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Rights Group Condemns US in Annual Report

May 31st, 2008 - by admin

CBC News – 2008-05-31 23:47:43

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/05/28/amnesty-report.html

(May 28, 2008) — Amnesty International is again targeting the U.S. in its annual report on human rights abuses, saying the world leader is failing to live up to its responsibility of setting the standard for government behaviour.

While the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on the report, it has previously said Amnesty uses the U.S. as “a convenient ideological punching bag.”

In the introduction of its report, under the heading, “A Dismal Record”, the group lashes out at a number of U.S. policies, including Washington’s continued operation of the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, something that has come under criticism in the past.

“The world needs a U.S.A. genuinely engaged and committed to the cause of human rights, at home and abroad,” the report states.

Instead, the human rights group says the U.S. “distinguished itself in recent years through its defiance of international law.”
“As the world’s most powerful state, the U.S.A. sets the standard for government behaviour globally. With breathtaking legal obfuscation, the U.S. administration has continued its efforts to weaken the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment.”

In order for the U.S. to have “moral authority as a human rights champion,” the report calls on the next president to close Guantanamo, try the detainees in federal court or release them, denounce all forms of torture and “ditch support for authoritarian leaders.”

The report also rebukes the U.S. for supporting Pakistani President Perez Musharraf last November while hundreds of lawyers and political activists were arrested during a state of emergency crackdown.

The State Department had no immediate comment on the report, but said the U.S. was justified in detaining enemy combatants at Guantanamo to prevent them from returning to the battlefield.

China is also singled out for criticism in the report for continuing to ship weapons to Sudan in defiance of a UN arms embargo and for trading with abusive governments like Burma and Zimbabwe.

It said that China’s media censorship remains in place and that the government continues to persecute rights activists.
Russia as well comes under fire for repressing political dissent, threatening journalists and dispersing public demonstrations.

Amnesty International said people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 and are denied free speech in at least 77.

With files from the Associated Press

Posted with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Homeless In Hawaii:More Land For The Military Than For Hawaiians

May 31st, 2008 - by admin

Winona LaDuke / Indian Country Today & Rense.com – 2008-05-31 00:51:06

http://rense.com/general56/homesles.htm

Homeless in Hawaii: More Land For The Military Than For Hawaiians
Winona LaDuke / Indian Country Today & Rense.com

(August 03, 2004) — It’s summer in Hawaii, the state is considering another generous land donation to the military and has made homelessness a crime. Under the cover of the term “Military Transformation” and with the blanket of 9/11, the military is taking a wide berth in land stealing. And, recently enacted Act 50 makes criminals out of people who have been displaced by the military itself, many of them Native Hawaiian.

“They bombed the houses in the l940s and took over the entire valley,” explained Sparky Rodrigues, one of many Makua residents still waiting to move home. “The government moved all of the residents out and said after the war, you can move back – and then they used the houses for target practice. The families tell stories that the military came with guns and said, ‘Here’s $300, thank you,’ and ‘You’ve got to move.’ Those people remain without their houses, and for years, many lived on the beaches in beautiful Makua Valley, watching the bombing of their land.

“Tomorrow morning they’re going to detonate a 1,000 pounder, a 500 pounder and a 100 pound bomb,” Rodriques mused. Such detonations are part of the military cleanup of the site before, apparently, any new maneuvers. “We’ve gone in and observed them detonate those bombs,” said Rodriques. More than once, live ammunition has washed up on the beaches at Makua.

Malu Aina, a military watchdog group from Hawaii reported:

“Live military ordnance in large quantities has been found off Hapuna Beach and in Hilo Bay. Additional ordnance, including grenades, artillery shells, rockets, mortars, armor piercing ordnance, bazooka rounds, napalm bombs, and hedgehog missiles have been found at Hilo airport in Waimea town, Waikoloa Village, in North and South Kohala at Puako and Mahukona, in Kea’au and Maku ‘u farm lots in Puna, at South Point in Ka’u, and on residential and school grounds. At least nine people have been killed or injured by exploding ordnance. Some unexploded ordnance can be set off even by cell phones.”

Since the end of World War II, Hawaii has been the center of the United States military’s Pacific Command (PACOM), from which all U.S. forces in the region are directed. Hawaii serves as an outpost for Pacific expansionism, along with Guam, the Marshall Islands, Samoa and the Philippines. PACOM is the center of U.S. military activities over more than half the earth, from the west coast of the U.S. to Africa’s east coast, from the Arctic to Antarctica, covering 70 percent of the world’s oceans.

The military controls more of Hawaii than any other state, including some 25 percent of Oahu, valuable “submerged lands” (i.e. estuaries and bays), and until relatively recently, the island of Kaho’olawe. The island was the only National Historic Site also used as a bombing range. Finally, after years of litigation and negotiations, Congress placed a moratorium on the bombing, but after $400 million already spent in cleanup money, much remains to be completed.

The U.S. military controls 200,000 acres of Hawaii, with over 100 military installations and at least 150,000 personnel. Among the largest sites is the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), a 108,793-acre bombing range between the sacred mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the center of the big island, Hawaii. At least seven million rounds of ammunition are fired annually at that base alone. The military proposes to expand the base by 23,000-acres under the “Military Transformation Proposal” and plans to bring in Stryker brigades to the area.

The military is hoping for up to 79,000 additional acres in new land acquisition. Pohakuloa has the “highest concentration of endangered species of any Army installation in the world,” according to its former commander Lt. Col. Dennis Owen, with over 250 ancient Hawaiian archeological sites. Those species and archeological sites are pretty much “toast” under the expansion plans.

