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Sunday, 26 July 2009


I'll put the following news article in full, just because ninemsn doesn't keep its articles forever. The website address is available down the bottom. China is a very important trading partner with Australia, perhaps our most important. Most of our minerals get exported to China. Our prime minister is fluent in Mandarin.This is the latest news on the Melbourne International Film Festival:
Chinese hackers have sabotaged the website of Australia's biggest film festival over plans to screen a documentary about a Uighur activist China accuses of stirring unrest.
There has been a shift from about the nineties onwards where leaders are not recognising, or meeting, the Dalai Lama, at China's behest, and where the occupation of Tibet has been swept under the carpet. Of course, it is a popular cause, so various celebrities keep it in the news, but in South Africa recently, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu refused to attend a soccer celebration, also celebrating peace, as the Dalai Lama had been refused a visa by South African authorities. Certain elements think that Desmond Tutu is not a man for peace either. I strongly disagree with this, but opaqueness is the name of the game, baby. The public may be willing to do the right thing, but our governments sure ain't.

The proliferation of the Net means that we can get more information than ever before, but we can also get more false information than before, and it can look very professional and it can pervade all levels of news. Of course this has always been the case, but I don't think that the spreading of propaganda and the sabotage of sites which put up differing views has ever been so easy or prolific.

One of the downsides, and there are many, to making sure that all production is done offshore means that you are, to a degree, held to the offshore country's politics and policies. Small presses, such as university presses in Australia, now print offshore. I remember a while ago that a book that was being printed about Queensland was refused printing in China due to it detailing a time when China and Tibet shared a border. The university chose to publish the book in Thailand.
On paper, Western companies can choose to take their work elsewhere if they can not get it printed in China. In the case of UNSW this meant engaging the services of a printer in Thailand. However, not all Western companies can afford to do this. Especially not if they have a standing contract with a Chinese printer and cannot go elsewhere due to time or financial constraints, or if they are part of a joint venture and have a stake in said printer.
The Dalai Lama, after all, in Chinese eyes is a dangerous criminal, or that is what the propaganda will tell you. Tibet has always been Chinese.

The Uighur Chinese are discriminated against. There is, as in Tibet, an active policy to replace them with the majority Han Chinese. There was a motto from 2000, "Go west young Han," meaning, such as in so many other trouble spots in the world, go forth and ethnically cleanse, by your very presence if not by your actions.

Of course, the rabid Islamphobia in the west means that China can also jump on this bandwagon and use it as a justification for its actions, in addition to knowing that many nations in the world depend upon it for trade.

I feel sorry for the organiser of this year's festival. Ken Loach has withdrawn his film due to concern about the Israeli embassy's involvement. Some Chinese directors, as detailed in the article below, have withdrawn their films due to the inclusion of a documentary on exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer. Also a Channel 4 interview with her.

I remember my Chinese students in New Zealand telling me that the student protests at Tiananmen Square which resulted in the deaths of protesters (estimates, 600-800) were some students who got some bad ideas and did something wrong. Such obfuscation exists in our own countries too, of course. On the Esplanade in Fremantle is a statue commemorating the Battle of Pinjarra. The Aboriginal people of the area call it the Massacre of Pinjarra, which seems more apt, and it was not a unique event. Yet, many Australians know nothing about it.

My students also told me that China would never attack another country and only ever took up arms when she had to defend herself. Now, I think that every country likes to think this of themselves, or like their citizens to think this. However, I guess that our school system tends to value critical thinking. Or some teachers do, and some students pick it up.

Anyway, one would think that our leaders had not put their ability to think critically in the complete pandering and pragmatic box. Of course Australia got rid of its secondary industries long ago, probably in the name of the free trade that benefits a few countries, and disadvantages most of the others, so, maybe we have no choice but to pander to China if we want our economy to stay afloat.

I wonder what repeats in history? The actual facts or the continual distortion of them so that no element of truth is ever known, and therefore such jingoistic and distorted actions, such as discrimination, land grabs, the perpetuation of human rights abuse not only never abate but are nurtured in perpetuity.

