Archive | September 9, 2014

More Expedient than the U.N., Scotland Raises a Million for Gaza in One Month*

More Expedient than the U.N., Scotland Raises a Million for Gaza in One Month*

To date, Gaza has not received any money pledged by the so-called international community…

By Paul Ward

Almost £1 million has been raised in a month in Scotland to help those affected by the Gaza crisis.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said it has been able to reach 1.1 million people with aid, including food, water and medicine, since it launched the fundraising drive in the UK on August 8.

In total, £14 million has been raised in the UK, with £930,000 coming from Scottish donations, DEC said.

The charity thanked those who have given to the fund and supported its work. Tens of thousands of individual donations have been made as well as larger single donations including £10,000 from Renfrewshire Council.

The City of Edinburgh Council has been flying a DEC flag, bearing the donation telephone number, above the City Chambers during the appeal, which will remain open until February.

DEC chair in Scotland Neil Mathers said: “We are very grateful to the Scottish public for their generosity in supporting people affected by the crisis in Gaza, and to the councils and politicians who have backed the appeal.

“Raising money to help those affected by conflict is always challenging but the public have responded and supported us, enabling us to help those in Gaza who are suffering.

“For a family which has lost its home, their need is as great whether the cause is an earthquake or a war.

“Despite significant risks and obstacles, our member agencies and their partners have done an amazing job delivering aid to hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been torn apart.

“As an uneasy peace holds and the dust settles there is now an enormous amount of work to be done supporting people to rebuild their lives.

“The DEC will continue funding its members for the next two years as they set about this work in Gaza.”

The DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal was launched last month during the first of a series of ceasefires which started to come into force after a month of conflict.

Appeals were made on TV, radio, newspapers and online to fund supplies such as clean water, food, emergency shelter and medical supplies.

The money raised by DEC has been split between other charities working in the area.


Related Topics:

Activists Continue to Block the Israeli Cargo Ship*

Why has Abbas Refused to sign the Rome Statute?

Belgian Palestinians to File for War Crimes Committed by Israel*

U.S., Britain and Israel are the Biggest Terrorists on the Planet.

Consciousness the Last Stand*

Jordan Decides to Buy Palestinian Gas from Israel*

Death Sentence for Rapists in Afghanistan*

Death Sentence for Rapists in Afghanistan*

By Samea Shanori

In a tense, emotive demonstration outside a Kabul courtroom on Sunday, Afghan men and women marched, chanted and held up slogans reading

”We defend our sister. We defend our  honor”

”Raping women is raping the nation” and

”We demand justice from the government.”

Justice, in the form of seven death sentences for the alleged perpetrators of a horrific gang rape, was quickly discharged the same day. The social outcry surrounding the trial represents the biggest public reaction to a rape case in the country’s modern history, and one of the select occasions since the fall of the Taliban that the government has endorsed capital punishment.

The seven men were found guilty on September 7 of armed robbery and adultery — not rape — in connection with an incident that took place in the capital in late August. The men — publically identified by their burkha-clad victims — are expected to be hanged shortly, although the verdicts are not final and can be appealed. Three other suspects are on the run from police. International rights organizations are concerned that emotions and populism have overrun due process in the case.

According to the widely accepted version of the Pghman incident, on August 23 a group of ten people stopped two vehicles consisting of eight women and two men in the Paghman district of the capital. The assailants took four of the women hostage, beating and raping them. Fearing ostracization, the family of the women took them to a nearby hospital without informing the police. The case was not opened until one of victims died in the hospital. The family were on their way back from a wedding at the time of the attack.

When the story broke at the beginning of the month, it immediately went viral, with the #Paghman hashtag appearing all over the Afghan Twittersphere.

Afghanistan-born British MP Rohullah Yakobi tweeted that the reason behind the family’s silence was “protecting their honor”.


Related Topics:

Veteran Who Raped and Murdered Iraqi Family Commits Suicide*

U.S. Rape and Sodomy of Iraqi Women and Children*

Five Life Sentences for Rape*

U.S. Policies, ‘Invading Contagious Aliens’ and Why Carolina and Daughters Walked 1,500 miles to Escape Rape*

300 Rapes Reported in UK Schools in Three Years*

Rape in India Gains Its Rightful Status*

Is Society Ready to Penalize Rape?

A Fly-kick Saves a Woman from Being Raped*

Czech Republic: Sex Offenders to Be Castrated

Homeschoolers Outnumber Private Schoolers in North Carolina*

Homeschoolers Outnumber Private Schoolers in North Carolina*

By Genevieve Wood

In North Carolina, the number of homeschoolers has now surpassed the number of students attending private schools.

That statistic may seem shocking if you’ve been a stranger to the growth of the homeschooling movement, which has rapidly increased in recent decades.

In 1973, there were approximately 13,000 children, ages 5 to 17, being homeschooled in the United States. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of the 2011-2012 school year, that number has grown to almost 1.8 million or approximately 3.4% of the school age population. Other sources report numbers well over 2 million.

In the Tar Heel state alone, homeschooling has increased by 27% over the past two years.

Those are pretty impressive numbers for a movement considered “fringe” not that long ago and that has only been legal in all 50 states since 1996.

So, why are more parents making the choice to homeschool? As with many decisions, it’s rarely one single factor. The Department of Education, which surely isn’t happy with the trend, has tracked the issue since 2003. According to its findings:

  • In 2003, 85% of parents said they chose homeschooling because of “a concern about the school environment” which included worry about safety, drugs or negative peer pressure. That number jumped to 91 percent by 2011.
  • In 2003, 72% said “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction” was a major reason. In 2011, that number had increased to 77%.
  • In 2003, 68% said “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools” contributed to their decision. By 2011, that was up to 74%.

And my guess is when the figures are reported related to the past two years you’ll see the number of parents citing “dissatisfaction with academic instruction” spike with the growing uprising against Common Core and national standards. Those who run local homeschooling groups in North Carolina say Common Core is a big factor.

Naturally, those representing the public education establishment don’t find homeschooling up to their standards. The National Education Association, the country’s largest teacher’s union, declared in a 2011 resolution:

“The National Education Association believes that homeschooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.”


Related Topics:

Seven Children Removed from Parents for Being Homeschooled*

Easing Homeschoolers out of Employment*

Homeschooled 16-year Old Graduates from High School and College in the Same Week*

Record Number of Parents Turn to Homeschooling*

Occupy World: Mother Who Refused to Pay Home Schooling Fine is Released*

Home- Schooling Beats Factory Schooling

Ten Homeschooled Children Will Be College Students Aged 12*

Family that Homeschooled their Children Harassed from Germany to France, the US and Back Again*

NWO: UK Effectively Bans Homeschooling*

Activists Continue to Block the Israeli Cargo Ship*

Activists Continue to Block the Israeli Cargo Ship*

By Roqayah Chamseddine

There is no question as to how immensely successful the Block the Boat protest at the Port of Oakland, led by Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and arranged with the help of countless organizations, was. Unless you are a supporter of Israel or a journalist at the Oakland Tribune. Thousands of protesters, including an estimated 5,000 who marched on the Port of Oakland on August 16, prevented the Zim Piraeus from unloading by keeping workers from crossing their picket line to enter the port for a historic four days, making it “the longest blockade of an Israeli ship” according to AROC.

The Oakland Tribune, Haaretz, and a number of other outlets, reported that the Israeli-owned Zim Piraeus unloaded its cargo after “delays” but after speaking to a number of distributors whose cargo was being transported by Zim Piraeus I found this to be unmistakably false and misleading.

According to a document from PIERS, a database of US international trade which provides maritime logistics, at least 23 companies are clearly listed as having goods aboard Zim Piraeus – ranging from cucumber pickles and sparkling wine to ceramic tiles and solar swimming pool heaters – with some goods originating in Israel. Though building materials and agricultural produce were listed by PIERS it should be noted that Zim Integrated Shipping Services imports ammunition “manufactured by Israel Manufacturing Industries by Federal Cartridge (Federal Premium Ammunition)” which makes defense ammunition used by U.S. law enforcement and has a weapons contract with the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Premium Ammunition is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, which produces Bushmaster autocannons used by U.S. forces and NATO, the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (an air-to-surface missile), Hellfire missile upgrades, and provides other weapons services to the US military and allies. The import report for Zim shows that the ammunitions originated in Israel, at the Port of Haifa and arrived at the Port of Savannah in Georgia.

Zim’s first ship, the Kedmah, was purchased in 1947, before the creation of the State of Israel, and would carry thousand of immigrants to Palestine. In 1948 Zim ships would carry arms and ammunition used to carry out the Nakba, and according to a video published online by Zim Integrated Shipping Services “Zim would play this crucial role every time Israel faced conflict.” Ze’ev Shind, a key Mossad activist who would become managing director of Zim Israel Navigation Co., president of the American-Israel Shipping Co., and Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Defense was the organizers and principal figures organizing immigration to Palestine, according to The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. The role of Zim in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is well documented, even by Zim sources.

Esteson Co., a direct food and beverage importer and distributor in California, posted on their Facebook page that their “garlic is now rotting on its way to Russia to be offloaded unto (sic) another vessel,” and when contacted for comment it was mentioned that a container of Zeos beer never arrived due to the Port action. All in all, Esteson Co. has not received any of their products as of September 3.

Good Stuff Distributors, located in San Francisco, California, told Al-Akhbar English that not only did they not receive their shipment of Zadona cucumber pickles as of September 3 they do not know where the cargo is and are still waiting to hear from Zadona as to where the items are. A spokesperson for Good Stuff Distributors informed Al-Akhbar English that not only were they unaware of Zim’s ties to Israel they have made it clear to Zadona, of Sinokrot Food Company, that they are to “find another vessel” as Good Stuff Distributors will no longer be using Zim.

Alfa Omega Co., which has trading partners in France, Spain and Greece, disclosed to Al-Akhbar English that their business was “greatly affected”, as they did not receive any of their products, including olives. The spokesperson was clearly unhappy, stating that the targeting of Zim by the Block the Boat protesters, specifically, is the reason that they will now look for another vessel to use for their products, despite having worked with Zim “for years”.

The sales and marketing manager at Carmichael International Service, a customs broker and freight forwarder with laminated glass aboard Zim Piraeus, told Al-Akhbar English that customers did not receive their products as of September 3, but it was due to “delays” and “port congestion,” which is undoubtedly a brazen spin on what transpired at the Port of Oakland. When examining the vessel schedule for the Zim Piraeus, dating back to July and after August 20, we find that there are no analogous delays as there was in Oakland as the vessels usually left the same day or a day after, unlike at the Port of Oakland where the “delay” was at least four days long.

Cynara Worldwide Sourcing Inc., located in Fresno, California, said that all products on the Zim Piraeus were not only never unloaded but that they were sent to Shanghai and they wouldn’t receive them until at least the end of the month. As a result of Block the Boat, the spokesperson told Al-Akhbar English that they have put an immediate halt to “everything on Zim” and will now be looking for other vessels they can use.

The most curious case in regards to Block the Boat is that of American Metals and Chemicals, located in Hollywood, Florida. A representative told Al-Akhbar English that they did not receive their shipment of alkyl sulfonic acid, and that the cargo was diverted to Russia. When asked who they were contacted by the representative stated that a letter was delivered from an attorney’s office, though they could not find the letter at the time of the phonecall so as to disclose which office. The letter stated, in part, that their shipment was “turned away because of the strike” at the Port of Oakland. There was also a follow up telephone call from the same office, letting them know that their products were being diverted.

The remaining consignees listed as having cargo delivered to the Port of Oakland by the Zim Piraeus during the Block the Boat campaign were contacted by Al-Akhbar English but did not immediately return calls for comment on the whereabouts of their goods – based on what was revealed by the 6 companies that did supply information it is not difficult to assume that they faced comparable circumstances. Regardless, Block the Boat was not only successful in keeping the Zim Piraeus from unloading the aforementioned cargo but due specifically to this action a number of companies are now either putting a hold on all products using Zim vessels or reconsidering using Zim, which is not only contrary to what the media has reported but an impressive achievement for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.


Related Topics:

US activists to block Israeli cargo arriving at West Coast Ports*

Block the Boat Stops Israeli Zim from Docking*

Jordan Decides to Buy Palestinian Gas from Israel*

Global Pathocracy*

Why has Abbas Refused to sign the Rome Statute?

Consciousness the Last Stand*

Why has Abbas Refused to sign the Rome Statute?

Why has Abbas Refused to sign the Rome Statute?*

By Dr Daud Abdullah

This is the question that is etched on everyone’s mind. If there is only one issue that Palestinians agree upon today it is the need for President Mahmoud Abbas to sign the Rome Statute. That would clear the way to file charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

By stalling the process Abbas has committed three cardinal errors. First, he has enabled Israelis to escape punishment; second, he has undermined and squandered the international support for Palestinian rights; and third, he has failed to answer to the call of the ICC and the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) issued one year after Palestine became a non-member state of the UN.

On 27 November 2013 the ASP to the Rome Statute adopted a resolution inviting “States not yet parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to become parties to the Rome Statute, as amended, as soon as possible.”

In an obvious attempt to clear the air once and for all, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wrote on the Guardian’s Comment is Free pages an article headed “The truth about the ICC and Gaza”. She confirmed that “Palestine could now join the Rome Statute” after the UN General Assembly had formally recognised it as a non-member state on 29 November 2012.

As it stands, the onus is squarely upon Abbas personally. In a letter to the Paris-based legal firm Gilles Devers & Associes, which is acting on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Bensouda said on 14 August,

“In accordance with article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), only the Head of State, Head of Government and Minister of Foreign Affairs are considered lawful representatives of a State by virtue of their functions and without having to produce full powers, for the purpose of expressing a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty.”

Despite the overwhelming support among Palestinians, the Director-General of the human rights organisation Al Haq, Shawan Jabarin, explained that in the past the PA had deferred its signing of the Rome Statute because it was unwilling to anger Israel, America and some European countries. At other times it claimed that it was awaiting the agreement of the Palestinian factions, particularly Hamas. Abbas insisted that the resistance movement should give a written undertaking of support to approach the ICC, acknowledging that it bears full national and international responsibility for the consequences.

In late August, Hamas duly signed the document as stipulated but still no steps have been taken to sign the Rome Statute. With this agreement from Hamas it seemed that Abbas would have no further excuse for not putting his signature to the document. All that is needed is a formal letter from the Palestinian president to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announcing that Palestine has accepted the Statute.

So, could it be that Mahmoud Abbas is himself afraid that he could be prosecuted? That may be so. This is a constant ploy used against him. In April of this year at the International Criminal Court (ICC), an Israeli lawyer, Mordechai Tzivin, lodged a complaint against Abbas and nine members of Hamas for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression. This did not deter Hamas from signing the agreement. On 3 September, The Israel Law Centre announced that it had formally requested the ICC’s prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes committed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal during “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s brutal military attack against the civilians of the Gaza Strip.

According to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s jurisdiction includes individuals who are citizens of a state that has ratified the treaty, individuals who commit their alleged crimes on the territory of a state party and cases referred to the ICC by demand of the UN Security Council. While the ICC’s chief prosecutor may under article 15 initiate investigations against those who have committed serious crimes without a formal request from a state or a concerned party, the PA does not have the luxury of time to wait for this to happen.

For Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, signing up to the Rome Statute has been long overdue. While they have no illusions that it will bring an immediate end to their suffering and Israeli crimes, it would mark a major step towards that end. Currently, many Israeli officials will only travel to Europe if they are granted special diplomatic immunity from prosecution under Universal Jurisdiction Laws. The long arm of the law is finally catching up with them but, as Mary Robinson, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, once said,

“The ICC will work when you, the eyes and the ears of the international community, observe, defend, report and inform the rest of the world about what is happening.”

For the Palestinians, it will work when their president, Mahmoud Abbas, overcomes his deep-rooted fears and places the interest of his people above all else.


Related Topics:

ICC Chief Prosecutor Invites Palestine to File a Complaint against Israel*

Palestine: For the Love of Freedom!

ICC Chief Prosecutor Invites Palestine to File a Complaint against Israel*

ICC Chief Prosecutor Invites Palestine to File a Complaint against Israel*

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include “Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America,” and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.”

NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

Related Topics:

And Whose Side is the Palestinian Authority on?

Belgian Palestinians to File for War Crimes Committed by Israel*

Pro-boycott Israel Call for World Action*

Calls to Prosecute Foreigners Who Volunteered for Operation Protective Edge*

Israel a Slave to its Shadow Self Breaks Ceasefire Again…

While Waging War on Gaza Israel Expands Settlement Construction on West Bank and Jerusalem*

Operation Protective Edge: The Dead Have Names*

Operation Protective Edge: Life without Water and Electricity*

Not in our Name: 225 Jewish Survivors of Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel*