Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fighting in Libya Getting Worse
A damaged plane from rebel clashes at the Tripoli, Libya airport.
Jul 21st 2014, 18:21
by C.S. | TRIPOLI

OFFICIALLY Libya is not at war, but for the thousands of residents of the capital, Tripoli, who fled their homes at the weekend it is starting to feel like it. Fighting spilled across Tripoli's western districts after a battle between rival militias on July 19th and 20th for control of Libya’s main airport left 47 dead, marking it as the most violent day since the end of the 2011 CIA-Pentagon-NATO coordinated counter-revolution that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.

Militias from Misrata, some of the most racist and brutal since 2011, frustrated at their failure to capture the airport after a week of fighting with the Zintan militia that holds it, arrived with tanks to pound the perimeter. The Zintanis responded with shells and anti-aircraft fire. As the violence expanded, huge fires burned in the city's western districts. “A shell hit my neighbour’s house and a lot of people left,” says Seraj, a resident of the western suburb of Janzour.  “We stayed inside, it was not safe on the streets.”

When the smoke cleared, Zintanis remained in control of the airport, but it is now a shambles of wrecked buildings and burned-out aircraft. The transport ministry says 21 planes, valued at 1.9 billion dinar ($1.5 billion) have been damaged or destroyed. Brave Libyan pilots have flown two Airbuses belonging to Afriqiyah (a state-owned Libyan airline) and a third jet from Libyan Airlines, the flag carrier, to safety in nearby Malta.

Without command of any troops willing and able to intervene, Libya's foreign minister, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, on July 17th asked the UN Security Council to send military advisers to bolster state forces guarding ports, airports and other strategic locations. He warned that Libya risks going “out of control” without such help. But he found no takers. The Security Council, which passed resolution 1973 authorising the Pentagon-NATO blanket bombing of Libya in March 2011, worries about committing troops to a war featuring a mosaic of competing factions. “Whose side are we supposed to intervene on?”  asks a Western diplomat in Tripoli.

With airspace closed to most flights, foreigners continue to leave the country through the only available exit, the land border with Tunisia. Turkey and the Philippines have followed the UN in evacuating their staff, joined at the weekend by oil company workers from Italy’s ENI and Spain’s Repsol. America has an aircraft carrier stationed offshore in case it decides to evacuate its diplomats from the fortified embassy in Tripoli, where staff took to shelters on July 20th as shells fell around the walls. Almost all foreigners have already fled Benghazi, Libya's second city, in the country's east, where helicopter gunships allied with a renegade general, Khaled Haftar, a long time CIA operative, pounded Islamist militias over the weekend.

Libya's neighbours are rattled. Algeria and Tunisia this month deployed 15,000 troops to their borders with Libya. Egypt closed its border crossing on July 19th and warned of retaliation when a day later 21 border guards were killed by gunmen near the Libya frontier. Diplomats hope, perhaps in vain, that the chaos will end when the new parliament convenes in Benghazi early next month.

Until then, Libyans are resigned to more turmoil. The reluctance of some ships to enter Tripoli docks has meant a shortage of fireworks, which traditionally light up the sky at the end of Ramadan, due next week. “We have fireworks in the night, but those are fireworks we wish not to see,” says Seraj.
'Your Fight Is Mine' -- Letter to Detroit From A Netroots Nation Visitor
Denis Oliver-Valez visited Detroit to attend the Net Roots
Conference.
July 20th, 2014, 10:54 AM

Denise Oliver Velez, a former Black Panther Party member who's now a cultural anthropologist, reflects Sunday at the Daily Kos website on Detroit's image and impact after a few days downtown:

As I prepare to leave Detroit, Michigan, today and head back to New York after attending the Netroots Nation 2014 gathering of bloggers, I'm thinking about the multi-faceted meanings Detroit has for me, not as simply a visitor, but as a political activist, ethno-historian and a person raised in black American culture.

I'm left with a montage of images, some current — dealing with protests against Detroit's water shut-off, which the United Nations has stated is a violation of human rights — and other images that emerge as flashbacks from different moments in time in my past.

Velez, a 66-year-old adjunct professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, flashes back to local jazz legends, Motown Records, Diego Rivera, the 1967 riot and  labor activism of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers during the 1960s and '70s.

Though the Detroit fist sculpture may be considered controversial by some viewers, to me it represents the power and the strength of the people of Detroit, who no matter how many punches they take, will keep fighting back.

Thank you Detroit for having stolen a piece of my soul. I feel like your fight is mine, and belongs to all of us who you have inspired over the years.
Editorial Comment: Israeli Offensive on Gaza, Has World Lost Its Voice?
Israeli bombs Gaza where over 600 have been killed.
July 22, 2014 Opinion & Analysis

GAZA is on fire and the world is apparently nonplussed, at least judging by the reaction of the vocal Western rabble-rousers who are quick to take to the podium even upon receiving news of skirmishes between rival party supporters in places like Mufakose.

Over 500 people, mostly unarmed civilians have been killed by Israeli bombing, artillery and mortar fire in Gaza, 100 of them innocent children with over 3 000 reported injured in the barbaric 15-day offensive.

Only yesterday, the Israelis bombed a hospital where the injured were recuperating killing several people, and still no condemnation from the White House or Number 10 Downing Street.

Only UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki-moon found a voice describing the Israeli bombardment as atrocious and calling for a ceasefire.

The UN ceasefire call would have made sense if Gaza and Israel were at war, but it is Israel which is bombarding Gaza where, by the UN’s own admission, over 70 percent of fatalities are innocent civilians, the least we expected from the UN was strong condemnation of the Israel offensive not a mere call for a ceasefire between victim and assailant.

But the UN’s feeble response does not come as a surprise to us given that Israel is blood-letting with the tacit approval of the United States that, by virtue of hosting the UN headquarters in New York, appears to have held that institution hostage.

More than 500 Palestinians — mostly civilians — have been killed and about 3 000 injured while 20 Israelis, including two civilians, have died, among them two American soldiers fighting with the Israel Defence Forces against the residents of Gaza.

This partly explains why international condemnation of the Gaza offensive has been muted as big brother is in the thick of things. Add to this the unfortunate downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 that provided a much-needed diversion for Israel and the Anglo-Saxon alliance, and you would be forgiven for thinking nothing much is happening in Gaza.

Despite mounting deaths including the use of banned munitions, there was little sign of real pressure on Israel.

In fact US president Barack Obama expressed his support for the Israeli offensive saying “no nation would tolerate an attack on its soil.’’

And in a televised Press conference Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said the Gaza offensive would continue saying, after three ceasefire offers, it now had international backing: “We will continue this operation for as long as it takes,” Netanyahu said as he thanked the US for its support. “I appreciate the support we have received from president Obama on our right to self-defence,” Netanyahu told CNN.

Israel is the largest recipient of US military assistance and last year alone, Washington sent some US$3,1 billion in military aid to Tel Aviv, supplemented by allocations for collaborative military research and joint training exercises.

Israel’s actions have been rapped as one of the worst attacks on a people since the formal end of apartheid South Africa in 1994.

Ironically, the assault on Gaza has not been condemned as much as the downing of a Malaysian airlines plane, MH17, that had 298 people on board with Western media trying to build a case against Russia for reportedly supplying Ukrainian separatists with weapons, surprisingly the US that openly assists Israel with billions in military aid every year has not been similarly rapped by the same media organisations.

We urge the progressive world to speak in unison against the murderous regime in Tel Aviv, the United Nations must also find its voice or go the way of the League of Nations that twice failed to save the world from the scourge of war.

Netanyahu and his regime are clear candidates for The Hague and we expect ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to show the same zeal he has shown over  Kenya.
The residents of Gaza deserve justice.
US, EU Condemned Over Gaza
Palestinians seeking refuge from IDF attacks on Gaza.
July 22, 2014
Herald Reporters

The United States, the European Union and their Western media embeds have been slammed for their failure to condemn the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by Israeli Defence Forces over the past two weeks.The silence, that was only broken by United Nations secretary general Mr Ban Ki-moon yesterday who described the attack as an “atrocious action” and called for an immediate end to the Israeli bombardment, has continued despite revelations by UN bodies in Gaza that over 70 percent of the fatalities are civilians of which over 100 were children.

Israeli forces yesterday shelled a hospital where the injured were recuperating, killing more civilians bringing the death toll to over 500 dead and over 3 000 injured.

Despite this, there was still no condemnation of Israel’s actions by the US and its allies, with US president Barack Obama who was on record supporting the Israeli offensive only urging a ceasefire as if the residents of Gaza were at war with their assailants.

Political analysts and diplomats yesterday noted that the Western media would have been vocal if such killings had occurred in Zimbabwe or any of the countries that do not toe the western line.

This comes as the death toll rose yesterday to at least 514, as the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting at the request of Jordan.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo condemned the violence in the Gaza Strip, saying diplomacy should be the guiding principle in any conflict.

“We are opposed to violence that is taking place in the Middle East,” he said.

“The silence by the West did not come as a shock to us because we  used to see that during our war of liberation where we were labelled as terrorists. We say that diplomacy should take centre stage.”

