Category Archives: News

Berkeley Post Office rally on Saturday, November 1

via OccupySF By MikeZonta 

Berkeley PO 2

The Berkeley post office is under contract to be sold. There will be a rally at the post office on Allston Way on Nov 1 at 11am. Please bring tents and occupiers. More to come as this situation develops. And please spread the word.

–Mike Zint of “First they came for the homeless”

Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli army

via Al Jazeera


A Palestinian boy has been shot dead during clashes between Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing protesters in the occupied West Bank, medics and residents said.

Orwah Hammad, 14, was shot in the head on Friday in the village of Silwad, north of the Palestinian seat of government in Ramallah.

An Israeli army spokesman told the Reuters new agency that Israeli forces had prevented an attack: “They encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail… They opened fire and they confirmed a hit.”

The military said it would investigate the shooting.

Hammad was the second teen to be killed by army fire in eight days. A 13-year-old was killed last week in a West Bank village.

There were other clashes in Palestinian areas in and around Jerusalem on Friday in which several people were lightly injured.

Tensions have flared as the Jewish Sukkot holiday has brought increased visits by Jews accompanied by Israeli police to the Jerusalem holy site known to them as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, with its Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

Palestinians fear the visits, along with the moving-in of dozens of Israeli settlers to homes in a crowded Arab district in the shadow of the compound, aim to deepen Israel’s claim to the city as its eternal and indivisible capital.

East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and later illegally annexed. Palestinians want it for the capital of a future state.

Iran set to hang woman who killed a man who she says abused her

via Al Jazeera

Amnesty International is calling on Iran to suspend the imminent hanging of a 26-year-old woman convicted for the killing of a man whom she said tried to sexually abuse her.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was scheduled to be executed at dawn on Saturday, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.

She was sentenced to death by a criminal court in Tehran in 2009 in what Amnesty said was a “deeply flawed investigation and trial”.

Her execution was due to be carried out on 30 September but was postponed for 10 days.

“Time is running out for Reyhaneh Jabbari, the authorities must act now to stop her execution,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Applying such a punishment in any circumstances is an affront to justice, but doing so after a flawed trial that leaves huge questions hanging over the case only makes it more tragic,” Sahraoui added in a statement on Friday.

Jabbari apparently admitted to stabbing in the back Sarbandi, whom she said had tried to sexually assault her.

However, she said that another man who was also in the house at the time killed him. Her claims do not appear to have ever been properly investigated, Amnesty said.

Iran’s judicial authorities were reported to have pressured Jabbari to replace her lawyer, Mohammad Ali Jedari Foroughi, for a more inexperienced one, in an apparent attempt to prevent an investigation of her claims, Amnesty reported.

Jabbari’s execution has been deferred a number of times, including in the last month.

“Instead of repeatedly rescheduling Reyhaneh Jabbari’s execution date, the Iranian judiciary should order a re-trial that complies with international standards for fair trial without recourse to the death penalty,” Sahraoui said.

Reyhaneh’s mother told Amnesty International that she met her daughter for one hour today, but prison officials refused to give the family any details of Reyhaneh’s imminent transfer to a place of execution.

Governor quits over missing Mexico students

via Al Jazeera

The governor of Guerrero, the Mexican state where 43 students vanished last month in the city of Iguala, has said he is stepping aside from his position, in a move he hoped would help the investigation into the disappearances.

“I have decided to take my leave from the state parliament,” Angel Aguirre told a news conference on Thursday, saying he hoped his decision would create a “political climate which allows attention to these matters and their solution”.

Family and loved ones of the missing students, who went missing after confrontations with police, had repeatedly called for Aguirre to leave in the wake of the scandal which has triggered nationwide and international outrage.

“In this tragic setting, I refuse to allow the public debate to centre on whether the governor stays in his position or not,” Aguirre said.

Authorities have searched in vain for any trace of the trainee teachers who disappeared on September 26.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands marched through Mexico City and other cities in protests over the disappearance of the students and the failure to find them.

Officials have ordered the arrest of Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala , his wife and an aide, alleging they masterminded the attack which left six students dead and the 43 missing.

Abarca is accused of giving police the order to confront the students, who were known for frequent protests, so that they would not derail a public event being held by his wife.

Aguirre did not specify how long he planned to take leave from his post, stating only that the regional parliament should choose an individual who “must lead this effort in the coming months”.

The next elections for Guerrero state are scheduled for June 2015, meaning Aguirre could theoretically not return to office.

Authorities say local officials and police worked closely with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel in the attack, which could prove to be one of the worst slaughters in Mexico’s bloody eight-year drug war.

Earlier this month, authorities found several mass graves in Iguala but say 28 sets of remains examined so far do not correspond to the students.

