German government attacks bloggers exposing Internet censorship as ‘traitors’


This video says about itself:

German spy leaks website being investigated

30 July 2015

Germany’s federal prosecutors are investigating whether a website has committed treason.

Netzpolitik.org reported on plans to expand the country’s domestic surveillance of online communication earlier in the year.

The site says it has received a letter from prosecutors announcing the probe against two of its journalists and an unidentified source.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

German prosecutor investigates ‘treason’ by journalists

Today, 19:36

The German Public Prosecution Service is investigating two journalists for possible treason. The two have published on their blog excerpts from secret documents of the Stasi.

Stasi? Well, Google Translate translated as ‘Stasi’ here. However, that was the name of the secret service of the late German Democratic Republic, disbanded in 1990. While the NOS means one of the present secret services of the German Federal Republic, the Verfassungsschutz. Different name? Yes. Different practice? Not always so sure.

The investigation should find out whether the publications in the blog Netzpolitik.org also revealed actual state secrets. In two articles, which were published in February and April, they described plans to expand the surveillance of the Internet. The articles are based on leaked documents.

The investigation focuses on editor Mark Beckedahl, editor Andre Meister and the sources for the articles. Journalists call it an intimidation attempt and an attack on press freedom. “It’s quite long ago that Germany acted against journalists and their sources like this.”

Homophobic knife attack on Jerusalem Pride marchers


This video from Israel says about itself:

30 July 2015

Six people stabbed at Jerusalem gay pride march ‘by ultra-Orthodox Jew released from jail three weeks ago for identical attack in 2005′.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Participants at Gay Pride Jerusalem stabbed

Today, 18:38

At the Gay Pride march in Jerusalem six participants have been stabbed. Two of them are seriously injured, Israeli emergency services say.

On pictures one can see that the alleged offender, an ultra-orthodox Jew, is arrested. He is the man who ten years ago at the Gay Pride in the Israeli capital conducted a similar attack. Then, four people were injured. The man was convicted to twelve years in prison and was released three weeks ago.

Struggle

“We heard people screaming, everyone tried to get themselves to safety. Bloodied people lying on the ground,” says a witness.

Despite the stabbing, the march continued. “Our struggle for equality will only get stronger because of this,” said the organization.

Ultra-Orthodox man stabs six people at gay pride march in Jerusalem. Yishai Schlissel had recently been released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing three people at a gay pride parade in 2005, police said: here.

Free Bahraini political prisoners


This video says about itself:

#SingaceHungerStrike – NGOs protest ongoing detention of Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace in Bahrain

29 July 2015

On Wednesday, 29 July 2015, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), English PEN and Index on Censorship gathered outside the Bahrain Embassy in London to protest the ongoing detention of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace.

Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace is a prominent academic and blogger who promoted human rights in Bahrain throughout the years 2000. After participating in peaceful protests, he was tried by a military court in June 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

See also here. And here.

Sandra Bland, after her death in Texas, USA


Sandra Bland

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sandra Bland’s death in police custody puts spotlight on Texas jail standards

More than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade, and Waller County, where Bland died, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations that could have prevented her death

Tom Dart in Houston

Wednesday 29 July 2015 12.00 BST

If it makes no logical sense that a young and seemingly happy woman would kill herself days after being offered a new job, then the death of Sandra Bland is an anomaly on a statistical level as well.

The official, hotly disputed account is that the 28-year-old hanged herself in her cell on 13 July. If that is true she is the first African American woman to kill herself in a Texas county jail since the state’s standards agency started keeping death records.

Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said that 140 inmates in Texas county jails have killed themselves since 2009, mostly white men. Suicide, usually by hanging, represents about one-third of the total deaths. Bland’s gender and race mark her out as unique.

Deaths in custody, though, are anything but rare. Officially, more than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade – a figure that includes those killed during attempted arrests or while restrained, as well as those who are incarcerated.

Half of them fell under the responsibility of the state prisons department, which typically holds inmates serving sentences of more than a year. Those in county jails are usually serving short sentences or are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted, like Bland. At the end of 2013, according to federal statistics, Texas held 168,280 prisoners – more than any other state.

Across the country, 958 inmates died in local jails in 2012, according to an analysis last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics – an increase of 8% from 2011. The average annual suicide rate for white inmates between 2000 and 2012 was at least three times higher than the rate for black or Hispanic prisoners.

In Houston alone there have been four deaths in the past eight days, one an apparent suicide of a man who had been screened for mental health issues about 12 hours earlier. “You have a constitutional right to be protected from harm in custody and that includes protection from harming yourself,” said Amin Alehashem, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Houston. The project plans to launch legal action against a Houston-area sheriff on Wednesday in a jail suicide case.

Alehashem said that as well as basic failings that vary from county to county, the length of pre-trial detention is a fundamental problem. The majority of inmates in Harris County’s jail, which encompasses Houston, are there because they cannot afford to make bond, he said.

Bland was seemingly unable to raise money for her bond immediately, meaning she was held over the weekend, alone in her cell. “Individuals that don’t have access to resources are confined and it has immediate consequences on mental health,” Alehashem said.

Bland was said to have asphyxiated herself using a plastic trash bag. Wood said that the use of trash bags is “not something that we are looking at prohibiting” because “she could just as easily have used her inmate clothing, her undergarments, her bedding, towels.”

But the Waller County jail, near Houston, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations in recent years, including after the 2012 suicide of a 29-year-old man.

An inspection in the wake of Bland’s death cited a failure to check on inmates in person at least once an hour and a lack of mental health training. The jail has 30 days to come up with a plan to rectify the problems. Wood’s agency has also spoken to officials about the failure to follow mental health assessment guidelines after she indicated on a screening questionnaire that she had previously attempted suicide and felt depressed.

That should have prompted jailers to contact a magistrate for a decision on whether to have her assessed by a mental health professional. But she was not even placed on suicide watch, which would have seen her checked more frequently and probably put in a cell covered by a camera.

Elton Mathis, the Waller County district attorney, released a toxicology report on Monday which indicated that Bland had marijuana in her system at the time of her death. Warren Diepraam, a county prosector, did not rule out the possibility that she had ingested the drug while in jail. Bland’s jail records and the dashcam video from the traffic stop that precipitated her arrest do not indicate that law enforcement officers suspected she was high on drugs at the time.

Michael McCabe, a toxicology expert with Robson Forensic in Philadelphia, reviewed the report for the Guardian and said that if the levels found in Bland’s blood had come from a living person they would indicate that she had smoked marijuana within a few hours of the sample collection. But, he said, given the faster rate at which the main chemical is released from body fat stores after death, it is not possible from the results to make a definitive conclusion that she was using marijuana or under the influence of marijuana at the time of her arrest or death.

Glenn Smith, the Waller County sheriff, said last week that he has asked a local attorney to form an independent panel to investigate his department’s procedures and performance. Mathis told reporters on Monday that he is forming a committee of outside attorneys to examine Bland’s case with a view to possible criminal charges that would be presented to a grand jury, probably next month.

Regardless of the autopsy results, for many in the local community and beyond, the jail’s errors, the mishandled traffic stop on the afternoon of 10 July that quickly escalated into confrontation and the context – a white trooper waiting in his car just outside the campus of a mainly black university who drives up behind Bland, prompting her to move across, then pulls her over for failing to signal a lane change – blame her death on institutional incompetence and bias.

“Waller County should be held accountable because she died in their care, custody and control,” said DeWayne Charleston, who became the county’s first black justice of the peace in 2003.

“Sandra Bland was entitled to proper medical care, entitled that everything about her care brought her safety and security,” he said, adding that he had previously spent time in the jail because of his activism. He speculated that anyone brought in on suspicion of assaulting an officer, like Bland, would not have received sympathetic treatment from staff.

He is not persuaded by Mathis’s announcement or his promises of a transparent and thorough investigation. “I don’t have any confidence in the fact that he has not made a commitment that he would bind himself to the recommendations,” he said. “I think he should just recuse himself. The trust is too far gone.”

Last week the sheriff’s office said in a statement: “All plastic trash liners have been removed from all cells in the Waller County Jail, pending further direction from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The two deficiencies noted by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards … are being corrected and all inmates are monitored hourly for face-to-face observation.”

The full dashboard video of Sandra Bland’s arrest is nearly fifty minutes long, and can be viewed on YouTube. It has the quality of nightmare, because it starts off so routinely and goes so badly. Sandra Bland was a twenty-eight-year-old African-American woman who was driving from Chicago to East Texas, to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. At home in Illinois, she was active in her church and close to her family. She had taken a keen interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and in the problem of police abuse of authority. At first, the conversation between Bland and Encinia is relatively civil; Bland expresses her unhappiness at being stopped. But she sounds calm, like a reasonable person educated about her rights, and in a hurry to be on her way: here.

‘My Baby Did Not Take Herself Out': Friends, Family Share Stories of Sandra Bland: here.

From Equality Texas:

In Sandra Bland’s Death, Echos of LGBT History

July 29, 2015

On March 8th, 1970, New York Police raided the Snake Pit Bar, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, arresting all 167 patrons and staff present.

Diego Vinales, a 23-year old undocumented Argentinian immigrant was one of those arrested. Depending on which account you believe Vinales either, fearing deportation, jumped from a 2nd story window in an attempt to escape and was impaled on the wrought iron fence below, or was pushed out of the window by police officers.

In a flyer protesting the police violence against Vinales the Gay Activist Alliance said “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed… Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.”

OHIO COP INDICTED FOR MURDER AFTER TRAFFIC STOP “A University of Cincinnati police officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying the officer ‘purposely killed him’ and ‘should never have been a police officer.'” Take a look at the latest graphic from The Washington Post regarding the number of people shot dead by the police this year, as well as The New York Times‘ compilation of videos that are “putting race and policing in sharp relief.” [AP]

Can This Software Prevent Acts of Police Brutality? Here.

‘Rihanna’s Freddie Gray concert plan blocked by Baltimore, USA police’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Rihanna, Nas, Alicia Keys: Superstars react to Ferguson grand jury decision

25 November 2014

Social media has been set ablaze after the police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed Michael Brown was not indicted by a grand jury in the murder trial in Ferguson, Missouri yesterday and big stars are now reacting differently from all over the world. Rihanna, Nas, Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Gabrielle Union, Keri Hilson, Katy Perry, Michelle Williams, Ludacris and many more jumped on social media to air their views on the shocking verdict which has now left the city of Ferguson in complete violence.

RiRi posted a picture on her Instagram of a board which read: ‘Justice for – (I left it blank) because I’ll probably need this next year‘ and captioned it “Fact”.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Rihanna’s Freddie Gray concert was blocked by Baltimore police – reports

Singer had planned to walk with protesters and give free concert for 25-year-old African American man who died in police custody

Nadia Khomami

Wednesday 29 July 2015 12.34 BST

Rihanna was reportedly blocked by Baltimore police from playing a free concert for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African American man who was fatally injured by six police officers in April.

According to newly released emails between police and the singer’s representatives, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, Rihanna wanted to go to Baltimore in the week after race-related rioting broke out, to walk with protesters and perform a free concert.

In a message dated 1 May sent to Captain Eric Kowalczyk, the then head of media relations for Baltimore police, an officer detailed a conversation he had with a representative for the singer. He said the representative advised that Rihanna would arrive by plane and “in an effort to divert press/media she will be travelling to the city by train (or by car if necessary)”.

The officer added that the representative “had hoped to secure some extra police security and was directed by the governor’s office to seek assistance through communications”.

The email was forwarded to Anthony Batts, the then Baltimore police commissioner, and Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The possible concert was also mentioned in a situation report on 1 May, which revealed the location to be the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues, the focal point of the protests. “Possible Rihanna Concert at Penn & North,” it read. “No time given. Police are claiming they have no permit so it will not be allowed.”

A state of emergency was declared in Baltimore amid widespread civil unrest across the city following Gray’s death, which a medical examiner ruled was a result of spinal injuries inflicted by arresting officers. Criminal charges including murder and manslaughter have since been brought against the officers involved.

During the unrest, Rihanna posted on Instagram a picture taken by Baltimore photographer Devin Allen of a black police officer with tear-filled eyes. The picture was accompanied with a crying emoji.

Other musicians who expressed concern about the situation included Kelly Rowland, Gerard Way, and Prince, who played a show at the city’s Royal Farms Arena on 10 May. The concert, Rally 4 Peace, was broadcast live by Tidal, the livestreaming company backed by rapper Jay Z.

Erdogan, stop bombing Kurds in Iraq, Iraqi government says


Erdogan and Syrian Kurds

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Iraq condemns bombing of PKK camps

Today, 14:55

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has condemned the Turkish bombardment of PKK camps in northern Iraq. He sees the attacks as a serious violation of the independence of Iraq and fears a “dangerous escalation” of conflicts.

Abadi calls on the Turks in order to avoid further escalation and find a solution to the crisis.

Turkey has intensified the attacks on the armed wing of the PKK after the NATO allies yesterday proclaimed their support to Turkey’s approach to terrorism.

The approach of the Turkish Erdogan government to terrorism is now: a few symbolic actions against ISIS terrorists who had used Turkey as their base for violence in Syria for a long time; and many more attacks on the only effective force fighting these ISIS terrorists: the Kurds in Syria, in Turkey, in Iraq.

In an article on the site of NOS TV from the Netherlands, Kurds in Iraq describe the Turkish armed forces as ‘the air force of ISIS’.