This link came via Australians for Palestine, and it should make interesting listening:
What then is the ethical position of a festival director in response to the
politics of cultural boycott?

Richard Moore of MIFF and Rod Webb, who was director of the Sydney Film
Festival in the l980s, during the apartheid years discuss the issues


Chinese hackers target Aussie film festival

12:07 AEST Sun Jul 26 2009

Chinese hackers have sabotaged the website of Australia's biggest film festival over plans to screen a documentary about a Uighur activist China accuses of stirring unrest.

Hackers attacked the Melbourne International Film Festival website yesterday, replacing information with the Chinese flag and leaving slogans criticising exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, The Age newspaper reported.
Chinese directors have already withdrawn their films over the August 8 screening of the Kadeer documentary and festival director Richard Moore has accused Chinese officials of trying to bully him into pulling the documentary.

The Age reported that festival staff had been inundated with abusive emails over Moore's refusal to withdraw the film and cancel Kadeer's invitation to attend the screening.

"The language has been vile," Moore told the newspaper. "It is obviously a concerted campaign to get us because we've refused to comply with the Chinese government's demands."

He said police were investigating the website attacks, which appeared to come from a Chinese Internet address, and private security guards would be on hand to protect Kadeer and film-goers at next month's screening.

The website appeared to be working normally Sunday and festival organisers were not immediately available for comment.

Kadeer, the US-based head of the World Uighur Congress, is the subject of the documentary "Ten Conditions of Love" by Australian Jeff Daniels.
The Chinese government accuses her of masterminding violent unrest that broke out in China's northwestern Xinjiang region on July 5 that left more than 190 people dead. She denies the charges.

The Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group who mainly live in western Xinjiang province, complain of political and religious repression under Chinese rule.
Chinese directors Tang Xiaobai and Jia Zhangke withdrew their films from the festival last week, citing the Kadeer documentary's inclusion.

Tang said she decided to boycott the event after receiving calls from government officials but insisted she was not pressured and the decision was her own.

Retrieved July 26, 2009 from

Thursday, 23 July 2009

nightly occurence

A night demonstration
Over 100 Palestinians, international and Israeli activists attended a night demonstration in bilin protesting ongoing recently nightly invasions to the village by the Israeli army. photo by oren ziv/ [my emphasis].

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

when is an autocrat not an autocrat? when he's a democrat

Something's rotten in the state of Denmark. The minute people and the governments some of them elect condone torture, imprisonment without trial, the whittling away of civil liberties and human rights, the further development of unfair systems of 'justice', the sooner the whole population is at risk of being victims of these very same methods, restrictions and systems. They may not end up being victims in their day-to-day insulated life, but you never know, and the imprisonment of people from other lands without trial is sure to cause some form of backlash; it is naive to think it won't and doesn't. If democracies think these are democratic principals, then new words and definitions are needed for autocracy and for those who uphold autocrats and the abuses that often accompany and fortify their rule.
The Queen's pronouncement -- "Sentence first -- verdict afterward" -- is a fine expression of Obama's approach here: these prisoners are decreed to be Dangerous and Guilty and are sentenced to prolonged, indefinite imprisonment and must not be released; now let's tailor a process for each of them to ensure that this verdict is produced. It's far better to dispense with the ludicrous facade, simply imprison everyone the President wants with no charges, and let the world and the citizenry see what we're really doing.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

we are forced to make a choice

Good news. Director Ken Loach has withdrawn his movie from the upcoming Melbourne International Film Festival due to the involvement of the Israeli Embassy. Ken Loach films are always pretty popular on the indie-circuit, and I've seen some I've loved, some I thought were Okay, and some I absolutely hated.

From an article on AFP comes the following:
This is not Ken Loach’s first principled stand on the issue: the Edinburgh Film Festival returned money to the Israeli embassy after Ken Loach asked it to reconsider Israel’s sponsorship. However, it does not seem that Melbourne’s festival organisers have any intention of following suit. We hope that Australians will protest in their own way and send a message to our government and institutions that we are not supportive of any cultural or business arrangements with a racist state
The correspondence, as appeared on the AFP site, is also throughout this post. Click on the images to enlarge. Ken Loach, writer Paul Laverty and producer Rebecca O'Brien from Sixteen Films all signed them, however, the festival organiser only directed his reply to Rebecca O'Brien - interesting, or maybe that is standard.

An excerpt from the first letter states:
As you are no doubt aware, many Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel.
The letter then lists some of the reasons which can be found throughout this blog and anywhere except mainstream media. It continues:
The Israeli [my emphasis] Poet, Aharon Shabtai, has said:
"I do not believe a state that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural event"
This is not a boycott of independent Israeli films or filmakers but of the Israeli state [my emphasis].
The response from Richard Moore outlines the other sponsors of the events from various countries including Taiwan, China and Korea; films that have been submitted by Middle Eastern directors, including Palestinian films and wonderfully sympathetic Israeli films such as "Lemon Tree". It includes the fact that it has focused on the ongoing occupation and the results thereof for quite some time.
Loach, O'brien and Laverty respond thusly:
We understand Israel is and has been festivals, including some which have shown our films. However, situations change. It is the Palestinians themselves, writers, artists, academics, people from all walks of life, who are calling for our support. We are forced to make a choice by those suffering such intolerable oppression.

The boycott of apartheid South Africa suffered similar criticisms to the ones you know make. But who would now say it was wrong?
Read all of the letters (they are short) to get more information, and to realise that Loach, et al. know that their own governments have been just as guilty of war crimes. They finish by saying
But the cultural boycott called for by the Palestinians means that remaining sympathetic but detached observers is no longer an option. You either support the boycott or break it. For us the choice is clear.

I think that the anti-apartheid movement around the world in support of human rights in South Africa gained so much momentum because the people of the world who could see that atrocities were being committed on a continual basis were not being protested by their governments. Though, the South African cricket team did not play against Australia fro a very long time. The same with this situation. In fact, western governments, particularly Australia and the United States, overtly support this suppression and oppression. So, good on Ken Loach, and let's hope that Australia one day politically matures and becomes independent enough that it too can follow in footsteps of the organisers of the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Obama, ironically enough, stated there were many people out there on the wrong side of history. I feel, and I hope that in the future in more peaceful times we will be able to look back and level this observations at the supporters of any form of occupation around the world.

Of course there are many young or youngish people who are supporting the Palestinians in their fight for their rights, but a vast majority have been doing it for many years, are in their sixties at least, and are not what I would term radical. Here is Dennis James in Gaza talking about his reaction to seeing Palestinian fishermen being attacked by the Israeli navy, and how he thinks American attitudes have shifted. The news comes via AFP and Mondoweiss.


If anyone in Melbourne would like to help the AFP out at the Melbourne International Film Festival in protesting about the treatment of people in Palestine, the following has been posted on their website:
Supporters of Palestine will be staging a nonviolent protest at the opening of the film festival at 6.30pm on Friday 24 July outside Hamer Hall, The Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne and giving out protest cards to people attending the screening of the Australian film “Balibo”. Please join us. Other sessions will be picketed over the two weeks of the festival and if you wish to help distribute cards, please contact Moammar at

