Sunday, August 29, 2010

'The 21st Century Citizen’s Weapon of Choice – The Shoe'

From President Zardari of Pakistan is Pelted with Shoes at UK Rally by Abdus Sattar Ghazali:

The shoe throwing incident led the President to stop his address and immediately leave the place in a security cordon in his car waiting for him outside. The incident caught global attention instantly as many enthusiasts circulated the news through internet.

Telling, while shoes were thrown at President Zardari inside the International Convention Centre, a demonstrator was holding a shoe up to a manipulated photograph of President Zardari outside of the Centre.

Perhaps, after the December 14, 2008 incident in which Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, threw shoes at President George Bush during his farewell visit to Iraq, shoe throwing has now become a tradition to lodge political protests.

Here are some incidents of shoe throwing as political protests around the world:

On June 5, 2010, hundreds of anti-Israeli protestors hurled old shoes at the US consulate in Auckland in an "expression of outrage and anger" over the Israeli commando attack on Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters. The demonstration, organized by Global Peace and Justice Auckland, was a call for sanctions against the Israeli government after nine humanitarian aid workers were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla of boats traveling to Gaza with aid. The protestors marched to the US consulate where they threw the shoes before listening to various speakers, including Palestinians, an Irishman, a Turkish man and several others with friends in the flotilla.

On October 1, 2009, a demonstrator at a university in Istanbul, Turkey, threw a shoe at the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to protest against the IMF policies. The man was part of a group protesting at IMF involvement in Turkish politics. The shoe fell short of hitting Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Word of the incident spread rapidly. Local TV news showed repeated the clip endlessly, sometimes using a split screen showing the Iraqi journalist who tossed a shoe at President Bush.

On April 7, 2009, Jarnail Singh, a New Delhi journalist, got into a heated exchange with the Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, launched his size 9 Reebok sneaker at the minister, who was standing five feet away. He missed the target. Fame of the incident quickly followed. The Shiromani Akali Dal, a Sikh political party, offered Singh a $4,000 reward for his "courage and bravery." Three days later, a retired school teacher threw a shoe at popular Congress lawmaker Naveen Jindal, during an election rally in Haryana state.

On April 26, 2009, a 21-year-old student flung his footwear at the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a rally in the city of Ahmedabad. The same night, at a different political gathering in Ahmedabad, a wooden sandal was tossed at prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) L.K. Advani. Advani was also the target of another shoe-throw earlier in the election season.

On February 2, 2009, a protester threw a shoe at Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, as he delivered a speech on the global economy at Cambridge University, England.

On February 23, 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan survived an attack from the 21st century citizen's weapon of choice – the shoe. A Syrian man of Kurdish origin was detained in Spain after throwing a shoe at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southern city of Seville. Erdogan was getting into a car after receiving a cultural cooperation award at the city hall. The 27-year-old man hurled a shoe at the prime minister, shouting "Viva Kurdistan." The shoe hit Erdogan's car instead of the premier, and was picked up by his bodyguards.

On January 19, 2009, Anti-war protesters threw shoes outside the gates of the White House on President Bush's last day in office. About 500 people marched to the White House and threw about 40 pairs of shoes at the gate while tourists looked on and took photos. Supporters say they acted in solidarity with Muntadhar Al-Zeidi, the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

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Dr. David Kelly and the Biowarfare Mafia

British weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly was writing an expose about his work with anthrax and his warnings that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction at the time of his death in July 2003, according to a report published in a British newspaper.

Kelly's death -- said to have been a suicide -- has stirred controversy, as it came on the heels of testimony to the House of Commons about a memo which purported that Britain had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. A Parliamentary inquiry ruled that the death had been suicide, though it also included testimony from a former British ambassador who quotes Kelly as having said, "I will probably be found dead in the woods" if Iraq were invaded.

The new report says Kelly had spoken with an Oxford publisher several times about a book.

"He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets," the UK Daily Express alleged.

Kelly's computers were seized in the wake of his death. He was a signatory to Britain's Official Secrets Act, which allows for the prosecution of those who talk to the press about state secrets and prescribes a more stringent framework for secrecy than in the United States.

According to the paper, "he was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq weeks before the ­British and American invasion" and was also intending to lift the lid on a potentially bigger scandal, his own secret dealings in germ warfare with the apartheid regime in South Africa."

