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The 'Shministim' of Israeli Youth: 'We Refuse to Serve in the Occupation Army'

shiminstim israeli youth
© Dafna Rothstein Landman
Dafna Rothstein Landman told Common Dreams she'll go to jail before she'll serve in the Israeli Army.
Sixty young people sign open letter to Netanyahu announcing their resistance to the draft in biggest wave of refusal since 2008

"If necessary, I will go to jail."

Those are the words of 17-year-old Dafna Rothstein Landman, one of 60 and counting Israeli youth who signed an open letter sent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend declaring their refusal of compulsory service in the Israeli military - the biggest wave of conscientious objection the country has seen since 2008.

Under the banner of Shministim - Hebrew for 12th graders - the group of conscientious objectors condemns the dehumanization of Palestinians living under occupation. In the Palestinian territories, "human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis," their letter states. "These include assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water."

Entitled We Refuse to Serve in the Occupation Army, the letter charges that this dehumanization hurts Israelis as well. "The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli society too: it shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination."

"We refuse to forsake our principles as a condition to being accepted in our society," reads the joint letter, penned by people aged 16 to 20 who are eligible for compulsory service in the Army. "We have thought about our refusal deeply and we stand by our decisions."

Dafna, who helped write the letter, told Common Dreams she was only 15 years old when she began questioning her military service - a process she says was catalyzed when she reflected on the imprint of Israeli militarism on her own schooling experience. "I realized to what extent the education system is geared towards the Army and not towards further education, the job market, personal interests, etcetera," she said.

Soon after, she began traveling from her home in Tel Aviv to the West Bank, where she participated in Palestinian demonstrations against Israeli occupation. Here, she witnessed the "violence of the Army" first-hand. "I met people from those Palestinian villages," she said. "That meant that instead of names in a newspaper they became people, with faces and personalities."

She added that she became aware of the way "the Army perpetuates an ideal of male violence," within Israeli society.


Why are there so many mean, anonymous commenters online? (Answer: N-S-A)

© Timeglassjournal.wordpress
Novelist Anne Rice, best known for her books about vampires, has signed onto a petition asking Amazon.com to stop allowing people to post anonymous reviews. In an interview with the Guardian, Rice says the "anti-author gangsters" make her a victim of bullying.

It doesn't take long to find a cruel, anonymous comment on everything from newspaper websites to Yelp and Amazon.

"That's the stupidest book I've ever read," wrote one person while reviewing a novel on Amazon.

Well-known vlogger, ZE Frank, recently taped a YouTube video responding to online critics. In it, he says: "For example, some young gentleman said he wanted to punch me in the face because my voice was so annoying."

A Pew Research study found 25 percent of people admit to posting anonymous comments online. A communications professor at the University of Houston studying the issue found anonymity contributes to less civil discourse. He looked at online comments in newspapers for more than a year and half and found 53 percent of comments were uncivil in papers that allowed anonymity. That percentage dropped to 29 percent when newspapers required names or links to Facebook accounts.

Comment: Trolls just want to have fun?
Do not feed the trolls: Online trolls are psychopaths and sadists, psychologists claim
CIA media infiltration is real: From Operation Mockingbird to Pentagon social media trolls


Massachusetts Police State: Fall River man arrested for videotaping police officer

George Thompson: Recorded a police officer who was out of control!
A Fall River man says he was recording a police officer who was out of control, but instead, he was arrested and his cell phone was seized.

Now the video he recorded is gone. Police say he erased it, even though they were the ones holding the phone.

George Thompson says last January he was just sitting on his front porch, watching a Fall River police officer working a paid detail. Thompson says the officer was on his phone and was swearing very loud.

That's when Thompson pulled out his phone. Thompson says Officer Tom Barboza then rushed him and arrested him, charging him with unlawful wiretapping.

But in Massachusetts it's perfectly legal to record video and audio of a public official, including police, as long as they are performing their duties and the recording isn't hidden. Barboza's own police report shows that Thompson acknowledged he was recording the officer.


Kentucky churches cripple children's home - $7m in funding withheld over LGBT hiring policies

hungry children
© Shutterstock.com
A line of homeless children being fed by a charitable group. Photo: , all rights reserved.
Sunrise Children's Services is working to recover from a massive budget shortfall after Kentucky churches withheld $7 million because the children's home had proposed ending its policy of discrimination against LGBT employees.

Bill Smithwick, the then-director of Sunrise Children's Services, proposed last year that the home allow employees who were openly gay and lesbian over fears that government funding would dry up.

After churches in Kentucky began withholding their donations, Smithwick was forced to resign, and the children's home did not change its policy.

But the damage was done, and Sunrise Children's Services was already facing a $7 million budget shortfall, according to WDRB.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention, which approves of the anti-LGBT policy, is now back in the Sunrise's corner. The convention has launched a fundraising drive telling churches that it's once again safe to donate.

"Now that our churches have confidence in the leadership of Sunrise and the direction of Sunrise, we'll give them the opportunity to re-invest in this ministry to children," Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood told WDRB.

However, the policy of discrimination puts Sunrise at risk of losing government funding, which provides 85 percent of its $27 million budget.


Steve Irwin could not have been saved, says witness to stingray attack

Steve Irwin
© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Steve Irwin realised that the stingray's barb had punctured his lung but not his heart, Justin Lyons told Australia's Network Ten television.
Cameraman tells of moment Australian naturalist's chest was repeatedly pierced by barb, and his last words - 'I'm dying'

The only person to witness the moment Steve Irwin was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb said the injuries were so severe that the Australian TV naturalist could not possibly have been saved.

