Protests erupt across the UK; BBC offices picketed in Manchester

May 31, 2010 § 8 Comments

Protest outside the Manchester offices of the BBC (Photo: Jairo Lugo)

UPDATE: a standoff outside the BBC offices below:

Media scholar Jairo Lugo is in Manchester reporting for PULSE from a demo in front of the BBC offices. According to police estimates there are a thousand people gathered outside. Many are carrying Turkish and Palestinian flags and placards bearing messages of solidarity with the activist on the Freedom Flotilla. They are calling on the BBC to stop the whitewash and report accurately on the massacre.

According to the Police similar protests are taking place in London, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Glasgow among other places in the UK.

Activists are confronting the police at the front doors of the BBC. Anger and disgust all around. BBC is serving as an Israeli propagand organ. Jairo Lugo reports:

BBC’s website now carries a report on the protest.

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Freedom Flotilla and the BBC’s Shame

May 31, 2010 § 7 Comments

by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

UPDATE: See Jairo Lugo’s report on the protests outside the BBC offices in Manchester and elsewhere here. Also, check out these excellent articles by Robert Fisk and Glenn Greenwald, and the Guardian’s report on the world renowned figures who are aboard the ship.

The BBC proves its despicable subservience to the Israeli propaganda machine once again. Before it was shamed by Al Jazeera and others into covering the Freedom Flotilla massacre, it reported the story as a mere claim by Hamas. Here is how it first appeared on the BBC’s website:

BBC News – Israel intercepts Gaza flotilla, says Hamas

The Palestinian movement Hamas says the Israeli navy has intercepted a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip.

The massacre soon became the top news story on Google News and Twitter. The BBC could no longer maintain the pretence of ignorance. It finally reported on the massacre as a matter of fact, but appended this line: “Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade.”

The victims weren’t innocent, you see. They were on their way to aid these terrible people who fire ‘thousands of rockets into Israel’. That’s all you need to know. And if you mention those hundreds of thousands of bombs, missiles and rockets that Israel has shot into Gaza…Why, you must be an anti-Semite!

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Israelis massacre activists on aid flotilla

May 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

Scenes from the massacre:

UPDATE I, II, III, IV and V on the BBC’s despicable coverage below.

Al Jazeera International, 30 May 2010 — A deadly attack has taken place off the coast of Gaza – as Israeli forces stormed at least one ship – attempting to break the blockade of Gaza. Commandos lowered themselves from helicopters and onto the Mavi Marmara – the lead ship in a flotilla of six vessels which are carrying aid for the Palestinian territory…Israeli radio is reporting the death toll may be as high as 16 people. Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal onboard the ship sent this report before communications were cut

According to multiple reports the death toll now stands at 16, with over 60 injured. You can follow Al Jazeera International and Press TV‘s excellent live coverage. You can also follow the flotilla’s Twitter feed.

Mustafa Barghouti on Al Jazeera rightly notes that this constitutes an act of war against multiple countries. The ship was in international waters carrying the flags of several countries. This is a flagrant violation of international law.

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Violent Logic: A Review of M. Shahid Alam’s Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism

May 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

People have been against both the idea and practice of Zionism since its inception.  Zionism is an ideology that has never earned the support of all Jews, and one that has never been accepted by the vast majority of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.  Zionism has likewise failed to achieve significant support in the so-called Third World, and has been almost uniformly rejected by black nationalists inside the United States.  Yet Zionism has been successful insofar as its desire to create a Jewish-majority nation-state has been achieved.  Despite its discursive self-image as a liberation movement, Zionist practice is colonialist and brutally violent.

In his latest book, Israeli Exceptionalism:  The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan), M. Shahid Alam explores these paradoxes with great skill and insight.  Israeli Exceptionalism takes its place among a series of recent books that question the logic of Zionism.  Most of these books argue in favor of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict; inherent in that argument is a rejection of Zionism.  Alam takes a slightly different approach in his rejection of Zionism, one that is global in scope.  He points out that “[a]s an exclusionary settler colony, Israel does not stand alone in the history of European expansion overseas, but it is the only one of its kind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries” (14).  Israel, in other words, is an anomaly:  a settler colonial society still in thrall of the ideologies and racism of the nineteenth century.  As with the European colonization of North America, Zionism conceptualizes itself as an exceptional force of good in history.

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Rise of the Flexians

May 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

By Muhammad Idrees Ahmad


May 26, 2010 (IPS) – In 2005, ahead of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Irish rock star and philanthropist Bono dedicated a concert to Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs for his services to global poverty alleviation. Time magazine twice named Sachs one of its 100 Most Influential People. His 2005 book “The End of Poverty” was a New York Times bestseller. He has served as a special advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals. In 2007 Vanity Fair was moved to declare him the “savior of Bolivia”.

From the fawning sobriquets it would be hard to tell that Sachs was the architect of the “economic shock therapy” which in Russia during the transition years (1991-1994) contributed to a 42 percent rise in male deaths, and 56 percent in unemployment. His Bolivian “reforms” brought inflation under control but unemployment, inequality and the cost of living soared.Following a decade of unrest, Russia was only saved by an authoritarian nationalist leadership and Bolivia by economic populism. The neoliberal experiment was a failure.

If Sachs has today recanted his extreme free-market views, it is only because of a personal epiphany. At the peak of his power, he was constrained by neither public censure nor official accountability.He is an exemplar of a new breed of influencers who operate in the interstices of official and private power and exploit the ambiguity of their multiple overlapping roles to evade both public oversight and market competition. It is this emerging power that is the subject of social-anthropologist Janine Wedel’s indispensable “Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market”.

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Bagram Detainees Denied Habeas: Can we say ‘Insidious,’ Mr. President?

May 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

In order to reveal something about the salience of incoherence in today’s world, let’s examine this recent event:

On May 21st, the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled that detainees at Bagram do not have the right to habeas corpus; that is, the right to challenge their detention; that is, the same right that was extended to Guantanamo detainees in two separate Supreme Court rulings, Rasul (2004) and Boumediene (2008). The Bagram decision was based on reasoning that because the prison is located in Afghanistan – a zone of active combat –  the precedent in Boumediene, concerning Guantanamo Bay, cannot be applied.  Additionally, the Court ruled that while the United States, in maintaining full and complete control over Guantanamo Bay for over a century, was constitutionally required to provide detainees with the right to challenge their detention, the status of Bagram  was a different case because the U.S. does not intend to maintain control over Bagram with any “permanence.”  At first, the logic of the court, which is grounded in Supreme Court precedent, ‘may’ sound compelling to the reader, but this is where things get sticky…..

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Blackwater’s Youngest Victim

May 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

On the evening of May 25th, I had the pleasure of attending the premiere of  Jeremy Scahill’s brave new documentary, Blackwater’s Youngest Victim. The film, which is a collaborative effort by Scahill and Rick  Rowley of Big Noise Films, tells the story of nine year old Ali Khanani, who was shot by Blackwater mercenaries on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

Nisour Square is considered to be the highest profile deadly incident involving Blackwater–or any private war contractor.  The government’s case against five former Blackwater security guards charged with manslaughter and firearms violations in the Nisour Square incident was supposed to finally hold private security companies accountable for their alleged crimes. However, earlier this year, federal court judge Ricardo Urbina decided  to dismiss that case. Rather than focusing on the evidence that existed against these men, Urbina based his decision for dismissal on the grounds that prosecutors in the case had committed gross misconduct and violated  the constitutional rights of Blackwater men. The administration responded to the courts decision with assurances that the dismissal would be appealed, but legal analysts everywhere predict that the case is a losing battle. And, perhaps we should not be surprised given the administration’s painstakingly apparent contradictory agenda in both claiming that it wants to hold Blackwater accountable, while simultaneously maintaining Blackwater (now Xe) as a war contractor in what can only be described as the most privatized war in history. As Scahill’s ongoing reporting for The Nation suggests, the number of private contractors currently hired by the state has more than doubled under the Obama Administration.

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