Palestinian ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Hashem Dajani condemned the US for its apparent support of Israel which he said was killing defenceless women, children and the elderly.

“We don’t understand how the Americans would give support to Israel on the basis that it was for self defence, but ignore the same rights to the Palestinians,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this is despite the fact that they pretend to respect and honour human rights and values. We know that this is not true. We call upon the international community and people of conscience to stand up and stop the Israelis from this criminal bloodshed against civilians and innocent lives.”

Israel, said Mr Dajani, would not embark on such a massive aggression without the backing of high powered countries like the US.

“We consider this action as a blatant war crime before the eyes of the entire international community,” he said “There is urgent need for all countries to take their responsibilities seriously and intervene to save lives and stop the violation. I consider the situation in Gaza as a deliberate massacre of innocent lives.”

A diplomat who preferred anonymity said the Western media and the US would have called for drastic action if such killings had occurred in Zimbabwe.

“The US and EU had a deep seated interest in Zimbabwe and would not afford to miss any opportunity that discredits Harare,” said the diplomat.

“On the case of Palestine, they cannot be seen condemning the killings because they support Israel.”

European Union head of mission in Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell”Ariccia declined to comment yesterday, saying he was waiting for an official statement from Brussels, the headquarters of the Western bloc even though the bombardment was being televised on CNN and the BBC for all to see.

He also refused to comment on how the situation would be had the deaths in Gaza occurred in Zimbabwe.

“I would not want to start speculating if it had happened in this country or that country,” he said. “I am waiting for an official statement.”

US ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton had not yet responded to questions send to him by the time of going to press despite assurances from his office that a response would be made on time.

University of Zimbabwe Law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku described the bombings in the Gaza Strip as totally unacceptable.

“It shows the heartlessness of the Western world in the sense that Israel is supported by the US,” he said. “There can be no worse human rights abuse outside extermination of life – it is the worst kind of arrogance.”

Prof Madhuku described the killing of people in Gaza as a genocide.

“They are killing people in broad day light and (Benjamin) Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister) is proud of every moment of that inhumane genocide. If he goes to the US he will get a red carpet for that.”

Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations president Mr Goodson Nguni said the US and the EU were motivated by racist considerations and had no soft spot for non-whites.

“Human rights abuses by the US and EU relate to those issues that are in their interest,” he said. “They have an interest in Israel, so they do not see anything wrong with that war.

“The war in Gaza is between Arabs and Jews. Palestinians are not whites, so in this case the US does not give a damn.”

Israel launched the operation dubbed: “Operation Protective Edge” on July 8 ostensibly targeting the Hamas movement, which controls the region, and its allied groups of Palestinian rebels.

Ten days later, the Israeli army switched to a ground offensive that increased casualties.

Ironically, the assault on Gaza has not been condemned as much as the downing of a Malaysian airlines plane, MH17, that had 295 people on board, with Western media trying to build a case against Russia for reportedly supplying Ukrainian separatists with weapons.

Surprisingly, the US that openly assists Israel with billions in military aid every year, has not been similarly rapped by the same media organisations.
Palestinian Fighters Kill Over 40 Israeli Soldiers
Over 40 IDF soldiers have been killed in Gaza.
Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:6AM GMT
presstv.ir

Palestinian resistance fighters have killed over 40 Israeli soldiers since Tel Aviv started its offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, said that its forces killed 15 more Israeli forces in eastern Gaza City on Monday alone.

The Palestinian fighters also targeted an Israeli Merkava-4 tank in the east of Gaza City on the same day.

Hamas also fired dozens of retaliatory rockets into Israel. Warning sirens have sounded in Tel Aviv, Yavne, Gadara, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and many other places.

Top Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said on the same day that the besieged Gaza Strip will become "a graveyard for Israeli soldiers" who are committing crimes against the Palestinians in the blockade enclave for more than two weeks.

The latest casualties bring the Palestinian death toll to nearly 600 from 14 days of Israeli attacks. Over 3,000 Palestinians have also been injured in the onslaught.

Medical workers are now raising alarm over a humanitarian crisis in Gaza where hospitals are running low on basic medical supplies.

Meanwhile, anti-Israeli rallies are being held worldwide in condemnation of Tel Aviv's ongoing atrocities against Palestinians, urging an immediate end to bloodshed in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protests have turned violent in France with angry demonstrators clashing with security forces in a Paris suburb.

A group of US demonstrators, joined by anti-Zionists, has gathered in front of the White House to protest Tel Aviv’s escalating ground and aerial offensives.

Similar rallies have been held in the Netherlands, Austria, Chile, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Britain, Morocco, Bolivia, and Australia, among others.
Israeli War Kills More Palestinians in Gaza Strip
Palestinians killed by the IDF loaded into body bags.
Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:10AM GMT
presstv.ir

At least seven Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip as Israeli warplanes and tanks keep targeting the besieged enclave.

According to Gaza authorities, the latest deaths on Tuesday took place in several cities, including Khan Younis, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.

The fatalities came a day after Israeli tanks shelled the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in the Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip, leaving five people dead and several others injured.

The latest casualties bring the Palestinian death toll to nearly 600 from more than two weeks of Israeli attacks. Thousands of Palestinians have also been injured in the onslaught.

Since the deadly Israeli offensive started on July 8, huge numbers of people in Gaza have fled their homes, with the UN saying over 100,000 people have sought shelter in 69 schools run by its Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).

Meanwhile, top Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh has said the blockaded Gaza Strip would become “a graveyard for Israeli soldiers,” who are committing crimes against the Palestinians in the enclave. Around 30 Israelis have so far been killed in the war.
Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza
Israeli soldiers mourn deaths of IDF troops killed in Gaza.
Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:1AM GMT
presstv.ir

Two more Israeli soldiers have been killed in combat in the Gaza Strip, raising the number of the troops killed in the 15-day Israeli offensive against the blockaded Palestinian sliver to 27.

The Israeli army confirmed the deaths in a statement issued on Tuesday, saying the troopers had been killed a day earlier.

The army added that three other soldiers were seriously injured over the course of the night. Reports said that the commander of the elite Egoz reconnaissance unit was among those injured on Monday.

However, Palestinians say the death toll is higher. Al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, said that its forces killed 15 Israeli forces in eastern Gaza City on Monday and over 40 of them since Tel Aviv started its offensive.

More than 100 Israeli soldiers have been confirmed wounded over the past few days.

Top Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh has said the besieged Gaza Strip will become “a graveyard for Israeli soldiers.”

Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by rocket fire so far.

Hamas has fired hundreds of retaliatory rockets into Israel. Warning sirens have sounded in Tel Aviv, Yavne, Gadara, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and many other places.
Israel Finds Hamas Are No Longer Amateur Fighters
Gaza fighters battle the Israeli Defense Forces.
By Ben Wedeman, CNN
10:00 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014

Deaths mount in Gaza and Israel

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
CNN's Ben Wedeman says Hamas is a stronger force this time
It has adopted commando-like tactics, he says
There was cheering at reports of an Israeli solider captured
U.S. has little to show for a year of trying to forge peace, he says

Gaza City (CNN) -- Israel's ground incursion into Gaza, which it says is intended to destroy Palestinian militants' tunnels and stop rocket fire into Gaza, has entered its fifth day with the death toll mounting on both sides and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in Egypt. CNN's Ben Wedeman, a veteran Middle East correspondent, puts the incursion into perspective.

How does this incursion compare to previous ones by Israel into Gaza, in terms of military force?
Unlike 2008/09, this incursion seems to be focused on areas with high concentrations of people, initially focusing on the Gaza City neighborhood of Shaja'ia. In '08/09 the focus was on areas where rockets were being fired, which were typically away from highly populated communities.

And of course at this stage, it's unclear how many Palestinian casualties there have been in these locations. The people have been warned by the Israelis to leave these areas with phone messages, but while many have left, a significant proportion has stayed behind.

My impression is that Israel has mobilized a much larger military force than in 2008/09 and in 2012. This is part of the picture of the Israelis going into heavily populated areas -- which is a much more dangerous operation, as can be seen by the deaths of at least 13 Israeli soldiers on Sunday.
Is Israel likely to achieve its objective of destroying the tunnels, and stopping the rocket strikes?

So far, Israel hasn't been wildly successful in its stated mission. Since this started, Hamas has been using tunnels in an attempt to ambush and capture soldiers and continues to fire rockets at Israel, although the number fired has gone down. What we see is that as Israel's capabilities have changed, so have Hamas'. Whenever Israel comes up with new tactics, Hamas and other factions seem to find new ways to counter them, such as by using longer-range rockets to fire at Israel, for example.

What is significant now is that Hamas fighters appear to be better trained, with a new set of skills that I don't think Israel anticipated. One Israeli soldier who came out of Shaja'ia was quoted in an Israeli publication that Hamas is fighting like Hezbollah, which waged a successful guerrilla war against Israel's occupation in the 1980s and 1990s, and inflicted high casualties on Israeli forces during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel in Lebanon.

The last serious street fighting I saw in Gaza was in early 2008, and it was almost like it was "amateur hour," with fighters in Gaza parading around with their weapons but not really able to stop the Israeli forces. Now it appears they've learned they must keep a much lower profile.

They've developed what could be called commando tactics, and are taking full advantage of their knowledge of their turf.

How long do you believe this incursion will last? How soon before it realistically is better described as a war?

This is now a war, in my modest opinion -- it's gone beyond a mere incursion. Hamas shows no sign of backing down, and didn't jump at Egypt's cease-fire proposal. They want to show that they're a military force to be reckoned with, and are in it for the long run.

Israel's defense minister said it would take two or three days to destroy the tunnels. If this crisis is to end soon, Israel will have to pull back and Hamas needs to stop firing rockets. In Hamas' opinion, they have achieved one of their objectives, which is to give Israel a bloody nose.

They claim to have captured an Israeli soldier -- as yet this is unconfirmed -- but if true, it would be a huge feather in their cap, in their own terms. When Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas in a June 2006 raid near the Israel-Gaza border, it took five years before he was freed, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners -- so, if true, this will be a huge bargaining chip for Hamas.

Will the death toll already suffered by Israel have a serious impact on public opinion in Israel?
Israelis are used to this sort of death toll from Hezbollah, but not from Hamas. I was on the streets of Gaza on Sunday night, when Palestinians celebrated the claims that an Israeli soldier had been captured.

Shortly afterwards, the guns on Israeli navy boats opened up. The immediate conclusion of everyone in the street was that this was Israel's response to the capture of one of its soldiers.
How much effect will the pressure/condemnation from the United Nations (and in the off-mic remarks from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry) have?

I believe the U.N. remarks will have no effect in Gaza. There is a perception there that the U.N. "talks but doesn't walk" -- it's toothless in other words. Hamas realizes it has few friends in the outside world.

The remarks of the White House last week though will not go down well in Israel, I believe. And the comments of John Kerry on Sunday -- which left some wondering whether he was criticizing Israeli assurances that its ground offensive in Gaza would be limited -- indicate American patience may be wearing thin. After one of his deputies mentioned the latest number of Palestinian casualties, Kerry was heard to say, "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation."

It is estimated that 70% of the more than 500 Palestinians killed in Israel's assault have been civilians. Washington has tied itself to Israel, and that country's right to self-defense, therefore the U.S. is going to feel some responsibility. Americans support Israel rhetorically, but this high Palestinian death toll is very problematic for the U.S. This is why Kerry may be feeling uncomfortable -- he spent almost a year trying to forge a Mideast peace deal, and what's he got to show for it now?
Kenya: More Than 3,000 Kenyan Soldiers Have Died in Somalia, Kenya Losing the War
Kenyan soldiers in Kismayo, Somalia.
21 JULY 2014

In a shocking report that has yet to be released but which we have seen, we have learnt that more than 3,000 soldiers have died in Somalia and Kenya is fighting a losing war.

Last week Raila demanded that the Uhuru government furnish reports on how many soldiers have died in Somalia but he was quickly shut down by Uhuru's cronies who questioned why he wanted this valuable information.

Well, the truth is now out. Kenyans refuse to face the fact that ‪#‎Operation_Linda_Nchi‬ is costing tax payers over 100 MILLION a day to run this farce of a war.

Good men and women are dying over there for no justified reason. Soldiers get shot at EVERYDAY, Day in Day out for an ineffective government that can't safeguard security within our borders.

Do we even have PROFESSIONAL ARMIES? Well, our soldiers don't operate based on the concept of duty any more... KDF soldiers now see EVERYTHING as a JOB. That's why they pay over 300K to get in the army.

To get PAID a certain SALARY Every month and they have certain jobs to do. And dying for Your country in Not one of the jobs.

We interviewed a soldier who said that the word duty and esprit corps are not even mentioned... .instead everything is reffered as a job which is the reason(joblessness) most people join anyway.

How many soldiers have died in Somalia? And for fairness, how many Somalis have died so far, civilian or insurgents?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Injury to Hage is Injury to All – Namibia Governor
Hardap Gov. Katina Hanse-Himarwa of SWAPO in Namibia.
Hardap Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has called on the country’s opposition to rally behind Swapo presidential candidate, Dr Hage Geingob

By Hoandi !Gaeb
New Era

MARIENTAL- “If you touch Swapo, then you touch us. If you touch Hage Geingob, you touch us. An injury to Swapo, is an injury to us. An injury to Hage Geingob, is an injury to us.”

Met with applause, these were the words of Swapo Politiburo member and Governor of the Hardap Region, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, during the ruling party’s regional consultative and strategic conference at Mariental on Saturday.

Hanse-Himarwa made the remarks in reference to views by some party members that opposition parties who have thrown their support behind Prime Minister Hage Geingob’s presidential candidacy must also extend their support to Swapo and not only its candidate.

Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) spokesperson Job Amupanda last week described as “opportunist” that some opposition parties, mostly the Republican Party and the United Democratic Front (UDF), have urged their members to vote for Geingob, but not Swapo, in the upcoming presidential and National Assembly elections.

On Saturday, Hanse-Himarwa also used the same occasion to urge all opposition parties in the country to follow the example of the RP and UDF in supporting Geingob during the elections.

Hanse-Himarwa noted that Swapo members must thank the opposition parties that expressed their support for Geingob. It is a vote of confidence in the qualities of Geingob as – in all likelihood – the next president of Namibia, she said.

Hanse-Himarwa said it is imperative that the Swapo Party remains united and work hard to continue to lead the country and the nation.

“Only if we are genuinely united, will the goals and objectives set out in the party’s manifesto be achieved.”

The conference also elected former governor of the Hardap Region, Karl Kisting, and Caroline Pieters as their representatives at the upcoming Swapo electoral college.

Kisting garnered 33 out of 41 votes while Willem Moller from Rehoboth only won eight votes. Pieters was automatically endorsed as she was the sole female candidate.

Hanse-Himarwa also lashed out at some members of the party who are allegedly working against the party’s principles. “Do not come to my house to spy on me. Be my comrades. Protect me as your leader so that I can continue to deliver the goods for you,” the governor said.

She urged those Swapo members who have not yet registered to do so during the supplementary registration process which will be held in September. “We are trendsetters in the Hardap Region, let us register and vote for Swapo fully.”

The chairman of the committee of assigned leaders to the Hardap Region, Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Bernhard Esau, also called on delegates to the conference to organise themselves properly for the elections.

“As we are moving towards elections as Namibians we need to organise ourselves to vote for Swapo. However, in order to vote, all Swapo supporters must be registered. After the supplementary registration process in September, all of you must be registered,” Esau said.

“We as Swapo members must go from house to house to mobilise our people to vote for the ruling party. Hage Geingob is ours and we must vote for him.”

The conference was inter alia attended by the Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Priscilla Beukes, Member of Parliament Eveline !Nowases-Kayele and Swapo Party Regional Coordinator in the //Karas Region, Matheus Mumbala. 
Palestinian Envoy Slams UN Security Council Inaction
Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour.
Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:4AM GMT
presstv.ir

Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour has criticized the UN Security Council for its inaction in the face of Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Mansour made the remarks late on Sunday as the Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss two weeks of the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

“This is the third time that we come to the Security Council since this aggression (began) and our people are extremely frustrated and fed up with the Security Council and the international community because they are not doing what they should be doing in order to stop this aggression against our people,” he told reporters.

The Palestinian UN envoy stressed that if the Security Council, which is supposed to be responsible for international peace and security, does not stop the Israeli assault, “where should we go in order to seek justice and stopping this aggression against our people?”

“We will not give up and come back again and again to the Security Council. We hope that the Security Council rises up to the level of shouldering its responsibility to stop this carnage,” he added.

Israel began its airstrikes on the besieged enclave on July 8. Last Thursday, thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion into the densely-populated strip as well.

At least 505 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks over the past 14 days, while more than 3,000 others were injured. More than 100 people were killed across Gaza on Sunday. Over 70 of them, mostly children, were residents of the Shejaiya district in eastern Gaza.
Israel Drops White Phosphorus Bombs on Gazans
Israeli Air Force drops white phosphorous bombs on Gaza.
Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:15PM GMT
presstv.ir

Latest reports say Israeli aerial and ground forces are using white phosphorus bombs to pound several residential areas across the besieged Gaza Strip.

The lethal bombs violate all international conventions and are considered as banned weapons in civilian areas.

This comes as a Norwegian doctor in the besieged coastal enclave has recently criticized Israel for using cancer-inducing bombs against Palestinian civilians.

Medics says some Palestinians in the besieged enclave have been wounded by a new type of weapon that even doctors with previous experience in war zones do not recognize.

Israel also used depleted-uranium and white phosphorus shells in the besieged region during their previous assaults.

The latest revelation comes as Israeli tanks and warplanes keep pounding the besieged enclave. Sources say at 39 Palestinians were killed on Monday alone.

Sunday has been the bloodiest day of the two-week conflict. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in the Shejaiya neighborhood near Gaza City on Sunday. The majority of the victims were civilians including children, women and the elderly.

