Conference to combat BDS

Conference to combat BDSI was reading a story in Ynet, the online site of the Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot, when a few paragraphs into the story I noticed an ad promoting the “Yediot Aharonot & Ynet Conference to Combat the Boycott.” The Israeli daily says that it decided to put all of its resources to fight the BDS campaign, a fight which it describes as “not easy and requires combining all the available resources.” Reporting on the upcoming conference Ynet writes: “The main culprit behind the boycott of Israel is the BDS movement which is conducting a worldwide campaign.” Ynet characterizes BDS methods as being “without knives or missiles but with an explosive payload consisting of outrageous lies.” The conference will take place in Jerusalem on March 28. Furthermore they add, “any conclusions reached at the conference will be made available in order to assist government agencies and other national institutions that deal with the boycott.”


Israel, in contrast to the BDS movement, conducts its campaigns by shooting missiles into heavily populated areas and by planting knives on bodies of young Palestinians killed by the IDF.

In the opening page of the site promoting this conference it says the following:

Miko Peled

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Climate Change Impacts Human Rights, Says UN Special Rapporteur

4 March 2016: A global temperature increase of one or two degrees Celsius would adversely affect human rights, including the rights to life, development, food, water, health and housing, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, told the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Knox stressed that human rights obligations with respect to climate change include decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures through which protection is achieved.

In its resolution 29/15, the HRC requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a detailed 'Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).' The High Commissioner has asked for additional time and research, and will submit its report to the HRC at its 32nd session.


The Special Rapporteur shared an informal summary of inputs received on the 'Relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/CRP.4),' which is expected to inform OHCHR's final report. The informal summary notes, inter alia, that climate change: threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health; impacts physical and mental health in several ways; and disproportionately impacts the poor and other disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable groups.


According to the informal summary, respondents called for further integration of human rights in climate action at all levels of governance, as well as further analysis and study of the impacts of climate change on the right to health, among other recommendations.


During discussion, several delegations expressed support for protecting human rights in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation, including the European Union (EU) and Costa Rica. South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, supported enhanced, quick action to adapt to climate change to ensure the full realization of human rights, stressing that climate change threatens sustainable development. The Philippines called for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and scaling up additional and predictable means of implementation. Brazil recognized the impacts of climate change on human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The EU asked how to better plan and manage urban areas to address synergies among climate change, sustainable development and urbanization.


The world does not need to wait until 2018 to start strengthening its efforts to address climate change and begin implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Special Rapporteur reminded participants in his response, pointing to the use of renewable energy by Iceland, Morocco and Uruguay.


Knox presented on two aspects of his mandate, clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 March 2016. [UNOG Press Release] [OHCHR Press Release] [A/HRC/31/36] [Special Rapporteur Website]



read more: http://larc.iisd.org/news/climate-change-impacts-human-rights-says-un-special-rapporteur/


 

Lies about UN body imperil not just Assange

6 FEBRUARY 201 – Something extremely dangerous is happening before our eyes as we watch British officials and the corporate media respond to today’s ruling of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that Julian Assange is being arbitrarily detained in the UK.

A major international institution upholding the rights of political dissidents around the world as they face illegal detention, abuse and torture is being turned into a laughing stock with the enthusiastic connivance of supposedly liberal media outlets like the Guardian and the BBC.

Reporters, columnists and comedians are pouring scorn on the UN group, legal experts who until yesterday were widely respected in the west and seen as a final bulwark against the most oppressive regimes on earth.

In desperate moments, confined and isolated, dissidents like Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia could take solace from the knowledge that a respected UN group stood shoulder to shoulder with them. In some cases, faced the weight of its opinion, regimes preferred to release such dissidents.

Now the UN Working Group’s status and the significance of its decisions are being irreparably undermined. In their desperation to keep Assange reviled, British officials and their collaborators in the media are destroying the last vestiges of protection for political dissidents around the world.

The most glaring example of this process, as pointed out by the former UK diplomat Craig Murray, is an outright lie being peddled by the British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond. He says the UN panel is “made up of lay people and not lawyers”.

In reality, the panel consists of distinguished legal experts in the field of international law. You can see their CVs here.

Unlike Hammond, who is doubtless looking over his shoulder to the other side of the Atlantic, these are truly independent figures – that is, they are not beholden to the governments of the countries they are from. And if Mats Andenas, the Norwegian chair of the Working Group for much of its investigation, is to be believed, they are brave too. He says the panel has come under intense pressure from the US and UK to arrive at a decision contrary to the one they actually reached.

We know why the US wanted the panel’s decision to go against Assange – after all, he is in the Ecuadorean embassy precisely because he fears extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury is awaiting him.

But one has to wonder why the UK was so keen to overturn the Working Group’s ruling. Doesn’t the UK claim it is simply a “bobby on the beat”, trying to uphold the letter of the law as it spends millions on policing Assange’s detention? If the UN group says Assange should go free, that’s a nice little saving for the British taxpayer, isn’t it?