EU reaches deal on CO2 emissions cut

via Al Jazerra

European Union leaders have reached what they described as the world’s most ambitious climate change targets for 2030, paving the way for a new UN-backed global treaty next year.

The 28 leaders on Friday finally overcame divisions at an EU summit in Brussels to reach a deal including a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.

They also agreed on 27 percent targets for renewable energy supply and efficiency gains, despite of reservations from some member states about the cost of the measures.

Analysis: Jonah Hull, Reporting From Brussels.
The appearance of progressive EU common policy belies deep unease about additional climate burdens at a time of continued economic crisis. On Friday, eurozone leaders in particular will be knocking heads together after market jitters based on the IMF’s prediction of a 40% chance of a return to recession for the eurozone. It’s an outlook all too gloomy in the face of record low inflation, high unemployment and continued slow growth, including in economic powerhouse Germany.
On Friday morning the outgoing European Council president Herman van Rompuy announced that EU funding for Ebola-affected countries in West Africa would increase to 1 billion euros. That’s a doubling of the existing pledges and in line with what British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked for when he urged the EU last week to come up with a more ambitious package of measures to fight Ebola. It’s a good result for Cameron who has tried to shame his fellow EU leaders to do more by holding Britain up as the lead contributor of funds so far.

“Deal! At least 40 percent emissions cut by 2030. World’s most ambitious, cost-effective, fair EU 2030 climate energy policy agreed,” EU presidentHerman Van Rompuy tweeted.

The EU wanted to agree on the targets ahead of a summit in Paris in November and December 2015, where it is hoped the world will agree to a new phase of the Kyoto climate accords which run until 2020.

The agreement puts the EU “in the driving seat” ahead of the Paris conference, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said.

Environmental groups said the deal did not go far enough to cut global warming.

The climate deal builds on the EU’s targets for 2020 of a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming, a 20 percent boost in renewables such as solar and wind power and a 20 increase in energy efficiency.

While the new 40 percent target for greenhouse gases and 27 percent for renewables agreed on Friday were as expected, a 30 percent goal for an increase in energy efficiency set in July by the Commission was watered down to 27 percent.

Environment group Greenpeace said the EU had “pulled the handbrake on clean energy”.

“These targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuel,” it said British-based humanitarian group Oxfam called for targets of 55 percent in emissions cuts, 40 percent for energy savings and 45 percent for renewables.

Ebola fight

The EU, meanwhile, named Christos Stylianides of Cyprus as the bloc’s coordinator to fight the Ebola disease which has claimed nearly 4,900 lives in West Africa.

Stylianides is the incoming EU commissioner for humanitarian aid.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that other EU nations “need to do more” than the nearly $750 million they have currently pledged to fight the virus.

The leaders were set to discuss the Ukraine crisis although any progress is unlikely, as an EU review on the ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels is not due until next Tuesday.

They will search for ways on Friday to foster economic growth and jobs amid fears of a triple-dip recession.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake: More U.S. Cities Are Banning Feeding the Homeless

from disinformation

US Navy 060526-N-5142K-011 New York Fleet Week 2006, Community Service EffortI’m regularly asked for something to eat by people on the subway or on the streets of New York City. Complying with such a request may well be illegal before long if a trend in other American cities expands. Story from Yahoo News:

Reading through the latest report from the National Coalition for the Homeless might spark one of those moments when you wonder, what would Marie Antoinette say? French peasants who had no bread to eat were so enraged by rumors that their queen uttered the phrase “Let them eat cake” that she ended up decapitated. Well, the coalition’s modern-day researchers found that since January 2013, 21 cities have restricted or flat-out banned feeding the homeless at all—and 10 municipalities have similar ordinances in the works.

At the heart of the bans and restrictions, write the authors, is the misguided belief that feeding people who are sleeping on the streets or in shelters encourages homelessness.

Read the rest

The post Don’t Let Them Eat Cake: More U.S. Cities Are Banning Feeding the Homeless appeared first on disinformation.

These Rules Can Protect Doctors and Nurses From Ebola—If They’re Followed

from Politics | Mother Jones

More than 200 nurses rallied outside the National Nurses Union headquarters in Oakland, California, on Tuesday, demanding more stringent protections from Ebola for health care workers. They carried signs reading "Stop Blaming Nurses. Stop Ebola." and wore red stickers declaring "I am Nina Pham" and "I am Amber Vinson"—the names of the two nurses who contracted Ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to have died from Ebola on American soil. (A fourth patient, a New York City doctor, was diagnosed yesterday.)

The rally was one of many held around the country this week, organized by the NNU to press President Obama and lawmakers to mandate stronger protections for nurses and other health care workers treating Ebola patients. The NNU alleges that Pham and Vincent were exposed to the virus due to the lack of safety protocols at their hospital in Texas. In a survey conducted by the union, four out of five nurses reported they have not been instructed how to properly handle Ebola patients.

While there was plenty of talk at the rally about the need to implement the recently issued recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no one mentioned the federal rules concerning Ebola that are already on the books—and how they could be better publicized and enforced.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has long-standing regulations on protecting workers from infectious diseases, including Ebola. Introduced in 1986, OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard is intended to keep health care workers from contracting HIV as well as hepatitis C, malaria, syphilis, and viral hemorrhagic fevers (like Ebola). The standard requires hospitals to provide and require the use of protective equipment such as masks and face shields to ensure that "blood or other potentially infectious materials" do not touch workers’ clothes, skin, face, or mucous membranes.

Julianne Sum, the acting chief of Cal/OSHA, California’s occupational safety division, says these rules exceed the recommendations currently being demanded by the nurses’ union. "What was in place and what is still in place now are regulations," Sum says. "The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has been in place for over 30 years around the whole country."

OSHA also has specific requirements for respiratory protections from bioaerosols (airborne particles that could contain viruses) and a standard for personal protective equipment. These rules apply to anyone who might come into contact with an infectious disease on the job, including airline flight crews, lab workers, customs agents, and morticians. "All viruses are covered, including the flu," Sum says.

So why are nurses and health care workers saying they haven’t been properly protected from Ebola? Part of the answer, explains Rena Steinzor, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law who has written about workplace safety, is that OSHA has suffered from budget cuts and a lack of political support for decades. "You could reel it back to Reagan," Steinzor says. "There were cuts and a downward trend and eventually it got to the point where they never recouped it." Already underfunded, the agency was hit hard by sequestration. In the last four years, the agency’s budget (in real dollars) fell more than 10 percent, though it rose slightly in the last fiscal year.

OSHA is responsible for overseeing 8 million workplaces and 130 million workers. With a workforce of about 2,200 inspectors, that’s about one inspector for every 59,000 workers. Federal and state OSHA inspectors inspected 0.3 percent of workplaces in the 2013 fiscal year, a rate that remained fairly constant over the previous seven years. 

America’s hospitals see around 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses every year. Even though OSHA has identified hospitals as "one of the most hazardous place(s) to work," its health care inspections have declined significantly. Of the roughly 39,000 workplace inspections done last year, 254 were of hospitals. That’s down from 374 the previous year and 559 where they peaked in 2011.

When hospitals are inspected, close to 75 percent are found to have violated the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. It is the most common citation received by employers in the health care industry. "When you don’t inspect places, compliance becomes lax because nobody is concerned about it," Steinzor explains.

Those statistics provide some context for the nation’s initial response to Ebola, particularly in Dallas, where Duncan was treated. A statement from the NNU details numerous alleged breaches of protocol during his stay at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. "Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available, at a time when he had copious amounts of diarrhea and vomiting which produces a lot of contagious fluids," it states. If that’s accurate, Texas Presbyterian was in violation of OSHA rules.

When it does uncover workplace safety violations, OSHA can’t do much more than slap offenders on the wrist. More than 4,400 workers are killed on the job each year. Yet the maximum fine for serious violations is $7,000, and criminal penalties for negligence resulting in workers’ deaths may not exceed misdemeanors with six-month prison terms. As David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, noted in a 2011 speech, there are harsher consequences for harassing burros on federal land or violating the South Pacific Tuna Act.

Considering this, perhaps hospitals and health care workers can’t be blamed for not realizing that OSHA already has rules regarding Ebola in place. At NNU headquarters in Oakland, union copresident Debra Burger emphasized that her organization wants new rules for dealing with the virus. She said she has no faith in hospitals stepping up to the plate voluntarily. "The gaping hole in protection is that guidelines from the CDC are just that," she said. "They are suggestions. Employers get to pick and choose which parts of the CDC requirements are implemented, and so we have grave concerns." When asked about the OSHA standards already in place, she shrugged. "I can’t speak to that," she responded.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the door, Cal/OSHA representatives were preparing to meet with nurses and other health agencies to plan a course of action. It’s not yet clear if that means new regulations or simply a new push to enforce existing ones.

One healthy result of the Ebola scare, says Cal/OSHA head Sum, is the renewed attention on protections for health care workers. "I think the silver lining here," she says, "is that if this crisis can get everyone more prepared, then we will be prepared when there is another wave of possible threat of another kind of infection."

Police Beating Victim Wins $1,000 Settlement…His Lawyers Get $459,000

from News – AllGov

An Alabama man assaulted by police during an arrest six years ago has won a $460,000 settlement. But Anthony Warren will only receive $1,000 of the award. His attorneys will take home the remaining $459,000, plus $100,000 in expenses.


The terms of the settlement were negotiated by Warren’s lawyers and approved by Birmingham mayor William Bell and the city council.


Warren was arrested in 2008 following a high-speed car chase in which he struck a school bus, a police car, and a police officer.


After Warren flipped his car, five Birmingham police officers descended on him, repeatedly hitting and kicking him. The arrest was captured on video taken by a police car dashboard camera and later shown on national news.


Warren sued for assault and battery. Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper conceded that his officers used excessive force. The officers were fired but later reinstated.


Warren is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for attempted murder, which stemmed from hitting the officer with his vehicle.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Birmingham Pays $460,000 to End Police Beating Lawsuit, But Only $1,000 Goes to Plaintiff (by Joseph Bryant,

Birmingham Police Excessive Force Civil Trial Ends in Settlement (by Kent Faulk,

Judge Gives Obama Administration until December to Justify Withholding 2,100 Photos of U.S. Use of Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan

from News – AllGov

A federal judge has given the Obama administration less than two months to explain in detail why 2,100 photographs depicting torture by U.S. agents and others should be kept hidden from public view.


A deadline of December 12 was set by Judge Alvin Hellerstein in the aftermath of his ruling (pdf), in August, denying the government’s claim that it is legally allowed to bar release of the photos. Those images are reportedly of detainees tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at other U.S. detention centers during the George W. Bush administration.


Both the Bush and Obama administrations have insisted that releasing the photographs will incite hatred against Americans and put U.S. soldiers overseas in harm’s way.


In 2009 Congress passed the Protected National Security Documents Act (pdf), the intent of which was to bolster the government’s opposition to the photos’ release. The law permits the secretary of defense to withhold, for up to three years, any image that he or she deems would endanger Americans upon its release. In 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cited the law in barring release of the entire lot of 2,100 “torture” photographs.


Hellerstein’s recent ruling came in response to a 2004 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. In that ruling, he found the government’s declaration to be overreaching. “I have reviewed some of these photographs and I know that many…are relatively innocuous while others need more serious consideration,” Hellerstein wrote.


The judge rejected the Obama administration’s sweeping suppression of the 2,100 images and ordered the government to provide a written explanation for each photograph that justifies it being withheld from public disclosure.


The Department of Justice will have until December 12 to meet that demand. A hearing has been scheduled for January 23 for Hellerstein to discuss the written justifications that the government will have submitted.

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

US Ordered to Explain withholding of Iraq and Afghanistan Torture Photos (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)

The Torture Secrets Are Coming (American Civil Liberties Union)

Federal Court Blocks Release of Possible Torture Video (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Judge Clashes with Defense Dept. over Release of Abu Ghraib Photos (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Refuses to Turn Over 9,400 CIA Torture and Interrogation Documents to Congress (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

50% Increase in U.S. Cities Advancing Laws to Restrict the Sharing of Food with Homeless People

from News – AllGov

Every year, feeding the homeless is getting a little bit harder to do in the United States.


Since 2010 there has been close to a 50% increase in the number of American cities that have passed or introduced laws imposing restrictions on the sharing of food with homeless people.


Fort Lauderdale has become the latest to do so. The Florida city is the 22nd since January 2013 alone to approve such a law or restrict such practices through community pressures, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Another 10 U.S. cities are in the process of passing such legislation.


Cities that already have these laws on the books include Houston, Texas; Costa Mesa, Chico and Hayward, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Olympia, Washington.


The Coalition, which is an advocacy group for the homeless, began tracking this kind of legislation in 2010. It discovered that there has been a 47% increase in U.S. cities’ efforts to pass such laws in the last four years.


Fort Lauderdale’s law mandates that soup kitchens must be at least 500 feet away from homes. They also must be 500 feet apart from each other, and there can only be one homeless food site located per city block.


The ordinance, which city commissioners passed by a vote of 4-1, does not restrict churches from providing food to the homeless as long as it is done indoors.


A number of organizations that provide weekly meals to the homeless may be forced to halt their operations as a result of the new rules, according to The Sun Sentinel. One in six food charity organizations are already concerned that they’ll have to close up shop soon, according to a recent study (pdf) released by Feeding America.


City lobbyist and Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book supports the ordinance. “Feeding people on the streets is sanctioning homelessness,” he told the newspaper. “Whatever discourages feeding people on the streets is a positive thing.”


“One of the most narrow-minded ideas when it comes to homelessness and food-sharing is that sharing food with people in need enables them to remain homeless,” counters a new report (pdf) from the National Coalition for the Homeless. “In many cases food-sharing programs might be the only occasion in which some homeless individuals will have access to healthy, safe food.”


Fort Lauderdale commissioners who passed the restrictive ordinance said they participate in other efforts to help the homeless, including projects to provide housing and one-way tickets to reunite the homeless with family members in other parts of the country.

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Pull All-Nighter and Approve Homeless Feeding Restrictions (by Larry Barszewski, Sun Sentinel)

Share No More: October, 2014 Report The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Need (National Coalition for the Homeless) (pdf)