The latest casualties bring the Palestinian death toll to 510 from 14 days of Israeli attacks. Over 3000 Palestinians have also been injured in the onslaught.

Medical workers are now raising the alarm over a humanitarian crisis in Gaza where hospitals are running low on basic medical supplies.

The UN Security Council has expressed serious concern over the growing number of casualties in the Gaza Strip, calling for an immediate ceasefire between the conflicting parties. 
Over 500 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Siege of Gaza
Gaza industrial area bombed by the IDF.
By William Booth, Sudarsan Raghavan and Ruth Eglash
Washington Post
July 21 at 7:22 AM
  
GAZA CITY — The Palestinian death toll rose to more than 500 on Monday as Israel announced that it had prevented two more attempts by Hamas militants to infiltrate the nation via tunnels from the Gaza Strip.

As international concern mounted over the growing casualties on both sides in the conflict, now in its 14th day, yet another diplomatic push was underway to bring about a cease-fire. U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were both expected in Cairo later Monday in hopes of finding a diplomatic resolution that has so far proved elusive.

Israeli airstrikes continued to bombard Gaza on Monday — more than 50 Hamas targets were attacked, including two weapons manufacturing sites, six underground rocket launchers and five tunnels, Israel’s military said.

Over the past few hours, Israel reported intense rocket fire across its southern communities, reaching up to Tel Aviv, its second-largest city, where two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defense shield midmorning Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who held a security briefing in the south Monday morning with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Benny Gantz, the military’s chief of the general staff, said in a statement afterward that while the army had achieved some of its main goals, the “operation would be expanded in order to restore quiet to Israeli citizens.”

Seventy Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in clashes in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said.

July 20, 2014 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers deploy from a staging area, very close to the Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel. Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency
The Israeli military said in a statement that its troops also detected “two terror squads” trying to enter Israel through two tunnels from northern Gaza. An airstrike struck one group of militants, and soldiers engaged in a battle with the other group, killing 10 fighters, the military said. Israeli news reports said that a number of Israeli soldiers were also killed, but the military did not immediately confirm it.

The Gaza Health Ministry said Monday that the death toll in Gaza has risen to 511 since the conflict began on June 8. The casualties included 20 bodies found in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike, according to the Associated Press.

The number of Palestinians seeking refuge with the United Nations also rose overnight, growing to at least 85,000 people now living in 67 shelters, mostly at schools, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said Monday. In all, U.N. agencies report that more than 100,000 Gazans have been displaced from their homes.

The United Nations also said a preliminary review in Gaza found that more than 72 percent of those killed were civilians, not militants, and include large numbers of women and children. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs said the high numbers of children and noncombatants raises “concern about respect for the principle of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.”

The assault on the Shijaiyah district on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, the new front line, continued Monday morning, though the intensity appeared to be lower than Sunday’s battles and barrages. Two bodies of those killed on Sunday — the bloodiest day of the conflict so far — were recovered in the eastern Gaza district on Monday.

More than 100 Palestinians were killed in heavy bombardment and street battles in Gaza on Sunday and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas, officials said.

Two of the Israeli soldiers killed were American citizens who had come to Israel, like many Jewish Americans, to volunteer in Israel’s army. One, Max Steinberg, was from Woodland Hills, Calif., while the other, Nissim Sean Carmeli, was from South Padre Island, Tex., said Israel’s military.

The State Department late Sunday confirmed the deaths. “Out of respect for those affected by this, we have nothing further at this time,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Israel said it pummeled a neighborhood in east Gaza because the warren of shops and concrete-block homes was the site of frequent rocket launches and that it concealed a network of tunnels dug by Hamas fighters and allied militant factions.

When Israeli troops went in, they were surprised by the tenacity, training and weaponry of their opponents, Israeli military officers said. They said Israeli soldiers were repeatedly hit by Gaza militants firing from windows, employing land mines and setting booby traps.

“It was a very hard battle there,” a senior Israeli military official said. “I have to admit that we were facing good fighters from the other side.”

The seven-hour attack by Israeli artillery and tank shells, followed by small-arms gun battles in the streets, left the district in ruins. There were bodies in the streets and gray-faced Palestinians being dug out of the rubble and stacked into ambulances. Thousands of residents had fled in the middle of the night, many barefoot.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 70 Palestinians were killed in the fighting in the Shijaiyah district.

Hamas health officials, in keeping with their practice, did not say whether the dead were civilians or fighters.

Sami Abu Zohri, a Hamas spokesman, called the Israeli offensive in Shijaiyah “a massacre” and “a war crime.”

The Hamas military also asserted that its fighters had captured an Israeli soldier. Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, appeared on Hamas TV to make the claim. Minutes later, there were fireworks on the streets and shouts of “God is great!” from loudspeakers in mosques.

An Israeli military spokesman said the army was investigating and did not confirm the abduction. “There's no kidnapped Israeli soldier, and those rumors are untrue,” Ron Prosor, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, told reporters in New York.

Raghavan reported from Tel Aviv. Eglash reported from Kfar Aza, Israel.
Israeli Military Playing a Lethal Game of Cat-and-Mouse in Gaza
Palestinian medic helps wounded man.
Officer tells Haaretz: 'Hamas' equipment and tactics are just like Hezbollah's.'

By Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz
Jul. 21, 2014 | 3:03 PM

As Hamas militants learn from previous wars and from other terrorist groups, the Israel Defense Forces is discovering that its enemy is no longer fleeing at the sight of a tankful of soldiers.

As more injured soldiers were evacuated Sunday from the intense fighting in Shujaiyeh and brought to a makeshift landing-strip near Kfar Aza by the Gaza borders, the local commander ordered troops to move operations to behind a grove of trees, hidden away from media camera crews.

The numbers of casualties hadn't yet been cleared for publication and the last thing the IDF wanted was footage of wounded, bandaged soldiers being stretchered out of the war zone.

The Blackhawk helicopters ferrying their load to hospitals in southern and central Israel swooped in low, firing off flares to ward off heat-seeking missiles. In the space of two days, the limited ground incursion has become a re-run of the Second Lebanon War, with Israel's high-tech army playing a game of hide-and-seek with small missile teams.

One officer, a veteran of Gaza operations, who left the fighting area for a few hours, told Haaretz: "I've been to Shujaiyeh before, but I've never seen it – or Hamas – like this before. Their equipment and tactics are just like Hezbollah. Missile traps and IEDs everywhere – and they stay and fight instead of melting away like in the past."

In the wake of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the IDF improved its fleet of armored personnel carriers (APCs), including more heavy Achzarit APCs and the new Namer, based on the Merkava tank. New Merkava MK IV was also acquired and equipped with TROPHY anti-missile systems, which is essentially a miniaturized version of the Iron Dome for armored fighting vehicles.

But the numbers of these new tanks and APCs at the army's disposal are still far from sufficient for supporting a major ground operation and seven of the 13 Golani soldiers who were killed in the fighting in the early hours of Sunday were in a 50-year-old M-113 APC, which was hit first an improvised explosive device (IED) and then by a missile.

"The new APCs are better – but they're also vulnerable to missiles, especially in this environment, where they have little room to maneuver. You have to continuously shift your location and in a place like Shujaiyeh there isn't much room," another officer told Haaretz.

Three other Golani soldiers, including a deputy battalion commander were killed when another missile hit the building in which they had set up their temporary headquarters.

But while the problems of operating in a cramped urban environment are well-known to the IDF from previous operations in Gaza, the level of Hamas fighting and relative professionalism has surprised the IDF to some degree.

"It's not a disaster, we can still handle them and we've killed many more of their fighters than they have ours but they are certainly one level above what I would have expected" said one IDF officer. "You can see they have learned both from Hezbollah and from watching us."

The Golani Brigade attacked Shujaiyeh on the third night of the ground offensive. Military sources said this was due both to the delay in the evacuation of civilians from the neighborhood and a reluctance by the IDF to immediately hit the area, which is seen as one of the most significant Hamas strongholds, a hub of tunnels and rocket launches, while the operation was still being conducted on a "limited" basis.

"We didn't go in on Friday because we were holding back" said an officer with knowledge of operational plans for Gaza. "The directive was for a limited operation but the tunnels which were revealed and Hamas' launching from Shujaiyeh We were certainly surprised by the extent of what we found there. The only problem is that fighting in a place like Shujaiyeh is Hamas' dream scenario, since we offer them so many targets. It's exactly what we were trying to avoid."

Despite the casualties on both sides, the IDF maintains that the fighting in Shujaiyeh was unavoidable and yielded major results in terms of tunnels and other Hamas infrastructure discovered and destroyed. While the Palestinians claim that between at least 60 civilians were killed in the fighting, the IDF insists that at least two-thirds of the casualties were Hamas fighters.