Hawaiian Military Bucks and the Homeless
There are some benefits to being a senior senator like Daniel Inouye. The $l.5 billion dollar pork-barrel proposal to expand Hawaii’s military bases would include more than 400 Stryker vehicles (eight-wheeled, 19-ton, armored infantry carriers), new C-l7 transport planes and additional arsenal expansions.

Adding more military personnel and bases is always a good way to boost a state’s economy. After all, a recent Hawaii Advertiser article featured Pearl Harbor businessmen lamenting the number of troops “sent out” to Iraq, and the downswing in business at the barbershops and elsewhere. The message: “New troops needed to fill up those businesses!”

Inouye, who is the ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Committee has been a strong advocate for more military in Hawaii. Yet, in his vice chairmanship of the Indian Affairs Committee, he has been a stronger advocate for diminishing Native Hawaiian sovereignty, rights and land title. New proposals (the so-called Akaka Bill) would strip Hawaiians of long-term access to land, and follow the suit of the infamous Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act, barring future recourse for justice.

In the meantime, the 2 million acres of land originally earmarked for Native Hawaiians (under Hawaii’s statehood act) are being transferred to private interests and to the military. Some 22,000 Native Hawaiians remain on waiting lists for their homestead awards, and an estimated 30,000 have died while on the list awaiting their homesteads.

The Hawaiian lands end up with the military or developers. “We can barely pay house rent, and they build apartments,” said one Hawaiian from the Wai’anae coast. “With inflation now, its hard to buy tomatoes, carrots … You cannot eat ’em, those buildings.”

Hawaii has now adopted one of the nation’s severest penalties to discourage individuals from living on public property. Act 50, a recently passed law, bans individuals for an entire year from the public areas where they are given a citation. The act stipulates that people found illegally occupying public property such as beaches and parks are subject to ejection, and if they return within a year they face arrest, a possible $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail. Many Hawaiian families live on the beaches and in public parks.

The Beltran family, among others, has lived on the beach at Mokule’ia for 12 years, claiming the right to live there as ancestral, but each week they must get a permit to camp. “We have a right to be here, because our ancestors were from here,” Beltran explained to a reporter. “I cannot go to the mainland and say that’s my home. I cannot go to Japan and call that my home. This is my home, right here. I will never give this place up.”

Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe from the White Earth reservation, is program director of Honor the Earth, a national Native American environmental justice program. She served as the Green Party vice presidential candidate in the 1996 and 2000 elections. She can be reached at wlhonorearth@earthlink.net.


More land for the military than for Hawaiians (Part Two)
Special to Indian Country Today

“Except as required for defense purposes in a time of national emergency, the government shall not deliberately destroy any object of antiquity, prehistoric ruin or monument …”
– Makua lease provision held by the U.S. Military

The new Stryker/Military Transformation proposal by Senator Inouye will exacerbate the already desperate situation of many Hawaiians, who comprise a good portion of those without permanent housing and at least half of the present prison population.

“All of the Hawaiian poor come to Wainaie, all of the homeless come to Waianae,” said Sparky Rodrigues. “If the military comes in here with their cost of living allowance with the Strykers’ new expansion, then rent will go up, and they’ll bring in 30,000 people. Property values will go up. More Hawaiians will be forced onto the beach as homeless, and they are going to be criminalized.”

The system is already poised to worsen the problem and serve as a drain on the state’s social services Rodrigues explained. “Child Protection Services is looking at homelessness as child abuse. So they’re not going to build schools, and there is an oppressive environment, they can’t get jobs, can’t pay for the house.”

Rodrigues and his wife, Leandra Wai Rodrigues, were arrested in l996 on Father’s Day at Makua. Their family and others were all evicted. “Everything that was left behind was bulldozed and destroyed. Actually they took all our good stuff, and gave it to other people,” Leandra lamented.

“It was a huge community of homeless, about 60 families and we ended up creating our own self governance,” explained Sparky. “The welfare office was sending families that couldn’t afford rent to Makua because it was a safe place. Our goal was to look for long-term solutions to homelessness. Our goal was to go there, and then go back into society. They [social service agencies] aren’t interested in a long term solution, their solution is to pass laws and arrest people.” He added, “calling the folks on the beach ‘squatters’ changes the whole way of looking at it. If they are traditional practitioners or want to live a traditional lifestyle, they are Hawaiians. The use of the word ‘squatters’ makes it okay for the government to bring in the bulldozers and arrest them.”

Clean up and the Range Readiness Proposal
Clean up is not the military’s strongest suit. Of the whopping federal defense budget of $265 billion, only a fraction will be spent on cleaning up exploded ordnance at test sites, let alone sites in the process of decommissioning, like Wisconsin’s Badger Munitions Plant, in which the Ho-Chunk Nation seeks some part in its recovery.

An Associated Press news story of Jan. 16 stated that according to congressional auditors “removing unexploded munitions and hazardous waste found so far on 15 million acres of shutdown U.S. military ranges could take more than 300 years.” The clean up cost is now estimated at $35 billion and climbing rapidly from an estimate of $20 billion a year ago.

In the present environment and with leadership like Senator Inouye, it looks like the reverse: Build up, not clean up, is on the horizon. Under a bill called the “Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative”, the Department of Defense is pushing Congress to give more waivers to the military for clean up.

Last year, the Defense Department succeeded in gaining exemptions for the U.S. military to the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act. The Defense Department now wants exemptions from the Clean Air Act, Superfund Laws and others, all under the premise of national security.

At hearings this spring on the Range Readiness proposals, U.S. Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass., said, “There is no reason to incur ‘collateral damage’ to our public health while meeting our military needs,” referring to the present problems with military contamination.

