Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fierce clashes in Greece: Stones fly on police, tear gas used on students


Nearly 50 people have been arrested and one injured near the American embassy in Athens, during a rally marking a 1970s student anti-dictatorship uprising. More than 20,000 demonstrators clashed with riot police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Police also reported clashes in the southern city of Patras. People were venting their anger at the U.S. support for the Junta which then ruled Greece.


Two days earlier:


Thousands of people protested November 15, 2010 in central Athens the same day IMF and EU officials arrived in Athens. A few hundred protesters clashed with police in front of Athens University. Clashes continued to the Polytechnic in Exarchia. The protests come two days before the annual November 17 march to the U.S. embassy.

UN urges full US torture investigation

Iran's Press TV reports:

The United Nations has called on the United States to conduct a full investigation into torture under the administration of former US President George W. Bush.


The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Ernesto Mendez, urged Washington on Tuesday to prosecute offenders as well as senior officials who ordered the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"The United States has a duty to investigate every act of torture. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much in the way of accountability," Mendez told Reuters.

The Argentinean diplomat also said he plans to visit Iraq to investigate what he called a "very widespread practice of torture" of detainees by US-led forces, following the 2003 occupation of the war-torn country.

The new UN expert who, himself, is a victim of prison torture during Argentina's dictatorship in the 1970s, also plans to visit Guantanamo prison.

Mendez says he wants to conduct his own probe there on condition that US officials allow him to interview prisoners still being held at Guantanamo by the Obama administration.

He also condemned Bush's comments in his recently published memoir, "Decision Points."

In his book, Bush confirms that he personally approved a request by CIA agents to use waterboarding and other forms of torture in the interrogation of so-called "terror suspects." He claims that his decision helped save lives.

Bush's autobiography, which has been much publicized in the mainstream media, is considered as an attempt to politically resurrect the ex-president's badly-tainted reputation during his tenure.

This is while many human rights activists believe that Bush is a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

Among his crimes are unleashing two wars on Afghanistan and Iraq following the September, 11, 2001 event. The ongoing conflicts have killed over a million Afghan and Iraqi civilians and left nearly 6,000 US soldiers dead.

The unpopular former US leader is also blamed for the torture of hundreds of Iraqis, Afghans and other Muslims in US detention facilities such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bagram in Afghanistan and Guantanamo in Cuba.

Last week, Amnesty International, stated that the United States must prosecute Bush for torture after a criminal probe into his admissions.

During recent month, the United States' human rights records have come under scrutiny.

In an unprecedented move two weeks ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council launched an investigation into the country's rights violations for the first time.

Although the assessment leads to no action, it undermines Washington's immunity from punishment over torture, continued military trials, detentions and targeted drone killings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.



And a video from last year:

Hundreds of masked protesters call for George Bush to be arrested for war crimes as he opens Presidential Centre in Dallas

Protesters called for George W. Bush to be arrested for his role in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as he opened his presidential library in Dallas.
Demonstrators staked hundreds of white crosses into the ground to represent troops killed in both wars and carried banners saying 'torture is illegal' and 'arrest Bush'.
It comes after controversial remarks made by Mr Bush in his memoirs Decision Points that water-boarding saved lives in Britain by preventing attacks on Heathrow and Canary Wharf.

[ ... ]

The former Texas governor's memoirs will be reflected in part of the library's permanent exhibit, a 'decision theater' where visitors can hear a set of facts, then try to decide what they would have done.
The permanent exhibit also focuses on themes of freedom, opportunity, compassion and responsibility.

~ more... ~



The influence of Prophet Muhammad on John Locke

"... Although the idea of religious liberty and tolerance is a new issue in the West initiated with philosophers of the 18th century like John Locke and M Voltaire, it has always been a simple fact for Muslims, clearly declared in their religion.
John Locke's "Irrationality Argument" stems from his "A Letter Concerning Toleration", first published in 1689. The main thrust of the letter is Locke's argument that religious intolerance by Christians is both unchristian and irrational. The latter "irrationality argument" is arguably the most important argument contained within the letter because while John Stuart Mill's work focused on preserving a wide range of liberties, including freedom of speech and lifestyle, Locke's greatest contribution to liberal thought was concerned with freedom of religious belief and his 1689 letter outlined his arguments in this matter.

The letter itself sought to answer two important questions:

• Whether a state should allow its citizens to follow the religion of their choosing, or should they be made to follow a state approved religion (in Locke's case Christianity)?

• What are the limits of religious toleration?

There may have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims in the United States in 1776—imported as slaves from areas of Africa where Islam flourished. Although there is no evidence that the Founders were aware of the religious convictions of their bondsmen, it is clear that the Founding Fathers thought about the relationship of Islam to the new nation and were prepared to make a place for it in the republic.

In his seminal Letter on Toleration (1689), John Locke insisted that Muslims and all others who believed in God be tolerated in England. Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Jefferson followed Locke, his idol, in demanding recognition of the religious rights of the "Mahamdan," the Jew and the "pagan." Supporting Jefferson was his old ally, Richard Henry Lee, who had made a motion in Congress on June 7, 1776, that the American colonies declare independence. "True freedom," Lee asserted, "embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo (Hindu) as well as the Christian religion."
In his autobiography, Jefferson recounted with satisfaction that in the struggle to pass his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), the Virginia legislature "rejected by a great majority" an effort to limit the bill's scope "in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan." George Washington suggested a way for Muslims to "obtain proper relief" from a proposed Virginia bill, laying taxes to support Christian worship. On another occasion, the first president declared that he would welcome "Mohometans" to Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen" (see page 96). Officials in Massachusetts were equally insistent that their influential Constitution of 1780 afforded "the most ample liberty of conscience … to Deists, Mahometans, Jews and Christians," a point that Chief Justice Theophilus Parsons resoundingly affirmed in 1810.snarla.Anonymous Arabist. ..."

~ more... ~

FBI brass ask Google, Facebook to expand wiretaps

Dan Goodin reports for The Register:

Top officials from the FBI traveled to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to persuade Facebook and Google executives to support a proposal that would make it easier for law enforcement to wiretap the companies' users.

FBI Director Robert Mueller III and General Counsel Valerie Caproni were scheduled to meet with "managers of several major companies" including Facebook and Google, according to The New York Times. It wasn't clear how the companies responded.

The proposal first came to light in September, when the FBI warned that much of its information-gathering ability was under threat by the move to VoIP and other encrypted communications. Legislation under consideration would require cellphone carriers, websites, and other types of service providers to have a way to unscramble encrypted communications traveling over their networks, according to the NYT.

The Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act requires phone and broadband providers to have the means to make sure they can immediately comply with court wiretap orders. The FBI wants to extend that requirement to communication service providers, including those that offer strong end-to-end encryption services that make it infeasible to intercept and read traffic as it travels over their networks. The proposed legislation mentions Skype and Research in Motion by name.

Under the proposal, developers of email, instant-messaging and voice-over-internet-protocol applications would be forced to redesign their services so their contents can be intercepted by law enforcement agents. The Commerce Department and State Department have questioned whether such a requirement would stifle innovation and put US companies at a disadvantage. They have also have concerns that the capabilities could be abused by rogue regimes to spy on US citizens.

A Google official declined to comment to the NYT, while a Facebook spokesman said it would be premature for executives of the social network to take a position.

Pacific Island Passes Cannabis Legalisation Bill

Posted on Voxy.co.nz:

Mana By-election candidate for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, Julian Crawford, is welcoming news that cannabis legalisation is taking hold in the pacific region.

The Marianas Islands, last week, became the first pacific country to pass a cannabis legalisation bill through parliament. The bill passed despite threats from the US to revoke over US$10 million in aid to the Islands.

"Cannabis Legalisation in the Marianas will significantly boost tourism in the region as well as undermining the black market profits associated with Cannabis," he said.

Mr Crawford hopes that other pacific islands will follow suit once they see the profound economic and social benefits of cannabis reform. "I believe that a prohibition free zone could be established in the pacific just as was done with the nuclear issue. New Zealand could play a key role in establishing such a zone," he said.

The Mana electorate has a very high pacific population as well as soaring levels of unemployment. "I hope that voters in Mana will support the Cannabis Party at the ballot box once they see their pacific neighbours endorsing legalisaton, regulation and taxation of cannabis as a way to boost their economies," he concluded.

Cannabis Compounds Reduce Multi-Drug Resistant Infections

Study Says Cannabinoids Show "Exceptional" Antibacterial Activity Against MRSA

Cannabis Science, Inc. (OTCBB: GFON). Dr. Robert Melamede, PhD., Director and Chief Science Officer, reported to the Board on the current state of research into the use of natural plant cannabinoids to reduce the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), and the prospects for development of topical whole-cannabis treatments.

According to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and by the Center for Disease Control in 2007, MRSA is responsible for more than 18,500 hospital-stay related deaths each year, and increased direct healthcare costs of as much as $9.7 billion.
Dr. Melamede stated, "Research into use of whole cannabis extracts and multi-cannabinoid compounds has provided the scientific rationale for medical marijuana's efficacy in treating some of the most troubling diseases mankind now faces, including infectious diseases such as the flu and HIV, autoimmune diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's, stroke and brain injury, as well as numerous forms of cancer.
     One common element of these diseases is that patients often suffer extended hospital stays, risking development of various Staphyloccus infections including MRSA.
A topical, whole-cannabis treatment for these infections is a functional complement to our cannabis extract-based lozenge."

Investigators at Italy's Universita del Piemonte Orientale and Britain's University of London, School of Pharmacy reported in the Journal of Natural Products that five cannabinoids - THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBN - "showed potent antibacterial activity" and "exceptional" antibacterial activity against two epidemic MRSA occurring in UK hospitals.

~ more... ~

UK: Fitwatch Website Suspended After Student Solidarity Post!

Following contact from New Scotland Yard, the Fitwatch website and domain name (www.fitwatch.org.uk) have been suspended for a minimum of twelve months for "attempting to pervert the course of justice".

Following the student protests Fitwatch wrote a piece supporting students after last Wednesday's protest entitled:  Beating police repression after the student occupation

Fitwatch say they will be back, in the meantime you can find them on facebook at:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fitwatch/103821345868

The Fitwatch website was suspended on behalf of acting detective inspector Will Hodgeson.  More details as soon as we have them.

“The IMF is not an image on your TV screen”: a brief report from tonight’s demonstration in Athens

From The Greek Streets posted:

(Dedicated to our comrade who was unable to join us today, still recovering in hospital. See you in the streets!)

Riot police march in front of a wall-painted slogan reading "The troika [meaning the IMF, EU and ECB] is not an image on your TV screens; our response is given in the streets". Athens, 17/11/2010.

It will take us a little while to comprehend today's events in Athens – and surely, this is not the best moment to do so – writing these lines after a full twelve hours in the streets. But still, some first thoughts are of order. What happened today was important. First, today's demonstration had a very peculiar feel to it. The largest Polytechnic uprising commemorative demonstration in more than a decade (30,000 according to the police, around double in real numbers). A very tense feeling in the air. Even before the demo set off, clashes with the youth branch of PASOK – the social-democrat party in power – who had the nerve to try join the demonstration. The police on the sides of the march, with their hands on the trigger of the tear-gas guns the entire time. People waiting for something to happen on both ends: our end, and on that of the police.

And something did happen. The most intense and populous demonstration Athens has seen since May 5th. The police charging ahead whenever they could, whenever they would isolate people off the main block of the demonstration. People fighting back, during the demo and then, late in the night, in Exarcheia. But that peculiar feeling hasn't faded: we are still waiting something will happen… Tonight was the last day of a long summer. Tomorrow is the first day of a strange winter – hopefully, a beautiful winter.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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