Bahrain human rights activist’s years in jail for tweets


This video says about itself:

8 May 2012

In the fourth episode of The World Tomorrow Julian Assange speaks with two leading Arab revolutionaries in the middle of conflict, Alaa Abd El-Fattah from Egypt and Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain. Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a long time Egyptian blogger, programmer and political activist. His parents were human rights campaigners under Anwar Sadat; his sister Mona Seif became a Twitter star during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and is a founder of the No Military Trials for Civilians group formed under the post-Mubarak military junta.

El-Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days in 2006 for protesting under the Mubarak regime, and released after “Free Alaa” solidarity protests in Egypt and around the world. In 2011, from abroad, El-Fattah helped route around Mubarak’s internet blockade.

Nabeel Rajab is a lifelong Bahraini activist and critic of the Al Khalifa regime. A member of a staunch pro-regime family, Rajab has agitated for reform in Bahrain since his return from university in 1988. Along with the Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, he helped establish the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002. Rajab is reasonably new to the limelight — becoming a face for the Bahrain uprising of February 14 2011, after the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout.

Since then, he has been a public face for the revolution, waging a social media war on Twitter with PR companies working for the regime. After al-Khawaja was imprisoned, he led protests for his release. He has endured beatings, arrests and legal harrassment for engaging in pro-democracy demonstrations. On Saturday 5th of May, he was arrested at Manama airport , and charged the next day with encouraging and engaging in “illegal protests.” Nabeel Rajab remains in detention at the time of broadcast.

From the Irish Times:

Bahrain human rights activist spent two years in jail for tweets

Nabeel Rajab urges Ireland ‘to fight for democracy around the world’

Erin McGuire

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:00

A Bahraini human rights activist who spent two years in prison for using Twitter to call for peaceful protests has urged Irish people to “fight for democracy around the world”.

Speaking yesterday in Dublin, Nabeel Rajab said the human rights situation in Bahrain was deteriorating, with increasing numbers of people being jailed or forced into hiding.

Rajab was released from prison in May after serving two years of a three-year term. He was arrested several times for his involvement in pro-democracy protests during the 2011 Arab Spring. All of his arrests were related to tweets criticising the government or encouraging people to demonstrate.

During the Arab Spring, activists in Bahrain were required by law to ask for permission to protest. Protests in the capital Manama have since been banned.

Social media use

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and co-founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, is known for using social media in his human rights work.

He has 234,000 Twitter followers, more than anyone else in Bahrain, a country smaller than Co Dublin with a population of 1.3 million. “The government hates [my social media presence] because of the influence I have. When they put me in jail they thought the Twitter account would stop, but it continued – my Facebook and Twitter accounts kept working.”

The Bahraini government’s violent crackdown on protesters motivated him to transfer his contracting business to his family. “When I realised I would be targeted and could get killed, I transferred everything to my family, my wife . . . I’m a fighter for human rights. Fears about my personal life were not an issue. I was prepared for anything.”

Many of his friends were also arrested during the Arab Spr- ing. He estimates 50,000 people were in and out of Bahraini jails in the past three years.

While in prison, he was isolated from other political prisoners and kept in a cell with people who spoke different languages so he could not communicate with them.

Rajab is on a two-day visit to Dublin as a guest of Front Line Defenders, a non-governmental organisation that protects human rights defenders. He is briefing Government officials and rights organisations on the clampdown in Bahrain.

Rajab believes there are similarities between Bahrain and Ireland in their shared struggles for democracy, justice and equality. “You were ruled by the British; we are ruled by a family who invaded the country 200 years ago and treated the indigenous population badly. [The government] marginalised people, put them in jail.”

He says that because Ireland achieved democracy, the Irish people “have an obligation to fight for democracy around the world . . . and to play a more active role in human rights struggles in the Middle East”.

This is especially important to Rajab now, as he believes the situation in Bahrain has deteriorated. “There are more people in jail, in exile, in hiding. There are more human rights violations. The Shia people are being marginalised more . . . The government’s efforts to contain the media have been successful.”

Rajab will return to Bahrain even though he does not feel safe there. He plans to dedicate the rest of his life to human rights work, despite the fact it could land him back in jail.

“Prison made me much more determined. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else . . . I’m going to continue tweeting, raising human rights issues, empowering people and criticising dictators of repressive regimes. I don’t want to end up in jail, but I’m not afraid . . . The situation has to change and I’m willing to pay the price for those changes.”

US Rep Jim McGovern Issues Statement on Refusal of Bahraini Government to Grant Him Access to Bahrain: here.

After Michael Brown’s death, teenagers create police accountability app


The creators of the police accountability app

By David Ferguson in the USA:

After police killings, Georgia teens create cop accountability app

Saturday, August 16, 2014 12:36 EDT

Three teenagers from Decatur, Georgia have created an app designed to foster a culture of accountability and accessibility for citizens dealing with local law enforcement and to reduce instances of police brutality.

The Madame Noire blog reported on Five-O, an app for Android and iPhone that directs users to the nearest law enforcement facility in the event of an emergency and allows users to rate and review their experiences with officers of the law.

Sixteen-year-old Ima Christian and her brother Caleb, 14, and sister Asha, 15 created the app as a response to the deaths of young people of color at the hands of out-of-control police.

“We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents,” said Ima Christian to Business Insider. “They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It’s important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don’t we create an app to help us solve this problem.”

The siblings have a deep knowledge of coding. Five-O is the third app produced by their company Pinetart, Inc.

Five-O users can not only rate and document their experiences with individual police officers, but also share and compare their experiences with other users via county-specific message boards. The teens hope to not only document abuses of power, but to highlight positive interactions with law enforcement.

“We’d like to know which regions in the U.S. provide horrible law enforcement services as well as highlight the agencies that are highly rated by their citizens,” Ima Christian explained. “In addition to putting more power into the hands of citizens when interacting with law enforcement, we believe that highly rated police departments should be used as models for those that fail at providing quality law enforcement services.”

The app is available at the iTunes App store and will be available for Android on August 18.

Watch video about this story, embedded below via YouTube:

This video is called Five-O! Rate & Review your local law enforcement.

See also here.

Missouri’s days of unrest expose the stark reality of a segregated society. As the governor declares a state of emergency, the clashes that followed the death of Michael Brown highlight the divisions at the heart of America’s cities: here.

One man is in a critical condition in hospital after a shooting during protests in Ferguson over the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by police officer Darren Wilson: here.

NAACP president slams “character assassination” of Michael Brown: here.

Police, media smear victim of Missouri police shooting: here.

When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims: here.

How the mainstream media is trying to get us to forget about Mike Brown: here.

Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay has “no confidence” in local cops: here

David Brooks Hopes Someone At His Paper Is Investigating The Militarization Of Police Forces: here.

Edward Snowden interviewed about NSA spying


This video from the USA is called Snowden’s Wired interview, Super-techno RV, LED shower speaker – DT Daily (Aug 14).

By Thomas Gaist:

Snowden discusses US surveillance and cyber-warfare programs in interview with Wired

15 August 2014

Wired magazine published an extended interview this week with former US intelligence agent and famed whistleblower Edward Snowden. Conducted in a hotel room somewhere in Russia, the interview included fresh revelations related to mass surveillance, cyber-warfare and information-grabbing operations mounted by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The meat of the interview centered on a number of operations run by the surveillance and intelligence agencies, painting a picture of an American government engaged in ever-expanding cyber-machinations worldwide.

Snowden spoke about the NSA’s MonsterMind program, an “autonomous cyber-warfare platform” which has been developed to launch cyber-attacks automatically against rival governments, without any need for human intervention. He noted that MonsterMind could easily be manipulated to provoke spasms of cyber-warfare between the US and its main rivals.

“These attacks can be spoofed. You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital,” Snowden said.

Far from restricting itself to cyber-defense, Snowden said, the US is constantly engaged in offensive hacking operations against China.

“It’s no secret that we hack China very aggressively,” Snowden said. “But we’ve crossed lines. We’re hacking universities and hospitals and wholly civilian infrastructure rather than actual government targets and military targets.”

Snowden offered new information about the role of the NSA in facilitating US imperialism’s geopolitical agenda in the Middle East. In 2012, Snowden said, the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit accidentally disabled large portions of Syria’s Internet during an operation that sought to install information-capturing software on the routers of a main Syrian service provider.

Western media dutifully reported at the time that the Internet shutdown was ordered by the Assad regime, which was and remains a primary target for overthrow by US and European imperialism.

Describing “one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen,” Snowden said that the US routinely transfers bulk communications data acquired from Palestinian and Palestinian- and Arab-American sources to Israeli intelligence in support of Israeli military operations targeting the Occupied Territories.

Speaking about the lies told by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper during congressional testimony in the wake of the initial leaks, Snowden denounced the culture of deception and criminality that pervades the US government and ruling elite.

During the March 2013 hearing, DNI Clapper was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

In an absurd lie, repeated in one form or another by numerous top officials including President Barack Obama, Clapper answered, “No sir, not wittingly.”

Snowden correctly noted that Clapper’s brazen lying was merely standard operating procedure for top US officials. “He [DNI Clapper] saw deceiving the American people as what he does, as his job, as something completely ordinary. And he was right that he wouldn’t be punished for it, because he was revealed as having lied under oath and he didn’t even get a slap on the wrist for it. It says a lot about the system and a lot about our leaders,” Snowden said.

The interview provided an outline of Snowden’s career prior to 2013, which included significant high-level work on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA as an intelligence and technology specialist. During his years of employment by the government, Snowden attended a secret CIA school for tech experts and worked for the CIA’s global communications division as well as for the NSA office at the Yokota Air Base near Tokyo.

Snowden later held a position with Dell as its head technologist in relation to the CIA’s account with the company.

While working for the NSA contractor Booz Allen, Snowden worked to seize data from foreign service and inject malware into computer systems around the globe, he said. It was during this period that he became aware that the NSA was capturing and archiving huge amounts of US data, and doing so “without a warrant, without any requirement for criminal suspicion, probable cause, or individual designation.”

Snowden stressed the all-invasive character of the surveillance programs, stating categorically that the surveillance programs violate the Fourth Amendment.

“The argument [made by the US government] is that the only way we can identify these malicious traffic flows and respond to them is if we’re analyzing all traffic flows. And if we’re analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows. That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time,” Snowden said.

Responding to the interview, an official government statement reiterated the state’s longstanding demand for Snowden to return to the United States and face espionage charges in a US court.

“If Mr. Snowden wants to discuss his activities, that conversation should be held with the U.S. Department of Justice. He needs to return to the United States to face the charges against him,” the statement said.

During the interview, Snowden suggested that he might voluntarily accept a prison sentence as part of a deal with the US government allowing him to return home. While it is understandable that Snowden should seek every available means to avoid the fate of fellow whistleblower Pfc. Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison and abused for years prior to his trial, it is a dangerous delusion to believe that the US government can be negotiated with on this matter.

In compromising mass spying operations that are considered essential to the stability and security of the capitalist state, Snowden’s actions have provoked significant anxiety within ruling circles. As a result, the most powerful elements within the US establishment view Snowden as a hated and mortal enemy, and are determined to lock him up and throw away the key.

Media attention has focused in recent weeks on the actions of new surveillance whistleblower John Napier Tye, a former US State Department employee who has spoken out against National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance operations conducted under Executive Order 12333: here.

After Michael Brown’s death, anti-racist protest in Britain, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Was This Murdered Teen Throwing Gang Signs? #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

11 August 2014

“In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, African-Americans have taken to Twitter to wonder how the media would portray them if they should be the victim of a police shooting.

While initial photos showed Michael Brown in a cap and gown at his high school graduation, media organizations and conservative bloggers are increasingly turning to a photo (seen above) of Brown clad in a Nike Air jersey and throwing a ‘gang sign,’ as a way to sensationalize the shooting while inferring that the young man might be a ‘gangbanger.’

African-Americans remember the Trayvon Martin case when the image of a unarmed teen shot by George Zimmerman changed when bloggers posted photos of Martin throwing signs and sporting a grill, accusing him of being a gang member. For a brief period of time, a photo of another young African-American man made the rounds with conservatives asserting that it was Martin as a gang member.”

See also here.

Ferguson: A number of local workers have said that they have been arrested and then beaten up before they were released, as do a number of journalists: here.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Young black men launch Twitter protest against racism

Friday 15th August 2015

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown started after the shooting of Michael Brown

A LONDON accountant became one of hundreds of young black men this week to take to Twitter in protest at institutionalised racism.

Jamal Palmer told the Star yesterday that the protest was powerful because the police could turn photos of him and his friends against them.

The #IfTheyGunnedMeDown movement was sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown, of St Louis, Missouri, who was immediately portrayed by the media as a “thug”.

Images have been published of him outside his house, looking angry in a sports jersey.

In response, black youth started publishing pictures of themselves in two different scenarios — a social and a formal one — and asking which one would the media chose if they were to die the next day.

“I’m a trained accountant but because I like to have a joke and mess about with pals, I could be portrayed as a gangster,” said Mr Palmer.

“I know the UK is much further ahead in terms of racism and prejudice than the US but it still makes you wonder.”

Mr Palmer was just one of hundreds of youngsters who joined the online protest as the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag went viral on Twitter.

Among them are young men and women keen to show that the people making gun gestures for the camera are also first-class graduates, proud carers and accomplished professionals.

Mr Palmer said sharing the picture “was just a show of support and solidarity for young black people or mixed people everywhere.”

The protest comes as a review has been launched in Scotland to consider stripping cops of firearms.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie welcomed the move yesterday, saying: “The sight of armed police on our streets while carrying out routine duties has alarmed many Scots.”

And blaming the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling for “brushing off” the issue, Mr Harvie argued: “There is a strong case for ministers being held to account on this dramatic change in our policing culture.”

“If the firearms policy isn’t challenged it will represent a major failure of accountability.”

ALL QUIET ON THE MIDWESTERN FRONT? “There was a stark change Thursday from a day earlier in this St. Louis suburb, with police officers from the city of St. Louis mingling with people protesting the weekend shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. The scene was in sharp contrast to Wednesday, when officers in riot gear led by St. Louis County police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.” Release of the name of the officer who shot Brown is imminent, and nationwide calls to demilitarize police forces are growing. [HuffPost]

On Thursday, demonstrations and vigils were held across the United States mourning the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown—murdered by police on August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Those attending the demonstrations denounced the continuing attacks on demonstrators carried out by a heavily militarized police force: here.

Britain: If the political elite start using the police as an army against social dissent, it’s no surprise when some of them turn rogue, writes SOLOMON HUGHES: here.

Britons with depression not getting treatment


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Can we use video games to treat depression?

17 April 2011

Ever wonder if gaming can be used as a therapy for young people with depression?

Find out how University of Auckland researcher, Dr Sally Merry, and her team of researchers and games developers have created a video game to treat youth depression. Sally hopes the therapy will reach out to depressed youth, 75% of whom would normally receive no treatment.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Two-thirds of Britons with depression get no treatment

If these figures related to cancer patients the nation would be in uproar, says new president of Royal College of Psychiatrists

Sarah Boseley, health editor

Wednesday 13 August 2014 13.12 BST

Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all – a situation the nation would not tolerate if they had cancer, according to the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

While the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged to deliver “parity of esteem” for mental and physical health services, the treatment gap is now so huge that it may prove impossible to bridge in the current financial climate, said Professor Simon Wessely of King’s College London in his first interview since election to the post.

“People are still routinely waiting for – well, we don’t really know, but certainly more than 18 weeks, possibly up to two years, for their treatment and that is routine in some parts of the country. Some children aren’t getting any treatment at all – literally none. That’s what’s happening. So although we have the aspiration, the gap is now so big and yet there is no more money,” he said.

Wessely said there would be a public outcry if those who went without treatment were cancer patients rather than people with mental health problems. Imagine, he told the Guardian, the reaction if he gave a talk that began: “‘So, we have a problem in cancer service at the moment. Only 30% of people with cancer are getting treatment, so 70% of them don’t get any treatment for their cancer at all and it’s not even recognised.”

If he were truly talking about cancer, he said, “you’d be absolutely appalled and you would be screaming from the rooftops.” Wessely said he had asked Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, how the gap would be bridged but was told that resolving the issue would involve a “much longer conversation with the public”.

A larger proportion of people with psychosis, who have severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, are on treatment, but even that figure is still only 65%, according to Wessely, who added: “That doesn’t mean they are getting the right treatment or anything like that, but getting something. For most mental disorders it is still the exception not the rule to be recognised, detected and treated. So when we talk about the rise in antidepressant prescribing, before we start leaping to the tumbrils and saying the world’s coming to an end we should have a look and say, hang on a second, if that is appropriate prescribing then that’s good.”

The concern over pills for common mental disorders – for depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for instance – could be misplaced, Wessely argued. Much of the criticism assumes that GPs are putting many more people on pills because of an absence of counselling or talking therapies, even though the numbers of therapists being trained to provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has substantially risen thanks to a government programme called IAPT (improving access to psychological therapies).

Wessely applauded IAPT, but did not accept the argument that talking therapies were necessarily “better”, a word that to many people has a moral implication. “If you say they are more effective, I don’t really think that’s true. I think they are cheaper and easier. CBT is more popular with some people, but other people don’t like it,” he said. “The truth is most people don’t get either. Of course if you are working in areas of high antidepressant prescribing – they tend to be difficult areas like Merthyr Tydfil or Blackpool – of course where you don’t have good psychological services then you will use antidepressants. That’s not wrong, but what’s wrong is you don’t have the alternatives.”

In the US, the rate of use of stimulant drugs such as Ritalin exceeds the number of people with ADHD, so there is over-medication of the disorder. “But in Britain it is under, which suggests under-prescribing.”

The UK is also seriously short of psychiatric beds. “The fact that people are travelling hundreds of miles for a bed, the fact that bed occupancy is now 100% everywhere – in some trusts it is 110% and we’re hot-bedding – is a symptom of a system [in crisis]. Relatives and patients hate it. Junior doctors hate it – they spend all their time on the phone. Sometimes bad decisions are made just to get a bed. But we don’t think the answer is just let us have some more beds because those will probably fill up as well. We’ve been told for years that if we just get community care right we won’t need beds. That’s clearly not true. We will be announcing a commission on beds but it’s really on systems. Beds are symptomatic of a problem.”

Wessely, who is married to Clare Gerada, recent head of the Royal College of GPs, strongly believes in the need for general doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers to have more mental health training and for there to be much greater integration of diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental disorders. Trials have shown that picking up and treating depression in people with type 2 diabetes improves the control they have over the disease: they take their medication and keep complications at bay. And there are patients who are referred by their GP to a specialist because of a suspected heart complaint – which turns out to be panic attacks that have not been picked up for months.

“The whole of our healthcare system is about separating mental and physical. You couldn’t devise a system better suited to separating the mental and the physical if you tried,” he said. At King’s, psychiatrists have been put into general medical clinics with great results. “Most people have quite complicated views of their illness anyway,” he said. They are not resistant to doctors offering cardiac tests and counselling for a recent divorce at the same time.

“Certainly when you look at the cost of investigations, when you look at the cost of treatment that isn’t necessary, when you look at the cost of lost working days, when you look at the cost of additional care, actually it does become cost effective. The problem we always have is those savings are not always made to the health service.

“But we know people with physical health problems who also have mental health problems cost about 45% more than those who don’t. That’s absolutely and unequivocally clear. The cost of their care goes up. They comply less with treatment, they come back more often, they have lower satisfaction and they have more complications.”

• To contact Samaritans, call 08457 90 90 90