Sunday, October 22, 2017

NGO Action News

Last week's NGO Action News has just been published. The newsletter summarizes activities undertaken or planned by civil society organisations across the globe as well as UN action on the question of Palestine over the week. Please feel free to inform us about your activities and publications by emailing us at and to forward this newsletter to your supporters. We welcome your organization's contributions, questions or comments. 
Best wishes,

Division for Palestinian Rights
Department of Political Affairs

United Nations

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·         On 10 October, Amnesty International re-issued an Urgent Action calling for the release of Palestinian parliamentarian and civil society leader Khalida Jarrar, unless charged with an internationally recognized criminal offence. The organization also reiterated its call for an end to the practice of administrative detention.

Middle East 
·         On 8 October, the 2017 two-week Journey for Peace organized by Women Wage Peace ended with a rally in Jerusalem. The event was attended by thousands of Israelis and Palestinians calling for negotiations with the participation of women and a peace agreement. For background information about Women Wage Peace, see the interview conducted by American Jewish Peace Archive with Anat Saragusti, one of the leaders of the movement.

North America
·         On 6 November, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is hosting in Berkeley, California, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Al Mubadara for a talk on “100 Years after the Balfour Declaration: The Anti-Colonial Struggle in Palestine. 

·         On 24 October, independent analyst Mouin Rabbani will hold at George Mason University the Middle East and Islamic Studies annual lecture“Palestine: Anatomy of an Abyss”

.·         Churches for Middle Peace (CMEP) will be hosting conversations with Daoud Nassar from Tent of Nations about life in Palestine, human rights and peacebuilding in Washington, D.C. on 16-17 October; Seattle, Washington, on 18-20 October; and in North Carolina, on 21-22 October.

·         On 11 October, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint arguing that a Kansas law requiring all state contractors to certify that they are not boycotting Israel violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In an article published in the New York Times the same day, Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal, stated that the lawsuit was a “really important step to make sure that our right to dissent is protected”.

 Europe·         On 17 November, Independent Jewish Voices is inviting to a screening of its “100 Years of Balfour” at the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image in London. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

·         On 10 October, the independent media and research centre Danwatch reported that, following the publication of its investigations “Business on Occupied Territory” in January 2017, Denmark’s third largest pension fund (Sampension) had revised its investment guidelines and divested from four companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements.

United Nations·         On 2 November, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) will host a lecture on the Balfour Declaration and its impact on the Palestinian people, delivered by Prof. Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University in New York.  For registration, please click here.

·         From 23 October to 17 November, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva will review Israel’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Israel’s State Report as well as “shadow reports” submitted by Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs are available on the OHCHR website

.·         As part of its Humanitarian Monthly Bulletin, OCHA reported on 11 October that people with disabilities had been disproportionately affected by the energy and salary crisis in Gaza.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Young Communist League Britain has arrived at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students

The delegation from the Young Communist League Britain has arrived at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students after a long journey from Heathrow to Moscow, then to Sochi, Russia.

The point of this trip is simple: to join and share the debates with our international sister organisations, the Young Communist Leagues and anti-imperialist progressive youth groups who together with us constitute the World Federation of Democratic Youth, and help to make this year’s festival a success.For one week, we will be participating in festival activities and workshops where young people and students of the world will rally together for peace, progress and social justice, share their experiences and cultures and make lasting friendships.

Members of the Executive Committee of the YCL will be reunited with comrades whom we have met at international events, and with whom we share links but might have never met in person, and take the opportunity to share the experiences of our countries and establish closer friendships.

Finally, it will be an incredible and developmental experience for many of us, going abroad together as a team, working together at workshops and sporting events, and living together as an official delegation from our country’s youth for a week.

We will continue to build upon actions like these and hope that many more young people will place their trust in the Young Communist League as a voice for British youth in the future.