On Sunday night, IDF artillery and attack helicopters were raining fire over Shujaiyeh for a second night running, as close quarters combat continued. Neither side is giving up on the strategic location that has become a symbol of what is now looking like more like a war and what has already led to so much bloodshed.
Israeli Soldiers Killed After Battle in Gaza City Suburb
13 IDF soldiers have been killed in the Gaza invasion.
Hamas claims to have captured soldier on day that 13 other IDF troops were killed

Harriet Sherwood in Tel Aviv
The Guardian, Sunday 20 July 2014 18.09 EDT

Israeli soldiers at the funeral of sergeant Bnaya Rubel in Holon yesterday. IDF sources said 13 soldiers have been killed. Picture: AP/ Ariel Schalit
The Israeli military suffered one of its worst combat days on Sunday, with the death of at least 13 troops in battle and an unconfirmed claim from Hamas that it had kidnapped a soldier inside Gaza.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said they were investigating Hamas's kidnap claim. Speaking on a Hamas television station, a masked spokesman, Abu Ubaida, said: "We have captured a Zionist soldier and the occupation has not admitted that."

The claim came after a seven-hour battle between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters in the neighbourhood of Shujai'iya, the first of further confrontations in the coming days, according to a senior Israeli military source.

IDF soldiers encountered a sophisticated, disciplined, brave, highly trained and well-equipped army of militants, he said.

"We have to admit we were facing good fighters, very well equipped with sophisticated weapons systems, accurate weapons, heavy weapons including mortars, booby traps.

"It was very difficult fighting," the Israeli source said. "It's very difficult for us to surprise them. They were simply waiting for us."

Most of the Hamas fighters had been trained in Iran, he said. "We can trace the methods," he said, referring to the tactics of embedding into densely populated areas for protection. "We've seen the same with Hezbollah [in Lebanon]."

But, he added: "We've learned lessons, and we'll do better tonight and in the coming nights." Israeli troops were still on the ground in Shujai'iya, although in control was "not the exact term".

The official, speaking at the IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv, warned that similar battles were to be expected in the coming days in pursuit of its goal of locating and destroying tunnels used by militants to launch attacks against Israel.

Many tunnel entrances had been found in Shujai'iya, which he described as a "stronghold of Hamas", in the course of Sunday's battle. The IDF has discovered about 15 tunnels since the start of the ground operation but there were many more than initially expected, said the official.

He described it as a "very sophisticated network within Gaza and into Israel", with multiple entrances, shafts and offshoots.

The IDF had used robots to destroy tunnels as well as conventional methods, he said, adding that the decision to give advance warning to civilians in Gaza of impending operations gave a clear indication to Hamas of Israel's military intentions.

Leaflets and text messages had given the residents of Shujai'iya at least two days' warning to leave their homes by a specific deadline, with instructions about which streets marked a safe area, the source said.

"They didn't leave because of threats from Hamas," he said. "So many civilian casualties is bad but that's what Hamas wanted us to face, the civilian human shield."

Although the official said he would like to see a ceasefire, he conceded it would be difficult for Israel now to abandon its stated goal of locating and destroying cross-border tunnels.

"It can take days, but I hope it won't take more than that," he said. "We have still green light [from the politicians], we have a mission, we are going to fulfil it. We have as much force to open as many fronts as we need."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

One Hundred Killed as Israeli Carnage Goes on In Gaza
Damage from bombs dropped by the IDF on Gaza.
Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:16PM GMT
presstv.ir

At least one hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip in one day.

According to local reports on Sunday, as many as 66 Palestinians were killed only in the Shujaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City.

Medical authorities called the killings in the area a "massacre", saying they have never seen such a level of violence before.

The Israeli regime forces also killed dozens of others in other areas in the besieged enclave on the same day.

According to figures provided by emergency services, the total number of people killed since the beginning of the Israeli operation on July 8 stands at 469. More than 3,000 people have also been injured in the attacks.

Sources say more than half of the victims are women and children.

Medics are warning of a serious humanitarian crisis in Gaza as hospitals are running out of basic medical supplies.

The Palestinian Authority has declared three days of national mourning following Israel’s brutal shelling.

The Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of Hamas, says Palestinian resistance fighters have killed at least 32 Israeli soldiers since Saturday.

Anti-Israel rallies are being held worldwide in condemnation of Tel Aviv's atrocities against Palestinians. The demonstrators urge an immediate end to the bloodshed in Gaza.
Palestinians Capture Israeli Soldier in Gaza
Israeli Defense Forces bomb Gaza during July 2014.
Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:19PM GMT
presstv.ir

Palestinian resistance fighters say they have captured an Israeli soldier during Tel Aviv’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli regime continues its offensive in the blockaded enclave.

On Sunday, the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, said the name of the captured soldier is Shaul Aron.

The Israeli regime has not confirmed the capture of the soldier yet.

Referring to the silence of Israel over the report, Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, said, "The fact that they did not announce (the loss of the soldier) shows that they were trying to hide their losses."

The news of capturing the Israeli soldier reportedly sparked celebrations in Gaza.

Al-Qassam Brigades says Palestinian resistance fighters have killed at least 32 Israeli soldiers since Saturday.

According to figures provided by emergency services, the total number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the Israeli operation on July 8 stands at 469. More than 3,000 people have also been injured in Israel’s unrelenting aerial and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Sources say more than half of the victims are women and children.

On Saturday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed “deep concern” over the death of children killed in the Israeli offensives against Gaza.
Otherwise Occupied: Reaping What 
We Have Sowed in Gaza
Palestinian girl wounded by Israeli Defense Forces attacks on July
20, 2014.
Those who turned Gaza into an internment camp for 1.8 million people should not be surprised when they tunnel underneath the earth.

By Amira Hass
Haaretz
Jul. 21, 2014 | 5:42 AM

I’ve already raised the white flag. I’ve stopped searching the dictionary for the word to describe half of a boy’s missing head while his father screams “Wake up, wake up, I bought you a toy!” How did Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Greater Germany, put it? Israel’s right to defend itself.

I’m still struggling with the need to share details of the endless number of talks I’ve had with friends in Gaza, in order to document what it’s like to wait for your turn in the slaughterhouse. For example, the talk I had on Saturday morning with J. from al-Bureij refugee camp, while he was on his way to Dir al-Balah with his wife. They’re about 60-years-old. That morning, his aging mother got a phone call, and heard the recording instructing the residents of their refugee camp to leave for Dir al-Balah.

A book on Israeli military psychology should have an entire chapter devoted to this sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy: A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away. What, I asked J., you’re leaving? “What, why?” He said, “We have a hut near the beach, with some land and cats. We’re going to feed the cats and come back. We’re going together. If the car gets blown up, we’ll die together.”

If I were wearing an analyst’s hat, I would write: In contrast to the common Israeli hasbara, Hamas isn’t forcing Gazans to remain in their homes, or to leave. It’s their decision. Where would they go? “If we’re going to die, it’s more dignified to die at home, instead of while running away,” says the downright secular J.

I’m still convinced that one sentence like this is worth a thousand analyses. But when it comes to Palestinians, most readers prefer the summaries.

I’m fed up with lying to myself – as if I could remotely, by phone, gather the information necessary to report on what the journalists located there are reporting on. Regardless, it’s information that is important to a small group of the Hebrew-speaking population. They’re looking for it on foreign news channels or websites. They do not depend on what is written here in order to hear, for example, about the short lives of Jihad (11) and Wasim (8) Shuhaibar, or their cousin Afnan (8) from the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza. Like me, they could read the reporting of Canadian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld on The Daily Beast.

“Issam Shuhaibar, the father of Jihad and Wasim, leaned on a grave next to where his children were buried, his eyes hollow, staring nowhere. His arm bore a hospital bandage applied after he gave blood to try to help save his family. His children’s blood still covered his shirt,” writes Rosenfeld. “‘They were just feeding chickens when the shell hit,’ he said. ‘I heard a big noise on the roof and I went to find them. They were just meat,’ he gasped, before breaking down in tears,” continued Rosenfeld’s article. We murdered them about two and a half hours after the humanitarian cease-fire ended last Thursday. Two other brothers, Oudeh (16) and Bassel (8) were wounded, Bassel seriously.

The father told Rosenfeld that there was a warning missile. Before the attack, they heard the humming of the UAVs, the kind that “knock on the roof.” So I asked Rosenfeld, “If the missile was one of our merciful ones, those that come along as a warning, was the house bombed afterward?” By chance, I found my answer in a CNN report. The network’s camera managed to catch the explosion that came after the warning: knock, fire, smoke and dust. But it was a different house that was bombed, not the Shuhaibar house. I rechecked with Rosenfeld and others. What killed the three children was not a Palestinian rocket that went astray. It was an Israeli warning missile. And Issam Shuhaibar himself is a Palestinian policeman on the payroll of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

I’ve also given up on trying to get a direct answer from the Israel Defense Forces. Did you mistakenly warn the wrong home, thus murdering another three children? (Of the 84 that have been killed as of Sunday morning.)

I’m fed up with the failed efforts at competing with the abundance of orchestrated commentaries on Hamas’ goals and actions, from people who write as if they’ve sat down with Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, and not just some IDF or Shin Bet security service source. Those who rejected Fatah and Yasser Arafat’s peace proposal for two states have now been given Haniyeh, Hamas and BDS. Those who turned Gaza into an internment and punishment camp for 1.8 million human beings should not be surprised that they tunnel underneath the earth. Those who sow strangling, siege and isolation reap rocket fire. Those who have, for 47 years, indiscriminately crossed the Green Line, expropriating land and constantly harming civilians in raids, shootings and settlements – what right do they have to roll their eyes and speak of Palestinian terror against civilians?