All told, the Department of Defense is the nation’s largest toxic polluter with over 11,000 toxic “hot spots” on 1,855 military facilities nationwide. If we are to look at Hawaii’s prospects as to what is in the pipeline, there may be some cause for concern.

Sparky Rodrigues noted the irony. “They spend billions making Weapons of Mass Destruction but pennies on clean up.” In short, being homeless in Hawaii isn’t as glamorous as being sleepless in Seattle, and by the next millennium, and the next conflict, there may be more Hawaiians in prison than on the beaches.

Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe from the White Earth reservation, is program director of Honor the Earth, a national Native American environmental justice program. She served as the Green Party vice presidential candidate in the 1996 and 2000 elections. She can be reached at wlhonorearth@earthlink.net.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Why In the World Would They Destroy Hawaii…On Purpose?

May 31st, 2008 - by admin

Cathy Garger / OpEd News – 2008-05-31 00:42:30

http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did=7549

(May 29, 2008) — In the past year I have done a good deal of research and writing around the topic of the growing military build-up, live firing, and fighter jet bombing drops taking place on the Hawaiian Islands and for thousands of miles around in the Pacific Ocean.

As much as I read, I can not for the life of me figure out why those in power are intent on further degrading the health of our oceans, our land, our air, our vegetation, our wildlife, our unique island habitats… not to mention the health and well being of the good people of Hawaii.

I mean, who in their right mind would try to destroy Hawaii — on purpose?

I have still not come to any firm conclusions and suspect that the answers are just too painful to face. So I offer the latest environmental impact statements for your review. Maybe you, possessing a stronger constitution, can help figure this out for me?

In these documents, you can read about live fire (not fake, not inert, not “dummy,” but live-fire… as in yes, so-called Depleted Uranium) military maneuvers using regular ammo, bombs, missiles, and advanced directed energy weapons (DEW) (as in destroying things via lasers) around and on the Hawaiian Islands.

After examining these documents, however, one thing’s for certain. They should name the military exercises Operation Hawaiian DUMP because that is exactly what these maneuvers actually are — an apparent attempt to discover just how polluted and contaminated they can render the fragile Hawaiian Island and Pacific Ocean aquatic ecosystems by dumping both toxic and radioactive wastes quite liberally all over them.

At the Radford, VA WPA “Building A New World” Conference over the weekend, during one of the seminars someone innocently asked a question to the effect: Why is the US Military destroying the environment and lives of so many people around the world?

You could quite literally hear a pin drop when someone very somberly, quietly, eventually offered, “Because they can.”

Those of us with compassion for humanity and all living things – both presently on the planet and for generations to come – need, I believe, to take some time and examine these documents for ourselves. We have got to somehow figure out how it has come to pass that truly no place in this entire world – not even our own Hawaiian Paradise … is safe from wanton degradation and destruction at the hands of our own government?

We need to research all this, I believe, and then decide where we are going to draw our line in the contaminated sands from Hawaii to Idaho – where toxics and radioactive materials present in the Camp Doha, Kuwait sands have come back to haunt us, being laid to fester alongside Idaho potato fields inside the United States, eventually contaminating our ground and water supply for billions of years.

Only an informed, educated populace – one that realizes that America – even Hawaii, of all places! – has become the US military’s “dirty” kitty litter box can ever be counted upon to stop this military environmental madness.

Please read below about the Army’s and Navy’s plans to do their training and “play war” inside Paradise, while only further destroying the natural resources and life forms within the Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian Islands.

Then please help educate others in your own circle of influence about what is going down in the land of Aloha – which has, sadly to its own detriment, been programmed to welcome with open arms the abundant cash flow that stationing thousands of military personnel on what was once pristine, unspoiled tropical paradise – brings.

Actions You Can Take
• To read about the Army’s further plans for Hawaii:
http://aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/usarpacdspeis.pdf

• To comment about the Army’s plans for Hawaii and the Pacific:
Military Seeks Comment on Expansion Plan:
or
http://homepage.mac.com/juanwilson/islandbreath/2008Year/17-peace_war/0817-05StrykerinHawaii.html

• To read about the Navy’s further plans for the Pacific and Hawaiian Islands (the Hawaii Range Complex):
http://www.govsupport.us/navynepahawaii/FEIS.aspx

• To comment upon the Navy’s plans for Hawaii (top right hand corner):
http://www.govsupport.us/navynepahawaii/hawaiirceis.aspx

Cathy Garger is a freelance writer, public speaker, activist, and a certified personal coach who specializes in Uranium weapons. Living in the shadow of the national District of Crime, Cathy is constantly nauseated by the stench emanating from the nation’s capital during the Washington, DC, federal work week.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Jimmy Carter Crosses the Line

May 31st, 2008 - by admin

Chris Floyd / Empire Burlesque – 2008-05-31 00:36:22

http://www.chris-floyd.com/content/view/1519/135/

(May 30, 2008) — Here’s a thought experiment. Try to imagine a major American political figure boldly calling on Europe to break with the United States, unilaterally lift the blockage on Gaza and negotiate directly with Hamas, the democratically-elected government of Palestine.

He then goes on to reveal — from his access to the most highly classified intelligence — that Israel, far from being at risk from “destruction” by Iran or anyone, possesses a minimum of 150 nuclear weapons: the first time that any such high-level U.S. official has ever publicly confirmed the existence of Israel’s arsenal, much less detailed its size.

What’s more, this Establishment renagade then calls for the complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, combined with pledges of massive aid to rebuild Iraq “from the destruction we’ve caused.”

This fantasy became a reality yesterday in the drenching rain of a Welsh border town. Former President Jimmy Carter had come to Hay-on-Wye for the annual literary festival, and held forth in a wide-ranging interview before a large crowd. Carter denounced the policies of the so-called “Quartet” — the U.S., EU, UN and Russia — which have led to the strangulation of Gaza and immense suffering to the people “imprisoned” there, in Carter’s words:

The blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia – the so-called Quartet – after the organisation’s election victory in 2006, was “one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth,” since it meant the “imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees”. “Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing,” Carter said….

Referring to the possibility of Europe breaking with the US in an interview with the Guardian, he said: “Why not? They’re not our vassals. They occupy an equal position with the US.”

Here, of course, Carter has crossed perhaps the brightest glaring red line in American politics: equating a bunch of foreigners with the divinely blessed denizens of the shining city on the hill. No country, anywhere, is allowed to be the equal of the United States, in anything, at any time. This is not just a deeply ingrained part of the national psyche; it is also the avowed policy of the “unipolar dominationists” who have long controlled the commanding heights of American power. As we’ve noted before:

This goes back to the first Bush Administration, when then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney asked two of his top aides, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, to draw up a “Defense Guidance Plan” to shape American strategy in the post-Cold War world.

They produced an aggressive, ambitious document calling for the unilateral use of American military might to”discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” Military intervention would be “a constant fixture” of what Wolfowitz and Libby called a “new order” which the United States — not the United Nations — would “establish and protect.”

As we all know, this document was refined, revised and expanded by the dominationists in their various think-tanks and corporate sinecures for years, reaching its fullest expression in the infamous PNAC paper of September 2000 (also known as the “boy, we sure need a new Pearl Harbor” document). It was later incorporated virtually whole cloth into the official “National Security Strategy” of the United States.

Carter has already been in hot water with the Establishment because of his recent dealings with Hamas. Barack Obama joined in the denunciations of Carter, declaring that he — the self-proclaimed agent of hope and change — would never negotiate with Hamas.

This brings up a curious point. Obama has taken a great deal of undeserved heat for his common-sense declaration that he would be willing to sit down with the leaders of hostile nations, such as Iran; but he adamantly refuses any negotiation with Hamas. In other words, he is (rightly) willing to negotiate with enemies of the United States — but not with an enemy of Israel. This position is actually more hardline than that of the Israelis themselves, the majority of whom favor direct negotiations with Hamas.

Carter’s unprecedented explictness regarding Israel’s nuclear weapon somehow escaped the notice of the Guardian — which sponsored the festival and conducted the interview — but The Times picked it up:

Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, former President Jimmy Carter said yesterday, while arguing that the US should talk directly to Iran to persuade it to drop its nuclear ambitions.

His remark…is startling because Israel has never admitted having nuclear weapons, let alone how many, although the world assumes their existence. Nor do US officials deviate in public from that Israeli line.

But Carter, who as president had full access to America’s secret knowledge about Israel’s arsenal, steamrolled right over the long-held public line. The existence of this arsenal is of course the true context of Middle East relations: the fact that Israel that can “obliterate” any of its antagonists in a matter of minutes, while none of them poses, even remotely, a similar “existential threat” to Israel. Yet the entire U.S. “bipartisan foreign policy establishment” gears much of its Middle Eastern policies around the professed goal of guaranteeing the survival and security of Israel.

The plain fact is that Israel is more than capable of guaranteeing its own survival. As for its manifold security problems, these might be better addressed by a more realistic, pragmatic engagement with its neighbors, and with the Palestinians locked down under its control. But as long as Israeli leaders can count on the full backing of the United States — financially, diplomatically and militarily — no matter what they do, they will have no incentive to come to any viable terms, and can continue their own dominationist policies, which over the years have only bred more suffering, more radicalization and more intransigence in their opponents.

Carter’s position on Iraq is, of course, the only sensible alternative left after years of needless slaughter and ruin: complete withdrawal and massive reparations. It goes without saying that neither of these essential elements play a part in the “withdrawal” plans of any of the remaining presidential candidates. [Carter’s remarks on Iraq are not in the on-line Guardian story, but appeared in the print-only version.]

Carter’s emergence as a dissident from the Establishment line is one of those bitter ironies in which history delights. As we have noted here before, Carter bears a large share of responsibility for the dismal state of the modern world. It was he who, on the advice of his foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, helped lay the foundations of the global jihad movement, giving guns, money and training to some of the most violent and retrograde extremists in the world — in a deliberate, and successful, attempt to goad the Soviet Union into intervening to save its client government in Afghanistan.

From this seed — cultivated on a massive scale later by the Reagan-Bush administrations — violent sectarianism spread across the world, helped at every point by the United States or its allies in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere. This shadow world — where covert ops, terrorism, organized crime and state policy mix inextricably together, sometimes colluding, sometimes falling out — has now enveloped the globe.

Still, to paraphrase the great philosopher Donald Rumsfeld, you oppose mass murder, torture, repression and imperial aggression with the deeply tainted, grossly hypocritical public figures you have, not the saintly, unspotted agents of transformation you wish you had. Carter’s remarks represent a welcome crossing of lines by a prominent Establishment figure. Too bad that no one in America will ever hear them.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

President Jimmy Carter & Bishop Desmond Tutu Condemn Israel over Gaza

May 31st, 2008 - by admin

Jimmy Carter / Times of India & Agence France-Presse & Donald Macintyre / The Independent – 2008-05-31 00:26:01

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-3057635,prtpage-1.cms

It’s Such a Shame
Jimmy Carter / Times of India

Atlanta (May 21, 2008) — The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.

This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.

Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank are now imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional 10 who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.

