Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Bamiyan Diaries – Day Five
By David Smith-Ferri
“Is This Normal?”
In a small storage shed at the edge of town, we watched as fourteen-year-old Sayed Qarim signed a simple contract agreeing to borrow and repay a no-interest, 25,000 afghani loan (roughly $555). Daniel from the Zenda Company, the loan originator, counted out the crisp bills and handed them to Qarim, who smiled broadly and shook hands. Qarim, whose family farms potatoes and wheat, plans to use the funds to purchase a cow and her calf. “There are great benefits of owning a cow,” Qarim explains. “Our family gets to use the milk, and we can sell the calf for a good profit.”
No one walking by outside on the narrow dirt road would have known an important business transaction had just occurred, one that could in fact help a young man and his family gain economic traction and greater security. The transaction didn’t take place in a bank. No village leaders were present. Only a fourteen-year-old boy, the representative of a private business company, and a witness. And while the signed agreement constitutes a business relationship, the Zenda Company sees it as primarily personal.
Qarim was recommended for a loan by Faiz and Mohammad Jan, two other young men who live in his village and who have themselves recently received and repaid loans. Following this recommendation, Zenda spent much time getting to know Qarim, meeting with him, assessing his knowledge, his resources (such as access to grazing land), and his character, answering his questions, and describing to him his responsibilities as a borrower.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
During the foreboding months of 2005, one police unit struck more fear into Iraqis than the entire occupying US army. They were known as the Wolf Brigade.
Brutal even by Iraqi standards, their soldiers and officers seemingly answered to no one. They were seen as indiscriminate and predatory. The unit's reputation had been known Iraq-wide and results of their numerous raids are still bogged down in Iraq's legal system.
But the full range of their abuses and close co-operation with the US army remained in the shadows until the WikiLeaks disclosures showcased them in stark detail.
A visit from the unit to any neighbourhood was sure to bring trouble – as it it did for Omar Salem Shehab on 25 June that year.
"We were at home that night," Shehab recalled this week. "We were three brothers sleeping above my ice-cream shop. We were woken by soldiers entering our house by force. They came with Americans. They said we were wanted and produced a document.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
[globalresearch.ca] On October 22nd, the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, the largest leak of secret information in U.S. history.
Explosive revelations contained in the Iraq War Logs provided further evidence of the Pentagon's role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.
Indeed, multiple files document how U.S. officials failed to investigate thousands of cases of abuse, torture, rape and murder. Even innocent victims who were targets of kidnapping gangs, tortured for ransom by Iraqi police and soldiers operating out of the Interior Ministry, were "investigated" in a perfunctory manner that was little more than a cover-up.
Never mind that the Pentagon was fully cognizant of the nightmare playing out in Iraqi jails and prisons. Never mind the beatings with rifle butts and steel cables, the electrocutions, the flesh sliced with razors, the limbs hacked-off with chainsaws, the acid and chemical burns on battered corpses found along the roads, the eyes gouged out or the bones lacerated by the killers' tool of choice: the power drill.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MECAWI HOSTS SCREENING OF NEW DOCUMENTARY, JUSTICE ON TRIAL: THE CASE OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
What: First Detroit Screening on Mon. Nov. 1, 7:00 p.m.
Where: 5920 Second Ave. at Antoinette, North of WSU Campus
Cost: Free Admission
Important Meeting As the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal Takes on Renewed Urgency With Upcoming Court Hearing
As one of the nation’s most closely-watched death row cases heads to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on November 9, Baruch College Professor of American History Johanna Fernandez teams up with director Kouross Esmaeli of Big Noise Films to investigate the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal in their new film, Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Fernandez wrote and produced the film, which Esmaeli directed. Justice on Trial will receive its first Detroit screening at the weekly meeting of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice on Mon., November 1 at 7:00pm.
A trial court convicted Abu-Jamal of first-degree murder in the 1981
killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal was
sentenced to death and has been on death row since 1982. During the intervening years, debate has raged between Abu-Jamal’s supporters and detractors, with his supporters maintaining his innocence and claiming that exculpatory evidence was suppressed during the trial.
In Justice on Trial, Fernandez asks what she describes as fundamental questions about the workings of the criminal justice system and the Abu-Jamal case—from his sentencing in 1982 to subsequent appeals. According to Fernandez, Justice on Trial presents the legal and factual arguments for reasonable doubt about the fairness of the guilty verdict.
Abu-Jamal is an award-winning radio journalist who sits on death row in a Western Pennsylvania prison where he has authored six books, including the bestselling Live From Death Row. On orders from the Supreme Court, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider reinstating the death penalty on Nov. 9. With the federal appeal on the horizon, Fernandez and Esmaeli expedited completion of their four-year project in order to participate in revived conversations inspired by the case.
Democracy Now news clip on the film here:
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
But in some cities the disparity is especially bad, according to Census data. We picked out the 25 metro areas where the top quintile has the greatest share of the income."