Monday, October 9, 2017

DPRK Condemns US War on Terror as Pretext for World Building

Pyongyang has accused Washington of using its ongoing War on Terror to manipulate governments and other entities around the world.
Alongside a foiled attempt on the life of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) claims that actions by Washington continue to destabilize global organizations and governments, calling the US "the main reason international terrorism is not yet annihilated," cited by Newsweek.
An article published Friday by Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) asserted that the DPRK representative to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly explained his country's "principled stand" regarding how counterterrorism is defined by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, a working group in which North Korea was involved in creating.
The KCNA article stipulated that "the main reason international terrorism is not yet annihilated," is ongoing — and increasing — global military and diplomatic meddling by the Pentagon and Washington.
Pyongyang's UN representative also documented a failed plot to kill Kim and overthrow the government in Pyongyang.
"In May this year, a group of heinous terrorists who infiltrated into our country on the orders of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US and the South Korean puppet Intelligence Service with the purpose of carrying out a state-sponsored terrorism against our supreme headquarters using biological and chemical substance were caught and exposed," asserted KCNA.
DPRK representatives have also claimed that Washington contributes to global instability through its intended use of biochemical weapons to target specific leaders noted to be unfriendly to the US.
"The US has fully revealed its criminal scenario to make no scruple of using biochemical weapons" to take down the current leadership structure in Pyongyang, according to KCNA. The DPRK has also long accused Washington of husbanding a "Plan Jupiter," in the form of a biochemical attack to kill Kim and his cabinet.
The claims of a Plan Jupiter have not been substantiated, although the often contentious debate about US international meddling in politics and intelligence shows no signs of going away.
The Friday KCNA report claimed that Washington "changes its colors" similar to a "chameleon" in attempts to justify government overthrow, particularly in the Middle East.
KCNA further opined that Washington interchangeably used counterterrorism and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a means to defend ongoing military occupations and invasions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, cited by Newsweek.

Red Scare redux? US imposes World War II-era ‘foreign agents’ designation on Russia media

US troops of the 69th Infantry Division (left), shake hands with Russian troops on the wrecked bridge over the Elbe at Torgau, Germany, to mark the previous day's link-up between American and Soviet forces, 26th April 1945. © Allan Jackson / Getty Images

The Soviet-era McCarthyism that swept America in the mid-20th century was mere child's play compared to the Russophobic hysteria now running amok in the land, where Russian media is even being required to identify itself with a Nazi-era designation. 
The most disturbing aspect about the spectacular crash and burn of US-Russia relations in the last year is not necessarily the lightning speed with which it occurred, but that it was a deliberate, premeditated act of political violence that was absolutely avoidable.

The all-out anti-Russia campaign arrived with such swift, unwarranted ferocity that it would have made the late US Senator Joseph McCarthy - whose name is practically synonymous with witch hunts - sit up and take note. And just when you think we've hit rock bottom in the bilateral relationship, a trap door swings open below your feet, revealing yet another precipitous drop.
In what appears to be the basement as far as US-Russia media relations go, the US Department of Justice has issued an outrageous demand that RT [American branch] register itself as a "foreign agent" to continue operations on US soil.
What makes the US demand especially unacceptable, if not downright repulsive, is the history behind the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which was created to counter pro-Nazi agitation. Few people could have forgotten how much blood, sweat and tears Russia sacrificed in its extraordinary effort to repulse Hitler's forces from its territory. Indeed, without Russia's incomparable sacrifice, which broke the back of the Nazi war machine, it would be altogether useless to speak of a 'free media' today.
This week, during a session of the Russian Federation Council’s Interim Committee on the Protection of Sovereignty, RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan explained that according to the channel’s lawyers, the US branch staff could face harsh penalties if RT fails to follow through with the demands.
“We received a letter from the US Department of Justice, demanding that we register as a foreign agent. By October 17 we must ‘whip ourselves’ and say that we are a foreign agent,” Simonyan said, adding that “[our] lawyers tell us that if we [RT’s American branch] do not register as a foreign agent, arrests of our employees, seizure of property will follow – absolutely serious things.” 
As was the case with the expulsion of Russian diplomats in the US, which led to tit-for-tat actions, Moscow may have no choice but to impose retaliatory measures against US news outlets operating on Russian territory.
“Our [Russian] legislation envisages a possibility of imposing retaliatory restrictions against the… media of the states that have restrictive [regulations] specifically limiting the professional activities of Russian journalists,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at the meeting.
What is especially disconcerting about these latest developments is that they were decidedly unnecessary and avoidable.

Fake news fallout

Our present time of troubles began immediately after Hillary Clinton's 'surprise' defeat in the 2016 presidential election, which the Democrats conveniently blamed on the Russians, of course. After all, how could a candidate who needed to cheat during the debates ever be expected to lose? 
In any case, what happened next was truly despicable and designed to prevent any future US-Russian cooperation (which the NeoConLiberal faction refers to as "collusion"). On the basis of nothing more substantial than fake news and rumors, Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States just days before the New Year's holidays in retaliation for alleged US election hacking. 
Not even the mighty Trump could stop the media-induced mass hysteria that followed: sanctions, the seizure of Russian property, a crackdown on Russian companies, and attempts to silence Russian media. All the while, US-led NATO forces, entering a backdoor into Eastern Europe that was cracked wide open with the crowbar of anti-Russis scare tactics, have set up permanent camps on Russia's very doorstep.  

One nothing burger, please, hold the hysteria

Despite the non-stop media histrionics, not a shred of evidence has been produced to show that Russia "hacked" the 2016 US presidential election. Thus, in order to save face and keep the anti-Russia ball bouncing, the torch-carrying inquisition has turned its attention on the social media giants, most notably Facebook and Twitter, to come up with the goods on Russia.  
Prior to a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 1 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook released the following soggy statement by Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer: "In this latest review, we... looked for ads that might have originated in Russia — even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort. This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian — even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law. In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads." 
Just listen to that serial string of uncertainties: "might have, very weak, didn't necessarily violate, approximately, potentially, roughly..."
In other words, US politicians are on a wild goose chase, and this becomes clearer when we see exactly what that $50,000 actually bought - not much. As Facebook admits, “44% of total ad impressions [number of times ads were displayed] were before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were after the election.”   
Meanwhile, over “25% of the ads were never shown to anyone.” 
Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of Senate Intelligence, who understands perfectly well that his political career hangs in the balance over this anti-Russia campaign, called for the November hearing because he was "unhappy"with what the masters of the social media universe had provided so far, which was, in essence, nothing. A nothing burger.
"What I am interested in is what all the social media platforms know about activities on their platforms specifically funded by Russians, and I believe that that's something that is worthy of an open hearing," Burr told CNN, the very channel whose own correspondents were caught admitting that the Russian hacking story was pure ratings-chasing nonsense. 
Burr and Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, declined to provide further details on their findings, suggesting once again that the investigation has turned up empty-handed.
Daniel Faraci, a political analyst and director of Grassroots Political Consultants LLC, told RT that “any alternative news media coming from international sources … [and even] bloggers and social media” face similar pressure from the US authorities. 
He also said that Washington’s goal is “shutting [down] the voices of anything that is not MSM.” For anybody following recent moves by the titans of tech, the sultans of search, that news is not surprising.
While the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to waste precious political time and money, President Donald Trump asked the bipartisan group to investigate the media, which sounds like a sound idea all things considered.
“Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” Trump tweeted Thursday.
Speaking of Twitter, that social media company also had very little to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was shown at the hearing that RT, RT America and RT en EspaƱol spent $274,100 for 1,823 US ads for their respective Twitter accounts that “definitely or potentially targeted the US market." Yet isn't that exactly the purpose behind commercial advertising, of course, to target a particular consumer market, a capitalistic idea that seems strangely lost on US investigators?
Margarita Simonyan, the RT Editor-in-Chief, remarked that "similar campaigns are conducted by the American media in the Russian segment of Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to find out how much they spend on it, who they target and for what purpose.” 
At this point, a lot of Americans must be wondering, at the very least, why their tax-supported representatives on Capitol Hill are wasting so much time and energy trying to smear Russia when over a year of mudslinging has still failed to produce the desired results. At the same time, Russian expatriates who have settled in America must also be slightly confused and perhaps even slightly worried at this juncture. Indeed, if Russian diplomats can be treated in such a coarse, disrespectful manner, what about the average person?
Indeed, would anybody be surprised if those Russians now living in America - a number estimated to be in the millions - wake up one sunny day and find themselves forced to wear special tags in public, identifying themselves as "foreign agents" from that far away, suspicious country that the mendacious media and unthinking think-tanks have argued for so long is the root of all earthly evil? 
I write that only partially in jest, because clearly the wave of Russophobia that has settled upon Washington like an impenetrable fog will not lift anytime soon. At least not while Donald Trump - the ultimate bugbear of the NeoConLiberals, the hawkish clan that would go so far as to sabotage US-Russian relations to invalidate his presidency - remains in power, disturbing the swamp creatures. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.