Hamas is cruelly and frighteningly destroying the traditional double standards mentality that Israel is a master at. All of those brilliant intelligence and Shin Bet brains really don’t understand that we ourselves have created the perfect recipe for our very own version of Somalia? You want to prevent escalation? Now is the time: Open up the Gaza Strip, let the people return to the world, the West Bank, and to their families and families in Israel. Let them breathe, and they will find out that life is more beautiful than death.
Fidel Castro Blames Ukraine and Israel
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro and Russian Federation President
Vladimir Putin meet in Havana.
July 18, 2014

HAVANA TIMES – In a short commentary published today in the official Cuban media, entitled “Astonishing Provocation”, Fidel Castro insinuates that the fault a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crashed on Thursday lies with the government of the Ukraine, the position taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The former Cuban president also lashes out at Obama and Israel for the hundreds of deaths in Gaza.

The following is the commentary by Fidel Castro, the chief adviser to his brother General/President Raul Castro on foreign policy.


Astonishing Provocation

Fidel Castro Ruz

This morning’s (Thursday) news was saturated with the astonishing bulletin that a Malaysia Airlines plane had been hit while flying at 10,100 meters high over the territory of the Ukraine on the path under control of the warmongering government of the chocolate king, Petro Poroshenko.

Cuba, which was always supportive of the people of Ukraine, and in the difficult days of the tragedy of Chernobyl attended the health of many children affected by harmful radiation from the accident and will always be prepared to continue such aid, cannot fail to express its rejection by the action of such an anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, pro-imperialist government.

In turn, coinciding with the crime of the Malaysia plane, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of a nuclear state, ordered his army to invade the Gaza Strip, where in the preceding days hundreds of Palestinians had died, many of them children. The U.S. president supported the action, calling the heinous crime as an act of self-defense. Obama did not support David against Goliath, but Goliath against David.

As is known, young Israeli men and women, well prepared for productive work, will be exposed to die without honor or glory. I do not know what military doctrine the Palestinians will use, but I know a fighter ready to die can defend even the ruins of a building as long as he has a rifle, as demonstrated by the heroic defenders of Stalingrad [in World War II].

I only wish to express my solidarity with this heroic people defending the last inch of what was their homeland for thousands of years.
Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine
Palestine solidarity demonstration through midtown Detroit on
July 13, 2014. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe)
[OPINION]

ONE WRITER SAYS THE STRUGGLES FACED BY AFRICAN AMERICANS AND PALESTINIANS ARE MORE SIMILAR THAN WE MAY KNOW

By KRISTIAN DAVIS BAILEY

Two years ago, a viral video emerged of a Palestinian alumnus named Fadi Quran being pepper sprayed and arrested while nonviolently protesting in the West Bank. As a journalist for The Stanford Daily, I had the opportunity to cover his arrest and detainment. And in the process, my eyes were opened to a whole conflict I was shocked I hadn’t heard about before.  I learned that he had been protesting the closure of Shuhada Street—the main road in the West Bank’s largest city—because the Israeli military forbids Palestinians using it, only allowing Israeli settlers and foreigners to pass. I had learned that the pepper spray soldiers shot in Fadi’s face was made in the U.S. and that our government sends the Israeli military $3 billion a year in aid that helps fund this violent occupation. When I interviewed Fadi upon his release from jail, he remarked that the Israeli military court would have likely detained him indefinitely on the madeup charge that he had attacked ten soldiers were it not for the video and international solidarity.

Last summer I found myself standing on the exact street where Fadi was protesting. Thousands of miles away from the US, I was visiting a place that has come to symbolize the worst aspects of military occupation and colonization in Palestine. My group’s tour guide, Issa attempted to walk us down Shuhada Street—but a pair of Israeli soldiers not more than 21-years-old stopped him and told him he could not pass. Issa, who was born and raised in the house right next to the checkpoint, would be subject to arrest for continuing down the street. Between the video I took of this encounter and the many examples of separate and unequal treatment between Israelis and Palestinians I saw, I felt like I was watching some dystopic mashup of the pass laws Blacks faced in apartheid South Africa and the cruel humiliation of the Jim Crow South.

Fadi’s 2012 arrest occurred two days before Trayvon Martin’s murder, and both of these events pushed me to become active in the Black movement for freedom  at home and justice for Palestinians abroad. In educating myself about what Palestinians experience, I began to see the inter-connectedness of our struggles.

I learned how the police brutality African Americans and other minorities face in the US is directly tied to violence in Palestine. Since 2001, thousands of top police officials from cities across the US have gone to Israel for training alongside its military or have participated in joint exercises here. Just weeks before Oakland police violently broke up an Occupy rally, they had trained with repressive forces from Israel and Bahrain.  In Georgia in 2006, a 92-year-old black woman was shot and killed by Atlanta police who had participated in an exchange program with Israeli soldiers on counterterrorism and drug enforcement. Our governments literally share resources and tactics with each other that directly harm our respective communities.

The experiences of African Americans and Palestinians with systemic mass incarceration are also strikingly similar. Forty percent of Palestinian men have been arrested and detained by Israel at some point in their lives. (To put this in perspective, the 2008 figure for Blacks was 1 in 11.) Israel maintains policies of detaining and interrogating Palestinian children that bear resemblance to the stop and frisk policy and disproportionate raids and arrests many of our youth face.

My five-week visit to Palestine last summer occurred less than a month after George Zimmerman’s verdict was released. Outside of Bethlehem, I was shocked to find a memorial to Trayvon Martin painted on the 24-foot separation wall Israel builds on Palestinian land. I was even more shocked at how viscerally I noticed similarities between Stand Your Ground laws at home and Israel’s justification for its treatment of Palestinians. I had heard story after story about how the Israeli military had used the “security threat” argument to justify the closing of Shuhada Street, shooting tear gas into a house full of women and children, barring my Palestinian-American friend from re-entering the country to continue her study abroad. Palestinians, Blacks and other groups in colonialist countries are “security threats” by our very existence of surviving under systems that seek to destroy us.

What is “safety” when the thing people are safe from is us? Who is looking out to protect the lives of Fadi or Trayvon? Why do our societies dismiss our narratives? And when our tax dollars fund the police and military systems that kill our communities here and abroad, what can we do to claim safety and protection for ourselves?

To me, our hope for this century may come from joint solidarity with marginalized people all over the world. Palestinians appeal not to the government that occupies and oppresses them, but to international bodies and universal principles of human rights for freedom. Similar to the Palestinians’ call for people of conscience to boycott and divest from companies that support their oppression, we might call on people abroad to pressure an end to "the New Jim Crow"---mass incarceration. Black movements have a rich history of alliances with those fighting racism and imperialism across the world, from Algeria to South Africa, El Salvador to Cuba.

After decades of strong resistance to discrimination and oppression at home and abroad, it seems more than coincidental that the progress of our past has been weakened by imprisonment drugs and isolation from the rest of the world. Most of us know very little about the Palestinian struggle and mainstream Palestinian society seemed to think everything is okay in terms of race in the United States today. In our separation, both of our relative struggles as Blacks and Palestinians remain ignored by the larger society. The time is ripe to rebuild those connections. Strong Black solidarity with the Palestinian struggle seems necessary and urgent. We must work together to address the effects of money, policing and militarism here and in Israel/Palestine.

Kristian Davis Bailey is a graduating senior at Stanford in the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity program. He is co-president of Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine and a college journalist. Read his writings from his travels in Palestine at ‘Postcards from Palestine’ and follow ‘Black on Palestine’ for the thoughts of others who have visited the region. (He thinks these visuals are a good introduction for anyone new to the Israel-Palestine conflict.)
Follow him on Twitter: @kristianbailey

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/news-views/why-black-people-must-stand-with-palestine-402#ixzz384BysYj2 
Thousands of Protesters Gather Outside Cobo Center Over Detroit Water Shutoffs
Detroit solidarity demonstration aerial view on July 18, 2014.
WXYZ Detroit
http://www.wxyz.com/homepage-showcase/over-1000-protestors-gather-outside-cobo-center-over-detroit-water-shutoffs

Thousands of protesters rallied outside Cobo Center over shutoffs by the city's water department.

The protest is led by National Nurses United, which says the shutoffs pose a public health emergency. The group and others seek an immediate end to them.

The group will march eight blocks, passing Detroit banks and City Hall before ending at Hart Plaza.

But Detroit Water and Sewerage spokesman Greg Eno says the city-owned utility has no plans to stop the shutoffs on accounts 60 days or more past due.

The water department stepped up the shutoffs in March to collect some of the nearly $90 million owed by residents, businesses and other customers with past-due accounts. Through June, more than $43 million was owed on over 80,000 city residential accounts.

Forty to 50% of Detroit Water and Sewerage bills are deliquent.

Water officials say they are working with customers who have "legitimate" problems paying their bills.
Detroit Residents and National Allies Protest Water Shutoffs
Detroit solidarity demonstration on Friday July 18, 2014.
07/18/14 04:39 PM
By Ned Resnikoff
MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/detroit-residents-and-national-allies-protest-water-shutoffs

DETROIT – It was early morning, and Valerie Blakely was enjoying the day’s first cup of coffee when the men came to eliminate her family’s water supply.

She met them out on the sidewalk. There were two of them, and they came from Homrich, Inc., the company hired by the city of Detroit to administer its aggressive water cutoff policy. Blakely knew they would be coming at some point – right now she owes a little more than $1,000 to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) – and so she came out to greet them, camera in hand. When she refused to let them pass, they turned away and began shutting off the water for Blakely’s neighbors, while she followed and snapped photos. Then they left.

“Once they shut it off, they want it all to turn it back on,” Blakely, a community organizer and mother of five (four of whom currently live in her household), told msnbc. “So I probably would have been displaced until I came up with the little over a grand that I owe. I would have had to leave my home. I won’t jeopardize my children, so I would have had to leave my home.”

Instead, she got to work collecting water and baby wipes for her North Detroit neighbors, many of whom she says are elderly people or single mothers. Other community activists chipped in. That was on Monday.

Four days later, Blakely is still struggling to keep her neighborhood supplied with basic necessities, and she’s still turning to other community groups for support. But on Friday afternoon, she left her block and merged with a much larger crowd, for a different form of community action. That was when she marched through the streets, with over 1,000 allies, demanding an end to the water shutoffs.

The march was preceded by a smaller protest at the Hormich facilities, where a small group of community activists physically blocked the entrance in order to prevent the company’s trucks from going out and shutting off any water that day. Police arrested nine protesters, including wheelchair-bound activist Baxter Jones.

Friday’s action was not the first anti-shutoff protest to take place over the last few weeks, but it was undoubtedly the largest. It was also the first rally to include supporters from around the nation, most of whom had turned out for the Netroots Nation conference being held in the city. Supporters from the conference, members of the national labor movement, politicians, clergy members, and even actor Mark Ruffalo, all walked from the convention center to Hart Plaza, along the Detroit River. Neither local police nor organizers have released estimates for the number of attendees, but the headcount was almost certainly in the low four digits.

“As of this moment, you have been deputized as formal citizens of the city of Detroit,” local community activist Monica Lewis-Patrick told the assembled Netroots Nation attendees near the beginning of the march. When she called, “Who are you?” to the audience, the yelled back, “I am Detroit!”

The union National Nurses United (NNU) was one of the national groups involved in organizing the rally. Nurses from the group told msnbc that the water shutoffs, which have thus far directly affected thousands of residents, present a direct threat to public health.

“Water is one of the most basic human needs that we all require,” said NNU official Bonnie Castillo. “And we know that it will result in a public health emergency. Not only for individual health, but community health, in terms of infectious diseases. Individuals can only live without water for a couple of days.”

Although the rally was focused on the specific issue of water access, people were marching for a number of reasons. Several attendees expressed anger at Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, the city’s Emergency Manager, over public pension cuts and other reductions in public services.

“Some people will not get a pension check. They’ve already taken away our health care, and a lot of people are dying,” said Dorothea Harris, a retired public employee in Detroit. “So it’s not only the water. You’ve got your retirees, we’ve been out here and fighting too.”

Last month, a coalition of local groups such as the Detroit People’s Water Board and national organizations like Food and Water Watch issued a report [PDF] on the water crisis, alleging that the shutoffs are just a prelude to the selling off of Detroit’s water supply. By closing delinquent accounts en masse, the report’s authors write, city is aiming to “sweeten the pot for a private investor by imposing even more of the costs of the system on those least able to bear them.” Several protesters argued the same thing could eventually happen in other cities around the country.

“This is a national crisis,” said Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the National Action Network of Michigan. “Today in Detroit, tomorrow in Cleveland.”

Mark Ruffalo echoed that sentiment when he took the stage at Netroots Nation and invited attendees to the protest.

“The future of America is Detroit,” he said. “And it’s the choice between our America and the 0.001%’s America.”
Meet The Activists Fighting Detroit’s Water Shutoffs
Detroit solidarity demonstration on July 18, 2014.
BY BRYCE COVERT ON JULY 18, 2014 AT 3:20 PM
Thinkprogress.com

DETROIT, MI — “I feel like I’m in a nightmare.”
Wanda Hill, who worked for the city of Detroit for 30 years, held a sign up at a rally on Friday to protest the massive water shutoffs roiling the city’s low-income residents. “I’m a native Detroiter,” she told ThinkProgress. “I never thought I’d see this.”

In March, Detroit’s water department announced that it would start shutting off water service to 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if they hadn’t paid their bills as the city moves through a bankruptcy process. Nearly half of the accounts are delinquent. In response, activists have appealed to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to intervene in recognition of the fact that water is a human right, and the UN has backed them up.

“The water rate goes up every year but income is not rising,” Hill said. “You can never catch up.” The cost of water for the city’s residents has shot up 119 percent over the past decade and another 8.7 percent hike was approved for this year.

On Friday morning, about a dozen people blocked the entrance of one of the private contractors that has been doing some of the shutoffs for more than six hours. Police arrested nine of them, including Baxter Jones, a 65-year-old pensioner who uses a wheelchair. “The bravest souls are putting their bodies in front of trucks” going to shut off water, said Monica Lewis-Patrick, a candidate for the Detroit city council.

Lewis-Patrick spoke at a panel at Netroots Nation, a progressive conference that was also the site of the start of Friday’s rally and march later in the day. She described seniors who have gone without water for six months or even a year. Residents are trying to help each other out, providing bottled water and food to those going without water. Lewis-Patrick recalled one many this week who paid water bills for six of his neighbors “because he didn’t want them to hang their heads.”

She also noted that women have been at the forefront of the movement. A delegation of women “fought and have continuously been the guard against the privatization of Detroit,” she told the panel audience. Later in an interview with ThinkProgress, she added, “It’s basically been women that have led this fight for decades now, on issues of water, food, and land justice.” And they’ve been at it for a long time. “I’m one of the younger members,” she said. There are other women in their 60s and 70s fighting these fights.

According to Shae Howell, an activist of 40 years and resident of the city who was at Friday’s rally, activists have three simple demands: “We want an immediate turn on [of water service] for every single person, a moratorium on shutoffs, and the people’s plan enacted,” or the Water Affordability Program that was approved by the city council in 2006 but never implemented. She noted that “nearly half of the city was in arrears,” and “when half of the city can’t do something, it tells you it’s a systemic problem.”

And activists are fighting against more than just the shutoffs. “The water issue is the tip of the spear,” Lewis-Patrick said. “The crisis is a systemic shutting people off from jobs, health care, and education.”

“There’s a lot of issues,” Wanda Hill said at the rally. “The water shutoff is one, the bankruptcy and Detroit retirees is another.” She’s equally concerned about what the bankruptcy agreement will end up meaning for her as a pensioner. “Personally I’m the matriarch of my household,” she said.

She has three grandchildren. “They depend on us for financial support, mental support, knowledge, and wisdom. I have the wisdom and knowledge, but I can’t help financially.” She added, “At this point I’m concerned about sustaining my own lifestyle.”

“To balance the problems on the backs of pensioners is unconscionable,” she said.

Tijuana Morris, a 59-year-old retiree from the police department, is also worried. “When I went to the police department, I had a contract. They said pensions were guaranteed,” she said. Now, “they cut everybody’s insurance.” She has a disability and has to buy drugs for it. “We are between a rock and a hard part.”

And she’s just as upset about the water shutoffs. “What gives them the right to take water from people?” she asked. “Why do we have to go to the UN to get recognition? That’s wrong.”

Vera Magee, another pensioner who worked for the city for 33 years, also felt the issues are related. “You tried to take away our pensions, now you’re trying to take away our water,” she said.
She voted to reject the bankruptcy agreement. “We’ll have to wait and see.”


Moratorium NOW! Coalition Quoted:
Activists to rally in Detroit on Friday to protest water shutoffs, call for accountability for Wall Street banks

by Eclectablog on JULY 17, 2014

As Netroots Nation lands in Detroit, it does so during an unprecedented time in our country’s history. In an attempt to get over 90,000 water customers to pay upwards of $90 million in unpaid water bills. Over ten thousand Detroit residents have already had their water source eliminated in this draconian effort. Meanwhile, major businesses still have water flowing despite their own massive unpaid bills:

A local news investigation revealed that Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, owed $82,255 as of April. Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play, owed more than $55,000. City-owned golf courses owed more than $400,000. As of July 2, none had paid.

While some off those not paying their bills are simply scamming the system, many of the residents having their water cut off simply cannot afford to pay the bills. It’s worth noting that, on average, water costs twice as much in Detroit as it does in other metropolitan cities despite sitting on the shore of the largest fresh water source in the country.

Tomorrow, Friday, July 18th, on the one-year anniversary of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr taking Detroit into bankruptcy, a broad coalition of progressive groups are staging a march/rally in downtown Detroit to protest the shutoffs and to hold Wall Street banks accountable. From Moratorium NOW!:

We call on activists everywhere to come to Detroit on Friday, July 18 for a rally and march to fight the dictatorship of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by millionaire Republican Governor Rick Synder, and backed by Wall Street bankers and the 1%.

