Friday, November 17, 2006

UCLA student receives police brutality

From another source (believe it or not - facebook):

UCPD officers shot a student several times with a Taser inside the Powell Library CLICC computer lab late Tuesday night before taking him into custody.

No university police officers were available to comment further about the incident as of 3 a.m. Wednesday, and no Community Service Officers who were on duty at the time could be reached.

At around 11:30 p.m., CSOs asked a male student using a computer in the back of the room to leave when he was unable to produce a BruinCard during a random check. The student did not exit the building immediately.

The CSOs left, returning minutes later, and police officers arrived to escort the student out. By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.

The student began to yell "get off me," repeating himself several times.

It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition.

UCPD officers confirmed that the man involved in the incident was a student, but did not give a name or any additional information about his identity.

Video shot from a student's camera phone captured the student yelling, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your ****ing abuse of power," while he struggled with the officers.

As the student was screaming, UCPD officers repeatedly told him to stand up and said "stop fighting us." The student did not stand up as the officers requested and they shot him with the Taser at least once more.

"It was the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life," said David Remesnitsky, a 2006 UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident.

As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.

Laila Gordy, a fourth-year economics student who was present in the library during the incident, said police officers threatened to shoot her with a Taser when she asked an officer for his name and his badge number.

Gordy was visibly upset by the incident and said other students were also disturbed.

"It's a shock that something like this can happen at UCLA," she said. "It was unnecessary what they did."

Immediately after the incident, several students began to contact local news outlets, informing them of the incident, and Remesnitsky wrote an e-mail to Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams.

Yes it was unecessary what they did. There is no possible justification for the inhumane and sadistic treatment of Mostafa Tabatabainejad. Right now an investigation is pending and masses of students are rallying around the incident, understandably so.
What I cannot get over is the fact that he was tased multiple times, and told to "STAND UP!" repeatedly after being tased - when it has now become well-known that a person cannot be mobile for 5-15 minutes after getting tased. Mostafa couldn't stand up, while being told "Stand up and you'll get tased again!". This was done approximately four more times. Finally the officers dragged out his limp body.

Here is the youtube video, see it for yourself:

A look at protesting - what does it achieve?

I'm sick of protesting. Isn't there something more we can do?
What does protesting achieve? If you really think about it, it honestly doesn't achieve much.

Not even when 2 million people march through London on 15th February, 2003, protesting the Iraq War. 2 million people is quite a lot in a city of 7 million and a state population of about 60 million. But what happened? Britain went to war anyway.

What does protesting at demonstrations achieve? I've been to quite a few over this past year. I went to many in NYC over the summer when Lebanon was being bombed. What did that achieve? Well at least we got our voices out. But we only managed to get 2,000 at most. In New York City. While cities (like London) got 100,000 to protest. But what was achieved? Not even an immediate ceasefire. Not even in Israel being condemned by cutting off trade, sanctions, anything - nothing. And no one even talks about it anymore, just 3 months after it ended. That's what protesting achieved.

I went to a protest with 60,000 other people in Manchester in September. It was put on by the Stop the War coalition. What did it achieve? We shouted for Blair to get out, for the troops to get out. What did it achieve? Did we come together and come up with real solutions, real ways to implement peace? 60,000 people? No, we just shouted our voices out and went home.

I went to protest for Gaza outside 10 Downing Street. This was the tipping point for me with my unsatisfaction with protesting at demonstrations. There were probably about 100-200 of us. We couldn't even chant because if we did we would be given noise violations. So what did we do? We stood in a part of London, that isn't even busy, not even chanting, for a couple of hours, holding signs, and talking to each other. What did we achieve? I think its pretty obvious we didn't achieve much. It's not as if Blair was watching us. Even if he did see us - so? Is the sight of a few dozen protestors going to break his nerve? Or anyone else's?

My point is that we MUST move beyond merely demonstrating. We can demonstrate all we want. Yes, demonstrating is good for visibility, for bringing people out. But that's all it achieves. It doesn't create real change. It doesn't help to solve the problems we're protesting about. We MUST come up with real solutions, and ways to implement those solutions. I'm talking in regards to countless issues here. Is standing on the street with other people, holding signs and chanting, really going to achieve anything?

Protestors don't even get a lot of press. Why is that? Because the press is bored by it. I'm bored by it.

I want some real action that will strive for real change. We're stuck in a rut. We're in a protesting bubble. A protesting - leafletting - marching bubble. Its exactly what they want - to keep us in a bubble. And what's scary is that many in that bubble don't even realize it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Future Sound of London classic

Ignore the video, just listen to the song.

Massacre in Beit Hanoun - which the U.S. ignores as usual

November 9, 2006

Nightmare in Beit Hanoun
How Gaza Offends Us All

An opened jaw with yellowed teeth gaped out of its bloodied shroud. The rest of the head parts were wrapped in a plastic bag placed atop the jaw and nostrils, as if to be close to the place to which it once belonged. The bag was red from the pieces that were stuffed inside it. Below the jaw was a human neck slit open midway down: a fleshy, wet wound smiling pink and oozing out from the browned skin around it, the neck that was still linked to the body below it. Above him, in the upper freezer of the morgue lay a dead woman, her red hennaed hair visible for the first time to strange men around her. More red plastic wrapped around an otherwise absent chin. She was dead for demonstrating outside a mosque in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza where more than 60 men sheltered during the artillery onslaught by Israeli tanks and cannons.

Most of the others still had their faces intact. They lay on their silver morgue trays stiffly as unthawed frozen food. One man had a green Hamas band tied around his head; he looked like a gentle shepherd from some forgotten, pastoral age. Another's white eyes were partially opened, his face looking out in horror as if he'd died seeing it coming. Then a muddy, grizzled blob on the bottom left tray, black curls tangled and damped into its rounded head and blessedly shut eyes. A closer look revealed a child, a boy of 4: Majed, out playing his important childhood games when death came in like thunder and rolled him up in a million speckles of black mud. The other dead had already been taken away.

Muslim burials take place quickly, a god-send to the doctors, nurses and undertakers who, at the hospitals and morgues, desperately need the space for next batch of casualties who would sleep on the same sheets, same steel-framed beds, in the same humid heat, in the same close, crowded, grief-stricken rooms, often on the floors, with the same tired, unpaid attendants doing their rounds without the proper supplies to help them if they were still alive. And some would die on the operating table like the young man gone now to the Kamal Adwan hospital morgue when his wounds became too much for his body to bear. Two young girls preceded him earlier the same day. Blessed are they who leave this human wasteland washed and shrouded for a quiet, earthy grave.

Today the hospitals will be filled beyond capacity again when the 18 civilian dead from a pre-dawn attack on Beit Hanoun -- women, men and children blasted out of their sleep into human chunks -- roll out of the ambulances and into the freezers of Shifa or Kamal Adwan hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip. How dare they sleep in their houses at night when the tanks are barking out commands.

Do you believe this was an accident? that an international investigation will ever take place? Like after Jenin? Like after Dan Halutz and his 2000 pound bomb which was dropped on an apartment building in Gaza City killing 15 people, 9 of them women and children? Like after the siege of Jabalya in the fall of 2004? Like after Operation Rainbow in Rafah? Like after Huda Ghalia's family was blasted into nothingness during an outing on a Gaza beach? Will US eyes, glued to their glaucousy TV screens to find out which marketed candidate won the corporate-managed midterm elections, ever know that that another massacre of Palestinians took place?

At Shifa hospital, Gaza's central hospital, where Dr. Juma' Saqa and his staff cope with the daily shortages of supplies from kidney dialysis machines to fans and clean linens; where cancer medications are unavailable to the increasing rate of cancer patients and elective surgeries, such as for hernias or tonsils, are a thing of the past. This is where doctors and nurses witness how the water that Gazans drink causes innumerable ailments, rotting teeth, anemia in children and kidney dysfunction because of its brackish, poisonous quality. This is where children lie half naked in their beds, white tape across their noses holding tubes to their faces so that they may eat or breathe-- like Ahmad aged 3, also from Beit Hanoun, who took a bullet in the right side of his belly that exited on the left. His mother stands over him passively, grateful. Ahmad, at least, is going to live. But for what?

Each night in Gaza City that first week in November, explosions sounded in the northeastern corner of Gaza: a succession of bullets, booms, bombs, canon fire. On the first night of the onslaught we could still see lights from Beit Hanoun 10 miles from us blinking and twinkling as if nothing were really happening; it was all a dream├│fireworks, a distant celebration perhaps. But then, by the second night only a swath of blacked out space lay in the place of Beit Hanoun, electricity-less and water-less as the booms continued unabated for an hour or more and the hum of the pilot-less drones circled round again and again above us, above Beit Hanoun, above Gaza, automated people-monitors taking stock of the activity below. Nobody from Beit Hanoun could leave by day to get to work without announcing to the tanks and the drones that he was prepared to sacrifice his life for a semblance of normalcy. All men between the ages of 16-35 were rounded up onto trucks and hauled away for "questioning". What will happen to them and their families? Will anyone follow up? Will they add to the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, left to rot while their wives and children, sisters, brothers, parents go on struggling to survive?

There lies Gaza stretched 28 miles long in a tumbledown graying, decaying heap, yawning, tired, wretched, full of garbage. Tape gauze over your nose to avoid the smell of sewage and burning trash. Try not to notice the metal-shuttered shop fronts, the empty stores, the proliferation of horse- and donkey-carts clopping along the streets for lack of fuel, the ribs of the tired beasts jutting out from their bellies as boys whip them along to keep going. The joke is the cerulean blue sky illuminating the rubbish tip, the palm trees and purple flowers beaming in the November sun ├▒ natural non-sequiturs, like the box of fresh chocolates offered to the journalists filming the woman's wounded son as she yells out her frustrations and horror at the Americans and the Israelis who are killing her family. Why? She asks. Why, why, why?

Ask Mark Regev, Israel's eager, hideously sincere government spokesperson. On CNN's international news he tells us in earnest that this is Israeli self-defense. The Qassam fire into Sderot and Ashkelon must stop. Israelis have the right to defend themselves. The "operation" in Beit Hanoun will not stop until the Qassams stop. Each word drivels out of his mouth into a bubble of obscenity for everyone watching from the vantage point of Gaza. Verbal pornography, sado-masochistic jargon from the prince of Hasbara leaks onto the dust like poisonous bile bought, paid for and sought after by the lords of power and their occupying machinery.

The shoddy, home-made Qassams hiss like cornered alley cats when they are fired into the skies. Stupid and bestial, they zing across the border like crazed beasts not knowing where they are going. They'll dash forever like this until the occupation of Palestine ends. The Gazans know this, Hamas knows it, Fatah knows it, the PFLP knows it; In Israel, Labor and Likkud know it, Meretz knows it, Yisrael Beiteinu knows it, Shas knows it; Peretz, Olmert and Lieberman know it, Sharon knew it, the Israeli people know it, official America know this, so 40 years after 1967 and 58 years after 1948, why is the occupation not yet over?

Because Israel does not want it to end. Because Israel wants the land and the resources without the people. Because you have to eviscerate a culture in order to maintain total control over it. Because the United States says that's just fine with us, you serve our purpose well. You help make the war on terror convenient. You help fit Iraq into the scheme. You'll help us with Iran as well. Who the hell cares about a million and a half poverty-stricken Gazans and their dust, their sand, their stinking, crumbling heap of a disaster area homeland?

What a terrible shame it is that Gazans have not yet attained the status of Human in the eyes of the Western powers, for the resistance there will continue to be an enigma until this changes. For now, however, the slaughter will continue unabated.

Leaving Gaza 6:30am Saturday morning, November 4th 2006, I hear a loud explosion. My cab driver picks me up and we drive down the main street in Gaza City toward Erez. Suddenly, unexpectedly, there is a smoldering mass of wreckage in front of me, a car surrounded by boys picking at its still-hot exterior. Inside are four blackened, seared human shapes, crispy at the touch, faceless from the burns, charcoal, shreds of steaming cloth, a smell of barbecued human flesh, sirens in the distance. Burnt and vaporized metal looks like what you see in a science fiction movie. Burnt humans look like singed paper mache monsters whose pieces fall off at the hint of a breeze.

Gaza is sorry for these indiscretions, this poor taste, this unseemly topic of conversation. You are right to express your indignation. How Dare Gaza Speak of These Things!? But it can no longer contain its secrets even with the blockade of visitors to its vile shores; its voice is shrill even when sublimated through the layers of media deceit. The smoke rises higher in the skies each time. The prison is imploding and the resistance will never end.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dam from Palestine

This group is mad cool man. Check out the song "I Don't Have Freedom" - I've no clue what they're saying but the chorus has some AMAZING melody.

Here's some of the bio from their site

DAM is the first and leading Palestinian Rap Group. It is composed of Tamer Nafar, 27, his younger brother Suhell, 23, and Mahmoud Jreri, 24. The group has been performing together since the late 90s. Tamer, who had been performing Rap since 1998 with his brother, was first contacted by Mahmoud Jreri. Mahmoud was writing his own lyrics so they quickly decided to join forces and the group was born in 1999. All three members of the group were born and grew up in the slums of Lod, a mixed town of Arabs and Jews, 20 km from Jerusalem.

DAM's music is a unique fusion of East and West, combining Arabic percussion rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies and urban Hip Hop.

The lyrics of DAM are influenced by the continuing Israeli - Palestinian conflict as well as by the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. DAM also draw their influence from such controversial issues as terrorism, drugs and women’s rights.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Daily Shrapnel: Dispatches from Post-War Lebanon

The Daily Shrapnel: Dispatches from Post-War Lebanon
by Zein El-Amine

"Gentlemen, you have transformed
our country into a graveyard
You have planted bullets in our heads,
and organized massacres
Gentlemen, nothing passes like that
without account
All that you have done
to our people is
registered in notebooks"

-Mahmud Darwish

The Daily Shrapnel #1: Death in Deir Keifa

Monday, October 16th

My grandmother's house in the southern village of Deir Keifa sits, as all the villages around there, on a hill facing many hills and valleys extending to the horizon. Decades ago a second part of the village was built on an adjacent hill which was called Shmaise'. The courtyard in the house faces away from the village and opens to shamaise, the winding road that lines the valley and a crusader fort with a scattering of houses .

During the recent Israeli aggression (how mild this term seems now) a pilot less plane roamed that valley and the surrounding areas. This nasty piece of machinery takes pictures of the landscape below or sends photos to Apache helicopters or other airplanes so they can hone in their targets. This is the MK or what the southern Lebanese refer to as Im Kamil (kamil's mother). Previousl the MK was unarmed but after the first week of this war the MKs were buzzing around armed with rockets.

This one afternoon IM Kamil came armed with three rockets. Which meant that it did not need any outside help - an israeli soldier is sitting back in some room in israel seeing what she sees and firing at targets at will. As my two aunts watched from my grandmother's courtyard an MK hovered above the valley making a frightful hum that usually preceded devastation. No one moved outside their houses, not even to go out in their yards. The courtyard was covered so my aunts watched from safety. Then a civilian car came down the winding road and everyone watching from the three hills held their breath hoping that the car will make it through the valley and into the safety of the village. They recognized the car as one of the villagers living at the end of the winding road. The villager was spotted in the passenger seat and his son was driving. They were driving at a great speed in an attempt to come rescue the villager's wife and take her up north. Then the MK fired the first rocket and it smashed through the roof of the car and continued through the driver. Minutes went by and then the father emerged from the passenger side miraculously unscathed. He ran up the road and started to shout for help toward the Shmaise neighborhood. The residents yelled at him to get under a tree and he kept yelling " My son is dead . My son is dead!" They yelled at him again telling him that if he gets under a tree them Im Kamil will not see him. They yelled that if any of them move then Im Kamil will get them. They told him to stay put and they will get him and his son after the skies are clear. But he was too traumatized and panicked and he kept running up and down the winding road until im kamil spotted him and hit him with a rocket. For the next half hour, my aunts and villagers watched this man die a slow death - one moment he would raise a leg , the next an arm , and so on until he was still. It took another 5 hours before the villagers where able to come down and get the bodies.

My aunt walade has been too many wars but this incident drove her away from my grandmother's house where she has been living. She now lives with my uncle in the same village and is planning to move to another village before winter.

Its time to say it: these methods that Israel used are Gestapo methods. They remind me of the curfews that the Nazis enforced on the jews whereby you were shot if you defied them. The whole south was under that curfew for a whole month.

This is the horror, the hope comes later.



The Daily Shrapnel # 2: A River of Hope

October 17, 2006
4:30 pm

Ziad Boutrous is the Simon of the Middle East. His show "Superstar" is the Arab world's "American Idol". So we can safely say that his is a bit in the mainstream. A couple of nights ago Ziad made a statement on TV that pricked up my ears: " I thank god that i was born in the age of resistance." The resistance he was referring to was the Lebanese resistance, specifically Hezbollah. It would be important to point out that Ziad is a Christian Lebanese.

It would be more important to point out Ziad's sister's reaction to the recent war on Lebanon and the artistic response that she developed with her brother. Julia is a known Lebanese singer with looks and style that could easily go on the cover of Elle or Vogue. So she does not exactly fit the stereotyped picture of the Hezbollah supporter that the US media paints for us.

In the midst of the recent Israeli aggression, as the UN and the world stood by as the Lebanese were massacred and as it became apparent that the Lebanese resistance is the only hope to stop this barbarity, the Lebanese citzenry took to the streets in a spontaneous outburst . They surrounded the UN building downtown Beirut and began to break its windows. As the crowd gathered to vent, Julia popped up in their midst , surprising the demonstrators and electrifying them with a fiery speech that condemned the Israeli brutality, praised the resistance and singled out Nasrallah (head of Hezbollah) for special praise. This was a speech that came from the heart and was charged with great anger and genuine indignation, not the stilted garbage that we get from our local politicians here. The crowd carried her on their shoulders and the Lebanese media picked this moving scene.

But Julia did not stop there - she and her brother Ziad (the Simon of the Middle east) decided, after the seize fire, to compose a song to immortalize the victory of the resistance and to encourage a new generation pick up the batton of liberation and defense of the south and the nation. This song was based on a poetic response that Nasrallah had written in answer to a letter of praise sent to him by a group of Lebanese citizens.

The music video accompanying this song which was titled "Ahibai" (my loved ones), was completed this week and we had the pleasure of watching it with the rest of the nation last night on Al Jazeera TV. It was filmed in the recently devastated village of bint Jubail and featured real children and the real fighters from the village. The children, with Julia in their midst spill out of the ruins in a river of hope the fills the recently created spaces of the market area. But it goes from those scenes of destruction (which i recently filmed extensively). to the beautiful plains of Khardali near the Litani River to highlight the relience and the beauty of Lebanon.

When Julia was asked, on air, about her experience with the people of the village, she answered, without a second of hesitation, that she felt she was walking among people of with great integrity and faith, that when she walked with them she felt she was "walking among angels." In my travels here and especially in my converstaions with the children of the villages i have had that feeling too.

with love and resilience,