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2011 October 5 | Activist News

The Road to World War 3

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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »


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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Daily Archives: October 5, 2011

Bahrain Orders Retrials for Medical Workers

New York Times
Oct. 5, 2011

Judicial authorities in Bahrain on Wednesday nullified the convictions and harsh prison terms given to 20 medical workers last week by a special security court prosecuting cases arising from civil unrest in the country. The medical workers were ordered released from custody, with new trials scheduled in a civilian court.

The decision appeared to be at least a tactical retreat by Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy in the face of strong international protests over the punishments, including criticism from the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. The special court had condemned some doctors and nurses among the defendants to terms as long as 15 years because they had treated demonstrators who were wounded by security forces. Most of the protesters are members of the Shiite majority in the tiny Persian Gulf country.

Bahrain’s attorney general, Ali Alboainain, said in a statement carried by the country’s official Bahrain News Agency that he had studied the judgment that the security court rendered Thursday and had “determined that the cases should be retried before the ordinary courts.”

Citing his department’s authority to ensure “rightful application of the law,” the attorney general also said: “No doctors or other medical personnel may be punished by reason of the fulfillment of their humanitarian duties or their political views. Pending the outcome of the retrials, the accused shall not be detained.”

The security court found that during the height of the protests, the medical workers took over the Salmaniya Medical Complex, Bahrain’s largest public hospital, and used it as a base for antigovernment plots, including the storage of fuel bombs and weapons. The defendants were also accused of stealing medical equipment and “fabricating stories and lies.”

Supporters of the defendants denied those charges and said the medical workers were put on trial simply because they treated wounded protesters, out of a duty to treat anyone who came to the hospital.

In what seemed a tacit acknowledgement that the defendants had been denied rights by the special court, the attorney general said, “By virtue of the retrials, the accused will have the benefit of full reevaluation of evidence and full opportunity to present their defense.”

The prosecution of the medical workers has become a signature theme in the course of the Bahrain conflict, and a sensitive issue for the monarchy, an important American ally and the host to the United States Fifth Fleet’s naval base. Rights groups have accused the monarchy’s security forces of trying to systematically deny medical services to wounded protesters by mistreating and intimidating doctors and nurses.

Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group that has strongly criticized the Bahrain government’s behavior in the protests, reacted cautiously to the attorney general’s announcement on Wednesday. “ We are glad for any kind of review of the grossly unjust convictions,” said Hans Hogrefe, the group’s Washington director. At the same time, he said, “ the proof will be in the pudding.”

Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/world/middleeast/bahrain-orders-retrials-for-medical-workers.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss 

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Bahrain sentences 19 to jail for protests

Associated Press
Oct. 5, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A security court in Bahrain on Wednesday sentenced 19 people, including a 16-year-old Iraqi soccer player, to up to five years in prison for taking part in Shiite-led protests against the Gulf nation’s Sunni rulers.
The decision brings the total number of people sentenced this week to at least 81, as Bahrain’s authorities step up prosecutions of hundreds of people arrested in the crackdown on dissent. Bahrain’s majority Shiites claim they face widespread discrimination. More than 30 people have been killed since February in Bahrain’s unrest, which was inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.
On Wednesday, the court sentenced 13 people to five years in prison, and six people to one year terms for alleged attacks during the unrest, including trying to torch a police station, the Information Affairs Authority said in a statement. The verdicts can be appealed.

Family members, journalists and human rights activists attended the hearing, which took place in the Al-Khamees police station, according to the statement.

The detention of the Iraqi teenager, Zulfiqar Naji, sparked angry demonstrations in Iraq and as far away as Canada calling for his release. It also prompted the Iraq government to make a plea to Bahrain on his behalf. Naji played for a local soccer club in Bahrain until his arrest.
The player’s father, Abdulameer Naji, said in July that his son was taken into custody from their Bahrain home in April on suspicion of participating in protests. The father has since fled to Iraq but the boy’s mother and several of his siblings have remained in Bahrain.

Wall Street protest movement spreads to cities across US, Canada and Europe

Oct. 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street protests reach Boston, LA, St Louis and Kansas City, and are planned in cities across US and abroad.

It began as the brainchild of activists across the border in Canada when an anti-consumerism magazine put out a call in July for supporters to occupy Wall Street.

Now, three weeks after a few hundred people heeded that initial call and rolled out their sleeping bags in a park in New York‘s financial district, they are being joined by supporters in cities across the US and beyond.

Armed with Twitter, Facebook and shared Googledocs, protesters against corporate greed, unemployment and the political corruption that they say Wall Street represents have taken to the streets in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis and Kansas City.

The core group, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), claims people will take part in demonstrations in as many as 147 US cities this month, while the website occupytogether.org lists 47 US states as being involved. Around the world, protests in Canada, the UK, Germany and Sweden are also planned, they say.

The speed of the leaderless movement’s growth has taken many by surprise. Occupytogether.org, one of several sites associated with the protest, has had to be rebuilt to accommodate the traffic.

OWS media spokesman Patrick Bruner said: “We have on our board right now 147 US cities. I don’t know whether they are occupied or they are planning on being occupied. My guess would be over 30 cities are occupied.”

The original call by the Canadian magazine Adbusters to occupy Wall Street drew hundreds of protesters on 17 September and 2,000 attended a march the following Saturday. But the movement, which organisers say has its roots in the Arab spring and in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol protests, has been galvanised by recent media attention.

Last week, the Guardian reported that a NYPD police officer had been filmed spraying four women protesters with pepper spray. On Saturday, a peaceful march on Brooklyn bridge intended as a call to the other four boroughs of New York to join in resulted in 700 arrests. Some protesters claim the police trapped them.

There are now two investigations, including an internal police inquiry, into the pepper spraying incident.

Bruner said the protest had snowballed in the last few days: “The American people have realised that the American dream has been assassinated and the murderer is still on the loose.”

A message on the occupytogether site apologises for the site rebuild and directs readers to update links. It reads: “Wow, the groups organising and occupations popping up across the country is growing exponentially by the day. So much so that, in order to have proper navigation and organisation on the site, we had to begin categorising these pages by state. Because of this, every occupation’s permalink has been changed.”

Thornin Caristo, of OWS, said the movement had taken hold because it had tapped into anger at inequality, unemployment and corporate greed. He predicted it would continue to grow.
Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/04/wall-street-protest-movement-spreads 

Saudi police open fire on civilians as protests gain momentum

The Independent
Oct. 5, 2011
By Peter Cockburn

Pro-democracy protests which swept the Arab world earlier in the year have erupted in eastern Saudi Arabia over the past three days, with police opening fire with live rounds and many people injured, opposition activists say.
Saudi Arabia last night confirmed there had been fighting in the region and that 11 security personnel and three civilians had been injured in al-Qatif, a large Shia city on the coast of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. The opposition say that 24 men and three women were wounded on Monday night and taken to al-Qatif hospital.
The Independent has been given exclusive details of how the protests developed by local activists. They say unrest began on Sunday in al-Awamiyah, a Shia town of about 25,000 people, when Saudi security forces arrested a 60-year-old man to force his son – an activist – to give himself up. 

Ahmad Al-Rayah, a spokesman for the Society for Development and Change, which is based in the area, said that most of the civilians hit were wounded in heavy firing by the security forces after 8pm on Monday. “A crowd was throwing stones at a police station and when a local human rights activist named Fadel al-Mansaf went into the station to talk to them and was arrested,” he said.
Mr Rayah added that “there have been protests for democracy and civil rights since February, but in the past the police fired into the air. This is the first time they have fired live rounds directly into a crowd.” He could not confirm if anybody had been killed.
The Shia of Saudi Arabia, mostly concentrated in the Eastern Province, have long complained of discrimination against them by the fundamentalist Sunni Saudi monarchy. The Wahhabi variant of Islam, the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia, holds Shia to be heretics who are not real Muslims.
The US, as the main ally of Saudi Arabia, is likely to be alarmed by the spread of pro-democracy protests to the Kingdom and particularly to that part of it which contains the largest oil reserves in the world. The Saudi Shia have been angered at the crushing of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain since March, with many protesters jailed, tortured or killed, according Western human rights organisations.
Hamza al-Hassan, an opponent of the Saudi government from Eastern Province living in Britain, predicted that protests would spread to more cities. “I am frightened when I see video film of events because most people in this region have guns brought in over the years from Iraq and Yemen and will use them [against government security men],” he said. He gave a slightly different account of the start of the riots in al-Awamiyah, saying that two elderly men had been arrested by the security forces, one of whom had a heart attack.
“Since September there has been a huge presence of Saudi security forces in al-Qatif and all other Shia centres,” he said. Al-Qatif was the scene of similar protests in March, which were swiftly quashed by security forces. 

Thousands of California inmates join hunger strike

Oct. 5, 2011
By Jason Kandel

(Reuters) – Thousands of inmates in several California prisons have taken part in a 9-day-old hunger strike, demanding an end to what they call inhumane conditions, prison officials and an inmate advocacy group said on Tuesday.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation counted 1,186 inmates in four prisons as participating in the hunger strike as of Tuesday, down from more than 4,200 inmates at eight prisons on September 29.

But a prisoner rights group put the number of hunger strike participants higher, saying as many as 12,000 inmates at eight California state prisons have taken part in refusing to eat.

The protest comes as California has begun carrying out a state-mandated plan to ease prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for thousands of inmates and ex-convicts to county authorities.

The current hunger strike grew out of a protest started in July by prisoners housed in Northern California’s Pelican Bay State Prison.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-usa-prisons-california-idUSTRE7940Q520111005

Poll: 1 in 3 vets sees Iraq, Afghan wars as wastes

Associated Press
Oct. 5, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.
The findings highlight a dilemma for the Obama administration and Congress as they struggle to shrink the government’s huge budget deficits and reconsider defense priorities while trying to keep public support for remaining involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for the longer term.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan. Combined war costs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have topped $1 trillion.

The poll results presented by the Pew Research Center portray post-9/11 veterans as proud of their work, scarred by warfare and convinced that the American public has little understanding of the problems that wartime service has created for military members and their families.
The survey also showed that post-9/11 veterans are more likely than Americans as a whole to call themselves Republicans and to disapprove of President Barack Obama’s performance as commander in chief. They also are more likely than earlier generations of veterans to have no religious affiliation.
The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization that studies attitudes and trends, called the study the first of its kind. The results were based on two surveys conducted between late July and mid-September. One polled 1,853 veterans, including 712 who had served in the military after 9/11 but are no longer on active duty. Of the 712 post-9/11 veterans, 336 served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other polled 2,003 adults who had not served in the military.
Nearly half of post-9/11 veterans said deployments strained their relationship with their spouses, and a similar share reported problems with their children. On the other hand, 60 percent said they and their families benefited financially from having served abroad in a combat zone. Asked for a single word to describe their experiences, the war veterans offered a mixed picture: “rewarding,” ”nightmare,” ”eye opening,” ”lousy.”
There are about 98,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, where the conflict began with a U.S.-led invasion on Oct. 7, 2001. Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 on getting out of Iraq and ramping up the military campaign in Afghanistan. He is on track to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of this year, and in July he announced that he would pull 10,000 troops out of Afghanistan this year and 23,000 more by next September.

Greece: Riot Police Called Amid Major Strike

Sky News
Oct. 5, 2011

Riot police have fired tear gas grenades as thousands of Greek civil servants staged a walk-out over the country’s austerity measures. 

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters as they marched with orange flags and placards through the streets of Athens in a demonstration that has left flights grounded and trains idle as state services shut down.

Organised by the country’s two biggest labour unions, the 24-hour strike is the first since the government in Athens announced plans to further slash pensions and wages, and close scores of state organisations.

They will ultimately axe 30,000 public sector jobs by the end of the year.

The strike comes days after Athens admitted it would miss deficit-reduction targets through 2012 – a confession that sent global shares into a tailspin and the euro swooning to record lows.

What is more, European finance ministers announced they would delay their decision on whether to give an 8 billion euro tranche of rescue aid to Athens until November.

Without the aid, Athens could be forced to default or restructure its 350 billion euro debt.

Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said Athens had the funds to remain afloat through November, a sharp climbdown from an earlier statement that it could pay pensions, salaries and bondholders only through October.

Full Article Here – http://news.sky.com/home/article/16083101

Who are the 99 percent?

Washington Post
Oct. 4, 2011

“I did everything I was supposed to and I have nothing to show for it.”
It’s not the arrests that convinced me that “Occupy Wall Street” was worth covering seriously. Nor was it their press strategy, which largely consisted of tweeting journalists to cover a small protest that couldn’t say what, exactly, it hoped to achieve. It was a Tumblr called, “We Are The 99 Percent,” and all it’s doing is posting grainy pictures of people holding handwritten signs telling their stories, one after the other.
“I am 20K in debt and am paying out of pocket for my current tuition while I start paying back loans with two part time jobs.”

These are not rants against the system. They’re not anarchist manifestos. They’re not calls for a revolution. They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it. Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it.

“I am a 28 year old female with debt that had to give up her apartment + pet because I have no money and I owe over $30,000.”

College debt shows up a lot in these stories, actually. It’s more insistently present than housing debt, or even unemployment. That might speak to the fact that the protests tilt towards the young. But it also speaks, I think, to the fact that college debt represents a special sort of betrayal. We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.

“Married mother of 3. Lost my job in 2009. My family lost our health insurance, our savings, our home, and our good credit. After 16 months, I found a job — with a 90 mile commute and a 25 percent pay cut. After gas, tolls, daycare, and the cost of health insurance, i was paying so my kids had access to health care.”

Let’s be clear. This isn’t really the 99 percent. If you’re in the 85th percentile, for instance, your household is making more than $100,000, and you’re probably doing okay. If you’re in the 95th percentile, your household is making more than $150,000. But then, these protests really aren’t about Wall Street, either. There’s not a lot of evidence that these people want a class war, or even particularly punitive measures on the rich. The only thing that’s clear from their missives is that they want the economy to start working for them, too.

“I am young. I am educated and hard working. I am not able to pay my bills. I am afraid of what the future holds.”

I don’t imagine that too many members of, say, the 97th percentile are writing in to this Web site. But imagine yourself as a young person who took out loans to go to college, got good grades, and has graduated into an economy that doesn’t seem to want you. You did everything you were told to do, and it didn’t work out. That hurts, of course, but it’s a bad economy, and everybody is suffering. At least, that’s what they say.

“i am a 19 year old student with 18 credit hours and 2 part time jobs. i am over 4000 dollars in debt but my paychecks are just enough to get me to school and back. next year my plan was to attend a 4 year college and get my bfa, but now i am afraid that without a co-signer i will have no shot at a loan and even if i can get a loan i am afraid that i will leave college with no future and a crippling debt.”

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/who-are-the-99-percent/2011/08/25/gIQAt87jKL_blog.html 

Block by block, city by city, the old economic order is challenged

ABC News
Oct. 5, 2011
By Kellie Tranter

Since September 17 a wave of young people, later swelled by older generations, has been Occupying Wall Street.

It’s a campaign described as a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders and political persuasions. These people are no longer prepared to tolerate the greed and corruption of what they call “the 1 per cent”.

Protesters on the ground explain their participation by saying “I’m taking back my community to have a true home on this planet”; “I’m exercising my long-sleeping democracy muscle, participating in conversations about the world we want to create and doing it in practice”; “We need togetherness and balance”; “I live on nothing.  Money, greed and corruption pretty much are making our laws and running our country. I don’t like it, I want it to stop”; “I want a country that takes care of all of its people rather than just the richest corporations”; and “I refuse to accept the way the world is and have a vision of a world worth living in”.

Some commentators, in my view correctly, point out that “… Simply prolonging the protests while garnering media attention may help them spread to other cities, but they won’t have a lasting impact if there isn’t a concrete agenda or a specific vision of what demonstrators want to see. As other social movements have found, ‘you have to win things, you have to get people feeling like they have some kind of power’. Winning means negotiating, winning means compromising. You’ve got to start negotiating over real things with banks and politicians.”

But they have made a start and that’s very praiseworthy. Here in Australia we should be thankful for their efforts, because we’ve become something of a US foreign policy “branch office”.

Protests almost invariably require a single burning issue to unite people. The fundamental thread of current protests in the US, UK and South America seems to be popular rejection of the neo-liberal economic model. Sold globally under the guise of individual liberty, privatisation, deregulation and the freedom of the markets, for the majority it has resulted in tax burdens shifting from the rich to the general populace, a collaborationist media engineering a general distaste for all collective social efforts and – the piece de resistance – young people and the working poor being disempowered by the prestidigitating invisible hand. Now people are rejecting politicians who have not performed well enough for people to stand in solidarity with them; politicians who have betrayed the country and the people, through either self-interest or weakness or both. Deals that are struck behind closed doors are seldom in the interests of those outside, and people have come to expect more of the same. People are angry with an old order that hasn’t delivered real, widespread and durable benefits, and so they should be.

But beyond the protests, beyond that essential assertion of the right of all citizens to fair and equal treatment, what are people striving for? How do we do what is necessary to reconcile justice with freedom? Albert Camus pondered that question in 1944, in terms that still ring true today:

The goal we must pursue is to make life free for the individual, but just for all. Other countries have striven for this but have only been partially successful, having put freedom before justice or the other way around. … We do not deny that such balance is difficult. If we look at history, we see that it has not yet been possible, that between freedom and justice there seems to exist a state of contradiction. How could there not be? Freedom for each also means freedom for the rich and ambitious; that invites injustice. Justice for all means the submission of the individual to the collective good. How can we speak, then, of absolute freedom? … So must we give up our efforts to reconcile the irreconcilable? No, we must never abandon them, but simply understand the immense difficulties involved. And we must point these difficulties out to those who, in good faith, would oversimplify everything. For the rest, let it be known this is the one effort in today’s world which makes life worth living and fighting for. Under conditions so desperate, the hard, marvelous task of this century is to create justice in the most unjust of worlds, and to protect freedom from those souls who, out of principle, choose servitude. If we fail, man will return to darkness. … This effort demands clear-sightedness and that prompt vigilance which will keep us from thinking of the individual when we should be thinking of all, or from thinking of society as a whole when it is the individual who cries out for our help…

The occupiers of Wall Street refer to the “1 per cent” in contradistinction to the “99 per cent”, the majority who are rejecting control by the few. That feeling is resonating with many people in many nations, right around the world. More and more people are noticing the gap between the rich and the poor, even if they don’t personally feel its sting. They see the taxes and fees they pay, and the debts they or their children are saddled with for higher education; they see the struggle of the underemployed and unemployed, and the price paid by a casualised workforce, often including themselves. They live in silent protest under a political monoculture in which the seeds of true leadership can’t germinate, with self-proclaimed statesmen tickling our innate prejudices. They have permitted the commoditisation and privatisation of water, energy and biodiversity. It’s a bleak outlook, at least for now.

Full Article Here – http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3299786.html