Hammond’s lie has not been challenged in the British media, even though a quick Google search would prove it is a falsehood. And now Murray informs us, the Foreign Office’s official spokesman has said the government department stands by the lie. In short, Hammond’s lie is no longer simply one politician’s foolish spin, but the official view of the diplomatic service.

The readiness of all sections of the British media to spread this lie and even expand on it is illustrated by a truly despicable piece of journalism from the Guardian’s columnist Marina Hyde. She is not some freelance blogger; she’s one of the most senior staff writers at the newspaper. Her voice can be considered to reflect the prevailing view of the paper’s editors.

Hyde not only echoes Hammond but uses her well-known cutting wit to deride the UN panel. Apparently, these leading experts on international law are really know-nothings:

I don’t want to go out on too much of a limb here, but my sense is that the finest legal minds are not drawn to UN panels as a career path. … Perhaps UN panellists are like UN goodwill ambassadors, and even Geri Halliwell could be one. …

As for their almost-amusing diagnosis of “house arrest”, the only possible rejoinder, if you’ll forgive the legalese, is: Do. Me. A. Favour. Assange’s bail conditions – I’m sorry if the term is confusing to the panel – saw him placed with an electronic tag in a stately home from which he was free to come and go all day long.

And so on.

Similar ridicule has already been heaped on the UN decision by a popular BBC comedy show, slowly settling in the British public’s mind that Assange is a rapist refusing to face the music (even though he has not yet been charged); that the UN’s legal experts are buffoons who cannot hold a candle to our own resolutely independent judges; and that Britain is a disinterested party simply honouring the letter of the law. More

 

 

Right to Water

Without water, life is impossible. Such a basic fact should imply that all human beings have, if they have any rights at all, a fundamental right to water.

And yet, it was not until 2010 that the international community fully and explicitly recognized the right to water.

That year, the UN General Assembly declared that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights,” and called upon states and international organizations to work together to “provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.” Such belated attention highlights the growing awareness of a “global water crisis” that threatens the lives and dignity of billions of people around the world. Although the natural sufficiency of water is a real problem for some parts of the world, the scarcity that drives this crisis is, as the 2006 UN Human Development Report notes, “rooted in power, poverty and inequality, not in physical availability.” As such, addressing the crisis will require the mobilization not only of economic resources and scientific expertise, but of public participation and political courage at all levels of society.

http://unescochair.uconn.edu/2015/10/12/right-to-water-conference/

 

Roy Sesana’s Speech Is One of The Most Powerful I have Ever Read: This Is What Leadership Looks Like

By Roy Sesana / survivalinternational.org

Roy Sesana gave this speech when he accepted the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm in 2005. We read this years ago and wanted to share it with you, because it's one of those rare speeches that we have wanted to read again and again over the years. It is profound and important beyond words.

Roy Sesana

Above all, it is so inspiring to us. This is what true leadership looks like. In its entirety it is wisdom that transcends time and culture, and perhaps that's why we think everyone will find something beautiful in this. – Films For Action

“My name is Roy Sesana; I am a Gana Bushman from the Kalahari in what is now called Botswana. In my language, my name is 'Tobee' and our land is 'T//amm'. We have been there longer than any people has been anywhere.

When I was young, I went to work in a mine. I put off my skins and wore clothes. But I went home after a while. Does that make me less Bushman? I don't think so.I am a leader. When I was a boy we did not need leaders and we lived well. Now we need them because our land is being stolen and we must struggle to survive. It doesn't mean I tell people what to do, it's the other way around: they tell me what I have to do to help them.

I cannot read. You wanted me to write this speech, so my friends helped, but I cannot read words – I'm sorry! But I do know how to read the land and the animals. All our children could. If they didn't, they would have all died long ago. I know many who can read words and many, like me, who can only read the land. Both are important. We are not backward or less intelligent: we live in exactly the same up-to-date year as you. I was going to say we all live under the same stars, but no, they're different, and there are many more in the Kalahari. The sun and moon are the same.

I grew up a hunter. All our boys and men were hunters. Hunting is going and talking to the animals. You don't steal. You go and ask. You set a trap or go with bow or spear. It can take days. You track the antelope. He knows you are there, he knows he has to give you his strength. But he runs and you have to run. As you run, you become like him. It can last hours and exhaust you both. You talk to him and look into his eyes. And then he knows he must give you his strength so your children can live. When I first hunted, I was not allowed to eat. Pieces of the steenbok were burnt with some roots and spread on my body. This is how I learned. It's not the same way you learn, but it works well.

The farmer says he is more advanced than the backward hunter, but I don't believe him. His herds give no more food than ours. The antelope are not our slaves, they do not wear bells on their necks and they can run faster than the lazy cow or the herder. We run through life together. When I wear the antelope horns, it helps me talk to my ancestors and they help me. The ancestors are so important: we would not be alive without them. Everyone knows this in their heart, but some have forgotten. Would any of us be here without our ancestors? I don't think so.

