On this week’s show, a report-back from the Speakout Against War in Lebanon and Palestine held last week in Detroit (Max Sussman, producer). Plus local and international headlines (find them after the ‘more’ link).
The Michigan Citizen reports that the FBI is continuing to monitor the Detroit area’s Arab American community for Hezbollah related involvement. Although officials admit that there has been no
evidence of any specific or immediate threats of terrorism in the area, authorities say that they fear that increased frustration over the Israel/Hizbollah conflict will soon become out of their control.
The FBI has stated that it is concerned over public support demonstrated for Hezbollah, labeled by the U.S. as a terorist organization, but seen by many in the Arab community and elsewhere as a legitimate resistance movement. The FBI has kept in contact with informants, held private meetings with Arab-American and Muslim leaders, and have alerted leaders in the Detroit area Jewish community of supposed potential security threats at synagogues.
In response to the increased federal security watches, Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News and spokesman for the Council of Arab American Organizations, asked who the protesters of the Israeli offensive should chant for. “ George Bush? The one who’s sending Israel bombs to kill their relatives, to kill more people?”
The Ann Arbor News reports that the Michigan Supreme Court recently dismissed the case of Justine Maldonado. Justine Maldonado, an Ypsilanti Township woman, sued Ford motor Company six years ago for the sexual harassment from her supervisor she suffered while on the job.
The Michigan Supreme Court has dismissed her case, now six years later, because she spoke to the media about the supervisor’s past indecent exposure conviction—a conviction that was considered inadmissible evidence in her case.
Some legal observers note that this sets a dangerous precedent. They say that free speech will has ultimately been restricted by this ruling and warn that it may mean that less information about important legal cases will be made public in the future.
The Arab American News reports that the Ypsilanti-based air cargo company Kalitta Air carried four shipments of weapons to Israel during the second half of July. Each shipment carried 20 laser- guided “120 Blue 113″ warheads weighing 4400 pounds each.
The Scottish newspaper “Sunday Mail” exposed America’s attempts to conceal the nature of the cargo. Papers obtained by investigators showed that the U.S. tried to sneak at least one flight through an international airport by claiming it was a civilian flight.
The bombs carried by Kalitta Air were blamed for one of the conflict’s worst attacks- a blitz on July 20th which killed dozens of civilians and destroyed four nine-story buildings.
Judge William e. Collette ruled against the project to build a 600 foot long wastewater-discharge pipeline headed by the Nugent Sand Company this past week. The pipeline would have gone through a 4,000 year old Lake Michigan Dune near Muskegon. The wastewater project was to lower water levels on company property in order to construct 65 homes around two manmade lakes formed from years of sand mining. The Ingham County Circuit Judge sided with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, saying that the Nugent Sand Company’s proposed pipeline was a violation of the Michigan Sand Dune Protection Act.
Nugent Sand Company, which has been in operation since 1912, still has permission from a permit issued from the Department of Environmental Quality in May to mine sand near the Muskegon coast for at least another five years. Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion, turbidity, and flooding, and has negative effects on local wildlife.
Despite strong opposition from local and national groups, the Philippine government allowed the Australian firm Lafayette to start the extraction of gold, silver, copper and zinc in April 2005 on the picturesque island of Rapu Rapu. Lafayette was ordered to halt its operations late last year after two mine spills released cyanide and other contaminants from the mine and into the sea around the island, causing massive fish kills. The government allowed Lafayette to continue operations despite these lapses by granting the company a 30-day test run on July 11, 2006.
With the end of the “test run” last week, locals are putting even more pressure on President Arroyo to stop the mining project. They say that if the mining continues, it will further contaminate thier marine environment, which for many of them is their only means of survival.
On the morning of August 1st, about 2,000 women gathered at the Plaza of the Seven Regions in Oaxaca and marched five miles to the state television station. They are part of the social movement that aims to the remove Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz from office.
About 350 women marched into the state TV Channel 9 facilities and took over the station. Indymedia reports that nobody stopped them. Within an hour, the women had control of an AM station, and an FM station. By evening they had taken control of Channle 9, the state TV station, and were broadcasting videos by indigenous community members, as well as videos of the June 14 attack in which civilians were attacked by armed police. The women took turns with a hand-held microphone to demand that Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz resign. The takeover of Channel 9 has also resulted in accurate coverage of the marches and rallies being aired for the first time on state TV.
Women have played a strong part from the beginning of the movement, as they comprise half of the teachers’ union and/or are mothers of students affected. As parents they have expressed rage against lack of decent schools and classrooms, and most recently against paying enrollment fees for public schools. Free education is guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution. Fees to register, as well as purchase of uniforms and books, appear to have fronted yet another method of state theft.
On 12 August, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1701 aimed at ceasing hostilities’ between Israel and Hizbullah. It went into effect at 8am Monday morning local time, 33 days after Israel began its war on Lebanon.
According to an article on counterpunch.org, resolution 1701 is a weak and ambiguous resolution that has ultimately rewarded the use of violence to settle disputes in breech of international law and the UN Charter itself.
Critics charge that the current resolution does not stop the war and does little to ensure the protection of the civilian population of Lebanon. While Hizbullah must cease “all attacks,” Israel must cease only “offensive military operations.” Israel has already announced it will not lift is blockade of Lebanon in clear violation of both this resolution and international law norms.
Furthermore, resolution 1701 is problematic because it adopts the Israeli narrative by placing the blame of this war entirely on Hizbullah and creating the false impression that civilian deaths and infrastructure damage in Lebanon and Israel were somehow equivalent.
Karim Makdisi, the author of the counterpunch article, reports from Beirut:
“Overall, if the UN is to be judged in terms of its primary mandate, that of ensuring international peace and security via the principle of collective security, then it has quite clearly failed the people of Lebanon, just as it has the people of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.”