The Roundup for July 31st, 2015

Enjoy your day folks.

International Politics

Overall

– Journalist Patrick Cockburn joins The Real News to talk about Turkey’s role in the West’s fight against the Islamic State and the potential of it to jeopardize the situation

– The Pentagon denied allegations that U.S.-trained rebels were captured in Syria

– Private military contractors are the ones in charge of the U.S. military’s drones

Middle East

– At a gay pride rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed six people before being arrested

– Israel passed a law allowing the force-feeding of Palestinians prisoners

– The PKK is prepared to fight against Turkey as the writing on the wall is clear (more…)

Over Easy: New Beginnings

Avebury stone circle
Avebury stone circle

Hello, am looking forward to Shadowproof, and will happily begin with a Friday Over Easy for that new presence.   As you know, I am usually previewing today what will be the Art and Archaeology feature Saturday,  and as you see above, this is about Avebury, England’s, stone circle.   It is a fascinating place to visit, a community that evolved in an inexplicable monument, the circle of strategically placed but puzzling huge stones.

Saudi Arabia Weaponizes Humanitarian Aid In Yemen

File: Beneficiary of Oxfam's cash distribution programme waiting to receive identity cards by Oxfam staff in Al Hodeidah governorate, district of Alma-Aselah, Yemen in March 2012. The project is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). (Flickr / Oxfam)

Originally published at MintPress News.

SANAA, Yemen — Five months have passed since Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen, and for all its might, political resolve and military arsenal, the kingdom has yet to bring the poorest nation on the Arabian Peninsula to heel.

Its institutions in tatters, its military apparatus reduced to rubbles, and with no economy to speak of, Yemen’s imminent collapse has been foretold time and time again by experts and state officials. Yet these predictions have not quite come to fruition.

In its match against Goliath, David is resisting. In rallies, demonstrations and even an open letter signed by 18 Yemen scholars and experts living in the United States and Britain, tens of thousands of Yemenis and others around the world have decried Riyadh’s actions, calling for an end to all violence.

Yet this dedication to opposing Riyadh’s actions doesn’t mean Yemenis aren’t suffering. The World Health Organization issued a statement in June, warning that a “major health crisis is unfolding in Yemen, where hospitals have been destroyed, health workers killed and critical shortages of food, medical supplies and fuel are causing large-scale suffering.”

In early July, the United Nations declared the situation in Yemen to be the highest level of humanitarian emergency. According to a U.N. report published July 7, over 1,500 civilians have been killed, 3,600 have been injured, and over a million have been displaced in the ongoing conflict.

By U.N. estimates, about 80 percent of all Yemenis — more than 20 million people — are in need of humanitarian aid.

In late March, Amnesty International confirmed the deaths of at least six children under the age of 10 during a Saudi-led air raid that killed 25 people. The report read: “The organization spoke to medical personnel at four different hospitals where the dead were taken after being pulled from the rubble of 14 houses that were hit in a residential neighbourhood near the city’s international airport.”

Already the poorest and most vulnerable population in the Peninsula and arguably the Greater Middle East, Yemenis have seen their livelihoods and freedom of movement disintegrate under Saudi Arabia’s war momentum. In late April, Saudi Arabia bombed Sanaa International Airport, effectively trapping civilians within Yemen’s borders.

Despite mounting evidence of abuses and war crimes, it would take the international rights community several months to stand up to the oil giant. On July 27, Human Rights Watch unequivocally slammed Saudi Arabia for a litany of human rights violations. The report reads:

“Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed at least 65 civilians, including 10 children, and wounded dozens in the Yemeni port city of Mokha on July 24, 2015, are an apparent war crime. Starting between 9:30 and 10 p.m., coalition airplanes repeatedly struck two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their family members.”

With fierce battles raging across Yemen, and as warplanes continue to rain lead onto heavily populated areas, Saudi Arabia has been looking for innovative ways to exert pressure onto the resistance movement. It is now withholding humanitarian aid to Yemen’s civilians to tame the growing insurrection movement against its rule and thus secure victory in the face of international law — all under the guise of the United Nations.

The kingdom is holding hostage not just Yemen but to some extent the international community, using the United Nations’ humanitarian institutions to wage war. It’s using institutions meant to offer relief as a means of weaponizing aid.

Hassan Jayache, a senior leader of the Houthi movement, which took control of Yemen earlier this year, told MintPress News that local NGOs have found themselves caught in a political web, forced to surrender their neutrality to secure not just funding but access to areas where aid is needed.

“The Saudis have exerted political pressures onto local NGOs and international aid organizations, demanding that aid be restricted to pre-approved segments of the population, based on political affiliations and according to religious criteria,” Jayache said.

“In other words, Al Saud has decided to starve the Shias of Yemen, hoping to break the Houthis’ momentum.”

 

Survivors explore bombed out rubble in Yemen. (Flickr / Coolloud)
Survivors explore bombed out rubble in Yemen. (Flickr / Coolloud)

Turning aid agencies into weapons of war

Mohammed Al-Emad, a Yemen-based journalist and political commentator, says Saudi Arabia called on several media organizations in the Middle East, the United States and Europe, demanding that “coverage on Yemen be sanitized and in keeping with Riyadh’s chosen political narrative.”

(more…)

The Roundup for July 30th, 2015

Some smooth Latin sounds for the morning.

International Politics

Overall

– Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, joins The Real News to question U.S. intentions when partnering with Turkey against the Islamic State

– President Barack Obama’s tour throughout Africa was just a shaming tour 

– Lee Fang: “Turkey’s Political Influence Felt as Washington Turns Its Back on Kurds Fighting ISIS

Middle East

– Dave Zirin: “An Open Letter to the NBA Players Traveling to Israel

– Even the United Nations believes it is too soon to have peace talks in Syria

Asia and Oceania

– Afghanistan said Mullah Oman, the head of the Taliban, died two years ago in a Pakistani hospital

– A Japanese official warned China’s use of artificial islands for military purposes will make the South China Sea under Chinese control<!–more–>

Europe 

– John Kiriakou, CIA whistleblower, writes on the state of Greece after implementation of austerity

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

– While palm oil may be good for Guatemala’s economy, it is not for the rest of the population

– Greg Grandin: “Leopoldo López Is Not Venezuela’s Savior“; Hear, hear

Financial Matters

– Pew: Sixty-seven percent of Millennials live independently, which is down from 71 percent in 2007

– Economist Stephanie Blankenburg joins The Real News to talk about financial speculation, debt and the role of nations; Come to think of it, such a topic is very under-reported in the media

– Foreign investors are rubbing their hands in glee once sanctions against Iran are lifted as they can enter the private equity market

– Saudi Arabia holds more weight in influencing global oil prices than the U.S. would admit if the oil export ban is lifted; I guess…

Labor’s a-Brewing

– Because of the 2007-08 Great Recession, more Americans are entering into the exploitative “Underground Economy”

– Michelle Chen: “New Trade Deal Could Undermine Migrant Labor Rights“; She means TISA

– Good news for workers in Chicago as a court ruled pension cuts for such city workers are unconstitutional

– Workers at JFK and LaGuardia Airport can vote to be a part of a union after threatening to go on strike

Politics US

Washington USA

– Pew: Forty-eight percent of Americans favor the Supreme Court, which 43 percent do not; Surprising figures

– The FBI announced it would be a part of the investigation on the death of Sandra Bland

– Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “Congress’ fix for high-profile hacks is yet another way to grab your private data

– The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is slowing down and, once primary season ends, it’ll lose to Hillary Clinton

– Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Penn., was charged in a case pertaining to political corruption, which he denied he ever engaged in it

– A report for the Department of Homeland Security warned kicking off extremists on Twitter may lead them to become lone wolf

– Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wondered why Americans were not rioting in the street over the high government debt

Anytown USA

– Melissa Gira Grant: “Young, Black, Trans, Arrested: How Women Like Meagan Taylor Are Made Invisible

– Sure, it is good to see the gay community get victories. Although, the same effort to get those victories must happen for the trans community

– Journalist Rosa Clemente joins The Real News to talk about the Movement for Black Lives conference in Cleveland, which she attended

– Sandra Bland suffered from such a common problem faced by blacks in the U.S.: Driving while black

– Los Angeles needs an civilian oversight board to check the police in regards to brutality; It’s needed nation-wide

– Natasha Lennard: “Why focusing on suicide in the deaths of Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman misses the point

– Sam Dubose was killed by a police office in Ciccinnati, although video from the body camera the latter used cannot be released. Regardless, the officer was indicted for murder

– According to federal officials, there is a sex trafficking epidemic in the U.S. with Americans children involved

We Don’t Need No Education

– What does the state of Georgia do with children with behavioral issues? Segregate them from their peers and place them in below-adequate schools used decades ago for black children under Jim Crow

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– South Korea announced the “de facto end” to the MERS virus

The Second Sex

– Professor Kimberle Crenshaw joins The Real News to explain why black women also matter with the Black Lives Matter movement

– Republicans in Congress want to remind you they will fight to defund Planned Parenthood because it is definitely the most important issues of all time

– Rolling Stone, along with others, was sued by three former University of Virginia students for last year’s article about a rape

– Mexico sent a “gender alert” because of the high attacks and murders of women within a Mexican state

Planet Earth

– By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion people on this planet

A new report finds coal is not helpful for humanity as it brings a lot of problems in spite of what politicians say

– Hillary Clinton said she was “skeptical” about drilling in the Arctic

– Activists in Portland are dangling from a bridge to stop a Shell vessel from going to the Arctic

– Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but fossil fuel interests still hold sway in stopping divestment

– Earlier this week, major companies pledged billions to stop climate change. Although, it was done for show

Mixed Bag

– Gallup: Sixty-four percent of Americans drink one or more cups of coffee per day

– Alec Baldwin, who wrote in The Nation’s 150th anniversary issue to praise them, said he would “love” to see Donald Trump become president; Liberalism shows its true form

– Gallup: More than 55 percent of Americans exercise for 30+ minutes per day at least three days a week

– Actually, rabbits do not really breed like rabbits in spite of the myth

Break Time

Minha Galera [Manu Chao]

After Firedoglake

As many of you know, Firedoglake has been on hiatus for eight months while I recovered from hip replacement surgery. During that time I’ve been contemplating what the next chapter should be for the website. After some personal reflection, I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL.

Kevin, who has continued to publish to FDL during hiatus, will be the organization’s Managing Editor. You might know him from the work he has done covering Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, and other whistleblower cases. His Dissenter column was an enormous success at FDL, and he will continue to publish the column at Shadowproof.

Brian has spent the last year developing his own website, Prison Protest, which has focused on incarceration and prisoners’ rights. He worked for FDL for nearly six years. During his time at FDL, he was responsible for directing advocacy campaigns, including the Occupy Supply fund, the Just Say Now campaign to legalize marijuana, and various efforts in support of whistleblowers like Manning and Kiriakou. At Shadowproof, he will publish a column on prisons and criminal justice and also be the site’s Publishing Editor.

Kevin and Brian will be joined by fellow FDL veteran Dan S. Wright, who will publish a column called The Bullpen focusing on the super-rich and the influence of money in politics. Our old friend Kit O’Connell will be their social media manager, editor and a contributor, with a focus on community engagement.

I’m very happy that the nearly two hundred thousand posts published to FDL over the past ten years will be archived on the Shadowproof website. No person who has contributed posts to FDL need worry that their work will be lost.

The dogs and I have really loved being a part of the FDL community for over a decade, and are so very thankful for all of the great friends we’ve made and the experiences we have had. But we feel it’s time to hand over the helm to new, young energetic voices like Kevin, Brian, Dan and Kit. Moreover, it’s the right time in their careers when they should be stepping into leadership positions. I am so proud of all of the work they’ve done, and look forward to watching their growth as they lead their own organization.

I want to thank everyone over the years who has helped to make FDL a huge success. I urge those who have supported FDL to support Shadowproof, because it’s going to be amazing.

Over Easy: Around the World

Kensington Palace Orangery serves easy eggs, you see
Kensington Palace Orangery serves easy eggs, you see

(Picture courtesy of Herry Lawford at flickr.com.)

Welcome to Thursday’s Over Easy, a continuation of Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner and its tradition of giving an overview of news our everyday media doesn’t cover, issues that we ought to consider outside the U.S. scene.   Now, I am back from that world and view, and glad of it though there are things I miss.  It’s been really hard to get back onto schedule for me, hope you are all patient with me.

The UAE announced that fuel subsidies will be cut, which will bring regular fuel to 24% more in cost than it has shown for drivers there.   The move is meant to encourage drivers to cut back on their profligacy in use of petroleum products and pollution.

“It’s not a huge increase,” said Mashfique Chowdhury, the editor of UAE-based motoring site DriveArabia. “People who can afford gas guzzling cars should still be able to afford them. It might hit the low-income groups more if commuting costs double.

Mohamed Noweir, the managing director of UAE car classifieds site Carmudi, said that the higher prices could spur on sales and availability of hybrid vehicles – currently a rarity in the Gulf.

“Who knows, maybe we’ll see hybrids picking up in the UAE. There could be a chance for you to see as many Teslas in Dubai than you see in California,” added Noweir, referring to the all-electric sports cars produced by the upstart U.S. automaker.

Always good to have an appearance by former Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, who resigned after describing the imprisonment and maltreatment of Bradley Manning – for releasing information about U.S. surveillance – as ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.

As journalists quizzed US state department spokesman John Kirby earlier this week about the fight against the so-called Islamic State, one simply asked, “Who is shooting at whom?”

It is actually a good question and a major problem as the United States tries to convert significant tactical effort on multiple fronts into a workable long-term strategy. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the US-led international effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, just how effective the coalition has been remains unclear.

(snip)

As a practical matter, while the US has established a training programme for the moderate opposition, the graduation rate has been so modest that it is likely to be months if not years before those forces can make a difference.

Sadly, there is probably time. If the analogy of the Thirty Years War is accurate, this complex Middle East conflict is far from over.

 

Never.Give.Up.

As Elites Aim To Finalize Secret ‘Profit Over People’ Trade Deal, An Alarm Sounds

Photo courtesy of Stop The TPP-Hawaii (March 14, 2015 Waikoloa Marriott)

Trade ministers will be met in Maui with a colorful demonstration against secret corporate agreement

By Sarah Lazare

As trade ministers gather for negotiations at a luxury resort in Hawai’i on Wednesday to finalize the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, hundreds of people are planning to stage protests, hold performances, and raise a sacred “call to attention” to send the message that attempts by the global elite to put “profit over people” are not welcome and will not be tolerated.

“The TPP is a threat to our sovereignty as Native Hawaiians, and as human beings,” said Kaleikoa Ka’eo, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai’i, in a press statement. “This secret trade agreement would allow corporations to control decisions about how we live without any accountability to us, the people of this land.”

Under the banner “Stop TPP by Land and by Sea,” protesters from organizations including Kāko’o Haleakalā, AiKea, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, Public Citizen, and Sierra Club will gather on the Kā’anapali Beach on the island of Maui to voice their opposition to the deal, which has been broadly criticized by social movements and civil societies across the globe.

In the early evening, the protest will culminate in an attempt to break the global record for the “largest number of conch shell (pū) blown at one time,” according to a press statement.

