Friday, August 1, 2014

Here's Ricky Nelson in his bedroom back in the 1950s keeping James Burton up past his bedtime

Rick Nelson is mostly looking at his guitar frets. James Burton is mostly looking at Ricky, which is totally what AKSARBENT would have done.
      Nelson had Burton before Elvis, who had to wait until Burton's employment with the teen idol and his TV family paterfamilias ended before hiring Burton for his band.
     By the way, James Burton's 75th birthday bash will be held three weeks from now. Anyone can attend. Go here for details.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Formerly supportive, Joe Scarborough turns on Israel after rising of civilian casualities: United States of America 'cannot be associated with this'



Via Politico:
     Scarborough described himself as having a record as one of Israel’s biggest supporters, saying, “I’ve always been a 100 percent supporter of Israel. The joke in Congress was anytime I wanted a key to the city of Tel Aviv, I could, you know, get a gold-plated one.”
     But on Thursday he warned that the mounting civilian death toll was not just tragic for the Palestinians, but harmful both to Israel and the U.S.
     “The United States of America — we cannot be associated with this if this continues. This is so bad, not only for the Israeli people, but for us,” Scarborough said.
     (Also on POLITICO: 10 Israeli media attacks on Kerrry)

UN relief official breaks down after latest Israeli bombing of school



From the YouTube description:
UN Official Breaks Down Crying Live on Air
For Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has numerous facilities in Gaza, it's all too much. This is the sixth time UNRWA sites have been hit during Israel's current campaign.

Russell Brand: Sean Hannity — that's where the terrorism's coming from!



Below: Sean Hannity tried to strike back at Russell Brand, but ended up having to answer pointed questions from Geraldo Rivera about his simplistic, Israel-can-do-no-wrong view of Middle-Eastern politics.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The New Yorker on the collective punishment
of Gaza civilians

...It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks [in Hebrew] to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.
     What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted...
     Read more...

100 Spanish celebrities, including three Oscar winners, sign actor Javier Bardem's letter accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza

From the Hollywood Reporter:
     Oscar winners Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodovar, have denounced Israel's incursion into Gaza.
     In an open letter referenced by Europa Press and other Spanish media, they described Israel's actions as "genocide."
     They also called on the European Union to "condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip."
     In the open letter, they demanded a cease-fire by the Israeli military and urged Israel to "lift the blockade, which the Gaza Strip has suffered for more than a decade."
     The letter also said: "Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air. Palestinians' homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing."
     Others who signed the letter include directors Montxo Armendariz and Benito Zambrano; actors Lola Herrera, Eduardo Noriega and Rosa Maria Sarda; and musicians Amaral and Nacho Campillo.
     Below is Bardem in "Before Night Falls" playing gay Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas. Bardem's performance in that film won him the first Best Actor nomination by a Spanish national in Hollywood history. He lost, but later won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in No Country for Old Men.



Signatory Eduardo Noriega starred, with Argentinian actor Leonard Sbaraglia, in an AKSARBENT favorite, Plata Quemada (Burnt Money), a huge hit in South America.

Pro-Netanyahu Israeli mob celebrates killing of Gaza kids by chanting 'Next Child To Get Hit Is Yours'

(Note: to see all AKSARBENT's posts on the intensifying crisis in Gaza,
click "Gaza" at the bottom of this post, after the word "Labels:)


     This is the government that is getting $3.1 billion of your taxes each and every year, courtesy of, among others, Rep. Lee Terry (402-397-9944, 202-225-4155, @LeeTerryNE on twitter)  and and Rep. Adrian Smith (308-384-3900, 308-633-6333, 202-225-0207, @RepAdrianSmith on twitter).
     From the YouTube description of the video, shot by a disgusted Israeli:
Video from the extreme-right demonstration in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. The demonstration was held across the square from a much bigger pro-peace demonstration that took place at the same time.
     Nevertheless, 87% of Israelis in a recent poll apparently want Israel to keep bombing Gaza back into the stone age.
     Another of the chants: "There's no school tomorrow, there's no children left in Gaza! Oleh! Oleh!" Well, maybe it's catchier in Hebrew.
     You can watch the video here. Click "CC" then "Translate Captions" then select "English", then restart the video.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ACLU's new report, With Liberty to Monitor All:
How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy

Always watching: last week's AKSARBENT post about the silent protest by many Omahans
of Israel's latest attack on civilians in Gaza has already attracted the attention of the F.B.I.




Here's the ACLU press release:
(Washington, DC) – Large-scale US surveillance is seriously hampering US-based journalists and lawyers in their work, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union said in a joint report released today. Surveillance is undermining media freedom and the right to counsel, and ultimately obstructing the American people’s ability to hold their government to account, the groups said.
     The 120-page report, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy,” is based on extensive interviews with dozens of journalists, lawyers, and senior US government officials. It documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented US government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy.
     “The work of journalists and lawyers is central to our democracy,” said report author Alex Sinha, Aryeh Neier Fellow at Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. “When their work suffers, so do we."