Taking place during the national Netroots Nation 2014 conference, several thousand people will converge in downtown Detroit to demand an immediate stop to residential water shutoffs and and an immediate restoration of water service. Demonstrators will demand that that the be no cuts to pensions and a restoration of retiree health benefits.

Under a state-imposed bankruptcy, the City of Detroit workers face severe cuts to their pensions and tens of thousands of people face water shutoffs.

The banks who have destroyed Detroit’s neighborhoods through racist predatory subprime mortgages and saddled the City of Detroit with fraudulent subprime financing, continue to loot the people of Detroit.

Detroiters have lost their democratic rights – “elected” officials serve at the pleasure of the unelected Emergency Manager, and may be fired at any time.

From the loss of the auto plant jobs, loss of people from home foreclosures, attack on pensions, high insurance, replacing public schools with charter schools/Education Achievement Authority (EAA), water shut-offs, to privatization and the state helping corporations take over city assets and services such as Belle Isle, the largest urban park in the U.S., garbage department, workforce development, human services, health dept., Detroit Institute of Arts, with selling the water dept. on the horizon! Banks, billionaires and corporations made this bankruptcy up to rob the people of Detroit blind and kill democracy.

To Detroiters, we say, ”It’s time to take a stand, stand up and fight for yourselves, your children, your grandchildren, your city!”

To people everywhere, we say, “Stand with the people of Detroit. Your city, your services, and your pensions will be targetted next”

Let’s come together to stop the takeover of Detroit, we are not going to take this anymore! United we can stop the takeover of our Detroit! Make the banks pay!

Here’s more from National Nurses United, one of the groups spearheading the event:

Support is growing from labor, community, clergy, and environmental activists, along with those attending the national Netroots Nation convention in Detroit this week for a march and rally Friday July 18 to call for an immediate moratorium on the water shutoffs.

National Nurses United, the lead sponsor of the event, and the dozens of groups and activists organizations supporting the action, call the shutoff a public health emergency and a major violation of human rights. NNU is the largest U.S. organization of nurses.

The event will also call for a tax on Wall Street speculation which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for communities like Detroit which have been pummeled by recession, unemployment, and other pain directly linked to the Wall Street meltdown and plunder of major urban areas. The Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trading, is embodied in HR 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, to rebuild Detroit and the rest of America.

Rally supporters charge that Gov. Rick Snyder and his handpicked emergency manager officials are enforcing the water shutoffs to promote the privatization of the public water department, the latest gift, they say, to Wall Street financial interests who have bankrupted the city.

Other endorsers of the march and rally include: Utility Workers Union of America, Friends of the Earth U.S., AFSCME Council 25, CWA Local 400, National Action Network-Michigan, UAW Local 600, Detroit Eviction Defense, Detroiters Resisting Emergency, National People’s Action, Health GAP (Global Action Project), East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Color of Change, Franciscan Action Network, Detroit Water Brigade, Detroit Public Schools Education Task Force, Michigan Election Reform Alliance, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Detroit Active and Retired Employees, and many other groups.

“Cutting off water to community residents is a disgraceful attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health. Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shutoff now.”

Here’s the schedule:

12:30 p.m. – Assemble outside COBO Hall on the southwest corner of Washington Blvd & W. Congress
1:00 p.m. – March Begins
1:45 p.m. – Rally at Hart Plaza

You can keep up with the latest information on the march/rally at their Facebook event page. For more information on this complicated situation, here are some excellent sources:

The Progressive: “A National Call to Link Arms for Detroit”
DemocracyMovement.us
Moratorium Now!
New York Times: “Going Without Water in Detroit”
I also encourage you to sign the Daily Kos petition calling on the Obama administration to declare a public health emergency in Detroit. Click HERE to sign the petition.

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]


Nurses: Water Shut-off Measure in Detroit Endangers Public Health

18 JUL
National Nurses United

NNU’s Jean Ross and Bonnie Castillo
Media Advisory, Photo Opportunity                                  
July 18, 2014
Contact: Liz Jacobs, RN, 510-435-7674, Bill Gallagher, 818-355-8691, or Sarah Cecile, 510-541-9570

Big March and Rally Today in Detroit to Protest Water Shutoffs by City:  ‘Turn On the Water, Tax Wall Street’

Responding to the controversial decision of Detroit and Michigan officials to shut off water for tens of thousands of city residents, a broad coalition of national, international, and Detroit area organizations will hold a major protest march and rally today in Detroit.

Marchers will voice support for the many in Detroit who have been calling for a declaration of a health care emergency in the city and call for an immediate moratorium on the water shutoffs and restoration of water service to those who have had their water cut off.

Lack of access to clean water is a major health threat that can lead to the growth and spread of infectious diseases and even pandemics, says National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses and the lead sponsor of the march and rally.

Activists also warn that the widespread water shutoffs are a national test case, promoted by the banks and other financial interests who have been pushing privatization of public resources in economically embattled Detroit. If successful in Detroit, the scene could be repeated in scores of other communities where residents continue to struggle financially.

The march begins at 1 p.m. at Cobo Center in Detroit. The rally, outside Hart Plaza, will be live streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/national-nurses-united

Support for the action has been rapidly building with major endorsements and participation from among others the International Union United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW AFL-CIO), Netroots Nation which is holding its convention in Detroit this week, Food and Water Watch, Michigan Sierra Club, Utility Workers Union of America, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, and scores of Detroit area community, labor and faith groups.

Internationally known actor Mark Ruffalo and musician/songwriter Tom Morello also voiced support for the action, urging support, on twitter.

The event will also call for a tax on Wall Street speculation which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for communities like Detroit which have been pummeled by recession, unemployment, and other pain directly linked to the Wall Street meltdown and plunder of major urban areas. The Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trading, is embodied in HR 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, to rebuild Detroit and the rest of America.

Rally supporters charge that Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager officials are enforcing the water shutoffs to promote the privatization of the public water supply, the latest gift, they say, to Wall Street financial interests who have bankrupted the city.

Notably Snyder’s handpicked emergency manager Kevyn Orr in one of his first acts hired his former employer, the Jones Day law firm to supervise the city’s bankruptcy even though that same firm represents banks that hold the city’s debt. Further, city activists note that though commercial enterprises owe nearly half of the debt to the water department, it is low and moderate-income residents who have been the main target of water shutoffs.

‘Dangerous public health crisis’

“Cutting off water to community residents is a disgraceful attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health. Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shutoff now.”

“The water crisis is just the tip of the spear of what is a much greater systemic problem in America,” said Monica Lewis-Patrick, citywide outreach coordinator of We the People of Detroit and member of the People’s Water Coalition. “People need housing, good jobs, equal access to quality education and affordable health care and of course what we are now dealing with here, access to clean affordable water which is a basic human right. It is my hope that everyone who is coming to Detroit to take part in the protests also takes away the story of resilience and perseverance of the people of Detroit. I’ve been going to door to door to assist people and what I’ve witnessed is that in the midst of all these trials folks are together forging the beloved community.”

“It appears the black out on this water crisis is broken and the consciousness of the world has finally been piqued. People around the world are beginning to focus on this domestic terrorism and we welcome every eye!” said Maureen Taylor, state chairperson of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

“The situation in Detroit is a major crisis, said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “When 45 percent of water customers struggle to pay their water bills, it is clear that this is not just a problem with delinquent payment–it’s indicative of broader, systemic issues resulting from decades of policies that put profits before people. These shutoffs are a thinly veiled precursor to privatizing Detroit’s water, which will only make matters worse. We urge Detroit’s leadership to turn the taps back on and keep water there in public hands so that all residents can have affordable access to this vital resource.”

“This dangerous public health crisis is further proof that we don’t have a bankrupt city – we have a bankrupt system,” said John Armelagos, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “It’s disgraceful to have children in the wealthiest nation on Earth on the edge of living in third-world conditions. When people don’t have access to water to bathe and brush their teeth with, they and their families, and the whole community, are at risk for disease. Water is a human right and (Emergency Manager) Kevyn Orr should put human needs above any agenda set by corporations that only want to further exploit Detroit.”

“We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the organizers working hard to stop these water shutoffs,” said Raven Brooks, Executive Director of Netroots Nation. “It’s vitally important for us to use our platform to amplify their message.”

Other endorsers of action include: People’s Water Board, Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, Michigan Nurses Association, We the People of Detroit, Moratorium Now!, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, United Students Against Sweatshops, AFSCME Council 25, CWA Local 400, National Action Network-Michigan, UAW Locals 600 and 4911, Detroit Eviction Defense, Detroiters Resisting Emergency, National People’s Action, Health GAP (Global Action Project), East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Color of Change, Franciscan Action Network, Detroit Water Brigade, Detroit Public Schools Education Task Force, Michigan Election Reform Alliance, Student Global AIDS Campaign, New York State Nurses Association, Coalition of Labor Union Women, and Detroit Active and Retired Employees.