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Is Your Child’s Juice Contaminated with Lead? Pesticides? Probably.

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Remember the good old days — circa last month — when conscientious parents could shell out the extra bucks for organic fruit juices in the hope of reducing the number of pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins that their children — all of our children — eat, drink and breathe each and every day?

Turns out that — at least when it comes to apple juice, grape juice, canned peaches, canned pears, and baby foods that contain these fruits — it makes no difference where lead contamination is concerned. Which means that we can now safely add both organic and conventionally-grown fruit juices to the overlong list of drinks — a list that includes milk, water and soy — that are no longer safe for our children to drink.

The good news? You'll find no added sugar or sweeteners in Gerber Apple juice; no artificial flavors or colors; no preservatives. The bad news? These additives would be preferable to what's really inside that bottle.

According to the recently released results of a study by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), out of the 146 juice and canned fruit samples they tested in an EPA lab (see the complete list below), 125 contained toxic levels of lead. In fact, a single serving of these juices or fruits is toxic enough that, by law in California, these products should carry warning labels. (For more info on lead exposure and children, read the foundation’s FAQ sheet).

Of course, the focus on the ELF study was lead — a heavy metal for which no safe level exists; a heavy metal that accumulates in the body with each exposure, beginning before birth (via their mother’s blood) and continuing into early childhood from myriad environmental and food exposures; a heavy metal that is especially dangerous to young children, whose bodies absorb it more quickly, and who are at the highest risk of brain damage, cancers and developmental/behavioral disorders from lead exposure. But what about the pesticide levels in those same fruit products — leaded and unleaded alike? For this information, you could look here, where you’d find that it makes little difference whether you buy U.S. or foreign-grown agricultural products. It’s a complete crap shoot, as both are likely to be tainted with heavy metals and pesticides.

Now for Some Good  News

Once you weed out the fruit juices with lead contamination and the fruit juices likely to have pesticide contamination, there is (until we hear otherwise) a grand total of one “safe” juice on the Environmental Law Foundation’s list. Tentative kudos to R.W. Knudsen Organic Apple Juice for this precarious honor, which may be nothing more than dumb luck on their part because, come next week or next month or next year — depending on which supplier they buy their apples from — the story might be entirely different. As good news goes, we could aspire to better.

The Problem

As anyone who’s been paying attention could tell you, the ELF study comes as no real surprise. Lead contamination is just the tip of the iceberg. The bad news about our food chain has been rolling out for years — especially over the past decade, as more and more of our food is sourced from China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and other countries that provide dirt-cheap produce, meats, seasonings, supplements and vitamins, courtesy of their lax-to-non-existent standards on food, environmental and worker safety.

Concurrent to this, the U.S. has eased its own standards — giving the green light to corporate American growers and manufacturers to do whatever they jolly well please with our food supply, while simultaneously putting up road blocks to smaller growers of integrity. The hope of the politicians who steer such policies is to kill what little competition remains to their corporate benefactors.

At the same time, the budgets have been slashed to the agencies empowered with protecting American consumers from eating foods tainted with pesticides, heavy metals and other toxic substances. As a consequence, there is little to no oversight on most of the food grown and produced in the U.S. The inspection process is equally lacking on imported foods, as a mere ½ of 1% of the food entering this country is ever tested for these contaminants, much less for pathogens, decay, filth, bacteria, odors, mystery additives, missing ingredients, unidentified objects and the myriad other findings that might prompt the FDA to refuse import into the U.S.

Lacking any real oversight, our ports wait with open arms and a blind eye turned to the roughly 50 million metric tons of food imported into the U.S. each year. It is only through a combination of dumb luck, the vigilance of other countries, and the research of independent food safety advocates — or, as is too often the case, by the trail of sick people and dead bodies — that we become enlightened to the existence of melamine-tainted chocolates, dog food and milk, drug-laced seafoods, and everything from vitamins to rice, garlic and tea contaminated with a mix of pesticides, lead, cadmium and arsenic. Add to this mix the myriad pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli that have become staple contaminants in our food supply — both imported and domestically produced. Given our track record in recent years, we can hardly wag our finger at China.

The ConAgra Solution

One wonders: How the hell does this stuff get into the food chain? There are as many answers to that question as there are tainted products on the market. Here’s but one.

To speed up the drying process, they would lay the tea leaves out on a huge warehouse floor and drive trucks over them so that the exhaust would more rapidly dry the leaves out. And the problem there is that the Chinese use leaded gasoline, so they were essentially spewing the lead over all these leaves. — from a 2007 NPR interview with former FDA commissioner, William Hubbard.

Of course, tea is a single ingredient. Once somebody bothers to test it, the trail is easy enough to follow. But what if that tainted product happens to be a processed food containing, perhaps, dozens of ingredients from a dozen different countries? You’d think that, by testing each ingredient, the answer could be pieced together.

ConAgra issued a "precautionary" recall last month (June 17, 2010) on its Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen dinners, after 29 people in 14 states were sickened with salmonellosis linked to Salmonella serotype Chester, a potentially fatal disease, after eating these dinners. The ingredient source of the salmonella has yet to be identified, nor do we know if these consumers took advantage of ConAgra's warning to measure the dinner's temperature with a food thermometer before eating.

Problem is, the suppliers of those dozens of ingredients change from day to day, depending on which supplier from which country offers the cheapest flour, cheapest peanuts, cheapest garlic, cheapest beef, cheapest spinach, cheapest grapes, and so on. This was the conundrum faced last year by the frozen food industry giants (e.g. ConAgra, General Mills and Nestle, who peddle brands such as Healthy Foods, Swanson, Hungry Man and Banquet).

These manufacturers knew for a fact that their products were contaminated with salmonella and other food-borne pathogens, but they couldn’t pinpoint the source. Was it today’s ground pepper from China? Yesterday’s pepper from India? Last week’s pepper from Vietnam?

What to do? ConAgra took the lead and decided that, since they couldn’t find the source of the salmonella, much less get rid of it, they’d pass the buck to the consumer. Other companies followed suit. They accomplished this by adding an advisory to their pot pie packaging, which told the consumer, in so many words, how to go about killing those deadly pathogens: “Internal temperature needs to reach 165° F as measured by a food thermometer in several spots”.

Got that, American consumer? Keep your food thermometer handy, and should you fail to check several spots to make sure your food heats to a consistent 165° F, you’ll have no one but yourself to blame if you die from salmonella poisoning.

The Kellogg Solution

Kellogg's issued a "voluntary recall" on some 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks last month (June 2010) due to "an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package" which could cause temporary nausea and diarrhea in sensitive children.

Problem is, some foods (e.g. spinach salad, breakfast cereal, granola, cookies, crackers, peanut butter) aren’t compatible with the ConAgra method and would taste downright awful if heated to an internal temperature of  165° before eating. To this end, some larger manufacturers, such as Kellogg, have hired private investigators to inspect their suppliers. But even that’s no guarantee.

A supplier unscrupulous enough to knowingly pass food contaminated with salmonella, E. coli and possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) pathogens onto consumers is certainly not above greasing the palms of these 3rd-party inspectors, as Kellogg discovered, when their products were drawn into the huge dragnet of recalled products in the wake of the Georgia peanut scandal. Such scandals are ongoing — both in our food supply and in the consumer products we use every day. But, unless we make a point to frequent the USDA and CPSC websites, along with consumer advocate and safety websites, we’re none the wiser.

But at least some of the peanut stories made the news. Usually such stories pass, like ships in the night, with little to no fanfare on the evening news.

The House of Cards

Our lawmakers, for their part, have largely been asleep at the wheel, most of them drunk on lobbyist dollars from the corporations who peddle these toxic products. This symbiotic relationship — with corporations funding political campaigns and careers, and with politicians creating loopholes, laws, subsidies and tax breaks to benefit their corporate benefactors (turning a blind eye to infractions and felonies alike, as needed) — has created a house of cards. Only, unlike our economy, this house of cards won’t fall all at once. It will fall little by little, child by child, and with little fanfare from our news or lawmakers until, perhaps, their own children or grandchildren succumb to illness or disease, putting the issue of food safety squarely into their own laps.

For now, these politicians and the corporations who fund their careers will stick to their battle cries of, “The free market is self-correcting!” and “Keep big government out of business!” To this end, the only way for U.S. growers and manufacturers to keep pace with China — who we now depend on to feed us — is to craft our environmental, worker and food safety standards to mirror theirs, then sell this corrupt bill of goods to the American consumer.So far, so good.

The good news for these politicians and their benefactors is that, over the past 10 years, U.S. standards indeed come to resemble those in China, so that today the average agricultural product (not to mention toys, dishes, clothing, furniture, household products and cleaners) produced in the U.S.A. is just as likely to be grown or manufactured with slave-wage labor and contaminated with pesticides, lead and other heavy metals as the average product from China. Fancy that.

But, again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve not even broached the topic of the genetically modified organisms (built-in pesticides and such) that have been contaminating our food supply, both domestic and foreign, for years. There’s more than arsenic and old lead lurking in that bowl of rice.

Choose Your Poison Wisely

Even as some of us have been watching this house of cards being erected year by year — all the while writing letters and protesting as these food safety standards have fallen one by one — it’s still alarming, dismaying and downright depressing to learn the results of the ELF study on lead. Of course, we can continue buying organic in the hope of avoiding — or at the very least reduce our children’s exposure to the carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors and developmental/reproductive toxicants already known by the USDA to exist in most of the conventionally-grown grape juices, apple juicescanned peaches and canned pears that the ELF tested for lead. But now we’re left with an impossible choice: pesticides or lead?

The choice is easier for those parents who rely on the evening news to enlighten them as to what they’re feeding their children: both.

Enlightened or not, the rule of thumb for children in the U.S. (not to mention adults) is this: nothing is safe. The old rules of thumb for travelers abroad now apply to us. When in the U.S., don’t drink the water, don’t eat the food, don’t use the dishes, don’t wear the clothes, don’t breathe the air, stay off the grass and, for god sakes, don’t play with the toys. Perhaps this is all right with you. As Thomas Gray famously said, “Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.”

I can attest to the truth of Gray’s words, as I’m always happier before I learn that my grandchildren — despite their organic vegetarian diets and all the care that is taken to buy safe products — have nonetheless been eating, drinking and breathing arsenic, lead, cadmium, Cobalt 50, mercury, BPA, phthalates, formaldehyde, melamine, antibiotics, hormones, pathogens and the residuals of hundreds of pesticides lurking everywhere you look.

I’m always happier before learning that — despite all the care taken to ensure their safety and well-being — that the odds have just grown that my grandchildren’s number might be called to pay the price for exposure to these toxins:  cancer, neurological disorders, endocrine & reproductive disorders, behavioral disorders, asthma, skin afflictions and countless other diseases.

Maybe this is all right with you. But if it’s not, you’d be making a real contribution by simply saying so. Here’s how. Here’s another way. And another. And another.

Because, see, we don’t live in the good old days. In the good old days, businessmen like Mr. Potter were the bad guys in movies with titles like, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the good old days, politicians whose consciences could be bought and paid to turn a blind eye to poisoning children were fewer and far-between. In the good old days, you’d be hard-pressed to find any but the most ignorant of souls who would scoff at the most rudimentary commonsense knowledge (not to mention the mountains of scientifically drawn evidence) that feeding children arsenic, lead and poison is bad for their health.

Our entire food chain has been poisoned from start to finish: from the growers, to the processors, to the manufacturers, to the inspectors, to the laws that govern the ethics of these interests, to the food on our tables.

The problem, you see, is that no one’s minding the store. No one except for the scoundrels and you, if you so choose.

______________________________

by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

______________________________

TO TAKE ACTION:

From What’s in My Food? website: a petition for Safe, Fair and Green Food

From the Make Our Food Safe Coalition website: Tell Your U.S. Senators: Make Our Food Safe NOW!

From the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families blog: Tired of Toxics? Give Congress a Jingle

From the Environmental Working Group website:  Babies are born pre-polluted with hundreds of toxic chemicals. Sign this petition to demand that Congress take action to make chemicals in consumer products kid-safe.

From the Physicians for Social Responsibility website: a petition to support the Lautenberg Plan: Protect Americans from Toxic Chemical Exposure

FOR MORE READING:

Lautenberg Plan: Safety First

Environmental Working Group website:

The Washington Post:

Physicians for Social Responsibility

  • The Need for Chemical Reform in the United States (Excerpt: During the past 30 years the incidence of childhood cancer, asthma, autism, infertility, premature births, birth defects, and a range of other problems has increased. For example, from 1976 to 1994, there was a 30 percent increase in the incidence of all types of cancers for children under the age of one….)

The Providence Journal:

Report finds gaps in food safety, FDA powers (this article speaks on the difficulty of tracing the pinpointing the country-of-origin on salmonella-tainted ground pepper)

The Raleigh Telegram:

Produce safety bill may make farmers markets a thing of the past

Oregonlive.com:

Oregon’s small-scale farms worry about sweeping food safety bill

NOTE: The above two links illustrate but one angle being used by corporate growers and their political hacks to exploit the food safety bill to drive small farmers out of business.

THE LISTS FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FOUNDATION LEAD STUDY:

Below are the lists of fruit product brands that were tested in the ELF’s lead study. To make the list more reader-friendly, I’ve highlighted the lead-tainted products in red, and the unleaded brands in green. The organic brands are in bold font. The original report can be seen in this pdf form on the ELF website. See also: Lead in Children’s Foods: Frequently Asked Questions

Apple Juice

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:
  • Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
  • Earth’s Best Organics Apple Juice
  • First Street 100% Apple Cider from concentrate
  • First Street Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Full Circle Organic Apple Juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Great Value 100% No Sugar Added Apple Juice
  • Hansen’s Natural Apple Juice
  • Kroger 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice
  • Minute Maid Juice Apple – 100% Apple Juice
  • Motts 100% Apple Juice
  • O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate
  • Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice
  • Parade 100% Juice Apple
  • Raley’s Premium 100% Apple Juice not from Concentrate
  • Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Safeway 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Stater Bros. 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Sunny Select 100% Apple Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized
  • Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Walnut Grove Market 100% Apple Juice
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per
serving:
  • Great Value 100% Apple Juice not from concentrate
  • Harvest Day 100% Apple Juice from Concentrate
  • Kirkland Fresh Pressed Apple Juice Pasteurized
  • Martinelli’s Gold Medal Apple Juice 100% pure from US grown fresh apples
  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Apple Juice unfiltered
  • Raley’s Everyday 100% Apple Juice
  • Sunny Select 100% Unfiltered Apple Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice all natural pasteurized, 100% juice
  • Tree Top 100% Apple Juice
  • Tree Top Three Apple Blend 100% Fresh Pressed Juice

Grape Juice

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of
lead per serving:
  • 365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Juice Concord Grapes
  • First Street Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice – White Grape Juice
  • Great Value 100% Grape Juice
  • Kedem Concord Grape Juice 100% pure grape juice
  • Kroger Grape Juice 100% Juice
  • Langers Grape Juice (Concord)
  • Langers Red Grape Juice
  • O Organics Organic Grape Juice from concentrate
  • R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice
  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord
  • Raley’s 100% Grape Juice
  • Safeway 100% Juice Grape Juice
  • Safeway Organic Grape Juice
  • Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice
  • Stater Bros. 100% Juice Grape Juice
  • Stater Bros. 100% Juice White Grape Juice
  • Sunny Select 100% Grape Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Concord Grape Juice made from fress pressed organic concord grapes
  • Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape
  • Valu Time Grape Drink from Concentrate
  • Walgreens Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Walnut Acres Organic Concord Grape
  • Walnut Grove Market Grape Juice
  • Welch’s 100% Grape Juice (from Welch’s Concord Grapes)
  • Welch’s 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per
serving:
  • Old Orchard Healthy Balance Grape (Unfortunately, the only “safe” grape juice happens to be sweetened by Splenda).

Packaged Pears

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of
lead per serving:
  • Best Yet Bartlett Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
  • Del Monte Diced Pears in Light Syrup
  • Del Monte Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
  • Del Monte Pear Halves, Bartlett Pears in 100% real fruit juice from concentrate
  • Dole Pear Halves in Juice
  • First Street Diced Pears
  • First Street Sliced Bartlett
  • Full Circle Organic Bartlett Pear Slices
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Pears [Baby Food]
  • Great Value Bartlett Pear Halves in 100% Juice
  • Great Value Bartlett Sliced Pears in Heavy Syrup
  • Market Pantry Diced Pears in Light syrup
  • Maxx Value Pear Pieces in Light Syrup
  • Polar Pear Halves in light syrup
  • S&W Natural Style Pear Slices in Juice
  • S&W Sun Pears Premium
  • Safeway Lite Bartlett Pear Halves in Pear Juice
  • Safeway Pear Halves in Light Juice
  • Sunny Select Pear Halves in Pear Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Pear Halves in white grape juice
  • Truitt Brothers Pacific NorthWest Bartlett Pear Halves, in pear juice from concentrate
  • Valu Time Irregular Bartlett Pear Slices
  • Walnut Grove Market Natural Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per
serving:
  • Eating Right Kids Diced Pears Fruit Cups
  • Stater Bros. Diced Pears Snack Bowl

Packaged Peaches

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of
lead per serving:
  • Best Yet Yellow Cling Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup
  • Del Monte Freestone Peach Slices in 100 % Juice
  • Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in 100 % Juice
  • Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup
  • Dole Diced Peaches, Yellow Cling in light syrup
  • First Street Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Peaches [Baby Food]
  • Golden Star Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup
  • Great Value Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches
  • Libby’s Yellow Cling Peach Slices No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)
  • Market Pantry Diced Peaches in light syrup
  • Polar Peach Slices
  • Raley’s Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup
  • S&W Natural Style Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Lightly Sweetened Juice
  • S&W Premium Peach Halves Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup
  • Safeway Diced Peaches in Light Syrup
  • Safeway Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Pear Juice
  • Simple Value Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup
  • Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Peach Halves
  • Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in heavy syrup
  • Sunny Select Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in Pear Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Yellow Cling Peach Halves in while grape juice
  • Valu Time Yellow Cling Peach Slices
  • Walnut Grove Market Natural Peaches Sliced Yellow Cling in Light Syrup
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per
serving:
  • Dole Diced Peaches, Cling in Light Syrup
  • Dole Diced Peaches, Freestone in Light Syrup
  • Dole Sliced Peaches
  • Eating Right Kids Diced Peaches in Extra Light Syrup
  • Stater Bros. Diced Peaches Snack Bowl

Fruit Cocktail

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of
lead per serving:
  • Best Yet Chunky Mixed Fruit in Pear Juice
  • Chef’s Review Fruit Cocktail
  • Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail
  • Del Monte Chunky Mixed Fruit in 100 % Juice (peach, pear, grape, etc.)
  • Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peach, pear, grapes)
  • Del Monte Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added
  • Del Monte Lite Fruit Cocktail in Extra Light Syrup
  • Dole Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup
  • Eating Right Fruit Cocktail packed in Sucralose
  • Eating Right No Sugar Fruit Cocktail
  • First Street Fruit Cocktail in heavy syrup
  • Golden Star Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup (peach, pineapple, pears)
  • Great Value No Sugar Added Fruit Cocktail
  • Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
  • Kroger Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice
  • Kroger Value Fruit Mix (Peaches, pears, grapes)
  • Libby’s Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)
  • Market Pantry Mixed Fruit in light syrup
  • Maxx Value Fruit Mix in Light Syrup (peach, pear, grape)
  • Mrs. Brown’s Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peaches, pears, grapes)
  • Polar Mixed Fruit
  • Raley’s Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
  • S&W Natural Style Fruit Cocktail in Lightly Sweetened Juice
  • Safeway Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
  • Safeway Light Sugar Fruit Cocktail
  • Safeway Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice
  • Stater Bros. Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
  • Sunny Select Fruit Cocktail in Juice
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per
serving:
  • Del Monte Mixed Fruit

And, hey, as long as we’re talking toxin, you may as well know which veggie burgers contain the neurotoxin, hexane, and which don’t:

Hexane burgers

Just because a product is “made with organic ingredients” does not mean it is made with organic soy. And, chances are, if the soy in your soy milk, energy bar or soy burger came from China, Vietnam, Taiwan or Korea, that organic certification means absolutely nothing.
  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • Boca Burger, conventional
  • Franklin Farms
  • Garden Burger
  • It’s All Good Lightlife
  • Morningstar Farms
  • President’s Choice
  • Taste Above
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Yves Veggie Cuisine

Hexane-Free (yay!) Burgers

As a rule of thumb, USDA certified organic soy is not going to contain hexane. But, again, if that soy comes from China, it’s a crap shoot. As luck has it, there are still a few hexane-free burgers on the market:
  • Boca Burgers “Made with organic soy”
  • Helen’s Kitchen
  • Morningstar “Made with organic”
  • Superburgers by Turtle Island
  • Tofurky
  • Wildwood

While you’re chewing on the topic of soy, you may as well check out the complete Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Soy Report Scorecard on the various brand name soy products — from soymilk to veggie burgers to tofu to baby formula — to see which ones were  (as of May 2009) still safe to consume. Also see the studies on Infant Formulas.

Like everything else, soy is a crap shoot. You never know from one week to the next which company’s been swallowed up by a conglomerate and/or succumbed to the China syndrome for sourcing their ingredients.

Got Milk?

If so, chances are you’ve also “got” the pesticides Diphenylamine (DPA), DDE, Dieldrin, Cyhalothrin, Endosulfan sulfate, 3-hydroxycarbofuran, Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Tetrachlorvinphos, Carbaryl and Dimethoate, plus a host of hormones, antibiotics, vaccine residues, pus and possible pathogens.

Think you can escape these hazards by buying organic? Think again. According to the Cornucopia Institute, which continually updates their Organic Dairy Brand Ratings Scorecard as part of their ongoing effort toward Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk, if you’ve been buying any of the following “organic” brands of milk, you may want to reconsider:

  • Alta Dena (Dean Foods)
  • Aurora Organic Dairy
  • Back to Nature
  • Good Heart Organics
  • Back to Nature (Kraft)
  • Good Heart Organics (Rockview)
  • Hain Celestial (Earth’s Best)
  • Horizon (Dean Foods)
  • Organic Cow (Dean Foods)
  • PMB Nutiritionals (private-label infant formula including Wal-Mart)
  • Noris Dairy/Noris Organic Life
  • Natural Prairie
  • Shamrock Farms
  • Rockview Farms
  • Wholesome Valley (Galaxy Foods)
  • Greenbank Farms/ Stonefelt Cheese Co.

LAST WORDS: Heck, I could keep writing on this post and, five years from now, I’d still be writing. I could link to a thousand web pages of dedicated individuals and groups who are working to restore some integrity to our food supply. Either you care about such things or you don’t.

If you do, please do something, even if it’s just to take a few moments to give a few clicks to the mouse to sign your name to a petition. Many hands make light work.

But it you don’t care, please don’t waste your time sending me impassioned comments about how poisons and heavy metals are our friends, or on how the human body has miraculously adapted to lead contamination, or on how tree hugging alarmists are exploiting these dangers to kill our economy. And while you’re at it, spare me the thinly-veiled racist missives on big government take overs. I’ll just delete them.

Written by canarypapers

July 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

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In the late Middle Ages, a person accused of sorcery was deemed guilty if — submerged in water — she drowned. Later, during the Salem witch hunts trials in America, drowning served as proof of innocence. Today’s American justice system is no less capricious. It seems we’ve regressed as a people. Perhaps this is because our existing justice system was not equipped to convict the accused based on the level of hysteria and fear their alleged crimes induced in the populace — nor to process evidence concocted through primitive methods such as torture and trial by ordeal. Under our new American system of justice, guilt is determined before trial — and, indeed, even before the accused has been arrested. Confessions by torture only confirm our suspicions. The formalities  — judge, jury and due process of law — have been reduced to sham procedures, as if by putting on such a show we could still lay claim to the right to call ourselves a civilized nation.

FORWARD

Googling the news for “Aafia Siddiqui,” the first headline that came up told us all we need to know about the kangaroo trial that started today in New York: Aafia Siddiqui, aka ‘Lady Al Qaeda,’ thrown out of court after ranting at jurors again.

While other headlines and stories echoed this tone, deeming Ms. Siddiqui’s comments as “strange” and “angry,” none of these news-writers seem to have been possessed by the sort of journalistic curiosity and integrity that once defined American journalism. None bothered to ask themselves (nor seek answers for their readerships), exactly what Aafia Siddiqui might have meant in one of her courtroom “outbursts” when she said:

“I never get a chance to speak! If you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured….”

Or when she said:

“There was no list of targets against New York. I was never planning to bomb it! You’re lying!”

That’s the problem with kangaroo courts. The verdict is already in. The rest is just for show. The official record will never show what she meant by those words. In fact, the topic of terrorism (headlines notwithstanding) has been formally forbidden in her trial, officially scrubbed from the record. The verdict is in. All other points, including the truth, are moot.

We at canarypapers have been writing about Aafia Siddiqui since August of 2008, shortly after her alleged “capture” by Afghan authorities in July 2008. For those interested in the background on her story, we have several extensively-linked posts in the canarypapers’ archives. (See links at bottom of page).

Until the Obama Administration takes a mind to bring out of the dark, secret places all of our government’s illegal activities over the past 9 years (e.g. extraordinary renditions, secret prisons and confessions by torture — including the torture of detainees’ children), how can we take seriously our government’s accusations against any “terrorist suspect” — past, present or future?

The question is this: Is there truth to Aafia Siddiqui’s allegations that she and her three children were imprisoned and tortured for 5 years at the hands of U.S. authorities? If so, we can hardly give credence to this same government’s say-so that she was carrying out a terrorist plot when she was “captured” just a few days after she claims that she and one of her children were finally released from this prison in July of 2008 (Note: Her other two children are still missing, with her infant daughter believed to have died in this prison). If Aafia Siddiqui’s allegations are true, she is no doubt, as reported, psychologically scarred — not to mention justifiably outraged.

Yet, Aafia Siddiqui is not on trial for terrorism. She has already been presumed guilty of this on the say-so of the very government that justified “any means necessary,” including primitive torture, to produce evidence of guilt. Going by such monikers as “the female bin Laden,” and “Lady al Qaeda” and “al Qaeda Mom”  in the headlines, Aafia Siddiqui stands before the American public as evil incarnate, guilty of a crime for which she’ll never be tried.

How to proclaim one’s innocence under such circumstances? How to defend yourself, when your side of the story has been censored from the official record, as if your words were nothing but the ramblings of a madman?

The behaviors of the witches who vehemently proclaimed their innocence only sealed their guilt, in the minds of the officials and the gawkers. Time will tell, but there is little doubt — if today’s headlines are any indication — that Aafia Siddiqui’s behavior is also on trial and will be used by the American press to help indict her in the court of public opinion, which is about all that is left to us of our former justice system.

To the credit of Ms. Siddiqui’s attorneys, they are at least making a sound case that she has been falsely accused of the crime for which she’s been charged — attempted murder, for allegedly attempting to shoot at a group of U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, an incident in which the only person shot was Aafia Siddiqui, who was gravely wounded.  Her attorneys have produced forensic evidence and credible witnesses to substantiate her innocence. However, these attorneys are walking a thin line. On the periphery of her defense is the unspoken story — her allegation that she and her children were imprisoned and tortured for 5 years at the hands of U.S. authorities — a story that sounds eerily similar to those told by so many other detainees renditioned to secret U.S. prisons around the world.

How else to try her, except in a sham trial, where she has been issued a gag order regarding any of the events that transpired during the 5 years leading up to her arrest and the alleged shooting? To allow her allegations to surface in any credible manner would be to put the U.S. government on trial. And that’s not going to happen.

Our most recent article on Aafia Siddiqui was in June 2009 post titled, 183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui. Herein, we told the stories of but a small handful of the victims of the Bush- Cheney war of terror. Below are some excerpts from this post. But to better understand the case of Aafia Siddiqui, and others like her, we would urge you to read the entirety of “183 Times is the Charm…” as this post frames these stories in a more comprehensive context. Again, the excerpts below are from that June 2009 post, so some of the information may be dated.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aafia Siddiqui

We begin with the events of March-April 2003, when Aafia Siddiqui and her three children disappeared.

  • Various news agencies (CNN, Boston Glove, UPI) reported that Aafia Siddiqui’s name had surfaced during the “interrogation” of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which we now know involved 183 waterboarding sessions.
  • In the wake of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarding sessions, the FBI issued an alert, on March 18, for Aafia Siddiqui.
  • On March 31, Aafia and her three children disappeared.
  • On April 3, various news agencies (NBC, Associated Press) report that, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and U.S. intelligence officils, Aafia Siddiqui was recently captured and was being held for interrogation at an “undisclosed location.”
  • On April 4th, the FBI “backed off” their initial claim, explaining that it had been a case of mistaken identity.
  • Aafia was not seen or heard from again for over 5 years.

We offer full version of her timeline from March 2003 through June 2009, with pertinent links, here.

The Story of Aafia Siddiqui

Imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn -- specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, "Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story."] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.

Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.

Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials. Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.

By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.

Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife). Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.

To this story add water, then quickly spin

It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up. Such confessions do not arise out of the blue.

Here’s how it works: The interrogators accuse the detainee of a crime, supplying him/her with the details of the alleged crime (e.g. flying to the sabbath on a broomstick or plotting to blow something up). The detainee is then — over a period of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and/or years – beaten, cut, sliced, subjected to electric shock, freezing cold, left naked and forced to stay awake for days on end, hung from the ceiling by his wrists, starved, suffocated, water-tortured, and/or threatened with rape or death to himself, his wife or his children (who may, indeed, be heard screaming in an adjoining room) and otherwise tortured, threatened, humiliated and terrorized until he confesses to the crime(s). Next, the interrogators demand the names of his co-conspirators – supplying the detainee with the names and specifics of their alleged crimes (e.g. supplying broomsticks or bombs to other witches). He is then tortured until he tells the interrogators what they want to hear. New arrests follow. The accused co-conspirators are likewise tortured into confessing crimes and fingering still more co-conspirators. New arrests follow….

Your name is Aafia Siddiqui, and you have just been fingered (albeit under torture) by none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It is March 28, 2003. You have just left your mother’s house, with your three children, to visit your uncle in Islamabad. Only, you never arrive. Over the next several days, your name is broadcast in headlines around the world. According to a statement by the FBI, which had issued an alert for you only 10 days earlier, you were apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan and were being held for interrogation at an undisclosed location. A few days later, the FBI retracts this statement, saying that — despite their initial optimism — it was a case of mistaken identity. They had not captured you, after all.

The fact nonetheless remains: You and your three children seemingly disappeared into thin air. Over the next 5 years, your mother, sister and brother would search for you, traveling back and forth between the United States and Pakistan, demanding answers from authorities. Pakistani citizens joined humanitarian agencies and human rights groups the world over, waging protests on your behalf and demanding answers. The U.S. and Pakistani governments staunchly denied owning any information on your whereabouts, although, during 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller III announced that an informant in Africa had seen your picture  and fingered you as the diamond-smuggling woman from June 2001, which placed you on the FBI’s offical list of wanted terrorist suspects.

An attorney now working on your behalf says that she can prove that you were in the U.S. during June 2001. The likelihood of this evidence ever being presented at trial is, so far, slim to non-existent.

Your name is Aafia Siddiqui, just one in a long list of names of ghost detainees, being spirited from prison to prison, torture session to torture session; just one in a long list of terrorist suspects who have been fingered — under torture – by another terrorist suspect, who was perhaps fingered, under torture, by yet another terrorist suspect; just another body in another secret prison.

“Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story.”

While the words Abu Garib and Guantanaomo Bay have been out of the closet for several years now, the words Dark Prison, Camp Slappy and the Salt Pit have yet to emerge in the American vernacular. These are but a few of the twenty or so secret prisons in Afghanistan — and a mere fraction of the total number of “dark sites” worldwide –  where the Bush-Cheney Administration sent detainees for the explicit purpose of extracting information through torture. Part and parcel of these detentions has been the fullscale denial by the Bush Administration — and, now, the Obama Administration — that these prisons (and, by extension, the prisoners, themselves) even exist.

Pertinent to the case of Aafia Siddiqui is the word Bagram Prison, which has been alternately a stopping point and the ultimate destination of thousands of Bush Administration terrorist suspects (the distinction between a bona fide terrorist and terrorist suspect being a moot one, within the current framework of the U.S. justice system). Within this tortured system of justice, the only evidence that these prisons exist has come from the ghosts that inhabited these prisons — those terrorist suspects who were eventually released, and have since given testimony to the various forms of tortures they endured, some of which make the stomach wretch just to read about them.

It can be seen as a sign of progress that the word waterboarding, along with enhanced interrogation and extraordinary rendition, have now made their way into the daily dialogue of mainstream media, granting the average American citizen permission to discuss these words without being branded a nut-job. But these words are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the Bush-Cheney torture program. Beneath the surface are so many other words — much-spoken elsewhere in the world, but yet to emerge in the American vernacular: hoods, electrocutions, whips, mock executions, sexual humiliation, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, dog terror, starvation, hypothermiathe rapes (both threatened and consummated), the electric prods, the “dog box,” the rubber bands on the penis designed to stop urination for days at a time, the hot metal rods, the threats to harm a prisoner’s wife or child (some allegedly carried out), the razor cuts and pepper spray on the genitals – not to mention the full menu of  “sanctioned” tortures that have also been inflicted on the thousands of human beings — including uncounted scores of innocents – chained and shackled at the mercy of their torturers, whose explicit job description was to extract information through whatever means were necessary.

Beneath the surface, still, are the numbers of detainee children (ages from infancy onward) who have been imprisoned and held for the cruelest ransom: a full confession from their parents. Further, still, beneath the surface are the stinging insects and the deprivation of food and water – two tortures which have been repeatedly alleged as being used on these children. And we have yet to learn the extent and nature of those “gruesome” forms of torture, such as “crushing the testicles of a person’s child,” that were approved by the Bush Administration for use on detainee children. In this vein, it must be remembered that, along with Aafia Siddiqui disappeared her three children — ages 6 months, 4 years and 6 years in March 2003.

It would be another five years before Aafia Siddiqui would see the light of day.

HEADLINE: The Female Osama bin Laden is Captured!

Aafia Siddiqui ‘reappeared’ in the summer of 2008. She was promptly arrested, and — even as she was dubbed “the female Osama bin Laden,” with her capture deemed to be “the most significant break in U.S. intelligence in 5 years” — her story drew only small mention in the mainstream U.S. media before disappearing completely off the radar.

Given the seriousness of the accusations waged against her, it’s astonishing that few American have even heard her name, much less know her story. What’s even more astonishing is the utter absence of natural or professional curiosity by those U.S. media outlets that did cover her arrest in the summer of 2008. More astonishing, still, is the menu of accusations waged against her in the court of the U.S. media — in which she was essentially tried and convicted — and with much relish by one ABC anchor (seen in the video, below), as he recited the laundry list of allegations against Aafia Siddiqui, as if they were fact:

What has made her capture so important is what the FBI says it found in her handbag: maps of New York City and information on subways, Time Square, the Statue of Liberty, and the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center, run by the Federal government. Also discovered, according to court documents, information on explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents being researched by al Qaeda….”

Perhaps the most important discovery, says the FBI, is a computer thumb drive, packed with emails to what she called ‘her units’ — a possible roadmap to plots in the works…

Among the many plots authorities say she was connected to was a reported effort to assassinate former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton using chemical or biological agents. While her friends and family say she is an innocent woman being persecuted by the U.S., when she was captured, she was discovered to have a large quantity of cyanide in her possession, perhaps prepared to take her life to avoid capture…..

She was also told by leaders “Have lots of babies. Raise little jihadists.” …. She was ideal to have more little jihadists.” ,

Those well-versed in the talking points of human rights’ abusers might have noticed, in the above news segment, the heavy-handed treatment given to Aafia’s children, as they were pre-emptively dehumanized. See, these are not real human children, folks. They are “little jihadists.” Don’t let their size fool you. Pint-sized Miriam (who, at six months of age, was likely just learning to sit up and could, perhaps, even say the word, “coo” and wave goodbye) was a full-fledged terrorist, in miniature. And don’t be swayed by the fact that her older siblings, Suleman and Ahmed (ages 4 and 6 years of age, respectively) were both American-born citizens. This was no doubt part of the global terrorist plot to infiltrate America and destroy our way of life.

With Aafia Siddiqui’s children thusly dehumanized, we Americans could go on with our lives (rent a flick, buy a new pair of stilettos, plan a trip to Vegas) with a clear conscience. No need to give a second thought to the fate of those three children — two of whom are still missing, with Miriam believed to have died in captivity.

The story of Aafia Siddiqui, as told by her brother

The most comprehensive and — by virtue of its source — the most compelling account on Aafia Siddiqui was given just last month, in April 2009, by her brother, at the Muslim Legal Fund of America’s annual fundraising dinner. The full text of his speech is given below (following the asterisks).

Aafia, You Are Not AlonePerhaps one day someone in the mainstream U.S. media will take aim at the story of Aafia Siddiqui. Perhaps, if her story were told in the full light of day, it would be legitimized and could thereby be removed from the minions of so-called conspiracy theorists (like us) and the so-called terrorist appeasers (like Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Cageprisoners, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, to name a few). Maybe, then, all the other stories could be told, too. Because the truth — which is not so foreign outside of the U.S. — is that Aafia Siddiqui is not the only one. (Here is another. And another. And another….)

The stories of these prisoners make clear that — no matter how much Obama and Cheney protest that these torture incidents are mere aberrations, committed by a small handful of “a few bad apples” — the U.S. torture program is, by design (and a clever one, at that) as elusive as it is systematic. And, even as there are many Americans who fully condone torture — saying yes, “Hell yes!” to torture — surely, surely no one would condone torturing a child, even if her mother were, indeed, guilty of the most heinous crimes.

Surely, the American soul has not succumbed to such putrid rot. Or has it?

*     *     *     *     *

THE TEXT OF THE SPEECH GIVEN BY AAFIA SIDDIQUI’S BROTHER ON APRIL 25, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you information about my little sister, Aafia Siddiqui’s case. I especially want to commend you for your courage and support in that you are here tonight.

I have been given the difficult task of presenting a short briefing regarding the facts surrounding Aafia’s case.

However, a brief explanation will not allow me delve into all the angles involved in the case so I will try to focus on the core points from my perspective.

So much has been claimed about my sister. So many labels have been applied to Aafia that unfortunately her humanity has been lost. In order to put the case in context, I will have to digress slightly, and perhaps the best place to start is the beginning – the beginning for me was our upbringing.

Aafia was the youngest child in our small family of three. She was always an accomplished student, who treasured education and it was this pursuit of education that lead her to the U.S. at a young age. When she came here, she lived with me before getting her scholarship to MIT. During this time, my little sister devoted herself to her studies and Muslim student activities. She always had a soft spot for helping people and dawah work.

Aafia also had a passion for children, which sounds nice to say; however, proof was in the fact that she dedicated her education at MIT and Brandeis towards the developing of creative and easy techniques for teaching children. Her own dream was to start a school where her techniques could be put into practice. And when she had children of her own, she was totally devoted to them.

Here is one of the many cruel ironies of Aafia’s life in that someone who dedicated her life to children would end up losing her own.

It was just over 6 years ago that my family’s nightmare began.

In March 2003, my little sister and her three small children all disappeared from Karachi.

It was Aafia, her oldest, Ahmad, who was 6 at the time, Maryum who was 4 and Suleman, who was only 6 months.

After many attempts by my family to find out what happened, we heard reports from both the Pakistani & U.S. press that Aafia had been picked up by security officials and handed over to the U.S. for questioning.

Then nothing… Silence. We could get no official word.

As we started to raise questions, my family was “advised” to stay quiet and told we would be left alone…

I am sure you all remember the atmosphere of the time. There was a tremendous climate of fear… and many reports of people just disappearing, especially overseas. Over time, we made discreet inquiries but as hope began to fade we resigned ourselves to the belief that she and her children were probably dead. My mother would search burial sites as not a single day went by that we forgot her but we kept our pain private as we struggled to move on.

Meanwhile, my sister Aafia, the human being, the mother of three was lost in her own abduction. Her story made her fair game. She was transformed into a flash point, a talking point for all sorts of allegations and speculations in the press, while legends evolved around her from parties with their own interests and agendas.

While we were silently grieving, many human rights groups added Aafia’s name to the growing list of missing persons. It seems Aafia’s was not an isolated case. There were hundreds…

Some of you may recall the time when the issue of missing persons became a hot button in Pakistan. It was during this time, when the Chief Justice started asking about the missing persons, that he was sacked.

In early 2008, Moazzem Beg, a former detainee at Gitmo identified Aafia among the women prisoners at Bagram. By early July, a prominent Pakistani politician, Imran Khan and British reporters released reports about Aafia being a detainee in one of the secret prisons.

Then suddenly, in late July 2008, we learned directly from the FBI that Aafia had been shot in Afghanistan and was being brought to the US on charges of attempting to shoot U.S. servicemen.

We were in total shock – on the one hand my family was overjoyed to learn that Aafia was alive… yet at the same time she faced such extraordinary charges and allegations that we feared for her future.

In an instant, we experienced simultaneous joy and horror; hope and despair, a miracle and an extraordinary test.

And the children – Only one of her children is accounted for. The others, to this day are still missing.

I have often wondered what it must have been like for her and I cannot imagine … just imagine what you would do if somebody took your children? Or, rather what would you not do?

It is important that you understand this, because unless you grasp this, you will not grasp the enormity of this case and what it represents. Why Aafia is where she is and how she acts. Why so many feel for her and why others may feel threatened by her case.

Officially she is charged with the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers. She has categorically denied these charges. Several journalists, including one of the first foreign journalists from Reuters who visited the scene and interviewed eye witnesses have disputed the official version, echoing Aafia’s account.

The charges are hard for me to understand because my little sister loved this country (The U.S.), where she earned an outstanding education. She disliked violence and respected the American work ethic and the value placed on merit and self achievement. Her own life exemplified this. She completed her education at MIT by working campus jobs and earning scholarships. She balanced her religious faith with a desire to forge a modern education. – And here is another one of those cruel ironies – as that very education is being used to vilify her.

Currently, the court proceedings are lingering. This adds to all the confusion and hype surrounding the case, not to mention challenging her physical and mental well being and even the ability to build a proper defense.

Then, there is the atmosphere of fear that we still live in today as those who would rise up and speak boldly are few and far between. I hear many private testimonials from people who knew her and still speak highly favorably about her but most fear speaking out publicly.

Aafia has alleged that she was held captive for over 5 years. The government’s response was to initially send Aafia for a mental evaluation and their own doctors determined she was incompetent to stand trial and may have post traumatic stress disorder.

The prosecution, not liking this, decided to get outside experts to overrule the findings (their own original findings) and currently the original doctors are revising their findings so she can stand trial.

Meanwhile, so much time has passed and Aafia continues to linger in prison. But despite all these challenges, she remains spiritually strong and her faith is undiminished although I do find myself questioning my own at times.

Aafia does have court appointed lawyers. But we learned over the past few months that court appointed lawyers have severe restrictions. For example, in 9 months not one defense lawyer has visited the scene of the crime nor interviewed a single witness or even made a motion for bail.

Court appointed lawyers are paid low fees, and even then, the lawyers constantly struggle get funds pre-approved from the judge. In this system, the other side knows everything you are doing.

Appointed lawyers do not even have to have expertise or experience in the area of charges relevant to the case of Aafia.

So, how can Aafia build a trusting and confidential relationship without a lawyer of her own choosing?

The case is complex and requires independent investigation and a team of capable and experienced lawyers.

This is why are teaming up with MLFA. They have experience in getting a solid legal team in place and are set up to do proper fund raising and accounting for cases like this. They have access to the best legal minds and experts and the ability to negotiate the best fees.

I never thought anything like this could ever happen to my family… I mean this is, or this was, something that only happens to other people…. We were professionals going about our daily lives and yet, here I stand before you after 6 years, 6 long and painful years that have taken a very heavy toll on all our lives, the lives of our children and on our community.

But I stand here because I want to thank you for your courage, your support and your prayers. In spite of, or perhaps because of all the contradicting reports, you are here tonight. Help us help Aafia.

I believe that perhaps the most striking duality about my little sister’s case is that while justice has eluded her, perhaps she can help establish justice for others.”

__________________________________

by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

__________________________________

Links to our other posts on Aafia Siddiqui


Note: Please excuse the discordant font sizes in the earlier posts. We transferred these from a different blog server and, for some reason, the fonts arrived in a jarring mix of big fonts plus fonts so tiny you can barely read them. We make no apologies, however, for any expressions of outrage we may have expressed in our writings in our posts on Aafia Siddiqui and her three children.


What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui: How Each of Us Can Help

UPDATES: The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui

Written by canarypapers

January 20, 2010 at 12:14 am

183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui

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NOTE: The post, below, is from June 2009. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 317 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. (“An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website)

The hunt was characterized by unrestrained torture and and an obsession with getting tortured witches to name other witches. (from Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia, by William E. Burns)

"Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

"The Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

By now, most Americans — having heard the word “waterboarding” at least 183 times over the past month — seem to have grown immune to the visceral horrors attending to that particular techinque that the International Red Cross terms “suffocation by drowning.” We’ve surely grown immune to human suffering. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have reduced the topic of torture to a mere parlor game — an exercise in sophistry — as the left and the right mentally wrestle with questions whose answers have been known for centuries: Is waterboarding torture? Does torture ‘work’?

[Click here to read the rest of this introduction on U.S. policy and torture. Or just skip the intro entirely, and keep reading onward, into the stories of several individuals (with particular focus on Aafia Siddiqui) who have been falsely arrested, illegally imprisoned, "disappeared," subjected to extraordinarily rendition and/or tortured over the past 8 years -- and counting.]

An American Story

Imagine this: You are a 41 year-old man, a U.S. citizen, born in Kansas, an Army veteran, married with three children, practicing family law in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon; you pay your taxes on time, have never had a brush with the law. You are the quintessential “average American citizen.” Imagine, then, your surprise when the FBI descends on your home and fingers you as the mastermind of the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people and injured over 2000. Your name is Brandon Mayfield, and it’s official: You have just been arrested as the mastermind in an international terrorist plot.

“But I haven’t left the country in over 10 years!” you protest. “And I’ve never even been to Spain! How could this happen?”

Turns out it was your fingerprint. The FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) identified your fingerprint as a possible match to the one found on a plastic bag near the Madrid bombing. The match was then verified in quadruplicate by FBI fingerprint experts, which lent full credibility to the claim in their affidavit: “….the FBI lab stands by their conclusion of a 100 percent positive identification.” It was the fingerprint, see.

‘Lucky’ for you, your incarceration lasted only 2 weeks. The Spanish police identified the real mastermind (some guy from Algeria), prompting the FBI to dismiss the charges against you. In return, you file a a civil-rights lawsuit against the U.S. government. Herein, more facts emerge. Turns out, the Spanish police had already rejected the FBI’s identification of your fingerprint — twenty-three days before your arrest — as “conclusively negative.” Perhaps that would have been the end of that, if not for the smoking gun: you were also a Muslim convert.

Convinced of your guilt, the FBI spent those twenty-three days doggedly pursuing a case against you, with an intensity that the Spanish Police found perplexing. As one commissioner said, “It seemed as though they [the FBI] had something against him, and they wanted to involve us.” Lacking probable cause for search and seizure, the FBI turned to the nifty new provisions in the Patriot Act, which allowed them to entirely sidestep your Fourth Amendment rights, via “sneak and peak” warrants.

Turns out, you and your wife hadn’t been imagining things. Your door lock had been tampered; someone had been in your home. You were being watched. It was the FBI who, in your absence, snuck into your home, your office, and even the family farm in Kansas,“surreptitiously, photographing papers, downloading hard drives, and planting listening devices.”

But you were ‘lucky.’ You had, at your disposal, due process — stuff like habeas corpus, and an attorney to represent you in a U.S. court of law. Your case was fairly clear-cut, too. That is, once the facts were allowed to see the light of day. In the end, the FBI aplogized and you were awarded a $2 million settlement. And in 2007, a federal judge ruled that those nifty Patriot Act provisions used by the FBI to sneak into your home actually violated the U.S. Constitution.

2891436BG002_Ottawa_CitizenNow imagine that you are a 34-year old man — married, a father, a Canadian citizen for 17 years, Syrian-born. And, oh, a muslim. Imagine yourself going on vacation with your family to Tunisia in 2002 and, upon your return flight home to Canada, passing through the JFK airport in New York City. Here, you are detained in solitary confinement and interrogated for 12 days, then shackled and flown to Syria, where you are imprisoned inside a coffin-sized underground cell for 10 months + 10 days, being subjected throughout this time to beatings and torture sessions to extract information which the U.S. government is certain you own.

While you initially refuse to admit to something you didn’t do, the torture finally becomes so unbearable, that you will say anything to make it stop — up to and including making false confessions, admitting guilt to whatever terrorist acts your torturers accuse you. Your name is Maher Arar and — even as you are ultimately determined to be 100% innocent — your case is not as clear cut as Brandon Mayfield’s. You are, after all, a Canadian citizen. And, oh, a muslim of Arab descent.

Still, the facts of your case do eventually see the light of day. The Canadian government launches a Commission of Inquiry into your case and, in 2006 (three years after your release from your extraordinary rendition to Syria), you are cleared of all accusations. The Canadian government issues an official apology, and you are awarded a settlement of $10.5 million Canadian dollars. For their part, however, the U.S. government and the FBI refuse to extend an apology, official or otherwise (even as there were a few notable lawmakers of integrity on Capitol Hill who did issue personal apologies on behalf of the U.S. government).

[see also: Patrick Leahy's interrogation of Gonzales on the Maher Arar case here, and the 1-1/2 hour video of the U.S. Congressional hearing on Maher Arar's case here].

Seeking to clear your name, you file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for violating your civil rights. But the Bush Administration refuses to allow your case to come to trial, for reasons of “national security.” To this day, you are still on the U.S. terrorist watch list and are forbidden to enter the country.

The likelihood of your case going to trial in the U.S. is slim, as the Obama Administration has, so far, aligned itself with the Bush Administration, — having recently used the “state secrets” argument to deny trials to 5 other Bush Administration victims who were similarly flown to other countries to be tortured. According to Obama, the Bush Administration was right: allowing these innocent victims a trial could threaten national security.

Ibrahim JassamNow imagine this: You are a 31-year old man, an accredited freelance cameraman and photographer, working for Reuters in Iraq. On September 1, 2008,  U.S. forces, accompanied by dogs, storm your home in the middle of the night — breaking down your door, barking orders and terrifying the grandparents, children and grandchildren inside. You are taken into custody and thrown into jail, without charges. Three months pass. Still, no formal charges, no evidence, no due process.

In a stroke of democracy, the Iraqi central criminal court orders your release, for lack of evidence. The U.S. bars your release, however, saying you are a threat to Iraq security and stability. The protests of your family, of Reuters and international human rights and media rights groups fall on deaf ears. More months pass. To this day, you are still in jail, without charges. Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you are but one of  dozens of  journalists imprisoned — without charges — under the Bush Administration.

You are, so far, luckier than some. According to Reporters Without Borders,  hundreds of journalists have been killed in Iraq, with many more forced into exile, imprisoned or simply disappeared. Too, some have been imprisoned for much longer than you. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Bilal Hussein, for instance, was imprisoned for two years. Al Jazeera journalist, Sami al-Haj was imprisoned for over 7 years, with 6-1/2 of these years spent at Guantanamo, where America sends “the worst of the worst.”

A young boy hopes for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

2007 photo: A young boy hoping for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

[Here it must be said that Sami al-Haj's story, alone, is evidence enough that our leaders and media should give pause to the Bush Administration's "intelligence" that has effectively colored the entire population of 240 Guantanamo detainees -- including those who have been long-pronounced innocent, but also those whose guilt was cemented under confessions extracted through torture -- as a mix of terrorists and men so dangerous that they cannot safely be released anywhere on the planet Earth, much less allowed fair trials that would, in all likelihood, clear the names of some of these prisoners, the only "threat to national security" being that their trials would reveal the extent of the U.S. government's tyranny.]

(video, above) Associated Press report (39 seconds long) on Bilal Hussein’s release in 2008, with footage of his reunion with his AP colleagues and his family

Both Bilal Hussein and Sami al-Haj were released  in 2008. Neither was ever charged with a crime, even as their incarcerations were justified by a series of shifting accusations, based on top secret evidence that, for national security reasons, could not be divulged: Bilal Hussein (see AP timeline of his case here) was accused, at one point, of being caught in possession of bomb-making materials, while Sami al-Haj was alternately accused of videotaping Osama bin Laden, sending money to suspicious Muslim charities, and arranging for the transport of a Stinger anti-aircraft system from Afghanistan to Chechnya. Despite these ludicrous accusations, in appears that these journalists were guilty of nothing more than practicing journalism.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you’ve been in jail for 9 months, without charges. Your misfortune is that you are being detained by the U.S. government. Had you been detained by, say, Iran you would have been afforded at least some semblance of due process — formal charges, an attorney, a trial, an appeals process. Had you been detained by, say, North Korea, your injustice would be given a voice in the U.S. media. Had you been arrested by anyone but the American government, you would be a poster child, of sorts, for media suppression under tyrannical regimes.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and your story is almost, but not quite, unknown in America. According to your family, which has been allowed only a handful of visits, you used to be handsome. “But now he’s pale and he’s tired,” says your brother, describing one of these visits: “Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: ‘Please do something to get me out of here. I don’t know what is the charge against me.‘ I told him we already tried everything.”

Now imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn -- specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, "Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story."] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.

Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.

Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials.  Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.

By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.

Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife).  Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.

To this story add water, then quickly spin

It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up.

(continued page 2 —–>)

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Emergency Aid to Palestine – Where & How to Help

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gaza

(Okay, three ways. Numbers one and two are below. The third way is to know what’s going on — what’s really going on between Israel and the Palestinians —  which is largely not reported in the media. I offer a few links at the bottom of this post. The perspectives from the ground can always be found by googling gaza + human rights. Also, this site, Human Right in Gaza and Israel During the Hostilities, offers emergency updates from Israeli human rights organizations on the impacts to civilians in this area.) 

  

First, Start with Your Voice. It’s as Good as Gold.

 

It goes without saying: Even the most noble relief efforts are powerless to help the people of Palestine, so long as the occupying power, Israel, forbids the entry of food, water, medical supplies, blankets and fuel into the area. And all efforts toward peace are powerless, so long as Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians remains unchanged. Today, give the Palestinians power, through your voice, in whatever ways you are able, starting with a letter to our incoming president, Barack Obama, at  change.gov.  

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said to a group of reformers: 

“I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”

Barrack Obama knows what’s right. Now, let’s make sure he does it.  Again, send your comments to incoming President, Barack Obama at  change.gov. and also send a few words to our incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, if you can figure out how to reach her.  Because, face it, Israel ain’t gonna change, so long as it has the unconditional love and support of our American leaders, American dollars and the American war machine. It’s time our foreign policy reflect the will of the American people.   

 

 *Spread the word, share this art! Use this image wherever you can — on posters,  t-shirts, banners, zines, papers, magazines. Make it visible everywhere. High-resolution downloads are available at Carolos Latuff’s DeviantArt webpage.

Next: Donate Money If You Can 

 

The following organizations, listed in no particular order, provide both emergency and long-term aid to the Palestinian citizens of Gaza.   

(Note: While I cannot vouch for the integrity of any given charity, I have listed only 4-Star Charity Navigator organizations in this list.You may want to do a little research to see which one is the best fit for you. Also, note that — according to Charity Navigator’s methodology — the highest possible good “overall rating” for any given organization falls between 60-65%. Click here for more info on Charity Navigator’s methodology.)

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donate now to help us provide humanitarian relief items for families besieged by the military action in Gaza.MercyCorps

(donate; sign petition; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT MERCY CORPS: Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.

Mercy Corps works amid disasters, conflicts, chronic poverty and instability to unleash the potential of people who can win against nearly impossible odds. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1.5 billion in assistance to people in 106 nations. Supported by headquarters offices in North America and Europe, the agency’s unified global programs employ 3,500 staff worldwide and reach nearly 16.4 million people in more than 35 countries.

Our strategy is to work in countries in transition, where communities are recovering from disaster, conflict or economic collapse. Our experience demonstrates that turmoil and tragedy often create opportunities for lasting, positive change. We add our greatest value on the ground by supporting those pockets of positive change with community-led and market-driven action.

Core Values:

  • We believe in the intrinsic value and dignity of human life.
  • We are awed by human resilience, and believe in the ability of all people to thrive, not just exist.
  • Our spiritual and humanitarian values compel us to act.
  • We believe that all people have the right to live in peaceful communities and participate fully in the decisions that affect their lives.
  • We believe that human imagination and energy can inspire innovative solutions to any problem, no matter how intractable.
  • We believe that it is our duty to be effective stewards of the financial resources entrusted to us.

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 British Red Cross

(donate; member of the FundRaising Standards Board (UK);read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT THE BRITISH RED CROSS: The British Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. The British Red Cross has launched an appeal in response to the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israel.

In Gaza, Palestine Red Crescent hospitals, medical teams and ambulances are responding to the needs of people around the clock. The International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) main operational priority is to support hospitals in Gaza by providing medical supplies, generators and a surgical team.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has donated £205,000 to deliver basic relief items to meet the needs of 800 people in the form of food and non-food relief, and emergency shelter. It is also supporting the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, which is helping get medical supplies into Gaza and evacuating critically wounded people to hospital.

In Israel, the Magen David Adom (National Society of Israel) is on high alert and is providing first aid and ambulance services.

The British Red Cross has contributed £75,000 from its Disaster Fund to the Palestine Red Crescent’s relief effort, offered assistance to Magen David Adom and has six delegates with the ICRC in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Read more.

 

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American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)

(donate; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT AMERICAN NEAR EAST REFUGEE AID: ANERA is a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the Middle East.

Incorporated in 1968 to help ease the suffering of Palestinian refugees after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, ANERA is non-political and non-religious and is one of the largest American non-profits working solely in the Middle East for 40 years. In fiscal year 2008, ANERA delivered more than $50 million worth of donated medicine and medical supplies into Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.

With offices in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan, ANERA employs more than 60 full-time staff who are locally hired and work with local partners. ANERA helps local institutions become more self-sufficient and effective in serving their communities. Every project is planned in consultation with the communities that ultimately benefit – an approach that ensures relevancy and commitment, and secures the long-term viability of the projects.

ANERA is a registered 501(c)3 non-governmental organization and a founding member of InterAction, a coalition of over 160 US-based non-profits working to promote worldwide development. We received our sixth consecutive rating of 4 stars from Charity Navigator, an overseer of fiscal responsibility. This distinctive rank is earned by only 3% of rated nonprofits.

ANERA’s work is made possible through the support of thousands of private donors around the world and grants from numerous public and private institutions.

SEE ALSO: A letter from ANERA President, Bill Corcoran on the Gaza crisis.

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Islamic Relief

 

 

 

Islamic Relief USA

(donate; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT ISLAMIC RELIEF USA: Islamic Relief strives to alleviate the suffering, hunger, illiteracy and diseases worldwide without regard to color, race or creed and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner. It aims to provide rapid relief in the event of man-made or natural disasters. In addition, it establishes development projects in needy areas to help tackle poverty, illiteracy and disease at a local level.

Islamic Relief operates a wide variety of projects throughout the world, including education and training, water and sanitation, income generation, orphan support, health and nutrition, and emergency relief.

Some of Islamic Relief’s other domestic projects have included the response effort to Hurricane Katrina, which provided over $3 million in aid, supporting over 60,000 people. Other efforts have included the support of the UMMA Community Clinic, toy drives for disadvantaged children, community support programs, and much more.

SEE ALSO: A January 7, 2009 article on this group’s current work in Gaza, titled “An Aids Worker’s Diary,” published here at BBC News

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Save the Children

(donate; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT SAVE THE CHILDREN: Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. It is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, comprising 28 national Save the Children organizations working in more than 110 countries to ensure the well-being of children.

In addition to this work, Save the Children responds to emergencies around the world that put at risk the survival, protection, and well-being of significant numbers of children. We are on the ground delivering assistance very quickly, often with local staff in advance of a disaster, and we stay on the scene long afterwards.

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World Vision

(donate; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT WORLD VISION: (Updated January 2, 2009) World Vision targets 50,000 people with emergency assistance in Gaza. As soon as the situation in Gaza permits, World Vision plans to provide food parcels, blankets, and other basic supplies to the most vulnerable families – particularly those who have fled their homes, seeking sanctuary from the shelling.

“Our priority now is to assist those who are living in intolerable conditions with limited access to food, water, or medical facilities,” said Charles Clayton, World Vision’s national director for Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza. “Eighty percent of the people in Gaza are already dependent on food aid, and even those who had relied on a meager daily income now find that it is no longer available,” added Clayton.

At a later stage, World Vision will develop cash or food for work activities, to help families provide for basics like medication, food, water, and household supplies.

Report highlights humanitarian emergency:

Additionally, World Vision issued a report highlighting disturbing findings of a baseline survey conducted in the Beit Lahya community in North Gaza on Dec. 18. Significant findings include:

More than 33 percent of families in Beit Lahya have 10 or more family members and live in extreme poverty. They rely on coupons for food and cannot afford to adequately clothe and educate their children.
Among children, bedwetting and nightmares featured heavily in focus group findings – both linked with fear and anxiety as a result of the ongoing conflict. “Most children with nightmares experience lack of concentration and attention deficit disorders,” shared a teacher in a focus group session.
While nearly every household in Beit Lahya has access to water, the quality is so poor that 95 percent of households have to buy their drinking water. Many children are affected by parasites and diarrhea, which is adequately treated in only 24 percent of cases.

Violence taking its toll:

World Vision staff in Gaza noted that after six days of bombing, the number of children showing signs of trauma is rapidly increasing. With shelling going on hourly and randomly, World Vision’s activities in the Gaza Strip have come to a halt. Staff are checking daily on the well-being and safety of 1,500 children and their families who are part of the organization’s regular aid activities and support.

World Vision continues to advocate for a complete cessation of violence, and for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention.

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United Palestinian Appeal, Inc.

(donate: view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT UNITED PALESTINIAN APPEAL, INC: Established in 1978, United Palestinian Appeal, Inc. (UPA) is dedicated to providing aid to Palestinians in need, especially children, in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. UPA provides both emergency humanitarian relief and long-term development programs to Palestinian communities striving for economic and social development in the wake of ongoing conflict.  We strive to deliver efficient charitable services at low overhead costs in the areas of education, health care, child sponsorship, and agricultural and community development.

UPA maintains its independence and integrity as a strictly humanitarian organization by not accepting funds from political groups or from any source that may attach unacceptable conditions to its contributions. UPA is a member of the Independent Charities of America (ICA) and a participating agency of the Combined Federal Campaign (listed as CFC #11346).

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International Medical Corps

(donate; view report card; read about their work in Gaza)

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS (IMC): International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs.

Mission: From Relief to Self-Reliance

Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide. 

International Medical Corps (IMC) has activated its regional response team and has secured emergency health kits for shipment into Gaza in response to the growing humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the conflict between Hamas and Israeli forces.

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An additional charity working in Palestine:

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (While this organization has a 3-star rating at Charity Navigator, I include them because they appear to do such good works and may be deserving of a closer look).  

Here is there mission statement:
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) is a non-political organization established in 1991 by concerned people in the U.S. to address the medical and humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian youths in the Middle East. The main objective of the PCRF is to identify and treat every child in the Middle East in need of specialized surgery not available to them locally. We locate, sponsor and run volunteer medical missions to the Middle East in adult and pediatric cardiac surgery, pediatric cardiology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, maxillofacial surgery, pediatric urology, ophthalmology, vascular surgery, pediatric orthopedic surgery, occupational therapy, and other specialties. Since our founding, over 800 children have been, or currently are being treated, outside of the Middle East through the PCRF.

PERTINENT NEWS SITES & BLOGS WITH INFO SPECIFIC TO THIS CONFLICT:

Anti-War.com

CounterPunch

DesertPeace

Dissident Voice

Global Voices

Gush Shalom

HAARETZ

The Jerusalem Fund

Articles by and about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter:

An Unnecessary War  –Washington Post 1/9/2009

Carter urges ‘supine’ Europe to break with US over Gaza blockade – Guardian.uk 5/26/2008

A Human Rights Crime:  The world must stop standing idle while the people of Gaza are treated with such cruelty  — Guardian.uk 5/8/2008

Carter: Gaza Residents ‘Starving to Death’ — ynet news 4/18/2008

Ma’an News Agency

Norman Finkelstein

The Palestine Chronicle

Reporters Without Borders

Spidered News

ZNet (this links to a specific article with a history on U.S. & Hamas)

 

 

Fiddling While Gaza Burns: Three Perspectives

with one comment

In response to the start of Israel’s ground campaign into Gaza this past  Saturday (January 3rd) Hamas spokesman, Ismail Radwan, warned Israel that they would pay a “high price” for the invasion, saying:

“Your incursion into Gaza will not be a walk in the park, and Gaza will become your cemetery.”

Reading this, I recalled the fierceness of fiddler crabs. Growing up in the U.S. South, one of my world classrooms was the coastal marshlands. The ground in these tidal mudflats virtually teems with fiddler crab populations as far as the eye can see. These crabs are fairly tiny — their shells about the size of a toe nail. Step into one of these mudflats, and you will see jillions of toenail-sized crabs scurrying sideways to the safety of their holes. Jillions, that is, except for a few fiddlers who are either the fiercest or most foolish souls on earth, as they stand their ground, menacingly waving the ‘big’ claw to warn away the intruder: a pair of human feet, each of a size that could effortlessly crush a dozen fiddler crabs in one step.

 

Still, the claw waves. Roughly translated, the fiddler crab says, “Your incursion into my mudflat will not be a walk in the park, and this mudflat will be your cemetery.” A sadistic, heartless person might choose to step on the fiddler crab, simply because he could. A sadistic, heartless person of questionable sanity could respond by uprooting the entire fiddler crab colony and crushing it into oblivion. Which brings me to the topic of Israel’s recent incursion into Gaza.

The citizens of Palestinians are as fierce as any population when attacked, but are as powerless against Israel’s war machine as the fiddler crab is to a human bootheel. Lacking a military or any modern-day weaponry & war equipment (much less the depleted uranium and the illegal cluster bombs and phosphorus shells Israel is using against the Palestinians) the citizens of Gaza are using the only things available to defend themselves: rocks and stones. 

A Palestinian youth throws stones during clashes with Egyptian police along the border fence at the border crossing in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. Gunfire erupted at the Gaza-Egypt border on Monday, following stone-throwing clashes between Egyptian border guards and Palestinians, witnesses said. The tensions began when the Egyptian guards sealed the border Monday, not even allowing Egyptians and Gazans who had found themselves on the wrong side of the border to return home. From AP Photo by MAJED HAMDAN.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to appreciate the sheer brutality of this imbalance: one of the worlds most powerful war machines embarks on a campaign to slaughter innocent civilians armed with only rocks and stones. (note: see more photos of the stone-throwers, below, at the end of this post)

But what about Hamas — the stated target of Israel’s bombing? Compared to the stone-throwers, Hamas wields a slightly bigger claw with its arsenal of homemade rockets, capable of traveling 2 to 10 miles — each a hit or miss proposition, as they have little to offer in the way of accuracy. Israel predicts, however, that Hamas will one day have missiles capable of traveling greater distances and with greater accuracy, which is part of Israel’s justification for this war.   

Having said this, I’m not going to sit here and argue on behalf of Hamas, nor weigh the relative crudeness of their weaponry vs. Israel’s, drawing overly simplistic conclusions about whether this war is ‘justifiable.’ I’ll leave this to someone who is empowered and authorized to make such assessments —  Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories, who said of this war:

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response.

In his statement, Falk cited the following three violations of the Geneva Convention:  

• Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

• Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

• Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

It is no secret that Israel’s military is — by comparison to any defense system in the world — a state-of-the-art war machine, funded by billions of U.S. dollars. Should Israel choose, they could track the coordinates of the hair on a gnats ass and hit it from hundreds of miles away, and with astounding accuracy.  Which makes all the more sadistic, heartless and insane, Israel’s decision yesterday to bomb Gaza’s schools, crushing them into oblivion, even as they were filled to capacity with innocent civilians. 

This was no accident. 

A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza January 6, 2009. Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip killed more than 30 Palestinian civilians on Tuesday, medical officials said, and international efforts to secure a ceasefire focused on an Israeli demand to prevent Hamas from rearming. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl killed in an Israeli air strike on the UN school in Gaza on January 6, 2009.

 

Palestinian relatives from the Deeb family mourn on January 7, 2009 near the bodies of 10 people from their family who were killed yesterday in an Israeli strike on a UN school in Gaza, during their funeral in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza strip. Israeli forces blazed into towns across Gaza yesterday striking Hamas targets and also hitting three UN-run schools in attacks that killed at least 48 people and sparked urgent new ceasefire calls. Since Israel started it military offensive in Gaza 660 Palestinians have been killed, including about 200 children, with more than 2,950 wounded, Gaza medics say. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinian relatives from the Deeb family mourn on January 7, 2009 near the bodies of a total of 10 people from their family who were killed yesterday in an Israeli strike on a UN school in Gaza.

 

A Palestinian man Mouen Deb mourns next to the bodies of two of four children and his wife  who were killed with 42 people yesterday in an Israeli attack on a UN-run school building, on January 7, 2009, during their funeral in Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza, An Israeli attack killed at least 42 people who had sought shelter in the UN-run building after they fled their homes at the Jabalia refugee camp. The United Nations has denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside the school compuond. From Getty Images.

A Palestinian man, Mouen Deeb, mourns next to the bodies of two of four children and his wife who were killed with 42 people yesterday in an Israeli attack on a UN-run school building, on January 7, 2009, during their funeral in Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza, An Israeli attack killed at least 42 people who had sought shelter in the UN-run building after they fled their homes at the Jabalia refugee camp. The United Nations has denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside the school compound.

Palestinians hold the body of a girl who was found in the rubble of her destroyed house following an Israeli air strike on a three-storey house belonging to a Hamas member in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitun on January 6, 2009. About 30 people were inside the house when it was destroyed by the air raid, neighbors said. Israeli tanks firing cannons and machine guns and supported by helicopter gunships also moved into the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn, witnesses said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

A Palestinian man reacts as he carries a girl who according to Palestinian medical sources was killed in an Israeli strike, into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. From AP Photo by KHALIL HAMRA.

A wounded Palestinian girl is carried to Shifa hospital after an Israeli air strike in Gaza January 6, 2009. Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip killed more than 30 Palestinian civilians on Tuesday, medical officials said, and international efforts to secure a ceasefire focused on an Israeli demand to prevent Hamas from rearming. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Palestinian medics carry the body of a girl who according to Palestinian medical sources was killed in Israeli forces' operations in Gaza, at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. An Israeli bombardment hit outside a U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge on Tuesday, and Palestinian medics said at least 34 people died as international outrage grew over civilian deaths. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

A Palestinian man carries a wounded boy into Gaza City�s al-Shifa hospital on January 6, 2009. The international Red Cross today warned that increasing numbers of civilians in the Gaza Strip are being killed during Israel's military offensive, locking the territory in a "full blown" humanitarian crisis. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

BELOW: Palestinian medics examine the body of a boy (the same child from the photo, above) who was killed by the Israeli forces’ bombing of the U.N. school on Jan. 6, 2009 where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge on Tuesday.

 

Palestinian medics examine the body of a boy who according to Palestinian medical sources was killed in Israeli forces' operations in Gaza, at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. An Israeli bombardment hit outside a U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge on Tuesday, and Palestinian medics said at least 34 people died as international outrage grew over civilian deaths. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

 

A Palestinian boy walks on the rubble of a building used by Hamas security forces, destroyed by Israeli forces' operations in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan. 6. 2009. An Israeli bombardment struck outside a U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge on Tuesday, the U.N. and Palestinian medics said, killing at least 30 people, many of them children whose parents wailed in grief at a hospital filled with dead and wounded. From AP Photo by KHALIL HAMRA.

A Palestinian boy walks on the rubble of the Israeli-bombed U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians — most of them women and children — had fled to safety. 

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After all, Israel knew the GPS coordinates to these schools (the United Nations had already provided them with this, just to be safe). And Israel knew these schools were being used as United Nations shelters, because the UN told them, plus the school roofs were well-marked (again, just to be safe) with bright blue United Nations flags. Isreal also knew, with cunning accuracy, that those schools were filled with with babies, children, mothers, fathers. Israel knew, too, that these families had already fled their bombed homes, fled the bombed streets, the bombed mosques, the bombed universities, the bombed hospitals. These families were trapped out in the open — like arcade targets — with absolutely no means to protect their children from the bombs. In desperation, they fled by the hundreds to protection of the schools, believing that the UN flags promised some assurance of protection, even as they prayed to God that the their children would be safe in these schools. Israel knew this.

Israel knew this and, yet, they dropped bombs onto the schools — raining death and suffering onto hundreds of mothers, fathers, children and babies. 

Israel’s defense? Their PR spokespeople refer to the bombs as hitting “near” the school yesterday, as if the school were somehow incidental to their bombing targets. And, in an even greater lie, Israel insists that Hamas was shooting mortars from the school and using the children as “human shields.” The United Nations has flatly denied these Israeli army allegations that militants were inside the school compound.

But of more importance to this lie about “human shields”  (and here’s where Israel’s propaganda takes an insidious turn, as it’s designed to make the  parents of these children appear less than human to the rest of the world) is the fact that the ‘civilians’ inside this school were parents, desperately trying to protect their children, not offer them up as fodder to a terrorist cause.

But even if those atrocious lie were true, as even the rawest of rookie hostage negotiators could tell you, you don’t risk murdering hundreds of children to smoke out a few hostage-takers. Even as this truth is self-evident to any rational person, the international community has nonetheless established a system of international laws, called the Geneva Convention, to govern countries in times of war. In bombing the school yesterday, Israel committed a most atrocious act of savagery.

Not that the world is inclined to bat an eye, anymore, over such things as war crimes. It’s now been 11 days since United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk, made his statement on Israel’s war crimes.  Since then, Israel has responded by calling Falk and other like-minded UN officials “Israel bashers,” and has forbid international journalists from covering the war inside Gaza. One can only presume that Israel does not want the world to know the truth about this war — a truth that has been there for the plucking for months and years, but only to those willing to suspend disbelief long enough to disregard the propaganda and learn the facts about the relationship between Israeli-Palestinian.  There’s no need to go back to the 1st century BCE, when this whole mess started, or even to 1948, when Israel was formed. You need go no further than two years, or six months, or even two months of truth to understand how the Palestinian’s responses to Israel’s surreptitious bombing campaigns and their ongoing blockade of food and medical supplies to Gaza (both of which were in violation of the terms of the ceasefire) gave Israel the justification they sought to wage this war. Falk touched on the blockade in his statement:   

“Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on December 26.”

That last sentence is as important as the rest, because it hints at the underlying truth of this whole damned war, and of every war between Israel and Palestine since 1948. The truth is this: Israel does not want peace. Israel does not want truces. Israel does not want ceasefires. Israels wants the Palestinian’s land, and Israel will do whatever it takes to get it — up to and including uprooting and crushing the entire population into oblivion.

Which brings me full-circle back to my original observation on the fiddler crabs in the mudflats of South Carolina, which I liken to the helpless stone-throwers of Palestine, as well as the the reckless bands of Hamas radicals bandying ludicruous threats (Your incursion into Gaza will not be a walk in the park, and Gaza will become your cemetery) as they are crushed under Israel’s boot-heel. This is one perspective on the war: that of a 1″ fiddler crab, menacingly waving its tiny claw at a 6-foot giant. 

Here is another perspective: 

Several days before Christmas (back when this war was still just a twinkling in Israel’s eye) I read a story about a former Palestinian stone-thrower from the West Bank.  The first few paragraphs to his story are inspiration enough:

If no one had handed Ramzi Aburedwan a violin when he was a stone-throwing teenager in a refugee camp, he might’ve ended up languishing in an Israeli prison cell. He might’ve become little more than an obscure fatality lost amid the thousands of young Palestinians killed in the seemingly intractable conflict.

However, music teachers from Ramallah to Boston saw something else in Aburedwan’s arm: a natural, if unrefined, ability to play classical music.

With some doing, these mentors convinced the skinny Muslim teenager to put down his stones and pick up a violin.

That’s how a 9-year-old Palestinian refugee with an ear for music grew up to found a classical music school that’s become a cornerstone for a West Bank cultural revival.

stone-thrower

The article’s last paragraph is a quote from the violinist, himself, Ramzi Aburedwan (pictured in the two photos, above and — in a snapshot from the stone-throwing days of his childhood, below). Speaking from the perspective of a once curly-haired 9-year-old refugee, he told about the day his outrage was born and he became a stone-thrower. He had just witnessed one of his schoolmates, shot in the head by Israeli snipers as she was walking home from the bakery. Today, Aburedwan speaks of the potential to transform Palestinian children of war, through music:

“Palestinians put culture aside for a long time because they thought this problem would be solved soon. People who came in 1948 said it was going to be solved in one or two months, one or two years. Now it’s 60 years and the people say, ‘No more time for waiting. Waiting is just losing time.’ “

ramzi It seems that what burns in the hearts of most Palestinians — stone throwers, claw wavers and fiddlers alike — is the same stuff that burns in the heart of most every living being under the cosmos: life, itself. Perhaps, one day, Israel will find itself in concert with this life. Until then, Israel will apparently do what Israel apparently does best — continue to commit the brutal, senseless crushing of life. 

On a brighter note, there is a light at end of this particular tunnel, and you can bank on this: Israel will *miraculously* agree to a ceasefire no later than January 19, 2009, which is precisely one day before Barack Obama’s inauguration.

In the wake of this ceasefire, Israel’s immediate legacy will be a continuation of the legacy they’ve spent the past 40 years building: a legacy of untold human suffering, with many of their victims and their witnesses retaliating with more violence, which will only serve as more fodder to the Israeli propaganda machine.  

Israel’s long-term legacy is more promising, as their aggression will serve as a standard  by which mankind can forever measure its brutest levels of inhumanity — much like Mussolini, Hitler, and (as we can hope Tevye would attest) Nicholas II of Russia. Hopefully — and hopefully very soon — Israel’s lies and propaganda about their deeds will be fully revealed and will inspire the powers-that-be to once again proclaim before all the world, “Never again!” 

Because, fact is, this war is but a ripple in Israel’s 60-year Zionist campaign to crush the Palestinians and take their lands. This is holocaust. In the words of Israel’s esteemed 20th Zionist-movement leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky:

“Culturally [the Palestinians] are 500 years behind us;  spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will . . . They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie. [Thus] we conclude that we cannot promise anything to the Arabs of the Land of Israel or the Arab countries. Their voluntary agreement is out of the question.”

Which brings me to the third perspective on this war: Israel does not want peace. The Palestinians do. The Palestinians want peace, even as their people have been persecuted, ethnically cleansed, starved and killed by the Israelis. The Palestinians want peace, even as the Israelis have discredited their plight with propaganda, and slandered their humanity slandered with lies. The Palestinians want peace, even as their own voices are being crushed, one by one, to silence.  

Fiddle, anyone? 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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See also:

YouTube Video in which Palestinian violinist, Ramzi Aburedwan, can be seen/heard playing. Of interest to this video is a news item from the December 17, 2007  Palestine Monitor, which reads:   The international orchestra, which refused to perform in the Gaza Strip yesterday after its sole Palestinian member, violinist Ramzi Aburedwan, was barred from entering the Strip by the Israeli authorities, performed a concert in solidarity with the people of Gaza from Ramallah [the West Bank] today. The orchestra had been due to perform at the Latin Church in Gaza City yesterday as part of a Baroque Music Festival which is taking place throughout Palestine and Israel.

The stone-throwers of 2008-2009:

A Palestinian hurls a stone as others take cover during clashes with Israeli troops at a demonstration against Israel's military operation in Gaza, in the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. The expansion of Israel's offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers into ground battles and artillery salvos is taking a heavier toll on the civilians of the crowded sliver of land, including three toddlers killed Monday by the blast of a crashing shell. From AP Photo by NASSER SHIYOUKHI. 

Palestinians carry the body of Ahmed Moussa during his funeral in the West Bank village of Nilin near Ramallah July 30, 2008. Israeli soldiers shot dead the Palestinian boy during clashes with stone-throwing protesters on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, hospital officials and witnesses said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the military had begun an investigation with the cooperation of Palestinian authorities to determine how the boy was killed. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Palestinians carry the body of Ahmed Moussa during his funeral in the West Bank village of Nilin near Ramallah July 30, 2008. Israeli soldiers shot dead the Palestinian boy during clashes with stone-throwing protesters on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, hospital officials and witnesses said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the military had begun an investigation with the cooperation of Palestinian authorities to determine how the boy was killed.

An Israeli border police officer takes up position during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian youths in Shuafat refugee camp on the edge of Jerusalem March 3, 2008. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS. 
An Israeli border police officer takes up position during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian youths in Shuafat refugee camp on the edge of Jerusalem (Gaza territory) on March 3, 2008. [editor's note: What part of "Stay the hell out of Gaza and quit tormenting and shooting at its people -- then no one with throw stones at you!" do the Israeli's not understand?]

Injured Palestinian and foreign activists lie sprawled on the ground after Israeli troops responded to stone-throwing with tear gas and rubber bullets during a violent protest against Israel's security fence February 22, 2008 where it cuts off Palestinian farmers from their land at the West Bank village of Bil'in. Hundreds of villagers backed up by foreign and left-wing Israeli supporters marked three years of demonstrations against Israel's controversial barrier. From Getty Images.

Injured Palestinian and foreign activists stone-throwers lie sprawled on the ground after Israeli troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets during a protest against Israel’s security fence February 22, 2008, which cuts off Palestinian farmers from their land at the West Bank village of Bil’in. Hundreds of villagers backed up by foreign and left-wing Israeli supporters marked three years of demonstrations against Israel’s controversial barrier.

Palestinian men throw stones at Israeli military armoured vehicles during a military operation aimed at arresting a member of the radical Islamic Jihad group in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 28 January 2008. Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during clashes in the biblical town, Palestinian medics said. Qussai al-Afandi, 17, was mortally wounded and another Palestinian was injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire on stone-throwing youths in Bethlehem today, witnesses said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinian men throw stones at Israeli military armoured vehicles in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 28 January 2008. Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during clashes in the biblical town, Palestinian medics said. Qussai al-Afandi, 17, was mortally wounded and another Palestinian was injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire on stone-throwing youths in Bethlehem.

An Israeli soldier fires teargas towards stone-throwing youths during an incursion into the Ein Beit Elma refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on February 23, 2008. Israeli troops arrested a senior militant from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in a predawn raid on the camp, according to a Palestinian security official said. His 20-year-old sister was wounded by shrapnel when troops blew apart the door to the family's house, the official and medical sources said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

An Israeli soldier jumps from an armored vehicle to fire teargas towards stone-throwing youths during an incursion into the Ein Beit Elma refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on February 23, 2008. [Again, what part of "Stay the hell out of Gaza and quit tormenting and shooting at its people -- and then no one with throw stones at you!" do the Israeli's not understand?]

A Palestinian youth runs for cover after throwing a stone on an Israeli army vehicle during a military operation in the village of Jabaa, near Jenin, in the occupied West Bank on May 10, 2008. Eight Palestinians were wounded in confrontations during the incursion, according to a Palestinian medical source. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

A Palestinian youth runs for cover after throwing a stone on an Israeli army vehicle during a military operation in the village of Jabaa, near Jenin, in the occupied West Bank on May 10, 2008. Eight Palestinians were wounded in confrontations during the incursion, according to a Palestinian medical source.

The grandfather (R) and friends of Palestinian teenager Qussai al-Afandi from the Dehaisheh refugee camp, mourn during his funeral, 29 January 2008 in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers shot and killed the Palestinian teenager during clashes in the biblical town as troops stormed a house to arrest a member of the radical Islamic Jihad group after Israeli soldiers opened fire on stone-throwing youths in the town, witnesses said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

The grandfather (R) and friends of Palestinian teenager Qussai al-Afandi from the Dehaisheh refugee camp, mourn during his funeral, 29 January 2008 in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers shot and killed the Palestinian teenager after opening fire on stone-throwing youth, who were protesting Israel’s military incursion into the town.

The Children of Palestine: A Photo Essay on Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza

with 28 comments

UPDATE JUNE 5, 2010. This page gets linked to by a lot of lunatic sites. Pearls before swine. I considered removing this post, just to avoid fueling the fires of the racist, anti-semitic, xenophobic, tea-bagging, hood-wearing, “take back my country” mob who visit here and somehow feel vindicated in their hatred and violent rhetoric after viewing these photos. Earth to anti-semites: I’m not on board with you. I don’t hate Jews. I don’t hate anyone, and neither should you. Problem is, you do hate. You wish ill-will and death on total strangers based on… what? Their ethnicity? Their skin? The country they were born to? Their religion? Your religion? Don’t even try to make like you’re serving some greater cause. It was a cause like yours that murdered the innocent children you see on this page.

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I could write until I’m even bluer in the face, but the fact is, I’ve been profoundly ill over the past month and don’t have the mental or physical energy I’d like to devote to writing on Israel’s deplorable, reprehensible, illegal slaughtering of the citizens of Gaza. Here, I’m going to work from the axiom that a picture is worth 1,000 words, prefacing the horrors, below, with some comment on one of Israel’s more reprehensible lies: “human shields”

Israel would like the world to believe that the pictures of these children serve as further indictment and evidence of Hamas terrorism. What a clever propaganda ploy: blame the deaths of women and children on the enemy. Tell the world that Hamas is using these people as “human shields” so that, when the photos of mangled babies, children and women arrive over the news wires, it can all be blamed on Hamas, not on Israel’s bombs, which are blasting Gaza’s hospitals, mosques, universities and homes into oblivion.

GRAPHIC CONTENT) The body of one of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell, lies in the mortuary of  Al-Shifa hospital, on January 5, 2009 in Gaza City. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

January 5: The body of one of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell, lies in the mortuary of Al-Shifa hospital, on January 5, 2009 in Gaza City. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city.

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Of course, it goes without saying that it would be difficult to engage in a wanton, fullscale bombing campaign on one of the most densely populated regions on earth — with 1.5 million people packed into 146 square miles — without killing babies and children, who comprise nearly half of the entire population. It also goes without saying that those who persist in blindly supporting Israel’s hideous war crimes would need some justfication for condoning the killing and maiming of the innocent women, children, babies and, yes, men that compose the “collateral damage” of Israel’s bombs and the “human shields” of their propaganda campaign.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSAnd speaking of propaganda, check out the photo, left,  of NY Mayor Bloomberg, visiting an Israeli child in the hospital — the photo-op intended to leave us with the impression that this child is somehow a victim of the war, which is a lie. This is simply an Israeli child in the hospital (perhaps getting his tonsils removed?) , as contrasted with the photos, below, which are real-life photos of children maimed and killed by Israel — just over the past 2 days, alone!

I encourage you to look at these photos with both eyes open, and then write your legislators, write to your editors and, most importantly, write to Obama, via change.gov. He needs to hear our outrage over the ongoing U.S. support of Israel’s reprehensible behavior, both in general and, specifically, their genocide campaign against the people of Palestine.

A wounded Palestinian boy is treated at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli missile strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, consolidating their grip in the territory's northern half without quelching the rocket fire that provoked Israel's bruising, 10-day-old offensive. Gaza health officials reported 524 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded since Israel embarked upon its military campaign against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers on Dec. 27. From AP Photo by HATEM MOUSSA.

January 5: A wounded Palestinian boy is treated at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli missile strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

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A dead Palestinian infant is brought to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli tank shell hit a house early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, consolidating their grip in the territory's northern half without quelching the rocket fire that provoked Israel's bruising, 10-day-old offensive. Gaza health officials reported 524 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded since Israel embarked upon its military campaign against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers on Dec. 27. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

January 5: A dead Palestinian infant is brought to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli tank shell hit a house early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

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Wounded Palestinian children arrive for treatment at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, consolidating their grip in the territory's northern half without quelching the rocket fire that provoked Israel's bruising, 10-day-old offensive. Gaza health officials reported 524 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded since Israel embarked upon its military campaign against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers on Dec. 27. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

January 5: Wounded Palestinian children arrive for treatment at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after an Israeli strike early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

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A relative reacts in front of the bodies of three children killed by an Israeli tank shell, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, consolidating their grip in the territory's northern half without stopping  the rocket fire that provoked Israel's bruising, 10-day-old offensive. Gaza health officials reported 524 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded since Israel embarked upon its military campaign against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers on Dec. 27. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

A relative reacts in front of the bodies of three children killed by an Israeli tank shell, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, early Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

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An ambulance worker carries the body of a boy from the Al-Samoni family as he arrives at the Al-Shifa hospital on January 5, 2009 in Gaza city, Gaza Strip. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

An ambulance worker carries the body of a boy from the Al-Samoni family as he arrives at the Al-Shifa hospital on January 5, 2009 in Gaza city, Gaza Strip.

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Palestinians carry a boy into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against the Hamas group gained momentum. From AP Photo by ASHRAF AMRA.

January 4: Palestinians carry a boy into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009.

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Palestinian medics carry the body of a boy, killed by an Israeli shell, at the hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli troops and tanks split the Gaza Strip and ringed its main city on Sunday in an offensive against Hamas militants but civilians trapped in the Palestinian enclave suffered more bloodshed. At least 34 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as Israeli shells slammed into houses and Gaza's main shopping district, medical sources said. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

January 4: Palestinian medics carry the body of a boy, killed by an Israeli shell, at the hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009.

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A Palestinian medics wheel a boy, injured during the Israeli operation in Gaza, into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, cutting the coastal territory into two and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas militants gained momentum. From AP Photo by MAJED HAMDAN.

January 4: A Palestinian medics wheel a boy, injured during the Israeli operation in Gaza, into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

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A wounded Palestinian boy is carried into a hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled in Gaza on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the most serious fighting in the conflict in decades. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

A wounded Palestinian boy is carried into a hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009.

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January 4: A wounded Palestinian boy is helped as he arrives at a hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza.

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A Palestinian medic carries a wounded boy into a hospital in Gaza City on January 4, 2009 as Israeli troops continue its ground assault in Gaza. The half dozen hospitals in Gaza cannot cope with more patients and casualties are overflowing out of regular wards into corridors as Israeli troops push deep into Gaza. At least 40 people have been killed since Israel launched the night-time offensive yesterday after eight days of air strikes in which at least 485 Palestinians died and more than 2,400 were wounded, Gaza medics said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

A Palestinian medic carries a wounded boy into a hospital in Gaza City on January 4, 2009.

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A wounded Palestinian boy is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Israeli shells killed at least 12 Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area, medics and witnesses said. Israel has so far carried out over 700 air strikes in Gaza within the last week and over 400 Palestinians are reported to have been killed. From Getty Images.

A wounded Palestinian boy is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

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Palestinian doctors attend to a wounded boy in Beit Lahia hospital in the northern Gaza Strip on Januray 3, 2008. Israeli artillery on Saturday bombarded the Gaza Strip in a dramatic escalation of the campaign against Hamas after a week of air attacks which have left more than 450 Palestinians dead. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

January 4: Palestinian doctors attend to a wounded boy in Beit Lahia hospital in the northern Gaza Strip .

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A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl, killed by an Israeli shell, at the hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli troops and tanks split the Gaza Strip and ringed its main city on Sunday in an offensive against Hamas militants but civilians trapped in the Palestinian enclave suffered more bloodshed. At least 34 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as Israeli shells slammed into houses and Gaza's main shopping district, medical sources said. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

January 4: A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl, killed by an Israeli shell, at the hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009.

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A Palestinian girl cries during the funeral of a relative that was killed in an Israeli air strike  in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, cutting the coastal territory into two and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum. From AP Photo by FADI ADWAN.

January 4: A Palestinian girl cries during the funeral of a relative that was killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

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A wounded Palestinian girl is tended to as she arrives at the Al-Shifa hospital on January 5, 2009 in Gaza city, Gaza Strip. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

January 5: A wounded Palestinian girl is tended to as she arrives at the Al-Shifa hospital on January 5, 2009 in Gaza city,.

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Palestinians try to get an ambulance to transport a badly wounded girl (top) and a man following Israeli artillery shelling in Gaza City on January 4, 2009. Israeli troops pushed deep into Gaza today with thousands of soldiers and scores of tanks battling Hamas fighters and moving toward the capital on a mission to end militant rocket attacks. At least 19 Palestinians were killed in the new fighting as trucks and cars packed with families fled Gaza City and other towns ahead of the biggest Israeli military operation since its 2006 war in Lebanon. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinians try to get an ambulance to transport a badly wounded girl (top) and a man following Israeli artillery shelling in Gaza City on January 4, 2009.

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A Palestinian girl cries during the funeral of her brother who was killed after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip January 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled on Gaza City's outskirts on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the worst fighting in the conflict in decades. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

A Palestinian girl cries during the funeral of her brother who was killed after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip January 4, 2009.

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GRAPHIC CONTENT)  A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into a hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza . Israeli shells killed at least 12 Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area. From Getty Images.

January 4: A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into a hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza .

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GRAPHIC CONTENT)  A body of Palestinian girl is carried into a hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza . Israeli shells killed at least 12 Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area. From Getty Images.

January 4: A body of Palestinian girl is carried into a hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza .

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A Palestinian woman sits on the floor beside her baby wounded by an Israeli tank shell, at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009. An Israeli tank shell killed three Palestinian children in their home in eastern Gaza City on Monday, medical officials said. They said several other Palestinians were wounded in the incident in Gaza's Zeitoun neighbourhood. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

A Palestinian woman sits on the floor of the Shifa hospital in Gaza beside her baby, who was wounded by an Israeli tank shell on January 5, 2009.

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A Palestinian baby wounded by an Israeli tank shell is treated by doctors at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009. An Israeli tank shell killed three Palestinian children in their home in eastern Gaza City on Monday, medical officials said. They said several other Palestinians were wounded in the incident in Gaza's Zeitoun neighbourhood. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

A Palestinian baby wounded by an Israeli tank shell is treated by doctors at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009.

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GRAPHIC CONTENT) The bodies of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell early on January 5, 2009 lie in the mortuary of  Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

January 5: The bodies of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell early on January 5, 2009, lie in the mortuary of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City.

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GRAPHIC CONTENT) A relative sits next to body of one-year-old baby Farah Al-Helo as she lies on the body of her uncle Mohammad Al-helo, killed by an Israeli tank shell early on January 5, 2009, at the mortuary of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City. Israel is intensifying its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

A relative sits next to body of one-year-old baby Farah Al-Helo as she lies on the body of her uncle, killed by an Israeli tank shell early on January 5, 2009.

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A Palestinian father carries his wounded baby daughter into a hospital in Gaza City on January 4, 2009 as Israeli troops continue its ground assault in Gaza. The half dozen hospitals in Gaza cannot cope with more patients and casualties are overflowing out of regular wards into corridors as Israeli troops push deep into Gaza. At least 40 people have been killed since Israel launched the night-time offensive yesterday after eight days of air strikes in which at least 485 Palestinians died and more than 2,400 were wounded, Gaza medics said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

A Palestinian father carries his wounded baby daughter into a hospital in Gaza City on January 4, 2009, as Israeli troops continue its ground assault in Gaza.  The half dozen hospitals in Gaza cannot cope with more patients, and casualties are overflowing out of regular wards into corridors as Israeli troops push deep into Gaza.

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A wounded Palestinian baby is carried into a hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli shells killed at least 12 Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area, medics and witnesses said. Israel has so far carried out over 700 air strikes in Gaza within the last week and over 400 Palestinians are reported to have been killed. From Getty Images.

A wounded Palestinian baby is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Israeli shells killed at least 12 Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area, medics and witnesses said. Israel has so far carried out over 700 air strikes in Gaza within the last week and over 400 Palestinians are reported to have been killed. From Getty Images.

January 4: (two photos, above) Medical workers carry wounded Palestinian babies into the Al-Shifa hospital on January 4, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

A wounded Palestinian woman lies with her baby at the Al-Shifa hospital on December 28, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. On the second day of cross-border conflict, Israel's air force continued to launch attacks along the Gaza Strip, destroying many buildings belonging to Hamas, including holy mosques, civilian homes and vehicles, work shops, police compounds and a prison, increasing the number of Palestians killed to over 270. From Getty Images.

A wounded Palestinian woman lies with her baby at the Al-Shifa hospital.

Palestinian boys wounded by an Israeli tank shell wait for treatment at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009. At least three children were among a dozen Palestinian civilians killed on Monday as Israeli troops pressed home a ground assault on Hamas militants in the face of French-led diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire. The deaths included three children from the Samouni family and their mother when a tank shell hit their home in Gaza city, Palestinian medics said. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Palestinian boys wounded by an Israeli tank shell wait for treatment at Shifa hospital in Gaza January 5, 2009.

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From right to left, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldner, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and EU Foreign policy chief Javier Solana pose for a photograph at Livni's office in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. From AP Photo by DAN BALILTY.

January 5, 2009: Congratulatory spirits prevail among European and Israeli power elites, posing for a photograph at the Jerusalem office of Tzipi Livni, one of three candidates for Israeli Prime Minister in the upcoing Feb. 10 elections.  (PHOTO: From right to left, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldner, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and EU Foreign policy chief Javier Solana).

After all, it took Israel only 18+ months of starving the people of Gaza, and depriving them of medical supplies, water and fuel — along with the two Israeli bombing campaigns (in August and on Nov. 4, 2008, in which Israel broke the terms of the ceasefire) — to finally  provoke Hamas into returning fire (with its pathetically weak arsenal of rockets, sticks and stones) on November 5th, thereby giving the Israel the necessary justification to kick this well-planned war and propaganda campaign into high gear. If all goes according to plan, the politicans up for election in early February will reap the benefits of showing the Israeli people how very committed their parties are to slaughtering Palestinians. The contest boils down to this: which politician promises to slaughter the most Paliestinians? From the expression on her face, candidate Tzipi Livni (above) is feeling a surge of confidence in the wake of the deaths over the past 2 days.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (R) meets in his Tel Avivi offices with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg January 4, 2009 in Tel Aviv, Israel. They meet on the day that Israel begins what it calls it's 'second stage,' the ground troops, of their massive military campaign against Hamas assests in the Gaza Strip. One Israeli soldier has been reported killed and dozens wounded after Israel launched a wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip in an effort to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks against the Jewish State. From Getty Images.

January 4, 2009: Still more jubilation from Livni’s opponent, Israeli Defense Minister candidate Ehud Barak (r), as he hams it up for the cameras in this January 4 photo-op with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (l) in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu talks to Israeli children holding a goat during a visit to a shelter in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. Israel rejected mounting international pressure to suspend its devastating offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza Strip. From AP Photo by SEBASTIAN SCHEINER.

Israel’s third candidate in the upcoming election, Benjamin Netanyahu, takes a different tack altogether in this tender photo-op from last week, as he talks to Israeli children while holding a goat, presumably hoping to impress upon Israeli voters, and the world at large, that he is *not* part of  a cruel terrorist state that slaughters innocents,  but that he really likes children, and (much like his crony, George W. Bush) is rather fond of goats, too.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

The Guardian: Gaza: the logic of colonial power (by Nir Rosen) As so often, the term ‘terrorism’ has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak ….

The Nation: This magazine continues its usual offering of quality journalism in its coverage of this war.  Scan through the headlines to find articles on Israel, Palestine and Gaza.

Chris Floyd: This site offers an excellent collection of reputable news articles on the Israeli attack (along with news articles on the other wars). Today’s installments include an article on Israel’s use of phosphorus shells over civilian populations — a *special* type of bomb that inflicts hideous burns to the flesh. Using these chemical weapons over civilian populations is illegal according to the Geneva Conventions, but Israel has so managed to sidestep this law through clever semantics. (NOTE: Chris Floyd’s website, dubbed “Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the American Imperium,” is an important addition to any newsgatherers “favorites” list. You may need to scan down the page to find the beginning of the articles.)

More reading from the blogs:

Lenin’s Tomb: A credible and informative blog, sourced with sound links, with analysis and history of the Israeli-Palestine conflicts.

Dennis Perrin’s view on Israel, Palestine and Hamas:
http://dennisperrin.blogspot.com/2008/12/killing-floor-expands.html

Jon Schwarz talks about why the UN caves on Israel:
http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/002750.html#more

Bernard Chazelle on the attack as dangerous political strategem:
http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/002751.html

Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

with 2 comments

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

The post, below, is from September 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

UPDATED: If ever the official version of a story did not pass the smell test, it is the case of Aafia Siddiqui. The canarypapers recently published two posts on this case (on August 25th and  on August 29th) in an effort to urge protest against her mistreatment, to urge due process and proper medical care, and to spread what little is known of the facts regarding her case. Here, we offer updates on this case, as made available in the media and various web sites. We are also re-posting information to add your voice to those who are (1) urging a Congressional investigation into the facts of this case, (2) demanding proper legal rights, medical care and humane treatement for Aafia, and (3) demanding an investigation into the whereabout of Aafia’s two children, who are still missing, and demanding the return of her third child — 11-year-old Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen — to her family, as he has been in the custody of Afghanistan intelligence officials for over one month now.

UPDATES: New links added 9/4/08 at bottom of post; new information in green text hroughout post.

UPDATE: New links added 9/8/08 at bottom of post in purple text.

UPDATE: New links added 9/19/08 at the bottom of the post in blue text.

Aafia Siddiqui’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was finally released this week into the custody of his aunt, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui. She described him to be traumatized, afraid and mentally disturbed, but in good health. He has so far given no details on his experiences while in custody. This is according to a Dawn Media Group story. The accounts in U.S. papers (e.g. NY Times, Washington Post) are deplorably inaccurate — for instance, suggesting the boy was Aafia Siddiqui’s ADOPTED son, despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary. This story continues to be heart-wrenching for the utter dearth of factual truth, and for the media perpetuation, without even a modicum of journalistic curiosity, of the myths in this case. The very real human tragedy of this story has yet to be told.

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Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:

(1) Demand a Congressional investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your state representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want (1) an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia    Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that (2) you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International laws regarding prisoners.

(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.

(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor. Siddiqui refused to appear at this hearing, as she refused to undergo the pain and degradation of the requisite full-body strip-search. Her lawyers and court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive (medical) care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. We will give more information on this as it becomes available.

(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site. NOTE: According to a September 1, 2008 report, Aafia is due to soon be transferred to a “better facility” where she will supposedly receive proper medical care. We will update this information as it becomes available.

See the bottom of this post for media updates on the Aafia Siddiqui case

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QUESTION AND ANSWER: Is the writer of this post “anti-American” or pro-terrorism? No. I am pro-human rights, and I am in favor of both due process and the protections provided by the Geneva Convention and (formerly) the U.S. Constitution, as I will explain:

In reading, it has come to my attention that, by making “anti-American” statements in my writings on the Aafia Siddiqui case, I may be promoting the agenda that I am (1) anti-American, and/or (2) in favor of a terrorist suspect attempting to murder U.S officials, Nothing could be further from the truth. First, I write as a U.S.-born, caucasion citizen, a enlightened and spiritual human being with no religious affiliation whatsoever, In fact, my own spirituality precludes identification with any organized religion, as I abhor the long history of violence generated from the divisiveness that seems inherent between religions. I have never met, nor spoken with, or corresponded in any way with a Muslim or any representative of any one from the Muslim community.  In the same breath, I add that I am not afraid of Muslims, the same as I am not inherently afraid of any person, based on their race, creed, religion, ethnicity or nationality. I am not a champion of Muslim causes, per se, except in cases, such as the Aafia Siddiqui case, where human rights are being grossly violated under the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Constitution and the basic common tenets that we should all hold in common, as human beings.

I write as an American citizen who is profoundly saddened, alarmed and, ultimately afraid of the loss of these basic human rights through the Bush Administration’s flagrant disregard of these rights. I would, and I do, extend the same concern and outrage to any trampled citizen of the earth, no matter their race, creed, ethnic origin, or location on the map.  The Aafia Siddiqui case is but one such example. HIstory has shown that — throughout the world, and even withn the U.S. — over-reaching power, when driven by fear and a disregard for establised law, is a dangerous combination. Nazi Germany is one of the most notorious examples, but plenty of precedent exists on U.S. soil: slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the Tuskegee experiment, the Jim Crow era, Japanese internment camps, the McCarthy hearings, and the current xenophobia (hatred/fear) toward Muslims that seeks to paint them all with the “Islamic terrorist” paint brush, thereby justifying a certain persecution of them, and a certain bending of their constitutional rights. There are many in the U.S. who feel that we have come dangerously close over the past 8 years to re-living a similar history to Nazi Germany through the over-reaching abuse of power, under the banner of “the war on terror.” Conversely, that the viewpoint of many Americans is fear-driven (much of this by the administration’s design) and are ignorant of the facts (also by design) has only allowed this abuse of power to flourish. It is a fact, not a conspiracy theory, that this administration has employed duplicity, lies, misinformation and propaganda to promote their lawlessness and to, indeed, prod the American people to condone and cheer on this lawlessness, in the name of doing “whatever it takes” to keep us safe.

We, at the canarypapers, find special exception in the case of Aafia Siddiqui. Here, we have a “terrorist suspect” who is accused of acts which she vehemently denies and, instead, claims that she has been imprisoned and tortured for the past 5 years, more than likely at the hands of U.S. officials in Afghanistan. Her physical, mental and emotional condition easily support this claim, as do the investigations of human rights organizations throughout the world. In this, we must — absolutely must — consider the alternative to the “official” version of her story: What if Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? WHAT IF Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? As stands — and by virtue of the built-in lack of due process for terrorist suspects — the chance of this truth seeing the light of day is slim. As fellow human beings, we must — absolutely must — demand due process and an independent and/or Congressional investigation into this case.

If we — as American citizens — have become so estranged from our humanity, our better selves, that we would condone persecuting another human being out of a fear and anger so great, that we give ourselves authority to presume the facts, rather than allow their proper discovery, then we have become like those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If we believe that it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, then we are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If, in writing on Aafia Siddiqui, I have — in any way — seemed to embrace anti-Americanism, or a terrorist agenda, or have promoted a xenophobia of the Muslim community, it has not been my intention. In fighting for a just America — an America that adheres to both constitutional and international laws and treaties regarding human rights — I believe that I am fighting for the America envisioned by our founders, over 200 years ago, which is a very patriotic and American thing to do. My stance on the Aafia Siddiqui case is mine, alone, and has been influenced by no individual or group, beyond the Aafia Siddiqui, herself, as known to me by the research I have conducted on her case.

We, at the canarypapers, continue to allege, along with her family, her attorneys, human rights groups and many concerned individuals around the world that Aafia Siddiqui is a victim of the Bush Administration’s over-reaching “war on terror” that has secretly and illegally imprisoned and tortured hundreds, if not thousands of citizens around the world. We also allege, against the official versions given on this case, that Aafia Siddiqui was indeed arrested in April 2003, as then-reported (and later denied) by Pakistani and U.S. authorities/the FBI. We further allege that she spent the following 5+ years imprisoned and tortured, with most or all of those years spent in the United States’ notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan, which serves a similar function to Guantanamo Bay, only without the facade of adhering to international laws regarding torture.

Pakistani Protesters Demonstrate on August 29th to Show Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

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If this case is “for real” how come most of us have never heard of it before?

The events and questions surrounding Aafia Siddiqui’s case have received little press in the U.S. media  — a deplorable oversight, given — if nothing else — her deplorable treatment in U.S. custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. Her case is well known, however, in other parts of the world, especially her native country of Pakistan, where citizens have been gathering by the thousands for months now — demanding the release of Aafia and her 3 children from their secret detention. Her case is also well-known to human rights groups around the world, all of whom have reported for several years now, “credible evidence” that she was been held in secret detention facilities by U.S. and ally authorities, most likely in Afghanistan. Her case is also well-known by her own family, who has spent the past 5 years fighting for the truth on her disappearance, even as Aafia’s mother was threatened by Afghani authorities, at the time of Aafia’s disappearance in 2003, and warned to not make a case of her disappearance (the implication being that harm could come to Aafia and her children if the silence was not held).

Aafia’s case was also known to other prisoners at Bagram — by those “lucky” ones who didn’t die at the hands of their captors, or who were later deemed innocent and released after days, months or years of torture. One such “lucky” captor, held at both Bagram and Guantanamo, lived to write a book, in which he detailed the story of Prisoner 650. His story captured the attention of British journalist, Yvonne Ridley — a former “terrorist suspect” herself, who was imprisoned for a short time at Bagram. Earlier this summer, Ms. Ridley investigated Prisoner 650, who came to be known as “the grey lady of Bagram,” for the haunting screams of a woman being tortured in a prison that  — according to the FBI and the CIA — did not detain females. In the wake of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, the public outcry over Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment grew overwheleming. Soon thereafter, she mysteriously re-appeared on a street in Afghanistan and was promply arrested — allegedly carring in her purse an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and maps to NYC landmarks.  The offical versions between the Afghani and U.S. authorities widely contradict each other, particularly regarding the events that led to Aafia being shot several times in the abdomen.

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

The power of protest and why it’s our duty, as American citizens, to do this

If not for the protests of the many concerned individuals and groups, Aafia Siddqui might still be in Bagram. One would think that she might at least receive humane treatment, once on U.S. soil. Not so. She has been denied medical treatment, on the grounds that she is a “security risk” and despite that, according to her attorneys, her condition has being both frail and deterioating, with her wound oozing blood. She has been denied proper medical despite the urging of the Pakistani consulate, her attorneys and her family. It is our duty as fellow human beings and American citizens to continue the outcry. Demand that Aafia be allowed due legal process; demand that she be afforded proper medical care; demand that an independent investigation be conducted to determine the facts about her case; demand that her 12 year-old child, Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen, be released from Afghan custody; demand an investigation into the whereabout of her other two children — her daughter, Miriam, and her son, Suleman — aged 5 years and 6 months, respectively, at the time of their disappearance in 2003.

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UPDATE: Aafia Siddiqui’s court hearing was yet another sad turn in this case, as she refused to attend the hearing — the same as she has refused meetings with her attorneys — solely to avoid the pain and degradation of the invasive, full-body strip searches she is required to undergo before these meetings.
According to one article, Siddiqui’s lawyers and the court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. Aafia’s attorney, Elizabeth Fink, continues to claim, as stated in her letter released this past Wednesday, that Aafia Siddiqui was held by the United States following her 2003 disappearance. Fink wrote that The Washington Post told her of “reliable sources in both the American and Pakistani government who have verified” that Siddiqui was held, first by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, and subsequently by the CIA. The Post declined to comment.

According to prison staff, Aafia spends most of her time in the cell crying, a description eerily similar to the accounts written about Prisoner 650, “the grey lady of Bagram,” who was described in exactly the same terms. Aafia is also reported to be terrified for her three children, and terrified that her 11-year-old son, in the custody of Afghani intelligence officials, is being denied food. Despite repeated requests by her attorneys, and repeated orders by judges in the case, Aafia continues to be denied medical care for her injuries, and continues to be denied psychological care, including a mental health evaluation by a therapist trained in evaluating torture victims. Aafia Siddiqui has fallen through the cracks of international law, and has fallen through the safety net of a U.S. Constitution unraveled by this administration. These facts speak for themselves as much as the speak for the truth that her case is proving to be a worst-case scenario — a case that proves, regardless of its outcome, the consequences of removing the checks and balances from the tenets of human justice. No human being should be allowed to endure the suffering of this particular hell. (see the updated links in green, below)

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A Disclaimer, of sorts, regarding the facts of the Aafia Siddiqui case

We’re no amateurs at researching the goings-on by the Bush Administration. If we’ve learned anything over the past 8 years, it’s that this administration excels in disseminating disinformation. This disinformation is then served up to the American public as if it were news, when, in fact, it’s little more than a PR campaign to promote their various agendas: propaganda, by definition. Under these circumstances, fact-finding becomes an onerous task. One cannot take, on face-value, the offical accounts as given by our government, but must wade through a convuluted trail of (past and present-day) government and congressional documents, reports and investigations, along with independent investigations, individual accounts, and media reports & investigations — most of these drawn from select media outlets elsewhere in the world, where information and perspectives tend to be more factual. Doing this type of research over time, one develops a sixth-sense: something is just not right here; this does not pass the smell test.

As any one who’s ever concoted a big lie could tell you, it’s difficult to maintain a watertight case. Over time, the loose ends begin to fray. Things start to leak. The bigger the lie, the more complicated and, ultimately impossible it becomes to keep the lies straight. As my mother used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

While this administration excels at disinformation, deception and outright lies (while discrediting their detractors, via the ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘terrorist appeaser’ labels) they are fairly sorry at covering their asses. To this end, when they can’t discredit the facts/fact-finders, they will alternately resort to more lies, resort to defamation of character, resort to withholding answers behind a cloak of “security reasons,” and so on. As a last resort, as we’ve recently seen with Karl Rove, they will simply thumb their noses at the Congress and the American public. Because of these things — not to mention that both our President and Vice-President have been accused of myriad war crimes and have been brought up on charges of impeachment for these crimes, all of which were born from sytematic campaigns of lies and duplicity about supposed terrorist activities around the world —  we tend to err on the side not believing the offical statements issued by this administration, particularly regarding their ‘intelligence’ on terrorism and terrorist suspects.  The way we see it, if the Bush-Cheney Administration can cook the intelligence to deceive this country into going to war with Iraq, it would surely be a snap to do the same for an individual human being — which is exactly what many allege this administration has done to hundreds, if not thousands of human beings throughout the world since September 11, 2001.

With the above caveats in mind, we can state with utter certainty that, in our research of the Aafia Siddiaui case, we find that the “official” accounts do not pass the smell test. In recent weeks, we’ve seen various “new” information crop up, bolstering the terrorist charges waged by this administration’s against Aafia Siddiqui: money trails, alleged contacts, her travels, etc. After researching these allegations, we’ve chosen to not provide links to them, as we find no credible evidence to support these allegations, beyond the say-so of anonymous “U.S. officials.”

The fact is (and, if you’ll read/listen carefully to the news, you’ll see that this is true) nearly all of the accusations waged by the U.S. against other countries and individuals in this unholy war on terror have been sourced from un-named “U.S. officials,” nearly always speaking only on the condition of anonymity, usually for ‘security reasons.’ Our belief — and we believe history will one day bear this out — is that each and every official statement quoted by un-named or anonymous “U.S. officials,” (aka White House sources, military analysts, Pentagon spokesmen, etc. ,etc.) was originally sourced from none other than the Grand Poo-Bah, himself: Dick Cheney, the man behind the curtain in Emerald City.

Our own facts about the Aafia Siddiqui case — arrived at through careful research and deliberation — may be imperfect (Is her son 11 or 12 years of age? Is her mother living or not? Where were Affia and her three children before their disappearance in 2003 — en route to her uncles’ house, or in hiding from the FBI’s terrorist alert against her?) Alternately, our facts may be dead-on accurate. One thing for certain: the Bush Adminsistraton did a particularly poor job of covering their asses in this case. Of all the reports and incidents we’ve researched over the past 7 years, the official version of Aafia Siddiqui’s case has been the most convoluted,  the most contradictory, the most gap-filled, the most deception-filled, the most suspicious and, ultimately, the most tragic case we’ve seen.

Worst-case scenario, if she is indeed guilty of any of the charges waged against her, she deserves a thorough, independent investigation into these charges and to the imprisonment and torture she alleges she suffered over the past five years. She deserves the basic human rights afforded by international treaties: the right to due legal process, the right to proper medical care, the right to know what happened to her children who, at the ages of 7 years, 5 years and 6 months were surely not deserving of whatever treatment has since befallen them.

Feel free to question our facts on Aafia Siddiqui. As always, we’re proud of the research we do, and are glad to share it with others.

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LINKS TO MORE RECENT NEWS REPORTS ON THIS CASE:

PakTribune: September 1, 2008 – Dr Aafia to be shifted to better facility soon: US authorities have indicated to the Pakistan government that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is suffering from bullet wounds, will be shifted to another facility by next week, which is less intrusive and offers better medical care.

RadianceViewsWeekly: September 1, 2008 – Musharraf’s Nemesis: What luck for rulers that men do not think, said Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer should know, having proved himself a successful, if rather demented, leader of men. Successive rulers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seem to have been driven by this cynical piece of wisdom….. Perhaps, Musharraf could have gone on and hung on in there for some more time, if only he had not so enthusiastically enlisted Pakistan in Bush’s war. Maybe our man had no option but jump on the neocon bandwagon when Colin Powell made that rather persuasive call on a cold day in September, the day the greatest military power on earth was shaken to its roots. Maybe it has spared Pakistan the fate of Afghanistan and brought it billions in US aid.   But what the country has gained by joining this directionless, disastrous war is nothing compared to what it has lost. Thousands of innocents have paid with their lives for the Bush-Mush war. And God only knows how many individuals like Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-educated scientist, have simply disappeared into the nameless gulags around the world. And the whole country, coupled with Afghanistan, has been transformed into a vast battlefield; the main front of the war that, we are reassured, is being fought for the promotion of Democracy and Human Freedom, whatever that means.

NewsPostOnline: September 1, 2008 – Boy found with “terrorist suspect” Dr. Aafia is her son, but denies: Ahmed, the 11-year-old boy said to have been apprehended along with ‘terror suspect’ Pakistani-American doctor Aafia Siddiqui was identified as her son, although he denies that he is in any way related to her.

(Editor’s note: A reminder: this 11 year-old boy is legally a U.S. citizen. He was arrested with his mother in mid-July. International law forbids treating children as criminals, yet he has been interrogated serveral times by the FBI and has been held in the custody of Afghan’s intelligence service for the past month. Knowing that the U.S. does not necessarily bar torturing the children of terrorist suspects, in order to gain information (see video below), it is haunting to contemplate the circumstances that would lead to an 11 year-old boy to deny being related to hs own mother, while yet being unable to give details on his ‘real’ family.)

ThaindianNews: August 31, 2008 – Afghan Government to Free Pakistan Terror Suspect Dr. Aafia’s Son Soon: After repeated requests from Islamabad, the Afghanistan Government has reportedly promised to Pakistan to return soon one of the three sons of Pakistani scientist and terror suspect Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was arrested in Afghanistan earlier this month and presently being tried in the US for terror charges. The New York-based human rights body the Human Rights Watch had also urged the Afghan government earlier this week to free the child, who is said to be a US citizen by birth.

AFP: August 30, 2008- Afghanistan will free son of Pakistani scientist ‘soon’:  The young son of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui will be returned to his family “soon” by Afghanistan after he was arrested with her more than a month ago, Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said Saturday.

Two letters from Aafia Siddiqui’s uncle, written in 2004: These two letters are said to be written by Dr. Aafia’s maternal uncle, published in Dawn daily English newspaper, Karachi, Pakistan in 2004. These letters offer a detailed timeline of this case, according to her uncle.

UPDATE: New links added 9/4/08

Daily Times: Aafia Siddiqui refuses to appear in court, in protest -Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition.

Voice of America: Mystery Shrouds Case of Pakistani Scientist Linked to Terrorists - A Pakistani woman who is charged with trying to murder U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan refused to appear for her arraignment in New York City Thursday. Defense lawyers say Aafia Siddiqui is unable or unwilling to submit to a required strip-search due to wounds she suffered when she was arrested nearly two months ago and that she urgently needs medical and psychological care. VOA’s Walter Wisniewski has more.

Washington Post: Pakistani Tortured, Her Attorney Says Lawyer Calls for Mental Evaluation — Lawyer Elizabeth Fink told a federal judge in New York that Aafia Siddiqui, who disappeared in Pakistan with her three children in March 2003, needs a full psychological evaluation to determine whether she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is competent to help in her own defense. Fink also urged that Siddiqui, 36, be examined by experts on the effects of torture.

Press Trust of India: Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, suspected of having links with al-Qaeda, would plead innocent to the charges of attempted murder of US personnel during interrogation in Afghanistan in July, her lawyer said.

TheNewsAfghan Government Contacts Aafia’s Sister (Sept. 1, 2008) The government of Afghanistan contacted the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui late on Sunday night and assured Aafia’s sister that they were ready to hand over her 11-year old son Ahmed Siddiqui to the family.

The Muslim News: Alleged al-Qa’ida suspect denied medical treatment (August 29, 2008)  Wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate with her lawyer through a hole at the bottom of her cell door, Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a ghost of the vibrant woman she was six years ago, and looks a far cry from the stark picture painted by US authorities as the vicious al-Qa’ida suspect charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder on FBI officers while in custody.

NDTV Pak-born U.S. scientist’s hearing deferred (September 5, 2008) The indictment hearing of Pakistan-born US scientist Aafia Siddiqui, with suspected links to Al-Qaida, was postponed as she refused to be strip searched. The 36-year-old neuroscientist has been charged with trying to kill the American interrogators after her arrest in Afghanistan. She was expected to plead innocence to the charges. But Aafia could not be brought to court as she refused to be strip searched, which is mandatory while moving prisoners from lock up to court.

Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (UNHSHR): THE GENEVA CONVENTION Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

LINKS ADDED 9/8/08:

GEO TV: Pakistan seeks repatriation of 5 Pakistani held in Guantanamo

Daily Times: Six Pakistani women have fuelled international headlines in the past week. Five of them are the hapless victims of the grotesque live burial that took place in rural Balochistan earlier this month, punished for going against tribal tradition and flouting the will of the men for whom they were mere chattel. The sixth is Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist who was recently indicted in a court in New York “for attempting to murder and assault US nationals” while incarcerated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

LINKS ADDED 9/19/08:

Daily Times - Pakistan (9/14/2008): Asian Human Rights Commission slams detention of Dr. Aafia’s son (Editor’s note: This story was written 1 day before the release of Aafia Siddiqui’s son, as detailed in accounts, below)

Washington Post: Family Frees Son of Pakistani-Al Qaeda Suspect (Editor’s note: Reading this article, the lack of journalistic curiosity in this case is both puzzling and deplorable.That this paper perpetuates the myth that Aafia’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was adopted — despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary — and that his name is Ali Hassan, despite well-publicized records to the contrary, reads more like complicity with the criminal activities of U.S. officials than an account written by the independent media in a supposed democracy.)

New York Times: Afghans Repatriate Son, 12, of Pakistani Indicted in U.S. (Editor’s note: Again, a deplorable lack of journalistic curiosity to report on a case that is so riddled with inconsistencies, that it reads like jibberish. Note also that they persist in calling him Ali Hassan, despite that his name is Mohammad Ahmed).

LA Times: Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of al Qaeda (Editor’s note: Again, a profound lack of journalistic integrity to this story)

International Tribune: Son of al Qaida suspect returned to Pakistan (Editor’s note: ditto the above, although there are a few additonal details included, concerning the name change)

BBC: Detainee’s son handed to Pakistan (Editor’s note: Finally a story that appers to be mostly factual and actually calls the boy by his correct name.)

Associated Press: Afghanistan frees son of al Qaida suspect (Editor’s note: again, another account riddled with inconsistencies, not the least of which is calling Mohammad Ahmed by the name Ali Hassan, one of several name changes given to him by Afghani authorities. What a farce)

Counterpunch: The Horrendous Case of Aafia Siddiqui: Where Are Her Children?

Asian Pacific Post: Family Fear Siddiqui’s Death

DAWN: Aafia’s Son Freed by Kabul, Flown to Islamabad

DAWN: Aafia Siddiqui suffering from psychosis

Arab News: Afghanistan frees son of Pak scientist held by US

Daily Times – Pakistan (editorial) Periscope: The Wrong Side of Right

Daily Times – Pakistan: Pak Senators Refused Access to Guantanamo Detainees, Granted Permission to See Aafia Siddiqui

The International News: Chid of Conflict

Ohmy News: Aafia Siddiqui’s Son Released to his Aunt — Pakistani rights activist lauds deposed top judge for taking up issue

Online International News Network: Fauzia Siddiqui refuses to allow media to talk to Aafia’s son:

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has refused to allow media to talk to Ahmad Siddiqui son of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui saying that he was yet in a state of shock.
While talking to Private TV Channel she expressed Ahmad’s profound happiness on return of Ahmad Siddiqui and said that Aafia’s son name was changed many times. “Though, Ahmad had matured but he was mentally disturbed, therefore, Ahmad cannot be allowed to talk to media, “ She maintained. In response to a question she said that Ahmad Siddiqui would be shifted from Islamabad within two or three days and government was also assisting them in this connection. She also thanked the government for making efforts for return of Ahmad Siddiqui, and expressed her gratitude to media, civil societies and people for projecting the issue, hoping that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui would soon return to Pakistan along with her two other children. Similarly, in letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Interior Minister and other officials she has thanked them for helping Siddiqui family at all fronts.
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Could the Bush Administration Order the Torture of Children and Burying Alive of Prisoners?

A simple yes or no would have sufficed. In this House Judiciary Hearing, White House attorneys John Yoo and David Addington are asked this very question, to determine the administration’s torture policies regarding children and burying prisoners alive.  Yoo and Addington are the two leading architects of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. Their testimony revealed few answers (none, actually), as even the simplest questions yielded evasive sleights-of-hand maneuvers, such as the sort of ‘legal speak’ lawyers are known to employ when evading answering a question. Here, with a 5-minute time limit on the testimony, we see the Judiciary committee members grow increasingly frustrated and, at turns, outraged (accusing Yoo, at one point, of playing “Beat the Clock”) as each attempt to get a straight answer is stonewalled by Yoo and Addington.  Longer versions of this testimony are available on YouTube.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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