The Impact of Surveillance on Journalism
     The report is drawn from interviews with some 50 journalists covering intelligence, national security, and law enforcement for outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC, and NPR.
The US has long held itself out as a global leader on media freedom. However, journalists interviewed for the report are finding that surveillance is harming their ability to report on matters of great public concern.
Surveillance has magnified existing concerns among journalists and their sources over the administration’s crackdown on leaks. The crackdown includes new restrictions on contact between intelligence officials and the media, an increase in leak prosecutions, and the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal officials to report one another for “suspicious” behavior that might betray an intention to leak information.
     Journalists interviewed for the report said that surveillance intimidates sources, making them more hesitant to discuss even unclassified issues of public concern. The sources fear they could lose their security clearances, be fired, or – in the worst case – come under criminal investigation.
     “People are increasingly scared to talk about anything,” observed one Pulitzer Prize winner, including unclassified matters that are of legitimate public concern.
     Many journalists described adopting elaborate techniques in an environment of tremendous uncertainty in an effort to protect evidence of their interaction with sources. The techniques ranged from using encryption and air-gapped computers (which stay completely isolated from unsecured networks, including the Internet), to communicating with sources through disposable “burner” phones, to abandoning electronic communications altogether. Those cumbersome new techniques are slowing down reporters in their pursuit of increasingly skittish sources, resulting in less information reaching the public.
This situation has a direct effect on the public’s ability to obtain important information about government activities, and on the ability of the media to serve as a check on government, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found.
     Journalists expressed concern that, rather than being treated as essential checks on government and partners in ensuring a healthy democratic debate, they may be viewed as suspect for doing their jobs. One prominent journalist summed up what many seemed to be feeling: “I don’t want the government to force me to act like a spy. I’m not a spy; I’m a journalist.”

The Impact of Surveillance on the Practice of Law
     For lawyers, large-scale surveillance has created concerns about their ability to meet their professional responsibilities to maintain confidentiality of information related to their clients. Failure to meet those responsibilities can result in discipline through professional organizations, or even lawsuits.
Lawyers also rely on the free exchange of information with their clients to build trust and develop legal strategy. Concerns over government surveillance are making it harder for attorneys – especially, but not exclusively, defense attorneys – to build trust with their clients or protect their legal strategies. Both problems corrode the ability of lawyers to represent their clients effectively.
     As with the journalists, lawyers increasingly feel pressure to adopt strategies to avoid leaving a digital trail that could be monitored. Some use burner phones, others seek out technologies designed to provide security, and still others reported traveling more for in-person meetings. Like journalists, some feel frustrated, and even offended, that they are in this situation. “I’ll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client’s confidentiality,” said one.
     The result of the anxieties over confidentiality is the erosion of the right to counsel, a pillar of procedural justice under human rights law and the US Constitution, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found.
     The US has an obligation to protect national security, and under human rights standards, it may engage in surveillance to that end, but only to the extent that surveillance is lawful, necessary, and proportionate, and the least intrusive means to protect against tangible threats to national security. Many existing surveillance programs are indiscriminate or overbroad, and threaten freedom of expression, the right to counsel, and the public’s ability to hold its government to account. Programs allowing surveillance of non-US persons offer even fewer protections. The US should reform its surveillance programs to ensure that they are targeted and legitimate, increase transparency around national security and surveillance matters, and take steps for better protection of whistleblowers and the media, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU said.
     “The US holds itself out as a model of freedom and democracy, but its own surveillance programs are threatening the values it claims to represent,” Sinha said. “The US should genuinely confront the fact that its massive surveillance programs are damaging many critically important rights.”

Gazan whose brother bled to death while mocked by Israeli soldiers says PM Benjamin Netanyahu's phrase, 'telegenically dead' makes him want to throw up

To see the video from which the transcript below was made, go to Democracy Now's website.
Here is the preliminary transcript in its entirety:
Five years ago Palestinian student Amer Shurrab lost his two brothers in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. Last week, Shurrab learned four of his cousins in Gaza had been killed in Israel’s latest offensive. In January 2009, Amer’s father and brothers were fleeing their village when the vehicle they were driving in came under Israeli fire. Twenty-eight-year-old Kassab died in a hail of bullets trying to flee the vehicle. Amer’s other brother, 18-year-old Ibrahim, survived the initial attack, but Israeli troops refused to allow an ambulance to reach him until 20 hours later. By then, it was too late. Ibrahim had bled to death in front of his father. A graduate student at Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, Amer Shurrab has been recounting the story of his brothers and other Palestinians at college campuses and community gatherings across the United States. "Israel is deliberately targeting civilians from the day one of this attack," he says. "They have been bombing houses, wiping entire families to try to scare people into submission."
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by Amer Shurrab, a Palestinian graduate student from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. He’s studying at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. He has just learned that four of his cousins have died in Khan Younis. We last spoke to him five years ago. It was shortly after he lost his two brothers during Israel’s assault on Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, January, his dad and two brothers were fleeing their village when their vehicle came under Israeli fire. His brother, 28-year-old Kassab, died in a hail of bullets trying to flee the vehicle. His other brother, Ibrahim, 18 years old, survived the initial attack, but Israeli troops refused to allow an ambulance to reach him and his father until 20 hours later. By then, it was too late. Ibrahim had bled to death in front of his father. Amer Shurrab has been recounting the story of his brothers and other Palestinians at college campuses and community gatherings across the United States. And it was just recently that he learned about his cousins in Khan Younis.
We welcome you back to Democracy Now!, I’m sorry under such sad circumstances. My condolences to you and your family, Amer. Can you talk about what you’ve just learned?
AMER SHURRAB: Thank you, Amy, for having me again, and I wish next time we meet will be under better circumstances. So, last week, actually, last Tuesday, I got news from Gaza via a friend that my cousin, Mohammed Tayseer, was killed. He was targeted by one of those drones that Sharif was talking about. He was visiting some friends. He left their house at 1:00 a.m., started walking home, and on the walk home he was directly targeted by a drone. A couple hours later, actually, the house of the friends that he was visiting was bombed by the Israeli Air Force, and it killed two and injured several other people. His dad—because those friends are their neighbors, his dad went to visit—ran to the house of the neighbors, the friends, to help evacuate the wounded, in fear of the house being bombed again. And the dad was looking for Mohammed, his eldest son, his 22-year-old eldest son, and was looking for him to help. A couple hours later, once light started coming out, people saw a body on the street that they realized was Mohammed’s.
AMY GOODMAN: How old was Mohammed?
AMER SHURRAB: Twenty-two.
AMY GOODMAN: How old was Tayseer?
AMER SHURRAB: Tayseer is in his fifties, 55 now.
AMY GOODMAN: And you had two other cousins.
AMER SHURRAB: Three cousins, three brothers, three second cousins, they—was Wednesday—their house in the Sheikh Nasser region in Khan Younis was bombed by the Israeli Air Forces. A four-story house was flattened to the ground. Initial news that there were three people killed and several wounded. Then we got news later that no one was hurt. And then, the next morning, Thursday morning, they extracted the body of Iyad. And then, the next morning, during the 12-hour ceasefire, they had more time to dig through the rubble and found two more bodies of his brothers, two of his brothers. And they were all recently married. They, all three of them, got married either last year or the year before.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, we last talked in 2009. You had just graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont.
AMER SHURRAB: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: This was the period of Operation Cast Lead, as the Israeli military called, when more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Describe what happened to your brothers and your dad.
AMER SHURRAB: Well, Amy, my dad and brothers were in our farm in the Fukhari region, and they were driving home during the ceasefire, the humanitarian lull that Israel announced, and they waited ’til the middle of that ceasefire. They were driving home. They drove for about half a kilometer or kilometer. They faced a tank on the side of the road. They were waved through by the tank. And then, once they drove a couple hundred meters past it, Israeli soldiers stationed in a civilian house—they occupied a civilian house and took at least 11 residents as hostages in that house—they opened fire on them indisriminately.
AMY GOODMAN: On your father and two brothers, the car.
AMER SHURRAB: On the—yes. My dad was hit while driving. They hit a wall. The car came to a halt. They ordered them to get out of the car. Kassab was in the passenger seat, got out. He was shot. Later, we realized he had 18 bullets across his chest, his stomach and his arms. My dad got out, and he ducked by the car. My brother Ibrahim, who was in the back seat, got out, and he was also shot in his left leg. And then he—initially, they wouldn’t allow my dad or Ibrahim to call an ambulance or even to check on Kassab’s body. They had no idea what happened to him. That was around 1:00 p.m.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it was just feet away.
AMER SHURRAB: Yeah, few feet away. Yeah, few feet, like on the other side of the car, basically. And they wouldn’t let him check on them. My dad only confirmed Kassab’s death about five hours later, after sunset, when he saw cats nibbling on his body. He challenged the soldiers’ orders not to move, challenged the rounds they fired around him, checked on Kassab, realized he was dead and covered his face with his jacket and crawled back next to Ibrahim. They were pinned next to the car for over—about 24 hours. Ibrahim passed away. Shooting happened around 1:00 p.m. Ibrahim passed away around midnight. Ambulances were not allowed through, until—
AMY GOODMAN: How do you know this?
AMER SHURRAB: My dad wrote an account of that ordeal, of that whole story, from his hospital bed. He wrote it the day after, and over two days, because he wanted to remember it, he wanted it memorized. When I first reached him over his cellphone, once he got to the hospital, he told me, "Tell people what happened to us. Tell them what happened to us. Your brothers don’t deserve this. Everyone needs to know about this."
AMY GOODMAN: Your uncle had tried to get an ambulance?
AMER SHURRAB: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: How did he know anything was going on?
AMER SHURRAB: Later, they allowed my dad to use his cellphone, and he called my uncle. And my uncle reached the area with an ambulance. They would not allow them through. And it’s not only my uncle. My dad was on phone calls throughout the night to local press, to international media, to local, international human rights organizations, to Israeli human rights organizations. He was talking with everyone—and in vain. Throughout that night, once I got the news, we were talking everyone. We reached members of the Israeli Knesset. We tried to contact the Obama transition team. We contacted everyone. People in all five continents were making calls trying to reach people to get them help. But it was in vain. It wasn’t until 7:00 a.m. the next day, the 17th—they were shot on the 16th. On 7:00 a.m.—
AMY GOODMAN: This was January.
AMER SHURRAB: Yes, 2009—7:00 a.m., we got a word through a member of the Knesset, a Palestinian member of the Knesset that we reached, that the Israeli army would allow an ambulance to go in, but only at noon, when the humanitarian ceasefire would start for the next day. And the soldiers were watching them all that time. They refused to give them a band-aid. They refused to give them anything to stop the bleeding. They refused to give them a sip of water, a blanket. Nothing. My brother Ibrahim was shivering next to my dad, and they wouldn’t do anything other than curse at them, laugh at them and watch them suffer. Later on, we found that they left graffiti on the wall of the house that said, "Kahane was right."
AMY GOODMAN: Referring to?
AMER SHURRAB: Meir Kahane, the extremist Israeli rabbi who called for the killing or transfer of all Arabs and Palestinians from Palestine and Israel to other nations, to make Israel a purely Jewish state.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week, saying that Hamas is intentionally endangering Palestinian civilians in hopes that the gruesome images will turn the international community against Israel.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: All civilian casualties are unintended by us, but actually intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use—I mean, it’s gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want—the more dead, the better.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Your response to this, Amer?
AMER SHURRAB: Well, first of all, I want to jump on that phrase "telegenically dead." I hear that phrase, and I really want to throw up. This is just despicable description of dead children, women. That’s what you call them? Instead of saying "condolences," instead of saying "we are sorry," you say "telegenically dead"? This is extremely offensive, to start with.
And then, to Prime Minister Netanyahu—Prime Minister Netanyahu and all the Israeli spokespersons, in Arabic, in English, in Hebrew, in every language, they say they use precision bombs. They say they use smart weapons, and they pinpoint their attacks. And several Israeli spokespeople said every attack has hit its intended target. And now we know what are the intended targets. It’s children. It’s families. It’s women. An Israeli reserve general said, "We are going to kill their families so they learn not to come back again." An Israeli professor at Bar-Ilan University said, "Kill them, kill their kids, rape their women, kill their children, so that they learn." An Israeli member of the Knesset, who is a member of the ruling coalition, has wrote a posting on Facebook, that received several thousand likes, calling for the extermination of Palestinians, killing all their kids, killing the mothers who give birth to those "snakes."
So, what Israel says—we know that Israel uses—repeatedly has used the claim that Palestinians use human shields. That claim has been discredited over and over and over again, by the Goldstone Report, by the U.N., by all respectable human rights organizations. On the contrary, there is plenty of proof, plenty of evidence, that Israel uses Palestinians as human shields, as I know it personally in the case of my family and my brothers, where they were occupying a house, holding the local residents as human shields. UNICEF, about three months ago, issued a report documenting Israel’s use of children as human shields. That was corroborated recently by a report for, I believe, the U.N. initiative for children, that also documented Israel’s use of human shields. So, Israel is deliberately targeting civilians. It’s from the day one of this attack. They have been bombing houses, wiping entire families, to try to scare people into submission.
AMY GOODMAN: The Knesset member that you referred to, Ayelet Shaked—
AMER SHURRAB: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —with the Jewish Home party, who wrote that on her Facebook page, saying that the killings should include the mothers of the martyrs, saying that they should go, as should the physical homes in which they raise the snakes, saying because they give birth to the little snakes. Here you are in the United States. How are you dealing with all of what has happened in not only the last few weeks, but, of course, because your two brothers were killed in 2009? You went to Middlebury College. We saw you just after that, at Operation Cast Lead. Now you’re in California at Monterey, a graduate student.
AMER SHURRAB: Well, there are two facets to it. On one side, the U.S. government is a full partner in the murder of Palestinians, including my brothers. The United States provides over $3 billion of direct military aid to Israel annually. The Congress has just approved or in the process of approving an additional $600 million in military aid to Israel. They tagged onto the bill, the immigration bill for dealing with undocumented children—they tagged on about $225 million in additional aid for the Iron Dome in Israel. And the U.S. provides blank backing to Israel in the U.N., in the Security Council, everywhere, although we know sometimes it goes against the U.S.’s stances. Israel, just today, rejected the American initiative for ceasefire, and Secretary Kerry retracted and said, "Oh, we never offered them an initiative." Secretary Kerry, have some courage. Have some integrity. You had a hot-mic moment that showed what you really felt about it. How about you show it and say it in a scheduled meeting as opposed to a hot-mic moment?
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean, for those who aren’t familiar with that moment in the Fox studio.
AMER SHURRAB: Secretary Kerry, when he was appearing—I believe last Sunday, when he was appearing on the different Sunday shows, he was on Fox preparing to appear their Sunday morning show—
AMY GOODMAN: Actually, we have a clip of that, so this was one of the comments he made on this round of the network talk shows to publicly defend Israel’s assault on Gaza, but in a private phone call that was caught on camera in between commercial breaks, Kerry appeared to speak sarcastically about the massive civilian toll in the attacks. He was speaking to an aide on his speaker phone on his cellphone.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.
AIDE: Right, it’s escalating significantly, and it just underscores the need for a ceasefire.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: We’ve got to get over there.
AIDE: Yup, yup.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.
AMY GOODMAN: That was John Kerry in Fox’s studio. That’s not on the air, although they recorded it and then played it for him on Fox to respond to.
AMER SHURRAB: And then he tried to backtrack the comment, and then he went to Israel and repeated the same talking points about Israel having the right to defend itself. Yes, Israel does have the right to defend itself, as does every nation and every people, including the Palestinian people, who have been under occupation since 1967. And we, in Gaza, have been living under a terrible siege since 2007, but we don’t hear Secretary Kerry talk about this, at least not in public.
AMY GOODMAN: What does that siege mean to you in daily life?
AMER SHURRAB: That siege and blockade of Gaza that has been implemented by Israel against Gaza Strip since 2007, that has been at its strictest form, but Gaza has been suffering from one degree or another of siege since the occupation in 1967. But that siege, what it means, it shuts down all of Gaza’s borders and crossings, most of them with Israel, with only one with Egypt that’s also shut down by the Egyptian authorities; Israeli warships and boats in the sea, and airplanes and drones in the sky. That means they ration everything that comes in and out, from food to medicine, to pens and papers and pencils, construction material, gas, natural gas, potato chips, cardamom, chocolate. And it’s all for security concerns. I know people who have died because the chemotherapy they required for their cancer treatment was not allowed in, people who have died because spare parts for a dialysis machine they required for their kidney condition were not allowed in. I know people who have lost very lucrative and full scholarships in some top universities because they were not allowed out. I know people—ambulances that couldn’t come to retrieve victims because they didn’t have gas.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you respond to the Israeli military saying they’re moving into Gaza to destroy the maze of tunnels because they’re used to smuggle in weapons?
AMER SHURRAB: The tunnels have been used, until recently, until they have been practically fully destroyed by the Egyptian authorities—they have been used primarily as a commercial avenue. It has been used as a venue for trade, getting goods in and out of Gaza, or primarily into Gaza, and allowing people to get in and out of Gaza. My brother—for instance, my brother’s in-laws managed—two years ago, they managed to go to Gaza for the first time in over 30 years through one of the tunnels. That’s the only way, if all the official crossings are closed, if the Israeli government wants to put the Palestinians on a diet. An Israeli government official said, "We are going to put the Palestinians on a diet." They were allowing—Gisha, an Israeli human rights organization, revealed that. And they were calculating, cynically calculating, 2,000 calories per day per person of food to be allowed in, so people do not starve but just barely survive. The tunnels came and helped change some of that. The tunnels were primarily used, as I said, to let people in and out and to get everything in, from cars to gas, to construction materials. After the so-called Operation Cast Lead, tens of thousands of houses were destroyed.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think—do you believe that the Israeli military is bombing Gaza because of Hamas and the other groups firing thousands of rockets into Israel?
AMER SHURRAB: Well, Amy, over the past two years, there have been virtually no rockets coming out of Gaza, and Israel continued to siege Gaza and blockade Gaza. And that siege is a form of slow death. People are saying we can either die quickly now, or we die slowly through the siege and the blockade. If I’m a father and I cannot get a life-saving medicine for my kid because of that siege, how am I going to feel? What am I going to do? There were no rockets before 2001; Israel continued to occupy Gaza. There were no rockets in the ’90s and the ’80s; Israel continued to occupy Gaza and kill Palestinians.
AMY GOODMAN: Amer, we’re going to have to leave it there. We are going to turn in a moment to the Israeli historian Ilan PappĂ©, speaking to us from Haifa. My condolences again to you and your family. And I want to thank you very much for being with us, I’m so sorry under these circumstances.
AMER SHURRAB: Thank you so much, Amy, for the wonderful work you do every day.
AMY GOODMAN: Amer Shurrab is a graduate student at the Monterey Institute for International Studies in California. He graduated from Middlebury College. He is from Khan Younis in Gaza. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a moment.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Is Nebraska a dog or cat state?


The Washington Post says it's the latter and AKSARBENT believes it because Dad always took Fluffy with him pheasant hunting.
     But of course, ours was an unusual family.

Joan Rivers on where Palestinian civilians can hide from Israeli air assaults on Gaza: 'I don't care!'


TMZ: Where are the [Palestinian] civilians supposed to go?
Joan Rivers: I don't care! They started it. You're all insane. They started it!
BBC should be ashamed of themselves and CNN should be ashamed of themselves... I have been over there. That's how I know.
     We think Joan Rivers, where Israel is concerned, is a goddamned liar who would have any chump stupid enough to believe her accept the proposition that Palestinian emnity [and rockets] toward Israel come from nowhere, when in fact Israel has been provoking and abusing Gaza since before Hamas even existed.
     If Rivers has really been to Gaza, as she implies, how come she doesn't know or acknowledge the following, (see highlighted text box) from the Jewish Voice for Peace fact sheet?
     Since 2001, rocket attacks have killed about 30 Israelis, 270 fewer deaths than occurred in Israel in 2013 from traffic accidents alone.
     On Saturday, NBC aired a viral video showing a Palestinian youth combing the rubble of what used to be his neighborhood, looking for buried relatives and/or friends. An Israeli sniper shot him in the hand, then finished him off seconds later. Israel says there is no evidence that an Israeli sniper was responsible.
     Go fuck yourself, Joan Rivers.
Click on above text box to enlarge

Leavenworth St. blog is outraged that the Clintons are raking in easy money from their government service!

By Sunday evening, AKSARBENT usually starts to jones for a jolt of funny from late night comedians after a two-day deprivation of same. That's when we turn to the Leavenworth St. blog for a laugh, and we are rarely disappointed, especially when we run across gems like this:
     ...But when Bill and Hillary’s cash comes from making speeches and selling books based off their time in government, it is pretty tough to try to pretend they’re all about the hard work.
      Be interesting to see if Dems reject that crap now...

     Of course not everything at Leavenworth St. is inadvertently funny. Some of it seriously creeps us out, like streetsweeper's unsolicited advice to TransCanada's Lee Terry, who had the temerity to state the obvious to CNN's Dana Bash about the Tea Party defeat of Eric Cantor making it even harder for Republicans to compromise on anything:
JUST STOP IT! You’re not a talking head! This isn’t in private!!!

Block-long midtown protest of Israeli civilian bombing in Gaza ignored by Omaha media

A block of silent protesters greeted thousands of people arriving for last Thursday's Jazz On The Green performance at Midtown Crossing. AKSARBENT saw no mention of the outrage at Israel's disproportionate offensive in Gaza from any of the four network-affiliated Omaha TV stations: KETV, KMTV, WOWT and Fox 42. A search of "Gaza" and "Israel" with "protest" "Omaha" yielded no hits on Omaha.com, the website of the Omaha World-Herald.



Israel's rationalization for its attacks on Gaza civilians is that Hamas is bombarding it with rockets. From 2001 until July 17th, 2014, about 28 Israelis died from Hamas rocket attacks. More than ten times as many Israelis died in 2013 in traffic accidents.


Today, Al Jazeera reported that the Israeli offensive in Gaza has so far killed at least 848 Palestinians, including scores of children, and left more than 5,200 people injured. Wednesday, CNN reported that 28 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have died during the Gaza strife this year.

The Jewish Voice for Peace fact sheet that you see being handed out in the video above can be downloaded here.

Mr. Ruffalo is very proud of Mr. Hemsworth's right bicep

So Mark Ruffalo was sitting next to Chris Hemsworth at ComicCon promoting the newest installment in the Avengers Marvel movie franchise and he couldn't resist (because he is expert at movie promotion) pulling up Hemsworth's short t-shirt sleeve to show off Hemsworth's right bicep and then Hemsworth grabbed Ruffalo's long-sleeved arm for a gun show comparison and then Ploy made an animated gif out of it, which Buzzfeed liked and then AKSARBENT saw it on Buzzfeed but it was way too fast so AKSARBENT re-animated the gif (just the good part) but slowed it down to either porn or TMZ perp-walk speed, whichever term you like, OK? By the way, AKSARBENT knows what TMZ really stands for, and if five people comment on this post, we'll post an addendum and tell you.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

NBC airs viral video of Palestinian executed by Israeli sniper as he searched rubble of his home

From the Facebook page "Standing With
IDF [Israeli Defense Forces]
Israel denies any responsibility.
     20% of the Israeli military budget is paid for by your tax dollars, generously doled out by every year by Rep. Lee Terry (402-397-9944, 202-225-4155)  and and Rep. Adrian Smith (308-384-3900, 308-633-6333, 202-225-0207).
     Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, and unlike other countries, which get their money in quarterly installments, Israel gets its 3.1 billion upfront, at the beginning of the year:
This is significant: It means that Israel can start earning interest on the money right away – interest paid by the US since Israel invests these funds in US Treasury notes. In addition, because the US government operates at a deficit, it must borrow money in order to give it to Israel and then pay interest on it all year. Together these cost US taxpayers more than $100 million every year. 

