,600 settler homes in East Jerusalem.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

US, European countries “condemn” Israeli settlements

Even though there was no Security Council statement condemning the Israeli violations, Israel came under strong criticism from several countries, which called for an end to unilateral actions including settlement expansions.

The US representative David Pressman told the council “settlement activity will only further escalate tensions at a time that is already tense enough.”

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant warned that ongoing construction of Zionist settlements in Palestinian territories “makes it much more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not serious about peace.”

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said “the risk of an explosion of uncontrolled violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank cannot be ignored” and called on Israel to drop the planned settlement.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the plan should be “frozen” and urged the council to play a more pro-active role to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

On Wednesday, the Spanish government expressed its regret at the settlements plan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the decision “does not reflect the formally accepted target of negotiating with the Palestinians to seek a peaceful, global and lasting solution based on two states.”

The ministry also reiterated its position, shared by the international community, that all forms of Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.

Israel’s latest push for settlements followed weeks of clashes between Palestinian youths and police in East Jerusalem over fears that Israel wanted to restrict access to the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Feltman called for a de-escalation, saying that both sides “can ill-afford” to inflame tensions so soon after the devastating Gaza war, which left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

In a draft resolution circulated, the Palestinian Authority set November 2016 as the deadline for ending the Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and establishing a two-state solution.

It is worth noting that numerous pro-Palestine activists argue in favor of a one-state solution, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable. They add that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.

(AFP, Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment