Meldungen (Feeds)

Social Media Fame Shields Dissidents, Until It Doesn’t

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 13/05/2016 - 22:49

The first time I spoke with Zainab al-Khawaja, in a Skype video conversation in late 2011, the Bahraini dissident explained to me that the popularity of her @angryarabiya Twitter feed — which she used to chart the violent suppression of Bahrain’s Arab Spring uprising that year — seemed to have given her a measure of protection from the authorities.

I asked why she had not been immediately arrested at a protest the week before, when she stood defiantly in front of the riot police firing tear gas at other pro-democracy protesters — an image of defiance that went viral and embarrassed the Persian Gulf monarchy, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Khawaja replied that she had overheard officers being instructed not to detain or beat her. “One officer kept telling the police, ‘Not this one,'” she recalled.

Khawaja was detained and briefly interrogated by a female police officer later that day, before being released. “I think the reason is that I am active, I am known, in the country and internationally, not to a big extent, but I have a big following on Twitter.”

“I wish that every Bahraini was protected the way I am,” she added. “Just because I’ve been speaking out on Twitter and other places doesn’t have more rights.”

Two weeks later, whatever protection Khawaja’s social-media fame might have earned her seemed to evaporate, as she was dragged away and punched on camera by police officers breaking up a small sit-in at a traffic circle outside a mall in the the capital, Manama. The incident was captured in a video clip viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, and witnessed by reporters from the New York Times. For good measure, the police also beat the activist who recorded the incident on video, and fired tear gas at witnesses in a coffee shop across the street who were not involved in the protest.

Since then, Khawaja — the daughter of the jailed founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja — has been in and out of prison. Her crimes, defined as such by Bahrain’s ruling family, include expressing her opinion about their crackdown on dissent by ripping up a photograph of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa — an act she repeated in court while on trial for doing so at a protest.

After an appeals court confirmed that conviction last October, and sentenced her to a year in jail for insulting the king, she was imprisoned in March and chose to bring her infant son with her.

The dissident’s sister, Maryam, a human rights activist who also uses Twitter to call for democracy and free speech in Bahrain, told my colleague Murtaza Hussain in March that it would take something more than a social media outcry, namely pressure from the U.S., to get her sister released.

It is true, however, that there is something of a feedback loop between social networks and the traditional media when it comes to which cases of injustice U.S. officials get asked about most frequently during briefings or visits to allies like Bahrain.

So on April 7, when Secretary of State John Kerry appeared in Bahrain next to Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, a member of the royal family who serves as the monarchy’s foreign minister, and made a tepid reference the importance of human rights, David Sanger of the New York Times asked about Khawaja.

Kerry avoided comment on her case, but Bahrain’s foreign minister — who has used Twitter to scold foreign correspondents and second the thoughts of Kim Kardashian — suddenly promised that Khawaja would be released into what sounded like some form of house arrest. “She will be sent to her home and to be with her family and to be… held with her child in a better surrounding,” he said. “So she will be going home. We’re looking forward to that.”

Readers familiar with Bahrain will not be surprised to learn that Khawaja remains in prison today, five weeks later.

Maryam al-Khawaja told The Intercept on Friday that after the foreign ministry released a statement this week saying her sister would be released — citing “the possibility of negative repercussions” for her young son — Zainab “had a meeting with the head of the prison she’s in, who told her that as far as they’re concerned there is no decision for release, and that the sentencing judge agrees.” The head of the prison insisted that officials there “are not obliged to follow through on statements from the foreign ministry.”

Another statement by #Bahrain foreign ministry that Zainab will be released today. Lawyer called, prison said no decision received

— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) May 9, 2016

“It seems that a more influential al-Khalifa than the foreign minister doesn’t support the release statement,” Maryam al-Khawaja observed.

Today the judge denied the implementation of punishment in #Bahrain an intention to release the #Zainab_Alkhawaja pic.twitter.com/1tskFxyedU

— Free ZainabAlKhawaja (@free___zainab) May 11, 2016

In the meantime, as the social media campaign to keep Khawaja’s name on the minds of journalists and U.S. officials continues, far less attention has been paid to senior members of Bahrain’s political opposition languishing in jail who are less well-known online. Neither Kerry nor the foreign minister was asked, for instance, about Khawaja’s father, who was given a life sentence for helping to lead pro-democracy street protests in 2011, or about Ibrahim Sharif, a veteran political activist who was convicted of “inciting hatred” by calling for democracy and full civil rights for all citizens in a speech last year.

It is also striking that the international attention to Khawaja’s case, intermittent and only occasionally effective as it has been, stands in contrast to the fate of thousands of other dissidents with lower profiles on social media who are currently in detention in countries that are also allied to the U.S., like Egypt or Pakistan.

A sad and compelling example is the effort to draw attention to the disappearance of Zeenat Shehzadi, a young Pakistani journalist who documented her own life, and her country’s struggles, using Facebook and Twitter. Shehzadi also used social networking to engage in a form of activism, by helping the family of an Indian man — who went missing in Pakistan in 2012 — file a complaint against the authorities over his secret detention.

As Saba Eitizaz of the BBC’s Urdu-language news service reported this week:

Before her abduction, the 24-year-old journalist had been working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari who went missing in Pakistan in November 2012. Through social media, she managed to get in touch with Hamid’s mother in Mumbai and filed a missing person’s petition in court on her behalf.

She played an important role in encouraging a government commission on enforced disappearances to investigate his case. As a result, security agencies admitted to the commission that Hamid was in their custody.

As a young freelancer who worked for local news outlets in Lahore, Shehzadi had no national prominence in Pakistan. Kiran Nazish, a Pakistani journalist, told The Intercept by email that when reporters there “do not have international connections, they become more vulnerable. When they vanish no one reports on them and then no one ever hears from them.”

Last August, just days before Shehzadi was scheduled to testify about the Ansari case to Pakistan’s Commission for the Enquiry of Enforced Disappearances, witnesses said that two cars blocked the rickshaw she was using to get to work in the city of Lahore, and she was abducted by armed men.

Now, as Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper has reported, the same commission is working to find out which branch of the security forces took Shehzadi from the street in broad daylight, and what happened to her.

According to the commission, set up by Pakistan’s government to look for people widely suspected of having been kidnapped by branches of the security forces, more than 3,000 people have been reported missing, and there is still no information in at least 1,300 of those cases, including that of Shehzadi.

Hina Jilani, a celebrated human rights lawyer, told Dawn that Shehzadi “was working on a case openly and in courts, and if there is suspicion of her spying then the State agencies should tell the family.”

In an interview with the BBC, Jilani added, “We are convinced that this is the work of the secret government agencies, because when someone is detained by them, the police can be quite helpless, and we have seen that in this case.”

Beena Sarwar, a Pakistani journalist and blogger who has tried to draw attention to Shehzadi’s case online, noted recently that the story got little attention in Pakistan until March, when her younger brother took his own life, apparently in despair at his sister’s unknown fate.

Zeenat Shehzadi missing since Aug2015, was trying to help Indian #HamidAnsari in Pakistan. Now her brother is dead https://t.co/GVldZ7Slqt

— beena sarwar (@beenasarwar) March 25, 2016

As the Pakistani rights activist and journalist Sana Saleem reported for Global Voices, however, the BBC Urdu report did prompt at least some journalists and politicians in Pakistan to raise Shehzadi’s case on their social networks.

Matiullah Jan, a justice correspondent and television host, criticized the failure of the commission on disappearances.

The Supreme Court and #MissingPersonCommission have been a miserable failure in many cases of missing persons incl #ZeenatShahzadi a Journo

— Matiullah Jan (@Matiullahjan919) May 11, 2016

Wasay Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a political party, and the columnist Tanveer Arain, also embraced the hashtag #FreeZeenat.

Why you have to pay the price in #Pakistan when you raise your voice on any injustice?? #ZeenatShahzadi #FreeZeenat

— Wasay Jalil (@WasayJalil) May 11, 2016

#FreeZeenat
Appeal to @BBhuttoZardari @CMShehbaz @a_siab @WasayJalil @hrw @UNHumanRights @ifjasiapacific pic.twitter.com/lZiqaAFdxI

— Tanveer Arain (@tanvirarain) May 11, 2016

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The post Social Media Fame Shields Dissidents, Until It Doesn’t appeared first on The Intercept.

How the High Cost of Justice Pushes the Poor into Prison

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 13/05/2016 - 22:02

In the American justice system, there’s often an assumption that if you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you. But thousands of Americans arriving in court each year over family disputes, domestic violence, eviction, foreclosure, denied wages, discrimination on the job, and an array of other civil issues have no right to counsel. If they can’t afford a lawyer, they’re on their own to face a system that is often confusing and riddled with fees. For poorer citizens, the cost of seeking justice often becomes so prohibitive they just give up.

Even as criminal justice reform and the reduction of mass incarceration gain support across party lines, civil rights advocates warn that the inaccessibility of the civil justice system tends to channel people into the criminal system. Those with no access to the courts are more likely to take justice in their own hands, lose homes, or face incarceration over failure to pay child support or fines they can’t afford. For some, denials of justice in civil cases can lead to crimes of survival.

A national survey published by the National Center for Access to Justice this week found that people in poverty have virtually no access to civil aid attorneys — only .64 are available per 10,000, as opposed to an average of 40 lawyers per 10,000 people in the general population. “I don’t think most people appreciate how high the stakes are in our civil justice system,” said David Udell, executive director of the group. “The justice system on the civil side has to work in order to reduce conflict. If the civil justice system doesn’t work, there is a slope that leads into the criminal justice system.”

Civil legal aid attorneys — only 6,953 out of some 1.3 million lawyers nationwide — are funded by a combination of federal, local, and private money, but with some 21 million new civil cases filed every year, a majority of poor people seeking civil legal aid are turned down.

In its 2011 decision Turner v. Rogers the Supreme Court reiterated the longstanding principle that government has no obligation to provide free legal counsel in civil matters and ruled out a publicly appointed defense for a man facing jail time over his failure to make child support payments. Yet the court also declared that states must ensure court procedures are fair to those who can’t afford representation.

That shifted the burden to the courts, tasking them with making the legal system more accessible, for example by incorporating technology to help those representing themselves and using “plain English” in legal procedures and documents, and calling on judges to explain expectations to people without a lawyer.

So far, only a handful of states have moved to eliminate barriers to civil justice: among them, California and New York have introduced computer-assisted programs for court papers that help people fill out documents by asking them questions. But for the most part, major obstacles remain for the poor. Only 12 states, for instance, require courts to inform people that they don’t have to pay court fees if they can’t afford them — fearing daunting costs, many just give up on their claims.

Unaffordable justice is not only an issue in civil matters, of course. Poor — and minority —Americans are disproportionately represented across the entire justice system. In criminal cases, the disproportion grows between jail and prison populations, as poor people jailed while they await trial are regularly unable to meet bail.

A report published earlier this week by the Prison Policy Initiative singled out high bail as the largest factor driving pretrial incarceration, noting that 37 percent of those held in jail made less, annually, than the median bail amount of $10,000. For the average jail detainee, that’s about eight months of income.

That means that while in theory justice applies equally to all Americans, in practice, the cost of liberty is far higher for the poor — leading to unnecessary detention in often overcrowded jails, causing poor defendants to miss and lose work, burdening them with “pay to stay” costs as they are charged for their own incarceration, and ultimately trapping them in a crippling cycle of debt and detention.

That’s not only senseless — it is also illegal. After the United States banned debtors’ prisons at the federal level in 1833, most states also banned the practice, yet imprisonment for nonpayment of child support, alimony, fines, traffic tickets, and other state-mandated forms of debt remains widespread. As the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, dramatically exposed, local governments across the country have often relied on tickets and fines to fund their budgets, a practice so common that the DOJ’s civil rights division recently issued a memo reminding courts of the basic constitutional principles of due process and equal protection. The memo also reminded “court leaders” that profiting off indigent defendants is illegal, and that funding government on the backs of poor citizens has a deeply damaging impact on public trust in its institutions.

Restoring trust in those institutions might start with making sure that they are truly accessible to all, and that justice, civil or criminal, is equal in practice as well as in principle.

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Bundestag erklärt Maghreb-Staaten zu sicheren Herkunftsländern

Hintergrund.de - ven, 13/05/2016 - 20:54

(13.05.2016/hg/dpa)

Das umstrittene Gesetz zur Einstufung von Tunesien, Algerien und Marokko als „sichere Herkunftsländer“ für Flüchtlinge hat die erste parlamentarische Hürde genommen. Der Bundestag billigte die Neuregelung, die auf eine starke Verkürzung der Asylverfahren abzielt, am Freitag mit breiter Mehrheit. Widerstand gab es allerdings nicht nur von der Opposition, sondern auch aus der SPD. Ob die Neuregelung im Juni im Bundesrat eine Mehrheit finden wird, ist noch offen.

Ziel des Entwurfs ist es, die Asylverfahren zu beschleunigen und Schutzsuchende aus diesen Staaten schneller zurückschicken zu können. Wer aus einem sogenannten sicheren Herkunftsstaat kommt, hat in der Regel kein Recht auf Asyl.

Bei der

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Sofortige Streichung des „Majestätsbeleidigungs“-Paragrafen im Bundesrat ohne nötige Mehrheit

Hintergrund.de - ven, 13/05/2016 - 20:54

(13.05.2016/hg/dpa)

Der Bundesrat hat einen Antrag mehrerer SPD-geführter Bundesländer abgelehnt, den Majestätsbeleidigungsparagrafen 103 des Strafgesetzbuches sofort zu streichen. Die Regierungen der Bundesländer Hamburg, Bremen, Nordrhein-Westfalen sowie Thüringen, Schleswig-Holstein und Niedersachsen hatten am Freitag im Bundesrat eine Initiative für eine sofortige und ersatzlose Streichung des Paragrafen eingebracht. Auch die Bundesregierung will die Vorschrift abschaffen, allerdings erst 2018. Damit hätte sie noch während eines Verfahrens gegen den Satiriker Jan Böhmermann wegen Beleidigung des türkischen Staatspräsidenten Bestand.

Dieser, aus Sicht der Länder nicht mehr zeitgemäße Straftatbestand stellt die Beleidigung von Organen und Vertretern ausländischer Staaten unter besondere Strafe. Die SPD-geführten Länder sehen es besonders kritisch,

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Bank Lobby Takes Aim at Last Remaining House Republican Who Backed Dodd-Frank

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 13/05/2016 - 18:16

The bank lobby is making another attempt to unseat Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., the maverick House Republican who consistently supported greater oversight of the finance industry, and is the last remaining member of the GOP caucus to have voted in favor of the Dodd-Frank reform law.

The American Bankers Association, a lobby group for the banking industry, this week used a subsidiary called the Fund for Economic Growth to pour $50,000 into campaign advertisements in support of Taylor Griffin, a candidate seeking to unseat Jones in the Republican primary on June 7.

This is the second attempt by Griffin. In 2014, Griffin left a position with Hamilton Place Strategies, a consultancy that helps Wall Street firms with political strategy, to challenge Jones. Griffin’s bid was backed by a Super PAC funded by hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, as well as funds from many major corporate political action committees, particularly from big banks such as Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Despite well-heeled support from the establishment, Griffin lost.

Campaign finance records show that banks are again fueling his primary challenge this year. PACs controlled by J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have contributed to Griffin’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures. So, too, has the American Bankers Association’s PAC, which provided the maximum donation of $5,000. Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, however, the ABA is allowed to exceed the traditional campaign donation limit by using a corporate subsidiary to spend $50,000 in support of Griffin’s campaign as an independent expenditure.

“Griffin has the experience and expertise to advocate for pro-growth economic policies in Congress that will foster job creation,” says Elizabeth Colt, a spokesperson for the American Banking Association’s FEG. “He is a proven leader with principled values.”

Jones has bucked the demands of Wall Street by opposing a number of proposals to deregulate big banks, and was the only House Republican to reject an effort last year to delay the implementation of the Volcker Rule, which bans taxpayer-backed banks from speculative trading.

Ethics records show Griffin has taken up work as a consultant to the health insurance industry, providing public relations advice over the last year to Aetna, Amerihealth, Anthem, UnitedHealth Group, Centene Corp, and Wellcare Health Plans.

Jones has also earned the ire of powerful conservative and business interest groups for criticizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for backing campaign finance reform, and for loudly condemning House Republican leadership for having cozy ties to lobbyists. Along with Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., Jones was among the very first members of Congress to call for the release of the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report, the classified section that reportedly details Saudi Arabian support for the September 11 attack.

Top Photo: Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., center.

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Interview With BDS Co-Founder Omar Barghouti: Banned by Israel From Traveling, Threatened With Worse

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 13/05/2016 - 12:50

Despite having lived in Israel for 22 years with no criminal record of any kind, Omar Barghouti (above) was this week denied the right to travel outside the country. As one of the pioneers of the increasingly powerful movement to impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment measures (BDS) on Israel, Barghouti, an articulate, English-speaking activist, has frequently traveled around the world advocating his position. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech and activism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the world leaders who traveled last year to Paris to participate in that city’s “free speech rally.”

As the husband of a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Barghouti holds a visa of permanent residency in the country, but nonetheless needs official permission to travel outside of Israel, a travel document which – until last week – had been renewed every two years. Haaretz this week reported that beyond the travel ban, Barghouti’s “residency rights in Israel are currently being reconsidered.”

The travel denial came after months of disturbing public threats directed at him by an Israeli government that has grown both more extreme and more fearful of BDS’s growing international popularity. In March, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency rights, explicitly admitting that this was in retaliation for his speech and advocacy: “he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner . . . . he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”

Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.” She added: “Israel has used this sort of control to arbitrarily ban many Palestinians from traveling, as well as to ban international human rights monitors, journalists and activists from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

But the threats to Barghouti from the Israeli Government extend far beyond his right to travel. Last month, Amnesty International issued an extraordinary warning that the group “is concerned for the safety and liberty” of Barghouti, citing threats from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. As Amnesty noted, “the term alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”

As The Intercept has regularly reported over the last year, the attempts to criminalize BDS activism – not only in Israel but internationally – is one of the greatest threats to free speech and assembly rights in the west. The threat has become particularly acute on U.S. college campuses, where official punishments for pro-Palestinian students are now routine. But obviously, the threats faced by Barghouti inside Israel are far more severe.

Regardless of one’s views on BDS and the Israeli occupation, anyone who purports to believe in basic conceptions of free speech rights should be appalled by Israeli behavior. I spoke with Barghouti yesterday about this latest Israeli attack on his core civil liberties, the growing extremism in Israel, and broader trends with free speech and BDS activism. “I am unnerved,” he told me, “but I’m certainly undeterred.” You can listen to the 25-minute discussion on the player below; a full transcript appears below that.

******

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

GLENN GREENWALD: This is Glenn Greenwald with the Intercept. And my guest today is Omar Barghouti, who is a Palestinian human rights activist and one of the co-founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, better known as BDS, which is designed to put non-violent international pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories, establish equal rights for Palestinians and accept the right to return of Palestinian refugees who fled during and after the establishment of Israel.

BDS has gained considerable international support over the last few years as the West has watched Israel expand its occupation of the West Bank, while its army kills thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And as a result of that success, BDS has come under a multi-pronged attack from Israel and its supporters around the world.

As part of that attack, this week news broke that Israel denied Barghouti an international travel permit. As a resident of Israel he is required to apply for this permit every two years to travel internationally. Human Rights Watch condemned the act “as something that appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful political activism”.

Before welcoming you I just want to say that I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the last several years who are probably subject to electronic surveillance on their telephones but I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken to someone who’s subject to as much surveillance as you are.

So with that, thanks very much for taking the time to talk with me, I really appreciate it.

Before I ask you to just talk a little bit about what happened with this travel restriction, I just want to give a little bit context and background for listeners. This didn’t really come out of nowhere; in late March Israel’s interior minister was quoted as telling a conference that he was considering revoking you residency.

He said: “I was given information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner.” He continued: “he was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”

Amnesty has said that they’re actually “concerned for your safety and liberty” and they cited a quote from the Israeli Minister of Transport and Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Yisrael Katz, who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence.

So, with that context in mind, obviously the Israeli government has become obsessed with restricting and punishing BDS leaders. Tell us about this new travel restriction that Israel has imposed on you. How did you learn about it? What is it?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Every couple of years I have to renew my Israeli travel document and without that I cannot leave or re-enter the country. Because I’m a permanent resident in Israel, I cannot leave on any other passport except the Israeli travel document.

GREENWALD: Do you have another passport?

BARGHOUTI: Yes, I have Jordanian citizenship.

GREENWALD: But in order to leave Israel, you need their permission every two years.

BARGHOUTI: Yes. On April 19th the Ministry of Interior in Acre where I live officially informed us that they will not renew my travel document therefore effectively banning me from travel. This comes as you rightly noted in the context of very heightened repression against the BDS movement, which seeks freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian citizens. So it seeks Palestinian rights under international law. But because it has become so effective of late, because support has been rising tremendously in the last couple of years, we are in a way paying the price for the success of the movement.

Many people are realizing that Israel is a regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid and are therefore taking action to hold it to account to international law. Israel is realizing that companies are abandoning their projects in Israel that violate international law, pension funds are doing the same, major artists are refusing to play Tel Aviv, as Sun City was boycotted during apartheid South Africa.

So they’re seeing this isolation growing, they can see the South Africa moment if you will. And because of that, they’ve heightened their pression, including espionage on BDS human rights defenders, whether Palestinian, Israeli or international, surveillance of course, plus those latest threats of targeted civil elimination and banning us from travel, and so on.

So we are really unnerved, I am personally quite unnerved by those threats. We take them very seriously, especially in this context. We live in a country where racism and racial incitement against indigenous Palestinians has grown tremendously into the Israeli mainstream. It has really become mainstream today to be very openly racist against Palestinians. Many settlers and hard-right wing Israelis are taking matters into their own hands – completely supported by the state – and attacking Palestinians.

So in that context I am unnerved, but I’m certainly undeterred. I shall continue my non-violent struggle for Palestinian rights under international law and nothing they can do will stop me.

GREENWALD: About the travel restrictions themselves, how long have you been receiving this travel permission? Did they give you any reason as to why in this case it was being denied? And did you have any problems in the past – from their perspective – that would justify this denial?

BARGHOUTI: No, actually I’ve been a permanent resident of Israel since 1994, so 22 years running and without any violations of the law – not even a traffic violation. So there’s nothing on my record that they can use against me.

Calling for a boycott until now is not a crime in Israel. It’s a tort – they can punish me in various ways – but it’s not a crime that they can revoke my residency right based upon. And they know that very well – they don’t stand on very strong legal grounds. So they’re looking for ways to intimidate me, to bully me, to silence me by other ways. And that doesn’t seem to be working, so now they’re working on revoking my permanent residency.

I have not had any problems in the past having my travel document renewed, for 22 years. So it’s just when BDS started to really become a very impactful, very effective movement with impressive growth and support, including among young Jewish Americans, young Jewish Brits, and so on – and that really alarms Israel – only then that they start taking such repressive, anti-democratic, draconian measures to the extreme against the movement, which is a non-violent movement, accusing us of all sorts of things.

GREENWALD: So as far as your status in Israel is concerned, and your right to travel, if I’m not mistaken you live in Israel with your wife who is an Israeli citizen, correct?

BARGHOUTI: Yes, correct, my wife is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

GREENWALD: So does that give you entitlement to stay or are they actually able to revoke your permanent residency status?

BARGHOUTI: When it comes to non-Jews – as we’re called in Israel – no-one knows what applies and what doesn’t apply. As you know there are more than 50 laws in Israel that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of the state, let alone Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza, who are non-citizens.

So, a Palestinian citizen of Israel does not get the full set of rights that a Jewish citizen gets because simply the Palestinian is not a Jewish national and only if you’re a Jewish national – whatever that means – do you get the full set of rights. This is an extra-territorial definition of nationality so Israel does not have Israeli nationality – there is no such thing.

The Supreme Court rejected that notion, the Knesset did, there is no Israeli nationality. There is Israeli citizenship but that does not entitle you to the full set of rights. So yes, my wife is an Israeli citizen and I got my permanent residency through that but what rights I’m entitled to and am not entitled to depends on the mood of the politicians and how much the courts are ready to go along with that.

GREENWALD: Let’s discuss the efforts against the BDS movement more broadly beyond Israeli borders. For a long time I think the tactic was to try and ignore BDS, to treat it as though it was so marginalized and inconsequential that it wasn’t even worth discussing or acknowledging let along taking action against. And, as you’ve suggested, as it’s become a much more widely accepted tactic, as the world watched in horror – I think one of the turning points of the last operation in Gaza that killed so many children and innocent men and women – it has become a tactic that in a lot of ways is starting to replicate, as you suggested as well, what happened in South Africa across lots of college campuses. Young American Jews who are fully now on board with BDS as a moral and necessary tactic.

And as a result you’ve starting to see more world leaders and people like Hilary Clinton denounce BDS in the most vehement terms, even equating it with antisemitism and I think most disturbing of all, actual laws are now being issued, not just in the United States but throughout Europe, to criminalize BDS and make it illegal to advocate it or engage in activism on its behalf.

Talk about what you’ve witnessed as someone who’s been in this movement from the beginning, about the changes that are underway in terms of how the response is developing toward this movement.

BARGHOUTI: I think after years of failure in stopping or even slowing down the growth of BDS and the growth of support for BDS around the world, especially in the West, Israel is resorting to its most powerful weapon if you will, which is using its influence in the US congress and through that its influence in Brussels and in the EU and so on, to criminalize BDS from above, after failing to stop it from below.

Because BDS is growing at the grassroots level – trade unions, academic unions, student groups, LGBTQ groups, women groups and so on, Israel is resorting to that attempt to de-legitimize it from above.

So as you rightly said, they’re working on passing legislation across the United States and state legislatures to criminalize BDS or to “black-list” individuals and organizations involved in BDS, reminding us of the worst days of McCarthyism. So really, Israel is fostering a new McCarthyism, and nothing less than that because it’s calling on governments that it deems friendly to punish speech, punish activism and campaigning to uphold Palestinian rights under international law.

So this is a non-violent inclusive movement that is anchored in the international declaration of human rights. It’s opposed to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. And we’re not shy about that. We’re very categorical about out opposition to all forms of racism. Because of that – not despite that – Israel is extremely worried. Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid is worried when this human rights inclusive movement is reaching out and appealing to a mass public, including many young Jewish Americans.

So it’s resorting to this new McCarthyism. In France it’s the worst, with government actually saying that calling for a boycott of Israeli products is now illegal in France. You can call for a boycott of French products in Paris and that’s ok, but not of Israeli products. Imagine the enormous hypocrisy.

GREENWALD: And people have been arrested wearing pro-BDS t-shirts in Paris.

BARGHOUTI: Exactly. The measure of repression in France is unprecedented. We have not seen anything like that. Paris has really become the capital of anti-Palestinian repression of late. Imagine – the city of freedoms , supposedly, has become the city of darkness for Palestinians.

GREENWALD: There was a huge free speech march there just over a year ago.

BARGHOUTI: We don’t see this anti-Palestinian repression as isolated. Israel is fostering this but there is a lot of repression already in the West. There’s already an attack on unions, an attack on free speech, on social justice, racial justice movements, there’s enormous militarization and securitization of society in the West .

And Israel is benefitting from this enormous homeland security and military market – it’s great business for Israel. It’s training police forces across the United States, from Ferguson to Baltimore. London police, Paris police.

GREENWALD: One of the criticisms of BDS opponents, when they hear things like what you just said, denouncing this erosion of civil liberties throughout the West including in Europe is, they say, it’s kind of ironic, maybe even hypocritical of you, as an advocate and proponent of Palestinian rights, to be critiquing civil liberties erosions in the West when throughout the Palestinian territories there certainly are no rights for LGBTs, or very few, and that there are far fewer rights for women for civil liberties in places like Gaza and certain parts of the West Bank. How do you respond to that? Is that something you address in your activism for Palestinian rights?

BARGHOUTI: Sure. As an inclusive movement, we call for equal rights for all humans, irrespective of identity. So absolutely, we oppose every form of discrimination against anyone based on any identity attribute. Now, do we have repression in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza? Absolutely.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are under Israeli military occupation so they’re suffering  denial of all rights, from freedom of movement to the right of free speech, to all kinds of rights, to the right to life in some cases, as we’ve seen in Gaza. But yes, on top of that, there is social repression, of course.

GREENWALD: Imposed by Palestinians on other Palestinians.

BARGHOUTI: Imposed by the Palestinian authority, by the authorities in Gaza and that’s yes, Palestinian repression on Palestinians. But the authority in Ramallah is buttressed, is supported entirely by western governments, by The United States, by European governments and to a large extent, by Israel.

So it’s not like the European and American funders are pushing for more democratization and free speech and civil liberties. They’re accepting the growing repression of the Palestinian authorities so long as it does the job, carrying some of the burdens of the occupation while Israel continues to colonize and ethnically cleanse and commit war crimes.

GREENWALD: You talked a little earlier about what you say now is this open racism and even supporters of Israel, people who openly self-identify as Zionist, have sounded these alarm bells about the deterioration of civic discourse on Israel, about how things that were once unthinkable or relegated to a fringe have now become mainstream.

You’re somebody who has lived in Israel since 1994, so 22 years now – how do you describe the changes in terms of what has taken place in Israel domestically? Is it something you regard as a radical departure from what has taken place or is it a natural evolution of something that was a little bit more hidden, that people were maybe a bit more polite about 20 years ago, but is now just made a bit more explicit?

BARGHOUTI: I think racism is inherent in any colonial society and Israel is no exception. As a regime of settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid, racism is not coincidental. It’s a pillar of the system. Look at how Israel treats BDS. BDS calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions to achieve Palestinian freedom, justice and equality and they see that as a major threat. But freedom, justice and equality only threaten lack of freedom, injustice and inequality. It doesn’t threaten anyone else who isn’t premised on the existence of racism.

Certainly, as you rightly said, Israel has dropped the mask. With the last elections in 2015, Israel elected its most racist government ever and we have the most racist parliament ever. The most racist Knesset ever, as Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper calls it. To the extent that, a couple of days ago the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army said that racism is growing to an extent that reminds people of 1930s Germany.  This is the Deputy Chief of Staff in Israel – this is not some nobody on the streets of London or Paris. This is an extremely important statement by one of the top generals in Israel. He is very alarmed that those symptoms of extreme racism are appearing everywhere and are becoming prevalent in Israeli society. And that is really, really scary.

On the other hand, by dropping the mask, Israel’s regime has in a way accelerated the growth of movements like ours.  Boycott has grown tremendously – I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it – we can attribute part of the success, part of the credit, for the growth and impact of BDS to the Israeli government’s far-right policies and their dropping the mask of enlightenment democracy and so on. They’re doing away with that, with the Ministry of Education instilling extreme racist notions in textbooks, with the Minister of Culture requiring Loyalty Oaths by artists who want to perform in Tel Aviv.

It’s really reaching an unprecedented level of bare racism. Racism was always there but it was always very couched, very hidden by a supposedly liberal Zionist façade that projects to the world Israeli scientific miracles and cultural miracles and whitewashing very well Israel’s deeply rooted racist colonial society.

GREENWALD: My final question is about a couple of reservations or criticisms or objections toward the BDS platform that come not from the obvious opponents of BDS but from people who are generally very sympathetic to the Palestinian cause who even are very harsh critics of Israel. A lot of the time people in that camp will say the following: “Why is it that Israel specifically should be boycotted for its human rights violations when so many other countries in the world including the United States are guilty of at least equal if not greater human rights violations and yet there’s no boycott movement for them?”

And then the other related criticism is that the platform of BDS itself – by including a right of return to Palestinians which would, if accepted, essentially result in the end of Israel as a Jewish state and is something that Israel will never ever accept – makes the BDS movement something designed to achieve a goal that can never actually be achieved and therefore, less effective.

How do you respond to those two concerns or criticisms?

BARGHOUTI: It’s funny when people on the fringe talk about effectiveness,  when Israel is fighting BDS with such immense resources  around the world, inducing governments to pass laws to fight it, using its intelligence sources to spy on citizens around the world – human rights activists involved in BDS. It’s very strange to hear anything about the effectiveness of the movement. I think that’s settled by now. Companies are abandoning Israeli projects, pension funds are abandoning Israeli projects, major churches, major academic associations across the world, especially in the US, are taking action.

GREENWALD: But when they do that, they’re doing that – at least in terms of what they’re expressing – in opposition to the occupation.

BARGHOUTI: Not just that. When you look at academic associations and trade unions, Glenn, they’ve gone way beyond that. Churches, yes, they’ve stuck to the occupation only, but when you look at Academic Associations – the American Studies Association, the Anthropological Association, Women’s Studies and so on, they’ve gone for a full academic boycott of Israel which targets all Israeli academic institutions because of their complicity in planning, implementing and whitewashing Israel’s regime of oppression.

GREENWALD: What I meant was not that their boycott is directed only at Israelis in the occupied territories but rather that their objective in supporting the boycott is not to secure right of return for the Palestinians, as they describe it, but instead is to end the occupation. Would you agree with that?

BARGHOUTI: In fact, most partners and supporters of BDS completely support the three planks in our BDS call of 2005, which is ending the occupation, ending the racial discrimination in Israel and the system of apartheid and right of return. So we’re not aware of partners who do not support the right of return as a basic UN stipulated right.

All refugees, be they Jewish refugees from World War II to refugees from Kosovo, have that right. This is in international law and Palestinians should not be excluded. It’s quite racist to say that the return of Palestinian refugees would end Israeli apartheid and that’s bad because? What is so wrong about refugees having the right to return home? If that disturbs an apartheid system that’s premised on being exclusionary and racist and that does not want to see people gain their rights, what’s the argument there?

GREENWALD: Just to be clear, the argument that I’m describing here – and by the way this isn’t my argument, I’m not advocating it, I’m simply articulating it – it’s the objection that comes not from right-wing critics of BDS but from a lot of allies and a lot of people who are long-time supporters of Palestinian rights, such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky.

The argument is not that the right of return is not justifiable, morally or ethically, in fact I think both of them – and pretty much everyone would agree with them – would say that in an ideal world Palestinians would have the right to return. Their argument is a tactical or pragmatic one: that if you allow Palestinians the right of return it would essentially mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state which in turn means that Israel will never ever agree to it. And so you’ve essentially created an unattainable goal, one that can never happen and isn’t realistic and is therefore designed not to help Palestinians, but to be this objective that is inevitably destined to fail.

BARGHOUTI: Well actually that’s a very dogmatic objection. Saying that it will never happen ignores history, ignores that major empires have collapsed in our lifetime that were thought to be invincible just years before collapsing. Who would have thought a country as powerful as the Soviet Union would collapse? Who would have thought in the 1980s that apartheid in South Africa would collapse? Who would have thought that East Timur would have autonomy when 20 years before no-one knew where East Timur was?

So it’s really quite dogmatic for people to say only when it comes to protecting Israeli apartheid you cannot question it – if you dare, Israel will bring down the house on everyone.

Israel depends tremendously on public support from the outside, from complicity from Western governments. As that erodes, as BDS grows and public support for BDS grows, and Israel gets isolated in the academic, economic, cultural and military sphere, eventually, it will have to abide by international law, and we will see dissent growing in Israel like any other colonial state.

We will not see dissent as long as the price is not high enough. When it becomes high enough we will see growing dissent and more Jewish Israelis joining the ranks of BDS so that we can both ethically shape a future together based on justice, freedom and equality.

Going back to the first point which was why target Israel and not the United States. Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a very similar argument with this issue when it was brought up about South Africa. He said certainly apartheid Africa was not by far the most evil system of oppression around, but you could not ask South Africans – the black majority – why are you fighting apartheid? If you’re sick with the flu you don’t fight another illness, you fight the sickness that you are suffering from.

The Palestinians are under an Israeli regime of oppression so naturally we have to fight this immediate oppressor. Now the fact that Israel is completely supported by the United States – sponsored, bank-rolled, protected – that doesn’t mean that we should not fight our immediate oppressor. That’s how you effectively make a change and achieve your rights.

This is not an intellectual exercise. Yes, one can call for a boycott of all governments that support Israel’s oppression – the United States and so on – but that’s intellectualism that leads to no action. If we follow Paulo Freire’s reflection and action model, that you have to reflect and then act, you’re not acting by calling for a boycott of the United States because it’s the only surviving empire. It’s invincible at this point in time, in 2016. It would be completely ridiculous to call for a boycott of the United States.

As Naomi Klein said, it would never work. Boycotts are not just intellectual exercises, they have to work. We’re not in it for fun, we’re not in it to make a point. We‘re in it to gain our freedom and rights under international law and for that we have to be very strategic.

GREENWALD: I said that would be my last question but I actually have one more – a very narrow, specific question about the news of the denial of your travel permit. Are there appeals available to you? Do you have legal recourse that you can seek in order to get the decision reversed and do you intend to do that?

BARGHOUTI: I cannot speak a lot about our legal strategy but certainly we’re exposing this around the world. We rely on action by citizens of the world, not on the governments because governments are very complicit in Israel’s regime of oppression, but Jewish Voice for Peace, US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, and other groups have started campaigning in the US against this travel ban against me. And many, many groups are working for the right to BDS. Even if you disagree with some of the tactics of BDS, on purely free speech grounds you’ve got to support our right to call for BDS.

In the United States in particular it’s protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so even the New York Times at one point defended our right to advocate for BDS while being completely against BDS.

I think Israel will face a problem that it is alienating the liberal mainstream and that will be really the final stroke in its wall to wall support in the United States.

GREENWALD: Well, there are loads of people who love to wrap themselves in the flag of free speech rights, including supporters of Israel, and hopefully those people will have the courage of their convictions that even if they don’t agree with your positions on BDS and Israel generally in the occupation, that they would nonetheless see it as highly objectionable that you should be denied the most basic right of international travel simply because the Israeli government wants to punish you for your political views or constrain you from engaging in activism internationally. And hopefully this interview will help to bring some attention to what has been done to you.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you so much Glenn.

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State Department Fails to Vet or Monitor Military Aid to Egypt

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 13/05/2016 - 00:27

The U.S isn’t sufficiently vetting the sale of weapons to the repressive government of Egypt, and doesn’t know enough about how those weapons are being used – including night vision goggles and riot control weapons.

According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, the State Department also fails to consistently conduct legally-required review of the Egyptian forces that are supplied and trained by the U.S..

The U.S. government has sent Egypt more than $6.4 billion in military aid since 2011, which has been used to purchase F-16 jets, Apache helicopters, tanks, explosives, and police equipment.

The U.S. government has bankrolled the Egyptian military for decades, propping up the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. But the aid was widely criticized after 2013, when a military coup deposed Egypt’s new democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi. To skirt a law banning aid to coup regimes, the State Department has refused to call what happened a “coup.”

After the military regime came to power, led by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, it immediately cracked down on protestors and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party of the former president. One morning that August, government forces killed 900 people. In the year that followed, the government detained at least 41,000 people, and sentenced citizens to die hundreds at a time. But U.S. aid continued.

Congress has passed several laws restricting military aid to countries that systematically violate human rights. One such law, called the “Leahy Law,” named after its sponsor in the Senate, requires the State Department to suspend military aid to any individual, unit, or country that it determines “has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

But the GAO’s new report alleges that the State Department regularly makes that certification without any justification. “While the memos declare State’s compliance with the Leahy laws,” the report says, “State [Department] officials acknowledged that there is no required process used to support the statements in the memos.”

Additionally, the report alleges that “officials with information about human rights violations in Egypt are not involved in [the] drafting” of the memos, and that the officials who normally manage Leahy vetting at the embassy “do not play a role in the development of these memos.”

The report also found that the Embassy was repeatedly failing to conduct end-use checks on weapons shipments. Between 2010 and 2015, the State Department has issued 1,280 weapons export licenses to Egypt, but it has only conducted four postshipment checks in the past five years. In one check on riot control gear – including rubber bullet cartridges and smoke grenades – the Egyptian Interior Ministry simply did not respond to the State Department’s repeated requests for information. But the State Department nonetheless closed the request as “favorable.”

The GAO also reports that the U.S. “did not complete all required vetting” for recipients of U.S. training, “prior to providing training.” Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. embassy vetted more than 5,500 individuals or units in the Egyptian security forces and rejected only 18 – far less than one percent. The State Department did not reject a single case after the military coup in 2013.

The State Department’s internal regulations require embassies to upload information on “gross human rights violations” into a computer system, so that future employees can conduct vetting. But the GAO found that since 2011, only three reports of human rights violations had been uploaded, and none since the military coup in 2013.

Under current law, 15 percent of U.S. aid to Egypt can be withheld if it doesn’t meet certain human rights conditions. There is an exemption, however, based on the U.S.’s “national security interest,” which was invoked last year to send the full amount.

Despite that fact, as my colleague Zaid Jilani reported, President Obama has proposed stripping out human rights restrictions on aid sent to Egypt.

Top Photo: Egyptian army vehicles block the access to Tahrir square in December, 2013, as Egyptian Muslim brotherhood supporters demonstrate nearby.

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Die Ära des Revisionismus (II)

German Foreign Policy - ven, 13/05/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die Beteiligung von Regierungsmitgliedern an ehrenden Gedenkveranstaltungen für NS-Kollaborateure sorgt für Auseinandersetzungen in Kroatien. Am morgigen Samstag werden bei den Erinnerungsfeierlichkeiten für Ustascha-Kämpfer, die im Mai 1945 von jugoslawischen Partisanen umgebracht wurden, mehrere kroatische Minister erwartet, darunter der Kulturminister. Dieser fördert das Ustascha-Gedenken, das von Organisationen der äußersten kroatischen Rechten stark frequentiert wird, bereits seit Jahren - und treibt zugleich die Relativierung der Verbrechen von NS-Kollaborateuren voran. Ein Film, der die Morde im kroatischen Vernichtungslager Jasenovac verharmlost, trifft bei einer wachsenden Zahl an Kroaten auf Zustimmung. Die Grundlagen für das Erstarken des kroatischen Revisionismus, das mit einer deutlichen Rechtsentwicklung verbunden ist, wurden bereits zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre gelegt - mit deutscher Unterstützung. Damals kam im sich abspaltenden Kroatien mit Franjo Tudjman ein Politiker an die Macht, der ebenfalls die Verbrechen in Jasenovac verharmloste und zugleich die Ustascha verherrlichte. Bonn half, die Sezession Kroatiens unter seiner Führung international durchzusetzen, und ebnete damit zugleich der äußersten kroatischen Rechten den Weg.

Myth of the Ferguson Effect Is Hard to Kill

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 20:58

The myth of the widely debunked “Ferguson effect” on policing is hard to kill. FBI Director James Comey once again raised the specter of the impact of protests against police brutality on police effectiveness yesterday, when he made comments suggesting that a spike in violent crime in some cities may be correlated to officers’ fear of doing their jobs because of community hostility and the growing popularity of cop watching.

“What I’m talking about is sort of the viral video effect,” Comey told reporters. “Changes in the way police may be acting and in the way communities may be acting in terms of how much information they share with police could well be at the heart of this or could well be an important factor in this.”

Comey, who in the past has spoken sensationally about a “chill wind blowing through law enforcement,” and has been widely criticized for making his allegations with zero data to back them up, was once again vague with his fear mongering. Crime experts say his alarm doesn’t square with the numbers.

Comey said yesterday he “resists” calling the phenomenon the Ferguson effect, though his message echoed his earlier stance. “The reason I resist Ferguson effect is, Ferguson at least to my recollection wasn’t about videos.” “I think it is the potential effect of marginal pullbacks by lots and lots of police officers that is changing some cities. I continue to hear that privately,” he said. “I’ve heard it in lots of conversations privately with police leaders.”

“I don’t know for sure,” he said.  “Something has happened.”

But to those that have been closely watching — and, yes, videotaping — police, that’s “nonsense.”

“If their job is hunting people, hunting black men, then yes, we made it harder for them to do their job. If their job is to be public servants, then no,” said Jacob Crawford, who moved to Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brown and has handed out hundreds of cameras to residents there and in other cities, training them on their right to document the police.

“Police now for the first time are having to consider the consequences of being brutal, being unethical, and doing things that for the longest time they could do and not be accountable for,” he added. “But that doesn’t make crime happen.” In Ferguson, he said, scrutiny of police has meant officers are now coming into a community when called for help, and that “they know better than jump out of cars and chase kids.”

Michael Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer turned advocate for police reform also questioned Comey’s assumption that less aggressive policing leads to more crime. “Comey’s position is that if the armed enforcement wing of the government takes its boot off the neck of the public, just a little, then we will just become killers,” he wrote in an email to The Intercept, citing the example of cities like New York where less aggressive policing has actually led to a decline in crime — a decline that remains unchanged despite significant protests against police violence in recent years.

The problem with the FBI director’s statements is that there is “a lack of science,” he charged. “Comey is making a claim of which there is no evidence to support, he is pushing an ideology.” After Ferguson, the FBI promised to compile data on “officer involved” incidents, but that hasn’t happened yet and lack of consistent data across police departments remains one of the largest obstacles to serious reform.

The nationwide trend in violent crime continues to point downward, as it has for the last 25 years.

Comey’s claim that an intimidated police force is at the root of growing violence is also a gross oversimplification of the multiple and complex factors that determine crime rates, which are mostly rooted in socioeconomic issues and a lack of resources and opportunity. The very cities Comey chose to single out reveal the lack of a consistent cause behind spiking crime rates. In St. Louis, where the “Ferguson effect” was supposedly born in the aftermath of protests over the police killing of Michael Brown, gun violence has been on the rise for years. In Baltimore, where 344 people were killed last year, its most violent yet, violence did spike following the protests over the death of Freddie Gray but the reasons there, according to researchers, were also more complex and deeply rooted in economic problems.

“It’s really a local problem, not a broad trend,” Ames Grawert, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice, told The Intercept, pointing to the group’s research on 2015 crime rates. “There is no evidence that crime has gone up overall.”

There are year-to-year variations, and differences between cities, but no nationwide crime epidemic and most importantly no easy explanation for the violence, he added. And while some cities are undoubtedly facing unacceptable levels of violence, the nationwide trend in violent crime continues to point downward, as it has for the last 25 years.

“The cities with more crime in the last years are cities that are already facing severe challenges,” Grawert added, citing poverty and unemployment. “If we’re going to talk about causes of crime we should be talking about that.”

Comey’s latest remarks were prompted by a private briefing on crime rates in the first quarter of 2016. “The numbers are not only going up, they’re continuing to go up, in most of those cities, faster than they were going up last year,” he said.  Comey himself acknowledged local differences yesterday. “Why does Dallas see a dramatic spike and Houston doesn’t?” he asked. “The map and the calendar makes no sense.” The FBI has not yet released the statistics Comey was briefed on.

Yet Comey’s alarmist claims that public demands for police accountability have increased violent crime may actually make the problem worse, Wood charged. “He could heed his own advice when he says that he does not know what it is,” Wood said. “This is the point where he should remind himself to not speak because his words influence the perceptions of police officers and the public, insulting both, and breaking down the public trust that is pivotal to police legitimacy, and police legitimacy is critical to police and public safety.”

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Brasilien: Präsidentin Rousseff aus dem Amt getrieben

Hintergrund.de - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 17:53

Mithilfe des Senats haben die rechten und wirtschaftsliberalen Kräfte es geschafft, Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff aus ihrem Amt und die Arbeiterpartei von der Macht zu drängen – zumindest für ein halbes Jahr –

Von REDAKTION, 12. Mai 2016 –

Brasiliens Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff muss ihr Amt vorläufig abgeben. Der brasilianische Senat stimmte am Donnerstag nach einer rund 20-stündigen Marathonsitzung mit 55 zu 22 Stimmen für eine Suspendierung Rousseffs von zunächst 180 Tagen, um mögliche Amtsverfehlungen der Präsidentin juristisch prüfen zu lassen. Nötig war eine einfache Mehrheit, es wurde aber eine Zweidrittelmehrheit erreicht. Der Präsidentin werden eigenmächtige Kreditvergaben und Bilanztricks zur Verschleierung der wahren

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Donald Trump Calls Hillary Clinton “Trigger Happy” as She Courts Neocons

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 17:02

Donald Trump derided Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy record over the weekend, a glimpse into a potential general election strategy of casting Clinton as the more likely of the two to take the nation to war.

Just moments after maligning Syrian refugees at a rally in Lynden, Washington, Trump pivoted into a tirade against Clinton as a warmonger.

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump told the crowd. “She is, she’s trigger happy. She’s got a bad temperament,” he said. “Her decisions in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and have totally unleashed ISIS.”

And he expressed a rarely heard appreciation for the “other side to this story,” noting: “Thousands of lives yes, for us, but probably millions of lives in all fairness, folks” for the people of the Middle East.

Trump implied that casualties inflicted by the U.S. military were far higher than reported. “They bomb a city” and “it’s obliterated, obliterated,” he said. “They’ll say nobody was killed. I’ll bet you thousands and thousands of people were killed every time you see that television set.”

“If we would’ve done nothing,” Trump argued, “we would’ve been in much better shape.”

Clinton has made herself vulnerable to this kind of criticism. She did in fact enthusiastically vote for the Iraq War. She also spearheaded the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, now supports a “no-fly zone” in Syria, and has aligned herself with Gulf State monarchies and Israel’s extremist right-wing leadership.

And yet, unlike most everything else he says, Trump’s attack on Clinton’s war record garnered remarkably little media coverage, despite representing a significant break from the traditional foreign policy dichotomy between the two parties, one that’s been building since Trump entered the race.

Of course, Trump is hardly the candidate of peace. Nor is he a credible messenger.

He’s advocated for killing the families of terrorists, endorses torture and in his tirade against Clinton he applauded Saddam Hussein for executing people without trial, saying, “He used to kill [terrorists] instantaneously. … they didn’t go through 15 years of a court case.”

And at the Washington state rally, Trump contrasted Clinton’s vote for the war in Iraq with what he claimed was his own opposition. “I voted against it except I was a civilian so nobody cared,” he said. “From the beginning I said it’s gonna destabilize the Middle East and Iran will take over Iraq.”

But as Buzzfeed reported recently, Trump did not oppose the invasion at the time; his support was “totally unambiguous.”

Trump’s isolationist posturing, however dubious it might be, has triggered a neoconservative flight from the presumptive Republican ticket while repositioning the Democrats, if led by Clinton, as the war party.

After spending the last several months casting herself as a progressive to compete with Bernie Sanders, Clinton now appears to be recalibrating to appeal to disaffected Republicans.

Clinton’s supporters, for example, are tapping Bush family megadonors for campaign cash.

And the Clinton campaign is proudly boasting a growing list, constantly updated, of establishment Republicans who have either refused to vote for Trump or have openly defected to Clinton.

Neoconservatives feature prominently on this list, including the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, Iraq war architect Elliott Abrams and Republican foreign policy advisor Max Boot. (Boot officially endorsed Clinton on Sunday.)

As Weinstein wrote in his endorsement of Clinton: “Despite his bombastic rhetoric about ‘bomb[ing] the hell’ out of ISIS, Trump has mainly articulated a ‘come home America’ non-interventionist foreign policy.” He added: “For all Hillary Clinton’s many, many domestic and foreign policy faults and failures, she has not proposed dismantling the national security infrastructure America has built up since World War II or initiating destructive trade wars.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, delivering a commencement address at Northeastern University, alluded to Trump’s flirtation with isolationism, telling the new graduates, “When you consider the range of challenges that the world is struggling with, most countries don’t lie awake at night worrying about America’s presence; they worry about what would happen in our absence.”

Available data suggests Kerry actually has it backwards. According to a 2014 WIN/Gallup poll of more than 66,000 people in 65 nations, the U.S. is viewed as the greatest threat to world peace.

Nevertheless, the myth of America as an indispensable superpower burdened with the task of leading the world to prosperity, through force if necessary, has long dominated the thinking of political elites across the ideological spectrum. Republicans have represented the more militaristic extreme. Today it’s not so clear.

“Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues,” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said on MSNBC last week. “And the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.”

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Mozilla Wants Heads-Up From FBI on Tor Browser Hack

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 16:55

The maker of the Firefox browser is wading into an increasingly contentious court battle over an undisclosed security vulnerability the FBI used to track down anonymous users of a child-porn site.

The FBI took over a dark web child-pornography site called Playpen last year and, rather than shut it down, used a secret, still-undisclosed vulnerability in the Tor Browser to install malware on the computers of more than 1,000 users that allowed the FBI to determine their locations.

But in Tacoma, Washington, lawyers for a school administrator caught in the dragnet have successfully demanded the right to review the malware in order to pursue their argument that it, rather than he, was responsible for the illicit material ending up on his computer.

The Tor Browser is a free browser that shields a user’s identity. It is also based on code from the Firefox browser.

Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, has long worried that the Tor Browser vulnerability might still be out there, could be exploited by bad actors, and could exist in Firefox, which is much more widely used than the Tor Browser.

So while it seems likely that the FBI will go to great lengths not to turn over the code – possibly dropping the case altogether – Mozilla’s top lawyer Denelle Dixon-Thayer is now arguing “that the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party.”

She explained: “Court ordered disclosure of vulnerabilities should follow the best practice of advance disclosure that is standard in the security research community. In this instance, the judge should require the government to disclose the vulnerability to the affected technology companies first, so it can be patched quickly.”

Dixon-Thayer noted that Mozilla isn’t taking sides, pro- or anti-disclosure. It just want to make sure that if there is disclosure, Mozilla gets it first. Here is the legal brief Mozilla filed on Wednesday.

The issue of when the government should disclose security vulnerabilities is a hotly contested issue outside the courtroom as well.

The Obama administration’s policy is that when the government learns of a new flaw it has to submit the flaw to an interagency group. The White House says that group has a “strong bias” toward disclosure to vendors so that they can fix them, rather than just letting the agencies keep the flaws secret and continue to use them. But the evidence suggests that is not the case.

Top photo: “Mozilla Booth” by Mozilla in Europe using CC BY 2.0, photo cropped.

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The post Mozilla Wants Heads-Up From FBI on Tor Browser Hack appeared first on The Intercept.

AfD befiehl, wir folgen Dir

Rationalgalerie - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 02:00
Wie die von der Leyen die Petry macht : Stillgestanden! Rechts um! In den nächsten Krieg: Marsch! Diese Kurzfassung des AfD-Programms in seinem Militärteil hat sich die Kriegsministerin von der Leyen – in ihrer jüngsten Erklärung zur „Verstärkung für die Truppe“ – diensteifrig zu eigen gemacht: „Im Ergebnis benötigt...

TAGESSCHAU-Gniffke zum Wording - der Schmock des Monats

Rationalgalerie - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 02:00
Unser Himmel ist nicht bedeckt, er ist bewölkt! : Atemlose Stille herrscht in der weißen Villa am Schwanenwik auf der Uhlenhorst, dem Literaturhaus in Hamburg: Dr. Gniffke, der Chefredakteur von ARD-aktuell liest aus seinem Buch „Wie Journalismus auch einfacher geht“. Er spricht über das Wording: „Ein Himmel zum Beispiel...

Krieg und Spiele

German Foreign Policy - jeu, 12/05/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die sogenannten Jugendoffiziere der Bundeswehr weiten ihre Propagandatätigkeit gegenüber Studierenden auf die ausländischen Operationsgebiete des deutschen Militärs aus. Erst kürzlich waren Angehörige der Einheit erneut im Norden Afghanistans eingesetzt, um Studenten der Universität Balkh durch das Strategiespiel "Politik und Internationale Sicherheit" (POL+IS) zu führen. Bei POL+IS handelt es sich um eine Simulation, in deren Verlauf die Teilnehmer gehalten sind, Maßnahmen der Aufstandsbekämpfung oder "Stationierungen von Truppen" vorzunehmen. Über den Verlauf des Spiels, das in den Räumlichkeiten des deutschen "Regionalkommandos" stattfand, informierte sich unter anderem der nordafghanische Provinzgouverneur Atta Mohammad Noor. Dem Politiker und Warlord, der als enger Verbündeter des Westens gilt, werden schwerste Menschenrechtsverletzungen vorgeworfen. Beobachtern zufolge waren von Noor befehligte Milizionäre nach dem Sturz des Taliban-Regimes 2001 an systematischen Vertreibungen, Vergewaltigungen und Morden beteiligt.

Vermüllte Weltmeere

Hintergrund.de - mer, 11/05/2016 - 20:53

Millionen Tonnen Plastikmüll und herrenlose Fischereinetze sind ein wachsendes Risiko für Umwelt und Gesundheit -

Von SUSANNE AIGNER,  11. Mai 2016 -

Ein Leben ohne Plastik scheint heute nicht mehr vorstellbar. Ein beträchtlicher Teil davon landet aber nach seiner Nutzung in den Weltmeeren und bleibt dort als Plastikmüll Jahre und Jahrzehnte. Hier zerfällt es in immer kleinere Teile – und schädigt als Mikroplastik das Leben von Mensch und Tier. Ein besonderes Problem sind herrenlose Fischernetze, in denen sich zahllose Meerestiere verfangen.

Plastikeimer in Pottwalmägen

Ende Januar 2016 strandeten dreizehn männliche Pottwale an der Nordseeküste. Als Wissenschaftler den Inhalt der Mägen untersuchten, waren sie schockiert,

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