German neo-nazi Islamophobic hooliganism


This German video is about the nazi demonstration in Cologne on 26 October 2014.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Neonazis‘ Cologne protest erupts into violence

Sunday 26th October 2014

A NEONAZI and football hooligan-organised rally through Cologne erupted into widely predicted violence yesterday as marchers hurled bottles and fireworks at police.

Officers responded with water cannon, baton charges and pepper spray to the rioting thugs, who had organised the demonstration in the name of the Hooligans Against Salafists (Hogesa) coalition, which boasts of bringing together “sworn enemies from various football clubs” united by a hatred for Muslims.

Those marching chanted: “National socialism now” and performed nazi salutes, immediately provoking police intervention since nazi slogans and gestures are illegal in Germany. Police had earlier made it clear they would have a “low threshold” for intervention due to fears that the nazis would come into direct conflict with planned counter-demonstrations outside Cologne’s train station and cathedral.

Police said the 2,500-strong demo had been organised by Dominik Roeseler of the far-right Pro NRW party, although promotion for the event on social media did not name a ringleader.

They believe Hogesa, whose exact make-up is unclear but is believed to unite “17 football hooligan groups” with organised neonazism, is partly the work of veteran nazi and football hooligan Siegfried Borchardt, who goes by the nickname SS

Siggi and helped found the violent right-wing Borussenfront football [hooligan] club in the 1980s.

State police union chairman Arnold Plickert said Hogesa was a “new phenomenon” which could be extremely dangerous if “previously warring hooligans develop a common structure.”

Ferguson police crackdown violated US and international law, Amnesty says


This music video from the USA says about itself:

Uncle Murda Ft Maino & Jay Watts – Hands Up (Michael Brown/Eric Garner Tribute) 2014 New CDQ

30 August 2014

Uncle Murda teams up with Maino and singer Jay Watts for “Hands Up.” Their anger at the injustice of police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and so many other minorities at the hands of police in America is palpable.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Amnesty International: Ferguson police crackdown violated US and international law

25 October 2014

The crackdown on peaceful protesters by police in Ferguson, Missouri violated numerous US and international laws, according to a report published Friday by Amnesty International.

The report, “The streets of America: Human rights abuses in Ferguson,” extensively documents systematic acts of police violence against peaceful protestors and the arrest of media and international observers. It details the suppression of rights protected under the US Constitution, international law and international human rights agreements.

The report comes as police are “stocking up on riot gear,” as a report by the Associated Press put it, in preparation for renewed protests next month in the event that a grand jury fails to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9.

“What Amnesty International witnessed in Missouri on the ground this summer underscored that human rights abuses do not just happen across borders and oceans,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Hawkins added, “Standing on W. Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, I saw a police force, armed to the teeth, with military-grade weapons. I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas.”

Police confronted protesters while “armed with semi-automatic weapons and leashed police dogs,” the report notes. “Officers moved among the protesters using armored vehicles which are more commonly seen in a conflict zone rather than the streets of a suburban town in the United States.” It adds, “Some of the officers had… no names, badges, other identifying information visible.”

The report concludes, “In all, more than 170 individuals were arrested during the first 12 days of protests since Michael Brown’s death.” More than three quarters of arrests were for the ad-hoc charge of “failure to disperse.”

The report documents the attack on free speech and the media. “Legal and human rights observers as well as members of the media have repeatedly been obstructed” by police, it notes. “From August 13 through October 2, at least 19 journalists and members of the media were arrested by law enforcement, with others subjected to tear gas and the use of rubber bullets… Reporters for CNN, Al Jazeera America and other outlets report being harassed or physically threatened.”

When Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who headed the police response in the area, was asked at a press conference why members of the press were being targeted for arrest, he replied, “It is difficult to tell who is media and who is disguising themselves as such.”

The report documents one particularly shocking event, when Ryan Devereaux of the Intercept and Lukas Hermsmeier of the German Bild-Zeitung were shot with rubber bullets and arrested while fleeing from a barrage of tear gas.

The report recounts, “After coming out [from] behind cover with their hands in the air, shouting, ‘Press!’ and ‘Journalists’ and ‘We’re media!’ [an] officer allowed them to pass. However, as Devereaux and Hermsmeier continued walking with their hands in the air, shouting ‘Press!’ the same officer shot rubber bullets at them, hitting both journalists in the back. Out of fear, they dove behind a car. The officers approached with guns pointed and arrested them.”

On another occasion, Amnesty International observers were threatened by police while they were seeking to leave a protest scene after determining that they were in danger from tear gas and rubber bullets. “One officer directly in front of the delegation pointed his weapon at the delegation and shouted ‘get on the ground!’ A staff member at the front of the delegation knelt on the ground and informed the officer, ‘We are human rights observers.’”

In another incident, “Amnesty International witnessed an officer with the St. Ann Police Department in Missouri point his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at a group of journalists and threaten to kill them.”

The Amnesty International report notes that the practice of pointing firearms at peaceful protestors violates US law and international conventions. “Under the UN’s Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,” the report states, “law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.” In adds, “An officer pointing a gun at close range at an unarmed individual who is not presenting a threat would also be excessive use of force under US law.”

The report concludes that the police sought to “collectively punish” local residents and peaceful protestors. It notes that the imposition of a curfew “limited not only the rights of those who were demonstrating peacefully, but also the freedom of movement of the general public in Ferguson, who were required to be off of the streets after midnight each night.”

The illegal and unconstitutional character of the police response was summed up by an injunction issued by a federal judge earlier this month against the so-called “five second rule,” an arbitrary directive that police used to abrogate the constitutionally protected right of peaceful assembly. The judge said the order allowed “police officers, if they felt like it, to order peaceful, law-abiding protesters to keep moving rather than standing still.” She concluded, “As it was applied in this case, the practice… violates the Constitution.”

The Amnesty International report, together with the nationwide militarization of the police and the ongoing wave of police killings, exposes the claims of the US government that Washington’s endless wars and international provocations are motivated by a desire to defend “human rights.

Autopsy shows St. Louis teenager Vonderrit Myers was gunned down by police while fleeing: here.

Harry Roberts, British colonial war soldier and cop killer


This video from Britain says about itself:

24 March 2008

Harry Roberts shot dead three policemen in London on 12 August 1966. He was eventually caught after a manhunt lasting several weeks and was convicted. 42 years later and well into his 70’s he still remains behind bars and is refused parole.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Harry Roberts: He Kills Coppers

Saturday 25th october 2014

Harry Roberts, who killed three policemen in 1966, is to be released on parole. PETER FROST looks back at the life of this colonial soldier turned murderer

Harry Roberts, now aged 78, is Britain’s longest-serving incarcerated murderer. He is due to be released on parole this week. Roberts, a professional gangster, was sentenced to life in 1966.

He has served nearly half a century in prison.

I well remember the long hot summer of 1966. Ann and I were planning our wedding. England beat Germany in the World Cup, Harold Wilson was having beers and sandwiches while talking to the TUC about a wage freeze. Groovy Kinda Love was the most popular choice on the jukebox.

On a sunny afternoon in quiet residential Braybrook Street in Shepherd’s Bush, not far from Wormwood Scrubs prison, and not far from where I was living at the time, three gun-toting London gangsters shot down three unarmed police officers.

The incident started when plain-clothes officers approached the van in which Roberts, Jack Witney and John Duddy were sitting planning the final details of an armed robbery nearby.

Roberts opened fire shooting dead two of the officers, while one of his accomplices fatally shot the third.

The shots would reverberate around the nation. Britain had finally abolished hanging just eight months before and the shooting reopened all the old arguments.

Harry Maurice Roberts was born in 1936 in Wanstead, Essex, where his parents ran The George public house.

His was a criminal family. Mother sold stolen and black market goods and fake ration books. Later the bent family business would move to a café in north London.

In his late teens, Roberts was jailed after using an iron bar to attack a shopkeeper during a robbery. He served a 19-month borstal sentence and was released in January 1956.

Just a week after leaving borstal, Roberts was called up for national service. He loved it. They gave him a gun and taught him how to kill Britain’s enemies in both Kenya and Malaya.

Later in life and in many prison interviews Roberts would boast of how many Mau Mau Kenyan freedom fighters and Malayan communists he had shot and killed. This was at a time of the worst excesses of British imperialism.

The freedom fighters of the Kenyan Land and Freedom Army were branded as Mau Mau terrorists and jailed, hanged and shot in their thousands.

In Malaya it was communists that Roberts and his fellow soldiers were encouraged to murder. This was the time when the Daily Worker published pictures of British soldiers holding up the severed heads of murdered Malayan communists.

Journalist and former armed robber John McVicar met Roberts in prison. Roberts gloated about his killings, telling McVicar that he had acquired a taste for killing prisoners of war on the orders of his officers.

Back in civvies Roberts returned to his criminal career. Often with Witney and Duddy he carried out scores of armed robberies, targeting bookmakers, post offices and banks.

In 1959 Roberts and an accomplice posed as tax inspectors to gain entry into the home of an elderly man. Once inside the man was tied up and beaten about the head with a glass decanter.

Roberts was captured and tried for the savage crime. Mr Justice Maude said as he passed sentence: “You are a brutal thug. You came very near the rope this time.”

Roberts was given seven years. The victim, who never recovered from his injuries, died one year and three days after the attack. Had he died two days earlier, Roberts could have been tried for his murder under the year and a day rule.

The victims of the Shepherd’s Bush shooting were 41-year-old police constable Geoffrey Fox, detective sergeant Christopher Head, aged 30, and 25-year-old temporary detective constable David Wombwell.

Roberts went on the run with a £1,000 reward on his head. He hid in woods in Hertfordshire to avoid capture. He knew the woods from games as a child and, using his army survival skills, he evaded capture for 96 days. Roberts was finally captured by police while sleeping rough in a barn.

He was convicted of all three police murders and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 30 years.
While in prison he showed no remorse. On the contrary he made macabre apple pies decorated with pastry cut-outs of policemen being shot. Numerous appeals for release on parole were turned down over the years.

The trial judge at the time of sentencing told him that it was unlikely that any future Home Secretary would “ever think fit to show mercy by releasing you on licence… This is one of those cases in which the sentence of imprisonment for life may well be treated as meaning exactly what it says.”

Theresa May, always keen to upset the police it seems, has decided otherwise.

Peter Frost blogs at www.frostysramblings.wordpress.com/

Gangs of more extreme football hooligans, some of whom would go on to form the fascist English Defence League, used Roberts’s name to antagonise the police. They chanted “Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend. Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers.”

Japanese government censorship on World War II crimes


This video says about itself:

Comfort Woman

Through painting, a Korean woman breaks her 50 years of silence on being forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army during World War II.

By Ben McGrath:

Japanese ministers visit Yasukuni war shrine

24 October 2014

Three Japanese ministers visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine on Saturday, continuing the push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s right-wing government to revive militarism and whitewash the war crimes committed by the Japanese army during World War II. Saturday’s visit came a day after 110 lawmakers went to the shrine.

The ministers were Sanae Takaichi, the internal affairs and communication minister, Eriko Yamatani, the head of the National Public Safety Commission, and Haruko Arimura, the minister tasked with promoting female empowerment. All three women were added to Abe’s cabinet during the shakeup that took place in September.

Abe, who visited the shrine in December 2013, the first sitting prime minister to do so since Junichiro Koizumi in 2006, did not attend Yasukuni last weekend. However, he sent an offering, the third this year—along with one sent in spring and another on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Yasukuni Shrine is a symbol of Japanese militarism, where those who died in Japan’s wars, primarily World War II, are symbolically interred, including 14 class A war criminals. An associated museum has military displays and literature that downplay such crimes as the Nanjing massacre, during which the Japanese army murdered an estimated 300,000 captured Chinese soldiers and civilians in 1937.

The Chinese government released a statement, saying: “China would like to reiterate that Sino-Japan relations can only realize healthy and stable development when Japan seriously faces up to and repents of its aggressive past and disassociates itself with militarism.” While there are legitimate fears among working people about the re-emergence of Japanese militarism, the Beijing regime exploits those concerns to whip up Chinese nationalism.

Abe has held off going to the shrine this year in part so as not to exacerbate tensions with China. He is reportedly seeking a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month when Beijing will host a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group. Since coming to office in December 2012, Abe has not met the Chinese leader.

Paying homage at the Yasukuni Shrine is just one aspect of Abe’s agenda of remilitarisation. His government has increased the military budget, established a National Security Council along the lines of its US counterpart, and “reinterpreted” the constitution to allow for “collective self-defence”—in reality, for Japan to join US wars of aggression.

The three ministers who visited the shrine all have ties to Japan Conference, an ultra-nationalist grouping founded by former elements of the imperial military, Shinto fundamentalists and other conservatives. The group calls for “patriotic values” to be taught in schools, while seeking to cover up the crimes of Japanese imperialism.

In line with this agenda, the government is trying to rewrite the history of the Japanese military’s systematic coercion of about 200,000 women from throughout Asia into military-run brothels in the 1930s and 1940s. Many of the women remained silent out of shame before beginning to come forward in the 1980s as light was shone on the extent of this war crime.

Last week, Japanese diplomat Kuni Sato asked Radhika Coomaraswamy, a former special UN rapporteur, to revise her 1996 report detailing the Japanese army’s abuse of so-called comfort women. Coomaraswamy rejected the request. Her report detailed the systematic sexual abuse committed by the military and called on Japan to formally apologize and pay compensation to the victims.

In calling for the revision, the Abe government seized on the decision last August by Asahi Shimbun, the leading liberal paper, to retract a series of articles dating back to 1982 on comfort women. The articles were based on the account of Seiji Yoshida, a former Japanese soldier, who wrote about his assignment to round up hundreds of women on Korea’s Jeju Island as sex slaves for the army. Before he died in 2000, Yoshida admitted to changing aspects of what happened, but did not withdraw his overall story.

Since the Asahi Shimbun’s retraction, Coomaraswamy’s report has come under attack from the extreme right in Japan. However, she stated that while her report cited Yoshida’s story, it was “only one piece of evidence,” with much of the report relying on the testimonies of “a large number of comfort women,” whom she interviewed.

South Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman No Gwang-il criticized the attempt to change the UN report, saying: “Historical truth cannot be concealed even if Japan tries to gloss over the sex slave issue. Only grave criticism from the international community will follow. Seoul will not tolerate Japan’s attempt to blur the truth of history.”

Japan’s right wing has long denied the military’s use of “comfort women” or claimed that the women were not coerced. The Abe government is seeking to revise a limited government apology over the Japanese military’s abuse of women issued in 1993, known as the Kono Statement. It released a report in June calling into question the testimonies of former Korean comfort women, collected before the statement’s release.

Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine last December was the signal for an ideological offensive on a broad front. He appointed a number of known right-wingers to the board of governors of NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster. In February, one appointee Naoki Hyakuta bluntly declared that the Nanjing massacre “never happened.”

Last Friday, the London-based Times reported that NHK banned the use of particular words and references related to the massacre, “comfort women” and the territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. An October 3 document sets out guidelines for writers and translators preparing English-language material. The term “Nanjing Incident” must be used instead of Nanking Massacre. When referring to the comfort women, the words “sex slaves,” “brothels,” and “forced to” have been banned.

The Abe government’s use of the public broadcaster to pursue its militarist agenda was summed up earlier this year by NHK head Katsuto Momii, another Abe appointee. “It would not do for us to say ‘left’ when the government is saying ‘right,’” he said.

Michael Brown smeared in United States media


This video from Ferguson, Missori in the USA is about Michael Brown having his hands up when police officer Darren Wilson killed him, as witnesses confirm.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

US media campaign to exonerate cop who killed Michael Brown

23 October 2014

On Wednesday, the Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch joined the ongoing media campaign to vilify Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager gunned down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9.

The media reports are part of a coordinated campaign to prepare the public for the possibility that a grand jury will fail to charge the officer, Darren Wilson. The grand jury is expected to decide whether to charge Wilson early next month.

On Wednesday morning the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published what it claimed to be “the most detailed account of Wilson’s version of the Aug. 9 event to be made public,” in an article entitled: “Source: Darren Wilson says Michael Brown kept charging at him.”

The publication of Wilson’s account was coordinated with the release by the newspaper of the St. Louis medical examiner’s autopsy of Brown, which had been provided to the newspaper by an unnamed source.

The Post-Dispatch sought to present the autopsy report as confirming Wilson’s version of events, claiming that a grazed bullet wound on Brown’s hand indicated that the young man was reaching for Wilson’s gun. It quoted Judy Melinek, a former medical examiner, saying that the autopsy definitively supports claims that Brown was shot at least once at close range and had reached for Wilson’s gun. She told the Post-Dispatch, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”

This interpretation is entirely speculative and groundless. Witnesses have said that Wilson attempted to choke Brown through the window of his car, and that he was attempting to get free when Wilson shot him the first time. If the circumstances described by witnesses is true, it is not at all implausible for Brown’s hand to have been near Wilson’s gun when it went off.

Melinek is not an impartial expert. In an August 20 column on CNN.com, months before she saw the official autopsy, Melinek sought to cast doubt on witnesses’ accounts that Brown was surrendering when he was killed. She also sought to discredit the second autopsy performed by former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, claiming that “releasing preliminary information when the investigation is still ongoing is premature and potentially inflammatory.”

In fact, the report does not even unambiguously indicate that Brown was shot in the hand at close range. The report notes the absence of powder burns around the edge of the gunshot wound, which would be expected if the wound had in fact been inflicted within the car.

The real story revealed in the autopsy is one of a young man who was apparently brutalized and then shot multiple times by a police officer. The autopsy shows two gunshot wounds to the head, including one to the crown of the head in a downward direction and another to the forehead, also aimed downward. That is in addition to multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and arms, as well as abrasions on the face.

The autopsy report should in any case be treated with a high degree of skepticism, as the police had hours to tamper with the scene before the medical examiner even arrived. The medical examiner was only contacted an hour and a half after the shooting, and by the time he arrived “the deceased was cool to the touch,” and “rigor mortis was slightly felt in his extremities,” according to the autopsy.

Brown’s lawyers pointed out that what happened inside Wilson’s police vehicle had no bearing on Wilson’s decision to shoot Brown as he was running away. “We are not surprised by the information leaked last night by the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office,” said Benjamin Crump, the lead attorney for the family, in an email to the World Socialist Web Site. “Several independent witnesses indicated there was a brief altercation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson at the patrol car.”

He concluded, “What we want to know is why Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown multiple times and killed him even though he was more than 20 feet away from his patrol car; this is the crux of the matter!”

“Keep in mind there are two separate and distinct events occurring on this day: one at the vehicle, the other one, outside of the vehicle,” said Anthony D. Gray, a lawyer for the family of Michael Brown, also in an email to the WSWS. According to the account allegedly given by Wilson to the grand jury, Brown, after having been shot twice, began to run away from the police car, then turned around and “began running toward” the officer, was shot twice more, then resumed charging at Wilson.

Mr. Gray called this version of events “absurd.” He added, “That version of events is not supported by anyone that witnessed this shooting.” Wilson “can’t concur with what the majority of the witnesses saw outside of the vehicle because if he does, he would be confessing to cold-blooded murder.”

While none of the witnesses who have spoken to the press agreed with Wilson’s claims, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, based on unnamed sources, that unnamed individuals have testified before the grand jury backing up Wilson’s account of the shooting. “Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none of them have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Washington Post’s sources said.”

Here, again, nothing can be taken at face value. In all likelihood the Post’s sources for the grand jury proceeding are elements within the state that have a vested interest in seeing Wilson go free. Instead of treating the sources with requisite skepticism, the Post and other newspapers are taking these unnamed sources entirely at their word and passing on their claims to the public as good coin.

The Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch did not reply to voicemails requesting more information on what level of fact-checking had been conducted on their sources’ claims.

Wednesday’s leaks follow the publication of an article Friday by the New York Times, based on unnamed sources in the federal government, claiming that evidence presented to the grand jury pointed to Wilson’s innocence. The Times also indicated that the federal government is not planning on filing civil rights charges against Wilson.

The coordinated leaks, presented uncritically by major newspapers and used as the basis for sweeping and groundless claims, are made possible by the decision of St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch to present evidence in the shooting before a grand jury.

The decision to even go before a grand jury is entirely voluntary on the part of McCulloch. Those suspected of murder in Missouri usually have a hearing where evidence is reviewed by a judge who decides whether there is a basis to proceed with a prosecution.

McCulloch has a record of using grand jury proceedings. Despite more than a dozen police killings in St. Louis County since he became prosecutor, McCulloch has never filed criminal charges against any of the officers. He did present four such cases to a grand jury, but he obtained no indictments.

Contrary to the usual procedure, McCulloch has not made any recommendation to the grand jury as to whether to indict Wilson. Instead, he is presenting a voluminous amount of evidence to the grand jury, including testimony by Wilson himself, in an unusually long procedure.

By using this method, McCulloch is creating the illusion of a fair procedure, while in fact stacking the deck in favor of Wilson. The entire proceeding is being kept secret. At the same time, this procedure allows state authorities to selectively leak information to the press that will be favorable to Wilson’s case.

In this charade, the press—including the Washington Post, New York Times, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch—is functioning as a pliant tool of the state in order to condition public opinion for what is looking increasingly likely: the failure to bring charges against the killer of Michael Brown.

“Hey, White People”: A Message From Ferguson’s Kids: here.

US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos


This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

The author also recommends:

US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
[2 December 2009]

Anti-female genital mutilation campaigner Efua Dorkenoo, RIP


This video says about itself:

Cutting the rose: female genital mutilation | Efua Dorkenoo | TEDxUCLWomen

In this talk, Efua Dorkenoo, Advocacy Director for Equality Now and a founder of the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), a British charity that supports women who have experienced FGM speaks of the current implications of FGM and shares the ongoing efforts dedicated to eliminate this practice.

Event Summary– On December 6th 2013, the first university in the UK to admit men and women on equal merit, University College London (UCL) hosted its first ever TEDxWomen event.

By Hilary Burrage in Britain:

Obituary: Efua Dorkenoo

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Anti-FGM campaigner and writer (1949-2014)

EFUA DORKENOO, who died of cancer in London last Sunday, will be remembered with respect and gratitude for many things, but most of all for her many years of hard-headed and deeply committed campaigning to erase the cruel scourge of female genital mutilation (FGM), which even now blights the lives of — or kills — millions of girls and young women across the globe, year on year.

Striking in both her physical presence and her wider influence, Dorkenoo’s sway and work to stop FGM came to span much of the globe.

In the past year she saw both massively increased concern to address FGM in Britain, and, just a week before she died, the formal launch of the African-led movement, The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM, of which she was programme director.

Born in Ghana, where as a young nursing student she saw at first hand the grim realities of FGM, Dorkenoo then relocated to work in London, becoming an example par excellence of how to combine practical activism, political acumen and solid scholarship to great effect in FGM campaigns.

Dorkenoo understood that none of these elements was likely, alone, to achieve the outcome which she unerringly demanded.

To eradicate FGM, communities, political will and professional skills all need to be aligned, with their own specific briefings, data and messages — so that’s what Dorkenoo, recipient of a master’s degree in public health and an OBE for public service, delivered.

In 1983 Dorkenoo founded Forward, a British women’s health organisation campaigning against FGM. She collaborated for decades with the World Health Organisation and in later years she led FGM programmes for both Equality Now and the international health/development organisation Options.

Dorkenoo’s legacy is already many thousands of girls and women untouched by the looming terror in their communities of FGM.

Those who remain to take forward her life’s work are determined that soon these terrors will reside firmly, only and forever in history.

HILARY BURRAGE

Hilary Burrage is a sociologist, consultant and writer. She is currently writing a book on eradicating FGM in Britain.