The allegations of a potential Kelly expose come from a new film about biological weapons being debuted in London on the sixth anniversary of Kelly's death titled "Anthrax War" (the documentary aired earlier this year on Canadian public television). Kelly was an expert in biological warfare agents, as well as a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.

'Anthrax War'

The deeper you look into the murky world of governments and germ warfare, the more worrying it becomes," the film's director, Bob Coen, is quoted as saying. We have proved there is a black ­market in anthrax. David Kelly was of particular interest to us because he was a world expert on anthrax and he was involved in some degree with assisting the secret germ warfare program in apartheid South Africa.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's summary of the film, Coen "was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population" [who] embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI's investigation of the 21st century's first act of biological terrorism.

"Coen's investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts 'Doctor Death' Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program," the network's website adds. "Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country's black population.

"Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world's leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK's top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins," the CBC continues. "The FBI claims - despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials - that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders."

* * *

Watch Anthrax War - part 1

The Slow Revelation of Poland’s ‘CIA Detention Facilities’

The question of whether Poland hosted a secret detention facility for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency remains murky, but evidence is mounting, slowly.

All may become a lot clearer if Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza is correct in reporting Wednesday that Poland's former leaders may face war crime charges for agreeing to host the facility.

According to earlier unconfirmed reports, Poland hosted a secret CIA prison in 2002-2005, during the presidency of Aleksander Kwasniewski and the government run by Leszek Miller, both leaders of the left-leaning Democratic Left Alliance.

Reports of the existence of the prison first appeared in 2005, and in 2007 a Council of Europe investigation led by Dick Marty concluded it had “factually established that secret detention centers operated by the CIA have existed for some years in Poland and Romania” and possibly other states, with the Polish facility being host to detainees who were considered especially sensitive.

It said “The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes protracted.”

Polish authorities have repeatedly denied the existence of any facility.

Since then, news media brought more details. In June 2008, the New York Times said, citing unnamed CIA officers, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been held in Poland. A Kuwaiti suspected of mass murder of civilians, he remains in U.S. custody. Later in the year, Polish daily Dziennik quoted two anonymous Polish intelligence officers who said the CIA held terror suspects inside a military intelligence training base in Kiejkuty, northeastern Poland. Only the CIA had access to the zone created in the secluded base, but which had easy access to a former military airport in the vicinity, according to the report.

Earlier this year for the first time the Polish aviation authority  delivered the first official confirmation that airplanes operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency landed in Poland in 2003.

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Australia: 'Secret' detention centre plan denied

The Federal Government has come under attack over "secret" plans to expand Western Australia's Curtin detention centre to house 3000 asylum seekers.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard says any suggestion the centre will be enlarged to cater for that many is "simply not true" and there were "no secret plans".

About 560 Afghan men are currently housed at the centre near Derby in far north WA - 150 were transferred there from Christmas Island last week.

A Department of Immigration spokesman said Curtin was undergoing an expansion to boost accommodation to up to 600 detainees.

Today, Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the government of having a "secret" plan to boost the centre's capacity.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Mr Morrison showed plans for the expansion of the centre, dated July 23, to increase its capacity from 600 to 3000.

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Latin death squads invade Iraq

'A worldwide “Assassination Inc.” that is unique in human affairs'

From Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America's Military Strategy in the Muslim World by Fred Branfman (Alternet):

The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America's military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more "enemies," as Gen. McChrystal suggests -- posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military's policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.

The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing -- though directed and financed by the C.I.A. -- has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now changed dramatically.

What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims -- through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.

Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale "mechanized assassination." As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: "For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war."

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Canada: Resisting the will of the people

Re: Resistance may be futile, Aug. 22

Thanks to Nicholas Keung for the well-researched article about Americans who have come to Canada as a way of resisting the United States' ill-advised wars. The article implies that Canadian attitudes to these people have changed since the '70s. On the contrary: Polls indicate that more than 60 per cent of Canadians want them to stay here, and Parliament, which represents Canadian citizens, has twice passed a motion to allow them to stay.

