Italian earthquake death toll soars as rescuers work through night
18-month-old girl whose mother survived 2009 L’Aquila quake is among victims as towns including Amatrice are razed
At least 368 more people were injured, the national civil protection agency said in Rome, and an unknown number remained trapped in the rubble of collapsed and damaged buildings in the cluster of ancient hilltop towns and villages, some almost entirely razed by the 6.2-magnitude quake.
Make sure you give a copy to all your friends out there.
The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State
February 11, 2013
On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.
Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.
If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.
“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’
Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.
But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.
Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.
The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”
Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.
I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.
Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.
Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”
The government attempted in court last week to smear Sami Al-Hajj, a journalist for the Al-Jazeera news network who was picked up by the U.S. military and imprisoned for nearly seven years in Guantanamo. This, for me, was one of the most chilling moments in the hearing.
“Just calling yourself a journalist doesn’t make you a journalist, like Al-Hajj,” Loeb told the court. “He used journalism as a cover. He was a member of al-Qaida and provided Stinger missiles to al-Qaida.”
Al-Hajj, despite Loeb’s assertions, was never charged with any crimes. And the slander by Loeb only highlighted the potential for misuse of this provision of the NDAA if it is not struck down.
The second central argument by the government was even more specious. Loeb claimed that Subsection 1021(e) of the NDAA exempts citizens from detention. Section 1021(e) states: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”
Afran countered Loeb by saying that Subsection 1021(e) illustrated that the NDAA assumed that U.S. citizens would be detained by the military, overturning two centuries of domestic law that forbids the military to carry out domestic policing. And military detention of citizens, Afran noted, is not permitted under the Constitution.
Afran quoted the NDAA bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said on the floor of the Senate: “In the case where somebody is worried about being picked up by a rogue executive branch because they went to the wrong political rally, they don’t have to worry very long, because our federal courts have the right and the obligation to make sure the government proves their case that you are a member of al-Qaida and didn’t [just] go to a political rally.”
Afran told the court that Graham’s statement implicitly acknowledged that U.S. citizens could be detained by the military under 1021(b)(2). “There is no reason for the sponsor to make that statement if he does not realize that the statute causes that chilling fear,” Afran told the judges.
After the hearing Afran explained: “If the senator who sponsored and managed the bill believed people would be afraid of the law, then the plaintiffs obviously have a reasonably objective basis to fear the statute.”
In speaking to the court Afran said of 1021(e): “It says it is applied to people in the United States. It presumes that they are going to be detained under some law. The only law we know of is this law. What other laws, before this one, allowed the military to detain people in this country?”
This was a question Judge Lohier, at Afran’s urging, asked Loeb during the argument. Loeb concurred that the NDAA was the only law he knew of that permitted the military to detain and hold U.S. citizens.
Bad enough Americans already have people being Entrapped.
Inside the FBI’s ‘Terror factory’
You could be sent to anyone of these Countries.
CIA used 54 countries for detaining prisoners for toture
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. Must not forget Cuba. Cuba did not help, but did have the US prison there. Guantánamo Bay. Source
Now the Military can help with all of this.
You can bet many of those countries still help the CIA.
Like many who were sent to prison from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries of course.
The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, administered by the United States Department of State offers monetary compensation for individuals who volunteer information that leads to the location, capture, and trial of suspected terrorists. The program also seeks information relevant to finances, assets, and plans of terrorist organizations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) work closely with the Department of State to investigate all information garnered through the Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In 1998, after the bombing of United States embassies in East Africa, the Department of State raised the maximum reward for information to $5 million.
The rewards program not only offers monetary rewards for information aiding anti-terrorism operations, but also promises confidentiality and anonymity for the informant. The United States government further promises to aid and relocate informants whose disclosure of information places themselves, and their family, in jeopardy.
The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program is now a part of a larger anti-terrorism operation, the Rewards for Justice Program. The program pays for information relevant to the arrest and capture of wanted terrorists, both domestic and foreign. As part of the Patriot Act of 2001, the secretary of state can pay rewards greater than $5 million for information leading to the arrest of suspected terrorists. To date, the program has paid $9.75 million to 24 individuals who aided government antiterror investigations.
The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, as part of Rewards for Justice, has had several key successes. Information received through the program led to the arrest and eventual conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef. The highest current priority of the rewards program is information leading to the capture of al-Qaeda front man, Usama bin Laden, and others with suspected involvement in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Source
Have a beef with one of your neighbours.
Turn them in and get a reward. They will of course be tortured until they confess, not to worry.
By the way how do your neighbours feel about you? You could be sent to a black hole never to return.
If the NDAA is accepted you will have no rights at all.
This is what a witch hunt looks like.
Rather reminds me of what is done to Palestinians in Gaza and especially the West Bank. They live under the same rules as the NDAA.
Here is a must read Article.
Max Blumenthal: How Israeli Occupation Forces, Bahraini Monarchy Guards Trained U.S. Police For Coordinated Crackdown On “Occupy” Protests
New York – In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.
At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”
Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.
The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.
Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.
The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.
“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”
Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”
Changing the way we do business
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.
Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.
During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.
Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”
Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.
PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.
Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz
Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”
Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.
The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”
Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.
Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving at the time as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”
A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Demographic Unit
For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officerto Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.
Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”
Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”
The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”
Shop ‘til you’re stopped
At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselvesfor five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.
Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.
Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.
“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.
“Occupy” meets the Occupation
When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.
Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”
“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”
This article is cross-posted from Al-Akhbar.com with permission from the author Max Blumenthal.
You can read more of Max Blumenthal at MaxBlumenthal.com. He is the author of Republican Gomorrah, published by Nation Books.
New leaders in Greece, Italy call for united front to combat debt crisis
Respected economic experts have stepped into the political vacuum created by the collapse of partisan governments in Athens and Rome, raising the hopes that they can build a broad coalition to combat the debt crisis.
November 15 2011
Non-partisan technocrats slated to take the reigns of power in Greece and Italy are seeking to consolidate their political support ahead of upcoming parliamentary confidence votes, while opposition continues to simmer in Athens and Rome over austerity measures aimed at reducing national debts and stabilizing the eurozone.
Mario Monti, nominated by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to succeed Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister, said it was “premature” to discuss whether or not Italy would have to adopt further austerity measures to dig itself out from under 1.9 trillion euros ($ 2.6 trillion) of sovereign debt.
“Blood no, tears no, but maybe sacrifices,” said Monti, an economist and former EU official famous for pursuing trust-busting cases against Microsoft and General Electric during his tenure as Europe’s commissioner for competition.
Several members of Berlusconi’s conservative PDL party have said that Monti should only stay in power long enough to implement economic reforms. Monti, however, opposes any timeline imposed by parliament that would force his prospective government to dissolve before the 2013 national elections.
“If a date before (2013) is set, this haste would take away credibility from the government’s actions,” Monti said.
Monti, who is currently seeking support among Italy’s political parties, has not announced a deadline for the formation of a cabinet. President Napolitano said he hoped a new government would be approved by a vote of confidence this week.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos called on members of his national unity coalition – made up of socialists, conservatives and nationalists – to sign a written pledge to implement the austerity measures demanded by Brussels in exchange for the latest rescue package.
But Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy party, has refused to sign the pledge, saying that he “agrees with the goals to cut government spending” but opposes “whatever stunts growth.”
Papademos, former vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB), came to power after former Greek prime minister George Papandreou resigned in the aftermath of an aborted call for a referendum on the latest EU rescue package. Papademos is scheduled to face a vote of confidence on Wednesday.
The so-called troika – the ECB, EU Commission, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – are expected to visit Athens on Friday to assess whether or not Greece has met the conditions for the next tranche of 8 billion euros in bailout out money, which has been frozen since August. Greece currently has enough reserves to last until December 15.
Ahmad picked up a bright metal object in a park where he was celebrating his 5th birthday in Lebanon. It was an unexploded cluster bomblet, which blew up in his face, killing him slowly in front of his family.
Three years ago, public pressure pushed through a ban of these cruel bombs. But now the US is lobbying nations to quietly sign a new law that allows their use — signing the death warrant for thousands of other children. Most countries are still on the fence on how to vote. Only if we raise the alarm across the world can we shame our governments to block this deadly decision.
Positions are being drawn up now. We only have days until countries meet to send our leaders a clear message: stand up for the cluster bombs ban and keep our children safe. Click below to sign the petition — it will be delivered directly to delegates at the Geneva conference:
Thousands of people — many of them children — have been maimed or killed by these bombs. When they are fired, they spray small “bomblets” over a wide area, many of which fail to explode. Years later, people disturb them in their fields or school playgrounds not knowing what they are, and they explode.
In 2008, over half of the world’s governments outlawed these weapons by signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions. But now, shockingly, countries like France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, who all signed the Convention, are under pressure from the US, China and Russia to run rings round the ban by signing a separate agreement that would allow them to use cluster munitions. Only Norway, Mexico, Austria and a few others are fighting this horror.
Negotiators at the Convention on Conventional Weapons meet in Geneva next week. Most governments don’t really want this protocol and have not said which way they will vote, but they are under severe pressure from the US to comply and will only object if the global public persuades them.
There’s no time to lose — the conference starts on Monday. Let’s call on our governments to reject this deadly and cynical US campaign to legalize cluster killing. Click below to sign the petition and forward this email widely — we’ve done it before, let’s do it again:
Cluster bombs and land mines were banned because citizens raised the alarm across the world — with victims and survivors leading the way. For their sakes and to ensure no more lives are lost, let’s not allow these cruel weapons back and join together now to demand a more peaceful world.
Please pass this on. And do take the time to sign it. US to stockpile cluster bombs in Australia? Despite Australia having signed the convention against cluster munition, a US base may transport and stockpile munition.
There are numerous other videos on Occupy Edmonton on youtube
There are more Occupy Calgary Videos on youtube
Occupy Winnipeg Day 1
More Videos on Occupy Winnipeg on youtube
Occupy Quebec City Short video
Rome not so peaceful
Demonstrators march past a burning car in downtown Rome on October 15, 2011. Tens of thousands marched in Rome as part of a global day of protests inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Indignant” movements, with the Italian capital under a security lockdown. Photograph by: ALBERTO PIZZOLI, AFP/Getty Images
RAW VIDEO – Italy – Riots in Rome – Italian Indignados Protest Turns Violent.
ITALY. Riots in Milan. Students Protest Turns Violent. Assaulted Goldman Sachs Office.
ROME: Protesters torched cars, smashed up banks and set fire to a military building in Rome on Saturday in the worst violence of worldwide demonstrations against corporate greed and government cutbacks.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of the Italian capital for a march that turned violent and equal numbers rallied in Madrid and Lisbon while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange joined angry demonstrators in London.
The protests were inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the United States and the “Indignants” in Spain, targeting 951 cities in 82 countries across the planet in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.
It was the biggest show of power yet by a movement born on May 15 when a rally in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square sparked a worldwide movement that focused anger over unemployment and opposition to the financial elite.
“I think it is very moving that the movement that was born here has extended throughout the world. It was about time for people to rise up,” said 24-year-old Carmen Martin as she marched towards Puerta del Sol.
In the Portuguese capital, where some 50,000 rallied, 25-year-old Mathieu Rego said: “We are victims of financial speculation and this austerity programme is going to ruin us. We have to change this rotten system.”
The protests received unexpected support from Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi, a former executive at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs set to take over as president of the European Central Bank.
“Young people are right to be indignant,” Draghi was reported as saying on the sidelines of talks among G20 financial powers in Paris.
“They’re angry against the world of finance. I understand them,” he added, though expressing regrets at reports of violence.
More protests were staged in Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Geneva, Paris, Sarajevo and Zurich. Thousands also rallied across Canada and in New York and Washington, where they protested outside the White House and the US Treasury.
Scuffles broke out in London, where about 800 people rallied in the financial district by St Paul’s Cathedral, raising banners saying: “Strike back!” “No cuts!” and “Goldman Sachs is the work of the devil!”
Five people were arrested, three for assaulting police officers and two for public order offences, Scotland Yard said.
Three lines of police, and one line at the rear on horseback, blocked them from heading to the London Stock Exchange and pushed back against lead marchers, some wearing masks.
“One of the reasons why we support what is happening here in ‘Occupy London’ is because the banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money,” Assange said from the steps of St Paul’s, flanked by bodyguards.
A protestor holds a placard on the steps of Saint Paul’s cathedral in central London on October 15, 2011. Photograph by: AFP, Getty
Occupy London clashes: Fighting erupts at UK protest
Occupy IRELAND-Dame Street, Dublin. Day 3 -4-5-AND CONTINUE 15th of October OCCUPY WORLD 2011
Police arrested 24 protesters at a bank as thousands marched in New York, where the Occupy Wall Street movement that sparked the global demos began on September 17 with activists taking up residence in the heart of the Financial District.
In Miami, a city that rarely hosts mass demonstrations, at least 1,000 people marched downtown. The crowd included youth and retirees standing up against corporations, banks and war. No police could be seen as the group approached government buildings.
Over 10,000 Canadians blew bubbles, strummed guitars and chanted anti-corporate slogans at peaceful protests in cities across the country.
“I believe a revolution is happening,” said 30-year-old Annabell Chapa, who brought her one-year-old son Jaydn along in a stroller.
The European Union also became a target for anger as the eurozone debt crisis continues, with some 9,000 protesters marching to the EU’s headquarters in Brussels and rallying outside the ECB’s headquarters in Frankfurt.
In Rome, the march quickly degenerated into running street battles between groups of hooded protesters and riot police who fired tear gas and water jets into the crowd amid a security lockdown in the Italian capital.
“Today is only the beginning. We hope to move forward with a global movement. There are many of us and we want the same things,” said one protester, Andrea Muraro, a 24-year-old engineering student from Padua.
“Only One Solution: Revolution!” read a placard. One group carried a cardboard coffin with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s name on it.
Berlusconi later condemned the “incredible level of violence” at the march.
He said the clashes were “a very worrying signal for civil coexistence.”
Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno said “we’ve seen the worst of Europe today in Rome.”
Seventy people were injured in the clashes and treated by medics, including three in a serious condition, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Backing from Italy’s main trade unions and student movements boosted the numbers at the protest in Rome — in contrast to most of the other rallies.
As the day began, around 500 people gathered in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district to vent their anger. About 100 demonstrators in Tokyo also voiced fury at the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Another 600 demonstrators in Sydney set up camp outside Australia’s central bank, where the plight of refugees and Aboriginal Australians was added to the financial concerns. Source
Why & how is it that international laws & international bodies & international public figures paid to maintain peaceful co-existence keep silent while even endorsing repeated NATO bombings that have killed thousands of innocent men, women & children & destroyed public & private property in a show of supremacy & arrogance over the nations they have targeted? NATO war crimes extend from Yugoslavia, to Iraq, to Afghanistan & now Libya. Why are international laws being manipulated to pressurize nations politically less powerful yet bountiful in natural resources or placed in influential economic routes? This simply explains why nations are invaded in the present context & how NATO has become above the law.
Were there terrorists in power plants, electricity grids, water supply networks? Were there terrorists among shops, universities & schools, stores, hospitals, farms & markets? These have been key targets of NATO in its endless bombing campaigns which totally violate its own Charter & the UN Charter. So if Justice is quiet what is the use of the International Criminal Court at The Hague? If the ICC is a tool, a manipulative organism that twists legal principles it is time the rest of the world knew about these duplicities, ambiguities & double standards & demand that it either stops the double standards or these members vote for another alternative.
NATO in Yugoslavia
The International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia formed in 1993 was only a means to justify Western intervention in the Balkans. It has no links to the International Court of Justice based in The Hague. The Tribunal is made up of US influenced appointees so will NATO crimes in Kosovo be investigated? Was it a surprise when the Tribunal branded President Milosevic a war criminal & the US is against the establishment of any international court that can charge US military & political personnel with war crimes?
What NATO is accused of is violating the UN Charter– it is a violation to attack a sovereign nation that was innocent of any aggression. NATO’s Charter Article 1 & 7 has also been violated – NATO is supposed to function as a “DEFENSIVE organization, & only committed to force if ONE or MORE of its members are attacked! NATO Treaty in fact recognizes the UN Security Council to maintain international peace & security. NATO’s violation of the Hague Convention Article 22 & 23, Geneva Convention Article 19, Nuremberg Principle VI a,b,c & the US Constitution Article 1 Section 8, Clause II is for “killing & injuring a defenseless population through Yugoslavia”.
The usual excuse is given as “humanitarian” intervention & that was what the Clinton administration used, incidentally Mussolini used it to invade Ethiopia to save them from slavery & Hitler used it to occupy Sudetenland to save Germans.
If the US used the Nuremberg principles to charge Germany for “starting an unprovoked war” shouldn’t the US be charged on similar grounds?
On 22 September, 2000 in the District Court of Belgrade, the President of the Court handed down guilty verdicts against government leaders of NATO countries for “war crimes”. These defendants were Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, Robin Cook, George Robertson, William Cohen, Hubert Vedrine, Alain Richard, Gerhard Schroeder, Joschka Fischer, Rudolf Scharping, Javier Solana and Wesley Clark. The sentence was for 20 years in a Yugoslav prison & thus arrest warrants were issued upon all charging each for crimes against humanity & breaches of international law, inciting an aggressive war, war crimes against civilians, use of weapons banned under international law, violating Yugoslavia’s territorial sovereignty & attempting to murder Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia between March 24 & June 10, 1999.
Former US President Bill Clinton was sent a verdict on April 18th, 2001 sentencing him in absentia to 20 years in prison for “crimes against civilians”.
The entire West is not as inhuman as we think. The Commission of Inquiry of the International Action Coalition charged in 1999 Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen for violating the Geneva Convention, the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, Helsinki Accords & the US Constitution. The 19 charges included starting a war, deliberate targeting of civilians infrastructure & violating & destroying peacemaking role of the UN. One of the main arguments was that despite the Yugoslav parliament agreeing to NATOs demand of autonomy & armed UN peacekeepers in Kosovo why it was bombed! Instead of the mass graves that was similar to the WMD in Iraq, there were perhaps just 200 dead persons – the 100,000 dead Albanians that NATO & US were promoting as grounds to attack was just a lie.
NATOs air strikes in Serbia killed over 2000 civilians & wounded more than 7500. NATO has owned up to only 460 civilian deaths. The dead included farmers, city dwellers, reporters, diplomats, people traveling in public transport, patients in hospitals, the elderly & even children. That is the human factor – what about the enormous damages to the environment as a result of these NATO bombings – poisoning water supplies, loss of electricity that affects hospitals & other emergency requirements? There is evidence that some Spanish pilots refused to drop bombs on non-military targets.
Another accusation against NATO was the bombing of all bridges across the international waterway through Eastern Europe – the River Danube. Some of these bridges were bombed while civilians were on them. All that NATO leaders said were that the incidents were “accidents”. This clearly violates the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949 & the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) – 8th June 1977.
NATO strategy was to destroy the whole infrastructure of Yugoslavia – that was why it targeted public services, rail & road networks, waterways. The objective was always to detach Kosovo.
If one were to read the book (The White Book) published by the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NATO crimes in Yugoslavia, the book will reveal the damage caused by NATO bombings & lists 400 civilian deaths & over 40 incidents involving civilian fatalities.
If NATOs actions were illegal under its own treaty, in particular since aggressive military action was taken without UN mandate the killings that ensued were war crimes.
What is clear is that the US & UK Governments deliberately waged war against Yugoslavia by building a propaganda campaign that would be internationally welcomed & accepted by their countrymen.
On 5th January 2000, Yugoslav Government stepped up pressure to indict NATO country leaders – US President Bill Clinton & UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for crimes against humanity in Yugoslavia in 1999. This followed a submission for instigating proceeds before the International Court of Justice in April 29, 1999 & ICC setting a deadline for legal action on 30th June 1999 & Yugoslavia meeting that deadline on 5th January 2000. “Yugoslavia demands that the Court declare these countries responsible for the violation of major international obligations, which ban the implementation of force against countries, interference into their internal affairs or the violation of their sovereignty, as well as other international obligations. The indictment also included the demand for confirming the responsibility of these countries for their failure to prevent the genocide against the Serb people and other non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, in which way they violated the obligations stemming from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Crimes . . . Yugoslavia is also demanding that the Court instruct all countries, which are being sued to pay compensation for all the damages inflicted”.
NATO war crimes in Iraq
The Geneva Conventions are clear “Civilians shall not be the object of attack.” According to the UN Security Council resolution, military forces were tasked with expelling Iraqi forces that invaded Kuwait. That task involved 88,000 tons of bombs that killed civilians & killed more civilians through the destruction of power grids, food, water treatment, sewage systems. US soldiers used napalm to incinerate entrenched Iraqi soldiers. US soldiers dropped fuel-air explosives, cluster bombs that use razor-sharp fragments to shred people. Depleted uranium were used to penetrate tanks causing long term health hazards, the economic embargoes have killed as many as 1million Iraqis.
Why did the US & its allies deliberately destroy Iraq’s water supply & not repair it? Why did these western nations repeatedly bomb infrastructures for flood control, municipal & industrial water storage, communication towers, irrigation & hydroelectric power? (8 multi purpose dams, 7 major pumping stations, 31 municipal water & sewage facilities were destroyed). These have nothing to do with Saddam or his supporters – these are services needed for the people of Iraq.
They were bombed to create – waterborne diseases which have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians & the bombs & weapons used have caused radiation poisoning as a result of depleted uranium shells.
Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states “it is prohibited to attack, destroy or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population” – including foodstuff, livestock & drinking water supplies & irrigation works”.
Why were these acts not treated as war crimes under the Geneva Convention & does this not constitute genocide by US & allies?
NATO war crimes in Afghanistan
If NATO has committed war crimes in Iraq & Yugoslavia, should we be surprised to read of NATO war crimes in Afghanistan? Indiscriminate bombings killing unarmed civilians have only been answered with an “apology” by NATO. The presence of US & NATO troops in Afghanistan was similar to that which took place in Yugoslavia – without any proof a country has been taken over. Indiscriminate bombings mean rebuilding projects being handed over to profit-driven private corporations. The irony is that the Afghan government are compromising the welfare of its own citizens for its own financial benefits. This has caused a rise in Pashtun nationalism & indirect support for the Taliban. Thus it has been easy to pass blame for NATO killings on the Taliban while civilian deaths keep piling, infrastructure continues to be bombed & anarchy prevails throughout Afghanistan.
NATO in Libya
NATO’s Libya operation followed the UNSC Resolution which NATO has violated seen through its presence on ground, bombing of civilian structures. Greatest violation is by NATO taking sides which is illegal, illegal too is the murder or attempt to murder government officials with no formal declaration of war. NATO is also using cluster bombs & depleted uranium which is also illegal. NATOs violations in Libya are many & what we would like to know is why is the ICC silent?
In the case of Libya, the ICC has no jurisdiction for Libya never ratified the Rome Treaty nor has the US. However, under international laws a Head of State has immunity. So if ICC does not question the US & its crimes against humanity why should ICC question Libya when the UN Security Council cannot refer to the ICC according to its Statute? ICC has been considering action against Georgia since 2008, against Guinea since 2009 & against Colombia since 2006 but the ICC took just 3 days to find Libya guilty.
The NATO countries participating in air strikes in Libya include France, UK, US, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands & Italy. What excuse does NATO have for bombing a Downs Syndrome School, the University of Tripoli, the man-made waterway irrigation system which supplies most Libyans with drinking water, bombing a hospital killing over 50 many of whom were children, bombing villages killing civilian population – is this not genocide & can the ICC continue to watch doing nothing?
The sinister campaign to take over Libya was by first projecting to Gaddafi that the US “deeply valued the relationship between the United States & Libya” (2009) This was because British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, Chevron, Conoco, Marathon Oil & industrial giants like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical & Fluor signed investments & sales deals with Libya. The US State Dept awarded a $1.5m grant to train Libyan civilian & government security forces in 2009. Many of these “trainees” are now leading the NATO-backed “rebel forces”.
Thus, the pretence of being a “friend” to Gaddafi by the US since 2009 was to get Gaddafi to agree to allow foreign presence in Libya.
For months now NATO has been pounding Libya. Over 30,000 air & missile assaults on mostly civilian infrastructure was expected so too was the “rebel uprising” for they had been already trained to rise against Gaddafi. NATO also bombed Libyan airports, ships, energy depots, ports & highways, warehouses, hospitals, waterplants & civilian homes. NATO was able to garner diplomatic support inclusive of the Arab League, NATO took services of hired mercenaries in Qatar. Libyan assets were frozen amounting billions of dollars. Economic sanctions were imposed by NATO cutting off Libya’s income from oil sales.
International media also controlled by western imperialists were relaying images that portrayed rebels waving rifles & shouting against Gaddafi. These rebels entered towns that had been devastated by NATO air attacks! What these rebels did was to rob homes, banks & destroy public institutions on the instructions of NATO. Going against Gaddafi does not equate to ruining infrastructure & destroying property that is used by one’s own people!
NATO wanted Libya to be destroyed. Like NATO destroyed Yugoslavia & Iraq. NATO wanted to ensure Libya had to be “reconstructed” because all these contracts would eventually go to profit-making western companies!
Incidentally, Libya is a country that had boasted the highest per capita income & standard of living in Africa.
What took place in Libya is a message from the imperialists for other nations in North Africa, Asia & Latin America. US-NATO are already engaged in colonial wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen & Somalia. What about the fall of Mubarak of Egypt & Ben Ali in Tunisia while uprisings in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria were all associated with movements demanding end to EU-US & Israeli domination of the region & would have caught their intelligence by surprise.
NATO provided the money to silence the “people’s march to democracy” & the situation in Egypt is far worse than during Mubaraks reign! In Bahrain the West called for “reform” while continuing to arm the Bahraini royal family as seen in the NATO backed Saudi invasion of Bahrain to support the royal dictatorship. In Yemen, the West continued to support the Ali Saleh regime. Nevertheless, NATO is apparently providing support to Islamic fundamentalists in a move to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad.
What did Libya do to anger the West? Did the West not like its pursuance of pro-African agenda which had funded an independent regional bank & communications system designed to bypass IMF & World Bank control?
What has ensued is that like in Iraq & Afghanistan there is likely to be a dominating US-NATO present that is looking towards a military offensive in Iran & Syria. Sub-Saharan Africa may like to remember Gaddafi’s generous aid, grants & loans that helped these nations from IMF, World Bank. Who will remember Gaddafi’s development programs, construction projects that offered many jobs to sub-Saharan African immigrant workers. Despite all these maneuvers, China is still bracing ahead over its western counterparts.
July 22, 2011 is the date when NATO hit the Libyan water supply pipeline. Days later NATO hit the pipeline factory producing pipes to repair it. Both incidents could not have been accidents. NATO went on to target civilian water supply network that supplied water to 70% of Libyan population. Nevertheless, the truth will emerge just like Libya is now revealing how it funded French President Sarkozy’s election campaign & the numerous secret meetings Tony Blair held with Gaddafi & there must surely be more in the Pandora’s box which is why the West is in a haste to bump of Gaddafi as they did to Osama & Saddam – all previous friends of the West.
It is certainly time that UN member states stood up against aggression by Western neo-imperialism. Member states must demand a probe into all the atrocities by NATO & demand that these nations steering NATO be charged with war crimes. Russia & China need to champion this cause.
With only 28 nations making up the NATO alliance, the UN has 53 African member nations & 48 Middle-East & Asian nations & 12 nations in South America. It is opportune for these non-NATO members to make a voice within the UN & demand that NATO be investigated for all of its war crimes & be charged for every war crime committed. Source
Migrant workers used and abused becoming an epidemic world wide. A few story’s on the topic.
Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers
March 12 2010
By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs Editor
Foreign labourers employed in the meat and poultry industry face physical and racist abuse by British staff, an investigation has found.
Many workers reported being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers, said investigators from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Some of the worst abuses were committed against pregnant women who were also forced to continue to undertake work that posed risks to their health, including heavy lifting and extended periods of standing.
The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories – some of which supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets – and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.
The report said: “Physical and verbal abuse were not uncommon, with a fifth of workers interviewed reporting being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers; over a third of workers interviewed said they had experienced, or witnessed verbal abuse, often on a daily basis.”
It added: “Workers also reported being refused permission to take toilet breaks, and subsequently urinating or bleeding on themselves at the production line.”
Responding to the report, union leaders said “Britain’s Supermarkets should hang their heads in shame”.
Unite Deputy General Secretary, Jack Dromey said: “The EHRC report exposes labour practices in the supermarket supply chain that are an affront to human decency – physical and verbal abuse, a lack of health and safety protection, shameful treatment of pregnant women and a culture of fear. The report says, and rightly so, that there are reputable employers but they are undercut by the rogues.”
The inquiry, which was launched in October 2008, examined the employment and recruitment practices in the sector to identify differences in pay and conditions between agency and temporary workers and employees with permanent or directly employed status.
One third of the permanent workforce and over two thirds of agency workers in the industry are migrant workers. At one in six meat processing sites involved in the study, every single agency worker used in the past twelve months was a migrant worker. This is in part due to difficulties in recruiting British workers to what is physically demanding, low paid work. It may also be due to perceptions amongst employers and agencies that British workers are either unable or unwilling to work in the sector.
More than eight out of ten of the 260 workers that gave evidence said that agency workers were treated worse than directly employed workers. Seven out of ten workers said they thought they were treated badly in factories or by agencies because of their race or nationality.
Neil Kinghan, Director General of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The Commission’s inquiry reveals widespread and significant ill-treatment in the industry. We have heard stories of workers subjected to bullying, violence and being humiliated and degraded by being denied toilet breaks. Some workers feel they have little choice but to put up with these conditions out of economic necessity.
This happens in other countries as well. The UK is not alone on this one.
New Center Report: Foreign Guestworkers Routinely Exploited by U.S. Employers
Guestworkers who come to the United States are routinely cheated out of wages; forced to mortgage their futures to obtain low-wage, temporary jobs; held virtually captive by employers who seize their documents; forced to live in squalid conditions; and denied medical benefits for injuries, according to a new report released by the Center today.
“Congress should reform our broken immigration system, but reform should not rely on creating a vast new guestworker program,” said Mary Bauer, director of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project and author of the report. “The current program is shamefully abusive in practice, and there is almost no enforcement of worker rights.”
The 48-page report, based on interviews with thousands of guestworkers and dozens of legal cases, describes the systematic abuse of workers under what is known as the H-2 system administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program was created in 1943 to allow the sugar cane industry to bring in temporary workers and was revised by Congress in 1986 to include non-agricultural workers.
Employers in 2005 “imported” more than 121,000 temporary H-2 guestworkers 32,000 H-2A workers for agricultural work and 89,000 H-2B workers for jobs in forestry, seafood processing, landscaping, construction and other non-agricultural industries.
“Guestworkers are usually poor people who are lured here by the promise of decent jobs,” Bauer said. “But all too often, their dreams are based on lies, their hopes shattered by the reality of a system that treats them as commodities. They’re the disposable workers of the global economy.”
Hugo Martin Recinos-Recinos, a former guestworker from Guatemala, borrowed thousands of dollars to pay recruiting fees for a forestry job in the United States. “I had to leave the deed to my home,” he said. “When I got to the U.S., I was always underpaid, living in small hotel rooms and working 10-hour days. The debt from my recruitment and travel to the States made the low pay even harder to bear. When I filed a lawsuit about the conditions, my family and I were threatened. The guestworker program was abuse from beginning to end.”
The most fundamental problem with the H-2 system is that employers hold all the cards. They decide which workers can come to the United States and which cannot. They decide whether a worker can stay in this country. They usually decide where and under what conditions workers live and how they travel.
Guestworkers are typically powerless to enforce their rights. “If guestworkers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting or other retaliation,” the report says.
“Guestworkers don’t enjoy the most basic protections of a free labor market the ability to change jobs if they are cheated or abused by their employer,” Bauer said.
The rights that H-2 workers do have exist mostly on paper. The federal government has failed to protect them from unscrupulous employers, and most cannot obtain private legal assistance to enforce their rights through the courts.
The report concludes that the H-2 guestworker program should not serve as a model for immigration reform, but in fact should be overhauled if allowed to continue. It offers specific recommendations to remedy the worst abuses.
“The mistreatment of temporary foreign workers in America today is one of the major civil rights issues of our time,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “For too long, we’ve reaped the economic benefits of their labor but have ignored the incredible degree of abuse and exploitation they endure.
“Congress now has an opportunity to right this terrible wrong. As part of the reform of our broken immigration system, Congress should eliminate the current H-2 system entirely or commit to making it a fair program with strong worker protections that are vigorously enforced.” Source
Apparently they have been attempting to get things changed.
US firms ‘paid Colombia militias’
Also from 2007
The right-wing paramilitary groups were formed
as private armies in the 1980s
A paramilitary commander has accused US companies which buy Colombia’s bananas of financing illegal right-wing militias that have killed thousands of people in more than a decade. In testimony to investigators, jailed commander Salvatore Mancuso named Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte as having made regular payments to the paramilitaries, according to Jesus Vargas, a lawyer for victims of paramilitary violence who was present at the hearing.The hearing was closed to the press.
Mancuso testified that “each one paid one [US] cent for each box of bananas they exported”, according to Vargas. ‘War taxes’
Mancuso’s lawyer, Hernando Benavides, confirmed his client’s testimony.
Mancuso did not specify why the companies paid the illegal militias but paramilitaries commonly exact “war taxes” from businesses and ranchers in areas where they operate.
Across the country, the paramilitaries countered leftist rebel extortion. They also served as union busters, and killed hundreds of labour rights activists.
A spokesman for California-based Dole Food denied the accusation.
“Recent press accounts implicating Dole with illegal organisations in Colombia is absolutely untrue,” said Marty Ordman.
A Del Monte spinoff, Del Monte Fresh Produce, has a subsidiary in Colombia that buys bananas. It did not immediately return phone calls from the Associated Press.
Chiquita Brands International has previously acknowledged that a subsidiary, Banadex, paid paramilitaries $1.7m over six years.
The Colombian chief federal prosecutor’s office says a Banadex ship was also used to unload 3,000 Kalashnikov rifles and more than 2.5 million bullets in 2001.
It agreed to pay a fine of $25m in a deal with the US justice department.
Chiquita says the payments were made to protect the safety of its workers but Colombia’s chief prosecutor has said companies that made such payments shared the responsibility for paramilitary murders.
Labour and human rights activists say Colombia companies and multinationals routinely paid paramilitaries to act as union busters and kill union leaders.
Mancuso, testifying as part of a peace deal with the government, also accused Colombian beverage and coal companies of paying “taxes” to the paramilitaries.
Wealthy landowners and drug traffickers first created the paramilitaries in the early 1980s to protect them from rebel extortion and kidnapping but the groups have since largely degenerated into murderous gangs.
The paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, were listed as a “foreign terrorists organisation” in 2001 by the US government.
The prosecutor’s office estimates the paramilitaries left at least 10,000 bodies across this war-scarred terrain in mass graves. Source
So if you can’t abuse them in yhour own contry abuse them where they live.
One has to wonder how many other countries do this?
One hundred years after the world recognised the role of women in society, women are still robbed off their rights.
On the occasion of the 100th year anniversary of International Women’s Day yesterday, Caram Asia calls upon governments in both sending and receiving countries to protect the rights of migrant women who constitute more than half of the migrant population in the world today.
March 1 2010 will go down in history as the date when tens of thousands of the four and a half million immigrant population of Italy threw down the gauntlet to the racist government of Silvio Berlusconi and the ever-widening persecution emanating from the pores of a society deep in crisis, by going on strike. It was a challenge to a society that in the time-honoured capitalist manner is increasingly forced to survive by sowing and maintaining divisions among the majority it exploits, scapegoating its weakest and most vulnerable.
Like all great social change movements, Fair Trade is a messy and imperfect project.
A grassroots movement that for some emerged in opposition to global free trade eventually gave rise to an ambitious labeling and certification system that has now grown into a complex global organization. A simple yet powerful idea that began with small scale coffee farmers now spans a vast range of products that includes soccer balls and soon artisanal gold. From the 1988 launch of the world’s first Fair Trade labelling initiative, Stichting Max Havelaar is today part of a worldwide network of twenty-three certifying bodies, that includes TransFair Canada, and three producer networks within the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International.
Check to see if what you buy is Fair Trade Goods or those done by slave labor or unscrupulous employers who abuse their workers.. Always check for the logo on goods you purchase. Fair Trade Labeling International
This is unbelievable. All of the countries are also violating International Laws as well.
Hamas has little to nothing in comparison to Israel.
The difference is staggering.
Shame on those who supply grossly, massive, amounts of Weapons of Mass Destruction to Israel.
Foreign Arms Supplies To Israel/Gaza Fueling Conflict
Both Israel and Hamas used weapons supplied from abroad to carry out attacks on civilians. This briefing contains fresh evidence on the munitions used during the three-week conflict in Gaza and southern Israel and includes information on the supplies of arms to all parties to the conflict. It explains why Amnesty International is calling for a cessation of arms supplies to the parties to the conflict and calling on the United Nations to impose a comprehensive arms embargo.
With fragile ceasefires now in place in Gaza and southern Israel, the full extent of the devastation caused in recent weeks is becoming increasingly clear. Amnesty International researchers visiting Gaza and southern Israel during and after the fighting found evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by all parties to the conflict.
In the three weeks following the start of the Israeli military offensive on 27 December, Israeli forces killed more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 300 children and many other civilians, and injured over 5,000 other Palestinians, again including many civilians. Israeli forces also destroyed thousands of homes and other property and caused significant damage to the infrastructure of Gaza, causing a worsening of the humanitarian crisis arising from the 18-month blockade maintained by Israel. Some of the Israeli bombardments and other attacks were directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip; others were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Amnesty International has found indisputable evidence that Israeli forces used white phosphorus, which has a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated residential areas in Gaza, putting the Palestinian civilian population at high risk. Israeli forces’ use of artillery and other non-precision weapons in densely-populated residential areas increased the risk, and the harm done, to the civilian population.
During the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups continued to fire indiscriminate rockets into residential areas of southern Israel, killing three civilians.
Direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks are war crimes.
Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations, and the Security Council (SC) in particular, to establish an immediate independent investigation into allegations of war crimes and other serious violations of international law committed by all sides to the conflict and for those found responsible to be brought to justice in order to ensure accountability. The organization notes and welcomes the investigation established by the UN Secretary-General into attacks on UN installations in Gaza but considers this insufficient, and that an independent international investigation must be held into all allegations of war crimes and other violations of international law by all the parties to the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. As well, Amnesty International is calling on the UN, notably the Security Council, to impose an immediate, comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, and on all states to take action individually to impose national embargoes on any arms or weapons transfers to the parties to the conflict until there is no longer a substantial risk that such arms or weapons could be used to commit serious violations of international law.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that weaponry, munitions and other military equipment supplied to Israel have been used by Israeli armed forces to carry out direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Amnesty International is also concerned that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have been firing indiscriminate rockets, supplied or constructed of materials supplied from outside Gaza, at civilian population centres in southern Israel.
Misuse of conventional arms by Israeli forces
Hundreds of civilians taking no part in the hostilities, including over 300 children and more than 100 civilian police cadets who were not directly participating in the hostilities, were killed in attacks by Israeli forces against the Gaza Strip. Civilian homes and other buildings, including medical facilities, schools and a university, were also damaged or destroyed by Israeli air strikes and artillery and other attacks — artillery is an area weapon, not one that can be used with pinpoint accuracy, and so should never be used in densely-populated civilian areas.
Amnesty International researchers, including a weapons expert, found various fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army during the three-week military offensive launched on 27 December. They include fragments of artillery shells (white phosphorus, high explosive and illuminating), tank shells, mortar fins, highly incendiary white phosphorus-impregnated felt wedges, anti-tank mines and a range of live and spent bullets casings of various calibres – including 7.62 mm, 5.56 mm and the larger .50 calibre.
The information below describes the types of munitions and military equipment used during the conflict that Amnesty International has documented, including in circumstances which violate international humanitarian law and, in some cases, may amount to war crimes.Amnesty International called on the Israeli authorities to disclose the weapons used by their forces in Gaza so that medical staff would be adequately informed to treat victims of the conflict.
Air delivered munitions
Amnesty International found remnants of air-delivered munitions — ranging from fragments of 20mm cannon and Hellfire and other missiles fired from helicopters and unmanned drones, to large fragments of large laser-guided and other bombs dropped from F-16 warplanes, as well as pieces of rocket motors, circuit boards and other electrical components of the missiles. Fragments from these bombardments are all over Gaza – on the streets, in school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people’s homes. Fragments from one 500lb bomb contained the inscription ‘For use on MK-82 fin guided bomb’ and the markings 96214 ASSY 837760-4. The cage code 96214 indicates that this fin was produced by the US company Raytheon. A US government solicitation notice dated 22 October 2001 for ‘bomb spare parts’ included AFG Fin, Raytheon part number 837760-4.
By the rubble of the American School in Gaza, Amnesty International delegates spoke to the father of the school guard, Mahmoud Mohammed Selmi Abu Qleiq, who was killed when Israeli F16 aircraft bombed the school campus. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed as a result of bombardments by F-16 aircraft.
At the northern end of the al-Shati (Beach) refugee camp in Gaza City, Amnesty International visited the Abu ‘Eisha family. Five members of the family – three children and their parents – were killed on the night of 5 January, when an Israeli aircraft dropped a bomb which struck and partially destroyed the house. The following day, 6 January, another Israeli F-16 bombardment killed 23 members of the al-Daya family, most of them children and women, as they slept in their home in the Zaytoun district of Gaza City. When Amnesty International delegates visited the ruins of the house two weeks later, several of the dead were still trapped under the huge pile of rubble.
On Wednesday 28 January, at the home of the Mardi family in Atatra, where 20 members of the family lived, Amnesty International delegates found one of the anti-tank mines that was used by Israeli soldiers to blow up the family’s house on 4 January. The mine was damaged but had failed to explode. The family said that they had found another such mine, wholly unexploded, which had been removed by the local police. The mine, like others – exploded and unexploded – found by AI delegates in the rubble of other destroyed houses, bore Hebrew writing and serial numbers. Though designed for use against tanks, these mines are easily adapted to other purposes through the addition of an explosive charge and fuse. Israeli soldiers have previously confirmed to Amnesty International that these anti-tank mines have long been used to destroy Palestinian houses, most often in the West Bank but also in Gaza.
Artillery and Mortars
During the three-week military campaign Israeli forces made extensive use of artillery including 155mm white phosphorus shells (see below White Phosphorus) in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians. Homes, schools, medical facilities and UN buildings — all civilian objects – took direct hits from Israeli artillery shelling. Artillery shells are for use on conventional battlefields and are not capable of pinpoint targeting. Yet in Gaza they were fired into densely-populated civilian residential areas.
In an UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahia, where 1,600 people were sheltering from the fighting, an artillery carrier shell hit a classroom on the second floor where 35 people were sleeping at 6am on 17 January. Two brothers, aged five and seven, were killed and 14 others were injured, including the boys’ mother, whose leg had to be amputated. Two days after the incident Amnesty International delegates found remains of 155 mm white phosphorus artillery shells and still smouldering remains of white phosphorus at the school.
Eleven days earlier, on 6 January, mortar shells fired by Israeli forces had landed in the street outside another UNRWA school in Jabalia, killing at least 41 people, among them 10 members of one family.
There is evidence that white phosphorus was used by Israeli forces across Gaza. Amnesty International came across many white phosphorus 155mm artillery carrier shells throughout Gaza with markings M825 A1 — a US-made munition. These are the same markings of the 155mm white phosphorus shells photographed in Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) stockpiles (see section Arms supplies to Israel below).
Several white phosphorus artillery shells hit the UNRWA field operations headquarters in Gaza City on 15 January, causing a large fire which destroyed tens of tons of humanitarian aid, including, medicines, food and other non-food items.Amnesty International delegates who visited the site found the marking PB-91K018-035 on the fragments of one of the artillery shells which is the lot number and indicates that they were assembled by Pine Bluff Arsenal (PB) in 1991 (91) in October (K).
Amnesty International found that the Israeli army used white phosphorus, a weapon with a highly incendiary effect, in densely-populated civilian residential areas in and around Gaza City, and in the north and south of the Gaza Strip. The organization’s delegates found white phosphorus still burning in residential areas throughout Gaza days after the ceasefire came into effect on 18 January – that is, up to three weeks after the white phosphorus artillery shells had been fired by Israeli forces. Amnesty International considers that the repeated use of white phosphorus in this way in densely-populated civilian areas constitutes a form of indiscriminate attack, and amounts to a war crime.
White phosphorus is a weapon intended to provide a smokescreen for troop movements on the battlefield. When each 155mm artillery shell bursts, it releases 116 wedges impregnated with white phosphorus which ignite on contact with oxygen and can scatter, depending on the height at which it is burst (and wind conditions), over an area at least the size of a football pitch. In addition to the indiscriminate effect of air-bursting such a weapon, firing such shells as artillery exacerbates the likelihood that civilians will be affected. When white phosphorus lands on skin it burns deeply through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the patient’s body or even those treating the injuries.
A 16-year-old girl, Samia Salman Al-Manay’a, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza City, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house at 8pm on 10 January. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she told Amnesty International that she was still experiencing intense pain due to the burns to her face and legs. “The pain is piercing. It’s as though a fire is burning in my body. It’s too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong.”
Amnesty International has seen documents written during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza by the office of the Israeli army Chief Medical Officer and Medical Field Operations headquarters.A document signed by Colonel Dr Gil Hirschorn, head of trauma in the office of the army’s Chief Medical Officer, states: “When the phosphorus comes in contact with living tissue it causes its damage by ‘eating’ away at it. Characteristics of a phosphorus wound are: chemical burns accompanied by extreme pain, damage to tissue … the phosphorus may seep into the body and damage internal organs. In the long run, kidney failure and the spread of infection are characteristic … In conclusion: a wound by an ordnance containing explosive phosphorus is inherently dangerous and has the potential to cause serious damage to tissue.”
Another document entitled “Exposure to White Phosphorus,” prepared by Medical Field Operations HQ and sent from the Health Ministry, notes that “most of the data on phosphorus wounds stems from animal testing and accidents. Exposure to white phosphorus is highly poisonous, according to many lab experiments. Burns covering a small area of the body, 12-15 percent in lab animals and less than 10 percent in humans, may be lethal as a result of its effects, mostly on the liver, heart and kidneys.”
In addition to the danger posed by the incendiary effect of white phosphorus, the artillery shells themselves continued to pose lethal threat after they dispersed the white phosphorus, as they continued on their trajectory and in many cases smashed into home full of civilians.
In Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, Amnesty International delegates found white phosphorus artillery carrier shells, both whole and in fragments, in several homes in a densely-populated residential area. In one home, they found the fragments of another 155mm artillery carrier shell which had killed 47-year-old Hanan al-Najjar, a mother of four. She and her family had fled their home and were staying with relatives in a residential area well inside the town. On the evening of 10 January an artillery shell penetrated the roof of the house and travelled through two rooms, breaking up in the hall, where a large fragment hit Hanan in the chest, almost severing the upper part of her body. She was killed instantly. In the patio of the house, Amnesty International delegates found an artillery shell (illuminating round) and in a nearby house they found another whole artillery carrier shell which had crashed through the wall and landed on the young couple’s bed, where a baby had been sleeping only minutes earlier.
Illuminating artillery shells
Amnesty International delegates encountered 155mm M485 A2 illuminating shells used by the IDF which had landed in built up residential areas in Gaza. These eject a phosphorus canister, which floats down under a parachute. At least three of these carrier shells were found which had landed in people’s homes. These shells are yellow and one had the following markings: TZ 1-81 155-M 485 A2. TZ is a known marking on Israeli ammunition.
At the home of journalist Samir Khalifa, in the Zaitoun district of Gaza City, Amnesty International delegates found a 155mm artillery shell which had smashed into his fourth floor apartment at 6am on 10 January, striking the room next to where he and his wife and children usually slept The family escaped harm as they were sleeping downstairs with the grandparents.
Flechettes are not specifically prohibited under international humanitarian law. However, their use in densely-populated civilian areas in Gaza contributed to unlawful killings of and injuries to civilians. Flechettes are 4cm long metal darts that are sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 of these darts are packed into 120mm shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m long and 100m wide.Flechette rounds are designed to be used against massed infantry attacks or squads of troops in the open and obviously pose a very high risk to civilians when fired in densely-populated civilian residential areas, as deployed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.
Amnesty International investigated several deaths and injuries of civilians in Gaza caused by flechettes in January.In one case, on 4 January 2009, an ambulance arrived about 15 minutes after a missile strike in Beit Lahiya that apparently targeted five unarmed young men. The ambulance was hit a few minutes later by a tank shell filled with flechettes. Two paramedics were seriously wounded in the incident and one of them, Arafa Hani Abd-al-Dayem, later died.
The following morning, Israeli forces fired several flechette shells into the main road near the Abd al-Dayem family home in ‘Izbet Beit Hanoun, to the south-west of the town of Beit Hanoun. Two people, a child and a woman, were killed and several others were injured. Sixteen-year-old Islam Jaber Abd-al-Dayem was struck in the neck by a flechette. He was taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit but died three days later. Mizar, his brother, was injured in the same attack and still has a flechette lodged in his back. Nearby, 21-year-old Wafa’ Abu Jarad, who was pregnant, her two-year-old son, her husband, and her father and brother-in-law were all injured by flechettes in the courtyard of their home. Wafa’ Abu Jarad died of her injuries two days later.
Amnesty International has previously documented Israeli forces‘ use of flechette rounds in Gaza resulting in the killing of children. The manner in which shells containing flechettes were used by Israeli forces in Gaza — fired in densely populated civilian areas – violates the international law prohibition on indiscriminate attack. Prior to their use during the recent military offensive, the last known incident when flechettes were used in Gaza was on 16 April 2008, when Israeli soldiers fired a flechette tank shell at Reuters journalist Fadel Shana, while he was filming the tank, killing him and three other unarmed civilians, including two children.
In 2001, Jane’s defense publication quoted an Israeli military source, who stated: “The Israeli military obtained these weapons from the USA after the 1973 war and we have thousands of old shells in warehouses…The weapon is not regarded as reliable or effective and gunners have a difficult time in aiming this properly.”
The markings on the base of one tank round found by Amnesty International delegates in Gaza at the destroyed house of the Abu ‘Ida family indicated that it was a 120mm M830 High Explosive Multi Purpose Cartridge made in the USA.
Amnesty International delegates found fragments from 120mm tank rounds all over Gaza, including in homes where these munitions had killed children and other civilians. Tank rounds are precision munitions. The killings of so many civilians, many in their homes, indicates that these munitions were — at best — used in a reckless or indiscriminate manner. In Jabaliya, north Gaza, at the home of Dr Izz al-Din Abu al-‘Eish, a gynaecologist who works in an Israeli hospital, Amnesty International delegates found fragments of the two 120mm tank shells which were fired by Israeli soldiers into the bedroom of Dr Abu al-‘Eish’s daughters on the afternoon of 16 January. Three of the doctor’s daughters and his niece were killed on the spot and another daughter and niece were seriously injured.
Missiles from UAVs — or “drones”, helicopters and aircraft
Three paramedics in their mid 20s — Anas Fadhel Na’im, Yaser Kamal Shbeir, and Raf’at Abd al-‘Al — were killed in the early afternoon of 4 January in Gaza City as they walked through a small field on their way to rescue two wounded men in a nearby orchard. A 12-year-old boy, Omar Ahmad al-Barade’e, who was standing near his home indicating to the paramedic the place where the wounded were, was also killed in the same strike.
Amnesty International went to the scene of the incident with the two ambulance drivers who had accompanied the paramedics and who had witnessed the attack and met the child’s distraught mother and found the remains of the missile that killed the three paramedics and the child. The label read “guided missile, surface attack” and the USA is mentioned as the weapon’s country of origin.This AGM 114 Hellfire missile, usually launched from Apache helicopters, was produced by Hellfire Systems of Orlando,a Lockheed Martin/Boeing joint venture, under a contract with the US Army’s Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama which uses the number DAAH01-03-C-0106 on its contracts.
Amnesty International found evidence of missile components, including Hellfire AGM 114, from the air attack on the police cadet parade that took place on 27 December 2008. One of the electrical components had “made in France” written on it.
Amnesty International delegates in Gaza also found evidence of the use of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned drones, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2 and 4 mm square in size. This purpose-made shrapnel can penetrate even thick metal doors and many were seen by Amnesty International’s delegates embedded deep in concrete walls. They appear designed to cause maximum injury and, in some respects, seem to be a more sophisticated version of the ball-bearings or nails and bolts which armed groups often pack into crude rockets and suicide bombs. The signature of these new missiles, in addition to the deadly tiny metal cubes, is a small and deep hole in the ground (about 10 cm or less in diameter and up to several metres in depth) and a small quantity of shrapnel made of very thin metal, seemingly from the missile’s casing.
An X-ray of a young man who had been injured in one of these missile attacks, which killed a dozen youths and injured several others, showed the tiny metal pellets still embedded in his thigh.
A 13-year-old girl who was asleep in her bed; three primary school-age boys who were carrying sugar canes; two young women on their way to a shelter in search of safety; a 13-year-old boy on his bicycle; eight secondary school students who were waiting for the school bus to take them home; an entire family sitting in the courtyard of their home, and many others were all killed in attacks with these missiles.
Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME)
There have been reports of the use by Israeli forces of DIME munitions in Gaza. Amnesty International researchers in Gaza were not able to confirm the use of such weapons but they interviewed doctors who described treating patients with injuries that could be consistent with the use of DIME weapons.
According to the military publication, Jane’s Intelligence Defence Review, DIME munitions contain high explosives mixed with a powdered, high-density metal such as tungsten, a design which reportedly”improves the blast impulse and lethality near the detonation point (near field) but reduces the more distant (far field) effects.”
DIME munitions are not specifically prohibited under international law. However, as a relatively new weapon, there are questions about their long-term health consequences, which require further study. It is suspected by some scientists that embedded weapons-grade tungsten alloy shrapnel rapidly causes cancer in rats and, while it is not known whether the rate of inducement would be equivalent in human beings, further studies are required into the effects, and risks posed to humans exposed to it, of weapons–grade tungsten shrapnel.
Some medical doctors in Gaza described attending victims who had unusual wounds that might have been caused by DIME weapons. Patterns of injury include limbs severed in a sharp amputation-like manner, with wounds looking as if cauterized and with little or no bleeding; very deep burns; and unexplained deterioration and deaths of patients with seemingly light injuries. Doctors are finding it difficult to treat these patients because of uncertainty about the nature of the munitions which caused the injuries.
Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to disclose the weapons and munitions used by their forces in Gaza, in order to facilitate treatment of the injured. The organization believes further studies are required before it can be determined whether the use of DIME munitions is lawful under international law. If it were determined that such weapons cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, or if they violate the provisions of the Protocol on Non-Detectable Fragments (Protocol I to the Convention on Conventional Weapons) of 10 October 1980, then their use even against combatants, not only civilians, would be prohibited.
Unlawful use of indiscriminate rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups
Palestinian armed groups affiliated to Hamas and to other Palestinian factions (including the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s party) have been launching rockets into towns and villages in south Israel. Although most of these rockets fall in empty areas, they have caused the deaths of several Israeli civilians, injured scores and caused damage to civilian property. In some cases these rockets have failed to reach Israel and have fallen inside Gaza, and some have killed and injured Palestinian civilians. In January 2009, as an increasing number of Palestinian rockets hit Ashkelon, Israeli officials reported that up to 40 percent of the city’s 122,000 inhabitants had left their homes temporarily to stay in other parts of Israel. Sderot and villages in the area have also been similarly affected.
The rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups cannot accurately be directed at specific targets especially at longer distances. They include rockets described as Grads (Russian generic names which may indicate specific (Grad 122mm) calibres, or generically describe multiple-launched rockets) which have a range of about 35km, and home-made short range “Qassam” rockets (another generic name).The military publication Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor has described the “Qassam” rockets as: “inaccurate, short-range and rarely lethal”. According to Jane’s the “Qassam” is a Palestinian improvised artillery weapon.Amnesty International delegates visited Sderot and Ashkelon police stations, where they saw the rockets which have struck the towns and surrounding areas, including Grads, Qassams and Quds. The latter two are very crude, rusty 60, 90, or 120mm pipes about 1.5 metres long with fins welded onto them. They can hold about five kilograms of explosives as well as shrapnel in the form of nails, bolts, or round metal sheets which rip into pieces on impact. They have a range of up to 20km, but cannot be aimed accurately. Grad rockets are more professionally built and according to Israeli Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld are smuggled into Gaza, not produced locally there.
According to the Israeli army, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launched 643 rocket attacks on Israel between 27 December 2008 and 11 January 2009. See the table for more information:
Fueled IDF Reports of Number of rocket attacks by Hamas
27 December 2008 — 11 January 2009
Seven Israeli civilians were killed in 2008 by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza into communities in south Israel. Three of the victims were killed in separate attacks on three consecutive days, on 27, 28 and 29 December 2008.
Fifty-eight-year-old Beber Vaknin was killed when a rocket fired from Gaza hit his apartment building in Netivot on 27 December 2008. The following day, on 28 December a 27-year-old Bedouin, Hani al-Mahdi, was killed and 16 of his co-workers were injured when a Grad rocket missile launched by Hamas militias from Gaza exploded at a construction site in the town of Ashkelon, where the group worked. A third Israeli, Irit Sheetrit, aged 39, was killed the following day, on 29 December 2008 when another Grad rocket hit the centre of the town of Ashdod. As with the attack of the previous day, Hamas also claimed responsibility for the attack.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Hamas and all other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza to stop firing indiscriminate rockets against towns and villages in southern Israel, and continues to do so.2
Arms supplies to Israel
Israel is a significant manufacturer of conventional arms, falling within the top 10 of arms exporters in the world, but also relies on imports of military equipment, parts and technologies. For example, Merkava-4 tanks produced in Israel have used diesel engines assembled in the USA incorporating components produced in Germany.
Since 2001, the USA has been by far the major supplier of conventional arms to Israel based on the value of export deliveries of all conventional arms including government to government as well as private commercial sales. US foreign military sales to Israel have continued on a large scale (see Appendix 1). The US authorities reported to the UN that the USA commercially traded $1,313 million in “arms and ammunition” to Israel in the years from 2004 to 2007, of which $447 million was traded in 2007. Israel did not report this trade to the UN. These figures for US trade would normally exclude gifts of military equipment and associated or “dual use” equipment and technologies. In addition to this trade, the USA has provided large funding each year for Israel to procure arms despite US legislation that restricts such aid to consistently gross human rights violators.
Since 2002, during the Bush administration, Israel received over $21 billion in US military and security assistance, including $19 billion in direct military aid under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. Put simply, Israel’s military intervention in the Gaza Strip has been equipped to a large extent by US-supplied weapons, munitions and military equipment paid for with US taxpayers’ money.
Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” which includes “acts of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.” Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act authorizes the supply of US military equipment and training only for lawful purposes of internal security, “legitimate self-defense,” or participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations or other operations consistent with the U.N. Charter. However, under the US Export Administration Act, security assistance may be provided if the President certifies that “extraordinary circumstances” exist, so Section 502B is circumvented. The Leahy Law, named after the senator who introduced the amendment to US legislation, prohibits the USA from providing most forms of security assistance to any military or police unit when there is “credible evidence” that members of the unit are committing gross human rights violations. Assistance can resume if the government in question takes “effective measures” and, under the Pentagon’s interpretation of the law, if the foreign government filters out the “few bad apples” in that particular unit, security assistance can continue.
On 16 August 2007, the US and Israeli governments signed a 10-year agreement for the provision of $30 billion in US military aid. Full details of the package were not disclosed; however, it is reported to include a new generation of F-35 fighter jets, advanced bombs, and laser-guided missiles. This military aid package, amounting to $3 billion per year, represented a 25 percent increase of the US annual military aid appropriation to Israel of $2.4 billion. Israel was already the largest recipient in the world of US military aid before the proposed increase. Even after the start of the current conflict and reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law by the IDF in Gaza, the US authorities continued to authorize large consignments of US munitions, including white phosphorus munitions, to Israel.
Other major arms exporting states such as France, Germany and the UK have been exporting far less to Israel than the US since 2004 but nevertheless these exports appear significant. According to the EU’s 2008 report on arms export licences, published in December for the 2007 calendar year and consolidating the accounts that Member States must annually submit, 18 EU Member States authorised a total of 1,018 such licences to Israel worth €199,409,348. France, Germany and Romania were the top three exporters. France issued export licences worth €126 million, Germany authorised €28 million and Romania €17 million. Export authorisations from states do not necessarily correspond to actual arms export data in any one year for a variety of reasons, but licence authorisations do show the willingness of governments of exporting States to equip Israel’s armed forces. Actual annual arms export data from the EU to Israel until the end of 2007 are shown in the table below.
Under Criterion 2 of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, Member States are supposed to “deny an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression” or “be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”. The term “internal repression” “includes, inter alia, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, summary or arbitrary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and other major violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in relevant international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” Across the EU, only 28 export licences were refused as a result of human rights, internal security or regional stability reasons.
As a result of political pressure in some EU countries concerned about the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, nine EU states including Sweden now claim not to export any arms to Israel and states such as Italy and the UK have claimed to restrict their exports of conventional arms overall, but sometimes such exports to Israel consist of components or transit trade. Nonetheless export data show that such states have exported infantry weapons, military vehicles and components for arms sent to Israel.
Other significant suppliers of military equipment to Israel since 2001 are (in alphabetical order) Austria, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea and Spain. The Netherlands and Greece have been major transit countries for military equipment sent to Israel. Albania, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Brazil, Colombia, and India are reported to have been in the top 20 commercial suppliers of arms and ammunition.
International obligations regarding conventional arms transfers
The UN Security Council, in Operative Provision 6 of Resolution 1860 (2009), of 8 January 2009, called on Member States “to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to … prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition…” According to the 1996 United Nations Guidelines for International Arms Transfers, the term “illicit arms trafficking is understood to cover that international trade in conventional arms, which is contrary to the laws of States and/or international law.”
The responsibility of all states to prohibit international arms transfers that will facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights derives from their obligation not to participate in the internationally wrongful acts of another state. The principle is stated in Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts in terms which reflect customary international law, binding on all States. Article 16 states: “A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if: (a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and (b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State.” General international law prohibits conduct that involves patterns of blatant abuse and complicity in such a pattern of blatant abuse. The expression “gross” or “serious” violation of human rights is commonly used to convey a sense of scale, evoking both the number of violations and the gravity of their consequences for the victims. It also suggests a measure of intent.
The table below shows the USA and EU suppliers of conventional arms to Israel, including government to government transfers and commercial sales — up to the most recent period publicly available.
Actual Export of US and EU conventional military equipment to Israel for the period 2004 to 2007:
This shows actual exports of military equipment as reported by the USA and EU governments. The value of the deliveries is shown in the different currencies as reported. Statistics are compiled differently by states. There is no available data for 2008. The above has been compiled, with the exception of the USA, in alphabetical order of the countries named.
Major commercial suppliers of infantry weapons, munitions and armoured vehicles, and aircraft to Israel
Based upon customs data submitted by states to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade) the US accounted for 95 percent of all commercial sales – which are those sales made directly to Israel by manufacturers to foreign recipients falling within the broad UN customs category 891 of “arms and ammunition” between 2004 and 2007 amounting to a total recorded value of over US$1.3 billion. Other major suppliers in this category were Serbia and Montenegro (in 2004), Poland, Romania, Serbia (since 2005), South Korea, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland and Austria.
The table below shows the top 20 arms suppliers to Israel by value in US$ according to this UN customs category of “arms and ammunition”, code 891. UN data is not yet available for 2008.
Top 20 Arms and Ammunition Deliveries to Israel between2004-2007 measured in US$
Serbia and Montenegro (2004 only)
A note on UN Comtrade data
No useful information is submitted by States to the UN Comtrade database on the quantity or exact types of military equipment or munitions transferred. The only indicator of the size of the shipment(s) is the value in US$. Also, not all States report or report reliably to the UN and do not necessarily report their trade statistics for each and every year. However, UN Comtrade data can be used to ask governments about the exact nature of these deliveries, what equipment they exactly covered, what quantity, who the end-user is and what is the intended end-use. Nonetheless, the UN data does show which States are the main suppliers of arms to Israel.
Aircraft and Helicopters
Over the years, the US has also supplied Israel with US-made F-16 combat aircraft, Apache AH-64 helicopters and Black Hawk UH-60 combat helicopters.
According to the most recent data available submitted to the UN Register on Conventional Arms by the US government, during 2007 the US exported to Israel one M577A2 Command armoured combat vehicle; 18 F-16D combat aircraft; and 50 LAU-129 A/A launcher missile launchers.In 2006, the USA exported to Israel 21 F16 aircraft in 2006 and 42 Bell AH-1F Cobra.The Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship incorporates the 2.75 inch rockets fired from 7-tube M158, 19-tube M200, 7-tube M-260, or 19-tube M261 rocket pods, the M65 TOWmissile system and the M197 20mm gun.
Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles
According to the UN Comtrade database the following countries are the top five suppliers of equipment under the category of ‘tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles’ code 89111.
Top 5 suppliers of armoured fighting vehicles between 2004-2007 in US$
According to the UN Comtrade database, the US was the largest commercial supplier of “munitions of war” under the code 89129 to Israel between 2004-2007 with US$480 million – 98% of all commercial sales in this category.
Top 10 deliveries of ‘munitions’ 2004-2007 in US$
Serbia and Montenegro (2004 only)
According to research by Amnesty International and International Peace Information Service (a NGO based in Antwerp), Serbian and Bosnian companies have in recent years exported large quantities of small arms ammunition and components, as well as artillery shell and mortar components to Israeli companies that supply such weapons to the IDF. Such exports have been sanctioned by the governments of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzogovina.
The primary Israeli importer of small arms ammunition components and finished products from the Balkans is the company Israeli Military Industries (IMI). During 2005 and 2006, IMI imported millions of rounds of 5.56 calibre ammunition from the Prvi Partizan factory in Serbia. IMI also ordered 45 million rounds of 5.56 calibre ammunition compatible with IDF assault rifles from a Bosnian factory in September 2005. IMI continued to import massive quantities of IDF compatible ammunition from Serbia. IMI is the leading small arms supplier to the IDF. See below for information on small arms and light weapons.
Rockets and Missiles
Israel typically uses the AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles which are fired from the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The armament of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter consists of the 2.75 inch (70mm) Hydra rockets carried in 19-tube rocket pods and the M230 30mm chain gun.The US supplies these to Israel as the table below shows.
Proposed US Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress 2005-2008 (DSCA)
Radio Frequency (RF) TOW 2A Missiles
TOW 2A Fly-to-buy Missiles
AGM-114K3 HELLFIRE II Missiles
AGM-114L3 HELLFIRE II Longbow Missiles
AGM-114M3 HELLFIRE II Missiles
PATRIOT Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus (GEM+)
M72A7 66mm Light Anti-Armor Weapons (LAAWs),M72AS 21mm Sub-Caliber Training Rockets.
The table below shows proposed US supplies of the GBU-28 ‘bunker buster’ and other bombs to Israel between 2005 and 2008.
Proposed US Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress 2005-2008 (DSCA)
GBU-28 bombs that include: BLU-113A/B penetration warhead, WGU-36A/B guidance control unit, FMU-143H/B bomb fuze, and BSG-92/B airfoil group guide. Also included are: support equipment; testing, spare and repair parts; supply support; publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and
other related elements of logistics support.
MK-84 (Tritonal) general purpose bomb units
MK-84 live bombs;
MK- 82 live bombs;
BLU-109 live bombs;
GBU-28 guided live bombs
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB1)
The US Department of Defense contracted Boeing in September 2006 to incorporate focused lethality munition (FLM) technology into small diameter bombs.According to the table above 1000 GBU-39s were ordered in September 2008 by Israel. There are reports that the FLM uses DIME technology.
Artillery shells including white phosphorus shells
During the Gaza conflict, photographic evidence emerged of the Israeli army using stocks of white phosphorus smoke shells. Amnesty International has identified the pale blue 155mm rounds, clearly marked with the designation M825A1, as an American-made white phosphorus munition.White phosphorus is also marked in the US list of munitions due to be carried on a ‘ship of shame’ from the USA to Israel — see section on “US arms ships” below.
The table below shows government-to-government sales’ notices for the shipment of artillery munitions from the US to Israel:
Proposed US Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress 2005-2008 (DSCA)
M433 40MM High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) CartridgesM930 120MM Illuminating CartridgesM889A1 81MM High Explosive Cartridges with M935 FuzesM107 155MM High Explosive Artillery RoundsM141 83MM Bunker Defeat Munitions
Israeli companies such as Soltam Systems have also purchased large quantities of key mortar and artillery shell components from Bosnia & Herzegovina.Soltam Systems is a leading supplier of artillery and mortar shells to the IDF.
Small Arms and Light Weapons
Israel makes its own pistols, assault rifles (Galil and Tavor), machines guns and other light weapons, while such items in the hands of Hamas and other Palestinian groups are usually former USSR types smuggled in from unknown sources.
The US has been a large supplier of firearms and light weapons to Israel. Many Israeli soldiers can be seen carrying M4 carbine assault rifles. According to EU reports for exports to Israel during 2007, Bulgaria and Poland issued licences for small arms and/or light weapons worth over €2 million, with Germany, Spain, Slovenia and the UK approving small amounts of less than €500,000.
The top five suppliers to Israel of ‘military weapons’ (under the code 89112 in the UN Comtrade database) have been:
Top 5: 2004-2007In US$
The EU’s 2008 consolidated report on arms exports lists “electronic equipment specifically designed or modified for military use” with licences for export to Israel approved by France (€89 million) and Germany (€5 million) during 2007. In addition, France approved the export of €22 million of “imaging or countermeasure equipment for military use”. The US is also thought to be a major supplier of such equipment.
According to the UN Comtrade data, the US was the largest commercial supplier of “parts and accessories for military weapons and non-military weapons” to Israel. Between 2004 and 2007 the US exported US$151 million-worth of such parts and accessories – 97% of all commercial sales in this category. Other suppliers include: Austria which shipped $3,045,131 worth during the same period; the Netherlands $361,841; the UK $279,565 and the Czech Republic $116,304. The table below shows proposed government to government transfers from the US to Israel:
Proposed US Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress 2005-2008 (DSCA)
Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK-82 warhead;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK-83 warhead;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK- 84 warhead;
FMU-139 live fuze components; and
FMU-152 live fuze components.
The UK is also coming under increasing scrutiny about the export of components. Amnesty International remains particularly concerned about the exports of UK components that may have been incorporated into military systems used by the IDF. The introduction in 2002 of revised UK guidelines for the control of exports of components for incorporation in military systems were specifically intended to allow the export of UK components to the USA for incorporation in military equipment such as F-16 combat aircraft and Apache combat helicopters which were known be exported to the Israel. The UK has also licensed components for a wide variety of military equipment directly to Israel. Details contained within UK government reports do not allow for a meaningful assessment of the end-user of this equipment, but Amnesty International has concerns that some of this equipment, particularly components for UAVs and naval equipment, may have been exported to Israeli military forces and used for serious violations.
In addition, numerous credible sources, including company promotional literature, established defence industry journals and sources from within the Israeli military have stated that a UK company provides the engines for the Hermes 450 pilotless “drone” UAV aircraft manufactured in Israel by Elbit systems. The Hermes 450 UAVs are currently operated by the IDF as well as other armed forces. It has been widely reported that the Hermes 450 UAV uses a ‘UEL AR-80-1010’ engine manufactured by a company based in Lichfield. The initial version of the aircraft was reportedly powered by an ‘AR741’ engine, also produced by the Lichfield company, when at the time the IDF were the only users of the Hermes 450.
A spokesperson for Elbit Systems has denied these claims, stating that whilst the UK company does provide engines for Hermes 450s that are destined for export, the UK company does not provide the engines for any of the drones used by the Israeli armed forces. Amnesty International is not alleging any illegality on the part of UK companies, nor suggesting that any of its exports have not been authorised by the necessary export licenses from the UK government.
UAVs have been extensively used in combat operations by the IDF in Lebanon and Gaza. The claims have been strongly Denied by Elbit systems, the Israeli manufacturer of the Hermes 450, who have stated that UK engines are only used in variants manufactured for export and not used by the IDF. Amnesty International-UK has written to the UK government to seek assurances that it has not licensed components for use in UAVs and that it has undertaken sufficient end-use monitoring to ascertain that UK engines are not and have not been used in UAVs operated by the IDF. Government officialshave admitted that they are unable to say whether UK engines have been incorporated into drones used by the IDF. MPs are calling for a full account into arms exports to Israel. The lack of a robust end-use monitoring and verification system hampers public and parliamentary scrutiny of UK arms supplies, especially where it concerns the transfer of components that are incorporated into military equipment.
According to the Canadian NGO Ploughshares, Canadian-built components are also included in many US weapons systems that are exported to Israel.
Under the Foreign Military Sales program the US government regularly provides the Israeli government with various fuels: EN590 diesel fuel and JP-8 jet fuel. Because of its properties JP-8 is also used in ground-based operations, for example armoured vehicles.See appendix two for a table showing fuel contracts for the Israeli government between 2002 and 2008.
Current US arms ships
Since early December 2008, the US Military Sealift Command has been organizing three large deliveries by sea of military ammunition and high explosives, including explosives with white phosphorus, from the US base at Sunny Hill, North Carolina, to an Israeli port near Gaza.
On 4 December 2008, the USA’s military shipping service, Military Sealift Command, issued a request to charter a commercial cargo vessel to move a very large consignment of “containerized ammunition and other containerized ammunition supplies” from Sunny Point, North Carolina — the location of a US Military Ocean Terminal – to Ashdod in Israel. The contract was awarded on 8 December 2008 to a German shipping company, Oskar Wehr KG GmbH, and the cargo was due to be loaded in North Carolina on 13 December 2008.
The US military tender request indicated an extremely large quantity of ammunition and associated supplies: the first planned shipment consisted of the equivalent of 989 standard (20ft) shipping containers of cargo, and required the ship to carry at least 5.8 million lbs (around 2600 metric tons) of ‘net explosive weight’, a measure of the explosive content of the cargo. The ship was placed under the tactical control of the US Sealift Logistics Command for the duration of the voyage, and was required to have up to 12 US armed forces personnel on board.
On 31 December 2008, just four days after the start of Israel’s attacks on targets in Gaza, a second request was issued by the US Military Sealift Command for a ship to transport two further shipments of ammunition from Astakos in Greece to Ashdod, Israel. These shipments were to comprise 157 and 168 standard shipping containers of ammunition with a net explosive weight of nearly 1 million lbs. The ‘Hazard Codes’ of the cargo indicate that the cargo would include articles containing white phosphorus.
Planned US munitions shipments to Ashdod (Israel), according to US tender documents:
Latest Arrival Date in Ashdod
Cargo Size (equivalent no. of 20ft shipping containers)
Net Explosive Weight (lbs)
Sunny Point, NC, USA
13 Dec 2008
?? (42 day charter)
18-19 Jan 2009
22 Jan 2009
25 Jan 2009? [latest arrival date in Astakos]
29 Jan 2009
Transport tenders for these second and third shipments were cancelled on 9 January. However, a US military spokesperson confirmed on 12 January that they were still seeking a way to deliver these shipments, likewise destined for the Israel stockpile. US forces have also previously transferred ammunition consignments between vessels at sea around the Greek mainland and Crete.
According to Amnesty International research with the NGOs TransArms and the Omega Research Foundation, on 20 December 2008, the first delivery of 989 containers was taken from North Carolina in a container ship, the Wehr Elbe, owned by Oskar Wehr KG. This arms ship entered Gibraltar on 28 December, but the German firm told Amnesty International that its ship did not unload the arms in Israel. According to maritime tracking facilities, the Wehr Elbe sailed off the coast of Greece near Astakos for several days then disappeared off the radar on 12 January reportedly after the Greek Government refused to grant permission to tranship the munitions to Israel. The Wehr Elbe has a capacity of over 2,500 20 ft shipping containers and thus has the capacity to load the first shipment of ammunition in North Carolina, load the other shipments in Astakos, and sail on to Ashdod. As of 27 January, according to maritime tracking facilities, the ship’s last port of call was Augusta, Italy. As of 17 February, the ship has not subsequently docked anywhere.
According to a report from Reuters on 9 January 2009, a US naval spokesperson stated that the delivery was “to a pre-positioned U.S. munitions stockpile in Israel in accordance with a congressionally authorized 1990 agreement between the U.S. and Israel…This previously scheduled shipment is routine and not in support of the current situation in Gaza.” However, the portion of US Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) maintained in Israel is the War Reserve Stocks for Allies — Israel (WRSA-I) stockpile. According to information provided to Congress in 2003 by the US Department of Defense, this is a “separate stockpile of U.S.–owned munitions and equipment set aside, reserved, or intended for use as war reserve stocks by the U.S. and which may be transferred to the Government of Israel in an emergency, subject to reimbursement.”
Arms supplies to Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups
Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have smuggled small arms, light weapons, rockets and rocket components into Gaza, using tunnels from Egypt into Gaza; this weaponry has been acquired from clandestine sources. “Katyusha” rockets are originally Russian-made, but those being used by Palestinian fighters are unlikely to have been acquired directly from Russia. Such imports and holdings are on a very small scale compared to those of Israel. A rocket arsenal that provides an offensive or deterrent capability similar to that fielded by the Lebanese group Hizbullah during the 2006 war with Israel is beyond the reach of Palestinian militant groups.
It is reported by Jane’s Defence Weekly that Hamas has an estimated rocket arsenal of 3,000, primarily locally made, short-range rockets: the Qassam 1, 2 and 3. The longer-range rockets are purchased abroad and smuggled into Gaza via Egypt. These include the 122mm Grad rocket, originally Russian-made, the Iranian-made 220mm Fadjr-3, and allegedly also Chinese-made rockets smuggled from Sudan. The explosives used in the warheads is either manufactured locally from fertilizer or smuggled into Gaza through tunnels or from the sea.
Over the years several arms shipments allegedly en route to Gaza are reported to have been intercepted by Israeli or Egyptian security forces. In May 2006 the Israeli Navy said it had intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat with 500kg of weapons grade TNT.The Egyptian police said they recovered 1,000 kg of explosives in Sinai — 30 km from Gaza – in October 2006.Also, in 2008, several large caches were reportedly recovered: Egyptian police uncovered a cache in May 2008 containing 500kg of TNT500 metres from the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.In late May 2008, an Egyptian police official told the Associated Press news agency that the Egyptian authorities had found ammunition boxes, RPGs and anti-aircraft missiles apparently bound for Gaza some 80 km south of Rafah.
The table below estimates the Hamas rocket arsenal:
According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, Hamas is in the possession of several home-made anti-armour rockets: the Al-Battar, the Banna 1 and Banna 2.
There have been several reports that Iran has provided military equipment and munitions, including rockets, to Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups but Amnesty International has not seen any evidence to verify these allegations.
Impose UN SC arms embargo – Impose immediately a comprehensive UN Security Council arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that weapons or munitions and other military equipment will not be used to commit serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. This must include ensuring that alleged violations are thoroughly and impartially investigated and accountability, with any persons who are found responsible being brought to justice in fair trials.
Suspend All Arms Transfers – Act immediately to unilaterally suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions, as well as those which may be diverted, to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. The suspension should include all indirect exports via other countries, the transfer of military components and technologies and any brokering, financial or logistical activities that would facilitate such transfers.
Accountability – Establish without delay thorough, independent and impartial investigation of violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the Israeli attacks which have been directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip, or which are disproportionate, and Palestinian armed groups’ indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilian centres in southern Israel. Amnesty International has collected evidence of possible war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. There must be full accountability for such crimes. Where appropriate states must be ready to initiate criminal investigations and carry out prosecutions before their own courts if the evidence warrants it.
Support for the Golden Rule on Human Rights – Actively support the establishment of an effective global Arms Trade Treaty that includes the “Golden Rule” on human rights and international humanitarian law to avoid and minimise the recurrence of arms supplies contributing to such serious violations — the Golden Rule promoted by Amnesty International and other NGOs is that all States will prevent the transfer of arms, including military weapons, ammunition and equipment, where there is a substantial risk that the arms are likely to be used for serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
Appendix One: Proposed US Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress 2005-2008
GBU-28 bombs that include: BLU-113A/B penetration warhead, WGU-36A/B guidance control unit, FMU-143H/B bomb fuze, and BSG-92/B airfoil group guide. Also included are: support equipment; testing, spare and repair parts; supply support; publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and
other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$30 million.
MK-84 (Tritonal) general purpose bomb units, testing, support equipment, spares and repair parts, supply support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$65 million.
Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK-82 warhead;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK-83 warhead;
PAVEWAY II full kits for the MK- 84 warhead;
MK-84 live bombs;
MK- 82 live bombs;
BLU-109 live bombs;
GBU-28 guided live bombs;
FMU-139 live fuze components; and
FMU-152 live fuze components.
Also included: Containers, bomb components, spare/repair parts, publications, documentation, personnel training, training equipment, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, and other related support elements. Total value could be US$465 million
RGM-84L BLOCK II HARPOON Anti-Ship missiles with containers andAIM-9M SIDEWINDER Short Range Air-to-Air Infrared Guided missiles, spares and repair parts for support equipment, training, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is US$163 million.
AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air (AMRAAM) missiles, containers, components, spare/repair parts, publications, documentation, personnel training, training equipment, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, and other related support elements. The estimated cost is US$171 million.
Radio Frequency (RF) TOW 2A Missiles
TOW 2A Fly-to-buy Missiles
AGM-114K3 HELLFIRE II Missiles
AGM-114L3 HELLFIRE II Longbow Missiles
AGM-114M3 HELLFIRE II Missiles
PATRIOT Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus (GEM+)
M433 40MM High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) Cartridges
M930 120MM Illuminating Cartridges
M889A1 81MM HE Cartridges with M935 Fuzes
M107 155MM HE Projectiles
M141 83MM Bunker Defeat Munitions
Also, includes non-MDE cartridges, projectiles, charges, fuzes, containers, spare and repair parts, test and tool sets, personnel training and equipment, publications, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, Quality Assurance Team support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$1.329 billion.
T-6A Texan aircraft, Global Positioning System (GPS) with CMA-4124 GNSSA card and Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (INS) spares, ferry maintenance, tanker support, aircraft ferry services, site survey, unit level trainer, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$190 million.
PATRIOT System Configuration 3 Modification kits to upgrade 3 PATRIOT fire units to Radar Enhancement Phase 3 (REP-3) and Classification, Discrimination and Identification Phase 3 (CDI-3). Non-MDE includes: communication support equipment, tools and test equipment, integration and checkout, spares and repair parts, installation and training, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is US$164 million.
Littoral Combat Ships (LCS-I variant): Hull, and all mechanical and electrical functions. Each ship will be equipped with: 2 MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems, 8 cells for each system; 1 Close-In-Weapon System, Block 1A, 1 Enhanced HARPOON Launching System with launchers; 2 MK-32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes; Communications and Sensors; Link 16; COMBATSS-21 with SPY-1F(V) and MK-99 Fire Control System; or Ship Self-Defense System. Also includes design and integration services, hardware and software, spare and repair parts, test and tool sets, personnel training and equipment, publications, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$1.9 billion.
Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 United States Air Force (USAF) baseline aircraft including USAF baseline equipment and Block 7.0 Software;Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 spare engines;AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (includes three spares) ;AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (includes three spares);AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (includes three spares) ;AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (includes three spares) ;spare AN/ARC-210 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS);spare Secure Voice Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency Radios ;spare Secure Voice High Frequency Radios ;
spare AN/AAR-222 SINCGARS and Key Gen (KV-10) Systems ;
Also included are spare and repair parts, configurations updates, communications security equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, aircraft ferry and tanker support, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logisticis US$1.9 billion.
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB1),
BRU-61/A SDB1 Mounting Carriages,
Guided Test Vehicles,
BRU-61/A SDB Instrumented Carriages,
Jettison Test Vehicles,
Separation Test Vehicle,
Reliability and Assessment Vehicles,
Common Munitions BIT and Reprogramming Equipment with Test Equipment and Adapters,
SDB1 Weapons Simulators, and
Load Crew Trainers.
Also includes containers, flight test integration, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$77 million.
25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft with an option to purchase at a later date an additional 50 F-35 CTOL or Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft. All aircraft will be configured with either the Pratt and Whitney F-135 engines or General Electric-Rolls Royce F-136 engines. Other aircraft equipment includes: Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence/Communication, Navigational and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Flight Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; unique systems or sovereign requirements; reprogramming center, Hardware/Software In-the-Loop Laboratory Capability; External Fuel Tanks; and F-35 Performance Based Logistics. Also includes: software development/integration, flight test instrumentation, aircraft ferry and tanker support, support equipment, tools and test equipment, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is US$15.2 billion.
M72A7 66mm Light Anti-Armor Weapons (LAAWs),M72AS 21mm Sub-Caliber Training Rockets, spare and repair parts, support equipment,publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is US$89 million.
Appendix Two: US Foreign Military Sales Fuel Contracts for Israeli government 2002-2008
Valero Marketing & Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas
$45,978,408.00 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for fuel. Using service is the Government of Israel. The date of performance completion is Aug. 13, 2008
Defense Contracts, No. 562-08
(3 July 2008)
Refinery Associates of Texas, Inc., New Braunfels, Texas,
a maximum $22,556,374 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for diesel fuel. The using service is foreign military sales — Israel. The other location of performance is Compagnie Industrielle Maritime SNC, Le Harve, France. This is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity type contract. The date of performance completion is July 31, 2006.
Defense Contracts, No. 707-06
(25 July 2006)
Valero Marketing & Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas
a maximum $36,781,780 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for JP8 jet fuel for the government of Israel. The date of performance completion is Jan. 30, 2007.
Defense Contracts, No. 669-06
(14 July 2006)
Valero Marketing & Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas
A $103,331,200 fixed price with economic price adjustment type contract for fuel for the government of Israel. Performance completion date is expected to be December 31, 2005.
Defense Contracts, No. 1216-04
(29 November 2004)
ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing, Fairfax, Va.
A maximum $32,306,080 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for USG of EN590 and EN 228 for Foreign Military Sale to Israel. Performance completion date is Dec. 31, 2005.
Defense Contracts, No. 229-05
(4 March 2005)
ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing, Fairfax, Va.
A $24,314,094 fixed price with economic price adjustment for fuel for Foreign Military Sale (Israel). Performance completion date is expected to be March 1, 2005.
Defense Contracts, No. 965-03
(19 December 2003)
Valero Marketing and Supply Company, San Antonio, Texas
A $7,093,519 fixed price with economic price adjustment type of contract for fuel for the government of Israel. Performance completion date is expected to be November 30, 2003.
Defense Contracts, No. 817-03
(4 November 2003)
Valero Marketing and Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas
A $87,199,890 fixed-price with economic-price adjustment type contract for JP8 and EN590 fuel for the government of Israel. The performance completion date is January 30, 2004.
Defense Contracts, No. 618-02
(5 December 2002)
Valero Marketing and Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas
A $6,922,338 fixed price with economic price adjustment type contract for JP8 jet Fuel for the Government of Israel. Performance completion date is scheduled for October 2002.
Defense Contracts, No. 464-02
(12 September 2002)
Valero Marketing and Supply Company, San Antonio, Texas
A $8,744,537 fixed-price with economic price adjustment type contract for 10,500,000 USG of EN590 for the Government of Israel. Performance completion is expected to be April 30, 2002.
Plus Israel also possesses over 200 Nuclear Bombs.
Early next week the report heads to the floor of the US Congress and the UN General Assembly, and we’re expecting continued pressure to have this important document roundly dismissed.
The continued attacks on the Goldstone Report prevent accountability for the civilian victims before, during and after the attack on Gaza — both Palestinians and Israelis — and shred the rule of law.
Israel decided not to cooperate with the investigation and now claims that the report and its results are biased. Worse yet, Israel claims that the report negates its right to defend its population, when in reality, all the report does is insist that such a defense take place within the bounds of international law.
The truth is that the Goldstone Report is a well-researched, fair-minded report. It accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the attack on Gaza, and it calls on Israel and Hamas to conduct credible, independent investigations or face the International Criminal Court.
The United States and other countries are repeating the same lines, and have exerted great diplomatic pressure to kill the report.
The US Congress is getting ready to pass a resolution next week calling on President Obama to do everything he can to bury the Goldstone Report. The UN General Assembly will vote on it. Israel might launch its own investigation, if it is pressured enough to do so. And if it does, our task will be to ensure that the investigation is comprehensive, impartial, and aimed towards addressing, punishing and preventing future human rights abused – and not at changing the laws of war such that another blatant assault on civilian life and property as the Gaza war will ever become acceptable under international law.
The UN Goldstone report is a well-researched, fair-minded report. Israel and Hamas must conduct credible, independent investigations on war crimes and possible crimes against humanity or face the International Criminal Court. We demand accountability for all victims, respect for the rule of law, international law and human rights.
The Goldstone report must not be shoved aside. It is important to all of us. If these kind of crimes can be perpetrated on those in Gaza and disregarded it can be perpetrated on anyone in any country including ours.
This is a crime against all of us not just those in Gaza. The International Laws must be respected for all our sakes.
Scream at your representatives.
Senators of the 111th Congress http://www.senate.gov/general/ co…enators_cfm.cfm
Contact the White house http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/
Pass it on. War Crimes and Crimes against humanity must not go unpunished.
Depleted uranium was found in Gaza victims by Norwegian Doctors.
LEGALITY TEST FOR WEAPONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
Weapons must pass four tests in order to determine that they are legal under international law. The tests are:
(1)TEMPORAL TEST. Weapons must not continue to act after the battle is over.
(2)ENVIRONMENTAL TEST. Weapons must not be unduly harmful to the environment.
(3)TERRITORIAL TEST. Weapons must not act off of the battlefield.
(4)HUMANENESS TEST. Weapons must not kill or wound inhumanely. Depleted uranium weaponry fails all four tests. For that reason it is illegal under all Treaties, all agreements and all war conventions.
At least 18 countries are thought to have weapon systems with DU in their arsenals. These include: UK, US, France, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Thailand, China, India and Taiwan. Many of them were sold DU ammunition by the US while others, Including France, China,Russia, Pakistan ,UK and India are thought to have developed it independently.
The Free Gaza Movement ship, “SPIRIT OF HUMANITY,” left Larnaca Port at 3:00 pm, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza .
It is expected to arrive in Gaza at approximately 11am (UST) Tuesday morning. Aboard the ship are 36 passengers and crew, representing 17 different nations. They are doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and five European parliamentarians representing Belgium , Greece , Italy , and Spain (see below for a complete passenger list). The mercy ship also carries desperately needed medical supplies meant for hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
This voyage marks Free Gaza’s second attempt to break through the blockade since Israel began attacking Gaza on 27 December. Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully challenged the Israeli blockade five times, landing the first international ships in the port of Gaza since 1967.
The Israeli military violently attacked an earlier attempt by the Free Gaza Movement to send an emergency boat filled with doctors and medical supplies to Gaza . In the early hours of Tuesday, 30 December, the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed the unarmed ship, the DIGNITY, causing significant structural damage and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew. The DIGNITY found safe harbor in Lebanon , and is currently awaiting repairs.
Shortly before the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY left Cyprus today, the Cypriot authorities informed the Free Gaza Movement that the Israeli government had officially contacted their embassy in Tel Aviv, and warned them that they felt “justified” in using “any means available” to forcibly prevent the mercy ship from arriving in Gaza. At the request of the ship’s organizers, the Cypriot authorities searched the ship prior to its departure to certify that it only carried medical supplies.
Fouad Ahidar, a member of the Belgian Parliament sailing to Gaza aboard the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, responded to concerns that Israel may attack the unarmed ship by saying, “I have five children that are very worried about me, but I told them: ‘you can sit on your couch and watch these atrocities on the television, or you can choose to take action to make them stop.'”
Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have injured thousands of civilians and killed over 900 people, including hundreds of women and children. This ongoing Israeli massacre severely and massively violates international humanitarian law defined by the Geneva Conventions, especially the obligations of an Occupying Power and the requirements of the laws of war.
The United Nations has failed to protect the Palestinian civilian population from Israel ‘s massive violations of international humanitarian law. Israel has closed off Gaza from the international community and demanded that all foreigners leave. But Huwaida Arraf, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movements, stated that, “We cannot just sit by and wait for Israel to decide to stop the killing and open the borders for relief workers to pick up the pieces. We are coming in. There is an urgent need for this mission as Palestinian civilians in Gaza are being terrorized and slaughtered by Israel, and access to humanitarian relief denied to them. When states and the international bodies responsible for taking action to stop such atrocities chose to be impotent, then we–the citizens of the world–must act. Our common humanity demands nothing less.”
Israel has been notified that we are coming. A copy of the notification to the Israeli Authorities is attached. The Free Gaza Movement will hold Israel responsible for any harm that may be done to the ship or its passengers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take Action! CALL the Israeli Government and let them know that the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY is coming to Gaza . DEMAND that Israel immediately STOP slaughtering civilians in Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s officeat +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy:
+ 972 5 781 86248
Official Notification of Intent to Enter
January 11, 2009
To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: 972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Navy
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax 972-2-5303367
From: The Free Gaza Movement
This letter serves as a formal notification to you as the Occupying Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip that on Monday, January 12 we are navigating the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, from the Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessel will be flying the Greek flag, and, as such, falls under the jurisdiction Greece .
We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We expect to arrive at the Gaza Port on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
We will be carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca . There will be a total of 30 passengers and crew on board, among them members of various European Parliaments and several physicians. Our boat and cargo will also have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart.
As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat’s contents, nor the boat itself constitute any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with our voyage by Israel ‘s authorities.
On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be considered the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians.
The Steering Committee of the Free Gaza Movement
PASSENGERS & CREW OF THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY
– Abufalah, Othman Mohammad, Journalist with Al Jazeera Television ( Jordan )
– Ahidar, Fouad, Member of Parliament ( Belgium )
– Arraf, Huwaida, human rights lawyer and Delegation Leader (Palestine/USA)
– Bitsanis, Konstantinos, human rights worker and crew ( Greece )
– Bolos, Nikolas, human rights worker and crew ( Greece )
– Bowden, David, Journalist with SKY TV ( UK )
– Caruso, Francesco, former Member of Parliament ( Italy )
– Dabbagh, Ali, Doctor ( UK )
– Dritsas, Theodoros, Member of Parliament ( Greece )
– Gentile, Alessandro, Journalist with CNN ( Italy )
– Gezelius, Mats, Journalist (Sweden/Finland)
– Giannopolis, Nikolaos, human rights worker ( Greece )
– Jacquier, Gilles, Journalist with France Channel 2 ( France )
– Kampani, Chalent, Orthopedic Surgeon ( Greece )
– Kanellakis, Yiannis, Journalist with Greek Mega TV ( Greece )
– Karatzias, Petros, Journalist with the Associated Press ( Cyprus )
– Kawkuby, Jasir, Doctor and Pediatric Intensive Care specialist ( Germany )
– Klontzas, George, Ship’s Captain ( Greece )
– Muncie , Andrew, human rights worker and crew ( Scotland )
– McLuckie, Garwen, Journalist with SKY TV ( UK )
– Mourad, Maimouni ( Belgium )
– Muir, Alistair, Journalist with the BBC ( UK )
– Nuet, Joan Josef, Member of Parliament ( Spain )
This one must get through. Israel is continually committing violations on human rights and their war crimes are adding up. They need to be told clearly this ship must get through.
They have no right to stop the “SPIRIT OF HUMANITY” .
Only a terrorist state would do all the horrendous atrocities they have.
Voice your opinion. Break the sound barrier, if you must, but do everything thing you can to get this ship through.
Fax, Phone ,E-mail. Sit on their doorstep if you must but do everything possible to assure this much need Medical Aid gets through. Is there a government out there that will give this ship a ” Police Escort”.
How about every country on the Planet.
Give them a “Police Escort”.
Get “Your Politicians”, to “Call those in Israel” and make it perfectly clear this ship, is to be let through. Would they ram this one to sure they would. The have blown up hospitals, UN schools, medical clinics, homes, places of worship, homes, and anything else they can think of.
They even Kill those who work for the UN. They kill children, men woman, anyone they feel like. The prevented the Red Cross from getting to injured victims for 4 days. They Herded over a 100 people into a house and then shelled it. Their intent was mass murder. Then they proceed to lie to all of us as to why they did it. They are a rogue state, a terrorist state, war criminals, and should be treated as such. They are polluting the area for thousands of miles around with Toxic slop that will kill future generations for years to come. The aftermath will be horrifying.
They are not to be trusted. They have proved “beyond a shadow of a doubt” they are criminals. We the people of the world are the jury.
I find them guilty as charged. What about you?
With “evidence” I have before me, I find them “guilty of all the crimes ” and those responsible should be “jailed for life”. No parole ever.
New Reports on Sundays protests at bottom of the page
Demonstrators hurl shoes at Downing Street in day of global protest against Israeli attacks
January 3 2009
Demonstrators demanding an end to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza hurled their shoes at the gates of Downing Street today during a wave of global protests.
Around 12,000 people took to the streets of the London, including singer Annie Lennox, former model Bianca Jagger and former mayor Ken Livingstone.
Elsewhere in Britain, 2,000 demonstrators marched through Manchester and 500 braved the cold in Edinburgh.
London: 1,000 pairs of shoes litter the protest route near Downing Street
Paris held the world’s biggest protest, with 25,000 people showing up to condemn the Israeli offensive, which has killed at least 436 Palestinians since December 27th.
The death toll includes 75 children, according to Gaza medics. And almost 2,300 people have been wounded inside the territory.
Four Israelis have been killed by rocket attacks by Hamas, Islamist militants who took over Gaza three years ago.
In Britain, many people were angry at Gordon Brown refusal to condemn Israel’s attacks.
Hundreds of protesters threw shoes at the iron gates of Downing Street residence, in the spirit of an Iraqi journalist who hurled his footware President George Bush with his shoes last year.
Crowds: at least 12,000 people marched up Whitehall
Around 1,000 pairs littered the streets outside Number 10 with demonstrating singing: ‘Shame on you, have my shoe.’
Zac Sommer, an 18-year-old British-Palestinian student from Essex, said: ‘Britain is quick to condemn Robert Mugabe, but where is the condemnation of Israel? Israel is killing hundreds of people.’
Also outside Downing Street, a firework exploded yards from the gates.
The Metropolitan Police later said they had been forced to contain one group of around 5,000 protesters who left the agreed route between protest between Embankment and Trafalgar Square to the march to head for the Israeli Embassy in Kensington.
Many clashed with officers wearing riot hear and armed with truncheons and gas canisters.
Clash: Riot police deal with protesters trying to raid the Israeli Embassy in London
Focus point: Around 5,000 people went to the embassy after the march
The demonstrators were kept at a distance of about 20 yards from the entrance of the Embassy but several hurdled the barriers and attempted to make for the entrance.
The atmosphere as darkness fell was noticeably more heated, vocal, and aggressive than the earlier march through central London.
The demonstration in the capital was the biggest of at least 18 organised across the country.
Other rallies were taking place in Glasgow, Exeter, Bristol, Liverpool, Norwich, Hull, Tunbridge Wells, Leeds, Newcastle, Swansea, York, Caernarfon, Bradford and Sheffield.
Anger: Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square at the end of the march
Support: Annie Lennox, centre, is flanked by George Galloway and Bianca Jagger
Condemnation: Musician Brian Eno speaks out against the Israeli attacks
Former model Bianca Jagger and singer Lennox have backed the protests, calling on American president-elect Barack Obama to speak up against the bombardment.
Speaking at a press conference in central London, Ms Jagger said: ‘I would like to make an appeal to president-elect Obama to speak up.
‘People throughout the world were hopeful when he was elected and we must appeal to him to ask for the immediate cessation of the bombardment of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.’
Lennox spoke of her shock at watching scenes of the bombing on television.
She said: ‘A few days after Christmas I came downstairs, put the television on, and saw smoke pyres coming from buildings and I was shocked to the core because I was thinking as a mother and as a human being.
Madrid: Protesters burn an Israeli flag in the Spanish capital
Paris: Demonstrators burned cars after a march by 25,000 people
Berlin: Some 7000 Palestinian supporters outside the city’s cathedral
‘How was this going to be the solution to peace?’
She said the intervention from Bush blaming Hamas for starting the violence, had not helped the situation.
‘The problem is, from my perspective, they are pouring petrol onto the fire,’ she said.
‘They have to sit down. This is a small window of opportunity just before things kick off.
‘For every one person killed in Gaza, they are creating 100 suicide bombers. It’s not just about Gaza, it’s about all of us.’
Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather said Israel’s military response to the firing of Hamas rockets had been ‘disproportionate’.
Amsterdam: A man holds up a blood smeared doll
Milan: Demonstrators carry a simulated body of a Palestinian
‘Anyway, what Israel is doing is counter-productive. No terrorist organisation has ever been bombed into submission,’ the Liberal Democrat MP said.
Police said 8,000 people demonstrated in the central French city of Lyon, 3,000 people protested in the southern city of Nice and 3,800 in Mulhouse in the east.
Two people were arrested as more than 1,000 marched through Amsterdam, condemning the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, police said.
Hundreds protested in Madrid, carrying signs saying ‘This is not a war but a genocide’.
More than 2,000 people also demonstrated in the Austrian city of Salzburg.
Athens: A woman walks in front of burning barricades during riots after a rally
Photos: ‘Britain – Gaza Siege Demoonstation’
By James Wray
January 3, 2009,
Singer Annie Lennox (C), social and human rights advocate Bianca Jagger (formerly married to Mick Jagger) (2nd R) and British politician George Galloway (L) march through London with thousands of protestors in London, Britain, 03 January 2009. A series of demonstrations took place across Britain against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The protests are being held at 18 locations including Portsmouth, Manchester, Hull, London and Glasgow. EPA/ANDY RAIN
epa01589872 Under the shadow of famous city landmark Big Ben, pro-Palestinian protestors pass through Parliament Square as they participate in a rally in central London, 03 January 2009. It was one of a series of manifestations across the country to protest the Israeli air strikes on Gaza,. EPA/ANDY RAIN EPA/ANDY RAIN
Under the shadow of famous city landmark Big Ben, pro-Palestinian protestors pass through Parliament Square as they participate in a rally in central London, 03 January 2009. It was one of a series of manifestations across the country to protest the Israeli air strikes on Gaza,. EPA/ANDY RAIN
Pro-Palestinian protestors demonstrate in central London, Britain, 03 January 2009. A series of demonstrations took place across Britain against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The protests are being held at 18 locations including Portsmouth, Manchester, Hull, London and Glasgow. EPA/ANDY RAIN
Thousands of protestors march along Whitehall, central London, Britain, 03 January 2009 as part of a series of rally across the country to protest the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The protests are being held at 18 locations including Portsmouth, Manchester, Hull, London and Glasgow. In the background is seen the capital landmark Big Ben EPA/ANDY RAIN
Thousands of protestors march along Whitehall, central London, Britain, 03 January 2009 as part of a series of rally across the country to protest the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The protests are being held at 18 locations including Portsmouth, Manchester, Hull, London and Glasgow. In the background is seen the capital landmark Big Ben EPA/ANDY RAIN
Thousands of protestors bathed in bright sunshine, march through central London, 03 January 2009 as part of a series of demonstrations across the country to protest against Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The protests are being held at 18 locations including Portsmouth, Manchester, Hull, London and Glasgow. EPA/ANDY RAIN
LONDON—Thousands of chanting, banner-waving demonstrators marched in cities across Europe on Saturday to demand a halt to Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip.
Protests were held in Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain as the Israeli offensive entered its second week.
Israeli Arabs held a protest march and Kuwaitis also took to the streets, a day after bigger Middle East rallies.
In Paris, police said more than 20,000 demonstrators, many wearing Palestinian keffiyeh headscarves, marched through the city centre chanting slogans like “Israel murderer!” and waving banners demanding an end to the air attacks.
Similar protests were planned in some 30 other towns.
London police said more than 10,000 people staged a noisy march and rally to urge an end to an Israeli offensive against Hamas militants that has killed at least 435 Palestinians.
In many European cities people waved shoes—recalling the action of an Iraqi journalist who hurled footwear at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad last month in a symbolic insult.
British demonstrators threw dozens of shoes into the street as they passed the gated entrance to Downing Street, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown lives, and shouted angrily at a line of 40 police officers on guard there.
“Come to get your shoes Gordon,” one woman shouted as other marchers directed chants of “Shame on you” at Brown.
A spokesman said Brown had spoken again to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday and was pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire.
Leading the march were singer Annie Lennox, politicians Tony Benn and George Galloway and comic Alexei Sayle. Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and placards with slogans such as “End the siege on Gaza” and “Stop the massacre”.
Israel says rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas Islamists must stop before it halts operations, but the attacks continued on Saturday. Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets since the offensive began.
Anger at Western Reaction
Paul Mukerji, 42, from Birmingham, acknowledged Israel had security reasons but called its action disproportionate.
“The best way for peace for Palestinians and Israelis is to end the occupation,” said Mukerji, who said he had spent six months working with Jewish and Palestinian peace groups.
Ali Saeed, 24, from Luton, said Western governments had failed to condemn Israel’s actions.
“What’s going on in Gaza is not right … It’s not a coincidence that it’s going on Iraq, in Chechnya, in Kashmir. It’s just about going on everywhere. It’s almost a direct insult to every single Muslim,” he said.
Protests were scheduled in a score of other British cities.
Greek police said they fired teargas at protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Athens. Protesters burnt flags and effigies, hurled stones at the embassy and clashed with police during a march by about 5,000 people, they said.
Tens of thousands of people marched in the town of Sakhnin, northern Israel, on Saturday in one of the biggest rallies held by Israeli Arabs in recent years, Israeli media reported. Calling Israeli leaders “war criminals”, the demonstrators demanded an end to the onslaught on Gaza, they said.
Around 3,500 people marched in Berlin and 4,000 in the western city of Duesseldorf, police said.
In the German capital, demonstrators carried pictures of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and one small girl cradled a doll smeared in blood.
Hundreds joined a protest in central Dublin.
“I just thought the fact that 300-400 people would’ve been bombed, would’ve been killed, was extremely wrong,” said Andy Defaoite, a 27-year-old teacher in the Irish capital.
More than 1,000 demonstrators marched through Kuwait City, with banners reading “Gaza will not die” and “We want a free Gaza”.
Another 1,000 marched in Madrid, some calling for sanctions against Israel, equating Zionism with Nazism and chanting slogans like “Israel kills, the world just stands by”.
Police said about 1,500 people marched through Amsterdam.
About 1,000 demonstrators marched through the Italian city of Milan on Saturday, some burning Israeli flags, with a smaller rally in Turin.
People destroy a French policeman’s car, during a demonstration against the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on January 3, 2009, in Paris. (Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors stand behind an over-turned car during a demonstration against the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on January 3, 2009, in Paris. (Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)
Some of the thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters fight to get to the Israeli embassy in Athens as Greek riot police stand guard on January 3, 2009, during a demonstration against the Israeli attacks in Gaza. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters opposed to Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip gather near the Israeli Embassy following a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in London, on January 3, 2009. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Demonstrated in protest against the war in Iraq and the politicians did not listen. The War in Iraq is in fact illegal, based on lies. Will they listen to us now as we say NO AGAIN to Israel killing innocent people in Gaza?
Israel is committing many crimes and we Say NO MORE.
Are they still deaf?
Defending the criminals in the US and Israel who kill innocent people has gone on far to long.
We are fed up with war mongering, murdering, power hungry, profiteers.
There are a large number of Demonstrations in the US and I will post them if they magically appear anywhere. I can only hope to have a busy evening.
Reports on protests
Turmoil Spurs US Plant Closures, EU Layoffs At ArcelorMittal
December 10th, 2008
By Alex MacDonald
In a sign of the severity of the economic downturn, ArcelorMittal (MT), the world’s largest steelmaker, announced plans to close two U.S. steel processing plants and lay off several hundred workers in the European Union.
ArcelorMittal plans to close its finished steel processing plant in Lackawanna, N.Y., by the end of April and plans to close its finished steel processing plant in Hennepin, Ill., sometime in the future, although no date was disclosed. The two closures will result in 545 job losses, 260 of which are located at the N.Y. plant and 285 of which are located at the Illinois plant.
Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal rolled out voluntary redundancy programs in Europe over the past week or so that would eliminate 3,550 mostly white-collar jobs through voluntary layoffs. The company is eyeing 6,000 job cuts in Europe out of 9,000 job cuts globally.
The closures and layoffs are in line with the company’s plans to cut 35% of its global steel production capacity during the fourth quarter and saving $1 billion annually by cutting 3% of its global workforce.
Both steel plants supply the auto market, where demand has slumped so dramatically that the U.S.’s three largest car manufacturers are now seeking federal government funds to avert bankruptcy.
The closures are part of ArcelorMittal’s global restructuring program to weather the economic downturn.
The decision to close ArcelorMittal Lackawanna was “purely an economic business decision based on the extraordinary economic conditions we face today,” the company said in a statement.
The Lackawanna plant has inherent disadvantages due to its location that lead to higher costs, longer customer lead times, and higher inventory levels than other ArcelorMittal finishing facilities in the US, the company said.
Meanwhile, at Hennepin, “the company had to make the tough decision to close the…facility, consolidate operations and move production to other ArcelorMittal facilities in the U.S.” in order to remain competitive.
ArcelorMittal now has announced plans to lay off 19% of its U.S. salaried workforce of 15,543 people and has announced more than half of its planned job cuts in Europe.
The United Steelworkers union and other relevant stakeholders were notified about the plant closures and job layoffs. They are now negotiating with the Luxembourg-based company to arrive at a compromise.
Jim Robinson, the director of USW’s District 7 said the union was aware that ArcelorMittal faced operational issues at the two plants but was surprised by the company’s decision to close the plants.
“They called us before they announced but we did not know this specifically” beforehand, he said.
Robinson dismissed views that ArcelorMittal has underinvested in the plants. “I don’t think the issue is lack of investment over time, I think it’s an issue of the company’s overall strategy.” He declined to elaborate further.
ArcelorMittal is one of many steelmakers globally that have announced production cuts and layoffs. U.S. Steel Corporation (X), the world’s tenth-largest steelmaker by volume, announced last week it would temporarily idle an iron ore mining facility and two steel works. The move will affect 3,500 employees.
Corus, Europe’s second largest steelmaker by volume and the European arm of India-based Tata Steel Ltd (500470.BY) has cut production by 30% and has shed about 500 jobs from the U.K.
In Europe, ArcelorMittal is seeking voluntary redundancies equal to 1,400 jobs in France, 800 in Belgium, 750 in Germany, and 600 in Spain. Most of them are white collar jobs. ArcelorMittal’s American depositary shares recently traded up 8.9% to $25.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Brussels – European Union businesses called Monday for a cut in interest rates amid predictions that the bloc’s economic slowdown could lead to more than 1 million jobs being lost in 2009.
BusinessEurope, which groups national business federations from 34 European countries, also called on governments to ensure a continued flow of credit and to approve structural reforms aimed at improving the continent’s competitiveness.
According to its latest Economic Outlook, EU gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to grow by just 0.4 per cent in 2009, compared to 1.4 per cent this year, with exports, imports and private consumption levels all slowing.
Unemployment is predicted to increase from 7 per cent to 7.8 per cent, with the loss of 1.1 million jobs, compared to a net job creation of more than 2 million in 2008.
“The most fundamental preoccupation of the business community is obviously the way in which the impact of the financial market turmoil will play out,” the paper said.
“Even though a fully-fledged credit crunch has not yet appeared in Europe, uncertainty about the impact for companies and consumer markets has increased tremendously.”
SEMI Europe calls for investment to avoid mass job losses in semiconductor industry
December 10 2008
During the third SEMI Brussels forum, SEMI Europe declared that the decline in the European semiconductor industry could potentially put half a million European jobs at risk. SEMI Europe presented its White Paper to EU officials and urgently appealed for the EU and national policymakers to invest to support the European semiconductor industry citing the industries importance to the health and global competitiveness of the EU economy.
The equipment/materials producers and the semiconductor device manufacturers contribute around €29 billion to the EU economy and provide around 215,000 jobs. The European semiconductor industry is also a significant contributor to the GDP in EU countries such as France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK.
“If semiconductor manufacturers leave Europe, indigenous equipment & materials producers will face an uncertain future”, said Franz Richter, Chairman of the SEMI European Advisory Board. “The current economic crisis and rising unemployment underscore the urgent need to safeguard jobs in the European semiconductor industry. Supporting a robust and competitive semiconductor industry in Europe is critical to keeping jobs in Europe across all industries and supporting key European economies.”
The decline of the market share even during the increase in total volumes sold reflects that manufacturing is changing and moving away from Europe because of the unfavourable global level playing field conditions. The European equipment and materials manufacturers that supply the semiconductor industry with machinery and parts are for the most part small or medium-sized European businesses that heavily rely on the future European semiconductor industry to guarantee their own future and the 105,000 jobs they embody.
Further information on the Brussels forum is available here.
Spanish auto sector highly exposed to global crisis
December 11 2008
By Robert Hetz
Spain’s car industry, which became Europe’s third largest, thanks to a cheap workforce, has lost cost advantage and could shrink as companies slash costs at foreign plants and save politically-sensitive jobs at home.
As executives at multinational manufacturers weigh up Spain’s ageing factories, relatively high wage costs and weak competitiveness against their own domestic markets and cheaper alternatives, the country’s plants are clear targets as the credit crunch saps demand all over the world.
“The big decisions are being taken abroad, not here, and managers in London, Paris and Detroit prefer to close a plant here and not in their home market,” said the director of one Spanish parts plant, who asked not to be named.
Unlike Germany, France or Italy, Spain’s auto industry has no nationally-owned car maker and little control over decisions on the future of its 18 foreign-owned plants, which employ around 70,000 people.
And unlike the case of Britain, Spain’s plants are older and less productive, and the country lacks a more skilled workforce or much tradition of home-grown research and development.
Global car makers, also including Peugeot, Opel and Volkswagen, built most of their Spanish plants in the 1970s when Spain was a low-cost backwater, well placed to serve Northern European markets.
Since the 70s, Spain has lost its price advantage as living standards have caught up with the European average. In 2007, per capita income overtook that of Italy. At the same time, new competitors have emerged as low-cost manufacturing centres.
Spain’s auto-sector salaries averaged 22.83 euros ($29.64) an hour last year, above the European average and around three times the 6.93 euros in Poland and 8.83 euros in the Czech Republic, Europe’s new manufacturing hubs, alongside North Africa.
NORTH AFRICA PASSES SPAIN FOR RENAULT
Renault plans to make 200,000 cars at its plants in North Africa in 2010 and double that within a couple of years, overtaking production from its Spanish operations.
The global credit crunch has hurt demand for new cars across Europe, with new car registrations in November falling 36.8 percent in the UK, 18 percent in Germany, 30 percent in Italy and 50 percent in Spain.
With some 84 percent of cars built in Spanish plants for export, manufacturers are finding fewer financial or political reasons for remaining in the country as international competition rises.
Spanish plants are ideal candidates for the inevitable cuts across Europe, head of Ford Espana Jose Manuel Machado said, as salaries rise and productivity fails to rise at a similar rate.
Machado’s comments came before the U.S. company announced production cuts of 120,000 units at its Almussafes plant in Valencia, and the temporary layoff of 5,200 workers.
Job cuts are expected from most of the major manufacturers, with more than 60 filings listing potential layoffs by private companies made to the government, which may affect up to 40,000 workers, Spain’s main union UGT said.
As Spain’s unemployment rate soars to the highest in the European Union and the economy nears recession, the government is keen to keep the industry, which accounts for around 5 percent of gross domestic product, in the country.
Spain has earmarked 800 million euros for the sector as part of measures worth a total of around 50 billion euros to stimulate the economy.
But this aid may not be enough.
“It’s a good gesture from the government, but obviously the amount of money is insufficient. It would be less than 80 million euros per manufacturer,” said Jose Antonio Bueno of consultancy Europraxis.
The sharp fall in new car sales in Spain has also affected the manufacturers’ showrooms and spare parts centres throughout the country.
Concessions for new and second-hand cars and garages employ around 278,000 people in Spain, and 16,000 of those jobs are at risk, the association for the sector, Ganvam, estimates.
“Four years ago we sold two or three cars a day, but now its not even two a week,” said Adela Benito, who has worked in a Madrid-based Renault showroom for 20 years. (Reporting by Robert Hetz; Additional reporting by Tomas Gonzalez; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Rupert Winchester)
In a new survey just released, 68 percent of Swedes want to see the Swedish government bail out its beleaguered carmaker Volvo. Although Volvo is owned by US carmaker Ford, Swedes would like its government to temporarily take control of the nation’s iconic firm, as many residents fear Volvo may disappear entirely from Sweden in the near future.
The Local newspaper reports that support for government intervention is piling in from all sides of the political arena. Some 65 percent of those polled who support the bailout side with one of the governing Alliance parties, and 73 percent of all left bloc voters approve of a government bailout.
Peter Larsson of the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers points out that Volvo’s current crisis is not minor. “One thing is certain, there are no dollars on their way over the Atlantic,” Larsson said, referring to the massive problems currently faced by the “Big Three” US carmakers – Ford, Chrysler, and (Saab-owner) General Motors.
Rolf Wolff, dean of the school of business at Gothenburg University, told The Local: “If Volvo Cars disappears as a base for industrial knowledge and skills, then Sweden will never again be a part of the auto industry. All the knowledge and skills would be lost, and with it all future associated development potential would be gone.”
Maud Olofsson, Sweden’s minister of trade and industry, has expressed doubts whether the government would be able to better manage Volvo than the car firm itself. For now, the issue has been placed on the political back burner, but the crisis at Volvo and Ford goes on.
Whether Bush Can Grant His Administration Pre-emptive Pardons on Torture, a Dicey Area of the Law
By Daphne Eviatar
December 8 2008
In his Nov. 16 interview on CBS’s “60 minutes,” President-elect Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay and end U.S.-sponsored torture. Both actions would be “part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world,” he said.
Obama’s advisers are similarly encouraging him to look to the future and avoid the appearance of seeking vengeance for past practices. But many legal experts insist it’s as important not to let those responsible for diminishing America’s moral stature get away scot-free.
“When we speak about accountability, we’re not talking about vengeance,” lawyer and writer Scott Horton told at a packed forum on torture at New York University School of Law last week. “We’re really talking about the future.” President George W. Bush “has set a precedent that we cannot let stand.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who also attended the forum, added: “Accountability is one of the most important questions before the country. It’s critical to preventing a recurrence of the lawbreaking that clearly has been done [by this administration].”
Liberal lawyers and civil rights advocates have been calling for prosecutions, even impeachment, of Bush officials tied to torture for years. Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic congresswoman, published “The Impeachment of George W. Bush” in 2006. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, published his book, “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book,” in September. Others have published volumes of evidence implicating Bush officials in potentially criminal conduct . Among the most influential are Jane Mayer’s “The Dark Side,” Phillipe Sands’ “Torture Team” and “The Torture Papers,” a collection of administration documents on detainee abuses edited by Karen Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at NYU, and Joshua Dratel, a prominent defense attorney who represents detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
But as the administration nears its end, the debate over what Obama should do about officials who authorized torture, humiliation or systematic abuse of detainees as part of the “war on terror” has become more urgent. (The NYU forum attracted so much interest that hundreds of vociferous supporters of prosecution were denied entry into the auditorium because of fire-code restrictions.)
Even as the pressure on Obama to take action grows, some prominent legal experts are urging restraint.
In a Nov. 26 Op-Ed in the Washington Post, Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith, director of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Dept. from 2003-2004, urged the incoming administration to let bygones be bygones. The decisions to use waterboarding or other forms of torture on terrorist suspects should not be prosecuted as criminal actions, he argued. Instead, they were wartime policy decisions that shouldn’t be second-guessed by lawyers. “[T]he greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment,” he wrote.
But what if President Bush pardoned himself and all other officials who authorized abusive interrogations of prisoners? Would that render the torture-accountability debate moot?
In August, Stuart Taylor Jr., a Brookings Institute fellow and columnist for Newsweek and the National Journal, argued that the president should issue a blanket pardon — and leave it to a non-prosecutorial truth commission to set the record straight for posterity.
In November, Nadler, the congressman, introduced a House resolution urging the president not to pardon officials who authorized torture and potential lawbreaking. Since then, Democrats.com has been circulating a petition on the Internet to collect signatures of those who support the resolution. So far, almost 50,000 have signed it.
But legal experts say that neither the resolution nor the petition would have any legal effect on the matter.
“Congress can’t control the pardon power,” said New York University law professor David Golove, an expert on executive power. “For practical purposes, there are no clear limits.”
The breadth of the president’s pardon power has been challenged before, particularly after President Abraham Lincoln pardoned former confederate officials who swore an oath of loyalty to the Union. But in Ex Parte Garland, the Supreme Court spelled out just how far-reaching the president’s power is.
The pardon power “clothe[s] the president with the power to pardon all offenses, and thereby to wash away the legal stain and extinguish all the legal consequences of treason — all penalties, all punishments, and everything in the nature of punishment,” the court ruled.
Accordingly, if Bush pardoned administration officials accused of authorizing torture — say, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff Richard Addington or former Justice Dept. lawyer John Yoo, to name a few frequently mentioned possibilities — legal experts say the pardons would be extremely difficult to challenge in court. The fact that none of these men have been convicted of anything makes no difference.
The Confederates pardoned by Lincoln hadn’t been indicted or tried, either. Similarly, President Jimmy Carter preemptively pardoned draft evaders during the Vietnam War when he took office in 1976. Even the Watergate-plagued Richard Nixon, pardoned by Gerald Ford in 1974, was never convicted of a crime.
Could Bush pardon himself?
That’s legally dicey. Although it’s never been done before, nothing in the Constitution specifically prevents it.
“I do not believe that a president can issue a pardon of himself,” said Holtzman, a panelist at the NYU forum. “I believe that would be an abuse of the pardon power.”
Some say that pardoning administration officials whose actions you signed off on would also be an abuse of power. Allowing a president to do that may set a precedent that’s even more destructive, say some legal experts, because it would remove any incentive for future presidents to follow the law.
“One of the most effective potential weapons to assure that a runaway executive does not violate the rule of law is that the people who carry out the president’s wishes are themselves subject to legal jeopardy,” said Golove.
In that regard, the U.S. presidency is similar to the British system. Although by law the English king could do no wrong, his ministers could, explained Golove. “So the way you controlled the crown was by threatening to bring criminal prosecutions against those who carry out his orders.”
That’s been the case in the United States as well. “So to allow the president to pardon those people is to remove to a considerable extent the incentive for the executive branch to follow the law,” contended Golove. “I see this as a terrible problem.”
Carolyn Patty Blum, emeritus professor at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, agrees. “Bush doesn’t really need to pardon himself if he preemptively pardons others, because then no one has an incentive to talk about his role.”
Some commentators, such as Taylor, have argued that a blanket pardon would still allow for the appointment of a truth commission along the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It could be easier for such a body to learn what really happened because participants wouldn’t face jail for participating.
But Blum, a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice, which specializes in accountability for human-rights abuses, disagrees. “[Our] institutional experience working with truth commissions around the world is that the opposite happens. Once people feel they are already protected, they don’t have any incentive to come forward.”
In South Africa, she noted, people were pardoned only after they testified truthfully about their crimes.
Pardons for administration officials would not necessarily close down the inquiry, however. A pardon wouldn’t stop victims of torture from suing U.S. officials, for example, and revealing the truth — although federal government officials can claim all sorts of immunities that would make such cases difficult to pursue in the United States. And a pardon would not prevent another country, or an international tribunal, from investigating and prosecuting war crimes and other violations of international law.
“Hitler could not pardon himself and the Nazi general staff for war crimes committed during World War II,” said Golove. “Even if he could have pardoned them under German law, that wouldn’t have had any effect at the Nuremberg Tribunal.”
As Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights noted at the NYU forum, “You cannot pardon war crimes and torture. Maybe here, but they’re not going to walk so freely in Europe.”
The center and prosecutors abroad have already sought to bring administration officials to trial in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, among other countries. Although charges probably wouldn’t land any U.S. officials behind bars, it could at least put a crimp in their travel plans — and prompt investigations that might further tarnish the Bush legacy.
Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.
Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.
DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.
This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.
Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:
Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.
Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.
DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat
Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.
In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.
What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.
In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.
However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.
It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.
Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.
Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.
CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.
Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.
141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote
The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008
The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.
In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.
In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.
The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.
The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.
Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.
The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.
Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.
The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.
Voting results in full
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.
Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.
Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.
As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.
But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.
Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,
“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”
But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.”The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.
Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following. Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.
Ten Essential Facts:
1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.
2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.
3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.
4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.
5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.
6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.
7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.
8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.
9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.
10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen. It is up to us to bring this to his attention. THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.
Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here
Labour strife has repeatedly scuppered Alitalia’s efforts to restructure but, for once, wildcat strikes aimed at thwarting the Italian airline’s takeover seem unable to put the brakes on a deal.
While hundreds of flight cancellations dominate headlines as protests enter their second week, the CAI consortium of Italian businessmen is quietly but swiftly nearing the finish line in its bid to buy and relaunch the bankrupt flag carrier.
The group overcame the key hurdle of regulatory approval by winning European Commission backing for the 375 million euro ($474.2 million) takeover last week. The green light from the airline’s bankruptcy commissioner is expected this week.
The commissioner must ensure CAI’s offer is not below market value. But with no other bidders in the fray and the airline’s cash reserves expected to dry up by the end of the month, he has already hinted the offer will be accepted.
“We’ll wrap up the deal this week,” Augusto Fantozzi told Italian television, adding that CAI’s offer was not far off the value of Alitalia assets as estimated by independent advisers. “I hope only pleasant surprises remain. By the middle of the week, there will be serenity.”
CAI is offering 275 million euros for Alitalia’s flight operations and 100 million euros in a mix of cash and debt for other units, and will take on further debt of 625 million euros.
Indeed, the group this week began sending out letters to hire selected Alitalia staff for the relaunched airline, even if only four out of nine airline unions back the deal.
Pilot and cabin crew unions reject new labour contracts under the takeover, and a small group of renegade workers triggered airport chaos and delayed or cancelled hundreds of flights last week with impromptu work-to-rule protests.
Alitalia is expected to cancel a further third of all flights this week. It plans to seek legal redress while the government has vowed to prosecute the offenders.
But two sources close to CAI, who requested anonymity because of the confidential nature of talks related to the rescue, said the strikes posed little threat to the takeover, even if they exposed the airline’s Achilles heel once again.
The Italian government that backs CAI is confident.
“CAI’s project is going ahead inexorably and irreversibly,” said Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi. “A small minority can’t stop what’s in the general interest.”
The commissioner Fantozzi appeared equally unfazed, even if labour opposition nearly forced CAI to pull its offer in October and scuppered a previous Air France-KLM takeover of Alitalia.
“The protests are, as is reasonable, flaming out because in my opinion, this is a backward-looking battle,” he said.
AIR FRANCE-KLM RETURNS?
Barring further surprises, CAI should wrap up the deal — including a purchase of smaller rival Air One’s assets — by the end of the month so Alitalia can reinvent itself under private ownership early next month.
Talks to line up a foreign partner to give Alitalia backing on an international level continue, the sources close to CAI said. Italian media say Air France-KLM
is almost certain to edge out Lufthansa in that race and enter with a 20 percent stake in the relaunched carrier, but the sources cautioned that no decision had been made.
Another source close to the talks said Mediobanca had been chosen as the adviser for Air France-KLM and a decision on a partner could come as early as this week.
The French airline’s Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta last week also played down reports and said a partner had yet to be chosen.
Air France-KLM has long been considered Alitalia’s logical foreign partner, and the two have commercial ties under the Skyteam alliance. Choosing a partner from another alliance might force Alitalia to exit Skyteam and pay a penalty.
But Lufthansa’s strategy of relying on several hubs is favoured by Italian politicians and unions, who believe it will allow Alitalia to maintain operations at its Milan hub and save more jobs in the city.
“The competition is still alive, and it could go either way,” one of the sources said. (Editing by David Cowell)
Ailing Alitalia grounds flights, says more misery next week
November 15 2008
Strike-hit Italian flag-carrier Alitalia cancelled about 40 flights from and to Rome and Milan on Saturday and told travellers to expect further delays next week.
“Alitalia is developing a reduction plan for its flights for all of next week due to the continuation of the strike,” said a company statement on the sixth day of the industrial action by air crew opposed to a takeover deal.
The ailing airline plans to post a list of next week’s affected flights on its website from Sunday.
Seven departure flights and 21 arrivals were cancelled on Saturday at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the Telenews agency reported. The Italian news channel Sky Tg24 said 16 flights in and out of Milan Linate would be grounded.
The airline grounded 60 flights in or out of Rome on Friday.
The pilots are striking in protest at a takeover deal by investor group Italian Air Company (CAI). The group made a binding offer last month for the air passenger transport activities of Alitalia, which was put in special administration in August.
Under the terms of its offer, CAI would take on 12,500 Alitalia workers while cutting some 3,250 jobs.
The airline, which is 49.9 percent state-owned, is losing about three million euros (3.8 million dollars) a day.
Antonio Martone, the head of the Italian watchdog for labour action affecting public services, said Thursday the strike was a “flagrant violation of the rules (and) a serious infringement of citizens’ rights.”
He issued a “final warning” to the representatives of the five unions to come to an agreement on the takeover deal.
The new Alitalia is set for take-off on December 1.
The greenhouse gases released by the Iraq war thus far equals the pollution from adding 25 million cars to the road for one year says a study released by Oil Change International, an anti petroleum watchdog. The group’s main concerns are the environmental and human rights impacts of a petroleum based economy.
The study, released last March on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, states that total US spending on the war so far equals the global investment needed through 2030 to halt global warming.
Of course skeptics and oil companies will be right to ask how these numbers were calculated. The group claims Iraq war emissions estimates come from combat, oil well fires, increaesd gas flaring, increased cement manufacturing for reconstruction, and explosives.
“Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary.” – 1992 Rio Declaration
The application of weapons, the destruction of structures and oil fields, fires, military transport movements and chemical spraying are all examples of the destroying impact war may have on the environment. Air, water and soil are polluted, man and animal are killed, and numerous health affects occur among those still living. This page is about the environmental effects of wars and incidents leading to war that have occurred in the 20th and 21st century.
Timeline of wars
“My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can’t deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars” – Guns ‘n Roses (Civil War)
In Africa many civil wars and wars between countries occurred in the past century, some of which are still continuing. Most wars are a result of the liberation of countries after decades of colonialization. Countries fight over artificial borders drawn by former colonial rulers. Wars mainly occur in densely populated regions, over the division of scarce resources such as fertile farmland. It is very hard to estimate the exact environmental impact of each of these wars. Here, a summary of some of the most striking environmental effects, including biodiversity loss, famine, sanitation problems at refugee camps and over fishing is given for different countries.
Congo war (II) – Since August 1998 a civil war is fought in former Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The war eventually ended in 2003 when a Transitional Government took power. A number of reasons are given for the conflict, including access and control of water resources and rich minerals and political agendas. Currently over 3 million people have died in the war, mostly from disease and starvation. More than 2 million people have become refugees. Only 45% of the people had access to safe drinking water. Many women were raped as a tool of intimidation, resulting in a rapid spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV-AIDS. The war has a devastating effect on the environment. National parks housing endangered species are often affected for exploitation of minerals and other resources. Refugees hunt wildlife for bush meat, either to consume or sell it. Elephant populations in Africa have seriously declined as a result of ivory poaching. Farmers burn parts of the forest to apply as farmland, and corporate logging contributes to the access of poachers to bush meat. A survey by the WWF showed that the hippopotamus population in one national park decreased from 29,000 thirty years previously, to only 900 in 2005. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed all five parks as ‘world heritage in danger’.
Ethiopia & Eritrea – Before 1952, Eritrea was a colony of Italy. When it was liberated, Ethiopia annexed the country. Thirty years of war over the liberation of Eritrea followed, starting in 1961 and eventually ending with the independence of Eritrea in 1993. However, war commenced a year after the country introduced its own currency in 1997. Over a minor border dispute, differences in ethnicity and economic progress, Ethiopia again attacked Eritrea. The war lasted until June 2000 and resulted in the death of over 150,000 Eritrean, and of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. During the war severe drought resulted in famine, particularly because most government funds were spend on weapons and other war instrumentation. The government estimated that after the war only 60% of the country received adequate food supplies. The war resulted in over 750,000 refugees. It basically destroyed the entire infrastructure. Efforts to disrupt agricultural production in Eritrea resulted in changes in habitat. The placing of landmines has caused farming or herding to be very dangerous in most parts of the country. If floods occur landmines may be washed into cities. This has occurred earlier in Mozambique.
Rwanda civil war – Between April and July 1994 extremist military Hutu groups murdered about 80,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Over 2,000,000 people lost their homes and became refugees. Rwanda has a very rich environment, however, it has a particularly limited resource base. About 95% of the population lives on the countryside and relies on agriculture. Some scientists believe that competition for scarce land and resources led to violence prior to and particularly after the 1994 genocide. It is however stated that resource scarcity only contributed limitedly to the conflict under discussion. The main cause of the genocide was the death of the president from a plane-crash caused by missiles fires from a camp.
The many refugees from the 1994 combat caused a biodiversity problem. When they returned to the already overpopulated country after the war, they inhabited forest reserves in the mountains where endangered gorillas lived. Conservation of gorilla populations was no longer effective, and refuges destroyed part of the habitat. Despite the difficulties still present in Rwanda particularly concerning security and resource provision, an international gorilla protection group is now working on better conditions for the gorillas in Rwanda.
Somalia civil war – A civil war was fought in Somalia 1991. One of the most striking effects of the war was over fishing. The International Red Cross was encouraging the consumption of seawater fish to improve diets of civilians. For self-sufficiency they provided training and fishing equipment. However, as a consequence of war Somali people ignored international fishing protocols, thereby seriously harming ecology in the region. Fishing soon became an unsustainable practise, and fishermen are hard to stop because they started carrying arms. They perceive over fishing as a property right and can therefore hardly be stopped.
Sudan (Darfur & Chad) – In Sudan civil war and extreme droughts caused a widespread famine, beginning in 1983. Productive farmland in the southern region was abandoned during the war. Thousands of people became refugees that left behind their land, possibly never to return. Attempts of remaining farmers to cultivate new land to grow crops despite the drought led to desertification and soil erosion. The government failed to act for fear of losing its administrative image abroad, causing the famine to kill an estimated 95,000 of the total 3,1 million residents of the province Darfur. As farmers started claiming more and more land, routes applied by herders were closed off. This resulted in conflicts between farmers and rebels groups. In 2003, a conflict was fought in Darfur between Arab Sudanese farmers and non-Arab Muslims. The Muslim group is called Janjaweed, a tribe mainly consisting of nomadic sheep and cattle herders. Originally the Janjaweed were part of the Sudanese and Darfurian militia, and were armed by the Sudanese government to counter rebellion. However, they started utilizing the weapons against non-Muslim civilians. The tribe became notorious for massacre in 2003-2004. In December 2005 the conflict continued across the border, now involving governmental army troops from Chad, and the rebel groups Janjaweed and United Front for Democratic Change from Sudan. In February 2006 the governments of Chad and Sudan signed a peace treaty called the Tripoli Agreement. Unfortunately a new rebel assault of the capital of Chad in April made Chad break all ties with Sudan. The Darfur Conflict so far caused the death of between 50,000 and 450,000 civilians. It caused over 45,000 people to flea the countries of Sudan and Central Africa, into north and east Chad. Most refugees claim they fled civilian attacks from rebel forces, looting food and recruiting young men to join their troops.
Pearl Harbor (WWII) – When World War II began, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Consequentially, the United States closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping, and initiated a complete oil embargo. Japan, being dependent on US oil, responded to the embargo violently. On December 1941, Japanese troops carried out a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, aimed at the US Navy stationed there. Despite the awareness that Japan might attack, the US was surprisingly unprepared for the Japanese aggression. There were no aircraft patrols, and anti-aircraft weapons were not manned.
For the attack five Japanese submarines were present in the harbor to launch torpedos. One was discovered immediately, and attacked by the USS Ward. All five submarines sank, and at least three of them have not been located since. As Japanese bombers arrived they began firing at US marine airbases across Hawaii, and subsequently battle ships in Pearl Harbor. Eighteen ships sank, including five battleships, and a total of more than 2,000 Americans were killed in action. The explosion of the USS Arizona caused half of the casualties. The ship was hit by a bomb, burned for two days in a row, and subsequently sank to the bottom. The cloud of black smoke over the boat was mainly caused by burning black powder from the magazine for aircraft catapults aboard the ship.
Leaking fuel from the Arizona and other ships caught fire, and caused more ships to catch fire. Of the 350 Japanese planes taking part in the attack, 29 were lost. Over sixty Japanese were killed in actions, most of them airmen.
Today, three battle ships are still at the bottom of the harbor. Four others were raised and reused. The USS Arizona, being the most heavily damaged ship during the attack, continues to leak oil from the hulk into the harbor. However, the wreck is maintained, because it now serves as part of a war memorial.
World Trade Centre explosion – The so-called ‘War on Terrorism’ the United States are fighting in Asia currently all started with the event we recall so well from the shocking images projected on news bulletins. On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew airplanes into the buildings of the World Trade Centre. It is now claimed that the attack and simultaneous collapse of the Twin Towers caused a serious and acute environmental disaster.
“We will live in the death smog for a while,
breathing the dust of the dead,
the 3 thousand or so who turn to smoke,
as the giant ashtray in Lower Manhattan
continues to give up ghosts.
The dead are in us now,
locked in our chests,
staining our lungs,
polluting our bloodstreams.
And though we cover our faces with flags
and other pieces of cloth to filter the air,
the spirits of the dead aren’t fooled
by our masks.” Lawrence Swan, 05-10-2001
As the planes hit the Twin Towers more than 90.000 litres of jet fuel burned at temperatures above 1000oC. An atmospheric plume formed, consisting of toxic materials such as metals, furans, asbestos, dioxins, PAH, PCB and hydrochloric acid. Most of the materials were fibres from the structure of the building. Asbestos levels ranged from 0.8-3.0% of the total mass. PAH comprised more than 0.1% of the total mass, and PCBs less than 0.001% of total mass. At the site now called Ground Zero, a large pile of smoking rubble burned intermittently for more than 3 months. Gaseous and particulate particles kept forming long after the towers had collapsed.
Aerial photograph of the plume
The day of the attacks dust particles of various sizes spread over lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, for many miles. Fire fighters and medics working at the WTC were exposed, but also men and women on the streets and in nearby buildings, and children in nearby schools. In vivo inhalation studies and epidemiological studies pointed out the impact of the dust cloud. Health effects from inhaling dust included bronchial hyper reactivity, because of the high alkalinity of dust particles. Other possible health effects include coughs, an increased risk of asthma and a two-fold increase in the number of small-for-gestational-age baby’s among pregnant women present in or nearby the Twin Towers at the time of the attack. After September, airborne pollutant concentrations in nearby communities declined.
Many people present at the WTC at the time of the attacks are still checked regularly, because long-term effects may eventually show. It is thought there may be an increased risk of development of mesothelioma, consequential to exposure to asbestos. This is a disease where malignant cells develop in the protective cover of the body’s organs. Airborne dioxins in the days and weeks after the attack may increase the risk of cancer and diabetes. Infants of women that were pregnant on September 11 and had been in the vicinity of the WTC at the time of the attack are also checked for growth or developmental problems.
Afghanistan war – In October 2001, the United States attacked Afghanistan as a starting chapter of the ‘War on terrorism’, which still continues today. The ultimate goal was to replace the Taliban government, and to find apparent 9/11 mastermind and Al-Qaeda member Osama Bin Laden. Many European countries assisted the US in what was called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’.
During the war, extensive damage was done to the environment, and many people suffered health effects from weapons applied to destroy enemy targets. It is estimated that ten thousand villages, and their surrounding environments were destroyed. Safe drinking water declined, because of a destruction of water infrastructure and resulting leaks, bacterial contamination and water theft. Rivers and groundwater were contaminated by poorly constructed landfills located near the sources.
Afghanistan once consisted of major forests watered by monsoons. During the war, Taliban members illegally trading timber in Pakistan destroyed much of the forest cover. US bombings and refugees in need of firewood destroyed much of what remained. Less than 2% of the country still contains a forest cover today.
Bombs threaten much of the country’s wildlife. One the world’s important migratory thoroughfare leads through Afghanistan. The number of birds now flying this route has dropped by 85%. In the mountains many large animals such as leopards found refuge, but much of the habitat is applied as refuge for military forces now. Additionally, refugees capture leopards and other large animals are and trade them for safe passage across the border.
Pollution from application of explosives entered air, soil and water. One example is cyclonite, a toxic substance that may cause cancer. Rocket propellants deposited perchlorates, which damage the thyroid gland. Numerous landmines left behind in Afghan soils still cause the deaths of men, women and children today.
Cambodia civil war – In 1966 the Prince of Cambodia began to lose the faith of many for failure to come to grips with the deteriorating economic situation. In 1967 rebellion started in a wealthy province where many large landowners lives. Villagers began attacking the tax collection brigade, because taxes were invested in building large factories, causing land to be taken. This led to a bloody civil war. Before the conflict could be repressed 10,000 people had died.
The rebellion caused the up rise of the Khmer Rouge, a Maoist-extremist organization that wanted to introduce communism in the country. In 1975 the organization, led by Pol Pot, officially seized power in Cambodia. The Khmer considered farmers (proletarians) to be the working class, as did Mao in China earlier. Schools, hospitals and banks were closed, the country was isolated from all foreign influence, and people were moved to the countryside for forced labor. People were obligated to work up to 12 hours a day, growing three times as many crops, as was usually the case. Many people died there from exhaustion, illness and starvation, or where shot by the Khmer on what was known as ‘The Killing Fields’.
The Khmer Rouge regime resulted in deforestation, caused by extensive timber logging to finance war efforts, agricultural clearance, construction, logging concessions and collection of wood fuels. A total 35% of the Cambodian forest cover was lost under the Maoist regime. Deforestation resulted in severe floods, damaging rice crops and causing food shortages. In 1993, a ban on logging exports was introduced to prevent further flooding damage.
In 1979 the Khmer Rouge regime ended with an invasion by Vietnam, and the installation of a pro-Vietnamese puppet government. Subsequently, Thai and Chinese forces attempted to liberate the country from Vietnamese dominance. Many landmines were placed in the 1980’s, and are still present in the countryside. They deny agricultural use of the land where they are placed. In 1992 free elections were introduced, but the Khmer Rouge resumed fighting. Eventually, half of the Khmer soldiers left in 1996, and many officials were captured. Under the Khmer regime, a total of 1.7 million people died, and the Khmer was directly responsible for about 750,000 of those casualties.
Hiroshima & Nagasaki nuclear explosions – Atomic bombs are based on the principle of nuclear fission, which was discovered in Nazi Germany in 1938 by two radio chemists. During the process, atoms are split and energy is released in the form of heat. Controlled reactions are applied in nuclear power plants for production of electricity, whereas unchecked reactions occur during nuclear bombings. The invention in Germany alarmed people in the United States, because the Nazi’s in possession of atomics bombs would be much more dangerous than they already where. When America became involved in WWII, the development of atomic bombs started there in what was called the ‘Manhattan Project’. In July 1945 an atomic bomb was tested in the New Mexico desert. The tests were considered a success, and America was now in possession of one of the world’s deadliest weapons.
In 1945, at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, nuclear weapons were applied to kill for the first time in Japan. On August 6, a uranium bomb by the name of Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, followed by a plutonium bomb by the name of Fat Man on Nagasaki on August 9. The reason Hiroshima was picked was that it was a major military centre. The bomb detonated at 8.15 p.m. over a Japanese Army parade field, where soldiers were already present. Nagasaki was picked because it was an industrial centre. The bomb, which was much larger than that used on Hiroshima, exploded at 11.02 a.m. at an industrial site. However, the hills on and the geographical location of the bombing site caused the eventual impact to be smaller than days earlier in Hiroshima.
The first impact of the atomic bombings was a blinding light, accompanied by a giant wave of heat. Dry flammable materials caught fire, and all men and animals within half a mile from the explosion sites died instantly. Many structures collapsed, in Nagasaki even the structures designed to survive earthquakes were blasted away. Many water lines broke. Fires could not be extinguished because of the water shortage, and six weeks after the blast the city still suffered from a lack of water. In Hiroshima a number of small fires combined with wind formed a firestorm, killing those who did not die before but were left immobile for some reason. Within days after the blasts, radiation sickness started rearing its ugly head, and many more people would die from it within the next 5 years.
The total estimated death toll:
In Hiroshima 100,000 were killed instantly, and between 100,000 and 200,000 died eventually.
In Nagasaki about 40,000 were killed instantly, and between 70,000 and 150,000 died eventually.
The events of August 6 and August 9 can be translated into environmental effects more literally. The blasts caused air pollution from dust particles and radioactive debris flying around, and from the fires burning everywhere. Many plants and animals were killed in the blast, or died moments to months later from radioactive precipitation. Radioactive sand clogged wells used for drinking water winning, thereby causing a drinking water problem that could not easily be solved. Surface water sources were polluted, particularly by radioactive waste. Agricultural production was damaged; dead stalks of rice could be found up to seven miles from ground zero. In Hiroshima the impact of the bombing was noticeable within a 10 km radius around the city, and in Nagasaki within a 1 km radius.
Iraq & Kuwait – The Gulf War was fought between Iraq, Kuwait and a number of western countries in 1991. Kuwait had been part of Iraq in the past, but was liberated by British imperialism, as the Iraqi government described it. In August 1990, Iraqi forces claimed that the country was illegally extracting oil from Iraqi territory, and attacked. The United Nations attempted to liberate Kuwait. Starting January 1991, Operation Desert Storm began, with the purpose of destroying Iraqi air force and anti-aircraft facilities, and command and control facilities. The battle was fought in Iraq, Kuwait and the Saudi-Arabian border region. Both aerial and ground artillery was applied. Late January, Iraqi aircraft were flown to Iran, and Iraqi forces began to flee.
The Gulf War was one of the most environmentally devastating wars ever fought. Iraq dumped approximately one million tons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf, thereby causing the largest oil spill in history (see environmental disasters). Approximately 25,000 migratory birds were killed. The impact on marine life was not as severe as expected, because warm water sped up the natural breakdown of oil. Local prawn fisheries did experience problems after the war. Crude oil was also spilled into the desert, forming oil lakes covering 50 square kilometres. In due time the oil percolated into groundwater aquifers.
Fleeing Iraqi troops ignited Kuwaiti oil sources, releasing half a ton of air pollutants into the atmosphere. Environmental problems caused by the oil fires include smog formation and acid rain. Toxic fumes originating from the burning oil wells compromised human health, and threatened wildlife. A soot layer was deposited on the desert, covering plants, and thereby preventing them from breathing. Seawater was applied to extinguish the oil fires, resulting in increased salinity in areas close to oil wells. It took about nine months to extinguish the fires.
During the war, many dams and sewage water treatment plants were targeted and destroyed. A lack of possibilities for water treatment resulting from the attacks caused sewage to flow directly into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Additionally, pollutants seeped from bombed chemical plants into the rivers. Drinking water extracted from the river was polluted, resulting in widespread disease. For example, cases of typhoid fever have increased tenfold since 1991.
Movement of heavy machinery such as tanks through the desert damaged the brittle surface, causing soil erosion. Sand was uncovered that formed gradually moving sand dunes. These dunes may one day cause problems for Kuwait City. Tanks fired Depleted Uranium (DU) missiles, which can puncture heavy artillery structures. DU is a heavy metal that causes kidney damage and is suspected to be teratogenic and carcinogenic. Post-Gulf War reports state an increase in birth defects for children born to veterans. The impact of Depleted Uranium could not be thoroughly investigated after the Gulf War, because Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate. Its true properties were revealed after the Kosovo War in 2001 (description below). DU has now been identified as a neurotoxin, and birth defects and cancers are attributed to other chemical and nerve agents. However, it is stated that DU oxides deposited in the lungs of veterans have not been thoroughly researched yet. It was later found that this may cause kidney and lung infections for highly exposed persons.
After the Gulf War many veterans suffered from a condition now known as the Gulf War Syndrome. The causes of the illness are subject to widespread speculation. Examples of possible causes are exposure to DU (see above), chemical weapons (nerve gas and mustard gas), an anthrax vaccine given to 41% of US soldiers and 60-75% of UK soldiers, smoke from burning oil wells and parasites. Symptoms of the GWS included chronic fatigue, muscle problems, diarrhoea, migraine, memory loss, skin problems and shortness of breath. Many Gulf War veterans have died of illnesses such as brain cancer, now acknowledged as potentially connected to service during the war.
Iraq & the United States – The war in Iraq started by the United States in 2003 as part of the War on Terrorism causes poverty, resulting in environmental problems. Long-term environmental effects of the war remain unclear, but short-term problems have been identified for every environmental compartment. For example, some weapons are applied that may be extremely damaging to the environment, such as white phosphorus ammunition. People around the world protest the application of such armoury.
Damage to sanitation structures by frequent bombing, and damage to sewage treatment systems by power blackouts cause pollution of the River Tigris. Two hundred blue plastic containers containing uranium were stolen from a nuclear power plant located south of Baghdad. The radioactive content of the barrels was dumped in rivers and the barrels were rinsed out. Poor people applied the containers as storage facility for water, oil and tomatoes, or sold them to others. Milk was transported to other regions in the barrels, making it almost impossible to relocate them.
Oil trenches are burning, as was the case in the Gulf War of 1991, resulting in air pollution. In Northern Iraq, a sulphur plant burned for one month, contributing to air pollution. As fires continue burning, groundwater applied as a drinking water source may be polluted.
Military movements and weapon application result in land degradation. The destruction of military and industrial machinery releases heavy metals and other harmful substances.
Israel & Lebanon – In July 2006, Hezbollah initiated a rocket attack on Israeli borders. A ground patrol killed and captured Israeli soldiers. This resulted in open war between Israel and Lebanon.
The war caused environmental problems as Israelis bombed a power station south of Beirut. Damaged storage tanks leaked an estimated 20,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean Sea. The oil spill spread rapidly, covering over 90 km of the coastline, killing fish and affecting the habitat of the endangered green sea turtle. A sludge layer covers Beaches across Lebanon, and the same problem may occur in Syria as the spill continues to spread. Part of the oil spill burned, causing widespread air pollution. Smog affects the health of people living in the city of Beirut. So far problems limiting the clean-up operation of oil spills have occurred, because of ongoing violence in the region.
Another major problem were forest fires in Northern Israel caused by Hezbollah bombings. A total of 9,000 acres of forest burned to the ground, and fires threaten tree reserves and bird sanctuaries.
Russia & Chechnya – In 1994 the First Chechen War of independence started, between Russian troops, Chechen guerrilla fighters and civilians. Chechnya has been a province of Russia for a very long time and now desires independence. The First War ended in 1996, but in 1999 Russia again attacked Chechnya for purposes of oil distribution.
The war between the country and its province continues today. It has devastating effects on the region of Chechnya. An estimated 30% of Chechen territory is contaminated, and 40% of the territory does not meet environmental standards for life. Major environmental problems include radioactive waste and radiation, oil leaks into the ground from bombarded plants and refineries, and pollution of soil and surface water. Russia has buried radioactive waste in Chechnya. Radiation at some sites is ten times its normal level. Radiation risks increase as Russia bombs the locations, particularly because after 1999 the severeness of weaponry increased. A major part of agricultural land is polluted to the extent that it can no longer meet food supplies. This was mainly caused by unprofessional mini-refineries of oil poachers in their backyards, not meeting official standards and causing over 50% of the product to be lost as waste. Groundwater pollution flows into the rivers Sunzha and Terek on a daily basis. On some locations the rivers are totally devoid of fish. Flora and fauna are destroyed by oil leaks and bombings.
Vietnam war – The Vietnam War started in 1945 and ended in 1975. It is now entitled a proxy war, fought during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union to prevent the necessity for the nations to fight each other directly. North Vietnam fought side by side with the Soviet Union and China, and South Vietnam with the United States, New Zealand and South Korea. It must be noted that the United States only started to be actively involved in the battle after 1963. Between 1965 and 1968 North Vietnam was bombed under Operation Rolling Thunder, in order to force the enemy to negotiate. Bombs destroyed over two million acres of land. North Vietnam forces began to strike back, and the Soviet Union delivered anti-aircraft missiles to North Vietnam. The ground war of US troops against the Viet Cong began. The United States would not retreat from Vietnam until 1973, and during those years extremely environmentally damaging weapons and war tactics were applied.
A massive herbicidal programme was carried out, in order to break the forest cover sheltering Viet Cong guerrillas, and deprive Vietnamese peasants of food. The spraying destroyed 14% of Vietnam’s forests, diminished agricultural yield, and made seeds unfit for replanting. If agricultural yield was not damaged by herbicides, it was often lost because military on the ground set fire to haystacks, and soaked land with aviation fuel en burned it. A total of 15,000 square kilometres of land were eventually destroyed. Livestock was often shot, to deprive peasant of their entire food supply. A total of 13,000 livestock were killed during the war.
The application of 72 million litres of chemical spray resulted in the death of many animals, and caused health effects with humans. One chemical that was applied between 1962 and 1971, called Agent Orange, was particularly harmful. Its main constituent is dioxin, which was present in soil, water and vegetation during and after the war. Dioxin is carcinogenic and teratogenic, and has resulted in spontaneous abortions, chloracne, skin and lung cancers, lower intelligence and emotional problems among children. Children fathered by men exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War often have congenital abnormalities. An estimated half a million children were born with dioxin-related abnormalities. Agent Orange continues to threaten the health of the Vietnamese today.
“Drafted to go to Vietnam
To fight communism in a foreign land.
To preserve democracy is my plight
Which is a God…Given…Right.
Greenery so thick with hidden enemies
Agent Orange is sprayed on the trees.
Covering me from head to toe
Irate my eyes, burns through my clothes.
Returned home when my tour was done
To be told “You have cancer, son”.
Agent Orange is to blame
Government caused your suffering and pain.
Fight for compensation is frustrating and slow
Brass cover-up, not wanting anyone to know.
From cancer many comrades have died
Medical Insurance have been denied.
Compensation I now receive
My health I hope to retrieve.
In Vietnam , I was spared my life
Just to be stabbed with an Agent Orange knife” Yvonne Legge, 2001
Today, agriculture in Vietnam continues to suffer problems from six million unexploded bombs still present. Several organisations are attempting to remove these bombs. Landmines left in Vietnam are not removed, because the Vietnamese government refuses to accept responsibility.
Kosovo war – The Kosovo war can be divided up in two separate parts: a conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, and a conflict between Kosovo and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The first conflict originated in 1996 from the statement of Slobodan Milocevic that Kosovo was to remain a part of Serbia, and from the resulting violent response of Albanian residents. When Serbian troops slaughtered 45 Albanians in the village of Racak in Kosovo in 1999, the NATO intervened. NATO launched a 4-month bombing campaign upon Serbia as a reply to the massacre at Racak.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) investigated the environmental impact of the Kosovo war. It was concluded that the war did not result in an environmental disaster affecting the entire Balkan region. Nevertheless, some environmental hot spots were identified, namely Belgrade, Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor.
Bombings carried out by the United States resulted in leakages in oil refineries and oil storage depots. Industrial sites containing other industries were also targeted. EDC (1,2-dichloroethane), PCBs en mercury escaped to the environment. Burning of Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) resulted in the formation of dioxin, hydrochloric acid, carbon monoxide and PAHs, and oil burning released sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead and PAHs into the air. Heavy clouds of black smoke forming over burning industrial targets caused black rain to fall on the area around Pancevo. Some damage was done to National Parks in Serbia by bombings, and therefore to biodiversity. EDC, mercury and petroleum products (e.g. PCBs) polluted the Danube River. These are present in the sediments and may resurface in due time. EDC is toxic to both terrestrial and aquatic life. Mercury may be converted into methyl mercury, which is very toxic and bio accumulates. As a measure to prevent the consequences of bombing, a fertilizer plant in Pancevo released liquid ammonia into the Danube River. This caused fish kills up to 30 kilometres downstream.
In 1999 when NATO bombed Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, the resulting environmental damage was enormous. Petrochemical plants in suburbs started leaking all kinds of hazardous chemicals into air, water and soil. Factories producing ammonia and plastics released chlorine, hydrochloric acid, vinyl chloride and other chlorine substances, resulting in local air pollution and health problems. Water sources were polluted by oil leaking from refineries. The Danube River was polluted by oil more severely, but this time hydrochloric acid and mercury compounds also ended up there. These remained in the water for a considering period of time and consequently ended up in neighbouring countries Rumania and Bulgaria.
Clean drinking water supplies and waste treatment plants were damaged by NATO bombings. Many people fled their houses and were moved to refugee camps, where the number of people grew rapidly. A lack of clean drinking water and sanitation problems occurred.
Like in the Gulf War, Depleted Uranium (DU) was applied in the Kosovo War to puncture tanks and other artillery. After the war, the United Kingdom assisted in the removal of DU residues from the environment. Veterans complained of health effects. It was acknowledged by the UK and the US that dusts from DU can be dangerous if inhaled. Inhalation of dust most likely results in chemical poisoning.
World War I: Trench Warfare – In 1914, the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary resulted in the First World War, otherwise known as The Great War, or WWI. It started with Austria-Hungary invading Serbia, where the assassin came from, and Germany invading Belgium. The war was mostly in Europe, between the Allies and the Central Powers.
Allies: France, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Montenegro, Rumania, Albania, Greece, Portugal, Finland, United States, Canada, Brazil, Armenia, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Liberia, China, Japan, Thailand, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
Central Powers: Austria-Hungary, Germany, Turkish Empire, and Bulgaria
The war was fought from trenches, dug from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. In 1918 when the war was over, empires disintegrated into smaller countries, marking the division of Europe today. Over 9 million people had died, most of which perished from influenza after the outbreak of the Spanish Flu (see environmental disasters). The war did not directly cause the influenza outbreak, but it was amplified. Mass movement of troops and close quarters caused the Spanish Flu to spread quickly. Furthermore, stresses of war may have increased the susceptibility of soldiers to the disease.
In terms of environmental impact, World War I was most damaging, because of landscape changes caused by trench warfare. Digging trenches caused trampling of grassland, crushing of plants and animals, and churning of soil. Erosion resulted from forest logging to expand the network of trenches. Soil structures were altered severely, and if the war was never fought, in all likelihood the landscape would have looked very differently today.
Another damaging impact was the application of poison gas. Gases were spread throughout the trenches to kill soldiers of the opposite front. Examples of gases applied during WWI are tear gas (aerosols causing eye irritation), mustard gas (cell toxic gas causing blistering and bleeding), and carbonyl chloride (carcinogenic gas). The gases caused a total of 100,000 deaths, most caused by carbonyl chloride (phosgene). Battlefields were polluted, and most of the gas evaporates into the atmosphere. After the war, unexploded ammunition caused major problems in former battle areas. Environmental legislation prohibits detonation or dumping chemical weapons at sea, therefore the cleanup was and still remains a costly operation. In 1925, most WWI participants signed a treaty banning the application of gaseous chemical weapons. Chemical disarmament plants are planned in France and Belgium.
World War II: – World War II was a worldwide conflict, fought between the Allies (Britain, France and the United States as its core countries) and the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan as its core countries). It started with the German invasion of Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1939, and ended with the liberation of Western Europe by the allies in 1945.
Estimates for the total casualties of the war vary, but most suggest that some 60 million people died in the war, including about 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians.
World War II: Hunger winter – In late 1944, the allied troops attempted to liberate Western Europe. As they reached The Netherlands, German resistance caused the liberation to be halted in Arnhem, as allied troops failed to occupy a bridge over the River Rhine. As the Dutch government in exile in Britain called for railway strikes, the Germans responded by putting embargo on food transport to the west. This resulted in what is now known as the Hunger Winter, causing an estimated 20,000-25,000 Dutch to starve to death. A number of factors caused the starvation: a harsh winter, fuel shortages, the ruin of agricultural land by bombings, floods, and the food transport embargo. Most people in the west lived off tulip bulbs and sugar beet. Official food rations were below 1000 cal per person per day. In May 1945 the Hunger Winter ended with the official liberation of the west of The Netherlands.
The there is this. So what do they do with weapons of mass destruction? Coming to an Ocean Near YOU! The cost in dollars for the pollution caused by war is staggering. The cost to human life is horrendous. The price of war to the Environment is deadly. This is of course a Global problem. What you don’t see can hurt you. If you don’t know it is only because they don’t want you too. They will never tell you the true unless we as a Global community force them to. This will affect our children for many years to come. War is probably one of the worst polluters on the planet. Stoppingthe WAR MACHINE is in everyone’s best interest.
Here you find tons of weapons that were dumped into the oceans among other things.