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Fri, 27 May 2016
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Famed British historian refuses to accept prestigious Israeli award

Catherine Hall
Catherine Hall withdraws from $330,000 prize due to Tel Aviv University's complicity in the occupation.

Famed British feminist historian Catherine Hall announced she will withdraw her acceptance of a prestigious award presented by Tel Aviv University for political reasons. Hall was awarded $330,000 by the Dan David Foundation, and was supposed to accept the award at a university ceremony held Sunday. The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement called on her and other recipients to refuse the prize due to Tel Aviv University's complicity in the occupation.

Star of David

Religious zealotry waging and winning a quiet revolution in Israel

Israel's national-religious camp, growing in power and influence
In a surprise move, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Mr Yaalon warned: "Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel."

He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens.

But Mr Yaalon was also condemning extremism closer to home, in Mr Netanyahu's Likud Party. Mr Yaalon is to take a break from politics. With fitting irony, his slot is to be filled on Likud's backbenches by Yehuda Glick, a settler whose goal to destroy Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple has the potential to set the Middle East on fire.

Israeli commentators pointed out that, with Mr Lieberman's inclusion, the government will be the most extreme in Israel's history - again.

French prime minister Manuel Valls, who began a visit to the region on Saturday, is likely to face an impregnable wall of government hostility as he tries to drum up interest in a French peace plan.


Fragile infrastructure: Michigan declares energy emergency as gas shortage looms over holiday weekend

© Larry Downing / Reuters
Michigan is rolling out a convoy of gasoline trucks as the state braces for a possible fuel shortage over the upcoming holiday weekend. The governor has declared an energy emergency, extending truckers' work hours to ensure gas supplies.

"We want to make sure the fuel Michiganders need for their travels to work, school or a long weekend trip is available," the office of Governor Rick Snyder (R) said in a statement as he issued Executive Order 2016-10. "This executive order will help ensure there are no artificial shortages of fuel impacting the state's residents or visitors."

The governor cited the shutdown of a fuel pipeline in Wisconsin and an unplanned outage of the Marathon refinery in Detroit as the two main reasons for the State of Energy Emergency in Michigan.

Eye 1

Smaller cities across the U.S. opening high-tech 'Real Time Crime Centers'

© AP/Dave Collins
Real-Time Crime and Data Intelligence Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Comment: Surveillance has become so common place, people aren't even disturbed by it anymore. The media spin the idea as a positive step forward, a better way to protect and serve the citizens. 'Big brother' is spending millions of dollars keeping tabs on the U.S. populace for a reason. A fascist state draws power from mass surveillance with the predictable result of discouraging dissent, creating a more submissive population.

Not just surveillance - Orwell's 1984 is an instruction manual for the state

Michelle Plante scoured a surveillance video for clues, trying to identify the man seen shooting at someone in a Hartford playground recently in broad daylight. Luckily, no children were there, and the man fled into a nearby house after missing his target.

Plante, who works in the new Real-Time Crime and Data Intelligence Center for Hartford police, determined the address of the house and who lived there. She ran names through databases, hoping to determine the name of the shooter.

Similar work is going on across the country at police real-time crime centers, where walls of flat-screen monitors are fed by surveillance cameras, and computers take in data from shotgun detection systems and license plate readers. Intelligence from the centers is sent to officers on the street, helping them find suspects and avoid harm by having crucial, real-time information, police officials say.

In Hartford, Plante quickly found a booking photo of one of the residents of the house who looked like the shooter. That information gave police a major lead they may not have had otherwise. Authorities say they are now building a case against the man.

New York City opened its Real Time Crime Center - the first of its kind - in 2005, and other large cities followed suit. Smaller cities are now opening their own centers after acquiring surveillance cameras, gunshot detectors and other technology. Civil liberties advocates, meanwhile, have privacy concerns and are calling for better regulation of police surveillance operations.

Heart - Black

Insult to injury: Teen mob beats man unconscious and bystanders steal his wallet

© Google maps
Harrison Street at Harriet Street in San Francisco
First came the injury — and then the insult. After a man was beaten by a mob of teenagers in San Francisco, left sprawled unconscious on the ground, police said two bystanders walked up to him and stole his wallet and other belongings.

Police are looking for the six boys and girls, described as 15 and 18 years old, in connection with the assault that left the man in a coma.

The victim, a 29-year-old from Hayward, was attacked early Friday at Harrison and Harriet streets near the Hall of Justice. He had just left a bar and was walking alone.

"Glass bottles were used, but it was mostly punching and kicking that led to his brain injuries," San Francisco police spokesman Carlos Manfredi told KPIX-TV.


Head of TSA sacked amid furor over long lines at airport security

© Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Passengers stand in line to go through a TSA security checkpoint as they head to their flights at Reagan National Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration ousted its head of security this week because the agency is seeking a "different approach," not because of any wrongdoing, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Tuesday.

Kelly Hoggan was removed from his post amid an uproar over long lines at airport security checkpoints and intense scrutiny of bonus payments. Neffenger said he hoped to find another place "for Hoggan's talents" within TSA.

"Given the specifics of daily volume, I felt it was important to have a different management approach going forward than we've had in the past," Neffenger told USA TODAY. He said his goal was to gauge how to move travelers more efficiently through lines, rather than just faster.

Comment: See also:


3rd largest jail system in U.S. sued for jailing people too poor to pay bail

© Wikipedia
701 Jail of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
The Harris County Jail, the largest jail system in Texas and the third largest in the US, runs a strict detainment system that jails people too poor to pay bail, according to a new lawsuit.

People are detained at the Harris County Jail irrespective of whether they can afford a bail amount and without the assistance of a defense attorney or the ability to argue on their own behalf, according to a lawsuit filed by the group Equal Justice Under Law.

"Harris County's wealth-based pretrial detention system violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution," the lawsuit says. "It has no place in modern American law."

The Washington, DC-based nonprofit is calling for an injunction to halt the current bail system, according to the Houston Press. The lawsuit names Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman and five bail-hearing magistrates who, the lawsuit alleges, rarely inquire if a detained person can pay the bail set for them, which is required by law.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Maranda O'Donnell, 22, a mother of a four-year old who was arrested for allegedly driving without a proper license and then jailed for two days at the Harris County Jail because she could not pay $2,500 bail. O'Donnell and her daughter live with a friend and rely on federal assistance for food. She was scheduled to begin a restaurant job, but her arrest put the position in jeopardy.

Comment: 40 reasons U.S. jails and prisons are full of black and poor people

Stock Down

Despite better socio-economic status, White Americans have far higher mortality rates than Hispanics

A fascinating and disturbing paper from Princeton social scientists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reveals a shocking deterioration of health among what can be called, to echo Michael Harrington's famous 1962 book on poverty, the Other White America.

The Other White America is made up of the approximately 55 million white non-Hispanic American adults who have no formal education beyond high school. This group compromises a little more than one third of all white non-Hispanics, and includes more than one in every five American adults. If it were an independent nation, the population of the OWA would be larger than the adult population of every European country other than Germany.

The deteriorating health of the Other White America is seen most clearly among its middle-aged residents. In a development that has almost no precedent in the public health statistics of advanced economies, the mortality rate for middle-aged whites with no more than a high school education actually increased by 22.3 percent between 1999 and 2013. This increase correlates closely with educational levels: Over this same time, the mortality rate of middle-aged whites with at least a BA degree fell by 24 percent, which is consistent with the rate of decline in mortality in the rest of the population, both in the United States and in other developed nations.

Arrow Down

Brother of 'Guantanamo Diary' author denied entry to US, sent back to Germany

© acluvideos / YouTube
Yahdih Ould Slahi holds up a photo of his brother Mohamedou in a May 2016 video by American Civil Liberties Union.
US authorities detained, interrogated and sent back a German citizen flying in to campaign for the release of his brother - author of the best-selling "Guantanamo Diary," who has been imprisoned and tortured at the US camp since 2002.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi's memoir, heavily redacted by government censors, was published in 2015 and quickly became a best-seller. The Mauritanian native was arrested in 2001 and rendered to Jordan for interrogation by the CIA. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay the following year.

His younger brother Yahdih, a German citizen, has campaigned for Mohamedou's release for years. Yahdih was supposed to attend a number of events in the US this week, seeking to persuade Guantanamo's Periodic Review Board to set Mohamedou free at the June 2 hearing.

Comment: See also: America's prison system looks more and more like its torture sites


Culture of cruelty: North Carolina mother outraged after teacher duct-tapes 9-year-old son to desk

A North Carolina elementary teacher who allegedly duct taped a student into his desk will not face criminal charges, though she resigned from her position after the child's mother complained.

Lynda Santamaria told WSOC her son's classmate at Knollwood Elementary School in Rowan County recorded three videos last Friday of the unnamed teacher using duct tape to restrain her 9-year-old son, and one allegedly shows the boy with tape around his body and chair.

School officials confirmed the incident occurred, but acknowledged only one of the videos that does not show the child with tape on his body. The video shows the student in his seat, with tape running from one side of his desk behind his chair to the other side of his desk, according to the news site.

School officials and the Rowan County Sheriff's office allege the teacher never placed tape directly on the boy's body, but Santamaria contends the other videos clearly show otherwise.

"There was another video where she was putting tape on his stomach and the back of his chair," the mother said. "There were three videos," she told WLTX. "One was tape around the ground as a boundary for him. The other one was a video where she was putting tape around his desk and chair, and another one where the tape went around his stomach and the chair."

Comment: Public education and hystericized society: For children in the U.S., school is the first indoctrination into the American police state