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Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly says current republic a ‘perversion’ of 1916 ideals


 

“The republic that was created from the ashes of the rising was a perversion of the human rights ideals of 1916,” the outgoing Ombudsman and Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has said.

Addressing the first evening of the MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal, she said people were not yet fully aware of what a real republic looked like. Delivering the 13th annual John Hume lecture, Ms O’Reilly said it was particularly appropriate that the lecture was named after the Nobel peace prize winner as he was a “pre-eminent human rights defender”.

She criticised the successors of the 1916 leaders, accusing them of franchising the State “to a private organisation called the Catholic Church, shedding in particular its responsibility for the education and health systems, and thereby allowing little actual space for the elected leaders of this republic to play their role in pursuing the happiness and prosperity of the nation”.

It was difficult for citizens to remind themselves that “we are actually the ones in charge”.

This was a difficulty, she added, that the executive and judiciary also struggled with. Referring to former attorney general Peter Sutherland, she said his core assertion made in a speech earlier this year, that the courts were “inappropriately forced to decide not alone what our values in this republic are or should be, but also to divine what the elected representatives of the people think about those values”.

She said that while the courts had too much unwanted power, parliament spent “much of its time ducking and diving and pretending it has no power whatsoever”. She accused the executive of “planting its boot far too firmly on the neck of the parliament and wielding power in a manner never envisaged by the Constitution.”

Quoting President Michael D Higgins, she said: “There is a deep-seated anti-intellectualism prevalent in Irish life,” and that our political and cultural life was marked by the false notion that one person’s ignorance was as good as another’s knowledge. She turned to the Constitution, quoting article 28.4.1 which states that the Government “shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann”.

“Quite clearly this is not the case. The nub of the problem is that parliament does not take itself seriously,” she said. “Our failures are essentially human rights failures and we should be particularly alive to the fact that, never more so than at a time of recession and austerity, are bodies such as a Human Rights Commission and an Equality Authority needed to make sure that in a decade’s time we won’t be weeping our way through another pitiful cataloguing of State-inflicted abuse, albeit with a modern twist.”

In his opening address, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he looked to 2016 and the centenary of the Easter Rising. “To be a real republic, Ireland has to be a sovereign republic,” he said. “We will strive . . . and work even harder so that we will become the best small country in the world for business, to raise a family and to grow old with dignity and respect. This will be the republic of 2016.”

via Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly says current republic a ‘perversion’ of 1916 ideals – Social Affairs & News from Ireland & Abroad | The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR


I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the USUSSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.

Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.

In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.

Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.

Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years — 79% of his remaining life.

In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.

In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.

Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.

In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do — disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.

The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.

The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.

What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.

Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.

That’s all there is to it.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts

via OpEdNews – Article: Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR.

New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade


A new hard-hitting briefing from Amnesty International launched today accuses the UK Government of allowing businesses to dip under the human rights radar when it comes to trade and investment.

The 30-page document A history of neglect: UK Export Finance and human rights shines a light on a little known agency operating out of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills – UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Peter Frankental, of Amnesty International, explained:

“Through UKEF, the Government is enabling UK businesses to engage in high risk activities without proper scrutiny of their human rights impacts.

Export credit agencies like UKEF should not be allowed to support projects that undermine human rights and destroy the environment. And yet the British public has no real idea what UKEF gets up to.

“It is shameful that through their inaction, David Cameron’s government cannot be sure that UKEF doesn’t contribute to forced labour, trafficking or abusive forms of child labour.”

Export credit agencies exist to fill a gap by supporting transactions and projects around the world that commercial banks consider too risky. The reasons can range from political instability to the fear that they will not get paid.

In these cases companies may turn for financial assistance to export credit agencies such as UKEF.

The concern, as revealed in the briefing, is that UKEF pays too little heed to international human rights standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Instead, UKEF has chosen to be constrained by the weak international standard for export credit agencies, the OECD’s ‘Common Approaches’. This means that the only transactions which are potentially considered for human rights and environmental impact assessment have to hit the following criteria: be for more than £10 million; last more than two years; and not be for the aerospace or defence sectors.

UKEF’s recently released annual report showed that of the 138 transactions supported in the last 12 months only eight could have been considered for human rights and environmental impact assessments.

Peter Frankental said:

“UKEF reflects a fatal combination of an agency that doesn’t want to be held accountable for its impacts and a Government that won’t lift a finger to hold it accountable.

“Human rights should not be sacrificed in this way on the altar of trade and investment.

“That cannot be allowed to continue. As a matter of urgency, the government should be pushing for complete transparency and the highest level of accountability.”

UKEF guarantees payment to the UK company exporting or investing abroad. If the contract is with a foreign state which defaults, the debt is covered by UKEF and added to that country’s sovereign debt to the UK. Debts to export credit agencies represent the majority of the developing world’s bilateral debt.

via AIUK : New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade.

