Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Can Police search Your Phone or Blackberry when you are arrested?
Mood:  quizzical
Now Playing: The Long Arm Of The Law ... wants your text messages and mobile files
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS

Hey all you most friendly and kind Z3 Readers check out this hot topic. And just a FYI ..... when flying and then going through customs, the (sic)homeland security can take your laptop and pour over it for days to see what ever they can about you, or what 'you" have on your computer..... read on and stand tall   

 http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10140373-38.html

Police Blotter is a regular CNET News report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Police claim they can legally copy data from the handheld devices of anyone who's arrested.

When: Two judges wrestle with concepts including privacy, the Fourth Amendment, and searches, and reach two different conclusions.

What happened, according to court records and other documents:
Handheld gadgets and laptops seem to know us better than our spouses do. They know whom we talk to, which Web sites we visit, whose e-mail we ignore, and with a little extra smarts, they could probably offer an educated guess about what we want for dinner.

To snatch these useful little devices from our homes, police need warrants. But if we happen to be arrested with gadgets in our pocket or purse, police say they have the right to peruse what could be gigabytes of data for potentially incriminating files or photographs.

The frightening scale of electronic searches has made this an important--and unresolved--privacy question. Two recent federal cases illustrate how judges remain deeply divided about whether to support police powers or defend Americans' privacy rights.

In May 2008, Chester Balmer, an officer with Georgia's Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, responded to a complaint of sexual activity in a silver pickup truck parked near an apartment complex. Balmer found a Dodge pickup truck with two people inside, obtained the driver's permission to look inside the truck, and allegedly spotted crack cocaine in the ashtray.

Balmer arrested the driver, Bernard McCray, and scrolled through the photos on McCray's mobile phone. He found images of what he believed to be a 14-year-old teenage girl in lewd poses, which led to McCray being charged with possession of child pornography. His lawyer objected to using the images as evidence, saying the warrantless search violated the Fourth Amendment.

U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield disagreed. Because papers, diaries, and traditional photographs can be examined during an arrest, Edenfield reasoned, a mobile phone can too.

The second case yielded a different result. It began with a Florida drug bust involving a man named Aaron Wall. A Drug Enforcement Administration informant offered to sell several kilograms of cocaine to Wall, who was arrested when he allegedly showed up at an exchange point with a bag full of cash.

Wall had two cell phones, which DEA agent Dave Mitchell examined during the booking process (but not during or immediately after the arrest). Mitchell found and took photographs of several text messages on the defendant's phones.

Mitchell would later offer justifications for his warrantless search: 1) he regularly performs mobile-phone searches because it's common to find evidence of crimes in text messages; 2) it's a standard DEA practice authorized by the DEA Legal Department, as long as the search is performed during the booking process; 3) he was concerned that the text messages might expire after a certain amount of time; and 4) the cell phone battery may die.

When the defense attorney objected to the search, U.S. District Judge William Zloch agreed. He said, essentially, that the DEA agent lied: "The court finds Agent Mitchell's statement that he searched the phone because of his concern that text messages might immanently expire is not credible...the true, and only, purpose of the search by Agent Mitchell was to find incriminating evidence."

Zloch ordered that the incriminating text messages be suppressed, which means that prosecutors can't use them in court proceedings.

These two cases capture the different ways to look at digital devices: are they like physical containers, which can be opened at will during arrests, or does their uniquely personal nature mean that a search warrant should be required? Few of us would have traveled with decades' worth of intimate personal diaries, but that's what modern gadgetry lets us do.

One of the better-known cases is the 5th Circuit's opinion (PDF) in January 2007, which sided with police. Police Blotter has covered other cases that took the pro-police view and the pro-privacy view.

It's worth pointing out that the second proceedings may have turned out differently, if the cops had searched Wall's mobile phone at the time of the arrest, rather than waiting until booking. Then again, this is no tremendous obstacle: if judges insist on that distinction, police can respond by doing a complete copy at the time of arrest. (Note that the state of Florida says "agents should continue to obtain search warrants for securing information from cell phones seized from arrested subject." That shows that a search warrant is no insurmountable hurdle.)

Excerpt from opinion of U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield on January 5, 2009, allowing the mobile-device search:
It is well settled that a search incident to a lawful arrest is a traditional exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Such searches are reasonable not only because of the need to disarm the arrestee of any weapons that might be used to resist arrest or effect his escape, but also because of the need "to search for and seize any evidence on the arrestee's person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction." (Unquestionably, when a person is lawfully arrested, the police have the right, without a search warrant, to make a contemporaneous search of the person of the accused for weapons or for the fruits of or implements used to commit the crime.)

As the Fifth Circuit held in Finley, "the permissible scope of a search incident to a lawful arrest extends to containers found on an arrestee's person." A cell phone, like a beeper, is an electronic "container," in that it stores information that may have great evidentiary value (and that might easily be destroyed or corrupted).

While such electronic storage devices are of more recent vintage than papers, diaries, or traditional photographs, the basic principle still applies: incident to a person's arrest, a mobile phone or beeper may be briefly inspected to see if it contains evidence relevant to the charge for which the defendant has been arrested.

Excerpt from opinion of U.S. District Judge William Zloch on December 22, not allowing the mobile-device search:
The search of the cell phone cannot be justified as a search incident to lawful arrest. First, Agent Mitchell accessed the text messages when Wall was being booked at the station house. Thus, it was not contemporaneous with the arrest. Also, the justification for this exception to the warrant requirement is the need for officer safety and to preserve evidence...The content of a text message on a cell phone presents no danger of physical harm to the arresting officers or others. Further, searching through information stored on a cell phone is analogous to a search of a sealed letter, which requires a warrant.

The Court further finds that the search of text messages does not constitute an inventory search. The purpose of an inventory search is to document all property in an arrested person's possession to protect property from theft and the police from lawsuits based on lost or stolen property.

This, of course, includes cell phones. However, there is no need to document the phone numbers, photos, text messages, or other data stored in the memory of a cell phone to properly inventory the person's possessions because the threat of theft concerns the cell phone itself, not the electronic information stored on it.

Surely the government cannot claim that a search of text messages on Wall's cell phones was necessary to inventory the property in his possession. Therefore, the search exceeded the scope of an inventory search and entered the territory of general rummaging.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:55 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2009 3:26 PM PST
Friday, 9 January 2009
Raining bullets, bombs, destruction on the land of Gaza on Jan 9 2009
Mood:  sad
Now Playing: The murder continues - Gaza is trapped and people are dieing
Topic: WAR

 


 

Z3 Readers here is the Jan 9 2009

update from the AP press http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28404637/Gaza aid held as U.N. truce plan rejected Shipments might resume soon after Israel offers assurancesThe Associated Pressupdated 10:37 a.m. PT, Fri., Jan. 9, 2009JERUSALEM — Israeli jets and helicopters bombarded Gaza Friday and Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets on at least two cities as both sides defied a U.N. call for an immediate cease-fire. The United Nations kept aid deliveries to Gaza on hold for a second day because of security concerns, but Palestinians who risked going to relief centers could still get food and medicine. Just over half the territory’s population of 1.4 million rely on the U.N. for food.U.N. officials said later they planned to resume the aid operations “as soon as practical,” based on assurances from the Israeli military that aid workers would be better protected. The U.N. halted deliveries Thursday after Israeli tank fire killed an aid truck driver and the Red Cross restricted its activities after one of its drivers was injured in a similar incident.The World Food Program and UNICEF stressed they were still operating in the Palestinian territory, where 1 million people were without electricity and 750,000 didn’t have without running water, according to the United Nations.On Friday, an Israeli airstrike killed two Hamas militants and another unidentified man, while another flattened a five-story building in northern Gaza, killing at least seven people, including an infant, Hamas officials said. Israeli aircraft struck more than 30 targets before dawn, and there were constant explosions after first light. By afternoon, 22 Palestinians had been killed, pushing the death toll to 776 and in the two-week-old conflict, according to Gaza health officials who say at least half of those killed were civilians. Thirteen Israelis have also been killed.A U.N. Security Council resolution approved Thursday night called urgently for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The United States, Israel's closest ally and a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, abstained. While the call is tantamount to a demand on the parties, Israel's troops won't be required to pull out of Gaza until there is a durable cease-fire. The resolution calls on U.N. member states to intensify efforts to provide guarantees in Gaza to sustain a lasting truce, including prevention of illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition. In Israel's first official response to the resolution, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said the Hamas rockets fired at Israel Friday "only prove that the U.N.'s decision is not practical and will not be kept in practice by the Palestinian murder organizations." A Hamas spokesman said the Islamic militant group "is not interested" in the cease-fire because it was not consulted and the resolution did not meet its minimum demands. Israel launched its assault on Dec. 27 in an attempt to halt years of rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled territory.Despite the devastating offensive, Hamas has kept up rocket attacks on southern Israel. The rockets fired Friday hit in and around two of the largest southern cities, Beersheba and Ashkelon. Cities within rocket range of Gaza have largely been paralyzed since the fighting began. The Security Council action came hours after a U.N. agency suspended food deliveries to Gaza, and the Red Cross accused Israel of blocking medical assistance after forces fired on aid workers. It also followed concerns of a wider conflict after militants in Lebanon fired rockets into northern Israel early Thursday, though the border has been quiet since. Possible war crimes?
In Geneva, the U.N.'s top human rights official called for an independent investigation of possible war crimes in Gaza and Israel.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the harm to civilians in Israel caused by Hamas rockets was unacceptable. But she said Israel must abide by international humanitarian law regardless of Hamas' actions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States "fully supports" the Security Council resolution but abstained "to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation" with Israel and Hamas, also aimed at achieving a cease-fire. Osama Hamdan, a Hamas envoy to Lebanon, told the al-Arabiya satellite channel that the group "is not interested in it because it does not meet the demands of the movement." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the U.N. failed to consider the interests of the Palestinian people. "This resolution doesn't mean that the war is over," he told the Al-Jazeera satellite television network. "We call on the Palestinian fighters to mobilize and be ready to face the offensive, and we urge the Arab masses to carry on with their angry protests." Israel's government says any cease-fire must guarantee an end to rocket fire and arms smuggling into Gaza. During a six-month cease-fire that ended with the current operation, Hamas is thought to have used tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border to smuggle in the medium-range rockets it is now using to hit deeper than ever inside Israel. Hamas has said it won't accept any agreement that does not include the full opening Gaza's blockaded border crossings. Israel is unlikely to agree to that demand, as it would allow Hamas to strengthen its hold on the territory which it violently seized in June 2007. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was heading to the Middle East on Friday in support of international attempts to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza. Spain said its foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, also planned to visit the region beginning Monday.With Israeli troops now in control of many of the open areas used by militants to launch rockets, gunman have continued shooting from inside populated neighborhoods. Heavy clashes were reported in the late afternoon northeast of Gaza City as Israeli troops advanced under the cover of Apache helicopters firing machine guns. Fares Alwan, 49, said he was eating with his family when their house came under fire. "I took my kids and wife and started running away for cover," Alwan said. "We saw wounded people in the street while we were running." The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza increasingly desperate for food, water, fuel and medical assistance, and the situation was expected to worsen as humanitarian efforts fall victim to the fighting. Foreigner killed
One of the dead Thursday was a Ukrainian woman, the first foreigner to die in the fighting, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain. He said the woman was married to a Palestinian doctor who trained in Ukraine and returned with her to Gaza. Her 2-year-old son also was killed in the tank shelling east of Gaza City, he said.
Details are emerging of other incidents in which civilians were killed. A U.N. agency said Israeli troops evacuated Palestinian civilians to a house in Gaza City on Jan. 4, then shelled the building 24 hours later, killing 30 people.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report was based on eyewitness testimony. It added details to an incident previously reported by The Associated Press and an Israeli human rights group.The U.N. agency said 110 people were in the house. The 30 people reported killed is a far higher figure than in other accounts. The Israeli military had no comment on the report Friday. Israeli police said a Palestinian man armed with an ax chased after people in the central Israeli town of Rehovot on Friday, slightly injuring at least one person. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police officers subdued the man and were questioning him.West Bank protests
The West Bank saw its biggest protests so far, as thousands took to the streets following Friday prayers to express their anger at the Israeli offensive.
Tens of thousands of people condemned Israel's offensive in protests in Alexandria, Egypt, the Jordanian capital of Amman and Baghdad. The Libyan state news agency reported that President Moammar Gadhafi has called on Arabs to allow volunteers to fight the Israelis in Gaza. The one-sentence call was posted on Libya's JANA news agency.

 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 1:28 PM PST
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
ISRAEL MURDERS KILLS PALISTINE PEOPLE FUCK YOU THEY SAY
Mood:  sad
Now Playing: "FUCK YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE" SO SAYS ISRAEL TO GAZA
Topic: WAR

humanitarian catastrophe

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine#history-byline

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

A wounded Palestinian policeman gestures while lying on the ground outside Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.

Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

 

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

• Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine#history-byline


Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:12 PM PST
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Gaza Under Attack - Civilian Deaths Increase
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: Israel moves deeper into Gaza an article by Dahr Jamail
Topic: WAR

 My friends and family

I recieved this post as an email ... I am re-posting it on my Zebra 3 Report

It was written by Dahr Jamail, and independent journalist and activist

Civilian deaths increase as

Israel moves deeper into Gaza

(Photo: Abid Katib / Getty Images Europe)

 

1/6/09



“Foreseen for so many years: these evils, this monstrous violence, these massive agonies: no easier to bear.”
-Robinson Jeffers, American poet


Agence France-Presse reports that the first person killed when the Israeli military began to enter Gaza on Saturday was a Palestinian child.

On Sunday, a Palestinian woman and her four children were blown to pieces when Israeli warplanes bombed their home. They are among the 521 victims (at the time of this writing) of the ongoing air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip by a 9,000 strong force, which the Israeli government has launched on one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of them under 17 years of age.

“The ground invasion was preceded by large scale artillery shelling from around 4 P.M., intended to ’soften’ the targets as artillery batteries deployed along the Strip in recent days began bombarding Hamas targets and open areas near the border,”
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper wrote of the onslaught. “Hundreds of shells were fired, including cluster bombs aimed at open areas.”

Israel began the military assault on Gaza on November 4, breaking the truce that Hamas had observed for many months. It went on to block food supplies to be delivered into Gaza by the UN Relief Works and World Food Program. The next casualty was the crucial fuel delivery service used to run Gaza’s power plant. Finally, Israel banned journalists and aid workers from entering Gaza.

It is important to note that in mid-December, during a visit to Israel, UN Human Rights Investigator Richard Falk called the Israeli blockade of Gaza “a crime against humanity” and a “flagrant and massive violation of international law.”

Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, urged the UN to invoke “the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity.” Falk also called for an International Criminal Court investigation of Israeli military and civilian officials for potential prosecution.

For this, he was detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for 20 hours before being expelled from Israel.

As Israeli tanks and ground troops pour into Gaza to engage in the worst kind of combat (should we even measure types of warfare against one another?), urban warfare, the atrocities on both sides continue, and one may assume that the situation will only worsen with time, as it inevitably does in progressive stages of war.

“Operation Cast Lead” as Israel’s latest offensive is named, has claimed, since December 27, over 520 Palestinian lives. Gaza medical officials put the number of wounded at over 2,400, most of them civilians.

Hamas rockets have killed five Israelis, one of them a soldier and four of them civilians. As with Israeli attacks that kill and wound Palestinian civilians are a war crime, Hamas firing their grossly inaccurate rockets into Israel, which then wound and kill Israeli civilians, is also a war crime.

According to KPFA radio correspondent Sameh Habeeb, “Around 17 people [from the Al-Atatra family] were killed in Bait Lahia town north of Gaza. Amongst them were several children, two brothers, 20-year-olds and many old men who were all killed by one rocket.” Habeeb also reports of Israeli war planes striking water plants, dozens of houses, the use of
white phosphorous incendiary weapons and of at least 15 mosques having been bombed. Dozens of people have been killed in the attacks against the mosques. Israeli Foreign Minister Ms. Tzipi Livni explains patiently, “But a war is a war; these things can happen. This is not our intention, but we cannot avoid completely any kind of civilian casualties. But the responsibility for this lies on Hamas’ shoulders.” The slaughter only compounds the hardships that Palestinians have suffered due to the severe shortages of food and medical supplies accruing from the two-year-old economic blockade imposed upon Gaza by Israel.

In 2006, Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said of the blockade: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

The UN has warned that there are “critical gaps” in aid reaching Gaza, despite claims from Livni that aid was getting through.

Christopher Gunness, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman, dismisses the claim that there is no humanitarian crisis as an absurdity. He informs us, “The organization for which I work, UNRWA - has approximately 9 to 10,000 workers on the ground. They are speaking with the ordinary civilians in Gaza … People are suffering. A quarter of all those being killed now are civilians [the majority of the over 2,400 wounded are civilians]. So when I hear people say we’re doing our best to avoid civilian casualties that rings very hollow indeed.”

>From Iraq, I had reported on how the US military regularly blockaded cities during military operations, disconnecting power, food, water and medical supplies. Let us not forget the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq followed 12 and a half years of genocidal sanctions against that country, which claimed the lives of half a million children. The people of Iraq, like the people of Gaza, had been placed on a “diet.”

Back in Gaza, the International Committee for the Red Cross said on Sunday its medical emergency team had been prevented by the Israeli military for a third day from entering the territory. Here again, is an uncanny similarity with the situation in Iraq, particularly during the two US sieges of Fallujah during 2004, when medical and aid teams were not allowed into the city, and teams already inside were regularly targeted by the military when they attempted to rescue the wounded.

KPFA correspondent Habeeb has reported of Israeli tanks preventing ambulances from reaching the wounded and of three paramedics and ambulance staff having been killed by the Israeli military while trying to rescue a family. Oxfam aid agency also reported on the incident. Journalist activist Ewa Jasiewicz reported, “On 31st December, around 2 am, two emergency medical services personnel were targeted by an Israeli missile as they attempted to reach injured in the Jabaliya region, northern Gaza. The first died immediately, the second soon after of complications from his internal injuries. Two days later, two more medics were injured in the area east of Gaza, again in the line of duty, again trying to reach the injured. Under the Geneva Conventions, Israel is obliged to allow and ensure safe passage to medical personnel to the injured. Instead, Israel routinely targets them.”

I am aware that for those who have not experienced war firsthand, an accusation against a supposedly civilized government of the deliberate targeting of medical personnel, who are, in theory, protected by international law, is unbelievable and shocking. But there are others like me who have witnessed such tactics firsthand on several occasions. I saw it being used by the Israeli military during their assault on southern Lebanon during summer 2006, just as I had seen the US military doing in Fallujah in 2004.

Such is the madness of war.

Veteran journalist Robert Fisk describes war as “the total failure of the human spirit.”

How can anyone expect the wide-scale butchering in Gaza to be any different when the dogs of war have been let loose? Psychosis, mental illness, the specious “logic” of it all: The fundamental assumption that war can ever solve a crisis is false. Has this not been apparent from the beginning of history?

   
“These events of war were performed not by atavistic savages following the code of archaic rituals, but usually by trained troops from societies boasting civilized values, humane laws, moral education, and aesthetic culture. Nor were these acts specific to one nation - typically Japanese, typically American, or German or Serbian … Nor were they confined to exceptional psychopathic criminals among the troops. No: this is what wars do, what battles are; conventions of rampage on both a monstrous collective and monstrous individual scale, implacable archetypal behaviors, behaviors of an archetype, governed by, possessed by, commanded by Mars.”

    -
James Hillman, Jungian psychologist, from
“A Terrible Love of War”

At this point, it simply must be stopped. No human, no matter what their race, religion or nationality, should ever have to endure the effects of war.

Yet, impotent governments across the world remain unwilling to intervene, some conniving proactively to aggravate the distress of the targeted populations. Egypt has completely closed the Rafah crossing, effectively cutting off aid supplies to the hapless surviving residents of Gaza.

It is the United Nations, however, that must be granted the undisputed crowning glory of impotence. In a move tried and tested for years now, last Saturday evening, the United States, yet again wielding its veto power to protect the actions of Israel, blocked approval of a UN Security Council statement expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas and calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Perhaps, there is consolation in the fact that this was no great loss because, had the statement been approved, it would still have remained an empty gesture unable to check the violence.

Frustrated by the untenable nature of the crisis and obviously angered by the veto power of the United States in the UN, president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockman of Nicaragua, blasted the Israeli action, and said, “I think it’s a monstrosity; there’s no other way to name it … Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunctionality of the Security Council.”

Professor Falk, in a recent article titled “Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe,” writes, “The people of Gaza are victims of geopolitics at its inhumane worst: producing what Israel itself calls a ‘total war’ against an essentially defenseless society that lacks any defensive military capability whatsoever and is completely vulnerable to Israeli attacks mounted by F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters. What this also means is that the flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions, is quietly set aside while the carnage continues and the bodies pile up. It additionally means that the UN is once more revealed to be impotent when its main members deprive it of the political will to protect a people subject to unlawful uses of force on a large scale. Finally, this means that the public can shriek and march all over the world, but that the killing will go on as if nothing is happening. The picture being painted day by day in Gaza is one that begs for renewed commitment to international law and the authority of the UN Charter, starting here in the United States, especially with a new leadership that promised its citizens change, including a less militarist approach to diplomatic leadership.”

“And where two raging fires meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury…,” said Shakespeare in “The Taming of the Shrew.” But one of the worst conflict conditions in the world indicates otherwise. The fury and the fire rage unabated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahr_Jamail


Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:29 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 6 January 2009 5:31 PM PST
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Gonzo Tries Covering His Tracks
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Alberto Gonzales writes a book to "hog-wash" his attrocties
Topic: TORTURE

WASHINGTON -- Alberto Gonzales, who has kept a low profile since resigning as attorney general nearly 16 months ago, said he is writing a book to set the record straight about his controversial tenure as a senior official in the Bush administration.

Mr. Gonzales has been portrayed by critics both as unqualified for his position and instrumental in laying the groundwork for the administration's "war on terror." He was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials.

[Alberto Gonzales] 

    Alberto Gonzales

Interview Excerpts

Alberto Gonzales, in his most extensive comments since stepping down as attorney general last year, discussed his tenure as White House counsel and as the first Hispanic to lead the Justice Department. Read the excerpts.

Discuss

How will history judge his work?

"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.

During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

His political problems started with the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, which grew into a firestorm that Mr. Gonzales said he never saw coming. In November of that year, Democrats had taken control of Congress and the power to conduct investigations of Bush administration policies.

His previous role of White House counsel put Mr. Gonzales at the heart of the administration's decision-making on issues relating to terrorism, making him an easier target than the president. Critics also said he allowed the Justice Department to become politicized through its hiring practices and prosecutions, favoring Republicans for plum positions and targeting Democrats for prosecution.

Mr. Gonzales fueled the fire by giving evasive answers to Congress, frequently responding "I don't recall."

Among other things, Mr. Gonzales said Tuesday that he didn't play a central role in drafting the widely criticized legal opinions that allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to use aggressive interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects and expanded the president's power to hold "unlawful combatants" and terrorism suspects indefinitely. He also said he told the truth to Congress about a classified eavesdropping program authorized by the president, and admitted to making mistakes in handling the U.S. attorney firings while maintaining that he made the right decisions. He says that while he bears responsibility as former Attorney General that "doesn't absolve other individuals of responsibility."

Mr. Gonzales, 53 years old, doesn't have a publisher for his book. He said he is writing it if only "for my sons, so at least they know the story."

The chapters on the Bush administration's surveillance program, which involved eavesdropping without court warrants, and other controversial aspects of his work, remain blank. That is in part because he remains under investigation regarding allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department.

The Harvard Law School graduate, onetime corporate lawyer and Texas judge also hasn't been able to land a job. He has delivered a few paid speeches, done some mediation work and plans to do some arbitration, but said law firms have been "skittish" about hiring him.

The biggest blow to Mr. Gonzales came during Senate testimony by James Comey, former deputy attorney general, who recounted dramatic details of a 2004 confrontation at the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Mr. Comey had refused to sign a reauthorization of a secret government program, believed to be the eavesdropping initiative. Mr. Gonzales and Andrew Card, White House chief of staff at the time, drove to the hospital where Mr. Ashcroft was recovering from surgery to instead seek approval from him. Mr. Comey drove to the hospital to stop them. The episode highlighted a dispute between Justice and the White House over the surveillance program's legality.

In Tuesday's interview, Mr. Gonzales said Mr. Comey's characterization of the dispute was "one-sided and didn't have the right context," and gave the impression that he and Mr. Card were attempting to take advantage of Mr. Ashcroft. "I found Ashcroft as lucid as I've seen him at meetings in the White House," he said.

Mr. Gonzales was at a meeting in San Antonio the day of Mr. Comey's surprise testimony. "He didn't have the decency to notify anyone what he was about to testify," he said. "That was extremely disappointing." Mr. Comey declined to comment.

Mr. Gonzales also downplayed his role in formulating opinions that allowed the CIA to use aggressive interrogation methods, which included waterboarding. The memos have since been rescinded and replaced with opinions that explicitly call torture "abhorrent."

Mr. Gonzales said his role as White House counsel at the time was one among several administration lawyers who debated the opinions, but that in the end it was the Justice Department's call. John Yoo, the then-Justice official who had been assigned to draft the memos, had strong feelings and no one could have pressured him to write the memos a certain way, Mr. Gonzales said. Mr. Yoo didn't respond to a request for comment.

In one of his final acts before leaving office, Mr. Gonzales denied he was planning to quit, even though he had told the president of his intention to resign. Asked about the misleading comment Tuesday, he said: "At that point, I didn't care."


Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:13 PM PST
Friday, 2 January 2009
Israel rams Human Rights Boat with Mrs. McKinney & Aid Supplies
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Cynthia McKinney on boat that was rammed in International waters
Topic: HUMANITY

Z3 Readers watch the video (link is in article below) where Cynthia Mckinney tells about being rammed by Isreal on International Waters. This boat is bringing first aid supplies to Gazza. There is more info on my website click here

- - - -  

Gaza relief boat

damaged in encounter with Israeli vessel

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.aid.boat/index.html

(CNN) -- An Israeli patrol boat struck a boat carrying medical volunteers and supplies to Gaza early Tuesday as it attempted to intercept the vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, witnesses and Israeli officials said.

"Our mission was a peaceful mission," says former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was aboard the Dignity.

"Our mission was a peaceful mission," says former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was aboard the Dignity.

Click to view previous image
3 of 3
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CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul was aboard the 60-foot pleasure boat Dignity when the contact occurred. When the boat later docked in the Lebanese port city of Tyre, severe damage was visible to the forward port side of the boat, and the front left window and part of the roof had collapsed. It was flying the flag of Gibraltar.

The Dignity was carrying crew and 16 passengers -- physicians from Britain, Germany and Cyprus and human rights activists from the Free Gaza Solidarity Movement -- who were trying to reach Gaza through an Israeli blockade of the territory.

Also on board was former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney.

Penhaul said an Israeli patrol boat shined its spotlight on the Dignity, and then it and another patrol boat shadowed the Dignity for about a half hour before the collision.

One patrol boat "very severely rammed" the Dignity, Penhaul said.

The captain of the Dignity told Penhaul he received no warning. Only after the collision did the Israelis come on the radio to say they struck the boat because they believed it was involved in terrorist activities, the captain said.

But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied that and said the patrol boat had warned the vessel not to proceed to Gaza because it is a closed military area.

Palmor said there was no response to the radio message, and the vessel then tried to out-maneuver the Israeli patrol boat, leading to the collision. Video Watch Penhaul describe the boat damage »

The captain and crew said their vessel was struck intentionally, Penhaul said, but Palmor called those allegations "absurd."

"There is no intention on the part of the Israeli navy to ram anybody," Palmor said.

"I would call it ramming. Let's just call it as it is," McKinney said after the boat docked in Lebanon. "Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and one on the side. Video Watch Cynthia McKinney discuss the collision »

"Our mission was a peaceful mission to deliver medical supplies and our mission was thwarted by the Israelis -- the aggressiveness of the Israeli military," she said.

The incident occurred in international waters about 90 miles off Gaza. Israel controls the waters off Gaza's coast and routinely blocks ships from coming into the Palestinian territory as part of an ongoing blockade that also applies to the Israel-Gaza border. Human rights groups have expressed concern about the blockade on Gaza, which has restricted the delivery of emergency aid and fuel supplies.

Tuesday's collision was so severe, Penhaul said, that the passengers were ordered to put on their life vests and be ready to get in lifeboats. The Dignity began taking on water, but the crew managed to pump it out of the hull long enough for the boat to reach shore.

"It could have ended with people drowning if they hit us more square on," Dignity's captain, Denis Healey, said. "It could have gone down in minutes."

Palmor said the vessel refused assistance after the incident.

The boat was carrying boxes of relief supplies, volunteers and journalists to Gaza, the Palestinian territory that has been subject to an intense Israeli bombing campaign since Saturday.

Israel Tuesday lambasted McKinney -- the Green Party's 2008 candidate for the U.S. presidency and a former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia -- for taking part in the maritime mission.

In a written statement, the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, based in Atlanta, Georgia, said McKinney "has taken it upon herself to commit an act of provocation," endangering herself and the crew.

"We regret that during this time of crisis, while Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and defending its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms. McKinney's irresponsible behavior," the statement read.

The trip was the Free Gaza Solidarity Movement's sixth in as many months.

Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza on Saturday in what Defense Minister Ehud Barak called an "all-out war" against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has ruled the territory since 2007. The Israeli military says its goal is to stop a recent barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. Video Watch the chaos in Gaza and Israel »

The Palestinian death toll has topped 375, most of them Hamas militants, Palestinian medical sources said Tuesday. At least 60 civilians have been killed in Gaza, U.N. officials said.

Hamas has pontinued to fire rockets at southern Israeli towns since the airstrikes began, Israel says. Six Israelis have been killed -- five of them civilians.

Hamas has vowed to defend Gaza in the face of what it calls continued Israeli aggression. Each side blames the other for violating an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which formally expired December 19, but had been weakening for months.

 

All About GazaIsraelCynthia McKinney


Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:22 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 2 January 2009 6:39 PM PST
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Will You Publish This Story?
Mood:  sad
Now Playing: Will You Publish This Story?
Topic: WAR

Ok Z3 Readers here is one for ya: 

Will You Publish This Story?

By Nida Mariam

23 October, 2008
Combat Law

http://www.countercurrents.org/mariam231008.htm

Lubna, a young woman from Baghdad, mother of four, stranded in Cairo, narrates her ordeals to Nida Mariam

She left al Doura, south Baghdad, in the darkness before dawn.
At five a.m. one morning, in mid-2006, 40 days after her father had been murdered by militiamen in front of her mother's eyes, Lubna Hamed Rasheed, 35 years old at the time, bundled up her belongings, collected her courage, and told her toddler, "As soon as we cross the Iraqi border, we will be out of danger."

There was a stream of cars moving together from her street. And when she, her children, and her neighbours got into the bus station, to take the land route to Syria, it felt as if all of Iraq was waiting to flee.

***
In the moments before Lubna was to arrive for our appointment, I quickly scanned my email to find the record I had been sent of her. No testimony about her experience in Iraq showed up. Five short depressing sentences describing her situation since she had come to Egypt—that was all I had.


The doorbell rang. Dressed in a black abaya, clutching her phone and a loosely wrapped headscarf casually under her chin, she walked in. She had something of a spark in her smile. She greeted us with warmth.

Few minutes later, seated side by side on the comfort of a couch, I suggested something through Omaima, our translator, who sat in front of us, “We can keep your name and other details anonymous, if you’d like.” Lubna stirred some sugar into her tea, set the spoon down on the metal tray, and shook her head resolutely, “No, I wish you could publish this. I want everyone to know.”

***
They shot her father in the leg when he tried to escape. They shot him eight times in all.. But the hospital report said it would have made no difference had they not shot, at all. By the time they took out their guns and fired, his spleen was already bleeding. They had beaten him up badly enough.


That morning, Lubna's mother ran out of her home in al Khadra, west Baghdad, to save her husband from the militiamen. Again and again, she kissed their feet, begging them to stop, begging them for mercy, begging them to leave.

***
I requested Lubna to tell us about her life in Egypt.


Lubna left Baghdad in the darkness before dawn in mid-2006. She bundled up her belongings, collected her courage, and told her toddler: "As soon as we cross the Iraqi border, we will be out of danger"


“I will speak in an Iraqi accent,” she stated, checking with Omaima that her speech was comprehensible, before offering us the first-round, watered-down version, of the trial that was her life.

“I have four children—three daughters and a son. In Iraq I was married to this Egyptian man, when I came here with my children, he divorced me.”

Trite and tragic, that’s how she began.

“We didn’t find any housing. I didn’t know what to do. For six months we were homeless. We slept in the street.”

That the divorce was ugly and unfair and unresolved was sad, not surprising. But the legal particularities of her marriage to that man unravelled a little later.


Her four children, though born in Iraq, were by virtue of their father, registered as Egyptian citizens at birth. Now that he had abandoned her, she had no one else to turn to in Egypt. “And we can’t go back to Iraq because my children are Egyptian and I don’t have anyone in Iraq. I don’t have a house in Iraq. I have nothing there,” she explains. But even if Lubna were to decide to go back to the dangers of Baghdad, she could not take her children with her. They would be denied entry. These were the citizenship laws of the Arab world. Despite their mother’s nationality, as children of an Egyptian immigrant, they had no current legal status in Iraq.

She lay down her cup of tea and reiterated for a second time that afternoon, “My children are not in school. I am very upset because my eldest daughter is 14 years old and cannot read and write.” She explained that her daughters had been out of the classroom for three years now.

But why, if they were Egyptian nationals, were her children not able to enrol in public school?

When Lubna finally found a place to live in October 6 City just months ago, she had approached the local school authorities, “But they wanted the children's documents from their schools in Iraq, and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t bring them. My father was killed in the war. My brothers are in detention. I don’t have anyone to run for this and bring the papers.” For all she knows the teachers at that school are dead; and from what she remembers the US Armed

Forces occupy the building now.

And then there was the issue of rent. For five days the landlord had been knocking on the door, demanding the payment, threatening to throw her out again. The last time he had come she had pretended as if she was not home. She could not bear the thought of being back with her children on the street.
Was there anywhere that she had tried to go for assistance?

When Lubna went to the Cairo offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she was turned away at the gate. The security guards informed her that, despite her Iraqi nationality, she was not eligible for refugee status. “Because my children are Egyptian, we can stay here, so they don’t consider me a refugee.” Omaima, who works extensively with all refugees and helps them with their applications to UNHCR, explained that though Lubna was, in a sense, a refugee, she had a better legal standing than other Iraqis in Cairo, who are granted recognition as asylum seekers primarily in order to be issued residency permits. These other Iraqis do not have the right to employment. As a mother of Egyptian nationals, Lubna has the right to live and work in Egypt.


Lubna’s life has been triumph more than tragedy. For one, despite the legalities surrounding the fact that her nationality is different than her children, she managed, against the odds, to bring them with her to Egypt

Lubna tried to work as a housemaid, but had a lot of problems because of that. She can’t leave her children out of her sight, often afraid to even take them outside. She thinks someone might kidnap them. She gets frightened every time the doorbell rings; she thinks someone has come to attack even though she knows ‘these things’ don’t happen in Egypt. “I have something like a phobia”, she reveals, “Maybe from Iraq, because our life was just in horror. I was seeing people being killed and being raped and being abducted and everything.”

Her mind switched tracks for a brief moment. “Will you publish this story?” she asked in anticipation. “Maybe someone will have a good heart to help me,” when the idea of what we had just begun started to sink in.

***

Lubna decided to leave al Doura because of "those men who cover their faces and only show their eyes". She doesn’t know who they are. Sectarian tensions erupted in this part-Shia, part-Sunni neighbourhood where people once inter-married. These men had gone in and mutilated her neighbour's son. These men started breaking in, looting houses, murdering people, and raping girls. There were blackouts, randomly. She no longer felt safe for her daughters and stopped sending them to school.

She used to make a good living off the lorry that was in her name. She didn’t ever have to work as such, as the lorry driver would transport cement and other building material from construction companies to markets around Baghdad. Then the men stole her lorry, and she lost everything.

The war did not leave anything behind.

II

The second time I met Lubna I drove out to her place in October 6 City, with my friend, Mai, who was kind enough to come and play translator. The weather was gorgeous and Lubna came out, her younger daughter and youngest son trailing behind, to the main street to meet us. Once again, her headscarf draped loosely around her head, she held her phone in her hand. And as before, there was warmth.

As we sauntered back to her block, and up her building stairs, I prepared myself for what I knew from the email would be in her apartment. Nothing. “Lives in a bare flat with not a single piece of furniture; needs clothing—has only one blanket for all five of them to sleep under,” part of it had read.

As we entered, Lubna’s two elder daughters emerged from the bedroom and gathered around us with shy smiles. The younger two children went out to the small balcony to play. We sat down on mats on the floor in the living room, and I gleaned from her manner a newfound sense of belonging, “We didn’t have a place before, but now this is considered our place,” she said. The worst had come to pass, and she was picking up the pieces and beginning to provide for her children a notion of normality that she knew she must maintain.

“You know what you’re like when you don’t sleep for a day?” Lubna directed the question toward me, to get me to fathom what it had been like when she was homeless on the streets. “I would take the children to many places, from morning to night, we would want to sleep but couldn’t. We were very tired.”

Poignant and pointed, she continued, “We’d stay around Saeeda Zainab, or outside the Iraqi embassy. Sometimes, if I had money enough from people at the masjid, we’d go to Mansoora, other times we’d go to Alexandria, and stay at the homes of other Iraqis. For example, in Syria, I met this Iraqi woman, so I went to spend the night with her. In Alexandria, I knew some Iraqi people so I went to spend the night with them. Sometimes I’d stay at some person’s place, sometime in the street, sometime in another person’s. I would just go because I needed to sleep.”

But it wasn’t as easy as that; there were issues of personal pride and cultural etiquette involved, “As soon as I started to feel that they were not very welcoming anymore, I would leave. I would take my children and walk in the streets again.” I hadn’t noticed, but Haneen, her eldest daughter had gone into the kitchen. She came out carrying a tin tray with three small glasses of tea. She set it down between us and rejoined our circle of conversation.

***

Months after Lubna’s husband had divorced her, her husband’s uncle’s wife called and asked to take her eldest daughter, Haneen, to their family home in upper Egypt for a wedding. Lubna went to the police station and signed papers to ensure that she was the sole legal guardian of her four children. She then made her husband’s uncle’s wife put her palm on the Koran and swear that she would return her daughter to her. Then she let Haneen go.

When her husband’s uncle’s wife returned to Cairo after the wedding she told Lubna that Haneen had decided to stay on with her father.

In upper Egypt, Lubna’s mother-in-law told Haneen that Lubna was dead. She then put Haneen to work in the field and to milk the cows in the shed, which Haneen did not want to do.

One day Haneen managed to call Lubna. She was crying. Her grandmother, Lubna’s mother-in-law, was planning to sell Haneen’s hand in marriage to a much older man for a sum of 9000 LE.

From then on, with the help of a sympathetic aunt, Haneen would call Lubna crying almost every week. Lubna used all the tactics she had. And even threatened to fax President Mubarak and inform the police until she had her daughter back. It took eight months before Lubna had Haneen back in her custody.

***

Lubna’s life has been triumph more than tragedy. For one, despite the legalities surrounding the fact that her nationality is different than her children, she managed, against the odds, to bring them with her to Egypt.

When coming to Egypt via Syria, the fact that she was Iraqi and her children Egyptian caused her much trouble. She explained, “I had my passport, I could easily get into Syria with no visa, because I am Iraqi. But as Egyptians, my children should have a visa, even simply to pass through.” Furthermore, as they were minors they were all registered on her husband’s passport, and he had already left. With no Egyptian embassy operating in Iraq at the time, Lubna had to issue them some strange one-way transit document that nobody had seemed to recognise and sign a paper promising to leave Syria for Egypt in two weeks time. But the authorities wouldn’t let her in easily, the bus driver begged the police on her behalf. Lubna faced much harassment from then. Then they let her through into Syria but refused to let her take the road to Jordan. They insisted she take a flight. And then there was a ray of luck, “The Egyptian ambassador sympathised with me, when he saw me crying at the Egyptian embassy. He called me in, asked them to bring me food, and he took the children and got their photos taken for the travel document, even though it was after hours, and at 2 pm the embassy closed its doors. But he sympathised with me when he saw the little one crying. He was a young man, and had very good, kind manners.” She considers him the one who saved her life, kept her family intact. By then, however, Lubna was already out of money, so she sold her cell phone, borrowed money from some generous refugees and bought five plane tickets to Cairo. She arrived in Cairo with not a guinea in hand.

Lubna’s present legal predicament is her own nationality. Her passport has expired. “I wanted to renew my passport and when I went to the Iraqi embassy they ask me where my mehram is! I went three times to Iraqi embassy in Mohandiseen last month.” Lubna is 37 years old she and is still considered a minor and requires an immediate male relative in order to renew her citizenship documents. The male relative has to be Iraqi so even her husband coming, were he to oblige her, would not do. Lubna has no other relatives in Egypt. With her father dead, and her brothers traumatised, she has no one to help her from Iraq.

“How can I bring those here?

Everyone has their own problems and we are all scattered around the globe, I cannot reach any of them. How can I bring you someone if I don’t have anyone?” she asks rhetorically. As for protection for her children, “They said, ‘we are not responsible for them, they are Egyptian, ’” explaining how she is falling through the crack. Lubna’s situation presents the precariousness of a woman’s legal status in the current socio-political milieu of the Middle East.


Despite her divorce and everything else, Lubna has kept her children together, and when I asked if they have any physical or psychological problems because of everything they’ve been through, she praises God, “Besides Mohammed’s cough, the kids are fine, mashallah.” The toll has perhaps all been borne by her, “I have a problem. I get nauseous quite often. When I put cold water I feel better, and it affects this area,” physically indicating a searing pain around the crown of her head. “The pain stays,” she says, “And sometimes I feel faint.”

***

Before the fall of Baghdad, Lubna says she would never bother to have breakfast at her home in al Doura: "I would take a cab, and go to my mother's in al Khadra to have breakfast there every morning. Every morning, I would go to have breakfast with her. We would have thick cream and hot bread.”

“We were something beautiful back then."

That is:


> before her father was killed;

> before her mother withdrew from social life;

> before her brothers were tortured;

> before her family was scattered—her sisters seeking asylum in Syria, her brothers getting detained in Buka prison and Abu Ghraib;

> before her brother-in-law was caught in a landmine;

> before her cousin was cut up;

> before another was blown up;

> before yet another went to the market and never returned;

> before all of that,

> before the fall of Baghdad, while still sitting around and chatting in the garden over breakfast, they were something beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:48 AM PST
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
CRIME
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: Pardon Me
Topic: TORTURE

Impeach Bush To Stop Pardons

48919 of 100000 people have signed – see totals by state and Congressional District.
Petition

Dear Representative and Senators,

President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney stand accused of 39 grave and impeachable offenses, including war crimes, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and outing a covert CIA operative.

Most of these offenses are felonies for which Bush and Cheney can be criminally prosecuted after they leave office. But prosecutions will be impossible if Bush issues blanket pre-emptive pardons for Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, other senior officials, and even himself.

Can Bush do this? Absolutely. Gerald Ford set the precedent in 1974 when he gave Richard Nixon a blanket pre-emptive pardon for any crime he "may have committed."

Presidential pardon power is nearly unlimited under the Constitution. We support efforts in Congress to outlaw pre-emptive or self-pardons, but even if a bill passes Congress before Bush leave office, Bush will certainly veto it. So how can we stop Bush's pardons?

The Founding Fathers clearly anticipated a corrupt President might pardon his co-conspirators, and specified impeachment as the remedy.

George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights, argued at the Constitutional Convention that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection."

James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, added that "if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter [pardon] him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty."

As your constituent, I urge you to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney before they issue pardons. But if that fails, I urge you to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney afterwards for issuing pardons that constitute obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

A post-inaugural impeachment would prohibit those impeached from ever holding federal office, either elected or appointed. Arguably, impeachment would also nullify pre-impeachment pardons and permit prosecutions. Finally, impeachment would tell future Presidents they cannot abuse their pardon power to put themselves above the law.

In 1776, Thomas Paine famously wrote, "in America, the law is King." Congress must not allow a President to commit crimes with impunity, or it makes the President a King - or worse, a Dictator.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:42 PM PST
SPIEGEL & CHOMSKY - Interview about Americas Democracy 2008
Mood:  chatty
Now Playing: A One Party USA Government - As if you didnt know
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT

One left libertarian vote

Barack Obama hasn't won

Anarchist OpinionSPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, cathedrals of capitalism have collapsed, the conservative government is spending its final weeks in office with nationalization plans. How does that make you feel?

Chomsky: The times are too difficult and the crisis too severe to indulge in schadenfreude. Looking at it in perspective, the fact that there would be a financial crisis was perfectly predictable, its general nature, if not its magnitude. Markets are always inefficient.

INTERVIEW WITH NOAM CHOMSKY
'The United States Has Essentially a One-Party System'

The linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky has long been a critic of American consumerism and imperialism. SPIEGEL spoke to him about the current crisis of capitalism, Barack Obama's rhetoric and the compliance of the intellectual class.

SPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, cathedrals of capitalism have collapsed, the conservative government is spending its final weeks in office with nationalization plans. How does that make you feel?

Chomsky: The times are too difficult and the crisis too severe to indulge in schadenfreude. Looking at it in perspective, the fact that there would be a financial crisis was perfectly predictable, its general nature, if not its magnitude. Markets are always inefficient.

SPIEGEL: What exactly did you anticipate?

Chomsky: In the financial industry, as in other industries, there are risks that are left out of the calculation. If you sell me a car, we have perhaps made a good bargain for ourselves. But there are effects of this transaction on others, which we do not take into account. There is more pollution, the price of gas goes up, there is more congestion. Those are the external costs of our transaction. In the case of financial institutions, they are huge.

SPIEGEL: But isn't it the task of a bank to take risks?

Chomsky: Yes, but if it is well managed, like Goldman Sachs, it will cover its own risks and absorb its own losses. But no financial institution can manage systemic risks. Risk is therefore underpriced, and there will be more risk taken than would be prudent for the economy. With government deregulation and the triumph of financial liberalization, the dangers of systemic risks, the possibility of a financial tsunami, sharply increased.

SPIEGEL: But is it correct to only put the blame on Wall Street? Doesn't Main Street, the American middle class, also live on borrowed money which may or may not be paid back?

Chomsky: The debt burden of private households is enormous. But I would not hold the individual responsible. This consumerism is based on the fact that we are a society dominated by business interests. There is massive propaganda for everyone to consume. Consumption is good for profits and consumption is good for the political establishment.

SPIEGEL: How does it benefit politicians when the populace drives a lot, eats a lot and goes shopping a lot?

Chomsky: Consumption distracts people. You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption. The business press has been quite explicit about this goal.

SPIEGEL: A while ago you called America “the greatest country on earth.” How does that fit together with what you've been saying?

Chomsky: In many respects, the United States is a great country. Freedom of speech is protected more than in any other country. It is also a very free society. In America, the professor talks to the mechanic. They are in the same category.

SPIEGEL: After travelling through the United States 170 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville reported, "the people reign over the American political world as God rules over the universe." Was he a dreamer?

Chomsky: James Madison’s position at the Constitutional Convention was that state power should be used "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." That is why the Senate has only a hundred members who are mostly rich and were given a great deal of power. The House of Representatives, with several hundred members, is more democratic and was given much less power. Even liberals like Walter Lippmann, one of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century, was of the opinion that in a properly functioning democracy, the intelligent minority, who should rule, have to be protected from “the trampling and the roar of the bewildered herd.” Among the conservatives, Vice President Dick Cheney just recently illustrated his understanding of democracy. He was asked why he supports a continuation of the war in Iraq when the population is strongly opposed. His answer was: “So?”

SPIEGEL: “Change” is the slogan of this year’s presidential election. Do you see any chance for an immediate, tangible change in the United States? Or, to use use Obama’s battle cry: Are you "fired up”?

Chomsky: Not in the least. The European reaction to Obama is a European delusion.

SPIEGEL: But he does say things that Europe has long been waiting for. He talks about the trans-Atlantic partnership, the priority of diplomacy and the reconciling of American society.

Chomsky: That is all rhetoric. Who cares about that? This whole election campaign deals with soaring rhetoric, hope, change, all sorts of things, but not with issues.

SPIEGEL: Do you prefer the team on the other side: the 72 year old Vietnam veteran McCain and Sarah Palin, former Alaskan beauty queen?

Chomsky: This Sarah Palin phenomenon is very curious. I think somebody watching us from Mars, they would think the country has gone insane.

SPIEGEL: Arch conservatives and religious voters seem to be thrilled.

Chomsky: One must not forget that this country was founded by religious fanatics. Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.

SPIEGEL: Is there nothing about McCain that appeals to you?

Chomsky: In one aspect he is more honest than his opponent. He explicitly states that this election is not about issues but about personalities. The Democrats are not quite as honest even though they see it the same way.

SPIEGEL: So for you, Republicans and Democrats represent just slight variations of the same political platform?

Chomsky: Of course there are differences, but they are not fundamental. Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party.

SPIEGEL: You exaggerate. In almost all vital questions -- from the taxation of the rich to nuclear energy -- there are different positions. At least on the issues of war and peace, the parties differ considerably. The Republicans want to fight in Iraq until victory, even if that takes a 100 years, according to McCain. The Democrats demand a withdrawal plan.

Chomsky: Let us look at the “differences” more closely, and we recognize how limited and cynical they are. The hawks say, if we continue we can win. The doves say, it is costing us too much. But try to find an American politician who says frankly that this aggression is a crime: the issue is not whether we win or not, whether it is expensive or not. Remember the Russian invasion of Afghanistan? Did we have a debate whether the Russians can win the war or whether it is too expensive? This may have been the debate at the Kremlin, or in Pravda. But this is the kind of debate you would expect in a totalitarian society. If General Petraeus could achieve in Iraq what Putin achieved in Chechnya, he would be crowned king. The key question here is whether we apply the same standards to ourselves that we apply to others.

SPIEGEL: Who prevents intellectuals from asking and critically answering these questions? You praised the freedom of speech in the United States.

Chomsky: The intellectual world is deeply conformist. Hans Morgenthau, who was a founder of realist international relations theory, once condemned what he called “the conformist subservience to power” on the part of the intellectuals. George Orwell wrote that nationalists, who are practically the whole intellectual class of a country, not only do not disapprove of the crimes of their own state, but have the remarkable capacity not even to see them. That is correct. We talk a lot about the crimes of others. When it comes to our own crimes, we are nationalists in the Orwellian sense.

SPIEGEL: Was there not, and is there not -- in the United States and worldwide -- loud protest against the Iraq war?

Chomsky: The protest against the war in Iraq is far higher than against the war in Vietnam. When there were 4,000 American deaths in Vietnam and 150,000 troops deployed, nobody cared. When Kennedy invaded Vietnam in 1962, there was just a yawn.

SPIEGEL: To conclude, perhaps you can offer a conciliatory word about the state of the nation?

Chomsky: The American society has become more civilized, largely as a result of the activism of the 1960s. Our society, and also Europe's, became freer, more open, more democratic, and for many quite scary. This generation was condemned for that. But it had an effect.

SPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, we thank you for this interview.

Interview conducted by Gabor Steingart

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,583454,00.html

Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:44 AM PST
Friday, 26 December 2008
Cheating ... The red light traffic cameras
Mood:  amorous
Now Playing: Teens copying enemies' license plates to get revenge via speed cameras
Topic: TECHNOLOGY

Z3 Readers here is an article about smekids who are copying enemies' license plates to get revenge via speed cameras

The whole article is below .... there are comments on that website

Cheating ...

The Red Light Traffic Cameras


 

http://www.autoblog.com/2008/12/24/teens-copying-enemies-license-plates-to-get-revenge-via-speed-c/

Revenge can be a Driving bad thing...

Teens are known for having a lot of time, some seriously outrageous ideas for filling that time, and a slightly obsessive need for revenge. Add a few residential speed cameras into that mix, and what you have is a creative perversion of the entire speed camera system. Teens in Maryland have evidently been printing out the license plates numbers of rival teens, putting them on their own cars, and then purposely blasting by speed cameras posted in residential neighborhoods. The rival teen -- or his parents -- then gets a $40 citation in the mail.

The police say they haven't heard anything about it, and the local government doesn't sound like it has come up with any way to prevent or limit the habit. Which means that teens will be teens, and parents will be left to complain about it and fight the citations in court. Said one parent, "I hope the public at large will complain loudly enough that local Montgomery County government officials will change their policy of using these cameras for monetary gain. The practice of sending speeding tickets to faceless recipients without any type of verification is unwarranted and an exploitation of our rights." Oh, these kids today...

 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:02 PM PST

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