Olive Morris: Forgotten activist hero By Lizzie Cocker

29 October, 2009 — The Morning Star Online

Introducing an inspirational civil rights campaigner whose life and work offer important lessons for the left

In an age when xenophobia and Islamophobia are being stoked by illegal wars and immigration myths, the need to wrench hidden realities from history in order to see today’s truths has never been more urgent.

And thanks to the Remembering Olive Collective (ROC) founded by artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre in 2007, a bit of this history became available to the public last week at the Lambeth Archives in Brixton, south London.

Olive Morris, despite her awe-inspiring short life, remains virtually unknown. And she is one of the greatest unsung heroes I have ever come across.

My encounter with Morris began when a friend switched on my radar for forgotten female protagonists. He mentioned a local project he was doing on four practically unheard-of women activists who left in their wake cultural, social and political improvements which are enjoyed not just in London but in some instances internationally.

Three of these women were black.

With my radar on standby, I stumbled across a website which asked me if I “remember Olive Morris?” above a picture of a young black woman smiling with her shades on behind a megaphone.

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Ashley Smith, “A War of Terror in Pakistan: Interview with Saadia Toor”

27 October, 2009 — MRZine – Monthly Review

Saadia Toor is an assistant professor at Staten Island College, author of a forthcoming book on Pakistan from Pluto Press, and part of the group Action for a Progressive Pakistan.

The Pakistani Army has launched a major offensive against Taliban forces in the province of Waziristan. What is behind this assault, and what impact will it have on the people there?

The Army had been warning ever since it attacked in Swat earlier this year that its next move would be in South Waziristan. This area is incredibly undeveloped and has become a stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP), which had been led by Baitullah Mehsud until he was killed in drone attack conducted by the U.S. earlier this year

In the run-up to this assault, there was a series of attacks and suicide attacks on state facilities across Pakistan as a warning to the Army to back off from the incursion. The TTP took responsibility for most of these.

However, under a lot of pressure from the U.S., and with full U.S. military support, the Pakistani Army has unleashed its terror in South Waziristan.

Just as we witnessed in Swat, the Army is causing another humanitarian catastrophe. It has already driven 150,000 people from the area, and experts estimate that at least 250,000 people — over half the population — will be forced to flee from the fighting. The government has stated that it is not going to make any arrangements to accommodate the refugees, because they supposedly all have families they can stay with!

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US drone strikes may break international law: UN official

27 October, 2009 United Nations (AFP) — Spacewar.com

US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN’s top investigator of such crimes said Tuesday.

‘The problem with the United States is that it is making an increased use of drones/Predators (which are) particularly prominently used now in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan,’ UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston told a press conference.

‘My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law,’ he said.

US strikes with remote-controlled aircraft against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan have often resulted in civilian deaths and drawn bitter criticism from local populations.

‘The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren’t in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons,’ he added.

Alston said he presented a report on the matter to the UN General Assembly.

He urged the United States to be more forthright about how and when it uses drone aircraft, something about which the US Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually keep silent.

‘We need the United States to be more up front and say, ‘OK, we’re willing to discuss some aspects of this program,’ otherwise you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws,’ Alston said.

Since August 2008, around 70 strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed close to 600 people in northwestern Pakistan.

‘I would like to know the legal basis upon which the United States is operating, in other words… who is running the program, what accountability mechanisms are in place in relation to that,’ Alston said.

‘Secondly, what precautions the United States is taking to ensure that these weapons are used strictly for purposes consistent with international humanitarian law.

‘Third, what sort of review mechanism is there to evaluate when these weapons have been used? Those are the issues I’d like to see addressed,’ the UN official said.”

War Is a Hate Crime By Chris Hedges

26 October, 2009 — truthdig

Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week, was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon’s budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents.

It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game. Continue reading

Student Palestine Solidarity Campaign Conference London 31 October, 2009

28 October, 2009

Saturday 31st October 2009, 10.30am – 5.30pm, University of London Union

JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE – FREE GAZA!

Join our high-profile speakers, including:

* George Galloway MP
* Mona Al-Gharbawi, Teaching assistant, Islamic University of Gaza and lived through war and siege on Gaza
* Message from Professor Mohammed A. Asqule, Education Minister in Gaza
* Betty Hunter, General Secretary PSC
* Hugh Lanning, Deputy General Secretary of PCS Union
* Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students’ Office
* Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina
* Live link with students under siege in Gaza
* Hannah Syed, Action Palestine
* Dan Judelson, Chair Jews For Justice for Palestine
* Prof Haim Bresheeth, Chair of Media Studies, UEL
* Khaled Almudallal, Chair Let Palestinians Study
* Sumaya Almari, FOSIS
* Eye witnesses from Gaza
* And many more…

Israel’s brutal and indiscriminate massacre on Gaza earlier this year outraged an entire generation. Prompting a massive surge in student activism, including a wave of university occupations – we demanded action to support Palestinian students, whose education had been decimated by Israel’s aggression.

As the inhumane blockade on Gaza intensifies depriving Palestinians of the most basic human rights, and as Israel continues to flout international law with the construction of more settlements, displacing many Palestinian families from their homes, our continuing solidarity has never been more urgent.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Student Conference will be a brilliant opportunity for students from across the country to meet and discuss what can be done to support peace and justice for Palestine.

Themes include:
* Peace and justice for Palestine
* Viva Palestina – Lift the siege of Gaza
* Disband the settlements and the apartheid wall
* Education under occupation
* Leading BDS campaigns
* Building student solidarity with Palestine

To register and secure your place please email students@palestinecampaign.org with your name, University/college and phone number.

Join the event on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid164990545931&ref=ts

Saturday 31st October 2009, 10.30am – 5.30pm
University of London Union, Malet Street, Central London
Nearest tubes are Euston and Russell Square

A History of Failed Press Coverage of Afghanistan By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, Nieman Watchdog

28 October, 2009 — Media Channel 2.0

afghan-fighters.jpg
Afghan fighters at a camp in Pakistan in 1980,
not long after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. (AP photo)

For decades, the American news media by and large have been simplistic and misleading in reporting U.S. relations toward Afghanistan, write Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould. From 1981 on, they say, the press has kept vital information away from the American people.

For almost 30 years – ever since we got a close-in view of it – American press coverage of Afghanistan has been simplistic, misleading, unexamining, accepting and echoing government propaganda, and just plain wrong. There have been exceptions…but not many.

Beginning in 1981, we have experienced a process that has kept vital information away from the American people.

Following the expulsion of 1,135 western journalists one month after the Soviet invasion in 1979, we were the first to gain access to Afghanistan through diplomatic channels at the United Nations. Contracted to CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, our opportunity to see inside a Soviet-occupied Afghanistan revealed a complex story, and the footage we returned with didn’t conform to an evil empire image that, in our judgment, CBS reporting had been nurturing. Four weeks after our return, a story about our trip was aired, cross-cut with Soviet propaganda – that is, footage done by the Soviets – that in no way represented our experience. But as an anti-Soviet piece, it was masterful.

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NATO vs CSTO: The Fogh of war By Eric Walberg

28 October, 2009

‘Regional’ defence organisations are very much in transition, notes Eric Walberg

NATO’s reputation as the guardian of peace on Earth is in tatters these days. Once avowedly an alliance of North America and Western Europe to fight the communist hordes of Eurasia, it morphed into something quite difference with the collapse of the socialist bloc two decades ago. It now pretends to unite all of Europe to fight the Muslim hordes wherever they be found and, of course the Russians, just for good measure.

To do this, it expanded rapidly in the past decade, and now has a Partnership for Peace with ex-Soviet hopefuls. It also has a Mediterranean Dialogue with Western-oriented Muslim states and Israel (of them, Morocco and Israel are further blessed as “major non-NATO allies”) and the GCC+2 — the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt and Jordan. GCC+2 has been optimistically dubbed the “NATO of the Middle East” in Western media, but then once-upon-a-time so was the ill-fated Baghdad Pact, originally called the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO). The real “NATO of the Middle East ” is of course US+1.

Whatever the US/NATO schemes and their pretexts, the results in recent years have been less than impressive. The communist hordes were soon replaced by the Russian and/or Muslim ones, and, despite the Mediterranean Dialogue and the GCC+2, the Muslim ones are multipying daily. Even NATOphiles realise something is amiss. The newly appointed secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was so eager to transform the organisation he gave up his job as prime minister of Denmark, making him the highest ranking politician to take over NATO. “I want to modernise, transform and reform so that NATO adapts to the security environment of the 21st century.”

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The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Pt3

28 October, 2009 — The Real News Network

Lawrence Wilkerson: Will the empire end with good leadership or blood?

This talk by Larry Wilkerson was the keynote speech given at an event sponsored by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, American University History Department, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute on Oct 21,2009 at American University in Washington DC.

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Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence describes itself as “a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power”.


It’s official, they not only forgot, they don’t give a damn By William Bowles

28 October, 2009

lest-we-forgetThe report on the explosion that blew an RAF Nimrod out of the sky over Helmand Province on 2 September, 2006 in which fourteen people died, was released today and it confirms my view of British military ‘adventures’ that I expressed in ‘Lest we forget?’. The report even names names of extremely high ranking officers as being directly culpable for their deaths.

But chief amongst the ‘shortcomings’ as the BBC describes them, is:

“A safety culture that has allowed “business” to eclipse airworthiness”

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Nuke Gaza By Jeff Gates

27 October, 2009 — Palestine Think Tank

avigdor.jpgIsraeli officials are right to worry. Gazans too. Yet Americans should worry even more.

Israel’s “legitimacy” will not last. Of course, that assumes its legitimacy was deserved. That issue also is now called into question in light of the consistency of Israeli behavior over the past six decades. The emerging issues are these:

When and how will the recognition of Israel’s nation-state status be withdrawn? How will Tel Aviv behave in the interim?

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman may have tipped his Masada hand when he reportedly told Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that Israel may use nuclear weapons against Gaza. The threat to Israel is not the 1.5 million Gazans who reside in the world’s largest open-air prison.

The threat is the fast-growing global outrage at the abuse inflicted on Palestinians, commencing with the ethnic cleansing of 400-plus villages six decades ago.

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Fahrenheit 2010: World Cup South Africa, 2010

For four action-packed weeks in June and July 2010, the largest international television audience to ever follow a single event will be watching the football World Cup in South Africa. As the clock ticks down, and the nations of the world anticipate the beautiful game’s showpiece, questions are being asked about what will happen after the trophy is lifted, the caravans move on, and the dogs stop barking…

Fahrenheit 2010 cuts through the hype, with an uncompromising examination of what the World Cup means for South Africans themselves – in particular, who actually stands to benefit from the diversion of millions of dollars to build 21st century sports arenas in a country in which, 15 years after throwing off apartheid’s yoke, millions live in shacks and have no access to water – a South Africa where life expectancy has plummeted beneath that in Ethiopia.

International heavyweights like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, construction workers, FIFA’s Communications Director, street traders, politicians, and sports celebrities wade into the debate. National pride, corruption and even murder feature in this astonishingly candid film which peels back the glossy media veneer to expose the real concerns of ordinary South Africans: hopes about jobs, the eviction of school children to make way for construction company offices, the removal of an inconvenient community, and what traditional medicine and the influence of the ancestors might mean for the local team…

Music video: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

Since first putting this up, I’ve immersed myself in this album so I’ve junked some of what I wrote earlier, but as I said I came across this album on my one and only Internet ‘radio’ station, Rootdownfm.com and was blown away by it. The main influences on Argue’s music are to my ear Gil Evans and Charles Mingus, but just when you think you have his music pinned down, Argue comes up with something else! He calls his music steampunk big band. Like Gil Evans he knows how to score the band’s voices, playing them off against each other, building complex tonal patterns and then the music will move into the emotionally charged groove of a Mingus big band score. And this band swings (well it is a New York band). Great trombone work which is the dominant solo instrument (check out the solo on ‘Habeas Corpus’). Beautiful stuff. Five stars from Creative-i.

Track 4 ‘Redeye’ off Infernal Machines (2009), an 18-piece band from New York directed by composer Darcy James Argue.

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Bring ALL British Troops Home By William Gladys

27 October, 2009

Will Prince Harry ever say sorry?

Democracy is still alive – well only just – in the British Isles.

Although Prince Harry failed to march with the Anti-War Majority on the streets of London recently, a fearless Peace Seeking Lance Corporal bravely hoisted a Flag of Peace to the mast for the entire world to see. To observe a serving soldier marching in opposition to the Queen’s foreign policy in the Middle-East was heartening to say the least. Perhaps after all there is still hope for this country? Like millions of voters in the British Isles the Lance Corporal is plainly sick to death of the relentless slaughter and body and mind maiming of hundreds of British soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of blameless Muslims: men, women, children and babies.

The rhetoric that “Monarchical Britain has sent its troops to occupy the Middle East to safeguard the people of Britain” will not wash anymore. It is hypocrisy and poppycock of the very worse kind, and one reason why millions of us want ALL military personnel returned to the British homeland, and not only a highly privileged and pampered Prince Harry, who stated not verbatim, that “he would loyally stay with his men”. This was established when we witnessed this trigger joyful royal on camera disgracefully unleashing killing rounds from his heavy machine gun in the direction of Muslims who were valiantly resisting occupation of THEIR homeland. As we in Britain no doubt would also valiantly resist “with our backs against the White Cliffs of Dover” if need be any foreign troops endeavouring to invade OUR Homeland and intervene in our affairs, our Sovereignty.

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Pranksters Fixing the World By Mark Engler

21 October, 2009 — Foreign Policy In Focus

yesmen2.jpgOver the past 10 years, the Yes Men have emerged as an infamously daring and creative duo of anti-corporate pranksters. In their new movie, The Yes Men Fix the World, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (known in their non-activist lives as Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos) explain their methodology: ‘What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like,’ they say. ‘We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences.’

When they are invited, the Yes Men pose as spokespeople for companies such as Halliburton and Exxon, or bodies such as the World Trade Organization, and they give presentations that highlight the logic of corporate greed.

In one instance, on the 20th anniversary of the notorious chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, Bichlbaum appeared on the BBC as a representative of Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 calamity. He announced a $12 billion plan to provide medical care to the 120,000 victims of the disaster and to fully remediate the factory site. The company’s market value dropped $2 billion in 23 minutes before the hoax was discovered and Dow rushed to explain that it was still refusing to meet the victims’ demands for justice.

The Yes Men Fix the World opened in New York City on October 7 and begins showing in cities around the country on October 23. Shortly after the start of the New York run, the perpetually mischievous Bichlbaum spoke with Foreign Policy In Focus senior analyst Mark Engler.

MARK ENGLER: How have you felt about the reception of the film so far?

ANDY BICHLBAUM: Great. People have loved it. They’ve taken to the streets. Every day last week, they left the theater and stormed to a nearby destination. [Laughs.]

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The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Pt2

27 October, 2009 — The Real News Network

Wilkerson: From US debt to the geopolitics of oil, the US empire will come to an end

Bio
Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled “National Security Decision Making.”

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Obama: Manufacturing A Savior A Case Study In Social Engineering – Fabricating Myths, Mantras, Consent and Dissent, for Imperial Mobilization By Zahir Ebrahim

27 October, 2009 — Atlantic Free Press

Edward L. Bernays began his seminal 1928 book, egregiously titled ‘PROPAGANDA’, with these revealing words in the very first chapter ‘ORGANIZING CHAOS’:

‘THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

‘We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.’

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Insanity and the Nobel Peace Prize: Obama and the Rule of Law By Felicity Arbuthnot

27 October, 2009 — Global Research

‘The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.’ — Edmund Burke, 1729-1797.

‘Oh God! That men should put an enemy in their mouths and steal away their brains.’ — Othello, William Shakespeare, 1546-1616.

Ten months of an Obama Administration seems an eternity away from the hope he had inspired in so many.

‘Let’s seek a better world in our time’, said Obama, as he travelled Abraham Lincoln’s path to the January 20th inauguration – coincidentally paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (5th March 1946) where he was introduced by President McClure.

As the President-to-be headed for Washington, to swear the oath on a bible used by Lincoln, did he ponder on Lincoln’s: ‘With malice toward none; with charity for all’?

In the inaugural address Barack Hussein Obama vowed: ‘To the Muslim world, we seek a way forward, based on mutual respect.’ The following day, he stated: ‘Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstone of this Presidency.’ On 24th January, the (London) Independent opined: ‘With a stroke of the pen, Mr. Obama halted his predecessors … policy to (bend) the U.S. Constitution and international legal obligations under the Geneva Conventions.’

Eight days in, he told Al-Arabiya: ‘My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that Americans are not your enemy’ (as he prepared to send thousands more troops to cull humanity in the villages and valleys of Afghanistan.)

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