Keith Olbermann on NFL's ongoing misogyny

His rant, in its entirety, is now on YouTube.
The message to the women who the league claims constitute 50% of its fan base is simple: The NFL wants your money. It will do nothing else for you. It will tolerate those who abuse you verbally and those who abuse you physically and its elder statesman will talk about the media distractions that could ensue because one of the NFL's gay-active players has finally self identified without saying a word about the media distractions that could ensue because a star player has knocked out his wife and got only 2/5 of the penalty another player got for giving an opponent a 30-stitch cut during a game.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Facebook has apparently shut down Israel's
Irish Embassy FB page

We're guessing that if FB really did suspend Israel's Irish Embassy facebook account for racism, that it probably had something to do with these doctored photos, posted on both IsraelInIreland's FB page and twitter account but now removed.

We searched for IsraelInIreland on Facebook a few minutes ago and came up with nothing.

GOP Reps. like Lee Terry and Adrian Smith ignore Israel's flagrant violations of Arms Export Control Act; they shower Israel with $3.1b of your taxes yearly

Claire Thompson reminds us that "U.S. taxpayers fund 20% of Israel's military, providing over $3.1 billion in weapons each year, making U.S. taxpayers deeply complicit in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. The State Department and Congress could immediately end these attacks by suspending military aid to Israel and brokering a lasting ceasefire agreement and an end to Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip.
     Israel is firing U.S.-funded precision weapons against civilians and civilian infrastructure. This flagrant misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons is a clear violation of U.S. laws like the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act."
     Israel's last attack on Gaza was almost certainly a violation of the Arms Export Control Act and that country's current assault on Gaza civilians, including four attacks on hospitals in four days, is even worse.
     But Rep. Lee Terry and Rep. Adrian Smith keep lavishing billions of your taxes on Israel, a country with an unemployment rate lower than that of the U.S.
     Israel has repeatedly attacked Gaza hospitals in recent days, including the Al-Aqsa medical facility, prompting the following comment to Al Jazeera:
     Dr Medhat Abbas, director of al-Aqsa Hospital, said any Israeli claim that Hamas was using the hospital "was a big lie".
     "I challenge anyone in the international community to prove that. There are no weapons in our hospital," Abbas said.
     We are ready for any inspection. Any international organisation can come and make sure we have nothing in our hospital."
     "They are professional liars and killers."

FL Tea Party Rep. Curt Clawson claims he mistook U.S. Gov't officials for Indians before being fully briefed

Gawker said Freshman Florida GOP Congressman Curt Clawson ("I love your country!") mistook senior U.S. officials Nisha Biswal (State Department) and Arun Kumar (Commerce Department) as foreign nationals (India) because he apparently wasn't paying attention when they were introduced and also didn't check the cheat sheet on his table which listed everyone in the meeting
     From Foreign Policy:
While Clawson's office did not respond to a request for comment, the congressman apologized in a statement to USA Today later on Friday. "I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize. I'm a quick study, but in this case I shot an air ball," he said.

Friday, July 25, 2014

'Add four words:' The Equality 2014 Pledge for full LGBT equality

The four words are "sexual orientation" and "gender identity, and that is what hundreds of supporting individuals and organizations want added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which they feel will address antigay discrimination in one fell swoop rather than by a patchwork of state and local laws and court decisions. You can take the pledge here.

NBC is head and shoulders above other U.S. TV networks in documenting Israeli attacks on Gaza civilians

And the network's superior reporting has been largely due to Ayman Mohyeldin and Richard Engel, two of whose reports appear below:




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elaine Stritch on dating Marlon Brando when she was 17


Civil asset forfeitures by police on drug pretexts turn "innocent until proven guilty" on its head


The above Daily Show piece mentioned, in passing, that the feds have confiscated $5,000,000,000 in assets — but that doesn't include state and local drug asset seizures like ones made by the hyperactive Tenana, TX police, subject to a class action suit for their abusive interpretation of civil forfeiture laws and depicted in a Daily Show interview of one of that police department's victims.
     The same thing is going on in other states. Below is Tennessee's outrageous abuse of that state's civil forfeiture legislation.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In 2013 OPD told AKSARBENT it recovered 67% of stolen vehicles; the World-Herald says the cops haven't solved more than 20% of car thefts in 10 years

Here are screencaps of AKSARBENT's twitter conversation with OPD last year, in case the Omaha Police Department tweets accidentally get deleted...




     To reiterate: In February of 2013 the Omaha Police told us they "recovered" 67% of  stolen vehicles.
     Last Sunday, however, the Omaha World-Herald printed the following, based on data provided to it by the Omaha Police Department:
...Police solved 20 percent of all car thefts in 2004; last year that number was down to 12 percent. ...Omaha’s 12 percent clearance rate last year was on par with the national average. But it amounts to a major drop from a decade ago, when police handled a higher number of stolen car cases and solved more of them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

People for the American Way issues nine-page report debunking phony right-wing gay victimization narratives

The report is entitled The Persecution Complex: The Religious Right’s Deceptive Rallying Cry:
     The tales of horror keep pouring in: Two middle school girls are forced into a lesbian kiss as part of an anti-bullying program; an Air Force sergeant is fired because he opposes same-sex marriage; a high school track team is disqualified from a meet after an athlete thanks God for the team’s victory; a Veterans Affairs hospital bans Christmas cards with religious messages; a man fixing the lights in a Christmas tree falls victim to a wave of War-on-Christmas violence; an elementary school student is punished for praying over his school lunch; a little boy is forced to take a psychological evaluation after drawing a picture of Jesus.
     None of these stories is true. But each has become a stock tale for Religious Right broadcasters, activists, and in some cases elected officials... (Read more)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Critic Richard Corliss' tribute to one of Hollywood's good guys, James Garner, who died Saturday



Garner played it straight and insisted that others do so too. His departure from the TV show that made him famous, Maverick, happened after he sued Warner Bros. for breach of contract when they stopped paying him during a writers’ strike. He proved in court that the studio had been secretly stockpiling scripts.
     Garner did two stints as Doris Day's husband in Universal rom-coms (one, The Thrill of it All, delightfully eviscerated TV and advertising) and charmed America as Mariotte Hartley's partner in a very successful Polaroid TV ad campaign. (Polaroid initially wanted Paul Newman, but Newman refused to sign on to a morals clause in his contract unless Polaroid did too.)  From Time critic Richard Corliss' valentine:
As faithful in life as in his craft, Garner held true to the Democratic Party, for which he campaigned on behalf of civil rights and a greener Earth, and to his wife of 58 years, Lois Clarke.
   AKSARBENT suggests you toast Garner's life and work by watching him (and Julie Andrews) in The Americanization of Emily.

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Maggie Gallagher on how the GOP can win: prices are too damn high!

Source
Now that the residual genius of Gallagher's stint at the National Organization for Marriage is guiding that organization to victory after victory in state after state and court after court over the dark forces of marriage equality, she is free to advise the GOP on the errors of its ways.
     To whit: Voters don't mind the diminution of jobs in the USA due to increasing automation: what they really care about is declining purchasing power! 
     Of course! If only Mitt Romney had had Maggie's wisdom to draw on while he was running, he could have made a compaign ad of himself at a Piggly-Wiggly complaining about the price of coffee (well, milk) and voters would have connected with him, and the GOP would now be occupying the White House, happily running interference for the beleaguered 1% who now pay far too much for groceries because Obama.
     ...the GOP’s single biggest need is a clear narrative for why voters are experiencing broad and deep drops in their own families’ standard of living. Massive wage stagnation and climbing health-insurance costs combine with price increases in the things that consume middle- and working-class family budgets: groceries, gas, utilities. Main Street hurts while Obama’s Wall Street favorites feast on government guarantees.
     Calling Dems on their imagined pink-elephant threats to contraception, demanding respect for diversity (and nuns), and running ads calling the Democrats on their abortion extremism is the way to win the War for Women. That and beginning to name the pain that all families are feeling.
     It’s not “jobs” or “job creation” per se, it is the broad persistent decline in purchasing power that is weighing most heavily on voters’ minds. A good place to start would be describing that concern and explaining it, between now and November, and coming up with something that helps. It is our most urgent need.

Obama's humble tribute to AIDS researchers on flight MH17, killed by Ukranian separatists; how Russian proxies may already have concealed evidence



Obama's remarks were tacked on to the end of his statement about the downing of a Malaysian Airlines 777 yesterday.
     Let me close by making one additional comment. On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV. These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence. In this world today, we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these -- people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common. It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives. And it’s time for us to heed their example.
     Although other airlines avoided overflights of the strife-wracked Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines did not, courting the increased risk and danger to passengers in order to save money on fuel.
     The Ukrainian government has released a radio intercept of Russian separatists admitting that they shot down a civilian plane, and LiveLeak has the audio, with a link to a partial translation.
     Here is how Russia's proxies may already have destroyed evidence of complicity and or responsibility on their part:
     An assistant to the insurgency's military commander said Friday that rebels had recovered multiple devices from the wreckage and were considering what to do with them, raising fears they could be headed to Moscow. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia had no intention of getting hold of the boxes, and insurgent leader Aleksandr Borodai later contradicted his colleague and said the rebels don't have them anyway...
     Charles Heyman, editor of "Armed Forces of the EU," said missile casings could help establish who had supplied the weapons that brought down the plane. But he said it was likely that the rebels — if they fired the missile — would have removed any missile-casing debris from the scene.
     Heyman said the missile launcher would bear ID numbers that could establish whether it was recently supplied by Russia or came from Ukrainian forces.
     But he said if rebels mistakenly targeted a commercial airliner, thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane, they may have subsequently fled and taken the missile launcher into Russia.
     The Ukrainian Interior Ministry released video purporting to show exactly that: a truck carrying a Buk missile launcher with one of its four missiles apparently missing, rolling toward the Russian border. The ministry said the footage was captured by a police surveillance squad at dawn Friday. There was no way to independently verify that claim.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Buzzfeed's paean to a flatfoot

Several weeks ago, Towleroad discovered San Francisco's very popular Castro beat cop and now Buzzfeed has scoured the internet to come up with a couple dozen photos of Officer Friendly.

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