“We chose the pū for this demonstration because in ancient times the sound of the pū was a call to attention; a kahea (call) to recognize something important is about to occur. Today is a call to attention, to join together against this attempt to put profits over people,” said organizer Trinette Furtado.

“This event calls attention to all struggles against entitled behavior across the globe. We send this kāhea of the pū out past this hotel and the secret TPP negotiations, and out into the ocean, through the mountains, around the world,” Furtado continued. “People are awakening, discovering their power. They are hungry to effect a positive change in the world.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and multinationals are moving rapidly to strengthen their strangleholds on the global economy. The White House is hoping that this week’s four-day meeting will clinch a final deal—just a month after President Barack Obama signed controversial Fast Track legislation into law.

The accelerated timeline can be attributed at least in part to the political climate in the United States.

Watchdog group Public Citizen said last week in a statement (pdf) that the White House is “desperate” to announce a final accord: “Unless the Obama administration can not only announce a final [TPP] deal by the start of August, but also by then complete a TPP text and give notice to Congress of intent to sign it, a U.S. congressional vote on TPP almost certainly will be pushed into the politically perilous 2016 presidential election year.”

Opponents of the deal say that now is a critical time to mobilize against what they call an unjust and far-reaching corporate giveaway.

The mammoth pact has been negotiated in secret since at least 2008 and includes the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries together represent 40 percent of the world’s GDP, making this the largest trade deal yet.

Its many controversial provisions, revealed almost entirely through leaks, include “investor-state dispute settlement” systems (ISDS), popularly known as corporate tribunals, which would create a parallel legal avenue for corporations to sue governments for loss of “expected future profit,” with the power to overrule national protections of environmental and human rights.

Analysts and campaigners have also warned the deal poses a threat to workers’ rights, protections against human trafficking, and basic privacy.

Humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders declared last week that the TPP is poised to be the “most damaging trade agreement ever for global health.” If approved, the accord would “strengthen, lengthen and create new patent and regulatory monopolies for pharmaceutical products that will raise the price of medicines and reduce the availability of price-lowering generic competition,” the group warned.

Public Citizen said of the talks in Maui: “Whether or not any real deal is made, a ‘breakthrough’ likely will be announced. But for whom would it be a breakthrough?”

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Ohio grand jury indicts university police officer for murder

The New York Times is reporting,

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month.

In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper.

According to the officer’s video above, which was recorded by the officer’s body cam, Tensing stopped DuBose because he was driving a vehicle without a front license plate, which is a traffic violation. The initial observation and the stop took place off campus. Although University of Cincinnati police officers have authority to stop and cite people off campus for traffic violations, they rarely do so. The county prosecutor, Joe Deters, characterized the stop as “what we call in the vernacular a pretty chicken-crap stop.” In my opinion, this is also an apt description of Texas State Trooper Brian Encina’s stop of Sandra Bland on July 10th for failing to signal a lane change.

When Samuel DuBose was unable to produce a driver’s license, Officer Tensing started opening the driver’s side door and ordered him to get out of the car. Instead of complying, Sam DuBose pulled the door shut and attempted to drive away. Tensing drew his gun and shot him in the head at point-blank range killing him.

This is similar to what happened in North Charleston, South Carolina last April when Patrolman Michael Slager, who is white, shot Walter Scott, who is black, four times in the back killing him as Scott attempted to run away after a traffic stop.

Another similarity is both officers lied about the incident. For example, Tensing told police that he struggled with DuBose. The video disproves that.

The legal rule in both cases is the same: A police officer may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless he reasonably believes the suspect is armed and presents a danger to the officer or to the public. Patrolman Slager and now Officer Tensing have been indicted for murder because the people they killed were not armed and there was no reason to believe they were dangerous to others.

Mr. DuBose was 43-years-old. He was the father of 10 children.

Officer Tensing was 25-years-old. He had been a police officer for four years. He was fired today by the campus police.

He turned himself in.