Friday, June 30, 2006
I am still on "vacation" (regular edition will return sometime in July) but I could not ignore what is happening to the civilian population of Gaza. Below you will find a report from the UN on the situation, a commentary printed in CounterPunch, and an editorial from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
UN aid chief warns Gaza is on the verge of humanitarian crisis
Gaza is three days away from a deadly humanitarian crisis unless Israel promptly restores fuel and electricity to the densely populated area after its offensive to free an abducted soldier, the United Nations aid chief warned on Thursday.
"They are heading for the abyss unless they get electricity and fuel restored," said Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who also urged the Palestinians to free the soldier and clamp down on militants firing rockets into Israel.
Without clean water in the hot summer weather, "we would in days see a major humanitarian crisis," he said. Military action targeting innocent civilians violates international humanitarian law, he added.
"I am confident that neither of the two want to see a massive increase in mortality in the Gaza," where children make up about half of the area's 1.4 million people, Egeland told a small group of reporters.
At the heart of the crisis, he said, was Israel's bombing of Gaza's sole power plant, which supplies about 40 percent of the area's electricity. The remaining power comes from Israel.
An estimated 130 Gaza wells require electricity to pump water, and while some have backup pumps that run on diesel fuel, Israel has allowed no fuel to flow into Gaza for four days, leaving it dependent on emergency supplies expected to last another three days.
Egeland, who as Norway's deputy foreign minister helped orchestrate secret 1992 talks between Israel and the Palestinians that led to the Oslo accords, lamented that both sides in the conflict appeared intent on perpetuating an endless cycle of violence.
"They are locked in a situation where they do their utmost to cut the bridges between them and create hatred that bodes ill for the future," he said. "Why do they do things that are so counter to their own interests?"
Red Cross looks to send medical supplies to Gaza
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), concerned about escalating Middle East violence, called on Friday for Israel to allow urgent medical supplies into Gaza.
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC spokeswoman, said Israel was obliged under international law - including the Geneva Conventions - to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach Palestinian civilians.
Israel Air Force fighter jets pounded Gaza on Friday, setting ablaze the Interior Ministry office of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in a widening military effort to secure the release of a soldier captured last Sunday.
"We are negotiating with Israel to allow in humanitarian aid. These are essential medicines and medical supplies for the Palestinian Red Crescent," Krimitsas told Reuters.
"We are concerned at the humanitarian consequences of the escalation of violence and closure of crossing points to Gaza, especially the Karni crossing," she added.
The ICRC is also anxious to deliver food packages and household items for Palestinian families, some of whom have had their homes destroyed, according to Krimitsas.
"Under international law, Israel has the obligation to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza. It also has the duty to ensure that the vital supplies for the population, including food and medicine, are adequate," she said.
Israeli strikes have knocked out bridges, water systems and a major power transformer in the densely populated Gaza Strip, home to 1.4 million Palestinians.
Hospitals, hard-hit by the loss of electricity, have to use generators for power, consuming precious fuel, Krimitsas said.
"We are worried about the fuel stocks. Palestinian authorities have estimated that they have enough for about 7 to 10 days," she added.
Israel's Appalling Bombing in Gaza
Starving in the Dark
By VIRGINIA TILLEY
On the excuse of rescuing one kidnapped soldier, Israeli is now bombing the Gaza Strip and is poised to re-invade. It has also arrested a third of the Palestinian parliament, wrecking even its fragile illusion of capacity and reducing the already-empty vessel of the Palestinian Authority into broken shards.
In the shambles, Palestinians may be observing one bitter pill of compensation: vicious angling by Fatah to reclaim control of Palestinian national politics and its rivalry with Hamas are now rendered obsolete. Even the dogged international community cannot maintain its dogged pretense that the PA is actually capable of any governance at all. The demise of the disastrous Oslo model, Israel's device to ensure its final dismemberment of Palestinian land and its fatal cooptation of the Palestinian national movement, may finally be at hand. Perhaps Palestinian unity again has a chance.
But no one knows what will replace the PA. It is therefore not surprising that this transformed diplomatic landscape is absorbing the principal attention of an anxious international community.
Nevertheless, politics should not be the greatest international concern. For over in Gaza, one appalling act must now eclipse all thoughts of "road maps" or "mutual gestures": on Wednesday, Israeli war planes repeatedly bombed and utterly demolished Gaza's only power plant. About 700,000 of Gaza's 1.3 million people now have no electricity, and word is that power cannot be restored for six months.
It is not the immediate human conditions created by this strike that are monumental. Those conditions are, of course, bad enough. No lights, no refrigerators, no fans through the suffocating Gaza summer heat. No going outside for air, due to ongoing bombing and Israel's impending military assault. In the hot darkness, massive explosions shake the cities, close and far, while repeated sonic booms are doubtless wreaking the havoc they have wrought before: smashing windows, sending children screaming into the arms of terrified adults, old people collapsing with heart failure, pregnant women collapsing with spontaneous abortions. Mass terror, despair, desperate hoarding of food and water. And no radios, television, cell phones, or laptops (for the few who have them), and so no way to get news of how long this nightmare might go on.
But this time, the situation is worse than that. As food in the refrigerators spoils, the only remaining food is grains. Most people cook with gas, but with the borders sealed, soon there will be no gas. When family-kitchen propane tanks run out, there will be no cooking. No cooked lentils or beans, no humus, no bread the staples Palestinian foods, the only food for the poor. (And there is no firewood or coal in dry, overcrowded Gaza.)
And yet, even all this misery is overshadowed by a grimmer fact: no water. Gaza's public water supply is pumped by electricity. The taps, too, are dry. No sewage system. And again, word is that the electricity is out for at least six months.
The Gaza aquifer is already contaminated with sea water and sewage, due to over-pumping (partly by those now-abandoned Israeli settlements) and the grossly inadequate sewage system. To be drinkable, well water is purified through machinery run by electricity. Otherwise, the brackish water must at least be boiled before it can be consumed, but this requires electricity or gas. And people will soon have neither.
Drinking unpurified water means sickness, even cholera. If cholera breaks out, it will spread like wildfire in a population so densely packed and lacking fuel or water for sanitation. And the hospitals and clinics aren't functioning, either, because there is no electricity.
Finally, people can't leave. None of the neighboring countries have resources to absorb a million desperate and impoverished refugees: logistically and politically, the flood would entirely destabilize Egypt, for example. But Palestinians in Gaza can't seek sanctuary with their relatives in the West Bank, either, because they can't get out of Gaza to get there. They can't even go over the border into Egypt and around through Jordan, because Israel will no longer allow people with Gaza identification cards to enter the West Bank. In any case, a cordon of Palestinian police are blocking people from trying to scramble over the Egyptian border--and war refugees have tried, through a hole blown open by militants, clutching packages and children.
In short, over a million civilians are now trapped, hunkered in their homes listening to Israeli shells, while facing the awful prospect, within days or weeks, of having to give toxic water to their children that may consign them to quick but agonizing deaths.
One woman near the Rafah border, taking care of her nephews, spoke to BBC: "If I am frightened in front of them I think they will die of fear." If the international community does nothing, her children may soon die anyway.
The astonishing scale of this humanitarian situation is indeed matched only by the deafening drizzle of international reaction. "Of course it is understandable that [the Israelis] would want to go after those who kidnapped their soldier," says Kofi Anan (while the Palestinian population cowers in the dark listening to thundering explosions demolish their society), "but it has to be done in such a way that civilian populations are not made to suffer." Even as Israel bombs smash Gaza's roadways, the G-8 stands up on its hind-legs to intone, "We call on Israel to exercise utmost restraint in the current crisis." How about the Russians, now angling for position in the new "Great Game" of the Middle East? "The right and duty of the government of Israel to defend the lives and security of its citizens are beyond doubt," says Russia's foreign ministry, as though poor Corporal Shalit warrants any of this mayhem, "But this should not be done at the cost of many lives and the lives of many Palestinian civilians, by massive military strikes with heavy consequences for the civilian population."
And what says noble Europe, proud font of human rights conventions, architects of the misión civilizatrice? "The EU remains deeply concerned," mumbles the mighty defenders of humanitarian law, "about the worsening security and humanitarian developments." Seemingly soggy phrases like "deeply concerned" are diplomatic code for "We are seriously unhappy." But under these circumstances, "remains deeply concerned" suggests that this staggering crime is just one more sobering moment in the failed "road map."
Diplomatic bubbles of unreality in the Middle East are the norm rather than the exception, but at some point the international community must face the very unwelcome fact that it needs to change gear. A country that claims kinship among the western democracies of Europe is behaving like a murderous rogue regime, using any excuse to reduce over a million people to utter human misery and even mass death. Plastering Corporal Shalit's face over this policy is no more convincing that South African newspapers emblazoning the picture of one poor murdered white doctor over their coverage of the 1976 Soweto uprising.
Israel has done many things argued to be war crimes: mass house demolitions, closing whole cities for weeks, indefinite "preventative" detentions, massive land confiscation, the razing of thousands of square miles of Palestinian olive groves and agriculture, systematic physical and mental torture of prisoners, extrajudicial killings, aerial bombardment of civilian areas, collective punishment of every description in defiance of the Geneva Conventions--not to mention the general humiliation and ruin of the indigenous people under its military control. But destroying the only power source for a trapped and defenseless civilian population is an unprecedented step toward barbarity. It reeks, ironically, of the Warsaw Ghetto. As we flutter our hands about tectonic political change, we must take pause: in the eyes of history, what is happening in Gaza may come to eclipse them all.
Dr. Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, currently working in South Africa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The government is losing its reason
By Haaretz Editorial
Bombing bridges that can be circumvented both by car and on foot; seizing an airport that has been in ruins for years; destroying a power station, plunging large parts of the Gaza Strip into darkness; distributing flyers suggesting that people be concerned about their fate; a menacing flight over Bashar Assad's palace; and arresting elected Hamas officials: The government wishes to convince us that all these actions are intended only to release the soldier Gilad Shalit.
But the greater the government's creativity in inventing tactics, the more it seems to reflect a loss of direction rather than an overall conception based on reason and common sense. On the face of it, Israel wishes to exert increasing pressure both on Hamas' political leadership and on the Palestinian public, in order to induce it to pressure its leadership to release the soldier. At the same time, the government claims that Syria - or at least Khaled Meshal, who is living in Syria - holds the key. If so, what is the point of pressuring the local Palestinian leadership, which did not know of the planned attack and which, when it found out, demanded that the kidnappers take good care of their victim and return him?
The tactic of pressuring civilians has been tried before, and more than once. The Lebanese, for example, are very familiar with the Israeli tactic of destroying power stations and infrastructure. Entire villages in south Lebanon have been terrorized, with the inhabitants fleeing in their thousands for Beirut. But what also happens under such extreme stress is that local divisions evaporate and a strong, united leadership is forged.
In the end, Israel was forced both to negotiate with Hezbollah and to withdraw from Lebanon. Now, the government appears to be airing out its Lebanon catalogue of tactics and implementing it, as though nothing has been learned since then. One may assume that the results will be similar this time around as well.
Israel also kidnapped people from Lebanon to serve as bargaining chips in dealings with the kidnappers of Israeli soldiers. Now, it is trying out this tactic on Hamas politicians. As the prime minister said in a closed meeting: "They want prisoners released? We'll release these detainees in exchange for Shalit." By "these detainees," he was referring to elected Hamas officials.
The prime minister is a graduate of a movement whose leaders were once exiled, only to return with their heads held high and in a stronger position than when they were deported. But he believes that with the Palestinians, things work differently.
As one who knows that all the Hamas activists deported by Yitzhak Rabin returned to leadership and command positions in the organization, Olmert should know that arresting leaders only strengthens them and their supporters. But this is not merely faulty reasoning; arresting people to use as bargaining chips is the act of a gang, not of a state.
The government was caught up too quickly in a whirlwind of prestige mixed with fatigue. It must return to its senses at once, be satisfied with the threats it has made, free the detained Hamas politicians and open negotiations. The issue is a soldier who must be brought home, not changing the face of the Middle East.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Starting today, university students in Greece will demonstrate for three days in a row in protest against planned higher education "reforms."
The demonstrations have been timed to coincide with a two-day session of education ministers from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The government, fearing the possibility of clashes between demonstrators and the police outside the OECD session, has moved it to a resort hotel in Lagonissi, a seaside town 40 kilometers south of Athens.
The police have taken emergency measures and will use over 2,000 policemen and riot policemen to block access to the hotel, while another 2,000 will be deployed in the center of Athens. The road to Lagonissi, from the 39th to the 42nd kilometer from Athens, will be closed to vehicles from early today to tomorrow afternoon.
For background go to http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/2006/06/students-take-on-government-in-greece.html
The first report is from Bulgaria's Focus News on today's happenings. The second is from the Independent (UK)
Police and Demonstrators Clash in Athens
There were clashes between police and demonstrators in Greek capital Athens today, Greek agency ANA-MPA reports.
The incident was registered at noon in front of the Lagonissi Hotel where the meeting of the Education Ministers of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is taking place.
About 500 people requested to be granted access to the hotel’s entrance to hand in a declaration. The police refused to do so. Half an hour later the protesting crowd tried to break the police cordon but were dispersed with tear gas.
FOCUS News Agency reminds that the students warned they will hold a three-day rally during the meeting of the OECD Education Ministers. For tomorrow the protesters have planned to hold a rally in front of the Lagonissi Hotel.
Greek police fire teargas at rioting students
Athens - Riot police fired teargas at student demonstrators on Tuesday during clashes in central Athens, the latest in a series of protests against education reforms that have turned violent.
Scores of youths threw petrol bombs, sticks and stones at police in full riot gear, and they returned with several rounds of teargas that left one Athens avenue covered in smoke.
Local television showed demonstrators with scarves wrapped around their heads, breaking up marble paving stones and throwing them at police.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.
The centre-right Greek government has been attempting to reform the country's system of higher education. Greece is the only European Union member which does not recognise private universities.
It is facing a deadline by 2010, when the EU hopes to adopt common standards for education that will make cooperation between universities easier and establish equivalence between degrees.
Earlier on Tuesday, student demonstrators also clashed with police at a seaside resort south of Athens where education ministers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development were holding a meeting.
Dozens of people gathered outside the UN Monday to call for the closure of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. The rally was held to mark the United Nations Day for Victims of Torture. The protesters dressed in orange jumpsuits and marched behind a cage on wheels. Twenty-five people were arrested, including the peace activist Father Daniel Berrigan. Three of the arrested protesters gave their names as those of the Guantanamo prisoners who committed suicide earlier this month.
The following is from Witness Against Torture.
TWENTY FIVE ARRESTED AT THE US MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS SAYING NO TO TORTURE, SHUT DOWN GUANTANAMO
Three Activists Arrested With the Names of the Men who Committed Suicide at Guantanamo on June 10, 2006.
Contact: Frida Berrigan 347-683-4928
Amanda Daloisio 201-264-4424
Undeterred by inclement weather, more than 60 people marched in a solemn procession from the United Nations to the US mission to the United Nations. Carrying signs that read Shut Down Guantanamo, the group marked the United Nations Day for the Victims of Torture. The procession, which included rabbis, priests, nuns, college students and human rights activists, was led by a cage on wheels representing the Guantanamo prison cells in which over 400 men remain, some for more than 4 years.
Upon arrival, Witness Against Torture- a Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo- moderated a press conference in which distinguished religious leaders, legal experts and the nephew of a Guantanamo prisoner addressed Ambassador John Bolton directly, calling on him to heed international demands to shut down Guantanamo. The press conference was co-sponsored by Riverside Church, Rabbis for Human Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Immediately following the press conference, twenty five of those gathered sent a strong message- to end torture, stop indefinite detention and shut down Guantanamo- to the US Ambassador to the UN by blocking the doors of the building; saying they would stay until the international consensus against these illegal acts is respected, heard and acted upon.
While the activists were removed after 20 minutes, a new page in the movement to shut down Guantanamo was turned. Three of those arrested took on the names of men who died at Guantanamo- reportedly by suicide- on June 10, 2006. "With humility and sadness that I commit this act of nonviolent civil disobedience as Ali Abdullah Ahmed," said one of those who refused to give his own name. "Ali was 29 and originally from Yemen. Despite being held for 4 long years, no US judge ever heard his case. It is our intention to bring his name, and the names of Manei Shaman Turki al-Habadi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, into the US criminal justice system in the hopes that no more men die or are killed before justice and mercy are shown."
Witness Against Torture began as a walk to visit the prisoners in Guantanamo in December. Twenty four U.S. Catholics walked more than 100 kilometers to resist the war on terrorism and respond to its victims. Upon return, along with countless others, they initiated a National Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo. For more information, visit: www.witnesstorture.org
Thanks goes to YubaNet for this little gem which is HOT off the presses.
Andy Borowitz: Cheney Stars in Pro-Global Warming Film
Author: Andy Borowitz
Published on Jun 27, 2006, 07:16
In an attempt to counteract the impact of former Vice President Al Gore's cautionary film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," Vice President Dick Cheney is starring in a new film advocating global warming, Mr. Cheney confirmed today.
The Cheney film, entitled "A Really Convenient Truth," will open in theaters nationwide in time for the fall 2006 midterm elections.
"I saw the Al Gore movie, and quite frankly, the whole thing was a downer from the word go," Mr. Cheney said at a White House press briefing. "I thought it was time to tell the American people the good news about global warming."
"The truth is, as the entire world turns into a red-hot tropical zone, it will be possible to go on vacation wherever you are," Mr. Cheney added. "When was the last time you wanted to take a vacation on a glacier?"
The vice president added that soon it will be so hot everywhere in the country that it will no longer be necessary to go to Florida for vacation, adding, "which is a good thing, because no one can afford to drive to Florida anymore."
Mr. Cheney said he would show his film to the U.S. Supreme Court and let the justices decide whose film is better, his or Mr. Gore's.
At the Supreme Court today, the justices found in favor of Mr. Cheney's film by a 5-4 vote.
Elsewhere, after a new study showed that boys with older brothers are more likely to be gay, President Bush proposed a constitutional amendment banning older brothers.
Andy Borowitz writes a daily humor column at www.borowitzreport.com and is the author of a new book, The Borowitz Report: The Big Book of Shockers.
Monday, June 26, 2006
To hear locals tell it, the agricultural town of Beit Ummar, just north of Hebron in the West Bank, has more tractors per capita -- about 1,000, for 12,000 residents -- than any other town in Palestine. On any given day, the hilly streets and terraced fields are filled with tractors, chugging back and forth under the high desert sun, ferrying produce and people from one end of town to the other in a haze of exhaust.
Much of the area around Beit Ummar is covered with grape vines.
And yet working the fields is no easy matter.
We all hear about the big events in Israel and Palestine, but it is what goes on every day that the individuals involved will remember for a life time.
The following was taken from the web site of the International Solidarity Movement
Farmers Fight Against Settlement Control of their Land
June 26th, 2006 | Posted in Reports, Hebron Region
At 7:30am yesterday morning Abu Ayyash and his son Yousef, from Beit Ummar, were accompanied by 3 peace activists in order to go to their land to spray the grape vines with pesticides. Despite Israeli army and settler security forces attempts to stop them, they succeeded in working the land.
On the way to the land we met another farmer, Mahmoud A’akel from Halhul who asked if we could also accompany him. Abu A’akel and one international peace activist never made it to the land and just crossed the settler road when they were stopped by the settlement security. The security guards, equipped with m-16’s, told them that they were not allowed to enter.
The security then drove to the land of Abu Ayyash and tried to physically stop them from spraying the grapes. Abu Ayyash owns 3 dunums of land that borders the Karme Sur settlement road, which acts as a border to the settlement. The three security guards said we were not allowed to be on the land because we were too close to the settlement. When they noticed that the internationals were taking pictures they became less aggressive and retreated to call for army backup.
The farmers continued to work as the Israeli army arrived. The soldiers said that they must call the DCO for permission to work on their land. They conceded that there was no official order, but said that we couldn’t be on the land. The settler security and the army worked together to agree on a plan that we could stay on the land as long as the army stayed to watch.
The farmers continued to work until all their grape vines were sprayed. Abu Ayyash may not have a chance to harvest the grapes, however, because the settlement plans to put a wall around the settlement and confiscate most of his land. We pulled out the metal stakes that were marking part of the route of the wall. A soldier told us that his commander ordered them to remove us from the land because it was owned by the settlement. He said that the settlement purchased the land from Abu Ayyash to build the wall. We told him that this was a lie and he has not sold his land or received any money for his land.