Justin Lyons, a regular underwater cameraman for Irwin and a close friend, said the jagged barb punctured Irwin's chest dozens of times, causing a massive injury to his heart. "He obviously didn't know it had punctured his heart but he knew it had punctured his lung," Lyons told Australia's Network Ten television.

"He was having trouble breathing. Even if we'd been able to get him into an emergency ward at that moment we probably wouldn't have been able to save him, because the damage to his heart was massive. As we're motoring back I'm screaming at one of the other crew in the boat to put their hand over the wound and we're saying to him things like, 'Think of your kids, Steve, hang on, hang on, hang on.' He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said."


Oscar Pistorius vomits as Reeva Steenkamp wounds described

Oscar Pistorius
© Unknown
Pathologist says bullet to girlfriend's head was probably fatal, with ammunition designed to mushroom on contact

It was cold, clinical, scientific testimony that finally robbed Oscar Pistorius of his composure.

A pathologist's report from the witness stand of the austere courtroom, detailing the devastating impact of three hollow tipped bullets on the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, was punctuated by the gutteral sounds of the sporting celebrity gagging and vomiting repeatedly into a bucket.

While Pistorius has mostly retained his self-possession as a succession of neighbours and an ex-girlfriend gave evidence against him, it was the dry, technical language of professor Gert Saayman that hit him hardest. He was bent double in the dock, hands on his ears as if trying to block out the words, his body in visceral pain and violently sick.

The scene unfolded on the sixth day of the "blockbuster trial" in Pretoria where the testimony was deemed so graphic that judge Thokozile Masipa banned live coverage of it on radio, television, Twitter and blogs.


English lower classes don't read: Deep cultural divide in reading habits

mother reading to child
© Alamy
Research shows 'significant' link between a family’s reading habits and a child’s future attitude to reading
Researchers identify significant link between deprivation and not reading books

New research shows a stark and "worrying" cultural divide in the UK when it comes to reading, with half the country picking up a book at least once a week for pleasure, and 45% preferring television.

The England-wide survey of the reading habits of 1,500 adults conducted by DJS Research for Booktrust [PDF] says that on average, the higher the socio-economic group that someone is in, the more often they read: 27% of DEs never read books themselves, compared with 13% of ABs, while 62% of ABs read daily or weekly, compared with 42% of DEs. Reading charity Booktrust, which commissioned the research, believes its findings should serve as a warning that "Britain's divided reading culture is a barrier to social mobility".

The study indicates "links between deprivation and not reading books", said Booktrust, with those who never read living in more deprived areas, with a higher proportion of children living in poverty, and those who read less "more likely to be male, under 30, and have lower levels of qualifications, happiness, and satisfaction within their lives".

One respondent, a male who fell into the survey's 30-44 years age bracket, told researchers: "The fact is, it's 2013 not 1813. We have electricity now so we can buy DVDs and watch television rather than read books. Books are for an older generation, younger people on the whole do not read books."

Comment: Perhaps the more symptom of having been subjected to an ineffective, underfunded education system that has failed to pass on the true value of reading. That beside the pleasure of reading, there is also the greater knowledge and awareness that may be gained.

Cell Phone

New York mother assaults 3-year old daughter for microwaving cellphone

© Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News
Krystle Reyes appears at her arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. Reyes is charged with assaulting her child at a Hell's Kitchen shelter for battered women after she claims the 3-year-old microwaved the mom's cell phone.
A mother was arrested this week, on charges that she assaulted her 3-year-old daughter after the child destroyed her cellphone by cooking it in the microwave oven.

Police sources told CBS 2 that Krystle Reyes, 28, was arrested at her apartment on West 49th Street in Hell's Kitchen at 5 p.m. Thursday, after neighbors called 911 to report a commotion.

When officers arrived, they found the girl in the bathtub with a cut below her right eye, as well as bruises on her back, right arm, left ear and neck, sources said.

Reyes told police she grabbed the girl by the arm, placed her in the tub and smacked her, sources said.


Pussy Riot members publicly shamed by citizens with green paint and rubbish

© Dzhavakhadze Zurab/Itar-Tass/Corbis
Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) and Maria Alyokhina, who were attacked in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Video shows men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina in McDonald's restaurant in Nizhny Novgorod

Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot were attacked by a group of men who poured rubbish and bright green paint over them and shouted obscenities at them at a McDonald's restaurant.

A video, uploaded by the group on Thursday, shows at least three men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, shouting "[Go] to America!" and shooting paint into their faces from syringes in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

"It hurts! Why are you doing this?" Tolokonnikova says, with green stains on her face and hands. "You don't have the right to hurt me. Please don't do that to anyone anymore."



Blaze at Hartlepool Snooker Centre treated as 'unexplained'


Picture by Paula Hudson Teesside Alert
A blaze which has destroyed the roof of Hartlepool Snooker Centre is being treated as unexplained.

Police and fire investigators are set to probe how the fire started once the two-storey building on Green Street has been made safe.

Six fire crews from across Teesside were drafted in to help tackle the fire which took hold from about 3.30am this morning (Sunday, March 9).

Part of the main road in the town, the A689 westbound, remains closed and gas and electricity supplies nearby were shut off as a result.