Sunday, December 10, 2017

How will US Jerusalem move affect Israel's far right? By Jonathan Cook

'Tipping point'

"We may remember this date as the tipping point, as the moment when a new consensus emerged in Israel behind the idea of total Jewish supremacy," journalist David Sheen, an expert on Israel's far-right movements, told Al Jazeera.

Similar concerns were expressed by Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of Israel's parliament.

"We can expect to see a move rightwards across Israeli society," he told Al Jazeera. "The centre-left parties were already tacking much closer to the right. They will now want to align themselves with Trump's position. Meanwhile, the right will be encouraged to move to the extreme right."

Both noted that Avi Gabbay - the recently elected leader of the Zionist Union, the official opposition and the party that was once the backbone of the Israeli peace camp - had begun espousing positions little different from those of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why does Canada spy on its own indigenous communities?

6 December 2017 - Indigenous nations have emerged as vocal defenders of land and water, but state surveillance of these groups is disproportionate, and speaks of the broad criminalisation of Indigenous peoples.

“Researchers and journalists have begun to reveal the extent to which Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada are subject to surveillance by police, military, national security intelligence agencies and other government bodies. While security agencies have long looked beyond ‘traditional’ national security threats and set their sights on activists – even in the absence of evidence linking these individuals or organisations to any violent criminal activity – this reality is increasingly the subject of media and public scrutiny. As Jeffrey Monaghan and Kevin Walby have written, the language of “aboriginal and multi-issue extremists” in security discourse blurs the line between threats to national security, matters of ordinary law enforcement, and lawful, democratic advocacy.

In this piece, we summarise some of what is known about the surveillance practices employed to keep tabs on Indigenous leaders and activists, and describe their impact on Charter-protected and internationally recognised human rights and freedoms.

Indigenous nations and peoples have emerged, worldwide, as vocal defenders of land and water, organising to protect ancestral territories and ways of life. In Canada, while aboriginal and treaty rights are constitutionally recognised and affirmed, the interpretation of those rights is highly contested and a matter frequently before the country’s highest court. Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada have led popular resistance to the development of new oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric dams, mining operations, and other extractive industries that have significant environmental impact and which frequently encroach on Indigenous territories.

This resistance – with tactics ranging from peaceful protest and strategic litigation to the establishment of creative action camps and blockades – has frequently been met with a forceful police response. Through diligent research and investigative reporting, a pattern of extensive surveillance of these activities has also emerged – implicating law enforcement, intelligence agencies and numerous other government bodies.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Civilian exposure to munitions-specific carcinogens and resulting cancer risks for civilians on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques following military exercises from 1947 to 1998

Estimation of legacy public health risks from munitions residues near or at former military test ranges has for the past decades been a challenge to health authorities. Parts of the island of Vieques (PR) were for six decades used for military training, and these are now declared as a Superfund site. ATSDR has conducted site assessments there and found no cause for public health concerns. The reports and findings of ATSDR have since been heavily contested and disputed. This paper provides a case study on cancer risk screening of munitions-specific carcinogens for the full period of military training on Vieques. Added cancer risks and Margins of Exposure for the diferent carcinogens for each year were derived. We found that there is a potential for cancer risk concern related to BaP exposures. Furthermore, there were health risks from TNT exposures. The primary exposure route of these compounds was oral. The period 1992–1997 showed a significantly elevated lung and bronchus cancer incidence rate in Vieques compared to Puerto Rico mainland mainly among women <50 yr and men 50–64 yr. These correlate with high munitions exposures in the period 1977–1984.

Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy. Democracy Now

Estimating the human health risks from historical and legacy distributed munitions residues from military test ranges has for the past decades been a challenge to authorities (Phillips & Perry, 2002). This is because there generally is little information available regarding estimating the public health risks of military-unique releases to humans via environmental pathways from past activities (Phillips & Perry, 2002). The aim of this paper is therefore to provide an example of how a risk assessment can be developed to help prioritise further empirical risk research with an emphasis on cancer risks.

We chose the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which has been used as a military test area for more than six decades by the U.S. military. The Navy engaged two-thirds of the island’s 9000 acres where military exercises tested live ammunition. Testing was open on average 180 days per year (AJPH, 2001). Meanwhile, between 9000 and 14000, inhabitants lived eight miles away from the ranges during the period. The first large-scale war games took place in 1948 involving more than 60 war ships, 350 planes and 50,000 troops from all branches of the military. In the early 1980s, an average of 3400 bombs were deployed, 158 days of naval bombardment, 200 days of air-to-ground combat exercises and 21 days of marines practising invasions per year on the island. Over 15 years from 1983 to 1998, the military deployed more than 17.7 million kg of munitions on Vieques (Davis, Hayes-Conroy, & Jones, 2007).

In 2005, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) listed the Vieques bombing range as a Superfund site (Davis et al., 2007). After the closure and the Superfund status, the US EPA commissioned an assessment of ecological and human health risks. The current conclusion regarding human health risks is that the exposure is not under control – meaning that; (1) contamination has been detected at a site at an unsafe level; and (2) a reasonable expectation exists that people may be exposed to the contamination (US EPA, 2016b).

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Only One Person Can Stop Ethnic Cleansing In Myanmar, And It Isn't Aung San Suu Kyi

Min Aung Hlaing

But while the world focuses on Suu Kyi, the man responsible for these horrific abuses doesn’t get mentioned in government statements or the vast majority of media articles. Min Aung Hlaing is calling the shots. Articles about Suu Kyi are exactly what he wants to see; with more focus on her and none on him, he has more freedom to carry out his ethnic cleansing campaign.

Under Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution, Suu Kyi does not have control over the army. It is independent of her civilian-led government. The army controls the police, security services, prisons, border affairs and most of the civil service, and also appoints 25 percent of the members of parliament. Because 75 percent of MPs need to vote in favor of a constitutional change, Min Aung Hlaing effectively has a veto. He leads a second government in Myanmar, one armed with guns. More

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why aren’t trains evacuating people from the path of Hurricane Irma?

Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma threatens Florida with historic destruction, little to nothing is being done to help residents evacuate. On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott and FEMA officials warned millions of residents to flee the path of the storm. How to flee has been left up to residents, with no assistance provided.
Over 20 counties are being told to evacuate, in what could be the largest evacuation in American history. It is quickly exposing the abysmal, anarchy-filled state of transportation in America. Those hoping to fly out were confronted with sky-high prices, in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, and now over 4,000 flights have been canceled. Extra flights were added, but operations wound down Friday afternoon, more than a full day before the storm. Many have been left stranded at the airport, with all shelters filled up.
For millions, their only way to flee is by car. Gas shortages have spread across the state, and drivers confront extremely heavy traffic that burns through gas with little progress. From southern Florida, there is only Interstate 95 or Interstate 75 to head north, both of which have had extensive delays for days. On Friday, northbound delays covering hundreds of miles were visible on I-75 and I-95 even into Georgia and South Carolina.
This “fend for yourself” method of evacuation presents an enormous inequality, where working people must spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to head to safety, assuming they even have a car. As a retirement destination, Florida also has many residents over 65 years old. This includes residents in nursing care, or with physical or mental impairments, that make them unable to drive or fly.
Why haven’t passenger trains, which could carry a thousand people a time, been sent to Florida to help? Residents without money or the ability to travel by car or plane could be taken to designated points of shelter and food. More

The Next Wave Of Extremists Will Be Green

If military strategists are always fighting the last war, the same is true of those who work on countering radicalization. In 2001, Western intelligence services, mostly focused on localized terrorist groups like the Irish Republican Army and ETA, were stunned by al Qaeda.

Come 2011, they were then blindsided by Anders Behring Breivik and the growth in far-right extremism. By the mid-zoios, the Islamist threat had evolved into the Islamic State — and they were slow to spot that, too. Today, we are about to make the same mistake. We will not easily forgive ourselves if our attention is exclusively occupied by the Islamic State or the far-right when the coming wave of environmental radicalization hits.

There's nothing new about radical environmentalism. In 2001, the Earth Liberation Front — a militant, violent environmentalist group — was described by the FBI as one of the top domestic terrorist threats.

Academics have estimated that "REAR" (Radical Environmentalist and Animal Rights) cells can be found in at least 25 countries and were responsible for more than 1,000 criminal acts between 1970 and 2007 in the United States alone — mostly vandalism and attacks on animal testing facilities. Over the last 30 years, there have been periodic fears about new waves of "eco-terrorism." which have never quite materialized. More

Monday, August 28, 2017

The west’s wealth is based on slavery. Reparations should be paid

The scientific, political and industrial revolutions the British school system is so proud to proclaim, were only possible because of the blood, toil and bounty exploited from the “darker nations” from across the globe.
Colonialism left Africa, Asia and the Caribbean underdeveloped, as the regions were used to develop the west while holding back progress in what we now call the global south.

Any discussion of progress in racial equality in Britain or the rest of the world has to acknowledge the damage that the west has inflicted on the former colonies and their descendants.