Regardless of one’s choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions in delivering water, food, electricity and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees. Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the encapsulated area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children.

I attempted to gain a better understanding of the crisis on a recent trip through the Middle East. One of my visits was to Sderot, a community of about 20,000 in southern Israel that is frequently struck by rudimentary rockets fired from nearby Gaza. I condemned these attacks as abominable and an act of terrorism, since most of the 13 victims during the past seven years have been non-combatants.

I subsequently met with leaders of Hamas, both a delegation from Gaza and the top officials in Damascus, Syria. I made the same condemnation to them, and urged that they declare a unilateral ceasefire or orchestrate with Israel a mutual agreement to terminate all military action in and around Gaza for an extended period.

They responded that such previous action by them had not been reciprocated, and they reminded me that Hamas had previously insisted on a ceasefire throughout Palestine including both Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel had refused. Hamas then made a public proposal of a mutual ceasefire restricted to Gaza, which the Israelis considered and also rejected.

There are fervent arguments heard on both sides concerning blame for a lack of peace in the Holy Land. Israel has occupied and colonised the Palestinian West Bank, which is approximately one-fourth (28.5 per cent) the size of the nation of Israel as recognised by the international community. Some Israeli religious factions claim a right to the land on both sides of the Jordan River, and others aver that their 205 settlements with some 500,000 people are necessary for “security”.

All Arab nations have agreed to full recognition of Israel if it will comply with key United Nations resolutions. Hamas has agreed to accept any negotiated peace settlement between Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, provided it is approved in a referendum among the Palestinian people.

This holds promise of progress, but despite the brief fanfare and positive statements at the peace conference last November in Annapolis, Maryland, a retrogression has occurred in the process. Nine thousand new Israeli settlement housing units have been announced in Palestine, the number of roadblocks within the West bank has increased, and the stranglehold on Gaza has been tightened.

It is one thing for other leaders to defer to the US on the crucial peace negotiations, but the world must not stand idle while innocent people are treated cruelly. It is time for strong voices in Europe, the US, Israel, and elsewhere to speak out and condemn this human rights tragedy among the Palestinian people.

The writer is a former US president. Copyright: Project Syndicate.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.


Carter: Israel Has ‘150 or More’ Nuclear Weapons
Agence France-Presse

LONDON (May 27, 2008) – Israel has “150 or more” nuclear weapons, former US president Jimmy Carter said at a press conference over the weekend, a spokesman for the literary festival at which he was speaking confirmed.

Asked how a future US president should deal with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, the 83-year-old said: “The US has more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union (sic) has about the same; Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more.”

“We have a phalanx of enormous weaponry, not only of enormous weaponry, but of rockets to deliver those missiles on a pinpoint accuracy target,” he said at a press conference in Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, on Sunday, according to a spokesman for the Guardian Hay Festival.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East but has a policy of neither confirming nor denying its arsenal.
At the same press conference, Carter described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth” and the Nobel Peace Prize winner also said the European Union’s failure to support the Palestinian cause was “embarrassing”.


Tutu: Silence on Gaza Blockade Shames us All
Donald Macintyre / The Independent

LONDON (30 May 2008) — Archbishop Desmond Tutu has denounced the international community for its “silence and complicity” on what he called Israel’s “abominable” 11-month blockade of Gaza.

The South African Nobel Laureate, who ended a three-day visit to Gaza yesterday, strongly condemned the blockade imposed after Hamas’s enforced takeover of the Strip l
ast June that has reduced electricity, severely cut fuel supplies and brought industry to a halt.

The Archbishop, mainly here on a UN mission to investigate what he called the Beit Hanoun massacre of 21 civilians by Israeli tank shelling 18 months ago, said: “All we had heard about conditions in Gaza – deprivation, a sense of despair, the lack of economic activity – had not prepared us for the stark reality which we saw.”

He added: “The entire situation is abominable. I believe the ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade if they knew what it really meant to ordinary people like themselves… My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma.”

He said that he had urged Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s de facto Hamas prime minister, at a meeting to stop the firing of rockets into Israel, which he said were also a “gross violation of human rights”. And he said he would have liked to talk to victims of the rocket attacks in the Israeli border town of Sderot. The UN mission has been refused visas to enter Israel.

But he said that events in both South Africa and Northern Ireland had shown that peace would come through negotiations “not with your friends. Peace can only come when enemies sit down and talk”.

Yesterday, less than 24 hours after the Archbishop’s visit to Beit Hanoun, 60 Palestinians were arrested during a pre-dawn raid by the Israeli military on the northern Gaza town. Palestinian witnesses said that residents had been summoned to a local square before dozens were taken away for questioning, and that armed military bulldozers had destroyed some farmland in the area.

Posted in accordance with title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Report: US Soldiers Did ‘Dirty Work’ for Chinese Interrogators at Guantanamo

May 30th, 2008 - by admin

Justin Rood / ABC News Internet Ventures – 2008-05-30 00:17:41

http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=4894921

Report Alleges Guantanamo Personnel
Softened Up Detainees at Request of Chinese Intelligence

WASHINGTON (May 20, 2008)— US military personnel at Guantanamo Bay allegedly softened up detainees at the request of Chinese intelligence officials who had come to the island facility to interrogate the men — or they allowed the Chinese to dole out the treatment themselves, according to claims in a new government report.

Buried in a Department of Justice report released Tuesday are new allegations about a 2002 arrangement between the United States and China, which allowed Chinese intelligence to visit Guantanamo and interrogate Chinese Uighurs held there.

According to the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, an FBI agent reported a detainee belonging to China’s ethnic Uighur minority and a Uighur translator told him Uighur detainees were kept awake for long periods, deprived of food and forced to endure cold for hours on end, just prior to questioning by Chinese interrogators.

Susan Manning, a lawyer who represents several Uighurs still held at Guantanamo, said Tuesday the allegations are all too familiar.

US personnel “are engaging in abusive tactics on behalf of the Chinese,” she said Tuesday. When Uighur detainees refused to talk to Chinese interrogators in 2002, US military personnel put them in solitary confinement as punishment, she said.

“Why are we doing China’s dirty work?” Manning said. “Surely we’re better than that.”

An official authorized to speak on behalf of the Defense Department but who declined to be named confirmed it was Pentagon policy to allow officials from other countries to have access to interview their nationals at Guantanamo but declined to discuss the specifics alleged in the report.

According to Fine’s report, the FBI agent said the Uighur detainee told him that the night before his interrogation by Chinese officials, “he was awakened at 15-minute intervals the entire night and into the next day.” The detainee also allegedly said he was “exposed to low room temperatures for long periods of time and was deprived of at least one meal.”

“The agent stated that he understood that the treatment of the Uighur detainees was either carried out by the Chinese interrogators or was carried out by US personnel at the behest of Chinese interrogators,” the report by the Department of Justice inspector general stated.

US forces captured roughly three dozen Uighurs in eastern Afghanistan shortly after invading the country in October 2001. The men said they were working there to earn money for families back home and to evade the Chinese government, which is known for taking a harsh and uncompromising line with separatist Uighurs.

The US State Department has found China to have suppressed the religious freedom of Uighurs, who are Muslim, and has accused the Chinese government of persecuting, even executing, those who advocate Uighur independence.

In 2006, after the United States released five Uighurs from Guantanamo, China asked for them to be repatriated so they could be prosecuted as terrorists. The United States declined to do so, out of concern they would not be treated humanely. Instead they transferred the men to Albania, which was the only country out of 90 approached by the US government who would take them.

The Pentagon says it is trying to release and resettle the majority of the 17 Uighurs who remain in Guantanamo, although it says it still considers them enemy combatants and a threat.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Who’s to Pay for Iraq’s Reconstruction? & Foreign Firms Vie for $15 Billion Construction Contract

May 30th, 2008 - by admin

Fatih Abdulsalam / Azzaman & Mohamed Fadhil / Azzaman – 2008-05-30 00:16:52

http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2008-05-25kurd.htm

Who’s to Pay for Iraq’s Reconstruction,
Iraqi or US Taxpayer?

Fatih Abdulsalam / Azzaman

BAGHDAD (May 25, 2008) — There have been calls in the US Congress demanding Iraq to pay for the post-war reconstruction from its oil revenues rather than American taxpayers’ money.

Such calls were never made before. US legislators started mulling them when expenditures on the twin wars of Iraq and Afghanistan skyrocketed to unreasonable levels.

Demands like these are not only unacceptable but are in a sense meant to punish Iraqis for the destruction and devastation US-waged invasion and occupation of their country has caused.

Does it mean that the US Congress wants us to pay billions of dollars for the reconstruction of bridges, hospitals, schools as well as cities, towns and villages US warplanes and military might have destroyed?

Does it mean that we the Iraqis are responsible for nearly 13-year long embargo which the US insisted on clamping on the former regime but its real sufferers and victims were the Iraqi people?

Are we going to pay for the mistakes and plunders of US-sponsored Iraqi governments whose ultimate aim has been to reinstate a state of sectarianism and manage the country and its resources to meet their sectarian goals?

Iraqis have been made to pay with their blood which has been flowing like rivers since the U.S. invasion. And shockingly the U.S. would like them to pay for the destruction it has inflicted on their country as if their blood is not enough.

The U.S. is morally responsible for the construction of Iraq but it is doubtful whether its political leaders have any more morality left. The whole Iraq war is morally wrong. It is too much indeed to ask the U.S. to get it morally right.


Foreign Firms Vie for $15 Billion Construction Contract
Mohamed Fadhil / Azzaman

BAGHDAD (May 29, 2008) — International firms are competing for one of the largest construction schemes in the country at a total cost of nearly $15 billion, a statement by Baghdad Municipality said.

The statement said 14 firms have supplied tenders to construct the Al-Rasheed City to be built on a former massive military camp bearing the same name.

The city will include a 4000-bed hospital and as well 21 specialized clinics to form the largest medical complex the Middle East in the future, the statement said.

The residential complex that will include six residential sectors with hundreds of 3-6 story building is expected initially to house 60,000 people, it added.

The return of some semblance of normalcy to Baghdad is encouraging some firms to submit offers.

Most foreign firms had fled Iraqi due to mounting insecurity. Many have migrated to the more peaceful Kurdish north, taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

“I Was Shot by Soldiers Bought and Paid for by Chevron”

May 30th, 2008 - by admin

Larry Bowoto / AlterNet – 2008-05-30 00:09:59

http://www.alternet.org/story/86691/

“I Was Shot by Soldiers Bought and Paid for by Chevron”
Larry Bowoto / AlterNet

This is a statement given to Chevron’s annual shareholders’ meeting by Larry Bowoto, a lead plaintiff in Bowoto v. Chevron, which will come to trial in federal court in San Francisco in September. See following article for background on the case of Bowoto v. Chevron.

(May 29, 2008) — Ten years ago today, I was shot by soldiers bought and paid for by Chevron. On May 28, 1998, I was on a Chevron oil barge in the Niger Delta. One hundred other villagers were with me. We were unarmed. We were there to protest the loss of our fish, our clean drinking water and our food trees, all of which are taken from us when Chevron pollutes and destroys our homeland.