It is the minority Conservative government that has been so adamant that the war resisters are illegitimate refugees, and is doing everything it can to ignore the will of Parliament. The government wants to force them to return to a system that may jail them for a time, and subsequently prevent them from accessing normal civil rights. As Keung pointed out, Robin Long's dishonourable discharge means that for the rest of his life he is not allowed to vote. He can't get a passport or ever leave the U.S.

Once Bill C-440, an act in support of U.S. war resisters, is passed by Parliament, the government will finally be forced to listen to the will of Canadians and allow these brave men and women to stay here in Canada.

Elizabeth (Beth) Guthrie, Toronto

If we deport Iraq war resisters, we'll be losing something much more serious than merely the “generosity” we had in the Vietnam War era. Since the Iraq War was a first-strike war, we'll also be forgetting the hard-won Nuremberg Principles established after we witnessed World War II horrors and massive human suffering.

Thankfully, your article reminded us of this: “At the Nuremberg trials of Nazi members following World War II, the United Nations recognized that foot soldiers cannot justify their participation in war crimes on the excuse of following their superiors' order.”

Soon after the Sept. 27 vote on Bill C-440, there's Remembrance Day, or perhaps even an election day. Then those who vote for Stephen Harper, and his new immigration policy of red-flagging foot soldiers resisting a first-strike war, should ask themselves: Can we, without contradiction, say “Lest We Forget”?

Boyd Reimer, Toronto

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Dean Baker: "Our income is a cost to the rich"

...If this disaster were preventable and we knew how to get out of it, why didn't our leaders try to stop it before it happened? Why don't they take the steps necessary now to get the economy moving again?

The answer to both these questions is simple: The politicians work for someone else. On Election Day, the politicians might need our votes, but they won't get to be serious contenders unless they've gotten the campaign contributions of the big money crew. And the moneyed elite has been using its control of the political process to ensure that an ever larger share of the economy's output is redistributed upward in their direction.

The reason that there was little interest in cracking down on the housing bubble is that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest were making a fortune from the financial shenanigans that fueled the bubble. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin personally pocketed over $100 million from this fun. Why would they want the government to rein it in?

Of course, when the bubble did finally blow and threaten their banks with bankruptcy, the Wall Street crew just ran to the government for help. And they got trillions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to ensure that they would not be victims of the crisis they had created. Now that they are back on their feet, with Wall Street profits and bonuses both again at near record levels, they see little reason to concern themselves with the measures that might set the economy right for the rest of us.

After all, the steps necessary to revitalize the economy could mean some inflation. This would reduce the value of the debt owned by the wealthy. And the wealthy don't see any reason that they should risk any of their wealth just for the good of the economy.

We have enormous ground to cover to restore an economy that works for the vast majority, but the first step is to know where we are. The upward redistribution of the last three decades has nothing to do with the market and a belief in "market fundamentalism." This is about a process where the rich and powerful have rewritten the rules to make themselves richer and more powerful.

[ ... ]

No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target.

We have to fight back using the same logic. Their income is our cost -- the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else.

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Environmental and Animal Rights Activist Returned to Prison for Facebooking

“When friends are outlawed, only outlaws will have friends.”
–Mike Roselle

Ummm, yeah. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching. We knew it would happen sooner or later. The surveillance state is not only watching social media sites, the social media sites are the surveillance state.

Long time environmental and animal rights activist Rod Coronado is being sent back to prison for four months for “friending” Earth First!, RAN and Ruckus Society co-founder and anti-mountaintop removal organizer Mike Roselle on Facebook and for accessing an unauthorized compter. ...

Coronado known for “Operation Bite Back,” a series of animal liberation actions and arson in the 1990's for which he served a stint in federal prison, has been an outspoken opponent to cruelty to animals and environmental destruction since the 1980's. After serving that prison term, he continued to advocate direct action and spoke often on animal rights and environmental issues. In 2003, the federal government targeted him for a mountain lion hunt sabotage and speaking publicly about tactics he used in the 1990's.

And they went after him HARD. The way that Christian Bale went after Johnny Depp last summer in “Public Enemies.” He served 8 months for the hunt sabotage and struck a bargain after a jury returned deadlocked on the public speaking charges and a mistrial was declared. Part of the plea agreement was a year in prison and federal probation. They've gagged him. He's on monitored computers, he can't associate with radical environmentalists and he can't speak out on animal and environmental issues.

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