Abu Ayyash has contacted a lawyer to fight this illegal confiscation and plans to continue to fight for his right to work his land.
The Solidarity Network with Nicaragua in the US and other organizations apologized to the Nicaraguan people on Friday for their country's interference in the Nicaraguan election process.
A published letter read:
An Open Letter to the People of Nicaragua (for Spanish scroll down)
As U.S. citizens we apologize for, and denounce the continuing interference in Nicaragua's election process by the U.S. government, including the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, and the National Endowment for Democracy. Led by Ambassador Paul Trivelli and his embassy staff in Managua, there has been a constant flow of threats to the people of Nicaragua based on who may win the November elections. In late June we hope to publish this open letter in both leading Nicaraguan daily newspapers to counteract the undemocratic actions of our government. Help make our message clear to the Nicaraguan people and the US administration! Sign the Ad!
The United States should immediately stop all attempts to manipulate the electoral process through selective funding of candidates and political parties, verbal threats, or any other overt or covert means.
These actions do not reflect the will of the people of the United States and would be viewed as criminal and denounced in the strongest language if a government were to attempt the same during elections in the United States. It is not for us or for our government to indicate preferences or to interfere in Nicaragua's internal affairs. We will work in solidarity in the United States to support Nicaragua's sovereignty.
We know that you, the people of Nicaragua, conscious of your long struggle for independence, will vote your consciences and interests. It is your right to make this important choice free of intimidation.
The Quest for Peace & the Nicaragua Network
Spanish version (as it will appear in the Nicaraguan newspapers):
Carta Abierta al Pueblo Nicaragüense
Como ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, denunciamos y pedimos disculpas por la intervención continua en el proceso electoral Nicaragüense por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos, incluyendo al Departamento de Estado, la Agencia para el Desarrollo Internacional y el Fondo Nacional para la Democracia. El Embajador Paul Trivelli y su equipo en la embajada en Managua, han lanzado una serie de amenazas al pueblo de Nicaragua basadas en quien pudiera ganar las elecciones de Noviembre.
El Gobierno de los Estados Unidos debe parar de inmediato todos sus esfuerzos por manipular el proceso electoral; a través del financiamiento selectivo de candidatos y partidos políticos, amenazas verbales y cualquier otro medio abierto o encubierto.
Estas acciones no reflejan la voluntad del pueblo de los Estados Unidos y serían consideradas acciones criminales y denunciadas en los términos más fuertes si un gobierno extranjero intentara lo mismo durante una campaña electoral en los Estados Unidos.
No es apropiado para nosotros ni para nuestro gobierno indicar preferencias ni interferir en los asuntos internos de Nicaragua. En los Estados Unidos trabajaremos en solidaridad con Nicaragua para apoyar su soberanía.
Concientes de la larga lucha del pueblo de Nicaragua por su independencia, tenemos confianza que ustedes votarán según su intereses y conciencia. Es su derecho ejercer esta importante decisión, libre de intimidación.
The Quest for Peace and The Nicaragua Network
Alec McFadden, who organised last year's 'Say No to Racism' festival in Liverpool, was nearly blinded after being slashed across the face at his Wirral home last month.
The attack was the latest of many carried out on anti-racist campaigners whose names, photographs and addresses have been published on the notorious Red Watch website. Redwatch is a magazine and website, published in the United Kingdom, that displays photographs and personal information of people perceived to be political opponents of its ideology, white nationalism. Their slogan is "Remember places, traitors' faces, they'll all pay for their crimes."
Its opponents claim it is run by the fascist groups Combat 18 and Blood and Honour and that the website is effectively a "hit-list".
Earlier this month Polich police arrested men suspected of helping run the Web site which espouses Nazi ideology.
The man, identified under Poland’s privacy law only as 21-year-old Bartosz B., from the northern city of Slupsk, faces charges of disseminating Nazi ideas, xenophobia and participation in an illegal group, police spokeswoman Beata Tobiasz said.
Police suspect he translated Polish texts into English for the international “Redwatch” Web site, allied with the far-right Blood and Honor [bonehead gang], and helped the managers keep in touch with its administrators [DreamHost] in the United States.
He was detained on Friday and can be held for two months as the charges are investigated further. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.
In Britain, unions, anti-fascist groups and MPs are looking at ways of closing the site and prosecuting those involved.
Home Office minister Vernon Coaker told MPs that the British authorities have no authority over the site because it is hosted by an American company. But he has had talks with his counterparts in the US to get them to investigate whether they have broken any laws and to prosecute.
By the way, I absolutely do not believe in free speech for those who advocate racist violence of any kind. That's nonsense. I'm not the ACLU. For those who would argue if we oppose the nazi's right to spout their venem, it will end up being used against us (left and progressives), I again say nonsense. Repression of the left was never dependent upon repression of the right (and vice versa for that matter).
I don't support anyone's right, for example, to call for my extermination.
The following article comes from Black OnLine (UK).
Website blamed for anti-racism stabbing
Internet companies will be told to act against a far-right website which has been blamed for a vicious knife attack on a Merseyside anti-racism campaigner.
Under pressure from MPs, the Home Office has pledged to put pressure on web service providers, following attacks on many activists who were named on the notorious Red Watch site.
Anti-racism campaigner, Alec McFadden, was nearly blinded after being slashed across the face at his Wirral home in Cheshire.
The leading trade unionist also received cuts to his head, arms and wrists, as he tried to fend off the knifeman in front of his horrified daughters, aged nine and 13.
The companies will be urged to filter out the photographs, and even addresses, posted by the website in what MPs claim is a hit-list for violent racists.
But the Home Office said it is powerless to close down the website, because it is based in the United States.
Mr McFadden's details had been posted on the Red Watch site, which is run by the fascist group, Combat 18, which brands its opponents as "scum" and " retards".
Libya’s Supreme Court has rejected civil claims of the five Bulgarian nurses still being held in a Libyan prison against the Libyan officers who had tortured them into making confessions after their arrest in 1999. On January 18, 2005, the nurses signed a joint claim for damages demanding 1 million Libyan dinars each.
Their new criminal trial continues in its on again off again fasion.
The following is from the Bulgarian News Network.
Libyan court completely rejected Bulgarian nurses’ civil claims
SOFIA (bnn)- The Supreme Libyan Court completely rejected the civil claims of the five Bulgarian nurses against the Libyan officers who tortured them in the first months of detention, Focus News agency announced on Monday.
On Jan. 18th, 2005 the Bulgarians signed a common claim that demanded compensation – 1 million Lybian dinares (LYD) (EUR 605,707; US$ 760, 827) for each one of them. The Supreme Court has recently finally acquitted the nine officers who led the investigation over the AIDS outbreak in the town of Benghazi.
After the torturers were found not guilty for their violence, on Monday the judges denied the last retribution opportunity – the civil claims, Focus agency announced.
The scars over the nurses may be seen today, the agency added. At the last session of the Libyan Court of Appeals on June 20th the judge has denied to allow a new medical expertise saying that the violence issue is over after the officers’ acquittal.
However, he agreed that the Bulgarian lawyer give reasons for the psychological torment of the detainees. It’s not clear if the Court of Appeals will take into consideration those arguments. It’s clear however that the rejected civil claims may be used as a reason for the judge panel not to confess any form of violence against the Bulgarians, Focus agency added.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Nurses at Kauai's only hospital are on strike.
Striking nurses began picketing Wilcox Memorial Hospital at 7 a.m. yesterday, as supervisory staff and scab contract nurses from the Mainland took over patient services in the hospital
The nurses have developed a long term plan of action to maintain solidarity among the Nurses. Their plan community-at-large. The nurses, "union vowed to show Wilcox Hospital/Hawaii Paciﬁc Health that the Nurses, other unions in Hawai‘i and concerned citizens ‘are united in demanding quality and safe health care for Kaua‘i’s people.’”
Even before the strike began members of HGEA, SHOPO, and other unions in Hawai‘i displayed their support for Wilcox Hospital Nurses by joining the nurses in their sign waving demonstrations and wearing buttons supporting quality and safe health care for Kaua’i’ made by the nurses.
Nurses walked in yesterday's hot sun, many of them carrying umbrellas. Representatives of other unions stopped by to lend moral support, bringing donations like cases of cold water.
The nurses say they aren't in it for the money.
The Hawai‘i Nurses Association noted the top concern in the contract negotiations “is proper Nurse staff levels which are essential to delivering quality and safe health care for Kaua‘i’s people.”