In response to our protests, Chevron hired and paid, transported and “closely supervised” Nigerian forces who opened fire on us. I was shot several times and my arm is permanently damaged. Two villagers were killed and others were wounded. Others were tortured by the Nigerian authorities.

The family of one of the dead protestors and three of us who were injured or tortured brought a lawsuit in California to expose what Chevron did that day. Nine years into the lawsuit, which Chevron has dragged out by playing legal games and by refusing to admit the role the company played in the shootings, Chevron has not yet apologized. Chevron has also not compensated the victims.

My case is just one of many where Chevron has responded with violence when Nigerian villagers have protested, demanding that Chevron clean up its environmental and economic damage.

Those who live near Chevron’s oil production facilities in the Niger Delta are desperately poor. Most of our riverine villages have no electricity; nearly all can only be reached by boat, and most villagers barely survive on fishing and agriculture, traditional ways of feeding themselves that Chevron is destroying by polluting the water and land.

Chevron must admit it has used and paid Nigerian police and military to act as company thugs to harm and scare the local population. Chevron must give up violence as a way of doing business.

At a time that gas prices are creating record profits, Chevron has the resources to do more. It must repair the environment, and provide support to local communities, such as hospitals, scholarships, and jobs to replace our traditional forms of livelihood which Chevron is destroying.

Most importantly, Chevron must commit itself to preventing future violence against villagers, so no one in the Niger Delta has to go through what I have.


Bowoto v. Chevron
Center for Constitutional Rights

Synopsis
Bowoto v. Chevron is a class action lawsuit charging Chevron/Texaco Corporation with gross violations of human rights including extrajudicial killing; crimes against humanity; and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in the Niger Delta region.

Status
Filed in both the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California and the Superior Court of California, the California state trial is scheduled for August 25, 2008. The federal district court set the date for the jury damages trial as September 29.

Description
The plaintiffs – unarmed protestors and innocent citizens of the Niger Delta region of Niger – seek compensation injunctive and other relief under the federal Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) which allows suits in U.S courts against individuals or corporations that commit human rights violations. The plaintiffs also seek compensation under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and California state law.

In May 1998, unarmed residents of the Niger Delta protested at Chevron’s offshore Parabe Platform, demanding that the corporation contribute more resources to the development of the impoverished oil region. Even though negotiations seemed to be moving, on the morning of May 28, the protestors were shot and some killed by Nigerian soldiers and Chevron security personnel who were transported to the platform on Chevron-leased helicopters.

The suit also charges that the defendant, Chevron/Texaco, and its subsidiaries’ actions in the Niger Delta have caused the destruction of riverbeds, natural ecosystems, and have contributed to extreme land erosion.

• For more on the case, please visit www.ccrjustice.org/bowoto.

Timeline
On May 27, 1999, the victims of the Parabe incident and innocent residents of the Niger Delta region filed suit against Chevron/Texaco and its Nigerian subsidiaries.

On April 7, 2000, the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint on grounds of forum non conveniens was denied. The district court held that even though Chevron’s Nigerian subsidiary was amenable to Nigerian courts, it was Chevron Corporation that was being sued, and since there was no jurisdiction over Chevron in Nigeria, the motion must be denied.

On March 23, 2004, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs did not have sufficient evidence to hold the parent corporation, Chevron, liable for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary. Judge Susan Illston ruled against the defendants, holding that there was an “extraordinarily close relationship between the parents and subsidiaries prior to, during and after the attacks,” making the subsidiary an agent of Chevron and holding the parent corporation liable.

On November 4, 2004, the Superior Court of California denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the state case on grounds that Chevron was exercising its right to free speech by lying about and covering up the violence at Parabe.

In late 2006, Chevron filed five motions for summary judgment in the federal case that challenged the plaintiffs’ claims for crimes against humanity and for violation of the RICO Act. They also challenged the case on the basis that Chevron cannot be held liable for acts of the Nigerian military. Chevron also filed four motions for summary judgment in the state case. All motions are currently under consideration.

August 25, 2008, The date in which the trial is set in the Superior Court of California.

September 29, 2008, The date that the jury damages trial is scheduled to take place in the US District Court of Northern Califorina.

Attached Files
0. Bowoto_ActofState_08_07.pdf
0. Bowoto_EvidentiaryMotion_08_07.pdf
0. Bowoto_RulingCrimesAgainstHumanity_08_07.pdf
0. Bowoto_RulingMotionToStrikeReconsideration_08_07.pdf
0. Bowoto_RulingOnReconsiderationCertification_08_07.pdf
Bowoto_StateClaimsRuling_08_07.pdf

ACTION ALERT: Czech Hunger Strike over US Radar Base Spreading around World

May 30th, 2008 - by admin

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space & UFPJ – 2008-05-30 00:02:03

http://nenasili.cz/en/1081_campaign-in-europe

Hunger Strike in Czech Republic Spreads to US
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Activists Campaign to Halt Bush’s “Missile Defense” Deplyments in Central Europe

(May 27, 2008) — Two leading peace activists in the Czech Republic began an unlimited hunger strike on May 13 in protest of US plans to deploy a so-called :missile defense” radar in their country. The hunger strike and protests are now spreading throughout Europe and other parts of the world including the US

In Maine, Bruce Gagnon who coordinates the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, joined the hunger strike on May 24 and vows to continue on with it until the Czech strikers quit.

In Prague, Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar (who is now suffering kidney failure) are into their second week of the hunger strike. They both are leaders of the No to Bases Coalition in their country that has been working to give voice to the 70% of Czech citizens who oppose the deployment of the US Star Wars radar.

Jan Tamas recently stated, “The issue of the US military base is not only an issue of international security for us, but also an issue of democracy. It is about whether we will once again allow a small group of elite politicians to ignore the wishes of the majority of the population on an issue of great importance to their fate. These methods remind us of times before 1989 — times we don’t want to be repeated.”

According to Bruce Gagnon, “George W. Bush claims that his Poland and Czech Republic ‘missile defense; deployments are to protect Europe from Iranian nuclear missiles. Iran today has zero nuclear missiles.

A team of American physicists has studied the deployments and reports that the Polish and Czech bases could not physically intercept Iranian missiles, but could be used against Russia (which just happens to have the world’s largest supply of natural gas.) The US and NATO are now moving military bases eastward and surrounding Russia. A new cold war and a European arms race will be the sad result.”

Protests against the military occupation of the Czech Republic and Poland by the US have now spread to Amsterdam, Berlin, Bologna, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Florence, London, Malaga, Milan, Paris, Toulouse, Trieste, Turin, and Zurich. They are echoed in Australia, New York City, and in Brunswick, Maine.

• On on-line petition has been created to oppose the US radar deployment at www.nonviolence.cz

• Watch a short documentary video on the issue at http://www.nenasili.cz/en/946_video-star-wars

• For more information on Star Wars and missile defense see
www.space4peace.org

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502

http://www.space4peace.org
globalnet@mindspring.com
http://space4peace.blogspot.com (Blog)


Support Czech Hunger Strikers: Oppose US Weapons Base
United for Peace and Justice

On May 13th, Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar began a hunger strike in Prague. They are asking for respect for the expressed will of 70% of the people of the Czech Republic and that a democratic referendum be held to determine whether or not to install a U.S. military base on Czech territory. “We have tried almost everything, but our government has failed to listen to us,” says Tamas.

The US government, as part of its global so-called “Missile Defense” initiative, is planning to install a radar base in the Czech Republic, despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the Czech people. Although it is presented as a defense system against possible attacks from non-existent Iranian missiles, the “Missile Defense” system is, in fact, a first strike weapon.

It is a tool for global dominance which represents the first step towards U.S. weaponization and control of space. It is seen by the Czech Republic°¶s neighbor and former Cold War ally, Russia, as a threat and a provocation, which is spurring Russia to engage in a new arms race with the United States.

For over 2 years, citizens in the Czech Republic have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the proposed base through mass demonstrations, opinion polls, and petitions, yet the Czech government has refused to allow a public debate on the issue. Time is now running out, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to travel to Prague in June to sign the agreement between the two countries.

We can show our support for the hunger strikers as we call upon our own government to end its plans for the “Missile Defense” project, which endangers the peace and co-existence of people worldwide. While a military base in the Czech Republic would be located thousands of miles away from the U.S., it would have major implications for people around the United States and the world.

Here’s what you can do:

• 1) Add your name to the more than 87,000 people who’ve already signed on online petition – and then encourage others to sign on as well:
http://www.nonviolence.cz
You can also read messages of support that have come in from around the world at http://www.nenasili.cz/en/723_messages-of-support

• 2) Throughout Europe groups have been demonstrating their support for the hunger strikers – as well as their opposition to the U.S. °ßMissile Defense°® initiative. Find out more about these activities: http://nenasili.cz/en/1081_campaign-in-europe

• 3) Make sure your member of Congress knows about your opposition to the radar base in the Czech Republic, and to the whole °ßMissile Defense°® initiative.

• 4) Forward this message to others in your networks!

peace,
Leslie Cagan
National Coordinator, UFPJ

US-Trained Forces Reportedly Helping Mexican Cartels

May 28th, 2008 - by admin

Houston Chronicle – 2008-05-28 22:33:49

http://www.blacklistednews.com/view.asp?ID=6564

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2008) — As many as 200 U.S.-trained Mexican security personnel have defected to drug cartels to carry out killings on both sides of the border and as far north as Dallas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, told Congress on Wednesday.

The renegade members of Mexico’s elite counter-narcotics teams trained at Fort Benning, Ga., have switched sides, contributing to a wave of violence that has claimed some 6,000 victims over the past 30 months, including prominent law enforcement leaders, the Houston-area Republican told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The slaughter has gained urgency amid high-profile assassinations of law officers in Mexico since May 1, claiming six senior officers, five of them with the federal police.

Poe held aloft a dramatic, poster-board-size photograph that he said showed guerrilla-style commandos crossing into the United States.

He said the Department of Homeland Security had documented “over 250 incursions by suspected military forces” into the United States over the past decade.

“I was surprised to hear that the United States has trained Mexican forces and some of those have deserted and become the reason for these attacks,” Poe said.

Officers ‘Switched Sides’
The US-trained Mexican security personnel have “switched sides and became assassins and recruiters for the Mexican drug cartels.”

Poe, a former prosecutor and criminal court judge, issued the allegations in an unsuccessful effort to persuade the House Foreign Affairs Committee to revamp President Bush’s Merida Initiative.

Bush’s blueprint calls for $1.4 billion in training, equipment and law enforcement assistance to Mexico and Central America over three years.

Bush also is seeking $500 million in emergency assistance for Mexico this year as part of the supplemental war spending measure.

Democrats have included only $400 million of Bush’s request in the $161 billion war spending measure.

Poe tried to require the Bush administration to evenly split spending between the United States and Mexico rather than sending the entire amount south of the border.

“It seems as though the United States has a history in some cases of giving support (to Mexico) and that support turns around and is used against the very people we’re trying to protect, in this case, us,” Poe said. “We have no assurance that the equipment we’re sending to Mexico won’t be turned over to the drug cartels and used against us.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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