Keeping Colombo on its bloody toes
Posted: 28 Apr 2010 04:56 PM PDT

We will not forget:

More than a year after Sri Lanka launched its final offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, pressure continues to mount for an international tribunal into alleged war crimes. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon plans to appoint a panel of experts to look into a tribunal, something the Sri Lankan government says is unwarranted and uncalled for.
Now Australian lawyers are joining forces with the International Commission of Jurists to take witness statements and prepare evidence for any war crimes tribunal.

The rules of the real propaganda game
Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:06 AM PDT

“(A)nyone who is deeply moved by one set of tragedies while ignoring, and even justifying, those on the other side, in reality is not genuinely touched by either. It’s just an arm of their propaganda.”
Mark Steel, ‘What’s Going On?’, Simon & Schuster, 2008, p.25

Can somebody please tell Israel that she can’t occupy and be a democracy?
Posted: 28 Apr 2010 06:53 AM PDT

How long must we play this charade?

The announcement of upcoming “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians raises a number of questions – what exactly will they talk about? What else can be renewed in the peace process, where everything seems to have been tried while peace remains elusive? What trick does George Mitchell, the mediator of the hour, have up his sleeve that was kept from his frustrated predecessors?
Israel wants to extract itself from the morass of control over the Palestinians, who accuse it of apartheid and force it to choose between its Jewish identity and its democracy. But Israel also wants to keep most of the West Bank, the settlements and security control, and to enjoy exclusive rights over Jerusalem.

Health crisis in the Gaza Strip
Posted: 28 Apr 2010 12:10 AM PDT

The Israeli experiment, otherwise known as Gaza:

The Gaza Strip’s ministry of health has warned that fuel shortage is pushing the energy-stripped enclave to the verge of a humanitarian and health crisis.
The warning comes days after the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-run coastal sliver led to the closure of the energy-stripped territory’s sole power plant on April 9, forcing a total blackout.
The shut-down prompted Gaza’s hospitals and clinics to turn to their back-up generators, which need 22,000 liters of diesel a day and, thus, the medical centers are running dangerously low on fuel.
“Because of the power shortage from the main source of electricity in Gaza, we rely on generators now. The problem with these generators is that they consume a large amount of fuel during the power outage,” Health Ministry’s Director General Medhat Abbas told Press TV.
Abbas said they were running out of all the fuel supplies in the hospitals of Gaza, which would mean death for premature infants, cardiac patients on life support and those in intensive care.
“The effect of power outage in hospitals is devastating,” he warned, noting the urgent need for fuel to maintain the hospitals’ emergency services, medicines refrigerators, labs and blood banks.
The health ministry on Monday issued a statement and called on the international community to offer immediate and urgent aid to Gaza.
It also urged pressure on Israel into allowing fuel into the strip and to lift its crippling siege of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

MIA uses her Tamil heritage to make a point
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 10:31 PM PDT

A very strong new video by Tamil MIA, Born Free, shocks the senses. And rightly so:

If singer/rapper M.I.A.’s purpose was to get people talking about her new single “Born Free,” she succeeded.
The Sri Lankan-born artist debuted the graphic video on Monday. Immediately, fans took to social media to debate its scenes of military force, violence and brutality.
“M.I.A. is a provocateur and someone who tries to rile people up in a variety of ways,” said Saul Austerlitz, author of “Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes.”
“I think one of the main routes that she takes to that end is the political, and this video has a lot of political resonances, things like Guantanamo, the Iraqi insurgency and the Taliban all sort of jumbled together and rebranded.”
The almost nine-minute video for the song from her upcoming album includes nudity as well as scenes of brutality. Directed by filmmaker Romain Gavras, the video revolves around the rounding up of red-headed young men by a group of military commandos.
At one point, a boy is shot point-blank in the head and another young man is blown to pieces. YouTube reportedly yanked the video in light of its content.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

This is the real face of Israel: intolerant and insular
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 09:57 PM PDT

A democracy in name only and a growing tendency towards fascism. Zionism grows uglier by the day:

More than half of Jewish Israelis think human rights organizations that expose immoral behavior by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely, and think there is too much freedom of expression here, a recent survey found.
The survey, commissioned by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, will be presented Wednesday at a conference on the limits of freedom of expression.
The pollsters surveyed 500 Jewish Israelis who can be considered a representative sample of the adult Jewish population.
They found that 57.6 percent of the respondents agreed that human rights organizations that expose immoral conduct by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely.
Slightly more than half agreed that “there is too much freedom of expression” in Israel.
The poll also found that most of the respondents favor punishing Israeli citizens who support sanctioning or boycotting the country, and support punishing journalists who report news that reflects badly on the actions of the defense establishment.
Another 82 percent of respondents said they back stiff penalties for people who leak illegally obtained information exposing immoral conduct by the defense establishment.
“Israelis have a distorted perception of democracy,” said Daniel Bar-Tal, a professor at the university’s school of education, and one of the conference’s organizers. “The public recognizes the importance of democratic values, but when they need to be applied, it turns out most people are almost anti-democratic.”
Another conference participant, Ben-Gurion University’s David Newman, called the polling results “very worrying,” adding that there has been an assault on freedom of expression in recent years.
“We say Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but in Europe they are beginning to think of us otherwise,” he said.
Virtually all the respondents, 98 percent, said freedom of expression was important, but the picture changed when the questions got into the details.
Regarding human rights groups’ rights to operate freely, responses varied based upon the respondents’ reported political views. Of those who said they were right-wing, 76 percent said human rights groups should not have the right to freely publicize immoral conduct on Israel’s part.
The political differences were not as apparent in response to some other questions.
The poll showed 65 percent of all of those questioned think the Israeli media should be barred from publishing news that defense officials think could endanger state security, even if the news was reported abroad.
Another 43 percent said the media should not report information confirmed by Palestinian sources that could reflect poorly on the Israeli army. Fifty-eight percent of respondents opposed harsh criticism of the country, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2003.
“Faith in democratic values was not measured abstractly, but rather was put to the test regarding specific cases. Then, it turns out the Israeli public is not tolerant or pluralistic,” Bar-Tal said. “The education system teaches students about government authorities and election procedures, but there is no in-depth discussion about democratic values and [how to] instill them. The whole subject of values is perceived as something left-wing.”

Only married men can open web cafes in Iran
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 09:51 PM PDT

The American Islamic Congress reveals details of the utterly absurd situation in Iran. It would be almost funny except we’re talking about people lives and freedom:

Surveillance cameras? Check. Transparent glass? Check. Segregated seating? Check. If you want to open an Internet cafe in Mashhad – the hometown of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei – you had better keep up with the new regulations. The CRIME Report’s Iran correspondents point to the bizarre new requirements governing Mashhadi Net cafes:

  • The manager must be at least 30 years old – and married.
  • Surveillance cameras must be installed throughout the store.
  • The store must be at street-level.
  • The store must not be near any female educational facilities.
  • The exterior of the store must be made from the un-tinted, completely transparent (literally, “aquarium-like”) glass.
  • Installing any blinds or posters that hinder visibility of interior from outside is illegal.
  • People from the opposite sex are banned from sitting next to one another (even if they are “mahram,” i.e., close relatives).
  • Giving the cafe a foreign name is illegal. Owners are advised to consult with the local authorities for choosing a suitable name.
  • Owners must thoroughly record the ID of every customer.
  • These records should be kept at least for 6 months. Video recording should be kept for at least two months.

Our correspondents note: “The requirements for opening a Net cafe are not much different in other Iranian cities. Their main function is to act as constraints to the undesirable growth of the new technology in the country. Laying the grounds for arbitrary crackdowns on the existing IT businesses is another goal they intend to pursue. So you see, these requirements are not as stupid as they seem.”

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 08:12 PM PDT

A useful guide to assisting governments in censoring content on the internet:

Bolivia has more climate answers than the US of A
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 08:06 PM PDT

Naomi Klein on an event that received virtually no Western media coverage (except Democracy Now!):

Cochabamba, Bolivia
It was 11 am and Evo Morales had turned a football stadium into a giant classroom, marshaling an array of props: paper plates, plastic cups, disposable raincoats, handcrafted gourds, wooden plates and multicolored ponchos. All came into play to make his main point: to fight climate change, “we need to recover the values of the indigenous people.”
Yet wealthy countries have little interest in learning these lessons and are instead pushing through a plan that at its best would raise average global temperatures 2 degrees Celsius. “That would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers,” Morales told the thousands gathered in the stadium, part of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. What he didn’t have to say is that the Bolivian people, no matter how sustainably they choose to live, have no power to save their glaciers.
Bolivia’s climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.
It’s little wonder. Bolivia is in the midst of a dramatic political transformation, one that has nationalized key industries and elevated the voices of indigenous peoples as never before. But when it comes to Bolivia’s most pressing, existential crisis–the fact that its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities–Bolivians are powerless to do anything to change their fate on their own.
That’s because the actions causing the melting are taking place not in Bolivia but on the highways and in the industrial zones of heavily industrialized countries. In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the North just wasn’t there.
More than that, the United States made clear that it didn’t need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. It would negotiate a deal with other heavy emitters behind closed doors, and the rest of the world would be informed of the results and invited to sign on, which is precisely what happened with the Copenhagen Accord. When Bolivia and Ecuador refused to rubber-stamp the accord, the US government cut their climate aid by $3 million and $2.5 million, respectively. “It’s not a free-rider process,” explained US climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing. (Anyone wondering why activists from the global South reject the idea of “climate aid” and are instead demanding repayment of “climate debts” has their answer here.) Pershing’s message was chilling: if you are poor, you don’t have the right to prioritize your own survival.

When are we going to read about Israel’s backing of Zionist terrorism?
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 07:53 PM PDT

The issue of “incitement” is often a convenient distraction in the Middle East. Israel accuses the Palestinians of brain-washing their children to hate Jews and Israelis. Of course, and far less discussed, is the mainstream Zionist hatred of Palestinians and their civil and human rights. Palestinians are expected to accept Israel as a Jewish state and have no issue with Zionist signs and names across the country.
Bitterlemons hosts an interesting discussion.
See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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