a great journalist pays respects

Some friends of mine are mourning the passing of Walter Cronkite. I respect these friends greatly, so I know they have good reason to mourn even though I do not know very much about Cronkite. I do know more about Glenn Greenwald, who seems to be doing the job that journalists should be doing, and who held Cronkite in regard for that reason. Seeing as the mass media's role nowadays is to drench us in sensationalism and dancing gals, or sparkly stars and their spangly underwear, I appreciate his comments such as this one:
So, too, with the death of Walter Cronkite. Tellingly, his most celebrated and significant moment -- Greg Mitchell says "this broadcast would help save many thousands of lives, U.S. and Vietnamese, perhaps even a million" -- was when he stood up and announced that Americans shouldn't trust the statements being made about the war by the U.S. Government and military, and that the specific claims they were making were almost certainly false. In other words, Cronkite's best moment was when he did exactly that which the modern journalist today insists they must not ever do -- directly contradict claims from government and military officials and suggest that such claims should not be believed. These days, our leading media outlets won't even use words that are disapproved of by the Government. Read more.
Of course, those mass media outlets are also those which have traditionally brought a more balanced type of news, such as the New York Times and NPR; in Australia, the Australian before Murdoch bought it.

chaser chases yoo

I know it's not really nice to criticise other countries, but then, two Australians, Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, did end up at Guantanamo. Via Loewenstein and Common Dreams Org. is this skit, or actual attempted interview of John Yoo, by the Australian comedy team The Chaser's War on Everything. They were confronting, non-violently, Yoo, who was one of the authors of the Bush administration's torture policy. He is now a law professor at Berkley.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

why is this okay?

From ISM and Mondoweiss. Why do we think that the kidnapping of 70 men and boys by Israeli forces, since 2008, for protesting the building of a wall which will, for all intents and purposes, jail them in the oft-quoted open-air prison, and which will block and blocks them off from the land they have lived on all their lives and for many generations - why do we think this kidnapping, and the building of the wall is okay? The occupation, even?

Why do we think it is okay to herd people into queues like sheep waiting for a dip? Think it is okay to limit their movement? Why do we think it is okay to deny people medication and goods? Why do we think it is okay deny people their land and livelihoods?

PHOTO: Rina Castelnuovo, New York Times

Article found here.


Some good news on the international stage at a kind of quietly family, domestic level. it is coming to you about a month late, so the woman should almost be home. I bring it up now because it is good news, and I recall lightly touching upon it previously:
The family of an Australian woman jailed in Kuwait for insulting the emir have been celebrating after the country's surprise decision to suspend her sentence.
The woman suffers from quite severe health problems, and her family was in Kuwait among some 100,000 stateless Arabs as Bedoons, the article says, or Bedouin, I think, though I could be wrong, before receiving Australian citizenship. She had returned to the area to visit family.

There are a lot of people without a state in this region. Of course, the misplaced Palestinians who are not allowed to return home, yet do not have a home to return to in many cases, and the many Bedouin.

I am glad to hear that the . . . Australian ambassador to Kuwait had lobbied strongly on her behalf, holding three meetings with senior officials. Though I don't know that three meetings is 'lobbying strongly', but if it works, it works.

Friday, 10 July 2009

the more things change...

Glenn Greenwald on the mainstream media's (in this case, the New York Times) penchant for repeating hearsay as fact and thereby making it so. The article below, and also the article Greenwald is referencing are both worth reading.
So here we have an Afghan citizen, not captured on any battlefield, who naively thought that he would be given a "trial" before being locked in a cage indefinitely by the U.S. He obviously hadn't heard that the U.S. is a country-- because of people like this -- that knows "trials" are obsolete and insists that we can abduct anyone we want from around the world and lock them away forever without such bothersome procedures. Wakil surely knows that by now, which is why he fears -- quite reasonably -- that he'll be locked away again with no trial based on the Pentagon's anonymous accusations against him (and based on the current President's demand for the power to keep people imprisoned "preventively" -- i.e., with no charges or trials).
Also, from July 8th The Obama Justice System.

surely god is a book lover, or the security threat that is michael palin

Books or soldiers? The closure of Palfest literary festival 2009 by Israeli soldiers.

Surely God is a Lover is a Paul Kelly song. You can have a listen if you go to his homepage and register for the A-Z songs (free), then go to 'S' and download from there. The 'S' songs will only be up for a month. Thereafter you can download them from Robin Bell Books.