Guantánamo hunger strike: Lawyers and human rights groups say it is just a matter of time before the detainees start to die


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Emaciated and frail, more than 100 men lie on concrete floors of freezing, solitary cells in Guantánamo, silently starving themselves to death.

 

Stripped of all possessions, even basics such as a sleeping mat or soap, they lie listlessly as guards periodically bang on the steel doors and shout at them to move an arm or leg to prove they are still conscious.

The notorious detention centre is in crisis, suffering a rebellion of unprecedented scale, with most of the camp on lockdown and around two-thirds of the 166 detainees on hunger strike.

This week 40 American military nurses were drafted in to try to stem a mass suicide. The last Brit inside, Shaker Aamer, has said he is prepared to strike to his death.

The US administration does its best to keep prying eyes from the unfolding tragedy but the The Independent has obtained first-hand reports.

Twice a day, the 23 most weak are taken into a room. Their wrists, arms, stomach, legs and head are strapped to a chair and repeated attempts are made to force a tube down their noses into their stomachs. It is an ugly procedure as they gag and wretch, blood dripping from their nostrils. “They won’t let us live in peace and now they won’t let us die in peace,” said detainee, Fayiz Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held for 11 years without charge.

Four are so ill that they lie in shackles in the hospital wing and insiders predict it is only a matter of time before one perishes.

“It is possible that I may die in here,” said Mr Aamer, 44, through his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, recently. “I hope not, but if I do die, please tell my children that I loved them above all else, but that I had to stand up for the principle that they cannot just keep holding people without a trial, especially when they have been cleared for release,” said the father of four, who remains in Camp 5 despite being approved for release more than five years ago. “Sad to say, torture and abuse continue in Guantánamo Bay and the US is throwing away yet more of its dwindling moral authority,” added Mr Stafford Smith.

he protest, which began on 6 February, has now spread through Camp 6 and Camp 5 with an estimated 100 to 130 taking part. These are not the high value detainees kept in Camp 7, the handful charged with terror offences. The hunger strikers are those who have waited a decade or more without trial, including 86 cleared for release but remain trapped because of restrictions imposed by Congress.

As President Barack Obama pledged to press for Guantánamo’s closure this week, detainees described how it has gone back to the draconian regime of the Bush administration.

“Defence lawyers have tried to engage in constructive dialogue but we have been met with resistance and silence,” explained US Army Captain Jason Wright, a lawyer who described seeing his client Obaidullah, now a 115lb “bag of bones” , a few days ago as “extremely distressing”.

“I have pain in waist, dizziness. I cannot sleep well. I fell [sic] hopeless. I cannot exercise. My muscle become weaker in the last 50 days. I have thrown up five times,” wrote Obaidullah, a 32-year-old Afghan who has never been charged despite 11 years imprisonment.

“When I walked into the room he was demonstrably changed. He said, ‘They won’t treat us with dignity, they are treating us like dogs’. There is an urgency. It is clear that if this hunger strike continues there will be deaths. These men are going to die in this prison for nothing. It is an absolute outrage,” said Capt Wright.

“The hunger strike is a political protest. The fact that they are being treated in this manner is contrary to international law and un-American,” he added. The protest began on 6 February when, according to lawyers, the new administration decided to end “an era of permissiveness” and take a more punitive approach, in contravention with the Geneva Convention, which calls for preventative detention. Guards confiscated all “comfort items” but what inflamed inmates most was a search of their Korans, an act the administration denies.

Prisoners began writing SOS on the outside of their cells but the protest passed peacefully until 13 April when guards used rubber bullets to move inmates from communal cell blocks, where they had covered cameras, and some responded with “improvised weapons” such as broom handles.

First-hand reports this week reveal that most prisoners are now being held in solitary confinement in empty, windowless cells just 12ft by 8ft. Clean water is rationed, they say, and they have been stripped off all possessions.

They complain the air-conditioning has been turned up to an icy level, guards deliberately disturb prayer times and turn up throughout the night to take them for showers.

Describing sleeping on a concrete floor, using his shoes as a pillow, Moroccan Younous Chekkouri said via phone to his lawyers at the charity Reprieve: “Pain starts immediately when I’m on the floor. Pain in my neck, pain in my chest. Finally at night they gave us blankets. It was very cold. Water is now a privilege. They are treating us like animals,” he added. “I thought my torture had ended, but what is happening now is horrible.”

Amnesty was among several human rights organisations to describe the situation at the camp in Cuba as “at crisis point” this week while UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez condemned the continued detention as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

Omar Deghayes, 43, a British  resident who was released without charge in 2007, recalled the effect of two shorter hunger strikes. Lying in a “fridge-like” cell, he said he could barely stand within four days and was consumed with hunger and pains.

“You start to hallucinate. When people talk to you, you can’t understand them. I started to hear voices. Then I started to vomit blood and puss. Your stomach contracts and when they force feed large quantities, you can’t control anything, you get diarrhoea on your trousers. They take you into the yard and hose you down.”

Most people cannot survive losing more than 40 per cent of their body weight. Once fat stores are depleted, the body begins to consume the muscles and vital organs for energy. A large number on the current hunger strike have lost around a third of their body weight. While some are keeping alive by using a vitamin and mineral drink, 23 are now being force-fed.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Wingard, a lawyer who visited Mr Al-Kandari, this week, explained: “He said they strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist. The tube makes his eyes water excessively and blood begins to trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat the gag reflex kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into the body for 45 minutes to two hours. He feels like his body is going to convulse and often vomits.

“He is emaciated, down from 150lb to 100lb. He can’t walk. He finds is difficult to concentrate. He burps all the time as his stomach eats itself,” added the US Air Force officer, who described the treatment as “beyond hypocrisy”.

The Department of Defence said yesterday it used enteral feeding only when a detainee’s life was in danger. Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale added detainees had the highest standards of humane treatment.

“Detainees are not punished for hunger striking. However, we will not allow them to harm themselves,” he said, adding: “We will not allow them to commit suicide by starving themselves to death.”

Prisoners complain, however, that instead of leaving the tube in, they reinsert it twice a day. Dr Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, wrote to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel recently to complain that force feeding was in violation of medical ethics.

Capt Wright, who travelled on the same plane as the nurses, said this week: “I can’t imagine they understood what they are being asked to do for their country. I don’t think they knew how horrific it would be. I hope some of them have the courage to say no.”

via Guantánamo hunger strike: Lawyers and human rights groups say it is just a matter of time before the detainees start to die – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

The rEvolution will not be Properly Licensed


You want justice, clean air/oceans, liberty, natural rights, peace, animal rights, earth rights, economic stability, and freedom?  There is one method of ‘activism’ that would effect mass positive change in all of those areas!  Mass Civil Dis-Obedience!

Traditionally, we attempted to effect change in one of three ways. (Elections, Protest, or Violence)

1) Elections:  Please understand that it is impossible to transform our world via Non-Consensual Government.  We have been trying to elect moral and aware politicians for decades, and although there may have been a few, the vast majority of our Politicians are predators.  It’s basically impossible to get moral people in Government when the current Predators own the Printing Presses, the Media, the Military, the Police, and have created a system of entitlement that maintains the status quo.  By definition, you cannot join the mafia to make the mafia good.

2) Protest:  Please understand that it is impossible to transform Society via Protest.  Standing on the streets yelling and holding signs, simply does not work!   May I suggest to stop yelling and waving signs while still paying ‘taxes’.  Taxes are the payment for goods and services offered at the barrel of a gun.  Is there any good or service so good, that it needs to shoved down your throat?

3) Violence:  Using immoral methods to bring about a moral society is contradictory and does not work!  Coincidentally, this is the very reason that non-consensual government does not work.  Government is using immoral force on behalf of those in Government who decide what the common good is.

The only defense against tyranny and fascism is Mass Civil Dis-Obedience!

1) Put aside our religious differences.  Muslims, Christians, and Atheists can stand together, shoulder to shoulder, against the predator tyrants that rule the world.   Once we are free, than we can have peaceful philosophical debates.

2) Stop participating in the false left/right paradigm.  If half the people in the country want to work together in social communities, sharing work, food, profits, etc. and the other half want to live more independent than both are ok!  There is no reason why every single person should be forced to live the way the rulers of the collective decide.  By keeping the country divided roughly 50/50, the predator minority maintains control.  Other than natural law/rights (no violence or violation of rights), all other rules should require consent of the individual, similar to contract law!  In a free society we can have thousands or millions of flavors of communities that voluntarily choose social obligations.

3)  Go ahead and try to effect change in Government and keep protesting, but most importantly ‘Dis-Obey’ immoral laws and stop paying taxes!  Support those who dis-obey immoral laws.  Ask yourself, is he/she hurting another in anyway.  Other than the laws pertaining to violence and violation of rights, all other rules need to be consented too.  Do unto others as you would want done to you!

4)  If the Environmental is of importance than realize that the taxes you pay to the Government are used to not only protect guilty corporations (via the EPA and the Corporate Veil) but also used as subsidies (corporate welfare) to enhance their filthy ways.  Sure, keep on reducing your need for GMO foods, Fossil Fuels, etc, but you must refuse to pay and participate in the destruction of the Environment.  Guiltless corporations do not dump trillions of gallons of oil into the ocean, people do – and they need to be held responsible or environmental destruction will not end!  Do not engage in Violence acts towards corporations, simply stop contributing to them and believing in the illusion of Government!

5)  If the WAR is of importance than realize that the taxes you pay to the Government are used to perpetuate wars, not end them.   Paying taxes for bombs used to annihilate innocent civilians is immoral.  Sure, a few bad guys may have been killed, but the point is Control, not protection.  The only way war will end is when we stop paying for the wars and the individuals within the military decide to put down the guns.  Self-Defense is ok, but do not initiate violence.

6) If Freedom and Liberty are of importance than you already realize that the bigger Government becomes the less Freedom and Rights you have.  BUT – please expand your understanding of Freedom and Liberty to also include Animals and Mother Earth.  Stop supporting the factories that measure production by the number of Animals they process a minute or by how small of a space they can jam the most amount of animals, it’s disgusting!  Yes, we need energy but associating Green with higher costs comes from from fear of the ‘Left’.  Help the Left understand that they don’t need more rules and more taxes to be Green, and then spend a few extra $$ and time to make ‘Green’ choices.

7)  It’s all about deleting our ‘programming’.  We have been programmed by our Media, Governments, Education, and Dogmatic Religions to be divisive slaves.  Reprogram yourself to more understanding and to listen better..

Current Civil Dis-Obedience waiting for the masses.

Rebecca Campbell vs the US – http://nowisthetime.us/about/

OPPT – Foreclosing on the Bankrupt Corporate Governments – http://oppt-in.com/

ITCCS – Found many leaders Guilty of Crimes against humanity – http://itccs.org/

Marc Stevens ‘No State Project’ – 90% success rate in court, simply asking for Proof of Jurisdiction.  http://marcstevens.net/

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – Journalists who found that the very leaders who enforcing taxes are hiding their income from being taxed in offshore tax havens – http://www.icij.org

Green Shadow Government – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m3zNyEIR-Wwhttp://truth-out.org/opinion/item/16102-another-government-is-necessary-the-people-can-rule-better-than-the-eliteshttp://clearingthefogradio.org/earth-day-celebration-announcement-of-green-shadow-cabinet-with-cheri-honkala-christopher-cox-and-sean-sweeney/

War Tax Resistors – http://www.nwtrcc.org/http://www.warresisters.org/http://wartaxboycott.org

Proofs that the Income Tax is illegal – Bill Benson http://www.thelawthatneverwas.com/Sherry Jackson (Ex-IRS) http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd320.htmJoe Banister (Ex-IRS Enforcer) – Larken Rose and his section 861

6 The rEvolution will not be Properly Licensed.

Nestle don’t think water’s a human right, because it’s all theirs


Recently, CEO of Nestle Peter Brabeck declared in an interview that he believes it is an ‘extreme view’ to regard access to water as a Human Right, and that we should instead hand our water supplies over to private companies. It’s quite hard for me, if I’m honest, to find a suitable expression for this level of sociopathic stupidity.

Only the most utterly ignorant, greedy shithusk of a being would think that something like this is a good idea. I exclude the word ‘human’ from that sentence, because presumably you aren’t one if you want to control a substance that is absolutely essential for our survival to make bigger numbers on a computer screen. Being human requires some degree of empathy, and apparently Pete has none.

However, anyone familiar with Nestles’ ‘antics’, if I can use so light a word to describe them, may not be entirely surprised. We are talking about a company who has no fear of causing death and suffering on huge scales for their sacred profit margins. You might remember the baby formula scandal from the late 1970’s for example, which still runs on to this day to some degree, and their use of palm oil contractors who destroy rainforests, drive people off their lands, and kill off endangered species as a result.

But back to the issue at hand. I’d now like to explain why water is obviously a Human Right, and why Mr Brabeck is such a prick. Actually, it’s so simple that I’m sure a 3 year old would grasp the concept without question. Here is the definition of Human Rights from the American Heritage Dictionary:

‘The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.’

There are lots of definitions, some more verbose, some more specific, but they all imply the same thing. I chose this one because it highlights a key point – ‘the right to life’. Perhaps Mr Brabeck, while staring intently at his computer monitor and masturbating over this months sales figures, is not aware of the fact that all human beings (even him – if he is one) are composed of around 70% water.

If we don’t have access to food or water, it’s dehydration that will kill us first, so it’s fairly obvious to anyone with even a modicum of a brain that this must therefore qualify as part of our ‘right to life’, thus being a key component of.. wait for it.. HUMAN RIGHTS. You simply cannot argue that the right to water is not a human right.

As much fun as it is to throw insults at Mr Brabeck and call him stupid, the unsettling truth, and in a way the real issue, is that actually all he is doing is following a preset precedent. Food is already privatised, medical care is privatised (although not entirely, yet, depending where you live), elements of education are privatised.

The problem is that we have already accepted many elements of our Human Rights being controlled by single minded corporations. For these people, the next step is water, because it’s a potential market. If you accept the above argument about water though, then you have to start applying the same argument to all the basic elements of Human Rights, in my mind.

Denying people the right to eat, or the right to shelter, or medical care is really equally as idiotic as what Petey is suggesting, so while he is certainly a valid target for those of us with a brain, we shouldn’t forget the bigger picture. He is, unfortunately, not alone.

via Nestle don’t think water’s a human right, because it’s all theirs | The Daily Shame.

via Nestle don’t think water’s a human right, because it’s all theirs | The Daily Shame.

Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?


Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?

Printed below is a deluded article written by a Shell exploration manager – Roland Spuij (person on the right) – who apparently is totally ignorant of Shell’s track record of giving a higher priority to production and profits than to the safety of its offshore workers. Either that, or he is trying to deliberate mislead New Zealanders?  Same applies to his comments about Shell’s conduct in Nigeria. Has he forgotten that in 2009 Shell paid $15.5 million (£9.7m) as an out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria. 17 pages of correspondence between Shell and the Nigerian Police – authentic exhibits from the litigation – prove Shell supplied arms and ammunition to the Nigerian police force (part of a corrupt murderous regime)

Otago Daily Times

Shell proud of its safety record

It’s good to see Rosemary Penwarden outlining her concerns and for Shell to have the right to respond, something we were unable to do in our recent meeting in Dunedin brought to a halt by other protesters.

Shell welcomes any discussion, including on climate change, so long as it has a chance to present its views. Whether there is oil or natural gas present in any basin is not determined by us or any opponents, but by nature. We have strong scientific evidence, including information from wells previously drilled in the Great South Basin, that we can expect to find gas there, with some associated liquid gas ”condensate”; the chance of finding oil is very low. The first step is to prove the presence of hydrocarbons as part of the exploration phase. It is too early to talk about options for future development concepts, assuming the presence of hydrocarbons is proven.

Shell did not leave anything off the table with our Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment.

At the earliest opportunity we were presenting some of the preliminary findings in order to get feedback. Rafting birds were indeed identified as potentially being affected in the very unlikely case of an uncontrolled release of gas and condensate. Much research was included on the feeding and migratory patterns of rafting birds, including albatross and shearwaters.

Shell operates under detailed processes, using the latest equipment and technology to minimise any credible risk a drilling spill could have on birds and marine life, particularly whales and dolphins. If we proceed to drilling, we will have a complete range of responses to deal with the consequences of any spill, however unlikely.

The video footage acquired by Niwa’s research vessel Tangaroa under contract to Shell does indeed indicate there is little marine life apparent on the surface seabed at the potential drilling site. Shell received the video footage only a few days before the meeting and chose to share it. Our preliminary conclusion is that drilling a single exploratory well over a month would have very limited impacts. We are open to further input.

Shell does not take lightly its often stated commitment to environmental and personal safety. We are a major player worldwide and publish our performance on environmental metrics on an annual basis. The number and volume of operational spills has steadily reduced over recent years but we continue to learn from all our incidents to improve our performance further in the future.

For the record, we were not involved in the 2010 Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, or the Elgin platform gas leak in the North Sea. We agree that the health and safety record for New Zealand is poor across all industries compared with Britain and other countries. The head of Shell New Zealand, Rob Jager, is at present chairing the Government’s Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.

As for Nigeria, as recently as last week, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a case attempting to link Shell with claims of human rights abuses in the Niger Delta – claims that Shell has always strongly denied. Shell remains firmly committed to supporting fundamental human rights, including those of peaceful protest. Shell acknowledges improvements can be made to our operations there and has made significant progress in reducing spills and gas flaring in recent years. It is important to note that the vast majority of spilt oil in Nigeria is caused by rampant criminality – oil theft and illegal refining. This leads to widespread environmental damage and is the real tragedy of the Niger Delta.

Shell shares concerns about climate change and we see gas as a clean and affordable energy source. Wind, solar and bio fuels are some 1% of the energy mix today and they will have an important role to play beyond 2030. Over the past five years, we have spent US$2.2 billion on developing alternative energies, carbon capture and storage, and other CO2-related R&D.

But industry will need to see more technology development to make renewables cost-competitive with hydrocarbons and less reliant on subsidy; we are working on that for the long term. We do not have coal reserves. Our 2012 total production was split almost equally between oil and gas. Given that natural gas has around half the carbon emissions of coal and about a third that of diesel, this should provide some common ground for discussions on how we address climate change in a world with ever-increasing energy demands. We remain committed to debating all these issues and urge anyone with an interest in New Zealand’s energy future to engage constructively with us.

– Roland Spuij, Shell’s New Zealand exploration manager.

via Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com.

via Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com.

The Angola 3-The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me


The Angola 3- who are they? 

Voices from Solitary: The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me

by Herman Wallace, who has been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s prison system for almost 41 years, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola.

A Defined Voice

They removed my whisper from general population

To maximum security I gained a voice

They removed my voice from maximum security

To administrative segregation

My voice gave hope

They removed my voice from administrative segregation

To solitary confinement

My voice became vibration for unity

They removed my voice from solitary confinement

To the Supermax of Camp J

And now they wish to destroy me

The louder my voice the deeper they bury me

I SAID, THE LOUDER MY VOICE THE DEEPER THEY BURY ME!

img4

The Angola 3 – Herman Wallace (left), Robert King (centre) and Albert Woodfox (right). This is the only photo in existence of the three of them together.

Free all political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoner of consciousness.

Who are they -Reprinted from Wikipedia

The Angola Three are three men, Robert Hillary King (born Robert King Wilkerson), Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, who were put in solitary confinement for decades in Angola PrisonLouisiana after the death of a prison guard.

While inside prison, contact with members of the Black Panthers led to the creation of a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971.[citation needed] The men then organized prisoners to build a movement within the walls to desegregate the prison, to end systematicrape and violence, for better living conditions, and worked as jailhouse lawyers helping prisoners file legal papers. They organized multiple strikes and sit-ins for better conditions. Woodfox and Wallace were convicted of the 1972 stabbing murder of 23-year-old prison guard Brent Miller.[1] King was said by authorities to be linked to the murder but was not charged.[2]

The three men were taken out of the general prison population and were held in solitary confinement after Miller’s murder in 1972.[1] They remained in solitary confinement until former black panther member Malik Rahim of Common Ground Collective, and a young law student, Scott Fleming, in 1997 discovered that these men were still locked up. They began investigating the case, questioning the facts of the original investigations at Angola and raising questions about their original trials.

Robert Hillary King was released after 29 years in solitary confinement after his first conviction was overturned and he pleaded guilty to a lesser conspiracy to commit murdercharge. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are still prisoners in Angola prison and are working to get released. In March 2008 they were moved, after 36 years, from solitary confinement to a maximum security dormitory.[3]

Albert Woodfox has had two appeal hearings (one in November 2008 and one in May 2010) which have resulted in his conviction being overturned and him being granted full habeas corpus. Both appeals were overturned. Immediately after the first in November 2008, both men were moved out of the dormitory, separated and placed back in isolation and in March 2009, Wallace, along with a group of 15 inmates from Angola, was moved to Hunt Correctional Centre where a closed cell isolation tier was created for the first time. In November 2010, Albert was moved to David Wade Correctional Center which is seven hours north of his family and supporters, and stripped of his phone and visiting rights.

A third hearing is due in Spring 2012, and the two men are also bringing a civil case against the state of Louisiana, which is due to take place in Autumn 2012.

Both men, whose sentences for their original crimes have long since passed, suffer from a range of different medical issues – some due in part to their conditions of confinement and their enforced sedentary lifestyle.

Amnesty International is calling on the Louisiana authorities to end the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Woodfox and Wallace, and to remove them immediately from solitary confinement.

Their cases have gained increased interest over the last few years. Since his release, Robert Hillary King has worked to build international recognition for the Angola 3. He has spoken before the parliaments in the NetherlandsFrancePortugalIndonesiaBrazil and Britain and about the case, and political prisoners in the U.S.. King was received as a guest and dignitary by the African National Congress in South Africa, and has spoken with Desmond TutuAmnesty International has added them to their ‘watch list’ of “political prisoners” / “prisoners of conscience.”

They have a pending civil suit ‘Wilkerson, Wallace and Woodfox’ vs. the State of Louisiana which the United States Supreme Court ruled has merit to proceed to trial based on the fact that their 30+ years in solitary confinement is “inhumane and unconstitutional”.[citation needed] The outcome of this landmark civil case could eliminate long term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

They are the subject of 2010 documentary In the Land of the Free, directed by Vadim Jean and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The film features Robert King, telephone interviews with Woodfox and Wallace, and interviews with attorneys and others involved with the cases – including the widow of Brent Miller, who believes the men are innocent of her husband’s murder.

They were also the subject of a 2006 documentary film 3 Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation and of a music video produced by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics in protest of the incarceration of the Angola 3 and featuring Saul WilliamsNadirah XAsdru SierraDana GloverTina SchlieskeDerrick Ashong and Stewart.[4]

Herman Wallace is the subject of an ongoing socio-political art project entitled “The House That Herman Built”, in which artist Jackie Sumell asked Wallace what his dream home would be like, and documented his response in various media.[5] In 2012, the film “Herman’s House” was released.[6]

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[edit]External links

via The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me | Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

via The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me | Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

Jean-Claude Duvalier Rule of Law and Reason of State?


Nothing but bluff! Attendance at the Court of Appeal of the former despot of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, is nothing but a staged frightening after he was cleared, January 30, 2012, the examining magistrate Jean Carvès for crimes against humanity. There is a mounting scandal from Mr. Martelly desperate to rehabilitate politically Jean-Claude Duvalier who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1971 to 1986.

Hundreds of thousands of opponents of the deposed dictator of the time were killed or missing, according to international human rights organizations. Volunteers for National Security (VSN), commonly called the “Tonton Macoutes” became the real backbone of the grinding machine of bloodthirsty regime, had many innocent victims languishing in the jails of Fort Dimanche, the National Penitentiary, Dessalines Barracks and Police Port-au-Prince, etc ….

It is a scandal to the world nationally and internationally about the attitude of a judicial system too biased in a country plagued by systematic violence where the law of the strongest prevails. The passivity with which society reacts to file Duvalier is like a “Oscar” which was presented as a sign of excellence for the harm and damage to the whole of society some of which are far beyond repair. For every crime unpunished already opened the way for another.

via Jean-Claude Duvalier file: Rule of Law and Reason of State? «Rapadoo Observateur.

via Jean-Claude Duvalier file: Rule of Law and Reason of State? «Rapadoo Observateur.

A tortured history, a reflection of utter failure


Could you or I be kidnapped and waterboarded and still have no right to sue?

NATO forces have refused to turn Afghan prisoners over to some local jails due to concerns about the torture committed in many of those detention centers. After a dozen years of U.S. efforts to export democracy to Afghanistan, that’s just one example of why this mission has proven to be an utter failure.

The Guantánamo prison also illustrates what’s gone wrong with our permanent battle formerly known as the Global War on Terror. President Barack Obama promised to shut it down when he was first sworn in four years ago, but the Caribbean detention center is still wrecking lives and standing as a gleaming symbol of so many things that are wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

The biggest obstacle to closing Gitmo is the dilemma of what to do with the detainees still held there. In any event, Congress has barred their transfer to American soil. People here have rights, or at least used to, and we surely can’t afford to let terror suspects claim any of those.

The farther they are from U.S. shores, and the murkier the justice systems of the receiving nations, the harder it’s going to be to trace any appalling abuse back to our “anti-terrorism” experts.

So hard, in fact, that Attorney General Eric Holder has ruled it can’t be done. No prosecutions await, therefore, for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, David Petraeus, Barack Obama, Leon Panetta, or the hundreds — maybe thousands — of underlings who oversaw acts of torture committed in U.S. custody or later covered them up. We can’t be entirely sure whether such deeds still go on until some brave soul makes another movie or another whistleblower decides it’s worth life in jail to tell us.

That’s why I consider John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who spilled the beans about waterboarding, a hero.

The FBI prosecuted him for divulging the name of another agent to a journalist. Even though the reporter didn’t publish the operative’s name, Kiriakou began serving a 30-month prison sentence on Feb. 28. This made the whistleblower the only CIA officer to do time for anything related to torture

As Kiriakou’s fate indicates, our justice system isn’t much help for thwarting government-sponsored abuse. A federal appeals court has ruled that even U.S. citizens who were tortured by our own military have no “right of action.” How’s that? Could you or I be kidnapped and waterboarded too and still have no right to sue? Attacked by one of our own government’s drones?

Historically, it’s no surprise that torture turns out to be an established weapon in America’s diplomatic arsenal.

After all, look at the history behind the School of the Americas, where some of the most vicious leaders in Latin America learned terror techniques at our behest. That training beefed up our ability to defend friendly dictators in the West, and to oust leftist leaders who somehow managed to get elected.

U.S. citizens understandably have trouble knowing what to believe. It just can’t be true that our own virtuous democracy has, now or ever, perpetuated torture. But then there is all the evidence. Guantánamo detainees have been subjected to everything from sensory deprivation to Chinese torture techniques.

Washington will have us believe that the victims are all terrorists. And the Republicans (John McCain aside) say it’s really OK since we must be getting some valuable information.

The rest of the world isn’t quite so sure. A war crimes tribunal in Malaysia has independently found the United States guilty of those crimes. So have the European Court of Human Rights and the Italian Supreme Court.

In his second term, President Barack Obama should shut Gitmo and put an end to these abuses that stain our nation’s integrity.

OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. OtherWords.org

via WILLIAM A. COLLINS: A tortured history, a reflection of utter failure- The Register Citizen.

via WILLIAM A. COLLINS: A tortured history, a reflection of utter failure- The Register Citizen.

Goldman Sachs: Regulation is Good for Others, Not Us. Human Rights Group Lambasts Goldman Sachs Over Russia


Goldman Sachs: Regulation is Good for Others, Not Us.

Goldman Sachs suggests regulation is needed in Russia in order to attract investors to that country.  Strange that what is good for others is staunchly lobbied against at home; namely, regulations.

Vladimir Putin - World Economic Forum Annual M...

The Human Rights Foundation last week slammed Goldman Sachs for their ongoing relationship with the Russian government, saying the bulge bracket bank was basically aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise.

They argued for Goldman Sachs to cease accepting payments from Russia, payments that go towards helping the bank make Russia look good to potential investors and international rating agencies. Russian officials last month announced that they will pay the Wall Street firm $500,000 over the next three years to help the Putin regime lure foreign cash.

“Goldman Sachs has a reputation for knowing global finance, but it has behaved abhorrently when it comes to human rights and assessing investment risk in Russia,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen in a press release dated Feb. 6.

“By striking this deal with Vladimir Putin, Goldman Sachs is abetting one of the world’s most corrupt governments that’s been repeatedly cited by independent monitoring groups for ignoring human rights, property rights, and sound corporate governance practices. The Putin government shoots at students, tortures whistleblowers to death, and detains and expropriates its enemies—and Goldman is helping them attract investors. It’s mind-boggling,” the HRF president said.

For its part, Goldman Sachs said in a statement that, “We believe it is in the long term interest of Russia and its people to attract foreign investments; we are pleased to play a role to facilitate this process in making Russia more open to foreign investors.”

Russia ranks 133 out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, alongside Iran and Kazakhstan and below Uganda and Nicaragua. International courts, human rights groups across the political spectrum, and investment analysts have decried the political and economic toll on Russia over recent high profile arrests and even, in some cases, deaths in Russian prisons.

“Why would Goldman Sachs put its credibility on the line and attempt to encourage investors to put their money at risk in Russia when everyone from the smallest entrepreneur to the greatest private equity titan faces the very real chance that they will lose everything given the Putin regime’s abysmal record of midnight raids, commercially inspired arrests, targeted tax probes and outright asset thefts?” Halvorssen said in the release. “Even aggressive and savvy operators like BP, Hewlett-Packard, Ikea, Microsoft and Starbucks have run afoul of Putin and his corrupt regime. How can Goldman be so short-sighted?”

Since Putin reassumed the presidency in May 2012, Russia has prosecuted and jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot for protesting in front of a church. Putin also cracked down on pro-democracy and foreign non-profits critical of Russian democracy.

“Goldman Sachs’ deal with Putin ranks among the worst examples ever of a company seeking to bolster its profits by laundering the financial reputation of a country led by a corruptly elected despot,” said HRF chairman Garry Kasparov. “It’s appalling that Goldman Sachs sees nothing wrong with defending a regime that has made a farce of the legal system, ignored property rights and murdered and imprisoned brave men and women who have sought to promote economic freedom. Save the obvious moral issues, Goldman Sachs is ignoring its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders and risking prosecution of its executives and board members under the U.S. Foreign Corruption Practices Act by asking investors to risk their capital in Russia before much-needed reforms are put in place.”

Goldman Sachs says that in its new role it will seek to highlight Russia’s commitment to increasing government transparency. “But the truth is transparency and corruption won’t take hold as long as the regime flouts the rule of law and uses Russia’s financial system as its personal piggy bank,” Kasparov said. “Virtually every NGO warns that the human rights situation in Russia is at its worst since the fall of the Soviet Union over two decades ago. By doing business with Putin, Goldman Sachs is acting as an enemy of free enterprise and economic freedom.”

via Human Rights Group Lambasts Goldman Sachs Over Russia – Forbes.

via Human Rights Group Lambasts Goldman Sachs Over Russia – Forbes.

Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights?


Have you ever wished there was a set of standards by which budgets could be assessed that didn’t have to do with deficit hawks and stimulus sparrows pecking each other’s eyes out in the constricted ring of corporate opinion?

A noble little park opened in New York City last month: Four Freedoms Park. In the coverage of the Louis Kahn structure (which seems to rise like a ship out of Manhattan’s East River), remarkably little was made of the title. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1941, “the Four Freedoms” are core requirements for humane political and economic existence:

“For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy,” said Roosevelt. “The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all. The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”

The “four freedoms” FDR named (which would eventually be incorporated into what became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), were freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The last of those FDR defined as “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.”

Watching the carnage in the Middle East and anticipating the arms-bonanza that is sure to follow it’s hard not to wince. CNN’s coverage alone, with its feverish fascination with Israel’s purported missile-defense prowess, is sure to result in yet a new boom for the death merchants in that country and ours.

But human rights standards aren’t only for international actors, says economist Radhika Balakrishnan. We could do with some good human rights lawyers in the budget debate in Washington. Balakrishnan is the director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is also co-editor of Economic Policy and Human Rights: Holding Governments to Account.

“Looking at the election we have just been through, if we had been looking at this from a human rights lens, every candidate would have to have spoken about poverty,” Balakrishnan explained, because governments have obligations to the most vulnerable in the society. The United States hasn’t ratified many international human rights accords, but it has signed some. Under those, humans have rights and governments have duties, among those the duty to use the “maximum available resources” to realize the basic human rights of its people.

“All of these discussions that are taking place as ‘you’re for the rich or you’re for the poor’ can be addressed in a very different way,” reflects Balakrishnan.

Austerity as a human rights violation? It certainly puts a different spin on things. We spoke as the Center was about to kick off its 16 Days Campaign, a concentrated season of activism on violence against women.

Like this article? Support this journalism with a $5 donation now.

Click here to learn more about the center. To watch my conversation with Professor Balakrishnan in full and to find out why the Federal Reserve needs human rights observers, watch this.

via Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights? | The Nation.

via Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights? | The Nation.

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