The following is from the Star Bulletin (Hawaii).
Kauai nurses go on strike
While the first day was peaceful and orderly, both sides say they hope the strike will get the other side back to the bargaining table.
Even so, the hospital's administration and the Hawaii Nurses' Association are preparing for perhaps months of nurses picketing in front of the hospital instead of caring for patients.
Inside, 40 replacement nurses from the mainland have been flown in and have been trained to take the Kauai nurses' place, with an additional 20 nurses on the way this week. It business as usual inside, administration officials said.
"We had to do what we had to do," said hospital spokes-woman Lani Yukimura. "We have to remain open" for the community.
Union members walking the picket line say they're striking so that patient care gets better at Kauai's biggest and only full-service hospital.
But Kathy Clark, chief executive officer of the hospital, herself a registered nurse, says there's no reason to strike.
"There isn't anything there that, as a nurse, is worth striking over," she said.
The main issue is the current system used to determine the amount of nurses on a given shift. It is based on the amount of patients and their needs.
Clark, who created the system, said it's on par with other hospitals around the state. But the nurses say the current system causes problems with patients.
Also still on the table are on-call procedures for operating room nurses.
"The present system is not working," said Liza Desmond, a fourth-floor surgical nurse. "Medications are late (and patients have to stay longer). We don't like to say it, but it happens."
Clark's system only counts "bodies," Desmond said, not the person's qualifications. Even if there's plenty of staff on a floor, RNs are the only ones able to perform certain procedures, like administer intravenous medication and start orders from a physician. They also have to oversee others' work.
"It looks on paper that we have enough nurses, but it puts a lot of stress on medical and surgical RNs," Desmond said.
In a small hospital like Wilcox, "it's a domino effect," said Tracy Okamura, an operating room nurse. When RNs are busy, it makes licensed practical nurses pick up the slack and keeps patients from getting immediate service on occasion.
They want a system that not only takes into account patients and their care needs, but also the skill level of the staff.
Meanwhile, the nurses say the acrimony between the administration and the union has grown to where they can't trust their bosses.
"Last contract, we were assured of a (new) system," Desmond said. "Three years later, we're in the same place."
Richard Stevens said he was apprehensive to come to work Thursday after being threatened by his boss. He said his supervisor told him to clear out his locker and hand over his badge or the police would be called and they would be arrested.
Management also decided to stop paying for medical benefits for the striking workers.
"They've pulled some really sly tactics," said Donna Gange, an operating room nurse and single mother with four kids. "We were willing to negotiate all the time, but they walked out, a-huffing and a-puffing."
Clark disagreed that the administration is playing hardball, and said no one has walked out on any meeting. The federal mediator scheduled the meetings, she said.
"We treat our nurses with dignity and respect, and that hasn't changed," Clark added.
As for patient care, Clark said there have been three systems for patient care in the past five years. And, despite the fact the nurses agreed to the last system, they changed their mind once contract negotiations began.
"Our (current) system is based off Straub" plus two others, Clark said, adding that the system was put together with members of the nursing union.
"We had a tentative agreement that we would bring in experts" to discuss a new system, she continued.
Desmond countered that they've heard the promises before and won't come back until there's a real system in place.
It comes down to parity.
The administration is willing to pay nurses at Wilcox the same as the other three Hawaii Pacific Health institutions on Oahu, but want the some of same rules that apply to nurses over there as well, including the on-call rules.
But nurses on Kauai say Wilcox is from the Oahu hospitals. They're specialized and have a lot more nurses, while Wilcox takes care of cancer and surgery patients, the elderly, emergency trauma and just about everything else that can happen to a person on Kauai.
The 2006 Mid-Atlantic Radical Bookfair & Infoshop gathering
The Bookfair brings together radical and independent publishers, distributors, bookstores, and authors for a weekend of workshops, panel discussions, and performances engaging with a variety of topics from radical approaches to social services, to anti-war activism, to political art and aesthetics. !. From Lawrence, KS will be leaving on June 28th and getting back on the 3rd. It will cost $50-75 depending on how many people go.. Scritch@riseup.net
Thanks for the info Christine.
For further information, go to http://redemmas.org/bookfair/2006