There would be others who would argue that Surely God is a Book Lover. I know there are many out there who love books more than life itself, figuratively speaking, whether they love or believe in God or not. Therefore, the following report even though a little old, should be as distressing to them as it is to me.
Walking miles in Palestinian feet
By Claire Messud June 29, 2009

I RECENTLY returned from a literary festival that was to have opened and closed in Jerusalem; but which, to our surprise, opened in France and closed in the United Kingdom.

Some 20-odd writers from the world over - including the popular British travel writer and comedian Michael Palin; Sweden’s preeminent thriller writer Henning Mankell; and Canada’s Giller Prize-winning M.G. Vassanji - found our events at Jerusalem’s Palestine National Theater shut down by machine-gun toting Israeli soldiers in flak jackets. On the first evening, with a Gallic flourish, Jean-Paul Ghoneim of the French Consulate opened the French Cultural Center impromptu, and hosted our event on nominally French soil: we paraded through the streets in our party clothes, bearing trays of canapés and looking, I’m sure, very threatening indeed.

By the festival’s closing night, the British Consul General Richard Makepeace had made plans to welcome us at the British Council - which was fitting because the British Council was the festival’s primary sponsor.

Closing night at the British Council

You might well ask how a bunch of novelists and nonfiction writers could be so dangerous as to require a military-ordained ban in a democratic country. I can’t tell you; except that our literary festival had the word “Palestine’’ in its title, and the use of this word in Jerusalem apparently constitutes a security threat. The city has been declared the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009, and according to Palestinians we met, the Jerusalem police have shut down more cultural events than they have permitted - including the timed release, by schoolchildren, of colored balloons in celebration of Al-Quds. Balloons are also a security risk.

During the week of the Palestine Festival of Literature (Palfest for short), we gave readings in Ramallah and Bethlehem as well as in Jerusalem, and taught workshops at universities in Ramallah, Jenin, and Hebron.

Panel in Bethlehem

We lumbered about in a great tour bus, repeatedly grateful for our foreign passports (nowhere have I been more conscious of the liberating power of my US citizenship); but still, privileged as we were, we waited interminably at borders and checkpoints, in the shadow of the vast, ugly hopelessness that is the Wall, under the panopticon scrutiny of the watchtowers. We answered questions barked by teenagers at the point of their guns. We got a very small taste of what it’s like to be Palestinian. Members of our group likened it to living under apartheid; to Orwell’s “1984’’; to Kafka. But none of these allusions fully conveys the disturbing psychological experiment currently perpetrated on Palestinians in the West Bank. Read more
Sonja Karkar from Australian Women for Palestine and Australians for Palestine, which first drew my attention to this article here (the photos in this article are from the AFP article) points out the following:
The closure occurred - according to an Israeli police spokesman and reported by The Guardian’s Micky Rosenfeld - because Israel believed it was organised or funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA), despite being supported by UNESCO and the British Council. Now, if Israel thought it was organised and funded by Hamas, it would have made more sense, but the PA, the governing body of the Palestinian state that US President Obama and other world leaders are so committed to seeing emerge? The PA that has just been offered $10 million in aid by our deputy prime Minister Julia Gillard? So much for that “shining light on the hill” democracy that journalists and politicians are all too eager to laud without questioning how that phrase ever came to be coined.

Similar news here of the prevention of a folklore and creative dance evening from convening in East Jerusalem.

El Funoun dance company

Sonja Karkar also points out that Israel has a cultural partnership with the Melbourne International Film Festival being held from 24 July – 9 August and is asking anyone who wants to help protest such a partnership to please contact AFP. Contact details can be found on their website, here.

There are many writers, performers, commenters, activists and so on who protest Israel's actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, despite the blanket support their governments seem to provide for all Israeli actions. Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Haruki Murakami and Naomi Klein are among them. There are many Israelis, themselves, who are not happy with the state sponsored terrorism, as it has been so eloquently put, since at least the seventies, regarding the well-detailed Israeli encroachment on Palestinian lands and lives every day, in every way.

our fearful leaders

More from Antony Loewenstein's blog from an article, surprisingly enough, from the Sydney Morning Herald; maybe the only mainstream media in Australia which runs the occasional honest story on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This paragraph particularly drives home the fact that our politicians have sold out their scruples for safe seats or something similar. How could any politician worth their salt be ignorant of the situation in Palestine? Julia Gillard is our deputy Prime Minister, and there was not one word of protest from her in late December when Israel decided to unleash Operation Cast Lead on Gaza. She has recently returned from a junket to Israel (my emphasis):
Gillard's don't-mention-Gaza stance puts Australia further into Israel's camp than any other country, including the United States. Cynthia McKinney, the former US congresswoman who was on the ship, points out that President Barack Obama called the blockade "unjust" and urged its lifting, so she, as an American citizen, was attempting to carry out his wishes.
With such a small Jewish population in Australia, the driving force behind our politicians' actions must be either international pressure, and/or media ownership and influence. It seems to be an area in which on the surface we should be able to remove the blinkers and do what is right, but the politicians obviously put their careers ahead of humanity.

Whilst Gillard was in Israel, the Israeli authorities committed an act of piracy by boarding and kidnapping a ship full of human rights workers, including the above Cynthia McKinney, bound for Gaza. The ship was in international waters, so it is piracy. Israel has done this a number of times. At the start of the war on Gaza they rammed and boarded a ship that I think McKinney was also on. Noam Chomsky has also stated that it is piracy. An act that breaks international law. The article continues (including the above paragraph):
A study of the transcripts of Ms Gillard's speeches and interviews, from her recent trip to Israel and Ramallah, reveals that the word "Gaza" did not once pass her lips. Challenged by a reporter to say whether she believed Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was "fair and just", she avoided the question and retreated into platitudes: "We are concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people".

This amounts to connivance with what the late Israeli political scientist Baruch Kimmerling called "politicide": Israel's desire to have the outside world forget Palestinian political aspirations to self-determination, and regard their struggle in purely humanitarian terms.

Gillard's don't-mention-Gaza stance puts Australia further into Israel's camp than any other country, including the United States. Cynthia McKinney, the former US congresswoman who was on the ship, points out that President Barack Obama called the blockade "unjust" and urged its lifting, so she, as an American citizen, was attempting to carry out his wishes.

The European Union responded to Cast Lead by shelving plans to upgrade its trading relations with Israel, and even ASEAN, through the Heads Statement of its 14th summit, identified Israel's attack as the cause of a humanitarian crisis, and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Gillard, standing in for the Prime Minister at New Year, characterised the onslaught as no more than Israel exercising its "right to defend itself" against Hamas. Hamas, she told her questioners in the Middle East, would first have to "renounce violence" if it wanted to qualify as a partner in any peace process sponsored by the "quartet" of the UN, EU, US and Russia.

The home-made rockets that Hamas militiamen fired into Israel were indiscriminate weapons, and the 20 or so deaths they caused over several years are war crimes, but all independent observers have pointed out the obvious - that pales into insignificance when compared with the impact of Israel's high-tech weaponry, which claimed 1300 lives, mostly civilians and including 400 children, and injured thousands. No stipulation from Australia, then, that Israel must also renounce violence as a precondition to have its views heard at the top table.

Israel is aware of acting within the scope allowed by international political opinion: it does what it believes it can get away with. The unexpected firmness of the White House on settlement-building had constrained its room for manoeuvre. Gillard paid lip service to a settlement freeze and a two-state solution - but her visit as the leader of a large delegation, her demeanour and above all her refusal to condemn Israeli lawlessness or call for it to cease, all conspired to send the opposite signal.

Thousands of people whose homes Israel destroyed are still without shelter, says the International Committee of the Red Cross, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

It is this situation that the passengers and crew of the illegally seized vessel were trying to remedy. They have vowed to send more boats. Israel should let them pass, and Australia should say so. Read more.

$2.2 billion in aid to Israel approved

From Jews sans Frontieres, and it is the first story that interests me most. It seems only available on tweets and so on at the moment, but maybe I'm just running down the wrong avenues. No doubt, Rueters is a news service, after all. Just for all those that might have mistakenly thought that foreign aid was for the needy, and not for economically strong nations with a disposition for war-mongery, occupation and continuing human rights abuses.
Quick JSF:
•U.S. House of Representatives okays $2.2 billion in aid to Israel (Reuters) about 4 hours ago
•The latest on Leonard about 10 hours ago
•What's next - Judensraum? about 15 hours ago
•Video: Jordanian goons beat apartheid fruit boycotters about 18 hours ago
•The revolution will not be photoshopped : about 23 hours ago
•Wusses: EU retracts criticism of Israeli settlements 1 day ago
•US denies Ma'ariv settlement deal report 1 day ago
•Satmar support for Obama M.E. policy 1 day ago
I'll put up the whole story when I can.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

mixed opinions

World Public Opinion is an interesting site. There is a little bit of information below., a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. The margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percent. Not all questions were asked in all nations. The survey was conducted between April 4 and June 12, 2009, prior to Obama's speech in Cairo but subsequent to his Ankara speech. Funding for this research was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Calvert Foundation.
They recently conducted a poll on on how Obama and US foreign policy was viewed as follows: conducted the poll of 19,923 respondents in 20 nations that comprise 62 percent of the world's population. This includes most of the largest nations--China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia--as well as Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea. Polling was also conducted in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Their results can be summed up in the title, which is:

Though Obama Viewed Positively,
Still Much Criticism of US Foreign Policy: Global Poll

It's quite a well balanced poll, as most of the polls from this site seem to be, and results are not as black and white as the title might lead you to believe. Here is a wee excerpt, showing the mix of opinions, and I have picked out a more negative example. So, mainly Obama is viewed favourably except maybe in those countries most strongly affected by U.S. foreign policy. U.S. foreign policy itself does not get such a thumbs up:
Views of Obama are especially positive among Europeans including 92 percent of the British, 89 percent of the Germans, and 88 percent of the French. Even a majority of the Chinese concur (55%). The exceptions are majority-Muslim nations and Russia. Those saying they have not too much confidence or no confidence at all include majorities in the Palestinian territories (67%), Pakistan (62%), Egypt (60%), and Iraq (57%) as well as Russia (55%).

But on average, only one in four agrees that the US is "an important leader in promoting international laws and sets a good example by following them," while two-thirds say "the US tries to promote international laws for other countries, but is hypocritical because it does not follow these rules itself." Here too, overall, there has been no significant change from 2008. The most negative are France (79%) and Egypt (78%). Even in America's close ally Britain three-quarters say the US is hypocritical. Kenya and Nigeria are the only nations that give the US good grades (55% and 52% respectively) on complying with international law.

Americans, though, think the US has changed on this front. While in 2008 a majority of Americans (54%) agreed that the US was hypocritical, now 56 percent say the US sets a good example by following international law
. Read more.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Ask your congressman what crime is being committed by giving the people in Gaza medicines, toys, and pencils?

From Chroniques de Palestine:

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home

The story can be found here, and here and here.

From the Jewish Voice for Peace:

We have just learned that a few hours ago, Israel illegally, in international waters, seized the 'Spirit of Humanity,' a boat carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid. The boat is being forcibly towed to an Israeli port.

Also seized with the boat are 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat holds medicine, toys, and other much needed humanitarian relief for the Palestinians living in Gaza under siege. Its cargo was searched and it received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before departure.

Call your Congressperson and your Senators today. Ask them to call the Israeli Embassy and to call the U.S. State Department demanding that the boat and its occupants be released, together with their humanitarian cargo, and that they be allowed to dock in Gaza.

Ask them what crime is being committed by giving the people in Gaza medicines, toys, and pencils?

Also, from the Free Gaza website via Australians for Palestine:

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their
assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights
workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370

Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009


Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith:
CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their
assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights
workers and help in securing their immediate release!
this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr