Saturday, October 03, 2009

Genocide Studies Media File
September 3 - October 3, 2009

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to

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"Airline Pilot Arrested over Argentine 'Death Flights'"
By Nick Allen
The Telegraph, 24 September 2009
"Julio Alberto Poch, a former Argentine navy lieutenant with Dutch nationality, is wanted in his native country on suspicion of piloting 'death flights,' during which drugged prisoners were thrown from airplanes and helicopters into the Atlantic Sea and Argentine rivers, Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Herbert Brinkman said. He is wanted for questioning in four probes of more than 1,000 deaths during his time as a pilot at the Navy Mechanics School, a notorious torture center in Buenos Aires, Spanish police said Spanish police said Poch was arrested Tuesday night after touching down at Valencia airport on a flight from the Netherlands. Police said they detained him during a 40-minute stopover before he was due to fly back Amsterdam. The Dutch foreign ministry confirmed Poch was a pilot with Transavia, an airline that flies mainly tourist routes between the Netherlands and other European and North African cities. Police said Poch frequently piloted planes to and from Schipol airport in Amsterdam to Maneses airport in Valencia, eastern Spain. They added that a replacement pilot had been arranged so that the flight could continue on its way after the arrest. The Argentine government estimates about 13,000 died during the crackdown on dissent during the country's period of military rule between 1976-1983. Human rights groups say the toll is closer to 30,000."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Yerevan Defends Move toward Ankara"
UPI dispatch, 2 October 2009
"Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said improved relations with Ankara would not harm the greater concerns over genocide or Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish relations with Armenia were complicated by claims of genocide during the Ottoman Empire. Recent ties are complicated over disputes regarding the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. War broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, and the regional fallout from that row remains tense despite a 1994 cease-fire. Sargsyan said normalizing relations with Ankara would not prevent the international recognition of genocide or force Yerevan to back off its claims on Nagorno-Karabakh, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. He told a presidential panel that 'no sensible Armenian can forget the genocide,' adding Ankara would not control any negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her meetings on Nagorno-Karabakh expressed her "strong support" for a resolution, saying the dispute negotiating process should move forward without preconditions. Ankara said in April it would open its borders with Armenia in time for a qualifying match between both national teams for the World Cup scheduled for October."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Ottawa Handed Genocide-Intervention Plan"
By Bill Curry
The Globe and Mail, 22 September 2009
"Just six months after his release as an Al-Qaeda prisoner in the Sahara desert, Robert Fowler was back in Ottawa Tuesday to discuss a trip he took to Rwanda in 1994 as Canada's deputy minister of national defence. Mr. Fowler penned a graphic report in June of that year, which warned the highest levels of government about the extent of genocide ongoing in Rwanda. He estimated that between 400,000 and one million people had been killed and that Canada's reasons for inaction would be 'irrelevant to the historians who chronicle the near-elimination of a tribe while the white world's accountants count and the foreign policy specialists machinate.' That report was ultimately ignored. Today, Mr. Fowler joined other Canadian foreign-policy experts in warning that Ottawa still does not have the policies in place to prevent genocide in the future. 'What we are talking about here is the moral imperative of engaging when truly appalling, unspeakable and unacceptable things are occurring,' he said. Mr. Fowler, a career diplomat who was working as a United Nations special envoy when he was captured last December in Niger, appeared alongside Senator Romeo Dallaire, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and Conservative Senator Hugh Segal to release a 139-page report advising the Canadian government on how to prevent future genocide, ideally without military intervention. The report, titled Mobilizing the Will to Intervene: Leadership and Action to Prevent Mass Atrocities, was prepared by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. The institute's director, Frank Chalk, also spoke at the press conference. Its recommendations include calling on the Prime Minister to make preventing mass atrocities a national priority and to appoint an international security minister. The report says Parliament should create a joint House of Commons-Senate committee on preventing genocide, calls on the government to increase its diplomatic presence in fragile countries and urges the creation of a Canadian Prevention Corps. On the military side, it recommends that Ottawa continue to enhance the capabilities of the Canadian Forces. The report also highlights the important role of the media in mobilizing the public will domestically for governments to act abroad in preventing genocide. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the report.]


"China Is Wordless on Traumas of Communists' Rise"
By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times, 1 October 2009
"Unlike in other cities taken by the People’s Liberation Army during China’s civil war, there were no crowds to greet the victors as they made their triumphant march through the streets of this industrial city in the heart of Manchuria. Even if relieved to learn that hostilities with Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army had come to an end, most residents -- the ones who had not died during the five-month siege -- were simply too weak to go outdoors. 'We were just lying in bed starving to death,' said Zhang Yinghua, now 86, as she recalled the famine that claimed the lives of her brother, her sister and most of her neighbors. 'We couldn’t even crawl.' In what China's history books hail as one of the war’s decisive victories, Mao’s troops starved out the formidable Nationalist garrison that occupied Changchun with nary a shot fired. What the official story line does not reveal is that at least 160,000 civilians also died during the siege of the northeastern city, which lasted from June to October of 1948. The People's Republic of China basked in its 60th anniversary on Thursday with jaw-dropping pageantry, but there were no solemn pauses for the lives lost during the Communist Party’s rise to power -- not for the estimated tens of millions who died during the civil war, nor the millions of landlords, Nationalist sympathizers and other perceived enemies who were eradicated during Mao's drive to consolidate power. 'Changchun was like Hiroshima,' wrote Zhang Zhenglu, a lieutenant colonel in the People's Liberation Army who documented the siege in 'White Snow, Red Blood,' a book that was immediately banned after publication in 1989. 'The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.' The 40,000 who survived did so by eating insects, leather belts and, in some cases, the bodies that littered the streets. By the time Communist troops took over the city, every leaf and blade of grass had been consumed during the final desperate months. There are no monuments or markers recalling the events that decimated Changchun's populace. Most young people have no knowledge of the darker aspects of the siege, and the survivors, now in their 70s and 80s, are reluctant to give voice to long-buried trauma. [...]"

"China's 'Cancer Villages' Bear Witness to Economic Boom"
By Tan Ee Lyn
Reuters dispatch, 16 September 2009
"One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages. The river's flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance. 'All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you'll get rashes and a terrible itch,' said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life. 'Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.' Cancer casts a shadow over the villages in this region of China in southern Guangdong province, nestled among farmland contaminated by heavy metals used to make batteries, computer parts and other electronics devices. Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a 2007 World Bank study. ... 'China has many "cancer villages" and it is very likely that these increased cases of cancer are due to water pollution,' said Edward Chan, an official with Greenpeace in southern China. But it's not just water, the carcinogenic heavy metals are also entering the food chain. Mounds of tailings from mineral mining are discarded alongside paddy fields throughout the region. ... Few families in the villages downstream from the Daboshan mine have been left untouched by cancer. The most common cancers are those of the stomach, liver, kidney and colon, accounting for about 85 percent of cancers. Cancer incidence rates in these villages are not available, but rights groups say they are far higher than the national average. ... Across China, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of small, anonymous villages that are suffering the consequences of the country's rapid economic expansion, villages with rates and types of cancers that experts say can only be due to pollution. This may be the fate of more and more of China's population as mines and factories spew out tens of millions of tonnes of pollution every year, into the water system as well as the air, to produce the fruits of China's economic growth. Death rates from cancer rose 19 percent in cities and 23 percent in rural areas in 2006, compared to 2005, according to official Chinese media, although they did not give exact figures. [...]"


"Australian Police Launch War Crimes Inquiry into 1975 Murder of British Journalists"
By Anne Barrowclough and Richard Lloyd Parry
The Times, 9 September 2009
"Australian police have launched a war crimes investigation into the deaths of five journalists, including two Britons, killed during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor 34 years ago. The decision, which comes after decades of lobbying by the families of the dead men, could lead to criminal charges being brought in an Australian court against senior Indonesian officers. It will increase pressure on the British Government to take a tougher line on the killing of the so-called 'Balibo Five,' named after the obscure East Timor border town where the group of British, Australian and New Zealand journalists died in 1975. Last year, an Australian coroner found that Indonesian commandos, including one who went on to become a Cabinet minister, murdered Brian Peters, then a 26-year old cameraman for Australia’s Channel 9 television. He had gone to East Timor to investigate reports of Indonesian infiltration. With him was a fellow Briton, 29-year old Malcolm Rennie, and three journalists from another Australian channel. The five men were killed while filming a clandestine attack on East Timorese soldiers in the town of Balibo by Indonesian soldiers and local anti-independence East Timorese. Eye witness reports suggest that they were deliberately murdered, and their bodies burned, in order to prevent evidence of Indonesia's covert war on East Timor from being broadcast to the outside world. ... The bodies were immediately burned and nothing more than a few charred bones, hurriedly buried together in a single grave, have ever been recovered. Public opinion in Australia was outraged by the deaths. Subsequently released government documents have revealed that British and Australian diplomats, who tacitly encouraged Indonesia’s brutal invasion of East Timor, did their best to avoid embarrassing its government with questions about the killing of their citizens. [...]"


"Ahmadinejad Proud Holocaust Words Spur Rage"
Associated Press dispatch on, 21 September 2009
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he was proud his denial of the Holocaust had enraged the West, as the controversial leader geared up for a trip to the United Nations to stress a message of 'peace and friendship.' Ahmadinejad's latest comment about the killing of millions of Jews during World War II comes as Iran is locked in a bitter dispute with the United States and other Western nations over its nuclear program. Even as that fight continues, his remarks were sure to earn the Iranian president an even more frigid reception when he heads to New York on Tuesday to attend the U.N. General Assembly. 'The anger of the world's professional manslayers is (a source of) pride for us,' Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. He was responding to a question about criticism from the European Union following a speech on Friday in which he questioned whether the Holocaust was a 'real event.' The manslayers reference appeared to be directed primarily at Israel and the United States. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly raised questions about the Holocaust. He has said it has been used as a pretext for Israel's formation, and that Israel and Jewish groups are actively muzzling any attempt to link shame over the Nazi atrocities with the what many in the Muslim Middle East believe is the West's bias for the Jewish state at their expense. The comments have done little to bolster sympathy for Iran's conservative government, which the United States and others believe is looking to develop enrich uranium with an eye on nuclear weapons production. Iranian officials deny the charge, saying the program is for purely peaceful purposes. [...]"


"Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran"
By Mark Hosenball
Newsweek, 16 September 2009
"The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003. The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's 'Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities' in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had 'high confidence' that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran 'halted its nuclear weapons program.' The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government 'at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,' U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had 'moderate confidence' that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts. ... This latest U.S. intelligence-community assessment is potentially controversial for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is at odds with more alarming assessments propounded by key U.S. allies, most notably Israel. Officials of Israel's conservative-led government have been delivering increasingly dire assessments of Iran’s nuclear progress and have leaked shrill threats about a possible Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, an atomic-weapons expert who follows Iranian nuclear developments closely, said the U.S. government's current judgments will continue to provoke contention and debate. 'People are looking at the same information and reaching different judgments,' he said. 'Given all the developments in Iran, these assessments are hard to believe with any certainty. Nobody's been able to bring total proof either way.' [...]"
[n.b. Israeli government spokesperson: "Dammit, don't interrupt our hysteria with sane assessments!"]


"How Islamist Gangs Use Internet to Track, Torture and Kill Iraqi Gays"
By Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke
The Observer, 13 September 2009
"Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims. 'It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up,' he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed. Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone. The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. 'Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts,' he told the Observer. 'We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed.' The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone. Dr. Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. 'Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries,' Dodge said. Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein -- indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become 'the worst place for homosexuals on Earth.' [...]"

"Iraq's New Surge: Gay Killings"
By Rasha Moumneh
Foreign Policy, 9 September 2009
"[...] As the world hails Iraq's supposed return to normality, the country's militias -- the same ones that spent years waging a sectarian civil war -- have found a new, less apparent target: men suspected of being gay. The systematic killings, which began earlier this year, reveal the cracks behind Iraq's fragile calm. Iraq's leaders may talk of security and democracy from behind barbed wire in the Green Zone, but the surge of murders against gay men is a stark sign of how far Iraqi society still has to go. During a 10-day Human Rights Watch research trip to Iraq in April, we heard harrowing stories of torture, abductions, kidnappings, extortion, and murder. We listened to dozens of men who had faced violence at the hands of armed militias, attacked by youths with guns for violating the unwritten codes of Iraqi masculinity. A number of signs might implicate one as being not "manly" enough, from neighborhood gossip that a man is gay to looking somehow effeminate or foreign in the wrong people's eyes: wearing one's hair too long or one's jeans too tight, for example. There is no count available for the number of deaths since the killings began earlier this year, but one U.N. worker told us that the victims could number in the hundreds. Not a single murder has been adequately investigated, and not a single murderer has been arrested. Infiltrated by militias and fearing for their reputations if they defend 'immorality,' government officials turn a blind eye. Most survivors pointed to Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia as the main culprit in the attacks. The stand-down of al-Sadr's men over the past year has been pointed to as a sign of the U.S. troop surge's success. Now, however, many Iraqis speculate that the Mahdi Army is hoping to revitalize its street cred by seizing a murderous new role: as guardians of morality. Western attention has always focused primarily on sectarian attacks in Iraq. Yet al-Sadr's militia and its counterparts in countless neighborhoods and towns have long had other targets in their cross hairs. These men claim to bear the banners of religion and morality, defending against any transgressors. They paint themselves as the caretakers of tradition, culture, and national authenticity -- which often means keeping women, as well as men, in their rigidly enforced traditional roles. [...]"


"Quentin Tarantino Takes Inglourious Basterds to Israel"
By Ben Child and Agencies
The Guardian, 16 September 2009
"It has been described as a 'Jewish wish-fulfilment fantasy', and by star Eli Roth as 'kosher porn.' But how will Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds go down in Israel? The director is due to find out for himself after flying in to visit the country for the first time yesterday. Tarantino told reporters at a news conference ahead of the film's Israeli premiere last night that he was keen to see for himself how Basterds, which centres on a band of Jewish-American soldiers who slaughter and scalp Nazi soldiers as retribution for the Holocaust, was received. 'To me, taboos are made to be broken. They're meant to be pushed over,' he said. 'One of the things that I think is a drag a little bit about movies dealing with the second world war for the last 20 years is that ... all the movies have really focused in on the victimisation of the second world war. I'll be seeing it for the first time in an Israeli cinema. I'll be seeing it for the first time with an Israeli audience,' he added. 'I'm interested to see, "OK, are there laughs here? Does the suspense work here as well as it works somewhere else?"' Basterds depicts an alternate universe in which an attempt is made to end the war by brutally killing off all the top leadership of the Nazi party in a single night. It also stars Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender, Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent. Reaction has been mixed from critics, with the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw labelling it a film in which 'a once dazzlingly exciting artist suddenly and catastrophically belly-flops, to the dismay of his admirers.' Tarantino was joined in Israel by the film's producer Lawrence Bender and one of its lead actors, Christoph Waltz, who plays an eccentric SS colonel dubbed 'The Jew Hunter.' The trio have visited Jerusalem's Holocaust museum together."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. It is interesting to see this pop-cultural echo and reworking of a theme -- Jewish revenge fantasies and revenge attacks against Nazis/Germans -- which I discuss at some length in my book chapter, "'When the Rabbit's Got the Gun': Subaltern Genocide and the Genocidal Continuum," in Nicholas Robins and Adam Jones, eds., Genocides by the Oppressed: Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice (Indiana University Press, 2009).]

"How Holocaust Survivor Yevgeny Bistrizky Ended Up on Israel's Streets"
By Sheera Frenkel
The Times, 4 September 2009
"Tucked away in the closets of Yevgeny Bistrizky's new flat is a worn and dirty blanket -- for nearly eight months it was the only bedding that the 71-year-old Holocaust survivor possessed. Until two weeks ago Mr Bistrizky was homeless on the streets of Tel Aviv, living in a dog park, using several benches as a makeshift bed and relying on residents for food. He slept there despite his dislike of dogs. One of his only memories of the Holocaust was watching dogs feed on the bodies near the killing fields of Babi Yar, where 33,771 Jews were shot in September 1941. Their bodies were thrown in a gorge outside Kiev in one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust. Mr. Bistrizky said: 'I never thought that I would again be with nothing. I kept hoping that things would get better but I didn't know what to do.' How a Holocaust survivor could find himself homeless in Israel is a question that has gone unanswered since Mr. Bistrizky's story was published several weeks ago in a Hebrew daily newspaper. More than 50,000 Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line in Israel. Mr. Bistrizky's is the only known case of a survivor who became homeless. The Latet organisation, which provides aid to the needy, discovered him after concerned residents contacted the group. They were astonished to learn that he had been living in the dog park for eight months, cleaning himself with a garden hose inside the rubbish room of a building, and hoping that the faeces-littered park would deter people from trying to attack him in his sleep. Latet was unable to find him a suitable flat and contacted a newspaper to publish his story. Since then it has received hundreds of calls from people offering food, clothing and rooms in their homes. One company offered a flat in a building for the elderly. The room is sparse but clean. The only homely touch is two Ukrainian calendars with photographs of kittens above his single bed. Mr. Bistrizky said: 'Sometimes I'm afraid I'll wake up and it will all be gone. That I'll be back on the park bench and this will all be a dream.' ..."


"Palestinians Halt Push on War Report"
By Neil MacFarquhar
The New York Times, 1 October 2009
"In a startling shift, the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council dropped its efforts to forward a report accusing Israel of possible war crimes to the Security Council, under pressure from the United States, diplomats said Thursday. The Americans argued that pushing the report now would derail the Middle East peace process that they are trying to revive, diplomats said. 'We don't want to create an obstacle for them,' Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said by telephone from Geneva, where the Human Rights Council is based. 'We want to get a strong resolution to deal with the report in a good manner to get a benefit from it.' The report -- produced by a panel of investigators led by an internationally respected jurist, Richard Goldstone -- found extensive evidence that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups took actions amounting to war crimes during the Gaza war last winter. Israel says that it acted only to halt missile fire from Gaza that terrorized Israeli civilians. The position of the United States since the Goldstone report was released in early September has been that the Human Rights Council alone should deal with it. But in a compromise, the body is expected to pass a resolution Friday presented by the bloc of Arab and Muslim states that any action will be delayed until the next meeting in March. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned the Palestinians and international powers earlier Thursday that any action to advance the report would be a denial of Israel's 'right to self-defense' and would kill any chance of peace talks. [...]"

"US Dismisses UN Gaza Report"
People's Daily Online, 1 October 2009
"The Obama administration has 'grave concerns' about the recommendations put forth by the Goldstone report on Israel's conduct during the Gaza offensive, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Wednesday. 'We believe that the mandate for the Goldstone report was one-sided and that many of the recommendations are appropriately dealt with by the institutions within Israel,' she said. 'We and other nations will be engaged about that but we have grave concerns about the recommendations.' Clinton made the comments to reporters after chairing a special Security Council session on women and peace and security. The United States holds the rotating Council presidency in September. The investigation -- commissioned by UN Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- examined a number of alleged war crimes committed by Israel and Palestine in January. The 575-page report, released on Sept. 15 concluded that while both sides were responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, Israel reacted to Hamas attacks with disproportionate force. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. [...]"
[n.b. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.]

"Sliming Goldstone and His Report"
By Uri Avnery, 21 September 2009
"Is there no limit to the wiles of those dastardly anti-Semites? Now they have decided to slander the Jews with another blood libel. Not the old accusation of slaughtering Christian children to use their blood for baking Passover matzoth, as in the past, but of the mass slaughter of women and children in Gaza. And who did they put at the head of the commission which was charged with this task? Neither a British Holocaust-denier nor a German neo-Nazi, nor even an Iranian fanatic, but of all people a Jewish judge who bears the very Jewish name of Goldstone (originally Goldstein, of course). And not just a Jew with a Jewish name, but a Zionist, whose daughter, Nicole, is an enthusiastic Zionist who once 'made Aliyah' and speaks fluent Hebrew. And not just a Jewish Zionist, but a South African who opposed apartheid and was appointed to the country's Constitutional Court when that system was abolished. All this in order to defame the most moral army in the world, fresh from waging the most just war in history! Richard Goldstone is not the only Jew manipulated by the world-wide anti-Semitic conspiracy. Throughout the three weeks of the Gaza War, more than 10 thousand Israelis demonstrated against it again and again. They were photographed carrying signs saying 'End the massacre in Gaza,' 'Stop the war crimes' 'Israel commits war crimes,' 'Bombing civilians is a war crime.' They chanted in unison: 'Olmert, Olmert, it is true -- They're waiting in The Hague for you!' Who would have believed that there are so many anti-Semites in Israel?! ... The official Israeli reaction to the Goldstone report would have been amusing, if the matter had not been so grave. Except for the 'usual suspects' (Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and their ilk), the condemnation of the report was unanimous, total and extreme, from Shimon Peres, that advocate of every abomination, down to the last scribbler in the newspapers. Nobody, but nobody, dealt with the subject itself. Nobody examined the detailed conclusions. With such an anti-Semitic smear, there is no need for that. Actually, there is no need to read the report at all. The public, in all its diversity, stood up like one person, in order to rebuff the plot, as it has learned to do in the thousand years of pogroms, Spanish inquisition and Holocaust. A siege mentality, the ghetto mentality. The instinctive reaction in such a situation is denial. It's just not true. It never happened. It’s all a pack of lies. By itself, that is a natural reaction. When a human being is faced with a situation which he cannot handle, denial is the first refuge. If things did not happen, there is no need to cope. Basically, there is no difference between the deniers of the Armenian genocide, the deniers of the annihilation of the Native Americans and the deniers of the atrocities of all wars. From this point of view, it can be said that denial is almost 'normal.' But with us it has been developed into an art form. [...]"

"Goldstone Report: Israel's Failings"
By George Bisharat
The Los Angeles Times, 18 September 2009
"Will Israel's decades-long impunity from international law finally come to an end? That is the question facing the international community in the aftermath of the just-released Goldstone report. Richard Goldstone, formerly a supreme court justice in South Africa and chief prosecutor in the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, headed a four-person United Nations mission investigating both Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes during Israel's winter attack on the Gaza Strip last winter. The mission conducted 188 interviews and reviewed more than 300 reports, 10,000 pages of documents, 30 videos and 1,200 photographs. The Israeli government barred the group from entering Israel or the Gaza Strip (it reached Gaza, ultimately, through Egypt). By contrast, Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, cooperated with the mission. The 575-page report concluded that both sides committed war crimes before, during and after the intense fighting in December-January. In its findings on Israel's conduct, the report noted that the ruinous siege on Gaza, imposed long before the invasion, collectively punished its residents in violation of international law. During the attack, Israeli troops killed civilians without justification, wantonly destroyed civilian infrastructure and private homes, and used weapons illegally. Israeli troops targeted and destroyed Gaza's last functioning flour mill. Israeli armored bulldozers razed the chicken farm that provided 10% of Gaza's eggs, burying 31,000 chickens in rubble. Israeli gunners bombed a raw sewage lagoon, releasing 200,000 cubic meters of filth into neighboring farmland. Repeated pinpoint strikes on a water well complex destroyed all of its essential machinery. These are just some of the facts that led the mission to conclude that Israel's objective in the attack was \to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.' Since a January cease-fire, Israel has maintained its illegal blockade, keeping relief supplies and construction materials from Gaza, and thus guaranteeing continued Palestinian civilian suffering. The Goldstone mission found that Hamas, in its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, also committed war crimes, calling the rockets 'a deliberate attack against the civilian population.' The report recommends that all parties to the fighting conduct credible internal investigations of the abuses it documented. If they fail to do so within six months, the report recommends that the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation. [...]"

"UN War Crimes Allegation Won't Change Israel's Calculations"
By Tony Karon
Time, 17 September 2009
"Anyone waiting for Israeli generals and political leaders to face war crimes charges at The Hague over January's Gaza invasion ought not to hold their breath, despite a new report by a UN Human Rights Council accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the confrontation. And despite Israel's disquiet over losing the battle for international public opinion and growing criticism over its actions in Palestinian territories, the Israeli military is unlikely to do much differently the next time it goes into Gaza. The UN investigation concluded that Israel's January offensive in Gaza had been 'a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.' It also slammed the Jewish state's economic blockade of the territory. At the same time, it accused Hamas of war crimes for firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel, which refused to cooperate with the probe, slammed it as biased and accused it of 'rewarding terrorism.' That follows the pattern of Israel's dismissal of a steady stream of similar assessments of the Gaza operation by Israeli and international human rights organizations. On the basis of its own internal inquiries, the Israeli Defense Force insists its forces took extra care to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza. But the U.N. report is potentially more damaging, and the fact that its key author is the widely respected Jewish South African Judge Richard Goldstone makes it more difficult to dismiss his work as an anti-Israel smear. Goldstone has ties to Israel and a reputation for honest exploration of politically sensitive subjects built in the course of his work at the head of the his country's Truth Commission and, later, of the Hague tribunal for war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, his report is being read as a smear in the Israeli mainstream. Unlike the charges by the various human rights groups, the UN report could potentially carry legal consequences. It is scheduled to be discussed on Sept. 28 at the U.N. Human Rights Council, where member countries might seek to have the matter taken up by the Security Council — which can, if it chooses, refer the matter to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Although political factors make such a course of action highly unlikely at the moment, Israel's foreign ministry is taking no chances. It is launching a diplomatic push focused on the veto-wielding five permanent Security Council members (Russia, China, Britain, France and the U.S.) to prevent it being taken up. [...]"
[n.b. "A deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population." Apart from being commendably concise, that clearly meets the legal definitions of war crimes, terrorism, and crimes against humanity.]

"UN Inquiry Finds Gaza War Crimes"
Al-Jazeera dispatch, 15 September 2009
"A United Nations investigation into Israel's war on Gaza has found evidence that both sides committed war crimes during the three-week conflict. Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the inquiry, said he found evidence of Israeli war crimes in the assault, which started on December 27, 2008, and killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. His report also suggested that Palestinian rocket fire into Israel may constitute a crime against humanity. The report, which comes at the end of a six-month inquiry and will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council later this month, said Israel had violated international humanitarian law and used disproportionate force. The report said Israel deliberately attacked civilians, failed to take precautions to minimise loss of civilian life and cited strong evidence that Israeli forces committed 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Convention. Judge Goldstone, a former South African judge, said: 'The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defence Force.' The report 'concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity,' by firing rockets into southern Israel. The report also said there were 'numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians' and civilian objects. 'The Israelis say they provided leaflets and made thousands of calls to Gazan citizens, but after they called them and dropped leaflets, they didn't give them any option of where to go.' The firing of white phosphorous shells and the use of high explosive artillery shells were listed as 'violations of humanitarian law.' Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Gaza, said: 'The theme that runs through this new UN report is the idea of excessive force being used [by Israel] and deliberate targeting of civilians. There was nothing to warn civilians that there were incoming rockets. The Israelis say they provided leaflets and made thousands of calls to Gazan citizens, but after they called them and dropped leaflets, they didn't give them any option of where to go. Even the United Nations shelter was hit.' Our correspondent said Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza were studying what Goldstone had said and would comment on it in due course. [...]"


"Jews Who Fled Nazis as Kids Recreate Train Trip"
Associated Press dispatch on, 4 September 2009
"A vintage train carrying Holocaust survivors pulled into London on Friday, ending a three-day trip across Europe that marked the 70th anniversary of their extraordinary rescue by a young British stockbroker. Waiting to greet them at London's Liverpool Street Station was Sir Nicholas Winton, 100, who organized the rail 'kindertransports' that carried hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to safety in 1939. The steam train carried 170 people, including about two dozen survivors of the evacuations and members of their families. Winton, frail and leaning on a stick, shook hands with the former evacuees as they stepped off the train from Prague. 'It's wonderful to see you all after 70 years,' he said. 'Don't leave it quite so long until we meet here again.' Other Holocaust survivors had gathered at the station to meet the train. 'It's amazing. It happened so many years ago yet I remember it so vividly,' said Otto Deutsch, 81, who lives in Southend, southern England. 'I never saw my parents again or my sister. My parents were shot and what they did with my sister I really don't want to know.' In late 1938, Winton, a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange, had traveled to what was then Czechoslovakia at the invitation of a friend working at the British Embassy. Alarmed by the influx of refugees from the Sudetenland region recently annexed by Germany, Winton immediately began organizing a way to get Jewish children out of the country. He feared, correctly, that Czechoslovakia soon would be invaded by the Nazis and Jewish residents would be sent to concentration camps. Winton persuaded British officials to accept the children and set about fundraising and organizing the trip. He arranged eight trains that carried 669 mostly Jewish children through Germany to Britain in the months before the outbreak of World War II. The youngsters were sent to foster homes in England, and a few to Sweden. None saw their parents again. The largest evacuation was scheduled for Sept. 3, 1939, the day that Britain declared war on Germany. That ninth train was never allowed to leave Prague, and almost none of the 250 children trying to flee that day survived the war. [...]"


"Pakistan’s Army Said to Be Linked to Many Killings"
By Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah
The New York Times, 14 September 2009
"Two months after the Pakistani Army wrested control of the Swat Valley from Taliban militants, a new campaign of fear has taken hold, with scores, perhaps hundreds, of bodies dumped on the streets in what human rights advocates and local residents say is the work of the military. In some cases, people may simply have been seeking revenge against the ruthless Taliban, in a society that tends to accept tit-for-tat reprisals, local politicians said. But the scale of the retaliation, the similarities in the way that many of the victims have been tortured and the systematic nature of the deaths and disappearances in areas that the military firmly controls have led local residents, human rights workers and some Pakistani officials to conclude that the military has had a role in the campaign. The Pakistani Army, which is supported by the United States and in the absence of effective political leadership is running much of Swat with an iron hand, has strenuously denied any involvement in the killings. The army has acknowledged that bodies have turned up, but its spokesmen assert that the killings are the result of civilians settling scores. 'There are no extrajudicial killings in our system,' said Col. Akhtar Abbas, the army spokesman in Swat. 'If something happens, we have a foolproof accountability system.' But neighbors of the victims and Swat residents say there is something more going on than revenge killings by civilians. ... Reports on Sept. 1 in two national daily newspapers, Dawn and The News, said the bodies of 251 people had been found dumped in Swat. The Human Rights Commission, a nongovernmental organization, disputed that all the victims had been killed by civilians, saying last month that there were credible reports of retaliatory killings by the military. It said that witnesses had seen mass graves and that in some cases, the bodies appeared to be those of militants. The exact number of alleged killings was impossible to calculate because the presence of human rights monitors was limited by the authorities, the commission said. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which investigates illegal killings, was ordered by the military to leave Swat last month over matters unrelated to the killings, a senior Pakistani government official and the Red Cross said. [...]"


"Hugo Chávez Accuses Israel of Genocide"
By Rory McCarthy
The Guardian, 9 September 2009
"Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, has accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians, saying the offensive in Gaza early this year was unprovoked. 'The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They're doing it openly,' he was quoted as saying in an interview with the French newspaper, Le Figaro. 'What was it, if not genocide? ... The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians.' His comments came after a tour of Middle Eastern and Arab countries. Israel has maintained that the three-week Gaza assault was a response to rockets fired from Gaza by militant groups. However, several human rights groups have said that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups, notably Hamas, breached international law and should be investigated for possible war crimes. A key UN report on the conflict, led by the respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, is due to be published within weeks. New casualty figures for the Gaza offensive, compiled after months of research by an Israeli human rights group, show 1,387 Palestinians died, of whom more than half were not taking part in hostilities. The research from B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, challenges figures produced by the Israeli military, which argued that far fewer Palestinian civilians died. B'Tselem said that its field researchers in Gaza interviewed witnesses and relatives of the dead, cross-checked information with Palestinian and international rights groups and with Israeli military statements. 'B'Tselem did everything within its capability to verify the data,' the group said. It had asked to see an Israeli military list of fatalities but was refused. Israeli authorities also refused to allow Israeli and West Bank staff from B'Tselem to enter Gaza for the work. The research found that 773 of those Palestinians killed were not taking part in hostilities; among them were 320 children under the age of 18. Field workers from the group visited the homes of the dead children, checking photographs, death certificates and other documents to establish the toll. Another 330 of the dead were involved in the fighting and 248 were police officers killed at their police stations, most in a wave of air strikes on the first day of the conflict. On the Israeli side, three civilians were killed by Palestinian militant rocket fire and 10 soldiers died, four of whom were killed accidentally by their own troops. [...]"
[n.b. Add the 248 defenseless police officers killed at their stations, who were uninvolved in the fighting, to the 773 "official" civilians, and you get a much more accurate sense of the proportion of noncombatants murdered in this brutal assault.]


"Stalin Grandson in Court Fight to Clear Dictator's Name"
By Luke Harding
The Guardian, 14 September 2009
"[...] At lunchtime tomorrow Yevgeny Dzhugashvili -- the offspring of Stalin's ill-fated son Yakov, from the dictator's first marriage -- is due to appear at Moscow's Basmanny court. Dzhugashvili lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. But at Zhura's invitation, he is flying to Moscow to take part in a libel action against Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading liberal newspaper. He's retired and normally lives with his family in Georgia. But he's decided he wants to make a stand on this,' said Zhura, 63, a former trade official. Dzhugashvili is demanding $299,000 (£180,000) in damages from the paper after it said that his grandfather personally signed politburo orders to execute civilians. Author Anatoly Yablokov -- who wrote the piece -- says such a legal case would have been unthinkable until recently, but is now depressingly possible. 'There is a change in society's view of Stalin,' Yablokov said last month at a preliminary court hearing. 'We hear much more now about how much of an effective manager Stalin was, much more than in the 1990s, and much less about the repression.' According to Zhura, however, Stalin created a society superior to its capitalist rivals, not just in the field of scientific endeavour but also on the football pitch. 'During a tour of Britain in November 1945, Moscow Dynamo FC thrashed Manchester United. We even beat your Arsenal,' Zhura noted. Zhura also insists that the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop pact -- under which Hitler and Stalin secretly carved up eastern Europe in August 1939 -- was not the cause of the second world war. Instead, he blames another less well-known agreement, signed in the same month: the Anglo-Polish agreement between Britain and Warsaw. [...]"


"Rwanda's Bid to Forget the Genocide"
By Madeleine Morris
BBC Online, 1 October 2009
"It could not have been a more incongruous sight. On top of one of Rwanda's famous thousand hills, about an hour's drive out of Kigali, a dozen women dressed in an array of mismatched African prints tilled the red-soiled fields with their hoes. The men, in second-hand tracksuit pants and European football shirts from seasons played long ago, did the same work in a separate field. It might have been a scene from the early part of last century, were it not for the shiny, grey, top-of-the-range bus parked just above the fields on the red-dirt track. 'Bridging the digital divide' it boasted down its side in bright green lettering. Inside school students used 20 top-of-the-range laptops to study, and catch up on email and Facebook. It was the past and future of Rwanda within a stone's throw of each other. And despite the heavy weight of its past, Rwanda is a country that is impatient to reach its future. The government hopes high-speed internet connections will help turn this nation of subsistence farmers into a hi-tech, service-based economy. The buses are just one of many projects trying to make the whole country computer-literate. But for a nation that so badly wants to prove itself to the world, Rwandans are very reluctant to speak. In fact, never have I had such a hard time getting people to talk to the BBC. 'So sorry, I can talk to you for background but I can't go on the air,' they would say, or: 'I would love to help you, but I can't get involved in anything political.' Call after call looking for contributors was met with very polite but firm refusal. 'Even if they agree to come on, they won't tell you the truth. They'll tell you what they think they're supposed to tell you,' was the refrain I heard over and over, as I made calls and contacts before we went. Even Rwandans would say it, 'We don't even tell the truth to each other. Maybe in the family, yes, but to outsiders, no.' [...]"


"NY Appeals Court Rules for Canadian Energy Company"
Associated Press dispatch on, 2 October 2009
"A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that a lawsuit alleging that a Canadian energy company aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan was properly thrown out. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan agreed Friday with a 2006 judge's ruling that found there was no credible evidence to support the claims against Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. The company is Canada's biggest independent oil and gas exploration and production company. A 2001 lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was brought by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan on behalf of current and former residents of southern Sudan who suffered injuries during six years of a decades-long conflict in the region. Both the Canadian and U.S. governments had opposed the lawsuit."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Stopping Investment in Sudan:
Activists Use Tools of Capitalism to Fight Darfur Genocide"

By Henryk M. Broder
Spiegel Online, 21 September 2009
"The non-profit organization Investors Against Genocide is trying to dissuade Americans from investing in companies that help fund the genocide in Darfur. But, as a recent shareholder meeting showed, not everyone wants to put principle before profit. In her career as a family lawyer, Mary Haskell made good money and saved enough to be able to retire at 60. ... Then a friend took her along to a talk about the situation in Sudan's wartorn Darfur region. 'I knew from the newspapers what was happening there, but that evening I realized I didn't know anything,' she recalls. Now, two years later, Haskell is at a shareholder meeting in Boston. She steps up to take the cordless microphone, and asks a question. 'Why isn't Exxon, an American company, allowed to do business in Sudan, while Fidelity is allowed to invest in funds that have shares in companies involved with the Sudanese government, like Petrochina?' She has summed up the problem in a nutshell. 'You can picture it as a doll inside a doll,' she explains. Fidelity is an investment trust managing assets worth billions, which come from companies, institutions and private investors like Mary Haskell and her late husband. Fidelity invests this money in funds that have in turn invested their capital in businesses around the world. In this way Haskell too has a share in Petrochina, a Chinese company that buys crude oil from Sudan. 'The revenue from this business helps the Sudanese government finance the genocide in Darfur,' she says. In a bid to help stop the bloodbath, Haskell registered for a recent Fidelity Trust shareholder meeting. The meeting was held on Aug. 14 in a conference room in a high-rise in Boston, next to the city's South Station. Theoretically, it could just as well have been held in the coffee shop next door, since aside from Haskell and her seven friends from the non-profit organization Investors Against Genocide, no other investors showed up. Nonetheless, the small group was taken very seriously. ... After clearing up a few procedural questions, the chairman turned the floor over to Eric Cohen, the founder of Investors Against Genocide. The visibly nervous Cohen read his statement from a sheet of paper. 'Many would suppose that today, 64 years after the end of the Holocaust and 15 years after the genocide in Rwanda, no company which values the public's trust would attempt to profit from connections to genocide,' he began. 'Looking back, who would invest in firms that sought to profit by selling Zyklon-B gas to the Nazis or machetes for the genocide in Rwanda? Six years after the start of the bloodshed in Darfur and five years after it was recognized as genocide by the US Congress, Cohen said, 'we see that this problem is neither theoretical nor historical.' [...]"


"Book Documents Holocaust in FSU", 1 October 2009
"A new encyclopedia documents the history of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union. The book is a project of the Russian Holocaust Center and Rosspen publishing house. Ilya Altman, leader of the project and co-chair of the Russian Holocaust Center of Moscow; Alla Gerber, president of the Moscow Holocaust Foundation; and Anatoly Podolsky, director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, presented the encyclopedia Thursday at a seminar on the Holocaust. Leaders of the project, scientists, formers prisoners of ghettos and concentration camps, and educators particpated in the seminar at the Institution of Political, Ethnic and National Studies of the Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Kiev. The 'Encyclopedia of [the] Holocaust on the territory of the USSR' features newly discovered and mostly unpublished photos, facts and recollections. The book also contains documents that shed new light on Jewish life during the occupation and Holocaust. The encyclopedia includes articles by nearly 100 authors from 12 countries, including biographical articles and those devoted to the key issues of the Holocaust. The authors used materials from more than 70 archives and museums in the Russian Federation and former Soviet countries, as well as Israel, Germany, Poland, the United States and France. Some of the articles were written by former concentration camp and ghetto prisoners, as well as survivors. One thousand copies of the book, in Russian, were printed."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Grayson Regrets Comparing Health Care Crisis to Holocaust", 2 October 2009
"Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who has drawn fire for saying Republicans want Americans to 'die quickly' if they get sick, expressed regret Friday for comparing the health care crisis to a 'holocaust.' Grayson vowed not to use the term again in a letter he sent Friday to the Andrew Rosenkranz, Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization that fights anti-Semitism. Grayson evoked the Holocaust during a speech on the House floor Wednesday even though he wasn't referring to the genocide of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. 'I call upon all of us to do our jobs for the sake of America, for the sake of those dying people and their families,' Grayson said. 'I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.' Grayson, who is Jewish and says he has relatives who died in the Holocaust, said he wrote the letter to address the concerns his comments caused. 'In no way did I mean to minimize the Holocaust,' Grayson wrote in the letter obtained by 'I regret the choice of words, and I will not repeat it.' Grayson added that he is a 'staunch' supporter of Israel and has repeatedly called for action against Iran to avoid another Holocaust. Rosenkranz told Grayson was responding to a letter he sent him stating the group's position that led to a phone conversation between the two on Thursday. 'It's an improper use of Holocaust imagery,' Rosenkranz said he told Grayson. 'It should never be used. A civil discourse regarding the health debate is one thing but comparing it to perhaps the world's worst atrocity in the history of mankind is unfortunate and after speaking with him, he said he regrets making the remark.' Rosenkranz said it didn't make a difference whether Grayson was using the broader definition of 'holocaust.' 'I think it's important to note that when you hear the word "holocauast" today, most people think of the genocide of six million Jews and that was never a point of contention between the two of us.' Grayson still refuses to apologize for his 'die quickly' comments that he made on Tuesday. His re-election campaign poked fun at the GOP for demanding an apology. [...]"
[n.b. See story immediately below.]


"Study Links 45,000 US Deaths to Lack of Insurance"
By Susan Heavey
Reuters dispatch, 17 September 2009
"Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday. 'We're losing more Americans every day because of inaction ... than drunk driving and homicide combined,' Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters. Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage. The findings come amid a fierce debate over Democrats' efforts to reform the nation's $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry by expanding coverage and reducing healthcare costs. President Barack Obama's has made the overhaul a top domestic policy priority, but his plan has been besieged by critics and slowed by intense political battles in Congress, with the insurance and healthcare industries fighting some parts of the plan. The Harvard study, funded by a federal research grant, was published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health. It was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors government-backed or 'single-payer' health insurance. An similar study in 1993 found those without insurance had a 25 percent greater risk of death, according to the Harvard group. The Institute of Medicine later used that data in its 2002 estimate showing about 18,000 people a year died because they lacked coverage. Part of the increased risk now is due to the growing ranks of the uninsured, Himmelstein said. Roughly 46.3 million people in the United States lacked coverage in 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week, up from 45.7 million in 2007. Another factor is that there are fewer places for the uninsured to get good care. Public hospitals and clinics are shuttering or scaling back across the country in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and others, he said. Study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler said the findings show that without proper care, uninsured people are more likely to die from complications associated with preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. [...]"


"Chavez, Ahmadinejad Differ on Holocaust", 3 October 2009
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he does not agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertion that the Holocaust never occurred. In an interview Sept. 24 with CNN's Larry King, Chavez, who used his recent trip to the United Nations as a pulpit to criticize Israel, stopped short of condemning the Iranian president, whom Chavez has said is among Venezuela’s closest allies. 'I do not deny the Jewish Holocaust. And I condemn it,' Chavez said. 'But in South America, when the Europeans arrived, there were close to 90 million Indians; 200 years later, we only had 4 million remaining. That was a holocaust. And the Europeans denied this holocaust.' Chavez, who severed diplomatic relations with Israel last January following its military offensive in Gaza, accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza during his speech Sept. 24 to the U.N. General Assembly. Chavez said his criticisms were directed toward the government of Israel and not its citizens. On King's show, Chavez continued to criticize Israel, calling it a 'war-mongering' country."
[n.b. I wish the guy wouldn't pal around with that denialist doofus Ahmadinejad, but otherwise Chavez seems right on all counts.]


"China's 'Cancer Villages' Bear Witness to Economic Boom"
By Tan Ee Lyn
Reuters dispatch, 16 September 2009
"One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages. The river's flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance. 'All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you'll get rashes and a terrible itch,' said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life. 'Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s. Cancer casts a shadow over the villages in this region of China in southern Guangdong province, nestled among farmland contaminated by heavy metals used to make batteries, computer parts and other electronics devices. Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a 2007 World Bank study. Yun Yaoshun's two granddaughters died at the ages of 12 and 18, succumbing to kidney and stomach cancer even though these types of cancers rarely affect children. The World Health Organization has suggested that the high rate of such digestive cancers are due to the ingestion of polluted water. 'It's because of Daboshan and the dirty water,' said the 82-year-old grandmother. 'The girls were always playing in the river, even our well water is contaminated,' Yun told Reuters during a visit to the village. The river where the children played stretches from the bottom of the Daboshan mine, owned by state-owned Guangdong Dabaoshan Mining Co Ltd, past the ramshackle family home. Its waters are contaminated by cadmium, lead, indium and zinc and other metals. The villagers use well water in Shangba for drinking but tests published by BioMed Central in July show that it contains excessive amounts of cadmium, a heavy metal that is a known carcinogen, as well as zinc which in large quantities can damage the liver and lead to cancer. 'China has many "cancer villages" and it is very likely that these increased cases of cancer are due to water pollution,' said Edward Chan, an official with Greenpeace in southern China. But it's not just water, the carcinogenic heavy metals are also entering the food chain. Mounds of tailings from mineral mining are discarded alongside paddy fields throughout the region. [...]"
[n.b. Hmmm, half a million deaths a year, arguably intentional, regular as clockwork, widely acknowledged, but unexamined in a genocide-studies context.]


"Where Have All the Women Gone?"
By Johann Hari
The Independent, 14 September 2009
"As soon as I started reading this cry against the global wasting of women's lives [Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, 'Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide'], I could smell Shahnaz's face -- what was left of it -- again. By the time I met her in a hospital in Bangladesh, Shahnaz's face flesh was a mess of charred meat: Her skin, the soft tissue of her cheeks, and the bones beneath had been burned away. Her nose was gone, replaced by two flared holes. Her lips hung down over her chin like melted wax. Her left eyelid couldn't close, so a trail of tears was forever slowly tracking down over the wounds. Shahnaz was 21 years old, and her husband had just thrown acid in her face. Her 'crime'? To insist on continuing her studies -- she loved science and poetry -- when her husband wanted her to have babies. She smelled of a day-old barbecue left out in the rain. In much of the world today, it is Shahnaz, not her husband, who would be judged to be in the wrong. For them, a woman is there to be a servile baby machine, and if she refuses, she can be beaten, raped, or burned with impunity. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his Chinese-American wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have written an impassioned exposé of this subjugation—and a roadmap to equality. They start with an extraordinary fact that shows how deep this abuse runs. Today, now, more than 100 million women are missing. They have vanished. In normal circumstances, women live longer than men -- but China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population, India has 108, and Pakistan has 111. Where have these women gone? They have been killed or allowed to die. Medical treatment is often reserved for boys, while violence against women is routine. More girls are killed in this "gendercide" each decade than in all the genocides of the 20th century. This year, another 2 million girls will 'disappear.' But this isn't considered a story. While we rightly roared at racial apartheid, we act as though gender apartheid is a natural, immutable fact. With absolutely the right Molotov cocktail of on-the-ground reporting and hard social science, Kristof and WuDunn blow up this taboo. They ask: What would we do if we believed women were equal human beings, with as much right to determine their life story as men? How would we view the world differently? We would start by supporting the millions of women who are fighting back. This isn't merely a story of victims; it is predominantly a story of heroines. [..]"

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