Tear gas fired by Ferguson police comes from company supplies Israel, Bahrain and Egypt

“When tear-gas was first fired into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri at people angry at the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Palestinian activists sent out messages on Twitter giving people tips for how to deal with tear gas’ effects. And there was another direct connection between events in Missouri and the West Bank, as Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti noted: the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson. [...]”

(Read full article at Mondoweiss.net)

tear gas canisters from egypt, palestine, ferguson - and the headquarters of cts

“Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) calls Jamestown, Pennsylvania home. Often marketed and produced under the brand name Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) – they provide tear gas to the governments of Israel and Egypt as well as many others. In fact, until recently, Combined Systems used to fly the Israeli flag at its headquarters. According to its own advertising, its ‘OC Vapor System is ideal for forcing subjects from small rooms, attics, crawl spaces, prison cells,’ and is used against prisoners in the US. CSI is owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlye Group. Point lookout Capitol, which holds a controlling number of shares, says glowingly of CSI: ‘The company’s CTS branded product line is the premiere less-lethal line in the industry today.’ Point Lookout Capital is headquartered in New York City. Nearly every week Combined Systems Inc. holds trainings across the US for law enforcement and security personnel, in using their ‘chemical munitions’ and other weaponry. Combined Systems tear gas was exported into Egypt via Israel during the January 2011 Egyptian uprising and is one of the largest suppliers of tear gas used to repress uprisings globally.

Combined Systems has aggressively propagandized its products. On May 18, 2011, the Chilean government announced— in the wake of a study by the University of Chile which demonstrated that CS exposure may lead to miscarriages— that they would temporarily suspend the use of tear gas throughout the country. Latin America News Dispatch quotes then-Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter as saying: ‘[I]t seems reasonable to suspend the use of tear gas until new medical reports dispel any doubts about the appropriateness of employing these gases to confront situations of public disorder and vandalism.’ Fortunately for the Chilean government— and unfortunately for Chilean protesters, such as the 30,000 protesters who, a week earlier, had gathered to demonstrate against the HidroAysén hydroelectric project and been faced with tear gas— the Chilean government was able to put together a report, three days later, citing Combined Systems, arguing that tear gas was safe. The report, and the lifting of the ban on tear gas, came just in time for the state to use tear gas against the next round of HidroAysén protests.

In the West Bank, many protesters have died or been seriously injured as a result of being shot at close range by Combined Systems tear gas canisters, including 28 year old Mustafa Tamimi of Nabi Saleh who died in 2011 after half of his face was shot off by a Combined Systems tear gas canister. In 2009 Bassem Abu Rahmah, from Bil’in, was killed by a Combined Systems canister, and in 2010, his sister Jawaher was as well. The number of deaths as well as serious injuries as a result of teargas cannisters has drastically increased since 2008, when Israel began using Combined Systems’ ‘extended range’ 40mm cartridges, sold under the brand name ‘Indoor Barricade Penetrator,’ and which travel at a velocity of 122 meters per second and are designed to penetrate buildings. Although the manufacturers’ labels clearly indicate that the teargas grenades are not to be used at short range and are not to be fired people, this has not stopped the Israeli military from doing so— effectively turning these canisters into large bullets. (For more info, check out the B’Tselem report, page 8. To see the manufacturer’s website for the Indoor Barricade Penetrator, click here.) Combined Systems canisters have also been used to kill protesters in Guatemala.”

(Source: Facing Tear Gas)

“Land of the free”: Ferguson, Missouri

line of riot cops and armored vehicles ferguson night

The people of Ferguson, Missouri are sick of watching racist cops gun down innocent kids in their community. During protests over the recent murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old, the police decided to fire tear gas into the crowd to force them to disperse. But the people of Ferguson decided not to disperse — they decided to fight back.

Unarmed man holding up his hands while a large group of militarized police point weapons at him

Police force protesters from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri

The killers at the Ferguson and St. Louis Police Departments are the ones who are carrying rifles and shooting into unarmed crowds, attacking people with police dogs and gas grenades and clubs. The corporate media, as usual, is mostly focusing on petty vandalism and looting by the crowds, to distract from the much more serious problems of police violence, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and racism.