I was trained as a healer. You have to read the plants and the sand. You have to dig the roots and become fit. You put some of the root back for tomorrow, so one day your grandchildren can find it and eat. You learn what the land tells you. When the old die, we bury them and they become ancestors. When there is sickness, we dance and we talk to them; they speak through my blood. I touch the sick person and can find the illness and heal it.

We are the ancestors of our grandchildren's children. We look after them, just as our ancestors look after us. We aren't here for ourselves. We are here for each other and for the children of our grandchildren.

Why am I here? Because my people love their land, and without it we are dying. Many years ago, the president of Botswana said we could live on our ancestral land forever. We never needed anyone to tell us that. Of course we can live where God created us! But the next president said we must move and began forcing us away.

They said we had to go because of diamonds. Then they said we were killing too many animals: but that's not true. They say many things which aren't true. They said we had to move so the government could develop us. The president says unless we change we will perish like the dodo. I didn't know what a dodo was. But I found out: it was a bird which was wiped out by settlers. The president was right. They are killing us by forcing us off our land. We have been tortured and shot at. They arrested me and beat me.

Thank you for the Right Livelihood Award. It is global recognition of our struggle and will raise our voice throughout the world. When I heard I had won I had just been let out of prison. They say I am a criminal, as I stand here today.

I say what kind of development is it when the people live shorter lives than before? They catch HIV/AIDS. Our children are beaten in school and won't go there. Some become prostitutes. They are not allowed to hunt. They fight because they are bored and get drunk. They are starting to commit suicide. We never saw that before. It hurts to say this. Is this 'development'?

We are not primitive. We live differently to you, but we do not live exactly like our grandparents did, nor do you. Were your ancestors 'primitive'? I don't think so. We respect our ancestors. We love our children. This is the same for all people.

We now have to stop the government stealing our land: without it we will die.

If anyone has read a lot of books and thinks I am primitive because I have not read even one, then he should throw away those books and get one which says we are all brothers and sisters under God and we too have a right to live.

That is all. Thank you.”

Roy Sesana – First People of the Kalahari, Botswana

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/roy-sesana-right-livelihood-speech/

 

To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone

Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were “militants” — even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed.

They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.

This practice continues even though key Obama officials have been caught lying, a term used advisedly, about how many civilians they’re killing. I’ve written and said many times before that in American media discourse, the definition of “militant” is any human being whose life is extinguished when an American missile or bomb detonates (that term was even used when Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen two weeks after a drone killed his father, even though nobody claims the teenager was anything but completely innocent: “Another U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Yemen”).

This morning, the New York Times has a very lengthy and detailed article about President Obama’s counter-Terrorism policies based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” I’m writing separately about the numerous revelations contained in that article, but want specifically to highlight this one vital passage about how the Obama administration determines who is a “militant.” The article explains that Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes. Just read this remarkable passage;

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

For the moment, leave the ethical issues to the side that arise from viewing “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”; that’s nothing less than sociopathic, a term I use advisedly, but I discuss that in the separate, longer piece I’ve written. For now, consider what this means for American media outlets. Any of them which use the term “militants” to describe those killed by U.S. strikes are knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda. By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior and propagandize the citizenry (unless conclusive evidence somehow later emerges proving their innocence).

What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here’s the New York Times documenting that this is what the term “militant” means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda — not that that’s anything new, but this makes this clearer than it’s ever been. More

 

 

Innocent student, 21, and applicant to join the Border Patrol is Tasered

A 21-year-old college student began screaming in pain as she was tasered during what she claims was an illegal search by Border Patrol officers.

Jessica Cooke, a criminal justice student at SUNY Canton near New York's border with Canada, was pulled over by agents and detained while they brought a canine unit to search her car.

She captured the incident on her cell phone and said a male officer 'pushed me back into the side of my car and I pushed back, it was a shoving match before he threw me to the ground and had the female agent tase me in the lower back'.


Cooke, who has her graduation on Saturday and is in the 'pre-employment phase' for joining the Border Patrol, had said she wanted to leave with her car after not giving permission for a search.

The unidentified officers in the video say they are detaining her because she appeared nervous when she and the puppy in her car were stopped around 3.30pm Friday.

Nothing illegal was found in the vehicle when the drug-sniffing dogs came after what Cooke estimates as 45 minutes to an hour, she told WWNYTV.

The US Supreme Court ruled last month that police officers cannot extend traffic stops while they wait for drug-sniffing dogs to arrive.

Cooke, who was driving to her hometown of Ogdensburg, became angry during the wait, though the male officer said that he would spike her tires if she tried to take the car.

He said that the young woman could leave, but that the vehicle was 'not going anywhere'.

'All right, I’m going to tell you one more time and then I am going to move you over there, you got it?' the agent says while telling Cooke to move her closer to her car.

'Sir, sir sir,' the young woman, who had said she did not want to be touched, is heard saying as the camera begins moving erratically. More