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Am 7. und 8. Juni 2015 findet im Luxushotel Schloß Elmau in der Nähe von Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bayern das G7-Gipfeltreffen statt. Die G7 stehen für Krieg, Militarisierung, Zerstörung der Umwelt, Sozialabbau und rassistische Ausgrenzung. Bei dem Treffen handelt es sich um ein jährliches informelles Forum der Staats- und Regierungschefs der mächtigsten Industrieländer. Wir beteiligen uns im Rahmen des Berliner Bündnisses Stop G7 an der Mobilisierung gegen den G7-Gipfel. Bei unserem Tresen im Mai wollen wir die ökonomische und militärische Rolle der G7 im globalen Kapitalismus darstellen. Die Funktion der G7 und die Veränderungen in den ökonomischen Kräfteverhältnissen werden ebenfalls thematisiert. Außerdem gibt es aktuelle Informationen zu den geplanten Protesten gegen das Gipfeltreffen und der Arbeit des Berliner Bündnisses. Im Anschluss zeigen wir einen Klassiker der globalisierungskritischen Bewegung: »Der vierte Weltkrieg«. Der Film präsentiert mit beeindruckenden Bildern den Widerstand verschiedener sozialer Bewegungen gegen den Kapitalismus, unter anderem in Mexiko, Südkorea und Argentinien..
Die BUKO Tour kommt nach Dresden! Im Rahmen dessen wollen wir euch einladen mit den internationalen Aktivist*innen und Referent*innen ins Gespräch zu kommen, die beleuchten, warum der transnationale Widerstand gegen die G7 Staaten so notwendig ist. Dabei wird diskutiert wie die Politik der G7 Staaten zur Aufrechterhaltung der globalen Ungleichgewichte beiträgt und alternative Bestrebungen und Veränderungsansätze lähmt. Solidarische Diskussionen sollen Süd-Süd und Süd-Nord-Vernetzungen stärken und uns den Fragen nach gemeinsamen Kämpfen näher bringen. Dresden Postkolonial lädt ein, um die Aktivist*innen und ihre Perspektiven zu hören, denn diese kritischen Stimmen sind in der momentanen rassistischen Stimmung in Dresden wichtiger denn je. Themenschwerpunkte der Veranstaltungen sind u.a. Freihandel, Migration und Flucht und außerdem die Mobilisierung zum G7 Gipfel nach Elmau.
15 – 16.30 Uhr Vortrag “Freihandel ist nicht neu! Folgen von 20 Jahren NAFTA & Co. in Mexiko”
Referent: Magdiel Sánchez Quiroz, Kinder- und Jugendhaus LOUISE
Magdiel Sánchez Quiroz ist ein mexikanischer Aktivist, der sich u.a. beim Ständigen Tribunal der Völker/ Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos (TPP) engagiert. Das TPP hatte in Mexiko 2011 seine Arbeit aufgenommen und stellt eine Art zivilgesellschaftliches Gewissenstribunal in öffentlichen Anhörungen dar, das versucht die verheerenden Folgen von Freihandelspolitik, Drogenkrieg, Gewalt und Verletzung der Völkerrechte durch Staat und Unternehmen zu beleuchten. In seinem Vortrag wird Sánchez insbesondere auf die Folgen des Freihandel auf die Gesellschaft eingehen und über die Ergebnisse des Tribunals berichten.
17.30 – 20 Uhr Straßenaktion Jorge-Gomondai-Platz
Buntes Programm mit Redebeiträgen von verschiedenen Referierenden (der Buko) rund um G7 mit den Themenschwerpunkten Freihandel, Kapitalistische Klimapolitik, Landraub, Militarisierung und Migration und Flucht sowie mit verschiedenen Initiativen aus Dresden, Mitmachaktionen und Musik – Der Gipfel ruft, wir kommen alle!
20.00 Uhr „Hurria!“ – Projekttheater Dresden
Der tunesische Künstler und Aktivist Riadh Ben Ammar setzt sich in seinem Theaterstück “Hurria!”, arabisch “Freiheit”, mit der vielschichtigen Kämpfen für (Bewegungs-)Freiheit im Zuge der tunesischen Revolution 2011 auseinander.
Am 14. Januar 2011 fand in Tunesien eine Revolution statt. Danach haben viele junge Menschen das Land verlassen. Tausende sind als Flüchtlinge in Lampedusa gelandet. Damals sagte der deutsche Innenminister Thomas de Maizière, dass die Menschen erkennen müssten, dass sie nach Tunesien gehören würden. Sie sollten dort bleiben und ihr Land aufbauen. Auch Angela Merkel äußerte sich ähnlich: Sie stellte es als eine Selbstverständlichkeit dar, dass „nicht alle Menschen nach Europa kommen können, die nicht in Tunesien leben wollen“. Das Theaterstück versteht sich als eine Antwort auf solche Aussagen. Es thematisiert die vielfältigen Wege der Freiheitssuche, die mit der Revolution eine neue Qualität bekommen haben. Denn neben dem Kampf gegen die Diktatur war die Revolution auch ein Kampf gegen das europäische Migrationsregime. Hurria! fragt, wie die Probleme der Nordafrikaner*innen mit der europäischen Migrationskontrolle zusammenhängen, also auch, was europäischen Tourist*innen in Tunis, Frontex, Abschiebungen und religiöser Fundamentalismus miteinander zu tun haben.
Riadh Ben Ammar, 40, kam vor 15 Jahren selbst als Harraga (arabisch: wörtlich „Grenzverbrenner_in“; irreguläre_r Migrant_in) von Tunesien nach Deutschland, wo er zunächst jahrelang in einem Flüchtlingslager lebte. Heute ist er bei Afrique-Europe-Interact und No Border Tunis aktiv.
Eintritt 3,-€, Refugees Frei
17.00 Uhr Stadtrundgang Dresden Postkolonial – Jorge-Gomondai-Platz
Wir beschäftigen uns bei diesem Stadtrundgang mit den Spuren der kolonialen und postkolonialen Vergangenheit in Dresden. Der Stadtrundgang wird dabei einen besonderen Fokus auf wirtschaftliche Auswirkungen und das Wirken von G7 legen.
19.30 Uhr Filmvorführung „Das Weltgericht von Bamako“ – Thalia Dresden
… mit anschließendem Podium mit Dr. Miguel Angel Ruiz Martinez und Dresden Postkolonial
Der französisch-us-amerikanisch-malische Film von Abderrahmane Sissako (2006) handelt von einem fiktiven Prozess der afrikanischen Zivilgesellschaft gegen die Weltbank und den Internationalen Währungsfonds und spielt in Malis Hauptstadt Bamako.
Eintritt 1 – 3 €, Refugees frei
Jena. Das Blackkitchen lädt ein zum gemeinsamen Schmaus und Umtrunk in den lauschigen Garten der Insel.
Am 20.05 und 27.05 werden wir jeweils ab 19:00 eine Solidaritätsveranstaltung für die Proteste in den Alpen durchführen. Euch erwartet ein leckeres veganes Essen, ein Soli-Tresen und aktuelle Informationen.
Am 7. und 8. Juni 2015 trifft sich die „Gruppe der Sieben“ (G7) auf Schloss Elmau in den bayerischen Alpen. Dort wollen die Staats- und Regierungschef*innen Deutschlands, der USA, Japans, Großbritanniens, Frankreichs, Italiens und Kanadas über Außen- und Kriegspolitik, Weltwirtschaft, Klima und „Entwicklung“ beratschlagen. Die Repräsentant*innen der reichsten und mächtigsten Staaten der Welt erheben den Anspruch, über die Geschicke der gesamten Welt zu entscheiden, ohne eine Legitimation dafür zu haben. Die Politik der G7-Staaten bedeutet neoliberale Wirtschaftspolitik, Krieg und Militarisierung, Ausbeutung, Armut und Hunger, Umweltzerstörung und Abschottung gegenüber Flüchtenden.
Unser Ziel ist dies zu verhindern oder wenigstens zu stören, mit vielfältigen und kreativen, offenen und entschlossenen Aktionen, mit Demonstrationen, Blockaden und Versammlungen und dem Gegengipfel in München.
Das Blackkitchen ist eine Aktionsküche, welche sich zur Verpflegung der Gipfelproteste in Jena gegründet hat und vor Ort (Elmau/Garmisch Alpen) für die Aktionscamps kochen wird. Wir werden dabei für eine sehr große Anzahl an DemonstrantInnen kochen und suchen aktuell auch noch nach weiterer Unterstützung. Da auch ein großer finanzieller Aufwand mit dieser Versorgung verbunden ist freuen wir uns selbstverständlich auch überentsprechende Spenden.
In der Infoveranstaltung bekommt ihr letzte Informationen zu:
Kritik am Gipfel
Unser Plan ist auch, diese Aktionsküchenstruktur weiterzuführen und auch in Zukunft für politische Kämpfe zu kochen.
Kommt vorbei und bringt eure Freund_innen mit!
Hier eine kleine Zusammenfassung der 4. Aktionskonferenz in München.
In mehreren Arbeitsgruppen wurde konstruktiv und intensiv mögliche Strategien entwickelt und Ideen ausgetauscht sowie sich vernetzt, um den Widerstand gegen das illegitime Treffen der sieben selbsternannten führenden Wirtschaftsnationen im Bayerischen Elmau vorzubereiten.
Es wurden die Route der Großdemonstration in Garmisch-Partenkirchen am 6. Juni diskutiert und vorgestellt. Geplant und angemeldet ist derzeit eine Route vom Zentrum durch Garmisch bis zum östlichen Ortsrand auf der B2. Beginn ist 14.30 am Bahnhofsvorplatz. Die Redebeiträge sollen je ca. 5-7 Minuten kurz sein, dafür von mehreren Redenden gehalten werden und das breite Spektrum des Bündnisses abdecken.
Aktionstage rund um Elmau –
Samstag 6. Juni Demonstration in Garmisch
Sonntag 7. Juni wird es einen Sternmarsch beginnend jeweils um 8.00 Uhr nach Elmau über folgenden verschiedenen Routen geben:
1. Per Fahrrad- und Autokorso von Garmisch-Partenkirchen auf der B2 nach Klais und dann weiter wie Route 4.
2. Garmisch Partenkirchen nach Elmau über den Gasthof Partnachklamm.
3. Garmisch Partenkirchen nach Elmau über den Berggasthof Wamberg nach Elmau.
4. Klais über die Mautstraße nach Elmau. Treffpunkt ist der Bahnhof Klais.
5. Mittenwald am Lautersee vorbei nach Elmau. Treffpunkt: Bahnhof Mittenwald
Ziel ist es, an den beiden Tagen 6. und 7. Juni möglichst effektiv den Gipfel oder dessen Infrastruktur zu blockieren. Die Blockaden sind für eine breite Masse ausgelegt. Leute, die an den Blockaden teilnehmen möchten, sollten sich vorher möglichst über die Blockadestrategien informieren und idealerweise an Blocadetrainings teilnehmen – sofern noch nicht geschehen (Achtet auf entsprechende Ankündigungen!). Ferner muss jedeR damit rechnen, dass die Blockade 24 h dauern können und sollen. Dementsprechend denkt daran, Schlafsäcke, Verpflegung und Medikamente für diese Zeit mitzuführen. Die Orte der Blockaden werden an dieser Stelle natürlich verständlicherweise noch nicht veröffentlicht.
Mittlerweile konnte von einem privaten Eigentümer in der Gegend einer Wiese für die Dauer der Proteste gepachtet werden. Die reicht schätzungsweise für ca. 1000 Campierende. Das reicht noch lange nicht, für alle anreisende Aktivist_innen. Wichtig ist nun, in den nächsten 6 Wochen noch weitere Flächen zu finden. Die Tourismuszentrale Garmisch hat übrigens verlautbart, dass derzeit noch 30% der Übernachtungsmöglichkeiten noch nicht ausgebucht sind.:-)
Der Aktionskonsens (http://www.stop-g7-elmau.info/aktionen/aktionskonsens/) wurde bekräftigt.
Am Sonntag gab es noch eine Pressekonferenz
It was on Monday, April 27th 2015, 11-13 / Conference Room C, UN, New York
Organized by IALANA and INES
US nuclear weapons as well as British and French still remain on the European continent. How can these stockpiles be included in efforts of disarmament, how can Europe become a nuclear weapons free zone? Nuclear sharing, for example in Germany, contradicts the NPT, yet it is reality.
Chair: Kristine Karch (No to War – No to NATO, Germany)
This past weekend, activists from Japan to France, Germany to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Guam gathered in NYC, in solidarity with people around the globe to demand a nuclear-free, peaceful, just, and sustainable world. (See photos from the weekend here!)
On Sunday, we were 7,500 people strong at the Union Square Rally, encouraged and moved to strengthen our work by such leaders as Reiner Braun, Leslie Cagan, Reverend Dr. Daughtry, and Daniel Ellsberg. There was standing room only for the beautiful and inspiring Interfaith Convocation at the UN Church Center, and Karipbek Kuyukov and Rimma Velikanova led the NYC Global Wave, joined in a creative and moving demonstration, waving goodbye to nukes in NYC and around the world. (Tweet your photos to @PeaceAndPlanet @GlobalWave2015; we use #NoNukes #NPTRevCon #70Years #ConnectingTheStruggles!)
Our march to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from the United Nations, was spirited, with strong represenation from the Mobilization’s over 350 endorsing organizations and led by Hibakusha, who courageously, and a number in wheelchairs, held in for the two mile walk.
The Drummers for Peace of Japan welcomed the marchers to the Festival, where Mayor Matsui Kazumi (Hiroshima), Takakusaki Hiroshi (Gensuikyo), and Jackie Cabasso, Joseph Gerson, and Kevin Martin (Peace & Planet) delivered nearly eight million petition signatures to Taous Feroukhi (Chair of the NPT Review Conference) and Angela Kane (UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs). Ambassador Feroukhi referenced this strong expression of the will of the people during her opening remarks on Monday at the NPT Review Conference, showing us that as we raise our efforts and voices, they will carry into the halls of power.
Thanks to the talents of nearly a dozen performers, we had a wonderful lineup of music and entertainment throughout the afternoon, bringing celebration and art to the work that we do together.
Througout the Conference, our speakers, workshops, and conversations centered around the great challenges to peace and the planet, and concrete ways to strengthen and connect our movements and struggles for a better, more just and peaceful world. Click here to watch all three of the Plenaries, as well as Workshops by Daniel Ellsberg and Global Hibakusha.
The Peace & Planet Mobilization has renewed our strength to demand a nculear-free, peace, just, and sustainable world. Let us carry with us the testimonies of the Hibakushas, and the wisdom of those who experience firsthand the brutality of power that is blind to the sacredness of humanity and this planet. Let us feel encouraged by and build on relationships and connections as we forge them, and by the energy and creativity of a new generation rising for a better world.
In solidarity and peace, and on behalf of the International Planning Group for the Peace & Planet Mobilization,
Disarmament Associate, American Friends Service Committee
Last March, John T. Booker, a 20-year-old from Kansas, checked himself into a mental health facility for evaluation. Now, a year later, he faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — the fake bomb that he was provided by undercover FBI informants.
Booker was arrested earlier this month in an alleged plot to attack a Kansas military base. Booker, who had reportedly been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had publicly expressed violent and extremist views for roughly a year before FBI agents induced him to commit a criminal act that would land him behind bars.
In the United States today, individuals who make statements that could be construed as advocating violent extremism — even those who have mental health issues — often become the targets of law enforcement officials whose priority is putting people in prison, not helping them change course. Recognizing the shortcomings of such government efforts, new grassroots initiatives have emerged that seek to empower Muslim communities, rather than subject them to intensified intelligence and law enforcement scrutiny.
The “Safe Spaces Initiative,” launched by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, came into being after a series of cases perceived as government entrapment of troubled youth in the Muslim-American community. “The program was inspired by the case of Mohamed Mohamud, the purported Portland bomber,” said Alejandro Beutel, who helps run the program. “He was a 19-year-old kid who came from a broken home, had substance abuse and mental health issues. He started saying some things which alarmed his father, who then called the FBI.”
“But the FBI didn’t ‘help’ Mohamud,” Beutel said. “They introduced him to an informant who aggressively pushed him even further in a negative direction, ensuring that he would spend the next several decades of his life behind bars. If his father had gone to the community, and if they had the tools and confidence to deal with troubled youth like this, Mohamud might not have had his life destroyed as it was.”
It’s a pattern that has been repeated hundreds of times over the past decade: the FBI “foils” a terror plot, except the would-be terrorist’s only conspiracy is with government informants.
“There’s a perception among counterterrorism agents that they need to be producing something — they’re under pressure from above, and they start to feel like they’re better safe than sorry by locking troubled people up if there’s no other real option out there,” said Mubin Shaikh, who worked as an undercover agent for the Canadian Security Intelligence Services in several terrorism cases, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in the psychology of radicalization. “Part of the reason that 14 years after 9/11 we don’t have a handle on this problem is that we continue to focus almost exclusively on things like ideology and religion, instead of grappling with more complex questions about community engagement, mental health, and how aggressive foreign policies inevitably generate terrorism,” Shaikh told The Intercept.
One of the major aims of Safe Spaces is to help communities understand their legal rights and ability to discuss politically sensitive issues without fear of government retribution. In the post-9/11 era, an endemic problem within Western Muslim communities has been the paranoia and suspicion generated by informants and other forms of surveillance, which have made people hesitant to engage with individuals perceived to exhibit anti-social behaviors. “People are so scared of the possibility of the FBI breathing down their neck, they just kick anyone expressing troubling views out of the mosque,” said Beutel.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who would eventually plant bombs at the Boston Marathon, was ejected from his local Boston mosque the year before the attack for making anti-American political statements. An attendee of his mosque who spoke with The Intercept suggested that the pervasive fear of government agent provocateurs among the congregation led many to choose disengagement from people who expressed troubling views, rather than trying to work with them to sway their opinions.
“Our goal is to treat Muslim communities like any other communities, not as something unique. We treat this as a public health program, not so-called ‘countering extremism’ in a way which stigmatizes an entire group within society,” said Beutel.
A 2014 Human Rights Watch report found that the FBI now maintains a network of 15,000 confidential informants throughout the country, the greatest number at any time in its history. As FBI Director James Comey recently commented, the agency has “investigations of people in various states of radicalizing in all 50 states.”
Harsh police tactics like mass surveillance and entrapment — widely viewed as discriminatory toward the most vulnerable members of the Muslim community — may also have the counterproductive effect of alienating Muslim minorities domestically. “Not all sting operations are created equal. Some can be employed in legitimate investigations,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “But those cases which involve mentally ill people — or people who would have otherwise been unable to mount an attack on their own — create a sense in the community that they are being unfairly targeted.”
While criticizing these tactics, Patel is also cautious of “soft” intervention programs, which often come under the banner of “countering violent extremism.” “I am most troubled by programs that seek to identify at-risk individuals, particularly when schools are involved,” Patel said. “The risks of making mistakes are very high given that there is no consensus as to the indicators of someone who is going to become a terrorist.”
Approaches taken in Europe have had mixed results in dealing this issue. A program in Denmark has achieved positive results by seeking to rehabilitate returned foreign fighters and other individuals perceived to have been radicalized. Programs such as Prevent and Channel in the United Kingdom — which attempt to identify individuals at risk of radicalization and recommend either law enforcement intervention or the help of social services — have been more controversial, generating charges of McCarthyism from local Muslim communities.
Safe Spaces takes a different approach. “We need to provide guidance to communities about how to deal with law enforcement,” Beutel said. “The FBI are not our friends, but we are taxpayers, so to some degree we are their bosses. They have to be responsive to us.”
Shaikh, the former undercover agent, said he is in favor of sting operations in certain cases, but critical of the singularly punitive approach authorities generally take when dealing with individuals, particularly young people, who are suspected of being radicalized.
“Heavy-handed tactics don’t work,” he said. “The fact is that for many people, there needs to be a third option between locking them up in jail and just doing nothing if they might be a danger to themselves or others.”
Photo: Chris Hawley/AP
The post Avoiding the Sting: U.S. Organization Proposes Different Approach to “Radicalization” appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Only weeks before Freddie Gray’s death while in custody of Baltimore police, cops from around the state filled a committee hearing room in Annapolis to aggressively lobby against a wave of reform bills aimed at increasing police accountability in Maryland. The police won: every bill to make it easier to investigate and prosecute police misconduct went down to defeat, leaving the state’s extraordinarily cop-friendly laws in place. (It’s a measure of the egregious circumstances of Grey’s death and the public outcry afterward that six police officers have nevertheless been indicted.)
Civil rights advocates say they were heavily outgunned — metaphorically — by the police.
Police unions play a significant role in Maryland politics, from campaign endorsements to influence peddling. According to public records, the largest police associations, including the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, donated $1,834,680 to state politicians over the last decade and retained several of most prominent lobbyists in the state.
The Maryland State FOP organized its members to show up in force during the hearing on the police reform bills. The Facebook page for the group shows officers packing the legislative room when the reform bills were debated.
“It was not a level playing field, we’re not the FOP, we don’t have the same type of strong relationship with the delegates, the state legislators,” said Farajii Muhammad, one of the organizers of the reform effort.
“Our people said that the committee leadership was worried about the police reaction,” explained Thomas Nephew, an activist with the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, who was present at the March 12th hearing. “One of the legislative leaders said something like, if these bills go through, the cops will riot in the streets, which really tells you something.”
The police were simply more organized and had better relationships with the lawmakers, Nephew said.
A coalition including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the ACLU, the NAACP and members of Maryland’s faith community pushed for changes to the “Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights,” a law that critics say sets a standard that makes investigating and disciplining police misconduct nearly impossible.
“We’re still going to have this fight,” said Muhammad in an interview over the phone. Muhammad, who has organized community efforts in Freddie Gray’s neighorhood and has worked with the American Friends Service Committee, says he is working on building a diverse coalition to force discussion of the issue.
“I think it’s a shame, it’s an absolute shame, given the nature of this issue, what we’re seeing right now in Baltimore and all across this country, that in a state like Maryland, we’re still using a very old era way of thinking,” said Muhammad.
A recent report from the ACLU of Maryland found that at least 109 people died in police encounters in Maryland from 2010 to 2014.
“We’re going to put some pressure on the governor to have a special session to address these bills,” said Muhammad. Still, he said he feels that community activists have limited power in the traditional political system. Muhammad’s group does not have any registered lobbyists and does not give money to the campaigns of lawmakers.
During the hearing last March several state legislators heard stories from witnesses about police misconduct, but were not swayed. Del. Deborah Rey said reforms were unnecessary because Maryland is not comparable to Ferguson, Missouri.
The House Judiciary Committee is stacked with politicians with close ties to law enforcement.
Judiciary member Del. Brett Wilson is a prosecutor. Del. John Cluster, another member of the committee, is a retired police officer who called for a new law this year that would hire 900 additional cops in Maryland to place an armed officer in every school in the state. Custer, who was honored as the legislator of the year by the Baltimore County FOP in 2014, is also chairman of Maryland Correctional Enterprises. The MCE is a state-owned company that manages Maryland’s prison labor, a workforce that manufacturers Maryland flags and furniture for the legislature and University of Maryland, College Park.
But activists are not giving up hope.
“This tragedy has brought triumph in uniting people together, street organizations, Muslims and Christians, various neighborhoods,” said Muhammad. “There’s a new level of awareness, of consciousness right here in Baltimore.”
Photo: AP/Patrick Semansky
The post Baltimore Activists Recount How Police Unions Crushed Accountability Reforms appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
The headline on the Associated Press story is unambiguous: “AP Poll: Americans approve of drone strikes on terrorists.” And that’s true! According to the AP’s poll, 60 percent of Americans support the use of drones to “target and kill people belonging to terrorist groups like al-Qaida.”
The problem is the U.S. drone program does much more than kill members of al-Qaida: it also kills a significant number of civilians, and drone operators often don’t even know exactly whom they’re targeting. So the AP’s own poll doesn’t show, as the story claims, “broad support among the U.S. public for a targeted killing program begun under President George W. Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama.” What it does show is broad support for a drone program that doesn’t exist.
And strangely enough, if you get all the way to the story’s ninth paragraph, you learn that the AP’s own reporters have a pretty good hunch that the previous eight paragraphs were bullshit:
The poll did not include questions about foreign civilian casualties or about public confidence in the government’s assertion that the vast majority of those killed in drone strikes are terrorists. Independent groups have estimated that at least hundreds, and possibly thousands, of noncombatants have been killed in the operations, a count the U.S. government disputes.
Drone skeptics say most polls on the subject frame the question with the assumption that those targeted are terrorists, when it’s not clear that is always the case.
“Almost everyone, of course, is going to support killing people who are trying to kill us, but that’s not who we are necessarily targeting in each case,” said Sarah Kreps, an associate professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University.
Kreps examined poll data and found that if respondents are confronted with evidence of errors and civilian casualties in some drone strikes, support for the strikes drops below a majority.
The story was written by Ken Dilanian (@kendilanianap) and Emily Swanson (@el_swan). Was this their way of saying: Our pollsters are a bunch of propagandists who ask questions to elicit the answers they want? Or are they saying: Some people think we’re not asking the right question, but just we don’t care?
I invite their response, and will update the post with any I get.
The poll was conducted for the AP by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. First drone question is: “Do you favor or oppose the United States using small unmanned aircraft called ‘drones’ to target and kill people belonging to terrorist groups like al-Qaida overseas?”
We’d prefer a question like: “Do you support the U.S. government killing Americans who it claims to be involved in terrorism, without charges, trial or a lawyer?”
What questions would you propose? Post them in comments.
Illustration of Droney by Tom Tomorrow
The post AP: Americans Strongly Support Different, Imaginary Drone Program appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
The National Petroleum Council includes top executives from Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP America. It has an annual budget of $4.5 million collected from members, and pays its executive director $750,000 in salary and benefits. And it regularly “makes recommendations” to the U.S. Secretary of Energy — as in its recent report “Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Arctic Oil and Gas Resources,” which advocates changes to regulations that “are limiting Arctic exploration activity.”
So the NPC looks, walks and quacks like lobbyists. But legally it’s a “federal advisory committee,” a little-known type of organization that in appearance and often in reality provides yet another way for corporations to get what they want out of the government.
There are more than 1,000 federal advisory committees, including one about organ transplantation. The Department of Energy alone has 21 others in addition to the NPC. In theory all these federal advisory committees could provide a useful way for a range of experts and regular people to provide feedback on complex issues like the fossil fuel industry. In practice, the NPC is dominated by the industry itself. Of the NPC’s 210 members (all selected by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and his predecessor), 173, or 82 percent, are from oil and gas companies, corporations that provide them support services, and large utility consumers.
You don’t even have to be a U.S. citizen or represent a U.S. corporation so long as you’re a big enough player in the oil industry — other members include Russell Girling, Canadian CEO and president of Transcanada (the company behind the Keystone XL); Canadian president and CEO of Enbridge, Al Monaco; and Michel Bénézit of the French multinational Total S.A. Members of the financial industry, such as the managing director of JPMorgan Securities, have a seat at the table as well.
So it’s no surprise that, according to a 2004 report by the Center for Public Integrity, Dick Cheney led an NPC committee that pushed for shielding energy company information from FOIA when he was an NPC member and Halliburton CEO during the 1990s. During Cheney’s time there, the council also published a report recommending opening up federal lands in the Rocky Mountains for drilling. By mid-2003, with Cheney in the White House, leasing regulations were indeed lifted and thousands of new wells surveyed.
And while the NPC categorizes its remaining 37 members as “Non-Industry and Not-for-Profit,” they tend to be people like John Deutch — who’s not just the MIT chemistry professor that the NPC lists him as, but also the former head of the CIA. The very few who might be skeptical of the fossil fuel industry’s agenda include Conservation International co-founder Peter Seligmann, Conservation Fund founder Patrick Noonan, and Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins. However, their brands of environmentalism have long included partnering with large, polluting corporations, and Seligmann, Noonan and Lovins did not respond to requests to discuss their involvement with the NPC.
The Energy Department’s other advisory committees include a coal council, a nuclear committee, one committed to ultra-deepwater drilling and another to “unconventional” extraction technology like fracking. Although an Energy Department spokesperson pointed out a few advisory committees whose work touches on efficiency and renewable issues, no single federal committee advising the agency exclusively represents a renewable industry like wind or solar the way the NPC reps big oil.
“Multiple administrations, both Democrat and Republican, for almost 70 years have found that it is useful to have this advisory committee function available to them so they can get the consensus advice of a significant and broadly represented set of industry representative,” NPC director Marshall Nichols told The Intercept when asked why the oil industry deserves this special advisory role. “You have to ask them.”
Next up: what the “Arctic Potential” report said, and why.
Photo of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz: AP/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
The post I Can’t Believe It’s Not Lobbying: The National Petroleum Council appeared first on The Intercept.
Eine große Mehrheit der Griechen will ihr Land in der Eurozone halten. 75,6 Prozent der Teilnehmer einer repräsentativen Umfrage sprachen sich für einen Verbleib in der Währungsunion aus. Knapp 62 Prozent wandten sich in der Befragung des Meinungsforschungsinstituts GPO, deren Ergebnisse am Mittwochabend im griechischen Fernsehsender Mega präsentiert wurden, zudem gegen eine Volksabstimmung über eine mögliche Einigung mit den Geldgebern.
Regierungschef Alexis Tsipras hatte ein Referendum nicht ausgeschlossen, falls die Geldgeber weiter auf harten Sparmaßnahmen für Athen bestehen sollten. Der größte Teil der Bevölkerung befürwortet laut der Umfrage die Verhandlungstaktik seiner Regierung – die Zustimmung sinkt jedoch: Anfang Februar hatten noch
Die Spionageaffäre um den BND und den US-Geheimdienst NSA weitet sich aus und bringt die Bundesregierung zunehmend in Erklärungsnot gegenüber europäischen Partnern. Nach Berichten der Süddeutsche Zeitung, des NDR und des WDR nutzte die NSA die Abhörstation des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND) in Bad Aibling zum Ausspähen hochrangiger Beamter des französischen Außenministeriums, des Präsidentenpalastes in Paris und der EU-Kommission in Brüssel.
In Regierungskreisen wird der Affäre nach Informationen der Deutschen Presse-Agentur inzwischen eine große politische Dimension zugemessen. Personelle Konsequenzen von Verantwortlichen bei BND und Regierung wurden nicht ausgeschlossen.
Vor einer Woche waren erste Vorwürfe ans Licht gekommen, wonach der BND der NSA über
By the time the blinds were raised at 6:23pm on April 29, 2014, to show Clayton Lockett strapped to the gurney and positioned to die, there was a lot that witnesses in Oklahoma’s death house had not seen.
They did not see how, for nearly an hour, a paramedic and physician tried and failed to insert an IV line into various parts of Lockett’s body, including his neck and feet.
They did not see how, after he was punctured some 14 to 16 times, Lockett’s pants and underwear were cut off so that the doctor could clumsily inject the IV into his femoral vein, near his groin, using a needle too small for the task. Nor did witnesses see the IV, which the warden chose to cover with a blanket to protect his genitals from view, but also in the name of “dignity.”
They did not see the makeshift rope that had been found earlier that day inside Lockett’s holding cell, or the lacerations on Lockett’s arms where he had slashed himself with a razor. Or the prison task force that came for Lockett early that morning, forcing their way into his blood-stained cell after he tried to block the door and subduing him with a TASER.
But what witnesses would see once Lockett was finally displayed before them was a human experiment — the first execution in the state using 100 milligrams of a new drug, midazolam, to kick off its three-part cocktail. It would go terribly wrong. As the drugs started flowing, and after he had already been deemed unconscious, Lockett jerked his head, and began to writhe and moan. “Oh my God,” Warden Anita Trammel later recalled thinking. “He’s coming out of this. It’s not working.” In the overflow room where others watched on a TV monitor, “It was like a horror movie,” one official told The Guardian. “He kept trying to talk.” Witnesses heard Lockett say things like, “something is wrong,” and “the drugs aren’t working” and “this shit is fucking with my mind.” After nine minutes, the blinds were hastily closed. The blanket was lifted to reveal that the drugs were seeping into the tissue of his inner thigh instead of his veins, causing his skin to swell.
Officials debated whether they should keep trying to kill Lockett or else try to save his life. They called the governor’s office. They decided to halt the proceeding. But then, just after 7 o’clock, Clayton Lockett finally died.
On his death certificate: “Judicially Ordered Execution.”
On Wednesday, April 29, exactly one year after Lockett’s grisly death, Oklahoma Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick rose confidently before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the way his state kills prisoners. Not that he should have to, he suggested. It is “a matter of fact” that 500 milligrams of midazolam will “with near certainty” render a person “unconscious and unable to feel pain” during a lethal injection. A district court in Oklahoma has said so. So have multiple Florida courts. It was up to prisoners to prove otherwise.
The case at hand was Glossip v. Gross, filed on behalf of four other men on Oklahoma’s death row, one of whom, Charles Warner, was executed just one week before the Court took the case. (His last words were reported as “My body is on fire.”) The petitioners were challenging the use of midazolam in lethal injections as cruel and unusual punishment. Not because of trouble with the way it is administered — even messy ordeals like Lockett’s don’t represent a “substantial risk” of tortuous or lingering death, the Court found in Baze v. Rees, which upheld lethal injection in 2008. (“An isolated mishap alone does not violate the Eighth Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the 7-2 plurality opinion.) Rather, as federal public defender Robin Konrad told the justices on Wednesday, midazolam itself lacks the critical properties to “maintain the deep coma-like unconsciousness” that Baze deemed necessary for a humane lethal injection. Lockett’s death – and at least two others – have demonstrated this.
Lethal injection was originally designed to work in three parts. The first drug, traditionally a barbiturate called sodium thiopental, anesthetized the prisoner. The second, pancoronium bromide, induced paralysis. And the third, potassium chloride, stopped the heart. The first drug was particularly important: absent a proper dose of sodium thiopental, the effects of the second and third drugs would be indisputably excruciating, akin to being burned alive.
But soon after this protocol was upheld in Baze, sodium thiopental began to dry up, in part due to activist pressure on international suppliers. Death penalty states desperately sought new sources for the drug, then looked to replace it. Before long, states across the country were experimenting with protocols — and moving further and further away from the method approved by the Court. In the meantime, prisoners were being executed — sometimes quite tortuously — with drugs that were expired, adopted in secret, and acquired in violation of federal law.
Today, the three-drug protocol that prevailed in Baze is obsolete. Most states have moved on to single-drug executions using the barbiturate pentobarbital — but that drug, too, is now in short supply. Oklahoma’s protocol, borrowed from Florida, was designed, at least on the surface, to mimic the original lethal injection design — the second two drugs remain the same. But midazolam is a benzodiazipane, not a barbiturate — an entirely different class of drug. The former is most commonly used as an anti-anxiety medication, to treat insomnia, or as a sedative during minor operations. During oral arguments, even Justices Alito and Antonin Scalia seemed to grudgingly acknowledge that midazolam is far from an ideal substitute.
That the Court again found itself discussing lethal injection at all seemed to irritate the judges. Justice Samuel Alito blamed “a guerrilla war against the death penalty.” Activists have made it “impossible for the States to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain,” he complained. “And so the States are reduced to using drugs like this one.” Justice Scalia, too, inveighed against abolitionists for making it “impossible to get the 100 percent sure drugs,” referring to sodium thiopental and pentobarbital. “I guess I would be more inclined to find that [midolazam] was intolerable if there was even some doubt about this drug when there was a perfectly safe other drug available,” he said. In other words, the lack of good alternatives might just make midolazom good enough in his book.
But there is ample evidence to show that midazolam is far from good enough. Never has it been used as a sole anesthetic during painful procedures. As 16 professors of pharmacology wrote in an amicus brief to the Court, “Midazolam is incapable of rendering an inmate unconscious prior to the injection of the second and third drugs in the State of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol.”
The state offered precious little proof to the contrary. Its own brief relied on the expertise of a certified pharmacist named Dr. Roswell Lee Evans, a man who has never administered midazolam, but who, at Oklahoma’s behest after an investigation into Lockett’s execution, calculated that 500 milligrams of the drugs should be enough to kill a person. He then “extrapolated” that logically, somewhere along the way, the drug would surely cause a person to fall into a coma, which would then shield a prisoner from pain.
“But his evidence for this was zero,” Justice Steven Breyer protested, cutting to the heart of the matter. Indeed, Dr. Evans arrived at his conclusions through a vague combination of expertise, hunches and research on websites like Drugs.com. (That site warns it is “not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.”)
Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed particularly disgusted by the state’s lack of evidence, at one point interrupting Solicitor General Wyrick to say that she was “substantially disturbed” by the inconsistencies she found between the state’s claims and the evidence used to support them. “Nothing you say or read to me am I going to believe, frankly,” she said, “until I see…with my own eyes the context. Okay?”
Wyrick tried to explain away the holes in his case by reiterating that it is up to the prisoners, not the state, to prove the only “constitutionally relevant” question: whether midazolam has “a ceiling effect that kicks in before we get to a level where [prisoners are] unconscious and unaware of the pain.” No one seems to know exactly where that ceiling lies. So while the state concedes that there is a possibility that midazolam will wear off mid-execution, it argues that this does not mean it definitely will. This level of uncertainty over midazolam is apparently not too high for Oklahoma to stop killing people with it.
Justice Elena Kagan found the logic galling. If it’s true that experiencing the effects of potassium chloride is “like being burned alive,” she said, then this is like telling someone, “We’re going to burn you at the stake, but before we do, we’re going to use an anesthetic of completely unknown properties and unknown effects. Maybe you won’t feel it, maybe you will. We just can’t tell.”
“That isn’t the world we live in,” Wyrick responded.
In the world outside the Court on Wednesday afternoon, just hours after oral arguments ended, the muckraking website Oklahoma Watch broke news of a letter from a drug company named Akorn, which had supplied the midozalam used to kill Clayton Lockett. The letter was addressed to the Oklahoma Attorney General, who was in Washington that day. The date was March 4, 2015, mere weeks after the Court had agreed to review Glossip. The letter demanded that Oklahoma return its supply of midazolam “for a full refund” and included a line printed in italics and bold: “Akorn strongly objects to the use of its products in capital punishment.” Whether Oklahoma ever returned the drugs is unclear, Oklahoma Watch reported. What is clear is that the state spent the morning defending midazolam as perfectly appropriate for lethal injections, while knowing that at least one of its own suppliers disagrees. “Even the FDA label indicates that induction of anesthesia is a commonly accepted use” for midazolam, Wyrick told the court. In its letter, Akorn called using midazolam in lethal injection “clearly contradictory” to its intended, FDA-approved use.
Other states have received the same request from Akorn, including Arizona, where a man named Joseph Wood took a horrific two hours to die last summer, after being injected with 750 milligrams of midazalom. The letter to Arizona, also dated March 4, was obtained through open records requests by The Arizona Republic and reported less than a week before oral arguments in Glossip. The question before the justices, reporter Michael Kiefer wrote, “may be moot if Oklahoma and Arizona and the other two states that use midazolam can no longer procure it.”
As many states hold off on executions while they wait for a decision from the Court, it is difficult to guess which way the Court will rule. Justice Anthony Kennedy, understood to be the critical swing voter, was mostly silent during oral arguments. Regardless, any ruling in Glossip is widely assumed to have limited reach, if not a limited shelf life. Of the 13 executions so far in 2015, only two have been carried out using the midozolam three-drug protocol.
In Florida, which pioneered the use of midazolam — and which Oklahoma lauded for its “impressive track record” — a guest editorial appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Wednesday. In it, anesthesiologist Michael C. Lewis urged readers not to buy the “myth of Florida’s perfect executions,” calling attention to an aspect of lethal injection that seems to have been forgotten in the debate over midazolam.
“Although the safety and efficacy of midazolam is the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court case,” he wrote, “it’s the next drug in Florida’s protocol that concerns me most: the paralytic which prevents the prisoner from showing distress.”
Lewis called the paralytic “terrifying.” It was originally incorporated into the three-drug protocol by the inventor of lethal injection, an Oklahoma forensic pathologist named Jay Chapman, who wished to mask the ugly visual evidence associated with murder. (Now 75, Chapman told The Guardian on the eve of Glossip that he is ambivalent about the death penalty.) But the paralytic also meant that, for years, witnesses could not necessarily tell if something was going wrong with an execution. Prisoners would be frozen, even while suffering immensely. Sometimes, the evidence would only be revealed in an autopsy.
The narrative at the Supreme Court on Wednesday was that we used to have reliable lethal injection drugs. But in reality, as anesthesiologist Dr. Joel Zivot told Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick in advance of Glossip, “the paralyzer for a long time has been hiding…an important fact here. That these drugs don’t do even what the Supreme Court imagined that they do.”
It is an important point to keep in mind as the Court considers the future of lethal injection this time around. “The paralytic covers a lot of sins,” Zivot said. “A lot of sins. And when the paralytic is not there, the sins are revealed.”
Photo composite: Gurney: AP
The post Will the Supreme Court Look Behind the Curtain of Lethal Injection? appeared first on The Intercept.
Contrary to media accounts claiming that only 6 PEN members have objected to the group’s decision to bestow Charlie Hebdo with an award, the actual number is currently 145 PEN members (6 writers scheduled to be table heads at this year’s event have withdrawn, and the list includes writers who have served as table heads at prior events). Below is the letter drafted by several of the objecting writers, along with the current full list of signatories:
* * * * *
April 26, 2015
In March it was announced that the PEN Literary Gala, to be held May 5th
2015, would honor the magazine Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award in response to the January 7 attacks that claimed the lives of many members of its editorial staff.
It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie
Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic. What is neither clear nor inarguable
is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on
Charlie Hebdo, or what criteria, exactly were used to make that decision.
We do not believe in censoring expression. An expression of views, however
disagreeable, is certainly not to be answered by violence or murder.
However, there is a critical difference between staunchly supporting
expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding
In the aftermath of the attacks, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were
characterized as satire and “equal opportunity offense,” and the magazine
seems to be entirely sincere in its anarchic expressions of principled
disdain toward organized religion. But in an unequal society, equal
opportunity offence does not have an equal effect.
Power and prestige are elements that must be recognized in considering
almost any form of discourse, including satire. The inequities between the
person holding the pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen cannot,
and must not, be ignored.
To the section of the French population that is already marginalized,
embattled, and victimized, a population that is shaped by the legacy of
France’s various colonial enterprises, and that contains a large percentage
of devout Muslims, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet must be seen as
being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering.
Our concern is that, by bestowing the Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on Charlie Hebdo, PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression, but also valorizing selectively
offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic,
anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.
In our view, PEN America could have chosen to confer its PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award upon any of a number of
journalists and whistleblowers who have risked, and sometimes lost, their
freedom (and even their lives) in service of the greater good.
PEN is an essential organization in the global battle for freedom of
expression. It is therefore particularly disheartening to see that PEN
America has chosen to honor the work and mission of Charlie Hebdo above
those who not only exemplify the principles of free expression, but whose
courage, even when provocative or discomfiting, has also been fastidiously
exercised for the good of humanity.
We the undersigned, as writers, thinkers, and members of PEN, therefore
respectfully wish to disassociate ourselves from PEN America’s decision to
give the 2015 Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.
Charles Ramírez Berg
Ami Sands Brodoff
Karen Brown Brooks
Emily M. Danforth
Brent Hayes Edwards
Brian T. Edwards
Hedi El Kholti
Jennifer Cody Epstein
Marlon L. Fick
Peter H. Fogtdal
Linda Nemec Foster
Jonathan T. Hine Jr.
T. Geronimo Johnson
Uzma Aslam Khan
Robert Spencer Knotts
Ruth Ellen Kocher
C. M. Mayo
James McGrath Morris
Joyce Carol Oates
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Alexis M. Smith
Emily Gray Tedrowe
Roy A. Teel Jr.
Jasmine Dreame Wagner
G. K. Wuori
The post 145 PEN Writers (Thus Far) Have Objected to the Charlie Hedbo Award – Not Just 6 appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Demonstrators in the streets of Baltimore are calling for police reform and economic revitalization in their city, but Washington isn’t listening.
Lawmakers have had other things on their mind, namely rewarding their donors by increasing spending on defense. This week, Congress moved to increase spending on weapons programs by $3 billion beyond what the Pentagon requested.
On Monday, the House Armed Services Committee, in what Politico described as “a clear win for defense contractors,” unveiled legislation to boost defense spending to “$117 billion — $3 billion higher than the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget request.” Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a member of the committee, has demanded increased military spending, telling Reuters earlier this year, “It doesn’t do any good to be financially responsible if you’re dead, so I’m going to vote for it to protect national security.”
Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office cast increased doubt on the F-35 fighter jet program, noting that the weapons system still faces critical engine and software problems. The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in American history, with some estimates projecting that the jet will eventually cost taxpayers some $1.45 trillion.
But like other defense contractors, the manufacturers behind the F-35, including Lockheed Martin, are big players when it comes to campaign spending and lobbying. And the House Armed Services Committee spending plan released this week calls for even more spending on the F-35 program.
Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty
The post Turning Deaf Ear to Baltimore Protesters, Congress Moves Instead to Hike Defense Spending appeared first on The Intercept.