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.

Afghans demonstrate against NATO occupation and ISIS


Afghans demonstrate against NATO occupation and ISIS

From emptywheel in the USA:

Described Focus of Protest in Kabul Dependent on News Outlet

Published October 13, 2014 | By Jim White

A protest variously described as featuring “over a hundred”, “hundreds” or “over 500″ protesters took place in Kabul on Sunday. The object of the protest, however, was very dependent on whose report (or even whose headline) on the protest is being read.

The Wall Street Journal ran with the headline “Islamic State’s Siege of Kobani, Syria Sparks Protest in Kabul, Afghanistan” while Iran’s PressTV went with “Afghan protesters blast US-led forces, BSA”. Remarkably, Afghanistan’s Khaama Press did not see it necessary to spin the focus of the protest in a particular direction, using the headline “Afghans protest against Islamic State, US and NATO forces in Kabul”.

The Khaama Press article quickly sums up the protest:

Over 500 people participated in a demonstration against the Islamic State and presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The protesters were shouting slogans against the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and in support of the Kurdish people who are fighting the Islamic State militants.

Protesters were also carrying signs purporting crimes committed by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and resistance of the female Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State.

The US and NATO were also accused by protester[s] for supporting the extremist groups in Afghanistan and Kobane.

We learn in the article that the protest was organized by the Solidarity party of Afghanistan, which Khaama described as “a small and left wing political party in the country”. Presumably, since they were allowed to stage the protest, the ban on the party issued in 2012 must have been lifted.

One has to read the Wall Street Journal article very carefully to find any evidence of the US criticism that was in the protest. The article opens:

Residents of Kabul have a war on their own doorstep: The provinces around the Afghan capital have seen an upsurge in violence this year.

But the conflict in Syria was on the minds of demonstrators who marched Sunday in solidarity with the town of Kobani, Syria, currently under siege by Islamic State militants.

Over a hundred Afghans—most of them women—held placards supporting Kurdish fighters defending the city.

Near the end, the article mentions, but dismisses as “conspiracy theory”, the accusations of US involvement in the creation of ISIS:

Conspiracy theories often thrive in Afghanistan, and at Sunday’s protest, many demonstrators expressed the belief that Islamic State was a U.S. creation. Some held placards saying, “Yankee Go Home.”

The article then mentions the BSA without stating that it was also a target of the protest other than citing the “Yankee Go Home” sign.

Pajhwok news agency in Afghanistan reports:

Hundreds attend anti-US/NATO rally in Kabul

KABUL (Pajhwok): Calling the new government as undemocratically elected, hundreds of people on Sunday took to the streets in the central capital Kabul, condemning security accords with the US and NATO.

The protestors, including women, marched from the Cinema Pamir locality to the Maiwand Square in Kabul City.

They called the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO as shackling the nation into chains of slavery.

The protestors claimed permanent US military bases in Afghanistan could be a step towards a third world war.

The protest was organised by the National Solidarity Party. A member of the party, Hafizullah Rasikh told Pajhwok Afghan News the demonstration was aimed at condemning the presence of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan under the BSA and SOFA.

“The new government is not based on people’s votes but a deal brokered by (US president) Obama and (secretary of state) John Kerry,” he added.

British government’s Libyan torture scandal


This video is called Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Libya rendition victims demand disclosure of UK surveillance policy

The government’s refusal to reveal when lawyers’ and journalists’ communications can be intercepted is central to claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

Friday 17 October 2014 10.05 BST

Secret government policies which set out when lawyers’ or journalists’ phones and emails can be intercepted should be published, a court has been told.

In an open hearing of the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which examines complaints against the intelligence services and government use of surveillance, lawyers for two Libyan victims of rendition have called for the documents to be released.

The government’s refusal to reveal the policy papers has emerged as a key issue in the claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi who, along with members of their families, were kidnapped and sent to face punishment in Libya in 2004.

The case before the IPT alleges that the intelligence agencies or government spied on their communications with their lawyers, damaging their right to a fair trial in their claim for compensation for kidnap and torture.

Communication between lawyers and their clients are deemed to be “privileged” under longstanding rules. Similar protection applies to the communications between journalists and their sources and other protected groups.

In a hearing at the IPT, Dinah Rose QC, representing the Libyans, said: “We don’t understand why it’s being said that disclosure of policy will cause harm to national security. None of this information ought to be secret. Procedures for ensuring that privileged material is properly protected ought to be open to public scrutiny.”

The government has declined to disclose policies regulating the circumstances in which these communications are intercepted and any safeguards in place to avoid abuse. It says they are secret.

At Thursday evening’s hearing, lawyers for the government did not explain why the policies could not be released. Further preliminary hearings will be held before the case is tried in November. One issue is whether the tribunal has the power to order the government to disclose documents, a principle that could turn into a major confrontation between civil rights groups and the government.

The IPT complaint is one of a series of cases after revelations by the CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden about monitoring of the internet and telephone calls by Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, through its Tempora programme.

Eight Libyans, members of the two families, say they were victims of rendition. They claim they were kidnapped by MI6 and US intelligence agencies, forcibly returned to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and tortured. At that time, in 2004, when Gaddafi relinquished his nuclear weapons programme, intelligence relations between Tripoli, London and Washington were close.

A separate legal action between Belhaj and the UK government is due to be heard at the high court to resolve compensation for the kidnap and torture allegations. The human rights group Reprieve, which is supporting the claim, fears its ability to fight the case will be undermined because staff’s legal correspondence may be surreptitiously monitored.

Saadi, another Libyan dissident, and his family have settled their claim against the government for a payment of £2.2m. The Foreign Office did not, however, admit liability.

The “notice of complaint” by solicitors at Leigh Day on behalf of Reprieve and the Libyans lists the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, the home secretary and the foreign secretary as respondents. It calls for the case to be heard in open court. Most of the IPT’s hearings are in secret.

The claims states: “There is a strong likelihood that the respondents have intercepted and are intercepting the applicants’ legally privileged communications in respect of the [cases].”

Belhaj and Saadi were prominent military leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group during the revolution, the document points out, and are, therefore, “likely to be of interest” to UK intelligence agencies.

Australian ‘ISIS terrorist sword’ really Shiite plastic ‘sword’


This video from Australia says about itself:

Tony Abbott‘s New Terror Laws

The Abbott government has proposed drastic changes to Australia’s current anti-terrorism laws. These laws, if enacted, will have massive ramifcations on the rights of all Australians, especially targating Islamic communities.

A community forum was held to address these concerns, and to organise a fightback against the amendments being passed into law.

Speakers on the night:

Adam Bandt MP, Greens Deputy Leader and Federal Member for Melbourne
Professor Jude McCulloch, Criminology, Monash University
Ghaith Krayem, Secretary, Islamic Council of Victoria
Colin Jacobs, Electronic Frontiers Australia
Rob Stary, Civil Rights Lawyer

The night was organised by Adam Bandt, who co hosted the event with Ellen Sandell, Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne.

Members of the audience were invited to make to make comments and ask questions of the speakers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Elizabeth St, Melbourne.

*Technical Issue: Due to a camera malfunction, the first thirty three minutes of the video is slightly out of focus.

By James Cogan in Australia:

“Terrorist” sword seized in Australian police raids is plastic

13 October 2014

The Fairfax press revealed last week that the inscribed Arabic sword seized during unprecedented police raids on September 18—and portrayed by the media as the weapon that would be used in an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired plot to kidnap a random person and behead them in the street—was actually a plastic ornament. Moreover, it is a plastic Shiite ornament. Its inscription pays homage to the first Imam, Ali, who is considered by the Sunni Wahhabist extremists who make up ISIS as an apostate to Islam.

The revelation adds to the numerous, disturbing questions about the raids on 15 homes in five Sydney suburbs, which was the largest anti-terrorism operation ever carried out in Australia and involved some 800 state police, federal police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agents.

Police armed with military assault rifles and supported by armoured vehicles cordoned off entire neighbourhoods. People were ordered to lie on the ground as their homes were ransacked. Fifteen people were arrested and hauled off to police stations for interrogation. Video footage and photographs of some of the detainees were published by the police on Twitter and the official police media site and then re-published by every television and print outlet.

The media went into a frenzy, recounting sensational information they received from “unnamed” sources. However, it was the photo of the sword, being carried by police officers in a transparent evidence bag, which provoked some of the most lurid assertions. The Daily Mail breathlessly headlined its report: “Was this the lethal sword terror cell planned to use to behead an innocent victim on a Sydney street?”

From the beginning, there were glaring discrepancies between the initial police statements and the claims that an imminent terrorist attack had been thwarted. A press release issued shortly after the raids stated that the police had “no information regarding a specific attack, including dates, time or location.” However, by the end of the day, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari had been named as a “terrorist.” The media was full of reports that he had taken a phone call from an Australian ISIS member in Syria in which he had been instructed to film the beheading of someone and post it on YouTube. Press coverage dwelt at length on the police seizure of an unspecified weapon from one home, and the ominous photo of the sword.

The government and the police subsequently made no attempt to explain that the sword was plastic and thus allowed the idea to circulate that Muslim fanatics had been on the verge of beheading someone. It has directly contributed to a hysterical and xenophobic atmosphere and the abuse and assault of Muslims, especially veiled women, by racist elements. …

As for the owner of the plastic sword, he is 21-year-old painter Mustafa Dirani, from a Shiite Afghan immigrant family. He does not know Omarjan Azari and has no history of involvement with any Sunni extremist grouping. Everything suggests that he and his friend Maywand Osman were included in the raids solely to increase the number of targets. They appear to have been selected because they were recently involved in a car accident that has been linked to a brawl. The warrant issued to search his parent’s home dramatically stated that he had engaged “in preparation or planning terrorist acts” between May and September 2014.

Britain: London Isil terror raids questioned as it emerges one of the suspects is Iraqi Kurd: here.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will put Canada’s proposed combat military mission in Iraq to a vote on Monday. … But Harper’s plan to send Canadian warplanes to join the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of Iraq may just make matters worse: here.

Canada’s Conservative government and corporate media are seizing upon a purported terrorist attack to advance the ruling elite’s agenda of war, reaction, and attacks on democratic rights: here.