Elections:

Nov. 26th, 2011 11:05 pm
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YEMEN

Yemen presidential vote set for Feb. 21; Saleh returns home



GAMBIA

Gambia's Jammeh wins disputed elections: Incumbent president in power for 17 years set to begin new five-year term after polls marred by intimidation of voters.


THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

 

Deadly clashes in DRC capital ahead of vote: At least three people killed in Kinshasa as rival campaign rallies are concluded ahead of Monday's vote

DR Congo voters: What elections mean to us: Citizens in eastern DRC tell Al Jazeera why they are looking forward to national elections on November 28.

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo - In the lead up to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second general election since independence in 1960, most analysts have raised the alarm over poor logistical arrangements as well as significant security concerns, due to the continued presence of armed groups in the eastern parts of the country.

Nevertheless, many ordinary citizens of the DRC are looking forward to the elections.

For many, the elections offer a rare opportunity to play a role in who should govern the country, and direct the next phase of their fragile democracy's development.

Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa speaks to residents of Goma and Walikale, both in the North Kivu province in the eastern DRC about why these elections means so much to them.MORe


Who's up? Profile: Joseph Kabila ... Incumbent president is credited for bringing peace but critics say he lacks political vision to lead DRC forward.

Read more... )


Profile: Etienne Tshisekedi :After three decades in politics, the veteran is widely regarded as the biggest threat to incumbent Joseph Kabila.


Read more... )

Explainer: The DRC elections...DR Congo gears up for only its second national election since independence in 1960 amid fears of violence.

Read more... )
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It's worse, because it is far more insidious than ever. You know the old saying about the frog in the boiling pot?

That's us.

It's been forever since I've had a good "bad news" round up. This platform has become something of an escape for me, you see, since the Summer in which thousands of people took to the streets protesting the current political, financial and social disparity in Israel - we forgot to take into account the underlying reason the current government has managed to shut us up and shut us out.

We are occupying another people and the Summer of so-called social change decided that that was too "political", not to do with "us" and not to do with the fact that the cost of living is practically unbearable within Israel. Because that's one thing and Israeli society is another.

Apartheid never seemed so clear.

Over the past few months, while we were resting on the laurels of actually being in the street and protesting the Men, the superficiality of (Jewish) women's equality has been steadily eroding.

Who is to blame? I mean, other than patriarchy. Of course.

Deepening religious extremism is one reason, I mean, when you have a Settler Rabbi telling soldiers should chose death rather than suffer a woman singing. You may go O_o at this little piece of News, but when you have more conservative interpretations to the Jewish adage "A woman's voice is Ervah" i.e. the sound of a woman's voice is pubic or sexual by it's very nature.

A woman is nothing but her sex, of course.

Speaking of voices, our freedom of speech has been basically been taken away, I can't tell you who you should boycott for fear of being sued for damages and now I can't call the Prime Minister, for example, a smug lying asshole, due to this abso-fucking-loutly spiffing amendment bill.

In which, and I quote the article linked above:
The bill represents an amendment to Israel's existing libel law, which would make it possible to sue a newspaper for libel, not only for commensurate compensation for any tangible damage caused by the publication, but for an additional sum of NIS 300,000 − without having to prove damages.

Emphasis mine.

Was there an emergency meeting of journalists? You bet there was.

Unsurprisingly, this bill coincides with the firing of one of Israel's few true watch dogs from public broadcasting Keren Neubach. As you can read in the link, the "reason" given? She "looks" bad on screen.
They're not even bothering any more.

Ditto on shutting down the Ramallah based radio station Palestinian-Israeli cooperative "Kol Ha'Shalom" (a play on words, as "Kol" is a Hebrew homophone for "voice" and "all").

Last night 2000 people rallied in protest of this bill.

2000. Yep, that many.

That really is the equivalent of crickets chirping.

The other bills that have been passing through the Knesset floor have been eroding civil society for years.

But wait. There's more.

The totalitarian nature of the Occupation is finally catching up with Israel proper. The non-violent demonstrations in the West Bank, exemplified by the recent Freedom Rider arrests (amazing pictures) shows the stark contrast of what is actually happening on the ground and the mindset of the average Israeli.

I mean, when the Prime Minister "shelves" the bill set out to persecute NGO's by limiting their funds, but his Foreign Minister goes ahead and does it anyway is, well, telling.

Add to that the fact that there is an all out political attack on the political science department of Negev's Ben-Gurion University, the alarm bells should be ringing off the walls.

Because when the Germans are telling the Israeli government: Um, excuse me, this is not very good and we're really sorry that we have to criticise you like this.

History repeats and really, the Germans would know.

In the meantime, my parents are watching commentary about a documentary about Steve Jobs and Apple.

I fucking hate the world.

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[personal profile] ajnabieh
I've started, for my teaching and research, keeping a publicly readable GoogleDoc on news articles, blog posts, tweets, etc on gender, women, feminism and the Arab revolutions of the past year. (Most of my links are only a month or two old, at this point in time.) I thought members of this community might find it useful! Nearly all the links are in English, though some have untranslated Arabic text in images, or untranslated Arabic audio for video clips. The links don't have annotations right now, because I don't have time--but parts of them are sorted into readings for my class, so those at least have themes.

The document is here. Enjoy--and if you have other links you think I should have, pass them on!
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Yemen women burn face veils to protest attacks

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Hundreds of Yemeni women have set fire to a pile of female face and body veils on a main street in Sanaa to protest the government's brutal crackdown against the country's popular uprising.

The act of women burning their clothing is a symbolic Bedouin tribal gesture signifying an appeal for help to tribesmen.

Wednesday's protest comes as clashes intensify between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and renegade fighters who have sided with the opposition in demands that the president step down.

Medical and local officials say up to 25 civilians, tribal fighters and government soldiers died overnight in Sanaa and the city of Taiz despite Saleh's ceasefire announcement late Tuesday.

Saleh has clung to power in the face of more than nine months of massive protests against his rule.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's president on Tuesday called in the U.S. ambassador and told him he would sign a deal to step down, a U.S. official said. The embattled leader, who has made that pledge several times before, spoke as violence shook his capital.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh informed Ambassador Gerald Feierstein of a new cease-fire, but clashes on the streets threw that into doubt. Activists said seven protesters were killed and 10 wounded.MORE
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Secret Cables: Big Pharma's Prints Cover US Foreign Policy


Among the hundreds of thousands of secret US State Department cables recently released by WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblower website, a cache reveals US diplomats defending the interests of big pharmaceutical companies, even at the risk of the hosting nation’s own public health priorities. The memos dutifully detail the many embassy meetings with local Big Pharma reps, during which US officials are presented with laundry lists of issues to raise with one or another local government ministry. Invariably the goal of the exercise is for pharma to pressure the US to pressure the host country to give favorable treatment to expensive brand name drugs, typically by preventing in-country manufacturing or marketing of far cheaper generic versions.

Separate cables show such industry profiteering tactics threatening to taint US diplomatic relations in emerging nations such as Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and India. Overall, a familiar picture emerges of a diplomatic corps if not held hostage by, at least a captive audience to, the financial interests of the biggest American pharma companies as they come into covert conflict with developing nations that quite naturally prioritize the health care of their people over the high margins that Big Pharma has come to expect. With several hundred drugs and vaccines in development to treat addiction, the scourge of hundreds of millions worldwide, the affordability and accessibility of these innovative (and, no doubt, expensive) medicines will become a pitched battle in global public health over the next decade. The outcome of the skirmishes sketched in the WikiLeaks cables will help decide whether profits or people prove victorious.

The cables by no means paint a uniform portrait of government lackeys doing industry's bidding. Many memos betray a between-the-lines irritation at pharma's monomaniacal self-interest. Still, there is a disturbing silence on the obvious moral or ethical objections to industry demands for high price, long patents, and other protections despite the cost in human lives. Only a single cable—from the outgoing US ambassador to Poland in 2009—lays bare the vast greed that drives these complex, highly technical negotiations.

The developing nations, contrary to what you might expect, in many ways hold the best cards in this political game. Emerging nations have the fastest-growing economies, the most upwardly mobile middle classes, and the biggest untapped markets in the world. And in their impressive pushback against Big Pharma, India has been the 800-pound gorilla over the past decade. A democracy with well-educated but relatively inexpensive brain power, the pharma industry views India not merely as a market but as a potential new hub of drug development and testing.

Aware of its advantage, India has played hardball, starting with its approval of local generic HIV drugs for its hundreds of thousands of citizens with the virus—a defiant challenge to Big Pharma, which had refused to discount its own brand-name AIDS drugs to affordable levels. (In the US, HIV treatment costs as much as $15,000 a year; the Indian generic knocked out knockoffs with a $350 price tag.) In addition, India’s supreme court has been fearless in shooting down foreign pharmas when they sue for patent infringement by Indian generic companies. When an emerging nation's entire legal and legislative apparatus unite to oppose industry interests, the company can either fold its hand or fold up its tent. When drug companies retaliated by boycotting India and refusing to sell new drugs there, they attracted universal opprobrium for denying sick people medicines.


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Lebanon: Empowering Migrant Workers With Language


A community of enthusiastic young people in Beirut, The Migrant Workers Task Force, are working to support foreign domestic workers in Lebanon whose living and working conditions are often desperately unfair.

The volunteer group has only been active since January 2011, but already they have managed to attract the attention of both localand international media for their innovative approach to changing the perceptions of both workers and employers. Among their main achievements are the free language courses they offer to workers learning Arabic, English, or French every Sunday.

In Lebanon, approximately one domestic worker a week dies under murky circumstances (often described as “suicide”). Eighty percent of domestic migrant workers are not allowed to leave their employer's house at all. Their plight and rights are almost universally ignored.

Migrant Workers Task Force logoInitially the task force consisted of only Alex, Lioba, Farah, Ali, and Janie and a few other members, but recently the group has been expanding. According to Janie Shen, 24, one of the co-founders (the only foreigner one who is actually still in Lebanon) the idea for the Migrant Workers Task Force was born after newcomers to Lebanon, like herself and Alex, were shocked by the conditions of migrant workers in the country - for instance, the degrading uniforms, general mistreatment, having passports confiscated, food rationed, and only one day a week off or none at all.


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Israel: Netanyahu's problematic wife: Just how a domestic helper at the Netanyahu residence broke her finger is the source of some debate.


Sara Netanyahu, 53, has a propensity for disputes with household staff. This is the third time in three years a menial worker has left her home amid accusations of mistreatment or underpayment.

“Sara-Tara” arrives with almost theatrically bad timing for the prime minister, who is striving not to appear as a member of the economic elite as Israel gears up its “March of a Million” social protesters this coming Saturday.

But the particular detail that tipped Ovadia into unbidden giggles was the extraordinary sequence of some eight consecutive press releases issued yesterday by the office of the prime minister, referred to as “a tempest of press releases” by some media outlets, as his staff toiled to contain this new scandal.

Then, following a stern warning by the attorney general that prime ministerial personnel could not be enjoined to run a public relations campaign on behalf of the first lady, at almost the same moment Kumari was fired, a privately paid spokesman for Sara Netanyahu was hired.

Kumari has worked for two years overseeing the daily welfare of Sara Netanyahu’s 96-year-old father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, without previous incident. She worked at his private residence for most of that time. In early August, after a brief hospitalization, Ben-Artzi moved in with his daughter, and with him came Kumari.

How she ended up with a broken digit remains in dispute, but the contretemps in the official residence was so loud that the prime minister, who was present in the building and chairing an inner cabinet meeting, reportedly felt obliged to interrupt the business of state several times to go see what was taking place.


Kumari told Army Radio yesterday that life in the prime minister’s official residence was like being “in jail.”

“It is very difficult for me,” she said. “I am not free, and I never go out. Even when I ask for vacation, it is not given to me. Sara says that if I go for a vacation there will be no one to care for her father.”

According to Kumari, the disagreement leading to the fracture occurred after she requested her July paycheck. She said that after she made her request, Mrs. Netanyahu ran toward her, causing her to fall and break her finger.

Ovadia stopped short of saying on the air what the entire country was tittering over, which is that Sara Netanyahu herself, personally and directly, was mismanaging yesterday’s news cycle and issuing the awkward press releases herself — a highly irregular turn of events.MORE



Apparently many people are taking Ms Netanyahu's attempts to contain the news as a joke, instead of paying attention to the serious issue of the continual mistreatment of caregivers by this woman. It pisses me the hell off. 
Related posts: Domestic Workers...are workers
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OP-ED Language Becomes a Political Weapon in Israel


TEL AVIV, Sept 1, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Speaking to the U.S. congress in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu boasted that his country is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, that it is the only place where Arabs "enjoy real democratic rights".

It's true that Palestinian citizens of Israel have some democratic rights, like the vote. But, as Netanyahu told congress: the "path of liberty is not paved by elections alone." And the summer months have seen an acceleration of worrisome anti-democratic trends.

First, the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law, a move that was widely condemned as a strike against free speech and democracy. Even some of Israel’s staunchest supporters expressed concern.

Now lawmakers have introduced a bill that proposes to change the definition of Israel as "Jewish and democratic" to "the national home of the Jewish people".

If passed, the legislation would become part of Israel's Basic Laws, which are used as a working constitution.

Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. According to Haaretz, the proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, "a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts". And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with "special status".

Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel's citizens. It has been an official language of the land since 1924, when the British mandate set three: English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Linguistic marginalisation

When the state of Israel was established in 1948, English was struck from the books. While Arabic remained an official language, it has always gotten second class treatment- as have the citizens who speak it.

Many government forms - including those for Social Security and National Insurance - come in Hebrew only. Arabic-speakers are under-represented in the public sector. So if a Palestinian citizen has weak Hebrew, he or she may be deprived of services or benefits they are legally entitled to and desperately need.

The results are sometimes devastating.
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Syria: the regime's war of attrition

The Syrian regime's response to five months of popular uprising was described by a recent report of the International Crisis Group as "slow motion suicide", resulting from a "mix of uninhibited brutality, sectarian manipulation, crude propaganda and grudging concessions".

The regime opted for a survival strategy: responding by violence and threatening the population with chaos and civil war in the event of its demise. The objective was to launch a war of attrition by playing on time to wear out any internal revolt. It chose, however, the wrong combination of brutal repression and gradual concessions. The result was a crisis of confidence which was too deep to be overcome by mere calls for national dialogue and reform.

The death toll is estimated at 2,000 civilian casualties (including more than 100 children), and 400 members of the security services. The situation has now reached a stalemate. Neither side appears to be able to defeat the other. Protests are rallying at major urban and rural centres, including Damascus and Aleppo in the last weeks. Rallies continue in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, the Idlib province, and continue to be met with massive military assaults and house to house arrests. The cities of Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor were brutally besieged by the regime's armed forces; hundreds of civilian casualties have fallen since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. In Deir ez-Zor, the regime was met with strong resistance by local tribesmen, including the leading Baqqara tribe who joined the opposition movements.

On July 17, the National Salvation conference held in Istanbul gathered 450 opposition figures who called for civil disobedience throughout the country. Tenets of regime survival quite naively assumed that they would effectively counter the historical meeting held in Damascus on June 27 by prominent opposition figures in the Semiramis Hotel of Damascus. The regime's so-called "national dialogue" conference held on July 10 included a few organic intellectuals and public figures which were carefully selected and summoned to contribute to the process of constitutional amendment and political reform. The strategy was to divide the opposition and maintain the status quo. Dialogue under repression was, however, firmly rejected by the opposition. MORE

Sigh

Aug. 12th, 2011 01:01 am
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'New' Iraq a Nightmare for Women, Minority Groups


UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9, 2011 (IPS) - A United Nations report on Iraq says the human rights situation there remains fragile, and huge development challenges loom as the country transitions out of a near decade-long conflict.

Torture and poor judicial practices are widespread, says the report, released Monday by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The report claims the 2,953 civilian deaths it attributed to violence in 2010 were mostly carried out by insurgent and terrorist groups.

It stressed that minorities, women and children suffered disproportionately from these abuses.


While there have been improvements in some areas of human rights, many challenges remain and some areas were actually worse off in 2010 than previous war-torn years.

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Honduras Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women’s Constitutional Assembly

Proposals to radically re-formulate the constitution of Honduras need to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women, declared Berta Cáceres, a longtime feminist indigenous activist and an organizer of the Constitutional Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women. The historic event, which is taking place July 10-14, 2011 in Copán Ruinas, will include indigenous and Afro women delegates from all over Honduras, said Cáceres, who is also coordinator of COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations in Honduras).

Many of these women have been front and center in the popular resistance movement against the repression following the coup d’etat in their country in June, 2009, struggling against assaults on their lands, sovereignty, natural resources and cultures. Likewise, many have been specifically targeted as leaders in these struggles with aggressive and violent assaults and detentions by police and private security forces.

Along the northern coast of Honduras, there are 48 Garifuna communities “who are suffering an accelerated expulsion from our territories that we have inhabited for 214 years,” said Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH (National Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans) in a public letter she released after being violently detained and assaulted by security forces in March, 2011 for her role as a leader in the resistance. Communal lands of the Garifuna have been subject to widespread privatization as part of massive development plans by the government and World Bank to create big tourist resorts and “model cities.” The Garifuna are matrilocal, meaning the land has been traditionally passed along matrilineal lines, so this massive assault on communal lands has hit women particularly hard (Vacanti Brondo, 2007).MORE



Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us

Final Declaration of Constituent Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women

From the rhythmic beat of powerful drums and ancient spiritual songs that echoed through the sacred ruins of the Mayan Chortí in Copan in western Honduras, the three-day event ended with hundreds of indigenous and Afro- Honduran women demanding autonomy and an end to the colonization of their lands, their bodies, their lives, and ways of doing politics.

The
Final Declaration of Copán Galel of the Self-Organized Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran women denounced the “violence, repression and domination of women operating through capitalism, patriarchy and racism,” said Berta Caceres, coordinator the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in an interview with Escribana.

Caceres was also one of the organizers of the Assembly, which took place July 11 to 13, 2011 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The Assembly involved an intensive dialogue on the realities of life of the 300 participating women whose cultures, lands, natural resources and the country have been under siege that intensified since the military coup in June 2009.

Since then, the government, the powerful elites and transnational corporations have been using the “
Shock Doctrine” (Naomi Klein) to promote a rapid re-engineering of business, economic policies and all policies before people have opportunity to react. (Http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine).

For Honduras, this has meant immediate and aggressive plans for mass-tourism projects, mega-projects such as hydroelectric dams and the expansion of mining, agribusiness and forestry, all involving the confiscation of indigenous and Afro lands.
MORE





Israel Daphne Leef:How a woman in a tent became Israel's Top Story

Until recently nobody had heard of Daphni Leef. Now, everybody in Israel knows the 25-year-old's face and her cause. Just a few weeks ago, Leef was waiting tables. Now, her schedule has become such that she cannot help keeping people waiting. This interview was meant to take place at 11am but did not start until 5pm. Among things that might have distracted her was the small matter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu putting everything on hold to respond to her demands.

Even after the interview started, we were interrupted by well-wishers, delighted to see her in the flesh sitting outside a Tel Aviv café. A young man wanted a hug; a little old lady wanted to have her picture taken with Leef. And upon hearing her voice a blind woman halted her guide dog and chatted excitedly.

So what did Leef do to bring her such national attention? She got chucked out of her flat. And then wrote on Facebook. Just over a month ago she was told that she needed to leave her Tel Aviv apartment because the building was slated for redevelopment. She started looking for a new home, and was shocked to find how expensive rents had become.

"I called up a friend and said, 'I'm setting up a tent'," she recalls. "He said I should calm down." But she did not calm down - instead she opened a Facebook "event", inviting people to erect tents in central Tel Aviv to protest against high housing prices.MORE


Dude. They profiled the originator of a protest that has seen up to 300,000 people participate....in the lifestyle section. God. DAMN.


Tunisia Tunisian women fear the Algerian way

TUNIS, Aug 5, 2011 (IPS) - A women’s group begins campaigning near La Marsa beach in Tunis to convince more women to come up and register in the electoral lists, in time for the deadline now pushed back to Aug. 14. Most of the women watching the proceedings are veiled.

The veils present more a question than a suggestion at present. One survey among veiled women conduced by journalists here claims that four in five of these women will not vote for Ennahda, the Islamist party surging ahead in popularity ahead of elections for a constituent assembly due in October.

Veils in such numbers are an unusual sight in Tunisia where women visit the beach just as comfortably in a bikini as wearing a headscarf, and just as comfortable sipping wine as a soft drink, listening to rap or traditional music.

Looks may be deceptive, one way or another. "Look around," says Khadija, an activist with the Modernist Democratic Front - a coalition of local Tunisian democratic parties - on another beachfront near the fashionable La Goulette. "Can you see these people living under Islamic law? Tunisia is not Algeria. I am sure it will never happen here."

...


Women have had successes they want to hold on to: half the candidates in the electoral lists must now be women. A strong presence of women in the constituent assembly could be crucial to women’s rights.

Women also want to consolidate the position taken by the High Commission charged to verify that the goals of the revolution are respected - namely that religion and politics will be kept separate. Ennahda has opposed this move in the transitional period. It has also opposed the transitional government’s decision that parties cannot receive funds from outside.

On another front women are fighting the undemocratic influence of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in institutions such as the media. The media gives little space to women, even though they are politically active, and many will be candidates. MORE
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MIDEAST Palestinians Prepare for Massive Uprising



BEIT UMMAR, Occupied West Bank, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS) - Leading members of the Palestinian Popular Committees in the West Bank plan massive civil unrest and disobedience against the Israeli occupation authorities come September when the Palestinians take their case for statehood to the UN.

"We plan to take to the streets en masse," Musa Abu Maria, a leading member of the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar, a town 11 km north of Hebron in the southern West Bank told IPS. "We will block entire highways leading to and from Israel’s illegal settlements. We will march on settlements. But these will be non-violent and the protestors will be peaceful.

"We have worked out creative strategies to bring the occupation increasingly to the attention of the international community and the world media. We will be coordinating with our international supporters in Europe and America to increase international recognition of the Palestinian predicament as the tide turns in our favour," added Abu Maria.

The Israeli government, intelligence agencies and security forces have been preparing for an outbreak of Palestinian protests in September as they expect the UN General Assembly to overwhelmingly endorse the Palestinian bid for independence.

The country’s security forces have been holding military drills in preparation for massive clashes. Meanwhile, the political leadership has engaged on a lightning tour of Europe trying to win the support of "quality European countries", as the Israeli government put it, to vote against Palestinian statehood.

The Israeli government is hoping that the economically and politically stronger members of the UN will side with Israel as approximately 140 UN members from "developing and Third World" countries, amongst others, are expected to vote in favour of Palestine. MORE


"Quality Europeans countries? WTF????
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Israel Erupts in Protest, Tens of Thousands Chant 'Revolution'


Approximately 30,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv last night, with social justice activists blocking central streets and chants of "Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu" filling the air.

Tel Aviv police arrested 42 activists, which is an extremely rare number, "if not unprecedented," according to +972 Magazine, which has been closely following the circumstances surrounding the sudden rise of Israel's progressive left

The protests are part of a larger movement that began as opposition to rising housing prices, and indeed is still centered around that issue, but has spread to other social justice and progressive causes.

These protests are being described as "the greatest challenge PM Netanyahu faces on the home front," and show that the progressive left in Israel has awoken.

Change in Israel may be coming.

MORE



Facebook is driving Israel's protests

But the role of Facebook is not limited to news updates. The protesters on Rothschild Boulevard hold meetings where everyone can have a say. On Facebook, one status update can provoke a flood of responses and turn into a heated public debate.

Facebook is what radio was in the early days of the state, what television was when the Iron Curtain crumbled, what the newspapers were during the Spring of Nations. The protests over the price of gas, cottage cheese and, of course, housing, would not have accelerated as they did without Facebook.

It's even possible that without this platform, where people can call for a boycott and get infinitely more exposure for their views than they would by standing in the town square, these protests would have never taken place.

These are crazy times in the virtual world of Facebook. One strand of civil action meets another, 1,000 more people join a protest and a chain reaction that began with nothing in the morning can build up into a demonstration that is thousands strong by evening.

"What's happening tonight?" a friend asks. "Go to Facebook, all the details are there," I tell her. "I told you I'm against Facebook, I want to maintain my privacy," she says. But the wall of opposition is slowly but surely cracking; "perhaps today I will join," she finally says. MORE



Massive Housing Protests Shake Israel Government Into Action Demonstrators Reject Netanyahu's Plan as Inadequate


Tel Aviv — In a speech from his office July 26, Netanyahu announced that for the first time in Israeli history, the government will give contractors incentives to build housing for long-term private rental at low rates.

Netanyahu’s speech came as 350 tents lined Tel Aviv’s fashionable Rothschild Boulevard, filled with people demonstrating against high housing prices. More than 500 protest tents were pitched elsewhere in the country. A few hours before Netanyahu’s speech, Haaretz released a poll finding that 87% of Israelis supported the protests. Three days previously, about 30,000 Israelis marched for the cause in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu put other political business on hold and tried to quell the anger.

“In Israel protests by specific groups happen daily, but this has brought in many groups and become massive,” said Ben Gurion University historian of social economics Efraim Davidi. “It is the most important protest in a generation.”

Under Netanyahu’s proposal, the government will offer free state-owned land to contractors willing to compete to build homes for long-term rental at the lowest prices. Netanyahu’s program will also offer half-price land for sale where contractors compete to promise the lowest sale price. Young couples, graduates, and people finishing military or civilian national service will have priority when these homes reach the market. MORE


Free state owned land, eh? Wonder where this land came from? Either way...I watch this development with interest...
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Israel's ban on boycotts faces legal challenge from civil rights groups

Wave of condemnation for new law forbidding citizens from promoting academic, consumer or cultural boycotts

Israeli civil rights groups have launched legal challenges to a new law that in effect bans citizens from calling for boycotts of Israeli goods, services, businesses or cultural or academic institutions.

The passing of the law late on Monday night prompted a wave of criticism and condemnation in the Israeli press, with one eminent law professor describing it as "the blackest day in Knesset [Israeli parliament] history".

Gush Shalom, an organisation that campaigns for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, filed a petition to the supreme court, saying the new law was an attempt "to silence criticism against the government's policies in general and its policies in the occupied territories in particular, and prevent an open and productive political discourse, which is the backbone of a democratic regime".
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition to the high court of justice, saying the new law was "unconstitutional and undemocratic" and set a precedent for limiting freedom of expression.

A coalition of four rights groups – Adalah, a legal rights organisation for Israeli-Arabs, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee Against Torture and the Coalition of Women for Peace – also pledged to launch a high court challenge. The new law "gives protection to the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law by penalising their opponents", the coalition said.

In defiance of the law, Peace Now launched a new campaign calling for the boycott of wine and olive oil produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
MORE
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Palestinians Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons


EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

"I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes," Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. "All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis."

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated. MORE


2010 The People Speak

GAZA CITY, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - The focus on people's movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel's separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.

In July, 2010, the United Nations IRIN news reported that roughly 39,000 Palestinian children from Gaza would not have schools to attend, following the destruction or severe damage of some 280 schools and kindergartens during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and the continued inability to repair or rebuild due to the severe Israeli-led siege on Gaza and lack of construction materials.

The UN also reports that 88 percent of UNRWA schools and 82 percent of government schools operate on a shift system as a result, still resulting in serious overcrowding. MORE


2010 Divided we Educate

Due to the endemic poverty in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children are forced on to the streets by parents who are living below the poverty level in a desperate bid to eke out a few extra dollars to help their families survive.

These children should be in school securing a better future for themselves but Israel's discriminatory education policies between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem is driving these youngsters out of school – if they are lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place.

Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Jamal Zahalka claimed earlier in the year that "educational provision for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is worse than anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria."

More than 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem do not attend school at all. The dropout rate for Palestinian school students in East Jerusalem is 50 percent, compared with about 12 percent for Jewish students.

"The rate of school dropouts, and the level of poverty amongst Palestinians in East Jerusalem, is frightening," Orly Noy from the Israeli rights group Ir Amim told IPS.

"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," adds Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

The two Israeli human rights organisations accused the Israeli authorities of deliberate discrimination in a report titled 'Failed Grade – The State of the Education System in East Jerusalem'. MORE



2009 Textbooks Become a Dream

A chronic shortage of school supplies, and severely overcrowded classrooms are crippling Gaza's educational system as tens of thousands of children begin a new school year.

Israel's hermetic sealing of the strip, as part of its blockade against Hamas, has prevented most supplies of paper, textbooks, notebooks, ink cartridges, stationery, school uniforms, school bags, and computers and their spare parts.

"Through our education system the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is spreading the message of universal respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence and tolerance in an atmosphere that since the blockade has become increasingly desperate and radicalised," says UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

"The best way for Israel to prevent us spreading that message to the 200,000 Gazan children at our schools is to block us sending in educational supplies," Gunness told IPS.MORE
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BAHRAIN Rifts Weaken Women’s Protest

MANAMA, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - Women activists in Bahrain have acknowledged their poor showing in the recent unrest as well as in efforts to fight sectarianism, and blamed it on rifts within their organisations.

Many have accused Bahraini women – with their long history of struggle and victory – of failing to leave their mark in the recent uprising in the country.

Shortly after sectarian tensions broke out in Manama in February, women activists and their societies launched at least three initiatives to bring their advocacies to the people and help improve the plight of women.

But the political agenda of other groups got mixed up with women’s causes. "Most of our societies were forced to stop all activities either because women-oriented programmes weren’t suitable then or because some members tried pushing their political agendas," a human rights activist and founder of one of Bahrain’s oldest women’s societies told IPS on condition of anonymity.

"In my own experience, we had many female members who wanted to misuse the society and its programmes in pushing for the agendas of their own political societies, which isn’t something we wanted to happen. So we froze almost all activities to protect our neutrality," she said, stressing that the same problem occurred in other groups.


....

Women took part in rallies and processions organised by opposition and pro-government groups, but their involvement was mainly as participants and not as leaders or speakers.

"Political societies have female members but they aren’t in leading positions, hence their roles were overshadowed by top male members," Al Ekri says.

He urges female activists to end their silence and grab the golden opportunity for greater women empowerment offered by the national dialogue to commence on Jul. 1 with the participation of all segments of society.

Bahrain Women’s Union led the way when it submitted on Jun. 23 the points it thought should be included in the general agenda for the talks. The Union, with 12 women’s societies as members, demanded an amendment to the outdated nationality law to give females the right to pass their nationality on to their children, just as men married to foreigners are able to. It also asked for the implementation of the second part of the Family Law to cover Shiite Shariah Court under the legislation. The current law covers only Sunni Shariah Court. MORE
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TRIGGER WARNING FOR MENTIONS OF RAPE, ABUSE ETC:

Saudi Arabian torment of migrant workers at mercy of abusive 'madams'


Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia send £17bn to families back home annually. But for some, the cost in physical and mental abuse is too high, writes Jason Burke

Shortly after dawn, as the sun rises over the hills behind the city, tens of thousands of women will wake in the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah and go to work. Maybe 14 or 16 hours later, their day will be over.

They are maids, almost all from the Philippines or Indonesia, working for £100-£200 a month. There are more than 500,000 of them in Saudi Arabia, among nearly nine million foreign workers who sweep roads, clean offices, staff coffee shops, drive the cars that women are banned from driving and provide the manpower on the vast construction projects.

The story of the maids rarely receives attention, except when a new shocking incident reveals once again the problems many of them face. Last weekend a 54-year-old Indonesian maid was beheaded by sword for killing her female boss with a cleaver. Ruyati binti Sapubi had, an Islamic court heard, endured years of abuse before finally attacking her "madam", as the maids call their employers, when denied permission to return home.

Read more... )

Recall the recent headline:UN's ILO (International Labour Organization) says that domestic workers...are workers Hopefully this new ruling will help to combat this kind of abuse.
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The Arab World’s Forgotten Rebellions: Foreign Workers and Biopolitics in the Gulf

The Arab world is undergoing a potentially world-historical transformation. The Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-imolation, following mistreatment by state authorities in late 2010, sparked a deluge of populist anger and activism that has toppled the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, soon to be followed by street demonstrations and battles across the region. At the time of this writing, Libyan rebels in alliance with a NATO coalition are battling Qaddafi and his loyalists. Bahrainis, Omanis, and Yemenis, and most recently Syrians, have taken to the streets en masse, and have been met by the bullets and security thugs–and in Bahrain’s case, Saudi troops–pressed into service by regimes desperately trying to maintain the grip on power of entrenched one-family states. The analogy has been made between these events and the Prague Spring of 1968, both with its hopes for popular challenges of illegitimate state power, and its warnings about the cunning and brutality of such power arranged against popular movements. Yet before these rebellions came others, arguably more modest in their aims and undeniably less noticed by the world media. For years, workers, predominantly South Asians, have been taking to the streets in the United Arab Emirates. What have these protests been about and why have they been ignored? How might they inform future scholarship on the Gulf?MORE
It would be enlightening I think to see the differences and similarities between the immigration debate here in the USA and whats going on in the Gulf.
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Move threatens homes of Israel's Bedouins




2010 Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel


Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved

I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund put up a big sign that reads: “GOD-TVFOREST, A Generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev.” GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: “I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs.”

The Jewish National Fund’s objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba.



MORE



June 17, 2011 Israel plans to forcibly transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens

Read more... )

March 03, 2011 Bedouin reject compensation offer, accusing Israel of land grab

Read more... )
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Violence against Women surges when war is done


Rosemary Gonzalez was murdered in 2009, the victim of a war that ended in 1996. One day, 17-year-old Rosemary said good-bye to her mother Betty, walked out of their small house on the outskirts of Guatemala City and was never seen alive again.
Rosemary and Betty lived together in the poor neighborhood of Barcenas, under the constant shadow of violence. Across Guatemala, nearly 5,000 women have been killed in the past decade, attacked for the simple fact of being women. The women of Barcenas know well this fear—they live at the epicenter of this crisis.

In Guatemala, generations of women have faced murderous violence, but at its core is war. Now, the same dynamic is emerging in Iraq.
Some description of rape and murder and torture under the cut. )
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COTE D' IVOIRE

Street battles continue in Abidjan

Heavy fighting continued on Monday in Abidjan amid an ongoing power struggle between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d'Ivoire's incumbent president, and those backing his political rival Alassane Ouattara.

Pro-Ouattara fighters were reported to have moved into the Yopougon neighbourhood held by Gbagbo loyalists. Gun battles raged near the home of army chief of staff Phillipe Mangou who has remained loyal to Gbagbo since November's presidential elections. Ouattara is internationally recognised as the winner of that vote.

The state-run RTI television station denied local reports that Mangou's house had been attacked. A spokesman for the pro-Gbagbo army, Col. Hilaire Gohourou, confirmed that the battle in Yopougon was ongoing, but refused to give any further details.MORE


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