Let’s be clear — the reason that there is a violent conflict right now in Ferguson is because these pigs shot an unarmed kid, and are now attacking the people of Ferguson with military crowd control hardware. Fuck these racist killer cops, and love to all the people who are standing up to them.

line of riot pigs and armored vehicles mrap

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UK activists shut down Israeli arms factory

Via Mondoweiss.net:

“A group of activists from the London Palestine Action network have today [August 5, 2014] chained the doors shut of an Israeli weapons factory based near Birmingham in the UK and are now occupying the roof. As part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) and in response to calls for action from Palestinian movements, we are demanding the permanent closure of the factory and an end to all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel.[...]

Elbit Systems markets its drones as ‘field tested’ – by which it means that their drones have been proven to be effective at killing Palestinians. The UK government is importing technology that has been developed during the course of Israeli massacres.
Activists occupying rooftop of weapons factory, pink smoke and banners that say "UK Stop Arming Israel"

UK prime minister David Cameron and the UK government have Palestinian blood on their hands. In order to end their deep complicity with Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians, they must take steps to impose a full military embargo on Israel and close the Elbit Systems factory immediately.

It is more important than ever that the solidarity we build with the Palestinian struggle is effective and impactful. Israel does not act alone but is supported by governments and corporations across the world that have names and addresses. It is time for the international solidarity movement to escalate its direct actions against those that support and profit from Israeli apartheid to take action that can lead to a genuine isolation of Israel.”

Read full article and see more photos here.

 

Newly declassified State Department documents outline torture methods employed by US-backed military dictatorship in Brazil

“Allegations of Torture in Brazil.” department of state memo

Released State Department document showing that US officials were clearly aware that their buddies in Brazil were torturing dissidents (click to enlarge)

excerpt from “Remembering Brazil’s Military Coup 50 Years Later” (NACLA, April 2014):

In 1964, the Brazilian military dictatorship rolled in like a bad dream. President João Goulart fled to Uruguay, and with him went the hopes of progressive reforms. The first of seventeen military decrees, or Institutional Acts (AI), were issued. Institutional Act 5, decreed by military president Artur da Costa e Silva on December 13, 1968, suspended habeas corpus and disbanded congress. Inspired by the 1959 Cuban revolution, and insurgent guerrilla movements in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, Communist Party militants went underground and formed armed movements against the dictatorship, including the National Liberation Alliance and the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard, which would later become the Revolutionary Armed Vanguard Palmares (VAR-Palmares). [...]

Dissidents were tracked down, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, or worse. According to the 2007 report from the Brazilian government’s Special Commission on Murders and Political Disappeared entitled “The Right to Memory and the Truth,” 475 people were disappeared during the twenty-year-long military dictatorship. Thousands were imprisoned and roughly thirty thousand were tortured. More than 280 different types of torture were inflicted on “subversives” at 242 clandestine torture centers, by hundreds of individual torturers. Current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was at the time a student activist who became active in the VAR-Palmares (among other guerrilla groups). She was captured by the Brazilian military on January 16, 1970, tortured, and imprisoned for two and a half years, for participating with the guerrilla. Within a few years the armed resistance to the Brazilian dictatorship had been largely eliminated.

state dept memo describing forms of torture used by their brazilian dictator friends

Excerpt from the recently declassified State Department memo “Widespread arrests and psychophysical interrogation of suspect subversives” (click to enlarge)

Meanwhile U.S.-Brazilian relations became tighter than ever, as the United States worked to turn Brazil into a “success story” in the fight against communism. According to a five-and-a-half-year 5,000-page investigation into the human rights violations of the dictatorship, entitled Brasil Nunca Mais (Brazil Never Again), CIA agents, such as U.S. officer Dan Mitrione, actively trained hundreds of Brazilian military and police officers in torture techniques, or what they called the “Scientific Methods to Extract Confessions and Obtain the Truth.” Several documented accounts reveal that Mitrione tested his techniques on street kids and homeless beggars from the streets of Belo Horizonte. Many of these techniques would be replicated across the region through the U.S.-sponsored Plan Condor, as Brazil’s neighbors also fell to military dictatorships.

… and this via the National Security Archive article “Declassified Documents Given By Biden to Rousseff Detail Secret Dictatorship-Era Executions, ‘Psychophysical’ Torture in Brazil“:

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public yesterday. Among the torture techniques used during the military era, the report detailed “special effects” rooms at Brazilian military detention centers in which suspects would be “placed nude” on a metal floor “through which electric current is pulsated.” Some suspects were “eliminated” but the press was told they died in “shoot outs” while trying to escape police custody. “The shoot-out technique is being used increasingly,” the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro noted, “in order to deal with the public relations aspect of eliminating subversives,” and to “obviate ‘death-by-torture’ charges in the international press.” [...]

Brazil’s Comissão Nacional da Verdade (“National Truth Commission”), which is investigating torture and other human rights abuses committed by the Brazilian dictatorship, has released all 43 of the recently declassified US documents on their website. To view the memos in their entirety, see: “CNV torna públicos documentos entregues pelo governo norte-americano

World watches idly as Israel bombs Gaza school and market

Via Electronic Intifada:

“As each day brings new horror in Gaza, Palestinians in the besieged Strip have become largely cut off from the outside world as Israeli bombing has badly damaged the electricity infrastructure and telecommunications network.

The bodies of at least sixteen Palestinians were pulled from the rubble after an Israeli strike hit a United Nations school in Jabaliya refugee camp on Wednesday. Approximately 3,300 displaced people were taking refuge in the school.

flames and black smoke, people watching the power plant burn ... gaza

Flames engulf the fuel tanks of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant on 29 July after it was hit by Israeli shelling overnight. (Photo credit: Ashraf Amra, APA Images)

Later that same day, Israeli forces shelled an open market in the Shujaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, the site of a terrible massacre last week, killing at least seventeen. Residents had ventured out to the market during a four-hour humanitarian truce unilaterally declared by Israel. The victims included a journalist — the seventh media worker killed in Gaza since the onslaught began on 7 July — and emergency health care workers.

Monday night was one of the heaviest nights of shelling during the last three weeks of Israel’s all-out military offensive on Gaza. On that night alone, dozens of Palestinians were killed.

Many areas across the Gaza Strip came under random tank shelling, and Israel bombed the only power plant, leaving much of Gaza without electricity. Most households in Gaza City currently receive only up to two hours of electricity per day, according to the United Nations, and other areas in central Gaza are receiving no electricity at all.

Officials say the damage done to the power plant could take up to one year to repair — that is if Israel allows Gaza to import the necessary spare parts and allows engineering experts to enter.

These power outages mean that water pumps and sewage stations have stopped functioning, leading to a serious humanitarian and environmental crisis in terms of lack of clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

The only mobile network in some areas failed as well, not only due to power cuts but because many transmission towers have been damaged since the start of Israel’s military aggression against Gaza on 7 July.

Meanwhile, hospitals and other vital facilities remain at serious risk as their generators cannot provide safe, sustainable electricity and power. Twenty-three health care facilities have been damaged by the Israeli military, according to the UN.

“We have been suffering from frequent power cuts since 2006, and now the bombing of the power station will worsen our miserable life given that we cannot find fuel to power small electrical generators,” said Nader Daher, a 35-year-old who was displaced from his home in Gaza City.

“Everyone tries to conserve his mobile battery; we also can’t keep food in the freezer and [we’re] running out of canned food,” he added.

More than 240,000 residents from different cities and towns across Gaza have become internally displaced, many of them seeking shelter at United Nations-run schools, according to the UN. Some are staying at relatives’ homes, dozens packed into one house.

“We do not have electricity nor water,” Khamis Jabali, 27, a displaced resident of Gaza City, said. “We wait for the water tanker to come to this school to fill our bottles. It’s hot, and we have not had showers for weeks now. Hundreds of us here we share water and toilets. [...]”

Read the rest of the article here.

“Prison is a totality–something that one cannot escape from, but only shift positions within.”

“Prison is not a discrete place; its force and logic are distributed across the metropolis. Put another way, there is a place that is prison, and then there is a tendency, a way of managing life, that is prison. The place and the tendency are not two, but one. Macrocosm, microcosm. To speak of prisons as if they were separate from the rest of society is to equivocate. What we call prisons are a node in the prison-metropolis that are indicative of how the metropolis functions as a whole, and without which the rest could not function. Prison is a totality–something that one cannot escape from, but only shift positions within.”

– from “3 Positions Against Prisons” (August O’Clairre)

Razor wire fences and concrete walls in a prison

“Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” — Michel Foucault

“Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media”

Israeli soldiers of the 155mm artillery cannons unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the coastal Palestinian enclave

Israeli soldiers of the 155mm artillery cannons unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the coastal Palestinian enclave

Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house

A Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house

relative of Shahed Qishtah, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in an Israeli strike while playing, left the Kamal Adwan hospital where he brought her in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

A relative of Shahed Qishtah, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in an Israeli strike while playing, left the Kamal Adwan hospital where he brought her in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Source: Hillel, M. “Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media“. The Independent. 22 July 2014.

Massive mayfly emergence in Wisconsin is visible on weather radar

Animation of radar readings showing the huge cloud of mayflies emerging“The Mississippi River produced a massive radar echo as mayflies emerged from the water and became airborne. The mayflies were detectable on radar around 8:45 pm […] The radar loop below shows the reflected radar energy (reflectivity) from 8:35 pm to just after midnight. The higher the values (greens to yellows) indicate greater concentrations of flies.” (Source: NOAA)

Mayflies spend the majority of their life underwater, quietly eating algae and plant material. The full growth cycle of a mayfly can take up to 4 years; we just notice them when they pile up in post-coital exhaustion.

Mayflies emerge synchronously around dusk to avoid their main above-water predators: birds and bats. Predators trying to capitalize on a sudden mayfly all-you-can-eat buffet are overwhelmed by the emergence of millions of insects. Some individuals make it through, and the species continues.

Mayfly larvae are delightfully called “naiads,” and provide critical food for fish. The bodies of immature mayflies have beautiful external gills; this is also why they are important in assessing water quality. Mucky, polluted water is not a place a mayfly larva can breathe. Detroit has had mass mayfly emergences in the past, but a toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie this year is damaging populations of all the animals in the watershed. [...]

“Mayflies are some of the most ancient insects around; they are well represented in Carboniferous fossils dating [more than] 300 million years ago. Fossil mayflies look remarkably like our modern mayflies; some consider them “living fossils.” The oldest fossil of a winged insect is a mayfly. (Source: Wired)

Gas pump covered in mayflies in the the Minnesota City and Trempealeau Area (Wisconsin, 2014)

(click thumbnails below to enlarge)

Bloody Friday: 12 children among dozens killed in Israel’s merciless slaughter

People weeping and solemnly kneeling near the pale, lifeless body of a 5-month old baby killed by the Israeli military

Palestinian mourners gather around the body of five-month-old baby Faris al-Mahmoum during his funeral on 18 July in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

via Electronic Intifada:

At least 61 people, at least 12 of them children, were killed on Friday alone, the second day of Israel’s ground invasion of parts of the Gaza Strip, and the twelfth and bloodiest day since Israel began bombarding the territory with airstrikes and land-based and naval artillery. Eight members of a single family, the youngest six months old, were killed when a missile struck their home. By Friday evening Gaza time, 296 people had been killed and more than 2,200 injured since the Israeli bombardment began [...]

“We can legitimately say that in the process of oppression someone oppresses someone else; we cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates himself, but rather that human beings in communion liberate each other.”

-Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed