2011-03-26 #Jordan wants to choose the next new prime minister

The government of Jordan has announced it will “protect freedom of expression as long as it is carried out with responsibility and respect of the law.” as opposition parties, reformists and the March 24 Youth Movement (formerly the Jordanian Youth Movement) called for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of the Lower House and the leadership of the security forces after yesterday’s protests (below).

“Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by the Constitution for all citizens and the government and security agencies have been acting accordingly for the past 12 months,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Saad Hayel Srour said yesterday at a press conference. Srour reiterated that the violent clashes that erupted between a pro-government group and protesters was a “black mark” in the country’s freedom record. However, he stressed, “it will not stop the government from carrying on with its reform efforts and protecting public freedoms”.

The minister announced an investigation has been launched and 21 people arrested following yesterday’s violence which saw more than 150 – 160 people injured and one killed in protests. The minister today called for issues to be solved at the negotiating table, not in the streets and government officials at the press conference put the blame for the violence on the protesters. They announced the police had no intention of removing the protester tents set up.

The Muslim Brotherhood, and the March 24 Youth Movement held their own press conferences condemning the police action and holding the government fully responsible for the escalation. Professional associations in the same press conferences announced their withdrawal from the National Dialogue Committee and joined the March 24 movement. The March 24 Movement is refusing dialogue with the government unless the dialogue is formed under a Royal Decree and the agenda includes constitutional amendments to have an elected prime minister and more parliamentary powers. They are also demanding that the Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit and his government resign and the Gendarmerie Forces be dismantled, along with the restructuring of all security services. They are looking for the formation of a national unity and reformist government that would win the people’s trust and protect their lives,” said Hamzah Mansur, chief of the powerful Islamic Action Front (IAF). “Any government that kills citizens loses legitimacy,” he told a news conference.

Bakhit responded on television “We have invited the Muslim Brotherhood for talks, away from protests and demonstrations, but apparently they have an agenda to create chaos in the country. … We respect the opposition. We tried our best to contact the Islamist leaders on Thursday to avert sedition, but they preferred escalation.”

The son of the protester who died has vowed to not bury his father “We refuse to take his body from the morgue and we will not bury him unless we receive an official apology and the interior minister resigns,” Khairy Saad Jamil’s son, Nasser, 34, told AFP.

“We will not move from this hospital until his majesty the king comes here and sees who is to blame,” Jamil’s brother, Said Jamil, told CNN. “We want justice for our brother so his blood is not wasted in vain.” The autopsy said that Jamil died of a heart attack, and had no marks of beating, his family insists the heart attack was brought on by assault and are demanding an amended autopsy report.

Bakhit received his appointment on February 1. From WL Central’s coverage on February 1:King Abdullah II sacked his cabinet Tuesday after being confronted with the on going protests by thousands of Jordanians over high unemployment and high food prices. Jordan’s Royal Palace announced that the Monarchy had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who many blame for rising fuel and food prices and poor economic performance. The King has asked ex-army general Marouf Bakhit to form a new government. Bakhit has been prime minister before and also has been an ambassador to Israel so while this change may be prompted by the demands of the people in the streets, it is not seen as any real change in the status quo.

CNN reports that their team in Amman on Friday witnessed some security forces beating up anti-government protesters and security was reported to have used water cannons on the protesters. There were also reports of police surrounding hospitals and arresting patients or those trying to enter.

Al Jazeera reported two people “killed after being beaten to death by riot police and pro-government loyalists”. AFP reported around 200 government supporters hurled large stones at more than 2,000 young demonstrators.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered in Al-Hussein Gardens west of Amman to express loyalty and allegiance to the king, dancing to national songs and waving large national flags and pictures of the monarch.

“Enough is enough,” al-Qaisi, an unemployed sociologist, said. “We don’t want the king to go, but we want him to listen to us; We’re fed up with al-Bakhit, with parliament and with Jordan being a police state ruled by the intelligence department.”

2011-03-21 Greek SKAI media group has access to all of the US state cables

Yesterday, the Greek newspaper “Kathimerini” started publishing US state cables relating to Greece with a six page review of the cables focused on Greek political figures and current items of interest. Tonight Greek TV station SKAI TV and web site skai.gr will also begin reporting on the cables.

“The New Files” newsprogram along with SKAI TV, skai.gr and the daily “Kathihimerini” has gained access to all 250.000 US embassy cables leaked to Wikileaks exclusively for Greece. The access has been granted by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. More on “The New Files” broadcast Monday March 21 at 23.00.

SKAI TV, skai.gr and the newspaper Kathimerini are all part of the SKAI Group, one of the largest media groups in Greece.

Greece had a mini-Wikileaks scandal on January 13, 2011 when Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis was quoted in a cable telling former US ambassador in Athens regarding Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP): “EYP is nothing. It does not serve its mission of protecting Greece and in fact is dangerous to national security because of its many shortcomings, not least of which is a unionized labor force.” He is also reported as saying that Greek police know the identity of virtually all members of domestic terrorist groups but do not have the evidence to prosecute them.

In comments to Skai Television, Chrysochoidis, previously in charge of the public order portfolio, spoke of “hypocrisy” and “conspiracy theories,” noting that the comments attributed to him had been made several times on the record in the past and did not constitute news. “All this has been expressed publicly and I am surprised that it is being presented as a revelation,” he told Skai. The minister added: “I have described publicly thousands of times the unsatisfactory situation that existed then. EYP was not fulfilling its role for the protection of the country.”

2011-03-20 Daniel Ellsberg arrested twice in two days at Bradley #Manning rally at Quantico #March20

Updates:

http://twitter.com/#!/janehamsher/status/49658589677236224

 

The World Can’t Wait says “Report from Quantico: Police planted provocateurs in the crowd – when that didn’t work and people called them out, police shoved protesters using riot shields, then started snatching protesters from between shields one-by-one to arrest them. Much love to the resisters and truth-tellers out in the streets today! Free Bradley Manning!”Reports that “about 30 people”, including Daniel Ellsberg, were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and careless interference with traffic. David House tweets:

  • “The rally at Quantico today was amazing — a strange electricity in the air. Hundreds arrived to demand better conditions for Bradley. … I believe Daniel Ellsberg was arrested today at Quantico; still trying to confirm … After the speeches, the crowd of several hundred flooded into the streets outside Quantico and were met with a line of riot police … Military figures with gas-masks and teargas canisters on their chests joined the police as arrests were made outside the main gates … Very excited about the turnout at Quantico; never expected so many young people out there in the streets. No doubt: Something’s brewing.”
http://twitter.com/#!/janehamsher/status/49622572689666048

 

More video via @glassbeadcol. Jane Hamsher tweets:

  • “80 year-old @DanielEllsberg sitting down at Quantico, refusing to move”
  • “Giant “state police” shields, armed vehicles, masked military carrying automatic weapons: Obama’s police state … Mass arrests happening at Quantico. … Protestors at Quantico facing off against huge line of police shields, per David House @popularch”
  • “DanielElsberg at head of very long silent procession to Iwo Jima. Very moving … Marines only allowing press & 6 veterans on to Iwo Jima memorial. Herding everyone else into the middle of Route 1 “for their own good”… Tapps being played in midst of enormous crowd before Quantico cherrypicks a photo op for press and brownshirts everone else. … Police siding with Marines, denying access to public to Iwo Jima. Welcome to military rule. … Right to assembly? Only if Prince William County Police & the Marines say you do. #WhatConstitution? … Let’s be clear about what is happening: Veterans being denied access 2 Iwo Jima memorial to lay flowers. Police force them lay at fence. … Hard to gauge size of Bradley Manning demonstrators at Quantico, but from video looks to be several thousand:”

The Bradley Manning rallies today inspired a police crackdown which began yesterday with the arrest of Daniel Ellsberg and others. Today David House tweets:

  • “MP5s, horses, bulletproof vests, riot shields — the State comes out to make a point.”
  • “Massive police presence in full riot gear at Quantico protest”

“3 county motorcycle officers keep watch of #Manning rally from a hilltop north of the event. http://yfrog.com/h3p69gbj ” via @dernemax BBC reports on Welsh protesters who have traveled to London to attend protests. The 23-year-old’s mother is Welsh and still lives in Pembrokeshire, where he grew up from 13 and 17. He went to Tasker Milward school in Haverfordwest, where the now retired deputy head teacher, John Broughton remembers him as “a very pleasant lad”. Protester Vicky Moller, from Newport, Pembrokeshire, told the BBC: “His mother was allowed to visit him last month. His mother has had several strokes. She was really damaged by what happened to him and so she now speaks through her sister. Her sister went with her to the prison. Her sister was not allowed in so she couldn’t speak to her son and she’s been very, very upset ever since.” Last week Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd tabled a Commons’ motion on the issue. “I think it is a serious case,” she told BBC Wales. “He’s being held in solitary confinement, he’s kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, not allowed to exercise, he’s stripped of all his clothes during the night, he is not permitted to sleep during the day. Jane Hamsher tweets:

  • “David House @popularch to crowd: “You all give Bradley strength. It’s stuff like this that make his eyes light up.”
  • “@DanielEllsberg: “Manning’s treatment shows that Obama is lying when he claims to have ended torture … I was facing 115 yrs in prison as Manning is, was also called a traitor. Manning no more a traitor than I was. … I want Bradley Manning’s courage to be contagious.”

FireDogLake has set up a livestream of the event.
Live TV by Ustream

 

 
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AshleyRobyn i seriously find myself checking my horoscope more often now…things your sisters get you into -__- #pisces #march20 #weareamazing4 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite

 

2011-03-19 The Guardian: Redacting, censoring or lying?

Ed. Original post on WL Central referred to this cable which was modified to this.

WL Central published an article two days ago, outlining the extraordinarily heavy handed redaction by the Guardian of a Bulgarian cable. Wikileaks tweeted the article, saying it was“Another very serious example of the Guardian “cable cooking” in violation of WikiLeaks agreements”. Guardian investigations editor David Leigh responded with “@wikileaks Another stupid lie from #Assange alleging ‘cable censorship’ by #Guardian, (stuck with UK libel laws as he knows). What a liar!”

Wikileaks did not however, accuse the Guardian of cable censorship, they accused them of “cable cooking”. A closer inspection of what happened in this one instance of cable redaction by the Guardian indicates that the Wikileaks description was closer to the mark. In fact, an examination of this document brings a feeling that the world will be in for Cablegate 2.0 when we finally get to see these cables without Guardian redaction.

The redaction on this particular cable is best shown here. The parts redacted by the Guardian are in green.

Before we examine further what was done to this document, it would be good to remember the alternative solutions available were the Guardian truly afraid that the libel laws which did not guard against reports on Gaddafi’s botox, hair implants and Ukrainian nurse would suddenly kick in to protect Bulgarian mafia. The first and obvious choice would be to not publish this cable. There were, after all, 251,287 cables to choose from, and after redaction all this cable informed us was that there was crime in Bulgaria, reinforcing the oft repeated claim that the cables tell us nothing new (except gossip about Gaddafi’s botox). The other, even better solution, would be to publish this cable while informing the readers that they were only viewing 1406 of the original 5226 words and showing by the typical ” … ” or other, where the redactions were made. One would think that would be the only course open to an ethical news source.

Instead, point seven, an extensive 3,986 word analysis of organized crime in Bulgaria containing paragraphs A through M and entitled “Who’s Who In Bulgarian Organized Crime?”, is brought down to three short paragraphs (357 words) in the Guardian, with no indication that the redaction has taken place. Taken with the preceding and following sections and the title, the implication is that those three paragraphs contain the complete analysis of organized crime in Bulgaria. Since this redacted cable is included as the official source document from the US State embassy in Sofia, the implication is also that this is what the US embassy felt Bulgarian crime amounted to.

To “cook” this document, the Guardian did not present three sequential paragraphs, or even three self contained paragraphs. Instead, they went through the thousands of words available, and spliced a few sentences together to make up their own paragraphs, further altering the meaning of the document. Now a sentence that reads as though it refers to someone in the previous sentence, actually had referred to someone completely different. Now the extensive and complicated world of Bulgarian organized crime appears to be the work of one Russian. This leaves “censorship” and “redaction” in the dust and proceeds directly to the “lying” the Guardian editor was accusing Wikileaks of.

Apparently, the Guardian believes that Bulgarians, but not Russians, are covered by UK libel laws; looking at the incredible volume of redaction and the few sentences used, the selection criteria seems to be for any sentence containing the words “Russia” / “Soviet Union” (nine references) or “sex” / “prostitution” / similar (six references). Of the three sentences which make up the second paragraph, two are almost the exact same, but it allows prostitution to be mentioned twice along with “trafficking in women for sexual exploitation”, and “escort and intimate services businesses”. Paragraphs one and three are centred around the words “Russia” and “Soviet Union”.

There are many questions brought to mind by this, the first of which is of course, why would anyone read the Guardian? But the second would be, why is the Guardian apparently protecting the Bulgarian mafia and preventing people from accessing the truth? Why is the Guardian deliberately misleading its readers, if not outright lying? And last, if we are to believe the Guardian editor’s claims regarding UK libel laws, in all the talks we have heard about redaction of Wikileaks documents to protect innocent civilians, why was it not also mentioned that documents were being redacted to protect the Guardian from the lawsuits that Wikileaks has been facing down since its inception?

 Comments from original publication: 
 

The Guardian: Redacting, censoring or lying?

Submitted by david leigh on Sat, 03/19/2011 – 10:42.

The Guardian doesn’t have any earthly reason to protect the Bulgarian mafia from exposure. The process our writers went through in publishing information from the cables, was to write articles drawing attention to e.g. the Russian criminal mafia. We did this to such an extent that our Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding, was thrown out with his family. We also published the text of supporting cables where we were able to: these were vetted by our libel lawyers, and where there were allegations against individuals that couldn’t be proved, these had to be redacted. The Guardian can be sued for what it publishes in the UK. WIkileaks on the other hand, can publish what it likes. We’re not stopping them. It’s a fair point that we could, and perhaps should, have explained all this. But no-one at the Guardian imagined we were going to be accused of conspiring with Bulgarian organised crime!

 

Protecting, not conspiring

Submitted by Heather Marsh on Sat, 03/19/2011 – 18:18.

David, you are tampering with the text again. No one accused you of “conspiring with Bulgarian organised crime” you were accused of “apparently protecting the Bulgarian mafia”, and, willfully or no, that has been the result of the Guardian’s actions in this case. Anyone reading your version of the cable is left with the absolute impression that this, in the eyes of the world’s most sophisticated intelligence gathering country, is the extent of Bulgarian organised crime.

I would also really like to know why your lawyers felt that the Bulgarians were a libel risk but not the Russians? And Atanas’ excellent question also deserves an answer. And your readers deserve to know, at the very least, what you have redacted, why you have redacted it and where you have redacted it.

As to Wikileaks being able to publish what it likes, so can the Guardian if they, like Wikileaks, are willing to suffer the consequences. True journalism has never been for the faint of heart.

 

Professional advantage vs Public interest

Submitted by Bivol on Sat, 03/19/2011 – 16:31.

Dear David,

As I wrote in my article (cited here http://wlcentral.org/node/1480): “We can only guess the reason of the Guardian journalists to conceal individuals and businesses the Embassy believes are part of organized crime.”

Thank you for clearing this point. We also consult our libel lawyer and we know what we are risking under bulgarian law.

In the extended version of my article I wrote the following:

“It will be real pity if it turns out journalists from reputed international media use information, provided by Wikileaks as merchandise, whose value depends on the selection of the precise moment to offer it on the market.”

So nobody is accusing you of conspiring with Bulgarian organized crime. Instead, there are reasons to believe that Guardian and the other mainstream media, having access to the WL cache, can use exclusively the information hidden from the public, following their own agenda.

Take the example with Petr Smolar, a journalist from Le Monde, who wrote on the same topics, but NEVER published the corresponding Wikileaks cable from Sofia, dated September 11, 2009

Two monts later as a special envoy of the Le Monde, Petr Smolar emerged in Sofia and wrote an extensive article about the conflict between the “public ennemy N°1” Alexei Petrov (his name is in the redacted Sofia cable) and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, with details about a big wiretap scandal.

Clearly, in such a case, a journalist from Figaro or Liberation, or whatever, will have less information then the journalist from Le Monde, isn’t it?

So does the professional advantage is more important then the need of transparency and the public interest to expose the criminal activities?

Thank you for discussing this and excuse my English.

 
 

2011-03-19 Daniel Ellsberg arrested at Bradley Manning rally #March20

WL Central will be covering the Bradley Manning protests in Quantico this weekend. Currently, protesters were warned to leave the site, 118 stayed past the final warning, arrests have begun. FireDogLake reports that the director of operations at Quantico Marine Base issued a “threat advisory” regarding the protests this weekend.

Details of the protests and how to get to one here. For more information regarding Bradley Manning and supporting him, please go here.

http://twitter.com/#!/janehamsher/status/49190022141841408

 

http://twitter.com/#!/popularch/status/49191814061756416

2011-03-17 Bradley Manning Rallies this weekend

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As Human Rights Watch joins Amnesty in calling for the US to explain or desist from the abuse of Bradley Manning, support for Manning has increased around the world. MP Ann Clywd questioned UK Foreign Secretary William Hague regarding Manning’s treatment at the meeting of the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday (transcript available at UK Friends of Bradley Manning) and she again brought up his treatment today, this time by formally requesting during Business Questions in the Commons that a debate be held on the conditions of Manning’s detention. She explicitly compared Manning’s treatment to that “meted out” to prisoners at Guantanamo. In his reply, Sir George Young, leader of the House of Commons, did not disavow the comparison to practices at Guantanamo. He said that the concerns conveyed by Clwyd are “widely shared” and agreed that Manning’s case was a “suitable subject for debate” in the Commons.

Evidence of international concern is shown in the support for Bradley Manning Day below. For the current conditions of his detainment, and the new charges brought against him, please read Is Bradley Manning being treated like a Guantanamo detainee? For additional WL Central coverage, go here. To read an article by former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin on Manning’s detainment, go here. To send an appeal to Cecil B. Wilson, MD, president of the American Medical Association regarding the abuse of medical diagnoses and treatments for torture, written by our correspondent from Holland, go here. For the Amnesty call to action gohere.

If you wish to attend a rally and there is none near you, you can start your own by creating an event page somewhere with the date, time and location, and contact us andBradleyManning.org to promote it. Here are ideas to help.

2011-03-16 Rallies for a united #Palestine – Day Two #Gaza #Mar15

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WL Central will be updating news on Palestine, with new items added at the top. You can contact me on twitter @GeorgieBC or by email at admin@wlcentral.org.

Current time and date in Gaza: 

WEDNESDAY, March 16

Demands from protesters in Manara square:

  • Palestinian National Council elections guaranteeing representation of all Palestinians wherever they are.
  • Immediate release of all political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, supervised by the Independent Commission for Human Rights. An end to repression of protests.
  • A complete halt of incitement on media of all types and by both parties.

There have been many Twitter reports, both today and yesterday, of threatening texts from unknown numbers sent to all Gaza phone numbers and warning them to not attend protests or they would be killed.

Yesterday WL Central reported what seemed to be conflicting reports of assaults by Fateh officers and Fateh officers offering food to the protesters. The offers of food are beinginterpreted as an attack on the hunger strikers resolve and chants today include “No falafel! No cola!” President Abbas sent four jeeps full of food today, to divided reception.

Police are assisting in keeping the Fateh and March 15 groups from attacking each other in Bethlehem and broke up multiple fights today. According to Ma’an News reports, the Fateh group seems torn between disrupting or joining the protests.

From @PalYouthVoice:
“#March15Ramallah hunger strikers are up to 25 now, spirits are high and we’re determined to go all the way to the end”
“things are back to normal, Fateh members helped to contain the thugs that attacked us”

As protesters attempted to gather on March, 16 morning in Al Kateeba sq, dozens of thugs (with sticks and clubs) cracked down on the crowd chanting for unity and raising the Palestinian flag to disperse them.

At least 10 students were taken to the hospital today and around 20 were arrested after Hamas plain clothes police and security forces arrived at Al Azhar university and beat up students and blocked anyone from entering or leaving the grounds. Many of the students were planning on attending today’s unity rallies. A spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry denied that police had entered the university. “What happened at the university was a problem between students,” Ihab al-Ghussein told AFP.

Azhar University

Journey to Gaza is documenting the protests in Gaza with many great pictures and videos (one below) and blog posts. From yesterday: Back home, friends called me telling me police had intervened, fired warning shots in the air. Told them I was on my way back but they strongly urged me not to – all cameras were confiscated, journalists arrested and activists beaten up. My friend Adham said “Al Kateeba is on fire” … thuoght he was being metaphorical but then another one called to say Hamas had set the tents on fire…

ranabaker is another blog with great pictures and eyewitness accounts. The next day –which is today-, everything looked calm as if nothing had taken place the night before. I took a taxi to The Islamic University, my university, and on the way I asked the driver if anything was happening in The Al-Kateebah Square. He said: “they were forcibly quelled yesterday, nobody is there, the uprising has finished!”

But he was mistaken! At 11:00 in the morning, thousands were protesting at the campus of The Al-Azhar University. It was soon encircled by the regime’s forces and students and girls were again beaten with clubs.

When I heard about the escalation, I called my friends who study there, I could hardly understand what they were saying due to the noise around them. They only thing I could get was: “if you want to protest come to our university!”

When I arrived, there were crowds and crowds of young students being expelled from their own university and hit harshly by clubs. Others were receiving threats and an ambulance was evacuating causality. Actually a couple of ambulances were outside but people were talking about only one casualty.

Yesterday’s protests across the occupied territories

TUESDAY, March 15

In a day of rare unity, the Palestinian Authority attacked protesters in the West Bank’s Ramallah while Hamas attacked a larger protest in Gaza. The Palestinian populations of both territories also vowed to unite in their call to protest. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people demonstrated in Gaza according to Maan News, calling to end the division of Palestine and unite under the national flag.

The March 15 Youth Coalition in Gaza said violence in Gaza City broke out when some 200 Hamas supporters in the Square of the Unknown Soldier carried party flags and beat up protesters who had called for only the national flag. Security forces had set up hundreds of barriers around the square and they beat people with batons and set fire to their tents. Protesters then gathered in Al-Khatib Square. Women and children were very present in the protests, as shown in the videos and pictures below.

The few thousand protesters in Ramallah had by evening staged a sit in, singing and lighting hundreds of candles in defiance of the security forces. Maan News is now reporting that tear gas was fired at them and two were shot with tasers, along with other reports of security forces handing out food to Ramallah supporters. Reportedly 20 protesters of the roughly 1000 left in Ramallah are on a hunger strike.

Hamas and Fateh had both previously pledged to protect the unity rallies. Gaza’s Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh responded to the protests by inviting his rival, Fateh president Mahmoud Abbas, to talk. “I invite the president, brother Abu Mazen (Abbas), and Fatah to an immediate meeting here in Gaza … to start national dialogue in order to achieve reconciliation,” Haniya said in a live broadcast after an emergency meeting of his government.

And Abbas proposed holding elections “as soon as possible” in order to end the division. “I am with the people and in favour of going back to the people to put an end to the divisions through presidential and parliamentary elections,” he said after talks in Ramallah with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias.

Pictures from Gaza today.

Previous coverage of Palestine on WL Central.