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July 2014

DC Protests Against Israel Slaughter In Gaza

On Tuesday, July 29 at 6pm, activists gathered outside the DC home of Secretary John Kerry, calling on him to stand tall against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and to push for a just ceasefire that includes lifting the siege of Gaza. Activists commemorated the over 1,000 deaths, especially the hundreds of Palestinian children killed in the Israeli assault. The group gathered at Kerry’s house at 6pm, then marched through Georgetown and returned for a candlelight vigil at the house. Activists were encouraged that Kerry had recognized that “Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay. Palestinians need to live with dignity, with some freedom, with goods that can come in and out, and they need a life that is free from the current restraints.” But the US government continues to support Israel militarily and diplomatically, justifying Israel’s massive assault on civilians in Gaza and the civilian infrastructure as part of Israel “right to self defense.” "Israeli actions targeting civilian infrastructure—hospitals, schools, electric power plants, sewage plants—indicate they are attempting to destroy not only Hamas, but the people in Gaza. I call on the United States Government to end its $3 billion annual military aid to Israel and work for a ceasefire that includes lifting the siege on Gaza. It is predictable that as long as the siege continues, the rockets and tunnels will continue," said retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright.

White House Emails Torture Report Talking Points

A White House staff member 'accidentally emailed' non-classified talking points about a classified torture report to an Associated Press reporter. The document says a Senate report concludes the CIA initially withheld information about torture and secret prisons from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and others. A Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks concludes that the agency initially kept the secretary of state and some U.S. ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons, according to a document circulating among White House staff. The still-classified report also says some ambassadors who were informed about interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the State Department, says the document, which the White House accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter. Read the full AP item: "Powell maybe not told early about CIA techniques"

New Missile Defense Base Public Hearings

There are various kinds of 'missile defense' (MD) systems now being tested. The one with the very worst testing record is the Ground-based Mid-course program. It is very likely the most expensive of the MD programs because of the sheer difficulty of trying to have a bullet-hit-a-bullet in deep space at more than 15,000 mph. In the end the program is incredibly destabilizing as the entire MD program is all about being the shield to take out Russian or Chinese retaliatory response after a Pentagon first-strike attack on them. This stuff ain't theoretical either as the Space Command annually holds a computer war game to practice this very kind of an attack. We see the miniature version it being carried out by Israel in Gaza right now. You might call the Gaza attack by Israel as a field test of the Israel-US MD program. The military industrial complex, and in particular the MD lobby, has been pushing Congress hard to deploy a US east coast interceptor site. The already bought-and-paid-for bunch in Washington has mandated that the Pentagon do a feasibility study to determine which of four states (Maine, New York, Michigan, Ohio) would be the best place to host the interceptor missile facility. Public hearings to work on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) have been announced. They are listed below.

No Drones Illinois Endorses Call To Drop Boeing From Chicago Air & Water Show

No Drones Illinois has endorsed the following call by Anti-War Committee – Chicago, Jews for Justice in Palestine, U.S. Palestinian Community Network and 8th Day Center for Justice: Protest Boeing Death Machines in Gaza: Demand Chicago Drop Boeing from Air and Water Show! Boeing Company is a major sponsor of Chicago’s annual Air and Water Show this summer. Many people come to the lake shore every year to see displays of jets and other aircraft. Boeing weaponry are responsible for many of the over 1000 dead and over 6000 seriously wounded Palestinians in Gaza in the past three weeks. The dead are mostly civilians, including over 200 children. Israel’s fighter jets – the F15s and F16s – as well as Apache helicopters are all made by Boeing. Boeing has made billions from the sale of weapons for use in Israel's attacks, as part of its eight year old siege of Gaza. The City of Chicago should drop Boeing from the sponsors of the Air and Water Show. No company that makes profit from the slaughter of civilians should be included.

Five Latin American Countries Withdraw Envoys From Israel

The decision of the Latin American countries to recall their ambassadors in Tel Aviv is a "deep disappointment", says Israel. El Salvador on Wednesday became the fifth Latin American country to withdraw its ambassador from Israel in protest at Israel's military offensive in Gaza. Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have already recalled their ambassadors. Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the move encourages Hamas; "this decision encourages Hamas which has been recognized as a terrorist organization by several countries. The countries standing against terror must act responsibly and should not reward them. While Hamas has been responsible for hindering a ceasfire, El Salvador, Peru and Chile were expected to support international attitude for peace and demilitarization of Gaza", the statement said. Earlier Israel criticized Brazil over its decision to recall its ambassador in protest at Israel's military offensive in Gaza. Brazil was one of 29 countries in the UN Human Rights Council that voted last Wednesday to investigate Israel over its military offensive in Gaza. During a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 17, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her country was "profoundly concerned by the dramatic events" in Gaza.

Environmentalists Plan Epic Climate March In NYC For Sep. 21st

The People’s Climate March will surge through Manhattan on September 21 with an expected quarter million individuals in attendance. Times Square will be the site of the historic gathering as many will travel from across the country to support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s ambitious goals to reduce global warming pollution. The People’s Climate March will take place during a UN meeting on climate change attended by delegates from 168 countries.“The UN Secretary General has asked world leaders to finally make some real progress on climate change,” said Robert Orr, UN Assistant Secretary General. The UN conference, scheduled for September 23, will hail experts on the risks for not acting now. “Time is not on our side,” said Moon. Organizers at have joined with over 490 groups, including unions, ecumenical groups, and grassroots organizations. The plan is an “all-inclusive family oriented event” for everyone, says Paul Getsos, National Coordinator with “We want to engage a wide range of constituencies and communities,” he said. Getting national coverage is the key to building on foundations already laid down by environmental groups. “We want to be in Times Square because there are huge media markets that look there,” said Getsos.

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference In Philadelphia

In November of 2009, the newly-formed Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations marched from Malcolm X Park through the gentrifying streets of Washington to the White House, loudly denouncing the First Black President of the United States. Barack Obama had been in office only ten months, but the militarist and corporatist trajectory of his regime was already quite clear. Obama had retained George Bush’s Secretary of Defense, escalated the drone wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, placed Bill Clinton’s Wall Street operatives in charge of the economy, announced his intention to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, even as he pushed through Congress a health care bill that was largely written by private drug and insurance companies. Like George Bush before him, Obama sabotaged the Durban II World Conference Against Racism, in order to derail demands for reparations for slavery and colonialism. And, only 100 days into his administration, Obama had served notice to African Americans that he would propose no programs to alleviate the suffering of Black America, which had been hit hardest by the economic meltdown. The Black is Back Coalition was determined that the first politician in history to spend a billion dollars to win the presidency would not get a free pass from all of Black America – even if his father was an African. One of the biggest contingents in that first anti-Obama march and rally was the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, “POP” – perhaps Black America’s most dynamic regional grassroots organization. POP’s membership, after much debate, had endorsed Obama in the 2008 election, but that did not stop them from chanting their outrage at his policies at the gates of the White House.

Syria: Activists Call For Release Of Human Rights Defender Mazen Darwish

Mazen Darwish, a prominent Syrian activist, human rights defender and the director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), was arrested with a number of his colleagues on 16 February 2012 by Assad forces that broke into his office in Damascus. For two years and half, Darwish, Hussien Ghreer and Hani al-Zayati have been kept Damascus central prison standing trial in terrorism court according to article (8), added newly to the Syrian law; while the regime is ignoring all International, legal and humanitarian calls to release them. The statement stresses the fact that the presidential pardon issued by Assad after the elections was another trick of the regime since dozens of people including Darwish and his co-workers were not released, though according to decree No. (22), they should be set free immediately with other activist detainees. The statement raises the issue of detaining and torturing civil activists and sending them to terrorism court while pardoning military people on one hand. On the other hand, the regime claims on media its readiness to negotiate with the opposition.

FEC Failure To Investigate Rove’s Crossroads GPS In Court

Reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment stems from the FEC’s failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint. The lawsuit, Public Citizen v. FEC, was brought by the parties to the 2010 complaint: Public Citizen; Craig Holman, campaign finance expert for Public Citizen;; and Kevin Zeese, an attorney for The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen are handling the legal work on the case as co-counsel for the parties. The groups contend that Crossroads GPS – an organization created by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie to influence the 2010 midterm elections – fits the legal definition of a political committee: any group that receives or spends more than $1,000 during a calendar year to influence elections and whose major purpose is federal campaign activity. Political committees must disclose information about their donors and expenditures. The FEC’s refusal to investigate Crossroads GPS for failing to register as a political committee has allowed the organization to continue to keep its donors secret for the last three election cycles.

15 Ways To Take Action Against Israel In BDS Movement

BDS is a peaceful, civil disobedience initiative started by Palestinian civil society in 2005, in response to a paralyzed peace process and continued Israeli violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Among other things, BDS includes academic and cultural boycotts, as well as divestment from companies supporting or profiting from the Occupation. Through BDS, regular individuals around the world have a concrete means to express opposition and outrage against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Now more than ever, supporting BDS is critical. As our governments and mainstream media institutions continue to ignore and in some cases support Israeli crimes, civil society and people of conscience have a duty to pick up the mantle and do what they can to shift public opinion away from unbridled support for Israel and toward justice and accountability for the innocent victims of its actions. For those who still aren’t sure why they should support support BDS, click here. For the rest of you, here are 15 ways you can support BDS, many of which can also be found on the BDSMovement website:

Police Who Fatally Shot 16-Year-Old Won’t Face Charges

The NYPD cops who shot and killed a 16-year-old Brooklyn boy who was allegedly armed — sparking mini street riots — will not face a criminal prosecution, the Daily News has learned. Lawyers for the family of Kimani Gray, who died in an East Flatbush street on March 2013, notified a federal judge Tuesday that prosecutors informed them “that they are not pursuing criminal charges against the (officers) and will not be presenting case to the grand jury,” a court document shows. The decision came after a recently-completed investigation ordered by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, sources said. A DA spokeswoman confirmed the office will not present the case to a grand jury. Police have said Gray pointed a loaded .38-caliber handgun at the officers and claimed he was ordered to drop it. But his family and lawyers noted that out of seven bullets that struck the teen, three entered from his back, suggesting he was running away. Dozens were arrested in subsequent protests, including Kimani’s sister, and at least two officers were lightly injured in the fracas.

Artist Sculpts Own Son Into Gaza Chaos: ‘If It Were Zack’

This article is from our associated project, The Israeli assault on Gaza December 27, 2008- January 18, 2009, or “Operation Cast Lead,” resulted in hundreds of innocent civilians being killed and thousands injured and left homeless. The number of children who were killed ranges between 300-350. At that time, in reaction to the horrifying stories of children dying, I made an artist book, In Memoriam. During the last few days of 2009, in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March, I made the sculpture If It Were Zack. I am chilled by arguments rationalizing the brutal, violent killing of innocents. I cannot fathom the wretched abyss of hatred that feeds such an intellect. When I hold my son Zack, my heart breaks imagining these hundreds of children. When he laughs, I think,”That child once laughed, too, delighting his mother.” My grief in this time feels near intolerable–and this is just pain imagined. I don’t know what the answer is to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But I do know that the military-minded adults on both sides of the Wall have to begin with the premise that there is no cause worth the torment of children–the children of Gaza live in fear, sleeplessness, boredom, frustration, anxiety, depression, hunger. And there is surely no cause worth the killing of children.

Activists Fighting To Protect Environment — And Their Lives

908. That’s the number of environmental and land-reform activists assassinated worldwide between 2003 and 2013, according to a study by the NGO Global Witness. The number might shock you, but perhaps even more shocking is that nearly half of those murders — 448 — took place in one country: Brazil. What is it that makes Brazil the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist? You’ll find clues in the story of Guarabana Bay. The bay, just minutes from downtown Rio’s world famous beaches, is a study in pollution and filth. Dark sludge cakes the shoreline. Garbage floats everywhere. It’s so bad that some sailors set to compete here in the 2016 Summer Olympics are warning colleagues not to let this water touch their skin. The sailors' worries do not surprise local fisherman Sandy Anderson de Souza. He said he was out in his boat in 2001 when Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobas accidentally dumped 1.3 million tons of oil into the waterway. “There was so much oil it looked like there was no water at all,” he said during a recent tour of the coastline. “A year later we noticed that many species of fish were disappearing and we started to catalogue this. There are 46 species of fish and shrimp that are no longer here.”

Panthers In The Hole: US Prison Crisis

Amnesty International France and La Boîte à Bulleshave published a 128-page French language graphic novel entitled Panthers in the Hole. The book's co-authors David Cénou and Bruno Cénou present with visual art what Amnesty France describes as "la tragique histoire des Trois d'Angola" (the tragic story of the Angola 3). Robert H. King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox are the trio of Black Panther political prisoners known collectively as the Angola 3. On October 1, 2013 Herman Wallace was dramatically released from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement. At the time of his release, he had been fighting terminal liver cancer for several months. Three days later, on Oct. 4, Herman was surrounded by loved ones as he passed on at a friend’s house in New Orleans, Louisiana. Albert Woodfox remains in solitary confinement to this day and with only temporary respite from routine body cavity searches pending an upcoming ruling by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 17, 2014, marking 42 years since Albert Woodfox was first placed in solitary, Amnesty International renewed its call for his immediate release (view Amnesty’s statement and essay) and today continues their online campaign (sign the petition here).

Wikileaks Publishes Court’s ‘Blanket Censorship Order’

Today, 29 July 2014, WikiLeaks releases an unprecedented Australian censorship order concerning a multi-million dollar corruption case explicitly naming the current and past heads of state of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, their relatives and other senior officials. The super-injunction invokes “national security” grounds to prevent reporting about the case, by anyone, in order to “prevent damage to Australia's international relations”. The court-issued gag order follows the secret 19 June 2014 indictment of seven senior executives from subsidiaries of Australia's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The case concerns allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by agents of the RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries. The suppression order lists 17 individuals, including "any current or former Prime Minister of Malaysia", “Truong Tan San, currently President of Vietnam", "Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (also known as SBY), currently President of Indonesia (since 2004)", "Megawati Sukarnoputri (also known as Mega), a former President of Indonesia (2001–2004) and current leader of the PDI-P political party" and 14 other senior officials and relatives from those countries, who specifically may not be named in connection with the corruption investigation.
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