Saudi Arabian Prince defects

Saudi prince defects: ‘Brutality, oppression as govt scared of Arab revolts’ 

 August 12, 2013

Saudi Arabia, a major supporter of opposition forces in Syria, has increased crackdown on its own dissenters, with 30,000 activists reportedly in jail. In an exclusive interview to RT a Saudi prince defector explained what the monarchy fears most.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up arrests and trials of peaceful dissidents, and responded with force to demonstrations by citizens,” Human Rights Watch begins the country’s profile on its website.

Political parties are banned in Saudi Arabia and human rights groups willing to function legally have to go no further than investigating things like corruption or inadequate services. Campaigning for political freedoms is outlawed.

One of such groups, which failed to get its license from the government, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was cited by AFP as saying the kingdom was holding around 30,000 political prisoners.

Saudi Prince Khaled Bin Farhan Al-Saud, who spoke to RT from Dusseldorf, Germany, confirmed reports of increased prosecution of anti-government activists and said that it’s exactly what forced him to defect from his family. He accused the monarchy of corruption and silencing all voices of dissent and explained how the Saudi mechanism for suppression functioned.

There is no independent judiciary, as both police and the prosecutor’s office are accountable to the Interior Ministry. This ministry’s officials investigate ‘crimes’ (they call them crimes), related to freedom of speech. So they fabricate evidence, don’t allow people to have attorneys”, the prince told RT Arabic. “Even if a court rules to release such a ‘criminal’, the Ministry of Interior keeps him in prison, even though there is a court order to release him. There have even been killings! Killings! And as for the external opposition, Saudi intelligence forces find these people abroad! There is no safety inside or outside the country.”

The strong wave of oppression is in response to the anti-government forces having grown ever more active. A new opposition group called Saudi Million and claiming independence from any political party was founded in late July. The Saudi youths which mostly constitute the movement say they demand the release of political prisoners and vow to hold regular demonstrations, announcing their dates and locations via Facebook and electronic newspapers.

Human rights violations are driving people on to the streets despite the fear of arrest, according to activist Hala Al-Dosari, who spoke to RT from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

We have issues related to political and civil rights, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. These are the main issues that cause a lot of people to be at risk for just voicing out their opinions or trying to form associations, demonstrate or protest, which is banned by the government.”

The loudest voice of the Saudi opposition at the moment is a person called ‘Saudi Assange’. His Twitter name is @Mujtahidd, he keeps his identity and whereabouts secret and is prolific in online criticism of the ruling family, which has gained him over a million followers.

The regime can destroy your credibility easily and deter people from dealing with you if your identity is public,” Mujtahid wrote to RT’s Lindsay France in an email.

Prince Khalid Bin Farhan Al-Saud announced his defection from the Saudi Arabian royal family on July 27.

They don’t think about anything but their personal benefits and do not care for the country’s and people’s interests, or even national security,” his statement reads as cited by the website of Tehran-based Al Alam International News Channel.

The prince criticized the royal family for silencing all voices calling for reforms and said he learned of the common Saudis’ sufferings having gone through “horrible personal experience,” without specifying exactly what it was.

The Twitter activist’s anonymity is understandable. The most recent example of what can happen to activists is the case of Raif Badawi, the founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, who was found guilty of insulting Islam through his online forum and sentenced the activist to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

In June, seven people were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for ‘inciting protests’ via Facebook. The indicted denied charges and said they were tortured into confession.

The government is obviously scared of the Arab revolutions. And they’ve responded as they usually do: by resorting to oppression, violence, arbitrary law, and arrest,” Prince Khaled says, adding that so far the tougher the measures the government took to suppress the dissent, the louder that dissent’s voice was.

The opposition used to demand wider people’s representation in governing bodies, more rights and freedoms. But the authorities reacted with violence and persecution, instead of a dialogue. So the opposition raised the bar. It demanded constitutional monarchy, similar to what they have in the UK, for example. And the Saudi regime responded with more violence. So now the bar is even higher. Now the opposition wants this regime gone.”

There was a time, at the beginning of the Arab Spring movement in the region in 2011, when the government tried to appease opposition activists by a $60 billion handout program by King Abdullah, according to Pepe Escobar, a correspondent for the Asia Times. He calls that move an attempt to “bribe” the population. However there was also a stick with this carrot.

The stick is against the Shiite minority – roughly 10 percent of Saudi Arabia – who live in the Eastern province where most of the oil is, by the way. They don’t want to bring down the House of Saud essentially. They want more participation, judiciary not answering to religious powers and basically more democratic freedoms. This is not going to happen in Saudi Arabia. Period. Nor in the other Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] petro-monarchies”.

Escobar points out the hypocrisy of the Saudi Arabian rulers, who feel free to advise other regional powers on how to move towards democracy, despite their poor human rights record.

They say to the Americans that they are intervening in Syria for a more democratic post-Assad Syria and inside Saudi Arabia it’s the Sunni-Shiite divide. They go against 10 percent of their own population.”

‘Buying favors from West’

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on opposition has been strongly condemned by human rights organizations, but not by Western governments, which usually claim sensitivity to such issues.

The White House certainly does maintain a long-standing alliance with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, cemented by common political, economic and military interests in the Middle East,” said Prince Khaled.

Germany came under fierce criticism last week over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, which have almost tripled in just two years, from 570 million euro in 2011 to almost one-and-a-half billion in 2012.

And Angela Merkel’s government has approved weapons exports of more than 800 million euro in the first half of this year – suggesting the level will continue to grow.

With arms they [Gulf States] are also buying favors from the West. They are insuring the maintenance of their legitimacy on spending massive amounts of money that are pouring into Western economies,” Dr. Ahmed Badawi, co-executive director of Transform, which studies conflicts and political developments, told RT.

In 2012, Amnesty International claimed that German-made small firearms, ammunition and military vehicles were commonly used by Middle Eastern and North African regimes to suppress peaceful demonstrations.

Small arms are becoming real weapons of mass destruction in the world now. There is absolutely no way to guarantee that the weapons that are being sold legally to countries like Saudi Arabia, even Egypt, do not fall into the hands of terrorists. The two important examples are German assault rifles found in the regions in Mexico and also in Libya. And there’s absolutely no way of knowing how these weapons ended up there,” Badawi said. Source  Videos at source.

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Published in: on August 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm  Comments Off on Saudi Arabian Prince defects  
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California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk

Updated July 2 2013

Update is at bottom of page.

———————————-

June 26. 2013

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that  a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free  speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or  political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand  trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also  be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank  slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a  sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank  of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in  interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid  to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

The Reader reports that Olson’s hearing had gone as poorly as his  attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is  presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige  Hazard’s motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning  the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

“The State’s Vandalism Statute  does not mention First Amendment rights,” ruled Judge  Shore on Tuesday.

Upon exiting the courtroom Olson seemed to be in disbelief.

“Oh my gosh,” he said.   “I can’t believe this is  happening.”

Tosdal, who exited the courtroom shortly after his client, seemed  equally bewildered.

“I’ve never heard that before,  that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment  rights,” said Tosdal.

Olson, who worked as a former staffer for a US Senator from  Washington state, was said to involve himself in political  activism in tandem with the growth of the Occupy Wall Street  movement.

On October 3, 2011, Olson first appeared outside of a Bank of  America branch in San Diego, along with a homemade sign. Eight  days later Olson and his partner, Stephen Daniels, during  preparations for National Bank Transfer Day, the two were  confronted by Darell Freeman, the Vice President of Bank of  America’s Global Corporate Security.

A former police officer, Freeman accused Olson and Daniels of   “running a business outside of the bank,” evidently in reference  to the National Bank Transfer Day activities, which was a  consumer activism initiative that sought to promote Americans to  switch from commercial banks, like Bank of America, to  not-for-profit credit unions.

At the time, Bank of America’s debit card fees were among one of  the triggers that led Occupy Wall Street members to promote the  transfer day.

“It was just an empty  threat,” says Olson of Freeman’s accusations. “He was trying to scare me away. To be  honest, it did at first. I even called my bank and they said he  couldn’t do anything like that.”

Olson continued to protest outside of Bank of America. In  February 2012, he came across a box of chalk at a local pharmacy  and decided to begin leaving his mark with written statements.

“I thought it was a perfect way  to get my message out there. Much better than handing out  leaflets or holding a sign,” says Olson.

Over the course of the next six months Olson visited the Bank of  America branch a few days per week, leaving behind scribbled  slogans such as “Stop big  banks” and “Stop Bank  Blight.com.”

According to Olson, who spoke with local broadcaster KGTV, one  Bank of America branch claimed it had cost $6,000 to clean up the  chalk writing.

Public records obtained by the Reader show that Freeman continued  to pressure members of San Diego’s Gang Unit on behalf of Bank of  America until the matter was forwarded to the City Attorney’s  office.

On April 15, Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard contacted Freeman  with a response on his persistent queries.

“I wanted to let you know that  we will be filing 13 counts of vandalism as a result of the  incidents you reported,” said Hazard.

Arguments for Olson’s case are set to be heard Wednesday morning,  following jury selection.  Source

Just when you think,  the US cannot get any more ridiculous, then it already is, something like this comes along.  The chalk washes off with water. Think about it.

It is the same chalk millions of children use. So are Judges going to imprison little children for their chalk drawings as well?

Unbelievable.

Words cannot describe my thoughts on this. This is beyond imagination.

Chalk Bandits. The new American enemy.

Every American should send a Chalk message to this Judge.

Chalk it up to a good idea.

How much will it cost taxpayer to keep this Chalk Bandit in jail for 13 years?

What an absolute waste of court time and tax dollars.

That money should be used for anything, but this. Education comes to mind.

The Judge needs one.

No Freedom of Speech.

Another take on this story HERE

There Really are Chalk Police in America

Seems in the UK Cops may be just as bad.

A girl aged ten was told by police that she  could be arrested for causing criminal damage – over a game of  hopscotch.

Lilly-May Allen was playing with a friend on  a grid she had chalked on the pavement in front of her home when a marked police  van pulled up.

An officer warned the girls that using chalk  on the pavement was criminal damage and they could be arrested for it, before  driving off.

But the girls did not understand what they  had done wrong and Lilly-May is now reluctant to play outside, according to her  father. For the rest go HERE Got to love some of the comments at the bottom however.

Bank of America protester acquitted of vandalism

July 1 2013

A San Diego, California man has been acquitted of vandalism charges after being threatened with 13 years in prison for scrawling anti-bank slogans on a sidewalk with chalk.

 

A jury deliberated for less than five hours on Monday before deciding to acquit 40-year-old Jeff Olson on the 13 counts of vandalism he was charged with after protesting Bank of America using children’s chalk, Reuters reported.

Under California guidelines, Olson could have been sentenced to 13 years in prison and asked to pay $13,000 in fines if convicted. When he spoke out against the absurdity of the possibility last week, Judge Howard Shore issued a gag-order to ensure Olson and others wouldn’t discuss their case further.

Judge Shore has issued a gag order prohibiting all counsel and parties from commenting or expressing opinions on the case upon penalty of criminal contempt. All I am permitted to say is that I disagree,” Olson said over the weekend in an email to RT.

Olson previously told reporters, “My chalk drawings are clearly free speech and protected by the First Amendment,” and said after his victory on Monday that the dozen jurors apparently agreed.

The jury sent a strong message that freedom of speech is alive in San Diego,” he told reporters outside of the courthouse.

I’m really relieved,” Olson added to U-T San Diego. “It’s been an incredibly stressful situation. It feels really good to know that the people of San Diego as represented by the jury are on my side.”

Olson’s supposed crimes consisted of using washable chalk to write messages such as “No Thanks, Big Banks” and “Shame on Bank of America” on the sidewalks outside of branches in the San Diego area throughout 2012 after the Occupy Wall Street movement first began gaining momentum. He told San Diego 6 News last week that he was being prosecuted in part because City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has received campaign contributions from at least two big name financial institutions and, “If I had drawn a little girl’s hopscotch squares on the street, we wouldn’t be here today.”

His purpose was not malicious. His purpose was to inform,” defense attorney Tom Tosdal told CNS News of Olson.

Source

The gag order is way out of line. One has to wonder what the Judge was thinking. a gag order over chalk comments, is beyond imagination.

The jury stood up for all Americans Free Speech. The jury also protected children from the same type of foolishness.

Congratulations to all the jurors, who sat in on this trial, for making the right derision..

The Judge on the other hand? Well, you decide.

If you thought this was ridiculous then take a look at this one.

What is happening in the US, is so off the charts, there is no description for it.

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Published in: on June 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm  Comments Off on California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk  
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“Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld

August 9 2011

Two American men can go ahead with civil lawsuit over allegations they were tortured in Iraq at the hands of US forces.
A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US secretary of defence, must face a lawsuit filed against him by two American men claiming they were wrongfully held and tortured by US forces in Iraq.

The US Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling last year allowing the men, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, to pursue claims that Rumsfeld and unnamed others should be found personally liable for their treatment – despite efforts by the former Bush and current Obama administration to get the case dismissed.

The two men worked for a private security company in Iraq in 2006 and said they became concerned the firm was engaging in illegal bribery or other corruption activities. They notified US authorities and began co-operating with them.

Emotional abuse

In early 2006, they were taken into custody by US military forces and eventually taken to Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s airport. Vance and Ertel claimed they were subjected to harsh interrogations and physical and emotional abuse.

Months later they said they were unceremoniously dropped at the airport and never charged with a crime.

They sued, seeking unspecified damages and saying their constitutional rights had been violated and US officials knew they were innocent.

The appeals court ruled that while it may have been unusual for Rumsfeld to be personally responsible for the treatment of detainees, the two men had sufficiently argued that the decisions were made at the highest levels of government.

We agree with the district court that the plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to show that Secretary Rumsfeld personally established the relevant policies that caused the alleged violations of their constitutional rights during detention,” the court ruled in a split decision.

The three-judge panel voted 2-1 to affirm the lower court ruling. Judge Daniel Manion dissented, saying Congress has yet to decide whether courts should have a role in deciding whether such claims against the US military can be pursued.

A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military.

“Having judges second guess the decisions made by the armed forces halfway around the world is no way to wage a war,” attorney David Rivkin said in a statement on Monday.

“It saps the effectiveness of the military, puts American soldiers at risk, and shackles federal officials who have a constitutional duty to protect America.”

A spokesman for the US Justice Department, which has been representing the former defense secretary, had no immediate comment. The Justice Department could appeal to the full appeals court or to the US Supreme Court.

There have been other lawsuits against Rumsfeld and the US government over allegations of abuse and torture overseas, but most involved foreigners, not US citizens, so federal courts have typically dismissed those cases.

A district judge in Washington last week allowed a similar case to proceed involving an American translator who worked in Iraq with the US military and who said he was later detained and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and abuse.

Source

I hope Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel win their case.

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Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 6:03 am  Comments Off on “Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld  
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Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court

Peace activist Rachel Corrie died while protesting in front of a bulldozer trying to destroy a Palestinian home in Rafah in March 2003. Photograph: Denny Sternstein/AP

Friday 26 February 2010

By Robert Naiman

On March 10, in the Israeli city of Haifa, American peace activist Rachel Corrie will get her day in court. Corrie’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing suit against the Israeli defence ministry for Corrie’s killing by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003.

Four key American and British witnesses who were present at the scene – members of the International Solidarity Movement – will be allowed into Israel to testify, despite having been barred previously by the Israeli authorities from entering the country. This reversal by the Israeli authorities is apparently due to US government pressure, The Guardian reported. (Three cheers for any US officials who contributed to this pressure. What else could you make the Israeli government do?)

A Palestinian doctor from Gaza, who treated Corrie after she was injured, has not been given permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza to attend. (This would seem to be important testimony concerning the nature of Corrie’s injuries – did US officials exert pressure for his appearance?)

This case isn’t just about accountability for Corrie’s death. It’s a test case for the power of the rule of law in Israel, when the rule of law comes into conflict with the policies of military occupation.

When the rule of law in Israel comes into conflict with the policies of occupation, the rule of law often loses. But it does not always lose, particularly when the rule of law gets a boost from vigorous protest and political agitation. This month, Reuters reported Israel began rerouting part of its “West Bank barrier” near the village of Bilin – the site of many Palestinian, Israeli and international protests – in response to a petition filed in 2007 by Palestinians whose land was confiscated for the project. This was only a partial victory, because it only affected a minority of the confiscated land. But it shows that the rule of law in Israel is not totally impotent against the occupation, particularly when the rule of law is aided by protest and agitation.

It’s also a test case for the power of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. It’s commonplace among some poorly informed commenters – Edith Garwood of Amnesty International cited Bono, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and President Obama as recent examples – that Palestinians should “find their Martin Luther King.” But this commentary is foolish and retrograde, as Rahm Emanuel might say. A necessary condition for the ascendance of a King- or Gandhi-type movement in Palestine is that if Palestinian nonviolence activists are killed by the Israeli occupation, the government of Israel pays a significant price for that killing. If the Israeli government can kill an American peace activist and pay little price, what chance do the Palestinian Kings and Gandhis have?

It’s instructive to do a press search on the recent developments in the Corrie case. Searching on Yahoo News, I found Israeli and Palestinian press, Jewish and Arab press, British and Australian press. But outside of The Seattle Weekly – Corrie is from Olympia, and Brian Baird is her representative – I found no general US press. Isn’t it remarkable that we Americans have to read the British press to find out about developments in the case of our compatriot? Isn’t this state of affairs something that Bono, Nicholas Kristof and President Obama ought to reflect on, especially given the fact that they have significant ability to do something about it?

The persistence of Corrie’s case as a thorn in the side of the Israeli occupation authorities recalls the 1960s Costa-Gavras docudrama “Z,” about the political fallout from the assassination by the US-supported Greek government of the Greek parliamentarian and peace movement leader Gregoris Lambrakis. There is a powerful scene in the movie in which one of Lambrakis’ associates visits Lambrakis’ widow to deliver the news that four high-ranking military police officers have been indicted in the killing. On the way to meet her, Lambrakis’ associate passes a group of Greek students painting the letter “Z” on the sidewalk, meaning “he (Lambrakis) lives.” Marveling at the students’ determined activism in the face of mounting repression, Lambrakis’ associate said, “It’s almost as if he were alive.”

They murdered her, and yet she dogs them. It’s almost as if she were alive.

Source

Video History: Gaza Occupation Also 2 Videos with Rachel Corrie Bless her dear Heart- May we all remember her with Love

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Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 6:17 am  Comments Off on Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court  
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Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Thousands of protesters are calling for the release of journalist

By Sarah More McCann
December 19 2008

An Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq last Sunday was beaten afterward, an Iraqi judge said Friday. The latest revelation in the incident that has garnered worldwide attention comes amid an Iranian cleric’s call for a “shoe intifada” against the US and praise for the journalist from a Malaysian leader, suggesting that US President-elect Barack Obama will face challenges to overcoming anti-US sentiments.

According to the Associated Press, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi had “bruises on his face and around his eyes” shortly after throwing his shoes at President Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Dec. 14.

Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened an investigation into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes during the news conference Sunday by Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been conflicting claims on his condition since then. One of his brothers said he was harshly beaten, but another said he seemed to be in good condition.

Al-Zeidi “was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him,” the judge told The Associated Press….

The judge said the investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday.

The Guardian reports Mr. al-Zeidi’s family claims US and Iraqi security teams are to blame for any injuries.

Zaidi’s family have said he suffered a broken arm and other injuries after he was dragged away by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents.

Al-Zeidi, who called Bush a “dog,” is currently in custody, and may be charged with insulting a foreign leader, the AP reports. If found guilty, al-Zeidi could face two years or more in prison. Al-Zeidi did not lodge a complaint leading to the investigation of his alleged beating, and there are conflicting reports as to whether he wrote a letter to Mr. al-Maliki asking for clemency.

The incident sparked an outpouring of support for the journalist who tossed the shoes as “retaliation” for the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Middle East Times reports.

For many Iraqis and Arabs… the war was an illegal move against a sovereign nation, it had dismantled the state’s institutions, brought disorder and violence, provided fertile ground for more terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, made more than 4 million homeless, and fragmented an Arab country along sectarian lines. In other words, the war is widely seen as having destroyed Iraq.

So when Zaidi threw his shoes at the U.S. president as a “farewell gift” just a few weeks before Bush leaves the White House, the Iraqi journalist was seen as a hero; Dec. 14 was declared the “start of a shoe revolution,” and wealthy Arab businessmen offered to pay millions to buy the famous footwear that had narrowly missed Bush’s face, but hit the American flag behind him.

On Thursday, The Times (of London) reported that for days, protesters have been calling for the release of the journalist.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

Al-Zeidi’s detainment caused a disruption within Iraq’s Parliament as well, The AP reports.

In parliament, lawmakers had gathered to review a resolution calling for all non-U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of June but those loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr interrupted the session.

They said parliament should focus on al-Zeidi’s case rather than the proposed legislation. The argument escalated with lawmakers screaming at each other, and finally leading [Parliament speaker Mahmoud] al-Mashhadani to announce his resignation, said Wisam al-Zubaidi, an adviser to Khalid al-Attiyah, parliament’s deputy speaker.

Religious and governmental leaders, too, from the Middle East to South Asia have professed support for the journalist, Reuters India explains.

Malaysia‘s foreign minister on Friday praised an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this week,…

“The best show of retaliation so far is the shoe throwing act by that remarkable reporter who gave President Bush his final farewell last week,” Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said at an event to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations.

“That shoe throwing episode, in my view is truly the best Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) to the leader who coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’ to denote Iran, Iraq and North Korea,” Rais said, according to the advance text of his speech.

Mostly Muslim Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country of 27 million people, opposed the Iraq war but is an ally of the U.S. and won favour from Washington after it cracked down on Islamic militants after the 9/11 attacks.

Rais has twice been the country’s foreign minister and usually is known for more measured tones.

In Iran, al-Zeidi received support in some religious circles, the AP reports.

In the Iranian capital Tehran, hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the act at Friday prayers, calling it the “Shoe Intifadha.”

Jannati proposed people in Iraq and Iran should carry shoes in further anti-American demonstrations. “This should be a role model,” said Jannati.

In an interview with Tavis Smiley of NPR, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed the longterm effects of the shoe incident.

“Well, there is always going to be some criticism of American policy because we have to do difficult things, Tavis. And I know that it doesn’t matter who’s in office; we’ll have to do difficult things and sometimes people won’t like them. But what the President stood for and what was important about that trip to Iraq was he got to stand next to a freely elected prime minister of Iraq, in front of journalists who could speak their minds and even vent their anger. And that’s a far cry from when Saddam Hussein was in power. So if America stands for its values, it might not always be popular, but it will be respected.”

But the AP reports President-elect Barack Obama faces an uphill battle to win back the trust of many across the globe.

So the sight of an average Arab standing up and making a public show of resentment was stunning. The pride, joy and bitterness it uncorked showed how many Arabs place their anger on Bush….

The reaction explains in part the relief among Arabs over Barack Obama’s election victory, seen as a repudiation of the Bush era. But it also highlights the task the next president will face in repairing America’s image in the Mideast, where distrust of the U.S. has hampered a range of American policies, from containing Iran to pushing the peace process and democratic reform.

Source

Protests rise over alleged beating of ‘shoe man’ Muntadhar al-Zeidi

December 18, 2008

The furore over President Bush’s shoe-throwing assailant spread through Iraq and across international borders yesterday, claiming its first political casualty as protests grew over his continued detention and alleged ill-treatment.

The brother of Muntazar al-Zaidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst against Mr Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the Shia journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.

Mr al-Zaidi’s family were told that a court hearing had been held in his jail cell instead and that they would not be allowed to see him for at least another eight days. “That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,” Dargham al-Zaidi said, adding that his brother had been treated for a broken arm and ribs at the military hospital in the green zone.

Anger at Mr al-Zaidi’s treatment erupted in the Iraqi parliament, provoking stand-up rows and prompting the resignation of the assembly’s notoriously hot-tempered Speaker. “I have no honour leading this parliament and I announce my resignation,” Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said after quitting the assembly amid chaos created by Shia politicians.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Paki-stani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

In Egypt Muntazer al-Zaidi was so struck by Mr al-Zaidi that he offered his daughter in marriage, a proposition she wholeheartedly supported. “This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” Amal Saad Gumaa, 20, said.

In Afghanistan, Mr al-Zaidi has become the subject of a Saturday Night Live-style television comedy show that used actors to reconstruct the scene.

Mr al-Zaidi has not been seen in public or by his family since he was hauled out from Sunday’s press conference by the bodyguards of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister. He is under investigation pending charges of insulting a visiting dignitary, a crime punishable with a jail sentence of up to seven years.

At the press conference, Mr al-Zaidi, a reporter for the Iraqi al-Baghdadia television channel, rose to deliver a question before pulling off his shoes, one after the other, and hurling them at Mr Bush. “This is your farewell kiss, you dog!” he shouted in Arabic, combining two of the harshest insults in Middle Eastern culture. Mr Bush was uninjured but his press secretary, Dana Perino, appeared before reporters in Washington yesterday sporting a faint black eye, the result of a collision with a microphone in the mêlée.

Mr Bush has laughed off the incident, claiming not to understand the implied insult. It was “just a shoe”, he insisted. But nerves were rising in Washington at Mr al-Zaidi’s continued nonappearance, especially after the official spin that Mr Bush had brought Iraqis the freedom to register such protests without risking imprisonment or torture. The State Department said that it would issue a condemnation if it were true that Mr al-Zaidi had been beaten up.

Mr al-Zaidi’s protest has spawned a rash of viral internet games. One, from Dubai, called “Sock and Awe” gives players 30 seconds to hurl as many shoes as they can at Mr Bush, scoring a point for each direct hit.

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Related Links

Hundreds of Iraqis protest in Kufa, Iraq 19/12/2008

The shoe-throwing attack on US President George W Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has sparked a raft of copycat protests around the world.

Lebanese and Palestinian protesters in Sidon, Lebanon 19/12/2008

This shoe-themed rally in Lebanon followed Sunday’s incident, when Mr Zaidi threw his shoes at Mr Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

A box of shoes outside the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square, London 19/12/2008

Protesters in London even gift-wrapped a box of their shoes – in keeping with the festive season – and labelled it for “George W Bush” at the White House.

A protest in Cairo, Egypt 18/12/2008

In Egypt, ballet shoes were on offer from this reporter who gathered with her colleagues at the Journalists’ Syndicate in Cairo.

A Code Pink member dressed as President Bush is hit with a shoe during a protest near the White House 17/12/2008

The US president was not spared even on his home turf, where a member of the group Code Pink offered his services for target practice in Washington.

Pasban Pakistan activists protest in Karachi 17/12/2008

Protesters – like these in Pakistan – are demanding the release of Mr Zaidi, who has been detained since Sunday and shows signs of being beaten, according to an Iraqi judge.

Turkish leftists protest outside the US embassy in Ankara 18/12/2008

Mr Zaidi could face imprisonment on charges of insulting and attempting to assault a foreign leader, but he enjoys strong support from people in a wide range of countries.

Filipinos throw shoes at a picture of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a Migrants Day protest in Manila 18/12/2008

The shoe-throwing trend is catching on in other parts of the world, with images of other world leaders – like the South Korean leader and the Philippines president – already falling prey.

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Numerous other reports at link below as well as links to petitions to release Muntadhar al-Zeidi.  Be sure to support Muntadhar.

You may even want to send Bush a Christmas greeting.  Information provided for that as well.

Protesters at White house and Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

Censoring victims makes them victims again

November 4 2008

By Kimberly Tsao

Movie theaters cut out the racy scenes from the “Sex and the City” movie. Radio stations change James Blunt’s “Beautiful” song lyrics from “I’m fucking high” to “I’m flying high.” Theme parks blur pictures taken during rides because someone gave the camera the finger. Censorship has even infested courtrooms.

Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront prohibited prosecutors and witnesses from using the words, “rape,” “sexual assault,” “assailant” and “victim” during Tory Bowen’s alleged rape trial, according to 2008 People magazine and Associated Press articles.

Censorship isn’t a power given to judges – it’s an abuse of power in itself.

Bowen’s alleged rapist got off on a mistrial – twice. Perhaps it was because juries at censored trials aren’t notified of judges’ restrictions.

Or perhaps it was because Bowen had to take long pauses so she didn’t violate the judge’s order, thus appearing unsure of herself during her 13-hour testimony. In the end, Bowen took her fight to the Supreme Court, but the justices refused to hear her case last week.

Unfortunately, Bowen’s trial isn’t an isolated case. According to the People magazine article, every state has similar legal principles. In California and Utah, prosecutors aren’t allowed to say “victim” during criminal trials.

What else are they suppose to call them?

According to Merriam-Webster, a “victim” is “one that is subjected to oppression, hardship or mistreatment.” People who’ve been raped undeniably fall under that definition.

Insert “alleged” here. Did those countless years at law school teach defense attorneys nothing? They can say “alleged victim.” Duh.

Censorship is a slippery slope. If the prosecutors can’t say “assailant,” what about “aggressor,” “assaulter,” “goon” or “bushwhacker”? The aforementioned words are all synonyms, so shouldn’t judges ban those terms as well?

If you’re ever raped, forget the law – study the thesaurus. It’ll be your best weapon if you decide to go to court.

In Bowen’s case, Cheuvront permitted the accused and the defense attorneys to call the alleged rape “sex” and “intercourse.”

Perhaps “sex” and “intercourse” aren’t complete opposites of “rape” and “sexual assault,” but they are definitely not synonymous with each other. So why are defense lawyers allowed to substitute the terminologies?

Say “alleged rape” if you want, but call it what it is and in most cases, that isn’t “sex.”

Besides, if we strictly adhere to the law’s so-called rationale, then we could say that thieves only take what they need and that murderers send the dead to a better place. Murderers are population controllers and thieves are Goodwill employees – minus the tax write-offs.

Even if you could disregard the fact that this, like all censorship, is a First Amendment violation, it’s a clearly unfair legal practice.

In a 2007 Slate magazine article, Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “It’s precisely because language is so powerful in a courtroom that we treat it so reverently.” Reverently, yes. Justly, no.

The question of fairness should apply to both the accused and the accuser in all criminal trials.

This could be on a Snapple bottle cap: Did you know that most societies still don’t understand rapes?

If they did, they would deal with rapes the same way they deal with robberies and homicides. The fact that most courts don’t even give the words equal treatment speaks volumes about modern societies’ outdated perception of rapes.

However, the argument for censored trials is that words, such as “rape kit,” are “unfairly prejudicial to a defendant,” according to the same articles.

Following that reasoning, judges should censor the defendants from saying “sex” and “intercourse” because those words are unfairly prejudicial to the victim.

“Sex” and “intercourse” imply consent, which isn’t always the case and is often tricky to determine, especially if the victim was intoxicated.

That’s why we have jurors – all 12 of them. They’re smart enough to be registered voters, so they can certainly sift through evidence. If the judge has trust issues, then a viable alternative to censorship would be jury instruction.

Censorship is blind. It has crossed the line without even realizing it.

To the enforcers of censorship, draw a line. It doesn’t need to be straight.

On behalf of Tory Bowen and other women like her, I cry, “Rape.”

To the judges who rape the victims all over again, take a good look at my middle finger.

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I think what was done by the judge is to say the very least appalling. Rape  is an act of violence nothing less and should not be censored especially in a court room. If they want to censor anything how about the on line porn sites, there are thousands upon thousands of them and many actually promote rape. Tory deserved a fair trial and obviously didn’t receive it. Rape is Rape. It is a horrid crime. She is a victim. “Victim” isn’t a dirty word.

What about Free Speech?  I guess that only applies to criminals or hate groups like the KKK or Skinheads. The rest of Americans especially victims are not granted the same right obviously.  Rape victims have been  re victimized for years and this practice should be stopped. Justice should be for all, including “VICTIMS”.

How sad that anyone like Tory, should have to censor her testimony to suit the judge or the state.

They should be able to tell the truth as it happened.
Rape reported on campus; sixth of semester
November 4 2008

By Matthew Kimel and Andrea Frainier
The sixth reported rape case at San Jose State University of the Fall semester was filed on Oct. 24, according to the University Police Department media log.

The latest report occurred on the sixth floor of Campus Village Building C, according to two of the reported victim’s roommates.

“She brought up two guys, and she didn’t know them,” said one of the reported victim’s freshman roommates.

The roommates said the two men were first brought into their suite by the reported victim around 9 or 10 p.m. on Oct. 22, and the incident occurred around midnight or 1 a.m. Oct. 23.

“We were (present) but we didn’t hear anything,” said one of the roommates who was informed of the incident at the UPD station the next day.

UPD Sgt. Mike Santos said there have been no found links to any of the six reports this semester.

“The main connection,” he said, “is that all but one are alcohol-related and have occurred in the dorms.”

Santos said the case is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.

Meeghan Harrington, resident life coordinator in Campus Village Building C, said she was not allowed to comment on the situation that occurred in her building. She said University Housing Community Relations Coordinator Kevina Brown was the spokesperson for the situation.

Brown said she could not comment on the situation and anything that “regards to sexual assault should be deferred to University Police.”

Brown, however, said efforts are being made to make sure the assaults don’t continue.

“I would suggest (students) use a buddy system and have someone with them at all times,” Brown said. “We’re really trying to get the word out that students should protect themselves.”

Santos said a safety alert was sent to housing after the third or fourth report was taken for students to become “aware of what’s going on around them.”

Students in Building C were not given a direct notice of the safety alert.

The alert has been posted on a bulletin board and within the elevators.

“I saw some in the elevators,” said one of the reported victim’s roommates, “but there’s not any in the dorm’s hallways or stuff like that.”

Brown said the recent assaults are not “far out of the ordinary from what we have seen in the past.”

“It’s an unusually high number,” she said. “I don’t know if I would say it alarms me, but we want to do anything we can do to make sure it doesn’t continue.”

Julianne Aiello, an undeclared freshman and resident of Building C, said she didn’t see the safety alert, but she said she feels safe on campus, especially in the building.

Dan Shively, a junior psychology major, said he wasn’t aware of the Oct. 24 incident.

“I’m pretty sure most people heard about it though,” he said. “It’s being talked about a lot, being safe and whatnot.”

Even though Building C is a dry building, where alcohol is prohibited, Shively said there have been incidents of people abusing this policy. He said he doesn’t think the situation is out of control.

Shively said students from Campus Village are thinking about starting an escort program in which students could call resident advisers to walk them to and from the dorms.

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B.C. court says homeless can camp in parks

Jim Gibson

October 14, 2008

VICTORIA – The city’s homeless can now set up camp in Victoria parks, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision Tuesday.

“Yesterday it was illegal to set up my tent. Today it isn’t,” said David Johnston, one of the homeless activists who argued they have a right to sleep outdoors on public property.

Lawyer Catherine Boies Parker, who acted on behalf of the homeless campers in their court challenge of the city’s anti-camping bylaw, confirmed the 108-page judgment upheld their argument that a City of Victoria bylaw that prohibits using “temporary abodes” like tents and large tarpaulins for shelter in parks and public spaces violates the rights of the homeless.

She said the judgment noted that in the absence of sufficient safe and secure beds for the homeless, it was unconstitutional for the city to prevent them from erecting some form of shelter to protect themselves from the elements.

The decision came three years after a group was arrested in October 2005 for setting up a “tent city” in a Victoria park. The eviction sparked the court challenge.

“We don’t have to search every morning and night for a place to sleep,” Johnston said.

He predicted that tent cities will spring up in other municipalities once the decision becomes widely known.

Such encampments “might be the thing which saves us from the economic crush,” he said.

At a city hall news conference, Mayor Alan Lowe predicted the impact of the decision will be felt throughout Canada.

“This judgment demonstrates what years of cuts to social programming and housing programs has done. Municipal governments were never in the business of providing housing and social support services to individuals in need,” Lowe said, calling on higher levels of government to respond to the court decision.

The judgment does not bode well for city parks, Lowe warned. “Our city parks are not equipped to support camping of any kind.

“We’ve seen first hand the ill effects of tent cities. In 2005 . . . we saw a tent city that had become a hub of illegal activity, health concerns and vandalism,” he said.

“These are not acceptable conditions for our parks and green spaces, but even more importantly these conditions are not acceptable for the homeless.”

Lowe said there were no winners with the judgment. “This is still no way to accommodate our homeless and will be detrimental to the families and children that enjoy our park system.”

At the conference, acting police Chief Bill Naughton said police will respond “situationally” to any homeless encampments.

“We’ll see what confronts us and act accordingly,” he said.
Officers can still respond to criminal behaviours, infractions, despite ruling

Rob Shaw

October 16, 2008

Victoria’s police chief says his officers will still enforce existing laws and bylaws if the homeless community builds tent cities on public property in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

“The toolbox is not empty,” interim chief Bill Naughton said yesterday. “This is a very narrow judgment with very narrow impact, and it’s important to try to not extract more from the judgment than what it says.

“It is not a carte blanche for a tent city, or open season, or [any] of those things.”

On Tuesday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that a city of Victoria bylaw, which prohibits people from erecting tents and large tarpaulins for shelter in parks and public spaces, violates the rights of the homeless.

The ruling said that in the absence of sufficient safe and secure beds for the homeless, it was unconstitutional for the city to prevent them from erecting shelter for protection.

The court case was launched after city broke up a tent city in Cridge Park, at the corner of Blanshard and Belleville streets, in 2005. Yesterday, Naughton said what started then as a political movement was quickly compromised by drug addicts and criminals.

“What you saw was a downward spiral in terms of behaviour as the population began to shift,” he said.

There were assaults among campers and drug activity, he said, along with numerous at-risk vulnerable youth found living at the site.

Enforcing criminal laws — possession of drugs, assaults, etc. — and bylaw infractions, such as fires, was key to controlling the community, he said.

“All those behaviours are unaffected by this judgment,” said Naughton.

“You still can’t light a fire in a public park, or do any of those things. There are still existing bylaws to manage those behaviours. And obviously we’re going to respond to those behaviours. As I said, the [legal] decision doesn’t contemplate the establishment of a permanent tent city.”

Still, the police are looking for direction from city council once it decides how to deal with the campers, some of whom have already set up tents in Beacon Hill Park.

Recent police practice has been to generally let homeless people sleep undisturbed between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., whereupon officers roust them from doorways and parks and ask them to move along.

That will continue, for now, said Naughton. But it will be up to council to decide whether the leniency continues or applies to future campers, he said.

Officers remain overworked as they handle numerous mental health and homelessness calls, said Naughton.

If a tent city does appear, and grows, the police workload will increase significantly, he said. “But at this point I think it’s premature to speculate,” said Naughton.

No special patrols were planned for tents erected at Beacon Hill Park last night.

Police are expected to seek direction from council today at a meeting at city hall.

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