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Palestine: Riding The Bus Towards Freedom

palestine freedom riders
© Unknown
Restricted mobility is one of the main obstacles experienced by Palestinians living under occupation. A couple of months ago, a Palestinian friend told me how she overcame this obstacle when she had to go to Jerusalem on an urgent matter, without having the Israeli permit usually required. She simply did what many of the settlers in the West Bank do when they want to go to Jerusalem; she took the "public" bus. Because the settler buses travel on Israeli-controlled roads and through settlements where Palestinians are not allowed to enter, these buses and their passengers are not inspected in the same way as Palestinian buses are at checkpoints entering Jerusalem. This - and not least of all her incredible courage - got my friend all the way to Jerusalem. She told me how she simply pretended like she belonged there, even though her heart was in her throat the entire ride. When she got in, one of the male settlers yelled at her. Apparently she had sat down in the wrong seat, so she got up and sat somewhere else. When the bus was boarded by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint she put on her sunglasses, acted a little snobbish and gave them the impression that she had all the right in the world to be there.

Even though it required a great deal of courage and acting from her side, my friend was not wrong; she does have all the right in the world to be there. The segregation of the Israeli road and bus system discriminates against the Palestinians who have far from the same mobility as Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. By only serving Israeli settlements and not Palestinian areas in the West Bank, the bus companies are discriminating against the Palestinians. Parallels can be drawn between this apartheid-like system and the segregation policies in the United States in the 1960s, which is exactly what six Palestinian activists did on November 15, as they boarded Israeli public bus number 148, connecting the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel to Jerusalem.


You can't Occupy Newsnight

Taking a quick look at part of a recent Newsnight discussion about the Occupy movement. Journalist Laurie Penny and former partner with Goldman Sachs Richard Sharp (recently recruited as an adviser by the Conservative Party) speaking with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis, 17 November 2011.


Pregnant Woman Blasted with Pepper Spray and Hit in Stomach by Seattle Police Department has Miscarried

ows,pregnant,pepper sprat
© Joshua Trujillo / Seattlepi.comA woman who gave her name as Jennifer and said she was two months pregnant is rushed to an ambulance after being hit with pepper spray at an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at Westlake Park. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. An 84 year-old activist was also hit with spray.

One of Occupy Seattle's outspoken activists who blogs under the name Ian Awesome has a post up this afternoon about the pregnant woman who was hit in last Tuesday's pepper spray attack by Seattle police:
On the 20th, Jeniffer Fox received news that she has miscarried, and alleges the miscarriage is due to the injuries she received during the police action on the 15th.
"It hurts. It's upsetting. I was ready to have a kid, because my family was going to support me in taking care of the child. Her name was going to be Miracle."


As the floods recede, Bangkok blame game begins

© Apichart Weerawong/APA Thai couple and a dog ride on a floating material through a flooded road in Don Muang district of Bangkok, Thailand, on Nov. 14.
Thailand - One of the most striking things about the Thai floods is the sheer ingenuity people have shown to simply get around.

I've seen all manner of aquatic contraptions, from rafts made from empty drinking water bottles to crafts fashioned from larger plastic drums, with a bicycle mounted on the deck driving a home-made propeller through the increasingly fetid waters.

Thailand's National Science and Technology Development Agency even ran a competition called "Mobility in the Time of Flood," which attracted 89 entries and was won by another bicycle-driven raft cobbled together by a bunch of students. The Bangkok Post devoted most of its back page to the contest Tuesday under the headline "Amateur Inventors to the rescue."

It provided a note of humor amid increasingly angry recriminations over who's to blame for a deluge that's swamped a third of the country and killed more than 600 people. The floods have also affected some 10,000 factories, and hit the global supply chain for automotive parts and hard disk drives.


US man jailed for making child pornography at school

A former elementary school principal in Iowa was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to one count of producing child pornography involving students at his school, officials said.

Robert Burke, 43, admitted that as head of the school in Dubuque, Iowa, he had "used hidden cameras in the school bathroom to secretly capture videos depicting the genitals of male students," said the US Justice Department

Burke also admitted to saving the videos on computer hard drives at his home.

He was uncovered after an FBI agent in Washington downloaded eight images of child pornography that were traced back to Burke's residence, officials said in a statement.

Burke insisted he "not touched any children in a sexual manner," and US officials said they had no evidence that contradicted that claim.

A forensic examination of Burke's computer equipment also "revealed no evidence that Burke shared the videos he produced at the school," according to the statement.

Along with 360 months in prison, Burke was also fined $25,000.

"As an elementary school principal, Burke was in a position of trust and authority over his students," said US Attorney Stephanie Rose.

"He took advantage of that trust, and he used his position of authority to exploit the children he was supposed to protect."

Evil Rays

Amid million-man march, Egypt military OKs new government, elections

Cairo - As a swelling crowd of tens of thousands continued to fill Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday, Egypt's ruling military council agreed to form a new government that will hold a presidential election before July, bowing to protesters' demands for a swifter transfer of power, politicians who met the army said.

The politicians who attended the discussions in Cairo also said that a parliamentary election, scheduled to start on Nov. 28, would go ahead as scheduled after violence during protests against the ruling military council cast doubt on its timing.

"Presidential elections to be held by the end of June and the final preparations for handing over power by July 1," Emad Abdel Ghafour, head of ultra-conservative Nour (Light) party, told Reuters, adding that he expected the vote on June 20.

Other politicians also said the election would be held by July 1, but did not give a date for the voting.


School Murder Scandal Shocks France

The French government has condemned the judiciary's handling of a teenager accused of rape who went on to murder a girl from his boarding school.

© ReutersAgnes's burned body was found in a forest close to her school
The boy, identified as Mathieu M, 17, had spent four months in jail for raping a minor in southern France.

He had been under judicial supervision. The school said it had not been fully aware of his past.

Last Friday, the body of Agnes, 13, was found in a forest close to the school. She had been raped and burned.


South Korean lawmaker fires tear gas in parliament amid anger at US trade pact

Seoul, South Korea - South Korea's parliament ratified a long-stalled free trade deal with the United States on Tuesday after ruling party lawmakers forced a vote amid shouts and shoves from opposition rivals.

Comment: As free trade largely benefits transnational corporations, it's refreshing to see that some lawmakers still care enough about the consequences for ordinary people and understand that such trade agreements go against their national interests. With revolution sweeping the world, Kim Seon-dong may end up being a hero to ordinary South Koreans in the near future. Sadly his act did not seem to awaken the South Korean parliament.


US, North Carolina: Woman kills 2, injures 4, then kills self

© unknownMary Ann Holder
Mary Ann Holder wanted to see her married former flame one last time as their bitter love triangle threatened to open a new and potentially costly chapter in court.

The meeting ended with Randall Lamb, 40, being shot and Holder, 36, taking her own life Sunday. Later, police found that Holder gunned down five children, including her two sons and the older boy's girlfriend. Two of the five died, and three others were listed in critical condition Monday.

Investigators were trying to unravel the violent chain of events and understand why Holder took out her rage on children. Holder left notes taking responsibility for the shootings and apologizing for the pain she was causing, Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said. The notes also indicate Holder was angry about how her relationship with Lamb ended.

"They were obviously shot for the purpose of killing them. You can call it an execution, you can call it a shooting, you can call it whatever you want. The result is the same," he said. "We may never know exactly what her thoughts were and why."

Heart - Black

US: Plea deal in California gay classmate killing

A Southern California teenager pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder for killing a gay student during a computer lab class three years ago in a plea deal that will send him to prison for 21 years and avoid a retrial.

Brandon McInerney, 17, pleaded guilty to the murder charge, as well as one count each of voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm, said Ventura County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Frawley. McInerney is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19.

The case drew wide attention because of its shocking premise: McInerney, in a fit of homophobic rage, killed 15-year-old Larry King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard because he was offended by King's dress and how the victim interacted with him.

Larry King's father, Greg King, told KABC-TV he understands why prosecutors agreed to the plea deal.

"I don't think that 21-year sentence is justice for my son, but I understand the reality that was facing the DA of trying to convict a defendant who was 14 ... when he committed the murder," Greg King said.