Bahrain regime kills a human being again


Abdulaziz Al Abbar

From the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights:

Excessive Use of Force Leads to the Death of a Bahraini Citizen

Posted on April 18, 2014

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) express their grave concern regarding the news of the death of Mr. Abdulaziz Al Abbar (27 years old).

Mr. Al Abbar died today morning (April 18, 2014) in Salmaniya Hospital. He was wounded in the head (tear gas canister and bird-shot).

Mr. Al Abbar, injured in protests held in the Saar area – February 23, 2014 -, remained in critical condition for a 55 days.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands urgent and immediate investigation into the death of Mr. Abdulaziz Al Abbar.

See also here.

$580 million base expansion ties US closer to regime in Bahrain & their terrible human rights record: here.

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Nazi site Stormfront’s 100 hate-crime murders


This video is called The Rise of the Modern Nazis, White Power USA Part 1.

And this is Part 2.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Almost 100 hate-crime murders linked to single website, report finds

Southern Poverty Law Center singles out Stormfront.org

• Report says users disproportionately linked to major killings

Amanda Holpuch in New York

Friday 18 April 2014 13.16 BST

People charged with the murders of almost 100 people can be linked to a single far-right website, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The White Nationalist web forum Stormfront.org says it promotes values of “the embattled white minority,” and its users include Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a 2011 massacre in Norway, and Wade Michael Page, who shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.

After a two-year investigation, the SPLC said (pdf) that since Stormfront became one of the first hate sites on the internet in 1995, its registered users have been disproportionately responsible for major killings. The report was released a month early after white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, was accused of killing three people at a Jewish center in Kansas City on Sunday.

“We know that the people who are going to commit the kinds of crimes, like the kinds of crimes Miller committed last weekend, this is where they live,” said Heidi Beirich, report author and a director at the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. The report, released on Thursday, calls Stormfront the “largest hate site in the world” and “a magnet and breeding ground for the deadly and deranged.”

Of the site’s more than 286,000 users, only a small sliver are highly active, the report found, with fewer than 1,800 people logging in each day. While the SPLC only identified 10 murderers out of this large user base, researchers think the murderers’ connection to the site is important because it shows how the website offers a community for people who commit these crimes.

“It’s pretty clear that websites like Stormfront are breeding grounds for people who are just enraged at their situation, it’s there that people find the reasons their lives aren’t as they had hoped and Stormfront helps them find the enemy that is standing in their way – whether it be Jews, African Americans, immigrants and so on,” said Beirich. “Unfortunately it’s not very surprising that people who live in this kind of stew of violent racism eventually pick up a gun and do something about it at some point.”

Stormfront proudly declares that “every month is white history month” at the top of its site and forum discussions concern things such as the latest news stories, ideology, poetry and creative writing.

“The fact of the matter is that more people have been killed domestically by radical right extremists than Islamic extremists since 9/11 and where you find a lot of these people is on these sites,” said Beirich.

SPLC also identified 10 characteristics shared by killers who were active online including unemployment, posting on more than one hate website, and sustained activity on these sites.

Stormfront founder Don Black, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, criticized Miller for giving users of his site a bad reputation. “We have enough of a problem with how we are portrayed without some homicidal whack job coming along and reinforcing that,” Black told the Daily Beast. After he was banned from Stormfront, the SLPC said Miller posted more than 12,000 times on a similar forum, Vanguard News Network, whose slogan is “No Jews, Just Right.”

The SPLC’s report said hate killings skyrocketed after Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

“We have seen and documented at the SPLC an enormous growth of groups on the radical right, particularly in the last five years,” said Mark Potok, the report’s editor and a senior fellow on the Intelligence Project. “That growth quite clearly seems to be driven by the appearance of Barack Obama on the political scene in the fall of 2008 and of course his subsequent election.”

Potok noted that these hate sites are protected by first amendment rights because they don’t contain concrete plots to commit crimes. He said that law enforcement official unquestionably pay attention to these sites, but criticized how much analysis is done on users by federal authorities.

“We feel pretty strongly that the Department of Homeland Security, which is the lead agency in this country for developing intelligence about these groups and individuals, has more or less taken its eye of the ball in the sense that since 2009 the department seems more focused on Jihadists terrorism,” Potok said.

See also here.

It’s been decades since the Ku Klux Klan held mainstream status, but a recent deadly rampage at a Jewish community center and living community near Kansas City served as a reminder that the nation’s best-known white-supremacy organization has not completely disappeared: here.

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Life imprisonment for Ugandan gay people?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Yup, She’s DEFENDING Uganda’s Anti-Gay Laws!

23 February 2014

“The right-wing women’s group Concerned Women for America (CWFA) expressed outrage on Sunday that President Barack Obama condemned a Ugandan anti-LGBT bill that would punish homosexual behavior with lifetime imprisonment.

According to the Joe My God blog, CWFA spokesperson Janice Shaw Crouse said that the president’s “arrogance is breathtaking” for saying that [the] Ugandan government should stop imprisoning and torturing men it suspects of being gay.

On Sunday, Obama released an official White House statement condemning Uganda’s proposed law outlawing same sex marriages and imposing lifetime prison sentences for repeated homosexual acts.”

Read more here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ugandan men to go on trial on homosexuality charges

Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa face life imprisonment if found guilty in first such case since introduction of new anti-gay law

Barbara Among in Kampala

Thursday 17 April 2014 16.37 BST

Two Ugandan men will go on trial next month accused of homosexuality, the first people to be charged since a controversial new anti-gay law was passed.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had sufficient evidence against Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who denied the charges when they first appeared in court earlier this year. They have been held in Luziro prison in Kampala since December.

Mukisa, 24, a businessman, was charged with “having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature” and Mukasa, 19, with permitting a person to have sexual knowledge of him against the order of nature.

They are the first Ugandans to face trial on homosexuality charges, with an earlier case collapsing before it reached court and the majority of those arrested paying stiff fines to avoid prison.

Uganda‘s president Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay law in February. It punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Since the law was passed several donors have cut aid to Uganda, while others have diverted development support to projects that promote human rights.

Mukisa and Mukasa, however, have been charged under the 1950 Penal Code Act, which also prescribes life imprisonment if a person is found guilty of homosexual acts.

They are expected to defend themselves during the trial, which is scheduled to start on 7 May.

Britain: KFC ‘sorry’ after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for ‘heavy petting’: here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says the Anglican Church cannot support same-sex marriage: here.

USA: Mayor who fired lesbian police chief caught on tape in homophobic tirade: here.

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Okinawa musicians against United States military base


This video is called Lucy Nagamine: Okinawa‘s folk music heritage.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Okinawa‘s musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases

With Barack Obama visiting Japan in April, resentment at plans for the US Futenma military base is finding a musical voice

Justin McCurry in Okinawa

Thursday 17 April 2014 15.50 BST

If an island of 1.4m people can be summed up in a sound, it is that of the sanshin. Where there are people on Okinawa, a Japanese island almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, the distinctive tones of the three-stringed instrument are never far away.

Music is deeply rooted in Okinawa’s tragic place in Japan‘s history and the conduit for its modern grievances against the glut of US military bases on the island. As Barack Obama prepares to visit Tokyo to meet Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later in April, the anti-war message of sanshin players such as Shoukichi Kina and Misako Oshiro is back in vogue as the subtropical island confronts its biggest political challenge since it reverted from US to Japanese rule in the 1970s.

In his mid-60s, Kina cuts a controversial figure as spiritual leader of Okinawa’s activist musicians. Since the release of their first single Haisai Ojisan (Hey, Man!) in the 1970s, Kina and his band Champloose have done more than any other artists to secure Okinawan music against competition from mass-market Japanese J-pop and the more innocent musical motifs of the mainland folk genres minyo and enka.

“Our job as musicians should be to celebrate the good and do something about fixing the bad,” said Kina, who some have called Okinawa’s answer to Bob Marley. “That’s why I hate the military bases here, but I love Americans.”

Though it accounts for less than 1% of Japan’s total area, Okinawa is now home to about 75% of US bases in Japan and half its 50,000 troops. Military facilities take up a fifth of the island. Obama and Abe are expected to discuss the controversial relocation of Futenma, a sprawling US marine base, from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to an unspoiled location on the island’s northeast coast, as the allies attempt to lessen the island’s military burden. The move is opposed by most islanders, including the residents of Nago, whose city lies near the proposed site for the new base.

The spirit of resistance pioneered by Kina is to be found in the more eclectic music of Tatsumi Chibana, a quietly spoken 33-year-old university graduate and perhaps the most visible of Okinawa’s new generation of rebel artists, fusing traditional sounds with rock, reggae and hip-hop.

After a US military helicopter from the Futenma US marine base crashed into Okinawa International University in 2004, Chibana was moved to write his best-known song, Tami no Domino (People’s Domino), a collaboration between his band Duty Free Shopp and local rapper Kakumakushaka.

The incendiary lyrics reflect the feeling of many residents towards the ever-present threat to safety posed by the island’s 27,000 US troops and their hardware: “Surrounded by weapons in the land of disorder; what the hell can you tell me about peace in a place like this?”

Most of Chibana’s music eschews the sanshin and other traditional instruments, but his background looms large, he said. “I’m always aware of my Okinawan identity when I make music. OK, so I wasn’t brought up listening to folk songs, but the spirit of that old music is in mine. It doesn’t matter whether I play reggae, hip-hop or rock, it’s still Okinawan music.” …

Like Kina, Chibana occasionally sings in the Okinawan language Uchinaguchi – an artistic choice that renders his lyrics unintelligible to many Japanese, but which exemplifies the island’s historical and emotional sense of detachment from the mainland.

In the 16th century, where the sanshin’s origins lie, Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdom, which, while politically independent, had tributary relations with Ming dynasty China. Forced annexation by Japan came in the late 1800s, followed in the 1940s by the carnage of the Pacific war.

Less than a century after it was forcibly made part of Japan, Okinawa was the scene of one of the second world war’s bloodiest battles. An estimated 240,000 Japanese and Americans died, including more than a quarter of Okinawa’s civilian population, after US forces invaded in June 1945. Japanese troops distributed grenades to civilians, urging them to commit suicide or risk being raped and murdered by American soldiers.

“There are lots of songs about how terribly the Okinawans were treated in the war,” said John Potter, the author of the only English-language book on Okinawan music and a prolific blogger on the subject.

Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972 – almost three decades after the war – fuelled the local sense of “otherness” from the mainland.

Not all Okinawan musicians draw inspiration from the island’s bloody past, Potter said. “Many songs come back to what a fantastic place Okinawa is. Lots of artists sing about their culture and being island people, and their pride in being different.”

Poverty – Okinawa is Japan’s poorest prefecture – and the looming clouds of conflict sent many people in search of new lives overseas, creating a diaspora whose youngest members are making their presence felt on the island’s contemporary music scene.

Lucy Nagamine, a Peruvian-born singer whose grandparents left Okinawa shortly before the war, learned classical Ryukyu music from her grandmother and picked up her deceased grandfather’s sanshin at the age of 10.

Before settling in her ancestral homeland several years ago, Lucy often sang for Okinawan immigrants in Peru who were desperate to preserve the emotional ties with home. “Now I’m here in Okinawa, away from the country of my birth, I know how my grandparents and other immigrants felt,” she said in between songs at her regular venue, a restaurant in Naha.

“In those days immigrants had nothing to do except sing and play the sanshin. It was a central part of their existence, and why music and the Okinawan lifestyle are closely intertwined, even today.”

Less polemic are Nenes, a group of four whose lineup has gone through several reincarnations since they were formed by the legendary artist and producer Sadao China in 1990. Nenes perform classic Okinawan songs for groups of tourists from the mainland.

One rare departure from their otherwise “safe” repertoire is their stirring version of Keisuke Kuwata’s Heiwa no Kyuka, which simmers with resentment over Okinawa’s bloody wartime sacrifice. “Who decided this country was at peace,” the song asks, “Even before the people’s tears have dried?”

“Now that we’re confronting the base issue again, this is a good time to sing about peace,” said 24-year-old Mayuko Higa. “It’s important that the people who come to see us perform know why it’s an important subject here.”

Nenes’ tourist-friendly melodies can seem a world away from Kina’s ceaseless quest for social and political change, an artist who implores the world’s armies to swap their weapons for musical instruments. His decade-old feud with NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, proves that Japan’s mainstream media and firebrand politics can be uncomfortable bedfellows.

“They demanded that I drop any references to peace from my performance,” Kina said, his arms in motion again as he recalls his incredulity. “I refused, of course, and they haven’t invited me back since. The message for Okinawan musicians has always been that if you want to get on in this industry, then keep your mouth shut. But I’ll say what I like.”

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United States drones kill Australian, New Zealander in Yemen


This video is called Drone attacks in Yemen mostly hit civilians.

By Tom Peters:

Australian, New Zealand citizens killed by US drone strike in Yemen

17 April 2014

The Australian reported yesterday that five people, including Australian citizen Christopher Harvard and dual Australian-New Zealand citizen Muslim bin John, were the victims of an extra-judicial killing by a US Predator drone in Yemen on November 19 last year. This is the first reported instance of Australians and New Zealanders being murdered by a drone.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 504 people have been killed since 2002 by American drone strikes in Yemen. This includes at least three US citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. The Obama administration has greatly expanded the “targeted killing” program and asserted the right to kill anyone, in any part of the world, including US citizens.

Following yesterday’s revelations, Washington’s close allies in Canberra and Wellington both indicated their full support for the assassination of their own citizens. This sets a dangerous new precedent in the assault on democratic rights by Australian and New Zealand governments, both outside and within their own countries.

The Australian’s report stated that the primary targets were three “militants,” including Abu Habib, allegedly a leading figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and former associate of Osama bin Laden.

A “senior counter-terrorism source” told the paper that US authorities notified Australian officials after the drone strike, saying the Australian and NZ citizens were “collateral damage.” The same source described the men as “foot soldiers” for AQAP and said there was “a suggestion they were involved in kidnapping Westerners for ransom.” No evidence has been produced to substantiate these claims.

Harvard’s stepfather Neil Dowrick told the paper that his son went to Yemen in 2011 “to teach English.” The family was only informed of his assassination in December. His grandmother, Jeanette Harvard, said she had “heard three different stories” from government agencies about how her grandson was killed. She said the government told the family they would have to pay $40,000 to repatriate her grandson’s remains.

A spokesperson for Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the paper that she was “briefed on the situation last year” but so far no government minister has commented in public….

Bishop’s Department of Foreign Affairs today defended the drone strike. A spokesperson told Fairfax Media that being an Australian citizen was “not a protection” for people “engaging in potentially criminal activity overseas.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key described the assassination as “legitimate … given that three of the people killed were well known al-Qaeda operatives.” In other words, both governments accept and are complicit in Washington’s lawless operations—killing anyone it likes, without any semblance of due legal process, on mere suspicion of criminality.

In a chilling editorial today, the Australian fully endorsed the drone strike program, brushing aside the deaths of bin John and Harvard as “regrettable.” It admitted that “many” of the 3,300 people killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen were “non-combatant civilians” but justified the murders on the basis that they prevented “the terrorists from committing even more atrocities.”

The Australian and New Zealand governments have not explained why the drone strike was kept secret from the public until now. Both claim that they had no prior knowledge of, or involvement in the strike, but this is highly unlikely. Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies were undoubtedly informed, if not directly involved.

Last July, Fairfax Media revealed that Washington was “critically dependent” on the joint US-Australian spy base Pine Gap to pinpoint targets for drone assassinations in the Middle East. According to the reports, based on leaked information, there were “personnel sitting in airconditioned offices in central Australia directly linked, on a minute-by-minute basis, to US and allied military operations in Afghanistan and, indeed, anywhere else across the eastern hemisphere.”

Key yesterday told the media he was aware of bin John’s presence in Yemen last year and had personally signed a warrant for NZ’s spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), to monitor him. Key claimed—without providing any evidence—that bin John had attended “some sort of terrorist training camp.”

The revelation that the GCSB was monitoring bin John before he was killed raises the question of whether they provided intelligence to their US counterparts, thus making the Key government an accomplice in the murder of its own citizen. Australia and New Zealand are part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which includes the US, Britain and Canada.

Until last August it was illegal for the GCSB to spy on NZ citizens and residents, but the law was changed—in the face of overwhelming public opposition—after a government-ordered review found that the agency had illegally spied on more than 85 people. The government can now lawfully spy on anyone it likes. It is not clear whether bin John was monitored before or after the law change.

Key used the revelations of the drone assassination to justify broadening the intelligence agency’s powers, telling reporters that it “shows … the things that I have been saying for quite some time—that we need our intelligence agencies to track our people, that there are New Zealanders who go and put themselves in harm’s way—have all been proven to be correct.”

New Zealand Green Party co-leader Russel Norman criticised Key for “saying it’s OK for foreign governments to execute New Zealanders offshore if they have beliefs about those New Zealand citizens holding views the US government doesn’t like.”

Here’s What Drone Attacks in America Would Look Like: here.

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Play about World War I on English stage


This video from Britain says about itself:

An August Bank Holiday Lark Trailer

24 February 2014

Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with the world premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s moving new play An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Set in the idyllic summer of 1914 rural Lancashire, everyone in the community is excited about Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers … but it will.

By Susan Darlington in England:

Theatre: An August Bank Holiday Lark

Thursday 17th April 2014

A new play movingly evokes the loss of community and tradition in WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON

An August Bank Holiday Lark

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

4 Stars

It’s unlikely that Michael Gove will approve of An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of WWI, Northern Broadside’s latest play certainly doesn’t celebrate it as a “just war.”

Rather, Deborah McAndrew’s gentle tale depicts the kind of village life creaking under the weight of holidays to Blackpool and votes for women even before the arrival of Kitchener‘s recruitment drive.

In the Pennine mill village where the play is set in 1914, the greatest worry is finding eight Morris men for the annual rush-cart festival and securing trim for the squire’s hat after an incident involving the neighbour’s chickens.

The war seems a distant threat yet it is an opportunity for top clog dancer Frank (Darren Kuppan) to prove his worthiness to wed the squire’s daughter Mary (Emily Butterfield) and a chance for young men to make a stand for “ideas.”

The poignancy of this vanishing community is beautifully captured during one of the key scenes when a rush-cart – a towering wagon piled with cut reeds and flowers – is constructed before the audience.

Accompanied by Conrad Nelson’s joyous music and exhilarating clog-dancing choreography, the festive spirit is such that when the cart is paraded around the stage with hapless jockey Herbert (Mark Thomas) waving from the top, the audience waves back.

Fast-forward a year and the community has been torn apart, with the lives of young millworkers lost in the Dardanelles and the women left behind contemplating a life without a sweetheart.

This shift in mood is powerfully signalled by Barrie Rutter as the squire. Having spent the first act being a parody of his larger than life persona, now he is a broken man symbolising the loss of life, community and tradition.

This sombre note contrasts sharply with the bantering humour earlier and, while the plot may occasionally be spread thinner than dripping, the play is superbly evocative and poignantly acted throughout.

Highly recommended.

Tours until June 14, details: www.northern-broadsides.co.uk.

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