Saturday, 23 February 2013

short break in posts

 Crossed 10,000 page views . time for a short break  . travelling for a week.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

war crimes - 'committing crimes and calling it war, '

These are war crimes.  4700 of them.  Passing the crimes off as collateral damage in a war will not do. 

US Senator: I Support Drone Program That Has Killed 4,700 "Innocent People"

Republican from South Carolina becomes first elected official to impart government's estimate of civilians killed by US drones abroad

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Becoming the first elected government official to publicly state an estimated number of "innocent people" killed in US drone attacks overseas, Sen. Lindsey Graham told a local crowd in his home state of South Carolina that "We've killed 4,700."
“Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war," said Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC).Speaking to a group of Rotarians at a forum in Easley, South Carolina, Graham responded to question about drones by saying, "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda."
His remarks, reported by the local Easley Patch, included a defense of the use of drones despite their propensity to kill innocent bystanders, including women and children.
I didn't want him to have a trial,” Graham stated, refering to a US citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was assassinated in Yemen by a missile from a US drone in 2011.
“We're not fighting a crime, we're fighting a war," Graham said. "I support the president's ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is. It's never been done by judges before. I support the drone program.”

Graham also in his comments that in addition to his support for the drone war overseas, he also supported further use of the technology within the US.
“I don't want to arm them, but we need drones along the border so we can really control illegal immigration,” Graham told his constituents.

breast tatoo with a real beautiful purpose

For the Many Women Who Have Lost So Much

by Abby Zimet
This tattoo of a breast cancer survivor after her mastectomy, which Ontario-based collective Custom Tattoo Design posted on their Facebook page, has gone viral after Facebook kept removing it, citing their often incomprehensible rules on obscenity - like breast cancer isn't obscene. In protest, Custom kept reposting it - "We feel this woman is both brave and strong" - to show support for her and others like her. Yes. Facebook may have given up.

“My people are not animals in a zoo”,

Photographs are not just about publication, exhibition and about awards they  win . There has to be something more to them than just that.  

This article makes me think again about  photographers who believe that photos do not change anything. On their own, documentary photographs probably have not done much.  And they  won't. Not unless and until they become part of a larger political  strategy.  A part of a sustained political pressure to actually change things and become an answer to what  the  photographed subjects really want.

As Ramzy Baroud puts it -" All the photos of all dying children will not alone alter even a single footnote in the US’s ‘unconditional support’ of Israel doctrine. These images must be coupled with passionate political activism, decided, public pressure, legal action and numerous other methods to hold Israel accountable for the gory images, and the US accountable for allowing Israel free hand to murder Palestinians.

A photo, on its own, no matter how artistic, compelling, captivating, even incensing, is not enough, if not combined or followed by a series of solid action and a clear strategy, to ensure that someday no such tragic contexts exist for photographer to freeze them in time and place."

Photographing Tragedy: What the Victims Actually Want

Feb 20 2013 / 8:22 pm
Faces of Gaza victims. (Photo: Johnny Barber)
Faces of Gaza victims. (Photo: Johnny Barber)

What is the use of a journalist photo, when human conscious has grown numb, enough to barely appreciate the artistic expression of the photo, but not the moral and political crisis it represents?
These thoughts and more occupied my mind when Paul Hansen, a Swedish photographer, from the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, convincingly won, on Feb. 15, The World Press Photo of the Year 2012, which is, according to Reuters “the world’s largest annual press photography contest.”

The winning photo documented an event that has been repeated hundreds of times in Gaza in the last few years, bereaved families and neighbors, filled with pain and despair, carrying the frail bodies of little children who died in one Israeli strike on another. They walk in the alleyways of their towns or refugee camps, shoulder to shoulder, weeping, chanting and praying to God to send their little ones to Paradise. Photographers snap numerous shots, selected ones get published, and the most prized win awards. Sadly, even then, nothing changes the persistently agonizing reality.
An almost trademark demand that most victims have is for the world to know of their plight. There is a pervading impression that when the “world” know, the “world” will not allow injustice to perpetuate. Of course, it is not so simple, especially in the case of the Palestinians.

Of course, it is not exactly the responsibility of the photojournalist nor that of the photography awards judges to ensure that the meaning of the photo is diffused in such ways as to affect political and humanitarian outcomes. It is still disturbing however, that those painful conflicts are reduced to photos, footage and sound bites, and eventually appreciated for something other than the urgent and utter need to compel whatever action needed to bring people’s suffering to an end.

Starting most noticeably with the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987, Palestine offered incredible photo opportunities for journalists. It was not exactly common that a whole nation take to the street, youth battling well-equipped soldiers with sling shots and empty fists for several years nonstop. Even a random photo that involves barefooted children at war against Israeli tanks would have many ‘contrasts’ and artistic worth. Then, many Palestinians were convinced that once these images reach world publics, the tide will turn in favor of Palestinian rights. In fact, to a degree, it did, as if it was suddenly discovered that Palestinians do exist beyond whatever stereotypes Israel has managed to concoct of them through its media influence, control or savvy. However, the barrier between public sentiments and government action remained erect. It would have made little difference whether US officials viewed Intifada photos or not, for the US government position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was never determined by such values as human rights, freedom and the right to self-determination. All the photos of all dying children will not alone alter even a single footnote in the US’s ‘unconditional support’ of Israel doctrine. These images must be coupled with passionate political activism, decided, public pressure, legal action and numerous other methods to hold Israel accountable for the gory images, and the US accountable for allowing Israel free hand to murder Palestinians.
A photo, on its own, no matter how artistic, compelling, captivating, even incensing, is not enough, if not combined or followed by a series of solid action and a clear strategy, to ensure that someday no such tragic contexts exist for photographer to freeze them in time and place.
Palestinians – and Syrians – are not mere opportunities for award-winning photos to be snapped. “My people are not animals in a zoo”, is the famous quote of Palestinian novelist and intellectual, Ghassan Kanafani to a Danish journalist, who later became his wife, as she requested to visit refugee camps in Lebanon. “You must have a good background about them before you go and visit”, he said. Kanafani was assassinated in an Israeli Mossad bomb blast, along with his niece, in July 1972, but his words endure.
Palestinians, as other peoples who are undergoing protracted tragedies are neither ‘animals in zoos’, nor mere subjects of artistic expressions, no matter how noble, or human experiments of any forms. Their tragedies, no matter how long-lasting, deserve resolutions and tangible remedies. All that victims in photos hope to achieve is for their oppression to end, not for the victimization itself to become such an accepted state of affair, and end in itself, detached from any serious political dynamics that could propel change.

hollywood hasbara - imperial propaganda

Our Highest Achievement

Hollywood’s Imperial Propaganda

Hollywood likes to pretend that things aren’t political when they are.  It’s that bi-partisan nationalist myth that if both corporate parties agree to cheer for the empire, then everyone cheers for the empire.  It’s gotten so bad now that races like the Oscars and the Writer’s Guild screenwriting award are tight contests between one CIA propaganda film and another CIA propaganda film.  The first one helps to demonize Iranians and set up the next World War scenario, while the second film fraudulently promotes the effectiveness of state-sanctioned torture crimes.

Kathryn Bigelow, America’s Leni Riefenstahl, claims that Zero Dark Thirty tells “a true story,” even when confronted by evidence that it is a lie.  She is unapologetic and completely divorced from the real world damage her propaganda encourages.  If this film takes home the Best Picture Oscar, it should serve as the cherry on top of a brutal, deceptive, decrepit and immoral empire, and signal this reality to the rest of the world.  If this is allegedly the “best” of America, then we are truly finished.
As for Ben Affleck’s Argo, its sins aren’t so readily apparent.  Both films show wonderful Central Intelligence “heroes” acting to further US interests and take care of imperial problems.  The Argo scenario is a rescue, however, instead of a hit.  The problem is that Iran, a country thrown into a bloodthirsty dictatorship after its nascent democracy was murdered by the very same CIA in 1953, is now the bad guy.  There are clearly two sides, and the film takes sides with the people who destroyed democracy in Iran and propped up an illegitimate monarch in order to control its oil and its refineries.  When this despotic monarch whose secret police disappeared, tortured and murdered the political opposition – with the help and training of the CIA – is overthrown, we are supposed to overlook all that, because America is always good.  We rescue our people.  We risk our lives, and we come up with elaborate creative plans to help our people.  We are heroic and triumphant vs. the inferior wild-eyed Persians and Arabs of the world.

So why are Argo and Zero Dark Thirty receiving all these awards?  Are the awarding bodies so full of hyper-patriots who believe pro-American films can deceive and demonize with impunity, that they want to send an unequivocal message of support for these practices?
Is hyper-nationalist propaganda in vogue now?

how can a Palestinian be an Oscar nominee

Oscar nominated Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat was detained at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday night with his wife and 8-year-old son, who had all arrived in Los Angeles ahead of the Academy Awards.
(Photo: Kino Lorber)Despite showing immigration officers the Oscar invitation for his critically acclaimed film 5 Broken Cameras, Burnat and his family were held for 90 minutes. Officers told Burnat he did not have permission to enter the United States and threatened to send him "back to Palestine."
It wasn't until Burnat contacted his friend Michael Moore, who in turn contacted lawyers and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that Burnat and his family were allowed to enter the country.
"Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee.  Emad texted me for help," Moore tweeted Wednesday.

"It's nothing I'm not already used to," Emad later told Moore. "When you live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

wrong to "reach back into history"

 It would be"wrong to reach back into history" said the British Prime Minister . Wrong to apologise.  

The right thing, it seems, is to keep repeating History. Complete with all its wrongs.

No lessons will be learnt. Millions will keep dying. As colonialism becomes an unrepentant Neocolonialism.

If Cameron cannot bring himself to apologise for  300 odd (according to Brtish sources) people, how can he even acknowledge that the British Empire was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 50 million Indians alone. And that does not include the many Indian soldiers who died fighting for that murderous Empire.

But then, David Cameron's visit to Amritsar, the scene the Jalianwala massacre,  was actually about winning the votes of  British Sikhs in the UK for the next round of  British elections.

Apologies for  British History and its countless wrongdoings had nothing to do with why he was there.

And as for returning stolen cultural property ,  the colonial powers  will continue to hang on to it. Despite what  the UN has said about the necessity of returning  it to the countries of  origin,  Despite the immorality  of it hanging on to stolen wealth.

David Cameron defends lack of apology for British massacre at Amritsar

First serving UK prime minister to visit scene of 1919 Indian shootings says it would be wrong to 'reach back' into history

Link to video: David Cameron visits site of 'deeply shameful' Amritsar massacre
David Cameron has defended his decision to stop short of delivering a formal British apology for the Amritsar massacre in 1919, in which at least 379 innocent Indians were killed.
As relatives of the victims expressed disappointment, the prime minister said it would be wrong to "reach back into history" and apologise for the wrongs of British colonialism.

As he prepared to leave Amritsar, the Cameron explained why he had decided against issuing an apology. "In my view," he said, "we are dealing with something here that happened a good 40 years before I was even born, and which Winston Churchill described as 'monstrous' at the time and the British government rightly condemned at the time. So I don't think the right thing is to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologise for.
"I think the right thing is to acknowledge what happened, to recall what happened, to show respect and understanding for what happened.
"That is why the words I used are right: to pay respect to those who lost their lives, to remember what happened, to learn the lessons, to reflect on the fact that those who were responsible were rightly criticised at the time, to learn from the bad and to cherish the good."
His remarks came after a relative of one of the victims expressed disappointment that the prime minister had not apologised. Sunil Kapoor, whose great grandfather Waso Mal Kapoor died in the shootings, said: "If he said it is shameful, why did he not apologise?"
Sunil Kapoor, whose great grandfather died in the Amritsar massacreSunil Kapoor's great-grandfather was among the dead at Amritsar
Kapoor, president of the Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters' Foundation, said: "I am not satisfied that he did not meet the families. We have waited 94 years for justice."

Asked whether Britain should return the diamond, he said: "I don't think that is the right approach. It is the same question with the Elgin marbles. It is for the British Museum and other cultural centres to do exactly what they do do, which is link up with museums all over the world to make sure that the things we have, and are looked after so well, are properly shared with people around the world. No, I certainly don't believe in returnism."

The prime minister, who has an eye on the Sikh vote in Britain, paid an hour-long visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Out of respect to Sikhs as he visited their holiest site, he wore a dark blue bandana on his head.

the colonials do not apologise for massacres

The colonials do not apologise . Not even a near century later.  They always hide behind weasel worded  phrases. Phrases  that stop short of any real apology.

To Churchill the massacre was just  "monstrous" . The queen saw is as "distressing" , Her husband infamously and callously challenged the number of innocents victims killed. Tony Bliar , who apologised for the  Irish Potato Famine and the Slave Trade,  saw the Jalianwala massacre as merely "a reminder of the worst aspects of colonialism".

The old colonial General Dyer who wanted to teach "a moral lesson to the Punjab" even claimed that he had not overreacted and that he would have called in even greater firepower. Machine guns mounted on armoured cars  would have been brought in if the narrow streets had not prevented their movement to the Garden.

   "That it is the doctrine of terrorism."he had said. 

 He  even admitted: “I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”

The old colonials and their descendants, the neo-colonials, continue to make fools of themselves as they pursue the 21st century version  of  Dyer's 'doctrine of Terrorism' with the slaughter of millions across the world. 

The American "Shock and Awe" in Baghdad was just a continuation of General  Dyer's destructive, early 20th century,  Counter Terrorism Policies. 

David Cameron makes historic visit to Amritsar – but stops short of making apology

David Cameron has been criticised for failing to meet the families of Indians killed by British troops as he tried to make amends for a "deeply shameful" Imperial massacre.

Prime Minister David Cameron poses for photographs along with Avtar Singh Makkar (R) and others during his visit to the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Prime Minister David Cameron poses for photographs along with Avtar Singh Makkar (R) and others during his visit to the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple in Amritsar Photo: EPA/RAMINDER PAL SINGH
The Prime Minister invoked Sir Winston Churchill as he lamented the "monstrous" killings in Amritsar in 1919.
Mr Cameron flew to Amritsar at the end of a trade visit to Delhi and made a public show of British contrition over the massacre, which left at least 379 Sikh civilians dead.

In his tribute, Mr Cameron stopped short of an apology, but expressed profound regret at the incident.
"This was a deeply shameful event in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at the time as "monstrous". We must never forget what happened here," Mr Cameron wrote.

The British officer who gave the order to fire into the crowd of 15,000 people was General Reginald Dyer. It was later established that his unit of Gurkha and Baluchi troops had fired around 1,650 bullets and had kept firing until they exhausted their ammunition.

At a subsequent inquiry, the Hunter Commission, Mr Dyer admitted: “I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”

In the same debate the secretary of state for India, Edwin Montagu issued a scathing response to Dyer's claim that he had not overreacted and that he would have called in even greater firepower: "That it is the doctrine of terrorism."

mapping torture

The hypocrisy of Western Powers is stunning. They pick on a poor and weak nation like Nepal to prove  the power of, and their adherence to, International Law.

Britain arrests Col Lama but prefers to ignore the torture by  ts own soldiers. It warns other war crimes accused  to stay away and even changes its laws to suit American and Israeli demands.  It, like so many of its allies, ignores its own role in the the latest round of the torture and deaths of so many across the world.   And it  is a  partner in the crimes of the  empire that it passed the imperial baton to.

Take a look at this map. The  red in it echoes the red of map of the  British Empire.. That was an empire that killed  millions across the world ( around an estimated 50 million in India alone).  The new empire  seems to be doing its best to torture and  kill many more.

A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program

Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher -- The Washington Post)
Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher — The Washington Post)
After Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA launched a program of “extraordinary rendition” to handle terrorism suspects. The agency’s problem, as it saw it, was that it wanted to detain and interrogate foreign suspects without bringing them to the United States or charging them with any crimes. Their solution was to secretly move a suspect to another country. Sometimes that meant a secret CIA prison in places such as Thailand or Romania, where the CIA would interrogate him. Sometimes it meant handing him over to a sympathetic government, some of them quite nasty, to conduct its own “interrogation.”
The CIA’s extraordinary rendition program is over, but its scope is still shrouded in some mystery. A just-out report, released by the Open Society Foundation, sheds new light on its shocking scale. According to the report, 54 foreign governments somehow collaborated in the program. Some of those governments are brutal dictatorships, and a few are outright U.S. adversaries.

Here’s what the Open Society report has to say about the staggeringly global participation in the CIA program, including a full list of the countries it names:
The report also shows that as many as 54 foreign governments reportedly participated in these operations in various ways, including by hosting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees; providing intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals; and interrogating individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments. Foreign governments also failed to protect detainees from secret detention and extraordinary rendition on their territories and to conduct effective investigations into agencies and officials who participated in these operations.
The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.