(Photo by joanneleon. October, 2012)
“Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”
― Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear
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News and Opinion
h/t to rserven. Vigils and events listed at the link below.
International Transgender Day of RemembranceHuman Rights Watch. Note, they are referring to fully autonomous killer robots.
My grief lies all within, and these external manners of lament are merely shadows to the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul. -- William Shakespeare
The Case against Killer Robots
This 50-page report outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.
Ban ‘Killer Robots’ Before It’s Too Late
Fully Autonomous Weapons Would Increase Danger to Civilians
(Washington, DC) – Governments should pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons because of the danger they pose to civilians in armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These future weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” would be able to choose and fire on targets without human intervention.
The 50-page report, “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,” outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.
“Losing Humanity” is the first major publication about fully autonomous weapons by a nongovernmental organization and is based on extensive research into the law, technology, and ethics of these proposed weapons. It is jointly published by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.
INFOGRAPHIC: TRANS COMMUNITY FACES UNIQUE HEALTH DISPARITIES
Transgender Awareness Week continues today in the lead-up to tomorrow’s observation of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Fenway Health has developed an infographic to highlight various health inequities that transgender people experience, including lacking access to health insurance, being denied care because of their identities, and facing higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and HIV infection. View it below, or share it on Facebook or Tumblr:
Transgender Day of Remembrance events to honour murder victims in VancouverIn one article that I read recently, the use of drones for targeted assassinations and other strikes has made the description of Gaza as the "world's largest outdoor prison" an even more accurate description now. Apparently this is not a new description, it's just that I was clueless for so long, until recent years. You have to break out of the US propaganda machine to get an accurate view of what is going on.
Once a year, transgender people and their supporters come together to memorialize everyone who has been killed in transphobic violence.
On Tuesday (November 20), the name of January Marie Lapuz, who was stabbed to death in New Westminster in September, will be one of dozens read out at Transgender Day of Remembrance events around the world.
Elites Will Make Gazans of Us AllOff the rails.
Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.
Because it has the power to do so, Israel—as does the United States—flouts international law to keep a subject population in misery. The continued presence of Israeli occupation forces defies nearly a hundred U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, established in June 2007, is a brutal form of collective punishment that violates Article 33 of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention, which set up rules for the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” The blockade has turned Gaza into a sliver of hell, an Israeli-administered ghetto where thousands have died, including the 1,400 civilians killed in the Israeli incursion of 2008. With 95 percent of factories shut down, Palestinian industry has virtually ceased functioning. The remaining 5 percent operate at 25 to 50 percent capacity. Even the fishing industry is moribund. Israel refuses to let fishermen travel more than three miles from the coastline, and within the fishing zone boats frequently come under Israeli fire. The Israeli border patrols have seized 35 percent of the agricultural land in Gaza for a buffer zone. The collapsing infrastructure and Israeli seizure of aquifers mean that in many refugee camps, such as Khan Yunis, there is no running water. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) estimates that 80 percent of all Gazans now rely on food aid. And the claim of Israeli self-defense belies the fact that it is Israel that maintains an illegal occupation and violates international law by carrying out collective punishment of Palestinians. It is Israel that chose to escalate the violence when during an incursion into Gaza earlier this month its forces fatally shot a 13-year-old boy. As the world breaks down, this becomes the new paradigm—modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons murdering whole peoples. We do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
There are 47.1 million Americans who depend on food stamps to eat. The elites are plotting to take these food stamps away, along with other “entitlement” programs that keep the poor from destitution. The slashing of trillions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, given the political impasse in Washington and the looming “fiscal cliff,” now seems certain. There are 50 million people considered to be living below the poverty line, but because the poverty line is so low—$22,350 for a family of four—this figure means nothing. Add the tens of millions of Americans who live in a category called “near poverty,” including all those families attempting to live on less than $45,000 a year, and you have at least 30 percent of the country living in poverty. Once these people figure out that there is no economic recovery, that their standard of living is going to continue to drop, that they are trapped, that hope in the future is an illusion, they will become as angry as protesters in Greece and Spain or the militants in Gaza or Afghanistan. Banks and other financial corporations, handed trillions in interest-free money from the Federal Reserve, meanwhile hoard $5 trillion, much of it looted from the U.S. Treasury. The longer this worldwide disparity and inequality is perpetuated, the more the masses will revolt and the faster we will internally replicate the Israeli model of domestic control—drones overhead, all dissent criminalized, SWAT teams busting through doors, deadly force as an acceptable form of subjugation, food used as a weapon, and constant surveillance.
Instagram Photos of Smiling Soldiers Show Israel Is Now Losing Its Gaza Social Media WarIt took several days for them to realize how people were reacting to the social media campaign by the IDF. There was no real change in the level of support, or at least not that I saw. In fact more of the corporate media began reporting in a slightly more balanced way. Take CNN, for example. Arwa Damon and Anderson Cooper are now reporting from Gaza. On Friday their reporting was severely slanted toward Israel and now if you review their tweets, for example, you will see reporting about the attacks. The NYT decided to publish this story yesterday that, instead of acknowledging the reality of the situation, just made their own reality, as if it would be true if they said it was so. I see that Wolf Blitzer is now tweeting/reporting from Israel too about the rockets coming in from Gaza.
One recent IDF propaganda video—allegedly showing Hamas terrorists firing rockets from Gaza—has been remixed with a musical score that could very well be out of a video game. The “Remix This Video!” option has even been enabled in the video description. No, thanks.
The video game references don’t end here. As Jon Mitchell, my colleague at ReadWrite, noted yesterday, the IDF has gamified its liveblog of the war. The IDF blog is now awarding badges for various activities, including how many times you share the blog on social media and how many times you use the search on the site.
But perhaps the worst element for Israel has been the contrast in the types of photos emerging from the two camps on Twitter. From the IDF, you have Instagrammed photos of attractive, stylish, and approachable soldiers, smartly rounded up and described as "surreal" by Buzzfeed’s Katie Notopoulos, doing what young, tech-savvy people do: smiling and having a good time, apparently.
Cyberwar and Social Media in the Gaza ConflictHaaretz claims that some of the pictures of the victims are fake or recycled and that there are now teams from Israel recaptioning them in the social media sphere. Look at the poster (pic in the article) and you can see who their target audience is. Huge amounts of money being poured into the propaganda aspect of this war, pitted against people with very little and under seige.
On Monday, part of the war seemed to have tipped in Israel’s favor with the I.D.F.’s Twitter posts far outnumbering those of the armed wing of Hamas, which seemed to have posted with far less frequency than earlier.
“The war is taking place on three fronts,” Carmela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer, told Reuters. “The first is physical, the second is on the world of social networks and the third is cyber.”
The fight for public opinion and warfare on the WebIn the past few days there have been many attacks on what little media there is in Gaza. One building has been hit with missiles for two days in a row. In addition to physical attacks, their signal is also being disrupted or taken over in both radio and TV.
Hamas and other terrorist organizations, for their part, are publicizing photographs of victims. As happened during Operation Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Israelis have spotted erroneous photos distributed by Hamas who claim they are from the current conflict but are actually recycled from other conflicts, like the one in Syria. Israelis, and they're supporters, are reposting and spreading the photos with corrected captions. The IDF Spokesperson also uploaded a video to YouTube that refutes Hamas' allegations.
Israel army takes over broadcasts on Hamas TVCan't airlock the information about an event and hide what you are really doing? Bomb the media centers and take over the stations.
AFP - The Israeli army on Monday took over programming at a Gaza-based Hamas television station "to broadcast warnings," as deadly violence between the sides entered its sixth day.
Al-Aqsa television, the official station of Gaza's Hamas rulers, said in a statement the Israeli army "is interfering with Al-Aqsa TV," with the picture going on and off for several hours and sometimes appearing scrambled.
"We took over the Hamas television to broadcast warnings," a military spokeswoman said, indicating the takeover would probably last for a number of hours.
But AFP correspondents in Gaza said they could see no warning being sent out by the army.
On Sunday, the army took over Hamas radio broadcasts in Gaza for several hours.
Day Six: Gaza Death Toll Rises as Media Silencing Campaign Escalates
The death toll in Gaza rose sharply once again on Monday morning to 94 people, following a night of Israeli airstrikes in densely populated areas of the occupied territory. Israeli forces openly targeted residential areas and homes of Hamas activists into Monday, after targeting media centers in Gaza City -- making it increasingly difficult to report the ongoing Israeli war crimes.
Reporting such scenes became increasingly deadly Sunday after Israel began attacks on media centers within Gaza. At least eight journalists were injured after Israeli jets bombed two media buildings in Gaza City -- the home to several news agencies covering the military campaign.
Additionally, the Israeli army took over the airwaves of a Gaza-based Hamas television station on Monday claiming its aim was to "broadcast warnings" of air raids.
Al-Aqsa television officials said in a statement that the Israeli army "is interfering with Al-Aqsa TV," causing the pictures to scramble or lose frequency entirely for several hours at a time.
Palestinian civilian toll climbs in Gaza
Ahed Kitati, 38, had rushed out after the warning missile to try to hustle people to safety. But he was fatally struck by a falling cinderblock, leaving behind a pregnant wife, five young daughters and a son, the residents said.
Sitting in mourning with her mother and siblings just hours after her father's death, 11-year-old Aya Kitati clutched a black jacket, saying she was freezing, even though the weather was mild. "We were sleeping, and then we heard the sound of the bombs," she said, then broke down sobbing.
Ahed's brother, Jawad Kitati, said he plucked the lifeless body of a 2-year-old relative from the street and carried him to an ambulance. Blood stains smeared his jacket sleeve.
Another clan member, Haitham Abu Zour, 24, woke up to the sound of the warning strike and hid in a stairwell. He emerged to find his wife dead and his two infant children buried under the debris, but safe.
Obama Scolds Cambodia on Human Rights
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—President Barack Obama used a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to criticize this country's human-rights record, suggesting the leader look to Myanmar, a liberalizing former military dictatorship, for inspiration on reform.
The 60-year-old prime minister, a former commander in the Khmer Rouge, has ruled Cambodia since 1985. He held on to power with his Cambodian People's Party through violence and intimidation, most notably in the 1997 coup that eliminated his royalist rivals from power. He faces re-election to another five-year term in a 2013 poll against an opposition that is struggling to unify.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last week that more than 300 people had been killed in politically motivated attacks since 1991, when a United Nations-brokered agreement ended a civil war, but that not a single case had resulted in a credible investigation and conviction. The organization called on Mr. Obama to use his trip to Cambodia to publicly demand reforms and end official impunity.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Republicans Must Evolve on Gay Rights and Marriage, Just as Democrats Did - LGBT News j.mp/QkKLjS— RainbowNewsNet(@RainbowNewsNet) November 20, 2012
Naming of the dead (Broadcasting live at ustre.am/QLL5)— Harry Fear (@harryfear) November 20, 2012
118 Gazans RIP (confirmed) #GazaUnderAttack— Harry Fear (@harryfear) November 20, 2012
Will do freelance reports for RT for its 2m viewership to try to get the Gazan message to the world. Profit to be given to Gaza charities.— Harry Fear (@harryfear) November 20, 2012
@harryfear Oh my Goodness, drones are WAY louder than past nights!— Mais Zuaiter (@MaisZuaiter1) November 19, 2012
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Helplessly Hoping
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky